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Monday, July 16, 2018

Code For Teens (A Homeschool Crew Review)



My oldest daughter has always shown interest in computer programming and writing script. Unfortunately, her high school did not offer anything beyond just a required computer course, so she never had the opportunity to build upon that interest.  While Garrett has played around with programming using Scratch, that's a bit underwhelming for teenagers.

 When we were given the opportunity to review the book Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) written by Jeremy Moritz and published by Code for Teens, I hoped that it would be something that would help fuel her desire to learn.    I knew either one of two things would happen - she would either jump in hardcore and quickly lose interest or she would realize that it was indeed something she would throughout enjoy.  (You'll have to read on to find out which was the case).

About the Book

Code for Teens:  The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1) is the first book written by Jeremy Moritz and illustrated by his wife, Christine Moritz.  A homeschooling family of 6, Moritz, a long time software developer and senior software engineer, wrote the book with the hopes of students to learn computer scripting with no assistance of the parent.

The book itself is the first installment of a future series and focuses on Javascript,  a form of computer programming that allows the writer to create interactive effects that are contained withing the confines of a web browser.  This includes things such as interactive maps, animated graphics or video players that help make visiting the website a more user friendly experience.  The full color, 221page book consists of 10 chapters as well as a Forward, Introduction, A Word for Parents, and ends with a Conclusion chapter, Answer Key and a Glossary of Terms.

Each chapter helps to build a foundation that is built upon in each sequential chapter.  Students are given repetition, review and drilling as they learn through hands on work and instruction, allowing them frequent opportunities to use what they are learning in practical lessons and activities.


The writing itself is geared to hold the students interest.  The writing style is not of that of a typical textbook but instead more like a friend writing an email with detailed instructions that walk the student through accomplish something.  



How We Used It:

After reading the Word for Parents section of this book, I gave the book to Alyssa and basically told her to have fun.  That meant for the entire review period, other than asking her if she did her programming that day, I was completely hands off, as the book suggested.



I think it's safe to say, she enjoyed working through the book.

Also, as your typical annoying teenager, she had to tell me repetitively how much she enjoyed the writing style of the book.   It must be REALLY good when I'm trying to decide what type of chips to get her in the supermarket and this is the text message that I receive.


I guess, the easiest thing would let Alyssa tell you about the book herself :)

What Alyssa had to Say About It:

  " I have always liked coding so when Mom gave me this book I was excited. I felt like I raced through it going through a chapter in a week. I read the chapters, did the reviews, quizzes, and DIY's. I learned quite a bit, from what Camelcase is to how to write comments and even what '%' means. I was able to reach Ch.4 so far and can't wait to finish.

    Each Chapter contains the lesson, examples, drills, reviews and of course the quiz. All of the answers go into what's called the Work Book. This could either be online, Word or Google Docs, or on physical paper. I opted to use Google Docs since it's what's recommended. The book also recommends using Google Chrome, which I also used, and has instructions for Mac or Windows. (Because some of the keys are slightly different.) 


    The DIY's were my favorite things to do. One of the problems was about a P.E. class that needed to be divided into teams. So using the modulo, I was able to divide the sixteen students into four different teams for 4-square. 

There was one thing I always hated about school, one assignment I dreaded, 'Go home and read this chapter on this'. Everyone, including myself, would groan and complain. Textbooks in general, suck, they are boring and being able to understand what we read was difficult. This book is vastly different. Instead of reading 'blah blah earthquakes blah blah plates' you read, one of my favorite quotes on the backslash, "Some people don't trust your new friend backslash. They're probably afraid that the minute they start to get close, he'll slash them in the back! Well, relax. He's here to help!". That's only one example. There were many times I actually laughed at what was written. Even the example codes have funny parts. 

    I love the idea of coding, but as I said before, textbooks were intimidating to me. This book teaches in a way that I could actually understand, with easy to follow examples, drills and DIY's. So meaningless to say, I PHYSICALLY CAN'T WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT BOOK!!!!!! By the way I should mention all of the illustrations, at one point in Ch.4, there is a picture of doge! (I love this book. *giggles*) "
There you have it, straight from a teenager.  (Thank you Alyssa for writing that portion for me).  I'm looking forward to Garrett being a bit older and allowing him to also work through this book, as I think it will be a great primer for him as well.  I'll most likely use it with Ashleigh as well once she's old enough and shows some interest in learning to write script.

#hsreviews #CodeForTeens #computerprograming #programing #JavaScript

For more information and to purchase Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming (Volume 1), visit their website.  You can also find more information on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/CodeForTeens/

Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

Meal Planning





It's the middle of the month and that means it's time to do more grocery shopping and meal planning.  Unfortunately, this is going to be a very LONG pay period, with 19 days between this pay check and the next one.  That means that while meals will still be filling, they might not necessarily be the healthiest as we have to pinch pennies since our food budget stays the same.

There are also two meals that are a repeat from last time around.  These were meals that while I had planned, we ended up eating something else and so I still have the ingredients for these meals..

Sunday (7/15)
Italian Hogies with Chips

Monday (7/16)
Chili Dogs with Tots

Tuesday (7/17)
California Sushi Bowls (Mac and Cheese for Kids)

Wednesday (7/18)
Egyptian Night (Aish Baladi, hummus, cucumber chickpea salad, ful medames and Kofta)

Thursday (7/19)
Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken with rice

Friday (7/20)
Poor Man's Steak with Mashed Potatoes and green beans

Saturday (7/21)
Swedish Meatballs with Egg Noodles

Sunday (7/22)
Sheet Pan Chicken Grilled Cheese

Monday (7/23)
Lemon Garlic Pasta

Tuesday (7/24)
Chicken Tostadas with mexican corn and black beans

Wednesday (7/25)
Chicken piccata with zoodles

Thursday (7/26)
Slow Cooker Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with sliced baked potatoes

Friday (7/27)
Chicken bacon rice casserole with salad and broccoli

Saturday (7/28)
One Pot BBQ chicken pasta with salad

Sunday (7/29)
Biscuits and sausage gravy with fresh fruit

Monday (7/30)
Red beans and rice

Tuesday (7/31)
Beef and Broccoli Ramen with Salad

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Math Refresher for Adults (A Homeschool Crew Review)


Anyone who has read my blog for any period of time knows that math is NOT my subject. I had to repeat Algebra in high school and I barely scraped by to pass Algebra 2 my senior year.   As much as I loved the sciences, I was too scared to take chemistry and physics because I was told that I would not do well because I struggled with math.   Even as a respiratory therapist, I needed to use algebraic equations to properly set medical equipment (the Servo 900C ventilator anyone?) and there were times I was extremely intimidated having to do so, because I feel so crippled by my math abilities.

Because of this, I do worry about how I will handle teaching the kids when I'll probably be learning right beside them. While I'm not going to go trying to teach myself Trigonometry or Calculus anytime soon, there have been times that I have needed a bit of a refresher on how to work a particular style problem. In those types of cases, I am glad to have references such as Math Refresher for Adults from Math Essentials to fall back to in order to refresh (or even teach) myself.

Math Refresher for Adults was designed to help adults to master essential, foundational math skills
that they will need in their lives.  The "lessons" are short and use simple to understand language  and the purchase of the book also provides access to video lessons for even more reinforcement.

The 270 page paperback book, written by Richard W. Fisher covers general mathematics as well as pre-algebra and algebra skills. A detailed table of contents provides an easy way to look up exactly what you are needing to brush up on.

Covered Topics include:
  • Whole Numbers 
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percents
  • Geometry 
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Word Problems
  • Pre-Algebra and Algebra
The final 45 pages of the book include solutions for all problems, as well as a glossy of mathematical terms, a list of important symbols used in math that many might not be familiar with, and finally a few various helpful charts such as Square roots.


While not actually lessons per say, each page contains a section of Helpful Hints to help guide, step by step, how to solve the problem.   Online video tutorials for a more in depth audio/visual instruction are available on a supplied website, however, these videos were designed to use with previously published books.  The information is there to watch, but you will have to search for it as there's no quick access directly to the section of this particular book.

How I Used It:

While the book provides room to write in, I opted instead to write the problems and my work out on loose paper.  I figured this would be smart so that when I forget once again how to do a particular problem, I can again revisit it and work the problems again without having to erase or already have the answers.    So with my paper and pencil, I would retreat to my bedroom and work through a page or two of problems.

I'll admit, I started from the beginning, which was just basic whole number addition.  Granted, it wasn't 1+1=2.  The first lesson starts with multiple digit column style addition.  I can do those pretty well (although I will admit to using my fingers from time to time haha).

Best way to start when you stink at math?  The Very Basics ;)
 From the first set of problems, I've just slowly worked my way through the pages.  While some may want to skip around and only refresh on things they struggle with, I personally feel a bit better easing myself into the waters, so to speak. I'm honestly am that intimidated by math..



I'm actually glad that I started from the beginning, because some of the authors ways of doing math are much different from the way I learned it in school many many years ago.  For example, in the division section, using a problem such as 93 divided by 6.  For me, I would have come up with a quotient that was a decimal - in this case, 15.5.   (6 goes into 93 a total of 15 times with the three remaining, put a decimal point behind the 15, drop the 3, add a 0 to make it 30, 6 divided into 30 bein 5 for a final answer of 15.5).

 However, the method this particular book does early in the book has you simply making a notation that there are three remaining numbers.  Later in the book when decimals are covered, the old method of solving to zero that I learned in school is reintroduced. And while the Reminder Notation is definitely a simple way of doing it, I was REALLY glad I had worked through the book in order or I would have been completely confused when I saw an answer of 15 r3.


Overall, this is a very nice reference to have on hand. I can see it coming in handy when I need to refresh myself on skills when preparing for lessons with the kids.  However, my husband flipped through it a few times and commented that this book would be extremely useful when prepping for the ASVAB test, as it covered much of the same type of math skills that are covered on the military test. 

For more information about Math Refresher for Adults and the other math instruction books offered by Math Essentials, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/math.essentials/.

Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bible Study Guide For All Ages (A Homeschool Crew Review)



Very often, I find it difficult to find a good Bible curriculum for the kids that is age appropriate, both kids like, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg, as well as sound in the scriptures. We've tried various different curriculum with the kids with various degrees of success.  There have been a few that the kids liked but that really didn't go quite in depth as I would have liked.  There has been one that Ashleigh liked but Garrett didn't.



When we had the opportunity to review Bible Study Guide for All Ages, I had hoped that my search would be over.  With lessons available for students in Kindergarten all the way to 6th Grade, it looked very promising.  We elected to start with the Intermediate (3rd & 4th grade) level for this review, and the company was generous enough to include a second set of pages so that both kids could work on the study together.


The Bible Study Guide for All Ages was designed to teach students to know what's in the Bible so that they can actually use the Bible in their own lives.  This study of the bible is completed over the course of 416 lessons, learning both Old and New Testament each year using a timelines and maps to understand the historical sequence as well as the geography of the Bible.  By the time students complete all of the lessons, they will have covered the Bible in it's entirety, rather than focusing on particular stories.  Instead, students focus on applying what they have learned in applications in their everyday interactions throughout the rest of their lives.


For this review, we received:

2 Copies of the Intermediate Level Student Pages

1 Set of the Intermediate Level Teacher Key

Wall Maps and Timeline set

1 Wall Map & Time Line Label Book 

1 Set of Bible Book Summary Cards 


When our package from Bible Study Guide for All Ages, I had to admit, I was pretty shocked how much was included.  As mentioned, the company was very generous and had given us a second set of the Student pages so that both Ashleigh and Garrett could each have their own set.  These are the worksheets that contain the activities that the students work on.

We had elected to receive the Intermediate Student Pages, designed for grades 3-4th.  However, Bible Study Guide for All Ages has options for Beginners (PreK/3yrs- K), Primary (1st and 2nd), as well as Advanced (5th-6th). There are also options available for teens and adults but these materials were not offered for review at this time.

The curriculum consists of 416 lessons which are broken up into four years consisting of 4 quarters each with 104 lessons each year.  Pages are purchased by quarter which includes 26 lessons each.  For Quarter 1, We were given the pages for lessons 1-26.

Throughout the course of the Unit, students are introduced to a mixture of both the Old and New Testament.  For the first quarter lessons, students learn the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50),  the story of Daniel, and about Jesus' early life and 1st year of ministry (Matthew 1:4-11, Mark 1:3-19, Luke e1:5-11, John 1-5).

Each lesson is one page, front and back.  This worked great for us to fit into our schedule twice a week.  We could work on the front on Tuesdays and then work on the back of the page on Thursdays.

The pages are glued together and are easy to tear away from the pack, which would probably be very helpful if you were using these with a Sunday School or Vacation Bible School class.  However, for us, it was easier for me to staple the pages together to keep them all together.

Each lesson includes a large variety of activities including memory work, map work, time line activities, discussion questions, as well as games and art activities to help reinforce what they student has learned.  Lessons also include review questions to help the student remember the previous lesson.  Many activities require special actions - students must read the instructions to properly answer the activity.  For example, students might be asked to use a specific color to mark an answer.


In addition to the Student Pages, we were also given the companion  - While not absolutely necessary to teach the Bible study, it provides the answers for each of the Student Pages for Lessons 1-26 as well as additional resources to use with each lesson.

Like the student pages, each lesson is printed on front and back of one page per lesson.  Teachers pages show a markup of the student page with the correct answers shown, as well as an addtional grey area around the border that includes timeline instructions, helpful information that can be shared with the student, and additional scriptures from other books of the Bible that re-iterate or expand on what the students learned in the lesson.

This particular item came in extremely handy for figuring out where to place the labels we were using for the wall maps and timeline.    Each lesson had a section that specifically said for Map 1, use these labels, for  Map 3, use these labels, then place these particular labels on this particular section of the timeline.  I found this extremely helpful.


We were fortunate enough that we were also given the Wall Maps and Timeline set for review.  This is a set of three maps and a two piece timeline poster that is displayed on the wall.  By using the timeline and maps, students can understand how all the events of the Bible fit together and where they took place.  The size of the time line is 76" x 25". The sizes of the three maps are 38" x 25", 19" x 25" and 19" x 25".


We have a hallway that the students have to walk through several times a day, which meant the perfect place to hang our maps/timeline.  (The two smaller maps are on the adjacent wall).  These maps can be used for the entire 416 lesson program.   





This small three ring binder contains instructions and printed keys for the maps and time lines as well as the cardstock labels to be used on them for the first 104 lessons in Unit 1.  These labels are to be cut out as needed and then placed on the timeline or map using a reusable adhesive such as tack-putty.  The labels can also be laminated for longevity.


Each label is marked to let you know what lesson you will use them with.  These marks are located on the left side of each page and are easy to spot.


Also included is key pages for both the timeline and the maps, both in a visual format (as seen below) as well as a list that shows the correct date where the label belongs as well as the lesson number for each label to help quickly identify and place labels.


These large full color  8.5" x 11" cards contain summaries of all 66 books of the Bible.  These cards use pictures to help students to recognize the key points of each book of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  



An explanation of the key points of the book are described on the back of each card, along with discussion questions that can be asked to the student while they are looking at the front of the card.


How We Used It:

Since it is summer, I have been using this curriculum with both Garrett and Ashleigh twice a week.  (Once summer is over, we will try to do a full lesson per day, twice a week).  We work on the front page of the worksheet on Tuesdays and then complete the lesson as well as adding to our timeline and maps on Thursday.  Both kids take turned reading the scriptures for the day's lesson and then we all work together to work through the sheets and discussion questions.  


The sheets are simple enough and the text large enough for Garrett to read independently.  Each half of a lesson takes us about 30 minutes to complete (mostly due to Garrett reading) which has us spending a good hour a week in God's word.  The comic book style graphics are really cute and the kids enjoy them, and each frame is numbered so the kids can keep track of what order to progress to, so they are less likely to work them out of order.

Ashleigh has really enjoyed doing these studies, more so than Garrett, although Garrett likes them well enough.  Ashleigh use to get upset because I have my private Bible study in my room at night and I tell her that it is my alone time with God.  Now, Ashleigh has her own time with God and she's really enjoying that.  I hope that it is a habit that will continue with her and that she will enjoy it as much as I do as she gets older.


I really liked that the "APPLY IT" questions, which are designed to have the kids take the information they learned in the lesson and apply it to their own lives, are open ended questions that make them think about the answers.  Simple yes or no doesn't cut it, they actually have to think about it. For example, one of our questions was "Jason and his friends were skating and Jason's little sister was with them.  She fell down and scraped her hand.  Tell the rest of the story.".    This particular lesson focused on caring and helping others, so the kids were expected to answer along the lines that Jason was kind to his sister, helped bandage up her scraps, dried her tears if she was crying, and generally comforted her.   In that same lesson, the kids were also asked to write down the name of someone who was feeling sad or alone and then think about what they could do to make that person feel better.   The kids picked Grandmaw (actually, my ex husband's grandmother whom we are extremely close to) and called her and talked to her, which made her day - she's 93 and cannot see and spends most of her days alone in her home.

We have really enjoyed using this curriculum. For starters, it goes way beyond just basic Bible stories.  As each lesson builds upon the others, the kids are truely learning the material and not just the "feel good" stuff.    And with each quarter costing roughly 20 dollars for both kids and the teacher's guide, it's a program that I can see us continuing with even after we complete the first 26 lessons.  (Note:  There is a package to purchase the entire first year for a deep discount if that is preferred.)

#HSReviews #BibleStudy #HomeschoolBibleLessons


For more information about Bible Study Guide for All Ages, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:

Also, be sure to read the reviews of my fellow Crewbies to find out more about the other level studies available.
Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}

Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Picket Project (Post 6)


I figured it was about time for another Picket Update, as each time I update, she's changed so much.


Each week, we get closer and closer to the day Picket will be fully weaned.  She is still drinking her cups of milk but tends to eat less each time, especially in the mornings.  We make sure she has a good amount of hay, both timothy and orchard, in her feeding cage and on the floor of her hutch so that she can eat throughout the day.   She's also given a large variety of veggies (and sometimes fruits like bananas) along with rabbit chow to provide extra nutrition in addition to her hay. 


Bok Choy, Sweet Potato, Grape Tomatoes, Broccoli and rabbit chow
This may not look like a whole lot (one leaf of Bok Choy cut up, maybe 1 ounce of broccoli, two tomatoes and not even an 8th of a small potato, plus a quarter of a Dixie cup of rabbit chow), I want her to eat more of the hay then anything else.   Also, we have to be very cautious as to what she gets to eat, as food higher in calcium (spinach, kale, even the broccoli we give her) can cause a build up of calcium crystals in her bladder, leading to a painful condition called bladder sludge.  So we watch what she eats, makes sure she's using the bathroom and drinks water.  

Picket's feeding setup while she enjoys her lunch.
She did not seem to like the 4th of July festivities this week and was extremely clingy both Wednesday night following the fireworks and most of Thursday.  By Thursday evening, she had begun to settle back down to normal and was wanting to play and "binky" like she typically does but beyond that, she was on my chest laying down almost constantly for those 24 hours.

A clingy Picket still a bit spooked
Much more calm so long as she can cuddle
Something that does seem to have a mind of it's own is Picket's ears.  Now, the reason jackrabbits are called Jackrabbits is because of their ears - they reminded people of the ears of a donkey (jackass) and so originally they were called Jackass Rabbits.  Luckily that got shortened to just Jackrabbit.

Picket's ears are like mini satellite dishes. They are extremely long and flat and she can swivel them in all sorts of directions to listen to various sounds. They also are very vascular, with a whole network of blood vessel running through them.  These ears help keep her body temperature regulated - if she's cold, the ears act almost like a thermal blanket that she keeps close to her body, laying them over her back to warm her.  If she's hot, she sticks them up and they radiate the heat away from her body.   Since it was 108 today and our AC was struggling to keep the house cool, her ears have been up most of the day.

Picket keeping her ears up to help cool off during the heat wave
Last night, we had a sad event happen though.  A friend of mine called me around midnight.  She had been driving on base and had a jackrabbit run into her car. Knowing that we were taking care of Picket, she called me up hoping maybe I could come help the poor bunny.  We got there but unfortunately, the bunny wasn't in good shape and it passed. However, it solidified in both mine and Charlie's head that we wouldn't be releasing Picket to the desert after all.


For one thing, she has become way to domesticated.  This may be due to the fact we have hand reared her since she was only a few days old or it may be because she knows she's got a good thing going and doesn't want to give it up.. LOL   Everyone asks if we're going to keep her and I tell them all the same thing -  It's up to her.  She's made it very clear she likes it where she's at as she interacts with everyone, playing and cuddling and jumping on everyone. She gives lots of kisses and loves to be petted and have her ears scratched.


But, there's no way after seeing that poor jackrabbit last night that we could ever allow that to be her fate.  We already knew that jackrabbits in the wild have a low life expectancy (2 years) due to parasites, disease, predators, and of course, cars.   Of course, this is much longer in captivity, especially with proper nutrition and healthcare.



Because of this and the fact that she has become very tame, we have decided that release is not in the future for our girl.  This wasn't our original intention - we had originally planned to wean her and release her.   Instead, we will be shopping around for a veterinarian who is comfortable providing care for her, including getting her vaccinated for myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease as well as having her spayed.

Picket enjoys sitting here listening to music on my Amazon Echo
 So that's where things stand currently with Picket.. Next update, I'll have to make a new banner for the posts since she's not Picket the AC and Music loving Jackrabbit  ;) 

And in case your wondering - she likes Imagine Dragons.

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