Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Laying a strong foundation through Logic of English-a Review

For the past several weeks Evan and I have been working through Foundations Level B from Logic of English. An English enthusiast myself, I was so excited to get my hands on this product to review and use in our homeschool. The Foundations program is specifically geared towards children ages 4-7 and is a comprehensive, multi sensory language arts curriculum. Level B is appropriate for children who have basic phonemic awareness skills, are already familiar with short vowel sounds and can read short vowel words. If you are unfamiliar with Logic of English, their tagline says it all-"Combining the science of reading with the joy of learning." The program aims to teach language arts through phonemic awareness, reading, handwriting and spelling to produce strong readers and writers.

Logic of English Review
Logic of English Review
The Level B student workbook was an instant win for us-just look at the cover! It's full of engaging activities and colorful worksheet pages that make phonics fun and approachable to the struggling reader. Right away Evan enjoyed the phonogram and reading skills games(cleverly disguised as Bingo, tic tac toe and so on). Let's face it, the English language is one tough cookie to crack! Logic of English does a great job breaking it down and making it less intimidating for little learners.
Tongue signals serious concentration going on here hehe!
The readers were also a home run with us. Other than doing a great job re enforcing lessons learned, they are cute little books filled with silly stories sure to entertain young readers. As both a mom and a homeschool teacher, I love readers like these because they build confidence. When you're 5 years old and having a hard day struggling to understand reading rules, I imagine its so nice to be able to say "Hey I read that!" Also, I appreciated the diversity in characters illustrated throughout these Logic of English readers. Here's a video of Evan reading from the Level B Reader "Can Pete Pick a Pet?"

Foundations helps children to develop solid phonemic awareness by learning the way sounds are formed with the mouth and tongue, and how to listen for and feel these sounds as they are pronounced. This is brick and mortar to learning to read, write and speak the English language well. In the introduction to the teacher's manual there is a really helpful list all of the phonograms and high frequency words covered in the book-I found myself referencing often. You can find the scope and sequence outlined there as well and how it aligns with Common Core standards. 

From a teacher's perspective, I have to note that this curriculum is incredibly comprehensive. If you are not one to spend as much consistent time on your preparation and planning on this Kindergarten level, this is probably not the best fit for you. There is no skirting the teacher manual here, it is essential to the program as a whole and you will be lost without it. Whether it's a pro or con in your book, the lesson plans are very detailed if you plan to use the program to it's fullest potential. Each lesson includes objectives relating to phonemic awareness, phonograms, handwriting and spelling, with reviews and reading assessments included throughout. Lessons are scripted, so that's a plus for me! And, the little "teacher help" boxes in the margin are full of helpful tips and tricks as well.

To teach Foundations B you need the teacher manual, student workbook and set of corresponding readers. Level B picks up right where A leaves off, with lessons 41-80. You can buy both A and B as a set to get the best value. If you do buy sets individually, they would also recommend a few extra reusable materials like phonogram flashcards, game tiles and more. At first glance this program does seem to fall on the expensive end of the spectrum, but it helps to remember that you are buying a comprehensive language arts curriculum covering phonics, reading, handwriting and spelling. 
Click on the picture below to read more review from the crew!
And, learn more about Logic of English on social media at the links below...

https://www.facebook.com/TheLogicOfEnglish/  @LogicOfEnglishYouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/user/LogicofEnglish

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Best

I do love little boys in bowties. :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Four months

And just like that, he is four months old.  Hello hands, rolling belly laughs and monster grip. Drool, I did not miss you. Call me a broken record, but I love this age!

Asher Elliot loves his brothers and bathtime. He continues to be more of a movement and music baby, and is always a captive and eager audience to daddy's guitar. And not surprising, he is a mama's boy thru and thru(x3 hehe)-how lucky am I?!
We are so thankful that Mr. Piglet is happy and healthy. Tipping the scale at 15 pounds, 13 oz and measuring 25.5 inches long, Asher is on track to be our biggest babe. This is pretty ironic considering he was the smallest at birth.

Also making headlines this month he got to meet his Aunt Sami and cousin Jake. More on that surprise visit to come. :-)
Happy 4 months buddy! Our cup overflows!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Demme Learning's Math-U-See Digital Pack-A Review

Math is by far Evan's favorite subject, so we were very excited to review the Alpha level Digital Pack of Math-U-See by Demme Learning. Thanks to the generosity of Demme Learning we also received a full physical set as well! Math-U-See is a complete K-12 skill-based, multi-sensory curriculum with video instruction.

The Alpha Digital Pack was a win for us. For little learners, the online computer aspect adds a whole new level of interaction and really complements the concepts they are learning. For homeschooling teachers, the online instructional videos are ready to go at your fingertips and the quick and easy streaming saves the step of maneuvering a DVD. The digital pack and online interface also allows you to print off worksheets for extra practice, and easily access other downloads like skip counting songs. If I'm being honest the style of the songs isn't my cup of tea, but to each his own!

The Alpha Digital Pack is available to purchase for $38, which is a nice cost effective alternative to the physical, universal set. It does not include the student workbook, but does come with...

-12-Month Access to streaming instruction videos
-Instruction Manual PDF
-Lesson Solutions
-Skip Counting Songs mp3
-Songbook PDF
-Digital Manipulatives
Pictured above is Mr. Steve Demme. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the teacher of the online lessons, which are also available in the parent instruction DVD. I have never used this type of platform in our homeschool or even as a "teach the teacher" tool, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I have to say, I'm a fan of Steve! He explains math in a way that is easy to understand, and you can easily learn and watch alongside your child(in the video he is actually teaching to a first grade class). He is especially engaging to watch and is full of all kinds of tips and tricks that have me wishing he was my high school math teacher! Since math is not my forte, I can imagine this type of video instruction would be especially handy when approaching higher math.

Another key feature of the Digital Pack is the online manipulatives.  Math-U-See’s integer blocks are a cornerstone component of its "Build-Write-Say" method, and are great for helping the tactile learner see and understand what the numbers mean. For younger kids I would prefer to use the physical manipulatives, but as they grow older and your supply closet shrinks, these digital manipulatives provide a convenient alternative. Also, if you happen to have a baby or crawler in the house and want to avoid small choking hazards, the digital set is an excellent solution.

Here is Evan using the physical units...
and below is a screenshot of the online manipulatives. The integer blocks and Mr. Steve's "Decimal Street" illustration have been so helpful in bringing to life the concept of place value. Getting hands on and adding that extra digital layer to each lesson really helps it to "click."

One last thing to note is that Math-U-See is a sequential and mastery based program. Primer is generally the starting place for kindergarten math, and covers numbers adding to 10, telling time, and an introduction to subtraction. The next set, Alpha, focuses largely on place value, addition, and subtraction.The Beta level teaches regrouping for addition and subtraction. Gamma teaches multiplication, and so on.  

We had fun reviewing the Alpha Digital Pack(yes, math can be fun!) and will enjoy using our Math-U-See products beyond the time of this review. 

To read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, please click the banner below:

And, be sure to check out Math-U-See on social media!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mathusee

Instagram: https://instagram.com/mathusee/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mathusee  @mathusee #​mathusee #homeschoolmath​ #hsreview

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/mathusee

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Faith Builders Bible, a TOS Review

Thanks to the TOS review crew I am excited to share with you another review on a product we had the privilege of using in our homeschool. The Faith Builders Bible by Zonderkidz is a great fit for creative kids who love learning God's word and building bricks. Of course, I'm excited about any material that encourages a love of scripture and the bible, and the Faith Builders Bible is an awesome resource that does just that. On top of that, what kid doesn't love legos?!
This bible comes in the NIrV version, which is short for the New Readers International Version. Because our family is partial to the ESV, I found it very helpful that they included a good description of this new version in its introduction. It is a simplified version of the NIV geared especially towards children and new readers, written on about a third grade level with easier words and shorter sentences, and in a nice font(.9) size. Two other very important technical details--it lays flat when open, and is perfect backpack size!

Here's a comparison of Romans 8:28:

In the ESV... "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,  for those who are called according to his purpose."

In the NIrV... "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose." 

Johns 3:16 reads "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. Anyone who believes in Him will not die but will have eternal life." 

Included in its 24 full color pages of illustrations is this "Building with Books of the Bible" page. This stuck out to me as an excellent visual for children seeking to understand the order and divisions of the Old and New Testaments. We are currently working on memorizing the order of the New Testament books for our church's AWANA club, so this has become a handy reference! There's also a great dictionary at the end which is so helpful for a little learner.
We also especially enjoyed the "Can you build" pages that feature specific bible verses complete with a simple hands on building project. My son is almost 6, and was immediately engaged with these focused building pages-he wanted to do all of them at once!
Outside of school Evan proudly totes this bible to the AWANA club at our local church. Each week he is required to memorize and say a specific scripture verse. This bible has been a great resource to refer to as we learn God's word together. And it doesn't hurt to reinforce the lesson with some fun, hands on brick building! Overall I have been very impressed with this bible and would say it's a great way to introduce young children to a love of the scriptures.
This product is hard cover and available for $24.99. Take a look at what my fellow crew members thought of the Faith Builders Bible by clicking on the banner below.
And, check out Zondervan on social media at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zonderkidz/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/zonderkidz