Memoria Press Review

Standard

Clarissa and I love books. There are three summer reading programs in our area that we are eligible for and we completed the reading requirements for the entire summer of reading in less than two weeks! So I was very excited when we were given the opportunity to review a literature program. We received The StoryTime Treasures Student Guide and Answer Key and the More StoryTime Treasures Student Guide and Answer Key which is the entire first grade literature curriculum from Memoria Press.

I will say that we did not use Memoria Press for kindergarten so Clarissa is at a different reading level than what is probably suggested. For the beginning of The StoryTime Treasures, which is the first grade curriculum, students should be able to read most of these literature books. We completed the first unit, which was four weeks of Little Bear. Clarissa was not ready to read this book on her own. So for our review, I read aloud the book to her and she completed the activities that went along with the story.

08021913332176725427349882980.jpg

Clarissa really enjoyed the story of Little Bear. She was frustrated that the curriculum wanted us to take so long to finish the book as she would rather read the book in one sitting, even if it is 63 pages. She didn’t like breaking it down into one chapter per week. So if your child would rather read the entire book in one sitting, this curriculum may be frustrating for your family.

I did like that there were several activities for each chapter of Little Bear. The activities were also similar from week to week so that Clarissa kind of knew what to expect before I explained what we would do that day. On the first day, there was come copy work. Even though Clarissa could not read most of the words on her own, I would read them to her, she would repeat them, and she would still write them down for handwriting practice. The second day had comprehension questions about the story. I would ask Clarissa the questions and transcribe her answers in the student guide.

Day three was a section called Let’s Talk, which had some great open ended discussion questions to help Clarissa relate the story passage to something in her life. For example, “Have you ever had a surprise party? Talk about a time someone surprised you.” I liked that it was something to make her think instead of just recall questions. Day four was Let’s Learn and had some kind of grammar lesson. During Little Bear, we learned about capitalization and punctuation marks. Day Five was Just for Fun so there was usually something to draw and write about.

I also appreciated that the student guide was spiral bound. It made it easier to flip pages and not have to tear pages out and lose them. The teacher edition was helpful because it had a picture of the student edition on the lesson page. There were also helpful hints, phonics ideas, and words to introduce to your child listed on the lesson pages. I did really like the activities that went along with the story so I think I will go back to this in the winter or spring when Clarissa is a more fluent reader. The list of books is great and filled with classics like Make Way for Ducklings, Frog and Toad are Friends, Stone Soup, Miss Rumphius, The Story about Ping, and Caps for Sale.

Several lessons reference Classical Phonics as well as Phonics Flashcards which are on the list for Memoria Press Kindergarten. So if I were actually going to purchase The StoryTime Treasures, I would purchase Classical Phonics and possibly the flashcards as well. I am interested to read the reviews about the other grade levels to see how they compare to first grade. Read the reviews of other crew members here.

First to Tenth Grade Literature Guides {Memoria Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Library and Educational Services Review

Standard

When I saw the write up for this vendor my eyes got really big. If chosen for this review, we would get to choose one Lifehouse Theater CD, one title from the Who Was… series, and $60 of whatever books from the Reinforced Hardcover Nonfiction Library Binding we wanted from the Library and Educational Services LLC website. This review really was a homeschool mom’s dream. It was hard to narrow down our favorite choices.

 

We listened to The Emperor’s New Clothes for our Lifehouse Theater CD and really enjoyed it.

I read this story as a kid, but Clarissa had never heard it. This version of the Emperor’s New Clothes definitely had more Christian values than I remember from the book that I read as a child, which I really appreciated.

Ned is raised by his Christian aunt and uncle who make him see the king and confess that he has stolen/eaten pomegranates from the king’s trees. As a punishment, Ned must work for the king as a page boy. In order to make himself sound more important the king changes his own title to emperor. He doesn’t ever remember Ned’s name and is constantly calling him something different. Eventually, some royal tailors come to town and promise to make the king new fashionable clothes but “only those who are very intelligent or fit for their jobs can see the special magical cloth.”

Naturally, the king and all of the advisers keep saying that they can see the wonderful clothes when they can’t because they don’t want to appear foolish. But Ned knows the king looks ridiculous because he isn’t really wearing any clothes. In the end, Ned is promoted to Royal Truth Teller because the king can trust his opinions. The king even writes letters to the nearby kingdoms to warn them about the tailors so that they will not make the same mistake that he did, even though he may appear foolish.

Clarissa and I had some great conversations about this story. It was nice to be able to pause the story to explain things to her. At first, she thought it was too long so I would recommend breaking it up into smaller sections for younger children. It would be great to listen to on short car trips while running errands. But in the end, she really enjoyed the story and wants to explore some of the other stories in the series.

Since we moved to Northern Virginia this summer, we chose Where is the White House? for our Who Was…? selection. I wasn’t sure if Clarissa would be super interested because it seems like it would be way above her reading level. However, as a read aloud, she loved it! She would have been content for me to read the entire 108 page book in one sitting, but since it was broken up into chapters we read it over several days.

There were several black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout the book. She also thought the stories about who decorated each part of the White House were interesting. Several sections of the White House have been rebuilt because of fire or because someone wanted a change. For example, during the War of 1812, Dolley Madison saved the portrait of George Washington before escaping the British. It was almost dinner time when they arrived, so the soldiers actually ate the dinner prepared at the President’s table before setting fire to the White House. Now we have to make a field trip to the White House this fall so that we can see what we read about.

The last part of the review was the hardest to decide. Library and Educational Services LLC had so many resources to choose from. For review purposes, I was to choose up to $60 of books from their Reinforced Hardcover Nonfiction Library Binding section. But they also offer paperback books and other resources at wholesale prices. You really do get a lot of books for the price that you pay. The website was laid out very nicely in that you could look up books by either subject, grade level, or type of binding.

Because I have already made a tentative plan of what Clarissa and I are going to study for first grade, I was able to go to the first grade books and choose books based on our intended curriculum. Otherwise I think that there were so many choices that it would have been hard to choose what I wanted. They had joke books, biographies, general social studies, animals, and general science available for first grade. Each grade level had quite the selection.

Clarissa was so excited to receive these books in the mail that we have already read most of them before we are studying these topics. She was really excited about the books about American landmarks. The books were actually written on a first grade level so they had simple words that made it easy for her to understand the material. There were actual photographs in the books so she could easily recognize what was happening. It was just enough information to get her excited about the topics. We have since been to our local library to read more books about landmarks because she was so excited about these books.

I found the Good for Me series about food groups in the second grade section so the words are a little bigger and the text is more complex. But I really like the way the books are laid out. They have photographs, charts, bold words, and headings so it is easy to teach the different parts of a nonfiction text.

I am excited to read the reviews from the other crew members to see which books they ended up with for their students. I think that we will order books from Library and Educational Services LLC in the future.

Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

We couldn’t wait until Christmas

Standard

We came to Virginia Beach for a visit Memorial Day weekend. It was nice to travel as a family, especially since Tim had not been to Virginia Beach in four years. We said goodbye and planned to return for Christmas. But after our weekend trip, Clarissa and I still felt like there were other things that we wanted to do before Christmas.

Last week, Clarissa and I took the train from Alexandria to Norfolk to visit my family again. We had a great trip.

On Monday, Grammy, Clarissa, and I went to the Virginia Beach oceanfront. There was a parking lot next to the 31st street garage that charged $10 to park all day and was practically empty when we arrived about 11.

We almost didn’t go because it was so hot outside and I didn’t think that Clarissa would last long. But Clarissa had the time of her life in the water. We taught her how to jump over the waves, though it required some assistance from Mommy or Grammy when we went deeper. But she loved it and never wanted to leave.

On Monday evening, my best friend and my mom threw a baby shower at my parents’ house. It was fun to see some out of town relatives and a few close friends. Clarissa had a great time with one of her best friends as well (a perk to your friends having daughters of similar ages).

Tuesday we got to play some with my niece and then met my friend and her daughter at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. It was super hot and humid outside but we had a wonderful time. We took the tram to the children’s garden and the girls played in the splash pad there. There were bathrooms nearby as well as a yurt that had a changing room.

Once they were sufficiently wet, we explored the different sections of the children’s garden. There were several sections, each with a different continent. Each continent had indigenous plants as well as a scavenger hunt where you could search for 1-3 of the animals listed. There was a paper near the bathroom that explains the scavenger hunt. When you find the animal cut out, you stamp your paper with the stamp provided at each continent. When you finish, there is a tent with a worker who will give you a prize. You get to plant a seed in a biodegradable cup and bring it home to plant at your house. The girls really enjoyed that activity.

There was also an alphabet garden that showed plants that started with different letters. Several had signs that said “please touch” which was a pleasant surprise. Most of them were herbs and plants that smelled good.

We then walked to the butterfly garden and butterfly house. There was also a butterfly maze but it was almost 100 degrees outside so we skipped it.

The butterfly house was not at all what I expected, but it was great. It was not air conditioned as it was pretty open with mesh around it, almost like a green house. There were plants inside as well as caterpillars, butterflies, and a mother/son volunteer team who were wonderful! They helped the girls hold a butterfly and explained things about butterfly life cycles. We learned a lot and really enjoyed it. If you live in Hampton Roads, she recommended a Monarch Butterfly Tag and Release event in September. She said come to the early morning session though because it is very crowded by afternoon.

Tuesday evening two of my aunts came to dinner. We had a great visit with them. Clarissa had a blast learning to play “telephone.”

On Wednesday, Clarissa got to play with the sprinkler and the hose at my parents’ house. She had a great time getting all wet.

Wednesday night, I got to have a dinner date with Shannon at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

wp-1563563492537897530047419315318.jpg

Thursday was more low key. We spent the day with my parents and my niece watching movies and playing games. Thursday night, Pappy got out his guitar and Clarissa got to dance around. So many memories of my childhood were spent dancing around that living room so I am glad Clarissa was able to experience that too.

We took the train home on Friday and had a rather uneventful ride. We made sure not to sit in the quiet car this time so it was more enjoyable.

Taking an Amtrak train

Standard

Since moving to Northern Virginia, we have maintained our one car lifestyle. The big difference is that in South Korea, Tim had the car most of the time to get to work and Clarissa and I took public transportation. Here, Tim takes the bus to work and Clarissa and I keep the car during the day.

Clarissa and I went to Virginia Beach this week to visit my family. We didn’t want Tim to be stranded without a car all week so we took the train. It was pretty easy to go online and book tickets. The train is pretty cheap too. It only cost $138 total round trip for the two of us.

If you are taking the train from Alexandria, there is hardly any parking. There are a few spots you can pay for and two spots for 30 minute parking. The station does have a bathroom but there isn’t a screen to tell you where to go. You can sit inside or outside. A few minutes before the train arrives there will be an announcement on the loudspeaker that tells you the train number and where the train is going.

There are not assigned seats. You simply pay for a reserved seat in either business class or coach. Then when the train comes, you find an open seat and sit there. You are responsible for your luggage. But the conductor did carry mine up the steps for me. There are racks at the front of each car or above your seats to place your luggage or carry on. Once the train starts moving, the conductor will come by and scan your electronic ticket and put a piece of paper above your seat so that they know when you are supposed to get off the train.

Apparently there is something called a quiet car on an Amtrak train. Often it is the train right behind business class but it can be located anywhere on the train. If you choose to sit in the quiet car, you have to be quiet the whole time. No talking on your cell phone and no using electronic devices without headphones. I didn’t see any signs about this when we sat down but we were informed by another passenger that we were sitting in the quiet car and so we had a quieter trip than I anticipated. There are small blue signs on the ceiling as you enter and exit the car but I didn’t see them until later when I was actually looking for them.

There is a cafe car on the train that sells food. You can buy things like personal pan cheese pizza ($7), hotdogs ($3.50), chips ($2.50), candy ($3), and drinks. The prices are not awful but definitely more than you would pay at the grocery store. You are allowed to bring your own food and drink on the train but they cannot refrigerate or heat up food for you that is not bought in the cafe car.

There is also a restroom in each train car. They are a decent size and fairly clean as well. Our train starts in Boston and goes all the way to Norfolk. We got on in Alexandria so someone must clean the train as they go because I thought it was clean for our entire trip.

Not all of the train doors open at each stop. You have to listen to the announcement to figure out which car to go to. There is also an announcement at each stop that will tell you the current stop, the next stop, and how many minutes until you arrive at the next stop.

Will we ride Amtrak again? Absolutely. You can eat, chat, and go to the bathroom whenever you want and it doesn’t add time to your trip. We will just make sure we do not sit in the quiet car. Though I will say that Clarissa did very well. The same passenger that was upset with us in the beginning walked by as he exited the train and said, “Your daughter is very well behaved.”

Bible Letter of the Week Review

Standard

Clarissa really enjoys Bible stories. She also gets really excited when we do crafts or activities about these stories. I was debating what I wanted to do with her as far as a  Bible curriculum for first grade. I was excited to see Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook on the list of choices from Crafty Classroom.

cover

Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook is marketed as a preschool curriculum. There are 26 weeks of lessons, one for each letter of the alphabet. Each week has four days of lessons with several activities to complete each day. There is a Bible story theme for each week as well as a Bible verse to memorize, practice writing each letter, activities to practice each letter sound, as well as some math activities for each week.

Clarissa has really enjoyed reading and discussing the Bible stories, the coloring pages and crafts, games, and math pages. She is also practicing her handwriting. I started off by supplementing this to our reading program and using this twice per week so that she would not be overwhelmed by the amount of work that was expected of her. Halfway through the letter A, she told me that she wanted to do this program every day instead of twice per week so we changed what we were doing.

Clarissa was most excited about the Alphabet Quilt. Each week, there is a square that shows the letter of the week, a picture of the Bible story, and even the Bible verse. She is excited to build this quilt as the year progresses. I like this aspect of the program because it will be a good review of what Bible stories and verses we have studied throughout the year. At one point she said to me, “Can we keep this quilt forever?”

07081915322223946725367258030.jpg

I like that the activities are similar each week so that Clarissa knows what is expected of her. She builds confidence with the repetition and also feels like she can do it herself without as much prompting from me. I like that the numbers get bigger for the math as the year progresses. So it makes sense to complete the weeks in order so that your math builds. I also was able to plot out the school year so that “J for Jesus” will fall in December for Christmas and “R for Resurrection” can be in April for Easter so it would make sense to do this curriculum over the course of an entire school year.

I think this would be a great curriculum for families with multiple children because you can pick and choose which activities to do with each child. You can do the main things the same with the Bible stories, crafts, and letters. But you can pick and choose the other activities (there are about 20 activities for each week to choose from). So the older kids can be included in the weekly Bible stories and memory verses. Your younger elementary kids won’t be completely bored with the math or the handwriting and letter activities. Your preschoolers and kindergartners would probably love the whole thing but you can pick and choose based on their developmental level.

The Crafty Classroom offers several different curriculum including reading, math, and even US geography. This may have been Clarissa’s favorite program that we reviewed all year so I am interested to see what other families thought of the various curriculum that they reviewed. I think we will be using Crafty Classroom in the future.

Hands-on, Low-prep and Ready to Go Learning - Tots to 3rd Grade {Crafty Classroom Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

National Cathedral

Standard

We met up for Thai food with some old friends for lunch. After lunch, we decided to check out the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

We bought Clarissa a camera for her birthday so she was really excited to use it for this trip. She kept saying, “This is so beautiful!” and “I’m so glad I have my own camera so I can take pictures of whatever I want.”

0712191518b_hdr5335206134005078865.jpg

Tim and I had been to the National Cathedral before, but it was before Clarissa was born. It was also before the earthquake in 2011 so it cost more to get in now and I felt like the atmosphere was completely different. Adults pay $12 and children (ages 5-17) pay $8. Parking was really expensive too, so it would have been better to take the metro.

The cathedral itself is beautiful with the stained glass windows and arched architecture inside. Clarissa kept saying, “Wow!”

There were several different chapels located inside. One of them looked like it was set up for a wedding. There is a lego build right now where you can pay for some lego pieces and help to build a model of the National Cathedral. The proceeds go toward the restoration project from the damage of the 2011 earthquake. The girls thought it was really cool. The volunteer said that when finished it would be the largest amateur build with instructions.

We also walked around outside and saw the gardens. There were bunnies, butterflies, bugs, and fish around as well.

The gift shop was surprising. It already had Christmas trees set up with nativity sets (in July). They were also selling Buddha statues and coexist stickers, which doesn’t make sense to me in a church. It felt more like a museum to me.

It is worth going if you like looking at pretty architecture or are looking for more of an indoor activity to get out of the weather. But it wasn’t a super spiritual experience.

Learning Dynamics Review

Standard

Clarissa and I did kindergarten together at home this year. She loves math and wants me to read to her all day long. But when it comes to learning how to read she gets excited about a new program for about a week and then gets frustrated that it is too hard and wants to stop.  We have tried a few different programs without success. So I was excited to try the Learning Dynamics Reading Program produced by Learning Dynamics.

The program recommends 15 minutes per day, at least 3 days per week. It starts pretty slow by learning one letter sound each in the first five lessons before you review them together in lesson 6. Even though Clarissa already knows most of her letters and sounds, I chose to start at lesson 1. I thought this would build her confidence, and I was correct. She actually really enjoyed the first few lessons and would ask to do more than one per day.

Each lesson had a few different components. There were three different flash cards for each letter. She enjoyed looking at those and collecting the small cards. Though eventually she invented her own games with them. There is an alphabet song that is supposed to be played at every lesson. Clarissa isn’t very big into kid songs, so halfway through, she had her hands over her ears. The same thing happened with each individual letter song so after the first couple of lessons, I didn’t bother with the songs. She was really excited about the letter hunts at the end of each lesson.

M was the first letter. At the end of that lesson, we were to walk around the house and find things that start with the “mmm” sound. She received an M&M for each word she found. The same thing happened with p for popcorn. She also enjoyed coloring the words that started with the correct letter. I think she also appreciated that it was only one page of written work each day. She had to write one row of lower case letters and color a few pictures so it was quick and easy.

By the end of the review period she was getting frustrated with the coloring page. She wanted to color in all of the pictures. So I made her tell me which words started with the correct letter before she started coloring. Then she would tell me which sound the other pictures started with.

06101909465984879548151501449.jpg

The program comes with four sets of books: blue, red, yellow, and green. She was excited to read those books before we got to them. So we definitely previewed each set of books before she was supposed to read them herself.

I am excited to report that we finally found a reading program that Clarissa enjoys! She said to me at one point, “I like reading now!” and she is getting to be a better reader everyday. After lesson 6, there is practice with blending words each day. She is pretty good at blending the three letter words now. She will read the simple books too. The first couple of books were single words on a page. It took a few books before she was supposed to read sentences, which was great, because by then she was ready.

I appreciated that each book had a list of words at the beginning of the book. In this way, we were able to practice the words before we actually tried to read the book. Clarissa already was familiar with most of the words before she saw them in the book so she didn’t have to spend as much time sounding out each word in the book. She enjoyed reading more that way. There are also comprehension questions to ask at the end of each book to make sure that your reader understood what they read and didn’t just sound out the words.

This video is book 7 of the blue book series. She has only completed lesson 18 of 41 in Lesson Manual one.

The lesson manual spells out which books you are supposed to read with each lesson. Books 1-13 are for lessons 9-33. Lessons 34-42 are two vowel lessons, where you will finish reading the blue set of books (books 14-23). Then there is a second part of the lesson manual that goes more in depth with advanced sounds and the other three set of books. I think it will take us several months to finish this program.

I am excited that most of the pieces of this program are reusable. The only part I will need to replace is the student workbook when I need to teach my second daughter to read in a few years. You can read about what other families thought of the program here.

Learning Dynamics Reading Program  {Learning Dynamics Reviews}Crew Disclaimer