Thursday, May 25, 2017

Learn Keyboarding Skills with The Typing Coach {REVIEW}

The Typing Coach
Earlier in the year, several of Mr. B's therapists and doctors suggested I allow him to type out his answers, rather than hand write them. They explained all of the mechanics of writing, and how he spends so much time trying to form the words, then make the letters, spell them correctly, etc. that he loses what he wants to say because his thoughts move faster than his brain will allow the mechanics to take place. I hadn't yet settled on a keyboarding program to teach him how to type, and we came across The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.

The Typing Coach uses progressive, self-paced lessons to teach proper typing skills. These lessons utilize both online and written components for a well rounded learning experience. They say by the time you finish the course, you should be typing at least 10 words per minute, with no more than 1 error per minute, and that if you continue practicing with the program you will only improve. 
The Typing Coach
Our Experience:

Mr. B really enjoys sitting at the computer and doing the lessons. We started out at the very beginning, and I chose to do the slower paced lessons. I really  like how everything is easy to find. Y'all know me, I have to have billboard obvious login and billboard obvious navigation. The Typing Coach has that. Here's a screen snip of the navigation. I can easily choose what I want from the menu.



We started with Course Introduction. I like the check boxes! I can have Mr. B check off what he has completed each day, and this gives him a physical visual of his progress. And you can easily just click these little boxes, and they check off. 


Another little detail that I really appreciate is the guided instructions. See here on this screen snip? At the bottom it says, "Click here when finished to watch a video tour.." Mr. B knows exactly what to do next, without the need to depend on me for directions. It's right there, linked, and ready to go. 


Like I said before, they offer slower paced lessons, as well. This is really great if you have a younger child, or perhaps a child who needs a little more time due to fine motor issues, or whatever the case may be. I chose slower paced due to fine motor. You can always go back to regular, so I wasn't too concerned. 


I would have Mr. B master the slower paced lesson first, then work through the regular lesson next. So we spend double time. The regular lessons are a little longer than the slower lessons, and do not include a video. They include printouts and audio. I have searched, and the only videos I found during our course are under the Slower Paced Lessons. It's quite possible I've not seen them since I need flashing lights saying "It's HERE!" before I can find links like that (HAHA) but as far as I can tell, the videos are under Slower Paced Lessons, and not the regular ones. I would like to see video links under both! That would really be a huge benefit. With that said, here are some screen snips of the videos. I took these from The Home Row-Slower Paced section. 

I thought all of the videos were going to be cartoon based because of this haha! No, they aren't. I'm not sure if I was delighted to discover that, or saddened haha! 


I like the camera angle here and how the home row is lit up. This really helps Mr. B to focus in on only the needed parts. With autism, it's so easy to get caught up in all of the external data around what he is looking at, that he can get lost. THIS method, of lighting only the part you're working on, is a real help for him.



I also really like the video showing proper hand placement. This really helps special needs kids, and regular ed students, to be able to emulate the coach, and know exactly how to place their hands.




I also like how we can see a child doing the lessons, and the video is shot in such a way that we can see exactly what they are doing so our own students can do the same.

Overall:
I like how the program is not game based, but I do wish there were a few fun game like activities included as an end of a lesson motivational thing. I also wish there were more videos included in the regular lessons. The Audio is nice, but it's hard for Mr. B to focus on just audio. A Multi-sensory approach with the audio plus visual would be great. I really like this program, but the regular lessons lack that visual component that I think would make it truly exceptional. With that said, I really like and prefer the slower paced lessons due to the video.

The PDF packs are not little by any means, and really do cover a lot of ground. This is not a course you could easily complete in just a couple of weeks. It's intended to do one lesson per week, for 10 weeks. That was our intention, but I found we had to move a little slower at times. I had Mr. B doing the slower paced lessons, then the regular based lessons, too. So we moved slower. It is easy to adapt and go back and forth through the lessons, so that worked well for us. Overall, I like it.

Does The Typing Coach Pass My 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?

There are slow paced lessons and regular lessons. You can navigate between them. We chose to do the slower paced first, then the regular lessons afterward for more practice. It is an online program, so you are limited to your membership time frame. It is not advised to skip. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

This covers multiple ages-from child to adult. The lessons are not "babied down" at all. There are no hidden fees. 
 
 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

The slower placed lessons have video. I did not find video lessons in any regular paced lesson we did, so ADHD or other special needs kids may get easily distracted during the regular lesson audio. Lessons average 15-20ish minutes in duration on the audio and video. 

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

The typing lessons are just your standard typing lessons. You're not going to be able to use any portion of this to fulfill a doubled up requirement. In other words, you're not going to be typing out Charlotte Mason style copywork during your online lessons. 


Please check out The Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews! 

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Go on a Dinosaur Adventure with Trek! Dino Dan Trek's Adventures Dino Go Seek

I LOVED watching Dino Dan with my son. It was one of our favorite shows to watch together, but it seems so hard to find it on TV lately. Imagine our delight when we received Dino Dan Trek's Adventures Dino Go Seek in the the mail for REVIEW! The imagination in this series is amazing to me. Trek Henderson sees dinosaurs in the real world, and studies them. No one else can see them, of course. Join Trek as he and his friends, along with his Grandma, play an indoor game of Hide and Seek, and Trek learns just how good microraptors are at hiding! Our favorite episode was Train of Dinos. Mr. B LOVES trains, and wants his own model train set. I can see him adding dinosaurs to his set, just like trek!

The use of CGI here is great, and it blends well with the rest of the background.  This teaches a lot about dinosaurs, and my son found it particular interesting to see how the dinos would look in today's world. It was refreshing to see that Dan Henderson has grown up, so to speak, and his little brother Trek has taken over. Overall, WE LOVED IT!

About:

  Join junior dinosaur expert, Trek Henderson, as he imagines dinosaurs in the real world! During an indoor game of hide and seek with his friends and Grandma, Trek discovers that Microraptors use their natural abilities to hide with the best of them! Enjoy playing dino go seek and more dino game-filled adventures with Trek and friends!

Stories: 

  • Dino Go Seek
  • Train of Dinos
  • Robots & Dino 
  • Dino Clash
  • Dino Racing


**Through the Open Window received a free copy for review. I wasn't required to right a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family.**

Sonic REVIEW

We had never watched a Sonic episode until now, and we really enjoyed it! This cute cartoon is not the CGI style that a lot of animated shows are turning it, but it's more of the old school style. Based off the popular video game, the series follows Sonic and his siblings around as they fight to be reunited with their mother!



About:

Join Sonic and his siblings, Sonia and Manic, as they fight to be reunited with their long-lost mother, Queen Aleena. In this second and final set of episodes, we return to Dr. Robotnik having his sights set upon Queen Aleena's crown Jewel, which glows as it moves closer to ther. Sonic, Manic, and Sonia need to recover the hewel before Dr. Robotnik does. They need to this not only to find their mother, but also to protect her from Dr. Robotnik. Will they Succeed?

When they aren't battling Dr. Robotnik and his henchmen, Sonic and his siblings make time for their rock bad, Sonic Underground. With over seven hours of content, this final set is sure to showcase all the best Sonic episodes from the tunes to the great battles. Based on the popular SEGA videogame character, this Sonic the Hedgehog collection is a must-have for all Sonic fans.

Stories include:
The Jewel of the Crown
Three Hedgehogs and a Baby
Dumes Day
Mommy, Dearest
The Hedgehog in an Iron Mask
Six is a Crowd
Wedding Bell Blues
Flying Fortress
No Hedgehog is an Island
New Echidna in Town
Country Crisis
Haircraft in Space
Healer
Sonia's Choice
The Big Melt
AND MORE plus 20 Music Videos! 

**Through the Open Window received a free copy for review. I wasn't required to right a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family.**

Let'sGo Pocoyo! {REVIEW}

Do you love Pocoyo? We do! Pocoyo has been a mainstay in our home for many years now, so I was super excited to receive this DVD for review. Both my son, and his little sister, LOVE Pocoyo! Pocoyo is sweet little boy who loves to explore the world around him with his sweet friends- a bird, duck, elephant, and a puppy! I love how the narrator talks to both the viewing audience, as well as Pocoyo. This engages the child watching, and pulls them into to the story as an active participant. 




About:


Embark on eleven playtime adventures with Pocoyo and friends as they learn the importance of playtime is enjoying it with others. Enjoy playing hide and seek to playing dress up as pirates! Ahoy there, Pocoyo! Learning through laughter has never been this fun! Plus, each episode includes a refresher section in which children are reminded of key words that have been covered during Pocoyos adventures such as colors, animals, and shapes. Each episode ends with a catchy music clip reinforcing one last time those important new words. Every day is an adventure with Pocoyo and friends.


 Stories Included:

  • Playtime
  • Camping
  • Hide and Seek
  • Wheels
  • The Amazing Tower 
  • Pocoyo's New Toys
  • Painting with Pocoyo
  • Playing Drss Up
  • Pocoyo's Restaurant
  • Ahoy, Pocoyo!
  • Traffic Jam
 * Includes 11 Music Videos

Check out Pocoyo for yourself, and let me know what you think in the comments! 



**Through the Open Window received a free copy for review. I wasn't required to right a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own, or those of my family.**

Winding down the year

It's that time of year when I take a step back to reflect upon the progress made. I'm going to be making a special post later tonight or tomorrow, but for now I just wanted to say this has been a huge year of changes. From too many doctor's appointments to keep track of, to loss and death, to a new backyard. This school year has certainly been one we won't soon forget!

Wordless Wednesday


Art Fun with Thin Stix (REVIEW)

The Pencil Grip, Inc
I always try my best to write informative, unbiased reviews. But, when you love a product as much as we love The Pencil Grip, Inc, well...I just say I tried to remain unbiased haha! I saw Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors by The Pencil Grip, Inc. and I KNEW Mr. B would LOVE them! They are just like Kwik Stix, but a thinner version. Where as the original Kwik Stix are more like glue stick in the way they feel in your hand, Thin Stix are more like markers. 

Thin Stix by KwikStix

Thin Stix are solid tempera paint stix that dry VERY fast. They are great for kids with special needs who may lack the finesse to use a traditional paint brush. OR kids like Mr. B who like to sling a loaded paint brush back and forth the stim factor! These are not mess free, but they do dry quickly so they keep messes to a minimum. They are not washable, so use caution with good clothing or carpet.

Our Experience:


Mr. B LOVES these! He was so excited to get them, he had the package ripped open before I could even get a picture of it! Within minutes he was well on his way to creating his masterpieces, as he calls them. Mr. B LOVES all things space and universe, and he loves weather. So he drew a lot of planets and radar images. Some of those planets were hung up on the ceiling, and he printed off brochures and such for "space tours." HAHA! He would take us to each planet and space object, tell us all about it, and then move on to the next. 
Here is a photo of some of the inner planets. For these, he actually mixed Thin Stix with regular markers.

He also painted souvenir photos for our space journey. Here are photos of those!

"Earth with Moon"


"The Ringed Planet, Saturn"


"Jupiter's Great Red Spot."
Of course, we couldn't launch off on our great Space journey without knowing the weather forecast! Thin Stix also provided the radar images! 


I don't know about you, but that looks like a pretty ominous forecast! 





We are also learning about "Abstract Art." Here's Mr. B's attempt:
Overall, we've had a blast on this review! The Thin Stix are blendable, easily held in your hand, and the smaller point allows for greater control. They dry just as fast as the Kwix Stix, and store just as well. Brayden used up his favorite colors pretty quickly, but he goes heavy handed with them. I'd like to see a pack that has additional blacks in it, since he seemed to use that one the most. The colors were well balanced, and he never felt like he was missing a color in the pack. They DO offer other color pack combos, and we'd love to try those out next.

Do you want to try Thin Stix on your own?! The good folks at The Pencil Grip, Inc. are offering a pack of the same Thin Stix we received for this review to the lucky winner of a giveaway hosted here on the blog!

All you have to do is enter below for your chance to win! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Does The Pencil Grip, Inc. Thin Stix 6 pk of Classic Colors Pass My 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?

These are marker like in feel, and they dry in about 90 seconds. They are not washable and will stain carpet, so take caution there. If you have adaptations in place for fine motor skills, that should work with Thin Stix. These are GREAT to help refine fine motor skills! 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

These are long lasting. They do not run out quickly, unless your child is like mine and decides to use them non stop for 4 days! HAHA! I can see people of all ages enjoying these! 
 
 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

My son could use these all day, every day.   

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

Art always ties in with other things! As you can see, we used these for our science class! 

We hope you enjoy Thin Stix as much as we have! Please check out The Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews! 



No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 22, 2017

Is Genesis History {FILM REVIEW!}






I was recently given the opportunity to watch and review Is Genesis History. This film was recently out in theaters, and it is now available for you to purchase on DVD. The film features more than a dozen scientists who explain how the world intersects with the biblical account of creation in the book of Genesis. The Film lays out the research and scholarly foundation for a true 6 day creation of our very existence. 
We begin with a reminiscence style story where a man is talking about his memories of riding horses with his dad through amazingly beautiful scenery. He points out how the canyon he is in is very much like the Grand Canyon. He questions how long it would take a little stream like the one flowing through the canyon to carve out such a deep crevice. He mentions the rock layers, and how some rocks are dated to be in the millions of years old range. Then he states something startling. He says that the canyon and rocks found within are actually younger than he is! Actually, they are younger than ME! The canyon is a result of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. This storytelling perfectly lays out the argument for a global flood, 6 day creation, and how it could all be possible. 




In college, I took a class called "Sociology of Science and Technology. This class frequently pointed out shifting paradigms in science and theories. It was once scientific belief that the world was flat. It was once scientific belief that the sun revolved around the earth. It was once scientific belief that one could determine the psychology of another by feeling the imperfections and "knots" in a person's skull. It was once believed that criminal or deviant behavior was biological, and thus could be predicted by a close inspection of a person's cranial size, or other physical attributes. It was once scientific belief that Pluto was the 9th planet, and it was also scientific belief that there couldn't possible be any other planets in the solar system-but now there's research that even threatens that previous thought. Paradigms are the circumstances surrounding the evidence, and how that evidence is interpreted. 




The conventional, scientific paradigm for creation is illustrated in the above graphic screen shot taken from the film. A big bang followed by billions of years of growth and evolution. 

The Genesis paradigm is different, and focuses on intelligent design by a Creator (God) in only 6 days. This is the basis of the film. To take both sides, compare and contrast, and prove the Genesis account to be accurate. 

Overall, I found this film to be excellent. The arguments presented are sound, and well researched and explained. It "makes sense." I have seen the same arguments presented in other ways that just made the argument sound ludicrous, and this is certainly not the case with this film. The experts are well educated, and well spoken. The cases are presented matter of factly, and a very well planned, well stated argument is made on behalf of the Genesis account. After watching this film, it is very easy to see just exactly how the Bible's account of creation just makes sense. Overall, I highly recommend this! 

**I was provided with a free screening of this film for the purposes of writing an honest, unbiased review. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.**

Friday, May 19, 2017

Captain Absolutely REVIEW

Focus On The Family


We love adding new reading material to our homeschool, so I was super excited to review Captain Absolutely by Focus On The Family. This is a really cute graphic novel style Christian book for kids that is based around Adventures in Odyssey.


 Captain Absolutely
I was really suprised when this came in because the artwork is really great. I was expecting more childish artwork for some reason. Why, I have no idea! But it's really good! The pages are kind of glossy, but not overly glossy. They are thick, too, which makes this more durable than a comic book.

The story is essentially about a guy (Josiah King) who is involved in an explosion. The explosion knocks him into a banned book area, and in this area he finds a Bible. He is able to read the Bible for the first time! He becomes Captain Absolutely when he reads God's word and comes to know God and understand his Plans for us. Darren is not so fortunate, and believes everyone should just live however they want. Darren becomes Dr. Relative when he basically becomes an Atheist who doesn't believe in God at all.

Our Thoughts:

Captain Absolutely and Dr. Relative fight and battle throughout the book. This is representational of the battles between good and evil. This is a great representation for kids to illustrate the on going battles we go through on a daily basis. It also points out "bad things" in a way kids can understand, like making temptation a villain. When put into a superhero comic book/graphic novel way, kids can more easily grasp the concepts presented in the book on a level with which they identify and understand. Mr. B had some difficulty following along with the pictures and dialogue. He's not accustomed to reading a comic book style graphic novel, so I had to guide and coach him so he wouldn't get lost in the process. Overall, he really enjoyed it. He liked the characters, and the story line. The presentation of it being a graphic novel is not "babyish" and really on the pre-teen level. The graphics and pictures are not crude or filthy like you'd see in other comics, so you can be safe in allowing your kids to free read this with out worry of anything inappropriate. As with anything religion based, I also advise reading through first to make sure it doesn't go against your personal, family beliefs.

Overall, we really like it. It's great for read aloud, or it's great to just let him free read on his own. For special needs/autism you may need to guide them, or maybe even number the order they should read if that is a problem for you like it was for us. After he got the hang it, there was no problem and I was able to let him go. That's a great thing now a days since even children's books have inappropriate (to us) content. I found nothing like that in Captain Absolutely. The superhero basis is all the rage now, and this book definitely has that angle. There are bible references included, so you could even use this as part of an overall Bible study if you really wanted to. It'd be great for a short study, at the very least. If you are familiar with Adventures in Odyssey, then some of the content may be familiar to you. If not, there is an episode list.
Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Homeschool Rescue {REVIEW}

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue
Every once in a while a product comes up for review where I think, "Ehh...I'm not sure if that's a need for us." Or I may think of a 100 different reasons why I may not get use out of it. I saw Homeschool Rescue and thought that I wasn't really sure if it was for me. Did our homeschool need new life breathed into it? I mean, we'd been chugging along nicely, or so I thought. So I really got to researching it, and thought, "what they hey diddle, lets give a whirl!" And people, let me tell you I am so glad I did! MERCY! I didn't even know I needed it as badly as I did! Only Passionate Curiosity has a home run with this dandy course!



Homeschool Rescue is streamed online through short videos and "homework." The lessons vary depending on where you are in the course. You start of with "Triage Your Homeschool." I will admit to spending a bit longer here. This is the first step where you really take a step back and assess your homeschool, and really your life.


Of course I paid special attention to Lesson 4 in Module 1, which is all about homeschooling under special circumstance such as chronic illness and special needs. There is mention of something called a "Grace Year." Oh my Heavens! MIND=BLOWN! We never had a full year where I had to take a break, but we have certainly had months, or even a span of multiple months, where things were so hectic, or Mr. B's health was so poor, that we didn't get anything structured accomplished. I had been beating myself up for it. Especially now with multiple trips every month to the children's hospital located 3 hours away (one way!) It has been HARD to stick to a schedule of anything at times. This lesson in particular helped to see that it is OK. We have circumstances that necessitate a change in direction at times. And you know what, I may not do everything the way others may deem fit and proper 100% of the time, but I do my very best! We may not do school work Mondays because I'm traveling, but he is still learning-and it's the very best I can do at this very moment with the hands life has dealt us.  She also says to approach everything with Grace, and asking for help is a good thing. That's Lesson 4. It's a true, real life, in your face-"You ARE good enough" talk.

Module 2 on schedules is also highlighted for us. This is what we are working on currently in our behavior program, so the tools shared are very useful for us!

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Heather is a sweetheart, and it shows. Going back to Lesson 4, Module 1 as my example, you can see her true, raw passion and emotion in what she is doing. And it's that personable connection that makes these lessons hit home, and work. She makes you feel like you're sitting in her kitchen with her, sharing a cup of tea, just chatting about life, home, and homeschooling. She gives great tips, the homework really puts things into perspective. They are so worth the time in doing them, and have really helped me a lot. One "homework" activity is to declutter your homeschool space. Well folks, we school all over the house I guess because I just took off with that whole declutter thing. I'm still working on that one! HAHA! I'm going all over the house evaluating what we use, how, why, etc.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Did I mention there's a member's only facebook group? YEP! There's a special little gem of a place just for members on Facebook where we can talk about things together, with Heather, and answer questions, seek support, etc. It's a great support network! 

Overall, whether you are new to homeschooling or a veteran like myself, you need this course. Try it, learn from it, embrace it, and love it the way I do! 
Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue
Please check out the rest of The Homeschool Review Crew to see what others have to say!
Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Second Chance {REVIEW}

A Second Chance FB Banner
Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book cover (2)
Book: A Second Chance
Author: Alexis A. Goring
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Jan 25, 2017

Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life.
Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death.
Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

My thoughts:

This is a pretty quick and short read with a cute storyline. It reminds me of a "talk" my dad gave me before he died about second chances and prince charming. For such a short read, the characters are well developed. As with any shorter story, there are times it could have been more developed-but that's to be expected in a shorter book. The supporting characters are a hoot, and really add depth and meaning to the overall story. Traci and Marc are made for each other, and that's pretty evident in the reading, even if they haven't figured that out yet. They are believable to a point, but at times I found them to be overly....I don't even know the word I'm looking for. Sweet maybe? Nice? Cute? That's not a bad thing, since it adds to the sweetness of the story.

**I received this free in exchange for my honest review**

About the Author

Original photo of Alexis A. Goring, Nov. 2014Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

Guest Post from Alexis Goring

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God has good plans for every single person living here on Earth. It’s important to remember to trust Him because no matter how bleak a situation looks, hope is always on the horizon when God’s in the picture…and the good news is that no matter what God is always in the picture.
I thought that it would be a good idea to explore the theme of Jeremiah 29:11 through a fictional story about characters who are in need of a second chance in life and love. So I create Traci and Marc and wrote their story, A Second Chance.
Traci and Marc are entry-level journalists therefore they struggle with the industry’s tough system of paying your dues and they know the conflicts firsthand about struggling to pay your bills because of that system.
But it’s not just the bills that weigh heavily on their hearts. Traci and Marc are facing battles that are unique to their individual life stories but common to people in the real world.
When the reader meets Traci, they see that she is bitter and cynical because she was left at the altar. Her fiancĂ© ran off with her Maid of Honor and left Traci with a mile-high stack of bills to pay for their wedding that never happened. So when Traci’s Mom shows up on her doorstep with an inheritance letter that stipulates Traci must be married before receiving her inheritance from her late grandfather, Traci is closer to destroying the letter and being a bachelorette for life than she is about husband hunting.
When the reader meets Marc, they see that he is smitten with Traci at first sight. But they soon learn that he has trust issues because of his previous romantic relationships with women who would dump him because he was “too nice.” However, his niceness is of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina who is struggling to raise her children in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death. Naturally, Marc wants to help his sister. So he volunteers to babysit her kids and take them out of the house so that she can meet her book deadlines. Gina is a bestselling romance novelist.
All of these main characters go on their own faith journey with God. Some resist His love at first (like Traci), some draw back because of broken trust (like Marc) and some heal slowly from pain (like Gina) but they all realize how much they need God in their life.
Faith elements are a woven lightly throughout this story but also go deep as the characters work toward wholeness and restoration.
If anything, this is a story about how the Creator of the Universe (God) loves humankind and desires to restore broken hearts, homes and lives.
I hope that you will enjoy reading this book!
God bless your heart.
Sincerely,
Alexis A. Goring
Author of A Second Chance

Blog Stops

May 9: A Greater Yes
May 10: Quiet Quilter
May 11: Remembrancy
May 14: Carpe Diem

Friday, May 12, 2017

Thrive, Plexus, and all the others.

I try to be a pretty positive person most of the time, but I have to admit to get really tired of the incessant sales pitches I get on a daily basis from my "friends" trying to sell me health products. My Facebook news feed is covered in what I call Commercial Posts from friends who are so eager to share the news Thrive product, or the latest, greatest Plexus deal. STOP IT! This is part of what is wrong in the world today. $150/month for thrive? Oh...but if I get 3 people to sign up under me, then mine is free? How does that even work? How? I'll tell you, it's called Pyramid marketing. I am sick of the daily emails telling me I'll have more energy, a slimmer waistline, and feel like "enjoying life" more if I dish out the money for all of these products. Suuuuure...I'll give you my $150/month so I can have the energy to do all of the things I can no longer afford. Seems like a great idea! And have you read the ingredients list? Don't even get me started. So please, PLEASE save us both the time, effort, and heart ache and just leave me alone! I didn't want the products last year when you asked, last month, last week, 3 days ago, yesterday...why do you think I want them today?!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Math enrichment from Algebra for Breakfast REVIEW

Algebra for Breakfast
Mr. B LOVES Math, but sometimes he gets a bit lost in the logic and processes of math. It's great for him to have a good visual, hands on approach, to tackling the concepts that trouble him. I was excited to learn about a really cool video-based enrichment program called Algebra for Breakfast. Mr. B does really well with online video programs, so I was pretty sure that Algebra for Breakfast would be just what we needed to help us through a few hurdles.

For this review, I'm reviewing 6 months access to the 5-6 level (AFB 56.)
This includes the topics of:

• Countability
• Operation Sense
• The Skip Counting Principle
• Unknown Numbers and the Meaning of Variables
• A Multi-Sensorial Approach to Algebra & Mathematics
• The FNLN Principle: Identifying Like Terms and Unlike Terms
• Variables  and Constants: Units, x, and x2
• Operation Sense and Number Sense
• Order of Operations (This one is the one I am most excited about) 
• Polynomial Identification
• The Rectangle Principle: Arithmetic Factoring
• The Rectangle Principle: Quadratic Factoring
• Countable vs Uncountable Amounts
• Integers: Identifying Positive & Negative Numbers
• Symbol vs Name vs Meaning
• Factoring Analysis: the Skip Counting Principle
• Integer Addition: Multiple Modalities
• Exponents and Powers: Operation Sense
• Square Numbers, Cubic Numbers, & Powers of 2
• Dimensional Analysis of First- and Second-Degree Powers
• Real-World Examples of x, x2, x3, etc.
• Mental Imagery for Arithmetic
• Equivalency & Equivalency Transformation
• GERMDAS and Order of Operations
• Finding and Creating Zeroes
• Analysis of Addition & Subtraction of Like & Unlike Terms
• Problem Solving with Exponential Thinking
• Binomial Multiplication
• Binomial Factoring
• More Multi-Sensorial Math: Pictorial Algebra
• Integer Multiplication
• Mental Algebra: Using the Imagination
• Drawing Algebra: Internalizing the Concepts
• Algebraic Substitution
AND MORE! 

What is it?

AFB is an online video based math that incorporates visual and hands-on elements. There are the videos that are filmed live with a group of students, worksheets, games, and the use of manipulatives. 

Our Experience

We have been plagued for the last 6-8 weeks with faulty internet service. It seems to be only on my computer. You know, the only one used for school work and such. Mr. B can't use M's computer because it's for his work, and we can't risk anything happening to it. We have done EVERYTHING trying to figure out what is wrong! M is an IT manager, and he's soooo frustrated! We've changed network cards, used signal boosters, changed modems and routers, you name it and it's been tried. With that said, we had some difficulties in that regard that others will not experience with a better connection.

I had a hard time getting started, but again, that's just me. I need blatant in your face billboard log in and interface. I'm not sure if it's the program, or just my internet, but when I sign in we were taken to an odd screen. Then I have to click at the top, click visit site, then click on "Member Login" and that takes me to a list on the side that allows me to choose what lesson and activity I want him to work on.


Lets start with Prep Activities. These are a lot of fun!



 We were really eager to get started. And, in true fashion to my internet woes of late, I needed to upgrade my flash player LOL! Seriously....I am really starting to hate technology in my life lol! So....after that took far longer than it should have because my computer hates me, we were off and running! Seriously, after all of this, I was pretty sure this program at better be worth all the effort I had put into getting it going on my end! And....IT IS!

First things first, you have to make Number Playing Cards.



The video really breaks down how to do this, and the reasoning why. For example, you place dots like you see on dice. He makes it point to reinforce that we don't count those dots. When we see dice, and we see that pattern, we instantly know its five. this will go a long way into reinforcing mental math.

For the Play Cards, I bought index cards. But, Mr. B LOVES index cards and had them out and used before I had a chance to fix them! So I took a few sheets of sturdy cardstock, and cut them down to a more appropriate card size. Then I used clear contact paper to sort of laminate them. That way we can use them longer without them getting damaged.

I really like Multiplication war. You turn over two cards, and the first person to say the product wins that round. The instructor also gives some suggestions about giving the adult, or more experienced student, a handicap when playing with a younger child so that the younger child as a more fair playing experience, and adjusting as necessary. I'm pretty sure Mr. B needed that handicap for me to play... haha!



The videos are very short, and the instructor is pleasant to hear. Mr. B enjoyed the ability to be able to pause for breaks or rewatch for better understanding. I do find flaws with the filmography. I wish was more advanced, and better suited to at home learning. Sometimes there's some camera shake that bugs me, and sometimes the focus is on his face with kids surrounding him and cut off and we can't see what they are looking at on the table.



It then eventually swaps over to where you can see the table, and then it's live picture in picture with the table as the larger video and him talking as the small one in the corner.




I know I'm biased in the photography and video aspects, but I think an already good program could be even better with better video and editing. The video above ends sort of abruptly, and I would have liked to have watched them finish the game.

It is really great to hear the kids asking questions, here him answer, or ask them questions and they will answer. Sometimes they get the answers wrong, and that's great because it's real life. It's not scripted.

It is made clear that you are to do the prep activities first, then proceed through the lessons.



Each lesson as a short video to introduce what is going to be happening. I really do wish the videos showed what was going on as he asks. That would be so beneficial to kids like Mr. B. For example, on Introducing X-Squared, he tells you in the intro video to get out your blocks when he tells the kids to do the same. So in the video he's giving the instructions to the kids after telling them the red square manipulative is x square. But, we NEVER get to see the kids following the directions. We see a brief screen take that shows what blocks a couple have out, but we never get to see them taking them out, or touching anything he says to touch, etc. That makes for a huge disconnect between the video class and the at home student. It's great we see him talking, but we don't need to see him to hear him. We NEED to see the kids and the blocks so that kids, especially special needs kids like Mr. B, can follow suit and see their peers doing the same thing.




This is what we see while he's giving directions and students are getting out their blocks. At one point he says, "Don't stack them like that.....make sure they are laying flat..." I would have found it extremely helpful to have seen what the error was so that I could make sure it wasn't repeated with Mr. B.

Following the lessons there are worksheets and a "Parent's Corner." The Parent's Corner is basically the download for the answer sheet. I really like having those separate so that if I hit print all on the print page, I'm not inadvertently printing answer sheets I may not even need.

The worksheets are not flashy and they are not full of just mindless busy work. They pair very well with the videos so that your child's learning is reinforced on paper and you can get a true sense of their understanding.




Overall:

Overall, I like this approach. Mr. Hazen's teaching style is calm and easy to follow. But, with this being a video based program, I am not fond of the video aspect here. I think a lot more could be done to expand on the videos and make this program fantastic. There needs to be wider angles, a tripod in use, and maybe some better editing. We don't need to see his face or cut off heads, but rather we need to see what is going on on the tables and desks of the kids. I'd prefer a longer video that showed the whole process of the game or lesson, rather than one that ends rather awkwardly with a fade out while others are still talking. I know they are filmed with a live class, and not scripted, but for teaching purposes a more planned out approach would work much better. For example, during the video that introducing the math dice, that could have been filmed as just an introduction. Something like, "Ok kids, we are going to do a quick teaching lesson to teach our friends at home how to use math dice! Who's ready to help?"Focus on the table and dice, and then go on from there. Instead of fading out while the others are still playing, a switch back to only him (maybe with the kids around him) saying, "And that's how we use the math dice! We hope you have as much fun as we do!" and then a fade out as they go back to playing their game. THAT would be a great video and really build upon his already great teaching style. That is the only complaint I have. Mr. B has done very well with the worksheets, and we will probably continue to use this until our membership expires as a supplemental program.

Does Algebra for Breakfast Pass My 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?

This is an online based program, so you are at the mercy of your time limit there. You can start and stop where you need. The videos are easily paused, and rewatched. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?
There are 2 level choices. 3-4 and 5-6. There are 3 different packages to choose from. The first one includes all of the physical manipulatives you need. The second one includes the dice and skip counting CD, but no block manipulatives. And the last one is content only, but you do need the physical products to fully use the program. 

3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
The videos are very short, and Mr. B loved the games. It is varied enough, but I personally feel kids with autism and ADHD need to see what is going on in the classroom in the videos. 

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.
This is only math. 

Please check out the Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews on this level, as well as the 3-4 level!
Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer