Over the next 30 days, I will be reviewing www.Science4Us.com. Science4Us is an engaging, elementary science curriculum that teaches science using a fun, interactive approach. If you have your own blog and would like to review Science4Us, check out their homeschool review program. Make sure to come back and read my full review.
The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling through the Great Smoky Mountains (Amazon affiliate link) is the latest book by Jeff Alt. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
I have been reading this book to my children, who are five and seven at the moment. They could sit through up to four chapters of this book at a time. The book has 16 chapters and, as such, it could be read as a family in a week. The chapters are short, about seven pages long on average. We read it in the evening for our bedtime story time, as well as in the car, during a family trip we took out-of-state. As the kids got antsy on the backseat, I pulled the book out and started reading, showing them an illustration as we came upon it. Each chapter has one black-and-white illustration which captures the most important scene of that chapter.
Overall, I would recommend this to any family trying to awaken an interest in hiking and the Smokies. We all need to work towards that goal. Children log in way too many hours playing video games and watching TV, resulting in poor thinking skills and obesity, not to mention a terrible disconnect from nature and ecology. The book is entertaining and educational at the same time. My kids love it and they ask for more as we finish each chapter.
We happen to live in the Smokies, so we love all the places mentioned and we know most of them from having been there. When the story took the Jones family back in time to Lucretia Oliver’s cabin in Cades Cove, I told the children we were there in 2011 for Mother’s Day. They don’t remember because they were one and four at the time, but it was a neat memory to share with them while reading this book.
The plot is simple: Bubba Jones and his sister take a trip through the Smokies with their parents and extended family, learning about all the people that have ever lived through these places and how the National Park came to be. They travel through time using a family skill passed on to Bubba by his grandfather.
Hiking and camping tips are shared in a relaxed way, and one even reads about how to act when running into a black bear in the Park. At the end of the book, you will find a section with questions that check reading comprehension and retention.
Overall, this would be a great book to read before, during and after your trip in the Smokies. Kids love it and learn a few things, too. I believe Jeff Alt has embraced a great cause: that of inspiring the next generation with a love of nature and hiking. This book is part of his efforts as an avid hiker and award-winning writer to accomplish that mission. It looks like this is only the first volume in a National Parks series, so stay tuned for forthcoming volumes on other parks.
The book can be picked up at different gift shops in the National Park, as well as on Amazon. It is only $9.18, which is a great price for a book that has 180 pages, including an educational section in the back.
For your information, the book does mention the theory of evolution as a fact in one place. Chapter 3 states that the Smokies are at least 460 million years old. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you can read the book and not have to worry too much about earth origins. The main thrust of the book is about hiking, enjoying nature, solving the family mystery of the missing cousin and loving the Smokies.
I have written on my blog several times about Accountable Kids but it has been briefly, just in passing, i.e. we use it and are happy with it. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, I rate it at 5. I think the time has come for me to share with you more in-depth about it. This program is for children ages 3-14. I started using it four years ago, when my oldest was 3 and my second was still a baby. Obviously, the baby could not do much with it. So we only bought one kit.
The kit contains a wooden board with five pegs, cards to hang on the different pegs, and a book. I highly recommend the book before you start the program with the children, not just so that you may understand what you are trying to accomplish, but to learn more about childhood phases, how you should think on your children’s level and many other parenting tips.
The Accountable Kids program has helped me (1) prioritize and schedule chores, (2) motivate my children, (3) hold them accountable for their behavior, (4) reward them for positive behavior and (5) build a forum for addressing negative behavior. It is not just a chore chart, mind you. Continue reading
First off, the Accountable Kids program is customizable to your child and situation. That’s the best part. We all have different philosophies about child rearing. Some of us have none, so we need help figuring out what we should be aiming for, right? I know I was clueless when it came to allowance and chores, for instance, because I was not raised with any structure when it came to those two concepts.
Secondly, this program will take the guesswork out of parenting by giving you step-by-step instructions on how to implement chores, their execution, and their rewards.
Last but not least, the kids learn to be accountable to you and to the family for their behavior.
So the program comes with several types of cards:
- basic chore cards (chores for which you will not pay your child; they must be performed as a citizen of the household; your child receives a ticket for performing morning, afternoon, and evening cards; these tickets come with rewards you decide on with your child)
- tickets (see above)
- extra chore cards (chores your child can do for money)
- best behavior cards (you give these out to your children now and then when they exhibit a value-based behavior)
- bonus bucks (they are paid for extra chores and exchanged for cash at the end of the week)
- privilege pass (if you are working with your child on eliminating a negative behavior or habit, you can target it by offering a privilege pass when your child does not do that particular behavior; e.g., your four-year-old keeps getting out of bed after you have put her down for the night; if she does not come out of her room one evening, the next morning you can give her a privilege pass which can be redeemed like a ticket, for a field trip, a date with mom, play time with dad, screen time etc.)
They have very helpful videos on their site to explain how it all works, but nothing beats reading the book, which comes with the basic kit. Their website also has free printables, like the forms used for your weekly Family Forum.
As my children grew from 3 and 0 to 5 and 3, I had to adapt the way I use it. I put both of them on the same board. I wanted to experience the program fully before I invested in another kit. Besides, we all stayed home, nobody attended daycare or preschool, and did all activities together, so it only made sense. Because they were so young, my children loved looking at the colorful cards, touching them, moving them from peg to peg, understanding that we cannot have breakfast for instance until we finished our morning cards (making beds, dressing up, combing hair, taking our vitamin etc). It was a concrete way for them to grasp what we were asking them to do.
Fast forward two more years. My kids are now 5 and 7. It is time for me to stop coaxing and reminding them about their cards. I am ready to make them more accountable for their behavior. They know what they have to do. I should not have to nag. So … it is time to get a second kit with another board. That way, they each are responsible for their pegs, for moving their cards and themselves through the day, and receiving their rewards accordingly.
All in all, I highly recommend this program with a five-star rating, but please beware. The program only works if you work the program. Don’t be discouraged if at first you don’t succeed. Try, try again. It will all be worth it in the end.
When I watched the TED talk on Little Bits, I knew I was going to have to get a set for my son. He loves all things LEGO – I have not blogged enough about his LEGO projects, a thing I intend to change in 2015 – and Little Bits seems like the next step as he continues to explore building, electronics, and technology.
I suggest you watch the TED talk I mentioned above. It’s only 5 minutes. Their creator explains what Little Bits are better than I could. In short, Little Bits are electronic modules of different colors, each color performing a specific task (like pulse, sound, light, wire etc), and which snap together via magnets. No soldering needed.
Little Bits are intended for children 8 to ∞. Our son turned 7 in November, but he looks like an 8-year-old and he reads at a 6th grade level. He builds LEGO projects intended for 14-year-olds. So who’s to say that we should wait another year to get him Little Bits? Continue reading
We got the deluxe starter set ($199) for him this Christmas. It is the biggest kit they make, containing 18 modules and 3 accessories.
He also received the brick adapter ($9.95) so he can connect his circuits to LEGO bricks. They offer free shipping on all sets. Also, they grant 15% off to homeschool families. You should apply here for the discount.
Every day, he discovers what his Little Bits can do. Daddy spent some time with him in the beginning to offer instructions here and there, but our son is pretty much on his own now in this exploration. Frankly, I would not know how to guide him because electronics never was my cup of tea. I’m happy he knows what he is doing.
I would say he spends at least one hour a day exploring the projects listed in his instructions. Today, he built dancing signs, as he explains in this YouTube video. Then, he worked on a robot, but the cardboard box turned out to be too heavy, so I have no robot to show you. We are looking for lighter boxes to put it together. Learning happens especially when things don’t work out well.
“Build something that makes something” is one of the trademarked phrases Little Bits came up with. I can’t think of a better way for a child to spend his days than to build something that makes something. Can you?
We love French in our homeschool. I have started teaching my children French on a regular basis this spring. We joined the Alliance Française of Knoxville, signed up for Popi, and watched Caillou on youtube. However, I felt the need for a systematic approach to learning French. Enter Petra Lingua. Continue reading
Full disclosure: they are one of my sponsors. But I would not be writing about this curriculum if I did not think it was great or if I did not use it with my children.
So Petra Lingua is for younger elementary kids, say ages 3-10. However, if you are an adult who needs to study French and enjoy animation, this is a great product for you, as well. I would add that if you feel intimidated by language learning, you should definitely consider Petra Lingua. Their mascot, a cute doggy named Wuffy, will become your best buddy – while teaching you French.
I know my kids laugh every time he enters the screen. He makes an entrance in a different way every time.
The lessons contains songs, repetition, a chance for you to repeat back what the speaker said, as well as exercises to practice what you learned.
Also, you should know this product comes in two versions: an online version and a DVD kit, which offers a booklet with exercises and a music CD, as well as the DVD for the lessons. At the end of the 20 lessons, you will have learned 500 basic words in French and, hopefully, you will have gained some confidence toward more lessons.
They even have a lesson plan you can follow so that you know what to expect (or what to do) for each lesson.
The online product costs $4.99 per month for six months. How’s that for a bargain? You can do one lesson a week and be done in 20 weeks, with no stress and without breaking the bank. If you wanted the DVD kit, which also contains a Wuffy Dog Handpuppet and a set of playing cards to practice vocabulary, it is $75.
So it boils down to how good your internet connection is. I use this set to teach my French Play Group at the library and their connection is not so good on some days. The result? The songs get interrupted a lot as the laptop keeps buffering. I have learned to bring the DVDs instead.
My kids love Wuffy and they play with the handpuppet a lot. They sing the songs and request certain lessons just because they like them. For instance, my daughter really, really likes the Vegetables and Fruits – which happens to be available for free on their website. My son prefers the lesson about counting to 20 – things come in train cars and he loves trains.
If you want to watch the free lesson, go ahead and sign up. You will receive a code for 15% off when you do decide to purchase. How cool is that?
As we progress through these lessons, I will be back to tell you some more about them. Until then, au revoir!
For a couple of months now, the kids and I have been listening to Allons Danser! – a CD with French music for kids, produced by Whistlefritz. It has been such a great tool for my French Play Group, not just for my children. We use the Bonjour, Les Amis song to start the meeting and Au Revoir to close. Continue reading
At home, I play the entire CD as the children play and I cook or do some other housework. It’s the best background music. You know how music can influence your mood even if you don’t understand the words? Marie-Louise Desage’s crystal-clear voice gives me joy. And although I understand the words, the music makes me feel like I am on a beach vacation as I wipe kitchen counters or peel potatoes.
The Carribean-infused melodies, written by Didier Prossaird, go along well with summer time or any time of the year when you wish you could have summer back. In short, these songs put me in a good mood – a vacation mode. They are not just for the kids.
Here’s a listing of all the songs, with the vocabulary you can expect to learn and drill as you sing:
- Quand Je Serai Grand – When I grow up – job titles
- Bonjour Les Amis – Hello, friends – greetings and the weather
- Un, Deux et Trois – One, two, three – body parts and, obviously, counting to three
- Le Vieux MacDonald – Old McDonald – farm animals and their sounds
- La Danse des Mains – The dance of hands – place adverbs like up, down, to the side etc
- Ma Journée – My day – a daily schedule of meals and activities
- Le Bain – The bath – feet, water, tub, getting into the tub, it’s fun – an invitation to have fun with bubbles
- L’Heure de Ranger – Time to clean up – here, there, now, dusting, cleaning, sweeping, broom, duster
- Des Jouets – Toys – plane, flying, bicycle, pedaling, etc.
- La Barbichette – Goatee – to hold, ouch
- Il Pleut – It rains – umbrella, yes, no, dancing in the rain, big clouds are gray etc.
- Les Doigts – The fingers
- Y’a Pas de Fête Sans Gateau – No party without cake – gift, giving a gift, etc.
- Les Enfants Quand Ils Dansent – The children, when they dance –
- La Tête, Les Épaules – Head, shoulders – the same melody and vocabulary as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
- Le Camion de Glace – Ice cream van – all the kids come out of the house when the ice cream van passes by
- La Grenouille Reinette – A frog named Reinette – whimsical and funny
- En Haut, En Bas – Up, down
- Les Petits Poissons – The little fishes – swimming, in the water, little, big, the same as
- Au Revoir – Goodbye – saying goodbye in different ways, the party is over, it’s time to say goodbye
We all memorize so much better if the words are set to music. This collection will be the perfect addition to your French class. We listen to it in the car, too. I am still amazed by how much I can retain just by listening to 15 minutes of French music a couple of times a week. If you, like me, are looking for ways to maximize learning throughout the day, you will appreciate this CD you can add to your car schooling supply list.
The CD booklet contains all the French lyrics, as well as a vocabulary list for each song. Thus, instead of paraphrasing so you get the gist of the song, Whistlefritz gives you word-by-word translations to help with your goal of learning French. How helpful is that? Any homeschooling mom who took some French and remembers some should be able to utilize this CD and help introduce her children to the sounds of the beautiful French language.
My children break into song in French out of the blue, while playing or running around outside. Their pronunciation may not be all there and they may not understand everything they are saying, but it’s a start. Plus, it is a great opportunity for me to join them in song. Sometimes I exaggerate a bit the correct pronunciation so they can correct themselves. Other times I just sing and have fun along with them.
I highly recommend the Allons Danser! CD above any other language learning CDs I have bought – and I bought a few.
Disclaimer; I received a free copy of the product above in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. The Amazon links above are affiliate links. All opinions I have expressed here are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
Two years ago, when I heard about Bringing Up Bébé, I was not interested. The subtitle of the book is, “One American Mother Discovers the Joy and Wisdom of French Parenting.” I knew one thing about French parenting: it’s very hands-off, i.e. they put their babies in crèches (daycare for babies) at three months old and, later, they send them to all-day preschool at three. This is the way I was raised in Romania by my working parents.
Pas pour moi. Continue reading
I have French friends and Romanian friends who live in Paris. I have read extensively about French culture. I had to, because I majored in French at the University of Bucharest. There are so many things I love about France. And then, there are things I just cannot accept for me, for my life, for my children and my lifestyle. If they want to do it, that’s their prerogative.
Besides, two years ago, I was coming out of the baby stage with my two children (they were four and two at the time). I felt it was too late to implement anything, even if I had a shred of interest in the French way of parenting.
But, the other day, at the library, I saw this book again. I felt the urge to read it. If nothing else, out of curiosity.
I read it in about three days, stopping only to provide meals and necessary care to my children. My husband said he had not heard me laugh out loud so much in a long time. Pamela Druckerman, the author, is a journalist by trade. She knows how to be funny, how to do research, and how to tell a story to keep you engaged.
Bonus: I got all kinds of French language pleasure thanks to all the French expressions peppered throughout the book (there’s a glossary in the front of the book for those who are not familiar with the language of Molière).
I knew what the joy of French parenting had to do with: less time spent with the kiddos means more time for mommy, mommy’s career, and mommy’s identity away from the children. Of course there is joy in not doing diaper duty 24/7. There is joy in somebody else potty training your child. There is joy in somebody else training your child to eat his spinach and not throw food. There is freedom in not being mom 24/7 and freedom brings about joy.
However, I don’t like what comes with it, right behind joy: separation from the child for eight hours a day. That’s non-negotiable for me.
Anyhow, I did find some pearls of wisdom. Let me share some of the things French parents do, which I think fall in the category of wisdom:
- Attend! (Wait!) – Since babyhood, French children are told to wait two minutes if mommy is in the middle of something. It helps with training babies to sleep through the night earlier and it helps with being able to have an adult conversation. It teaches children early on that the world does not revolve around them.
- No snacking other than the 4pm goûter, which is necessary, when your child eats at 8am, 12noon and then 8pm, as most French do. Druckerman calls it the national meal plan.
- “You have the right to…” or “You don’t have the right to…” – as soon as a child misbehaves, he is told he does not have the right to behave that way. It presents a different paradigm than disobeying a rule. It teaches the child he is an important person, with rights, but so is everybody else around him.
- Baking weekly with the children, as young as three-years-old – I actually made Gâteau au yaourt (Yogurt Cake) with my daughter. It’s the easiest cake French children bake for their first time in the kitchen. The recipe is given in the book, but we found that the baking time must be at least doubled, or the heat increased. Or something. We ate it all right. It was delicious, if only a bit too wet – but we need to tweak it a bit more. My daughter knows about dry ingredients and wet ingredients as a result.
- Talking to children – as early as infancy – about your expectations of them
- Le cadre (The framework) – clear boundaries set up for children (you absolutely may not come into mommy’s room in the morning on weekends, or hit a parent, or use a disrespectful tone, or throw food, for instance); but, inside those boundaries, absolute freedom allows children to develop their own interests and personality
- Faire l’éducation (literally, to make the education – i.e., to give your child instruction on how to be, how to live) – it tilts the whole parenting gig towards instruction and a professional attitude towards their own children, and away from the emotional reactions that drive us to discipline our children and dole out consequences as soon as they disobey. It also helps with not taking things personally. When you view yourself as a life teacher for your child, you become less of a policeman for his actions.
- Des bêtises (naughty acts performed by children, which are considered normal, acceptable for their young age) – drawing on furniture or the wall would be examples of bigger bêtises. Still, many French parents will not discipline their children for such acts of naughtiness. It’s an interesting concept which helps parents relax and not feel like they have to find a consequence or lose their temper for every childhood accident or broken glass.
When Druckerman’s oldest child goes to school and the teacher does not give the mom any details about her daughter’s performance in school, I have a problem. So does Druckerman, but she seems to accept that that’s just what they do in France. She is told that her daughter is “competent.” She moves on.
Like I said above, the book is hilarious. At least, for me, this side of parenting. And it’s pleasant, if you like French or the French culture at all. But I do not agree 100% with the French ways. And that’s OK.
I love reading and I love organizational tips. So you can imagine how glad I was to read and review Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms, by Mary Jo Tate, published by Apologia Educational Ministries. This book contains everything a homeschooling mom needs to organize her life AND her way of thinking.
The most important thing in the book are not so much the forms and the organizational principles, as much as the philosophy underlying everything, i.e. that your goal should be balancing your many roles and tasks throughout the day and the years, not juggling them. The image you should have in your mind, as a homeschooling mom trying to do it all, is not that of a juggler, throwing things in the air so you can catch the urgent ones ready to hit the floor. Instead, you should imagine a tight-rope walker, carefully making small adjustments, as she advances to the other side. Continue reading
This book is for moms and it was written specifically for homeschooling moms. If you have your own business while homeschooling, you will find it even more tailored to your needs. But, if you don’t, think as one of the ladies quoted in the book said, “my business is homeschooling.” You save the family thousands of dollars every year by homeschooling and not enrolling your children in private schools. So the principles given for your own business could also easily be applied to everything you do in homeschooling.
The author’s story is impressive: when her fourth son was only six months old, her husband left her. Life as she knew it came to an end. Can you imagine the heartache and the confusion for her and for her sons? She was determined to homeschool though. So she prayed and struggled and found a way to work from home as an editor, seminar creator, and writer so she could continue on with her calling.
You know, that really inspires and encourages me. All these moms out there rolling their eyes at me when they hear I homeschool and whispering, “I could not do that…” Well, here’s proof positive that homeschooling can be done even as a – gasp! – work-at-home single mom of four sons.
When I first read about this book, I expected some “Ra-Ra!” message for homeschooling moms, from the pen of a pampered stay-at-home homeschooling mom, whose husband is a doctor or lawyer. I thought, “Surely, the author will be quoting Scripture and tell us to not get weary in well-doing…” I am glad to tell you I was wrong. Ms. Tate does quote Scripture, but the book is not as predictable as I thought. Plus, I find it quite useful with all the tips and tricks for organizing time and home and homeschooling.
So yes, it’s inspirational because of Ms. Tate’s story, but it’s really a practical book. Most of the principles you may have heard before from Zig Ziglar and other motivational, organizational gurus. She quotes them herself. But Ms. Tate applies them to homeschooling moms and that’s the reason why you should buy the book. It’s a 289-page paperback filled with forms for your to use over and over again. Once you buy it, you will receive a code to access these forms online and print them out as you see fit. The books costs $15.
At the end of every chapter, there are assignments for you to do before you go on, under the heading, “Take Action!” Personally, I found out a lot about myself as I took the time to fill out the forms and think about the questions. The shocker for me was when I answered the question, “What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself?” My answer was so completely not related to the Big Dream I had described in previous questions. It came from the left field and taught me much about myself.
But then, when I stopped and thought about it, it made perfect sense. If I could just change this one thing about me, my self-confidence would grow and then I would be able to accomplish the Big Dream. For me, these exercises were crucial in getting any benefit from this book. It’s not a novel you read and get a few moments of pleasure from. It’s a workshop which requires active participation. The book came out of her workshop called “How Do You Do It All?”.
Throughout the book, there are inspirational quotes from famous people, as well as from homeschooling moms the author has counseled and coached over the years. Here’s one by Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” One of the moms in Ms. Tate’s “How Do You Do It All?” class says, “A big key to success for me is that the more I write down, the less I have in my brain. The less I have swirling around in my brain, the better I can focus on the task at hand without having to worry about what is next or if I’m forgetting anything. And I’m actually less irritable with my children.”
So if you are overwhelmed or just slightly unbalanced in your homeschooling experience, let Ms. Tate take you on this journey. First, she will invite you to flourish, then to change your mind about how you view your life (balancing, not juggling). In the third chapter, you will find the FREEDOM toolbox, an acronym for Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, Multitask, Use Your Tools Wisely, Take Action!
From Chapter 4, the real fun begins. You are to keep a time log for every 30-minute interval in your day. You know, kind of like people who are keeping track of the calories they ingest, so they can get a better picture of their diet. This exercise is brilliant. You will learn much about where you squander your minutes. Chapter 5 is all about setting goals, the why and the how. Chapter 6 will give you the seven essential planning tools.
This is where Ms. Tate allows you to skip one or two forms if it all seems like overkill in the beginning. I like her flexibility. She explains she experimented with dropping some of these forms but it all became a mess, so she added them back on. In all honesty, that’s where I’m at. It seems like busy work, but I have not tried it yet for my opinion to really matter. I do, however, plan to walk myself through the whole planning process the way she describes it for the next calendar year, and see what results I get.
The rest of the book I will not present here. You will have to get your own copy and enjoy it and let it organize your life and your way of thinking.
To connect with the book online, here are the Social Media Links:
For the past couple of months we have had the privilege of learning piano from HomeSchoolPiano, an online subscription program created by Willie Myette. Besides the lessons, which are 10-minute videos, we also received access to HomeSchoolPiano – Complete Set of Books. These three books (PDFs you must print yourself) will take you from an absolute beginner level all the way to the advanced level of creating different arrangements in various musical styles.
These online piano lessons are for all ages. Willie is very engaging. He tells jokes and makes intentional mistakes to see if you are paying attention. He repeats concepts several times in the course of the lesson so that new ideas will stick. As long as your child understands English, he should be able to follow along.
Some of the lessons have some practice and others are more theoretical. So, besides piano techniques and posture, you also get music theory, which is very helpful, especially if you yourself have never had musical training.
I took four years of piano as a child growing up in Romania, so I don’t need the basics, but I like to hear these lessons anyway because of specific musical terms and vocabulary in English. I will give you an example. The treble clef in Romanian is called the G clef. Well, in my son’s music theory book, which we got from Amazon at the recommendation of our violin teacher, the treble clef is the treble clef. It’s not called anything else but the treble clef.
In his introduction of the treble clef, Willie explains that there are two names for this symbol: the treble clef OR the G clef. Thank you, Willie! I’m a linguist and words and terminology are important to me. This might not be a big deal for somebody else, but it was for me. I feel more informed about the English musical terms and vocabulary.
All you need to use this curriculum is internet access. As you saw above, the site can be viewed from mobile devices, as well.
You can purchase HomeSchoolPiano in two ways, because they provide two payment packages. The pricing is as follows:
1. Success Package (One payment of $299)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.
2. Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.
There are so many benefits to learning a musical instrument. But time to drive to and from a piano teacher’s studio may be an issue for your already crowded schedule. Money may be an issue as well.
A typical 30-minute instrument lesson can be around $40. If your child takes weekly lessons, you will have spent around $300 in two months. HomeSchoolPiano is a great value when you look at it that way, because you get a lifetime subscription and work at your child’s pace. Not to mention, if your family is smaller than six members, everybody in the family can learn!
To introduce this curriculum to my children, I just logged into my account and started playing the first video lesson. They came running. They heard a new voice and they rushed to see what it was. They watched the first couple of lessons with rapture. The two keyboards on the screen looked very different, I suppose. Plus, Willie can be funny.
When he gave them the assignment to find all the Cs on the piano, they ran to the piano. That’s how I realized that I need to take my laptop with the video lessons into the room with the piano.
The following day, I started the lessons in the same room with the piano. My son proudly demonstrated all the Cs on the piano. My daughter is only four and she did not know what to do. She learned as she watched her older brother.
And so we continued with less and less interest from my youngest – although she hangs around when we do the lessons and practices. She learns by osmosis, like any younger sibling.
My son, on the other hand, has learned a few things directly, not by osmosis. I think the most important thing for him at this point was the grab technique. The tissue trick was great. My son was spreading his pinky all over the piano key and no matter how much I told him to hold his hand together as if he were holding a tennis ball, he would not do it. But we practiced grabbing the key with a tissue and then I only had to remind him twice. His hand position is greatly improved.
Overall, the curriculum is easy to use, but it can get a bit boring in places. My son lost interest after a few lessons and it was rather difficult to get him excited about it again. I liked it for me, but I am an adult. I suppose an older child or a really motivated child would find it easier to use.
Recently, we received two of the seven Go Science DVDs (Series 2) from Library and Educational Services. What follows is a review of DVD 4 – Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light – and DVD 7 – Engineering, Design, and Flight – , as well as a general overview of this set and the experience my children had while watching.
Ben Roy, a science professor from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, recorded different science experiments for a children’s program on a Christian satellite TV station. Later on, he put them together in these DVDs. Continue reading
The result is great because he had a live audience watching and participating and anticipating the result of the experiment (the scientific method at work). Children range from preschool age to tweens in his audience, which is pretty much the age recommended for these DVDs: 4-12.
The titles are as follows:
DVD 1 – Sound, Gravity and Space
DVD 2 – Life Science, Weather, and Light
DVD 3 – Air
DVD 4 – Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light
DVD 5 – States of Matter and Water
DVD 6 – Chemistry
DVD 7 – Engineering, Design, and Flight
The whole set costs $59.82. Each DVD costs $8.97. One must create an account with Library and Educational Services in order to take advantage of these whole-sale prices.
By the way, Library and Educational Services offers so many other products, you will probably refer to their site over and over again. I think it’s great that they offer these discounts to homeschoolers.
I have to tell you that once you turn these DVDs on, you cannot stop. I was going to do only 30 minutes at a time initially, but when I saw how much the children enjoyed it and how quickly time seemed to go by, I let them watch one whole DVD in one sitting. The next day, we watched the other one.
My four-year-old daughter enjoyed watching the DVDs right along her big brother, who is six. They made predictions, clapped, and shouted YESSS or NOOO when Ben Roy asked his studio audience a question. In that sense, watching the DVDs can be interactive.
Each experiment is a separate video clip, not longer than five minutes. I like that format because the children do not have time to get bored. Also, because it feels like you cover a lot of material (because you do!) but in less time.
The videos follow the same format, too, which helps with predictability and routine. Children like to know what to expect. By the third video, my children knew that the experiment was over and Mr. Roy was going to draw a spiritual lesson out of it. They started talking over him – they were more excited about things exploding, spilling, or breaking, than about the spiritual application. But that’s OK, they still caught some of what he was saying.
Mr. Roy ends every video bit with “You know, children, when you learn more about science, you learn more about the Creator, GOD!” If your children just get this sentence as a principle for their education, you have accomplished a great deal in your homeschooling efforts by watching these DVDs.
Even though I believe low-tech educational experiences are superior to the ones involving my children staring at a screen, I have to say these DVDs are a great addition to my homeschool. I can think of those low-energy days when I just can’t seem to get it together. I could pop one of these DVDs into the DVD player and cuddle up with my children (or stay away, if need be).
They have just been shown some amazing tricks (I mean, science experiments), I get some rest, and the voice of my conscience has been silenced because they are “doing school” and learning a lot. There is something to be said about delegating my children’s education to somebody else for one hour at a time, now and then.
But, first and foremost, these DVDs can be used as a science curriculum supplement. Also, if your child needs a cool Science Fair Project idea, you have plenty to choose from in these DVDs – for different levels of maturity and courage.