I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Friday, August 19, 2016
When our FlipStir puzzle arrived from Enlivenze LLC I had visions of my extremely talented children eagerly pulling the Statue of Liberty out of the box and sitting right down to figure it out like the experts they seem to think they are. A mom can dream, right? I mean, my kids are gamers and robotics engineers and they know oh, so much more than I do, so I figured they'd be able to solve this new challenge in no time at all. It's a "simple" Level 2 puzzle so it would be a breeze. Ahem.
The actual moment we pulled the puzzle out of the box went something like this:
"What is that, Mom?"
"I've never seen anything like it at all."
"So, where'd you get this?"
"Does it open?"
"Can I have a go at it first?"
"I don't think I can do this."
"Hmmm . . . this is a bit harder than it looks."
I LOVE it. How about you? The FlipStir puzzle IS a bit harder than it looks. It's complicated -- in the most FUN way possible. It's insanely addicting and incredibly unique. A puzzle in a jar with no pieces or parts to lose, a FlipStir should be in every gaming cupboard around.
So what is it and how do you use it? Do you remember that hugely popular fad from way back when that involved a colorful cube divided into nine little squares on each side? It was a three-dimensional game/puzzle that folks carried with them everywhere as they worked to learn to solve it in no time at all. It was candy for the BRAIN if you will. AND . . . the FlipStir puzzle reminds me of exactly that -- only it's all separated into individual pieces and placed in a jar. Yep! You read that correctly. You need one because, for goodness sakes, it's a PUZZLE in a JAR. Who woulda thought? It's candy and DESSERT for the brain. Bring it on.
This puzzle-in-a-jar is ready for you to flip, stir, shake, and solve anytime, anywhere. We took ours on the big family vacation last month and passed it around as we traveled in the car. We shared it with the cousins in the cabin and took it out on the balcony to work on, too. I took it last week on our Girl's Only Getaway and everyone took a turn with it on the beach. What an easy-peasy way to occupy your mind. And this week? I had a slight injury at church and have spent some time recuperating in bed. The FlipStir has been my companion as I lay on my side. It's perfect, too, but just like that childhood cube puzzle, I'm still trying to get it right.
|A go-anywhere companion|
Did you see the picture of the Statue of Liberty puzzle at the top of this review? That. That is what the completed puzzle is supposed to look like. But this. THIS is what it looks like when I've got my hands on it.
|a jumble of liberty|
I love the concept. I love the challenge. The little footed wand pictured below helps you guide the pieces into place. It's fun. It's educational. It's intense. My OT Grad Student even thinks it's a neat little therapy tool and she's trying to claim it for her own.
Trust me. You want one of these fun and educational toys at your house and in your car. And just think about what an excellent Christmas present it will make. For even more information about finding the perfect FlipStir puzzle for your family and friends, please visit the following Social Media sites:
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Schoolhouse Review: CTC Math HomeschoolMembership #hsreviews #omeschoolmath #mathtutorials #videobasedmath #onlinemath
I stumbled across CTCMath a few years ago when a friend suggested I give it a try with my kids. We were in a math slump at Long Leaf Academy and nothing seemed to be working to pull us out of it. At first we were all enamored with the neat Australian accent of the instructor (Mr. Patrick Murray), but that quickly gave way to a complete enamoring with the full CTCMath Homeschool Membership. At that time, I had all four of my children working through the CTCMath program. These days, we are down to only two homeschoolers -- both in high school -- and we are super excited to be back with CTCMath. Seriously excited.
So what is CTCMath? What makes it different from other math curriculum that we've tried? How are we using it today? And how do my children like it this time around? I'm so glad you asked.
CTCMath is an online math curriculum that offers programming for students in Kindergarten through High School. This includes all of the "basic" maths PLUS Algebra I & II, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Geometry, and Trigonometry. There are several different membership plans for single students or multiple students in a family (up to 10 students with the Homeschool Membership) that include payment options for one month at a time, 6-months at a time, or 12-months at a time. The price point is quite affordable and the results that I see as my children work through the program make it well worth the money we'll be spending. The pricing is better the longer you sign up, but even sweeter is that my Eagle Scout and the Princess actually LIKE math when using CTCMath. I don't know about your house, but that's pretty high praise at mine and makes all the difference in the world in how our days play out and how we choose to spend our money.
Students work at their own pace through the assigned math. Even better, with your paid subscription, you receive access to ALL of the math courses offered at once. The Eagle Scout is currently working on Trigonometry and plans to also complete Calculus this year. The Princess is currently working in Geometry. The program is video-based with step-by-step instructions and explanations. Students watch a lesson, work through problems and receive immediate feedback in the form of grades. They can speed right through the course working as many lessons as they choose and finish quickly (like my son) or they can take it nice and slowly -- watching and re-watching each portion of the lessons until they completely understand the material and are able to satisfactorily work the corresponding problems (like my daughter). What I like is that CTCMath takes each and every individual student right where they are and helps them to improve their skills as they go. There is no pressure and awards are given as students progress. I absolutely LOVE the affirmations given to students as they learn and succeed. The "awards" are simple certificates that congratulate your child on successful completion of each topic. It lists the percentage correct, the topic covered, and the course and can be printed if you would like to include it in a notebook or portfolio. Obviously, I like when my children reach the Gold Level Standard.
Another of my favorite features of CTCMath comes in the form of accountability for my children. By logging onto the parent portion of the website, I can easily see their actual activity on-site. I know exactly when they log in, how long they stick around, what lessons they are working on, and what percentage of problems they answer correctly, I can see a running total of lessons completed overall and the grade they have earned thus far at any given time.
In addition to the easily accessible parent portion of the website, weekly reports are emailed to me to let me know exactly what my children have accomplished. I am able to easily hold them accountable for their schoolwork as we discuss the reports as presented to me by CTCMath. You know, you can't really argue with the facts. When a weekly report arrived that showed "No Activity" for a certain child, we were able to quickly address the issue of responsibility. Hmmm . . . I was quickly assured that it certainly won't happen again. Not only that, but my husband can choose to receive the same weekly reports which offers even more incentive for my children to stay on task. Together we make a great team as we work to educate our children and ensure they learn what they need for college.
Truly, my children were thrilled with the opportunity to review CTCMath again. The program was familiar and welcomed eagerly back into our lives. We are thankful that our old friend is home again.
For even more information about making CTCMath a part of your family and learning how it can help your children succeed in math, please visit the following Social Media sites:
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Schoolhouse Review: Beric theBriton #hsreviews #HeirloomAudio #BericTheBriton #LiveTheAdventure #BringingHentyBack #AudioAdventures
We were headed out on our big family vacation and I made sure to pack Beric the Briton -- the newest audio adventure by Heirloom Audio Productions. If you've followed this blog for very long at all, then you know how much we enjoy listening to all things put out by Heirloom Audio Productions. We've listened and learned and LOVED each of the audio dramas that we've been able to review (Under Drake's Flag, In Freedom's Cause, With Lee in Virginia and The Dragon and the Raven) and each one just gets better and better.
Beric the Briton offers Christian heroes for children and adults of all ages as it invites listeners to step back into history at the height of the Roman Invasion. Beric and his friend are kidnapped, brainwashed as gladiators in the Roman regime, and expected to perform their duties without question. They see death and experience the LIGHT of JESUS and their world simply turns upside down.
This audio drama is EXCELLENT but I would be remiss if I did not mention that it is very battle intensive. My kids are high schoolers so it was no big deal for us, but if you are planning to listen with younger children, you might want to listen alone first in order to either forewarn them of battles to come or edit as you listen. There is a fight scene in the beginning of the production between Beric and attacking wolves and the sounds of wailing, whimpering dogs is eerily intense. Another thing to note, Beric prepares his men for battle by teaching them exactly how to fight to win. It is well done and realistic as they prepare for war.
The story line is full of action, adventure, and forgiveness, love, loyalty, and mercy. The voices are familiar, people you'll recognize from other places -- but for us, it's not about the actors. It's more about the way in which they take us to far away places and share the love of GOD as they bring history to life. (Although my kids always think it's pretty cool to hear actor's voices from some of their favorite movies and programs -- shows like Star Wars, Dr. Who, Braveheart, Downton Abbey, and The Lord of the Rings to name a few -- so I'm sure your kids will enjoy finding family favorites as they listen along, too. You'll definitely want to get your own copy of the audio drama the to find out all of the rest.)
For purposes of review, we were also given access to the Live the Adventure e-Newsletter that encourages us to see the history of the world through the hand of GOD. It is well worth reviewing and reading. We have also enjoyed listening to the beautiful soundtrack by composer John Campbell (33 mp3 tracks) and were thrilled to receive an eBook copy of Beric the Briton: A Story of the Roman Invasion by G.A. Henty (389-pages). We are already planning to begin reading it in August and we'll be comparing it to the audio drama version in our literature studies. These and other resources are available to you as well when you purchase your own Beric the Briton Christian radio theatre production.
We enjoyed listening to the audio drama uninterrupted as we traveled and my children think the Study Guide (50-pages) is pretty cool, too. The Study Guide has three sections of study for each track on the CD. The Listening Well questions cover listening comprehension as they test what students remember, The Thinking Further questions direct students to research topics discussed, and Defining Words strengthens vocabulary skills. Illustrations and historical references throughout serve to deepen the understanding and comprehension so that students truly grasp the history behind the story being told. There are real-life pictures of famous monuments and places, recipes to make at home, links for virtual tours, and other activities to engage your students in adventure and guide them to make memories that will help keep history alive. The Scripture references throughout the Study Guide are spot-on and the Bible studies at the end (The Importance of Studying History, Thou Shalt Not Kill, and One Way) are phenomenal. I really like seeing the lightbulbs come on as my children make the ah-ha connections between things they've learned in Sunday School and church and things they've learned in history. It is especially amazing when they realize how it all fits together. Catacombs, Nero, Paul, lion's dens, and the burning of Rome -- this is good stuff.
You can find out more about Beric the Briton and Heirloom Audio Productions by visiting the following Social Media Sites:
Beric the Briton Facebook
What a great way to finish out the summer and begin the new school year -- listening together for educational entertainment while introducing history through a Christian approach. We love Heirloom Audio Productions and are so glad that we've been introduced to these exciting audio adventure dramas. Why don't you join us in the invasion of Rome? Order your copy today so you can LIVE THE ADVENTURE! with us.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
We were introduced to Writing with Sharon Watson a few years ago and it has become an important part of what we do. I was elated to receive a copy of The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition for my Eagle Scout this year and couldn't wait for him to begin. Writing isn't his favorite thing to do (is it the favorite of many 17-year-old boys?) and I was looking for an easier way to help him prepare for college-required writing than what we were currently attempting. The frustration was real. And assignments were no fun.
Enter Sharon Watson's The Power in Your Hands which attempted to make writing (even nonfiction writing) more fun. Now, you already know that Sharon's Writing Fiction [in High School] was a game-changer for our family and that her Illuminating Literature fed my kids desire to learn more and read more, so is it really any surprise at all that The Power in Your Hands is a winner, too? Seriously, I cannot truly begin to explain how very much I appreciate what Sharon brings to the table at Long Leaf Academy.
So, what exactly is it and how is it making a difference at my house?
The Power in Your Hands is a thorough (oh, boy is it thorough!) writing curriculum that walks students through the entire writing process from beginning to end. From "thinking & planning" to penning a "personal narrative," students are encouraged to tell their story. They learn how to introduce the setting (time and place), create the proper mood with word imagery, add smooth transitions, and share in such a way that their story makes sense to the reader. Written directly to the student, this Second Edition textbook motivates learners to share who they are and develop their writing in such a way that readers will see significance in what they read and be able to learn something as well. Practice lessons are built right into the pages of the text with directions to write, write, write -- in the margins, on blank spaces, in notebooks and journals. Writing prompts and checklists throughout the text keep my guy interested in what he's asked to do. He likes answering "do you agree" questions and finds the writing ideas presented interesting, funny, inspiring, sad, motivating. All of the above.
The topics are relevant and bring a smile as he works. When writing to persuade, my son enjoyed the reminders to avoid common mistakes. Sharon presents a list of seven "don't"s (Don't insult a person or entire group of people, Don't wander off your subject, Don't go on and on, Don't contradict yourself, Don't rant and rave, Don't write without evidence; don't exclude facts, Don't threaten your audience.) and has students read letters written to the editor that portray each don't. This is funny stuff. And the perfect way to get a stubborn teenage boy's attention.
Divided into seven Parts, the 23 Chapters plus writer's toolbox of resources teach not only the basics of writing, but also how to self edit and proofread (marks and all). Scripture references are woven throughout the curriculum and they serve as excellent spiritual reference and direct my son to research GOD's Word more thoroughly. This momma likes that.
The Student Book contains 417-pages of solid teaching. The lessons are student-directed which means prep time for me is minimal. The conversational tone helps make complex material easier. The curriculum is appropriate for beginning writers, intermediate writers, and accomplished writers alike. The 223-page Teacher's Guide contains copies of all student assignments and checklists and this new edition even has grading rubrics for each of the essay assignments. The Grading Toolbox explains how students can earn an A, B, C, D, or F on assignments and shares examples for each grade of work. Sharon makes this all oh, so easy. She shares tips for the teacher and explains exactly what your students have been instructed to do. You CAN read the Student Book for yourself or you can rely solely on what she tells you in the Teacher's Guide. Easy peasy.
One of my favorite parts of this curriculum is found in the lists of writing prompts for students. The 14-Minute Power Surges Program offers daily ideas to encourage your student to write, write, write. Students simply write on the given topic for 14 minutes. Topics include all types of writing (poetry is even assigned at times) so there is certainly something here for everyone. We use these Power Surges prompts in conjunction with The Power in Your Hands as a way to easily get the creative juices flowing. They seem to break the ice for my son.
Now, writing has not become the all-time favorite at my house (yet!), but it is definitely not the drudgery that it once was. The Eagle Scout will be continuing with this curriculum as we step into his Senior year and the Princess will be joining him for her Sophomore year. The text is a one-user book, so I'll be ordering her one of her own next month. I'm excited to have them both advancing their writing skills in a way that doesn't involve the gnashing of teeth and wailing of boredom that we've dealt with in the past. I appreciate Sharon's style and the way she inspires my kids to be and do their very best.
Sharon makes it super easy for you to determine just how beneficial her writing course will be for your high schoolers by offering you free samples. Oh, and one more thing: I personally love a physical copy of curriculum at my house, but if you prefer an eBook Version at your house, there is one available. Please check these out -- it will make a huge difference in the preparedness of your high schoolers for college. I'm seeing a world of difference in my son's writing.
For even more information about Sharon Watson's WONDERFUL writing and literary options, please visit the following Social Media pages:
I was given the opportunity to review The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition by Writing with Sharon Watson as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below) and you'll see how it worked for families with children of all different ages and artistic skills.