Friday, August 17, 2012

Vocab Videos - a review

Over the years people have always commented on what extensive vocabularies our children have. We attribute this to not "dumbing down" our conversations with them. We have always used "big" words around them and when talking to them, thus increasing their vocabularies. They are also read to a lot, and not just books on their level, but books just a bit beyond their level and this to leads to a more extensive vocabulary.

Them hearing words used in context is, in my opinion, the best way to teach new vocabulary words. Long lists of words that they have to memorize the meaning to is just not as effective as actually hearing the word used. This is the concept that Vocab Videos uses to teach vocabulary. The program is designed for late middle school and high school students to prepare for the SAT. It is a great concept, and a great way to introduce vocabulary. Each word has a short episode that uses the word in a "real world" situation. There are 20 words for each set of episodes. After your student has watched all the videos there are worksheets and quizzes they can take to make sure they have retained the knowledge. As I said, this is an amazing concept. Students are going to retain more information if it is used in a real way, and not just a list in a vocabulary book.

Paul is a little young for this product, being only in the 6th grade. However, I felt he could benefit from it because he does have a strong vocabulary and loves to increase his vocabulary. It ended up that I used the program some for myself, and did not allow him to use it. The concept is wonderful, and for most high school students, most of the content is appropriate. However, for my 10 year old, I was not ok with some of the content. The videos are inundated with poor attitudes toward authority figures as well as terminology that I don't allow used in our home "oh my God", "Good Lord", and several slang terms that I don't want my children listening to.

On the whole this is a phenomenal way to increase vocabulary, and I totally understand that many people do not have the same views as our family does and would see great benefits from this program.

It is also very reasonably priced at $24.99 for a 6 month subscription or $39.99 for a full year. This individual subscription gets you full access to the library of 500 videos as well as all the study resources (quizzes, worksheets, flashcard maker and crossword puzzles.

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for a review on my blog. There was no other compensation given for this review. All opinions stated here are my own, honest opinions.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Math Made Easy - a review

We have reviewed several Math programs in the past that have worked on memorization of math facts. They have been fun, but nothing has "stuck" with Zachary and his addition facts. Neither of my boys are strong in Math, so I remember going through this with Paul. It took until he was probably 9 before he got his addition facts. I am trying to work on Zach's now, but trying not to push too hard.

I really wanted him to have his addition facts down before we moved on to other Math concepts. I decided that this summer we would exclusively work on addition facts. So, it was perfect when I was given the opportunity to review Math Made Easy. We reviewed "Addition: Teaching and Learning Made Easy". This curriculum is for 1st and 2nd graders but could also be used for an advanced Kindergartener or for an older special needs child. It is reasonably priced for $24.95 and you are given permission to photocopy the pages for use within your own family.

The concept of the curriculum is to learn all the addition facts in 6 weeks. The beginning of the book explains that the 0's and 1's are so easy that those are taken out, and then after the child learns the commutative property of addition (ie: 4+2 is the same as 2+4) then there are basically 36 addition facts left to learn. If you break that down in to 6 weeks there are only 6 addition facts to learn each week. "Math Made Easy" intentionally makes the 6 facts for each week random, they do not teach the patterns of addition. For example, the equations for week one are 2+6, 3+9, 6+8, 2+5, 4+4, and 3+3.

The curriculum is one book with worksheets for each day of the week for 6 weeks.

The worksheets vary slightly from week to week, but in general there is a color by number for Monday, a code to figure out on Tuesday, a cut and paste for Wednesday, a simple addition worksheets on Thursday and then a "problem of the week" on Friday. In the back of the book there are perforated flash cards labeled for each week. And a couple of games on card stock to review the facts each week. There are also review exercises at the back of the book to use for each week. The lesson plans at the front of the book give you a general guideline as to how the program works and also encourages you to use whatever manipulatives you have on hand to introduce the facts.

What we like:

Zach really enjoyed the worksheets and they gave him the right mix of variety and consistency. It was a great way for us to review the facts and really get them in his head. Since he has had exposure to the facts they weren't new and therefore it was perfect for him. He has really made a great deal of progress on getting those facts memorized, and enjoyed it at the same time.

What we didn't like:

This should actually be what "I" didn't like because Zach did not complain at all. The games were pretty simple and he was bored with them quickly, but he never complained about it.

Personally we have always used patterns in math to teach addition. For example, we have taught adding 9's by making 10, and adding doubles has always been taught together, so we would work on 2+2, 3+3, 4+4 etc at the same time. This makes sense to me in my very "pattern oriented" brain. This program doesn't teach the patterns at all. It is just random facts. I think that for Zach who finally understands the concept of addition, and has some of these patterns in his head already this program works well for reviewing and concreting those facts. I would not use it if I were just starting to teach addition. It also does not offer a lot of review in the worksheet portion. We reviewed each week with the flashcards and games from the previous week, but the worksheets themselves only offer that weeks equations.

Again, this is the perfect solution for a child who has the concept of addition down, and knows the patterns in addition but needs some extra work on memorizing those facts. It has worked perfectly for Zach, and I am so thankful that it came at exactly the right time for us to use it...isn't God amazing!!!

Math Made Easy also offers the same program for multiplication. Some of our TOS Homeschool Review Crew got to review that program. You can see reviews for both programs by clicking on the banner below.

Disclosure: I received the above product for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog. There was no other compensation given for the review. All opinions are my own, honest opinion.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

New Doctor...New Thoughts!

I mentioned in my last post that we would be seeing a specialist (perinatologist) this week. We saw him yesterday, and wow, do we feel better!

The first doctor I saw, after a little bit of a scare, gave us a bigger scare and put me on bed rest just over two weeks ago. They said this would be how it was until the baby was born, and that would probably be extremely early with lots of time in the NICU. We know we have a BIG GOD, and knew He was capable of changing this. So, we did what the doctor said and prayed that whatever happened we would end up with a healthy baby.

We were originally supposed to see the perinatologist or high-risk doctor in mid-August, because of my "advanced maternal age". With the other "complications" the appointment was moved up to yesterday. The appointment could not have gone better. I have been released from bed rest and told I could do "whatever I feel like doing"! This does not mean that this pregnancy is going to be without complications, and I am still dealing with two very large fibroids that are actually quite painful. But, for now, I am up and about, and couldn't be happier! The doctor was very encouraging and much more knowledgeable about the fibroids and how all this is going to go. I will most likely end up on bed rest again, but for now I am happy to be up and moving!

Here I am at 19 weeks:

So, on to the even bigger news...
The baby looks perfect!

Baby weighs in at about 10 oz, which is in the 50% for the gestational age. Every measurement they took was perfect. The fibroids are still there and very large. One is above the baby and one below. But, baby has lots of room to grow. The doctor said my uterus was plenty big enough for everything. Steve commented to him that he was calling me fat! He said Steve was putting words in his mouth!
And, the news everyone was dying to hear after they heard the baby was fine....

We went out today to run a few errands and Paul found the perfect shirt for his new baby brother:

And then an outfit to fit Zach's taste:

Praise the Lord that everything looks awesome! We serve an AWESOME God. He has a plan, and we just trust in HIM and know that He is in control! That's not always easy, but it's what we have to do!

I will go to the perinatologist every four weeks for now and that will probably be more often as I get further along.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bed Rest Day 14!

Today marks 2 weeks of having to lay around the house and do nothing! Steve says he wants to try it for just a day or two! I keep telling him it's no fun, but he thinks he could handle it for a while.

Speaking of Steve, I have to say I have the most amazing hubby ever! He has been both Mom and Dad during these past two weeks, and has done an amazing job. The house is still standing (and actually fairly clean!), the kids all have clean laundry, we have all eaten, he has not missed any work, and he has been so caring and loving toward me. He has taken the kids swimming and four wheeler riding and even pulled off a birthday party for Zach. His sister was a huge help there! He has had some amazing help from our moms, sisters and our church has been such a blessing bringing meals by all the time. But, overall, the majority of the work has fallen on him, and he has handled it so well! I am amazed! And so glad the Lord gave me such a wonderful man as a husband and a Daddy to our 4 amazing children!

It is such a blessing to see how many people care about our family! I am amazed at how everyone pulls together and helps. The kids have been so good too! They have played way more Wii and watched way more tv than normal, but that's ok too!

Now, tomorrow I get to get out of the house and go to the specialist (high-risk dr). We are hoping for a little more information and maybe a temporary release from bed rest. We know God is in control of this pregnancy and we know He is amazing and can work miracles, that is what we are praying for. He is our Support and our Comfort during whatever the appointment holds tomorrow. Please pray for the baby's health, and the wisdom of the doctors!

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