Archive

Archive for February, 2011

Looking for music instruction in or around Oak Park?

February 28th, 2011

Jeffrey Cappelli of the Cappelli Institute for Music contacted me about getting the word out about his school in the central Oak Park area. He founded this  institution in 1980 and holds many degrees and honors within the music community. They offer lessons on a variety of instruments as well as voice.

They are excited about making their services available within the homeschool community, so please feel free to contact them about various daytime opportunities for lessons and music instruction. Jeffrey Cappelli also offers piano tuning and repair throughout the Chicagoland area.

Contact information for the Cappelli Institute of Music:

Address:  1053 Lake Street, 2nd Floor • Oak Park, IL 60301

Phone: 708-445-8460

Fax: 708-445-8488

Email: info@cappellimusic.com

Website: http://www.cappellimusic.com/

Contact information for Chicago Piano Service:

Phone: 1-866-SERVE-88 (1-866-737-8388) or 708-771-8388

Email: info@chicagopianoservice.com

TOS Crew Review — I See Sam

February 27th, 2011

My early readers are always hungry for books at their level. Books that they can enjoy and not stumble through. Books a fitting length so they don’t get bored half way through. Books made for their little hands and big imaginations.

We had the wonderful opportunity to review a set of books made just for kids getting started on the reading trail and my kids devoured them.

Brooke and Nathan are in first grade and kindergarten and both are enjoying learning to read. Their progress has continued to soar this school year and I was excited to bring them some more books appropriate for their levels. In the few months we have had this, they actually both read through the entire four levels that we received, some with me and some independently. They both agreed that these were fun books to read.

Deluxe Read to Succeed Gift Set

Product:I See Sam by Academic Success for All Learners

Details: We received the little reader books for sets 1-4 (91 books total), flashcards to go along with the sets, a placement and assessment manual, an instructor guide, and some charts and certificates for tracking and rewarding progress.

Price: $160 for the four sets of books. They also sell for $30 each set. The flashcards are $15 for the set.

What we loved . . .

  • Starts from the beginning. The first book of the first level starts with introducing four sounds and creating a story from there. After 26 little readers the child should have reached roughly the beginning of a first grade reading level. This is definitely designed to use with kids first starting to learn to read. As my kids have mastered this early level, we flew through the first set.
  • Clear teacher guidance without being scripted. With an instructors’ guide book and lots of tips throughout the readers, parents can easily teach these books without a lot of prep work and without the dryness of a scripted reading program.
  • Praise based. Throughout the program there are adorable little smiley faces to remind you to praise your child. I know, we all want to praise them and brag on them, but sometimes we are rushing through a lesson or trying to get things done and we forget. I love that these little reminders were there to keep me showering my kids with the praise they deserved for the excellent job they did as we read through the books.
  • Steady progression. The books and stories within each book have a logical progression of sounds, and students easily flow from one to the other as their knowledge of reading grows with each turn of the page. Set one has one story per book with 20-100 words. In sets two and three the stories get a bit longer until in set four the students have two stories in each book and they are 200-400 words. But, by that point the kids are ready for it and reading roughly 60 words per minute. This is where the fluency criteria first appears. In the first sets they do not require speed, just mastery of the words.
  • Reasonable expectations of mastery. For a child to progress they must have mastery. The program gives clear criteria for mastery of each level and help you know when a child is really ready for the next step. They give accuracy and fluency standards. This was great because even though my kindergartner could read without errors, he was a little slower than their standard at one point. So, we took a little break, and reread a few books while his fluency caught up with his phonemic awareness.  Before long he was back on track, and as I mentioned he did finish all the books through level four landing him at roughly a late first or early second grade reading level.

Some considerations . . .

  • Lots of pieces. Of course, since the books are so appropriately sized, there are lots of them. This program does have a lot of pieces to keep together. I would definitely recommend a basket or bin to keep the items together. This is the kind of product I love to use, but will not be able to find all the books a year from now unless they have a handy home.
  • Might need supplementation for the kinesthetic learner. Both my early readers are pretty easy to teach, but I have had others that were not that way. If you have a child that needs to wiggle more you might need to add some activities that keep them up and moving now and then to focus when they need to.

As my kids are both enjoying reading it did not require any leg pulling to get them to pick these books up and read. This program is well thought out and formulated for reading success. With pre-reading, post-reading, and periodic assessments, I see this being a great fit for most kids learning to read. It teaches various reading tips in a natural way within the context of stories, not meaningless exercises. Keeping kids reading, it definitely did that in our house.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Academic Success for All Learners as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Book It registration coming in May

February 23rd, 2011
This is a little different from past years. Nothing to worry about now, but May will start the sign up process for another year. Are you remembering to reward your child for their reading with this year’s certificates? They deserve it (and you could use the night off from cooking, right?) It’s a win-win!
The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! National Reading Incentive Program
February, 2011
Dear BOOK IT!® homeschool participant,
To better serve our homeschool participants and be environmentally friendly, we are changing the opening date for enrollment to May 2, 2011.  Many of our homeschool participants move over the summer months and since the free BOOK IT! materials will not forward to new addresses, they end up discarded.  If a move is in your future, please only enroll when the address you will be located at on September 1, 2011 is available.  Orders will be accepted through September.
Please mark your calendars and visit www.bookitprogram.com to enroll in May.  We look forward to your participation in BOOK IT!

Sincerely,

The BOOK IT! Team

Author: admin Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

World Math day coming soon

February 23rd, 2011

Children from across the globe will be uniting in their quest to set a world record in answering mental arithmetic questions. We’d like to invite your child to be a part of this great education event involving more than two million students from hundreds of countries.  There is an exciting new format for 2011 with all new levels!  Your child can start practicing now by signing into www.worldmathday.com with their Mathletics username and password!
Why should your child take part?
• World Math Day is the education event for the world!
• They will love it! Be part of setting a world record!
• It will create an amazing buzz around math.
• Designed for all ages and ability levels.
• Simple to register and participate.
• Great prizes. And it’s absolutely free!!
How will it work?
• If your child is already subscribed to Mathletics, they can use their existing username and password.
• They will take part in real-time mental arithmetic challenges and play live with other students around the globe.
• In 2010 more than two million students from 235 countries combined to correctly answer 479,732,613 questions. Can we break the record this year?
• All you need is internet access.
This year for the first time, through an international partnership with UNICEF, the competition will be used to raise money for UNICEF education programmes in Mozambique and Vietnam.
Students can seek donations from friends and family for their participation in World Math Day.  Donations will be pledged and tallied on the World Math Day website.  In 2011 we aim to unite the world in numbers and giving to help provide children all over the world with the education they deserve.
For more information, visit www.worldmathday.com
Don’t forget to tell your child’s school about World Math Day too! Don’t delay – school registrations close February 28.

Click here to download the World Math Day FAQs.

Engineer’s Week Expo

February 22nd, 2011

Engineering: The Gateway to Tomorrow’s Technology

You are invited to The Twenty Seventh Annual DuPage Engineers Week Expo:

Date: February 26, 2011
Time: 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM
What to find there:

  • ZOOM into Engineering and Design Squad
  • DuPage Children’s Museum
  • LEGO® Robotics — Chicago Robotics
  • Mr. Freeze Cryogenics
  • 4,500 Years of Structures
  • Working Bikes — Robot Design Engineering

Where: The School of Applied Technology
Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Campus
Illinois Institute of Technology
201 East Loop Drive
Wheaton, IL. 60189

Visit their Website – http://dupageeweek.iit.edu There you will find all the details as far as schedules, display descriptions, and even a floor plan of the building with what will be set up where. Some of the displays I am familiar with from other events and I know my kids would really enjoy this. It is free and geared toward kids K-8. Definitely looks like fun for everyone.

Book sale season coming

February 22nd, 2011

Still a couple months away, but if you are anything like me you are already thinking about next school year and at least compiling a mental list of what to keep, what to sell, and what to begin shopping for.

This sale is huge, and has lots of sellers and shoppers. You will find lots of homeschool curriculum at great prices. It definitely pays to get there early if you can because the best deals disappear quickly. Make your lists, check ‘em twice, and wear some comfortable walking shoes.

The basic info for their 23rd annual sale –
Sat., May 7th
8:30 – 11:30
Christian Liberty Academy
502 W Euclid Ave.
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
(847) 259-4444

You can bring your stuff to sell also. Set up starts at
7:30. They have some tables (first come, first served), but you are welcome to bring your own
also.

A final word on SB 136

February 21st, 2011

SB 136 Follow-up (from ICHE):

Thank you again for your phone calls, e-mails, and presence at last week’s Homeschool Freedom Summit and SB 136 hearing.  Because of you, State Senator Maloney tabled SB 136 only two days after the “subject matter only” hearing.  The organizations we worked closely with to achieve this victory were Illinois Family Institute and the Home School Legal Defense Association.

In the process, Senator Maloney learned a great deal about the Illinois homeschool community that he had not previously known.  On February 17th, the day the bill was tabled, Senator Maloney released this statement:

Earlier today I tabled SB 136, which removes the bill from future consideration.  However, I would like to continue discussions with stakeholders as I further my efforts to ensure that certain parents do not simply use home schooling as an excuse for truancy.  I think that this week’s subject matter only hearing regarding the registration of home schooled students was a teachable moment for everyone involved.  It is my belief that every person who showed up at Tuesday’s hearing had a unique perspective to offer, from committee members and educators to parents and children.  We all place a huge stake in education and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear their voices.  The parents who attended the hearing obviously care deeply about their children’s education, and have made a large commitment to ensuring the success of their children’s future.  I look forward to working with everyone involved in the future.

Senator Maloney has now invited Illinois Christian Home Educators (ICHE), Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) to meet with him and the State Board of Education to further discuss truancy issues.  All of these groups are strong Christian organizations with proven track records.  We have all been serving homeschool families for many years in the State of Illinois.  You can rest assured that Senator Maloney will not be allowed to undermine homeschooling freedoms in Illinois without hearing our resolute objections.

There are some who are claiming that the battle is not over even after SB 136’s defeat.  There are those who want to capitalize politically on this controversy.  This is fine.  Lawmakers should be held accountable for their political decisions.  There is a time and place for that work to be done.

However, Senator Maloney has not introduced a new piece of legislation and is honestly seeking our input, advice and counsel.  It is our feeling that continued campaigns against Senator Maloney are unwarranted.

Please prayerfully join us in the hope that through his experience of working with Christian homeschool leaders, Senator Maloney will become one of home educators’ best allies and advocates.

Please continue to pray for the leaders of ICHE, HSLDA, and IFI as we remain vigilant for any developments that might require us to again alert Illinois homeschoolers of legislative threats.

Thank you again!

Blessings,

ICHE Board

Author: admin Categories: politics Tags:

TOS Crew Review — Kid Scoop

February 18th, 2011

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We have read to our children since before they were born. We have books in pretty much every room of the house, with the exception of the laundry room (although with as much time as I spend in there, maybe I should change that). I love to read for fun and learning. So, it would follow naturally that my kids would all be voracious readers and share my love for books. Right?

Well, not so.

One of my kids just recently latched on to the Narnia series and has not stopped reading since. Aside from that, my first grader and kindergartner put the older kids to shame. The young ones do love to read. They are what I thought was supposed to happen in terms of reading success. When a product came along pledging to transform my reluctant readers I figured it was definitely worth a look.
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Product:Kid Scoop

Details: A downloadable product with 365 pages. Each page contains activities and ideas for encouraging reluctant readers.

Price: $97 for the downnloadable product and 12 month access to their online newspaper that comes with even more ideas and activities each month.

What we loved . . .

  • Diversity of materials, activities, and topics. There is no true one size fits all product when it comes to reading, so they packed an incredibly diverse group of topics into this product. Everything from animals and the environment to baseball and optical illusions, bugs and budgeting to mini golf and just about every holiday on the calendar.
  • Shows us that reading is everywhere. Building off of the daily newspaper, Kid Scoop has created loads of activities to get kids reading, skimming, searching, researching, and in general digging in to reading material. I think the hook for us was that this wasn’t just reading to enjoy a story (which for some reason my oldest does not enjoy), it was reading for fun, for a game, for some friendly competition.
  • Free daily emails for a month. Anyone can sign up for their activity of the day email on their website and receive an activity email. We had lots of fun with these daily tasks. They will also give you a sample of some of the simpler ideas you will find in the Reluctant Reader Solution.
  • Free online sample. On the page with their activity packs you will find a free sample that you can download. You will probably have some fun with this, so be prepared to set aside some time to get distracted with learning.
  • Use it again, and again, and again. Since this is a download, after you get it, it’s yours. Print and reprint as much as you want. Print a copy for each of your kids. Print more copies of pages they want to do again. Print a page for you and your child and race to see who finishes first. When you aren’t just restricted to one copy of each page, the possibilities expand.
  • Time tested. Kid Scoop has been around for a number of years. Sections of it appear in newspapers world wide. Kids love it, parents love it, educators love it. It has been well received in a variety of homes and cultures.
  • Gets kids into the newspaper. Because many of the activities build off of the real newspaper, kids get into reading it. Some of my kids already have an interest in the paper, but this was a fun way to get them searching through it even more. I want them to be comfortable with this print medium that has been around for a long time and doesn’t look to be going away soon. One of the goals of Kid Scoop is that kids will get to know their daily paper, the terms used and the parts of it. They definitely work to intentionally reach that goal.

Some considerations . . .

  • I actually felt like it was light on the reading. While their focus is the reluctant reader so it makes sense that they keep reading unintimidating, I felt like kids could get through many of the activities without really reading much. Some of my kids are experts in figuring out how to complete a task without actually doing any reading. I had to keep on top of that.
  • Helpful if you subscribe to a print newspaper, but not essential. Many of the activities can best work with a printed newspaper in hand. They also include a wide variety of activities to use the newspaper before recycling it, so it will be put to good use. For many of these activities you could merely read a paper online, but a print one would be easier in some cases.
  • Some will flop. While the diversity of materials is quite a plus, some of it will not appeal to some kids. They will more than likely all find something they enjoy, but they will also more than likely find something you have to drag them through, which kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Secular. Just be aware that their holiday sections focus on the holidays, not any spiritual meaning behind them. So, Easter is all about bunnies and eggs. This is another reason that I would be more likely to pick and choose and buy activity packs rather than purchasing the whole set.
  • A bit pricey. Yeah, I could buy a lot of workbooks for $100. And, since there were topics in here that I know we would not likely use, I might be more inclined to buy their separate little ebooks or activity packs that they offer on their site for just a few bucks each.

This product did definitely fill a lull in our days and prompt reading where none existed before. When I needed a little something fun that would not require an hour of planning on my part, we could pull out a little unit and find multiple activities with something that appealed to almost everyone. In the process we learned. Not just playing around and having fun together, although that was part of it, but really learning something new. Learning how our eyes work, new vocabulary words, craft ideas, trivia and history, and other facts and data to keep stimulating my kids minds. And, whether they noticed or not, a lot of reading got snuck in in the process.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Kid Scoop as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Exciting week

February 17th, 2011

As many of you know this has been a busy week politically for homeschoolers in Illinois. I have been posting much more on Facebook this week on the fan page, so if you are on Facebook and not already a fan, please jump on over to our page and become one. There is some discussion that takes place and at times I will post little tidbits there that don’t deserve a whole post here.

To sum things up . . . Senator Maloney tried to propose legislation that would require homeschoolers in the state of Illinois to register. Initially the bill mentioned all non-public school students, but then he decided, “Why beat around the bush?” He really just wanted to target homeschoolers, so he said he wanted to change the wording to make that clear. We are his target.

Obviously, this all stinks of attacking our precious freedom to love our children the best way possible, and homeschoolers would not take that sitting down, well, at least not without a telephone or computer handy. Calls, emails, letters, and visits poured into congressman across our state. I doubt any of them knew just how many homeschoolers and homeschool-sympathetic voters were in their districts before this bill crossed their desks.

Tuesday a crowd some 4000 strong descended on Springfield. Braving the cold, packing the rooms, making their presence respectfully known, and singing the songs that remind us of the great country we live in. The hearing showed the frivolity of such a bill, but also showed homeschoolers that we must remain ever vigilant. It was clear from some of the testimony that there are those in this state that are seeking more than just registration of homeschoolers.

More calls, more emails, more blogs, but hardly any news coverage . . . The good news came through mid-day today that the bill was tabled.

Is that the end of the story? Not really.

Here’s what he has to say today on a pod cast that a reader posted on our facebook page.

Be sure to keep an eye on this issue. And, if you reside in his district maybe you will consider to running for office. ;)

Great Backyard Bird Count — coming to a backyard near you!

February 15th, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count

This weekend birders of all shapes and sizes will head to their back windows, or maybe even outside into their backyards and count birds.

I had heard of this event in the past, but did not have any interested kids. Well, today in our science we read about it once again. The book said it took place sometime in February, so I jumped online to see when. And, it is this coming weekend! February 18-21, 2011, you are encouraged to spend 15 minutes at least one day counting birds in your yard or other outdoor area.

There are a few organized events in Illinois:

Illinois

GBBC event
February 19, 9:00-Noon
Peck Farm Park Interpretive Center
4038 Kaneville Road, Geneva, IL
Contact: Tina Rossi, (630) 262-8244, trossi@genevaparks.com

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GBBC participation
February 19, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
Citizens Park, Jewel Pavilion, 511 Lake Zurich Road, Barrington, IL
For ages 4 and up, Cost: $5 per child, families with multiple children pay $1 for each additional child. Registration is required.
Contact:Citizens for Conservation, (847) 382-SAVE (7283), cfc@CitizensforConservation.org

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GBBC activities
February Noon-2:00 PM
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
Join our celebration of the 2011 Great Backyard Bird Count! Learn bird watching skills and discover how your family can participate in this year’s bird count. Compete in the Bird Olympics to test your athletic abilities against those of local bird species. Fun for all ages!
Contact: (773) 755-5126, www.naturemuseum.org

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GBBC participation
February 19, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Anita Purves Nature Center, 1505 N Broadway, Urbana, IL
Join Champaign County Audubon Society members and Anita Purves Nature Center staff as we make an important contribution to conservation by counting birds for the GBBC. Help identify and count the birds at feeding stations and along trails in Busey Woods. Dress for the weather and bring binoculars if you have them. Free! All ages (under 15 with adult)
Contact: (217) 384-4062

If you would rather spend time on your own in your own space there are lots of resources at the Great Backyard Bird Count website:

- Ideas just for us educators including bird feeder construction, backyard activities, and ideas for getting kids involved.

- Links to more sites with information about bird identification.

- A page to input your zipcode and come up with a list of birds you might expect to see. This is a great tool to look at ahead of time to be prepared for quick identification during the count.

We also enjoy the site “What Bird?” for bird identifications. It helped us identify a flock of Sandhill Cranes that passed over our house last year. You need to be observant, and the longer you do it, the more you know what to look for. I still have a lot to learn to advance beyond a casual birder, but it is a fun activity, and something all ages can enjoy together.

When it’s all over, don’t forget to jump online and submit your count to the official database.

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