Friday, June 29, 2012

The Sixth Grade Line-Up

Well I don't know what the weather was like at your house but it was hot here. Crazy hot!

So we packed up our suits and towels and headed for Water Country. A few hours floating down the lazy river was a great way to beat the heat.

And that was pretty much all that we accomplished this week. LOL

So in light of our easy week, I thought I'd share what we have planned for Mackenzie in sixth grade. Typing out the words sixth grade in reference to my daughter made me a tad sick to my stomach. Boo to middle school!


We'll be doing a little combo for Bible this year, since we've received so many wonderful review items for this subject. The Apologia is more of a devotional type study and the Classical Academic Press is more of a "study the Bible" study. I think they'll compliment each other well. And we're only about half done with both of them so together they will get us through the school year.

Apologia What We Believe series

God's Great Covenant New Testament by Classical Academic Press

Social Studies

Since we extended out our Sonlight core from last year, we will continue on with that until we are finished.

Sonlight Core F Eastern Hemisphere


Math-U-See Zeta

Supplemented by:

Life of Fred Decimals & Percents

In the hopes of helping her dread math a little less, I'm going to attempt to add in more living math opportunities now and then.


Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day

We're going to be doing the experiment portion of the study as a little co-op with our friends. We're very excited about that.

Language Arts

Growing With Grammar 6

Institute for the Excellence in Writing, Student Intensive B

Word Roots, A1 & A2

Sonlight readers and read alouds for Core F

Arts & Languages

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

The World's Greatest Artists study

Artistic Pursuits

Visual Latin

Private Piano Lessons at Young Musicians of Virginia


Soccer, basketball, and cheerleading through Beach Junior Athletics

And that's what sixth grade will look like at our house. At least until review items come pouring in. lol
What are you using next year?

Linking to the Weekly Wrap-Up, Blessed Beyond a Doubt,  and Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with the Over-Worked Postman

I'm just going to be honest right up front. We didn't get a thing done this week. What we did was answer the door. Open a box. Answer the door. Open the box. Answer the door. Open a box. Over and over.

It was our most favorite time of the year. Box Day!  Or Box week, to be more accurate. I finally ordered our curriculum for next year.

First, and foremost, I'd like to give a shout out to all the companies that I ordered from. Each and every one of them sent me a confirmation email detailing my order, notified me of shipping and included tracking links, and got my orders to me in under a week. Not to mention that the boxes contained packing lists.  After last year's curriculum fiasco, that started with a shipping nightmare, I really appreciate good customer service.

So to Sonlight, Timberdoodle, Math-U-See, Christian Book Distributors, The Critical Thinking Company, and Joy Center of rock! I'll gladly throw my money your way again.

But our poor postman. Nine boxes. He had to get out of that truck nine times. The poor dear. Well only eight times, as Mr. Fed Ex brought the Sonlight box. (And he got off easy because that was only 20 lbs this year.) And thank you Mr. Postman for not trying to shove them in our teeny, tiny little box for once. Your effort to walk up our drive in this heat is appreciated.

The most important box was, of course, the Sonlight box. It is always, hands-down, our favorite arrival because 40 pounds of books goes over big when you have three book-aholics in the house. Except that this year the box was only 20 pounds.

It was a little light this time around because we weren't ordering a full core this time. Mackenzie is going to finish up Core F, Eastern Hemisphere. It's so fascinatingly awesome that we've been taking our time with it and savoring the learning. Not to mention adding in Review Crew items.  I imagine she'll be done with it by January or February so we'll get a 40 pounder then.

So what was in the box? Well we updated core p 4/5 for Kayleigh. Ours is seven years old so we thought we'd update it for her since she'll basically be using Mackenzie's hand-me-down curriculum for the rest of her life. It's the least we could do. She was so excited with her books. She already has a favorite and has been taking it every where and "reading" it. Bless her precious little heart.

All Mackenzie got was Artistic Pursuits since she won't be taking art at our co-op next year. (She wants to take dance lessons again and something had to give. Although if that ankle doesn't start behaving she'll be sitting in a chair doing nothing. Ugh!) Mackenzie was particularly thrilled with the drawstring tote meant for her art supplies. It now houses library books.

In other boxes...We ordered our Math-U-See, Apologia Swimming Creatures w/experiment kit, Word Roots, Growing with Grammar. We're trying Institute for Excellence in Writing this year and Life of Fred. Mackenzie was over the moon for the Life of Fred books. Actually my husband and I were enjoying them too. LOL I think they'll go well with her Math-U-See.

Kayleigh also got a few things from Timberdoodle: Purpllinkers for letter fun, Language Lessons for Little Ones (I saw it over at Delightful Learning and had to have it lol), and a cute little math book from The Critical Thinking Co.

I was going to do a detailed list of next year's curriculum with this post but I've changed my mind. I need to watch Whale Wars now. LOL

I don't even know why. It irritates me. I don't want to see the whales slaughtered but the ridiculousness and hypocrisy of the Sea Shepherds infuriates me and makes me root for the whalers every time. Seriously. If only they wouldn't kill the poor whales I could stop feeling badly about that. I might have to go donate some money to a save the whales program not run by nut buckets.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Review: IXL


Practice makes perfect, and IXL makes math practice fun! IXL allows teachers and parents to monitor the progress of their students and motivate them through interactive games and practice questions. Widely recognized as the Web's most comprehensive math site, IXL offers a dynamic and enjoyable environment for children to practice math. Students who use IXL are succeeding like never before.

About IXL

IXL is comprehensive. With math practice for grades pre-K through 8, more than 1,000 skills and an unlimited number of problems, IXL has everything your students need to excel in math. And just to be sure, IXL's problems include a mix of styles, including multiple choice and fill-in-the blank, to ensure skill mastery.

IXL is easy to use. Designed with a clean, uncluttered interface, students won't be distracted from their math goals, and parents and teachers can monitor students with simple, yet powerful, tools.

IXL is exciting. Students tackle challenges and earn rewards for their accomplishments. Math problems become increasingly difficult as students progress to ensure full comprehension of each skill.

IXL is informative. Parents and teachers to track their students' progress using IXL's vast library of detailed reports. Select from multiple options within each report to customize the data to suit your needs.

IXL is standards-based. The skills in IXL are aligned to standards for each US state, as well as Washington DC and the Department of Defense Education Activity. You'll never be surprised by those test scores again. And when you know which skills are problems for your students you can give those areas extra attention.

Our Experience

It was very easy for me to set up and it was very easy for both of my girls to use. For the non-readers, there was a little button that they could click so that they could hear the problem or choices read out loud to them. It was easy for Kayleigh to use on her own.

Basically, this is a math drill program. It is not designed to teach your child new concepts but, rather, to give them practice with skills that they already know. This makes it very compatible with every math program. When the student does get a problem wrong, there is the option to get an explanation. This was very helpful to my older daughter.

I really like the program. I like that it's easy for the kids to use. I like that it explains mistakes. I like the multitude of reports available that help me track their progress and problem areas.

As for the girls, this was not something that they beg to play. As I mentioned, it is a very straightforward drill program. There is no story, adventure, or cutesy character to make you forget that you are doing math drill.

The rewards are very basic. You complete so many minutes/correct problems/master skills and you earn a "reward." The rewards are on a game board screen and you click on a particular square to reveal the "prize", which is just a picture of a toy that you will now see in that particular square.

My four year old would get a kick of revealing her "prize" but it wasn't enough of a motivator to get her to ask to play with it on her own. She only gets on it when I require it. As for my math-hating 11 year old, the reward system does not motivate her at all. She needs the "bling" that makes her forget that she's practicing math.

So while it doesn't meet the fun factor for my children, I feel that it does everything else that it claims and we will continue to use it.


Age Range: pre-k through eighth grade
Price: $9.95/month or $79/year Additional kids can be added at a huge discount.


Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to this program for review purposes. All opinions are my own or that of my children.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Review: Creation Illustrated


Creation Illustrated is a Bible-based nature journal published by Tom and Jennifer Ish, a homeschooling family. Published quarterly, this magazine has been referred to as "The Christian answer to National Geographic" due to the fabulous photography.

About Creation Illustrated

Mission Statement

Our purpose is to share the wonders of God's creation. By revealing fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design, pure truth shall bering renewed peace. Each part of this publication is offered as a reprieve from the daily rigors of life so that all can look to the future with unbridled gratitude and hope.  

**Each edition is divided into three sections: Creation Illustrated in Nature, in Scripture, and in Living -- to provide the mental, spiritual, and physical enrichment that everyone needs for balanced growth and education.

**There are uplifting spiritual, character-building lessons for students and family members of all ages in every feature -- Christ's method of teaching eternal truths through the things He made.

**The Instructional Guide in the back of each edition helps homeschoolers glean facts and spiritual lessons from each story.

**Garden features, activities, and a youth nature photo contest help youth and families unplug from the computer and get out into God's Creation to build a meaningful relationship with Him and each other.

**There are even Genesis Cuisine Recipes for homemakers to be creative in the kitchen with their children.

Our Experience

When we opened the package and found these four beautiful magazines were inside, we were excited. The magazine itself was on thick, glossy paper. The photography is simply stunning. The articles are captivating and, as my daughter described them, touching. With scripture woven throughout each page, it's like getting a devotional and a science lesson all rolled into one. And they are a great spring board for deeper discussion.

The instructional guides are also wonderful. They give you suggestions for devotional readings for your students along with comprehension questions for the articles. There is also a word search, youth photo contest, and suggestions for more hands-on activities.

My daughter is really enjoying the articles and discovering the many beautiful places that God had created. She is compiling a list of places to visit based on what she's been reading. She has also requested another subscription as a gift.

This beautiful magazine would be a welcome addition to any home.


Age Range: Great for the Whole Family
Price: $19.95 per year (4 issues), deeper discounts available for extending your subscription time out

Great News!!! Creation Illustrated is offering a FREE ISSUE as part of a subscription offer.  Just go too.


Disclaimer: I received a free subscription to this magazine for review purposes. All opinions are my own

Field Trips, Get Wet Edition

For us, one of the many perks of homeschooling is field trips. The ability to go on more than one field trip a year is such a blessing. In our homeschool, we go on a lot of field trips, at least one a month. Some of them add to our learning. Some of them give us a break from our learning. All of them are enjoyed.

We're pretty consistent about continuing our outings through out the summer. The main difference between summer trips and school year trips is that a great deal of our outings involve water. Lots and lots of water. Living in the South is hot and we like to keep cool.  It doesn't hurt that we live near two water parks, are only a few miles from the Atlantic, and there's a pool at the end of street.

So where do go for get wet fun around here???

Well seeing as we live in a beach town on the Atlantic, the beach is the most obvious choice. But in all honesty, the beach is my least favorite place to go in the summer. Dirty sand, loads of people, burning sand, crowds, sand all over my car for weeks, too many people, sand in the girls hair for days no matter how many times I wash it. =o) We do try to take the girls a couple times a year but it's not a favorite haunt. When we go we tend to stick to the beach on the military bases or bays in state parks. While my body and my hatred of cleaning sand do not enjoy the beach much, the camera loves the scenery.

You might not think that a zoo is great place to go for some water fun but here in VA the zoo, while not much in the animal department, is a cheap place to go in the summer if you want to get wet. Spend an hour observing the animals, it really only takes an hour, then cool off in the splash area. Be careful around the exhibits though, you might find yourself getting wet in an unexpected manner if you don't pay careful attention.

At the Botanical Gardens you can enjoy flowers, learn about butterflies, eagles, and tons of other creatures in nature, participate in learning programs, attend concerts, and splash around in their awesome splash area. Since you pay by the car load, fill up your van with friends and enjoy the day.

Our favorite summer place to road trip in the summer is Water Country USA. Just a mere 45 minutes away from home, we enjoy spending our summer splashing away with our friends. In fact, we just kicked off our summer fun there this past week.

So what special trips to you take in the summer? Leave me a comment and share your favorite summer outings.  And be sure to visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to find out what my crew mates are planning for their summer field trips. The link won't be live until Tuesday, June 19 so be sure to check back so you don't miss the fun.


Also linked to: Back to School Monday,  Preschool Corner

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One With a Show

It was an exciting week at our house. It was show week for Kayleigh at The Little Gym. She danced her little heart out. (I might have had to bribe her with ice cream afterward to make this happen.) All of her adoring fans came out to support her. Thankfully she danced anyway. The promise of ice cream outweighed her dislike at being the center of attention. If you're good readers, I'll share her mad dancing skills at the end of my post.

Now on to the schooling...

Mackenzie's Happenings

Mackenzie is still living large in the land of "not much to do." Yet still she gripes. I'm seriously over the "tween angst." In fact, I might write a blog post of all the random things that set hormonal tweens off. I've actually been compiling photos of these items (or people as the case may be.) So if you see a picture of a dinner plate on my blog one day, that's why.

As punishment for the drama, I took a photo of her doing math. When she saw the camera she said, "Don't take a picture of me doing math. I'd like to forget about math." So of course, I took the picture. Now had she had said, "Please don't take a photo of me doing math..." I'd have still taken the picture. =o) I can't help it. It's what I do.

So there she is doing math. Dreaded fractions and word problems at that. She should be grateful that she is able sip on a refreshing glass of ice water while doing math. Some children are forced to do their math while feeling parched because they are only allowed liquid refreshment at certain times of the day.

In the world of science, we're finishing up our unit on the senses. She didn't gripe terribly about this and we're basically done except for two experiments. One required a sunny day and we've had nothing but rain. The other requires me to gather lots of items for tasting. That will wait until Kayleigh, who's also "studying" the senses, gets to taste. I'd rather only have to gather and prepare once. ThankYouVeryMuch!

We were mostly working on sight this week and did a couple of activities. We tested her vision. About what we expected. So was mine. Perfect 20/20 baby! Our favorite activity was testing our night and color vision. If you've got some colored pencils, a piece of paper, and a poorly lit room you are ready to go. Take your supplies into that poorly lit room, grab a pencil, look at it, and then write down the color that you think you're holding on that piece of paper. When you're done, turn on the lights and have a good laugh at the results.


If she thinks her load is heavy this week, wait til next week. Check out my sidebar. Lots of reviews coming up. Ha! Actually it won't be too bad. Just things like typing and some map work. I know she'll LOVE the mapping. Maybe not so much the typing drill.

In the land of the broken ankle, she's still hobbling around in her walking cast. We're hoping that it comes off on Tuesday so that we can start our summer fun. Like maybe a trip to Water Country on Wednesday. Fingers crossed!

Kayleigh's Happenings

Kayleigh's been busy finishing up some crafty stuff from last weeks letter P activities and pressing on to Q. And dancing of course.

I had to have her do this peacock craft that we didn't do last week. It was too cute not to do. All you need are some washable markers, a coffee filter, blue or green construction paper, fancy-smancy cocktail toothpicks, googly eyes, paint, and a spray bottle. Preferably one that sprays a light mist. She was hooked when she saw the spray bottle. The spray bottle that comes with the Baby Alive Beautiful Now baby works great! lol

You just color the filter in peacock-like colors, mist it with water, and wash them run together and turn beautiful. While that's drying, cut out the body, glue on some eyes and a beak. Or you could draw them. Add legs too if you'd like. Tape your fancy-smancy tooth picks behind the head to make those feathery looking things. The technical term is a crest or crown but I prefer feathery looking things because I feel that is more accurate. =o) When the tail feathers are dry, glue that body onto it. Then dip that little munchkins thumb and make thumbprints to represent those eyespot looking things. The technical name for those is ocelli. But again, I'm going to go for the more accurate description cuz that is how I roll. None of those highfalutin, nonsensical words for me.

Isn't it just the cutest thing? The peacock I mean. I know it's hard to focus on it, what with that precious little face behind it, but I'm talking about the peacock people.

All About Reading and Raising Rock Stars Preschool

It was all about Q this week. Q, q, Q, q. I'm going to call out AAR on their choice for representing Q. It was a picture of a Duck. Now I know that they're going for the word quack but you just can't use an animal to represent the letters 16 times and then jump to a sound. It's not right. Kayleigh knows that duck starts with D. She knows it deep in her core.  I vote for quail. If quail is good enough for Fisher-Price to use in their ABC Zoo, then it should be good enough for AAR. I'm just saying. (Disclaimer: Despite the use of Nanny goat and Quack, we are still totally in love with All About Reading. For realz. We love it. I can't wait to be able to buy the next level because it looks like even more fun. Woot!)

Our skill in AAR was, once again, syllables. We broke down people's names into "parts" and clapped them out. She loved this. Absolutely loved this. She still does it at random moments. She doesn't always do it correctly but she sure tries. lol Our craft involved a duck quacking of course. And paint. She always loves the paint. And to point out that duck DOES NOT start with Q. Or q.

Our Raising Rock Stars verse was 1 Thessalonians 5:19, "Quench not the spirit." Easy to remember. Hard to explain. She sort of gets it. LOL

We finished up our Q activities and our P craft from last week.  As you can imagine, the verse was not long enough to suit her fancy. She debated about allowing to hang on the closet door with her other verses because "it's going to be embarrassed that it's not long." I managed to convince her that while it might be small, it's still good advice to have. LOL

We also read a long list of books about queens from the library. I tried to get her to dress like a queen for school but she was having none of that. Normally she loves to dress up but apparently not when it is my idea. The little stinker. LOL


We are still reading about our 5 Senses in the Flip Flap Body Book . Kayleigh just adores this book and  we are having fun with it. Lots of stuff to add in.

For sound we played a sound matching game. I put different items into plastic eggs and she had to shake them and match the sounds. She loved, loved, loved doing that.

For smell we had a cut and paste page that required her to color the objects that you could smell. We went around and "tested" each object first and then colored the ones we could smell with Mr. Sketch Scented Markers. Naturally we had to smell all of the markers first.

We had the most fun with the sense of touch. We used our sense of touch to play our 3D Feel and Find game from GuideCraft. We tested hot (warm) and cold items and then sorted them on a printable. And finally we used our sense of touch by playing with Water Beads .

First we touched them when they were dry. Kayleigh described how they felt to her. Hard, small, round, and rough. Then we added the water and waited. Or attempted to wait.  Truth be told, she was checking them every 10 minutes. Or sooner.

To say that she loves this thing is the understatement of the century. She is gaga for them. She can't keep away from them. Once they were hydrated she said that they feel "slippery, soft, round, and plump." She has taken to carrying them around in a ziplock container incase she has an emergency need to run her fingers through her "balls." She's holding them on her lap next to me as I type. If you haven't tried them with your child yet, you should. We added some spoons and little plastic cups for more play. I'm going to be looking for some small, plastic tubes to use with them too cuz that will be lots of fun.

In other news

She started her fourth You Can Read unit. It contains the word mom so you know she loves it. LOL We've also been introducing our Math-U-See blocks for some math activities, worked in Explode the Code, played a lot of UNO MOO, and had a few tea parties. Or 100.


Now on to the show...

The end!  Shew!!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: Sentence Builder by Mobile Education Tools

If there's one piece of technology that we love in our house, its our iPad. We play on it, watch movies on it, read on it, and learn on it. Lately we've been building sentences on it with a new app called Rainbow Sentences by Mobile Education Tools. What a fun way to learn sentence structure.

About Rainbow Sentences

From the creators: Rainbow Sentences is designed to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color coded visual cues. The who, what, where, and why parts of sentences are color coded to help students recognize and understand how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure.

Students will learn how to recognize the parts of sentences such as nouns, verbs, and prepositions, improve their understanding of how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure. Students have the opportunity to record their sentences in their own voice to improve their receptive and expressive language skills.

A few of my favorite features:

    ~Intuitive drag and drop to create sentences
    ~Words are spoken as they are being dragged for non-readers
    ~Words can be color coded for added visual support
    ~6 levels of sentence complexity
    ~Pictograph lessons to help students learn proper sentence structure
    ~Record feature allows students to record sentences in their own voice
    ~Students earn puzzle pieces during play to encourage continued play
    ~Puzzles come to life once level is complete

Our Experience

Having kids at both ends of the age range for this product, they both enjoyed it. Kayleigh was able to play on the easiest level, with two color-coded groups of words. All she had to do was drag the word groups to the matching line. And quite frankly, she it was also helping her with her reading skills too by reinforcing her sight words.

Mackenzie, in fifth grade, worked on the harder levels. For her I chose to have her work without the color-coding and with individual words instead of groups.

After you finish the sentence, it is read back to you. Then you are given the opportunity to record the sentence yourself. That was a big hit with all ages. Including the 40 year old. We might also be creating some silly sentences in addition to the ones we built. =o)

In the event that the sentence is built incorrectly, you are directed to a little mini-lesson that  gives additional instruction on how to build  the sentence correctly. You are then given another chance to correct the parts that you got wrong.

This app is fun and engaging and I love that it provides auditory, visual, and hands-on learning. Something for everyone!


Ages: 3-10 (or 40 & 1/2)
Price: $7.99


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes. All opinions are mine.


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