Sunday, April 28, 2013

The week behind and the week ahead

Well we had a really off school week.  Between Gess being sick and myself having a few issues, there really wasn't much schooling.  Gess had this really horrible stomach bug.  Here she was when it started.


She would be feeling horrible and then it would pass, or so we thought.  A day or so later it would come back again, only to find her doing well the next day.  We finally went to the doctor and apparently that's just been going around.

While Gess had a rotten Friday and Saturday, today she is outside enjoying this beautiful spring day.  It's the first day in awhile that has been both sunny and warm so I am glad she is feeling better.  In fact, as I began writing this blog she came in to ask for some help.  Can you see the problem?


You have to look above her head.


She had a hula hoop and a ball stuck in the tree.  Daddy came to the rescue and got them down! 

I am hoping this week will be better health wise because we have a special trip planned.  We will be heading off to college again to see her brother in another play.  He got the lead in The Glass Menagerie.  I think I told you that already but you know, I am a mom so I get a few extra bragging rights!  Of course I am sure I will share all about it when we get back!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Free Friday: Educational Kindle Ebooks

Here are some FREE Kindle books for your kids to enjoy and hopefully learn something too!

Incredible Baby Turtles: Fun Animal Book for Kids with Facts and Incredible Photos


Baby Animals - A Rhyming Picture Book


Science Candy (Candy School)


Division Math Skills Challenge (Math Challenge Series)


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

There are some things you just can't teach

My work in missions and the church has allowed me the opportunity to minister to various types of individuals and families.  I find that people who end up in poverty, at least here in America, often do so because of bad choices or decisions they have made.  These decisions are bad in the sense that they are not beneficial, not that they are actually evil.  Yes, there are those who end up in poverty because of alcoholism, drugs, and crime but often the decisions are just poor ones.

A family can end up homeless simply because they rented a house or apartment that is beyond their means.  They made the wrong choice in choosing a home.  It wasn't bad to want that nicer or larger home for their family but it was a bad choice because they couldn't afford it.  After months of getting behind on their bills they ultimately can end up evicted and on the street.  That certainly is bad.

There are tons of choices that families make each day that affect their life and I am finding an entire population of people who simply do not know how to make the right ones.  Helping these families finally overcome those obstacles takes a lot of time, patience, effort and leadership.  You have to come along side of them and help them see how each life choice really impacts their future. 

It was in trying to help one family that I realized that it would take that kind of work to help them learn.  Giving ladies classes on economics and housekeeping is not how we are supposed to teach women to be keepers of the home.  The fact that these women do not already know how to do it is proof of that because they all probably took home-ec in school.  Each one had to care for a pretend baby, make a household budget and learn how to cook and follow recipes.  That turned out to be totally insufficient because they still ended up pregnant before finishing high school, don't know how to cook and can't figure out how to pay their bills.

There really are some things you just can't teach, at least not in the traditional classroom style of teaching that we are accustomed to.  Being a homeschooler you would think that I am already past the idea that classrooms were imperative to teaching, especially basic life skills.  Whenever I hear of these girls struggling my first instinct is to start a class, a bible study or hold a seminar so we can "teach" them how to fix it.  Classes, however, are not the answer.

These poor girls were ill-served by public education and yet we keep looking to it and it's methods to fix the problem.  That is not going to happen.  The only way we can teach younger women to be keepers of the home is to come along side of them and actually help them to do it.  Be an example and be there for them.  Point out wrong decisions and encourage wise ones.  This will take time, lots and lots of time. 

For those young people who are in our own homes, our precious children, we need to make them aware of and involved in our housekeeping and budgeting efforts.  The earlier the better.  It's easy to do as a homeschooler but we sometimes get overwhelmed and fear that we aren't doing enough teaching.  This can keep us from taking time out of our day for the life lessons that are so essential, like how to take care of the baby brother, cook dinner or pay the bills.

In my house there are days we skip school to catch up on some much needed housework.  I have to remind myself that is a good thing!  Kids need to learn that no matter how much you want to do something, having a clean and healthy living environment is important too.  Sometimes the house needs more than a simple pick up or dusting.  Taking time to do those things IS teaching them.  It doesn't have to be a class or on a schedule to make it learning.  In fact, they probably learn more when it's not.  One the biggest hurdles in life will be learning to balance your finances, schedule and time.  It will help them define and determine what is important in their life.  We need to do what we can to help them prioritize those things now. They will not learn that by what we say in class but by what we actually do in our every day life.  They will do it by watching us and following our example.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Caring for God's Creation

I am not a fan of "Earth Day" as it seems to me to be a celebration of "Mother Nature" and the earth as if it exists apart from God.  While I do not consider myself an "environmentalist"  I have over the last few years began to be more conscientious about how I care for the environment.  No Christian should really be able to say that it doesn't matter.  While recycling may not be the end all answers to "saving the earth" it is a wise and caring thing to do.  Is it really fair to fill up our land fills with disposable junk simply because we are in too much of a hurry to use anything else?

WMU stands for Women's Missionary Union and I am the leader of one of these groups in my local church.  Their focus for the last 2 years has been Project HELP: Human Exploitation which covers everything from human trafficking to bullying and also covers the exploitation of natural resources for personal gain.  Yes, pollution, land destruction and deprivation for personal gain at the expense of others is tied into human exploitation.

That really convicted me. What am I doing to make sure that our natural resources are being protected?  I realized there were at least a few things I should be doing to show more respect and care for the earth that God has given us.

The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it (Genesis 2:15)

Is God then not upset when we do not "care for it and maintain it?"

Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must trample the rest of your pastures with your feet? When you drink clean water, must you muddy the rest of the water by trampling it with your feet? (Ezekiel 34:18)

So at our house we made some changes.  One change was we ditched the Styrofoam.  I will no longer buy or use Styrofoam plates and cups, even if they are cheaper. We do still use a lot of paper products but at least those will decompose.  Styrofoam will not.  It stays around forever and ever and ever!  I also stopped using plastic silverware and now just wash more dishes.  Yes, it's filling up my sink more often and using more water but it's not ending up in my landfill. 


The other thing we are doing is recycling more.  We started a few years ago by recycling our cans. We actually found that you could make a decent bit of extra cash doing it.  That has now become Gess' responsibility and a way for her to make some money.  We also have friends and neighbors that help us by donating their cans.  Each time we go Gess usually makes between $5.00-$10.00!  That's not bad for a kid!

Here is Gess visiting our local recycling center cashing in her cans.  (They also take tin.  It doesn't pay as much but it's a way to keep your canned goods from going to the dump and since you are cashing in cans anyway, it's no extra trouble!)

First we take the cans out of the trunk.


Then we dump them into these barrels which are marked with their own weight.


For this trip we had 3 barrels each filled about 3/4 full.


Then we take them inside and they weigh the barrels, subtract the original weight of the barrel and give you a ticket for the weight of the cans you turn in.  We then take that into the cash office and get paid.  Gess loves this part the best!  Here she is with her money!


It's a great way for kids to earn extra money and help encourage your friends and neighbors to recycle!

We also started recycling our plastics.  We don't have a place to do that locally where you get paid.  In fact the only place we have to do that is our local Wal-Mart.  You know Wal-Mart takes a lot of heat and sometimes gets a pretty bad rap but I am thankful for our local Wal-Mart and shop their often and I have to tip my hat off to them.  If not for them there would be no where to recycle plastics in this town!

I used to think that their recycling bin was just if you had a plastic bottle while you were in the store or something but my son, who used to work there, said no. You can bring your plastics from home and leave them there! I do that constantly now.  All the 2 liter pop bottles, water bottles, juice bottles, milk cartons, plastic packaging, wrappers and well, basically everything plastic that is washable goes in my bag.  When I have filled a garbage bag we take it and drop it off when we go shopping.


I even use the garbage bags that were made from recycled plastic.  I certainly take the phrase "reduce, reuse and recycle" to heart.  It's about reducing so there may be some plastics that still end up in the trash or if I go to a restaurant that gives me Styrofoam I don't refuse it.  But we are certainly doing our part to reduce our waste, reuse our own dishes and items when feasible and recycle when we can.  I praise the Lord for the world He has made so I want to do my part to make sure that it is cared for properly.

The Lord owns the earth and all it contains, the world and all who live in it.
 (Psalm 24:1)
Since it is His, let us give it the respect and care it deserves.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Free Friday: Marcy's Free Kindle Books for kids List

Last summer I got an Android tablet and I am loving it.  While I have a few games and things we play on it, I mostly use it as an Ebook reader.  Ever since I got my Kindle app I have been getting tons of free books.  One of the lovely ladies I know from the Schoolhouse Review Crew has compiled a great list of FREE Kindle books for kids.  There has to be at least 100 books listed and she has them organized into several categories.  These are available to anyone who has a Kindle or on any device that has a Kindle app.  If you are looking for some good books for your kids you will want to check out Marcy's blog, Ben and Me to find some great FREE Kindle books for kids!




Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sheep Shearing

We had the neatest experience a couple of weeks ago.  A local farm hosted an event and had the public in to view the shearing of their sheep.  I am always up for trying new things so Gess and I went.  It was really interesting.

First he had to grab the sheep, poor thing.


 Now that he has him held properly he is ready to shear.


He has special shoes, or should I say moccasins, to hold him in place.  See how the toe is bent up with those ridges?


 Then the cutting begins. 



And here you have a sheared sheep!


Look at how much wool came off! 



This will be sold and used in making clothing and other items.  The black is the cheapest color that sells. Gess really enjoyed watching, even when they fought pretty hard and scratched up the man quite a bit.  Gess watched for an entire 40 minutes before wanting to do anything else.  The kids romping on the bail of hay finally drew her away.

While we were there we also got to look around the farm at some other things and shop at the greenhouse and gift shop.  There were some lambs that were born just the day before. They were staying real close to their mother!



Gess enjoyed the cows too.  



It was a really fun day! Different, but fun!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts after Boston

Our country is facing yet another horrible tragedy.  Hearing that some of the victims are yet again children is so stunning.  I have few words to say.  Why are people angry enough and evil enough to kill innocent people?  As a Christian who believes firmly that every Word of the Bible is true, I know that evil exists in the world.  Some refuse to see that.  If the bombings turn out to be a domestic act, it will be blamed on mental illness.  If it is found to be a terrorist attack, it will be blamed on "religion" without regard to the fact that not all religions are the same.  The Truth Project is an excellent resource in preparing Christians to equip themselves for their walk.  Today they released a segment from that series that really speaks to what is at the root of the problem.  How did we get here?  How did we get to a place where people are murdering people?  Where violence is rampant?  Where death is happening all around us?  Where innocent children are dying on our streets and in our schools?   Ravi Zacharias answers that question in a way that I think nails it.  Click on the image to see the video segment.  It will be worth your time.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Progeny Press Dragon's Hoard Book & Study Guide

By now you all know what a great reader Gess is.  Even though she has Down syndrome and struggles in math, she greatly excels in reading.  While she is a great reader she still struggles with comprehension.  She understands the story well enough to enjoy it but she does not always get every detail like most people would.  When I had the opportunity to review the literature guides Progeny Press had to offer I thought it would be a perfect time to start training Gess how to look beyond the text of the page.

For the purpose of our review we were given The Hall of Doors: Dragon's Hoard Book and Study Guide.



The Hall of Doors: Dragon's Hoard is geared towards students in 2nd through 4th grade.  With Gess' special needs I am always concerned about how easy the actual book will be for her to physically read.  While she can read and understand the words, sometimes the font is too small and crammed together and requires her to use tools such as a magnifying glass.  That was not the case with this book.  The book is 64 pages with 7 chapters and the print was a decent size making it pleasant on the eyes. This certainly did not require any tools for Gess to read. 

The Dragon's Hoard was actually the first book in the Hall of Doors series. The adventure begins when two siblings, Beth and Kennan, find this mysterious door they never noticed before in a dark corner of their barn.  When thy enter it they find inside an entire hall of doors. Upon inspection they decide to enter one of them. They chose the gold door with a red dragon flying over a mountain on it. As then enter they end up in another world, one of which they have read about before.

The Hall of Doors: Dragon's Hoard actually takes them to a world very similar to J.R.R Tolkien's book The Hobbit.  I am sad now that I have never read that to Gess as she would have gotten a lot more out of it knowing the parallels, but she certainly still enjoyed it anyway.  I don't want to give the adventure away but I can tell you that it captured Gess right away.  When we received the book in the mail I gave it to Gess to read on her own.  She sat down and didn't stop until the very end!  That's right, she read the entire book in one sitting!  She was also glad to read it again when it was time for us to read it together.  I could certainly see why she enjoyed it so much.  It had the adventure and suspense that really captivates you.


Now that we had read the book a time or two, or even more, we began to work in the The Hall of Doors: Dragon's Hoard Study Guide.  This was one of the reasons I really wanted to review this product.  The Study Guide is an interactive PDF that allows you type your answers right on the page.  I loved that since Gess really struggles with writing but can type rather quickly.  She still struggles with answering in full sentences and I don't always push that so much as long as she is addressing the questions properly.


The Study Guide gives a synopsis, background information, ideas for activities before reading the book, chapter segments for answering questions and thinking about what you read, an overview, activities for after you read and other resources.  That's quite a lot!  Each chapter segment covers 1 to 2 chapters at a time and is divided into these parts: Vocabulary, Questions, Thinking About the Story, Dig Deeper and Optional Activities.

The Vocabulary is self explanatory.  We also used these for our weekly spelling words.

The Questions are pretty much what they seem. These are the comprehension questions.  Did you understand and remember what happened in the story?

Thinking About the Story is where Gess needs the most help.  That is where kids with her special needs struggle; trying to grasp more than what is written on the page.  The underlying themes do not jump out at her.  When asked "What do you think makes a true hero?"  she said Kennan because in her context the answer had to be about the story.  She thought that is what I wanted.  When asking her why he was a hero she said, "because he rescued."  She knows that a hero rescues but doesn't seem to grasp they do that because of the underlying qualities that heros have such as bravery, commitment, duty, passion, etc.  I knew she would struggle with these questions but that is what I love about this study guide.  I think it is a great tool to help her start to think more deeply about what she reads.

I really love the Dig Deeper questions.  This is where it makes the child think about what Scripture teaches about the topics her book addresses.  We all know to do this when we read Christian literature, but we need to remember to view all things through the lens of Scripture.  I love that it teaches children to do that.  Since it brings up heroes it has the children look up Scriptures that teach us about bravery and sacrifice and of course read about the greatest self-sacrifice of all time, Jesus' sacrifice for us.

On that note I have to say that I absolutely love that Progeny Press is dedicated to "teaching good cultural literature examined from a Christian perspective." I was drawn to this company because of that commitment.  It's not just about what we can read and learn from a story but it is about examining what the bible says about those things.  I think they do an excellent job at doing both and I was very pleased with them.  This was my first experience with their curriculum and I was impressed.  I will certainly be using more of these in the future.

There really was not anything I did not like about this product.  I even loved it so much I ran to see if they had any other books in the Hall of Doors series completed yet and I found out they do.  The only thing that stopped me from ordering it was the shipping price.  It really does cost a lot to ship one item but sometimes you save quite a bit if you increase your order size which I was willing to do.  However that kept increasing my shipping cost pretty significantly so that did not help. While I do feel these are worth the price of the products themselves the shipping price is going to keep me from being able to purchase as many products as I would like to and since the study guide isn't ready for the next book yet anyway, I have decided to wait.

The Hall of Doors: Dragon's Hoard Book sells for $6.99 and The Hall of Doors: Dragon's Hoard Study Guide is $15.99 for the CD or Instant Download and $16.99 for the printed booklet.  I received the download and recommend it as there is no shipping charge for it.  To learn more about this book or many of the other wonderful literature guides from Progeny Press visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.  You will find they reviewed several other selections for both middle school and high school as well.

Photobucket

 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Sacagawea Story From Knowledge Quest

Knowledge Quest is a company that focuses on teaching history in a way that really connects the student with the events of our past.  Last year I had the pleasure of reviewing their TimeMaps which was a really great tool for that purpose.  This year I reviewed one of their history resources that really helped Gess engage in and get inspired by the lesson.  It was an enchanting telling of the story of Sacagawea.  Because of her special needs, Gess has a really hard time relating to history from text books, documentaries and yes, sometimes even maps.  Thanks to Knowledge Quest we found out that stories can teach history too.

For the purpose of our review we were given a PDF copy of Knowledge Quest's latest completed saga Sacagawea (Brave Explorers Every Child Should Know).


Sacagawea (Brave Explorers Every Child Should Know) is an interactive historical novel about the life of Sacagawea and her involvement with the Lewis and Clark expedition.  This incredible story really captures the historic bravery and strength through which Sacagawea faced many hardships and trials.

The book begins one day while Sacagawea is waiting for Man-With-Red-Hair to come and take her boy Pompey to live with him. The Man-With-Red-Hair's English name is, of course, Captain William Clark.  Little Pompey, also known as Jean-Baptiste, begs Sacagawea to tell him the story of their journey with Man-With-Red-Hair, and so she does.

I personally love how the book addresses her gentle nature and character and yet how, as a slave, she still desired and longed to be equal.  It was also endearing to see the life of the Pretty People, which is what her people called our people, through her eyes. She was fascinated by the "scratches on paper" that Captain Clark always made and referred to books as "small boxes" that speak.  Sacagawea noticed that "good medicine" came from learning to listen to the small boxes and she really wanted that for her son.

The interactive part of the book was a wonderful addition and really helped turn a story into a lesson.  Each time there was a mention of a significant person, place, thing or event you would find it highlighted with a link.  Clicking on the link would take you to a website featuring more information about that particular item.  Sometimes it would simply be a photo such as this "house with no walls."


Or it might be to an official historical site with information about a person such as Man-With-Red-Hair himself.


There was also an entire PDF about the cottonwoods.


Some links had just a blurb or two of information while others had complete documents but they were all interesting and really assisted in learning more about the story.  I did not click on each and every item but we certainly clicked on quite a few.  I only found one with a link that was broken which was a copy of Clark's Map.  I really wanted to see that so I found it on my own.

Gess and I read the book together, each taking our turn to read, but since it was long there were times she just enjoyed listening.  Because Gess struggles with understanding things she has not experienced herself it is hard for her to fathom and grasp what things were like in the past.  Having the interactive resources within the text of the story was really beneficial for her.  It was nice to be able to answer her question "what does that mean?" with more than a simple answer.  Instead she was able to see a visual, interactive explanation which certainly kept her paying attention.  There were many times that she was eager to learn more about what we read, but sometimes it was my own personal curiosity that got us checking them out.

I felt the book was very accurate and was very respectful of both the person and character of Sacagawea. In a note to the reader the author says, "All the characters of this book and the circumstances of the Lewis and Clark expedition in this story are real and true. Because so little was written about Sacagawea in the Corps’ journals, I used literary license to create dialogue and emotions that I believed could have taken place."

Overall I was impressed with the book.  The story was deeply compelling, enjoyable and full of information.  Having a historical lesson written as a novel certainly made it more interesting for Gess.  Having the links allowing you to explore the information in more detail helped her better understand many of the references.  You do have to be careful because sometimes you can begin examining the links so frequently that you lose the flow and sense of the story being told, but all in all though the author did an amazing job.  It not only captured Gess' insterest, it captured mine as well.  I am looking forward to sharing more stories of brave explorers that every child should know with Gess.  I hope they come out with many others.  I saw one other at their website that I will probably be getting soon.

Sacagawea (Brave Explorers Every Child Should Know) sells for $4.97.  It would be good for kids in upper elementary school starting about age 10 to maybe early middle school but as I mentioned I think people of all ages will enjoy reading it.  You can read the 1st Chapter Sample for free or purchase the entire book by following the links on their website.  If you want to learn more visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

Photobucket

 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

Friday, April 12, 2013

FREE Do2Learn Safety Songs

I know I have mentioned parts of Do2Learn in other posts but I felt it would be good to have one just about them.   Do2Learn is a tremendous resource for kids with special needs and much of it is FREE.  I particularly love their safety songs.  These were a great tool in helping Gess learn how to walk safely down the street and stay in the yard among other things.

Gess is a bit older now and is getting more capable of exercising her freedom however she is still required to stay in the yard.  She came in the other day and was so proud when the ball went over the fence and she left the yard to get it all by herself.  We did tell her we were glad she did so safely and that she came right back, but that she should still ask permission first. So, to remind her we went back to these videos and reviewed the safety rules for staying in the yard

Staying in the yard is one of the safety videos you get at Do2Learn.  It's a catchy, though childish tune that has words and visuals to remind kids to stay in the yard.  Even now Gess enjoyed the song and sang along.  We also talked about how she could earn a safety star by obeying the rules, though now we would give her a gem reward instead.


The Street Safety songs are available to view FREE online and include the songs Stay in the Yard, Crossing at a Crosswalk, Crossing at a Traffic Light, Crossing at a Walk Signal, Crossing at the Driveway, and Walk on the Sidewalk.


They also have one for Mall Safety which I used to just help remind Gess to stay with me at any store or public place.


The Fire Safety Song is an important one for every kid.


They also have Bus Safety Songs for school kids.  These songs include Waiting for the Bus, Getting on the Bus, Riding on the Bus and Getting off the Bus.  I will go over these with Gess since she will be riding on the bus with her Special Olympics team soon.
 


There is also a body parts song and many, many other FREE resources for things such as communication, speech, social skills, behavioral management and so much more.  If you have a special needs child or a younger child who needs help with some of these skills you will want to check out Do2Learn

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Romeike Story Video

I wanted to share this video that explains more eloquently then I did yesterday the story of the Romeike's struggle and how you can help.  I beg you to watch and respond if you feel led.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Help Protect Homeschool Freedom

Have you heard about the plight of the Romeike family?  If not you need to.  The Romeike family were persecuted in Germany simply for homeschooling their children.  Yep, that is right.  Homeschooling is illegal in Germany.  The Romeike family had one option, public school or have their children taken away from them for wanting to provide their education themselves.  So they did what most any family would do, find a way to practice their freedom.  To do that they came to America. 

I was so excited when I heard that the Romeike family was granted asylum and allowed to stay and homeschool their family freely here in the USA.  But they received stunning news.  The Obama administration decided to OPPOSE their asylum ruling and now is threatening to overturn it because they claim that the right to homeschool is not basic right and therefore not worth granting asylum for! 

This is not only bad news for the Romeike family, it is bad news for ALL homeschoolers.  If the Obama administration wins this case it will be on record that homeschooling is not a fundamental right and could therefore begin to be regulated or even outlawed once again.  We have fought too hard for our rights to homeschool to let them be taken away from us now.

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is working hard on behalf of the Romeike family and they are asking your help as well.  Please sign the petition they have started.  They only need about 600 more signatures to reach their goal of 100,00 which will get them a reply from the White House.  You can do this by visiting the HSLDA website or clicking on the image below and then follow the links they provide.  Thanks for helping us protect Homeschool Freedom and the Romeike family!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Supercharged Science

We were super excited when we were chosen to review Supercharged Science!  You all know by now that my Gess is a little scientist.  She loves and adores anything scientific, especially if it involves hands on experiments and research.  With science being my least favorite subject, I love finding curriculum that does all the work for you. Supercharged Science offers both of those things.

For the purpose of my review I was given a year subscription to the entire e-Science Online Learning Program.


This K-12 learning program has over 20 units covering physical science, chemistry, life science and biology with tons of hands on experiments.  Each unit can be worked alone and comes with lesson plans, getting started notes, highlights, text readings, videos that teach the experiments or concepts and plenty of exercises for the child to answer at the end of each unit plus so much more.  Here is how it works.

Supercharged Science can be used two ways.  One is to use it as a supplement with your current science curriculum and they even provide a conversion chart to help assist you in finding which unit will go well with your current homeschool curriculum.  Supercharged Science also works well as an independent curriculum without needing a book. It has text reading available on the website, questions to answer to test their knowledge and of course the cool videos and experiments which are great for either method.

We tried it both ways.  I first used it as a supplement to what we were currently studying and found it really did correspond well to our current biology studies.  Gess really loved having more experiments to explore concepts she was already comfortable with. We had just finished learning about bones and muscles so we started by exploring their experiment videos in that unit.

Unlike many other science learning methods, the e-Science Online Learning Program is not simply about learning facts and then doing one or two experiments before moving on to learn more facts.  They want you to really dig in and explore each unit to it's fullest and to start, rather than end with, doing experiments.  By starting with the fun, hands on exploration of science the kids are then full of questions and have a greater desire to actually study the why of what just happened.  Of course by using this as a supplement, Gess had much of the why down in this unit, but she certainly did enjoy just diving in and getting right to the fun stuff.

After watching all the videos, which there were about 15 of them, Gess chose 4 or 5 experiments to try.  We started with the Robotic Hand which is a good demonstration of how the ligaments and tendons work in your hand.  The video really walks you through the step by step instructions about how to do make the Robotic Hand but also explains what you are learning as well.  


After watching the video we got our supplies together and followed the instructions and made our own hand.  This was actually trickier than it looked.  Our main problem was that our rubber bands were too small and they didn't want to stick with the glue gun.  I also had thinner and weaker string which kept popping out so I had to help Gess who has special needs and lacks some motor skills necessary for doing this alone.  It didn't matter though, she still enjoyed it. Here she is watching the video as we began.  You can see her crunching her hand as Aurora was explaining how the hand works.


Here she has her finished robotic hand.  When she pulled the strings she could make the fingers curl up!


I then decided to pause our study and try Supercharged Science as it's own curriculum and because of that experiment we figured we would start with robotics.  We actually haven't entered into the robotics part of the unit yet.  Their unit 10 covers electricity and robotics and we are still exploring the electrical side of things, but we will get to it soon enough.  In the mean time we are having lots of fun learning about electricity.

I did find that with Gess' special needs the reading material was a bit over her head and since electricity isn't something she has explored very much we did need additional resources to help her understand the concepts.  The videos, however, were much easier for her to follow and comprehend.

Before we could get started we needed to get some supplies.  One really handy thing each unit offers is a shopping list.  This is great for parents because you can make sure that before your kid gets excited about doing an experiment you will have the items already on hand for them to do it.  You will even find that you already have some of the items in your house or they will at least be easy to find.  A few of the units though, like the one of electricity, do call for some specialized parts.  However the brains behind Supercharged Science thought well enough to prepare you for that too and in this unit they even placed the Radio Shack product number next to each item that could be found there!  Really, you can not just pick up LED bulbs and potentiometers just any where so this was extremely helpful.  The associate at the Radio Shack we went to even commented about how handy it was to have the part numbers with us because they even had trouble finding some of the parts without it.  It certainly sped up our time at the store.  We were then ready to introduce Gess to electricty!

First we just showed her how a circuit worked by following the instructions in the video.  We got our battery pack connected to our alligator lead clips and then attached them to the LED bulb.  Here is Gess connecting it.


And then we had light!


From there we tried more than one LED and then added a switch so she could control when the light went on and off.


Again I do not think Gess grasped the concept behind what was happening but of course that is due more to her special needs and not so much the curriculum, but even if she didn't comprehend it all at least she had fun doing it!  She is now exploring it more though and just checked out some library books on the subject.

 There is so much more I can tell you about this program as it is very comprehensive but here is a short video to show you more of what it is like in action.


Supercharged Science has two level plans for it's e-Science Online Learning Program.

The K-12 program gives you access to all parts of the program which includes additional videos and experiments geared specifically for older students in 9-12 grade and costs $57.00 per month.

The K-8 program gives you access to all the content geared for students K-8 grade and costs $37.00 per month.

On a personal level I find it pretty much of out my price range to use on a regular basis for us, but larger families might find it quite the bargain and convenience to have one curriculum for the whole family.  While Gess enjoyed the videos and experiments the other material was not as special needs friendly as we require.  While I do think it would be a great companion with other curriculum the price then becomes an even greater issue because you have to pay for both.  While Gess and I liked the program, it just doesn't suit our very specific needs and budget.  I think families who do not have our needs to consider might find it more compatible.  To learn more visit the Supercharged Science website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

Photobucket

 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...