Friday, August 3, 2018

A Peek into our Homeschool: Summer 2018 Edition

I skipped the regular monthly wrap-up for June, because we haven't been doing "formal" lessons.  Instead, we have just been enjoying our summer break.  I figured I should do a summer wrap-up though, since we're heading back into a traditional schedule soon.

We've done the typical things, like playing outdoors and going to Vacation Bible School.  Then we've had a few things that, even if not extraordinary, aren't necessarily part of the ordinary.

This is Tux, Emory's new kitten.  He is very friendly, and very tolerant of the kids.  He's learning to tolerate Buddy, and this picture cracks me up because it looks like he's sticking his tongue out.

We're saving our longer vacation for September, when peak season (and the hottest weather) has passed, but we did take a weekend getaway this summer.  We went to Great Wolf Lodge for some water park fun . . .

. . . and to Loveland Castle for a fun history field trip.

We've still gotten a few things to review here and there, including some books!  I received a kid's CD for the girls, a bird book and an art book as well, that aren't pictured.

We also reviewed Bug Bingo.  Such a fun little game for bug enthusiasts, and even those who don't want to get up close and personal with real bugs.  All of these are for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine website.  This is the "master card" for the caller to track what's been called.

This last book is for me, and I'll be reviewing it on the blog for the Homeschool Review Crew, so be sure to keep on eye out for it soon.

Impromptu nature study, while watching a movie one night - Emory found this in the house.  We had never seen one before, but found it's called the arrow-shaped micrathena.  I promptly released it back outdoors!

Oh, and one more thing . . . we got chickens!  Someone told me you can't be a real homeschooler where we live without owning a few chickens.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

We live rural, and it feels like pretty much everyone that doesn't live in town owns chickens, especially in my homeschool circles.

I have actually never owned any farm animals in my entire life, but my husband grew up on a farm and we live next to his parent's farm where they still keep chickens, among other things, so it's not really a foreign concept for us.

The kids have already named them:  Chickoletta, Hen Solo, Princess Lay-a, and Taco

So there it is.  Summer's not over, but our summer break is.  It wasn't anything fancy, just casual and fun and relaxed.  Now, we're preparing to ease back into a traditional schedule.  We have a longer trip planned in September, so I thought about waiting to start until after that, but we also return to start co-op that very next week.  I feel like I'll be too scattered to come off vacation and start school at the same time, but if we start in August, I can try to iron out any wrinkles in our schedule.  It'll also help break up the first term if we have a week off in there.  So it won't be long, and I'll be posting about curriculum choices and schedules and my sweet Eleanor starting Kindergarten and all that fun stuff!

©2011-2018 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, July 28, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: So Many Books!

This has been my week.  I have stacks of books everywhere.

I don't think I realized how many books are used in AO, and I only have two school aged students right now!  I've been going through their books, pre-reading and skimming, checking out vocabulary and chapter length.  I've been turning the schedule into a daily checklist, to keep fostering independence in the kids.

Then I turn around to find more stacks of books.

I look over all these books, and think that's a lot of books!  Then I think, I CAN'T BELIEVE I MISSED SO MANY GREAT BOOKS IN SCHOOL!

©2011-2018 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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Smart Kidz Radio Review

If you have young children who like music, and you're looking for something beyond traditional kiddie music, yet still wholesome, you might be interested in Smart Kidz Radio.  This is the newest offering from Smart Kidz Media.  It is an online, "edutainment" radio station specifically for children ages 2-10 years old.  It features original songs and stories designed to help children build self-esteem and learn valuable living skills in a safe listening environment.  There are two components: free radio streaming, and On Demand content.

Once you sign in, it is a very simple interface.  You can press play to listen to the free streaming radio station.  The songs are original and talk about respecting your parents, understanding others, sharing your talent and gifts with others, creativity, and other positive attributes.  The songs have a variety of sounds, are upbeat and positive, and some have children singing while others have adults.  It's a good mixture of music, just like a radio station.  It does play on a loop, but if you don't play it for hours straight, you won't likely notice.

The commercial breaks are just a short blurb about Smart Kidz Media or an introduction to the next song.  I never did hear or see any outside advertisements, even though the content is free.  The "ads" you see in the screenshot only take you to other areas of the Smart Kidz company, but if you have a child prone to clicking things, you might want to monitor the device yourself.  The FAQ section of the website states you can also use an android or iOS app, but so far we have only used my laptop.

The radio station is streaming only, but once I started poking around a little, I found the podcasts.  Just click on the menu, then the podcast symbol.  This option includes several familiar children's stories, mostly fairy and folk tales.  They sound more like radio programming than audiobook, and I noticed a few creative liberties in the few we've listened to, but overall they are acceptable for our family.  I also think it's safe to say that those which were originally books, like Alice in Wonderland or Pinocchio, are greatly abbreviated.  If you're just looking for an introduction to the story, it won't be an issue, but children should know that there is so much more to the original story!  Most stories are about 15-20 minutes, which is a good length for the preschool crowd I have listening, but there are a few selections that are only a couple of minutes each.

There will also be an option to upgrade to the On-Demand subscription for just $3.99/month, or $39.90 for the year.  This will give you access to another thousand or so songs and stories, which also follow the idea of promoting good behavior and living skills.  As of now, I do not have access to the On Demand content, but you can read their FAQ for more specific information.

The suggested age range is 2-10 years old.  My kids are 3, 5, 8 and 11.  Based on their reactions and my experience working with elementary kids in church and co-op, I would recommend the music for about ages 2-6, though the stories might get more mileage.  My older kids made it clear they were too old for the music, but my 3 and 5 year olds danced around.  If you're wanting to find something different to play in the background during playtime or clean-up, you could give the free channel a try!

If you would like to find out more, check out Smart Kidz Media or read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew!

©2011-2018 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.