Thursday, August 28, 2014

Essential Skills Advantage {TOS Review}

Essential Skills Advantage ReviewTrying to teach your child to read is one of the most rewarding experiences as a homeschool parent, yet it can also be the most intimidating!   Besides the initial fear of teaching your child to read, you have to decide how you will teach him/her.  Thankfully there are many great curriculums out there.  Essential Skills Advantage is one of those with the bonus that it is entirely online!

We were given a full year's subscription (the Premium Plan) to Essential Skills Advantage that included all levels.  Membership is $9.99 a month per child.  It is ideal for children in Kindergarten through grade 6.   

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Here is some helpful information regarding Essential Skills Advantage.  The program was designed by a team of experienced teachers and educators to help children in grades K-6 to become strong readers.  There are over 20,000 reading and language activities.  They provide your child with the competitive edge over other students.  Their curriculum is inline with curriculum requirements.  It has been identified as beneficial to students with learning challenges from ADHD to Autism. 

I used Essential Skills Advantage for my six year old son.  He is currently is grade 1 and is not quite reading.  My son enjoyed the activities, and it wasn't a chore for him to do school.  I would think the curriculum makes a great supplement, as I would still prefer he do some written work such as writing the letters and words.

One of the things it helped us focus on was sight words.  This is something we have been working on, and he really excelled in this area because of the program.  We supplemented with hand-written flash cards.

The program tracked everything my son did, and I could check his progress at any time.  It kept track of his grades, the length of time it took him to complete an activity, how many times he got a problem incorrect, the date and time, etc.  I really loved this aspect.  I sat with him while he did most of the activities, but if I stepped away I could tell if he was just clicking the button to get through it quick or if he was applying himself and trying.

My eleven  year old daughter did a few of the activities as well.  She doesn't always enjoy using the computer for school, but she did enjoy the activities that she chose. Probably because it wasn't forced on her made it more enjoyable.  :)

So overall, I think it's a great price for $9.99 per month (see below for a code to make it even cheaper!) or try the free version (more info below).   There are many activities to choose from and I don't see your child getting bored any time soon!

Also, as a bonus, if you are interested in the premium plan (the one I reviewed), you can get 50% off the monthly membership fee when you use the code TOS50.  This code is good until October 1, 2014 and the discount will apply as long as you remain a member.  So that means you pay $4.99 a month for each student.

And even better - Essential Skills Advantage has recently offered a sponsored version of their program that is FREE, yes completely free.  You can access the courses that Essential Skills Advantage has to offer, the only string attached is that there is sponsored advertising and not every available feature is accessible.  It's still worth a try.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Just a thought for you today...

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Meet Skully

We're studying bones this term, and I found this little skeleton online.  We are having lots of fun learning about bones.  In a few weeks, I'll post a review of all we've learned, and share links of all the printables we're using!

Lots of Sydney photos coming soon!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Kids Songs {TOS Review}

Happy Kids Songs Review

We are a music loving family.  I love blasting music to a song my kids know well and we all sing as loud as we can!  Although most of our music is Christian, that doesn't mean all it's solemn and holy, or dare I say, boring..  :)  There are some great Christian audio cd's that have stories and songs that are very catchy and fun to sing!  My kids are very familiar with hymns and they're a favourite around our house, too. 
We were pleased to recently reviewed Happy Kids Songs.  We were given a download of Friends & Sharing (set 1),  Manners & Character (set 6), and Happiness & Attitude (set 7).  We also received the Happy Kids Songs Workbook that goes along with the songs.  These songs cover issues that are common to children ages 4-8.
There are 8 award-winning albums (volumes), each one has 5 songs.  These songs are great ways to boost kids' character, emotional, and social skills.  Here are the three we reviewed:

Happy Kids Songs ReviewHappy Kids Songs ReviewHappy Kids Songs Review
Happy Kids Songs Review
The downloads are $4.95 per volume (there are 8 volumes).  The workbook list price is $13.95.

The workbook is 125 pages.  In the book is lyrics for each of the 40 songs by Dr. Mac & Friends and hands-on activities to build character, social, and emotional skills.  It's ideal for ages 3-8.

There are fun activities or colouring pages for each song.  It was fun to learn a song and have a coloring page to go along with it.

My kids have had to say good-bye to some friends recently.  So the song "Together" fit perfectly with their feelings.  The song teaches kids that being with friends make us happy, sometimes it's hard to say good-bye, and good friends are always together in their hearts.  The activity that went with this song was for your child to draw a picture of someone special to you.

I think it's so important for kids to realize that others are going through the same thing they are.  They are not alone.  When our friends and my brother left (my brother visit us for 3 months), I felt it was important to let them know they can be sad about it,  I was.  Not only was their uncle going back home, but it was my brother too.  We live on the other side of the world from my family.  We can't just get in a plane and see them in a few hours.  It's a huge trip!  Saying good-bye to friends and family is tough.  I love that we can sing our thoughts or emotions in song.  (Which is a great thing about singing Scripture!)

The songs are written by Dr. Mac.  Dr. Mac is a child psychologist, school consultant, lecturer, and award-winning songwriter.  He is also the writer and director of music for the PBS hit, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, one of our favorites!

Here are some topics that are covered:
Volume 1: Friends  & Sharing
Shyness, Reaching out, How to Blend In, Not Being Bossy, and Dealing with Good-Byes
Volume 2: Social Skills & Bullying
Dealing with Bullies, Sibling Rivalry, Including Others, Honoring Differences, and Sharing Parent Attention
Volume 3: Feelings & Fears
Anxiety, Meltdowns, Facing Fears, Managing Upsets, and Unwanted Thoughts
Volume 4: Practice & Success
Reaching out, positive thinking, Trying new things, Adapting to change, Learning from mistakes
Volume 5: Talking & Listening
Resolving conflict, Being assertive, Speaking nicely, Tools for listening, Talking feelings out
Volume 6: Manners & Character
Lying, The Golden Rule, Respect for others, Accepting differences, Rudeness and manners
Volume 7: Happiness & Attitude
Being thankful, Positive thinking, Paths to happiness, Handling frustration, and Time together/time apart
Volume 8: Respect & Responsibility
Helping out, Scapegoating, Respect for others, Acting responsibly, and Respect for Possessions
penny for your thoughts: wishing

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo {TOS Review}

Wizzy Gizmo Review

Wizzy Gizmo.  What is Wizzy Gizmo?!  Wizzy Gizmo is a great collection of Bible books, Bible audio dramas, Bible flashcards and much more!  Wizzy Gizmo is all geared toward kids with the purpose - "Equipping children for life by exploring God's Word."

We were given the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament to review.  This pack has 27 cards.  A card for each book of the New Testament with a summary, key chapters and passages, doctrines, and people.  They sell for $14.99 and are for all ages. 

"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Wizzy Gizmo Review
Who wrote Matthew?  What is the key passages?  When was it written?  How many chapters does it have?   What is the theme?  These are fun, yet important facts that are good to know.

The Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament Series is a great way to teach your kids (and yourself!) specifics about each book of the New Testament.  We loved spending time each morning before school going over a card each week (and took time to review).  The first day, I would just read the information on the front of the card.  It gives a brief synopsis of the book along with how many chapters it contains, who wrote it and when.  Then the rest of the week we would work on the back of the card.  We'd pick a passage or two and read it.  I love how concise these cards are, I know we will use these for many years to come.  I hope they make cards for the Old Testament.

The Wizzy Gizmo website has a great, informative page on how to use the cards.  They gives suggested use for different age groups.

The suggestions for ages 9-11 are:
Day 1 - Read the summary and theme of the same card (front) every day for a week.
Day 2 – Review and memorize the author, date of writing and number of chapters (front) every day for a week.
Day 3 – Read a key verse, or doctrine from that same card (back) every day in that week.
Day 4 – Review and memorize the key chapters and references of the key verses.
Day 5 – Have the student verbally summarize the book in their own words.

Here is an example of Matthew...

01-Matthew-V2  01-Matthew-V2-Back

These would be great to use in your family devotions, Sunday School, or Bible clubs.  Check out Wizzy Gizmo for more great Bible resources for kids.  They also have audio dramas and books

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"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Friday, August 15, 2014

Catching Up With Friends

On our recent trip to Darwin, we were able to catch up with friends.  When we lived in Darwin the Lord allowed me to have a Ladies Bible Study for nearly 2 years, and through that I've made some really great friends.

Us with Evi and Chloe.
We first met Evi as she was a librarian, then a few months later
she became our neighbour and we often traded babysitting.

Chloe and Autumn

Leon, Wendy, and me
Wendy and her husband attended our church in Darwin.
They are hoping to move to Katherine soon!

Cody, Autumn, and Eve
Eve moved from Thailand to Darwin to go to school.  She lived with us for about 8 months.
Needless to say, my kids missed her so much.
We surprised the kids by bringing Eve back to Katherine with us to visit for a few days.

Me and Amy
Oh, how I miss this girl!  Amy is from Kansas.  I am so glad the Lord brought her to Australia.
She's been such a huge blessing to me.

I'm so thankful for the friends God has blessed me with.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

These are a few of my favourite things...

The ocean.


Mindil Beach filled with people watching God's handiwork.

(I am going to live on a houseboat someday!)

Family and sunsets and boats.

Did I mention sunsets?

We just spent a few days up in Darwin.  I always try to see the sunset every time we are there.   Darwin sunsets are the best.  I am in awe of our amazing Creator.