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Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

Minecraft Learning!

Minecraft-Homeschool-Lessons

We recently started using a new History curriculum and love it! The boys are learning about Viking Victories on Minecraft Homeschool. They are on their 2nd week and we are all DELIGHTED! Minecraft Homeschool hopes to add Writing, Mathematics and Science classes by Fall of 2014.

Based on our experience thus far, this is a program that will be here to stay, at least for my older boys 🙂

What I LOVE about Minecraft Homeschool

  • You can’t log into their server to build on Minecraft without completing the assigned reading and taking & submitting the quiz.
  • The teachers are VERY accessible and have answered all of my questions.
  • The boys get extra credit for doing some of the work with other students. They are definitely learning to work in teams, a skill that they will surely need in the workforce and in life.
  • The program is VERY well structured and organized! This makes it so much more enjoyable for them and easier for me!
  • The learning material is engaging and includes lots of images and videos!
  • The way the program is set up is teaching the boys planning skills, project management and meeting deadlines. This is one of my favorite skill to have them learn. It is one they will need fof college and beyond!
  • They interact with students around the country and some from around the world.
  • The rules are very strict, keeping the environment safe and productive for each child (I still monitor their use and who they are chatting with on the server)
  • The boys’ LOVE Minecraft is a great incentive and makes it a great learning tool and motivation to get through the week’s work!

Challenges I Have Encountered

  • Not as suitable for a 6/7-year-old as I expected. The site says a child as young as 5 can take the class. Children are different and each family has their own dynamic. With a new baby and 6 kids in the home I had to give my 7-year-old too much assistance. This made it unrealistic for him to use the program. He was also not too interested in the reading or even the videos. They were all too long for his attention span.
  • You only need one Minecraft account and can have children share. I found it easier to have them each have their own. This was an extra expense I was not planning for.
  • The lessons are very meaty and the homework a bit lengthy. I DON’T think this is a negative right now. It is definitely requiring the boys to plan ahead and plan out their week more!

The boys have learned so much and this new History program has enriched our homeschool. I am already looking forward to and planning for their next class! Check their site out! The next classes start February 24th!

We are BLESSED to have found Minecraft Homeschool!!

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Cicuit

 

We are enjoying Supercharged Science once again!

The boys are learning about Electricity! Today we worked on Simple Circuits. My oldest son LOVES learning about how to fix thing and how things work. He was a happy student today!

Sometimes you can tell early on a child’s bent or even calling. I don’t know what my eldest son is going to do for a living but I do know that he LOVES Engineering!

What made me the most proud today? Circuits can be very frustrating to work with and figure out. Any little thing will make a circuit not work and you can spend more time than you want to trying to figure out why it’s not working. He was having difficulty with his circuit and I told him to refer back to the video and the comments of other students online to help him. He insisted and said that he was instead going to try to figure it out himself.

Well, he did!

As a teacher, it brings me such joy when I see my students succeed in a particular challenge! Nothing like that smile of pride on their faces!

I think this is going to be a favorite subject this year, once again!

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Kids Love Technology

I love exposing my children to different activities and experiences. A wide range of exposure helps them explore and discover their God-given talents and passions.

Like many kids his age, my oldest son LOVES technology and gadgets. He is also looking for ways to start his own business.

As I look for ways to help him think like a creator/inventor/business man and not just a consumer, computer science sounds like just the thing we should try next!

Computer Science for Kids Bible Games

I was excited when the opportunity to review Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic was presented to me.

Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic  is one of many Microsoft Small Basic Programming Tutorials published by Computer Science for Kids.

The tutorial is designed to be used by teachers, homeschool parents and children that have little to no experience. The language is simple and easy to understand, and uses clear step-by-step instructions.

After using the program the child/student will be able to develop his/her own applications and computer games using Microsoft’s Small Basic Development Environment for Beginners.

Computer Science for Kids’ tutorials are appropriate for early middle school, high school and adult students.

Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic contains a total of 13 lessons (click to see Table of Contents). Depending on the age of the child and his/her prior experience, each lesson is expected to be covered in one week. To fully grasp the material it will take the student a total of 3-6 hours of time to complete each lesson (click to see a sample Chapter Preview). The tutorials are self-study and self-paced and the times are just recommendations.

As soon as 10 weeks into the program your child can be programming and playing his/her own Computer Bible game! The games he/she will learn to program include:

  • Noah’s Ark
  • Daniel and the Lions
  • Elijah and the Ravens
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Prodigal Son
  • The Lost Coin
  • Bible Scamble

Computer Bible Games

Our Experience

The lessons are written in simple language, easy to understand, regardless of your or your child’s level of prior experience. Though the exercises and practice assignments can be performed by a child that is 10 years old, I found the reading material to be above an average 10-year-old’s comprehension level. This did not stop Isaiah from being introduced to the world of computer programming!

I would read through the lesson the day before and work through the practice programs. At this point I felt comfortable enough to walk through the assignments with Isaiah, and would have him do the practice assignments. If he asked or if I thought necessary, I would explain some of the theory or definitions from the book to him

I would not go too much into the technical wording and theory with my son. I would give him as much as he asked! I would answer questions, or explain when he asked me to. My purpose is to expose him and let him have fun with computer science and let his questions drive the experience. The technical jargon made him lose interest quickly!

My Thoughts

Challenges

  • I found it difficult to keep track of the terms and definitions.  It would be helpful to have, at the end or beginning of a lesson, a list or chart of terms and definitions. This would be especially helpful as one moves further in the program and the lessons are more lengthy and involved.
  • The lessons are downloadable and are available in Word format. PDF would be much easier to navigate.

What I Liked

  • The program is a great introduction to more complex computer languages (i.e. C++, Java). I would especially recommend it for students 12+. If your child is interested in technology, it is also a program a parent can go through with him/her.
  • The program was well-organized, starting out simple and gradually getting more complex, making it easy to follow and keep up. The theory was explained in clear language, making the world of computer programming reachable to anyone!
  • The lessons do not just teach the computer language and program design, but also good habits! When the student gets the opportunity to design their own programs, the text explains and encourages important practices to keep, like:
      • keeping notes in your program, making future changes and collaboration with others easier.
      • good planning skills
      • building your program in stages…otherwise, errors compound.

I enjoyed how this program made teaching computer science not just possible, but fun!

You can order Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic at Computer Science for Kids! You have the option of ordering Beginning Microsoft Small Basic Tutorial (the same as the one reviewed, with secular games to program).You have the option of ordering the  paperback textbook Plus E-Tutorial Digital Download for $59.95 (free shipping in USA) or the digital e-download, ON SALE NOW for only for $34.95!

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

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CaptureThere are many challenges common to most moms. One shared by many is how to best engage a baby and/or a preschooler. It is definitely at the top of my list!

Managing the routines of children in different age groups and meeting their different emotional and academic needs will test anyone! Usually, the ones who fall through the cracks are the babies. Flowering Baby has helped me feel more equipped to better meet the needs of my younger children.

Martha Saunders, a stay-at-home and homeschool mother, co-authored Flowering Baby with her mother Carolyn Schulte who has a Masters in Early Childhood Education. Their collaboration has resulted in a program for children ages birth – age 5 that:

  • engages the child in age-appropriate ways
  • is packed with daily activities that are easy to implement into any routine
  • challenges the child in a wide variety of areas like music, fine and gross motor skills, literature, critical thinking and foreign language

I have been asked to use and review two of their curriculums, One to Two Years (for children between the ages of 1 and 2) for my baby girl and Three to Four Years  (for children between the ages of 3 and 4) for my son.

I am very pleased with our experience and have already seen results in both of the children.

I have included a separate review for each. Read the one that best applies to you!

One to Two Years

The Curriculum

Vol2Currclick.jpgThe program is divided up by month. Each month has 20 or more daily activities for you to do with your child for 20 minutes a day. The focus of this year is building confidence, independence and expanding the child’s vocabulary. The curriculum includes:

  1. A full list of all items and books you will need for the year
  2. Monthly lists of daily, age-appropriate activities focusing on various skills. Each month lists the materials and books you need, making it easy to prepare for.
  3. Daily musical activity; either listening to classical music or singing songs (words to songs are included in Appendix)
  4. Daily suggested book to read

At this age the daily focus is usually on one concept or activity, like:

    • Facial features
    • Expansion of vocabulary (i.e. household items)
    • Dancing, galloping, kicking, hopping 
    • Imagination and Pretend play
    • Dressing, undressing, putting shoes on
    • Play dough, painting, clay (recipes included in Appendix)
A Sample Day (click on image to see a sample page!)

Sample

How We Used It

In the evening I would look over the next day’s activity and set aside any needed items or books. In the morning, while my older children worked on classes, my daughter and I would do the activity for the day. Usually, my 3-year-old would join in! It was hard for him to see us crawling, painting and dancing and not want to participate!

If on a given day I had other things to tend to, I would enlist one of my older boys to do the games, sing the songs and/or read the books to their sister! I have always tried to incorporate sibling time in our schedule, and appreciated how Flowering Baby gave us a higher level of structure for this time. Having a specific task to accomplish with their younger sisters added to the level of responsibility for the older sibling. The “lessons” were more like games for the kids and made for great memories with their sister!

One thing that made this work the most for me was the flexibility of not having to do it all in one sitting. I did what the author encouraged, which was to read the cues from my daughter. Some days she lost interest sooner than others or was not in a good mood. I would not hesitate to do the rest of the activity at a different time. We sang songs during bath time or read the books for bed time.

To keep this program fun for both you and your child it is important to be flexible. Especially for younger ages, these are activities you can enjoy with your child throughout the day.

What I liked

    • The activities were simple, making it easy to ask an older sibling to do with the baby
    • The layout of the program made it very easy to use and required minimal preparation
    • Many of the activities were easy to do in different settings (living room, during baths, in the car)
    • The things needed were common household items
    • Though the activities were simple, they progressed in a pace that was gradually more challenging, but always age-appropriate and fun!

There were days when my child wanted to do more and the activities were too short for her, so I did the next days’ activity.

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      Big brother helps with baby’s painting project!

What My Child Thought About It

My daughter enjoyed the activities but more than anything the extra individualized attention she has been getting this month! Her favorite pastime is singing, and with all the new songs she has learned this month, she has been doing lots of it!

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Working on gross-motor skills with brothers!

Three to Four Years

The Curriculum

Vol4Currclick_thumb.jpgStarting at 3-years-old, the curriculum has a different set-up to better meet the needs of an older child.

The program includes General Education Guide and the Theme Studies.

General Education Guide for three to four includes 10-15 days of activities per month, each lasting 30-45 minutes. The activities build foundational academic skills for math, science, reading and even foreign language! Though you can do any language you choose, the program uses Spanish. This worked for us since Spanish is our second-language.

The Theme Studies give your child the opportunity to learn more about a specific topic. Themes include:

  • Farm Animals
  • Self Image
  • Dinosaurs
  • Bodies of Water
  • and more!

You’re encouraged to work on a theme that most interests your child and it is suggested you do two a month. They each have six days worth of activities.

How We Used It

Separating the kids lessons is, most times difficult to do. I usually had to combine this curriculum for my 3-year-old and the baby and many times my 6-year-old. Some days my 8-year-old would ask to read the books to his brother. We tried to use it in a way that best fit with the routine we already have in place:

  • We did the General Studies Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, in the morning, while the other children completed their own work.
  • We worked on the Theme Studies on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Reading, coloring and other activities were usually done in the afternoon, so the brothers (and sometimes baby sister) could be included

What I Liked

We all LOVED the Theme Studies! So far, we got a chance to do two themes. My son just had a birthday in December and wanted to do “My Birthday”. We read some books about birthdays, talked about the day and place he was born and together baked a cake.

Fun Making Cake!

Making a birthday cake with Mami!

We live in Ohio, so being that it’s January, it makes sense to do “Arctic Life”! I especially loved the list of books recommended, and so did my kids!

A favorite was Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear by Eric Carle, who’s one of our favorite authors! Even the older boys wanted to read it for quiet time!

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I thought this curriculum was for my 3-year-old, but his brothers strolled in and joined many times!

My Thoughts

Flowering Baby has brought back one of the simple things that has been missing from my home and my homeschool for some time now. As I get used to homeschooling a big family I don’t do as much of the engaging activities with my younger ones as I did with my older ones when they were little. As I plan our days and our year many times I forget or don’t have the time to be intentional in planning for activities that will engage my younger children at their level. With Flowering Baby I have solved this problem, with minimal planning on my part! It has challenged and stretched my children and me!

Because of Flowering Baby we now:

  • listen to classical music during playtime
  • my 3-year-old now fills his own basket of books at the library
  • I spend much more time on the floor dancing, climbing and playing with my 3-year-old and singing and painting with my baby!

Flowering Baby has enriched our life and homeschool and nurtured sibling relationships!

One of the things that makes this program work for any busy mom is how simple and easy it is to use! It is designed to complement your day and not to be a burden.

For a limited time the vendor is giving my readers a 10% discount! Make sure to use discount code “Blog10” when purchasing!

You can start the program at any time in any given year. You can purchase individual years or the entire 5 year curriculum in CD format ($132)!

Click the links below to see sample pages of the curriculum!

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Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse 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. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations

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The TOS Crew’s year has officially started, and what a way to start!

Our first review is on some of Apologia Educational Ministries’ products! I and the boys were thrilled to participate! Apologia is a household name in the homeschooling community! They are a leader in the industry and publish award-winning books and curriculum for grades K-12, which include elementary science material.

For the past few weeks we have used Exploring Creation with Zoology III: Land Animals of the Sixth Day (for children grades K-6) for our science curriculum. We were asked to review both the Textbook  and the Regular Notebooking Journal.

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Textbook & Lapbooking Journal

When we first got it, and the boys thumbed through the books, they were enthralled by the pictures and couldn’t wait to jump right into the lessons! That first day my oldest son said, “Mami, I am so excited about our science curriculum!” Words like these are music to a homeschool mom’s ears!

The Curriculum

Apologia uses the immersion approach, spending a longer amount of time in a single subject (land animals). “The immersion approach is the way everyone, even you kids, learn best.” This method makes it more likely for your child to develop a love for the subject and learning in general!

Going through Exploring Creation with Zoology III you will study the subject from different angles, but more importantly, you and your child will learn to look at God’s creation as His amazing masterpiece! The text takes the child on a thrilling “safari” through jungles, forests, deserts and more! It is written in a narrative style and is simple enough to engage a 6-year-old and engaging enough for a 13-year-old. The words are dynamic, and the “safari” the child gets to go on, during their journey through the text, is captivating!

Scripture is all over the text and is linked to the material, in context! This makes God’s Word more relevant to my children and helped them understand it’s relation to the world around them! The text further engages your child and family with questions that encourage narration. Narrating is a great exercise that helps the child better assimilate the material as they look for ways to explain it  in their own words.

The Notebooking Journal is optional, but is an excellent complement to the lessons in the text! It not only helps you document your child’s learning for
the year, but offers additional learning opportunities which include:

  • bible verse copywork
  • review Questions
  • vocabulary crossword puzzles
  • lapbook activities
  • coloring pages

In the Notebooking Journal, each chapter has a list of recommended resources (books and DVDs). These were so much fun and were well-chosen “living books” organized by age and included fiction and non-fiction. When in Chapter 2, we ordered more than 30 books recommended for children ages 4-8! These were mostly picture books and gave us a great opportunity to include our 3-year-old in our learning adventure!

Recommended Schedule

The text is organized into 14 Lessons. The recommended time to cover each lesson is 2 weeks, but this may vary with each child/family. My boys enjoyed their new science class 3 times a week:

  • we read the text Mondays and Wednesdays, in the morning
  • in the afternoons, for storytime, we enjoyed the books/DVDs recommended for the lesson.
  • we would also do the Notebooking Journal activities in the afternoon
  • each lesson has includes an experiment, which we completed on Fridays. Experiments use items easily obtainable and there are sites where you can purchase everything you need in a kit!
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“Living Books” for Chapter 1

Suggestions

  • To make our science reading time (the Text or the “living books”) I would have my 3 and 6-year-old work on the coloring sheets in the Notebooking Journal, to help them sit quietly.
  • My boys, especially my oldest, are not too exciting about writing. When going over the “Review Questions” in the Notebooking Journal, we would have the boys stand in front of the rest of the family and take turns answering the questions! This made for fun and education family time!

My Thoughts

At the heart of our family’s homeschool mission is to graduate Christians who have an unshakable faith in the face of a society that will not doubt challenge it! The main battleground in this effort is definitely science. I look forward to adding Apologia’s science curriculum to our homeschool as I know it will better equip me in not just educating but also discipling my kids! We have learned so much already! We, especially, have all learned that our love of science and our biblical-worldview do not have to be mutually exclusive!

Crossword puzzles helped us learn our new vocabulary words!

Crossword puzzles helped us learn our new vocabulary words!

If you would like to start your own “safari” and learn about the land animals created on the 6th day visit Apologia Educational Ministries’ website! The Textbook is available for $39. To further enrich your child’s learning experience, order the Notebooking Journal ($24) for children Grades 3-6. The Junior Notebooking Journal is available for children in Grades K-2! Apologia Educational Ministries provides even more resources (links to articles, files and more) that complement each lesson. Access to these are available to you at no cost, with the purchase of the Textbook!

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The boys read about animal careers and met some friends at a vet clinic to learn more about veterinarian medicine! CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION!

Visit the site and see sample pages of the Textbook and Notebooking Journal!

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Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse 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. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations

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