Friday, October 31, 2014

Compass Classroom - A Review of Word Up! The Vocab Show

word up
Photo Credit - Compass Classroom

I was completely thrilled when Compass Classroom contacted me about reviewing one of their new products Word Up! The Vocab Show. I currently use one of their other products, Dave Raymond's American History and we love it. I have to admit that I had been stalking Compass Classroom's Facebook page and main website not so patiently awaiting the release date of Word Up. I already wanted to purchase it because quite frankly everything they put out seems great. So while I was waiting to purchase the product I got an email from Compass about reviewing it for them and of course I could not pass up this chance. Okay, enough gushing, let's get to the point.

Compass Classroom graciously sent me at no cost to myself the opportunity to review the digital version of Word Up! The Vocab Show. This program has been on sale this month but the sale ends today, October 31st for the price of $9.99. After the sale ends you can still purchase this great product at the wonderful price of $15.00. This price can purchase you the DVD or the digital version. So your probably wondering what does this include - well I'm glad you asked. The DVD or digital download includes 10 video lessons that teach your child 10 Latin and 10 Greek root words in a very funny and engaging way in each separate lesson. Not only does your student learn the Greek and Latin root words but also English words that are derived from said root words. Compass Classroom has also included links to online flashcards for your student to study the words from each and every lesson. This program is recommended for ages 10 and up.

Currently I am using this program with three 5th grade girls that I tutor a few times a week. Once I am finished showing them all the video lessons I do plan on handing it off to my daughter who is in 10th grade. So far we are watching two episodes a week and discussing the different words we are learning. At this point we do not plan on using the online flashcards and quizzes, but may revisit that at a later date. The program fits in well with another product we are using which also teaches Greek and Latin root words through a card game. Dwane Thomas is the teacher/comedian that leads the students through each lesson. He is funny and very entertaining to watch. Many of you that use Visual Latin from Compass Classroom will recognize him as the same teacher. Learning Latin and Greek root words is helpful in just about anything else your student may study, so it is a big deal to introduce our students to them.
Word Up!
Photo Credit - Compass Classroom
I highly recommend this product as something informative and engaging that just about any homeschooling can incorporate into their weekly routines. I also love so many of their other products. This company is fast becoming one of my favorites of all time. Take some time and check out all that Compass Classroom has to offer.
Disclaimer: I received this product at no expense to myself in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid and in no way was I asked to give a good review in exchange for said product. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reliving the Elementary Years

As I have mentioned many times before the high school years just aren't quite as fun as the elementary years. This year I was given the opportunity to tutor three 5th grade girls three days a week. In the beginning it was an adjustment, as you can imagine. I went from one teenager in the house to now also having three younger girls in the house as well. Grace had to learn to be independent very quickly and she has adjusted pretty well. It helps that she is pretty good with kids. So far I have gotten to share some of the great books, lessons, and educational movies/videos that I shared with Grace when she was younger. 

Early on we did a study of Ancient Egypt and created pyramids out of sugar cubes and the country of Egypt out of cookie dough.

This past week we learned a little about Japan and their culture. Wednesday we had Japanese food for lunch and the girls tried California Rolls and eel sushi. The girls enjoyed the sushi. They also created traditional Japanese fans that i forgot to take pictures of.

They are also enjoying Word Up a new vocabulary video program that I will be posting a review for in the next day or so. 

I appreciate so much these precious families entrusting their children with me and letting me tutor them in a hopefully fun way each week. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting Some Well Needed Rejuvenation

Photo Credit Little Farm Diary

As many of my readers remember I blogged a few weeks back about a tough time our family was going through. Even though things are much better and life has resumed to normalcy, I still jumped at the chance to attend a local women's retreat held at one of my best friend's home. Getting to spend time with the ladies in the above photo was truly a no brainer. Each of them brings something  magical to the retreat. Some are homeschooling moms, some are incredibly creative, some are new friends, some are King and I friends, others I have know for many years and 7 out of the 8 are all bloggers.
Photo Credit Little Farm Diary
 Amy from the Little Farm Diary as our host and one of my best friends to boot. She had lots of yummy food for us and a craft to keep us busy. Amy is the truest sense of hospitality and her home is incredibly inviting.
Photo Credit Little Farm Diary

Photo Credit Little Farm Diary
 Amy will be hosting another retreat on December 6th to usher us all in to the Christmas holidays with a renewed and refreshed spirit. This time the retreat is open to the community. So if you live locally and would like to attend you need to get in touch with Amy at the Little Farm Diary. Hoping to see you there and participating with all the magic of a group of women getting together to help refresh each other's lives for at least one night and hopefully into the holiday season.
Photo Credit Little Farm Diary

This is what happens when lots of bloggers get together. You jokingly or not so jokingly discuss all the ways you are going to create a post for your blog about the event and everyone is whipping out cameras to take photos to memorialize the night.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of No Blog Posts But Lots of Life

I haven't blogged much this week but that certainly doesn't mean that we didn't do anything blog worthy. Just that life got in the way and needed to be lived. Last week we attended Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega and spent the day there. Mostly I just hung out in the local Starbucks, drank coffee and read a book while Grace got to spend time with a new friends. The things we do for our children. We did get to visit a new chocolate shop that was absolutely amazing. All homemade chocolates right there on the premises. It was a beautiful day to sit and watch - a small town festival, a parade, and all the people attending.

Living in our neighborhood is just plain awesome. The Northeast Georgia Mountains in my humble opinion is the best place in the world to live.

After weeks for planning for the art show two weekends ago Grace has taken a break from creating. This was one of the last pieces she created before her artistic juices stopped flowing. Hoping she picks it up again this week.

Two of our favorite book series came out with new editions. Michael Vey is probably the book series many people might not be familiar. It is a great series the whole family can read. I also purchased the new and last book in the entire Percy Jackson Series. We are very sad that it is ending as me and Grace have been reading this series together from the very beginning when she was maybe nine years old.

I decided to share a couple of pics of the littles that I tutor three times a week. They are bundles of energy. Some of the materials I use with them include teaching textbooks, Story of the World, Language Lessons, Jeannie Fulbright Science books, and quite a few others. Here they are painting with the See the Light series.

Of course we attended Cooperative classes. Love all my kids there.

Last night we visited the local community theatre to see friends in Alice in Wonderland. This is the same theatre where we performed  the King and I. It was quite weird sitting and watching instead of performing. It was also great to see many of the folks we performed with and catch up.
This week Grace worked very hard studying for her mid-term in Spanish class which she took on Thursday. Her Literature class finished up The Giver and started on Fahrenheit 451. In biology it is different systems in the body. She is almost finished reading Before You Meet Prince Charming.
We have another busy weekend coming up. I am attending a local women's retreat at a friends house and Grace is having a friend over all day on Sunday. Truly never a dull moment around here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

TOS Review - Standard Deviants Accelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
We are a visual family. Watching educational videos is something we have used in our home for many years. Six or seven years ago when my son was in 11th grade we would check out from the library the Standard Deviants DVDs for him to solidify different concepts in his education. Standard Deviants Accelerate has now taken their product a step further with Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses. They have sold millions of videos worldwide over the years. Standard Deviants came up with this winning concept over 20 years ago. Take academic subjects, pack a ton of information into the video, then make the video funny and entertaining to the student.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Since I was very familiar with the concept of Standard Deviants I jumped at the chance for my family to review their new product. A completely online program that can be used anytime, anywhere - as long as an Internet connection is available. We were blessed to receive a year's subscription that allowed us to check out all the available subjects. Currently one course/subject can be purchased for $99.00 a year or $24.95 per month. AP courses are also available at $14.95 a month. Standard Deviants offers courses for ages 8 and up.
Current Available Courses
Fundamental Math
Earth Science
English Composition
U.S. History
AP Biology
AP Chemistry
AP US Government and Politics
AP U.S. History
AP English Composition
In our home we concentrated on U.S. History and Biology because Grace is taking these courses for her 10th grade year. Included in each subject area the parent and student will find videos, quizzes, written transcripts, tests, drag and drop diagrams, note taking sections, and red flag alerts which will alert the parent when low scores are taking place. The parent and student will have two separate accounts. This way the parent can go and view grade reports, red flag alerts, editable scoring Rubrics, and progress indicators. There is a wonderful video the parent can view with all the particulars of what the parent account has to offer. On the same page is a video of what the student is offered through their account as well. Standard Deviant uses an immersive approach in teaching a subject and takes a neutral stand in the world view arena. I only mention this because some homeschool parents may wish to skip the videos on Evolution in Biology and The Big Bang Theory in the Earth Science class. For us it isn't a big deal as we have listened and watched information from both viewpoints in the past so that Grace is prepared to debate this issue intellectually in the future.
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
As I mentioned before we decided to us Biology and U.S. History. We found the website very easy to maneuver around and had absolutely no technical difficulties or glitches. Topics available in the Biology course were; Molecules and Cells, Heredity and Inheritance, Molecular Genetics, Evolutionary Biology, Organisms and Populations, Human Physiology and Immune Response, Ecology, and a subject review area. At the time we started this review our own personal Biology course was starting the body system studies so Grace concentrated on Molecules and Cells as well as Human Physiology and Immune Response. In History the topics available include; American Presidents, Women's Movement, Civil Reform, America at War, Economic Changes, and again a subject review area. Unfortunately none of the mentioned subjects lined up with her current history studies so we jumped around in this section.
Tons of information is packed into each video and will need to be watched repeatedly for retention. Standard Deviants recommends this program as a supplement to other programs. It would be great to watch the videos to begin a new topic or as review after studying said topic. I would definitely like to use this in the future, especially for Government and Chemistry to help Grace understand principles and concepts better. Catchy, funny videos are always a great way to capture the attention of students at any age.
Take the time to visit Standard Deviants Accelerate as well as visit the Crew Page and read their thoughts concerning this new product.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Homeschooling and Tutoring

As I mentioned in a previous post I have three 5th grade girls that come to my house three days a week for tutoring. It is refreshing to get to revisit all the elementary material that I once was able to share with Grace. Our literature book this month is Treasure Island. I chose to use a very abridged children's version of the book to read aloud during class, a couple of chapters each day. I may regret this choice because to me the book is kind of disjointed in places. It moves very quickly but from what I have read on line the unabridged version is the same. Sometimes hard to follow. When we finish the book, which should be in a couple of weeks, I plan on creating a Treasure Island day. The girls will get to watch the Disney version of Treasure Island and compare it to the book. We will create a compass rose, pirate flags, treasure maps, dabble in some creative writing dealing with pirates, show how a compass works, pick a pirate name, and do an exploding treasure chest science demonstration. I love the elementary ages - you have so much flexibility with learning.

A couple of weeks ago Wal-Mart put on clearance just the right size table Grace needed in her room for art. Recently she has taken up painting which required lots of space for canvases, paint bottles, etc. This was the perfect fit.

Grace has a fascination with sugar skulls, so her first painting of course ran in that direction. She also likes to do make up sugar skulls as well. Grace currently spends a fair amount of her day drawing and painting after she finishes her school work. This is a weird year as far as homeschooling goes. Most, if not all of her work is being done independently or through another teacher. I really miss that one on one time with her. Hearing about what she is learning and discussing everything.

The "littles" as I refer to them have also had a big art week. Each week I try to do a special class and this week was art. We used the See the Light series - Marc Chagall inspired painting of Joseph and the his dreams from the Bible. So far they have completed the first two lessons. Hopefully next week we will finish the last two even though on Monday we have a field trip to the library.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TOS Review - Apologia Educational Ministries - iWitness Book Series

Apologia Review
Recently my family was given the opportunity to review a series of books published by Apologia Educational Ministries. This series includes; iWitness Biblical Archaeology, New Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness. The iWitness book series is authored by Doug Powell and recommended for ages 11 and older. Each book currently retails for $14.00. We received each book as a physical product.

Apologia is a well known company within the homeschooling community and always seems to provide worthy products to share with our families. This go around they didn't disappoint. Here you can find an interview with the author of the iWitness Series, Doug Powell. Mr. Powell has a Masters Degree in apologetics from Biola University. In this interview I found it interesting when asked who he hoped the book series would reach and he simply stated people like him who needed a book with answers to the questions many of us have about the Bible and Christianity in general. A book that isn't so hard to read you can't understand it, but also not so watered down that the answers and information is too simplistic. In my opinion he accomplished this.
Apologia Review
iWitness Biblical Archaeology
This book deals with many artifacts, writings, and archaeological sites that support the history told in the Bible. Topics covered include Noah's Ark, The Exodus, The House of David, Dead Sea Scrolls, and many more. Of the three books this was probably our favorite. I enjoy so much reading about items found in the past, what they represent, and how they relate to the Bible.
Apologia Review
New Testament iWitness
This book in the iWitness series discussed who and why the books of the New Testament were chosen. Evidence is provided and presented to help you the reader decide and debate about the accuracy of the books that were and were not included in the New Testament.
Apologia Review
Old Testament iWitness
In this edition Doug Powell tackles some of the age old questions about who wrote the books of the Old Testament and should they be considered myth or accurate history. The back of the book also provides a detailed timeline of early history, judges, and kings.
Each book is loaded with illustrations and writings to make them seem representative of an archaeologist's field book or scrapbook. Different font styles are used throughout the book to I would assume make them look like authentic, ancient, well-used field books that an archaeologist would tote around from site to site or a scrapbook with collected information. To me the different font styles were distracting and small for my poor older eyes to read. Not sure if this would be a factor with a younger person. There was tons of information, a lot of it very new to me to learn from this series. We will definitely need to read the material numerous times to get the full benefit of all the information provided. Even though the recommended age is 11 and up, I found the material to be more on a high school level. I plan on handing the series over to my husband to read because he really digs (pun intended) this kind of reading material. I would recommend using this series as a supplement with any Bible study time with the family or when questions come up concerning accuracy of the Bible.
Be sure to check out the iWitness series published by Apologia Educational Ministries. Also take a look at what other Crew Members thought of this product.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Living the Artist Life

Grace got to see what a true artist's life is like this weekend while showing her art in a two day art show. Friday was pretty slow but it picked up on Saturday. She stayed all day on Saturday with her dad who was also showing some of his own art. Grace is the youngest member of this particular art guild and most of the artists have shown her lots of love and taken her under their wing so to speak. She helped pass out flyers at another venue, priced all of her work, interacted with artists and the general public that were attending the show. Grace also had the opportunity to meet a new friend and spend some time talking cosplaying, anime, etc. (all her favorite subjects). It was a great weekend all around for her. She sold four pieces of art and also acquired a commission to work on as one of the pieces had already sold that a patron wished to purchase. Thanks to all the family and friends that came out and supported Grace and Scott in this endeavor.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bible Study Journaling

As I mentioned in early posts the past 4-6 weeks have been really tough around here. I know all families go through tough times and ours is really no different than others out there, but to me it was all consuming. Hard to focus on daily tasks kind of tough times.
Something I started during this time was a new Bible study. The end of April was the last time I picked up me Bible to do any real studying and at that point I was attending a small women's Bible study group. I knew something needed to change and I desperately needed to get back to it.
You know how God shows Himself to you in different ways - well I feel that is exactly what He did when I stumbled across as Instagram account of a woman who journals about her Bible readings in a art journaling kind of way. She actually calls it Bible Marking - Journaling. It put a spring back in my step so to speak.
Something else that we have changed is routinely getting back in to attending Sunday morning worship. For the better part of the year our attendance has been sketchy for multiple reasons. We have found a new church that has great potential for our family. So basically some changes needed to be made and we are trying to do just that.
Life is slowly getting back to normal - taking it one day at a time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

TOS Review - Fortuigence - Essay Rock Star Personal Statement Writing Course

Fortuigence Review
Most homeschool parents will tell you that the two most dreaded subjects in their homes tend to be math and writing. In our home it is math. As Grace has matured, writing comes more easily to her and she doesn't dread it like she did in the elementary and middle school years, with the exception of writing about herself. Give her a topic to research and write about - no problem. Tell her to write a paper about herself and she gives you a deer caught in the head lights kind of look. I give you all this background information to show you why we chose to review Essay Rock Star Personal Statement Writing Course from Fortuigence when we were given the opportunity.
Fortuigence Review
Fortuigence is a new educational company brought to us by Lily Iatridis. She taught school in various locations over a ten year period before taking a break to stay home and raise a family. Ms. Iatridis has a bachelor and two master degrees to back up her expertise. Fortuigence offers online courses that the student can take, but still complete at their own pace. The classes are already completely uploaded. The teachers are ready to receive all assignments and give feedback to the students and parents. To me this is the best of both worlds. Grace is able to take an online class from another teacher but still complete it in her own time with what fits best to her schedule.
Currently Essay Rock Start Personal Statement Writing Course can be purchased for $57.00 and is recommended ideally for ages 12 - 18. We received this as an online class and used it as such. Grace typically worked on this three days a week and it took her about six weeks to finish. There were seven lessons with seven assignments to complete. Grace watched the video lesson, listened to the audio portion of the material, and printed out any needed resources on day one, then would start on the assignment the following day. After completing the assignment we would send the work in to be edited/checked/analyzed by Ms. Iatridis. She would then send back any corrections, encouragement, or recommendations by email before starting on the next lesson.
Fortuigence Review
We found everything about this process easy going and enjoyable. I very much liked the fact that someone else was evaluating Grace's writing skills. Ms. Iatridis was extremely prompt in emailing us back with what Grace needed to correct or change on each editing stage. The lessons were very easy to understand and the website was easy to navigate. I loved all the resources provided throughout the lessons. The capability to simply read over them or print them for later use was nice. I think what Grace got the most out of attending this class was the brainstorming ideas assignment and feedback from a teacher other than her mom. My only negative would be that a couple of the recordings may need to be a bit more polished where the teacher stumbled over a word or became tongue tied. Other writing courses they offer include: The Persuasive Essay, The Expository Essay, and The Textual Analysis.
I would not hesitate to recommend Fortuigence to a friend and I would definitely have Grace take another class in the future. Go check out what other Crew Members thought of this product as well.
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall Nature Walks are Fantastic

Lots of nature walks and activities have been happening around here. Not necessarily with Grace but she does join in on the fun periodically with us. Until today I haven't mentioned much if anything about the three 5th grade girls that come to my house three days a week for tutoring. I enjoy so much getting to relive these elementary years when school was still fun. Anyway, fall is such a wonderful time to be outdoors and watch God's splendor unfold. Last week we went on two nature walks and this week we will be doing the same. I am trying to identify everything we find but sometimes it is tough. The above picture was easier to identify than expected - Bursting Heart plant. Until today I had never seen this plant before.

Last week was all about sunflowers and pumpkins. Sunflowers have become my favorite thing in nature. They are beautiful, intricate, and lovely.

I still haven't been able to identify the bush with red berries. If anyone knows please chime in.

Our activity today was a fall color walk. Find four items from nature of different colors that you would normally find in fall. The girls did a great job and had a little fun in the process. It is always great to get outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine.