Monday, October 28, 2013

Progression of Art Over the Years

Art from Grace in 2009 or 2010. She didn't date it so we are unsure.
Grace currently has a fascination these days of going through her old art work and redrawing them. I am sure most of you can see the progression she has made over the years. Many of her friends are always amazed at what she can draw and they get frustrated that they can't do the same. What they don't understand is that Grace has been drawing every day, sometimes up to six hours a day for the last six years. It is her passion. She loves it. What she can do with markers is amazing. The shading of hair, clothing, and eyes fascinates me. I so wish I had just a little of her talent. Okay, now we can go back to the regularly scheduled program and I will stop all the bragging.

Grace draws the same picture today.

D is for Doggie Dentistry

Visits to the dentist has been occupying many of our days over the past month. This includes one of the dogs as well. Puppy is like my third child and we knew the time was coming to get some work done on her mouth. She just turned five but she has the mouth of a much older dog. I have always had trouble with her eating but she had started to really not feel well over the past couple of weeks. Well after a visit with the vet on Saturday we decided to take the plunge (a much costly one at that) and have some dental work done. We started her on an antibiotic and scheduled the dental for this past Friday. Well, 12 extractions later and $500.00 poorer meant Puppy came home with a somewhat brand new mouth. The treatment doesn't end here, she came home with antibiotics, pain meds, restrictions, and a whole lot of TLC. Now if I can just get her to start eating again.

Before and After pics of some really bad teeth.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our Resources for History This Year

This year for history we decided to do an in depth study of the Middle Ages. I made this decision for a couple of reasons. One we had really not studied it very much of the years and Two we had so many books on the shelves about this time period that it was just screaming at us to do it. Our main spine is Famous Men of the Middle Ages which we got for free for the Kindle and the study guide that goes along with it from Cyndy Shearer which was purchased at a used book sale a couple of years ago. So far in the Famous Men book we studied:

The Gods of the Teutons
Alaric the Visigoth
Attila the Hun
Genseric the Vandal
Theodoric the Ostrogoth
Justinian the Great
Benedict and Gregory
Charles Martel and Pepin
Harun - al - Rashid

I have also included books from our shelves from this time period and some that are recommended from the study guide. We read many excerpts from The Children of Odin which Grace loved because of her love for Thor and Loki, but learned that the gods were all pretty selfish and very similar to the mythology of the Greeks. We also finished A Door in the Wall and are currently working our way through Adam of the Road. 

I had Grace pick one of the Famous Men we have learned about so far to write a more in depth paper about and she picked Mohammed. We have five more books to read alongside the other famous men we will be learning about over this school year. 

I love putting our own study together as opposed to buying a complete curriculum or textbook. This way we can follow any rabbit trails that we wish and tweak all the books and such to suit our needs. On a side note I choose King Alfred's English to use as part of Grace's 9th grade English credit and it fits very nicely with the study of Medieval History. Currently we are in the section about Middle English. Oh yes, I can't forget that we have also started reading Beowulf. I will probably have her do some type of illustration or book report on Beowulf because it is just so fascinating.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up 10/26/13

This week turned out to be a relatively normal one. Lots of creativity on Grace's part. She created some items out of clay including the above ears and horns for a costume she will be eventually wearing to an anime convention.

Lots of drawing too.

In English Grace read and answered some questions in our King Alfred's English book. I am reading through this book for the second time and simply can't say enough about it. If you haven't already check it out please go and do so. She wrote in her writing journal for her Creative Writing Class as well as wrote a paragraph for current events. Grace continues working through Marie's Words for vocabulary and Bridgeway English Focus on Grammar for grammar review.

We attended two Zumba classes this week. Hoping to bump it up to three next week. Grace had a friend over last night which hindered us from attending Friday night's class. I am trying slowly to instill a love of exercise in Grace's life but still no love on her part.

Famous Men of the Middle Ages had us studying Harun-Al-Rashid this week. Grace read the chapter and answered the comprehension questions. I also had her pick some words from the text she was not familiar with and define them. We also started reading an abridged version of Beowulf. Believe it or not I have never read it, so far it seems like it will be an interesting read. We continue to read Adam of the Road and see what it is like to be a minstrel traveling and performing during the Middle Ages.

Algebra continues on. This week found Grace learning about simplifying fractions. She just finished a chapter yesterday which would mean a test on Monday, but I feel she needs to review some more before moving on. So I will make a couple of review pages for her to solve some problems before moving on to any new concepts.

In Science we continue on with our bird study. Grace has read three case studies in her Avian Architecture book and created a cup nest out of clay this week. I will share a pic once all the painting is complete. 

Some of the extras we continue to use that rounds out our daily work is Gods World News Magazine, CNN Student News, 25 Truths, High School Prep Genius, the Bible (started the book of John), Who is My Neighbor, reading aloud the new Michael Vey book, and literature reading of A Year Down Yonder.

I am considering purchasing and starting Mapping the World With Art. I would like to use this to round out a geography credit for Grace but I am also interested in using it for a class in my cooperative come Fall of 2014. 

This week Grace's favorite things were creating with clay, watching CNN Student News, and getting ready with her costume for the fall festival.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creativity Abounds

Saturday is the Fall Festival at our church. Our car will be part of the trunk or treat portion. Grace enjoys dressing up and handing out candy to the kids. This year is will be dressing as a mime that is an anime character, hence why you are seeing purple ears and horns. She made them out of clay and then painted them.

As many of you know we are studying birds all year for science. This month Grace has been reading the book Avian Architecture. One of her hands on activities was to choose one of the nests she studied and build it herself. She has always enjoyed watching hummingbirds and recently we watched some youtube videos of a hummingbird building a nest. She is painting the nest, eggs and birds. I will share once they are completely finished.

Grace is always creating characters. Since she sold all three pieces of her art at the art show she has had a resurgence of inspiration to create more art.

The TOS Crew Application is Up

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer for The Old School House Magazine, follow the link and fill out the application. If you are a current blogger that also has other social media platforms this may be for you. I cannot express what a blessing this has been for me and my family. Don't wait, go check out the information now.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

TOS Review - VocabularySpellingCity

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When Grace was in 4th - 6th grade she had a fair amount of trouble with spelling words. We used various workbooks to improve her spelling woes, but one of our favorite resources was VocabularySpellingCity. Now fast forward to the 9th grade and we are getting to use it again. We were offered a chance to review the Premium Membership at VocabularySpellingCity through the TOS Review Crew. We were excited to check it out again and see what had been added since our last visit. Plus at that time we only had the free membership. Now we could do and see all that is available on the website. Let's start off with some of the basics.

For the review we were given a one year premium membership to VocabularySpellingCity. This program is recommended for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. A Premium membership retails for $29.99. This membership is good for 1-5 students to participate per family. Other packages are available for larger families, groups, and classrooms. Here are some of the benefits of a premium membership:
  • Spelling, Vocabulary, and Writing
  • Saving Custom Word Lists
  • Handwriting Worksheets
  • Language Arts
  • Flashcards
  • More than 25 Games
  • Student Progress Tracking
  • Separate Student Logins
  • The Ability to Assign Work to the Student
  • No Ads and Technical Support
You could look at this website as just about a complete language arts program for your student to use on a daily basis.

I am going to highlight some of the most important parts of VocabularySpellingCity.
  1. Word Lists - This program gives the parent the ability to create their own word lists or use lists other parents have created. These lists can be search by grade level or through other criteria such as; Dolch-Sight Words, Compounds Words, Geography Lists, Other Teacher's Lists, and so many more.
  2. Teaching Resources - The teaching resources page is simply that, lots of resources for teaching language arts. One section actually has video lessons to explain different concepts to the student. These lessons include but are not limited to analogies, compound words, homophones, parts of speech, and so many more. Another section has useful word lists and how to integrate them into other studies. This page also provides research and information about teaching language arts provided through articles for teachers and parents to read. The fourth section of this page contains more information for teachers on how to bring the program to their classroom and answers to frequently asked questions.
  3. Videos and Frequently Asked Questions - This section is pretty self explanatory. Oodles and oodles of videos to help use and enhance the program in your home or classroom.
  4. Premium Membership - Lots of the above mentioned resources are not available in the free membership.
  5. Assignments and Tracking - Specific tasks can be assigned to each student to complete. The assignments page is very easy to understand and navigate. Once the student completes the tasks the teacher/parent can view the progress and make adjustments if needed.
  6. Apps - VocabularySpellingCity is now available on Apple and Android devices as well as kindle. How fun is that!

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How We Used the Program and What We Thought:

Currently we do not use any spelling programs therefore we don't have any specific spelling lists to use with this program. What we did have was vocabulary lists. We have another vocabulary program we are using this year to slowly prepare Grace for the SAT in a couple of years. It was very easy to simply use our current vocabulary words and implement them into VocabularySpellingCity. Normally I would have Grace study the words daily, flashcard style, then I would have to create my own quiz each week. Now that we are reviewing VocabularySpelling City the process is much easier. Each week I take the 10 word vocabulary list and create a word list in the program. Grace uses the program a few minutes each morning to review the words through online flashcards and plays a few games to help the words and definitions to stick. At the end of the week she takes the quiz online then we move on to the next 10 word list. Easy peasy, no muss no fuss. We also watched most of the language arts video lessons to review concepts Grace had forgotten. The price of $29.99 for the premium membership is right on target and worth every penny. Great program with so much to offer. 

Please take a little time and visit VocabularySpellingCity and see for yourself all the possibilities. 

Also visit the TOS Review Crew to see what other families thought of this product.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

C is for "Car Troubles"

The past week has been a blur of trading cars in a merry go round fashion. Let me start from the beginning. For five years my son bought, rebuilt, sold, and raced BMWs. Well, every BMW he purchased seemed to have too many problems. Finally last year he grew up and decided BMWs just weren't working for him anymore. So he traded in his last and got a dependable smallish SUV. He was underwater on this trade in and loan, the only way he could get the loan was to purchase an extended warranty for the used vehicle he was purchasing. Thank goodness he did. Last week the engine on the car died. Of course the warranty company is giving him some grief and is requiring the dealership to dismantle the engine so they can look at it. If they deem it fixable or whatever then my son is responsible for paying the dealership for the dismantle of the engine and also to get a new engine. I think the warranty company is trying to not have to pay.

He has a job to get to 40 minutes away each day and he no longer lives at home. So we have been doing the here you can use my car for today and tomorrow you can use your dads and so on. I really don't mind because he is a good kid and never asks us for anything. But I will be awful glad when the car is repaired and we can all go back to normal.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Monday, October 21, 2013

TOS Review - Bridgeway Academy - Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar

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Before I was asked to review Bridgeway Academy and their product Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar, I had never heard of this company. This is kind of surprising because I have homeschooled for almost 8 years and thought I had researched every product and company that was out there. I was pleasantly surprised with what this company has to offer and the actual product I reviewed for them. Throughout the remainder of the review I will refer to the reviewed product as Focus On Grammar

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Through the TOS Review Crew Bridgeway Academy sent our family Book 1 Focus on Grammar and Bridgeway English Key as physical products to review. Both came as softcover, spiral bound books. This product is recommended for grades 7-12 and can even be used by adults to brush up on basic grammar concepts. Book 1 Focus on Grammar and Bridgeway English Key retail for $23.33 each. If purchased together that would be $46.66. Book 2 is also available for $23.33 and has a focus on writing.

Book 1 Focus on Grammar is considered a remedial program that will teach the student the basics of grammar. Below you will find the grammar subjects included in this book:
  • Parts of a Sentence and the Four Kinds of Sentences
  • Sentence Fragments, Compound and Run-on Sentences
  • Kinds of Nouns and Noun Functions
  • Direct and Indirect Objects
  • Complements, Appositives, and Noun of Direct Address
  • Object of Preposition and Prepositional Phrases
  • Pronouns, Antecedents, Modifiers, Adjectives, Articles, and Adverbs
  • Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections
Book 1 Focus on Grammar has six sections. Each section contains an explanation of material to learn, Tremendous Tales, activities and assignments to complete, reviews, self-tests, and final unit tests. Each section teaches the student step by step and builds on itself as the student goes through each unit.

Bridgeway English Key is basically the teacher's edition with answers to all the assignments and tests for Book 1 and Book 2. I always like having the answers available in case I run across an assignment that gives us a little trouble. I also like the fact that Grace can check and grade herself when the need arises.

I would like to take a minute and also discuss many other resources the Bridgeway Academy has to offer the homeschooling community. Homeschooling families can utilize this company a little or a lot. They can keep your records for you and issue diplomas, as long as their criteria is met for graduation. Your child can get all their credits and classes from Bridgeway if that is what you desire. This can be curriculum delivered to your door or classes and learning co-ops online. I don't think I would utilize this portion for our family but I am sure there are homeschooling families that would like all they have to offer. There is no way I could cover everything they have available for the homeschooling community so I would strongly recommend visiting their website and seeing all they information and resources that are available.

How We Used the Product and What We Thought

We don't typically include grammar every year in our curriculum. This year did happen to be a grammar year due to standardized testing in May. Our state requires it every three years. It is amazing how quickly students can forget different concepts and rules about grammar, as well as other subjects, that need to be reviewed periodically. This product really could not have come at a better time for us. I had Grace do 1-2 pages of Book 1 Focus on Grammar, 4-5 days a week. This has been a great review for her. Grace likes using workbooks and materials that are straight forward. In her words, "simply teach me the information and let me do the work". She doesn't want to be bogged down with a lot of fluff and extra stuff to do. She really likes Book 1 Focus on Grammar and is learning a lot through review. I like the way the book is set up. I particularly like the smallish articles of information found in the Tremendous Tales sections. We both like this book so much that we will continue to use it the remainder of Grace's 9th grade year. At first I thought in the beginning of the book that this was below her grade level, but as we get farther in I can see that I was incorrect. It started with the more simple concepts and is building through each lesson. I think it is a great book with everything a student needs to know about basic grammar.

Also visit the TOS Review Crew and see what the other Crew families thought of their review products.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's A Zombie Wedding

Yesterday, after a year of planning, my niece got married. Beautiful ceremony outside. Of course the coolest day of the year so far. It rained up till a few hours before the wedding and the wind started to really blow during the ceremony.

Of course the first dance.

The beautiful bride.

Scott, Grace and myself. I should have taken a picture of the back of my hair. A close friend fixed my hair in a mass of curls down my back that you can't see at all from the pic.

The grandmother (my mom) got to be the flower girl. It was so sweet and she was very cute.

Our son Travis(with the guitar) played and his friend sang Marry Me and I Won't Give Up right before the ceremony started.

Then comes the fun part. Everything about the wedding ceremony was traditional but the reception was zombie themed. We got 8 students from my cooperative that are drama students to play the zombies. None of the guests knew about the zombie horde infiltrating the reception. The dj announced the bride and groom and instead walked in a horde of zombies. It was classic and funny.

My sister's friend pulled off some really yummy cakes in a zombie theme. We had one cake of Italian creme, another was chocolate creme and the third was red velvet. Lots of cupcakes as well.

Lots of fun seeing family and friends. Great food and dancing. Maybe we should do this every year. I think my sister might vote against that. Lots of money and stress. Today we can now all relax.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Are You Interested In Becoming a Reviewer

If you are interested in reviewing awesome products, you might want to consider becoming a member of the TOS Review Crew. Follow the link to The Old Schoolhouse and see what requirements you will need to meet to participate.
crew applications

Fears and Phobias Art Show

Fear of Time by Grace

Scott and Grace have both entered in a local art show called "Fears and Phobias". It is actually a fund raising event for a local art guild. The Alice inspired art in the above photo is one of my favorites that Grace created. It has been sitting in her art binder waiting for just the right opportunity to be shown.

Fear of Technology by Grace
This TV head character was something Grace created on a whim a few months back never really thinking she would be entering it any type of show.
Fear of Germs by Grace
This is also one of my favorites even though it is a little creepy. The colors in this drawing are incredible and don't show up well in this photo.
Fear of Time by Scott
Scott also created a fear of time piece to show. 
Fear of Clowns by Scott
The two clown pieces are for all those individuals out there that do not like or are scared of clowns.
Fear of Clowns by Scott

Monday, October 14, 2013

TOS Review - God's World News - Trak (High School)

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As a homeschooling family we have used many different books, websites, magazines, and educational resources over the past seven years. One of my absolute favorites is God's World Magazine. We actually used this a year ago for 8th grade current events until our subscription ran out. I was thrilled to find out we would be reviewing God's World News through the TOS Review Crew. This time Grace would move up to the high school version Trak since she is now in the 9th grade.

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We have received three magazines so far for the months August, September, and October, all as physical copies. A full year of Trak will run you $28.00 which includes 10 monthly issues. We were given a one year subscription for this review. A magazine will come to your home every month except May and December. God's World News also offers a school and group subscription. Each issue is 32 pages in length and is recommended for 9th - 12th grade. God's World News does have subscriptions available for all age ranges, including adults.

God's World News is an organization that provides news and events that happen in the United States and the world through a christian perspective. Trak is the magazine that is designed for high school students. All levels of their magazines strive to provide "News, knowledge, and wisdom". Trak is written in a style that would appeal to young adults as well as get them reading to make the jump to World magazine, which is for adults. Sections that can be found in Trak magazine include:
  • In-depth Feature Stories
  • Editorials
  • Economics
  • Technology
  • Info Graphics
  • Safe coverage of cultural events and public personalities
Recently God's World News has added a new feature in a website that subscribers can log into for more activities and resources. God's World News Teen is the website our subscriber number allows us to use. This website can be used on the computer, tablets, and smartphones. This new website includes articles from the magazine as well as some articles that are website only. Sections on the website currently include:
  • SciTech
  • Must Know
  • Beliefs
  • Fun Stuff
  • Live Culture
  • Arts
 photo trak36_zps526c150f.jpgEach month on the site the subscriber can view the current edition online, biographies that pertain to the articles in the current edition, and lessons to go along with the chosen edition. Visiting the Trak page on the website will also give you links to Explain It! Articles ranging from Astronomy to cloning to Natural Disasters and so many more. There is also a Today In History page that can be reached through the resources tab. To top all of this with a big cherry, God's World News also has 120 biographies available to read. You can sign up for an e-newsletter as well that is sent to your email weekly.

How Do We Use This In Our Home:
Through the high school years we have planned to study current events. This is an actual credit I intend to put on Grace's transcript. The Trak magazine from God's World News has become one of the main resources we use for this Current Events credit. I have Grace read 2-3 pages each morning. Sometimes we discuss the material. My long range goal is to have her pick an article each week to write about in her journal as well as find where on the map the event took place. Grace has always enjoyed reading God's World Magazine. She does like the middle school version better, mainly because the articles in Trak are a more challenging read. But that is the whole point. Each new year and new resource should challenge her.I also really appreciate the fact that I can hand off the magazine to Grace and not worry about what she may come across in the material. All the articles are coming from a christian world view. I would recommend this resource to anyone, any age. It is a lovely magazine and with all the website extras, you just can't go wrong with this educational tool.

Please visit God's World News and check out the Trak magazine for high school students.

Also be sure to visit the TOS Review Crew to see what other families thought of this wonderful product.

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