Wednesday, July 31, 2013

TOS Crew - Circle Time Review

We have over the years often had a gathering time in the morning after breakfast where the kids and I would read from the bible, sing songs, and pray together before we started our day. But unfortunately, that hasn't stayed consistent. I heard about Circle Time from Preschoolers and Peace and hoped I would get fresh ideas to again implement this in our day.

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Preschoolers and Peace was started by Kendra Fletcher a homeschooling Mom to 8 children ages 20 down to 5. She began by giving workshops on how to homeschool older children with little ones running around and then began her website. She is a speaker and a writer and I am reviewing her e-book called Circle Time: Plan the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day.

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This time I was smart and had the e-book pdf file printed out for me as I tend to struggle getting a book read if it is electronic. Although the benefit of an e-book is the clickable links. This is only 33 pages but is full of good ideas on planning a circle time that works for everyone in your family. What is Circle Time? It is not original to the author and in fact I know one of my blog friends includes this time in their homeschool day. It is basically a time to gather together as a family to begin the day. Although, it can also work at other times of the day as well.

Some of the Contents of this book are:

  • Planning a Circle Time That Works for You
  • Strategies for a Peaceful Time Together
  • How to Get Your Kids on Board
  • Questions From Moms Like You
  • Words of Wisdom from Other Moms Who Do Circle Time
  • Resources, Activities, and Ideas
  • Printables
I found that Circle Time can be so much more than just reading, singing, and prayer time. Not that those things aren't good and that might be enough for some, especially if you have all young children. But as my children are getting older the routine we once had doesn't fit quite as well. Sure, my oldest will still sing "Father Abraham" and enthusiastically do the actions but I can't say that it would be his top choice. And so this was helpful to see how to add in various aspects such as memorization of poetry and scripture, word of the day, Gratitude journals, and even overlapping subjects such as history and science. The point of this is working together as a family which is one of our goals. Kendra recommends that when you begin you use her printable form included in the book to list each child's daily requirements and when you see subjects and activities that overlap that those would be the kind of things to plan into your Circle Time.

There are sample routines listed and I found myself reading through this book looking up resources as I went very excited about all of the possibilities to include during this time. Circle Time could be as short as 15 minutes or up to 2 hours when including daily subjects. Then all that is left in the day is for the child to do their individual subjects such as math. 

My favorite and simple idea to implement was "Popcorn Prayer" which I have done before but not with the children. You simply use the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and each person takes a turn saying something that fits. So you could begin by telling God, "You are loving", and then the next person would say another adoration. And then go on to confess something such as, "Forgive me for my bad attitude, help me to speak with kind words" and on it goes. This makes it easier for the child and everyone participates to their ability.

I could go on and on about all of the fun ideas to implement into your Circle Time but if you are like me and like to follow someone's lead then this is a great book for you. Admittedly, implementing a time to gather is difficult in the non-scheduled busy summer. And so we didn't get to do as much with this as I would have liked. But I definitely look forward to using this when we begin school again.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blog Break

In case you have missed me.... I am still around. Lots going on trying to pack everything into our short summer. I know my Mom is waiting for me to finish up my posts on our trip from May. Need to do an update on baby's growth and the GENDER! :) Hopefully I can get to that soon.

Right now, the post I just did is a review for the Schoolhouse Crew. I am no longer going to be reviewing products as it is too much for me at this time of my life but you will see a couple more reviews in the next week or two to finish up my time with them. It was a good opportunity and if only I had more time. But there are many more important and good things in my life that need to come first. Something always has to give, which is also what has happened to my blog as of late.

Hang in there. I'll be back from time to time. You could always go back and read my posts from the archives which is before blogland was overloaded and when I seemed to actually have time to write quality pieces. :)

TOS Crew - Homeschool Programming Review

I am sure the same is true for most of you but computers were a new thing when I was in school. I remember the first learning game I played in 5th grade about the Oregon Trail. Then by middle school and high school it was mainly typing classes. When I went to college I took more computer classes and found out that might be something I was good at so then went to tech school specializing in computers. I laugh at that now because while I enjoy playing around I do not like the technical aspect of how they work. But that is a great skill to learn with the technology age we now live in. And that is something I wanted to see if my kids might excel in. I saw Homeschool Programming Inc. and thought this was a perfect opportunity for them to learn more about how computers work.

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Homeschool Programming Inc. offers computer programming courses for kids and teens. They were written by homeschooling parents that work in the fields of Computer Science and Engineering. The courses are hands-on and written for the student in an engaging way. And as the parent you do not need to know computer programming to assist your child. 

I was able to have George work on the KidCoder Visual Basic Programming which is for 6th - 8th grade. This comes with a bound textbook and course CD.

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We used the textbook from an adobe file (although it would be easier using the printed book) but it was easy to follow with pictures showing what your screen should look like. George was excited to get started with this at first. He enjoys working on computers but reading through instructions and things like this are not his strong point. I found that I needed to be on hand quite often to make sure he was following the instructions which were quite detailed as the programming didn't always work out as it should. But as a parent if you read through you can easily find the solution. And there are also online helps for you as well.

There are two semesters in this course (that are purchased separately) and the first is learning the basic programming skills. The second semester begins with what George really wanted to get into which is programming your own game.

As with all curriculum I found this program may not be for all children and am thankful that I have some up and coming that it will interest more. If you think your child might have an interest in the computer science field have them watch sample lessons to see what it is all about. I admit I didn't do that and just told George this was something he might enjoy. Not the best idea. But if you have a hands-on-learner who always wants to know how things work and are more self-motivated then this course might be the perfect fit.

Homeschool Programming Inc. offers other programming courses for kids as well as teens. I personally thought the web design course sounded fun. If your child is an audio visual learner there are instructional videos available as well.

You can purchase KidCoder: Windows Programming as well as KidCoder: Game Programming for $70 each for the course alone.  Or you can buy them together in a Year Pack for $120.

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