Category Archives: Education

Elementary Plans 2019-2020 (5th Grade)

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Upper Elementary Classes - 5th Grade classes

Miss J is in her final year of elementary school – 5th grade. I can’t believe how quickly this has gotten here! She is such an exciting student – her imagination and interests are fun. She is also a very distractable student so we do struggle with staying on task. She benefits greatly from taking a brain break every 30-45 minutes and getting some wiggles out. She has really benefitted from the mini-trampoline (or exercise rebounder as it is called by the company) in the living room so that she can take those quick breaks. She also takes breaks that involve riding her bike around the neighborhood or practicing her dance or creating with legos. These help her stay strong and get refocused.

Her plans are exciting to me because many of them are just exactly what she wants and is interested in.

Math – CTCMath is what she will be using for 5th grade. The short video based lessons are a good fit, giving her challenge and practice without busy work that other curriculums have. You can read our review of CTCMath that we recently posted.

Language Arts/Literature – Miss J will be using Hewitt Homeschooling for her literature course. We reviewed it a couple of months ago and I really like the way it works for her. It keeps her focused on what she needs to think about and asks her to delve a bit deeper into what might be motives and reasons characters act/think/respond as they do. She is currently working on the book The One and Only Ivan. She will also continue to use the 5th grade level of the Reading Eggs workbook that we are reviewing. The short lessons (5 – 10 minutes) focus on comprehension, spelling, and grammar. She also has access to the online Reading Eggs program for some games and activities.

Science – Bird studies are on the program for this year. I just bought some field guides and handbooks that will be fun. We have a bingo program and we have a scheduled time for weekly birdwatching, which will involve her keeping a field journal. She wants to learn to identify more birds and something more about their anatomy. We have a couple of documentaries that we will be using, as well as some picture books. There are also some interesting bits on birds on SchoolhouseTeachers.com that we will access. (SchoolhouseTeachers has a good sale going on for a couple more days. Don’t miss it!)

History – She will continue with the USA Pack to learn two states a week. She also wants to do a timeline so we will be pulling the timeline out of the Home School In The Woods study on the Middle Ages that Miss E has been working on and add it in for Miss J. These two things will create an interesting combination of history but it is of interest to her so she will learn quite a bit. Again, there are some videos on SchoolhouseTeachers.com that we plan to use to go along with, in addition to a neat resource I did a review of (but didn’t publish on my blog) called History Bombs.

Art – Visual art is going to be done using a combination of Creating A Masterpiece drawing lessons and ARTistic Pursuits for upper elementary. I am actually going to be doing a lot of her teaching with these, but giving her the opportunity to create works of art.

Music – She has a current desire to learn the guitar. At Home Dad will be doing some teaching with her three times a week and expecting daily practice. We’ll see how long this interest lasts. . .

Dance – She will be taking four dance classes a week, so about 3 hours of dance. This will be a great PE time for her as she really enjoys it.

That is it for Miss J’s plans for her final year of elementary school.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a fabulous resource that we turn to often for supplementing our courses or finding new areas of interest. From full classes to supplements, there is something here for students of every age and one subscription is usable for the entire family. Click on the image to head over to SchoolhouseTeachers.com to learn more.

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Upper Elementary Classes -5th Grade

Life Skills Are What, Exactly? ~ Not Back to School Blog Hop

Life Skills are What Exactly

We have chatted about the WHY of teaching life skills and some ideas about how to be intentional about life skills. Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty –

What exactly are “life skills”?

To be as simple as possible – the skills needed to live life.

Now simplicity is often good but in this case, it is too vague for me. So, let talk.

The skills can be broken down into areas or topics, if you feel you need a check list. I have seen an excellent lists, broken down by age appropriateness, followed by skill types: practical skills and personal/interpersonal skills. I have seen random lists with life skills listed (think 40 things to know before you turn 18). I have seen the question asked on social media with everyone chiming in their own thoughts. Any of these ways work!

Let me share my thoughts on skills, as they are coming out today. (Note: this is today; tomorrow may very well create a different list or new ideas. That is a beautiful thing about life skills – that list can grow and change and be personal.)

PRACTICAL SKILLS:

  • anything related to cooking: the actual cooking and baking, reading a recipe, measuring, taste testing, serving, setting the table (formal and informal), menu planning, grocery shopping, grocery budgeting, canning, preserving food,
  • anything related to house keeping: laundry (sort, wash, dry, fold, put away, iron, hang), dusting, picking up, caring for and repairing furniture, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, gift planning/shopping/wrapping, budgeting, bills, cleaning the bathrooms, doing the dishes,
  • anything related to the outside care of the home: mowing, edging, caring for and repairing the mower or other tools, plant care, gardening, planning the garden and learning what will grow, purchasing and planting, fence care, fence repair, vehicle care and maintenance, vehicle repair (not even just doing it yourself but knowing where and when to take it in), painting,
  • anything related to the long-term maintenance of the home: changing air filters, having the AC/heat unit checked and maintained, painting, taking care of the foundation (in Texas during the heat we have to make sure the foundation has plenty of moisture around it or we get cracks in the foundation)
  • anything related finances: writing checks, maintaining a checking balance, obtaining and using a credit card, bills, setting up utilities, investing, choosing a bank or investment company, saving money, “rainy day” funds, getting the cars inspected and registered
  • anything related to health care and insurance: finding a company for health and for car insurance, knowing how to read the statements, knowing what you have to pay for and what is covered, dealing with things like prescriptions or doctor visits, dealing with auto insurance claims
  • I am sure there are plenty of categories and items that I haven’t listed out here. But this list could be humongous if I wrote out every item.

PERSONAL/INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

These are quite a bit harder to put into categories or like items. For me, it includes things like keeping your temper, speaking kindly, helping others, and such. This includes writing thank you notes, writing invitations, being responsible for personal items, personal care, and interacting with older adults. This could be done through something like taking a meal to a family or serving with Meals on Wheels, volunteering at a library or teaching a class. Taking the initiative to make sure others in the youth group know about an activity you think they would enjoy attending is another way you might see this growth happening. You might see your child talking to the visitor at church or introducing themselves to a child who looks lonely at the park.

Do _life_ with your child

Not long after I decided on my topic for this blog hop, my friend Brenna Rhodes gave a talk at church about what her family calls Real Life University. Guess what it was about? Yep, this – life skills. She had a great list of what they expect their kids to know and learn and some great tips. It was just the encouragement I needed for this series. And, yes, she gave me permission to quote her and share some of her ideas. One of the things that she said that I really liked was this:

Develop every talent God gave them to the best of your ability. Do not “put them in a box.” 

So I need to ask myself – am I doing this? Am I helping my children develop EVERY ability God gave them? Am I passing along the wisdom and skills they need as adults? This is how they will grow to be great spiritual warriors and servants in God’s kingdom so I certainly need to be.

I have found that the more I look for ways to see these life skills being learned, the more I notice. They are everywhere and often happen naturally. I am working on being more purposeful with the documenting of these skills and will share more on that tomorrow.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the ideas, tips, and encouragement you will find from all the other bloggers who are participating in this week’s NOT Back to School Blog Hop. Below are some links to their blogs but if you want their post from today, click on the image above to get the link up for today.

CREW @ Homeschool Review Crew2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

Chareen @ Every Bed of RosesABC of Homeschooling

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag Adding Fun to Your Homeschool Day

Erin @ For Him and My Family Large Family Homeschooling

Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens Learning Life Skills

Monique @ Mountain of Grace HomeschoolingHomeschooling the High School Years

Monique D. @ Early Learning MomHomeschooling With Autism

Yvie @ Homeschool On the Range 5 Days of Upper Grades Homeschooling

Abby @ Making Room 4 One More – Time Management for Homeschool Moms

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool5 Days of Homeschool Questions

Amy @ the WRITE BalanceYear-Round Schooling

Annette @ A Net in TimeHomeschooling.

Betty @ Lets Get RealHomeschooling High School

Cassandra @ My Blessed MessEclectic Homeschooling

Kimberley @ Vintage Blue SuitcaseRoadschooling with a Teenager

Yvonne @ The Life We Build5 Days of Relaxed Homeschooling

Destiny @ Some Call It DestinyEncouragement for the Homeschooling Mom

Karen @ Tots and Me…Growing Up Together –  A Peek into Our Homeschool

Cassie D @ Deputie TribeHomeschooling 6 Taking Care of YOU

Kristen Heider @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach Theme: A Quest for a Great Homeschool Year

Patti Pierce – Truth and Grace Homeschool AcademyMy Favorite Homeschooling Things

Wendy @ Life on Chickadee Lane5 Days of Nature Study

Jacquelin @ A Stable BeginningHomeschooling my final 4 

Christine @ Life’s Special NecessitiesYes! You Can Homeschool Your Special Needs Child

Sally M – Tell the Next GenerationTips for Homeschooling Struggling Learners

How To Be Intentional About Life Skills ~ Not Back to School Blog Hop

How to be intentional about life skills

As you begin to think about being intentional about teaching life skills to your children, be prayerful. Ask God to direct your thoughts, to guide your ways. This is the best way to begin anything, really, so why would teaching life skills be any different. Keep in mind your purpose for teaching these life skills. Yesterday, I shared with you why we want to be intentional about teaching life skills to our girls.

Today, let’s chat a bit about what intentionality might look like.

Action words come to mind for me first:

  • look
  • listen
  • see
  • hear
  • read
  • talk
  • work
  • walk
  • act
  • practice
  • and we could go on.

A friend I know and greatly respect made this statement about being intentional and teaching life skills:

Let them help. Let them grow. Let them learn. If it is important enough for us to do, it is important enough for the children to do alongside us. – Brenna Rhodes

That really struck me. It isn’t always easy to have a child working alongside you. As an example, we just finished putting the doors and knobs back onto our repainted kitchen. Having Miss J help me was time consuming and slowing. It was slowing to teach her how to set the doors against the hinges, to screw them in, make sure they are tight, keep from dinging the new paint job, etc. Yet, she now knows how to add hinges to things like doors that might need it. She can look at how a door should go against a cabinet and tell if it is aligned right. She can tighten a screw without stripping it out. And then we did the knobs and pulls. The first few, I’ll be honest – I was worried she was going to scratch the finish because of how the pulls sit. She didn’t, though. Not one. She listened and was so very careful that I felt somewhat foolish that I had worried.

This is just one example of letting them come alongside me in my work, to do what I am doing and learn to do it on their own. Another example is going to be evident on the blog during our next round of Blogging Through The Alphabet. I have asked the older two girls to write the posts for me. They are going to split up the letters and choose favorite books to write about for older students, including designing an activity to go along with that book. I enjoy writing on the blog and so I figured, I’ve been doing this for a few years now, it is time to get them involved. Miss E and Miss L have each done a little bit once in a while but this will involve so much more – deadlines, writing for an audience that isn’t mom or sisters or dad, fitting the writing to a purpose and idea, creating a graphic to go along with it, thinking about activities that other students would enjoy and designing around that, learning how to format for the blog, and so much more. But this is a life skill in the digital age, isn’t it? Not necessarily the blog format but all the other stuff? Those are life skills, I am doing the Blogging Through The Alphabet anyway, so why not use the opportunity to teach them these life skills.

I hope you are seeing that I am trying to include the girls in what I do every day. Yes, learning how to care for a house or mow the lawn or do the laundry are important skills. But life skills are so much more than that.

Did they have a great class with someone? Have them write a thank you note.

Did they enjoy the sermon? Stop and talk with the preacher about what they really liked about it, the point that they got from it.

Did they can pickles? Allow them to share the jars with others. Miss J took all but one jar of the first batch of pickles we did and gave them away. She wanted to share her bounty with others. We may be buying pickles this year but that’s okay. Her skill of giving, showing love, talking to others (She had to give each person the jar and tell them what they were, where they came from, and why she was giving them pickles.), planning (She wrapped each one with a ribbon and had to remember to take them.), and so much more.

Do they want to learn a skill you don’t know? Allow them to ask around in safe community places (church would be where we begin) to see if there is someone who could teach them. This is how Miss L ended up in debate last year. And she learned SOOOOO much from that debate class. Life skills galore!

I am starting to get off track here but do you see how something that happens in every day life can be the gateway to learning a whole host of life skills? You just have to be looking for it and paying attention to the actions that you are doing anyway. Something simple can really be used to great advantage when you begin thinking about life skills.

You have probably heard the saying that goes something like this:

If you don’t teach them to serve God, the world will teach them not to.

If we don't teach our children to serve God, the world will teach them not to. Be intentional.

This is great motivation for teaching life skills and all that comes with them. Tomorrow, let’s chat about what life skills are. Specifically, what life skills look like. I have given you a sneak peek here, I guess, though my rambling. Tomorrow – specifics!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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There are many more tidbits to be found on the link up for the Not Back To School Blog Hop. Be sure to visit the post on the Homeschool Review Crew to read other articles and get loads of information to encourage you on your homeschool journey.

CREW @ Homeschool Review Crew2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

Chareen @ Every Bed of RosesABC of Homeschooling

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag Adding Fun to Your Homeschool Day

Erin @ For Him and My Family Large Family Homeschooling

Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens Learning Life Skills

Monique @ Mountain of Grace HomeschoolingHomeschooling the High School Years

Monique D. @ Early Learning MomHomeschooling With Autism

Yvie @ Homeschool On the Range 5 Days of Upper Grades Homeschooling

Abby @ Making Room 4 One More – Time Management for Homeschool Moms

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool5 Days of Homeschool Questions

Amy @ the WRITE BalanceYear-Round Schooling

Annette @ A Net in TimeHomeschooling.

Betty @ Lets Get RealHomeschooling High School

Cassandra @ My Blessed MessEclectic Homeschooling

Kimberley @ Vintage Blue SuitcaseRoadschooling with a Teenager

Crafty Classroom USA Bundle ~ a Crew review

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When the USA Activity Bundle Pack came up for review this year from Crafty Classroom, I knew it was a product I wanted to use. It is a fun way to approach learning about the United States. The bundle includes three PDF files:Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 12.45.08 PM

  1. USA State Birds
  2. USA 50 State Mazes
  3. USA Activity Pack

50 state mazes

USA 50 STATE MAZES

20190629_151857This file includes one maze for each of the 50 states. The maze is in the shape of the state. In the process of working through the maze, the student views the shape of the state and can become more familiar with it. Each maze is challenging yet fun. I do believe that the size at which you print these will make a difference in the challenge level. I printed them at half-size, two to a page and made a booklet out of it. This definitely added to the challenge of the mazes but it was fine for my 10 year old.

50 state birds

USA STATE BIRDS

The realistic art cards for the state birds includes a picture of the birds that are the symbol of a state (so less than 50 since several are shared by states), space to write facts about the bird or describe the bird, and a set of small cards with the name of the bird on one and the picture of the bird on the other. I again printed this half-size and made it into a booklet. I am not fully happy with this version of it. The writing lines are a better size for Miss J at this size but it makes it harder to color the bird with all its markings. Also, in a booklet form, we cannot cut the smaller cards out to use in a matching game. Miss J really wants me to take this to a printer and have it printed in color for the matching cards.

50 states activity notebook

USA STATE-BY-STATE ACTIVITY NOTEBOOK

This PDF file contains one page for each of the 50 states. Each page asks the student to identify several symbols for the state. There are several activities for each state.20190710_153706

  • a flag to color
  • a place to color the state on a map of the US
  • a map of the state to mark the capital, rivers, lakes, and mountains (if desired)
  • a place to mark the state abbreviation, the state # of when it joined the union, it’s nickname, the state bird name, and the state flower name
  • a picture of the state bird to color
  • a picture of the state flower to color
  • lines to write a fact or two about the state

We pulled a book about the 50 states off of our shelf to use with this activity. Each state has it’s own few pages so it works easily.

The State-by-State Activity Notebook also includes two games at the end of the file. One is USA Bingo and there are several bingo boards to print and use. The other game is Roll Across America, a board game where you would roll a die and move a certain number of spaces. You will need to provide the markers for the bingo game and the die and pieces for the board game. Both games provide variations to learning the states and/or capitals and facts about the states. These would be fun games to have printed out larger than I printed the rest of the file.

We have been using the program informally this summer. Every few days Miss J will pick up one of the booklets and work for a bit on it. She has really enjoyed the mazes. She has done several at one sitting a few times. She has also enjoyed the USA State-By-State Activity Notebook. She spent quite a bit of time working on each state that she has completed. I have allowed her to skip the writing part since we are being informal this summer.

I do plan to use these a bit more formally when we start school in a few weeks. I plan to have her complete three states per week, completing the page in USA State-By-State (include the fact writing), doing the maze if it is not already done, and completing the page in the bird book (if it isn’t already done since some of the states have the same state bird).

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Miss J’s thoughts:

I like this, even though I am not really far. I really like the mazes. The state facts were really fun. It was kind of helpful having a book to do it with. It would have been harder without the book. I really liked the birds and flowers and stuff. There wasn’t really enough space for me to write a fact about the state because there were so many facts to choose from. It would be wise to add another page to the state of just lines to write facts on.

My Thoughts:

This is a neat set to use to highlight the US. We had planned to take a trip this summer through several states and I was going to use this for her in each state we entered. (Plans change when home air conditioners need a major repair, though.) As far of the use this fall, I am going to have her trace our Mega Field Trip from last fall and find each of those states.

This is a neat set that has so many possibilities. There is a lot that could be done with it and it can be adjust and modified to fit the age you are working with and the need you have.

A couple of years ago, we reviewed another product from Crafty Classroom – their paragraph writing program titled How To Write A Paragraph. There are lots of other products available so be sure to visit the shop.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other products from Crafty Classroom that were being used for summer learning. The products include:

R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook K
R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook Gr. 1
Interactive Math Curriculum Notebook K
Alphabet Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook
Sight Word of the Week Program
Pattern Block Activity Bundle
Fables & Tales
USA Activity Bundle Pack

Click on the banner below to go to the link up for Crafty Classroom.

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Matific Galaxy (math practice) ~ a Crew review

Matific Galaxy review

Once in a while, we end up with a program that just captivates one of the girls’ attention. Matific Galaxy has done just that. This online math practice program is such an enjoyable way to practice math that when Miss J asks to play computer games, this is where she goes. She will easily spend as much time as I will let her practicing math on the Matific Galaxy site.

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Even when she gets stumped, she doesn’t mind asking for help since she is having so much fun. We started her off on the 5th grade level since she is a rising 5th grader. I figured it would give her a bit of a challenge but if it was too hard, we could easily go back down a level and truly call it practice. Even the hard stuff she is enjoying. I don’t remember her being frustrated with this once.

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Matific Galaxy is available worldwide in a huge variety of languages. It is not American and thus is not aligned with anything in the US (such as Common Core) YET it does a great job of teaching the math skills the students need. With a research-based spiral curriculum, this is a challenging and encouraging supplement. They list all of the skills taught in each grade level right on the website, with the opportunity to try one of them before purchase.

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Matific Galaxy is an online subscription. It requires internet access and a paid subscription. You can choose a single grade option or a multi grade option. The material goes up to 6th grade. Each student must have a separate account as it tracks individual progress. There is a 25% discount for each additional student according to the website.

There is not a placement test that I could locate.  Since the skills are listed on the website, it was fairly easy to make a determination of where to begin. It is easy enough to move them up or down grade levels if needed.

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The student will login and it is easy to get right to work. The student works through different episodes. Each episode has a cute little pixelated character that shows progress within the episode. Each completed activity earns more pixels to complete the character. You can see the difference here with the completed character and the one being worked on.

 

The activities are fairly straightforward. Miss J’s favorite are the activities that work on geometry. She has really enjoyed those. It will ask her to identify the number of sides or the number of vertices or some other identifying attribute and then click on shapes that match that. Within each skill area, there are just a few question so that it doesn’t wear the student out or frustrate them when working on a challenging skill. I believe they ranged from 3 to 7 questions per skill.

 

If it was a computation skill, there is a calculator that comes up on the screen to help the student figure their answer. This was helpful in some of the multiplication skills. Miss J still needed paper and pencil or whiteboard and marker for many of the skills she was working on. She had not worked on multiplying decimals or adding fractions before so this was one area where she needed help from one of her big sisters or a parent. We had to teach the skill and then she could practice it. While it meant the game took a tad bit longer, it was a great way to keep doing what she was having fun with for math and still get in the teaching of new skills and concepts.

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One of Miss J’s favorite parts was taking care of the characters after she had earned them. Each character continues to want care – cleaning, toys, and food. When you do this for the characters, more coins are earned which allows more clothing or accessories to be bought for the character. While this has nothing to do with math, it is something that Miss J enjoyed about the program. AND, she could replay the math games to earn more also. Miss J did this often as she wanted to earn more coins to buy the characters the things they wanted, like new handkerchiefs or hats or construction equipment.

 

There are reports that allow you to see where your student is excelling or struggling and the reports are simple to read and understand. There is the activity highlights report that tells you how much has been completed and the average of scores for overall categories.

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The Results by Topic report breaks the categories down by skill area and gives the percentage correct. It also gives a comparison of the average for all students using that level of Matific Galaxy.

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There is also a report that breaks the skills down further by the assignment within each episode. Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 10.12.42 AM

You can select to receive a weekly update via email to get reports how the student is progressing, if the weekly time goal was met, and other information.

If the student is struggling, you can access a few worksheets that correspond to some of the skills. They are not simple to get to for the homeschool teacher as they are found on the classroom part of the site but they can be sent via email one by one for the topics where more help is needed. I was looking at what was available for work with decimals and found this one that I had emailed to me. I can then print it out for Miss J when she is working on that skill.

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This has been a wonderful program to have come across. I imagine in just another week or two, Miss J will have completed all of the grade 5 skills. This is because she will spend, easily, 4 hours a week on the program as opposed to the suggested 45 minutes per week. That’s okay with me as she is really increasing her math knowledge at great speed.

I plan to have her go back over the skill areas where she didn’t have above 80% since this is where her greatest challenges are being shown. Most of these are where she had to be taught the skill to complete the game and so she struggled a bit. Not a problem! She can tackle them again in order to earn more for her characters. A Win-Win!

After she gets those averages up, I plan to move her on to the 6th grade skills. Why not? If she loves it and is learning, why hold her back? This program is a huge hit and I feel no hesitation in recommending it.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about the other families who have been using Matific Galaxy. Just click on the banner below.

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Summer Activities are Education, Too

(This post contains affiliate links. If you follow a link and make a purchase, our family may receive a small commission from your purchase.)

“Life is learning and learning is life.”

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I was given the opportunity to share a bit about how our summers look by the Homeschool Review Crew during their weekly series titled Spotlight on the Crew. Our summers are spent in learning. Some of it happens here at the house, like it does during the “school year.” But a ton of it happens in the summer through other opportunities. There are great benefits to these activities.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read my post on Education Through Summer Activity.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

How can you turn your kids’ summer play into fun learning experiences? Join SchoolhouseTeachers.com to enjoy courses like Let’s Do Art OutsideCamping with JesusWeb Game DesignPhotography, and Wonderful World of Bugs, plus hundreds of additional PreK-12 courses and all the resources you need to create a quality, individualized homeschool plan for each child. During the May Flowers sale, you can get access to all SchoolhouseTeachers.com has to offer for only $99/yr (code TOTEBAG) or $9.95/mo (code UNDERTEN), and your rate never increases. PLUS, get a free tote in your choice of color and a copy of the Summer 2011 anniversary edition of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine when you select the annual membership option.* But hurry, because this deal ends on May 31, 2019! *free gifts US only

 

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IXL for online, individualized learning ~ a Crew review

When it comes to online learning, a personalized fit is key. IXL Learning has that personalization and came to us for review at a time when we were looking for some fresh ideas.

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IXL is an online program that requires a subscription, a computer, and internet access. We are using the full annual membership and that gives us access to all grade levels and all subjects. This is a really good thing for us since we have a student in late elementary, one in middle school and one in high school. There truly is something for each of them with IXL.

IXL is a comprehensive curriculum for the elementary levels in math, language arts, science, and social studies. What this means is that the subject and skill areas covered is comprehensive – everything you would need for those levels. It is comprehensive in math and language arts all the way through high school. Science and social studies are available through 8th grade. There is also a Spanish class to take that covered many areas of the language.

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IXL is not a complete curriculum in that it does not include the teaching necessary for students to understand the concepts/skills if they don’t already know them. A parent/teacher would need to be available to preteach or teach when questions are missed. In a previous review, this is how we used IXL and it worked well. We used it to teach the skills the girls needed help with as they went along. They also used it to practice those things they already knew or could pick up easily.

HOW IT WORKS

When a student is ready to work in IXL, they log in. Each student has their own profile but it is under a central login. The student then chooses which subject area they are going to work in. After clicking, say, language arts, the student then chooses the grade level to work on and the specific skill area within that subject. So, Miss J might choose math, grade 4, and patterns. It will then begin her work.

She will read and answer questions. As she answers correctly, the questions get progressively more challenging, requiring the students to think harder to get all the way through the question set. This dynamic system keeps the questions fresh and the student working hard at mastery. When a questions is answered incorrectly, the program gives them an explanation page. It gives the correct answer, the answer the student gave, and a step-by-step explanation of the correct answer. The student must read through that or have someone read and explain it to them. There is not a “read to me” option and there are no video explanations with additional examples to help grasp the concept.

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Each question set has a goal. For many it is to reach 100. For others it is to answer a certain number of questions correctly. As they near the goal, it becomes a challenge zone, which is a key to the student that the questions are getting more difficult and they will have to work harder.

Alternatively, there is a second way to approach using IXL. When a student first begins, they can take a diagnostic test. Each question on the test is designed to narrow down the skills the student needs to work on, honing in on specific areas. The more questions the student answers, the better the program can identify needs. This is very good. However, you need to know that ahead of time because it otherwise becomes the never-ending test. It doesn’t stop, as far as I can tell. It just keeps honing. You can just have your student stop after a certain period of time you choose or answer a chosen number of questions.

Once the diagnostic test is stopped, there are recommendations made for the student. These recommendations do change when a different child clicks into their account. If the child has not taken the diagnostic test, they will still receive recommendations based on what they have worked on. The child can choose to tackle the recommendations or just go on to what they want to work on. The recommendations include all subject areas.

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HOW WE USED IT

IXL patternsMiss J is 10 and working at a 4th/5th grade level. She is using the program mostly for math but also doing some science, social studies, and Spanish. She is using the program almost every day for her math. She works for about 30 minutes on math each day, which takes her through 2 – 3 skill areas. Once a week, I sit down with her to go through Spanish. This is more of a review for her at these early stages, working on letters, numbers, and such. It does eventually become more conversational but she has to learn to spell the Spanish words for things before we move too much further with it. In science, she is exploring the gems and minerals part of the topics about once a week. And she is working on the American History topics once a week with me, also.

Miss J loves that she is getting some little “prizes” when she reaches certain goals – answer 100 questions or spend 2 hours on math. I also receive an emailed certificate for each of those goals. I can print that out or just show it to her online.

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Miss L is in 7th grade. She has had some math topics that she has struggled with. We have used IXL math as a review for her. I have given her a list of topics/skill areas that I want her to practice. She gets on and work through that list. I have seen those skill areas, as well as her general attention to detail in math, grow through using IXL.

IXL Learning for history FBMiss E is in high school. She has been using IXL to work on some of the history topics that relate to the project she is working on. She is creating cards related to the big happenings in American history. She used IXL to see how her retention was and to challenge herself in her memory. She has looked at some of the math topics, as well. They are relating to her math book very clearly and so when she needs some review or extra practice on math skills for algebra, she can log in here.I

WHAT I LIKE

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I like that there are an abundance of topics and skill areas for the girls to work on. I like that there is something for everyone. I like the variety of question styles and answer options, such as the picture choices when working on minerals. And, I like that I can see progress.

There is a parent/teacher side to the site that gives you all sorts of diagnostic information. You can see how long any one student has worked in a given day or week. You can see the exact skills and questions they worked on. You can see if they need additional work. You can also see their progress. I like that this exists and can see how I might use it sometimes but I am not using it a lot. I do, however, see the benefits of this and am thankful it is there for those parents/teachers who want and need to see these for grades and planning.

All in all, there are some great things about IXL. It is a solid program for review or to work alongside an active parent/teacher. It is worth checking out.

If you are looking for a Spanish version of the site, there is one available. If you are in another country, it also possible for you to receive the site with the appropriate math skills for your area. It should redirect you automatically to the IXL site for your country.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew had many families using IXL Learning for the past few weeks. Reading several reviews will help you understand more about the benefits and flexibility of this program. Please read more of the reviews by clicking the banner below.

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