Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set: A Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Review

In school English class was definitely my sweet spot, mostly because in reading I had an abundance of empathy for the characters/authors experiences.  Sharing that love of literature with my children is a personal thrill in that way.  I'm thankful to be able to share with you this latest review Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources that provides a full year curriculum based on some great literature! 

What We Received:
We were given two books, a (consumable) Student Workbook and a Teacher’s Manual.

How It Works:
Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set is a full year’s curriculum of Literature, Composition and Grammar that is divided into weeks.  How many days you spend on this curriculum each week is up to you and very adaptable.   Each week there is a variety of assignments that may include:
  • ·         Reading Journal
  • ·         Dictionary Pages
  • ·         Sentence Puzzles
  • ·         Diagramming Sentences
  • ·         Poet Biographies
  • ·         Discussion Questions

The teacher’s manual provides various schedules for you depending on how much time you want to spend on this subject per day and/or how many days per week you have to spend on it.  The curriculum allows for you to read aloud, the student to read portions at a time or to read the text all at once and then complete the activities.  The teacher's manual is very helpful in preparing ahead of time with the week at a glance that includes the language concepts that are covered.  It also does a great job in giving the parent a heads up about certain intense topics brought up in the books.  While the curriculum is very flexible, it is a complete program.  Using it as a supplement could be done, but it would require a lot of piecing on the parent's part.  It seems to me that you should use the entire program to really get the most benefit out of it.The different texts that are covered include:
  • ·         Sarah, Plain & Tall by Patricia Maclachlan
  • ·         Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
  • ·         Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • ·         Random House Book of Poetry for Children
  • ·         Ramona & Her Father by Beverly Cleary
  • ·         The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck
  • ·         Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • ·         The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
  • ·         Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

How We Used It:

We decided to just start at the beginning with Sarah, Plain & Tall and we found a reading of it on YouTube so my son sat down and listened to that on morning while I took care of a few things.  After that we would do a couple of pages a couple of days a week in the Student Workbook.

What We Thought: 

We loved it! The variety of exercises was just right and the choice of literature was definitely engaging to me as an educator.  The grade level seemed on point and the containment to a student book and teacher's manual (aside from the literature books themselves that can be gotten at the library) was very easy to keep up with.  As is the case with most literature, the discussions could carry over into other ages very easily which makes it useful for more than just the grade level child.  Since this is our first time with this company and their products, now I'm interested to see what else they offer in other grades!  If you are interested in other grades, click on the Crew link below to see what other crew members reviewed and their experience.

Hewitt Homeschooling Resources on Social Media:


Since this is our first time with this company and their products, now I'm interested to see what else they offer in other grades!  If you are interested in other grades, click on the Crew link below to see what other crew members reviewed and their experience.
Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Trip to Arkansas

Simply Classical Writing - Step-by-Step Sentences: A Memoria Press Review

Our educational system is very compartmentalized simply because it is easier to evaluate that way.  Students are divided into grades and sorted by scores.  The reality of learning and development is that two people will never grow at the exact same rate in the same way.  We as parents get caught into the milestone game from day one where delay is bad word and a different approach is automatically called therapy.  We let other people's labels and schedules push us into corners that usually don't help and borderline hurt students.  This may seem like an odd introduction to a couple of writing books, but Memoria Press's books: Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) and Simply Classical Writing Book Two: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) with Teacher Key, taught me a very important lesson about the skewed perspective we are so often taught.  

When these books first arrived in the mail, I noticed Memoria Press Special-Needs at the top and immediately started worrying there had been a mistake.  My kids are not classified as special needs so I was afraid that I had misread something and committed to this review as if they were.  Turns out, Memoria Press offers books like this that simply go at a slower pace and break down the subject into smaller chunks than traditional methods might.  This approach seems very appropriate for those with learning difficulties, but what surprised me was how spot on this approach was for my son whose only learning disability is his gender! Ha!  My son loves to read and is great at the things he loves, like the piano and baseball and soccer and cooking.  Do you see a pattern? He loves things that comes naturally to him and he can accomplish them without hesitation!  Things like long division or writing more than a sentence or two are hard because they take time.  

So, while he is not behind or having a difficult time with his grade level work, he does drag his feet a lot in certain areas, sentence writing being one of them.  As it turns out, this gradual " Step-by-Step" process is exactly what a boy full of boundless energy can get behind!

What We Received:
We received 3 books in all: 
Teacher Key corresponding to the above Book Two

How They Work:
Each lesson has a theme taken from a passage of scripture where various skills are then practiced using words and phrases from that story.  Both books work towards improving students writing skills through combining copywork, grammar, composition, and artistic expression.  There is a large focus on rules about sentences in the beginning of the books that gets reinforced throughout the lessons. The Teacher Key provides all answers and  some nice resources in the Appendix like a template for extra practice, a theme outline of the entire scripture scope of the book and a certificate of merit.

How We Used It:
The intended grade level of this set is 1st-3rd grade, which happens to be where my kids are at so I was able to begin using both books.  My daughter (almost 6) has started first grade work so Book One was right on target for level.  My son (8 1/2) is about halfway through 3rd grade, but often loathes sentence writing perked right up and never complained when we started him in Book Two.  In the Teacher Notes it has a variety of teaching schedules, but we chose the One-Day Schedule where you cover the entire lesson in one day.  The reason for this was simply because they kids wanted to continue working in the books because they enjoyed it. Made my decision easy with that kind of attitude!

Since our society categorizes children so automatically, it becomes a negative thing to consider them to be in a transitional place academically.  The truth is, though, they are always in some kind of transition.  Just because we say 2nd grade ends on May 31st and 3rd grade begins on August 15th does not mean their education is somehow still.  Learning is always transitional and finding resources that honor that reality is a huge blessing! 

Memoria Press on Social Media:


Memoria Press contributes significantly to the homeschool curriculum community and the crew reviewed several of their products including Spelling and History.  Click on the link below to find out what the other texts are like and how families used them!

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20: A The Old Schoolhouse® Review

As a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, I have been exposed to many companies, products and opportunities that are widespread in space and idea.  The blessings are many, but I have to say nothing quite compares to the gift of prayerful guidance that comes from the parent company, The Old Schoolhouse® I have never had the honor to do business with such a multi-faceted company that genuinely seeks to glorify God and bless me for being a part of it.  Today, I am sharing with you the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year that Gena Suarez, founder of The Old Schoolhouse, has authored again this year.  Even in this product, you can see their desire to support and help us committed but exhausted mamas!

There are planners upon planners out there to choose from, but finding a planner designed and suited for homeschooling is not easy.  Not to mention, we all work and plan in different ways with a different number of children, so one size doesn't usually fit all very well.  That being said, the Hey Mama! planner does a beautiful job of incorporating the many aspects of a homeschooling mother planning and keeping track of her children's education.  I've only just begun the job of homeschooling two students and mentally trying to prepare for three and it's just a little much for my brain!  I'm convinced that if you weren't already in the happen of writing stuff down, once you get to three students, heavy record keeping is a must!   

The Hey Mama! Planner is a spiral bound 189 page book that includes:
  • Academic Transcript instructions and template
  • Skills Checklist
  • Annual Calendars for 2019,  2020, & 2021
  • Monthly Calendars with Notes
  • Hey, Mama! Devotionals
  • Weekly Planners (dateless)
  • Curriculum Planning, Books Read, Attendance and Goals for up to 5 students

One of my favorite aspects of this planner is the weekly planner pages.  Covering two open pages, you have the ability to track up to 5 people in a couple of different ways.  I chose to list subjects to track each child in, but an equally useful way would be to track their day, as there are 7 spaces for 7 days of the week.  There are no dates on these forms making it very versatile.

In the planning section, there is a page for yearly, first and second semester goals.  I appreciate these pages so much because of the sub-headings that are included.  There is a space for each of the following for each child:
  • Educational
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Personal Talents
  • Life Skills
  • Financial
  • Relational
All of these categories certainly seem relevant to a high school student, but we don't focus on all of these with the same intensity with younger students.  The reality is that considering these things for younger students is arguably more valuable because of how much is still developing in their lives.  Whatever the age though, these are so important to consider and map out for our children.  One of the reasons I love working with this company, The Old Schoolhouse®, is the main reason I love this planner - both are working to keep me focused on the most important things.

The Old Schoolhouse on Social Media:

Twitter:  @TOSMag 

If this is something you could use in your homeschool, don't put off getting one! A little birdie told me these are close to being sold out and there won't be another printing this year.  Interested in seeing how other moms used it?  Check out other reviews through the link below:

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Character Building for Families: A Review

One of the deep desires of mothers everywhere is for their children to grow to be good people.  While sometimes we get sidetracked with physical success or failure, at the end of the day we pray that their character will be what shines about them.  The tricky part of that is that good hearts need cultivating and maintenance.  Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a couple of books that can help your family be intentional with building up those hearts with virtue and character - Character Building for Families, Volume I & II by Lee Ann Rubsam.  

Character Building for Families is a two volume spiral-bound set of topical Bible studies designed for families or small groups.  Volume I covers 12 character traits and Volume II covers only 5, but at length.  While every topic stands alone and accessible in any order, Volume II's topics are not as easily grasped by young children.  Virtues like Stewardship and Mercy in depth are better suited for older kids, whereas Obedience and Diligence are vital concepts earlier on.

The remarkableness of these studies is really in their simplicity.  There is not a large amount of devotional material, but rather wisely placed questions and scriptures to memorize.  The author's intent was to ensure that all of these character traits were given adequate time and study, but it certainly allows the parent/teacher to include their own illustrations or examples.  In some ways, it is more like an outline than anything else.  Each lesson is divided up into days and may last anywhere from 5 days to over 2 months, depending on the topic, but if we had the time more than one day's lesson could be covered in a day. 
The author, Lee Ann Rubsam, home schooled her children for 25 years, until they reached adulthood. Character Building for Families was originally written for her family. She continues to mentor younger home school mothers through social media and writing, including The Character Building for Families Blog.

As my oldest inches closer to double-digits, I am growing increasingly aware of the fear of missing something before it's too late. Character Building for Families is a great framework to facilitate all those important conversations!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tornado Tips From a Scaredy Cat

I was born and raised in Oklahoma so severe weather and tornadoes is something I'm very familiar with.  It's nerve-wracking - especially with kids, but it is nothing new to us Okies.  However, 2019 has brought more tornado warnings and flooding than we've seen in a while.  Being on alert and 'weather aware' is exhausting and worse when it extends multiple days in a row.  This scaredy cat has learned a few things about coping with tornado season that might help you if you're new to the subject.

First, understand that Oklahoma has some of the best technology, education and people on the job when it comes to severe weather and tornadoes mostly because we have to.  The National Weather Center in Norman, OK is located there for a reason!  Our weather is so unpredictable and varied that it is the perfect place to learn.  That means there is a LOT of time, money, equipment and energy being put into keeping people safe.  Knowing that helps me not feel so alone when I start to get nervous about the weather.

Second, know that more people die from flooding (drowning) than from tornadoes.  So, if you are sitting at home worrying about a tornado risk, you are already more likely to be safe than if you were out driving in a storm.  Even with all the tornado watches we have been under at my house this season, we only went to the storm shelter once and it was just in case. 

Still scared?  I understand and get nervous too, but there are a few things I've learned to do in order to not be a crazy person about it.

1) Geography. Know where you live on a map, including surrounding towns, counties, and local highways.  When news/radio people start tracking storms, they are going to start throwing out names of places.  If you have no idea where you are, how will you know to expect a storm or not?

2) Meteorology. Okies typically have a base understanding of severe weather science.  If you don't, here are a few terms to familiarize yourself with: Wind sheer, hook echo, dry line, funnel cloud, cap, power flash, etc.  Educate yourself on how storms typically move (northeast) so you can anticipate which storm is heading your way eventually.

3) Media.  Know and use your weather sources wisely.  It is always reassuring and wise to have more than one source of current weather information.

  • News/Radio. Here in the OKC metro, we have 3-4 competing major news stations that provide weather coverage and those are often streamed live on radio stations during severe weather.  They all are very competent while having their own personalities and styles, but still tend to heighten my stress levels. There is a local meteorologist that has developed his own app and utilizes Facebook and YouTube to predict storms.  He takes a much calmer approach that I prefer mostly because he tries to educate rather than create drama.

  • Social Media.  Decide which weather guys you prefer and follow them on social media! Facebook can be useful for forecast maps a day or two ahead and watching a live stream of weather coverage when you aren't using a television.  Twitter is a great source for up to the minute coverage and area specific information.  When we went to Arkansas and had a tornado threat, I got the best info from Twitter by searching #arwx (arkansas weather).  The same works for every state so my most searched hashtag is #okwx
4) Shelter. No matter where you live, not  having a safe place to go when in danger is THE scariest place to be in.  That doesn't mean you have to have the latest storm shelter, but it does mean you need a plan.  Never be in a mobile home or trailer if you are in the path of any kind of a tornado. NEVER. Find a friend, family member or neighbor who has a basement or storm shelter that you can share.  If you live in a house, know that a bathroom or closet in the center, lowest level of your house is the safest place to be with blankets, helmets, and/or a mattress.

5) Plan.  Make a plan in case you are in the path of a tornado.  If it requires you to drive somewhere, know how long it takes.  My father-in-law blessed us with a new storm shelter in our back yard after we moved here so I know it takes about 1 minute to get my stuff, myself and the kids from the house to the shelter with a closed door.  Longer if I'm bringing the dog.  I have a box of important documents (birth certificates, ss cards, journals to my kids, etc.) and my camera bag sitting next to the back door ready to go on severe weather days.  What or whoever is in your charge, just make sure you have a plan that you can execute if necessary.

6) Finally, but most importantly, pray.  From the moment you start worrying to the point that the storm has passed, be in communication with God.  It builds your faith, calms your soul and gives you something productive to do when your anxiety is spinning out of control!