Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible - TOS Review

For the past few weeks Miss K has been using and reviewing Self-Paced Bible Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua from Veritas Press. We received a one year subscription to this course.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

I was familiar with Veritas Press as we have used their timeline cards and I have spent hours pouring through the catalog. I have heard about their self-paced courses and was excited that we had an opportunity to review this Bible.

What is Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible?
Veritas Press Self-Paced Bible an online course. There are 128 lessons covering  32 events. The lessons include story, songs for memory review, activities, review of the material, with bits of fine art, and geography included. The program has tests and automatically does the grading for you.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

Why did we review this?
I think it is helpful to share a bit of my thinking as to why we reviewed this. One of the first reasons we reviewed this is simply I have heard so much about Veritas Press' online courses and I wanted to try it. I was also wondering how Miss K with her special needs would be able to handle this course, would this be an option for her learning.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

How did we use this program?
Miss K used this four to five times a week. The program was one that she could easily sit and do herself for the most part. We did it on the computer and she is able to move the mouse without a program to navigate through the program.

Each lesson takes about 20-30 minutes and is a combination of story, review, and timeline/events song. I really like the way the review is built in. Each event has about three lessons and then the test. The grading is calculated based worksheets and the test after each event. For Miss K I am not concerned about her grade. I did have her take the tests.

Days of Creation Review

How did the program work for us?
It was easy for me to set up the account. When we login the course is listed and it begins where you left off even if it is in the middle of a lesson. There were a few days that we did not get to finish the lesson that day and so the next day we just began where we left off.

It is easy to see the grading. It is also easy to see what lessons have been completed and what lessons are next.

Miss K loved the program. I never had to push her to do Bible. She would eagerly ask to do it and would often ask to do another lesson. Her grade is not that great but again at this time that is not important to me. She did learn things. I enjoyed listening to her sing along with the review song. The activities were varied and she was about to most of it without my help. She struggled with the questions of what chapter is this event in. The only other struggle that she had was in the Tower of Babel lesson there was a puzzle of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting The Tower of Babel. Miss K was struggling and I tried to help and I needed more time to do the puzzle. I wish there was a way that I could have forwarded through that portion of the lesson instead I sat down later when I had some time and did the puzzle for her.

Overall I loved the program and Miss K did as well. I feel like she learned somethings and enjoyed it.  It really was a program that she was able to do on her own.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

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Ante Up - Book Review

One of my goals for 2016 was to expand my reading, reading classics, varied authors and books. I was am using the Tim Challies reading challenge as a guide. I am also keeping a list of the books that I have read this year. I have begun to read classics, books I can't believe I have never read, new authors, and new topics.

Sometimes I just want to read something that is easy to read. For me that is Christian fiction from one of my favourite authors, Chautona Havig. I recently had the opportunity to be part of the launch team and preview Chautona Havig's new book, Ante Up the fourth in The Aggie's Inheritance Series.

It does help a bit if you have read the other books in the series as it introduces you to Aggie and her family of nieces and nephews as they become a family and through changes in life.

When we meet Aggie in Ready or Not, she is young and ready to for whatever is coming her way. Then the unexpected happens and she is becomes the guardian of her nieces and nephews. Aggie survives with the help of friends and through lots of hymns.

Life has changed for Aggie now married with a son and another child on the way. There have been other challenges in their lives as well. The Aggie that I knew is struggling things are not easy even to the point that she is no long singing.

This book shows us a new side of Aggie. Life is not easy and she is struggling in how she responds to life. She is pregnant which you can tell from the cover. I don't want to give you more details and ruin a good read.

Ante Up is now available. If you order by 7 July there is a free gift, Tune My Heart, a devotional based on hymns.

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Chautona Havig in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to share a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Exploring Our City

The other week I wanted to go out and do something. I have a list of places to go for the day but I didn't have a day so I looked on Trip Advisor for some suggestions of things to do in our city. Trip Advisor is great for both holidays and also around town.

I decided to go to Kelham Island which I am not sure is really an island. The museum there is mainly about the industrial past of the city.

The city is known for stainless steel. There were displays of tools.

The largest steam engine in Europe was there and twice a day they start the engine. It gets loud and you know what they are doing.

Miss K is learning about pushing and pulling used in tools.

I thought it was interesting all the pieces that go together to make a pocket knife. They had pretend pieces there and you could try the puzzle to put it together.

Hammers from A to Z. There were 25 hammers the name of each beginning with a letter of the alphabet. There were hammers that I didn't even know existed.

T was interesting -- the toffee hammer.

Henderson's Relish - let me just address a cultural difference first relish from my cultural background is like pickle relish, it is bits of something but this relish is not the same. Another side note is the local HE group contacted them to do a tour and we learned that there are only six people working there to make all the bottles of relish and they did not have employees to give tours.

Miss K found a phone booth and so we had to get a photo.

There is at least water on one side of the island.

It was a fun afternoon right here in our own city. We enjoyed it. Now I need to see what else Trip Advisor recommends to do here.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

MySchoolYear.com - TOS Review

I have found that planning and record keeping are two skills that help me stay organised as a homeschooler. Recently I had the opportunity to review My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MySchoolYear.com. I received an annual membership for this review.

MySchoolYear.com Review

My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) is an online program for record keeping and planning. There are numerous features included in this program that helping with both planning and record keeping. Some of the things that help with planning include automated grading, automated attendance tracking, teacher's aid, lesson plan generator, and lesson rescheduler. Record keeping is more than just keeping grades and there are a numerous things that you are prompted to include in here such as events, awards, volunteer work, reading logs, and more.

I love my paper planner but every now and then I ponder and wonder if I should have an online program so that I can easily print and give J assignments for the week. So my thought as I went into this review was wondering if it would give me a weekly report for J's assignments.

I found it easy to set up the account. Once you have your account then is the task of entering all kinds of information about the student. Most of that information is things in my head or written on a paper stuck in my planner. I know I should have more of this down on paper and not rely on my memory.

MySchoolYear.com Review

I am mainly using this for J's work. I entered his assignments for Latin, Maths, and Science. There is Create-A-Plan which splits lessons for you based on number of papers or lessons. For the classes that I was planning that didn't quite work. I divide Latin based on worksheets and just use the book. Maths we do a unique schedule -- Monday is two lessons though it is watch two lessons and problems for the 2nd of the two lessons, Tuesday and Wednesday are one lesson days, Thursday is the test and the best part of the week, no maths on Friday. I did not find an easy way to enter that pattern. There are also options of copying schedules. I just entered for the next few weeks.

Generating a report for the week was super easy. Here is what J's assignments look like for this week or at least the beginning the week.

We have hit high school level work, which means a bit more recording and keeping grades. I was impressed with all the options of things that be kept in this program. You can track hours if needed.

I discovered one feature that might just mean that my paper and pencil might not be used as much -- grading. First I entered his Algebra II grades but that was boring and I didn't even need a calculator to figure the grade. J has taken six tests and all are 100's.

Then I decided to enter the grades for his geography course this past year. When I put together the grading, I made it 20 percent based on quizzes, 30 percent based on papers, and 50 percent based on tests. I didn't really think about all the math that would be required out of me to figure the final grade when I set it up like that. Then I entered it in My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping). I entered the three grade types, the percentage of the grade and then entered each score. The grade was calculated and all I had to do was enter the individual assignments and grades.

If you click on the "View" button, you will see all the grades that go into the grade for that. That was a great way for me to check to see that I entered the grades correctly. J has a paper to finish and once I enter that grade, I will be able to get his final grade for the course. There are numerous options for grades -- letter, number, and pass/fail. I have to say that the grading feature made it very easy.

After using this for the past few weeks, I really like it for record keeping. I love the ease of the grading, the details that I can record like his piano exam, art classes, and other things. I still like my paper planner for what we are doing each week. I don't plan the whole year before beginning. I have some ideas of what is happening but plan a week or two at a time.

You can read reviews from others to see how they used this program. That will give you even more ideas of how it can be used and the benefits from using this.

Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Air Show

I remember as a child going to watch an air show. My dad taught with a man who lived on a hill above the airport and so we would go to Mr. Wallace's for a picnic and to watch the air show. The big event there was always the Blue Angels. 

My husband found an air show here as in here in England. Just another time that we prove we are Americans who think nothing of driving long distances for events. This time we took the train or rather two trains. The air show was on the coast at a beach.

It was an early morning especially for a Saturday to get the 8:20 train. I had a bag of food and snacks to take with us. 

We arrived in Weston-Super-Mare at 11:30 and followed the crowd to the seafront. I think this is the one weekend a year that the town is crowded. 

We sat on the beach. I wasn't quite prepared for sitting on sand. It was a sand beach and excellent sand for sand sculpture. 

It was fun to see planes that we would not normally see at an air show in the US. 

The big event of the show was the Red Arrows. 

It was fun to watch all the planes flying across the sky. It was gray and overcast. I don't think I quite have enough of a telephoto lens to really be able to get close up photos.

It was low tide but there were signs about sinking mud so we couldn't go out to the water.

One of the last flights of the day was Breitling Wing Walking Team. Again the photos don't really show it but there were people on the wings.

We ate fish and chips on the beach along with coffee and tea as it was cold and windy. We enjoyed our day and have a list of things that we would do next year.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd. - TOS Review

For the past few weeks Miss K has been reviewing Forbrain a bone conduction headset from Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd. This was a review that I really wanted to try and I admit I might have begged a bit for it. I wondered how it would help Miss K.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

"Use your voice to boost your brain" 

It looks like a headset with a microphone  and a dynamic filter which sounds simple but what it helps with auditory processing. Forbrain optimises the audio-vocal loop by using bone conduction.

There are three specific areas that Forbrain can help with memory, speech, and attention.

I was very impressed with the research and information that Forbrain has on the website about how it works. I was not familiar with Forbrain prior to the review but I was aware of some of the principles related to auditory processing. The website gave quite a bit of information and research as to how this works.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

As I mentioned,  this was a product that I was eager to try and excited to see what might happen as Miss K used it. I was tracking this and have to say the fact that it shipped from Europe for me meant that it arrived quickly.

When I opened the box, I will impressed. Forbrain comes in a nice zippered case with a foam cushion for the Forbain headset to fit in and be kept secure and protected. Sometimes it is the little things and little details that show the quality of a product.

Included with the Forbrain headset was an instruction booklet, charging cord, and extra covers for the microphone.

The instruction booklet was very simple and with information on how to sit and how long to use it. This is one of those things that is best with a little bit each day. We were familiar with that from doing some neuro-development programs in the past.

The headset is charged using a USB plug. I charged it when we received it and the battery has not needed to be charged over the past few weeks. It has a great battery life.

My primary purpose for the review was Miss K's speech. Some of her specific speech issues include mixing up thirteen and fourteen confusing the teens and "tys"(sixteen and sixty or eighteen and eighty) as well as some other pronunciation sounds. Miss K's speech issues are somewhat typical for Down Syndrome children.  I was also hoping that it would help with memory specifically math facts.

Miss K wearing the Forbrain headset and reading Dick & Jane.

Miss K used it for about 10 minutes each day. We did a variety of things -- sight words, speech words focusing on various target sounds for pronunciation, chanting math facts, counting or just reading a book aloud. I like the fact that it is easy to find something that she could do. These various things would all give the feedback that she needed to hear herself and then make corrections to speech.

Overall I would say that Miss K did not mind wearing it. Just the other day I noticed that when she was counting her thirteen and fourteen where distinct and understandable. We might be making some progress. In some ways it is hard to evaluate if progress and improvement is being made in the area of speech. I do think that it has helped. This is something that we will continue to use on a regular basis to improve speech.

You can read others reviews both how they used this and how it has helped by clicking below.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rain or Shine

I think it was a bit of a cultural moment this afternoon. This has been a big celebration weekend as it is the Queen's official 90th birthday celebration. It was Scouts and Guides Parade at church; Miss K was part of that as she is a Brownie. Then it was the church picnic.

We have been here the last two years for the church picnic and we had beautiful weather. I heard that the church picnic was never rained out. I think that means you still picnic even if it is raining and that is what we did today. We stood around in waterproof jackets with the hoods up, under umbrellas, or tents and enjoyed our picnic.

I was told that is British summer.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

MaxScholar - TOS Review

I consider reading to be a fundamental skill in our learning. At times I find it more challenging to work on this as the student gets older. I was excited to have an opportunity for J to review MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar. We reviewed the MaxGuru portion of the program.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

MaxScholar is a comprehensive, multi-sensory, reading and language-based program. This is an online program focusing on learning to read or improving reading. MaxScholar states that the program can improve grade levels in just 30 hours.

We received a one year license for this program. J was the primary user for this review. He is a good reader but I was interested in how this would improve his reading specifically looking at highlighting and gleaning the important information from the reading. We used MaxGuru and focused on  MaxReading which improves reading comprehension and introduces the concepts of highlighting, summarising, and outlining a text.

It was easy to set up a student account. I do like the fact that the student has their own account. J found it easy to login and do his work. There is also a teacher section. The one thing that I needed to remember was that this was a different web address for reports. There does not appear to be a link on the main website to the parents site. That is just one of the things that you need to remember. I did find the reports helpful especially as I just allowed J to work on this on his own. I was able to see what he has done and his scores.

At the beginning there is a pre-test. I am not sure if J didn't know exactly what was expected on the test but he scored a bit lower than I thought. That surprised me as the pre-test was about a place that he has visited, Hong Kong.

This was something that J was able to do on his own. I assigned it to be done three to four times a week. It took him about 20-30 minutes per lesson.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

I asked his opinion and thoughts about MaxReading and this is some of what he had to say about the program.

"The layout is the best I have seen for an online program."

"The information was good with lots of different subjects."

"I learned stuff." 

I asked him how he thought it helped him and some of his comments were the following.

"I thought I was faster at reading and his comprehension was better."

"I learned to look for the important things when reading."

I"t helped to see what you need to know and remember."

"I learned to pull out the important parts."

One comment that he had just a fact that he observed, was that it was difficult to get an A+ and that was primarily because of the highlighting.

I think the program did what I thought it would do for J in helping him to learn to outline, summarise, and look for the important information. I think that is a skill necessary for university and further study.

There is much more to MaxScholar than just MaxReading. There is also MaxPhonics for teaching reading. Reviews for both programs can be found with the link below.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

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