You may have noticed that Munchkin and Bean hasn't been active over the past few months. That's because I'm pregnant with baby #3 (a boy!) and I wanted to take a break from blogging to focus on home life and homeschooling. Baby O will be arriving mid-May and shortly after I'll begin blogging again, provided life allows the time for it. :)
In the meantime, our Etsy store is still open and we have some new items available, such as frosted felt cookies! I'm currently running a deal on felt boards - buy one, get one felt board set free (such as the solar system, moon phases, or weather set). I'm also creating custom cross stitch family portraits! They are unique and make great gifts to celebrate special occasions, such as weddings, graduations, family gatherings, etc.
I look forward to returning to blogging after Baby O arrives!
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
We received Fun-Time Phonics! from The Critical Thinking Co. to review. It's a 300+ page curriculum to help children ages 4 (Pre-K) to Grade 2 learn to read. It focuses on phonics and because it's targeted to younger children, it uses colorful images on every page to help children connect pictures to letters, sounds, and words.
There are many different types of lessons that can be found in Fun-Time Phonics! The first few activities focus on Phoenemic Awareness (beginning and ending sounds, rhyming, putting sounds together, short vowel sounds), then Alphabetics (short vowel letters, consonants and co-articulation), Beginning To Read, and at the end, Words I Can Read.
In all, there are 100 activities. However, 100 activities doesn't necessarily mean that this curriculum only covers 100 days of lessons, because in order to move on to the next lesson, each student should first master the current activity they are on, because each lesson builds on the previous activities. So while some activities may only require a day to master, others might take two or more days to work through. We have always preferred child-paced learning and loved that this curriculum allowed them to set their own pace.
We really liked that the beginning sounds activities used pictures and words to match the sound. The kids primarily focused on the pictures at first, but after choosing their answer, we would go through each word and point to the first letter, make its sound and then say the word.
The vowels seem to be the hardest part for Munchkin to master. He knows all the vowels, but he has difficulty with their sounds, like short and long A. So we have spent a lot of time going over these lessons with him.
We aren't this far into the book yet, but Bean has flipped through to look at future lessons. She tries to name what the pictures are, and sometimes finds it difficult to figure out what the word is meant to be, despite the red arrows pointing at the image. Generally I try to have her figure out the image first and if she can't, I'll tell her what it is.
We took the first words list and made a set of flash cards out of them. The front of the flash card, the blank side, shows the word in big letters, while the lined back side of the card has the word written at the top. Bean practices to write these words on the lines, but only after she has mastered reading the word.
Bean prefers the lessons where she can circle or write on the answers, while Munchkin prefers to point out his answer. This curriculum has worked out for both of them and they are always eager to work on their "fun phonics." I love that it appeals to both of them, and they can work independently or with help.
I would absolutely suggest using Fun-Time Phonics! for beginner readers, for both homeschoolers and public school students. We loved having the book form, because it was easier for the kids to use on their own, and it made it easier for me, not having to find a color printer to make copies. But for a classroom setting, I would suggest using the digital version to make your copies, since the pages in the physical copy do not come out, so it may be difficult to make perfect copies of them. But as the teacher, I'd always want a physical copy on hand to refer to and use to plan future lessons.
If you would like to read more reviews by the TOS Crew, click on the banner below!
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
We received Eat Your Math Homework from Ann McCallum Books to review. It's a super fun book with a collection of math recipes and lots of interesting math facts. Ann McCallum also has two other homework eating books, one for science and the other for U.S. History, along with a few math themed books. We look forward to checking them out! Eat Your Math Homework is intended for children in Pre-K to 2nd grade. It covers fractions, Fibonacci, geometry, Tangrams, probability, tessellations, variability, patterns in nature, and more!
I actually remember a few times in school when a teacher brought in food for math lessons, to incorporate some hands on learning. Those kinds of lessons always stayed with me, and I love that my kids are learning so much in the kitchen about math, all from a handful of fairly simple recipes. The food used in Eat Your Math Homework are all types of food you would probably already have at home, so it was really easy to make most of the recipes, with the ingredients already on hand. You'll find recipes for snack sticks, pizza pi's, trail mix, and even Tangram cookies (Bean's favorite!). It's a really good mix of different types of food, so there's something to appeal to everyone. And if particular ingredients bother you, you can easily find substitutes.
Eat Your Math Homework is a great book, even if you don't actually use it for homework. It would make a great addition to any homeschool or school classroom, and would even be fun gift for children who either love math or cooking. We plan to pick up Eat Your Science Homework and Eat Your U.S. History Homework as part of Munchkin and Bean's Christmas presents. We usually do an equal mix of toys, clothes, and new learning supplies. Our advent calendar is always a collection of 24 new books, so these two will be among them.
Extra fun homework books: Eat Your Science Homework and Eat Your U.S. History Homework.
If you would like to read more reviews from the TOS Crew, click on the banner below!
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
We received The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics to review. It is a classical music CD with an activity booklet. The music is conducted by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the music is by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, adapted and conducted by Stephen Simon, and narrated by Jim Weiss.
CD $16.98 MP3 $9.98
The Nutcracker CD has 21 tracks. It covers the whole story, from the Christmas Party to the Land of Sweets and the Sugar Plum Fairy. It lasts 58 minutes and is sure to make it on the music list for a Christmas party!
Maestro Classics offers the following Stories in Music:
Peter and the Wolf
The Story of Swan Lake
Carnival of the Animals
My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
The Tortoise and the Hare
Merry Pranks of Master Till
Casey at the Bat
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Soldier's Tale
Juanita la langosta Española (Juanita the Spanish Lobster)
Maestro Classics offers a 12 CD collection at a discounted price. We would love to someday own the whole collection! There is music for everyone, whether you're a fan of ballet or the stories, and if you aren't sure which you want to start off with, each one has a sample of the music on the website.
We have always really enjoyed Maestro Classics CDs. They are a wonderful way to incorporate music into our homeschool lessons. We enjoyed listening to The Nutcracker and we look forward to bringing it back out during the month of December to help us celebrate Christmas.
If you would like to read other reviews from the TOS Crew, click on the banner below!
If you would like to read more reviews from the TOS Crew, click on the banner below!
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
CD with Printed Materials $99.00
When purchasing any level from the Phonetic Zoo Spelling sets, you should always purchase the Starter Set with it, so you have all the additional materials you'll need for the lessons. If you already own the Starter Set, then you can simple buy the audio CDs. The Starter Set includes 5 audio CDs or an MP3 download (Level A, B, or C), Level A-C's Lesson Cards of spelling words, Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of misspellings, Zoo Cards for practice and rewards, an MP3 download of the Phonetic Zoo Teacher's Notes, and a Spelling and the Brain video. If you are unsure what level your child is at, you can have them take the placement test.
The Level A audio CD set contains five discs and each disc has 18-19 lessons. Bean and I worked on the lessons together. We only worked on one lesson per week, though sometimes it took us longer. We worked on the lesson three days a week, 15 minutes each, and mainly focused on introducing the subject matter, rather than fully mastering it. Bean is excited about spelling, but we don't pressure her to learn it all at once right now, since she is still young. This phonetic curriculum is great for laying down a strong spelling foundation that she can learn from.
On the front of the Lesson Cards you'll find pictures and the name of the animals and birds that focus on the word sound, along with three words for each level. For example, Lesson One features a caiman and a manta ray, along with the words brain, always, and pain for Level A, wailing, decay, and sailor for Level B, and ailment, portrayal, and tailored for Level C. The back of the card features the same rule, jingle, or hint from the Spelling Zoo Cards, along with a list of fifteen spelling words for each level.
The Spelling Zoo Cards are Bean's favorite part of this curriculum. She loves starting off each lesson listening to the jingle. It's not always a jingle, sometimes it's a rule or hint. But they have inspired us to come up with little songs for each lesson. As for the auditory lessons, we generally use it at the start of the lesson, and then use a dry-erase board and practice worksheets the rest of the week. I made the worksheets, and for each word, there is a traceable version and a write it yourself line. Since the spelling words are grouped into five groups of three on the Lesson Cards, we decided to focus on three words per day, hence why it generally took over a week to complete each lesson.
We look forward to continuing to use the Phonetic Zoo Spelling Lessons in the future. We plan to purchase Level B and C when we get to that point. I really think the audio CDs are worth it. It allowed Bean to work independently, which she prefers. We both really enjoyed using the Phonetic Zoo curriculum. I loved how easily it taught her spelling lessons, while she learned a better understanding of how words work. IEW is one of our favorite curriculum brands and I will always swear by their products. I highly recommend them for other homeschooling families. They continue to help ours and I know other families will find success with them.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
We received four wonderful and healthy products to review from Koru Naturals: Skin Clear Cream, Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, Manuka Honey and Manuka Oil Facial Cleanser, and Manuka Honey, Tamarind and Manuka Oil Facial Toner. Koru Naturals is a New Zealand company specializing in traditional Maori recipes for a healthier body. All of the NZ Fusion products contain no parabens, artificial colorants or fragrances.
If you would like to read more reviews on Koru Naturals, click on the banner below!