Thursday, May 24, 2018

Home School Navigator REVIEW

Home School Navigator
We've been busy with quite a few reviews lately but it's hard to pass up the opportunity to review a curriculum that can meet your children where they are at and help them along.  Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum by Home School Navigator is a comprehensive curriculum for your language arts needs in grades K - 5.  It is even recommended for upper grades if you have struggling learners who need to fill in some gaps.  It is available as an annual digital subscription so internet access is necessary.

Little Bug working on one of her worksheets

I received a one-year subscription for my K5 and 8th-grade children.  My 8th grader is a struggling learner and battles mild dyslexia and dysgraphia so I was hoping to use the writing aspects of the program for him.  I really LOVE that there are actually NO grade levels!  That's right.  The levels are color-coded to skill level.  You can check out their scope and sequence to see what level your child might use.

What you get with your subscription
36 wks instruction, teaching guides, handouts with answer keys, review games,
word study, vocabulary, interactive book studies, and video library

Another great thing about this reading success curriculum is that you have your schedule laid out for you.  The included teaching guides show you what is covered each month and then it is broken down by week and day.  There is even a page that shows what handouts are needed each week at whatever level you are currently using.  The schedule includes a materials list for each day.  Each daily teaching guide has activities that include, for example, a read aloud, literature/composition, writing, grammar, phonics/word study/vocabulary, print work, and independent reading.  There are other activities depending on the level you are at and what day you are completing.  You do not have to complete all the activities.  That is the great thing about this curriculum.  They lay out the work and you can choose to complete all of it or just some of it.  There are even "catch up" days included throughout the program because we all know that "life" happens!  Their heart is to create an atmosphere of lifelong learning in our children.

Yearly schedule

I absolutely LOVE this from their blog:
4 .   Don’t stress the small stuff!  If the child has to concentrate very hard with the correct way to hold a pencil as in the case where the child has been diagnosed with ADHD, certain sensory disorders, or if the child is dyslexic, don’t force the issue!   Let’s face it, when most kids go off into the “real world” they are not likely to grab a pencil and start jotting down their memoir.  Allow them to use a computer and word process their work or allow them to use voice-to-text software for the rough draft portion of writing.  This is NOT cheating!  This is helping the child find his or her voice in the form of written text.
1. Encourage!  Writing does not have to be a threatening, grammar drilling, diagramming nightmare.  Try to establish it into your daily routine.  Keep it simple.  Try unjournaling.  What is unjournaling, you might ask?  It is a series of writing prompts that are not threatening, but instead, require creativity and perhaps some artwork.  These short prompts should not take more than 10 minutes to implement and are generally more engaging for the child. They invite the child’s response. 

Sample portion of lesson links from RED level

Sample link from red level with links to online book and video for the day

A typical day for Little Bug might go something like this:

  • read a read aloud book like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"
  • watch a video of the above book being read to you (all links included in curriculum)
  • work on "writer's notebook" (since Bug is not writing sentences yet she just draws pictures) - there is also a nice intro video on this and how to use it.
  • work on phonics like finding objects around the house that begin with certain letter sounds
  • practice writing her name (she already knows how to do this but it helps her with her writing practice too)
  • work on nursery rhyme extension (an extra activity where she watched a video on "Little Miss Muffet" and then worked on a handout where we cut out sentences from the rhyme and she had to put the sentences back in order)
She is enjoying the activities and it doesn't seem like school to her.  She loves when she gets to cut and paste and of course watching videos is always fun.  It really helps that she just plain loves books so language arts sits well with her.  As you progress through your assignments you can simply mark them as completed or use the option to upload (64 Mb max) them to a private server (included in your subscription) so you can download them at the end of the year as your portfolio of completed work for record keeping purposes.  I did not upload our assignments, I simply marked them as being completed.

Little Bug on cut and paste with like sounds

I used the Indigo level with my 8th-grade son to try to pick up some skills he was lacking in or basically needed practice with.  Writing is always such a struggle for him so we focused on that and working on the word roots to help him with his vocabulary.  Even though he has mild dyslexia, he reads just fine now (though it wasn't always like that!).  For the reading portion of his level, there was a list of books needed for the month which is nice if you need to find the book or check it out from your local library.  Of course these days so many books are available to read for free on the internet.  I am really happy with the word root and vocabulary portions that we are using for him.  We have done some of the reading comprehension with him since this is also a skill he needs to work on.

Cut and paste from Indigo level when learning root word "PED"

The basic flow of work between levels (Red for Bug and Indigo for 8th grader) is about the same.  They both include read aloud, literature/comprehension, and writing/grammar.  Bug's red level focuses on phonics while the indigo level works more on formal grammar, root word, and vocabulary work.  It also introduces computer skills.  They have a really cool tool called Finding "Just Right" Books that helps you to select just the right book for your child.  One that is not too easy or too hard but just the right level of challenge.

Finding "Just Right" books

The only challenge we had was that some of the videos that were recorded were hard to hear, but they have been replacing them with updated videos.  There is also a LOT of printing involved, but you can also choose not to print everything.  Many activities can just be completed from the computer screen.  The creators of the program are always open to improving the program to meet the needs of homeschoolers and I really like that.  They were also always very receptive to any concerns or suggestions we had as reviewers.  Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum is definitely worth checking out and considering if you are looking for a fairly well-rounded language arts program that covers a lot of ground.  I would recommend it especially if you are wanting to fill in any missing gaps.
Home School Navigator
You can connect with Home School Navigator on FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.

Another aspect of the program that we didn't use was the Interactive Notebooks.  Rather than answering a ton of boring questions about a book they are interactive in that your student will cut out shapes and paste flaps down and write answers in underneath, or draw, or cut out tabs and sort the answer out. This alone is a good reason to be sure to check out the reviews from my fellow Crew members to learn what they have to say about this program.

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Reformed Free Publishing REVIEW

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
I've said it so many times lately, but we just LOVE books!  Little Bug can't get enough of them so of course, we said "YES" to the chance to review T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association.  I received a 32-page hardback copy of the book.  It is recommended for ages 3-6 and I think this is a good suggestion.  My K5 Little Bug really liked it.  The pages are thick, slightly glossy and very colorful and nice quality.

This is an ABC book that takes a page for each letter of the alphabet to introduce a word, a nice rhyme, and an appropriate scripture from the King James Bible version.  I really liked the set up of this book.  It has the key elements I love to have in my early education readers.  The littles get to learn their alphabet while increasing their vocabulary, learning rhymes, and getting a good dose of scripture.

Each page has a letter, vocabulary word, rhyme, and scripture

Of course, Little Bug already knows her alphabet but she enjoyed listening to the rhymes and she is really picking up on the scriptures.  She has started recognizing some of them even from other books she reads and our bible studies.  The artwork is catchy and helps to keep her attention on the page and listening.  It's another win and addition to her nighttime bible reading.

We read the book together and I think her favorite page is S for Stars.  She has always been fascinated with the sky and stars. I can't say enough how I appreciate that scripture is incorporated into each page.  This is just a delightful book that is a perfect Christian children's ABC book that not only introduces the alphabet but also God's word.  The addition of the rhyming is a bonus.

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
Sample Page

I love the publisher's desire to instill God's word and truths into our little ones.  They believe that we are saved through faith alone and that it is by God's grace that we are granted salvation (not by our works).  The author, Connie L. Meyer, is also the illustrator of her book. The illustrations are wonderful throughout the entire book. She is a 1982 graduate of Calvin College and attends Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Michigan.  She has written many other Christian children's books and articles and even a three-volume Christian art curriculum series.

Since Little Bug already knows her ABCs we just read this like a book.  I can see just reading a page a day if you have littles that need to learn their letters.  Even reading a page a week while you work on the "letter of the week" would be a nice option.  I will probably use this more this fall with Little Bug when we work on more language arts and rhyming and of course as a great addition to our bible studies and studying the word.

Reformed Free Publishing Association

You can connect with the Reformed Free Publishing Association on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.  We give T is for Tree: A Bible ABC a thumbs up for being a great resource that not only teaches the alphabet but rhyming and God's word too!

Please be sure to check out the other reviews by clicking on the graphic below!

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 21, 2018

Garden Update Part 1

I am so behind on garden updates!  We upgraded this year and have been putting in some composite beds.  I found some REALLY nice deals online.  The wood from the old beds was rotting pretty badly,  We decided to combine several 4' X 4' beds to eliminate a lot of extra aisle space and get more planting space.  One bed is 4' X 20'.  We really like that one.

As we continue to try to improve things we also realized that my trellises now need to go back to the middle of the bed.  Especially in the 20' bed!  Otherwise, you cannot reach around it well enough to finish planting or taking care of the section it is in.  I think we will also upgrade that to cattle panel next year.

The garden is coming along pretty well although I do not have everything planted yet! I still have some seeds to get in so hopefully, that will happen this week.  I will probably add at least 2 more installments to this series to update the garden happenings.  In the above picture, we had just installed the new beds, filled them with nice rich chicken poop compost, and weeded most of the beds.

What are your garden plans this year?  Do you have everything planted yet?

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