Friday, August 29, 2014

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


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Our very first row!  I mentioned in our 2014 curriculum post that one of the reasons I chose Five in a Row was because it would allow us to explore topics based on current interests.  So with that in mind, I chose Truman's Aunt Farm to kick off Emory's Kindergarten year!  He hasn't stopped talking about his Aunt in months, and I knew he'd adore activities that related to her!

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row

Truman's Aunt Farm is about a little boy who receives the gift of an ant farm from his aunt. The problem is that when he sends in for his ants, he receives a lot of aunts instead! What is Truman to do with all these aunts!?

We actually did this row over two weeks, spending just a few days each week on school as we get back into the swing of things.  There were other days we just did regular reading and played board games for math!  We didn't necessarily do one subject per day when we rowed, as we mixed and matched since some lessons were conversational, but I'm grouping the activities by subject.


Language Arts

Narration
I asked Elliott to tell me about the book after the first reading.  It left a little to be desired, but we haven't practiced narration in a while.  However, I did hear him making up a song when the boys were goofing off and it included an aunt that could do back flips with her eyes closed, and they were also talking about ants vs. aunts during their tickle fest!

Homophones
Emory understood the ant/aunt word play, but this lesson was definitely for Elliott.  We discussed homophones (as opposed to how the FIAR manual described them as homonyms) and then did a quick homophones worksheet.  He was also able to give Daddy a very good definition of homophones later in the week.

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


Writing a Friendly Letter
The boys each wrote a letter to one of their aunts since Truman and his Aunt wrote back and forth.  This tickled Emory!  I used a simple friendly letter template since we haven't really written a lot of letters.  He made me find out her favorite color so he could draw a picture with it, hence the amount of blue!

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row



Writing Prompt
Since we were writing letters and talking about stamps during the week, I used this cute writing prompt "If I were going to design a new stamp I would make it look this this because . . ."  I found it in the Creative Writing Prompts (May) at 123 Homeschool for Me.  We looked at images of stamps online and then the boys designed their own.  They went the character route!  My goal for adding these writing prompts are to encourage Elliott to write more than one or two sentences at a time.  We will obviously be building up to that.  Handwriting is on my radar too.

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


Emory created a Skylander.

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


Copywork
Elliott's copywork came from the Truman Aunt's Farm activities at Homeschool Share.  Emory had a very simple Ants Worksheet which was basically a coloring page with the word Ants in traceable font.  We talked about each letter and practiced tracing them.  He colored a glow in the dark ant and a Knight ant.  I thought he meant "night" at first, obviously, since the other one glows in the dark.  However, I was corrected when he later drew swords for his Knight ant.  When we realized what he meant, Elliott immediately recognized that these were homophones!

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row



Social Studies

Relationships - Aunts
In addition to the discussion in the manual, the boys named and counted all of their aunts.  This naturally led to discussions about cousins as well.

Geography 
We looked at our U.S. map and pointed out where each aunt lives.  All of the aunts on Daddy's side live in our state or border states, while the aunts on Mommy's side live much further away in Georgia, so we placed our story disk on GA!

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


Mathematics

Counting Change
We talked about the price of stamps and counted out different ways to equal $0.49!  Elliott quickly pointed out to Emory that counting by 10's was the easiest way to count out 49 pennies.  I was reminded to put all of the coins back through the mouth of the jar and not to recount them, as they use an electronic counting jar and want it to be accurate for the next bank trip.  ;-)

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row



Science

Ants
One day we watched The Magic School Bus Gets Ants in its Pants.  Emory really enjoyed this.  His favorite facts were that ants smell with their antennae and that "baby ants" look like worms!  I will probably add more episodes to our science as they match up.  We generally do educational videos like this during afternoon snacks or when we need some quiet time.




I am not going to lie.  I didn't want an ant farm.  We tend to believe nature belongs in nature as much as possible.  So we had a little fun and attracted some ants with a plate of food.  The boys crumbled a few cheerios and an animal cracker, put a little lettuce, bread crust and some banana on a paper plate.  We went to the she of the apple trees and they used a {rotten} apple to make sure the plate didn't blow away, and because they've seen windblown apples with ants on them before anyway.

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row








Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a RowThe kids played around for awhile and only saw a few ants, so we went inside for a snack and returned later to find a lot of ants!  There was one large ant roaming, and several tiny ones.  We talked about foragers, and I asked them to pay attention to which food the ants seemed to prefer.

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row

The large one liked the banana, while the rest seemed to prefer the animal crackers.  There was very little activity on the other food.  Elliott said because the banana was "sweet and healthy" and he didn't know why they liked the animal crackers because he didn't like those kind!

Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row

Oh, Emory saved some of his string cheese from his snack to take back out to the plate.  It was popular with the ants too.
Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row




Food Stuff
The kids had "little hot dogs" like the aunts in the story for lunch one day, except we were out of buns.  They didn't care.  I'm not a hot dog fan, so I had a sandwich.  We also made the traditional ants on a log.  Of course, after Elliott got excited about ants on a log I realized I didn't have plain raisins and had to raid the trail mix!  I probably could have planned this one better!


Truman's Aunt Farm with Five in a Row


Book Basket Titles (with tie-in theme)
Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros (Science-Ants)
Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman (family)
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant (extended family)
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parrish (word play)
Berenstains' A Book by Stan and Jan Berenstain (letter "A" and Ants)


Next Up:  Elliott has asked to study Japan, so we're looking for A Pair of Red Clogs and/or Grandfather's Journey next.  We had a lot of fun with our first row, and I look forward to sharing more with you!!


This post is linked up to the Five in a Row Blog Roll and Link-UpMy Week in Review and Weekly Wrap-Up!



©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Essential Skills Advantage {Schoolhouse Review}

Every involved parent, homeschooling or not, understands the importance of literacy, and likely wants to assure their child is a skilled and competent reader.  When given the opportunity to review Essential Skills Advantage, I knew it would be worth looking into for the boys.  Essential Skills Advantage (ESA) is an online reading and language program for K-6 students, so I knew it would have differentiated material suitable for both of their needs.

Essential Skills Advantage Review



I was given a full year access to the complete online program.  It includes courses in Reading, Spelling, Comprehension, Vocabulary and Grammar, so you can target any or all areas of language arts!  Each student can log in to any unit with their own username and password.  This means that students can work up or down according to their individual needs and abilities, and we aren't relegated just to one grade level.  The units are designed to build gradually and sequentially, but it is also possible to skip around, so again, you're not locked into a specific way of doing things.  The flexibility of this program is a huge bonus for me!


Essential Skills Advantage review



Kindergarten
Emory just turned five during the review period, so he hasn't really had a lot of formal reading lessons yet. He wanted to start Kindergarten this year though, so I've been looking for interesting and engaging activities that will meet both his desire to learn and his developmental needs.  I looked through the Activity Guide for Kindergarten and knew it would still have a lot of content to offer Pre-K and young Kindergarten students during the early stages of reading!  Here's a breakdown of the Kindergarten curriculum.

Essential Skills Advantage review


Readiness Skills - 4 Units (79 activities)
Phonics -3 Units (70 activities)
Sight Words - 2 Units (83 activities)
Stories - 1 unit (63 activities)

As you can see, that's 295 activities for my kiddo to explore!  According to the Guide, it is a complete and comprehensive Language Arts program for pre-reading and readiness skills to successfully take students through the end of Kindergarten.


Essential Skills Advantage review



We have started at the beginning in Readiness Skills.  It covers Picture Vocabulary, Visual Skills, Auditory Skills and Basic Concepts (biggest/smallest, opposites, etc).  I really feel like these units are a great place for beginners to build confidence and learn to use the program.

Essential Skills Advantage review



Second Grade
Elliott is my math whiz, but doesn't particularly care about reading.  He will do it, but not voluntarily or with enthusiasm, so I like using a variety of curricula for him, to keep him engaged.  The Complete Reading for Grade 2 program has a variety of language arts activities needed for mastery through the end of second grade.

Essential Skills Advantage review


Phonics - 9 Units (554 Activities)
Sight Words - 5 Units (579 Activities)
Language and Grammar - 1 Unit (61 Activities)
Language - 1 Unit (9 Activities)
Reading - 6 Units (396 Activities)

That is a LOT of activities to explore!  We've been skipping around the different units, working on different concepts.  It's been a good end-of-summer review to get us back into the swing of things.  This is where we started in Phonics - Short Vowels.  The stars represent how well he performed, and obviously the goal is to get three stars.  This is a great little reinforcement for kids who really like to see their progress.  You can also click that gold star in the blue circle on the right, and it will show you a graph of all the stars, which is an another awesome visual!

Essential Skills Advantage review



The activities vary greatly, and some things you might find are word searches, missing letters, scrambled  letters and concentration, just to name a few.  There are a lot of activities to build visual and auditory memory skills, as well as standard spelling and reading comprehension activities.  This curriculum goes broad to cover different skills, but it appears to go deep too!


Essential Skills Advantage review


Parent Portal
When I am in the parent portal, I can see all of the units for each grade level, or look at each of the boys' accounts.  Looking at their individual accounts shows which program (reading Grade 2, Spelling, etc) they have been working in and the percentage completed.  You can "view marks" to see which specific unit they have worked on, as well as their number of attempts, their scores, and even how long it took them to complete it.  I always sit and work directly with Emory, and I am at least in the same room as Elliott, so I am pretty aware of what they are doing, but if you allow your children to work independently, this would be a great way to check their progress and look for any weak areas.  I just wish you could directly print the reports, because they would be nice for our portfolios.  One thing you can print, however, are certificates!  When a unit is completed, you can print a certificate for them.  If your student is motivated by these types of awards, this is a great incentive to encourage them to complete their units!


Final Thoughts
I think this is a nice supplement to any language arts program.  I really like that you can access the different levels for creating a unique reading plan based on your own child's abilities!  The program is user friendly for both parents and kids.  The graphics are a little cheesy and a little outdated looking; if you look back at the Kindergarten animal matching screen shot, you'll see some silly looking cartoon animals.  I would have preferred more realistic pictures over the generic clip art.  There are also little sound effects for right and wrong answers, but they aren't overwhelming.  Now, there is an ongoing cricket sound in the background at ALL times, and perhaps it is supposed to be soothing, but it can get tiresome after the kids are on the program for awhile.

Both of the boys were willing to do a few activities in one session before asking to move on.  They never really asked for the program, but they never complained either, and that's saying something that two very different little personalities were willing to use it for me!  I think it's a fun and comprehensive program that can be used for practice and reinforcement, and hopefully build confidence for all types of learners.

Essential Skills Advantage currently has two versions.    There is a new sponsored version that is a completely free reading program, but there are limitations, and since it is sponsored there will be sponsored advertisements.  However, this is probably a good way to find out how your kids will respond to the the program before you subscribe.  I reviewed the Premium Plan, which offers the student tracking, printable certificates and other features, and is usually $9.99/month.  I probably wouldn't pay that for a supplement unless I had a struggling reader who really benefited from the program, but here is an awesome coupon code for you!  If yous sign up for the premium plan before October 1st and use the code TOS50 you will receive 50% off the monthly subscription, making it only $4.99 per month for each student for as long as you subscribe!



You can read more reviews from the crew or find Essential Skills Advantage online for more information!

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©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Friday, August 22, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ 8/22 ~ A lot of BIG news!

1.  We've had a busy week.  We had our official first day of school.  It went more smoothly than I anticipated.  ;-)

2.  Our Emory celebrated his 5th birthday recently.  We had water balloons and other outdoor water fun at his request!  I can't believe how big my little man is getting!  He's so full of energy and giggles, and he's handsome at that!  I love this little boy so very much!




3.  I have been in the mood to cook again.  I made the chicken bruschetta that the Husband loves.  It's a great summer recipe for those fresh tomatoes.  It's also quick and easy, which I love.  I also tried out some new potato and corn chowder recipes, which feel more like winter recipes, but I'm looking to add some new favorites to our repertoire.  We need more variety!


4.  So the kids know how to work their mawmaw and pawpaw.  Every time we visit, they come out with some type of snack.





5.  Oh, and the other BIG news for the week!?  Believe it or not, Eleanor called it!  Baby #4 is going to be a . . .






The Pebble Pond




©2011-2014 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com