Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Veritas Press Phonics Museum App {TOS Review}

Teaching a child to read can be a daunting task!  While I do consider my upcoming 2nd grader to be a relatively proficient reader, it was really great to go back and focus on phonics while exploring the new Phonics Museum App by Veritas Press!  A perfect supplement to any homeschool early learning program, the Phonics Museum App is great for families who often take learning on-the-go!  We tend travel often for various activities and we were excited to review this digital homeschool phonics app that we could download onto our iPad or iPhone for busy days!  We ran it with no problems on an iPad mini running iOS 10.3.2.

Veritas Press Phonics Museum
What is the Phonics Museum App all about?
Veritas Press is a leader in Classical Christian Education and the Phonics Museum App is a great way to get your child started on the path of reading confidently.  The Phonics Museum App is multi-sensory and perfectly designed for children ages 3 - 7 as a way to get them reading through appealing songs, games and fascinating museum exploration!  Children will learn fine arts, history and more as they investigate the Phonics Museum with the help of 2 friends, Percival the Knight and Miss Biddle, the museum curator!  
Veritas Press Phonics Museum
Set up is a snap.  After downloading the app Maggie began her exploration of the Phonics Museum by following the prompts to set up an avatar.  She chose a spunky little girl avatar!  Once that was set she begin learning right away by taking the elevator to the first floor where each step of the app was intuitive and encouraging.  Upon exiting the elevator she would "jump in" to a painting where she would spend time learning with Miss Biddle, Percival the Knight (technically he is talking armor) and a whole host of other fun characters.   At each stop she would learn a new set of letters, their sounds, play a game and trace the new letters using her finger on the iPad.  We haven't made it that far yet (we are on the 4th floor) but by the end of the app, with Miss Biddle and Percival's help, your child will be reading words, then sentences and then full books!
Veritas Press Phonics Museum
As Maggie has made her way through each floor of the Phonics Museum I receive an email from Miss Biddle letting me know what she is learning and how she is progressing....

There are many other areas to explore in the Phonics Museum!  
From the foyer of the phonics museum you have the option to go to view the paintings you have already learned...each one representing letters learned on each floor.  You can also go to the game room where you can play completed games again and listen and review songs that you have already learned.

What we thought of the Phonics Museum App:
Even though Maggie is already reading, she has really enjoyed working her way through this app!  She loves it!  There is much to learn, even for a child that can already read.  What is great about the Phonics Museum App is that it provides your youngest children with the same high quality videos that you would expect from Veritas Press's self-paced video courses.  They didn't cut any corners with our young learners, the videos are interesting and engaging!
I asked Maggie what she liked best about the Phonics Museum App and she said, "I like the games and the lessons.  Miss Biddle is fun and creative.  Percival is silly.  I already know how to read but if I had a friend who didn't this would be good for them."

We have enjoyed using this product from Veritas Press and I admit, it makes me want to take a much closer look at some of their other products, especially the self-paced video courses! I know they go on sale every year for an amazing low price!  

Veritas Press

You can keep up with Veritas Press by following them on Facebook or Twitter.  Don't forget to check out their Pinterest Board!  It is full of fun ideas to help you in your homeschool!
Several of my crew mates also enjoyed reviewing the new Phonics Museum App from Veritas Press! You can read their thoughts by clicking the linky below.
Thank you so much for Swinging By!
Phonics Museum App {Veritas Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Outside The Home {TOS Back to School Blog Hop}

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Today we are blogging about what kinds of things homeschoolers do outside the home...  We do a lot!  I think it is a blessing for us to have the flexibility to go and do things while other kids are in school.  For us, we really LOVE a good field trip!  I think field trips are a fantastic way to bring learning alive!  We have enjoyed a variety of lessons through the zoo, museums, and more plus we having amazing neighbors that take the time to teach my girls things that I couldn't not teach.  
I'm excited to share our Top 10 favorite ways to find learning opportunities outside of the home!

#1.  Swimming Lessons
We have been taking swimming lessons at Diventures for 3 years now.  We usually only schedule swimming lessons for about one semester each school year.  Since we have to drive about 35 minutes one way, we get a little tired of all  the traveling, but we have found it to be worth it.  
We count it as PE credit.  

#2.   Piano Lessons
We have a next door neighbor who teaches piano!  It is wonderful to be able to send my kids next door on a bike or on foot to piano lessons.  I required 2 years of music and promised that, if they hated it, they could quit after the second year.  Well, this is their 3rd school year learning piano and I am so glad that they are enjoying it enough to continue.   

#3.  Handicrafts
I outsource this kind of stuff all the time!  Kayley really wanted to learn how to sew and we were excited that a different neighbor offered to help Kayley learn how to make some Christmas gifts for her family!  She goes every other week to work on sewing projects for about 1.5 hours.  Maggie is also making Christmas gifts by completing some no-sew projects with Gramma.  We have enjoyed learning crochet with Aunt Becky in the past and plastic canvas boxes with an elderly sister from church... There are so many older sisters from church who would love to help the girls with projects.  

#4.  Zoo
The zoo is such a great place to learn about animals.  (Of course!)  Animals are science...and science is cool!  Our zoo, The Dickerson Park Zoo, offers a homeschool class each semester called Zoo Keepers.  In Zoo Keepers the kids learn how a real zoo keeper works each day.  They clean out the enclosures, they brush the animals in the petting zoo, they prepare food, and make "enrichment materials" for the animals to play with.  The zoo also offers other classes during the year, but unfortunately, they fall on a Sunday and we have chosen not to attend.

#5.  Children's Museum
Our local children's museum is called The Discovery Center.  They offer amazing classes each summer!  Everything from Nano Technology to Chemistry to Anatomy.  The classes are a little steep, price-wise, but they have a lot of take-home science projects and it can be logged for several hours of science.  Our museum also offers parent/child dissection labs about 4 times a year.  How cool is that?

#6.   Inflight Entertainment
While traveling to and from many of these fun places, we enjoy squeezing in a little learning time by listening to audio books or having the girls watch the Inflight Entertainment.  We have a DVD system installed into our mini-van, which can be really handy for longer car trips!  Many times I do not offer choices for movies...sometimes you just have to tune-in to what is playing.  For instance, today we headed down to Branson...it is about a 1.5 hour drive and today's inflight entertainment will consist of  Getting to Know the World Greatest Artists: Rembrandt, NEST Entertainment's version of Pocahontas, and Torchlighter: The William Tyndale Story.  Art, History, and Church History!  Each compliments Week 3 of BiblioPlan Year 3.  Inflight Entertainment can also includes audio books and radio dramas.

#7.  Backyard Nature Study
Sometimes getting out of the house is as simple as getting out into the yard.  We just got our Nature Journals from The Good & The Beautiful and can't wait to get started with them.  There is SO much to see and do and it is all right outside our door.

#8.  The Bucket List
Many of the items on our bucket list are educational.  For example, Crater of Diamonds (geology), Fantastic Caverns (geology), The Magic House (science), Butterfly Palace (biology & botany), Crystal Bridges Art Museum (fine arts), Civil War Cave (history/science), and State Parks/National Parks.  National Parks are great because they offer the Junior Ranger Programs!

#9.  The Nature Center
Our local nature center offers the Conservation Kids Club.  They hold classes a couple of times each quarter about various topics.  This month is Insect-O-Rama.  We will learn about bugs and even get a chance to "eat a worm."

#10.  The Library
What more can be said about your local library?  Books, videos, games, and many other resources are found at your local library.  

And that is our Top 10 List of where we find learning outside of the home!

Thank you so much for Swinging By!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Top Ten Favorite School Supplies {TOS Back to School Blog Hop}

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Today we are blogging about school supplies!  I love back-to-school time when all the school supplies are cheap and in abundance.  I thought that I would share my top 10 favorite school supplies that I use all year round.  I only have a few things that I consider "must haves" but I am happy to share each one with you!  I'm sure my Type A personality is flashing with blinking lights during this post.  Haha!  Enjoy my list of Favorite "Must Have" School Supplies!

#1.  D-ring binders
Nope!  Not just any old binder will do in this house.  They absolutely must be D-ring.  They keep your pages neat and tidy and the pages turn so easily in a D-ring.  They also must have a clear plastic sleeve in the front so that I can insert a binder cover.  I require D-ring binders in various widths and colors...because I color coordinate whenever possible.  It's all about organization and looking pretty.

#2.  Bic Xtra Strong, Break-resistant lead pencils
The 0.9 mm lead is what makes this pencil so awesome.  I have 2 girls who push HARD on their papers when they are writing and we often end up with broken lead.  (And I'm always afraid that the little lead piece is going to poke someones eye out!)  Tracking down a pencil sharpener is frustrating too and they only sharpen so-so, soooo clickable pencils are great!  Plus these particular pencils erase cleanly!  We buy these pencils in bulk!

#3.  Time-Timer
We received this as a review product over 5 years ago and we STILL use it nearly every day in our homeschool!  Time-Timer has come a long way since then and is now available in more sizes and even in "fashion colors!"  It is pricey, but I cannot believe how much we have used this awesome little timer!  It is quiet so it works so perfectly for reading time and math timed worksheets and so forth.

#4.   Reading Window
(I suppose this is technically not a "school supply")  I know, most people have a reading basket or bin but we have taken advantage of this window that looks out onto our screened in porch.  This year it is decorated as Hogwarts library!  I put library books on display in the window that I hope the girls will pick up and read out of interest.  I have found that having living books on "display" makes it more likely that one will catch their eye!

#5.  Double-sided Tape
I can't believe I didn't start using double sided tape sooner.  It works great for nearly everything that kids would normally glue...only there is no goopy, sticky, white, slimy mess!  We have used our double sided tape from everything to sticking little paper thingys on worksheets to assembling entire lap books.  Loooooove double-sided tape!

#6.  White Board
Why, yes, I do have a big white board hanging in my kitchen!  Doesn't everyone?  LOL!  We use this board for everything.  Diagramming sentences?  Spelling practice?  To-do Lists?  Menu planning?  Yep, pretty much everything.

#7.  Student Planner
Our favorite is the God's Word in Time Student planner.  I got mine from Christian Book Distribution.   They are inexpensive and sturdy.  I do end up writing things in duplicate because I write one for each girl every week, but they really seem to encourage independence.  A plus: they file away neatly with each child's schoolwork giving a record of our accomplishments for the year and checking the box needed for our state's homeschool requirements.

#8.  Colored & White Index Cards
We use these for everything.  Spelling lists, flash cards, spines in a 3 ring binder, little stand ups for reminders on the table...  We like the color index cards because, well, YOU know!

#9.  Headphones
For math videos, for piano, for audio books...  Ahhhh...  blessed peace and quiet.

#10.  A good printer and printer paper
I print a lot.  And I mean, a lot a lot!  I love PDF downloadable curriculum that allows me to print something, throw it in a binder or have it spiral or comb bound.  Then I can change my mind and re-print, print more copies, or scratch the whole thing and start over if needed.  I always feel that I have to keep hard copies neat and clean, but with PDF downloads I can write all over them, file them away...and print them again later!

I look forward to seeing what the favorite school supplies of my fellow crew mates might be!  I will enjoy hopping through all the blogs to find out!  Thank you so much for swinging by at Swinging On Small Hinges!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


Monday, August 14, 2017

Our Favorite Curriculum {TOS Back to School Blog Hop}

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Hello!  Welcome to Swinging On Small Hinges!  

If you are visiting for the first time from The Old Schoolhouse blog I am so grateful that you took the time to swing by Swinging On Small Hinges.  I hope you enjoy your visit!

When I first started homeschooling I was SO nervous that I immediately jumped into an all-in-one video based curriculum.  I was so scared that I would mess up.  While we still have fond memories of that first year of homeschooling kindergarten I have since, over the last 7 years of homeschooling, loosened up a bit and have felt confident enough to branch out and try many new things.   And when I say many...I mean many.  Flexibility is one of the blessings of homeschooling!  Thank goodness for that because we have already made a couple of changes this year!

Some of my readers know that I posted our curriculum choices for our 2017-2018 Hogwart's Themed school year not too long ago but, believe it or not, we have already made a couple of changes.  (I bet you do believe it!)  The problem we ran into within the first week was that I once again have tried to do too much...  Does this happen to you too?  We barely started and I realized that our lives are just too busy to try to do the amount of work I had scheduled in a week.  Oops.  Somehow it didn't cross my mind that with piano, swimming & sewing lessons, doctor appointments, and a lot of service through our church...we would not be able to do that without stress and frustration.  I guess Mom is just a little too ambitious...  I streamlined almost immediately and had to put aside my pre-done, home made schedules in favor of a week-by-week schedule.  It just works better for our family...

Either way, without further ado, this blog post marks an "update" to our curriculum choices for 2017-2018.  I would love to share what has been working great so far...and what we have tweaked (or completely changed) this school year.


Click Here to share BiblioPlan! Thank You!

BiblioPlan History remains a favorite.  We have been using BiblioPlan in our family integrated history studies for 6 years now.  We love the flexibility, the readers, Remember the Days, the Maps, the Timeline...pretty much everything about it, but especially the flexibility!  BiblioPlan's family guide makes planning history so easy for all grades.  We love having both girls in the same time period at their own level and we appreciate that you can substitute books and it does not affect the schedule or literature.  I use it as a guideline and I flesh it out as I see fit each year.  This year we are studying Early Modern History, BiblioPlan Year 3.

We were all set to pounce on Guest Hollow for the first time this year with Kayley enjoying Knowledge of Nature and Maggie enjoying Little Otter's Anatomy.  Unfortunately that has pretty much fallen apart due to the sheer volume of living books we were trying to read for both history and science.  We were forced to streamline this almost immediately.  This is totally my fault...self-professed overachiever here!  
What we are doing instead to streamline science:
Kayley is still using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics Text and Notebook for her own personal study as scheduled in Guest Hollow (without the extra worksheets)...but she is also tagging along with Maggie in something we are trying that is NEW!
Maggie is using The Good & The Beautiful Arthropods Science Unit by Jenny Phillips (Kayley is tagging along because she just loves science)  If you haven't explored The Good & The Beautiful curriculum yet, I highly recommend it!  It accounts for the other changes we have made this school year.... (I wish I had found this earlier!)

Language Arts!
We were WAY too ambitious as far as Language Arts goes and within the 1st week I was already regretting my attempts at creating "rigor" in my homeschool....again...(Did I mention I am an over achiever?  I'm sooooo sorry girls).  Anyway.  I convinced everyone to scrap our over-kill Language Arts plans and try The Good & The Beautiful for Language Arts.  
Oh. My. Goodness.  It IS both good AND beautiful.  Not kidding.  It is advanced without being painfully rigorous.  What is amazing is that levels 1-5 are FREE.  Go, check it out!  
(You won't be sorry.)
Now, not only is it both good and beautiful but it really takes all of our different language arts books and complies it into one (or two) neat and tidy lessons!  Reading, Grammar, Spelling, Geography and Fine Arts are all rolled into The Good & The Beautiful.  It has really eliminated some stress for me and the girls.
Maggie is in LOVE with The Good & The Beautiful.  She placed into Level 1.
Kayley is still unsure about The Good & The Beautiful but wants to try "another week or two" before she makes a decision on what she thinks of it.  She placed into Level 5.  
Both girls are also using the handwriting portion of the program too...
Mom (me!) really likes The Good & The Beautiful.  
(I think I will write a review about it one day soon).

We are still loving Math-U-See!  Kayley has used MUS since the beginning.  She thrives under the mastery approach and really enjoys the videos with Mr. Demme.  
Maggie started with MUS as well, completing Primer, Alpha and 1/2 of Beta, but just hasn't flourished with it as well as I was hoping...so this year we are taking a break from MUS and using Christian Light Education Math 2 and so far (2 weeks in) it is wonderful!  Maggie seems to respond well to the flashcards, math drills and other tasks as assigned in the light unit.  My hope is that the more "spiral" approach to math will resonate with her and help her build confidence in math!

Foreign Language!
If you remember, we had big plans to do Prima Latina (Kayley) and Salsa Spanish (Maggie) and we haven't managed to get either of those programs going yet...  But, we are just our first month into this school year so there is still hope!  Right?  Riiiiiiight....  ;)
That's about it for our curriculum this year.  I wonder what everyone else is using?  I can't wait to read through all the Blog Hop link ups to find out!!!  

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


Friday, August 11, 2017

Kayley's 11th Birthday

As I was looking through my photos this morning I couldn't believe that I forgot to post the pictures from Kayley's 11th Birthday!  This spunky girl is fun and silly but serious about so many things.  This year she is reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and was thrilled to receive her Hogwarts letter! 

She didn't ask for much for her birthday but 
wanted to go explore The Discovery Center...so we did!

Riding the high wire bike was an adventure! 

We celebrated that evening with cake & ice cream and a few gifts. 

I think she had a great birthday.  She received money, gift cards and finally got her hands on S.D. Smith's The Black Star of Kingston! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God {TOS Crew Review}

Teaching my girls to get into the habit of studying the scriptures for themselves has been a challenge. It seems that most devotional books are written to either preschoolers or teens.  Finding the perfect fit for the upper elementary/middle school crowd hasn't been easy so I was intrigued with the opportunity to review a book from the Alone With God series published by Greek 'n' Stuff called I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God (King James Version).  This Bible Study, written by Karen Mohs really fit the bill when it came to finding a Bible Study curriculum that my 11 year old could actually do independently and still offered her a challenge!

Greek 'n' Stuff

About the Alone With God Bible Study series:
There are several books available in the Alone With God Bible Study series.  With questions pulled directly from the Bible (your choice of the King James Version or the New International Version) the Alone With God series systematically walks your child through the books of the Bible.  Each lesson is designed to take approximately one week and the activities are divided into daily chunks that make it clear to even a young reader what to do first and what to do next.   Memory verses are interspersed throughout with prompts to help the child remember to recite and practice the memory verse.  Interesting sidebars also offer fascinating facts about scriptural terminology, complex vocabulary, interesting geography, and sheds light on the historical culture of biblical times.  Each lesson begins with a prayer and several lessons include a "Think and Pray About It" at the end that encourages the student to apply God's word to their daily life.

Alone With GodBible Study
Jonah & RuthNew International Version

About I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God:
We received the study on Jonah & Ruth.  A nice sturdy book with a spiral binding, Jonah and Ruth comprises a 13 week survey of the these Biblical books.  Your child will learn about Jonah and his mistakes and read as he learns to obey God.  Discover Ruth and learn about the blessings that come from choosing to put God first.  Each section is divided up into 6 bite-sized lessons, one for each day of the week (excluding Sunday).  Each lesson starts with a prayer, then asks your child to read or recite the memory verse for the week.  Following that, questions based on that weeks scripture reading encourage your child to dig in to the scriptures with fill-in-the-blanks to check for understanding.  The questions range from basic knowledge level to rhetorical questions asking "why do you think?"

What we thought of I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God:
I opted to offer this review product to my 11 year old, Kayley.  She is just at the in-between age where I am having a really hard time finding a scripture study program that is just right for her age.  She was excited for the opportunity and had a lot of feedback to share as she studied.

We were really impressed with the quality of the book we received.  Nice sturdy cover, a plastic coated spiral edge and the interior pages printed on heavy bond paper guarantee that this book will stand up to daily use through and entire semester of study.  Kayley was glad that it was "spiral instead of comb bound."  It allowed her to open the book all the way up and fold it over.

As "Type A" personalities and self-professed "box checkers" we really loved the checklist approach to keeping up with daily assignments and appreciated having space for Kayley to write directly in the book (unlike many other devotionals) since I really feel that writing things down help you to internalize what you read.

When I asked her thoughts on this Bible study, Kayley said:
It was very well written and some of the questions are very deep...which is good!  I liked that I could do it by myself and that it is in little bite sized pieces.  But, I'm not a fan of the "day of the week schedule" because we didn't always get it done that day and then it made me feel like I was running behind which was kind of frustrating.  If I could change one thing about it, I would change it to be listed as Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc...then I wouldn't feel like I had to 'catch up' if I missed a day.  I could just pick up where I left off.  Overall I liked it and I think I would like to do another one when this one is finished.
We really enjoyed this product from Greek 'n' Stuff and will strongly consider placing an order for a 2nd Bible Study when this one is completed!  Want a closer look?  You can check out a sample page here.

If you haven't been to Greek 'n' Stuff's website yet you should check it out.  Not only do they offer Bible Studies but, like their name implies, they offer Greek (and Latin too!)

Keep up to date with Greek 'n' Stuff by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Many of my fellow cremates reviewed Bible Studies and other products, like Greek, from Greek 'n' Stuff.  You can read their reviews by clicking the linky below!  

Thanks so much for Swinging By!
Teach Me Some Greek {Greek 'n' Stuff Reviews}

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ozark Empire Fair

We took an opportunity to sneak out to enjoy the Ozark Empire Fair last week.  Boy was it HOT!  Here are a few pictures from our fun day!

The Duck Pond.  A Tradition EVERY year since I was a little girl...

This year was a first when the girls conquered the Rumble Through the Jungle! 

It was so hot we found shade wherever we could.  LOL! 

The slide!  I loved this when I was a kid!

Of course...every year at the fair I would play this game.
And every year I would win!  So, I thought...for the sake of another tradition the girls should probably play at least THIS midway game. 

So they could win a gold fish! 

We had a great time at the fair even though it was so hot!  

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