Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scripture and a Snapshot ~~03/30/14

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. ~Luke 18:16

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Random Five on Friday ~~ 3/28/14

Five things I love about being a foster parent: 

1)  Gaining perspective-this is real life, people. All is grace.

2)  Never getting my fill of the sweet cuddles from malleable newborns. 

3)  Being wonderfully inspired by the bravery of the birth moms. 

4) Getting to be a part of the joy of the forever families on adoption day. 

5) Being so very sure of the calling on my life. 

Random Five on Friday is a Blog Hop! Click the birdhouse below to see more!

Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or check out my Facebook page. Subscribe to this blog and have each post delivered straight to your inbox! ©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.

Spelling You See {A Review}


Spelling You See is a brand new, very exciting program from Demme Learning, the makers of Math-U-See.  Their wonderful reputation in the homeschooling community precedes them, so we were thrilled to be chosen to review the Spelling You See: Americana (Level D)! 

spelling programs

     The entire Spelling You See program combines history, poetry, English, writing, grammar, spelling, listening skills, and dictation exercises in a methodical, systematic yet engaging and exciting way.  The daily exercises are very, very manageable for squirmy worms of all ages, allowing them small victories and a real sense of progression and confidence throughout the program. 

How it Works
         Placement is not based on grade but on the student’s level of language development. One of the many things I love about this program is the fact they don’t have you choose a level for your student based on reading level, but rather based on his/her spelling level.  My daughter, 10 years old, is an excellent reader; she is reading at a 7th grade level and doing really well with chapter books, but her spelling is atrocious and it has frustrated me beyond words.  She is somehow just not making the connection between translating what she knows in her brain down to paper and into her writing. 
            Keeping this in mind, I chose the Americana Level for her because of the word-extension stage in which I believed her to be.  This level focuses on syllables within words, as well as prefixes and suffixes.  If you're not sure about which level on which to start your own child(ren), I encourage you to check out the helpful page from the Spelling U See website, by clicking here

There are three core activities within the Americana Level:
Chunking—Your student will use colored pencils (included with purchase) to mark certain letter patterns found within the passage.  This is done for each lesson, and not just for busywork, but in a methodical way to get your student in the habit of seeing the different letter combinations and which ones are making which sounds. Underneath each passage are boxes with the chunks your student is to look for and mark in each passage. 
     Consonant chunks are marked with blue pencils, vowel chunks with yellow pencils, "bossy r" chunks with purple, ending chunks with pink, and so forth.  It is very important to the program for your child to consistently use the colored pencils as prescribed. The visual, relational aspect of the colored chunks, solidifies the spelling patterns for your child. It is a major part of the success of this program, in my opinion.

spelling programs

Copywork—Each day, your student will be writing the given passage after reading through it with you. In the Americana level, non-fiction history lessons are the passages, thus giving the students some sneaky, extra learning (which I loved).  The student will only write for 10 minutes, no more.  If they complete the portion of the passage they are required to write for that day in less than 10 minutes, then they are done. If they don’t complete it in 10 minutes, they stop anyway. 
     On the first three days of the lesson, the chunking and copywork are repeated in this format: reading, chunking, copywork.  

homeschooling spelling

homeschooling spelling

The consumable workbook allows ample space for your student to write: 

spelling programs

Dictation—On the fourth and fifth days of the lessons, still using the same passage, you will dictate the passage to your student.  On the first day of dictation, you will be helping the student with grammar and spelling as needed.  You encourage them to cross through any misspelled words or errors, and then quickly move on.  Again, you will spend no more than 10 minutes on the dictation portion of the lesson. On the last day of dictation, you will dictate the passage to them, and they will copy the passage without help.   By the time they get to this fifth day of chunking and copywork, you will be amazed at how their brains have remembered the spelling patterns and have learned to “decode and encode” what they are seeing within each word.  My daughter’s progress has been very amazing.
     There are 36 lessons, divided into 2 student workbooks, and an Instructor’s Handbook, which lays out the daily lessons, offers helpful tips on how to teach this program, and provides answers for the chunking sections.

       If you encounter a question in the process, as I did, the customer service at Demme Learning is top notch, and will help you in any way they can with very prompt responses. And we all know how important great customer service is!  

Want to see a sample before deciding? 
Check out this sample lesson from Spelling You See: Americana.  

Bottom Line
     This program is very user-friendly for both teacher and student and does not take a lot of lesson preparation, which we all love.  As Abbey began working through the lessons, she immediately felt confidence in seeing her spelling improve from one day to the next.  As she memorized the letter patterns found in the words she already knew, I could see her work faster and faster with her copywork.  After not being able to finish a lesson in 10 minutes the first two days of working, she started having fun trying to beat her own time (while still having good handwriting) each day.  
     My daughter can now do a lesson in well under the 10-minute mark, and the mistakes have become fewer and fewer.  Even the grammar--noticing where commas should go and which words should be capitalized--are all increasing her confidence as a young writer.  I highly recommend this for any struggling speller in your home, whether you homeschool or not!
       I absolutely love it when I can recommend a great program AND it is affordable! Spelling You See: Americana is sold for $44 (as a set).  This includes the Instructor's Handbook, Two Student Workbooks, and a set of colored pencils (used for chunking).  You can also purchase the Instructors Handbook and Student Workbooks separately, helpful for when you have multiple students working in the same level.  The Instructor's Handbook is $14, and the set of two Student Workbooks is $30.  

     The Schoolhouse Review Crew Members have been using different levels of Spelling You See with their students for several weeks, so if there's a different level you want to learn more about, please click the banner below and enjoy visiting the different homeschooling blogs to read about their experiences!


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Runway Lights

I was watching a show on the National Geographic Channel the other day and was amazed at how God leaves no detail unnoticed.  I learned that pollinating insects like bees, wasps, etc., see flowers with ultraviolet vision, thus making the flowers look like targets with runway lights, so the insects know exactly where to land.  This ensures the continuation of both the insects and the flowers.

God Mercy Wisdom

God Mercy Wisdom

God Mercy Wisdom

God Mercy Wisdom

Absolutely amazing!

I was thinking on this several days later, and thinking how great it would be if the Lord gave us ultraviolet vision on the tough days. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the exact path we should take when we're confused, or hurting, or struggling to make the right decisions?

Why do you think that is? Why do you think He doesn't lay it all out, nice and neat, for us? I think it's because He knows that if He did so---if He showed us the runway lights in a literal way---we wouldn't seek His face or we wouldn't get in the Word as we should. 

We would get spiritually lazy.  And slothfulness and idleness lead to nothing good, and certainly will not allow us to serve the Lord as we should.

I do realize that sometimes God does allow us those rare moments where things are crystal clear so that the airport beacon is loudly and proudly swinging around for us to see, and we get to know without a doubt the path we should take.   He is merciful if nothing else, and for those moments I am very grateful.  But more often than not, we are required to use the Holy Spirit to be our eyes, and the longer we spend studying His plan for us, the clearer our vision becomes. 

Open your Bible and open your heart, deploy the landing gear, and buckle up! The answers are out there and it's going to be a great journey! 



God's wisdom


Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11


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Friday, March 14, 2014

Mango Languages--{A Review}

Mango Languages is an online foreign language program, but it is so much more than just a cut-and-dry, rote memorization program. And it really came along at just the right time in our homeschool year.  

In the past, my daughter Abbey has tried to learn both Latin and Spanish.  While she did pretty well with them, she didn’t love them.  Enter Mango Homeschool Edition, the latest curriculum we were privileged to review. It's still in the Beta stage, but even so, it is a fascinating program.  

Mango Languages allows homeschool students to choose from over 60 foreign languages and ESL courses, and each student can learn as many languages as they would like within those choices.  All you need to get started is a computer, internet access, and an optional microphone. 

Can't decide which one to tackle first or not sure if your student can handle a complex language? Each language has a "demo" mode, so you can get a great feel for each one prior to moving forward.   The majority of the languages are recommended for ages 6 to adult, but you know your child best, and can help them choose one that will not be too overwhelming (or too easy) for them. 


Guess which language my 5th grader chose? Nope. Guess again! Dutch!!! I was like, “Why do you want that one, honey?”  She replied, “I wanted to choose one that may have been one our ancestors would have spoken.”  Made sense to me, so off we went on our new foreign language adventure.

Mango Languages is unique in that it teaches in a really conversational style with real life scenarios--a great feature for those of you considering traveling to a foreign country any time soon---and offers many great features that other online programs may not. They are connected with Saywire, a wiki learning, online program that allows for document creation, built-in journals, discussions within each language center, eNote messaging, and [very safe] chat rooms.  It is truly an interactive learning space. 

Other great features currently on the site, and/or about to be added to the site: 
  • Access to embedded/downloaded content
  • Support from other community members
  • Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups
  • Enhanced tracking and progress monitoring, including seat time for students 
  • Goals and personal lesson plans (both standalone and tied into Mango courses)
  • Resume and portfolio builder 
Worried about how to navigate through all those features?  A wonderful drop down help menu is available for every section of the website: 


For the each language, lessons are broken into different categories called “Journeys.”  These journeys cover scenarios that would help a foreigner quickly adapt to their new environment.  Here is a view of what the Dutch Journey covered: 


Now let me show you screenshots from within the actual Dutch program, and I'll make some comments about some of the great features of Mango Languages as you scroll . . .


Each lesson introduces entire conversational sentences, then begins to break them down into each word, before finally putting them all together once again.  See the little speaker icon next to the Dutch version of the sentence? A lovely female voice or a nice male voice will read each sentence in Dutch. A "Replay" button in the top left corner of the screen allows students to replay the sentence as often as needed before moving on.  And a "See Literal Meeting" button allows them to see the literal translation for English.  It is very helpful in the understanding of the syntax of each sentence. 

homeschool online

In the screen above, you can see how each sentence is broken down into smaller sections in order to learn each word one-by-one.  Again, the speaker icon there means you or your student can hear the words being spoken in Dutch (or whichever language in which you are working). 

homeschool online

Another example of a full sentence is shown above.  Notice the color coding?  That allows the student to see, at-a-glance, which word in Dutch is the translation of the English word(s) above it.  For example, "to meet" in Dutch is "kennis maken," even though the syntax is not the same.  This is a very helpful feature for my visual learning style child. 

homeschool online

Above you see the same sentence, and I wanted to show you the feature of being able to hover over each word.  The program will 
s-l-o-w-l-y read each word out loud for you, allowing you to really focus on the correct pronunciation.  

homeschool online

 Here's another cool feature: see the microphone icon next to the speaker icon? Clicking that allows the student to speak into their microphone (the one built-in to your computer or an accessory one).  The student says the phrase in Dutch and Mango Languages shows them how close they are to the correct pronunciation! Great for immediate feedback, huh?  

homeschool online

Here's one of my favorite features tucked into the lessons: Cultural Notes. In the English language, we have certain words that are used in certain ways, based on the situation. The same is true for many foreign languages, as noted above in this example from the Dutch language. 

Abbey spends about 20 - 30 minutes per day, four days a week, working through each lesson.  Sometimes she will repeat the same lesson the next day in order to get a better grasp of certain phrases. Although not yet available in Dutch, most of the languages offered by Mango Homeschool Edition allow students to take a quiz regarding the previous lessons, and they offer PDFs for printing and additional classwork. 

Bottom line: We would have never sought out the Dutch language to learn had we not been chosen to review this wonderful program from Mango Languages.  It has been such a surprising success for my daughter that I am now a huge fan of this company! 

The lessons are user-friendly, so my daughter can move through the lessons on her own, without much interaction from me.  I do wish that the Dutch language program had quizzes and written worksheets to help with the reinforcement of learning a new language, but because we were reviewing a Beta version of the Homeschool Edition, I expect to be seeing many upgrades they make over the coming weeks. 

If you are even considering allowing your child to learn a foreign language at some point in the future, please check out Mango Homeschool Edition!  For high schoolers seeking foreign language credit, I encourage you to contact Mango Languages and ask them specific questions about your student and the language they choose. 

Pricing for subscriptions (one student with access to all 60 languages)

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total
2 subscriptions are $28/month or $175/year total
3 subscriptions are $38/month or $225/year total
4 subscriptions are $48/month or $275/year total
5 subscriptions are $58/month or $325/year total

Please note: Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group. 

You can connect with Mango Languages via their many social media sites to learn more about them! 

Foreign Language Homeschool

There is a wonderful group of homeschool families that were privileged to review Mango Homeschool Edition, so I encourage you to visit many of their blogs to see which languages they chose to learn, and which features were the most meaningful to them! Click the banner below to be connected! 

Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or check out my Facebook page.  ©2014-2015 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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Egglo Entertainment {A Review}

glow in the dark easter egg games
As soon as we saw this unique product, we knew we had to have it. Egglo Entertainment has created a very creative set of tools to help our children understand the true meaning of Easter. 

We were honored to have been chosen to review Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs, The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure (book), The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure (book audio download), Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls, and The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide.

glow in the dark easter egg games


The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure (book audio download) . . .$2.99

These wonderful Easter story tools were created with children of all ages in mind. The creator, Darcie Cobos, is a veteran police detective who saw many domestic abuse situations and had a heart for the children who were the innocents in such a dark world.  She was inspired to create tools to help children and adults alike find the true meaning of the Light of the World.  With these wonderful Glow in the Dark Easter Egglo Eggs, and Easter egg hunt games and stories, I think she has accomplished her mission quite successfully. They are a gentle reminder of Jesus and the light that He is in this dark world. 

How we used it:

When we first got the eggs, we ‘charged’ them in the sun on the window sill for about 30  minutes and then took them to the laundry room (no windows and dark) and ooh-ed and ah-ed at their beautiful glow.  The set of twelve eggs  come in a handy storage box, but you will need to remove them from the box for "charging" them to obtain the best glow. 

glow in the dark easter egg games

After listening to The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Book (audio) and following along in the gorgeous softcover book, Abbey got excited about the eggs, so she and I started discussing different ways the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs and Scripture Scrolls could be used.  The book is very colorful, and the story is extremely engaging.  It is an excellent read-aloud for younger kids, and a challenging reader for older kids.  The story is exciting and character-building, weaving adventure and scripture throughout.  

easter stories

easter stories

easter stories

easter stories

My daughter and I then decided a party with friends was in order, so we started planning! The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide offered a lot of wonderful ways the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs can be used in the homeschool or church group settings.  We planned an (early) Easter party here at the house with my daughter’s friends, to incorporate them and share the message of the eggs and the message of Jesus.

Egglo Entertainment’s website provided me with a sample scavenger hunt to use (under the Egglo All Year section) and I printed it out and followed the instructions for clues and scripture to use with the girls. It was an absolute hit!
Six giggly 10 and 11-year olds ran around with flashlights and glow sticks searching and reading the clues to the next hidden egg. 

easter party games

easter egg games

easter egg hunting games

easter egg hunting games

I hid both an Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls and a clue to the next hidden egg in each Glow in the Dark Egglo Egg.  

We hid the eggs both inside and outside to keep the girls guessing.  Near the rocks; near the fire; in the bathtub; under the bed! 

glow in the dark easter eggs

The final clue led them to a cross (Abbey and her BFF made it earlier from wood scraps in her daddy's workshop.)   At the foot of that cross, the girls and I talked about their role in this dark world, and how they represent Christ.  It was a good exercise and I could tell they "got" it.  As they ran off to hide the eggs on their own again, I was left feeling the mission of the Easter eggs had been accomplished. 

glow in the dark easter egg games

One thing to note, I "charged" the eggs in the direct sunlight for about three hours prior to hiding them.  I hid them only a few minutes before the girls actually started the scavenger hunt. The glow lasted about 45 minutes, plenty of time to finish the hunt and allow them to hide them again. A blacklight or regular light also works well for rainy day Easter games, too. 

These Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs can be used over and over again, year after year, so the small investment is very worth it.  You will be able to use it as a fun activity for all year round!  

I encourage you to check the Egglo Entertainment website for videos and more ideas and products! You can also "follow" them on social media for all the latest products and videos! 







And I especially encourage you to check out how other homeschooling families used this same product by clicking the banner below

Thank you for reading!! Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or check out my Facebook page. Subscribe to this blog and have each post delivered straight to your inbox! ©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.



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