Monday, August 21, 2017

Phonics Museum App {Review}

I have a precocious four year old that loves to "do school" like her big brothers.  She also loves to have some play time on the iPad.  When we were offered the opportunity to review the Phonics Museum App from Veritas Press, I had a feeling she would enjoy it!  It is certainly my preference to offer substantial or educational apps for her play time, so this was a win-win for us!

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

Veritas Press approaches education from a classical Christian perspective, and as such, has created a variety of curricula to help other parents educate their children in this way.  Their reading program Phonics Museum now has a companion app that can complement the curriculum or stand on its own!  The premise of the program is that your child is in an art museum, the Phonics Museum, engaged in art and learning to read at the same time!  

The child chooses an avatar and begins their journey.  Miss Biddle is the museum curator, and she's kind of eccentric and silly.  Percival the Knight is their guide, taking them on their exploration.  It's very "edutainment" in presentation - the child is guided through play-based learning exercises that include videos, tracing letters, listening to music and playing games.  The games are things like animals catching their food, which you help them do by touching the screen when you hear a word that starts with the designated letter or finding the target letter by visual recognition.  As they work through the activities, learning letters by sight and sound, they complete levels and earn virtual awards, and this is a fun incentive for young children!

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

The app starts at the beginning and assumes no prior knowledge.  My four year old knows her letters and sounds, so it's been a little below her level, but that doesn't deter her from playing.  By about the 3rd time through their unique alphabet song, she was starting to sing along with it, and she seems to enjoy the app overall.  However, I noticed there were times she was asking me to sit with her.  I'm always in the same room when she plays the iPad, but she was wanting me to help because she was having a hard time hearing and distinguishing between some letters, and I believe it's because they carry the consonant sound, making them sound as if they had an /uh/ at the end.  That /uh/ was all she was hearing.  Once I taught her to isolate the beginning of the "buh" or "duh" sounds she was able to distinguish between the correct/incorrect answers and play the games independently.  She also had to figure out how to trace the letters with *her* finger, and not try to touch the shadow finger, but once she mastered that, she could do the letter writing easily.

The only other thing of concern was some of the initial language.  Upon starting the first video I was shocked to find one character was somewhat rude and disrespectful.  He used words and phrases like "ugh," "die of boredom" and "dumb."  I find this inappropriate and unnecessary, especially for the target age range.  After that, I haven't particularly noticed anything concerning, but I was taken aback by that.

Overall, I believe this is a nice supplemental program for my preschooler.  She really enjoys the app, and it has many great features.  I get an email from Miss Biddle every time she completes a lesson.  Although I am always aware of when and what she plays on the iPad, I don't always sit over her, so the email lets me know how quickly she is progressing through the app.  I also love that ART is woven in naturally in a fun and relevant way for this age.  Phonics Museum App is great review for her at this point, and we will continue to keep it in her "Preschool" folder to choose from during her iPad time.  The app is for ages 3-7, beginning readers, and I find that an accurate age range.

The Phonics Museum App is available through iTunes, and you can do the trial first to see how it works.  Also, be sure to check out the rest of the crew reviews!

Veritas Press

Phonics Museum App {Veritas Press Reviews}
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©2011-2017 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.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Family Studies: The Enrichment Studies

In the past, I have not been the best at doing Enrichment Studies.  Well, some things I did regularly, some were hit and miss, and some I have never even attempted.  I felt like we were missing out on so many chances to imprint beautiful images and words onto our hearts and minds, so much of the broad feast that a Charlotte Mason education offers.  So this year, as I'm really trying to swing back towards a Charlotte Mason approach, I just decided to dive in head first!

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm working really hard at doing short lessons and really mixing up subjects, and having these enrichment subjects has already helped break up the heavier core subjects.  All of this is on a loop schedule, and some of the quicker activities are being done over snack or lunch while I have their attention, so we're not even extending our day much by adding them.  However, this means since everyone is present, I'm trying to choose a variety to appeal to wider ages (2, 4, 8, 10) and interests.  I do try to squeeze the more hands-on, involved activities during the toddler's nap when I can!

First Term is already underway, but the rest of the year is still subject to change.  I'll expand more on the individual subjects and how this is going for us as we get further into it, but for now, I'm pleasantly surprised with their responses so far!

Ergermeier's Bible Story Book - I read to all kids together
AWANA - Each child is in age-appropriate classes, and I work one-on-one with them reading passages, studying and memorizing verses.
We aren't using a "curriculum" during school time right now, but we have in the past and I'm not opposed to something appropriate.  

Picture Study
Term I:     Monet
Term II:    Leonardo da Vinci (we're studying him in science this year)
Term III:  Rubens

A Midsummer Night's Dream
   Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
   A Midsummer Night's Dream from Folger Digital Texts
   How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

Term I:  AA Milne When We Were Very Young and possibly Now We are Six
Term II:  Shel Silverstein  A Light in the Attic or Falling Up
Term III:  undecided - perhaps Rudyard Kipling or Emily Dickinson

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
This will help us work on imprinting quality language into our minds, as well as give us broader exposure to poetry.

Folk Songs - Ambleside Online
Hymns - Ambleside Online

The works are already chosen and playlists created!  

Composer Studies
Term 1:  Mozert (Emory's request)
Term 2: Beethoven
Term 3:  Handel

Foreign Language
Husband wants to learn a foreign language together, and picked French, though I still think Spanish is more practical.  This is the only thing I haven't actually worked into our schedule yet.

Art & Handicrafts
Okay, so I haven't fully implemented handicrafts either.  This is going to be kind of a crossover area, but we'll be focusing on drawing, as that will be beneficial for art, nature journaling, book of centuries, etc.  We'll primarily use See the Light Art Class, though we'll occasionally use ArtAchieve (review) or ARTistic Pursuits (reviews: book 1, book 2, and book 3) to correlate some geography or history.  I also have a few ideas for handicrafts during the holidays.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

First Day of School: 2017

Even though we do some gentle learning most of the summer, we've had some downtime recently, so I wanted to have an official transition into our new school year, to declare new "grades" and to make it clear we're transitioning back into a regular schedule!  We had our First Day this week, and we're easing our way back into a traditional schedule.  I fully admit, however, that I don't do spectacular or over the top activities (not my style) but we did do a few little things.

We had Star Wars pancakes for breakfast, then they had some free time.  I started walking them through our schedule, showing them the grid I made for the routine I would like to put into place.  During the first block we did our First Day of School pictures (two days before haircuts lol!) and they did a First Day of School Questionnaire.  It included things like height, weight, how they write their name, and a lot of favorite questions for them to fill in.  Here are a few of their answers.

Elliott is our analytical thinker that loves all things technology.  I asked him what he meant by "a builder" but he just shrugged and gave me nothing.  He's casually mentioned being a LEGO master builder and an architect in the past, so I can only guess it's some reference to one of those.

Emory is definitely our imaginative, outside-the-box thinker!  He's the type that asks for "antique" toys that daddy played with as a kid or a "worm house" for his birthday.  He usually says he wants to be a zoologist, but apparently he currently wants to explore the jungle and look for exotic plants and animals!

Eleanor is our spunky, fun princess.  My husband asked her why she wanted to be a mom, "So I can be like momma and take care of kids."  The boys asked her how many kids she wanted, and she said "Four, like us!"  Of course, in the past she has also said she wants to grow up to be an old lady and have a bunch of cats.

Eloise is our spirited, wild child!  She's full of energy and laughs and loves "muddy puddles" and purple nail polish.  We obviously aren't doing anything formal with her, but she insisted on being in on the action, and I expect she'll tag along with Eleanor most of the time.

Then a few more random pictures, just because I can!

An honorable mention for our day was when we stopped to watch a helicopter trim trees.  We've had a lot of tree and brush clearing out here this summer, but this is the first time we've ever seen something like this.  Apparently it wasn't just my kids who enjoyed watching it - I could see the neighbors watching and it made an appearance on Facebook too!

We'll have to continue to smooth out kinks as we work back up to a full schedule, but I am excited to see their interest in "new" subjects, and I'm hopeful for the new year!

First Day of School Signs
First Day of School Signs
First Day of School Questionnaire

©2011-2017 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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Peek into our Homeschool: Summer 2017

Even though the summer is not officially over, our "summer break" for school is winding down.  We've had a very low-key, casual summer, but that's not unusual.  We've almost always stayed close to home in the hot summer months.  When we travel, we typically do it in the offseason (one of the best benefits of homeschooling!) so I can't say we had anything super exciting going on this summer.

Here are some things we have enjoyed:

  • plenty of outdoor time and nature study
  • Vacation Bible School
  • learning how to use our new microscope
  • fireworks and firecrackers
  • later bedtimes and more stories
  • popsicles, smoothies, homemade ice cream and other summer treats
  • fresh fruits and veggies from the garden and yummy recipes
  • visits from the neighbor's pigeon (we live rural and they're actually not common around here, so this was a shock to the kids, LOL!)
  • water ballon fights

These moments . . . the laughing hysterically as I push them on the swings, or the pouty face when she got sprinkled with the water house, walking to the grandparent's farm for popsicles, baking together, finding a turtle after a summer storm.  These are the things they talk about, the memories I love making.

As to the homeschooling side, since we never really "stop" learning - we worked through our Summer School, slow and steady, just to give us something structured to do occasionally.  Some math review and (mostly) daily reading, with some reviews.  Here are the reviews completed in June and July.
USA Activity Bundle
Wonders of the World
Lightning Lit Grade 3
Marsh Media
Trust Fund (a movie I reviewed, not the kids)
Math On the Level {coming soon}

While they had their relaxed summer, just enjoying simple summer fun, I've been planning our fall trip, as well as planning "back to school" for the 2017-2018 year.  So many fun things to come!

Family Studies Part 1
5th Grade Homeschool Reading List
more posts to come soon!

©2011-2017 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.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

In the Reign of Terror {review}

In the Reign of Terror is another fabulous release from Heirloom Audio Productions.  When the opportunity to review this first came up, I knew I would be approaching it differently.  Usually I pop the CD in and we dive straight in.  This time, however, I was in the midst of planning a World History course, and decided only I would be listening to the story and utilizing the guide at first, so I could study it myself and work it into my lesson plans.  Let me tell you, I love listening to my kids enjoy a good story, but it's quite a different experience listening to something for the first time without the exclamations of excited kids - almost peaceful to just listen quietly and take it all in.

Heirloom Audio Productions - In the Reign of Terror review

The Story
This audio adventure is an adaption of In the Reign of Terror by G.A. Henty.  It centers around 16 year old Harry, who is visiting France to teach English to a Marquis and his family, and to be a good influence on the Marquis's sons.  In turn, he is hopeful the experience will benefit him when he joins the military.  As Harry spends more time with the St. Caux family, he becomes like family and learns French well.  However, it is set during the French Revolution, a tumultuous time of social and political upheaval, which the English visitor could not escape.  Similarly to Henty's other historical fiction adventure novels, we see a boy on the brink of becoming a man, thrown into turmoil and danger.  He struggles with his faith as he tries to survive and rescue people he cares about.  I believe part of Henty's appeal is that he features elements that children love - bravery, courage, adventure and hope.

Heirloom Audio Productions then brings Henty's adventurous novels to a new era.  With talented voice actors and dramatic music and sound effects, we can listen to these audio dramas from the comforts of our own home (or maybe our cars) and feel like we are in the midst of the action!

Live the Adventure Club
Heirloom Audio Productions used to offer a variety of buying options, giving you access to different bonus features.  You can still purchase just the CDs from their website, but they now offer another website called Live the Adventure Club, and if you order through the club, you will receive all of the additional materials.

Read Along Script:  This actually highlights the text as you read!  It's the full script, and it's a great feature for children who love to follow along, or even those who might need to follow along to improve their reading skills.  (I'm not sure I'd recommend for young beginning readers, just because of the French mixed in, though.)
Take the Quiz: A multiple choice quiz where you can immediately see if you got the correct answer. The questions are basic listening comprehension style questions.  Students who are motivated by rewards will probably enjoy the Adventure Badges that can be earned!
Thinking Further - Questions that encourage students to dig a little deeper into the meaning of the material.  (No answer guide, so you will need to be familiar with the story.)
Defining Words - Vocabulary words, and when you hover over the words a text box will appear with the definition.
Bonus Content - Audio content in playlist format, original e-book, official soundtrack, printable cast poster, study guide, inspirational verse poster, desktop wallpaper, and an official script download.

Additionally - Your club membership includes a multitude of treasures that are not specific to the Henty audio adventures, and this includes parenting and teaching articles, devotions, grammar and history textbooks from the 1700-1800's, Kids Activities, and an Old Time Radio Vault of wholesome, public domain content.  That's a lot of fun goodies!

Currently, you can get a three month trial and the newest audio adventure, Captain Bailey's Heir, for only $1!  That's a great deal for for the 2-CD set and to try out everything have to offer online!

The Study Guide
If you are familiar with the original study guides, much of that online content is the same type of content, just in a different format. The original PDF study guides are still accessible, and are the same beautiful study guides as before. Along with the Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words, you'll find many other familiar aspects. There are the biographies of notable people (G.A. Henty, Maximilien Robespierre and Marie Antoinette) and Expand Your Learning boxes periodically throughout the study guide, which are full of recipes or interesting historical facts about France. There's a list of additional reading, which would be especially useful for older students studying this time period. The Bible Studies include "When God Means Evil for Good," "Resistance to Tyranny," and "True Manliness." Finally, there is historical information for the Reign of Terror and a comparison of The French Revolution and the American War for Independence. While the PDF has more content, it's nice to have the core content available in multiple formats, depending on your device of choice and preferences.

Final Thoughts
In the Reign of Terror is a riveting story, and is a great choice for those studying the history of France, or specifically the French Revolution, but it is also relevant to discussions of faith, courage and virtue.  Due to the nature of the events covered, I felt some of the scenes my upset sensitive children, so you should certainly preview and use your judgement with younger family members.

Heirloom Audio Productions brings history and entertainment together for their amazing productions, and I think they are a particularly fun supplement to history studies!  We have reviewed all of the previous releases and have loved them all!
Under Drake's Flag
In Freedom's Cause
Wth Lee in Virginia
The Dragon and the Raven
Beric the Briton
The Cat of Bubastes

The Homeschool Review Crew has 100 total people reviewing In the Reign of Terror, so be sure to check out their reviews for more perspectives!

Heirloom Audio Productions

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

©2011-2017 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.