Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Transformation=Identity Clarification

Oh how I have missed my blogland friends. It was 2+ years ago that I started this blog and found myself literally for hours a day scouring fabulous, creative, amazing, and downright genius ideas for decor, thrift store transformations, baking tips, dinner tricks and how to throw an amazing party whether it was for a birthday or simply a Tuesday done up in style!

It seems like that year I learned a lot, tried a lot, moved out of my comfort zone, bared a bit of myself, read a lot and then I felt like my blog purpose had disappeared..when would I be done decorating? When would I feel finished with adding touches to my home? As much as I love every single idea..I started to realize that while I love changing things in my home, I have a home with 5 sons and a husband that I never push them over a certain point and make it a ruffle-infested, delicate environment (despite my inner craving to have it be just that!). I know that Nerf guns will be played with, even silly string as was the case just this past weekend! Chasing two dogs around the house, wrestling and of course dealing with the everyday blunders of simply trying to train boys to pick things up off the floor, consider color coordinating before washing their laundry, maybe next time folding their clothes and NOT putting them on the floor...???

So where did this leave me and my blog?

I was happily chosen to do homeschool product reviews this schoolyear and we have really enjoyed the opportunity. I started blogging them all separately and then I didn't enjoy the format so well so I brought it all back to this blog.

SO where am I headed? Good question. As my blog title states, I live a prayerful driven life and that has definitely taken me down many unexpected but blessed roads!
I have felt for a while that the more I focus on home decor, the more dissatisfied I feel with what I have. That can be hard when you have all wood trim in your home and wish you could do the white airy look that is so popular. When you and your husband created your home in neutral, warm tones and you start collecting white pieces for decor that never seem to get cozy with your theme...what do you do? You decide to be at peace with what you have and prioritize what you think is the most important.

My priorities these days are connecting with my husband, running a household (not the leader, but the household chores, functions, etc.), homeschooling my two sons, living and eating healthy lifestyles, natural health maintenance which can include making my own cleaners, handsoap, tinctures and more. Then I have women's ministry, a new home-business I have started and these are all just at the top of my list. SO with this being said...uh oh..the dots came out... :) I think the shift that this blog is going to take in the very near future is updates on our homeschool journey, reviews and starting to share with you the things that I have been learning, reading, discovering and thoroughly been blown away to finally understand. These things include health, natural healing, dietary information and so much more.

I hope that you will join us and I am NOW--yes just in the past two weeks--a proud owner of a laptop. This will finally give me more freedom to update my blog more than once in a blue. I will aim to be regular posting, will you be regular and come join me and let's explore, learn, laugh and move forward together? I hope so!

Talk to you very soon!!!

Classical Academic Press - Song School Latin Review

Last year in attending our local homeschool convention I learned of the importance of teaching children Latin along with roots of words to fully comprehend spelling and meaning. I had attended a Latin/Grammar magnet school in 8th grade but do not remember much of it to share with my kids. I was stifled at the idea of teaching them a language I couldn't remember how to pronounce.

Enter Classical Academic Press...we were given the opportunity to review this wonderful product and we jumped at the chance! I was excited to see this particular one, Song School Latin, came with a cd of songs to reinforce and help with memory. Perfect! My son and I are both musical parrots, we can hear songs and memorize them quickly!

So what is different about Song School Latin?
It is a a workbook for grades K - 3rd grade with clear pronunciation information and background of the two types of pronunciation--that may sound boring but it isn't. That is not all! It has pictures and words to learn for each lesson along with the words to songs and questions and practice pages. Along with the cd that comes with the book. Each weekly lesson is peppered with songs, illustrations, hand-writing practice, stories and activities for easy mastery and memorization. Follow Simeon the monkey through the book and learn over a hundred engaging everyday Latin vocabulary words.

My son loved the cd immediately and wanted to blast through and listen to all of the songs. I loved seeing him retain so much information after just one lesson! He was proudly telling Dad that night that the Latin alphabet is missing one letter...what is it? The answer is W. Can I be honest here? I took a year of Latin and I never knew (or remember learning) that there was no W. The cd is a great reinforcement of each lesson and we listened to the songs a few times per lesson and he did all of the pages of the lesson without once trying to move on to something else.

Pros: Fun, educational, easy to retain method and enjoyable to teach!
Cons: Singing songs throughout the day in part English and part Latin. :)

The Song School Latin book and cd is available for $22.95, they also have the Teacher's Edition available for $22.95. There are more options like the extra fun matching cards available and you can find them on the website here:
Check out the other programs available through Classical Academic Press while you are on the website.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Big IQ Kids

BigIQ Kids is an e-learning site for kids. The site concentrates on the primary subjects for elementary and middle school students. The focus and intent of BigIQ Kids starts with structured learning mixed with fun. The daily lessons build good study habits, lead to better grades and improved self-confidence.

My two sons excitedly created their accounts and enjoyed browsing and getting familiar with the site. It offers customizable avatars which they enjoyed creating once they had earned some credits trying out the spelling and vocabulary sections. I was excited at the opportunity for them do an online spelling bee, practice the state names, math and reading.

There is a vast amount offered on this site, many are customizable, making it easy to line up with homeschool curriculum and subjects, fit for practice for a student to do at home and many other options. There is so much to explore and utilize on this site!

How It Works:

The Spelling program has over a 40,000 word dictionary, and comes pre-loaded with 40 lessons or word lists.

Math: You can set up a child's lesson to mirror what they are doing in their current curriculum. For example, if the child is on double digit addition and single digit multiplication, the program can focus on just these two areas providing invaluable practice and reinforcement that is certain to provide them with the tools to ace their next test. Or, BigMathTime can automatically generate grade specific and subject specific lessons as per your requirements.

Vocabulary: With an extensive library of elementary through SAT prep words, BigVocabTime comes pre-loaded with word lists OR, as a parent or teacher, you can easily enter your own word lists and the program will automatically create a week’s worth of lessons, quizzes and tests around your own list with the goal of achieving 100% on the week’s vocabulary test.

U.S. States: Every elementary student will be confronted with the need to know their US State facts to mastery. BigStatesTime is the ultimate tool in learning the state's location, capital, spelling, abbreviations and general state facts. The program allows parents/teachers to add additional facts which will be included in the child's lessons and the program culminates in a “State Mastery Exam” that, if passed with 100% mastery, awards the child a State Master Certificate.

Also offered on the site are Analog and Digital Clock Practice, Measurements, Phonics and eBooks. You can even have a spelling contest with your friends or family!

What you don't know about BigIQ Kids:
It is a FREE website, although they have excellent upgrade for $9.99 and premium options from $19.99 to $99.99 for all subjects. I would highly recommend the upgrade! My kids were highly motivated to do the daily lessons and work because they earned credits to use towards games.

The primary differences between the BigIQkids FREE and PREMIUM programs are the ability of the PREMIUM program to monitor the progress of the student and advance that student only when mastery of the subject matter has been achieved. Additionally, PREMIUM members have their progress tracked, saved, problem areas identified and these findings are reported via email to parents and/or teachers. The PREMIUM program offers students customized buddies, full game page access and the ability to save game coins and gaming high scores. These functions help double the fun while mastering core academic subject matter. The PREMIUM program has very LIMITED advertisement and no ads are displayed during lesson interaction.

We give BigIQ Kids a definite thumbs up! My kids enjoyed their lessons and jumped at each opportunity to get online and do them. I liked being able to track what they did without having to sit with them during each lesson. I hope you will go check out the program BigIQ Kids and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as we did!
Thanks BigIQ Kids!

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Artistic Pursuits Review

As a parent and especially a homeschooling parent, I find great joy in seeing the creativity in my children become unleashed. Recently we were able to try the Artistic Pursuits curriculum for K-3 An Introduction to the Visual Arts. As soon as we received it in the mail my son got out his art supply kit and couldn't wait for me to start going through the projects with him.

The Artistic Pursuits curriculum is nicely done with art history, instruction, supply lists, even down to the questions asked with each project. I have to admit that while the questions were not hard, I wondered in my mind if my son would catch on to the details they were trying to get noticed. He answered every question quickly with ease giving me more of a confidence with each page as we used it. I was impressed to be able to help teach such a great program and also learn to look at art with a new eye.

The lessons are not long and drawn out, they seem to be the perfect amount of instruction, technique and examples. I think what makes Artistic Pursuits so appealing for a child is seeing the professional artistic examples and on the next page seeing drawings and artwork done from someone from their age group. I feel that it brings more confidence out in their attempts at their own creations. My son was often the type that didn't think he was good enough compared to someone else. Instead, he does art daily since using Artistic Pursuits and has told everyone he wants to be an artist! He practices daily and draws covers of books along with numerous other inspirations.

In Book One the lessons are divided into three sections as follows:

•What Artists Do: Ten lessons cover activities artists engage in when making art such as imagining and observing. Children explore drawing and painting techniques, gaining experience in pencil, color, and brush work.
•What Artists See: Seven lessons cover the elements that artists use in 2-dimesional and 3-dimensional works such as shape, form, and color. Children explore collage, paper works, and color mixing. Children gain experience in handling scissors, glue, and paper forms.
•Exploring Ancient Art: Fifteen lessons cover ancient art from the cave paintings of France to book illumination of the 13th century. Children see that art is more than just a picture on a wall. Cultures used it in different ways and for different purposes. Lessons expand the child's ideas of what art is and where we find it. Children explore mural, pottery, low-relief, paper art, bookbinding, mosaic techniques and more.

Would I recommend Artistic Pursuits? ABSOLUTELY!! I am thrilled with the excitement my son shows with art and creative works now!

Artistic Pursuits is available at their website: They offer curriculum for preschool through high school. The book we reviewed sells for $42.95. If you are looking for an engaging, visual way to teach art, I believe this is a one stop shop! It is interesting for my children, but also likewise for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and the lessons and taking art further than the basics that I could think of on my own.

Albert Einstein said, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." I believe Brenda Ellis matching this quote with her curriculum and amazing ways of connecting with the students and parents alike.

I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for my thorough use and honest review of them. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.