Wednesday, October 24

Homeschool on the Range



About Yvie
With 20+ years experience in education and counseling, I have a passion for helping other homeschool moms!

I've worked in elementary, middle, and high schools in both a teaching and school counseling capacity. For over ten years, I have been homeschooling our two boys - one gifted and one special needs - and understand the struggles that many moms face.

I teach blended online classes for high school language arts and history, as well as offer school counseling assistance, at Sparks Academy.


About the Homeschool On the Range
After years of constant travel with work, our family has settled onto a small acreage in the country and is looking forward to practicing the art of simplicity.

We homeschool our boys and are learning about homesteading, and we will be sharing our adventures here.  We utilize a combination of Charlotte Mason and unit studies methods, and love reading aloud together - even with teens! 

Here you'll find homeschool posts (mostly aimed at middle and high school age, as that's what we have), animal husbandry and gardening posts, recipes, and the occasional book review.


Welcome to our little slice of heaven!

 

Vacationing in Cabo - 2017                     Teaching an Online Class - 2021

Email to grlrunner82 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Want to Guest Post?

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Upon article submission, we will review and determine if it is a good fit for the blog.  If accepted, we will schedule and send you the date it will be published.


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Monday, October 1

Forbrain for Speech Therapy {Review}

This review was originally published November 2017 on our Gypsy Road site.



Our son struggles with the basic skills of speech, memory, and concentration.  We’ve been through all kinds of therapy, with minimal improvement, but the struggles stubbornly remain.  Forbrain (Sound for Life, LTD) developed the bone conduction headset to help with speech and language difficulties, brain stimulation, auditory processing disorder, reading issues, add, and ADHD.  Given the opportunity to try it out, we lunged!


About the Headset
The headset consists of a microphone, two bone conduction transducers (the part that goes next to the ear) and the dynamic filter.  (The dynamic filter is the box that has the on/off button, volume control, and a light.)  It also comes with a quick-start guide, which is handy.  It’s very easy to charge up – we plugged in the USB cable to the computer and let it sit for a few hours.  There’s a red ‘charging’ light that turns off once it’s fully charged ; that light becomes blue when the device is in use.  One of my favorite parts about the kit, however, is the hard-shelled, zippered carrying case that makes it easy for us to take it with us everywhere (all of the pieces and the guide fit into it). 

The headset can be used for exercises such as:
  • Reading aloud
  • Dictation
  • Narration
  • Recitation (especially fun reciting poems)
  • Memorization
  • Singing
  • Dialog (role playing with toys, mine did this with their dragons and legos)
  • Story telling







What is Bone Conduction?

Bone conduction is the conveyance of sound though bones in the skull to the inner ear.  When you speak while wearing the device, you are hearing yourself loudly in your head.  It gives excellent auditory feedback to the user, and is particularly useful for those with speech issues who may struggle to hear how they sound.

One thing I liked about the headset was that, while he was getting a boosted auditory signal of his own voice, it wasn’t blocking out or muffling the sounds of those around him.  He was still able to carry on a conversation with others.

Forbrain is recommended for use as a daily tool for reading, speaking, attending in class or for general use for six to ten weeks.
  • 10 minutes a day for little ones
  • 15 minutes a day for ages 5-15
  • 20 minutes a day for teens and adults
  • 30 minutes a day for seniors

Our Use & Thoughts
He used it for the recommended amount – a mere fifteen minutes a day!  I know, you’re thinking that this isn’t enough time and it should be worn for longer, but in this case, more isn’t better.  Wearing it too long can lead to headaches and fatigue.  Results really do appear with just a few short minutes each day – consistency is really the key.

He has struggled with speech issues since he began to talk at age three….yes, age three…a bit late to the game.  We’ve seen several different speech therapists, and each has worked hard to help improve his speech, but his issues are not your ‘classic’ ones.  He has apraxia of speech, and really struggles with certain sounds…such as the short /A/ in his name…which makes it very difficult for others to have a conversation with him.  We have tried all sorts of techniques, but he doesn’t seem to be able to hear how he is pronouncing that sound.  This device really opened his eyes to how he is saying that /A/, and while it did not “cure” the issue during the review period, he did make great strides just by the fact that he is now recognizing how his version of that sound differs.  I consider that progress.

Additional Points
  • The headset retails for $299.  That’s a steep price, but if you’re paying out of pocket for speech therapy (like we were before it became too expensive), and you see results from it, then that’s really not much.  Auditory processing issues are difficult to tackle, and this looks like it will get us over a crucial ‘hump’ so that we can progress with his therapy.
  • Some sort of pre / post-test from the company would be a nice addition.  To be honest, I’m not sure how they’d do that from afar, but it’d be nice to have some concrete results that your money had been well-spent.
Get Social!
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/forbrainLTD
Twitter : https://twitter.com/forbrainheadset
LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/company/forbrain---retrain-the-way-you-process-information


See what others are saying about Forbrain at the Homeschool Review Crew!




Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}Crew Disclaimer

Let's Go Geography {Review}

This review was originally published September 2017 on our Gypsy Road site.

While we enjoy travelling around the USA as part of hubby’s job, we’ve never had the opportunity to explore beyond its borders.  World travel is something that fascinates the children, as it does most children, because they are interested in various cultures and how people are the same and different.  We can’t jump on a trans-Atlantic flight, but we CAN use programs such as this homeschool geography course from Let’s Go Geography to bring the world into our homeschool!  Lately, we’ve been using their downloadable curriculum to explore countries from every corner!

Let’s Go Geography is a three-year voyage around all six inhabited continents – each one is touched upon each year.  It is a subscription curriculum geared toward elementary-aged children, but we were able to tweak it a bit to make it interesting to our middle schooler, too.  (We prefer to study history and geography together.)  Subscriptions are offered by the semester or by the year.  A full year includes thirty-six weeks of lessons (as the average school year is thirty-six weeks long).  They are delivered to your inbox weekly, or you have the option of downloading all of them after signing up.  As our internet is option spotty, we opted for the latter.  It was nice to see everything that was coming up, and where they would be travelling, from the get-go.

As an example of the variety of places visited, for the first semester, we visited the Northeast US, Hawaii, Canada, Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize, Greenland, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.  If you choose to follow the (probably much easier) weekly inbox downloads, then you simply click on the link each week, download the materials, and go!

Each lesson includes map work, learning the basic country facts, listening to music, watching videos (like a virtual tourist), doing crafts and coloring pages, reading books, and learning about the flag.  The books are referenced by call number (though honestly, I would also prefer that the publisher cite BOTH the call number and title, because then we’d be able to request materials online at our library ahead of time).  The crafts do not require fancy materials, but instead use basics that you have laying around the house, such as plastic cups, paper towel tubes, crayons, and glue.  There are printable coloring pages and activities, as well as passport documents to put into your downloadable passport once the country study has been completed.

Before starting the lessons, we printed each child a passport, where he would keep a record of the countries ‘visited.’  We started with the Northeast US, partly because it was the first lesson and partly because we’ve been there many times and wanted to see how the lesson lined up with our own experiences.  The boys were not terribly impressed at the depth of coverage, but it did set off an entire morning of “remember when…” conversations about our trips to the area.  Given that reaction, I decided to allow each of them to pick a country they were interested in from the remainder of the year, and we started skipping around.  While this curriculum is designed to be used in order, it is set up in a way that makes it completely feasible to skip around without issue.

For our next stop, we hit Finland, home of their uncle’s ancestors, and “a really pretty place.”  While, as a teacher, I must admit that the depth of information and setup was identical to that of the Northeast US, this lesson was much more interesting to them, and I can only ascertain that it is because we have never visited Finland.  They enjoyed the virtual tours through the video clips, as well as getting to make their own reindeer. 

Then, we jumped over to China, where we learned about the Forbidden City, walked on the Great Wall of China, went underground to see the Terracotta Warriors, and made our own Chinese New Year dragons.  Once again, they enjoyed ‘visiting’ and touring the country via the video clips (which are hosted through YouTube).  By the third country, my middle schooler was feeling a bit underwhelmed…but then again, this is not designed for middle school-aged children.  I gave him a research project to do about the country and had him report back to us – and he appreciated the challenge.

Every nine weeks, there is a review lesson that goes back and covers all of the things learned in the previous nine weeks.  This includes map work, flag matching, coloring pages, and basic geography (such as latitude & longitude).  There were no crafts this week.  I think having the review is a good idea because it reinforces that knowledge.  Also worth noting is that once every nine weeks, there is a ‘break lesson,’ meaning that there is no lesson offered and students are to take a break.  So, essentially, this curriculum is only thirty-two lessons, not thirty-six.
The publisher recommends creating a binder for each child and then storing the lessons and printables in the binder, so that you have a ‘trip around the world’ at the end of the year.  They provide printable tabs to divide it up by continent, and you can put the continent map and ‘flags of {the continent}” page in the front of each divider section.  (Each country also comes with its own map.) 

It is recommended that the curriculum be used one hour per week.  Personally, I do not think that this is enough instruction to call this product an actual “curriculum,” and would be more apt to label it as a “supplement” to a geography curriculum.  That said, it’s a fun, hands-on supplement that will make young learners more apt to remember the things they are studying.

Check out the link below for more information about Let’s Go Geography, and see what others are saying at the Homeschool Review Crew!


Crew DisclaimerLet’s Go Geography {Reviews}

Heirloom Audio Adventures {Review]

This review was originally published September 2017 on our Gypsy Road site.

Heirloom Audio Productions produces wonderful professional audio dramas that bring history to life for the entire family.   As a travelling family, we enjoy listening to audiobooks regularly, and we have been long time Heirloom Audio enthusiasts.  We had the chance to review Captain Bayley's Heir, along with its study guide and bonuses, and it was an aural delight! 

It’s based on the G.A.Henty book – Captain Bayley's Heir – in which Frank Norris, accused of theft and unable to prove his innocence, leaves for excitement and adventure in the California gold fields of 1850s America. He sails the Atlantic, braves a storm while working as a barge man on the Mississippi, survives an Indian attack while crossing the plains with a caravan, strikes it rich in the California gold mines, and is finally able to clear his name and return to England to claim his rightful inheritance. 

While we expected most of the book to be set in America during the 1850s, we were surprised to find that over half of it is set in England.  It is a story of God’s grace, of honoring our parents, and of learning forgiveness.  There were many twists and surprises that kept us guessing how it would all end!

G. A. Henty was a prolific author in the 1800s who wrote many books in the historical fiction genre. Henty wrote about true historical characters and events, and added a fictional young person to the narrative.  Henty’s books are about men being men, and boys learning to be men. This is stated to be for ages six through adult, but my youngest was still a bit confused on some of the details, so occasionally we’d stop the story and talk about it.

We are history lovers around here, so reviews like this are exciting for our entire family. Listening to the two-CD set in the car was a simple thing for us, and it's ideal for giving a richer understanding of history.  We listened to this audiobook right after returning from a trip to California – where we checked out historical Sutter’s Fort and learned a bit about the California Gold Rush.  What a way to get back in the moment!  
  
Heirloom Audio Productions are very professionally done - both the acting and the background work - and are a delight to listen to…even the one child that usually steers away from audiobooks was loving it!  As we own every Heirloom book, my boys have figured out their ‘pattern,’ and take great pleasure in being the first to guess what the next release will be.  Our clue at the end of this book was “Battle of Hastings…”  Can you guess what the next one will be?  (Scroll down, if you’re just not up to guessing.)
The Live the Adventure Club offers many exclusive extras to augment your listening experience, including a soundtrack, a follow-along e-book, and chapter quizzes and activities.  There are also coloring pages, crossword puzzles, hands-on crafts, and a poster.  The parents’ section of the page offers up daily inspiration, educational supplements, podcasts, movie reviews, and background information on G.A. Henty.  
One of the biggest educational assets of the Live the Adventure Club is the Study Guide & Conversation Starter.  It has forty pages of chapter-by-chapter comprehension questions, discussion starters, and vocabulary words.  Also included is some map work, details of this historical era, and three Bible study guides that focus on the main character morals of the story.
Finally, the Club hosts several old textbooks (we're talking 18th and 19th century old) and Old-Timey radio shows.  The radio shows were a wonderful surprise to stumble upon as our family LOVES listening to the Radio Classics channel!  (The image above is all of the shows just under the WWII heading...and there are many more topics!)

Captain Bayley's Heir is an audiobook we'll listen to many times, and we're excited to see that Heirloom has more productions in the works. Not only are your kids learning to love history, but they're also discovering the strong moral character that drove great men to do extraordinary things.

See what others are saying about Captain Bayley's Heir at the Homeschool Review Crew!
Crew DisclaimerCaptain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
*Wulf the Saxon

Innovator's Tribe {Review}

This review was originally published November 2017 on our Gypsy Road site.


As our out-of-the-box son matures into his teen years, we’re trying new approaches to schoolwork…one of which is the self-directed, hands-off approach.  When we were offered the chance to try out Thinking Like an Engineer, from Innovator’s Tribe, I knew that this would be right up his alley…and it is!
Innovator’s Tribe actually offers three courses, currently, including Thinking Like an Architect, Thinking Likean Engineer, and Thinking Like a Carpenter.  Each comes with a “mini-course,” Thinking Like an Innovator, which is designed to inspire and encourage students to learn how to thinking creatively and become problem-solvers.  This mini-course primes students for the coursework that is to come, and includes its own set of challenges and projects.

Following the completion of the mini-course, he dove right into Thinking Like an Engineer!  The course is divided into four main sections : What’s an Engineer, Intro to 3D Design, Rollercoasters, and Bridges.  In the first section, students are introduced to real-world engineering challenges and encouraged to become problem-solvers around the house.

The lessons in this course are given in a powerpoint-type format, and include videos for students to watch that introduce and reinforce concepts.  Each lesson is about ten minutes long, with additional videos ranging anywhere from five minutes to forty-five minutes.  The course moves quickly enough to keep the attention of teenagers, but not so fast as for them to get lost.

One of the activities from the first section is a challenge to build a structure that will support a stack of books – but you can only use one sheet of paper and two feet of masking tape!  I have to admit that I was a bit dubious as to how on earth this would work, but he surprised me by building a structure held TWENTY-SIX books!  This momma was blown away!  (And, based on photos from the lesson, other students had built much stronger structures.)

In the second section, students download the software and learn the basics of computer-aided design.  Then, they use that knowledge in the third and fourth sections.  While we’ve just begun the section on roller coasters, my son is rapidly progressing with his computer designs and is excited about creating structures of his own design.  My husband works in a field that requires him to use CAD on a regular basis, so he was happy to have a little father-son time working with the program.

One of the things that I like about these videos is that they introduce science concepts (like potential and kinetic energy) as well as the corresponding math concepts.  Your student does NOT need to be able to do the engineering math.  The lessons simply introduce the concepts and formulas and show real-world applications for them.

In the final section of the course, students learn about the history of bridge building, including some disasters.  Again, they learn some science and math concepts to go along with bridge engineering, and they are taught in an applied sense.  Students are then challenged to build their own suspense bridge using only cardboard, string, tape, and craft sticks.  Being as our son is a craft scavenger…always repurposing trash…he is greatly anticipating this project!

COURSE DESCRIPTION
This is an online, self-paced course (not live) that teaches about engineering and its applications.  The lessons are completely taught online, and are interactive, so that you (the parent / teacher) can have a break to work with other kids.  There are several hands-on activities with each lesson, including design challenges, building challenges, and an exercise journal.  There is also a free download of the design software, which is yours to keep even after the 18-month course period has expired.

COURSE CURRICULUM
  • Introduction to Engineering 
  • Introduction to 3D Design (tools of modern design) 
  • Engineering Rollercoasters! 
  • Engineering Bridges 
  • Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World) 
  • Thinking Like an Engineer - Course Conclusion

A FEW NOTES
  • You only need to purchase the course once, and it can be used by all of the children in the household during the 18-month access period.
  • Each course (Architect, Engineer, and Carpenter) comes with a mini-course, titled Thinking Like an Innovator.
  • Courses are designed for grade 6-12.
  • There are no grades; however, there is a course journal for accountability.
  • Course software runs on both Mac and Windows.
  • Customer service responds within 24 hours, and even faster during business hours.
  • Courses are priced at $149 and offer 35 hours (or ¼ credit) of instruction.

​See what others are saying about Innovators Tribe at the Homeschool Review Crew!

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Wulf the Saxon audiobook {Review}

This review was originally published February 2018 on our Gypsy Road site.

Heirloom Audio Productions produces wonderful professional audio dramas that bring history to life for the entire family.   As a travelling family, we enjoy listening to audiobooks regularly, and we have been long time Heirloom Audio enthusiasts.  We had the chance to review Wulf the Saxon, along with its study guide and bonuses, and it was an aural delight! 

It’s based on the G.A.Henty book – Wulf the Saxon– in which Wulf, a teenaged Saxon, is learning to be a respected landowner.  When Wulf and his friend, Harold, find themselves shipwrecked on the shores of Normandy in the year 1065, a desperate struggle for the throne of England begins. In a series of events that change the course of history, Wulf finds himself in a bitter war with the Welsh on a battlefield outside the village of Hastings.  The Battle of Hastings comes alive in this story straight from the Middle Ages!

To be honest, this isn't an era of history that I'm in love with, so I wasn't sure what to expect from the book.  There's a lot of history on the unification of England, as well as the Saxons versus the Normans.  The quality, however, is superb!  When the Saxons shipwreck, the audio is so well done that it feels like you're actually in the ocean with them!

The way I see it, there are two real problems with these audio books.  First, if you're the driver, then it's really easy to get caught up in the story and kind of zone out on the driving...or maybe that's just me.  Secondly, unless you have a long car trip ahead of you, you're going to reach your destination and then want to sit in the car until the story ends just to hear the rest of it.  It's kind of like when "American Pie" comes on the radio, and you have to wait through the last two verses before getting out of the car....

We are history lovers around here, so reviews like this are exciting for our entire family. Listening to the two-CD set in the car was a simple thing for us, and it's ideal for giving a richer understanding of history.  The boys are really into ancient history, including the medieval times, and listening to this led into a trip down memory lane from when we went to Medieval Times!
When we arrived at home, the boys were still lost back in the middle ages.  They immediately set to work creating weaponry and shields so that they could recreate the Battle of Hastings!

About the Author & Production Company
G. A. Henty was a prolific author in the 1800s who wrote many books in the historical fiction genre. Henty wrote about true historical characters and events, and added a fictional young person to the narrative.  Henty’s books are about men being men, and boys learning to be men. This is stated to be for ages six through adult, but my youngest was still a bit confused on some of the details, so occasionally we’d stop the story and talk about it.
  
Heirloom Audio Productions are very professionally done - both the acting and the background work - and are a delight to listen to…even the one child that usually steers away from audiobooks was loving it!  As we own every Heirloom book, my boys have figured out their ‘pattern,’ and take great pleasure in being the first to guess what the next release will be.  Our clue at the end of this book was “Battle of Agincourt on St. Crispin's Day…”  Can you guess what the next one will be?  (Scroll down, if you’re just not up to guessing.)
The adventures are available as physical CD sets (which is our preference) or downloadable for easy digital access.  In addition to the CDs, Heirloom offers listeners its Live the Adventure Club. The Live the Adventure Club offers many exclusive extras to augment your listening experience, including a soundtrack, a follow-along e-book, and chapter quizzes and activities.  There are also coloring pages, crossword puzzles, hands-on crafts, and a poster.  The parents’ section of the page offers up daily inspiration, educational supplements, podcasts, movie reviews, and background information on G.A. Henty.   

One of the biggest educational assets of the Live the Adventure Club is the Study Guide & Conversation Starter.  It has forty pages of chapter-by-chapter comprehension questions, discussion starters, and vocabulary words.  Also included is some map work, details of this historical era, and three Bible study guides that focus on the main character morals of the story.  Currently, there is not a study guide available for Wulf the Saxon, but there will eventually be one.  All of the other audio adventures already have study guides available.
Finally, the Club hosts several old textbooks (we're talking 18th and 19th century old) and Old-Timey radio shows.  The radio shows were a wonderful surprise to stumble upon as our family LOVES listening to the Radio Classics channel!  (The image above is all of the shows just under the WWII heading...and there are many more topics!)

Wulf the Saxon is an audiobook we'll listen to many times, and we're excited to see that Heirloom has more productions in the works. Not only are your kids learning to love history, but they're also discovering the strong moral character that drove great men to do extraordinary things.

See what others are saying about Wulf the Saxon at the Homeschool Review Crew!

(answer : At Agincourt)
Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}Crew Disclaimer