Tag Archives: family

Digital Science Online: Visual Learning Systems (My Review)

My four boys and I have been having lots of fun using Visual Learning Systems as a group for a little over a month. We received a subscription to both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12)

The Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5), is divided into two sections. One is primary, which would be the grade K through 2 collection. This included well over 50 units of study, contained within the following subjects: physical, earth, life, and health. This is a great section if your children are in that age/grade range, there are tons of beautiful videos, animations, photos, and activity sheets, etc.

WE did not use this section, because my kids were beyond it, for the most part, but I really wanted you to know that it is there, and that it’s GOOD.

We HAVE been using the elementary a lot, because, frankly, I thought it was the best way for us to work as a group, something which many of my readers know that we enjoy doing. The elementary section of Digital Science Online has subjects like physical, earth, and life, with subtopics or units within them. As with the Primary section, there are lovely, well made videos, animations, photos, worksheets, and hands on activities in some areas. It’s meant for grades 3 through 5.

We have, for the most part, enjoyed this, except for having to crowd around one computer (something I will also address a little later). It was very impressive how, when we would choose a subject, there would then be a list of sub-topics within that subject, effectively giving us a unit study, already all organized for us! The reason I like this aspect so much is that all four of my boys really, really enjoy watching science and nature programs on television. The problem with that though, is it’s hard to put together a group of programs at the same time which would work together as a topical unit.

Eventually, though, with the exception of “The Puzzler”, the boys really wanted to have a go at the higher level, which I’ll talk about in a bit, because truthfully, I thought only “The Artist” would be able to handle the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

How wrong I was!

As I mentioned back at the beginning of this review, we were also given access to the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

The Secondary Edition has considerably more units of study, with a great number of sub-topics. My kids liked the longer videos, which, once again, I must complement. They are quite beautiful.

I have asked them to stay away from some sections of the biology units, after they pointed them out and said they didn’t think they should look at them. I was very proud of them for this actually, as it shows they have been listening to us and to their teachers at church when we discuss what is or is not appropriate for them.

There are also areas in which evolution is used as a given, where we believe, and teach, from a Creation world view. It was very interesting, however, to listen to everyone of our boys, at different times while watching different sections, saying things like “That’s not true, there’s no millions of years” or “Evolution isn’t real, we know that”. 🙂

The Secondary Edition also has worksheets and such, but these are really beyond any of my boys other than “The Artist”. I DO find that “The Batman” and “Mr. Loquacious” can do a lot of them orally, though.

AS I told you above, I really thought it would be better to use this program as a group, because as often as possible, I prefer it when we can do that. This DID work, for a while, but lo and behold, just today, they asked me two questions:

Will this work on our tablets?
Can we do it separately so we can choose our own topics?

Well, guess what, it works on the tablets! I hadn’t even tried, because I’m used to things like this being mostly for iPads, which we do not have. WE have Android Tablets. SO, I told them I would try it on mine first to check, and if so, we’d see if it would work on theirs. It did! 🙂 Since I had never actually set up separate student accounts because *I* wanted this to be a group learning thing I thought my kids would love to do this together, I chose to call customer support, given that I had forgotten how to set up separate log ins. Guess what found out? Well, while yes, I CAN do that, I don’t HAVE to! They can all log in using the information I used for the one log in, and they can all do it at the same time, on their own tablets or a computer. YAY! The customer service is wonderful. The first person I spoke with was named Louise, and the second was Emily, because they handle different aspects within the company.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to discover that this could be used on their tablets, all at the same time, and that they could be doing different subjects at the same time, as well, is that now, we don’t have to have a “discussion” about what we will learn about “today”. Being able to use the tablets in this way is a definite plus as well for the family who travels, because their children will be able to take this beautiful program along, and learn science their way. It would be great if you’re staying somewhere with provided wifi, and much better than spending all your in room time just watching television.

ALL in all, we really, really like this program. I even had one child come back inside from playing to ask if he could do some more science on his tablet! What better rating is there than that, right?

Want to see what my fellow Crew members think of Digital SCience Online? Just click on the banner right below!

Visual Learning Systems Review

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Filed under education, family, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Homeschooling Science, Kids, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post

Our Family Is Mostly Well Again . . .

And now, chaos reigns once more. Now that they can go out and play, I’m having to referee arguments over who has to get the basketball when it’s gone under a bush where there may or may not be bees (it was some flies), who may or may not play with “Mr. Loquacious’s” rubber band ball that he made, etc, etc . . . But still, I’m very glad they are finally better, which I think all of my fellow mama’s can understand!

Today, we ran some quick errands, including delivering a “thank you for visiting” gift to some new visitors who came to our church this past Sunday, and hitting Sam’s Club for a few things I had forgotten to buy last time. Like my husband’s Kcups for his coffee machine. discovered last night that he had only a couple of days worth remaining. Crisis averted! 🙂

We came home and learned some cool things we had not yet realized about an online program we’ve been using, something you’ll be seeing the review for very soon (like today or tomorrow!).

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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Weekly Wrap Up . . . Family Crusade Time!

This has been a VERY busy week, but a good one, as well. Our church held a Family crusade, beginning this past Sunday morning with OUR version of balloon Sunday. It was the last day of this year’s International balloon Fiesta, and on that morning, we release helium balloons with our names, and the plan of salvation on an attached card. It was quite windy, and I could not get a photo before they were too far away, sadly, but it was fun! 🙂

From Sunday evening through Thursday evening, we had the wonderful Ed Dunlop as our speaker, and dare I say, entertainer? Everyone, children, teens and adults alike all just loved his ventriloquism with his little buddy Andy, and loved watching the kids participate in different Bible games.

I tried to get a video during the last evening, but looking at it on the computer, I can see that I really messed it up . . . it’s sideways! So instead, let me share a photo of Bro. Ed, Andy, my boys, and several of their friends who were also still at the church after everyone else had left . . . 1016142044e One of my boys, “The Batman”, specifically asked if Andy could come out and be in the picture with them, lol!

My boys tried so hard to get visitors to come with them, but they were not successful. This is the first time we have lived where there were other kids right next door that they play with (since moving to NM), and they asked them every day, with no results. They were disappointed, but we explained to them that they did their job by asking, and that God knows this.

I think this was a WONDERFUL alternative to the traditional summer VBS. I liked it a lot better. VBS has always tended (in my opinion) to get kids so very revved up and make it hard for them to be self-controlled, especially kids like mine, with special needs, yet, I hate to deny them VBS. Therefore, I was so very happy that our church chose to do this instead this year. We had a great time! 🙂

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Weekly Wrap-Up

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Piano Recital!

So, a little over a week ago, “The Artist”, “The Batman” and I participated in our first piano recital since moving to New Mexico. It was held at Mesa Baptist Church, where we have been members since shortly after moving to this state.

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For having been out of lessons ever since we left Michigan, I really don’t think we did too badly!

Here is “The Batman” performing his piece . . .

Next up, we have “The Artist” . . .

And then finally, me!

Here are all of the students with our teacher, Mrs. Aubrey Grantham. She did a wonderful job getting us to this point, and I’m looking forward to learning much, much more from her!

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Weekly Wrap-Up . . . When I Actually Got Stuff Done!

So, this week was a LITTLE more productive . . . we managed to work on some educational review products nearly every day. I was also able to get “The Batman” and “The Artist” to get on their piano practice every day except for one.

Yesterday, I got up early and got a review completed (there will be a few more in upcoming weeks), worked on some review products with the boys, and prepared (mostly) supper. My husband came home and whipped up potatoes and corn, as I was very wiped out by then.

Today, I managed to get almost all of the laundry done, for the first time in weeks! 🙂

In preparation for our upcoming move, my husband and the boys did a bunch of yard work last Saturday, and will be doing more tomorrow, as we’re supposed to leave it looking good. While he and 2 of the boys do that, I’ll be taking the 2 older boys out shopping for clothing items they need for summer camp, which is fast approaching! I never thought the day would come when we would feel OK about them going, but I’ll tell you, they have such a wonderful youth pastor at our church, along with his wife. They are so great with all of the kids, and have really helped a lot with our boys, working to understand their limitations. His wife is also our piano teacher, and a very good one, too! We’ll be in our first recital since leaving MI this coming August. I’m hoping my husband will be able to record us so you all can see what we’re doing!

Well, that about wraps up our week!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Found Our House, and Father’s Day Fun!

I had mentioned to you before that we were looking for a nice rental home closer to our church . . . well, we found one!
our house

And boy, is it ever close to our church! We will be going from a drive that takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes down to a 2 minute drive! In fact, there is a balcony off the master bedroom, and we can see the steeple on top of our church! 🙂 We will be signing the lease this coming Monday, and taking possession at the beginning of July, which then will give us plenty of time to get everything moved, and still have time with our current rental empty for move out cleaning.

This morning, we went to a Father’s Day thing at a local Chik-fil-a, where they were doing games, fathers got to eat for free, and got to meet Preston Dennard.

From information given on Mr. Dennard’s website:

“For eight years Preston was a top-rated National Football League wide receiver. He has been featured in Sports Illustrated, Pro, and other numerous magazines. Preston has proven his athletic talents professionally as an outstanding veteran with the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills, and the Green Bay Packers. He was named Most Outstanding Receiver and twice nominated “N.F.L. Man of the Year.”

Mr. Dennard and our family have mutual friends who attend our church, a very nice couple who some time ago told him about our son “The Batman” and his obsession with sports cards. He was kind enough to send one for “The Batman” via our friends, but it was not JUST a plain card, oh no. It was autographed, and it was in a clear protective display case. “The Batman” sent him a thank you card. Today, when we met him, he remembered, because of that card, I think. Here is a photo of “The Batman” with Mr. Dennard.
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And here are all the boys with their dad, along with the Chik-fil-a cow.
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Everyone had a great time, and then I went on to get groceries, while the guys went with their dad for his hair cut, then out for lunch at DQ. Today was a pretty good day! 🙂

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Feeling Sad and Nostalgic Today . . .

Two years ago, I left my very best friend “Annie’s” house for the last time, because we were getting ready to move from Michigan to New Mexico, for my husband’s job. At the time, she and her children lived about two and a half hours west of us, having moved to be near her family about a year after the death of her husband. We had for years, spent our kids’ birthdays together, either at her house or at our house. It was the best thing, too, because she and her children love my kids, no matter what their differences and difficulties have been, and always treated them the same as any other kids, even though they aren’t. That has not always been the case in the lives of my children. Kids can be so mean, once they realize another kid is different, you know?

So anyway, we realized that there was no way we would be able to go there in June for the birthdays of her two oldest, which are two days apart, and since “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” share a birthday in May (being twins, you know), we decided to go and spend a few days at our friends’ home in May, and just do all four of the kids’ birthdays over a couple of days! Over the years, we were often able to visit for 3 or 4 days at a time because we both homeschool.

We did my boys birthdays on Tuesday, the 15th.

My friend is really awesome at making themed cakes. This is what she did for “Mr. Loquacious”, who really wanted a Lego themed party . . .
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For “The Puzzler”, who loves all things Thomas The Train, this is what she made . . .
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Here I am with the kids, waiting for the candles to be lit . . .
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And here is my dear friend, getting the candles ready for the birthday boys. The picture is a little blurry, though!
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My boys, very happy with their the cakes . . .
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Later, after presents, because we ALWAYS do “Pin the something on something”, I had ordered a pin the Lego shark in the water kit and a pin the smokestack onto Thomas set. Here are all the kids with the Lego mask blindfolds on, trying to hit the right spot.

“Mr. Loquacious”
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“The Puzzler”
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“The Batman”
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“The Artist”
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Next up, we have my Friend’s children . . .

“J. L.” . . .
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“L. E.”
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“L. A. ”
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Here’s how they all looked in the Thomas blindfolds . . .

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As always, I had ordered goodie boxes with themed favors, so each kid got a Thomas one and a Lego one!
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So, that was the party for my twins, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the 16th, we had a birthday for “J. L.”, and his sister “L. E.”, whose birthdays are two days apart. Their birthday was chocolate theme. You can’t go wrong there, right? 🙂
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Everyone loved their parties, and their presents!

Wednesday evening, we went to my friend’s church, Midland Baptist Church. While we were there, we got somebody to take one final picture of “Annie” and me.
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The next day, the 17th of May, 2012, we had to leave and go back to Port Huron, so I could get to work on packing and readying for our moving sale. I had done absolutely fine the whole time we were there, but when it was time to leave, the hardest thing was to not cry. And I didn’t, until we were out of sight of the house, then the sobbing started, so I pulled over and sat for about 30 minutes until I was OK to drive.

I miss my friend “Annie” so much. For years, we had been each other’s support system, we both have been raising challenging children, although the challenges were and are different. We always knew we could call on each other if we needed someone to keep our kids when we had to do something. In fact, she kept mine for 4 days when I went for my bariatric surgery in 2011.

We began as unlikely friends, who became very close. “Annie” has been my confidante, my Titus 2 woman in my life. I will always love her, and all of her children, so much, and will never stop missing them.

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Filed under Best Friends, Birthdays, Christian faith, Church, family, home education, homeschooling, Kids, Special Needs Children