Friday, May 27, 2011

HSV Garden Challenge - Month 3


I almost missed this link up! This is the 3rd post for The Homeschool Village Garden Challenge. The challenge this month is to post:
  • a current photo of your garden
  • something you (Mom) have learned
  • the first dish you have made with your garden produce
From left to right: Kirk's pepper, Maggie's pepper, FRitW's tomato, MT's tomato.
In the background Sugar Snaps with beans planted below.

If you read my blog anyway, you know that I covered the dishes I have made with our garden in a post last week (click here to read that). We are still eating out of our garden on a daily basis and this week again have an abundance of Sugar Snap Peas. We have eaten chicken and veggie stir fry until we are a bit tired of it, so if you have ANY other ways of preparing sugar snaps (besides raw and stir fry) please share! We also had our root vegetable bake again with potatoes, carrots, onion, and herbs. Delicious!
The potato beds tonight
We just spent an hour or so in the garden this evening digging up the final potato plants. We dug up lots of potatoes so they will be a staple in our meals this week. The weather has been getting hotter and hotter and the plants have begun to die. It was time to dig them up.

The potatoes that were in those beds.

The fading sugar snaps with beans growing below them.
The Sugar Snaps are beginning to die as well and probably will be ready to pull up in another week. We already planted a variety of beans under the pea plants so they can make use of the fence.
Squash, melons, corn, and green beans

Dad and I scoured the Home and Garden stores for tomato and pepper plants last weekend and are going to have to look some more this weekend. That brings us to what I have learned this year: Greenhouses can get too hot. Maggie and I started seeds several times and those that came up fried, but many did not even come up. I've learned that you must vent your greenhouse if it begins to get too warm. We went through lots of seed with very little results. The greenhouse will get another chance, but not until I learn a little more about how to effectively use it.

Corn and beans are planted in some of the row middles.
We finally grew carrots!

Thank you for visiting my garden again - I'll be hopping around seeing some of yours too!

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TOS Review: Read For The Heart

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Read For The Heart by Sarah Clarkson is not just a book about books. It's a beautiful reminder of why I read. Miss Clarkson does provide parents with a list of whole, living books to share with your child, but she also explores how her parents helped create an environment that encouraged a love for learning through books and in doing so offers suggestions for the rest of us. I truly enjoyed reading her memories from childhood as well as her reading recommendations.

The book lists in Read For The Heart are divided into chapters:
  • Picture books
  • The Golden Age Classics
  • Children's Fiction
  • Fairy Tales and Fantasy
  • History and Biography
  • Spiritual Reading for Children
  • Poetry 
  • Music, Art, and Nature
The chapters are not just lists, but short 'book reports' to help you choose literature of interest to your child or to enhance your child's studies.

The appendices include lists of Caldecott Medalists, Newbery Medalists, G.A. Henty books, Landmark History Books, the Trailblazer Series, and a listing of favorites for boys, girls, family read-alouds, and audiobooks.

I loved reading this book. The author's writing style is enjoyable and easy to read. As I've already mentioned, I particularly enjoyed her stories of how special literature has been in her life. I've always considered myself a reader and Kirk and Maggie have an unquenchable appetite for books, but I've noticed that with the increase of media, my reading has fallen off. Since receiving this book, I've made it a point to spend more time reading to my children as well as reading for pleasure. I was introduced to some new stories through Read For The Heart, because although I read everything the libraries offered as a child, many new wonderful books have been written in the last, ahem, few years - like Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. This is definitely a must read and reminded me of my own childhood and the many towns my siblings and I built.

A few especially nice features about this book are:
  • an index of Illustrators and Authors 
  • a separate index of book titles 
  • Book recommendations often include other books by that author or illustrator or books related by topic

The only thing I missed in Read For The Heart were books for older children. There were some recommendations for High School age reading, but not many. I did however feel it was a wonderful resource for children through the Junior High age and am thrilled to own it! This would also make a very nice gift for a fellow homeschool mom.

Read For The Heart is published and sold by Apologia and available through their website for $17.00.

Several other crew members are posting their thoughts on Apologia's Read For The Heart, click here to read their reviews.


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**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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

TOS Review: enVisionMATH from Pearson Education

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Several weeks ago, I received a rather large box in the mail. I was expecting this package, but not its size. It was supposed to be a 1st Grade Math book from Pearson Education. It was, but I was very surprised by it's size. See?

It is called enVisionMATH. This is the 1st grade level and my intention was to use it with FRitW as he would be in 1st grade if he were in school. He has never used a written math curriculum, so I was interested to see how he would respond to enVisionMATH. But first, let me tell you what I know about this program.

The book is huge! But as soon as you open it, you understand why. Each page is designed to be removed from the book and folded in half, making a little booklet for the student. My first thought was that this would be ideal for homeschoolers that use workboxes or folders for individual work.
Tear out the page

Fold the page in half to make a booklet

After looking further at the pages though, it is obvious that they are designed to be used in a more traditional school setting. The front page of the booklet has no instruction, but does have a note at the bottom that makes it clear that it is designed to be sent home with the student. The note includes an explanation of what your child is learning about and an activity you can do with your child to reinforce the skill learned. Inside the booklet and on the back are some activities with simple directions for your child to complete. There are some full page gameboards (with instructions! Yay!) and tests .
One of the game boards

Upon searching through the box and the website, it became clear that I did not have access to any instructions or a teacher's guide. My husband laughed - "Do you really need a teacher's guide for 1st Grade Math?" Normally, no. But, look at the page pictured below:

Hmmm… No instructions, no pictures, just a few blanks. The "Home Connection" at the bottom says, "Your child used connecting cubes to represent subtraction stories and to write number sentences about the stories." Well, I am a Mom by design and a Homeschooler by trade, so I decided it was time to use this book the homeschool way: Tweak it! I pulled out sheets for MT and FRitW and grabbed some colorful blocks for manipulatives and we created our own lessons. The boys enjoyed using manipulatives to create problems for the first page and to recreate the problems on the inner pages of the lessons. They especially enjoyed being able to doing those worksheets with Kirk and Maggie!


I found the Pearson website extremely difficult to navigate and geared toward a public or private school curriculum buyer, but the math book I received is available for individual purchase. The $34.47 price tag includes the student book plus digital access. As I did not receive the digital access, I cannot explain how that might help.

Overall, I don't see this as something I would purchase for our homeschool. A few things that don't work for us are: the price tag for a consumable product, the obvious slant to a public/private school setting, the number of pages I would have to make up directions for (I can and already do this without a workbook), and the difficulty in using the website. On the other hand, it is 'tweakable'. The pages are colorful, fun, and I'm sure you can come up with activities to teach the concept - Kirk and Maggie actually came up with problems for the first pages when they worked with the little boys.

TOS Crew Members received Reading and Social Studies curriculums from Pearson, in addition to the Math I received. Click here to see what the other Crew Members thought.

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**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.