As my kids get older they are enjoying more chapter books and longer read alouds. They can sit through books without pictures so that opens up a whole new world of possibilities! I've created a list of books that we hope to try to read this year (or possibly next year or even the year after....). This is my wishlist of books that have been recommended to me. I've personally not read most of the books on this list so I'm excited to venture out and try some new holiday reads.
This year was my second on the Review Crew and it was an amazing year! I had the chance to try many things that were already on my wishlist as well as products that I had never heard of before my time on the Crew. Now that the year is over we have a few Crew products that are still in use and have become staples of our homeschool day!
Here's my list:
Apologia Zoology - There are things that I love about Apologia science and things I really dislike. I always tell people I have a love/hate relationship with these books. I love the creation-based science and the way each topic is covered in depth. But I really dislike how wordy the chapters can be, how involved all the projects are, and how it is difficult to schedule the readings. But I'm making this text work for me!
We read through a section or two of the book every day. Curly creates a notebook page while I read to her. She draws a picture of the topic for that day and then she narrates a few sentences to summarize what she learned. I write her sentences on the bottom of her page and then clip it into her science notebook. That's it! This book is a read aloud at our house. I don't do any of the experiments and we don't do any of the extras. We keep it very simple and use another science as our main program so that we don't feel too burnt out studying only one topic each year. We also don't follow their schedule as we would suffer from information overload trying to get through multiple sections per day.
Song School Spanish - This was a program that was on my wish list. Curly has really wanted to learn Spanish but I wanted a gentle introduction that was easy to use and fun. This program fit the bill! My kids really enjoy the songs - all my kids, not just Curly. And Curly has learned lots of vocabulary and some simple grammar concepts. I only wish there was a 2nd level out!!
We've been doing about 2 or 3 lessons per week and listening to the songs in the car. Once Curly finishes the entire book I'm going to start the book again but with Tiger and Bee. We'll cover 1 lesson per week as they learn the vocabulary that Curly knows. Then we can all practice the words and songs together!
See the Light Art - I love art and I love when my kids work on art independently! Therefore, I love art DVD's! I had heard about these from a friend and wanted to try the program. I was thrilled that they were part of the Crew. We reviewed one of the Bible lesson DVD's and my kids loved, loved, loved it! Then I won another Bible story art DVD from another blogger and we loved that one as well. Now I'm going to have to order the rest of them!
My kids love the lessons and have done them more than once. The chalk pastel lessons are a favorite and my 3 older kids can all participate and follow the directions. They all (the toddler included) love to watch the Bible story portion where the artist illustrates the Bible story in a beautiful pastel drawing. I have to admit, the artwork they've created with this program has been wonderful! After we complete all the Bible story DVD's I think we'll try one of their other programs.
Math Mammoth - I've been using this program off and on for a while now - as a supplement to our regular math program. I love how simple it is to use - you just print the pages you need and the instructions are included on the page. There is not teacher manual or additional things to buy. My kids enjoy the short lessons and the extra practice has proved very helpful for them. This is a program I plan to keep using alongside our main math program. I have seen my kids increase their math computation speed because of this program. They've also been able to work on math independently and solve puzzle-type problems through the lessons. I love that the program teaches them the "why" behind the math and then challenges them to put the concepts they have learned into practice through practice, word problems, and puzzle problems.
Birdcage Press - We enjoyed our game from Birdcage Press. The Art Ditto has beautiful pictures and my kids love looking at all the art and talking about the various artists. This is a game that they even play on their own. I'm excited that they are starting to recognize the work of different artists through exposure because of this game. I plan to use some of their other beautiful art games and to purchase some of their books.
Baker Publishing - Curly enjoyed her books about Lily Lap. She's read through her books multiple times and she wants the rest of the books in the series. She enjoyed her first introduction to the Amish lifestyle and she found the books fun and interesting. I can't wait until Bee is ready to read them.
Homeschool Spanish Academy - After our trial period ended we signed up for a full semester of Spanish classes through Homeschool Spanish Academy. Curly had a class with her instructor once a week for 16 weeks. Each week they worked on new vocabulary; she taught Curly grammar concepts; and they conversed in a mixture of Spanish and English. Curly has grown in her confidence to try Spanish words and phrases and she is excited about learning the language. I found her instructor to be so patient and encouraging. I love that she can interact with a native Spanish-speaker each week.
Logic of English - I had heard about Logic of English but had not looked into the program much because I thought we had everything we needed for language arts. I'm thrilled that we got to review the Foundations Level A program because I discovered that we love it! It was perfect for Bee who knows her letters but did not yet know her letter sounds. Through the program she has learned the letter sounds, started blending them to read short words, and learned how to write in cursive. The program focuses on phonics as the student learns to blend and listen for letter sounds. It also has wonderful ideas for active learning and games. Plus the books and workbooks are so colorful and cheerful. I absolutely love this program!
Bee works on about 1 lesson per week. We move very slowly and do lots of review. I don't want to rush her; I want her to have a solid foundation. And because Tiger has been struggling I started him with the program and I have seen a marked difference in his ability to remember letter sounds and decode words. He usually completes 2 lessons per week but the review has been great for him. I also love how cursive is taught and my kids now have amazing cursive writing. I loved it so much that I bought the handwriting book for Curly so now all of my kids are learning cursive.
Flip Flop Spanish - Do we really need another Spanish resource? We're already using two others but we haven't quit this Spanish resource because we really enjoy it. Curly loves the cards that she flips over to learn the vocabulary. I love that all instructions are on audio so I don't have to do any real teaching. We just hit play and follow the lesson instructions. Curly has received great practice with vocabulary and sentence building through this program. I have found it to be very easy to use and I love that Curly can do the lessons on her own if I'm not able to sit with her.
Vocabulary Spelling City - Spelling is not Curly's favorite subject right now and she needs lots of spelling practice to remember her words. So, as added drill we have continued to use Spelling City to allow her to practice her words. She works on the program a few days a week, completing the assignments that I have assigned to her through the parent portion of the program. I created word lists based on our curriculum and she works on one list per week to line up with our spelling program. She completes the games and activities and I've seen a huge improvement in her spelling tests. She is know applying the spelling rules during other subjects outside of spelling time and she's remembering her words much much better. I love that Curly can work on this program on her own and that I can have everything set up and assigned to her before she logs in.
Punkin is now 1!! (Her birthday was in November but I didn't quite get around to posting then....)
Punkin is our petite little person who is crawling, cruising, and cuddly. She loves her "Da Da" and prefers to be carried. She might be a little bit spoiled as she expects her siblings to entertain her and bring her toys. However, she's an all around cheerful girl who lives in jammies and refuses to wear socks. Happy Birthday to Punkin!
Happy Birthday Tiger! Tiger just turned 6!
I still can't believe he's in Kindergarten. He's the only boy in our girl-dominated crew and he makes himself heard. He is loud and wild and crazy but always very sweet and helpful. He has selective hearing (just like his dad) and loves anything that he can build, destroy, create, or use for fighting. He loves to run, jump, kick, climb, and play. Happy Birthday to my little man!
Happy Birthday Curly! Curly is now 8!
I'm having a hard time believing that my little girl is so big! Curly is the drama queen, the bossy one, the thinking bookworm, the organized planner, the helper, the craft maker, and the "other mother" at our house. Curly is always willing to help me and she's quite the caretaker. She's usually the brains behind any crazy or creative project that the kids put together. She's my daydreamer with a huge imagination. Happy Birthday to my biggest girl! And she had another surprise on her birthday - a visit from the tooth fairy! She lost yet another tooth on her birthday!