Thursday, July 31, 2014

My First Reports


The main curriculum we use requires the student to write a 1-2 page report every day. I started having Jake (8 yr) write a summary of what he had read that day, but he struggled and complained that he didn't know what to write. Then I tried encouraging him to write about anything--anything--he wanted to. That still brought frustration to meet the predetermined length. I admit, I stopped requiring the daily writing. His writing assignments came just every now and then. That didn't solve the problem though. He still didn't understand how to write a story, summary, or report.  

Enter Hewitt Homeschooling. They believe that the best option is home school, not school at home, by encouraging hands-on learning and making it exciting. Their goal is to combine excellent academics with character development, instill the work ethic, and develop a spirit of community service in the next generation. Their My First Report series teaches elementary students basic writing skills to write their own simple reports. This was exactly what we needed to overcome the frustration of Jake's writing assignments. The offer many sets in the series such as Bugs and Worms, My State, Western United States, Reptiles and Amphibians, and more. We chose My First Report: Outdoor Activities.


The curriculum comes packaged in an envelope, already hole-punched to make it simple to toss in a 3-ring binder. The reports are designed to teach your child to express his knowledge in written form. He'll practice writing in complete sentences, language, penmanship, and researching skills (library, encyclopedia, dictionary). 

The outdoor activities set comes with pages for each of the following topics:
  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Sport fishing
  • Hunting
  • Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Cycling
  • Playgrounds
  • Roller Sports
  • Playing on Water
  • Cold Weather Activities

I allowed Jake to peruse the topics and choose which one he wanted to start with. It came as no surprise when he immediately picked hunting. He loves talking to his daddy about the subject and even accompanied him on a trip last fall, where they shot a deer and filled our freezer with venison. 

The report pages include 5-6 simple questions on each page to give the student a starting place and get him thinking. Which animals are big-game hunting? small game? How are decoys used in hunting fowl? Why do people hunt animals? Jake knew some of the answers already. I helped him research the others. He wrote all his answers down in a notebook to make it neat and easy to find the information for his report. There is also a vocabulary box with a list of words at the bottom of the page to further the study. The curriculum includes pages with differing line sizes and a space for a picture to write the actual report.

There is no instruction for how to write the report. Jake had a list of questions and answers, but still didn't know what to do with them. I explained to him how to take those facts and work them together to tell a story. He immediately went to work and showed me his finished report after just a few minutes. Four sentences. He filled the front of the page under the space for the picture with 4 sentences. It was then that I flipped the page over and showed him the entire page of lines for him to complete. The look on his face was quite funny. The summary didn't flow as smoothly then, but he did complete it. 


The other sub-topics continued in the same manner, getting easier each time. While he did enjoy learning more about the individual activities, his favorite part was incorporating the unit study portion of the curriculum. There are pages filled with deeper learning falling under every subject: Bible. history/geography/social studies, reading, language, math, science/health, physical education, music, art, and field trips. We talked about King David's hunting methods in Judges, played outdoor activities charades, learned about map symbols, practiced camp cooking, and had a lot more fun. Unit studies help the student to fully understand the topic by applying the learning in multiple subjects. I have personally seen the benefits of unit studies with my kids. They get a full understanding of the topic and have fun while doing it.


The My First Report: Outdoor Activities is geared towards kids in 1st-4th grade. The entire pack including the report pages and list of unity study topics costs $8.95. It has helped my 8-year-old to learn how to find information and write a simple report. I wish there were some instruction for the student to help him combine the info into the report, to make it even easier, but it has helped in our home.

Hewitt Homeschooling offers many other products like their Lightning Literature series, Joy of Discovery, and Chronicles of . . . A State History Notebook.

You keep up with the latest news from Hewitt Homeschooling on social media:

If you'd like to read more reviews of My First Report or any of the other products from Hewitt Homeschooling, you can head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


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Friday, July 25, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 7/25/14

 Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)


Happy Friday! It's been a pretty relaxing week at our house. I'm feeling the baby move more and more--my favorite part of being pregnant! Did something make you Smile this week? Feel free to share it in the comments.


1. Jake, dejected, looking at his arms: "How long is it going to take before these tiny, little muscles get bigger?"

2. Zac, fake burping in the morning: "That was all from dinner tomorrow."

3. Me: "Did everyone thank Daddy for breakfast?"
Kids: "Thank you, Daddy!!!"
Tyler: "Gank gou, Daddy! Awesome!!!" 

4. 

5. Jake: "There are 2 definitions for clone: doubling something and like perfume."
Me: "That's cologne."

6. Zac: "You know, the guys with 2 eyes."

7. Jake: "This is going to be a really small baby, smaller than all the rest of us."
Me: "Why do you say that?"
Jake: "Because your stomach hasn't gotten any bigger at all."

8. Me: "Only 3 days until Maker Faire."
Tyler: "Make Faire, awesome! Woo hoo!" 

9. Jake, giving me a demonstration: "It's hard to walk with your arms tied around your legs."

10. Alyssa learned to cook eggs (both fried and scrambled) all by herself. 


11. Jake: "Pterodactyls are extinct, so how did your guy get one?"
Zac: "Because he washed it."
Jake: "Haha, not ex-stinked! Extinct means they're all dead."

12. Zac: "What's that?"
My Mom: "Lotion."
Zac: "What's it for?"
My Mom: "To make my skin soft."
Zac: "Why was your skin hard?"


What made you Smile this week?



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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms


I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love everything I've received from Apologia Educational Ministries. From science curriculum to Biblical worldview studies to heart-convicting books, each product has been a blessing. My latest review, Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms, is no exception.

Flourish is a book written to help homeschool moms find balance in their daily activities and to truly flourish in everything they do. Mary Jo Tate, the author of multiple books, is a seasoned homeschooler of 4 boys, single mom, international editor and book coach, host of the "Flourish at Home" radio show, and teacher of English literature for  homeschool co-op. She is one busy lady! Yet, she's found a way to balance her responsibilities with her desires. She used that knowledge and experience to write a book to help the rest of us who are struggling, exhausted, overloaded. To me the purpose of the book was beautifully summed up in an analogy about a plant:

"When we get bogged down in the difficulties and challenges of our busy lives, we start dropping like a wilted plant that hasn't been watered in a long time. But it's the flourishing plant--one that has been well-tended, with the right balance of good soil water, and light--that grows and offers beauty or nourishment.When you are flourishing, you can take better care of your family so that they too will flourish."  



Right from the beginning, my heart was convicted. The day I read that was the same day that I had noticed our poor tomato plants. They had been beautiful, thriving. Flourishing. But we had gotten a lot of rain, and come to find out, there was no drain hole in the pot. The water that filled the pot was drowning my plants. While water is very necessary for the good of the plant, too much will kill it. I knew right away that it applied to me. I tend to take on too much, try to do everything. All those responsibilities are like water. I don't stop to think about how too much "water" will wear me down. Without taking time for myself, I, too, will become wilted like my plants.

Mary Jo points out on page 17, "True balance doesn't mean spending an equal amount of time and attention on each area of your life. It means spending an appropriate amount of time and attention on each area." I'm never going to start relaxing as much as I'm doing--my go-go-go personality can't handle it and it's not even appropriate--but I do need to take time for myself at times. It's a hard lesson I'm learning, especially now with this pregnancy. I've been so sick and have had to sit and not do. I don't think that it's a coincidence that I was given this book to read during this time.    




It would take too long for me to relate every profound statemenet in this book, probably about 282 pages, ha. I'll list the chapter titles to give an idea of what it includes.



  • An Invitation to Flourish
  • Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
  • The FREEDOM Toolbox
  • Where Did My Time Go?
  • Aim High: Setting Goals
  • What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
  • We Interrupt This Program
  • It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  • Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
  • Training Your Children
  • Making Memories
  • Managing Your Home
  • All of Life is Learning
  • Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
  • Home Business
  • Moving Ahead
  • - See more at: http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/flourish-book-review/#sthash.sIdBX6ZZ.dpuf


  • An Invitation to Flourish
  • Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
  • The FREEDOM Toolbox
  • Where Did My Time Go?
  • Aim High: Setting Goals
  • What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
  • We Interrupt This Program
  • It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  • Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
  • Training Your Children
  • Making Memories
  • Managing Your Home
  • All of Life is Learning
  • Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
  • Home Business
  • Moving Ahead
  • - See more at: http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/flourish-book-review/#sthash.sIdBX6ZZ.dpuf


  • An Invitation to Flourish
  • Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
  • The FREEDOM Toolbox
  • Where Did My Time Go?
  • Aim High: Setting Goals
  • What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
  • We Interrupt This Program
  • It’s Time for an Attitude Adjustment
  • Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
  • Training Your Children
  • Making Memories
  • Managing Your Home
  • All of Life is Learning
  • Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
  • Home Business
  • Moving Ahead
  • - See more at: http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/flourish-book-review/#sthash.sIdBX6ZZ.dpuf
    1.  An Invitation to Flourish
    2.  Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
    3.  The FREEDOM Toolbox
    4.  Where Did My Time Go?
    5.  Aim High: Setting Goals
    6.  What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
    7.  We Interrupt This Program
    9.  Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
    10. Training Your Children
    11. Making Memories
    12. Managing Your Home
    13. All of Life is Learning
    14. Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
    15. Home Business
    16. Moving Ahead
    At the end of each chapter, Mary Jo challenges you to take action by asking some tough questions and encouraging you to apply what you learned. Some of the questions were difficult. What activities do I need to stop? What can I delegate? What's currently missing in my life that I'd like to make time for? How will I teach my children to take initiative? Not only are the words throughout the chapters convicting, the end review truly makes you reflect on where your stuggling and succeeding.

    One chapter that I didn't really expect to have much of an impact was chapter 14: "Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom," after all, I am very much not single. But this chapter surprised me. It's not just about how you yourself can flourish as a single mom, but how you as a married woman can help those moms flourish, as well. I realized that I should be reaching out to those moms more. It's not that I'm indifferent to their situation or just don't care, but that I get too caught up in my own family, rushing around taking care of my little ones. Mary Jo has shown me ways that I can be a blessing to other women in need, while caring for my own family.

     
    I have not marked in my book at all. I'm a little silly about that. One, notes, to me, are a bit personal. If I loan the book to someone else, I don't necessarily want them reading my notes. Two, if I were to loan the book, I wouldn't want my notes of what I felt was most important to hinder other parts from speaking to the new reader. Does that make sense? That doesn't mean that I haven't taken notes though! I have a notebook where I've written down page numbers and quotes and all sorts of things that have spoken to me as I've read this book. I've already flipped back through them and reread portions of the book that were exceptionally powerful. I know that I will appreciate having this resource for many years to come.


    Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms costs $15.00 and is perfect for any mom that wants to take control of her life. Even in areas that I thought I was doing ok, I realize there is always room for improvement. This book would make a lovely gift to help someone you know.
     

    Would you like to see how this book blessed other homeschool moms? Head over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew to read more reviews.



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    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Things That Make Me Smile 7/18/14

     Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)


    Happy Friday! I had a checkup with my midwife this week and got to hear the baby's heartbeat. It's one of the most precious sounds and always makes me tear up. I'm now into my second trimester. Most days, I'm feeling a little bit better and having more energy. I'm sure my family appreciates that! Lots of reasons to smile all around.



    1. Alyssa: "Tyler is a trouble baby."
    Me: "Sometimes he's a good boy."
    Alyssa: "Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes he's sweet."
    Jake: "Sometimes he's so sweet he's like a baby flower."

    2. Tyler, about Jake's Lego car creation: "Awesome, Mommy! Awesome!"

    3. Jake: "Tyler Joseph! Don't you dare eat my goblin!"

    4. Alyssa asked Jake to read her a book. 

    5. Alyssa noticed that I had goosebumps on my arm. She ran off and came back with a super hero cape. "Here, this will help you get warm." 

    6. Me; after Tyler went potty one morning: "Should we get you some undies?"
    Tyler, running away laughing: "No! Nakey butt!"  


    7. Tyler bathed himself (and the table and the floor) in his yogurt. As I was washing him up, he smiled sweetly and said, "Gank gou, Mama." 

    8. I had to change Ty's underwear since he had an accident. I showed him the new undies with a dino on the the back and jokingly told him, "The dinosaur's going to bite your butt if you pee on him." That may not have been the best idea. It took a bit of encouragement before he'd put them on. Haha, oops. The look on his face was pretty funny though.

    9. I found Tyler in the kitchen eating suckers and working on opening 5 more.


    10. Alyssa, reluctantly: "If God can wait a whole year, then I can wait for 10 minutes."

    11. Zac, showing me his red arm: "This was an accident."
    Me: "What happened?"
    Zac: "Ty bit me."
    Me: "How was that an accident?"
    Zac: "When I started crying, he stopped."
     

    12. Alyssa: "Mom, have you ever robbed a bank? I'm guessing no."


    What made you Smile this week?

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    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Things That Make Me Smile 7/11/14

     Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)


    Happy Friday! Tyler had a check-up appointment with his ENT doctor this week. Everything is perfect. The tubes are in place, his hearing is great, and he even sat still (!) and let the doctors look in his ears and preform the tests. He's come so far over the last year. He still has at least one more appointment before the whole ordeal is behind us, but we are thanking God for His grace and protection in his life.


    1. Jake, eating a nectarine: "We should call these nectar-dreams, because they're so good, it's like  dream."

    2. Me, looking at a mess: "What happened to this house?"
    Zac: "Ty."

    3. Tyler, with his hands raised: "Mommy, hold you."

    4. Alyssa: "The new baby is going to be a girl. It has to be a girl--I feel it in my bones."

    5.

    6. Jake: "Mom, do you think cooked goblin guts would taste good?" 

    7. Alyssa, after seeing a picture of how peanuts grow: "That's weird man, that's weird." 

    8. Jake: "I just did a hand-sault!"
    Me: "A hand-sault?"
    Jake: "Yeah, I just made it up. I started with a handstand and ended in a somersault!"

    9. Jake: "Mom, you wouldn't believe how fast the week goes by." 

    10. This

    11. Listening to Alyssa sing, instead of read, an entire book.

    12. Zac: "Who's Jake playing checkers with now?"
    Me: "The computer."
    Zac: "How's the computer playing? It doesn't even have any hands."


    What made you Smile this week?

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