Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Road Home by Beverly Lewis -- my REVIEW


There are so many books based on Amish characters!  Often I read a few and then lose interest because they all seem kind of the same after awhile.  When this book was available for review I wasn't too sure I'd like it...but after I started reading it, I knew I was going to enjoy it!

Lena (the main character) and her large family (nine brothers and sisters) have tragically lost their parents and the Amish community that they are a part of does not have the resources to take care of the family, ranging in age from Lena who is contemplating becoming engaged (hoping for it) to her little six year old brother.  It comes down to parting out the siblings amongst families in the community but there is no one with room for Lena, so she is sent to another state to live with some far off cousins of her father's.

As Lena's life sadly moves to Pennsylvania (from Michigan) she fits into the daily routines of Harley and Mimi (the cousins) and even begins to make a few friends.  She keeps in touch with her boyfriend back home, hoping to maintain their relationship until she might be able to return.  She helps out Mimi (who has issues herself) as well as others in the Pennsylvania community.  She meets a boy her age who is a friend. . .always hoping for the chance to return home.

I don't want to tell too much more than that--but I will say that I enjoyed this book.  It's fiction, of course, and has happy endings, which I do enjoy :) It leaves out a lot of grief/sadness that would have followed losing both parents, but I guess it's not meant to be that kind of a book.  The characters are different and interesting and draw you into relationships with them as you read.  It is a clean book, and not really too religious.

I would definitely recommend this book for a light read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

C is for Conversions -- EASY method to convert between Fahrenheit and Celcius

Either using Celcius or Fahrenheit, ice fishing is a COLD pastime! :) 

Temperature conversions!  How comfortable are you with converting from Fahrenheit to Celcius or from Celcius to Fahrenheit?  Well, truthfully, nowadays, if you need to do it frequently, you probably have an app on your phone to convert for you...

BUT it's good to know how to do it, and if you're a homeschooling parent, you will (most probably) need to teach your chid to convert C to F and F to C in science and in math.  Of course there are the two normal formulae (with +32 or -32 and 5/9 and 9/5) but sometimes that gets confusing.

SO -- here I am today to tell you my favorite EASY way to convert between these two!  I learned this "trick" in college from one professor (which one? I have absolutely NO recollection!) and have used it ever since (and taught it to my kids).  I do wonder why it's not taught more!

Well, after all that build up, here's my method!

a) begin with the temperature
b) add 40
c) multiply by 9/5 or 5/9, depending on the direction **
d) subtract 40
e) be happy that you have done the conversion so easily!

**so how do you know which to multiply by?  Well, you know that the degrees Fahrenheit are higher (think 212 F=100C or 32F=0C) so if you are going from F to C, the number will be getting smaller, so multiply by the smaller fraction (5/9) and if you're going from C to F, you know it'll be larger, so you'll multiply by the larger fracthio (9/5)

That magic number, 40, makes it so easy!

Want to see an example?  Let's do the boiling point of water (212F or 100C)

Okay, let's go F--->C
212 + 40 = 252
252*(5/9)=140
140-40=100
voila! :)

How about the other direction?
100+40=140
140*(9/5)=252
252-40=212

What do you think?  I hope this makes your life easier! :) Just remember the fractions 5/9 and 9/5 and the magic number 40!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

B is for Ballroom

Another one of the extracurriculars that my homeschooled kids participate in is ballroom dance.  It's lots of fun and good exercise too!  They go to a class which is made up of both homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers and the instructor is great!  They learn all kinds of dances from swing to polka to traditional waltz, and some circle-type dances.  It's a great weekly social event and learning fun!




My daughters jumped right in when given the chance to join the class, but my son wasn't so sure.  He was 15 at the time and the word "dance" turned him off :) BUT we actually made him go--told him he had to participate in one session (8 weeks, I think) and he begrudgingly went, but after the first couple of weeks he liked it and now (at 16) he loves it and is disappointed when it ends for the season!




Sunday, May 13, 2018

A is for ARCHERY

One of the "sports" my homeschoolers participate in is shooting sports through 4-H.  The shooting sports program is a very safe target shooting program.  The youth are taught and utilize firearm safety and self-discipline.

One of the disciplines they learn to shoot is archery.  Archery serves as a way for them to really hone their focus and to learn physical control to attain shooting a target.  In 4-H they are taught instinctive shooting, which is withouut the use of sights.  This is a pretty interesting way of shooting, basically training your brain to know what your body should do in order to end up with an arrow in the right portion of the target.

If you're interested in your child participating in shooting sports, look for a club near you or call your local county extension agent and they will get you connected with a club!







Friday, May 4, 2018

Some thoughts upon my first homeschooler's graduation. . .

There are so many questions people ask me regarding homeschooling my kids through high school. This is my first experience with it, so I thought I might share some thoughts!

DIPLOMA: People wonder, will she have a diploma? (for whatever that's worth!) Yes, we ordered her a diploma, which will probably proudly sit in some filing cabinet somewhere for the rest of her days, haha! BUT I know that's important to some people, so feel free to read this post on where and how we got a diploma.
It really is a nice looking document, the pragmatist in me, though, really wonders what the actual value of a diploma is--I more focus on the transcript (nice segue into the next topic, right?!) :)



TRANSCRIPT: Where does she get her transcript? Well, I (as her teacher/admin) created one for her! What is a transcript, anyhow? It's a list of the courses, credits, and grades that she has earned. I kind of obsessed a little bit over this one, hearing thoughts from many people giving lots of different advice, but finally just asked a couple of college admissions offices (including the one which she wished to attend) what they were looking for on the transcript...and designed one...and it's been great. It is very basic and has served her well for the different things that require transcripts--from college admissions to scholarship applications (internal and external of the college). [Here's another post to check out more info about how I made her transcript]

SCHOLARSHIPS: What about Scholarships? Well, yes, she applied for many, many different scholarships, and got some of them. It kind of feels like a part-time job applying for all of them :) My suggestion is to start at the beginning of their senior year, as many of the scholarship deadlines are early in the fall.

GRADUATION: What about a ceremony? We are opting to not do a ceremony, as we are not a part of a homeschool group, but instead we are having a big backyard party and inviting about a million people :) (or so it seems!)

:)  Well, those are my thoughts as of today!  How about you? Any suggestions or additional  thoughts about graduating a homeschooled student?

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Heroes of History -- Billy Graham, America's Pastor -- my REVIEW

We have read many books in the YWAM Publishing's Christian Heroes Then and Now series and have enjoyed each of them, whether as read-alouds or just reading them solo. This time we had the opportunity to review one of the Heroes of History series, which is billed as "Exciting true stories of men and women who changed the world."

The book that my daughter and I got to read for this review is Billy Graham, America's Pastor. This was an especially timely book, as Billy Graham's death and beginning of his life in heaven has just occurred two months ago, so he was in the news a lot recently. We got to use this along with our regular homeschool schedule, so we were interested to try out the downloadable unit study/curriculum guide that accompanies this book.

Heroes of History

The book begins with introducing Billy Frank (as he was known as a child) and his family and life on the farm. It gives a good background on his upbringing and family life, and how he came to Christ. After high school, he got a job selling Fuller Brushes door to door as he awaited attending college. The story follows Billy throughout his college(s) career and his pathway into ministry. Readers also get a glimpse at his family life, as he married and eventually had children (ummm...possibly TMI about a reproductive health issue that he had!! just a note if you're reading the book aloud and decide to research that with your kids...maybe check it out first!) Billy's life as an evangelist and preacher took many twists and turns, working in different areas of ministry, but always, always preaching the Gospel and seeing many come to saving faith in Christ. He was linked with several political and historic figures and preached at many venues, large and small, always following what God was directing him.

Near the end of the book, readers might be surprised to read that Billy Graham has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but the reasoning behind it is amazing, Billy Graham's foresight into introducing folks to the gospel after he is gone...the quote in the book explains, "...the reason I agreed to do this is that I thought one day some little child will walk along this street and look down and say, 'Mommy, who is Billy Graham?' That mother would be able to tell her child, 'Billy Graham was a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me explain to you what the Gospel is'..." His whole life was dedicated to sharing the Gospel, and readers of this book will be able to catch that theme right away as they read the many avenues of his life that exemplified that.



As far as the book itself goes, it is a very nicely-written book, short-ish chapters which are easy to read. My 13-year old daughter loved reading the book--and is hooked on these series! She wanted to share a bit about what she thought: "I really enjoyed this book. I have heard about Billy Graham's recent death, but I hadn't realized why it was such a big deal. This book about him was descriptive about his life (but not OVERLY descriptive). He developed to be an extraordinary evangelist, and influenced many around the world. The book told about the joys and challenges in his life, and how he overcame them, not on his own, but with God."

We also utilized some of the study guide which came with the book.  There is a guide which walks homeschooling parents through how to utilize these books and the unit study materials in different aspects of their homeschool curriculum.  There are downloadable timelines, fact sheets, study questions, and more!  We used the study questions so that as she read, she would pause to answer the guided questions.  Some were things that required a little more research, others were just responses to questions about the reading.  These additional materials help the student delve deeper into the material and into vocabulary, geography, and other things related to the subject's life.



SO--no surprise--we really enjoyed this book.  Our family highly recommends the books by YWAM Publishing in the Heroes of History and other series!  If you are using them as a homeschool tool, the downloadable unit studies are definitely a great tool for you to use as well!

To read some thoughts by other homeschooling families on books from this Heroes of History series or some from the Christian Heroes Then & Now, please click on the link below!

Christian Heroes, Heroes of History & Study Guides {YWAM Publishing  Reviews}

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At home, live coding classes for kids by CodeWizardsHQ -- my REVIEW

My kids have an interest in coding and computer "stuff".  As a matter of fact, my oldest daughter plans to pursue a computer science degree in college beginning next year. My son isn't too interested :) but my younger daughter (13) is interested quite a bit and wants to become more familiar with coding so that she can be one of the programmers for her robotics team next year.  Throughout the years I have observed several different online classes on programming with my older daughter, so when we heard about CodeWizardsHQ I was interested to give their program a try with my youngest to see how an "in-person" coding class works.

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ}

Through the Homeschool Review Crew program that I am a part of, we were given the opportunity to try a one-time one hour coding class. My daughter was excited to try, though a little nervous, as it was a "live" class. The class uses GoToMeeting as its platform, so it was very easy to join in. Before the class began we had our sign-in info and did a test run with GoToMeeting to make sure that our system met the GoToMeeting requirements (for microphone and speakers), so when the class time arrived, we were all set!

When it was time for the class to begin, my daughter joined the class and the teacher welcomed her (and the other students) by name and did a little "getting to know you" and introduction of herself as well. She is very experienced, with 20 years in the web design business, and was excited to be teaching the html class that my daughter was taking.


The instructor talked a bit about html as well as the path from making the changes to the code, through the server, and then live on the internet.


She began by introducing the project that they were going to work on--making a comic with nine frames. She introduced the environment and showed them the parts that they would be using to complete this project.


The student's building of a comic began by opening a section of code that made a frame and then they had the opportunity to adjust each one by entering the code for different figures and backgrounds as well as changing the dialogue. They also learned how to upload their own pictures and use them in the comic as well.


Throughout the time that they were working on their class, the teacher was actively encouraging them and giving them tips about how to do what they were attempting successfully.  My daughter had a blast learning to do this and personalizing her comic!  Here's her final product:


Near the end of the class, the teacher showed all the students the comics that they all had made, so they could see the variety of creation just amongst the seven of them in the class. She was very encouraging and then the hour was over!

SO what did we think of it? My daughter loved it. Though it was just a one-hour introductory course and she didn't really learn to code anything, just changed some of the code a little, she had fun with it. In the regular courses there are twelve weeks of lessons, with homework in between, so I'm sure that there will be more coding taught and learned.

We (the reviewers) were able to ask a few questions of the creators, and my big question was whether or not there is support for those students doing homework in between class times. I was happy to hear that yes, there is. There is actually a chat-type section for the students to help each other, and the instructors also come online to answer questions that still remain throughout the week. This is a big advantage over some online coding programs which my children or I have experienced, where sometimes you are left just trying and trying different things, getting frustrated if you are stuck on something with no way of getting help (such as for a pre-recorded, self-grading lesson). I think that the live touch here is a great advantage.

So--what we got to see and experience, we liked! It looks like a good program for kids who want to learn to code at home (online). The live teacher might cost more, but it is a huge advantage, having an actual teacher/mentor to help the learner.  Of course, the live aspect to the class means that you cannot just tune in whenever you wish, you must sign up for a regular time and commit to being "in class" at that time to benefit from the class.  They do tape the classes, for those who might miss one, but that live element is very valuable.  If you are looking for a coding class for your child, you might want to check out CodeWizardsHQ and their variety of curricula!  They also have a Facebook page for parents who are looking for more information about this product.

Here's a little more about the program:



To read about what other reviewers thought about this program, please check out the link below!

Live Class Computer Programming for your Students {CodeWizardsHQ Reviews}


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