Today's Wisdom

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Weekly Planning Time Keeps Me Sane - Day 4 Tip

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

This week members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be sharing 5 Days of Tips For Homeschool Parents.  

We are finishing up our 8th year of homeschooling and have a 7th grader, 9th grader and a graduating Senior this year! 

Today's Tip

Decide on a day to complete your weekly planning and do it! I choose Saturday but let's face it sometimes it's Sunday or Monday before I actually get it done.  When I do take the time to get it done the weekend before, I already feel one step ahead of the game come Monday morning.  

Depending on your curriculum and needs, your planning time may look different but the point is to get it done!

Here is an older video of my weekly planning time.  The only thing I changed is making the kids fill out their own checklists for the week.  I think it helps them to fill accountable to what will be accomplished during the week.

Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 tips in case you missed them.  Here is an older post on my brain that may give you some ideas too.

Bonus Tip - FriXion pens rock for homeschool planning!!
(affiliate link)

Here are just a few of the homeschools participating this week! I'll share a new set each day. Take a break and enjoy!!

Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joesette @ Learning Curve

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review of Logic of English

Logic of English Review

Today's review has been such an eye opening experience for both my daughter and myself!  I have gained so much knowledge about the English language and how it works from using Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English.  

Essentials 2nd Edition is a complete curriculum teaching phonics, spelling, basic reading skills, grammar, basic composition, punctuation rules, and vocabulary. 

When the box came, it was huge and heavy!  When I opened it, I understood why. 

Essentials 2nd Edition currently sells for $198 and comes with many components including:
The complete Essentials curriculum is broken down into two semesters - Volume 1 and Volume 2.  Volume 1 includes Lessons 1-15 and Volume 2 includes Lessons 16-30. Volume 2 is not currently available but scheduled for release in January 2017.
Logic of English Review
I spent some time familiarizing myself with the components of the curriculum and watching many videos available from Logic of English's YouTube Channel which is a great resource when you are getting started! 

Each volume includes 3 levels of instruction labeled A, B, and C.  The Teacher's Guide is a massive hard bound book full of details for each level. The Student Workbook and Spelling Journal also contain everything you need for all three levels but are consumable and intended for one student.  If you are working with more than one student, you will need an additional Student Workbook and Spelling Journal but only one Teacher's Guide is needed.  Also, a younger student who completes Level A could use the same curriculum to complete the other 2 higher levels. Each student also needs a set of Phonogram Game Tiles and two contrasting Phonogram Game Cards for every four students.

We began with the placement test which sent us to begin with Lesson 1, Level B.  There are some critical PreLessons that you may need to start with but the placement test will help you to know where to begin.

Each lesson is broken down into daily assignments:

Day 1: You will introduce the new phonograms, spelling rules, and explore sounds.
Day 2: You will introduce the new spelling list by level, students place any new words in their spelling journals.  Review games for the phonograms are often added on this day too.  The Spelling Analysis page which contains the new spelling list is phenomenal. It breaks each word up by syllable, gives sample sentences using the word, different parts of speech applicable to the word, how to spell the word breaking each part up using phonograms already learned, and gives the relative spelling rule.  Words are selected based on what is being taught in the lesson rather than just a random list of spelling words.
Day 3: You will use the words in context - review concepts, complete a spelling game, learn new grammar concepts and dictation.  Dictation includes new words as well as words taught from previous lessons.
Day 4: Learn new vocabulary, another dictation, composition, and the optional Essentials Reader.
Day 5: This day includes an assessment where you will check your student's understanding. 

You can certainly slow the program down if needed to fit your child's needs but we found the suggested schedule to be just right for us.  

The Teacher's Guide is very colorful and gives lots of tips and instructions for the teacher.  Each lesson contains an overview of what will be taught during the lesson and which Phonogram Flash CardsSpelling Rule Flash CardsGrammar Flash Cards, and vocabulary will be taught.  

Each day in the teacher manual is clearly marked to keep you on track and gives you directions on what to say to your child to teach the new concepts including what to write on the white board, sample words, etc. You are also given the supplies you will need to collect for the day and many teacher tips are found all throughout the lessons. Lessons labeled "All" are taught to all levels.  Fun games are completed throughout the lessons as well as the workbook style pages included. 
Finding a way to store everything so I could have it at arm's length was difficult but I finally came up with a solution that is working for now.  I placed all the components in a plastic box including the student spelling journal and workbook.  The Teachers guide is placed just to the right.  I placed the phonogram cards, spelling rules, and grammar rules cards learned so far in the front with the ones still to be learned in the back to pull from.  Each card is has it's own color ring that also matches the teacher's guide so I simply stacked them rotating each stack - one vertical, one horizontal per category.  It's hard to tell here but that's how they are!  I've also thought of adding labels to stick out for each category.

Here we are playing one of the games.  The loser ends up with the dragon card - guess who lost?
Here Sarah is practicing writing her spelling words with her eyes closed.  She loved this simple technique and we were both impressed with how well we did!

Here is Sarah completing one of the Student Workbook pages.  She is marking the parts of speech for each word.

We also received the optional Optional Essentials Reader Set that can be purchased separately to accompany this curriculum. We received the PDF download of this set which includes The Student Reader, The Teacher Guide, and The Student Activity Book. The wonderful part about the reader is it reviews words and concepts taught in the Essentials lessons. The Optional Essentials Reader can be purchased alone or you can add on the teacher's guide and student activity book designed to enhance the student further by adding in more comprehension, copywork, dictation, note taking skills, key word outlines, tips and strategies for vocabulary, and even extra curricular activities such as research papers on the subjects read about. The goal is to expose the student with the concepts and words learned as much as possible for better comprehension and fluency.

Sarah, age 12 has asked to continue with this program and I can see light bulbs going off for her as a this new approach to letters having sounds and meanings helps her understand the why behind some of the words we use in the English language.  It's not only her though, I have found myself having my own aha moments too!

This is a massive program with loads of detailed information at your fingertips for yourself and your student.  There is so much to learn and to teach with this program that it's hard to put it all in writing for this review! You will definitely want to visit their websiteFacebookYouTube, and Pinterest to find out more about this wonderful program!  You can also find more sample pages here.  If you have any questions, just let me know and I'll try to answer them or find the answers for you.
Logic of English Review

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Read Alouds Are Important For All Ages - Tip Day 3

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

This week members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be sharing 5 Days of Tips For Homeschool Parents.  There were some great tips on Monday and Tuesday!

We are finishing up our 8th year of homeschooling and have a 7th grader, 9th grader and a graduating Senior this year! 

Today's Tip

Begin read alouds with your children from the beginning and don't stop until they've graduated.  I still read aloud to all my children.  The Senior could really give or take our reading aloud time but I think it's an important part of our day.  We also find ourselves talking about the books we've read in general conversations which I love.  

Some of our favorite read aloud books are from YWAM Publishing.  We love reading about missionaries, presidents, and historical figures that we're learning about. I also love that most of them offer curriculum study guides for further learning as well.  I really love that these books reinforce what we're already learning in our daily studies so I'm sneaking in a little review too!

The time we have found that works best for our read aloud time is right after lunch.  We miss some days but for the most part, you can find bodies all over the living room floor, chairs, and couches listening to mom read directly after lunch.  Even hubby gets to hear a little before having to head off to work.

In case you missed them, click the days to read my practical tips for Day 1 and Day 2.

Here are just a few of the homeschools participating this week! I'll share a new set each day. Take a break and enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

If It Ain't Broke...Day 2 of Tips

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents
This week members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be sharing 5 Days of Tips For Homeschool Parents.  There were some great tips yesterday!

We are finishing up our 8th year of homeschooling and have a 7th grader, 9th grader and a graduating Senior this year! 

Today's Tip

Today's tip is if it ain't broke, don't fix it!  You know, your child is doing beautifully using Curriculum A and all of a sudden you start reading and you see how this same Curriculum A is not working for others so you doubt.  Is he getting what he needs?  Is there more he should be learning? 

Then you see how curriculum B is working so well for so many so again you wonder.  Maybe this one will help him get higher test scores?  Maybe this has more to offer?

So, you change from Curriculum A to Curriculum B and guess what?  It does not work for your child!  You've spent another small fortune and why?  

Your child was not screaming or crying when he was told to do Curriculum A so please, please take my advice on this one and hold on to that old saying of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"  I know from experience!
Here are just a few of the homeschools participating this week!  I'll share a new set each day.  Take a break and enjoy!!

Tiffany @ The Crafty Home

Monday, March 28, 2016

5 Days of Tips For Homeschool Parents - Day 1

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

This week members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be sharing 5 Days of Tips For Homeschool Parents.  I can't wait to read them all myself!  

We are finishing up our 8th year of homeschooling and have a 7th grader, 9th grader and a graduating Senior this year! 

Today's Tip

Today's tip is to take scheduled breaks.  It sounds like such a simple tip but I cannot tell you enough how important these are.  We have had times when we would want to finish so we would plow through and eventually we would always hit a brick wall and be forced to take a break anyway because nothing was getting done.  Ironically, I ignored this advice for our last term this school year and we are all feeling quite weary at the moment so it's probably why it stands out for me as my favorite and most important tip.  Skipping one break will be okay usually but don't make a habit of it because it usually will backfire.

I've also found for me that it isn't enough just to schedule breaks for the children, I also need them for me!  I need teacher workdays.  I need days when I can file, grade, plan, catch up on making copies for the upcoming semester, etc.  
Scheduled teacher workdays keep our homeschool flowing more consistently and keep me from that nagging feeling of always being behind!   

Attitudes change and efficiency rises just by taking breaks!  If you find that your children are rebelling or can't seem to answer a question that they've answered fluently before - take a break!  If you find yourself snapping that they should know the answer to that question - take a break!  Even better skip both of those and go ahead and schedule in your break times today!

We typically work for 6 weeks and then take a week off.  If a holiday week is coming soon we may go for 7 weeks or 5 and then break but I use a yearly calendar to schedule in our breaks at the beginning of the school year.  

Here are a few more quick tips that may seem obvious and simple but have helped me tremendously each year!
Here are just a few of the homeschools participating this week!  I'll share a new set each day.  Take a break and enjoy!!

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart 
Melanie @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom's Plans

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review of War Room Review

If you are an avid reader of our reviews, today's will come as no surprise to you. We love! I love that they offer movies that our entire family can watch together as well as educational DVDs and TV Series. This time we were sent War Room to review. Review

War Room is rated PG and even the commercials before are family friendly.  It is a powerful movie on the effectiveness of having a battle plan for prayer.  In this 2 hour film, you will follow the Jordan family and their many struggles of daily life including money, marriage problems, time management, and deceit just to name a few. Wife, Elizabeth, played by actress Priscilla Shirer is a real estate agent who feels like her life is falling apart.  Her world is completely turned right side up when she meets a new client, spunky firecracker Ms. Clara Williams.  Ms. Clara makes it her mission to become Elizabeth's personal mentor introducing her to her favorite room in her house which she call hers war room.  Her war room is her prayer closet where she has placed her prayer requests all over the walls.  She teaches her to strategically pray for herself and her family and what unfolds in the rest of the story you do not want to miss!  

Our family has declared War Room our all time favorite movie!  It is a great inspiration for planning a strategic battle plan of war to fight against the real enemy of this world which is not illness, circumstances, husbands, wives, or children but Satan! 

My daughter Sarah's favorite part was when Elizabeth first tries this new prayer battle plan on her own and her daughter finds her in her closet eating chips instead of praying.  It takes her a while before she catches on and finds her way but as she continues to faithfully open her Bible and seek God for help she eventually finds the right plan for her life and you get to see how her prayers are answered.

My son Stephen's favorite part was Ms. Clara's courage and bravery in Jesus' name during an attempted robbery.

I loved that the movie points you back to the Bible and shows that when you are fervent in your prayers, God will fight your battles for you.  They may not always work out like you want but He will work them all out for your good.  This film will having you laughing out loud, fighting back tears, and cheering on family members as they go forth holding on to God's promises.  Two of my favorite quotes from the movie were from Ms. Clara when she said, "You've got to have the right strategies and resources because victories don't come by accident" and "Raise 'em up, Lord - Raise 'em up!"

The Bonus features included are amazing as well including several devotions. The stories shared behind the scenes are like little mini movies themselves!  DVD Bonus features include:
  • Bloopers and Outtakes 
  • Deleted Scenes 
  • Commentary with the Kendricks 
  • The Making of War Room
  • War Room in 60 Seconds
  • The Heart of War Room
  • The Church On Its Knees 
  • Investing In the Next Generation 
  • The Art of Jumping Rope
  • From Auditioning to Acting 
  • Modern Day Miss Clara
  • Behind the Scenes: Color Grading 
  • A Pastor's Call to Prayer
  • 'Warrior' music video by Steven Curtis Chapman 
  • Stephen Kendrick Devotion 
  • Alex Kendrick Devotion 
  • Wall of Remembrance - this contains true life answered prayers!
  • Redemption For the Mitchell Home - meet the owners of the home used in the movie and learn more about their story also offers seasons of popular series such as The Bible$5 Christian DVDs, educational DVDsdocumentaries, and so much more! Their mission is to provide The Greatest Christian and Family-Friendly Films in the World at Great Prices and I believe they have done a great job accomplishing that mission. Not only are the prices very affordable but they also offer free shipping on all orders of $40 or more.

You can also check out our review of two other titles - Exploring Ephesus and When Calls The Heart.

Have you noticed the great Christian movies hitting theaters lately? Our family has and we love them! We try to make an effort to visit them on their first weekend out to help give them the most support possible. Sometimes our schedules just don't allow that to happen so it's wonderful to know the option of purchasing the DVD is available too. makes it so simple to have family movie night at home and you can't beat the price compared to going to the theater!

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Blogging Through The Alphabet With God's Word - Letter U

Sharing a little ABC's of the Bible!

I'm teaching these to my preschool class and if 3-4 year old preschoolers can memorize them, surely we can too! We are also learning the ASL alphabet along with the verses too.

Letter U is ...Proverbs 16:22  - 
Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, But the discipline of fools is folly.

Okay, since we're dealing with preschoolers here we act totally goofy on the word fools.  :)

Join us in Blogging Through the Alphabet.

Here are the letters we've already done in case you missed them:

Letter A         Letter G        Letter M           Letter T

Letter B         Letter H        Letter N
Letter C         Letter I         Letter O
Letter D         Letter J        Letter P
Letter E         Letter K        Letter Q
Letter F         Letter L        Letters R&S

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review of Metal Earth Starter Kit

We were so excited to have to opportunity to review the Metal Earth Starter Kit from Timberdoodle

This kit sells for $35.47 - such a reasonable price!  It is recommended for ages 14+ and includes the following items:

Metal Earth offers 70 options for you to choose from including The Washington Monument, The Golden Gate Bridge, and many more.  Each of the model building kits includes one or more 4 inch squares of thin metal that you can transform into a 3D model.  The metal pieces contain the building parts which have been cut with laser etching.  Here is a video showing a little more about assembly.

Our Thoughts

We found the directions to be fairly simple to follow with good illustrations.

We also found the parts to be extremely small and delicate.  Each of the parts had small tabs to connect the parts together.  We had a difficult time seeing most of the holes and even when we were able to bend the tabs to try to keep the pieces in place, they would often fall back out of place.  We all tried our hand at what looked to be such a simple and neat process but none of us could accomplish putting together any of the kits! 

My children are 17, 15, and 12.  I thought since they still love building with plastic bricks, they would love to give these a try too.  We simply could not get our pieces to stay together even from the very beginning.  They did try and it was so funny to see each one's personality come out.  My oldest picked the tractor, opened it up, looked at all the details and parts and said - no way.  My 15 year old picked the airplane because he loves all things plane related and is also a Civil Air Patrol member.  He lasted a little longer but after several failed attempts, gave up as well.  Ironically, my 12 year old actually lasted the longest.  She is also the do it yourself artist of the family.  She picked the bicycle which seemed to be the easiest of the three.  She also gave it her all but had a difficult time seeing the holes and bending the tabs.  My husband and I tried to jump in to help but I'm sad to say we were also unsuccessful!  We all felt as though we needed a few extra pair of hands, magnifying glasses, and a whole lot of patience!

 Here is a close up of what the thin metal sheets look like.  This one is the bicycle.

Here you can see how small some of the parts are!

If you have a child who loves to build items with intricate details, you may want to give these kits a try.  We found them extremely hard but they may work for someone else with more patience!  I'd love to see someone who has had success with them! 

The metal earth kit also comes as a part of Timberdoodle's Eleventh grade curriculum kit.

**I received a free copy of this product through Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blogging Through The Alphabet With God's Word - Letter T

Sharing a little ABC's of the Bible!

I'm teaching these to my preschool class and if 3-4 year old preschoolers can memorize them, surely we can too! We are also learning the ASL alphabet along with the verses too.

Letter T is ...Proverbs 3:5  - 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Oh boy, does this verse come at the right time!  His ways are so much better than mine could ever be!  I trust you, Lord!

Join us in Blogging Through the Alphabet.

Here are the letters we've already done in case you missed them:

Letter A         Letter G        Letter M            

Letter B         Letter H        Letter N
Letter C         Letter I         Letter O
Letter D         Letter J        Letter P
Letter E         Letter K        Letter Q
Letter F         Letter L        Letters R&S

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review of Here To Help Learning

Here to Help Learning Review

You would think since I am always writing here on this blog that I would be fabulous at teaching my children to write, wouldn't you? Well, teaching writing has never been a subject that I have felt confident to tackle. So when Here to Help Learning offered their course to review, I was so excited!

We were given a subscription to their online membership for this review. Online memberships allow you access to all the writing programs available from Here to Help Learning. We choose Flight 1 Paragraph Writing after taking the placement test to guide us.

Here to Help Learning Review

There is so much to say about this wonderful program so I will do my best to walk you through! Writing is taught and modeled to the students with video instructions first. You will definitely want to be by your child's side as you watch the video instructions because you are instructed to pause the film at certain times to help your child perform the tasks that were just given in the video. Those actions include placing worksheets in their binder for the lesson, games, writing warm-up activities, webbings, and more. All items mentioned in this review are included in this curriculum.

There are 3 flights to choose from for paragraph writing and 3 flights to choose from for essay writing. Each flight contains 32 lessons for a full year of instruction. The paragraph writing flights are recommended for grades 1-3 or higher, and the essay flights are recommended for grades 4-6 or higher. Writing types include narrative, descriptive, expository, persuasive, and poetry. You can find out more on the different types here.

This is the scope/sequence for paragraph writing to help you choose which flight is best for your family.

As I mentioned earlier, we started Sarah who is in 7th grade in Paragraph Writing Flight 1 and I'm so glad that we did. Each lesson builds upon the next and I think she would have missed some valuable information had I choose to just place her by grade level instead of skill level. Since she had some experience already with paragraph writing we were able to move through the course faster than the recommended schedule. The recommended schedule says to complete 1 lesson per week which amounts to about 2 days of work per week. You take one day to watch the videos and one day for the writing projects. We would often do 2 lessons per week since Sarah felt comfortable doing so. That's the beauty of the online membership - you can choose the pace and level for your student because they are all available to you.

All lessons are Biblically based and students are reminded over and over to use their God-given gifts, talents, and learned skills to grow in the image of God. Colossians 3:17 is the key verse that students memorize and recite during each lesson.

The video lessons are fun, informative, and it's great to see how lessons are done in a co-op setting. We would often find ourselves laughing out loud at some of the tactics of the Captain Knucklehead aka the basset hound. 
Each video lesson included 5 sessions:

  • Pre-Flight Checklist - This is when you would make sure you have everything needed for the lesson.  This is also found on the worksheets 
  • Flight Check In - Here you would turn in your work from the previous flying solo lesson, put in your new worksheets, and collect a discovery ticket (see below) for doing so. 
  • Take Off - This is usually a fun writing warm-up that students complete. They usually have a fun picture included for the students to write about. They also go over the steps of the writing process during this time. 
  • Full Throttle - This is where the current part of the writing process is modeled for the student/teacher. 
  • Flying Solo - This is where Captain Knucklehead gives your writing assignment for the week.
When students turn in their writing assignments, they earn a discovery ticket. Tickets can be collected and you can decide on a prize to give after achieving so many. We decided that Sarah's reward would be an ice cream treat of her choice after collecting 20 tickets.  

The worksheets included scripted lessons for myself as we played games or practiced writing warm-up challenges. Students also had their own check list sheets to keep track of for writing assignments. At the end of the 32 lessons, students will have completed 6 full writing projects. 

Here is a fun peak into Sarah's writing notebook:

 One of the assignments was to decorate your key verse page.  You can also see the discovery tickets that Sarah has earned.  Ice cream trip coming soon!

The writing process sheet and a writing warm-up.  See that skateboarding dog?  All of them have fun pictures like that!

Since Sarah is older, I had her type her final writing project and she always loves to add an illustration.

The online membership is only $6.99 per month! For everything included in this curriculum, we think that is a steal! If you are looking for a unique way to teach writing, check out Here to Help Learning. We would highly recommend them! The Mora's are also a homeschooling family with 20 years experience and 8 children of their own. You can read more about their story and how Here to Help Learning was born here

You can also find out more on their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube Channel.

Here to Help Learning Review

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