Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday Week 35


Monday, April 27, 2015

Spelling You See { Review }

Spelling You See, surely you have heard of them! They are in the Math U See family which I personally love. My family has used products from this publisher for over 8 years with much success.

Today I am going to talk to you about our newest review item sent to us, Spelling You See Ancient Achievements (Level F).

We received the physical Student Handbooks (there are 2), a package of erasable crayons and the Instructor's Handbook. The Student Pack is $30 and the Instructor's Handbook is $14.

Spelling You See is a program that Dr. Karen Holinga put together after having 30 years of experience working with children. She is a qualified reading specialist that has helped hundreds of children become successful spellers!


No weekly spelling lists!

No timely preparation for me!

We work at our own pace!

No tests (which my children hate)!

What is Spelling You See's Philosophy and Approach?

They understand that spelling is a difficult thing to understand and teach. They believe that spelling is developed in stages:

Stage 1 Preliterate: This stage is before a child can read or write and there is just an introduction to understanding language. 

Stage 2 Phonetic: This is a very auditory stage where the child develops the skills to hear each spoken sound.

Stage 3 Skill Development: This is the most difficult stage and the one that is the longest to achieve success too. This is the stage that our Level F is within. This stage is a very important stage and sometimes may seem like you are teaching the same things over and over but the skills that are important many times need repetition. 

Stage 4 Word Extension: This stage focuses on syllables, prefixes and suffixes.

Stage 5 Derivational Constancy: This stage works on origins and words that normally have a pattern although the spelling doesn't really fit.

How we got started with Ancient Achievements:

When the package arrived Lexi and I dug into the box to see what the physical items looked like. We had talked about the review items before we got them and took a placement test to make sure we were starting at the proper point.

Her favorite part of opening the box was the erasable crayons; it really is the simple things sometimes!

The next week we got started. 

The lay out of the program is very similar to Math U See by having 5 parts in each lesson ( A-E ) so she already knew how the lay out worked.

Each day we are to read the passage out loud. 

Next she was to take her favorite, erasable crayons and start looking for various letter patterns or chunks and mark them.

Then I have her do copywork the first 3 lessons and I dictate the last lessons to her. We have been taking a sheet of computer paper that is blank and laying it over the passage so that she isn't tempted to look at it during dictation and so that is not a distraction.

Each lesson has also had a "Spotlight" which has brought attention to new words or important words to the passage each week. So this week she is learning about Great Pyramid and the spotlight talks about compound words and gives limestone as an example, then talks about it! 

The topics we have covered so far have been:
Cave of Lascaux
Goseck Circle
Chinese Silk
Great Pyramid

The skills taught so far have been vowel chunks, consonant chunks and it has added them both together in lessons.

The Instructor's Handbook is a great resource to have in teaching. It gives you lots of tips and overview of the program, then instructions for each lesson. There is also a FAQ section in the book and the answer key. Another awesomely neat aspect they added to the handbook is a glossary!

Last Thoughts:

Over all this has been a wonderful addition to my daughters school work. This is teaching spelling, listening skills, writing and giving her history lessons! I love that so many components are added to ONE curriculum. 

It doesn't take long to complete a lesson either; we normally spend about 15 minutes on each lesson. Some days she actually doesn't even want my instruction but I normally give her directions anyway and make sure she understands what is expected for the day's lesson.

Alexis is 11 and really likes this book. She said it is neat to learn about ancient history. Her favorite lesson so far has been about the Chinese Silk Worms.

We also completed a Spelling You See review last year for Level B with my smallest son if you would like to take a look at that here.

You can find Spelling You See all over the net:

Spelling You See Review
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up 34 { Its been a while }

Alright guys so I am going to try my best to get back into our routine of updating every week. It has been several months since my last Weekly Wrap Up post.

My life is hectic and since I still work on the weekends I do not normally get time to blog except through the week.

We are still honestly adjusting to several changes in our life. First, we are still trying to adjust to a new routine with a 4 year old whom we are trying to learn and build a relationship with. Fostering has been a huge pull on my time and energy. All of his appointments because of health issues and neglect, then we have also been introduced to the public school system because of him. My family has been a trooper through it all but I will say this has been one of the hardest things we as a family have ever done and probably will ever do. Secondly, hubby finally got a Monday - Friday job so it opens him up for preaching more and for worship more! We have been praying over this issue for 2 years and we are just so happy that God heard our cries and faithfulness! My work schedule has also had to change down several days because of all the above!

Baseball is in full swing! Zachary is having a blast and I am running to death. Practice 2 days a week and games normally Tuesdays and Fridays! He is doing really wonderful pitching! Then when his season finishes it will be time for Kyle's season to start and then Lexi is asking to play Fall ball, however this is my favorite time of the year! I love baseball.

Zachary has started therapy with an Orton-Gillingham therapist for Dyslexia and delayed reading issues. We see her two times a week and Kevin and I can both tell a big improvement in his overall reading ability so far. I have stopped every reading/grammar instruction with him at this point to not confuse him or interfere with her teaching. We are working together great and she even took a curriculum I love for reading/spelling (All About Spelling) and matched up several lessons for us to use along with her normal teaching she does. The two are very similar so this is being easy for us to work through with AAS and her method, which by the way AAS is an Orton-Gillignham approach however her being a trained therapist there are some differences. 

Schooling has been going really great despite all the obstacles that we have had.

In the last several weeks we have finished up some great curriculum and we haven't really introduced many new things either we are coming to our relaxed time of year where we will work on drills of all our basics once curriculum gets finished up.

Kyle finished up The Nose Tree from IEW for Grammar and we really enjoyed this, it was a review item several months back.

Zachary has finished Dyslexia Games book 4 and 5 and we started 6 I believe last week and he is breezing right along.

Alexis is so close to completing her math level for this year she is so ready too! 

Next week we have a much anticipated mini vacation coming up, we are so excited and I personally can't wait! 

Hope your homeschooling went wonderful this week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli Soup (Copycat Recipe)

When Kevin and I began dating our favorite place to go to spend time together talking over a meal was Olive Garden. 

Fast forward 15 years and we still love eating there however adding work, school and 3 children into that mix it is really hard for us to get there to eat and honestly it is really expensive for my family of 5.

My awesome husband loves their soup and until recently I just never thought about making it at home. I am scared of soup recipes. I can't explain it but there is just something about soup. I like the normal staples - potato, chicken noodle, tomato, vegetable. I guess because their safe choices. 

After scrolling through Pinterest the other week and seeing this I knew I had to make it for my awesome husband.

I tweaked the recipe I found and this is what I used:

1 lb ground beef
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 - 8oz tomato sauce
4 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 box of pasta
1 can red kidney beans (drained)
1 can great northern beans (drained)
Romano cheese to top

Cook ground beef. Drain beef and set to the side.

Put a little oil in pan and add carrots, celery, onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano and the ground beef and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Cook pasta as directed on package separately, drain.

Add cooked and drained pasta to the soup along with beans.

Cook for 5 more minutes. 

Top with cheese and your ready to enjoy!

This wasn't as good as Olive Gardens soup but I will be honest it was still a very good soup recipe.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Toaster { Review }

Star Toaster Review

The last few weeks my smallest son Zachary has been completing a review for me by reading online, Orphs of the Woodlands by Star Toaster.

Orphs of the Woodlands is an online reading game and adventure. It is recommended for 4th grade and up. You go on an adventure to save the woodland creatures and you work your way through each chapter by earning gold stars.

The first book of the series is The Treasure of the HighTower and can be bought for $19.99 for up to 3 children, this is the 60 day subscription. 

I thought this review would be a good fit for my smallest son, 10, because reading comes as a challenge for him, so reading the over view of the program about it being fun and engaging while playing it as a video game appealed to me for use with him. 

The program was not a good fit for us and at the end I will explain why however I am going to tell you about the program because I believe that is my responsibility.

You begin the adventure by setting up your parent account which is very easy and then you can add your students from that point. The set up doesn't actually take but about 5 minutes and your child is ready to go!

I then started Zachary into the first chapter. He filled out an application to get started which was looking for a job in the woodlands, I really thought this was a super cute idea!

The program incorporates a lot of components into this one. The child will learn thinking skills, math, science and vocabulary. 

The adventure is 30 chapters long.

As your child reads through each page there are special links that tell about the vocabulary of the word, you have the option to listen to sounds that the creatures where making at that point in the story and some pages would have secret messages for you to read.

Once you have completed reading through the chapters then you get the chance to pick jobs to do. This is where the "game" part comes in. You choose different tasks and once you complete them you have earned golden stars, with the golden stars you are able to build your land and take care of the orphs.

Here are some of the reasons this was not a good review item for us.

Zachary has a lot of trouble reading and I thought that this would be a little more engaging to help him want to read and use this program and sadly that wasn't the case.

The chapters are entirely too long, some ranging to over 30 pages (most are 20-40 pages, still way to long for my struggling reader)!

The interactive games are spaced to far apart for that to be an attraction to the program. You must complete the chapters before new games are made available.

Also from homeschooling 3 children for 10 years I find the subscription being timed for 60 days not a good fit. The down side is that you must purchase additional time at a rate of $6.99 for additional 30 days. I believe this needs to be readjusted because homeschooling is full of life and sometimes deadlines are just plain unreachable.

I was hoping that there would be an option for the story to be read aloud but that wasn't so, with my son having reading issues I was hopeful he would be able to do this with little help from me but that was totally not the case. I had to read it to him which defeated the whole purpose for me.

If you would like to see if Orphs of the Woodlands would be a good fit for you go try their free trail which gets you started with the first 100 pages of the book!

Star Toaster Review
Star Toaster Review


Monday, April 13, 2015

Memoria Press { New American Cursive 1 - Review }

Today I get to tell you about a new product from Memoria Press. First off this review came at a great time for our family. Zachary wanted to learn cursive but so far we just haven't taught it yet. I had just started going over some basics of cursive with him when I was offered this review item.

Memoria Press is one of my favorite publishers. I enjoy many different resources they have BUT today I am going to talk to you about their New American Cursive 1. There are 3 books within this set and each book is $22.95. They suggest the first book is designed for 1st graders however it's a great introduction if they haven't had much direction before, which is why we reviewed it. My son is 10 and in 4th grade and the main reason why we haven't introduced cursive to him before is because writing like reading is very difficult for him.

We started with this at the beginning of March. 

You may be like I was and wonder what New American Cursive is, so let me tell you. It is a way of teaching cursive in an easier method that has been simplified and enhanced with multi-sensory aspects added.

There is a small teacher's guide included within the first several pages that gives an introduction to program and why cursive is best taught early. I actually wish I would have started earlier with Zachary because I feel that he would have benefited from it. He has picked it up pretty easily so far and for that I am glad.

The teaching guide goes on to instruct you on teaching your children posture for their body, pencil position and paper position.

Then it moves on to tell you how to present each lesson and how each lesson is laid out. Each lesson starts with just teaching 1 letter.

Each lesson is the same:

Instruction on how to form the letter.
Practice by tracing and then writing your own letter.
Play for trying out your new letters you have been learning and free space for art.

Every 3 lessons/letters there is a review & practice page.

The lessons are multi-sensory because the lessons have you say the letter and repeat the letter that your using during the lesson.

It has you feel the letter by tracing the letter provided on the first lesson page because it is larger. You can also have the child practice it in the air or provide sand to write it in too! 

Then finally writing the letter. I always ask Zachary if he has his paper slanted and is he holding his pencil right before we start.

I have to point out that the book has a spiral ring at the top of the book which makes it very easy and comfortable when writing. I believe it is a perfect fit for a child no matter left or right handed.

Mr. Meerkat is the guide throughout the book. My son didn't mind him either way but loved that the lessons where short and to the point. I liked that the book seemed to keep his attention very well. 

We have normally used this book every day we've done school and he completes 3 pages at a time, which finishes the teaching of one letter. We are almost finished with the book and I have already researched the second book to the set. I have really enjoyed the ease to using this book for my son. I believe it is a great way to teach cursive.

You can see some samples of the books here.


Memoria Press Review


Monday, April 6, 2015

Reading Stages { Dyslexia }

While reading a book about Dyslexia I came across some reading development stages and thought that since I had been blogging about Dyslexia and our journey through it, this would make a good post too.

In order to become a good reader, a child will need to first learn to decode words and have word recognition skills. 

Some children naturally progress easily with minimal help and guidance, like my daughter however both of my boys have been totally different. A child with Dyslexia will not be able to learn easily and they will need lots of assistance and instruction tailored to their need. 

You can better help your child when you understand the basic stages of reading development. 

There is actually a pre-reading stage; birth until they develop basic skills usually around age 5/6. When I became pregnant with my first child all I read and heard was read to that child, read, read, read. So I actually did and talk to him before he was even birthed.

Stage 1 is from ages 6/8. This is the beginning readers stage. This is when children are learning to decode words and sound them out. They normally understand letters and sounds. This is actually the first major road block for a child with Dyslexia! While your child will understand letters and sounds he will find it extremely difficult to put the sounds together to spell words and read. This is the stage that we are at with Zachary. This is why we sought out help. We have tried to move past this stage for over 3 years with little progress but totally not for the lack of his trying, bless his heart.

Stage 2 is for ages 8/9. This is the stage that readers develop fluency. Once the child gets the decoding they begin to get a greater fluency and additional skills pile on. They are able to begin reading without sounding out e v e r y sound. They begin to recognize whole words and are familiar with reading patterns. Your child will need extra help to develop this skill. It is at this stage that Dyslexic children start to fall seriously behind.

Stage 3 is for ages 9/14. This is the reading to learn stage. Children here have mastered the words and fluency skills needed. Now children get to read for knowledge and pleasure at this point. This is a great stage for the child to develop comprehension skills.

FACT: 40% of children with reading difficulties have problems that are not apparent until they reach 4th grade.

Please take it from a mother that has been there, each child is different and each child learns differently but at some point you just have to seek help. I have tried so many different curriculum and tried many different methods. I have crammed it down his throat and left it alone to see which was better. Over all I just came to the point that it wasn't worth ruining my relationship with my son because I could tell this was a deeply hard task for him.

We started therapy in March and I couldn't be more relieved from all I have been told after testing. He is willing and ready to learn to read with out struggles and as his momma I am ready to aid in that!

Check out and read my other Dyslexia blog posts:

Dyslexia Myths & Tips
Dyslexia & Their Vision


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter 2015

I love our Lord & Savior. He is Risen!! Praise God.

I pray that each of you have truly enjoyed your day and have spent time with your family.

Have a blessed week!