Thursday, March 31, 2016

Memoria Press Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set Review

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

It's time for lit in our homeschool. My oldest is doing Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set by Memoria Press. This is designed to challenge kits with reading so that they become superior readers. The study guides for each set help your student to become an active reader. It covers things like vocabulary spelling, and comprehension.

This is what is included in the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set:
Dangerous Journey: Student Guide and Teacher Manual
The Blue Fairy Book: Student Guide and Teacher Manual
The Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set comes with the following:
Cricket in Times Square: Student Guide and Teacher Manual
Homer Price: Student Guide and Teacher Manual

As you can see it only has the student guide and teacher manual. You will need to get the actual
books from the library or you can buy them. They do offer an option on the website that includes the actual books they will need to read. I was able to find all the books for this set but one either at our local library or on the digital library.

For this review we mainly focused on the Blue Fairy Book. We chose this one because it was the first one available on our digital library and the others had a longer wait list. We are waiting on The Cricket In Times Square to become available. The Blue Fairy Book is composed of several short stories. For some reason the digital version we checked out had slightly different stories than what was in the student guide. We were able to use the majority of the student guide.  I like the selection of books that are offered with the fourth grade set. I read many of these books when I was a child and I feel that its a well rounded selection for this grade.

All the Student Guides are set up similar, but they cover different things for each book. I love that they all sort of work together to make one great Literature set. All the books together make a great well rounded lesson. The Student Guide for each lesson has Reading Notes. This section has words from the story and the definitions. The Vocabulary section is great. It offers a sentence with a vocabulary word in bold. Then they need to match that bold word with one of the definitions from the definition bank. The Comprehension section helps kids to consider what they have read and find the important parts of the story.  You will find a Quotations section where the child is given a quote from the story and they have to identify who said it. They are then given discussion questions to answer and an enrichment box where they are ask to do something like draw a picture that has to do with the story they just read.

The Teachers Manual has teaching guidelines for getting started. It offers answers to the student guide. But it also has test and test answer sheets in it. There is a quiz for ever two fairy tales. The final exam covered the last two fairy tales. I found both the quizzes and final exam to be well rounded.

My Third grader who reads on a upper 4th grade level really enjoyed this set. She says she liked the hole thing even the enrichment box where she had to draw something. The student guide really engaged her into the story. She wasn't just reading to read, she had to pay attention to the details of the story. She was no longer just floating through the stories. I found that a good portion of the vocabulary words actually stuck and she began to use them in day to day conversations. She got so much more out the books than she was getting before. I am excited to finish up the Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set.  We have reserved the last couple books on our digital library.

Other Crew Reviewers had the chance to try out other Memoria Press Literature Guide Sets so you should click the banner to learn about the others.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wordless Wednesday !

My BuddyTag

Have you ever had the fear of your child slipping away from you? I didn't when my girls were smaller but now that they are a bit older I worry. My oldest is friendly and she is becoming more independent. She also gets distracted easily and tends to wonder at times. We got to try out the My Buddy Tag. It is a bluetooth child tracker. Its bluetooth so the range is not super far especially in a building with lots of walls. But because they are blue tooth they are affordable. They sell for around $39.99 and you can get a silicone wrist band, a Velcro wrist band, a terry cloth wrist band or a disposable wrist band. We received the silicone wrist band and a Velcro wrist band. They come in a bunch of different colors that are crazy cool.

Out of Range Alert: Uses bluetooth technology to send an alert to your phone when your child is out of your proximity. 

Water Safety Alert: It alerts you when it is submerged in water.

Panic Button: Located on the wristband your child can push it when they are in fear or a threatening situation and it sends a loud alert to your phone. 

Personal ID: The wrist band has a place for you to put a contact name and phone number in case your child is ever separated from you.

Email with last seen location: It can email you a map location and time in which you child was last picked up by the BuddyTag app.

It is Iphone and I Samsung compatible. It works with Iphone 4S and newer and Samsung Galazy S4 and newer, Note2 and newer with android 4.3 or higher. 

So basically you download the BuddyTag app. It is a free app I put it on my Iphone. While its is downloading you take the BuddyTag button which is a little disk shaped piece and insert it into which ever wrist band you bought. Be sure to align the panic button on the BuddyTag button to the one that's on the wrist band.  Then you open the app you will see a New Device icon. You swipe the Icon to connect the BuddyTag. You can connect more than one buddy tag to the app. The Icon will turn yellow when it is connected then you should test it.  To test your BuddyTag you simply press the panic button on the BuddyTag and the app on your phone should sound. 

From the app you can then adjust different settings, You can turn the alarms on or off, set a distance alarm, check the battery, get the last seen location and disconnect the BuddyTag. 

You always want to disconnect the BuddyTag when you are not using it. This shuts the BuddyTag button off so the battery will last longer. The batteries are not replaceable you just buy a new BuddyTag button that's why the come out of the wrist bands. The Bands are all reusable except for the disposable bands. The Silicone bands have a little pin the screws together to keep it on. Terry cloth one just slips on like a bracelet. The Velcro one Velcros on. The Disposable one has a plastic snap and must be cut off when you need to remove it.

How well it works: This is not a GPS device its not going to find your kids at long distances and it doesn't give you pin point location detection. But it does get you close to there last known location. The alert lets you know they are getting to far way so you can find them before they are lost. We tested this out both in a store and out side. We tried it out in Walmart the range is not as good in a place like that. Then again I don't want my child getting very far from me in a busy place like that any way. It sounds off when she started to get too far away. It did not really show her location in the store but I had the alert if she started moving away from me. We then took it out side and I let the girls run around. The last location part worked decent enough it showed the general location they were in. It how ever was not super accurate in rural area where there were no roads on the map it was a little hard to figure out where they were. The best part of it really is the Range Alert and the Water safety feature. It worked well enough when we were out and about and in crowed areas like festivals and the park. The Water Safety feature was also cool. It sounds when the BuddyTag is submerged in water. I didn't want to throw the girls into the river to test it so we just plunged them into the bath tub. My phone started alerting me very quickly. It would be handy if you have smaller children and you are out and about where there is a water source. Its not a replacement for watching your child but its a little extra something.

I found the BuddyTag to be worth the price it was handy and I can see if being great for smaller kids just starting to toddle around. I can also see it being handy for an elderly person who might tend to wonder. Both my girls thought the Silicone band was the most comfortable and they really loved the bright colors. My 8 year old said it was stylish and she didn't feel like a baby wearing it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The family that shoots together stays together

 Spring is in the air and its finally warm enough to get out and shoot. Me and my oldest spent some time out side before dinner getting back into the grove of things. We looked into different lessons and shooting groups in the area and we found out that there is not much offered. We checked the local conservation center. They have an archery in schools program. We were disappointed to find out that Homeschools don't qualify. We don't feel that its fair but such is life. We heard that 4H has a shooting group but there are no other kids in our area that participate and last I checked they didn't have anyone to teach it. So the girls shoot on there own and I teach them as much as I know. Hotrod girl is improving each time we venture out. We basically have fun together and try to at least hit the bag.
Yup Hotrod girl made that shot.
She shot better than I did this time around.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

EdTechLens Rainforest Journey Review

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
A new science program has been welcomed into our home. This time we are excited to use Rainforest Journey 1st and 3rd grade by EdTechLens. This is another great Crew Review folks.  Rainforest Journey is an e-learning science program grades K-5 that covers life science for elementary  school levels. It covers the same concepts but get increasingly complex. That means the second grade level will be a little harder and more detailed than say the first grade level. It is a media rich interactive digital learning program. The program consist of 34 lessons, assessments, and activities including hands on activities. It is an internet based program.

First I created an account then I logged in and bought the levels that I would be using. We are doing 1st Grade and 3rd Grade since that is the girls current grade levels. I got two single user courses since I am doing two different grade levels. Once you make your purchase you then assign the grade level later. Each of the girls has their own log in. 

From your teacher account you can edit class information. You can get a course outline you can control class content which means you remove things from your kids lesson that you don't want them to see. There is also a Teacher Resource section. In this section you can access answer keys, get lesson reviews, and lesson plan templates, user guide, support etc. Under the Manage Class section you will find a progress report that show how much they have done in each section as well as quiz results. When you log in as teacher you get little alerts that show if there is something that is waiting to be graded. Its easy to navigate and I found it to be self explanatory.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

When the girls log in, it brings up a page and at the top it says begin lesson you just click it. The girls figured out how to navigate through the lesson quickly. There is a magnifying glass that opens up the captain that you read for the lesson. It even has a speaker you can click that will read the caption to you. I love that they have the option to have it read to them. It's great for beginning readers. They then click a button at the bottom to go to the next page in the lesson or to advance to the next lesson. It also gives them a button to click for work pages they can print out. Then at the end of the unit it gives a test.  

My first grader is in love with Rainforest Journey. She is enthralled by anything that has to do with animals. The pictures etc. are so vivid and bright that she can't get enough of them. Every day its Mama can we do another lesson can I can I can I please.... So we end up doing this more than just 3 days a week. Which is perfectly fine with this Mama. She is really enjoying the work sheets that they can print at the end of the lesson. I love that they are printable because it gives me something to put in the portfolio. For my first grader I would like to see a bit more discussion about each lessons topic. I felt it was a tad short in the information department on the lessons. I did how ever appreciate the activities they really add a little more to the program and give them some fun things to do that are not just on the computer. 

My third grader did the third grade level. She has also enjoyed the program. She says the pictures and the videos are really great and they show her some Cool stuff, but she wishes it told her more information about the topic. She likes the printable "stuff" at the end. Meaning the work pages and activities. She has done well on the work pages but says she would like to see more hands on activities. We are only part way through the program so there could be more hands on stuff that we just haven't gotten to yet. They are hands on kids so they really enjoy experiments and think they need to do them every week.

This is a supplemental curriculum with 34 lessons. It is a great supplemental curriculum for a semester study. It covered lots of Life Science topics and I feel that my girls have learned a lot from it. We will be finishing out the program because the girls have really enjoyed it. It offers great lessons, reviews and quizzes. I cant wait to see what else EdTechLens comes up with. Check out what the other Crew Reviewers are saying about EdTechLens they have tried out other grade levels and can give you more information on different ones.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

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Logic of English Foundations Level A Review

Logic of English Review

Logic of English has made its way into our home.  We are so excited to have gotten a chance to try out and review Foundations Level A. My little one was the lucky winner of trying out this program.  Foundations level A starts readers of with phonemic awareness. It teaches them to read and write lowercase letters and how to decode short vowel words and consonant blends. By the time your little one finishes Foundations level A they should be able to do these things and more.

Foundations Level A includes 48 lessons 8 of them are assessments and review lessons. You will find 6 student readers, 22 phonemic awareness games, 28 phonogram games, 10 reading comprehension games, 2 high frequency word games.

To teach Foundations Level A you will need the Level A Teacher's Manual, Level A student Workbook in either cursive or manuscript (we went with cursive). You will also need the book Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds.  It is also recommended that you purchase phonogram and spelling rule quick reference(in cursive or manuscript) Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart (cursive or manuscript), Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards (cursive or manuscript), Phonogram Game Cards, Student Whiteboard, Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, Phonogram Game Tiles, and Spelling Analysis Card.  Sounds like a lot right! well it is kind of a lot but everything is reusable for future levels except for the workbook and teacher book.
Logic of English Review
I requested foundations level A. I used the Help Me Choose section on the website. Turns out that it was a little too easy for my 6 year old. I should have chosen Foundations B. Apparently I didn't realize she was reading and sounding out words as well as she is. I thought she needed more work. That is beside the point though, this is a nice program I wish I would have found it sooner. The work books are full of color and fun pictures. They helped to keep her interest in what we were working on at the time. We found readers in the back that you pop out and get to assemble. She thought those were "Super Fun". The lessons are short and to the point and I think they are wonderful for kids that cant sit still for long lessons. 

I am going to recommend going with the cursive set if you have a little one that seems to struggle
with writing. For some reason writing in cursive is easier than print for some kids. Both of the girls are learning cursive and I am wishing I would have just started them out on cursive. The Cursive Tactile Cards are amazing. One side shows the cursive letter while the other side tell them how to make the letter. I have the girls draw a card each morning and that is the letter they practice for the day.

Then we have the Basic Phonogram Flash Cards. These cards have the letter on one side with the phonogram on the other. Example h is on the front and on the back it has /h/ then below it, there is an example word hat with the h in bold. Some of the more complicated ones like i will have all the different phonograms listed on the back with examples. I love that its teaching all the sounds a letter can make at one time instead of one sound at a time. 

While she liked the work book and the flash cards but she LOVED the games and activities. You get a set of phonogram game tiles, and two sets of game cards one is the blue bookface the other is green cursive. The games are another way to help your kido remember the phonograms. She didn't seem to have a favorite game she just thought they were all fun. The games make it more hands on and that is something she responds to well.

The teachers book has a scope and sequence and a list of common core standards it covers in case you need it. The lessons are broken down into an easy to follow format. I felt like it was a scripted type of teachers book. This is great for those of us that who find this a difficult subject to teach. It even has speech tips on the side to help you help a student who is having trouble articulate the correct sound. You will also find little boxes for things like book list and multi-sensory fun. I even discovered some great teaching tips. Throughout the teachers book you will see areas that tell you when to use the white and when to use what cards and what games to play and how to play them. This is probably one of the easiest to follow Teachers Manuals that I have used.

Some Crew Reviewers tried out Different Logic of English products so be sure to click the banner and check them all out. You will also find some social media links and I would love for you to show Logic of English a little Social media love.

Logic of English Review

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Demme Learning's Math-U-See Review

Demme Learning Math U See Review
It's that time of year where we all start looking for great math programs. This time we are trying out Demme Learning AKA Math-U-See. We will be using the Gamma level books as well as the Digital Packs. Since we are using the Gamma level books we are also using the Digital Pack for the Gamma level. The goal of the Math-U-See programs is to help produce students that are confident problem solvers that enjoy doing math.
Demme Learning Math U See Review
This was our first try at a Math-U-See program. We went with the Gamma level because my oldest struggles with memorizing her multiplication tables. I gave her the online assessment and it suggest starting with Gamma. We used Math-U-See Gamma as a supplement 3 days a week. Demme Learning really blessed out family with the box they sent us. We received the student work book, the test book and instructional manual and instructional DVD as well as the digital pack for 12 months. We also received the Integer Block Kit which has 133-pieces.

The student work book has work pages that helps to reinforce the lessons, that are taught on the instructional DVD or the Digital pack. Each lesson has multiple pages. How ever we found that for some lessons she didn't need to use all of them. Like when she practiced her 1's and 0's she got those memorized quickly and didn't need the extra practice. But when she got to the 3's she used all the work pages and got in extra practice. Great workbook its easy to follow and she doesn't have trouble finding the work pages for the lesson she is working on. I am loving that the workbook had review areas where it refreshes what was learned in earlier levels.

The test book is, well self explanatory its a book with all the test for the Gamma level in it. I like the separate test book because I can toss it in the portfolio box  and its all together. Then I can easily select random workbook pages to be put in the portfolio box.

The Instruction Manual is handy it helps you teach the program as well as giving you the solutions to the test and work pages. I like having the solutions because lets face it math is not my strong point. I found teaching from the instruction manual to be simple enough. It makes the lessons easy to explain everything is in order and it provides examples and explanations to help you teach it.

The best part is if your having trouble explaining the lessons you can always defer to the Video Lessons. I am told the videos are more for the teacher to watch to see how to teach the lesson. But for my daughter the Video lessons make the program. She much prefers to hear the lesson and see a demonstration from the Videos. We love how he explains each lesson, he covers everything thoroughly. He is quick and to the point and that is important to my non math loving daughter. She can watch the lesson over and over if she needs to. We can watch the DVD or we can use the Digital Pack.

The digital pack is something new from Demme Learning. The digital packs include 12-month access to the level you choose in our case Gamma. It has streaming instructional videos and a PDF instruction manual which has lesson and test solutions, skip counting songs on MP3,a PDF songbook. The digital pack also includes Digital Manipulatives but you need to use Chrome or Safari. It does not include the student work book or test book. The digital manipulatives are basically the Integer Blocks but on the computer screen. You can move them around and manipulate them like you would the physical blocks. We use these when we have to do math on the go. Another bonus to the digital pack is the work sheet generator and online drill. The work sheet generator is great for making extra practice pages. You can make more work sheets for any of the lessons covered in the level you purchased. Online drill is exactly that, a way to drill facts with out having to have physical flash cards. You can drill for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. Then there are some selections you can make under each one. 

Demme Learning Math U See Review

We finished our main math curriculum several weeks a go. So we have been using Math-U-See Gamma 3-4 days a week, to go back and try to master Multiplication tables. Along with the student workbook and video lessons, my daughter is using the online drill at least one day a week now. Its not her favorite thing to do but she likes it better than standard flash cards. We have used lots of pages from the work sheet generator. We have been using them to review addition and subtraction and simple division as well as multiplication. It great to be able to brush up on the things we covered earlier in the year. 

Other crew members have reviewed different levels of Math-U-See and I would love for you to click the banner and see what they have to say.

Demme Learning's Math-U-See Review

Twitter:  @mathusee #​mathusee #homeschoolmath​ #hsreview

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air everyone our night time temps are now staying well above freezing. This weekend me and the girls expanded the garden this year. We added two 8ft by 4ft beds. We will now have a bed for root type vegetables like carrots and turnips. The second on will be for peas and possibly some corn I hear you can use the corn stalks for the peas to grow up. Then we will have one big bed for cucumbers and one big bed for green beans.  Since growing the lettuce on straw bails worked so well the last two years we are doing the same this year. The bails we used last year have composted over the winter and have been added to last years garden bed. New bails were bought in the fall and now have a nice layer of Cow Pow on them and the lettuce seeds have just sprouted a day or two a go.

We are also looking for a place to plant the blueberry bushes. We have three bushes that need to go in the ground this year. We will also need to construct some sort of fence around them to keep the deer out so they don't eat them before they have a chance to grow and start producing they are 3-4 year old plants now they produced a few blueberries last year so we are expecting to get more this year.

Worm Tube update: The worms are doing wonderfully. The girls put in about 50 worms or so that they found crawling in the lawn after a rain last year. When I turned the beds two weeks a go we found more than 100 in each bed. The beds are just crawling with them.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Heirloom Audio Productions The Dragon and the Raven Review

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}
My family has been enjoying The Dragon and the Raven from Heirloom Audio Productions. Our family received the 2 CD set and a digital download of the study guide. This is an audio adventure based on the Extraordinary adventures of G.A. Henty. G.A. Henty was an amazing story teller I believe some even consider him a Master Story Teller. The Stars of The Dragon and the Raven are John Rhys-Davies, Helen George, Brian Blessed, Sylvester McCoy, John Bell, and Katherine Kellgren. You might recognize a few of those names.

The Dragon and The Raven takes place back when King Alfred was king. Way back before England was even a country around 865. It tells of a time when the Danes ran wild through England, leaving devastation in their path. If not for one man taking a stand with King Alfred against the invading Danes. It takes them time to realize that the entire nation must turn back to God in order to win the war.

This is a 2 hour audio adventure. After much debate the girls decided that we would listen to in the evening as our bed time story. We listened for several nights in a row and it was so captivating that we had a hard time turning it off for the night.  I was thinking an Audio story would be a great way to help them relax, boy was I wrong. It was so exciting that the girls were wound up and wanting to talk about it. G.A.Henty told about some amazing adventures. This is a wonderful way to learn History through Fiction. I never thought history could be so much fun. We have listened to it twice now and its just as good the second time around. The Cast of The Dragon and The Raven did an amazing job bringing the story to life. They were so expressive we could close our eyes and really feel like we were there experiencing it for our selves. If you listen hard enough you can feel the wind in your hair and smell the salt air on your skin.
The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}
The Dragon and The Raven eStudy Guide. Its a Pdf file that you have to download. We downloaded ours to the Ipad and just worked from it. The study guide is 30 pages long it has discussion points, history-learning guides and story-related Bible study. It covered things like Alfred the Great, some Bible study lessons I believe there were three, as well as a chapter lessons. Its a great study guide and we liked the enrichment activities. My girls were a bit young for the all of the study guide but they were able to participate in some of the discussions and we just fit it to there needs and abilities. The study guide is a great bonus to the Audio.  You can also get The Dragon and the Raven on MP3 download. This would be really great for listening on a tablet or the like.

I love that The Dragon and the Raven has a biblical message and it teaches about an important time in history. If you want to inspire your kids to have a love for history you will want to pick up The Dragon and the Raven.

I would love for you to check out what the other Crew members are saying about The Dragon and the Raven.

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Zonderkidz Faith Builders Bible Review

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
This weeks review is from Zonderkidz. We are reviewing the Faith Builders Bible. The Faith Builders Bible sells for about $24.99. Its a fairly priced kids bible and has some super cool kid friendly features. It is a hard back bible so its probably a little more durable than a leather bound. It has a cool brick building theme to it. Reminds me of Lego's. You get 24 full color pages of illustrations. This is a NIrV,  for those of you un-familiar it is the New International Reader's Version of the Bible. It comes in a 9 point font which is a bigger font than most Bibles come in. 

The girls stalked the door all morning for the UPS man. They were very excited when they pulled it out of the box it just looks cool. I usually buy leather bound bibles. But I was surprised at how happy I was with the hard back for a kid.  It feels kid tough and I like that, I want the girls to handle it a lot and that means it needs to be durable. The cover has building blocks all over it and the theme continues throughout the Bible. If you have little builder this is going to be the Bible for them.

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}At the beginning it has building with books of the Bible. This teaches kids that each book of the Bible is like a layer and it gives kids a task to help them remember the order of the books. I had never thought to explain it to my girls that way. It actually uses colored pictures of the building blocks to demonstrate the layers or books of the bible.  

Next I want to mention Building Block Verses You will find these through out the Bible. These are great memory verses above each verse is a little lesson that goes along with it. Super helpful for younger kids. We also discovered a small dictionary in the back its only about 5 pages long but it has a lot of words in it that your child might not know as they are reading through the Bible. We also found a list of Bible stories and get this it tells what book they are in so finding them is easy. 

Hotrod girl wants me to mention the font. She says she prefers the bigger print to that of the small print in her other Bible. She tells me it makes it easier to read and helps her to keep her place. She also likes how it helps her learn the order of the Books of the Bible.  Snoopy would like me to talk about the colors. She loves the design on the cover and the "super cool" pictures that are throughout the bible. She says the pictures make it fun and helps her to remember the story and the verse.  They took it to Sunday school this past Sunday and it was the talk of the class. 
Zonderkidz has some really great items they never seem to disappoint me. I would love for everyone to read what the other crew reviewers have to say about the Faith Builders Bible.

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}


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Maple Syrup

The time has come to start turning our sap into maple syrup.  First you need to build a fire and find a big pot the biggest you can get. We used out camping pot since its been over an open fire a lot any way. I didn't feel like building a fire pit today so I improvised with an old BBQ. You basically have to get the sap boiling and let it reduce. As it boils down you just keep adding more sap to the pot. Eventually you will run out of sap to add to the pot. At this point you continue to let it boil down tell it fits in a standard kitchen pot. At this point you can take it in to the cook stove to finish the process. Ours took from 7 am to 9 pm to get to this point. The next day we started the second part of the process. You have to continue to boil the reduced sap eventually it will turn into a syrup. We know our syrup is done when it sheets off the back of a spoon. Then you need to filter it and put it in a jar. 

We had about 8 gallons of sap which cooked down to this one lovely tasty jar of homemade Maple Syrup.