Wednesday, September 30, 2015

TOS Review for Spanish from Middlebury Interactive Languages

For the past few weeks, the kids have been learning Spanish! We were given a chance to review Middle School Spanish 1 from Middlebury Interactive Languages.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages provides online digital courses for homeschoolers (and schools) in a variety of languages. Students can choose to learn Spanish, French, German, and Chinese! Courses are broken down into 3 different levels. 

Elementary School ~ Grades K- 5th
Middle School ~ Grades 6th-8th
High School~ Grades 9th-12th

So no matter how old your kids are Middlebury Interactive Languages has got you covered!

Middlebury Interactive Languages uses an interactive approach to teach children a new language. Students watch a the lesson online. The lesson uses various techniques to teach children a new language.  Native speakers are used to teach students in real life contexts. This approach immerses the students into the language.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
For this review, we signed up for the Middle School Spanish Level 1 course. This course is geared for students in the 6th-8th grade. We received a 6 month semester of Spanish to use at home. My kids are in the 5th and 6th grade. We have studied French when the kids were little and have done Latin the past 3 years, so learning a different language was nothing new to them. 

Middle School Spanish Level 1 is broken up into 17 units. These units will be covered through out the semester. Each unit has 10 lessons in it. There are a few review unit to help students review the lessons. At the end of our semester the students will have a final exam. They will be tested to see how well they have mastered the language.
After completing the set-up, parents and students can easily find the main screen, the calendar.

The calendar layout is easy to read and understand.  All parents or students have to do is go to the day of of the lesson they are working on, click on the lesson, and it opens up on the side.

The lessons are broken down into different sets. They run about 15-20 minutes. This can turn into longer if your student is struggling with pronunciation. Students will be introduced to the topic being cover for that lesson. They will have a warm-up, and then will continue on with the lesson by using a variety of techniques. Sometimes they will have to match up the Spanish word with the English words. Listening and reading skills will be used. A speaking lab helps the students learn how to pronounce the words correctly. Students even have the ability to record their own voices and play it back to hear whether or not they are getting the correct pronunciation.
They have printable vocabulary sheets. These are extremely helpful. Students can print them out and use them as a study guide. We started a binder for them. This made it very easy for the kids to look over there pages and review what they have been learning.

Our thoughts on it.....

The lessons are short and easy to understand. They are well laid out and well structured. This makes learning a new language rather easy. 

The calendar lay out is simple to read and the lessons can be found quickly. I do wish they had a way to adjust the lessons on the calendar so parents can work the lessons into their own lesson plans. Because we couldn't adjust the schedule, we had to go back to previous days to click on the right schedule. Not hard, but a little annoying sometimes. Having 2 lessons on a day was difficult, especially for slower learners. There is no way we will finish all 17 units at the rate we are moving through them. Having an option to choose between 6 months or a year might help some families.

My kids seemed to struggle with the program. The unit jumps right into conversations. It seemed like they expected the student to already have some type of knowledge of the Spanish language, which my had none. My kids had a hard time understanding the native speakers. The conversations were rather quick making it difficult for them to catch on to the correct pronunciation of the words. The kids had to replay it a couple of times before they even caught on a little bit. I had to sit with them to help them get the proper pronunciation. 

We did have a few technical issues with the program. The lesson would freeze. It was probably our satellite internet, but I just thought I'd share just encase you live out in the sticks too. I'm sure this was operator error but we couldn't get the voice recording done for the pronunciation part of the lessons either. We just gave up on that part.

For us, we found this program a little too faced paced. I think Therese would have done better with the Elementary Spanish for grades 3-5 since she was younger. Michael may have too. All though, I don't think the Middle School Spanish Level 1 was a great fit for us, I do think the program is extremely well done. I'll definitely look into again when the kids are a little older. We may even check out the the lower level Spanish course in a few months.

Find out more about Middlebury Interactive Languages online....


Want to learn a different language? Stop by and see what other languages the crew reviewed!
Just click on the link below...

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

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Wordless Wednesday~ An Evening Glow

Enjoying the night sky while locking up the chickens for the night.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TOS Review for USAopoly~ Wonky & Tapple


Doesn't everyone LOVE family game night?

The past few weeks, we have been playing 2 new games from USAopoly. We received Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun For Everyone in the mail. Oh boy did the fun begin!

 USAopoly Review

USAopoly is a game company that takes fun games to a whole new level. There goal is too bring families together. Wonky and Tapple are just 2 of the amazing games that they have to offer. I've already added a few more to our Christmas list! With all their choices, it's very easy for families to have fun together. A little round of friendly competition always brings out laughter.

First Up....Wonky!

USAopoly Review
O.K. first off I have to tell you that this game is extremely challenging. When we first looked at the box, we thought this was going to be a very easy game. Just stack a few blocks on and that's it. Well, we were so wrong. This game is very difficult and can be down right nerve racking. It's recommended for ages 8+. but younger kids will have fun playing too. The game can be played with 2 or more players.

Players have to build a tower with odd shaped blocks of 3 different sizes. It's thought provoking and requires very steady hands (and arms). Don't bump the table!
Players are dealt 7 cards in the beginning of the game. The cards tell what color and size block to play. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Strategic planning definitely comes into play. I do NOT recommend placing the small cube first. The first player to get rid of their cards and doesn't knock down the tower wins!

Players have to play strategically. They want to get rid of all their cards, without knocking the tower down, but they want to play so their opponents knock the tower down. Setting up the next player for failure is a good play.

There are 9 blocks total.....3 small, 3 medium, and 3 large. Each size group has a purple, blue, and green block.

The game comes with 54 cards. Here are a few samples of what the cards read....
Stack the purple large block
Stack the small green block
Choose any color block
Choose any large color block
Pass play to next player
Reverse play to previous player

The kids and I had a blast playing this game. We were able to build a tower with 7 blocks so far. We haven't achieved a tower with all 9 yet! We will keep trying though until we get it.

Next Up....Tapple!

 USAopoly Review
Get ready for some fast paced competition! This game got very competitive in my house. Game faces were put on, sleeves were pushed up, and it got ugly! Just kidding, it didn't get too ugly. They kids really got into the game though. A little bit of "friendly" competition.

Tapple is extremely fast paced. It's great for the mind. A Brain Game! Players have to come up with a word that fits into the topic on the card picked.

The Tapple wheel has 20 letters from the alphabet in a circle. The letters Q,U,V, X, Y, and Z are not included since they are uncommon as the first letter of words. One player chooses a category from the cards. The cards are divided into two groups...easy and hard.

The blue & white side is for younger kids, while the red & yellow side offers more challenging categorizes for older children. A few selections are....animals, fish, shoes, outer space, things at a party, things in the room, etc. A little but of everything.

Once a category is chosen, the fun begins. Players take turns coming up with a word that begins with one of the letters on the circle. Each player gets 10 seconds to come up with a word. It's easy at first since all 20 letters are available. As the letters get used up and pushed down, it becomes a little bit trickier. At the end of 10 seconds, a buzzer will go off if the player hasn't come up with a word. If a player does shout a word, they hit the timer, the time restarts, and the next player gives it a try.
This is fast moving and my kids become overly competitive. The games suggest 3 rounds, but my kids went on for 5, 10, 15 rounds. I liked how it helped them use their brains and it helps with spelling too. You have to hit the right letter for the first letter of the word. 

So what did we think....

Buy them! You have to add these fun games to your must have list. Christmas is right around the corner.  These will provide plenty of fun for your kids and yourself! The kids have been asking to have friends over to play the games with them. The more the merrier.

Check out USAopoly on social media......


Stop by and see what the rest of the crew thought......

 USAopoly Review

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Classically Catholic Memory Delta Year~ Latin

This year we will be learning 3 different prayers in Latin.
The first prayer we will be learning is O Salutaris, then we will learn the Gloria, and the last prayer we will learn this year is the Tantum Ergo.

To learn these prayers will be using the Chant Cd kit again this year.

This is a wonderful resource. The kit includes a song booklet and 2 discs. The is a wonderful way to introduce children to Gregorian chant. The book includes a brief introduction to Gregorian chant and has the words and music for all the songs included on the Cd's. We love listening to the monks sing. The songs are so peaceful and bring back the beauty of Latin hymns.

How we work through Latin......

Each day we listen to the hymn and sing along. By the end of the week, we have the section down. At least, we hope to have it. If not that's O.K. since we will continue to sing it the following weeks.
Having older children write out the prayer is a great way to help them memorize the words.
We have a Latin notebook. In the notebook, the kids each have a copy of the prayer to read over daily on their own. They add their loose leaf pages of the written parts of the prayer. By the end of the prayer, they will have copied the prayer down in full.

So for the O Salutaris....
Week 1~ copy the lines being learned for that week
Week 2~ copy the previous section, as well as, the new section being learned
Week 3~ copy the first 2 sections learned and add the section being learned for the week
Week 4~ copy the first 3 section and add the final section for a completed prayer

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Classically Catholic Memory Delta Year

It's hard to believe that we are heading into our fourth year of our journey with Classically Catholic Memory. Four years have gone by so fast. I have seen my kids grown from children to the young lady and young gentleman that they are today. It's truly amazing how much kids change throughout the years. They really do grow up rather quickly.

When we started out on this journey, I had never heard of CCM until I joined the Schola Rosa homeschool co-op. I joined the co-op for a sense of community and so my kids could be around children of the same faith. I loved how the co-op was so focused on our Catholic faith. Our first year, we did CCM as a extra bonus. I had already planned out our curriculum for that year, so we just did it CCM at co-op and the kids did the homework that was assigned.

It wasn't unit year two, Beta year, that we really started to follow CCM. I used CCM as a core spine and added lots of stuff to it. I love how it gives you a good solid outline that can be built upon. I especially love how the history goes in chronological order. It makes much more sense for kids to learn history that way. We did CCM at home and at co-op this year. It was great!

Last year, we did Gamma year. At that point, we were at the top of the age range. I had a 6th grader and a 4th grader. The songs and the timeline motions were not very appealing to them. We all remember what it was like to be a preteen and be self conscience of what others were thinking. At co-op we excused the older kids, 5th grade and up from the timeline motions. At home, I tried to dig deeper for kids.

This year, we are doing Delta year on our own. Sadly, our co-op has ended for various reason. After completing the first 3 years, I really wanted to finish the program. Michael and Therese were both excited to be learning more about American history and they were thrilled to be learning about plants and the human body. This year, we are using CCM as our outline again and have a lot of extra to it.

We are doing things a little different this year. We are not doing the timeline and we are using our Chant Cd for the Latin prayers. I love the maps, so we will be doing them again. Science is pretty straight forward. We will use the weekly prompts and I'll just add more to it each week. History is were we will be varying a lot. We will be working through the history section a lot slower. The kids really want to learn about the Native Americans, Westward Expansion, the Gold Rush, and the Civil War. We will be spending a lot more time on these subjects. We will eventually get to the World Wars, the Great Depression, etc. I just haven't decided if we will spend the summer going through the other topics or will we just do it next year. Only time will tell.

I will be sharing our journey again this year. I'll be blogging about the weeks a little differently. My plan this year is to do a post for each subject for each week. I think it'll be easier for people to find what they are looking for.

Have questions? Please feel free to contact me. Looking for more extra, I have files on my computer filled with ideas. Just ask and maybe I can help.
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

TOS Review for Davy Crockett from YWAM Publishing

Have you ever looked for good wholesome, quality biographies for your children about famous men and women from history? Men and women who are strong in their faith. Well, if you have look no further. YWAM Publishing has answered that request. YWAM publishing offers a variety of products. For this review, the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the chance to review Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then and Now.

                      YWAM Publishing Review

The kids and I reviewed Davy Crockett: Ever Westward, a book from their Heroes of History collection. This was a perfect selection for us since we were studying America's westward expansion this year. Heading west, the Alamo, and Native Americans are all in the lesson plans this year. We were given the Heroes of History CD Unit Study Guide for Davy Crockett to go along with our book and to help us learn more about this adventurous man. 

So what is YWAM Publishing?

YWAM Publishing Review

YWAM is a publishing company that produces quality Christian books. Their focus is to encourage Christians to make a difference in the world they live in by introducing them to brave and courageous men and women. Who doesn't want role models that their children can look up to? They offer books, E-books, musics, study guides, and so much more. They even offer a few freebies online, like crossword puzzles and word searches, that go along with the books.

So what did we think of Davy Crockett?

We loved it! We read the book together as a read aloud. Both my children could have read the book on their own, but we like to do history together. The book is broken up into 19 chapters. The chapters are a good length for daily readings. We read it during lunch time.each day. There were many days that the kids asked to keep going. They couldn't wait to see what happened next to David. For us, it was a great way to introduce America's westward expansion. We loved reading about the adventures of young David Crockett. We were able to see him grow from a young boy to a courageous man. He traveled all around. He even visited areas near our home. Hearing nearby towns mentioned in the book brings history to life for Michael and Therese. We have visited Tennessee numerous times in the past, so the area was real familiar to them. I don't want to give too much away and spoil it for you. I just recommend adding it to your history reading list.

Along with the book, we received the study guide on Cd. They are moving away from Cd's and will have only down loadable study guides in the future. The study guide is a wealth of knowledge. To start off, they have an overview for the study guide just for homeschoolers. There is one for teachers too. The guide for homeschoolers offers suggestions for parents on how to use their books and their unit studies within their own homeschooling. You can use their books and unit studies as a full curriculum or you can just use them as an additional resource. Plenty of ideas are included on how to implement either of these options. 

The unit study guide has tons of ideas on how to add to the learning experience. There are suggestions on how to bring the story into language arts, science, geography, and social studies. There are recommendations for additional resources....books, movies, and websites to visit. Here are just a few of the other great ideas that are suggested for students to do....

Create a timeline
Create a vocabulary notebook
Create a picture book for younger children based on the book
Write a research paper
Drawing various items from the book (rifles, plants, homes, etc.)

Your kids would never be bored with all the wonderful ideas given to bring this book to life!

Want to learn more find YWAM on social media?!?

YWAM on Facebook

YWAM on Twitter

YWAM on Pinterest

Check out the other reviews for other great men and women from history! Just click on the link below...

YWAM Publishing Review

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Classically Catholic Memory~ Gamma Year Week 18

It's hard to believe we have finished up another year using the Classically catholic Memory Curriculum. Over the years I have found I love things about it but dislike some things too. I love how we can take what works for us and use, but leave out what doesn't work.

We are finishing up with the rivers and seas from the Southwest and the Caribbean. We did our usual work.
Here are the links to the maps we used.
Outline Map of the United States
Outline Map of Mexico and Central America

We did end the year on a test. I tested their knowledge of the 50 states. They did fairly well. All those rectangle states can trick you up. I'm not too worried, as we continue on our state study they will learn more,

We are finishing up the Anima Christi.

We have worked on learning this prayer in English and Latin the few weeks. I am so proud on how well they have done. I love praying this prayer when we enter the church and are praying before Mass starts. I love gazing upon the crucifix and reciting this prayer to our Lord.

Love your enemies....oh this can be so hard at times.
I had the children read their bibles, copy the verse on their cursive worksheet, and copy the verse into their religion notebook to help them memorize the verse.

We talked about how we could do this in everyday life.

  • Being nice to those that might make fun of us
  • Share items at co-op with kids who may not be nice or annoy you
  • Greet everyone with a friendly smile
  • Allow everyone to play in a game
  • Forgive those who may have been mean to us
  • Do something nice for someone who may have been mean to us     

I found this lesson to help kids understand this important teaching from Jesus. I found another great lesson for younger kids here.

One thing I stressed to my kids is that we may not get along with everyone or want to be best friends with everyone, but we do need to include them in group activities (at co-op, church functions,etc) and treat them with love and respect.

Great Words~
This week we worked on learning the last two sections of the Concord Hymn. By the end of the second week, the kids had it down pat. We never stop reciting the first sections we learn. We just keep adding on!

The War of 1812

For this weeks lesson, we read from Pioneers and Patriots. The kids read a few books we picked out at the library about this 2 year war.
For activities and projects, we cheated a little. In an effort to make things easier for this mama, I bought History Study Time Travelers: The Early 19th Century from Home School in the Woods! It has tons of great projects, resources, and information about this time period. No searching or digging up information. The kids made a flap book that will go into their 19th century lap book.
Our goal is to get up to Fort McHenry sometime this fall. I went there on a field trip when I was around 7 or 8. I remember enjoying it.

Simple Machines
I have to admit, this was an easy lesson for us. Michael really became interested in robots and all things like that at Christmas. He got all types of goodies this past Christmas to help with this learning.
I found all types of worksheets at Super Teacher Worksheets. Some are free, while others can only be used by members.
They did have cute little book for kids to put together.

We also have the advantage of a wonderful kids museum near us. It has a whole section devoted to simple machines! You check it out.

I found this great lesson online that explains how to find the volume of a cube or box. It has great graphics and it explains it in a simple easy way for kids to understand and mamas too.

The kids worked on a few worksheets.
Worksheet #1
Worksheet #2
Super Teachers Worksheets has a few pages too.

Hope you had fun working with us through Classically catholic Memory's Gamma Year!

See you next time with Delta year,

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Classically Catholic Memory~ Gamma Year Week 17

This week we get to wander out west and learn about the rivers and mountains there.
So with every new week, we did the following.....

Labeled the map with the stickers (the kids alternate placing the stickers on)
Review the map daily (with stickers for 1st week)
Label and color the maps I printed out (great way for kids to learn how to read maps)
Review the map with the side with no stickers ( each one does this on their own while the other one is doing different work)
Geography Test

Here is a link to the map we used to label the rivers and mountains.
Outline Map of the United States

We are working through the Anima Christi.
Please see week 10 and week 11 for ideas on this beautiful prayer.


This week, we are learning the greatest commandment given to us by Jesus Christ....LOVE ONE ANOTHER! To start off, I had the kids find the verse in their bibles and we read the entire section.
After reading the verse, they worked on their cursive handwriting worksheet I made online. Later on in the week, I had them write the verse in their religion notebooks. 
We worked on reciting the bible verse daily. Lots of repetition!

I went online and searched for a fun, creative craft to get this message understood by the kids. We did a simple heart craft with the bible verse written out in the middle. I did find so many wonderful ideas! You can check out more things I found on my CCD pinterest board. I'm sure you will find something your kids would love to do!

Great Words~
This week we move on to the Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an early American philosopher, poet, and writer. He wrote the poem the Concord Hymn. The poem was sung July 4, 1837, as a hymn in a ceremony for the completion of the Concord Monument. 

The Concord Monument commemorates the Battle of Concord and the famous "shot heard around the world."
When ever we start a new poem, I always read the entire poem first. When finished, the kids and I read the poem together a few times. We follow that up with working on the lines being highlighted that week. 
This poem was perfect. We had 4 weeks to learn it and 4 stanzas. So we just added a stanza each week.

If you want to learn more about the who fired the shot heard round the world, you can check out this lesson.  It has vocabulary, research ideas, and map work!

For younger kids, who can spell, I found this worksheet about the Concord Hymn to do.

This week, we talked about the first three presidents, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark. It was a busy few weeks. We spent more than 4 weeks on most of these topics. For older kids, I find two weeks on certain subjects is just not enough, so we delay moving on.

For the presidents, I used materials I had found online years ago when my kids were very little....too little for the info I had found. Most of it centered around George Washington. We checked out a few biographies on the first 3 presidents. We didn't go into to much detail. I still want to get the kids to Mount Vernon and Monticello sometime this year. We just didn't make their this year.

For Thomas Jefferson and the adventures of Lewis Clark, we were lucky enough to participate in a review for Lewis and Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea from Homeschool Legacy. This was a fantastic unit study filled with so much! The kids learn about Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark's travels, the Native Americans, tracking animals, and the difficulties of the journey.
This was so easy to use along with CCM. If your kids want to spend more time learning about these to great explorers, I highly recommend this unit study. It's all laid out for you. Simple and easy for
homeschooling mamas!

We did visit Harpers Ferry in June and they had a exhibit all about Lewis and Clark. The kids and I spent a great deal of time looking through the exhibit.

For an added literature bonus for this section, I had the kids read books about Seaman, the dog who traveled with Lewis and Clark. He was a huge Newfoundland. My kids loved both the books they were give to read.

Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West With Lewis and Clark (Peachtree Junior Publication)

Newton's Third Law
This week we had fun testing this law with tennis balls. We tossed the balls softly and hard. The dog had a blast. Needless to say our testing was slightly flawed.

We did learn that if you throw a tennis ball, the dog will chase it and get it in her mouth before you can pick it up. So I guess we did prove Newton's law in a way.
A rocking chair is another great way to demonstrate this too. If you push it, it will rock back.
I found this worksheet on line to help explain this law to the kids.

Area of a Circle
For this weeks lesson, we headed outdoors for a fun lesson about the area of circle and the we worked on last weeks lesson the circumference of a circle.
All you need is a hula hoop!

I found the idea over at Ramblings of a fifth and sixth grade teacher. Sunshine and circles is what she called it. perfect for getting the kids outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine!

After using the hula hoop, we measured our patio table since it was round too.

Till next time,

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