Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 22: What makes you different from everyone else

Where do I begin?  hee hee

I homeschool my children-definitely not in the majority of what people do.
I deal with anxiety issues.  Some day I will write a long post about this-but it will be very long!
I'm fairly outgoing, although I'm shy in new situations.  Once I'm comfortable though, watch out.
I'm generally not afraid to voice my opinion though the majority of the time I try to be sure I'm kind and non-judgemental. It isn't my job to judge others-it is God's job.
There's a lot more but I'm done thinking for now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bad blogger

I really haven't been doing much blogging lately, have I?  Yes, the reviews are being completed but that isn't what this blog is about.  Those are just bonuses.  I'm still working on the 30 days of blogging.  Maybe I'll post the next one-finally.

Really, we haven't been doing much more than the basics-school and minimal house cleaning and sports.  That with the fact that I pretty much need a nap every day takes up all my time.  World Traveller and I did go see Cirque de Soleil last weekend with my sister and my niece and her family.  That was a fun show and we'll try to take the kids to see it next year. 

We did find out yesterday that we are having a girl.  This girl will be the 14th girl born into the family from my mom's side-between her kids, grandkids and great grandkids.  We have only 3 boys in those generations.  We have definite girl power going on in my family.  :-)  Now it's naming time. 

Precise Prince started baseball-he's in majors this year which means more games and practices.  I wasn't quite ready for the season to begin but I think I'm getting caught up and ready.  His first official game was Wednesday and although it was cold at the ball field-the sun was shining.

Creative Princess is done with her gymnastics competitions for this year.  There is another one she could do but we decided 3 was enough for the first year.  

Not much else I can think of to update.  We are still trying to get boxes unpacked and World Traveler is still working on getting the garage cleaned out and organized.  With all the other activities going on-especially sports, it's hard to find the time.  But eventually it will all get done.

TOS Review: Big IQ Kids

Big IQ Title Banner

Big IQ Kids is a supplemental online program geared to help children in math, spelling, vocabulary and state geography.  

The goal is to have your child do one lesson in each section per day.  You can customize each section to a point.  In spelling, you can use your own spelling list or just stick with the one provided by the Big IQ program.  The math section is geared towards basic math facts-addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You may choose the number of problems your child has to do each time he does a lesson and choose which type of problems to focus on.  For example, you can have your child work on only multiplication problems.  The default is 50 problems per lesson but you can change that as well.  I set my kids to 25 and 30 problems.  If you have the premium program the program is set up to advance your child to do more difficult problems as they become proficient in what they are working on.  Vocabulary is the other area in which you can use your own words or use what the program has. 

After each lesson your child earns a coin.  The coin can be used in the games section for your child to play games.  Most of the games are one coin to play-some are two. There is a wide variety of games-from simple and quick games that require minimal thinking to games that require a bit more time and thought. 

You can use the program for free or upgrade to the premium program.  The main things you get when you pay for an upgrade are email alerts on how your child is doing, programs that automatically move your child up based on their proficiency, a game buddy and access to all the games, and pop quizzes.  Go here to see an explanation of their premium program.  You can click on the different sections at the bottom and see more specifics on what you get for a premium membership.

Big IQ Kids

Our experience:

I had the kids work on Big IQ Kids at least four days per week.  Precise Prince loved the states program and achieved mastery in one of the sections within a week or two.  It was definitely his favorite section to work on.  He also liked the timed math quizzes, but I wondered why when the reports I was receiving were showing he was getting low percentages on them.  After I watched him, I figured out the problem.  He was trying to do too many problems in too short of a time and wasn't able to finish all the problems.  He was getting the problems he answered correct most of the time.  I told him to add an extra minute or two to his time.  He needed the extra time for the typing as it takes him longer to type the answers than it does for him to write them.  (For a child that would be too stressed out over timed quizzes, just skip them.  The regular math program has a time clock while working that you can turn off.  No need to even deal with the timed issue if you don't want to.)

Creative Princess did the minimum I required of her--one lesson each and sometimes she tried to get away without doing the math portion.  It wasn't at all too hard for her.  I think she just isn't as excited about doing school on a computer and overall prefers to write out her school work most of the time. 

  • No paper was needed for the math section.  There was a section where the kids could "write" on the computer using the mouse.  In addition, when the kids were working on borrowing and carrying, there was a place where they could put the numbers they would borrow or carry.
  • The program is intuitive and advances your child as they reach mastery if you have the premium account.
  • Math, vocabulary and spelling are customizable.  You can use your own spelling and vocabulary lists and in math, you can choose the problems your child needs to practice the most. 

  • The voices are computerized.  Due to this, there were times my kids had trouble understanding what was being said. (Actually, we laughed at the voices the first time we all sat down to use this program.  They are a bit funny.)
  • Even with the paid premium account, some of the pages had ads on them.  Although the ads weren't objectionable, I feel that with a paid account, I shouldn't see any ads.
  • Each child is given one log in.  There is no parent log in.  That means that if I want to change anything on their programs, I log in with their information.  The problem I see is that a child who is savvy and mischievous can make changes to the program themselves (for example, they can change the number of math problems to 5.)

Can be a pro or con, depending on your family:

Your child earns coins that allow them to play games after each lesson is complete. You do have the option to set it up so that coins are only able to be used on weekends or to set it up so that the games are never offered.  For us, the coins were more a pro than a con.  My daughter didn't care much about the coins and games after playing a few.  She isn't really a big computer game player.  My son found a few games he really enjoys and occasionally will play them after his lessons.  He actually has over 70 coins saved as of now so I'm not concerned that he is spending too much time on the games. Both kids were good about doing their lessons before spending their saved coins. 

The final verdict:

When we first started using this program, I wasn't sure we would continue with it after the review period.  As we continued using it, I found that I liked it.  The lessons are short and I am finding they are helping my kids.  My son really enjoys it-even some of the math sections.  He occasionally tells me what he is learning in the states section.  This isn't my daughter's favorite program but I can see that it is helping her with her math, at the least.  I plan to continue using Big IQ Kids for awhile.  I know it will be a good supplement for next year when we have a newborn and I won't have as much hands on school time with the older kids.

I recommend you try it out for a bit.  It's free to try the basic program.  A one month premium subscription is $19.99 for all four programs.  Purchasing a one year subscription for $99.99 will bring the cost down to $8.88 per month.  These prices are per child.  Other subscriptions available are subscriptions for only one section (math, spelling, vocabulary or state) and classroom subscriptions.  There is also an option to upgrade the free account to access all the games. Go here to see their extensive pricing list.

Go here to see what my fellow crewmates have to say about Big IQ Kids. 

(I was given a one year free premium account in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TOS review: Artistic Pursuits

Creative Princess was especially excited to get to review an art curriculum.  She loves drawing, writing, painting and anything arty or crafty.  The first day we purchased the pencils and sketchbook needed for this curriculum, Creative Princess was working through this book at bedtime since there wasn't time after we bought the pencils.

The curriculum we received from Artistic Pursuits was Book 1 for grades 4, 5 and 6. 
This isn't a "how to draw" book. The front of the book states it teaches the elements of art and composition.
There are 16 units with each unit containing 4 lessons.  Here is a list of the units in this book:  space, line and shape, texture, value, form, form using value, local value, contrast, the shapes of natural forms, edges, balance, rhythm, overlap, depth, proportion (the face), and movement. In addition, each unit contains and art appreciation and history section.  These sections are short but interesting to read.

The table of contents page includes a list of the supplies you will need for this book.  There aren't too many and their website gives you information on purchasing the supplies all at once at a discount supply place here. I was too impatient to wait, so I just purchased the supplies at a local craft store.

About two to three times a week, I have the kids do one lesson.  They read the lesson themselves-they are short, only one or two pages-and then they work on the activity.  This is not a teacher intensive book, which I love.  Other than purchasing the supplies in advance, I do not have to prepare anything for their lessons. This is one thing I can assign my kids to work on and they don't balk at it.  Sometimes they even work ahead. 

The kids and I all like this curriculum and I can recommend it to others with confidence.  The price for this curriculum is $42.95. Go here to purchase.

Go here to see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Artistic Pursuits.
(I received a copy of the grade 4-6 Artistic Pursuits book one free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOS Review: Apologia: Who Is God?


I confess that I am starting this review off a bit biased.  This is our fourth year using the elementary Apologia science books.  We love them.  So when I got the opportunity to review a different type of Apologia book, I was thrilled.  And I'm happy to say, I'm not disappointed.

We received the (text)book "Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him?" from Apologia.  This book is the first in a series of books concerning having a biblical worldview.

The Apologia website really explains best what this book is about:
Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?, introduces the concept of worldview while laying the foundational truths upon which the evangelical Christian worldview is built: God is truth and He reveals His truth to people; He is the one true and almighty God; He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; He created everything; we are God’s children and are made to love and to praise Him; God meets all our needs; sin keeps us from God; and Jesus is the only way to God.

This 252 page book is divided into 10 lessons.  The first lesson only took us two weeks to complete, however, it is more of an introduction to the whole book and is shorter than the other lessons.  We are now working on about one lesson per month.

Here is a list of the 10 lessons:
  1. Where am I building my life?
  2. How can I know what's true?
  3. What is God like? part1
  4. What is God like? part 2
  5. Who are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
  6. If God created the world, why isn't it perfect?
  7. Why did God create me?
  8. Will God meet all my needs?
  9. Why does sin keep me from knowing God?
  10. Is Jesus the only way to God?
I pull this book out about 3 or 4 days a week and we read a section or two or three from the book.  (There is a suggested schedule you can follow that the book describes in the introduction but the book is so well laid out, I didn't feel the schedule was needed.) It seems each section results in discussion and since this is important stuff (more important than reading, writing and math) I want to be sure we have the time to discuss without rushing.  The lessons start with "the big idea" which explains what that lesson is about.  The lessons also contain Bible memory, vocabulary, a fictional story that goes with the lesson, and notebooking work to do.   Here is a direct link to some sample pages from the book.

The beginning of the book guides you to a website with some extra help. The website contains links to notebooking pages you can use that go well with the book and additional resources to expand on what you are learning.  Also, there is a "Teacher Helps" section for each lesson.  This section is similar to a teacher's manual.

At the end of each lesson is also a section called "House of Truth."  There is an actual house to build that can be purchased to use with this curriculum, however, it is really geared toward a group setting as the house itself is costly.  The book extras section directs you to where you can purchase this item.  We simply discussed this section without building a house.

Thus far, we have not come across anything objectionable in this book though we have had several good discussions.  As with any book that is trying to explain God, the Bible or anything biblical, we make sure that what we are reading coincides with what the Bible actually says.  So far, so good.  This book really seems to incorporate much of the basics of Christianity. 

As I mentioned earlier, this is a book that shouldn't be rushed through.  Especially if you have a child like my Precise Prince.  He is always coming up with questions-most of them based on what we are reading, but sometimes they are new questions that don't really directly relate to what we've been reading-his mind goes in circles until he finds a question.  The questions are sometimes hard for me to answer but we sit and discuss and we are both learning from this. One example of our discussions is when the book calls God a person.  Precise Prince said, "He's not a person, He's a Spirit."  When using the term person, it brought to mind humans in all their sin.  However, the book defines person-"A living being who has mind, emotions, a will, a conscience, and a spirit."  Precise Prince of course had something to say about that, "God doesn't need a conscience."  However, when I defined conscience simply as being aware of things, this definition satisfied Precise Prince and now we can read God is a person. 

The bottom line is that I highly recommend this book. It is so important for our children to have a biblical worldview and this book does a good job getting them started in this.

The cost of Apologia: Who is God? is $39.00.   The age recommendation is 6-14.  It should be 6-adult.  I know I'm getting some good information from this book too. 

This spring there is to be a coloring book, an MP3 audio Cd and a pre-printed notebooking journal to go with the textbook that will be available each for purchase separately.

(I received a copy of Who is God for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 20: Write a letter to someone

To my baby yet to be born:

You are so lucky to already have a big sister and big brother who love you.  Both are looking forward to your coming, even if there is some apprehension in there too.  Sometimes (maybe even often), they will be bossy.  After all, you will be the youngest and they are going to help take care of you.  They will play with you, even though you are many years younger than they are.

Your dad and I are also looking forward to meeting you.  We wonder who you are going to be.  What traits will you carry from us, and what will be uniquely yours.

I am praying for you every day.  My greatest prayer is that you come to know Jesus in your life and what real love is all about.  I also pray for wisdom and strength in raising you.

I love you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 19: write about a sweet memory from your past

One of the memories that makes me feel so loved is at Christmas time when Precise Prince was 3 or 4 years old.  He went shopping with dad for a Christmas gift for me.  When they arrived home, Precise Prince gave me a hug and said "Mom, do you want to know what you're getting for Christmas?"  I said, "No, I want it to be a surprise."  He thought for a minute then said "Mom, do you really want slippers for Christmas?"  How could I not laugh (in a good way.)  Too cute.

Christmas morning came and Precise Prince opened his stocking and played with the toys left out (unwrapped).  When it was time to open the presents under the tree, he was told he could pass out the presents.  I fully expected him to find one of his presents first.  He was hunting for something specific.  He pulled out a gift and brought it to me, very excited.  "Mom, open my gift."  He was truly excited to give me a gift.  I still get tears in my eyes thinking of how sweet my little man was.  (and still is.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 18: plans/dreams/goals you have

My goal is to serve Christ.  Part of that is serving my family.  Always I strive to be less selfish and to serve my family that way I should be.

I know that to some people this goal will seem silly.  Or it can seem like the pat Christian wife answer-like it is something I should say.  But it is the truth.  When I sit and think of my life and what I want to accomplish, I really just want to be better at listening to the Holy Spirit's leading and being obedient to it.  I know that right now, some of what I'm being told is to lay down my own life to do what is best for my husband and children.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 17: someone you want to switch lives with for one day and why

I've been thinking about this and this is a hard one.  Honestly, I like my own life.  But then I was thinking it would be neat to switch with someone completely different from me to see what their life is like.  It would be interesting to be someone who doesn't know Jesus as their Savior-to get in their mind as a way to know better how to witness. So yes, there would be an ulterior motive.  It can be so easy to think we know what others are thinking, but we really don't. 

If I need to choose someone I know, then hmmm...I just can't. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 13: Your five favorite books and why

These are not necessarily in order.  I used to love reading but don't do much of it now so I really had to think about this one.

The Bible

Yes, this is a given. It's the handbook for life!

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

I loved this whole series.  It's a fictional story set in pioneer days.  A woman, Marty, loses her husband on a trail going west.  She is given a marriage proposal by a widower, Clark, with a young child and accepts.  Marty does not tell Clark she is newly pregnant.  The series follows their lives as they fall in love.  It is a Christian story and I love how this family loves God.

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Another series I like.  Actually, I haven't read the last book yet but I re-read all the other books (I'm on the second to last one now) and hope to have it read before the baby is born.  This is a fictional story and I think that is important to remember for this series.  It follows a group of people who become believers after the rapture.  Now, there is disagreement in the Christian community about when the rapture will occur and all that and frankly, it isn't something I studied nor plan to in the near future.  I take this book for what it is-fiction.  But as it is from a biblical view, it still encourages me to continue in following Jesus and that is important.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

This is one of my favorite kids books.  In a children's literature class in college we were put in groups and had to choose a book to do a presentation on.  I memorized the book for the presentation and it just remains a favorite.  Why? I don't know-I just love it.

I just can't seem to come up with a fifth.  I'm really not into "self help" type books.  There are a few that I've read and really enjoyed (Feminine Appeal is one)  but the problem I have with putting them as a favorite is that too often, they can overshadow what the Bible says.  These books-the Christian ones-should always be compared to the Bible and should never take the place of love.  There is a lot I could say on this, but I won't.  So I'm going to leave my list to three fun books and one serious book for now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A raffle for a great cause

A friend of mine is adopting a boy from another country.  The paperwork is all ok'd-but they still needs the funds for completion-including being able to go pick up their child.  She is hosting a raffle for a Nikon D3100 Camera.  Check it out here