Tag Archives: electives

Middle School Plans 2019-2020 (8th Grade)

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Middle School Classes - 8th Grade classes

Miss L is in 8th grade this year and we have struggled to figure out what materials would be best for her. Her interest lies strongly in dance and many new opportunities have come her way this year due to her hard work last year and through the summer. We know that she needs to have a good strong foundation in all areas of education and are trying to set her up for success in all areas.

The plan is slowly taking form. Here is what we have at this time.

Math – CTCMath – This has short but helpful lessons that Miss L can handle them well. She is learning and doesn’t mind the lessons. Between the videos, the online questions, and the worksheets, she is doing well. You can read our CTCMath review that we posted recently if you want to know more.

Language Arts/Literature – Grammar is going to be Easy Grammar Lessons. This is a 5 minute daily review of grammar, punctuation, and other grammar needs. For writing, she will continue with Jump In. We posted a review on it last spring. Literature will be a continuation of the poetry study she was using at the end of last spring from Memoria Press.

History – We reviewed a study from Memoria Press a few years ago titled Famous Men of Rome. Miss L will begin this study that consists of the people that are part of the history and legends of Rome.

Science – This is where we are really struggling. Her true desire is to have a study that resembles the style of learning that she did when she used Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha a while back. She wants to have mysteries to solve or figure out while having to learn bits of different types of science to gain the information she needs to find the solution. This is extremely hard to find and, honestly, her brain is far beyond mine in this realm so I can’t figure out how to write it. We were talking last night and perhaps she will actually write her own, making the writing of it her education. Until we settle that part of it, she is going to be using a book we found at the local educational retailer – Forensic Investigation: Using Science to Solve Crimes. It is published by Mark Twain Media/Carson-Dellosa Publishing. It will only take her a couple of months, at the most, to complete.

PE/Art – This is going to be dance. She has about 10 hours of dance a week scheduled between her classes and her work as a student assistant. Once in a while, I hope she will join me in creating a piece of visual art, as I am really enjoying my current subscription to Creating A Masterpiece’s drawing lessons. These are a new set of lessons available and will be sharing a review of them soon. (This link is to a previous review of their art lessons from a couple of years ago.)

Music – She will continue her study of violin and will be taking private lessons this year.

Those are the plans for 8th grade. It will be a lovely year for her! Do you have an 8th grader or middle school student? I would enjoy hearing what you are using. Feel free to share your plans in the comments.

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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Middle School Classes -8th Grade

High School Plans 2019-2020 (sophomore year)

High School Classes - 10th Grade classes

Miss E is heading into her sophomore year and we are fully immersed in plans and discussions about what she is going to do for her classes. While as her parents we have a general plan, we definitely allow her to make some choices. So, with the discussion just about complete, I am going to share with you her choices.

(Some of these will be affiliate links because they are products we like and choose. We are not promoting them solely for the affiliation but because we are huge fans of the products, we participate in their affiliate programs. If you visit their site from our link and choose to make a purchase, we may receive a small compensation from the company.)

ART – Located on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, Digital Art and Product Design is on the agenda. It sounded really interesting to Miss E and so she jumped at that title. We have to find the right computer program that will work with the class and her laptop but then she will be ready to go.

MATH – We are using CTCMath. At Home Dad and I really like the look of the program and have decided that this is what we will use for the girls this year. Miss E is starting with Geometry but we have given her the choice of changing over to Algebra II when she gets to a point of frustration with Geometry and then moving back. This freedom means that she will have an out when she begins struggling but if she doesn’t struggle too much, she will fly through Geometry and onto Algebra II.

HISTORY – Miss E has chosen two things for this year. First is completing the Home School In The Wood study of the Middle Ages. Then she will move back to Pathway to Liberty World History Year 4. She really liked the way the program was set up and she found the books that she was using in addition to the program fascinating. I liked the way it all worked together and will be her World History credit.

MUSIC – We are scheduling a time to be evaluated for vocal lessons this year. She has wanted to do voice lessons for a year or so and we will make it happen this year. She has begun a bit of music history and appreciation with Zeezok Music Appreciation Book 2 (review to come but we used their Book 1 a couple of years ago).

PHYSICAL EDUCATION – Dance, dance, dance. Miss E is very involved in dance classes and will be dancing a number of hours each week this year, taking 5 classes and assisting in several more.

LANGUAGE ARTS/LITERATURE – Miss E is going to start out with YWAM Biographies. She found a missionary study book titled To Every Nation from Not Consumed that is going to guide some of the reading and I have written a plan for her to follow which will have her doing a written assignment on at least half of the biographies and designing a final product on each one in addition to the study book she will complete. I will try to post more specifically about what she is doing with this. When she finished the biographies, she will move on to Illuminating Literature: When World Collide by Sharon Watson. We liked the Illuminating Literature: Characters In Crisis that she did last year so this will follow it, as the biography study may only be about a half credit when she finishes. We’ll see. For grammar, she is going to use the Easy Grammar Lessons (review coming soon). It take 5-10 minutes a day and is comprised of exercises that help with review and improvement of writing, which is part of our focus this year.

SCIENCE – We were able to review CrossWired Science a few months ago. Miss E really, really liked CrossWired Science. She wants to work on completing both of the Global Topics contained in the program currently and we hope they will add more before she finished those and she can continue on in that. She will use the calendar for progress included on the CrossWired Science page. If she finished that in about October with nothing else added yet, she will search SchoolhouseTeachers.com for a class or go back to Supercharged Science, which we will still have access to at that point.

SIGN LANGUAGE – We are also still struggling with this one.  There is a class on SchoolhouseTeachers.com but she is beyond it. She is far beyond any of the classes we have found online. She is working on some assignments that her sign teach from last year has given her and she is teaching her youngest sister this year for the Lads to Leaders program. We are pursuing a few days of internship or helping with the preschool sign language story time at the library. We will see where those take us.

That is one full class load, if you ask me. But, honestly, Miss E had a hand in every decision and is pleased with all of them and delighted about many of them. Sophomore year – here she comes!

I would love to see what other high schoolers are tackling this years. Feel free to drop me a list in the comments or drop me a link to your own blog post. I’d love to visit.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

High School Classes -10th Grade

The Kingdom Code (financial education) ~ a Crew review

The Kingdom Code review

Financial education is something that should not be neglected yet is often not considered as important as other subjects. At the Teach Them Diligently convention held in Waco, TX, we stumbled across a little gem of a company – The Kingdom Code. They offer a course in financial education through the formation of a business run fully by the students and working on personal and business budgeting in the process. Their The Complete Starter Kit  looked so wonderful. We were unable to purchase it that weekend but definitely had it in our sights for later this year, hoping to find a place to have it fit in our fall schedule.

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When we got home and I opened up my Homeschool Review Crew email, I found that The Kingdom Code was the next vendor we were being asked to take a look at. Now that is not a coincidence! We were very excited, especially my 15 year old daughter who had two business ideas in her head that she wanted to figure out what to do with. We were thrilled to be chosen to be on this review.

The Kingdom Code is a company that was designed to help educate students at a young age about budgeting, spending wisely, managing money, and running a business. What a great idea! Geared towards grades 3-6, it can easily be adapted to work for older students. If you are looking to make it a high school credit, you may decide you need to add an additional budgeting book to it but there is a lot of meat to this program all by itself.

All three of the girls decided that they wanted to work through the program after it arrived and we were happy to accommodate that as we understand the importance of learning to handle money wisely. And the earlier, the better. We receivedThe-Kingdom-Code-Complete-Set

There are free lesson samples available on The Kingdom Code website.

The Kingdom Code textbookThe textbook came as part of The Complete Starter Kit. This 240-page, spiral bound text has 27 lessons that are recommended to be taught no faster than one lesson a week, through two sessions. There are a number of features that I find to be a huge asset. Each lesson has a different character focus, such as seeking wisdom, having courage, showing honor, or being thrifty. This is a code of honor that Kingdom Code Kids are encouraged to follow and is put into a Biblical context, with a focus on trusting in God to guide and provide. There are Bible verses in each lesson to help students frame the information in a Godly manner. There are studies of people who have created businesses and done well with them, highlighting that success but not ignoring the failures and struggles along the way. There are letters from “Aunt Jimmi” which helps students see the idea that is being talked about in the lesson and putting real life experiences to it. There are discussions, worksheets, additional research, and so much more!

Two pages from The Kingdom Code text

Each lesson follows approximately the same set-up. Starting with a proclamation, the students begin their worksheets, have a quest for the clue (often historical in content and leading to the character focus of the week), learning the code of honor, applying that to their business or life, marking the treasure map and then going through some On Your Own activities. There are a few other parts of lessons that will come in but these are the main ones.

Two pages from The Kingdom Code textFollowing the On Your Own activities is a recap of the Kingdom Keys for the lesson and then some additional Bonus Code Work. These are activities to help the student internalize the ideas even more. Some of these are hands-on and some are more abstract. For example, you might write a jingle to remember the JOEYS letters for budgets, write a letter of encouragement, take a trip to the bank, make a flipchart or have a discussion. Each lesson also includes vocabulary words that are important to financial matters and the Code of Honor, including words like financial, entrepreneurs, taxes, pride, and perseverance.

The Kingdom Code Teacher's Guide coverThe Teacher’s Guide is a black and white set of 132 pages, hole punched and ready to go in a teaching binder.  After the listing of what all is included and A Note to the Teacher, there is an Introduction that gets you started with step-by-step instructions. This walks you through the purpose of each part of the lesson and each of the additional materials that go with the program. (These additional materials are found in the Student Packet.) It is a bit intensive up front to set it all up and get familiar with the program.

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Lesson example from the Teacher's Guide for The Kingdom Code

Next in the Teacher’s Guide you get the lesson plans. These are extensive lesson plans and are set up for two sessions per lesson for most lessons. This gives you a full year’s worth of financial curriculum. Each lesson gives you the objective, learning goals, and essential questions, a list of materials, any suggestions or reminders, and the two days worth of lessons. There are specific instructional materials for each part of the lesson and each activity for the lesson. It is very thorough. You also have the answers to the worksheets and suggested enrichment. At the end, there are some assessments and feedback cards, with a few other blank forms that may be needed.

The Kingdom Code map for progress tracking.

The Student Packet is intended for use by one student as the materials are consumable. This is where you find the worksheets to go with each lesson. There is a map for tracking progress by using stickers. There is a set of stickers to use with setting up the budgeting part of the program. There are flashcards to help students learn and remember the vocabulary for each lesson, noted with the lesson number. This is where the “rubber meets the road” so to speak – these forms, notices, worksheets, and vocabulary become the part that is carried with the student throughout their lifetime. The instructions for setting it all up are found in the Teacher’s Guide.

There are several forms and notices available on the website for those who have purchased the curriculum and are customers of The Kingdom Code. These include calendars, ledgers, income statements, and more.

The Kingdom Code JR Budget Kit

The JR Budget Kit is a small package that includes a budget poster, a sticker set, six coloring pages, budgeting percentages page, and instructions on using the budget kit. It is a simple way to begin budgeting and helping students learn to allocate money. It uses the same budgeting allocation as the business kit, only does not include putting money into the business. It is appropriate for very young students with guidance from parents.

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book20190616_210334

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book is a 32-page book of coloring pages for students that may be too young for participating in the business part of the program but are listening to the lessons. They can color pictures of bible verses, knights, treasure boxes, budgeting shields, and more. It could be very good in combination with the JR Budget Kit for younger students, though some of the pages are the same.

All of this comes together to be a practical application of financial literacy. We started really strong with the program and everyone is pleased with it. It is not difficult to teach, nor is it difficult for older students to work through on their own, though they will need guidance along the way. We have spent two days per lesson so far and feel that it is a fairly comfortable pace during full school days. Days can include reading text, discussion, brainstorming, or completing worksheets, among other activities We slowed down when it came time to really figure out what business was going to be pursued to get that solidly in place.

The Kingdom Code activity

The focus of The Kingdom Code for the first business is a service based business. This is a great idea for younger students but it was a difficult thought for the older girls when they already had ideas for goods based businesses. But, after we took an extra couple of days to think about what service based might look like (not everything has to be mowing lawns or cleaning houses), some good ideas were come up with. Miss E realized that she was actually already do a service-based business – sign language interpretation.

Miss E signing to a player at a baseball game.

Miss E signing to a player at a baseball game.

She took this idea and will be working further with it. It was quite a realization to discover that, without the formal recognition and paperwork, you are already working as a volunteer business. She is planning on teaching her younger sister sign language this coming year and that will be where she takes this program next – applying the business building materials to her job as sign language interpreter and instructor. We had planned to have someone teach Miss J anyhow, so Miss E will be earning pay for this service.

We are pleased with the program and plan to pause with it for the remainder of the summer as the girls’ camps, missions, and conventions are starting. But, come fall, this will be on the curriculum list for high school, middle school, and elementary. I plan to have Miss E read a book on personal finance that we really like, as well as write a paper or keep track of budget for a few months, in order to grant her a high school credit.

Miss E looking at the Student Packet.

Miss E looking at the Student Packet.

I am going to close this out by letting Miss E have your ear/eye for a bit to give you her review of the program.

Miss E’s review:

I really liked this curriculum. I think that our whole family wanted to do the goods based business first rather than the service based, but I enjoyed the first few lessons just the same.

Something that I would change would be the worksheets for preparing your service business. I don’t see any reason to come up with 5 different businesses, then narrow it to 3 without even doing anything with them, and then working out the barest minimum of a plan for all 3. I personally had minor problems with the service based because our family’s schedule during the school year is full of commitments and on top of that, a number of my commitments were service jobs that I did not charge for.

I do understand that the curriculum was not designed for a high school freshman like me, but I think that it would work with a little bit of tweaking. The material was a little bit easy for me, except for figuring out a service based business. I would enjoy seeing a higher level KCK curriculum.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this is that it brought God into everything. Again, it was not talking about God on my level of comprehension, but a younger level. To be honest, I never really thought about what to do with the money once you had earned it. Obviously, you spend some for the business, give some to God, and save some, but I never thought about how much goes where.

I really want to learn about managing money and a business because I might want to own a business someday. Or I might sell bracelets or something. And even if I don’t, it is still a really good thing to know.

As you can see, this appeals on many levels and is guidance that is much needed in our society. One of the things I was blessed with growing up is strong financial stewardship examples. At Home Dad and I have talked often about the best way to pass Godly financial stewardship on to our girls. The Kingdom Code is helping in that goal.

I also have a code for you to use when ordering to receive 10% off of your order on The Kingdom Code webside. I do not know for how long this code will be good so don’t hesitate in using it. This is a worthwhile curriculum.

Coupon Code:  10TKC33

Blessings
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to see what other families thought about The Kingdom Code
program.

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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.”

Summer-Activities-Are-Education

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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Stopmotion Explosion ~ a Crew review

Stopmotion kit

We are not a huge technology family. We don’t look for the latest things on the market and we don’t go for expensive cell phones. We are not tech-y, you know? When the opportunity was presented to review the Stop Motion Animation Kit, I just didn’t know whether to even try or not. After all, it felt overwhelming to me. But I presented the idea to Miss L and she was excited to get to try Stopmotion Explosion. It is right up her alley!

The Stop Motion Animation Kit is a set that gets anyone ready to begin creating stop motion videos. Stop motion is when a video is created by taking any number of still images that show minute changes in position, strings them together quickly, and creates a video out of that. Think a digital flip book. Did you ever have one of those? We had one that had a cartoon of the Road Runner in the corner of it and you flipped fast to make Road Runner run. This is like that only done digitally.

Stopmotion Explosion has created a kit to get newbies like us headed in the right direction. The kit includes

  • a 1080p HD video camera with microphone, manual focus and flexible clip;
  • CD with animation software (though you can download it from the website, also, with the book to provide the code word neeeded);
  • a quick start guide; and
  • a 294 page book full of history, tips, ideas, and instruction.

In addition to the kit, access to the internet will be needed if you want to access the step-by-step video tutorials and other materials available on the website or if you need to download the software. There are minimum requirements for the computer operating systems so be sure to check that before purchase.

The recommended age printed on the kit is 13+. This would be a great age for independence with the kit, though an 11 or 12 year old could probably use it if they are fairly tech-savvy. Younger than that and adult assistance will be needed, particularly in getting the software set up or in trouble shooting if issues occur.

Using the Kit20190308_201414

We were able to get started fairly easily with the kit. The Quick Start Guide is enough to help get the software loaded and figure out a few of the troubleshooting things that come up early on (like how to focus the camera or getting an image to show up from the camera – yep, had both of those and found the question right there in the booklet).

Once we had the basics figured out, Miss L just wanted to play with it and see what she could do. She had been thinking about ideas since we had asked for the review so she was ready to at least try. We decided it was best to just start with playing around, rather than try to make this a very formal process. So, she opened the software and starting capturing images. She used the bigger book to answer a couple of more detailed questions and we went to the website for some help, also.stopmotion software

One of the issues we had was that our software quit. (I have not yet figured out why that happens but it didn’t stop the creative process – just slowed it down.) So, I headed over to the Stopmotion website and guess what? Right there was a video showing how to grab those already captured images and move them into the software once it was running again to pick up right where it had left off. The only thing here was that the video showed a different version of the software than we had, as the import feature looked really different. Not a problem, though. It was enough information that I was able to assist Miss L in getting those images back to the software so she could keep going.

She figured out just how wonderful some of the features are, like the onionskin. It allows you to superimpose the previous image over the one you are about to take so you can see how your change looks before capturing the image. This was something she use. A LOT! It allowed her to make those changes as small as she saw them in her head.

Animate ANYTHING and Make MOVIES

20190416_084925This is the title of the 294 page book that comes with the kit. It can also be purchased separately. It is full of information, tips, ideas, and helpful things for stop motion video. It is not really designed as a class but could very easily be made into one. The book starts with a short history lesson. It then takes the reader through “actors”, creating stories, making sets, different cameras, lighting, and more. There are some chapter that address specific video sequences such as flying or fighting.

It would be very easy to make this into a high school elective credit but creating assignments to go with each chapter. For the one on different actor options, have the student come up with a certain number or to create an armature using the instructions in the book. The student could write a story script in the chapter teaching about that. Backdrops, lighting options, and more – each of these could have several assignments that build on each other and create a good solid film credit for high school electives. This book is so full of hands-on options that it could easily keep the student working creatively for quite a while. This is a great book!

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While Miss L has not read the book all the way through, it is something she has picked up a few times and read interesting parts of. It gave her some good ideas and spurred her on when she got stuck. We are planning for Miss L to go back through the book and actually read it later on this summer, when we are doing “fun school” stuff and have some extra down time. She has some ideas and would like to work on it.

Capturing images and Creating videos

Miss L has created two videos at this point. She figured out that she had to have a stabilizing element for the camera. Using a suggestion from the book, she created a stand for it from blocks.

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After getting it sturdy, she started capturing and has created two videos at this point. Check out her work so far.

I am sure there will be much more use of the kit in the future. End of study projects can take on a whole new meaning. Creating a literature summary or filming a science video – all options have a new possibility now. I can’t wait to see what she and her sisters come up with.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There have been some pretty amazing videos created by other students using the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog by clicking the banner below to find other videos to view.

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Practice Monkeys – Live Violin Classes ~ a Crew review

miss j playing

Music has a way of opening up joy in your life and I eagerly await hearing my girls practice each day. Miss L, age 12, and Miss J, age 9, are both playing the violin and have been working with Practice Monkeys. The Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes is for live, online classes but there are many aspects to the program that make it exceptional. As you read through this, realize that this is a family subscription – one subscription for all students in the family!

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Practice Monkeys fills a niche that I have seen in the home education world but also in the world of music education in general. Not everyone has access to musical education and to find string education is even harder for most people. Practice Monkeys is a series of leveled classes that are taught live, with plenty of recorded videos to help with practice and instruction when a live class has to be missed.

practice monkeys on the computer

There are currently 9 levels of violin on the Practice Monkeys site. If you are not a complete beginner, be sure to connect with Mrs. Van Kleek to set you up in the right level. Each level meets for about 15 minutes, four days a week. The time for each level is different so it is necessary to find your level to know the class time.

These live classes form the core of instruction and without them, learning violin is extremely difficult. Live classes allow for correction and training that just cannot be done with recordings alone. When you attend a live class, Mrs. Van Kleeck can look at your hand position, your bow position, and help you make those necessary corrections. She can also listen to the sound and advise what might need to be done. For example, without the live class participation, Mrs Van Kleeck cannot advise a student when their bow needs more rosin or their finger placement is just a smidge off. Tuning is another place where attending a live, online class will benefit. When the tuning is off as a beginner, you don’t often hear it or recognize it.

These are the benefits that Practice Monkey gives a student. Live teacher input allows for immediate correction and attention to detail that makes the difference between getting frustrated and giving up and making noticeable progress and learning to play.

Along with the live classes, a subscription to Practice Monkeys gets you access to the Treehouse for your placement level. The Treehouse is where you find practice videos, tuning help, instrument help, printable sheets for the skills in your level, parent tips, practice sheets, and videos for the performance pieces required to advance. It is packed full!

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As with all quality instruction, there are times for assessment and a checklist to help the student advance. The Treehouse has a printable checklist for the parent so that they can do a pre-assessment to know when to schedule a live assessment with Mrs. Van Kleeck. The checklist is clear and the expectations are laid out nicely so the student knows exactly what needs to be done. Once the student can go through the checklist with the parent, it is time to schedule that live assessment. In the live assessment, Mrs. Van Kleeck meets one-on-one with the student outside of the regular class time to go through the checklist and determine if the student is ready for the next level.

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Each week, an email of reminders and helpful hints is sent out. This is a great way to not forget to plan your practice time. One of the reminders is to print out the student’s practice sheet for the week. These sheets help with remembering each aspect of the practice time and to also progress in a consistent manner with the classes, skills, and pieces being learned. There are always helpful tidbits in the email, as well as reminders about any schedule changes for holidays and such.

getting ready for an assessment

These Suzuki-based classes are just what the home school community has been looking for. They offer something that is definitely needed and Mrs. Van Kleeck does a fabulous job of teaching her students. As stated earlier, the classes meet four days per week because music students need this much practice. The classes go from absolute beginnner to the end of Suzuki Book IV. There are also now piano classes being offered that at this point go from beginner to the end of Suzuki Book One.

miss l playing

Interested? At this point, lots of questions may be running through your mind. Hop over to the FAQ page for Practice Monkeys and read up on what is there. If you still have questions or concerns, a form is available on that page to send Mrs. Van Kleeck a message. There are also samples of the recorded classes on the page. If the sample is not quite enough, you can request to attend a single class for free to see how it all works.

Do note – these classes are live and online so there are some things you will need to acquire for the class. Obviously, an instrument is needed. Sizing and rental information is available in the FAQ as well as more detailed information on the FAQ page. You will need a paid subscription to Practice Monkeys. You will need a computer with a microphone and camera that work, as well as an internet connection. This will get you up and running with Practice Monkeys.

I know I speak positively about a lot of things. I wish I could just continue gushing about this program, though. Truly, I think it is wonderful and such a needed program. I highly encourage anyone looking for string instruction, or piano instruction (though I have not seen this part of the program), to check out Practice Monkeys.

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There is currently a special going on for readers of this blog and the Homeschool Review Crew. A special price is available for those who sign-up to become part of the Practice Monkeys community before February 1, 2019. The special price will be yours for the lifetime of your subscription. Visit the special page to read more and sign up.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

There were several other Homeschool Review Crew families who also reviewed Practice Monkeys. Be sure to click on the image below to read their reviews.

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CashCrunch Careers ~ a Crew review

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We were recently were given the opportunity to review a career attributes survey from CashCrunch Games. This career testing is suggested for students from middle school up through adult. CashCrunch Careers can be a useful tool in deciding what you want to do with your work time. The vendor site has a game or two to use to learn about money and some other purchase options but we spent the majority of our time on the careers part of the vendor sites.

The theory behind CashCrunch Careers is that traditionally we approach careers backwards. Looking at what we have been trained for and finding an appropriate job is what they say is typically done, leading to wasted time and money. CashCrunch is suggesting that you take their survey to find your best fit careers based on inherent attributes.

CashCrunch Careers is based on corporate recruiting tools and the US Department of Labor. That means there is a bias to the types of careers that come up and it was very obvious in our outcomes and reports. We found almost no artistic and creative based jobs on the site. We found musicians and singers but there was no information about them. And there were some marketing jobs and choreography mentioned. Other than that, we struggled to find active and artistic careers that would be of interest to the girls.

The CashCrunch Careers survey is 75 questions long. It takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes to complete. The survey gives you sets of either/or questions and you are to decide which one of the two options fits you best. These terms have nuances that affect the outcome. For example, one of the choice sets is thoughtful OR deep-thinking. It is possible to hover over the term to get a definition if you aren’t sure about the word. These nuances were really difficult to work with because they sometimes put the girls at odds – both well described them so it was hard for them to pick one over the other. Miss L described it as feeling like “my brain is blowing up.” At the end of the survey, you are given a report.

Capture

The report lists work styles that should fit you. It lists things that should motivate or de-motivate you. It lists what it determined to be your strongest career attributes. It ends with a listing of 20 career matches that it has decided fit you perfectly.

After you have read through your report, you can click on any of the career matches and it will take you to a page for that main career. Each page has the projected growth of the career, possible needs to fill the openings projected, and a description of the career’s tasks and activities. There is also a section that shows you the attributes of people who typically fill these positions and checks them to show you fit them. You can click a different tab to be shown a list of colleges that offer education in this field; this is not an exhaustive list. (I do wish I understood how they chose these particular colleges. That part is unclear.) There is another tab that will show a short video about this career.

part of a career's specifics

What We Thought

Miss E, age 14, and Miss L, age 12, took the quiz and received reports. We saw some differences in the reports but felt they were overall very similar. Even their job listings were almost identical. Funny thing is, these two are extremely different. I cannot see either one of them doing the majority of the jobs listed. Management is not appealing. On top of that, these are end-point positions, not starting jobs where you can build up to it. Management is not where one starts fresh out of college and these reports and job descriptions did not direct the girls toward where you would start in this type of a career.

Miss E said that her list showed a lot of administrative jobs where you sit behind a desk and tell others what to do. She doesn’t like that; she wants to “do.” Miss L said something similar, noting that the list did not have her ideal job. By searching through the careers not included in her list, she did find a couple that she thought might be interesting for her (PK teacher and child care worker).

The girls enjoyed spending time looking through the website and seeing what careers they could locate that sounded somewhat interesting. But, as I mentioned earlier, since the girls are looking at wanting to do things like teach dance, play violin, be a sign language interpreter, or write, (all of which meet their strengths as shown in this report) there were difficulties with feeling like this report was accurate for them.

a few career categories

some of the general career categories that can be explored by clicking on it

After choosing one of the general career categories, a list of some specific careers comes up and you can read more about each one by clicking on its title.

some specific careers

Needed Changes

  • The videos on the site are approaching 20 years old, as indicated by Congressional acts mentioned and the technology shown. They are not very appealing to young teenagers and it is hard for them to feel like this is relevant to them. Additionally, the video quality is just poor for the technology we have available at this time.
  • Some videos were used in multiple careers so it makes it feel like it is just filling space and not truly representative of the career.
  • There is no place for this to take into account the personality of the person looking at career choices and that is huge in discussing career options. This would be a much better survey if it were to use not just the attributes survey here but also a personality survey and a preferences survey. Miss E noted while working through the questions that she felt they were not asking the right questions and reiterated this after she got her report with nothing but management or administrative careers.
  • Miss E noted that a search function on the site would be very helpful. To be able to search for careers that sound interesting to them but are not on their list would be really helpful. Some of the positions were not where we expected them to be and so were difficult to find.
  • Miss E also noted it would be helpful to know how the attributes and skills listed in their final report fit into different careers. Along those lines, it would be great to be able to search for how a skill fits into a job. For example, if you want to use ASL in a career, searching for the careers that include this skill would be great.

While the list was different than we expected, there is much that we gained from this experience – lots of discussion about what the girls WANT to do, what interests them, what they think about different options and frankly, whether some of the careers mentioned are Christian occupations. Their experiences in searching the careers listed OUTSIDE of the list given was fun for them and they enjoyed reading about different options, talking about whether it was what they would have expected for that particular career. Looking hard for options that sounded interesting to them led them to open up files about some they would never have come across.

So, while this wasn’t quite what was expected, we gained some great insight into options (or paths to avoid) for both of the girls who took the survey. Overall, this was a good experience.

One additional note: This company also produces games that help teach financial responsibility. There is at least one that we found on the website that is free to use online. Others are available for purchase. If I understand it correctly, the company is about to roll out a new version of the game that should make it much easier to use. The game we played (as a team) was about how to make financial decisions and to spend and save money wisely. An interesting idea for a game.

Blessings,
At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the experience other families had with CashCrunch Games and their CashCrunch Careers survey.

CashCrunch-Careers-Homeschool-Reviews

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