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Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages (TOS Review)

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

For this review we have been using Middlebury Interactive Languages, Chinese Courses, Elementary Grades 3-5. 

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a 100% online language immersion program.  For the most part, they speak only in the target language.  We chose Chinese for the review, but other languages are also offered, as well as other grade levels.

My 9 year old used this program typically 5 days a week, as part of his morning computer school work routine.  The program is easy enough for him to navigate himself; I just save a short cut to the desktop for him. 

He navigated the lessons from the calendar section.  This works perfectly if you do a lesson every weekday (it automatically gives holidays and weekends off), but if you miss a day, or only work on a 3 day a week schedule the calendar can get confusing.  There is no way to adjust the assignments (that I could find).  I emailed the company when we first started to ask them if there was a way to change the start day, so that the lessons would line up and they changed it for me. 

The inability to adjust the lesson dates is a bit of a frustration.  For example, we were without internet for 2 days, when we got internet back I asked my son to do 2 lessons a day for 2 days to get caught up.  When I went in to check on him later, he had done 2 lessons as asked, but he did them starting on the current day instead of backing up and picking up where he left off.  (When you log in, the current day is automatically highlighted.)  

The other option is to navigate through the table of contents, but you have to open each file to find the one that doesn’t have checks, and you have to check the file before to make sure that that one does have checks, in order to find where you are and well, he skipped lessons that way on accident. 

The other option is to keep track on paper what lesson your child is on, so they know.  When the lesson is completed there is a check mark that shows up, so that does help.  I don’t know about most 9 year old boys, but, my son just doesn’t pay enough attention to those kind of details.  So, it would be nice to be able to manually move a lesson on the calendar. 

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With that aside, my son does enjoy this program. I feel like he is learning, and he is mostly scoring well.  I wish they were able to redo lessons to improve grades (they can redo, but it doesn’t alter their grade).  Also unless you pay the extra for an actual teacher, the speaking portions are never graded, and therefore kind of useless.  There is no way to check tones, or pronunciation, unless you or someone you know is a native speaker.  So, if you are very serious about the language, I’d pay the extra money for that portion (particularly if you are using middle or high school levels for credit). 

My son had a microphone headset to use with this program (one we owned) but the microphone wouldn’t register for some reason, so he ended up doing the program without it. 

The program introduces characters and pinyin, along with pictures.  Often times they are asked to match the characters to the appropriate pictures.  They words are also read in Chinese.  So you get visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning involved. 

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The program also touches base on cultural aspects, not just the language, which is also nice!

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The program does keep track of grades, which is especially helpful in older grades (when transcripts are needed).  We do not usually grade, but it’s good to see how he is doing, and I like to point his scores out to him and let him know where he needs to work a little harder, and to high five him when he does well.

You need to manually log in to check on your child’s progress.  It’s located under the same log in as the student, therefore they can also check their progress.

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We were using a different program previous to this review, and when I asked my son what he wanted to do, he voted to continue with this program. 

The program is 6mos long (a semester), though you have up to a year to complete it.  There are 90 lessons total.

The cost of the program is $119 without a teacher, and an additional $175 with a teacher per student.  They offer courses in Chinese, Spanish, French and German for grades K-12. 

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: USAopoly Games (TOS Review)

USAopoly Review

For this review we were able to try out the games Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone by USAopoly

We are a BIG game family, we have LOTS of games and the kids really enjoy games, so we were thrilled to check these two games out!

Wonky is a fun block stacking game with abnormally shaped cubes.  The game indicates it is for ages 8+, but even my 4 and 6 year olds enjoyed playing.  The directions were easy to follow; the cards have pictures with words (making it easy for non-readers to join along).  It is designed for a minimum of 2 players, but can have more than 2 (making it a perfect family game!).  The point of the game is to stack all the cubes and not knock the tower over….of course you also can win if you place all your blocks and used all your cards.  We had games end both ways.  It’s also a bit fun to reverse play when the tower gets tough!  Lessons in physics while having fun, who even knew they were learning???

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Tapple is also recommended for ages 8+, but even my 9 year old had a bit of difficulty.  You have to be quick to think of words that start with the letters that have not been used yet on any given topic, such as vegetables.  It has a timer, so that sort of stressed him and the other kids out.  This game is for 2-8 players, and each round is timed, so you can play a short game OR play several rounds.  It would best be played with older children though, maybe even older than 8, (depending on your child).  Accommodations could be made for younger kids (giving a little help or coaxing when needed).  The cards are two sided, with an easier side and a harder side for topics.  They needn’t know how to spell words, they only need to know the first letter!  The 6 most difficult letters (and not used often letters) are not included in the game board.  So there are only 20 letters to come up with words for.  BUT…you can’t use a letter that has already been used, that’s when it gets more difficult (and when my kids really got stumped and frustrated).  It’s a great way to help expand vocabulary, work on beginning letter sounds, and depending on the topic work on other subjects as well!

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Games are one of the best ways to learn!  Most of the times kids are having to much fun to even recognize it’s educational!  Have a family game night, or replace some book work for the day!

USAopoly has many other games and puzzles to choose from!  Including themed items such as Zelda, Harry Potter, A Christmas Story, Mario Bros and The Hobbit and more!!!  Lots of games and puzzles to choose from for your Christmas List!  I found a great Back to the Future edition of Yahtzee that I’m thinking of getting my dad (shhh! don’t tell).  Several more spins on classic games are available (Risk, Clue, Candy Land to name a few!).

 USAopoly Review
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: 1000 Extreme & Extraordinary Dinosaur Facts @ParragonBooks

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If you have a dinosaur fan in your house, this book is a winner!   We hadn’t had it for 2 seconds before my oldest was reading it.  The younger ones love to look at the colorful pictures too!

Information is given in bit size chunks to help keep the attention of even the shortest attention spans!

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1000 Extreme & Extraordinary Dinosaur Facts (Discovery Kids) is available in Paperback for $9.99.  It’s 223 pages filled with dinosaur facts and pictures!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free from Parragon Publishing in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give an honest review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.  This post contains affiliate links.

Week in Review x2 (weeks of 9/14 and 9/21)

week

I didn’t get my week in review posted last week, so I’m doing double duty!

I left off prior to the kid’s triathlon.  They both did great.  Because of the bad weather they took out the biking portion, but they did the swim and the run. 

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We started up MMA that week.  We had been off since May/June sometime.  They were excited to get back and the class is bigger this year.  (Last year it was my 3 plus 1 and now it’s my 3 plus 5!).

We had our homeschool field trip to the MD Science Center for homeschool days.  The kids had soccer practices, and they also started back up with homeschool swimming!  It was a busy week.

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We had a Port Discovery trip planned for Thursday but found that they are only open F-Su in September…so we spent the day cleaning the house!  It was great and it really needed it!

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C had a Cub Scout pack meeting and received his Wolf along with some other accomplishments.

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The 19th was their first Soccer games, and my husband got home as well after being gone for a month!  Yeah the last month of craziness, he was gone through it all!!  Hubby has the soccer pictures on his camera…so they will have to come later!

This week we had hubby off for a few days, so he accompanied us on the potato chip tour, took the kids to MMA one day (and I went to Costco… ALONE!).  We had co-op this week which is always fun…but exhausting!  They also picked a ton of apples from our apple tree and had fun peeling them and slicing them.  We made some yummy crock pot applesauce and they made an inside out apple pie! They also roasted some hot dogs and marshmallows in the yard…  K got pretty sticky!  Soccer was cancelled Thursday night, so they went for a bike ride.  Tonight they are at the backyard ponds fishing!  It’s been nice to have Q back and to get some chill time! 

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There is another round of soccer games tomorrow! 

I also have a few FUND Raisers going on right now!  100% of my proceeds from Usborne Books and Close to My Heart will go to Sophie and Madigan’s Playground!  Make sure you check out under Sophie and Madigan’s Playground!

Does miss FIELD TRIP FRIDAY!  (It’s back!!)

Linking up at:
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Field Trip #177 Friday Blog Hop–Martin’s Chip Factory, PA

Field Trip Friday!
Photobucket
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)


**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE

 

We took a FREE tour of Martin’s Potato Chip Factory!  They do tours by reservation on Tuesday’s at 9, 10 and 11am. 

You receive a 10% discount on any purchases after the tour, but purchases are NOT required.

 

Martin's Potato Chips Tour

 

I’m trying to load a video but it’s not working :/  I’ll try again later!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: YWAM Publishing, Heroes of History, Davy Crockett (TOS Review)

YWAM Davy Crockett Review

For this review we read HEROES OF HISTORY, Davy Crockett: Ever Westward by YWAM Publishing.  We also received the Unit Study Curriculum Guide CD for Davy Crockett

YWAM Publishing Review

  • History
  • Geography
  • Essay writing
  • Creative writing
  • Reading comprehension
  • Public speaking
  • Drama
  • Art

      I looked over the CD curriculum, but felt that most of the materials for this book were for older children (or children at a higher writing level, writing is a work in progress for my 9yo) than my own.  We did, however, use the Comprehension Questions as a group discussion.  We also located Tennessee on a map and did a small state study on the state (as suggested in the guide).

      For the book, we used it as a read aloud.  My 3 boys all listened (ages 9, 6 and 4).  The really enjoyed the story.  Some parts of it were a bit slow, but even I learned A lot about Davy Crockett.  I know my husband is a fan of him, but I never knew much about him.  As far as Davy Crockett went, all I knew was the theme song!  It was very interesting to learn about his key rolls in politics, as well as the topics at hand in regards to politics at that time.  My kids enjoyed hearing of his many adventures, how life was different back then, and how much more difficult it was then.  At the time of reading this book my husband was away TDY, so we discussed how Davy left his family on numerous occasions and how there was really no means of communication while he was gone.  It gave the children a great perspective on life back then.  They looked forward to the reading of it every day, and would ask for it if I forgot. 

      YWAM Publishing Review

      We have previously reviewed George Washington, A True Patriot by YWAM Publishing.  This book measured up. 

      I love that they publish history books in story format.  It makes it so much more interesting, you are able to visualize the events and relate better to the characters.  My children get a lot more out of these types of history books, than any textbook we could ever use. 

      The unit studies, while not required to enjoy the books, are great to expand on them.  It is particularly handy if your children show a large interest in the subject at hand.  It’s a great guide to lead your children by their interests and build on the learning experience. 

      YWAM Publishing has a wide variety of book and guides to choose from.  You can read reviews on several others by visiting other reviewers at the link below. 

      This book goes for $7.50 and the Study Guide CD is $7.49.  The book is recommended for ages 10+, but was a great read aloud, most enjoyed by my 6 year old (though my 4 and 9 year old also liked it).  The study guide is also geared for ages 10+.

      YWAM Publishing Review
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    • Thursday, September 17, 2015

      Field Trip #176 Friday Blog Hop

      Field Trip Friday!
      Photobucket
      Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

      (does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)


      **NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE

       

        It’s Homeschool Days this month at the Maryland Science Center.  We signed up for two days of classes!  We had a first day of classes this week! If you are local and want to know about upcoming homeschool days, register at their website.  They open up for registration ahead of time, and it’s call in only.  Many times you have to leave a message and they call you back….it’s hard to get through.  You also must pay via credit card on the phone.  It’s worth all the trouble, but I wish they had an easier way to register!!!
      My 1st and 4th graders each had 2 classes, and my PreK had one.
        They had a blast, but wished they could have spent more time at the exhibits.  Next time we don’t have as many classes, and can spend more time looking around!  They really like it there.  I hope to go next time around and just enjoy the discounted admission, instead of classes (but they offer such fun ones, and at a good rate!).
        C took a hydraulics class and an energy class
        Z took a cornstarch concoctions class and a seed class
        c took a healthy eating class
        Maryland Science Center

          Review: Super Teacher Worksheets (TOS Review)

          Super Teacher Worksheets

          For this review we were able to try out the website Super Teacher WorksheetsIndividual Membership. This website contains a large number of printable worksheets in a wide range of subjects and grades (PreK-5).  It also includes a worksheet generator, to make your own worksheets!

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          We used this website as a supplement to what we were already studying.  For example, our history program suggested we introduce or review Roman Numerals.  I was able to print off a few different worksheets regarding Roman Numerals of varying levels for both my 1st and 4th grader.  

          Because we are studying the Middle Ages this year, I found a fun color by number addition castle worksheet for my 1st grader, a multiplication one for my 4th grader and a shapes castle worksheet for my preschooler.  I also used a reading comprehension activity about a castle for my 4th grader.

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          We have also used several of the health related topic sheets, discussing food groups, healthy and unhealthy foods.  Some of these health themed sheets were also math related, such as color by number addition of fruit/vegetables pictures, tally the number of fruits, etc… It’s been a great resource for getting portfolio items for the health section!

          For my 4th grader I picked some math worksheets to practice concepts he has already learned, but needed to review.  There was a color by numbers multiplication, money worksheets, and many other math concepts.

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          If you are looking for worksheets via a specific topic, you can use the search feature. For instance, I typed in Roman Numerals, Castles, Food and was able to find ALL worksheets related to those topics (in various subjects).  You can also search by subject.  I wasn’t able to find a way to search by grade (which would be a nice feature).  The Reading Comprehension and Spelling sections are listed by grade. 

          The subjects to choose from include:

          Math, Reading & Writing, Phonics, Handwriting, Grammar, Spelling, Science, Social Studies, Holidays, Puzzles & More, Teacher’s Helpers, Pre-K & Kindergarten, Custom Worksheets.

          I was surprised that I couldn’t find any worksheets that were on the topic of The Five Senses,even though there is a Human Body section under Science.  So obviously the site does not have EVERY topic, but there is still a pretty good variety.

          Each worksheet you print also has an answer sheet for quick and easy grading!

          Some other thing you will find on the sight that we haven’t used yet, but plan too are handwriting sheets (by letter, in cursive and print), beginning reader books, sight words and phonics beginning reader books and so much more! There are over 10,000 printable worksheets, games, and activities!

          I did find lots of great worksheets to use in upcoming units too, like Matter, Simple Machines and Electricity.  There is a wide variety of choices and levels to choose from!  All for only $19.95/yr.   There is more than just traditional worksheets, as well.  You can find printable games, certificates, templates and more!  Perfect for teachers or homeschoolers of children in PreK-5th grades.  Older grades are coming soon!

          Super Teacher Worksheets Review
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          Saturday, September 12, 2015

          Week in Review–Week of 9/7

          week

          Okay, I have to say the checklists have been GREAT!  They have really helped C focus and get things done, I’m loving them!  (see last week’s post)

          We had a very busy holiday weekend, you can read about it at Field Trip Friday!

          Tuesday and Wednesday were normal school days this week, well for the most part.  Tuesday we had some electricians at the house doing some work, our electricity had to be turned off, for what was was suppose to be 2 hours.  6 hours later it was turned back on.  We got most of our school work done that day, but we were suppose to start our new spelling program (for review).  Couldn’t do it without electricity, and when it came back on at 7pm…well, we had to just put it off until Wednesday.  Some time during the day the chicken coop door was closed, so when I went to lock the chickens up that night, they weren’t in their coop…they were in a tree…where they remained for the night and luckily all survived.

          Wednesday started with the discovery that our garage door opener was broken.  When the electricity was turned back on the guy had a wire crossed, it caused a power surge, and fried the garage door.  Luckily there is an emergency release.  I contacted the guy and he is going to fix it, along with several other issues we are having from the surge also.  We went to start the new spelling program and discovered that our new CD player does not have a head phone jack (this is not a fancy CD player, it’s old school….who would have thought??!!)  Anyways, so I had to upload the audios to my iPad, then we went to plug the head phones in and discovered that the pin you plug in had broke off!  So C got the headset he uses with the computer, but it has a USB plug.  We finally settled for using ear buds until we can get a headset.  That night we had soccer.  After soccer practice, we had to run to the store for a few grocery items for co-op on Thursday.  When we returned, we went to lock up the chickens….they decided that outside the coop was better than in the coop, and they had all roosted on the deck banister.  I had to move them one by one back to the coop, they flapped and squawked and were not too happy about it.  I grounded them!  Didn’t let them back out until Saturday morning, so we will see what they do tonight!  I should have taken pictures of the dumb chickens, but didn’t.

          The best part of Wednesday is STITCH FIX!  I got a fun fix! (don’t mind the spots on my mirror!  yuck!)  The white shirt at the end is one I bought on a Macy’s sale…but the rest was in my fix.  I had a credit, so the total cost came to $160 for 5 items.  1 dress, 2 shirts and 2 pants.  I asked for more colors next fix, this one was a bit dark, but I had asked for fall staples.  I almost didn’t keep the skinnies in the last picture, because I have some like the already, but, the discount for keeping all was more than the cost of the pants.

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          The kids brought in a bunch of goodies from the garden and have had fun catching toads at night when they take the dog out.

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          Thursday was co-op.  Always a fun, but exhausting day!  The electrician came back to assess the damage and has to order parts to come back next week and fix it.

          Friday we were all tired, it started out a rough day. It turned around, and all went well.  But the morning was rough, I ended up locking my toddler out of the schoolroom (she was in the toy room next door with two of her brothers).  My oldest was crying over the new spelling program because he had two wrong on Wednesday and now had 3 wrong, so he was getting ‘worse’.  My 6yo made some mistakes when doing an addition color by number page, and was upset about it.  I mean it was just a bad day.  I was about to throw in the towel, but things finally started looking up and we got everything on the agenda done without further drama, and ahead of schedule.  We were suppose to go to a field trip, but time got away from us and well, we were all tired.  I didn’t feel like running around.  So we stayed home and relaxed for the after noon.  We had a movie night, watching Where the Red Fern Grows.

          Saturday we had a Cub Scout car wash in the pouring rain.  c had his first soccer practice cancelled because of rain and now we are waiting to see what the weather will do bc the older two are suppose to do a kid’s triathlon this evening. 

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          I didn’t take a lot of pictures this week, I’ll do better next week!

          There is a new Instagram challenge for September! Come join us! 

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          I also have a few FUND Raisers going on right now!  100% of my proceeds from Usborne Books and Close to My Heart will go to Sophie and Madigan’s Playground!  Make sure you check out under Sophie and Madigan’s Playground!

          Does miss FIELD TRIP FRIDAY!  (It’s back!!)

          Linking up at:
          My Week in Review at Our 4 Kiddos, and Weekly Wrap up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
          Don't miss a single blog post! Register to receive them in your email by clicking HERE
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