It is That Time of the Year . . .

It is that time of the year when homeschool families are busy planning for their next year and (hopefully) attending homeschool conventions.  If you haven’t been to one before, I encourage you to attend at least one.

The very first convention we attended was quite interesting.  It was a bit rough (an understatement).  Our youngest was 7 months old at the time and since she was nursing she had to go with us.  The trip threw her off which threw us off.  One of the nights I think it was 5 AM before the baby (and I) finally fell asleep.  Despite the few bumps we did enjoy ourselves.  Last year, it was just hubby and I that attended the convention and then in the fall we attended the Special Needs Conference for the first time.  This year will be our third year attending the convention.  I am looking forward to the time away with hubby!

There is a vendor hall and you will meet dozens of vendors.  Some vendors you may have heard about and others are new.  You get to see the curriculum in person, flip through it, have any questions answered.   Most vendors offer some sort of convention special whether it is a percentage off, a free item, or free shipping (Some offer some sort of combination).  If you are going to be attending multiple days, don’t plan on buying anything on the first day unless you know for 100% you need it.  Like the next level of curriculum that is totally working and you have no desires of changing it.  Collect brochures of booths that you stop at and take them back to your hotel room and look through them.  Make a note of any booths that you want to revisit and write down any questions that you have.  Go back and visit the booths again.

Workshops!  I absolutely love workshops!  After the weekend I come back refreshed and renewed!  There are 13 sessions at my local convention spread over two days.  Lots of hard decisions to make on which workshops to attend and which ones to catch on the audio recordings.  If your convention offers the workshops on audio files, it is worth it to buy a copy to listen to workshops throughout the year.

If you can swing it and stay at the host hotel, I highly recommend it.  The first two years we stayed off site and then for the conference this past fall we were able to stay on site.  It made a world of difference!   When you stay off site, you have to get up earlier, go eat, drive to the host hotel, wait in long lines to park (our convention has over 15,000 people attending – we have waited 30+ minutes to park) and then the time it takes to go from your car to get in.  Once you are there you are stuck there until you are ready to leave for the day.  With staying at the host hotel for the fall conference, I was able to get up and eat a quick bite and head over to the conference.  It was nice not having to deal with parking and the conference was tiny compared to the convention!  Hubby was able to sleep in and catch up with me later on in the morning.  We decided this year if we were able to get a room at the host hotel we would do that again.  The special convention rates at the hotel is only available for a very short time because it fills up quickly.  It was only available for a few weeks before the rooms were sold out.  If you want to stay on site plan to reserve your room early!

Some tips

  • Bring your own bottled water and snacks
    • Buying them onsite is EXPENSIVE!  I think it was a couple of dollars for one piece of fruit.  A few dollars for a can of soda or water.
  • Bring a rolling cart to carry purchases, catalogs, etc.
  • Print out address labels with your name, address, and email address for the vendor booths.
  • Wear comfy clothes and shoes.  Lots of walking is done!
  • Have fun!

Please share any other tips you may have for attending homeschool conventions!

Have a blessed day!

 

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Pictures

My girls love racing in the Awana Grand Prix.  For those who are familiar with the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby, this is similar and Awana Clubbers design cars and race them down the track.  This is our first year racing with this Club and they have a wooden track.  The Awana Club that our girls was in prior had a metal track.  Here are some pictures from the derby, including a shot of all of the winning cars for Speed, Design, and People’s Choice.  This year Lil’ Bit received 1st in Design and Peanut received 2nd in Design.

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Every year there is a big festival in our area.  There is a street parade one weekend and the boat parade the following year.  My dad has made it a tradition to take one or two of the kids with him on every parade he is in.  Before the street parade this year it had been raining and the girls weren’t in it.  For the boat parade however he took Lil’ Bit.  She had a blast on the boat with him and the others.  In between a break doing laundry (our washer broke and was doing laundry at my parent’s house) we watched the boat parade.  My parent’s neighbor invited us to watch the parade from his dock.  My parent’s have a view of the river from their house but do not actually live on the water.  Then the neighbor invited us to crash his next door neighbor’s party.  Where the party was being held was the same house that my dad and his brother’s grew up in and one of my uncles lived there for quite a few years, after my grandparents moved, before he sold it.  It brought back memories of all of the boat parade parties my grandparents and uncle had.  We even got permission from the current owner (who my family has known for years) to take a peek in the house, which I haven’t seen since my uncle lived there.
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Don’t mind the dust in the picture below!  It has been a while since my husband and I have been riding.  I am thinking it has been about three years since I have ridden my bike.  Yikes!  This year for the oldest three birthdays we got them new bikes so we can go riding together as a family.  I have a bike trailer to carry the two littles in.  Since the last of the spring birthdays was last week all three now have their bikes.  We went out to the park yesterday to ride for a few hours.  With the youngest two in the trailer I followed Peanut and Lil’ Bit around the park while David was working with Sweet Pea to ride on two wheels!  She was riding very well by herself.  Another few times and I think she will be fine.


The last two pictures are from when Sweet Pea and Lil’ Bit had an appointment to go to and we stopped by to get donuts on the way home.

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Have a blessed day!

{Review} Talking Fingers Inc.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

We had the pleasure of reviewing Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc.  My family received a one-year subscription for three users to review.  I grew up around computers.  It wasn’t a common thing in the late 70’s & early 80’s to have a computer in the house.  Since one of my dad’s hobbies was (and still is) computers there was a computer in the house long before I was born.  I learned how to type the word ‘run’ (in DOS) before I could write the word so I could play my games.  Since we are in the times where computers are used daily, classes are available online etc. it is very important to learn how to type correctly the first time and not have to reteach yourself how to type properly because you picked up bad habits early on.  I was thrilled when a program for younger children became available to the Crew to review.

 

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
Read, Write, & Type is an online program and there are no downloads needed to use it!  This program is geared for children ages 6-9.  The children learn to type correctly at the same time as learning how to read and write.

The teacher portal is nice.  When you log in as the parent there are links to the User Manual and Administrator Guide at the top of the page.  Then you have buttons for: Your Licenses, Your Associates, Your Students, Your Profile, and Logout.  Some of the features available on these pages are not necessarily used in a homeschool setting.  The teacher portal is set up to be used in a co-op and school setting as well.

Your Licenses
The default page when you log in is Your Licenses page.  There is a link to purchase additional licenses.  The link will take you to the page to purchase home and school software as well as a couple of books.  Your licenses will appear below the link.  Talking Fingers Inc. sells multiple online products and each will be linked on this page.  It will tell you how many slots you have purchased, how many slots are in use, and how many you have free.  Below that it will provide the details of how many licenses that are assigned to you, which product licenses you have, how many are in use, when they were purchased, who purchased them, when they are active, how many times they have been used.  One thing I have noticed is that the usage count doesn’t always change every time my children have logged in.  Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.  I log my children in myself before turning the computer over to them so I know they are being logged into the correct account.  For instance two of my three licenses that I received for this review were activated after the first license was.  It says that they have only logged in twice while the first license has logged in 119 times.  While I would like to say that one child has logged in 119 times I highly doubt that is the case for the length that we have been reviewing this product.  I know for absolute certainty that the other two licenses have logged in more than 2 times between the two of them.

Your Associates
I don’t have any experience using the Your Associates page but this is used in a co-op or school setting when adult associates are added to the account to manage student accounts.

Your Students
This is the page where all student data is located.  For me my three children using Read, Write & Type are listed.  I can add, modify, delete any of my licenses.  It lists my students individually, which license they are using, a place for supervisor information (not assigned in my case since I am using it in a homeschool setting), the level they are currently at, and the percentages for phonics, reading, spelling, and average.  When I click on each of my children I can edit their profile, including change the password, see their progress in Read, Write & Type, their grades, which lesson they are on and more.  I like the bar graph with their grades for each level.  It gives a quick view of how they are doing overall. In their profile, a nice feature is that you can set when they are allowed to log in, which days, and what you consider as passing.  You can also change the lesson settings for the child but it is advised to only make the change(s) when the student’s account is not currently using Read, Write & Type.  Changing the lesson settings allows you to move your child ahead or go back and review a section.  It will not change their scores.

Your Profile & Logout
Your Profile allows you to edit all of your information such as name, address, email, and password.  The Logout button of course logs you out of your account.

Read, Write & Type is popular with my girls and they enjoy playing the games.  They have also tried to stall going to bed by asking to play it.

When my girls are logged into their accounts it starts with a very catchy song and then goes to the main page which is the keyboard with their complete letters, left and right hands, and a scene with Vexor the Virus in it.  As my girls progress through the program their keyboard fills up with the letters and sounds that they have been working on.

Girls Screen
You can see in the picture above that the girls are in different parts of the program.  Once they are here they click on Vexor (the green thing above the blue house) to see where they go next.  Vexor will take them to different places depending where in the city or on the houses they click.

Here are a few examples of the games that they play:
When they click on the tree they work on typing sentences from a story.  The flying saucer has them choose a sound or a storyteller that they have already been introduced for the game.  The blimp takes them to the theatre.  They are shown a picture and depending on the directions they must decide if the answers are correct by typing the letter sound that they are working on or incorrect by clicking the space bar.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

When they are finished they earn pieces of their Certificates of merit which can be printed.  When they have completed the entire program there will be a total of 10 certificates of merit.

Sweet Pea likes all of the games but says that going to park and working on getting the storyteller across the park is her favorite one of them all.  Peanut says her favorite games are when she works on the sounds of the letters in the theatre and library.  Lil’ Bit isn’t sure which game is her favorite.

One thing I have noticed is that two of my girls get frustrated during one section of the program.  It is the section where they have to type the same letters over and over.  It takes them a little longer to type the sequence than what appears to be allowed.  It doesn’t show a counter with the time that it has to be completed but it isn’t long.  Vexor starts taking breaths and eventually blows the story teller away to start over if there are too many pauses during typing or if they hit the wrong button too many times.    When the girls get stuck at this section, after a couple of attempts, I will help them type the letters faster so they can continue on.

We will be continuing with Read, Write & Type until the girls finish the program.  They really enjoy using program!  I highly recommend the program to anyone who has 6-9 year olds.  Even some younger and older children may enjoy this as well!

 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TalkingFingers/
YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/user/talkingfingersvideo
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ReadWriteType/with_replies @readwritetype

 

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{Review} Homeschool Copywork

Homeschool Copywork Review

My family was blessed with a Lifetime Membership from Homeschool Copywork!  I love copywork and am always looking for new copywork to print for my children for them to practice their handwriting.

Homeschool Copywork has copywork for preschool through high school!   Their site has the copywork organized in three sections:  Early Elementary Copywork, Upper Elementary Copywork, and Junior High – High School Copywork.  There is a Bonus! Products section with additional ebooks.  Every ebook is in PDF format and you are allowed to print as many copies that you need for your immediate family.  In the description for every ebook it tells you what pages are available for the particular copywork that you are looking at including if they include cursive, manuscript, etc. pages.

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The Early Elementary Copywork section has over 30 ebooks.  There are Bible verses, composers, artists, and more to choose from.  Each ebook varies in length.  Some are short with just a few pages while there are some that are over 150 pages!  The lines in the Early Elementary Copywork books are large dotted handwriting lines.  Great for beginning writers!

The Upper Elementary Copywork and Junior High – High School Copywork are set up in a similar format as the Early Elementary Copywork.  Also, you will find the cursive versions of the Early Elementary Copywork in the upper grade sections.  There are poems (Tennyson and Emily Dickinson), more Bible passages, quotes and studies from famous artists and composers.  The lines in these books are regular lines verses the handwriting lines for younger children.  For the older students some ebooks include questions for further studies.

Their bonus pages are  regular lined and handwriting lined notebooking pages along with other goodies like graph bars and various pages to enhance your notebooking pages.  Some of the themes available in their bonus section are: Dogs, Valentine’s Day Notebooking Pages, and Human Life pages.

 

1Cor

 

We did the 1 Corinthians 13 Manuscript Copywork from the Early Elementary Copywork section.  There are 18 pages in this ebook and the passage is broken down verse by verse with every verse having their own page.  The ESV (English Standard Version) Bible is used for scripture quotations.  The lines on the pages are a great size for beginning writers and there is a picture on every page to be colored once the verse has been copied.  At the end of the ebook there are a few blank lined pages with graphics that matched the graphics throughout the ebook.  I appreciated having these pages because some of the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 are long and additional lines are needed to copy the entire verse. You can also use these blank lined pages to copy other copywork.  1 Corinthians 13 ebook is also available in cursive and can be found in both the Upper Elementary Copywork and Junior High – High School Copywork sections.

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I thought all of the pages in the 1 Corinthians ebook as well as the other ebooks that I have looked at are well done.  I look forward to using more of their copywork ebooks as well as seeing what they come out with in the future!

The Lifetime Membership gives full access to all of the current items that Homeschool Copywork has to offer to all of their members along with anything that is written in the future.  The cost of $45 for their Lifetime Membership is less than 2 years of their Annual Full Member subscription of $29.95.  If you would like to try out some of their products before subscribing to their Lifetime Membership they do have a free membership with copywork and Charlotte Mason resources.

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{Review} Stopmotion Explosion

Stopmotion Explosion Review

My family had the pleasure of reviewing Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit by Stopmotion Explosion.  Sweet Pea loves photography and making videos.  If she gets ahold of your camera and/or phone she will be glad to fill it up for you with anything and everything you can think of from photos to tutorial videos.  When this product came up for review I thought it would be perfect for her to start exploring in the world of animation.

 

Stopmotion Explosion Review

The package that was sent to us from Stopmotion Explosion included a book ‘Stopmotion Explosion: Animate ANYTHING and Make MOVIES’, software installation disc, and a small camera.

The book ‘Stopmotion Explosion: Animate ANYTHING and Make MOVIES is packed full with information about stopmotion technology.  The book is almost 300 pages!  The history of photography and making films starts off the beginning of the book.  Later they give you ideas on differ things you can use in your movie such as Lego men, silly putty, ModiBots, or even creating your own figure!  The book goes on to talk about creating stories, creating sets, and bringing your stories to life.  You will also learn about cameras, lighting, and animation.

There are several projects to create throughout the book.  My personal favorite is building an armature beginning on page 26.  He is made out of wire and other inexpensive materials.  As plain as it is this armature has an I am fun come play with me written all over it.   Dress it up however you want!

 

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The installation of the Stopmotion Explosion very simple and quick.  Once the program is installed you are ready to start creating your own movies and animate to your heart’s content.  They do offer suggestions (both free and costs money) on pages 194 – 195 for video editing programs to use along with Stopmotion Explosion.  You can also put together your videos using their interface (this is how we did ours).

The kit includes a basic webcam that is good to start off  with.  The manual focus did take a little getting use to and sometimes tricky to adjust it without moving it.  The webcam has a nice long cable (4.5 feet).  I like the option of attaching it to something or standing it up. You can hook up your own camera if you choose.  There are directions in the book about using a DSL and what kind of lens and filter you should use.

Camera Specs of the camera included in the kit:

  • Resolution: 1280 x 720
  • Quality optics with manual focus down to 3cm
  • Full control of exposure, color, and white balance
  • Attach to any surface with handy grip mount
  • Cord length: 4 1/2 feet
  • Compatible with Skype, and other video chatting applications
  • New!  Built-in microphone for sound recording


This is Sweet Pea’s very first video

This video took 100 shots to complete.  We were both happy with the first attempt and we both learned things to improve for future videos.

Sweet Pea is having a blast using this program.  Remember earlier when I mentioned that she loves doing videos?  Sometimes I or my mom will find videos of her making faces at the camera.  She thought it was so cool to use our computer’s camera with the Stopmotion Explosion software and make video using still shots of her moving around and making faces.

From mom’s perspective … I think the possibilities are endless with what you can create with Stopmotion Explosion!  Younger children will most likely need mom & dad’s assistance or the assistance of someone older but it is a great project to work on together as a family!  I think I had just as much fun as Sweet Pea did with learning how to animate items.  I look forward to what will be created next!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Stopmotion-Explosion-104732269687187
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Fun Monday!

I pray that this finds everyone well!

We had a fun Monday!  My parents took my oldest three to the local carnival tonight.  The carnival comes annually as part of a festival that has been done for decades.  They have a wrist band that you can buy and you can ride all of the rides as much as you want for the day.   The girls had a blast (for the most part).  There were a couple of rides that were not liked.

 

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Last week and also today we received review items in the mail.  The one that we received last week (Kwik Stix) has been a big hit with the kids!  Yes!  The paint really dries quickly!  When the girls want to paint with Kwik Stix I don’t mind at all!  No water, no mess, and dries quickly!  Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization from IEW arrived today.  I am looking forward to this product.   We will be memorizing poems and in level 1 (which is where we are starting) there are a few Robert Louis Stevenson poems!

 

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I don’t know if you have seen the video being shared on Facebook or a pin on Pinterest about baking eggs to get hard boiled eggs but it does work!  I decided to take two dozen eggs and stick them in the Pampered Chef mini muffin pan and bake them at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then they are supposed to sit in ice water for 10 minutes.  I didn’t stick them in the ice water for that long.  I had to run an errand and stuck them in the ice water for a few minutes and then put them in the fridge.  It worked!  I haven’t had any yet but others in my family have given thumbs up!  I will mention that when I peeled some they did have a couple little brown spots (my guess is from where they were touching the pan).

 

Have a blessed day!

 

 

 

{Review} Under the Sea Holy Bible

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Are you looking for a new Bible for your child age 6 – 10 that loves sea life?  Under the Sea Holy Bible, NIrV by Zonderkidz is one you should look at!  My family and I were given the opportunity to review this Bible.

I love the cover of the Bible!  There is an underwater scene and sea life has glitter on them to make them stand out.  This Bible is written in NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) which is an easy read for young children.

Everyone has sinned.  No one measures up to God’s glory.
-Romans 3:23 NIrV

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.  Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.
-John 3:16 NIrV

I do like that it contains the complete Bible.  Sometimes in children’s Bibles only the popular or well known stories will be in it.  The font is on the small side and some children may have some difficulty in reading the words.  While I do like the 2 column pages, this may create some trouble for beginning readers.

Throughout the Bible there are some beautiful, illustrated, and colorful pages.   What you can find on these pages are:

  • Famous Children of the Bible
  • The ABCs of Becoming a Christian
  • Ten Commandments for Kids
  • Love Passage for Kids
  • Prayer is …
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Books of the Bible

 

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At the end of the Bible you will find ‘Great Bible Stories’ and the dictionary.

 

Where you can find the Under the Sea Holy Bible:

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-the-sea-holy-bible-nirv-zondervan/1122293380?ean=9780310754046
Walmart: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Sea-Holy-Bible-Nirv/48452341
Family Christian Stores: http://www.familychristian.com/catalog/product/view/id/361924/

 

Zonderkidz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zonderkidz/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/zonderkidz

 

I received this product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own or those of my family and I am not required to write a positive review.