August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting (TOS Review)

Today I officially set sail with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew!

Our first review is the

I had the privilege to receive e-books for 3 different stages of printing (for K-2).

I also was part of a live webinar with Rand Nelson who took the time to explain their objectives with this curriculum and also gave us ideas to implement it with in our homes. This session was helpful and it was evident that this company truly takes the time to make sure the parents and teachers understand and the children can succeed in their handwriting.

What makes this product different from other handwriting programs?

Peterson places a big emphasis on developing fluency and smooth writing by using rhythmic motion and visual feedback. I'll admit that when I first heard these terms they made no sense to me. But after listening to Rand explain it and trying it with Noah (our 5 year old) at home I was very impressed with this technique!

We are using Print-Step 1 "We Write to Read" for Kindergarten. The individual license for this e-book is $19.95

The child learns action words for each letter stroke and by learning these actions, he is not just "seeing" the lines and dots on a paper but understands direction, shape, size, etc.

The program is very multi sensory. It includes the action words for each letter stroke that the child will chant or say out loud every time, using rhythm. This will help improve his writing fluency. The strokes are indicated in different colors on the paper.

The four basic steps for each stroke are:

*Describing the letters

*Air writing the letters with correct pencil grip

*Finger tracing the letters (no pencil tracing on this program)

*Write and say (the child always chants the action words when writing)

Here is one page Noah did of letter "N" during our first time to try write and say practice. I asked him to write on the first line the way he had previously learned it, then on the second line to use the Peterson way. I'm not trying to confuse him but just wanted to show you all the difference.

Not bad for a leftie, right? :) He already knew how to write the letter but definitely the bottom line is so clear and more consistent. (Not sure why the third letter is always the worst).

Chanting the actions helps to create a mental pattern that becomes automatic and that will help him write faster and better.

Mastering paper position and good pencil grip is also emphasized on this program.

So what do I think about it?

Overall, we are enjoying this program and will continue to use it to master the strokes for each letter and number.

I like the PDF format allows me to print repeated pages as needed. Something you don't get with other programs.

I think this program does require more parent/child instructional time than others but to me is not a negative if it's going to help him write well.

If you have a child that struggles with handwriting, you should consider this program. It might take some time for him and you to get used to these concepts but I think it will be a good investment considering the price is very reasonable.

Where do I purchase or get more information about Peterson Directed Handwriting?

To learn more about the methodology behind this program go here. There are many great documents on this page.

To preview this curriculum go here.

For ordering go here.

To read what other TOS Crew Members are saying about it go here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this curriculum to try at home and give an honest review here. I received no other compensation for it.

August 29, 2010

Sarah's Tot School-19 months

Last week I didn't get around blogging about Sarah's Tot School but here we are for this week!
Check out more great Tot School posts by visiting 1+1+1=1.

This past week, Sarah played once again transferring animal counters, but this time I gave her little cups to fill in. She enjoyed this activity but it ended up being very messy afterwards so I don't we will be using those little cups for a some time. :)
We tried 2 new ideas that I borrowed from the Tot School archives. One was making noise makers with plastic bottles. I made one with assorted beans and the other with rice colored with red food coloring.
I turned on the music and let her dance and shake to the beat. :)

The other idea we got from the Tot School archive was dropping Q-tips into the parmesan container through the holes. This one kept her busy for over 30 minutes and yes, afterwards she had fun dumping them all over the floor but she was ready to help me clean up too.

I also let her try a little bit of play-doh after Noah was done using it. I set it up on a play table but she kept pointing to the floor so I let her try it. She was mostly curious about "feeling" the play-doh.
So there you have it. Another great week. I can't wait to see what we will try next.

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Blog Walk #9

Ready for another walk?
Enjoy getting to know these 10 TOS Review Crew First Mates...

August 26, 2010

Day At The Beach

Last weekend Brad and I planned a day at the beach for the kids. This was Sarah's first time at the beach and the first time at Galveston for the rest of us.

The weather was great and we had so much fun. The beach was dirty compared to the beautiful beaches I grew up going to in Puerto Rico but that didn't stop any of us from having a great time.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the day.

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Happy Blog Anniversay #3!

What a busy and fun week we are having. Officially starting and new school year and another new ministry year at church and a last minute beach outing means no time for blogging. :)
My little blog is 3 years old this week and so much has happened during that time so....

Happy Blog Anniversary to ME! (hehe).

When I first started this blog only my mom, my sister and Brad used to read it....and also a few wonderful FIAR moms. :)

It's been fun to journal here about our family adventures through good and bad days and to meet so many great families and be inspired by them too.
So THANK YOU for taking the time to stop by and leave encouraging comments from time to time.

August 20, 2010

And the Winner is....

I used and the winner of the Roller Coaster Unit is......
Thank you, ladies for entering. Another giveaway coming soon!

August 19, 2010

Roller Coaster Giveaway!

Last chance to enter the Roller Coaster Unit giveaway!!!!
I will pick and announce a winner tomorrow morning.
See the previous post.

August 16, 2010

Download N Go- Roller Coaster (Review and giveaway!!!)

I'm so excited to share with you this review for the Download N Go's Roller Coaster unit study!

And one of you has a change to win a FREE copy too!!!

Disclaimer: I received a free unit from Download N Go for the purpose of trying and reviewing and no other compensation was given to me.

This is our second DNG (Download N Go) unit that we've tried at home. You can read our review for Expedition Australia here. Once again, I LOVE this resource!!!

The user friendly, hassle-free and beautifully laid out format of these unit just makes our homeschool days so much easy and fun, both for me and the kids.
Caleb working on a roller coaster puzzle.
My boys enjoyed every moment we spent on Roller Coaster. The unit comes with everything you need for five days of study, including printouts, links, worksheets, lapbook components, EXCELLENT book lists, science experiments ideas, family fun ideas and much, much more.

The five days main topics are:
#1 What is a Roller Coaster?
#2 The History of Roller Coasters
#3 People and Places of Roller Coasters
#4 Science and Secrets of Roller Coasters
#5 Goodies and Gadgets of Roller Coasters

My boys enjoyed learning about Isaac Newton and the laws of motion and learning some neat coaster facts from all over the world. The video clips links included were a big hit for them as well.

Noah showing one of the many pages he enjoyed coloring.

Roller Coasters was a great starting topic for so many things I would have never thought of! We covered geography, history, physics, technology. art, creativity, amusement parks, spelling, vocabulary, science experiments and great literature in one week with this unit.
You also have a chance to make two different keepsakes of your learning. The first one is a notebook. The entire text of the pdf file can be printed and added to a notebook where the student will fill in blanks, answer questions, build graphs, draw pictures and more.
The second one is a lapbook that can be made to review the material learned that week. We chose to do the lapbook this time around. My camera is acting funny and the picture is not great but all the little booklets are very well done and colorful! Each boy made a lapbook. Inside of Caleb's lapbook
What excited me the most was to watch my boys talk to each other about inertia, friction and gravity while they were playing with their toy cars. Also, no matter what they were working on, they came right away each day when it was time for Roller Coasters.

Boys testing friction, gravity and inertia with hot wheel cars.

If you are looking to introduce your children to physics with a hands-on approach, this would be a great place to start!

So here's the info on how to get this great unit....

Roller Coasters

by Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse

5 day unit for K-4th grade

Price: $7.95 for e-book format (a good deal!)

To purchase the unit go here.

To take a sneak peek at Roller Coasters go here.

To read what others are saying about Roller Coasters go here.

To check out other great Download N Go titles go here.

Now for the giveaway...I have one copy of Roller Coaster to give away here on my blog for FREE!

Here's how it will work....

If you want to be eligible to win, you MUST :

#1 Leave a comment on this post with your name and email.

(for security purpose you can write your email like happygirl AT mybox DOT com or something like it as long as I can figure it out)

#2 Tell me about the very first time YOU rode a roller coaster or what is your current favorite coaster park/ride.

Each person will receive one entry.

If you would like extra entries you can tweet, facebook or blog about this giveaway. Then come back and let me know you did. I'll give you an extra entry for doing one of these.

I will choose a winner using on Friday! Spread the word and come back Friday to see if you won.

August 15, 2010

Tot School

Tot School It's time for more Tot School fun with my little princess!

This week Sarah got her first fun with stickers. I found these cute sparkly smiley stickers at Office Max. At first I showed her how to peel and paste them. She is still not quite ready to peel it off completely on her own but was very patient in trying and letting me help her as well.
This kept her busy for a while and she smiled and would point at the smileys afterwards.
Since the ice cream scooper was a big hit last week, I had her try scooping animal counting beads into a tin can. She LOVED the noise the beads made inside the can.
She also enjoyed dumping the beads back into the bowl too.

I love that we are using every day items as learning tools. I knew those Slim Fast cans were going to be good for something one day (since it didn't help my weight lost!).
Can't wait to try more new activities this week and blog about it. Till then, be sure to check more Tot School posts here.
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August 13, 2010

Peace #5 (word of the year)

Earlier this year I chose PEACE to be the one thing I will continue to pursue in my spiritual walk with Christ. I've been searching God and His Word concerning peace and already He is teaching me so much about it! Praise God!

You can read what He has been teaching me in this area here.

A believe with all of my heart that if we ask God, with sincerity and pure motives to reveal to us and give us understanding and wisdom from His Word, He is faithful and will do it (remember Solomon?).

I love reading scholarly books and commentaries, inspiring books and listening to expository preaching, apologetics and biographies of christian heroes. But I have to say that what the Lord shows me in my own time alone with Him always has a lasting transformation to my soul.

Those books are all great resources and many have impacted my life and convict me but they are no substitute for my own personal time of seeking God.

Well, I keep finding verses where peace and meekness share a strong connection. In this familiar passage in the book of James, peace is described as a fruit of the meekness of wisdom.

James 3: 13, 17-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom....the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I love this passage more and more. Often I wonder what exercising wisdom really looks like. I think this passage clearly shows one way that the wisdom from the Word can be manifested.

First, wisdom is displayed in our good works towards those around us (vs. 13). The wise person displays meekness in their actions. Verse 14-16 present a contrast by describing the wisdom of the world. It includes jealousy, selfish ambition, deceit, boasting, bitterness, unforgiving, etc. The fruit of this worldly wisdom is disorder and vile practices.

But the fruit of spiritual wisdom is amazing! Just read verses 17 & 18 again.

The world tells us to stand for our rights, to fight, to argue, to get ahead, to be competitive at all costs, to defend our place, etc. But this is not how we will harvest peace. There will be times, when we will laid down our rights for the sake of peace.

This has become my prayer: that I would sow peace as I extend to others meekness. And definitely, this begins at home. I think this passage is parallel to 1 Corinthians 13. When we live this way we are truly loving those around us.

August 08, 2010

TOT School

Tot School

This is my first official post for Sarah's TOT School!

Make sure to check other toddler fun here.

Sarah is now 18 months and I want to be more diligent about including her in our everyday learning and taking some time to teach her some simple skills, instead of always sending her away to her toys.

This week I pulled out our Leapfrog Alphabet Magnets and taught her how to inset and push the letters to make the sounds.
She enjoyed this very much and danced to the abc song for a very long time.

Later I laid these "tools" on our kitchen floor at just let her explore.

She right away started to transfer the pom-poms into the tall cups (courtesy of McDonald's!).

After about 15 minutes of playing this way I pulled out an ice cream scooper and showed her how to scoop the balls into the cups and after a few tries.... instant hit activity for her.

Of course, her big buddies couldn't help to join the fun. :)

I also pulled out her Lauri shape sorter. I noticed the she likes this activity but all the little pieces end up all round the floor so I gave her an empty container to put them back when she was done. This was a fun way to teach her to put things away when done but also it made the activity last longer.

August 03, 2010

Download N Go Sales!

If you haven't yet, check out all the great sales happening right now at Download N Go blog.

We just ordered the Chocolate Challenge and can't wait to do this unit with the boys!! I will also be reviewing Roller Coasters unit very soon!!!

Curriculum Choices for 2010-2011

Planning, planning, planning....

Yesterday the boys started a two week day camp and Sarah and I will get extra bonding time....yeah! But also, I will get to have more free time to plan our school year.

My #1 goal is to have a more consistent routine with the kids. I really struggled with this since Sarah started walking.

It's always exciting to start a new school year and try new things and continue doing your favorites...and saying goodbye to those things that didn't work so well but I kept on trying in the hopes of a change. :)

Here's what I have so far...

Caleb (entering 2nd grade)

Language Arts:

Language Lessons for the Very Young

Language Smarts B (for review and independent work)

Sequential Spelling 1

Handwriting Without Tears (review) and some Peterson Directed Handwriting for fluency


Singapore Math (US Ed) Still deciding what level we are starting but I'm very excited about this change from Horizons Math. Let's see how this works for us.

Math Games with Noah

Noah:(K/1st grade)

Language Arts:

Reading Made Easy
Letters and Numbers for Me (Handwriting Without Tears)


Finish Horizons K and move into Singapore?? (still not sure about this one)

Both Together:

Five in a row selections from volume 2 and 3
Read aloud, readers, art and science selections from Sonlight K (we did this program a few years ago with Caleb but Noah was only 3 at the time so we want to re-read some of our favorites from that year).
Units Studies from Download N Go
Scripture Memory from Psalms and Proverbs
Bible time with dad in Genesis and Luke
Mind Benders
Spanish (oral lessons with mom)
Piano 1 and learn to play harmonica
Soccer Season with local league
Science Lab classes at local museum

Sarah (19 months)

First year of Tot School! Will blog about our first adventures on Tot school soon.

August 02, 2010

Prayer Walk

Last Sunday at church our Pastor challenged us to go outside of our home with the family and do a prayer walk. We were pray for our home, our neighbors and also a nation of our choice.

We took the challenge and to our surprise when we walked outside our street was full of teenagers playing and talking. When we were done, we stopped by a group of them and they asked what we were doing. So we told them about our prayer walk and asked them how we can pray for them.
They eager to share with us some requests and it even gave us an opportunity to make ourselves available if they ever needed help with anything or needed someone to pray for/with them.

We went back to our home full of praises. God showed us that night that HE IS at work around us but He needs us to step out in faith and GO to people.

I'm thankful for this challenge our Pastor gave us and praying we will continue to grow in boldness to share our faith with those around us.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes". Romans 1:16