Saturday, January 8, 2011

Egg Drop Science Kit

I may have mentioned before that FRitW loves any kind of science. If school were just science experiments, he would be perfectly happy. So when he received an Ein-O Egg Drop Science kit  for Christmas - he couldn't wait to try it out. 

This is the first time I had seen this particular brand of science kit, and I really liked it as well. Every single thing needed for all four experiments was included, with the exception of a raw egg (Hmm..wonder why they left that out?). FritW enlisted Kirk to help him with the experiments and they managed to break only one egg! The experiments worked just as they were supposed to and were simple to prepare, but fun.

Thanks Aunt Debbie!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fit Mommy Friday 2011 - Week 1


The 10 week Fit Mommy Friday Challenge is over, but FMF is still going. Fit Mommy Fridays was begun in 2010 by Mrs. White of The Legacy of Home and Denise of Got Chai as a way to encourage moms to get fit and healthy and to provide a place of accountability. The FMF 10 week challenge helped me tremendously and I do not intend to loose the momentum, so I will be joining FMF each Friday this year to share what I am doing to be a more fit mom.

So - Week 1:
Friday: lots of cleaning/undecorating
Saturday - lots of cleaning and 1 hr Wii Fit Plus time
Sunday - Rest
Monday - School, school, school
Tuesday - 1 hr exercise with trainer
Wednesday - 1 hr Wii
Thursday - 1 hr. Wii

I am feeling more motivation to workout since I have more energy! Join Fit Mommy Fridays - it is just a simple thing and a great way to be accountable to someone. The link up is at the Got Chai blog - click here for Week 1. Also in the Week 1 post is a little interview with the 10 Week Challenge Winner !! - and as a special bonus, a guest post with great tips about setting and achieving your fitness goals.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Eclipse

So, did anyone watch the total lunar eclipse on December 21? We did. Since Dad was in West Texas we called him and shared the experience by phone. He went out to a field his family owns to watch and we sat on the front steps. We also texted with Mimi who was watching from her house next door (or as next door as it gets here in the country!)

MT really likes his sleep, so he was not thrilled to be awakened to look at the moon, even if it was orange (his favorite color), but everyone else watched as the shadow moved pretty quickly across the moon. Almost as soon as it was fully eclipsed clouds moved in completely obscuring the moon from sight. We waited more than 30 minutes for the clouds to disappear, but had to give up and head for bed.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TOS Homeschool Crew Review: Math Facts Now


Math Facts Now is a program aimed at helping your students memorize their math facts. This covers not just the Multiplication tables, but facts for each of the four operations: Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction. It is a very simple straightforward program and it really works!

I admit, my first impression of this program was not so great. The student had to complete 50 problems correctly before they could stop and the lesson I created meant that there was LOTS of repetition. Too much in fact. Kirk and Maggie tried it and they too were frustrated and bored. But first impressions do not a good review make - so I played with the Math Facts Now some more.

Since both Kirk and Maggie have their math facts down pretty well - the lessons I was creating were too simple for them. I also was assuming that FRitW was not ready for this program since he has not done any formal math at this point. I returned to the lesson creator.

I will interrupt my story for a minute here to explain the way this program works: The parent creates a lesson by choosing the operation - multiplication for instance; then chooses which facts to address: (choices are from 1-12) originally I chose 4,6,8. The parent then chooses how much time the student has to work each problem: with possible being 2-60 seconds, how many times they must retype a wrong answer: 2-10 times - (note here: the program has the student type not just the answer, but the entire problem: ex:"10+2=12"). Next the parent chooses how many correct answers will be required to complete the lesson: 50-200 **. Once the lesson is created it is available to all students. The student simply chooses his/her name, selects a lesson, and begins. As they work the number of correct answers is tracked so they can see their progress. The parent can then choose to provide a reward for a 100% correct lesson - this is a blank line to fill in so it could really be any reward that your child might enjoy.

I now return to my story: When I set up the lesson with only 4,6, and 8 multiplication tables for Kirk and Maggie, the problems repeated themselves quite frequently in the 50 problems. So I made a few new lessons for them. I created one lesson for each operation including all possible facts 1 through 12. I gave them maximum time to complete each problem: 60 seconds, and only required them to retype the wrong answers twice. I added a reward for each lesson: 10-15 minutes of computer or Wii time. (This is a big deal in our house, because 1. That time is rare, 2. What time they get they usually have to share with a sibling. So the idea of getting to play a Wii game without any "help" was pretty motivating.

This time, both kids were more interested. They still worked through quickly, each averaging about 3 seconds per problem (per the report at the end) reached their 50 correct problems on each level and prepared to spend their computer/Wii time.

I learned two things: 1. Kirk and Maggie definitely have all of their math facts down pat. 2. FRitW COULD do this program.

So, story, part 2: FRitW was desperate to 'do math' like his siblings. FRitW is 6 years old and is a little calculator. He can add and subtract in his head very well, can recognize numbers and count to more than 60 - all with no actual school learning. However, he still cannot write many of his numbers and has never done a math problem on paper (note: I am not a huge fan of 'paper' school this early and ~grin~ he really isn't either). However, I decided to give him a chance, so I created an addition lesson with just the two's tables for him. If I had checked in with my Homeschool Crew around the time I was creating this, I would have known that Math Facts Now had changed the minimum problem count** already, but since I didn't I had to give him a minimum correct problem requirement of 50.

I was a bit nervous that he would get fed up before he reached 50, but he was chomping at the bit to try the same math as Kirk and Maggie. He began the lesson and reached his 50 with only 4 problems incorrect. I gave him 10 minutes on the Wii as a reward anyway! He talked about it all day long, even greeting Dad with, "I did fifty math problems - want to watch me?" and he did another set of 50!

One thing that I disliked and liked about the program was that the 4 problems FRitW missed were strictly typing errors. For example, in attempting to type '13' he held the 3 key too long and accidentally typed '1333'. He knew the answer, but his keyboard skills were lacking. The result was him having to type the entire problem twice. This didn't help him to get the fact down, since he already knew it. However, in the case of an older child I think it is a good feature because it encourages them to be cautious and careful.

Overall, I think the program has real potential in our family. Even 50 problems only take a short time: FRitW spent about 15 minutes, Kirk & Maggie about 2-3 minutes. The rewards were a real motivator and adaptable to your student. **As a result of the Crew's input, the creator adjusted the minimum number of correct problems to 5. Personally, I do not plan to share that information with my children,  ~sly grin~
although I might consider alternating 50 and 30 with FRitW. He might enjoy the surprise of being done at 30!

Math Facts Now retails for $15.95 for the download. A CD version is also available for the same price plus $3.95 shipping. Try it for free on their website - click here for details. 

My final comment is this: I am very glad I continued to play with Math Facts Now - tweaking the lessons until I found the right combinations for our family. I think it is useful for increasing speed on known facts, learning new facts, and even practice for beginning math instruction.

Of course, I am not the only one who reviewed Math Facts Now. Click here to see what my other Crew mates thought about it.
Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Day

I showed you what we do for New Year's Eve yesterday so today I am sharing just a few snapshots from New Year's Day.
Dad and FRitW burn the Christmas Tree and some fallen branches from a pine in our yard.

You never eat popcorn alone in this house!

2011 Handprints
 Just before bed Dad measured each kid and I got handprints for the scrapbook. All four kids have grown 2 1/2 to 3 inches in the last year. This is a tradition I love. It is so fun to see each child reach their siblings marks from previous years. What was not so fun was having Kirk pass the mark for me!
Happy New Year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Positive Action For Christ - 6th Grade "Winning the Race"

Positive Action For Christ publishes Bible curriculum for churches and schools. They have products for all ages from devotional books for teens and adults to Bible Curriculum for Kindergarteners. I received The 6th Grade Curriculum, "Winning The Race" to use with my family.

I opened my package to find a soft bound student workbook, a binder with the teacher manual, an Elementary Scope and Sequence booklet, a catalog, and some information about using the curriculum in a homeschool setting.

We have never used an actual curriculum for Bible, so I sat down to explore the materials. I started with the recommendations for use in a homeschool setting. This included suggestions for using Winning the Race with one student, the whole family, or a co-op or group. Then I moved on to the scope and sequence, catalog, and finally the actual teacher manual and workbook. I was impressed with the quality, the simplicity of use, and the depth of the study.

The materials are colorful, but there is plenty of white space on the page so it is not overwhelming. There is plenty of room to write answers in the workbook. The teacher's manual is very user friendly and includes plans for a 3, 4, or 5 day a week schedule. This was simple enough that I felt very comfortable using it. I decided that for now only Maggie would be using the program.

What I like about "Winning The Race":

  • There is some teacher interaction each day, but the majority of the work can be done by the student alone.
  • There is plenty of room to write on each page.
  • The theme of the study is a comparison of the training required for excellence in the Olympics to the preparations a Christian to make to grow in Christ. This makes the study appealing to boys or girls.
  • The material uses a combination of well-know Bible stories like Paul and Silas in prison and lesser known stories like Absalom's attempt to take over his father's kingdom. I think this is important for this age group. By this age they definitely exploring beyond Noah's Ark and David and Goliath.
  • The application. I like the way that this workbook encourages the student to look at his/her attitude and actions toward Christ. Many devotionals I have looked at merely address how to respond to a person that hurts their feelings. I think the focus in this study is more on choosing to obey God - period.
  • The artwork is cartoonish, but not too childish.
  • It is not time consuming, nor does it include busy work. It is to the point, focused on the Bible.

The lesson plans include a plan for scripture memorization, hymns and choruses to learn each month, and character qualities to encourage in your children.

"Winning The Race" is available from . The teacher's manual is available in printed form (the binder I received) for $33.95 or on CD for $19.95. The Student Manual is $12.95. There is a Hymn and Chorus CD available for $9.95.

The TOS Homeschool Crew is reviewing several levels of Positive Action For Christ. I will be heading over to the Crew blog to find out what other reviewers thought about some of the younger levels. Click here to see what the other Crew members thought.

**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our New Year's Eve

We always spend New Year's Eve cleaning. I don't really know why, but for as many years as I can recall right now, this is what our family does. This year was no different. We began by undecorating the Christmas tree. Since it is Kirk's and FRitW's job to put the star on each year, Maggie and MT get to remove the star.

After the inside decorations were packed and put in the attic we tackled the lights Dad and Kirk put up this year.

FRitW wanted to be up on the roof with Dad. He was so cute perched at the peak while Dad removed lights.

Headed back to the ground!
Later we spent an hour or so sorting through clothes and toys, discarding outgrown clothes and broken toys.

We invited Papa and Mimi to come over and play some games while we waited for midnight. Maggie made a banana pudding to serve for dessert. It was so delicious! She made the pudding part by herself and it was perfect! She separated all of the eggs nicely so the meringue was perfect too. She and Kirk worked together to get it layered, then she did the meringue.

A meal of homemade tacos, banana pudding for dessert, a few games of Skip-Bo, In a Pickle, and Wildcraft, even a little Wii time, then it was midnight and we went to BED! It was a quite enjoyable New Year's Eve.