Thursday, September 22, 2011

LIttle Cabin Update

I have such respect for those moms of the past who had no choice but to harvest and put up all of their family's food, no matter what obstacles were in their way (like a baby trying to walk and getting into EVERYTHING).  Learning to produce some of our family's food and cooking from scratch and preserving much of it from farmer's markets while we have a baby in the house has been a real eye opener.  We managed to accomplish a lot, but I am so thankful that we do not have to depend on what we were able to put away, because, while it was better than nothing, it was woefully inadequate for our family's needs.  We froze or dehydrated many gallons of berries and figs, several gallons of squash and many quarts of other veggies.  We also canned lots of salsa, tomato juice, figs and a few jars of various pickled veggies. 

We have reached the one year mark on our hen's egg production and our girls are still laying well.  We had a few weeks this summer when we were getting fewer eggs because we had a broody hen who was hoarding the eggs and sitting on any she saw, including all newly laid eggs.  We handled the situation by sending her to live with my Dad's hens.  She is doing very well there and has not tried to sit on eggs since her move.  Our new hens are beginning to lay.  We are finding pullet eggs in the laying box.  So fun :)  Our plans for chickens next spring include raising a meat flock and maybe trying our hand a turkeys as well.

Our peas are almost done producing as are the tomatoes.  We put in lettuce a few weeks ago and that is growing well.  I am behind on planting the spinach, kale and beets.  I need to do that today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Vocabulary Spelling City

I've been given a premium membership to for a candid, personal, online review. helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as Crossword Puzzle, HangMan, and Handwriting Worksheets. Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of free teaching resources such as sound-alike words, and contractions. Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.

There might be more free memberships available for bloggers. If you're interested, find out how you can review

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Time4Learning Review

Last month, our family was invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid curriculum review. Time4Learning can be used as an online homeschooling program or afterschool tutorial. We chose to use it for one month as a supplement to our homeschooling program. I am pleased to be able to offer this review of Time4Learning.

I'm not sure why, but until this opportunity, I had never considered using an online homeschool program. I suppose maybe I was a little biased against using the computer for teaching, thinking that my children would not learn as well if there was not a live teacher planning and implementing the lessons. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my children (both boys) have absolutely loved Time4Learning and have learned and retained so much.

I have always had a challenge with getting my children to dig in and work on phonics, grammar and math, the basic building blocks of learning. They knew enough to get by, but really didn't like any of the programs or methods we had used for learning these things. For them, school should be about science, history, art and creative writing. This last month has been such a blessing because my children have actually looked forward to practicing reading, math and grammar on Time4Learning.

Time4Learning teaches using interactive flash based animation. A concept is explained, examples are shown and then the child is given the opportunity to try out some examples. Following the lesson, the child is usually given a game to play which is designed to reinforce the lesson. The lessons are well designed and my children enjoyed them very much. My children also really enjoyed the games that go along with the lesson. In fact, as I watched them working on their lessons, I too found myself drawn into the games. They are well thought out and fun while still being challenging enough to satisfy my desire for my children to learn. At the end of each learning module, there is a quiz to test learning. The results of these quizzes are available to the parents, as are the times and lengths of the child's log in and the lessons covered.

This last month, we used the Language Arts, Language Arts Extension and Math modules. We did not use Science or Social Studies modules during this free trial period as we already use both science and history programs that we love. We are going to continue using Time4Learning in our homeschool now that our free trial is over and I would like to try these two modules at some point. Though we did not use them, I did look them over and I think that the science module in particular could bring up some interesting topics for my children. In addition to the online lessons, Time4Learning also includes a supply list for science activities. We did not try any of these during our month, but I intend to try some in the coming months. When we do I would like to try to post something about them.

Having never used an online curriculum before, I was not sure what to expect in terms of technical issues. When we log on to Time4Learning, a new window pops up. We then have to click on a link in that window and it takes us to that child's lessons. The pop up windows were a bit confusing at first, especially to my children, but after a few days, they got used to it and figured things out, though there was some frustration before we figured things out. We used two different computers, one for each child, and found that on one of our computers, Time4Learning worked great on Mozilla browser, but on the other, we had problems with Mozilla and but it works better on Explorer. On thing we love about Time4Learning is that as a lessons and games are completed, the program keeps track of where the child is in the work. Some of the lesson modules are long, with several parts. I love that Time4Learning keeps track of where my children are in their work so that if they stop or are interrupted, it is easy for them to find their place again.

Time4Learning has offers parent reports so that you can track your students' work, tech support so that you can get help with computer issues and a parent's forum to connect with other parents. Also available is something called the playground which is a fun games area of the website. Parents can set required lesson time (this month, I had the children do a minimum of 30 minutes in lessons) and after that time is completed, the children can then play games on the playground for a specified period of time, also at the parents' discretion (I set this time at 20 minutes). Some of these games are arcade type games, but others are learning games and my children have deemed them all fun.

As I mentioned previously, we have decided to continue using Time4Learning in our homeschool. We had a baby in January. Having part of our schooling planned and taught by someone else has been a blessing and this has freed my time up to work on even more amazing science, art and history lessons. When I told my children that I had decided to continue with Time4Learning both boys were thrilled. Thank you, Time4Learning, for this opportunity to try and review your site.

If you are a Time4Learning member and would like to add anything, please feel free to comment. If you are interested in Time4Learning and have a question, please include it in the comments. I will do my best to answer all questions.