Tag Archive Review

ByAngie

Review: ABeCeDarian Company

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For the last few weeks, our family has been reviewing the ABeCeDarian Company reading program. A carefully constructed reading curriculum created by Michael Bend, Ph.D, ABeCeDarian stands out amongst the rest in that it does not follow the normal format of other reading programs. (While I can not say much about other reading programs because this was the first one we used, I have looked at many of them and I can tell you that this one’s approach is definitely different. In fact, it was much different from the way I learned to read!) Gone are sight words and most phonics rules. In it’s place is sounding out letters to make words, using a multi-sensory approach by “touching” the letters, and learning all the sounds in each word instead of just memorizing it by appearance.

This program consists of 4 levels for children in Kindergarten through 6th grade. Level A is for children just starting out, struggling, or in Kindergarten through the middle of 1st grade. Level B is for children reading at the middle of 1st grade through 2nd grade range. Level C is for children reading at a 3rd grade and 4th grade range. Level D is for children reading at a 5th and 6th grade range. Before beginning, it is suggested that you use the placement test to know where to have your child begin.

Our family was given the Teacher Manuals for A-1, A-2, & B-1, the Student Workbooks for A-1, A-2, & B-1, the Set of 10 Storybooks, and ABeCeDarian Aesop. As Tommy just starting out with reading, we only used the following:

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Teacher Manual A-1 – $28.50

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Student Workbook A-1 – $12.25

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Set of 10 Storybooks – $21.50

IMG_20130409_155624_716Before I could begin planning walking Tommy through his lessons, there was a TON of reading ground to cover in the teacher’s manual. For most, it probably wouldn’t seem like a lot of reading. However, for me, it was during a time that we had a lot going on and I had to force myself to find time to do all the reading. That being said, if you diligently take the time to read and understand the teacher’s manual before you begin, you won’t have to spend a lot of time planning (hence my crossing it out at the beginning of this paragraph.) The first section of the teacher’s manual helped me understand more about learning to read than I ever knew before and how to help my son learn to read on his own. I learned how to teach using “Turtle Talk” (sounding out the letter sounds), “People Talk” (saying the word normally), “Tap and Say”, “Error Game”, word puzzles, and more. I actually felt well prepared to begin with Tommy on the first lesson even though we had never tried a formal reading plan before.

IMG_20130409_155737_435That being said… Remember how I said I had learned to read a different way? Yeah, old habits die hard. You know what else is hard? A tough as nails stubborn little 5 year old who wants you to take the easy way out and pretend he either 1: doesn’t know how to do this even though he’s constantly begging you to teach him how to read or 2: whine, distract, and just all around act out. We didn’t have this problem EVERY day, but the first few weeks were a bit brutal, if I’m to be honest. Does that have anything to do with the curriculum? No. I just believe in being transparent and want you to know that we, like every other family trying to teach their child to read, have had some struggles.

Now, once I got all those “old rules” out of my head, re-read some of the teacher’s manual, and I had a “come to Jesus” talk with Tommy, things got better. We went back to the beginning of the books and started fresh after taking a break for a few days. One thing that made each lesson significantly easier for me as I tried to keep Tommy’s attention was that it was basically scripted for me in the teacher’s manual. The point of the lesson and instruction is all in regular font. However, the part of each lesson that they would like you to say out loud to your child is in bold italics, making it easy for ME to keep my place and remember where I am as we move throughout the book.

IMG_20130409_160034_202I wish I had taken video the first time Tommy read a word on his own without error or correction. Why? Because he didn’t realize that he actually read it and it was HYSTERICAL! Once the realization hit him, he was jumping up and down, shaking, passing out high fives around the house, and begging to call his grandparents and tell them. Tommy was laughing, I was crying tears of joy & relief that this wasn’t going to be years of struggles, and the other 2 kids just looked at us like we were a bunch of nuts. After our struggle the first 2 weeks, I didn’t expect him to really get it as quickly as he did. I thought it would take a few lessons for him to be reading a word on his own, let alone 3 words by the end of that week and the next week 6 words. (Just a warning: If you happen to meet Tommy in person he is going to spell every word he knows for you now… Be prepared.)

Tommy is now following the flow of the curriculum (Like a GOOD boy… This whole not being in preschool anymore is a bit of an adjustment for him…) and learning a little more every day.

It is recommended that the lessons be taught once a day, 4-5 days a week. In A-1 there are 27 lessons divided into 5 units. This is the plan we are following, but like I said, we went back and started over at one point and if you have to also, that’s okay. What matters is that the lesson is done right, not fast. 😉

A few years ago when we first decided to homeschool, my pastor’s wife/co-pastor Sis. Pam Howard gave me some great advice. She had taught homeschool herself, so I listened closely. I can’t remember the exact words, but she basically told me that if I can teach my child to read, I’ve overcome the biggest fear and struggle as a homeschooling parent and that it would all be downhill from there. (If I got that wrong, please correct me, Sis. Howard!) Naturally, I agreed with her. Now, thanks to ABeCeDarian? Well… I’ll let you know when we get to Algebra. 😉

 

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Want to know what others thought of ABeCeDarian? Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

 

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ByAngie

Review: Chaos…Simplified The Womans {life} Planner

As promised a few days ago, I am bringing you some tips and ways that I have managed to “survive” the last year of extreme chaos in our lives. Unfortunately, our website has been acting a little finicky so that I haven’t been able to post ANYTHING the last few days. FINALLY today I’m able to get on here. What a relief! So without further ado, I am sharing the biggest help to my life recently.

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For the last few months, I have had the pleasure of looking over and using The Womans {life} Planner by Chaos… Simplified. The name of this product is truly a perfect fit for how it has affected my life! I could literally talk about what a wonderful tool this product is non-stop. Just ask my family that I’m spending the weekend with in Palm Springs right now on a Mother/Daughter retreat… They might have said, “Okay, we get it. Just order us some already…”

In my life I have used SO many planners and organizers. I’ve tried making my own to fit my life. I’ve spent big bucks on electronic gadgets and books. I’ve even tried the whole white board organization system. I am honest in admitting to anyone I have a real problem with time management, remembering tasks, and staying on top of general organization of what needs to be done when. Disarray, people. That is my life without some sort of system in place.

Chaos… Simplified, the brain child of Corri L. Bitner, has taken the chore of keeping it all together out of the equation. With The Womans {life} Planner, in one easy to carry binder that easily fits in a average sized purse, you have everything a busy Mom on the go might need. Actually, I need to clarify: Almost everything. As my Mom pointed out, it does not have a cup holder. Other than that, it’s all there.

The Womans {life} planner is technically two products in one. It begins with The Womans {week by week} Planner.

The Womans {week by week} Planner is a spiral bound week by week formatted calendar and organizer. When you first open it up, there are a few pages of scripture, encouragement, and suggestions from the author along with some snippets of articles that she feels are helpful. Reading these pages I found myself nodding my head in agreement and quickly circling and underlining every part that I particularly liked. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that I’ve changed my thoughts on being hospitable… This system has truly changed my life in ways I never imagined, and this area is one of them.

Chaos... SimplifiedIn addition, there are sections to jot down birthdays, a 5 year plan for events and goals, go to meals, cleaning agenda, (LOVE this!), holiday planning, wish list, budgeting, websites & passwords, important numbers, and addresses.

Each day of the weekly calendar is broken down into today’s top 3 priorities followed by an area to write down lists and plans for the day. THIS has been my saving grace! I can write the 3 things that MUST be done that day at the top where they are easily seen and not forgotten. There is also a little area for tracking how much water you are drinking every day, with 8 droplets of water at top under today’s priorities for you to check off as you drink throughout the day. Each week also has a section for things to do, phone calls to make, and notes. Again, all things that I needed to keep track of. Having it all in one place and at a glance has truly made my life much easier.

The Womans {life} Planner is the binder that holds it all. Containing 5 note pads, The Womans {week by week} Planner, and an area to attach a pen, everything is kept together so neatly that you can open it anywhere and quickly close it to take it with you on the go. The note pads are:

  • The art of juggling – This is probably my favorite of the note pads. It has grids for personal, household, financial, family, and work to do lists. I LOVE having it all right there to see all together.
  • Today’s most important tasks – A self-explained note pad to write down your list and tear it away.
  • My dreams & doodles – I use this note pad to write down all the things that I want to sew, make, and do.
  • What’s cookin’ baby? – A month at a glance menu plan. LOVE
  • Gotta pick it up – A shopping list that is large enough to contain a good sized amount of groceries.

I can’t say enough great things about this product. I went from being scattered and unable to keep everything contained to being able to control the chaos in my life more than I have in a long time. I never leave the house without it, always finding myself pulling it out to write down notes, reminders, and memories.

One other fun little thing about this system: The quotes and scriptures throughout The Womans {week by week} Planner. There have been a few times I was feeling down or stressed and the little reading on the page I was on gave me encouragement and a little pick me up.

I highly recommend this planner and organizer to anyone who has a tough time keeping it all together, especially new moms. Oh how I wish I had this when my babies were new to track feedings and diaper changes. It would have made life a whole lot easier, let me tell you!

Click here to visit Chaos…Simplified and order a planner of your own! The Womans {week by week} planner is regularly $19.95 and The Womans {life} planner is regularly $59.95. Both are on sale right now though! And for readers of Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven, Chaos…Simplified is offering FREE SHIPPING using the promo code: “freeship”!

Thank you, Chaos…Simplified! Thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU! Not only for allowing me to do this review, but also for literally simplifying the chaos in my life. I cannot stress how much this planner has positively changed my life.

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ByAngie

Review: TouchMath Kindergarten Curriculum

Until recently, we had not used a formal curriculum for math. Sure, we did math, but it was a compilation of basic skills, free worksheets that I had found online, games, flash cards, manipulatives, art, and workbooks that I had put together. So, when we were offered the chance to review the Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum from  TouchMath  right at the beginning of our Kindergarten year, (We began in January.) I was relieved. Not that I don’t know Kindergarten math, mind you, (Though some might say I don’t. 😉 ) I just felt it was time to begin using some “real” curricula and to be honest, when it came to math, I wasn’t sure where to turn.

I usually get excited for curriculum shopping. However, I wasn’t really liking what I saw in the math department. Up pops this opportunity, and what do you know? It was an answer to prayer.

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TouchMath uses a very tactile approach by utilizing TouchPoints. With this approach, every number has points. Each point has a value of one and is assigned a place on the number. When counting the numbers, the child touches the points and says them aloud, adding up the value of the numeral. The “year” is broken up into units (A-D) and then into 6 modules. The manual is probably the best one I’ve ever seen, actually walking you through each and every step of the worksheets/activities by telling you when to let the child work alone and when to guide them. Forms for monitoring progress or to take notes on what to go back and review more of are also included, along with detailed explanations of what your child should be doing and is expected to know before beginning the module and after.

If you have a child that needs to learn kinesthetically or has sensory issues, this might be something you really want to look into. Tommy has to literally exhaust every one of his 5 senses some days when it comes to math. (Okay, maybe not ALL of them. If I could have him eat the numbers to taste them, and it would work, I would. He’s just a typical 5 year old boy who doesn’t understand the point of all this number talk. On good days, he catches on almost too fast! Oh, I’m rambling… Sorry…)

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For our review, we were also given TouchShapes, TouchMath Tutor Software, and 3-D Numerals. These items are NOT required, and the curriculum standing alone is still good. However, I found that by combining all of these resources together with the core curriculum, that is based on common core state standards, Tommy was able to touch, say, and hear what he was learning.  Sometimes just moving a TouchShape to a different place on the worksheet or hearing the bear on the software explain a concept to him, he was able to grasp what he was trying to understand. The 3-D Numerals I would highly recommend should you choose to go with this program, though, as they are really what helped Tommy “get it” more than anything. (And while we were not given TouchMath to review for our preschool aged son, Johnny Ben, who is Autistic, I want to mention something: After watching his older brother do his lessons, Johnny Ben walked over to the table in the homeschool room and began touching the TouchPoints on the 3-D Numerals and saying the numbers. (He is mostly non-verbal.) Color me happy!)

The lessons are to last about 2 1/2 times your child’s age, so since Tommy just turned 5 this last week we focused on 10-12 minutes of lessons 4-5 days a week. Some days this meant we only got through 1 (a few times less) worksheet or activity. Other days it meant we did 3 worksheets or he flew through the lessons on the software. In the beginning this worried me, but after a few weeks I realized it was working out for him when he was counting to 100 at a family dinner with my parents and showing such confidence about it. At this point in time he is learning subtraction and is just going with the flow.

A quick example of Tommy using the software.

A quick example of Tommy using the software.

The TouchMath Kindergarten Homeschool curriculum is available as a download from TouchMath.com. Now, this is another really cool thing I like about this company. You don’t have to buy the entire year at once. If you want to, you can, but if you would like to you can buy only one unit at a time. The cost of each unit individually is $59.95, and if you purchase all 4 units at once the price is $199.95. The optional add-ons that our family was given to review were:

  • TouchShapes – $30.00
  • 3-D Numerals (That also comes with a fun CD-Rom loaded with worksheets. Tommy LOVED these worksheets!) – $79.00
  • TouchMath Tutor Kindergarten Software – $99.00
  • (There are also other items available for sale that supplement this curriculum on their website. These are just the items we were given to review.)

All in all, I give TouchMath a good rating. Teaching math to some kids is just flat out hard. Especially a child who could care less about it. It got my son’s attention and has him learning things he needs to know. A+!

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Want to know more? Feel free to click here to see other reviews, including those of families who were given different grade levels. Thanks for stopping by!

 

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ByAngie

Review: ARTistic Pursuits

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For a little over a month our family has been using ARTisitic Pursuits for our art curriculum. We were given Early Elementary K-3 Book One: Introduction to the Visual Arts to review for all of you fabulous readers out there. Today, I’m going to tell you all about it!

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TommyARTisticPursuitsThe intention of this lesson book is to teach children in a simple way the visual arts. Divided into 3 themed sections, What Artists Do, What Artists See, & Where We Find Art, children are introduced into actual classic art work and learn to pay attention to the details of how they were created and how to imagine what the artist may have been thinking or wanting you to see. In the process of learning these perspectives, they are taught how to do the same by using fun activities to create art of their own.

Looking over the curriculum initially, I was concerned. I wasn’t quite sure how Tommy would receive it. I mean, classic art and how to create it for Kindergarten? Cool, yes. But realistic?

However, once again, I ate crow. He took right to it!  The format of the lessons, meant to be done weekly, is to read together a little about some classic art, and then to create your own. While the reading segment is thorough, it’s not so much that it goes over my Kindergartener’s head. He was able to understand everything and learn exactly what the lesson was trying to convey. He has even asked to learn more about some of the artists and has done more lessons than expected because he wants to work on it during play time, not just during “school time.” Some lessons he has asked to repeat even. What mother would argue with that? I love that it has sparked his interest in art, and it’s really neat to see how he  uses his imagination to complete his work.

If you're following me on Instagram, then you understand this is a painting of my daughter Molly dressed as Yoda and Tommy dressed as Darth Vader. Funny kid.

If you’re following me on Instagram, then you understand this is a painting of my daughter Molly dressed as Yoda and Tommy dressed as Darth Vader. Funny kid.

So far he has used watercolor crayons, ebony pencils, and soft pastels. Because the manual has me teach him how to use the materials properly through word and picture, he has a good grasp on how to be an artist himself. The result is gained confidence in addition to knowing how to create art of his own. By reading about a piece of classic artwork before his own project, he is also learning about the artists, eras, and techniques used by different artists at the time the pieces were created.

In a nutshell, I am pleasantly surprised and adore this curriculum! My son has learned so much and has a desire to do art in a different way than he ever has before. His ambition to hear more about the artist and ask me questions to the point of my having to go to google to look up more information on them is really exciting. I love that he has been inspired.

The ARTistic Pursuits, Early Elementary K-3 Book One Introduction to the Visual Arts book is $47.95. It is a spiral bound book printed in, what in what my opinion is, high quality ink on heavier than normal paper. The pictures are very clear and detailed. You could never notice the details in the art that you see on page if were you just looking at them on the computer.

Here Tommy is looking out into our backyard for specific items on a list to draw with ebony pencil.

Here Tommy is looking out into our backyard for specific items on a list to draw with ebony pencil.

The list of needed materials isn’t too long. Each item is definitely needed for each lesson so you can’t really skimp in this area. All of the materials can be bought either in packages on the ARTistic Pursuits website or piece by piece as needed depending on your budget. Take note, some items will be difficult to find at your local craft stores. We were surprised when we could not find watercolor crayons at ANY of the craft stores in Southern California. Thankfully, we were able to find them on Amazon and had them in no time. Pay attention to the quality of items if you decide not to buy name brand. For a few of the items we were able to buy an off-brand, but for some I chose to use the more expensive choice for the sake of the lessons being done correctly. But once again, that’s just my opinion. 😉

Other books available in this series are:

 

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Would you like to see how this curriculum, along with other books in the series, worked for others? Click here or on the banner below to find more reviews by other members on the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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ByAngie

Review: Handwriting Without Tears Wet-Dry-Try App For Android

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Teaching my son to write has to have been the most challenging part of homeschooling thus far. In the beginning he had no interest, and later he lacked patience. Even using his finger to trace over letters on paper or in sand was a battle. I’m happy to say, this is no longer the case! All thanks to Handwriting Without Tears and their Wet-Dry-Try app for Android!

Handwriting Without Tears is a well known and respected company that offers a handwriting curriculum for grades PreK up to 5th grade for both homeschool and educators in brick and mortar schools. The format is full of fun, music, games, and many multi-sensory approaches to help make writing interesting and fun. One of the activities they have children do is use a slate chalkboard to write a letter or number, trace over it with a wet cloth, and then dry it with their finger. Recently they released an app that mimics these actions on a tablet (7 inches or larger) to learn how to write Capital letters and Numbers, and we were given the opportunity to review it. I really didn’t expect much of it, as I’ve tried different apps on our Android tablet to try and get Tommy’s attention in this area and they never worked. I must admit though, I was wrong. I eat crow. This app really does help!

HWOT Wet/Dry App Title page

When you first open the app, you’ll need to set up a profile for your child. This takes but a moment and is really simple. You may have up to 4 profiles. So if you have more than one child you’d like to be working on this app, then you will have no problem. There is the option to turn off the background music, voice instruction, and sound effects if those are the types of things that you’d like to not have on. (I personally kept the music on so that if I was doing something else I could hear if Tommy quit working.) You can set it to be challenging or easier and to be “unlocked” or to lock at certain levels. We had our’s set for Easier and Unlocked.

HWOT Wet/Dry Pick and Practice

Now that you’re all set up, you have the option to choose from “Pick and Practice” (seen above) or “HWT’s Winning Order” (seen below) to begin. I started Tommy out with HWT’s Winning Order since he’d really had trouble learning to write.  The lessons give little nicknames to moves and lines, and make use of a happy face to show you where the top left of the tablet should be. Before your child starts, the instructor writes the letter in chalk for your child. Then your child will “wet” the letter with a sponge. Once your child has completed the sponge task, they are asked to “dry” the letter. After the letter is dry, they are given the chance to write it themselves with chalk. If they make a mistake, it does have them start over on the exact task they are on, and after a few failed attempts will show them how to do it again. Once they have completed an entire “round”, they are given positive recognition and receive a star. Tommy loves seeing how many stars he can get.

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Well, let me tell you honestly. He was quite frustrated at times in the beginning. It’s a tablet, so sometimes if your touch isn’t just write, it will say your finger is not on the board when it is, or will get “caught” if your sensitivity isn’t set right in the settings. But once he got the hang of how to handle it and I had all the kinks with the settings on the tablet figured out, he took off. I had him use it every school day and sometimes on weekends for about 15-20 minutes at a time.  He would, as most any kid would, occasionally complain about having to sit and write numbers instead of doing some fun learning game. But other days he saw it as a game and tried to see how many stars he could get on each letter or number. After the first few days, I gave him free reign to decide what letters or numbers he was going to practice on… and this is where it gets amazing.

"Spiderman" using the app

“Spiderman” using the app

One day, during math, I put a worksheet in front of Tommy. He had been working on the tablet for about a week and a half at the time, and like I said, I really didn’t expect to much out of it. I didn’t expect him to try to trace the numbers on the math sheet. In fact, I was only going to have him count them out and color in the apples. Lo and behold, he asks “Mom, can I write the numbers?” to which I replied “Go for it” in shock. I’m not kidding, he picked up his pencil and traced every single number on that page with no issue… and CORRECTLY! Okay, yeah, there were some mistakes. But to have him do it at all, let alone without help and few errors, I was ecstatic. I exclaimed, “Thomas! That’s awesome! I’m so proud of you!” and quickly gave him a sticker and hung the sheet on the bulletin board. The next thing he said was very Smart Alec of him, but I probably deserved it: “I’ve been using my Wet-Dry-Try tablet, Mom. I know how to write now.” He might as well added a big “Duh!” at the end of his sentence, but the boy knows better. 😉

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Now, his writing is not perfect. Nor does he not need further instruction to help him learn to print correctly. However, he has overcome so much stress and anxiety by using the Wet-Dry-Try app. Writing comes much naturally to him now. I am more than pleased! We’ve also discovered by letting him have free reign on this app that he is ambidextrous. Who knew? (It’s really not too shocking, as I am, but still, I didn’t know before… So throw me a bone here. 😉 )

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The cost of the app is $4.99, about the same you would spend on a slate board and chalk.

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Would you like to see more reviews by others on not only the Wet-Dry-Try app, but also other Handwriting Without Tears products? Click here to find more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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ByAngie

Review: Flowering Baby

Do you have a young baby, toddler, or preschooler and want to begin working with them? Not necessarily “school”, per se, but educational activities that help them thrive and learn? Maybe you have older children, and the little ones want to have something of their own to do. Problem is, coming up with the curricula that would be flexible and beneficial with little stress would be a silly dream…  Well, maybe before, like when I started homeschooling a few years ago, but not now!

Let me introduce you to Flowering Baby, LLC, a curriculum company founded by a Mother and Daughter for ages birth through five that has taken the time to do the research, make the lessons fun, and package it all up so that all you have to do is run to the library and pick up a few books… Because most likely you have everything else on hand! Everything is in PDF format on a CD that will work on your computer regardless of it’s a Windows or Mac, and it is SO easy to follow. No having to read and re-read the instructions here!
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The sections are divided up first by years, and then by month. For Birth through Three, it is by age. For Three through Five, it is by calendar month. Also, years Three to Four and Four to Five have a monthly schedule that is accompanied by a list of themes from which you pick 2 for each month. See how little time you have to put into it? It’s already all put together for you!

To give you an idea of how the years are split up, I’ve listed their names with a link attached. If you click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of each page, you’ll be able to see a sample of that year. I’ve also included their prices below:

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For our family, we used year One to Two starting in the 19th month with my youngest child, Molly. I had intended to include my second to youngest, Johnny Ben, in this set also. He is 3 1/2 with developmental delays that we are in the process of having assessed and evaluated. While he participated to some degree, he really didn’t follow along, so I will only share how it worked with Molly.

Starting out was way too easy. The author lists a set of books (she states you may be flexible and choose a similar book if you don’t own the title or are unable to find it at a library), music, and supplies you will need for the month. For the first month we needed 3 books, a total of 6 supplies, and music by Tchaikovsky. The only supply I had to buy was some dry beans. I was able to use Pandora for the music, and we just so happened to already have the books. (I’m a book hoarder… Shhh…)

"Reading" one of our books that we read with the curriculum. Ignore the fact that the book is upside down, please.

“Reading” one of our books that we read with the curriculum. Ignore the fact that the book is upside down, please.

I never had a set time to complete our lessons. If a moment was available while doing school with my Kindergartener, Tommy, and Molly was interrupting then I would have Tommy work on something he could do solo and do Molly’s “school” with her. A few times we waited until after dinner to help wind down the night. A few mornings we did it right off the bat, and the rest of the times we did it right after lunch or nap. Naturally, there were some days that it just didn’t happen, but that’s okay. The curriculum is set up so that it is not done every single day of the month. So if we missed a day, we just picked up where we left off the day before. It is EXTREMELY flexible.

Most days the lessons were short and sweet, being completed in about 30 minutes. Reading a book or stating a poem/nursery rhyme and looking at pictures while listening to music. There were lessons that had us focus on speech by talking and saying words to each other. On some days, motor skills like walking on a curb or throwing a ball were covered. There were nights we all danced together. Every day is different from the day before or the day after, but kept simple and right on their level. I think Molly’s favorite was the day she was Mommy and I was the baby. Blame her? 😉 Tommy also enjoyed it, and invited himself to join in on just about every single lesson. Molly loved that, it made her feel like a “big kid.”

And yes, of course, there are a few messy lessons… I feel like I should include that note… Because if you’re like me, you hate messes and messy lessons. But you know what? I couldn’t resist. The activity sounded fun. And being that I was raised in one of those “no play-doh, no markers, and definitely no paint” homes, I decided I should give my children something I didn’t have. (Pardon the messy video editing, this was the first time I’ve ever done it!)

All in all, I have to say I LOVE Flowering Baby. Being so busy it takes out so much guess-work and makes teaching easy and learning fun. Besides, while I’m a homeschooling mom, I am in no way an expert on child development. Having a curriculum that was designed with whole child development in mind put me at ease to not feel at all like I was forgetting something that she needed. If you are looking for something for your littles, I would recommend Flowering Baby. (Sticky) hands down.

Interested in purchasing a copy of your own? Flowering Baby is offering a 10% discount to our readers when they use the  code “Blog10” when ordering.

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.

Would you like to see what others thought of Flowering Baby? Maybe see some reviews of the other years available? Head on over to SchoolhouseReviewCrew.com to find more!

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ByAngie

Review: Apologia Exploring Creation With Zoology 1: Flying Creatures Of The Fifth Day

Since we made the decision to homeschool a few years ago, the name “Apologia” has been everywhere. I still remember the first time I went to Apologia Educational Ministries website and the excitement that came over me. Biblical creation based science and perspective, weaved with scripture and hands on learning! My husband and I decided then that when our children were old enough, this would be the company we would turn to.

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Recently, we were blessed with the opportunity to review Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of The Fifth Day textbook & Junior Notebooking Journal from the Young Explorers series that Apologia offers for grades K-6. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I broke into laughter, screamed, jumped up and down, and did a little dance when I found out this was on it’s way to our home. Did I mention we had company over for dinner? Yeah. But I’m not only a nerdy book loving homeschool mom, I’m also a science geek. So it was like Christmas came early for this girl, and I felt the need to rejoice.

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Flying Creatures of The Fifth Day covers exactly just that. ALL flying creatures, not just birds. Bats, flying reptiles, Beetles, and insects are included here as well. Using a Charlotte Mason-esque approach of learning, the study covers 14 chapters beginning with a lesson in what Zoology is and all about classification. From there it dives right into birds and flows through the rest of the topics. Each chapter has key points such as Try This!, Mid-Lesson Break, Mid-Lesson Experiment, What Do You Remember?, and ends with a project. The pages are easy to read and have stunning photos. Also included in the textbook is a link and password for more information on the lessons available on Apologia’s website. (This is an awesome feature that I suggest no one who owns these books bypass.)

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The Junior Notebooking Journal (suggested for early elementary) is really a nice addition to have, but not necessary to complete the lessons in the textbook. For me, I’d rather have the Junior Notebooking Journal as it is well organized, takes a lot of guesswork out of things, and you’re not printing out a lot of pages for each lesson. For example, listed in Junior Notebooking Journal is a suggested lesson plan that would have you cover each lesson (chapter) over the course of 2 weeks by working on it 2 days each week. It also contains coloring sheets, copy work (both manuscript & cursive), scientific speculation sheets, mini lapbooks and other worksheets. All pages are in black and white and are easily understood as to how to use them.

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My husband and I fell in love with this curriculum. It relates everything the way we would teach it ourselves if we had the time to sit down and write it all out. And being that the style of teaching was mostly narration was a big plus since that’s what we love. However, we quickly realized that a big chunk of each lesson was a bit too much for a Kindergartener to grasp. Understanding that the Young Explorers series is meant to be for grades Kindergarten through 6th, we expected some things to be a bit difficult. Yet we found early on that it was going to be pretty challenging to really do each lesson without sometimes teaching half of it. None the less, we persevered and continued on. Tommy would color while I read the reading for the day. Some days it flew (no pun intended) right over his head, and others did not. Weeks later he’s still talking to anyone who will listen, including strangers, about lift and drag, extinction, habitats, etc. so he definitely absorbed quite a bit. For the worksheets he would dictate to me what to write if it was too much for his little hands to do. We quickly adapted 3-4 days a week instead of 2 and found it to be much easier. By taking more time to read ahead the night before, discussing the best ways to explain the lesson to his eager little mind, we were also given an advantage. Experiments? Well those were easy. He LOVED the experiments…

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We plan to continue on and finish the books with our little improvisations. We may take it even a bit more slower, though, and do some other science activities in between lessons. If in a few weeks it gets to be too much, then we’ll set it to the side and come back to it later. Right now it is working, though. And when he is older, if it makes sense at the time, we’ll come back and do it all again with the Notebooking Journal (not Junior, for older children. Not reviewed in this post.) and let him find the things he missed before.

If Biblical Creation based science is important to you and your kids love hands on learning, then I would say this is definitely recommended as something you should try. But if your early elementary child is not yet writing very well and unable to listen for more than a few minutes at a time, I would wait a year or so before beginning.

The price of each item is as follows. By clicking on the links, you will find full product descriptions, sample pages, and table of contents.

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 textbook: $39

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 Junior Notebooking Journal: $24

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 Notebooking Journal (Not reviewed in this post!): $24

Other items you will need are basic items such as paper, crayons, & pencils. But keep in mind, you will also need to buy various products for the science experiments. So, if you are budgeting your costs before you purchase, I would suggest to look up the lab list linked on the textbook webpage.

I truly hope that you have found this review helpful. If you’d like to read how other homeschoolers felt about these books and others in the Young Explorers series, then click on the banner below.

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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.

ByAngie

Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Sometimes, as a homeschooling Mom, you find yourself pulling your hair out. You either don’t know what to do next, or you need something to fill in the gap. Maybe you’ve hit a wall and don’t know exactly how to teach your child a subject that they want or need to learn. Then you sit and wonder, “Where do all these other homeschooling moms discover these awesome lesson plans and ideas?” This is followed by hours of trying to figure out where all of these fun new ways of teaching came from, and asking yourself where you can find inspiration.

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If you’ve just begun homeschooling or have been for while, chances are that you’ve heard of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. This is the magazine we all turn to monthly for ideas and encouragement. If you haven’t heard, they offer an amazing resource that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to review:  SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a one stop, everything included, subscription website that offers lessons, videos, ebooks, planners, checklists, and more. It can be used as a full curriculum, or as an added supplement. It covers all grades from Pre-K up to High School. This continually growing website quite possibly has content you have not even thought of including in your homeschool.

The cost is really a bargain, and there are a few subscription options. You can join monthly for $5.95 with the first month only costing $1. Or, you can sign up with a yearly subscription. Right now, I suggest taking advantage of the promotion they have going on: $49 for the full year that includes a handy tote bag, annual print book, and bonus gifts.

 

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For our family, even as young as my children are, I was amazed at what all SchoolhouseTeachers.com had to offer.

First of all, I love planners. I can never have enough of them. It seems I try a new one each year. My husband was extremely pleased to find out that included in our subscription, there are planners available for download. You know what that means… We don’t have to buy planners! There is a planner for Mom, Special Learners, Primary, Intermediate, and High School. What a stress saver!

We also utilized the monthly lap-book. It was fun, educational, and had content to be added each week. So fun!

There is daily work, monthly work, music lessons, foreign language, reading lists, hands on activities, and more. All lessons are written and/or given by well known homeschool teachers. It takes the guess work out of planning! To go one step further, there are daily checklists given at the beginning of the month so that you know what needs to be done each day to cover everything for each grade. How cool is that?

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My utmost favorite part of this site is the math section. It’s no secret; I am terrible at math. Dr. Peter Price has video instructions for the parent on how to teach mathematics to the student. He makes it simple for you to understand how to explain the concepts to your children in a way that they will remember what they’ve learned later on. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen my son so excited to sit and do math. We had not yet attempted to teach him addition, but with Dr. Peter Price’s “Count on 2” method, my son was doing it in no time!

We also really enjoy the daily copywork, weekly spelling lists, reading lists, hands on activities, and even the French lessons! Having The Old Schoolhouse Magazine archives available is certainly a bonus.

I honestly have nothing negative to say about SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I will say that it can take a bit of time to explore when you first begin your subscription. However, that’s a good thing. It really has THAT much to offer!

Our family will likely never go without it again. SchoolhouseTeachers.com has made homeschooling so much easier and has proven itself to be a truly invaluable resource.

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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ByAngie

Review: What’s In The Bible? With Buck Denver

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A few weeks ago our homeschool family was selected to review DVD 1 (In The Beginning) in the What’s In The Bible? With Buck Denver series.

I’ve been hearing about this new series from Veggietales creator Phil Vischer for about a year now. I’ve always been intrigued, but wondered… What could be so great about it? Was it really lined up with God’s Word? Would my kids even like it? Well let me tell you, I quickly found out the answer to these questions!

My kids ADORED the DVD. It was similar to Veggietales, but had it’s own unique attributes as well. First off, it’s not a cartoon but puppets. There is a lot more complexity to it than a simple story with a good moral. This series actually goes into the depth of the Bible, explaining & dissecting  the stories while not dwelling too long on them – which is perfect for a child’s attention span. Also included is church history, who wrote the Bible, the books of the Bible, why they are called “Testaments”, and much more. The DVD has catchy but educational little songs. All with a little humor here and there! Perfect for my kids!

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One thing that could bother some, is that the characters do stop to explain with Phil that some subjects are touchy between Christians and some people have different views. (For example: Was the earth created in a literal 6 days or was it 6,000 years.) For our family, that was fine as even my husband and I have different beliefs on some topics in the Bible. It gives our children an understanding as to why Mommy believes one way and Daddy believes wrong another way. 😉 Both my husband and I agreed that it was very in tune with what the Word of God has to say, though.

I was surprised that all of my children, from my 11 year old right down to my 1 year old, were able to sit down, watch this, and thoroughly enjoy it. My 11 & 9 year olds caught more of the humor than the others… or so we thought at first. Ever since, the 4 year old has been cracking jokes from the DVD that we didn’t even know he was paying attention to at the time! The baby loves to clap her hands to all of the music and finds all of the puppets interesting to watch.

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So, would I buy this series? Certainly! As a matter of fact, we’ve decided to slowly add the rest of the DVDs to our collection and to include them in our homeschool Bible curriculum. The DVD came with a digital download, making it easier for viewing as we use a digital media player also. There are added activities (coloring pages, study guides, crafts, & Bible flashcards) on the website to make teaching along with the series that much simpler.

Have you watched any episodes in the series? What did you think? If not, check out the video below and tell me your view points from that. (And if you’re a Disney geek like I am, look at all that cool stuff Phil has in his collection behind where he is sitting. Here’s one hint… HARVEY!) Enjoy!

I was selected for participation in this review and given the What’s in the bible DVD as a member of The Homeschool Lounge Review Team. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

ByAngie

Product Review & Giveaway: Hooray For Scentsy!!!

For years I’ve wanted a Scentsy warmer. And for years my husband insisted it was unnecessary. “Why do you need that when we have all these candles that are never used? And what about all of your plug-ins?”

Boring!

I admit it: I am an aroma junky. But candles? Well, with small children and not very many safe places up high they just aren’t practical. And plug-ins? They’re all too strong at first and then seem to fade out fast. Not to mention pricey and very limited as far as year around scents. Especially if the only way to afford them is to buy them in bulk at the big warehouse stores.

Yes, that would be me photo-bombing this adorable photo of Christine with our friend Jennifer the night we met. I want you to notice how skinny I was, lol, carry on.

Enter my friend, Christine. I met Christine one night back in January of 2006 at Disneyland with a group of mutual friends. About a year ago or so, she became a Scentsy consultant. When she began backing the product, I KNEW it was worthy of my busy time to look into. This girl is even more serious about her aroma obsession than I am!

Last month I decided to ask her about it. I told her my dilemma with my other options, my small house full of a lot of people, a baby on stinky formula with reflux, and the fact that the majority of my family is of the male gender. I needed a solution.

Being the great friend she is, Christine sent me a plug in warmer. I was instantly in love with this thing! It was much easier on the eyes than my previous solution. It was easy to use. And best of all? I could NO LONGER smell all that other stuff going on in the house at various times. Mmm, Midnight Fig…

My 3 year old loves Scentsy also. Just tonight, I was smelling the various samples she sent me for my basket party when he climbed up on the couch to see what Mommy was up to. I’ll let him tell you what he thought of Baked Apple Pie and Route 66…

However, I think the most amazing part was realizing my husband was turning the warmer on without my asking him. Yes, the same man who said it was unnecessary!

So what are you waiting for? Click here and go order and then go check out PinkChristine on Facebook! Christmas is sneaking up fast, and warmers make great gifts and decorations! The scent this month is Midnight Fig, which the Schott family LOVES!

Also, consider hosting a party. I usually shy away from these types of things, but I’ve LOVED doing this one and have had a lot of fun!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to do this review. If I did not believe in the product, I would say so… or just not post about it. But I love it, and just wanted to share it with you all… hence, hosting a giveaway and party myself. 😉

 

 

Here’s your chance to have a Scentsy Plugin of your own along with a bar of Midnight Fig, November’s scent of the month!!!

To enter the giveaway, comment below. Be sure to include your email address in your contact info! (RSHTH writers and immediate family are not eligible, sorry.)

Additional entries: (Comment below to tell us you entered! Please leave 1 comment per entry…)

Subscribe via email to Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

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“Like” Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven on Facebook

“Like” PinkChristine on Facebook

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Tweet about this giveaway!

That gives you 7 chances to win! Entry to this giveaway will close at midnight PDT on 11/13/11. Winner will be chosen via a random generator and contacted via email for mailing address. God bless!