Tag Archives: Elementary

Clear Horizons – math choices

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This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair is focusing on Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences.  You will find all sorts of ideas, helps, and surprises for practical math applications among the posts.

It is no secret that math is the hardest subject for me to write about. I could whine and complain but really, it amounts to an insecurity within myself. I know and recognize that and I fight it all the time, hoping my girls will learn to be confident in their math abilities. We have struggled with finding a good curriculum, even with our adventures as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. We have found several tidbits that help us.

1 – We do not do well with an online curriculum. Examples might be Teaching Textbooks or Khan Academy or A+ Interactive Math. We realize that these have many wonderful features; they just don’t fit our children. And that is okay.

2 – We have realized that the girls need to be able to ask questions of a real person and get multiple explanations of a concept. These explanations need to be different each time, using different words to help get the concept across.

3 – We need to practice a few problems at a time and not be overwhelmed by a huge page full of the exact same type of problem x 100.

4 – But we can do several different concepts on each page, as long as there are 5 or 6 of each type.

5 – Color is helpful and brightens up the pages but is not essential.

So that leave us looking forward at? What?

We looked at several different curriculum options – printing from online, buying a book at the store, or piecing things together ourselves. We spent a couple of hours with the girls at the store going through things and came home with a company that has been a perfect fit for us – Horizons.

Is it a perfect book that makes everything simple? No.

But, it fit our needs and has given us a way through our daily math that has made sense and we have seen really fantastic progress. All three of the girls use Horizons Math.

The pages are well set up and there is sequential progress through the concepts with a little bit of practice on following days. After a few days of this kind of practice, they might move away from that concept for a while. It will circle back, though, after a couple of weeks and then they will build on it.

We have seen the girls confidence and ability soar with Horizons. We know that there are options that may fit better in the future. Actually, the near future since Horizons doesn’t have a high school level math option so we will have to find something different. But this? It has been the answer we needed.

Pre-algebra is coming up fast. (We may start a review on a Pre-Algebra program in a couple of weeks! I’ll let you know. . .) But until then, we have clear horizons and a program we are pleased with.

I say all this to let you know, it is okay to move around a bit to find the right fit. Once we realized what was working or not working about certain programs, our view was much clearer. And with that clearer view, the right fit was easier to find.

At Home.

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Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A Few Thoughts on Teacher Math by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

 

Have you written about math? Link up and share by clicking below:

An InLinkz Link-up

Need a Fun Book to Read?

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This one? Totally unexpected and out of left field but a home run. (Yea, yea – mixing metaphors or something there but this was a cool book!)

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

I absolutely adore Julie Andrews. I have since I was a child and watched The Sound of Music every. single. year. Just ask my brother. He HATED it! But when I discovered her writing, I fell in love with her books, too. My girls love her books, as well. Pink, sparkly, princesses – what’s not to love?

Well, because of that adoration, I had to pick up this book at the book sale when I found it. I knew nothing about it but I had to pick it up and read it out loud to the girls. And it is fantastic!!!!!!

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Synopsis:

Three siblings – Ben, Tom, and Lindy – meet the very unusual Professor Savant who becomes convinced that they are just the children who are capable of making the trip to the elusive Whangdoodleland. In order to make the trip and be able to meet the Whangdoodle, the children have to learn to see and understand things in a completely different way than they ever have before. Once they successfully make the trip, they meet amazing creatures and see unbelievable things. Can they find the perseverance and strength needed to meet the Whangdoodle? And what happens if they succeed?

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Thoughts:

There is so many tidbits of wisdom tucked into sentences throughout this book. I couldn’t believe how much was packed into this fantastical, imaginative book about seeing things you cannot even imagine. From the way blood works in a body to how we listen to Latin words to the responsibilities we have of managing life, there are wise thoughts everywhere.

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One of my favorite scenes was when the professor was teaching the children to look. No, not just look, but to really see, to observe. They were looking at chrysanthemums and the children dismissed them fairly simply but when they actually looked, they saw so much more – color and texture and life. It was really an interesting scene.

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We loved the book and highly recommend it. Each day, all three girls were disappointed when I placed the bookmark. That is the sign of a very good book.

At Home.

 

Blue Ribbon Awards – Our Choices

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If you have been following our adventures for a while, you know that at the end of each Homeschool Review Crew year we vote for our favorite products from all of those that we reviewed during the year. We enjoy sharing our favorites with you over again so that is what we are doing today. When I announced it was time to vote, more than one of the girls hollered “I LOVE THIS PART!”

We truly enjoy these products. Each of these we are either still using or have completed. We would recommend these products to our friends to use (and have often with some of these). When people ask for ideas for curriculum, these are the companies we share.

All three of the giggly girls had input with choosing these companies. And later this week the results of the Homeschool Review Crew will be posting. I’ll let you know when those post so you can read about what the final results were across the board, including categories that are not included here because we didn’t review in that category OR we didn’t care for the product that we did review.

Drum Roll Please . . .

Reading Curriculum: Talking Fingers

Writing Curriculum: Writers In Residence

Spelling Program: Talking Fingers

Penmanship Program: Homeschool Copywork

Literature Curriculum: IEW Poetry Memorization

Literature Resources: YWAM: Clara Barton

History/Social Studies Curriculum: Homeschool Legacy

History/Social Studies Supplement: The Cat of Bubastes (However, it was a close call between that, Beric the Briton, and The Dragon and the Raven.)

Science Curriculum: Apologia Astronomy

Science Supplement: NotebookingPages.com

Math Supplement: Times Tales

Foreign Language Curriculum: Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids

Fine Arts: ARTistic Pursuits: Construct (We are using other books by this company, as well.)

Christian Education: Science Shepherd

Christian Education Product:The Familyman Christmas Treasury

Elementary Product: Apologia Astronomy

Middle School Product: NotebookingPages.com

Parent Product: Hey Mama! Planner

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed: Jolly Phonics & Jolly Grammar

Best Online Product: Homeschool Copywork

Best Book/Novel/Audio Book/Audio Drama: The Glass Castle

Just For Fun: 3 Seeds and Commissioned, both by Chara Games

Personal Favorites:
Miss E: The Cat of Bubastes
Miss L: NotebookingPages.com
Miss J: Talking Fingers
Mom: Working It Out from Everyday Education

Be sure to check out the Homeschool Review Crew post with all the winners from the Crew voting and other families’ favorites. When that post goes live, I’ll put the link here.

Thank your for joining us for our Middle School Monday post and seeing what our favorites were with this year’s Homeschool Review Crew.

At Home.

 

Victoria and Her World (Homeschool Legacy) ~ a TOS review

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When you have three giggly girls, all things royal are appealing. We were excited to review Victoria and Her World, a Once-a-Week Micro-Study from Homeschool Legacy. (However, I know Miss J would have been overly thrilled to get to study Pirates or Privateers: You Decide, another micro-study from Homeschool Legacy.)

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
We have reviewed the Once-a-Week studies from Homeschool Legacy in the past and enjoyed them just fine. The Once-a-Week Micro-Study has been fantastic! It is simple, written with plenty of information, and easy to do activities that can easily be extended if you want to create additional depth in the study for older students or lower the intensity of the study for younger students. Unit studies do a wonderful job of bringing the family together and create an atmosphere where hands-on learning thrives.

These micro-studies are set up to be done once a week for four weeks. As easy as that is, it might not fit everyone’s scheduled as well as it does ours. The study is written in such a way that you can easily adapt it to fit your schedule. For the most part, we did our study on Fridays. However, there were a few times where we had opportunity to do something so we worked on some of the hands-on activities about Queen Victoria.

Victoria and Her World is designed around learning more about Queen Victoria, the world she lived in and reigned, and what was shaping life at that time. From authors to work conditions, from the life of royalty to the way a home was run, this study has taught us much about the times of Queen Victoria. This study is acceptable for grades 1-8, according to the Homeschool Legacy site. I would personally think that it would need a bit more beefing up for grades 6-8 but that isn’t hard to do.

The unit begins with a short introduction and learning-about-great-britainthen moves directly into the unit. Week 1 begins with a list of the materials needed for the entire study and then moves right into the study. Each week includes a reading that focuses on that week’s topic(s). There are then a few hands-on activities to do that enhance the learning. It is also suggested that a book be chosen for a family read-aloud.

Victoria and Her World focused on Great Britain, Queen Victoria (her history and reign), The Royal Family, and Hard Times. To see a sample week, visit Homeschool Legacy’s page for this micro-study. At the bottom of the page, there is a link for a sample week.

We enjoyed activities from all of the weeks and had a lot of fun. There is plenty of options and exchanging options works well, too. In week one, we chose our family read aloud. The study discussed many authors from the time period and their influences. We checked out several options from the library. These options all came from the reading or by searching the stacks at the library for Victorian era authors and themes. After the options were explored, we chose Black Beauty to read aloud.

In week two, the study focused on Queen Victoria, who began her reign at the age of 18. We did some additional study on the internet because the girls had more questions about Queen Victoria after reading about her in the study. We also had grabbed a couple of books about her from the library so those came in handy. From her coronation to fashion, architecture, and more, the history of Queen Victoria’s time period was interesting. The activities we did included a lot of reading or looking online. This is the sample week to be found on the Homeschool Legacy site.

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We baked Queen Cakes. We studied flags, maps, and music. We viewed architecture, fashion, and furniture. We viewed coronations and weddings and learned about the royal family. From sponge cake to afternoon tea, we had such fun with this study.

The simple approach is sometimes best and while we had fun with the study, I think the results are somewhat of a mixed bag. Miss E (grade 7) made the comment that she didn’t think we had really learned much of anything, though we had seen a lot and read quite a bit. I think she would have benefitted more from me stretching her learning and making this a more in depth experience for her. I believe that too much of it was already familiar to her or didn’t encourage a whole lot of deep thinking. Which is true of this study – it didn’t require much work, either from me or the students. But, it was a lot of fun.

Would I recommend this study or one like it? Absolutely. The hands-on aspect is one that I think makes this a very good study. Victoria and Her World is a great jumping off point. This is not a full history course that covers the period well but that is not what it is intended to be. It is, however, a great way to determine interest points for further study and to expose students to material they might not otherwise encounter.

At Home.

Click on the banner below to see what other Homeschool Review Crew families thought about their studies, which included:

Once-a-Week Unit Study: Christmas Comes to America
Once-a-Week Micro-Studies:
Pirates or Privateers: You Decide
Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents
Victoria and Her World
Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims
Many Nations

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy} 

Crew Disclaimer

Spanish Class from Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ a TOS review

We have been very thankful to get to participate in a 3rd review of Middlebury Interactive Languages. We have used Spanish Courses each time and this review period Miss J (age 7/2nd grade) has been using Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades 3-5). This was a perfect fit for her considering she has completed both of the previous Elementary Spanish levels. (See our reviews from 2014 and 2015.)

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}Middlebury is a company that has created online coursework that immerses the student in the language being learned. This is accomplished through a course that is rich in audio, video, and aural opportunities. At this level, there is very little written instruction and when it is, it is to accompany the audio giving the instruction. Everything within the lessons are structured to be highly immersive, allowing the student to experience the richness of the language.drag-and-drop-activity

Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades 3-5) is designed to promote increases in vocabulary and understanding as well as to increase pronunciation accuracy. We did not have a teacher-guided course, though it is an option at this level. The course covers the following topics:

  • family
  • numbers
  • greetings
  • adjectives/feelings
  • food
  • community professions
  • body
  • animals
  • colors
  • clothes
  • weather and seasons
  • school
  • calendar

These topics are taught through native folk stories, myths, legends, songs, and more. This not only teaches the vocabulary but it stresses the way the language is used and many points of cultural importance.

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Middlebury has made some very nice changes in the navigation of the site since we first navigation-from-homepage-clipreviewed with them and this time around has by far been the easiest for navigation. My favorite change is that there is a way to navigate to the next lesson with a single click after login. You can either click “Continue My Course” and it will take you to the next lesson for you to complete. Or if you want to jump to the lesson scheduled for that day, you click on “Scheduled For Today.”  If you are right on schedule, the two options look the same. As you can see here, Miss J is not. Middlebury schedules a lesson every weekday. We have not been keeping up with that, though it is our goal.

You can also navigate the site by clicking the three bars that are in the upper left corner. That brings this dropdown menu:

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The Table of Contents will take you to the lessons and you can then find the lesson you are looking for. Completed lessons have a check mark over them. You can also navigate to the Grade Book from this point.

The Grade Book has some really nice features. Remember this is the Grade Book for the course option with no teacher assistance from Middlebury. Much of the course is self-grading and you see those grades appear here. This is a shot of what the grade book looks like when you are looking at the view with tests and quizzes.

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You can also click a box to get a Course Grade. Easy and simple if you need to keep grades.

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The activities that the student will participate in vary widely and that is a wonderful things because it really keeps the student’s attention. When the student clicks on the “Continue My Course”, the program take the student to the end of the last lesson completed. This is what one of Miss J’s looked like:

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recording-herselfAs you can see, there is a picture listing of the pieces of the lesson on the left. The completed ones have a check mark on them. There is a box to click at the bottom of that column to move to the next lesson. The activity is on the right. This particular activity was a Speaking Test on numbers. She had to click the record button and record herself saying the correct number in Spanish. She then listened to herself to check and make sure what she said was right. She them clicked on the circle in the upper right and it submitted the answers. Since this is not teacher assisted from Middlebury, the fact that she recorded for each of the activities is what it is grading, not whether or not she answered correctly or pronounced correctly.

The activities vary widely but each of them are engaging. There are stories (told entirely in Spanish), exploring the page to learn new vocabulary, coloring pages (click to color), click and drag to match, speaking labs, songs, and videos to explain cultural traditions and activities. There are most certainly other activities that I didn’t list here. It is definitely a varied approach that immerses the student directly in the language.

This immersion is a large part of what I like so much about Middlebury Interactive Languages. The student is told stories completely in the language. The songs are completely in the language. The student has to speak in the language. The vocabulary words are in the language. So much is done in the language that the student learns a lot through the exposure.

We are thrilled to be studying Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades 3-5) this year. The experience is enjoyable and much learning is going on. You know it is working when Miss J is playing outside and singing a song from her Spanish Course. It made me smile to see the way the language has become part of her.

At Home.

The Homeschool Review Crew had families working with no only the Spanish Courses but also the French Courses, the German Courses, and the Chinese Courses. Click the banner below to read about their experiences.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages} 

Find Middlebury Interactive Languages on Facebook, Twitter @middinteractive, and
Pinterest.

Crew Disclaimer

Fun-Schooling for Everyone

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I had hoped to publish this review last week but here it is now. Three additional Thinking Tree journals for you:

We have used each of these in quite different ways than the previous review so we’ll just jump right in.

Mom’s Fun-Schooling Handbook

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This is a very thick journal – about 130 pages, front & back – of help for the homeschooling mom. If you are looking for a relaxed format to help organize your thoughts, this is it. Designed to inspire you, it is an open-and-go journal for mom (or dad, even).moms-fun-schooling-basket-page

It starts out with some ideas to help find joy and feed curiosity in both you and the student. From creating beautiful baskets of learning to thinking about how learning occurs, guidance is done gently through both written and visual prompts.moms-fun-schooling-visual-list

There are a variety of pages that repeat throughout the journal. These include finishing doodles, creative journaling, coloring pages, to-do lists, and more. A couple of my favorites are the word studies and the “learn a new skill” pages. They pique my interest and encourage me to keep learning myself. Page titles include: Finish the Doodle, Creative Journaling, Reading Time, What’s On Your Mind, Funschooling Ideas, Color Together, Learn a New Skill, Fun Things to do Together, Thinking Time, A Hope/Prayer/Memory, Illustrated To-Do List, Goals For My Home, Mom’s Word Study, and Listening Time.

The one think I have not figured out with this journal is how to use it consistently. The pages, while repeated, do not seem to be repeated in any specific or consistent format or order. Which for me means difficulty in finding a daily – or even weekly – use for the journal.

This journal is truly designed to encourage creativity, turn a new twist to learning, and add plenty of fun. If you are looking for something different, this might just be for you.moms-fun-schooling-written-list

Travel Dreams Fun-Schooling Journal

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Travel Dreams is “an adventurous approach to geography & social studies.” This funschooling journal is packed with 30 different cities from around the word to study. Each city is approached the same way through journal page themes repeated for each city. There are also several blank pages at the back to choose other cities of interest to your family.

At the beginning of the book, there are a series of maps. These maps are used to mark the locations of the cities studies. The maps are separated by continents (mostly) with a page for each map to list the cities that are found there.travel-dreams-page

For each city you will study food, clothing, landmarks, the flag, events, and a quote or proverb. There are pages for documenting the cooking of a food you choose from that city and writing the recipe and step-by-step preparation instructions. For each city, the students choose what should be known about the city if you were planning to visit as well as studying up on an event in that city’s history. There are also pages for the students to document the resources consulted for the study of each city.

We have been using this as a family, studying a city by watching documentaries and visiting websites. The girls take turns drawing and writing the necessary information. Preparing traditional foods has definitely been the most exciting part so far. This is a fun, relaxed way to approach geography and social studies.

The Four Seasons Spelling Time

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Spelling Time is a journal that gently encourages and reinforces spelling in youngsters. Miss J, age 7, is using this book daily as part of her spelling work. This soft back journal is about the size of a piece of notebook paper. The pages are white with black printing and are numbered, which is unusual for Thinking Tree journals.spelling-time-example

The book approaches spelling through a few different activities. The first is rhyming poetry set in couplets. Each poem relates to a particular month, starting with May and going to April. We haven’t worried about trying to line up the month to what month we are in but you certainly could. The poem is covered twice, with specific words boldly written in highlighting for copying. First, the words are outlined so the student can trace and color the letters. The second time, there are blanks where the words go and the student writes the words in. Each poem has an activity page to accompany it. The page might be a coloring page or it might be one where the student completes the drawing.

The second section dwells on the four seasons. Each season has some words to focus on that are then used in a four-stanza poem. Each poem page is accompanied by a color or activity page.

The next section is one where the student takes some responsibility for words they need to learn to spell and they write them into a list so they can practice them. Then the student begins to use the words in writing a story. There are other writing prompts, too, such as “make a list of 15 things to do in spring.”

The final section allows the student to create their own calendar. We plan to begin this in January.

Throughout Spelling Time encourages students to use words, not just learn to spell them. Gentle and easy to incorporate, this has been a great addition for Miss J.spelling-time-writing

So, there you have them – three more journals from Thinking Tree. These have been an interesting additional to our family and our learning times. I still struggle with the Mom Journal but I really like it so am working hard to find a way to make it a productive addition. The Spelling Time – it has been fabulous and Travel Dreams is a fun alternative for days where we just need a change of pace.

Thinking Tree has lots of other journals. Be sure and check out all that they have created. There is something for everyone and it is a pleasant shake up for your homeschooling routine.

At Home.

Lava Observation Activity – Middle School Monday

While using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy, one of our recent activities was to simulate lava and its action. This is to help understand what occurs on Venus.

Some pictures:

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This simulation allowed the girls to see what happens when the liquid lava goes over the side of a mountain or along the ground, carving out valleys or canyons. It also allowed them to see how the lava cools and changes state to a solid.

This was a simple activity. It didn’t work as well as I would have liked but it did the job just fine and allowed us to use many of the words we have been learning to describe what we were observing.

This is today’s Middle School Monday post. Our middle school student participated in this, writing our her observations on a notebooking page. It was just as effective for her, even if she might have known the information ahead of time, because it allows her to actually observe what occurs and to put it into words.

At Home.

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