Sunday, January 30, 2011

Household Management, A Job Offer and Packing

A truly random photo to go with my truly random post.

This is what I call a truly random post, full of random thoughts from yours truly.

One.
I have realized that I am woefully unorganized, and I need to improve this. I have been spending the last few evenings after the kids are in bed making lists for a household management binder. Does anyone have one of these? I need ideas and would love to see photos of what you are doing in yours. I'm combining mine--both household issues and homeschooling issues.

Two.
My husband got a job offer. He went down to Oklahoma last week and had 5 interviews in 5 business days. So far he has one offer. We are hoping for at least one more. This is GOOD news!

Three.
Eh...packing. We will be downsizing when we move. I'm making piles. Keep. Sell. Give Away. Trash. The kids are coming in behind me with, "But mom, I love that! You can get rid of that!". Between homeschooling, therapy appointments and packing, I am exhausted. Today's sermon was about being diligent to REST in God. I think the pastor was speaking directly to me. I am happy, but I am too busy. Maybe this is what is driving me to get more organized.

That is all. How was your weekend??

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

City Night Sky

I did this simple art project with my nephew and my two littles several months back. I can't take credit for this idea though--I got it from Let's Explore, one of my favorite blogs to visit for craft ideas.

This was super easy and is pretty self explanatory, but here are the directions anyway:

Materials:
--large piece of watercolor paper
--yellow and black construction paper
--scissors, glue and watercolor paints

How to:
1. Have the child use sunset (warm) hues to paint horizontal lines across the watercolor paper. None of mine followed the warm hues very well, but it was still really pretty in the end. :)

2. Depending on the age of the child, cut out or let them cut out different sized rectangles from the black paper for buildings and skyscrapers. Cut out squares for windows out of the yellow.

3. Once the watercolor is dry, use a glue stick to glue the buildings and windows on.

Result: One beautiful piece of artwork for your living room wall. :)

Lego Organization

A couple of months ago I saw a post over at 1+1+1=1. She was talking about how she had gone to Jo-Anns and bought these containers and she sorted out her kid's Lego collection. I was amazed by her organization skills, really--and after thinking it over for a while, I went for it. It took a few hours, but the Legos are so much more organized now and easy for the kids to find what they want and build. :)

How do you deal with the Lego mess?

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some Good Stuff Coming Up

Lately, my reviews have been my least popular posts. I don't know why that is, maybe the products don't interest people, maybe my reviews are too boring, who knows? But either way, I have some really good ones coming up, so I thought I'd just give you a little heads up.

Coming up in the next two months, I'll be sharing with you how Miss O, my 4 year old learned to read! I've tried a few approaches with her, but nothing has held her interest or been as successful as the program I am reviewing with her now! I'm super excited about her progress, and highly recommend this product. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for my review on I See Sam.

I'm also excited about a Latin program for the littles that I'll be receiving any day now. For those of you taking a classical approach, you may be interested in this review. I remember a blog friend of mine wrote a bit about her use of this program with her 1st grader. I'm excited to start Little Bean on Song School Latin pretty soon here!

And for those of you with reluctant readers, you will absolutely LOVE the Kid Scoop online newspaper for kids, which comes as a part of their Reluctant Reader kit. I feel so blessed to have been chosen for this review. Although my son is not a reluctant reader, he loves this magazine, and I love it too!

There are more, but these are the ones I'm super excited to share with all of you! So I hope you stick around and read about these products. :)

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Review: Children's Bible Dictionary

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This is one of my all time favorite homeschooling blogs to read. There are some bloggers whose opinions on curriculum and homeschooling resources are super valuable to me. This blogger is one of them! So when back before Christmas, I saw a post over there about the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, I decided to check it out. I liked it so much, I put it on my Amazon wish list for Little Bean.

Fast forward a month, and I log onto The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and see that I have been chosen to review this very product! I was super excited! Lifeway Christian Stores sent me a nice, shiny, copy of this book, and Little Bean has been enjoying it ever since.

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids is a beautiful, hard cover book containing more than 750 Bible terms, with 500 of those terms paired with full color photographs. At a little over 200 pages, this book is full of interesting facts and information for you and your child to grow in your knowledge of the Bible. This Bible is meant for children ages 5 to 10, but would be interesting even for tween, teens and adults.
This Bible dictionary features:

--Reconstructions to show how buildings and cities may have looked in Bible times

--Illustrated charts with brief descriptions of Bible animals, insects, plants, etc

--Charts showing names of God, the apostles, festivals, etc

--Pronunciation guides

--Photographs to show the real places where events happened

--realistic illustrations of Bible stories

--definitions of key people and concepts in the Bible

Check out this link for an inside look (click google preview)!

How We Use the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

I personally really like this resource. I meant to buy it myself before I was asked to review it. This is a wonderful resource for Little Bean to read on his own. He is naturally curious about all things "fact"ish and loves dictionaries, encyclopedias, and any type of non-fiction, really. And because he is reading independently, he is able to learn all kinds of Bible facts in his free time. Many times I'll walk into his room after quiet time and he'll be reading his Bible dictionary.

This dictionary is also great for shared reading with your kids. The kids like to choose a letter and have me read some of the entries in that section (it's alphabetical, as most dictionaries are). Whether your a homeschooler, a parent raising a child up in a Christian home, a Sunday school teacher, or are just looking for a Bible dictionary for whatever reason, I highly recommend this one.

The Holman Bible Dictionary can be purchased from Lifeway Christian Stores for $14.99. Lifeway has all kinds of Christian material for children and adults alike, so if you decide to check out the dictionary over there, be sure to poke around a bit at their other products.

Note: I was given a copy of this product for free in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way, and am not obligated to give a positive review.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Little Smarty

Little Bean at 13 months. Pretty much all he did was look at books and pretend to read the words.
One comment that we have always gotten about Little Bean is that he is SO smart. Even as a little seven month old baby my mom would read to him and he would sit and listen for hours at a time (totally not kidding. My mom used to babysit him while I worked, and I looked at her funny when she informed me of this). He memorized books before he was two. He could read simple stuff at 3. He is reading around a 4th or 5th grade level at 5. I'm not bragging, this kid really is smart! ;)

Continuing with Little Bean's testing related to the Autism diagnosis, he was given the WPPSI-III, namely, an IQ test. There is no question that an IQ test doesn't provide one with a picture of the total person and his or her limitations or full abilities. So many things can affect an IQ test on any given day. But it is often a great tool to use for teachers to know how their student learns. As a homeschooling family, we went into Little Bean's IQ test with this mindset.

Little Bean did very well in both verbal and non-verbal tasks, and was average on processing speed:

For verbal tasks, Little Bean's IQ was 129, and exceed the scores of 97% of his peers.

For Performance-based tasks (non-verbal), Little Bean's IQ was 127 and exceed the scores of 96% of his peers.

For Processing Speed, Little Bean scored 102 and exceed the scores of 55% of his peers.

His Full Scale IQ was 127. Most "normal" people fall between 90 and 110.

Going in, I knew next to nothing about IQ scores, so here is a little chart that explains what the ranges are for scoring in case you're anything like me (btw, really poor wording choice on this chart, please know this is not my wording, I just copied this chart from the internet)!

Classification IQ Limits
Very Superior 128
Superior 120-127

Bright Normal 111-119
Average 91-110

Dull Normal 80-90

Borderline 66-79
Defective 65 and below

Since Little Bean did about equally well on both verbal and non-verbal tasks, this test didn't tell us much other than that he can learn equally well from both verbal and written instructions, and that indeed, he IS really smart.

I look at his intelligence as a wonderful blessing in light of his diagnosis of ASD (autism). It's something that will carry him through, help him learn coping skills and social skills via his brain and his intelligence rather than naturally the way "normal" people learn. Where he lacks intuition, he can make up for it with brain power and excellent memory skills.

To close, I just wanted to add that this post has been in my drafts for a while; I didn't want to offend anyone or make anyone feel bad because "I have a kid who is so smart", so I have hesitated with posting it. I know many (most, maybe?) children with autism have speech delays which would affect IQ scores, and I know not everyone has such a verbal child. Little Bean has his strengths and weaknesses. Most of the time, professionals focus on his deficits--social problems, behavior problems, anger problems, sensory problems--this post is about celebrating his strengths for once. I hope it's alright to brag on my kids once in a while, and I sincerely hope it is taken as just that, and not as saying anything about anyone else's kid.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Speekee Spanish Language Program

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This review is for the little ones in our lives. I was given a trial subscription to Speekee TV, an online Spanish language program for children ages 2 to 10. Speekee TV features 10 episodes entirely in Spanish, for a full 150 minutes of learning time. Each episode has a different theme, and the vocabulary for the day is based off of that theme. Some themes include: 'the park', 'the cafe', 'class time', 'the beach', 'the zoo', and 'at home'. Speekee TV is purchased as a subscription, costing $7.50 per month, with the first two weeks being FREE! You can terminate your subscription at any time.

Speekee

Both kids were able to watch and enjoy Speekee TV. Each episode features Speekee, a lovable purple puppet, a friend named Jim, two quirky sock puppets, and several children. Filmed on location in Spain, the Spanish is excellent, and the varied situations give one a fairly broad, basic, vocabulary. Each episode has several catchy songs, as well as short segments teaching numbers, colors, and counting, as well as themed vocabulary segments interspersed throughout. The shows are entirely in Spanish, but you do have the option for subtitles in both Spanish and English. This product comes in both a DVD format and as the online subscription.

Things We Liked:

*The episodes are really well done in terms of props, scene setting, and general appearance of the shows.

*The songs are catchy, and the characters open and friendly.

*Short episodes, but rich in content.

*Each episode comes with downloadable worksheets correlating to the content on that episode. Just print and extend the learning time with your kids. I REALLY enjoyed this feature.

*Available online. I prefer online products to downloads most of the time because it saves disk space on my computer.

My only complaint is that my kids really didn't pick up much Spanish. My daughter (4) complained that "she couldn't understand anything they were saying", and my son (5) reads already, so he spent a lot of time reading the subtitles in English and interpreting what they were saying for us. Some of the examples were a bit ambiguous as to what they were referring to. For instance, at one point, the girl was counting blocks of different colors. She would pick up one colored block and say, "uno". Then she would pick up the next colored block and say "dos", and so on. I asked my daughter what she was saying, and she told me that she thought they were teaching colors since each block was a different color. I think some of the segments could have been built with a little more clarity, keeping in mind that some of the children watching would have no background knowledge with which to build from.

That being said, I think this program would be a great companion to a home where Spanish is spoken from time to time or in a situation where a child was learning Spanish from other sources as well. Perhaps too, with more exposure to the same episodes, my children may have picked up some Spanish words.

If this product interests you, visit their website here and poke around!

Adios! ;)

Note: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any compensation and all opinions are mine.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Paul Klee Copycat

This year for art I am using a series called Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists, in particular, right now we are looking at the work of Paul Klee. Paul Klee was a great musician and a great artist. His work is varied from abstract to more traditional. Using this book, I had the children copy one of Paul Klee's paintings, Twittering Machine, pictured below.



Paul Klee's Twittering Machine

First, the children used crayon to draw their own twittering machine, based off of Klee's painting. Then, they wet an entire piece of paper with a paint brush. Next, they used cool colors for the background and warm colors to fill in the smaller spaces on their twittering machines.



Little Bean's Twittering Machine

This was a really enjoyable project for them both. Kind of new and different; they were really pleased with the results.


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Friday, January 14, 2011

Talking about it...

I met a friend for coffee today. We met to talk about Little Bean's diagnosis. I sought her out because I knew she would know what we are going through, and hopefully could lend me some support.

She has a daughter, who is right about Miss O's age who is also diagnosed with Autism. She's known about the diagnosis for a while, and she was just so....together. Her daughter is in a special ed preschool, and getting speech and occupational therapy and she is seeing lots of progress, and she was just so positive about it all. I love that about her. How accepting of the diagnosis she was, and how she is in the place where she can discuss her daughter's challenges in an intelligent manner, and just kind of take a step back from it all emotionally.

Me...I'm not there yet. I really can't open my mouth to talk about his diagnosis and treatments without tearing up. And while I do accept the diagnosis, I don't think I've let myself think about the future, whether that's a good future for him, or a meager one. I'm at the "drudging through evals and therapies" stage, not at the "Yes, he is autistic, but he'll be just fine" stage.

My friend had barely sat down in Starbucks, and already I was crying. I can't talk about his issues without getting emotional. I can't step back and look at things purely from an intellectual standpoint right now. I'd like to get to the place where I'm not bursting into random tears wherever I go. I'd like to feel less stressed out and more at peace. I'd like to imagine Little Bean's life in 5 years and know that I don't have to worry about whether he'll have friends or whether he'll be able to express his anger without tantruming.

I loved seeing my friend because she is already at that place (or at least appeared that way to me!). It made me stop and think about the fact that I won't always be where I am now, and neither will Little Bean. It was a good day.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kind of exciting, job related

As I mentioned in my last post, my dh has been actively looking for jobs in Oklahoma. Most of his side of the family is there (grandparents, aunts, sister, etc) and his parents are about a day's drive from there (as opposed to the 4 to 5 days drive from here). Also, with the cost of living so high in CA, we feel a move to a "cheaper" area is in order.

Well, so far he's been doing phone interviews, and they have gone pretty well. Yesterday morning he had a phone interview with a larger corporation, and he pretty much nailed the interview, according to him. A few hours later, he got a call from the recruiter that the job came from saying that they would like to fly him out to for a face-to-face meeting! We are very excited, but know that just because he is being invited out for the meeting, doesn't guarantee that he will get the job.

What do you think? Does the fact that they are paying for a flight out and hotel room mean that he will probably get it?? We have never tried to get jobs from afar before, so we don't really know how the protocol goes for that. :)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Miss O

Not much has been said about Miss O lately, since our life has changed gears and has been more focused on helping Little Bean. Sometimes I feel like Miss O got the short end of the stick when it comes to dealing with Little Bean's daily struggles because of his Autism. She is one of those people who is so giving and generous and who loves to make people happy, and of course, having a brother who finds it impossible to understand how someone else may feel about something makes it a very one-sided friendship.

They love to play together, but the truth is, Miss O is the giver in the relationship, and Little Bean is the taker. Since now we know that that is more developmental than just selfishness on his part, we can better address the situation and hopefully help the situation some. But I do feel bad for Miss O, and wish I could make things better for her too.

Recently she has gotten tired of some of the things he does, and he has started getting on her nerves. She got a book for Christmas called My Friend With Autism. It's a coloring book/story book and it explains Little Bean basically to a T. It's also framed very positively and includes steps that she can take to both be a better friend AND have her needs met as well. She has already finished coloring it (she loves to color), and we've read it together a few times. Both she and Little Bean recognized that the boy in the book is a lot like Little Bean. I am hoping I can think of other ways to frame their relationship in a more positive light, and to include her and make her feel special when it seems that he is getting a lot of the attention at this time.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where We Are At With Therapy

It's been almost 2 months since Little Bean's diagnosis of Autism. It's been closer to 6 months since we began the process of trying to figure out what was going on with him and began seeking a diagnosis. Here's the run down of where we are at now:

Anger Therapy: This was a group therapy class that was meant to teach kids with all kinds of medical and psychological backgrounds skills for coping with anger. Little Bean attended this class once a week and either myself or my dh would go with him. This class was literally painful for me to go to. For some reason, seeing him with all these other kids who, although they clearly had anger problems, could relate so well and befriend eachother, killed me inside. I was a stark difference between how Little Bean played and interacted and the way the other children played and interacted. After the first 3 or 4 classes, I asked my husband to go instead because it was just too hard for me to see how different he was in so many ways. I was always near tears (or in tears most of the time) by the time I left that class.

However, we did learn some valuable information in that class. No, her techniques were nothing new, but I realized that there were things I could do to help prevent the rage cycle from happening, and honestly, his behaviors have lessened since finishing this class. It is on break now, and I don't know if he will be recomended to continue going or not. At this point, I think it's not necessary. This class is covered, with only a small copay by our current insurance.

Social Skills 1:1 Therapy: We were very lucky in that the woman who evaluated him initially for Autism was more than happy to take him on as her patient. We really like her gentle manner, and the fact that Little Bean seemed comfortable with her was a good thing. So we were able to start his 1:1 therapy basically right away. Since this therapist does most of the testing for Autism, she doesn't have a ton of time for regular appointments, which means his appointments will be very sporadic, but at this point it's the best option we have if we utilize our insurance for this. So far, he's practiced using an appropriate tone of voice (he tends to speak just above a whisper, which means no one can hear him!), two-way conversations, greetings and eye contact. We get this therapy through our insurance with only a slightly larger copay than the anger classes.

Social Skills Group Therapy: This is by far the most important of all his therapies because it involves learning targeted social skills in a setting where he must interact with peers. Unfortunately, since this isn't covered by our insurance, it's taken us a lot longer to get things started. We visited the facility probably a month ago to just learn more about the cost involved and what services he would receive. He is scheduled to go in for another assessment this week, during which time they will observe him playing with peers and create goals for him. After that, it shouldn't be long before he can get started with the group. As I said, this group is not covered under our current insurance, and is very costly. We have asked my parents to help pay for his therapy here.

I hate asking people for money, but in this case, I know how important it is that Little Bean have these interventions as soon as possible. We would eventually like to take over the responsibility for all his therapy costs, which is part of the reason why we feel a move to Oklahoma is in our best interest. We feel that if my dh can get a higher paying job in OK, with the cost of living being cheaper there, we can hopefully take some steps to better our situation and eventually pay for his therapy ourselves.

Occupational Therapy: When Little Bean was assessed, it was suggested that he have an occupational therapy evaluation as well. It was found that his fine and gross motor skills are completely on target for his age, so he does not medically warrant occupational therapy. However, they said that he would benefit from continued occupational therapy to address his sensory needs. They found that he is tactile defensive. This shows up in his stiffening or jumping away when touched, his toe-walking, and refusal of hugs. They also found that he is sensory seeking. This shows up in his easily distractable manner, playing or hugging too roughly, in repetitive behaviors like spinning and repetitive speech. And finally they found that he is auditory defensive. This shows up in his covering his ears for sounds like crying, loud noises, etc and in his becoming very upset when he hears any background noise when he is trying to concentrate. His OT is a really nice Christian lady, and she has given us a packet of ideas to begin a sensory diet with him. I am supposed to try out different activities with him throughout the day to address his sensory needs and report what worked and what didn't. Eventually the hope is that with a regular sensory diet, he would become less defensive and more open to and relaxed with sensory stimuli. His OT is about every 3 weeks, and is covered by our insurance with a copay.

So that's the run down for now. Course, it could all change when we move to OK if my dh finds work out there. Depending on the insurance situation, more or less could be covered, and also it is dependent on what services are even available to him out there. So while the payment situation could change, I'm fairly confident the types of therapies will be basically the same for him wherever we go. And hopefully, a move will enable us to take back some of the financial part ourselves.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Easy Classical History Schedule

I'm reviewing something a bit different this time, and this one is for those of you who have read Susan Wise Bauer's The Well-Trained Mind and find the classical approach to homeschooling appealing.

Easy Classical is a company that provides homeschooling schedules, based on the ideas presented in The Well-Trained Mind. Their schedules make planning a year's worth of school work in an organized manner an easy thing. Easy Classical's website has a resource page that lists the various curriculum choices recommended for use with their schedules. To be clear, Easy Classical does not sell most of the actual curriculum that is to be used with their schedules (though they do offer writing, geography and copywork companion books on their site), rather, they make using these resources, and following a classical approach to homeschooling easy--by doing all the planning for you. All you need to do is purchase the recommended curriculum and open your Easy Classical schedule, and you are set for the year!

In any case, I was sent Easy Classical's Early Modern Age (Explorers to 1820) History Schedule to review.The Early Modern Age History Schedule is 106 pages jam-packed with scheduled activities, readings, and ideas for your student, as well as comprehension quizzes that can be photocopied and used to check for understanding each week. These schedules can be adapted for use with a student of any age. Each history schedule costs $29.95 for a digital version, or you can have a notebook version shipped to you for $35.95 plus shipping.

I was very impressed with the layout of the schedules, and the quality of the comprehension questions. Everything is very clear and easy to follow. The schedule uses little icons throughout to remind you about different things, like mapping exercises or reading narrations that should be done periodically. I love that it comes with the choice of a digital format as well as a physical product. AND, as if that weren't enough, Easy Classical is now offering writing, geography and copybook companions to go along with their schedules! If I were to take a more rigorous look at the classical approach, for sure I would be returning to Easy Classical's website to find out more about their schedules. I know their schedules would make this approach much more accessible for those of us organizationally-challenged individuals!

In addition to history schedules, Easy Classical sells science schedules, main schedules, and complete schedules for many grade levels. If this was interesting to you, be sure to head on over to Easy Classical and check out their sample pages to see if there's an Easy Classical schedule to meet your homeschooling needs.

Note: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any compensation, and all opinions are mine.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spelling Idea

I actually got this idea from Little Bean's occupational therapist. Since he is tactile defensive (basically, he doesn't like being touched), she gave me a list of fun ways to get him touching and experiencing different textures. I combined this idea with his spelling curriculum, and he ended up really liking it!

All you need is a bit of spare carpet; we had an extra piece in the garage and I just duct taped the edges to prevent the fibers from fraying. Have your child use a piece of chalk to write their spelling words or practice letter formation on the carpet square. Have them erase the chalk with different body parts--palms, back of hands, forearms, even try feet! Little Bean really liked this! We may have to permanently incorporate it into our spelling lessons!

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: Math Facts Computer Program

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As a part of the Homeschool Crew, I reviewed Math Facts Now, a computer program for drilling basic math facts. As a homeschooling mom to a little one who is still learning his math facts, this program has been a life saver! I know we will get continued use of this product for years to come.

Math Facts Now is a no-frills computer program that focuses on memorization and retention of math facts in all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). I say Math Facts Now is a no-frills program because it has a very basic set-up, without all the distracting computer animations of other computer programs. Despite the simplicity of this program, my son did not complain about completing his drills, and I found the program very effective for him.

Also, Math Facts Now is completely customizable--you choose which operations to include, how many problems your student will complete at a time, and how long they have to complete each problem. Math Facts Now also remembers which problems your child gets wrong, and automatically drills those ones more often (I particularly liked this feature!).

Math Facts Now is ideal for children who are struggling with memorization of basic math facts. This program is user-friendly for both homeschooled children and regularly schooled children who just need a bit of extra work on their math facts. For only $15.95 you can download this program, or choose a CD-rom version for $15.95 plus a $3.95 shipping and handling fee. Math Facts Now runs on Windows 2000, ME, XP, Vista, and Windows 7. 45 MB of free hard drive space is required. Be sure to check out the free trial by clicking here.

Note: I was sent this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way and all opinions are mine.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Language Arts in the New Year

My long time readers know that Little Bean is currently obsessed with the Magic Tree House series. His obsession has slowed down a bit in the last month or so...previously he would actually categorize all his Tree House books by number and organize them in his red backpack, which was his constant companion--literally. He took it everywhere from the swing set to the dinner table, it did not leave his side, and all his Tree House books were in order inside. Nowadays, while he is still reading them daily and writing down facts from them often, he does not carry them around as much and hasn't been so careful about the numerical order.

One of the things the experts suggest is finding ways to integrate the special interests of Autistic children into their school day. Actually, I think this is very sound advice whether your child is completely neuro-typical or not; and it's exactly what I am attempting to do this coming year.

For Christmas, I asked for this book, titled Teaching With Favorite Magic Tree House books. It runs for about $8.00 dollars on Amazon and is packed with Language Arts, History, Math, Science and Art ideas for children in the 2nd through 4th grades. Course, Little Bean is only in 1st--technically--but since he is reading way above grade level, and because the activities are highly adaptable, I am able to use this book with him pretty well. I will be continuing with our normal curriculum as well, but will be probably abandoning our phonics program altogether in favor of this book instead, since he is pretty much reading fluently and phonics is not longer a concern of mine with him.

Yesterday we made up our own Magic Tree House book covers (title and illustration) and today we wrote the first 4-sentence draft to match our book cover. I'm also having him read me a chapter a day to assess his reading level, comprehension and vocabulary skills. From there, I'll glean vocabulary words and ask comprehension questions based on the text. So far, I'm thinking this was a very good idea. It was nice to see a big smile on his face during school today. :)

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Rules

Thank you to those who commented on my recent post asking about posting house rules. Here's what I came up with, by gleaning ideas from various sources:

1. Never raise a hand to hurt another person.

2. Never raise a foot to kick another person.

3. Never raise an object to throw at another person.

4. Never raise a voice to yell at another person.

5. Always ask before touching another person's things. Never touch without permission.

6. Always use kind words, even if you are angry.

7. Always knock before entering. Never enter without permission.

8. Always listen and respond to other when they speak to you. Never ignore other people.

Regarding numbers 1 to 3, we have problems with all these, so I felt the need to explicitly state what is not allowed. Rather than just "Be kind", I felt Little Bean especially needed a rule for each type of aggression.

Number 4 is a good reminder for all of us. It's hard not to raise your voice when you are upset, but yelling only escalates ones' anger.

Miss O in particular has problems touching my things without asking (kitchen drawers, bathroom drawers, etc) and pulling out stuff that isn't hers to play with. This is where number 5 comes in.

Number 6 is a great reminder for all of us.

Number 7 is a constant issue between the kids. They like to barge in on each other and then refuse to leave each other's rooms, often causing fights.

And number 8 is mainly Little Bean. Sometimes I think that if he doesn't like what someone is saying, he pretends not to hear them. Of course that infuriates us all.

We've had the rules posted in 5 locations throughout the house for about a week (by the door, in the hall, by the bathroom, near their bedroom and on the fridge). So far it hasn't made a wink of difference in how they behave. I do refer back to it when they misbehave, and it is good for that. However, I am not seeing much purpose in the posted rules beyond that. Now I'm racking my brain for a better way.

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Review: 1st Grade Bible Curriculum

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According to their website, Positive Action for Christ "seeks to supply Bible study materials that teach the heart as well as the head". Positive Action for Christ sells Bible curriculum for school or church use for children ranging from Kindergarten through 12th grade. The set I was sent was most likely intended for school use, but I easily adapted it for in-home use.

As a part of the Homeschool Crew this year, I had the good fortune to review their 1st grade Bible curriculum entitled Enjoying God's Gifts. I was sent both the teacher's manual and the student workbook. The teacher's manual is available for $33.95 and the student workbook for $12.95 ($10.95 if you purchase 5 or more).

Enjoying God's Gifts had my 1st grader focusing on the many aspects of God's gifts, namely Creation, friends, family, Jesus Christ, and God's care for us. Each lesson is extremely detailed (a plus for those of us who thrive on order and accuracy), including sections on new vocabulary, target truths, a Bible story, discussion questions, character trait activities and more. There are several workbook pages that go along with the lessons, and for an extra $9.95 you can purchase a music CD that includes songs and choruses that correlate to the lessons. While not necessary, the music CD would be an added bonus feature to enhance your student's experience of this curriculum.

Some of the things that really stood out to me with this curriculum were:

--the detailed plans. I'm usually a less is more kind of girl, but what I liked with Positive Action was that it was very clear that the people in charge of creating this curriculum really took their job seriously. Each lesson is packed with scripture, real-life stories, and creative activities for me to choose from in order to best teach my little guy in the ways of the Lord.

--the schedule options. The beginning of the teacher's manual has suggested schedule options for how to partition the lessons into 5, 4, or 3-day school weeks. I chose the 5 day option, but could have easily incorporated any of the options or made up my own. This curriculum is very flexible in that way.

--the workbook. This is a great workbook in that it is very colorful and the activities vary enough that it keeps my little guy's interest. I also like that the workbook was realistic in terms of the abilities of a 1st grader, remembering to leave large blanks for big handwriting and word banks for easy spelling. The workbook isn't necessary to use the curriculum, but it is a wonderful asset and compliments the curriculum in many ways.

I personally really liked this curriculum. I like that they have products available for children all the way from K to 12th grade. And for the price, I think it's well worth it! If you are interested in this product, check out more of their curriculum here!

Note: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are mine.

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