Friday, February 28, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 2/28/14

 Jake (8), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½)

Happy Friday! It's been a constantly-try-to-keep-Tyler-out-of-trouble week. I think it's obvious after reading through the kids' quote, too. He keeps us busy and makes us Smile.

1. Jake: "My haircut matches my shirt."

2. Jake: "Tyler's good at anything that involves being bad."

3. Jake: "Zac, stop chewing with your mouth."

4. Zac, to Tyler: "Don't touch anything!"

5. Jake let Alyssa help him make pancakes and kept referring to her as his "junior assistant." 

6. Me, giving a clue while playing a guessing game: "It's something I really like."
Alyssa: "Daddy!"

7. Jake, to Tyler: "Just because you're cute, doesn't mean you're going to get everything you want."

8. Alyssa, chewing: "I never knew paper tasted like snow."

9. Jake: "Tyler is known for his trouble. Not that many people know him though, so it's ok."

10. Jake: "Do you know my Bible's name? Holy Bible."

11. Jake, about Tyler: "If there isn't any trouble he can get into, he makes some." 

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, February 27, 2014 Review

My kids love science. They love it so much that I think they could spend all day exploring and experimenting. I knew they'd be excited to review a 6-month online subscription. is an online, interactive, standards-based curriculum made by the creators of Although it's geared toward kids in grades K-2, students in grades 3-5 can utilize the lessons for review. Their mission is to provide a solid foundation of scientific concepts to early elementary students and to equip the teachers with the support and resources necessary to ensure that it happens. 

There are over 350 lessons that are divided into books of science: physical, inquiry, life, and earth/space.

This book teaches kids how the world around them works. It focuses on matter (materials and mixtures, observing matter, states of matter, changes of matter), energy (sources, light, heat, sound, electrical, transformations), and force and motion (location and perspective, motion, force, magnets, simple machines). It teaches the student the name and reasons behind concepts that he already understands (gravity, energy, friction, perspective). It makes learning these new terms fun by teaching with hands-on activities, games, and interactive lessons.
This book consists of two units: science tools and think like a scientist. These lessons use a student's natural desire to play and experiment, begins to show how observations can be analyzed, and builds skills toward the scientific method. It uses tools such as quantitative and qualitative observations, the 5 senses, rulers, balances, scales, and hands-on activities. It helps students understand that there are different ways to solve problems, compare and contrast, and evaluate data. The student will study graphs, table and charts and even language skills. This book allows the student to learn valuable science skills at his own level.

This book is divided into two units: living things (living/nonliving, plants, animals) and balance in nature (food webs, habitats, eco awareness). In this branch, the student will practice classifying, categorizing, observation, and record keeping. He'll learn to distinguish mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. He'll also study how living things interact with the world around them. Using animated characters, engaging activities, and fun games to master vocabulary terms such as omnivore, herbivore, carnivore, predator, prey, extinction, and endangered and invasion species.    

These complex topics are also divided into two units: earth (history, materials, features, weather) and space (exploring the universe, earth in space). This study involves both tactile exploration and abstract concepts. It starts with building a timeline of the student's life and works through imagination using concrete activities to teach about abstract concepts. It studies, rocks, water, landforms, thermometers, gauges, patterns, cycles, and seasons. Using example a young child can understand now, will build the foundation for further study of our planet, solar system, and universe. 

Considering the elaborateness of the program, you'd think it would be difficult to navigate. It's not. Not at all. There is a section for the parent/teacher. There, you can choose specific modules for the individual student's lesson plans, review the students' reports, learn teaching strategies, watch explanatory videos, and download corresponding worksheets. Once the student is logged in, he knows exactly what is on the lesson plan for the day. 

Though the option of specifically setting the activities for the day can be very beneficial, we chose not to follow that route. My kids Jake (8), Alyssa (5), and Zac (4) can log-in to the program and completely navigate it by themselves. They choose which books and study of science they want to learn. Because we have two computers and three children old enough to use the program, I often have two children sitting and "playing" science and one child running back and forth between the two. Eventually, I'll hear, "Is it my turn? Can I play now?" None of them ever get off without my telling them to--that's how much they love this! They would sit and play for hours, if I'd let them. They have so much fun watching the videos, playing the games, singing the songs, and learning valuable science skills. They ask to play even on days that aren't typical school days. To my kids, this isn't just school. It's fun!  They have the option to save the tasks in their notebooks. Because they enjoy this so much, Alyssa has started to write things down in a real notebook. She draws pictures and makes notes of the things she's learning.

To say that we're enjoying would be an understatement. I love its complexity of information, yet simplicity of use. The kiddos reference the program many times a day in their vocabulary and observations. It's not simply a fun way to bide their time, it's truly teaching them scientific facts.

A membership costs $7.95 per child per month. If you'd like to see if this program would work for your family, read their scope and sequence or check out the demonstration lessons. Even before we received our subscription, my kids played the demos many times. 

You can connect with through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

To see how other families used this program, click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 2/26/14

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KinderBach Review

The 2014 Schoolhouse Review Crew year has begun! We are very excited to see what fun and challenging things we get to share with you this year and what products will benefit our homeschool the most.

We started the year with an area that is important to our family: music. Leighton has a music major and is the music director at our church. I sing in the church choir and played the piano many, many years ago. Many years. Alyssa, our 5-year-old, has a desire to learn to play the piano. I could take the time to teach her myself, but it's been many years, remember? It's so much easier to let KinderBach do the teaching.   

The KinderBach online piano lesson membership with teacher corner is designed to give kids ages 3-7 an early introduction to music. Studies prove that the piano is the best instrument with the most benefits to aid brain development and that this is the age frame that is the most opportune to begin playing. The program incorporates videos, worksheets, music, and cute characters into a fun learning experience. It teaches note reading, rhythm, singing, composition, and music vocabulary. It can be used both at home and in the classroom. Karri Gregor, the creator, talks to the kids on their level and draws them in.

The lessons can be viewed on DVD, but we used the online portion. It made it so simple to hook up our small keyboard in front of the laptop as Alyssa completed her lessons. The lessons are short and engaging. The student not only learns about music by watching the video, but also by having fun with games, puzzles, coloring, and singing. For the most part, Alyssa watched the lessons by herself, but I joined in on the games or coloring at times. Everything's more fun with a friend, right? 

There are 6 levels (60 weeks) of interactive lessons and 240 videos. They start with the simplest introduction of the piano keyboard and end with scales and rhythm songs. There are plenty of fun printable pages that coincide with the lessons. Activities from coloring to cutting, pasting, and more keep the little ones involved. There are also games to get them moving. Alyssa loves getting some rhythm instruments and playing along with the characters on the screen. 

The program is simple enough for a child to use on his own. Once I log in, Alyssa can navigate the videos on her own and gather the needed daily supplies (worksheets, crayons, scissors, glue, rhythm instruments, etc). Since the program is self-paced, the child can work through the videos as he chooses. Each video is actually pretty short (most less than 5 minutes), so Alyssa will watch multiple videos a day.

Alyssa loves learning with KinderBach. She enjoys all the aspects of the program. I love that she loves it. The only thing I can say that is somewhat negative is that this is a very early learning program. In order to truly be able to play the piano, she will need something more. The again, KinderBach is meant for kids 3-7, to give them an early introduction, not to made them professional pianists. So, it is accomplishing it's purpose.    

Memberships start at $7.99 a month and can be used with the entire household. From now until February 28, you can save an extra 40% with coupon code KBclear2014. You can even try 2 free weeks of the program. To get instant access to all 6 levels or to purchase any extras (coloring pages, MP3s, CDs, sheet music, story books, etc) click HERE.

You can follow KinderBach on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Would you like to see how other families used this? You can read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 2/21/14

Jake (8), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½) 

What a hectic, fun weekend it's been! My family gives me plenty of reasons to Smile.

1. Zac, looking outside, dejected: "It's like the whole world's covered in snow."

2. Alyssa: "I hate meat. It gives me less energy."


4. Tyler: "Daddy. Daddy."
Me: "Aw, Daddy's at work. Do you miss your daddy?"
Tyler: "Uh huh." 
5. Zac: "Mom, I love you. You're so cutesy."

6. Me, holding 2 pieces of broken, white plastic: "Does anyone know what these go to?"
Jake & Alyssa: "No."
Zac, contemplating: (ten seconds later) ". . . It goes to something white."


8. Zac, because I was singing along with a song that was playing: "No wonder I heard 2 sings. It was you!"

What made you Smile this week?
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 2/14/14

Jake (8), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½) 

Happy Friday! I'm a week behind again. I've realized that if I don't get a chance to post my list on Fridays, I have a hard time getting it done throughout the week. Creatures of habit, I guess. That just means that we get 2 lists of Smiles this week! 

1. Zac, looking out the window: "It's so sunny out there, it's going to burn my eyes down."

2. Alyssa: "In Jesus Love the Little Children, when it says 'red and yellow, black and white' who's the 'yellow'?"
Me: "Like Chinese and Japanese people."
Alyssa: "Well, I know who the red are . . . People with sunburns."

3. Zac, taking apart a K'nex creation: "Tyler, can you help me? You're good at tearing things up."


5. Jake: "Why does food taste so good? 'Cause Mom made it."

6. Tyler said "I love you" for the first time. 

7. Alyssa, rubbing her head on a pillow to make her hair staticky: "My hair can be Medusa!"

8. Me: "Is there anything you'd like Daddy to pick up from Randazzo?"
Alyssa: "Ice cream!"
Me: "He's not getting--"
Tyler, running as fast as he can from the other side of the house: "Ie pream! Ie preeeam!!!"
9. Jake, astounded: "Do you know what I heard at church? There used to be this thing called sending letters to people.

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 2/7/14

Jake (8), Alyssa (5½), Zac (4), Tyler (1½) 

 Happy Friday! This week involved playing in the snow, getting a new couch, and Leighton making me an amazing birthday cake. I hope you had a Smile-filled week, too. 

1. Zac, sad: "Each of my gloves has only 5 fingers." 

2.  Alyssa: "Tyler, you look so perish! . . . What does perish mean?"
Me: "To die."
Alyssa: "No, Tyler, don't perish!"
Me: "You were thinking precious."
Alyssa: "What does precious mean?"
Me: "Special."
Alyssa: "Yeah, Tyler, you look so precious."

3. Me: "Maybe pretty soon you can start wiping your own butt."
Zac: "When I'm 10 I'll do that."

4. Alyssa: "Is the milk still good."
Me: "Yes."`
Jake: "But it says it was collected in the 19th century!"

5. Zac left me a surprise card in the fridge. 

6. Alyssa: "Jesus can do anything. He could even turn into a fly. But if someone had a fly swatter? . . . He would not want to be a fly."

7. Jake: "Please, please, please 1 more?"
Me: "I already read 3 chapters."
Jake: "A 4th one wouldn't hurt."
8. Alyssa: "You can't get hurt in heaven, right? There must not be any pointy things in heaven."


10. Zac, all bundled up in his snow gear: "My butt kinda hurts. Can you scratch it?

11. Zac: "Alyssa said she was going to give me a bloody nose!"
Me: "No, she's not. I won't let her."
Zac: "'Cause I'm your favorite child?"

12. Alyssa, yelling: "Mom! Can you tell Zac to be quiet?"
Zac, yelling: "I can't hear you! I'm too loud!"

What made you Smile this week?

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