Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages {Homeschool Review}

Many years ago for homeschool families learning a new language was a bit difficult.  Nowadays, we have access to the world wide web, and we are only limited by our imagination.  I'm happy to share with you a wonderful online, foreign language learning program.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
My daughter, Autumn, has been enjoying learning Middle School Year French 1 (for grades 6-8) through Middlebury Interactive Languages.  We were given a full one year access!  This is a fun, easy, and interactive online course, and they have more than just French.  They also have Spanish, Chinese, and German.  The courses are divided up into elementary, middle school, and high school levels.  There's a little something for everyone.

Middlebury Interactive Languages focuses on the four key areas of language study: listening, speaking, reading and writing.  I felt they did an excellent job in balancing these areas, and was thrilled with how much my daughter learned in just a few weeks.

The lessons are broken up into two semesters for a total of 36 weeks.  They are divided up into sections such as teaching points, warm-up, matching, speaking lab, audio ID, grammar practice, cultural tidbits, and more. There are even quizzes, midterms, and finals.  My daughter did 1-2 lessons every day.  They take roughly 10 minutes.  

Each lesson allows your student to practice what they've learned.  I feel this is incredibly important aspect of learning a foreign language.  When I was in high school I learned sign language.  Only problem was I learned how to sign, but never had someone sign to me, and therefore I struggle to understand when someone is signing to me.  It's been fun listening to Autumn "talk" to the computer and then hear the person speaking to her.  I just love how the course is interactive. There are also printable vocabulary pages, which my daughter printed out and put them in her Paris notebook.

What I really liked about the program is that my daughter could do it independently. I actually struggled to write this review (I had to keep asking my daughter questions) because I didn't know much about the program.  I helped her do the initial set-up and then every morning she sat at my laptop and did her lessons independently.  For a busy mum, this has been so helpful!

Autumn's thoughts...
It's easy and fun. They explain stuff well. I can now most likely hold a simple conversation with someone in French. 

We are planning a trip to Paris next year to visit our friends who are living there.  I'm so glad Autumn has had the opportunity to learn French.  We will continue this course, and I am hoping to do some lessons as well.  That way I'm not entirely dependent on my daughter in Paris.  :)

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kid's Club Game Idea "Go Ye Into All the World"

I struggle with game ideas for our Kid's Club.  I feel we end up doing the same ones over and over.  I try to make the games somehow relate to our lesson, helping reinforce what they've learned.  We've been studying the life of Paul, and our theme verse has been Mark 16:15.

"Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel
to every creature."

I found a game idea with this verse in mind.  I made copies of the seven continents (which I found here).  Then I made a word document (as seen in photo) with the word "Gospel" and John 3:16 in red and blue.

The kids are divided into two teams (red and blue) and each are given the "Gospel" paper and they have to take turns (one by one, or even two by two, if you have more kids) taking the "Gospel" to every continent.  So one person will go put their "Gospel" paper on one continent and come back and tag the next person in line for them to go do the same.  The first team that has taken the "Gospel" to all seven continents wins!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {TOS Review}

Christmas is right around the corner!  We recently had the opportunity to review the digital downloads of  The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio collection by Todd Wilson.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
I first heard of The Familyman when I went to a homeschool convention many years ago.  I purchased several of his books, so I was excited to do a review for The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection.

We have added read alouds to our homeschool day, and it was fun to change it up a bit and add these "books on tape" as I kept referring to them and my kids had no clue what I was talking about!  There is just something fun about listening to audios.  I downloaded these to my phone so we could listen to them in the house or in the car.

Colouring while listening to audios.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection includes these stories:
  • Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster
  • Cootie McKay's Nativity
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
  • The Bishop's dream
  • The Stranger
We were also given two bonus ones to listen to - It's Called Christmas and The Secret of Snow Village.

I'll give you a brief description below of each of the stories in the collection:

Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster - 10 year old Jason is a tired of hearing of hearing the manger story over and over and pretends to blast it to pieces.  He is sent to bed early where he meets Captain Chaos and sees what would happen if there was no manger.

Cootie McKay's Nativity - The year was 1956 and they almost didn't have Christmas, but Cootie McKay, who didn't know much about Christmas but along with his new Bible he saved the day and it was the best Christmas they ever had.  (This is probably my favourite.)

Gladys Remembers Christmas - Such a sad but lovely story.  Gladys lost her mum when she was young, and was raised by a strict father who provided for them, but never showed love.  Gladys wasn't a fan of Christmas, but one day a visit to an old house changed everything for her.

Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest - Every year after Thanksgiving, Harold's father pulls out an ugly vest and wears it to church.  Find out why that vest is so important to Harold's father.

The Bishop's Dream - Where did the myth of Santa Claus come from?  This delightful audio will explain how Santa Claus came about.

The Stranger - How often do we turn our nose up to someone who is dirty and smells funny?  What if someone like that shows up at your church or your door asking for help?  Do you let them in?  Do you help?  This was a lovely story, and something we encounter on a regular basis here.  My kids enjoyed this one.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury is a wonderful collection of stories that point people to Christ.  Christmas is our favourite time of the year and what an amazing opportunity to speak to others about Christ when they are in the "Christmas Spirit".  As we celebrate Christmas we keep our focus on Him, and incorporate that in everything we do during the Holiday Season.  This Christmas Treasury will definitely be something we listen to again.

The Familyman's Todd Wilson said about his audio collection,  “As the father of eight children, I wanted Christmas stories that took longer than 5 minutes to read, didn’t confuse the truth with a tale, and above all, pointed my children to the Savior. I couldn’t find any, so I wrote my own. My hope is that Cootie McKay”s Nativity will give you gobs of snuggling time, Christmas enchantment, and will point your children to the manger year after year. ”

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Educeri ....... Educeri a division of DataWORKS {TOS Review}

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Educeri ....... Educeri a division of DataWORKS has over 1,000 ready to teach lessons on their Educeri Lesson Subcription Service, which we've been reviewing over the past few weeks.

When I heard over a thousand lessons I was immediately overwhelmed.  I thought it would be a bit intimidating and I didn't want to feel lost not knowing where to start.  But I was pleasantly surprised how well the website is organised, and everything was VERY easy to find.

Educeri has lesson plans for all grades, kindergarten through high school.    As you can see in the photo on the left, it has lessons for Math, Science, History, Art, and more.  It is easy to search by grade and by subject.

Educeri was designed for classrooms, but it's just as easy to use with one student. The lessons can be shown on an overhead for classrooms, or just displayed on your computer.  The lessons are fun and easy, and give step by step instructions with just a click of the mouse, very much like a PowerPoint presentation.  The best part - they are already done for you!

Educeri is not a complete curriculum, it provides supplemental lessons to aid in learning.

For homeschooling, we used the Educeri lessons to help fill in gaps where my kids are struggling and some we did just for fun.  This was great for me, as I'm not that creative and I'm often on Pinterest looking for ideas anyway.  I searched for a lesson that we wanted to do, printed out the student handout, and then followed the lesson plan as I show in the video below (being loaded now...coming soon!).  

While the lessons for my 3rd grader only took 30 minutes or so, the lessons for my 8th grader took closer to an hour, which we broke up over a few days.  I did the lessons with my 3rd grader, but my 8th grader could easily do them on her own.  The lessons are very thorough.  Their About Me page says they are "a group of educators, editors, graphic designers, grammar snobs, and math nerds who are passionate about providing top-notch education materials".  I can agree that their materials are top-notch.

The lessons do align with the Common Core.  We don't follow the Common Core, but it may be important to some of you.

For me personally, I did like the simplicity of looking up a lesson to use, but I don't think that we would use it all the time.  Our curriculum is pretty thorough, and when I do need something to help my kids I just do a quick Google or Pinterest search.  Like I mentioned earlier, Educeri is ideal for classrooms, but it can be used for homeschoolers or even homeschool co-ops.

If you want to give it a go there is a 30 day free trial and you get unlimited access to the 1,000+ lesson plans.  Click here for more information.

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Our New Homeschool Room!

We are in our tenth year of homeschooling.  I've always been a bit envious of friends who have a room devoted to homeschooling.  We've never had the extra space in the homes we have lived in to have a "homeschool room".  Even in the home we are living in now, I never dreamed we'd have a homeschool room.  We live in a 3 bedroom, elevated house.

This is an older photo of the house, we've done a few upgrades since this was taken.  Anyway, as you can see the downstairs area has a part that is closed in.  Last year my husband decided to close in a part of the closed in area to make a study/man cave/music room for himself.  After that was done, he had the idea of closing in the rest and having an extra room, then I had the idea of using that as a homeschool room!  

I can't quite remember when we started this project, but it was at least 6-7 months ago.  To say I have been anxious would be an understatement.  Ask our builder friend, he may tell you I was a bit of a nag.  While the building was happening though, I was dreaming on Pinterest.  Here are a few ideas I had pinned...

I loved the idea of a long desk with cabinets on top.

And now here is the before and after!

I'm in love!

The kid's desk.

My desk.
We are having an air con installed on this wall,
then I plan to get a large world map so we can plan our next adventures!


This makes my heart so happy!

The other side of the room.

The door to the left is my husband's room, the next door is a small closet, the door straight ahead is to the outside area with the lounge chairs, and the door to the right is a bathroom with a shower, sink, and toilet.  And there are glass sliding doors on the other side, so that's a total of 6 doors!!  Crazy, I know.  But I have a homeschool room, so who cares!

I am so thankful for a husband who listened to my dreams (and a bit of my nagging!) and made this happen.  We've done school at our dining room table for years, and we've made it work.  But to have a space devoted to learning is very exciting.  We've started school this week in the new room, so far so good!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sharing My Heart...

As I get older I am finding certain Scripture passages hold more meaning.  I guess that happens as life happens.  

Several weeks ago a lady in our church called and requested prayer for her husband who was being admitted to the hospital.  A short time later he was diagnosed with cancer.  Two Saturdays ago she called to let us know she had shared the gospel with him (as she had done many times before) and he accepted Christ as his Savior.  Things took a turn for the worse this past week, and Friday morning he went home to be with the Lord.  All I kept thinking of was this verse:

We had rejoiced with her when her husband accepted the Lord and we cried with her when he passed away.  And of course, are rejoicing that he is completely healed and in Heaven now with Jesus.

There are parts to being a pastor's wife that I'm not a big fan of.  Hospitals visits are one.  I have been to the hospital to visit people more in the past 5 years than I have in my entire life.  On Friday I sat with my friend as she sat next to her husband's body.  I shared some Scripture with her and prayed with her, but mainly I just sat and cried with her.  

Life is hard, but I am so thankful for good friends God sends along the way to do life with. God is good all the time, and He makes no mistakes.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Working It Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert {TOS Review}

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
I had the privilege to review Working It Out: Growing Spiritually with the Poetry of George Herbert written by Joseph L. Womack and available for puchase at Everyday Education.  Although I'm not a big fan of poetry, I was intrigued when it was written primarily as a devotional.
This is a one year study/devotional that takes you through 51 works of the great 17th-century Christian poet, George Herbert. 
In Working it Out we see for each poem:
1.   The Big Picture: a general idea of what the poem is about.
2. The Parts of the Picture: a stanza-by-stanza explanation of the poem.
3.   The Parts of the Picture Come Together: a look at the movement of thought through the poem.
4.   Reflections: questions for personal meditation.
5.   Scriptures for further reflection.
I have enjoyed studying these poems.  I did roughly one a week.  There are 51 poems and as mentioned, it's designed to be a year long study.  You can put as much time and effort into that you would like.  The more effort, the more you with everything.
The idea of the study is to read through the poem (several times would be good), and then after each poem is 1. The Big Picture, 2. The Parts of the Picture, 3. The Parts of the Picture Come Together, 4. Reflections, and 5. Scripture references for further reflection.  You can do these all in one day, or as I did you can divide these steps up throughout your week, even doing one a day during your quiet time.
Here is a list of how the poems are divided (themes)...
  • Looking Back, Moving Forward
  • Letting Go
  • Confession
  • Grace
  • Separation
  • Petition
  • Praise
  • Depending on God
  • Grief
  • Prayer
  • Special Blessing on the Church
  • More Insights (on things like Rebellion, Anxiety, the Bible, etc.)
Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
To sum up my thoughts, I enjoyed the devotional and reading through the poems.  If you're like me when you read poetry and your response is "huh?", this would be a beneficial devotional.  As much as I would love to be just like Anne (of Green Gables) and memorize long poems and be able to quote them verbatim from a stage while dressed in a beautiful dress with puffy sleeves, in all reality, it's just not going to happen.  So, this is probably as close as I'll get.  :)  I've gone through several of the chapters, and enjoyed learning more about the poems.  I don't know that I will continue through the book, but for someone who is interested in studying poetry this would be a fantastic help.

Interested in reading a sample?  Click here.
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