Friday, April 28, 2017

Drive Thru History {REVIEW}

Drive Thru History
We love History in our home, especially Bible history, so I was so excited to be chosen to review the newest Drive Thru History® DVD set , Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”. This DVD set includes a great study guide and 18 episodes that span 9 hours. You go on a journey with Dave Stotts as he visits and explores the physical places in the Bible, and matches them with the actual scriptures from the Bible. 

Drive Thru History The Gospels

The 18 episodes included are:
  1. The Historical Landscape
  2. The Announcements
  3. Jesus is Born
  4. Jesus Grows Up
  5. Jesus Starts His Ministry
  6. Jesus Returns to Galilee
  7. Jesus Begins His Miracles
  8. Jesus Teaches with Authority
  9. The Sermon on the Mount
  10. Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee
  11. Jesus Travels North with His Apostles
  12. A Final Trip to Jerusalem
  13. Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
  14. The Last Supper
  15. The Trial of Jesus
  16. The Crucifixion of Jesus
  17. The Resurrection of Jesus
  18. Who is Jesus?
Our Experience:
Drive Thru History The Gospels
I had every intention of using this set as a weekly Bible study from the start, incorporating the Study Guide with each program. Then, my step dad's health declined rapidly and he was put under Hospice care. Such a lively and vibrant man just a year ago was now bedridden and unable to even go outside to sit on the porch. One day, my mom needed to be gone for an extended period of time so I drove over and stayed the day with him. I took this DVD set with me, knowing as a preacher he would really enjoy it. And boy was I right! He became alive seeing the places of the Bible, and matching it up with real scripture. We were both so enthralled that we just kept watching, until he finally fell asleep. All in all, I believe we watched 6 episodes on the first day!

Everything is arranged chronological, beginning with the land of Jesus' life. We then go through the birth and life of Jesus, exploring more than 50 ancient places in Israel, ultimately ending where you'd expect with the resurrection and prophesy. Frequently I would hear my step dad comment, "That's right. That's what it says." It's definitely memories I'll cherish forever. 

Drive Thru History The Gospels
I brought the set back home, and decided to start all over at the beginning with M and Mr. B. I knew they'd like it as well, especially Mr. B because it coincides with the history we were doing this year. During the episodes, we talked a lot about how things were different than we imagined. Mr. B noted the difference in mangers, and how at Christmas they are all depicted as wooden structures. I always envisioned something like a barn stall. But Drive Thru History found them to be sort of like above ground cellars-concrete like structures that would have housed animals.
Drive Thru History The Gospels

I found episodes 15-17 particularly moving, especially since we were watching just before Easter. Something about seeing the actual places just made it more emotional. It brought it to a whole new light for all of us, I think. Especially Mr. B who I think had a hard time trying to picture the places he read about in the Bible. Even M said a few things really surprised him when he saw the actual places. 
Drive Thru History The Gospels

The study guide is included in the DVD set, and is made up of  118 color pages. This guide is great to use as a weekly study guide to promote discussion and deeper thinking. It flows beautifully with each episode, and it's very easy to use. Mr. B LOVES to just sit and read it and look at the pictures. I also used some of the discussion questions as writing prompts for Mr. B. You know how much I love products that cover more than one subject, and The Gospels does just that. We have Bible, History, Geography, and I managed to throw in Reading and Language Arts by having Mr. B read the study guide and write about the questions posted. 
The episodes are entertaining and educational. David Stotts has a fun, knowledgeable personality which made the viewing that much better. We love documentaries anyway, but they really are made much better when the narrator is well spoken.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this set to everyone! 

Does Drive Thru History® DVD set , Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” 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 a PHYSICAL product. You can tailor it to fit your schedule as you see fit. I wouldn't skip around since the episodes are arranged chronologically, as best as possible. You can choose to watch them all at once, or spread them out and use the included study guide. It's all up to you. 

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?

The intended age is 5th grade and up, but I can see younger kids enjoying the DVDs. 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?
Each episode is around 30-minutes long. Mr. B had no problems maintaining attention since it interests him. You can always pause and start again, if needed. 

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

You could tie this in with Bible studies, geography, history-especially Bible History, etc. We even used it for Reading and Language Arts since I pulled from the Study Guide and had him read the summaries in the Study Guide, and answer discussion questions like they were essay questions. 
Drive Thru History The Gospels
I'm only 1 of 100 reviewers of The Homeschool Review Crew who reviewed this product. Please click below to check out their reviews! 
The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Planet 316 REVIEW

Planet 316
I am an app game junkie. I can't help it. I have to sit in waiting rooms so often, I just get bored to tears! So I am always a fan of new apps that I can use to pass the time. Planet 316 has a Daily Bible Jigsaw puzzle app that is a LOT of fun! As an added bonus for reviewing the free to download app, Planet 316 supplied me with a 500 coin package.

Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

Daily Bible Jigsaw is a fun app that is available on a variety of platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows, and even Facebook. You can easily link to your Facebook account so your progress is saved, and so you can compete with your Facebook friends-Which I did! Each day you have the chance to complete a free puzzle. Puzzles are timed, and the faster you complete the puzzle, the faster your time score is. There are bonus objectives you can compete, too, and those award extra coins. Examples of the bonuses include completing so many Monday puzzles, or Tuesday puzzles, etc. Or completing puzzles in a certain time frame. Each completed puzzle includes a daily Bible verse. Each puzzle you complete reveals a small portion of a monthly picture and verse.

 There are also special puzzles that have more pieces.There are also a selection of "cheats" or "Helps" that you can use to get a better time. 

  • Rotate: This "Help" rotates all of the pieces to the right orientation. Without this, you must click on the pieces to rotate them to try and fit them together. I found this extremely useful because my mouse is wonky and double clicks when I don't want it to. By using rotate, I was able to avoid the problems caused by the double click of my mouse. 
  • Guide: This allows you to take a peek at the completed puzzle. 
  • Sweep: This sweeps all of the pieces to either side so the middle is clear. This is particularly useful to make sure your puzzle isn't hiding missing pieces. 
  • Magnet: This joins two pieces together.
  • Edges: This clears away all of the pieces except for the edges. Once you have all of the edges put together, the other pieces come back. 
Each of these helps costs coins. And coins can be bought, or freely obtained by meeting bonus objectives and sharing on Facebook. I wish there was another way to get coins each day. Maybe something like spinning a wheel, or just a daily coin bonus each day you sign in to play that increases with each subsequent day. Perhaps a puzzle piece to overturn each day that awards a free cheat, or coins, each day. I think that would be great for this app!

Here are a few screen snips of my gaming experience. 

Here is a screen snip of the Awards. These are the special bonus objectives I was talking about earlier. 

Each puzzle is a beautiful photo with a verse. I love it!

Here is a better view of the Awards. The awards that have been earned have a green check mark.

This is what a fully completed month looks like. 

This was Easter Sunday's puzzle. I thought it was beautiful. 

Here is mid completion. 

I did not screen snip the screen that shows my friends and their times since it does show your name on it. 


Overall this has been a really fun app! Mr. B and I like to work our daily puzzles each night before bed. I've gone back and redone a few to get better times, in an attempt to beat the times of a few people haha. Each puzzle can be shared on your timeline, showing the picture and the verse to inspire others. I wish there was a daily coin bonus, but other than that I really like the app! 

 Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316
Please check out the Homeschool Review Crew for more reviews! 
Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {REVIEW}

Apologia Educational Ministries
Apologia Educational Ministries never ceases to live up to my expectations. We have loved every product we have reviewed for them, and Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) is no exception. For this review, we received the full set which includes a Teacher's Guide and a Student test/workbook. This set is very similar to Writers in Residence set that we reviewed last year, with a similar look, layout, and overall feel.
Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence
The above product image is a little deceiving because it doesn't show the full scale size of the student workbook. If you are familiar with Writers in Residence, Readers in Residence is the same size. This book is very large.

Readers in Residence is a really great reading curriculum that uses easy to find books you may already own. It starts off with Sarah, Plain and Tall and historical fiction novels. Your child will complete short lesson activities in each module that build upon one another to fully cover a given topic. As mentioned above, the book is very large. You may wish to unbind it and rebind into sections to make it a little easier to transport or write in. My son doesn't have a problem with writing in it the way it is. Some children with Autism may not like the size of the book since some with autism feel as if they have to complete the entire book in one sitting. So if your child is like that, you may wish to unbind, and rebind in your own way.

How we used this:
We started off with Module 1. This course is pretty wordy, but it is written in an easy to read conversation tone that Mr. B seems to really enjoy. He would often ask to work ahead a module or 3, just because he was enjoying the reading.  He really liked the idea of a book club in the beginning of the book, and immediately started planning all future book clubs. We would work a day or two of modules 3-4 days a week. The first book is Sarah, Plain and Tall. With this Unit, your child will learn about historical fiction, and the basics of a book. He learned about cover pages, drawing conclusions from the front and back cover and images, characterization, and reading like a detective. Some activities had him scouring the house making lists of various books of different genres and types. He was quite upset because we apparently do not have any autobiographies in the house! 

I really liked the progression of the lessons as they just made sense. It started with the cover and moved inward. Mr. B had a difficult time using clues from the cover to draw conclusions as to what he thought the book would be about, so this was a great lesson for him. His favorite activity thus far has been making his own book cover. He really enjoyed drawing his own picture, and writing his own biography for the back.

Most often, we read the selections from each module together, and we would discuss all of the critical thinking questions so that I could make sure Mr. B was fully grasping everything. He really enjoyed watching me assign numbers to his grading rubric, and taking part in that as well.

When we moved on to Module 2, he got hung up on main and minor characters. It wasn't that he couldn't understand the concept, but because he wanted to apply that lesson to EVERYTHING! He would make lists of his favorite books and list all of the characters in each book for a few days. We had to spend a bit more time on Module 2.4 Making Inferences because this is a very hard concept for the autistic brain to "get." We spent about a week working on inferences before I felt comfortable moving ahead. That's the great part about this program, you can stop where you are in the book to work more on a topic that may give your child a little trouble.

I need to point out that we used an eBook we borrowed from the library for Sarah, Plain and Tall. If you have the ability to have the physical book, that is a lot better because you have to reference the back cover for certain activities, and we couldn't get the back cover to show on the iPad, so we had to use a different book instead.

At the end of each book, your child can choose a book in the same genre, and there is a unit for each OYO (On Your Own) book. There are similar questions asked, so your child must apply what they learned from the required book to the book of their choice. He hasn't yet chosen his OYO books for Historical Fiction or Animal Fantasy, but he did jump ahead and choose a Disaster Strikes book for Realistic Fiction.

I much prefer curriculum sets that include pre-planned lesson plans, and Readers in Residence has this. I do wish the reading portion was included in the full lesson plan. At the beginning of the modules that require reading it will instruct the student what to read, but that is not included in the daily schedule, unless it is your chosen OYO (On Your Own) book. This is a really great reading program, and probably our favorite of those we have tried. I wish the Teacher's Guide had the suggested daily schedule in the front, like the student book. Instead, it starts on page 177. I also wish the teacher edition rubrics were included as the occur in the modules, instead of all together at the end of the answer key book. Those are very minor tweaks that do not affect the overall program at all. I do like the changing colors of the included daily schedule, as the break in colors makes it easy to see different sections, and when they start/end.

We haven't yet finished with Sarah, Plain and Tall, but the course also includes "Animal Fantasy" with Charlotte's Web, and "Realistic Fiction" with Because of Winn Dixie. Debra Ball has hit another home run with Readers in Residence. The module lessons are short enough that Mr. B doesn't lose interested, but the contain everything he needs to learn at this stage. Plot, setting, parts of a book, genres, characterization, inferences, and more are fully covered in this excellent reading curriculum.  The layout and progression is easy to follow and logical. The pages are colorful, but not distracting. The activities are a mix of "get up and move" style where your child has to hunt around the house for certain types of books, to writing activities where they have to answer specific questions. There are even art and hands on style activities, such as creating your own book cover or drawing in the 3rd module. Overall, we really like this reading program and plan to finish using it!

For more information, please check out the Readers in Residence landing page with free samples, and the FAQ page.
Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence
Does Readers in Residence 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 a PHYSICAL product. You can tailor it to fit your schedule as you see fit. I would Not skip around because the modules tend to build on the previously covered content.

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?

The intended ages are 4th grade and up. The book suggests 4-6th grade, but for unique needs students, slightly older than that would benefit from this course if they need to sharpen their comprehension skills, or skills that are covered in this book. This would cover multiple grades, and there are no hidden fees other than the fact you must either purchase or borrow the necessary books. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
The lessons are relatively short and quick. Mr. B has not had an issue at all with the duration, and has even asked to work ahead a little. The size of the book make be daunting for some with autism, but that could easily be engineered in such a manner as to reduce that type of anxiety. 

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

You could incorporate what you are reading in Readers in Residence into a unit study, etc. Mr. B is really into all things American Revolution, so his historical fiction choice leans that way. 
Several other Homeschool Review Crew members reviewed this product. Please check out their reviews, too! 
Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Eclectic Homeschooling Day 2: Spring Blog Hop 2017 SCHEDULE

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Schedules are important, especially in the special needs world. Schedules reduce anxiety, set parameters for what the day will be like, and gives kids a sense of control. They provide structure needed to help kids, especially special needs kids, feel secure and know what to expect.

With that said, I hate schedules. I was so positive we had no schedule to our life, that I even told one of Mr. B's autism doctors the same. She asked me to keep a log of everything we do from the time we wake up, until the time we go to bed. Funny thing, we have a natural schedule and I had no idea!! But, our schedule is fluid. We are able to change it up if needed. We can add activities, take away, whatever. Here are two days of activities:

10am: Mr. B wakes up, has breakfast, gets dressed, takes all meds. He enjoys an hour of free play.

11am: School time! I let Mr. B choose the order.
-Reading: 1 day in Readers in Residence
-Math: 2 worksheets, working on Order of Operations
-History: 2 lessons from World History, 2 lessons from Biographies of the Revolution
-Language Arts: 2 Pages from Language Smarts
-Science: Done throughout the day via hands on, exploration, documentaries.

2:00 PM -Free time
2:45: Clean up time
3:30: Grocery store, run errands, home to free play
6:00: Mom is starting dinner, Mr. B is reading.
7:00: Dinner time followed by Family time
9:00: Night time clean up time.
10:30 Bed Zzzzzz

Then here we have another day:

10am Wake up, dress, meds, food.
11:30 Leave for Science Blitz/egg hunt. Stay until 5:30
5:45: Meet M for dinner|
7:00 home, free play.
9:35 late movie at the mall
11:30 bed

That second day is nothing like the first, or is it? He still woke up at the same time. He still did educational activities at the same time. He still had down time at the same time. Sure, we added in a late night movie at the mall, but even that didn't throw it off too much.

I think a schedule is very important. We still have time to change things up as needed, and our days are never the same. But we still do the same category like activities around the same time, every day.

I'm not a curriculum planner. I always have great ideas and plans, and then I forget. Tomorrow I plan to discuss our curriculum choices, and why we choose what we choose. A lot of it boils down to the planning that is included. I much prefer curriculum choices that are easy to follow, and already planned for us.

Please check out what my fellow Crew Mates have to say!
5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Just the Way You Are REVIEW

Just the way you are FB cover
Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Click to purchase
Book: Just the Way You Are
Author: Pepper Basham
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Single mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance safely housed within a centuries-old mystery, but when she travels to England to unearth the secret, an actor with a sordid past offers her reluctant heart a very different type of discovery.

Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, he’s managed to avoid romantic entanglements since a tragedy upended his career and life, that is until American Eisley Barrett comes along. Her authenticity and kindness upend his bitter assumptions and send his heart into unscripted territory.
When his past threatens to ruin a second chance at love, can some Appalachian matchmaking and letters from the grace salvage their unexpected romance?

About the Author

PepperquiltPepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes novels inspired by her love for history and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Penned in Time series has garnered recognition in the Inspys, Grace Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. Her contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, received 4-stars from Romantic Times, and most recently, her newest release, The Thorn Healer, received a Top Pick from RT with 4 ½ stars. Her newest contemporary romance, Just the Way You Are, releases in April 2016. You can get to know Pepper on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley, or Instagram.

Guest post from Pepper Basham

Thank you so much for featuring my newest novel, Just the Way You Are, on CelebrateLit. I am THRILLED to be a part of this and to share a story that is very dear to my heart.
Just the Way You Are is my first ‘true’ Britallachian romantic comedy. Even though I’ve written comedy in some of my other novels and included elements of both Appalachia and Britain, this one embodies the tag #britallachian to the core. For those of you who’ve read some of my previous books, you know I’m a big fan of my native Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian culture. You may also know that I’m a proud Anglophile.
Those two loves met in Just the Way You Are – and I tossed lots of other things I love best into the mix. What are those ingredients, you might ask?
Well, let me just tell ya! Just the Way You Are is a blend of Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian culture, big (hilarious) family dynamics, matchmaking, Britain, a swoony English hero, a quirky, magnanimous heroine, a bunch of adorable kids, Scooby Doo and Indiana Jones references, lots of humor, a historical mystery, a devious villainess, stately manor houses, secret rooms, love letters, and matchmaking all rolled into one…oh, and did I mention brain-numbing romance?
(Did anyone else feel the need to add “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, miracles, true love….” From the Princess Bride?) J I don’t think I included torture, giants, or monsters in Just the Way You Are…but I may have the other elements in this novel J
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating about the brain-numbing, but I do have a tendency to err on the side of overly dramatic J
Within the pages of Just the Way You Are, you’ll meet people from my own family, people from my imagination, and some people who stepped into the story without one ounce of my planning to ever meet them. This story came out of my desire to write something I love reading – spicy romance, clean humor, culture clashes, the big love of family, and redemption.
How did my heroine Eisley Barrett evolve? Out of thin air. I was washing dishes one afternoon and staring out the window into our small backyard with the Blue Ridge Mountains painting a purplish-blue frame on the horizon when I closed my eyes. Into my imagination came this ginger-headed woman walking through Heathrow International Airport pulling a hot pink bag behind her…and then, she tripped and fell. That was it. That’s how I was introduced to my insecure, hilarious, romance-loving, single-mom heroine.
And the dashing hero? Okay, this may sound ridiculous, but I was watching an interview about Richard Armitage (Thoron Oakenshield, Guy of Gisborne, etc) regarding his lovely costume drama North and South where he plays a very dashing British hero. Anyway, he was SUCH a gentleman to watch during the interview. So polite. Kind. Funny, in a sweet way, and then, out of the blue, he said the word ‘gosh’. I know, that may not be a big deal to anyone but me, but after watching celebrity interviews where every other word needed a censor, the very fact that this elegant man used the word ‘gosh’, sent my writing brain into motion. My first internal question? What if a movie star with a tender heart had been burned by the pretension and expectation of celebrity status? What kind of woman could touch a heart who’d lost his faith in love’s authenticity?
Enter my red-head single-mom toting her pink bag through Heathrow and you have the very beginning of Just the Way You Are – a story of forgiveness, second chances…and a little bit of movie magic.
My Thoughts

I love stories that involve my home, Appalachia. This certainly lives up to my expectations. The author does a very good job of portraying Appalachian charm and culture. I love the dynamics between the two lead characters. These could be people I know in my every day life. Yes, even in good Ol' Appalachia I have British friends HAHA! (why that shocks people, I'll never know...) I think Eisley's trip to England is very interesting, and perhaps not something most from this area would be able to do-but that's why it's fiction, right? Not everything in a book has to be exactly to a T the way the real world functions! These characters are full of life, personable, and believable. The story line is interesting and well paced. Good job!

**I received this free in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Blog Stops

April 6: cherylbbookblog
April 8: Bookworm Mama
April 9: Quiet Quilter
April 10: Faithfully Bookish
April 10: Back Porch Reads
April 11: Robin’s Nest
April 13: Cordially Barbara
April 14: A Greater Yes
April 15: Just Commonly
April 15: 100 Pages per Hour
April 16: Book by Book
April 17: Splashes of Joy
April 18: Karen Sue Hadley
April 19: Henry Happens
April 19: Baker Kella


To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away a Grand Prize consisting of:
A ‘chest’ – in JTWYA historical letters are discovered in a chest that relates to the historical storyline, so all of these lovely goodies are going to be safely inside this chest.
Chocolate – several references take place in JTWYA that compare the hero to chocolate 😉
A plaque about family – because that’s a main point of importance in JTWYA
A Spider-man zipper pull – Pete, the heroine’s son, is a major Spider-man fan.
English Breakfast Tea – The hero is English…swoony English
A dishcloth – again, something that relates to a scene in the book regarding the hero and dishes (twice)
Stirring spoon and measuring cups – food and cooking are a big part of Appalachian culture and fellowship, something celebrated in JTWYA
A notebook – Eisley (the heroine) is taking notes about a historical family mystery
A lovely container full of cloth flowers (for fun, and beauty) – the container says – Love and you will be loved. Loving others has an amazing way to find its way back to us (as is what happens in JTWYA)
A little plaque that reads “You are Loved” – a theme of this story
A beautiful lace doily from England (the English part of the story)
Some “Pixie Dust” a fun visualization of the ‘magic’ of romance in this story
and A copy of Just the Way You Are!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Eclectic Homeschooling: Blog Hop Day 1

So today is the first day of the 2017 April Blog Hop! Are you excited?! I sure am! Myself, and members of the Homeschool Review Crew are taking part in this 5 day series, so PLEASE be sure to check out the other blogs. There are so many different topics being covered.

Sometimes, life gets crazy, and sometimes you just need a change of scenery and pace. We tend to be more eclectic homeschoolers, than most. We incorporate different methods for different subjects, use a fluid schedule, and we aren't afraid of change.

I have found over the years, we have to be fluid in our methods. Mr. B's interests and likes change. Mr. B loves online work and play, but not for every subject. And not all the time for the subjects he likes. He likes Math online, like CTC. But at the same time, he also has a need for more traditional worksheet type work. He prefers reading and language arts to be paper, and not online. He prefers a more traditional or Charlotte mason approach to both of those subjects. He like spelling online, and he likes any form or method of science. He can read all day long about science topics, he loves hands on, and he's perfectly happy to explore on his own! We tend to gravitate to Charlotte Mason style for history, but traditional is OK, too.

Given our hectic schedule, we may not always be able to do schoolwork on a fixed time frame or at home, so we have developed a philosophy of the world being our classroom.

Another thing that keeps us eclectic in nature is the Homeschool Review Crew. I don't think many of my readers realize how much change takes place on a regular basis, or maybe they do-they just don't understand HOW we do it. We may review 2 or 3 different math programs in a year. I think our first year on the Crew, we reviewed 4! It's our easy ability to add and remove programs to suit our needs that enable us to be good reviewers.

Over the next 5 days, I plan to show you an inside look into our homeschool. From curriculum choices, to our daily "schedule," I hope you will find the information useful in your own homeschool adventures!!

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

April 5 Days Blog Hop

Pretty soon, I will be taking part in a Blog Hop for 5 days along with several other Homeschool Review Crew members. We all have different topics, so be sure to check out each blog! I couldn't decide on just 1 theme, so I thought Eclectic Homeschooling with Special Needs would be perfect.

I plan to discuss topics like curriculum choices, scheduling, managing out of state doctor's visits, managing the chaos of life's changes while dealing with Autism and ADHD, etc.

The Blog Hop officially begins April 17th, so stay tuned! 

Northern Speech Services REVIEW

Northern Speech Services
Speech therapy is a HUGE part of our lives, and has been since Mr. B was only 14 months old. Speech therapy is a crucial aspect of Autism therapy, and positive outcomes. I was very excited to learn of Northern Speech Services and their Color My Conversation program because I felt as if this program could be very beneficial to us in our homeschool.
Color My Conversation (CMC) is a very unique, multi-sensory at home speech therapy program. CMC includes a lot of visual, hands on manipulatives, as well as training videos online. Of course, this is not in any way intended to replace medical services, etc. BUT, if you are like me and you continue the therapy long after the sessions, CMC is for you. And, lets face it, not all insurance companies are on board with therapy for children with autism or developmental delays, especially late diagnosis children. Not every family is fortunate enough to live in an area where they can seek therapy services at a clinic. CMC is a great program for those situations.

We received the following:

- Inflatable Ball: used to remind or enhance the lesson of turn taking during conversations.
- "stepping stones:" These floor path stones are made of a rubber type material, and they do not easily skid on hardwood floors. These have a dry erase top, and we used them to visually see the flow of conversation.
-Approx. 9.5 feet of cloth ribbon
-Game board
-100 game pieces
-Game cards
-Wall poster
-Topic cards-great for conversation starters
-Music CD
-Dry erase wall cards
-2 Dry erase markers
-Instruction manual on CD
I think I covered everything in the box! The box is really strong, too. And everything easily fits in it. It's the perfect size to slip on a shelf, or under the coffee table like I do. 

Northern Speech Services Color My Conversation

How it Works:

CMC is broken into different levels.
  • Beginner is for ages 5-12. This is your foundational level where kids learn about the rules of conversation. This is when the floor "stones" are introduced. You will toss a ball back and forth to demonstrate turn taking, and the flow of conversation is laid out.
  • Intermediate is for ages 5-12. This is where you take the rules, and expand. Your child will learn about WH questions, how to speak up and be clear, how to change topics, etc.
  • Advanced is for ages 8-12. Here, kids will comment on what is going on, or what others are doing. Kids will role play more here with being the main speaker or the main listener, and learn better strategies to change topics and take turns while speaking. This is the level I personally feel will be best suited if you can find a small group-even 2 or 3. It can be adapted, but I think a few same age peers would be perfect for this setting. If possible, perhaps even a mixed group- a couple neurotypical "role model" students as well as a couple with language issues. Mr. B's pre-school class was set up in this fashion, and the results were fantastic.
  • Expert Level: Variable ages. This is where you take the classroom learning and apply it to the real world. We have a local grocery store not far from us where most of the people working there know all about B. This is a good place to start the real world stuff for us when we get to that point. 

The Methods Used:
Making this even better for autism, CMC doesn't just stick with one mode or method. The course incorporates:
  • Sign Language
  • Movement
  • Meaningful Eye Contact
  • Color Coding
  • Gestural Communication
  • Pictures-Symbols, and the like.
  • Beadwork
  • Songs and Rhymes
  • Role Playing
  • Worksheets
  • Interactive games
  • Video AND Audio Recording

Each lesson includes a letter for parents (great for teachers or group leaders,) an overview and what will be discussed and taught, a thorough "how-to" of the lesson that gives you a format to follow if you wish from what to say to the setting needed, and forms such as data keeping and assessments. 

How we used this:
First, I want to say there is a URL that you use to access online training videos. I completely missed this until it dawned on me that there was supposed to be a video for each lesson. I though I had watched everything, and I was wrong. So, I had to go back and backtrace a bit of the parent training. Friends, this is what happens when you are reading directions with an 11 yr tornado whipping around you HAHA! I just wanted to point out, there ARE online training videos, and you are expected to watch these videos with each lesson, not binge watch 2 1/2 weeks of lessons like I did. 
This program is so detailed, and has so many components to it, to make it such a wonderful program, that I spent a good week just familiarizing myself with everything. It is not difficult to learn. There's a manual on CD, and the above mentioned training videos, that guide you along the way. Once you read over everything, it's really pretty easy to implement. I will say, you will need a ball/tire pump with a needle to inflate the ball. So keep that in mind so you can have it on hand when your kit arrives.
After I learned how to implement everything, I decided to start at the very beginning. I set aside a time each week for our CMC sessions. We did 2 sessions a week, for 30 minutes each time. I planned our sessions into his schoolwork, and usually before the last subject for the day. That way, he was less apt to want to "take a break" and lose his focus. The course is optimal over 14-16 weeks, or you can use it as a 1 yr curriculum. I've decided Mr. B can benefit more from using it for a year, and moving slower, and focusing on problems areas as they arise. If it takes less time, then great.

Starting at the beginning, we only need the yellow stepping stones. I was a bit concerned these might scratch/scuff my floor, or skid. But they do not. You can write on these with a dry erase marker, so they serve has reminders. But I do not. I'm still trying to teach Mr. B that we only write on paper, so to deviate, even when allowed, would defeat what I've done so far. The yellow stepping stones are for greetings and endings. So these represent hello and goodbye. We discuss a variety of ways to greet others and say goodbye, such as hello, hi, how are you, good day, bye, bye bye, good night, etc.

When Mr. B was 3, I was blessed to attend a seminar where the key speaker was an internationally renowned speech therapist from Poland. After the seminar, I took Mr. B to her and more or less begged her for advice. I was seeking any kind of wisdom, direction...ANYTHING to get him to communicate. He spoke via echolalia at the time. She noticed this and said it was wonderful. She said I could use this to our advantage and give him a "bag of tricks" so to speak. She told me to have him say things or ask for things 5 different ways, that way if he never understood the need or use for communication he would at least be able to "fake" it. So I began having him do this. "I want juice." "Juice, please." "May I have juice?" "I would like juice, please." "I need juice, please." That is an example of what I'd have him say, except I was very careful to not say them in the same order, nor would I just have him say them like some kind of rote memory drill. We go over each greeting, or conversation starter (the green foot stone,) but I do it in a random order, and in a more natural way than a rote memory style. The red foot stones are conversation stoppers, and the blue ones are chit chat like topics. We've not progressed that far, yet, because he doesn't like to start conversations of my chosen topic.

**Note** For special needs children who may be unable to walk on the stepping path or who have intellectual disabilities they suggest using colored beads instead. I think this is a great idea for that, BUT I also think it is a GREAT idea for someone with autism to wear just as a reminder! Mr. B can wear his "speaking bracelet" and he can "flick" the beads as he works his way through, so he doesn't get lost in his own thoughts and lecture instead of conversing. 

Northern Speech Services Color My Conversation


This arrived at the perfect time for us, because Mr. B is EXTREMELY verbal. He is almost TOO verbal. But, he has issues with pragmatics, and the social dynamic of back and forth conversation. He would rather lecture than converse. CMC is designed for a small group setting, but we were able to adapt it to a one on one setting. We also used Mr. B's friends at times. I personally feel this is great for one on one, but it's REALLY great for a small group of child peers to use together!

The use of the ball is genius. First, it's a great manipulative to demonstrate turn taking in a tangible manner. Next, it promotes hand/eye coordination that can also help to foster body language in the long run. But also, it helps to build eye contact. Those with children who have autism know the hurdles we face to achieve eye contact. Temple Grandin says eye contact is "overrated." I would have to agree! I would rather my child look around and hold a meaningful, well executed conversation than stumble over his words because eye contact is so difficult for him to maintain. With that said, use of the ball in the back and forth turn taking portion has helped him to achieve a longer duration of more naturally maintained eye contact.

We were easily able to adapt this program to a one child setting. In addition to that, we were able to tailor it to his level. He's sort of inbetween levels, and there are gaps that need to be addressed across all levels. It is easy to read through the manual and decide where/what we needed to address. Here is an example:

Obviously, I didn't read this verbatim as it would not make sense with only one child. And at 11, and very verbal and high functioning, I did not need to define conversation, or have him repeat it in that manner. But we did discuss conversations, the role conversations play in our lives, and we talked about the yellow stone. We played the song, too. And Mr. B found it to be quite cute. It's a great one for younger kids, for sure.

The printable worksheets are great. They were a really nice way to exercise different portions of Mr. B's brain that he doesn't like to use. The promote a lot of deep thought and critical thinking, and Mr. B likes more concrete black and white answers. So this challenges him to really stop and think. 
Overall, we really love this. I can see it helping, even if it is slowly at first. It has opened my eyes to a few problem areas I didn't realize we had, and it's allowing me to discuss these issues with his doctors so that we can really target them and help him move forward. I HIGHLY recommend this to others! 
Does Northern Speech Services Color My Conversation 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 a PHYSICAL product. You can tailor it to your specific needs. It is best done in 1 45mins session each week, or 2 30mins sessions. 

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?

The general ages are K-around 7th, but I know a few adults who could benefit from this to be honest. It is really dependent on the person who is using it. My son is 11, and I can see him getting benefit from it until we finish the program. An older kid may not like the songs as much. 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
This is amazingly great for ADHD, Autism, language delays, Aspergers, and more. The duration is similar to most Speech/Language therapy session in clinic.

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

This is not an academic core subject or anything like that. It is a wonderful tool to augment your child's speech therapy. 

Check out what others from The Homeschool Review Crew had to say! 
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