Friday, October 9, 2015

Progeny Press - TOS Review

Reading a book alone is part of being educated but there are times that you want to dig a bit deeper into the book. Study Guides are one way to do this. I was recently given the opportunity to review Sam the Minuteman Study Guide from Progeny Press.

Progeny Press Review

Progeny Press began in 1992 by Michael and Rebecca Gilliland. It was created to meet the need for guides to help explain and examine literature all from a Christian viewpoint. One of the goals is for the student to be able to understand and analyse literature. They have over 110 study guides available.

I received an E-Guide for Sam the Minuteman to review. I had a bit of problems downloading the book but Progeny Press was helpful in resolving the issues I had. I downloaded it and had it printed. I found it easy to just go ahead and print the whole guide at one time. I think I like to be able to see and flip the pages. I want a paper copy.

I selected Sam the Minuteman as I thought this would be a great supplement to where we are in our history studies. I ended up having more of a problem getting the book than I thought. Most of the books are available in your library or online.

Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley is part of the An I Can Read Book is written at a Level 3 for Grades 2-4 level. The Progeny Press study guide states for Grade 1-3. I think this is the first Level 3 book that she has read. I could tell that this was stretching her. There were a number of words that she did not know.

This is the first time that I have used a study with Miss K. I have used a few with J in the past. We did this together which gave me time to see how she was understanding the story and how she was processing it. One of the first activities was using the dictionary to look up words. That was the first time that she has used a dictionary.

Some of the other activities in the book included talking about the mood that the author creates, cause and effect, word pictures and a few other things. I could tell that some of these areas were really pushing and stretching for Miss K. She did like the word pictures and thought that calling the British soldiers Lobster Backs was funny. She enjoyed the crossword puzzle.

Progeny Press writes the study guides with a Christian worldview. While you might be reading and studying a book that is not necessarily Christian in writing, there are Christian principles that are taught. One of the principles in this book was courage. There was also a discussion about anger as it related to the story and also examples from the Bible.

Using a study guide exposed Miss K to some new areas of learning. It also showed me some areas that she does not yet understand.

Study guides give a deeper understanding of the story. I was impressed with this study guide and would consider others from Progeny Press.

Progeny Press Review

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Lessons I have learned

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and throughout this month I will share different things related to Down Syndrome. Bits and pieces of Miss K's story and be found through out the blog, here is one bit.

As I think of the lessons learned, one of the first things I remember is learning in new and deeper ways that God is in control. There are so many little details of God guiding us -- changing doctors and hospitals which meant we were at a hospital with a NICU when she was born instead of the small hospital that would have meant she would move to the national hospital which I did not like. A cardiologist that was willing to perform open heart surgery 72 hours after she had a major issue during the heart catheterisation. The comfort that I found in all of that was that this was not a surprise to God. He knew all along that she would be born in Taiwan, that she would have Down Syndrome. He had it all planned and it was not a surprise. God's sovereignty was a lesson I learned.

I also learned in new ways that God is our provider. Twenty-six days in the NICU, two major surgeries, numerous tests and procedures at a cost of about US$300 for us. God is the provider. A few days before she was to be released a nurse looked at her account and told us that it was about NT$330,000 or maybe it was NT$190,000 (the numbers are a bit fuzzy). When we went to make arrangements for a payment plan we were told that the bill was NT$9000 that it had been covered by a high authority. Yes, the highest authority that there is. There are so many other ways that God provided -- a physical therapist who donated her time, a special needs program not far from our house, a Christian nurse who sat and prayed with us the night we thought she was not going to make it. God is our provider.

I have learned that God loves us and in all things God is good even when it doesn't seem that way to us. I can keep trusting God. These are things that I need to hold on to each day.

I am thankful for the things I have learned about God from having a child with Down Syndrome.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reading Kingdom - TOS Review

Reading is one of Miss K's strong subjects but at the same time I am always looking to strengthen that skill. I think she is an excellent sight word reader but I want to continue to see if we can improve her reading skills. Miss K enjoys working on the computer so I was thrilled to be given the chance to review Reading Kingdom Online from Reading Kingdom.

Reading Kingdom Review

"The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teachers children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level."

The Reading Kingdom was developed by Dr. Marion Blank, an expert in literacy and language. She is the author of the book, The Reading Remedy. She has taken her experience and developed Reading Kingdom.

We have used various websites, book, and programs through the years as we build Miss K's reading skills. What makes The Reading Kingdom different and unique? Dr. Blank says that, Phonics is just one skill of reading and yet that is often the skill we are working to build but in order there are other skills needed. Reading Kingdom works to build not only phonics or sounds but also sequencing, writing, meaning, grammar, and comprehension. This is causing me to pause and think about how much time we spend working on phonics. I might just need to spend more time on sight words.

Miss K used the iPad for the Reading Kingdom. The touch screen makes it so much easier for her than using the mouse which requires a bit more skill. The program is designed to work best with Chrome which meant we had to download that to the iPad for use with this.

Reading Kingdom Review

The first thing that the student needs to do is an assessment or evaluation to see the level the child is at and where to begin them. There is a reminder to the parents or teacher not to help the child but that this is to demonstrate what the child knows. That was a good reminder but it was repeated a few too many times for me.

This is a program that teaches more than just reading. I was surprised how much spelling was involved. That is not a strong skill for Miss K. I know at times that frustrated her. In order to work on the spelling skill it required using the keyboard, which on the iPad was an on screen keyboard. If she delayed in responding or typed the wrong letter, the program would guide her to the correct letter. I don't think Miss K has done much on the keyboard and that was something big that she needed to learn. I think over the few weeks that we have used this she has improved.

It is recommended that Reading Kingdom be done at least four times a week. I can see the value of that. The program does track visits. I received emails telling me what levels Miss K has finished. She was working to get the points to go to the next level.

Reading Kingdom offers a 30 day free trial.

Reading Kingdom Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

September Review

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are beginning to fall, it is cooler outside, and time for enjoying soup. Today was carrot and coriander, one of my favourites. September is gone and it is October. So what happened in September.

The exciting event in September was my mom's visit. She was here for nine days and we enjoyed showing her our life here as well as a day trip to London. Miss K is still talking about the pancakes that Grandma made.

My mom and I worked on some projects while she was here. We went through the box of unfinished projects and put a border on the Good Night Moon quilt -- now I need some batting and then to quilt it. We bought fabric for binding for another quilt --now I need to finish the border and then quilt that one. The big project was piecing the t-shirt quilt.

It is nice and big and will keep him warm on our cool autumn evenings. I took it to be quilted. Once that is done I will need to sew the binding on and when that is done I can take it off the unfinished projects list.

In addition to my mom coming to visit we had another friend and her children visit for a few days. It was a fun few days of children playing, climbing rocks, playing games and enjoying being with friends.

We did go for a short walk in the peak with my mom and we went to the rocks and played hide and seek. I think we need to find some new walking places.

I am continuing to sort through things and reduce the number of things we have. It is a battle. I went through my clothing and everything is nice and neat at this time.

I have been working on scrapbooking. I am getting caught up and while I am working on those projects, I am sorting through my supplies.

I think that is about all the happened in September.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Greek Urns

We or rather I should say, the kids have drawn Greek Urns in the past. I was excited to find a new project for them. I found this idea online, making a Greek urn from papier mache. I think that was the first time that the kids have done papier mache. 

We prepared the balloons ahead of time. The base is a balloon and then we put cardboard around the top. After putting the papier mache on that we used cardboard to make the handles and added some more papier mache to that. 

Miss K was enjoying putting the newspaper on the balloon. 

Here she is hard at work. I was impressed with her work. I did make her put an old t-shirt on for the project. You can see the cardboard at the bottom which was actually the top of the urn.

J's looks very neat here.

We then put them in the window to dry. Our front window gets good sunlight in the morning. We found paint at an art shop when we were in York so we were ready to paint them.

J did a great job decorating his to make it look like a Greek Urn. Sharpie was the easiest way to decorate the Greek Urns.

I am not sure what Miss K was doing. At first she was adding black so some areas and then she just started drawing lines.

It was a fun project for the kids. It took a few days to do it. I think we enjoyed it and might try another papier mache project in the future.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cave Art

After our holiday this past summer, I am home with the desire to study art history. We saw so much good artwork and I want the children to understand an appreciation for artwork. I will also admit that I wanted to learn about this and so the best way to learn is to teach it. 

We began with cave painting. We read two books about cave painting Discovery in the Cave by Mark Dubowski and The Secret Cave by Emily Arnold McCully.  Those books gave us bits of the story which is interesting.  Then did some of our own cave painting. 

J decided not to do it on the wall through we did close the drapes so it was a bit darker in the room.

He even added a bit of graffiti to his painting. We did laugh about the book we found about Ug the Stone Age boy.

It was fun to study this period of art and learn a bit about the early art. Now we are moving on to Egyptian art.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Along the Way

As we drove to Stoke-on-Trent, we went through a number of little villages or towns. There was one in particular that we decided to go back and visit. The last day that mom was here we did just that. First we went out for breakfast. I enjoy going out for breakfast and that is not something we do often. I wanted my mom to have an English Cooked Breakfast for the cultural experience. She had fish and chips, pasty, and so we added cooked breakfast to the list.

After that we drove to Bakewell. This is a large car park there. I liked that so I didn't have to worry about finding a parking space.

The first place we stopped was a sweet shop. Shelves and shelves of sweets. All different kinds many things I have never heard of. Miss K bought two lollies. 

We wandered through the town. Stopping at the Visitors Centre where Miss K picked up a children's guide of animals to look for in the town. We did about half of that.

Bakewell is famous for the Bakewell Pudding. It seems that three shops sell the original Bakewell Pudding which is a jam pastry with egg and almond filling. I probably should have bought one. There are Bakewell Tarts sold in the supermarket but they are not the same.

We wandered to the church and enjoyed looking around. The church was open so we could go inside.

Miss K is looking at the baptism font.

We then went to the Bakewell Old House Museum. It is an old Tudor House that is a museum. There were a number of interesting things there from various time periods. Again I have to say that I think museums and various other places really make it a place that children enjoy visiting from the dress-up clothing to the doll house or just the explore or search and find sheets. Miss K had three pages just in Bakewell.

We walked down the hill from the museum, past the church and back into the town. This row of houses just seems to be what you think you should see in an English village.

We enjoyed pausing and looking at the ducks and geese in the river.

Miss K and I together.

My mom said the visit was just what she would think an English town would look like. I think we were able to show her bits of our life, the area where we live, and even London. It was a great trip. We miss her.

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