Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Channie's Visual Handwriting REVIEW

I don't know what it is but both of my kids struggle with their handwriting.  My oldest is actually dysgraphic and my youngest won't slow down enough to get her spacing correct.  I was more than glad to have a chance to review Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks.  I have reviewed for Channie's before and I loved the product.  This time I was blessed to be able to choose two products, Channie's Dry Erase Flashcard For Alphabet & Numbers and Channie's Dry Erase Flashcard for Sight Words.  Little Bug is a little old for both (she is in 1st grade and reads fluently) but she really needs the handwriting practice and I just LOVE dry erase! 

Practicing lower case letters (blue)

Praticing writing numbers (orange)

The flashcards are made of heavy-duty, thick card stock and of coarse coated for use with dry erase markers.  I used to use dry erase markers extensively when my oldest was younger but have not used them as much with Little Bug.  It seemed the perfect medium for her to practice and easy enough to clean up afterward.  These cards are nice and compact (about 4" x 5") and easy to tote around if you need to do some practice/school on the go.  They are recommended on the box for ages 3+ and the website lists them for Pre-K to 1st grade.

Practicing sight words

If you are not familiar with Channie's system you will quickly see the difference from the typical lined paper for teaching writing.  Instead of a top and bottom line with a dashed middle line, Channie's uses 3 section columns with the middle section shaded in green.  I think it is easier for younger students to form their letters using this system.  The sections allow for better formation of lower case letters that flow "below" the line like p's or j's.  It also allows for proper spacing between the letters.  The fact that these are dry erase is wonderful!  Easy to write (markers flow nicely) and clean off in a breeze (no water necessary since dry erase, just use a dry paper towel and you are good to go).

Channie's Dry Erase Flashcard for Alphabet & Numbers are great for practicing your letters and numbers (26 alphabet cards and 5 number cards).  It includes cards for all 26 letters of the alphabet printed on the front and back of each card.  Capital letters are on one side and lower case on the other.  A word and picture for each letter are also on both sides.  The number cards include numbers from 0 to 9.  They are also printed on front and back and include pictures of fish that match the number on the card.  Handwriting and counting all in one!  The cards are color-coordinated with capital letters in green, lower case letters in blue, and numbers in orange.

Channie's Dry Erase Flashcard for Sight Words includes 50 sight word cards with different words on both sides (total of 100 sight words).  There are also 2 blank cards for you to fill in with an additional 4 words or use the dry erase to change those words out.  The cards are in different colors but there is no designation to the color.

Little Bug is having fun using these cards and they are perfect for daily quick review.  I just give her a couple letter cards and sight word cards each day for her to practice her writing.  She is fluently reading and knows her sight words but needs handwriting practice.  It is a quick fun thing she gets to do daily.  She just loves wiping the boards clean!  The bright colors and pictures are nice on the eyes too and would be great for the younger ones.  We give Channie's Dry Erase Flashcard For Alphabet & Numbers and Channie's Dry Erase Flashcard for Sight Words two thumbs up.

You can connect with  Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAMThere is also an app I believe in the beta test phase that we did not use so be sure to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew members by clicking on the graphic link below to see what they have to say about these and other products by Channie's and what they thought about the app.

Alphabet, Number & Sight Word Dry Erase, Neat Numbers & Page a Day 2 Didgit Multiplication. {Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks Reviews} 
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, October 25, 2019


Little Bug so wants to learn to speak Spanish.  We have used several different resources to do this and they have all been good.  The challenge is that at her age and her personality, it is difficult to keep her focused.  I am always up for trying new options so when I had the chance to review Excelerate SPANISH Streaming from Excelerate SPANISH  I signed up!  I really like that this is a streaming video program.  Little Bug is a visual learner and this is a good option for her.  I received a one-year streaming membership with access to BOTH levels 1 and 2.  You will need internet access and something to watch it on like a smartphone, tablet, or computer.


Both Levels 1 and 2 each consist of 24 video lessons (total of 48 lessons) that run from about 30 minutes to almost an hour.  So far the only challenge for Little Bug is the length of the lessons.  They are interesting and engaging but VERY content filled so it is just too much for one sitting.  Our goal is to complete 1 lesson per week.  We are slightly behind and she was viewing lesson 4 today.  It works better to break the video up into 2 or three parts for viewing and then review as necessary.  Once you log on you have access to the streaming videos and can easily locate and access them from the menu on the right of your screen.

Screen once you log in

You can click on links to the right and access either Spanish 1 or Spanish 2

Once Spanish 1 is selected you can now access the individual lessons

Little Bug enjoying one of her lessons

This is more of a conversational type program. It uses the magic of storytelling to teach you the language.  It works more practically and it is easier to learn and remember.  You are not just learning a bunch of words but how you can put those words together to communicate effectively about real-life everyday subjects.  The lessons are all based on a subject like taking a bus, going fishing, going out into a storm, at the skating rink, the animals in the zoo, etc. The teacher, Caryn Hommel, moves fairly quickly through the material but also engages the students for better memory retention.  She uses repetition and visual cues for students to remember the words. Once she teaches the vocabulary she uses the words to string together sentences that create a story based on the subject of the lesson.  Having taken 4 years of French MANY, MANY years ago in high school I think this is a wonderful way to learn a foreign language and I am really enjoying the lessons.


Student participation in videos

There is an introductory video where Caryn explains how to engage with the program.  She recommends you participate with the class in the videos.  Stand when they do, do the motions, and answer questions like they do.  There is a workbook available for sale that goes with the program, but there are also FREE resources available from a Quizlet link we were given.  I am LOVING the Quizlet resources.  The Quizlet resources include:
  • Flashcards
  • Learn (like quizzing)
  • Write
  • Spell (like a spelling test, hear and write)
  • Test
  • Games (Match and Gravity)
Quizlet link to one of the lessons





Gravity Game
Match Game

As far as I can tell, Quizlet has resources for every Excelerate SPANISH Streaming lesson.  Each lesson even has a list of the vocabulary words and audio so you can hear them properly pronounced!  This has been an invaluable resource for us.  I REALLY like the flashcards.  I haven't tried to print them out yet, but I think that is an option.  If I can get it to work then I can laminate them for longevity and she can use them for more practice.  In our case repetition, repetition, repetition will be the key.

I looked ahead to view a few of the Spanish 2 lessons and they appear to be very similar.  Most of them appear to be longer in length (more 40-50 min videos) and with more classroom participation.  With a total of 48 lessons, I don't see us completing or possibly even getting into Spanish 2 very far so I am anticipating that we will probably continue with this program next year.  I only have access for 1 year, but at this time I feel that Excelerate SPANISH Streaming is a wonderful program that helps you excel in Spanish and plan to continue our subscription.  We give this program 2 thumbs up and highly recommend you check it out if you are looking for a foreign language option and want to learn Spanish fast.

You can connect with Excelerate SPANISH on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and PINTEREST.  Also, be sure to click the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew members have to say about this wonderful foreign language resource.

Excelerate SPANISH help your students to learn FAST, naturally! (Streaming)  {Excelerate SPANISH Reviews} 
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Smartick Math Program REVIEW

There are a lot of online math programs available to choose from today.  Smartick offers a fun math program that is online and geared for children ages 4-14.  It boasts great progress for your student(s) in only 15 minutes a day (at least 5 days per week).  I received a 6 month trial period to give this helpful math program a try.  You need internet access and it can be used on a computer or tablet (Android and iOS apps available).

One key to this helpful math program is that it asks that you, the parent, NOT help your child.  Let your child loose on this program for 15 minutes a day at least 5 days per week and the adaptive program will work with your child.  The program helps with not only math but also mental agility, concentration, study habits, and reading comprehension.  Once an exercise is completed the program allows the student to review and correct their mistakes.  The program will explain to them how to get the correct answer.  Smartick is an adaptive program that adjusts to your child's ability.  As they work through their sessions and answer questions correctly they will earn "ticks" that they can use later in the Virtual World to "purchase" items.

Awesome results when used as suggested (at least 5 days per week for 15 minutes per day).
Login screen (from computer)

Topics covered include:
  • Counting
  • Numbers and Operations in Ten
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Measurement and Data
  • Geometry
  • Integers
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Logic
Progress chart from parent page (shows subjects and how much covered)

Some of the lessons covered include:
  • addition and subtraction
  • classifying objects
  • numbers and numerical sequences
  • counting objects to determine quantity
  • comparing numbers
  • positional value
  • multiplication fundamentals
  • extension of the counting sequence
  • geometric solids
  • describing positions
  • describing and comparing measurable attributes
  • flat figures
  • measuring and estimating lengths
  • patterns 

Login screen on tablet using iOS app (her favorite way to access the program)

I like that it asks her every time how she is feeling before starting her lessons.

Sample lesson on iOS app

Once your child completes their 15-minute session they will have access to the Virtual World where they can play to their heart's content.  Little Bug just LOVES this section.  She is always going to the house to update her avatar.  There are many options for play in the Virtual World and I have noticed that Little Bug needs to learn more about how to work around in it.  She doesn't seem to be taking advantage of all that is available in this area.  There are more games and challenges available to help her improve her skills even more.

Virtual World

Brain challenges available in the Virtual World

In addition to your student login, there is a parent login where you can adjust settings, review your student's progress, and see details of your student's daily sessions (complete detail on what they got wrong and right and what topics were covered, etc).  This is great since you are not supposed to help them through their lessons.  This allows you to see what they covered in their session for the day and what they got wrong or right.  It just keeps you in the loop for what they need to work on (the program will adjust for this in their next session).  You will also get an email each time they complete a session that shows you how they did with a link to the parent page for further detail.

Parent page screen

Student results

Detailed student results (you can see exactly what questions they got wrong or right)

Motivational rewards available to be set from Parent page.

Email showing how your child's session went

There is so much to this online math program I found myself just a little overwhelmed with all that was available and trying to decipher just how it worked and what was expected of Little Bug.  I noticed a small "need help?" option at the top of the homepage to the program.  It has a wealth of information.  I highly suggest you check it out as I think it will answer a lot of questions you might have about the program and how it works.

Wonderful information from the "Need help?" link on homepage.

Basically, you just let the program do its thing and it will adjust as it needs to for your child's ability.  I have to say that it took me some time to come around to where I think I really do like this program.  Little Bug has some patience and perfection issues so she can become quite belligerent and upset with the program when she can't figure something out or gets it wrong.  It has been a good learning experience for her and the Virtual World acts as a good motivator for her to complete her sessions.  I can see where she is progressing and I am looking forward to letting her continue this for the 6 months that we have it.  We recommend this fun math program for what it can do in improving skills in areas more than just math.

You can connect with Smartick on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and YOUTUBE.  Please also be sure to see what my fellow Crew members have to say about this program by clicking on the graphic link below.  There is a free trial offer available so it would be worth checking it out.

Math Enrichment Program {Smartick Reviews} 
Crew Disclaimer

Meet Buddy and Dolly

Meet Buddy and Dolly.  Two of my six youngest littles right now.  Sassy my tried and true broody mom is raising them with their four other siblings.  I'm a little scared of how many roos I might have this time.  I am so hoping I am wrong and that only two of them are roos.  Buddy (Barred Rock mix) and his barred rock mix brother are definitely both roos.  I am so hoping that Dolly (Buff Brahma mix) and the other three are pullets.  That being said I am reminded that I am also pretty sure that the brown one whom I named Brownie is probably a roo too.  That makes it three for three, ughhh.  I just hate getting attached to them and then having to cull them.  It's so hard to rehome roosters around here and we do raise them for eggs and meat.

Dolly, I'm hoping pullet and I think she is from Olivia my Buff Brahma

I already have two extra roos in this main (blue) coop from my second hatch earlier this year.  I have another extra roo in the 4H (red) coop from the first hatch of this year.  I am hoping to keep him as he looks pure Black Copper Maran (but is a mix).  My Black Copper Maran roo is with my head rooster (his dad) Junior in the 4H (red) coop.

Couple of cuties, Dolly (on my shoulder) and Buddy

I have been working very hard with this group and handling them every day.  A couple of them still don't like me but Buddy and Dolly have become my buddies.  I have to be careful to not lean over or this happens.  They roost on my shoulder, back, or arm, whatever they can land on!  They are both so sweet and I am enjoying their friendship.  I hope it continues as they mature.  I've had so many in the past that I have tamed, but then things get busy and before I know it they don't want anything to do with me, LOL.
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