Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Menu Monday for 9-24-18

Late posting this, but better late than never I say! Here are the menu plans for the week of 9/24/18:

Saturday - hubby home from his CAP mission; dinner out (Chinese)
Sunday - leftovers
Monday - French Bread Pizza (bumped from last week); salad
Tuesday - Pan-fried chicken, pasta salad, asparagus
Wednesday - Pork Chops, Stuffing, squash
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - date night, dinner out (Red Robin)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Time for Crickets...

Mid-September, and the evenings are beginning to cool down. When I open my window at night I hear that old familiar sound that means Autumn is in the air.

Speaking of... Have you ever studied crickets with your students? Crickets make a great Nature Study for September and/or October.

The first book I think of when I think of a Cricket Nature Study is Comstock's Book of Nature Study.

It has a great section on crickets. Did you know that some cultures keep crickets for pets? If you want a fun way to interest your child in crickets, consider making a unit study out of it. This can be short and sweet, so that you can keep cranking with your previously scheduled plans, or it can be expanded to include everything you want to do for the week.

The first thing to do is to get some picture books to read. I recommend at least one fiction and one non-fiction. 

Here are some picture book titles I found:
  • The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle 
  • Chester Cricket's New Home by Garth Williams 
  • Cricket in Time Square by George Selden
Here is a non-fiction book I found about crickets (in addition to the Comstock Handbook of Nature Study):
  • Crickets by Cheryl Coughlan
You could do your Cricket Unit Study work all in one day, or spread it out over the full week. I recommend you begin by reading the section in Handbook of Nature Study about Crickets. 

It is very informative. Pay special attention to information about different types of crickets.
You will want to figure out, later, what type(s) of crickets your child finds on his cricket hunt. We also had fun making a cricket house. Instructions are in the book.
It was doable, in my house, because we have way too much clutter. We were able to come up with a flower pot, soil, sand, moss, and a globe to an oil lamp. Initially, though, we just used a shoe box.

This type of hands-on activity is fun for a little guy. He was having fun learning, and I was still able to write "school" activities down in my school planner (for accountability - I get reviewed every year because of state law).

Here the unit study activities might look like:

Bible: Read Deuteronomy 28 and ask your student to listen for the mention of crickets in the reading. (It is in verse 42)

Math: Send your students on a cricket hunt. Give each one a mason jar with a lid. Send them off to the edge of the house foundation. They can look under leaves behind the shed, or under random tarps under the deck or around the yard. Check the wood pile. (They might want to wear gloves.) Have them round up as many crickets as they can find. Have them count them. Who found more? How many did they each find?

Science: Look at the various crickets. Do they all look like the same species? Within the ones that seem to be the same species, are they all the same? When we did the study, we found we have black crickets in our area. We were actually able to learn that you can tell the difference between the male and female crickets. Who knew? 

Art or Science: find a diagram of a cricket online so you know the names of the cricket parts. Print out a blank diagram and have students fill it in. Have student draw their own drawing of a cricket.

Literature: Read picture book/have student read picture book, or begin reading The Cricket in Time Square (a classic!).

See how this works? You could practice handwriting by having them write out one sentence from the book you read. You could work on spelling by creating a list with words you introduced in this study, like "thorax", "cercus", "palps", "spiracles" and "ovipositor". You could work on vocabulary by having them look each word up and write out a definition.

You could include physical education by actually going on a nature walk to try to find crickets, but I guess even hunting for them in the back yard would be fine to count for physical education. You can include "health" by having them wash their hands at the end of the activity and talking about the importance of washing hands when dirty or before eating.

The only subject I didn't include was Social Studies, but you could include that by researching the cultures that keep crickets as pets (I think it is Japan, but I might be wrong). 

I hope you have enjoyed by recounting of our cricket study and my brainstorming on how to make a complete unit study of it. Unit studies can be a great way to cover school for grades K-3 in particular. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

What's New and Exciting for September 2018

A post to update folks is long overdue.

We got a family photo taken (above) the day my youngest celebrated high school graduation. I'm on the far left, then Dad, then my youngest, then my oldest, then my son-in-law, then my middle "child". (I don't use names -- want to protect some privacy." Then there are the dogs -- Cody on the left, and the yellow blur on the right is my oldest's dog named Coda.

My high school graduate was not able to find summer work. He spent his summer promoting his home business - Eagle Whips (you can find him on Instagram). And he built up his inventory of whips so they could continue to sell even while he is away at college! (He's not allowed to make them at college. They are considered to be a weapon. Go figure.)

He also finished his requirements to be promoted to Cadet Senior Master Sgt.
August arrived. The college freshman packed his bags, and we flew to Arizona.
 We landed in Phoenix to a temperature of 108, then we drove to Flagstaff.

Getting moved into the dorm was such a small part of that week. He had to get his new ID card first...

 There was an expo, where he met the Lumberjack...

There were days of orientation. The lad plans to participate in CAP in AZ, working to achieve rank of 1st Lt. He also plans to participate in AF ROTC, but that has been postponed til the Spring semester.

Since launching the lad I've been working to stay motivated. I've got loads to do -- I just need to stay on track. I'm making maternity clothes for the momma of my first grandchild...

I'm quilting...

I'm trying to sell off 27-years-worth of homeschool books...

And there is plenty of decluttering and cleaning to catch up on now that I am done home schooling.

But... I still love reviewing home school products... So right now I have in the hopper:

Teach Sunday School Bible-At-A-Glance

Brinkman Adventures Season 6

and Heirloom Audio Adventures St. Bartholomew's Eve

Can't wait to tell you more! 

I will try to give a new update in mid-October. So what is new in your world?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Menu Plan Monday for 9/17/18

Another week, another plan. Here's what we decided on this week:
Saturday:  Date night bumped from Friday this week.
Sunday: Chicken Caesar Salad, rolls
Monday: Lasagne (from freezer, prepared in advance), salad, garlic knots
Tuesday: Pork chops, stuffing, steamed yellow & zucchini squash
Wednesday: French Bread Pizza, salad
Thursday: scallops, noodles, asparagus
Friday: Date night: Dinner out

Well, that was the plan. We followed it Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but then the Civil Air Patrol was activated to go to the Carolinas to shoot photographs of the hurricane damage from Florence. So my hubby, who is trained to do those missions, went to South Carolina and will be there all week. I have too much food in my fridge to make more meals, so I am eating leftovers all week: lentil soup, lasagne, some things my neighbor (who is going out of town) gave me... So, the plan became Caesar Salad, Lasagne, then leftovers, leftovers, leftovers.

Hope you're having a great week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Picta Dicta - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

In early August I learned I would get to review a product by Roman Roads Media. I've loved every Roman Roads Media product I've ever tried, so I was delighted!
Roman Roads Media
I received, by email, digital access to Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder.
Roman Roads Media
I received two emails. One instructed me step-by-step on what I needed to do to get going with Picta Dicta. The second email gave me a link to set up my account as well as an Order ID and a Base License Code. As soon as I received these emails I went to the site and set up my account, with two student seats. Once I had done that I started poking around, learning how to use the program.
Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is a program to build Latin vocabulary. For a high school student it would probably be best as a supplement to a primary Latin curriculum. Without a primary Latin spine, it is still a great educational tool. Picta Dicta can actually be used over a broad spectrum of student ages, from beginning reader to retiree. I was so happy to have this opportunity to review Picta Dicta because I have been working on my Latin on and off for about six years, and I welcomed this opportunity for a new way to increase my vocabulary.

When one logs in to Picta Dicta, Vocabulary Builder, the first page is always the following:

The page you see above shows the program has 36 pages (each page has its own focus, so think of each page across the bottom row as a unit, each number on a page as a chapter). Each page has 6 chapters. If the student is able to keep to a pace of one unit each week, the program can be completed in one school year. (A typical school year is 36 weeks.)

The green stars you see show the student's progress and how well she did. As you can see, I did not do well on Test Forms. I decided to go back into "Test Forms" to see if I could improve my score.
Once you have clicked on a lesson you get an introductory page. To continue you click on the pointing finger-hand in the bottom right corner of the page.
When you click there on the Test Forms lesson, you are taken into the test questions.

Revisiting this page reminded me why I got only one star. I'm not good at this particular section of the program. I haven't been focusing in the genitive case, the dative case, etc. I would need to back up and redo a previous section focusing on these cases to improve my score.

So if you change your mind and want to go to a different lesson, you click the arrow in the bottom left corner of the page. (It is on the "quid" page; I just cut it off of my snap shot above.) When I did this, I had to log in again. This isn't too difficult if you let your computer save your log in ID and your password, but it is still a very good idea to write these down somewhere when you first set up the program.

My progress on this program has been slow. I really want to learn this material well, so when I don't do well on a chapter I go back and do it again. And again if necessary. I find I am really motivated by the stars. I really want four or five stars when I can get it.

I went to Unit 2, where I am currently working, so I could show you how the program works. When you have completed a chapter but want to improve your score, you can go back in and work on it again by clicking on the little blue arrow to the right of the Chapter information:
By doing this on Chapter 7, I can also show you examples from the different chapters in a unit. Unit 2 (or "Page 2") is not the same as Page 1, so maybe these aren't exactly units... 
Clicking on the hand again, the student receives a word and hears the pronunciation.
Click the hand and on the next page the student picks which picture/word grouping the vocabulary goes with. Sometimes this is trial and error, but it is a very effective way to help the student learn the vocabulary (when the student repeats chapters with poor scores).
Then when the student gets the answer correct, there is a green check, and the full sentence is heard. If the student gets the answer wrong, there is a red "X" and the full sentence is still heard. The student gets another chance later in the lesson to try again.
I improved my score to four stars!

I opened the next chapter, "Spell".
I liked the advice given in the bottom of the Spell intro page. It reminded me to mention that you can review a word by pressing the info icon on the lower lefthand corner. What I didn't like is that this is a "thumbs down" icon, like "I give up!" And when you press on it, you have gotten the answer wrong and get a red "X". On the other hand, if the student just plans to go through twice, this is no big deal. The first time can be for learning. The student can press the lower lefthand icon on each word, take lots of notes, and when done with all the vocabulary for the chapter the student can go through again and answer the questions accurately. This writing of the vocabulary helps to cement the information into the brain with many learning styles.

I have really enjoyed working with Picta Dicta and plan to continue working on my Latin vocabulary. I strongly encourage you to consider adding this program to your arsenal of curriculum products this year if you are studying Latin. 
Roman Roads Media
Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this and/or other products by Roman Roads. To read more reviews, please click the button below.
Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

Monday, September 10, 2018

Menu Plan Monday for 9/10/18

Time to post the menu plans for this week. I've had some weeks of less than healthy meals -- I'm finally ready to walk the straight and narrow. This week's meal plans reflect healthier choices -- no sugar, no processed foods, blended with selections my husband will appreciate. Here's the plan:

Saturday (9/8):  spaghetti, salad, knots

Sunday (9/9):  Leftovers from Friday's dinner out

Monday (9/10): Lentil soup, salad, rolls

Tuesday (9/11) (CAP): steak, brown rice stir-fry, green beans

Wednesday (9/12): shrimp, Thai Buddha Bowl, rice

Thursday (9/13): pan fried chicken, rice, broccoli

Friday (9/14): Creamy vegetable alfredo, salad, rolls

Friday, September 7, 2018

GrammarPlanet - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

Over the past many weeks I have had the opportunity to work with a new on-line grammar program called GrammarPlanet.
GrammarPlanet was created by the makers of Analytic Grammar. I have never gotten to try Analytic Grammar, but I have heard good things about it. GrammarPlanet has two ways the program is available to families. You can either use the free version, which includes commercials (I really disliked these -- over-loud commercials at the end of the lesson) or you can pay a one-time (forever) fee of $39 for a student account. (Great price for a lifetime purchase of this program!)

GrammarPlanet goes through the concepts of grammar in a very systematic way. When I was teaching my oldest grammar for the first time, I remember teaching that there are eight basic parts of speech:  nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, articles prepositions. However the method of teaching these parts of speech was no where near as clear and easy as the way they are taught in GrammarPlanet.

The method used for each lesson of GrammarPlanet is:
1) Print out and read pages for the lesson; student keeps handy while doing lesson;
2) Watch video for lesson;
3) Do exercises/practice for lesson;
4) Take test for lesson.

If the student misses too many items, the parent needs to reset the lesson for the student using the teacher account so that the student can repeat the material. This method keeps the parent/teacher in the loop so there is no question as to how well the student is doing, and no ability for the student to ignore a lack of understanding and just keep trying to move forward in the lessons.

The grammar material is introduced in a specific, carefully thought out order. It begins with nouns, and explains very well that "Noun" does not only refer to things (the old "person, place or thing"), but also includes concepts. 

The lessons work through adjectives, articles, etc. Each lesson carefully introduces and covers the concept of the lesson and reinforces the lesson in the video and the practice.

I worked on the material as a student, and there were some times when the first practice question would immediately stump me as to how to label and diagram the sentence. I decided that for me actually doing the problem examples (and sometimes getting it wrong and having the program tell me the correct answer) was part of what I needed to learn the material. It caused me to realize I would not want to jump on my student too quickly for wrong answers either. That was a new thought...

When the student first logs in, they see the profile page.
I know that is kinda small in that snapshot -- it is easier to read when it is full screen. Next the student clicks the green "Continue Progress" button under their name (which I have wiped off for privacy). The student next sees the following page:
I am displaying Lesson 9 above out of 13 units. The first thing the student is to do is to open the document for the lesson and print it out, and then read it.
Next the student watches the video,

and last the student works on the practice. 

During the lesson, practice and test the student is encouraged to keep the printouts handy to refer to. Part of the course work also entails the actual diagramming of sentences, the old-fashioned way (not just labeling the sentences as seen above):
Sorry for all the blotches -- there is writing on the back of the page as well and the ink bled through. The diagrammed sentence says: "According to witnesses in another village, the sky split in two and fire appeared over the forest."  I think it is amazing to know how to diagram that sentence!

So, GrammarPlanet is just an amazing product that you can get even for free (with commercials) to help your students learn and understand our English language. I am really pleased with this program. I highly encourage you to give it a try for your students this year.

Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this product. To read more reviews please click the button below.
Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}