Today's Wisdom

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review of UberSmart Math Facts

UberSmart Math Facts Review
Recently we were given the chance to review a fun software program from UberSmart Software called UberSmart Math Facts.  I know all 3 of my children could use the repetition of daily math facts and that's just what you get with this program.  

This program is a Windows based software program that runs with Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.  Currently, it is not available for Mac users.  You can purchase a Family License here for $24.95. With this license, you can run Math Facts on all the computers in your home. You also get free upgrades and support.  There is a professional version available as well.  We received downloadable software for review.  Once you've purchased it, it is yours to keep for as long as you want it!  It can also be used with 8 or more students making it very economical.

It is geared towards grades K-6 but all ages needing more math fact mastery can gain from this program.

There are many different options available with this program. For younger children, there is a learn feature that covers addition and subtraction facts using dot cards which have a similar look to dominoes.  

UberSmart Math Facts Review
The next level for learning has an interface that looks exactly like flash cards.  These include flashcards for addition and subtraction (goes up through the 9's for both).  It also covers multiplication and division (goes up through the 20's for both).  The program is set by default for multiplication and division up to 12x12 but you can change it as far up as 20x20. 
UberSmart Math Facts Review

We found the overall program very user friendly and my children really enjoyed this part of their school day.  I have one son who is extremely competitive so he wanted to keep going to try to beat his own time.  We spent most of our time in the compete section.  The teacher has the ability to change the seconds per problem, what facts they wish their student to work on, whether or not they want them to retake or skip facts they have already mastered, and lots more.

I had each of my children complete the assessment section which gave a great overview of what they already knew and even gave instructions if they needed to practice more in keyboard entry.  Under the practice tab, children can practice their keyboard skills (10 key).

Here is a small sample of Sarah's assessment.  As you can see, it was recommended that she practice her keyboard skills before beginning to test her math fact skills.

Since all of my children know there math facts pretty well, we mainly used this as a reinforcement to help them become quicker at recalling them.  Here is the schedule we set up and plan to continue to use it daily through out the rest of the school year.  Each set is practiced for at least 10 minutes.

Monday & Tuesday                    Wednesday & Thursday
addition & subtraction                 multiplication & division

The program is basic and sticks straight to learning the facts but I think that's one of the characteristics that makes it work so great.

If you are looking for a program that will aid your children in learning and becoming faster at math facts, this is a great program.  It frees you up to work with other students on more in depth learning as well.  
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Curriculum Choices 2014-2015 - high school basic diploma

After struggling to finish work, Jonathan, who will be beginning his 11th grade year in October has decided that college is not in his future.  He wants to finish high school and be done.  He may want to attend a community college but he doesn't even want to do dual enrollment right now.  He just wants to be done.  I can understand his choices but I need to make sure he knows that work WILL be in his future.  Actually, it's already in his present as he's pulling a pretty full load working at a local restaurant about 35 hours a week since the end of April.  

My goal has always been for my children to find something that they enjoy doing.  He will still be on the look out for that but for now, he is content where he is and so am I.  I'm seeing some great maturity and ownership of his own life which in the end is an answer to prayer.

One big headache for him was Algebra 1.  I love Algebra so it's hard for me to not understand the love of Algebra! After starting Algebra 1 over three times with several different curriculums, we have decided to drop it completely.  He doesn't need it to graduate and he just doesn't get it!  

That's the beauty of homeschooling, we can choose what we feel is best for our child.

So, after all that - here is the list of 11th grade curriculum choices for a basic diploma.

SOS Consumer Math

Biology:  A Search for Order in Complexity

History, English, Bible
Exploring America with the Literature Package Exploring America Curriculum Package

Exploring America Literature Package

This will add 5 credits to his already 12 earned so adding 5 more for 12th grade, he will then be able to finish high school with 22 credits.

We may also add in a few extra credits for review items when they come up as well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testatment

Wizzy Gizmo Review
Are you looking for a way to hide God's Word in your child's heart?  Then, I have a wonderful resource to tell you about.  We recently reviewed Wizzy Gizmo's Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament.  
Wizzy Gizmo Review
Included in the Fast Track Bible Pack are 27 colorful 5x9 cards with all the information right at your fingertips for studying each book of the New Testament from the book of Matthew to the book of Revelation.  

The Front Side of the Card
- Each card is numbered by where it falls in the New Testament.  For instance, card number 20 is the book of James - book 20 of the New Testament.
- tells how many chapters are in the book
- tells the author of the book when known along with a fact about the author
- gives a timeline of the date it was written
- contains a summary of the book including when it was written, who wrote it, why it was written, and who it was written to
- key verse of the book
- key theme of the book
Back Side of the Card
- key theme is repeated on the back
- short statement about the key theme
- outline
- key chapters
- key passages
- key doctrines
- key people

These cards are for all ages - from the little bitty (well you may not want your toddler to eat them but you could certainly share the information with them!) to adults.  

You can find suggested uses by age here.

How we used the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament Cards

We are currently using these cards as a family during our family devotion time as well as during our school lessons.  In school, we are tackling the hard task of memorizing the entire book of James so we are using the James card to aid in our memorization.  Reading the outline and key passages have helped to aid in our memorization task by connecting what we are memorizing with the who, how, when, and where.  During our family devotion time, we are working on memorizing the dates written, number of chapters, author, and key theme by reviewing one card per week with a cumulative review of each card already taught in previous weeks.  Here's our simple schedule allowing great flexibility for well - when life happens!

- Introduce new card by reading the front including all information.  This takes all of 3-5 minutes at the most.  The interesting facts given in the book summaries contain fun facts for the kids and I have learned new information as well!

- Review dates written, number of chapters, author, and key theme of current card and any cards learned previously
- Read the outline and key chapters

- Review dates written, number of chapters, author, and key theme of current card
- read key passages

- Review dates written, number of chapters, author, and key theme of current card and any cards learned previously
- read key doctrines

- Review dates written, number of chapters, author, and key theme of current card and any cards learned previously
- read key people

I have not done so yet but I am also thinking of adding memorization of the book outlines for my high school student as part of his Bible credit this year.  I think learning the outline of each book of the New Testament will be a great way to hide it's contents in his heart!

I also think these would be great to share with children at church in Sunday School and Wednesday night studies as well!

These and other Bible aids by Wizzy Gizmo can be found here.  The Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament sells for $14.99 plus shipping and handling.  These Bible fact cards can be punched and held together on a ring.  I would suggest punching at the left bottom corner if you did that because every inch is filled with information on these cards.  You could also put the cards in small page protectors and a binder for easy viewing, access, and storage as well.  The cards are not laminated but made out of a strong durable card stock material. 

Our family loves these cards and thinks they are a great resource for any household trying to teach the Bible.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Curriculum Choices for 2014-2015

This year, we have students in 6th, 8th, and 11th.  I will share our choices for my high schooler in a different post.

Let's start with the Middle Schoolers - Stephen, age 13 and Sarah, age 11 (almost) and the subjects they will be using together.

Bible, History, Science, Art, Music, and Read Alouds

Sarah will use this science but Stephen will be using something different (see below).  Our main curriculum is My Father's World and this year we will be using Exploration To 1850.  Yay, American History is my favorite!

MFW uses God and the History of Art and that usually is the first thing we drop so I'm still looking for something simple. We may just search YouTube videos and spend time drawing from there.  I also have the Classical Conversations Prescripts Books that we can use for some Art as well. Seriously thinking about the Draw and Write Through History series.

Science For Stephen
Apologia General Science using MFW Lesson Plans


Also, we will be using Analytical Grammar (AG) and Beyond The Book Report (BBR) together as well.  

We really liked AG last year and found that BBR was the perfect fit to complement it when we received it for a review.  We be working in Season 2 for both books.  Sarah may need to go back for review of Season 1 but we will see.  I plan to add in daily grammar sheets for more punctuation and capitalization review as well.


For the 1st semester, we will be finishing up books that we didn't finish last year.

Sarah - Little House Series
Stephen - Narnia Series

Not sure what they want to read after but we will use BBR with whatever they choose. 


Sarah - Teaching Textbooks Math 6

Stephen - Teaching Textbooks PreAlgebra

Both - IEW Student Intensive B - We will use this the 2nd part of the year.  We are breaking up the lessons over several years.

I think that's all!  We are easing back into routine as of yesterday.  Today, we had sickness hit already but we still accomplished a little.  :)  

Happy Back To Homeschool!

Monday, August 11, 2014

1st Day Back To School - 2014/2015

We continued with our fun tradition of coffee, pajamas, and fun notes for our first day of school.  This time we added in some yummy doughnuts to top off the fun!  You're never too old for fun!

Here's to 11th, 8th, and 6th grade!!

I would say it was a very smooth first day!

Hoping to get a post up soon with curriculum choices.  I'm a little backwards this year in posting.  We are starting back a early to allow for a fun vacation in September.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review - Old Western Culture: The Greeks

Roman Roads Media Review
Roman Roads Media has produced a homeschool curriculum that I was extremely excited about trying!  Old Western Culture: The Greeks is a full year course that explores history, theology, philosophy, poetry, and art from the perspective of the greatest works of influential literature of the Western world. The term "Old Western Culture" is a term coined by C.S. Lewis to describe the fabric of ideas that shaped Western Civilization.  

The whole 4 year course is still being completed and when finished will be:

Year 1: The Greeks
Greeks: Epics
Greeks: Drama & Lyric
Greeks: Histories
Greeks: Philosophers

Year 2: The Romans
Romans: The Aeneid
Romans: Historians
Romans: Christianity
Romans: Nicea

Year 3: Christendom
Coming 2015

Year 4: Early Moderns
Coming 2016

The course is available in DVD and online streaming formats.  I was sent Year 1: The Greeks, which is a full year course.  I received the self paced online streaming format.  I was also sent a DVD of Unit 1: The Epics so that I could try out both formats.

DVD Course - $224 + $7 shipping fee (USA)
Self Paced Online Streaming Course - $199 (on sale as of this writing)

Both the DVD and Online Streaming courses include Digital copies of the Student Workbooks but you can purchase a physical copy for $48 (includes 4 workbooks - 1 for each unit). 

Both formats and extras can be purchased at the Roman Roads Media website.

The full one year Classical Christian Homeschool course is broken down into 4 units with each unit lasting 9 weeks.  

Roman Roads Media Review

The 4 Units are:
The Epics - covers The Iliad and The Odyssey
Drama and Lyric - covers a collection of Greek plays and poetry
The Histories - covers the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon
The Philosophers - covers selected works of Plato and Aristotle

Each Unit Includes:
  • 12 Lessons with Video Lectures for each Lesson (48 for the full year)
  • PDF Student Workbook with comprehension questions
  • PDF Answer Keys
  • 9 week suggested schedule
  • All required texts in etext form (PDF and Kindle)
  • Guide to the Art booklet (online streaming gives you a PDF version and DVD version includes a booklet for you in each DVD)
  • 2 exams with teacher guide and answer key for each unit

You can find an outline of the 12 Lessons in each Unit here. Each Lesson is approximately 30 minutes each.

Prerequisites required from the website...

Old Western Culture is intended for mature and discerning students. We recommend this course for ages 14 and up. The course will deal with mature themes such as paganism, sexual immorality, battle scenes (mostly in actual reading), and classical paintings. Old Western Culture is meant to equip your child with a Biblical lens from which to process these themes. We assume your child has a working knowledge of the Bible and basic Christian doctrine. Advanced readers will have an advantage since the reading load is relatively heavy. 

My Thoughts

I chose to go through this curriculum myself and test drive it before introducing it to my children.  

We follow what I call an eclectic classical homeschool style. I never experienced reading any of the Great Books in school so I wanted to offer that advantage to my children.  I must admit though, they intimidate me greatly!  I have a hard time understanding them and therefore teaching them is even more intimidating.  My children know my homeschool philosophy is that we NEVER stop learning so just because I don't know something doesn't mean we cannot learn about it.  That is often when we begin our journey of learning together!  I was hoping that this curriculum would be just the aid I was looking for.  I was looking for something to help me teach my children while reading some of the Great Books.  

The student questions in the online streaming format were multiple choice questions while the ones included in the PDF with the DVD I received were writing the answer out.  I answered the multiple choice questions in the online streaming format and had difficulty so I didn't even try the ones on the DVD PDF!  

I found that the suggested 9 week schedule included was not too heavy of a course load considering you are working towards 2 full year credits for high school.  For comprehension reasons however, I would have to take the course at a slower pace than suggested which is truly the beauty of homeschooling.
While this curriculum did contain what I was looking for - someone to teach my children and myself more about the influential works of art from a Biblical worldview, it was often times above my head.  Wes Callihan is a master story teller with so much knowledge and there is no doubt that he has researched what he is teaching thoroughly.  I had to watch several of the lectures over even to answer some of the questions myself.  This curriculum is recommended for ages 14 and up.  I felt like it could pass as a college course!  With that being said, I can tell you that I did learn so much from this curriculum.  I would need to slow down the schedule for myself so I am almost certain I would have to do the same for my children.  I do not think my 8th grader or 11th grader would be ready for this curriculum as of yet.  Neither are advanced readers. 

Having said that, I do think this would be a great curriculum to go through together as a family.  Mr. Callihan speaks so eloquently on these topics and always keeps a Christ-centered approach. We can learn much from past mistakes and see clearly where God was left out - much chaos reigned.  Teaching that to the next generation is not an option - it's a must for Christians.  To approach such pagan instruments is often difficult so this is a valuable resource for those intimidated by the subjects like I am.  

Here is a book list of the works covered (again these are included in digital etext versions) but you also can purchase your physical copy as well.  You can find the links to these books here.

- The Iliad
- The Odyssey

- Aeschylus (The Oresteia)
- Sophocles (Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus)
- Aristophanes (The Frogs and The Clouds)
- Eurpipides (The Medea and The Trojan Women) included in Roman Roads Reader
- Sappho (various poems) included in Roman Roads Reader
- Pindar (collection of Odes) included in Roman Roads Reader
- Theocritus (Idyls I, VI, VII, and XI) included in Roman Roads Reader
- Hesiod (Works and Days) included in Roman Roads Reader
- Quintus of Smyrna (The Fall of Troy) included in Roman Roads Reader
- Apollonius of Rhodes (The Argonautica) included in Roman Roads Reader

- The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories
- The Landmark Thucydides
- Xenophon: The Persian Expedition

- Plato: Six Greek Dialogues
- The Basic Works of Aristotle 

You can also find several samples here so you can decide for yourself if this curriculum is right for you.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - 08/04/14

We had a few meals that didn't make it on the table last week so you will be seeing them again this week!

Chili Mac, salads
Tilapia, fries, slaw
All in One Chicken Dish
Mexican Pizza
Chicken salad sandwiches, cut veggies and chips
Cowboy Casserole