Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Language Lessons: Free for Kindle This Week!

language therapy at home

My book, Language Lessons: From Listening Skills to Conversation is free for Kindle this week (Tuesday through Saturday.)  If you’d like to work on listening skills, memory, vocabulary, etc. with your child, please download a copy! (It can even be read on the computer through “Kindle for PC.”

Here’s the book description from Super Star Speech:

Language Lessons will not enable you to do actual "language therapy" with your child, as that is something that only a qualified speech language pathologist can provide. However, it includes over 140 pages of ideas and activities to use with your child that will help to improve his or her listening skills, memory, vocabulary, grammatical skills, and conversation.
Language Lessons includes:
·Exercises and activities to stimulate and improve language skills in children with normal or delayed language abilities.
·Additional practice exercises for children who are already in language therapy.
·Activities that are categorized by type, making them easy to use with children who have diagnosed or suspected delays in specific areas, such as auditory memory or vocabulary.
·Fun activities to do with your child. These shouldn't be considered "work," but will hopefully provide enjoyable, yet useful, activities for parents and children to do together.

Cranberry Chocolate Oat Bars

I made this recipe for the first time to take to our church women’s retreat and it was a big success. I think it will be one of our new favorites. I would describe it as a cross between an oatmeal cookie and granola bar. We thought that the cranberries and chocolate were a great combination!
Cranberry Chocolate Oat Bars
Makes 22 bars
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter or margerine
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks, divided
2/3 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries, divided
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 13x9” pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat margarine and sugar until creamy in large bowl.
Add eggs, flour mixture, 1/2 cup chocolate chunks, and 1/3 cup cranberries; stir until well blended.
4. Spread dough into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining chocolate chunks, cranberries, and nuts.
Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Monday, February 25, 2013

College Common Sense (Schoolhouse Review)

College Common Sense
“Going to College and Paying For It” online video and pdf workbook
Ages: elementary through high school
Cost: DVD/print workbook $50,  12 month online video access and PDF workbook $25

From having already sent three children to college, I’ve discovered that navigating the maze of admissions, financial aid, and scholarship applications can be daunting. Typically, students and their parents begin to seriously start the process around the 11th grade.
College Common Sense, however, encourages families to begin the process much earlier, even as early as elementary school! The College Common Sense website provides a variety of resources to help in this journey, pointing out that some scholarships are available for 12 year olds!
Several resources are absolutely free:
  1. Monthly newsletter
  2. Weekly lesson plans
  3. Online information (campus visit checklist, help in choosing a college, student loan information, making a scholarship binder, scholarship search help)
The “heart” of the College Common Sense program is the “Going to College and Paying For It” video and workbook.  Each of the 6 20-30 minute videos and accompanying pdf pages covers a different topic, such as assessing the actual cost of attending college and choosing a college, learning how financial aid works, finding “free” money, and assembling a notebook system to organize the process of applying for scholarships.
For someone new to the college application process, I think this would be a good way to quickly learn about the sometimes tricky topic of financial aid. I thought the notebook system seemed to be a good way to simplify the process of looking for and applying for scholarships without overwhelming the student. (Basically, it has the student “working” one scholarship a month throughout the year.) We even set up a notebook to get started, although I don’t expect to use it much just yet, since Emily is only 12.
The PDF’s included the basic information (and a few forms and worksheets) and the videos were just a slight expansion of that information. Personally, I would find it simpler to just have everything in the workbook or PDF and to skip the videos. For me, they didn’t add a lot. It might be that some people might prefer to see and hear someone explain the process, instead of just reading about it, though.
Emily and I watched the videos together and she did seem to find them interesting, even though she’s a few years away from being able to use much of it—maybe because she’s seen her siblings go through the college search process.
The  free weekly lesson plans are also helpful. Each weekly lesson plan has separate activities for:
  • Parents/teachers
  • Seniors (students going to college in 2013-2014)
  • High school students or freshmen - juniors ( age 14-17)
  • Middle school students (age 11 - 13)
  • Elementary school students (age 6 - 10).
The assignments given are fairly easy to accomplish and include not only tasks related to learning about and finding financial aid, but activities designed to help students of all ages think about their interests and goals as they may relate to future career paths and to prepare for standardized testing. They sometimes include links to short videos.
In summary:  Since I’ve been through the process before and have children who have received grants and scholarships, I didn’t find a lot of new information. The program could be helpful and could be a time saver for someone who was new to the process, though. I think it could also be helpful in locating private (not from the specific college) scholarships—something that my other children didn’t pursue very much. Although the weekly lesson plans have some helpful activities for elementary and middle school ages, I think the video program itself is best suited for those of high school age, who are seriously beginning the college search process.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Teaching Listening Skills to Your Preschooler

Listening skills, including auditory discrimination and the ability to focus, are important prerequisites for language comprehension and production. Here are some fun activities to practice with your child:

· Play this "listening game." Ask your child to clap whenever he hears a specific sound, such as /m/. Then make sounds and see if he can differentiate them. ( /m/ /k/ /m/ /m/ /p/ /t/ /m/ /s/ /m/ /w/ /t/ /m/)

· Try the same activity with words that begin with a specific sound. Here is a possible list for /s/. some, same, ball, cat, sky, sing, ditch, sorry, pat, sat, soon, pick, tall, sun

· Say a word. Ask the child to name another word that begins with the same sound.

· Collect objects that make a sound (bell, crumpling paper, spoon, a can holding dry rice or beans, keys, or coins) and lay them on a table. Let your child look at them, then close his eyes. Use one of the objects to make a sound and have him try to guess the correct object.

· Teach your child to tap the syllables of words or phrases with a stick.

· Tap a rhythm with a stick or spoon and ask your child to imitate the rhythm.

· Blindfold your child. Move to a different place in the room and hum or make another sound. Have him point to where the sound is coming from.

· Call your child's attention to sounds outside, such as birds, cars, or honking horns.

· Play or hum 2 musical notes. Ask your child to identify which note is high or which note is low. Sing or play songs and have your child identify them as "fast" or "slow."

· Ask your child to repeat simple sentences. Start with very short ones and progress to longer sentences as your child is able.

· Recite a nursery rhyme to your child several times. Then leave off the last word in each phrase and have your child fill in the missing word. (memory and rhyming skills)

· See if your child can complete each phrase with a rhyming word:

  • See the bug --hide in a ________.
  • Sam, Sam, --do you like ________?
  • The little boy --wants a ________.
  • See the frog --up on the ________.
  • Look at Stan --driving his ________.
  • I saw a bee-- drinking some ________.
  • My brother, Jim --went for a ________.
  • My Uncle Bob --eats corn on a ________.
  • Playing in the sun-- is lots of ________.
  • Be careful! That pot --is very________.
  • Billy sat --on his ________.

This post is an excerpt from my book, Language Lessons: From Listening Skills to Comprehension.

language therapy at home

Friday, February 15, 2013

Though Mountains Fall (Review)

Though Mountains Fall, Daughters of Caleb Bender Series #3   -     
        By: Dale Cramer

Though Mountains Fall, by Dale Cramer, is the third book in his “The Daughters of Caleb Bender” series.  This series follows the story of a group of Amish families who, in search of freedom from government control, begin a new community in Paradise Valley, Mexico. The books follow their struggles as they try to forge a new life while dealing with bandits, government corruption, violence, and isolation from their former church. One of the daughters falls in love with a Mexican man and is banned from the Amish church, while her family struggles between acting in love versus following the church’s rules.

Having read the first two books in the series, I was anxious to read this volume as well, in order to continue the story. I enjoy other Amish fiction, but this series is a bit different. There is quite a bit of page-turning suspense interspersed with the struggles with  relationships and faith that one might expect in this genre. I thought it was a good mix. It was interesting to see how some of the characters came to question some of their long-held beliefs and to deepen their understanding of God as they were forced to intermingle with “outsiders.”

My only concern with the book is one that I commonly have with books in a series—I think that someone picking this book up  first, instead of reading the books in order, might have trouble getting into the storyline.

This inspiration for this series came from an actual Amish community that settled in Mexico in the 1920’s.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

V is for Violin

My daughter, Katie, has played the violin since she was 9. (She’s now quite an accomplished violinist, and a music composition major in college.)


When Emily was little, she loved to use a ruler and a toy ukulele to “play the violin” just like her big sister. Whenever Katie practiced, Emily would run to get her own “violin,” too!


I’m “blogging through the alphabet” with Marcy at “Ben and Me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Having Fun With History

Growing up, I suppose I enjoyed studying history in school. I’ve always found it interesting. But when I think about what I really remember as a child, I think of doing (a few) hands-on projects at school and taking field trips to missions (when we lived in California).  In the 11th grade, I had a wonderful American history teacher who made everything into a story, bringing the dry facts to life. Other than those few instances, however, what I remember of public school history is reading a dry textbook and answering the questions at the end of the chapter.  But I did love biographies, especially the Childhood of Famous Americans series, and checked them out from the library by the armful.
As a homeschooling mom, I’ve approached history in a different way from how I was taught in public school. I love to read and have wanted my children to also develop a love of reading and learning, so instead of learning primarily from textbooks, we use a variety of resources. We start with a core text—not a public school text, but something more compelling. For World History, we are currently reading through the Young People’s Story of our Heritage series. This series, published in the 1960’s by V.M. Hillyer and E.G. Huey, is an expansion of Hillyer’s  A Child’s History of the World. We also use several Usborne books about various time periods. We read our core texts aloud.
Then, to supplement our core text, I add in historical fiction, biographies, etc. as independent reading. We also do some hands-on projects, internet research, report-writing, and map-drawing. I get many of our extra projects and activities from Diana Waring’s history series. This method of studying history enables us to incorporate other subjects, such as art and composition—reports, essays, and creative writing.
As we “travel through time,” Emily is keeping her reports, maps, and projects in a 3-ring binder, so that she’ll have a record of her studies and something tangible to look back through for review.
This is the third time (at least) I’ve taught World History to my children and I’m finding it more interesting all the time! I really hope that Emily will learn to learn to love history as I do and will retain more than I did from my education!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

U is for Ugly

I sent Emily outside with a camera on a mission to find “ugly things.”  This is what she found!

a mushroom




old cars


wild onion


dog poop




black sky (I think it’s kind of pretty, but it does look ominous!)


I’m blogging through the alphabet with Ben and Me.

100 Bible Verses Week 6


I have now memorized 10  of the 100 verses from Robert Morgan’s book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart. The Facebook group for this quest now includes over 400 members!

I’m trying to find different ways to practice the verses each week. Last week, I was introduced to Scripture Typer—a site that allows you to enter verses or choose them from the verse library. You type the verse out (copying it) to gauge your typing speed, then work on the “memory” level, where every other word is given, then type the verse completely from memory at the mastery level. I’m finding it a fun way to practice!

This week, I had Emily write out the verses. Then I cut apart the words and phrases and had her practice reassembling them to help her memorize.



The verses for week 6 are:

Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night so that you will be careful to do everything written in it.        Joshua 1:8 

I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.                       Psalm 119:11

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Kitchen Blackboard Project

Years ago, one of the glass panels on my kitchen hutch was broken. (The incident involved my son and a broom, but that’s another story!) I kept meaning to have another piece of glass cut to fit, which shouldn’t have been hard, but it was just one of those things I never got around to. P1010968

Recently, it occurred to me that an easy (and useful) way to repair the hutch would to be to cut a piece of thin plywood to fit and paint it with blackboard paint. I had the plywood; I had the paint; no excuses!

Now, not only does it look nicer now, hiding some of the clutter of school supplies kept inside, but I have a handy memo board. We’ve used it for chore lists, school schedules, and just doodling. Right now, I’m writing our memory verses for the week on it.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Homeschool Giveaways

Looking for family-friendly and homeschool related giveaways? The Homeschool Giveaway Share facebook page is a great place to find blogs that are doing giveaways. Just “like” the page and they posts will appear in your facebook feed.

Photo: Click on the form link below if you would like your giveaway added to our page.