Sep 18

Teaching Accountability Through the Use of My Student Logbook – A Crew Review

student log book collage

Teaching accountability and student organization can be one of the most rewarding tasks of a homeschool teacher when fruit is realized. At the beginning of this homeschool year, I knew that my third grader was in need of this skill. I use an assignment list in binders for each of my students, but I needed something that was simpler for him. I wanted My Student Logbook Reviewhim to get used to doing tasks in a specific order and checking them off of a list himself. Enter My Student Logbook. We were sent the undated student logbook with the rainforest cover for review. From the beginning, I loved the simplicity and slim design of this product. It is intended for students in 2nd grade and up and is available as a physical product for $15.00. You can choose from dated or undated books and there is a PDF instant download available for $10 for an individual student or $20 for a family license. I have tried many planning systems over the nine years we have been homeschooling and this product stands out from other planners because it is a logbook, more of a record of things completed, than a traditional planner. The logbook is an implementation tool to help your student develop organization while carrying out your homeschool plans. I found it necessary to continue to use my old system of planning in a traditional planner and the use of assignment sheets in addition to the student logbook.

 

 

The planner consists of setup instructions in the front of the spiral-bound paperback logbook. The front cover is made of clear plastic with a durable black vinyl back cover. Next you will find instructions on how to use the logbook to create high school transcripts. You can watch videos on the website that explain this process and the setup process. This didn’t apply to me with ages of my students so I skimmed over that information. There are some samples of how you can setup your logbook in the introduction. I chose to use a 5 day week format using a 36 week school year..I was able to read through this material and have my logbook setup and ready to go in under 15 minutes. Easy Peasy! Here are the things you will find included in the logbook:

  • 6 Checklist pages – these are removed as needed from the book and folded to make the reusable foldover portion of the logbook. See the example below. If you need more than six over the course of the year, the copyright allows permission to copy this page for personal use. I anticipate changing the list or order of Luke’s tasks probably each semester. I simply wrote a descending list of the tasks and subjects that I wanted him to accomplish each day. Things such as chores, I lumped into categories such as morning and afternoon chores rather than list out each one separately. student checklist
  • Over 50 Calendar pages (shown under the foldover portion in the picture above). These pages can be customized to fit your style of homeschooling. They have dated pages available, but since we school nearly year round, I chose the undated book. You can peel back the foldover portion to reveal a notes section where you can record any pertinent information that you would like to remember from that day or week. So far, I have not used that section.
  • The back portion of the logbook has an All About Me Page. I customized this with a back to school photo and I was thrilled with how it came out.All About Me Third Grade
  • Prayers and Goals section – a one page lined sheet for free writing.
  • Bible Verses Memorized. I used this to keep track of the verses Luke has been memorizing in AWANA. I was surprised to find out that in the last 5 weeks he has already learned 13 verses!
  • 3 Books Read Pages – I will keep track of his school book list and homeschool book club selections here.
  • 3 pages to record events, projects, field trips, presentations or activities. We have our first field trip of the year tomorrow, so I look forward to using this page. I think I will also make notations as to whether I took pictures, saved paraphernalia from the event, etc.
  • .3 pages to record test scores
  • The last page is reserved for recording highlights and memories from the year.
Completed logbook page

One week of a completed calendar page

 

We found this product affordable and easy to implement. I liked the way that the logbook allowed me to transfer responsibility over to my son for completing the task list. I was able to see at a glance what things remained to complete in a day, and I was able to use it as a record to report to my husband on whether non-school tasks such as chores were being accomplished. Although we used it simply as a task list and recording tool, you could easily record page numbers, hours spent, grades and more in the boxes of the calendar pages. It is very versatile!  If you are looking for a great tool to help assist you in making your students more independent, consider giving this product a try. You don’t have to take my word for it. Head on over to the Schoolhouse Crew Blog to read more reviews of this product.

My Student Logbook Review

 

My Student Logbook ReviewConnect with My Student Logbook on Social Media

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MyStudentLogbook

You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMxzpy91vov8a8nDpyp2ihQ

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Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/18/teaching-accountability-through-the-use-of-my-student-logbook-a-crew-review/

Sep 17

Water for the Thirsty Soul

Books to Encourage the Homeschool MomHave you ever likened the need for encouragement as the longing for drink when you are thirsty? I know there are times when I just LONG for some water in the hot Georgia sun. I also find my soul longing for encouragement. At these times, I run to my Father God for some much-needed love and affirmation. Today, I want to share a list of some books that have encouraged my heart over the last year. Grab your favorite beverage and snuggle up for some good reads that will encourage your mama’s heart.

 

 

 

 

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

This book is a great one for mom’s of littles. I wish that someone had given me some of the advice that I received in this book five years before I read the book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

I really loved the focus on saying “no” to things. Many moms struggle with this skill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duggar

 

 

 

 

Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger Duggar

As a second-generation homeschooler, I identified with many of the concepts presented in this book. It was a good read and encouraged me that there are still families that are serious about training their kids in godliness. While I don’t agree with all standards the Duggars uphold, I admire their commitment to godliness.This is a good read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keep the good in your boy

 

 

 

 

Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy by Dannah Gresh.

This book was loaned to me by a friend. I enjoyed it so much, I would like to have my own copy to reread. If you have sons, this is a must read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

This book touched me to my core. I shared it with several of my mom friends. It would even be a good one to read to your older kids. It is a true story of sacrifice and love and one girl’s mission to change the world one child at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical by David Platt

This book was very challenging to me. It changed my thinking and made me want to do great things for God.

 

 

If you are looking for some more great reads,

 

check out some of my fellow bloggers suggestions.

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/17/water-for-the-thirsty-soul/

Sep 16

Goal Setting and My New Favorite Tool

7 min life pin7 Minute Life Daily Planner ReviewThe 7 Minute Life is a company committed to helping you learn time management skills while boosting your productivity and organizing your life. Time management strategist Allyson Lewis has created an excellent time management tool called The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner to help you prioritize and organize your life. I received this product free of charge for my honest review. If you are anything like me, you are juggling many balls on this path we call life. I call myself a wife, mother, teacher, blogger, registered nurse, homemaker, student of the Bible, cook, soccer mom, board member and more. Those descriptions don’t include my hobbies and other bucket list items that I try to squeeze in on occasion. I have found as my kids get older and busier, the way I have always done things such as organizing and goal setting is not working anymore. I have been looking for new ways to improve my productivity and simplify my life. I have been inspired in the past to set goals, but found that I always wrote them in notebooks or on notepads and then put them aside, never keeping them in front of me. Out of sight, out of mind.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

When I received this 270-page wire-bound paperback book, I looked through the volume and noticed the thick frosted cover. It was curling from the summer heat but I quickly fixed that problem by attaching an extra-large rubber band that I found at a local office supply store around the book. The introduction explains the philosophy of the 7 Minute Life. The emphasis is on prioritizing, organizing and simplifying your life at work and at home. For homeschool moms, this could help you run your homeschool, a family business and your personal life. The planner is meant to assist you with identifying your high priorities, set goals, list unfinished tasks and build the relationships of your choosing. Time passes so quickly and this system is designed to help you make the most of your time so that you can make a difference in your world. The idea of the 7 Minute Life comes from research that Allyson has read that states that an average adult has an attention span of 7 minutes. She created the exercises in the front matter to be able to be completed in 7 minutes and says that by giving 7 minutes to having a written plan for the day, you can greatly boost your productivity. By using the THINK-WRITE-DO philosophy explained in the book you simply take stock of your priorities and goals using the process and worksheets outlined in the front matter of the planner. This section took me a while to complete. I had to take time to process and really dig deep to get these ideas on paper. The first three assignments were “Life Ideas” that included determining your top 10 values, Discovering your life purpose, and establishing 90 day goals. You continue from here to complete 10 “7 Minute Micro-Actions” These worksheets included listing unfinished tasks, brain dumping on the mental clutter worksheet, listing all the home repair items that need to be attended to and more. t was rather freeing to get some of those things off my mind and on to paper. I liked knowing that all that information was in one safe place and I could review them daily as I sat down to use the planner. After the thinking exercises, there are some undated calendar pages. A year at a glance page, and several 90-Day Calendar Worksheets. They are not formatted like your standard planners. Next, I simply committed to write down five high priority tasks to complete by eleven o’clock each day. This is called the 5 before 11 principle. Since I am a homeschool mom and have many interruptions to my day, I usually turned that commitment into five things to do before I go to bed. This principle is recorded on a Daily Progress Report. The remainder of the planner is filled with enough pages for 90 days of Daily Progress reports for you to use in planning and executing your goals. Take a look at the sample below.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The Daily Contacts section is intended for businessmen and women to list the contacts that they make each day, I tweaked this column to apply to my role as a homeschool teacher and blogger and used it as a daily brain dump area or extra to-do list. The 5 before 11 section was the most impactful daily activity for me. It was like making a contract with myself to follow-through on the tasks. There is a check box at the very bottom that states, “Did I do what I said I would do today?” It was very gratifying to be able to check that box at the end of the day. The Life Connections section is where I documented those that I came in contact with that day whether in person or by phone or email. The Unfinished Task list is where I transferred some of the items I wanted to attend to from my master Unfinished Task List. I did not use the What I Spent column. I liked the water glasses and food journal areas for you to keep track of your health. There are boxes for amount of time spent sleeping, exercising, reflecting and reading. I used this planner each morning after my devotional time before the kids get up to map out my day and set my goals. I found it very useful to take these 7 minutes each morning to plan.

health record 7 minute life

The Daily Progress Report is a two-page spread. The opposite page (not shown) is a typical calendar style column with times for you to list appointments. There is another column for voice mail. I did not use the voice mail column as intended. I tweaked it and wrote notes of things that came up, emails that I needed to attend to and various other things. I am still tweaking the columns intended or business. The thank you note section I used as intended on days where there was correspondence that I needed to attend to, on other days, I used it to list my prayer requests for the day or week. It is easy to rename or repurpose the columns to fit your needs. I tried to use washi tape to cover the column titles that I repurposed but found that using white out or simply striking out the title was much faster. After writing my 5 before 11 each morning, I simply had to execute and follow through on my plan. I found it empowering to accomplish my list each day. I felt and acted more productive. I even added things to the unfinished tasks list each day when I had a few spare minutes to work on a micro action.

I really like the concepts behind this program and think it would be extremely useful for most moms. I like that it is undated and you can use this at any time of the year, however I think I would like to see a version that had all twelve months rather than just a 90-Day setup. This would be more conducive to homeschool moms. I greatly benefited from evaluating my priorities and listing out my goals. You can get your copy for $24.95 with a 100% money-back guarantee. Ten percent of the proceeds of the purchase go to helping provide food, water and education to the needy. This product is intended for adults, but teens ages 14+ may be able to use this system successfully.You can learn more about the concepts of the 7 Minute Life by watching the video below.

There are some great free time strategy tools available at the website as well as a getting started page.

Connect with The 7 Minute Life via FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+ and You Tube 
Read what other moms thought of this product by clicking on the graphic below.

Click to read Crew ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/16/goal-setting-and-my-new-favorite-tool/

Sep 14

Fall Recipe Roundup

I felt the feeling of fall in the air tonight. Tomorrow is my birthday and will be my last cheat day for awhile. I have been allowing myself a few more off plan meals now that I am at goal weight with my Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle change. Although I am still maintaining and can afford a cheat now and then, I feel noticeably more fatigued and just generally blah when I eat off plan. So here is my ode to fall with a collection of some great looking fall recipes and decorating ideas.

Fall Mood Board

 

To get to these recipes and ideas, just hop on over to my Fall Pinterest Board. I hope you are inspired to try some new recipes or make your own decoration. I am planning to print out the Fall Bucket list or I might even attempt to take a screen shot and set it as my screensaver on my smartphone! Happy Fall Ya’ll. Check back next week for some more Fall Pinspiration!

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/14/fall-recipe-roundup/

Sep 09

Audio Drama for the Entire Family – A Review of Under Drake’s Flag

Under Drake's Flag AudioHeirloom Audio Productions recently sent us an audio drama for review. I had heard many positive reports of the G.A. Henty books in the homeschooling community, but had never read any of them to my children. Under Drake’s Flag is an audio drama adaptation of the book, Under Drake’s Flag, by G.A. Henty. It follows the adventures of Sir Francis Drake.

About the Product

Analytical Grammar Review

 

This two-CD set is available for $29.95 (prices accurate at the time of this review and subject to change) plus shipping and handling ($5.95). Included in the set is a condensed study guide booklet in the CD case and access to a free PDF download of a longer companion study guide. The running time for the audio is two hours. It is recommended for ages 6- adult.

The audio drama is produced by Bill Heid and directed by John Fornof. This movie-quality radio drama features an acclaimed British actor, Brian Blessed. The award-winning sound designer, Mark Drury is known for his work on The Chronicle of Narnia Audio Series. You will recognize the style of the musical score if you are fans of the Adventures in Odyssey radio series. Composer John Campbell is credited with their music along with other popular audio dramas.

 

The conflict between England and Spain for control of the high seas provides a dramatic backdrop to the story. The high-seas adventure includes sword fights, encounters with pirates, a rescue in shark-infested waters following the journey of two boys becoming men under the influence of their hero Sir Francis Drake. The boys are learning to conquer their fears and grow their faith aboard The Golden Hinde. They also are faced with some of the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. Your children will see history come alive in this action-packed story and will want to listen to it again and again.

The condensed version of the study guide included in the CD set is in booklet form and is meant to help parents or teachers better understand the principles and storyline of the drama. There are sets of questions for each part of the story and each set of questions is broken down as follows:

  • Listening Well – these questions are intended to help with recall and listening comprehension.
  • Thinking Further – these questions help you delve deeper into the nuances of the story and increase interest. Helping you speculate and come to conclusions about the story is also part of this section.
  • Defining Words – a list of words in the story to learn. No definitions are given.

The end of the booklet has three topical Bible study suggestions that come from themes in the story. Godly Character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ.

The free downloadable PDF Study Guide is the full version of the condensed booklet. It is 27 pages long and includes many more questions and vocabulary words than the booklet. There is also a helpful list of resources for more study of Sir Francis Drake.

How We Used this Resource

Study Guide for Under Drake's Flag

We first listened to this drama on a 12 hour road trip. It was a great way to keep the kids entertained in the car and it enraptured the entire family from my four-year old to dad. After returning home, we listened again and used some of the questions from the study guide to help us deepen our understanding of the story. I plan to pull this audio out again when we study the Spanish Inquisition and encounter Sir Francis Drake in our history studies in the future. I think the study guide would also be useful as a springboard for essay writing. Middle schoolers on up should find plenty of material for short character descriptions or thematic essays within the study guide.

Connect with Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook for updates on their upcoming new releases. In Freedom’s Cause, the story behind the life and legacy of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce is scheduled to be released in November.

Read what other crew members had to say about Under Drake’s Flag clicking on the graphic below.

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/09/audio-drama-for-the-entire-family-a-review-of-under-drakes-flag/

Sep 07

Encouraging Others

I have been enjoying the quiet mornings before the kids get up the last couple of weeks. When we get back into our homeschool routine, I benefit greatly by these few moments before the household is stirring. My husband sits at the kitchen table eating his breakfast and checking out the news of the day and I turn a little corner of my living room into my private sanctuary. I seek God through His Word and Bible study and I receive so much encouragement for my soul. This one discipline is what helps me make it through the busyness of life.

I am also learning to add a few minutes into my routine to plan out my day and week. I get easily distracted with all the things I juggle on a daily basis and having a written plan and goals for the day help me stay focused. From this attention to my spiritual needs and organizing my time, I am beginning to see some fruit in my life. I am keeping my experience in Romania close to my heart and trying not to forget the lessons of slowing life down and focusing on the important things in my life.

Encouragement

As I am encouraged by the Lord in my daily quiet time, I am finding my heart overflowing with blessings and I am noticing the needs of others around me more and more. I am purposing to send an encouraging note to moms that I notice need a bright spot in their day. I am trying to make a point to stop and talk to younger moms at church. I am praying for opportunities to encourage and pray for other moms. Jotting down reminders to send a card, email or instant message helps me be intentional about encouragement. Good intentions only take you so far. I need the accountability of writing things down. This is sort of my contract with myself not to fritter away my days in meaningless tasks. I want to spend my time on things that matter to God and things that matter to me.

The Joy of the Lord

As I receive joy and encouragement from the Lord, I am equipped to share those blessings with others. This is not based on my circumstances or feelings. This is an outflow from my quiet time. Realizing that God has me here on the earth for a purpose makes me want to accomplish His will each and every day. I don’t want to miss the opportunities He brings into my life. I can be a part of accomplishing His plan each and every day if I stay in tune with the Holy Spirit and listen for His promptings.

Strength for the Journey

“The joy of the Lord is my strength”. – Nehemiah 8:10b

I love this familiar Bible verse because it reminds me that joy that comes from the Lord, the joy in the heart, is not based on what is going on around me. It is different from happiness that is only temporary. The joy of the Lord is able to give me stability and strength for the road of life ahead of me. My God is so faithful to give me the things I need for my journey. I am excited about the journey this week. How about you? Are you looking for opportunities to be a blessing and give encouragement?

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/09/07/encouraging-others/

Aug 31

How Goals Help Me Aim for Excellence

I love setting goals. There is something about listing out the things that I want to accomplish on paper that helps me gain perspective on my life. I have been working through some exercises on goal setting in the last several weeks in conjunction with an upcoming review on the 7-Minute Life Planner. This has reminded me how important writing down your goals is to striving toward excellence in life. I have found that if I just keep all those goals and ideas in my head, there is usually not much action taken on them. When I commit them to paper, it is sort of a contract with myself to attempt to meet some of these goals.

When writing the goals down, I have found keeping the acronym SMART in mind also helps me.

S – specific

M – measurable

A – attainable

R – realistic

T – timely

This past week I set the following goals and here is the update on how I progressed. It was rather a busy week for me and I learned some goal-setting lessons that I will share at the end of this post. The goals that were met are marked with the strike through.

Personal:

  • I am going to shoot for being in bed by 10:00 pm with my light out by 10:30 pm. – This was definitely a work in progress. I don’t think I made it to bed but ONE night this week by 10:30.
  • Adding exercise back into my routine, even if it is only a 10 minute stretching routine – This happened about twice this week. I am going to keep it up one baby step at a time.
  • Reading at night before bed. – I didn’t get into bed early enough for this, however I did read in the tub once this week :)
  • Keeping a THM food journal to help me stay on track – This happened thanks to the new goal planner I am using.

Homeschooling:

  • Continue tweaking Luke’s checklist and help keep him on track  – This is working but still taking a lot of encouragement from me. We are using a student logbook that I will share about in an upcoming review.
  • Working in some daily planning time to my routine  – This didn’t happen daily, but I was able to have two larger planning sessions that made me feel very accomplished!
  • Grade and file last week’s work  – Done and I am liking my new system this year. Hoping that I can keep it up for the long haul. My main goal is not to finish out the year with stacks and stacks of loose paper!
  • Keep Lydia’s preschool time each morning and provide activities for her to do during the boys read-aloud time.  I am really enjoying the special time I am having with Lydia each day. It really doesn’t take long and we are just reading good books right now and working through some school readiness books using Sonlight’s P4/P5 curriculum. We are using Get Ready for the Code as well. I gave her some worksheets and educational videos to watch this week when the boys were doing school and she seemed bored with playing alone.
  • Sit in with Drew during some of his Pre-Algebra lessons. – I helped him with some percent and fraction equations that he was struggling with, but I didn’t get to sit in on any of the lectures this week.

Marriage/Mothering:

  • Lunch Date with David this week. –  This didn’t happen.
  • Night time date at home since I don’t have to work at the hospital this week. – This didn’t happen
  • Take the kids swimming. – We didn’t go to a pool together, however Lydia attended a swim party and the boys attended a party where they had an 18-foot water slide, so technically this goal was met:)
  • Go for a walk with the kids. This also didn’t happen. Life got in the way.
  • Try to take advantage of hidden moments to give each child a little bit of one on one attention. – I was able to bake brownies with Luke and take Lydia to a party, just she and I, but I will have to put Drew at the top of the list next week.

After looking over this list of goals from last week, I noticed that making time for David and myself ended up being the things that got put on the back burner. I am going to have to change that. I know that if I let my priorities get out of whack and live in the tyranny of the urgent, I will quickly lose steam. Here are my revised goals for this upcoming week.

Personal:

  • Keep up with my Beth Moore Bible study, Children of the Day, working on it 5 days a week.
  • Exercise three times this week (even 10 minute stretching counts, baby steps here)
  • Shoot for getting to bed by 10:30 at least three nights this week.
  • Read for pleasure at least 30 minutes, three times this week.
  • Take one online class on Project Life/Photoshop Elements that I have been trying to get around to for months (shoot for Tuesday afternoon)

Homeschool:

  • Keep up to date with my record keeping in my homeschool planner.
  • Grade and file all work.
  • Add Math to Lydia’s routine this week.
  • Begin PE with the boys. Two sessions this week because of Labor Day being a vacation day.
  • Evaluate Luke’s progress with Math Facts and create a plan to begin to master them. Determine when multiplication is being introduced in his current math program.
  • Set up Drew’s first photo editing class with Anna.
  • Attend the homeschool group kickoff picnic on Saturday.

Marriage/Mothering:

  • Spend Labor Day with the family at a water park.
  • Birthday party for Drew and my nephew Friday night.
  • Tweak evening routine with the addition of karate back into the schedule this week.
  • Make a special dessert and plan an at home date for Thursday night after the kids are in bed.
  • Take a walk with the kids and the dog on Wednesday.

My first problem that I identified from last week was that I failed to keep the goals in front of me. I do much better if the goals are listed out where I can see them each day. I am planning to print these goals out from this post and keep them in my Bible this week where I will see them each day.

The second problem I identified was not timing the goals. I decided to give specific dates to as many goals as I could this week to see if that would assist me in completing them. I have so many things that I have thought were impossible to accomplish that I now think can be done if I tackle it one baby step at a time. I am going to continue to work through some more goal setting exercises and I will write a post on this in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for letting me share a peek into my life with you. I would love to hear from you what you are working on this week!

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/08/31/how-goals-help-me-aim-for-excellence/

Aug 26

Learning Math Facts with UberSmart – A TOS Review

UberSmart Math Facts Review

I remember the days of being a homeschooled student where the only aids we had to learn math facts were math flashcards. Learning math facts included days of sitting on the front porch swing having someone practice flashcards with me. Flashcards have come a long way since then. Enter UberSmart Math Facts ($24.95 for a family license with free upgrades and support) from UberSmart Software

With a 100% satisfaction guarantee for up to one year from the date of purchase you have nothing to lose when trying this product. There is even a 30-day free trial available along with some free printable math fact worksheets on the website!

About The Programmer

David Kocur, computer programmer, homeschool dad, and creator of UberSmart Math Facts wrote the program after his wife asked him to write something to help his kids learn their math facts. After scouring the internet and finding nothing to his liking, he wrote his own program. After seeing such positive results with his own kids, he decided to market his product to help others.

About the Software

UberSmart Math Facts is based on the concepts of flashcards and timed tests, but with many customizable options. This is geared for grades K-6, but any age that needs math facts reinforcement can utilize this program. This is for Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista only. The program is downloaded directly to your PC and can be registered for up to 8 students with a family license. The clean, streamlined interface is not busy or confusing. There are simple tabs across the top that you click on to enter that learning mode.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

The Learn Tab  – Under this tab, you can choose dot cards for math beginners (example shown above) These domino-like cards can be shown with numbers written on the card or just dots. You begin with 0’s and progress sequentially all the way to 9’s. You can choose the intermediate level from this tab and you get more options, including addition and subtraction up to the 9’s and multiplication and division up to the 12’s. In this mode, a flashcard appears that has a vertical equation without the answer. Click on the show tab and the answer appears.

The Practice Tab – Under this tab, you find options to practice beginner dot cards, keyboard entry and intermediate flashcards. The keyboard entry feature is cool as that is a skill that is assumed in most math programs, but necessary for beginners as it affects their speed and accuracy. Here is an example of the keyboard entry screen. A number is shown and you find it on the keyboard and type it in as quickly as you can. If you are practicing using the intermediate flashcards, an equation is shown and you enter the answer. You are immediately told whether your answer was correct or incorrect and if you do not answer quickly enough, the answer is shown and you are moved to the next card (I believe the timed feature can be turned off).

UberSmart Math Facts ReviewUberSmart Math Facts Review

The Test Tab – This is where you should begin if you are new to this program. I didn’t understand all the ins and outs of this program at the beginning and so we explored this tab later in the process.UberSmart Math Facts Assessment

UberSmart Math Facts Review
The Assessment test was very helpful in giving me feedback on the areas that my students needed work. You are given feedback on each operation with a summary of what your student is proficient in and where he needs more work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mastery tests are to be used when you feel that the student is doing well enough on each table to move to the next number.After mastering all math facts you can print a certificate of excellence for the student.Dot Cards (like adding domino faces)

 

 

 

 

 

The Compete Tab – I worked very little with this tab. I registered myself as a user and attempted to do the competition, but didn’t score high enough to compare with others. LOL! Maybe I need some practice myself.

The Report Tab – Here you can find all sorts of useful information on the progress your student is making.Math Facts Progress Math Facts Reports

 My Opinion of the Software and How We Used It In Our Homeschool

Things I liked -My rising 3rd grader is still working on mastering his math facts. We are really working hard to gain mastery of the addition and subtraction facts before we introduce multiplication in the upcoming months. We were excited to try this program out. I LOVE that this program is not based online, but rather downloaded so you have access for life. This will come in handy for my seventh grader when he needs a brush up now and then. My 4-year old is also starting to begin math this fall as part of her preschool program so she worked with the dot cards for a short time. She was only able to go to the three tables before it became a little frustrating for her. I am planning to just continue using it 2-3 times a week with her, but only using the 0-3 dot cards.

My third grader started out jumping right in and just working from the beginning of the practice and learn tabs. He started with addition at the 0 tables and worked his way to mastery all the way to the three tables. We are still working to move past that level. We will continue to assign this as part of our curriculum this fall for 4 days a week approximately 10 minutes a day. He was able to go through a practice level in five minutes or less. The timed feature of the program is helpful to make sure that your kids are mastering the facts and not just eventually figuring it out. I loved the reports where I could see the progress that he has made over the last several weeks using the program. We took the assessment in the program during the review and I loved the personalized report that it gave me so as a teacher, I could choose the most helpful way to approach the skills my son lacked. This would be an excellent place to start with your student. We also found the progress bar across the bottom of the screen to be helpful to let us know how much we had left before reaching the end of the current session.

Things that could use improvement - The kids would have liked a few game-like features in the program, but I have friends who would purchase this program over others out there because it is NOT like a video game, so depending on your kids, this may be the perfect program for your family since it is more like standard flashcards than a game. I think it would have been helpful if there was a tutorial at the beginning or a You Tube video to help you get started. I dislike reading PDF manuals for instructions.

My son does not particularly like doing any type of math facts review, so his opinion was rather neutral on this product. He did not ask to do them, but if I assigned the program giving him a timer and telling him he needed to work for 10 minutes per session, I didn’t get many complaints. He seems to do better when he realizes that there is an end to the drilling.

If you would like to hear what others think of this program, you can read some other Crew members reviews by clicking on the graphic below.

Click to read Crew ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/08/26/learning-math-facts-with-ubersmart-a-tos-review/

Aug 23

Celebrating the First Week of Routine and Goals for Next Week

fireworksOur First week of back to routine is completed. We had interruptions and we made some wonderful memories. I was able to remind myself in the interruptions that homeschooling is a blessing because of flexibility. The main goals for my week were to help Luke follow a checklist, set aside quality time for Lydia’s preschool work and get up on a schedule. We accomplished all of this! Hallelujah. 

 

I really felt better working on a schedule. This upcoming week is full of lots of projects for me to complete but I am planning to spend some focused time on working on my routines and getting to bed earlier. Here are my goals for the upcoming week as they relate to homeschooling, mothering and my personal life:

Personal:

  • I am going to shoot for being in bed by 10:00 pm with my light out by 10:30 pm.
  • Adding exercise back into my routine, even if it is only a 10 minute stretching routine
  • Reading at night before bed
  • Keeping a THM food journal to help me stay on track

Homeschooling:

  • Continue tweaking Luke’s checklist and help keep him on track
  • Working in some daily planning time to my routine
  • Grade and file last week’s work
  • Keep Lydia’s preschool time each morning and provide activities for her to do during the boys read-aloud time.
  • Sit in with Drew during some of his Pre-Algebra lessons

Marriage/Mothering:

  • Lunch Date with David this week
  • Night time date at home since I don’t have to work at the hospital this week
  • Take the kids swimming
  • Go for a walk with the kids
  • Try to take advantage of hidden moments to give each child a little bit of one on one attention

Ideas for the one on one time include – Making brownies with Luke, finger painting with Lydia and taking Drew to the bookstore or library and reading with him in a quiet place.

What are your goals and plans for this week?

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/08/23/celebrating-the-first-week-of-routine-and-next-weeks-goals/

Aug 21

Happy Kids Songs Download- A TOS Crew Review

Happy Kids Songs Review

With three kids ranging in age from 4-12 in our home, we have been listening to kid’s songs for what seems like forever. When we got the opportunity to review three downloadable albums intended to help teach character and social and emotion growth, Friends & Sharing (Vol. 1), Manners & Character (Vol. 6) and Happiness & Attitude (Vol. 7), from Happy Kids Songs we were glad to change up the music! We found the varied styles of music and the positive character messages in the songs refreshing. We also received the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills to use in our homeschool. 

About the Founder of Happy Kids Songs

Dr. Mac is a child psychologist, song-writer and writer and director of music for the popular PBS hit, Jay Jay the Jet Plane. He has over a hundred songs published to his credit. He has co-authored a book and is Clinical Director of the Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara. He has a team of adult and child singers who formed the chorus on his albums.

About the Products

Happy Kids Songs ReviewHappy Kids Songs ReviewHappy Kids Songs Review

Happy Kids Songs features eight award-winning albums with five songs each. You can download them by the album for $4.95 each or you can download the single songs for $0.99. The songs can be downloaded to your computer and then transferred to an MP3 player or you can burn them to a CD. We chose to play our downloads straight from our computer during chore time and during some downtime during our school day. We completed some of the activities and worksheets as part of music time in our homeschool.

These albums are geared for ages 3-8, but children ages 0-9 are likely to enjoy them.

Friends & Sharing (Vol.1) have the following songs on the album:

Sailing on the Seven Cs
This song shares seven Ingredients of friendship –  caring, consideration, commitment, communication, concern, curiosity, and cooperation.

Everybody Wants to Find a Friend
This song reminds kids that everyone wants a friend and we need to put ourselves out there and just say “hello”

Sharing Friends
This song breaches the common subject of feeling left out in play and how to share your friends and negotiate including others so everyone can play together.

Happy as Happy Can Be
Discovering the joy of friendship

Together

Spending time together and saying goodbye

Manners & Character (Vol. 6)

H-o-n-e-s-t-y
Making the world a better place by practicing honesty

The Magic Word
Please, Can I and May I

Quirks
Appreciating differences in those around us.

The Golden Rule
Doing for others what you would like them to do for you

Six Little Kids
Valuing others perspectives

Happiness & Attitude (Vol. 7)

Shake It Out and Dance
Teaching Kids to try and encouraging them to turn “I can’t” to “I can”

Who Knows What’s a Kudo?
Definition of Kudo and explanations of giving compliments

I Don’t Understand
Deals with the questions of children

Be Good to Yourself
Doing your best, positive self-talk

Better Together

Handling aloneness and enjoying togetherness

Happy Kids Songs Review

 

Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills is 122-page paperback workbook currently available for $12.56. The activities and worksheets in the book are available for download on the Happy Kids Songs website for free, but the benefit of the workbook is having all the lyrics and worksheets in order and in one place. The copyright allows homeschool teachers and classroom teachers permission to print copies for their own family or classroom. The activities are geared for ages 3-8 but the activities we worked with are varied. Some are as simple as matching items that go together.

 

 

 

 

Here is a sample of one page my 4-year-old enjoyed. It went with the song, Happy as Happy Can Be.

.Happy as Happy Can Be

The directions were to match the things that go together.Other activities in the book are more complex.

This particular page below went along with the song, Quirks and was a bit frustrating for my eight year old. The idea was that no two things are just alike. I can’t imagine a three-year old being able to have the coordination to complete this page. There are also several pages that ask you to finish the sentence such as I feel mad when…., one thing that makes me happy is….. I can see these activities completed orally with the suggested age range, but I don’t think kids in the 3-8 range would be comfortable doing this independently.

Happy Songs Quirks

I felt the age range for the workbook should be adjusted or the activities could be ordered by age appropriateness to help the teacher chose well. The first half of the book includes the coloring and activity pages while starting on page 86, the suggested activities begin. There are things like painting friendship cards for sick friends and making friend puppets out of craft sticks to use in role-playing friendship scenarios. These suggestions go with the songs, Sailing on the Seven Seas and Everybody Wants a Friend. Some of the activities are only appropriate in group settings and would be better used in a co-op or classroom setting. An example of this type of group activity in the book is a cooperative learning activity where the entire group of students are asked to get in groups of 3-5 and explore the topic of friendship and create a report on the topic of friendship to present before the entire group.

Happy Kids Songs activity book My Opinion of the Products

I liked the varying rhythms, tempos and musical styles of the music. It was more adult-friendly than some children’s music we have listened to in the past. The kids found themselves singing along as they listened. The positive messages in the song were thought-provoking and generated some good discussions between me and the kids. I think they would make great teaching tools when covering unit studies on topics such as manners, social skills,and responsibility, I can also see classroom teachers appreciating these because of the neutral nature of the content. There is no religious bias inserted into the songs. Personally, I prefer a Christian basis to our music, but we appreciate most styles of music and these songs will have a place in our school day in the future. There are some issues such as honesty that are approached in a purely psychological approach in the music. I would probably insert my religious take on these issues when using the materials to teach those issues. Honesty is encouraged in the lyrics because,

“you can get more freedom and you can get respect, and a little more trust, is just what you’d expect, with a little bit of ….h-o-n-e-s-t-y….You best believe it.

I would insert the fact that honesty is also blessed by God and we strive to become honest in obedience to the commands of God in His Word. I felt these things could easily be adapted by teachers in a Christian school or Christian homeschool setting. Overall, we felt these were quality recordings and could be useful for some families. I don’t think I would purchase the rest of the albums, but we have used and enjoyed the three volumes we received. I also liked the resources in the workbook and will pull from them from time to time when character and social issues come up in my parenting.

If you would like to hear what other bloggers had to say about these products click on the graphic below.

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Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/08/21/happy-kids-songs-download-a-tos-crew-review/

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