Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Math Whizz (A Homeschool Crew Review)

When I was in school, I really struggled with math.  I always excelled in English and in Science, but numbers and formulas have always eluded me.  Even today, I have to rely on a calculator or apps on my phone to figure out equations that require math.  Because of this, I fear that my struggles with math will carry on to my children because I don't have the proper foundations in my own knowledge to help them build their own, causing them years of frustration.  I often worry that if they fail to understand important skills early on, they will struggle with other concepts that build upon those skills.  

For the last few weeks, the kids have been using  Math-Whizz  from Whizz Education.  Designed as an online math
tutoring system, Math-Whizz helps to first identify gaps in a student's mathematical foundations and then helps to fix those gaps in math learning.   For this review, we were given a 12 month subscription to Math-Whizz for both Ashleigh and Garrett. 

Math-Whizz is designed for ages 5-13 years old and is tailored to identify your child's particular math knowledge so that the program can then providing the right lessons at the right time and in the right order to improve math learning and understanding. 

Getting started with the program was fairly simple.  After creating an account for both Ashleigh and Garrett, they were each asked to take an assessment that gauged what they knew.  These assessments took roughly 20-30 minutes for the kids to complete.  Fortunately, they could take a break from the testing and pick up where they left off if they got overwhelmed.  

Ashleigh and Garrett are both at different levels when it comes to where their learning gaps are.  Because of this, they were both given different lessons to work on.  Garrett needed to work on his multiplication tables, which I already knew was where he was struggling while Ashleigh struggles with measurements like telling time and counting money. Once the assessments for both kids were completed, Math-Whizz then provided tutoring lessons based on what their assessment results showed. 

I really liked the set up of how the lessons were designed on this program.   The kids log into their account and are brought to their dashboard where they can select the tutor and start practicing.  Students are encouraged to use the program at least 30 minutes a week.  

We tried to use the program at least 15 minutes a day each day and the kids often would do more than an hour each week.   Usually in that 15 minutes, they could finish a full lesson as well as the skills test that followed.  

As they work thru lessons, they receive incentive coins as well as bonus coins for time spent.  These coins can be spent on virtual trinkets and pets the student can purchase in the shop to decorate their room.

Garrett was super excited to see Halloween Decorations in his study 
The lessons themselves are very interactive.  The concept is shown and then students doing various activities that help them gain understanding as to what is being taught.  Here is one of Garrett's lessons on Properties of Numbers where he was having to skip count backwards.  

Once the student answers at least four questions correctly, they are given a skip button (the fast forward button under the OK on the screenshot above).  This allows the student to skip the remaining questions for that lesson and go straight to the test.  This might be great for some students, but I'm a "mean mom" and did not allow the kids to use this function and instead made them complete all the activities just so I knew for sure they understood the concepts they were learning. 

Ashleigh working on reading an analog clock
Both kids really have enjoyed using Math-Whizz and I think it has quickly become a favorite math supplement for the both of them.  I really like the fact that I can log into my parent account and view reports for both kids to see what lessons they worked on, how well they did on those lessons, and what progress they have made overall.   These reports show that both kids have made improvements on the math skills that they have worked on and I can indeed see how using this program will them to fill in the gaps in their learning. 

This is definitely a program that we will keep using in the future.

For more information about Math-Whizz from Whizz Education, connect with them on the following social media sites:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Truth and Training Thursday

It's Thursday which means it's AWANA night.  Ashleigh had been since for the last two weeks with some crud that was going around on base which caused her to have to miss two weeks and then Alyssa was sick with the same thing last week, so she missed as well.  Thankfully both girls were feeling much better and were able to make it to meeting this week.

The them for the week was "When I Grow Up Night"  so both girls had to dress for the job they hope to one day aspire to.  Alyssa wants to be a pastry chef so she donned an apron and a spatula.   Ashleigh wants to be a veterinarian so she dressed the part once again. 

Ashleigh did a great job getting word perfect on her two verses for this week.  First she completed Challenge 1:2 which had her recite 2 Timothy 2:15  - Study to show thyself approved unto God, A workman that needeth not to be ashamed, Rightly dividing the world of truth.   With this particular lesson, Ashleigh learned what the acronym AWANA means (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) which derived from that particular verse. 

Challenge 1:3 taught Ash that the EVERY word of God is pure, that everything he says is right and true.  For this challenge, she first had to be able to answer the question How Do We Know the Bible is True?  Previously she learned that to answer this question with the answer "We Know the Bible is True because the Bible is God's Word."  This week, she added a second answer to this question with the answer "We Know the Bible is true because God says His Word is pure."   

For her memory verse, she recited Proverbs 30: 5-6 - Every word of God proves true; His is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.   Do not add to his words, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar.  

For their group lesson, the T&T leaders taught the kids about the Armor of God..  I unfortunately missed most of this lesson but from what I heard it was a really great discussion about what each piece of armor does and what it represents. 

Each kid was also given a lollipop tonight that was shaped like a pumpkin.  Before they could eat it, they had to read the card attached to it to their parents.  Ashleigh did a great job reading her card to me and I thought it was a great message for the kids. 

Alyssa's Sparkies learned what the last S represents in the acronym Sparks  -  which stands for Saved.  She had one child earn his patch and three others who earned their jewels tonight.  Her kids have been working really hard to get their verses memorized.  

For next week, Ashleigh will be working to memorize 2 Peter 1:16 and 1 John 1:1  as well as doing a Bible activity about the book of Luke that she will have to work on for three days.    

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Weekly Meal Planning

The weekend is almost over and that means another week of meals planned ahead for the family. We cook care of the shopping for the next 10 days yesterday as we ended up NOT going to the museum due to sick kiddos all week.  Now the fridge and freezer and all packed up, the pantry is stocked and the menu is set, at least until Halloween ;) 

There has been a new development this week that will put some changes into how I am planning meals.  I decided to join Weight Watchers this week to help me start to shed some of the excess pounds that I have put on over the last 20 years.. I've made huge improvements over my body composition by working out every day but haven't achieved the weight loss that I would have liked so far.  I'm hoping that this will be the tool I need to start getting the scale to move in the right direction.

This means I now have to count points.  For my height and weight, I am given 23 points a day.  So meals will have to be worked around those points.  I've spent the last couple of days learning how it works and will hit it full force starting today.  So on my weekly planning you'll see a number in parenthesis following the meal.  This is an indicator of how many smart points that particular meal and is more a note to myself.  (I actually did count points yesterday for In-N-Out lol)

Saturday (10/20)
In-n-out  (21sp)   (I splurged and had a double double protein style with 1/4 of an order of fries)

Sunday (10/21)
Tuscan chicken pasta with spinach and broiled tomatoes (9sp)

Monday (10/22)
Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole with Salad and steamed broccoli (12sp)

Tuesday (10/23)
Stuffed Peppers with roasted acorn squash and salad (9sp)

Wednesday (10/24)
Pot Roast with carrots, potatoes and salad  (8sp)

Thursday (10/25)
Deep Dish Pizza Casserole with grapes, baby carrots and salad (7sp)

Friday (10/26)
Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with fruit and rice crisps (10sp)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Picket Project

It's been over a month since the last Picket update so it's well time for something new.  Picket is now 5 months old and still enjoying being a house rabbit. 

Her favorite thing is still to lay down on the bed and take a nap.  This seems to be the place where she is most comfortable, which is understandable because for the first 4.5 months of her life, all her interaction with us took place in this room.   She's perfectly relaxed and will allow anyone to pet her and snuggle with her while she's laying on the bed. It's also where she is the most playful.

However, in the last few weeks, we have been working on moving her from the bedroom to giving her free reign of the house (with supervision).  This means opening her hutch during longer periods of time, closing off the bedroom where she cannot hide in there, and then having her venture around thru the house as she is comfortable.   We have also been giving her meals to her in the living room rather than the bedroom to help her associate the living room with good things.

For the first few days, she would only come out for her food. She would then finish her meal and instantly head back to her hutch where she felt safe. We do keep her hutch door open so that she can retreat back if she wants. 

Slowly, the time she would spend in the living room has been expanded.  First she would suddenly just appear, hop across the living room floor, check out a few things in the living room and then head back to her hutch.   Then she would hand out a lil longer in the hallway, sitting on the runner that we have there now.  (She doesn't particularly like the tile floors). 

However, now she spends longer times in the living room, hoping up on the couches to be with us, to get her cheek rubbed and a treat.. We have had to make sure all wires are out of her reach so that she will not try to nibble on them but overall, she's done really well having free run of the house.  At night she still has to have the door latched on her hutch so that she isn't unsupervised or so that the cats can't cause her any trouble while we are asleep, but most of the day she's free to come and go as she likes.

She's still not completely weaned off her milk yet but is not drinking near as much as she had.  She focuses more now on her veggies and has recently discovered that she loves grapes (seedless), pumpkin and strawberries.  As she has gotten older, I am limiting her access to foods high in oxalates such as spinach and broccoli to avoid her developing bladder sludge caused from large amounts of calcium found in those types of foods.  She still receives a maintenance dosage of Beni-bac each Monday to keep her gut healthy.

And she's still a huge cuddle bunny..  I hope she never outgrows laying her head on my shoulder and falling asleep!! 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Weekend Meal Planning

This weekend just kind of flew by, especially after the week I had. Ever have one of those weeks where Saturday and Sunday just wasn't enough to feel like you had a good reset? That's how I'm feeling right now.  Between jury duty, sick kids, my husband's PT test, the maintenance guys finally finishing our back yard... I need a vacation!!!

Oh well, I did at least get the grocery shopping done today.. I only shopped for a week again this time and will go back to get the following ten days (to get us to the end of the month) next Sunday.    We will be eating on the road Saturday as we are going back to the Museum of Natural History and will be there all day.  We are bringing a picnic lunch with us to eat in the beautiful rose gardens there, but most likely will eat fast food on the way home. 

Sunday (10/14)
Chili with Fritos

Monday (10/15)
Beef Tips with Rice and Salad

Tuesday (10/16)
Chicken and Stuffing with Carrots and green beans

Wednesday (10/17)
Chicken and Broccoli Shells & Cheese

Thursday (10/18)
Chicken Gnocchi Soup with Salad

Friday (10/19)
Pork Tenderloin with Pumpkin-spiced Apples, steamed broccoli and salad

Saturday (10/20)
Picnic at the Museum 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 ( A Homeschool Crew Revew)

The kids and I had the enjoyment of reviewing Season 6: Underground Rising , the latest release from Brinkman Adventures

About Brinkman Adventures

Produced by non-profit, non-denominational Beachglass ministries, the Brinkman Adventures is a radio show currently in their 6th season  that transforms true stories about real life, modern missionaries into fictional stories revolving around the Brinkman family.  However, while the Brinkman family and the stories  are fictionalized, they are based on writer Ian Bultman's family and the lives of real life missionaries. 

For this review, we received a downloadable digital version of Season 6 which contained 6 MP3 audio files with over 2 hours of audio adventures.   Each episode is less then 30 minutes in length, making it suitable to listen to on car rides to town or to listen to while preparing dinner. 

Season 6 contains the following episodes:

55  Dutch Underground Part 1
56  Dutch Underground Part 2

Both of these episodes focus on Ian Bultman's real life grandparents, Reng and Lynn VanKesteren, and their involvement with the Dutch Underground during World War 2. 

57  Twice Born Fly

This episode is based up on a dream that Ian Bultman had while serving at Alaska Bible Institute in Homer, Alaska. 

58  I Wonder Why?

This episode follows the story of a young girl name Samantha and the sacrificed she made to leave home and move to a foreign country to serve in an orphanage in India.  It is based on the true story of the Wonder Family. 

59  Free Burma Rangers Part 1
60  Free Burma Rangers Part 2

These two episodes are based on the true story of Dave Eubank and his journey to become a Green Beret in the Special Forces and the events during his time in Burma along with his family.  

What We Thought

Being that each recording is roughly 25 minutes each, it was very easy to fit listening to an episode as a family a few times each week, typically when we were winding down for the night and getting prepared for bedtimes.

Without giving away too much, our favorite episodes were the first and second one, entitled Dutch Underground 1 & 2.  In these two episodes, we find two of the Brinkman daughters traveling to Canada to visit their grandmother.  While there, we hear the story of her and her husband's involvement in the Dutch Underground following the Natzi Germany invasion and the persecution of the Jews. From stealing ration cards to Lynn's time in jail, the storytelling really pulled each of us into the story and painted a picture of both the Jews and those who tried to help them.  

In addition to the recordings, the Brinkman Adventures Website proves to be a useful supplemental tool where listeners can then learn about the real people each story is based on, including photographs and fun facts.  Also included are links to the Brinkman Podcast which features recollections and stories told by those who really experienced it.  We really liked going to this website and viewing the photographs and podcasts that coincided with each episode - especially the real life story of Bultman's grandparents and their involvement in the Dutch Underground.  The factual history behind the story and seeing the photographs included made us enjoy those two episodes all the more. 

If you're looking for an audio adventure with a throwback to radio theater  that introduces your children to history, culture and the important missionaries who put their lives on the line to spread the gospel, you cannot do wrong with any of the Brinkman Adventures.

 And right now until the end of the month, if you use code FALL10 at checkout when purchasing your own copy of Season 6 of Brinkman Adventures, you can get 10% of your purchase. 

For more information about the Brinkman Adventures, visit their website at https://brinkmanadventures.com.   You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Brinkman-Adventures-152895116079/.  

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews

Monday, October 8, 2018

CashCrunch Careers (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Early on in a child's life, one question is a constant - "What do you want to be when you grow up?". Some kids know without a doubt what they want to be, while others haven't the clue. Yet one of the most important decisions we make when facing becoming an adult is deciding what career path we want to take.  Other big decisions we have to make, such as picking a college and a degree choice, are a direct result of this choice.  However, with so many career paths to choose from, many graduating seniors and even college students have no clue what they should choose. Others think they know what they want to do with their lives, only to graduate and realize that they hate the career field they choose because they picked it for the wrong reasons.

CashCrunch Careers from CashCrunch Games starts with an online assessment that has students self evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in order pick a career field that fits their attributes and strengths rather than trying to fit yourself into a job.  The goal is to help students find a good career
fit before selecting a college and spending tons of time and money only to find out after the fact that the career isn't something the individual enjoys.

For this review, I requested to have two career survey reports - one for myself and one for my daughter Alyssa.  Alyssa is 19 years old and honestly hasn't the first clue what she wants to do with her life beyond sitting in her bedroom watching Cake Wars on Netflix.  I thought this would be a good opportunity for her to get some insight into what career fields might be good choices for her based on her personality.

After creating an account, the user is asked to fill out a survey.  This survey is 75 questions in length and takes roughly 20 minutes to complete.  Each question asks for the individual to reflect on themselves and choose between two descriptions that they feel describes them best. For example, would they describe themselves as Self- Disciplined or would Well-Adjusted be a better choice?  Trust Worthy or Likes People?   After completing the survey, the website then generates a report based on the answers given.  This report includes sections that describe "Career Work Styles", "Motivators and De-Motivators", "Career Attributes", and finally "Career Match" which gives you a list of jobs that should be suited well for the individual.   This report can be viewed online, which allows the individual to click on each career field  to learn more about it, watch a video about the field, and find a list of colleges that offer degrees in that career field.  Or if the person chose, they can download a PDF copy of the report for their own records.

Alyssa's Report

I do believe that the CashCrunch Careers report hit the nail on the head in regards to the analysis of Alyssa.

As a mother, I guess it's easy for me to read her analysis and see where it got it right. Alyssa is indeed creative, very aware of other's feelings and definitely tolerant of the "misfits" of the world (and actually seeks them out).  She is  pleasant, easy to get along with and is non-confrontational.  Without any doubt, Alyssa is not a leader and can be overly sensitive to criticism.    I think the report was pretty accurate for her.

Where I think the report goes wrong is when it lists the jobs that would be a good fit for her.  After the analysis states that she doesn't want to be a leader and wants to work as a supportive role, the list is almost entirely Management and Administration positions and nothing plays on any of those attributes such as creativity or compassion.   

Even more so, when clicking on each of these career fields, it lists the attributes that would make this a good choice for her to look into.  The first one lists "leadership" while the second lists "Stress tolerance", two things that the analysis says Alyssa does not do well with.

My Own Report

So then it was my turn to take the survey and see my own results.  Unlike Alyssa, I have been in the job force for 20+ years - I already know what type of jobs and work conditions I excel with and what types I have absolutely no desire to work in.    For those who do not know, I spent my career as a Respiratory Therapist.  For my own personal analysis, I would say that I excelled in high stress critical care situations and I like being challenged. I dislike repetition and mundane hence why critical/emergency care was my specialty.   I will also tell you that I am the first to go to bat against a Doctor that I feel is wrong (and have done so many times when it comes to patients).  With that said, this was my own personal analysis from CashCrunch Careers.

Okay,  for the most part, I can see this for myself.  I might not agree with non-confrontational, I'm not big on teamwork, but the rest of it is pretty dead on.  I do like to work at my own past, I definitely like an unstructured environment and yeah, I don't like strict rules and without a doubt, I want technical information explained to me in plain English.

I agree almost 100% with the Career Attributes list, as I am the first to tell you I am independent, persistent (just as some of my doctors), I like challenges and I am flexible.

But then we get to my suggested career fields.
It's almost exactly the same list as Alyssa's, with the exception of "General and Operations Managers" at the top.   Medical and Health Care Services Manager is second to the last, not that I would have any desire to run a Department because I prefer to be hands on/in the action.  And when I look at the attributes listed as to why these particular career fields were listed for me, just like Alyssa, none of my strong attributes were listed but instead it lists things like Leadership.   Trust me, I am NOT a person you want leading anyone - the turnover at that department would be pretty high.

Granted, maybe these are just lists of the final position. It's a very rare opportunity that one graduates from college and automatically is placed into a management position.  This list makes it seem as if being in charge is everyone's end game and it just isn't.   Some like myself prefer the hands on aspect of being a worker instead of a leader.

However, if one ventures away from the report and the list of suggested career fields and instead looks around the "CashCrunch Careers" section of the website, you can find a list of career fields.  When you click on those, you are bought to various jobs that fall into each of those career field.  So just for giggles, I clicked on Health Sciences and found Respiratory Therapist. 

And low and behold, the attributes for Respiratory Therapy is "Concern for Others" and "Independence" - more my style than a leadership position.  Also, the Projected Growth shows this is a career field that is growing and needing people, as opposed to the "Slower than Average" most of the Management positions showed.

My Final Opinion

I really do like the Analysis and the list of Attributes that the survey gives. I do believe it gives lots of insight.  However, I think the generated list of suggested career fields tends to be off the mark - not everyone wants a management position for one and for two, management should not be initial goal when selecting a career field anyway but should be something worked towards after gaining experience in lesser positions first.  Instead of what appears to be a pre-generated list, I think CashCrunch should have instead used the attributes that were generated from the survey (which in my opinion were pretty dead on for both myself and Alyssa) and matched those attributes to the various career fields that can be found in the "CashCrunch Careers" section.  If CashCrunch wants to push that management/administration jobs should be the end goal in a career, then simply show how each career field can work into another (ie: Respiratory Therapists can eventually become Department managers).

#hsreviews #cte #careers #careerpathway #collegeready #careerreadiness #dreamcareer #dreamjob #careerpossibilities #college #recruitment #changeofcareer

For more information about CashCrunch Careers and other products from CashCrunch Games, be sure to visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media platforms:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/721791248014409/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CashCrunchGames 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cashcrunchgames/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cashcrunchgames/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FortuneAndVenture

CashCrunch Careers {CashCrunch Games Reviews}


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