Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Ideal Curriculum recenently sent some of the Homeschool Crew the first month of their Preschool Curriculum. My Schnickelfritz is beyond this stage, so most of this review is based solely on my reading the materials, not on actual use.
The Level 1 curriculum is divided into nine month-long lesson plans for math, literacy, and science/social studies . This last category has a theme of the month (month 1 is about transportation). Other topics include health, color, weather, animals, and people and traditions of the community. This is not a unit study approach as far as I can tell. In other words, the literacy lessons have no reference to the transportation theme. The monthly lessons need to be done in order as concepts and skills build on themselves.
This program appears to be designed for use in preschools or day care centers. There are some role playing activites that require more than one child. The teacher's manual often directs you to "seat the children in a semi-circle around you," and uses terminology like "diologic reading." If I were a first-time homeschooling mom, I might be intimidated by the educational lingo or the assessment sheets.
I don't believe that preschool learning needs to be this structured. We spent our time snuggling on the couch reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Blueberries for Sal. Math and counting came naturally as we stacked blocks and arranged matchbox cars. I wanted to foster a love for learning, not learn anything specific. But if you are a first time homeschooler with truly no idea of what to do first, you may appreciate the planning Ideal Curriculum has done for you. You can sign up for a free one-week sample at their website.
The customer service seems to be on top of things. Several reviewers contacted them about one of the songs sounding garbled and in less than a week they emailed us a new recording.
The download version ($30.00 per month) includes teacher's manuals, mp3's of songs, pdf files of flashcards, worksheets and read aloud stories. A print version with a cd for the songs is also available for $55.00 per month. There is some savings if you order the complete year at once. Through May 31st, you may also use discount code welovekids for a 10% discount on first purchases.
You may see what fellow crew members think of Ideal Curriculum by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free download copy of the Level 1 Month 1 curriclum for the purposes of completing this review. I received no other compensation.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I'm having surgery next week and had to go to the big hospital in St. Louis for pre-operative assessment. My husband and Schnickelfritz tagged along. Both agreed that this was a very good hospital based on the fact that the waiting room had reclining seats facing the hi-def television--oh, they were sure the doctors and nurses were good too.
We were assigned to an examining room and all the medical staff came to us. During the waits in between we read the latest Hank the Cowdog book, The Case of the Secret Weapon. I try to read with enthusiasm, although I can't do all the voices like the author on the audiobooks. During this particular passage, Slim the cowboy was celebrating a day off by playing his banjo on his front porch in his underwear. I tried my best to improvise a tune for "Sittin' on the porch in my shorts." I imagine that I was amusing a lot of the staff because they eventually started to leave the door open in between personnel.
One of the staff had a noticible accent. I of course asked where she was from and she answered "Austria." She was curious why Fritz wasn't in school so we explained a little about homeschooling to her. Unfortunately, this didn't leave her much time to answer questions about Austria or what had brought her here. Fritz spotted her as we were leaving the facility and ran over to her with a sweet good bye, "Have a great day here in America!!" The nurse answered that she has many good days in America and we had to explain that she didn't have to commute across the Atlantic ocean every day.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
When the Schnickelfritz was baptized last month, we decided it was time for him to have his own Bible. We had plenty for Bible story books, but not an actual translation for him. Apparently we were no alone in our thinking because his Children's Minister also presented him with a gift Bible. Obviously, working with kids, she knew what would appeal to them--she get's The Hands On Bible.
This is a New Living Translation, which helps him understand what he reads or what is read to him. Throughout the book are science experiments, craft projects, journaling ideas, character biographies, etc. For example, when we read about baby Moses in the basket there is an experiment on floatation--it almost turns Bible time into a unit study. Fritz spent three nights looking for the "hidden messages," lillipution print directing the student to other Bible passages to reenforce ideas. His theme in Sunday School this quarter has been training to be a super spy, so he pored over the Bible with his magnifying lens.
In the back is a reading schedule. The schedule doesn't expect the kids to read through the whole Bible, but it does include hundreds of passages to give a good overview. We started this schedule and I was preparing to skip from Cain and Abel to the story of Noah, but Fritz saw all the numbers in Genesis Chapter 5. Fritz may be the world's first mathaholic so we couldn't skip this chapter. We started by reading the text--each man was a certain age, had a son, and lived so many more years having other sons and daughters. Fritz had to figure out each man's lifespan before I confirmed his answer by reading the next verse.
We then had a list of names, equations, and answers for each man. Fritz then wanted to add everyone's ages together, but even as he did so he recognized that there was overlapping so it didn't tell him how many years were covered in the chapter. We then mad a timeline on the board, coloring in each man's lifespan from start to finish. We also looked to see who lived the longest and the shortest. We discussed the fact that Methuselah could have spoken to Adam and Noah. And we talked about the extraordinary fact that Enoch never had to die.
I was so blessed to see how earnestly Fritz is taking his Bible study time and can't wait to continue this with him. I may even take some ideas to share with the boys at Royal Rangers.
Monday, May 10, 2010
My grandmother fell during the night and broke he hip. She was very apologetic, "This couldn't happen at a worse time." My aunt pointed out that there's really not an ideal time for a fracture. I didn't want to keep my Schnickelfritz at the hospital for hours, but we did stop by for a while to offer support to my aunt and uncles while they waited for the surgeon.
We joined one uncle in the cafeteria. The hospital staff was having a "Minute to Win It" contest to amuse everyone on their lunch hour. It was funny to watch doctors and administrators strap a kleenex box around their waists. The box contained eight ping pong balls and the object was to jump and wiggle until the balls bounced out. During a lull in volunteers, one of the nurses invited Fritz to take part. I knew one day it would pay off to have a wiggle worm for a son. He had the fastest time of the day--11 seconds, and earned a bag of Cracker Jacks.
In our family, we are all in favor of preventing/avoiding colds and the flu because once one of us catches a bug we tend to unselfishly share it with all--sometimes passing it around a second time. The Toolman has the worst problems as adolescent cancer left him without a lot of lymph nodes around his throat and respiratory system. When Beeyoutiful sent us a bottle of Berry Well I knew who was going to be our guinea pig.
According to the Beeyoutiful catalog, Berry Well is an immunity booster designed to help the body fight the flu, colds, "and a swarm of bacterial and viral infections." Fortunately for us (but bad for reviewing purposes), we weren't fighting any of those at the time. The Toolman took the daily doses anyway to see if it might alleviate some allergy symptoms (our air was thick with mold and oak pollen). I can't say that it helped the allergies, but that's not what it was designed to do.
Berry Well contains:
Elderberries --we've taken an elderberry extract before when we've felt a cold coming on and I believe it did help us recover faster.
Raw Honey -- this brings up a warning that it shouldn't be taken by infants.
Bee propolis and Echinacea root--I have read that echinacea shouldn't be taken on a continual basis. The propolis and honey carry a warning that you shouldn't use this if you have bee allergies.
I Raw Apple Cider Vinegar--this increases the body's alkalinity. It is also a very obvious component of the flavor. If you have kids that have grown up of sugary tasting vitamins and supplements, don't be surprised if they pucker at this.
I would be willing to keep a bottle of Berry Well on hand to use the next time we feel a cold coming on as I do believe it would shorten the recovery time. One 8 oz. bottle contains 16 doses and sells for $18.00 (you can stock up on 6 bottles for $14.50 each). The cost and the echinacea would keep me from using Berry Well as a daily measure to try and avoid the flu. I also recommed signing up for the Beeyoutiful catalog; they add some wonderful articles.
You can read what my fellow crewmates thought of Berry Well and other Beeyoutiful products by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free bottle of Berry Well for the purposes of completing this review. I received no other compensation.
Friday, May 7, 2010
A few weeks ago I did a review of the new All About Reading book What Am I? In it I mentioned a cute story about a skunk moving into a barn.
You know when the story ceases to be cute? When you're standing in your own back yard and the stinky varmit waddles out from under your barn door!!!! I had take the dog to get a drink from her water bowl and turned to see Mr. Skunk standing about fifteen feet away from me. Fortunately, I saw it before Della and was able to drag her into house without incident.
Fritz and I observed from the read bedroom window to see if the skunk headed back in the barn. He didn't. Fritz had to share the news via phone with his grandparents. He instructed them to only use whisper voices and let them know it was okay for them to breath since they were so far away but he was holding his breath. We watched till the skunk waddled around to the side of the house where we don't have any windows.
I ventured out the front door to keep tabs on our unwelcome visitor. The Toolman came home from work about this time. He ran to the back to put cement blocks in front of the three stable doors. Unlike the Skunk Hotel story, we were not allowing our guest to stay.