Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brain Building Resources

One of the goals for this year was to add some brain building activities into our week. Brain building exercises are activities that help to increase our short-term memory or our thinking skills. (That is just my definition.)

A number of these are things that I have picked up over the years.

Daily Warm-Ups Logic -- Daily Warms-ups has books for a variety of subjects. I added the Logic book this year. There are 180 short exercises in this book.

                                "When you find something that you have lost,
                                 why is it that you always find it in the last place
                                 that you look?"

Another book that I have is Chinese Brain Twisters. These are activities involve toothpicks and making different shapes.

I have some Brain Puzzles from Usborne. Some of these are challenging for Miss K.

Another thing that I have are digit span cards. Each card has a number of digits. You show the card to the student for three seconds, put the card away and then ask the student to repeat the number back. I purchased these cards from Little Giant Steps. You can purchase sets of various numbers of digits. These can be done as either visual or audio.

Sometimes for Miss K I just give her some of the sequence strips and have her tell me what is hiding.

A few years ago I bought these books from someone. There are three books in this set.

These books are great for short term memory building activities. There are flaps and you cover the right page showing the left page. Then you cover the left page and reveal the right side. Then ask the student what was hidden.

ThinkFun has a number of games like Shape by Shape and Rush Hour. We have a few of these and have found some in thrift shops. Even playing memory can be a brain building activity.

I have also set up an account on Lumosity. Those are good activities for J and myself as well.

We have fun doing these together. I do think it helps in building short term memory and thinking skills. We usually try to do these on Wednesdays.

What are your favourite brain building resources?

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grapevine Studies - TOS Review

I am always looking for new ways to teach the Bible. I love ways that get the children involved in some way with the learning. I like when they can engage more than just listening. I was thrilled when we were recently given the opportunity to review Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob from Grapevine Studies.

Grapevine Studies Review

Grapevine Studies is both a Bible study method and curriculum. Grapevine Studies have both overview studies and topical studies. I think one of the things that makes Grapevine Studies unique is that students learn the major characters and events in the Bible while drawing stick figures (my children have some elaborate stick figures and do not always want to conform so we have rainbow snakes and other things).

Each study has a teacher's manual and then students manuals. Depending on the age and abilities of the child determines the student book level. The children might be working on a different level but the lesson is basically the same. This works great for multiple children at different levels. On the website there is a clear explanation of the different levels and appropriate age for the levels, here.

As I mentioned, we reviewed Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob which is 12 lessons. I was given a downloadable Teacher's Manual, Student Guide Level 1 and Student Guide Level 2. I printed each of these just in black and white. I probably should have printed the teacher's manual in colour so that it would show the colour of pencil that should be used. I could have used it on the computer but find that it is too distracting to have the computer on the table while we do school. That is just me knowing how we work or in this case don't work at times.

I originally thought Miss K and I would do this but J joined in. I should have had a higher level for him but he just worked on Level 2 since that was the extra we had.

The teacher's manual includes a daily and weekly schedule which helps to see how the lessons are structured and what do to each day. I was impressed with the reminder to the teacher of the need to pray and prepare before teaching the lesson.

The beginning of the timeline

We did this in place of our Bible curriculum. We began in Genesis 1 and began with an overview timeline of what we would study. As we got into each lesson, we read the passages, talked about it and then drew the picture or wrote a list that helped us to remember what we had just read about.

I like the fact that Job was considered in this timeline which fits with the dates of the book of Job. It was interesting to see what the children considered their favourite part of each lesson.

Adam and Eve getting married with an organ

I was impressed with Grapevine Studies. I felt that that as we did each lesson the children engaged with the passages and were able to reflect as we drew.

Miss K's timeline

Grapevine Studies has a number of studies and other Crew Members reviewed other studies so check their reviews for more information.

Grapevine Studies Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

October in Review

Let's just pretend it is the end of October. Ignore the fact that it really is the 10th which means we are moving towards the middle of November. Allow me to turn back the calendar and review October.

The big event in October was turning 50 or 15 as Miss K says -- she gets her numbers confused. My husband had a slightly surprise party for me.

One of the goals for the year was hospitality combined with being more connected in the community here. Even thought my husband was traveling we were able to have friends over. We had a friend and her children one evening as both of our husbands were traveling. We also had another friend and her children over for a meal while their kitchen was being remodelled. And we hosted the tea for international students. I am not sure how English our tea was but it seemed that people enjoyed themselves.

The kids and I did put on our hiking boots and go for a short walk -- oops that might have been November.

I didn't start any new projects and didn't finish any either. Now is the time to find the Jesse Tree ornaments and see what needs to be done to finish those. I might be able to finish them this year though I have thought that other years.

I had a goal of an outing a month. Just thinking of getting out and exploring the area where we live. Our outing in October was to Hull.

I am continuing to sort through and try to get rid of things. I did some sewing -- sandwich wraps and paperless paper towels which used some fabric. I am doing another sort through school books to see what we can get rid of. I just saw two charity shop donation bags that came through the mail slot so I will see what I can get together for those. Every now and then we get a plastic bag in the mail slot from a charity shop asking for donations. On a specific day they will come by and pick up the bag. You just need to leave it outside and they will collect it. Those are mainly for clothing and other soft things.

I think that is about all that happened in October. Just two months to finish the year. We are looking forward to November and December. We are beginning to plan our Thanksgiving celebration. I was able to find Libby pumpkin and French's onion rings.

I need to start working on Christmas cards and other Christmas projects.

I think that wraps up October. What did you do in October?

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere - TOS Review

Storybooks about math -- do they really exist? They do and you can learn math reading a story. Recently we were given a copy of Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere A Fibonacci Tale by Ann McCallum.

Math was not one of my strong subjects. I loved reading. So the ability to combine math learning and a story is appealing. Think with me how often we remember the illustration but forget the point of the sermon. We connect with stories so let's connect with a story that teaches math while reading.

Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere A Fibonacci Tale is written by Ann McCallum and illustrated by Gideon Kendall. It is a 32 page color illustrated book.

Long ago the Pied Piper lived in the town of Chee. Chee was famous for the cabbages that grew there. The Pied Piper decides that the people will no longer give the wizard the cabbages each day. Bu in that town lived a girl named Amanda. It is Amanda who finds the first rabbits in Chee, Knot and Fibb.  Every two days the rabbits increase.  As you read the story, you begin to understand the Fibonacci sequence and how Fibb and Knot from Chee teach you all about Fibonacci sequence.

In the Fibonacci sequence or Fibonacci series each number is the sum of the two previous numbers. That is the basic bits about this. I am sure advanced mathematicians would have more to say. The Fibonacci sequence is seen in flowers, in nature, even in our hands.

This was a simple book to read but yet a story to remember. My children both enjoy read aloud so we enjoyed this one day during lunch. It was easy to read in one sitting and at the end we talked about some of the Fibonacci series that we see around us. We did some of the math, adding the numbers and seeing what was next in the sequence. We just enjoyed learning math through reading a story.

Ann McCallum has written a few other books and other TOS Crew members reviewed those books.

Ann McCallum Books Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Brinkman Adventures - TOS Review

The Brinkman Adventures combines two things that we enjoy -- missionary stories and audio dramas. We were recently given an opportunity to review Brinkman Adventures Season 3.

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review
The Brinkman Adventures is a radio drama series combining the "wacky adventures of a big family and mix them with exciting, true stories of modern-day Christian heroes".  These are based on real events in missionaries lives. Each season has 12 episodes that are about 25 minutes long each so there are hours of stories to listen to.

Listening to missionary stories is beneficial in so many ways. As we listen to the stories, our faith can be challenged and deepened to trust God more. We hear ways that God is working around the world, we are reminded of God's power.  We are also reminded of our calling to "Go into all the world." As we listen to missionary stories, we can know more how to pray for missionaries.

For this review we received the downloadable MP3 of Season 3 which included episodes 25 to 36. It was easy to download and then put in the iPod so we were ready to listen to the stories. These are also available on CD.

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

The stories in Season 3 include the following:
  • God's Mule
  • Mountain Mover
  • The Silent Ambassador
  • Translating Trouble
  • Man-Up
  • Acorns & Oaks
  • A Saint's Story 2 parts
  • Untouched
  • Busy Bees and a Bullhorn
  • Missionary Tourist 2 parts
This is the first time that we have listened to Brinkmann Adventures. While it is Season 3, you can easy begin here and enjoy the stories without having to start at Season 1 or just get Season 1, 2, and 3 and have lots of stories to listen to.

This was perfect for evenings while we were working on projects in the school area, we listened to the stories. I worked on cutting fabric for sewing, Miss K was threading buttons and J was busy with a project. We all listened together. I enjoyed The SilentAmbassador and will admit I was a bit teary-eyed as I listened the story and realising how God worked and gave confidence to one young girl to be able to obey his leading in her life. J liked Translating Trouble, listening to the challenges that the missionaries faced and how in that they turned to God and how God worked. Miss K enjoyed the story and asked all kinds of questions as she was trying to understand. I think we were all challenged. 

One of the features of these stories that I really enjoyed is found on the website and that is the story behind the story. There they have bits of the real story, they tell parts of the story that the drama was based on. I enjoyed reading about Thomas who was willing to sacrifice so much to obey God. He took risks to do what God wanted him to do. He went when no one else would go. 

Season 3 as well as the other seasons can be purchased from Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Too Nice to Stay Inside

Saturday and Sunday, the end of October and the beginning of November, were beautiful days here. The sun was shining and the weather was warm enough that a sweater or jumper depending on your language was all that was needed.

I decided that we just couldn't spend the day inside.

For the past year we have driven past this road and said, "we should park there and go for a walk." Saturday was just that day.

That is part of a 14 mile walk around the city. I think that would be a fun thing to do but Saturday was not the day.

We walked a bit through the paths. We stopped at the stream to play Pooh Sticks but it was a fast flowing stream so it was difficult to decide who won.

I think I live in the most beautiful place in England. I love the rolling hills, the sheep, the green fields, the many places to walk.

I think this year I have paid more attention to the change in the leaves. Maybe because people have asked me what it is like. Maybe because last autumn we spent almost 4 weeks in the States.

Here is a path through the woods. Miss K was seeing slugs that were not there. Everything seemed to be a slug to her.

You can't miss her with her pink coat and overalls. Pink is her favourite colour.

I don't think I can really show the rolling hills along Quiet Lane which is not always quiet and windy and narrow so you need to keep in your lane as you can't see around the corner. We called it sideswipe lane.

It was beautiful just to be outside and enjoy the sun.

Today the forecast was fog and it was foggy for part of the day. The sun is setting earlier and earlier each day. I am glad we were able to go out over the weekend.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Maestro Classics - TOS Review

I grew up in a home with music playing. It was either the radio or the record player. My parents had a record player that would stack the records so you could listen to hours of music. If the radio was on, it was often classical music playing. We often have music on at our house as well. I was excited to have the opportunity to review Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics and learn a bit about this piece of music.

Maestro Classics Review

Maestro Classics began as a desire of a conductor and executive director of an orchestra to bring classical music to children and families. The story of the first time they took their son to the orchestra is one that will make you smile but it was because of that incident that the desire to find a way to introduce children to classical music was born. Together using their musical abilities and background they created Maestro Classics for children originally at the Kennedy Centre and then available on CD for children and adults everywhere to enjoy.

We reviewed Peter and Wolf and received a MP3 download of the CD and a PDF copy of the book that does with the CD. I printed the book just in black and white, which is not quite as exciting but it was what I was able to do at home. The book included information and activities. There was a bit of information about the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, activities, and bits about Russian instruments. One of the first activities in the book was matching the instruments which is so much a part of Peter and Wolf. Miss K did that while we listen to the music with the narration which helped us to fill in the information and understand the music.

Maestro Classics Review

The CD included the music with narration and also without. There were also some additional information and music such as some Russian music with Russian instruments.

We enjoyed listening to the music and doing the activities. I think this was the first time that I sat with Miss K and we listened to Peter and the Wolf explaining the sounds. She was able to pick out the different instruments and tell bits of the story based on what she was listening to.  J listened to the music with us as well. He also helped Miss K with the activities, maybe I should have printed a copy for him.

I was impressed with the quality of the music. The music is played by the London philharmonic Orchestra. The CD had over an hour of music and introduction to the piece.

Listening to music has so many benefits. I think Maestro Classics is a great way to have fun listening to music and to do it together as a family.

Maestro Classics are available both in a physical copy and downloadable. Some of the title available include Peter and the Wolf, The Nutcracker, The Story of Swan Lake, Carnival of the Animals, My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music, and more. Maestro Classics gives you "Stories in Music."

I might add one to Miss K's stocking. I am sure she would enjoy either The Nutcracker or The Story of Swan Lake.

Maestro Classics Review
Crew Disclaimer

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