Monday, January 24, 2011

Product Review: Sumoku math game

It's very easy to get stuck in a rut when homeschooling. Workbooks, worksheets, texts, while helpful, can be boring over time (even for me - the teacher). So, it's nice to throw in an educational game or hands-on activity to change it up a bit!

Enter Sumoku (pronounced Sum-o-ku), made by the Blue-Orange company! This fun math game challenges you and your kiddos to speedy addition in a Scrabble-like style!

Within this small package, 96 number tiles and instructions for 5 different games reside! We played the Speed Sumoku today. Each player draws 10 tiles from the pile in the middle.

Roll the die to determine the "key number". This key number is what you use to build your sums (or the multiples of that number) in a crossword style puzzle.

This game really helps the kids learn their addition facts (and even multiplication) in a fun way!

This game isn't just for homeschoolers either! What a great family-building activity for any family with grade school kids!

This fun game can be found at

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How do you define success?

I suppose I don't hold to the traditional definitions of success. I don't define my life by what I do for a living (or what Chris does). Or my clothing size. Or by my accolades. I don't define what I own as success either. After all, they are just things that come and go and, quite frankly, trends are stupid. Trends bug me. They are just other people telling you how to think and behave (uh.. hand over brain ___here___). No, I like to think for myself, thank you very much. Don't get me wrong, it's fun to buy a new sweater or a piece of new furniture but they don't define me or my success.

No, I have a much more simpler way of measuring whether I'm successful or not. For starters, and this is probably the biggest difference in the world's definition, is I don't measure my success by other people's or society's definitions. I don't want to be a prisoner to a definition that others tell me I have to meet. You know, the drill... you *HAVE* to own the latest and greatest (insert item __here__) or your home, your life, your relationships, your educational background *MUST* look like everyone else or your not successful. Simply put, I don't define success by what others say is successful. Life's too short to let another live YOURS for you!

I *DO* define success in the ways that matters most to ME. Have I loved - really shown love - to my children today? Have I lived with a grateful heart today? Did I treat my husband with respect when I could have coped an attitude instead? Does he feel the amount of love that I have for him? Have I had a successful relationship with my husband? With each of my children? Have I taught my boys something that brings them closer to God today? Are my kids displaying grateful hearts? Have I laughed today? Have I been a good example in attitude and behavior for my boys? Have I been a friend that uplifts and encourages today? Have I helped someone that needs it? Have I extended grace that I might otherwise deem undeserving? Have I lived out God's words today, to the best of my ability? Have I been a "good and faithful" servant?
These are some of the many measurements of success in my book. How well I accomplish these (and a few other) definitions is what matters to me. It's liberating to take the focus off of what others say is success and listen to God's definition and make it my own. How well have I loved? How well have I given selflessly? How well have I taken care of my family?

I don't define success by what others think nor do I ever want to. I don't want to chase after material things that rot away or acquire something just to impress someone else. That's no success at all. That's slavery. That's not what I was called to do here with my time on earth. I want to keep at the forefront the successes that matter most.

Full speed ahead...

Full blown school starts around these parts tomorrow. I've readied the room, prepared my lesson plans, put a couple of orders for new supplies in and the kids are brimming with excitement and eagerly awaiting the moment when I wake them up at 7a.m. tomorrow to start breakfast and devotions before getting into school topics at 8:30. (ok, so the last one.. not so much. I can dream, though, right?!?).

I began the school year with one plan and that plan, is still, relatively intact. I've made some tweaks and adjustments and full on abandoned other things altogether.

Here's what's working so far...

*Spelling Power. This program is wonderful, quick and easy to use. It contains the 5,000 most commonly used words in the English language that the kids work through, semi-independently. I say "semi" because I read off the words to them in our daily 5 minute test. I also check for mastery and retention in different phases each day. I opted not to purchase the activity cards in the beginning but have since re-thought that and have made that purchase. We will be implementing that component this week!

*Teaching Textbooks. I REALLY love this math curriculum!! I'm so glad someone recommended it to me last year!! While it doesn't have as much review/repetition as I'd like, that's easily remedied with supplemental worksheets/workbooks.

*Apologia Science - YES! LOVE this curriculum too! I can't wait to do Botany and Anatomy with the boys (they aren't as thrilled about Anatomy as I am. They're a bit squeamish). I highly recommend this curriculum, especially if you're teaching multiple ages in this subject. Great stuff!

*God's Great Covenant, OT - This is an excellent curriculum to provide a foundation for biblical knowledge. Put out by Classical Academic Press, it is very well organized and structured for optimum retention of the facts. This gets a high recommendation from us!

*Charlotte Mason/Unit study approach to History - having attended the unit study workshop in the summer really improved how we approach history (and even science) now. LOVE this structure for this topic! Another high recommend!

What's in the works...

*Mapping the World by Heart - I purchased this curriculum in the summer with the hopes of beginning it in the first semester. Clearly, that didn't happen. This is an intriguing curriculum that I'm excited to incorporate THIS semester. It looks fun, has a hands-on creative approach and seems manageable to incorporate into our school day.

*Spanish for Children - another Classical Academic Press product! I can't wait to get my hands on this!! It comes highly recommended by my mother in law, who checked it out and is fluent in Spanish.

*Shurley English - grammar that's fun?!? As one who holds a degree in English, *I* can't even claim that to be true YET a very good friend has highly recommended it after using it this first semester with her own kids.

I'll keep you posted on how these curriculum choices panned out in our homeschool!

So, here's to a new year and a new semester of school!! Yippee!