Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to ME!) - A Crew Review

If you have a High School aged student, you may be wondering how to prepare them for standardized testing. One way often emphasized is to teach word roots. While word roots are valuable, learning prefixes and suffixes are vitally important too. Emily and I have been reviewing Greek Morphemes Lessons (It’s NOT Greek to Me!) from Ready to Teach for the Schoolhouse Review Crew for the past seven weeks. Besides being an easy-to-use, open-and-go curriculum, I’ve learned that you don’t have to wait until High School for your students to benefit from this program.

The basic Greek Morphemes set includes an Instructor’s Manual, with flash drive, and a consumable Student book. (The Instructor’s book used to come with a CD, but Ready to Teach has realized many people are purchasing laptops without internal CD players, so thus, the change to a flash drive.)

This program is thorough, yet still so simple to use. The Instructor’s guide gives you a blueprint of the different suggested ways to implement this program. The three basic plans are: first - in a classroom setting, where the instructor uses the an overhead projector, or the enclosed powerpoint slides to teach the morphemes (word parts) to a group all at once, then the student do their assignments independently. The second plan involves the parent and student working together through the powerpoint slides on the computer, then the student working on the assignments, with Mom or Dad helping as needed and grading the tests. The third plan works well for older students (like our Emily - almost 17.)  In this third option, the student uses the flash drive to watch the power point lessons, then works independently on their assignments each week. This option really only requires the parent/ teacher to be available for the weekly tests and to help sparingly as needed. 

Watching how easily Emily learned how to do what was asked of her in each assignment, I realized that these lessons could easily be used with younger students. If you have a Middle School aged student who has learned to work at least semi-independently, you could use the second option and give them a head start on understanding these word pieces that are so prevalent in the reading they will likely be doing in High School.

For classroom settings (or your local co-op) the Instructor’s Manual has more than you should ever need, and is divided into sections for easy navigation. The first section is short, but sweet, and includes the how-to’s on getting started, plus bulletin board ideas. The second part includes the lessons and answers your students should be working to find. The third section includes transparency masters, which are helpful for school settings where technology is not readily available. The fourth section includes review activities to help your student prepare for the tests, and the fifth section is the tests and answer keys. This softcover book also includes pre-made review cards for the teacher so you can keep up with what your students are learning.

The student book includes pages for recording what is learned in each lesson, as well as exercises that challenge them to put those new morphemes right to work. In the back is a section of cardstock designed to be transformed into review cards by the student. Emily found it easiest to cut these cards apart using our scrapbooking paper cutter so the edges all stayed straight.

From Emily:

Greek Morphimes is a well written, easy-to-follow course on understanding greek roots, prefixes and endings in the words we use every day. The book comes with easy to tear out cards for memorization and a flash drive of lessons. Each lesson begins with a slideshow of the word definitions and an explanation of the lesson sections for the week. The definitions are written down in the workbook along with the other assignments, which include defining vocabulary words, using them in explanatory sentences and having the student make up new words of their own. Each of the lessons (save the first) add the pieces from previous lessons in their vocabulary words. The lessons are each followed by a test of that week’s definitions, all on the same flash drive. A glossary can be found at the end of the workbook with all of the definitions from the twelve lessons. It has made finding parts of words for definitions much easier for me, and all I needed besides the book and cards was scissors or a paper cutter for the cards and a dictionary.

Koru Naturals Review

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, March 28, 2015

This Charmed Life

I was reminded again today of what a blessed life I lead. Those who don't know Christ might call it a "charmed" life, but I prefer to call it what it is - blessed! I'm not a pencil pusher, nor do I have to contend with rush-hour traffic every day. For the most part, I get to set my own schedule at work, and the girls don't have to catch a bus at 7 a.m.


This home educating life isn't any easier than the next life, in fact, at times, it may be more difficult, but I would not change it for anything! I am SO thankful God has called us to this life. This life with more intangibles than I could ever list, and more blessings than a million dollars could ever hope to buy. This life where I love my friends and family who encourage me daily. This life where my children help with the housework, where my husband willingly goes to work to provide for us, this life where I even have time to occasionally read a book.

This life I lead is blessed. Thank you Jesus for my life, and thank you friends for being a part of it!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thick as Thieves - A Crew Review

Have you ever struggled with what to have your young teen read? We have. There comes a time when they're too mature to really enjoy chapter books, yet as a parent, you hesitate to have them read too much adult literature because of the themes. We found a quality choice for these middle years in the book we've been reviewing for The Schoolhouse Crew from the Circle C Milestones series. Susan K. Marlow's newest book Thick as Thieves follows the life of 14 year old Andrea (Andi) Carter.

1880's California History

Andrea is the youngest sibling in a big cattle ranching family. The story is set in California in 1882, and opens with Andi's concern for her mare Taffy as the time approaches for her first foaling. If you or your children are not familiar with horse and ranching terminology, don't fret, you can download the 40 page Thick as Thieves Study Guide to help you better understand and more thoroughly enjoy the book. More on the study guide later!

Since Arlene is 14,  and like horses, it did not surprise me that she took off to her room with the book and finished it in just a couple days. I also read the book, and enjoyed it. The plot is deep enough to hold your interest, with just enough on-the-edge adventure that you don't want to put it down. I appreciated the care given to how the book portrays Andi's inner struggles with everyday life. When a new girl comes to school, Andi is faced with the tough decision of acting with compassion or selfishness. This new girl, Macy Walker, has lived such a vastly different life than Andi that there is a serious gulf in the two girls' outlooks on life. As Andi realizes the contrast between the loving but sometimes strict family she has grown up with, and the lack of care Macy has received from her no-account brothers, her compassion grows and valuable lessons are learned. This book does a solid job of portraying how Andrea's character is molded by her family, her faith, and life lessons without being preachy.

The 40 page study guide would be a valuable resource for many families, especially if you use this as a read-aloud for a range of ages. The study guide divides the book into sections of just a few chapters each. Each section has some vocabulary exercises, plus some questions for digging deeper into the characters, the plot, or your study of horses. There is a variety of activities to help, from crossword puzzles, matching exercises, and even further reading ideas. While Arlene already knew what all the horse terminology meant (thank you summer camp,)  if your reader is younger, or hasn't been around horses much, this could be a great asset.

At $9.99 for a 173 page paperback, plus a free downloadable study guide, this title is worth a look. I would recommend it as an independent read for ages 12 and up, if your horse lover is younger, or you have a variety of ages, this would make a superb read-aloud.

Arlene and I discussed that we would have liked a list of characters in the front of the book. Susan Marlow has written other books about the Carter family, and even though it isn;t necessary to have read any of them to enjoy Thick as Thieves, it took each of us a coupe chapters to sort out who was who in the story.

From Arlene:
Thick as Thieves is the first book in the newest Andrea Carter Series . In case you don’t know anything about the books they are about a girl living on her family ranch just outside of Fresno California in the 1880s. The book starts when Andrea’s horse gives birth to twin colts, and follows her life between going to school and raising the colts, and what happens when cattle thieves steal their and other ranchers' cattle. The books are for ages 12+ however if you have younger children who you think might enjoy similar stories Susan Marlow has two other series: Circle C Beginnings for ages 6-9 and Circle C Adventures for ages 9-14. 

Koru Naturals Review

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - Homeschool Conventions

I am thankful for Homeschool Conventions. Many state and regional groups host conventions, and if you live too far away to travel to one, you can even attend an online convention. If you're wondering why I am thankful for a convention, consider this: where else can you learn from so many different speakers and view so many types of curriculum and hands-on activities in just a day or two?

I've been to a few homeschooling conventions. The picture above is from the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati last year. On the left is my friend Bethany, and in the middle is Jim Weiss from Greathall Productions. A few years ago Bethany and her sister-in-law introduced me to Jim Weiss' wonderful story CD's. I went to one of his speaking sessions and I was hooked. Our girls have amassed quite a collection of Mr Weiss' CD's since then. I enjoy listening to them too. Jim Weiss' CD's are one part history, two parts story and three parts fun. If you grew up in the 70's or 80's, your parents might have listened to the singer Andy Williams, Jim Weiss' voice reminds me of those Andy Williams records my parents had. Besides being a master storyteller, Mr. Weiss is a fun guy to be around. Arlene and Emily wanted to know what he looked like, so I asked if Bethany & I could take a picture with him after his speaking session. FYI- he's short. That's ok because it puts him closer to eye level with all those children he entertains!

I've heard convention speakers talk about learning styles, teaching methods, record keeping, and a lot of other topics. Going through the exhibit hall can be a bit daunting if you're new to educating at home. The best advice I ever received was "look, but don't buy your first day there." In the dozen years we have been educating our girls, the amount of curriculum choices has grown exponentially. Many books are not necessary to teach your children, but sometimes it's nice to have all those choices. The variety in the convention exhibit hall can even help you choose what NOT to do. We still make great use of our library card! Don't be fooled into thinking you need a curriculum for every subject. Choose wisely and stick to your budget. Last year I spent time at the exhibit hall making sure that the geometry curriculum I had chosen from online sample pages was really the one I wanted the girls to use.

If you have the opportunity to attend a convention, I encourage you to go. It may not be something you do every year, but it can be such a time of encouragement and refreshing. This is the time of year I could use some encouragement to keep going! I am thankful our state homeschool group's convention starts tomorrow. Stop by again next week, we can both use the encouragement to be thankful!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Week 11 - The Bathrooms

34 weeks of cleaning with friends
Michele gave us the task of cleaning and decluttering our bathrooms for week 11. Since Emily & Arlene clean the bathrooms twice each week, there wasn't a lot that needed done on the cleaning part... however, the decluttering needed some help. Our upstairs half-bath was my targeted area for this week. Since our 105 year old house is short on closets, a lot of things get stored under this double sink. The left cabinet is for cleaning towels and extra shampoo, plus a couple items that don't fit anywhere else, like the foot bath. Yes, those are baby wipes. They clean as well as the fancy bathroom wipes, but they're less toxic, and a whole lot cheaper!

All this cabinet really needed was some TLC. Once I sorted the towels by size, and moved the ones for the kitchen back downstairs, it was a snap to put everything back in the cabinet again. The other cabinet holds our extra bath and beach towels, plus my hairdryer and curling irons. That side stays neater, since there aren't as many small towels to get shoved around.

34 weeks of cleaning with friends

After the cabinets were finished, I decided to clean out my drawer. The girls and Kurt will have to do their own drawers. I threw out some broken barrettes and cleaned out the random hairs that get away from the brush. Overall, this wasn't a difficult task, I just needed to set aside the time to get it done.

34 weeks of cleaning with friends

Next week's task is the DVD's. Hmm... that might take more time.

Have a great week! (Go clean something!)