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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fix It! Grammar Review #hsreviews

Fix It! Grammar Review
There are so many companies that offer homeschool materials it can be overwhelming at times. Most companies have some wonderful items, but they also have things that don't work for us. When it comes to the Institute for Excellence in Writing everything we have used from them has been a perfect fit for my family including our newest review item Fix It! Grammar.

The Fix It! Grammar is a series of 5 books that teaches grammar in only 15 minutes a day. We received the Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Student Book 1) and the Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Teacher's Manual Book 1). This series is recommended for children in grades 3-12. Each book builds upon the one before it, so it is recommended that you start in the Book 1 no matter what grade the student is in. If you feel the need to place your student in a higher book there is a placement test to help you choose. Each book is softcover and spiral bound available for $15.00
In Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Student Book 1) grammar is taught in context with re petition to ensure mastery. The course includes 33 weeks of daily passages, vocabulary words, and a Grammar Glossary. There are 4 tasks to complete each weekly session:
  • Learn it ~ Each Grammar concept is taught.
  • Fix it ~ There are four passages (one for each day) that the student finds the error and marks them. Vocabulary words are in bold print within the sentence.
  • Discuss it ~ The teacher will discuss the grammar topic and help the student mark the passage for day one of each week. 
  • Copy it ~ Each day the student copies the daily passage into a notebook making all the marked corrections. 

In The Nose Tree students will learn the rules for capitalization and indentation. They will learn to identify nouns, articles, pronouns, verbs, helping verbs, adjectives, -ly adverbs, prepostions, coordinating conjunctins, clause starters. They will use end marks, quotation marks, and apostrophes to show ownership and in contractions. Students will also work on choosing correct homophones when given a choice.

In the back of the Student Book are also grammar rule cards. The cards include the rules on one side and examples on the other. They are printed on cardstock and include dotted lines to make it easy to cut out. The Glossary includes a full sheet for each concept that is included in the book. It contains definitions, and samples of each one.

The Teacher's Manuel includes each page that is in the student book along with teacher notes in the side bar. The Grammar Glossary is in the back, but there are no Grammar Cards. This book can be purchased for $19.00 and includes downloads for the owner to use with their immediate family only. The downloads include the Fix-It! Student Book 1 e-book, Mastery Learning e-audio, and But....But....But....What About Grammar? e-audio.

I chose to start with The Nose Tree Student Book 1 because that was recommended and I figured that way I could use it with all three of my girls. The downloads were very easy to work with and I printed off extra copies for my other girls. Alaina is 9 and she has been using the product as indicated. She would mark her selected passage, define her vocabulary and then copy it to a notebook daily. Amber (13) & Delaney (12) thought they wanted to do more each day & they have actually been completing a weeks worth of work at one time each day.

The Teacher's Manuel is very easy to use. The Teacher notes are in the side bar and indicates when to add a new Grammar Card, when to listen to the audio, and the definitions to the vocabulary words. There are also interesting facts such as why we have straight marks when quotations marks are actually "curly".

Fix It! Grammar has been very easy to use & all three of my girls have been enjoying it. It is intended to be light hearted so students do not dread using it & my kids have not grumbled about working on it at all. They also think it is fun that all the selected passages form a story. When they are finished with their copy work they will have actually rewritten the whole thing. This is going to be a mainstay in our house and I will be ordering the next book for Amber & Delaney for the second semester of this school year.

Member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew received different levels and you can read those reviews at the Crew Blog.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Apples Apples Apples

This is the first year our little dwarf apple tree has really produced. It is only suppose to be about 6' tall, but it actually closer to 12'. It was full of apples this year......we picked 230 lbs!! 

We will probably make apple butter, apple juice, apple jelly, and cut some up for apple pie. 

What are your favorite things to make with apples?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Student Logbook Review #hsreviews

My Student LOGBOOK Review
One thing my kids love about a new school year is getting their new calendar to keep track of their work. I like for each of my girls to keep their own record of what they are accomplishing and this year Alaina got to choose her new student planner from My Student Logbook.
My Student Logbook Review
I have all three of my girls keep their own record book. That way they know exactly what they need to accomplish for the day or week, and they are responsible for it. The problem we have run into the last couple of years is where to put review items. Sometimes we have curriculum that we continue to use that lasts the entire year and other things we only use for a few weeks. With My Student Logbook this has become easier and Alaina hasn't forgot to work on the new items. 
My Student Logbook is a student planner that is recommended for second grade and up. It is available as a dated or undated spiral bound book or a PDF file. We received the dated spiral bound book that is dated from August 4, 2014-August 2, 2015. This student planner is available for $15.00 and you get to choose from 9 different covers. 

The beginning of the book tells you how to use the product and how to create a high school transcript. In the back are sheets to log books read, field trips attended, memory verses learned, test scores, goals, and a sheet to record your favorite things at that time. 

This daily logbook is a little different than what we have used in the past. There are blank checklists that are removed and glued or taped on the back of the dated pages. When you move on to the next weeks assignment you can easily tuck it into the folded checklist instead of rewriting all of your work. If you change some of your school work or move onto a new quarter then you can use a new checklist and glue it on the week you begin those studies. This will be really nice when we work on short review items or studies that only last a couple of weeks. We can add a new check off list instead of having items listed that we aren't currently working on. 

The checklist has a column for your school subject or anything that needs to be completed and a time box. The calendar sheets contain 7 columns that are dated and a notes column. When the checklist is folded over the week the notes column is covered up, but you can still flip the checklist over to see the notes. 
I had Alaina fill in her own checklist, but we don't stick to a time schedule for our days, so we left this column blank. In our daily boxes I had her either put the page number, lesson number, or just a check mark if neither one of those really applied to the subject. In the notes section she wrote how many days a week she needed to complete each item. For example she practices piano 5 days a week and I have her play her ukulele 3 days a week. They don't necessarily have to be completed on certain days, just a certain number per week. On piano lesson day, she just puts an "L" for lesson. 

We haven't started any project yet for this year, but we usually have some things that we add in for a week or two. I will have her add those things to the bottom of her checklist, so she remembers that she needs to work on them. 

Alaina is loving her new student planner, the only problem she had was choosing which cover to order. They are so easy to use I am thinking about ordering one for each of the other girls. The only thing we would love to see added is a 180 day check off page. In NE we have a certain number of hours we need to complete per year. That means we know we need so many school days & my girls love checking them off as we go. 
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Little Things

My girls get overly excited about the little things in life. We recently ate at a restaurant that gave my girls an orange in the shape of a bear. They were thrilled!! 

 Do they remember what they ate? No
Do they remember if it was good? No
 They remember that they got a cute little bear made out of an orange. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Alaina's Pigs

 Alaina loves pigs. She has a collection of piggy banks and other pig items. She was so excited that she found some pig shaped gummy candy at a mall while we were on vacation. She wants to have a pigs when she grows up........I guess we will see!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chocolate Buttercream Square Cake

 Chocolate Buttercream is one of my favorite icings. Not only does it taste good, it is the perfect brown color. It looks good with so many other color accents. On this wedding cake the bride wanted light blue squiggles.
 The squares were 6", 8", 10", and 12". It has been several years since I made this cake, so I can't remember what flavor of cake was on the inside. The bride was very pleased, it was exactly what she wanted.

Under Drake's Flag Review #hsreviews

Analytical Grammar Review
We travel a lot and we are always on the lookout for something to help pass the time in the car. We all love to listen to audio stories, as long as they can keep the attention of everyone in the car. Our new favorite audio CD is Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions
We received our copy of Under Drake's Flag a couple of days before we headed out of town. I didn't let the girls listen to it until we were on our way. We all loved it!! Even my husband didn't want to get out of the car when we needed to stop. The dramatization is very well recorded and kept every one's attention. 
Under Drake's Flag is about a boy named Ned Hawkshaw. Ned gets to live the adventure of a lifetimes with Sir Francis Drake. He gets to fight off a shark, survive a shipwreck, engages in battles on both land and sea, and comes face to face with the Spanish Inquisition. 
This audio drama also comes with a study guide booklet that fits inside the CD case. For each section of the CD we are given three sections to help us understand the storyline and what it teaches. The Listening Well sections asks questions about what was just heard. The Thinking Further section includes questions that get the listener thinking more about what happened or why things certain things happened. Lastly we have Defining Words that come from each section of the story. There is also 3 bible studies and a paragraph about G.A. Henty and Sir Francis Drake in the back. The story chapters are numbered on the CD to make it very easy to pause the story to go over the study guide. 
This audio drama consists of 2 CDs that lasts 2 hours and is recommended for children ages 6 and up. It is available from Heirloom Audio Productions for $29.95. It was recorded in London and features a wonderful cast including Mark Drury (also in The Chronicles of Narnia audio series). The music score was composed by John Campbell, who has also composed music for Lamplighter Theatre, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, and Adventures in Odyssey. 
We have actually listened to this several times since our first trip. All three of my girls (ages 9, 12, & 13), my husband and myself really enjoyed it. We all thought it is one of the best dramatized stories we have listened to. The story is great and the way it is told is very captivating and held all of our attentions from start to finish. It is full of adventure, but it also teaches moral values. We had listened to the story a couple of times before we started on the study guide. The questions that are included really help discuss the story and it was very neat to see how we all notice different key points from the story. 
Under Drake's Flag is adapted from the book, Under Drake's Flag, written by G.A. Henty.  Heirloom is coming out with another Henty audio adventure called Freedom's Cause this fall & we can't wait to listen to it. 
Giveaway!! If you visit Under Drake's Flag facebook page you can enter to win your own copy of this audio adventure.  
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