Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up and Homeschool Review

Our true school year has ended but we do have some loose ends to tie up as well as review items that will be worked on throughout the summer. All classes have stopped until August. I am really looking at how much time out of the home we want to spend in the Fall. Grace has decided she wants to put forth the effort to do 9th grade instead of a gap year in between middle and high school. I still really don't look at us as grade levels but Grace being a teenager wants to continue up the ladder of grades and be in the same as some of her friends with not eventually graduating a year behind them. I understand where she is coming from and we will try it her way still in a relaxed, life schooling kind of way. She has already chosen to study ornithology next year for Science which is not a typical high school science. I am in the process of pre-reading books from the library about Birds and showing them to her to chose for next year. One of my favorites so far is Wesley the Owl. I am halfway through it and I am really liking it. It is about a young biologist that adopted a 4 day old barn owl. In a funny and engaging way you will learn about the life cycles of barn owls. I will be doing a more in depth post about the science curriculum soon.
Here are some of the things we worked on this week:

Geography - Iraq, Turkey
Herb Study - Plantain
English - Sentence Editing and More Roots Game(Greek and Latin Roots)
Bible - The Book of Matthew
Languages - Spanish
History - Ancient India
Exercise - Biking and Walking
Math - Multiplying Integers
Reading - D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths
Watching - CNN Student News, Gremlins

Review we are working on:

Memoria Press - Geography
Moving Beyond the Page - Language Arts and History
Teaching the Classics 

Tonight will be Grace's last performance of the year with Acts of Faith a traveling drama ministry group she has been a part of for the past two years. She has decided to take a break from the group for the upcoming 9th grade year. Tonight's performance is for our home school support group's graduation ceremony. One of the seniors in Acts of Faith wrote the script and Grace is playing an English professor. 

I would say that Grace's favorite item we used this week was More Roots Card Game
Last Saturday Grace participated in her first Art Festival, A Day at the Fort. It was a good experience but very disappointing in sales. She will try again in September with another local festival.

I am linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

TOS Review- MATH MAMMOTH - Make It Real Learning - Fractions, Percents, and Decimals I, Geometry I, and Sets, Probability, Statistics I

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In our home Math is a dirty word. Not by me, but by my daughter Grace. Math has been a struggle for her since the beginning of her education. Because of this struggle she has grown to only tolerate math as something she needs to learn. Trying to get her to understand that she will use math on a daily basis has fallen on deaf ears. TOS Review Crew offered a review from Math Mammoth that seemed to fit the bill of using math in our daily walk. For this review we were given Make It Real Learning.

Math Mammoth is a company of math products created and owned by Maria Miller. Ms. Miller has a Master's Degree in mathematics and minors in physics and statistics. She started out as a teacher before coming home to teach her own children. Lucky for us she saw a real need in the homeschooling community for materials that explained math in simple terms that still conveyed concepts in a rigorous tone. The bottom of this page Math Mammoth you can find a newsletter and 300 free worksheets to get a feel of how her math program works. The problems in Make It Real Learning were written by experienced teacher Frank Wilson.

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Looking At The Individual Products

Fractions, Decimals, and Percents I

This product is recommended for grades 4 - 8 and retails for $4.99. You will receive a total of 46 pages. We received this as a download. Some concepts learned in this workbook: 

Fractions - simplifying, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and comparing.
Creating Charts
Percents - converting from decimals and fractions
Decimals - converting from percent and fractions

Sets, Probability, and Statistics I

This product is recommended for grades 6 - 10 and retails for $4.99. You will receive a total of 46 pages. We received this as a download. Some concepts learned in this workbook:

Mean, Median, and Mode
Probability Determination
Working With Sets
Calculating Percentages
Calculating Outcomes

Geometry I

This product is recommended for grades 6-7 and retails for $4.99. You will receive a total of 45 pages. We received this as a download. Some concepts learned in this workbook:

Area and Volume
Pythagorean Theorem
Cross Sections

Math Mammoth does offer a discounted price of $39.99 if you purchase one of the active libraries which includes 11 workbooks.

Many students do not grasp how many math concepts will be used in their adult lives with personal finances, jobs, DIY projects, and even cooking and baking. Some problems that we came across in this curriculum dealt with baking, allowance, shopping, finding averages, how license plate numbers are picked, construction planning, swimming pool design and so much more. Also included in the downloads are answer keys for each set of problems/questions.

How We Used This Product and What We Thought

We received all three workbooks as downloads and it was a very easy process to get the materials. I am a paper person, so first I printed all three workbooks and sectioned them out in a binder. Remember sometimes I do refer to myself as the "Binder Queen". The very first item I noticed and appreciated right away was the fact that all answers were directly behind it's corresponding questions. In other words I did not have to search at the back of the workbook for the answers. It's the little things that make me a happy home educating mom. We worked on a section of questions three days a week tacking it onto the math program we were already using. In order to get through all three workbooks I had us skip around and sample from a different book each day, sometimes from the front, middle or back of the workbook. Some of these questions definitely stumped me and even with the answers I didn't feel I could properly explain it to Grace. We are NOT math people and a little more explanation would have helped us immensely on a few of the problems. Sometimes I felt it was assumed that we already understood certain math concepts and unfortunately we didn't. I also found that occasionally I could find the answer working the problem differently than was explained. The material found in these workbooks was very challenging to us, but I guess when you think about it, that is the point. When I was in school word problems, critical and abstract thinking always stopped me in my tracks. I am afraid I have passed that on to Grace as well at least in the subject of math. The price for this product is unbeatable. Very inexpensive for what you get. Our favorite of the three workbooks was Fractions, Percents, and Decimals I. Grace could see the real world applications with this one, mainly to do with baking, cooking, and shopping. Great price, Challenging product (in a good way), and well worth a look.

Please go to Math Mammoth and check out the Make It Real Learning products.

Visit TOS Review Crew to see other reviews about Math Mammoth products.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

TOS Review - See The Light - Art Projects - Dreams of Joseph

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See The Light is a company created by Dave and Pat Holt. The Holts have a love for Jesus, children, and art. They have put together a winning combination in the products they offer through their website. For this review we were asked to use and give our thoughts about Art Projects - Dreams of Joseph

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Pat Kneply is the master artist featured in the Art Projects line of DVDs. Pat has a degree in art education as well as a teaching credential. Along with being the featured artist for the Art Projects series she also teaches art to kids in California.  The Art Projects line of 9 DVDs features nine different famous artists. The DVD lesson we were sent to review highlighted Marc Chagall. Each DVD contains aspects of art history, art elements, and art principles. On our DVD we covered Surrealism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Color, Shape, Movement, Balance, and Wet - on - Wet painting. Dreams of Joseph contains 4 lessons each running about 30 minutes. The author of this project recommends it for 10 years and older and it retails for $14.99. A monthly subscription is available for the Art Projects DVDs that will save you some money bringing the DVD to $12.50 each. Ms. Kneply also recommends to do one lesson a week which will give you a month of art lessons. Here is a list of materials the student will need to complete the project:

12 x 16 white poster board or manila bristol
craft paint in multiple colors
paper plates with wax coating
paint brushes
newspaper or old tablecloth
bowl for water
paper towels
pencil and eraser

Dreams of Joseph intertwines a study of Marc Chagall's work with the story of Joseph from the Bible.

How We Used the Product and What We Thought

Many of my blog readers and friends know that Grace draws constantly. Just like her father she always has a pencil and paper close by to sketch or doodle. This does not translate to painting. Painting seems to intimidate her, maybe because she feels she has more control with a pencil than paintbrush. Regardless we forged ahead with Dreams of Joseph. We did one lesson a week of this art project finishing in plenty of time for this review. The first lesson found us at the kitchen table painting while watching the DVD on my computer. The following three lessons were accomplished in the TV room watching on the DVD player. For some reason after the first time on my computer, the DVD would not open up again to watch. We had plenty of art supplies around the house and did not have to buy anything. Pat was a great art teacher. Easy to listen to and easy to follow along. Occasionally we would pause the lesson to paint more before moving on to the next step. Grace was not thrilled with her finished product (probably because she did not put as much effort in it as her drawings), but she is very game to try one of the other Art Projects DVDs that uses colored pencils, etc. Another reason I wanted to review this product was to check it out for a possible class in our cooperative in the Fall. One of my favorite aspects of this program is the fact that you don't have to pay extra to use it in a class format, which I confirmed by email with See The Light. I plan on purchasing more of the project DVDs to use at home with Grace as well as in our fine arts cooperative. I truly love the way Biblical stories and scripture are shared while creating wonderful pieces of art.  Please visit See The Light and see all the wonderful products they have available.

Also take a hop over to the TOS Review Crew and see what other families thought of their See The Light products.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Vent about Money .... Or the Lack Thereof

I know that I have lots to be thankful for and there are many people across this country, and the world for that matter, that are struggling on a daily basis for shelter, clothing and food. So I come to you today feeling somewhat guilty with complaining, although I am not sure that complaining is the right word. Times are tough all over. What once didn't seem to touch what is considered the "middle class" now does. Not to mention that the "middle class" is shrinking every day to where there is or will be only the "upper class" and the "lower class". I know deep down I shouldn't complain....We have a roof over our head, food on the table for all three meals plus snacks, and all the other essentials to live on a daily basis. But what once was I fear will never be again. I feel that we can never catch up or put anything back for a rain day (which is coming more and more lately). No getting ahead.

My husband has a good job with good benefits (at least good benefits by today's standards). He has never been unemployed and has worked for the same company for the past 12 years, before that the  same industry with another company for 10 years. I worked for 17 years starting at the age of 17 for an animal hospital and for many years we were a two income family. Eleven years ago that changed when we moved I decided to stay at home with the kids, at that time with the respective ages of 3 and 12. Just a few years later I would be homeschooling the youngest and still am today. We struggled at times just like all families do and have pulled ourselves out of debt time and time again just to be swept back into that same cycle. I guess you would say living beyond our means, but not in the way with new cars, clothing, electronics, trips, etc. Basically from eating out, homeschool materials, books, conventions, and occasionally a frugal vacation thrown in, etc. Up until two years ago we always took a summer vacation just like most average American families. Anywhere from 2-6 day type of trips. But that just hasn't been possible the last couple of years and Grace doesn't understand. She wants to see the beach again, but hey so do me and her dad. We would go if we could. This past year I have tried to put the brakes on all the extras and it has helped with being a member of the TOS Review Crew and the many wonderful products we are blessed with on a monthly basis that I don't feel the need or urge to go out and buy other books, etc. Yet we still find ourselves in the debt cycle. Our last car will be paid off in January and that will help some to where I can take said payments and apply it to our other debt. In full transparency I have about 9,000 in debt I would like to pay off and finally be free and clear of. This would have us debt free of everything except the house. Well here comes the next scary item, we are discussing the possibility of being our own bosses. Hubby is an artist, and is currently training to become a tattoo artist. It is a natural progression of the type of art he already does. Scott has always wanted to take his art and change peoples lives in a spiritual sense. Coming into contact with people who may not know the good news of Jesus Christ and he 9 times out of 10 has some spiritual messages in the work he produces. It is scary to think about walking away from benefits, a steady paying job and everything that goes along with it.

As I mentioned above I have mentally preparing and putting into place a way of tightening the belt on expenses. Well it never fails that when you do this it is almost like the devil is right there pulling some strings to not let that happen. Here is some of the things I am dealing with right now and trying to figure out how to make it all work:

  • Graduation gifts for four different students.
  • Grace and Travis' birthdays which are one week apart.
  • Car repairs.
  • Appointments for mammogram, dentist, eye exams, and yearly check up.
  • Animal care and supplies for ferret, chickens, two dogs, and two cats.
  • House repairs.
  • Motorcycle maintenance (main transportation for hubby in the summer to cut down on gas).
  • Clothing needs especially for hubby in the line of summer apparel. 
  • Purchasing life jackets for the two blow up kayaks Scott purchased at a yard sale last summer. This is really their only form of summer entertainment with no vacations in sight.
All of these items have come to a head for the end of May and beginning of June and quite frankly the funds are not there to do most of it. Even with insurance we are looking at a chunk of change especially for the dentist and eye exams. I have a broken tooth that needs addressed and Grace needs new script for glasses. 

For the most part I have never really worried about the bills and covering the extras, but now I do. My feelings are it is only going to get worse. Times are tough and will get harder. Pray. I pray for peace and contentment about what we have and being okay with what we don't. I pray for our nation and that everything doesn't come toppling down on top of us. Over the next couple of weeks I will again be looking at our finances and finding ways of cutting back, to pay off debt, and to live more simply.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Art Festival Update

Saturday found us at "A Day at the Fort" festival. This day is set aside to celebrate the history of Fort Hollingsworth each year and Saturday was the 18th celebration. A friend's aunt owns the property. She was born in the house and lived there until she graduated from high school. Fort Hollingsworth has a rich history which you can read about here. Each year she allows a few art vendors into the festival and Grace was chosen to be one. The day could not have been better as far as weather was concerned. For the past 3-4 weeks it had rained ever weekend. It was a comfortable 76 degrees. There was lots of music, food, history, and a Civil War reenactment. This was Grace's first festival and we learned a lot, especially about pricing, booth set up, and increasing inventory of her product. The only problem which was a main one - sales were dismal. I think it was very disappointing for her to do all the work and not see much for it. Next on the agenda will be an arts festival named The Big Read Apple Festival in September. There will be much more foot traffic at that one and she should see more sales. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up and Homeschool Review

What We discussed or Studied

Herb Study - Plantain
Indus River Valley Civilization
Lebanon and Iraq
Greek and Latin Root Words
Greek Myths
Adding and subtracting integers

What we are Reading

Greek Myths
Herb Fairies
The Book of Matthew 13-16
Indus River Valley Peoples

What we are Creating

This week we have spent a lot of hours doing the final preparations for the art festival. 
Creating signs, displays, etc.
Packaging cards and book marks
Collecting all the items we will need for a full day at the festival
Deciding on prices for her products

Life Stuff

We are actually finished with our normal school work for the year. Of course with me being on the Review Crew this year we will continue reviewing products throughout the summer. That is mostly what we are working on at this time. 

My parents received some pretty devastating news a couple of weeks ago so I have had lots of meetings to attend with them and visits over at their house deciding a plan of action. 

We volunteered at the state homeschool convention this past weekend and that took up two full days of our time. 

I meet with my co-director yesterday to plan out all the classes for our cooperative in the fall. Very excited for what we are offering with also being aware of how time consuming it will be. I believe this go around Grace will not take any other outside classes except the cooperative. Although she is interested in a fun debate class that will be offered. 

Review we are working on

Making Math Meaningful
Moving Beyond the Page
Teaching the Classics
Let's Make a Webpage
See the Light

It would be hard to pick a favorite product this week. All Grace sees is summer and not wanting to continue any school work. She is still in love with Spanish For You, we will continue it over the summer 2-3 days a week to keep her fresh until the fall. 

Tomorrow is the big arts festival. Wish us luck and obviously I will do a post about our experience in the next couple of days.

We are linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Homeschool Review.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Something New from The Old Schoolhouse - Schoolhouse Library

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is offering a wonderful new deal for their new product, "Schoolhouse Library". Spend $25.00 and receive over 175 Ebooks touching on all kinds of subjects. There are over 25 topics to chose from. Follow the link to Schoolhouse Library and check out all the wonderful Ebooks you can get for just $25.00. 
This is one of those deals you don't want to pass up. Be sure to go and check it out ASAP.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Herb Fairies Update - The Study of Plantain

The month of May is devoted to the herb Plantain. Yesterday Grace read the first two chapters of the book and we started right in on one of the recipes. This is a butter spread to use on bread. I was missing one ingredient. It is supposed to be orange mint butter but no mint could be found. 

Final product tastes good with a heavy citrus taste. Of course if you make a butter you also need to make fresh bread. Hubby loves bread and fresh baked bread just makes his day. Plantain was very easy to find in a field off of our main road. We are looking into drying it and using at a later date since it is in such abundance.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Creating Your Own Science Curriculum

The past few years have seen many changes in our thoughts and actions with home educating. Because of these different thoughts, etc. we have moved away from thinking we need to use a textbook for each subject or even the same type of classes that everyone else studies. I have mentioned it many times before, but at this point Grace is not interested in attending college. Her exact words are if she does go anywhere it will be an art school. We are not science lovers. All of the above factors have played into what Grace will study for science in her high school years. One thing that Grace does love is animals. This gave us a base to work off of in planning a year long study of animals. Grace's next year of school is actually a gap year in between 8th and 9th grade and it will be a trial run on how we want to do it. I let Grace choose her subject matter for science next year and she decided it would be a in depth study of birds - ornithology. At some point in time I found a list of items you could use to make up a year long class that would count as a credit in any subject. Below you will find the items we have chosen for her Ornithology Science class for next year.

Read 5 - 10 non-fiction books on selected topics.

Watch 5 - 10 documentaries on selected topics.

Design one or two creative projects, each with a 10-15 minute presentation.

Write 7 - 10 reports on topics related to subject.

Visit 2 - 3 exhibitions on related topics.

Subscribe to a monthly magazine related to the topic and read entire magazine each month.

Field work will be counted as lab work.

Some choices that other families might like would be: read two-thirds of a selected textbook, read the majority of content of 5-10 websites on the chosen topic, Design 2-3 triptych displays on related topics, create maps or timelines of course content, write three analytical papers on the topic, write one research paper of 2500 words or more, with a bibliography, and give a speech on a topic related to the subject studied. I wish for the life of me I could remember where I got this information so I could give proper credit. I have been sitting on this list for a couple of year and now I feel we are ready to take the plunge. Grace seems excited about studying birds. If all goes well the following year will find her in the same set up studying Zoology. Then we may move on to Biology and Chemistry but if she isn't interested we may change it up and do Astronomy and Herbal Medicine. The sky is the limit.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

TOS Review - Joyce Herzog - Luke's Life List and Luke's School List

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Joyce Herzog is a well known name in the homeschooling community. She is associated most with Scaredy Cat Reading System, but has a slew of other available products. We were asked to use and review Luke's Life List and Luke's School List through the TOS Review Crew.

Let's start off with learning a little about Dr. Herzog. As I mentioned above she is the author of many educational products, teacher of students with learning disabilities, counselor, and speaker at many conferences and conventions. Dr. Herzog has many credentials including  earning her a doctorate in 1995 and has spoken to audiences throughout North America since 1992.

The two books we were asked to use and review are Luke's Life List and Luke's School List. They are companion books that complement one another. The premise and names of the books were inspired from Luke 2:52, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Both books are considered a daily planner, IEP, Scope and Sequence, and lesson planner. If you are anything like me you will really like this set of books. I am a type A personality that loves making lists and checking the items off as they are accomplished. Imagine the largest list you could think of - that is Luke's Lists. Life skills, growth ( Biblically and physically), social skills, hygiene, vocation skills, government, economics, and all academic subjects. That is just naming a few.

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This set of books is recommended for parents of children from birth - 8th grade, although Luke's Life List could be used up to young adulthood. Many parents, especially homeschooling parents, worry about missing gaps in their children's educational path. Using both of the Luke's list books should set their minds at ease. Of course even the author states it is impossible to have a master list of everything a child should know.

Each book begins with a section about how to use the books, develop IEPs, and how to teach anything. Luke's School List will come as a spiral bound soft cover book including 160 pages. Luke's Life List will come the same with 134 pages. Each book retails for $30.00.

How We Used This Product and What We Thought

When I first started reading through the books I was overwhelmed. So much material. Also in Luke's School List, I thought, "Man, we haven't covered half of this stuff." Then I took a deep breath and dove in. I decided to go through each book thoroughly and wrote down the page numbers of all the sections we needed to concentrate on. We went over many pages in Luke's Life List that pertained to learning and deciphering Wisdom, as well as the history of the Bible. With Grace finishing up 8th grade this year I feel we will get more use out of the Luke's Life List. Both books would be best to start from an early age even birth but not necessary. A lot of the information in the beginning of both books we had passed many years ago.  On that same note I really liked the lists of subject areas for history, science, and cultural skills in Luke's School List. I do plan to continue to refer back to both books when needed to refresh our minds on some of the materials out there we should be learning.

Sample of Luke's Life List

Sample of Luke's School List

Please be sure to visit Joyce Herzog and see all the wonderful products and services she has available. Also be sure to check out Luke's Life List and Luke's School List.

Go to TOS Review Crew to see what other families reviewed and what they thought.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013


Yesterday afternoon we visited the local office shop and printed all of Grace's materials on glossy card stock to get prepared for the art festival next weekend. Once we started printing Grace started getting really excited about it. Not much "school" happened yesterday. I counted yesterday as life learning. We attended a funeral in the morning for a beloved church member who went to be with the Lord on Sunday. After the funeral we ate lunch out . Next the print shop where she learned how to run the color copier and how to shrink her images for another art project. The remainder of the afternoon and evening she spent drawing.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicken Updates

Well, first things first, the babies came out of the nursery today with their first taste of freedom. They loved every minute of it. Three nights ago they started roosting like proper grown up chickens. I have lost track of time but I think we are at 16 - 18 weeks old. We will be away from the home over the next three days a lot so they will need to be content in the nursery and on Sunday I will start letting them out on a daily basis.

Today also found Scott tearing down the old nursery. He had much help from the flock. The base of the nursery was built with many rocks. There favorite past time is having Scott turn over the rocks so they can search for bugs and worms.

One of the Buffs has gone broody, now I must decide if she gets to sit on eggs or not. The main problem is that the other birds will jump right into the nest with her and lay their eggs. I would need to mark all of the sitting eggs with a sharpie and check really well every day, otherwise more eggs will be added all the time.

Blogging Through the Alphabet - I is for Ink

We use a lot of ink around this house. All types of ink. I print all kinds of books, pdfs, etc. with ink in our printer. Luckily we were blessed with a huge printer and loads of toner cartridge refills about a year ago. Each toner cartridge will print close to 15,000 pages. With all the materials I need to print for the TOS Review Crew it has truly been a blessing. 

As many of my readers know, we have two artists in the family. My husband is a man of many talents. Pen and ink is his first true love in art. The rocks in the above picture is one of the main stays of his work, along with mixed media sculpture and collage work. Here recently he has added another ink to his portfolio. The intricate detailed work that he can do with pen and ink has led him to begin apprenticing to become a tattoo artist. Scott has always been interested in seeing where he can take his art to impact other people. Especially those that do not have faith. Many times you will find scripture or scriptural meanings in his work and he wishes to transfer that to tattoo work as well.

Last but not least is Grace. She also uses a lot of ink on a daily basis. Her choice if ink is copic markers and black pens of all sorts. We only have 1 1/2 more weeks before her for art festival. Next week will be taken up with preparing for the festival.

I am linking up with Ben and Me for Blogging Through the Alphabet.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Monday, May 13, 2013

Random Stuff From the Past Few Days

Grace created this for me for Mothers Day. This is her rendition of herself, right down to her purple glasses and favorite boots.

Now that the weather is warming up a bit the flowers are bursting with color. 

I passed these on the road while walking one day. 

One of my newest passions is finding recipes on Pinterest and trying them out. Today Grace woke up sick with a cold. I took the morning to create some recipes while she was sleeping. Above is a no bake energy ball make with peanut butter, butterscotch chips, maple syrup, honey, whole wheat,  and oats. Hubby says they taste real good.

TOS Review - College Prep Genius - High School Prep Genius

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Jean Burk is the author and owner of College Prep Genius. College Prep Genius was developed because a homeschooling mother needed to find a way for her children to go to college without a hefty price tag by scoring high on the PSAT and SAT.  Now she has created a product, High School Prep Genius, that answers all the questions that parents and students have about preparing to go to college through the high school years. We were asked to read and review, High School Prep Genius through the TOS Review Crew.

High School Prep Genius came to us as a softcover book of 437 pages. This book currently retails for $29.95. The author recommend 9th - 12th grade students use this book along with their parents to prepare for college. Parents with children in the 7th and 8th grade would also benefit from reading High School Prep Genius to prepare their minds for what is ahead. 
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Jean Burk's thoughts on writing this book came from seeing students need more guidance through high school than just passing the PSAT and SAT with flying colors. Any type of student  (public, private, or homeschool) can benefit from the information in this book. Ms. Burk's daughter, Judah, coauthored this book with her. I particularly agreed with something Judah said in the very beginning of the book, "The purpose of education is not simply making good grades. It is to gain knowledge about the world and practical applications of such knowledge." The author does recommend that the parent and student read the student parts together for more understanding and discussion. Below is a list of how the chapters are sectioned:

Chapters 1 -6 Personal Success
Chapters 7 - 12 Academic Success
Chapters 13 - 18 Future Success

The beginning of the book includes a section on how to create a College and Career Notebook. This is created to keep track of all records, etc. needed throughout the high school years to help apply for scholarships and college. The following chapters deal with each individual grade, 7th - 12th. What the student needs to research, do, create, and think about for each academic year of school. Once completing the sections mentioned the parent and student will delve into the chapters dealing with Personal, Academic, and Future Success. The back of the book contains appendices of information: Transcripts, talent searches, books to read, reducing test anxiety, and terminology. Each chapter has the topical information presented, questions to help the student apply the information, guide for parents, and parent's homework.

How We Used the Book and What We Thought

Grace is currently finishing 8th grade and in her young adult mind does not plan to attend college after finishing high school. We also plan to do a GAP year between 8th and 9th grade for a variety of reasons. All of this played in to how we are using High School Prep Genius. I, the parent, read the book in its entirety first. My first reaction is its a great book with loads of helpful information. My second reaction was it scared me to death about what we need to accomplish in high school in case Grace changes her mind about going to college. After I got over the fear, I started reading/sharing one chapter a week with Grace. So far she has learned what is expected in her 9th grade year of high school, how to create a high school/career notebook, and some personal development. I really liked sharing the personal development chapter with Grace, especially the "What Would You Do" questions. I appreciated the guided responses which aligned pretty much with what I would advise. I plan to continue reading one chapter a week with Grace until we finish the book. Once Grace reaches 10th grade or older I will give her the book again to read on her own, especially if she changes her plans about attending college. High School Prep Genius is well worth the price of $29.95 and seems very applicable to all families with middle and high school students.

Please visit TOS Review Crew to read other reviews about High School Prep Genius.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up and Homeschool Review

What We Discussed or Studied
Herb Study - Violets
Middle East, Israel, and Jordan
White House
Agriculture in California
Order of Operations


What We Are Reading
Book of Matthew
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Finished)
Yellow Star

Classes Attended
Essay Writing
Drama (Multiple Practices)

Review We Are Working On
High School Prep Genius
Making Math Real
See The Light
Lets Make a Web Page
Spanish For You
Geography by Memoria Press

I have to admit that school was lacking a bit this week due to three performances of Aladdin and all that involved. On Wednesday I posted a review of Spanish For You. Currently it is one of Grace's favorite things we do. We hope to continue it throughout the summer and into the next year. I think I am learning just as much as she is. During the daytime this week Grace spent a lot of time with puppy playing crazy games.

All of our school work is starting to wind down for the year. There are a few things that we will work on during the summer, such as: reviews from TOS Review Crew, Spanish, Math, and Herb Study.

I am linking up with Weekly Wrap Up and Homeschool Review.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Homeschooling High School - Blogging Through The Alphabet

The thought of teaching high school strikes fear into many homeschooling parents. How will I teach the subjects I don't know or didn't study myself? These thoughts have been floating around in my head for a couple of years. I think I have finally come to a point though, were I am not fearful anymore. I really don't think that I will do any worse than if my child went to a brick and mortar school and was taught by a "certified" teacher. If I need to send her to a class here and there that is fine. She does enjoy the time with other students and teachers. But it will never be more than a class or two a year.

This discussion leads me in to what we have planned for the next year which was to be Grace's 9th grade year, her first year of high school. Grace has a late birthday and will not turn 14 until next month. We have decided to do high school in five years instead of four. Many high school students will take a gap year after their senior year before going on to college. Our gap year will be in between 8th and 9th grade. Mainly this stems from the fact that she is not really ready for high school level science or math. History, English, etc. are fine and we may go ahead and start some high school level work in those areas. So technically we may be talking about 8 1/2 grade, if there was such a thing. Also we really enjoy learning whatever comes our way plus whatever is sent to us from the TOS Review Crew. I always hover a line between wanting to be an unschooler/interest led and just a very relaxed homeschooler. Sometimes I think I spend to much time trying to put a label on us and trying to fit into certain categories of homeschooling.

The bottom line is I know she is learning. She has strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else in this world of ours. This week she has gotten so many compliments on her performance as the Genie in Aladdin. What a talent she has in acting and art. Why should she feel bad about the things she is not good at? Like math. It is such a struggle for her. When she becomes an adult she is not going to pick something in the science or math field for work or school. She will pick a career/job where she can be creative. I think the bottom line for us is that high school will be a maturing period or learning. What we learn is just going to depend on what works and what she needs as she starts to discover herself.

I am linking up with Ben and Me for Blogging Through the Alphabet. Come over and join up.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Everything Eventually Comes to an End

Tonight was our third and final performance of Aladdin. They all did a fabulous job. The end of a run is always bittersweet. I am exhausted and ready for a little break but I will also miss seeing these kids every week. In a couple of weeks we will be wondering what we will do with all our open days. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

TOS Review - Spanish For You - Fiestas

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Ok folks, this may be an absolute first for my daughter. Grace loves Spanish For You. To back track a bit, Grace rarely enjoys anything educational, but just now I asked her if she had anything to add for my review and she said, "I love Spanish For You." Specifically we were asked to review and use, the Fiestas themed unit. 

First I would like to introduce you to the author of Spanish For You, Debbie Annett. Debbie has "mucho" experience with teaching children Spanish. She even spent time studying in Seville, Spain. Debbie saw a need for an economical, effective, and easy program to teach Spanish to elementary and middle school students. She even has used this very product in a cooperative for the past 4 years with great results.

What You Need to Know

Fiestas themed lesson pack is recommended for grades 3-8. The packaged unit, which is what we received as a download, retails between $39.95 - $64.95 depending on what grade levels you will need. All grade levels together will cost you $64.95 while 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8 grades will run you $39.95 each. Included in this package is:

Soft Cover Book
Lesson Guide (PDF download)
Worksheets with Answers (PDF download)
Audio Files (MP3 download)
Flashcard/Activity Pictures (PDF download)

Teacher lesson plans can be purchased separately for $12.95(Fiestas). We received everything as PDFs, MP3s, and an ebook.

Spanish for You - Fiestas photo spanishforyou-fiestas_zpsa80f3c2a.jpgThe author of Spanish For You recommends using the product 4 days a week which will have you finishing up in 24-30 weeks depending on the student's grade level. She is also quick to add that the student can go at a slower pace if needed. If a family has children in multiple grades the $64.95 package can be purchased and the entire family can learn together and have everything they need for a full year of Spanish. Currently Fiestas and Estaciones are available as packages with more coming very soon. Before a themed package becomes available the author uses it for one year in a classroom setting. This way all the "bumps in the road" can be addressed before releasing it to the public. Even though each themed unit is different it also has some review material from other units. The author also states that students who use this product for two or more years are well prepared for high school Spanish and some even start earlier than high school. Components included in each unit:
Verb Conjugation

Audios are provided as MP3s. One audio is the author speaking the entire Ebook while the other also includes a Spanish speaker from Mexico.

How We Used the Product and What We Thought

This review could not have come at a better time for us. As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, Grace does not like anything academic. To find something she enjoys, really makes my heart sing. Very often Grace feels she is not smart, this product has proved her wrong. She definitely seems to have a talent for languages (and art of course). Once I received the email with all the downloads I then proceeded to print everything and put it in a binder. I sectioned the binder into 4 units: 



The fourth section includes all of the finished worksheets. This way Grace can easily go through all the materials on her own and find what she needs quickly. I have to say from day one she was hooked and very good at it. We used Spanish For You 3-4 days a week. Being homeschoolers we did tweak a portion or two by making flashcards online instead of index cards. Also with her being the only student and in 8th grade we have yet to play any of the games. She is quite happy with listening to the audio, reading the Ebook, studying the flashcards, and answering the worksheets. I find myself reading over her shoulder and learning just as much as she is. Grace is flourishing with this program and wants to continue it till the end. Over the summer to boot! That really says something about this product. Spanish For You is all that the author says and so much more. Spanish For You IS economical, effective, easy, and FUN. If you haven't noticed I highly recommend Spanish For You.

Be sure to visit Spanish For You and check Debbie Annett's wonderful product. Also visit TOS Review Crew to find out what the other families thought of Spanish For You products.

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