Today's Wisdom

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review of IEW's Fix It Grammar

Fix It! Grammar Review

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has redesigned Fix It! Grammar and published a new set of Fix It! Grammar Books.
Fix It! Grammar Review
We reviewed the first set of books in this series called Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1] (Teacher Manual) and Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1] (Student Book).  Both books come in the spiral bound format that you see above. The teacher manual sells for $19 and inside you are given a link to download a free student book.  If you would rather have a physical student book that option is also available for $15.00 and can be purchased here.  So, you really only need to purchase the Teacher Manual if the e-book style student book will work for your family.  I liked having the e-book format because it made it very simple to print out the the amount of copies I needed for my family.  I also liked having the physical book because of the grammar cards included. Of course, you could print out your own as well with the e-book format.  Those included with the spiral bound book are on a yellow card stock material located at the back.  If you are familiar with any of IEW's themed writing books, the grammar cards are in the same format as the vocabulary cards.  There is also a Glossary included in the back of both the teacher manual and student book.

There are 6 books available in the series:
These books are recommended for grades 3 and up.  

Fix It! Grammar Review

Concepts taught in Fix It! Grammar (Book 1) - The Nose Tree:
  • Identify these parts of speech: nouns, articles, pronouns, verbs, helping verbs, adjectives, -ly adverbs, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, clause starters ( words).
  • Use these punctuation marks correctly: end marks (periods, question marks, and exclamation points), quotation marks, apostrophes to show ownership and in contractions.
  • Choose the correct homophone or usage when given a choice: their/their/they’re, to/two/too, its/it’s, your/you’re.
  • Understand basic rules for capitalization and indentation.

There is a placement test available to help you decide what book to begin with your student.  IEW recommends that you begin with the fist book in the series since the other books build upon the foundations you learn in the first books.  If you feel your student has already mastered those concepts though, the placement test will help guide you in which book to choose.  You can also watch a webinar explaining how to use Fix It! Grammar.

How We Used This In Our Homeschool

Fix It! Grammar books are designed to be used for a full year (33 weeks of lessons) in your homeschool and teach grammar skills through editing skills.  You are given a sentence a day for the student to find the mistakes in and discuss with the teacher.  It's a very simple process but it reinforces grammar concepts on a daily basis through sentences of stories.  The concept will also aid students in editing their own writing using what they are learning.  This is a comprehensive grammar curriculum meaning that it is a complete grammar program and needs no supplement.

I chose Book 1 to begin with because I wanted to use it as a daily review for my 6th and 8th grader.  They know most of the concepts taught in Book 1 already but it has been a great refresher for them.  I have found that Stephen, my 8th grader, can quickly proceed through the sentences while Sarah, my 6th grader, needs to be reminded of the concepts we are covering so it seems to be a perfect fit for our family.  

The lessons are completed in as little as 15 minutes a day and broken down into 4 days a week.  For older students, the lessons can be easily doubled up and completed in one semester.

Both of my children agree that this is their favorite grammar book of all times.  During their end of grade testing last year, I noticed that both of them made very simple mistakes concerning punctuation and grammar. I knew I wanted to add in a daily grammar sheet to keep those simple concepts fresh in their minds, and this is exactly what I was looking for. 

The Teacher Manual is very easy to understand and clear in what you are to do each day. There are many side notes included giving lots of tips to the teacher.  It also gives the teacher the correct answers.  I have the older version of Fix It! Grammar as well.  It was always hard for me to understand how to teach because I found that it was not clear.  So, the redesign has majorly overhauled the program and I think for the better!  

Below you will find how we broke down our days.  We followed exactly what was recommended.

Day 1
  • You begin the week by introducing and teaching the concept for the week and helping your student apply it to the Day 1 passage.  
  • You would also print (e-book) or cut out (physical book) the grammar card/s that go with the concept you are learning for the week.  
  • Do the daily concepts listed below together if necessary.  I normally let Stephen and Sarah do them on their own unless it was a totally new concept for them.
Days 2-4
  • Read the day's passage.
  • Look up the bolded vocabulary word in a dictionary and choose which definition fits the meaning of the word in the sentence.
  • Fix the passage using the abbreviations at the top of the page along with the grammar card/s. These abbreviations are only available in the first three books of the series.
  • Rewrite the sentence correctly in your own notebook. This helps to reinforce the concept as well as gives handwriting practice. When they finish the course, they will have the whole story written out.
That's it!  It is amazing how easy the design and process is but more importantly how great it works!  I am looking forward to seeing how well they do in the grammar end of year testing this year.

Other Places To Find The Institute For Excellence In Writing 
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Love Sticky Notes!

If you have a Rite-Aid near you and you have a sticky note obsession like me, you may want to stop by soon.  There Dollar Days items which included pencil cases, organizers, hair clips, sticky notes and more is on clearance for 75% off right now.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's Another Wrap-Up


Weeks 4-6 here we go...

Family Fun

Sarah and I had a fun time with friends getting our crazy hair on for a Secret Keeper Girl event.  She did mine and I did hers.  

In our homeschool

Still plugging along with our memorization of James.  Here was a great incentive idea to keep review time sweet.  We put a few little candies inside a pill box that I picked up from Dollar Tree.

A glimpse at a white board day.  We are still using Analytical Grammar along with the new Fix It Grammar book (review coming soon).  Love them both!

Sarah and I had a fun time studying all about birds this week and enjoyed a few fun activities.  It gave us a chance to work on some chalk pastels from Nana at Hodgepodge - love! 

I had to get in on the fun too so this is mine.  

My goal is to get more pictures of my high schooler in action but then I forgot my middle schooler.  Oh well, maybe between the weeks, I can get a few pictures of some of them.

Just for fun - proof that he does do something around the house - heehe.

Read Alouds

Finished Almost Home - it was so good!  MFW read alouds always make me cry, lol.

Currently reading Amos Fortune, free man which is already leading up to be another wonderful book.

Weigh In

Still stuck but back to walking consistently at least 3 times per week!  

What I'm reading

A whole lot at one time!

The Best Yes Lysa Terkeurst

James by Beth Moore

Breathe by Priscilla Shirer

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review of My Student Logbook

My Student Logbook Review

My Student Logbook is owned by a homeschooling family. Who better to realize what a homeschooler might need? They have designed a unique and straightforward daily student planner that is now on our all time favorite list!

If you've been reading here long, you know I have a love of planners and organization.  I have set my children up with checklist systems since they were old enough to read and the boys might not admit it openly but my daughter will tell you that she too loves planners and checklists!

There are a variety of choices available in the My Student Logbook collection.  We choose the butterfly version dated with the school year.  I love the options of different covers and dated or undated versions to choose from.  You can see the different covers here.

My Student Logbook Review

Product Details:

The planner is a 8.5″ x 11″ book with black spiral binding. The front has a heavy clear plastic protective sheet and the back has a heavy black plastic cover. It is recommended for 2nd grade and up. Each student log book sells for $15.00 and can be purchased here.  There are also downloadable options available.  The following is a list of what is inside your planner.  

  • Cover of your choice
  • Intro page
  • Setup Instructions
  • Using My Student Logbook to Create High School Transcripts article
  • 6 Checklist pages
  • 53 Weekly pages in one of the following - pre-dated or undated
  • 1 Color paper divider
  • 1 All About Me page
  • 1 Prayers and Goals page
  • 1 Bible Verses Memorized page
  • 3 Books Read pages
  • 3 Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, Activities pages
  • 3 Test Records pages
  • 1 Year Highlights: My Favorite Memories from this Year page

This planner is extremely simple to use. You begin by cutting the checklist section out of your book and taping it to align with your dated daily boxes (undated versions are also available).  Then on the left side, you fill out the tasks (subjects and chores) for your student to complete.  The checklist section flips open allowing you to have a place for notes inside it.  The beauty of the planner for me is your checklist can stay the same every week and all you do is slip your date page under the checklist and everything is contained nice and neatly.  You have several checklist pages available so you do have the option of changing your checklist page if you need to.  Here are video and pictures explaining the steps to take to set up your student planner.

How We Used It

Sarah, who is eleven, pretty much set this planner up by herself.  She mostly uses it to keep up with her school work so she mainly uses it Monday-Friday only.  She did have me include a few of her daily chores so she could check those off too.  

In this picture, you can see where we have lifted the chore flap and underneath is a section for notes.  You could put the Lesson number there if you wanted.  You could also have your child put their grades in the check boxes instead of checks if you wanted.  We don't have a lot of grades yet with her so the check marks worked great for us.

Again, you can see that this is a simple and uncomplicated planner.  We think that is the beauty of it!  Sarah had no problems setting it up herself and it really made her feel even more in charge of her studies and chores.  That made me one happy mama!

You can also find My Student Logbook on Facebook and YouTube.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review of The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
The 7 Minute Life has produced an organizing tool for adults to help them focus their priorities.  I recently had the opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner.  I love planning.  It's the follow through that often will trip me up.   

That's where the beauty of The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner really shines.  The planner was developed after Allyson Lewis, founder, was doing research for her book, The Seven Minute Solution.  While researching, she found an article that said the average person's attention span was only 7 minutes. This study hit her so hard that she developed the 7 Minute Life System to help herself and others accomplish the goals and priorities for their life. 

The planner is designed to help you create a written plan of action to focus on the life you were meant to live.  That life will look different for all of us so the planner takes you through what they coin as the architect and the contractor versions of your life.  As an architect, you will think of what you want to do and write out a plan to accomplish those goals. As the contractor, you simply do the work that you planned. The entire planner is structured around the simple process of Think-Write-Do.  You must take the time to think about what you will do, write down the action steps of how to accomplish those tasks, and then take the action to complete them (do).

Here is a great video explaining more on the 7 Minute Life.

The goal of The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is to provide time management strategies to help you Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify your life at work and at home.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

In the beginning of the planner, you will find several opening exercises also known as the Prioritize Section to help you focus your attention on the plan you want for your life. If you are anything like me, you may have a tendency to skim these opening exercises but you are warned not to do so as they will really help you streamline your focus.  Here are the steps you will take...

1) Prioritize - you will go through a list values and rank your top 10.
2) Discovering Your Purpose - this exercise will walk you through discovering what your true purpose is
3) Your Highest and Best - you will work through the best use of your time right now by deciding what you love to do most, what your strengths are, what your highest value activities are, and how you like to be rewarded best.  
4) 90 Personal Goals, 90 Day Work Goals, Financial Goals, & Life Goals - The planner is set up as a 90 day planner so here you would list out the goals you hope to accomplish in those 90 days.  You also list out 5 action steps for each goal.

The next section is the Organize Section and this is where you will find the following worksheets...

1) Unfinished Tasks and Mental Clutter - list of running to do list
2) Home Repair - list of any items that need to be fixed
3) Life Connections - list of prospective customers, mentors, colleagues, and friends to keep in touch with
4) Annual Projects and Tasks list - just as it states, a place to list your annual projects and tasks you would like to accomplish
5) One 12 month calendar, Four 90 Day calendar worksheets, & Twelve Monthly Calendars at a glance- all of these are undated with boxes for you to date them
6) Meeting Planner - designed to help you make your meetings more productive and efficient
7) The Daily Progress Report Pages - this is a 2 page daily glance for each of the 90 days
8) Monthly Progress Report - here you examine what worked best, what adjustments you need to make, and action steps and notes for the upcoming month

Other pages included in your planner 
1) Note Pages
2) Grocery List
3) Annual Exercise Progress Report

The Daily Progress Report Pages take up most of the planner.  Each day is set up as a 2 page set up.  

Page 1 has the following sections...
  • day and date
  • 5 before 11 (these should be related to the 90 Day goals you are trying to accomplish and should take you 7 minutes to plan)
  • daily contacts
  • life connections
  • unfinished tasks
  • what I spent
  • water
  • place to record sleep, exercise, reflection, and reading times
  • meal tracker
  • The big question and the only part of the Simplify Section - Did I do what I said I would do today? Yes or No 

Page 2 contains...
  • Appointments
  • Thank you notes
  • voice mail
  • blank section

How I Used the Planner

I adapted the planner to work for me as a personal planner since I do not work outside the home.  I did this by using several of the sections a little differently than they were intended for such as I changed the 90 Day Work Goals sheet to our 90 Day Homeschool Goals Sheet and Unfinished Work Tasks became Unfinished Homeschool Goals. 

My favorite part of the planner was the focus on the 5 before 11 section.  Here you were to list 5 tasks that you wanted to have accomplished before 11:00 am.  You take 7 minutes the night before to list these and base them on your 90 day goals.  I am continuing to struggle with consistency in my walking time so that was a big priority for me and always ended up as one of the tasks in my 5 before 11 section. Having it done before 11:00 am allowed me to not keep pushing it down the timeline and then not getting it done at all.

I also changed the Voice Mail section to be my YouTube and Blog Update Section.  I placed a list of tasks here that were strictly for those items.

I did not need as much space as was given for the Daily Contact section so I used half of that section to indicate anything to do with review items such as when Vendor Interest Forms were due, when reviews were due, and when reviews were set to be shipped.  This has helped so much with keeping on top of these tasks!

This planner has lots of videos to walk you through and encourage you to focus on what is important in your life.  It helps you to write out a plan and steps to put that plan in action.  By taking just 7 minutes each day to focus on your goals and plan action steps to accomplish them, you can start checking things off your huge to do list!

You can purchase The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner for $24.95 plus shipping.  This is the 270 page undated version that comes in paperback with spiral binding that I reviewed. It is also available in a downloadable format, and as a part of the 7 Minute Life System.  You can find out more about those here

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Under Drake's Flag

Analytical Grammar Review
Buckle up for a fast and furious ride as you listen in theater style to the power of Biblical principles guiding a young boy through the adventures of his life from boy to man! 

Heirloom Audio Productions presents Under Drake's Flag. Under Drake's Flag is an audio adventure that captivates its audience and brings history alive. Based upon G.A. Henty's Under Drake's Flag, this audio was recorded in London with a marvelous cast of actors.  It contains amazing sound effects that make you feel as if you have stepped aboard the famous ship of Sir Francis Drake, The Golden Hinde, yourself!  Ned Hawkshaw joins Sir Francis Drake in the greatest adventure a boy could ever imagine.  You will follow him as he fights off a shark attack, survives a shipwreck, engages in battles upon land and sea, rescues a damsel in distress, comes face to face with the Spanish Inquisition, battles with himself as to what God's will is for his life, and so much more.

It comes in a 2 CD set with 7 tracks each lasting for 2 hours. It also comes with an adventure study guide.  Included in the center pocket of your CD set is the prayer of Sir Francis Drake in 1577.  It is such a beautiful and inspirational prayer.

Inside the abridged study guide, you will find a link to the complete study guide.  The study guide is divided into 3 sections:

Listening Well - comprehension questions
Thinking Further - discussion and logical questions to stir up your child's thinking and increase his understanding of the story
Defining Words - vocabulary words

At the end of the study guide are three Bible studies on Godly Character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ.  
Under Drake's Flag is available in several different formats. The 2 CD set, which I received for my review, costs $29.95 plus $6.95 for shipping. There are bonuses that come with each purchase as well as other purchasing options including a downloadable mp3 format, and bulk buying options.  You can find out more about those here

How We Used It

We simply listened to the CD and discussed it briefly after using the study guide especially the vocabulary words.  We listened to a track a day much to my children's dismay.  Not a day went by when there wasn't a groan of - "no, don't stop there!"  As we listened with bated breath as to what was going to happen next, we all experienced a full range of emotions from laughter to fear to sadness.  We were truly captivated!  We have never read any of Henty's books before but after listening to this audio adventure, we are all more eager than ever to add them to our list of books to read.  Under Drake's Flag is recommended for ages 6 and up.  We have ages 10, 13, and 42 who can vouch that these are a must for every homeschool shelf.  I've never experienced a auditory experience leading to such a full visual experience before but I could clearly see what was happening in my mind as the story unfolded.  Often, we would lay on the bed with the lights out, our eyes closed, and be teleported to the adventures of the high seas.

I could see many different options in using these CD's in your homeschool.  Listening to them in the car on your way to events or vacation would surely make the time fly.  You could complete your own unit study including reading the original books by G.A. Henty.  The study guide includes a short biography of Sir Francis Drake, a bibliography, and a recommended reading list.

You can find out more about Under Drake's Flag by visiting their website and Facebook page.  

I was thrilled to hear that there is another audio adventure, In Freedom's Cause, in the works as well!  

Friday, September 5, 2014

August Grocery Budget Update

Where do the days? months? years? go?  Oh my, I did get out big Grocery Haul filmed which is with Costco and we picked up more of our hygeine items there this time too so we didn't need too many trips to the local grocery store.  Here is how August wrapped up for us...

August Budget:  $500.00

Costco  -     $374.94
Food Lion - $52.88
Food Lion - $10.76
Food Lion - $19.28
Food Lion - $82.98

Over Budget:  $40.84

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week(s) In Review

Wow, we are already heading into Week 4 and I haven't updated any of our weeks so far so here is a short snippet of Weeks 1-3!

Family Fun

We attended a local peanut festival and had fun filling up on boiled peanuts and games.   

Regular dance activities started back.  This year, Sarah will be our only dancer which is really weird!  Jonathan is working most days and doesn't want to do any other activities and Stephen has chosen to focus on soccer which will be starting up soon.

In our homeschool

This school year, we have a 6th grader, 8th grader, and an almost 11th grader.

Stephen (8th) and Sarah (6th) are completing My Father's World Explorers to 1850 together with me.  One of our main goals this year is to memorize the entire book of James!

 This activity is still incomplete but we are building a wigwam.  

We are still trying to find our fit with a Foreign Language curriculum.  Here, Stephen was trying out a free online trial.  He enjoyed it but we are still unsure.

Other Fun Stuff

 After watching Di from Organize With Style's tutorial on YouTube for this beautiful fall wreath, I decided to give it a try myself.  I love it!  Now, bring on the fall temps!  I can't wait to pick up my pumpkin spice latte and wall scents next!

Stephen is still a cadet with CAP and flew this little baby all the way to Virginia. So proud of him!

We also had a birthday to celebrate!  Sarah turned 11.  Her favorite thing to do is make her own birthday cake and that she did!

Weigh In

I'm still kind of stuck on my current weight loss journey but I have been consistently adding walking back into my routine which has allowed for some beautiful sunsets.

I’m cooking…

If you are a regular reader here, you know I've struggled in this area and keep trying new things to switch up our menus.....BUT I'm still pretty much cooking the exact same things.  They are working and keeping me in budget so for now, I'm sticking with it!  Here is one picture I found that screams a summer meal.

And there you have a quick wrap-up of our 1st three weeks back in school!  My plan is to update weekly.  I love looking back at our updates but I need to set aside a specific time to make that happen!  Happy September and happy back to school!