This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 9th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Charlotte Mason approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Roman Roads Media: Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder ~ a TOS review

Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

So you already know that in our family we study Latin through 11th grade. Why, you ask? Quite simply because I have seen the benefits of learning this beautiful language in our other subjects and in our testing. For us learning Latin has so many benefits that I was thrilled at the opportunity for my girls, Mikayla (10th grade) and Montana (6th grade) and I to try Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder from Roman Roads Media.
Roman Roads Media
You many have heard of Roman Roads Media before from other curricula they publish, like Visual Latin or Old Western Culture. As a company they are renowned for publishing Classical, Christian curriculum for homeschoolers. All of their products combine technology and resources with high quality instruction to help foster a love of learning in your child.

The Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder is geared towards the middle school through college age students. The classical curriculum focuses on teaching over 1,000 nouns, verbs, adjectives, and propositions used in everyday speaking through pictures, audio pronunciations, definitions and more to help your student learn this thrilling language called Latin.

Roman Roads Media

The full course includes two different tracks, Normal or Easy. The first three learning sections are exactly the same. The difference comes with two additional exercises in the Normal version.You the parent are able to put your child into the appropriate level that is both challenging yet achievable.

Roman Roads Media

The complete program contains 31 chapters that each cover a separate topic. 

 1 The Map 
 2 Basic School 
 3 Basic People and Family
 4 Numbers and Useful Adjectives 
 5 Basic Actions 
 6 Basic Food and Money 
 7 Miscellaneous Verbs and Adjectives 
 8 Basic Travel and Home 
 9 Basic Prepositions 
 10 Travel and Transportation 
 11 Basic Body and Beauty 
 12 Jewelry and Clothing 
 13 Shopping 
 14 The Herdsman 
 15 More Animals and Outdoors 
 16 Life and Death 
 17 Animal and Tree Parts 
 18 Size 
 19 Complementary Infinitive 
 20 Play 
 21 Anatomy 
 22 Sickness
 23 More Geography 
 24 War 
 25 Arms and Battle 
 26 Time 
 27 Weather 
 28 Light 
 29 More Useful Adjectives 
 30 More Clothing 
 31 Washing
Roman Roads Media
Through repetition of audio and visual clues your student will learn between 25-30 vocabulary words through the course of a lesson. Each Chapter has exercises where the student LEARN, CHOOSE, SPELL, FORMS, and TEST FORMS to present the material to be learned. Each of the sections is given a star grade based system with 5 starts being an excellent score. The program has a See it, Hear it, Understand it philosophy.

See it ~ colorful, hand-drawn illustrations present and teach the Latin vocabulary words. The pictures are simple yet interesting enough to aid in memorization of the word. Perfect for the visual learner. 

Hear it ~ For the audio learners out there, the program pronounces the word for each picture as well as using the word in a sentence.

Understand it ~ A helpful dictionary is just a click away if you need the definition of a word. It also includes possible English translations to help you further.

We have been using this with both Mikayla and Montana with great starting results. We’ve had our woes with Latin over the last few years. To the point where it just was not getting done. We have jumped back and forth from one curriculum provider to the next, taking online classes and so forth searching for the right one. The addition of using Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder with our Latin curriculum has been the missing piece I have been searching for!

The girls have been using the program for 20-30 minutes a day, three times a week on their iPads in addition to their Latin study. At first Montana was on the Normal setting, but we found that to be too challenging for her, especially in the spelling portion, so I bumped her down to the Easy level while Mikayla continued on the Normal level.

I really like that this is such a visual and audio program which suits Mikayla so well. She still struggles at times with comprehension and retention, but this program has been helping her memorize and expand not just her Latin vocabulary but her English one as well. We definitely will be telling all our friends about this curriculum and finishing the complete program for both girls. I plan to have Montana cycle back through the program on the Normal level next school year.

But why study Latin you ask? I’m sure you have heard it said that Latin is a “dead” or “forgotten” language. I think it’s important because Latin helps

 “1. Latin teaches English better than English teaches English.  
 2. The mental discipline Latin instills in students makes it the ideal foreign language to study.
  3. Latin is the ideal tool for the transmission of cultural literacy”. 
PictaDicta Natural World
If your goals is a classical education, then studying Latin is a must and Roman Roads Media's Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder will help you meet that goal. I have enjoyed this Latin classical curriculum so much that I have decided to purchase my 3rd grader a subscription to the Picta Dicta Natural World program. I know that this program will be just as fabulous as the Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder and money well spent.

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

But don’t just take my word for it, check out what my CrewMates thought of this program and the other two Classical education curriculum, Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric (complete program) and Picta Dicta Natural World reviewed by clicking the banner below.

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

 Format ~ online 
 Price ~ $79.00, 14 month subscription. Each additional user license $15.00 
 Ages ~ middle school through college-age

Roman Roads Media
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Barbour Publishing: Kingdom Files series: Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? ~ a TOS review

If there is one thing to say about me, it's that I never turn down a book. In August Barbour Publishing sent us two new titles, Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus?, which are part of their Kingdom Files series. Let me tell you a little more about them!

We are no stranger to the clean books for kids that Barbour Publishing produces. A few years ago we were introduced to our first Barbour Publishing book when we received Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story and Imagine…The Great Flood created by Matt Koceich, a schoolteacher, who wants to bring the Bible to life for curious kids aged 8 to 12.

Kingdome Files Who Was Mary Mother of Jesus
Kingdome Files Who Was Jonah
The books in this new biography series is written to teach children the story behind key Bible figures. Stories that your child may already be familiar with are presented in a fun fact finding way. Each of the books in this series follow a familiar pattern and set up with three sections:

Fact File where basic facts and photos of the person are presented. In this section you learn all about the person, who they are, occupation, and where they lived during their life.

Action Files is the section that gives you the Bible story where the person is featured. This section has clues that make you think about the topic you are reading about. This section includes simple black and white illustration that match what is happening in the story.

Power File include short lessons to either be read before or after reading the chapter stories. These lessons tie the main concept of the story back together, essentially bringing everything together and how to apply the principles to your own daily life.

When the books first arrived Montana dove into reading the book on Jonah. I read the book about Mary aloud to my youngest three children, Montana (11), McKenzie (9), and Micah (4). I would read a chapter a day and then we would have a mini discussion about what we read. I liked the fact that the author points out how the Bible character might have felt in the situation they were in.

For example, how do you think Mary felt after being told she would be the Mother of the Savior of the world? And what about Jonah? Why did he feel so strongly to run away from what God was asking him to do? These questions led to many jumping off points for us that led us right to our Bibles to check the facts.

The Kingdom Files

Montana and McKenzie loved this book and were hanging on for each word I read. Micah, expectantly, was just along for the ride. He did pick up some points and enjoyed coloring or playing quietly while I read.

The Kingdom Files

We loved these books! There are four more in the series including:
 Who is Jesus? 
Who Was David? 
Who Was Ester? 
Who Was Daniel? 
 And I plan to add a new title each month to our collection. The Kingdom Files website is a great place to look for games and educator resources, including trading cards, word searches, Readers Theater and more.

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}

We recommend these books for any family looking for quality, Biblical biographies for kids. But don’t just take my word for it, check out what my CrewMates thought of these two books by clicking the banner below.

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}

Company ~ Barbour Publishing
Product ~ Kingdom Files series: 
 Format ~ paperback book 
 Price ~ $4.99 

Ages ~ 8-12 years old

Barbour Publishing

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©2008 - 2018 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

GrammarPlanet ~ a TOS review

McKenzie is in 3rd grade this year and we are just starting to dabble in the world of grammar and sentence diagraming. Personally, I enjoy sentence diagramming at it most basic form. I'll be the first to admit it gets a little wonky when you start heavy diagramming but I understand its bottom line purpose. With the help of the new online grammar program from GrammarPlanet, McKenzie is getting the hang of it! Let me tell you a little more about the program.

GrammarPlanet was created by the same people behind Analytical Grammar and Dynamic Literacy. Getting started is simple, just create a master account for yourself the parent and then add separate accounts for each child using the program. On the main parent dashboard you can see the progress of each child. You also have the ability to erase or reset the progress of each child, if needed. Each child will log into their own account with a specific user name and password. 

This new online program teaches the basics of grammar, punctuation, and correct usage. It is geared toward children aged 10 and up and adults as well. Once completely complete, It will include 60 units that cover topics from nouns to who vs whom and everything in between. As of right now there are 13 units complete with plenty of information to get you started. 
Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}
Everyone, regardless of age and ability start with unit 1. The program detects what you are good at and what you need extra help on so you only really practice in the areas needed. Each unit builds on the one before it so unless you are solid at the preceding topics it is not recommended that you skip around. Below you can see the topics covered in the program.

Each unit includes:
~ video instruction
~ printable teaching notes
~ practice sentences
~ unit test of material

The videos are short and to the point, roughly 8-10 minutes in length and the student uses a pop up window to label or parse the parts of speech in the practice sentences. The printable teaching notes give important information about the topic that is going to be covered. These are very well written and I recommend you printing these out and placing in a binder.

During this review period I have been using the GrammarPlanet with McKenzie. Originally, I wanted to have Mikayla and Montana use the program too, but life got super crazy and I could only keep up with McKenzie at this time. Since she is on the younger end, I worked with her as we have been going through the units. I try to have her on the program 2 days a week for about 10-15 minutes. If you student hasn’t logged in for a while, the program will send the parent an email reminder.

McKenzie had a hard time with this program for the simple fact that she kept getting locked out of the program. Even when she selected a correct answer, the program would mark it wrong. Since you cannot move on to the next unit without a passing grade, that was frustrating to her. I am not sure what the passing grade standard is, but I think it would be helpful to have it be programable and set by the parents standards. Once the unit was unlocked the lessons could be reattempted to improve grades and knowledge.

GrammarPlanet is a free program to use so be sure to check it out for yourself to see if it would work within your homeschool. I will say the free program includes many ads and those got annoying rather quickly for my daughter and I. Another option for the program is the $39 membership for the ad-free program. It includes lifetime use so they may be a better option if the ads bother you. 

Overall, this is a great concept and program! However, it is not the best fit for our family at this time. But don’t let that stop you from checking out the program for your family! Also be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this program by clicking the banner below.

*Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}

Company/Product ~ GrammarPlanet

Format ~ online

Price ~ free with ads or $39 ad-free

Ages ~ 10 and up
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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Reading Eggs: 200 Essential Math Skills workbook ~ a TOS review

Micah has started Junior Kindergarten this year and as such we have been focusing on letter recognition and math skills with the help of the Mathseeds part of  Reading Eggs while using the 200 Essential Math skills for Kindergarten, one of their brand new workbooks.  

Over the course of the ten years we have been homeschooling, I have learned that what works for one child, may not necessarily work for another. And vice versa. We are no stranger to the world of Reading Eggs, the online learning site, having used it before with Montana and McKenzie, so I jumped at the chance to use it with Micah.

Micah and I  have been working through the Kindergarten 200 Essential Math Skills book as well as using the online component of  the program over the last few weeks.  Micah loves using the computer for fun online learning games and activities in the Mathseeds program from Reading Eggs.

The Mathseeds program teaches kids 3-9 the core math and problem solving skills needed to be successful. Through highly interactive lessons, Mathseeds keeps kids interested in completing math skills. Mathseeds is also available to play on a tablet so you can take the learning on the go if you have internet connection. The new workbooks keep the learning happening and are filled with 240+ colorful and engaging pages and certificates.

When combined together with the online program, the workbook lessons provide a comprehensive program to increase math knowledge. With 50 lessons that comprehensively cover the following topics:

and measurement

Each lesson includes four pages of actives to reinforce the online learning. On the last page is a yellow box that includes a panel to track knowledge and achievement. There is plenty of material in this course for a whole year of learning. 

Like his sisters, Micah who is 4-years old excels at math. I always feel like he doesn’t get “enough” schooling each day with me because I am working with his big sisters. Using this program a few times a week for 15 -30 minutes has really helped Micah. The only drawback for us is that he can not jump ahead on the online portion. He knows his numbers 1-10, yet his manual dexterity is not as strong. I really wanted to focus on numbers 11-20 but we are going slow to wait for his handwriting to catch up. 

So for the majority of this program we have been using mostly the notebook and letting him play around in the online portion and advancing through the levels. I act as his scribe when he needs to write a number that is not given as a traceable number. This has been working well for us right now. 

With the help of the Mathseeds program and the 200 Essential Math skills for Kindergarten workbook, not only is my 4-year old learning math but he is also having fun! And the best part is that he asks to do math in his workbook everyday! Micah’s favorite activity so far is the car driving game. Like many little boys he loves cars and loved racing around the racetrack.

If you need a little bit of fun to spice up learning to math for your children, look no further than  the Mathseeds program from Reading Eggs! See what my CrewMates think by clicking the banner below!
Online Reading Eggs Suite

Online Reading Eggs Suite {Reading Eggs Reviews}

Company ~ Reading Eggs

Price ~ $19.95

Ages ~ Kindergarten age

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©2008 - 2018 A Stable Beginning. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.