Wednesday, 18 November 2015

When will I ever use this???

I usually cringe when the girls ask me a question like that but thankfully when they asked it about working out cubic volumes I was able to point them in hubby's direction as just one example.

He works testing buildings and he has to work out the cubic volume when doing a building sound test or an air tightness test (see air tightness testing for more info) cue playing with his laser measure and having fun working out cubic volumes - love it when math comes to life :)

Friday, 13 November 2015

Grapevine Studies - The Birth of Jesus TOS Review

I love this time of year because TOS always manage to find a great Christmas product to review which brings the spirit of Christ into our home. And Grapevine Studies doesn't disappoint - we received the Birth of Jesus: Multi Level (7+)

Grapevine Studies have created a unique multi sensory way (hear - draw - review) for your family to study scriptures, by drawing stick figures as the lesson is presented to them and then answering questions about what they have learnt the scriptures become more engaging and really memorable. Its a great way to improve your understanding the Bible.

I received three digital downloads. 
The Birth of Jesus multi level teacher book

This contains the goals, methodology and lesson narratives w
hich really simplifies planning as its all outlined for you (all you have to do is print and provide coloured pencils/pens). It also contains the completed (drawn) lessons - Each lesson consists of reading a scripture verse, stick figuring (drawing) and discussion questions to review. They suggest a weekly memory verse and timeline review, there are also maps and vocabulary to look up in the Bible Dictionary. Their suggested lesson outline is;

Day 1 - Timeline Review Page
Day 2: Lesson page 1
Day 3: Lesson page 2
Day 4: Student Drawing Page


The Birth of Jesus multi level Student book

This contains the printable outlines for the timelines and student pages. the lessons are broken down into timeline, the announcement, birth of Jesus, the proclamation, the Wise Men and Herod and a final review.

The Birth of Jesus multi level Student book traceable

The same as the student book but with traceable outlines

I love how flexible this product is - you can use exactly as outlined without any hassle and little prep or you can tweak to suit how your family works. We used it as outlined mostly but did make two small changes - first they suggested the teacher draws the stick figures on a whiteboard for the kids to copy but I choose to show them it from my laptop, second we printed a space copy of the timeline and cut it up to make timeline cards which we used in our weekly review.

I loved that it covered many topics - bible study, history, geography, dictionary usage, spelling, art etc.

The girls really, really enjoyed this - they loved the drawing and the timeline (and the timeline cards) and its a perfect way to study over Christmas. They even memorised bible verses with no complaints :)

The Teacher book is $12.50 and the Student book and Traceable book are $8 each

You can see what my crew mated thought of this and other Grapevine Studies products over at the TOS Blog.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Question time

One of my favourite aspects of educating the girls at home is being bombarded with their wonderful questions all the time. Sometimes they want to know why clouds don't float off into space? or why grass grows in winter when the rest of the plants die?

That said, there are times and places where these questions prove difficult (like in the middle of the night) so we decided to give them a place to record the questions so we could approach them at a more sensible time.  I drew a thought bubble on a small whiteboard and stuck it at the bottom of the stairs with a pen, they can write down any questions or draw a picture to prompt them, then during reading time we can have a 'question session' where we can look up the answers.

So far it seems to be working nicely and is a great way to sneak in some extra writing practice.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

How do you record your kids work?

I was recently asked this question by a reader and thought I'd share what I do and quiz you guys about how you do it.

For the last 3 years I've kept each child's work in a file folder (prior to that we tried notebooks but they were never big enough).

Each girl is given a folder with a few tabs in which are then labelled by subject.

At the end of each day any notes taken, posters drawn, notebook pages, stories/poems written, experiments recorded, artwork, worksheets etc are placed in a file tray. At the end of the week (or sometimes every couple of weeks if we are feeling lazy) they get the hole punch out and file them away. 

For any of the bigger stuff (model of the pyramids, large art pieces, historical feasts, educational games, lapbooks, trips) I just take photos that I can print and place in their folders.

I also do this for any Montessori materials they use - for example, when they were doing the adverb presentation I took photos and popped them in her folder.

With their 'internet learning' there are often print outs of the lessons available, otherwise I print out a report from the parents page to include.

With 'video learning/youtube learning' they take notes while watching which get included in their files.

So how do you record your child's work?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Brookdale House - Writing Through Ancient History TOS Review

We incorporate lots of Charlotte Masons ideas into our homeschool journey so I was quietly pleased when Brookdale House were looking for reviewers for Writing Through Ancient History Level 2 Manuscript.

Based on Charlotte Mason's principles of narration, copy work and dictation - Brookdale House have created a tool that teaches history, grammar, writing skills, spelling and more all whilst absorbing works by great authors from the past. The Writing Through History Series is set up as a four year history cycle covering Ancient History, Medieval History, Early Modern History, and Modern History. The four year cycle includes 2 levels; level 1 aimed at grades 1-3 and level 2 aimed at grades 3-5. You can also decide if you want manuscript or cursive writing styles.

I opted for the digital download (a printed book is also available) as I would be using it with multiple students. This came as a 384 page pdf covering history from 2640BC to 400AD and includes short stories, poetry, primary source documents and cultural tales.

Writing Through History Level 2 is broken down as follows;

Introduction - This section talks you through various ways to use the product and gives examples of how to introduce narration, studied dictation, copy work and grammar. It also outlines scheduling ideas. It has clear explanations on how to implement the methods and gives an overview of how the methods work including how to structure narration questions.

Chapter 1 - is full of short stories that give real insight into people, places and events 

Chapter 2 - contains extracts from primary source documents including Sayings of Confucius, Ancient Writings by Herodotus, The Categories by Aristotle and many more.

Chapter 3
 - contains poetry both from and about ancient cultures including The Boaster by Aesop, Hymn to the Nile, Moderation by Horace and many more

Chapter 4 - contains folk or cultural tales like The Enchanted Waterfall, The Clever Trick, The Golden Nugget Tale, The Penny-Wise Monkey etc.

Appendix - includes the grammar guide, oral narration and alternative texts from the Bible.

In all chapters, the reading selection is followed by a practise model and multiple copy work pages. 

I chose to schedule this to three days a week (part of the beauty of this product is you can schedule to suit you) I would print the selected sections over the weekend so that on Mondays they would read the story, answer narration questions and narrate it to me in their own words which they then had to write on their narration page. Tuesdays focused on the copy work and dictation, while on Wednesdays we looked at grammar and additional copy work. I chose to set this up as group work and it worked really well across the different ages. Sometimes I read it to them and other times they would read it to the group then the reader asked narration questions to the group before they would go off to do their individual writing activities. It would also work perfectly well as an individual lesson where the child would read you the story, then narrate it in their own words before doing the copy work and writing.

I loved how the versatile this is; I can choose the history lesson that ties in with what we are currently studying, choose who does the reading, I can choose how to schedule our week, choose to assign it as group work or individual work and I can choose what to include or not include - basically I can tailor this to fit our needs. I love flexible products : )

The four girls (ages 6-13) all loved the cultural/folk tales the best and it was hard to get them to stop at just one, they were quiet happy to do more writing if it meant they could have more stories.

Level 1 is designed for grades 1-3, and Level 2 is for grades 3-5 and is available for $22.95 (or $30.95 for the printed book).

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Brookdale House products over at the TOS Blog

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