Thursday, April 30, 2015

La La Logic

La La Logic -- the name just sounds fun, right? That's what I thought when we first had the opportunity to review the program. But then, when I started looking at it in more detail, I realized that it was more than just a cute name. I found that the Preschool Curriculum would be a good way to fill a need in our homeschool.

When we do school each day, my older kids (ages 9, 7, 5) are busy with their learning while the baby naps through much of it. That leaves Tyler, my energetic, bouncing-off-the-walls, always-into-something 3-year-old. While I do work on educational stuff with him, it's more play-based than structured. Meaning, once I get distracted with helping the others understand difficult concepts, he's left to throw rice from the sensory bin across the house. Or scatter foam letters throughout the house. Or dump every puzzle in the house. You get the idea. I knew it was time to focus on a more structured period of learning each day.

The curriculum is broken down into 100 weeks of learning with options of schooling either 4 or 5 days. There are both online and printable exercises, which makes a good variety of activities. The skill level gradually increases as you progress through the program.

The activities are broken into 3 categories.
  • Brain Challenge -- This is the online portion. These short games, that strengthen cognitive skills, help the child process information skillfully and and make connections to other material more easily. There are 5 games each week.
  • Worksheets -- These printable pages are more than just an assignment involving writing on a piece of paper. They cover a variety of skills: problem solving, critical thinking, and fine motor, to name a few. 
  • Extension Activities (Enrichment) -- This is the hands-on part of the program and where that play-based learning that young children relate to so well comes into effect. It incorporates short stories and poems, science experiments, physical activities, word exercises, and more into fun learning games.

La La Logic will take roughly 10-20 minutes a day.

  • Brain Challenge (with assistance)
  • Extra Practice (optional)
  • Enrichment Set
  • Brain Challenge (independently)
  • Wroksheet
  • Enrichment Set
  • Brain Challenge (optional)
  • Family Fun (fill in)

So, what did Tyler (3) think of his new school work? Well, he completed the Brain Challenge 5 times the first day! And then went on to the extra practice section, where he could choose his own exercises from the challenges. His smiles and excitement got the attention of his siblings, and soon all the kids were gathered around the computer. Since this curriculum is good for ages 3-6, I wanted to use it with Zac (5) too. The two of them actually choose to do the Brain Challenges 5 days a week and beg to be the first one to do it each day. Tyler tells me, "I have 'chool work too!" He loves being involved with the big kids. He can't quite maneuver the mouse yet and the touchscreen monitor doesn't work very well for the drag and drop portions, so he prefers to use the iPad, whereas Zac chooses the laptop. Even Alyssa (7) asks to join in on  most days.

We've been having a lot of fun with the Enrichment parts, too. We've done things like remembering the order of objects while someone else rearranged them, tosses a ball as we counted, discussed short stories, and more. The kids ask all the time, "What are we doing today?" Six weeks into the curriculum and they are definitely not bored with it.

Tyler's favorite part is the Brain Challenge, Alyssa's is the enrichment, and Zac's is all of it. To say that we are enjoying this program is an understatement.

We will be using La La Logic for a very long time. 

If my review doesn't convince you that this is a fun, engaging curriculum, perfect for little learners, then maybe this smile will.

If you like to see how other families used this program, you can read more reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
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Monday, April 27, 2015

February and March Purging Update

Oh, my. Is it really the end of April? And I'm just now posting my update for March? And February? My sweet hubby insists that I'm late updating because I'm been so busy purging that I haven't had the time to blog. Have I mentioned lately how much I love him? He's always there to encourage when I become discouraged with myself.   

Without further ado, here is how our house changed the last 2 months.

  • cleaned out the boys' clothes closet, pulled out stuff that was too small and reorganized the rest by style and size
  • donated a box of cassette tapes 
  • worked to organize the basement
  • cleaned under the boys beds, removing and putting away all toys/clothes/garbage, & vacuumed (yes, did this in January, but kids are kids)
  • reorganized our entertainment and mail center
  • organized my mason jars by size and type
  • reorganized Alyssa's dresser drawers, removing clothes that are too small
  • washed the living room curtains 
  • washed the living room walls
  • emptied the silverware drawer and washed it
  • deep cleaned the kitchen, cleaning all the nooks & crannies with a toothbrush
  • washed the kitchen chairs and cushions
  • purged some of the children's books (!), removing ones that were torn, duplicates, or whose stories were not to my liking
  • washed the living room windows inside and out, cleaning all the track and edges (with help from my boys)
  • replaced the organizer in the front closet and filled it with the kids' hats, gloves, and such   
  • collected all the LEGO Club magazines, punched holes, and put them in a 3-ringed binder
  • purged some nail polish
  • threw away a pile of socks that had been sitting unmatched for months
  • reorganized the medicine cabinet  

      Various walls throughout the house also got a good washing, but I wasn't the one who cleaned them.

      Tyler, my 3-year-old, decided to draw all through the hallway, part of my room, on Alyssa's door, in the living room, and by the front door. All in a couple minutes as I was feeding the baby, again, right before we were planning to walk out the door for church.

      He was given a bucket of soapy water and a rag and had to wash up his mess. There were some tears (from him) and a few laughs (from me). He may be a little stinker, but he sure is cute.

      Are you ready to see our donated items in February and March?

      Not too bad for months 2 and 3. (See January here.)

      Are you still keeping up with purging and cleaning your home? How are your efforts going?

      Don't forget, you can head over to Family, Faith, and Fridays and join in with the 34 Weeks of Clean challenge.

      Happy Purging!

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      Friday, April 24, 2015

      Things That Make Me Smile 4/24/15

      Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (4 months)

      Happy Friday! Lots of reasons to Smile this week!

      1. Zac, because I cut a mango for him: "You are the best mom I ever had."

      2. I meant to add this to our geocaching post the other day. We had forgotten a pen and couldn't sign the logs. This took place after our first found cache . . .

      Me: "Do you think God left a pen for us somewhere?"
      Jake: "I prayed and asked Him to."
      Me: "So did I."
      Jake, surprised: "Really?!"

      Immediately, he gasped. Two feet in front of him was a broken pencil. Leighton sharpened it with his pocket knife and we were able to sign the logs. More than that, it was exciting to have an instant answer to prayer and show our kids that God cares about even the small things. 

      3. Jake, playing bakery with play dough, nonchalantly: "If you get fired, you die. You either walk into a pit of lava or we drop a piano on you."
      Zac: "Uh, here's a cupcake to calm you down."

      4. Tyler: "Mommy, I'm hungry. Can I have a taco."
      Me: "I don't have any tacos."
      Tyler: "Oh. Can I just have ketchup?"

      5. Tyler "helping" Leighton: "Look, a circle! Daddy made a rectangle! A square shape! Daddy made a bus! Daddy, I need another hole over here. We need a triangle. Daddy, we need a BIG hole! How you can do that, Dad? Can we make MORE holes? Can you put more holes now? It would make me so happy. Daddy, can I color this wall?"

      6. Zac: "Nicky was small, and now he's big. It must be magic."

      7. Alyssa: "Mom! Zac is hitting me!"
      Me: "Zac, if you choose not to behave, you will go to your room and take a nap. Why were you being mean to her?"
      Zac: "Because she won't kick me out of her club."

      8. Zac: "One time, at Gramma's, she let me eat a pine cone and birdseed for dinner.
      Me: "Oh, did she? And if I ask her, what will she say?
      Zac: "She'll say, 'Yup, yup, yup!' Go ahead, ask her. {whispers to Alyssa} Get Mom's phone. I want to tell Gramma to say 'yup' when Mom asks."

      What made you Smile this week?
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      Thursday, April 23, 2015

      Things That Make Me Smile 4/17/15

      Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (4 months)

      Finally caught up on my Smiles! That in itself is a reason to be happy.

      1. Tyler: "That's yucky."
      Me: "Have you ever tried it?"
      Tyler: "Yes."
      Me: "No, you haven't."
      Tyler: "Oh, yeah . . . because it's yucky!"

      2. Tyler, looking at our roman numeral clock: "Look! It's X o'clock!"


      4. Zac, eating french toast: "Do they sell syrup at the store?
      Me: "Yes."
      Zac, confused: "So . . . it's just called syrup and not homemade syrup?"

      5. Zac, playing with the baby: "Guess who I love the most in our family."
      Me: "Nicky!"
      Zac: "Nope. You! Then Nicky."
      Alyssa: "I love you and Daddy the most. Well, Daddy's first. Then you."

      6. Jake: "If I get married and my wife is a good cook, we won't go to McDonald's. {Friend} thinks it's weird that we don't go to McDonald's, but I told him that it's too expensive and that our food at home is 50 million times better." 


      8. Tyler: "I'm hungry."
      Me: "What do you want?"
      Tyler: "Jelly beans."
      Me: "You're not having jelly beans for breakfast."
      Tyler: "But they're so yummy for me."

      What made you Smile this week?

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      Saturday, April 18, 2015

      The First of the Year

      The weather's been warming up and we've been itching to get out geocaching! (Not sure what geocaching is? Read this post.) We finally found the time to do that today. It was a beautiful day with a bit of a breeze. 

       The first cache of the year!

      Those pesky April Showers left large swampy areas just off the path throughout much of the trail. We had to skip some of the caches because we didn't feel like swimming through the muck to find them. We were able to spot one of the skipped caches, but couldn't sign the log.

      And what did we find once we got to dry land? A garter snake! The kids were fascinated watching their daddy pick it up with a stick to show them. Me? I stayed far away, to, uh, document it with pictures. Yeah.  

      The kids took turns riding in the wagon and running down the trail. 

      One of their favorite parts of caching is looking for items to trade. Alyssa found a pretty compact mirror that she quickly claimed and left a toy army guy in its place. Of course, the 2 pieces of the compact are already broken in two. Kids. She kept the pretty top portion and gave Jake the bottom. It's a 2-for-1 prize!

      There are so many reasons to enjoy caching. Finding the caches, of course, spending time with the family, getting fresh air and exercise, finding items to trade, and the newest one: making shadow puppets!

      Even though we couldn't find half of the caches because of the muck, we still had a fun first time out this year. I call that a successful trip!

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      Friday, April 17, 2015

      Things That Make Me Smile 4/10/15

      Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (3 months)

      Happy Friday! I said last week that my catchup Smiles from missing a week would be posted soon. See, soon is a relative word. Here we are, a week later, and my list is finally posted. Ah, well, one day I'll be caught up. For now, let's Smile!

      1. Alyssa, frustrated, reading a book: "The end! How can that be the end?!?"

      2. Zac: "I made up a song. Wanna hear it? {singing} Running, running down the street. Don't be scared. Don't be scared. It's just an earthquake!"


      4. Zac: "I love you this much! {stretches arms out to the sides} And I love Daddy this much! (stretches arms up and down}"
      He loves us the same amount, yet different ways.

      The following three quotes happened one night during family devotions.
      5. Leighton, after reading Ephesians 6:1-2: "Who knows what we're going to talk about tonight?"
      Zac: "Jesus!"
      6. Leighton: "Does anyone know what honor means?"
      Tyler: "Six!"
      7. Tyler: "Daddy, I'm supposed to be playing wif my trains."


      9. Me: "What was your favorite part about Easter?"
      Alyssa: "Getting baptized!"

      10. Alyssa, because I was trying to calm a crying Nicholas: "I wish you well."

      11. Alyssa: "Mom, I don't know what to do."
      Me: "You can go clean your room."
      Alyssa: {gasp} "I didn't say I was bored. I just don't know what to play."

      What made you Smile this week?
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      Wednesday, April 15, 2015

      First Start Reading Review

      It is always exciting when your child learns a new skill. Understanding the concept of fractions, memorizing the states and capitols, and learning how to bake a cake on your own are all great things, but my favorite thing to teach is reading. Why? Well, for one, most other subjects are dependent on the ability to read. You want to learn how to preform an experiment? You must read the instructions. You want to try a new recipe? You must read the directions. You want to find a cheat for that level of your game that you're stuck on {wink}? You must be able to read others' advice. Reading is a big deal in our home, and the foundation of our curriculum is based it. My 9-year-old is required to read a minimum of 1 1/2 hours every school day and then spend time reading on the weekends, as well. He will also spend time at night enjoying a book before he falls asleep. And while his love of reading didn't come naturally but had to be cultivated, it never would have happened had he not learned how to read in the first place. Yes, reading is highly regarded in our home.

      I taught first graders before staying home to raise my family and I've since taught 3 of my own children to read, so I've seen many different reading curricula. I'm always interested in seeing other programs though. We had the opportunity to review First Start Reading and since I've heard wonderful things about Memoria Press I was excited to try it out.

      The First Start Reading program includes 4 books (A-D) and a comprehensive Teacher Guide. Not only does this curriculum teach an age-appropriate approach to phonics and reading, but also instructs proper pencil grip and letter formation. It covers both short and long vowels, consonants, 45 common words, and manuscript printing. One thing that I appreciate about this curriculum is that it teaches the vowel-consonant approach, instead of the ladder approach. For instance, in a CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) word, the ladder approach teaches the student to read the first two letter together and then add the last letter (e.g. sa-t, sa-d, Sa-m). The vowel-consonant approach teaches the student through word families, or rhyming words (e.g. c-at, r-at, s-at). When I taught first grade in a private school, the curriculum was ladder-based. I, myself, have always used rhyming word families to teach my own children.

      I used these books with my 5-year-old. You know, there's a joke about homeschool kids not knowing what grade they're in. It's funny because it's true. Technically, he's too young to officially be in kindergarten (according to the cut-off date for the beginning of the school year), but he's been doing its work for many months now. My other kids will ask if he's in kindergarten. Yes, but no. Make sense? Regardless, since he's been reading for a while now, I started him halfway through the program, Book C.

      The book begins with learning the short E. The student colors pictures beginning with the sound, draws his own picture, and traces and writes both capital and lower case letters. From there, he practices blending that /e/ sound with other letters and then using those blends to write words. The student also learns common sight words, like have, are, of, put, and so on. Lesson 4 is where the real fun begins--reading a story! The short stories use those blends and sight words that the student has been practicing. They are broken down into chapters, or lessons, and give the student a place to draw and accompanying picture. At the end of the story, the student is tested on those words through dictation. The process repeats itself throughout the book. 

      The Teacher Guide includes instruction for the teacher, a word-for-word script that can be used for the student, and questions to further discuss the stories. 

      My son enjoys reading and was pleased to color the illustrations and draw his own pictures for the stories. He's not so crazy about the writing portions though, ha. I should clarify that his lack of excitement has nothing to do with the book and everything to do with the actual process. Generally, we complete 1 lesson a day. For the longer writing lessons, we might split them to 2 days, not because the lessons are too long, but because he's still strengthening and learning to control his writing. 

      I am enjoying using this curriculum. The lessons are short which is good for kindergarteners; the book teaches the material, applies it, and then reinforces by testing; and it includes a bit of fun with coloring and drawing. My son is doing well and I'm excited to see how he does in Book D.

      You can connect with Memoria Press on the following social media sites:

      Memoria Press offers many different products. You can  read more reviews of this reading program or their cursive curriculum on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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      Friday, April 10, 2015

      Things That Make Me Smile 4/3/15

      Jake (9), Alyssa (7), Zac (5), Tyler (3), Nicholas (3 months)

      Happy Friday! Last weekend was crazy busy with Easter activities, so I'm behind with my Smiles. Here are my catch-up Smiles. Look for a brand new list with this week's soon, too. Lots of Smiling going on! 

      1. Tyler, playing outside: "Mom, there's a dog barfing at me." (barking)

      2. The older kids usually fold their own clothes. Leighton was giving Zac a bath when we were doing laundry, so I fold his for him. Afterwards, I told him to put them away. A minute later he came to me with a smile and said, "Thank you for doing it like I do--shirts with shirts and pants with pants."

      3. Zac: "If I eat 2 halves, I can eat a whole."


      5.  Everyone was finished with dinner, except Tyler.
      Tyler: "Mommy, can I stand on the table?"
      Me: "What do you think?"
      Tyler: "Yes!"
      Me: "No."
      Tyler: "Ugh. Can I sit on the table?"
      Me: "What do you think?"
      Tyler: "Yes!"
      Me: "No. You're supposed to be eating dinner."
      Tyler: "Can I go outside?"
      Me: "No."
      Tyler: "Can I sit on the floor?"
      Me: "No."
      Tyler: "Can I stand on the counter?"

      Leighton: "Eat your dinner."
      Tyler: "But Mommy! But Mommy, I'm hungry!"

      6. Alyssa, writing her copywork: "I like When I See the Blood. It's a good song."

      7. Alyssa, to Nicholas: "Oh, I just want to sleep with you. You look like a cuddly teddy bear."

      8. Zac, impressed: "Whoa, Nicky! That was some big spit up. You're like a wild animal."


      10. Zac: "You are the best. mom. ever."
      Me: "Aw, and why's that?"
      Zac: "Because you make the best choices for us."

      11. Alyssa: "I read Horton Hatches the Egg last night. It was a really good book."

      12. Alyssa, while I was making dinner: "I smell something juicy!"

      13. Jake: "How did you know that?!?"
      Me: "Because I'm a mom. Moms know things."
      Jake: "Ok, what time was I born?"
      Me: "7:14."
      Jake: "Ah! How did you know?"

      What made you Smile this week?

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