Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Supercharged Science --Last Day!

Hey everyone.  Great news!
There is still some room left to enroll in Aurora Lipper’s  online e-science curriculum.
And, she'd giving away a whole bunch of extra cool stuff.
BUT, today is the last day to enroll for fall 2014 and still get all the free bonuses.
Click the link below to get the details before it fills up:
By the way, I totally love e-Science.  I’m just love getting my son involved in the experiments!
If you're just tuning in, here's the scoop.
e-Science is the best hands-on science curriculum out there.  Aurora Lipper, creator of the program, want people to see this for themselves so much that she’s put together this special sale with a whole lot of extra bonuses where you can save 70% over the regular price.
This is a self-teaching hands-on curriculum that kids can do on their own.
So, if you don’t have time to teach science, or if science isn’t your forte, this might just be the curriculum for you.
The kind of learning that really relates to the world around them.
Rather than try to explain it all, I'll leave that to Aurora herself.  But having  seen her stuff, I can tell you that she really over-delivers.
Today is the last day to enroll for fall 2014 at the special 70% off price and get all the bonuses. 
I think there aren’t many spots left.
So, get the whole story from Aurora herself.  Click the link below now to learn more:
I know your kids will have their best year ever in science with the Supercharged Science curriculum.
I am an affiliate with Supercharged Science, because I believe in the product. If you sign up through my blog, I will receive money for them as an affiliate, and I will appreciate being able to apply that to my homeschooling costs. Thanks for considering. 

Artistic Pursuits - A 2014 TOS Homeschool Crew Review

I don't generally like to profess to having favorites, but if I were going to tell you I have a favorite... Just sayin'... ARTistic Pursuits is right up there...
This spring the TOS Homeschool Review Crew was offered the opportunity to review a book from a large selection of ARTistic Pursuits books. I expressed an interest in one of their newest books, Sculpture Technique: Model.Their other brand new book is called Sculpture Technique: Construct. Happily, I got to review the book I asked for!
Let me start by telling you why I like ARTistic Pursuits. The center of my homeschooling curriculum regularly focuses around a free online curriculum called Ambleside Online. It includes a subject section of Artist Study, which I regularly fail to do. In addition, when I do Artist Study, I regularly neglect to let my son do the hands-on aspect of art. I hate the mess, I'm uninspired, and it is easier just not to do it.

ARTistic Pursuits, though, weaves a beautiful balance between studying artists and then doing hands-on art projects that relate to the artist you are studying. I remember fondly from previous years days when we sat together with our ARTistic Pursuits book on our lap, quietly studying great pieces of artwork (paintings, usually), and then being taught and challenged to do a new art technique, often out of my comfort zone. I love the way these books teach use of art pencils (with gum erasers), chalk pastels, paints and blending of colors. 

So our new book that we received for this review, Sculpture Technique: Model, is separated into three sections based on creating sculptures with three entirely different types of mediums. The first section, entitled "Unit 1: creating mass with putty" (stet - not capitalized), focuses on using Durham's Rock Hard Water Putty, which is a real hardware-store item. Who would have thought? "Unit 2: creating scale in clay"  focuses on sculpture techniques with clay (real clay, not the stuff I had been buying from the local craft store). "Unit 3: creating surface with fiber"  focuses on sculpture with felting of wool.

I had to go into my basement and pull out the art supplies that I inherited from my dad and gram to see what I already own,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Notebooking Pages Giveaway

ONE DAY ONLY 8th Birthday Sale-a-Bration
Kicks off NOW (today only)
with a HUGE Giveaway!
We are giving away 20 Lifetime Memberships
w/Lifetime Access to our notebooking web-app,
the Notebooking Publisher!

Notebooking Pages 8th Birthday Giveaway Event
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 / begins @ 11am EST

To celebrate their 8th Birthday and kick-off their 8th Birthday Sale-a-Bration,
Notebooking Pages will be giving away 20 Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Memberships (w/LIFETIME access to The Notebooking Publisher™ web-app).

ONE DAY ONLY, Tuesday April 29

Entry widget opens at 11am EST and closes at 10pm EST.
Drawings held every hour starting at 12pm EST.
2 winners chosen each hour.
Each of their 20 winners receives:

Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Memberships (w/LIFETIME access to The Notebooking Publisher™ web-app) Prize Giveaway
Entry widget will be hosted at the top of our membership sales page. Prize Giveaway

The Brinkman Adventures: Season 2 - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

In March I learned of a new audio drama production called the Brinkman Adventures.  In addition, I learned that I had been selected to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 which I received as a digital download.
Shortly thereafter Miner and I began working our way through the stories. The stories are about a missionary family (named the Brinkmans, of course). It begins in the United States, and weaves stories of God's provision to missionaries, not only the Brinkmans, but others as well. Initially God provides a way for the Brinkman children to purchase books to donate to a missionary family in Belize. In providing this money, God causes their paths to cross with another missionary couple, who are retired from missionary work, John and Donna Bentey, who add their own missionary stories to the series. They had been missionaries in Hong Kong. 

While the stories in the Brinkman Adventures are dramatized, and some fiction characters are worked into their stories, they are based on true missionary stories. And so, the stories about the Benteys are absolutely true! I thought that was cool. I also learned that the children playing the Brinkmans are actually the true Brinkman children, even though they had to hire professional actors to play the Brinkman parents. The kids are part of the writing team, brainstorming and creating before the actual scripts are written. How cool is that?

After a stay with the Benteys the Brinkman family travels to Belize and continue their adventures. Their assignment is to deliver a school bus, and once there hold a concert. But every stage of the journey has more adventure. A breakdown of their bus; is that a truck full of highway bandits? Now what? A convoy of trucks parked blocking the highway? We're late for the concert!

Monday, April 28, 2014

4/28/14 Menu Monday

Here is my Menu Monday for this week. Sorry I didn't post for the past two weeks -- I did menu plan, I just didn't get it posted. I have a battery issue with my computer right now (won't charge), and my computer time is... strained. I have another computer to use, but its capabilities are limited, and my own computer's batter is limited. (I charge battery in son's computer once a day and get about two hours of usage for school and blog). Suffice it to say I didn't get menus posted on my blog for two weeks.

Anyway, here's the plan:

Chicken, Rice, Broccoli (faux chicken patty for the vegan)

lasagna, salad, garlic bread (whole wheat noodles, but the vegan ate the meat)

Broccoli Soup, salad, rolls


cheeseburgers/hotdogs, beans, potato chips, salad (Amy's Quarter Pounder, whole wheat flat)


spaghetti, meatballs, salad, bread (whole wheat spaghetti, soy crumblies)

Dinner out

Dinner out
So this week is a bit unusual, with dinner out two nights in a row. We are doing something a little special those days, which I hope to report back to you about next week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CTC Math - A 2014 Homeschool Crew Review

Back in March I learned that the Schoolhouse Review Crew would have the opportunity to review CTC Math.  I was pleased when I learned that we would be among those Crew members reviewing the program. We received the 12 Month Family Plan , and we jumped right in. We were allowed to have more than one student, so I not only set up an account for Miner, but also one for myself! So since mid-March, we have both been working on the Algebra I level of CTC Math.
It took us both a little while to get used to the idea of logging into the program, watching the video, and answering all the questions. I remember my surprise, as we got into week 2, when I received a progress report on my two students' accounts (mine being one of them). The report informed me that my student had logged in every day, but had not done any of the worksheets! What a great program, to so quickly let me know there was a problem going on so that I could take care of it.

I had assumed that Miner had it figured out, but he needed me to show him how to open up the worksheet and the answer sheet, to figure out the problems and fill them in. Then it was more a matter of keeping him going each day.

After a number of weeks, we came upon a snag. The instructor was asking Miner to do something on the calculator that was a function that our calculator did not have. I had him skip that section, to be looked at together at a later time. So one of the things I like about this program is the thorough way the program covers the material, and makes it clear where Miner or I do not understand something. For instance, Miner is still needing more work in the area of converting fraction to decimal to percent. I myself have learned where I didn't know what I didn't know. Some of it I knew I was clueless about (Scientific notation), and some of my math errors were totally unexpected (working with negative powers). I have learned so much with this program! I wish I had had it when my two graduated daughters were doing their high school math!
To get set up, initially the parent registers with CTC Math, and when logged into the "Parent Account" sets up the "Student Account" with a user name and password. Then the student logs in to the Student Account and selects a math level. All the levels are available for the registered student to work on, so the student can work at any level he or she wants to, or any level mom wants him to work on. Miner and I are working on Algebra I. The way the Algebra I program works is that when you select Algebra I, the screen opens to give you Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4. 

I wanted to work the program right along with my son, and I started with Level 1. Level 1 is divided into Number Review 1, Number Review 2, and Algebra Review. The reviews are very comprehensive. Number Review 1 contains 16 sections; I completed them and moved on to Number Review 2.

Philosophy Adventure - A 2014 Homeschool Crew Review

In March I was offered the opportunity to review Philosophy Adventure, by Home School
Adventure Co. I was pleased to review this product. I have long been trying to read the writings of philosophers to my son, without either of us having a good grasp of who each philosopher was, when or where they lived, etc. Philosophy Adventure was an excellent product to expand our understanding!
I had recently begun seeing advertisements for Home School Adventure Co., but was really unfamiliar with them. Going to their website, I found that they have not only Philosophy Adventure, but also a Mere Christianity Journal (and we were just starting Mere Christianity!), Philippians in 28 Weeks (a program for memorizing the book of Philippians, that dove-tails well with Philosophy Adventure), and The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions. Philosophy Adventure was the best fit for us. My son doesn't like to be told what to journal about, and he memorizes scripture best when he decides on his own which verses he wants to memorize. So Philosophy Adventure it was!
This is a beautiful, professionally created curriculum that focuses not only on reading about philosophers, but also works to impart to the student critical thinking skills, creative writing skills, oratory (speech) skills, all wound up with a Biblical world view. This comprehensive curriculum teaches history and geography as well!

We received three digital downloads: the Philosophy Adventure Reader, the Philosophy Adventure Student Workbook, and the Philosophy Adventure Teacher Resources. The way we regularly used the curriculum was to start with the Reader. I would read the information about the philosopher, and then I would pause and ask questions. The Student Workbook was also reinforcement, giving my student questions I didn't think of, and a place for him to record his answers. I love this digital technology -- these are "writeable" PDF downloads, and when the answers are recorded they can then be saved. This saves money, because I don't have to print out the workbook for my son (even though he and I both prefer a printed copy).

Dipping into the Teacher's Resources, I printed out appropriate two-sided memory cards (and I loved that they lined up perfectly when printed -- all I had to do was cut on the little lines!). These worked really well! My son was even surprised himself when he found himself remembering minute details about the philosophers -- when they had lived, where they were born, what they believed in, where they had traveled, who they had known, what quote they were known for, what phrase they were known by. These cards really helped cement in the facts.
The Teacher Resources also contains an Introduction for the teacher, Timeline Resources, Master Maps and Keys, for teaching the Geography portion, as well as Quizzes and Answer Keys. We did not opt to use the quizzes, but I used all the other sections of the Resources. In the future I will probably have my student integrate the timeline materials included about these philosophers into another timeline that we were previously using in our home school.

The Reader itself covers eight philosophers (Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Protagoras and Democritus). These philosophers are "pre-Socratic", as in they lived before Socrates. The Reader also contains

Composer Study - Haydn/Horn Concerto in D Major

I am catching up on my composer studies for the Ambleside Online Composer Study rotation of Haydn. Today's composer piece is Horn Concerto in D Major.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Composer Study - Haydn/The Creation

I am still working to catch up on composer studies following the Ambleside Online Composer Study rotation for this year. I should have been working on this one in November. It is called "The Creation".

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A TOS Homeschool Crew Review: Curiosity Quest

This spring I learned for the first time about a company called Curiosity Quest that produces educational DVDs about various natural science topics.
I was selected to review two of their products: DVD Combo Pack - Produce (Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing) and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea (Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon).

We started our viewing with Produce, which contains Curiosity Quest episodes about oranges, cranberries and mushrooms, watching Oranges first. 
I had had an idea about what it looked like when field workers collected and "dumped" their loads of oranges, but I had never seen it. It was interesting to learn about how they snip to pick, not twist or pull, and also how the oranges are sorted, sorted, and sorted. I was surprised that it was harvest time when it was so cold outside!

The episode about mushrooms was also fun to watch, and I was surprised at how much I didn't know. Mushrooms aren't a vegetable. In cooking, I usually think of them as vegetables. I've never seen a "fungi" listed as a food group, only "Fruits and Vegetables". And I learned that mushrooms do not grow from seeds, but from spores. There is a whole different vocabulary for talking about mushrooms.

The episode about cranberries was interesting. Kids were asked what cranberries taste like, and it was funny that they assumed that cranberries are juicy and sweet. Cranberries are always dried to be, and they are only sweet when they've had sugar added!

Next we watched Swimmers of the Sea.Throughout the viewing Miner periodically commented that he thought the "Fun Facts" blurbs were silly, and that he thought the section where they ask random people questions (like "Why don't penguins fly?" was silly. I think he was overly critical.

I was really enjoying Penguins, and was interested when the penguin keeper told Joel Greene, the host, that she was going to show him how to tell the boy penguins from the girl penguins. Imagine my disappointment when she told him that the girl penguins were the ones with the green tag on their wing/flipper! Well, I guess they can't show us how you tell the difference between the boys and the girls without the green tags...
My sister came in during Turtles and watched Turtles and Salmon episodes. The Turtles covered more than one type of Sea Turtle, so I'm confused about which type this is, but one type of turtles they know the male from the female turtles by their tail. Females have tails, but they are so short that they remain in their shell. Male turtles develop their tails when they are ready to mate; I think Joel said that can take as long as fifteen years. Do you know what turtles eat? Or how long they live? You can learn all these facts by watching Swimmers of the Sea

Watching the episode about salmon, I learned that salmon know where they hatched and get back there to spawn by smell! I had no idea! They know they are there when the smell is right. Their life cycle includes spawning once, and then the die. You can learn all about salmon, where they eat, how and why naturalists are helping them and much more in this episode. And did you know there is one word for animals born in fresh water that live in salt water, and a different word for animals born in salt water that live in fresh water? (I didn't even know there were animals that are born in salt water that then live in fresh water...)

When I asked Miner which episode he liked best, he said,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Composer Study - Hayden/London Symphony no 104

I'm still catching up on Ambleside Online's Composer Study rotation for the firs term of the year (as in I should have been working on this one in October). So here is my composer study share for this week:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Supercharged Science - A 2014 TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Have you heard about Supercharged Science yet? Well I was delighted to learn that I would get to review the e-Science Premium Membership again this year. We received a six-month family subscription.
I have been having so much fun with Supercharged Science e-Science this time around! Now, just to warn you, there is a lot there, and it can be overwhelming at first! If you look at the e-Science topics page, you'll see 20 different Units, with additional buttons as well for "New to e-Science", "Introduction", Unit 0 (Zero), etc. Take a look this free special introductory offer.

I initially went back to Unit 0 again, this year, and focused on the 18 key scientific principles, many of which kids need to know before they head to college. I was thinking I was going to park there with "Miner", but as I got into the material I could tell it wasn't going to interest him to sit through it. He's almost to high school, but he really doesn't want to learn about what he needs to learn about. He just wants to get in there, get his hands dirty, make it pop, fizzle, and overflow, bang it with a hammer, dunk it in a bucket, etc. So, in my house right now, Unit 0 is for mom. 
So after I refamiliarized myself with the program, I studied my child Then I studied the Units, and I concluded that he would want to do the Earth Science unit right now (Unit 20). So I clicked on it and was informed by the program that I did not have access to that Unit. But I've been around e-Science long enough to know that if I want a Unit that has not yet been revealed to me, all I need to do is ask. The reason new subscribers receive certain units at the beginning, and are then granted additional units each month, is so that they won't become overwhelmed. But if you want something that is there, just ask. So I did, and there it was!

So I opened up the Earth Science unit and began to look at it. It starts with a section on weather. I showed it to Miner, but he started snoring. He and I both knew what he wanted to start with -- Gems and Minerals. Lesson 2 of Unit 20 focuses on Geology, which is what you need to focus on to work with gems and minerals. We watched the introduction to the Geology section, but then I hopped back to a section about creating a science notebook.

Miner will be in 9th grade next year, and after I had listened to Aurora's videos about the importance of the Science Journal, I decided now was the time for me to have Miner learn about using one and require that he use one. So we spent some time watching the video teaching him all about the Science Journal. He wasn't happy about it, but I consider it a necessary "evil" to get him started on this, which is something I will want him to be doing throughout his high school years.

So, now that he knew what to do with his Science Journal and why, I gave him a red spiral (his favorite color), and we got started. Now, I myself was starting this unit not knowing the difference between a rock and a mineral, and not knowing the exact significance of the items on a Periodic Table of Elements, nor the difference between an element and a mineral. So forgive me for mistakes I may make in what I say, as I'm still a new "geologist" myself.

We actually listened to the introduction again, and this time Miner took notes. I'm real pleased with how well he did. He doesn't have much experience with taking notes. I was also happy to be getting many of my own questions about elements and minerals answered as well. Aurora goes so fast! But there is a pause button, and also most of the video is reiterated in the reading material. 

So we watched videos, I read the reading assignments aloud for the both of us, and we started watching videos on experiments.

What quickly became clear to me was that my son was going to get bored and frustrated if I didn't take the time to prepare before pulling out the science. Each Unit has a shopping list, and each experiment needs certain items, but to look at the shopping list for an entire unit can be overwhelming. What Aurora recommends is that you peruse the experiments and start with ones for which you have the materials on hand. So that's what we did. For my son, also, it worked better for me to watch the experiment video in advance, and then just tell my son what the experiment was without having him watch the video. It depended upon the video. So sometimes I had him watch the videos, and sometimes I just had him do the experiment. We worked out a balance that worked well for us.

So I worked really hard (felt like I was chasing my tail) rounding up materials I knew we had in our house to run experiments on the topic of my son's delight. It was discouraging at times because I took so long that my son was starting to make comments about not wanting to do a bunch of "lame" experiments. He just wanted to go out hunting for more specimens.  Fortunately for me, though, most of this review period the weather was really fowl, so we were stuck inside anyway.

We started with a scratch experiment, after learning about Moh's hardness scale. We have a specimen of talc, and that's the only specimen we have that was affected by a fingernail. Miner really wasn't interested in doing the full experiment, so I quickly moved on. (The rest of the experiment involves testing hardness by scraping a plate of glass and scraping with a steel nail. As I was driving, later, I had to request Miner please take his specimen off the car window. We may have to go back and finish this experiment!)

We moved on to a color streak test, using the back-side of a tile from our patio table. One way of identifying minerals is that a certain mineral always leaves a streak of a certain color.

We were ready to do an experiment that called for seeing if the rocks float

Monday, April 7, 2014

Artist Study - Monet

The artist of focus for Ambleside Online Term 2 is Edouard Manet (man-AY; 1832-1883; French Impressionism). The paintings of focus are below:

 Concert in the Tuileries, 1860-62 (Notes at Artchive) OR Luncheon on the Grass, 1863 (some nudity; but arguably his most famous painting. Noteshere) .

2. The Old Musician, 1862

   3. The Races at Longchamp, 1864
File:Edouard Manet 053.jpg

   4. The Fifer, 1866
The Fifer

   5. The Railway, 1872; NGA Lecture about this painting

   6. Le Bar aux Folies-Bergère 1881-82; (Audio from Artchives; or YouTube video; not previewed).
         Additional notes for further study here. More paintings here.
File:Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère.jpg

Victus Study Skills System - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

As a home schooling parent, one area I have had difficulty with teaching my kids actual study skills. So when I learned, in February, that had been selected to review the Victus Study Skills System products, I was very pleased.

I received in the mail the Victus Study Skills System Student Workbook and the Victus Study Skills System Teacher Edition.

I initially took time to familiarize myself with the System by looking through the Teacher Edition. I worked my way first through an Introduction that included a "Reflection by the Founder", The Course Aim, a Preview of the Foundational Cornerstones, Objectives and  Assumptions. Then Section 1 begins with an explanation of the "Organization of Teacher Edition" which explains that the manual is divided into three sections. Section One includes information to help you understand the course. Section Two provides the lessons you will use with the student. Each lesson includes the "purpose", "preparation", and "procedure" to be used in the lesson, with at "Student View" pages. Section Three provides an Appendix with supplemental materials. I found it very helpful that the "Student View" pages literally say "Student View" right on them, so I know what my student is able to see, as opposed to information which I have that my student ("Miner") does not have.

The Student Workbook begins with the Table of Contents and then The Course Aim. The student fills out a "Study Skills Personal Objective" sheet and then jumps into Lesson 1. The Course, as the student sees it, is divided into three "Foundational Cornerstone"s (which is kinda funny, since a building would have four corners -- but maybe that's just me...). The first cornerstone has the student evaluate "Where am I now?", looking at his study skills, learning style (called "Learning Strengths"), and techniques to help the student learn best with his learning style, as well as suggested aids for his particular learning style.

The Student's second section, Cornerstone Two, focuses on "Where I want to be". It works to get the student to create a mission statement, and to set goals and priorities. 

The section called Foundational Cornerstone Three focuses on "How do I get there?". This section teaches time management, helping the student learn how to break time down to a weekly schedule and a monthly schedule. (Seriously, I needed but did not have these skills when I attended college!) The Victus Study Skills System teaches the student organization,  preparation before beginning to study, where to study, how to study, with instruction on how to be an active listener, taking hints, personal shorthand, and test preparation. It contains little stories to help explain various aspects of the program, and is just a great system.

I am currently home schooling my third student. My first student (graduated 2004) had to learn study skills as best she could on her own -- I didn't teach them to her. My 2nd student (graduated 2007) had a learning disability, and in a special program to help her cope with her learning disability she was taught many of these skills. Nevertheless, I personally have never integrated these skills into my teaching methods. I'm sure it is related to the fact that I didn't come by these skills easily myself, and I still struggle to implement them in my own life let alone impart them to someone else.

The word  Victus comes from Latin, and it means "a way of life". So the aim of the Victuss. There is a lot of information in this package. To accomplish this program well in only five da Study Skills System is to teach the students a way of accomplishing success in their academics, and in life. The course can be taught over a five day period, in one hour sessionys requires a lot of focus and a motivated student. 

This program can also be taught over ten days

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Menu Monday - 4/6/14


Here are my carnivore/vegan menu plans for this week:

Dinner out (leftovers for the kiddies)

Pan-fried chicken thighs, stuffing, broccoli (faux chicken patty, leftover brown rice)

Crock Beef Vegetable Soup, salad, rolls (confetti bean soup from the freezer)

Herbed pork chops, red potatoes, Brussels sprouts (leftover black-bean chili)

Skillet Hamburger Stroganoff, Noodles, steamed zucchini

Honey roasted chicken, rice, green beans (faux chicken patty, brown rice)

Spaghetti and meat balls, salad, garlic bread (sauce with faux crumblies, wheat noodles)


Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Five - 4/4/14

The Pebble Pond

I thought I would do my "Friday Wrap-Up" as a "Random 5 for Friday" this week. I'm not sure if I know how to be random, but maybe what I put will seem random enough to you.

1. The week came in with, drumroll, please... SNOW! yet again (Sunday). Fortunately it did not accumulate much.

The week went out with nice weather and flowers.
 2. This week we had our trees trimmed.

3. This week a new, temporary bedroom was created from part of the family room in our house.


4. School went along as well as could be expected, with all these other interruptions.

5. I'm currently carrying seven product reviews, that are beginning to have due dates on a regular basis, so stay posted!