O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Psalms 43:3

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. D&C 88:118

The kids

The kids

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Planning… do I have to? or should that be I get to!

I tend not to be a super planner. Over the years I have noticed that there are many who have every moment of every school day planned. I have tried and tried and tried to do that and I fail every time! I can’t make it all come out in the end. Even though I have tried to take each text, divide by my days of school, create lesson plans, etc. We always take far longer to explore a topic than book makers suggest or we manage for 6 weeks and then get so frustrated with the boredom of list checking to match the schedule that we throw it out the window. In the past that has always bothered me. Now I realize that that is how we learn. We don’t want to brush across the top of something. We like to learn something, work on it for a while, take a break for a while and work on something else, and then come back and continue. It has took me 2 years to get through The Story of the World 2. Oh well. We had fun doing it!
So, how do I plan?
First there is the day. I plan it with the large blocks of time. First is breakfast and family work, then devotional and group learning. Then we do our individual learning time for a couple of hours. Lunch is usually about noon. Somewhere between 1 and 2 we have quiet time for an hour or two so everyone can read quietly or play quietly. Then we have evening activities or free time.
Second their is school planning. With things like math or reading, it is easy- we just do the next thing. With things like history and science, I just focus on the time. Monday I will do History. Tuesday I will do Science. Wednesday I will do History, Thursday I will do Science. Friday is a flexible day for co-op, park day, field trips, etc. In this way, we plan to do the next thing for a period of time rather than a specific lesson each day. If we cover one lesson, great! If we cover 2 lessons, great! It doesn’t matter the quantity. What matters is the quality. If I read quality books on a topic and we discuss what we learned, and we only get through half a lesson but we were all engaged and learning was exciting, then I have accomplished my planned goals. At this point my goal is to give my children a broad base, love of learning, and thirst for knowledge. I have found that doing the next thing is the best way to plan my days. I also will plan to throw in extra things during our group time. It might be a video clip from somewhere like Zane Education or a scavenger hunt for information about a day in history from This Day in History. It might be something the family needs to work on or a story I found I want to read to everyone.
There is another kind of planning though- that is my goals for learning. My goal for my children is not to say that we finished book x, book y, and book z this year. My goal is to teach them a broad range of subjects, get them excited and continue them on the path to being life-long learners who will be successful in the world and accomplish their missions and goals. This is where mentor meetings, prayer, and meetings with my husband come in. This is where we tweak subjects, find new ones to satisfy needs as we go along, and find great books. In order to achieve the broad picture, I am constantly refining how we do things. I also set smaller goals for our family.
After I have figured out my smaller goals, I turn to all sorts of resources. My best planning resources are book lists of classics like those found on Ambleside Online, Veritas Press, Old Fashioned Education, 1000 Good Book List, School of Abraham, other homeschooling parents, resources like the Story of the World activity guides or TruthQuest, and the library catalog.
Planning doesn’t have to be complicated- it needs to work for the family. For us, I find that a rough plan of our day with lots of flexibility works best. Others find that a very rigid schedule works best.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Too Many Choices! Which ones have I picked?

All homeschoolers know that there are many choices for curriculum available. I have tried many and looked through even more. So, what will I be doing/using this year?
First I will be using my library card. My local library is my biggest source for homeschool materials. Just this past week my girls decided they wanted to learn about snails. I popped on the library website, reserved a handful (or three) of books about snails and picked them up a few days later. July  2012 001 Some of those books are ones I would have never thought of or found without the library search function. Above, Butterfly is devouring a book I found while looking for books about snails. She read it at breakfast, lunch, in the car, quiet time, etc. until she had it memorized.
I always have 50-100 books out of the library at a time covering all subjects from history to science to literature. I also love to check out audio books that I can play in the car while we drive both on CD or as an mp3 download. Ebooks have also recently become a great friend as well. Many of the classics are now public domain and I can get them on my kindle now.
I have my core curriculum materials, but these will be supplemented with anything I find that is great- games, books, etc. Some of them will come from Crew Reviews that I have yet to be picked for and some will come from things I stumble upon.
For our group time, I will be using a few resources. We will continue our journey through time using Story of the World Volume 3 and This Week in History for history (review will be coming mid-August). For science, we are continuing our study of Botany using Apologia Botany and the notebooks. 
Tiger will continue to work on Art of Problem Solving pre-Algebra and Alcumus, Small Basic computer programming,  IXL which I reviewed here, various logic books from the Critical Thinking Company, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Piano,
Butterfly will be continuing with Math U See Gamma as well as IXL, art, and stories for language arts subjects as well as projects she is interested in.
Pumpkin Pie will continue learning to read and write as well as continue in her math studies with IXL and Math U See Alpha.
Strawberry will be in the midst of it all with her puzzles, books, and crayons.
Our extracurricular activities will also continue with karate, piano for Tiger and art for Butterfly as well as a co-op once a week.

A Method to my Madness

This week the Schoolhouse Review Crew is doing a Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. Come hop along with us as we talk about getting back to homeschool.

As I have mentioned before, I set out to be a classical homeschooler. Over time, my style has evolved. I have included unit studies, child-led studies, and exploration. I have used classes and parent-led groups as well. Over time, I became a more eclectic homeschooler than I originally thought I would be when I set out to homeschool my children.

I don’t think it matters what method is used though. Every family will do what works for them. I think that what matters is the philosophy behind the education. This philosophy will shape the way whatever method chosen is used. While I may have evolved into an eclectic homeschooler, I have also evolved in my philosophy. Rather than a philosophy of teach the children all the things they need to get through each grade and compete with their peers, I focus on the grand picture. I have adopted a Leadership Education philosophy.

Leadership Education believes that all people on earth have a mission in life. It is our responsibility as parents to help our children prepare for and live the mission which God has placed them on this earth for. It is also our responsibility as a citizen of the world to live and prepare for our own missions, knowing that parenthood is our primary mission but God has other missions for us to do as well. In order to prepare, each person must acquire a great education. This education is achieved through hard work and dedication on the part of the student. Education is the responsibility of the student- teaching is the responsibility of the teacher/mentor/parent/etc.

How do I use this philosophy to influence my method?

School is no longer defined as a check list of subjects covered on a given day. School has evolved into a lifestyle. Someone asked my husband when Tiger did school. My husband answered he was always in school and never in school. Just today Pumpkin Pie asked me if we would ever have summer break like many other children. Once I explained why we didn’t have Summer vacation, she was thrilled. Tiger lamented that he had a burning desire to spend more time learning and wanted to also take advantage of some of the time his public schooled friends were home and available to play. He recognizes now that learning time doesn’t need to take a break for the calendar. He was not upset about spending time for learning. He was trying to figure out how to feel satisfied and fulfilled with his learning each day and balance some play time in too. Wow! What a grown up thing to be working on.

In the past, we have take summer breaks to some extent. This never sat entirely well with me, but now I understand why. We are not just teaching our children through a grade. We are teaching them to love learning and to learn something new each day. Even if our day is filled with a park day with our homeschooling friends there are lessons being learned. For example, last Friday at park day, the children observed and explored a large nest of caterpillars which had fallen from a tree. The week before it was snails which prompted a trip to the library for many books about snails.

So if I don't have a checklist, what do I do?

As I plan our days, I now look at how my end goals for my children will be accomplished. I no longer look at each grade level to determine curriculum choices. Instead, I discuss with my husband as well as Tiger and to a lesser extent my girls what topics need to be covered. I don’t discuss with the girls as much because they are currently working on Core Phase and early Love of Learning phases while Tiger is slowly transitioning to Scholar.  This means that the amount of input they have into their materials is proportional to their level of maturity. I present materials and topics which I know will be important for their futures. I spend time working with the girls on math, reading, spelling, handwriting, and reading lots and lots of classics. I provide Tiger with resources for math, computer programming, science, writing, and lots and lots of classics. I provide all the children with history and science as well as expose them to great art, music, etc. where possible. I also allow time for those things which they are passionate about. For example, Tiger is passionate about piano and science and math. He spends a lot of time on these areas of learning. He dreams of being an engineer and he finds peace and grounding in his piano playing. I have sought out a mentor for his piano to help him achieve his goals. Butterfly loves art. I am not able to mentor her in art (my idea of drawing a person is a stick man), so I have found a teacher who can mentor her and encourage her in her creativity.
I also teach my children to look towards their missions and to learn new things every day.

This year I will be focusing on teaching my children to plan their days and set goals. We have mentor meetings once a week to set goals for their education. A goal for Pumpkin Pie might be to read 10 Bob books this week. A goal that Tiger is currently working on is to read 15 books in the month of July in an effort to complete 100 books by the end of this year. These books are not simple picture books but classics, biographies, and non-fiction. I work with them to help them achieve their goals.

For more information on Leadership Education or Thomas Jefferson Education, I recommend http://www.tjed.org/about-tjed/ as well as looking through the blog on that website. To really understand the philosophy, I recommend reading A Thomas Jefferson Education, A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion, and Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Schoolhouse Teachers.com Review- Schoolhouse Review

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I am blessed receive access to SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
The most difficult part of Schoolhouse Teachers is figuring out what to do! The Old Schoolhouse, which is well known for its quality magazine, has taken on a new project and has worked very hard to create a one stop website at a low cost to cover as many subject bases, ages, stages, and needs as possible. At $5.95 per month or $64.26 for the year, Schoolhouse Teachers is an inexpensive resource for homeschooling no matter what style or methods, ages, or stages of your family. Every month's lessons are planned and prepared by various curriculum authors. For example, historical figures with Cathy Diez-Luckie from Figures in Motion, Lapbooking about a monthly theme with Kimm Bellotto from Hands of a Child, Writing lessons with Kim Kautzer from WriteShop, and Geography with Terri Johnson from Knowledge Quest. In addition to the lessons, there are reading book lists, planners, ebooks, back issues of the TOS magazines, and in the future Expo downloads, and free TOS ebooks each month. There are so many resources on SchoolhouseTeachers.com that at times it can be overwhelming. The site tour will help with knowing what is available.

View sample pages of many things from high school math to music lessons to the incredible planners here. I am amazed at the creativity of the various lessons available as well as the dedication of the teachers. For example, the Economics lesson archives include "Chocolate Economics" and "Pirate Economics." Some assignments even include grading by the teacher if the answers are emailed to him. The Pre-K activities are mini-units on great children's books. For example this month one of the books is If you Give a Mouse a Cookie...

There are so many parts to Schoolhouse Teachers that I really am struggling to do the site justice. In order not to write a thesis on this website, I will only highlight three of the areas that I really like. This is not an exhaustive list of parts I like though- just a sampling.

The first area I am excited about is the planners. I have been printing pages of the Primary Planner so Tiger can plan his days. The Schoolhouse Planner is almost 800 pages with the usual calendars, field trip logs, and planning pages, but it also has articles on homeschooling, meal planning pages, chore charts (with cute graphic cutouts for kids), garden planning and other home keeping pages like appliance and repair records and gift ideas. The Schoolhouse Planner is a one-stop print what is relevant place for all things planning for the next year. There are five different planners available including ones for middle school, high school, and special needs.

I also really like the Schoolhouse Dailies Everyday Easels. The Everyday Easels includes an art lesson and information about a piece of work. It is not always a painting. For example one week it was a Tiffany stained glass window. Each week a piece of work is highlighted and then each day there is something to explore or a craft to do that is related to that piece of work. Many times the activities are broken down into grades K-2, 3-6, and 7-12 so the whole family can participate in the lessons. In the fall I intend to take better advantage of this particular section of the website during our group time!

The monthly lapbook lessons from Hands of a Child are a fun resource for themed enrichment. A few months ago the theme was England. While we didn't do the lapbook or all of the lessons, we used the resources presented to go on a tour of Buckingham Palace and learn the history of some of the monarchy. The lapbooking units are a great source of fun websites at your fingertips or a brief detour in the current studies.

At $1 for the first month, I recommend trying out Schoolhouseteachers.com and exploring what a great resource it is.  Be sure to see what other crew members have to say- they are sure to highlight something I missed.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zane Education: Schoolhouse Review


Zane Education is a subscription website with literally thousands of educational videos covering topics from Art to Zoology and elementary to adult levels. For a complete list of videos available, a pdf is available under Video Catalouge. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was blessed with a 1 year Gold subscription to Zane Education. The Gold Subscription includes access to all videos, quizzes, reference tools, Zane Learning Catalogue, and Christian Home Learning Guide and costs $197.89 per year. Through the end of August 2012, Zane is offering a 35% discount to my blog readers for any Gold, Silver or Bronze 12-month membership. Use the code ZE784HSM at checkout (case sensitive). 

Zane Education is not a new company. They have been around for many years. Many of their videos have been used in schools and home markets since 1989. Zane has taken all of the videos created over the years and compiled them into Flash videos on one website to allow for better compatibility with changing operating systems and computers. Zane works with tablets which support Flash as well. I received word from the Director of the company that one of the projects currently being undertaken is to convert all videos to MPEG4 in order to accommodate iPad users. 

There are many things that set Zane apart from other educational videos. One is the lack of cartoon animation. Another is the "Missing Piece," or subtitles. The inclusion of subtitles helps make these videos accessible to all students. By reading along with the voice over, the student is using more senses to learn and becomes more engaged. More information on why Zane uses subtitles can be found here.

When a video is selected, the page redirects to the video page. The page includes a short summary about what will be learning in the video as well as a list of learning objectives. The video appears to have clickable buttons within it, but these have been disabled. Instead, the glossary is found to the right of the video in the Video Learning Tools menu. There is also a downloadable Lesson Plan Guide as well as the online quiz for the video or video collection if it is part of a series of videos. During the video, the student will notice highlighted words in various colors. These words are found in the Video Word Glossary. Following the video (usually a series of videos in a given topic), the student can click on the online quiz to test his comprehension. After each quiz, the student is shown all correct and incorrect answers as well as an explanation of the correct answers. These results are not maintained by the website, although they can be printed if desired. 

There are some videos which are not appropriate for younger children, namely those in the sex education category. Also, some videos do contain some evolutionary content. As with all videos, it is a good idea to preview materials before turning children lose on them.

The first thing I noticed about some of the videos was that some of the voices seemed like voices I heard on cartoons and videos as a child. Some of the pictures likewise appeared to be more vintage. In a day and age where everything flashes and voices talk so fast, I appreciate the slower more soothing pace of the videos. Many are not live action video but are pictures with voice over, appropriate music, and subtitles. It was after noticing these characteristics that I discovered that Zane has had a history in the educational market. My children tend to really enjoy the older cartoons and really liked the pace of the videos on Zane. They also liked the voices.There are some live-action videos as well. I did find it odd that there were buttons on the videos that appeared clickable which were not. I also was a little disappointed that I couldn't make the videos any larger. Overall, we loved Zane Education videos. All of the children enjoyed watching videos. We watched videos on music, botany, history, and music to name a few. Butterfly also really wanted to take some of the quizzes. Although many of the videos are labeled as middle school or higher, we didn't limit ourselves to elementary school videos only and the children did fine with the higher grade videos.

With its large breadth of subjects and levels, Zane dovetails beautifully as an enrichment tool to any curriculum or method. It was wonderful to do a quick search for various topics we came across in our school time to watch a short video on Zane. I highly recommend these videos.

Be sure to find out what the other Crew Members thought by clicking the banner below.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fire Breathing Dragon

Yesterday Tiger came to me with the Usborne Book of Science Experiments and asked if he could do one of them. Sure! This time it was the Fire Breathing Dragon. July  2012 010
He took a jar, taped some eyes, tail, claws, etc to it. Then added vinegar, dishsoap, and food coloring to the jar. Then he dropped some baking soda in… July  2012 011
And watched the age old reaction occur.  I don’t think kids ever get tired of watching baking soda and vinegar react!
July  2012 012July  2012 013July  2012 014 July  2012 015     July  2012 016 July  2012 017  July  2012 019

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TimeMaps by Knowledge Quest- Schoolhouse Review


TimeMaps by Knowledge Quest is an interactive historical map program. Knowledge Quest explains the purpose so much better than I can. From their website:
The goal of TimeMaps is to communicate history in a truly engaging way. To do this, we use a combination of timelines, historical maps and encyclopedic entries merged together to deliver authoritative content that can be digested in an enjoyable way. TimeMaps are computer software files that use Flash - a free program from Adobe. Maps are shown in chronological order at the click of a button and progress at your timing, showing how civilizations, countries and continents have changed over time. Quizzes and encyclopedic entries are included and can be turned on and off at your discretion. TimeMaps are a work in progress with many Ancient and Medieval civilizations having reached completion with more historical topics on the way.
There are seven total maps available at this time. They are: Ancient China, Rise of Rome, Fall of Rome, Rise of Islam, The Black Death, European Exploration, and The Atlantic Slave Trade. Each map program consists of a series of maps which add more details and information as time (shown in the right corner) goes by. The little i in the picture below indicates that more information is available for that area. The quizzes not only test the understanding of the material but also encourage critical thinking. Each map can be purchased individually for $9.95 or all together for $44.95  for the bundle (The CD is $5 more plus shipping).

PhotobucketTimeMaps is not a flashy interactive program but a series of interactive slides. It is full of information and gives a very clear picture of the movement of people and events that affected the various aspects of History. They require a fair amount of critical thinking in order to fully understand the information presented. I found it fascinating to see how the events played out over time using the maps. My younger children were not very interested, but Tiger also enjoyed them. I think these maps are a great resource to enhance studies for students who are 10+. We are currently studying the beginning of America so many of the maps didn't match with our studies at this time. As a result, they were interesting and engaging, but did not dovetail with our studies. I think that when we are back in the ancient and medieval times and I pull them up again they will be even more interesting and will help create some ah-ha moments.

Be sure to see what the other Crew Members thought about TimeMaps as well as MapTrek.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Christian Keyboarding Schoolhouse Review

PhotobucketWe live in a world that requires keyboarding and word processing skills. These skills have become so valuable that all children truly need to learn to type well if they want to succeed in the world as adults. There are many flashy games available to help teach typing, but there is also an alternative. Keyboarding for the Christian School by Leanne Beitel is the alternative.

I received ebook of the elementary version of Christian Keyboarding to review. Christian Keyboarding takes a different approach to teaching typing than many of the typing programs available today. Rather than giving the students a game with random words to speed type to blast a robot or invader, Christian Keyboarding asks the student to look at a paper and type what is written. There is no timed drills during each lesson, no pressure to beat a clock, no pressure to win a game, and more importantly, quickly the text changes from gibberish "asfd" to more meaningful text like"he said he feels his dad is sad;" in lesson 7. By lesson 10 Biblical excerpts are also included. By removing the competition component, students begin to learn touch typing. Since they are looking away from the computer screen to read the paper they are encouraged to keep their eyes off the keyboard. The last couple of lessons cover word processing topics with screenshots utilizing Microsoft Word.

Tiger was my test subject for Christian Keyboarding. He has wanted more and more to type his work but has been inefficient as a result of a lack of good keyboarding skills. Over the years, he has used various typing tutors but always got so caught up in the game and trying to win that he would read the words and then proceed to look at his fingers to quickly type the answer. My printer was out of ink so we split the computer screen. I placed a blank document to type on on the left side of the screen and then placed the lesson on the right side of the screen to help him with the side looking. After 8 lessons in Christian Keyboarding, I had Tiger go back to his game typing instructor and ran a homerow test on him. Not only did he not feel the need to look at his hands but his speed had jumped from 10-15 wpm to 25-27 wpm with 95-99% accuracy. He was thrilled!  In the past I have taken pieces of cloth and draped them over his hands in an effort to dissuade him from looking at his fingers, but I never once had to remind him to look up. He knew where every key was. On top of the improvement, Tiger enjoys this program more than the games because he doesn't feel stressed. I thought for sure he would balk at such a simple program but he loves it. I regularly find him getting his day started with 10 minutes of typing practice before he moves on to his other subjects. One thing he did not like is after about 10 lessons there is a sentence to be typed that includes a couple of letters that have not yet been taught. Tiger just skipped those sentences since he knows he will learn those letters later. When I asked the author about this, she said that there were only 2 or 3 letters that were not known yet, so go ahead and try the sentence. Tiger did not want to because he didn't want to feel tempted to look at the keys.

While I was a little reluctant about this product, I am so glad we were blessed with it. Christian Keyboarding is simple but effective. It teaches real skills without stress. The one thing I think needs to be improved are the screenshots of the word processing documents. The version of Word used is an older version and an updated version should be included. In addition, these screenshots are not helpful to those who don't have Word. Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary version is $12.95 for the pdf or $45 for a physical book. Overall I was really impressed and intend to continue to use it with Tiger and then with the girls.

Christian Keyboarding has offered a coupon code for 20% off for my readers.
20% off Code: SUMMER2012
Expiration: 8-29-12

Be sure to check out what my the other members of the Crew thought.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary pdf download of Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary Version in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Professor B Math instruction, Schoolhouse Review


What is it?
Professor B Math is an online animated math tutor which has some substantial achievement data and a unique philosophy to teach the whys of math. There are three levels covering all aspects of elementary school math. Each lesson is designed for the parent to sit with the child and read the lesson to the child while a little bee with glasses and bow tie uses a pointer. There are also worksheets which are to be completed after the lessons as well as drills the child is supposed to do every day after the lesson is taught. Occasionally additional materials may be required. For example in level 1 the bee will also ask the "teacher" to gather enough "cubes, rods, and flats" to help the child learn place value. This is referring to the unit, ten, and hundred blocks that are common math manipulatives. Each level of Professor B and each is designed to be used over 10 months and claims each level is equivalent to 3 years of math. Level 1 is for age 3-grade 2 and covers Introduction to Addition and Subtraction Facts, Counting to One Hundred, Lower Addition and Subtraction, Higher Addition and Subtraction, Place Value, Fractional Parts & Order, Time, and Money. Level 2 is for grades 3-5 and covers Multiplication and Division Facts and Problem Solving, Introduction to Fractions, Fractional Equivalence, and Addition and Subtraction of Fractions. Level 3 is grades 6-8 and covers Multiplication and Division of Fractions, Decimals, and Percents.Professor B can be paid for monthly or annually. One level is $20/month, two levels is $35/month, and three levels is $45 per month. This pricing is current as of this review but may change at any time. Not advertised on the website is a price of $100 for 3 years of access to1 level. In order to get this price, customers need to call their customer service number at 678-765-6655. I am told Professor B is working on updating their website but as of the writing of this review it has not been updated.  

What I liked:
  • I liked the variety of topics covered. 
  • Professor B focuses on teaching the why instead of rote memorization of the how.
  • The bee is cute, and the drill games are well done, especially for the earliest lessons. 
  • Each lesson ended with an admonishment to the parent to practice a skill a certain number of times for a certain amount of time. This was followed by a great reminder: "Mastery once obtained must be sustained." 
  • I also liked that the sequence of learning was incremental in a logical fashion. Unlike many math programs, this program is designed to help the parents teach math to their children. 
  • Professor B shows WHY math works the way it does, not just what to do.
  • I like the lack of sound. Today there are too many flashy programs that detract from learning. The lack of sound simplified the program to allow interaction instead of zoning out.

What I didn't like:
  • At times advancing through the slides in the lesson was not as easy as I hoped and sometimes lessons seemed to be so micro-explained that my children were bored and frustrated.
  •  I had to remember which micro-section of a given lesson I was on rather than having my place bookmark. The table of contents in each level is rather lengthy and many sections have several sections. Some of the names sound similar as well. On more than one occasion my child said, "Mom, we already did this one." and I had to go back and find the right section.
  • I  was frustrated with the placement tests. They were only slightly helpful in figuring out where to place my children.The level 3 placement test was the same as the level 2 at the time of this review. Neither had instructions as to how to determine level.
  • When I emailed customer service, I received no response after several days. I emailed again and several weeks have gone by without any response.  I did check my spam folders so I know there was no response sent to me.
  • I found  the way fingers were illustrated in the first couple of lessons in level 1 very odd.  I am not sure why the fingers chosen were used. For example, the 1 finger is the pinky. 3 was depicted in a non-typical arrangement. The child is supposed to copy the pictures with his fingers and at times my daughter found it very difficult to do with her fingers because of the arrangements.

Experience of my children:
The first thing my children asked me was why was there no sound. The funny thing is there is a volume control even though it is designed to be soundless so that the parent interacts with the child. I primarily used level 1 but touched on the other levels with my older children.

Butterfly has reached mulitplication in other math programs but doing the level 1 test showed a few gaps. I decided to have her fill those gaps and then move on to level 2. After trying to teach her to tell time for a couple of years, Professor B taught her in an hour or so. While she did learn to tell time, and at moments she enjoyed the games, she also got frustrated because the video would either be too slow or too fast. It is important to have an adult present to press the pause button while a child is playing the game/drilling the concept to avoid frustration. Although she succeeded in learning to tell time with Professor B, she disliked the program and did not want to continue. The method used to teach multiplication starting with looking at fingers, which were supposed to represent a bundle of sticks, and stating the multiplication facts bothered her. Even though she already knows some of her multiplication facts, she and I both found it a little confusing.

Pumpkin Pie started with level 1. I started her just a tiny bit behind where she has been working because of the methodology of explaining the concepts. She breezed through the first couple of lessons and loved the little games and the oral practice. She also liked the little bee. After the first few lessons, she hit a wall. The idea of looking at a number line and how many spaces between the numbers was not concrete enough for her with regards to subtraction. We needed to pull out manipulatives before Professor B mentioned them  a few lessons later. Initially she really liked Professor B and would ask to do it each day, but then grew frustrated with the instruction and did not want to do it anymore.

I had Tiger do a few lessons in level 3 as he has progressed through all elementary levels of math in other math programs but there was one area I thought would be good to review. Tiger has seen repeating non-terminating (repeating forever) decimals before and been asked to convert to a fraction a handful of times. He was taught a formula but didn't really understand HOW to do it. I showed him the Professor B lesson on this topic. He agonized through the whole lesson. He insisted he knew how to do it already but then when asked various questions by the program, he was incorrect. He grew frustrated with the lack of sound and the slow speed. He felt like the silent movie was talking down to him. Sometimes he would answer and then we had to wait until the rest of the animation to advance to the next slide. A few times I tried to advance to the next slide and then ended up having to back up. I don't know if Tiger gained a better understanding of repeating non-terminating decimals though. It seemed that for him the negatives outweighed the method and he didn't gain much.

While there were many aspects of Professor B I really like, it was not a good fit for any of my children in the end. I think Professor B is very detailed and has the potential to be even better; however I think there are some problems in the program that need to be addressed to make it more user-friendly. These areas are bookmark the stopping point, a supply list for the teacher, an assignment sheet for the teacher since it is difficult to keep track of the multitude of assignments for daily practice, and quicker customer service. I think that Professor B is best suited for a child who is really struggling with math or for a parent to go through and learn how to teach it and then teach the child without the computer. The micro-lessons within each lesson will deliver crumbs of knowledge to the child and eventually the whole bite. For a child that tends to understand mathematical concepts easily, it can be too slow. There are sample lessons available on the website. Professor B also offers a 30 day trial.

Be sure to check out what other Crew members thought to get a good idea of how well it will fit your family.

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary 1 year subscription to all 3 levels of Professor B in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Time for Service

Another homeschooler is working on his Eagle Scout project. What a great opportunity to practice serving others than join a fellow homeschooler work on his Eagle project! All four kids pitched in.
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Thursday, July 5, 2012


As I reflect on our day yesterday, I have the chorus of the Fiddler on the Roof song Tradition running through my head. Happy memories come from traditions. The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. I love fireworks and being with my family. More important though is the 4th of July is the celebration of the birth of the United States of America. I am deeply grateful for the sacrifices made by the men and women who founded our country and for the freedoms we enjoy in this country. I am grateful to be able to worship God according to the dictates of my own conscious as well as for the freedom to educate my children as I know is right for them. 
Yesterday we did all our usual 4th of July traditional things. We went to the parade in town. I love our little parade (which is actually a rather long and big parade). We got there extra early so we could grab a spot in a driveway when they closed the roads. We do this because 1-2 days before the parade, people in town drive downtown and start lining the streets with chairs. They tie their chairs into bundles and put tape across them to mark their spot. They hope those chairs stay until it is time for the parade. The driveways remain free though until the road closes, so that is where we go.
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One of the highlights is the boat of pirates :) They shoot a cannon throughout the parade. They are part of the local celebrations that run all July. Strawberry covered her ears for the "Big Noisy" of the cannons.
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Another hit is the old vehicles. This is an old trash truck. Love the kids in the dump!
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I love fireworks. I used to go to any large fireworks display I could find. I had it all worked out in our old home in California with where to park, where to pitch our blanket, etc. so we could get out fast and avoid the traffic rushes. Here, I haven't even tried to figure it out. Thankfully where I live fireworks are still legal. We buy a few and then light them in our driveway. Even better than the few we buy though are the ones my neighbors buy. Last night we had a panoramic view of the sky in lights for over an hour! Some of my neighbor's fireworks rivaled public display in beauty and to top it off I got to sit in my quiet driveway with my family and then when we were done (there were still fireworks going off around us but had mostly died down) we took the kids inside to put them to bed.
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Poor Strawberry did not like the “Big Noisy” and had her ears covered even before the bulk of the fireworks started. She decided to go to bed instead of staying up and watching the fireworks.