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Feb 22, 2017

I'm such a Dork.


I was just looking over a few things on my other blogs.  I'm kind of trying to figure out how and if I want to combine the whole shebang into a single blog.  It just makes more sense now than it used to.  Anyway, over at Learning to Be a Light, I found this sitting in my drafts.



It's dorky, I know.  Today, after leaving a phone message for my own dad and before I called my stepdad, I called God.  On the phone.  Weird, huh?  I dialed a number I thought sounded godly and spoke to Him like I was leaving Him a message.  I spilled my guts.  I cried.  I asked Him to call me back.  The phone hasn't rung all night.  Bummer.

But I know he's there.  And He heard me.



It might be time to call my Heavenly Dad.   "Hello?  It's me again."

Feb 21, 2017

Renaissance and Reformation ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


I was never good at history.  It was just a lot of boring dead people and dates to remember.  We didn't learn things that made sense to me.  I didn't understand how things were connected across the globe and through time.  I'd like to help the punks make better sense of things, so I can really appreciate the use of timelines and such.  Home School in the Woods offers a curriculum that matches my hopes for hands on history lessons and with HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation, which is for students in 3rd-8th grade, we're getting a handle on one of my favorite periods.



Home School in the Woods uses a Christian perspective.  The award winning curriculum has won accolades from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and The Homeschool Review Crew, receiving several of our Blue Ribbon awards over the years.  Amy Pak and her husband, Ed, and their four children run Home School in the Woods from their little homeschool in the woods (and fields, creek, and ravine).  A homeschooling family since 1996, they enjoyed learning history through living books and a timeline.  Amy designs their timeline figures herself and one of her sons does most of the research and writing involved in their products.  Home School in the Woods is truly a family business.


I had two reasons for wanting to complete the Renaissance & Reformation Passport this year.
1. Renn Faire
We take the boys to a HUGE (well, to us) and fairly authentic renaissance faire every summer.  I absolutely loved the idea of studying this era with them this year, so they would have a deeper understanding of what exactly is happening when we are there.  I sometimes think they forget it is a real time period!
2. Unit Studies
I like unit studies.  The boys like unit studies.  I never do unit studies anymore unless the Homeschool Review Crew offers them, well, because I am a glutton for punishment.  And by punishment, I mean irritable children who complain non-stop about school.

I also had one concern.  It looked super involved.  We school year round and keep breaks to a minimum, which means we can also enjoy shorter days than some with older elementary students.  That means I won't spend an hour or more on history when we can't really set aside math and language arts.  These World History Studies are broken down into 25 lessons and you might expect to take six-12 weeks to complete the Renaissance & Reformation, we will take nearly twice as long.

The study is set up like an actual tour of the times and places.  You'll "travel" to Florence, London, Switzerland, and many other places on this journey which takes place from the 12th century to the 1600s.  You learn about every day life for the rich and the poor and "meet" royalty, artists, scientists, and clergy throughout the lessons.

Basic items you will need to complete the unit.
  • binders (1 1/2" or 2") per child (however, we worked as a family through everything and only needed the one 2" binder)
  • file folders (again, we worked together or took turns, so only needed one)
  • colored card stock
  • white card stock
  • copy paper
  • colored copy paper
  • glue sticks (or white school glue)
  • colored pencils
Some items that would be good to have (they're recommended, but I didn't use them at all).
  • a larger 3-ring binder for the teacher
  • double-sided sticky tape
  • acetate
  • lamination sheets
  • corrugated cardboard (any old box will work)
You'll also need a few other things for various projects, like cookie ingredients and chalk pastels.  If you don't have a certain item, you can always skip that one activity.  There are so many hands on and listening projects, it's totally OK if you can't get to some of them.  I based my decisions on the abilities, interest, and strengths of the punks.

Photocopy (or multiple prints) for use within a family is allowed under the copyright.  There are additional resource lists for books, audio books, videos/DVDs, and music broken down for each stop.  We borrowed several books and DVDs from our library.  The basically had *none* of the listed resources, but it wasn't difficult to find a few suitable biographies, fiction and non-fiction books, and we had an excuse to borrow the boys' favorite video on daVinci.  (They wrote reports about him last year.)


Color or black and white print options are available for binder covers.  I really like being able to choose line art, so I'm not printing color pictures on my black ink only printer.  I always think that looks pretty terrible.  One file I noticed was a bit odd.  Both the color prints and the black line art were on the same page.  I'd have preferred a couple sets of each were on separate pages.  So I didn't have to print two copies of the page. 

The giant zip file took just seconds to download.  The sheer number of files was intimidating for this Home School in the Woods newbie. I have to say, six weeks in, I still feel overwhelmed by it, but we keep plugging along.  There is so much great content, I definitely recommend that you go to the website and download the free sample lessons.  I especially think your family will enjoy these history studies if you are lapbookers, notebookers, or hands on explorers.  There is something to engage every kind of learner.


In the Renaissance & Reformation study your students will create a newspaper, take audio tours, dine out, make crafts, and more.  Don't forget your passport (which is included).  You'll be able to use that through all of your travels to different time periods, not just the Renaissance period.  So pack a bag, try out the sample lesson, and take a fun journey to your favorite historical place and time.


So far on our stops, we've heard two of the included audios, a day trip in Florence and a chat with Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel.  We all enjoyed them and the boys have voiced a desire to really go on these trips.  I'm most looking forward to the audios with Sir Francis Drake and Shakespeare.

The bulk of the printing seems to be done at the beginning, the very first stop.  I was put off by that just because of the sheer number of pages.  There are a lot of individual page files, which just felt more daunting.  There were instructions to print one page on the back of another, but because they were two separate PDFs, I needed to keep trying to orient the page back through the printer.  This is a newer printer to me, and this wasn't going well for me.  While I understand the size of the files was quite large (hence the zipping), and some pages were to be printed on card stock or various colored pages, I felt there was no reason some pages couldn't be combined to ease the printing burden.

When you first download and unzip the files (or start the CD), you would go into the START file and this opens on the internet, which I found confusing.  The "Start" file takes you to a website which was a more helpful list, but locked up my browser (not responding message) from about 30 seconds to several minutes each time I accessed it. The pages are all listed there in order of use, but when you click, it opens the file in the same tab, so when I click the back button, the browser locks up again.  I would *LOVE* a start PDF that listed each thing in order the way the web based START file does.  The travel planner sort of does that, but the file designation (ex. M-7-3 - which means Master file, stop 7, file 3, if I remember correctly) isn't listed there and all the components for that stop aren't listed (example the Guide Book text readings aren't included).  I'd rather have a straight forward document that just lays it all out for me.  I wish the Travel Itinerary PDF listed the file designation of each of the files I would need also.


With the 25 lessons (stops), we are averaging about one Stop each week.  It fitted us best to break it down over several days.  There was quite a bit to read from the Guide Book text, as well as the timeline, lapbook, postcards, and crafts to complete.  (Speaking of the postcards, which are blank on one side, I found some artwork that complemented the notes written on one side and the boys color the pictures and we glue them to the front of the cards.  I *know*, far too well, that if I asked them to draw a picture on the postcards, they would all be decorated with trains and Delorean time machines - though that would almost make sense.)


Stop 1 is mostly prep and I did that all myself.  I did read the text aloud to the boys and discuss some of the things we already knew about the era.  They were somewhat excited to learn some of the things we would be learning about were relevant to the Renn Faire.

I did not print out the Travel Itinerary pages or the Guide Book Text pages (BTW, the Guide Book Text pages are in a file simply titled text), therefore I didn't need a teacher binder.  It's all in the computer, so I didn't feel there was a need for one more binder.

I love, love, love the timeline.  I chose to create it in accordion fold.  Next time I make a timeline, I will print the images on sticker paper and just cut them out and adhere that way.  Right now, they're on card stock, which I did accidentally while printing something else.  Aaaanyway,  I'm using a piece of packing tape to adhere them after the boys color them.  I do *not* want those puppies falling apart after we put all the work into them!


Whew!  As you can see, I have mixed feelings about a few of the aspects of HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance & Reformation.  I want to be clear that I am not technologically inclined, which may be part of my issue.  I just didn't get "intuitive" out of a good chunk of the tech aspects of opening which files and following the flow of the work.  On the other hand, I did see incredible value in the projects, audios, and text.  There is a ton of information packed into this study and we're enjoying what we are doing.  Xav often asks if we are going to "do that history thing" for the Crew today.  No one whines when we work on it.  Those aspects make it worth it to me to spend a little time figuring it out.

Available as a download or CD, Home School in the Woods also has Passport studies for Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, and the newest title, Ancient Greece, with Ancient Rome to follow next year.

Find Home School in the Woods on social media.
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The Crew has a lot to say about each of the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studies.  Click below to read more reviews and learn about the other studies.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

Crew Disclaimer


Feb 17, 2017

E is for Enemy.


Notice I didn't title this "The Enemy."  Certainly, as Christians we have *the* enemy, but there are other kinds of enemies.

  • Satan - the enemy of all of God's people. 
  • Military enemies - A country or people who are against "us" as a nation or people.
  • Frenemies - People who pretend to our faces to be our friend, but in reality are against us.
  • Enemies who are against us because one might believe differently than they.

Webster's 1828 says this about enemies.
EN'EMY, noun [Latin inimicus.]
1. A foe; an adversary. A private enemy is one who hates another and wishes him injury, or attempts to do him injury to gratify his own malice or ill will. A public enemy or foe, is one who belongs to a nation or party, at war with another.
3. In theology, and by way of eminence, the enemy is the Devil; the archfiend.

It's interesting to know that frenemy is a very new *official* word.  There have been frenemies since the beginning of time.  One might even consider the serpent in the Garden of Eden to have been a frenemy.  Certainly, Delilah was no friend of Samson.  Job's "friends" weren't very friendly.  The saying, "with friends like these..." doesn't even need to be completed for you to know what I'm talking about.

In Luke 6, we're told "27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you."  Seriously?  That is whack.  But I've done it.  And I'll keep doing it.  It isn't easy, but I pray for the soul of an abuser.  I don't spend time with that person, but I continue to pray for them from time to time.  As I was typing this, I realized I actually found it easier to pray for the non-Christian who misused me terribly for many years than to pray for a couple of Christians (I can't even tell you how much I wanted to put quotes around Christian, but I realized I'm sometimes the kind of Christian who deserves quotation marks.  Funny how you have one idea when you plan a post and something completely different comes out of it.) who maybe offended me far less.



What a mess we are.

So keep loving people.  Try to not hurt people.  Pray for all people.


My other E posts:
Enthusiasm


Read more Blogging Through the Alphabet posts here.

A Net In Time Schooling

Feb 11, 2017

(Wondering About the) F is for the Fountain of Youth


While driving around the other night, we were discussing various explorers: Leif Erikson, Columbus, Sir Francis Drake, Amerigo Vespucci, and Ponce de León.  That led to the Fountain of Youth.

The Fountain of Youth or similar legends have been around for as long as the 5th century BC.  People believed that drinking from or bathing in the spring or fountain would bring long life.  You can visit The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park located in St. Augustine, Florida.


I had questions.

If one drinks from the fountain, how young does one become?

If you become a child, do you stay one forever?

Or do you just stop aging at the age you are?

How often do you need to drink from it?

If you stop drinking from it, would you start growing older at a regular rate from the age you became?

Or would you suddenly become the age you would have been (or dead)?

Can it be removed from the fountain and taken somewhere?

So much musing and no answers.  It's fun to consider the possibilities.



A Net In Time Schooling

Feb 8, 2017

D is for Dreams


Dreamsssszzzzzz.


And nightmares.

Some days, I allow the boys to watch some videos on youtube.  They were getting somewhat obsessed, especially with Thomas the Tank Engine "remakes" that people were posting.  I sometimes found the dialog a bit...  sassy, maybe, with jokes that weren't really inappropriate, so much as a bit rude.  It turns out that the videos weren't exactly remakes of favorite Thomas episodes, just grown men making their own very silly videos with Thomas toys.

I paid less and less attention to the videos the boys were watching, because let's face it, they aren't intended to appeal to adults.  Or were they?  At one point, there were a few inappropriate words smattered throughout the videos, so the boys watched them with the sound muted.  Sodor trains crashing are still funny as silent films.  Supposedly.

There's more to this story, but to keep it short, we found out the boys were sneaking the videos when no one knew they had them.  Devices were put away in the living room and boys were waiting until everyone else was in bed to sneak them to their rooms.  We found out, of course, and that's when we found out the shockingly inappropriate things that the boys had found in videos supposedly portraying Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends!

Every night, one of the boys has been praying that God would protect him from bad dreams.  And every day, he wants to watch the videos he has been banned from seeing.  (Obviously, he does not get to see them!)  These videos were actually inducing him to have nightmares.  I was reminded of the children's song Be Careful, Little Eyes.

Be careful little eyes what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.
For God is up above
And He's looking down with love,
So, be careful little eyes what you see.

There are more song verses about what we hear, do, say, and where we go.  God does care what we consume on this earth.  He doesn't wish to lose any of His children.  I think this is a perfect example of why we should protect ourselves from harmful media.  Until our children are able to protect themselves, we need to do that for them.  Even if that means they don't get to watch things they enjoy.



Hopkins Homeschool

D is also for Diligent.



Feb 7, 2017

Times Alive ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


I know math facts can be difficult for some children to memorize.  Many programs take it for granted that all children are able to handle this.  Some kiddos really struggle with multiplication facts.  Drilling flash cards are often promoted as the best way to memorize.  But there is a much more enjoyable way to learn multiplication.  Times Tables the Fun Way's online math course Times Alive uses songs and stories to teach multiplication to boys and girls of all ages and abilities.



My children really enjoyed using online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way!  The stories were memorable and even after finishing the program, they love going back and rewatching.  But, before I get into all of that, let me tell you about the Times Alive program.

Here's the list of the first eleven lessons.  Each is marked with the type of lesson it is; story, song, paint, quiz, or test.  As the child works through the lessons, they receive a circle in the first column that indicates if they viewed or completed the lessons.  This is Malachi's lesson list.  The songs annoyed Mal, but that's not necessarily program related.  He often has trouble listening to "kid sing," if that makes any sense. You can see from his first column that he eventually stopped listening to the songs.  They are only marked "viewed."  Even so, the stories held the attention of all three of the boys. 


Also on this control panel, you'll see the buttons that enable the student to navigate the program.
  • The Back button sends a student back one screen, 
  • The mute button which controls the sound, 
  • A button to pause the video, 
  • The quit button, which *must* be clicked when you finish your session to be sure it is saved.
  • The Student Progress Report (this screen is below),
  • A help button,
  • The lesson list button,
  • If you miss something or don't quite understand the lesson, click the do again button,
  • And lastly, the next button will advance you to the next screen.
This is also Malachi's Student Progress Report.  It's pretty similar to the previous screen, but also shows his quiz and test scores and times.  There's a handy scroll bar on the right to view all of the lessons.


The timed quizzes throughout let you know how your child is doing.  


To find your child's baseline just have them complete the first "Nuts and Bolts" test.  This test is comprised of 48 questions.  Once the student clicks on start, the timer begins.  When he is finished, he clicks the done button to display the number and percentage correct, along with the time it took to complete the test in minutes and seconds.  If you have a child who is not good at taking tests on the computer or you need something on paper to include in a portfolio, you can print a blank test.

At the end of all of the lessons is a second Nuts and Bolts test.  Compare this one to the quiz at the beginning to see the students' progress.  Mal didn't miss many questions the first time through, but you can see that his time was nearly slashed in half after going through the program just one time.


Merrick reminds me often that he can't wait to turn *16* so he can drive a *4x4*.  It's even sticking with him, and he just watches the stories once in a while with his brothers.


Once you access Times Alive, it remembers your students place in the lessons using cookies.  We didn't have any trouble with this, but it's important to know that if your cookies are set to be deleted regularly, all work is lost.  You must use the same computer *and* browser every time to save the work.  Now that Malachi has completed all 18 lessons, it doesn't matter on which computer he watches the stories.

I would love to see the program do the following:
  • Show which facts were missed when the student or parent views the test information.  The only time you can see that is immediately after the test is completed and the student clicks "Done."  Once the "Next" button is clicked, the answers the student gave are no longer accessible.
  • Possibly show which problems were harder to do than others.  (If the entire quiz took 4 minutes, but some problems took 5 seconds and others took 30 seconds, it would be helpful to know, even if the answer was correct.)
  • If you could use the program on multiple devices, that would be great though that's less important to me than seeing which facts gave the kids more trouble than others.


All in all, this is a fun and thorough math supplement for learning multiplication facts.  I really liked that all facts were covered.  0s, 1s, 2s, and 5s were lumped together, each in their own lesson, but those are easy once a child understands the concepts for each.

We received a three month subscription from City Creek, but Malachi had finished his first time through the program in about two weeks and Xav is on track to probably finish it within the week.  Even after they have finished the program, we can clear their scores and use it all again.  Practice, practice, practice.

More about them rewatching their favorite stories.  Malachi has three times given up his 20 minutes of youtube videos so he could just watch the stories again.  And that's since he completed the program.  Times Alive is really a good supplemental math program that I think would work with any child or adult struggling with their multiplication facts.

You can see samples of some stories and songs on Times Tables the Fun Way's youtube channel.


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Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}

Crew Disclaimer


Feb 3, 2017

C is also for Courage ~ Field Trip Friday


I already wrote my "C is for..." blog post this week, but I wanted to mention this great C word, too.

Courage

Webster's 1828 says this about courage. 
COURAGE, noun [Latin , the heart.] Bravery; intrepidity; that quality of mind which enables men to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits; valor; boldness; resolution.


This week, we had a nice field trip to the Police Department and Fire Department in a small city nearby.  We were unable to go in the "back" and check out all the behind the scenes  stuff at the PD because they had someone in the holding cell.  We did get a tour of the Fire Department and all the great trucks and the brand new, high tech police cruiser.

Several officers, including a young lady who is headed off to the academy this week, made time for us.  I thought it was interesting that two of the officers were or had been also fire fighters.





I try to get the punks to the fire hall at least once a year.  It's a good reminder to make sure your kids know what your fire exit strategy is, to see a firefighter in his gear and know he is a safe person to go with in a fire emergency.  I had never thought much about visiting the PD before.  I'm really glad we did.  These guys take their jobs seriously.  Serve and Protect.  Please support your local PD and FD.  I'm sure the officers there would be happy to talk to your family and show you around as well.