Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend 2016

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Let's not forget what today is about. I pray for the families that have lost loved ones protecting our country and our freedom. We will never forget those who paid the ultimate price for us.

This weekend was definitely not relaxing to us. My husband worked really hard on finishing my bed, and then we had to start painting the inside of our house.

My beautiful bed that my husband spent so much time making. 

I haven't been blogging much lately because honestly I haven't had time. I work all day homeschooling, doing my regular chores, and then working on this house. See, we still rent, which I hate, but it was the best choice for us right now. If you remember in my previous posts about this move. we looked at houses, and they would get taken right out from under us before we could even get our application in.

The house that we ended up getting was 2nd on my list. It was perfect size for us, but it just wasn't my first pic. Mainly because the yard is super small....I mean seriously almost non existent. The day we did the walk through, (well it was actually evening) there were no blinds open. There was only a little bit of artificial light. Fast forward to move in day. We open the door, and then the blinds. There all over the walls, are the very distinct touch up marks that someone painted on the the wrong color. It looks AWFUL. This is a nice house...and someone has gone and ruined it. So, my husand and I get to paint the entire house. Will it look better? Yes. Should it have been done before we moved in? ABSOLUTELY.

We have had numerous issues with this house already, and I am pretty much feeling like we got a lemon. They are fixing things somewhat, but I am so tired of having to call them. I should be unpacked right now, but I'm not. I'm having to wait until we paint...and it's a slow process!

So, that's what we did all weekend...after my husband fixed the garage door. Have you ever seen the movie the Money Pit? Let's just say I'm glad we didn't buy this house.

The upside...we have the cutest little bunnies in our neighborhood. They just hop down the sidewalk all precious like they are. That's my silver lining on this house!

Have a great week and just think...It's already Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing by Sunya Publishing ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

I am always looking for new ways to supplement math. It's not my kid's favorite subject so we love to incorporate games to help us learn and remember what we've learned. We have recently had the opportunity to review a card game from a brand new vendor. Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing by Sunya Publishing has been quite the topic of conversation around here. It is not like any kind of card game I've ever played before.

Let's talk about what we received for this review first.

Sunya is recommended for ages 9 to Adult and is for 1 to 5 players. You have the option of the Addition/Subtraction version, or like what we were using, the Multiplication/Division version.

The set includes:
  • School and Homeschool Teacher/Parent Guidebook
  • 60 Sunya Playing Cards
  • 30 Math and Science fun fact and riddle cards
  • Number Line
Sunya, pronounced "soon-ya" is a word from Sanskrit, the ancient and classical language of the Hindus. As a philosophical thought in India, Sunya  means "solitude, stillness, and a place of aloneness." If you are talking about Sunya relating to math, it means "empty or void of nothing." In relation to the game, the player is trying to empty their hand of cards.

When the package arrived, I was super excited because I know how much my kids love games. I opened it up and took one look at the Teacher Guidebook and immediately felt overwhelmed. I had read on the website that the rules were explained in great detail and that I shouldn't feel this way. It was an easy card game, and I'm what I would call a smart adult, so I should have no problem figuring this out. My brain is just overworked is all. As you probably know, we were in the middle of a move when I received this, so honestly I thought it was just the fact that my plate was already so full. I decided to put it aside for a few days and come back to it.

A slow day came around and I thought that it would be a good day to get this game back out and look it over a second time. I am a good reader, but sometimes instructions to things, especially games are hard for me. I am a very visual learner, and these instructions were like reading an instruction manual in a different language. All I could see were words and words and more words. I had pretty much given up on it, and honestly dreaded trying to play this. It didn't even look fun to me after all of this. My husband on the other hand is VERY good at understanding games. He gets things that I don't, and he is good at explaining them to me, so I handed him the manual. This is where things finally started to come together.

So, first of all the directions need to be simplified. He said that he felt things were too repetitive and the extensive instructions were causing more confusion than clarification. Also he feels that the instructions need to be all in color. This would be beneficial in highlighting things that could make them a little more clear. He feels that the instructions could have been easier to understand had they been simplified, especially for the basic game. After that set of instructions, we didn't even try to venture off into an alternative version.

Now let's talk about actually playing the game. You can choose to play either multiplication or division. We chose to start with multiplication. The way we deciphered it is that the object of the game is to make number sentences and try to run out of cards. Whoever runs out first wins. The dealer makes an original number sentence. It can be whatever he/she wants to do.

The dealer then deals each player 4 cards. The first person to go will draw a card and then try and make a new number sentence on top of what is already there. But, there are rules to that. A player can't just lay down any card. First of all, you can't put the same number over an existing card. For example looking at the picture above, we could not play a 4 or a 5 in the number sentence. On top of that you can't play a 1, 0, or a wild in the number sentence. Those can only be played in the product or the quotient of the problem.

 Also a rule that I am very apprehensive of even talking about is that you can flip the ones place and the tens place if you need one of those numbers in the answer. The instructions actually say that this takes precedence over placing a card out of your hand on top of the existing numbers. It's really not that hard, but a bit confusing for the kids. 

So if we look at the picture below, we can see the original number sentence and the first players cards. This is after they have drawn a card and why they now have 5 cards rather than 4.  He/she will now try and add cards to the original number sentence from their hand.  IF the player can not play any of the cards in their hand, then they will continue to draw until they are able to play. This, plus remembering the rules that you can't use any of the original numbers or a 1.0, or a wild to make the new number sentence. 

Our player decided to turn the original number sentence of 4 x 5 = 20 into 4 x 7 = 28 using a wild card in the answer. Their turn is now over.

The next player will now try to make a new number sentence using the same rules. The play will continue until someone runs out of cards. The winner of the game will get to read one of the riddles for fun. From what we understand these aren't part of the actual game, but are more of an incentive for the winner.

This is my very basic understanding of the game via my husband. I hope I remembered all or at least most of the rules while trying to explain it.

Now, on to what we thought. I think I conveyed that at the beginning upon receiving this product for review, I wasn't a fan. I think that the instructions are wordy, repetitive, and confusing. I know for sure that a child, well at least most children, could not pick this game up and try to play on their own. After I started trying to explain the instructions to my kids, they were zoned out and also felt overwhelmed. After my husband and I gave them a visual to understand, they turned their opinion around and were really enjoying it, and having fun.

I would LOVE to see an instructional video on the website. I think this might help with some of us that are visual learners understand a little faster. I would suggest colored instructions and definitely simplifying them as well. It is a turn off for many people when they feel that they need a manual for the manual. On a positive note, I think this is an educational game, and I think that we will definitely be playing it again. I hope to see some changes that make it more user friendly. Other than that, they are on the right path with this.

Sunya Publishing was very generous in letting 100 of us on the crew review their product. If you would like to read other reviews just click the banner below!

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Introductory Science by Science Shepherd ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Science is definitely a favorite subject for Gavin. He has wanted to learn about all things science since he was very young. Hands on experiments have also been one of his favorite things about homeschool. We have been using Introductory Science by Science Shepherd the last few weeks and have really enjoyed it. It has successfully combined all of the things that Gavin loves about science into one curriculum.

What we received for this review:

12 month access to the daily videos and activities
Workbook (Level B) 383 page spiral bound consumable book
Answer Key (Level B) 41 page booklet

Who is Science Shepherd and what is Introductory Science?

I had never used any products from Science Shepherd or heard of it before we had the opportunity to work on this review. Science Shepherd curriculum was created by Scott Hardin, a homeschool dad, who has been homeschooling his children since 1998. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honors along with a Medical Doctor degree, and he has been practicing medicine in Wisconsin since 1997.

Science Shepherd Introductory Science is a creation based, complete science curriculum, created for ages 6-11. It covers fun topics that include:

  • Creation
  • Biology
  • Astronomy
  • Oceanography
  • Meteorology
  • and more
Introductory Science is divided into 35 weeks so it can be a full year of curriculum, but it's easy to work at your own schedule.

The curriculum is video and workbook based which we love. Each video is between 2 and 5 minutes long each day. Another plus is that they have two workbooks available, Level A is adapted more for ages 6 to 8 while Level B is designed for ages 9 to 11. They both include the same material, but Level B has a bit more included for older students. 

How did we use this in our school?

This program is so fun and easy to use. It's Gavin's favorite thing to do right now. It isn't time consuming and complicated but it is still extremely educational. It actually only takes him 10 to 15 minutes a day to complete it. I love the fact that this program is already broken down for me into daily lessons. It is designed for 5 days a week, but that can be easily adjusted to fit your needs. It makes my life so much easier because I don't have to worry about trying to lesson plan it. It's already done for me! That is always a huge time saver and a plus in my book.

Let's talk first about the videos. Like I said before they are between 2-5 minutes long, so that's perfect for a daily lesson for some kids. Gavin stays completely engaged the entire time, and often wishes they were a bit longer. The teacher isn't boring and the graphics are good. His words!

The workbook has different things to do everyday. It may be a question and answer, or puzzle, or even an experiment. Gavin did a few that he had fun with. One of the lessons was on sorting and classifying flowers. It was fun and made the point, but I felt it was a bit more for younger kids. He had to color the flowers different colors and then sort and classify them by color, by petals, or by both. It was still a very good lesson. 

He really enjoys science experiments so when he got to the Meteorology portion, he had fun doing an experiment to see that there is always water in the air. We can assure you of this since we live in Texas. It is 230498233058% humid here all of the time!

He had to have 2 tin cans, ice water and warm water. That's simple enough and doable!

He filled one can with ice water and one with warm water.

After filling the cans he left them to see what would happen.

 We have condensation!

What did we think?

I think overall this is a great educational program. Gavin loves it and wants to continue to do it. There are many things that I also really love about it. I am always in favor of a curriculum that is creation based, and also includes a bible verse at the beginning of every lesson.  

My only issue as a mom so far is that it seems a bit too easy for him. He even mentioned to me that the lessons weren't challenging him enough and that he would have more fun if it was a bit harder. He really felt like he's covered a lot of this and with it being Level B rather than A, I was hoping it would have just dug in a little bit more. I think that if there were a little more to each daily lesson, and the questions were just a little bit more challenging, that this would be a homerun! I still think it's fantastic, but just more for students in Kindergarten through maybe 2nd, possibly even 3rd grade. We will definitely continue to use it, but maybe use it as a guide and branch out on these subjects a bit more. Especially those that he's super interested in, like weather. It's a great concept and fun, and that is always a plus for Gavin! If you are looking for an early elementary science program I would definitely recommend Introductory Science by Science Shepherd

Be sure to follow Science Shepherd on Social Media!

Science Shepherd was generous enough to let 100 of us on the Crew review their products. If you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below!

Science Shepherd Review
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Paint ~ Wordless Wednesday...well Thursday

I thought today was Wednesday but it's I'm going to post what we did today...on Thursday!
When you find paint samples for $.99 at Lowe's you start painting all of the projects you have been putting off!

Edyn is loom knitting a Minion!

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Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Traditional Logic I Complete Set by Memoria Press ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Although we don't use the Classical Education method, I was really intrigued when I read about Traditional Logic I Complete Set by Memoria Press.  I never took a Logic course in school, but it looked like something that I wanted to try and add in for my kids. I had originally thought this would be a good fit for both of my older kids, but quickly realized after receiving it that it was definitely not something for Edyn. I was wanting to use it as an elective, so we started using it to fill in for my Senior.

What we received for this review:

Traditional Logic I Complete Set comes with:
  • DVD Set 
  • Student Guide - 146 page glossy bound book
  • Quizzes and Tests
  • Teacher's Guide - Answer Key for student guide, Tests, and Quizzes are all found here.
About Traditional Logic I Complete Set:

Well let's just say that honestly before we got this set, I had no clue what Logic was and was a bit apprehensive about it, because I wasn't sure that I would be able to teach it adequately. Honestly, I'm still lost on this subject because it doesn't interest me in the least bit. Now for my son, who should become a lawyer someday, and who we really do call Mr. Logic, it was fine for him. I really didn't have to worry about it because although I was completely confused from the very beginning, my son picked it up quickly and actually said that it was easy. 

This book studies formal logic rather than informal logic. It is designed to be a one-semester course or about 15 weeks, but it is possible for it to be done a little sooner than that.. At the rate that Drake is going, he will likely be done early. 

The recommended age group for this course is for high school students, but can be used with mature 7th and 8th grade students. 

How we used this in our school:

Drake picked this up fairly quickly on his own. I did the first lesson with him and then he took off and did all of it independently and then brought me his work to check. They tell you at the beginning of the Student Guide that the first 3 chapters are the most abstract and that they can be skipped if needed, He flew right through these with no issues. 

If you know me and have read any of my past reviews, then you will know that I love when things are laid out for the student. It makes planning so much easier and it gives the student an idea of what they need to be doing for the week. This program does that perfectly. It's broken down into 14 chapters in which the student reads and then does the daily work. Each chapter has 4 days worth of daily work, and then the student will take a quiz at the end of the chapter. When the course is completed they will end it by taking a final exam. Like I said, Drake works independently with little to no help from me. One thing I would like to point out is that he only watched the DVD's one time. He said that he didn't really need them and he would rather just read the text about it.

Drake said that he has enjoyed this program, and would want to move on to Book II. It really is a perfect course for him, because he enjoys any and all abstract thinking. I don't see Edyn ever getting to this course. It's just not her thing, so I would not force it on her.

Memoria Press was once again very generous and let 100 of us on the Crew review their products. If you would like to read more reviews, click the banner below.

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Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review
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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization by Institute for Excellence in Writing ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Poetry is one of those things that my kids have always begged me to skip over. They think it's boring and they don't understand why we have to even read it. I have always enjoyed poetry, so it kind of saddened me that my kids weren't into it. Throw in the word memorization with poetry and my kids looked at me like I was nuts. I have also always thought that memorization was important in learning. When I found out that I had an opportunity to review Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization by Institute for Excellence in Writing I knew I had to at least give it a shot.

I have heard nothing but absolutely wonderful things about IEW. We have never had the chance to use any of their products so I was beyond excited to try this even if my kids didn't like poetry. I knew if any curriculum could change their mind. it would be IEW. Andrew Pudewa, the author and creator of this program, is also the principal speaker and director of IEW. He addresses issues related to writing, speaking, thinking, spelling, music, and education.

What we received for this review:

The set includes:
  • Teacher's Manual (spiral bound)- This has a wonderful Introduction on why memorization is important, why poetry is used, and of course instructions on how to teach this wonderful program. I love that in the back of the book they have included lesson enhancements. This way you can take the poems and expand them to other areas of study such as science or even math. Also included are the 96 poems and speeches that your child will have the opportunity to memorize.
  • Student Book PDF as an e-book download 
  • 5 CD's in which Andrew Pudewa recites the poems and speeches. This helps tremendously with accuracy and pronunciation of words and especially the author names. 
  • DVD of Andrew Pudewa's workshop called Nurturing Competent Communicators. This DVD was informative on why we should teach our children poetry and how it can impact them on many levels. I plan on listening to it again because it was so good!
  • 7 MP3's that include: 
                      1. Nurturing Competent Communicators (the audio of the DVD)
                      2. Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
                      3. Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding
                      4. On Listening
                      5. On Speaking
                      6. On Reading
                      7. On Writing

We were also generously given a physical copy of the Student Book, which is also spiral bound, to go along with this program. You can purchase it separately if you think you need it.

As a homeschooling mom of 3 on a budget, I feel that I need to mention exactly how generous IEW is. They will allow families to photocopy the student materials. That is especially wonderful when you have a fantastic program that works for all ages of students or even adults! They can each have their own copy to study, and it won't break the bank!

If you would like to see samples of the poems, teacher book, student book, and an audio sample, you can go here. Just scroll down and you can find it easily.

How did we use this program?

We actually ended up having a lot of fun with this. After my kids were all, "Poeeeetrryyyy noooooo!" they ended up wanting to recite their poems several times a day because they enjoyed it. I think the fact that Ooey Gooey was their first poem helped a lot. Even the older 2 laughed at this one because we had heard of it before and it's silly.

The way it works is the poems are broken down into levels One through 5. Level 5 will be the speeches. You don't have to rush to get to level 5. It may take a couple of years to get to that point. The students will start with Level One even if they are older. It may not take them as long to memorize the shorter poems, but the practice prepares them for the longer poems and speeches that they will come to. One of the things that I love about this program is that the student is able to move through it at their own pace, or you can do it all as a whole and move forward together. It's versatile and up to the teacher.

After Level One is completed, Mr. Pudewa recommends a graduation party of some sort. Just a way to celebrate their accomplishment. We are excited about doing this! Next, they will move on to level 2 and they will recite Level One poems on an every other poem every other day schedule. This way they won't forget them while moving on. So on with the next Levels 3 and 4. Once they have mastered the first 80 poems, they will move on to the Level 5 speeches.

This isn't just about memorizing, and the poems can easily be a gateway for more learning. If the child comes to a word that they do not know, it's the perfect opportunity to research this word more. Some of the poems are historical and can open doors to talk about those time periods.

We would work on our poetry memorization in the mornings as one of our first subjects. We would read the poem aloud, and then listen to Mr. Pudewa read it on the CD. We would read it a few more times, and then go over anything that we needed to. It's fairly simple to do. I would have the kids recite it each until they remembered it. We would recite it in the car, or for their dad, and it ended up they were saying them several times a day on their own.

Here's a sample of what we are working on.

What did we think?

We love it just as I thought we would! IEW definitely lived up to all of the great things that I've heard about them! My kids, who despised poetry of all sorts, now enjoy it. We are having a lot of fun memorizing the poems, and I love that they surprise themselves with their accomplishments. I am so excited about continuing this program until they have reached all the way to Level 5. If you are an IEW fan, or even if you've never heard of it, I highly suggest Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization. It will be a great asset to any child's education!

Be sure to follow IEW on Social Media!

IEW was very generous and let 100 of us on the Crew review their products. If you would like to read more reviews, click the banner below!

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

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