Monday, March 24, 2014

A Great Alternative to the Learn our History Videos

If you have read my review on the Learn Our History Videos then you know how much I wanted to like them but how disappointed I was.

Right now you can get Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series for $7.99.  Currently there are over 450 reviews.  The average review is 5 stars.  You can't get much better than that for a recommendation.

The series above is in my amazon shopping cart and I will be ordering it tonight.  For $8 you get 40 episodes on 4 discs.

"Homeschoolers' Dream for American History" said one reviewer.

What put me even further over the edge was hearing another homeschooling friend speak highly of the series.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Learn Our History Videos Review

I have now watched four of the videos from Learn Our History.  Four videos!  I think that makes me very qualified to post this review.  We received the first one for free as a part of their promotion and then we were billed monthly for the next three videos before I felt like I had given the videos more than a fair chance and called to cancel.  I really wanted to like these videos!!

I had read several of the negative reviews and decided to take my chances anyway after going to this website.  Mike Huckabee is the co-founder of this company and that made it all the more appealing to me.  I felt that if he was backing these videos that they must be good.

We have the following videos:

One Nation Under God
The Adventures of Lewis and Clark
The Mayflower and the First Thanksgiving
Columbus and The Great Discovery

Today we watched The Adventures of Lewis and Clark.  It was definitely better than the last video.  I can't remember the name but one of the characters called another stupid.  I know it is not a really bad word but if  I wanted them to hear that kind of dialog I would turn on Sponge Bob.

Like other reviewers, I felt like the characters in the stories leave a lot to be desired.  There is a country boy who wears overalls with a strong country accent, a mean boy who says mean things all the time, two nice, preppy girls, and a nerdy boy who talks nasally kind of like Steve Urkel from the old TV show Family Matters.  What they should have done is created characters like those from the Magic Treehouse. Those two are likeable and believable.

I felt like more time could be spent in actual history than in dealing with the characters who travel back in time.

The animation is not that great.  I had read that in other reviews but I was hoping that the content would make up for it.

Maybe their later videos are better.  I'm not spending the money to find out though.

You can read more about my Learn our History review here.   (This is a site where I get paid to post!)

You can check out more reviews below:

Review 1 from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Review 2 from A Spirited Mind

Review 3 from Homeschool Circus

Review 4 from Debbie's Homeschool Corner

Thursday, September 5, 2013

United States Worksheet

I found this worksheet on the Super Teacher Worksheets website.  It has a lot of free worksheets including this one on the states.  Each of the states is numbered on the map.  Your student has to write the name of the state on the numbered sheet that corresponds to the map.

This would be great practice. Use it along with a map with the states written on it.  Or you could use it as a quiz or test on the states.  If you'll look closely at the picture below you'll notice that Hawaii is #51.  I was a little confused by this at first.  Did I miss something recently,  I thought.  I looked closer at the sheets and noticed it does say states and US capital.  That is the reason for #51.  : )

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homeschool Science First Week of School

Water Absorbing Polymers "Mad Science Super Growing Crystals Kit"

My kids were given this as a gift a long while ago and I finally got it out. There are three packets of "crystals" and we put them in separate glass cups.  The review on Amazon is based on the fact that the person who bought them thought that they were actual crystals, not water absorbing polymers.

This turned out to be our first science experiment of the year.  The kids had fun watching them grow and observing that some of them were connecting.  Then they wanted to find out what would happen if different colors were placed together so we added a 4th cup.

Because this was so much fun I started researching more about polymers which lead me to The Magic School Bus Slime and Polymer Lab.

After checking out the kit above I looked at some of the other Magic School Bus Science Kits and the "Human Body"  all have great reviews.

Please share if you have any experience with these cool science kits?  Or have you done any polymer experiments?  Please share in the comment section.  : )

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Addition Games

Here's a fun math game that both my first grader and pre-k students can play together.  It is from KidsCount123 I've used a few games from this site and I really like them.  Today we played a version of yahtzee.  It is called kindergarten yahtzee but like I said it worked fine with my first grader and pre-k student. Take turns rolling 2 dice.  Add the numbers and color each rectangle as you go.  The player who has all the numbers colored first wins.  It gets hard at the end.  And my kids' attention span was starting to wane.  So we decided to role 4 dice but still only add two of them.  That made the game end a lot faster.

We also played "Bump"   This is another fun addition game.  My kids enjoyed "bumping" each others' game pieces off the board.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mastering Addition Facts

As part of our routine my daughter has been doing XtraMath for about five minutes first thing in the morning.
To learn addition facts try I am going to print out:
Say it, write it, repeat it  I recommend circling the ones your student does not know and only having him or her do those. I also found some great math worksheets for pre-k or K

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How to Teach Cursive

Ready to teach cursive?  I wanted to get a bit of a jump start for my first grader.  To start with I made my own pages of connected swirls and cursive letters using a highlighter.  Then my students traced in pencil.

One of my favorite places I found for free cursive worksheets was  KidZone cursive
I found though that it may be better to begin with the letter "e" when teaching cursive.  Kidzone starts with "a."

Handwriting workshops is great if you what to type your own paragraph, sentence or words in cursive for your student to trace or copy. 

You can also print out whole themed cursive workbooks for free. The first one that I'll probably do is the copy work on the Ancient Greeks.

I am also going to print and laminate a page each of the upper case alphabet in cursive and lower case alphabet in cursive.  Then my kids can practice over an over with a dry erase marker.  Here's the laminator that I use.  I've put this to lots of use.  It is super convenient and small.


Whole Lower Case Alphabet in Cursive

Whole Upper Case Alphabet in Cursive

For Zaner Boser style:

Upper case

Lower case

I prefer D'Nealian I think because it looks closer to what I was taught.

You can also print out entire pages of one letter in cursive.  (Or just write it out yourself in yellow and have your student trace in pencil--if you only have one student.)

I got some of my ideas from Teaching Cursive

Maybe you even what your kids to do some handwriting practice in Spanish.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Free Online Math Practice with XtraMath

Thanks to my friend/neighbor Cathy for introducing us to this free online math practice site.  I love it.  It is called XtraMath.  A non profit organization dedicated to math achievement runs this site.  It is an individualized math practice program.  Once a week it sends me a progress report, although I don't necessarily need it since my daughter is working on it right there with me in the same room.  It is part of our daily routine.  In fact it is the first school thing my daughter does in the morning.  So much better than traditional flash cards.  It keeps track of her progress.  Plus it only takes about 5 minutes per day.

Here is what we see when we sign in.  The green boxes mean the student is answering that fact correctly in under three seconds. A yellow box means the student is answering the question correctly in three to ten seconds. A gray square means the student is answering that question incorrectly or is taking too long to answer that question. A white square means the student has not started practicing that fact. 

Here is a video about how to get started at home with XtraMath to watch with your kids.

Here are some first grade math ideas.

Math U See or Saxon or Both?

We are finishing up first grade Saxon math and I already have been using Math U See simultaneously.  I'm still somewhat torn about Math U See.  I like it for a lot of reasons.  I like the manipulatives and the way that concepts are explained.  I like the video although it is pretty dry for the younger kids.  It does the job though.  My kids watch it so it really isn't a big negative for me.  So far the big difference I can see between it and Saxon is that Saxon includes a lot of review in every single lesson.  Math U See does not cover the standards at the same time as a lot of other math programs do.  Because of that I will continue to use another program at the same time.  My daughter knows what to expect with Saxon and does well with it so I am going to continue to use it.  We also use a Singapore Math workbook.  She is finishing up level 1A which says it is appropriate for students in 2nd grade.

Today I printed this addition worksheet to help practice adding within 0-10 with a missing addend.  I also like this addition exercise where the student has to add 3 addends.  Students are instructed to add those in the brackets first (which all add up to 10 by the way) and then add that with the final number.  This was great practice for making 10.

For something different try  Fact Monster.  Basically glorified online math flashcards.  Students try to get as many stars (correct answers) in a row as they can.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Geography From A to Z

I recently got the book Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary.  I really like the book.  Along with it I found another Mama Jenn's blog.  She has created some great copy work pages to go along with the book.  Students draw a picture of the geographical term and then write the definition.  After doing the first one my daughter asked if she could do another.  Umm...Let me think about that.  Absolutely!

Draw geography terms and write definitions part 1
Draw geography terms and write definitions part 2