Vindication Season 2 #VindicationMIN

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through Momentum Influencers.

You might remember that a few weeks ago I did a review for the first season of Vindication, a crime drama series available to stream on Pure Flix. Find more info on the show as a whole in that review. Today, I want to talk specifically about episode 7, which hit the streaming service this past Wednesday. Make sure to read to the end of this post for a chance to win a 6-month subscription to Pure Flix so you can watch both seasons of Vindication as well as loads of other family-friendly and faith-based content!

In Vindication, much like most other dramas, there’s a bit of change from season 1 to season 2. For example, Detective Travis has gotten a promotion and is now the head of a smaller police department. His former deputy/intern, Kris, is still working at the old station, so we still get to keep up with those characters through her.

Episode 7: Be a Man

In this episode, Detective Travis is off on a hunting trip with a group of other men (and one daughter). Each team of 2 is given a specific area of land within one of the members’ property where they can hunt deer. As one might imagine, there’s lots of opportunity for bonding while we see the groups of hunters waiting for deer to pass by.

At the end of the day, the hunters gather together again for a meal of fire roasted venison and the entire group has some deep conversations. One of the men (the man whose land they’re hunting on) reveals that his son “no longer likes girls,” and he as a father is struggling with that. A younger man tells him that he should just tell his son that he loves him. This younger man grew up in a family where he was never told that by any men of consequence in his life, and is “recovering” from a life of crime because of it.

The episode also spends a bit of time with Kris and her brother, Shane (a vet suffering from PTSD who lives with her). There’s a bit of tension between the siblings, but they push through it. Kris is also approached by the upcoming police chief in her precinct, who hints at the fact that he wants her to become his sergeant when he lands the promotion.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode (as I have the rest of the Vindication series to date). I struggled a little bit with the gay son story line, especially in a faith based show, but it was easy to move past. I’m looking forward to seeing the final episodes of the season as we finish out the month of October.

If you’re interested in winning your own 6-month subscription to Pure Flix, just leave me a comment on this blog post, telling me what show or movie you’d want to watch on Pure Flix. I’ll pick a winner at random on Wednesday, October 20th.

Blessings,

Fall Welcome Sign

I hadn’t made a fresh welcome sign for our door in a few months, and it was well past time. I took down the spring one a few weeks ago, and we went without one for a while. But it was summertime, and I wanted to look toward fall instead, so I waited. But by the end of August, I couldn’t really handle it anymore and I got something up there, just in time for Bumblebee’s birthday party. Here’s what I did and how I made it (using all Dollar Tree items except for the paint).

First I found this “Gather Together” wood cutout. Dollar Tree does a really nice job with their wood laser cuts – they’re quite detailed and really high quality considering the price tag. I wanted to put it on a “fall” feeling background to make it more substantial feeling. I had a felt pumpkin in my hands, and I rather liked it, but then I found this pumpkin that’s made of planks. I liked that a whole lot better, so I bought it instead. I also picked up a door hanger that consisted of a ring covered in rope, a fall ribbon, and some jingle bells hanging from a sheer brown ribbon. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would incorporate that but I really liked it so I grabbed it anyway.

I started by removing the metal “Warm Hearts” bit from one of the pumpkin planks. If there’s one thing Dollar Tree loves, it’s adding metal and glitter to their wood signs! I wanted something a bit calmer though, so I took that off. Then I painted the top two planks with orange paint. I really liked the watercolor pumpkins at the bottom, so I left those unpainted.

Next I took my wood cutout and painted it. I chose red and brown to really emphasize the fall season. My red was a bit brighter than I wanted, so I took a tip from Kelly Barlow Creations and dulled it with brown. I really like how it turned out. The cornucopia is the weakest part of my painting, but it’s alright. When the paint on both pieces was dry, I hot glued the “Gather Together” to the top portion of my pumpkin planks.

Now I was left with my door hanger. I took all the pieces apart and laid out where I thought each piece would go best. The hanging portion, obviously, was ideal for the top, so I used hot glue to attach it there. I really liked the fall-themed ribbon and even though it would have been really easy to eliminate it and use it somewhere else in another project. I don’t do enough of these Dollar Tree projects to justify trying to save it, though, so instead I attached it to the top of the sign. Then I had the jingle bell ribbons. I really liked those, too, and I think they would really add to any project. For this one, I hot glued the ribbons right to the back of the bottom plank. I liked that the ribbons were each a different length, so they fall at varying points below the pumpkin.

I am really happy with the way this sign turned out. I like it quite a bit better than the spring one I made earlier this year, and I enjoy seeing it each time I approach my home.

Blessings,

Spelling Ninja (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Spelling is a subject that is fairly important, but can be tricky to teach. I’ve struggled to teach it in the past because I’m a naturally good speller. I don’t understand having to “learn” to spell; I’ve always just been able to do it well. I had to deal with this a few years ago with Ballet Boy (he’s still not the best, but his writing is at least decipherable now – once you get past his handwriting!). Now that Grasshopper is the age to start dealing with spelling, I wanted to try to nip any potential problems in the bud, so we signed up to review Spelling Ninja from Reading Kingdom.

Spelling Ninja is an online program run through the website (not an app). Once you sign in and choose your student’s name from the list, you’re taken to that student’s home page, from which you can launch the program. It’s recommended that your student plays Spelling Ninja 4 days a week for optimal results.

The “game” itself is easy enough to understand. There is a picture at the top of the screen and a sentence below it. The student studies the sentence and then clicks the little star box when they feel ready. If they take a long time to study, the question eventually starts on its own. To pass each question, they simply have to type the words (spelled correctly, of course) into the boxes. Correct capitalization and punctuation is a must. The picture stays in place throughout the studying and typing process, but the sentence disappears a few words at a time. This means that in addition to spelling everything correctly, you must remember the words (which wasn’t usually too hard, but we did sometimes struggle with the specifics when a certain blank could have two words that both made sense in the sentence). The words in the sentences build on each other, meaning that you’ll see very similar sentences at the beginning (Can these kids read? and These kids can read.), but new words are introduced over time. Then those new words are shown over and over in a variety of different sentences. The sentences get longer and longer as you go because there are more words to choose from. There are 10 sentences per lesson.

When we first started, I had Grasshopper work on this on his own, with me watching to make sure he understood what he was doing. It quickly became apparent that that was not going to work long term. Grasshopper has a working knowledge of the keyboard, but he’s not a typist by any stretch of the imagination. He was having to type every single word many times, even when he got the correct spelling because he couldn’t get it typed in fast enough. So the next day, we switched it up and I did the typing while he dictated the letters to me to spell each word.

We worked 3-4 days a week this way (me typing, him dictating), and we had reasonable success. Grasshopper was able to get most of the words quicker, and there were just a few words that he needed to “study” with each new sentence. I really liked that he was able to get the spellings correct so much quicker over such a short period of time (I saw improvement after just 2 or 3 lessons). However, the time limit of the program was really frustrating for us. Even when I went in and adjusted the amount of time allowed before getting marked “wrong,” we still sometimes struggled. For example, in a sentence that’s 12 words long, you can be working along just fine, get the first 8 words spelled correctly and in the time limit but miss the 9th one. When that happens, you have to retype the entire sentence from the beginning, not just the word you missed. It got to be really demoralizing for Grasshopper and frustrating for me.

If your student knows the keyboard well and can type quickly, then Spelling Ninja would likely be a great fit for you. It wasn’t our favorite program ever, but I can definitely see the benefits to it and am pleased with the successes we had.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew have been trying out three programs from Reading Kingdom; make sure to click over to the main website to read reviews on Counting Kingdom and Story Smarts as well as Spelling Ninja.

Blessings,

What We’re Reading: October 2021

It’s October already! I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited about that. I adore October and November; they’re my favorite months all year long. And I think there are going to be big changes for our family this month. But for now, my fingers are tied on that front.

Instead, let’s talk about what books we’re reading this month!

Read Aloud

We’re still working through our shelf of beautifully illustrated novels. This month we’re going to spend wrapping up both Pinocchio and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. (We didn’t do as much reading of those as we should have last month.) We’re also reading A Cricket in Times Square, and we will have a review on the Progeny Press study guide for that book later in the month!

Scorpion (9th)

As I briefly mentioned last week, Scorpion is reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. He will have a hefty portion of guest posting on that Progeny Press review when it comes up in a few weeks. Scorpion has always loved classic novels. From the time he was very young (like 6), he’s been reading them. Of course, back then he read children’s versions. Now that he’s older, I’m glad that he’ll get the opportunity to read some of them in their entirety rather than as a “Great Illustrated Classic.”

Grasshopper (4th)

We’re making great progress with Wayside School, and when he finishes it we’ll dive into a book I read a few years ago (it’s a kids’ book, but I saw it in the store and was intrigued by the plot so I bought it and read it anyway): Circus Mirandus. This is the story of a magical circus that only those who already believe in it can find. The main character must make himself believe so he can find the circus and get in touch with the one person who can help him save his ailing grandfather.

Me

I recently finished reading a book that had been on my to-read list for months, Sooley by John Grisham. It’s a stray from his normal legal thriller and explores the world of high-end college basketball through the eyes of a South Sudanese young man in America on a series of emergency visas. I love basketball, so I was pretty sure I’d like this book. It was not entirely what I expected, though, and Amazon reviews on the book are mixed. (I would give it 5 stars.) But that’s all I’m going to say for now, because more of my thoughts will be outlined when I feature it in this month’s book club post. For my new book, I’m sticking with my Grisham streak and reading an older novel called The Racketeer.

What are you reading this month?

Blessings,

Science for Little Kids (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ is a favorite in our homeschool. We’ve used many of their books over the years, and always had great success with them. All three of my older children (Ballet Boy, 17; Scorpion, 15; and Grasshopper, 9) have used one of their math books over the years. When they were offered up for review this year, many of the choices were for the Preschool crowd, so I chose Science Mind Benders®: Animals to work on with Dragonfly (5). He’s very interested in learning, and animals are always a popular choice for little kids so I thought it would be a good introduction to science for him.

Science Mind Benders®: Animals is an 86-page, softcover workbook printed in full color. The pages are a bit glossy, so it feels almost like a picture book inside. There are 7 lessons, and each lesson has 7 activities. This gives your child enough time to take the book slowly and reinforce the concepts being taught throughout, making sure they remember they remember what they learned over the long term. At the end of each group of 7 lessons, there is a page of “interesting animals in this lesson” and a review page, which you could use as a quiz if you wanted to.

Because this was Dragonfly’s very first introduction to any sort of formal science lesson, we just started at the beginning of the book and worked our way through. For an older child, you could use this book as a review for certain types of animals and jump around a bit more.

Let’s look at the first lesson – Vertebrates and Invertebrates – fairly in-depth to give you an idea of how you could use this book in your homeschool.

My favorite type of homeschool curriculum is “open and go,” which means that there’s minimal prep work involved. This not only makes it easier to keep your homeschool day moving, but it also limits the amount of loose papers and other things you have floating around your school area. This book is definitely an open and go science curriculum. Everything you need to teach your child is included all in the one workbook – a simple lesson teaching children what they will be learning about and the consumable workbook pages for them to do themselves.What this looks like in the Vertebrates and Invertebrates lesson is a page with a short paragraph at the top that you can read to your child or paraphrase to teach the concept, and then the other 4/5 of the page is a series of pictures showcasing the different types of creatures, all separated out so children can get a clear understanding.

Once they have the initial learning done, the next seven pages are activity pages. You could do one activity a day, or all at once, or anything in between. We did one lesson per day because I want my son to tuck away that knowledge and remember it long term, not to just breeze through only to forget what an invertebrate is in two weeks when he’s working on the Mammals and Reptiles lesson.

Examples of activity pages are “point to the pictures of animals that are vertebrates.” This page also comes with discussion questions. Instead of having Dragonfly simply point to the pictures, I had him draw circles around the animals the question asked about. When we got to the question that compared invertebrates with an exoskeleton vs those without, we drew circles and squares to differentiate them. There are some very basic logic puzzles for the children to work through, which is perfect for developing good critical thinking skills. Activity 3 in the lesson shows photos of 6 different animals and you’re given three clues. The child is to determine which clue goes with which animal. Lesson 4 is very much like lesson 3, except that after matching the clue with the animal, the child determines whether each animal is a vertebrate or an invertebrate. Lesson 5 is another logic puzzle. Lessons 6 and 7 mirror lessons 3 and 4. For the review of this lesson, there’s a flow chart. Groups of pictures are shown together and the child determines what word from the “choice box” best fits that particular group. There’s even a bonus question for further research.

Dragonfly and I have had so much fun learning about animals together! We’re not done with this book yet, but we will definitely be continuing to work our way through it. It’s the perfect introduction to both critical thinking and science for my Kindergartner.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew have been reviewing one of 6 different books from The Critical Thinking Co.™. Make sure to click through and find out more about those books, as well as an introductory article that talks more about the company itself than I got into here.

Blessings,

Book Club: The Guardians

For the second month in a row, I seem to have chosen a book club question with no discussion questions available online. This time, it’s The Guardians by John Grisham, and I’m quite surprised to be unable to find some questions considering the novel was a mainstream release by a popular author. But what are you going to do? So let me just ramble a bit about this novel for this month’s edition of Book Club.

Plot

The Guardians is the story of Cullen Post and his ragtag law firm (some of Grisham’s favorites), who spend their time taking on the unwinnable cases. The cases in question: men and women in prison for the crimes of other people – the innocents. Cullen (or as he’s more commonly called, Post) is the main lawyer in the firm, though his colleague actually founded it, is a former minister who regularly relies on those good graces in his cases. His firm, Guardian Ministries, has successfully exonerated 8 former inmates (one of whom now works for them). The novel focuses on their ninth and tenth cases.

Quincy Miller is a black man convicted of murdering a white lawyer in a small Florida town called Seabrook. His supposed crime and trial were committed nearly a quarter century before the events of the book. After spending 22 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, his case is picked up by Post and Guardians. The search for the lawyer’s real killer and proof of Quincy’s innocence takes Post on a wild chase all across the South and even as far away as Idaho and the Caribbean.

My Thoughts

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of John Grisham’s, but I’m going to be honest here… this wasn’t my favorite book. I didn’t hate it, and I liked it better than some of his non-legal-thrillers (I’m thinking specifically of A Painted House). But I found it a bit sloppy. Allow me to explain.

The novel is written in first person, that of Cullen Post – mostly. There are a few chapters where it was necessary for the story to deviate from Post’s POV, so the novel reverted to a third person narrative occasionally. I’ve written first person novels before, so I know from experience that it can be frustrating and problematic when you want to tell part of the story that isn’t directly related to your narrator. But you shouldn’t do that. A tighter story will find a way to get that expository into the book through the “proper” point of view rather than just ignoring the world you created – specifically that which is seen through the eyes of your main character.

Also, I found a lot of the conspiracy behind Quincy’s conviction a bit far fetched for my taste. I can get behind “the mob did it and framed this guy,” but some of the side stories related to that main plot point were just too much. For example, I’m not entirely sure how it mattered to the case that Quincy’s original lawyer was kidnapped and forced to literally watch two other men get eaten alive by alligators and then threatened to be shoved into the swamp himself. Especially since after spending a reasonable amount of time following this lawyer and his story, Post is told by him to “never contact me again.” So Grisham ignores him for the rest of the novel, too.

The concept behind the story is good, but like I said, it wasn’t my favorite Grisham novel. If you want a story that’s about the “good guys” fighting for someone who really deserves it, I recommend The Street Lawyer instead.

Blessings,

Homeschool Update: September 2021

We’ve been back to homeschool for nearly a month now, so I wanted to post a little update on how things are going.

Ballet Boy (12th)

Ballet Boy is working hard at studying for his GED test rather than doing set classes. He and I have been working on the courses from ACT Mom (which we reviewed late last month) together. In some ways it’s like schooling a 1st grader again because he’s not confident enough in himself to fully understand the concepts. This means that he’s tentative to work on it on his own for fear that he’ll miss something and not absorb the information properly. So we spend about an hour a day, three days a week working on this course. The videos and quizzes are short, but we spend a lot of time pausing and going over what’s being taught in our own words to make sure he understands what’s going on.

In addition to that, Ballet Boy is taking a self defense (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) class with Practice Monkeys (review on that in November). This is daily (M-Th), and he does the classes with Scorpion. They seem to be having quite a bit of fun with it. He’s also reading quite a bit and has begun teaching a music class (ukulele basics) to his younger brothers. I truly appreciate his help with that because I am not at all musical (I don’t even really like music that much), but I still think it’s important for them to learn.

He also works 5 days a week, from 4pm until “late” with Will. The two of them are working hard to really build up the publishing business. They’ve put together a product line for our comic as well as the beginnings of some social media for the company. If you like to laugh, give us a follow! Now we just need to really get the word out to start selling the stuff.

Scorpion (9th)

Scorpion is plugging away at his Khan Academy courses. For the most part, I trust him to get done everything that needs to be done each day. I ask him a couple of times a day how it’s going in order to keep him on track (left to his own devices, he’d play basketball and rubik’s cubes all day). I also get on his iPad at the end of the week to make sure he’s been honest with me – so far, he has! As of right now, he’s between 2-10% done with each of his classes. Some of the easier ones (grammar, pixar) he gets through quicker, while things like math and science are more difficult for him.

He is also reading Frankenstein and doing a Progeny Press study guide to go along with it. More on that next month.

Grasshopper (4th)

Grasshopper is my main student this year. The older brother work largely independently, which is really helpful because it allows me to focus a few hours each day on Grasshopper. So far, things are going quite well. We’re (mostly) sticking to the schedule I made each day, and it’s really rewarding to be so productive. It feels good to get through the work each day, knowing that not only are we using our time well, but that he’s getting some really good foundational learning done.

Things we work on each day:

Words Rock (language arts practice)

Reading Kingdom: Spelling Ninja (review coming soon)

CTC Math

Reading Eggs (mostly for fun, but good practice nonetheless)

Literature (we’ve got a few books going right now; more on them in another post)

Science (the Discovering Disgusting Creatures course on SchoolhouseTeachers.com – he was really skeptical at first, but now he loves it!)

Dragonfly (K)

We’re taking a super relaxed start with Dragonfly, mostly so I don’t have to split my time quite so many ways. He and I spend about an hour a day working on Reading Eggs and Math Seeds, and I try to get him to read an early reader book each week (though that’s a little frustrating at this time). As the weather turns and it’s easier to get more hours inside without the kids bugging me to go outside and play all the time, we will add in more hands-on things with him, like lapbooks. Stay tuned for some of those projects later in the fall and winter!

How is your first month of homeschool going?

Blessings,

 

 

Recipe: Angel Chicken

I have a recipe to share with you today. It’s so delicious, though probably not the healthiest thing in the world. It’s not that it’s full of “bad” things, but because of the cream cheese, butter, and pasta it has a lot of fat and carbs. You could counterbalance that by using a low fat cream cheese, butter substitute (or just lessen the amount of butter) and low-carb pasta (or skip the pasta altogether and serve with spaghetti squash or other “noodled” vegetables). You could also skip the “bed” entirely and just eat this sauce as its own dish (it’s definitely thick enough to pull that off) with a side salad or other choice of vegetables.

I originally found the idea for this recipe on AllRecipes.com. My version uses all the same ingredients, but I’ve modified the cooking method to make it easier to cook well. It’s not necessarily easier, per se, but whole chicken breasts can be tricky to cook well in the oven. The original recipe called for making the sauce separately, then pouring it over the chicken and baking it altogether. It could be because I have kids, or maybe because I get pretty frustrated when my chicken takes too long to cook, but I like to chop the chicken up and cook the small pieces. This saves the trouble of cutting them up for the kids later when you’re ready to serve. Also, baking chicken breasts can be hit or miss. Just a couple of minutes too long and your chicken is suddenly unpalatable due to dryness. So I’ve combatted those issues by cutting up the chicken in advance and cooking it in a skillet (you can add oil if you want, but I normally don’t need to) and then adding the sauce ingredients and cooking everything in one skillet. The other benefit of making it this way is that it’s just a one pot meal (excluding the pasta, but that’s an easy pan to wash later).

Let’s get to the recipe!

Angel Chicken

(serves 6-8)

1-1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts, cubed
1 packet dry Italian dressing (find it on the salad dressing aisle)
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 cans Golden Mushroom soup
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
hot cooked pasta

Cook chicken. Sprinkle dressing mix over chicken and mix well. Add cream cheese and soup. Mix until cheese melts. Stir in butter and melt. Serve over pasta.

What’s your favorite chicken recipe? Pasta recipe?

Blessings,

Reading Eggs (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We had such a great time learning with Reading Eggs and Mathseeds last year that I eagerly requested to review it again this year. Grasshopper was really jealous of Dragonfly’s work last year, so I added him to the account this year, and Bumblebee is preschool age now, so he got an account too! Let’s explore Reading Eggs again, this time with all three of my little guys.

Bumblebee (3 years old)

Bumblebee has been using Reading Eggs Junior, a specially designed portion of the app for the 2-4 age group. It is super simple, but has loads of great activities to get your child ready for reading and math, which they will encounter in a couple of years. There are three main sections to Reading Eggs Junior: Books, Videos, and Activities. Bumblebee has been working on the activities exclusively at this time.

In the Activities section, there are 14 different areas to work in: colors, counting, eggs, handwriting, jack in a box, jigsaw puzzles, letter puzzles, matching game, memory, sorting, same or different, sound buttons, sounds, and the alphabet. We have worked primarily on the colors lessons, with a few of the others sprinkled in for good measure. Bumblebee learned his colors really early – he’s known them for months already. In fact, one of his first words when he was learning to talk was “yellow.” He can easily differentiate between the “normal” colors, so he enjoyed being able to do the colors lessons easily. In these lessons, children are shown 2-4 pictures (a butterfly, a fish, a car, etc) with a circle cut out of it. At the bottom of the screen are those cutouts. They simply drag the correct color up to the right picture.

Matching Game has also been fun for Bumblebee. It is very simple (obviously – it’s designed for the very young), with just 3 pairs per game. Whenever my littlest boy got a matched set, he would get so excited!

Overall, he has had great fun with Reading Eggs. He spent the better part of the last year watching Dragonfly with his lessons, so he’s learned through observation that way, and now it’s exciting to let him have his own turn with such a familiar program.

Grasshopper (9 years old)

When you think of Reading Eggs, you probably think of a program for younger kids – those who don’t yet read or who need some remedial help. Grasshopper fits neither of those criteria, but he was always pretty jealous of Dragonfly’s lessons last year. We had a bit of difficulty getting him a proper diagnostic placement test, so instead of using Reading Eggs proper, he’s been using Fast Phonics to reinforce the reading he already does reasonably well.

Fast Phonics uses a “Matterhorn” theme, and the main character is a yeti. Each lesson contains about 20 activities, and they are quite similar to the Reading Eggs activities, but with a focus on phonics rather than sight words. Here are a few words from Grasshopper on the program.

When I play the video games in Fast Phonics, the yeti helps me along the way. The videos help me learn new sounds and it’s really useful to help me learn new words and stuff like that. My favorite of all the games I play on there is the game where the yeti is on the wrecking ball and you have to knock the sounds down (the sounds are engraved on the ice). It’s a really fun game and it helps me to really remember the sounds I’ve learned.

It’s really fun, and Fast Phonics has been amazing. I’m glad I started it.

Dragonfly (5 years old)

Dragonfly has been using Reading Eggs and Math Seeds for over a year now, and it’s been so good for him. He has learned so much through these programs! Let’s talk a little bit about them.

Each lesson consists of about 12 activities. The first activity is typically a video to introduce a specific word or sound. Each of the activities after that reinforce the concept taught in the introductory video. You can easily tell how many activities are in a specific lesson by looking at the pop out menu on the left. It shows exactly what activities your child has done, the one they’re currently on, and those that are upcoming. Each lesson uses a mix of different activities, and there are more than 12 games, so no two days are quite the same.

Some of Dragonfly’s favorite games are the frog hop one (which is just like the old “Frogger” game, except you have to land your frog on the truck with the word of the day); the planet match one (where you are given 3 planets each with a word; when the star appears, you match the word on the star to the appropriate planet); and the painting game (it’s like a paint by number, except it’s a paint by word; the child reads the color word and then colors that section accordingly). When all of the activities for the lesson have been completed, the child is awarded with an Egg, which hatches open and reveals a creature. After every 10 lessons, there is a 15-question quiz. The child must get at least 11 questions right in order to move on to the next ten lessons.

Math Seeds is much like Reading Eggs except for Pre-K/K math. Because math is an easier subject for a lot of kids, the lessons are longer and there’s a quiz (“Show Me Your Skills!”) after each lesson. There are a series of activities/games, and at the end of the lesson the child is awarded with a Seed that has a creature in it.

Here are a few words from Dragonfly:

The activities help me read and it’s really fun. I’m really good at it. I always do it. I love it.

As you can see from my kids’ own words, we love Reading Eggs and Mathseeds! This will continue to be a staple in our homeschool for many years to come.

Make sure to click through and read more reviews from other families.

Blessings,

 

Why We Use a Literature Based Approach in Homeschooling

I’ve mentioned before (but only in passing) that I prefer a literature-based approach in homeschooling. It didn’t used to be that way. When the teenagers were small, we were more workbook based, but it wasn’t enjoyable for anyone. That’s not to say that everything needs to be fun all the time, especially in schooling, but if your kids aren’t engaged in what’s being taught, they won’t retain any of the information you’re imparting to them. And that’s if you can even get them to do the work in the first place.

Two children are standing in a forest with mythical light. Each one is holding and reading a book.

About the time Ballet Boy was 9 and Scorpion was 6, I joined the Homeschool Review Crew for the first time. Leading up to that point, I’d read an ebook called Homeschooling: Take a Deep Breath – You Can Do This! by Terrie Lynn Bittner. I got it for free at some point in an Amazon promo, and I mostly read it during the nights when I was up with a baby Grasshopper. (It doesn’t appear to be available as a Kindle book anymore, but you can get a paperback copy for about $15.) That book changed our homeschool permanently! There were so many ideas in there for how to run a homeschool, particularly one that didn’t look like “school at home.” It was there that I learned about lap books and that playing games could be a reasonable – and successful – form of learning. I learned about Unit Studies, and that was the method of schooling that really spoke to me the most.

Some of our earliest unit studies were Penguins and Newspapers. I created my own studies for the boys, and all were based around – you guessed it – a book. When we studied penguins, we read Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I created a spelling list for each of the boys revolving around penguins and the antarctic. We created a lap book, and generally had fun learning together. For our newspapers unit, we read Henry and the Paper Route, learned about how paper is made (including creating “wood pulp” from existing paper and reforming it into our own new paper), and took a field trip to the local newspaper office. Those are some of my fondest memories with my older boys.

It was around this time (the next school year, I want to say) that I found Ambleside Online, and we did an entire school year using their curriculum. It’s a lot of reading, but such a good curriculum if you’re looking for something based on “living books” (novels and picture books rather than textbooks). Doing that year of Ambleside, I realized just how much I wanted to incorporate books into our homeschool. They are so vital to memorable learning, and I’m forever grateful I finally came around to a different way of teaching my boys.

These days, we get a lot of review products to incorporate into our school days, but I still favor a literature heavy approach. We read a ton of books together, and going heavy on the literature is a good way to incorporate a lot of different learning styles into a single teaching session. Obviously you can’t do everything together when you’re teaching different ages, but you definitely can read books to many children at once. And they’ll all absorb different things from the same book.

You don’t have to “write” your own curriculum if you want to try a literature-based homeschooling approach. There are lots of options out there. One that I haven’t used, but I have gotten a sample of and think has amazing potential is from Leah at As We Walk Along the Road. She even has quite a few free literature unit studies! Homeschool Share has lots of unit studies based on children’s books (both picture books for the younger crowd and kid novels). Progeny Press is an obvious choice for making sure your students get “more” out of each novel. The list goes on and on.

What’s your homeschooling style?

Blessings,