Thursday, September 26, 2013

New addition to the family.... or make that FOUR new additions

Before you start wondering if I just gave birth to quadruplets. I didn't. We just bought 4 goldfish for the kids to take care of.

They have been begging for a while now to have some fish. I made a deal with them. They had to clean and de-clutter their room and I would buy them some fish. My husband and I talked about it and decided that 38 cent goldfish weren't too much of an investment if this little project goes south.

Since I have 4 kids, ready and willing, to help in the care of these cute little fish, I needed some way to track what had been done. The fish will need to be fed once or twice daily, not four. The tank will also need to be cleaned. We just purchased a typical goldfish bowl to start. That is why it will need to be cleaned so often. I plan on buying them something similar to this magnetic cleaner.

I searched online and couldn't find what I was looking for, so I made my own. I decided to share it with all of you too! You can print it by following this link to Teachers Pay Teachers: Goldfish Care Chart.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Math Mammoth Review

This week, my review is on Math Mammoth Light Blue Series 1A & 1B. I don't technically have any children in grade 1. However, my 5 year old, Hurricane, was ready to move past pre-school level math, so I thought we'd give this a try.

With my other two boys, we used Singapore Math 1A & 1B. We are very much a Singapore Math family, so it was very hard for me not to compare the two curricula when doing this review. It seems that most, if not all, homeschooling families have a certain math curriculum they use and they stick with it. Everyone has different tastes and learning styles, so they are all going to be different. Early on in my homeschooling "career," I referred to this chart from the Math Mammoth website to help me decide what would be best for our family. We use Singapore Math Standards Edition, so it doesn't line up exactly with Math Mammoth, but it's close.

Math Mammoth 1A starts out with a Kindergarten math review. I LOVED this. Since Hurricane is still a bit young, it was nice to have a bit of review to go over with him. It also helped him to get used to the work text format.  We are moving nice and slow for him. One page a day, at this point. I plan on slowing down or speeding up, depending upon his needs.

After the Kindergarten math review, the curriculum covers four main areas; addition and subtraction, place value, measuring lengths and geometric shapes. A full table of contents can be viewed by clicking the link above for the Light Blue Series 1A & 1B and downloading the "contents and samples" file.

One thing I really love about Math Mammoth is the focus on UNDERSTANDING of mathematical concepts. It's not just all memorization, though that is helpful when it comes to math.  I am a "why" person. I don't just do things without a good reason. Math Mammoth will teach your children to understand why. I believe this really helps to master the concepts taught in mathematics, and is one main reason I would suggest Math Mammoth to any homeschooling family.

Maria really does a wonderful job explaining the Light Blue series here:

1. Very cost effective at $34 for the whole year.
2. Focuses on understanding of mathematical concepts.
3. Easy to use with the directions printed right in the workbook.
4. No teachers manual needed.
5. Very clear explanations.
6. Can be purchased in a few different forms. 
7. Very little "extras," like manipulatives, needed. 

I honestly can't think of any. 

I will say that we plan on continuing with this curriculum for Hurricane's first year of math. After that, the plan is to switch to Singapore Math Standards Edition. That is not a knock on Math Mammoth at all, just a personal preference. I feel the scope and sequence fits our family better. That is my ONLY reason. If there ever were a time that we needed to change our math curricula for any reason, Math Mammoth would be at the top of my list! 

If you would like to purchase this curricula, you can go to the Math Mammoth Light Blue Series Grade 1 site and choose which option you like best. Your options are printed, download and CD formats. The printed are a bit more expensive, but still not as expensive as some of the math curricula out there. 

You can also read more reviews for Math Mammoth here: Mosaic Reviews: Math Mammoth

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rowing "The Tale of Peter Rabbit"

The week of September 3rd marked the start of our school year. I hadn't planned on starting until the following week, but the kids were begging to get going. Who am I to deny them? Since I didn't want to mess my plans up. I decided to do Tuesday and Thursday the first week and Monday, Wednesday, Friday the next week. That way we get our full first week in, and we can ease back into our school schedule.

For the first week, we decided to row "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter. I LOVE this book. There are so many things to learn from it's characters. The kids love it too.

Most of our activities are right out of the Five In A Row Volume 2 manual, so I won't go into those much. The manuals are very much worth every penny spent. (Though, I didn't have to spent anything on mine since I found them at a local FREE store.) I really wanted to share with you the sensory bin I came up with.

What you will need (cost):
Bin large enough to hold everything (free since I had it at home)
Potting soil ($0.97 at Walmart)
Seed packets ($0.10 a piece on clearance)
"Silk" flowers ($0.50 a bunch on clearance, I bought 3)
Shovels and other play things ($1.60 a piece on clearance)

As you can see, I didn't spend much on this bin. You don't need to really. I plan my sensory bins a few weeks out, so I can look through clearance isles and 2nd hand stores. I just make a list of everything I am going to need and keep my eyes open. If something proves to be too hard to find, I can usually find something else to fit in the bin, or just change the bin idea.

My kids LOVED it! Once we finished reading the book and doing our learning activity for the day, I brought this bin out. I put it on the floor with a large vinyl tablecloth underneath. (That made for very easy clean up. I found it at Goodwill for $2) This bin kept the younger two (ages 3 and 5) busy while I continued teaching my older two.

I left it out for maybe 30-45 minutes, then picked it up. I have found, with my kids, that if I leave things out for them too long, it will just become a huge mess. They were usually done playing with it by this time anyway. I wouldn't take it away from them when they were in the middle of playing. That is serious business. I would just pay attention to when they were loosing interest and put it up at that point.

We had lots of fun rowing "The Tale of Peter Rabbit." We hope you do too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review - Homeschool Programming Kid Coder Web Design

Grades 4-12


Homeschool Programming is a super fun computer science curriculum that teaches your 4th-12th grade children how to write their own computer programs and games. The program was written by homeschool parents with over 17 years of experience in the software industry.

They offer "Kid Coder" and "Teen Coder" options. Kid Coder is for all grades within that range, while Teen Coder is for the student who would like a more in-depth study. 

Here's a photo from their site that shows everything they offer. 

Being that most of my children are too young for this program, I had my oldest work with it. Both of us have enjoyed it so far. "Lightening" seems to be catching on to most of it. He likes how it's laid out for him and the fact that he can work independently. I also like this aspect. I can set him to work and go about mine. I check in with him often and help him when he asks. Though it's not really needed as the program walks him through step by step. I barely have to help him!

We are only about 4 chapters in at this point, but we do plan on continuing to the end. We may even purchase the other program options, if that is what Lightening wants to do. I do believe it's worth every penny! This is all information that I wish I knew, so I had no idea how to teach my children. Homeschool Programming took care of it all for me!

To read other great reviews of this product, go to Mosaic Reviews.