Embracing a Healthy Family: homeschool
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts

My Fabulous Daughter the Self-Taught Cake Maker & Ovarian Cancer Survivor

When people think of homeschool, they don't always think of the way things really are. I think I was sort of ahead of the game when it came to homeschooling as 15 years ago, when my now 31 year old daughter started feeling out of sorts with the crowd at school, she wanted away from that bad influence. This is where I made the jump to take her out and find alternate ways to teach. We first started with a regiment plan of attending a course through Indiana University. After time, I chose the unschooling philosophy as she was the type that was already smart and could learn very easily. This flexibility allowed us to be more mobile and moves to places like New Jersey, Hawaii and Georgia were much smoother without the constraints of official school moves. Along the way, she was able to find subjects that interested her and with my own skills, she developed this into many different excellent skill-sets. She has battled ovarian cancer at a young age and is recently having issues with being able to carry a baby for whatever reason we don't know why but I tell her it's in God's hands.

Fast forward today, she's a very happy and fulfilled mother and housewife.  Yes, I said it. She is extremely happy being "just" a mother and a housewife. She does get caught up in the societal pressures that she must have a career and accomplish things outside the home like I did. I explained to her that being a single mother, I had to achieve that accomplishment to support her and later her other siblings. I also reinforced within her that success is many things and not just a paycheck or a title. Most of the time, she believes this and other times, I just smile and reassure her that she's a star and has the most important job of all and that is raising the future. Her children, now 9 and almost 5, are going to be upstanding, sound citizens and I couldn't be prouder! She's done it! She achieved what I call excellence as she's a fantastic daughter, a giving loving sister, a nurturing superior wife and mother. 

Throughout these many years, she has self-taught herself many skills such as sewing, cooking, baking and much more. She can make the most beautiful dresses and clothes. She can prepare an amazing feast and bake a killer cake. She also can do home repairs, lawn maintenance and she homeschools too. She does it all and quite frankly, she works harder than if she had an outside job in many cases. The whole point of this post was to showcase her cakes but as I started, I was pondering what a wonderful gift from God she is to all those she touches. She is simply amazing and I hope she believes in herself and recognizes what all that knows her knows.  

As my oldest, still my baby, continues on through life, I hope she knows how much she's loved and how talented she truly is! Thank you for looking at some of her amazing cakes and reading a bit about her very fulfilled life!

Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 by Easy Grammar Systems Review

Grammar is fundamental to every facet of life which is why I was eager to review Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 with the Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 Test Booklet by Easy Grammar Systems. Easy Grammar Ultimate Series: Grade 9 provides 180 daily lessons in only 10 minutes of time each day. It utilizes the concept of continued learning through daily application building on the previous day(s). Another bonus with this curriculum is the ability to reproduce (with limitations) the student pages from the teacher's text. If one does not want to copy the pages for subsequent students, they can purchase the student workbook. The answers are provided in the back making it a very easy open and go curriculum. There is a separate test book with the answers in the back of the book and an option to purchase a downloadable version. The covers of both books are made of a nice reinforced material that does not tear or crinkle easily.

How it Works

A lesson a day in approximately 10 minutes is the expectation for this curriculum. For this review, we utilized it four days a week over a six week review period. 

Each concept is first introduced, expanded, and reviewed in the text. The Scope & Sequence provides rules and which lesson it can be found. Each lesson is set up in a repeating format that will allow them to complete each lesson with ease while focusing on what they are learning.

Every lessons consists of five sections for every lesson:

  • The first section consists of capitalization errors that the student is required to identify and correct. 
  • Section 2 requires the student(s) to correct the punctuation by rewriting the sentence or they can utilize the sentence to provide the correction. I preferred to have mine rewrite the sentences.
  • Section 3 and 4 are the teaching, reviewing and the application of the grammar rules and concepts. It starts out teaching concepts and then subsequent lessons build on it such as incomplete sentences, fragments, and run-on sentences.
  • Section 5 is combining sentences which gave my daughter the hardest time. With my help, we were able to work through them with greater ease as we continued through each day. The knowledge learned in the prior sections and previous lessons help the student gain the knowledge and concept to work through these without as much trouble when they first begin the curriculum.

From my experiences with the curriculum, the level of teacher involvement is dependent on the child's skill level. However, in the Suggestions and Other Information of the Teacher Edition, it does have guidance on how to teach the lessons. I definitely utilized the helpful tips and found it was the key to working with my student.

Getting Started

After I read the answer key for each day, we proceeded with starting Day 1. The suggestion is to have the student provide their insight and discuss answers. A thing to note with the sentence combining exercise is that it does provide information about geography, history, cultures and more so it's a great opportunity to take that knowledge and expand to make the curriculum go outside the grammar scope.

Here are some example pages from different days:

As the lessons proceed, they become a little harder and more intense but again, they do build on the previous lessons. Here is a look ahead at Day 155:

This is an example of the answers so the student can self-check or the lessons can be checked together:

The assessments are found in the Grade 9 Test book. The 18 assessments are given at practical intervals ensuring the student has retained and understood what they were taught. After Day 40, she had her 4th assessment:

Overall, I like the concept of a teaching textbook and the short concise lessons each day. It provides just enough to teach the concepts and to provide practice over the next lessons. I think my student would have benefited from the earlier grade levels and built up to this one as she might be a little behind due to her listening and learning disabilities from having epilepsy. I plan to utilize the grammar curriculum with my 12 year old as she's advanced enough to be able to grasp the learning material while breezing through the daily lessons. This is a gem for the child who prefers short and concise lessons. It provides the knowledge needed for test taking skills and the ability to speak and write properly.

More About Easy Grammar Systems

  • They have received the Parent and Teacher Choice Award from HowToLearn.
  • There are placement tests available at their website.
  • Videos are also available to learn more about Easy Grammar and the author, Dr. Wanda Phillips.

Social Media

Check out Easy Grammar Systems on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

More Reviews

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew, a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}

Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum: US History Review

I'm a huge history fan which has influenced my children to want to learn more about history and the United States. When presented with the opportunity to review the Pathway to Liberty's US History Year 3/Level 3 by Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum, I was very interested. 

Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum provides history from a Biblical worldview which I like. Our country was founded on the principles of Christianity and with teaching history, I feel it's an absolute that they go hand-in-hand when taught. Level 3 is designated for grades 7th through 9th as it requires logic, reasoning and application of principles. Pathway to Liberty's suggestion to utilize the curriculum four days a week allowed us to complete four weeks for this review. I liked that there is flexibility in the curriculum. For instance, one can start at the beginning or somewhere else within the book. The curriculum is also designed for one student or more and the material will cover 26 weeks of study beginning with Creation through Ancient Greece for grades k-12. The entire set I'm reviewing is:

  • US History Year 3 Level 3 Teacher's Guide;
  • US History Year 3 Level 3 Student Guide;
  • Chain of Liberty; and 
  • Chain of Liberty Studyguide.

US History Year 3 Level 3 Teacher's Guide

The Teacher's Guide is very comprehensive and when starting out, is broken into key sections on how to use the curriculum along with on-line resources. There is also teacher support available by way of question and answer sessions available by weekly appointments and via e-mail. Additional resources can be found online and lessons utilize YouTube videos to enhance the learning experience. For our level, the core recommended book is The Chain of Liberty and The Chain of Liberty Studyguide by Jayme MacCullough along with some others but I noted those two books since we are reviewing them. 

There is a Table of Contents broken down by the 26 weeks along with a Course Outline that corresponds with each week.

Each week starts out with a Weekly Overview discussing first what the content's theme of the week is along with instructions on how to use the week's lesson. The lessons are organized to be flexible and to fit the lesson plans according to your child's needs. Pathway to Liberty stresses that 'you have the liberty to adjust as you see necessary.'

Each section has the answers to the Student's Guide questions.

US History Year 3 Level 3 Student's Guide

The Student's Guide is set up similar to the Teacher's Guide with Table of Contents, Course Outline and Weekly Overview. As Pathway to Liberty suggests one has the option to do, we jumped to Lesson 21 The Civil War: The Cause. We followed the Weekly Overview provided which resulted in our four weeks of work in the suggested time period.

Since we started with Level 3, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the different levels and how it works within a lesson:

  • Level 1 students will study through literature by reading a biography and identifying literary terms such as character, setting and plot.
  • Level 2-4 students will watch segments of a documentary on The Civil War by Ken Burns and the study guides help to retain key elements. They will also author a research report throughout the four weeks by selecting a key person. This is now where the differences for these Levels come about. Level 2 students will write a 5-7 paragraph paper using 1-2 sources. Level 3 will write a 7-10 paragraph paper using 2-3 sources and Level 4 students will write a 10-12 paragraph paper using 4-5 sources. Anyone who has taken standardized tests knows how important it is to write essays so learning how to source and write good sound introductions and conclusions is critical.

The lesson starts out with providing a brief summary of the key players within the War as well as highlights from diaries and letters from two soldiers from the North and South and an introduction to Frederick Douglas and his importance through the War. The Teaching Objectives are short and concise.

What I also like about each Lesson, is it starts out with a Scripture, a Principle and a Leading Idea as noted below.

Every lesson for each week has repeating tasks such as the week's Scripture, Principle and Leading Idea in the Student's Guide. Other tasks vary such as for Lesson 21, Level 3, students are instructed to read from The Chain of Liberty, complete the corresponding The Chain of Liberty Studyguide, watch a YouTube video on the Civil War, return to The Chain of Liberty Studyguide and choose a topic to research with guide.

Our first week looked like this:

  • Scripture, Principle and Leading Idea rewrite.
  • Read chapter 12 from The Chain of Liberty.
  • Completing The Chain of Liberty Studyguide questions.
  • Watch Ken Burns' The Civil War Part 1 - The Cause.
  • Complete Student Guide's questions.
  • Chose a topic for the research component.

That was a lot to accomplish and cannot be done in one day so we spread it out over the four days as recommended.  I first made sure I acclimated myself with the week's assignment because the material is across many sources. Once I understood where to locate everything for each task, I felt more confident in teaching the week's assignment. An older student, or one that is more independent, could navigate on their own or with little supervision. For me, I enjoy this topic so I wanted to be an integral part of the learning process.

Subsequent week's assignments looked similar to our first week which made it easier to progress forward with less preparation required. 

Our fourth week concluded wrapping up the studies for this topic. We watched Part 5 of Ken Burns' Civil War but ended up switching over to my paid online video account (external to Pathway to Liberty) to watch it on the TV. My student then proceeded to complete the Student's Guide assignments as well as The Chain of Liberty Studyguide assignments as shown below.

The Chain of Liberty and The Chain of Liberty Studyguide

This was fun to read with my student as I was able to ask questions and answer questions. This time, I read the assignment pages to her because I wanted her to really focus on what I was reading. She asked me what did it all mean and I was able to explain to her that our Christian forefathers created the Constitution as such to avoid an over-archiving federal government and how it's being misused today. After I read it, I had her read it again on her own to ensure she truly absorbed all that she read. The assignments in The Chain of Liberty Studyguide also reinforced what she learned as well as provided an opportunity to apply critical thinking and write answers in her own words.

The Chain of Liberty provided reasons why America is in trouble and I completely agree with the author of the book. It is presented in a way that really details how our founding fathers wrote the Constitution and how the interpretation is being eroded by Executive Orders and judicial decisions. It's a great way to introduce children to civics relative to why they need to be the change. My daughter asked me how can she possibly be the change and I told her to learn and educate others. Become a journalist, a politician or a judge. She said she will write a book! These type of courses are fundamental for our children to be educated on so we have hope in returning to the country our Christian Forefathers had planned.

Here is another example with The Chain of Liberty and The Chain of Liberty Studyguide side by side:

A final aspect that I liked about Pathway to Liberty's US History Level 3 was the emphasis on research and writing. The beginning lessons contain instructions and guidance on researching and writing which is what I utilized to help my student complete her writing assignment on a person from the Civil War. The following is Research Model-the 4 R's which helped her to start her weekly assignments on writing her paper. The two other photos are her beginning her paper as well as the rough draft.

Final Thoughts

Overall, my student was challenged with the Pathway to Liberty's US History Level 3 by Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum work. Once I was able to get the hang of the curriculum, as with most, it was easier to teach. She also found that it once she got used to it, she did enjoy what she was learning. She's big into the Bible and enjoyed learning more about different aspects of our Founding Fathers, subsequent US history and how it all relates to the now. She's eager to start our next lesson. I would recommend the Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum

Social Media

Follow Pathway to Liberty on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.

More Reviews

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}

Connecting Family History with Homeschooling

I've been interested in my family's history for as long as I can remember and I attribute that to my father. His father and other members of the family traced the genealogy of our family back when it was a bit harder than today. They actually had to travel and visit libraries, churches and governmental facilities and graveyards to garner some additional knowledge. The old fashioned pen and paper was instrumental in reaching out to others around the world in hopes of finding someone with a mutual interest and information that would unlock some doors. I still have a couple of the letters that my paternal grandfather sent seeking out members of my family and I have numerous photographs and handwritten documentation outlining the family tree. 

Thanks to technology, it's so much easier with online databases and sites such as Ancestry.com. I started out making my tree as a GED file and then gravitated towards Ancestry due to the flexibility of finding others. I not only stopped at ordering the service for my DNA but I added one for my mom. I find it all so fascinating. The two biggest issues I have with Ancestry is the cost and if you don't maintain a subscription, you lose the access to key documents you previously saved unless you saved them on your hard drive. Ultimately, I love using it and I have expanded to using many others mostly due to the DNA factor and trying to find other family members. My mom was an only child and after she left England for America, she lost contact with her cousins and grandparents. I have tried to find them with no luck. However, I have found so many interesting facts that I have been able to utilize many components with my children in the name of learning.

As most families, we have so many different lines that it's hard to keep track of who came from where. I have focused some of my research at times to utilize them as learning points. For instance, my mother's grandfather served in World War 1 for England. I was able to use resources such as maps of England and the various locations he served in the war. I was able to utilize history to further their knowledge about WW1. I was able to find out he was injured not once or twice but three times by gun fire. If that wasn't enough, he lost a 12 year old child while convalescing. These events help to provide a captivating edge to learning while personalizing them and providing a desire to learn more for them. By showing them the family line, they became interested in genealogy and wanted to learn more. 

On my father's side, we have a small tree that comes from France and one member of that family (a distant cousin) ended up becoming a prominent member of history in North America. Again, I was able to utilize history and geography to add a bit of excitement to what could have been boring subjects. I think my next project will be to create some worksheets to further enhance their knowledge of the family, the countries, the events and the time periods.

Have you ever incorporated your family history into a homeschool lesson?

SGT. Stubby: An American Hero New Movie and SGT. Stubby Fun Giveaway $50 Value

History is vital to teaching our children not only for the importance of learning about significant events but to ensure we don't repeat mistakes in the future. I'm a big war history fan and due to that, my children have a really good foundation about the Civil War, World War I and World War II. I loved the idea behind turning the real story about a faithful dog named Stubby into an animated movie and book for children called Stubby the Movie. Animals have been a part of many of the wars in the past and still today are utilized to help sniff out bombs and more.  Stubby found his way to fame on the drilling grounds of Yale University when Private First Class Robert Conroy noticed the small brindle mutt wandering around the field. The soldiers decided to name him Stubby after his tail and as they found themselves on their way to France, Stubby managed to join them.

The story doesn't end there as he continued to join in the action of 17 different battles and even received critical wounds during a chemical attack. Stubby was an amazing dog and after that critical event, his ability to detect incoming attacks heightened to where he was able to alert the soldiers. He even could understand English and German dialogue. He led medics to wounded Americans on the field and he even caught a German spy. At that point, he was promoted to SGT. Stubby. He survived the war and returned with Conroy to participate at rallys, parades and joined Conroy while he attended law school.

In 1926, SGT. Stubby died and his remains were donated to the Smithsonian where he is currently being featured as part of the "Price of Freedom" exhibit in the National Museum of American History. 

The new movie, SGT. Stubby: An American Hero is a computer animated film that will be in approximately 3,000 theaters across the US and Canada on April 13, 2018. Coinciding with the year-long 100th commemoration of the United States' role in the War to End all Wars or as others refer to it as the Great War or WWI, it stars Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu with original score by Patrick Doyle (Brave, Thor, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

Here is the official trailer:

SGT. Stubby: An All American Hero movie is great for children to learn more about the war and don’t forget to check out the book Stubby the Dog Soldier: World War I Hero from Capstone. Recommended for readers ages 5-7, it is written by Blake Hoena and Illustrated by Oliver Hurst. It was also listed as a 2015 Notable Social Studies Trades Book for Young People selection from the National Council for the Social Studies & the Children’s Book Council. Below is my youngest reading to my grandson and they both enjoyed the book and the gift pack we received for posting this.  It's also a great homeschooling resource.

As another bonus, check out the fun FREE ACTIVITY PACK at www.StubbyMovie.com for more fun facts about Stubby plus some exciting activities!  Your child can even make their very own origami Stubby, complete a maze, color some sheets and more!

To learn more, visit SGT. Stubby: An American Hero online

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The Giveaway:
  • An Adorable free Stubby plush (value $20); 
  • a Stubby Kuzi (value $5); 
  • A Stubby drawstring bag (value $12); and 
  • A copy of the hardcover book Stubby the Dog Soldier: World War I Herofrom Capstone for ages 5-7 (value $14.95). 

A value of over $50!

To Enter:  

Complete the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway ends 3/31/2018 - US Only Please

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Starfall Education Foundation's The Starfall Home Membership Review



I'm always looking for fun and educational learning  games for both my younger child and my grandchildren so I was very happy to have an opportunity to review The Starfall Home Membership from Starfall Education Foundation. It is a flexible online program that offers free and fee-based curriculum either on a desktop or mobile via Apple, Google Play or Amazon Apps. There is also a store to purchase various products such as children's books, instructional cards and more. For some parents and educators, it's important to stay linked up with the States Standards Initiative and align with Common Core which Starfall does. It's a comprehensive program for the experienced home educator, teacher or the parent who wishes to provide their young one with further educational opportunities. 

In the Complete Guide to Using Starfall, you will have everything you need in one place to understand how to move forward with your child(ren). What I liked first upon setting up my child and grandchildren to begin the program was the Guide.  It provides key skills appropriate for each grade level and how the skills align along with mobile app activities.  There are supplemental products as well as parent and teacher resources. I suggest the first step in starting to begin your plan for teaching is to review the many guides that pertain to your needs:

  • Guide to Pre-K
  • Guide to Kindergarten ELA
  • Guide to Kindergarten Math
  • Guide to First Grade Reading
  • Guide to First Grade Math
  • Guide to Second Grade Reading
  • Guide to Second Grade Math
  • Guide to Starfall Book Levels

Membership Perks Only $35 Annually

There are many free activities but once you purchase the $35 yearly membership, you will have complete access to all the activities, expanded math and reading content covering grades Kindergarten through second grade and additional songs and rhymes.

Review of Guide and Second Grade Math:

Each PDF downloadable is full of information to kick start your child's education in that subject matter. For this part of the review, I'm going to cover Second Grade Math which I'm using as a refresher for my youngest child.  The Guides are short and concise and outlines major areas and for Second Grade Math, it covers:  

  1. Understanding place values
  2. Using place values to add and subtract
  3. Adding and subtracting within 20
  4. Foundations for multiplication
  5. Beginning Multiplication

The actual program is very easy for younger children to use with click and drag features, colorful animations and pictures, playful music and clear audio to easily understand.  There is repetition in the activities to ensure a student is understanding and remembering the task. It was a good refresher for her.

Review of Guide and First Grade:

My granddaughter has been utilizing the online activities and the printables for Kindergarten. To date, I have not ordered any of the resources available on the online store so I cannot comment on the quality of those but knowing there are more resources available is good. Both her and her three year old brother take turns playing with the games and the various activities provided. She has utilized the online games, activities and the worksheets.

She really enjoys the worksheets and has already learned a lot from our time using The Starfall Home Membership. Backpack Bear's Books was also a wonderful activity as the words are spoken in a slow enough manner for children to understand and with easy click and drag features, it's a great way to teach words.

Of course everything that big sister does, little brother has to try too! They had a lot of fun playing the games and even though he didn't understand the activities clearly, I truly felt he benefited from it. We worked on this into the night so when I told them it was time to stop, they were disappointed. This is something you want to hear when you are trying to teach your children!

For the math, we started with Beginning Multiplication and moved into Understand Place Value and she really liked it! I heard her say it was fun and she smiled and was very happy that she was doing so well with using the program. She had been using the free resources for a couple of months prior to this review so she was already familiar with how to maneuver and get around each screen.  She often played it on her own via her tablet. It's very user friend and intuitive.

Talking Library Review:

I am a huge fan of libraries and being that we reside in an area where winter is very cold, the library isn't always feasible. The Starfall Talking Library is one of the best features I liked about The Starfall Home Membership and here is why:

  • Contains a wide selection of both non-fiction and fiction with poetry.
  • The opening page is easy to maneuver even for small children and has a selection of favorite books by other members.
  • The children can adjust the sound volume on the screen and can choose to pause the audible. An easy to see finger prompt shows the children to press the button to go to the next page.
  • Words are highlighted as the reader continues with each sentence for easy to follow along.
  • Sound effects provide a great way to capture the children's attention as the book comes to life.

Other Activities/Levels of Starfall 

We focused on Second Grade Math and Kindergarten for this part of the review.  It's great to know that my granddaughter will have the resources available for First Grade next year. As with the Kindergarten curriculum, there are many areas of concentration to include:

  • First Grade Math
    • Operations & Algebraic Thinking
    • Base Ten Number & Operations
    • Measurement & Geometry
  • First Grade English
    • Literature & Informational Text
    • Phonics

All of the different activities are engaging and fun for little minds. They are intuitive and makes learning fun versus boring and redundant.

Other Benefits of Starfall 

  • Starfall also has free and low-cost mobile apps via Apple iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Apps.
  • Products such as children's books, instructional cards and more are available for purchase at the Starfall Store.
  • Supplemental Parent and Teacher Resources in the Parent-Teacher Center.

To stay up to date and find out the latest, stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Overall, my family really liked The Starfall Home Membership from Starfall Education Foundation. It's a flexible program to be used on a desktop or on a device. It's fun, eye catching and full of many activities that will not only educate but provide hours and hours of fun. It's well worth the subscription cost to have a comprehensive math and English program, and for those that want a common core aligned program, it has all that you would want.

The Starfall Home Membership {Starfall Education Foundation Reviews}
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