Friday, July 25, 2014

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms {Schoolhouse Review}

I must admit I am the biggest fan of Apologia materials.  Each time I see the Apologia vendor pop-up on the Schoolhouse Review list, I make sure not to miss filling it out. They have the best homeschooling materials and the best inspirational books for Homeschooling parents like me.  Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate is no exception.

Mary Jo Tate has been through a lot in her lifetime.  She was left alone, a single Mom with four very young sons to raise.  It was her need to survive, to make it through and make a good life for her sons that lead her to the concept behind Flourish and later the writing of this wonderful book.

Mary Jo Tate is a survivor.  She took skills that she knew she had and turned to them when most people would wallow in self-pity, in order to make a life for herself and her sons.  She wanted to be home with her boys when they needed her most and she didn't want her job to prevent that.  So Mary Jo did what she knew best and began to use her editing skills to create her own business to make ends meet.

As people began to question how she did it all, she explained that she wasn't a SuperMom but simply a Mom who had a need.  She quickly learned that if she wanted to succeed she'd need to get out of her comfort zone.  Once she did she began to Flourish!

As written within the book, "Flourish means to grow vigorously, luxuriate, be revived or abound." (Flourish by Mary Jo Tate, page 6)

When you flourish, you thrive.  This then trickles down into the lives of others.  Particularly, into the lives of your family.

Balancing life is hard.  Mary Jo Tate knows that all too well.  She struggled in life until she began to find her own way to flourish and through this book she hopes to help other Mom's like her, like me and you, flourish too.

As a bonus this book is filled with encouraging quotes and notes from great minds and Moms as well.  These inspiring tidbits are wonderful reminders and full of positive thoughts.  All are there to help us thrive through the trials of life until we flourish on our own.

This book contains 16 chapters, each of which focus on a different aspect to encourage Moms like you and I to grow and to make our own lives flourish.  There are over 250 pages to help you learn to Flourish in your own life. There are two additional appendixes in the back of the book as well.  Appendix A shares recommended resources to use with the book.  Appendix B shares forms for planning to be used along with the book as well.  As with all Apologia books, there is also an additional website sharing book extras that will be a welcoming surprise to any Mom.

I cannot begin to explain the encouragement found within the pages of this book.  This book is designed to help you learn to balance your life.  The goal is to help you make the most of your personal and business life and to find balance together.  It will help you set goals and find ways to limit interruptions to make the most of your day to day.

 If you are a Mom who is struggling to find balance in life, then this is a must read for you.  If you are a Homeschooler who is looking for encouragement, this is definitely a book for you.  If you need a welcoming reminder that being a homeschooling Mom is where you should be, then, yes this book is for you too!

Flourish will help each of us to find balance, to find Faith, to find so much more than you could even begin to imagine in the days of our homeschool lives.

You can purchase your own copy of Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate from Apologia for $15 plus shipping costs.  This book is for Mom's of all ages.  This is a must read book for any Homeschooling Momma and it will speak right to your heart.  Get it today!

You can also find Flourish and Mary Jo Tate in the following places online:

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Build Your Own Bundle Now!!!

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  Have you seen the Build Your Own Bundle Sale?  This sale is specifically designed for Homeschoolers.  There are bundles for every age group!  Check out the banners below and click the one that fits you best!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HomeSchoolPiano {Schoolhouse Review}

Have you always wanted to learn piano at home?  How about your children?  Look no further than HomeSchoolPiano!

HomeSchoolPiano allows you to learn piano in the comfort of your own home and at your own pace.  This program is a complete piano training program for all ages, young and old.  And it's easy to use.

HomeSchoolPiano requires you to join their program online where you will be given instant access to the Homeschool Piano: Complete Set of Books which includes the CorePiano program and also three other lesson books:
Book 1: Perfect for Beginners
Book 2: Building A Foundation
Book 3: Unlocking the Pianist Within

CorePiano teaches the student the basics of piano before they start using the HomeSchoolPiano lesson books.  This program contains 33 lessons that can be reviewed at any time by the students.  Each lesson teaches something unique to piano playing.  The goal in this program is to ensure the student has the best experience possible while using the HomeSchoolPiano curriculum.

This book is perfect for the beginning pianist.  It teaches the student about the basics of piano playing.  You learn keys, notes and rests in this book.  You are also provided an activity book which is printable to use along with this book and a download of Jam Tracks for book 1.

Book 1 contains 6 units.  Each unit lesson contains the necessary tools for completion.  You can download videos and audio for the lesson and you can watch videos online to complete the lessons.  There are also quizzes throughout the ensure the student is learning the materials taught in the program.

Book 2 further expands on piano learning beginning with Baseline and left hand finger independence.  This helps to establish blue's based music.  Rhythms and melodies are also covered within this book.

Book 2 is also broken down into 6 units.  These units are broken into smaller lessons in each which cover important skills for piano playing.  There are downloads and videos for each part of the lessons in each unit.

Book 3 introduces triplets and chord symbols used in Piano.  Further expansion of the Bassline is covered and Arpeggios are introduced.  In the last unit, Voice Leading is also covered.

Like the other two books in this program, this book also contains 6 units broken into lessons.  It also contains downloads and videos to watch as you learn.  This is the last book in the lesson series.

Each of the videos provided in the lessons in the books above provide the student with a thorough lesson on Piano covering the topic being taught.  The student is expected to listen to the instructor talk about the lesson and to complete the exercises and activities within the lesson.  At the end of each unit the student should be able to perform a song specific to the lesson itself.

The videos vary in length so time for the lesson will also vary in length.  Plus these lessons are self-paced and can be replayed as needed to build performance skills and to help practice the skills learned within the lesson.  Typical to any online video, lessons can be skipped forward and backward easily to repeat any section that may have been difficult for the student to understand or that the student may simply need to repeat a few times to visually see the technique used in the lesson.

HomeSchoolPiano is an extracurricular curriculum program designed to be used several times a week or however often you see fit.  It can be used with multiple students making it easy to use with everyone in your family.  The lessons can be viewed anywhere at any time.  The lessons can be viewed on any phone, tablet or computer as needed by your students.  The only thing required for this program is the device to play the lessons and a piano of some kind to implement the activities being taught during the lessons.

HomeSchoolPiano follows a 6 step cycle to teach it's lessons.  The steps are Technique, Rhythm, Ear Training, Reading Music, Song and Improvisation.  This works together to provide a thorough unit lesson and learning.

We used HomeSchoolPiano several days a week for the review period.  We had a few weeks that we did not use it as much as I'd like due to summer activities we've had going on but the kids were able to easily use and learn a lot from this program in that time period.  Winston (13) and Emmalee (11) were able to easily follow along.  Laycie (6) needed a bit of help from Mommy for lessons she completed but she enjoyed the things she did work on.

HomeSchoolPiano has two packaging prices for purchasing:
The Success Package is a one time payment of $299.  This gives you life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano's website lessons, as well as all the downloads that go along with it for up to 5 students.  That includes the downloads, jam tracks and sheet music for every lesson!

The Payment Plan package allows you the same access as the Success Package but it allows you to pay for the program in three easy installations of $99.97 for 3 months.

You can find HomeSchoolPiano online in the following places:

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Build Your Own Bundle!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Balancing Life {Epilepsy Awareness}

It has been a year since Jackson's battle with Severe Involuntary Breath Holder Spells with Epilepsy began.  Time has passed quickly, yet there are days when I still feel suspended in time.  This year has been hard on our family but we are still moving forward.

It's hard for me to believe that a year has passed since this journey began for us.  I can tell you that each time you find out your child has some disorder, it sucker punches you deep in the gut.  Having multiple children with health issues doesn't make it easier and you genuinely hope with each child that they will be healthy and "normal" like children should be.

We are finally at a point in our lives where we are able to breath again and are finding balance.  Jackson's last medicine increase has his breath holding spells controlled for the most part and seizures have decreased with the decrease of IBHS episodes.  I could not be more thankful for this reprieve no matter how short it may be.

When you have children with disabling health issues, it becomes hard to function and plan your day to day activities because you do not know what to expect or even how to plan since you cannot guess when a seizure or spell will happen to them.  Events get cancelled, schoolwork is put off, living becomes second to surviving.  This has been our life for the last year.

At this stage, I've learned that seasons are short and each quiet period must be packed with catching up on the things we've had to put off.  Housekeeping is done in these time periods, restoring balance to the home so that we are ready for the next unsteady path.  Schoolwork is also done during these times so that when needed breaks come we do not fall behind.  Life and living come first for a while and surviving does become second even for a brief time.

After living this year surviving, we are ready to live life again and move forward, hoping the days remain balanced and settled for a while.  Whatever happens, I will take what I can get and enjoy these moments while we have them for they are gone all too quickly.

Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music {Review}

Experience History Through Music from Diana Waring Presents

If you are in search of a great program to bring life to your American History program, look no further than Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music collection.  These three amazing books are jam-packed with great songs, stories, and more to be used as an accessory product to any American History curriculum.  Experience History Through Music is like taking a trip back in time.

Diana Waring is the author of the History Revealed world history curriculum.  Her educational philosophy is that "the key to education is relationship".  Diana began homeschooling her children in the early 80's and continued to do so all the way through high school.  While searching for a great history curriculum, she was unable to find a program that suited her family, so she decided to create her own.  Over time she shared this curriculum with others and that eventually led her to publish it so homeschoolers every where could use the programs.

Diana has an extensive background in music which she has shared with her family.  Her grandfathers on both sides had unique musical talents and passed their love of music on to Diana.  This lead to her learning to play several instruments early on in life: clarinet, oboe, and even guitar.  Her musical talents led to her learning the beautiful folk songs that she shares with her in her Experience History Through Music series.  Her first book was actually an early version of America from this very series.

Experience History Through Music is not an actual curriculum.  It is instead a supplementary program which can be used as an addition to any curriculum or can stand alone on it's own.  There is no set schedule for using this program and while using it, you won't even realize you are learning!  It's simply a fun way to introduce History to students through music.

Each of the books in the Experience History Through Music program focuses on a different aspect and time period of American History.  The program contains three print books with CD's.  Each book is unique to it's time period.  Inside each book you will find dozens of gorgeous images, stories to connect each of the songs to the piece of history it's linked to, sheet music and more.  The CD's are professional recordings of the songs shared within each book.

America 1750-1890: The Heart of a New Nation
This book in the series begins by sharing Folk music that dates back to the Revolution and onto through colonial days of early American History.  Beginning with Yankee Doodle, this book shares the background of the song along with an image appropriate to the song's time period.  The book is formatted to share the stories of the songs, then later share the song's sheet music and lyrics in the second section of the book.

America is my favorite of the series set.  This book is filled with some of my favorites from American History and I could listen to it again and again.  I sing a reworded version of Yankee Doodle to Jackson as his song, changing the lyrics to fit to my Jackson-Doodle.  Erie Canal is another favorite that we have found is hard to locate to listen to so we were thrilled to see it included with this curriculum.  She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain is a song I used to sing while waiting for the schoolbus every morning when I attended public school in the late 80's- early 90's.  Listening to this CD brings back so many childhood memories!

Westward Ho!  The Heart of the Old West
This book covers history from the earliest days of the Old West.  It is formatted in the same form as America and filled with stories and pictures to learn from.  Many of these songs were new to us but we greatly enjoyed them.  Westward Ho! and Home On The Range were childhood favorites of mine which I loved sharing with the kids.  We learned a lot about America's past from this book!

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
This book focuses on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and music from her lifetime.  This book is written by William Anderson who is a biographer for Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Photographs shared within this book come from Leslie A. Kelly, the internationally known Little House photographer.  Many of these songs were also new to me, though some I had heard on the tv series about Mrs. Wilder's books.  Some of my childhood favorites are Buffalo Gals, Pop! Goes the Weasel and Sweet By and By.  These songs also evoked great memories that I was happy to share with my family.

Since this book in the series concentrates solely on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, this book would make a great accessory to anyone reading her books and learning about this time period of life through history related to Laura.  The book is filled with images and stories about Laura's life.  It was wonderful to see this beautifully designed book share so much about such an inspiring person!

We have loved listening and learning from the Experience History Through Music series.  This is something we have played over and over both at home and in the car while traveling.  It's been enjoyed by every member of our family.  The kids love to look over the great images in the books and we have had many discussions of the stories on the pages within.

Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music series can be purchased for $18.99 per book in the set.  If you purchase the set during July (at the time of this posting),  you can bundle the set and purchase it for $50.  This amazing series is worth every penny and can be used again and again in your home!  I am sure your family will enjoy these books just as much as we have in our homes!

You can find Diana Waring Presents online in the following places:
Twitter: @DianaWaring

Friday, July 11, 2014

WriteShop {Schoolhouse Review}

WriteShop is another of our curriculum favorites.  WriteShop is a top of the line writing curriculum for kids.  This program beats any other I have used.  For this review, we received a copy of WriteShop Primary: Book C e-Book Set to use.

WriteShop is easy for kids to understand and also easy for parents to put to use.  The program features packages for Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade with different levels to fit your student's needs.  WriteShop covers writing for everyone!

WriteShop Primary: Book C Set is for students in 2nd-3rd grade and remedial 4th graders.  If you're unsure if this level is right for your child, there is a placement test available to help you choose!  This simple and quick test will help you place your child into the correct level of WriteShop for them.

WriteShop Primary: Book C Set comes with both a teacher's manual and one set of the student activity sheets pack.  These can be ordered in print or as an e-Book set.  I chose the e-Book set because I am able to reprint it for home use as many times as needed.  This allows us to redo any worksheets that my children may not understand and to print the lesson for multiple students.  This is great for us since my older children work on the same level for school lessons.

Both the teacher and student activity sheet pack for Book C are adorable.  They are filled with cute animals throughout to help make the lessons fun.  This also helps keep students and teachers from getting bored with the program.  Imagery is used throughout for this purpose.

The teacher's guide discusses how the program works.  It helps you set up lessons that work for you and your students.  It suggests ideas to help in the process of teaching the lessons.  It provides ideas for extra work and games as well.  The guide is thorough and easy to understand for even the most inexperienced of teachers.

WriteShop also helps you to set up a plan for your lessons covering more than one student on differing levels so that you, the teacher, are not overwhelmed with teaching multiple students.  This is a great help for Mom's like me who has multiple students on one level and another student on a lower level of the program.  Because of the suggestions in the program, I was able to create a plan that worked great for us to use at home.

WriteShop also helps you to set up a Writing Center for use in lessons as well.  The Writing Center helps to promote better writing skills in students.  This can be a permanent or portable station for you to use.

In the Writing Center, students can find a manuscript writing chart, cursive chart, and upper and lower case letters.  There should also be paper of various types, mostly lined.  A children's thesaurus and dictionary is also suggested for this center.  And don't forget writing tools such as crayons, pens and pencils! Putting all these things into one place makes learning easier for your students.  There are a great many additional suggestions for a Writing Center shared within the teacher's guide for Book C.

Every WriteShop lesson has a focus and a theme.  The focus provides an important skill to be taught.  The theme helps make the focus interesting and fun.  These work together to provide a great lesson that keep students interested.

In the teacher's guide, you will find objectives listed at the beginning of each lesson.  You will also find a list of needed supplies and before-hand prep to be done to make the lessons flow smoothly.  Utilize this as it's there to help keep you organized and ready to go.

The 254 page teacher's guide covers everything you need to complete your WriteShop lessons.  The plans are extensive and are easily implemented in your home studies.  It can be printed for use by the purchaser only to be used for lessons at home.

The student activity sheet pack is 25 pages in length and can be printed for use as home for multiple students as needed.  This activity pack provides all the worksheets to be used for the lessons taught in the teacher's guide.  They are complementary in design and fun for students to use.  An evaluation chart is provided in the back of the student activity pack to help you evaluate how much your student has learned and see where additional practice is needed.  

WriteShop Primary: Level C Set is available for purchase for $35.95 in print or $29.50 as an e-book which is what I used for this review.  Additionally, the Student Activity Sheet Pack for Book C can be purchased in print for $5.95 or as an e-Book for $4.50.

You can also find WriteShop in the following places online:

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