Thursday, August 17, 2017

Balancing Out Of The Home Classes

This year I am homeschooling one middle school student and a high school student. Their out of the home classes are more than extracurricular. They are classes that support their future career hopes.

 My daughter (13) is a very serious dancer and wants a career in dance. She will be in junior company in one dance studio which is a semi-professional company for serious teens. She will be studying Ballet, Limon, Hip-Hop (1 semester), Modern, Choreography, Butoh and Partnering. She will be at this dance studio 8 hours a week (not including rehearsals for performances). Anne loves ballet foremost and doesn't get nearly enough at her Junior company studio, so last spring she started studying Cecchetti Ballet at a different dance studio. She loves it and is studying for the level 4 exam in the spring. She will be doing about 4 hours of ballet and pointe at the Cecchetti dance studio.  That puts her up to a minimum of 12 hours of dance a week. She is delighted. I am a bit apprehensive, and keep reminding her that she has a heavy academic schedule and that she must maintain at least a B average.She is young, driven, focused and excited. We shall see how it goes. 

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My son (15) decided to give up dance for now. This has been a major part of his life since he was about 7 years old. In recent years the pressure to dance to a particular standard really stressed him out. So, this year he is pursuing other interests. He will be taking one hour of guitar, two hours of art class, and two hours of Boffing (which will be part of his P.E. credit) each week. In addition, he will attend a two hour teen art lab once a month and a literature movie club once a month.  That will be a total of 5 hours a week some weeks and 7+ hours a week other weeks. We may add something else as time goes on. However, he needs to get used to his full high school academic schedule. He just completed 34 hours of volunteer work at the Nature Center that will count for his Career and Technology credit.

It is going to be a busy year!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 11, 2017

Curriculum Picks ~ 2017/2018 Semester One

We start school Monday! Wow! The summer was fast, but we are ready to get back to work. We actually did lots of recorded learning over the summer, so we are starting off strong in some subjects. That is a nice feeling. I am only showing what we plan to do for the first semester, because I will re-evaluate after 18 weeks. The courses will stay the same, but the materials may change for the spring semester.

What my crew is doing together ~

British Literature (10th grade Dean and 9th grade Anne) ~ Together they will be reading Macbeth, Great Expectations, Silas Marner, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and some other British poetry and short stories.

Biology (10th grade Dean and 9th grade Anne) ~ We are looking forward to using the Fascinating Biology online program, dissecting (fetal pig, sheep heart, large frog), conducting lots of experiments and extra reading from Biology Prentice Hall.

English 8th grade (Anne), English 9th grade (Dean) ~ This course was started last year and will be completed this year. We will complete Cover Story and attend a monthly literature movie club with friends. First semester films will include Call of the Wild, Johnny Tremain, October Sky, The Miracle Worker, and To Kill a Mockingbird. In addition, Anne will also be completing several grammar workbooks.

Dean's Curriculum Picks ~ 

Math I (9th grade) ~ Textbooks that Dean will be using include Life of Fred Fractions, Zillions of Practice Problems FractionsLife of Fred Decimals, Zillions of Practice Problems Decimals. He will also be doing one math project a month from Hands-On Math Projects.

Earth Science (9th grade) (1/4 done) ~ His textbook will be The Book of Trees, in addition to a whole host of earth science articles I have collected. We will also go on several field trips (including a visit to a fossil dig).

U.S. History (9th grade) (1/4 done) ~ Dean's textbook will be The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Great Republic.

Career and Technology Course (10th grade) (1/4 done) ~ This summer (finishes next week), Dean has earned 34 hours of volunteer work at our local nature center as a Junior Naturalist. This semester he will be reading selected chapters from Succeeding in the World of Work.

Physical Education (9th grade) (1/4 done) ~ Dean decided to give up dance classes, at least for now. He is tired of all of the drama and struggle to be good enough. He will be working on a physical therapy program at home to increase flexibility in his hamstrings, lower back and shoulders. He will also be working on his core strength, as was advised by his recent physical therapy evaluation. Lastly, he will be attending a Wandering Swordsmen class for two hours each week in which he will learn techniques in boffing and participate in controlled skirmishes.

String Instruments (9th grade) (2/3 done) ~ Dean will continue lessons with guitar teacher and practice at home. He will also increase his repertoire of songs on the ukulele.

Visual Arts II (10th grade) ~ His lessons will be taught by Miss Laura 2 hours a week, and he will complete homework at home.

Anne's Curriculum Picks ~

Home Economics 8th grade ~ Anne will make five recipes each week, using the Everyday Cooking book. She will do the planning, shopping, budgeting and cooking of all recipes.

Math 8th grade ~ Anne will continue with No-Nonsense Algebra. She will also be listening to the Life of Fred books with her brother (but not doing the Zillions of Practice Problems book). She will also be doing one math project a month from Hands-on Math Projects.

World History 8th grade ~ This is a review year for Anne to make sure there are no gaps before going into high school. She will read and answer all questions in Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook. She will read and answer all questions. She will also be picking a topic of interest from the topics reviewed in the first semester to write a five page research paper.

Logic 8th grade ~ Anne will be using the following books: Unlocking Analogies, The Fallacy Detective, and Orbiting with Logic. She will also get credit for working through some Sherlock mysteries on her own.

English 8 ~ She will be studying along with her brother (see above).

Physical Education ~ Anne will be taking around 12 to 14 hours a week of dance classes this year. She is studying for the Cecchetti ballet exam (level 4) in the spring. She already has completed 14 weeks of dance (5 hours a week) over the summer. She will be studying ballet, pointe, hip hop, partnering, modern, limon and choreography. Her technical classes will count for physical education and extracurricular.

Performing Arts ~ The majority of her performing arts credit will be from dance classes that are working on shows, such as The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. She will perform in The Nutcracker in December. She will also be getting credit for songs she learns and memorizes on the piano.

It is going to be a busy year!! Here we go!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Math Essentials ~ No-Nonsense Algebra Reveiw

Math Essentials
Math is the most stressful subject in our household. I have one child who is good at math but hates it and another who struggles with math and feels very unsure about his abilities. When I was asked to review No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials, I was pleased, but my kids were devastated. They were ready for a break from math and were not at all happy about testing out this new product over the summer.
No-Nonsense Algebra

What is it?
This is a two part program. It is a workbook and textbook in one paperback and there is a code inside the book which gives you free access to online lessons. As the title of the program states, there are no distractions or nonsense in this program. Each lesson is broken into five parts. 
  • The online video ~ a short lesson that takes about 10 minutes to watch and helps the student work through the corresponding problems in the lesson he or she is working on.
  • Introduction ~ This is at the beginning of each lesson and is written directly to the student.
  • Examples ~ There are two to four examples with each lesson.
  • Exercises ~ There are 15 to 20 problems to work out in each lesson.
  • Review ~ There are a few problems to go over in order to review what you have learned at the end of each lesson. 
How we used it
I decided to use the program with my youngest who is entering 8th grade this fall. She is comfortable in math but doesn't care for it. She likes the workbook style and is always telling me to find curriculum that will get her through her school work in the most efficient way possible so that she can get back to her first love, DANCE. She has been working in a pre-algebra workbook for a few months prior to this program. We worked on the first section, Necessary Tools for Algebra, which is essentially pre-algebra. As it turned out, she decided that the course "wasn't so bad after all". She thought the videos were nicely presented and explained the material well. The problems are worked out on a whiteboard, while the teacher talks in the background. She also liked the workbook layout. She liked that there wasn't a lot of problems. She liked that this program promotes independence and that she did not need to wait for instructions from me to get her work done. She could even check her solutions in the back of the book (as long as she showed her work on paper for me).
I like this program for her as well. It is just the right fit for Anne. I do think it wouldn't work for my son, because he needs tons of repetition. There are only about 15 problems for each lesson. I realize that the concept is that, if you understand it, you only need to do it a few times. However, with a learning disabled person, repetition is the key to success. That said, I think this program is great for many neurotypical ("normal") kids. 
I also appreciate that the book is non-consumable, so it could be used for multiple children. The student does need to write the problems out on a separate sheet of paper. My daughter decided to finish the workbooks that she has been using for pre-algebra and then return to this program to complete pre-algebra for this coming school year. She really likes that it is very efficient. 
To see what more crew members had to say, click on the banner below.
No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews}
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dean's High School Transcript ~ Visual Arts I

Over the summer Dean finished his 9th grade Visual Arts I class, which he had been taking for several months. Dean's growth in art was remarkable this year. He took classes with Miss Laura, who is an accomplished artist in our area. She taught him a lot about shadowing, murals and portrait drawing. He had a very exciting opportunity to create a mural of his own that was accepted and placed outside a popular restaurant in our area. It will be posted for three months (July - September 2017). He used acrylics as his medium and used the grid method to move his drawing from a standard sheet of paper to the 4 foot by 8 foot wooden mural board.

Dean discovered his love of portraits this year. He much prefers drawing to painting and truly enjoyed drawing ears, eyes, hair and mouths. He spent hours perfecting each of these parts of the face and head.

He also explored creating figures of people. He placed them at different angles and worked on profiles and placed the figure in different positions. He also explored monsters.
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Dean learned about several artists under the tutelage of his grandmother, who is also a trained and accomplished artist. He studied Paul Klee, Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse, Shel Silverstein and Jackson Pollock. After an hour or more of an art history lesson on each artist, he then did an art project using each artist's technique and style.

He attended First Fridays Teen Workshop at Roots and Wings most months of the school year. In that setting, he enjoyed drawing while hanging out with friends, learned more about anime and explored other mediums, such as plastic and shrinky dinks.

Dean went on several field trips to galleries and museums. The most exciting trip was to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Dean was delighted to see his favorite painting by Monet, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies.

He also did a few cooperative art projects with his art mates in class with Miss Laura. One of his favorites was each of them separately drawing parts of a face, which created Harry Potter when all of the students put the pieces together.

It was a great course! Dean earned an A (95) for completing all assignments on time, doing all homework, full participation in all classes, completion and acceptance of a mural that was hung at Avenue M restaurant and impressive progress in drawing skills. 
Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In the Reign of Terror ~ Review

In the Reign of Terror

Heirloom Audio Productions is one of our favorite companies. We were beyond excited to receive for review their most recent audio CD, In the Reign of Terror.  This is a two CD set that has an audio time of two and one half hours. I love the motto of this company, "Building character in the next generation by bringing the lessons of history to life".  What a wonderful motto to teach by. This is a very exciting production about the Reign of Terror that took place during the French Revolution. The Reign of Terror lasted one year in which upwards of 30,000 noble men, women and children were killed in horrific ways, including the guillotine. 
Heirloom Audio Productions

This is an exciting story about a young Englishman named Harry who lives with a French noble family during the reign of terror. The family starts out leading the normal lives of the well-to-do. However, the story quickly turns very dangerous for the family as they face prison and potential death at the hands of angry mobs, for no better reason than being noble. Harry becomes loyal to the family and does everything in his power to keep them safe as they try to escape Paris. There are many harrowing twists and turns throughout the story that kept us on the edge of our seats. 

We listened to the story while traveling on our vacation. I must admit that the story was so engaging that it may not have been advisable for the driver to be listening, since the story was so compelling that it was distracting. I will say that this time period is horrific and it clearly came through in the story. I am not sure that it would be appropriate for the youngsters who might be frightened by the details and horrors portrayed so brilliantly by the actors. I know it gave me chills at times. I love the moral lessons that are portrayed in this story. Harry resists becoming violent against his attackers and instead uses his wits and intelligence to outsmart them. He also relies heavily on his faith in God and his belief that God would not want him to become a murderer. His selflessness is contagious and commendable. 

Besides the wonderful audio production, we were given access to a great unit study. It is filled with excellent discussion questions and lots of Expand Your Learning opportunities. We immediately searched for all of the recipes and decided which one we would make. We made brioche following one of the recipes in the study guide. My kids love to do cooking projects that are connected to their learning. Heirloom Audio Productions also has a Live the Adventure Clubwhich is an exciting new way to get involved with the stories. This audio and study guide gets a huge thumbs up from our family. We really enjoyed it. The acting is excellent, the story is engaging and the moral lessons are timeless.
To see what other members of the review crew had to say, click on the banner below.
In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Blessings, Dawn 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Week at the Beach and Questions!

We had a nice break away at Ocean City, Maryland, this past week. The weather was lovely and the kids and husband had a blast. I had a fine time, too, although I am really not a beach person. The sand is sticky and sticks to everything ~ lol. However, we had a nice get away and spent some quality time with my Dad and stepmother. We even got to see a few other family members over one big dinner.
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Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, outdoor, nature and water

The dancer had a blast trying out different poses with the ocean as her back drop. We also enjoyed miniature golf at night, going to an old time amusement park, riding on a speedboat and getting Henna tattoos that will wash off in a few weeks. 

May I ask all of you a question or two?

Our family is considering a move to another state. For multiple reasons, our current hometown in North Carolina is no longer a great fit. The cost of living is high here compared to the potential income growth, there is a lack of future jobs for our children (especially in their desired fields) so they will be forced to leave the area as adults, and, finally, we are just ready for a change. We have two challenges ~ finding a federal government job for dear husband and finding a homeschool-friendly state. We are finding that many states make it difficult to graduate from a homeschool and force homeschoolers to get a GED in order to go on to college or to get a job. I would love to hear from as many of you as possible in the comments. I should also add that we need an affordable place to live that still provides ample job opportunities for the future.

What state do you homeschool in and do you know any graduates? Did they get a GED plus a homeschool diploma?

Do the general public, school district or potential employers mistreat your homeschool students on a regular basis?

I would really love to hear any and all comments.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, July 24, 2017

Review ~ Quik-Sculpting Kit

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit
My children really enjoyed reviewing Rigid Wrap and Celluclay Quik-sculpting kit by ACTÍVA Products. The company also sent us a great ebook called ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS. The ebook comes with 12 great projects. The Quik-Sculpting kit comes with two rolls of Rigid Wrap and a nice size (8 oz) bag of celluclay. All we needed were some creative ideas and water. 
ACTÍVA Products

We are a family that really loves art. However, we sometimes shy away from messy projects because some of our family members have sensory issues. I thought this product was well worth trying out, even though it was likely to be messy on their hands. This product is so cool! It is a plaster covered gauze that is easy to use and very forgiving to new artists. My kids love trying out new mediums and this one did not disappoint. We made beads using the directions that were in the box and they came out great. My kids found the material easy to use. They liked that they could peel up the gauze in the first few minutes if they wanted to try to make it smoother. The below picture shows how much material remained after using for two projects.
After the beads, they moved on to making a Christmas tree. They used a cardboard frame and smoothed the gauze over it. Once again, it was easy to use. I was a bit skeptical how it would work around all of the sharp edges of the Christmas tree, but it smoothed over the edges with ease. The gauze dries within a few hours and my daughter was able to paint it the next morning. It was very easy to paint on with acrylic paints. One could even use the Celluclay to put over the rigid wrap and make it smoother if one wished. We were surprised how strong it was after it dried. The kids immediately thought of a pinata. They plan to make a small one very soon to celebrate the beginning of school. 
I was surprised how much rigid wrap came in the box and how much we were able to do with it. There was plenty for several small projects or one really large project, such as to make a volcano. This product is wonderful for art, but it also could be used for hands-on science and history projects. There are endless projects that could be created.
This product gets a thumbs-up from my family. Even though my students don't care for things that make their hands chalky or gooey, this produced such nice results that it was worth the effort. I like that the completed projects were so strong. To see what others had to say about the this craft product, click on the banner below.
Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {ACTÍVA Products Reviews}

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 21, 2017

Anne ~ End of Year Assessment

What a year of growth Anne (13) had. She is just shy of being 5' 4", which is the minimum height requirement for a ballerina. She hopes to squeeze out that last quarter of an inch this summer. She has also grown in maturity by leaps and bounds. She is blessed that puberty hasn't caused her any issues so far, and she is taking each new stage in stride. What a joy this child is! She is bright, beautiful, graceful, confident, compliant and kind.
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Anne is a self-confident and focused young lady. She knows what she wants and she works hard to achieve her goals. She is a dancer and her world revolves around dance. She loves ballet and pointe first and foremost, but she also enjoys hip hop, jazz, modern, tap and lyrical dance. This past year found her taking 10+ hours of dance lessons a week. Then she added on hours of practice, stretching and balancing exercises each week. She is a true athlete. Dance gives her endless joy. This summer she has started taking Cecchetti ballet lessons and loves them. She is studying for the level 4 exam to take place next spring. This fall she will be taking about 15 hours of dance lessons a week, divided between two dance studios. She also completed 40 hours of dance intensives over the last two weeks. She is a beautiful dancer and received the princess role in the spring production of The Little Mermaid this year.

Besides dance, Anne enjoys keeping her room and parts of our home organized. She loves things to be tidy and well organized. She has spent may hours helping keep our tiny eBay business going. Her packing skills are improving with each package. Ever since her toddler years, she has been a saver, who loves to organize and count her money. She can go many months without spending a dime. She voluntarily paid for the last two pairs of pointe shoes with her own earnings. Anne says it makes her feel good about herself to be able to pay for her own pointe shoes. I am proud of her work ethic and ability to prioritize and save. If she does spend money on fun, it is usually on a dance leotard, which she loves more than any other clothing. I think she has about 13 of them now. She has always loved to amass collections, which has worried me at times, but it seems to be more controlled as she matures. The days of her having more than 100 teddy bears or dolls seems to be waning.

Anne sees academics as important and a means to an end. She doesn't love learning for the sake of learning. She loves what being well educated can do for her future, so she works on her studies and suffers quietly through the lessons she doesn't care for. She wants her studies to be achieved in the most efficient way possible. She preferred workbooks, reading and short writing projects this year to more hands-on, large scale projects. She enjoyed lots of hands-on unit studies in her younger years, but now she believes it is time to focus on her life goals (which do not include history and science). She only took a short break from school and has already started working on her logic course for eighth grade.

I required Anne to learn a musical instrument this year. She decided on the piano. Anne has mixed feelings about the piano. She doesn't care much for formal lessons. However, she is more than happy to pick a popular song and find the music on the Internet with videos depicting finger positioning. She can read music slowly. She memorizes the pieces and then plays them. She is consistently using both hands.

Anne is a great helper around the house. She would love to increase her cooking and sewing skills. In her spare time, she likes to watch how-to shows on YouTube and often brings me a recipe she thinks we should try. She goes through passions and currently is into all things Harry Potter, so she has been searching our Harry Potter cookbook for fun ideas.

I do sometimes worry about Anne feeling pressured by being the only child in the family who doesn't have special needs. With questioning, she will admit that it is sometimes hard to be the "normal" one. She feels like she must always keep it together but admits that she has no interest in falling apart. It is just sometimes annoying making allowances for others' behaviors. In the final analysis, she realizes that she is afforded many opportunities and is treated fairly. She has never been a particularly nurturing child. However, I have seen lots of growth in this area recently. She loves her brothers and is learning to put their needs before hers at times, which will pay off dearly if she someday becomes a mother.

It is exciting to watch her grow into a lovely young woman.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review ~ Trust Fund

Trust Fund Movie

My daughter and I had a delightful time watching the movie Trust Fund by Mapelle  Films. We were excited to review this film that is a modern spin on the biblical story, the Prodigal Son. It did not disappoint at all. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations.

Mapelle Films
In this movie, the prodigal child is a daughter named Reese to a wealthy book-publishing family. She runs away with a man and makes multiple life-altering mistakes that lead to danger and the loss of a large sum of money. This movie had us on the edge of our seats within minutes. It was exciting and dealt with some really important issues. There is suspense and a touch of romance. However, the movie is clean and appropriate for all ages. 
When I was a teenager, I performed in a retelling of the prodigal son at church camp and was curious to see how well the filmmakers would stick to the original story. I really appreciated that this telling of the prodigal son stuck to the most important facts of the biblical story even though it was set in modern times with multiple twists. This is a Christian film, but there is little to no references to Christianity. If you did not know the story of the prodigal son, you wouldn't realize any of the references. Honestly, I prefer this style, where the story just unfolds naturally. 
I wasn't sure what quality to expect from this film, since it is the first production of Mapelle Films. May I just say, it was beautifully done. The acting was excellently executed and filming was expertly accomplished. The scenery was lovely. This film seemed equal to any large production film you could see in the theaters. We enjoyed it from start to finish, and I look forward to sharing it with my other children. I also appreciated that the mistakes Reese made were very obvious to my daughter, and she pointed them out along the way. This is a great film to encourage discussions with your teens. 
We did not have the opportunity to review the book that goes with this movie, but I hear it is excellent, too. You can learn more about the book, Love Was Near, at the website.
Love Was Near Book
To see what others had to say about this film, click on the banner below.
Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}
Blessings, Dawn