TOS Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Unless you are fortunate enough to speak a second language, or have a gift for languages, teaching your child a foreign language can be a challenge. However, learning languages can be a big enrichment to your child’s education, and for college-bound children, they are often a requirement. For this review, we got to check out Middle School Spanish 2 from Middlebury Interactive Languages.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

This course, designed for grades 6-8 is a continuation of Middle School Spanish 1, which my son took last year. Since it starts with Unit 19, I would say it would be pretty hard for a student to begin with Spanish 2 unless they had previously studied this subject before. In Spanish 2, students get into more advanced vocabulary, learning words that go along with professions, clothing, and ordinal numbers, as well as conjugating more advanced verbs like reflexive verbs and others.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The two semester course is divided into 36 units, which are then divided into 10 lessons each. Lessons have different activities, but include things like speaking and listening activities, matching activities, reading comprehension, and writing activities. Quizzes, tests, and exams are also built in to the curriculum, although Middlebury does not keep a record of scores. Basically, my son would complete one lesson per day, four days per week, so each unit took a little over two weeks to finish. At that rate, Middlebury would probably take us just over a full school year to complete, but that’s okay, because I like to have my boys do a little work in the summer anyway.

All of the work in Middlebury is done on the computer, but I did purchase a notebook for my son to write down his new vocabulary words in. This was helpful when it was time for exams and tests. as there was a pretty impressive amount of vocabulary to learn and remember. I do wish the program had some printables for the vocabulary, because I think that would be helpful, but at the moment, they do not.

I will say that we found this to be a pretty challenging program. It is definitely aimed at the right grade levels and I think it is on par with any program you would find in a middle school (it actually reminds me of some of the advanced Spanish classes taught at the middle school I used to work in). The good thing about Middlebury is that you can go at your own pace. When I found my son struggled with a particular section and did not do well on the quiz for that section, I simply had him go back over the lesson and retake the quiz until he did better.

The course also includes cultural information about different Spanish speaking countries and their history, food, and traditions. Middlebury also offers courses in a number of other languages including Chinese, French, and German as well as courses that include support from a certified teacher. The Middle School Spanish 2 course costs $119 per semester.

To find out more about Middlebury, connect with them on social media here:
Middlebury Interactive on Twitter

Middlebury Interactive on Instagram

Middlebury Interactive on Facebook

Middlebury Interactive on Pinterest

Middlebury Interactive on Google+

To see what other crew members had to say about this program, and the other ones we go to check out from Middlebury Interactive Languages, click here:
 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 9/28/15

Did you guys manage to catch the lunar eclipse last night? We actually had a pretty good view from coastal Florida and it was cool! I am really looking forward to October, it kicks off my favorite time of year. All of the holiday festivals kick off this month, and we can look forward to parties, and chili cook-offs and all kinds of fun stuff. This is what’s for dinner at our house this week:

Monday: Citrus Steak with grilled veggies

Tuesday: Garlic Butter Salmon

Wednesday: Chicken Parm Casserole

Thursday: Calzones

Friday: Burgers and Brats on the grill

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.

TOS Review: USAopoly

 USAopoly Review My family LOVES to play board games! They are one of our favorite methods of low cost entertainment! In fact, there was one year that we packed a bunch of board games to take on vacation with us and played them every night when we went on our yearly family trip because we really didn’t have the money to do anything else! So, of course I was excited to get a chance to review two new games from USAopoly: Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone, and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game (try saying that one ten times fast! 😉 )

USAopoly ReviewWonky is designed for ages 8 and older and can be played by two or more players. A block stacking game, the object is to stack the blocks using the cards you are dealt. This makes it a little more challenging than other games because you cannot just choose any blocks you want. As the tower gets taller, it gets wobbly, and stacking the blocks definitely requires some hand-eye coordination.

Some of the cards allow you to force other players to lose a turn or add extra cards to their hands, which comes in handy since the object of the game is to be the last player without any cards without making the tower topple over! Since the blocks come in multiple sizes, and you can’t control how they are stacked, this is more difficult than you think!

We played this game on a rainy afternoon (which we’ve had a lot of lately). The directions were really easy to understand, and the game was very easy to set up. Once we got started, we had a lot of fun. In the first round, both my younger son and I soon learned that stacking all the large blocks first isn’t always the best idea. Also, it is a good idea to use strategy for how you play your cards, or you could get down to your last one, and then topple the tower and end up having to draw three more!

This game was a lot of fun, and it is easy to clean up too. It comes with a convenient bag that stores everything. Wonky costs $19.95.

 USAopoly Review Tapple was the second game we got to check out, and I think this one was my son’s favorite. It’s definitely challenging and I can see this being a fun party game for kids and adults. Aimed at ages 8 and up, it is designed for 2-8 players, but you could absolutely play in teams if you had more people. Games last about 20 minutes, so it’s quick too.

Tapple does require 2 AA batteries, which we had to “borrow” from a remote. Players choose a card from the deck and then choose one of the two categories from the card. One side of the cards has easier categories aimed at kids (think “movies” “things that are hot”) while the other side has more difficult categories aimed at older children and adults (think “landmarks”, “outer space”).

After choosing a category, the first player hits the timer, and then has 10 seconds to choose a letter from the Tapple board and name one thing that fits that category that starts with that letter. They then push that letter down and it goes out of play. After that, they push the timer again, and the next player starts. If they can name another item that fits the category that starts with a different letter, they push that letter down, hit the timer, and the game moves on to the next player. It keeps going until someone cannot name an item or the timer runs out. The player who names the most items gets to keep the card, and the person who collects three cards first, wins.

Since this game is so fast paced, it is actually really hard. We played with the “easy” cards, and let me tell you, it is difficult to come up with ice cream names in 10 seconds! However, we laughed A LOT while we were playing and had a lot of fun. Tapple also costs $19.95, and I have a feeling we are going to be playing it often!

If you and your family enjoy playing games together, I would absolutely recommend you check both of these games out. To learn more, connect with USAopoly on social media here:

USAopoly on Twitter

USAopoly on Instagram

USAopoly on Facebook

USAopoly on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of these products, click here:
 USAopoly Review

Crew Disclaimer

Citrus Steak

Sometimes I just get in the mood for a nice, juicy steak on the grill. This is a really simple, but flavorful, marinade I like to use when the mood strikes me!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. grilling steak (I used London Broil because it was on sale)
2/3 cup Orange Marmalade
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:
1. Score the steak by cutting diagonally across the surface.
2. Mix the marmalade, soy sauce, lime juice, and olive oil in a bowl.

3. Place the steak in a bag.
4. Pour the marinade in the bag and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, flipping the bag occasionally.
5. Remove the steak from the bag and discard the bag.
6. Grill the steak to desired temperature. (we like ours medium rare, so for us, that’s about 10 minutes per side over direct heat on our grill)

This is great with grilled veggies! Thanks for stopping by. If you have a favorite marinade, feel free to let me know in the comments. Check out other new recipes here:

YWAM Publishing

History is one of our favorite subjects. There is just so much to be explored! We particularly love unit-study type lessons because they allow us to go off on so many rabbit trails. My youngest boy enjoys learning about heroes from the past, so I knew this curriculum would be right up his alley. For this review, we go to check out, Daniel Boone: Frontiersman from the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing, including the book and the corresponding Unit Study Curriculum Guide.

The Heroes of History series focuses on numerous American heroes, with inspiring biographies of their lives. I chose Daniel Boone because my son is an avid outdoorsman himself who loves fishing, camping, climbing trees, and just being outside in general. I thought he would relate to Boone’s love for the outdoors and his desire to explore the wilderness.

The set comes as a book and a CD, or a download. The book is 19 chapters long, and I thought it was very well-written. My son (an 8th/9th grader) could have read it on his own, but we like to do history together, so I read it aloud to him. He found Daniel’s adventures to be very exciting. The pace of the book was very good, and the chapters were perfect for daily reading.

The disc includes some short background info on Boone (perfect for an introduction) and a detailed overview with suggestions for how to use the guides. Of course, you can create your own routine (which we did), but if you are new to unit studies, this part is very helpful for scheduling purposes. The first part of the unit study contains the bulk of the information you will use, including Key Quotes from well-known people like authors and statesmen that somehow relate to the book, chapter questions, ideas for essays, creative writing, and projects, field trip suggestions and ideas, mapping activities, cross-curricular themes to explore, and an idea for a culminating event for the unit study. The appendix lists other resources you can use with the study including internet websites. The second part of the unit study contained some printables like a Daniel Boone fact sheet and maps.

Now, one thing I love about this unit study is the plethora of information it provides, but it can seem a little overwhelming at first. Remember that you do not have to do everything. You can pick and choose which parts of the study you want to do based on the time you have available, and the age and interest of your child. For young children, you may just read the book, ask some of the questions aloud, and then do some hands-on activities. And that’s fine. Since my son was older, we were able to utilize a lot of what YWAM had to offer, but even we couldn’t do it all!

I actually started with some of the websites listed in the appendix to let my son gather some of his own information to pique his interest before we got into the book. Then as we read the chapters, we answered a lot of the questions orally, with him writing down some of the facts on his sheet as we went along. He has also been mapping some of Daniel’s journey, and since we live in Florida, he took a particular interest in that part (I never even knew Daniel Boone came to Florida!). After reading the first few chapters, I decided to assign one of the creative writing tasks, keeping a Daniel Boone journal, to my son. So now, after each chapter, he writes an entry in the journal from Boone’s point of view. I figure this will make a nice keepsake and a good way to evaluate his understanding of the book at the end.

Looking ahead, I know that when we get to the end of the book, I am going to assign a few of the essays as a sort of “test” at the end, and probably have him choose one of the projects as well, but he likes those. We will also complete the mapping activities as well. In all, this will have covered the first couple of months of history for us (doing history 3-4 days per week), and I think we are both very satisfied.

To learn more about this program, connect with YWAM Publishing on social media here:

YWAM Publishing on Facebook

YWAM Publishing on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew had to say about Heroes of History and the other programs we got to check out, click here:

YWAM Publishing Review

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday 9/21/15

Well, it has been a wet and soggy week in Florida for sure, but the sun finally came out this weekend, and my yard is thankful! We were starting to get waterlogged around here, and we even had those mushrooms growing in the yard, that you get when you start to get a fungus from things being too wet. Not to mention the flooded roads, and everything else. Hopefully we will stay dry this week. My hubby and I are actually going out with friends this Friday, so my boys will be making do-it-yourself pizzas at home that night. They always enjoy doing their own toppings and stuff, and it’s an easy way to let them feed themselves! Other than that, here’s what’s on our menu this week:

Monday: Sausage and Veggie Skillet

Tuesday: Chicken Caprese

Wednesday: Crock Pot Corn Chowder

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Dinner out/ Do-it-yourself-pizza

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.

 

TOS Review: Fascinating Education

While my boys and I enjoyed doing science together at the elementary and even middle school levels, I am finding high-school level science less enjoyable. I am more of a “unit study” type girl, and chemistry and physics in particular, were not the type of science I particularly enjoy. So, when offered the chance to review the Fascinating Physics course from Fascinating Education, I was excited. Any online course that might take some of the pressure off of me is a welcome addition to my homeschool!

The course consists of 15 lessons on topics like movement, vectors, waves, motion, and electrical currents and charges. Lessons follow the same basic pattern with each lesson starting with a video, accompanied by a script and a test. Now I should note that the physics program is not exactly creation-based. It does begin it’s introduction with the Big Bang theory. This was not a problem for us, but I wanted to mention it so my readers would be aware. The videos include graphics and narration, and many of the images are quite breathtaking. Dr. Margulies also uses a lot of graphs and other concrete organizers to explain difficult concepts, which I (and my son) found very effective.

He also weaves stories into the lessons to make complicated information more accessible. For example, in the lesson on movement, to help explain the concepts of velocity he engages the students in solving a mystery, and determining the speed of a suspect’s car. This was much more interesting to my son than a typical math calculation. Combined with the graphics in the presentation, he felt he had a pretty solid understanding of how to solve velocity problems by the end of the lesson.

Now, another thing to note is that the lessons are intended for high school students, and therefore, they are a bit long. The presentations ran around 45 minutes apiece (so far). For my son, this was a little too long to sit still, so we broke the presentations into two sessions. This really isn’t too difficult because they have a convenient menu on the side with a heading for each section of the presentation, so you can basically just make a note of where you left off (we set a timer for 20 minutes on the first day) and then just pick up from there the next day.

For students who learn better by reading, or students (or parents!) who want notes to refer back to later, there is also a complete script of the lesson with the slides included as well. I found these useful as a review. So basically, my son would spend two days (or sometimes more depending on our week) watching a presentation. Then I would ask him to recap the lesson to me orally, while I kind of looked over the script. From there, I usually had him write some kind of written summary of the lesson, before moving onto the test.

Tests consisted of a series of multiple choice questions related to the lesson. At the end of the quiz the student’s score is calculated, with a passing score considered to be 80 percent or higher. The program does not keep a running record of scores, but it is pretty easy to write them down yourself. After finishing the test, students can review their answers, and retry the test if they want. There is also a video explanation for each test question, which was particularly helpful for the computation problems.

In general, if my son performed poorly on a particular test, I would have him review it, and then take it again the next week to see if he could improve his score. At this point, we still have quite a few lessons left, as we are moving through the course at our own rate. Depending on how advanced your child is at science and/or math, you might move through at a faster pace. For us, this will probably take at least a semester, if not more, to finish.

Fascinating Education courses cost $79.00 for one year of access.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, and the other courses we got to check out from Fascinating Education, click here:
Fascinating Education Review

Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Super Teacher Worksheets

Sometimes your kids need a little extra practice on a concept, or you just want a fun activity to celebrate the seasons, or give yourself a much needed break from the regular routine. Sure, you could spend time scouring the internet for resources, but with limited time, it would be so much more convenient to have all of that stuff located in one place. So, I was happy to get a chance to review an individual membership from Super Teacher Worksheets. This website has a ton of resources available across multiple grade levels and subjects, right at your fingertips!

To start, the teacher section has a ton of useful things like printable lesson planning pages ( a huge bonus for me since I haven’t gotten a planner yet) a printable gradebook, awards, charts, calendars, and more. All you have to do is print them out, punch holes in them, and put them in a binder. Worksheets are organized by subject, and there are a plethora of math and reading worksheets in particular. You can find everything from multiple digit addition, to fractions, word problems, geometry, and algebra. For reading, there are basic reading comprehension worksheets, some fun readers theater scripts (these are great if you’re teaching multiple kids) and even worksheets and activities designed to go along with some specific chapter books.

My son enjoyed the logic activities, and I know we will probably use some of the holiday activities this year as well. I also used a lot of the grammar for extra practice (because that is one area my son definitely needs to work on) and the cursive handwriting as well. We haven’t gotten into the 50 states practice yet, but it is something I plan to look at later. They also have some cool science worksheets you could use as part of a unit study if you wanted to.

Another part of the site that I liked a lot was the worksheet generator. It allows you to input your own information to create all kinds of worksheets like word searches, fill-in-the blanks, multiple choice, matching, and even math worksheets. This is really useful for creating review and quiz activities based on the subjects you are learning in your regular studies. We have been doing a unit study on Daniel Boone in our social studies and I created some word searches and other activities using info from that study on Super Teacher Worksheets to go along with that. I think this is a very valuable tool in and of itself.

While a lot of the worksheets on the website are intended for grades K-6, some of the math is for the upper levels, and with the worksheet generator, you can easily customize this to just about any grade level. A cost for an individual membership is $19.95 per year. For me, access to Super Teacher Worksheets is a huge benefit for our homeschool.

To find out more, connect with Super Teacher Worksheets on social media here:
Super Teacher Worksheets on Facebook

Super Teacher Worksheets on Twitter

Super Teacher Worksheets on Instagram

Super Teacher Worksheets on Pinterest

To find out what other members of the crew had to say about this program, click here:
Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Crew Disclaimer

Sausage and Veggie Skillet

This quick and easy recipe works great for hectic weeknights when you have to get dinner on the table fast! And it only requires a few ingredients. My hubby and kids loved the flavor, and you could pretty much customize it with your own favorite veggies. Here is what I used.

Ingredients:

2 lbs cooked smoked sausage (I used one pound hot and spicy and one pound of mild)

1 onion

1 container cherry tomatoes

1 zucchini

1 squash

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. oregano

olive oil

Directions:
1. First, slice the sausage into pieces and set aside.
2. Next chop the onion and garlic, cut the tomatoes in half, and slice the zucchini and squash.
3. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion until it begins to soften.

4. Add the zucchini and squash and cook for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until everything is heated through.

This dish is complete so the only thing you need to do is make some potatoes, rice, or bread, and dinner is done! Thanks for stopping by. Check out more new recipes here:

Menu Plan Monday 9/14/15

Last week was pretty busy with the holiday weekend, but I am back this week and looking forward to the fall season! Football starts this month which means our Sundays are full of friends, chicken wings, and fun. And we are hoping that by the end of the month the average temperature will drop below 90 degrees!! In the meantime, here is what’s for dinner at our house this week:

Monday: Spanish Meatloaf

Tuesday: Garlic and Basil Chicken

Wednesday: Smothered Pork Chops

Thursday: Chicken Tamales

Friday: Asian Style Pork

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week!

TOS Review: Stinky Kid Math

Stinky Kid Math ReviewMath was my least favorite subject when I was in school and it is still my least favorite subject now. However, I still need to teach it to my kids. At the elementary level, that’s not too difficult. However, as they get older, explaining more advanced concepts becomes a lot more challenging. So, I was excited to get to review Stinky Kid Math, a website that offers video lessons and worksheets for upper level math classes.

Stinky Kid Math offers classes in Foundational Algebra, which covers Pre-Algebra and Algebra I, Complex Algebra, which covers Algebra I&II, and Geometry. I had my 8th/9th grade boy start with the Foundational Algebra lessons. The courses are well organized around topics, and you could easily choose to focus on specific topics if you wanted to, but we just started with the first lesson. Basically, each section has a series of videos (these can range anywhere from three to ten so far) that the child watches. The videos themselves are only a few minutes each and focus on one specific thing. For example, in the section on Algebra Properties, there was one video each for the Commutative Property, Associative Property, and Distributive Property, and they were less than three minutes each.

The instructor is very easy to follow, and uses a chalkboard with nice, bright chalk to illustrate his lesson. Each section also contains a link to a PDF file of a textbook lesson on that specific subject, so you and your child can also read the lesson and see more written examples if you wish. This is good because it accommodates different learning styles. There is also a link for printable worksheets to go along with the lessons, and the worksheets include an answer key. I found these very helpful.

Now, once we got started on Stinky Kid Math, my son was able to pretty much do it on his own. The video lessons are really, really clear, and he only occasionally needed my help figuring things out. He was even able to (finally) get distributive property! While the program is not certified as a full curriculum and is designed to serve as more of a supplement, I am currently using it as our main math until I get enough money together to purchase a curriculum for this year. Right now, I feel like it gives us plenty of math. My son completes one section a day at the moment, unless it has a lot of videos, in which case I break it up into parts.

I really like the fact that it has worksheets I can print to go along with the lessons. I feel like this allows my son to immediately practice what he just learned and allows me to see right away whether he got it or not. If I feel like he didn’t really understand something, we watch the lesson together again, and then he repeats the worksheet, or I look for another worksheet on the same topic from somewhere else.

Stinky Kid Math also offers fun math games that allow students to practice basic fundamentals like converting fractions and decimals, understanding shapes, and adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers while having fun. Access to the program costs $9.99 per month.

To learn more about Stinky Kid Math, connect with them on Social Media here:
Stinky Kid Math on Facebook

Stinky Kid Math on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought about this program, click here:
Stinky Kid Math Review

Crew Disclaimer

Smothered Pork Chops

I decided to combine several of my husband’s favorite things when I made this for dinner the other day: pork chops, onions, and bacon! The result was an easy recipe that he loved.

Ingredients:
4 boneless pork chops
6-8 slices bacon
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
1. Pour some Olive oil into a large skillet and cook the bacon until crispy. Drain and set aside.
2. Season both sides of the pork chops with the salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powders.
3. Place the pork chops in the same skillet and cook over medium-high heat for 7-10 minutes per side, until cooked through.

4. Remove the pork chops to a plate and cover with foil.
5. Reduce heat to medium, and add the onion.

6. Cook for 3-5 minutes until soft.
7. Crumble bacon and return to the pan.
8. Add the heavy cream and stir until heated through, scraping off any bits from the bottom.
9. Serve the pork chops topped with the sauce.

My hubby and kids raved about this dish, and ate every last bit of it! And of course, I think the sauce could easily be served with other meats! Thanks for stopping by, I will see you next week. Check out more new recipes here:

Spanish Meatloaf

Ah meatloaf, it’s one those meals people love to complain about. But the thing is, I love it. My Nana made an awesome meatloaf and we always had the best meatloaf sandwiches the next day.

So, in an effort to spice things up, I decided to try this version of Spanish meatloaf, especially since my family loves spicy foods.

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef (or pork)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 small bell pepper
1 small onion
2 slices Swiss cheese
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup canned corn
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Adobo seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
1. Chop the onion and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in skillet.
3. Sprinkle the onion and pepper with Adobo and cook in the skillet for 3-5 minutes or until soft, remove to a plate.

4. In a bowl, combine the meat, onions, pepper, taco seasoning, and drained corn.
5. Spread half of the meat mixture in a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

6. Place a few slices of Swiss cheese on top of the meat, then layer the rest of the meat mixture on top.

7. Pour the salsa on top of the meatloaf.

8. Bake the meatloaf at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
9. Top with the shredded cheese.

10. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the meatloaf is cooked through.

My hubby and kids loved this meatloaf. In fact, there was only one piece left over, and that was gone by the next morning! I will definitely be making more of this. Do you have a favorite meatloaf recipe? Feel free to share in the comments! Thanks for stopping by!