Tuesday, February 28, 2012

why I'm writing this entry at 4:44 am

Last night I went to bed around 12....and fell asleep about 1:30. Around 3:45 I hear my husbands phone vibrating and I think that maybe it's morning and that is the alarm. Nope. He checks his phone and a sweet young lady that has done respite for us was texting hubby to let him know that A~man (currently known as Stink Weed) has been calling her and talking to her on the phone. He told her he was afraid to put down the phone as he knew he was in BIG trouble. So...I go get my phone out of his room. The only thing I said to Mr S.W. is where is my phone??!! I had to walk away I was sooo angry. WAIT that is not all! I checked dialed calls. He called probably half of my contacts in my phone book plus some unknown numbers. REPEATIDLY!! This went on for an hour according to my phone. Yes my mom (who doesn't understand sn's) and sister was in the mix, some casual homeschool friends I do not know well,some friends I do know well, and a few numbers that I have no idea who they are. So after 15 minutes of crying (ME CRYING)and the hubby consoling me...trying to point out the funny side to it...here I am. (MAYBE I WILL SEE A FUNNY SIDE IN A FEW YEARS!)I cannot sleep and obviously most anyone I know,including Z's violin teacher have also had a hard night

I am soooo embarrassed. This has to rank up there in the top 10 of my life and I had some doozies in junior high.

I guess I should be glad he didn't call 911.

Excuse me now while I go crawl under a rock....please ignore all misspellings and grammar errors....

Monday, February 20, 2012

How to do stop motion animation.

I'm going to shamelessly brag and share that my husband has another book up on Amazon! It would be a great "how to" book for an older child or for an adult interested in stop motion animation. Check it out!

The Animator Inside of You How to Make Stop Motion and Clay Animation Basic Tricks and Tips (Animation Basics)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How to begin homeschooling

Long long (haha) ago, before children I always thought in my head "I would really like to homeschool my children". I was already teaching (although it was preschoolers) and though that would be the plan. After the long wait of parenthood we were blessed with a wee little guy that came to our home with all of these extra attachments: feeding tube, apnea monitor, bipap machine, nightly feeding machine....surely I'm forgetting something oh and about 4-5 appointments a week to various physicians, therapists and the weekly trip to DSS for visitations with A~mans biological family.

As you can see with all of THAT any thoughts of eventually homeschooling went out the door as he came in the door. Then after the experience of kindergarten (I need a link back to that info;) as it is a novel in itself) God showed us that we should keep A~man home and teach him ourselves. In our state a child does not have to be registered in public school until they reach the age of 7 and he had just turned 6.. All states are different though and I recommend this site for the rules and regulations of homeschooling.

When I first started teaching him at home there was a nifty used homeschool curriuclum/bookstore nearby. I had a lot of fun picking things up there. Mainly how to books and also some manipulatives to use for learning skills. Fortunately though, I also had most of my things from when I was a preschool teacher which was very beneficial as he was still learning preschool basics.

What would have been REALLY helpful would have been a basic easy to read guide that told the basics of starting to homeschool. This How to Home School guide does just that! I cannot tell you how many homeschool books I have read over the last 6 years! I've read some really good ones but something like this guide would have been a good way to quick start our homeschool.

Another helpful thing for the child that is going to be schooled at home would be a book about another homeschool child. Recently I did a review at Homeschool Literature about a family trying to decide if they want to homeschool their children. This book is called Katy. Another book that might be helpful for a child to see the day to day of another child homeschooling is Allison's Story, which is written for younger children. Check out my reviews to see if theses books could benefit  your family.

Whatever your reason is for wanting to start homeschooling, or even considering it, knowing the basics is the first step to success!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Curriculum review: Aleks math


As a member of TOS crew both of my children were given the opportunity to try out the online mathematics program Aleks. What is Aleks? This is from their website:

Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking.
ALEKS also provides the advantages of one-on-one instruction, 24/7, from virtually any Web-based computer for a fraction of the cost of a human tutor.

I admit that I have tried this program before a couple of years ago but neither one of my kids were quite ready for it. This time seemed to work a lot better, especially for my daughter who is 10. I was really impressed with the way the initial test could set each child's individual level. My son who is 12 but developmentally at a lower level started out doing well with it until it became more challenging for him. With his disability he requires a lot (I MEAN A LOT!) of repetition before he truly knows something,especially if it something he isn't particularly interested in. So I found that for him there wasn't enough review for him to get the problems right without me helping him extensively. He did seem to enjoy the program though and looked forward each afternoon to trying it out with me. My daughter? She loved the fact she didn't have to do a ton of repetition when learning a concept and the review that came the next day was the perfect amount for her.

Both children really enjoyed the pie that kept track of their progress. At the end of doing lessons for the day they both would ask to see their pie graph. (this illustration below is showing the middle school math but we are doing the elementary math)



I plan on continuing out the rest of the school year with my daughter using this program. In the past for math we have concentrated on on one math skill at a time but I really like how this teaches different concepts at the same time. This seems to help with the monotony of just doing problem after problem of the same thing. 

The program isn't just for children either!  It can be used for high school and for adults wanting to continue their education.

How much does ALEKS cost? A subscription to ALEKS costs:

$19.95 per student, per month, or
only $99.95 every 6 months, or
only $179.95 every 12 months.

Learn about their family discount program.

What better way to find out if it works for your family but to try it yourself?

If you would like to read what other TOS members thought of this program check out their reviews!

Disclaimer: I received this product from TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are how this program worked for my family.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What type of homeschooler are you?

When we began our homeschool journey (it's been 6 years this month woohoo!) I tried to follow a very structured course of action with all that we did. We took our son out of public school a little over halfway through his kindergarten year and at the time my daughter was in preschool in the morning so that made it easy to work with my son in the mornings. This really helped in getting him caught up in some areas that he wasn't being taught at school but was capable of. The next fall I started homeschooling both of them. I really wanted to try classical homeschooling. Also I wanted to buy a boxed set of certain subjects to simplify things but instead it complicated things for me as I had to do a lot of prep work. Having a child with a  learning disability requires a lot of extra time with physical therapy,occupational therapy, and a lot of specialized doctors. Add in the fact that a child with special needs requires a lot of extra time period. I'm not complaining (ask anyone that knows me) but that is a fact.

If I had to put a type on us I would say we are eclectic homeschoolers. I always start each year out with a plan of action still but often a few months into it I have to switch my approach, even if we are learning the same goals, to something different. A good example would be that for years I have used a certain series of math curriculum that focusses on one skill alone at a time until it is mastered. This worked well with both children for several years but a month ago we were able to try out a different math curriculum that focusses on a wider range of math skills at one time. Guess what? For now it is a great fit!

Another hurdle I have encountered that has gotten bigger this year is that it is pretty much impossible to teach both kids simultaneously. I have to work with them one on one.  It seems to be working itself into a groove though that works for our family. In the last four months my 10 year old daughter has started doing a lot of her work on her own. She likes to wake up early  (before me I'm a night owl;) and independently does her Time4Learning school work. She gets it done a lot easier also as normally her brother sleeps later than she does so the house is completely quiet for her. So then I get up and get breakfast for everyone (sometimes she cooks as she likes to make breakfast) and then I sit down to do A~man's computer work with him. Meanwhile she either reads, crochets, or writes letters to family and friends. I like our online curriculum as it covers pretty much everything but in the afternoon we often do a lot of hands on activities like using our Lego education kits or get books from the library to back up our T4L stuff. Right now A~man is studying about Eskimos/inuits and Z~girl is studying about the Incas and Aztecs.

Another thing we like to do is field trips! Last week hubby took both children with our homeschool group to see a play about the underground railroad. I was disappointed not to go but I was sick and didn't want to share cooties. We go to several plays a year and lots of other learning adventures with our friends. Girl Scouts also has opened up such a learning opportunity over the years as we have a wonderfully creative leader.

So that is how we approach our learning adventure! I must say things rariliy get boring in our home with this approach. Sometimes I do find myself envious of my friends that are classical homeschoolers or those that have a neat and orderly way of doing things. We tried one year having a room JUST for school...but it just didn't work for us. I guess that is the neat thing about homeschooling, tailoring it to meet your own families needs!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


What exactly is a homophone? Wikipedia says this-

A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of "rise"), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too.

Learning about homophones and other word skills can be fun with vocabulary games. Sometimes though if a child already has challenges with spelling, introducing the words together can be very confusing. It sometimes helps to teach the one spelling and meaning separate from the other one until the child has it solid in their mind. Growing up I remember being very confused with these three homophones in particular- there, their, and they're. I think I figured out "they're" first as the ' replaces the a in "they are". Next I learned that for the word "their" it had the i and meant that something belonged to them. A reminder for me using there is that the last part is the same as where. So if someone asked "where" you could say "there". Rereading that it sounds silly, but when learning sometimes things just trigger something in your brain to help you figure something out. I'm also a big fan of online homophone games to reinforce vocabulary skills. Of course that wasn't available when I was a child.

Here is a cute homophone video I found that is from Between the Lions.

I also found this online that uses homophones (incorrectly) to make a very punny poem.

 Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer

It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce unknown)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

TOS Review~KinderBach


Recently as a TOS Crew member I was given the opportunity to try out an online piano/music class. KinderBach is typically for children ages 3-7 but I decided to try it with my music loving 12 year old who has some learning challenges. He already takes drum lessons so he was familiar with some of the basics. KinderBach teaches beginning piano lessons and even some basics such as
note reading, rhythm, singing, and composition.


Music can help stimulate the body and mind and provides many benefits to children with developmental disabilities. When my son was a baby/toddler he slept a lot and the one thing that was sure to get him active was when I played a variety of music for him. He would just start MOVING!


When I sat down with my son to try KinderBach out I initially thought he would think it was too silly/young. Surprisingly he was glued to the computer screen. A cool thing about that is, because of it's simplicity, he was able to do it completely on his own. (a lot of online programs require me to be at least sitting by him in case he needs help or needs to be redirected)


The online lessons start out at $7.99 for a one-year membership (you can buy a one-month membership as well), DVD with CD packages start at $40.45 plus shipping, CD packages are $23.95 plus shipping, and there are several low-priced (some even free!) games, crafts, and coloring books. KinderBach also has a classroom program that would be great for a preschool classroom!
I would definitely recommend this online program to introduce a preschool/kindergartner to the joys of music. I would also recommend it for a child older than that age that has developmental delays or challenges. Oh, and you can try it out for free for two weeks of online lessons by subscribing here.

If you do decide to place an order, use coupon code TOScrew2012 to receive 30% off of any order - homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs!

~Disclaimer: I received the chance to try out this product for free in exchange for my honest review. This is my own opinion and no other compensation was received.~
Click here if you would like to read other TOS reviews on this product!