Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sunya Publishing {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}

One of Lauren's favorite things is when I declare a "game day" for school. Our days would definitely be more enjoyable if I did a better job of incorporating educational games into our regular school days. Recently I added Sunya -- The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science, Multiplying & Dividing, ages 9+ by Sunya Publishing to our growing game collection.

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}

The Sunya set came with a deck of 60 cards containing numbers, wild cards, and mathematical signs; a deck of 30 math and science riddle cards; a soft-cover instruction booklet; and a Sunya number line to help during the game.

I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw a twenty-five page book for the instructions. I took a deep breath and realized that the instructions for the basic game were only seven pages long. Still a bit much, but not quite so bad. As I read through the instructions carefully, I realized that the game itself was much more simple than I first thought.

Basically, the point of Sunya is to make number sentences (in this case, either multiplication or division sentences) with the cards. So far, we've only played the game as multiplication problems. It plays the same way when making division sentences.



The Sunya twist to simply making number sentences is that you can take advantage of the cards already in play to help make a correct equation. In the picture below, my husband made the number sentence 3 x 8 = 24 by using an 8 and a 4 card from his hand. The previous sentence had been 3 x 7 = 21. By placing his 8 on top of the 7 and his 4 on top of the 1 in the ones place of the answer, he got a new sentence.


As you may have noticed from our pictures, we've chosen not to hide our cards when we play (a suggestion I found in the Sunya instruction book). Lauren stays more engaged in the game when she's trying to help me figure out a way to use my cards and isn't just waiting for her next turn.

Like I said earlier, the instructions are rather long. As I read through them time and time again, it reminds me of the long list of house rules our family has developed for playing Monopoly. (For instance, collecting tax money and giving it away when someone lands on Free Parking.) The long explanations primarily add in extra tricks or rules that aren't absolutely necessary. We follow most of the easier rules about not putting a card down on a matching one and not putting cards down to reverse the initial equation, but I haven't introduced the more complicated rules to Lauren yet.

One of Lauren's favorite rules is the end of the game. The winner of Sunya is the first person to get rid of all the cards in their hand. That player plays his final turn and then declares, "Sunya!" which means empty. Lauren thinks this is a lot like trying to get rid of all her cards when playing Uno. In fact, she often yells, "Suno!" at the end of the game instead of "Sunya!"

After the winner calls "Sunya," they get to choose the top card from the math and science deck to read to the rest of the players. It's not necessarily an integral part of the game, but it adds a bit of fun to the end of each game. Sometimes Lauren and I figured out the answer to a card, but other times we skipped them.


Lauren loves getting to add the Sunya Publishing card game to our math lessons, and I like the way it challenges her thinking skills. She's learned to look at the cards and think through all the possible multiplication facts that can be created. She's not just answering rote multiplication problems on a worksheet, she's practicing all of her facts while playing.

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}

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©2009-2016 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Monday, May 23, 2016

Science Shepherd {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Science Shepherd Review

I'm embarrassed to admit that one of the subjects that often gets overlooked in our busy school days is science. It's partly because I haven't found a curriculum that fits well into our school days.

Recently, we've been working with the Introductory Science materials from Science Shepherd, and I'm happy to report that Lauren is finally learning basic science concepts.

Science Shepherd Review

Each day's lesson includes a short video and at least one page to complete in the consumable student workbook. We've been using the Level B workbook geared for ages 9-11; it also comes as an easier A level workbook for ages 6-8. The video lessons are generally no more than five minutes in length, and it usually doesn't take Lauren more than fifteen minutes to complete a day's work.

I think the video lessons are rather dry, but Lauren hasn't complained. The teacher spends much of the videos sitting at a desk, similar to the way a newscaster would. Graphics to explain the concepts either appear behind the news desk or take over the screen.



The information in the lessons is presented in a very straight-forward style, but it sometimes covers new information at a faster pace than Lauren can keep up with. Thankfully, she can pause and replay the video as much as she needs.

After the video, the workbook has a series of questions to answer. Lauren often watches the video lesson a second or third time in order to figure out the correct answers.


A lot of the lessons include simple activities that further illustrate the concepts covered in the lesson. For instance, in one lesson, Lauren saw an additional video that showed how to make a pinecone birdfeeder so that she could observe birds in our backyard. (Ours is made with sunbutter so that it would be safer for the nut allergies in our house.) On another day, she colored and cut out different flowers so that she could practice classifying them in different ways.



At the end of each week, the workbook has a crossword puzzle to review the new terms learned in that unit.


I am rather impressed with this curriculum. The lessons are short, but full of basic science information. It introduces scientific terms and defines them accurately. For instance, Lauren can now define words such as evaporation, precipitation, and hypothesis. It covers a wide range of science topics appropriate for elementary students, including meteorology, geology, astronomy, life science (plants, animals, and human beings), and some physical science concepts.


Science Shepherd considers these materials to be a complete science curriculum appropriate for students ages 6 through 11 (roughly first through sixth grade). I am a bit hesitant to recommend this program for upper elementary students, though. I would expect upper elementary science students to be delving more deeply into science concepts and not flying through them at such a fast pace.

That said, this program is perfect for Lauren. I recently realized that Lauren does not do well at just absorbing information; she needs to be explicitly taught new words and concepts. Furthermore, since she has had little direct science instruction over the past few years, much of this basic knowledge is new to her. She knew what rain was but needed this program to help her connect her experiences with rain to the definition "liquid water falling from the clouds." Short lessons with direct instruction in basic concepts is exactly what we needed to add to her school days.


The Introductory Science video course with12 month access costs $35 and each workbook (either Level A or B) costs $15. The answer booklet for parents/teachers costs $3.

Science Shepherd Review

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©2009-2016 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com


Friday, May 20, 2016

Cristi 3, Diabetes 0

It's been a few years, but I used to keep track of all of my big success over diabetes. I posted the first score card when I successfully completed a sprint triathlon (Diabetes Didn't Win), and the second when I finished my second half marathon (Diabetes Still Didn't Win).

This week brought on a new challenge -- the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs, CO.


The Manitou Incline, or just "The Incline" as it is commonly referred to around here, is a popular hiking destination that will challenge any athlete. It gains over 2000 feet in elevation in less than a mile with an average grade of slightly more than 40%.

Tim told the complete story of our adventure on his blog. I'm just bragging about how I made it to the top (and back down an adjoining 2.5 mile trail) while still keeping my blood sugar in a safe and healthy range.

We made it to the top!

A few weeks ago, a friend fighting back against type 2 diabetes said that "diabetes messed with the wrong person." Similarly, type 1 diabetes picked a fight with the wrong person when it decided to mess with me.


©2009-2016 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Monday, May 16, 2016

Poetry Memorization with IEW {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

I don't often have a chance to listen to homeschool speakers, but a few summers ago I downloaded a few dozen audio talks to listen to on a long road trip. (All the children had their own electronic devices and headphones.) My favorite talks from that trip were recordings of Andrew Pudewa from Instititute for Excellence in Writing talk about communication skills, language development, and learning in general.

One thing Andrew Pudewa said that sticks out in my mind is that kids need to hear "reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns" so that they have can produce quality written work. That quote is repeated in the introductory pages of the Teacher's Manual for the Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization program.

"You can't get something out of a child's brain that isn't in there to begin with. If he is a native speaker of English, he needs one thing above all else, and that is this: a large database in his brain of reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns." (p. 5)

Memorization, especially poetry memorizations, helps student build a rich language database that will later enable them to be effective writers in years to come.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

The Language Development through Poetry Memorization program includes the Teacher's Manual, a set of five CDs which contain audio versions of all five levels of poems/speeches, and a DVD recording of Andrew Pudewa's talk "Nurturing Competent Communicators." In addition, the materials include codes so that I could download a total of seven audio MP3s (including Nurturing Competent Communicators). The student pages are included in the program as a pdf file for you to print yourself or can be purchased separately as a printed notebook.


In the past, I tried to introduce poetry memorization into our days but was never able to do it consistently. This program is working for us. More importantly, Lauren loves it.

The audio recordings of the poems are fabulous. I've loaded the first set on my iPhone so that it's easy for me to play them whenever we're ready to study. Having the printed copies of the poems is good, but the audio versions make study more accessible and fun. Lauren is also learning the value of vocal expressions by listen to Andrew Pudewa read the poems. Honestly, he does a better job of reading the poems than I would, and it's easy to replay them over and over when it's not me having to do the reading each time.

Lauren's favorite poem is the first one of the series, perhaps because she gets the joke. You can tell she's picked up on the art of being expressive when reciting poetry.



Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization is based on the mastery approach to learning. The student learns one piece until they can recite it without any mistakes before moving on. When a second poem is added, the student recites both the old poem and the new one. The first few poems were relatively short, and Lauren memorized them in only a few days each. The one she is working on now, "After the Party" by William Wise, is a bit longer. She's working on learning a stanza per day for it and will likely take more than a week to get the whole thing perfected.

We've been using the Student Pages for her to follow along with while we play the audio version of the poem, and often she looks back at the printed poem when she practices on her own. After she finishes learning a poem, she colors the picture. All in all, we spend no more than 10 minutes per day working on poetry, with some additional coloring time on those days. I'll share both her student page and her recitation of this poem. (She insisted that I needed to include two videos in this review).




The Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization has been a valuable and fun addition to our homeschool days. I look forward to learning the rest of the poems with Lauren. More importantly, I look forward to seeing her writing improve as she attains a large database of "reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns" over the next few years.


The set is available from Institute for Excellence in Writing for $65 and is suitable for students of all ages. Printed copies of the student pages are available separately for $19 each.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

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©2009-2016 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Blogging Through the Alphabet Champions

A very special thank you to everyone that joined us on our Blogging Through the Alphabet journey. I'm still catching up a bit on reading through all the entries -- some of my weeks turned out to be far crazier than I ever expected.

I really do appreciate all of you that blogged and commented over the past seven months. Whether you joined us once, twice, or twenty-something times, I'm thankful for you.



Without further ado, I'd like to recognize the bloggers that linked up for all twenty-six weeks:

Carter Chaos

A Learning Journey

Lynn's LIFE

Homeschool Coffee Break

Mom's Heart

Living the Dream

Joyful Hearts and Faces

My Full Heart

Unexpected Homeschool

Meg used a random number generator which picked #2 to win our special prize -- A Learning Journey! We'll be sending you a $26 gift card to your choice of Starbucks or Amazon.

A Learning Journey

Once again, thank you all for joining us. At this time, I don't think I have another twenty-six stories left to share, and I'm not going to start another blogging journey through the alphabet. Meg may have something up her sleeves, but I don't think it will start until the Fall.


©2009-2016 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Zeezok Music Appreciation {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

I've recently noticed that I'm far more successful with teaching Lauren when she's interested in the subject material. I was thrilled to hear about a way that I could incorporate Lauren's love for music into our school days. (Studying music also helps alleviate my guilt about not making time in our days for fun subjects.)

The Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades package from Zeezok Publishing LLC is absolutely amazing!

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

We received the complete package with a Music Appreciation work text, the biographies of all seven composers, five CDs of music, and pdf files for the lapbook activities on another CD. According to the publisher, it's perfectly okay to start with any composer so we chose to start with Handel. (No real reason other than the fact that I think I have a story CD about Handel that I could add to our lessons.)

From a teacher standpoint, I love the way the materials are organized. The weekly checklist of activities keeps us on track and also gives me the flexibility to divide the assignments to do more on some days, less on others.


Each week starts with reading a chapter out of the corresponding biography. Lauren and I loved reading these books together. The biographies included enough interesting tidbits from the composer's life to make the story come alive, but not so much detail that Lauren got lost in the readings. For instance, she has often remembered that Handel would sneak up to the attic late at night and practice playing his spinet in the cold. She also remembers the story of Johann Sebastian Bach walking from Leipzig to Halle, Germany so that he could meet Handel and missing him by only a few minutes. (Lauren says we should therefore study Bach next.)

I read the selections from the biographies aloud to Lauren and found that they lent themselves well to being read-alouds. I didn't find myself stumbling over words or awkward phrases the way I do with some books I've tried to read lately. According to the readability scores for a few passages, they are written at roughly a sixth to eighth grade level. The books area also nicely illustrated with enough pictures to engage Lauren's interest while I read and to add to the story lines. Budding pianists will also find the music for simplified versions of Handel's music. The same pieces are included on the music appreciation CDs.


After reading a chapter from the biography, Lauren and I worked on the comprehension questions together. There were a nice mixture of simple facts to remember and some thinking questions.  For instance, a question regarding chapter two asked, "At the end of this chapter, what evidence do we have that Mother Handel supported George's musical efforts and desires?"


After reading the biography, we listened to music selections, added activities to her lapbook, and studied some general music concepts.


Not only does this curriculum introduce famous composers, it also gives elementary students a solid introduction to general music concepts. In our study of Handel, we also discussed instruments (the spinet and the oboe), dynamics (forte vs. piano), tempo, timbre, and more.


I am very impressed with this curriculum. It is so much more than just a study about a single composer. As we read Handel's biography, we talked about how particular incidents in his life illustrated admirable character qualities. For instance, Handel was diligent with his practicing his music and undaunted when he left his parents at the age of eleven to go study with music masters in Berlin. At the end of the month, we reviewed all the character qualities we'd talked about in the previous four weeks.



This music appreciation course from Zeezok Publishing LLC is perhaps Lauren's favorite thing we've studied this year. It's been a wonderful addition to our school days!


The complete Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades curriculum costs $169.99 and is suitable for elementary students. I'd recommend it most for older elementary students, probably fourth through sixth grade students. A second volume, Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades, is in the works and will be geared to the middle grades (fifth through eighth).

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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©2009-2016 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced. http://throughthecalmandthroughthestorm.blogspot.com

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