Thursday, August 29, 2013

(Review) Homeschool Spanish Academy



Hola!  Estoy muy emocionado de haber sido elegido en opinar sobre este marvalliso programa!  Translation: I am so excited that we were chosen to review this wonderful program! Homeschool Spanish Academy is an excellent program which provides LIVE instruction to learn the Spanish language. Abbey was chosen to participate in the Half Semester Early Language Program.  This program is recommended for beginners of any age, and especially for the younger elementary grades. 

Prior to these classes, I had tried to teach Spanish to Abbey, and while she did pick up on some things, she is not particularly excited about it most days. I don't think this is a curriculum problem as much as it is an instructor problem.  When I told her we were chosen to review another Spanish program, I have to be honest: she was not happy.  She protested right up until the minute the first lesson began.  But as soon as she “met” Elda on that Skype screen, she fell in love. 


Homeschool Spanish Academy uses bilingual teachers from countries whose native tongue is Spanish.  They offer several instructors from which to choose, along with a short biography of each one to help you decide.  I can’t tell you why we chose Elda other than her photo radiated her sweet spirit. And we were NOT disappointed. She indeed has a very sweet spirit and has been a very gentle teacher with Abbey, which is exactly what Abbey needs.

Prior to our first live lesson, we had a phone call from an IT manager with Homeschool Spanish Academy. He checked our Skype connection and our broadband speed.  Everything checked out and he was extremely helpful in answering my questions about how the sessions would work.

Abbey’s first class was a bit longer than the subsequent lessons, as Elda took time to get to know Abbey.  I introduced myself, and then, per Abbey’s request, I left the room and let her get to know Elda without me standing over her shoulder.



Each Homeschool Spanish Academy instructor uses a “shared screen” tool to allow the student to see their worksheet on the screen as the instructor and the student review it.  The first lesson began with the Spanish alphabet and the correct pronunciations of each letter.  This, of course, is so key to learning correct pronunciations for ALL Spanish words.  





“Aaaahhh, excellente’, Abbey!”  I heard coming from the computer in the next room as they went over the homework together.  I could just see Abbey grinning her sheepish grin in response to sweet Elda. After the Skype session ended each time, Elda immediately emailed us a link to Abbey’s homework. I would print it off and review with Abbey before the next week’s session, which I had previously scheduled online. Scheduling is easy and flexible. Rescheduling is too, by the way.   

Each week, a new worksheet is reviewed on the shared screen, followed by the 25-minute lesson, and the follow-up email with the link for me to print out the lesson and review it.  Some lessons, Abbey grasped immediately; some, not so much. She wanted to please Elda, and was devastated when she didn’t do so well, or couldn’t remember everything.





We have completed five lessons now and have two more scheduled for our review period.  Yesterday was our last lesson with Elda, as she is going on maternity leave. She stood up yesterday and showed us her precious baby belly and we all laughed together as we talked about having babies so many years apart (her first child is 10 years old and there are 11 years between my second and third babies).  We hope to schedule more classes with her when she returns to work in November. 

We have already purchased another seven classes, one per week, which is a half semester in the Early Language Program from Homeschool Spanish Academy.  We have chosen a new instructor, and I am looking forward to seeing  another teaching style.  Homeschool Spanish Academy instructors take copious notes on each student, so Abbey’s next instructor will know exactly where Abbey is on the progression scale prior to her next session.  

These folks are so professional and their customer service is top notch!  I sent an email over the weekend asking a question about how to register for the next semester, not expecting to hear back until Monday. I got a return email on Sunday, with a link to a YouTube video showing me exactly how to register.   There are, in fact, several helpful videos on their site that explain almost everything they do. 

My absolute favorite thing about Homeschool Spanish Academy : the instructors are able to correct Abbey in real time, so she does not waste time learning the language the WRONG way! This makes it worth every single penny, in my opinion!  

I can't wait until my sister comes to visit next month, so she and Abbey can practice speaking it every day! (My sister lived in the country of Panama for three years and became quiet fluent in the language.)  

Abbey's favorite things about the class: Nice teachers (she loved her some Elda), the shared screen (loved how cool that was), and the increasingly challenging lessons each time. 

The details:

Four levels of Spanish instruction are available: Early Language,  Middle School, High School, and Adult Programs. 

Three purchase options are available for the Early Language Program: Half Semester (7 weeks/1 class per week at $59), Full Semester (15 weeks/1 class per week for $99), OR Half Semester (7 weeks/2 classes per week at $104.99),  Full Semester (15 weeks/2 classes per week at $174.99).  So, on the high end, it's $8.57 per class, and on the low end, it's $5.83 per class.  [Please see their website for details on the pricing of the other programs.]

I consider foreign language training an investment in my child's future because of the country in which we live. I feel as if it will be very beneficial for her to know this language and feel very comfortable around it and being able to read and speak it. Homeschool Spanish Academy has done a great job in sharing their passion for their language, and I am sold on this style of learning!  





There are over forty other wonderful families that got the chance to review the different programs from Homeschool Spanish Academy. Please take time to check them out and learn more about what worked and didn't work for them, by clicking the Schoolhouse Review Crew blinking banner below! 





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Beauty Captured ~~08/29/13

Finding beauty in God's wonderful world. . .
An amazing display of God's artistry at the end of long day! 






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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Beauty Captured~~08/25/2013







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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recipe: Sour Cream Chicken

This is, by far, one of my family's favorite comfort foods. One of my dear friends shared this recipe with me when she and I were both still teenagers (you know, just yesterday.)  

You can use boneless chicken tenders instead of the breasts, and I have learned the higher quality the meat is, the better this dish will taste. 


Sour Cream Chicken


  • 4 large, thawed boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of sour cream, any brand (low fat may be substituted)
  • 1 sleeve original Ritz crackers (do not substitute)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese 
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (lower fat is fine)
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature (do not substitute)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and spray your glass baking dish with cooking spray. 

Mix crackers, cheese and spices in a shallow dish/pan and stir to mix. 

Put sour cream in a separate, small bowl.  

Rinse chicken and pat dry. 

Press chicken into sour cream, being sure to cover each piece completely. 

Immediately put chicken in the cracker mixture and cover completely. The sour cream will act like glue and allow the mixture to stick. 

Place the battered chicken in your baking dish. Repeat for each piece until dish is full. 

In the microwave or on top of stove, melt butter into milk just until combined.  Pour milk/butter mixture over the entire pan of chicken.  Do not cover. 

Cook for 30 minutes (may require less time if you are using chicken tenders and not full chicken breasts.) 

Enjoy! 

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

(Review) In the Hands of a Child--National Parks Curriculum Note Pack






I am a big fan of lapbooks and the way they allow the students (and teachers) to thoroughly explore a topic.  So I was thrilled to be chosen to review the National Parks Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child.   In the Hands of a Child has been producing quality lapbooking curricula for over 11 years, and has produced over 450 lapbooks for educators and children to enjoy.

Are you familiar with lapbooking?  In essence, it is an organized, kinesthetic way to study a particular topic.  Most lapbooks used a standard office file folder, folded into thirds, to serve as the canvas for the information learned.  Students read, color, cut, paste, journal, and more, and the results are shown on the file folder as a permanent record of the information they have learned.  It is very different than reading dry, boring text straight from a text and taking a quiz.  The hands-on aspect of lapbooking allows students to retain the information long after the unit has been completed.  Here is In the Hands of a Child’s explanation:

What is a Lapbook?
·         A 3-D presentation of what the child learned during her study
·         A collection of mini books and graphic organizers pulled together into a series of file folders
·         A hands-on approach to learning, replacing worksheets or other monotonous learning tools
·         A scrapbook
·         A unit study
·         A portfolio

So what is a Note Pack?  It is very similar to the file folder method, but the pages are laid out in a notebooking style so the student can 3-hole punch each page and store it in a small binder.  There is less cutting and pasting than a regular lapbook, and the material is laid out a bit differently. My daughter actually prefers this method, so we enjoyed learning about many of the wonderful American national parks included in this fun and interesting Project Pack.

What We Received
We received an instant download with a special password to the National Parks Project Pack, in the note pack format, which included suggested lesson plans, all reading materials, activity pages, suggested resources to explore, and an answer key to all activity pages.  Here’s a peek at the table of contents to give you a better idea of all the wonderful content contained within:


How We Used It

  • We studied the included vocabulary words, talked about the ones my daughter already knew, and made a note of the ones we needed to explore further.
  • We read through the very well laid out information on some of the most popular national parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Denali.   My dad, her grandfather, was a park ranger at both the Grand Canyon and the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we both had a huge interest in this topic. The note pack did not disappoint. 
  • The lesson plans included six days of activities and reading and research, and we followed that guide, adding a few extra things to our studies.  We were able to find wonderful documentaries online about several of the national parks.  Abbey was enthralled with the information, both in the National Parks Note Pack from In the Hands of a Child and from the documentaries.  She now wants to visit every national park in the United States! (So do I, by the way). If a curriculum makes your child feel that strongly about it, I think we would all agree, it's a winner. 

Here’s a shot of one of the activities in the pack: a postcard she created of her favorite national park—Denali National Park in Alaska.  She actually mailed this to her pen pal in Colorado last week. 



Here's another activity that was fun for my daughter, showing a couple of the largest and tallest natural features of our national parks: 



If you want to try lapbooking but are just not sure about all the arts and crafts part of it all, or your child is not really into all that much glue (like my rising 5th grader), I highly recommend the note packs from In the Hands of a Child. These are great for the older student. In the Hands of a Child has a TON of subjects to choose from, and these allow your child to learn in a very creative and in depth way.  As a wonderful bonus, they are all very affordable, which I know we all appreciate. 



The National Parks Note Pack is recommended for grades 4th – 8th and is priced at $12, but is currently on sale at only $5. That sale price won’t last long, so grab it while you can!




Want to read some more reviews about different project packs from In the Hands of a Child? Please click the blinking banner below and follow the links! You’ll be glad you did!




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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beauty Captured~~ 08/17/2013


Keep calm and know that God's got this.  He sends reminders every single day. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Finding beauty in everyday moments, a group of us are blogging about it through pictures, in conjunction with:










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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beauty Captured ~~08/14/2013

Finding beauty in everyday moments. . .A girl and her dog, best friends in so many ways! 





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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beauty Captured ~~ 08/13/2013

Finding beauty in the everyday moments of our lives. . .




©2012-2013 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

Friday, August 9, 2013

Random Five on Friday-- 08/09/2013



We had a yard sale last weekend, and here are the five random observations I made during that HOT day: 

1) Men buy much, much, much more junk than women do. 

2) Men buy more spontaneously than women do.  Women were on their cell phones calling people, asking their opinion on purchases, etc. Men were like, "Here's your 50 cents." 

3) August in Alabama is a really bad time to have a yard sale. Even if you start at 6 a.m. I was miserable. The humidity was 300% , at least. Thank goodness for portable fans and cold bottles of water. 

4) No matter how low you price things, sometimes you can't GIVE junk away. We ended up taking two truckloads of items to the thrift store at the end of the day. Oh, and one truck load went to the dump. 

5)  The jury is still out on whether the money we made is worth the effort it took to get it.  Let's just say if we don't have another yard sale for three more years, that will be too soon. 

Do you like having yard sales? Or just shopping at them? 













©2012-2013 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beauty Captured--08/08/2013

Finding beauty in the everyday things (or animals) in our lives

Sweet baby in the pasture! 


Click below for more beauty captured








©2012-2013 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beauty Captured--08/07/2013

Finding beauty in everyday things....


   ~~Nightfall over the pasture~


Click below to see more beauty captured










©2012-2013 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Beauty Captured ~~8/6/13


Gantt Lake, Alabama




Click below to see even more beauty captured:











©2012-2013 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beauty Captured-8/5/13

Swallow Tail Kite in my backyard!

Click below to see more:

©2012-2013 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

(Review) Brainfood Learning: The Fascinating World of Birds







We have been blessed with some great products to review this summer, and The Fascinating World of Birds DVD from Brainfood Learning is no exception. My animal-loving 5th grader couldn't wait to see what this new video was all about!  This 44-minute DVD is very educational, but I bet your kids won't even realize they're learning until it's all over.

The Fascinating World of Birds is appropriate for all ages, and there is no "fluff" in the narration (which we loved).  Each video segment featuring a different bird is viewable independently from each other, so that you can spread the viewing out over several days, or you may chose the "Play All" option as well.  We chose to watch it in two sittings.

The birds species featured on this DVD include:
  • Ostrich
  • Penguin
  • Canada Goose
  • Owl
  • Hummingbird
  • Woodpecker
  • Macaw
  • Pelican
  • American Robin
  • Eagle  

Here's a preview from the Brainfood Learning website, so you can get a real feel for what to expect:



As a bonus for the home learning setting, a multi-section review is included at the end of the DVD. The review questions range from easy to advanced, so all ages can participate in this section as well. Here are some examples of what you'll see in this section:





As another added bonus, Brainfood Learning has now produced a wonderful companion lesson plan PDF for each video in their Fascinating World series.  These are available for FREE on their website under the "Curriculum" tab. Here is the link to lesson plan guide to The Fascinating World of Birdshttps://www.brainfoodlearning.com/content/birds_lesson_plan.pdf.  This guide has most definitely helped us really dive more deeply into learning everything we can about the birds presented in this video.



Ready to purchase yours?  Click here to purchase The Fascinating World of Birds DVD for only $14.99! You won't be disappointed! (At least, in my opinion).  Want to read what others thought of this DVD and two other titles from Brainfood Learning? Click the blinking banner to find more reviews from my fellow Crew Mates! 






©2013-2014 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. www.coffeecobwebsandcurriculum.blogspot.com

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