Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easter Egg Hunting

We hit the first of the Easter egg hunts this week. This one is by far our favorite. The local outreach cam host it every year. They offer a horse ride, an egg hunt and a bunch of games. The girls mostly go for the horse ride and the marshmallow shoot out. Those are there two favorite activities but the really do seem to enjoy them all. We had loads of fun and the girls spent most of the day there.

Its a great organization and they really help a lot of families in our area. Hear is a couple of the pictures as the girls got ready to hunt there eggs.

Spring is on its way!

Temperatures have finally warmed up hear in MO. The girls have been spending more and more time out side. This last week we got in some serious time at the archery range and the park. They also spent a great deal of time playing in the mud in the front yard.

With the warming temperatures comes gardening season. We are planning what will be going into our garden this year. We are keeping it to things that we eat. We only want to grow what we can use since we have a limited amount of space available. So far the girls have settled on broccoli, spaghetti squash, pickling cucumbers, white radishes, carrots, tomato's, green beans, and artichokes. Everything but the artichokes will go into our raised beds. We will be trying out a small straw bail garden this year. Lettuce will be going into those since they are higher off the ground it will be harder for the rabbits to get to. We will also be planting a large plot of calendula flowers, herbs and spices. The girls started blueberry seeds about a month a go they have finally sprouted. We had a lot of excitement over them as blueberries are the girls favorite. I don't know if they will make it but we are giving it a try. If they do well we should have about 6 or more blueberry bushes. How ever it takes about 2 years before they start to produce any berries.

We have begun to prepare the garden. This mean turning in compost and peat moss to try and improve soil quality. The girls find this process quite enjoyable. Mostly because they get to get dirty and play in the water. 

We are also getting out and doing some hiking and just visiting some of our favorite places. Big Spring which is about 20 min up the road from us. It is a huge spring that bubbles out of the ground. It has this amazing boiling action and its absolutely beautiful. We stopped by for a quick visit Thursday just to see how it was looking. With all the rain and snow melt its interesting to see the changes in our water ways. Normally this spring is crystal clear. But on this trip is was sort of a green color and you could not see through it. There were no rangers around on this trip but we think its is due to all the extra water that was coming out from the rain and snow melt. The spring tends to flood the area at times. The sound from the water coming out of the spring is so loud. That when you are standing next to it you have to almost yell to hear each other talk. I though we would share some quick photos that we took so you can get an idea of what we saw.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Critical Thinking Company Review
I have been working with the vender GPA LEARN on a product review called GPALOVEMATH. You can check them out here at http://www.greatparentsacademy.com/ . As you can tell from the product name this company loves math. GPALOVEMATH is a super cool online math program. It is designed for kindergarten through 5th grade. It uses animated characters to teach math in a fun way. GPALOVEMATH offers supplemental math help with over 150 lessons and over 10,000 practice problems per grade level. If your child does 4-5 lessons a week they should finish there grade level in approximately 10 months. It has built in tracking and the program sends you a email of what lesson your child completed and how they did. It also offers cool surprises and customizable rewards to encourage your child's learning. Pricing is simple you can do a yearly subscription where you get all grades k-5 for a special introductory price of $129 per child per year (use promo code GPAINTRO15) its regularly $149. or you can do a monthly subscription of $12.99 per month per child.
The girls finished there main math curriculum a month or so a go. We have been scrambling to pull together review work. That is until I was introduced to GPALOVEMATH. It is designed as a supplemental math program but I am having a hard time keeping my girls off it. My five year old is currently working on the first grade level. My 7 year old is doing the second grade level. I have had to limit them to one lesson a day. If I didn't have a limit she would probably have the program finished in a month. I will use the kindergarten level as my example. Each grade level has a different teacher. They also take place in a different setting. The kindergarten grade level takes place in the Artic and her instructor is a cute penguin. The instructor talks to you so make sure your computer has sound. The program uses a learning path each lesson builds on its self. Yesterday she did a lesson on measuring. It starts out with an instruction section. Where the Penguin explains the lesson and gives plenty of examples of how to do each problem in this case how to measure to the nearest inch.
After the instruction section there are practice problems that your child is ask to do. Each problem is read aloud to your child. They then use the skills learned in the lesson to solve the problem. If they answer the  problem is incorrectly they are given a chance to try it again. We found the problems to be grade level appropriate. We like the practice problems and they have really helped the girls. I do how ever wish it could tell them what they have done wrong after a couple of try's.
Once all the practice problems have been completed they move on to the quiz portion. Quiz questions are also read to them.  Super helpful if you have a kindergartener that is learning to read. Or if you have an auditory learner. Both grade levels we are using give 10 quiz questions. Once the quiz is completed it gives your child a grade. It tells them how many they got wrong. It gives them the chance to see what problems they got incorrect. It also awards points. You get a different amount of points depending on how you did on the quiz. The better you do them more points you get. You also get a badge. You can get Rock Star, Excellent, or Nice Job. 
The points your child earns for lessons can be redeemed for prizes under the motivate section of there account. You will set this up when you first sign up. You can also customize what prizes are offered to your child or you can let the program choose them for you. I went the custom route. We added prized like Ice cream party, trip to the water park, stay up 30 min past bed time, play day at the park. They can even use the points to shop for there own reward. One of the rewards that was available last week was a toys r us gift card. My girls each earned a $10 toys r us gift card. All rewards must approved by the parent. The rewards have been a great motivator for the girls. They are currently trying to out do each other to see who can get the most prizes.  The toys r us gift card has been a favorite though. Its not a place we get to shop at often so that is a real treat for them.
As the parent this is my favorite part.  You will get an email each time your child has completed a lesson. So no matter where I am at, If I have my phone with me I know they have completed what they were suppose to be doing. The email tells you what lesson they did. How long they spend on the lesson. It also tells what score they got on the quiz. If your child had trouble with the quiz you will get a notice that they need to try the lesson again. I find this super helpful as they are currently doing the program independently. I like receiving emails it keeps me updated and it allows them to build the skills they need to work more independently.  The email reports also keeps them from being able to skip the lesson part with out me knowing it. I can tell by how long they spent on the hole lesson if they tried to skip or not. You will also get a weekly summary of how your child did for the week. This is very handy to see how the week went at a glance. The parent dashboard is great it allows me to look between children and see what and how they have been doing. It also allows me to modify and approve prizes. I can even send them encouraging notes from my dashboard to there's. This is what the parent dash board looks like. Its very simple to understand and gives you all the important information you need in one simple location.
 My girls are completely thrilled with GPALOVEMATH. I like the yearly subscription option the best. It allows the girls to bounce from grade level to grade level as they need. Like many homeschool kids they are often between grade levels. So the yearly subscription would work best for us. This is a programs that the girls will learn a lot from and will continue to want to use for a few years. Check out what other Crew members are saying by clicking the link below.
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In Freedom's Cause Review
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Friday, March 13, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co. Math Analogies Level 1 Review

Critical Thinking Company Review

The last few weeks I got to review a learning product from The Critical Thinking Co. They have a lot of great products and you can check there site The Critical Thinking Co. I Reviewed Math Analogies Level 1

Math Analogies Level 1 is designed for grades 2-3. It uses grade level standards that have been identified by the National Council of Teaching Mathematics. Math Analogies Level 1 helps students develop the ability to reason analogically. This is a great problem solving skill that helps kids develop better mathematical skills. This Analogies teaches kids to break down a problem into smaller parts to make it easier to recognize familiar problems to help students find the solution. A two computer download license is $6.99. You can order here at http://www.criticalthinking.com/math-analogies-level-1-software.html For those of you with tablets. It is also available on the google play store and the app store.

Critical Thinking Company ReviewWe have the downloadable Pc version of Math Analogies Level 1. The Pc version requires Windows® 8/7/Vista. We are using it on windows 8 and so far I have not had any problems operating the program. The program downloaded super easy. It only took a few minutes to complete even with my super slow internet. I chose to have an icon put on my desktop so its easy for my daughter to find.

I am currently using Math Analogies Level 1 with my second grader. We started working with the program three days a week.  I quickly learned that analogies are something we really need to work with more. The first attempt gave her 152 problems. It was too many problems to do at one time and she quickly became over whelmed with it after just a few problems. I made the decision to break that first attempt down over three days. She got it finished but only got 54% of them correct.

After that first attempt I realized she had no idea how to actually read the problems.  I had to sit with her and explain what she was being ask to do. The problems are written in a way that most kids are not used reading. An example is  G : g  :: C :_____ . Which should be read as G is to g as C is to ___.    Once she realized that "is to" implied that there was a connection between the first part and the second part of the phrase and that "as" showed that the second part would be similar to the first part it started clicking. Here are a couple screen shots of some of the analogies that she did. It will give you an idea of how the problems are written out.

It took me reading out loud a few problems for her to start to get the connection.  After we did few of the problems together she started catching on and began to show improvement and understanding of how to read each problem.  Once that happened she began to get more and more answers correct with each attempt and it took her less and less time per problem to solve it correctly. After that each attempt gave her less problems to solve.  It gives you only the problems that you got wrong on the previous attempt. We still take a day or two to finish an attempt. But she is showing improvement and I am thrilled about that.

This has been a great supplement to our current math program which does not focus on analogies.  I will be starting my kinder out on Math Analogies Level 1 when she starts first grade. I feel it has helped to round out our math curriculum for the year.

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Critical Thinking Company Review
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Another week is Here

Here it is Wednesday evening and things are crazy around our house. We spent the weekend with my
sister and her crew cleaning out the big cedar trees out front. We finally got some nice weather and the girls got in some serious outside PE time. We spent all day today at the park and archery range. Snoopy is getting better at pulling her bow and is working hard at it. Hotrod girl really enjoyed helping her figure out her bow. This is the first time she has really be able to pull the bow far enough to actually stick an arrow in the target. So that was an exciting moment for us. They both will probably end up shooting better than me in the end. We have actually managed to get quite a bit of classwork done this week. The girls worked so well that we are even ahead in science and history. We just finished a chapter on the layers of the earth. 
We took a quick field trip on Monday to the Shut-ins we wanted to observe the changes in the river now that the snow pack has finally melted off. The girls couldn't believe how the 9in of snow we had this last month could make the river swell that much. We had a good time hiking and I even managed to snag a few pictures of the rising water and the girls looking over the edge of the bluff.

Pictures from our field trip:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Visual Learning Systems Review

Visual Learning Systems Review
We are discovering new learning products left and right these days. Visual Learning Systems is the newest addition to our arsenal of learning products. You can check out there site here at Visual Learning Systems. There are two levels to Visual Learning systems. Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5). Then there is Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12). We have mostly been using the Elementary Edition for grades K-5.
Visual Learning Systems' is a online science publisher that provides quality videos and content to help students get more out of learning. Through the use of videos, interactive graphics, images and teachers guides, Students get to learn in a new way. Digital Science online elementary edition (grades k-5) or the Digital Science online secondary edition (grades6-16) are yearly subscriptions. You will subscribe to either the elementary edition or the secondary edition depending on your children's needs. You could possibly subscribe to both if you had children in both levels. A yearly subscription runs for $99.00.

We have been using Digital Science online as a supplement to our current curriculum. We have been using between 2 and 3 days a week. It has been a wonderful addition to our current science lessons. The video lessons are on the top of the girls list of likes about the site.  The videos in the lessons are nice and sharp. The sound is clear and easy to understand. The videos even play well on my super slow internet. To find a lesson you simple select the subject and it opens a selections of lessons that are available for you to use. For us this means I would pull up content that pertains to the unit we are currently studying in our main science curriculum. Last week we were reading a unit on muscles. I logged into Digital Science Online and found the subject I needed. I then selected a video or videos that had to do with the human body and the muscular system. The girls could then watch the provided videos. You can either select to watch a single video or you can have it play all the videos for that lesson.  After they completed the video lessons I could then go to the teachers guides tab and pull up one of the printable activities or work pages as my kids call them. The work pages in my 2nd graders grade level range were simple enough for her to understand with out too much help from me.  The work pages for the human body and muscular system were a little above my k5 head since it was an upper elementary lesson. She does love the videos and I feel that she gets more from them than just having the information read to her. There are also pre and post test available for each lesson. I found these to be very useful as I am not all that great at writing my own test. The pre and post test are mostly multiple choice, fill in the blank or true/False.

This last week we are learning about the digestive system.  We had done lessons in our main science book but the girls just couldn't picture how it all worked. I was able to go to Digital Science Online and quickly find some really great videos and pictures to help them see what's going on inside there body every time they eat or drink. While the lessons were a bit above there grade level. The girls understood and remembered more from the two short videos they watched than they did from the hole lesson we read about in our science book. The work pages and pre and post test were too hard for the girls grade levels so we did not try them out for this particular lesson. They now get how there food is digested and will gladly share the process with you if you ask them.

Some times our science lessons just need that little extra something to help them get the big picture. Like many kids mine are visual learners.  Digital Science Online is amazing for kids that need to see it to understand it. Visual Learning Systems is a great way to give your classroom a little boost and make learning a little more fun. I don't believe I could use visual learning systems as a complete science curriculum. My girls would go through what's offered for there grade level way to quick. But it does make for a really great supplemental material. It has become very helpful to both me and the girls. Digital Science Online by Visual Learning Systems hit the nail on the head. The site is easy to navigate and the content is great. One of the best parts Is, I don't have to worry about inappropriate ad's because there are none. All the videos are safe for my kids to watch unlike some of the other free video viewing sites out there that contain ad's.

Visual Learning Systems Review

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Visual Learning Systems Review
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

53 Progress

the box tubing is the upper shock mount that I made
It will never be seen once the bed is on.
We are still ankle deep in snow here in Missouri and more is falling as I type. Today was a good day to play in the warm shop. The girls had there class work done early so I had some free time.  Work is progressing slowly on the 53. Last week we got the mounts made for the rear shock mounts. The original mounts that we bought would not work with the air shocks that I need to put on the truck. We made some minor modification to the original mounts. We extended them by about an inch and a half to get clearance between the shock and the springs. Then we had to make an additional upper mount in order to get the correct angle and height that the new air shocks require.

Next on our list is to stuff a LS1 engine into the narrow frame of the 53. This too will take some modifications but its nothing my torch and welder cant handle.

out home made blinking exit sign
we used strip LED lights it looks cool when its
Mocking up the engine so we can get the mounts set.