IXL Learning Review

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Clarissa started to get bored with workbooks, so I was excited when we were given the opportunity to review an IXL annual membership from IXL Learning.

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The IXL annual membership is an online learning program. There are options to study Math and Language Arts with activities for preschool through twelfth grade. Science and Social Studies have activities for second through eighth grade. Spanish is offered as well. The account comes with a parent login as well as profiles for individual students. Parents can go in to their child’s profile and put a star next to skills they would like their children to complete or they can simply have their child take the diagnostic test and the program will recommend what the child should work on next in that subject.

One thing that I really like about IXL is that there is a lot of data available to me as the parent. I can sign in to my account and pull up a report for each subject.

Each week, I also receive an email that tells me what skills Clarissa worked on and how she performed on each skill.

I had mixed feelings about IXL Learning. I thought it would be great because Clarissa was tired of worksheets. Working on the computer should be better, right? Because she doesn’t read fluently on her own, I had to really help her a lot in the beginning. For both the Math and the Language Arts, she did better if I was sitting with her and reading all of the directions. There is a speaker icon that you can press to read the questions and answers aloud, but she started to get impatient waiting for things. Also, on the laptop, she isn’t as skilled with the mouse so that was frustrating for her as well. An app was advertised, so I thought that might work. But neither of our Korean phones supported the app so we stuck with the laptop for the first couple of weeks. Eventually, we got the app to work on my kindle and Clarissa enjoyed it more that way because of the touch screen.

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Also, if your child works through an entire section in a subject, they can earn “awards.” This was especially encouraging to Clarissa in the beginning. She loved “earning” stuffed animals on the screen. But that wore off pretty quickly.

By the end of the review, Clarissa was asking for her “old” school so she didn’t like IXL very much. Parts of it were too easy and other parts were too hard. She couldn’t find her sweet spot with it. We played with a little of the second grade science to see what it was about. I think she would have appreciated a kindergarten level science section, since she seemed to enjoy the second grade. She did like the ability to choose an activity and not have to go in order for any subject.

The IXL annual membership isn’t a great fit for our family with a single kindergarten student. I think it may work better for a larger family because it would give other students something to do while mom is working one on one with another child. I also think this program would be a better fit for older students who can read fluently and are in the routine of working on their own. You can read about the experience of several other families if you check out some other crew reviews.

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Girls Trip to Seoul

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I have never been to a Broadway show. And I never pass up an adventure with the ladies at my church. So when we started talking about going to see Lion King Live, I knew I wanted to go.

We met up at church at 3pm and the eight of us piled into Jen’s van for our hour and a half drive to Seoul Arts Center Opera House. I was glad to be a passenger instead of the driver. I hate driving in Seoul traffic and there were many u-turns to find a parking lot that actually had spaces available.

We did make great time and decided that we would try the restaurant at the opera house because it was easy to find. The food was actually really good and reasonably priced for a venue like that. I was able to get a classic burger and french fries for 11,000 won (like $10) and the pizzas and pastas were between 20,000-30,000 won ($20-$30). Everyone enjoyed their food.

Then we had about an hour before the show so we stood in line to take pictures. It was very cold outside and they didn’t have the heat on in the hallways so we were in our jackets for all of our pictures. There were programs for sale, binoculars (which they called opera glasses) available to rent, as well as a coffee shop and a vending machine for drinks.

Photography was forbidden in the auditorium itself which was actually a very comfortable temperature. We bought the cheapest seats (60,000 won so like $50) so we were on the fourth floor in the last two rows of the theater. But we could still see and hear everything that was happening on stage. The theater wasn’t sold out either which surprised me.

I had never been to a Broadway caliber production before and I was actually very impressed from the beginning. The giraffes came out first which were dancers on stilts. They must have needed very strong abdominal muscles for that. They were all in sync with each other’s movements. There was a live orchestra and drums. The costumes were great and the sets were simple but I really liked them. I was actually very impressed with the caliber of actors, dancers, and singing in the show. The show was mostly in English with what was probably an African song or two in the mix but there were Korean subtitles on a large screen off to the side.

The story was very true to what I remember of the movie, except that Rafiki the crazy monkey was a girl in the live show. But all of the usual songs were there. There were a few Korea specific jokes in the show. For example, they talked about going to Dongdaemun Market and Zazu said “don’t send me back to Everland Zoo!” Also, Zazu sings “Let it Go” to Scar instead of “It’s a Small World.”

One of the ladies said she was going to come back with her kids. I think kids would enjoy the show and there were actually several in the theater. Lion King is in Seoul until the end of March and then it moves to Busan, so there is still time to go see the show.

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After the show, we headed back to the car so that we could go to our next location, Dongdaemun Market. I guess we didn’t really do our research on this one because the night market is closed on Sundays (which actually means Saturday night). So we went to Doota (a big department store type mall) which had cute stuff but department store prices. The better deal would have been the outdoor market, but it wasn’t there that day. There was one small section of outdoor shops in yellow tents so we went there. I had some street food (chicken kebab) and a few of the ladies found hats and things to buy. It was only about 20 degrees outside and the usual Korea wind so we didn’t last super long anyway.

We left Dongdaemun a little after midnight and went to a 24 hour McDonalds on the way home since ladies were hungry again. It was a wonderful adventure. Maybe will try Dongdaemun again in the spring when it is warmer.

Ideas for keeping in touch with long distance relatives

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We moved to South Korea when Clarissa was eighteen months old. I felt bad taking the only grandbaby on both sides to the other side of the world. But I also knew that there were things that I could do to help Clarissa keep in touch with her extended family.

  • Care Packages
    I hang up Clarissa’s artwork in our house when she creates it. A few times per year, I take it down and mail it to the grandparents. We try to send care packages with art (and now that she is older, samples of her school work) at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and Christmas. This way, I don’t have to throw Clarissa’s work away and the grandmothers appreciate samples of her work.
    We often create special cards or paintings specifically for the packages. Especially when Clarissa was younger, we would create something with her handprint or footprint so that the grandmothers could see how much she had grown. We have made footprint butterflies and mermaids, and handprint flowers among other things.
  • Photo gifts
    I use Shutterfly a lot for gifts. It is easy to make calendars and photo books. For a while I was sending photo books at different times and everyone was on a different schedule. Now I have switched to making one for the year and everyone gets the same one. I can also send mugs, notebooks, bags, and calendars with Clarissa’s pictures.
  • Visits
    How often you visit depends on how far away you are. A flight from Korea to America is expensive (and the thirteen/fourteen hour time difference is brutal) so we’ve only been home once in four years. At about our halfway mark in Korea, Clarissa and I did a solo trip to visit both sets of grandparents. She was so young when we left that she didn’t really have memories of them in person, just over Skype. I assumed that if we could go to America and make some memories, she would interact with the family members better when we did Skype. I was correct.
  • Facebook
    We have a special facebook group for our extended families. I try to regularly post pictures, videos, and funny things that Clarissa says so that they can see her often. Sometimes they post videos with messages for her as well or pictures of the animals in Omi’s yard. I also make videos whenever someone sends Clarissa a package in the mail. This way they get to “watch” her open her gifts and see her reaction.
  • Skype
    Skype is free and we use it regularly. The grandparents can talk to Clarissa (and Tim and I) in real time. There are also copies of books that Clarissa owns that each of the grandparents have so that they can read her a book over Skype and she can follow along. And they often request that she opens her presents over Skype so they can interact with her while she opens them.
  • Blog
    I had a blog before we moved anyway but it was mostly a recipe blog. Once we moved, it morphed into a what we’re doing in Korea and travel blog. I don’t have a big following, but my family enjoys reading about our adventures. I also like that one day Clarissa will be able to look back and see our adventures in picture and story form.

We’re planning to move back to the United States in the spring. Clarissa is excited that she will get to see her grandparents and new baby cousin in person. She is hoping that we will live close so that she can see them “whenever I want!”

The day Clarissa decided she wanted to be baptized

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Clarissa and I talked about baby Jesus a lot in December. We talked about his parents, his birth, the shepherds, the wise men; all of it, when we did Truth in the Tinsel.

This month, Clarissa and I are going to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and learn how to pray. Before we do that, I wanted to review some of the things we learned about Jesus. So one day we looked at the pictures in her Bible about Jesus’s dedication at the temple (at 8 days old) and about when His parents couldn’t find Him because He stayed at the temple (at 12 years old).

 

I wanted to move on to Jesus being baptized and our conversation took a very interesting turn. When we looked at the picture of Jesus being baptized, Clarissa said, “So when Jesus was being dedicated at the temple, it was like he was being baptized. That’s how babies are baptized. And then they get baptized as an adult too.” So we stopped to talk about it.

I explained that when babies are dedicated to the Lord, it is really about the parents. The parents are making a decision to raise their child to know who God is. The parents want their child to love Jesus so they pray that their child will love God. When an adult is baptized, it means something very different. When an adult is baptized it means that they want to show other people that they love Jesus.

 

Clarissa immediately said, “Oh. I love Jesus. I want to be baptized.” I explained that usually our pastor baptizes people in a river so we need to wait until it is warmer outside. But she was very adamant that she wanted to be baptized. Immediately. Right now. I told her she needed to wait at least another half hour until Daddy came home.

She agreed to that and got to work making a sign. “Mommy how to do you spell Baptized?” Then she put on her bathing suit and asked me to fill up the bath tub. She got impatient waiting for Tim so she decided to baptize herself. “Mommy, I did it!” What?

 

 

Then Tim got home and we talked about what happened when John baptized Jesus. And Clarissa was like, “I already got baptized, you don’t need to do it again…” She didn’t want us to dunk her.

I’m not sure this counts as her official baptism. I’m sure she’ll want to do it again when she’s older and understands it a bit better. But I so appreciated her heart and how she wanted to do it right now.

Our favorite books about South Korea

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In honor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I thought I would share our favorite children’s book about South Korea. Some of these we own and some we have borrowed from the library (actually all are at the Camp Humphreys Library).

 

One of Clarissa’s favorite books to borrow from the library is Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell. A little girl is adopted from South Korea and comes home to live with her new family in America. She doesn’t know any English but her family quickly learns a few Korean words, specifically “goyangi” because of their pet cat that the little girl loves so much.

We own Bee-Bim-Bop by Linda Sue Park because Clarissa loved it so much when we borrowed it from the library that we read it every day for a week straight and actually had to learn to make bibimbap from the recipe in the book.

Last year, we reviewed Carole P. Roman’s If You were me and lived in… South Korea. I think Clarissa likes it because it talks about some of the places we have visited. I think it gives you some idea of Korean culture as it discusses Korean words for mom and dad, money, school, and sports.

Lately, Clarissa has been interested in Sori’s Harvest Moon Day by Uk-Bae Lee. This story is about a little girl and her family and how they travel to their grandparents’ house for Chuseok, which is one of the two major holidays in South Korea. It is interesting to see how another culture celebrates a holiday to honor ancestors and spend time together.

Another book we borrowed from the library is called The Firekeeper’s Son by Linda Sue Park. This story is about a boy who lives by the sea. His family has the important job of lighting a fire on the mountain each night if everything is calm. Each mountain has a family to light a fire. This way, the king will know if there are invaders in the land. If the fires are not lit, then the king will send soldiers to help. One day, the boy’s father hurts his ankle and he has to light the fire himself.

The library on post has an entire section of Korean children’s literature. Some of it is Korean folktales and others are books written in Korean. But these are our favorites.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

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Our family loves to travel. We enjoy seeing new places and learning about new cultures. We also really like to read books. Clarissa and I read about different places all the time. I try to expose her to people who don’t live like her so that she can see that there are so many different ways that people live around the world. When I heard about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I knew I wanted to participate.

The website has several resources for teachers and families. There will also be a Twitter party on January 25, 2019 at 9PM EST (7AM in Korea January 26) with several giveaways. There are links at the bottom of this post.

As part of my participation in Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I was sent a children’s book to review. I received LaDonna Plays Hoops by Kimberly A Gordon Biddle.

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Clarissa and I had different opinions about the book. I enjoyed the story. I liked that it was about a girl who was younger than her boy cousin but was still brave enough to compete with him at basketball, even though he won the last time they played two years ago. I liked that LaDonna came from a wonderful African American extended family and was attending a family reunion of sorts. Clarissa liked that LaDonna had a pet frog.

The author used great adjectives and descriptions in her book. The language was easy to understand and the dialog was realistic. I thought the story was great. The illustrations weren’t my favorite. Clarissa didn’t like the pictures either. She isn’t familiar with basketball so I think that is why she had a hard time with the story.

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From the Organizers:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board!

*View our 2019 Medallion Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-
*View our 2019 MCBD Author Sponsors here: https://wp.me/P5tVud-2eN

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual @McChildsBookDay Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party ( a prize every 5 minutes!). GO HERE for more details.

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Our favorite books for four year olds

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Clarissa has always been a reader. I have pictures of her looking at books sprawled out on the floor before she could walk. She asks to visit the library often and requests that I read to her several times per day. If I am not available, she says “okay,” and then walks into her room, closes the door, and starts “reading” to herself. These were some of her favorites when she was four years old. Again, we have a lot of series of books on this list. Thought there were a few that were favorites by themselves.

  • At four, Clarissa was pretty much obsessed with Magic School Bus. She watched the show on netflix everyday and has several different books to read. Her favorites were Inside the Human Body and Time of the Dinosaurs. But we pretty much read any Magic School Bus book that we could find.
  • Gigi, God’s Little Princess is a wonderful series of books by Sheila Walsh. Clarissa says that Gigi “reminds her of Fancy Nancy, except that Gigi loves God.” She’s your typical five year old girl who has some crazy adventures with her best friend Frances. She has a cat named Tiara and a dog named Lord Fluffy. Gigi is also very into the color pink.
  • Usborne has several books about the human body. Clarissa really enjoys the lift the flap ones.
  • Gerald and Piggie books by Mo Willems were another favorite. Elephant Gerald and Piggie are best friends but they are so different. Piggie is fun and exciting and Gerald is a little more cautious but they have great adventures together. I also like that all of the books are written entirely in dialog.
  • Little Critter was one of my favorites when I was a little kid. Clarissa loves Little Critter and the crazy adventures that he has with his family. I like that he has a great family and that he is your typical kid. “I tried to make you lunch, but I got hungry…I didn’t forget to use soap, I just don’t like it…”
  • We bought Clarissa Lily’s Easter Party a few years ago to go with her Resurrection Eggs. She pulls the book out several times per year. I can’t put it away with the Easter things. She likes the story of friends having and Easter egg hunt. I like that she is learning more about the different parts of the Resurrection story.
  • I wrote a review about the Planet 316 Bible last year. It is Clarissa’s favorite Bible. She loves that she can use my phone to make the stories come to life. I like it because she is excited about reading Bible stories.

I need to write separate posts for Christmas and Easter because we have so many favorite books for those seasons.