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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Weekly Recap: With the tools with names

I've been forgetting to mention what our Family School and other highlights have been! I'm going to try to keep better track of that now. Over the past couple of weeks we've had some great lessons.

History: An intro to the last days - this was a great lesson and as soon as it was finished one child said, "Can we do that lesson again?!" Also a lesson on the four causes of World War I. Another good lesson. This year of history is looking great!

Literature: E & N have been learning about fairy tales and studying literary elements included in them. It's been a huge change to teach just the youngest two instead of everyone, but it's also fun to spend time with just them.
J has been doing some career placement quizzes and working on Code for Teens. M has been working on a beginners commercial art course.

Science: We're split for this subject too. M is working on a high school Biology course. So far she says it's a LOT of reading. J, E, and N have started zoology, but we're adding a little extra to the beginning of the course and using The Good and the Beautiful Kingdoms & Classification course. So far it's fun, but it is very simple and short compared to what we're used to for Family School. It's a short course so I'm doing two lessons on a science day and doing all the upper level activities with it.

Geography: We've started studying Africa! We're enjoying this one, we had a introduction to mathematical geography lesson with a touch of astronomy that we spent so much extra time following rabbit trails! We also discovered so many mistakes in a portion of our geography lesson so we had to do a lot of research and correct the worksheet that came with the lesson.

Art: We're doing Charlotte Mason style lessons this year and so far it's.... eh. The kids aren't used to doing it this way but now that they've done one lesson it will go a lot better and I think they'll like it more. I picked a handful of artists to study, the first one is Mary Cassatt.

Music: We decided to start over on Year 1 Family School. So far we have had just one lesson and it was good!

High School L.A.: This has been a big change for us. M and J  (10th and 8th grades)are doing The Good and the Beautiful High School 1 Honors and their preferences are already showing. M has been going at her own pace... which means the course that asks the student to do one unit in 11 days is only taking her 7 days. J stretches it out to take all 11 days. They are finding it easier than we expected, they already know the flashcards they've had to do for Unit 1 and 2. They memorize poems in one week. They are learning a few new vocabulary words and getting practice diagramming sentences (which they've done, but not a lot.) I guess I expected it to be more difficult than this. Or maybe I've taught them more than would have been expected in the upper elementary and middle school grades?

N, 2nd grade, has started IEW writing. She was using Writing With Ease 2, and I wondered if we should switch. She's doing People and Places in Our Community and is doing pretty well! The activity in the first lesson was to build a toolbox, color the tools, and name them. We had to do school in the car that day, so when she had two colored she said, "Mom, I named this tool Bumblebee and this tool Flower."
I told her that those were great names but I think the lesson meant to tell me what carpenters call them and what they do. She did that, then finished coloring the rest of the tools and giving them much better names than carpenters do! Luckily my husband was home that day and driving so I could take a picture and remember her awesome interpretation.

Other highlights:

We've been having fun watching Grandma and Grandpa's garage start to be built! It was surprisingly enjoyable to watch the cement floor being made.

J now has four hermit crabs. They are great pets and I'm glad he got them.
The kids like camping out back and try to do it every weekend they get a chance. After our geography lesson that talked a little about telescopes, the kids had to plan a night to use their telescope. They persisted on actually finding something in it this time, and came running into the house late at night begging me to come out and see Saturn! They found it, focused on it, and could see its rings. I didn't think our telescope was that good. Now I should probably get a Barlow lens for it!
We tore the bushes out of one side of our front yard this summer. It finally got cool enough that J and I planted grass seed on that area. Then my husband wanted to help water one night. We have a sprinkler system, but it is manual. He left the sprinklers on overnight... not just 10 minutes. He was nice enough to put more seed down because a lot washed away.
M made a delicious peach crisp trifle (recipe from Six Sister's Stuff) for a family dinner.

My computer has had issues ever since I got it. When it goes to sleep or the screen saver times out and goes off, then I try waking it back up, it cannot access the second hard drive. The one with all the data. I finally found an error message hidden in a Dell support program that said the hard drive failed diagnostics checks. My husband called tech support and after a long series of questions and tests, it was determined that yes, the hard drive was bad. So the tech guy determined which drive and ordered a new one. Well, the new one came, a local guy installed it, and said, "It's actually the other drive that's bad. I don't know how tech support didn't know that. It says right here." Well. So we waited a couple more days and got the other one replaced. I've been reinstalling everything, putting backed up data back, and generally cursing computers as a whole. But hey, it is finally fixed!

J and E have joined our city's youth fishing club. They are loving it! J caught a rainbow trout the first day, which meant he had to learn how to clean and cook a fish. He did great, and it was delicious!
Until next week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Picta Dicta Natural World - Learn Latin the Fun Way (A Review)

We're eclectic homeschoolers, but I do love the classical approach. That usually includes learning Latin, something we haven't done. When we received the opportunity to review Picta Dicta Natural World from Roman Roads Media, I hoped that it might provide a good start with Latin, but without the drudgery associated with other Latin programs.

PictaDicta Natural World
There are two Picta Dicta options for you to sign up for. Picta Dicta Natural World, which we received a subscription to, and Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder. Something I like about Roman Roads Media is that they have five videos available to show how Picta Dicta works.

Signing up was simple. I followed the instructions on their setup website. Enter names, choose a level. I chose different campaigns (levels) for some of us (described at 1:51 in the setup video.) There are five levels to choose from - Basic, English I, Reader I, Reader II, and Express. These range from pre-reader to advanced reader, Express could even be considered a instructional review or level for someone who catches on quickly. If you decide that you need to change the level after the child begins using the program, you can do that by clicking the Edit icon (pencil) for that person. There is also a Teacher level, however since I don't know Latin I didn't use that one.

N, in 2nd grade, is Reader I. The other three children (5th, 8th, and 10th) are in Reader II. I am in Express.

We are using Android tablets to access the program, but you can use a computer too. It works through any web browser.

M took a screen shot when she finished the first set of lessons about Basic Animals. She wrote a description of each game for you. Remember this is Reader II.

Learn Latin

  • Learn Latin II - Learn animals in English and Latin and read stories about them in English.
  • Latin-Picture II - Connect Latin to English with Latin words and English descriptions.
  • Article II - Connect story to animal.
  • English II - Label the picture in English.
  • Spell Latin II - Spell the Latin word in English.
  • Review Latin VII - Spell the English word in Latin.

In the Reader I program, the games are:

  • Learn English
  • Article I
  • Learn Latin
  • Latin-Picture
  • Choose English
  • Spell English
  • Choose Latin
  • Spell Latin

In the Express campaign, I only have Learn Latin II, Latin-Picture II, and Spell Latin II. At first I felt like I didn't catch on to the words as well as I would have liked, so maybe I'll switch to the Reader II program if I keep feeling this way. The good part is that once you have completed a section, you can repeat it by choosing "Train." You can practice more and improve your score!

Picta Dicta scores each game with stars. You can receive up to five stars for a game. As you work through the game, it learns what you answered incorrectly and repeats those items. M says that she looks for a letter shape in the image, which helps her remember the Latin word for that thing. Some were easy such as ursus, for the children who know the constellations.

Reviews of previous topics are built in, so you don't have to worry about forgetting everything you just worked so hard to learn! You don't always do the same games for each review. You can see in the image below that there are review games after each group of chapters, except the first.

The biggest issue with this program is the spelling sections. Our tablets don't know Latin so they autocorrect what we type. However, it will show as we typed it UNTIL we tap to go to the next screen. Android autocorrects the word without us even knowing! So we must tap the first word in the line of suggested words (which is what we entered) so it doesn't get the chance to change our word. This was so frustrating because we couldn't figure out why we were getting everything wrong at first! J decided to add every word to his dictionary so he doesn't have this problem.

Other minor issues are random grammar and word mistakes in the instructions and stories. These were not distracting, but my older kids loved finding them and pointing them out to me.

I can log into the parent part of my account and see how much time each child has used the program that week, and how well they've been doing. It's not much, but it is helpful to know if they are using it regularly and improving.

M didn't know many of the animals, and even less fruits. But on anatomy she had a light bulb moment at how many Latin names she could remember because of her knowledge of anatomy from last year's science.

One day J noticed a car on the road, model name Equus. Because of Picta Dicta he was able to pronounce the word correctly and he already knew how to spell it when he searched Google to learn more about it.

E says she really likes it, it's pretty fun to use. "I like that it has you review the words a lot of times. It has helped me learn Latin words and also some English names, like a wild pig is a boar."

N, 2nd grade, overcomes the spelling issues by chanting the spelling of the word out loud until she has typed it in. When she got to the Anatomy I lessons, she was so proud of herself. "Mom, I knew all of those because of what we learned in science!"

Picta Dicta Natural World has also been helpful since we started studying zoology and classification. The kids are realizing there are roots and Latin words everywhere!

When we first started using Picta Dicta, everyone was quite happy to show off the words they had learned. They would listen to each other or peek over shoulders and say the answer. But everyone quickly decided they wanted to do it ON THEIR OWN! Their challenge instinct took over and they decided they didn't want help. Now they just compare stars to try to beat each other, or try to stump me. If they aren't happy with their score, they can repeat that game to get a better score. I admit, I enjoy doing it to stay caught up with my kids!

I wasn't sure what to expect from this program or if my kids would stick with it. But it has turned out to be one of our favorite things to do each day. In fact, a couple of children expressed how unhappy they were when I crossed Picta Dicta off of the planner on an extremely busy day. They made time and did it anyway! I have been quite pleased with this program and what my children have learned while using it. I can't wait to see their progress as they continue through all of the topics! I would love to see what my kids can do with Vocabulary Builder after we finish Natural World.

Roman Roads Media asked some Review Crew members to review their Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric (complete program) in addition to Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder and Picta Dicta Natural World. Check out the other reviews at the link below.

Where to find Picta Dicta:

Roman Roads Media

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Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

Monday, August 27, 2018

Weekly Recap: With the crabs and the first week of school!

I've got to catch you up on the last couple of weeks of summer and the first week of school! Life didn't slow down much during the summer, the exact opposite of what I'd hoped would happen.

E got to visit the Bishop's Storehouse, I met two brand new babies, we went to five stores looking for a life jacket (J has outgrown his), we cleaned and rearranged a bedroom, J camped overnight with the scouts, we took apart our very old swing set, which was also too small for our big kids. J bought a 20 gallon long tank for his hermit crabs, which they seem to love.

We found two different small bullfrogs under the trampoline, and both were saved before the cat found them.

Here's a little video of our first day of school. We also went to the library. P.S. we have a lot more curricula than what is in the video, I just figured I should put a little in there :)

A post shared by As We Bloom (@aswebloom) on

My family is considering banning me from using sharp things... I'm not sure why I have such bad luck with my hands but I sliced a good chunk of fingernail and the skin right under it off while chopping lettuce. Also, we have bad luck at KFC lately! We rarely go there; a couple of months ago when we went they were out of extra crispy chicken! This week they were closed for remodeling.

We have been doing so well with school, I printed a new schedule that only outlines what time we work and what time is free time.

Since the crab tank has a lot more room, J picked out a new crab and a climbing rock. The new crab is getting used to the place, and his new buddies.

This week each child picked a topic to teach a character lesson on. The kids asked me for a little help to find materials and stories, but they planned the lesson by themselves. They picked some great topics and I feel it was a nice way to start the school year!

Other recent events: J and E went fishing with my husband, N picked out her Halloween costume, M and I sorted through ALL our baby clothes up to size 6. They are in boxes ready to give away. We picked a day to go hiking, but the smoke from local and CA fires has been so bad that the night before my husband and I talked about cancelling. We decided to see what the sky looked like in the morning. What a blessing to wake up and find the sky clear, and it stayed that way all day! The next morning the smoke had blown right back in.

Until next time!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Preparing for the 2018-2019 School Year!

We like to do a special Family Home Evening lesson before the first day of school. It's a great one to remind children the importance of learning as well as some good character traits. See the lesson we use at this website - We Can Learn at School. That lesson also contains my favorite goal sheet, which we have the children do during the FHE lesson or on the first day of school. Also, we always do Father's blessings (And a teacher blessing!) the night before school starts.

History, Geography:

As you know, we have used Family School every year since we started homeschooling. It is written so all the children can learn together, but they complete work on their own level for every lesson too. Originally there were going to be six complete years of six topics. A while ago they decided to change that. That threw a wrench in our school plans, but I accepted it and began planning. We have been promised that the sixth year of history and geography available to use this school year. Which I am desperately hoping is true, because completing those two topics in the curriculum we started is logical. Why start all over with something else?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Weekly Recap: With the breakfast foods

Last time I updated you, I mentioned an exciting event coming up from Family School. Well, that happened and it was pretty awesome! They introduced the new Lifetime Membership pricing, the new Preschool lessons, and the Open & Go lessons! That is what has kept me so busy lately, I am on the team that is condensing the lessons and making them easier for you to use. It's been such a neat project to participate in and I'm so excited to see them go live for you to use!

M has been busy in the kitchen lately. We found brown spot bananas discounted at the store and she wanted to make banana bread muffins. I believe she said she did 12 batches by the time she was done, something like 150 muffins? Then she decided to make breakfast burritos, and ended up with just over three dozen of those! It has been so nice to have these options in the freezer for breakfasts. A few days later she also made overnight oatmeal, one dozen half pint jars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Book Review: A Daring Venture

I received Elizabeth Camden's latest book, A Daring Venture, to review. Mrs. Camden is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Her books contain good themes, strong women, and bits of history that aren't always common knowledge.

This book is no different, yet is an enjoyable story in its own way. The main character is Dr. Rosalind Werner, a scientist whose goal is to purify water and eliminate waterborne diseases. She and her brother were orphaned as children when their parents succumbed to cholera. As a female scientist, she faces people not trusting her work and rumors about her character. Yet she is determined and honest... until her colleague decides to take a giant step ahead with their research and she must decide if she will support him and continue their work. Hiding a secret could hurt her new relationship with Nicholas Drake.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Weekly Recap: With all the stuff in the busy summer

Well, this weekly recap is nearly a monthly recap! I really hoped that life would slow down in the summer so we could kick back, read, play, splash, and chill a little. Ha ha! My daughter was looking at the June and July calendar the other day. "Mom, we only had 4 days with nothing to do in June. Woah... July only has 2 and it's not even done yet!"