The Joy of Babies

Babies, babies, babies… they all bring me so much joy! Right now I am relishing in my delight and joy of garden babies! To fully appreciate these little guys, one must understand that out here on the plains, growing anything can be a challenge. I have had to tweak my gardening skills a bit over the last few years to make gardening a little more conducive to the harsh winds and dry soils.

Babies are sprouting up all over the garden. Seeing these little babies, and the hundreds more all througout the garden bring me more than just joy, but hope too.

I will be walking with a little extra hop in my step today!

Curing the Summer Lulls: A Review

As our school year was winding down and the sunshine was beckoning us to come outdoors to play, the kids were beginning to show severe signs of cabin school fever; that point where it seems as though suddenly everything they have learned, like basic math principles, are missing. As Sweetness was in a constant state of squirming in her chair, K5 Learning‘s online program showed up to her rescue.

Okay, things may not have been quite this drastic this year, but truly, K5 Learning has brought us an easy solution to our summer woes. As homeschoolers, we are not tied to the typical school calendar but the world around us seems to still have that influence on us. We lessen our schedule, tremendously, but education is a way of life for us year round. This allows much more freedom for us, as the kids’ learning continues instead of spending the first month back to school reviewing what was learned the previous year that was also forgotten over the summer.

K5 Learning is an online subscription-based supplemental program providing materials for K5 Reading, K5 Math, and K5 Spelling. Although this is our summer hero, it would be a great reinforcement for students needing a supplement anytime of the year. Subscriptions can be purchased either monthly ($14.95 first child/$9.95 additional children) or annually ($119 first child/$79 additional children.) They also offer a FREE 14-day trial, so there is no risk in finding out if it is right for you. Although K5 Learning is primarily an interactive online program, they also offer FREE worksheets  for anyone, anytime. Worksheets are available on subjects such as Math, Grammar, Comprehension, Cursive Writing and even flash cards.

After we received access to K5 Learning, we proceeded to set up our account, which was a simple process. I had to set up the parent account and then create the student accounts. Sweetness was able to choose her own login name so she became a superhero; Sweetness is now Airtrin when she is doing K5 Learning. I think they empowered her super powers too, because she seems to be laser focused when doing this program!

Our next stop was to take the assessments. I liked that although you select a grade level for your student, the system still has them take an assessment to determine where exactly in that grade level he or she needs to be. This allows for a student to get reinforcement where needed and not having to complete the level from step one,which could be unnecessary review for some kids. Your kids are likely to start right where they need to, once they complete their assessments.

Although I am singing the praises of K5 Learning, and the assessments, I have to admit that we experienced great frustration with the assessment process. I set Airtrin up to take the Math assessment and proceeded to work on other things. When I came back into the room, she was in tears. She is a sensitive, yet diligent child. Since she knew this was something she was supposed to do, she will do it to completion even if she is struggling along the way. She does not stop and get help or tell us that she can not do it, she continues to work through tears. After noticing her frustration I found that the assessment was asking questions that she had no idea of the concept, yet alone the answer. They may not have even been grade level questions. The questions presented were multiple choice, however and she was frustrated that she could not determine which answer to select. I was surprised to find that there was not a way to skip the problem or identify that she does not know the answer and move on. For some kids, this would be fine and they would pick any random answer and keep moving. For her, it was a roadblock. We stopped the assessment and emailed support at K5 Learning.

This is where K5 Learning really shines. I immediately received a response back from support informing me that the assessment is created this way because many students will pick the path of least resistance instead of pushing themselves to try. If there is a skip button or a way to indicate that he or she does not know the answer, students will likely select that when they are unsure of themselves. They gave us two options. We could persevere and select any random answer on those questions and finish the assessment or we could avoid the assessment altogether and move on into the program for the overall grade level.

Airtrin and I talked it over and we decided to persevere. I stayed with her this time and when she came upon an problem that she had absolutely no clue of what was even being presented, I encouraged her to just pick an answer and move on. This was still a struggle for her, picking any answer is just not her style but we persevered anyway. I did notice that there were a few times that she randomly chose the right answer and I worried that it would throw off the assessment so I contacted support again to ask about that possibility and I again received an almost immediate response from them with assurance that the system has built in features to allow for false positives.

Upon completion of her assessments, I received an email (again immediately) with the assessment results. This provided us with valuable feedback as to her overall progress in these subject areas, which I appreciated. It also helped us to identify which worksheets would be good for her if we chose to print some. She logged back into her account and started with the lessons that were provided for her and has been off and running since.

Although we have spent a majority of time on the Math section of K5 Learning, because that is where our greatest needs are, they also have a Reading section. Airtrin completed that assessment too.

For me, the FREE worksheets and the ease of use for my child are a great plus but the greatest feature is being able to have an accessible customer support team that is quick to respond to inquiries and eager to provide solutions. I believe that this is the most important aspect of any online program and K5 Learning has raised the bar!

We have enjoyed using K5 Learning as a supplement to our homeschool. Airtrin has been eager to get online and work through her lessons now that the sun is shining and she wants to get outside to play, as if pencil and paper in her math workbook is that much more difficult. Nonetheless, it is a great change of pace and she is getting to work on getting reinforcement on the targeted areas. We both appreciate that she can login, spend 30 minutes on K5 Learning and get the reinforcement that she needs before heading outdoors for her summer adventures!

 

 

Our Annual Read-a-Thon has Commenced

For many families, June marks the beginning of long drawn out days of basking in the sunshine and endless fun. We delight in our fabulous fun times outdoors, just like most others, but June marks the beginning of daring adventures, heroes, folklore and more. Yes, for us, it marks the beginning of exploring piles of books!

We always participate in our local library reading programs and sometimes we even venture out to neighboring libraries to participate in theirs as well. Before you shake your head, realize that we have a policy of only applying our reading time to a single program at a time. More programs means more reading.

This year our library teamed up with Beanstack and is taking their summer reading program to a whole new level! Participants earn badges for completing various activities (including reading) from nine different areas such as play, listen, write, make, and more. Each category has several activity options; kids select a few items to complete to earn the corresponding badge. If they complete all 70 activities they will earn the coveted Master Engineer badge.

It is exciting to see the kids looking over the activities and planning out the adventures to come. I am hoping to take you along with us to see our progress. Our first stop is to find a geocache tomorrow…

Prairie Joys

When we made the decision to move to the prairie, we dreamed of all of the open space and the ability to spread our arms. We were excited to be far enough from our neighbors to not know when they were home or what they were doing. We delighted in the ability to work the land, building a garden and raising animals.

After three years, most of our dreams have been fulfilled, albeit a little at a time. We knew there would be challenges but there were a few things that we were not necessarily prepared for. Coexisting with rattlesnakes, was something we had not choice to be prepared for. The windy conditions is another thing we knew we would need to get used to. The one area that we were aware of but did not really prepare for was the wide open space, literally wide open. In other words, not a single tree in sight on our 35-acre spread.

Getting trees to thrive in our windy, arid conditions is not for the faint at heart. Fortunately, for us, we are not faint at heart, we are bold and courageous and have set about bringing trees to our barren land. The first two years were unsuccessful, but this year we have witnessed growth on our trees! It may be only an inch, but we celebrate as if they have grown ten feet!

A Product that Every Human on Earth needs daily!

Guest Post by Keith Flint

Keith Flint – GodsWaterBoy.Com

When you think about what a Body needs, Daily, three things come to mind.  Air, Water and Nutrition!  And yet, the world is full of attempts to sell  you every thing except the best of the above.

What would it mean to you to discover that you could have a Machine in your kitchen that restores your local water to the quality of a Snowflake? Pure, Energized, Natural and Healing!

AND that the water you produced could be shared with your family and friends with amazing results coming back to you. Acid Reflux gone; Gout gone; Irritable Bowel Syndrome gone; Arthritis gone; Energy restored; Sleep improved; Mental clarity renewed? and the list could go on and on.

A pipe dream?  NO!  A fact!

Really, Water can do that? Well, what is your body supposed to be 75% of?  …..Water!  BUT, Isn’t all water pretty much the same?  Not in this world.

check out this independent brief web video www.KangenDemo.com

Now, what if the Company that produces this machine was a privately held, business that wanted you to share the water your machine produced. Don’t you think that they would want to reward YOU the customer, for referring those like  yourself who wanted a unit in their kitchen for the rest of their life?

Supposing that this water was so effective that if you shared it, people began to discover the results in their own body, proven by medical tests showing restoration of cholesterol levels, lowered blood pressure, increased Oxygen delivery, improved Liver enzymes, etc  Don’t you think that they would be asking you “How can I get a machine like  yours?”

Well 10 years ago, I started sharing water freely, no gimmicks, no pressure, no underlying sales efforts, with my friends, FROM MY KITCHEN!  They began to come weekly to refill their bottles, sometimes from over 90 miles away!  and yes, they began to ask “How do I get a machine like yours?”

That was 10 years ago, today I have a plastic bin with over 5,000 referral check stubs in it.  I have people with every kind of testimony of how the water helped their body restore itself and the disease symptoms that it shed.

By the way, yes the machine cost nearly $4000 back then. But it paid for itself in just 3 months and has been a steady income ever since.

You say, ” You must spend a lot of time and travel to make that kind of money!”  LOL, I spent about 18 months sharing from my kitchen, doing a few small meetings in friends homes answering questions and a couple of citywide Hotel meetings to educate others.  But after 18 months, retirement circumstances put me in a new community many miles from my 28 years of relationship building in Oregon. My living in a 2nd story condominium, with limited parking made giving water away nearly impossible.  And I desperately needed a Retirement break to spend time with my grandchildren. YET! the checks just kept coming in!

I’m not here to tell you that every person who shares the water will have the same result that I had, but there have been over 32 who have exceeded a 6 figure income over the past years that got started because I shared water from my home.

Doesn’t it make sense to take a little time to discover about a water that can change your Life, not only in it’s Health, but in your Wealth also?

Please check out 9 videos about the water and the worlds problem with whats available to you at this time. www.HSCWater.net/keithf

Or perhaps www.ChangeToWater.com/PurifyingH2O

OR if you have questions, please text me that you would like a call. Keith Flint (GodsWaterBoy) 720-281-3965

Have a truly Blessed Life! Drink enough good water to  make a difference.

Captain Absolutely: A Superhero Worthy of Being Looked Up To

 

The Boy (6) eagerly checked the mailbox for several days as he anxiously anticipated the arrival of our recent review product, Captain Absolutely by Focus On The Family. You would have thought it was Christmas the day that the book finally arrived!

Although a first grader and a decent reader, immediately The Boy let Bookworm Beauty (11) read it aloud to him. I am pretty sure that she forcibly suggested doing so, but regardless when I turned around I found two kiddos snuggled up on the couch reading together. Before long, Sweetness had found her way into the readers circle and together they took it all in. I am not certain how much they read that afternoon, but they remained in their positions on the couch for quite some time.

The following day, we had a houseful of kids and the sun was shining radiantly as most everyone enjoyed the fantastic spring day. I then noticed that Bookworm Beauty and her friend (13) were sitting on the couch reading it aloud with each other! I had to chuckle. It was one of those fun sights to see but I had to force them to stop and get outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

The Boy spots Captain Absolutely on the New Releases shelf at the Focus On The Family Bookstore

Bookworm Beauty took it upon herself to read the entire book within the first few days of us having it. She admitted to me that she had been just as anxious for it’s arrival as The Boy was. Over the last several months she had been reading snippets of the comic in the Focus On The Family Clubhouse Magazine that we receive whenever we visit the Focus On The Family center in Colorado Springs.

Most of the book has been read to The Boy by Bookworm Beauty. I finally got a chance to sit down with The Boy and do some reading and found the story a bit choppy. I can not help it, I have never been one to enjoy comics. I have been told that it is not choppy it is simply a comic book. Ok, I stand corrected! The story itself seemed well written and is about a superhero named Captain Absolutely who fights against relativism with God’s Word (truth). The book retails at $9.99 and the suggested age range is 8-12 years old, which is a perfect fit for my family. The Boy is almost seven and although he had a difficult time reading the book alone, he had no difficulty following along and enjoying it being read to him.

As a Christian parent, I really appreciate God’s Word woven throughout the entire story. There are several bible verses laced throughout the entire book and the gospel message of salvation is shared.

Captain Absolutely has found it’s permanent home on the The Boy’s beside bookshelf alongside his bible. I imagine this is a book that he will read and reread and continue to enjoy.

Institute for Excellence in Writing: Review

Call me crazy, but I was thrilled to be able to review the High School Essay Intensive program by Institute for Excellence in Writing. Even crazier, I enjoyed the entire 5 hours of DVD instruction!

Let me explain. I am a homeschooling mother and my greatest frustration in educating my children over the years has been centered around writing. I can remember in the earlier days I literally would sit in bed at night in tears because I could not teach them to write. I was constantly trying to figure out where to draw the line between telling them what to write and having them write their own pieces. It was back then that I first heard of Institute for Excellence in Writing and Andrew Pudewa’s method of teaching writing. Following some of his key ideas allowed me to feel a bit liberated and enabled me to relax more in our homeschool classroom, even during writing time.

As the kids grew, and I grew in my understanding of how to teach writing, their writing skills continued to improve. We have come a long way from my nearly giving up and quitting homeschooling to the kids producing great writing. Surprisingly, writing has become one of our favorite subjects!

To start with, Institute for Excellence in Writing never lets down with their presentation. Everything arrived in a nice full-colored box that fits well upon a shelf, keeping the items protected. However, if the box is cumbersome or takes up too much space, it can be eliminated as the DVD set has it’s own beautiful leather-type case. Also included is a high-quality tri-fold pocket folder holding the seminar notes. The folder itself is extremely useful. It is titled Portable Walls for the Essayist and all six sides have important writing notes covering topics such as: Types of Essays, Essay Models, Essay Writing Process, Essay Writing Strategies, Sentence Pattern Variety, Specific Models, Transitional Words and Phrases, and more.

The DVD’s themselves provide more than five hours of instruction on the various strategies for writing essays. Two of the DVD’s provide specific instruction on writing the optional essays when taking the ACT or the SAT tests. These were informative, even for an individual not planning on taking the tests as they provide a strategy for breaking down the task of writing an essay in a short amount of time, covering an assigned topic. Although the essay portion is not exactly required for all students taking the exams, it is worth understanding the tests themselves and how to write an essay that will score well if a student is planning on taking them for college. The tests are timed and can be well practiced beforehand, building confidence for any student.

Our kids are still young and finishing the first, second and sixth grades; hardly the age to fully benefit from the High School Essay Intensive. I was thrilled to receive the product anyway. I knew that Mr. Pudewa would lace this program with many nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate into our homeschool classroom, and he did not let down. Even more exciting is that as I watched the five DVD’s from my computer, with my headphones on,  the kids could not help but be curious as to what I was doing. I unplugged the headphones a couple of times and they would listen in for a few minutes and then go find something else to do, with the exception of Bookworm Beauty (11). She planted herself next to me, looking disinterested as she slowly crept closer and closer. Then the funniest thing happened! Andrew was telling the viewer to pause the film and complete a task, which I did not do because I was only viewing the program, and she said, “Can we pause the film and do the activity?” Wow! I did not expect to be doing this review product, but rather just gaining knowledge as a parent needing to teach her kids. I relented, eagerly of course.

Bookworm Beauty did not follow the activity as expected on the DVD. Instead of writing an essay and working through it as she followed along with the program, she instead transferred the skills outlined to a writing piece that she is already doing in school. For example, she took out her first rough draft for chapter one of a six -chapter book that she is writing in class and went through it to identify her sentence patterns. She quickly realized that she tends to write subject opener sentences. After walking through the Sentence Pattern Variety activity she went through her rough draft and made several sentence revisions to make her writing more lively and a pleasure to read.

The following afternoon, Bookworm Beauty went back and reviewed the DVD’s that I had already watched. She said that she is really glad that we have this program because Mr. Pudewa breaks down the writing process into an understandable format that can be used for lots of things. Recognizing that she is still pretty young and will not be taking the ACT or the SAT for years to come, she will hopefully have excellent essay writing skills by then as a result of his methods of teaching.

At a mere $79, the High School Essay Intensive is an excellent resource for any homeschool classroom!

Move over Wheaties!

We have been starting the day the best way possible, nourishing our body and our minds by breaking the fast the right way with healthy proteins, minimal carbohydrates and Algebra for Breakfast. My children have truly enjoyed our review of Algebra For Breakfast Grades 3/4 and Grades 5/6 math enrichment programs.

Bob Hazen has a wonderful and simple way of teaching various math concepts that help us to fully understand math. All three of my kids are fairly confident in math and rarely are they struggling to grasp mathematical concepts. However, his methods of teaching concepts, even some that they already knew, deepened their understanding and moved them from grasping to mastering. A good example of this is his lesson titled First Name, Last Name. He explains that virtually everything in the world around us has both a first name and a last name. The wooden table: first name wooden, last name table; the red blocks: first name red, last name blocks; Sally Smith: first name Sally and last name Smith. Math is no exception. The first name of anything mathematical is the number itself or how many; while the last name is what it is. This is a foundational concept that helped my children understand the importance of grouping like things while working through math problems.

Algebra for Breakfast provides lessons for 3/4 grades or 5/6 grades and teaches the use of hands-on manipulatives  to further understanding and enable mastery. The 164-piece set of math manipulatives by Mortenson Math, math dice and their skip counting CD is necessary for completing the program and is available for $122 (includes shipping and the first month of access to Algebra for Breakfast lessons). A reduced package is available for individuals that already own the Mortenson Math manipulatives and includes the dice, the CD and the first month of access to lessons for $42. The last option available is for those that already own all of the manipulatives; for $22 per month.

The lessons themselves are online video clips of Bob Hazen teaching a concept to a class of kids. It is nice for viewers to be able to hear the answers to other kids’ questions when watching an authentic teaching. You also have the ability to watch and go back and review anything presented along the way. Each lesson also provides a downloadable worksheet to coincide with the concept taught.

My only frustration with this program is of the website itself. I found myself lost on this site, more than once. I quickly learned to not click on my name when I got lost. I had assumed that it would lead me to a customer portal; it did not. It took me to my dashboard where I could enter profile information and it seems to be a WordPress dashboard for the website itself. It was confusing. Oftentimes I would need to go from a grades 3/4 lesson to a grades 5/6 lesson and inevitably I would get lost somewhere. Fortunately, I would just go to the history on my address bar and find what I was looking for. For me, this was just a frustrating inconvenience that I was able to see beyond. I am not looking into this program to have a fanciful online experience but rather to have rich math lessons!

We used this program many times throughout our review period. Our kids are in grades 1, 2 and 6. We reviewed several of the grades 3/4 lessons but spent far more time viewing grades 5/6 lessons together. I found that with his instruction and our working on the worksheets together, the younger kids were able to follow along quite well. However, I would not have done this if I only had younger kids that did not already have a solid mastery of quick mental addition and a decent understanding of multiplication. For us, this worked well.

The use of the math manipulatives made this program not just easier to follow but also easier for the kids to see the mathematical concepts. These really are essential to this program and I could argue they are simply essential to math period. The more that the kids can actually experience math, the greater their mastery will be and the greater their mastery of the basic concepts the less they will struggle in all levels of math.

We enjoyed this program and will continue to work through the lessons. Move over Kix, Algebra for Breakfast is kids tested and mother approved!

***FREE*** Human Body Bones Resources

Learning the names of all of the bones of the body can be a bit daunting for many people, especially elementary aged kids. I have challenged mine (1st, 2nd and 6th grade) to learn them all as we are currently working our way through Human Anatomy & Physiology. As always, when bars are raised high I try to provide them with all of the necessary tools to make it a successful endeavor.

The first thing we did, after learning “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone… the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…”, was to go through each of them one by one. As their eyes began to glaze over, I assured them that it will certainly get easier.

Our next step was for me to call out the scientific names and let them attempt to identify it. We laughed as we thought about the many times we’ve asked a baby, “where’s your nose?” and there I was calling out in the most baby-approved tone possible, “where’s your femur?”

It did not take long for the kids to begin to remember where their bones were. However, they continue to struggle with remembering the name proper name when the common name is called out. I decided to make some flash cards to make the challenge easier. It has certainly made things easier too!

At first I printed the flash cards onto different color pages so that each child could have their own set. I cut out the pages and planned on putting each card back to back with the proper complementary card and then laminating them. I thought that I would then hole punch them and attach a key ring so that they would each have a set of flip-flash-cards but they confiscated them from me before I was able to finish my project. Kids confiscating educational resources is always a good thing, so I let them play on!

Later, I found that they had engaged in a game of matching the flashcards. They laid their set of cards out, faced down, and played a game of Memory by matching the common names with the proper names. After finishing that I suggested that they could play a game of Go Fish which required more knowledge because they had to ask for the complimentary card, not the card that they held in their hand, to make a match!

It is fun to see them eager to learn the name of the bones of the body! Now I get to plan a special hiking day for the kids that manage to learn them all.

I am sharing the with you and would love to hear how you and your children have used them!

FREE Human Body (Bones) Flashcards PDF Download!


 

Native American Studies: A Review

 

We have been really enjoying our American History studies this year. I am not sure if it is just a celebration of finally finishing our state studies or that we have truly been getting into the overall history of America. Either way, we have been winding ourselves through20161028_141311 America the Beautiful Part 1, which is a fantastic study of America from 1000 through 1877. Either I do not remember my childhood history studies or we simply did not cover these time periods as thoroughly.

Regardless, the timing is impeccable – which it always seems to be – as we were literally turning the last page on our studies of early Native Americans and about to begin our studies on European settlers when we were selected to review Many Nations a 4-week micro study on Native American nations by Homeschool Legacy.

We have happily set our History book up on a shelf and have been delving deeper into our Native American studies with this micro study. My first thought was how easy it was to access… it came as a PDF attachment through in an email… can it get any easier? I printed it out (I know, digital studies are designed to reduce paper). It took me right around 30 minutes to peruse the study to find out what would be expected of me, and the kiddos, over the next couple of weeks. Although this is designed to be a 4 week micro study, I really wanted to finish it in its entirety before writing my review and because I had taken a break from our normal American History studies, of which we had a schedule for.20161028_164933

At first glance I felt that the study was too simplified. It seemed exceptionally short. It is listed as a Once-A-Week 4 week Micro-Study, so I should not have had such high expectations on its content. Although it was short, we still got a lot out of it. I honestly do not know if we would have found the study as rich had we not been previously studying the same era. It may stand on its own just fine and we 20161102_194943would still have found value, especially at a mere $12.

Homeschool Legacy has so many wonderful unit studies to choose from. These are great for anyone wanting a nice change of pace, a history unit study or just a supplement to what they are already using. After looking through their store, we found a few that we may enjoy as another supplement to our History studies. Early Settlers in America would fit right along with our upcoming units. What I’m really looking forward to though is the Constitution Quest Game. We love board games and what better way is there to reinforce learning about the United States Constitution?

My favorite moment during our review of Many Nations took place on the day that the kids found their tomahawks that they made during the first lesson. Unfortunately, the Make a Tomahawk link in the guide was a dead link, but it inspired us to find another kid friendly instructable on YouTube. The kids had made their tomahawks out of paper and they were surprisingly sturdy. We had been enjoying some of the most amazing Indian summer weather and when the kids finished their school lessons for the day they ran outside to play. I had decided to peak into their play after hearing the screen door close for a fourth time and I found them using the swing set frame for building their Indian longhouses, each carrying their tomahawk. They hunted. They battled. They even took an intruder captive (Daddy). Later they buried their hatchet – a sign of their peace treaty. 

This made me smile.

The kids have learned about Indian life and learning is what matters.