Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's Portfolio Day!

Today is officially the last day of our "regular" school year! We view learning as an ongoing, daily process. But today is the day we are having Mr. B's 4th grade portfolio reviewed! YAY!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Phew what a month!

Do you ever have one of those months that seem to pull you in a bazillion different directions? Yeah? GREAT! I'm not alone! Saturday was the annual miles long yardsale extravaganza we always travel to. The man of the family loves a bargain, and he loves to go rummaging. So we get up early, have breakfast, and embark on a grand adventure. This year we snagged a couple Longaberger totes (ok, I got them for ME!) a nice crocheted throw, some kid's clothes, and a pretty awesome hand crank radio/flashlight/charger thingy for just $5.00! After a trip out for dinner, then to Lowe's to get some wavy Petunias, we were finally back home to rest. Or so we thought! Nah! We decided to take a late night (9pm) trip to a friend's house to roast marshmallows and make smores! After that it was back home. The next day we got up early to head out to the cemeteries to decorate for memorial day. We had a lot of traveling to do. I put the flowers on my dad's grave, then we planted some flowers on the grave of our cat that recently died per Mr. B's wishes. After that we headed out father into the rural country to The Man's mom's grave. After visiting for a while with his mamaw and uncles, we decided to stop in at his cousin's place. They also homeschool their two kids, AND their niece and nephew! So Mr. B had a GREAT time playing with the boys. By the time we got home we were all exhausted! It's been that crazy busy the entire month! I'll post pics later....when I have time! GEESH!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Something to think about perhaps?

I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed and came across this link and it hit home with me. Perhaps it will you, as well. Wives.....we need to work on this? Why do we feel it ok to berate our husbands for making simple, human mistakes?

FishFlix.com Review

FishFlix.com Review
Hey readers! I have had the amazing opportunity to review both "Flight" and "Metamorphosis" from FishFlix.com. "Flight" shows the amazing design of birds, and illustrates how that design couldn't possibly be by accident. It features stunning landscapes from all over the world, including locations such as Peru and Antarctica! Talk about diversity! Metamorphosis shows the  intricate life cycle of butterflies, including the Monarch butterfly, and also shows how the design of the butterfly had to be by intelligence rather than accident. For this review, I received 2 physical CDs-one of each film.
 
FishFlix.com ReviewFishFlix.com Review


How we used these:

With Spring finally here, and Mr. B suddenly semi-over his horrible fear of all things "bugs," I decided we would do a study I called "Birds, Butterflies, and Bees." I used Visual Learning Systems (see my review HERE) to set the stage of our lesson. We watched the small video and did the activities for "What is a Bird" as well as a lesson on insects. On top of that I was able to pick up some resources at the local university when a bee keeper came with a display. So I had a ton of handouts for that, plus a wide variety of books on birds and butterflies-including a book I received in a state info swap I participated in a while back. I used all of these to augment these two films, and it was great! 

**About the Movies**


"Flight"

Flight will take you on a trip around the world, to see birds from a perspective many do not get to see.  The flow of the film is chronological. It focuses on the life cycle and biological structure of birds. It starts off by talking about how versatile birds are, and the egg stage. Then progresses to baby birds, then adolescent birds taking flight, and so on. There are science experts that discuss the mechanics behind this, such as the instinct of the mother bird to sit on the eggs and the instinctive ability for a young bird to fly. 

The music is fantastic. It is calming, interesting, and attention grabbing-with out taking away from the movie at all. During the "baby" part the song "Baby Face" plays, after a few pictures are flashed across the screen. My son got a huge kick out of that scene! 

The film makes it a point to showcase the idea that a bird (nearly all birds, with a few exceptions) is designed with flight in mind. One example shown is a pelican. It is a heavy bird, yet can fly with ease with a skeleton of less than 2 pounds. Another example is the specialized way feathers are designed. The point the film makes is that these features could not be accidental, but must be intelligently designed with purpose. Each bird is designed in the exact way it needs to be in order to live.


"Metamorphosis"

Like "Flight," "Metamorphosis" focuses on the life and design of butterflies, and how this could not have happened by accident, but with intent and purpose via intelligent design. The film begins with ancient civilizations' belief in the butterfly, and the butterfly being the symbol of life, death, and soul. Also like "Flight", "Metamorphosis" begins with the egg stage of life, and progresses in a chronological manner.

The close up photography and music, intermixed with the sounds of nature, work to make a beautiful piece of art disguised as a movie. The close ups are simply mind-blowing! The expert interviews show the knowledge and love of butterflies of each person, without being dry or boring at all.

The film achieves its goal of showing the intelligent design of the butterfly. As one scientist says in the beginning, "Butterflies make no mistakes." From each species having its own specific leaf type that is perfectly made for the caterpillar, to the amazing journey the Monarch butterfly goes on (not to mention the generational thing with the Monarchs that allows the generation that will be migrating to live longer...,) "Metamorphosis" does an amazingly wonderful job of teaching us all about the wonders of butterflies.

Overall

The cinematography is amazing with both of these films. The music fits each scene perfectly. Some of my favorite scenes were the scenes of the flocks of birds moving in unison, or the forest full of butterflies in Mexico. It's hard to imagine such sights truly exist in the world. It was amazingly beautiful, and something we'd love to see first hand.

The films are not overly religious at all. They are not one belief over another, so I can't say they are Christian based or any other religion based (though FishFlix does state they are "Christian movies to inspire and entertain ". They are Intelligent Design based. Whether you are religious or not, I think you'd find these films to be awe inducing and interesting. Anyone of any varying faith would enjoy these films, as they are not biased for or against any specific religion. They are beautifully filmed, well executed, thought provoking, and a great resource for a study of these topics.




FishFlix.com offers a wide variety of film choices, at great prices. PLEASE click the banner below to read reviews on several other films offered by this great company! 

FishFlix.com Review


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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Source: Google images search for Black Locust

The black locust tree seems to get a bad rap around my parts, and I really don't understand why! It has just the right amount of vegetation to provide gentle shade, yet it allows enough warm sunshine through to provide just the right amount of warm light. They grow VERY fast, even in not ideal conditions. They are pretty resistant to just about anything. And on top of all of that, you get these beautiful drooping flowers in the spring time. 

Some call them a nuisance weed, and sure....they have thorns, and are hard to rid in places where you may not want them-such as around horses who may try to eat the pods that are poisonous. BUT if you love honey, you want these trees! Bees love them, and in turn make some really tasty honey! I have 3 in my front yard, near a privacy fence, and a couple beside my drive way. I love them! Others have said I should cut them down, but to me they are too pretty to cut down! They bring in the bees my little container garden needs to be fruitful, and they bring in the hummingbirds I love to watch zip around. So while others are hating on the Black Locust, I will continue to sit here in my porch swing and enjoy watching the lovely flowers swinging back and forth in the breeze!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Memory Lane Monday


The Duke and Duchess have named their new baby girl, and included in her name is the name of her late grandmother-Diana. I still remember where I was when I had heard of the passing of Princess Diana. I admired all she endured, for standing her ground, and her charity-especially for children. It seemed the older she got, the more beautiful she became. So that is my walk down Memory Lane Monday. If you want, please share a memory of your own!

Real Life Press: Firmly Planted, Books of Moses, Part 2 Review

Real Life Press Review 
I needed a good Bible study program for both myself and my son, and I found it with Real Life Press and Firmly Planted, Books of Moses Part 2.  I am so blessed to have been chosen for this review! Written by Heidi St. John,  Firmly Planted Books of Moses Part 2 is a 10 week study program that is broken down for the entire family. Each week gives you a main lesson, and you dissect that lesson in order to truly understand it. There are activities for younger children, older children, and the whole family. It is well written, provides ample Bible reading, and fun activities that are well planned and fun to do. This particular study begins at Genesis 37 and progresses into Numbers 14. For this review we received physical copies of both the Student Book and the Family Study Guide. These are available in other formats, as well, making this a very versatile product. 

Real Life Press Review
How we used it and What I loved:

These are the two books we received. They are well made, and "sturdy" enough for daily use.

What did I love? Ummm...EVERYTHING?!  Hello?! Heidi St. John wrote it, so you KNOW it is fantastic! We used Books of Moses Part 2 in a few different ways. First, we did the daily readings in the morning time as our family time activity. We had breakfast, read, and discussed what we had read before anything else. After this he had free play, and I did my own thing for a while. Then we began our daily school day, and I tried to find ways of working in the lessons we had learned during our morning Bible study. For example, we were learning about sink holes when we began the program, so we discussed sink holes and the pit Joseph had been thrown into. This was a lot of fun, and brought to life, even more, the stories we were learning. We skipped ahead to the Burning Bush because we were watching a documentary on the Weather Channel about weather events in the Bible. The Burning Bush was specifically mentioned in this episode, so we skipped ahead to cover that while the show was still fresh. While I suggested working through the way the program is intended, it was easy to skip ahead, then go back to where we were. I like the freedom that allows. 

The copy work was great because we used it to remember the verses, and to work on penmanship. We could work on block print, as well as New American Cursive. The verses, thus far, have been short enough so that Mr. B doesn't get tired, and he doesn't lose focus. 

All of the lessons are short enough so that you can easily complete them in a half hour or so, or you can make them more lengthy if you choose. It is really a matter of preference. We tend to go the shortened route due to the ADHD and lack of attention span. 


 Ignore the "just got out of bed" hair. 



 Copy work in progress. 

A page from the workbook to show the fun activities inside.

A better shot of a copy work page so you can see what it is like. I love the artwork! 




Mr. Edwin, the cat, had to "supervise."


 I really like the use of picture icons. It made it easy for me to understand and help my son understand what we were being asked to do in the study. These icons also made it easier for me to know which activities may be too advanced for him, and which were right on par. 


Not only does the study guide tell you what these little icons mean, but during the lesson it lays it out for you so you know exactly what portion of the lesson falls where. In this case, "The Seed" was the thought that "God sometimes uses pain to advance His plan." Then it goes on to "Planting the Seed" which is the HOW things happened/happen. As you can see, the "Additional Planting the Seed" gives a recommended age level. "Watering the Seed" is how you make the overall main idea bloom. How you nurture that idea, and really get it to "stick" so to speak. 




I love the "Digging Deeper!" I often made this writing or narration prompts. Sometimes I used them as a mission quest or a mystery he had to solve. I also used these as art prompts. For the example shown, I asked him to draw the emotions you may feel if you were singled out as being both the favorite, and the not favored person. 

I also love how Heidi St. John makes sure that ALL members of the family can be included in this study. It really is a family focused product, from the youngest to the oldest. 

Overall:

Overall, I think this is a well planned, well written Bible study program that the whole family can enjoy, and from which to learn. I think this is a great product that is affordable and long lasting. The lessons are short enough so that special needs/ADHD will be blessed, and there's enough room so that you can tailor it to fit your personal needs. You can add to it as you see fit, but it is also enough to be a stand alone program. It can be used for a family study, personal study, or even in a Sunday School setting. It has a lot of value for the incredible blessings it brings. I highly recommend Real Life Press and Firmly Planted! 

Please click below to read more reviews on a variety of Real Life Press products. They have so much to offer, please check them out! 
Real Life Press Review
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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Date Night

Do you go on Date Nights with your significant other? We rarely get the chance, usually opting for family nights instead. But the past two nights my son has decided he wanted to stay with his auntie and Mamaw. So the first night, both of us were exhausted and didn't feel well, so we played online. Romantic, huh! Then Thursday night we went on a date! We went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you are a Marvel fan, GO SEE THIS MOVIE! We went to the 10pm showing, and by 12:30 when the movie was over, I was definitely feeling my age! We stopped in at a little 24 hour diner/truck stop. I had toast, he had a sandwich. Then we made our way home, and fell asleep....until 4:30 when he woke up sick with a terrible fever and chills. Then I felt sick, because HE felt sick. So yeah, apparently we need to take a class on how to have a date night in your mid thirties when you finally get 2 consecutive nights a lone. HAHA!

Friday, May 1, 2015

A+ Interactive Math Family Package Review

A+ Interactive Math Review
This review may contain affiliate links.


I can't tell you just how much I LOVE A+ Interactive Math! We were so very, VERY blessed to have been given access to their Family Math Package for a full six months! To say it has been a hit with our homeschool would be an understatement and then some! A+ Interactive Math brings to the table a fantastic, online math curriculum that is full, comprehensive, and has anything and everything your child needs for a successful math experience. From online and PDF text books, exams, and worksheets, to streaming instruction, A+ Interactive Math has it!


A+ Interactive Math Review
How we used it:

First, you and your child both have an account. This way, you can see progress, etc. You can view your start date and stop date for your subscription from your login screen, so there will be no guess work! They offer yearly, quarterly, and monthly plans for 1-10 students; making it affordable for all! For 1 student, yearly is $99.00, quarterly is $49.99, and monthly is only $9.00!
My son LOVES the videos! The female voice sounds strong and sure, calm, and she speaks slow enough that your child will grasp the material easily. There are animated graphics and instructions that catch their attention. You child has the ability to pause and replay also, so they get as much one on one instruction as they need to fully master the topic. My son refused to watch only one video at a time! He would watch an entire chapter at the same time! So I would log on, have him watch as many videos as he wanted while I printed off the worksheets and exams. He did some of these online, but I LOVE the ability to print off the ones we want! So the rest of the week he would work on these worksheets/exams, referring back to the appropriate video as needed. There are also interactive questions and answers to use as examples if you wish, before starting on the rest of the work. 

This is the first screen after you log in. On the left is your table of contents. This is everything that is covered. When you expand each folder you will see a large variety of topics under each main topic. At the top of the page are several tabs. This is where you can find your printables (worksheets, exams, etc.) Your online exams/worksheets/book are located under their respective tabs. The progress tab is GREAT! It shows a graph that will display worksheet grades, exams, interactive questions, etc. My only complaint is you have two options to view the report: Online and Manual. Manual is for the printed worksheets and exams that the parent admin. must enter manually. I wish on the student tab, at least, once these grades were entered they would transfer to a main progress report so that both online AND printed exams were on the same graph. Here is a screen snip of his progress reports. . As you can see, the graph only shows one exam when he's actually finished 3, but two of those were printed exams-so those are on a different report. 
Online exam progress


 Manual progress (I've not entered in worksheets.)

Manual exam progress


This is what it looks like when you enter in information. You choose the main topic, then the specific topic. Then you enter in the date and the number of correct answers. It really is THAT easy!

We have not utilized the online text book much, using the streaming videos the most. But here is a screen snip of what one page looks like. You can also print this for easy reference. 



Here is a screen snip of the AWESOME videos! They really are great!

Overall:
Overall, A+ Interactive Math and the Family Package is by far the BEST online (full)  math curriculum we've ever used. It can definitely be used as a stand alone with no need for supplementation at all. The lessons are beefy, there is a lot of practice if you want it, and it is self grading if you choose the online methods only. We also had the chance to sample their single grade package, and again-It's FANTASTIC!! A+ Interactive Math will remain a staple in our homeschool! 
The best part? Right now you can get this GREAT product on sale! For a limited time only, A+ Interactive Math is offering 50-71% off! 
Does A+ Interactive Math Family Math Package Pass the 4 Ingredient Test?


1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?
You can set your own schedule and take breaks as needed. If you do not wish to finish an entire chapter, or if you wish to skip something, it will not impact your ability to proceed to other topics in any way. It is fully adaptable in that you can watch the videos as needed, replay as needed, pause, etc. You can do the interactive Q&A, do all of the work online, or print the work and do it that way. If you are going to be traveling, and will be without internet service, you can easily print what you need and take it with you! (We did this!)

2.) It is appropriate for a wide range of grades?
YES! There are options to buy just 1 grade level (these are also available monthly, quarterly, or yearly) or the Family Package where you can change grade levels if needed, anytime! (There are also placement tests! You can check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew banner link below to read reviews of that!) The grades go from Grade 1 to Algebra, so there is a LOT of variety!



3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

Not even close to being boring! My son actually asks to do this! He even enjoys the printed work, because he knows he gets to watch the videos. When they say multi-sensory, they mean it! Usually, with autism, it is best to make sure your child has mastered the task across a variety of formats. That usually involves me needing to supplement EVERYTHING, so we will have 3 or 4 different systems for the same thing. With A+ Interactive Math, I don't have to do that! It's one product that covers EVERYTHING we need!




4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

If you feel the need to use other products (I can't think of a single why you'd ever need anything else) then yes, it will fit with anything. But really, there's no need for anything else because A+ Interactive Math Family Package has it all! We love it!

To read more great reviews, including more reviews on A+ Interactive Math, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
A+ Interactive Math Review
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