Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Senior Citizen Coop

External shot of progress

Cedric's retirement home is coming along.  If you missed it, Cedric is our crippled rooster.  He is one of our original crew when we started chickens 3 1/2 years ago.  He is a good boy and a good rooster.  Most of all he is my son's pet so culling him is not an option right now.  He injured his leg a little over a year ago (or more?) and just never really recovered.  He gimps pretty bad but still manages to get around.  Jumping in and out of our current coop is really wearing on him and he just really isn't producing many fertile eggs these days. 

Internal shot looking out towards nesting boxes

Back of coop and roost

Wonderful nesting boxes

This coop will allow him a smaller area to move around and hopefully not so high to get in and out of the coop.  Closer to the ground would have been perfect but then there would be no shelter so it was a toss up.  We went with creating a shelter under the coop as low as possible.  I think it will be a little better.  He doesn't really walk up and down the ramps well so he chooses to hop/jump in and out which can be pretty stressful to him.   We'll put some hens in with him so he won't be lonely and can still be a rooster, just on a smaller scale.

Loving these egg boxes

We have had schedule and weather challenges with more rain coming in the next few days.  Hopefully we can get it completed by this weekend.  We shall see.  I really need to start moving some of the chickens around.  We are overpopulated in roosters again due to the upcoming babies and juveniles.  Three of the ones we hatched are probably all roosters, now it looks like about 2 of the 3 that we got for momma #2  will be roosters, and of course we now know Sir Galahad is also a roo.  Oh my!!  That gives us a total of 8 roosters!!  Definitely not gonna work!  One of our hatch babies, Kristoff, is an absolute sweety and my buddy so I will find a way to keep him.

BRIGHT neon type green, oh my!

It's coming along slowly but surely

We still have Sweet Pea whom I intend to make our main rooster in the big coop and run if he will behave himself.  He has lived in the mini coop for so long with such little interaction with me I am nto sure how he will behave when he gets out.  Another of the hatch babies, Olaf, is so big and beautiful I would love to see him help Sweet Pea in the main coop if they can get along?  I will prob put Kristoff and his brother/sister (not sure if roo or hen yet), in with Cedric in hopes that might possibly work because Kristoff is so docile righ now.

As usual, never a dull moment in the chicken yard and always lots to do.  Will have more updates coming when we complete this project.  May you be richly blessed and enjoy your day.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

No-Nonsense Algebra REVIEW

No-Nonsense Algebra
It seems you can never get too much help in the math department so when I had the chance to review No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials, I jumped at the chance.  My 8th grader is set to start Algebra this fall.  I took Algebra when I was in 8th grade and it dawned on me that this is a year ahead of time!  Oh no, I thought I messed up but his current math program covers pre-algebra for his 7th grade math so we should be okay.  Also, now that I know we have this book available to us we will be just fine. The author, Richard W. Fisher is an award-winning math teacher with a proven system that produces fantastic results.

The current math program we are using has short videos as the lesson and No-Nonsense Algebra is much the same.  It is basically a textbook (not a workbook) that has 10 chapters of lessons that include:
  • Necessary Tools for Algebra
  • Solving Equations
  • Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
  • Solving and Graphing Inequalities
  • Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  • Polynomials
  • Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
  • Radical Expressions and Geometry
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Algebra Word Problems
The lessons begin with an introduction that includes helpful hints on the subject followed by examples and then some practice problems. Each chapter ends with a review section to help solidify what was learned.  Almost every topic has a corresponding video lesson to also teach the concept (there is supposed to be a video for every lesson but we found a few to be missing). The FREE videos are accessed online with an access code that is given to you when you purchase the book.  There is a final review (comprehensive test) at the end of the book as well as answers to all the problems, a glossary, important formulas, important symbols, and various other helps (multiplication table, commonly used prime numbers, squared and square roots, and fraction/decimal equivalents).

Math Essentials Final Cut from Richard Fisher on Vimeo.

The approach taken is a systematic approach that allows the teaching to flow from one concept to the next in a very logical sequence. This book can be used in various ways.  It can be your sole stand alone program or you can use it as a supplement to a program you are already using or even as a review text to be sure that your student has mastered all of the algebra concepts.

Since we have a current program that works well with my son we chose to use this as a supplement and a review for concepts he has already learned in pre-algebra.  Our current homeschool schedule for summer is 3 days a week and this has worked well in working through this text.  He likes that the video lessons are fairly short (approximately 10 min each - some a little shorter some a minute or two longer) and that the lessons include helpful hints.  I was even able to use some of the helpful hint concepts with a 7th grader I homeschool and they were helpful for her.  The entire first chapter is dedicated to reviewing pre-algebra concepts so it has been a good review for my son.

Sample snip from a video lesson

We plan to continue using this as a supplemental text as he moves on to Algebra in a few weeks.  I would definitely recommend this book for anyone needing a quick review of pre-algebra concepts, needing to solidify their Algebra or even just needing a full Algebra curriculum.  This text can rise to the task and you will not be disappointed in the results it can bring.  I have learned from experience with my son that curriculum that is bogged down with endless lessons and practice questions does not make for a better source of teaching.  Short, concise and to the point gets it done with less pain to the student and I think they learn and retain the material much better.

Math Essentials

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Meet Sir Galahad

Well, it's official.  Ebony has been dubbed Sir Galahad!  He started crowing the other day and there is no doubt he is a rooster.  Oh boy.  Don't need/want any more roosters.  Hoping that he will remain docile enough with the other rooster(s) so he can stay.  He certainly is a handsome one.  He seems really laid back but he is still pretty young.  I think around 6 months or so now.  Time will tell.  I'll keep y'all updated :).

I am back to a rooster dilemma again. We are currently building a retirement home for Cedric, my top rooster who is quite disabled.  He still think he rules the roost but he has such a hard time getting up and down out of the coop and getting around due to a serious unknown leg injury about a year ago.  He is now just 3 1/2 years old but has been through so much.  He will have his own coop and run area along with about 4-5 hens I choose to stay with him.  It may well be that Sir Galahad becomes a roomie too.  We shall see.  How do you handle rooster overpopulation?

Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set REVIEW

Hey, Andrew!Teach Me Some Greek!

I was so excited when I saw that we were going to have the opportunity to review Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set from Greek 'n' Stuff.  I have had my eye on this curriculum for a long time, but knew that my struggling learner just wasn't ready for it yet.  He is entering the 8th grade and I figured now would be as good a time as any to give it a try!

We received the Worktext and Answer Key for Level 3 and also the Pronunciation CD for Levels 3 and 4.  The Worktext is a consumable workbook for the student to use.  If you have more than one student they will each need their own Worktext.  The flashcards that are to be used daily are in the back of the Worktext.  I cut ours out and laminated them so they would last.  The Answer Key is basically a copy of the Worktext with all the answers filled in.  It also has a nice suggested Schedule of Lessons.  There is also an Appendix in the Answer Key that has a quite a bit of information including Glossaries for Greek - English and English - Greek words, the Greek Alphabet (24 letters), punctuation, breathing marks, and word order just to name a few.  The last two items in the Appendix are an Index and Flashcard Tips. The Pronunciation CD has the Greek Alphabet Song and pronunciations for all the words in the Worktext. The CD also has a key that tells you what page in the worktext goes with the pronunciation on the CD.

CD key

There are a total of 36 lessons and it is recommended that you complete about a page a day, which amounts to about a lesson per week.  A typical lesson takes 20 minutes or less depending on how slowly they write and how much time they take to review the flashcards.  This would actually give you a full year plus some summer school to complete if you did not complete some extra lessons along the way.  Students who have had Greek in the past or who learn languages quickly may proceed at a quicker pace.  The page a day/lesson per week has worked pretty well for my guy.  We are a little behind because he went a little slower in the beginning to try to learn all the letters of the alphabet well.  He didn't feel confident to move on before he had a better grasp of the letters.

Even though we have had no previous Greek experience, it was recommended that 4th grade and above begin in Level 3.  I can understand that after seeing the worktext because it reviews the alphabet and teaches from a standpoint that the student has had no prior Greek study.  Please be aware that the Greek taught here is Biblical Greek (Koine), not that which is currently spoken in Greece right now.  It is the language that the New Testament was written in and is taught using that form of Greek.

Greek 'n' Stuff
Sample Lesson page

A typical lesson, once you get past the alphabet review lessons, consists of a word introduction, pronunciation of word (you would also use the CD for this), then you practice writing the word, next you generally complete a matching exercise, additional practice with the word, a reminder to practice your daily flashcards, and finally a page allowing you to write the word 16 more times. This helps to solidify the spelling of the word in your mind.  There are practice pages continually throughout the lessons.

Greek 'n' Stuff
Sample Practice page

I am so glad we had the opportunity to review this.  I definitely recommend Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 if you have ever considered learning some Koine Greek in order to better understand scripture from the New Testament.  We will definitely be continuing this into our school year and hope to have it completed by next summer.  There is a copywork copy book available for the Gospel of John and that might be something we consider in the future too!

Greek 'n' Stuff


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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jalapeno Hot Pepper Jelly

Finally!  I got the jelly done.  Been meaning to put up some jalapeno hot pepper jelly and finally got some put up tonight.  Six and a half pints.  We love this stuff.  Warm up a block of cream cheese, pour some jelly over the top, enjoy on some crackers (Triscuit is the best! :)).  Plan to get some bread and butter pickles and salsa done tomorrow!  What's on your canning list?  Have you put up some stuff already?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

In the Reign of Terror REVIEW

In the Reign of Terror
I love G.A. Henty history books and was so excited to be able to review the audio drama In the Reign of Terror from Heirloom Audio Productions.  The quality of this audio drama is superb and the dramatic actors just draw you in to the story like no other.  Be prepared to turn your sound up and sit back and enjoy some history audio drama style!

In the Reign of Terror is a story set during the French Revolution.  A young 16 year old boy, Harry, is visiting Arlington Cemetery with his family.  He meets an Englishman, Mr. George.  They converse and discuss the difference between the America Revolution and the French Revolution and how they were so different.  The American Revolution was about justice and pointed towards God while the French Revolution became a terror about personal independence and reliance and had nothing to do with God.  God was utterly rejected in the terror of the French Revolution.

Mr. George offers to share a story with Harry about a boy named Harry who just also happens to be 16 years old.  Thus begins the story of In the Reign of Terror.  Harry learns of the challenges and dangers that encompassed the French Revolutionary War.  We meet a Monsieur du Tillet and throughout the story learn bits and pieces of French culture and landmarks.

This dramatic telling of a story set during the French Revolution weaves a tale of excitement and terror.  While you are captivated by listening to the story you are also learning about a piece of history and what things were like during that time.  The story weaves in cultural aspects, landmarks and even bits and pieces of a foreign language.

Does Harry get attacked by a dog?  Who is the Marquis and his family to Harry?  Is Harry able to help the daughters of the Marquis escape? Who is Robespierre?  Does he have honest motives in his decisions? Does Marie get rescued from prison? Will the Marquis girls stand trial and will it result in their death? Is there a plan to save them?  You must get this audio drama to find out.  You won't be disappointed in the excitement and how well it captivates the listener's attention.

To make things even better there is a Study Guide available that is FREE with your subscription to the Live the Adventure Club.  This is not your ordinary study guide in my opinion.  It is jam packed with review questions and resources that allow you to immerse yourself and your students in the subject matter.  The study guide for this audio drama consists of 42 pages.  It begins with a list of the production crew and the cast. The introduction explains that each set of questions (there is a set for each of the 22 tracks) consists of 3 sections (The Listening Well, The Thinking Further, and The Defining Words sections). It also has a short bio about G.A. Henty, Maximillien Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette.  Most sections also have an Expand Your Learning box that further grows your knowledge about a related subject from the story.

In The Listening Well section there is a set of excellent review questions for the track just listened to.  The Thinking Further section asks your student to work a little harder and either look something up, draw conclusions, or speculate about Harry and what he is doing. The Defining Words section is an excellent way to add a language arts aspect to the study.  There is a list of vocabulary words to look up or use any way you wish.

The study guide concludes with a recommended reading list about the French Revolution, a 3-part bible study that covers subjects related to what is covered in the story, and finally a Historical Background for In the Reign of Terror.  I was very impressed with it as a whole and would highly recommend you consider joining the Live the Adventure Club.

So many resources in the club

Now would be a GREAT time to join because they are offering a 3-Month TRIAL PERIOD to the club for ONLY $1 and you get a FREE copy of their newest adventure Captain Bayley's Heir!  You just can't beat that!  If you agree that this is a wonderful resource and choose not to cancel, your subscription will continue at a rate of $24.75 billed every 3 months. So, for $99/year you get access to a HUGE library of resources and also FREE copies of their newest dramas 3 times a year and their accompanying study guides.  You must check out the trial because you will be able to see the awesome amount of resources available through the club.  I was pretty impressed with access to tons of free historical ebooks and videos, in addition to the study guides for each audio drama.

Part of the Live the Adventure Club

More resources available in the Live the Adventure Club

Heirloom Audio Productions

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In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Garden Goodness

So excited to harvest our first cantaloupe of the season from the garden yesterday.  It was yummy and sweet.  We harvested some corn earlier and it was good but what is left on the stalks doesn't seem like we will be able to harvest.  Not sure what happened and don't know enough about corn.  Will have to do some research.  I don't know if it is the weather and the hot dry or bugs that seem to be keeping it from maturing anymore and what is there is just not good ears.  Glad we got at least a few good ones early on.  Hope to get some hot pepper jelly and pickles put up tonight.  Hope your garden is doing well.

English Grammar Teaching Method REVIEW

English on a Roll
We have been enjoying English Grammar Teaching Method by English on a Roll.  Enjoying?  How do you "enjoy" grammar?  Seriously, this is a fun way to learn/review your grammar rules and sentence structure.  We received physical products that consisted of the English on a Roll (now called the English Grammar Teaching Method) Book One instructor's manual and a set of grammar cubes.  Take a minute to view the Demonstration of English on a Roll video to get a sense of how it works.

English on a Roll

The cubes (40 including the two blank ones) are really nice, high quality, and color coded. Pronouns are blue, question words are green, nouns are dark blue, articles and prepositions are dark blue, verbs are red, adverbs are orange, adjectives are purple, and punctuation and conjunctions are black.  There are also two blank cubes that you can use as you like.  They come in a very nice, sturdy, clear plastic case. The kit accommodates up to 6 students. If you are teaching more students then you can purchase extra sets. She does recommend that if you have multiple sets in use that you color code each set by putting a colored dot on each cube in the different sets.  If the cubes were to get mixed up it will make it easier to get the sets put back together with the color-coding.

Working on worksheets and using cubes to clarify
The book that is included with this set has everything you need for the program.  It contains 36 lessons with a review at the end.  The copyright allows for photocopies of the worksheets to be distributed to your student(s).  It walks you through each lesson step by step and even tells you what to say and which cubes to pull out for the lesson.  A typical lesson covers prep work (picking out the cubes for the lesson), vocabulary, teaching notes and concepts, conversation/games, and written exercises.  The lessons are short and keep your student engaged.  Word of caution, in my opinion you may want to review lessons ahead of time as I personally found some of the dialogue too simplified.  I think this is because it is more geared to ESL (English as a Second Language).  It is also geared for age 5 to adult so of course more would need to be spelled out for the younger crowd.  When needed we simply skipped over the simplified parts for my 7th and 8th grader.  The early lessons were a great review and helped to solidify some grammar concepts for my struggling learner 8th grader.

When stumped, use the cubes to help

This program is a perfect fit for my 8th grader.  I recently learned that he is a Visual-Spacial Learner.  I knew we had difficulty with dyslexia and some other issues and that he was a more hands-on learner, but learning more about visual-spatial issues has helped me to help him out a lot more.  The hands-on nature of this program is so perfect for him.  The color coding and just being able to manipulate the cubes and SEE the sentences is great for making connections to what he is learning and how his brain is processing it all.

Example of sentence structure using cubes

Using the same cubes to manipulate a different sentence
As early as the 5th lesson the game concept is introduced.  Students roll a cube and then base a sentence (using the cubes listed for the lesson) around the word on the rolled cube.  It was a lot of fun and challenging for my crew.  It kept them engaged and they also learned to work together.

I think the most challenging part sometimes was finding the cubes to be used for the day, at least until I got all the colors memorized.  But even then at times it posed a challenge.  This was another plus for me when my 8th grader found it a fun challenge to get the cubes for the day ready to go.

The multi-sensory approach to this program just can't be beat.  The kids are not only learning basic grammar and sentence structure but are also gaining increased confidence as they move through the lessons. We will definitely continue on with our lessons until we complete the book.  It is with great pleasure that I recommend this program, especially if you have some struggling learners or just need a good, basic review of grammar.  I really like that it fits all age groups and will be something I can even start my Kindergartner on next year.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Bountiful Blessings

The garden is coming along ok and we've been harvesting a lot of good stuff.  Picked a colander full of tomatoes tonight and will need to get back out in the morning to pick more.  Got a bundle of cucumbers and a pocket full of eggs.  The girls are picking up their laying again since the heat wave cooled off a little.  It has been very pleasant the past two days.  It should hold for at least a few more days.

Abundant tomatoes!

Yummy cucumbers
Hope your garden is doing well also if you planted one this year.  I've been keeping more than busy with summer homeschool, lots of baby chicks and the gardening. Hope you are enjoying your summer.  Can't believe it's almost over!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook REVIEW

We have been busy this summer and Little Bug has really been enjoying the extra activities.  We have been enjoying working on the Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook by The Crafty Classroom over the past several weeks. The suggested age range for this program is Preschool to K4.  Little Bug already knows all her letters and how to write them, but we have been enjoying practicing more and working on her writing technique.    We just love this curriculum.  She is getting reinforcement with her letter recognition, writing practice and a plethora of extra activities that really immerse her in not only letters and writing but also scripture, bible lessons, memorization, cutting and pasting, matching, memorization, and math!

Bug enjoying her copywork

Bible verses and coloring to boot!
Letter tracing and practice writing

The Bible notebook is a downloadable PDF ebook.  It consists of 658 pages and you will need a 3 ring binder to keep all your pages together (or you can print and take to a printer to be bound).  It's a LOT and I am just printing a few letters at a time to break the printing up.  The curriculum is set up to be covered 4 days a week for 26 weeks (one letter per week).  She really enjoys the activities involved each week.  She gets to color, listen to and learn Bible verses, trace letters, write letters, work on copywork, complete mazes, count, hunt for letters, play bingo and a host of other fun activities. She really likes day 4 where she gets to color and cut out a crown to wear!  There are 24 pages of activities for each letter of the alphabet.  We just work on 4-5 worksheets per day (not every page is a worksheet) and she is having fun doing it all.

Crafty Classroom

The product license for this product covers your homeschool family so you are permitted to print out copies of the pages for each member of your family.  I got a 2-inch D-Ring binder to put all the pages in and also bought alphabet page dividers.  Everything we need is stored in the notebook, including game and matching activities that we create.

Alphabet page dividers
For each letter there is a Bible Theme, Bible Vocabulary Word, Bible Verse, Character of God, and Character Verse.  You work on a letter per week and get great bible immersion also.  The schedule for each day is all laid out for you if you choose the follow the included schedule.  We have been following the schedule and it works well for us.  I really like that it is 4 days and the suggested activities per day are not too much and she has not become bored or frustrated.  She really enjoys the extra coloring and games.  If what is contained is not enough they also offer supplemental options such as their review pack, craft projects, games, or holiday activities for purchase.

Topics covered per letter
4 days a week schedule
I also really like the versatility of the curriculum in that you can create games from some of the activities.  The weekly letter chart can be separately reprinted and laminated and then cut out to form a matching game or go fish!  You can store these game pieces in a pouch or ziploc bag that you keep all together with your notebook.  The short and varied lessons easily keep her attention and keep her moving from one activity to another.  The daily lesson is over quickly (20 - 30 minutes tops).

Beginning letter chart that can be used to create extra games
 I think this is an easy one to say we really like this curriculum.  It is fun, easy, simple to follow and just works for us. Big thumbs up from us on the Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook! I am excited to check out the other reviews from my fellow crew members on some of the other curriculum they offer.  We will most likely be shopping with this vendor again.

Crafty Classroom

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