Friday, September 19, 2014

Patiently Still- 52 weeks of Family Scripture Memorization

Did you think I forgot you this morning?  Running a little late around here!

To start off- this is the verse we are working on this week.  Heads up- we will add on to it next week as well.

These memorization posts were never meant to be a commentary from me really, just a 'hey, here is a verse or two we are working on, won't you join us" kind of thing.  But surprise surprise.  Sometimes I have something I want to share with you.  So.... today I want to comment on a few phrases that really struck me in this verse.

Ummm, really?  Being still is hard for some of us in this family.  I have a bouncy boy who does not sit still.  I have a preteen boy that has places to go and people to see.  I have two girls very busy with life.  We do life and often we do it at a fast pace.  So to BE STILL, well, that is hard. 

But it is God-commanded.  Did you know that God does not make suggestions?  The Bible is not a list of "hey, why don't you think about this?" verses.  Just like when I tell my son to sit still to keep him safe, God commands us to be still.  Not to take away our fun, but to ground us, calm us, and give us the opportunity to sit at His feet.  The only true place of safety.  

Well, we all know how good I am at this.  NOT!  Patience is not my strong suit.  How about you?  Just last night my family had a discussion about being box checkers.  Identify a problem, find a solution, fix it and check the box- move on.  We are guilty of that a lot of times.  But sometimes we cannot just take matters into our own hands and check a box.  God commands us (there is that word again) to wait patiently.   Sometimes the process God has for us takes longer than a moment or a day.  And sometimes, many times, He asks us to wait patiently for that process.  

I think I can hear a few of my friends snickering as I type.  Fret use to be my middle name.  It is a battle I face daily.  I am a worrier by nature.  But I am working on it.  Because 1- God said DO NOT FRET and 2- because I trust that He has got it- whatever "it" is.  And I want to live like I believe it!

Ok, so I know the verse is about so much more that.  Remember I said that these Scripture memorization Fridays were about hiding God's word in your heart, not a Bible study.  That I am not  qualified for.  But each time we read and learn a new scripture the Lord pricks my heart, challenges me, and reminds me of His love for me.

Remember that love today and take time to teach it to your kids.  You will be forever blessed!


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Student Logbook- Schoolhouse Crew Review

We have been blessed to be able to use and review My Student Logbook the past month or so.  Of course, since my 7th grade son was the one using it, he choose the My Student Logbook Jets.  Luckily for you, there are nine other choices to pick from.  Me, I would have gone for the one called Freedom. ;)

Made by a fellow homeschooling family of nine, My Student Logbook was birthed after looking for a way to keep track of their children's progress with school and other tasks - even on days that mom was busy and not able to micro-manage everyone's schedules.  Together, mom and dad fine tuned the details of a similar notebook system and came up with the My Student Logbook.

Simply put, it is an open ended "planner" that allows you to write down the tasks you want your child to complete each day and has boxes for each day of the week that your child checks off once those tasks are complete.  There are 53 weeks of planning space and it is spiral bound and has a clear plastic protective covering to keep it from getting too beat up.

You can order the Logbook in several different formats, depending on which suits your family best.  One choice has dated columns for a school year (Aug. 1- July 31), one for the calendar year (Jan. 1- Dec 31) and one is non-dated, allowing you to fill in the days of the week in the order you prefer. (M-S, S-S, etc)  You can choose which cover to put on any of the formats!

Also included are-

   1 Color paper divider
    1 All About Me page
    1 Prayers and Goals page
    1 Bible Verses Memorized page
    3 Books Read pages
    3 Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, and Activities pages
    3 Test Records pages
    1 Year Highlights:  My Favorite Memories from this Year page
    Heavy black plastic back cover


My Student Logbook Review
You do have a quick set up but rest easy- you can do it!  Just a quick cut of your scissors and tape job to add the flap for assignments and you are ready to go.

How does it work?
You choose what tasks you want your child to accomplish.  Write them on the left hand flap, tuck in a new week page and you are off.  Once your child completes the task he or she checks off the box.  Once they complete a week a new page is tucked in and you start all over again.  Need to adjust the assignments?  Not a problem!  Just fill in a new task sheet, tape it in and off you go.
Here is a quick video to show you what I mean-

How did it work for us?
Like a charm!  I really surprised myself with how much I like this product!  We have used several methods of keeping up with assignments and none have worked well for long.  The new-ness wears off and we get sidetracked.  This time, not the case!  For my 12 year old son, I made a list off all of the subjects he has for school as well as chores and other activities.  He keeps the Logbook on his desk in his room and checks off things as he works through the day.

Here is what has struck me through this process.  One - I am not the keeper of the schedule anymore.  I love that.  This system has put the responsibility back into the hands of my son.  It is a great thing!  Second - it has given us both more freedom.  He does not have to continually come ask me what is next or if he can be done for the day.  He knows that when things are all checked off, he is done.  Simple as that.  

The other detail I like is the time column located right beside each task.  If something we do requires a time, I can write in the time fulfillment needed or he can write in how long it took him to complete the task.  For high school transcripts this is a must have.  It is much easier to build a transcript when you have documentation of time invested into each subject!  Trust me on this one!
I do prefer the non-dated planner as we school year round and so dates are not huge for me, but of course, that is a personal preference.

The Bible Verses memorized page is great for families like ours who memorize scripture together as a family or attend church programs that include memorization.  The All About Me and Highlights pages are a great way to document your school year for a fun memento as your children grow up.  Trust me, they WILL grow up and you will want to remember these years!

So, do we like it?  YES!  Do I recommend it?  Yes!  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how this simple little planner will change your day and that of your child's!  In a good way!
You can purchase My Student Logbook for $15.00.  If your child can make check marks, they can use this!  If they are on readers, you can easily draw a picture to represent each task!
You can find My Student Logbook-
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Alpha Omega and 2nd Grade Math

I have to be honest with you from the start- I have used the same math for 16 years with my children.  It was only a few years ago that I added in a second math for the older kids.  It was hard.  But as I eyed our current 2nd grade math choice for this school year all I could think about was UGH.  Then I flipped through the table of contents and sighed a second ugh.  Patterns he knows.  Simple math facts he knows.  Teddy bear counters I am tired of.

And then the opportunity to choose and review any program for Alpha Omega Homeschool Publications came and I did a happy dance.  I love God's timing and wisdom!

Alpha Omega Publications (AOP) is a Christian, curriculum company that has been around for a while and is known for their strong curriculum choices.  Actually, I had the privilege of using two of their electives several years ago with much success.  Alpha Omega offers a full line of curriculum for grades Pre-K through 12th grade in four distinct formats.  Their well known Switched-On Schoolhouse is a computer based curriculum offered for grades 3-12.   If you have a visual learner or an auditory learner who loves the computer you should check this out.  Lifepacs are a series of booklet type workbooks that are self directed in their teaching approach.  Monarch is an online based, automatically graded curriculum offering 5 core subjects and over 35 electives.  It is offered for grades 3-12.

Horizons is a brightly illustrated, teacher directed program for ages Pre-K through 12th grade.  Because of my need to expand our own horizons last minute in math, I choose to review Horizons 2nd grade math.

Included in the second grade math set are two student workbooks and a pretty intensive teacher's manual.     The teacher's manual has a 29 page introduction that I highly recommend you read.  It includes the whos, whats and hows of the program.  It then has a two page lesson plan or summary of how to teach for each corresponding lesson in the student activity book.  It also contains the answer keys for each worksheet as well as additional student worksheets to copy and use.

Because I have been doing the same math FOREVER, it has been a long time since I actually read a teacher manual for math, so this one overwhelmed me at first.  Luckily, that did not last long.  Each day is well organized and written out.  Objectives and teaching tips are listed as well as what worksheets will be used and any additional materials, supplies or equipment you may need.  Then each step of teaching for that day is listed with a clear explanation of what to do.  While it is not really scripted, there is an occasion further explanation of how you would word something to better explain it. Once a concept is taught, you are directed to which small section of the workbook your child is to complete.  Once they complete that section you will move on to the next one.

Because Alpha Omega uses the circular teaching approach, once a new concept is taught over a three to five day span.  Then for the next two months it is repeated every two weeks for continual review and practice.  A four week break is then followed again by a three to five day review and then cycle continues.

How did we make this work for us?
Well, I am a rule sort of gal and so while I have heard lots of mommas say they do not always use the teacher's guide, for now I am!  To help me streamline, I read through each day and highlight the main points to be taught and hints on how to teach them for a week at a time.  This just helps me know what we are doing with a quick glance rather than have to stop and figure it out while my son waits.  We then work through the Student Activities one section at a time.  So far for us, each "day" typically lasts us about 30 minutes, give or take.

Likes and dislikes?
Mostly likes, honestly!  Up until now, my son, age 7, has been using one-colored worksheets with very little visual stimulation or interest.  One of the things that drew me to Horizons was the more engaging workbook style.  I realize that might not be everyone elses' bent, but I have found that my guy likes bright and colorful things and he tends to engage more with worksheets.  The other things I have found I really like is how AOP breaks down each student activity into sections.  Rather than just teaching something and then setting him loose with a worksheet on his own, we work together with a give and take.  For a fidgety boy who is easily distracted, this has allowed me to hold his attention more easily.  For students who get tired of writing, this also allows them a break every few minutes while you explain the next section.

The only thing I have found that I do not care for is the current lack of a manipulative set offered by AOP.  In the manual there is a comprehensive list of each thing you will need, from flash cards to counting chips, and which lesson you will need them for, but this busy momma admits to liking having the work done for me. I would love to see them add a basic math manipulative kit to their products!

Bottom line-
We have been very pleased with AOP Horizon Math!  It continues to stretch CJ by teaching new concepts and fits his learning style well.  We look forward to a successful year of math and a ton of learning!

A quick shout out to all of our fellow military homeschoolers.  Alpha Omega graciously offers a 30% discount for military families.  Call their customer support number to ask how to make that happen!

Don't forget you can enter to win your choice of curriculum from Alpha Omega in this incredible giveaway!


U is for U Picked

So as we are coming close to the end of the alphabet with my friend Marcy at Ben and Me, I knew I was going to struggle with a few letters.  I mean really, who actually uses the letters U-Z?  So I thought I would have a little fun and ask my friends what U is for.  And a few were brave enough to take me up on the challenge.

So this one is for them...

Underwear- This one I will just leave simple- As my momma always said, make sure you have a clean pair on each morning, in case you are in an accident, of course.  ;) Yes, my sons, that means each week I had better see 7 pairs in the laundry that need to be washed.  Why do boys need that reminder? Seriously!

Ultimate utensils I cannot live without- Hmmm, a few months ago I would have said my wheat mill right away, but since I now have a child who is wheat free, times have changed.  I guess I would have to go with my Crock Pot and my paring knife.  And yes, I am sure the crock pot is a utensil.

Utilizing curriculum- Well, most of you know I am a curriculum junkie.  I love reviewing it and using it.  That's often a problem.  Did you know that there are just not enough hours in the day to use all of the great stuff available to homeschoolers out there? Just saying.  Because every once in a while I try to fit it all in and my children threaten to leave home.  Or at least tell the principal on me.

Uniform- We don't have one.  But if we did, we might just school in our jammies all day in front of the fireplace.  I am pretty sure that is what most homeschoolers do, right?  Oh, and if my oldest had had a say in it years ago we would have had uniforms.  She begged- and the principal said no.  True story!

Understanding-  This one made me think, thank you very much. So here goes...  I long for understanding.  I am a people pleaser.  I want people to be happy.  Not necessarily with life in general, but with me.  Well, with life too, but mostly with me.  Sad, but true.  I want people to know my heart and what makes me tick.  I want people to understand me.  We actually lost a few followers after my pig post, and received a few nasty comments (which I deleted because it is my blog and I can do that).  But it really bothered me and I was sorry we lost friends.  However, I am not sorry  for my post. I would only be sharing part of my life with you if I only shared with you the fun and the lovely.  Butchering may not be lovely, but for many of us who eat meat, it is necessary.  And while it may not be my new favorite hobby, I do appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to know where my meat came from and how it was treated. It is a small comfort.  My prayer is that while you may not love every thing we do or every decision we make, you will appreciate and understand that this blog is full of honesty- what you see is what you get.  I am blessed you are here- I pray you are as well.

Uncomplicated- Ha, right!  See above point.  Blogging IS complicated.  So is life.  Just let me tell you about the past month in my life sometime.  Life pulls us in a million directions sometimes and it is so easy to become COMPLICATED.  I think that is one of the many reasons I love homeschooling.  And one of the many reasons I am such a homebody.  Those things allow me to simplify.  To say no to the extras and yes to my family and the people and things I love.  I desire uncomplicated.  It is a process I am currently working on.

So that sums it up.  Silly but fun.  The letter U, brought to you by friends (you know who you are)!  Love you guys!


Ben and Me


Friday, September 12, 2014

Overwhelmed by God-52 weeks of family scripture memorization

I have to share with you that this week I have been overwhelmed with God's love and faithfulness.  Like, have had to catch my breath, overwhelmed.  I am one of those people who tends to get overwhelmed when the road gets rough.  I know, I know...I am working on it.  But this week, instead of being overwhelmed by the challenges - I was overwhelmed by what God was doing in and through those challenges.  In a good way.

God loves us ALWAYS.  He is faithful ALWAYS.

Why would we ever doubt that?
This week, let's remind ourselves and our children of how much we are loved by God!

Blessings, Michele

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