Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TOS Review ~ Memoria Press Literature Guide Set


Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

My daughter and I have been enjoying the Fifth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press recently. This is a wonderful way to explore books like Heidi. The fifth grade set has three literature guides that help the young student become active readers with good comprehension. The three books for this grade level are HeidiLassie Come Home, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Each guide comes with a student study guide and a teacher's guide. Memoria Press has done a wonderful job selecting really worthwhile classics to read. I looked through all of the guides for the different grades and really liked all of the great classics listed.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

My daughter decided to explore Heidi first. She showed that she was capable of reading the book and answering the questions. However, her reading is very slow, so after she'd read a few chapters, the book became a family read aloud. Everyone loved the story and my daughter enjoyed building her confidence by answering the questions in the student study guide. The guide is set up in the same pattern for each chapter. There are reading notes, vocabulary, comprehension questions, quotations to identify from the reading, discussion questions and enrichment. I was especially excited about the enrichment section for each chapter. They had lots of hands-on ideas to help extend the lessons. Some of my daughter's favorites included tasting goat milk, looking up places on the world map, and going on a nature walk. They also had writing assignments in the enrichment section. She didn't mind the writing assignments either, since they were relatively short. 


Several times in the book there is a poetry link. On these pages, a poem is provided for the child to read with discussion questions that follow the poem. Then there is a blank lined page for the student to copy the poem. This is an excellent way to get in copywork. 
The teacher's guide is divided into three sections. The first section contains all of the student pages with the answers filled in. I really appreciated that the answer sheets matched word for word the student study guide, which makes it very easy for the teacher to grade. The second section contains the discussion questions key and the third section has quizzes and final tests. The quizzes can be printed out of the teacher's guide for classroom use.
Taking a quiz
For the purpose of this review, we only completed Heidi. However, since we had just completed The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe before this review began, we used some of the student study guide as a review. I used this with both of my children. Once again, I thought that much of the enrichment ideas were wonderful. There were several drawing assignments which my son enjoyed. My daughter, who is really into maps right now, liked the enrichment map assignments. We found the comprehension questions to be an excellent review. We are looking forward to reading Lassie Come-Home in the near future and using the study guides. These are wonderful, and we will be using more grade levels of Memoria Press Literature Guide Sets in the future. This is a perfect fit for our family, using the Charlotte Mason with classical influences learning style.

To see more wonderful reviews, click on the banner below.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TOS Review ~ Logic of English

Logic of English Review
My daughter and I have been working our way through Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English. I was excited to review this product because my daughter still struggles with spelling. Logic of English is a complete multi-level curriculum that covers reading, grammar, and vocabulary. It also has a strong spelling program. This program teaches the linguistic structure of English and is intended for ages 8 and up. It is also recommended for dyslexic children. Because this is a multi-level curriculum, a homeschool family can teach multiple children at the same time with the same lessons. I will explain below how this is possible. 
Logic of English Review
This is a very complete program. Below is a list of what comes in the complete set.
  • Essentials Teacher's Guide
  • Essentials Student workbook
  • Spelling Journal
  • Spelling Rule Flash Cards
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Morpheme Flash Cards
  • Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Grammar Flash Cards
  • Phonogram Game Tiles and Game Cards
  • Quick Reference Guides
The workbooks come in print or cursive. I received a workbook in print. There are also readers available to go with the complete sets. This is a scripted curriculum which means that the teacher must be involved with the student and read the provided script for maximum success. It is also important to follow the prescribed order of this curriculum. That said, I found it very important to take several hours to review all of the material and read all of the teaching tips. This is not a curriculum that you can unwrap and start with your kids instantly. You really need to understand the material first. There is so much rich advice in the Teacher's Guide. Logic of English is based off of Orton-Gillingham and has a very strong phonics approach. It teaches all of the spelling rules which helps the student learn 98% of the words in the English language. 

How we used this program ~

After I had a good understanding of how to teach this program, I had my daughter do the placement test that is provided. The placement test is quick and short. My daughter tested into level C for Spelling and Reading. Once I had her properly placed, it was easy to know where to begin with the lessons. 

We began with lesson one. Each lesson is labeled with content to be taught to all levels and then the lesson is divided by the level of the child/children being taught. For instance, my daughter tested into level C, so we did all of the lessons that are to be taught to all students and then continued the lesson with the material for level C students. Additionally, the same child could use this book for multiple years. If the child started in level A the first year, they could do level B the 2nd year and so on. There are three levels in this book. 

Each lesson is divided into five days and is intended to take about 30 to 45 minutes. The layout of each lesson is the same. Each lesson contains activities in dictation, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension. This program has a multi-sensory approach, so each daily lesson has the student hearing the lesson from the teacher, speaking parts of the lesson and writing part of the lesson. There is also lots of opportunity to read.
  • Day one ~ Essential concepts and phonograms are taught
  • Day two ~ Review of the day before, new teaching of spelling
  • Day three ~ Review, Words in Context - Grammar
  • Day four ~ Review, Vocabulary day
  • Day five ~ Review, Comprehension of the week
There are two volumes to Essentials. The first level covers the first 15 lessons and the second volume covers the rest. Each volume should take about a semester to complete. I found this program easy to use once I had down the way to present each lesson. Because it is scripted and filled with step-by-step instructions, the teacher needs only to present the material as it is offered. There is very little work to prepare each lesson. I would recommend having a white board or chalk board available for each lesson. 
Essential Readers ~ The Essential Readers are geared toward the older struggling reader. The Readers are phonetically controlled to each lesson so that kids are not reading words before they have learned the spelling rules. My daughter found the reading material to be of higher interest than a typical reader. It was obvious that the company considered it important that the student be interested in the reading material and therefore want to read more. There are stories about chocolate, bed racing, wombats, astronauts and much more. I would strongly recommend getting these Readers to accompany the Essentials program. My Essential Readers came in a file to my computer that I was able to print out just a few lessons at a time and add them to our binder. 
I think this is a very complete and carefully thought out program. I definitely recommend it. I do think it could be a bit overwhelming at first. However, it all comes together once you understand the routine. I did see an improvement in my daughter's spelling even from the short time we have used it thus far. 
To see other reviews, click on the banner below.

Logic of English Review
Blessings, Dawn

Monday, March 28, 2016

Quick Update and Happy Easter


We made it safely to Washington, D.C. I am happy to report that my Dad is doing better than expected. He is even sitting up in a chair and taking short walks with assistance. We will not know if the medications work for months. However, doctors now think he has a higher chance of survival than they predicted last week. We do not know whether he will be going to rehab or directly home yet. Please keep him in your prayers. He has a very long road ahead. A little compliment to my kids. They sat on the floor in a tiny corner of the hospital room for hours each day without complaint. They have been brave and well-mannered troopers. 


Dean making his funny spy face!

On one of our trips into the city to see my Dad, we decided to visit the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin. They are at their peak. We were crazy to think we would be able to park the car and see them. There were thousands of people down there. However, we spent an hour crawling past the trees in traffic and got some great views from the car. Anne and Dean tried to pose for a picture in front of the cherry blossoms from the car. It didn't work out that well!



Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Crazy Week and Getting Crazier!

This has been a turbulent week at best. My Dad had emergency surgery on his brain early this week. They removed an abscess the size of an apple from his brain. The cultures just came back and said that he has a fungus in his brain. It is very difficult to treat and he could use all the prayers he can get. Some of us are headed up to Washington, D.C. to be with him and see what help we can be. He is still in the Neurological  ICU.

To say the least, our school week has been limited. We did some of the basics and a few extras. Anne did her sign language presentation at co-op and they made it to all of their dance classes. We also had our annual Easter Egg Extravaganza with friends. The pictures from that fun event are below. There are still four eggs missing in our yard. I guess I hid them well this year.




This picture is just because....Boomer is so cute.

Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. I will try to update soon.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TOS Review of Fishflix.com

FishFlix.com Review
My children enjoyed viewing the motion picture, My Son My Savior from FishFlix.com, recently. My Son My Savior is produced by Corrina Crade and stars Bruce Marchiano as Jesus. It is a new spin on the life of Jesus. The film is depicted from the point of view of Jesus' Mother, Mary. Through her eyes the viewer has the opportunity to follow Jesus from his conception through his Resurrection. My Son My Savior is suggested as a platform to invite people to church and into the Christian faith. It can also be used as a quick review for children and adults who already know the story of Christ.
FishFlix.com Review
My children (12 and 13) are well versed in the Bible and the story of Jesus. We often watch a movie about Jesus close to Easter, so this year they were excited to have a new option for viewing. They liked that the film used live characters instead of being animated, but both felt that it was too short. It was only 55 minutes long. My children felt that many parts of Jesus' life were left out. However, they understood that the most important parts of the story were relayed through the movie, which may well be enough for a person who was not particularly familiar with his life. They appreciated the fresh perspective of Mary being the narrator. It was also interesting the way the movie helps the viewer's faith grow by watching Mary's faith grow and her understanding of her son's mission. My son, who is very particular about costume and set design, felt that the time period was accurately portrayed but some of the beards looked fake to him. Also, my daughter, who hates any level of violence, was disturbed by the portrayal of the killing of infants in Bethlehem per King Herod's decree. However, I would point out that most movies I have seen portrayed this massacre of innocent babies even more violently than this film did. 
I personally thought that this motion picture was well done, considering that it is a low budget production. I felt that the events presented were accurate to the Bible. The acting was pretty good. Furthermore, the scenery and costumes were accurate to the time period. I appreciated the movie being written from Mary's perspective. I agree with my children and wish that the producers had covered more of the events of Jesus' life. 
Is your family looking for a company that has previewed motion pictures to make sure they are Christian based? FishFlix.com is a website where you can purchase a large variety of Christian movies. The website is filled with classics and newly released Christian movies. All of the movies are sold at a nice discount. I was impressed with the large variety of films. The website has the films sorted into several different categories. A few examples are sport, church history, biographies, Catholic, children, documentaries, comedies, and Easter films. One category that amazed me was the international language category, which includes movies in German, Turkish, French, Spanish and Portuguese. They even have a category for bargain movies with some selling for as low as $5. FishFlix.com sells both DVD and Blu-Ray films. There are so many options to pick from that I am sure there is a film for everyone. 
Please go check out other reviews about this website by clicking the banner below.
FishFlix.com Review
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Are You Here, Spring?

It really feels like spring has arrived here in the mountains. However, we can't be sure of that since we do live in the mountains and it is only March. But we are enjoying the weather as long as it lasts. We pulled a million wild onions this week and started cleaning up all of the small branches that fell all over the yard this winter. I am already seeing bees and butterflies!

Anne pulled out her spring/summer clothes ~ Anne grew out of all of her shorts and most of her skorts since last year. Luckily, most of her t-shirts still fit. Her spring/summer budget this year was $75.00, so we set out for the consignment shop. We provide a sturdy pair of sandals, a pair of sneakers, three outfits, three pajama sets, dance clothes, undergarments and a bathing suit... it is up to her to buy the rest out of her budget. She spent $53.00 and got just about everything she needs. She has a bit left over for yard sales and one children's sale coming up in April. This is her second season working with a budget. I am pleased how quickly she learned to prioritize needs over desires. Anne was so delighted to find the dress which is an American Girl Doll dress. My girl has three passions ~ dance, American Girl Dolls and  photography.

A treat at the Woolworth counter ~ We often buy a drink on Wednesdays when we are out most of the day at homeschool co-op classes. Usually, we get a coffee for Dean to push him through the day. He really struggles with all of the sensory input that he must process on Wednesdays, and coffee has become his weekly treat. Typically, Anne just gets a juice box or hot chocolate. However, we were having Spring Fever this week, so Anne got an ice cream float at the Woolworth counter (the store is now a gallery featuring local art and a restored soda fountain). What a treat!

Hitting the books ~ We did lots of book work this week. We are wrapping up several reviews for late March and early April. We also finally started a unit study on Nellie Bly and journalism that I planned out last summer. I can't wait to share it with you all in a week or two. Dean received a new Tinker Crate and has started to explore it. There will be more to come next week on that. So here are the stats for this week:
  • Literature ~ 5 hours (both)
  • Language Arts ~ 4 hours (both)
  • Math ~ 4 hours (both)
  • History ~ 3 hours (both)
  • Fine Arts ~ 9 hours (Anne) and 5 hours (Dean) 
  • Home Economics ~ 4 hours (Anne) and 3 hours (Dean)
  • Physical Education ~ 4 hours (Dean) (Remember that Anne is done with P.E. and her dance hours now go in fine arts.)
  • Sign Language ~ 4 hours (Anne)
  • Science ~ 30 minutes (Anne) and 1.5 hours (Dean)


Shamrock shake recipe was in the American Girl Doll magazine and cakes frosted with our first attempts with fondant 
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, March 12, 2016

TOS Review ~ Demme Learning's Math-U-See

Demme Learning Math U See Review
I have had the pleasure of reviewing Demme Learning's Math-U-See for the last few weeks. Math-U-See is a multi-sensory program that covers all math from kindergarten through high school. 

We have been using the Epsilon level of Math-U-See's newly released digital packs. They also sent us the physical books for this level. The Epsilon level concentrates on fractions, which is where my children were struggling until this program. Both of my children had learned beyond fractions, even though fractions never seemed concrete in their minds. So when I was given the chance to review Math-U-See, I chose the fractions segment to give them a completely different approach. May I just insert a WOW here? My daughter, who has always been good at math but had lost her enjoyment of math this past year, once again loves math! She asks to do it first every single day. Math-U-See presents Fractions with visual explanations of equivalent fractions, common denominators, and fractions and numbers larger than one. These are illustrated using overlay manipulatives.
Demme Learning Math U See Review
Before I go any further, I should admit something. I had considered Math-U-See before but was never brave enough to try it. I was told by several other mothers that it was a totally different approach than traditional math and had a large learning curve for the parent. I was intimidated by that and steered away from it, feeling that I already had too much on my plate. I was wrong to have stayed away so long. This program is different than others, but it is very easy to learn how to teach it. Besides, the digital pack does a great deal of the teaching anyway. After the children watch the video, the parent is a facilitator, guiding the child in what they have already learned from the online video.
Demme Learning Math U See Review
The Digital Packs ~  For this review, I am going to concentrate on the digital packs. Each level of the digital packs can be purchased for a one year subscription. We found the digital packs very easy to use. It worked smoothly on our computer and Kindle. The kids really liked being able to take the Kindle to the comfy couch and watch the next video. They found having freedom to move around a delightful addition to their school day. The digital pack for each level includes all of the lessons, solutions to the problems, all the test solutions, online drill center, a worksheet generator, and a digital manipulatives app. You no longer have to get out your manipulative blocks, because they are right there on your device for your child to move around. In case you are not already familiar with Math-U-See, manipulatives are very important to this math program. You do need to still buy the physical student workbook and tests. My children were very happy to still be able to work the problems out on paper. 
The teacher on the video lessons is very clear and easy to understand. He works at a nice pace to help the students learn and you can always press the pause button if you need to review or think through what he is showing you. He carefully shows how to use the manipulatives, such as the fraction overlays, a concept new to my children. I also really appreciated the record sheet pdf. I am the type of person that really likes to check things off the list and keep things very organized.


We are sold on this math curriculum. It is wonderful and my kids are enjoying math once again. Additionally, I can see that fractions are finally becoming concrete for them. We will be continuing with this level through its completion and then continue learning more topics in math with Math-U-See. We are so pleased to be using this program. 
See what the other review crew members had to say by clicking the banner below.
Demme Learning's Math-U-See Review
Blessings, Dawn

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Field Trips Galore

We had a week filled with field trips. This is the closest we are getting to a Spring break this year, so I am glad we had so much fun during this week.

Monday was a normal school day.

Tuesday was International Pancake Day, and the IHOP was giving out short stacks for a donation to charity. We happily attended and had a delightful breakfast.

Wednesday we went to the symphony. It was a special school show and we loved it. You can read more about it here.

Thursday some friends asked us to go to the Biltmore Estate with them. They had extra tickets and gave them to us at no cost. We had all seen the house in the past, so we decided to skip the house this time, because the weather was marvelous and we all wanted to be outdoors. We visited one of the shopping areas and got ice cream, spent lots of time with the baby animals (the goats were three weeks old), and spent a good long time exploring the gardens and greenhouses.






A perfectly wide balance beam for cartwheels
Friday, we attended the Compassion Experience. If you have a chance to see this traveling exhibit, GO! It was wonderful. This is just the kind of event I like my First World kids to experience. What a contrast it was with their having gone to the Biltmore Estate just the day before. I won't kid you, this was a teary field trip, but it was executed in a very organized manner. You have the opportunity to go through three different children's lives to their adulthoods. We went through Kiwi's life (Philippines), Olive's life (Uganda), and Carlos' life (Guatemala). We walked into several rooms for each child. The rooms depicted important aspects of their lives, such as a realistic setting at home, school, and hospital. We listened to their stories on an electronic device, which gave us a tour and provided sounds that correlated with each setting, such as insect noises for an outdoor setting. Actual artifacts were in each room. To leave, we walked through a room with many photos of adorable children's faces along with their background stories. These children are from all over the world and one could be sponsored for $38 a month through Compassion International. We were not required to pick a child and there was no pressure to do so.



We did manage to get some school accomplished as well. The kids logged more hours in most subjects, as follows:
  • Literature ~ 3 hours ~ (both)
  • Math ~ 3 hours ~ (both)
  • Language Arts ~ 3 hours (Dean), 4 hours (Anne)
  • History ~ 5 hours ~ (both)
  • The Arts ~ 9 hours ~ (Anne) ~ 5 hours (Dean)
  • P.E. ~ 5 hours ~ (Dean) ~ Anne already completed P.E.
  • Science ~ 3 hours ~ (Anne) ~ 4.5 hours (Dean)
  • Sign Language ~ 2 Hours ~ (Anne)
Blessings, Dawn