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

Monday, April 29, 2013

How to make a Quick Yummy Lentil Salad

Photo: Yummy lentil salad. Thanks for the idea Katie Kurrels Vrajich. I added snap peas and radishes.

The other day my sister inspired me to make a quick lentil salad. This is a kitchen sink salad that doesn’t have measurements… but it is so good.

Soak lentils for a couple of hours. Then cook until tender in enough water to cover by an inch.

Chop bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, green onions or chives, radishes, or other veggies very small. Add in some currants or raisins and some sunflower seeds.

Dress with lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, pepper and maybe a little olive oil.

Enjoy :)

Writing doesn’t have to be boring…

Tiger has wanted an iPod Touch for years. I have no plans to give him one- he doesn’t need more media access in his life to distract him from life- but his desire for one provided fodder for his writing lessons today.

Tiger has continued to use Essentials in Writing. Today he was working on a persuasive business letter. Here is his letter minus the heading and other identifying information:

Dear __________:

Thank you for allowing me to share my views and opinions. I request that you buy me an iPod Touch. It would affect both of us in a positive way. For example, it would prove easier for you if you could text instructions, praises, needs, and more via the iPod. Also, with a whole slew of educational apps on the market, they could quickly and dramatically improve my speed in math, music, and other educational skills. I promise to use games very sparingly, and only choose uplifting and brain-requiring games. I remember you saying that I am getting older and with responsibility comes more privileges. This is an excellent example. I think it would be a wonderful choice on your part. I recommend Amazon, because they are much cheaper than the original retailer. For your reference, I would like the fifth model, 32gb, and the color blue. Thank you so much for listening to my views and opinions.




I think I might need to write a business letter in return!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Math Rider- Schoolhouse Review

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 photo mathrider-product-box-v5-200x209_zpsf141caec.jpgPersonally I can’t stand flashcards and my kids don’t particularly like them either. While it is possible to memorize math facts without flashcards, gaining speed can be difficult. One way to gain speed is through games. My family was recently able to review the computer game Math Rider. Math Rider covers all four basic operations in such a way that this game will grow with the child as he learns the operations. Therefore, it is appropriate for grades 1+.

Math Rider is a mathematical quest game. The player is a rider who will be sent on quests astride his horse Shadow. These quests are to find a flower, return a gem to the elves, and rescue the princess. The goal is to master the operation at three levels, easy, medium, and hard and then complete a final quest to save the princess at the Master level. Master Level is only unlocked when a player has mastered all three earlier levels with 100% mastery. The first three levels reward the student for speed but the clock counts upwards so there is no extra pressure to beat the clock. As a student is working on the quest, the game takes into account the typing speed of a single digit vs. multiple digits as well as how fast the student is submitting responses. This helps to lessen frustration with beating a clock. Even with these modifications, there is still a finite amount of time to answer the question though. As the horse the player is riding will ride towards an obstacle and once reached, the horse will stop, a voice will repeat the mathematical equation and answer, and it will be considered wrong. Any wrong and uncleared obstacle questions will be presented right away again to help the student master the equation. The rider is rewarded for consecutive correct answers with bonus points. These bonus points help him move further on his quest as each quest requires a certain number of points. If three obstacles are not cleared in a row, the game will pause and ask if the student needs some help. In addition to adjusting the speed of the horse, the game remembers each student’s answers and progress and will tailor the questions to that student. Thus, a student will be drilled on equations which are more difficult and the ones that the student has already mastered don’t pop up frequently.  The master level gives the student a limited amount of time to complete all the questions.

Each student using the game will have a login. This allows the program to track each student separately and it also allows the parents to track progress. Under each operation a grid of facts shows which have been mastered and which have not been mastered. The colors progress from grey (not attempted), to red, orange, yellow, and finally green is mastered. The statistics screen also shows which problems are most problematic as well as progress. When the fact is clicked on, it will be shown graphically.

I really liked that if a student mistypes the answer, there is usually time to retype the answer without penalty. Following the ride, all 30 equations will be ranked for speed and accuracy and a graph will display. This allows a student to see which ones were easy and which were harder. Pumpkin Pie loved proclaiming she got all greens or only one red question. I also liked that unlike some math fact games, this game is not dependent on jumping over obstacles, maneuvering and aiming, and doesn’t kill off the rider for a mistake. While the game is actually very simple- a beautiful background with a horse jumping over obstacles- I really liked the complexity of the fact presentation. Instead of answering 5x0 30 times in a row followed by 5x1 many times, the game presents those facts randomly without over drilling well-known facts. I also really liked the extensive help files. They are very thorough and are clearly written.

Butterfly and Pumpkin Pie really liked Math Rider. Tiger thought it was “boring.” In fairness to the program, Tiger really didn’t need it though and he only played because he saw the girls playing and wanted a turn.

Butterfly started playing Math Rider with a knowledge of multiplication but no mastery of the facts. After playing, she is making very good progress and feels more confident in her abilities. Originally she only wanted to attempt the easy multiplication questions but once she saw she could do it, she began to attempt the medium level. While she was slowly making progress on the quest, she noticed she was gaining speed and getting question bonuses.  She has now mastered almost all her single digit facts.

Pumpkin Pie loves Math Rider and has nearly reached the Master level in addition and is excited to start in on subtraction. Other games have frustrated her because she couldn’t jump a bridge or reach the question for some reason. The ease of this program makes it much more accessible for her.

There isn’t much I didn’t like about Math Rider. The only thing I could complain about is the music- it gets really repetitive. Thankfully the music can be turned off separate from the sound effects. Overall, I really like Math Rider. As my readers know, I am very picky about media and computer learning. My children don’t play video games as a general rule. This is one that I think is worth using as a tool to facilitate fact mastery without flashcards. Math Rider is available for a lifetime license with free updates for $47.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sacagawea from Knowledge Quest- Schoolhouse Review

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One way to make history come alive is through historical novels. Knowledge Quest has published a novel in four episodes about Sacagawea. Sacagawea (Brave Explorers Every Child Should Know) by Karla Akins is the complete edition and is available in Kindle format from Amazon for $4.97. I received a PDF copy of the combined edition to review.

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Sacagawea chronicles the life of Sacagawea from her capture, how she came to be married to a Frenchman, her travels with the Lewis and Clark expedition, and finally the adoption of her son by Clark, birth of a new baby and her death. It is told in a very conversational tone with a lot of dialogue. More than just a novel about her life, Sacagawea is interactive! The eBook contains links throughout to various articles, museum websites, and definitions of terms. These links enable the reader to better understand what life might have been like for Sacagawea. For example, at one point Sacagawea eats “white apples.” This is what Lewis and Clark recorded in their journals. They were referring to a prairie turnip. The eBook linked to a page with pictures and further information about how “white apples” would have been used in Sacagawea’s time.

I read this story aloud to my children over the course of several days. It is 16 chapters long and makes a good read-aloud. I read from the computer and we would click on the links that interested us. The story was very engaging and I enjoyed reading it. I don’t know how much my children go out of it, but they enjoyed the story and the looking at various links.

According to Knowledge Quest, this book is intended for 10+. I believe this is a good guideline if your student is a little more mature. I was a little concerned with the amount of physical abuse Sacagawea endured at the hands of her husband and captors depicted in the story. I think that the deeper topics regarding relationships, what Sacagawea might have thought or felt, and inter-tribal relationships were mostly ignored by my children.  I recommend this for middle school+. I definitely suggest reading it with your student and discussing it together. This book will pair very well with a unit study on the Lewis and Clark expedition, the westward expansion, a study of the Pacific Northwest, or just as part of American History in the early 1800s.

Everyone has different experiences, so be sure to check out other reviews of Sacagawea as well as the reviews for the Timeline Builder App from Knowledge Quest.


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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Supercharged Science E-Science- Schoolhouse Review

As a homeschooler I am asked many questions when people find out I homeschool. Typically the questions are things like, “What about socialization.” Sometimes the question is, “How will you teach science?” We have a pretty science-rich home, but we were so blessed to be able to review a product which has made our home even more science-rich! E-Science from Supercharged Science is an amazing science program for all ages. For the purpose of this review, our family was given access to all levels of the e-Science program.  photo science_zps3636642f.jpg

Supercharged Science e-Science is an online program which covers all areas of science from physics basics like gravity and friction to robotics and alternative energy and astrophysics.  It was developed by Aurora Lipper. She is a rocket scientist and professor, and stay at home mom of 4. When she was a professor, she noticed a lack of enthusiasm for science. She set out to change that through teaching science to children.

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There are currently a total of 20 units with more being added soon. When someone first signs up for e-Science, they get access to units zero through 7, then each month they get 2 more units until they have access to all of them. Each unit includes a lesson plan with a materials list, reading for the parent to be prepared to answer questions, and some of the experiments to try. Some units take a week and others might take a month to complete. E-Science can be used as a stand-alone science curriculum or it can be used as a supplement to another science curriculum. Ms. Lipper has compiled a list of lessons/units which align with various curricula that you may already be using.

Unit 1 on Mechanics has three lessons: Force, Gravity, and Friction. Within each lesson there are videos and experiments geared for all grades. There are a total of 9 experiments for Force, 3 for Gravity, and 6 for Friction. It is not necessary to complete all experiments, but it can be fun to do them all. For each experiment there is a video where Ms. Lipper teaches about the experiment and how to set it up. In it, she weaves interesting information and explanations without telling the students too much about what they should see. She gives just enough information or demonstration for the students to understand the experiment, learn about what they are doing, why a scientist might experiment with this problem, or the history behind an experiment, and still leaves enough information out for the students to be interested and excited to discover on their own. Not only does Ms. Lipper inspire the students to experiment, but she does it using items that are truly everyday objects. To see a list of all materials used in all lessons, you can go to the Shopping List. Only a few experiments require more obscure items. Each lesson also has additional reading available as well as a page of exercise questions to answer after the experiments and reading are done. Ms. Lipper is a big believer in inspiring students to want to explore science and ask questions. She encourages parents not to start with the reading but to jump right in with the exploration and only if a child asks why to go and read about it in the additional reading.

Supercharged Science has excellent customer support. If you have a question on any experiment, you can comment on the experiment and will get a response, emails are also quickly answered, and there is even a weekly personal call-in opportunity where you can ask questions and have them answered one on one.  Periodically E-Science sends out optional emails which are uplifting and encouraging to the teaching science journey. If there is a topic you wish to explore before your monthly subscription opens it up to you, you can email support and they will arrange for the unit to be open to you.

We chose to jump in with Unit 1 and work forward. We watched the videos and then did the experiments. My children didn’t want to pick and choose experiments to do- they wanted to do them ALL! Their enthusiasm was contagious. Not only did they want to do them all, but they began to look around the house and concoct their own experiments. E-Science truly inspired them. After they did an experiment, they wrote about their observations. In the case of their own experiments, they wrote their thoughts as to what they thought might happen and then wrote their results. They really enjoyed adding to their notebooks. I enjoyed reading the comments under each experiment. They helped me to answer questions my children might ask. I didn’t ask them to do any additional reading, although I think in more advanced topics, Tiger would probably have done more reading, but the information presented in the first few units are very familiar to him since he spends so much time reading science books.

I can’t say enough good things about e-science. I love that all of my children can get truly involved in the experiments and exploration. They all learn at a different level, and their notebooks are also at their own levels, but the ability to combine all of them for a meaningful lesson is very important to me. Furthermore, I am amazed at the quality of the videos and experiments. This truly was a labor of love and dedication. Ms. Lipper has put together an amazing library for science. My kids come to learning time each day asking to do more science. Even if we don’t do an experiment, they still learn from the videos.

I could overwhelm your computer with pictures of all the fun my kids have had, but here are just a few. This first set of pictures is from an experiment on force. Even Strawberry got in on the experiment and tried it. Butterfly was able to make quite a bit of static and make the ruler spin very fast. March 2013 064  March 2013 070  March 2013 057 March 2013 060   March 2013 062 March 2013 063

We played with our magnetic cereal a little before we ate it during our force experiments:

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The best part of e-Science was that I was taking care of a newborn for much of our review period. My husband was able to easily pick up and go with the children. Together, they learned about the strength of shapes and made a tunnel to support different objects. It is hard to believe that a piece of paper (not even an entire sheet of paper) held up several pencils, a pad of paper, and a stapler! March 2013 299

They also explored magnetic forces among other things. March 2013 231 March 2013 232 March 2013 233

Supercharged Science has offered a free sample to my readers.  E-Science has two pricing options. K-8 materials for $37 per month and K-12 for $57 per month. The main difference is there are some experiments and units which are more advanced and suitable for older children. These units and experiments are not available with the K-8 subscription. All experiments and lessons are available with the K-12 subscription. The upper grade materials can be used with advanced 5-8 graders as well. E-Science also offers a 30 day money back guarantee.
Initially I had sticker shock when I looked at the cost of a monthly subscription. Then I saw the quality of the program. I realized that e-Science is not just a curriculum or resource. It truly is like hiring a science teacher to come into your home on a daily basis. What would that cost? When I put it in that perspective, science lessons for $37 or $57 a month for all of my children seems very inexpensive. I can’t wait to explore more of the units with my children. Photobucket
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Monday, April 8, 2013

Nature Lessons on the Beach

Last week the weather was amazing after co-op. As usual when it isn’t raining, we headed to the beach park for lunch and play. This time, the tide was further out than we have ever seen it and the kids were in for a treat- crabs!

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All the kids had fun finding crabs and watching them. Thanks to a class I took in college, I was able to teach them how to tell if the crab was a boy or girl crab…

Strawberry enjoyed looking at the crabs, but she was more interested in finding shells.

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I love that we have gone to the same park and beach every week throughout the year. We have watched the seasons change, watched the tides come in and go out, watched the beach rearrange itself- adding new drift wood and taking some away, and seen some beautiful creatures. What a blessing to be able to explore every week.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring is Here- Time for Dandelions!

Our yard is full of beautiful smiling yellow faces of dandelion flowers. Many people hate dandelions, but I enjoy them in my yard. They welcome spring and they are good food and medicine.

Today the children and I gathered a big bowl full of dandelion flowers and tried something new- Dandelion Fritters. In the past, we have made dandelion cookies but we thought we would try a new recipe which was inspired by Herb Fairies. BTW if you are interested in Herb Fairies, it is only open once a year and subscriptions are only open for a few more days.

Separate the stem and bracts from the base of the flower.

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Mix equal parts spelt flour and cornmeal (start with 1/3 c each). Add a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, crack and beat 1 egg and add some milk (non-dairy works). Mix the liquid into the flour mixture. Add more milk if needed to make a pancake batter consistency. Stir the flowers into the batter.

Melt coconut oil in pan at medium low heat and drop the individual flowers with some batter into the pan. Fry both sides until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.

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Serve with a drizzle of honey or dipped in mustard depending on whether you want savory or sweet treats.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Another Presentation Day

Yesterday was co-op presentation day and Frontier Girls Awards day. It is so neat that all our girls are working together. We don’t have a formal troop but are all individual Frontier Girls. We do meet together though for activities and to present awards to the girls. April 2013 011

Butterfly and Pumpkin Pie each earned badges during the last 6 weeks of co-op. They earned Mythology, Fantasy, and Art as well as a few character badges like Love and Faithfulness. Pumpkin Pie earned her Servants Heart award for the hours she spent making valentines to distribute to a retirement home.

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After the awards, the girls learned how to fold a flag properly. All had a chance to try.

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Even Strawberry tried folding the flag.April 2013 032