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:

Website: http://thetypingcoach.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetypingcoach
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thetypingcoach

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:

Website: http://www.thepencilgrip.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thepencilgrip/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thepencilgrip
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KwikStixPaint/boards/

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!

Helping Baby Chick Eleven Hatch Out From His Egg

We had ten eggs successfully hatch.  Number eleven started to hatch but he stopped making progress.  He cracked his shell and started to work his way around it but then stopped.  He stayed like this for about 2 days. 


We could hear him chirp and make microscopic movements but for some reason he wasn't going to make it out of the shell.  At about midnight last night we checked on the chicks before heading to bed.  We had read that it can be dangerous to help a chick out of their egg but we couldn't just let him stay like that because he wouldn't survive.  If he was trying to hatch then he had probably already absorbed all of the nutrients from yolk of the egg so he would starve to death soon.  So Stuart decided he had to help the chick get out of the egg.  Here's the video of his chick extrication.  It's almost 10 minutes long but even then we weren't done freeing him.


Although the chick was free from the egg, he had a layer of dried stickiness that we hadn't seen with the other chicks.  It is almost like the yoke had broken, leaked onto his head, and then dried.  It had not only glued a piece of shell to the back of his neck but it was also causing his head to stick to his body so he couldn't lift his head at all.  No wonder the poor little guy couldn't turn around in his egg to finish breaking out.  He was glued together and couldn't move.

Since this chick was in his egg longer than he should have been, he had made his first poop inside the egg.  It was green and messy but we had to get him cleaned up.  Baby chicks can't regulate their body temperature and they need to be kept warm so we couldn't just give the little guy a full soaking in a bath.  Stuart patiently worked on him with a damp Q-tip. 


Once he was cleaned up, I used a hair dryer on a low setting while Stuart cradled him in his hands. 


We were hoping to dry him off to warm him up but also to fluff up some of his feathers.  Unfortunately, his feathers seems to have to same weird coating on them and they just wouldn't fluff up even though they were dry.

So here is the little guy after working on him for over an hour.  He still had the piece of egg shell on him and his head was still stuck to him.



I love seeing Stuart's tender heart in action.  He was so sweet and gentle with this tiny little chick.  We just weren't sure what else to do to help him.


We decided to use a little olive oil on a Q-tip to try to help clean away the dried on stickiness.  After about 20 minutes, Stuart was able to get the goop cleared away enough that the chick's head was loose and he could move freely.


We took a break for a bit and gave the chick some water with a dropper.  I'm sure he was feeling 100% better than he had been but he still had that piece of egg shell glued to him.
Stuart worked on his some more with the olive oil on a Q-tip.  It was very time consuming and it was already very late at night but Stuart kept working on him.

Finally he was able to remove the egg shell from the back of the chick's neck.  We used the hair dryer a little more but there was still some dried goop on his feathers and now there was also olive oil so we couldn't get the feathers to fluff up.  That could be a problem for him keeping himself warm but it was now 2:00 in the morning and we had to get to bed.  We tucked baby chick Eleven back into the incubator to stay warm for the night.

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.


Friday, May 5, 2017

More Baby Chick Pictures (because they are just too cute!)

I started writing this post about a month ago and I just realized that it never published.  I have a few others that are started and not finished.  But for now these pictures are too cute not to share!

We are loving our baby chicks!  We had our first chick hatch on Tuesday.  We named him Nuggets.  On Wednesday morning we had two cute blonde chicks hatch.  We named them Barbeque and Rotisserie.  This is Rotisserie.


The chicks need a lot of warmth when they are first born and they seem to love being cradled in our hands.


Barbeque fell asleep in Rachel's hands.


Rachel insists that Barbeque is a female because she is just too cute to be a boy.


Nicholas is in love with Nuggets.  They are almost inseparable.


The kids tried to get their school work done but they were too distracted by the baby chicks so we gave up on it for this morning.  They will only be fluff balls for a short time so I let them just play.  The first three chicks that hatched seem to be the favorites and they all have names.


But more of them joined us at the table.  Here Rachel is trying to call a chick to come to her!


Nicholas assigned a small toy hockey helmet to be Nugget's personal transportation pod.  He puts Nuggets in this whenever he is going to shuttle him somewhere.


It is supposedly easier to identify male and female chicks if you look at their wing feathers within the first 24 hours of hatching.  We haven't quite figured it all out yet but we think Nuggets might be a female.  Nicholas hopes that it is a female because IF we keep them beyond the chick phase, we will only keep 4 and they will have to be hens.  No roosters are allowed on our size lot because the neighbors are too close.


Here is our little brood.  We are keeping them in a cardboard box with a desk lamp shining on them for heat. 


We play with them most of the day.  It is hard to get anything else done when these cuties are right there and their little chirps are just so cute!


Log Cabin Village {Fort Worth, TX}

We had a wonderful visit to Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth.  We have been here many times but the hands-on activities and great costumed presenters make it a fun place to come back to each year.


Log Cabin Village is an interactive educational experience based in the time frame of early pioneer days of about 1840 - 1890. It is comprised of authentic log cabins from the North Texas area which were moved to this property for restoration and preservation.  


Throughout the Log Cabin Village, you will find educational presentations and hands-on activities.  I love blacksmithing so we went to this presentation first. 


We watched as a steel rod would have been forged and shaped into a needed tool of the day.


The blacksmith would have made eating utensils, farming tools, horse shoes...


and cattle brands.


We visited the old smokehouse which was used to preserve meats for long periods of time before refrigerators were invented.


I always like the one room schoolhouse.  The kids played with the bell that the teacher would ring to call all of the students at the beginning of the school day.


The teacher would have a whole room full of children of every age.  The would use slate boards and horn books to practice writing.  There was a stove in the middle of the room to provide heat to the building.  There were no bathrooms so children would have to go outside in the snow or rain to go to the outhouse.


There was no running water so at the beginning of the day, boys would take the bucket down to the pump and fill it with water to be used for drinking and washing through out the school day.


We visited the woodworking shop in the Howard Cabin and learned about all of the tools he would have made.


He showed us how to use a lathe to turn wood to make things like bowls and chair legs.


We also learned about some of the simple toys that the wood worker could have made in the time before electronic games.


The kids were excited to learn how to use a drill press.


It is a manual drill and Rachel had a little bit of trouble with it but she kept trying until she got it.


And then they even got to use the wood lathe!


Rachel would love to make wooden furniture when she grows up so she just loved this whole experience!


They also learned how to use a plane to shave and smooth the wood.


We learned how laundry would have been done in the old days using a bucket and lots of scrubbing on a washboard.


This was an example of a pioneer room.  The kids were asked to find the toaster.  It doesn't look like a toaster you would have in your kitchen today.  Can you find it?  (Hint: it is near the fireplace and already has two pieces of bread in it ready to toast!)


We took a break to have a snack and drink some water.  I love these two!


Next we visited the Seela Cabin which is the best exhibit for younger kids.  There is a pretend chicken coop and Rachel loved gathering eggs from the plush chickens!  


There is also a little wheelbarrow to push around and a garden to sew and harvest from.  Rachel had fun using the pump to gather water.


And she manually ground coffee in the grinder and wheat in the mortar and pestle.  I need to put this girl to work in the kitchen at home!


Like I said, this area is intended for the younger kids and Nicholas just hung out on a bench because he was too cool for all of that.


Inside the cabin, we looked around at some of the early tools like this punched lantern.


And we played with more wooden toys.  Nicholas loved the ball and cup and kept challenging us to try to get the ball in the cup in less tries than him.


We learned about spinning wool into yarn and then how to weave it into fabric on a loom.


We learned about candle dipping and even got the chance to dip our own candles in hot wax!  Each dip gathers a little more wax on the wick and then it has to hang until it hardens.  Then it gets dipped again and the whole process continues until the candle is large enough to use.  It was a slow process.


Next we made our way to the Shaw Cabin which houses one of the last working gristmills in Texas.  As we approached, Nicholas explained to Rachel how the water wheel worked and how the gears inside the cabin turned the mill stones.


We learned about wheat and how it was ground by hand.  Then we learned about how the gristmill works and how it made life so much easier for the pioneers.


We visited the herb drying shed which the kids just loved playing in.  Silly kids!


No creature is too small to avoid Nicholas' eye.  He found and played with this cute little guy for a while as we walked around the herb garden.


He recognized Lamb's Ear in the garden.  He loves how silky soft the leaves are.  You just have to touch them!


We saw The Three Sisters growing in the garden as well.  Native American Indians taught the early settlers to plant using The Three Sisters system whereby three plants, corn, beans, and squash, are planted together as companions.  The corn provides a stalk for the bean vines to climb on while the big prickly squash leaves shade the soil and other plants, keeping them from drying out and shielding them from some animals that may want to eat them.


Log Cabin Village is a fun excursion for all ages.  It is located at 2100 Log Cabin Village Lane in Fort Worth.  Admission is free for ages 3 and under, $5.00 for ages 4-17 and $5.50 for ages 18 and up.  For more information, please visit the Log Cabin Village website.