Sunday, July 29, 2012

Liebster Award

A week ago a couple of wonderful fellow bloggers gave me an award!! I can't tell you how this made my day. I'm going to do two separate posts for it and the first award was the Liebster Award. Momma of 4 Cuties gave it to me.  Admittedly, I did not know what Liebster meant, hahah. Evidently it is German and means: sweetest, kindest, nicest,dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, values, cute, endearing, and welcome. I'm not sure about other bloggers but sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself here in blog-land. So to get an award totally tickles me. This award is given to up and coming bloggers that have less than 200 followers. The winner of the award has to tell 5 random facts about themselves, and nominate 5 blogs for the Liebster Award.

OK first, 5 random facts about me. Hmmm...

1. I am a total night owl. Seriously, if I am in bed before midnight it is early for me! 

2. I am VERY quiet in person unless I know you very well and are comfortable with you. I think this makes some people VERY NERVOUS, haha. 

3. I am from a tiny town that had a population of 500...including cattle. ;)

4. I struggled with infertility for about 10 years.

5. I still want a pony. Yes I was one of those horse crazy girls and I never outgrew it. I will get my pony. :)

Now I get to pick 5 blogs. I have been thinking about this all week! 

1. On a Life Less Perfect -This blogger also has a son with Prader-willi Syndrome. I love to read about her families challenges and triumphs.

2. Amazing Adventures of Ayden Jane-This is another blogger that has a child with PWS. Let me tell you this little miss has spunk! I love reading about her antics. I hope I can meet this family some day as they are not that far away from us.

3. HEART'S CRY- I actually went to high school with Heather in that little town I mentioned in my random facts. She was a "country kid" though and I was a "city kid". HAHA! I always wished we had lived on a farm! She has grown into an extremely wise and thoughtful Christian woman and I'm guessing she still has the same contagious laugh she did in high school.

4. Just Outside of Ordinary- "Cortana" (not her real name;) is one of my best friends EVER. Seriously. Even though she lives on the opposite coast we have been through infertility woes and every type of special need incident you could think of. I have met her once in person but text with her several times a week. She's like a life line during the times I would like to pull all of my hair out.

5. Peskypixie's Blog- I call L my aussie twin sister as our birthdays are very close and I can identify with so much of what my dear friend goes through. We have a lot of the same interests but she is much more productive with her talents. She is so crafty, creative and has a heart of gold. I REALLY want to visit her one day.

I highly recommend reading these 5 blogs. I always look forward to reading what is going on in their worlds!

I love blogging! Such a fun way to express yourself and quite honestly at times, vent. I'm hoping to get my daughter started blogging this year as a part of her creative writing curriculum.  Thank you so much for the Liebster Award Momma of 4 Cuties!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

HearBuilder Following Directions~Review


Hear Builder is a software program that helps children improve their auditory skills and their skills in following directions.

  • Follow increasingly difficult directions
  • Demonstrate knowledge of 40 basic concepts in five areas:
    • Basic Directions
    • Sequential Directions
    • Quantitative & Spatial Directions
    • Temporal Directions
    • Conditional Directions
  • Individualize each student program
  • Set levels of difficulty for each activity
  • Identify and print learning objectives for all levels
  • Add background noise at any level
  • Monitor progress and track data for an unlimited number of students
  • Track all relevant data
  • customize and print reports


About a month ago we received Hear Builder in the mail to try out with our son. The program is typically for ages 4-9 and even though he is 12 I thought he could benefit from it due to his different learning challenges. We sat down ready to work, I put the CD in and NOTHING. I kept on typing in various names but it would  not advance the program.

So we emailed the company in hopes of getting some advice on what we may be doing wrong with the program. They responded back quickly and gave us a list of things to trouble shoot and I let my more techie than me :) hubby do what they suggested. It didn't work. So we emailed again and they gave us a few more ideas. It didn't work. So I emailed them again but this time I received no reply. Meanwhile, I started to panic a bit as I was supposed to be using the CD with my son. As a last straw I had my husband try it out on his laptop. It took some adjusting of cookies but he was able to get it to work! I was happy...and relieved.

Our son normally does really well on the computer so he was definitely a willing participant! Did he like it?? YES! He loved it so much we had to make him stop. (he didn't want to quit!)


The program starts off in a toy factory...what could be more fun?? Follow directions well and you too can make toys and have a toy factory of your own. There are different rooms in the toy factory.

There is a tool room where you follow-
  • basic directions
There is a toy machine that you follow-
  • sequential directions
  • quantitative and spacial directions
  • temporal directions
  • conditional directions
You click on certain items to earn things like a lab coat, screwdriver, measuring tape, saw, etc. Each set of commands becomes more difficult as the child progresses. The program is colorful and entertaining! Sounds, actions and verbal praise are given at each step as a child issues a correct response.

I'm still not sure why the program will not work on our PC, but still I was very pleased with this product. I highly recommend it to my mom friends that have children with special needs as well as typically developing younger children.

HearBuilder Following Directions Home Edition
Coupon Code:        BLGFD30
Save 30%    Expires 8/31/12

I received this product through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Homeschool art

Every year our family looks forward to a downtown event that is put on by a local merchant. She started the event after seeing her own children when they were younger, drawing on the sidewalk in front of her shop. It has been an annual event for the last 16 years! Here is a video from last year that advertised both our local airport and the downtown "Chalk It Up" event.  (I was one of the many local people asked to draw on the was so much fun!)

This year, much to the kids and my disappointment, was rained out. Fortunately though, it had a rain date scheduled and the event took place yesterday. Both kids were very excited. (almost as much as I was!) A~man chose once again to draw a tractor. The boy LOVES John Deer tractors!

We've been participating in the event since A~man was 6 and Z~girl was 4. While taking a short break from "summer school", this event is a nice way to incorporate a little art into our week. I remember the first couple of years we were lucky if we were able to get A~man to even draw a few squiggles. Which was fine of course as we were just doing it for fun. This year though was the first time he has REALLY made a large recognizable drawing. Notice the autograph too? :)

A~girl excels in creativity! She has always done amazing sidewalk art. (says her gloating mama) She also stresses about what she is going to draw for weeks. (I wonder where she got that? lol)

 Even after choosing what she was going to draw I could tell early on that she thought her picture wasn't going the direction she wanted it. She pulled it together though and it came out so whimsical! 

It looks so much better in person. The sun was shining so bright that it's hard to see the detail and color.

We LOVE art in our house and this fall we will be adding some online art classes into our learning. To tie things up I will add my art from yesterday too. I wasn't going to as it didn't work out the way I originally had planned either. It still was a whole lot of fun though!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Professor B Math Review


Who IS professor B anyway? 

A man named Everard Barret was a professor in the the math program at a college in New York. He also taught high school mathematics in Brooklyn, New York. He wanted to find a way to improve math scores. He found a way to get 5th and 6th graders to do better than 9th graders from the same community. This accomplishment showed the way that Evarard Barrett's special math methodology could help improve the level of mastery in lower socio-economic areas of New York.


How does his program work?

Professor B Math is an educational website that helps a parent become the instructor capable of teaching the level of math the child needs with no advanced preparation. It's all there already. It was created for children Pre-K through 8th grade and is divided into 3 levels.

Level I
Pre-K-2nd graders and remediation of older learners. Introduction to addition/subtraction facts, counting to one hundred, basic addition and subtraction. Continuing on to more advanced addition and subtraction, place value fractional parts and order, time, and money.

Level II
3rd grade-5th grade with remediation of older learners. Multiplication/division facts, problem solving, introduction to fractions, fractional equivalence, and addition and subtraction fractions.

Level III
 6th grade-8th grades with remediation of older learners. Multiplication/division of fractions, decimals, percents.

There is a free placement test to determine which level your child should start at.

Initially, I admit I was confused as there is no sound with the program. There is a really good reason for this. Because this program is not a game, the purpose is not to leave the child by themselves during their time using this program. The parent as the instructor guides the child through each lesson. This ensures that the child is paying attention and not merely clicking through each task which could be easy to do. The program has voice bubbles that are the instruction the parent gives to the child.

A really cool aspect of Professor B Math is that you can print off worksheets to go along with many of the lessons.

For my 10 year old daughter I started Level II but began at the division section as she has already mastered multiplication. At first both of us were very confused with how they did it, but in the end the explanation really helped her to understand the concept of division much better. Division has always been very difficult for her. I really like that all of the information is laid out for you so you do not have a lot of planning simply sit down and guide your child through each lesson.

I started my 12 year old son on Level II also but we began at the multiplication. He has developmental delays so is behind what most 12 year old children would be at for this age. It was a neat way of doing it using your fingers/hands...a similar way in fact to how I was already approaching multiplication with him. They have a way of trying to quicken a child's response time to each fact. I can see it being beneficial to most students but because of the fact my son processes information slower he was not able to keep up with the speed. The good thing is that you can stop partway through (his attention span would not allow a whole lesson at one sitting) and go back to it at another time. It is a little tricky finding where you left off as it doesn't save this information BUT I found a way around this but just writing it down on a piece of paper as a reminder.

Here is the pricing-

-1 level is $20 a month
-2 levels are $35 a month
-3 levels are $45 a month

They have a new price for a yearly subscription that is not stated on the website yet. It can now be purchased for $100 for 3 years access to each level.

I would recommend Professor B as a great program to go along with an existing math program. I can definitely see how it would ingrain the information in a child to retain what they are learning.

Please check out what others on the Schoolhouse review crew have to say about this product!

Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary access to the Professor B Math program in exchange for my honest review.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

This week flew....

I cannot believe it is Sunday! Looking back I'm not certain where last week went. It was a lot cooler, so between rainstorms we would hike and play outside. When it was too hot to go outside we would play some  online educational games or in Z's case, destroy our dining area with craft supplies. ;) On my birthday Thursday we even took a hike in the light rain. It was sooo nice and cool. Yesterday we went to see a part of some waterfalls that we frequent, at a section we haven't seen before.

It had a really neat covered bridge on it. I'm hoping to bring the family back there in the fall to do some family photos as it was the perfect setting. (although there were a LOT of people there today despite this empty photo) 

While it wasn't really hot, the humidity was so high due to all of the rain we have gotten and the air was absolutely thick. On the way back down Z~girl got unusually quiet, lost the bounce in her skip, and almost passed out! I'm guessing it was because of the mugginess.

Thankfully dad has a good back and carried her the rest of the way.

After that we got some Icees from Burger King and headed home to watch some educational videos and also some movies on Netflix. UNFORTUNATELY I ran out of time this week to do the backpack tutorial but it is on my TO DO list for this next week. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Planning for next year

I may be the only person that doesn't already have a solid idea of what we are doing for sure in our homeschool in the fall. We really haven't stopped for the summer. Sure, we take some days off but A~man is working on reading and Z~girl never stops reading. I was an avid reader as a child but I think she has me beat for the amount of books she has read at almost 11 years old. She has more opportunity all year long, as when I was in school, we had a lot of busy work that was required. We do not do a whole lot of busy work...unless it appears they need some. ;)

Here is what I do have planned for this year. We will still be doing our online curriculum and we do this about an hour a day. We will be doing these unit studies for science in addition to some nature notebooking. For Z~girls Reading/Language Arts we will be using this curriculum. I also want her to take an online writing course this fall. I'm still trying to figure out what to use for history that doesn't take a lot of planning...and this is also a subject that I love, but that I need help with. (it was definitely lacking in my education growing up) Math? I have no idea what to use.

For A~man right now I am concentrating on him relearning all of the dolch sight words. So this summer I have really been concentrating on him learning to read better. We are slowly going back through the sight word list and I have been making some worksheets I found online for the words. (we do not normally do a lot of worksheets so he is enjoying them!) With his special needs it always seems like it is two steps forward, one step back...with everything. But seeing that he is progressing really does make it awesomely rewarding!

It continues to be HOT here and I'm hoping to do my first tutorial in my blog this week! (it's a fun, easy, inside project) Z~girl had a birthday party to go to yesterday so we made the birthday girl a backpack. I have made many of them and hope to share how incredibly easy it is to make...and the best part is you can find what you need to make it around the house. If you do not have a sewing machine it can also be sewn by hand. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

10 things to do when it is too HOT to play outside.

I cannot remember it ever being as hot as it currently is here in NC. It's not the fun hot, where it is easy to cool down playing in the sprinkler or going to the pool. It is 100 degrees! We live in the mountains and I am just not used to it. This pale mama gets  pink walking from the house to the car! Plus, with A~man having Prader-willi syndrome, his body does not regulate extreme temperatures the way most people's body can. Our AC was even out for a few days during this heat wave, with the AC repair man not being able to come fix it until Monday. THANKFULLY, it started working Friday afternoon. Here's a list I came up with while looking around the internet of things to do inside when it is too hot to stay outside for long.

1. It's very important when it gets hot outside to stay hydrated. Here is an easy and very refreshing lemonade recipe or if you want to kick things up a bit, old fashioned pink lemonade. The recipe is so easy that even your kids could make it! What's neat about both recipes is that there is no artificial food coloring or high frutose corn syrup. It only has basic ingredients and I plan on making the pink version tonight after I send hubby to the grocery store. (I'm NOT going outside again while the sun is up;)

2. Make playdough! Even though my children are almost 11 and almost 13 *gulp* they still love to make and play with playdough. I especially like the kind that you use Koolade to color it as it also makes it smell so good!

3. Here's one we have never tried before (YET!) which could also be a fun science project. Flubber!

4. Speaking of science, here are four activities that I cannot wait to try out with the kids soon.
5. Are you ready for a little creativity for your clothes? Create an original t-shirt with Bleach Pen Painting! (highly recommend supervision :o)

6. Glow sticks in the tub. Not just for toddlers I say!

7. Listen to Homeschool Radio Shows online. I haven't listened to these yet but I thought it was a fun idea for some indoor afternoon entertainment.

8. Make your own terrarium. Bring the indoors in where you can stay nice and cool.

9. Play online Hangman (or hangMOUSE to be exact) or do an online word search puzzle to add some fun learning to their day.

10. Don't forget kids having fun in the kitchen. Here is a lunch recipe that looks super yum that won't heat up the kitchen, and would be simple enough for an older child to make by them self. (and maybe make YOU one too!)

Check back this week as I plan on coming up with another list of fun things to do when it is too hot to play outside. What do you and your children do to stay cool and entertained?