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Posts Tagged ‘kindergarten’

Fitness incentive program

January 17th, 2012

plunge

We all may be seeking fitness motivation that keeps our New Year’s goals rolling, and while this incentive is for the students, maybe it will help us keep our own plans in line.

Raging Waves Waterpark offers an incentive program that will really get kids moving.

From their site:

Welcome to the 2012 Plunge into Fitness Program

Children Kindergarten through 8th grade are invited to Plunge into Fitness this spring as Raging Waves Waterpark joins the battle against childhood obesity. The fitness initiative runs March 5 through April 30, and each child completing the program requirements during this seven-week period will receive a free Raging Waves full day admission pass.

The Plunge into fitness program requires a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day, which totals 25 hours for the seven week period. Any activity that increases heart rate qualifies including: walking, running, biking, playing team sports, skateboarding, swimming, jumping rope and hopscotch. For the duration of the program, each child will complete a fitness log provided by Raging Waves. Once complete, a parent will sign it and the child will turn it into his or her teacher by April 30th. All children kindergarten through 8th grade, including homeschoolers, are encouraged to join this program and earn a free Raging Waves full-day admission pass.

They even have posters to download and all the info right there on their site.  Sign in doesn’t actually start until April 30 when you may use your log in id and password they provide to upload all participating students at once. Everything must be received online only by May 15, 2012.

They say they also give you an opportunity to buy additional tickets for 25% off!

Check out all the details for their Plunge into Fitness program.

Let the party begin!

March 31st, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

If you aren’t stopping in from the blog party, just a word of explanation — every year the great ladies over at 5 minutes for Mom host a party just for bloggers and their groupies. We all get to stand up and tell a little about ourselves and invite everyone into our corner of the world for a little look-see. So, if you already know, and hopefully love, this site, you won’t find much new in this post, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep reading if you want to . . .


However, if you are stopping by from the Ultimate Blog Party, I want to extend a warm welcome to my little home on the web made especially for all those Chicagoland area homeschoolers. We are still working on thawing out, still scraping windows on our cars, still yearning for that first spring flower. But, we are also still doing school and loving it.


The Chicago area is packed with ideas and opportunities for homeschoolers. I have poured hours of free time over the last couple years into helping these events get a little more notice and become a little more findable to area homeschoolers. I do occasionally blog about my life as a homeschooler, various fun stuff I find on the web for homeschoolers, tips I have learned in the 9 years since we started kindergarten with our oldest, and practical balancing act advice. About half of the posts that I write are geared toward Chicago area residents since that is where I call home.


Little snippets about me in no particular order — Homeschooler, Christ follower, happily married, mom x6, page turner, nose wiper, baby snuggler, support group leader, and forever a learner.

Hope you can stay a while and find something worth your time. I’ve got reviews, favorite websites, and lots of tips on what to see and do in the Chicago area, especially from the educational angle.

TOS Crew Review — Song School Latin

March 30th, 2011

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How many languages can we learn at once? We are in the midst of testing the answer to that question. We of course speak English. We have spent time in recent weeks learning Spanish and Mandarin, and also Latin. So, I guess it is reasonable when I say, “Salve!” that my daughter responds, “Hola!” But, then she grins and says, “Salve, Magistra!” I guess we can learn four languages simultaneously.

I have a love for language for some reason. Whenever I traveled as a child I made a point of learning as much of the language around me as I could. So, I can say words and phrases in about 10 different languages. I can’t get enough of language, and I see the benefit as so many languages overlap here and there. The more we know of others, the more we understand our own as well.

No language is that more true of than Latin. As we delve into Latin words we see hints and clues to the language that even our 10 month old is learning to speak, English.

Latin used to be common place in schools in America. My parents both took Latin. Now, it has seen a resurgence with the classical school movement. Classical Academic Press has taken Latin and created an amazing curriculum that starts off with early elementary students and continues from there.

Here’s some reasons why you might want to bring Latin into your homeschool if you are not already:

I always knew Latin was beneficial to bring into my schedule, but never before found such a fun and easy format to do so. Song School Latin starts for the young learner, geared to kindergarten through 3rd grade. I used it with my five and seven year olds and they both picked it up easily and had incredible fun with it all. Begging to do foreign language? Seriously? Seriously.

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Product: Song School Latin

Details: Student book is a 130 page book with 31 chapters each containing 3-6 pages of activities and lessons. The teacher’s book contains the same pages with answers to all of the activities and a whole host of other activities in the back to supplement your Latin teaching time. These can be used for kids that need extra help, for general reinforcement, or just for some plain old fun.

Price: Student book and teacher book are $22.95 each or buy in a bundle with the flashcard game for $64.95

What we loved . . .

  • Fun from page one. As soon as the package arrived, my kids were drawn to the book and its contents. Great graphics, professional appearance, and appealing to kids.
  • Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. They see it in print, they hear it in song, they repeat it out loud, they answer questions about it, they connect it to their English knowledge, and they learn effortlessly. This program brings the same words before them time and again, but not in a boring redundant way. The kids enjoyed putting their knowledge to music and then repeating the new found phrases as we conversed.
  • Reasonable writing expectation. Kids do a lot of writing some days in all the different subjects that they cover. So, when it comes to foreign language I prefer to focus on the verbal and save their hands. This material does have them do some writing, but it is mostly in the form of tracing letters already on the page. Just another way to help cement these new words in their memory.
  • Ties in to English. There would be little reason to learn a “dead” language if we did not tie it into our lives. Each chapter includes a section that ties at least one of the vocabulary words into an English word that they already may have heard. This helps build and solidify their English vocabulary even during Latin lessons.
  • Entertaining songs. You’ve got to love the songs. Languages must be repeated often to really sink in. With the songs rolling around in your head, the words are naturally repeated and reviewed. At first I would sing the song now and then and my kids would have a quick review of our Latin lesson throughout the day. By the end of the week, I would catch them singing, “My pater is really my father, My mater is really my mom . . .” They had it. No written test required. 😉
  • Includes pronunciation guide. For you non-Latin speakers out there, you don’t need to be intimidated. There is a guide to the different pronunciations and you can easily pick this up with no prior Latin knowledge and teach and learn right along with your kids.

Some considerations . . .

  • You will probably want a workbook for each child. These are consumable books, so they will most likely each want their own. Just sticking to oral work would lose some of the benefits of the programs design.
  • Could use more built in review. They do offer lots of great review tools, each chapter reviews a few earlier words, and there are a few chapters that are strictly review of all previous material. However, I have found that my kids can never get enough review. We definitely re-sing the songs often and each week would review all of the previous vocabulary so nothing is lost as we continue to add on. Any new language needs continual review and exposure to help it sink solidly into long term memory.

Song School Latin brought a wonderful introduction to Latin for my younger kids. I wish I had this years ago for my older kids, but I will definitely be considering their other curriculums for them as well. They put together a great lesson plan and keep the kids from getting bored with a subject that has significant impact on other areas of learning as well.

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 Classic Academic Press 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.

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.