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 .