Homeschool Show and tell } fractions workbook

I like to open up my homeschool closet to share materials I find helpful in our homeschool journey, it's been a while since I've shared... Of interest to me lately are these nifty Math workbooks by Flashkids.


After a slightly confusing lesson on decimals -for test prep purposes, I went to our local Barnes & Nobles to find some help.  I found these great little flashkids workbooks on fractions, I loved how the workbook walks you through all the ins & outs of fractions in small, incremental steps with lots of practice.  I thought, Eureka! (Ca motto...learning moment, people!) and decided to buy the fractions workbooks and go home and order one on decimals... -which they don't make.  Cue unsmiley face.  I decided to skip that pesky section in the test prep workbook on comparing obscure, tiny decimals...problem solved. :)


So, this handy-dandy fractions activities workbook is small, at a non-threatening 9" x 7" size.  Each page moves you through understanding and using fractions in small non-threatening steps.  It explains what a fraction is, parts of the fraction, comparing sizes, common factors, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.  The only flaw might be the monster theme of the book.  I'm pretty picky when my kids are small, but after 2nd grade and up I don't think it would be a problem.  (unless you really don't want that in your house-which is why I am mentioning it, there are monsters, spiders, witches and vampires represented in silly manner).

This particular workbook is labeled 3rd grade - but we are using Math-U-See and my boys will not tackle fractions in that program till next school year, so for me, grade levels are kind of meaningless in Math.

This is a nice, simple workbook series that is great for test prep or introducing new concepts. Thumbs up :)

}I am linking up over at Learning ALL the time's Favorite resource this week. Click over to find some other great learning finds!

Favorite Resource This Week

*disclaimer: a totally spontaneous review of an item I purchased myself.

homeschool soup

So much of what I do is pieced together.  I would love to be able to say that we've used such-n-such curriculum for so many years.  I'd love the safe feeling of having one curriculum to fulfill all our needs; one program to follow year after year-insuring no learning gaps.

I'd love to be that together.  Okay, I'd love to seem that together.  But I'm not. {obviously}

What I am, it seems, is eclectic.  And meandering.
And rambling. 

I was contemplating the other day on how my homeschool life seems to be one of making homeschool soup.  We use a bit of this, a bit of that,  the recipe this year might taste great, but next year I will change it up a bit.

We just started using Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer for writing with the 3 Littles and for Josie.  This is week 2 and I'm loving it, still.  That 's a good sign, right?

I love the philosophy behind her method, I love that she is a college writing professor, beside homeschool mom- and that she obviously knows what she is writing about.  I love that the directions are in the front of the book, and I can tear out worksheets at the back.  -remember my worksheet lust?

A review will be forthcoming, after I've used it a few weeks, promise. :)

Here are a few other stand-outs in our years of making homeschool soup:

  • Five in a Row.  -gentle.  If you are starting out with littles, I encourage you- do this, a smidgen of Math and that is all!

  • Headsprout phonics -online!  Because I am too tired/bored to teach phonics. again. -and my boys won't sit still.

  • Growing with Grammar - I was a diagramming fool in Jr. High. Diagramming makes me happy and squishy inside. -nerd much??

  • Math U See.  the lesson each week is on video.  Each week is predictable, we do a page a day and then a test. :)

  • Sonlight.  -this has made homeschooling my elders much simpler. I love the books.  The lack of worksheets brings me seriously down, tho.  -I tweak, I stir, it comes out good...

**give it a stir...

{soup's on!}
What are some of your very favorite materials? 

HeadSprout Phonics- My other homeschool secret weapon

Headsprout Phonics Review-

Headsprouts Early reading program is an online phonics program designed to teach your child to read, in a fun-interactive manner without a lot of teacher (mom) input.
Yeah! -A phonics program for the mom who has already taught phonics 3 times now...the slightly overwhelmed mom/the tired mom/the A.D.D. mom/the mom who is tired of tying her boys to the chair to do phonics... or who is teaching 5 kids and is having trouble staying consistent with the whole phonics instruction-thing.


My Homeschool Secret-Weapon #2 is:
Delegate what you can. And, electronic/computer delegation counts, too.

Headsprout will take your child from the very beginning of learning-to-read; basic letter sounds,- to reading at a solid 2nd grade level once he has gone through all 80 lessons. Headsprouts is phonics-based, but also has quite a bit of sight-word learning. Each lesson ranges from 15 to 20 minutes long and features great animation and different game type activities as the child progresses. Each lesson has a variety of matching sounds by sight, listening to the sounds said out-loud, point and clicking on the correct answer, and prompts for the child to say the sound. The lessons are individualized for the child and adapt to the child's learning progress during each lesson.

There are times when the child will be prompted to go get an adult for a section so the child can read out loud. (just in case you were in the other room wrangling kidlets, cleaning up after the dog, or telling someone how to find the area of a triangle...)

This program is pricey, but you get discounts for extra kids. I am not saying that you cannot teach phonics with a simple program...just that for kids that can't sit still, or for moms that have done this too many times, Headsprouts could be the answer.

For me, it was sooo worth it.

With your subscription, you get a packet containing a map-poster with stickers to track your child's progress. (Mine loved the map) ..the map also alerts you to days you need to get a booklet out for extra practice - the program will also email you to alert you of this. -A.D.D. mom loved this!
You also get a set of booklets for reading practice and a certificate for when your child finishes the program. Extra reading comes in the form of booklets and flaschcards you print off your computer..again, you will be emailed and prompted at the end of the lesson. These printable booklets are useful for coloring fun, too.

I appreciated the visual and auditory training for blending this program gave. I also liked how the later lessons left the game-style behind, and presented book pages- highlighting the sentences they were working on, and once finishing the passage, asking comprehension questions. The comprehension questions were usually in the form of a picture, read the sentence and choose the right picture to go with it. Once the correct answer was chosen, the child was rewarded with an animated story.

After each lesson, you get an email detailing progress made that day, what booklets the child can read for practice, and very detailed information about which sounds/blends were covered. I found this part very, very helpful for my record-keeping needs for my charter school program.

Cons: * price. Still worth it to me. *student has to start at beginning of program. This could be a problem if your child is reading some, already. When we started, Demi-Sky was already reading at almost a 1st grade level. I decided to go with it, and I could see the need to start at the beginning, because Headsprout teaches sounds with a different sequence then the other programs I have used...many things were too easy for him, but there was also some new sound patterns he didn't know. *The types of games over time would become predictable. The program did a good job of mixing things up, though. Blocks of lessons involved different 'worlds' and different characters, so as things became too repetitive, the 'world' usually changed.
*no teaching of phonics 'rules'. No, 'magic e' or 'when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking' sort of rules to remember. Learning seemed to happen from repetition, sight recognition and practice. I do think to get a good, rounded experience that will produce a great speller, you are going to need to add on a program like Explode the Code or All about Spelling. -Not necessarily at the same time. I took 3 children through this program, 2 landed at a solid 2nd grade reading level- and this with no outside program. (My 3rd student has an auditory processing disorder, so his progress is a whole 'nother playing field)

I whole-heartedly recommend this program. It's very, very well done and can take the pressure off of a struggling student and/or a struggling mom. It's fun, gives a good mix of visual and auditory learning and the animation is top-notch.

Headsprouts has just unveiled a new reading comprehension program for grades 3 through 5, which will be Available Jan. 11, 2009. It looks like another winner, and I am giving it serious consideration.

this is an unsolicited, non-compensated review of a program I purchased myself. :)

Homeschool Week report-first try

There is a group of dedicated homeschool moms who participate in a
weekly Homeschool report on their blogs. (You can follow the link to Trivium Academy's blog and see a list there. I've always wanted to do it, but I am just not all that together- usually.

Here is my offering, a few days late- they seem to do theirs on Fridays. It has taken me a good chunk of time to this might be the first of reports few and far between. I have found some good curricula finds, and some good homeschool hints while visiting these reports- it's really a worthwhile thing, if you can find the time!

(this is the first part of 2, the second half showing the work of the older students can be found *here*)

Our Homeschool Week, Oct. 5-10

All Together: We covered week 11 in our Tapestry of Grace Curriculum Guide, which centered on Ancient China. I read aloud The Great Wall of China, You are in Ancient China,
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China, You wouldn't want to work on the Great wall..,and
Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior.
We did map-work from The Story of the World Vol. 1 Activity Guide and a coloring page of the Great Wall from the same guide. The younger 3 students (ages 6, 8 & 8) completed a literature worksheet from TOG for Yeh-Shen, and the older 2 students (ages 11 & 13) completed a TOG literature worksheet for Fa Mulan. We also rented a dvd: China Rises: Behind the Great Wall (disk #2) from Netflix. I have to say that this dvd was awesome! It was footage of the wall (which I wanted my students to see how enormous it was, to get a feel for the scale of it), interwoven with a really well done dramatization of the events that prompted the building of the wall, the politics behind it and the daily building of it.

For Science, we started week 1 of Noeo Science- Physics 2 course. I read to the kids from Mysteries and Marvels of Science and The Usborne Science Encylopedia- the subject is "energy". My youngest students drew a picture of a form of energy demonstrated (they drew: a bike, a match and coal) and then labeled it with the correct form of energy (potential, kinetic, ect.). Amie copied down the law of conservation of energy, Demi and Teddy wrote this and also the actual definition. Josie and Meg did all this plus wrote all the forms of energy and wrote a paragraph explaining the action and energy chain happening. Sky is scheduled to do 2 experiments with them next week.

*Greek/Latin root word study: we are using English from the roots up vol. 1. This week we reviewed the word 'Photos' from last week and added the word "graph".

The younger students (Amie-6, Demi-8 and Teddy-8)

Math (Math-U-See)

Amie (Alpha Level) concluded lesson 12 with a test and then began lesson 13 by viewing the lesson on dvd and completing 4 practice/review pages for that chapter.
Demi (Beta Level)concluded lesson 11 with a test and viewed chapter 12 and completed 4 practice/review pages.
Teddy (Beta Level) viewed lesson 11 and completed 3 pages for that chapter. He struggled with one concept and we had to use one lesson-day correcting a page and re-doing it.

All 3 did a few pages from Abeka Cursive writing book, and a few pages from Abeka's number writing tablet.

All 3 did several lessons from HeadSprout phonics, which is a program done online.

Teddy has a tutor who comes to work with him for 1 and 1/2hr. two of the days he is here, and also on Wednesdays at his house. On those 2 days I often lighten up on his work.

Here are some pics of some of the kid's work if you are curious.

The younger students' work

Homeschool week report- part 2

This is the second half of my week's report, for the week of Oct. 5-10th.
go *here to see the first part, which includes work all the children did together and the work of the youngest 3.

The older students (Josie-11 and Meg-13):

*Math-U-See: Josie finished up a 2 page unit test for lessons 1 thru 20. She then finished up lesson 21 by completing 2 review pages and then the test.
Meg finished up lesson 18 by completing the test. She then watched lesson 19 on DVD, and then completed 3 practice pages for that lesson. Both girls also work from Daily Math Practice workbooks, each day they are given 5 problems that review different types of math problems, these are helpful to use because the Math-U-See focus on one main theme each level, for instance Meg's level focuses on fractions. Josie also completes notebook pages each day covering 2 times tables written twice. (she has trouble sticking these facts in her mind, so this is the solution we came up with.)

*Growing with Grammar: Josie is working out of book 3 and covered lessons 2.19-2.22 plus the 4 page chapter 2 review. Meg is working out of book 5 and covered lessons 3.2 - 3.6. Some of the subjects covered included; direct objects, linking verbs, predicate nouns and included diagramming sentences.

*Handwriting- Josie completed several cursive pages from Abeka, Meg doesn't have any yet- I am looking at Spelling Wisdom dictation for her...we'll see.


Beside the history we all did together from our TOG assignments, Josie was also assigned
Life in Ancient China. Meg was assigned The Ancient Chinese. Both Meg and Josie were assigned Why Snails have shells and had a literature worksheet for 2 of the stories from this book. Meg was also assigned the section on Chinese religions in The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Religions.

*Writing, for a combination writing/History assignment, Josie and Meg were assigned a short 1 page report on a Chinese invention of their choice. Meg chose paper, Josie chose gunpowder. Our subject had gone over into the next Monday and Tuesday- just lots to cover, so their report will not be due until Tuesday.

I think that covers it...I'm sure I forgot something! The kids also have outside activities and classes such as skateboarding, Irish dance, art, and music lessons. (I'm going to pass on covering all that here, my head is spinning!)

here is a slide show of some of their work samples, enjoy!

Schooling- the older students

a book is an adventure

Flipping through my Tapestry of Grace curriculum guide, I noticed that we would be coming up on The Odyssey in a few weeks. I am very much looking forward to this, and I already had planned on checking the library for The Adventures of Odysseus by Barefoot Books- to read with my 3 youngest students. If they didn't have it, I was going to purchase it, because it just looks beautiful. This week at the library I stumbled upon it and checked it out, what serendipity!

Demi-Sky pounced on it, curling up with it the other day- and he asked me to read to him the page about the sirens, wondering what the bird-like creatures with women's heads were.

I have to tell you that this book is a simplified re-telling of The Odyssey for children. I studied The Odyssey in a High School AP class, years ago- but frankly, we rarely had time to actually read the works we studied- I was lucky if we read one of the stories (I can't remember), most likely we outlined it and discussed major themes and literature types and importance.

I sat down with Demi, Sky was in the room listening, and read this aloud;

...."The shimmering song began. I begged my crew to change their course. I threatened them and cursed them but they were deaf to my pleas....

....As for me, I could see nothing. I could only hear a song so searingly beautiful I nearly lost all reason.

In the song I heard so many sounds: the beating of a swan's wings, the hiss and drag of the sea on sand, the moan of the wind as it blows across the broad face of the world, the rythm of the passage of the seasons, my wife singing-and all the sounds I heard were in harmony. For those few moments I heard the Song of the Spheres. Ever since then, all music has been clatter to me; the sound of a shield as it falls on a cobblestone floor."

I began to choke up, and I looked at Sky and said, "dang, if this is a simplified paraphrase, I have to read the real thing now!" (-I know, I'm profound and poetic, aren't I? Just keeping it real, bloggy friends...)

just wow.
go get this book! You can buy it at the Chinaberry catalog here* or from any other bookseller.
The illustrations are beautiful.

word hog

Time for Homeschool Show and Tell! We just started a nifty program called
English from the Roots Up. This program teaches Greek and Latin vocabulary words pretty painlessly. All you need is the book, index cards,and a box to put your index cards in, but you can also purchase the pre-made word cards. I purchased just 1 set of the pre-made cards for my older kids to use as a model, I actually wanted them to make their own cards, I strongly believe that the process of making them and writing them will help them learn them.

Here is a photo of the cards I started Sunday night. I used a smaller card as a template for the borders. The red borders are for the Latin words, the green for the Greek words. I wrote the first word on the cards, and left the back blank for the 2 older students. For the 3 young students (ages 6, 8 and 8) I wrote the derivatives on the card since my handwriting is neater and you have to write small, I had them print the definition themselves during our lesson.

For the lesson, I used a whiteboard to write the word and defintion, gave the definition and talked about the derivatives and their meanings. It took a few minutes, tops.

We did the word "photos" for this week. I am toying with the thought of doing two words a week, since it was so simple and easy...but I'm not sure if it would be too much for the 3 littles, I want them to actually 'retain' the info, kwim? We will be starting Latin next week, so I don't want to throw too much at them. I do think the two older girls (ages 11 and 13 ) could easily handle two words a week.

This program is really easy to use, and the instructors book is very informative and lays out each lesson in a concise, easy -to- follow way.

This one is a definite keeper!

Growing with Grammar-Show and tell

Here's a new homeschool show and tell, I haven't done one in a while... I thought I would share a program I started using mid-year and really, really like.

Growing with Grammar is a gentle, no-frills program that is designed to be used independently by your students. I love, love, love this fact. I am homeschooling 5 kids...I just can't be all things to all people, and I only have so much time in the day to teach 'one on one'.

I ordered this for my two older students last year, in the middle of the year when Josie was in 5th grade and Meg in 7th. Each lesson is presented in the Student Manual, and is written expressly for the student- not scripted for mom. The lessons are very clear, to the point, and gentle. For each lesson presented in the student manual, there is a corresponding lesson in the student workbook. For grammar now, my students grab both books and get to work, I have a small answer key on a shelf. No more teacher book with test key, answer key, oral work, flashcards and student workbook. Whew! Too many parts wore me out when trying to use other programs.
Growing with Grammar is clear and basic grammar and does teach diagramming. The web-site has a thorough listing of subjects covered for each level and great sample pages you can click- on. The student book is spiral bound on the top, for ease of use for left-handed students.
The work pages are just the right length and when a subject is reviewed, the page is given so the student can check the manual if needed.

This program is a definite keeper in our homeschool. I will be starting my younger 3 students on it mid-year this year after finishing up First Language lessons, which is a very gentle- mostly verbal grammar.