Meet the Family: Scorpion

Meet the Family: Scorpion

It took me a while to get this post done because my second son took a long time deciding what he wanted his nickname to be. 

Meet Scorpion. 

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He is 13 years old, and his main interests are dancing (ballet, tumbling, and Irish) and animation. He has been taking tumbling class for 3 years, Irish for 1 1/2, and ballet just since September. He recently started being super into animation thanks to free iPad apps. He makes at least one new animation each week. We bought him the “king of all animation books” (according to my husband), and he’s been reading that like crazy. It’s written by “Frank and Ollie,” two of the original Disney animators, and Scorpion has learned a lot from it. It’s clear he’s been reading it carefully because his animations are getting better and better the more he reads and learns.

He is also a voracious reader, though not as much as he used to be. Sometimes when I don’t have time to read a book that we need to review, he will write those posts for me. His first one will be later this week.

Blessings, 

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Learning to Read: review of PRIDE Reading

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

This post contains affiliate links.

Reading is usually a very difficult thing for students to learn. I’m on my third go-round, and it’s the second time it’s been tough (my second son practically taught himself). With Grasshopper, my 7-year-old, we’ve tried many different programs with varying degrees of success over the past year or two. Our most recent curriculum is PRIDE Reading Program, and for the first time, it seems like he’s making real progress. 

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When we first got word that we’d been chosen for this review, I sat down with him and did the placement test. This was basically going over letter names, sounds, and blends to see what your child already knows so that you can order the right level for them. He tested at the PRIDE Yellow Book Program Kit – Level 1. This is the second out of four levels. The first is Beginning Consonants, followed by Yellow, Orange, and Red levels (numbered 1-3).

I told my son about the new reading program while we were waiting on the mail, and though he’s been a very reluctant reader thus far, he showed some enthusiasm for trying it. He was so excited that even though it was Saturday when it arrived, he wanted to do the first lesson right away. I never expected that from him out of a reading program!

Before I dive too deeply into the lessons, let’s go over what you get in the kit. Each of these items is available for individual purchase, but you really need the whole kit to really teach the program properly.

393D9159-C521-464F-9E56-E75A3E1ADAC1First is the teacher guide. This is available only online; there’s no physical book, so you need to make sure you have internet access. It has a good mobile version, though, so your phone or tablet will work just fine. (I usually used my iPhone.) The teacher guide is vital. You should not try to teach without it. It goes through every single step of the lesson, telling you just what to say and how to guide your student through the activities.

The student book is a physical, spiral bound book with all the different pages needed for the program. There are reading pages, writing pages, and games. The back cover is also utilized, which leads me to 

Letter Tiles. These are very sturdy, high quality, cardboard squares. You have to punch them out like you would the tiles in a new game, and then store them in a bag. There are single letters as well as prefixes, suffixes, and blends.

The sound cards are like a deck of cards, but instead of game values they have letters (same as the letter tiles) in various singles and combinations. 

The final component of the Yellow Kit is the PRIDE Activity kit. This includes a whiteboard with two markers (black and red) and an eraser, a reading tracker (a piece of translucent plastic, gray on the top and bottom and yellow in the middle, to help your student not mix up lines while they’re reading), a game die, and a canvas zipper pouch to keep everything in.

5008E9B7-9413-4A62-814E-DE921B9D44EBThe lessons are completely “open and go.” After you, the teacher, complete the PRIDE Reading training (which took me just about an hour, and I did during the week we were waiting on the mail), all you have to do is gather the supplies (everything I listed above), open the teacher manual on the website, and go through the steps. When you’ve completed each step (there have been about 10 in each lesson we’ve done so far), you verify that your student has completed the module to your satisfaction, and then the next lesson is unlocked.
The lessons (modules) contain a variety of activities, but many are the same each time. You always start by reviewing the letter names and sounds of every consonant plus the vowels that have been studied up to that point. Then there are a few different activities that rotate somewhat from lesson to lesson. These include spelling activities (spelling words on the back cover of the workbook using the letter tiles), phonemic awareness (say a word, then repeat the word but change one of the sounds), blending (divide the consonant sound cards into two stacks with a vowel in the middle and have your student read the words, some of which won’t be real), and more.
Then you move on to “red words.” These are words that can’t be sounded out in English (like “said”), so students must STOP! and focus  on the word in order to read it. You write the word on the whiteboard using the provided red marker, introduce the word, the have the student write, read, and spell the word out loud until they’re comfortable with it.

After red words (of which there was one new one per module), students read. Sometimes they read a list of words, sometimes it’s sentence to two, and sometimes it’s a full story. On the days they read a story, students learn to read silently. My son didn’t especially enjoy this, but it’s such a vital skill that I’m glad it was taught. When your student is reading silently, you have them stop periodically and answer comprehension questions so you can be sure they’ve read properly.

C04B3526-59C1-40AC-B7A5-683FB3FEE093The final steps of each module are writing. This is done by dictation. You say a sound, the student writes the letter. You say a word, the student writes it down, correctly spelled. You say a sentence, the student writes it down. 

There are 3 modules in each lesson: introduction, practice, and reinforcement. These should be done over a total of 3-5 days. Because of time constraints with dance class and a needy toddler, we ended up needing to take 2 days for each 10-step module most of the time. I would’ve loved to move through more quickly, but it just wouldn’t happen for us.

When I first saw the initial lesson, I worried it would be too much for Grasshopper, but I was wrong. He is easily (but not too easily) able to work through every part of every lesson. His enthusiasm hasn’t waned one bit since we first started. And now, he’s finally excited about reading and has actually started to read things on his own. He even finished his first “step into reading level 2” book recently! I couldn’t be happier with PRIDE Reading Program, and I know Grasshopper feels the same.

Blessings,

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Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are telling about their experiences with PRIDE Reading Program this week too. Make sure to click through to read those reviews!

Christian Apologetics: a TOS review

DISCLAIMER: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange fir my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

 
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through The Unbreakable Faith Course from Pilgrim’s Rock, LLC. As you can surmise from my post title, this is a course on Christian Apologetics (defending the faith), and it is very well done.

6F192806-43F5-4305-9640-2654E0232C24The course consists of video lessons and two textbooks: The Box and God the Reason, both written by series creator Craig Biehl. The books (called “textbooks,” but formatted like and as easy to read as novels) are available either as physical copies or PDF ebooks. The video lessons are online. The course is self-paced, but required to be completed within 36 weeks (one standard school year). The course is designed for teens 15+ and adults, and complete enough to earn your teen one high school credit. 

B2EC8C51-1871-4165-B551-6CF8157E33EEThe course has 6 parts, each one with required reading from the texts and several videos. There is a quiz at the end of each part. Like any high school or college course, the best place to start is with the syllabus, and The Unbreakable Faith Course has a very complete one that goes over the expectations, grading scale, and course calendar very clearly.

The first assignment was to read The Box in its entirety. This was easily done because, like I mentioned before, it reads like a novel. The book forms the foundation of the course, and is interesting to read because it has many “conversations” between two characters, called Mr. A (atheist) and Mr. C (Christian). There are some interesting points made by Mr. C, but the one I found most compelling was that atheism requires just as much, if not more, faith as Christianity. The only difference is where that faith lies.

AC112BB1-C59D-4079-BB3B-5095DA77F824Once you finish reading The Box, you work through God the Reason and the video lessons. The videos are usually in the 10-13 minute range, and I usually watched either after the kids were in bed or while I was cooking dinner. Those are typically the only times I had a few minutes to myself (as other moms understand!). The information contained therein was really solid, and I enjoyed the singing of hymns at the beginning and end of each one.

Overall, I think this is a very complete course, and definitely doesn’t skimp on information. I can understand how it earns a full credit for high schoolers!

Blessings,

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Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing The Unbreakable Faith Course this week too. Head over to the Crew blog to find links to those reviews; if you’re even a little curious about this course, you don’t want to miss the other reviews! 

Crochet Ripple Blanket

A few days ago, I finished making this crochet blanket. I absolutely loved making it; the colors are so pleasant, and the pattern was easily memorized, so it was great for show-watching and car-riding. There are countless versions of the pattern online (I’m guessing it’s one of the oldest crochet patterns around), but I followed the one by Jayda in Stitches on YouTube. My blanket is 10 repeats wide (140 stitches, 144 starting chains), and 3 repeats plus one segment tall. I consider each height repeat to be 8 rows of gray, 4 teal, 8 black, 4 teal. I finished it out with 8 rows of gray, because otherwise it felt like I’d “stopped” rather than “finished.”

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Blessings,

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Meet the Family: Ballet Boy

When I asked the kids what they wanted their new “blog names” to be, our oldest chose Ballet Boy. It’s rather fitting, seeing as though dance is his main “P.E” and extracurricular right now.  So, without further ado, let’s meet Ballet Boy.

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Ballet Boy is 16, and besides ballet (he’s been the lead role in three ballers now, including having been The Nutcracker twice) his main interest right now is medieval weaponry. He’s been doing loads of research and has started collecting swords. In fact, he’s even started making his own! He spends about half his schooldays in my homeschool, and the other half working with/for his dad. As he’s matured, he’s become a fantastic sounding board for ideas, and an invaluable part of Will’s team.

2659CF12-11F1-4D81-AD3C-B4065895361ABallet Boy is a remarkable young man, wise beyond his years (usually), and incredibly responsible. He’s been our go-to babysitter since he was 13, and it’s so nice being able to trust him in that capacity. 

Will does a lot the assigning for Ballet Boy’s school, and under his guidance, our son is learning Earth science and reading Machiavelli’s The Prince (besides the things I assign him as well). They have rousing discussions (so I’ve heard) about his readings. 

In addition to sword making and ballet, he has recently shown an interest in learning to sew; I got a new sewing machine a few days ago, so we’ve had a couple of lessons. 

I think that’s it for Ballet Boy for now. 

Blessings,

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Meet the Family: Will

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Will and I have been married for 19 years. He runs a publishing and graphic design company. The publishing side deals with his own books (he draws comics and writes and illustrates picture books). He also has a magazine, which features comics, stories, and non-fiction profiles. The goal of the magazine is to promote art and literacy in schools. As such, he offers copies free to schools for their students.

The graphics side focuses on helping other self-published authors get their books ready for print. He takes the text and illustrations (when applicable) and sets up the appropriate title pages, fonts, etc.

Outside of work, his favorite books are Cold Mountain and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. He enjoys mobster movies and spy shows. His favorite beverage is iced tea, and one of our regular date nights is to hit our favorite restaurant, sometimes just to drink tea and talk.

Though he works hard, he also likes to play hard. He isn’t opposed to getting down on the floor to play horsie with the little kids or grabbing a Nerf gun to shoot the teenagers.

He is a great interior designer; our home is beautiful because of his eye, not mine. He prefers his music on vinyl, as is proof by our collection of nearly 200 records.

I am blessed to get to spend my life with him.

Blessings,

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Meet the Family: Me

Because I took a long break from blogging, I though it might be a good idea to introduce my family. I’ll do one member a week until we’re all done, and will likely give the three older boys new “blog nicknames,” so if you’ve been here a while, don’t get confused when that happens. (Their current names were chosen many years ago, and their interests/sizes have changed, which was how I chose the names in the first place. Since I’m kind of starting fresh, it makes sense to do so fully.)

Let’s start with me!

I don’t like to spend much time in front of the camera, so you won’t see me often, but here I am.

I don’t like to spend much time in front of the camera, so you won’t see me often, but here I am.

My name is Wendy. I’ve been married for 19 years, and together my husband and I have 5 boys, ages 16, 13, 7, 4, and 1. I’ve been blessed to be able to stay home with my boys since the day our oldest was born. (Actually, I quit my job 3 weeks before he was born.) Four of my boys have been born via c-section, and while I was crushed when I was having my first one (with our second son, an emergency), I actually don’t mind them anymore. The first time we got to “choose” a birthday it was weird, but it’s kind of par for the course now. We have chosen to homeschool our boys, and to help with that I’m a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.

My hobbies are knitting and crocheting. I go back and forth between the two fairly regularly. I like knitting for anything that will be worn, and crocheting for things like blankets and toys. I’ve made many things in many categories over the years. I used to make quilts, but (almost) 3 years ago I got rid of my sewing machine. I’ve recently been bitten by the quilting bug, though, and hope to get a new sewing machine soon.

I sometimes enjoy reading, but it is more for work than recreation these days because I do copy editing for my husband’s publishing company. I also enjoy writing, and a recent children’s story I wrote was published in my husband’s magazine and distributed to over 10,000 elementary and middle school kids.

My favorite animals are elephants (though ladybugs are second place). My favorite colors are pink and brown. 

I think that’s it for now. I’m sure you’ll learn more about me as you continue to spend time here.

Blessings,

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Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com (2019)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

After a year off, I am so excited to be part of the Homeschool Review Crew again! For my first review of 2020, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of reacquainting myself with SchoolhouseTeachers.com. In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s the all-in-one homeschool curriculum website run by The Old Schoolhouse homeschool magazine. When I say “all-in-one,” I really mean it, too. With my Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership, I’ve been able to find things for all three of my school-age sons (10th grade, 8th grade, and 2nd grade) to do.

There are so many ways to dig around and find things on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. If you’re trying to plan “circle time” with a wide age range of children, you can search by topic. If you’re putting together individual  curricula for different children, you can search by age/grade.

For now, let’s take a short rundown of what each of my children used on SchoolhouseTeachers.com during the past month.

10th Grade:

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In order to find something for my oldest son, I first looked over SchoolhouseTeachers.com “by grade level.”  Then I considered his interests as well as what “holes” I thought needed filled in his school year. Using those two criteria, I found the perfect course for him: The National Debt. This is a 24-page PDF that I downloaded to my iPad and sent him via email so he could have it on his own tablet to work through. The course includes reading, vocabulary, and written exercises. When he’d finished the reading on his first day of this study, I found myself really impressed with him because he came out from studying and told me all about not just the course, but also some independent research he’d done based on the course. I love that he took the initiative to go above and beyond what was presented in order to further his understanding of the topic.

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46EBC1D0-3BE8-4BEA-8557-763B7C0A0F568th Grade:

For my second son, I followed a similar path in finding something for him. I chose a biography of Nikola Tesla. He’d learned a bit about Tesla through conversation and movies watched with his dad, so I knew this would pique his interest. The biography is on World Books, which is included as part of the SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership. In order to access the huge library of World Books, you login to that website using the username and password found on the members-only information page of SchoolhouseTeachers.com

In accessing this part of the website (World Books), I had the opportunity to deal with the customer service department at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I’d logged into World Books a few days before and emailed the link of the book to my son, but then when we tried to access it later, the login credentials didn’t work. Using the instant chat help feature, a very helpful person got me all squared away. Having that chat feature was really convenient and very effective.

2nd Grade:

F5782F97-CE00-4863-993D-FF1A2406C068My 7-year-old is a very inquisitive child. He loves being read to and learning about many things. Even though we’ve never used a formal curriculum with him, I have no concerns about his education at this stage (except for his reading) because of his curiousness. That said, it took me a bit of time to find something for him. The reading/spelling curricula for his age was a bit beyond him (he’s below grade level in reading but at or above in all other subjects). Combine that with it having been winter break (during which we were very busy with Nutcracker), and I wanted something light for him and I to do together. I found just the thing with the All About Inventions unit study. This teaches children about 15 fairly modern inventions, from bubblegum to Lincoln logs and fruit roll ups to laundry detergent. Each invention is given a short history (just a paragraph or two – enough to explain them to young children, but not to overwhelm them.) At the end of the short histories are a couple of activity pages for kids.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has more than just classwork, though. They have planning resources (printable planners for kids and moms – and dads – of all ages), a report card generator, college and career planning, and much, much more. There are over 450 classes available, plus videos, ebooks, and interactive content. And the best part is that you get all this for one price for you entire household – not per student. For the single price of $179 per year (or $19.95 per month or $39.95 per quarter), you get access to everything SchoolhouseTeachers.com has to offer. But if you head over there this month (January 2020), you’ll find a coupon code to get your annual membership for just $99 (or $12 monthly), and that price is guaranteed as long as you keep your membership active. 

As much as I love and endorse SchoolhouseTeachers.com, though, I encourage you not to just take my word here. Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find access to over 100 more reviews (and if reading isn’t your thing, some of those reviews are YouTube vlog reviews, and some are very short social media reviews).

Blessings,

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