Thursday, September 27, 2018

It's Canning Time!

So glad I got some canning done this year.  It's been quite some time since I have canned this much.  I wish my tomatoes had produced even more so I could have put up more than just salsa, but grateful for what we got for sure.  We are certainly stocked up on jalapeno jelly I think!  Tonight's agenda was more apple butter in the crockpot and some pear butter.  I have never made pear butter so hope it turns out.  I don't think I let it cook down as much as I should have, but I was getting so tired and just wanted to call it a night. Hopefully, it will be okay.

Tomorrow I will try the pear honey and probably more applesauce.  Not sure what else I might come up with.  Oh, I also wanted to get some apple pie filling put up too.  I really hope I can pull off getting a pressure cooker for canning this year (for canning next year).

The garden is winding down and really needs to move towards winterizing.  I was going to try to put in some fall crops but decided not to since I can't seem to keep up with everything else right now.  The extra babies in the coop have kept me busier than I care to be with the coops right now.  My once 30 min or less routine has become a 90 min job by the time I am done with everything.  Will be glad when this crew is either grown or processed.

What's new on your homestead?  Any plans for your fall garden?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Harvest Time!

Oh my goodness. So many blessings of harvest lately.  Received leftover apples from son's apple pie making workshop, more apples from a friend at church, then pears from another friend at church.  So much goodness!  Also just picked up MORE apples for $5 a half bushel (they are seconds).  Have made applesauce and apple butter.  Getting ready to make more of both plus some apple pie filling to boot.  Yum, Yum!!  The pears are about ready to process so I will also be making some pear butter and perhaps some pear honey with them.  We have already been sampling them as some start to turn bad and they are yummy!!

I love this time of year.  Our weather just suddenly took a turn for MUCH cooler temps and I am loving it!!  I love fall.  I love the cooler weather.  I don't always enjoy the preserving part of the produce, but sure do enjoy the fruits of it! I would also like to try dehydrating some apples and possibly pears.

What have you been canning, preserving, or drying?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Roman Roads Media Vocabulary Builder REVIEW

Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

I'm always looking for ways and programs that can help to either strengthen or stretch my son's vocabulary.  We had the opportunity to review a neat classical education online program from Roman Roads Media called Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder.  It is an online language arts program that builds vocabulary through teaching Latin words and picture associations to enhance learning.  It is geared for Jr. High to College students and was meant to teach fluidity in Latin reading.  It is a self-paced program so there is less stress of having to mold to a strict timeline structure.  We accessed and used the program on a laptop running Windows 7 and Chrome as the browser.

Roman Roads Media

Setting up the account wasn't too tricky.  Once you get your subscription you add your students (learner profiles).  To begin your lesson you click the "go" icon.  If you click the "train" icon it gives you a list to choose from so you can practice on a specific area if you need or want to. The program automatically advances you to the next step as you progress through the lesson.  Once completed you can see your score for that lesson.

Login screen
Create account and learner profiles (students)

Click on "go" icon to begin lesson

Each chapter lesson focuses on a topic and then has activities that you complete to learn words related to that topic.  There are a total of 31 chapter lessons.  The activities include Learn, Choose, Spell, Forms, Test Forms, and Review.  During the "Learn" phase you learn the words with picture associations.  The "Choose" activity has you matching the pictures with the word or phrase.  The "Spelling" activity has you filling in the blank and spelling the word.  It's challenging but a lot of fun.  "Forms" presses you further.  The definition from the program is as follows:


In this exercise, you will practice writing out any extra forms for the words you have studied. For nouns, you may be required to give a genitive form and/or a gender. For adjectives, you may be required to give feminine and neuter forms or sometimes a genitive form. For verbs, you may be required to give the third and fourth principle parts.

Finally after forms comes either "Test Forms" and/or some "Review" activities.

Learn activity (word association with pictures)

Learning Latin words with picture association

Types of lessons in student dashboard

Sample forms screen

I am finding this program to be fun and challenging.  I really think it is important for our kids to learn at least a little bit of Latin and I really feel that learning Latin roots is invaluable to expanding their vocabulary.  This program does a good job of stretching their vocabulary skills. I'm not sure that I quite follow the train of thought as to the words we are learning, but I'm sure as we progress through the program it will come together.  My son, of course, is not enjoying it so much and it really does challenge him quite a bit.  He is a struggling learner and programs like this can be a bit much for him.  That being said, I know that he is still learning and gaining some good vocabulary skills despite his challenges.  I do also have him working on it every day so he keeps the flow going.  You could easily just use it 3 days per week and progress just fine.  It is self-study so there are no deadlines to meet.  I think it is best for your student to take their time and work on mastering the words and their forms.

At work on his Latin vocabulary

I would recommend Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder by Roman Roads Media if you would like to incorporate some Latin into your curriculum and help your students to have a good tool to help build their vocabulary.  The recommendation for Jr. High and up seems fitting because it is a more complex program.

Roman Roads Media

You can connect with Roman Roads Media on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE, and PINTEREST.

My fellow crew members are also reviewing some of their other wonderful programs so be sure to check out all of the reviews at the link below by clicking on the graphic.  You can read what others have to say about Picta Dicta Vocabulary, Picta Dicta Natural World, and Fitting Words.

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Apple Time

I could only get half of the rainbow on camera

I live in a community that has an annual Apple Festival.  It is a very special time every year and we always look forward to it.  After all, who can resist all that carnival food and the rides!  And of course, there are all things apple.  Apple cider, apple pies, caramel apples, pie eating contests, and apple peeling to name a few.  It's an exciting time and the kids always have fun.

This year we were blessed with a special surprise in the sky.  A beautiful rainbow that could be seen as a complete half circle.  It was not raining nor had it rained.  It was a bit cloudy and kind of overcast, but no rain to be seen, just this absolutely stunning rainbow.  And to top it off it appeared during the opening event of our annual Gospel Sing.  God is truly awesome!

I'm looking forward to canning some goodies from some awesome apples we received recently.  Yummy apple butter and perhaps some apple pie filling.

What's on your agenda for this upcoming harvest season?

Friday, September 7, 2018

GrammarPlanet REVIEW

OK, so I might be a little more excited about this next review than most.  The deal is that grammar IS NOT my strong point and it is very much a struggle for my 9th grader.  I have tried many different products but I think we have found a winner for us with the comprehensive online grammar program from GrammarPlanet.  This is an online digital product.  During my review, it was in beta stage so there have been a lot of kinks worked out of it.  We started with the free version which includes ads, but have recently been scheduled to receive the ad-free paid version (mine has not been activated yet).

Sample of test time

Did you catch that?  You can get this online grammar program for FREE if you don't mind the ads.  At the time of this review, I feel that the ads are completely not annoying or invasive.  Mine come at the end of a session and it's just one quick ad (I realize that may change in the future).  For an ad-free paid version it only cost $39 for lifetime access.  How cool is that?  There are currently a total of 13 units (lessons).  You can see a list of topics covered from a PDF link on the website.

Screenshot from within student account

When you set your account up you get a parent/teacher account and a student account.  You can only access the lessons from the student account.  The parent account is to keep up with the progress of your student and to "unlock" their account when they have done poorly in a lesson and need to repeat it.  The unlock feature has been wonderful for me since I have a student that likes to try to skate through assignments and not redo or retry things he has not done well on.  From my parent dashboard, I can see the progress of each student.  You can also go in and review what they have gotten wrong.  There is an option to reset your students progress, but I have not used that so I am unsure of the result.  I imagine it is how you can go back and redo a lesson because once you have completed your lesson you can view it, but not redo it.

Parent dashboard overview (showing 2 students)
This is also where you would "unlock" your student's account

You can see what your student got wrong (from both their account and your parent dashboard)

GrammarPlanet is basically a digital version of sentence diagramming. A typical lesson begins with you printing out the PDF lesson notes and then watching a lesson video. Your student can use the notes to refer to as they watch the video lesson.  Each video so far has been around 6 minutes so they are quick and easy.  As your student progresses through the lesson video there are integrated quiz questions for them to answer.  I think this is wonderful to be sure they are understanding what they are hearing.

Sample of a portion of a note page

After the video, your student is ready to complete some practice questions (so far there have been about 12-15 questions).  Your student can and should use their "cheat sheet" notes for this section.  They may also use them during test time.  The key to this program is that your student masters the grammar concepts taught. The more repetition and practice the more natural the diagramming will become.  It really helps you to understand sentence structure.  Once the practice session is complete your student is ready to take the test.  Don't be surprised if your student sees a question repeated on a test.  Our experience has been that if they completely get a question wrong, the question comes up again.  The program is responsive in that way, it gives the student a chance to try again.  Once complete you will see your test score for the unit.

Practice questions with markups and correction

We found this program very easy to navigate.  Since we were testing a beta version there have been a lot of hiccups, but I feel they have been worth it and the corrections came quickly.  There are/were challenges with why certain words fell under certain designations, but as you proceed and learn more the reasons will become more apparent.  There is no rush to complete the course and the students can progress at their own pace.  Even repeating lessons as necessary.  Even better, there are no age restrictions (age 10 - 99 recommended) on who can use this program.  If you find yourself lacking in grammar skills, it is a perfect resource for honing your skills.  Our experience has been a good one and I give this online grammar program a thumbs up.  If you want to give it a try, you just can't go wrong for FREE!


You can connect with GrammarPlanet on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST.

As always, be sure to check out what others have to say about this online grammar program by clicking on the graphic below.

Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Reading Eggs Workbook REVIEW

Hopefully, if you have been homeschooling for even a short bit, you are familiar with Reading Eggs.  If not, I will put a link to my review below.  The main topic today is my review of their new workbooks.  I was given a 278-page softcover copy of the 200 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten (240 skills according to the book cover) workbook for review.  I was also given a complimentary 3-month subscription to their online activity program (including both Reading Eggs and Mathseeds).  This couldn't have come at a better time as we have started our new school year officially in Kindergarten.

Little Bug using the Reading Eggs program on the Kindle

As we progress through her school work this year I am becoming more convinced that perhaps Little Bug could advance to 1st grade but I will leave that decision till later in the semester.  We "played" with Kindergarten work last year because she has a late birthday.  I knew we could have started Kindergarten last year but decided to keep her in the "grade" that public school would have started her with.  Due to her birthday, she would not be eligible to start Kindergarten until this year.  I am finding out that I will most likely have an early reader as she can pretty much already read beginning books.  Her skills are a result of the wonderful programs we have had the blessing to review including Reading Eggs and now their wonderful workbooks.

Sample lesson 10 workbook page

The Reading Eggs reading for kids program is wonderful for helping your littles learn to read.  We really liked their online activity program and now Little Bug is enjoying the accompanying workbook.  The workbook follows the format of the online program with the maps and lessons.  Each "map" has a total of 10 lessons. There are 6 maps for a total of 60 lessons.  At the end of each map section,  there is a quiz, a certificate of completion, a fun spot page, and find the hidden pictures activity.  Each lesson is 4 pages long and can be easily completed within about 15 minutes.  I have a goal to complete at least 3 lessons per week and that would allow you to complete the program within 20 weeks (not including the quizzes and extra activities at the end of each map).

Certificate of completion for Map 1

Sample online screen shot of lesson 10

While the workbook can be purchased and used as a standalone product, you will see much better results with the additional subscription to their Reading Eggs interactive game for kids online program.  They have great prices on the yearly option that also includes a subscription to the math for kids program, Mathseeds, that helps with math skills. If you homeschool and have multiple children you can contact them directly for special pricing.

Online map for first 10 lessons

The online level that Little Bug is using with her Kindergarten workbook

While the online program is geared to coordinate with the workbook lessons, they are not the same.  You get MUCH more practice and activity with the online program.  It is suggested that you complete the online lesson first before completing the coordinating workbook pages.  It takes Little Bug about 20 minutes or so to complete the online activities.  The workbook allows your child to work on their writing skills in addition to the concepts introduced in the online lesson.

Sample lesson 10 workbook page showing skills practiced including writing.

At the end of each workbook lesson is a coin to color, name the egg that hatched, fill in the smiley face, and the letter of the day.

Sample of end of lesson prompts.

The key to the workbook (just like the online program) is the 5 pillars of reading success that include:
  • Phonological and phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency
  • Comprehension
I really like the quizzes that are given at the end of online books when Little Bug completes her reading.  I am amazed at her level of comprehension.  She really does pay attention to detail and generally aces the quizzes.  I guess it might be a "girl thing" because her brother never really mastered this skill so early.

Online Reading Eggs Suite

My conclusion is that I would recommend the workbooks to supplement the Reading Eggs online activity program.  I would even recommend them as a stand-alone product or to use with your current language arts program.  The 200 Essential Reading Skills for Kindergarten workbook really helped to round out our language arts program for Little Bug.  It is allowing her to practice her writing skills and further reinforcing her language arts skills.  Being able to write with your hands and learning at the same time is a skill that cannot be properly completed when they are just tapping on a screen or even just tracing letters with their fingers.  She is also learning to properly construct sentences.

Click on 4 FREE WEEKS link below to take advantage of this offer

Reading Eggs has given me a 10% off coupon code for my readers to use on any workbook purchase (use code: WK10Y8ZVM9U).  You can also get 4 FREE WEEKS to try out the Reading Eggs online program (good through Oct 7, 2018).

Online Reading Eggs Suite
You can connect with Reading Eggs on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST.  Be sure to check out my previous review on Reading Eggs HERE. Don't forget to also check out the other reviews on all their workbooks including those for the math program by clicking on the graphic below.

Online Reading Eggs Suite {Reading Eggs Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Her Name Shall Be "Fluffy"

Not the best of pics but this is one of the babies currently on our homestead.  She is a Light Brahma and a pet for my son.  I told him she must have a name at this point.  I can't get her to come to her name if she doesn't have one.  He has wanted a Light Brahma for some time now so when I had the chance we got one.  She is pretty cute but VERY flighty and not tame at all.  Brahma's are supposed to be very friendly and pretty tame so hopefully, she will eventually settle down.  We bought her at our local farm feed store along with 2 Australorps and 3 Amber Links.  The Amber Links turned out to be something else we are still trying to figure out (possibly Calico Princess) and one of them died within the first week.

Back to the subject of her name, he said "Fluffy."  Now mind you I am guessing her name is part of a recent inside joke where we had seen a pretty funny video on a social media site that was a talking chicken by the name of "Janet" talking about her "fluffy bum bum feathers."  It is the new joke in our house that I think will stick for a little while anyway.

The rest of the babies are doing well and growing like weeds.  The Rhode Island Whites are huge!  Almost the size of my full grown hens.  I sure hope they are pullets.  Time will tell with all of them.  I already know that of the 18 baby chicks we currently have at least 6 of them are roosters, possibly 7 or more!  Five of them are pullets for sure because we bought those.  That would leave 7 of them that are still unknown at this point.  Both Lavenders are really looking like pullets.  I will be surprised if either of them is a rooster.

To add to the crazy one of my Maran hens is sitting again!  Someone broke one of her eggs today and it was the one I intentionally placed under her to hatch.  Bummer!  Maybe next time.

What exciting things are going on in your homestead? 
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