Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reindeer Study Resources & Printable Activity Pack

Christmas is right around the corner, and we are already seeing all the things that come with it. Reindeer for instance. Reindeer are too cool! I'm super excited to put together a reindeer unit study for my daughters and I just had to share some of my cool findings with you all and some cute printables I created.


Click Here to download our FREE Reindeer Study Resources & Activities 

The download above is not a complete study, but it does include some fun questions to start a study, along with some pretty fun activities, and a reindeer book list. 

Reindeer Resources:










Reindeer Books:

Reindeer Christmas (Paula Wiseman Books)

Reindeer (A Day in the Life: Polar Animals)

The Wild Christmas Reindeer

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) (Little Golden Book)

Santa's Reindeer


Kindle Books:
Reindeer! Learn About Reindeer and Enjoy Colorful Pictures - Look and Learn! (50+ Photos of Reindeer)

Reindeer: Amazing Photos & Fun Facts Book About Reindeer For Kids (Remember Me Series)

101 Facts... Reindeer & Deer! Reindeer Books for Kids. (101 Animal Facts Book 16)

Are Reindeer Real? 30+ Big Photos Fun Facts Silly Jokes For Kids!





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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Old Schoolhouse Blue Ribbon Awards for 2014

The Old Schoolhouse Blue Ribbon Awards for 2014



This past year my family and I have had the awesome opportunity to review many products with The Schoolhouse Review Crew. 

Schoolhouse Review Crew


These products have immensely blessed our family and have also allowed me the ability to give you a look at and an honest opinion on each. Being part of the crew has been a huge blessing! I'm sad to see this crew year go, but very excited to start a new crew year soon. Yes! I'll be back at it, reviewing more products and I'm pretty excited about it. 

Now, some more exciting news.....................

At the end of each crew year, we are given the chance to vote for our favorite products in a bunch of different categories.  It's a fun way to thank the many vendors who so graciously allowed us to review their products. This year we had 58 vendors to choose from and they all had some pretty amazing products. So who are the winners?

I'm happy to announce..........The Votes Are In!!!!! 


BLUE RIBBON AWARD 2014

We are so excited that some of our favorite products won in several categories.  We did have a ton a favorites but today I'm narrowing it down to our top 3.

~Our top 3 favorite products this year were~

ARTistic Pursuits 
Winner: Favorite Fine Arts Product/Curriculum
Winner: Favorite Christian Education Curriculum



CTC Math
Winner: Favorite Math Program




There are a ton more winners and I'd love for you to check them out. 
Click below to learn more about the wonderful products the Schoolhouse Review Crew picked as their favorites. 

The Old Schoolhouse Blue Ribbon Awards for 2014


We would love to know what products you have tried or would like to try. Leave us a comment below. 


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Homeschool Math - Blackjack


Last night I walked into dining room to see my husband teaching our daughters to play blackjack. It was such a sight. I had such a great time observing the games and watching as they counted and strategized.  I was suddenly brought back to my childhood. I have wonderful memories of sitting around with my family playing a different array of card games. I cherish those memories and realize that we too are now making memories and it's kinda educational. 

Did they even realize they were doing math? Probably not, because they were having so much fun. 

That made me smile. 


~Basic Blackjack Rules~ 

A blackjack game has a dealer and one or more players. Each player plays against the dealer. 

All players are initially dealt two cards and the dealer is dealt one card face down and one face up.

 Each player can then hit (ask for an additional card) until their total exceeds 21 (this is called busting) or they decide to stand (stop taking cards for the rest of the hand). 

Face cards count as 10 and an ace may be counted as 1 or 11. 

After all of the players have finished, the dealer reveals the face down card and plays the hand with a fixed strategy: hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 or more.

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 It’s a wonderful way to reinforce simple math skills and all you need to play is a deck of cards. 


What fun games does your family enjoy playing?


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

50 State Study ~ FREE Resources and Printables





Hello Sweet Friends, There are literally a ton of ways to learn about the 50 states and today I'm going to be sharing some of my favorite ways. 


I was so happy when I saw this idea on MrPrintables.com. I knew that it would be a big hit in my home. What better way to learn, than with a homemade United States puzzle? 

What you will need:

A big piece of cardboard
The FREE Printables
Glue


Another resource we have been using is the 50 states that rhyme song. We love it!




Okay, Now to all the other cool freebies


Follow Jennifer Silcott (Home Grown Hearts Academy)'s board 50 State Study on Pinterest.

  We hope you found something fun and interesting! Happy Studies!




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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Out of the Box Games ~ Snake Oil ~ Review



Are you a fan of playing games? We love having family game night at our house and recently we had the opportunity to add a new game to the mix. We were blessed with the chance to review Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games. It is such a fun and entertaining game!


Out of the Box Games creates innovative party, card and board games that provide fun and engaging ways to enjoy time with friends and family. Since 1998 they have become a leading American game company. They are the proud recipients of the most prestigious awards in the game world.




What is Snake Oil?



Snake Oil is a hilarious and fun party game. The game can be played with 3-10 players and is recommended for ages 10 and up. It's so easy to play. The ease of play made playing it with my family enjoyable. I'm not a fan of games with difficult instructions, so I'm glad this one wasn't like that. You can actually open the box, read the rules and began playing within a few minutes. I played Snake Oil with my husband and our three daughters.

The Rules:


  • Deal out 6 “word” cards to each player  
  • One player draws a “customer card”. 
  • The player who draws the "customer card" assumes the role of whatever is on the card
  • The other players choose two of their "word" cards to create and pitch a product the customer would want.


The winner of each round is the person whose product was chosen by the customer. The winner then receives the customer card. Each player should draw two more cards to always have 6 word cards. The person with the most customer cards after each person has been able to be the customer wins the game. The game takes approximately 20-30 minutes to play. There are 336 word cards and 28 customer cards that have customers on the front and back. That equals 56 customers. Everything needed to play comes packaged in the box. There is no need for score cards, pencils, or anything. 




As you can read from above, the rules are pretty simple. We absolutely loved the creativity this game allows. It was a blast to see my family being so silly and having such a good time. We definitely had quite a few laughs while playing. I liked that players can’t just sell anything they want. They’re limited to what they can come up with by only choosing two cards from the cards in their hands, which made for some pretty crazy product pitches. 

My youngest is 8, so she didn't really meet the 10 and up criteria, but she really wanted to play with us. So, of course we let her. We did have to help her with a couple of words, but once she learned them she was able to come up with some pretty cleaver product pitches on her own. She even ended up winning a game or two. I actually lost count of how many times we played, but it was a bunch. It was just so enjoyable after a long day to sit back and play and not have to worry about anything but having fun as a family for awhile.



While the game is fun it is also very educational. Some of the educational benefits include:
  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Innovation 
  • Oral Presentation Skills
  • Persuasion Strategies
  • Comparing
  • Contrasting  
  • Evaluating 
  • Improvisation Skills 
  • Reading 
  • Vocabulary Building 
  • Social Skills
  • Risk Taking
It's no wonder that Snake Oil has so many educational advantages as it was created by a teacher. You can read all about the educational benefits, how Snake Oil can be used in a classroom, and how it aligns with common core standards on the Out of the Box Games website. 

I'm not sure my daughters even realized how many skills they were improving on, because they were having so much fun. It was nice for me to be able to see it. It was also pretty cool when my daughter, who is a struggling reader, was starting to read the cards she was previously having trouble with.

Also, did you know that real snake oil really did exist? Another fun addition is the fact that printed on the backside of the rules, is a really neat little history lesson about the true history of snake oil. This was a lesson for all of us and we found the information very interesting.


Would I recommend this game? Absolutely! It's a wonderful game and I think everyone would benefit from owning it. You know what they say - Laughter is the best medicine! There was no shortage of laughter in our home while playing Snake Oil for sure. 





How Much Does Snake Oil Cost?



Suggested price for Snake Oil is only $19.99




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Monday, November 10, 2014

Purposeful Design ~ Review


Sometimes we read material that we just absolutely fall in love with and recently my family and I did just that. We were blessed to be able to review the book, Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation from Purposeful Design. Anytime I have the opportunity to use curriculum that teaches my children more about our loving Creator, God, is a huge win! 




Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation is an award winning, hardback, 96 page book written by Jay Schabacker. The book beautifully reveals the principles of science and explains the elements of design that make life possible. Most importantly, to me, is that it presents compelling evidence that a loving Creator, God, was purposeful in the designs. Mr. Schabacker breaks down each day in the creation week and expands on each concept with beautiful words, photos, and illustrations. I was pleased to read and study this book alongside my three daughters. My daughters are 11, 10, and 8 and were very interested in the book. We had a ton of fun reading through it and exploring each chapter. Just like there are seven days in the creation there are seven chapters. 

1) The First Day - Creation of the Heavens and the Earth - The Foundation of it All.
2) The Second Day - Creation of the Atmosphere and Water
3) The Third Day - Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation
4) The Fourth Day - Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
5) The Fifth Day - Creation of the Birds and Fish
6) Creation Day Six - Creation of Land Creatures and Humans
7) The Seventh Day

Each chapter corresponds with each day of creation. I really like the way Mr. Schabacker did that. 




We read a few chapters a week and then we spent time studying the information more in depth. A wonderful compliment to the book is the Purposeful Design: Young Explorer’s Club. The Purposeful Design: Young Explorer’s Club includes a 30 page downloadable and printable workbook that corresponds with each chapter. There is also a downloadable and printable teachers manual key and nice completion certificates. All these materials can be downloaded FREE of charge on the Purposeful Design website. My daughters enjoyed the workbook. The workbook breaks down each chapter with question sets, bible verses for reflection, and more exercises, such as drawing and writing their own opinions. It turned out to be a wonderful science and bible study for us. I know that we would have loved the book without the workbook, but having the workbook made the book much more useful for our family. It gave us the opportunity to really dig into what we were reading.


Some of the topics my daughters learned about while reading Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation were:
  • the rain cycle 
  • vegetation
  • seasons
  • moon phases
  • ocean tides
  • birds
  • fish
  • mammals
  • the human body
It was a really fun study for them. It turned out to be quite hands on as well. They became so involved with the study. It truly warmed my heart. They created posters on moon phases that turned out pretty cool. They were pretty proud of them. 


One of my favorite parts of the Purposeful Design: Young Explorer’s Club was the completion certificates. 



I felt that it was such a neat extra. It made my daughters feel good about finishing Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation and worksheets. I must say though, My absolute favorite part of this review, was reading through the book and knowing that my daughters were learning more about how our loving God, designed with purpose a world for us. This is a book we will return to in the future many times. I'm so thankful that we were able to review it. 


Who is this book recommended for?

Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation is suitable for all ages. In fact, I highly recommend it for everyone. 


How much does Purposeful Design cost?

You can currently purchase Purposeful Design for only $18.95. (That is 25% off the retail price of $24.95 plus you get the FREE BONUS Young Explorer’s Club Curriculum)

Want to connect with Purposeful Design?



Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Jayschabacker (Jayschabacker@Jayschabacker)

LinkedIn: Jayschab


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Friday, November 07, 2014

IXL ~ Review



Have you came across any fun websites that allow your child to practice math and language arts skills? Our family recently did when we had the opportunity to review IXL Math and IXL Language Arts from the wonderful company, IXL. I was given access to their online program for a full year for up to five students. I used the program with my three daughters. Anytime I have the opportunity to help my daughters improve their math and language skills is a huge advantage for us all.


What is IXL?


IXL provides online math (PreK-Precalculus) and language arts (2nd-8th) practice for children. It's colorful design and play feel, make using the online program enjoyable. A fun addition is the awards and certificates that are hidden throughout the site. IXL also provides easy-to-read reports and e-mail updates. I love the fact that I will never miss a second of my daughters learning.

Is it important for you to be aligned with your state's standards? Not a problem! With IXL's state standards alignments, you can easily find unlimited practice problems specifically tailored to each required standard.



I really enjoyed the many topics and practice questions that IXL has to offer. If you're looking for a program for instruction than IXL isn't going to be for you. If you're looking for a program to help your child practice what he or she already knows, than IXL would be the perfect fit. There are literally thousands of questions on a huge amount of topics relating to language arts and math. 

I had my daughters doing third, forth, and fifth grade practice questions. As you can see from the graphics below, there are a ton of skills to practice. I will have to say that I noticed that my daughters were having a bit of a hard time using their grade level at times, but this was easily fixed by going down a grade level or picking a topic they were comfortable with. It also allowed me to be able to easily identify what they needed more work on and what they were doing with ease.








As noted above, the practice on the math part is for grades PreK-Precalculus. I loved the fact that in our regular math curriculum my daughters were able to learn concepts and then practice them same concepts on the IXL Math section of the site. Finding the right topics wasn't hard either. I found it very easy to navigate my way around their site.

We found the question pages to be uncluttered, which was very nice. When my daughters missed questions, there was always a wonderful explanation given. I appreciated that even though this isn't an instructional program, that it does give clear explanations that helped my daughters understand why they missed the question.




  
My daughters thought is was very fun to be awarded certificates. It was probably one of their favorite parts. It made them feel really good about the time they were spending practicing their skills. My oldest was very, very proud of her 5 hours of math practice certificate. 

Right now there is also an IXL math app available. I did download the app to our Kindle. We personally didn't use it, but I can foresee us using it in the future.

It looks like a fantastic app.









The practice questions for the Language arts section is 2nd-8th grade. I did happen to notice on the site that they were going to be adding 9th and 10th grade soon. I know that this will come in handy for a lot of people. It's exciting to also know that when my daughters are older, this will be available to them. 


Just like with the math section, these questions were also on a uncluttered page, helping keep the focus on the questions. My daughters liked getting the right answer. When a right answer is given, a fun graphic pops up that says, well done, fantastic, brilliant, and you got it! We liked the positive encouragement. 

We have been working on using correct form with my youngest daughter. When I found the practice questions, I knew they would be a great fit. She did very well with them. Below is an example of some the questions she was asked. 



They have also just added a brand new language arts iPad app. I don't have an iPad, but I assume one for Kindle will be out sometime in the future. I can't wait to check it out. 


~Awards~


The awards area was a fun extra for us. I liked that we were able to see what they had earned, how many questions they had answered, how long they had practiced for, what they had mastered, and how long until their next win. 

Each grade level has its own themed game award board. This was nice when we had to switch between grade levels. We could see what was done on one grade level and what was done on the other.


~Reports Area~


I appreciated being able to access this area. I was able to see status updates, usage, performance, trouble spots, progress, and the state standards.  Some of the reports are set up in a bar graph and circle graph manner, making them easier to understand the information. A nice feature was also being able to print or export each area in the reports. In this area I was also able to have access to the certificates my daughters earned. My favorite section was the skills practices and the trouble spots. I thought it was wonderful to be able to see what topics my daughters were having trouble with, so that we could work on those skills.


When clicking on the skills practiced, I was able to see how much time my daughter had spent on a skill, how many problems they attempted and what their smartscore was. I wasn't sure what the smartscore was, but after clicking on the question mark, I learned that it was based on a proprietary algorithm and is designed to give you the best possible measure of your child's mastery level. Whenever your child's smartscore reaches 100, you can feel confident that your child has mastered that skill.

~What I loved about IXL~

I really enjoyed seeing my daughters skill levels improve throughout the review period. I anticipate that they will only continue to improve while using this awesome program. I also liked that it gave me a push to introduce concepts that I might have not thought they were ready for, but noticed that they were. I also loved being able to access the reports area.  It's always nice to be able to track my daughters progress when using online programs. I definitely appreciated the e-mails.


~How much does IXL cost?~

The cost of IXL for one student is $9.95/month for one subject, or $15.95/month for both math and language arts. Additional students are only an extra $2 per month.


An annual subscription is only $79 for one subject, or $129 for both math and language arts. Each additional student is only $20 a year


Want to connect with IXL?



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