Saturday, 30 April 2016

Our Gosling's Hatched

We loved watching our gosling's hatch last week, this is the first time we've hatched goose eggs 

and the girls were amazed at the size difference between them and the chick (the chick was 6 days old). 

The day they hatched they were bigger than the girls hands.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Robots, Jumping Beans, Tornado's, Crystals and Red Cabbage Indicator

Our home ed group ran a great science day this month.

We got to explore robotics (and make our own drawing bots).

Looked at acids and bases using red cabbage indicators.

Explored how crystals grow.

Made jumping beans (used the card template to mark it out on thick paper then stuck it together and inserted a marble)

Learnt about tornado's.

I love watching them get excited about science :)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Book Basket April

We are still busy working on books from last month (they are BIG chapter books) but I have managed to introduce a couple of new books

Celtic Tales and Legends

Realms of Gold, Myths and Legends from around the world

They're favourite book so far has been the Enid Blyton Animal Lovers story - they even turned to it for advice when they discovered newts in the garden last week.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Talking Fingers - TOS Review

Talking Fingers, Inc. have created a unique program to teach keyboard skills alongside reading skills called the Read, Write & Type program which they asked the TOS crew to look over and review.

Read, Write and Type have developed a one of a kind, multi-sensory program that was originally geared at 6-8 year olds learning English as a second language or for those struggling with learning conditions or disabilities, however its interesting to note that this works equally well for any children who are learning to read and because of how its designed, it adapts well to various learning styles.

There are 40 on-line lessons, each approximately 15 mins long. They start by introducing the two hands (left and Right) and each key which has an individual story to help defeat the evil Vexor the virus villain. 


Lessons start by introducing a letter, its position on a keyboard and which finger types it. Lessons include stories, entertaining games, fun characters and activities, they set tasks like identifying the starting sound or middle sound of a picture, spelling words and teaching thousands of letter combinations. 


The instructions were easy for both Tulip and Rose to follow and if they made a mistake the instructions were repeated so they could try again. They even have a feature where you can press the space bar and it will 'say' the picture if you can't identify what it is. The lessons were easy to use and often resulted in giggles. The lessons use lots of repetition (like typing fat 10 times) but I was happy to note that because the games were such fun the kids didn't tire of it. 

In addition to the compliments given when they perform correctly in the game (their favourite being when Vexor says 'if you don't make just one mistake, I get so mad I start to shake'), they award certificates which are a great confidence booster for the girls.

There is also a teacher’s portal which allows me to track their progress which is great because I was able to leave them to work independently (with just the occasional glance to make sure they were sticking to the correct finger positioning)


I love that this is such an engaging product and really enjoyed seeing the smile Tulip's face when she won the games, it's also a good sign that she is happy to do multiple lessons in the same day (and that the older girls were busy looking over their shoulder because in their words 'what she doing? that looks like fun' and sulking when I told them they were too old for it. If you are looking for a fun way to improve vocabulary, keyboarding or just build your childs confidence with their phonics and reading skills, then what better way than to play your way through learning : )

Read, Write and Type is available for $35 for one student or $55 for two. They also offer a free trial of the first 8 lessons so you can see if it works for your family

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Homeschool Copywork -TOS Review

One of the reasons I first adopted some Charlotte Mason homeschooling techniques was due to her emphasis on copy work to practice handwriting, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, composition and more. Homeschool Copywork offered the crew a chance to review their Lifetime Membership and I happily volunteered.
Homeschool Copywork is a website created by Amy Belvins, a homeschooling mum of six who has successfully used copy work techniques for years. The site has a number of copywork booklets that, as a member, you can download as a PDF and print at your leisure, and what a lot they have for you to download (and the list is ever growing as more are developed). Each booklet is available with different font choices from tracing for the early years, manuscript, cursive and plain lines for the older ones.


There is a big catalogue to choose from - once you have logged in you can select by age (early elementary, upper elementary, Junior High or High School) or browse the list of titles which includes topics such as;

  • Character studies
  • Poems
  • Scripture studies
  • Artist studies
  • Inventors
  • Science
  • Nature studies
  • Holidays
  • Composer studies
  • Famous people
You can also browse their bonus products which include loads of note booking pages and some colouring pages.

Each PDF is different in terms of content and size - some are over 100 pages and others 30. For example we worked on the Claude Monet Artist Study which was 34 pages. It started with an information page telling us about Claude Monet and asked us six questions to think about when looking at his paintings (everything from light, colour & mood to how you would do it differently) it also set a one page essay based on your observations of a Monet painting of your choice. Next came the copywork pages which had a series of six quotes in four different styles (this worked perfectly for me as four children each had an individual style to work on), each handwriting page has a picture at the bottom of the page. The final pages in the pack are six A4 copies of his paintings for you to use in your study.



We have just started working on the John James Audubon Copywork pack which is bigger at 191 pages and has 25 quotes, much longer passages and bird pictures at the bottom ofthe pages.

What impressed me the most about Homeschool Copywork was the depth of content in the PDFs, there was no twaddle just relevant quotes, hymns, poems, famous documents, scriptures, rich literature passages, pictures etc. all available in multiple font options which meant the same PDF was often suitable for multiple ages. It's also incredibly easy to assign a week or month of copywork - just print and go, no more hunting for that perfect quote or frantically typing up something suitable for them to use.

The site could be easier to navigate but in fairness the quality and choice of PDFs was so good that that became irrelevant and I am glad that she chose to focus on producing good quality, relevant and meaningful copywork. I loved that I can have copywork to match our studies so quickly and easily. 

You can purchase a lifetime membership for $45 or a 1 year full membership for $29.95. They even have a free membership where you can try out some of their products to see how they work for you.

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Our week of firsts

We don't normally share our nature journals but this week we had more first's than ever before so the girls were super excited to share.

We saw baby ducklings when we were out

Along with discovering newts in the garden

And their favourite - watching our chick eggs hatch (it took over 16 hours but they spent the better part of the day glued to the side of the incubator and I'd just keep hearing phrases like 'I just saw its beak', 'it's cheeping at me' and 'this is more exciting than anything.

Needless to say there was lots of research and writing up - gotta love nature.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co. - TOS Review

Anyone who knows us, knows we love living math or anything else that brings math to life and makes the girls excited to learn. When we were offered the review of Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co. I had to jump at the chance.

Times Tales is a innovative program designed to help kids creatively memorise times tables using unique stories, funny characters and mnemonic tools to help kids remember.

I received the Digital Download for review (although there is a physical DVD available). The digital download consists of two downloaded movies and two sets of PDFs packed full of worksheets, flash cards and multiplication dice. The movies are fairly large files and did take a while to download but I thought it was worth it :)

The movies use mnemonic tools to help kids memorise, they are both about 30 mins long and are broken down smaller sections consisting of the 'stories', game shows and flash cards. You can listen to it all at once or watch a few stories at a time. During the game show sections they suggest you pause to answer the question (pause, say, play) then resume playing to check your answer, they also have a 'beat the clock' section where you try to answer before the time runs out - if you struggle with these sections they suggest you go back and re watch the stories before moving on to the flash cards.

Once you are comfortable its time to go to work on the printables, the girls started by using the printable worksheets with the characters as part of the sum before moving onto 'normal' worksheets and finishing with the test. The printable worksheets are creatively done and fun - using characters from the stories as part of the sum, working up to just number sums. 


There are also crossword puzzles, flash cards (both character and number) and, my girls favourite, the multiplication dice which they roll to create a sum to solve (even playing with them first thing in the morning - before they have even dressed, hence the cow pj's)

We followed the programs advice to wait week or so between watching part 1 and part 2 while working on the printable worksheets and games inbetween.

We used this for Rose (7) and Sunflower (9) but it was interesting to see that the older two girls were keen to join in the fun and wanteda turn too. It's a very flexible product and works well for all ages (i even remembered some forgotten facts), it would also suit a number of learning styles and worked particully well for my dyslexic child who often struggles with more traditional methods.

I loved that they were having fun learning, and have remembered what they learnt (the stories have really stuck with them). I was impressed that the flash cards dealt with both multiplication and division which really cemented the facts they were learning.

The girls really enjoyed using this and I think it's a great way to get kids excited by math facts and learn their times tables. Did I mention I was impressed by their fact recall after using this??

Times Tales is available for $19.95 for the download version

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog

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