Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Schoolhouse Teachers - TOS Review

Schoolhouse Teachers is the newest offer from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. This website has gathered some of the best known educators out there as contributors. These amazing contributors have written lesson plans for various topics including;
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • Figures in History
  • Filmmaking
  • Geography
  • High School Math
  • History
  • Home Economics
  • Lapbooking
  • Literature
  • Special Needs
  • Technology
  • Writing 
They publish new lesson plans monthly for all these areas (various grade levels) and the previous lessons are archived, just in case you missed some or want to catch up on a topic.

Schoolhouse Teachers also has a 'daily' section - these are simple lessons that are great for staying on top of things.
  • Daily Grammar lesson
  • Daily Math Lesson
  • Daily Writing Lesson
  • Ditch the Desk
  • This Day in History
  • Every Day Easels- fun art projects with mini art lessons
  • Every Day Explorers- for US & Canada
  • Pre-K Activities
  • Summer Shakespeare 
  • Summer Olympics
Membership also gets you free access to the Schoolhouse Planners - there are three different versions, all as PDF's so you can pick and choose what you want in your planner. When you combine this with access to the schoolhouse library, summer reading lists, teacher lesson archives, monthly ebooks, unit studies, TOS back issues and more, it truly becomes amazing value for money.

Subscription to Schoolhouse Teachers is $1 for the first month and $5.95 a month after. If you purchase a years subscription you get a 10% discount making it only $64.26.

There is so much content here - I can guarantee you will fall in love with this site. The girls absolute loved the Ditch the Desk activities, their favourites of these were the ocean themed activities 

and the story lessons, this included a discussion and acting out the story.
 I really appreciated the daily math and daily grammer sheets - these provided really easy lessons.

But my favourite has to be the Everyday Easels - you spend a week looking at an artist, their pictures and doing loads of hands-on activities. Here the girls explored the use of colour to influence emotion.·
You can see what my crewmates thought over at the TOS Blog

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free subscription to the website so I could provide an open and honest review.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Art in the garden

On a rare sunny day this week we decided to abandon the schedule and escape to the garden. Not wanting to skive for the whole day we opted to explore pastel art (this is very messy so being outside was a real plus).

Lilly worked on a landscape,

Sunflower did a rainbow,
Tulip did a forest and a dragon/lizard,

while Rose did scribbles/flowers.

Please ignore the long grass - you can either blame the massive amounts of rain or a really  lazy tired mum : )

Monday, 23 July 2012

Knowledge Quest TimeMaps - TOS Reveiw

TimeMaps are an interactive, flash based, historical map set from Knowledge Quest. With just a click you can stroll through time to see how civilisations grow, countries fall and diseases spread.

TimeMaps is available in 7 individual units covering:

Ancient China
Rise of Rome
Fall of Rome
Black Death
Rise of Islam
European Exploration
Atlantic Slave Trade.

Each unit includes the TimeMaps as well as a set of coordinating Teacher notes, printable maps and activities/assignments.
Each TimeMap identifies the time period in the top right corner and includes numerous encyclopedic entries (identified by the information icon - i) and quizzes to test the retention of the information they have just read.

TimeMaps can be purchased as individual units for $9.95, as a complete downloadable 7 map set for $44.95 or as a CD for $49.95.

TimeMaps are suitable for most ages but readers but would probably find them easiest to use. 

What can I say but WOW!
We loved being able to see the movement on historical maps. Visually watching the dynamic spread of the Black Death was amazing, informative and easy to follow.  TimeMaps really bought our history lessons to life. The girls have really enjoyed using these and have even begged to study them : )

I am very impressed by how informative the information entries were and with how much the children retained. I would defiantly recommend these to anyone who wants to make history more enjoyable.

You can see what my crew mates thought of TimeMaps and Map Trek over at the TOS Blog

Disclaimer: I was provided with a set of maps in order to provide a open and honest review of the product.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Number games

Tulip has been working on her tens this week - she started with the tens board.
Once she had mastered this she moved on to identifying the tens and units in a number using the golden beads and number cards.
She rounded off the week by matching some coin cards to their correct values.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Keyboarding for Christian Schools - TOS Reveiw

I was given the chance to try a new typing programme which I jumped at - Sunflower particularly has trouble with finding things on a keyboard and Rose loves to try but is a two finger typist : )
Keyboarding for the Christian School starts with an introduction to the QWERTY keyboard and offers a number of helpful tips on touch typing techniques and posture, before moving onto the lessons. Each lesson introduces 2 new keys and is fairly brief, taking about 15 mins to complete. The lessons are self-explanatory and don't require much in the way of supervision so this is an easy programme to implement. By lesson 6 they are typing their first sets of words and the sentences that are introduced are Biblical. Toward the end of the lessons they teach centering, lists and have timed exercises (involving three Psalms).

Although this uses a fairly traditional approach to typing, the real gems are the ease of implementation and the scriptural verses they type multiple times - this is a fantastic opportunity to introduce scripture memorisation as well as encouraging virtuous behaviour.

I printed out the ebook and placed it to right of the screen as they recommended because most typing is from written notes. However this is a really versatile programme and you can use it as a double screen (where the booklet is open on screen next to word) if you wish to practise typing from another application.
The girls have seemed to enjoy this as they've whizzed through this programme, often completing multiple lessons a day, and it's given them the confidence to start writing some of their stories on the computer (I even caught them in there typing away on a on Saturday).
The Elementary Version of Keyboarding for the Christian School is aimed at K-5th grade and is available for $12.95 as an ebook, you can also purchase as a traditional book for $45. They have a programme available for 6th grade and above for $15.95. There is the option to purchase both ebooks together for $22 and right now they are offering a 20% discount code (SUMMER2012) which expires 29th August 2012.

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

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of the ebook in order to provide a full and honest review.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Professor B Maths - TOS reveiw

Professor B Maths is no ordinary web based drill programme - its a methodology (which appears to be working here). I must admit I was a little shocked when I first logged onto Professor B as there was no sound - although this is intentional on their part as they designed the programme to work with a Master Teacher and student involved together rather than for a child to be left to their own devices with it.

Don't panic at the words 'master teacher' as the programme is scripted in such a way that you truly do become a master teacher.

The whole concept behind Professor B is to turn math into a sequential story, it really engages the student's ability to assimilate the information progressively and naturally.

Professor Everard Barrett "Math should not be presented as fragmented facts to memorise but in a natural story-like sequence"

Professor B comes in various levels and as its not grade based they provide placement tests to help see which would be the best level for your student. Each level also has a printable workbook for further practise. The suggested age ranges are:

Level I Pre-k - 2nd grade
Introduction to Addition/Subtraction Facts - Count to One Hundred - Lower Addition and Subtraction - Higher Addition and Subtraction - Place Value - Fractional Parts and Order - Time - Money

Level II 3rd grade - 5th grade
Multiplication/Division Facts and Problem Solving - Introduction to Fractions - Fractional Equivalence - Addition and Subtraction Fractions.
Level III 6th - 8th grades
Multiplication/Division of Fractions - Decimals - Percentages

You can purchase Professor B for $20 a month for any one level (if like me you need acceess to multiple levels at the same time you can purchase a second level for an additional $15 and a third for $10) They also have an option for $100 for 3 years access to each level but you have to contact their customer support team for the details on 678-765-6655. They do have a free 30 day trial so you can see for yourself how the programme works.

We have had great success with this programme and the girls have really absorbed the information. At first it did seem like some of the lessons were too easy so we cheated and jumped on a lesson (or two) - this was a bad idea as the girls missed key concepts and had to back track which proved to me that their methodology really works because once we back tracked everything became much clearer and the girls understanding came on in leaps and bounds : )

I loved hearing the children's comments:
Rose (9) for level 3 - "it taught me loads but it could be more fun"
Sunflower (7) for level 2 - "that makes so much sense now"
and Tulip's (5) for level 1 - "can I play with the bee yet"
The hardest aspect of the programme was finding the time to fit one to one lessons in with each child - lessons ranged from 20-45 mins plus worksheet time so it did take up a large chunk of our day (and got me to think of some creative ways to keep the others occupied and away from the computer and me) they do suggest on the website that older siblings can help younger siblings with the lessons - so I'll let you know how that one goes. Overall if you can make the time to do this properly I think its fair to say you will be amazed at the results.

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

Disclaimer: I was provided with free access to the Professor B website for one year so I could provide an open and honest review of the product.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Olympics Activity Day

We spent a great day learning all about the Olympics. There were various activities to choose from - designing your own Olympic poster, indoor events included discus (paper plates), javelin (ear buds) and shot putt (cotton balls).

Learning about the ancient Greeks and making laurel wreaths.
Making flags,
and learning about the mascots.
A nutrition table and a flag pin map of all the participating countries.
The afternoon was spent enjoying a mini sports day with egg and spoon, sack races and three legged races.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sound week 2 - Hearing

We worked this week on how our ears hear.
We started with a few simple activities - we first blindfolded a child and asked them to identify the location a sound was coming from, then blocked on ear and repeated and finished with a discussion on why two ears are better than one.

We discussed the structure of the ear, starting with the pinna (outer ear made from cartilage) - we talked about how they funnel sounds down into our inner ear and how bigger ears are better for catching sound. We played a pre-recorded sound and asked them to rate the volume out of 10, then repeated the process using a funnel (keeping the volume and distance from the ear the same).

Finally they made a working model of the inner ear

and labelled their diagrams.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sound - week 1 - What is Sound?

We started our sound unit last week by discussing what sound is - can it be seen, observed, touched etc. After they realised that sound is caused by vibrations we took it abit further with a number of activities.

We dropped pebbles into water to see what vibrations look like,
looked at rice/beans bouncing when a drum is hit,
observed sound using torchlight (reflected torchlight off of cling film wrapped around the end of a tube - when you speak into the tube the vibrations are visible in the reflected light)

used string wrapped around our fingers to hear sounds when our ears were blocked,
(the vibrations from the metal rod banging against the table travel up the string, along your fingers and into your ear so you can 'hear' it)
watched the sound vibrations put out a candle flame (cut the bottom off a bottle, cover in a cut balloon and flick the balloon to make a sound - the vibrations blow out the candle)
and demonstrated how the air molecules collide with a coathanger and some beads (think executive desk toy and you're close).
We finished by watching a great video on Brainpop all about sound.

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