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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Good, Better, Best

I've had a little thought in the back of my head for many months now. I've felt I need to simplify and refocus. For school this year, we adjusted some curriculum which has helped a lot. I've also been focusing more on my kids and family. With the announcements in General Conference this year about the new curriculum being home centered and church supported, I've felt that my family needs to be the center of my focus more than ever before. The videos and links below are things I've been studying as I choose how I want to spend my time going forward.

The biggest change you'll see on this blog is less reviews. We have decided to quit participating in the Homeschool Review Crew. Part of participating in the crew is wading through the good and better curriculum, and even some not so good stuff, to review the best. We've decided it's not worth the extra time it takes to find a few new things we love. Most of the curriculum we use is from other sources, so what is best for us we obtain elsewhere.

Take a minute to watch the videos below, and read the articles at the links too. Then pray for help to decide what is best in your life and what to set aside.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Guitar 360 Method Review (Using a Guitar and Baritone Ukelele)

I'm not sure why playing the guitar is so fascinating. I used to play around with my mom's spare guitar; eventually she gave it to me. My son has attempted to learn a few things, but without lessons. When we were given the opportunity to review the Semester 1 Bundle from Guitar 360 Method, we couldn't wait to get started.

What is Guitar 360?

We received access to the Semester 1 Bundle, which includes the Absolute Beginner bonus content + the 13 weeks of Semester 1. This amounts to about 18 weeks of online guitar lessons (the last two weeks will be available soon.) You can sign up for the free beginner course and get started right away to see what you think. While the lessons are laid out in weeks, you don't have to take a full week to complete a lesson if you are confident and ready to move on. The instructor uses an acoustic guitar as well as an electric guitar, and you can follow along with either.

Each week begins with a goal so you understand what your focus is. Then there are multiple videos that teach the goal for the week. The instructor is easy to follow along with and entertaining. Each week ends with practice videos. Some weeks include ear training videos, and some include a quiz, which is not a video, but an online test. Some lessons have downloadable files to help you remember what you learned, like chord diagrams, scales, and neck diagrams of various notes. Each video is short, providing little bite size pieces of instruction, and making the entire course very learner-friendly. But these lessons are also so packed full of information that you'll build your skills to amazing levels in no time at all!

I especially love the ear training, that the instructor teaches solfege, and the practice videos. The practice videos are great because they help you understand exactly what you should be doing when you practice!

Included in the Beginner's Course are plenty of videos to help you become familiar with the guitar and the basics of playing it. Instruction is presented in such a way that the learner can create music with the guitar then later learn the theory; this is explained as being similar to a toddler learning to talk. We teach them the sounds and what they are associated with before teaching them grammar when they are older. This makes me happy, I found that this is how my children learned piano best so extending that same method to the guitar is logical.

The Semester I course contains so much good information, I am excited to continue working through these lessons. Students are taught to use chords, strumming, fingerstyle, and picking out notes. This website is exactly what I hoped to find for so long but never could!

The only thing I'd like to see improved is more printables with the lessons, especially sheet music for what is being taught in the practice videos. (My thoughts on that toddler learning to talk - we still give them books so they can become familiar with seeing written language.) Worksheets would also be helpful for the student to remember what was taught in the videos each week.

How did we use this?

When I asked to review this, I hoped to use the course and have my son use it as well. He's in 8th grade and has previously expressed interest and attempted to learn guitar. When I was previewing the website, my 10th grade daughter began asking questions about it. She asked to be included in the review too.

As soon as we found out we had access to the lessons, the three of us spent an afternoon taking turns with the guitar. My two younger children thought this looked neat and wanted to play too! But we only own a full size guitar, which would be very difficult for a 2nd and 5th grader to hold. However, I realized they could learn the same skills we were starting with on our baritone ukelele! (A baritone ukelele has four strings, and they are the same as the four higher pitched strings on a six string guitar. A good portion of the chords are the same.)

I'll start with the two youngest children, who are in 2nd and 5th grade. These two have never had any experience with a string instrument and there are a variety of skills to coordinate while playing this instrument. They watched the first few videos about basic skills. They have been practicing this daily and are quite happy with their improving skill of picking out scales! They are moving more slowly through the lessons and mostly move forward with instruction and individualized help from one of us who have already watched the lessons.

I feel like my 5th grader would do fine working through these lessons by herself. Later on some trickier music theory concepts are taught that are necessary to playing guitar, but she has a good understanding of scales, whole and half steps, solfege, etc. from piano. My 2nd grader would benefit from adult assistance as she works through them because she doesn't always notice what she needs to work on.

The older two kids, who are in 8th and 10th grade, are doing so well with the video lessons! My son likes to move quickly through them so I have to remind him to practice previously learned skills as he goes. My daughter likes to take things s.l.o.w. She wants to be absolutely perfect with the practice tracks before she moves on, but I've encouraged her to move along faster and make a list of what items she practices to warm up each day.

Guitar lessons at home with Guitar 360 Method online lessons.

I'm impressed with the amount of information taught in the lessons. My children and I are enjoying working through them and we are noticing our skills improve daily. I'm most excited about understanding notes on the guitar better, and not just sticking to strumming chords. Everyone is excited to practice guitar. In fact, my husband noticed how much time everyone was spending with the guitar and now he wants to start the lessons too!

Kris Simonfalvi, the instructor and author of these guitar lessons, is offering a discount to my blog readers, 20% off the same lessons we reviewed! Just use the coupon code HOMESCHOOL20 when you check out.

Where to find Guitar 360:

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Weekly Recap: With the apples and the vehicles

Well, it finally happened. Our van blew a head gasket. The same thing we replaced three years ago. This time the cost of the repair is more than the van is worth, so we've decided to say goodbye to it. That was hard, a lot of memories are associated with it. But it's just an object, and we still have all the memories.

We've been thinking about what vehicle would replace it for over two years now. We've gone to test drive the kind we want but none of the vehicles ever seemed right for us. Well, we finally felt comfortable with one. Nervous about a car payment again, but calm too. So we showed up late for Halloween this year, but in a fancy ride. So fancy that I have to refer to the owners manual nearly every day. Ha ha ha!

Wolf in sheep's clothing, Statue of Liberty, firefighter, leprechaun

Our washer started leaking too, but it was still under warranty. The repairman said that in the 18 years he's been repairing washers he's never seen this part break. Comforting!

Sunday Snacks - Dutch Apple Beignets.
My kids would like you to know this is one of those "the best of life" pictures because it doesn't show the powdered sugar and green paint on the counter or the giant squash waiting to be baked.

I finished working on the curricula project I've been working on, condensing literature lessons for Family School! These lessons are so good, and I can't wait for them to go through the final steps before they go live.

My kids have been playing the guitar and learning from some online lessons (review goes live next week!) and they were so excited to find 14 guitar picks in our new vehicle! What a random thing to leave behind, but pretty neat too.

J went on an overnight campout and had a good time but also got cold, despite taking two extra blankets for his sleeping bag.

Neighbors gave us their extra apples. A lot of apples. So we freeze dried them! These make the best snacks, and we made some little pouches for our 72 hour kits.

We were given a couch and wanted to put it in the school room to replace a broken one. Well because of the way the previous house owners finished the basement, it won't fit down the hall. It's one inch too long! We want to fix the hall and refinish it the correct way, but since we have a new vehicle that doesn't seem likely. So we rearranged the living room and school room and now we have two couches in the living room and a recliner in the school room.

School Updates:

M had the opportunity to visit with a graphic designer and learn a little bit about what she does for work. She also got to try using Adobe Illustrator.
N finished All About Reading Level 4! She's done with reading lessons! She also finished All About Spelling Level 2 the same week.

Literature: The younger girls started studying Little House in the Big Woods.
Geography: We started learning about the hydrosphere in Africa.
Art: We looked at and described some of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings.
History: We looked at Roosevelt's New Deal and the Church Welfare Program. We also learned about Germany after WWI.
Science: We finished up Kingdoms & Classification from The Good and the Beautiful. I like the curriculum, but it feels simple. I'm used to the in depth lessons that include a gospel principle from Family School.

Friday, October 19, 2018

CashCrunch Careers Review Update

Recently I reviewed CashCrunch Careers, a website that collects personality traits from a survey that you take and gives you a list of suggested careers based on the results.

I received an email today explaining some changes on the site with a suggestion that I log in to see my updated career report.

Below, with the large black letters, is the original report. The large blue letters is the new report.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Weekly Recap: With the scoliosis check-up

Well, fishing club has ended, and the other two kids caught their fish on the last day. It was a fun experience and the kids learned a lot. If you ever have the opportunity to join your city's local youth fishing club, we recommend it!

Heirloom Audio Review: St. Bartholomew's Eve

Heirloom Audio has released their latest audio drama, St. Bartholomew's Eve. We love their productions, so we were happy to review this one. We were sent a 2 CD set for this review.

St. Bartholomew's Eve

St. Bartholomew's Eve is a storytelling adventure based on the book St. Bartholomew's Eve by G.A. Henty. It is not an audio book, but rather an action packed audio theater version. The actors portraying the characters are recognizable, and the sound effects and music add to the drama.

Monday, October 8, 2018

CashCrunch Careers Review

The Homeschool Review Crew was offered an opportunity to review CashCrunch Careers from CashCrunch Games.

Cash Crunch Careers