Saturday, June 27, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 6/26/15

Jake (9½), Alyssa (7), Zac (5½), Tyler (3), Nicholas (6 months)

Happy Weekend! Today is a bonus day as I just posted a Smile list yesterday. You can never Smile too much!

1. Jake, because Nicholas bit my finger: "He thinks he's Gollum and you're Frodo."

2. Zac: "Do I have to wear my tie tonight (to church)?"
Me: "I guess not."
Jake: "He doesn't like being handsome. Zac, there a 3% chance you'll never get married if you're not handsome."

4.My mom giving Nicholas his first taste of a sucker.

5. Me: "Could you hold him for a minute, please?"
Alyssa: "Hold Nicky? It would be an honor."

6. Tyler, wearing Alyssa's sparkly purple shoes: "Mommy, can we go to church or Gwamma's?"
Me: "Not right now."
Ty: "But I'm wearing shoes!"

7. Zac: "I kinda don't like what I got from the store But I love it! Even more than I don't like it."

8. Tyler: "I'm hungry."
Me: "You are? How about an apple?"
Tyler: "Hmm, no. How 'bout ice cream!"
Me: "No."
Tyler: "Oh. How 'bout cookies?"
Me: "No."
Tyler: "Hmm, how 'bout Oreos?"
Me: "No, no junk."
Tyler: "Uuugh. Can I have someping to drink instead?"

9. Tyler: "Mommy, I'm making a train track! What are you making?"
Me, standing holding Nicholas: "I'm making a baby not cry."
Jake: "Good job."


11. Jake: "If I got a dollar for every time I heard, 'Tyler Joseph!' I'd be rich. "

12. Tyler, to Nick: "If you want me, you have to catch me!"

13. Zac: "Why are red and green Christmas colors?"
Alyssa: "I know! Red because of Jesus' blood when He died on the cross and green because of evergreens. Evergreens remind me of Jesus because you can live forever."

What made you Smile this week?
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 6/19/15

Jake (9½), Alyssa (7), Zac (5½), Tyler (3), Nicholas (6 months)

Happy Friday! I'm a week behind again, but the Smile's are still worth sharing. This week Leighton and the boys had a father/son camp-out at the church, Alyssa and I canned 3 batches of triple berry jam, and we started our summer school schedule. Nicholas turned 6 months old, got his second tooth, and is starting to sit up on his own. It's been another great week!

1. Me: "Did you mark anything off your list yet? Brush teeth, get dressed, make bed?"
Zac, excited: "No, I just don't know which one to do first. They're all so good!"

2 Alyssa, because I unbuttoned her dress: "Thank you. You're very helpful."

3. Tyler, cuddling with me in bed: "I'm so glad I can sleep in your bed."


5. Zac: "I'm hungry. May I have some gum, please."
Me: "That won't help with your hunger."
Zac: "May I have all the gum, please?"

6. Jake: "Mom! Alyssa's torturing me!"
Me: "You probably deserve it."

7. Alyssa: "I'm sure it will make it feel better. Or worse."

8. Tyler, staring out the window. "I can't wait for Gwamma can come."

9. Watching Abbott & Costello skits with the kids and listening to them laugh.


11. Me: "Don't stay up all night reading."Alyssa: "I won't. I won't read the whole book . . . But if I do, I won't read a single book after that."

12 Jake, because Nicholas reached for Legos: "Hey, I'll cook your innards. Stop it."

13. Zac: "Homeschoolers? We're homeschoolers! And you're our teacher!"
Me: "Yes, and I'm also your mom. Isn't that cool?"
Jake: "That means you get to torture us even more." 

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media Review

The internet can be a valuable resource. We use it daily, whether it's to look up a recipe, catch up with friends, watch a movie, find information, listen to music, play games, or more. And while there is much good associated with it, there is also the potential for much evil. As parents, we strive to shelter our children from that dangerous content while they're young and teach them to abstain from it as they grow older. Our computer stays in the kitchen in our view and the kids are to ask us to help them if they want to search for something.  But what if there was a site where they could watch videos, listen to music, or play a game without inappropriate pop-up ads or links to other websites? And all the videos are child-safe. There is such a site: SmartKidz Media.

We were given a year-long membership to the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. Not only can I trust the content to be safe, but also mostly educational. The library is a controlled learning environment filled with a diverse collection of entertaining multimedia content. The exclusive content is continually expanding and cannot be found anywhere else on the internet. 

The library is categorized by type.
  • World of Discovery -- This section contains all the science and history videos. You'll find hours of educational videos from animal babies to action sports, ancient cultures to pilates sessions, World War II to sushi techniques, bizarre science to discovering Egypt.
  • Music & Fine Arts -- This content along with the World of Discovery is a subcategory of the family media section. Here you will find classical, cultural, jazz & blues, and relaxation music.
  • Mighty eBook Collection -- This, and every topic afterwards, is part of the reading and learning center. These flash-animated eBooks entertain while encouraging literacy. The text is highlighted and synchronized with the voice and includes sound effects and music. The books are sorted by age and type. They vary from Bible stories and songs to nursery rhymes, Aesop's Fables to phonics emphasis, and more.
  • Baby Signs Program -- This program is based on over 20 years of research and helps babies to communicate and promotes literacy. There are individual videos about topics including bedtime, mealtime, dictionary words, songs, and even potty training.
  • My Animal Family -- These videos teach family value and respect for animals. They feature baby animals interacting with their families and are narrated in children's voices. You can see a day in the life of a chimpanzee, an elephant, a lion, or learn some fun facts.
  • Quick Find Study Guides -- These guides are filled with educational information containing hundreds of rules, definitions, and examples. Learn language arts with Shakespeare, Math with Newton, science with Einstein, or social studies with Ben Franklin. There are also aids for accounting and foreign languages.
  • Learning Special Needs -- This program is designed for those with disabilities and other special needs. The themed books and lesson materials teach children the life skills they need to grow. It teaches them personal skills, social skills, and coping skills. There are 2 options for each book: hear the book is an auto start to finish book and the interactive book is flash animated and contains clickable text. There are videos including learning about money, hand washing, community helpers, riding a bus, making cookies, holidays, recycling, and much more.  
  • Living Skills Program -- This upcoming section is filled with songs that will teach children the skills they need to live intelligently and responsibly. There will be song sets with lively singalong lyrics for babies all the way through age 10.
  • Ready Set Sing -- These albums contain over 200 favorite songs. There are songs for the little ones like Yankee Doodle, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, Wheels on the Bus, Do Your Ears Hang Low and songs for the older group like When I Was A Child, Leap of Faith, Awake n Laugh, Hush You Muskies
  • Fun Zone -- This section is where you'll find educational games and activities. It contains interactive learning games, jokes & riddles, and puzzles.

Since we have a more laid back schedule for the summer, I've chosen to let the kids choose which sections of the library they use. Of course, they all hang out in the fun zone at first, playing the games and completing the puzzles. Honestly though, there are not too many choices in that section currently and they soon head to the more educational videos. It's been interesting to see which of the videos the kids pick. Zac (5) likes to follow along with the eBooks in both the Mighty eBook Collection and the Learning Special Needs. Alyssa (7) loves to hang out watching the Baby Signs videos to learn to teach her baby brother. Jake (9) has been choosing to watch the historical videos. I personally have used the Music & Fine Arts the most.

I love that I don't have to worry about what content the kids may stumble upon while they're exploring the site. They have the freedom to search over 1,000 choices. Not only are they entertained, but they're learning, as well. Since it can be streamed anywhere at anytime on any device, it is very easy to use. I'm excited to see what new content is coming this summer and will incorporate the resources into our schooling as time goes on.

You can connect with SmartKidz Media on Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to see how other families used this resource, please read the reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

We look forward to Father's Day every year. Once we hit May and the day for mommies, the kids start a countdown until the awaited day. All year we try to show him our love whether it's racing to the door when he gets home to give him the first kiss, or drawing cards and pictures for him, or bringing up the garbage cans so he doesn't have to, or thanking him for all he does for us. But there's just something so exciting about setting aside a day all for Daddy. 

Since Sundays are spent at church the majority of the day, we cooked a special meal with dessert yesterday. He got his presents, cards, and questionnaires today. I can't speak for him, but to me, the questionnaires are the best part. I love sitting down with our little ones to ask the same questions we ask every year (questionnaires for 2014, 2013, and 2012). It's funny to hear the responses from the little ones and sweet to see how their answers change as they grow older. 

Even though he had a poor example growing up, I'm so thankful for the choices he's made and the daddy he is to our babies. And by reading their answers to questions like "what makes daddy happy" and "what does daddy really love," I know his children feel the same way.


By Jake, 9 yr:
My dad is 32 years old.
My dad weighs 125 lbs.
My dad is 5’10”.
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is anything Mom cooks.
My dad is really strong. He could lift a dresser.
My dad always says maybe.
My dad is the best at leading songs (at church).
My dad's job is demolition.
My dad and I like to work at the church.
My dad really loves Mom’s food.
I love my dad for a lot of reasons.
It makes my dad happy when I’m good.

By Alyssa, 7 yr:
My dad is 32 years old.
My dad weighs 50 lbs.
My dad is a foot tall.
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is the food Mom bakes.
My dad is really strong. He could lift Mommy.
My dad always says I love you.
My dad is the best at working.
My dad's job is working at Blue Star.
My dad laughs when we watch comedy shows.
My dad and I like to wrestle.
My dad really loves me.
I love my dad because he loves me.
What makes my dad happy? We do.

By Zac, 5 yr:
My dad is 32 years old.
My dad weighs 22 lbs.
My dad is 23 tall.
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is meatloaf.
My dad is really strong. He could lift 20 pieces of wood.
My dad always says I love you.
My dad is the best at working.
My dad's job is building stuff.
My dad laughs when we tell him a funny joke.
My dad and I like to play.
My dad really loves us giving him stuff.
I love my dad because he’s my dad.
It makes my dad happy when Mom makes his favorite food.

By Tyler, 3 yr:
My dad is 33 old.
My dad weighs a lot!
My dad is 100 million tall!
My dad's favorite color is green.
My dad's favorite food is broccoli.
My dad is really strong. He could lift the bunk bed!
My dad always says hi.
My dad is the best at Duclos (Lego Duplos).
My dad's job is to save Percy (train) out of the lava.
My dad laughs when I’m talking.
My dad and I like to give a kiss. I got the first kiss, haha!
My dad really loves me.
I love my dad because I love him!
What makes my dad happy? Me!

Happy Father's Day, Leighton! We love and appreciate you. Thank you for being a wonderful daddy.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dynamic Literacy Review

I have fond memories of learning morphemes with my dad. We'd sit around the table making up our own words by combining prefixes, suffixes, and roots. One of us would say a "word" and the other would figure out the definition by breaking down the morphemes (the smallest part with meaning of a word). It was practical teaching. Throughout the years, he taught me that I could have a basic understanding of almost any word (and could even understand many foreign words), as long as I had a grasp of the individual parts. So, imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to review a curriculum that focuses on teaching affixes.

WordBuild: Foundations, Level 1 is the first of a series of vocabulary products offered by Dynamic Literacy.  It's perfect for 3th-5th graders (or 5th-9th graders needing remedial work) as it moves past the learning of phonics and on to comprehension of words. The curriculum builds on students' prior knowledge by adding prefixes and suffixes to words they know. Once they are familiar with the process, they will be able to break down more difficult words and infer the definition. I love the way Dynamic Literacy describes the importance and potential of learning this way:
Learn 3 roots . . . and you know 3 words.
                                              Learn 3 suffixes . . . and you know 12 words.
                                              Learn 3 prefixes . . . and you know 48 words.       

Foundations has 3 parts: Basics Student Activity Book, Student Activity Book, and Teacher Edition.

The Basics Student Activity Book is a 20-page booklet that is used as a gentle introduction to prefixes and suffixes. The cute, colorful graphics throughout the book are used to help students form compound words and understand how the same portions of words are used and combined to make new words.

The Student Activity Book is the meat of the curriculum. This workbook (184 pages) teaches 30 prefixes, suffixes, and combinations. There are 5 types of exercises for each affix: affix square (combining an affix with a root and determining the definition), affix adder (combing an affix with more roots and writing both the definition and  sentence), magic square (matching words and definitions), word search, and fill in the blanks

The Teacher Edition contains all the solutions for the activity book, but it is so much more than an answer key. It includes more information about the topic, ideas for further study, discussion questions, review pages, and an in-depth teaching guide.

I focused on Jake (4th grade) for this set, since he fits the prime age and skill range. While he was the one to complete the assignments, I found my younger children joining in on the verbal lessons. What can we add to house to make new words? Doghouse. Birdhouse. Treehouse. Clubhouse. Dollhouse. Schoolhouse. Even the little ones enjoyed thinking of words. The Basics Student Activity Book was fun to complete. The lessons seemed more like games than work to my son, since they were like word puzzles that he had to decipher. Though the Student Activity Book was more challenging, he is liking it, as well. Since it is written for a 5-day schedule and we school 4 days a week, we combine 2 exercises one day so we can study 1 affix every week.

I like that the book is making him process the information to break down and combine the different parts of words. The only downfall I have with the program is the lack of review in the Student Activity Book itself. There are review pages in the Teacher Edition after every 5th affix, but I would like to see more review in the student's book. People retain information better with repetition. I am trying to point out the prefixes we've learned thus far as we use them and try to incorporate them more in our daily conversations.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful program that I expect will help my children understand how to decipher the meaning of unknown words and give them a good foundation for language.

You can connect with Dynamic Literacy on the following social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you'd like to read more reviews of this product or one of the other products offered by Dynamic Literacy, please head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 6/12/15

Jake (9½), Alyssa (7), Zac (5½), Tyler (3), Nicholas (5 months)

Happy Friday! This week has been filled with picture-painting, jewelry-making, board-game-playing, dessert baking, and book-reading. And lots of Smiling!

1. Jake: "I wish God made a vegetable that tastes like syrup."

2. Tyler, at Boyne Mountain: "I can see Boinging Mountain from here!" 

3. Jake, reading a book: "I don't mind too much if people make grammar mistakes, except for one thing: snuck. Ugh, that one really bugs me!"

4. Watching Tyler squirt himself with a spray bottle.

5. Alyssa: "Do you have any friends in the nursery?"
Tyler: "Yeah, Gwamma."

6. Zac: "I know where reindeer live. In the rain forest!"

7. Tyler: "Mommy, there's an M on my car! And when I turn it upside down, it changes to a W!" 

8. Zac, reviewing his incorrect answers on his online math program: "Oh! The blue button comes after the cherry. I picked the green one the first time, because I thought it was chasing after the cherry like, 'It's after me!'"

9. Me: "Why are you still up?"
Her: "I just finished my book! (the book that she had just started that night)
Me: "You've been reading this whole time? You were supposed to go to sleep a long time ago."
Her: "I didn't mean to read the whole thing. It was just so exciting I couldn't stop. I just had to know what was going to happen next."

10. Tyler: "Mommy, you're my BFF."

11. Jake, adamantly: "I am not marrying someone who goes to the store and always buys canned food."
Me: "What if she's never been taught how to cook? Don't you think you could teach her? Or I could?"
Jake: "Yeah, you can teach her. Every Saturday."

In case you missed it, last week's Smiles were posted last night.

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Things That Make Me Smile 6/5/15

Jake (9½), Alyssa (7), Zac (5½), Tyler (3), Nicholas (5 months)

Happy . . . Thursday? Yeah, I'm a bit late in posting. But it's a long list, so that makes up for it, right? We went away with my parents for the weekend and had a lot of fun. Then, later in the week, we celebrated Jake's 9-and-a-half birthday. So many reasons to Smile!

1. Tyler: "I want to play wif my Duplos."
Me: "You have to pick up your train tracks first. There's not even room in the living room."
Me: "Tyler, I told you to pick up your trains before you dumped out the Duplos."
Tyler: "It's ok; I dumped them in the hallway."

2. Tyler: "I want to slide down that mountain. It would be fun for me."

3. Tyler calling the street sweeper a sweep sweeper.


5. Jake, after I made the kids help me deep clean the boys' room and move the toys to our new playroom in the basement: "Thank you so much for making us do that. Sometimes when you make us do things we don't want to, we really appreciate it afterwards."

6. Jake, excited: "A raspberry and blackberry together is so good! It's like they were made for each other."

7. Tyler, because I had a clay mask on my face: "No, don't get it on me!"
Me, laughing: "I was just teasing. Don't make me laugh. The mask is drying, and I can't move my face."
Alyssa: "Don't worry; I'll laugh for you. Ahahaha!"

8. Zac, after my mom bought the kids a treat: "Mommy, do you want a Twinkie? It's a piece of cake that looks like bread. And it actually has the frosting inside of it!"

9. Jake: "Could you look for more books by Frances Hodgson Burnett, please?"
Me: "Sure. What did she write?"
Jake: "The Secret Garden--and it's really hard to stop reading it."

10. Tyler, eating a sandwich: "Mommy, F! F, f, f, ffffff! F!"

11. Jake, at the Tigers game with Leighton: "You mean they actually get paid to play baseball?"

12. Alyssa: "Can you make more granola today, please? All the different kinds of granola are gone, and if you don't make more, I'm going to have to eat {said with disgust} Cheerios."

13. Jake: "Mom! I just fell off my bike and slid across the sidewalk a few inches! It was awesome!"

14. Alyssa: "For some reason, every time Nick's up, I play with him.

15. Tyler, looking at digital numbers: "What number is this?"
Me: "65."
Tyler: "My goodness, I thought it was 62."

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Famous Men of Rome Review

Just 2 months ago I posted our first experience with Memoria Press (the program has been working so well that we are continuing to use it), and here we are with another curriculum to review

Memoria Press is known for its easy-to-use classical Christian materials. They believe in the "cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful" by training in the liberal arts and studying great books and great thinkers of the Western Tradition. Their products are characterized by 3 things: simplicity, quality, and affordability. They are designed to be used by anyone from an inexperienced homeschool parent to a seasoned classroom teacher. Of all their fabulous programs, we've been using the Famous Men of Rome Set.

The Famous Men of Rome Set includes the following:
Famous Men of Rome textbook
Famous Men of Rome Student Guide
Famous Men of Rome Teacher's Guide

The Famous Men of Rome textbook is filled with 30 stories covering Ancient Roman history. You'll read about Romulus and the founding of Rome, Horatius and the defeat of the Etruscan army, Julius Caesar and his assassination, Nero and his rise to power, and about many lesser-known men. Each story is easy to read. It's geared toward grades 4-8, but I found myself caught up in the stories, as well. Each story has at least one colored illustration and many black and white drawings. The back of the book includes a glossary of people and places as a quick reference to important information along with full-color maps.

The Famous Men of Rome Student Guide has a corresponding lesson for each story of the textbook and there is a review after every 5th lesson  The lessons are broken into 4 parts: Facts to Know, Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, and Activities.
  • Facts to Know: lists the most important facts, generally people and places, from the story. It often includes a quote. This is the foundation of the memory work.
  • Vocabulary: highlights more difficult words, pulled directly from the text in the book. There is space for the student to write the definition.
  • Comprehension Questions: helps the student find the most valuable information from the stories and recognize the virtues and indiscretions that took place. There is enough space to write the answers in complete sentences.
  • Activities: incorporates many exercises to enhance the lesson, including maps, timelines, discussion questions, and writing prompts. It integrates lessons from Bible stories, Greek mythology, and the modern world.
 The back of the book contains maps, drawing pages, timeline, a pronunciation guide, and other resources.    

The Famous Men of Rome Teacher's Guide is exactly the same as the student guide but with all the answers given. It also includes a test for every 5th lesson to be copied and given to the student.

My 9-year-old loves history. And battles. And weapons. And action. I knew he'd be drawn to this curriculum. While there are lesson plans you can purchase, it does not come with the set. We started doing 1 lesson a day: all 4 parts of the student guide along with reading the story. It took a while to complete, but he enjoyed it. The problem was that he was flying through the lessons without retaining the information. We slowed the lessons down. For our 4-day schooling week, we followed this schedule:

Day 1: He and I review the Facts to Know and discuss the Vocabulary.
Day 2: He reads the story.
Day 3: He completes the Comprehension Questions, getting help as needed.
Day 4: He and I complete the activities together.

This schedule has been working out much better for us. He absolutely loves the stories--loves them--but isn't so crazy about the accompanying questions, because they're "kinda hard." There really is a lot of information in this set and could easily fill and entire school year with the extra activities and resources that are listed. For us, personally, I think we're going to discuss the vocabulary words and just enjoy the action-filled stories. We'll work through the set again and focus on the comprehension questions when my guy is a little older.

You can connect with Memoria Press on Facebook and Twitter.

If you'd like to read more reviews of this study or are interested in the Latina Christiana or Ancient Romans sets, head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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