Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pictures ARE Worth A Thousand Words (Or At Least 210 Words!)

I seriously wish I had had Vocabulary Cartoons as a kid. I am such a visual person that mnemonics have always been something I relied on to help me through daily life. I learned early that by making up a silly rhyme or using one already thought up would help me remember something for a test. 

Or someone's name. 

Or how to make my kids' favorite breakfast. 

Oh yes, now the truth comes out about the way I memorize recipes. Well, anyway. That's another post.

The tag line, "Kids Learn a Word a Minute and Never Forget It" is true in our house. Designed for elementary aged kids, my second-ish graders loved the book! There are 210 cute cartoons that create a visual, giving the student an edge in remembering what the word means. Definitions and pronunciation guides are also listed with a separate page dedicated to each single word.


I am a big fan of online samples. Many a time, samples are the deal maker for me purchasing a curriculum helper for our homeschool since it gives me a chance to see if something is really a good fit for us. Vocabulary Cartoon's fourteen (!!) pages of samples are straight from the book! One of my favorites is actually the first one in the book and the first one we learned. 

Farm Boy, my youngest, loved Vocabulary Cartoons so much and will still laugh about "abducting a duck!"

This book is great for independent learners who need some extra work to do or for students who struggle in vocabulary. And for public schoolteachers, there are blackline masters, PDF formatted discs, and overhead transparencies, in addition to the books. 

Still not convinced? Here is a word list in its entirety!

In short, we loved this book and cannot wait until we are ready for the SAT Prep volumes!  

The Details

Vocabulary Cartoons from New Monic Books (Love it - even the company name is a play on words!) 
$12.95 each
Age: 3rd-6th grade

I received Vocabulary Cartoons from New Monic Books for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received and these opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New-To-Me Living Room and Color Palette Help Needed

So you may remember a month ago when I posted my couch for sale. I bought it after we moved to GA since my beloved crushed green velvet suffered an untimely death to a cat over Christmas break before we moved. I begged hubby to let me keep the couch and recover it. I LOVED that couch. But that is another post. *sigh*

My other couch did get sold, but not before the one I wanted was also sold out from under me. Dang those Craigslist sellers! Anyway, I held out and waited. And waited. And waited. And then ....

I bought the loveseat for the same price I sold my couch for! The couch was a bonus FREE!! (It needs a little work and has a rip in the middle back cushion close to the seam which is now hidden by that pillow. But it is from Ashley Furniture and is oh so comfy!!

Please excuse those awful wrinkles. They are only stuck up over the rod and are being held in place with a safety pin or two for this pic. The curtains divide the family room from my office which is now on the other side. I will be getting some some clips to hang the drop cloths properly so have a while "wall" there where entertaining or push them back when we need circulation into my office room (where we watch Hulu!)

I had in mind to make slipcovers for them using Lazy's Girl's Guide to Slipcovers. I'm thinking of using the drop cloths like what are on my windows. My issue is this: it is going to be a good while before I have the time and energy to make the slipcovers. What should I do in the meantime? I would really like to bring lighter colors in to the living room since the paneling is so dark. I would love to find a beautiful fabric to recover the pillows and add some *umph* to the drop-cloth curtains on the other side of the room.

I have my curtains from my old house up right now just trying to decide if I want to use them. They would have to be altered the at both the top and the bottom if I used them. The have tab tops which look weird with the drop cloth tops and well, capris are not a good look for curtains! I think I have decided I don' t love them in this house since they just blend into the wall and certainly don't help with lightening it up in there.

The curio cabinet will be finding a new home (at an aunt's house.) The side table is not quite right either - would love to paint it, but we will see. The lamp is not even plugged in - shopped the house for it! It has never been used. Bought it for $5 last summer at Wally World. Love it, but it has been shadeless until now and I'm thinking it needs a bigger/longer one anyway. And I think it longs for a coat of paint! But what color? The paneling is very dark but will not be painted as this is my husband's grandparent's house - the old homestead. Since we are temporary residents I will not even ask to paint.

I have a large mirror for the spot over the loveseat and some other decorating things planned, but it is hard to get into it not having a color scheme decided on. 

On one hand I am thinking add a cooler color to help offset the overpowering warm tones in there. I want white, camel/khaki and a shade of light blue eventually. But right now I am thinking khaki with persimmon.....not sure the blue would work with the olive? The piping on the couch and loveseat is khaki so that would work nicely.

So what would you do with this room?What colors would you use?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm in Checkmate!

photo by e.phelps
Farm Boy has taking a real liking to chess. He asked his daddy to teach him since he inquired about the checkerboard table after we moved in to our current house. (In our last house, it was covered with a cloth and he didn't notice it as much.) After several inquiries, Farm Boy was able to convince his daddy to teach him. They have playing about two months now and Farm Boy is getting really good at it. He even loves to play on the computer!

Well, a few nights ago as he was getting ready for bed, Farm Boy was told to make his way to the back and brush his teeth. He, at a mere six years old, still gets uneasy in the dark and did not want to go into the back part of the house to his room.He complained a bit about the dark and I told him to go the other way (through our bedroom.) He opened the door and lamented about the dark in there as well.

"I can't go that way," he said, pointing at the dining room. "And I can't go that way, " pointing at my room. "I'm in checkmate!"

Well, that was it. Hubby and I both lost it. We consented and got up to turn a light on for him. After we composed ourselves.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Service Scheduled

photo by natalicek

Please join us for a candlelight service remembering those babies who never had a chance to live ....

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day
Friday, October 15, 2010
Historic Courthouse
Monroe, GA


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TOS Review: I See Cards - Pyramath

I did not need another game to get addicted to. Really, I didn't.

I See Card's Pyramath is a solitaire with learning power. But it isn't just for learning. It is great for staying fresh in your math facts and for building speed. The idea is simple allowing anyone with knowledge of basic math facts to play. Pyramath can be played alone or against another player. And for $6.95, they are a great addition to our Fun Fridays or even Family Game Night!

from the instructions:
Fundamentals of the Game
The basic concept of any Pyramath game is that a single card is played on 2 side-by-side cards using math operations. For example if a 4 and 7 are side-by-side, the legal plays are 3 (7-4=3), 1 (7+4=11), and 8 (7x4=28)

There is even a Pyramath Wiki to learn how to use Pyramath in the classroom (and I am all about Wikis!!) 
The main challenge using Pyramath in our homeschool since we have just begun working on our addition facts. Farm Boy was super interested in it and cannot wait to try it! He is looking forward to challenging me very soon! (Mom had lots of fun playing the game though!) 

Ready to try it for yourself? You can try it online playing the  5 Card Version or the 7 Card Version! But don't say I didn't warn you. Make sure you let the kids play once in a while! 

I received Pyramath free of charge from I See Cards for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TOS Review: Math Essentials

I hated math growing up.  HATED IT. 

My mom was an English teacher, and though there was a time I could barely speak a sentence without being corrected for my grammar, I loved English, reading and everything related to it. Math ... well ... not so much. That continued throughout my life and I struggled with my college courses in Math. I would get through it eventually (albeit sometimes taking a class more than once!) but it was like part of my brain never computed it. (Sorry, I just couldn't help it!) 
Had there been something like America's Math Teacher when I was growing up, I think I would have "gotten" math. America's Math Teacher is an online tutor, a complete curriculum or math teacher- whatever you need. It is video-based instruction complete with white board demonstrations. Beginning with basic math on the 4th or 5th grade level and working all the way through pre-algebra, students learn at their pace, repeating lessons (via video instruction) as often as necessary. Students are encouraged to copy the problems into a notebook and "work along side" the teacher so that they actually have the examples in front of them when they go back to look at the notes again. I really like that multiple colors are used when demonstrating something like regrouping in subtraction. It helps to really see what you are doing and for me and my audio-visual learning crew, it was easy to understand the lesson.

Rick Fisher, the creator of America's Math Teacher, is a seasoned math instructor from California. The success of his program shows "each year approximately one-half of his students bypass the seventh grade math program and move directly to a high-powered eighth grade algebra program."

A one-year subscription to America's Math Teacher is $195 per family. It covers all the lessons in the program and can be used for any student from 4th/5th grade to algebra. There are actually four courses: Basic Math,  Advanced Math, Pre-Algebra and Algebra. I feel it is quite a bargain for those families whose parent-teacher may not have the strongest math background (like, say, moi.) Since you have access to all levels of instruction on the website, it is great for large families who are studying at different math levels!

One thing we personally enjoyed most was the Speed Drills. America's Math Teacher has a very unique way to practice math facts that was a lot of fun too! As an adult it is easy to forget how stressful it is to be timed on math facts, but the Speed Drills lightened the stress a bit. Set up with the feel of a game, the kids had to quickly process the fact in their head, press the correct number on the key pad and press enter. I think it is great for practicing their use of the 9-digit keypad as well. You could not move on to the next problem until you correctly answered the one in front of you.

Printed materials in PDF format are also available to reinforce and review what was learned in the videos. If you would like to see the program in action, there are resources available in the free section of the website. You may take a look at a nice overview of the program including some videos and review sheets. With a subscription, many more review sheets per section are available.

I received a two-month subscription to free of charge from Math Essentials for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Friday, September 3, 2010

TOS Review: Time 4 Learning

I first heard about Time4Learning when I met a group of moms who were forming a group for homeschoolers with special needs. Several of the families in the group were using Time4Learning as their sole curriculum and I was curious about it. Upon investigation of it, I was very interested in the program and liked the features but decided that we needed to focus on the basics last year. I wanted the experience of hands-on schooling rather than my child working at a computer for his lessons. Now that I have reviewed it as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I can see the benefits of using it along side of our regular curriculum.

Since before they could manipulate a mouse, my boys have gravitated to the computer. They love to watch me while I work on the computer, viewing pictures and videos or even checking the weather. As they have gotten older and begun to understand how to do things on their own, I would allow them to play (educational) games, view science videos for school and work on language arts skills on various sites online.

From the website:  
"Time4Learning is a student-paced online educational system covering preschool through middle school. It is popular as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment, for remediation, and for summer study."
One of the features in Time4Learning that I noticed (and loved) immediately was the timer function. Parents decide how much work (or Lesson Time) must be done before their kids enjoy a visit to the Playground. The Playground is what my kids looked forward to the most because as it implies - it is playtime!! The Playground is an area of the program where kids can click carefully chosen links to places on the web. There are educational sites and totally fun sites listed in the Playgrounds and kids can chose what they want to do in their Playground time. Parents set the timer for the Playground as well. We usually did 30 minutes of lessons and then 20-30 minutes of Playground time. Once the Playground time was up, they could either quit the program or go back to Lesson Time and complete the time requirement again in order to gain access to the Playground again. This was great for going to grandma's during the week and me having peace of mind about what they were doing on the computer.

The graphics are entertaining and very appropriate for elementary kids. There is a lot of music incorporated into the program for is great for Music Man.There were several modules they they wanted to watch over and over such as the science unit on thunderstorms.

This program can be used as a stand-alone curriculum for homeschooling and even provides free lesson plans! I love that my students can work at their own pace, going back to master a concept if they need more practice in an area. Time4Learning is very affordable, too, at $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child. In the parent area, you can track what lessons your child is doing and what still needs to be completed.

Still not sure? Check out the screenshots! Then slip over to the free demo area.You may learn a thing or two yourself! I did!

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge  for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

2010-2011 Curriculum

Here is our curriculum plan for this school year. It is always subject to additions and subtractions. :) 

Since I am on the TOS Homeschool Crew we also get a variety of things to "play" with throughout the year! 

Farm Boy  

Handwriting copywork
Language Arts 
First Language Lessons
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading
Math Mammoth (Money,Addition and Subtraction B, Clock)
Math on the Level Math Adventures   

Music Man  
 Peterson Directed Handwriting
Language Arts 
First Language Lessons
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Reading
Explode the CodeOnline 
Math Mammoth
Math on the Level Math Adventures  

Social Studies
Story of the World Vol. 1 Ancient Times  

various unit studies

Extra Curricular
Hey, Andrew, Teach Us Some Greek
Homeschool PE through local recreation department and homeschool group

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