Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Little Update about the House and our Growing Mini-Homestead

So about a month ago we purchased our new house. YEAH!!The plan was to move things slowly into our new home while still "living" in our rental house. There's about a 20 minute drive between the two.

Audrie riding Nugget.
However, that's not exactly what we've done. We sort of moved enough beds (or mattresses) over to the new house and since it was SO MUCH closer to everything (work, horseback riding, karate/skating) we decided to sleep here and still commute back to the rental several times a week taking loads to the new house.

We also decided this would be best so as not to have to pay for our pups at the rental to save some money that way (we had been paying extra for them each month.) We also inherited 2 bunnies (who we quickly found out were a boy and a girl in the SAME CAGE - which we rectified quite quickly) and chickens (8 hens and 2 roosters).  Needless to say we've been learning A LOT!

Then right after the closing school started back which meant my husband was back to work and my eldest (just turned 16 on the 27th of last month) was taking some dual enrolled classes at the local community college AND we start getting back into our regular school year studies. [As a lot of you know, we school year round so our start/stops aren't as easily delineated, but the schedule changes and morphs to fit the new year and new interests.]  So just all around adjustments.

We've also been moving in boxes, painting (took 2 weeks to paint the kitchen cabinets and such to a color to match our dininr room table and some minor tweaks to the room), organizing, and figuring out where things were going to go. Not to mention I had 2 birthday parties (both daughters are born within 2.5 weeks of each other and now I have a 16 and 14 year old!) AND hubby's birthday is around the corner (on the 27th). So this IS the busiest time of year for us and we added on buying a house and moving onto it. Lucky us!
Part of the 5 course Vegan 'fancy' dinner she requested.

How can she be 16 already!

But even with all this going on, I do feel lucky, blessed, loved, and excited for what the future holds. We've lived in our new location in Indiana for a year now and we are finally getting into a solid routine, know some new people and friends, going to a church that is solid and serving in the community.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Online Times Alive by City Creek Press, Inc. ~~ A New TOS Review!!

Multiplication facts are one of THE most imprtant things a student learns in the elementary years. So why make it boring when you can learn math tables the fun way by using an Online Times Alive subscription from by City Creek Press, Inc.!  Since my son, Seanan, has struggled to really memorize his facts I was hoping that the 6 month subscription we received to review the Online Times Alive program would really cement the facts by using the songs and dittys to spark his memory every time he came across one of the harder facts he struggles to KNOW.

Online Times Alive program focuses on teaching your child their multiplication facts from 0 - 9 by using a variety of silly songs, stories, and cartoons to make learning their facts fun. It also uses both visual clues in the cartoons and stories along with mnemonic devices to help cement the facts into the child's memory. The stories use characters that are made to look like the number they are trying to memorize.
visual clues for 6x6 with song words on top

the answer is silly too (thirsty sixes)

He's enjoying the songsand cartoons.

So how does it work? First you login to the program. One word of caution, make sure your child logs in the same way every time. If your child uses a capital letter for the first letter and the rest are in lowercase and the next time they are all lowercase it will appear that your child has no progress. That happened a few times to my son. The program is very easy to use and once it's saved or bookmarked most children can find and use the site all on their own. So I wasn't aware that he was having some issues remembering his original login. Once we figured that out we were able to see his actual progress and he didn't feel like he was always going back to the beginning to start the lessons again.
taking the initial test
As soon as you login you see the lesson list. Here is my son's the last time I remembered to catach a screen shot.

Lesson list that you see when you login.
You can see in each of the lessons there is variety. Along the way there are also some timed tests or quiz so that progress can be assessed.


progress report with the quiz grade

As you can see it is very visual and because of this holds the attention of your student. However, I don't think it should be done just one time through. There is a way to "clear" the tests and quizzes. I might have to do that again once we get to the end, which we are almost there, because I feel my son is still struggling with a few facts - like 6x7 or 7x8. Others he has solidly.
progress report

The online subscription is just $9.95 a month which is a great price since you can use it for all your children as long as they are using it on the SAME computer. There is also a $6.95 one time sign up fee.  I found a coupon code that you can use to waive the sign up fee - use the code lovetolearn

Here's a little video to show you a little more about the program.

You can also find City Creek Press, Inc. on Facebook, You Tube, and Instagram.

I also encourage you to check out the other reviews from our Homeschool Review Crew by clicking the link below. Some of them even reviewed the Times Alive App which allows you to take learning on the go!

Online Times Alive {City Creek Press, Inc. Reviews}

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades by Zeezok Publishing ~~ A New TOS Review!!

I was super excited when I found out that we'd be part of a new review of a homeschool music program which would allow us to cover 7 composers including Frederick Chopin, Brahams, and Tchaikovsky (one of my favorites!) Zeezok Publishing is the creator of Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades and their goal is to offer quality materials that cover a range of educational needs including music, penmanship, literature, and even film studies that they call Z-guides.

One of the first things I noticed in our set was that the book is the collection both meets and exceeds the national standards required for music appreciation for the middle school grades (5th - 8th). That is exciting to me! I am a music lover ... so is my husband ... but it's so hard to find good quality music theory and appreciation wrapped into one. But the Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades does just that - you get to learn about some of the most influential and well-known composers, listen to their music, learn music theory (about notes, rests, rhythym, time signatures, and much more), and even read music.

In the set we received a Student Workbook and nine biographical readers (both Chopin and Thaikovsky have 2 books to cover their lives). We were also asked to download a QR Reader app that would allow us to scan the QR codes to listen to the music of these composers. There were also additional QR codes to be scanned in the Student Workbook for links to other websites with additional information - like history of Poland or an interactive quiz. While you go through the Student Workbook your child is encouraged to write down some of the activities in what they call a Journal Notebook.
Journal Entry from student workbook
They also mention a Lapbook. which is sold separately. This would be great for those students who are really crafty or like to work with their hands. There is also a Coloring Book that could be purchased separately for your more artsy students or younger ones that focus on scenes from the books. My middle daughter, the main reviewer of this program, asked if she could color the pictures in the book and we told her SURE! She hasn't completed one yet, but she plans to work on the books after we finish reading them so she's started on Chopin: the Early Years  since we have completed the book.

In the Table of Contents you see that each book has been alloted 4 weeks. Within those 4 weeks the activities have been divided among those weeks. They mark all the activites that are required to meet national standards with an asterik [*] so they are easy to spot. You can do all of them, some of them, or even give different students different activities based on their age, since this is easily adapted to multiple ages being taught at the same time.

We began this program with only one student (8th/9th) really interested, but my son (who's in 5th) kept hanging around while we were doing the readings. He also liked listening to the songs. I didn't have him work on any of the activities in the student book, but I think he could certainly do that, he would just need a little more help since his handwriting isn't the best and writing sometimes takes him a bit longer. My daughter and I had an agreement that the longer answers I'd transcribe for her since she has trouble sometimes fitting in her answers on the provided lines. We also found a notebook to make into her Journal and she wrote all of those activities in her notebook.
Working on comprehension questions
using the book to write down the answers

As I said earlier each reader is scheduled for 4 weeks - the first book Frederick Chopin: Early Years, has 5 weeks. The other composers are Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Stephen Foster, Johannes Brahams, Peter Tchiakovsky, and Edward MacDowell, and are written by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher. They are fantastic biographical stories about the lives of these composers that also include black and white drawings scattered throughout the story along with musical pieces written by the composers. The size and font is also easy to read for younger eyes or those who aren't a fan of reading as much. The stories are true, engagin, and cover many interesting facts and tidbits of each composers life story. Each book is about 150 pages in length. In our set we recevied 7 as paperback and one hardback and one as an e-book.
A song in another book with the QR code right next to it makes it
super easy ]to scan and listen during the reading.

The Student Workbook is 3 hole punched which would make it easy to add into a binder as well as being preforated.  At the beginning of each book study there's a glance of what you will cover in the 4 (5) weeks. Each lesson will cover a few of the same things - reading the chapter, answering comprehension questions, discovering character qualities of the composer, tidbits of interest from the reading, but they go into more detail; and then learning some musical information (note types, rest types, musical vocabulary, info about the orchestra, pitch, posture and breathing, composing, learning how to listen to music and much, much more!).
Student Workbook
Tidbits of Interest
Matching activity and a journal entry
Then in each of the chapters there are other interesting pieces of informations from maps, geography, culture, recipes and food, mazes, timelines and loads of other fun activities spanning the spectrum of learning.

While reading the Chopin book we learned that a traditional Polish Christmas dinner was 12 courses! My daughter has decided we should do that especially since I am a little bit Polish! LOL!

First story we read.
Christmas in Poland is 12 courses and no meat!
We also decided we were going to make the poppy seed cake, but we didn't have all the ingredients on hand, especially since we were moving to our new house and half of our items are at the old house still. But that's the plan for desert this weekend (last weekend we would have done it but it was my eldest's 16th birthday and my younger daughter didn't want to intettupt her celebration). There's a spice cookie recipe when we get to MacDowell and a recipe to make Russian Sausage when we learn about Tchaikovsky! She loves cooking so these are what she's most looking forward to doing while we continue the studies.
This I think will be a family favorite!
I love that the lessons engage the child and are done in such a way that they are interesting, true, and really teach the subject of music as a whole, the way we all should learn it.

Music in the story
I love the inclusion of the QR codes. While we were reading in Chopin when we came across the music we'd grab the student book and scan the code and pause to listen to the piece that we just learned about. My daughter was enamored how young Chopin was when he first started playing piano, especially since she's only been playing herself for a little while and she's about double his age! She also was excited that Go Tell Aunt Rhody was in the book because that's one of the songs she's learning to play!
screenshot from my phone of a scanned QR code
See that QR code in the middle of the page!!

There were/are other QR codes that lead to websites with additional information about the composer, his geographical location or a place that was connected to them or just general information about the time period. They really help make the books and information come alive.  All the QR codes for the music are listed in the front of the book for easy use and you can listen to them anytime, not just during the reading. You do not HAVE to have the app to listen to the music because there's a link to all the tracks on the website, but I think it makes it much easier.

QR codes at the front of the Student Workbook
You can find a sample of the Chopin lessons and see all of what I discussed for yourself. Just click the link at the bottom of the description - it's in tiny print. You can also find Zeezok Publishing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram. I personally have really enjoyed these books and the program as a whole. I hope to be able to go back and purchase Music Appreciation Book 1 to go along with Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades and have the complete set. I also think we're going to go through the Z-guides and see if there are any that complement my high schooler's history or Enlgish for this year.

As always I'm only one of MANY other reviewers so be sure to check out the other reviews of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking the link below!

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades {Zeezok Publishing Reviews}

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Worship Wednesday - Oceans

With Hurricane Dorian hanging around the east coast I thought I keep hearing water songs. I love this one. I hope you do too!

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