Thursday, August 29, 2019

Color War

A, B and C had a fun church event last night - a Color War.  They had a ton of fun and I was told that the speaker was awesome.  I'm so glad our church has fun opportunities for them.

 A and B getting picked up

After the Color War

TENZI Game and TENZI Card Deck Review

Have you heard of TENZI?  It is a super fun dice game designed for kids 7 and older, so ~ 2nd grade and up.  Speed is everything in this game.

This game comes with 4 sets of 10 different colored dice - red, blue, green and yellow.  How to play - each player is given all 10 of one colored dice, so you can have up to 4 players.  When you start, all the players roll their dice simultaneously until all of their dice are displaying identical numbers.  So, if I roll my dice and I have the most 3's, then I will pick up the dice that don't have 3's and re-roll them in hopes of getting more 3's.  I continue on in this fashion as fast as I can until all of my dice are 3's.  It's a fast paced speed game.  When all the dice match the player yells "TENZI" and is declared the winner!

 B rolling her dice

A playing also

E won this round with 5's.

The kids thought that some of the dice colors were easier to see the numbers on than others so we often played a few rounds and then had everyone switch dice as to not have an unfair advantage.  No one is competitive around here 😉.

 E and D dice battling

If you are not sure what I mean by how you play this game then please watch the short video below to visualize what I'm talking about.

This game is simple, fast and fun!  All my kids enjoy it and it's a game we like to play as a family.  We just need to take turns because there are so many of us.   It also has great purpose when you think about math drillwork and learning about numbers in general.  Worried TENZI sounds to easy?  That's where variations come in like Splitzi for example.  In Splitzi instead of trying to get all ten dice of the same number, you must have five dice of one number and five dice of another number.  Or you can assign a number before beginning the game that everyone has to attain.

Want even more ways to expand how you play TENZI?  Then you will want the TENZI Card Deck which includes 77 new ideas on how to play the game.  There are the regular games,  pattern games, non-speed games, and score-keeping games.  There are even a few blank cards so you can create your own version of TENZI!  We are still thinking about these but I have no doubt that my kids will come up with something unexpected and fun.

Pairzi is another take on the original game.  Be the first to roll five different pairs as fast as you can!

Seventeenzi is an example of a non-speed game.

The first few times we played this game it was hard.  The next few times we played it, it was easy.  It's funny how there is so much chance and luck sometimes in dice rolling games.

Another non-speed game is Sixzi.  In this game everyone rolls their ten dice at the same time.  Any 6's that are rolled are put into the center.  Repeat again and again until a player is out of dice.  That player yells "TENZI" and wins.

D was a little excited to win this one!

You might be wondering what a pattern game is.  In these games you quickly roll your dice to create the nine-dice pattern shown on the card.  After you create the pattern, you take your last die and roll a 6.  First player to finish and yells "TENZI" wins!

C working on a pattern card.

F playing a pattern game as well.

An example of a score-keeping game is the players choose the number of dice rolls it will take to obtain TENZI - 10 rolls, 20 rolls, whatever they think.  Play the game and the player who had the closest guess wins.

These cards are fun and great for educational learning, critical thinking, and they help develop logic and puzzle solving skills.  We highly recommend both the TENZI game and the coordinating card deck.  You are sure to have a lot of family fun!

The TENZI game and card deck can be found within Timberdoodle's 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit.  This would be a great addition to your own homeschool resources and games and also makes a fun and unique gift.

F with his TENZI!

I do want to note that F (age 5) and G (age 3) have no problem playing TENZI and have a blast with everyone else!  They can also do the simpler variations but some of the more complicated variations are too hard for them.

Disclosure:  Huge shout out to Timberdoodle for selecting me as a Timberdoodle Blogger.  Timberdoodle sent my family TENZI and the TENZI Card Deck for a discounted price in exchange for our honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

D's Masquerade District Gymnastics Meet

Headed to the competition!

D had her first "official" gymnastics meet for the season as a Level 4P gymnast.  She did very well.  I thought she had some solid routines and after watching her videos back, she was able to identify some areas to improve to get her scores even higher.  She was awarded a medal on bars (6th place), beam (8th place) and for the all-around (8th place).  Here's to a great meet season D!

D wearing her "goody bag" mask after the competition finished.

Britfield & The Lost Crown Book Review

I have a fun adventure novel to share with you today, Britfield & The Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart.  It's available in softcover, hardcover, audiobook and ebook formats.  We received the physical softcover.

Our New Book

A, B and C all read this book and really enjoyed it!  Here are some of their individual thoughts below.

What A thought:  It's about two orphans named Tom and Sarah that are best friends.  They are being treated badly at the orphanage where they live.  Tom finds out that there is a chance his parents are still alive with a one word clue, Britfield.  He and Sarah escape from the orphanage in hopes of locating Tom's parents.  Along the way, they make friends that help them while being pursued by the best detective in England, Detective Gowerstone.  He often finds the duo but they manage to escape from him every time in exciting ways.  When Gowerstone finally catches Tom and Sarah, the outcome is not the expected.  This cliffhanger ending makes me excited to read the next book when it is released.

What B thought:  This book is about two best friends named Tom and Sarah.  They live at Weatherly, an orphanage run by Mr. and Mrs. Grievous, who are cruel to all of the orphans.  The orphans all have a special bond and they would do anything to help each other.  So when Tom and Sarah try to make a daring escape, the orphans cause a distraction risking punishment.  Once they have everything back in order, the Grievouses hire Detective Gowerstone, who is the greatest detective, to find Tom and Sarah.  Tom and Sarah hide in a hot air balloon and use it to get away.  Several times they just barely avoid getting caught and they can't trust anybody until they meet Professor Hainsworth.  He offers to help them and find out where they came from.  Tom had fled the orphanage with a paper that said Britfield, a hint that his parents could be alive.  With the Professor's help they learn that Tom might be the heir to the throne which puts them in even more danger.  Luckily an unexpected twist happens when they are finally caught.  I really enjoyed reading this book because it was exciting and suspenseful.  I never knew what was about to happen and I had several surprises.  I can't wait to read the next book.

What C thought:  This book was about Tom and Sarah, two orphans living in an orphanage that doesn't treat them well.  They decide to run away.  They also figured out that the name Britfield was in Tom's file.  They were trying to figure everything out while trying to escape to start a new, better life.  After escaping, they found out that Detective Gowerstone was chasing them along with police officers.  Tom and Sarah did their best to avoid them.  There was a fun hot air balloon escape.  I like this book because it was interesting and had a lot of twists and turns.  Events didn't always turn out how I thought they would and it was fun to read.  I'm looking forward to the adventures ahead in France.

This face-paced mystery, adventure novel really transports the reader throughout England.  It's about friendship, family, loyalty and courage.  The author and story invite the reader to learn more about English history, literature, art and architecture through rich detail and descriptions.  One prevalent theme throughout this adventure is that people are not always who they seem to be.  I hope that keeps you guessing!  I also want to note that this story takes place in modern day England.  I'm not surprised that it has already won numerous awards.  We are looking forward to the next installment coming in the fall of 2020.

Some of the Achievement Awards for this book

Synopsis (from the back of the book):  Tom has spent most of his life locked behind the cruel walls of Weatherly Orphanage, but when he learns that his parents might still be alive, Tom knows he must do what he can to find them.  He can't leave Weatherly without his best friend Sarah, so armed with a single clue to his past, the word BRITFIELD, the two make a daring escape by commandeering a hot air balloon.  Now they're on the run from a famous Scotland Yard detective and what looks like half the police officers in England.  Tom and Sarah's journey takes them from Oxford University to Windsor Castle, through London, and finally to Canterbury.  Along the way, they discover that Tom may be the true heir to the British throne, but even with the help of two brilliant professors, it looks like Tom and Sarah will be captured and sent back to the orphanage before they have a chance to solve Tom's royal mystery.

Our Study Guide

There is also an 83 page, 8 week study guide available to teachers and homeschoolers for free.  This guide is designed to be taught in the classroom as a comprehensive literary work working through the book chapter by chapter for ~ 8 weeks.  This guide focuses on vocabulary, comprehension, going deeper questions and suggestions for learning more and is a great resource.  It also contains an answer key.  One of my favorite parts of this guide is the story element section.  Students are asked to describe the plot, list conflicts from the plot, list the themes they found in the story, and produce brief character sketches.

Here is a vocabulary list located in the study guide.

I hope you enjoy the official book trailer below.  And keep reading to find out what others thought about Britfield & The Lost Crown.

Click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of Brittfield & The Lost Crown and see what others in this awesome community have to say!

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Friday, August 23, 2019

My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping Annual Membership Plan Review

With the Annual Membership Plan, I can use My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping to easily track and organize our upcoming school year.  This is an online subscription with a ton of features.  Let's jump in!

The Homeroom allows you to visually track all of your students progress - you can see everything going on with your students easily.  After selecting your student, you can see their classes, attendance, awards, and so much more with easy-to-understand charts.  It can be a great tool to use to show your student everything they have accomplished.

Here you can see some of A's classes that she will be taking in 10th grade.

Our current school year will not start until the first week of September.  We are still on summer break.  However, A has been working on a 5 week intense writing course.  You can see that A was 44% done with this course when I took the screenshot above.

Example of what your homeroom will look like after your school year has begun.

The Planbook is designed to be your daily lesson planner and gradebook.  It shows what assignments are due, overdue, upcoming, and unassigned using a color coded system.  There is flexibility as lessons can be marked as complete, they can be modified, and rescheduled if necessary.  I like that you can view multiple students at one time.  And I appreciate that I will be able to modify lessons if the kids get behind or ahead in a subject.  In the Planbook, I can quickly search, filter, sort and manage all of my lessons in one place.

In the Reports section you will find everything you need to create professional-looking transcripts, report cards, course descriptions, lesson plans, instructional hours and more!  This is super helpful for tracking high school and for those that homeschool in states with state reporting.  Texas is not one of them but I still think it's a great feature.

The Teacher's Aid is designed to be your personal homeschool assistant; I like that!   It contains helpful reminders and suggestions on what to do next.  It emails me and although I haven't done it yet it also can email the kids.  It really takes the guesswork out of recordkeeping with alerts that help me stay on track.

The Calendar section displays appointments, classes, extra curricular activity and more.  Customized student coloring allows you to review your students schedules side-by-side.  I love that you can see everything going on for the same time frame for all your students.

Again, here is an example of what you would see after starting your year.

If you find yourself needing help there are several places to turn including the FAQs section, video tutorials, e-mail support as well as the toll-free support line.

My kids read a lot, especially A and B.  I feel like one of their personal goals was to read through the library this summer - not a bad problem.  I really like the reading logs/lists on My School Year.  I can plan and record past, current and future books the kids have read or will be reading.

One of my favorite features is that I can reuse lesson plans and assign work to multiple students.  This is helpful when I have several of the kids working through the same subject.  The Create-A-Plan lesson generator will help me create my lessons in bulk.  I can track everything easily!

Grading Options

There are various grading scales.  You can set the ranges that constitute the class grade (A+, B, C-, etc.) or you can use their standardized and widely accepted scales.  You can choose to have a number grade, letter grade or even have a pass/fail option.  You can also customize the grade percentages or weights for tests, assignments, projects, etc. as well which is really nice.  Once a lesson is completed, the system automatically calculates the student's class average.

I love that this site is flexible and fully customizable to our homeschool tracking needs.  I can use it as little or as much as I desire.  I have been using this solely so far as I am preparing for our upcoming year but I can grant the kids access as I see fit.  I can give them no access, view only or full access.  The kids can track chores, sports events, music lesson, and all of their extra curricular activities.  I'm planning on using this feature!  I can also set it up where the kids receive daily and weekly lessons via email as well as myself.

I also want to note that this site is mobile friendly and works on any Internet connected device so you can generate a lesson plan on your Ipad or create a transcript from your phone.

I think the hardest thing for me is getting everything ready and set-up into My School Year to start using it this September.  It's not completely intuitive to me.  I currently have a lot of Teacher Aid notices of everything I haven't done but I think that is a plus as the system is showing me what I need to do!  And I am putting all seven kiddos into the system, including CoOp classes and extra curriculars which just takes longer.  I'm really excited to dive into all that's available and I'm hopeful that it will aid my school year in many ways.

Check out the video tour of My School Year below which gives you a good visual for the available features of this program.

Click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of My School Year and see what others have to say!

Annual Membership Homeschool Record Keeping  {My School Year Homeschool Record Keeping Reviews}

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Guitar Recital

Recital Set-Up

A, C, D and E have been enjoying a group guitar lesson class this summer.  The class met once a week for an hour.  C had some previous guitar skill but it was completely new for A, D and E.  They had their last class and recital last night!  It was fun to see all the kids play and I love that they are learning how to play different parts together.

I'm so proud of them!  The recital was great.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

CTCMath Family Membership Review

Even though it's still summer for us, several days a week A-E have been doing math lessons in CTCMath's full math curriculum.  I love that they have access to all grade levels with the Family Membership.  We were generously provided with the Family Membership, which is an online subscription for 12 months for up to 5 students.  With our subscription I created individual accounts for the kids which they can login using their unique username and passwords.  This program is for students in grades K-12 (K Math through Pre-Calculus) and can be used for catching up in math skills, keeping up with math skills and even moving ahead in math skills - whatever they need.  Students learn math at their own pace which is where all the grade levels come in handy!   It's a great way to learn math.  CTCMath was created by a father of 10 and homeschool parent, Pat Murray.  His goal was to create a program that teaches various learning styles with short, interactive lessons - CTCMath.

C watching a video lesson on CTCMath

Lessons include video tutorials which provide clear explanations of problems and solutions.  Most range from 5-10 minutes in length.   The lessons work well for both visual and audio learners.  It's nice that you can pause the videos and rewind and repeat them when necessary to make sure that the concepts are really grasped.  After the videos, there are interactive questions that test how well students understood the videos or concepts being taught.  These are automatically graded and students can see them immediately after completing them.

Screenshot of a video lesson on Translation that A was watching (it was ~ 3 minutes long)

One of E's questions on the number line.

Another question example for E.

Lesson on recognizing 3D shapes.

Here she had to add the value of the coins.

I have been having the kids work through lessons on the grades that they currently completed over the summer.  I wanted them to review concepts they had previously learned and give them a more solid foundation for moving forwards.  This isn't a problem at all in this program because as I mentioned earlier you can easily move around with all the levels.

There are also worksheets (with solutions) available that can be used to help students learn how to work out the math problems in clear and logical steps.  These are great preparation for tests and work great with hands-on learners.  Progress reports show how students are doing and allow you to see weaker areas and where more review is needed.

Here is an example of a lesson B did including her score and the time it took her to complete it.

I also want to mention the parent dashboard.  I can easily see all of their progress.  I have the ability to assign lessons, tasks, reviews, tests, etc.  I have access to lesson solutions as well.  I have chosen to have reports emailed to me so that I can see their weekly progress (each child's activity for the week and a summary of their progress - lessons completed, tasks completed, tests completed, games completed, average score, and certificates that were awarded).

One of D's certificates

D's dashboard 

You can see the lessons she has completed and her scores.  You can also see that there are a few games that she can play - Speed Skills and Times Table Shoot 'Em Up.  At this time she was working on multiplication so she played the later game.

This game is simple - just shoot the correct answers as quickly as possible as they come toward your ship.  Your goal is to shoot all the answers before they reach the bottom of the screen.

E has enjoyed Speed Skills which uses speed drills to work on various math facts in a game form.

The Question Bank Wizard is a handy tool that allows me to create custom worksheets controlling both the duration (number of questions or time allowed) and difficulty level (easier, evenly distributed, or harder) of the questions.  When my worksheet is generated I have even more customization abilities.  I can control the order that the questions appear in, delete any questions I don't want, or add more similar questions.  I really like the feature of adding working out space to the worksheets which leaves room for the kids to work out their answers.  You can choose to have this space below a question or next to a question.

The kids are really enjoying CTCMath and the shorter more interactive lessons.  I appreciate that it helps make math less intimidating and is an inviting way for kids to explore and learn math.  I am really enjoying all the tools that it gives me and I plan on utilizing them even more in our upcoming school year!

Check out the video below to find out even more about CTCMath and be sure to keep reading after that to find the link to more reviews!

Click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of CTCMath and see what others have to say!

Math 12-month Family Membership {CTCMath Reviews 2019}

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