Friday, June 22, 2012

Pregnancy Week 13

I just completed my 13th week!!!! Wooohooo for the 2nd trimester starting!

I had a doctor's appointment this week and everything is going well. We saw a quick ultrasound and the baby is already very active with arms and legs moving everywhere. It was really amazing to see a little tiny person moving around in there. The weeks between doctor's appointments it's easy to wonder if there really is a tiny person growing inside of me. Forget the fact that I am extremely exhausted, and gaining size like crazy, there are no real signs to tell me that the little person is still doing well, so it was great to see a quick glimpse of this new life!

How am I feeling? This seems to be the most common question I get these days! I am still tired, but not as tired as I was a few weeks ago. I have two large (softball sized) fibroids that we are praying the Lord will take away. They are causing some pain and discomfort and it would be best if the Lord would miraculously take them away! Food does not yet taste like it should, and I cannot handle the smell of uncooked beef or chicken, so that is making cooking quite a challenge! I am eating lots of pinto beans, fruit, granola bars, Lara Bars, and baked potatoes. I am craving anything that tastes normal, but I can't find anything yet!

What's going on inside of me? The kids are always asking how big the baby is now and what parts of the body are forming. Well by now all the baby's major organs as well as body parts are formed. He/she does still look like a tiny little alien, but all the parts are there! The baby is about 3 to 3 1/2 inches long!

What do the kids think? The kids are excited. Molly wants a baby girl and says it's just not fair if there's another boy in the family. She does say she will love it no matter what. Zach wants another boy, but he doesn't really know why. Paul doesn't care either way, he just can't wait to have a baby. Although he is a little concerned about Mommy's growing size! I think when we find out what it is in a few weeks and decide on a name they will get even more excited!

So, that's what's going on with the pregnancy! I will try to get some pics of my ever expanding belly soon...maybe next week.

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lXL Math - a review

As I have mentioned before we like to keep going with Math and Reading throughout the summer. It keeps me from spending weeks on review when we start the "official" school year back in late summer or early fall.

This year we were given a review that I really thought could help with this process.

IXL is a computer based learning program that is completed online and is for pre-k through high school students. Paul already has as a computer program he uses for Math so I wanted to try this one with Zach and Molly (upcoming 2nd grader and Kindergartener).

There is a list of topics for each grade level to work on and the parent or the student can choose which topic they want to work on. This is totally a review of concepts, it is not designed to teach the topic, so it's the perfect thing for summer review.

Molly worked on her counting skills as well as sorting, measuring, and graphs. I liked that, since she is pretty varied in her skill levels, I was able to pick some skills from the pre-k level and some skills from the Kindergarten level. This worked well for her and helped her to work on concepts she needed to work on instead of having to go through a set order of concepts. As you complete a concept worksheet you are given a virtual sticker as a reward. At Molly's age I did have to sit with her much of the time to make sure she was on task and understood what she was supposed to be doing.

Molly loved these stickers!

I had Zach work on some review of his addition facts, which he is really struggling with. He was quickly bored by the way the information was presented and was not interested in earning virtual stickers. I tended to agree with Zach and found the many questions quite tedious and boring. It was pretty much a worksheet on the computer, not a fun and engaging math activity. My kids aren't allowed alot of computer time so they aren't necessarily looking for dazzling and exciting, but something more than just question after question would have kept his attention a bit longer.

I tried to entice Zach into during it by showing him the printable reward sheets he could earn, but he was still not interested. I know Paul would have loved this type thing when he was younger, but it just wasn't Zach's thing. If your child enjoys worksheets (like Paul always did) then this is the perfect program to add a little spice to the worksheet. It does do a great job of reviewing concepts and keeping their minds sharp over the summer.

IXL offers two ways to pay for the program, monthly and yearly. This gives you access to all levels. You can add as many additional children as you need for $2/month or $20/year. Check out all the options on their website.

Be sure and check out the other reviews from The SchoolHouse Review Crew

Disclaimer: I received the above product for free for a limited time in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. There was no other compensation given for this review.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reading Street 3rd Grade - a review

Although school is officially out for the summer we try to keep going with Reading and basic Math skills. I don't want the kids to lose everything they learned and I don't want their brains to go into hibernation so they have to be woke back up when we officially start school back! They don't typically mind the little bit of "school" they do each morning and it gives us some sort of routine to our day.

This year, for Zach, I was given the opportunity to review a new Reading Program, so that's what we started using for "summer learning". Pearson Education has been known for many years in the public school system and they are now trying to venture in to the world of homeschoolers, and trying to make their products work for homeschooling families. We were given their 3rd Grade Reading program to review, called "Reading Street". Zach is only 6 and going into the 2nd grade but he is a very strong reader so I thought he could handle this.

When I first heard about the program I assumed it was just a reading program, boy, was I wrong. It is so much more than that. It encompasses every aspect of reading and language arts.

We were given the two "reading books" that are very similar to the reading books I remember having in public school as a child. They are the typical gorgeous hard-back book with brightly colored pages and full of lots of fun stories for the students to read as they progress through the books. The books are broken down into Units with 6 weeks of reading comprising each unit. There are a total of 6 units, thus 36 weeks of instruction are included. Each unit has a different theme and all the stories and poems go with that theme. The six themes of the year are:

Living and Learning
Smart Solutions
People and Nature
One of a Kind

Each week there are different language arts and writing skills to work on. The student is introduced to different writing styles and genres. There are also specific comprehension skills worked on as well as vocabulary and spelling skills to be taught. There is really just a ton of information.

We were also given a "Guide on the Side" which is definitely designed with the public school teacher in mind. Here you will find a scope and sequence as well as tips on how to schedule all the components of language arts into the school day. The sections include:

Oral Language
Word Work
Genre/Text Structure
Concept Development
Media Literacy

The last section is "Teacher Resources" where you will find more information on what each story in the reader teaches, spelling lists for each unit, vocabulary for each week, and a glossary. The "Guide on the Side" was a bit overwhelming and I have taught in the public schools and seen this type of guide before. I cannot imagin how confusing it would be to someone who has never seen this type of information presented this way in the past. Although it is jammed full of information, like I said, it is definitely written for a classroom teacher who has to keep up with state standards, and juggle a classroom full of kids at varying abilities.

Also included in our package were two DVD-ROMs. A Teacher's Resource DVD-ROM and an ExamView DVD-ROM. The Teachers's Resource DVD-ROM is full of worksheets and other helpful add-ons to the curriculum. Everything is broken down into the unit so it is easy to navigate and find what you need. Now, I am sure in the public schools most all of these worksheets are utilized. To me, it seems like way too much busy-work so we only used them to reinforce a concept Zach didn't quite understand.


So, as you can see there was a ton of information to look through when we first received our package. This is not an "open-and-go" curriculum. It definitely takes a little time to get used to how the information is presented and how to schedule it into the day. There is a sample schedule in the "Guide on the Side" but it is definitely written for classroom instruction. It is suggested to spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours each day on the included activities. If we were to do all the suggested worksheets I can see how you could spend that much time in a classroom. However, that is not how Zach learns. His brain would shut down 30 minutes into the day! So, we tweaked the program and did it our way, and we LOVE it. Zach loves to read so reading the stories was great fun for him. He loved the shiny book and the colorful pages with gorgeous illustrations (although some of the pages are a bit busy and he would get sidetracked easily). Like I mentioned, we used the worksheets only as needed for reinforcement. Instead, we talked about the concepts and did some of the activities orally. Zach does NOT like writing so we did not do the writing aspect of the program except to talk about the concepts. I will most likely schedule some of the writing in when we resume a full schedule in a couple of weeks. I did find some of the reading very simple for Zach, but he is a pretty advanced reader. It was really great read-aloud practice for him and a great confidence booster. There are also lots of different types of reading selections from all types of fiction, to non-fiction, to poetry.

We will continue to use the curriculum into next school year just in our own way. That's the beauty of homeschooling-I can tweak each curriculum to meet the needs of each child. Also, the books are non-consumable so I will be able to use whatever parts of the curriculum I feel Molly (and the new baby) may need in years to come.

You can purchase the entire set for $124.99. They also have other grade levels as well as wonderful programs for Math and Social Studies. The Crew reviewed several different products. Click the banner below to see the reviews!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. There was no other compensation given for this review. All opinions stated here are my own.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Miracles Never Cease!

Well, I am not even sure where to begin! I guess I'll begin at the beginning! Steve and I have been married for 16 wonderful years! We have three wonderful children, who were all huge miracles through adoption! They are currently 10, 6, and 5.

We were very happy with our three kiddos and were more than thrilled with God's plan that our family was formed through adoption. Then, God showed us He wasn't done with His plan. On our 16th wedding anniversary, one day before our daughter turned 5, I saw something I have never seen before.....a positive pregnancy test!!!!

So, our three kids will now be four!

And our family of 5, will become a family of 6!

I am in my 12th week and feeling much better then I was in earlier weeks!

We are still in shock, but of course we are overjoyed with another child joining our family! The kids are SO excited! Molly has been praying for a new baby for months now! It is so neat to see her watch God in action! When we told her she started thanking God! It was the sweetest thing ever!

I will try to keep the blog updated as the pregnancy progresses. So far, everything looks great and the baby is growing beautifully!

For any family and close friends who didn't know until now: Sorry it was through a blog post. We tried to tell everyone but between mine and Steve's large families it's hard to make sure everyone is covered!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mobile Education Apps - Rainbow Sentences

The kids love to "play" on my iPad. It has honestly been more of a learning tool then I ever thought it would be. As most of my readers know I seriously limit any screen time for my kiddos. We don't do alot of the high-graphics games you can get for the iPad, but the learning games are awesome and the kids don't even know they're learning!

Mobile Education Apps has a new app, Rainbow Sentences, that is designed for 3 to 10 year olds and helps them learn sentence structure. Rainbow Sentences takes all the parts (the who, what, where, when and why) of the sentences and color codes them to help the child learn how to put the sentence in order.

There are many options for different levels of learners. The simplest level, that my 5 year old enjoyed at first was just two parts of the sentence and she would drag the sentence parts to the same color line at the top of the screen. She loved doing this and trying to read the sentences. She is a beginning reader, so the reading part was difficult for her. I did feel the simpler sentences should have had more CVC words that were more easily decoded for beginning readers. Zach, my 6 year old, quickly progressed through the various levels and was soon putting sentences together without any color coding. He loved that he could read and record his voice after he put the sentence in order. Sentence structure is something we really worked on in 1st grade this year, and I think this really helped him understand the concept a little more.

As you work on the sentences you unlock puzzle pieces as a reward. Both of my little ones loved this!

My 10 year old worked on this a couple of times, at my urging. He, however, found it quite simple and boring. The app says for ages 3-10, but I think 10 is stretching it a bit...but it totally depends on the child. Paul has a firm grasp of sentence structure so it was probably just too easy for him. He did enjoy helping Molly read the sentences and recording his voice. All the kids were amazed at how their recorded voices sounded!

The app is available for $7.99 through the iTunes App Store.

Disclaimer: I received this app for free in exchange for my honest opinion on this blog. There was no other compensation given for this review, and all opinions are my own, honest opinions.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad