25 July 2014

Flourish ~ Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Flourish Book Review

It's almost time to start a new school year here.  But, but, I'm still trying to finish last year.  We school year round, so it can be hard to switch gears and get a break, to be renewed and ready to go again.  I've been reading through (and doing some 'homework' from) Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate.  It has recently been published by Apologia Educational Ministries - the latest in their lineup of encouraging and helpful books for homeschool moms (they do more than great science curricula, y'all!).  

Flourish Book Review

The timing is perfect!  We're doing a 6-week time of getting into new routine with some fun studies - it is still summer after all (and the weather has been great!).  We'll start our official new school year the week after Labor Day (it may just be me, but it seems wrong to have the first day of school any earlier).  Because our schedule has been lighter and we are working on establishing new routines, this has been wonderful for me to implement what I've been learning from Mary Jo.

Flourish has 16 chapters covering topics from goal setting and planning tools to memory making and taking care of yourself.  I love the chapter title for this one (taking care of yourself): Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days.  There are also chapters to single moms and those families that operate home businesses.  The book is rounded out with recommended resources and planning pages.  There is also a link to download these forms.  The pdf versions have some color to them - pretty! 

One of my favorite aspects of Flourish is that it leads you through steps to make a (realistic) plan and put it into action.  Not just a plan to accomplish school work, but a plan for your dreams and goals in all areas of life.  For many of us, our days are more than homeschooling our children.  Time management is essential.  The time log has been eye-opening to how much time tasks actually take.  I've been underestimating nearly everything.  No wonder I feel like I am accomplishing nothing!  With a pre- and post- book evaluation it will be easy to see improvements - that's encouraging!

Flourish Book Review

Mary Jo Tate is a homeschool mom to her four sons.  They have been a homeschool family since 1997.  She has not only been on this homeschool journey (as a single mom) but also as a work-at-home mom (author, editor and book coach).  She teaches at co-op and blogs at Flourish at Home.  Mary Jo also hosts a show on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network - "Flourish at Home".  If anyone has experience with time management and fitting in the big - and little things - it is Mary Jo.  Her words of wisdom come from experience.   

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Thank you Apologia and Mary Jo!

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23 July 2014

HomeSchoolPiano {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Homeschool Piano Review

There are numerous studies that show the many benefits of music - physical benefits, academic benefits, emotional benefits, etc.  Listening, learning, or playing it's good for you, for your growing children.  Living rurally it isn't easy to get to lessons or have a teacher come here.  Not to mention the expense for many children.  When we learned of HomeSchoolPiano it seemed a perfect fit for our needs.  We were quite excited to have the opportunity to review HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books.

The first thing that I was excited about upon gaining access to our subscription -- it's for life!  With a subscription ($299 single payment = Success Package or 3 monthly payments of $99.97 = Payment Plan), you will have lifetime access to all the levels for five students.  There are three levels (books) of lessons with an additional Core level for learning/reviewing some basics.  Each student has their own sign-in (and you can have multiple students signed-in on their own devices at the same time) that keeps track of where they are in their lessons.  I love this!  There are also quizzes so you can tell how well they are learning.  The 3 levels encompass all stages of learners - Beginners, Building a Foundation (those with some training) and Unlocking the Pianist Within (creating music and learning a variety of musical styles).

Homeschool Piano Review

Book 1 is for beginners and where some of us have started.  Yes, us.  I'm using the lessons as well as four of my children.  HomeSchoolPiano is great for piano lessons all ages and abilities - my four year old is mildly interested (more so in the noise making aspect) and the six year old is learning alongside me.  The older children - 8, 10, 11 and 13 are working (almost) independently.  We only have one keyboard, so that is our biggest challenge - sharing it.  The children that are brand-new to learning piano are spending time on the Core lessons.  There are 33 of these that take you step-by-step through some of the very basics (finger numbers, how to sit at the piano, etc.).  You can move around within the lessons - like jumping back to the Core to review something unfamiliar encountered in Book 1.  

We can use any of the desktop computers or the iPad.  I've gone through and downloaded the entire Book pdf file and the Jam Tracks (zip file of mp3s) for the levels we are working in.  I've only printed a few pages at a time, but ultimately plan to have each book spiral bound with sturdy covers for longevity.  We can place both the book and the iPad on the stand and do a lesson or practice just about anywhere.  During our cooler-than-usual summer, we've been outdoors a lot.  Plug the keyboard in, stick close enough for wi-fi and they can play to their heart's content.  And they do.  I love the portability - they could sign-in and practice wherever they, a keyboard and wifi are.

Homeschool Piano Review
Previous attempts at piano learning were met with frequent reminders to practice.  Not so with HomeSchoolPiano.  I think it is largely due to the inclusion of improvisation for even the beginners.  Willie Myette, the instructor and creator, teaches with an unique approach.  There are 6 steps taught in a cycle. 
  1. Technique
  2. Rhythm
  3. Ear Training
  4. Reading Music
  5. Song
  6. Improvisation
From the very beginning, learners are encouraged to experiment and play around.  A sound foundation is certainly being taught, but it doesn't have to be all scales and boring practice.  My children are asking to do lessons and be given time to play (in every sense of the word).  I think this is one program we'll be sticking with.  HomeSchoolPiano is the solution for our homeschool piano lesson needs.  There are free lessons you can try to see if you think this would be a good fit for your family.  
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Thank You HomeSchoolPiano!

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11 July 2014

$100 Giveaway and Amazing Savings on Curriculum! Sneak Peak at the Upcoming Build Your Bundle sale!

What would you do with $100 to spend on homeschool curricula?  What if that money would stretch even further with sales of 80-92% off?  There are some great products in the Build Your Bundle sale - Cathy Duffy top picks, a Charlotte Mason bundle, bundles geared for specific ages.  There is even a bundle for you, Mama!  

I am so excited for this sale!  The sale starts July 21 and will only be available for a week.  Enter now to win that $100.  You'll find out if you won when the sale begins.  Contests aren't your thing?  You can sign up to get a reminder e-mail when the sale begins.  I like the notice now so I can start saving (I'll want one of everything, please!) and really appreciate being reminded when the sale actually starts.  Surely I'm not the only one to have grand plans and remember when it's too late.

The first ever "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition sale is almost here!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

You can enter to win $100 towards your purchase to use when the sale goes live on 7-21-14! Enter now through 11:59PM EST on 7-20-14. The winner will be announced the day the sale starts!

Be sure to look for the special coupon code you will get when you pin the giveaway on Pinterest!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Enter to win $100 towards your purchase!

For one week only (July 21-28) save up to 92% on bestselling homeschooling products, including MANY on Cathy Duffy's Top 100 list!

Not interested in entering the giveaway, but you want to be reminded when the sale goes live? They will send you a reminder email! Click here and enter your email address and click "Remind Me!"

Take a Sneek Peek at Our Bundles:

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Tots & Preschoolers Bundle

This Bundle includes products for little ones:
  • Character Training Resources
  • Handwriting Curriculum
  • Preschool & Toddler Activities
  • Bible Curriculum
  • Full Preschool Curriculum
  • & More!

Kindergarten - 3rd Grade Bundle

The K-3 Bundle includes products in the following subjects:
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Science
  • History
  • Handwriting
  • Character Training
  • Bible Resources
  • Full Kindergarten Curriculum
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Elementary: 4th-6th Bundle

The 4th-6th Bundle includes products in the following subjects:
  • History
  • Language Arts
  • Geography
  • Art
  • Math
  • Bible
  • Keyboarding
  • Writing Guides
  • Handwriting andCopywork Resources
  • Timeline Cards & Notebooking Pages
  • Customizable Homeschool Planner

Middle School Bundle

This bundle features a full language arts curriculum from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks and two science curricula, one of which is also from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks, as well as:
  • A Complete Geography and History Curriculum
  • History Timeline/Book of Centuries
  • Renaissance and Reformation Notebooking Pages
  • Classical Music Curriculum
  • Creative Writing Course
  • Math Materials
  • Keyboarding Course
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Bundle for High Schoolers

This bundle features:
  • New Testament Bible Curriculum
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • A full year of math curriculum
  • Resources for World History and Geography
  • Philosophy
  • Home Economics
  • College Prep Tools
  • Grammar
  • Creative Writing Course
  • Anatomy Science Unit study from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks, and more!
You will receive enough materials for a full year of high school!

Charlotte Mason Bundle

This bundle features a complete curriculum using the Charlotte Mason Methods for:
  • Language Arts
  • Handwriting, and Reading
  • Geography
  • Nature Study
  • Artists Study
  • Poetry
  • And a variety of "extras" just for mom!

    Learn all about Charlotte Mason and enjoy a special bonus (a $90 value all by itself) of great, classic audio books!
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Bundle Just for Moms!

Save money, strengthen your marriage, and streamline your schedule using our Mom Bundle. Find the encouragement you need and the insight to speak to your child’s heart (even that difficult child!). Whip your home into shape and train your children to do their chores effectively using a popular book "chores program".

This bundle brims with useful tools to help you bring calm to the chaos. Get them all for just $10!

"Build Your Own" Bundles

Our "Build Your Own" bundles offer you the opportunity to select a certain number of products with a retail price of $19.99 or less for up to 80% off! We have MANY items to choose from, including Cathy Duffy Top 100 Picks!

When you purchase a combination of any 2 "Build Your Own" bundles, you will get the 3rd one at 50% off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

10 July 2014

Moving Beyond the Page {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Moving Beyond the Page Review

We fell in love with Moving Beyond the Page during a previous review.  We were thrilled to review some of their individual units again.  The difficult part was choosing which units.  The littler learners are enjoying more free time this summer, so I settled on the older girls.  That narrowed down the options a little.  MBTP offers units for a wide range of ages (4-5 year olds up to 12-14 year olds).  We finally agreed on A Single Shard ($19.92 for the online language arts package) and Earth Cycles and Systems ($41.97 for the physical science package).  Both of these units are listed as Age 11-13 units.  My girls using this are (rising) 5th, 6th and 8th graders.  
We enjoy unit studies, and especially literature-based ones and that is what Moving Beyond the Page is.  You can order individual units or a full year's worth of curricula; just the guide or a full package.    One of the wonderful things I enjoy about Moving Beyond the Page is how complete a unit is.  When you order the full package, you will get not only the guide but the needed books as well.  For some of the science units, this includes kits of the hands-on materials.  For those units where kits are not included, the materials we have needed have all been on hand or very easy to obtain.  But, even the online unit includes a physical copy of the literature sent to your door.  Awesome!  As much as we love our library, it is nice to not have to track down books.  It is also wonderful to have all the needed things arrive at the same time.  No skipping an activity because something hasn't arrived yet (or Mama forgot to pick it up at the store).
Our language arts unit was based on the book, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.  The story is set in Korea during ancient times (mid- to late 12th century).  The main character, Tree-ear is an orphan around 12 years of age.  He lives with Crane-man, a crippled father-figure to the boy.  Tree-ear longs to be a potter, just like Min, the master potter he secretly watches work.  Through an unfortunate incident he has the opportunity to work for Min.  Because of Crane-man's influence on him, Tree-ear tries to do what is right and honorable - not always an easy task.  These elements make the story one that all can relate to.  We also enjoyed learning about the time and place and people.  Historical fiction is something we all enjoy, so I read the story aloud for all of the children.  
There are 11 lessons (10 lessons + a final project and test), some taking more than one day.  The typical unit is intended for 2-3 weeks work.  When using Moving Beyond the Page as a full curriculum, the year is divided into concepts (4 for this age level), each intended for 9 weeks of study.  Within a concept are three units.  These units are what can be used individually.  This same layout is used for all three subject areas: language arts, social studies and science.  As with any unit study, there is some overlap in discipline.  In our language arts guide were expected activities working with parts of speech (pronouns in this unit), vocabulary, writing (comparison and contrast writing) and learning more about the author.  There was also some social studies covered with map work, learning about Korean culture - including a recipe to make kimchi (you know how we love tastes around the world!), and information on making pottery.  We went out and dug up some dirt from our yard and determined how clay-y it was.  This crossed over into our science unit, too!   
Our science unit was titled Earth Cycles and Systems.  Through the readings in the three non-fiction books included in the package (Ecology, The Water Cycle, and Carbon-Oxygen and Nitrogen Cycles), we learned about the earth's cycles, the things that live and interact in these cycles (plants, worms, bugs, etc.) and how they are interdependent.  The lessons started with learning what matter and energy are then relate this to ecosystems.  We then studied the earth cycles and farming practices (all types, not just conventional practices - yay!).  The final project was on nitrogen - manipulating the amounts and observing the results.  We also happened to be working on just this with our garden.  That really drove home the purpose in having the variables controlled in an experiment.  In our garden, we applied the same nitrogen evenly to all the plants.  In their experiment, this was the variable.
We continue to be impressed with Moving Beyond the Page.  There are so many units and combinations that these can be used in almost any way.  The online units provide a download pdf of all the student activity sheets (printing as needed for your family only).  The physical units are for individual users (no copying pages allowed).  Because we were working as a team on the science activities, this worked well for our family.  For the language arts units, we did copy some of the pages for each learner.  When you purchase an online unit, you have a limited time in which to use it that begins when you 'activate' the unit.  If you need an extension on this time, you need only e-mail to have that done.  If you wish to re-do a unit (say with a younger sibling at a later time) you can re-purchase the unit (guide-only if you still have the books) at a reduced rate.  This information was found within my account.  This is a really flexible curriculum to work with.
Read more reviews to see other ages and units used in other Schoolhouse Review Crew members' homes.  To learn more about Moving Beyond the Page, visit their website.  I found the 'Purchase' page the most useful when looking for individual units.  You can also browse by age level to view the full year and other options.
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Thank you Moving Beyond the Page!

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