Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review ~ Math Mammoth

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth }

I have heard about Math Mammoth through the years but never used it. I was pleased to receive three downloadable workbooks from the Blue Series, which works on one specific topic for each workbook. We reviewed Data and Graphs, Statistics and Probability and The Four Operations (With a Touch of Algebra).
Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth }
I was a bit concerned that Anne had a gap in her education when it came to graphing, so I decided to have her do the Data and Graphs workbook. It is intended for grades 2 through 5 but served as a fine review for my 7th grader. Anne (12) is good at math but doubts herself a great deal and had just come through a difficult patch in her 7th grade curriculum. It was time for her to have a little break with some confidence building. She found that workbook enjoyable and liked the set up of the pages. "They (the pages) weren't too busy and the directions were well written," Anne told me. The book covered many different kinds of graphs, as well as average and mode. I felt that the workbook was complete and did an excellent job breaking down the steps. 

Dean (14) struggles with math. In fact, he really dislikes math. I decided that he needed a positive feeling in math more than to move forward at this time. He did The Four Operations (with a Touch of Algebra). He found the pages easier than expected and felt that the directions were clear. As he worked, I noticed that some of the math explanations seemed to be similar to Common Core in nature. I generally dislike Common Core and told Dean that he either could choose to do the math the way it was explained or the traditional way. He said he didn't mind the way they were asking him to do the problems.
We also looked over Statistics and Probability. It looked like a very consistent and complete program. I may have my daughter do it next. My son is going to move on to Pre-Algebra with Math Mammoth. This may seem surprising to those who know how opposed I am to Common Core Math. However, the way Math Mammoth uses Common Core standards makes sense to me, and I could easily understand their explanations. I didn't see any crazy problems like those circulating the Internet or that I have seen in other curricula. I also made it clear to my children that I would teach it a more traditional way if they became confused. To read more about Math Mammoth's beliefs go here.
So, overall, this program gets a thumbs up from our family. The kids really liked that each workbook concentrated on just one aspect of math. However, if you are looking for a complete curriculum, they have that on their website. I am also excited about their real life workbooks. They go from elementary arithmetic through calculus. What an exciting way to make math come to life! Check out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say. We all reviewed different workbooks.
Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Homeschooling the Middle Grades

If I was to come up with three words to describe my daughter and son this year it would be goofy, sleepy and driven (but driven only to do the things that they want to do). Given the choice, my son would do art and music all day long. My daughter would dance and do little tiny writing projects. They still are compliant and do what they must ~ but with a bluster of whining and pleading for the torture of school to end. I have wondered what is going wrong lately. Then it hit me -- they are young teens. My Mother reminded me the other day that the middle school years are the toughest to teach. The hormones are raging, they are growing like weeds and there is so much to figure out socially. Their minds just aren't on the Three R's right now. So what is a homeschool mom to do?
Should I throw in the towel and let them do what they want? That really isn't my style. I am not a true un-schooler at heart. I also really don't think it works for most special needs kids -- especially those that struggle with time management, self direction, and some academics. So, I am trying to meet them where they are, do more field trips, go at a slower pace (although the pace this year seems tediously slow to me), do lots of life skills and go heavy on their passions ~ art, dance and music. My mantra this year is make each day be filled with quality and all will work out.

Sewing lesson number two

This week did go better. I really concentrated on saying yes more to their desires. We went outside every day, struggled to get in bed at a decent hour and stopped everything else when we just needed to concentrate on emotions.

Dean had primary-colored fan blades in his Lego-themed childhood room. Here he is painting those blades a teenage black!
The highlight this week was a field trip to Thomas Wolfe's home and a field trip to explore graffiti art and street murals with their art teacher.
They watched their Cover Story lesson on the laptop.
The tour was interesting. Thomas Wolfe grew up in his mother's boarding house. It was amazing to imagine making meals twice a day for forty (or more!) boarders. After the tour, we enjoyed a picnic. We wrapped the day up with Cover Story in the park. Where better to write poetry than in nature?

They loved, LOVED their field trip with Miss Laura to look at graffiti and street murals.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, shoes and outdoor

Image may contain: 2 people, child, shoes and outdoor

Homeschooling is a journey and education looks different through the years. Are they learning? They are drinking in lots of knowledge every single minute. Sometimes I get worried about whatever subjects they are behind in, but then I remind myself of my mantra. Make each day be filled with quality and all will work out!

What we did accomplish this week ~
  • An awesome art field trip
  • Learned about shading and blending in art
  • Two lessons in Cover Story (English)
  • 14 Math Mammoth pages for Anne
  • 11 lessons in the Are You a Math Genius? book for Dean
  • Sewing for Anne
  • Painting bedroom fan blades and bedroom door for Dean
  • Tour of Thomas Wolfe's Home (U.S. History)
  • 13 hours of dance for Anne ~ She was picked to be the princess in the upcoming production of The Little Mermaid. Our dance studio follows the original story, not the Disney version.
  • Five hours of dance for Dean ~ He is working on choreographing a partnering piece with a young lady for the upcoming showcase. 
  • A geology lesson ~ intro to geology
  • CNN Student News daily
  • Anne completed copying The Declaration of Independence.
  • Four hours of drawing for Dean and the completion of two drawings
  • Robotics Club for Dean
  • A guitar lesson for Dean and hours of practice through the week
  • Dean filled out a long application to volunteer this summer.
  • Anne completed chapter one with notes of the book, Girls Gone Green (taking care of our environment).
  • Nine chapters from our family read aloud, Bessie's Pillow: A Young Immigrant's Journey
It is good.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review ~ History Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

We love Home School in the Woods products, so I jumped at the chance to review History Through the Ages Project Passport World History: Ancient Egypt. We received a digital copy that we could download and print off what we needed. This study did not disappoint. It is chock full of lapbook materials, hands-on projects, audio recordings and much more. We are enjoying it so much that we may order their newest Passport to History: Ancient Greece.
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study
My kids were quite familiar with Ancient Egyptian history, so I chose to do many of the hands-on projects and listen to the MP3 recordings with my teens. We chose to bypass the lapbook at this time, because we recently had studied this time in history. However, I looked over the lapbook materials and they are wonderful. We also found the timeline and timeline figures to be very useful. The timeline really helped everyone keep track of the events and important people of Ancient Egypt. The first project the kids did was create a shoe box diorama of an Egyptian temple. I simply printed out all of the materials, and they colored them in and assembled the walls and floors. There were many people and information blocks to choose from to add to the diorama. The picture below is of the project about two-thirds done. 
Next, we decided to try out some of the wonderful recipes that were provided with this unit study. My kids love to cook and there are 11 recipes to create. We chose to make a lovely Egyptian yogurt dip to eat with pita bread and stuffed dates. They were so good! We enjoyed a delicious lunch. We hope to try a few more recipes soon. 

The kids went on to make a cartouche, which is a name plate. They used the printable worksheet of hieroglyphs to write out their names on clay. The directions were easy to follow. 

Lastly, we did a quick study on artifacts from Ancient Egypt and then made several out of clay. The kids made an Eye of Horus, Ankh and a Nemset Vessel. We loved these simple hands-on projects that really reinforced our knowledge of Ancient Egypt. 
There are many more hands-on projects in this unit study. We could have dressed up like Egyptians, made a reed boat, made a chariot and so much more. We still plan on making a shaduf and studying how farmers used the Nile River to water their fields in the middle of a vast desert. We are also enjoying Tomb Dash, a folder board game. I printed it all out and assembled it on a normal folder. This is a wonderful way to review all that they learned.
This program gets a thumbs up from our family. I used it with two 13 year old students and one 14 year old. It was exciting and they learned lots of new things. They thought that the projects were mature enough and they liked the audio recordings. I feel that this program could easily be used for all grade levels in your home. That is a huge plus in my book. There is truly something for everyone. Whether you have a reader, a hands-on child, a budding cook, an auditory learner or one that loves to lapbook, it is all here and every individual's learning style can be nourished.
Check out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say.
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, February 18, 2017

For Today ...

For Today

Looking Outside My Window ... at today's sunrise. It is going to be another warm day. We are having such strange weather here in Western NC.
Image may contain: sky, tree, twilight, cloud, outdoor and nature

I Am Thinking ... How to help my son Dean. He has been struggling with depression for a few months now. He is in my heart and thoughts every second of the day. 

I Am Thankful for ... a comfortable bed.

One of My Favorite Things ... is taking power walks around the city while my kids are in dance classes.

I Am Creating ... as much laughter and peace in my home as I can during this challenging time.

I Am Wearing ... red and white pajamas.

I Am Reading ... Smart but Scattered Teens by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare.

I Am Watching ... The Crown, a series about Queen Elizabeth II on Netflix.

I Am Hoping ... that I will find a way to rejuvenate myself. I am feeling very much on empty these days. I also hope my husband gets the job he interviewed for this week. It is a job he has wanted for some time. 

In the Kitchen ... I hope to get a few meals made and put into the freezer to ease the week.

In the Schoolroom ... We are wrapping up a unit study on Ancient Egypt and just finished our semester of chemistry. Teaching teenagers is still fun with hands-on projects.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 10, 2017

Three Movies, a Mini Trip and a Play

A Trip ~ We had a very busy week. It started with a quick trip to Charlotte, NC. We needed a break. Our family has been stressed out lately and we needed a little bit of time away from the grind. Fortunately, my husband had worked overtime several times over the past month, so we had a little extra money. We decided to have a 24 hour break in Charlotte over the weekend. We picked a hotel with an indoor pool and away we went. The kids spent hours in the pool; I read two out-of-date Reader's Digest magazines; Dad got to watch cable TV; and most importantly, I DID NOT HAVE TO MAKE A SINGLE MEAL!
We ate delicious food!

We ventured out to visit the Carolinas Aviation Museum where we saw the actual plane that Captain Sullenberger ("Sully") landed on the Hudson River. We had watched the video of Miracle on the Hudson on New Year's Eve, so we really enjoyed seeing the airplane. It really was battered. 

We visited a large mall and did a little bit of clothes shopping and then visited Ikea. It was the kids first time ever at an Ikea store, and Dean, who is really interested in design, was in love with the entire store. He liked EVERYTHING! He was put in charge of finding a new clock for our family room and a new lamp for his desk. He had a blast!

A Play ~ We saw Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The performance only had three actors and left us rather confused. This was one of the few Shakespeare plays that I wasn't familiar with and I hadn't prepared them well. We ended up deciding that we were going to need to review the story line in a different way.

Three Movies ~ We decided to see Much Ado About Nothing in movie form and understood it better this time.

We also went out with our homeschool friend S to see Dr. Strange. I am not sure this could be considered educational in any way, but the kids enjoyed it immensely.

Lastly, Anne is working her way through The King and I for our February musical. She is watching one musical each month as part of her musical course.

Art ~ We also had a lovely morning of art with Grandma. We learned about Edvard Munch and The Scream. My mother always does a tremendous amount of research and gives a great presentation. The kids went on to make their own parody of The Scream.

We also accomplished much of the basics. It was an all around good week.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sometimes You NEED Ice Cream!

Watching my kids grow is an awesome experience. I love to see them spreading their little wings. One of the places I really am seeing growth in both of them is in writing. We really started concentrating more on writing about six months ago. Don't get me wrong, we had done writing for years, but last year I said we had to see an improvement and really made writing one of the main goals of this school year. We did lots of writing and rewriting for a few months. I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Then we decided to start Cover Story. I must say, I saw an improvement almost immediately. The kids just finished their first section of Cover Story, which was to write a review.

They were really struggling to figure out what they were going to review, so I suggested that they review ice cream from a local ice cream parlor. They were delighted and we packed out books up and headed out. I told them each to pick a flavor they had never had before. I suggested they eat it slowly and really look around the store environment. They then filled out their outlines in the ice cream parlor.

Once they were back home, they wrote their drafts, which Grandma edited. Later in the week, they wrote their final papers. Here is an excerpt from each of them:

When I arrived at the store, a combination of the comforting interior and pleasant smells filled me with delight. The building was glittering from the beautiful yellow morning sunlight reflecting off the brightly colored wall tiles placed randomly around the floor, walls and ceiling. I walked up to the counter to order my ice cream from a perky, smiling cashier. I ordered my ice cream only after gazing upon the delicious selection of creams below the sparkling, clear glass counter. A few of the flavors were “Champagne Sorbet”, “Grasshopper”, which was a combination of Oreo cookies and vanilla, and “Blood & Guts”, which was strawberry ice cream with bacon sprinkled into it. ~ Dean

The Hop is a bright, happy place where you can find yourself a whole bunch of unique ice cream flavors! The staff are very friendly and will let you sample the ice cream before you decide what you want. One of their most popular flavors is the “Urban Orchard Fruit Salad”. They sell this as an ice cream or a sorbet. I chose this as an ice cream. The flavor reminds me of tart apple cider. The ice cream was very creamy, smooth and delicious. You can choose to have your ice cream in a cup, sugar cone or even a waffle cone. If you bring your little pup, they even have ice cream specifically made for dogs. But the only flavor for your dogs is peanut butter made with Greek yogurt. ~ Anne

They both managed to come up with 300 words and were pleased with their work. That is a win-win in my book!

Blessings, Dawn