Teach Your Monster to Read

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I just wanted to share this website because my daughter really enjoys it. I know she is 8, and she doesn’t really need this website (she reads pretty well), but we stumbled across it about two months ago and she likes getting on here almost everyday.

I can hear her laughing and squealing as the game plays out. I would say it’s probably best for ages 8 and under.

Check it out Teach Your Monster to Read

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A Child’s History of the World Review

So before the summer started this year, I had started Story of the World along side A Child’s History of the World for our History curriculum. I had found a neat website that tried to line up the two books as much as possible, but it became overwhelming trying to get everything organized with two separate books and two different ways to tell the story.

So I needed to switch things, new idea: just use/read through A Child’s History of the World starting and then start SOTW afterwards.

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A Child’s History of the World because it was ‘supposed to be geared towards younger children’. My kids liked it a little, maybe. At first they enjoyed it, then the consent groans, and ‘that book is boring’. So after our first 6 weeks of kinda torturing my kids and myself (actually we skipped it most days)…. I decided to STOP!

So we are about to start our 7th week of school, our 3rd BLOCK. We are going back to and staying with Story of the World. Staring with Ancients. I got ours off Amazon, but I’ve seen them in the bookstores, along with the audio version at our library. We also picked up the Activity guide, which seems worth the money.

Not to mention: Check out these cool videos that correspond with parts of the entire series of SOTW.

Anyways, back to the actual review.

It is definitely written in a younger-child oriented way. It is kind of like your grandpa is telling you an old story, but sometimes it seems a little fake. My kids just didn’t connect with the story at all. They really liked the first few chapters, then got bored. It’s not in-depth at all, so it was a little hard to explain things to them, when I felt like each day we were talking about a completely different subject. No immersion at all. I tried sticking with it, because of all the other rave reviews it had gotten, but in the end, we just can’t keep wasting time on it, when I have another (better) resource.

I think I may recommend it to someone with 3-5 year olds who just want to ‘skim’ history. The thing about books is not everyone likes everything. So what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. I don’t think it’s so bad that I’d throw it away, but we will never pick it up again. If anyone wants my copy for cheap, email me 🙂

I would LOVE to hear about other History curriculums. And other people’s takes on what to do AFTER SOTW? Do you just start back at Book 1, or switch entirely?

Enjoying Explode the Code

Since we started homeschooling over a year ago, we have been using these amazing books.  I read about Explode the Code online, and thought it seemed like a good way to go.   And I was right.

The books are easy to understand and are laid out nicely. They all follow the same basic pattern, so once you finish one and go to the next, it’s easy because you already know what to do, the content is just a little more challenging.

Turner started out with Book 1 and is now using Book 3, at the beginning of his 2nd grade year (he technically should be on Book 4, but there was a 2-3 month span last year where we didn’t use them… oh well).

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Lilly started out with Beyond the Code Books A, B, and C in Kindergarten. She really liked them. She is now on Book 1 1/2.

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Yes, I have had my kids use the 1/2 books as well. I have mentioned before we like to work for mastery in subjects before advancing, so I wanted to be sure they were where they needed to be. However, Turner is such a better reader, and we may just go straight to 4 this time around.

We use these books 4 days of the week and they do 2-4 pages each time.  They like to listen to classical music while working on them. It’s takes about 15 minutes for this, so it’s quick and fun.

*They do offer an online version, however, I wanted my kids to have that extra handwriting practice and less screen time, so we opt for the workbooks.  I also order mine off Amazon with Prime Shipping, but I see deals on them all the time through Homeschool sites.

Would LOVE to hear your thoughts on Explode the Code:  how they did or didn’t work for you.

*There is a short video of my son using Book 3 on our Facebook page.

Easy Peasy…. is it really easy?

I was thinking about a completely free homeschooling resource called Easy Peasy today.  We have been using this for about 5-6 months now.  However, not all subjects. At first, I was a little overwhelmed with understanding how to maneuver the site and find my way around, but with a little patience and some reading, I figured it out soon enough.

The site has everything K to 12. We mainly use it for art study, science and some history.  We also use the McGuffey Readers daily.

My kids were in K and 1 when we started using this after Christmas.  It seemed short and too the point, everything laid out, so not too much work involved.  On the flip side, everything may be laid out, but do I agree with “everything”, do I think that “everything” is enough?

A few thoughts:

1.  Math is WAY too easy, First Year Math is better suited for Pre-K to me, maybe Kinder.  The older years may be more of a challenge, I haven’t looked, but I personally wouldn’t recommend EP for elementary Math.

2. EP has you do each subject daily.  We tried it and it didn’t work for us, I felt to rushed to get it all in without really taking time to talk about things, just click on links and do them sort of thing. It never seemed in depth enough, so we now do either Science of History each day, not both.  I feel like the material is being covered better and the kids are more relaxed.

3. EP has you start at Day 1 and follow it in order.  We like to skip around though.  We decide what we want to learn about and look to see what resources EP has for that subject, i.e. birds. You would find EP’s bird unit in Zoology.  Then maybe we want to do the Human Body, so we hop over to Biology and study that.  EP has it laid out pretty nicely to find what you want.

4. I like some of the games and videos we get to link to, I probably never would have found them myself, but the site tends to repeat itself a lot, and we just skip those days.

5. Lap books, lap books, lap books.  When I first started homeschooling I thought lap books were fun and exciting and so did my kids, but after the 4th one they get a bit…. boring.  So we find other activities to do instead and haven’t done a lap book in 4 months.  I would rather my kids go outside and observe birds to see differences, etc than fill out a lap book when they are in K and 1.  They get more out of it.

Wrapping it up:  Easy Peasy is a good resource and I would recommend it to other families.  Make sure you are doing what is best for your style of teaching and just because it says you should take a quiz one day, maybe skip it, maybe quizzes aren’t for your kiddo right now.  Maybe doing their 10th lap book isn’t either.

Look around the site and get ideas to inspire to do other things.  It’s free, why not try it out and see if it works for you.

Has anyone else used the site?  What do you use it for?

 

*These are my own opinions.

2nd/1st grade — 2014-2015 year

For this year, we are going to try to be more un-schooling than we had in the past, more relaxed, more interest based learning.  I guess you could call it relaxed-schooling. My kids love the idea and my son dragged me to the library to get 5 books on the Titanic, both non-fiction and fiction. I LOVED the excitement on his face and am going to surprise them both with a trip to the  Titanic Museum in Branson, MO, when we finish all those books 🙂

I really like to think of our school as 1/3 Un-Schoolers, 1/3 Classical, and 1/3 Charlotte Mason.  We pull things from all three and use the ideas that work for us. We like the laid-back, interest led learning from Un-schoolers, the organization and planning of Classical, and the Living Literature of Charlotte Mason.

Turner will be a 2nd grader, and Lilly a 1st grader. However, we have them working what is comfortable and challenging to them, not based on grade level. Generally, they are a little ahead of PS kids in most subjects.

Math: Khan Academy and Miquon. I have my eye on Beast Academy once they finish up Miquon. They both work 1 grade level above where they need to be, Turner will be 2 grade levels above by next summer.

History:  Story of the World Ancients and A Child’s History of the World (they LOVE these books and find them very interesting). *Update: I am actually starting with Child’s World History and when we finish up we start SOTW. It was too confusing to try and match the 2 books, so I think CHW will be nice to introduce all of history and then start diving in deeper.

Science:  Easy Peasy for this year (Biology, The Human Body, and Zoology).

Spelling: Explode the Code, Love these books for spelling and reading concepts. Have used them since day 1.

Reading:  We keep a reading and audiobook log. The kids each read to me daily. We also have a CLASS BOOK that I read aloud.

Foreign Language:  Turner asked to learn Spanish, so I just signed up for an online program, PetraLingua. *Update: Used for 3-4 times, Turner and I don’t like it, boring and not really retaining much. Lilly, however likes it, so I will continue to let her use it until she feels the same. Searching for another option for Turner.

Critical Thinking Skills:  Both kids are using products from Critical Thinking Company a few times a week. They really enjoy them so far: Spider Riddles 1 and MindBenders.  I also just purchased Building Thinking Skills from the same company that they will do 1-2 times a week.

Code: Turner will start Scratch this year, and Jason is helping him with his own website.

Music: Both kids take weekly piano lessons. Practice on our keyboard almost daily.

PE:  Turner is active in BMX; Lilly in ballet.  Both kids run and bike with us almost daily. We all compete in 1-2 competitions a year. The kids do Youth Triathlons and seem to really like them. Find one in your area, TRIFIND

Other: BrainPop Jr. (Kids love it!), misc. documentaries, Chess, Magic Tree House site, board/card games, online typing (2015)

Reviews of what my kids used for K & 1….

We are “finishing” up this year 2013-2014, T is in 1st, L in Kindergarten.  We homeschool year round, but the end of June they do get a 2 week break and then they move up to the next grade level (however, my kids work in all different grade levels, I use this primarily as a resource to make sure they don’t fall behind others and to keep the state happy).  Our focus is on mastery/understanding of the subject rather than what ‘grade level’ they are in (and each subject is different).

Math: Miquon Math– T has used this since Kindergarten (at first it was hard to understand, but after using it for a few weeks I got the hang of it, and he likes it. I love how it challenges him and jumps around different concepts, like multiplication and division even in book 1 (and he gets it). L just started using it in May.  The First Grade Diaries is a waste (I think), I never used it.

Math: Khan Academy– LOVE this site, completely FREE and my kids really enjoy it also. I even used it when I was in college to help reinforce what I was learning.  It claims it starts at a 3rd grade level, but my Kinder does fine with it and likes it also.

Math: I had gotten both kids Spectrum grade 1 (L) and grade 2 (T), the kids did 1-2 pages a day for while, but once again, very repetitive, and the kids really didn’t like them, so we went to Khan Academy and haven’t looked back 🙂

Science/History: Easy Peasy– I use this on and off, it’s also Free.  Science so far is my favorite on there and the reading list is nice. We focused on Zoology this year. We love nature hikes and geocaching as well.

Spelling: Explode the Code books- T started out with book 1, and he seems to like them okay, I really think they have helped him with reading and spelling. L started her Kindergarten year with Before the Code A, and has went all the way through to Book 1 1/2, which she is on now.

Music: We got the kids a keyboard for Christmas and T has taken to it the most, however, both kids play on it about 10 minutes a day. They have made a lot of progress. I recommend Alfred’s Basic Piano.  I am not musical at all, but was able to sit down and teach myself the entire book in a few days.

Reading:  We do a TON of reading, they read, I read, we listen to audiobooks in the car, and stories before bed.

T also used Daily Trait Writing for Grade 1 and Scholastic Writing this year.  I do like them, however, we are trying to be more interest-based and with the $25 price tag (daily trait), I think we will pass for this next year. Trying to move toward quality not quantity. He also used 100 Words you Need to Know Before 1st Grade/2nd Grade and Word Ladders, Turner is just now starting to enjoy WordLadders since he can read the description himself, it’s like a riddle to solve.

L used Kumon books in the beginning and they did help her a lot, but became very repetitive and boring after a while.

Would love to hear what you use and if you have used Miquon Math and what you think of the higher level books?   Also, I am looking for some good resources for Science/experiments.

A thought on Curriculum

Throughout the last year and a half, I have read and reread about so much curriculum it gives me a headache.  Choosing a curriculum, if you do that sort of thing, can be daunting and it can burn you out before you even start your homeschooling adventure.  I think the best thing to do, is to follow your heart, not your head.  That will lead to a love of learning that will be instilled in your children, or we can at least hope!

It’s easy to compare your kids to other kids, but remember they are all individuals, with the same goal in mind, but maybe not the same path chosen to get there. The program you choose needs to work for both the child and the parent, or success won’t be there.  You are a team and must work, learn, and grow as a team to ensure all goals are met. If your child really hates that Math book, put it down and find something else (it will save you from having to constantly battle with them to do Math anyway). The same goes for every subject or activity.  We have switched many times because I want my kids to love school and learning.

If you are finding you aren’t sure what to get, go to a convention so you can see first hand, before you buy, what it’s all about, with your kids and make sure you’re on the same page.

Our ultimate goal is for our kids to be happy and successful in whatever they pursue, and to raise well-behaved and outgoing individuals. I don’t think it matters if I pick (insert name here) or (insert name here), as long as they like it and understand it.