Weekly Wrap-Up . . . Education for MOM! :-)

So, I have been exploring this thing called Zentangle for a little while now. When I first discovered it online, and read all the stories of people it was really helping in areas of relaxation, anxiety, even physical issues like shaky hands due to Parkinsons and other things, I knew I had to try it. Besides, it’s really, really beautiful, and you don’t even have to be an artist or have an art background to do it! I had been trying to learn what I could, from books and the internet. One favorite site is Tanglepatterns, which has an index of many, many patterns, complete with step-outs to show how to draw them.

This past weekend, I went to my very first Zentangle class with two Certified Zentangle Teachers. It was AWESOME! We learned ten different tangle patterns, and used them to make two zentangle tiles.

Here’s my first one, using patterns crescent moon, hollibaugh, printemps, static, and tipple.
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During the second half of the class, we learned five more patterns, and made a tile using florz, hibred, ‘nzeppel, pokeroot and pokeleaf. Here is mine . . .
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In both sessions, we also learned about aura-ing on some patterns, and how to shade to give our tiles dimension.

One of our teachers, Dennie York, has posted all of the tiles the class made on her blog dentangles. Go give it a look, and check out the rest of her blog too, it’s just become one of my favorites! :-)

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Weekly Wrap Up . . . More Drama!

As I told you last time I did a wrap up, “Mr. Loquacious” has had a chronic nosebleed problem. Since the Sunday night when he blacked out at church, he’s had a number of new nose bleeds, and so this morning had an 8;00 appointment with the specialist. Well, he will next be having surgery to hopefully correct the problem. Of course, he is very unhappy about this. :-( Now, we wait for the surgery scheduler to call, and the earliest he can have it will probably be in May.

Other than that, this past week has been slow and easy with homeschooling. We did some science experiments from Supercharged Science, those who are in piano lessons did daily practice, and we’re working on a history curriculum that is an upcoming review. Plus, our homeschool co-op at church had the end of the year creativity fair Friday night, so the two youngest, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” participated in that while “The Batman” and “The Artist” were at a youth group activity that was a pirate theme murder mystery party. Pictures will be coming in a post very soon! :-)

Hope this week will be a bit simpler to deal with!

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Supercharged Science . . . A T.O.S. Review

My children and I were fortunate enough to review the e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science last year, so we were surprised and happy to be given this review again this year! :-)

Last year, I was so excited about this that I printed out the shopping list for the unit we wanted to work in, without paying attention to the teacher, Aurora Lipper (more about her later), so I would up purchasing supplies for EVERY SINGLE experiment, LOL!

Then, we went through a period of time with varied health problems and surgeries, and after the review period we never finished the unit. :-( When the boys found out we were doing it again, they BEGGED to do more of the experiments making crystals, and since we basically still had everything (although I did have to buy some sugar and some alum), that was what we did.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about Aurora Lipper, and Supercharged Science, though, before getting into what we did this time around. She attended Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering (with a minor in Mathematics and senior project in Rocket Science) in June 1996. Aurora also, while still in CA, continued her studies in a Master’s program with Edward Air Force Base, later becoming a student pilot, followed by receiving her private pilot license. Aurora Lipper, who is the online teacher at Supercharged Science, is a real rocket scientist, who has a gift for bringing her lessons to a level where even younger kids can understand them, along with no-nothing mom’s in the science department, like me. My kids are special needs kids, with various developmental disabilities, and they are very enthusiastic about this program.

As I told you above, at the request of my four boys, we chose to work more in the “Matter” unit, because they wanted to do more crystals. First, though, we re-watched the video on Unit 3: Matter (Getting Started)
. Then, it was onward and upward!

We did NOT actually begin with crystals, however. We started with an experiment called “The Breaking Point”, in which we learned about tension, compression and elasticity, using a pencil. We learned that wood (such as in a pencil) is very elastic and can bend. We also learned that eventually, there is a “breaking point”, and the pencil will snap. While we looked at the differences in the breaks in the pencil, Aurora explained about tension and compression.

Watching Aurora’s video . . .
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Here, we have the boys taking turns bending the pencil . . .
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2014-04-07 03.28.45
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And now, “The Batman”, finally breaking it in half!
2014-04-07 03.29.23
They really enjoyed this one. Being boys, they like it when they get to break stuff! :-)

So, now we were onto the one experiment that all four boys have been DYING to do, Rock Candy crystals. We made a supersaturated solid solution, just like we did when making laundry soap crystals in our previous review, except THIS one was made of water and sugar.

First, we watched Aurora teach us on the video . . .
2014-04-07 03.37.06

And then, we began making our solution.
2014-04-07 03.53.38

Here is “Mr. Loquacious” taking a turn at stirring . . .
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Next up, “The Puzzler” . . .
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Then “The Artist” took a spin . . .
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Followed by “The Batman”.
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After what was a LOT longer time than we expected from what was on the video, we FINALLY got the sugar dissolved! We then divided it into separate glasses, and added food coloring to each one.
2014-04-07 06.06.59

We seeded our skewers with sugar, and then put them into the glasses just the way we had been shown on the video . . .
2014-04-07 06.31.09

And left them to do their work. Sadly, we must have done SOMETHING wrong, because they’ve been sitting a while and there are no crystals yet forming on the skewers. We will try again, though! :-)

We WERE successful with another crystal experiment, this one involving cleaned out egg-shell halves, water, alum and food coloring.

Here are all of the supplies we used for egg-shell crystals . . .
2014-04-07 06.32.42

Here, the water and alum is being mixed to make another supersaturated solution.
2014-04-07 06.35.37

We set the egg shells, filled with the solution on a plate with an upside down bowl in the center, so they would stay put.
2014-04-07 06.45.01

We then left them to do their work, with me pretty much constantly telling my boys they didn’t need to check them every five minutes! :-)

Happily, we were successful this time, YAY!
2014-04-10 00.10.48

Aurora said in her video that we can keep making the supersaturated solution with the alum and water, and adding it to the same egg shells, which will eventually give us a simulated geode. My kids are wanting to do this, so we’ll see if there is a bulk food place here where I can buy a larger supply of alum without spending a fortune at the grocery store on it.

We received the K-12 plan for this review, however, you can either subscribe to that at a cost of $57.00 per month, or the K-8 level plan for $37.00 per month.

Do I believe it’s worth the cost? Yes, I do, especially as we would very likely stick with the K-8 plan. Do I feel it is truly affordable? Well, it really is not affordable for us, and I think many homeschoolers would feel the same, sadly. Most homeschoolers live on one income, and have to pinch the pennies very hard. As I said in my previous review, I’d love to see a substantial discount for paying a whole year at once, whenever the family can afford to sign up and do that (like at tax refund time, lol!), or even partial scholarships. Other than that, I can see nothing but positives regarding the e-Science Program from Supercharged Science. We LOVE it!

To follow Supercharged Science on social media, please check out the following:

https://www.facebook.com/superchargedsci

http://www.twitter.com/aurora_lipper

https://www.youtube.com/user/auroram42

https://plus.google.com/u/0/112193545312804826871/posts

http://www.superchargedscience.com/blog/

Other crew members also reviewed the e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science. Please click the graphic below to discover their views!
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Victus Study Skills System . . . A T.O.S. Review

We recently had the opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System, written by Susan B. Ison, founder of http://www.studyskillssystem.com. The author explains the Latin word victus means “a way of life,” and the goal of the system is to “equip the student for success in Academics and in life.”
We received the Teacher Edition (priced at $40.00) and the Student Workbook, (priced at $20.00)

Both are easy to read and follow, and the appendix comes with worksheets and tools to use throughout the course. This system can be taught to all ages, with more teacher involvement needed for younger students. It is most appropriate for students from 5th to 12th grade. The author gives a good description of the courses aims, goals and objectives. The author’s “Foundational Cornerstones” for the course ask three questions:

1) Where Am I Now?
Lesson One (Study Habits Checklist) is a self-assessment to help determine what the student is doing now. Lesson Two (Learning Strengths) helps assess how the student takes in information (through Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic means) and gives some useful tips on how to help your dominant learning strength or improve a weaker one.

2) Where Do I Want To Be?
Lesson 3 (Mission and Goal Setting) first asks the student to visualize where they were 5 years ago, where they are now, and where they would like to be five and ten years from now. This helps the student visualize long term goals for themselves. They are also introduced to the “SMART” method of goal-setting; the objective must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. The lesson ends with an introduction to a system to help them set priorities for long-term goals.

3) How Do I Get There?
Lessons 4 through 10 get into the specific details and exercises to help the student develop good study habits through Time Management, Organization and Study Environment, a study process with the mnemonic “PQRST” (more on this later), Listening, Note Taking, Test Taking, and a final review.

This is the type of course my husband says he would have loved to have when he was back in school. He says he was a “brainiac” who never had to study that much in high school. When college rolled around, however, he struggled until he learned how to study.

If you run a structured home school and you have a student (or students) struggling with some course materials, then this course might be a welcome addition. In our loosely run, lightly scheduled, eclectic situation, however, we did have some challenges.

My husband has had experience with courses like this in the past through his workplace, so I asked him to take the lead on it. We chose “The Artist” to work with, as we were hoping to help him with his habit of flitting about from project to project and help him prioritize things.

They did quite well with Lessons One through Three. They determined how The Artist best takes in information (Visually, with Auditory and Kinesthetic in a virtual tie for second place), and we are using some of the tips to help the weaker aspects.

2014-04-05 06.20.52

Lessons Four through Ten, however, were a bit difficult. For example, the Time Management chapter was good for people still in “analog,” as my husband calls it. It gives tips like, “Write your schedule in pencil to allow for changes.” We’ve been using Google Calendar on “The Artist’s” tablet for several months now for scheduling daily chores, appointments, etc. with good results. Plus, he is already a good note taker, so he didn’t get a whole lot from the Note Taking lesson. We use a notepad application on his tablet so he can transcribe and organize notes from various study subjects into color-coded pages. We also do not use any kind of curriculum that has examinations, so he totally lost interest in the Test Taking lesson.

We were able to find some wheat among the chaff. Lesson 6, PQRST, outlines a great method of reading for better comprehension and learning. The mnemonic stands for:

Preview – get the high points
Question — to determine which facts to look for
Read – “action” reading, to find answers, note, highlight, etc.
State – read aloud what you’ve just read
Test – a daily review of what you read the previous day

“The Artist” finds learning by reading very easy (just like his father). But his father told him that, as he continues in his education to more advanced subjects, he will hit a brick wall at some point! He told “The Artist,” “There will be subjects that just do not jump off of the page and into your head; you will need to know how to pull that information out of the book by force! Better to learn those methods now instead of waiting until you really need them!” “The Artist” was not happy at first, because the PQRST method takes a little longer than just simply reading the page. But he has now incorporated it into his study routine, and we do believe it will serve him well when we start moving to some more complicated subjects down the road.

Now, to the bottom line:

At the beginning, we thought we would not get much from this course. We don’t test, so we have no way to measure whether or not the course is effective for us. And several of the lessons just simply did not apply to our circumstances. However, as mentioned above, this system was helpful in that “The Artist” HAS been able to incorporate some of the methods into his way of learning. While I personally would probably not spend $60.00 on the Victus Study Skills System, as written above, I can certainly see where it could be of immense help to a homeschool student in a structured program, or even a student in public or private school.

Check out Victus Study Skills System on the social media listed below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictusStudySkillsSystem
Twitter: @VictusStudy

To see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of the Victus Study Skills System, please click the graphic below:
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Weekly Wrap Up . . . Ending With Some Excitement!

Well, I had PLANNED to share a video with you this time, as the Sunshine Kids Choir at our church did their final special for the school year Sunday night, but in face, I can’t.

On Friday, after homeschool PE, my husband met up with us to get “Mr. Loquacious”, taking him to an appointment with an ear/nose/throat specialist. He’s had chronic, severe nosebleeds for some time, and had previously had chemical cauterization. What we THOUGHT was going to happen would be that the doctor would schedule him to have it done surgically, but instead, he did the chemical one again.

After that, we all met up again at church for Teen Comedy Night, a spaghetti supper/entertainment fundraiser for teen camp. I will share a couple of videos from the evening, but in a later post. They are taking forever to load to youtube!

Sunday morning, “Mr. Loquacious” had another big nosebleed, and since I’m in the choir, my husband had me take the others while he stayed home with our son, hoping he’d be better enough to go that night, which, he was.

Now here is why you aren’t seeing the video of the kids’ special . . . about half-way through, “Mr. Loquacious” quite literally passed out. Eyes rolled back, and he went backwards, hitting his head on the floor. I dropped my camera and took off to check on him, and by the time I got there, there were already some of the men helping him up. We ended up leaving shortly thereafter, just in case. My husband called a family member who happens to be an RN and a Paramedic, and he told us for sure what to watch for (concussion), not to give him food, not to give him the medication he takes to sleep. We stayed up so my husband could check him every couple of hours, in fact, my husband made me go to bed and he stayed up later to keep check.

“Mr. Loquacious” is just fine now, back to his normal self, but was very upset at having caused a disruption (even though told everyone understood), and leaving during the preaching (we’d JUST Friday had a lesson on manners and respect during church, lol!)

Here’s hoping this next week will be MUCH calmer! :-)

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Weekly Wrap – Up . . . A Bit Less Busy!

So, this week was more of a regular week, no special meetings at church, etc, which was good, because as I may have said in a previous post, I’ve been dealing with some health issues that we’re trying to get regulated.

The boys and I took it very easy this week, as far as school stuff, although I did ask for daily piano practice. “The Artist is up to 50 minutes per day, and next week he goes to 55, then one hour per day the following week. Our teacher says at his level, he should be doing at least an hour per day, 5 days a week. I am at 30 minutes, as is “The Batman”.

I will leave you with the following video of the song I sang at church Sunday night a week ago, which was written by a good friend back in MI . . .

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Spelling You See, A T.O.S. Review

Having been given the opportunity to review with my younger two boys (our twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”) an advance pdf copy of a very newly published program, Spelling You See, and knowing that it was coming from the publishers of Math-U-See, a program I have heard nothing but good about, I really wanted to give it a go with both boys.

They are both (finally) coming along nicely with their reading, especially given that when we adopted them four years ago at the age of 8, they couldn’t spell (or read!) much beyond their own names, but having seen phonics programs fail with them, I thought this just might be a good change.

I was given Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C) to use with my boys.

I will be completely honest here, and tell you that I was not SURE that this program would work, or even that they would like it at all. My father taught me to read before I ever began school, and he used phonics, even though I don’t believe he called it that, or even knew that was what it was. So, when I began homeschooling, I did what I call “school in a box”, from a big name company, with a very strong phonics spelling program. Guess what? It had worked for me, but not so much with my kiddos.

Before choosing the level I would want to review, I went to Spelling You See to check out their “Readiness Guides“. I did find that both boys easily read the material for Level C, but when asked to write the same material, missed quite a lot, therefore I chose Level C for them.

One of the BEST things about this program, one that means an awful lot to my boys, is that it is not set up by grade levels, rather by skill/developmental level. We have tried things in the past that were marked actual grade level, and they balked mightily about it, because before we adopted them, they were supposedly “in the 3rd grade at their public school”, and didn’t want books that said they were “in kindergarten or first grade”.

We have been really enjoying the way this program is set up, it is perfect for boys with very short attention spans (which I freely admit describes my boys, LOL!).

Here is how this program does NOT work . . . there are no spelling lists, no tests, etc. In Level C, for example, we begin with nursery rhymes, which I happen to think is great, as they are part of our heritage. By lesson 8, they will have moved on to short stories involving different animals.

Each week begins with learning which letter groups to look for to mark while “chunking”, which is what Spelling You See calls marking letters that come in small groups, such as special sounds made by vowels, or consonant blends. After practicing the “chunking” on that week’s nursery rhyme or story, the student then goes to the second page to do copy work, and doing the same exact chunking on their written work. The second day, the two workbook pages are a repeat of the first day. Then, we come to day three, which is in part a repeat of the first day, but the copy work is different in that a different portion of the rhyme or story is being copied each day. Day four, the student will read and chunk the passage, but then he or she will draw or write his or her own story. Spelling You See calls this “no rules” day. On the final day of the week, the rhyme or story is read, the chunking completed, and then your student(s) will write it while you dictate it. You are supposed to use a timer for ten minutes, and stop when it goes off, even if they haven’t finished writing. The goal is to be learning to spell, not to be fast ( I’ll admit, that one is tough for “Mr. Loquacious”, who always wants to “win”).

Here we are during the first week (the only time they didn’t balk at pictures), reading the passage while clapping each syllable . . .
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Here is “Mr. Loquacious, following the “chunking” instructions for the specific vowel sounds called for. That particular week, they were to mark them with the color yellow. Each different “chunking” group is coded with a different color.
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Here is “The Puzzler”, doing HIS chunking . . .
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This program is certainly living up to what I have always heard of the company that produced it. BOTH of my twins enjoy it, and have asked more than once if they can do more than one day at once. The only thing they didn’t care for (and really, the only one who cared was “Mr. Loquacious), was that on the copy work pages they are not given the three lines with the dotted line in the middle. In fact, a direct quote from him was “Mom, they forgot a line on the paper”, LOL!

By now, I’m sure you’d like me to let you know what you will receive (and what it will cost) should you choose to purchase this program . . .

Wild Tales Student Pack (2 student workbooks, covering 36 lessons between them, along with a pack of erasable colored pencils) – $30.00

Wild Tales Instructor’s Manual – $14.00

Do I feel this program is worth the cost? Yes, I do. My twins are seeing “patterns” in words, which I believe will aid in their improved spelling. American English is not the easiest language to learn how to spell, as we all know, and I think this is going to help them. Are we going to continue to use this, now that our review period is over? Yes, we are. As I said before, even my boys are happy with it, which I think is a GOOD thing!

Want to try before you buy? download a sample and check it out for yourself. :-)

To find out even more about Spelling You See, please check them out on the following social media:

Facebook

Twitter

To read what other Review Crew members thought of this and other levels of Spelling You See, please click on the graphic below!
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