Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Recently, we were asked if we would consider reviewing a Latin language program published by Classical Academic Press. Latin is not actually at the top of my list for formal language instruction, as I am more eclectic than classical in methodology, but I have taught vocabulary using classical Latin and Greek roots before. I think understanding Latin as the root of much of our language is very important, but envisioning studying Latin in a classroom setting still terrifies me the way it did in high school (don't only really smart people take Latin?) However, the more I thought about it, the more I started thinking that maybe Latin would go well with our studies of Ancient World History next year, so I volunteered to be in the review group.
The kids turning their bookmarks in to the very sweet librarian.
|Firefly and her entry...She drew a picture of herself all excited |
because it is Storytime at the library. Hooray!
|Ladybug and her entry...She drew herself playing with her favorite toy |
at the library...the castle and princess doll...
and she is telling what kinds of books she likes to read.
|Cowboy and his entry...He drew himself building a tower out of blocks |
and saying, "I love my library!" He does.
|Tex and his entry...he drew a scene with three individuals doing different |
things in the library...one is writing a story, another is on the computer,
and a last one is reading. They are all imagining their own stories.
Hey kids, I am proud of you!!
Win or not, you are all winners in my book, and when the contest is over, I will take you all out to eat at Pizza Hut (using our Book-it coupons!) to celebrate a job well done. Hooray for you!!
Monday, March 28, 2011
I happened across this blog over the weekend and wanted to share this link with you. It is a link to a blog series about mothering. I plan to read more of it this week. Let me know if you have read it before, or if you read it along with me, and share your thoughts.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
My two oldest children are boys. One is nineteen, the other is thirteen. It concerns me that young ladies today often display no sense of modesty, or at least, not much sense. Many of them would say that they have a good sense of fashion, but you know where the "fashionable" get their sense from...from the world. The Bible says to live in the world, but not to be of it. That definitely applies to how we dress each day. When I was growing up, I was taught that you NEVER wore workout clothes outside the home. Those were for the gym, or for your basement workout station. A few years ago, the most fashionable outfits were rhinestone-studded sweat suits made out of velour. Okay, maybe that was more than a few years ago...But seriously, the first time I ever wore sweats outside of my home (and probably the last), other than during Cross Country team practices and races, was when I had out-patient surgery on both of my feet, and the bandaging prevented me from putting on my jeans to go home.
These days, I see girls and guys schlumping (my favorite word lately) around WalMart wearing their favorite...pajamas. And their slippers, too. Are you kidding me? Wearing our pajamas out of our houses to go shopping? The sad thing is that the kids (and adults!) wearing pajamas to the store might possibly be the more conservatively dressed folks there.
If you turn to your left you might see a young man with his pants dragging the floor, hanging down, showing off his designer you-know-whats (I seriously thought THAT fashion statement would be gone by now...I remember sending kids to the principal's office to get a belt when I was teaching the eighth-grade about fifteen years ago) and if you look to the right you will see a young lady wearing a very low cut short top that fails to pass the belly-button test (if you lift up your arms, can we see your belly-button?) paired with a pair of the recently (and sadly) re-emerging "skinny" jeans. Yikes!
If you are lucky (or rather, unlucky), one or both of them will be displaying a rude or catty phrase blazing across whatever they are wearing that passes for a shirt. Possibly complete with vulgar language or symbols. Definitely nothing you want your emerging readers to ask you about..."Mommy, what does #!@*! spell?" To top off the display, you will likely see a sneer or a leer on their faces, instead of an open-faced, welcoming smile. So sad. I guess it's hard to smile when you have so much poor attitude to convey to the world. What would the world be like if we all dressed with a mind towards respecting ourselves and OTHERS? Better, I am sure.
I was over at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home today, checking out her Wise Woman Link Up!, and I followed a link-er (okay, if there is a term for this, I don't know it, but you know what I mean) to an excellent post about modesty on her blog, Somewhere in the Middle. I was impressed by the notes MissyLou gleaned from listening to a sermon by C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries on modesty (I love to listen to online sermons, too...and to find someone else who actually takes notes from them means that I am not alone in doing this!).
Here is a teaser sample of her notes, but I'd love if you'd head to her blog and check out the rest of them:
•Any biblical discussion of modesty begins by addressing
the heart, not the hemline. We must start with the attitude
of the modest woman.
•Modesty means propriety. It means avoiding clothes and
adornment that are extravagant or sexually enticing.
Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to
serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or
•Immodesty, then, is much more than wearing a short skirt
or low-cut top it’s the act of drawing undue attention to
yourself. It’s pride, on display, by what you wear.
You can listen to the sermon by CJ Mahaney from which MissyLou took these notes HERE. It is called The Soul of Modesty. To read a series of blog posts by CJ Mahaney about modesty, you can go HERE. Make sure you print up a copy of the questions from the blog to go with the series and have your daughters (and yourself) do some deep thinking about the subject, then settle in for a deep, but amicable, discussion about modesty and what are your family's opinions about the topic, and why.
You can also go HERE to print up a copy of an excellent modesty checklist from Mrs. Mahaney and others that you and your daughters can use to evaluate wardrobe choices.
Most of what is in this modesty checklist is what I was taught, as a young lady, equated with good taste. Sadly, these days you hear folks crying "Oppression, sexism, radical right crazy homeschooling ultra-religious conservatives!" if you think that your daughter's skirts ought to fall below her knees and that she ought to sit like a lady with her knees together and her ankles crossed. I may be a homeschooler, I may be conservative, and I may be a Christian, but personally, I see these rules as simply good manners that used to be taught in almost every home. Yes, they are a reflection of my Christian ideals perhaps. No, you don't have to be a Christian to respect yourself and others enough to follow them.
I personally do not believe that you HAVE to wear denim skirts or dresses to attend a homeschool convention *smile* (though I do like them), nor do I think that every top I wear must be a crew neck or buttoned all the way up to my ears. But come on ladies, there is good taste and there is...not so good taste. Wearing something that is particularly tempting to the general population of men, and is revealing parts of our forms that should be saved for viewing by only our husbands, is not good taste. Being rude is also not in good taste, and let me tell you, your shirt does not have to have an overtly rude saying on it to be really rude.
Seriously, read the modesty checklist and you will see that it is made up of all the "nice girl" things your grandma used to say...like if your top gapes open when you lean forward, use a pin to hold it closed, and if your skirt is see-through when light is behind it, wear a slip. These motherly bits of advice were good in my grandma's day, and they are still good in ours. I want MY daughters to be "nice girls" who live for Christ and outwardly express their pleasant attidudes and respectful spirits in the way they dress and through their contented countenances. I do want them to be intelligent and spirited, too, but you don't have to look cheap (or dress like a man or be angry) to be able to speak your mind (in the nicest way possible).
Oh, for the old-fashioned days when most mothers taught these rules to their daughters...because I have four sons, and I hate what they have to see when we go to public places. I teach them to avert their eyes, and we pray for their future wives to be brought up in modest homes. What else can I do besides teach them to treat women with respect in spite of their sometimes poor choices ("Perhaps she can't afford something else?" has been said by one of my young ones), and to teach my girls to respect their Lord, themselves, their brothers, and others by dressing modestly.
Thank you, Mom, for raising me with modesty.
Added later: I found this post on modesty at Large Families on Purpose with some excellent links to modesty posts and resources. I plan to explore them later myself, and just in case anyone happens by, I wanted to share them with you.
Friday, March 25, 2011
I love writing reviews when I really like a product. It makes it so much easier, because I have plenty of nice things to say, and I really do prefer being nice. Just so you know, I did like almost everything about this product. It has a lot going for it, and overall, I think it would be a worthwhile addition to almost any homeschooled, or even public schooled, student's day.
Big IQ Kids is an online program for spelling, math, vocabulary, and geography. Much of the site's content is FREE! (and you know how much I love FREE! things)...in fact, you can go straight over to the Big IQ Kids site right now, and check out the accuracy of my claims about this product, then you can decide for yourself if it is worth it to you to invest in the Upgraded (adds a customizable avatar and full game access...it is a good deal at $9.95/year) or Premium sites' features. You can compare the FREE vs. the paid sites' features HERE.
I mostly used the Spelling program several times a week with the Three Amigos during our trial period, and Tex used the Vocabulary and Geography programs on a twice-weekly basis. We had other options for the math that worked better for us, so we only tried it out a few times.
Here's a little information about what Big IQ Kids has to offer:
- It quizzes children in four areas: spelling, vocabulary, math, and geography.
- The program offers varying levels, starting with Kindergarten and going up through Eighth grade.
- The program is interactive, using avatars as teachers.
- Your student also gets an avatar (this is customizable with the upgraded and premium versions).
- The program is systematic, progressive, and customizable.
- The program not only drills on information, it quizzes on the information.
- The spelling and vocabulary programs have pre-loaded lists which you can use and/or add to.
- The program gives a reward for every lesson completed by adding a coin to your student's treasure chest. This coin can be spent on a game off of the games page (you can customize whether the coins can be spent on weekends only with the premium version, and only the premium version allows access to all of the games) or on customizing their avatar (with a premium or upgraded membership)
- The premium version sends progress reports via email to the parent/teacher.
- To see more about what the site offers, click HERE.
- For a list of some of their FREE programs, click HERE.
Here's what we liked about Big IQ Kids:
- My Three Amigos especially enjoyed the spelling program. Ladybug and Cowboy worked doggedly at completing their lessons with an excitement I could never drum up, no matter what activities I might plan.
- Tex enjoyed the geography program. One of his goals for the year has been to learn the states' locations and their capitals. This program has helped him meet his goal. He also liked the vocabulary program.
- I liked how the word lists were customizable for the spelling. Some were shorter than others, so I added to them. Having words grouped in Word Families is a method that really works for us.
- The navigation of the site was simple enough that once I logged in, the Three Amigos could easily do everything themselves. Actually, Ladybug could probably have logged in, too, but I usually go through all of our online learning and do the log ins myself.
- The set up of the spelling program really kept their interest. It was logical, and progressive. I liked it.
- The program is thorough. With the spelling program, they offer synonyms, antonyms, and definitions. You do practice with help, practice without help, a spelling bee, a quiz, writing the words in your own book, and a test. It really is good.
- The Three Amigos liked the geography videos that are available with the premium membership.
- The program limits access to higher levels until the lower levels are mastered.
- The words offered by the vocabulary program were challenging, but not too difficult. Tex liked it.
- All of the kids enjoyed the games. There are three pages of choices with the premium membership.
Here are a few things we didn't like as much:
- The teaching avatars' computerized voices are kind of off-putting at first, but you do get used to them.
- There are ads on the site, even with the premium membership. I thought they ought to get rid of those if you invest in the premium membership. My kids know not to click on the ads, but I'd rather they weren't there.
- The math is a bit hard for your lowest level math students who maybe aren't reading proficiently yet, but it is fully customizable, so you can set it to only ask certain types of problems using certain numbers and answer parameters. That's great.
- The vocabulary program starts at 3rd grade level, though it wasn't too hard for my Three Amigos to figure out with help. However, to do it alone requires more proficiency with reading than they have at this point. The spelling was so great, we didn't mind that the vocabulary did not work for them.
- A few of the games available on the games page were not ones I liked. Example: One game involved getting to choose the makeup to put on the face of an animated girl. Not liking that game is just a personal opinion of mine. You might not mind it. I just told my daughter to avoid the ones I did not prefer. There are three pages of choices with the premium membership, after all.
- I did NOT like the free book AT ALL, so my recommendation is to skip looking at it, and don't even think about doing the reading program they are beginning to offer. I hate to be harsh, but this is truly the only thing I was disappointed in. Read it yourself, if you must, but while the format is a great idea, and they offer embedded, clickable vocabulary words, as well as a game after you are done reading, the main character is rude and sneaky, and the entire tone of the book is not something I want my kids to be exposed to.
I will let seven year-old Ladybug tell you
about the Spelling program in her own words
(really, she says it all!):
"I think Big IQ Kids Spelling is fun because there is a guy who shows me the words first with the words on the screen so I can learn them. After that there is a spelling game, like Word Scramble, Spelling Bee, or Robot Practice. I like them all because they are fun.
"Next I get to write in my spelling notebook. This helps me read the words and practice spelling them. Last, there is a test and if I get all my words right, I get to be in the 100% club. I want to give everyone a hug when I get into the 100% club because I am proud of myself!
"My favorite part is that I can earn coins by doing my lessons and then I get to play games. My favorite game is the bunny game because you get to catch the bunnies to save them from the farmer.
"Big IQ Kids makes me feel happy, cheerful, and smart. I love it!"
A final word from the folks at Big IQ Kids: