Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Name Changer




Josiah is struggling with being called…Josiah.

He doesn’t feel like his name is cool enough. He has been begging us to call him something else.
Eli Manning.

True Story. {Though I do have it on good authority that he wouldn’t mind being called Peyton if Eli doesn’t work out}.

I happen to know that many kids feel that way at one time or another. I, myself, wanted my parents to change my name to Gwendolyn Raquel.

Gwendolyn sounded so much more glamorous. Gwendolyn would have glorious hair…free of the fuzz. She would have 20/20 vision and not have to wear ridiculous coke bottle glasses on her small face. Gwendolyn would know all the cool things to say. She wouldn’t be awkward. She would also live on a horse farm and have a closet full of parachute pants and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.

I eventually grew more comfortable with some of who “Rebekah” was. Rebekah’s hair generally a disaster..though there was that brief time in the early ‘90’s that she had some good hair days. She eventually got contacts. The coke bottle glasses made an exit in her teens. She still didn’t have all the cool words to say…in fact, the older she got the more “random” she became. She eventually realized, however, that there were worse things to be. Random was, at least, entertaining. The horse farm never happened…thankfully. She realized that horses (like the cows, pigs and chickens her father raised) pooed. She also decided that a closet full of parachute pants would be just plain ridiculous.

Instead, she decided that shoes and purses were the objects of her affection. And as many dangly earrings as she could get her family to purchase for her (this is not at all a hint for future Christmas presents). 

Rebekah also decided that a name doesn’t make a person. And the more she thought about it the more she understood that her name was one she could wear with honor. At least it wasn’t like everyone else’s.

Josiah was named after a king in the Old Testament. The Josiah of the Bible become a king at the ripe old age of 8. He was known for being a good king in lineage of some buggers.

As my Josiah approaches his awkward/awesome teen years I hope he will become the best version of himself he can be. I hope he will never become ashamed of the truly unique person he is. 

Of course, I realize that these things are a part of growing up. And I probably have a bit more to do of that myself.



A TOS Review: Fix It! Grammar


So how’s your/you’re grammar?

I have had my share of grammar instruction over the years. Obviously, I don’t remember most of it.

On the whole, I approve of grammar. I also want to make sure that Josiah has a strong grammar education.  As opposed to most of the known universe.

Did I just say that?

One of my favorite homeschooling resource companies is Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).



Have I mentioned that I (on occasion) have been an Andrew Pudewa stalker?

Don’t worry, Andrew. I’m harmless. Mostly.

Andrew didn’t write the product I am going to talk about today. Pamela White has blessed this special product upon the homeschool world.

I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree (Book 1) Teacher Manual ($19) and the Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree Student Book ($15).

 It seemed like a match made in grammar heaven.


What I Received


Both books are spiral bound and have sturdy glossy covers. Both books contain helpful grammar glossaries.

How Does It Work?

Fix It! Grammar has six levels. Each book teaches grammar sentence by sentence through six different classic tales or stories.

Book 1 uses The Nose Tree by the Brother’s Grimm tale.

IEW does have a placement test on their site. This was a big help. I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out.

Here is a basic list.

Book 1 – The Nose Tree
Book 2 – Robin Hood
Book 3 – Frog Prince, or Just Desserts
Book 4 – The Little Mermaid
Book 5 – Chanticleer
Book 6 – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


It is recommended to begin with Book 1. Each book builds upon the other. Of course, if you feel like your student is ready for a more advanced book you can start there.

The concept for this whole program is just brilliant.

The idea is that students learn more when the sentences are in context. Sentence by sentence the students implements the concepts he or she is learning. They learn by editing a classic tale. 

There are 4 lessons a week and 33 weeks in each book. This should take you through a year. 

You can listen to this FREE Webinar that talks all about Fix It! Grammar.

How We Used It

I have a confession. I like diagramming sentences. I had a teacher in the 6th grade who was a diagramming fanatic. I think it has honestly helped me become a better writer. Knowing the structure of a sentence has been a beneficial. Editing random posts on Facebook has also been helpful...though I have trouble editing my own stuff. So this program works well for us. 

 I chose to start with Book 1 because while Josiah has had some grammar instruction I felt like it would beneficial for him to start at the beginning of the program. I had a feeling this might be one we stick with for the long haul.



At the beginning of my Teacher’s Guide was a list of ways to get some free downloads. One of those downloads was a link to the student guide. If you had a larger group this would be the way to go. The free links are an online Student Book 1 e-book, Mastery Learning e-audio, and But...But.....But.....What About Grammar? e-audio.

As it is, I am glad we have the separate student book.

Along with the student book Josiah needed a divided notebook and a student dictionary.



The obvious thing would be to add a few dividers to his big notebook, but I decided to go the unobvious route. I just got a simple spiral notebook and put dividers in it myself. Josiah has difficulty writing in his 3-ring-binder (he is left-handed) and it is easier to keep his student notebook and the spiral notebook together.

At the back of his student book are grammar cards. I cut these out and put them in an envelope. I attached the envelope to his spiral notebook so he could keep track of them. He was able to lay the cards out every day to remind him of any particular grammar rule.

This was a very simple program to understand. There are 4 days of exercises for each week. Each day the student will work on one sentence in the story.

I’ll show you how Josiah’s first week went.

The first week, Josiah learned about nouns, homophones and end marks.

On Day 1 we read through the lesson explaining what grammar components would be highlighted for the week.


He first had to take note of the paragraph indentation.



He then to identify the word written in bold. This was his vocabulary word. He recorded it in his spiral notebook and looked it up in the dictionary. It was important for him to read the word in context so he could choose the definition that fit the best.



Josiah then had to find the nouns that were in the sentence. Some of the choices weren’t as obvious. 

For example, there were a few times he identified a pronoun. Of course, this was correct, but I explained that we would save that lesson for another day. He simply had to choose a noun.


Josiah also had to choose which end mark to apply to the sentence.



The last step on Day 1 was to copy the corrected sentence into his notebook.


Just a note: Josiah struggles with his handwriting. However, this is a task we haven't abandoned because it's difficult. I require that he does his best. His best is a bit better than what you see above. I appreciate that the rewriting involved is not overwhelming for him. I think he needs the practice. 

Day 2 threw in a new concept. Homophones. Josiah had to identify the correct version of there/their/they’re to use.

Perhaps we need to make this particular task a worldwide Facebook assignment.
Just Sayin’….

By the end of the week, Josiah had the first part of the story written out in his notebook.

Each week additional grammar nuggets are added. The Teacher's Manual contains helpful insight all along the way. 





My Thoughts

This is product is absolutely user-friendly. I have had no trouble figuring out the “lay of the land.” Not only that, it only takes up a brief chunk of our time each day. I don’t have to spend a great amount preparing for a lesson.

Josiah hasn’t been overwhelmed with pages of busy work. He is learning…one sentence a time. It is easy for my dyslexic boy to get lost in long passages and lengthy instructions.

He also struggles with handling pages and pages of copywork. He knows that he is only required to write out one sentence. He can concentrate on doing his best with that ONE sentence.

I like that Fix It! Grammar includes old-fashioned dictionary skills. Josiah loves learning new words (ironically), but can get overwhelmed with long lists of vocabulary words. Finding one word a day is perfectly doable for him.

Both the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Book are easy to manage. They are lightweight and can be stuck in a backpack or book bag for a weekend at Grandma’s.

Can you tell that I think this one is a keeper?  I can't wait until we learn more about commas. I need, a refresher, can you tell?

You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below.

You can also check out IEW on the following social media sites.












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Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Terrific Giveaway! And some help for talking to those teens :<)

Hello my friends! I love bringing to you fantastic giveaways. This one is no exception. I am currently on the launch team for The Family Toolbox. I am not only using it with my soon- to- be teen at home, but using it as church as well. I have been working with kids/teens all of my adult life. I didn't except the challenge of raising one of my own to be so...well...challenging. I am appreciating the wisdom and the opportunity for discussion that Josiah and I are having with this program.

What is it?

 The Family Toolbox is a DVD/video-driven program that brings parents and teens together for constructive dialogue around significant issues of discipleship. Conversation is sparked by engaging video clips. Sixteen Life Success Principles are communicated through eight lessons that give parents and teens biblically-based, practical topics for discussion. The format grabs teens and gets them interacting. The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away. Family Toolbox Giveaway I am excited to be joining with the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) to bring you a wonderful giveaway to celebrate the release of the Family Toolbox.  The giveaway includes a $50 Amazon Gift Card + a bundle of biblical parenting resources from NCBP, including: 

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.  The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. 

Cultivating Responsibility: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 9-12 Years

The later elementary age years are among the greatest times to build responsibility in children. Heart transformation takes place when parents use other tools than behavior modification. Sometimes though, bad attitudes, disrespect, and a lack of cooperation can muddy the waters. You’ll want to learn from the experts how best to navigate these years. Your children are making significant developmental leaps in their cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual growth. Understanding how best to help children through these years is essential.

Family Heart Moments

The Family Heart Moments book is a treasure. Over 70 inspirational true stories from parents who are eager to connect with their children's hearts. The heart is a special place in the life of a child. You don't want to miss it. This book will give you practical ideas for touching your kids in the deepest place.

Family Time Activity for Teens

Teenagers are in an exciting time of life. They're learning a lot about themselves and the world, and they need lots of spiritual guidance. The activities and applications in this book are designed specifically for teens. The object lessons and games are captivating and the biblical lessons are timeless. Walking Billboards, Fear Factor, and Gender Differences, are just a few of the titles. Nineteen lessons are included, all unique and powerful. Make Family Time a regular part of your family's spiritual growth. 

Learning About Sex: Love, Sex, and God

In a natural, conversational style, this book answers tough questions that help teens separate sex and love facts from myths. Straight facts on dating, marriage, sex, and sexually transmitted diseases are presented here.

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes, in You and Your Kids

It affects the way people think, the way they act, and the way they treat others around them. Honor motivates parents to treat children differently. It gives children more constructive ways to interact with their parents. It helps siblings develop tolerance and patience. Honor builds incredibly strong bonds that, in turn, benefit all members of the family. This book shows you in practical ways and shows how honor can transform your family. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is open internationally to those age 18 and older. a Rafflecopter giveaway   Also, please join us for The Family Toolbox Facebook Party on Thursday, October 16, 8-10PM ET where there will be even more great prizes, an opportunity to ask your parenting questions, and lots of fun and fellowship! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party! RSVP for the Party here: https://www.facebook.com/events/876232019055940/ Family Toolbox Facebook Party

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Update



This is just a little note from my corner of the universe.
This week in the Ozarks is gawgeous.
I had a bit of a “oh no! what have I done!” moment on Saturday.
The mailman knocked on my front door with a lovely package with something in it to review. At the time I was perched on the couch with my laptop. I am not even sure what I was doing. Something vital to the health and vitality of my family (I’m sure of it). When he knocked I jumped and my laptop when sliding off into the floor.
I busted it.
When I took it in to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, the young man mournfully told me that it would be cheaper to replace the thing.
We didn’t buy a warranty plan on it.
Bum.mer.
I don’t know if any of you are fans of “Chuck.” It was the series on television about the “accidental spy” who worked at a store called Buy More…which was supposed to be like a Best Buy.
I do have to admit that my overactive imagination did a bit of overtime. What if the CIA actually had a secret operation right there at my Best Buy? Does the CIA even allow their agents to wear those big ole ear plugs. You know the ones. They look like the ends of their earlobes have been stretched over bottle caps.
Back to my computer.
I’m currently using The Muffin’s desk top. Josiah also uses it. Which means he has come in every 5 minutes asking if he can look up some sort of football thing on Youtube.
What is this football you speak of?
I don’t know how I manage to be living with such sports fanatics. I really could care less.
Anyhoo. We are getting the computer thing taken care of. Hopefully.
Meanwhile.  
I started my week off right. The Studly Muffin woke me up early Monday morning and we headed to the Y.
It was great to get my workout out of the way.
I didn’t have a million excuses to think of that early in the morning.
In better news, Bertha the Buick is fixed. Did I mention I have been without my car for 2 weeks?
That, my friends, is a whole saga in itself.
The remainder of the week holds some fun for us. Josiah and I are going with some friends on a field trip to the George Washington Carver National Monument. We have been several times. It actually is one of the best national parks we’ve been to. And it’s free! Our friends have never been so we feel like we are showing them around one of our favorite places.
Then we are going to head into Joplin and spend a little time volunteering at the Nursing Home. It’s actually something Josiah loves to do.
Well. That’s about all I have. Actually, I do have more. However, someone is anxious to look up some sort of football thingie.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Terrific Discount Codes for Creative Freewriting Adventure

{This post contains an affiliate link}

A few wees ago, I posted my review for Creative Writing Adventure.

It is still being used in our Homeschool.

Because this is a brand new product, Home School Adventure Co. is offering offering Creative Freewriting Adventure at 25% off for the print version and 50% off of the digital copy. 

Just click on the banner below and use the codes. (cfa-fb-25 for print and cfa-fb-50 for digital).


http://www.homeschooladventure.com/affiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=1105

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A TOS Review: My Student Logbook




We have been making strides in our efforts to make Josiah more responsible for keeping track of his day to day activities.
He is a kiddo (almost a teenager!) who needs structure. Sadly, while his mama needs structure, she (which means me) is kind of Loosie Goosie. I am always on the lookout for products that will help me with homeschool organization.
I have previously used just a notebook for Josiah to keep track of his assignments, etc. However, I have found that it can get fairly messy and organized.
I recently had a chance to review My Student Logbook.
I was intrigued from the moment I saw it in action (you can take a peek at this Youtube video). Josiah was allowed to pick from several My Student Logbook choices. He chose Jets. My husband was in the Air Force and we have family who still serve in that particular brand of the Armed Forces. I knew it would probably be the one he went for. 

http://mystudentlogbook.com/



What is My Student Logbook exactly?
It is a very efficient student planner.  It is extremely easy to use. Josiah is 12 and in 7th grade this year. This was a great fit for him. It is recommended for grades 2 and up.
The Logbooks are spiral bound and have a plastic cover. They are 8x11 so they will fit in easily with notebooks, etc. The Logbooks cost $15.
You can choose from:
Undated (the user fills in the calendar dates) - This was my choice.
Dated (August 2014-August 2015)
Calendar Year (January-December 2015)
PDF (any of the versions above- might be a difference in price)
The book includes the blank Checklist and Calendar pages (more on that in a minute), an All About Me section, Prayers and Goals, a spot to record all of the Bible Verses Memorized, Reading Log, A page to record all of the Field Trips, etc., Test Records and Year Highlights.

http://mystudentlogbook.com/

How We Used It
I will tell you how I set Josiah up for success.
I first read through the easy instructions located in the first couple of pages.
I tore out a Checklist page. There is some cutting involved, but I managed just fine. No one was hurt.


I wrapped it around a blank Calendar Page and then taped the back as recommended.




I then just wrote out Josiah’s subjects. It bothered me that I had to scratch through my very first line...but then I got over it.

 Our school day is divided up between what Josiah and I do together and then what he does independently. I could be a bit more vague with what we did together and then more specific with what he was responsible for.



 You can see that there are plenty of spaces (20!) on the Checklist page. There is also a space marked “Time.” I used this feature with some of Josiah’s independent work.  It worked quite well.



 He could see for himself that he needed to read 20 minutes; not 10. Anybody try that at your house?


The first week we used it I made more an effort to block out those days Josiah didn't need to worry about certain subjects. For example, He only works on his History Timelines and State Notebook once a week.

I then decided that I will not block the days out. Instead, I will give Josiah the option of what day he would like to complete those tasks. He has to have those things done by Friday.



Because there is plenty of space, I found that I could add some other reminders. I do write down a list of chores on the white board every morning. He also knows that every day he needs to shower, brush his teeth and put on deodorant. I just made a spot he could mark it down. He thrives with structure and My Student Logbook made it easier.


Another feature is a spot for notes that can be found under the Checklist flap. I think this could be used for extra assignments, etc.



I found this product to be extremely user friendly. Especially for my dyslexic boy. It was easy for him to follow. He enjoyed checking off his subjects. I think it helped that he could see what he accomplished throughout his day.
I think this product would be helpful with almost any age of student. As long as he or she can follow a list. For those of you who have High School students there is a whole section in the book about creating transcripts.

I really love this product.  It will be something we use for some time.

You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below. 
Check out My Student Logbook out!





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