Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lord Heritage HomeSchool Office Review

Is your homeschool day filled with chaos?
Are you disorganized and praying for things to change?

Well, I have the perfect tool for you to use. Recently, I was given the opportunity to review HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage for the SchoolHouse Review Crew. I received a one year (12 months) free subscription to the program.


HomeSchool Office Review


Lord Heritage's HomeSchool Office is a web-based program that provides a variety of tools to help you plan, organize, and manage your homeschool. Having a well organized homeschool is essential to keeping things running smoothly. HomeSchool Office is extremely flexible and works with any curriculum. Whether you have 1 or 10 kids this program can help you organize it all.

HomeSchool Office uses the POWER strategy. The power strategy is a comprehension program that follows God's proven way.



PLAN
~ plan
~build a master schedule
~ set up lessons
~ create projects for home or co-ops
~ plan a budget

ORDER
~schedule lessons
~integrate home & school activities
~add important reminders
~create personalized lists

WORK
~ manage everyday to do lists
~follow daily lesson plans
~view or print individual schedules
~ allow student access

EVALUATE
~track attendance
~track hours
~maintain grades
~ manage state regulations

REPORT
~customized reports
~create transcripts




By using the HomeSchool Office online program, you can plan and organize your daily homeschool life as well as your year to year homeschool journey. The program not only helps you plan the day to day lessons, it allows you to keep track of activities, subjects, and to create reports. By doing all of these things, it makes building a transcript extremely easy, especially for the high school years.

Once I logged it, I went about setting up my information. Be prepared this will take some time. HomeSchool Office is extremely thorough and asks for a lot of information!



Most of the information needed is pretty useful, but there were a few things I thought were not overly important. Maybe when you are creating transcripts you need all the "extra" information, but for families with younger kids it may be too much. I didn't see why I needed to enter in all the phone numbers and addresses for all the kids. To me it would seem the program would know that each child's address would be the same since we are homeschooling. Maybe just being able to check a box that says use existing address would help the set up process go quicker.

Setting up your homeschool should have been easy. I didn't find that to be the case. I had problems with the program freezing and not saving information. After a few tries, I was able to set things up, but I do wish it could have been easier. I have used and tried other online programs, but this program seemed a little more confusing to me. It took me a lot longer to figure it out. It may not be as user friendly for some people or it could have just been me.




After creating you homeschool, you get to add your students, lessons, activities, etc. HomeSchool Office has everything. I can't think of anything this program missed when planning for your homeschool year. You get to add your children's subjects, create their lessons, create a master schedule to follow (it even allows you to add in extracurricular activities), books, and budget. There is a section where you can enter your children's grades. This is perfect if you grade your children or if you hand out report cards. You can track attendance to make sure you are following your states attendance laws. 
Finally there is the ability to print reports. The reports are broken up into 4 quarters. These reports are great if you need to create a transcript or if you do a portfolio to meet your states requirements. 
Did I tell you that there is even a section for you to record the contacts for your state? Well there is! I did find this extremely helpful, because every year ( and I mean every year) I have to go and search for our information online.




Overall the HomeSchool Office is a great program. I think anyone wanting to keep detailed information would love this program. For me, I found it not so user friendly, but I prefer to plan my lessons the old fashion way with paper and pen. I just use a regular old notebook to plan my budget, books, and subjects. I then create my own lesson plans online using plain old Word. As far as logging our progress and work, I use another online program that I have been using for 4 years now. It's O.K. not great but it works a little better for our needs. I tried HSO hoping I would fall in love with it, but so far I haven't. I know others have and that's great! I think you just have to go with what works best for your family. The best part with the HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage is that they offer a 30 day free trial. You can try the program out to see if you enjoy it before you buy it. A one year subscription costs $79.00. Head over here to check it out for yourself. 



Till next time,
~Monique



HomeSchool Office Review
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Gluten Free Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes


I decided to make some gluten free doughnuts for my daughter when she was sick with a cold last week. They were easy and tasted pretty close to the real thing.
I found the recipe on the Betty Crocker  website, but I change a few ingredients because we just didn't have all of them.

So here is my recipe......


Ingredients

Vegetable Oil for frying the doughnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups Bisquick Gluten Free mix (whole box)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
2 egg, beaten


Directions

In a saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil. You can use a deep fryer if you have one.

In a small bowl mix the sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside for later.

In a large bowl, combine the bisquick, sugar, and nutmeg together. Add the melted butter, milk, and eggs. Mix the ingredients until smooth. 

Shape the dough into small balls. Carefully drop the balls into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown. 

Drain the balls on a paper towel. While still warm, roll the balls into the cinnamon/sugar mix. 

YUMMY!!!!








Till next time,
~Monique


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Friday, March 20, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up/THMJ

Well another week has come and gone. Spring is finally here. I am so ready for it.
At least the calender says it's spring. Someone needs to tell mother nature to stop the snow.


We woke up to snow this morning.....HAPPY SPRING to us!


So what have we been up to this week?

In our life this week.....
On Sunday, we went to mass and the Lego Man went to CCD. Princess P was home sick. I taught my sweet little first graders. We had a fun class. We learned about Saint Patrick and watched a great film about him. We then did two fun crafts to go along with our lessons. The kids had a blast.
On Monday, I got to take Princess P to the doctors. It seems she just had some type of cold or flu. A week with a fever is no fun for anyone. We did stop at target for some honey cough drops. Since she had been sick all week, I allowed her to pick out a toy. She chose one of the new Lego Elves sets.


She enjoyed putting it together and it took away some of her boredom for awhile.
Tuesday and Wednesday, we hung out at the house, since Princess P is still not feeling 100%. On Thursday, we headed out to the library. We had books due and they couldn't be renewed. After the library, we dropped off a few bags of out grow summer clothes to our local thrift store. We then headed home. Once home, we realized that our sweet little man was not feeling well. 



He had gotten into a fight the night before and obviously he didn't win the battle. So back into the car we went. The vet was able to find 5 bite wounds on his side and abdomen. Poor guy. He got some pain meds and some antibiotics and off we went. He sleep the rest of the day.
On Friday, we woke to snow. Yup snow on the first day of spring. Something is wrong! I am ready for flip flop weather. Worse than the snow, I woke up sick. Thanks to Princess P and her sharing, I now am sick with the same yucky bug she had. Fever, cough, headache, and a scratchy throat. 

In our school this week....
Well school was hit or miss. He 
Monday-no school
Tuesday & Wednesday- full day of school. We were trying to play catch up with the days we fell behind last week.
Thursday- we did math and English
Friday- the kids did school while Mama laid on the couch.

I am really hoping we will get to do a few week next week!

What I am reading....
I am currently reading a book by Debbie Macomber called Twenty Wishes.



What the kids are reading....
I know Lego Man is still reading his Redwall series. I'm not quite sure what book he is in now. He has also been checking out every book he can find on fishes.....salt water, fresh water, etc. 
Princess P hasn't been reading much lately. With her headache, she has found it hard to concentrate on the words. 

What have I been working on....
Cleaning and purging. We donated 4 bags of outgrown spring/summer clothes to our local thrift store. Lego Man also parted with some outgrown toys. Hopefully we can clean out at least a few more bags.
Next week, if we all are feeling better, my goal is to get back into school full force and then in the afternoons spring cleaning. I think we will start with 1 room and go from there. 



Till next time
~Monique


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Thursday, March 19, 2015

GPALOVEMATH Review

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the GPALOVEMATH curriculum from GPA LEARN for the Schoolhouse Review Crew!


For this review, we were given online access to one level of the math program for 1 full year. I signed up my daughter for the 4th grade level. GPA Learn is a fun online math program geared for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. GPA Learn is a supplemental math program with over 150 lessons and over 10,000 practice problems!! 

Each level has different animated learning coaches. There is a detective, a penguin, a girl, a robot, an owl, and super heroes. Something to appeal to all those little learners out there!



The program has an amazing reward system in place for the child. Parents can set up rewards for their children to earn. For every five lessons completed, the child will earn a reward picked by the parents. You can make up your own or pick from the wonderful list provided by GPA Learn. Just a few of the examples are picking what's for dinner, a parent does you chore, a trip to go get ice cream, earn a $1, a trip to the movies, get a special prize/gift, or earn $5 dollars. I like how parents can tailor the rewards to each child. Being able to be specific with the rewards allows parents to motivate all of their children in their own special way.

When the child logs into their account, they will see their dashboard.



The dashboard lets the child see their progress and if they have earned any rewards. From there, they can click onto the page that holds their lessons. The lessons are broken up between 3 colored paths. For 4th grade, the paths are green, purple, and blue. Each path will take the child down a different math function being taught for that grade level. My daughter path has hundredths place, thousandths place, and geometry.



The math lessons are broken up into 3 sections. Each lesson starts with an explanation of the math function being taught, then it is followed by a wonderful practice session. Finally, the third section is where the child can complete the quiz. The quiz is scored 4 ways.

Rockstar 14-15 Correct   Level~Master
Excellent 12-13 Correct   Level~ Master
Nice Job 10-11 Correct  Level~ Apprentice
Keep Trying 9 or less Correct

There is also a page where the child can engage others that they become friends with. I briefly looked at this section, but we didn't friend anyone or link anyone to us. I don't really allow my kids to use the internet for that just yet. If you allow it, it may be another way to help encourage your child to achieve even more!


                               


So how did it work for us?

After receiving my information for registration, I headed on over to the site to register my daughter. I picked the 4th grade math level for her, since she is in 4th grade. One complaint I do have is that there is no placement test. I think it would be extremely helpful for parents to be able to test their child first and then pick the appropriate level. Math programs and books vary greatly from what they cover year to year. Parents would benefit from an online placement test, so they could get the most out of this fun online math program.

For the 4th grade level, our learning guide was an owl named, Pemdas.  She reminds me of a wizard owl from the stories about Merlin.....like Disney's Sword and the Stone. 
The online math program is challenging. After the first few lessons, the 4th grade level seemed a little advance for her. My daughter is slightly behind in math and I was hoping this program would help her to catch up. Overall, she enjoys doing the online lessons. She has had a difficult time with some of them. She has had to repeat a few lessons multiple times before she can move on. This has caused some discouragement. It would be nice if there was a way to change levels online especially if your child is really having a difficult time with the lessons. It might be nice to automatically have access to the grades right below and above the grade level you picked for your child.

Pemdas is a wonderful instructor, but my daughter thinks the voice of the owl takes too long to start speaking. She ends up starting to read the math problem only to be interrupted by the owl. This has caused her to want to skip the instruction part and even the practice part. I have stressed to her that patience is a great virtue to learn. 

Even with her difficulty with the level, she has asked to continue the program. Sadly, we haven't used the program as much as they recommend. My daughter has had a rough time this past month with being sick. The flu and a stomach bug has limited her ability to play. I will say that once she felt better, she immediately asks to do her online math work.


Want to learn more about GPA Learn? Check the following links!



Till next time, 
~Monique


GPA Learn Review



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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!


Wishing you all a wonderful feast day!

In honor of Saint Patrick's Feast day, we will be doing some fun things at home.
During our religion studies, we will read about Saint Patrick. 
We will do a craft about the Blessed Trinity.



You can find it over at Catholic Inspired.
Jennifer has tons of great crafts for kids of all ages!
She also has a new craft for Saint Patrick's Day. 
It's a mobile. 
I did it with my CCD class this past Sunday and they LOVED it!

Every year, we watch the movie Patrick, Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle from CCC of America.


My kids are getting a little old for this, but we still enjoy it. Next year, I may have to find a "older" movie about Saint Patrick.


For fun, the kids will hunt for gold coins around the house. Not really related to Saint Patrick but it's still fun. It's like finding the gold at the end of the rainbow.




So what's for dinner?
Irish Beef Stew
Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread
and
Saint Patrick's Gluten Free Brownie Desert


Till next time, 
~Monique


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What's for dinner this Friday? Shrimp Scampi

Last Friday, I decided to make Lego Man one of his favorite dishes....Shrimp Scampi. He loves getting it for dinner at an Italian restaurant near my mom's house. So I searched online and found an easy recipe online. I found it on Simply Recipes. Of course, I had to change it up a little to fit our needs.



Ingredients

1 pound of shrimp...I used frozen and just thawed it overnight
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Parsley


Directions

Place butter and olive oil in saute pan. Mix the butter and oil together on high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute the garlic until it is slightly browned. 

Add shrimp. Add the wine and stir to coat the shrimp in the butter wine sauce. Make sure the shrimp are in a single layer. Bring sauce to a boil.  Boil the shrimp and wine for about 2-3 minutes. 
Flip the shrimp to cook the other side. Cook on high for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the shrimp with parsley, lemon juice, and black pepper. Stir to mix the ingredients.

Serve on rice or pasta. 
We used gluten free pasta and it was delicious!



Till next time, 
~Monique


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Monday, March 16, 2015

The Critical Thinking Company Review

Do your kids like to do their grammar lessons? Usually grammar lessons here are met with groans and kids dragging their feet to the table. Well, that all changed a few weeks ago. We were given the opportunity to review the book, Editor in Chief Level 1 from The Critical Thinking Company. My son really enjoyed using this book.



For our review, we received a physical copy of the book, Editor In Chief Level 1. I was worried that the book would be dull and boring, but I was wrong. Thank goodness. My son LOVED the stories in the book. He read about various animals and different places in the world. He loves anything to do with nature, so the subject matter was a big hit for him. He even learned some new stuff about some animals, which is really good.



The book is a workbook style book for use by one child. The good news is if you have multiple children, the license is reciprocal.....meaning you can make copies to use for all you kids. Which is great! Not too many companies allow this. You can read more about their copyright laws on their website. This would save any homeschooling family some money, which we all could use right?

Editor in Chief Level 1 is recommended for children in the 4th and 5th grade.
The book is 136 pages long and the pages are perforated for easy tear out. So if you are using it for multiple students, you can tear each page out and store them in plastic sleeves to protect them.

The book is filled with interesting facts for the children to read and fantastic photos to go along with the topic.



After reading the lesson and learning the new rule being introduced, the kids put their knowledge and skills to work by finding the hidden mistakes. The children look at the photo and the short information given. With the information they are given, they have to read a paragraph and find mistakes hidden in it. Don't worry if you have trouble finding a mistake there is an answer key in the back of the book.
Mistakes can spelling errors, capitalization errors,  and so much more. Each lesson focuses on a particular grammar topic.
The books is divided into 12 lessons. The 12 lessons are then divided into 4 activities.
The lessons cover....
  • Content
  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling Errors
  • Nouns and Pronouns
  • Adjectives, Adverbs, Articles
  • Verbs
  • Agreement
  • Conjunctions, Prepositions, and Interjections
  • Confused Word Pairs and Negative Words
  • Homophones and Homographs
  • Run-On  Sentences and Sentence Fragments                   

Each page has a section on the bottom where students can rewrite the passage correctly. This is optional, but I had my son do it. I figured it was a good way to practice his penmanship. You could have them rewrite it everyday, every other day, or once a week. Whatever works best for you homeschooling needs.

On top of the 12 lessons, the book contains some review lessons. I love review lessons! I think they help reinforce the skills that the children have learned. The reviews are broken up in 3 ways.
You have 4 mini reviews. They follow Lessons 3, 6, 9, 12. There are two bigger reviews that review the first half of the book, Lesson 1-6 and the second half of the book, Lessons 7-12.
At the end of the book there is a final review that reviews all 12 lessons! If you like to give tests or quizzes, this would be a great way to test your child's knowledge.

My son has really enjoyed working in this book. The topics covered in each lesson have held his interest. He hasn't complained once when asked to do the work. We are looking forward to using Level 2 next year!

Check more reviews on different products from The Critical Thinking Company over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!


Till next time,
~Monique


Critical Thinking Company Review

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