Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Peek at our Week: March 12-16

We will be taking next week off for our spring break and I believe knowing that caused for great diligence in school this week. I hope we will be taking some fun field trips close to home but mostly just taking a break from our normal.

Grace (2nd Grade): Bigger Hearts for His Glory Unit 19

This week Grace studied more about the westward exploration of the United States and looked at some of the western geography. She's continuing to dive into multiplication. When I let her choose her next literature book herself this week she picked the longest book we own, the first in the Epic Order of the Seven series. She's heard wonderful things about it from her older sisters and I told her as long as it was something she wanted to read I was happy for her to do so. I love how Grace constantly challenges herself. 

We have had a very wet, cold winter. Grace enjoys being very active and it is good for her to have some time outside for a break most days. She hasn't been able to enjoy this as much since Christmas. We are all looking forward to some warmer, drier weather hopefully coming our way soon! 

Beth (5th Grade): Creation to Christ Unit 26

Beth quietly settles into her work each day. She prefers to do all of her independent work first if possible. She seems to work best first thing in the morning. I will often get up and find she has been up for 30 minutes or more already hard at work. The time change has put a bit of a kink into her schedule however. I'm hoping the week of break will help us get a bit more settled into our sleeping patterns. I really struggle to adjust to the time change in the spring and always have. I think she is like me in that way. 

She asked me Thursday if she could switch her Bible study to something different. She had a study on prayer we started in the summer, but hadn't yet finished. She told me how much she enjoyed it and really wanted to do that instead. I usually want the girls to follow the guide, but when any of the girls has an interest in a particular Bible study, I listen and will usually acquiesce. I've seen her grow so much in her faith over the last few months after her unexpected and unexplained illness last fall. My heart smiles when I see her excited about studying God's Word on her own.

Rose (7th Grade): Revival to Revolution Unit 11

Rose's studies this year have focused heavily on the revolutionary period so far. This week she learned about Daniel Boone and a little bit about Russia during that time period. She finds it all fascinating! She gets so excited to tell me what she is reading about. 

She is continuing on with All About Spelling. We are getting close to the end of level 5. This has been the greatest blessing to her! We are thrilled with the new app and use it exclusively for AAS lessons now. She is also learning both biblical Greek and Spanish this year by her choice on the side. She asked for lessons in both. We are using Hey Andrew for Greek and SchoolhouseTeachers for Spanish. Both are excellent programs and a great way for her to test the waters with these languages.

 How was your week?
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle from NatureGlo's eScience: A TOS Crew Review

natureGlo's eScience
 At some point in their education just about every student asks the question, "When will I ever use this in real life?!?!" This is especially true about math and most often when it is a difficult concept. I don't always know how to answer that question to be perfectly honest. I did well in math through school, but it was never easy. I struggled to attain strong grades once reaching mathematics classes beyond geometry. I was excited for Rose to have the opportunity to try out the MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle from NatureGlo's eScience for this very reason. She is much like me in how she processes mathematics I know it is important for her to see connections in real life! I also know how much she relates to art while learning and was excited to see her dive into one of the courses. She has been working through Math Connections with the Real World for the last several weeks.

MathArt Online
 One of the aspects I really enjoy about this program is that it is online. Our daughters have large screen tablets with attachable keyboards and we use these more and more for schoolwork. We use a white-list web browser that allows me to input specific web addresses, so this is how we handled this class. Rose was able to login on her own and complete the work at her own pace. She is getting older and so much of education is transitioning to online content. I love giving her opportunities like this to learn how to best learn with online coursework. 

We both really liked the video content. Even though Rose worked on this independently I took some time to view the videos as well. They were interesting and engaging. I found the teaching to be clear and left me wanting to continue watching and learn more! Rose told me she likes that the teacher explains things multiple ways and included lots of examples.There are also nicely presented slide presentations for each unit as well as extension activities, projects and web resources for anyone who wants to dig deeper. 

In addition to the fabulous online content there are printable resources as well. I liked the written material as a reference point for Rose, but she mostly enjoyed the videos. The other thing loved was the quizlet at the end of each unit! Rose thought these were fun as well. They are not traditional math quizzes at all and she found them to be enjoyable.

The units contain literature, historical, and scientific connections. This usually includes some artistic references which really engages Rose! She is very excited to continue the rest of the courses this year and I'm thrilled. She doesn't usually love her math work and this is a great addition to our regular math curriculum. I like the looks of Mathematics in the Arts & Sciences as I know how much she likes history. The variety of historical art and science connections throughout these lessons look fascinating! I'm also anxious to have her complete MathArt in Ancient Cultures. I know it will interest her and seeing the beauty and intelligence of the ancients is truly fascinating. This will also compliment the study of ancient cultures Beth is completing this year so I intend to have her join in the fun!

Initially the page setup for the course confused me a little and I wasn't completely certain what to print for Rose. After a short learning curve it did become more clear to me and we flowed smoothly through.

If you are looking for a course that will help you take a new look at math with your student, look no further! You will be incredibly pleased with these courses. 
Check out what my Crewmates have to say! 
MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle {NatureGlo's eScience Reviews}
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Teach Them Diligently by Leslie Nunnery: A NLPG Review Crew Review

I'm not sure if every generation feels this way, but raising kids seems harder than ever. Parents are constantly undermined at every turn. The values we instill at home and in church are mocked outside those walls. The availability of depravity is at an all-time high with an ease of accessibility which boggles, and terrifies, the mind. So what do we do?

We pray, arm ourselves with the truth, and teach our children diligently.  

 The newest title from New Leaf Publishing Group, Teach Them Diligently: Raising Children of Promise by Leslie Nunnery, is an excellent resource for any parent of this age. This timely book will encourage you to grow closer to the Lord as you continue to move forward on your parenting journey. It is not a how-to book in a formulaic way so as to produce perfect parents. Rather you will find within these pages practical ways to intentionally disciple the precious little humans entrusted to your care for such a time as this. 

You will be encouraged by what God's Word has to say about parenting and how to keep this perspective in a society which constantly diminishes the role and authority of parents. Nunnery reminds us that parenthood is a calling. Wow...that is something I need to hear on the hard days that feel as if they will never end. We were never promised an easy road in life or parenting, but we do have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our paths. The most important part about this book is how Nunnery urges the reader to search their heart before the Lord and make sure they are parenting in the right spirit, recognizing this as perhaps the most important part of the parenting mandate in Scripture. 

Just as important as teaching our children is listening to our children, hearing what the Lord is doing in their little hearts and helping them along their own life journey. I love that this particular part of parenting is addressed as one of the most important parts of parenting throughout the chapters. Also sharing with our children our own stories and testimonies of faith. We must be faithful in giving God the glory for His goodness and generosity to us in front of our children. The author tells a story her parents shared with her when she was growing up that greatly impacted her about God's provision in what seemed to be a very small matter and how this story impacted her own faith. We strive to do the same and it is good to be reminded why it matters!

This is one of the deepest, most beneficial books on parenting I have come across because it has nothing to do with behavior or rules, although both are aspects of parenting. This book is all about my heart before the Lord, making certain my ways are straight so I can effectively disciple my children. I know many, many parents of my generation who were raised attending church, but have drifted away from belief in God. While every child must choose for themselves whether or not to follow the Lord, I cannot help but wonder how many parents never dealt with their own hearts first or never intentionally discipled in the home. 

My prayer is that I may never be as stumbling block to the faith of my children. This beautiful book will help that be your prayer as well. 

Disclaimer: I received this title as a part of the New Book Review Crew at NLPG in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Writing Strands from Master Books: A Review of the Updated Material

I'm an English teacher and writer. Teaching my daughters to write at home seemed like it would be a piece of cake. Imagine my surprise when it wasn't! My background in middle-grades education left me ill-equipped to know how to teach writing in the early years. I browsed lots of curricula, but nothing felt right. It was all so complex and overwhelming to me... The ENGLISH teacher! I knew there must be something simpler available. Then I discovered the Writing Strands series through Master Books! I was hooked from the moment I opened the package. Its simple and efficient format led me to not only love it for myself, but recommend it to everyone who asks my thoughts on writing.

Rose choosing names for her the characters in the story she is writing.
I wrote my initial review in the fall of 2016. Since then Master Books has worked to revise the curriculum and republish it for their customers. WOW! The updates are incredible and only make me love the program more. We received Writing Strands: Beginning 1 and  Writing Strands Beginning 2.

 Here are some of the fabulous updates...

1. Daily Schedule - The format has been simplified even more so that it is easy to assign work each week. The original format was a little wordy. This new streamlined format and scheduling guide makes the excellent content all the more user friendly. 

2. Work-pages - Whether you purchase the traditional book or e-book format you will find that most of your student's writing can occur right on the page. This is nice for kids who need less clutter on their desks and a more defined work-space. 

3. Assessments - Writing assessments are available to the student to fill out for their own writing. Again, this was also included in the original version, but having a page ready to go is very helpful. 

4. Updated Level Breakdown - I think the new levels are a bit more understandable because they do not feel as tied to grade-level as the original books do. There is also a separate, updated teacher's edition which is helpful to parents. The following levels are currently available:  

Although these are the recommended grades, I am using Beginning 1 with my 2nd grader who was already forming simple sentences. As with all things, assess your child's ability and choose accordingly. For writers not quite yet ready for Beginnings 1, I highly recommend the original Writing Strands: Level 1. It's a great way to help your child think creatively and begin to learn about the writing process while having a ton of imaginative fun! 

5. Literature Woven is Throughout - In the previous books the literature study was a separate book which parents would read and learn about for themselves, then teach their children from that knowledge. I love that the writing and literature units are included in the new books. They are scheduled to be used on alternating weeks, but we tend to do a unit of each at the same time. There are also work-pages for this portion as well.

6. Biblical Worldview - There was nothing unbiblical in any way with the original versions, but as with all Master Books materials the company has intentionally included Scripture as a part of the studies. This is done in a lovely way which addresses character and heart issues while still fully exploring literary elements and writing prompts.  
Rose and I editing her Writing Strands assignment for the week.
 Overall Assessment
My overall assessment has not changed except that I love the program even more! My oldest and youngest are continuing to write on their own outside of scheduled school time and their writing is at a very high level. My middle daughter is more of a math-girl, and she too is excelling with the program. Because of the step-by-step nature of Writing Strands they learn about the building blocks of writing in a very meaningful way which is transferring well to other areas.

The girls were recently assessed with Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities. Their scores on writing blew me away and I credit it to our use of Writing Strands and reading lots of rich literature. Below are how my girls scored on the writing assessment.

My 7th grader: College
My 5th grader: 7th grade
My 2nd grader: 7th grade
  (While my middle daughter is advanced, she had some health issues this fall that put her schooling on hold for a couple of months and we'd just gotten back to pushing at our regular pace about the time she tested. Since this official test I have seen a greater jump in her writing ability once we were again using Writing Strands.)

 It is imperative for the writing lessons a child completes to apply to other areas. This curriculum is gentle and will not feel excessive, which is perfect. The current trend in public school education is to get children to write more, more, more. While there is truth in the fact that writers become more skilled in their craft the more they practice, elementary school is not the place to apply this principle! I firmly believe this course will suit everyone's writing needs no matter what ability level.

Disclaimer: I received Writing Strands Beginning 1 and 2 from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Preserving Memories: March 4-10

Template: Traci Reed 2016 Valentine Freebie

Template: Tinci Designs Freebie 

 Template: Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs Freebie

This year I've decided to participate in the Scrapping Survivor Competition at Ginger Scraps! Although winning would be amazing, I'm not too worried about that. Just focusing on having fun and getting back into the habit of scrapping!  We have a theme for the layouts and very specific rules we have to follow or we are eliminated from the competition. Voting for week 2 will happen soon. I'm not sure how that works, but I'm excited!

Week 1: Squad

Week 2: Vista