Friday, May 31, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 5/31/13

Happy Friday!  We've had such a great week. I know, I say that a lot, but it's true. My brother had a big barbeque on Saturday with lots of food, family, and friends. We enjoyed Memorial Day tearing down our old shed, setting up the new one, and planting the garden. It was such a fun, profitable day. I'm sure Leighton is going to write up a post about it and explain more about how much fun the kids had. (Right, Honey?) We started a new curriculum this week. We are having so much fun with it! (Review coming in a month.) The whole family is heading to my parents' tonight for our annual New Year's Eve dinner. We didn't celebrate the first of the year because that's when Tyler was in the hospital. Trust me, I won't complain about eating lobster, crab legs, shrimp, filet mignon, hasselback potatoes, and Texas rolls tonight.  

1. Zac, after explaining a long process of something: "Isn't I smart?"

2. Zac, while blowing a dandelion that had gone to seed all over the yard: "I wish for a dandelion."

3. Jake, holding a roly-poly: "Aw, he's so cute."


5. Alyssa, after riding to work with daddy in the dump truck: "I missed everyone so much! But I didn't miss Jesus 'cause he was with me the whole time."

6. Me: "Take your empty bowl to the sink, please."
Zac: "Um, no thanks."

7. Jake borrowed a few books from my nephew. He had to read the first chapter of a book on the ride home and then has chosen to read all on his own throughout the week. He informed me that it is favorite book he's ever read! I love that he's enjoying reading and that he enjoys reading quality literature.

8. Zac: "I love Tyler."
Me: "I love Tyler, too. And I love Zachary . . and I love Jacob . . and I love Alyssa. And I love Daddy, too."
Jake: "You love Daddy the most."

9. Zac: "I farted in my pants."
Me: "Uuuumm, thanks for letting me know. Next time, you can keep that to yourself."
Jake, laughing: "You can tell me."
{a minute later}
Zac: "Jake, I farted in my pants again."
Me: "Boys."  

What made you smile this week?

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

J is for Just a Mom

just (jŭst) adj. Precisely; exactly; - in place, time, or degree; neither more nor less than is stated.

I'm sure you've heard people who say Oh, you're just a mom? as if it's a small thing. Their words don't offend me. Being a mom is a big deal. We've been entrusted with these lives: to raise them to know Christ, to have morals, to better society, to serve God. 

Whether you work out of the home, work from home, or spend 24/7 taking care of the home, your job as mother is most important and most rewarding of all. No other job pays in hugs, kisses, and I-love-yous. Few jobs are as exhausting, yet fulfilling.  

I spend every second of every day being just a mom. I'm not anything special. I'm not any different from you. I do precisely, exactly, no more or less than is stated to be a mom.

I am a mother.

I am a chef.

I am a teacher.

I am a chauffeur.

I am a kisser-of-boo-boos.

I am a trainer-of-the-next-generation.

I am a referee.

I am a nose-wiper.

I am a maid.

I am a launderer.

I am a doctor.

I am a listening-ear.

I am a hand-holder.

I am a bug-sqausher.

I am a teacher-of-values.

I am a hair stylist.

I am a diaper-changer.

I am a hug-giver.

I am a mood-changer.

I am a Lego assembler.

I am a book-reader.

I am a scientist.

I am a bath-giver.

I am a photographer.

I am a dish-washer.

I am a comforter.

I am a personal assistant.

I am a master-tickler.

I am a fort builder.

I am a cheerleader.

I am a missing-shoe-finder.

I am a pb&j expert.

I am a tear-wiper.

I am a bed-tucker-in-er

I am a juice-pourer.

I am a back-scratcher.

I am a butt-wiper.

I am a bad-dream-chaser.

I am a balloon-blower-up-er. 

I am a law enforcer.

I am a personal shopper.

I am a wardrobe stylist.

I am an art director.

I am an encourager.

I am a shoe-tie-er.

I am a memory-preserver.

I am a problem-solver.

I am a laugher-at-jokes. 

I am an I-love-you-expert.

I am a giver-of-self.

 Yes, I am just a mom. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Blogging Through the Alphabet
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 5/24/13

Jake (7), Alyssa (5), Zac (3), Tyler (1)

Happy Friday! We spent a lot of time outside this week - weeding, planting, playing in the sprinkler, cleaning up, preparing the garden, and enjoying the fresh air. Tomorrow we'll all be going to my brother's to celebrate the holiday. I love spending time with my family. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend as well!

1. Jake: "How do most people make pancakes and waffles and stuff if they don't make them from scratch?"
Me: "They use a mix where you just add water?"
Jake: "That's cheating."

2. Jake, looking at a map of the US: "What happened to the old York?"

3. Me: "Gramma's coming over tonight."
Zac: "Oh! I love her!"

4. Zac, holding a water bottle: "Look! I have water so I can be firsty."


6. Me, after listing multiple ice cream flavors: ". . . So, what kind do you want?"
Zac: "Banilla."
Me: "Just plain ol' vanilla, really?"
Zac: "No. Regular banilla."

7. Zac: "I love you, Mom."
Me: "Aw, I love you, Zac."
Zac: "I keep saying that 'cause I super-duper love you."

8. Zac, while sitting on my lap: "You smell pretty."

9. Jake: "Hey Mom, this year I'll be 8. And then next year, I'll be 9. And then the next year after the next year, I'll be 10. In 4 years, I'll be 11. In 5 years, I'll be 12. In 6 years, I'll be 13 . . ."

10. Jake: "I think I put my feet on backwards today."

11. Alyssa: "Español! What does that mean."
Me: "Spanish."
Alyssa: "But what does it mean?"
Me: "Spanish."
Alyssa: "What does español mean?"
Me: "It means Spanish."
Alyssa: "But what does español mean?"
Me: "Español is the Spanish word for Spanish."
Alyssa: "Aaaaah."

12. Jake, getting ready to read: "Page 81, here I come!"
Me: "Hey, that rhymed."
Jake: "It's not eighty-ome, and it's not here I cone (cun). So, it doesn't rhyme."
Me: "Well, that's true; it's not a true rhyme. I forget what it's called when words don't rhyme exactly."
Jake: "It's called a fraud."

13. Jake, while playing Stack the States: "I'm looking for Misery." (Missouri)

What made you smile this week?

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Scaredy Cat

Dr. Joyce Herzog has created many educational products to help simplify both teaching and learning.  The past month or so, we have been able to review her Scaredy Cat Reading System Express.

The purpose of the system is to help you assist your students in mastering reading. The Express (formerly called Level 4) covers all the concepts of Levels 1, 2, & 3 in 15 main rules and supplements. It consists of teacher training; activities and suggestions; boardgames; all the stories, word lists, and sentence lists of levels 1, 2, and 3, the Story of Lettermaster, and the rules song CD. 

The first thing we did was get comfy on the couch - one child squished on my right side, another child smooshed on my left, and the third sitting on my lap - and read the Story of Lettermaster. The comic book style story is all about the man who gave the letters their jobs. In the beginning, the letters were confused and didn't know which sounds to make. The Lettermaster helps them and your student understand the craziness of phonics in the English language. It talks about the vowels' scared and brave sounds, why k and w can never stand by each other, how s is always causing problems, and much more. It is the cutest story! The kids asked me to read it several times.

The program is not scripted and it doesn't give you daily lesson plans. It does, however, give you multiple ideas and suggestions for practice. There are many words for each rule and many sentences. It really helps having that variety without relying on the teacher to conjure up some examples on her own.

I focused on using this system with my 7-year-old. He does very well with reading, but struggles with spelling. We've been using two different word lists at a time, one for reading and another for spelling. Understanding why certain letters makes specific sounds has really helped his spelling of simple words. A lot of this curriculum is based around game-like practice. Any time you can make it more fun and less like work is a big plus to him. He really enjoys playing the games, and I really enjoy that he's learning.

The program worked well for us and we will continue to use it. I also plan to start using it with my 5-year-old to help her reading advance as well. This curriculum can be used with students of all ages and abilities: advanced, learning disabled, dyslexic, average. It can be used as a full program, to fill in gaps, or as a supplement. The entire kit costs $30. You can download a sample, too.

Joyce Herzog offers many more educational products. You read more reviews of the Scaredy Cat Reading Express along with reviews of the other products as well from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 5/17/13

Jake (7), Alyssa (5), Zac (3), Tyler (1)

Happy Friday! Leighton and the kids took me to dinner for Mother's Day and gave me 2 bouquets of flowers, many cards, a beautiful necklace, and lots of hugs and kisses. Alyssa and I went to a banquet at church and then spent some time shopping and doing girl stuff. We ate our first strawberry from our plants, planted some seeds for the garden, built an entire city out of blocks, made cookies, listened to the story of Robinson Crusoe for kids, and made plenty of messes. I hope your week was just as eventful.

Do you have a Smile to share, too? We'd love to hear it!

1. Jake, while playing a game: "Ugh, I put mom in there, but it didn't do anything."
Me: "What do you need?"
Jake: "Something sweet."

2. Zac: "Liar, catch on fire! Pumpkin eater!"
(Cheaters and liars are kinda one-and-the-same, right?)

3. Zac: "What's your middle name?"
Me: "Lynn."
Zac: "What's your side name?"

4. Jake: "I'm going to make mine the biggest!"
Alyssa: "I'm going to make mine the mediumest!"


6. Zac: "I'm going to marry Cinderella."
Me: "I know. You just love her."
Zac: "Yeah. When's she gonna be real"

7. Zac, about a fly in the house: ""We're surrounded! We need to find a new house!"
Me: "We need to move to a new house because of one fly?"
Zac: "No, there's LOTS of flies outside trying to come in!"

8. Zac: "When someone's a cheater, he cheats."

9. Zac: "Mommy, you can have the rest of my cake."
Me: "Aw, thank you."
Zac: "Am I a sweetheart?"

10. After Tyler woke up from his nap, Zac went in the room to play with him before I got him out of bed. After a few minutes of Zac being silly he said, "That's it. If you're not laughing, I'm going away."

11. Jake, reading this book : "There was once a little boy who lived in a little cabin on a little farm in a little clearing on a little creek. Wow, that a lot of littles."

12. Zac: "I love you. I never pull your hair."

13. Jake, while listening to The Name Game song: "Is this Latin?"

14. Alyssa, pointing to a picture of Wonder Woman: "That's you!"

What made you smile?

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Monday, May 13, 2013

10 Things and Many More

I have been blessed with 2 people who are my absolute best friends. One is the man I fell in love with many years ago, the one I pledged my life to, the one I am building a family with. My husband and I are one. He is my best friend. I chose him. (Though I do believe he was chosen first by God for me.)

The other, I did not choose at all.

Or rather, I did not choose to be born into her family. I did not not choose to be raised in her home. I did not choose to be her daughter. But I was blessed to be.

My mother is my best friend.

I am sitting here, trying to put my thoughts into words. The ideas have been swirling around in my head for days, yet they are getting lost on the way to my fingers. I can't help but to sit here as my eyes fill with tears and my vision blurs.

My mom.

My wonderful, loving mom.

It would be so much easier to let you look into my heart and see for yourself just how amazing she is. But that's not really possible, is it.

So I'll just have to give you a little glimpse, though I know I won't do her justice.

Here are 10 things I've learned from my mom. Some I learned as a child; others as a mother myself.

1. To Be Supportive - My mom has always been my biggest supporter. When I was young, I was a Girl Scout. She helped me with any projects I needed to do to earn my badges. She volunteered when we needed parent helpers. She helped me sell, organize, and deliver 500-600 of boxes of cookies each year. She watched my volleyball games for 5 years. She attended the games when I was a cheerleader for 6 years. She helped me with school projects. She printed and helped me cut tiny strips of paper full of desciptions when I needed to make display boards and wanted them to look professional. She attended every piano recital, watched each concert and play from elementary through college, listened to me practice, practice, practice. Now, she comes to my kids' soccer games, watches their performances, cheers them on. There are times when she has other plans, but ignores them to show us her love. When I have faltered, she's helped me up. When I've questioned my decisions, she's strengthened my resolve. When I have gotten overwhelmed, she's encouraged me. She has supported me in every way possible.

2. To Be Committed - I played basketball in 8th grade. By the second week I'm sure, I wanted to quit. I can vividly remember a game in which I was dribbling down the court and a fan from the opposing team yelled to me to shoot the ball. And I did. I wasn't even to the 3-point line yet. And it wasn't pretty. He and his friends thought it was funny; I was thoroughly was embarrassed. I missed the majority of the shots I took that year. While I've always been fairly athletic, basketball is not my thing. I've admitted before that I do not like doing things I'm not good at. My perfectionist personality does not like failing. And though I get that trait from my mom, her desire to keep commitments is even stronger than her desire to do things perfectly. I wanted to quit. She wouldn't let me. "You made a commitment," she said. I had to finish the season. As a 14-year-old girl, I thought it was awful that she made me continue when she knew how much I hated playing! As an adult, I'm thankful she's always taught me that if I give my word and make a commitment, that I need to follow through. 

3. Rules Are Rules - I have heard my mom say many times that "rules are rules." It doesn't matter who you are, you are expected to follow the same guidelines as everyone else. There are no exceptions because you're someone special. It didn't matter that my mom worked in the school I attended; I had to follow the same rules as everyone else. She taught the computer classes for many years. They were some of the easiest classes for anyone to take. She said exactly what was going to be on the quizzes and then used those quizzes as written to make the tests. My classmates commented that I was getting 100% consistently because my mom was the teacher and she was showing me the tests. She sternly informed them that it didn't matter that I was her daughter; if I were caught cheating I would get a zero, just like anyone else. Rules are rules. Even when you don't want to obey, rules are rules. Even when you think it doesn't apply to you, rules are rules. Even when it's hard, rules are rules. Rules are rules.

4. How to Clean -  As a child, I can remember our house always being just about perfect. Everything was in order. Everything was clean. Everything was uncluttered. My mom kept the house "perfect." One of my chores as I grew older was to clean the bathroom. I hated it. The floor was tiny little tiles that collected hairspray in the grout and was a pain to clean. I'm pretty sure my mom had to tell me every week to do it because I did not take the initiative to do it on my own. Many times after I finished, she'd send me back in there to do it right. I thought it was awful to have to re-do the portions that didn't meet her standards. I learned though (probably after getting a house of my own) that she was teaching my how to keep a home. She didn't make me clean the bathroom because she just didn't feel like doing it herself or because she wanted to punish me because she knew how much I despised those tiles. She was teaching me valuable life skills that I would need the rest of my life. And I (and my family!) am grateful.

5. To Be Faithful - My parents started attending church on Sunday mornings when I was very young. As I grew older and my mom grew closer to God, she and I started going on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, too. I've watched her go to church for 20 years, by herself. I know it's not easy. It's not easy to go back on Sunday night after a busy morning while your husband stays home. It's not easy to head to church on Wednesday night by yourself after not seeing him all day. Every now and then, Leighton works late and I have to take the kids by myself. It's hard. I do not like being without him. My mother has known no other way. Yet, she's always been faithful. She's taught me that you serve God when it's not easy. You serve Him when your flesh doesn't want to. You serve God even if you do it alone. You always remain faithful.

6. How to Cook -It's no secret that I love being in the kitchen. Many women do not know how to cook before getting married and their husbands lovingly endure the process while they learn. My mom made sure that was not the case for us. My parents cook together often now that my dad works only 3 days a week, but while I was growing up, my mom did all the cooking. I have fond memories of her stirring spaghetti sauce, sautéing mushrooms for beef stroganoff, and mixing together meatloaf. I loved helping her make chocolate chip cookies - always a double batch - and sneaking tastes while she wasn't looking. I have many of the recipes from my childhood in my collection now. I don't ever remember her ruining dinner or making something I didn't like (except for rabbit and we still talk about that, ha.) It's fun cooking and baking together (like this past Christmas when we made 12 different kinds of goodies.) Now, I enjoy teaching my little ones. I have no doubt that all of my children will be good cooks one day. Do you remember when they made a from-scratch cake by themselves, creating the recipe and everything? I'm so thankful my mom took the time to teach me to cook.   

7. To Follow God's Will -  My mom was a full-time homemaker when I was a child. She eventually volunteered her time to teach a woodworking class twice a week at our private school when I was in elementary. After teaching it for 4 years, she switched to teaching computer classes there instead. God flooded her with a wealth of computer knowledge in a short amount of time and opened a door for a position in a computer store. She worked as the purchasing agent for the store for exactly 27 months (divine approval) before she felt the call of God to work full-time at our church and school where I attended high school. It was evident that God sent her to the computer store so she could learn valuable skills that she would need for her position at the church and to help many people with their personal computers. I remember her talking about how God used each situation to fulfill His purpose in her life. She was sensitive and obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. My mom never worked at the church to make money. She did it for many years because it was God's will for her. 

8. To Show Discernment - My parents never argued in front of me. My mom never undermined my dad's authority. They did not talk about adult issues or situations in my presence. In fact, I learned many things over the last few years about the past. I've told my mom "I never knew that!" and she's replied, "Of course not; you were a kid." She made sure to show discernment of things they allowed me to see and hear. Because they never discussed their disagreements when I was listening, I knew that dad and mom were one and unified. There was no playing one against the other. If dad said no, mom said no, too. They worked together for my best interest. They protected me from issues that did not involve me and that I had no business being a part of. Not only did she show discernment in what she allowed me to see from them, she was careful of what I saw on the television as well. There were many shows and movies I could not watch. If I could not say the words or go to the places or mimic the actions, I could not watch them either. This post on the eternal describes this in more detail. To me, this lesson on discernment is one of the most important of all.

9. How to Give - My mom and dad are givers. They give of their time, their money, themselves. They have helped us countless times and want nothing in return. They've let us borrow money when we struggled financially. They watched our 3 kids for nearly 2 weeks when we were back and forth in the hospital with Tyler. They bless us continually. But what's more impressive is that they are like that with others as well. I could tell you story after story of times my parents gave to others, times when they openly blessed someone, and times when they paid a bill discreetly and the receiver of the blessing never knew who to thank. They don't live this way for recognition; this is who they are. Givers. 

10. To Love Unconditionally - I know there were times I let my mom down, times when I disappointed her. There were choices that I made that broke her heart. Yet, she loved me. Really, truly, wholly loved me. She cried when I cried, even when my tears came because I didn't heed her counsel. She blessed me, even when I didn't deserve it. She spoiled me, but wouldn't let me become a brat. She loves me, no matter what. Neither Leighton nor my brother's wife will tell you that she's a "typical mother-in-law." She's Mom. She loves them like her own. It's evident how much she loves her grandchildren too just by watching them. Every time my kids see her at church, or when we go to her house weekly, or when she comes to ours, they have the same reaction: "Gramma! Gramma! Gramma!" and they run into her arms. It makes me smile and brings tears to my eyes to think about how much love is in my life. I am truly, truly blessed.  

My mother has taught me much more than just these 10 examples. I could go on to explain more lessons that I have learned including Mom Knows Best, How to Be a Friend, and To Do My Best, along with countless more. The older I get, the more I learn. When I questioned her ways, she used to tell me "You'll understand when you have kids." That was one of the wisest things she's said. More and more, the applications behind the lessons are evident in my life. I am reminded again of Ezekiel 16:44, “Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.” I am proud to be like my mother. I thank God for giving me to her. And I love her so very much.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Thank you for diligently teaching me when I was young, for continually teaching me now, and for being my very best friend. I love you.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 5/10/13

Jake (7), Alyssa (5), Zac (3½), Tyler (1) 

Happy Friday! It's a long list this week, so . . . let's get to the Smiles!

1. Alyssa: "This shoe is tight on me."
Me: "That's probably because it's on the wrong foot."

2. Me, kissing on Zac: "I could just kiss you and kiss you and kiss you! Could I kiss you forever???"
Zac, leaning his cheek toward me: "Sure, go ahead."

3. Zac and I were awake early one morning.
Me: "Shh, everyone's still sleeping."
Zac, whispering, innocently: "You're not still sleeping . . . and Daddy's at work. Not everyone's still sleeping."

4. Going on a date with Jake to a special mothers' day celebration in his Sunday School class. 

5. Zac, because I gave him watermelon: "You're a sweetie!"

7. Tyler picked up a chocolate bar, looked at me and said, "Eat!"

8. Alyssa, looking through my kitchen utensils: "What's this?"
Me: "A meat thermometer."
Alyssa: "So you know if it's sick or not?"

9. Me: "Why are you crying?"
Zac, bawling loudly: "I don't knoooow!"

10. Zac: "I am the only one to love you."
Me: "Oh, are you?"
Zac: "Yes. I love you all by myself."

11. Alyssa: "Tyler has a double chin."
Jake: "So does Millard Fillmore."

12. While reading a character-building devotional book with the kids (review coming in a few weeks), I said "it was eating her alive," meaning that the situation was difficult and stressful. My children literally thought it was eating her alive! The looks on their faces were priceless.

13. Zac: "Is it my half-birthday?'"
Me: "Yes, it was."
Zac: "When's it going to be my fixed birthday?" (because if it's only a half, it must be 'broken'.)

14. Zac, sad: "Mommy, I love you, but Jake said you're always jovial. And you're not. You're mommy."

15. Jake: "If Dad doesn't sell his truck, can we fill it with shaving cream and leave it in the hot sun?"
Me: "Why?"
Jake: "So it'll blow up!"
Me: "Says who?"
Jake: "MythBusters." 

16. Zac: "I don't have an attitude now. See? My face is smiling."

What made you smile this week?

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Our first 3 children each walked holding on to furniture at 5-6 months and walked independently at 9-10 months.

Our 4th child cruised along furniture at 6 months old, too. At 9 months, he kept right on cruising . . . still holding on to anything he could. Over the next few months, he took a step or two here and there, letting go of a couch or chair just long enough to get to another object. He walked as often as he could, as long as he had the security of an immoveable something. 

I thought it was wonderful. My baby was staying a baby! Yes, it's always so exciting when they learn to walk. Those first wobbly steps. The smiles of excitement. The looks of pride. But I was happy to keep him as a "baby" a while longer. The years are quickly fleeting; I want to soak in as much as I can, lengthen their childhoods. Remember each moment. (Well, at least the good ones, ha!)

This video was taken last night. When we first grabbed the camera to tape these precious steps, he was only walking a couple feet. This was the longest stretch he had gone. 

I absolutely love this stage. Every time he lets go of a chair and starts walking across the room, one of us will say, "Look! He's walking!" Each time he stands, using the wall as leverage, and takes off in pursuit of another toy, the whole family watches in excitement. 

Today, he's been walking as much as possible, letting go of any stability. Just because he can. It's exciting, yes, but it's a little sad, too. Once he masters walking, he'll never go back to this wobbly step-taking. And we won't want him to. We want our children to grow and mature and learn new things. We find joy in their accomplishments. But each new beginning is the end of something else. The season of our baby crawler is ending. The time of our big boy toddler is just beginning. And with it comes a whole new level of fun - running around, playing at the park, independence. 

The reality is that our baby is growing up. We'll revel in each new milestone, while fondly remembering times past. 


* I know that each child is different and that they all progress individually when they are ready. I believe that Tyler's severe ear infections may have hindered his ability to walk, throwing his equilibrium off. Praise the Lord, he is passed that!  *

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Phonics and Readng with McGuffey App

My kids love using the iPad, and I love giving them educational apps to use. That's why I was excited to review Phonics and Reading with McGuffey from LiteracySoft.

The app is based on McGuffey's Eclectic Primer Revised Edition, the most successful education textbook of all time. The 53 lessons allow the student to learn at his own pace and gives him the confidence he needs to read at a first grade level.

The app is designed to accomplish the following:
  •  Ensure no expert phonics supervisor is needed for students to gain maximum value from the lessons
  • Work for any literacy level 
  • Act as your own personalized tutor, except in a computer 
  • Let students set their own pace, repeating or slowing down lessons as much as they like 
  • Guide your student step-by-step through reading and spelling practice 
  • Provide multi-sense learning including sound, vision, and motion to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles 
  • Utilize the power of synthetic phonics – the dyslexia-busting learning technique 
  • Be simple and easy to use for students at any level

I downloaded it to the iPad (also available for PC) and handed it to Alyssa, my 5-year-old. The set-up was easy. She chose a spot on the user screen and typed in her name. From there, she started the lesson. The app is designed to be the teacher, so my presence was not really needed. I sat with her as she completed the first few lessons, but she often went off by herself after that. (Though that was because she was trying to get away from her noisy brothers!) 

I really have mixed feelings about this app. For one thing, when it gives the sound of r in lesson one, instead of saying a true r sound, he says "ruh." It does the same thing with p, b, and g also. Alyssa used to pronounce the sounds correctly when she was sounding out words, but I've noticed her adding that "uh" to the end of the letter. 

Another pronunciation that I don't like is the word a. In this case, the word should be pronounced "uh," but it is said as a long a (ay) sound. 

One more thing, and this may just be me being picky, but I'm a little undecided about the phonics blender section in the levels. While Alyssa (and her two brothers) loves switching the letters to make words, I'm not so sure it's helping with the spelling of real words. For instance, since the McGuffey Primer teaches the z sound of s (like in has) before it teaches the typical s sound (like in sat) or before it teaches the z sound, the app teaches it that way as well. So, as the kids were playing around, Alyssa decided to spell Zac's name since when she touched the s, it sounded like z. She wrote sac, but it pronounced it as Zac. Does that make sense? They were able to make many real (and silly) words as the lessons went on, but many times it was not as they were truly spelled. One of them would say, "Look, Mom, I made _____!" And though that's what the voice said aloud, that's not actually what they spelled. For instance, pal would be pronounced as pale because they chose the ā, mon is said as moon, rum becomes room because of the ū, and so on.

But there are some good points that I really like, too. For one thing, it matches up to the McGuffey Primer. We've used some of the McGuffey books with our oldest and now I can use the Primer right along with the app to reinforce what Alyssa is learning. And what's even better is that she likes using the app and even asks if she can do it! Even though little Zachy is only 3, he likes "playing" it, too. They always laugh at the silly little animated graphics and really enjoy making words in the phonics blender. While there are aspects that I don't like, the two of them are learning from it. I have seen an improvement in Alyssa's reading.

The full version of Phonics and Reading with McGuffey costs $19.99. You can also try the lite version or the first 10 lessons on the PC for free and download a free copy of McGuffey's Primer in color to aid in the lessons.

Want to see what other families thought about this app? You can head over and read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 5/3/13

Jake (7), Alyssa (5), Zac (3), Tyler (1)

Happy Friday! Things have been busy this week as we've gotten back into celebrating the national "holidays."  The kids have so much fun and learn some neat things along the way.  Tyler has decided that he's a big boy now and is finally trying to walk. He's consistently taking 4-5 steps before he gets too excited and falls over. I think the chronic ear infections may have hindered his equilibrium and prevented him from trying much. Not anymore! That boy is ready to go! Hope you've all had a good week, too.

1. Alyssa: "I think sleeping made my hair look prettier."

2. Jake: "I want to play real hockey so I can make hundreds of dollars and buy tracts and Bibles and pass them out and be a missionary."

3. Zac: "I love you so much! More than the iPad."

4. Jake: "Tyler is so cute after he wakes up from a really long nap. He's like spring after a long winter."

5. Alyssa, after running into the wall and getting large bump on her head: "Why did they make the wall so hard?"

6. Grandma came over with a little chocolate.

7. Zac, walking around the house yelling: "Mommy! Mommy, where are you?"
Me: "I'm right here. What's wrong?"
Zac: "Nothing. I just wanted to give you a kiss."

8. Jake: "Guess which verse {neighborhood boy who is always causing trouble} doesn't know? Be sure your sin will find you out."

9. Jake, while working on the computer: "Wow, you have a lot of tabs open."
Me: "I always have a lot of tabs open."
Jake: "Yeah, but you really have a lot open today."

10. Zac, because I was walking around the house singing: "You're Sleeping Beauty!"

11. Leighton hung the birdhouses on Tuesday and we already have a renter!

12. Zac: "The whole world is covered in ice cream!"

13. Jake, holding a bag of ice under hot running water: "They're melting like little people covered in hot lava!"

14. Zac: "My arm still hurts. Can you take it off until it feels better?"

What made you smile this week???

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