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Jul 24, 2016

Funny Find - Sign Edition 2

Another unusual Vermont road sign is this very unique "Don't Drink and Drive" sign.  Now, I know drinking and driving is a very serious issue.  I don't advocate for it at all.  But this sign is all over in Vermont.  I always translate it in my head to "Don't Hit Glass Bottles with Cars."

Jul 21, 2016

Recipe - Green Beans

I'd never heard of southern green beans, but I was surfing the web for a yummy green bean recipe when I came across this one on  Southern green beans also, apparently, are made with potatoes and BACON.  I can handle that!

Since the full, actual recipe is at the link above, I won't put it here.  I can tell you that I cooked the beans a bit longer.  Micah doesn't like them too crisp.  Also, I like very crisp bacon.  I didn't add it back in while things were cooking because I didn't want it to get soggy.  I cooked most everything else just like the recipe suggested and then added the bacon back in at the last minute.  I'm a little leery of vinegar for some reason.  I was never one to eat it on fries or potato chips.  However, it really gives this dish a nice flavor.

Southern Green Beans is a keeper, for sure.

Jul 13, 2016

ABeCeDarian Company TOS Review

ABeCeDarian Company starts teaching spelling and reading by introducing the phonemes, or sounds, of consonants and short vowels into easy to decode CVC words.  Lesson one jumps right in spelling (by reading the phonemes) mop, sat, and tap.  Students use word puzzles, such as unscrambling letters, to spell the words correctly.  They are taught how to break words into sounds and how to rebuild the individual sounds into words.  ABeCeDarian Interactive A Workbook is for beginners approximately 4-6 years old (K to mid-first grade).  Handwriting practice is integrated into each lesson.  The Teacher's Manual is available both as a printed book or a free digital download.

The workbook takes about two minutes to load on the laptop, and five minutes on the Kindle.  While it is loading, the first screen you see is just black.  There is nothing to show it is loading.  Just be patient.  It's referred to as an "app" but you use it in your browser.  It is an online workbook.  There are no sounds or flashing lights or music.  So don't expect many app-like features, which can be distracting for some students.  App instructions are separate from the Teacher's Manual download.  Read it carefully or you might miss important information about seeing the full pages.  Two features the Interactive A Workbook does have, are showing one line of words on a sheet at a time. By clicking on the words in the lower right corner, you toggle through each row of words on the "page."

Here you click the words in the lower right corner to rearrange the words on the screen.  Each click causes the three words being learned to slide across the screen, changing location.

"Handwriting" can be completed on the computer pages with a mouse, touch pad, or stylus, depending on which device you choose to use.  I ended up printing most of them, which kind of defeats the purpose of the interactive online workbook.

Printing with Kindle, paper, and the laptop.

Unscrambling letters, Merrick is learning which letters are vowels and for the time being, I'm guiding him to place vowels in the center spot on the screen as we're building CVC words.  After he makes the attempt to unscramble the words, I tell him what word we are trying to spell.  When he unscrambled pat to spell tap, I let him because, hello! he spelled a word and sounded it out!  Then we redid it to spell pat.  After he unscrambled the letters and moved them to the line near the bottom of the screen, we would "tap and say" each sound.  

Using "tap and say' to enlarge each tile as he practices its sound.
When he had no trouble or hesitation, we added a little action.  He holds his hands out in front of himself, then uses a clapping motion (the louder, the better) to imagine smacking the letters together to make the word, which he then reads in its entirety. 

Clapping /c/ /a/ /t/ into cat.

The TM contains guides for writing the letters, pronouncing the sounds used in the Interactive A Workbook, and correcting errors productively.  Each lesson is fully scripted.  Reading is taught as segmenting words and blending the sounds.

ABeCeDarian avoids non-reading busy work.  There are no pictures to match, nor circling objects.  It is 100% decoding and writing words.  Even "sight words" can be decoded and are taught that way.  You will be repeating lessons to fluency.  Which makes the reusable nature of the handwriting screens nice.

We are only on lesson five, but by the end of the Interactive A Workbook, students are decoding sentences like these.
  • I sat in the back of the van.
  • Mom went on a quick trip.
  • Tom kept a pen on his desk.

Merrick is four.  He would generally poop out after ten minutes, less if he was writing.  When he says he is done, we are done.  We'd do the fun online parts of the lesson one day and part of the writing another day.  The writing sheets (I'm printing most of them) are really helping him with his habit of starting letters at the bottom line and writing up.  There is a tiny circle at the starting point for each letter on each page.

On a side note, I saw this line in the TM and immediately thought, "Where is the /t/?"

I had to poll my FB friends to see how *they* pronounce catch.  What I said was, "My thing with the T, is that it is distinctly part of ket when I say it. It isn't smushed into the tch at the end which would sort of make it silent with a strong ch. Ket/ch not ke/tch."  The /e/ or /a/ folks were pretty evenly divided.  Also, the "/t/ or not to /t/" were similarly divided.  There may have been fewer no /t/ than yes /t/, but not by a huge margin.  We left many things unsettled that day.  The dictionary told us this.

I was disappointed.  I still say ket/ch.  You let me down, Dictionary.  You're never too old to learn something new!

What I didn't love.
  • You need two electronic devices open at a time, one for the Interactive A Workbook and one for the Teacher's Manual.
  • Completed sections are not tracked.  You need to watch where you left off so you don't end up repeating or skipping lessons.

What I really do like.
  • I like the systematic teaching of phonemes.
  • The writing pages can be used over and over, but for our purposes, I think I'd prefer the pre-printed workbook for regular use.
  • I like that the focus is teaching letter sounds, not letter names.  
I preferred the laptop computer over the Kindle.

Merrick already knew the letters names and the sounds, so it wasn't a problem, but the author recommends teaching the common sounds for each letter before their names.  Names don't help us to read and can actually hinder early reading attempts.
Not sure where to start?  You'll find a placement assessment on the website.

Find ABeCeDarian on Facebook.

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Jul 12, 2016

Funny Find - Sign Edition

Vermont boasts some odd signage.  I don't mean the kind people hand write with spelling and grammar errors, though we have those, too.  I mean official road signage.  This sign is near a very tiny bridge.  I'm guessing the point of it is a sort of "slow down or you will flip your car."  I tend to look at it and see "Don't stand on overturned vehicles." or "Don't play teeter totter on overturned cars."  Also, the people appear to be wearing graduation gowns and caps with tassels.  My guess is something tragic happened here and another one of Vermont's unfortunate signs were placed there, but I'm not exactly 100% sure with this one.

Jul 9, 2016

"The Best Fortnight Ever."

After two weeks of VBS, gymnastics, Tae Kwon Do, a couple of beach trips, and very little "school" I heard this from the backseat.

This was the best fortnight ever!


Jul 2, 2016

Farmer's Market Challenge

I've been regularly spending Saturday mornings at a town about half an hour away.  (I'll tell you more about that in another post.)  One morning, I noticed a farmer's market going up in the park and decided to take a stroll through it.  I saw a *lot* of crafts, some of which were interesting, but I also felt like they were out of place at, you know, a Farmer's market.  It is Vermont, after all.  Just how much marketing can farmers do in May/June?

The park is gorgeous this time of year.  Master Gardeners tend the plants in the flower beds near the fountain and on the back side of the park.  I've had the pleasure of chatting with two of them.  Xavier was even given a watering lesson by one woman and allowed to water the circular garden in the center of the park.

Anyway, I've quickly discovered a few favorite vendors and I visit them each week.  There is a man selling phenomenal sourdough bread.  He offers plain and "seeded" varieties.  I usually get one or two small loaves from him.  Xavier prefers plain, but the seeded bread has a "nutty" flavor that I really love.

Another one we are especially enjoying is a woman with a variety of Greek foods.  I get something new from her every week for Micah and I to share for our lunch.  I'm planning to keep that going as long as there is something new for us to try, then we'll have seconds of our favorites.  We've had moussaka and spanakopita, as well as two mystery foods I didn't quite catch the name of.  If you recognize the food on the right, please let me know!  Apparently, I also didn't take a picture of the triangles we had on week three.  Darn.  Guess I'll just have to get them again.

A woman there sells pastries of deliciousness.  They are downright decadent, so I've only purchased a small chocolate croissant from her twice.  I used to love chocolate croissants when I was in NY.  There was a divinely inspired bakery not far from my office, so it was always fun to get them there fresh.  Occasionally, I see them in the grocery store bakery here, but they just aren't the same.

I also picked up a jar of blueberry hot pepper jelly.  I'm not a big fan of really spicy food, but this was just a bit of fire in the sweetness of blueberry.  I really liked it.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?  Do you attend a Farmer's Market where you live?  Tell me some of your favorite purchases.  Try something new!  I challenge you to get something you've never had before, every single week.