Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin For Children New TOS Review

One of the central components of a Classical Education is the inclusion of the study of Latin. For people I know this is one of the most forbidding and fear inducing parts of the Classical curriculum plan, but it no longer has to be.  Thanks to Classical Academic Press. Now Latin, can be one of the best parts.

I just don't know how to contain my enthusiasm, this is an awesome curriculum!! I hope it isn't breaking any of the rules to say it, but I just can't think of a better way to share how much I like and appreciate Latin For Children. It is wonderful. My children are extremely enthusiastic, they are eager to do Latin each day.  I think I can fairly say that in the last few weeks, Latin has become their favorite subject.

So what has me all excited you may ask.

It is Latin for Children (LFC) from Classical Academic Press.   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received several products which comprise the Latin For Children Primer A bundle.  These include:
  • LFC Primer A student book
  • LFC A Activity Book
  • LFC A DVD and Chant Cd set
  • LFC A Answer Key
  • LFC A History Reader

Latin For Children is an introductory Latin course for children as young as 3rd grade. It teaches Latin vocabulary, grammar, and derivatives in a simple, straight forward manner which makes it easy to learn the language.

The material is presented in 32 chapters with approximately 5 -6 pages per chapter. It is designed to be used at the rate of one chapter per week.  There is a review chapter after several chapters of new information. The pages are black and white.  Interspersed throughout the text are pictures of ancient Roman artifacts, people, or buildings.  These are also black and white.

The activity book is laid out in a  very similar manner and feel. There are  approximately 4 pages of fun activities and puzzles per chapter. One of these may be the same as the last page in the Primer chapter. These puzzles reinforce the vocabulary and grammar taught in the chapter in a fun and unique manner.

A teachers answer key provides answers for the written work in the student Primer.

The DVD's teach the material, so unless you have a Latin background they are essential. On the DVD you have the option to choose from Classical or Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation. Each session begins several children and youth presenting the chapters vocabulary list in an engaging chant.  The leader says the word and the English translation then the rest of the children repeat both the Latin and English. There are also short Latin sayings which are learned via this chant also. From here the DVD moves to the Grammar instruction.  I believe the teacher is Dr. Christopher Perrin, one of the authors of the program. He is very personable and clearly has a passion for his subject and it shows in his presentations.  He presents all of the information both verbally and drawing it on a white board at the same time.  Thus the student both hears the proper pronunciation and sees the spelling of words along with seeing how the language works.  This is very conversational and relaxed. I found it easy to listen to and understand. 

The CD's are the Vocabulary portion of the program and done in the same manner as the DVD.

The Latin History Reader contains 15 short stories of history from the Roman empire and the life of Christ. This little book provides translation experience for the Latin student.  It is recommended to begin using it once the student reaches approximately the half way point of the primer. Each lesson features several sentences to translate, a glossary containing words or phrases which may be unfailiar along with their endings if applicable. There is also a short historical note to explain more of what is being read.  The lesson then closes with several questions to ask and answer in Latin.

In addition to all of these resources, Classical Academic Press's website offers a large number of free resources.  They also have an interactive website, Headventureland, which gives opportunities to watch short videos reinforcing vocabulary and presenting Roman culture in a fun manner.  There are also opportunities to practice declensions and conjugations by putting together the respective charts.  This is done in a manner similar to online jigsaw puzzles.

So how much does this all cost?  The bundle which I received and just described costs $99.95.
All of the items are available individually also.

Latin study continues with Latin For Children Primer B and C as well as another series for 6th grade and up.
Classical Academic Press offers a beginner Latin book for students as young as Kindergarten in addition. 
There are also a number of fun items such as a card game, poster, Bingo, and crossword puzzle book available.

The website offers free samples of LFC A to download and look at.  However, I will admit that when I looked at the samples I felt the program was too complex and unmanageable.  But with the teaching on the DVD the written work is not that hard.  So don't let the sample pages scare you.

You may find information about all of these Latin programs as well as other academic subjects offered by Classical Academic Press at the Classical Academic Press website.

How we used Latin for Children

Both my 6 and 10 year old have used LFC and love it.  I love it, too.  The presentation and materials are varied enough to prevent boredom, but still teach good solid mechanics and vocabulary. The vocabulary chants are catchy and memorable.

I started out having both of them do the written work in the student book and activity book.  However, after the second week this became too much for my 6 year old.  So I just have him learning the vocabulary, conjugations, and declensions as well as watching the video. He walks around the house all day conjugating verbs, the principal parts of the verbs and vocabulary words. These he has picked up effortlessly. He is totally enjoying the vocabulary. My daughter has also picked up the vocabulary and pronunciation effortlessly, she evens corrects me at times.  Sometimes I get sloppy and slur my ends but, she is quick to point that out to me!

My daughter really enjoys the activity book.  I want one for myself.  Not that I would find time to complete it though. She is disappointed that the ink fades away when she has to erase.  This occurs in both the Primer and the Activity book.

As I described above the DVD's are really well done.  We have enjoyed learning from them.  They are serious, but also have moments that are funnier or make Mom smile.  At the end of the grammar lesson there is also a fun extra, like a mini interview with one of the children who does the chanting or a segment of a cartoon "How the West was Unos". These are a little bit of spice to make learning Latin even more fun. My children wish "West" was on at the end of each lesson, not just every 4th lesson!

One thing which I feel would make the program better is to make the answer key  into more of a teachers manual by adding the grammar instruction pages to it.  Later in the week, on a day we didn't watch the DVD, we would review the grammar for the lesson and I would have to share with one of my children in order to lead a discussion.

We have not used the History reader yet, as it is suggested to begin this about halfway through the course and we are not there yet.  I have looked through it and believe it will be very interesting when we have enough vocabulary to make full use of it. Even at this point I am able to translate some of it.

My children have also really enjoyed Headventureland.  They have done the charts numerous times and don't seem to tire of putting them together.  They have also been having friendly competitions with each other to see who can complete them quicker or with a better grade. We have also enjoyed the videos on that site.  The video featuring amo,amas,amat  is hilarious!  Check it out to see what I mean.

The pronunciation on the DVD is correct as verified by my husband, who studied Ecclesiastical Latin in his Seminary studies.

We have enjoyed Latin For Children so much I purchased several of the supplementary items which go with the series.  When I placed this order I received it in a very timely manner.

I just can not say enough positive things about LFC A. Before receiving this program to review we were using another beginning Latin program, but after seeing how well my children responded to and learn from LFC A we will definitely be continuing with all three Latin For Children Primer levels. My son has said learning Latin is totally fun! I agree, Latin For Children is a fun way to learn Latin!

Read what other Crew Members have to say here.

Disclaimer: I received a free Latin For Children A bundle to use to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Monday, March 28, 2011

States I Have Lived In or Visited

As a child my family usually took a vacation each summer by car.  One of the things we did to make all the time in the car most interesting was to color in the states which we saw license plates from.  It was fun to see how quickly we could fill up that map and how colorful we could make it.

My children have also asked me on several occasions how many states I have been to.  At times this is hard to figure with out having a map in front of me to make sure I remember all of them. So for both of those reasons when I saw this on a blog I follow, Heartfelt Balance Handmade Life,  I knew this was something I needed to do.  It is kind of fun to see exactly where I have been.

Now to the map legend:
  • I have lived in Minnesota. Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.  All except for Minnesota, have been at some point in my adult life.  I lived in Missouri for several years as a child. I also visited Illinois and Wisconsin as a child.  I have seen a number of historic and points of interest in these states.
  • South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma were states we visited on vacation trips during childhood. We did a lot of sight seeing in all of these states as well.
  • Remaining states were places I have visited during college or after. 
  • The states of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York represent a vacation trip my husband, children and I took several years ago. We visited my husbands grandmother in New Jersey. So we had a whirlwind 9 day car trip to NJ and back.  We were in a part of New Jersey right across the Hudson river from New York City, so we made full use of the opportunity and spent the better part of a day in NYC.  We visited the American Museum of Natural History (of Night at the Museum I fame) and walked some of the streets of Manhattan  as well as experiencing the subway. 
          Other highlights of the same trip included Hershey's Chocolate World in Hershey, PA  and the
          Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton Ohio.

As I have thought about my travels around I country I realize how fortunate I have been to see so much of the country and all of the great sites in these states.  But, I can't help but be sad that my children have not thus far had the same opportunities that I had to see so much.  Hopefully before they grow up we will have the opportunity to see more of this fascinating and varied country.

If you would like to make your own map, you can do so here.
     If you color your map, please share.  I'd like to hear about your travels.

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Homeschool Mothers Journal Weekly Review

     The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    In my life this week...
    Finally finished the taxes.  Now catching up on household chores.

    In our homeschool this week...
    We've done several science experiments relating to our study of elements and the periodic table.

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...
      Monday:  Homeschool Day at the History Museum
      Wednesday: Writing program at the library and Lent service at church
       Friday:  Library  

    My favorite thing this week was...
    The spring temperatures we had early in the week.  This morning we woke up to snow. Snow is not my favorite thing.

    I also liked having the week off from making the trip to daughters piano lesson.

    Finding a multivolume set of various genres of children's literature at a rummage sale. Some of volumes feature mysteries, poems and various types of stories. I can't wait to read some of these.

    In the same vein, I also learned I was selected review a product which consists of old (vintage) books as part of the TOS Homeschool crew. These are great books and I am so very excited to read these.  I just have to wait for the weekend so my DH can help me with some of the technical aspects of setting it up.  Watch for my review of this material the beginning of May.

    What's working/not working for us...
    It seems like it is taking a long time to finish our current science unit.  I am ready to move on to something new.

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
    I have so many things I would like to share with my children I am not sure when to fit everything in.  

    I want to encourage them to find topics they are interested in and then refrain from making them into school topics. 

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share...
     Daughter cutting her birthday cake last Saturday

    Big IQ Kids

    Big IQ Kids
    Helping Kids Become Become and Stay A+ students

    Content for grades K-8

    Big IQ Kids has both a free and paid membership program. They both feature activities in the areas of spelling, vocabulary, math, and US States or geography. The premium program tracks the students progress and only allows them to move on when they have achieved mastery. It also reports that progress to the registered email address. Another difference between the free and premium programs is the learning activity is full screen in the premium program and there are few ads. The premium program also allows the student to save their game tokens and game scores.  The site also has a comparison between the free and premium programs.

    In addition there are also free measurement and telling time games and a vowel sound game. A chapter book is also available to read for free.

    The pricing structure is varied for each of the components, but the Big IQ Kids site has a nice price layout that is easy to understand.

    Big IQ kids is an online supplementary tutor program.  They address learning in the areas of spelling, vocabulary, math and US geography.

    In the spelling module users have 5 days worth of activities for a specific spelling list.  Three of the days there are specific activities which they must complete and the other two days they are given the choice of which activity they may complete.  Students may use the preselected spelling lists or parents/teachers may create their own lists.

    Vocabulary introduces the student to new words and their meanings.  It also helps them to learn antonyms and synonyms of the words.  They must also match definitions to the vocabulary words by selecting from a list.

    Math focuses on the 4 basic operations and presents the student/user with a multi question multi operation quiz.  There is also an option to customize the math quizzes. These are timed, but the length of time is

    The US States section helps children learn about the United States state by state.  They are presented with a map of the US and given the opportunity to select a state to learn more about.  For each state they learn the capital, location, postal abbreviation and general facts.  Many of these facts correlate with the 5 themes of geography found in many curricula. They also learn to spell each of the states names.

    Big IQ Kids also features a games section of arcade style computer games.  In order to play the games, the student must complete learning activities to earn tokens which are then exchanged for game play.

    When the student first plays they get to design and dress their own unique avatar.  This involves choosing clothing styles and colors, and accessories.


    Both my 10 and 6 year olds use BIG IQ kids and love it.  I give them each 30-45 minutes to play on it several days a week.  This also includes the time they are allowed to play games with their tokens.  I didn't tell them what learning activities they had to do each day, except for spelling as I put their spelling lists in for the week.  This gave them practice in addition to their written exercises and helps to reinforce practice of the tricky words. The spelling practice is complete enough that I could use this as a spelling curriculum for one of my children, but it does not have enough reinforcement for the other.

    I like the variety of learning activities and subjects available.  The state activities have been great as we are studying each of the states this year.  It has taught the children some interesting tidbits which I would not have thought to research and share with them.  However, my son (who is 6) became frustrated with trying to spell the state names when he would have to erase the whole word just to correct an earlier misspelled letter.  We also found it strange that the second name in two name states was not capitalized. Despite this I think the States program was their favorite.

    We have not addressed vocabulary as a separate subject, rather just looking up new words as we encounter them in our other studies. I love how Big IQ kids had filled this 'gap' for us.

    I really like the feature which ties the ability to play games to earning tokens by completing learning activities.  My son would play computer games all day if I let him and this was a good "Mom is not the bad guy" way to curb that issue.  He could play games while he had tokens and then he was done.

    I also like that each subject lesson is short, not only does that allow the student to finish a lesson without getting bored, but it also exposes them to the different subjects in a short length of time.

    Even with all the things I like about Big IQ Kids, there were a couple I did not like. The robot in the spelling game is trying to be encouraging to the student, but several of his comments I thought could be taken in a derogatory manner.  One of the was about being smart... for a human.  I also don't care for the ease with which lesson can be customized or modified.  It is too simple to do and too obvious.  I would much prefer a separate log in or something similar in order to change content.

    All of the lessons are accompanied by a computerized "tutor" who talks to the student and explains the activity or gives the spelling words, etc.  After a while I found this computer voice to be annoying. Additionally sometimes what is being said is not clear or grammatically correct.

    I was not overly impressed by the current free book available.  It is not bad, I just didn't care for the way the characters treated each other.   My daughter even pointed that out to me, so since she was able to see what was not right I don't have a major problem with her reading it. 

    Each time you visit the Big IQ kids site you will be reminded of their mission, helping children become A+ students. Big IQ kids has been an effortless way for my children to learn new things as well as sharpen their skills. It also provides them with an educational purpose for using the computer.

    Read what other crew members had to say here.

    Disclaimer: I received a free Premium Subscription to use for the purpose of writing this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner.  All views expressed here are solely my own.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Spring Reading Thing

    The other day I read a post written by another Mom whose blog I follow about the Spring Reading Thing hosted by Callapidder Days.  I thought this sounded like fun, so I decided to check it out.  It is really very simple. A participant writes a blog post listing the books they plan to read this spring and/or other reading goals and then links up at Callapidder Days.  There is also the opportunity to check out what other bloggers are planning to read.

    I enjoy reading and usually have at least one book in progress so I decided to give it a go.  I haven't given my reading list a whole lot of thought yet, but we were just at the library and I checked out a couple titles.  Here is what came home with me from our last library visit:

    How the States Got their Shapes
    Mark Stein
    Crazy about Cookies
    Krystina Castella
    Return to the Hundred Acre Wood
    David Benedictus
    (The titles are not linked, I just like the color and it goes with my background!)

    Yes, I really did pick out the last one just for me.  I will admit I had decided to say I was going to read it aloud to my children if any one asked me about it.

    I guess that is about all for now, but who knows what other books I will find over the course of the next few weeks.

    Happy Reading  Happy Spring

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    It was a Birthday

    My daughters' birthday was Saturday, she turned 10.  She now joins many of us in the double digit age club, but unlike many of the rest of us, she isn't moaning about her age.... yet!

    To celebrate we enjoyed food from the grill.  My husband manned the grill and made us some delicious hot dogs, brats and hamburgers.  They were so good and we even had leftovers, which is doubly good.

    I also made her a cake.  I usually make a cake for their birthday and let them choose the design and flavor.  This year she chose a strawberry flavored cake with vanilla filling and frosting.  Then to add a little decoration I made several numeral 10 candy pieces and put on the cake.

    The cake

    Inside of the cake     

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Homeschool Mother's Journal Weekly Review

     The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    In my life this week...
    I am cautiously optimistic Spring might be on the way.  We had snow on Monday, but Wednesday and Thursday were both beautiful days with lovely warm temperatures.
    Enjoyed visiting with both my parents and my in-laws this week.

    In our homeschool this week...
    We haven't done a whole lot of "school work".
    We learned about St. Patrick and St. Patrick's Day.
    The children used several computer programs we are currently reviewing.

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...

    Stayed around home as we had company.  Went to piano lesson.  We're planning to go to the library and Art Museum on Friday.

    My favorite thing this week was...

    Early birthday celebrations for my children.

    What's working/not working for us...

    I have had other things to do and so I haven't had the time to be able to do any blogging. In general, things went well this week.

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
     I don't really have any thoughts in this category this week, I have had too many non school things happening.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

    Experiment investigating which liquids would clean pennies

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Homeschool Mothers Journal Weekly Review

     The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    In my life this week...
    I have been busy reorganizing after moving furniture around and trying to find some important papers. Finally found them, now I can get those pesky taxes done. 
    I also had to say goodbye to a favorite sweater; it has just gotten too thin to be wearable any longer.  So sad.
    I have also been going through resources to get ready to sell what we are done with at a sale this weekend.
    I have also been contemplating what I want the focus of my blog to be.

    In our homeschool this week...
    We worked on our mini nutrition unit by reading several books and doing a couple paper and pencil activities.
    I also have a project to do yet, I am not sure if we will get to it Friday or if it will have to wait until next week.

    We had fun with a science experiment learning about acids and bases.

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...

    Lots of people and places this week. Saturday we went to the Kids Workshop at Home Depot where the kiddos built race cars as this months project.  
    Tuesday we went to our local library branch for their monthly homeschool class.  The topic was healthy eating. 
    As a family on Wedenesday we went to Ash Wednesday service at our church.
    Thursday daughter had her piano lesson and we did errands after that. 

    My favorite thing this week was...
    The Homeschool class at the library.  The librarian had a super Power Point presentation for the kids about the food pyramid and they discussed what foods are in each group. Then they analyzed their previous days diet to see how they compared to the guidelines.  Then the kids prepared several different healthy snacks.  The librarian has something that each of the kids could do from the 3 year old to the 14 year old and they were all happy to help and got along so well.  I think they all tried at least some of the snacks.

    I really liked this class because it was a meaningful activity and I didn't have a big project to take home!  

    What's working/not working for us...
    The weather.  I am SO ready for warmer temps.

    I think my kids are ready for spring too, they keep checking the temps to see if it is playground weather.

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
    I am still checking out curriculum ideas for next year. 

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

     After we were done with the formal acid/base experiment we used the leftover liquid and sprinkled baking soda on top and got this over flowing foam! We only did this because we knew what the mixture in the cup was and I knew the result would not be dangerous.  I did remind the children that it is dangerous to just go mixing things willy nilly.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    A Blog Break

    I have been trying to write on my blog in a more timely manner, but it seems that life is just having a way of getting in the way.  Most of the weekend was spent on moving furniture and reorganizing.  Now I really have to get back to several tasks I really don't relish.  Like the taxes.  The Tax Man cometh, ya know.  

    I really want to write more, but right now I need to pay attention to real life, not just my computer.  I will post a weekly review on Friday though.

    Blog Walk

     Almost weekly the TOS Crew has a blog walk to highlight blogs of some of the members.  Up until that time I wasn't sure of Blog Walk etiquette or what it actually was.  I have now learned when there is a new group of blogs highlighted that I can post the list of blogs on my blog to allow my readers to discover new blogs.  So... here is the list of this weeks blogs. 

    I plan on visiting these blogs, but it will probably take me most of the week to do so.  Enjoy, have a good week!

    1. Homeschool Circus
    2. Discover Their Gifts
    3. The Joys of Homeschooling
    4. Nicki Black A Mosaic in the Making
    5. Ever After... My Way
    6. Created 2B Creative
    7. Wrightsboro Sonrise Center
    8. Knee Deep in Grace
    9. Indoor Garden Musings
    10. Mom of Many Bentzs

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Mothers Homeschool Journal Weekly Review

    The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    In my life this week...

    Continuing my organizing and going through things.
    Planning a furniture rearrangement.

    In our homeschool this week...

    We have put our noses to the grindstone and really accomplished a lot.  
    Both of the children participated in the online math drill "games' for World Math Day.  Over the years my daughter has struggled with Math, but she did well at this and was encouraged to see her scores and percentages go up with each game.

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...
    We have stayed pretty close to home this week, so not seeing too many people.  Daughter had piano lesson and we visited with her teacher for a little while.
    Also visited the library.

    My favorite thing this week was...

    Seeing and hearing both of my children enjoying their new Latin Curriculum.

    What's working/not working for us...

    Spelling Power.  Both of my children have really seemed to taken off with this and are spelling better.

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

    Not really questions or thoughts, but I have been working on preparing several mini month long studies about nutrition, music, and book genres.  We will spend a short amount of time on one of these a couple days a week throughout the month.  I try to make them more interactive and less about paper and pencil.  

    I am continuing to think about resources for next year.  I finally wrote out two charts for subjects and will begin to fill one in with what I have and the other with thoughts for what I would like or programs to check into.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share... 

     This  is a great site and not just for homeschoolers. Each day they have a new resource to download or a unique website.  Many of their resources are older publications which are no longer in print.  When you visit their sight you have the chance to sign up for their weekly newsletter to receive an email listing the resources for the week as well as a bonus resource just for newsletter subscribers.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Spelling Pirates

    A couple of my previous posts have been about how much we enjoy playing games here.

    For Christmas my son, who is 6, received the game Spelling Pirates.  To play you shake the dice  which features numbers, build, or block faces.  The numbers are 8, 9 and 10.  If you roll a number you get to choice that many letter die which you shake, spill, and then use to build a word. However, you must build your new word on your previous word.  Sometimes that is not easy. 

    The build face allows you to put a bridge in place rather than building a word and block gives you a stone wall to put in front of an opponents current word.
    Word Pirates game in progress

    Unlike another popular spelling game, each player only builds words on their previous words, not on any open letters.  Players start in their own corner of the board and work towards the center.  The goal is to build a word which ends in one of the 4 squares in the center.  The first one to do so is the winner.

    We have played this a number of times and enjoy it, but also find it challenging for several reasons.  One, you have a limited number of letters to work with. While 8 or 10 letters may sound like a lot,  when they are all random it may turn out not to be. Imagine getting only 1 vowel or even all consonants.  The second challenge is trying to make a new word which you can build on a previous word. While he is a good speller, sometimes he needed help to come up with ideas and then he could play on his own.