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30 October 2017

One Possible Answer

Today, Dragon(7) realized that, when adding -- or finding the missing number in an addition problem -- there is "only one possible answer".


Here's to hoping that getting the math done won't be such a battle. I'm hoping this is a turning point. At the very least, it was a turning point for today's work: he's working well and quickly, getting the set of problems I gave him for today done. I have yet to figure out why it is that legos are his best manipulative. But they are. I grabbed them one day when I was too lazy to get the "real" math manipulatives out. Not at all sorry; they're the one I reach for first now, because they just work better for whatever reason.

I didn't think math was that hard for him! He just needed to get past the mental barrier and Do The Work.

They're all pretty good at math, really. 

And, they all happened to do math at the same time this time, and it was fun to see all that productivity going on all at once.

28 October 2017

The Family is Central: The Center of Safety {Guest Post}



My name is Thomas Clifford and I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints. My family is the most important thing to me in the entire world. Today I want to talk about The Family A Proclamation to the World and how important it’s message is and the fact that family is the center of my world. Today want to talk about the safety of the family. As parents, it is our job to make sure that our children are safe. We need teach them to leave situations better than it was when they got there. 

"HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." - The Family - A Proclamation to the World

We need to teach them to love each other and the people they interact with. They need to know that we each make mistakes and its okay to make mistakes. We need to learn from these mistakes. Family means being surrounded by people who love them and will help them be better. The family is their protector and safety net in life. Friends come and friends go but family is forever.

Tom Clifford is a father of 5 and lives with his sweetheart in Appleton, Wisconsin. He does freelance work in branding and social media marketing. He enjoys all things technology and has been a social media influencer since 2007.

25 October 2017

Feeding the Mother

“The life of the mind,” Miss Mason said, “is sustained upon ideas.” Ideas are more than just facts, in the same way that homemade lasagna is more than mac-n-cheese from a box. We work to find our children books that are so full of these ideas that they can be called living books -the best books. We feed our children’s minds on the best books that we can find.

But what about Mother?

Do we take as much care with the care and feeding of our own minds and hearts as we do with our children’s minds and hearts? What lessons does our treatment of our own learning send to our children, particularly our daughters? Are these lessons that we want to be teaching?

Mother must have time to herself. And we must not say ‘I cannot.’ Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we ‘cannot’ get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for ‘Mother Culture?’–one half-hour in which we can read, think, or ‘remember.’
-Charlotte Mason, The Parents’ Review, vol. 2 “Mother Culture”
We must feed ourselves while we feed our children.

I find it interesting that Miss Mason used the term “mother culture” to describe mom’s education. In sourdough bread making and cheese making a mother culture is a “start” that you use to get the process going. You use some, but keep the rest and add to it so that you’ll have a start the next time that you want to make bread or cheese. I have a sourdough start that I got years ago from my aunt. She got it from one of her girlfriends who had had it for 40 years, and her friend said that the start was descended from start that had been carried across the plains with the pioneers on their way to Utah...

Continue reading at By Study and Faith.

23 October 2017

Study Tools for Mama

One of the big challenges in trying to learn Japanese in this area is that there are no native speakers in my circle of acquaintance, and not very many speakers at all. So finding ways to learn, basically in the absence of live humans who know  more than me, is challenging. But I feel like this is the language that both my interests run to, and the direction of the Spirit points this way, and things happen.

Every year, the Daddy heads to Japan, and he always asks, "What do you want me to bring you?" And, always, this is a hard question. Several years, I've had him bring me books. A couple years he brought me some brush pens. This year, I asked for notebooks. Because they have these cool notebooks that are designed for learning kanji.

I think they're for little kids, like the American notebooks that have the dotted line down the middle to help new learners know how tall to make the lower case letters. Only, kanji all fit in a square, and so these are set up to help you learn how to draw them well-proportioned in a square space. I love them. I had bought some graph paper, trying to have something that would work well for this, but it's too tiny: like a kindergartner, I need to make my first forays into literacy with enough room to write with large letters.

So, the Daddy brought me these, and I was excited and wanted to use them... but I'm really not very literate, and I didn't want to waste them. So I tucked them away, figuring that something would show up that would work. And this morning it did. I looked in my Tofugu email, and they were talking about this cool set of graded readers. The first one is free. It also covers kanji that I know well already, for the most part, but the very first phrase is one that I wasn't familiar with, so I'm planning to work through the set anyway. And I'm pretty excited about it. This is some of my favorite mother culture: after the kids go to bed, get out the chocolate and the fancy Japanese paper, and relax into studying. That's a great way to wind down after bedtime.

But it's not the only thing that turned up. Yesterday, I was over to my friend's house, and she was running late, but before she could call and tell us to come a little later... we knocked on the door. But she had this game, GardenScape, going on her computer, so while she played catch-up, I checked it out (she doesn't like people to help, so I didn't). It's pretty fun. You've inherited this estate, and the house is ok, but the gardens are in sad shape. So you go around them and clean them up. In English this isn't really my kind of game -- in fact, I let Hero play one of the levels for me tonight, and I just did the reading. But I like it anyway, because I get to learn a bunch of new words. There is so much vocabulary in a new language! This is a pleasant way to get some.

It's fun to find new ways to integrate my adopted language. And, if the kanji thing goes as well as I think it's going to, then when the kids get to the point that they're ready for it, I'll have them start on the same book. I like the way that it puts things in context, rather than learning words in isolation. And they've apparently gone to some significant trouble to make sure that old words pop up at good intervals so that you get practice at using real words in real for-native-by-native sentences (paragraphs, at the higher levels), and do it in a sane beginner-friendly kind of way.

Mother must have time to herself. And we must not say 'I cannot.' Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we 'cannot' get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for 'Mother Culture?'--one half-hour in which we can read, think, or 'remember.'
-Charlotte Mason 

It really is true: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think it's one of the cool ways that our Father blesses us. When we are ready to learn, He is always ready to provide someone or something to teach.

22 October 2017

The Family is Central: A Center of Fulfillment {Guest Post}



Contrary to what the world tells us, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" teaches that "the family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan."

“Many covenants are indispensable to happiness here and hereafter. Among the most important are the marriage covenants made between husband and wife. From these covenants flow the greatest joys of life.”
~President James E. Faust, April 1998

I feel very blessed to have two parents who have always demonstrated this truth. My parents are a wonderful example of a couple working in harmony to bring children into this world and raise them in righteousness, and they not only taught me, but showed me daily, the importance of the family in God’s eternal plan, and that family life was where the greatest joys in life are to be found.

Because of talents I have been given, I chose to major in music performance in college, and I was asked an untold number of times, “Well, what are you going to do with that after graduation?  What kind of a job will you get with a music degree?”  Frankly, there aren’t a lot of solid job prospects for music majors, but I always knew that my most important job would be that of Wife and Mother, even as the world was telling me that mothering is not important, that women need to be Someone.  We need a career to define ourselves, and if we’re “just” stay-at-home moms, then we’re wasting our minds, our talents, and our degrees.

So much of daily life, especially in caring for children, can be mundane and repetitious, and often messy.   But I don't feel like my mind or my talents are being wasted as I strive to teach my children correct principles and watch them grow and develop.  When I think of some of the sweetest moments in my life, they have not been found on the concert stage or out in the professional world.  They have been much quieter and centered on my family: welcoming new little spirits into this world, experiencing a baby's first smiles, singing around the piano, and cuddling up on the couch with a good book, surrounded by my children, and rejoicing when reading finally clicks for them and they realize a whole new world has just been opened.

Sweeter still and even more joyful: hearing my husband give a name and a blessing to each of our infant children, watching them enter baptismal waters and make their first covenants, spending time in the temple together as family members, and in some very tender moments, saying goodbye to beloved family members as they've moved on to the next world from this one.
How grateful I am that as Elder Robert D. Hales once put it:

"When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality.  The plan of the Father is that family love and companionship will continue into the eternities." (October 1996)

I can't imagine life in the eternities without my parents and siblings, my husband and children, and I look forward to the continuation of those relationships we've cultivated here in this life.  Family is truly  essential and central to the plan of happiness.

Kristiana Silver is a Utah homeschooling mother of six, sometimes cellist and music teacher, who loves maps, puzzles, travel, reading, and in her free time (ha!) loves indulging in logic problems, family history research (kind of the ultimate puzzle), and burnt almond fudge ice cream. She blogs at La Scuola d'Argento.

20 October 2017

An Unexpected Guest

We headed outside this afternoon on an errand, and found that we had a guest. She's taken up residence under the kitchen window, and built a spectacular web. Which, unfortunately, is almost exactly the same color as the house. It's probably the biggest garden spider I've ever seen. And it's eating my bugs. Big ones eat more? I can't say that I'm sorry that it's so fat and sassy!

The kids all came over and checked her out. It was only a small delay to let them come and see, and I love how nature study has become such a regular part of our family culture that they'll not only drop what they're doing and watch when something interesting is going on, but they'll also call for the rest of us to come and see what's going on.

That happened the other day when Hero(11) was reading in my chair by the living room window, and this squirrel caught his eye. "Mom! Come quick!" And I was glad that I did: the squirrel was hilarious. It had some kind of acorn that it was dragging around, almost as big as his face. And he'd hop-bounce around the neighbor's yard a bit, then dig some. One time, it looked like he was trying to shove the acorn into a little hole that he'd dug... it didn't fit. The squirrel's whole body arched and it bounced on the acorn, not unlike that squirrel in Ice Age, actually. And we watched and laughed. The thing didn't go into the ground. So, being a sensible squirrel, he sat up on his haunches and gnawed on it a little. And then bounced around a bit more, before selecting a new spot to dig. None of them was ever quite suitable, and eventually he bounced off behind the car where we couldn't see his antics any more. It was much more pleasant than doing the laundry, which is what I'd been working on until Hero hollered for me.

This time, it was the Daddy that found the specimen that we got to observe. I wished that it would turn around so that I could see the front side, but the bottom view is pretty impressive.

It's not cooperating with getting a full ID, since it stubbornly remains belly-out, and won't show me its back. But it's some kind of harmless orb weaver, they tell me. Miss Kitty is a bit freaked out about it, but I thought that watching it eat lunch was pretty cool.

It's been a while since we had an official nature study outing because the kids are taking turns at being sick, but we're still seeing things and learning stuff. Can't argue with that!

18 October 2017

The Family is Central: A Sacred Institution {Guest Post}




Many today wonder why people of faith hold the family in such high regard despite all the imperfections that seem to infect the institution. When we defend the sanctity of the family in the many debates over gay marriage, religious rights, etc., we are frequently criticized for the high rates of abuse, infidelity, and divorce even in marriages of faith.

One answer that we do not often hear from the defenders of the traditional family is this, which I consider to be the most important: the family is a sacred institution to God. Of all the answers that people of faith can offer, this ought to be the most prominent. In the plan of God, the “family is central.” and cannot be done without.

Why this emphasis, not just from people of the Abrahamic faiths, but also from God himself? The simple reality is that the family is THE bedrock of every good teaching, both in a religious sense, and in a worldly sense.

One of the finest accounts of this quality of the family comes from the Book of Mormon tale of the Army of Helaman. Having converted to the faith of Christ from an idolatrous and murderous life, the people of Ammon were threatened with extinction by their former brethren, the Lamanites, because of their faith. “Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war...” When these people came to “believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin...” And indeed, when their former brethren came to battle against them, the people of Ammon “went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord...” Although 1005 of them were slain that day, their example swayed an even greater number of Lamanites to repent and follow their example. (Alma 24, approx. 77 B.C.)

Although they found brief periods of peace in the decade that followed, within 15 years they were at war with the Lamanites again. No longer a small skirmish aimed at only a single small population, the full massed army of the Lamanite nation had gathered to conquer or destroy the people of Ammon and their protectors, the Nephites. Seeing the destruction and suffering, the people of Ammon thought to break their word to God, and take up arms against the Lamanites in defense of their freedoms. Instead, 2000 their sons who were too young to join their parents’ covenant forswearing violence, volunteered to go to war in their stead. These “very young” boys are referred to repeatedly as “stripling,” an archaic word that means in essence, a young adolescent. In my mind I liken them to myself as a scrawny 14 year old whose chest was about as well defined as a piece of plywood (apologies to Mr. Friberg).

Despite their youth, and their inexperience in war, these striplings were described as “exceedingly valiant for courage,” and “true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted” (53:20). Their response, when asked by their commander whether they ought to join in a terrible battle against a mighty army, a battle that had already taken the lives of thousands of seasoned soldiers, was thus:

46 For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (emphasis added)(Alma 53, approx. 64 B.C.)

Imagine the example these young men were raised with: Their parents had the conviction to surrender their own lives without a fight out of devotion to their faith; mothers and fathers willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep their word to God. I do not wonder that they became paragons of faith, integrity, and courage. Luckily for us, our parents don’t have to be willing to die to show us a good example. Any parent that tries to be a good parent, will learn “to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.”

These are just a few ways that the family teaches us:
  • Pacing the hallway and singing to a child with stomach flue all night while they scream and cry? They learn to understand unconditional love.
  • Admitting to your kid that something you did was wrong and apologizing to them? You’ve just taught them to be honest and humble.
  • Getting up at an absurd hour because someone in your neighborhood needs help? You’ve just taught your kid to sacrifice for others.
  • Explaining to you kid who just dropped an air conditioner out the window that even though you’re upset, you still love them no matter what? You’ve just given them a glimpse of how God loves them.
  • Lovingly working alongside your child to clean the crayon marks off the walls? You’ve taught them both patience and responsibility.
  • Making your kid do chores for money to replace the neighbors window that just met the business end of a baseball? That’s a lesson in accountability.
  • The alcoholic father dragging himself to an AA meeting week after week despite frequent relapses? That’s teaching his kids about repentance.
  • Praying together when you’ve lost your job and you don’t know how to eat next week? You’re teaching the kids to rely on God.
  • Showing up at their baseball game even when you are dog-tired and the weather sucks? You’ve taught them that they matter to you.

This list could go on forever, and I’ve no doubt that most of you are thinking back to things your parents did that left an impression. I think you get the point: There is no other organization or structure on the face of the earth that can impart the many lessons needed to build strong societies, good governments, and a wholesome human race.

Samuel Hill is a husband, father, historian, gardener, disciple, gamer, teacher, political scientist and swordsmen without enough time to do them all. When he's not playing with his kids, he is often found neck deep in some old book that causes his wife to weep with boredom. Thereafter he is frequently found baking something to pay her back.

17 October 2017

Pencil Grips and Safety Scissors {Crew Review}

The Pencil Grip, Inc.

For this review, we were given The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit both from The Pencil Grip, Inc. They have a number of preschool-oriented products; I reviewed their Thin Stix earlier this year.

When the scissors and pencil grips came, I got out the scissors first. Our reading curriculum has some activities that require cutting, but Peanut(4) hadn't realized they were cutting pages, so when I asked her to choose a page, she's never picked one of those before. She was delighted as soon as she realized she'd be cutting things out and building a hat; she loves that kind of thing. She loves the new scissors, too, because she thinks they are "girl scissors".

However, the guide makes them really awkward to use. I'd estimate that it at least doubled the time that it took her to do the cutting, compared to regular scissors. Getting the paper to line up with the scissors correctly is already a huge task for small hands, and that huge guide makes it much more difficult. My daughter really struggled with using them, and when she was cutting out her squares - a relatively simple task that she's been able to handle for a long time now - turning that last corner was extremely difficult. Also, her cuts were not as nice with the safety scissors: because it's so hard to control, it left a jagged edge, which is not her usual at all. I can't remember any of my kids ever cutting themselves with regular kid scissors, and certainly they've never done serious damage to themselves, so I feel like the big awkward guide, the yellow gizmo in between the handles that keeps them from coming open properly when you use it, it's all overkill on the "safety".

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

You can see the contrast between how she handles her regular scissors vs. the safety scissors in this movie, where I had her use them both on a single project. She's working hard, and it's taking considerably longer than the regular ones, but with far less accuracy. After a few days, she didn't reach for these cool "girl scissors" anymore, and I don't blame her.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training KitThe second product that we were given to try out was the 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit. These are kind of cool. I was expecting them to be the small compact pencil grips that we used to buy at the school store for a quarter, but these are way cooler than that.

They're soft.
They're squooshy.
If you take them off the pencil and squeeze them, they almost double as a fidget toy -- but they don't even make annoying noises. And they seem to stand up to that kind of abuse pretty well. And also to the inevitable on-again-off-again can't leave it on the pencil goofiness of young children. Ours changed pencils a lot, but they didn't get misshapen. And they still fit tightly (but not too tight), even after all the abuse they've had.

You can use them in a particular order, to help train the very young, because they make it downright difficult to hold the pencil in the wrong way. I didn't worry about that because all my kids have passable pencil grips. And also these were all but snatched from my hands. Cool shapes. Bright colors. New toys... what's not to love?

They come on (cheap) pens, but we do all our work in pencil so I got rid of them. One of them died in the process (it just pulled right apart, pieces flew; one got lost, and I threw it away), but the grips are much better quality than the pens. My 7yo had a hard time keeping track of what side was "up", so I used a sharpie to give him a dot. It worked pretty well, it stayed on, and it didn't smear.

There might have been shenanigans. Possibly. Shocking, I know.
Who doesn't need three pencil grips on the same pencil?

I like the grips. I don't like the scissors at all. But the grips are fun, and I think they'd probably be useful if you have a child that needs help learning a good way to hold their pencils. If you want to see what other families in the Homeschool Review Crew thought of these products, click the banner:


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08 October 2017

The Family is Central: Central to Happiness



The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children -- central to the Plan of Happiness. Families are a gift from God, designed to nurture and protect us here and now, and to fit us for life in His kingdom in the hereafter.

Individual progression is fostered in the family, which is “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” The home is to be God’s laboratory of love and service. There a husband is to love his wife, a wife is to love her husband, and parents and children are to love one another. Throughout the world, the family is increasingly under attack. If families fail, many of our political, economic, and social systems will also fail. And if families fail, their glorious eternal potential cannot be realized. 

Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other and to esteem and treat their children as an heritage from the Lord. In such a family we study the scriptures and pray together. And we fix our focus on the temple. There we receive the highest blessings that God has in store for His faithful children.
-Russell M. Nelson, April 2008

When I think about our Father's plan, how we lived with Him, and then came to earth to receive a body, to be tested and to be challenged, and all the growth opportunities, the way that we are to live together in love, and when life ends, we are to have loved much and to weep for the loss of those who leave us, and return to Him again. When I think of all that, family is there in every aspect, every step of the way. Family reaches to the very heart of the Plan, so much so that if families fail the earth is cursed, and wasted at His coming.

One of my sisters has sheet music for a song, Keeping Sheep, that compares parenting to shepherding, and talks about all the voices that say that it's not important, it's expendable, it's beneath us. It's a beautiful song, and now that we've got kids, we can't sing that thing without bawling our eyes out. This is my favorite part:

So many voices say to me,
“A sheep-fold is no place to be.
Your time in there is dull and slow,
And lambs leave very little room for you to grow.”

Oh, If I ever start to stray,
Deceived by thoughts of greener pastures,
Remind me Lord, that keeping sheep
Will lead to happier ever-afters.
Will lead to happier ever-afters.

God works in plain and simple things. The small, the weak, the over-looked. These are His stock in trade. Like ordinary homes, and ordinary, tired parents. He speaks in a still, small voice, one that you have to actively pay attention to in order to hear. And the value of things that He asks us to do is often like that little voice: easy to overlook.

Children need their families. Not preschools, not fancy clothes, not Stuff in all its assorted forms. They need their parents, their time, their attention. Mine need me, and yours need you. Parenting is intense, and it can be really, really hard, and there's soooo many people who want to tell us that it's not really worthwhile. But when we find the heat of opposition is the hottest, that's where the best work for the Kingdom is done. Satan doesn't oppose the stuff that doesn't matter.

Families matter. The traditional family is key to our Father's plan for our happiness. 

03 October 2017

Easy Peasy Cursive {Crew Review}

Channie's Easy Peasy Cursive Workbook

We were given the Easy Peasy Cursive book, from Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks to review. These are simple and straightforward: notepads full of letters to practice. There is a page of letters to trace, a page of trace-then-write, and a page for writing independently for each letter. At the back of the book there is one page, front and back, for practicing words.

We follow Charlotte Mason's classical education philosophy, and she says this about practicing handwriting:

Set good copies before him, and see that he imitates his model dutifully: the writing lesson being not so many lines, or 'a copy'––that is, a page of writing––but a single line which is as exactly as possible a copy of the characters set. The child may have to write several lines before he succeeds in producing this.
-Charlotte Mason

I've found this to be good advice in the past, to focus on helping my kids to produce just a few beautiful letters, rather than going for a whole page. We've always started with letter formation first, then moved into words, and this workbook is great for the letter formation part of the process. It was no problem to use this book in a Charlotte Mason-friendly way: although the book is printed in a way that suggests that you could just sit down and write the whole page at a go, I chose to work on it line-by-line with him: we never work more than one line of any letter at a sitting. The large number of examples means that he's always got a beautiful sample to look at; it's just how I do it when I make up my own sheets. The first day I just opened it up to A, then let him choose what he wanted to for the second letter; he chose I. Completely open-and-go. I love that.

Finding a pen that works well for the pages was a little bit of a challenge: I felt like the  mechanical pencil that we happened to grab the first day wasn't a good choice: the dots that you trace are pretty dark and quite close together, and I felt like it was hard to see the pencil lines. We tried ballpoint pen, but ended up settling on a very fine line Sharpie. The pages are just a little slick, and the letters close together, so our Crayola markers were out of the question: the ink would smear, and it's hard to make beautiful letters when your ink is misbehaving. But the ballpoint pen was adequate (can you tell I'm a pen snob??), and the Sharpie worked out pretty well -- I was worried that it would bleed through the paper, but it's not too bad.

The one thing that I wish they had done differently with these is that I wish that they had included more words to practice, or several blank pages so that I can give him models to practice. But the book is almost entirely letters. And that's good, as far as it goes, but where the paper is so very specific, it would have been nice if they had allowed for more than just letter formation. 

As far as how I feel about these, I really want to like them. The idea is great, the slanted boxes to give spacing is brilliant -- and it should have been relatively familiar, because our Japanese also happens in boxes to get the spacing right, and Dragon(7) doesn't have any problems with that. But he's really struggling with this, in spite of having been excited to learn cursive when we got the book. It's not working very well at all: he can trace the letters, but when I ask him to draw his own, even right next to a model, immediately after tracing several, he just can't do it. I had him try a couple of things in his regular notebook, and it is just funky. That thing on the third line is a capital and lower case L, drawn immediately after practicing in the workbook. He's all over the place with it.

I suspect that the issue that Dragon finds cursive challenging, more than that the workbooks aren't a good system. While he hasn't completed all of the practice, I didn't anticipate that he should need that much repetition in order to be able to write with a model, rather than tracing.  My plan at this point is to put away cursive for six months or a year, and then revisit it, and see if it makes more sense to him. His printing is still a little bit unsteady, and we're working on things like consistently getting upper case letters out of the middle of words -- there are a couple of letters where he strongly prefers the capital, and will chose A over a every time, even in the middle of the word, if I let him. So I wonder if this book won't work better for him later on, after his printing is a little more consistent and his writing a little more mature in general. Maybe I should get a Quick & Neat Alphabet Pad, and see how he does with that.

If you want to read more reviews of Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks - there are a couple of titles the Crew is looking at- click the banner below.


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02 October 2017

Super Teacher Worksheets {Crew Review}

 Super Teacher Worksheets

We were given an Individual Membership from Super Teacher Worksheets for this review. It's a rather large database of worksheets for teachers and homeschoolers, so the first thing that I did was to browse around. The layout is nice, and it's easy to navigate. Because they are so large, they've created a "filing cabinet" feature, where you can save the worksheets that look interesting.

I browsed the math sheets first, since that is where I anticipate spending the most time. One thing that I noticed is that they have resources for multiple English speaking nation's currencies, not just the US Dollar. You can see a partial list of the topics they cover there on the left of this screenshot, as well as the list of currencies they can accommodate there in the center. I used several. Some of them are pretty ordinary "work the problems" pages. The one to the left is a cool one, where my son was supposed to find numbers that add to 10. This is an area that I have been wanting to have him do a little extra practice, beyond what is in our regular math program, so I was glad to see this sheet. He didn't really follow the directions very well, but it ended up working well anyway.

They have a nice variety of sheets, so I was able to find things that are good for all of the kids. Peanut(4) can work on number formation, and Dragon(7) on his math facts.

Dragon's math facts sheet is one that I especially like, because it's one that I generated, specifically targeted to where he needs to work. They have a nice interface, once again very user-friendly, and you can save the sheets you make. For him, I'm using the basic addition generator, but there is one for all 4 operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, in both basic  math facts and more advanced problems, as well as bingo cards, flash cards, abc order exercises, and some quiz generators. I did have some issues with generated worksheets printing incorrectly, without the final column, but since we are not using these as timed tests, it's not at all a big deal for my purposes. 

I especially like the variety of worksheets that Super Teacher has in the more advanced arithmetic. I recently switched the kids into MEP for their main math program. This transition has been very smooth for my younger kids, but Hero(11) is old enough that the differences in when things are taught is substantial, and we keep finding things that MEP assumes have been taught already that our old program had not yet addressed. Super Teacher Worksheets makes filling in these gaps easy. The most recent example was order of operations work. MEP had a short section that looks like a quick review of something covered earlier, but it was the first time that Hero and I had really discussed the standard order of operations, and he needed more than just a quick review to feel good about it. So I grabbed a couple of extra sheets from Super Teacher, and got him up to speed. Easy peasy.

One thing that I'm looking to include more of this year is logic puzzles for my oldest. Super Teacher Worksheets has quite a few topics that relate to this. Not all of them are exactly what I'm looking for, but there are some options that relate to that general idea. Each section has a listing, like this one, that shows the different types of worksheet they have for that category, which makes navigating the extensive collection quite easy.

Their "filing cabinet" where you can save worksheets that you want to be able to find again quickly is a really cool feature. It allowed me to spend some time early on picking out likely looking worksheets, and then come and print them at the time that I needed them without having to dig for them again. It's easy to tell what I'm looking at, without needing to click on every single worksheet, too, because they are labeled with their various categories and descriptions. This kind of efficiency is very important to me, as I find that time that I spend on the computer during the school day generally tends to slow us down and derail our schedule. The filing cabinet lets me just go in and print them out quickly and easily. It's a great feature.

I used mostly math worksheets, but in many ways I barely scratched the surface of what's actually available: they have phonics, handwriting (print and cursive), spelling lists, various literacy units, science units, social studies worksheets dealing with the 50 States, explorers, maps, Native Americans, timelines, history for the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa, and a host of other things.

I suspect that there's something for just about everyone in this sizable database of worksheets. They've been quite useful for us.

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