Friday, June 30, 2017

Hooked On Phonics Master Reader

Years ago I purchased the Hooked On Phonics Master Reader set and really never used it until now. I used the Hooked On Phonics with all six of my children when they were learning how to read along with Before The Code and Explode The Code. These along with Rod and Staff Phonics was a great bundle in order to get my kiddos reading very well. My sixth and last child who has some significant health issues and Sensory Processing Disorder has had a bit more of a struggle with reading. Part of it may also be that she is the last born, baby of the family and very laid back with regards to academics. She feels absolutely no need to excel or compete with anyone. Anyways, this is where the Master Reader set comes in. I know that she is more than capable of reading at grade level but the motivation just isn't there. I dusted of the set and about two months ago we began working through the program. Our set is at least ten years old if not older. The computer CD's that came with the set are not compatible with my computer so we are not using that part of the program. I have been pleasantly pleased with her progress with the program. She has confidence and is progressing at a great pace.

There are four levels to Master Reader. Each level has very interesting stories about topics such as animals, famous people, historical events, and topics of significant interest. After each level is complete your child will read a chapter book.

The chapter books are very interesting and definitely keep a child's attention. The stories are a series so it leaves off where the previous story ended.

I absolutely love this program. I love that the reading selections have meat to them and are not just silly, meaningless stories. Your child will actually gain a great deal of knowledge from what they read. The chapter books are great too. I would most definitely recommend this program to others. The program says that it is for 2nd through 6th grade.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hewitt Homeschooling ~ A Review

Hewitt Homeschooling  offers a balanced, flexible, and complete approach to homeschooling. My daughter has been working through the Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set over the past weeks. This set covers literature, comprehension, grammar, and composition.

You can purchase the whole set including the books on the site or you can purchase the curriculum and get the books elsewhere. 

The novels covered in the 3rd grade set are:
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall
  • Rickshaw Girl
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Ramona and Her Father
  • The Big Wave
  • Charlotte's Web
  • The Tale of Despereaux 
Exposing your children to great literature is essential to a well rounded education. From the early classics such as Winnie the Pooh to upper level novels such as Jane Eyre reading great literature is a huge part of our homeschool education. I was so very excited to get this literature set and set out on the many adventures awaiting us. My daughter is more than capable of reading these books on her own but I chose to read some of them aloud or take turns reading with her. All of the books chosen for this level were great choices. Third grade is a bit of a pivotal transition year and Hewitt chose 3rd grade to be the year to choose only chapter books for their selections.

My daughter was excited about all of the book choices. I am glad that some of the books have been made into movies because I want my daughter to see that more than not the books are far superior to the movie. My daughter was already familiar with most of the books. Several we have already read in the past but never did anything beyond just reading them. My daughter was most excited about reading Charlotte's Web because she loves the story so much.

"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer."
~Charlotte's Web~

Student Workbook
The student workbook is very colorful and 3rd grader friendly. The curriculum is set up based on a 4 day a week schedule with the 5th day for enrichment. Days 1-4 are clearly labeled at the top of each page. Some of the books like The Big Wave will only take a week to complete while others will take a couple of weeks.

Activities included in the student workbook include:
  • fill in the blank
  • short answer
  • diagramming 
  • puzzles
  • arranging
  • underlining and identifying 
  • listing
At the end of each novel that your student reads they will write short answers to the following questions:
  • What this poem is about
  • What I think of this poem
  • My favorite line is

In between the novels your student will read and analyze poetry for The Random House Book of Poetry. Just like reading the novels your student will complete activities on Day 1-4. At the end of the week they will answer the following questions:
  • What this poem is about
  • What I think of this poem
  • My favorite line is
Hewitt does a fantastic job at having the students interact with the poems beyond just reading them. Students are encouraged to memorize some of the poetry. They will learn about the different genres of poetry and be introduced to basic poetry definitions.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought
and the thought has found words.
~Robert Frost~

The poetry book chosen is a great addition to the 3rd grade set. Children at this age are like sponges and this is the perfect time for memorization. Beyond just reading the student really learns to interact with the poem. This is also a great time to learn about the poets behind the poems. The book is filled with whimsical pictures. Some of the poems are very short while others are a bit longer. Students are encouraged to try their hand at writing their own poems. 

At the end of the student workbook there is a section entitled Dictionary Pages where your student can write new words that they learn throughout their study. 

Teacher's Guide
I was very impressed with the detail that the guide provides the teacher. The guide starts out with a section entitled, How to Use this Teacher's Guide, that explains each part of the curriculum explaining what your child will learn as well as the reasons behind the methods used. For example when talking about discussion questions it states that your child will have questions of various types. Some of the question will be literal questions taken directly from the reading. In addition to the literal questions your child will be asked to answer inferential, evaluative, reflective, as well as predictive questions. These questions help prepare the student for more advanced academia. 

A section entitled, Tailoring This Course to Your Needs covers topics such as the reluctant or struggling student to the student that may need to be challenged a bit more. Enrichment activities given on day 5 encourage the student to explore the book or poem in greater detail. The enrichment section allows the student to explore the author, content, and concepts found in the reading into areas such as science, history, and art. 

For example, while reading the book Rickshaw Girl your student is challenged to learn about Bangladesh. A fun suggestion is to see if your city has any bicycle rickshaws that you can catch a ride on. 

I would most definitely recommend this curriculum to others. This was a great fit for our family and I will be purchasing the next level once we complete this one. 

"The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightening bug."
~Mark Twain~ 
To read more reviews click here.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peter Becomes a Fisher of Men

VBS 2017

Whoever serves Me must follow Me and where I am, My servant also will be.
My Father will honor the one who serves Me. 
~John 12:26~

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

UnLock Math ~ A Review

My son has been working through UnLock Geometry from UnLock Math over the past weeks. UnLock Math currently have courses in Pre-Algebra through Geometry with Geometry being its newest course. Eventually they plan on adding more advanced courses to their course line-up. This is an online program so there is no disks, downloads, or software to install. The founder of UnLock Math, Alesia Blackwood is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and is certified in Intermediate and Senior Divisions of Mathematics and Computer Science. Both Alesia and her husband Matthew wanted to create a math curriculum to take the stress and frustration out of math for both the parent as well as the student. They created UnLock Math with the vision for it to be INTERESTING, ENGAGING, AND FUN!

UnLock Geometry has 15 units which cover:
  1. Prerequisite Skills
  2. Logic & Proofs
  3. Distance & Length
  4. Angles, Lines & Transversals  
  5. Triangles
  6. Polygons
  7. Circles
  8. Circles Pt. 2
  9. Perimeter
  10. Area
  11. Geometry in the Coordinate Plane
  12. Triangles Pt. 2
  13. Transformations
  14. 3D Geometry & Volume
  15. 3D Geometry & Surface Area
The course layout is very easy to navigate. Once logged in your students progress will be saved. Your student can check their progress and the parent or teacher, with their separate log-in can access their students progress. 

Each lesson includes the following path to completion: 
  • Warm Up 
  • Video Lesson
  • Practice Problems
  • Stay Sharp 
  • Challenge Yourself
  • Reference Notes 

The video lessons are long enough to explain the concepts without being too long that the student gets bored. As the teacher lectures examples are shown on the screen. Your student can pause the lesson or rewind if they need to listen to the subject material again. The videos are entertaining and definitely not boring. 

Problems are given one at a time in order to not overwhelm the student. After each problem the student click the NEXT button to move on to the next question. If the student gets a specific problem wrong an explanation is given underneath each problem and the student is asked to verify that they read through and understood how to do the problem. 

After completing practice problems your student can look at the completed lesson problems that display the problem, answer, and either a green check for correct or a red x for missed. This gives your student another chance to review the problems. 

The Stay Sharp section reviews past concepts to ensure that your child is constantly reviewing. Challenge Yourself is a section that is all about thinking outside of the box. They really can stump you! These are extra credit problems and do not count against your student. They are simply there to challenge your student.  

At the end of each lesson the student can view Reference Notes which are pretty much a written print out of the video lesson. This is very helpful for the student that needs extra help or needs to look back on past lessons at concepts that are a bit foggy. 

 Built into the curriculum are quizzes, unit tests, a midterm, and a final exam. UnLock Math is a complete curriculum. On average each lesson takes about 30 minutes to complete. The courses can be completed in a period of about 9 months if lessons are done consistently. In the past I have had some issues with one child saying that they have completed something when really they hadn't. These courses keep your child accountable. The dashboard shows exactly what has and hasn't been completed. Whether your student struggles or excels in math this online curriculum is great because your child can go at their own pace. 

My son has tried many different math curriculums over the years. What he likes about UnLock Math is that he can go at his own pace. He can listen to the videos more than once if needed. Problems are able to be reviewed and he really liked the fact that there was a written lesson summary. He liked that their was unlimited practice and review. 

Upper level math can often be intimidating for the homeschool parent. Alecia definitely takes the stress out for the parent. The only drawback that I can think of is that there are not a lot of practice problems in each lesson. For the student that excels in math this is fine but for the student that needs a good deal of practice there may not be enough problems to ensure that concepts are fully understood. With that said, I do like that past concepts are reviewed as part of each lesson. I will say that having 6 children I do find that sometimes some students learn a lot better actually writing out problems verses just giving answers on a screen. Again, with that said, it would be very easy to have your student keep a notebook and have them write the problem and solve them on paper.  

**I wanted to add an update to my review. I was either unaware or just didn't realize but Practice Problems are only 10 questions in order to not "kill & drill" but for the student needing more practice, EVERY time they click on the practice problems it will give new questions.** Thank you UnLock Math for the prompt feedback. Great customer service and follow-up! 

This online curriculum is definitely set up to help the student succeed! 

I would most definitely recommend this program to others. You can go to the website and view a sample lesson. Go check UnLock Math. 

To read more reviews click here.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rush Revere ~ A Review

My children have enjoyed our reading time as we have been working our way through the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series from Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. Follow substitute history teacher, Rush Revere and his talking horse Liberty as they go back in time to experience history in action. Together, along with his students, make history come alive. I would put a grade level at about 4-6 grade. With that said some children may be able to read these books without a problem much earlier. 

These hardcover books have thick pages that somewhat resemble parchment paper. There are colorful pictures throughout the books both historical and story character based.

Rush Revere's name is really Rusty but he got his name because of his love for history. When he was younger his favorite class was history and he would rush to history class. He rushed wherever he went and eventually his teacher started calling him Rush. 

In Book 1, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, Mr. Revere and Liberty travel back in time as the Mayflower is about to set sail. Aboard the Mayflower they meet pilgrims as they bravely set out for the New World. Tommy and Freedom are along for the adventure and meet William Bradford, Myles Standish, and Squanto. The pilgrims share why they are willing to risk so much to leave their homeland for America. 
In Book 2, Rush Revere and the First Patriots, the group travels back to the time just before the American Revolution. They meet American patriots, Ben Franklin and Patrick Henry, and hear firsthand why standing up to King George III of Great Britain was so important in their fight for freedom.
In Book 3, Rush Revere and the American Revolution, the adventure continues during the Revolution. This time student Cam, along with Rush and Liberty, meet more exceptional Americans like Dr. Joseph Warren, John Hancock and George Washington. Cam's father who is deployed with the military gains insight into what true freedom truly means. 
In Book 4, Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner, Rush Revere, Liberty, and some of his students visit Washington, D.C. to learn about the foundation of American government. They meet Dolly Madison and witness the writing of the national anthem. They encounter Redcoats and visit historical landmarks. 
In Book 5, Rush Revere and the Presidency, Revere along with Liberty and fellow students learn about American elections and meet early presidents such as Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. What does it take to be a true leader? 
My children and I have had so much fun reading about the many adventures of Rush Revere. History truly comes alive with the retelling of historical based stories. Rush Limbaugh has a way of making his readers feel like they are experiencing these adventures with Rush, Liberty, and the students from Manchester Middle School. Tommy, the quarterback of the football team and class clown is also a closet brainiac. Freedom, who was born on the Fourth of July, is a bit of a free spirit. All of the books in the series enlist the same main characters. Using his smartphone and the classroom projector students experience history as it is happening. It isn't long before some of the students discover Rush and Liberty's unique ability to travel back in time.
"Rush, rush, rushing to history!" The travelers are transporting back in time through the time portal. 

I read the books aloud to my 3rd and 5th grade kiddos. My 8th grader read the books on her own. So often I find my kids saying that learning history is BORING! I was very excited when given the opportunity to review these books. I am not a fan of the typical textbook learning style. We learn history by reading autobiographies, historical fiction, and history based books. Several years ago my daughter received the first book in this series and she talked about how much she liked it. Up until this review I had never taken the time to read any of these books. Wow, what a mistake that was. Not only did my younger kids love the books but I did too. Many times I would hear my children asking me to read more, more. The books kind of suck the reader in, in a good way.

My 9 year old said, "I was not too excited when my mom said that she was going to read me these books. I thought they were going to be very boring but they weren't! I learned so much about history. I really like Liberty the horse. He is SO FUNNY!! I had fun listening to the many adventures that Rush and the kids had. I really like the online coloring. The quizzes were not that hard." 

My 11 year old said, "I love reading but wasn't sure I wanted to read history. After listening to my mom read to my sister I really got into the books. History isn't my favorite subject but learning through historical fiction is pretty fun. There are so many fun activities on the website. I liked the timed word scramble. I wasn't too excited when my mom printed out the study guide stuff but I actually learned alot."

My 14 year old said, "I read the first two books in this series when they first came out. I really liked them and was excited to finally get to read the rest of the series. I do not particularly like history. Reading about history with autobiographies and historical fiction is my favorite way to learn history. These books are great!" 

The website has a CRAZY AMOUNT of wonderful educational resources and enrichment activities to further your students experience. A few of the extras include Education Depot,
Homeschool Depot, and Activity Depot.

The quizzes a a great way to ensure that your child is comprehending what they are 
reading or what is being read to them.  

I LOVED this section. There is a full study guide with activities and 
answer keys for each book in the series!

Beyond the study guides there are reading enrichment links that give your
student a more in depth look into specific topics such as Founding Fathers, US Government,
Geography, and Presidents. 

The books along with the website study guides and enrichments would most definitely provide a school years worth of history. Since the books appeal to all ages it would be easy to use the program in a homeschool setting with all of your children. I plan on continuing through the series with my kiddos and utilizing the website. This series is FABULOUS and I would highly recommend these books not only for educational purposes but also for leisure reading. 

The books came bundled with a blue ribbon embossed with the words, "Adventures of Rush Revere." I cut the ribbon up and we are using the ribbon as bookmarks for the books. 

To read more reviews click here. 

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Dear Mazie

This past weekend my 9 year old daughter decided to write a letter to Mazie. It was so sweet and 
helped me to get into her head a bit about her thoughts about Mazie. 

Did you know that I have a whole section of pictures on my wall of you? I liked it when you came to our house. I had so much fun at the lake house with you. Mazie, you are bite sized just like me. I am like the size of you, kind of like a granola bar, that is bite sized. When you get older I can get my blood taken with you. Don’t worry not your blood my blood. I can hold you. You can cuddle me and I can cuddle you when I am sad, mad, or missing mama too much. Whenever I go to HopeKids events you can come with me! You can come to church with me. When I am having a hard time with homework you can sit by me and cuddle. I don’t like MATH. We can play tug of war. That is my favorite dog game. You can come to stores with me since you will be a service dog. We can grow up together.


Confetti Eggs