Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course Review

Nicholas hates to write.  I don't mean writing as in composition for creative writing or writing poetry .  I mean that he hates the actual physical act of writing. It's like his pencil was coated in acid and he might die if he has to write one entire paragraph.  

I have often thought that maybe he could learn how to type to take some of the stress out of his composition assignments and research papers. I remember taking a typing course in high school and it made life a little easier for me.  Plus it was just such a great skill to have mastered. So to say that I was more than happy to let him take The Typing Coach Online Typing Course when the Homeschool Review Crew offered it to me would be an understatement.  The Typing Coach is an experienced typing instructor who has created this course to help students and adults learn to type efficiently without looking at the keys or the monitor.  and to reach 10+ words per minute by the end of the class.  Additional practice will increase that speed over time.

The Typing Coach

The course begins with some basic instructions about proper posture and hand placement.  Some lessons have a video component but most of the lessons involve audio teaching with Nicholas typing letters and numbers as the instructor tells him to.  There is also practice time using printed materials and your word processing program.  Finally there is an online testing component that times and scores errors so Nicholas can see his progress.  When he has completed a test, Nicholas can enter my email address and the course will send me an email with his test results so I can easily track how well he is doing.

Nicholas has completed one lesson a week for ten weeks with some practice days in between.  The lessons are self-paced so he could move through them more quickly or slowly depending on his needs.  He has moved through the course at a steady pace and he has enjoyed completing them each week.  He is excited to be able to say, "I can type without looking at the keys!". 

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course was easy for my 13 year old son to use but this course isn't just geared towards kids.  Adults will enjoy it too.  Some online typing courses teach by having the students go through silly games.  But The Typing Coach provides professional lessons that teach typing in an easy and efficient way.  

There are a few lessons on The Typing Coach website that you can try for free if you'd like to "try it before you buy it". The course costs only $17 for access for one person for an entire year.  What a great deal for a course that will provide a lifelong skill for students and adults!
The Typing Coach

If you would like to learn more about The Typing Coach Online Typing Course, please check out the following links:


If you would like to read some additional reviews for The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from other members of the Homeschool Review Crew, simply click on the graphic below:

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thin Stix Mess Free Non-Toxic Termpera Paint {Review}

Rachel loves arts and crafts.  She is always making pictures and various creations in her free time.  She particularly loves painting but do you know how messy paint can be?  The paint covered brushes always seem to end up rolling around on the table leaving trails of color in their wake.  The cup of water intended to clean the brushes when you want to change colors of paint gets spilled or at least ends up splashing paint colored water everywhere.  And then once the art work is complete, you have to be sure no one touches the final masterpiece until all of the paint has dried.I love to encourage art for my kids but I usually dread getting out paint for them to use.

So I was intrigued when the Homeschool Review Crew offered me the chance to review the Thin Stix 6 pk of Classic Colors which are just one of the cool choices in the Kwik Stix product line by The Pencil Grip, Inc.  The packaging states that it is non-toxic, no water is needed, and it dries in 90 seconds.  Hallelujah! 
Thin Stix by KwikStix
Moms, this product is cool!  Kwik Stix is a solid tempera paint in a stick form.  The paint sticks twist up in the tube like a glue stick.  There is no need for messy paint and brushes and cups of water to rinse the brushes between colors.  Just pop the top off, glide the paint on the paper and then snap the top back on.  There original version of Kwik Stix is shorter and wider and might be better for smaller hands.  These Thin Stix are longer and more narrow which allows for finer detail in art projects.  

Rachel couldn't wait to open up the package and start painting.

The Thin Stix are easy to use and the paint goes on easily.  It sort of feels like you are using a soft crayon but the colors are thick and vibrant.  Rachel did notice that she wasn't able to blend the paint colors quite like she can with regular paint.  You will notice that the red and blue in the rainbow do not really make purple.  I imagine part of the issue here is that this amazing paint dries in 90 seconds so, as wonderful as that is, it doesn't really allow much time for blending colors.  The Thin Stix 6 pk. of Classic Colors comes with yellow, red, green, blue, brown, and black.  This pack is available on Amazon.
Thin Stix by KwikStix

However, as I look at Amazon, there are lots of other choices in colors for Thin Stix.  They have a pack of 12 Classic Colors (which includes purple) but they also offer 6 neon colors and 6 metallic colors.  Or you can just get all of the colors in their 24 count pack.  That's the one Rachel has on her wish list!

The packaging states that it works on paper, posters, and more.  Rachel had a cardboard cross that she wanted to decorate with the Thin Stix.  I wasn't sure if the paint might absorb too much into the cardboard of if the brownish-gray color might show through the paint colors.  Here is a video we made of her painting her cross project.  I love how she adds her commentary for review purposes....

Rachel has really enjoyed using the Kwik Stix Thin Stix 6 pk. of Classic Colors and I'm sure we will be adding more colors soon.  Just so you know, they also have their original paint sticks that were out before the Thin Stix.  The original ones are shorter but wider.  We are going to stick with the Thin Stix though for our future projects. 

Thin Stix by KwikStix
Rachel wanted me to show one more project that she made with her Thin Stix.  She really loves them!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Kwik Stix Thin Stix 6 pk of Classic Colors or any of their other paint stick products, you can find them online at:


You can also read more reviews from other members of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the graphic below.  Some reviewers are even offering a giveaway!

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 THSC Convention in Arlington - Day 1 Highlights

Today was the first day of the Texas Home School Coalition convention in Arlington, Texas.  

There was a leader conference earlier in the day as well as some workshops talking specifically to new homeschoolers plus the vendor exhibit area was open for shopping.  General admissions is free on Thursday night for shopping and general workshops so it is a great time to check it out.  

I only attended the two evening workshops.  First, I heard Kathy Koch talk about "Cultivating a Christian 'Willing Good Behavior' ".

Here are some highlights from Dr. Kathy's presentation:

We have to teach and disciple our children in what it means to have character, not just tell them what to do.

Good character means
1. They know what to do
2. They want to do it
3. They are willing to do it
4. …even when the burden is heavy and no one is looking

If they are obedient just to win a prize or avoid punishment then they will only be obedient when  you are present.

In order to raise children with good character, the home should have

1. God-centeredness, not just God-knowledge - The Bible is our life letter, our love letter – not just another homeschool textbook.
2. Consistent JoyConsistent joy is based on ones character, heart, and beliefs, not circumstances.  Relies on a personal relationship with Christ for if you don’t have the One in your heart who gives joy then you can’t wake up each day feeling joy.  We need to trust in God.  We need to believe that His best really is the best for us.  God is the author of my life and I will trust him amidst any circumstance.
3. Consistent Gratitude - Based on personal relationship with Jesus Christ – grateful for His sacrifice.  Grateful that God made you in His likeness.  The word thankfulness comes from an old Saxon word which means thinkfulness.  Thankfulness should be stimulated by the things we are thinking about.  God is enough.  We have to discern between wants and needs.
4. Self-Efficacy - Children have to believe they can make a difference.  Our children need to know that who they are is who they are supposed to be for the glory of God.  They need to know that they are change agents.  

Next, I attended Todd Wilson's workshop "This We Believe".  Todd is a homeschool dad to 8 children.  He is a great speaker and a funny guy.  His talk gave me goosebumps one time and tears another, with a lot of laughter in between.

Here are a few highlights from his workshop:

When we think about homeschooling, it is not just the “how to” but the “why to”.  We need to remember the reason we do this and the joy in the journey.

1. Home is the best place for my kids.  Learning takes place 365 days a year.  It's more than just 180 days of "school work".  Those are not the important things.  You won’t see an adult in tears because that they don’t know the Pythagorean Theorem.  It just doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things.

2. Parents are the best teachers of their children.  You may not be the smartest but YOU are the best teacher for YOUR children.  God gave your children exactly the mother they need.  Most moms don’t believe this.  They don’t feel adequate.  They worry about skipping days and not getting as much done or doing too much and taking the fun out of learning.  Even those qualities are perfect for your child.  You are exactly the kind of mother God thinks they need.  You know what’s best for them.  You lie away at night thinking of your child.  There is no better educator for your child.  

3. Every child is a masterpiece – "Experts" disagree.  They say there needs to be standards then we’ll measure everyone against those standards and give them a letter grade of A,B,C,D, or F.  Those are powerful letters but they really don’t mean anything.  They aren’t an accurate measure of anything.  Don’t keep grades. If you have to, at least don’t show them to your children.  Grades aren’t really about the kid but a measure of how well the teacher did.  You should feel good no matter how they did.  Each child is a masterpiece – a piece made by the Master.

Todd's book – Lies Homeschool Moms Believe (I need to buy this!)

Children will become exactly what God created them to be regardless of what you do (and in spite of you).  It isn’t because you are a great teacher or use an awesome curriculum.

4. Relationship first.  We let homeschooling get in the way of relationships.  We plow through the day with kids crying and carnage everywhere but we got that school work done!  We’ve been hijacked and told that what matters is the subject but what really matters is the child who happens to be doing the subject.

Mary and Martha – Jesus said what Mary has chosen to do will not be taken away from her.  Mary chose relationship, to be still and listen.  What does your homeschool day look like?  Maybe we need more time sitting and listening to our children and less time accomplishing.

I can't wait for more great speakers tomorrow and especially the mom's night event, Encouragement by Chocolate hosted by the Trim Healthy Mama team of Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett!

About the THSC Convention:  The convention takes place at the Arlington Convention Center, from Thursday, May 11 - Saturday, May 13.  If you did not pre-register with an early bird discount, general admission is $50 and that gets you and a spouse (or grandparent) into everything for all three days - vendor shopping AND the workshops.  If you want to come just to shop then you can get a Shopping Only pass for $15.  Of course, admission is free for THSC primary member adults.  For more information about the convention, please check out the website.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Getting Ready for her Dance Recital

Rachel has loved taking a jazz class at Footlights this year.   She took ballet and tap lessons a couple of years ago at a different dance studio but she didn't seem to really get into it.  This is her first year at Footlights and she loves it.  Her teacher is amazing and fun.

They are gearing up for their big end of the year recital and I caught some videos of them practicing in class.  I can't wait for the actual performance! She's pretty excited too because she loves their pink costume!

Here is a quick video of a dance leap she did.  She loves doing those!

The girls were able to get professional pictures taken in their costumes.  I snapped this cute picture of her while she was waiting for her turn.

I took a few pictures while Rachel was posing for the photographer.  She loved feeling like a model!

Way to go, Rachel!  I can't wait to see it all come together at the recital!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Kid Fish

Our town hosts an annual event called KidFish to encourage parents to take their kids fishing.  The town stocked the pond with 500 pounds of catfish!  They provide rods, reels, and bait if kids don't have them and all kids ages 16 and under and encouraged to come out and fish for free.  There are even prizes for the longest fish in different categories.  Our family loves fishing and we all have our own gear so we were happy to participate in the event.

Rachel even has her own pink and purple tackle box which Stuart helped her stock with all the supplies she might need.
The kids were excited to watch this mama duck and her little babies swim right in front of them.

Nicholas caught a fish rather quickly.

I think it is called a Green Sunfish.

Nicholas found a spot with some nice cover.

He changed bait but didn't catch anything but some weeds.

Rachel wasn't too concerned with catching anything.  She just kicked off her shoes and relaxed.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Learning All About Chickens

Since we have a rare opportunity to watch baby chicks hatch from eggs, I couldn't let the chance go by and not teach a mini-lesson on chickens!

We created a presentation board with all of the information that we learned.  I found a free Egg Hatching and Chick Observation record online and we used a lot of pieces from there to make the board.  We learned some basic Chicken Vocabulary.

We saw a graphic of what the baby chick looks like inside the egg.

We learned about the life cycle of chickens.

I found a great informational blog post at Fluffy Bottoms Farm about hatching chickens and used this graphic for Chick Embryo Development.

I love the hypothesis and observation cards.  The kids each made their predictions about how many chicks would hatch and how many boys vs. girls we would have.  This is going to be fun!

I also found these great Chicken Nomenclature cards at the Montessori Print Shop.  I downloaded them, printed and laminated them, and put them on a ring.

The cards highlight the body part they are learning.  

This is all that we have done so far but there are a lot of other great resources online for learning about chickens.  Here are just a few:

Chicken Life Cycle Posters
Chicken Life Cycle Flip Book
Day to Day Chicken Egg Development
Chicken Lap Book

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nuggets - Our First Baby Chick

We buy fresh eggs every week from one of Stuart's co-workers who has backyard chickens.  Her husband homeschools their children so they appreciate hands-on learning opportunities and she also knows we have been at least a little interested in having our own backyard chickens.  So now that she is ready to get a few more chickens, she asked us if we would like to watch them hatch.  She said we can give them back or even keep them if we decide we want to.

She gave us 32 eggs and let us borrow her incubator and rocker.  The incubator keeps the eggs at 99.5 degrees.   The trays in the bottom hold water to keep humidity in the air. The rocker very gently rocks the eggs and slowly turns them.  The eggs stay in the rocker for 18 days then we will remove it and allow the chicks to position themselves property for hatching. 

The eggs started hatching on the morning of day 21, just as expected.  We woke up to this fun sight!!

A little while later, the chick had completed hatched out of his egg but he didn't look much like a chick.  He was very wet and very small.  He was also very chirpy!

We left him in the incubator until he dried out and his feathers fluffed up.  By the end of the day we were able to take him out and hold him for a little while.  He still needed to be kept warm so we only took him out for a little while at a time then we put him back in the incubator for a while. 

Nicholas made a play area for him in a cardboard box!

Here's a video of him checking out his home.  Listen to the cute chirps!

Newly hatched chicks don't need food right away because they fill their bellies with their egg's yolk right before they hatch. They can go a day or two before they need food. Stuart was able to bring home some baby chick medicated food crumbles so we were able to get some food to him by the end of the day. Here's a video of him trying out his crumbles...and then walking through it.

The kids just love holding and talking to our baby chick.

I finally had a chance to hold this little fluff ball myself.  He is so little and cute!

I can't believe this is the same chick that came out of his egg earlier today looking so wet and scrawny!

Stuart decided that this baby chick would be named Nuggets.  When the next chicks are born they will be named Rotisserie and BBQ.  Ha ha!

Stuart is so gentle with little Nuggets. I think he likes him :)

I think Nuggets likes him too because he fell asleep in his warm hands.  Or perhaps he was just worn out from all the attention he got today!