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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spelling You See Review

Spelling You See Review
We have used Math-U-See for years and for a couple of my girls it is the only thing that worked for them. The Demme Learning Team has just released a new product called Spelling You See for elementary students. Alaina has been using Spelling You See: Americana (Level D) and is loving it. 
Spelling You See Review
Spelling You See is different from other spelling programs. There are no grade levels and they do not give a list of words to work on and memorize for a test at the end of the week. Instead they work on writing as the course proceeds through The Five Stages of Spelling:
  • Stage I: Preliterate 
  • Stage II: Phonetic
  • Stage III: Skill Development
  • Stage IV: Word Extension
  • Stage V: Derivational Constancy 
This approach to spelling was developed by Dr. Karen Holinga. She has over 30 years of experience teaching elementary school and as a college professor. The design of her program helps students develop spelling skills naturally at their own pace.  

There are seven levels in the Spelling You See series right now. After looking through the placement guidelines I chose to put 9 year old Alaina in Spelling You See: Americana (Level D).
Spelling You See Review
Americana is in the Skills Development Stage and is for third grade children that are established readers, and students over 10 who are strong readers but struggle with spelling. Students read nonfiction stories about American history and culture. The reading level increases to provide more vocabulary development & to allow students to spell more words. The student pack consists of 2 workbooks for $30 and the Instructor's Handbook is $14.

There are 36 weekly lessons divided into 5 parts. There are 3 main activities throughout the course, chunking, copywork, and dictation. The student workbook consists of 2 pages per day. Each day the instructor reads the passage with the student to guide and help with unknown words. The student will then start "chunking" (coloring various letter patterns) with the aid of the instructor. There is also copywork or dictation for each day. 
In the "chunking" activities the student is directed to color or circle selected vowel or consonant chunks with a certain color. Those chunks will have the same color throughout the student book, so they will visually remember the spelling pattern. There are colored boxes on the student pages that contain the chunks that will be colored that color. For example the consonant chunks ch, gh, ph, sh, th, wh, etc. are inside of a blue box & those chunks should be highlighted blue.  

The chunking and copywork should be done the first three days of the week, with only spending 10 minutes on the copywork. 

On day 4 you will dictate the passage to the student for 10 minutes. The teacher will read the passage word for word helping the student with all spelling, punctuation, and capitalization without stopping the clock. Day 5 you will repeat the dictation, but you will have to student try and spell any difficult words on their own. This should still only be done for 10 minutes with help for punctuation & capitalization. 

The Instructor's Handbook includes instructions on how to use the course, colored answer key to check the "chunking" easily, all the dictations, frequently asked questions, and a glossary.  

Alaina is a very good reader, so I would have her read the passage to me & then we would go over the vowel or consonant chunks & she would use the suggested color of highlighter to mark them all in the text. Then she would work on her copywork, and so far she has completed this right at the 10 minute mark each day. The first couple of weeks she was a little slower on the dictation, but she is getting most of it finished in the 10 minutes now. 

Alaina is loving Spelling You See, she makes sure we get it done first thing in the morning. She enjoys the selected passages about American history & culture, and she can't wait to get her highlighters out and "chunk" her paper. She really likes the dictation, but she wants me to dictate more than just one word at at time, she likes me to dictate a phrase or the whole sentence. 

Although we have only been using this for a few weeks I can already see an improvement in her spelling. She isn't just memorizing spelling words she is actually starting to think about how words are spelled instead of just writing the way the word sounds. This program is also helping her with more than spelling. Her penmanship is better because she likes to write very nice like the printed words in the lesson, and she is listening for punctuation during the dictation. 

We will finish out this level & I plan on purchasing the next one for her when she is finished. There are only Spelling You See levels available for elementary right now, but I'm hoping they come out with some higher levels my other girls could use. 

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fun Birthday Cake

I have decorated a lot of cake over the last 24 years. Some people don't really care what they get on their cake they just want to eat it, other people know exactly what they want when they call, and sometimes parents like to surprise their kids.

I had one mom last week call with a strange request to make her daughters birthday very special. She wanted a cake with Weird Al, Marcel the Shell, and Animal from the Muppets. She didn't tell her daughter what she ordered. When I showed up with the cake the daughter squealed with delight over her cake.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Best Cupcake Pan

This post contains affiliate links.

I would like to show you the very best muffins pans that everyone who bakes should have, Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Muffin Pan, 12 Cup. There are several things I love about these pans.

The very best reason to purchase this particular muffin pan is because it is all one piece. There is no groove where the cupcake well is attached to the cupcake hole. I hat muffin pans that have that crack!! If you have ever overfilled your cupcake or muffin pan you know what a pain it is to clean in that crack. Not with this pan because there isn't one!!
Another big plus for me is that they stack together perfectly!!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I purchased these muffin pans with my own money and love the product so much I wanted to share it with you. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mango Language Schoolhouse Crew Review

Mango Languages Review
My girls think it is so much fun to learn new languages. Even if they don't speak them fluently they like to take an English word and think of how many languages they can say that word in. They know some Spanish, and a little Latin, Japanese, and German. The biggest problem we have here is deciding on what language to learn without buying each child their own program. We have been using Mango Homeschool Edition from Mango Languages and we don't have that problem anymore because they offer over 60 different languages to choose from, and you may learn as many at one time as you want.
When we first heard of Mango Languages I gave my girls their choice of language they wanted to learn. Amber & Delaney chose to learn Finnish because their grandma is from Finland and still speaks Finnish to her mother and sister. Alaina wanted to learn Japanese. Mike and I lived in Japan for four years a long time ago, so I think that is why she wanted to learn it. 
Mango Languages Review
Mango Languages has been around for 7 years. They started in public libraries and you may have access at your library but there are some differences to the program. The library will only have one level for each language where the Mango Homeschool Edition has all levels for all the languages. The Homeschool Edition also has the community feature where you will have access to forums & private chats. 
The Mango Homeschool Edition offers over 60 different languages for ages 6 to adult for one price. You may pay monthly or a year subscription. The more students you have the cheaper it is per student, with 6 or more qualifying for a special group rate. 
  • 1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total 
  • 2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total 
  • 3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total 
  • 4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total 
  • 5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total 
When you first login you will be able to set up your profile, manage your account, and select your language. You as the parent will also be able to create a space for your school/family where you may add all your students. You will be able to send them a private note, view their profile, the languages they are using, and notice if they have published any public blog entries. 
Mango Languages Review
Once you have everyone set up and their language has been selected you are ready to start learning. When I first click on the language I am given a few brief facts about how many people in the world speak this language which we thought was very interesting. Only .09% of the world actually speak Finnish. 

The passport to Finnish includes audio and pronunciation guidance from native speakers, conversation and grammar goals, voice comparison tool, cultural insights, customs and etiquette, phonetic spelling on-demand grammar notes. During Finnish Journey 1 you will learn:
  • Greetings, Gratitude, Goodbyes
  • Inquiring About Someone's Nationality
  • Asking What Languages Someone Speaks
  • Names and Introductions
  • Getting Around
  • Shopping and Payment
  • Drinks and Dining
  • Numbers and Currency
  • Getting Help
  • Asking for Clarification
When you log in to learn your language you have the option of browsing the course menu or starting exactly where you left off even if you are in the middle of a lesson. At the beginning of each lesson you are given a list of goals that you should acheive in the lesson. The lesson is basically a group of 50 or more flashcard size boxes that either introduce you to a new word, ask you to say words you already know or combine new words with previous ones. You have a time limit for saying each word, but you can easily add more time if you need it. If you do not know how to say the word at all you may have it read to you as you view the word. Each lesson will work on words already learned and introduce new words. 
Mango Languages Review
All three of my girls made a set of flash cards by writing each new word as they were introduced. They would put the new word on the front with the English translation on the back. This made it very easy to review words when they weren't actually working in Mango. Amber has actually been learning Finnish, but she has been helping Alaina review her Japanese flashcards & she is picking up a lot of words just by drilling with her everyday. They all have their own Mango account, but Amber & Delaney would review and converse together once they were finished. 

We have actually been using the beta version of Mango, so they still have some great features that will be added soon. They want Mango to be like a community where you will have access to chat boxes, so you may speak with others learning your language and eventually with people who already know the language. They are hoping to add quizzes, list all of a student's accomplishments, and display the time they have been working with their progress.

Mango Homeschool Edition has been very easy to use for all of us. Amber (age 13), Delaney (age 11) & Alaina (age 9) didn't have any trouble logging in and getting started each day. Alaina has been a little slower than the other two, but it didn't matter if she stopped in the middle of the lesson because it would start her exactly where she left off the next time. There is really no preparation on the teacher part & if your student is high school or you like tests & quizzes they will be coming soon to help you keep records. 

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Egglo Entertainment Review

Egglo Review

Hunting Easter eggs is usually something that is done during the day, but lately we have been hiding and finding glow-in-the-dark Egglo Eggs. 
Egglo Review
In our package from Egglo Entertainment we received one dozen Glow In The Dark Egglo Eggs, The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure storybook, the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure audio download, the Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls, and the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide. This program is recommended for children ages 4-13.
The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure is a 40 page full color glossy 8 1/2 X 11 storybook. The author, Darcie Cobos, is a detective specializing in family violence. In the book the characters are led on a mystery by a glowing egg. The egg transports them around the world as they discover new clues that lead them to their next destination. At last they learn the Easter story and find out that Jesus is the best treasure of all. The regular price of the book is $12.99, but right now it is on sale for $9.99. The audio download for the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure is the book being read. It is available as a download for $2.99.
Egglo Review
To go along with the book there is the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide that is available as a download for $14.99. There are 60 pages that will help you put on an Easter event. There are invitations, devotionals, object lessons, coloring pages, snack ideas, & tips for decorating. 

There are 12 Egglo Glow In The Dark Easter Eggs in a box. Four different colors (pink, yellow, green, blue) are in each dozen for $11.99 or the sale price is $9.99. Some of the eggs can be decorated with the optional stickers that match the program or anything else you would like to use. They need to be charged in the light before they will glow. 
Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls are little scrolls that are small enough to put inside the egg. Each scroll can be unrolled to read the scripture. The scroll itself is made of plastic and the paper rolls around it. Twelve come in a package for $4.29.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

John 1:5 is the verse that Egglo Entertainment has based their program on. They use the glow-in-the dark Easter eggs program to point children to Jesus, who is the light of the world. 
I used the program with all three of my girls ages 9, 11 &12. We read the story together and discussed it using some of the ideas and questions from the curriculum guide. We used the program at home, so we didn't use any of the decorating ideas, but I can see where they would be fun for a church class. Neither the book nor the curriculum guide uses any church doctrine instead you are instructed to read about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the four Gospels. 
Of course the glow-in-the-dark eggs were a huge hit around here especially for my 9 year old, she loves them and has hidden them over and over. All three of my girls know about Jesus and His death, burial, and Resurrection, and we hide Easter eggs every year, but we have never used eggs to illustrate Jesus as the light of the world. We enjoyed this program and I can see how children who are not familiar with Jesus could understand the point of the program. I think the Treasures Scripture Scrolls are wonderful & could be a big help in aiding children to memorize scripture. They roll up very well and could be easily carried in your pocket & could be used not only at Easter, but any time of year. 

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014 Algebra 1 Tutor Volume 1 Schoolhouse Review Review offers video courses that give step-by-step instructions in math and science. When it comes to math we definitely need step-by-step instructions. Amber has been using The Algebra 1 Tutor Volume 1 along with Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheet CD and was surprised at how easy it has been. Review
The Algebra 1 Tutor is divided into 2 Volumes, and is recommended for grade 7 and up. We received Volume 1 and it is divided into 10 sections for 7 hours of video instruction on 3 DVDs. This course is available on DVD for $26.99 or the download is available for $23.99.  
  • Disc 1
  • Disc 2
    • Section 4: Adding and Subtracting Real Numbers
    • Section 5: Multiplying and Dividing Real Numbers
    • Section 6: Algebraic Expressions
  • Disc 3
    • Section 7: Properties of Real Numbers
    • Section 8: Introduction to Equations
    • Section 9: Solving More Equations
    • Section 10: Simplifying Expressions to Solve Equations. 
The Algebra Tutor assumes the child knows nothing about Algebra and actually starts with things the child should already know. There is a lot of time spent on fractions and negative numbers to make sure the child has a good grasp of them before they actually get into algebra concepts. After completing both volumes of  The Algebra Tutor your child should be ready to move on to Algebra 2. 

The Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheets contains worksheets for both Volume 1 & 2. It is available as a CD for $24.99 or as a download for $21.99. There are any where from 19-96 pages for each section of The Algebra Tutor. The first 25 pages can be seen on the CD page. The problems and the solutions are contained within each section on the CD. The problems are on the first several pages and then the solutions for all the problems are after them. The solution pages show you the question worked out step-by-step with the instructions for each step next to it. 

Amber is almost 13 and before receiving The Algebra Tutor she was working on preAlgebra. She started with Section 1 and found most of the beginning very easy. She doesn't like math, but she does love and understand fractions, so that section was fun for her (maybe that's why she hasn't been complaining about math lately). We watched the DVD together and then she would work through her problems. After I checked her work I would let her look at the answer sheet so that she could see the solution to her problem. The way the solutions are printed made it easy for Amber to see exactly what she did wrong. 

We both love the way this program is set up, it is so easy to use. The solutions in the back of each section makes it very easy to explain a problem that Amber didn't understand or that she missed. Amber thought some of the DVD sections were a little long, but the teaching is very thorough and easy to follow. Review offers Math courses starting at forth grade and goes to college level, and there are two volumes in the Amazing Science Series. Members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew were offered Amazing Science Volume 1, Mastering 5th Grade Math-Volume 1- Essentials of Fractions, and Algebra 1 Tutor Volume 1 with The Fractions Thru Algebra Worksheets

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Rainbow Cupcake Cake

I love how this cupcake rainbow cake turned out. It was so much fun to decorate & the birthday girl and mom were very pleased. I ended up using 40 cupcakes and it was pretty big. I didn't measure it, but the board was around 27" wide and 19" high.
Nadia was turning 5 so I decided to pipe her number with all the colors of the rainbow.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dig-It! Games Character Contest Prize @Digitgames

Amber entered the Dig-It! Games Character Contest back in December & she is very thankful to everyone who voted for her character. Although she didn't win first place she is very happy the new iPod touch that she won. She would have really liked her character included in the game, but she is very glad she had the opportunity to participate and that she was one of the top three characters.

Thank You Dig-It! Games for such a fun contest & prizes. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Motivated Moms Review

Motivated Moms Review
I am so thankful that we could keep our kids home for school. We enjoy learning together, crafting, baking, reading, and even cooking. There is one thing that we all dislike and that is housework. 
We are good at the daily routine of dishes, laundry, sweeping, and vaccuuming, but some of the other things we just kinda let slide until we have to do them. We have our own house routine, but we aren't very good with using a chore chart or planner. When it is time to clean we make a list and we all work together until our list is finished. This works well with the general things, but a lot of times later in the day I think of other things that I should have added to our list. Motivated Moms has really helped with our cleaning schedule. 
Motivated Moms Review
We started using the Motivated Moms IOS App a few weeks ago and it has helped keep us on track with a few of those things we always forget. 
The Motivated Moms app is available for $1.99 for two months access with an additional .99 per month or $7.99 per year. The app can be used on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with an iOS of 5.1 or higher. If you set up a password you can sync your app with all of your devices. 
You can use the daily lists in the app by themselves. There is a list for tasks that should be done every day and a list of things that rotate because they don't need to be completed every day. You can check off each item as it is completed, print or email the list. 
You will get the most out of the app if you create an account. You can add everyone to the app and assign them a color. That way you can assign different tasks to everyone. You can also add or delete rooms & tasks. That way you will not get reminders to clean the family room if you do not have a family room. You have the option of hiding tasks, setting up due dates, assigning the tasks, repeating them and what room the task should be completed in.  
I set up my account and then I assigned each one of the girls and myself our favorite colors. It was very easy to add everyone and assign them a task, but we didn't do this every day. We used the list like we had been using our handwritten list. We all just picked what we wanted to do & once we were finished with that task we would move on to the next one. That way no one is finished working until everyone is finished. 
Items that are listed in the Daily list include things that need to be completed every day such as feed pets, clean the sink, plan dinner, empty trash, read your bible, etc. Items that are just for today include things like changing the furnace or a/c filters, dust, declutter one specific thing or room, etc. 
I added the app to my iPhone & my iPad mini. We mostly used this for cleaning, but as a homeschool family I just started adding my girls school subjects and assigning them with their color. That way when they check off their item on the iPad I can see what they have finished and how much they each still have left. 
Motivated Moms Review
Motivated Moms is also available as an ebook. 
You can read more reviews about the iOS app and the ebook at the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew Blog
Motivated Moms on Facebook.
Motivated Moms on Twitter.
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