Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

Our 2008 Christmas wet really well yesterday. The girls had tons of fun opening their gifts from Santa. Maggie enjoyed tearing paper. That was her thing. Today the girls are just sitting back and enjoying their school free day and playing with all their toys. We'll be starting back with school on the 29th unfortunatly because in Feburary I'll be going to Cincinnati with Maggie for surgery and visits with some of their specialists so dad is going to be taking over the school stuff while I am gone but I sure would like to get as much done as I can so we don't get to far behind. Our summer this year is reserved for Philidelphia when we go to the VACTERL Conference. We are going to use that time to vacation too. This year Marilyn is studying American history and so this is a great opportunity to show the girls some real American history.
The girls got a lot of great presents from grandma and grandpa as well. Those presents are sitting up at the farm since everything was just a sheet of ice yesterday and since our parking lot is so far from our apartment it would of been impossible to bring it up. But with a Christmas miracle tomorrow is going to hit to a balmy 65 degrees. I just wish it would stay like that for the rest of the winter. Hope everyone enjoys the pictures , warning.. a few scary pictures of me. I did not have a good night's sleep due to Maggie not feeling well. She had kept me up all night long. So I felt awful getting up at 8 am.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thinking about Next Year

Can you believe that its only the middle of the school year and I'm already thinking of what we will be doing for school next year? I can't believe it either but I am. I have been really considering homeschooling my oldest two on my own next year. They are definitley getting burnt out from taking the PSSA's. They just cringe when they hear the word even. My oldest is begging to be homeschooled without a cyber for next year so I have talked it over with Tim and I've really been thinking about it and we just may take the plunge. Katie isn't so sure. She thinks she might want to go with Agora but with all the problems and strange changes that are occuring I don't think we will go that route. If she wants to use K12 like her third sister then I may go with PAVCS or some other K12 school. But not Agora. Unfortunatley the school is just burning kids out and I don't want that. I do though feel that Katie will like being homeschooled on her own.
I do need the break of schooling at home. You ask , what is the difference? There is a big difference. With homeschooling you can use your own curriculum, take the time that you need to learn concepts, and just enjoy learning. With schooling at home you are basically bringing a public school in your home, and its just more demanding. We have to keep plugging along wether they get it or not. Of course I know one isn't really any easier then the other. Homeschooling in Pennsylvania requires a lot of paperwork on my part. Keeping portfolios, doing evaluations, keeping Physical Education logs. So I would be trading the ease of the cyberschool keeping all that paperwork for me versus to having to do it myself next year. But if this helps keep the love of learning for my girls , that's what we will do.
I haven't decided if I will keep Hannah in K12 yet. I just may and do it as long as it works for her. So far K12 seems to be working really well for Hannah. I wish I could purchase it myself but it is WAYYYY to expensive. Totally out of our budget. So I will need to use a cyberschool in order to use K12. At this point I feel as long as its not broke with Hannah we'll stick with it until it doesn't work for her or if I get burnt out. Which ever one comes first.

I haven't yet set a curriculum for Marilyn and Katie yet. Other then I know I want to use something a little more self paced. Something that doesn't require to much prep time or very little. Something they can use on their own and come to me if they have any questions. So I have boiled it down to Christian Light and Ace School of Tomorrow. I think I may use both curriculums and add in some great living books to read. Of course this isn't all set in stone. This is just what sounds really, really good to me at the moment. Actually I wish I could do this all right now. Because I'm really burnt out myself plus we have to go to Cincinnati in Feburary and the thought of having to drag all these books and computers with us just makes me feel tired thinking about it.
While I'm typing here I'm asking the girls if that sounds like a good plan and they definitley think so themselves. Sounds good to me.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Tot Box

Maggie has been enjoying Tot School quite a bit. I have found quite a few wonderful websites along the way to give me more ideas and to help create some things that would be much cheaper then if I bought them. Child Care Land has alot of free printables on their website for preschoolers. Including number cards, file folder games, printable table mats and more. I decided to print some lacing cards and laminated them with packaging tape. Yes, you heard that right. Packaging tape. I have found it alot less expensive and just as durable to use as regular contact and laminating paper.
So began Tot Box. Tot Box is our wonderful items I bring out when I am doing school with Maggie's older sisters. This keeps her busy for a little while and for the most part. In her Tot Box I added in the two Tot Books that I have made. Then her lacing cards , traceable sheets which again I laminated with packaging tape and we use Washable crayons. The sheets I found where from Just and . We experimented with dry erase marker but that was way to messy. Also in her box I included her unifix cubes. Maggie loves to make lots and lots of towers and some paper along with her crayons that we bought at Once Upon a Child. They are neat as they are triangular in shape. Her file folder games are included and her Color Forms that someone from our homeschool group gave us. She loves the Color Forms. I plan on adding more items to her Tot Box but this is what we have so far, and I think we may just need a bigger box. But for now Maggie is enjoying all these fun items in her box.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas For VACTERL

Since this is the wonderful holiday season it definitley is the time for learning to give then to recieve.
Right now a friend of a VACTERL family is running in a marathon in Dallas and she will be giving all donated monies to the VACTERL Network. This is such a wonderful gift as the VACTERL Network is such a wonderful family resource. Every other year families from all over the world (literally) get together and talk and chat and compare notes. Its a wonderful three days to get to feel like your finally not alone in the world and your surrounded by people who totally understand what you go through.
Children with VACTERL are like snowflakes. Each and every single one of them have different health problems. But the one thing that we all do have in common is we understand what it is like to deal with multiple medical things.
So in the spirit of the season please stop on over and donate as much or as little as you would like. It started off being for just our friend's little boy but it has turned into so much more.
Again all money donated will go to the VACTERL Network and all monies will be used to make next year's conference possible and hopefully will keep the prices down to a minimum so that everyone
who wants to be there can be.

Click on VACTERL Marathon to donate now!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Japan Stick book and Hannah's Sentence Book

Thought I would share a few pictures of our Japan stickbook that we made this week and Hannah's sentence book. These two items followed the K12 curriculum.
For our Japan stick book this is what we used :
1. The cover is cardstock with a red circle traced from an old DVD.

2. The first page is an outline map of the country of Japan. We had gotten this off of ABC Teach .

3. The second page I drew a mountain and had Hannah cut it out herself and we pasted some white paper on the top for snow. This is Mt. Fugji!

4.The third page I coped from Homeschoolshare from their Chose a Country Lapbook. I used the Famous Artist Hotdog book , The Weather Cone Pocket, and the Capital Matchbook and Graphic.

5. Page 4 is our Crayola Kimono girl and a small hotdog book with clip art of different things found in a Japanese home ( shijo, futon, tea table).

6. Page 5 is a cut out of the Bullet Train (Shinkensan) and the three modes of transportation in Japan ( bike, kago, rickshaw).

7. Page 6 is a Japanese Tea Party invitation and I cut out a picture of the girls having a Japanese tea party. Hannah was dressed up in her "kimono" made from bed sheets and they sat on the floor and had a fun tea party.
Also on that page I printed clip art of a Bento (Japanese lunch box) and had Hannah draw on the inside of what she would put in her Bento box. Then again from Homeschoolshare's Chose a Country lapbook use their recipe holder and copied a recipe for Nikujaga ( Meat and Potatoes ) from Kids Web Japan

8. Page 7 I cut and pasted an image ( I googled it) of the Japanese alphabet. Cut it out , laminated it and stapled it to the top of the page. We then copied a shape book and wrote Hannah's
name in Japanese ( and wrote a small book of all the Japanese numbers and their characters and I had Hannah write each word ( 1 ichi, 2 ni, etc).

9. Page 8 I copied a bunch of clip art and we made a collage of the different sports played in Japan. We read on the Kids Web Japan website about the different sports and I had Hannah paste them in her book.

10. Last but not least is the Samauri coloring sheet. Hannah colored that and we pasted it on the last page. ( )

In the end this was a fun book to make and it was hard to give up because it turned out so nice. But hey , we can always make another one and I'm sure Hannah's teacher will really like this.

I also made a cute little book with Hannah's sentence assignment. I had her write her sentences for each picture that I had in her book and then cut and pasted them into the book. I took a photo of Hannah and used Microsoft word art to make the title of the book.

I made this by cutting a file folder in half and then tracing on construction paper the outline of the pages and glueing them on to have a nice colorful background. I used the other half of the file folder to go inside the book and I used Elmer's Craft Bond Spray Adhesive. I took a paper towel and cut that in half and put it on both sides and sprayed a small amount in the middle of the book and held the other half down until the new pages stuck to the book.

Hope these ideas stem new ones for all of you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hello everyone and welcome to Tot School. You can click on the link of the icon on the side bar of our blog here to go there and check it out.
Today we made our very first Totbook. Maggie really enjoyed making it along with Mommy, and I enjoyed making it with her too.
She really liked it and I think it made her feel big like her big sisters.
Here are some pictures.
We made the Noah's Ark Totbook. I made the cover by using Word Art on our Microsoft Word and then finding the clip art from googling Noah's Ark Clip Art.
The inside of the book I cut out the number cards and we sat and counted the animals and noah. I laminated the cards with packaging tape instead of contact paper. This saves alot on contact paper and is much cheaper and sturdier to use. Maggie had lots of fun coloring her color book in the middle and we read the Animal Book about each animal going in the ark two by two.
My next project is to make her letters on bottle tops from water bottles so that she can match them with her name and other words. I will post that when I am done too.
Also I included some pictures of our Matching Colors File Folder games. These are fun and you can find all types of File Folder games for preschoolers that are free to print out online.
Also for good measure I've included a picture of Hannah working on learning ordinal position (1st , 2nd ,3rd).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Katie's Math Mini Office

Well its not to often I do two posts in one day but we completed Katie's mini office today and she wanted to share it.
What is a mini office you ask? Its like a lapbook but is designed like a small office that has information for the child for when it is needed. Its not a cheat sheet. But a reference so it can cut down on that never ending question ... " Mom what does..... mean? Or Mom how do you spell....? The child has the info right there in front of them to reference, and I can continue to teach my other child without being interrupted. Phew! That was long wasn't it?
This turned out really neat and I do need to get a laminating machine for Christmas because I am not good with laminating paper. But this is our first and I'm sure we'll continue to get better with this as time goes on.

The first picture is that of our cover. I traced Katie's Hands and wrote right and left on them. The picture that I printed out was from Busy Teachers Cafe (

Some of the pictures inside are a mix from Busy Teachers Cafe and Lapbook Lessons Mini Office link ( )

The only thing I had to do was write a small square for keywords for multiplying and dividing with word problems. I could of typed them and printed it out. But ink is just getting to darned expensive to print out something I can write out.

Get your Christmas Wreaths here !!!!!

Tis the season to start getting ready for the holidays. Right now we are selling Holiday Wreaths for our organization the VACTERL Association. For each wreath sold $6 goes to our group to help with next years VACTERL conference ( what is VACTERL? visit our youngest's website to learn more.... ) This helps cut costs of the conference so that other families can attend. And let me tell you when we went last year it was a life saver. To meet other familes that had been were we were going and going where we had been. The wonderful feeling that we weren't alone in the world. I wouldn't take that back for anything in the world.

So with further adue. Please stop by and order on of these beautiful holiday wreaths. I haven't gotten one yet but I've been told that these are wonderfully made and they last the whole season. They have an extended date to November 7th for orders.
Please be sure to put our name ( Tracy Reed ) on the order form somewhere so we can get credit for the sale.

Just copy and paste the link into your browser :

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Letter Book

Here is a neat letter book we found on a website called Kinder Plans ( ) if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and clikck on the Zaner Bloser Book -Another Format this cute little alphabet book will pop up. It also has it in Denealian Style writing as well.
I used this to fullfill her requirements for her monthly assigments for our cyberschool. Plus it was much easier then having her write it on paper and sit there and have to have her space the letters out. This way the letters were spaced and she was able to write them neatly. Plus it was an extra bonus for her teacher , because well , teachers appreciate creative stuff. I was able to punch holes on the side and attach a pencil that I cut to fit the book with a rubber band.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two fun shape books

I definitley think that summer is gone for us here in northwest Pa. Would you believe that today it snowed? Yuck!
Well we had a little fun today with making a couple of number books. One was for a lesson on number recognition mixed in with ordinal numbers and the other was a number 5-9 book we decided to make as its something that needs to go to her teacher. So in the spirit of the season we made her teacher a candy corn book.
The salad book of course I'm sure is way more intricate then what the lessons wanted. But for some reason I looked at the construction paper and you'll see what it was we made.
I believe I enjoy teaching my daughters this way using shape books and lapbooks to help them remember information. Katie and Hannah are very visual learners so this really helps them remember important info as they can picture in their minds the stuff we add to their lapbooks.
I hope that some of this helps someone else out there too. Of course one doesnot need to be as intricate as we did them, nor do you need to spend much time. Especially if you gather everything you need in the morning. The strange thing for me is though is that the idea hits me in the moment and we find ourselves starting something that we didn't plan on doing to begin with. Silly me.
Also I know there are alot of people that say they don't have the time to do things like this. Trust me I don't either. But I find and make the time because we enjoy it so much. Nor does it take that much time to do either.
Hope everyone enjoys and hope that it inspires someone else and gets some creative juices flowing.

The salad book I just cut out and pasted shapes of lettuce , carrots , radishes , and made the onions in a curly cue pattern and cut , and the pink think is the fork :>)

The candy corn book I found the template on ABC teach and just copied it myself as its just a triangle with a rounded edge. Then cut a piece of white and shaped it to the top with scissors as well as the yellow on the bottom.
The candy corn pictures I googled clip art of candy corn and a bunch of images came up and I picked one and copied about 15 of them into my pictures then picked contact sheet images and printed them out twice. You need about 32 of these little candy corns to do the numbers 5-9.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make Way for Ducklings Lapbook

Hello all. Thought I would share our Make Way for Ducklings lapbook we've made. Hannah's teacher read this to them a few weeks ago on her online class and we decided to have fun with it and make a lapbook. Hannah and I had alot of fun making it and we learned alot of things about ducks.

I used alot of pages from ( the duck we put together, My first letter D book, and the duck in their colors section
The small letter D book was from Kidzone
Our Map of Boston for Make Way for Ducklings was from the duck section on along with the duck facts layer book we made
We printed the state of Massachusettes from Enchanted Learning
I was also able to Google our little yellow ducks for our number book
The smallest and largest objects were from ( Preschool Concepts )
The little yellow ducks I printed out for our number book was from
I also printed out the Five Little Ducks song from

Friday, September 19, 2008

Agora / Pacyber Back to School Kick off Week

Thought I would just take a moment and share some of our pictures of this week for our Back to School Kick off. Since we are with two different cybers we had double the fun.
Our first Back to School Kick off was with Agora cyberschool, which is our K12 school and the other was with Pacyber , they use Calvert and their own curriculum( we started with these guys before Agora came into existence.
Well with further adue here are some great shots I got of the girls having lots of fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Getting the hang of it all

Well this is day 10 and I believe we are starting to get somewhat of a groove. I'll admit that school is taking a bit longer to do then I'd like. But we are just going with the flow and it doesn't seem to be bothering the girls at all.

Hannah amazed me today by doing ALOT of school work. I've been noticing that I'm getting less of the " Oh no mom I don't want to do that." And she is becoming more cooperative with it. I can say that the K12 kindergarden has lots of coloring in it. Thank goodness my girls love to color. They could color all day and it wouldn't bother them. Hannah was able to do her math ( and she did two math lessons today) and she did her phonice lesson and her language arts which was making a Blue Color Book. Then on top of it all she finished her monthly homework assignments that are going to go to her teacher. The neat part is that Hannah will be getting to meet her Kindergarden teacher tomorrow at Barnes and Nobel. She will be taking a quick test called the Aimsweb test. I'm not sure other the its to help them personalize their curriculum for them. I think Hannah will do just fine. Then after that we'll go out to lunch and then go to Presque Isle for our Agora Back to School Kick Off. The girls will really enjoy that.
Thursday we are going to go to Asbury Woods for our Pacyber Back to School Kick Off Picnic. So we have a busy week ahead of us. That doesn't count in Girl Scouts this week and Awana on Wed. Phew! Just typing it all out makes me tired.
But the greatest thing is about it all is that we love it. I couldn't imagine life any other way.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lots and lots of boxes !

Okay.When we signed up for K12 we didn't realize how many boxes we were going to get. All I can say is Wow! We have boxes for each subject.
K12 seems to be having shipping problems this year so we are getting tons of bigger boxes and our UPS guy I think thinks we're crazy.
Not to mention the boxes sent from Pacyber with books for Marilyn. We are just up to our eyeballs in boxes.

I will have to admit that I love the K12 curriculum. I've used lots of curriculum in the pass and they've either been so so , or they've been pretty great. But honestly you can't beat K12. You have everything you need right at your disposal. The online school is so nicely organized and I feel like I can confidently teach Hannah and teach her well. Its taken her some time to learn in this new way. But she really likes it.
I think their phonics program is excellent. Hannah is doing pretty well with it. I'm using the program as is so we'll see what the outcome will be. Of course I don't do everything verbatium. But we do the exercises in the teacher's manual. We've been schooling for two weeks now and I can see Hannah learning alot already. She loves her History and is learning her 7 continents. We have a really nice cloth map of the world that I have hung up in the living room. We turn on the Continents song and we sing and point to the contients. Maggie likes to dance to it! Silly girl. Hannah is doing well with Math. Though some concepts she knew not that long ago she has forgotten. Like her shapes . But she has learned left and right really quickly and top and bottom and before , between and after really quickly. Hannah likes science too because some of the lessons have cute little interactive games she can play that go along with the lesson. So she likes that alot too. She likes to sit and listen to the stories for language arts too and doing the activities.
I try hard not to do everything. I pick and chose but there is just so much neat stuff on there that's for sure. I think our least favorite is Music. The songs on the Let's Sing CD are a bit dorky at best. My girls begged me to shut it off. But they do like the Let's Listen CD because its classical music. I do like Art but I think its a bit over Hannah's head. I guess exposure is the key. So its really alright. I do like it though. All in all we're doing great with the Agora cyberschool. Hannah has gotten to talk to her teacher and this Tuesday she will get to meet her in Erie for some type of testing of some sort. Then we'll see her again at Presque Isle( the beach) for our Back to School fair.

Pacyber has been alright. We're having some bumps in the road right now and I'm hoping we can smooth them out. I've been smitten with the K12 curriculum so of course what we are using right now isn't comparable to that. I feel like I've jipped my girls out of an education. I can't tell you Calvert is no where near enjoyable as K12. I feel like I wished I had tried it out years ago. But that's in the past and this is the future.
Marilyn is taking online classes for Math , History and English and they are alright I guess. She isn't thrilled with it. We're doing science ourselves and its very confusing. So far I don't care for the Lincoln Interactive curriculum. I had read many rave reviews on it and I'm just not seeing what everyone else is seeing. But maybe I will the more I figure it out and the more I get into it.
Katie is Katie. She's the one who I feel I need to spend more time with , and I'm hoping to get a schedule better so I can be right there with her. I'm thinking of having her do her work in the morning and just working with Hannah in the afternoon. But then school will take all day and that isn't the goal I'm looking for either.

The one thing I need to know is that the first month of school is just going to be rough as we figure out everything. So all of those out there just starting school up with their own children. Take a deep breath with me and breath out! Phew.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Island of the Blue Dolphins

I'll have to admit I love to read outloud to my daughters. Of course I always encourage them to read books on their own but reading them out loud seems to make them come alive for some reason. Marilyn is an auditory learner so she does better retaining the information hearing it then she does reading it and Katie is the total opposite. But they both love to listen to the stories.
At the end of the Calvert 4th grade the student is to read " The Island of the Blue Dolphins". I'll admit I had heard of the story but never read it growing up. Public schools never did focus on good literature when I was growing up. I can definitley say we enjoyed the story quite a bit. It did have a little bit of a slow start and I'll admit the story was at times lonely and sad but we really enjoyed how the author described the braveness of this young girl that had been through such a tough ordeal.
I'll give a brief description of the story. Well as brief as one can be.
The story begins on an island called Ghalas-at. An Indian trible happily lives on the island and never cares for the spring as the Russians and Aleuts come to the island to hunt the otter. The tribe had poor experiences with these two groups of people but they allow them to come on the island and hunt their otter. Chief Chowig the chief of the tribe speaks with these people and they promise to pay the tribe for allowing them to hunt , which turned into a big lie. This big lie caused a fight between the tribe and the Russians and Aleuts with the Russian and Aleuts killing most of the tribes warriors and the chief himself. The chief had three children , Ulape the oldest daughter, Karana who at the time was 12 and their 6yr old brother Ramo. Another man in the tribe takes over as chief and goes out to set to relocate the tribe else where. As the tribe waits to hear from their chief who promises to have white men come back to get them they prepare to leave the island. Finally they do come back to get them and Karana finds that her brother wants to go back to get his spear. She tells him no and they go off onto the boat. As Karana is on the boat and the storm in the sea begins she finds that her brother is indeed not on the boat. She calls out to him and screams to the captain but they tell her they cannot turn back. So Karana jumps into the water to swim back to her brother all the while having faith that these people would come back to get them the following spring. Karana and Ramo set up camp and gather food and make a place to stay when a few days later Karana cannot find Ramo. Knowing that there are wild dogs on the island she goes looking for her brother to find out that he was killed by them. Full of hate and vegenance Karana plans to get back at the wild dogs by killing them all in revenge. First Karana needs to make weapons and this is not something she is skilled in because it was something that was forbidden in her tribe. Karana learns to over come this law and learns that what was told to her as a young girl was not true. After making the weapons she seeks out to kill the wild dogs and goes after the leader of the pack. Karana spears the leader but goes back feeling sorry for the animal she hurt Seeing him half dead Karana brings him back to her 'home' and nurses him back to health. After the dog regains his health he learns to trust her and the two become friends. Karana makes many other animal friends while she stayed on the island and had many adventures as well.
Finally one day , eighteen years later to be exact, the white men finally come to the island and Karana is finally saved and brought over to the Americas.

Of course even though I just told you what the book was mainly about you still need to read it for yourself because there is alot more to it then what I described. It definitley was a good book. It did have a few slow points where you just wished someone would just save the poor girl. There were times you could feel her loneliness and this definitley had sad points. Karana loses her dad in the beginning , then her brother Ramo and later on in the end to find out Ulape and the rest of her tribe had drowned in a shipwreck before they made it to the mainland. The book is historical fiction so there are alot of true historical facts about "Karana" and her island. Of course the author had to use alot of his imagination to fill in all the facts that people didnot know about this Lost Girl of San Nicolas ( the true name of the island today). Most of what was known of "Karana" was few and far between because when she did make it to the U.S. there was no one able to interpret for her because no one knew her langauge. Most of what was told was by her through signs she made to communicate with the Americans at that time in the late 1800's. Some people come to think that the girl was older then 12 and was 20 and the young boy wasn't her brother but her son. Of course its all hearsay as we will never know this young girl's true story. The author though did a great job making this a story about a young girl who was brave , courageous and resourceful that learned to have a love of animals that she never had before. Its a definite must read for those who have children in at least 3rd grade and higher.

I was also able to find a great Reading Guide from Scholastic for Island of the Blue dolphins :

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Oil City and Titusville Railroad

This post is coming a little late because we've been busy with Girl Scout Camp and finishing up Vacation Bible School this week.
But last Sunday we went to the Oil City and Titusville Railroad with the kids. Kora and Collin are up for the summer so we thought we'd take them out and do something fun since we really haven't done much this summer due to gas prices.

We all had a super time and I made a cute slide show of our trip. The weather was perfect and the kids all had a great time. It made for a nice day and they learned something along the way.

Titusville is the birth place of the oil industry. Edwin L.Drake was the first to drill for oil here in Titusville, PA before anyone else did in the world. The area is rich in history of the boom towns that settled while everyone was looking to get rich at the time by drilling for oil and natural gas. If your ever out this way in Northwest , Pa its worth the trip as you take a ride on a vintage train through Titusville and Oily City. Seeing old sites that have been left untouched throughout the century.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Its beginning to feel alot like the beginning of a new school year

Well everyone. Its that time of year when the UPS (Santa Claus of school) visits our house with huge boxes of wonderfully new school books.
Marilyn and Katie have been recieving their school books on and off this week. First off with Marilyn , who recieved all of her new 5th grade books. They all look great and I'm hoping that we will be able to enjoy history as much as we did this year in 4th grade using Children's History of the World. Marilyn is also beginning in Pre-Algebra as well. She doesn't quite know that yet , but it will be virtual class thank goodness because I know my math abilities have been waivering a bit the higher up in math she gets. They also recieved their Discoveries in Reading boxes and they love the stories in this series. Always great books to read and it makes a great summer reading program. They are reading their books as I type.

Katie recieved her Discoveries in Reading yesterday too and should be getting her 4th grade stuff really soon. I decided to give another cyberschool a try with Hannah for kindergarden. I signed her up with Agora which is a K12 cyberschool. I thought we'd give it a try and use something different. So we'll see how that goes. It took me quite a while to decide if I was going to do my own thing or use a cyberschool for Hannah for Kindergarden. The thing I know is that if it doesn't work then I'll just send everything back. But I think that Agora will be a good fit for Hannah. So we're just waiting for Hannah's stuff too.

I am looking forward to a new school year. Of course I have my other things that I plan on using with Marilyn and Katie , such as our Writing Tales and our Latina course which we need to get cracking on that again so we can start into Latina Christiana 1. The girls really love learning a new language. Even Hannah and Maggie love their Song School Latin songs.

I don't have any pictures with this blog today because our other computer started smoking so we're waiting on a new one and I have to hook up our thingy we use to get our pictures into the computer because our USB cable doesn't work on our camera anymore and we can't buy a replacement one for it.

The girls will be going to Girl Scout camp this MOnday and they always enjoy going every year. I'm not sure what to do at this point about what group they will join. Ever since our original group leader left we can't seem to find a good group anymore. We can't seem to find a group that balances learning to earn badges with field trips. Either a group does one or the other but there isn't one yet that I've found so far that can do both, and it is possible because our orginial leader did a great job at balancing both. So we'll see.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Homeschool Family

I had to share this with everyone today. Its just too funny and I know a homeschool family will enjoy the hummor of this YTube video.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Writing Tales 1

Hello everyone. Thought I would write another review for our favorite program Writing Tales. I enjoy writing them and I hope they are helpful to anyone out there contemplating the use of this program for their children. I can say that we've really enjoyed this simple program. It has brought a love of writing out in my daughters that I am very thankful for. Even in this day in age where typing on computers , emailing and text messaging is all the rage. Writing skills are still very important.

Without further adue , here is my very own review of Writing Tales 1.

What do you do when you have a reluctant writer that just doesn’t know where to start in the writing process? You purchase” Writing Tales” from Olsen Books of course. This wonderful program has been written by a homeschool mother who found that she loved writing curriculum, and had wanted to make classical writing easy to teach for other homeschoolers. Amy Olsen has taken and broken down the twelve steps of the ancient Greek progymnasmata which is the ancient levels of writing instruction by the Greeks into bite sized pieces to help those who are reluctant writers become successful.

“Writing Tales 1” is the first book of a two part series that consists of the teacher’s manual and student workbook which are both necessary to have. This program also would like you to either purchase or borrow from the library five books to go along with the program “Fables”, “Punctuation Takes a Vacation”,
“Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables”, “Where the Side Walk Ends “, and “Fantastic! Wow! And Unreal! A Book about Interjections and Conjunctions” which supplement the program.

“Writing Tales 1” is written for the student in 3rd or 4th grade in either a homeschool or co-op setting. This program was made for one student or a group of students wanting to have fun with learning the writing process. Amy Olsen has kept in mind that there are all different types of learners and has included many styles of activities for auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. She has also added grammar and spelling which she feels is very important to the program.

The teacher’s manual is very well put together and includes lessons for both homeschool use and lessons for co-op settings. It also contains a copy of the student workbook with the answers, and everything you need for the activities for each lesson.

The program has very little preparation time requiring you to copy sentence strips for the next day, or preparing for a game to reinforce grammar concepts. These activities are all an integral and fun part of the program. The instructions for the home teacher are simple and set up in a way that all you have to do is read them. There is no need to study the program before using it as it is broken down step by step and lesson by lesson.

” Writing Tales” is broken up into thirty lessons, each lesson taking five days to complete. Fifteen fables, fairy tales, and legends are read, studied and rewritten, while there are fifteen grammar lessons taught simultaneously. Each lesson consists of two lessons per story. The first week students are reading the story, putting the story in its proper sequence, looking up unfamiliar vocabulary words, learning a new grammar concept, and writing their first rough draft.

By the second week they are ending their lesson with rewriting their final rough draft adding creative touches to make the story their own. The author of the program encourages the children to draw pictures of their stories and to type them out and create a story book of their finished work.

The author recommends the extra readers “Fables “, “Punctuation takes a Vacation”, “Squids will be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables”, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, and “Fantastic! Wow! And Unreal: A Book about Interjections and Conjunctions”. She disperses these stories throughout the manual. These stories prove very useful as they introduce the student to poetry, more fables and tales, and enjoyable stories to help understand grammar concepts. If the parent is unable to obtain these books they are still able to use “Writing Tales 1” with success without them.

Of course there are positives and negatives to every product. I feel that there are very few negatives to” Writing Tales 1” though.
The positives to the program are:

1.The program is written for all types of learners in mind.

2. The manual is written for the parent to open and go. No reason to study the program before using it.

3.The manual has lessons written for both homeschoolers and those who co-op nicely separated so there is no switching back and forth trying to figure out which lesson is for which.

4.The price of both the teacher’s manual and student workbook is reasonable.

5.Writing Tales gives children the option to rewrite the story in their own words or to add their own creative touches to the final draft. The goal in this level is to just get the child to write.

6.The student book is spiral bound making it easy for young students to use as it lays out flat. As my daughters would say,” The grammar games are just awesome and fun!”

7. If your child likes fables, fairy tales and legends read to them and enjoys telling you the stories back this program works wonderfully.

8. The various games in the program for grammar though a lot of fun are not necessary if you have a student that doesn’t want to play them they don’t have to.

The negatives of the program are few and far between.
1.Some families find that this program just doesn’t work for their child as they don’t like to retell stories.

2.The first three stories in the program many children are able to work quickly through them they find that the stories and exercises get hard very quickly.

3.This is not a full series. Currently there are only two levels out” Writing Tales 1” and “Writing Tales 2” which is written for 4th through 6th graders. After completing these two levels the author recommends “Creative Writing: Homer.”

4. The program can look deceptively easy and some parents begin the child with the wrong level which in turns causes frustration for both parent and child.

5.If you are using the program with multiple students in your home the author does not allow reproduction of her student workbooks so the cost can be more then some homeschoolers would like.

In conclusion I highly recommend” Writing Tales 1”, and plan on using “Writing Tales 2 “when my daughters are ready. I find “Writing Tales 1” to be very thorough and engaging. It definitely helps reluctant writers to create a piece of writing they can be proud of.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Song School Latin , or a.k.a " Monkey Songs "

As you can all see by the picture my 5yr old has taken an interest in learning Latin . So I bought the only known Latin program made for younger children that doesn't dig deep into grammar .

So far this program has become quite a sucess . We are using it a bit differently then the way you should be using it . That's alright though because Hannah is just learning to read first then we will dig more into Latin later on when she is up and reading . Which maynot be that too far off since she is starting to get the idea of how to put words together to read . She is able to read some simple words which is great .

Now that you know how we are enjoying Song School Latin . Here is my review :

Song School Latin a.k a. by my daughters Monkey Latin or Monkey Songs
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Song School Latin is created by the company Classical Academic Press . This cute and quaint program introduces young students in grades K-2nd grade to beginning Latin . This program includes a teacher's manual , and a student workbook with pronunciation CD .
Song School Latin uses many every day words that apply to a child's every day life .
Each lesson is introduced with 4 or 5 new words with only one chapter ( chapter 2 ) having 2 words . All of the words are catagorized to fit the topic of the Lesson . Chapter 1 starts with Greeting Words , Chapter 2 Making Friends , Chapter 3 How are you ?, and so on . Each lesson in each chapter is broken down into small bits so that the student doesn't feel overwhelmed . The first page starts with the new words and the songs or chants for that lesson to help aid in memorization . The second page starts with the chapter lesson and it gives a little information about the Latin alphabet , Latin phrases and what they mean , or a small lesson in grammar . The lesson is then concluded with a short lesson of copywork copying the new words they've just learned . After lesson two page three is review activities for that lesson which would include everything from a Listen to a story where the teacher inserts those new words into an English story ,to circle the correct English word to Latin or visa versa , to color and cut outs for games to play .
The CD is high quality and contains all of the songs taught in the student book . They are all set to familar tunes so that it makes it easy for your Latin student to learn them all . The Song School Latin CD is divided into two pronunciations . The first 30 songs are of Classical Pronunciation ( the pronunciation that scholars believe the Romans spoke ) and songs 31-60 are that of the Ecclesiastical Pronunciation ( Latin spoke in the Middle Ages otherwise known as church Latin . )

Now a review wouldn't be complete without the pros and cons of a program . So here are our pros and cons . Remember when reading this :a pro for me maybe a con for you , a con for me maybe a pro for you .

I'll start with what I don't like about the program and some of its short comings .

Cons :

1. The CD mixes up Ecclesastical pronunciation with Classical pronunciation . Though in all honesty it doesn't matter which form you use since there aren't any Latin Romans around anymore to correct you . To me it has everything to do with consistency . If you are going to teach one pronunciation over the other it needs to be consistent .
If your wondering what it does mix up I've picked up the G sound . In Latin if the G comes before e, i , ae and oe the sound is soft as in the j sound . In classical it is hard ( as in G for good ) . So Magistra ( teacher ) in Ecclesiastical Latin should be pronounced in the ( mah-jay-strah ) . I think also the I's but I'm not certain as of yet . I keep hearing some inconsistencies but its hard to tell when my girls are singing so loud .

2. The teacher's manual is just a copy of the student book with a few teacher's helpers thrown in and though they are good ideas most of them are for groups of children . They can be adapted for use for a few or for a single student .

3. The songs can seem a little cheesy at first . They are best suited for a K-2nd grader . Though this program would be great for a beginner 3rd grader learning Latin as well . The songs can be worked around . I find that if you have younger children that the older ones will pick up on the songs anyways as they sing them to their younger siblings . BUT , if your using this for your oldest child that is around 8 or 9 and you have no other younger children they may possibly balk at the songs .

4. In order to use the student activities in the text for most of them your child needs to have the ability to write . Of course this program can all be done orally. If you want to reinforce you need to improvise with the activities if you have a non writer .

5. Again the teacher manual . It has no mention of making sure your child masters each group of words before they continue pass the review . It is important when teaching Latin that they know the Latin word , and its English meaning before moving on . Especially if you plan on using Latin For Children after Song School Latin. The Latin for Children course introduce more words then the Latina Christiana courses so its important that they can keep up .

6. Sometimes the songs and chants can go a bit fast for younger children .

My Pros:

1. The songs are a great way to remember what the words mean . Especially if your children learn best this way . I'm not sure if my girls do , but Mommy does .

2. Breaking up each Chapter into 4/5 words keeps the student from getting frustrated with learning the Latin words .

3. Your student will learn about roughly 109 words with Song School Latin . Every day terms from Please and thank you to elephant and flower .

4. The chapters can be done orally .

5. Lots of pictures of the Monkey, and children with happy faces to keep their attention on the workpages .

6. It includes some fun activities such as Simon Says and making Latin Christmas cards .

7. The songs are set to familar music that most children know . So it makes learning the songs pretty easy .

8. Even though some of the songs and chants can go a bit fast . We try to make a game out of it and see if we can memorize it well enough that we can say it as fast as the person on the CD . My girls like that challenge .

9. With this program we can learn a little about each of the pronunciations , even though we are sticking with Ecclesiastical pronounciation . It has more of an Italian ring to it and we just prefer the sound more to Classical . Though my girls are learning a little bit about both . Such as in classical J is really an I . So if you spelled the name Jesus in Classical Latin it would be Iesus . The I has a Y sound . And with Ecclesiastical the J is pronounced Y , as Yaysoos . So its a win , win right there .

10. Even though the manual is a copy of the student book with answers and a few ideas and Latin explanations it for the teacher . It sometimes is nice to have your own book to work with .Even more so if you are teaching more then one student with the program .

All in all I can say we are very happy with the program and we are going to stick with it. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone , regardless of the few flaws that we picked up because it is a fun and gentle introduction to Latin .

I am also going to go through the program again when Hannah is a bit older getting more into the writing of the program and true memorization . Right now we are having fun with "Monkey Songs " , Song School Latin . So I'm not going to press the academic part of the program on her yet . My oldest ones are starting to take a liking to the songs . So guess they aren't all that bad . My two year old loves to sit on my lap and clap and dance to them . So even smaller ones enjoy the songs too .