Friday, May 29, 2015

Mama is Buying in Bulk


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  That means if you click on one and make a purchase, I'll be able to continue purchasing endless LEGO sets and keep camo-themed bandages in stock for the boys.  

Quite some time ago, The Busy Mom mentioned purchasing meat from Zaycon Fresh.  I love The Busy Mom (and word of mouth is held in high regard for me) so I decided to check it out.  It seemed really neat.  Buy meat in bulk, fresh from the farm, cutting out the grocery store middleman.  

Here's a video from Good Morning America on the whole process...





Every few months, I'd get an email from Zaycon telling me that a chicken event was coming to my area!   We go through a lot of chicken in this house.  However, every time I got around to deciding that I wanted to make a purchase, I had waited too late, and the chicken was sold out.  Darn.

A few weeks ago, I got another Zaycon Fresh email.  This time, the chicken was $1.69 a pound.  I wasn't waiting to make a decision, I bought chicken right away.  The chicken comes in a case of 40 pounds.  I bought two cases.  I have a FoodSaver and I'm ready to use it!

Next week, I pick up my chicken.  I'll be ready to trim, prep, and freeze 80 pounds of chicken!  I'm already working on a list of ways I'm going to prepare all that chicken.  Can't wait to share the details with you!  Head over to Zaycon's website now to see if there's a pick-up point near you!
UPDATE 6/15/15:
I picked up my 80 pounds of chicken and spent the day getting it trimmed, bagged, and sealed before I filled up the freezer.  I was incredibly impressed with the freshness and quality of the chicken.  The portions are LARGE and definitely worth the money.  I have even cooked a few meals with the chicken and I've been thrilled with the quality of the chicken.  I will definitely purchase again!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Goals for the Week

Last week, I posted about my weekly goals.  They were in the back of my mind each day as I went through my week.  Unfortunately, my progress was not great.  That kinda stinks.  But I'm back here today after a long weekend with my family and ready to try again.  I can do this.  :)
First up is a recap of my goals from last week.  
Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1.  Write a love note to my husband, as we just celebrated 12 years of marriage yesterday.
2.  Get unpacked/everything put away from weekend at the beach.
3.  Buy food for the fellas to eat while I'm out of town this weekend.  
Personal Goals

4.  Hit 10,000 steps on my Fitbit everyday OR 70,000 steps for the week (Sun. - Sat.)
5.  Be intentional walking a mile everyday (part of a challenge in which I'm participating).
6.  Complete another row of baby blanket for Baby Nephew on the way.
7.  Wake up by 8:00 everyday. 

Local Ministry/Hospitality/Friendship Goals

8.  Send a note to a grandparent this week.

Business Goals

9.  Prepare myself for upcoming homeschool conference.  
10.  Prepare my blog for the conference.  
So, as you can see, not the best progress.  However, this is a new week and I'm ready to try again.  I also realize I need to be sure to manage my expectations.  Last week, we were coming off of a weekend trip to the beach and just a few days later I was heading out of town for 3 days to attend a homeschool conference.  The excitement is never ending, however, as this weekend is our biggest event for Cub Scouts.  We are having our Advancement Banquet on Saturday night.  I've got about 50 things that need to be done before then.  I'm so excited to rest on Sunday!
This week's goals:
Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1.  Set aside some time in this very busy week to completely unplug and enjoy time with the boys.
2.  Do something for Adam that will show him how much I love him (I want to work on a project for him, but don't want to say what in case he reads this before I get it done!).  
3.  Make master bedroom a clutter-free oasis of relaxation.  :)

Personal Goals

4.  Walk a mile each day.
5.  Be in bed by 11:30 pm.  
6.  Drink 60 ounces of water each day.
Local Ministry/Hospitality/Friendship Goals

7.  Work on plan to find a family-oriented service project for the summer.
8.  Send a note to a grandparent.
Business Goals

9.  Hold Usborne Books & More Facebook Party.
10.  Send email to company I met with last week at conference to establish our partnership expectations.



There you have it.  Those are the things I'd like to complete this week.  Really, the list is incredibly longer.  If I made a list of all of the Cub Scout stuff I needed to get done, it would absolutely be much, much longer than this.  I think that's the point of this goal list, though.  There are other things in my life I need to remember to get done that don't have anything to do with Scouts.  This isn't a typical week, either.  Our end-of-the-year banquet is our largest event and it's happening in just a few days.  I suppose it makes sense that I'd be significantly busier than usual.  Better get busy....

(Pssst.  If you'd like to link up your goals, head over the Money Saving Mom and check out her post on weekly goals!)

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Metamorphosis and Flight by FishFlix.com (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

As a movie-going, documentary loving family, we were incredibly excited to be selected to review Flight and Metamorphosis from FishFlix.com.

FishFlix.com Review


Truthfully, I had never heard of FishFlix.com prior to this review being announced.  After browsing the site for awhile, I knew this would be a go to resource for us in the future.  There are SO MANY different titles available at FishFlix.com.  Christian movies, children's movies, documentaries, sports movies, etc.  It is a rather extensive list!  

We received our two DVD's and were ready to get started.  I called the boys into the room and asked which one they would like to see first.  I wasn't surprised when they chose Metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis was incredibly well-timed for us.  We had purchased caterpillars for our butterfly habitat and were watching them get larger by the day.  Watching the documentary gave us so much information that we found very useful and interesting as we started our caterpillar to butterfly adventure.

FishFlix.com Review


The Metamorphosis documentary was very nicely done.  The camera work was spectacular and we got to get up close and personal with caterpillars and butterflies.  It was great to see how caterpillar eggs get their start (especially since we began our project with caterpillars vs. caterpillar eggs).  Then, we watched all of the changes a caterpillar goes through and how a chrysalis changes and protects the caterpillar as it is becoming a beautiful butterfly. 

Then, the butterfly emerges and wow....it was awesome.  Even though we have had a butterfly garden before this one, even though the boys knew what was going to happen, it was still amazing to watch a caterpillar change into something so very different.  In the documentary, they likened the change to a magic trick.  I can see why.  A worm-like creature wraps itself into a blanket and comes out of it, a gorgeous flying creature!  That is a magic trick!

Flight was equally beautiful.  The video of the birds was unlike video we had seen before in other documentaries.  We start with our viewpoint inside an egg and begin the process of hatching.  Then, we take a look at the parts of a bird and how the mechanics work together to enable flight.  

FishFlix.com Review


After we learned what it is about birds that makes them able to fly, we saw different birds.  Honestly, hummingbirds are always some of my favorite birds to watch.  It's so fantastic to watch something so small be so marvelously fast.  And the flight of the starlings?  So incredibly remarkable.  The way they fly so beautifully with others was compared to a ballet and it's easy to see why.

The documentary delved into how man has tried to replicate flight.  We learned that something that we see as a simple part of a bird, the feather, is much more complex than what we think.  It's an integral part of the bird and of flying.  Something that we cannot create in the same manner.  

Our impressions of the DVD's were that they were amazing pieces of work.  Yes, they were absolutely educational and informative but it was almost second in nature to beauty we saw.  We are an animal loving family and it was exciting to us to see so many phenomenal animals.  I imagine these DVD's will be watched repeatedly.  

Don't forget to follow FishFlix.com on your favorite social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fishflix 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christiandvd
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/fishflix/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Fishflix/posts
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/familychristianmovie



FishFlix.com Review





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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Revolutionary Ideas: The Story of the American Revolution (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

Homeschool Legacy Review


If you have ever visited my blog before, there's a good chance that you have read a reference to Scouting and how I like to incorporate Scout requirements into our school day.  I was thrilled to have been selected to review Revolutionary Ideas: The Story of the American Revolution from Homeschool Legacy.

Homeschool Legacy is a really neat company that offers once-a-week unit studies.  I've always loved the idea of unit studies.  For me, it makes a lot of sense to center our lessons around one theme/idea.  The unique spin of Homeschool Legacy's unit studies are they meet Boy Scout merit badge requirements.  That means we can spend some time working on a unit study and at the same time my Boy Scout can work on a merit badge!    

Homeschool Legacy Review


Our unit study book arrived and we were ready to get started.  We received a nice quality, softcover book.   However, the products are also available via digital download, as well. Right away, there's a list of what requirements are going to be completed by finishing this unit study.  Not all requirements for the merit badge will be covered, there will still be some work that needs completed outside of this unit study.  If you have a daughter in American Heritage Girls, you're in luck!  These unit studies also meet guidelines for badges in that program as well. 

Homeschool Legacy has also included a sample schedule for how to incorporate Once-a-Week Unit Studies into your school plans.  Basically, you continue with your regularly scheduled day for most days, adding in any reading that you need to complete for the unit study.  One day each week, you incorporate unit study activities and plans.  

Homeschool Legacy Review


Let's skip to the back of the book for a second.  In the back, on the last few pages, there are various tips and tricks to get the most out of this unit study.  There may be writing assignment suggestions, ideas for lapbooking, additional research options, as well as reading/video choices.  Why are these resources included in the back?  Sharon Gibson, the author of the study, explains that at homeschool conferences, parents don't always have the time to really look at every book in which they are interested.  Sharon wanted to get right to lesson part of the unit study so parents could quickly see an example of what this way of learning would be like for them.  

Ok, so we've gone over all of the resources of the book, now it's time to get started on what the lessons contain.  The lessons contain a lot!  Science, history, devotionals, vocabulary, art, reading suggestions, movie/video suggestions, field trip ideas, and our favorite part -- Stump Your Dad Trivia.  Each of the lessons that complete a Scouting requirement have a fleur-de-lis beside them.  I like this indication because I know for sure that I need to complete those activities in order for Adisson to complete the requirement for the merit badge.  

Our unit study was about the American Revolution.  This was especially fitting because Zander spent the year in co-op learning about the American Revolution by way of watching Liberty's Kids so he was excited that he knew some of the answers already.  We created a history timeline, which the boys enjoyed, and we talked about Zander's favorite event -- The Boston Tea Party.  We discussed so many other events of the time, but that was our favorite.  Z's been in a Boston Tea Party frame of mind for several months.  

We kept all of our assignments together in a notebook so when we finish the unit study, Adisson's work will be ready to show to his merit badge counselor for approval.  If you are familiar with unit studies, if you aren't but perhaps you are interested, you should check out Homeschool Legacy.  You don't have to have a child in Scouting to gain a lot from the books.  These unit studies are incredible regardless.  However, if you happen to be a homeschooling family that is up to their eyeballs in Scouting, these are amazing!

Find Homeschool Legacy on your favorite social media sites: 


Homeschool Legacy Review



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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Being a Conference Blogger

I've been to homeschool conferences.  In fact, in my 8 years of homeschooling, I've been to 6 conferences.  Three of those conferences have been since we've lived in North Carolina and I've attended the NCHE Conference.  In fact, last year, I was selected as a blogger for the NCHE Conference.  


Wait.  What does that mean?

  • I live-tweeted/instagrammed what was going on throughout the weekend. 
  • I spoke with vendors about their products.
  • I even hosted a giveaway sponsored by a vendor!
I'm thrilled to tell you that I was again selected to attend this year's conference as a blogger.  

Exciting!

As I prepare to attend the conference in just a few days, I've got to start getting everything ready to go.  What do I need to take with me, what can I leave in my room, what can I leave at home?  That's what I'm about to tell you!

I have two separate lists, though.  I have a list of what I need to take with me as a conference attendee and what is coming with my mostly for blogging purposes.  (Naturally, there is some overlap of the two lists.)

Conference Essentials

Pens -- I know, of course.  But one year I forgot!!
Notebook -- I'm a big note taker.
Tote bag(s) -- One bag carries all of my gear, the others carry all of my purchases.
Cardigan -- Because the rooms can be freezing, but the outside is warm!
Pre-printed address labels -- used for entering vendor giveaways.
Cash -- I don't carry cash exclusively, but it's nice for small purchases.
Comfortable shoes -- because there's no way I can last all day with pinched toes.
Conference schedule -- I'll get one at the conference, but I will have already printed one out and made notes.
Reusable water bottle and flavored drink sticks (because I love them).

Blogger Essentials

Laptop -- though it stays in the room.
Phone -- charged and in a rechargeable case.
External battery -- because I can kill an iPhone battery in no time.
Business cards
Apps on my phone -- I will be live tweeting and instagramming the weekend, some apps help turn quotes into a graphic that I can share with followers.  


What are your conference essentials?  Have you ever been to a homeschool conference?  If so, what have I forgotten on this list?  



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Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekly Goals

I love lists.  I make lists about lists.  I love to plan.  My life rarely happens according to how I plan, but I keep on planning anyway!  One of my favorite blogs/websites is the Money Saving Mom.  I've been a follower for several years.  Crystal just seems like a really down-to-Earth, awesome lady.  I'd love it if we were neighbors.  :)

One thing that she does is post her weekly to-do list for accountability purposes.  I love that.  She has goals and by putting them out there on the world wide web, it's hard to hide from them.  I think it's such a great idea.

And I have goals.  And ideas.  And I love making lists.  So, I'd like to try that, as well.  Since I'm totally ripping off this idea using Crystal for inspiration, I'm going to try this with her format to decide if it works for me.  




Let's do this...


Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals


1.  Write a love note to my husband, as we just celebrated 12 years of marriage yesterday.
2.  Get unpacked/everything put away from weekend at the beach.
3.  Buy food for the fellas to eat while I'm out of town this weekend.  
(My husband can cook, but it's a bit easier if there's actually food here to prepare!)


Personal Goals


4.  Hit 10,000 steps on my Fitbit everyday OR 70,000 steps for the week (Sun. - Sat.)
5.  Be intentional walking a mile everyday (part of a challenge in which I'm participating).
6.  Complete another row of baby blanket for Baby Nephew on the way.
7.  Wake up by 8:00 everyday. (I KNOW! This is crazy because so many people have an entire day's tasks completed by then, but I'm a night owl and our family stays up a bit later than most.)


Local Ministry/Hospitality/Friendship Goals


8.  Send a note to a grandparent this week.


Business Goals


9.  Prepare myself for upcoming homeschool conference.  
(I was fortunate enough to be selected as a conference blogger. SO EXCITED!)
10.  Prepare my blog for the conference.  


Ok.  So that's my list.  It's weird to limit myself to 10 things because I could think of about 20 more I'd like to add.  It's probably better that I don't.  Do you write down your goals for the week?  Want to try it now?




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Friday, May 15, 2015

S is for Smiling Sunrise by WordsBright (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

With a son getting ready to enter Kindergarten, books that teach the alphabet are pretty popular around here.  We were excited to be chosen to review the book S is for Smiling Sunrise by WordsBright.  

Smiling Sunrise Review

When our package arrived, we received a hardcover, full-color ABC storybook and a teacher's guide to using the book.  Right away, I loved how nice the book was.  It's a good quality, with bright colors and neat pictures.  My youngest fellow was ready to get started reading right away.

First, I want to tell you a quick story about Jax.  He hates the alphabet song.  He has despised it since he was about two.  Every time I've ever tried to sing it, he covers his ears and runs the other way.  Now, it could very well be that I'm the world's worst singer, but he doesn't respond in that manner to any other song I sing.  He really, really dislikes that song.  As a result, he is the only child I know that can't just start singing the alphabet song off the top of his head.  This is the biggest reason I was excited to try S is for Smiling Sunrise.  I thought a new approach would be helpful. 

Each page is dedicated to a letter.  On that page you'll find a picture to correspond with the letter as well as a rhyme describing the letter and/or picture.  The cool thing, though, is how the additional materials work well with the book.  

Song

There is a song available as an mp3 download from the site.  It is a song of the story!  I'd suggest listening to the song as soon as you get the book, though.  Once you sort of make up your own cadence of the rhymes, it's hard to change them once you hear how they are sung.  

Teacher's Guide

The free, downloadable Teacher's Guide is a lovely addition to the book.  There are discussion questions included meant to encourage some thought-provoking dialogue between you and your child.  Additionally, each letter has Concepts to read, Questions to ask, Vocabulary to review, and Activities to do together!  


Smiling Sunrise Review




What Did We Think?

Well, Jaxon did not hate the song.  He isn't a singer so he didn't walk around singing it, but when he heard it, he didn't cover his ears and run away screaming.  We both thought the storybook was really nice.  We would read each letter together, talk about any significance that letter had (J is for Jaxon, M is for Mom, Z is for Zander, etc) and talk about how the picture went along with the letter.

He has a difficult time being still and engaged for more than just a few minutes at a time, so we read the book together and talked for as long as he would tolerate and then we were done with it for the day.  We looked at it together several times each week, however, and he has since carried it into his room to be part of his "silent reading" books. 

If you are looking for a fresh look on the alphabet, this book is definitely just that.  

Also, you can find the author of S is for Smiling Sunrise on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wadhwavick.




Wordsbright Review




Crew Disclaimer


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Incredible Handmade Items from Trades of Hope

I love direct sales businesses.  I know a lot of at-home moms who are supplementing their household income by choosing to sell items through a direct sales company they love.  I thought I had heard of nearly every direct sales company that people were buzzing about, but I was wrong.  I had never heard of Trades of Hope.  

What is Trades of Hope?  

Trades of Hope is a (you've guessed it) direct sales biz.  This one, however, is a bit different than most.  ToH is a company that empowers woman and gives artisans the opportunity they need to be able to support themselves and their families.  


These are women who live in war torn countries, women who have been rescued from sex slavery, women who are have illnesses that make them social pariahs, women struggling to support themselves and handicapped children.  These are women who have the desire to be dependent and self-sufficient but lack the means to be that woman.  



Women are able to make and create beautiful items as a way to support themselves and their families.  Trades of Hope then uses Compassionate Entrepreneurs to showcase these items to you and me.  


My Compassionate Entrepreneur (CE) is Kristi Kerr.  I met her through my own direct sales business as an Usborne Books and More consultant.  Once I learned that Kristi was a CE with Trades of Hope, my curiosity sent me straight to her website to discover what this company was all about.


Really, you need to take a minute and head directly to Kristi's Trades of Hope store.  It's there you'll be able to read more about how Trades of Hope began and the need it fulfills.  Additionally, you'll see the gorgeous items available.  


My two favorite items were the Owl Coaster Set and the Solid Wood Game.



Seriously, how cute is that set?  If you know me at all, or have ever visited my home, you will quickly notice my love of birds and owls.  I knew this set would complement my living room so well.  When it arrived I was so excited to see how beautiful it was in person.  The owl-shaped case that holds everything together is really nice and also includes notches on either side to make retrieving a coaster easy.  You don't have to dump the case to get one coaster.  The detail work of the owls is splendid.  They are light (which is good because in a house full of boys everything is a weapon) and just the right size for my glasses to fit nicely.  



I was really excited to get the Solid Wood Game.  I wanted to see the quality of it because it looks like something I'd like to give as a gift.  Once again, I was completely impressed.  The pieces are all of great quality.  The extra pieces fit in the box and the "lid" is the gameboard.  One side features tic-tac-toe with x's and o's included.  The other side is the game Hi-Q.  Ok, so truthfully, I had no idea what Hi-Q was when I got this game.  Turns out, you put the marbles on the holes and start skipping.  The point is to leave as little marbles on the board as possible.  

When I started playing with Hi-Q, I managed to have four seconds to myself before the kids were clamoring for their turn.  After everyone had a chance to get their best score on Hi-Q, they moved over to tic-tac-toe and played for awhile.  Not only is it a gorgeous set, it was a complete win for the kids. 

If you are looking for a nice gift, the Solid Wood Game would definitely fit the bill.  It's so nice and fun, that it certainly would appeal to people of all ages. In fact, I'm pretty sure my grandpa is going to receive one to keep at his house to battle the grandkids.  

Amazing items, impeccable quality, and empowering women?  Does it get any better?  Start gift shopping now.  Give the gift of unique, handmade items while helping women support their families.  

I was given the above items to review.  My opinion of the products, their quality, and the direct-sales company, Trades of Hope, are my own thoughts and opinions.  I was not required or asked to write anything specific.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Photos of our Family Fun Day!

It's been awhile since I tossed some photos out to the world.  So, check out some awesomeness that has been happening with the McGhee's lately.  Here was a Family Fun Day out with my guys.  

Seriously, I'm a blessed mama!












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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Firmly Planted Gospels Part 1 by Real Life Press (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

I'm always on the look out for a good family devotional.  As a huge fan of Real Life Press already, I was excited to be selected to review Firmly Planted, Gospels, Part 1.  

Real Life Press Review
I received a PDF of the Family Study Guide and of the Student Workbook.  These two books are only available as downloadable books.  The good part of that is it makes printing sheets from the workbook very easy.  Plus, I can print a page for each of the boys.

We started our devotional on a Monday night.  As we sat down together, I would read from the Family Study Guide as the kids listened.  I first read The Seed, which is the core idea for the week.  It was followed by Planting the Seed, a Bible verse relating to the core idea.  There is an additional Bible verse labeled Additional Planting the Seed for ages 11 and older.  Then, we moved on to Watering the Seedling.  This part was a narrative of the Bible selection presented at the beginning of the weekly section.  

On Tuesday night, we headed in to Day One of the Study Guide.  First up in the daily activities is reading a Bible passage.  Then we move on to Digging Deeper with some explanation about what was just read.  Up next is Taste the Fruit.  In this section, I read some thought provoking questions for the boys to think about and answer.  We finished up our reading with a word of prayer.  

Ok, let's pause here.  If this was the only part of the books that we had received, I'd honestly be a little disappointed.  The selections were a bit difficult for my young sons to grasp and they had a hard time understanding what was happening.  I felt like they really stopped listening early on in the reading. I had already decided to save the workbook pages until the following day because I thought it would be a nice addition to our homeschool activities.  Plus, it would give us the opportunity to discuss what we had read the night before.

Real Life Press Review


What a huge difference!  The Student Workbook pages were incredible!  There were icons to guide us through the workbook.  Again, we had The Seed, Planting the Seed, Planting More Seeds (for older kids), Nurturing the Sapling, Bearing Fruit, and Digging Deeper.  The activities were great.  Word searches, crossword puzzles, mazes, maps, coloring pages, nature studies, copywork pages, fill-in pages, and so much more.  

We started with a word search.  Right away, my middle son was recognizing words he heard in the story the night before.  I was so happy!  He WAS listening!  Even better was the fact that there were two word searches, one a little more difficult than the other, so my oldest son could do the same activity but with a challenge.  We started discussing some of the words we were searching and why those words would be included.  

Together, we worked on the question and answer worksheets.  Sometimes, the would need a bit of encouragement to remember the correct answer.  By the end of the week, however, they needed less and less of my assistance to fill in the blanks.  The boys have a love for maps, so any activity with a map was a big winner for us.  We also colored pages together, helped one another with crossword puzzles, and followed Theo Logy through the student workbook.  

While I thought they weren't listening the previous night, or that they didn't understand what was going on, I was wrong.  They got it.  We continued on the same way through the week.  I read at night before bedtime and we did worksheets together the following day as part of daily studies.  I was apprehensive when we got started, but that feeling faded quickly.  This is an awesome devotional study for families and if you are looking for one, I highly suggest Real Life Press and the Firmly Planted Series.  In fact, this link is my affiliate link so if you are considering a purchase, I'd love it if you clicked through my link. 

Don't forget to follow Heidi St. John and Real Life Press on your favorite social media sites:
 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/busyhomeschoolmom?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/heidistjohn
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heidistjohn/




Real Life Press Review



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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Adaptive Placement Test & Individualized Lesson Plan (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

Math is not a favorite subject around here.  I figured that an Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan from A+ Interactive Math would be helpful in determining where my sons stand.  Thankfully, I was given the chance at this review opportunity.  The placement testing is done online so a computer and internet connection is necessary.  We have those so we were good to go.  

A+ Interactive Math Review


Adisson has struggled with Math nearly as long as I can remember.  He's a bright kid who learned to read effortlessly but has never quite grasped math facts.  For many years, I was convinced that one or both of us just wasn't trying hard enough.  Then, I realized that he just doesn't see the numbers in the same way I do.  He doesn't quite get the way it's all supposed to work.  Everyday, he has to remind himself the order in which calculations are to be made.  

My hope for the placement test was to see if we were making any progress.  We've tried several different approaches to math, honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you how many.  This year, however, it seems as though we've finally found the best way for him.  I wanted to see if he's been progressing.


A+ Interactive Math Review



When I explained to him what we were going to do, he instantly shut off, tuned me out, his eyes glazed over.  Math is a touchy subject for us anyway and to include the word test just ramped up his anxiety.  So, I told him this was just for him and I, that getting an answer incorrect was ok because it was showing us what areas still needed a little more work.  I reminded him that no one else would see his results.  He seemed to be ok with all of that so we proceeded.

When I started at the A+ Interactive Math homepage, I clicked on the Homeschool Online Log In button.  From there, I signed in with my log in information.  Then, I needed to "enroll" my students.  This just meant that I needed to set up student accounts for my boys.  I set-up their accounts with their own username and password information.  

On the parent side, my options are Review Adaptive Placement Test, View Student Reports, View Student Lesson Plan and How To Get Started? (Video Tutorials).  Ok, so I am a rebel and it seemed easy enough to get started so I skipped the tutorial  (Thank you, A+ Interactive Math, for your user friendly interface that gave me the confidence to skip the tutorial!)  I did some clicking around review test and student reports, but there's not much to review until your student has actually taken a test.

Enter test subject, my sixth grader.  In the interest of full disclosure, he tested at a grade level below his current one.  I gave him his log in information that I had previously set up and he was directed to the student side.  Once there, his options were the same.  He could select Take Adaptive Placement Test, View My Reports, View My Lesson Plan, and How to Get Started? (Video Tutorials).  We were ready to get started on the testing, so he selected Take Adaptive Placement Test.  

Lo and behold, he did not leave the computer in tears.  The test is broken down into sections by concept (multiplication, division, fractions, etc.) so he would be taking one small test at a time.  The test is timed.  Each section has a time limit and each question has a time limit.  There is a countdown clock in the upper corner.  Despite hating timed events, and even on the problems where he needed his scratch paper, he solved each question in the allotted time.  Additionally, each test was only a dozen questions or less.  He was thrilled that the tests were relatively quick.  

After he finished a few tests, I logged in to the parent side of things to see how well he did.  I was happy to see that despite a few incorrect answers on each test, he was still passing them and placing at grade level for each concept.  The biggest thing I learned from this testing is that it's working.  What is "it"?  We are going slow and steady.  We aren't progressing quickly, we aren't working on grade level, we aren't racing through, we aren't demanding success.  We are approaching math in a slow and steady way.  And it's working.

A+ Interactive Math has some incredible freebies being offered that you don't want to miss.  They are listed below:

Free Math Placement Test
Free Family Math Packages
Free Software Download
Free Single Grade Level
Free eBook

A few additional resources to check out:

Top 12 Reasons to use "Adaptive Placement Test & Lessons"
Top 12 Reason to use "Family Math Package"

Additionally, there is currently a HUGE SALE on the Family Math Package and Adaptive Placement Test.  Check out the details HERE!

Don't forget to find A+ Interactive Math 
on your favorite social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/APlusTutorSoft
Twitter: https://twitter.com/aplustutorsoft
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aplustutorsoft




A+ Interactive Math Review






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Friday, May 1, 2015

Preschool Curriculum by LaLaLogic (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

It's always exciting to find fun and educational resources for my youngest son, Jaxon.  We were both excited when we received the opportunity to review the Preschool Curriculum from LaLaLogic.  

La La Logic Review

LaLaLogic is an online curriculum with printable resources available.  A computer and internet connection is needed.  When it was time to get started, we would log in to LaLaLogic.  I typed the log in information, but as soon as Jaxon knew where to click to get started, he was able to navigate easily on his own.  Once logged in, we had the option to get started with the preschool curriculum, extra practice, or to launch the brain challenge mode.  


Preschool Curriculum


On this page, we found 100 weekly schedules.  Each week there are computer games, a printable worksheet, and activities to do.  After I downloaded the PDF for the week,  I found a suggested schedule to follow for the week.  The schedule includes both online activities and enrichment activities.  Some of the enrichment activities included reading a story (provided in the download), discussing the story, nature study, math suggestions, and copy work. 

I know many people who are worried about too much screen time for young children.  I did not find that the screen time was excessive at all.  The games were fun for Jaxon and he enjoyed them.  Additionally, since there are so many go-along activities to do each week, it becomes less about the screen and more about the time spent together being intentional with learning.  I'm sure it helps that we are a tech-geared family and find learning computer skills early are just as important as learning to hold a pencil. 


Extra Practice

La La Logic Review


The extra practice section was a great place to spend some more time on games Jaxon found difficult or perhaps games that he enjoyed the most.  He struggled a bit with the Missing Parts Puzzle games he encountered.  We practiced with that game in particular for a bit so I could help him understand what was being asked.  He LOVED the game Card War.  It's probably because he was recently introduced to the card game War by his big brothers and he asks to play it nearly everyday.  He always got so excited when Card War was part of his learning for the day.


Brain Challenge Mode

La La Logic Review

This mode consists of all of the activities available and in the order in which they are presented in the lessons.  The lessons progressed in difficulty and were offered as a way to spend more time practicing the skills being taught.   This option can start at Session 1, 10, 20, 30, and so forth.  Once a session starting point is selected, the challenge mode began automatically and only stopped when Jax decided he was finished for the day.  

Our Thoughts

I really enjoyed LaLaLogic.  I liked the layout and the ease of use for me as a parent and for Jaxon as a preschooler.  I thought the games were fun and interactive and covered a broad spectrum of skills.  Jaxon also enjoyed LaLaLogic.  He's got a bit of a behavioral issue that we are learning how to understand so we definitely had to work around his mood for the day.  I know that we can just pick up right where we left off each week and get started again.  I plan to continue to use LaLaLogic's preschool curriculum throughout the summer and into Jaxon's Kindergarten year.  

Find LaLaLogic on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lalalogic

La La Logic Review



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