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Nancy Larson Homeschool Science Review

Nancy Larson Homeschool Science

Until this year, science was one of my LEAST favorite areas to teach the kids. It was the one thing that I went to our homeschool convention hoping to find. When I passed the booth for Nancy Larson Homeschool Science, I was intrigued. After stopping by, I ended up spending {literally} hours talking with the ladies there. It was the BEST stop of my convention trip.

We received this product at no cost in exchange for our honest opinion. All thoughts expressed are solely mine.

We’ve been using Nancy Larson Homeschool Science 1 for the last 6 weeks and science time has become one of the most enjoyable and fun subjects we work on together as a family. The kids don’t want to stop and because of how the lessons are put together, neither do I!

A Complete Homeschool Science Curriculum

Nancy Larson Homeschool Science is a complete homeschool science program that currently has three levels available with an emphasis on Life Science for Science 1, Physical Science in Science 2, and Earth and Space in Science 3. We are using Science 1 with our oldest three children, and it focuses on the following areas:

  • Developmental Biology: life stages of human beings
  • Botany: observing trees
  • Earth and Space: exploring sunlight, water and soil
  • Zoology: investigating animals and their habitats
  • Anatomy: discovering what is inside our bodies
  • Entomology: examining the characteristics and life cycle of insects

Nancy Larson Science 1

 

The Science 1 complete program includes a Teacher’s Manual, Student Materials, Resource Materials, and a Tool Kit ~ almost everything that you need to begin using it immediately {minus the pens, pencils and some basic household items} with one child. Additional student units can be ordered if you want to use the same level with more than one child.

Nancy Larson teacher's manualThe Teacher’s Manual is AMAZING!! The lesson plans are scripted, giving examples of what the teacher and student dialogue should be and lessons are completely laid out for the teacher. Supply lists are included at the start of each lesson, so you can quickly grab what you need and have it ready for the lesson {a big help!}. You can view a sample of a lesson here.

Each level of the Nancy Larson Science program includes the following learning tools in the Student Material packet:

Nancy Larson Studen Materials

  • Student Booklets ~ help children highlight important information from the lessons, draw pictures that correspond to the lessons, and record information that they are learning during their lessons
  • Lesson Reviews ~ questions to help the children review information from the current and prior lessons
  • Study Guides ~ a review of the information in the student booklets
  • Assessments ~ a little something to help you assess what your child is learning from the lessons.

Laurianna science

Laurianna illustrating a lesson in her Student Booklet

Each Science Level also includes a Teacher Resource CD that provides extra information relevant to that level: complete supply lists, photographs to go along with lessons, word lists, and more.

The Tool Kit for the Science 1 program includes all of the hand-on manipulatives and books that you will use throughout the year: pine cones, tree cookie, hand lens, x-ray set, Live Butterfly Garden®, Butterfly Larvae Coupon, Ladybug Land™, Ladybug Larvae Coupon, insect learning cards, plastic insects and spiders set, and the following books: What Do Scientists Do?, Peterson First Guide to Trees, Trees to Paper, Familiar Insects and Spiders, Your Insides, and The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree.

You can view more information on any of the homeschool science programs on Nancy Larson’s website.

My Thoughts

I don’t know that I can say that I have one favorite thing about the program, because it all fits together as a wonderful program. Having everything I could possibly need included in the Complete Program is definitely wonderful. I didn’t have to run around town to find random items or hunt down random books to use with the program. I also love that I don’t need to plan any lessons because it is all done for me!

I mentioned that we’ve been using it with our three oldest children {ages 5, 7, and 9}. Nancy Larson Homeschool Science has literally turned our science learning time around. We have our science time twice a week and when we have finished one lesson, the kids all beg me to keep going. This is a huge difference from year’s prior when the kids did not want to work on what we were supposed to…and neither did I. We all look forward to science time now and I look forward to using future levels of Nancy Larson Homeschool Science.

While talking to the ladies from Nancy Larson science at the homeschool convention, I was amazed to hear that seven years of research, planning, and development go into EACH level of the curriculum. It is field tested for several years of that time, so that when it arrives on your doorstep you are ready to go. I can’t say enough how thoroughly impressed I am with the curriculum as a whole ~ or how highly I recommend it to other homeschool families. Find Out More You can view and purchase all of the products available from Nancy Larson Homeschool Science on her website.

A few other things to note:

  • Science 1 is designed for ages 5-8; Science 2 for ages 7-9; Science 3 for ages 8-11
  • Science K Homeschool Kit is scheduled to be released the summer of 2011. Science 4 Homeschool Kit should release the summer of 2012. Science 5 Homeschool Kit is scheduled to be released summer of 2013.
  • Check out the Blooming Scientists blog ~ the homeschooling parent community from Nancy Larson.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or contact Madon Dailey directly, a representative of Nancy Larson Homeschool, if you have any specific questions. She is wonderful and would be happy to help you out!

 

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Magneatos ~ A Guidecraft Mom Review and Giveaway

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I mentioned last week that I will be a part of the Guidecraft Mom Blogger team for the next year ~ reviewing some fabulous educational toys and also sharing some great giveaways with you all. The first products we were sent to review were the 36 piece Magneatos set and also the curved Magneatos ~ and they have been a HUGE hit in our house!

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What are Magneatos?

The name pretty much sums it up ~ Magneatos are magnets and NEAT, making a toy that will provide hours of open-ended exploration for children. Magneatos are recommended for ages 2+, brightly colored and jumbo in size ~ the perfect size for little hands to easily grasp and manage. Each of the magnetic balls is about 2” in diameter. The short Magneato rods are 3” long and the large rods are 5 1/2” long.

36 piece Magneatos set

24 piece curved Magneatos

12 circles

6 long tubes

18 short tubes

8 circles

4 long curves

12 short curves

 

What can you create with Magneatos? It’s only limited to your imagination!

What Do We Think?

We received the 36 piece Magneatos set and also the curved Magneatos to play with {we now also have the Jumbo Master Builder Series set…yes, we love them that much}. I expected that only Kaleb and Zachary would be interested in them. I was wrong!

All of the kids have been asking to play with them and getting creative in how they use them. We’ve been making animals, building structures of every sort, creating shapes, making letters, discovering what the magnets will stick to {ahem}, and just having fun.

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The curved Magneatos are available through the Guidecraft website and also available from Amazon. The 36 piece Magneatos set is also available through Guidecraft or Amazon.

The Giveaway

Do you want to know the best part?? Guidecraft has offered to giveaway BOTH sets of Magneatos to one of my readers!! Ready to win??

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Mandatory first entry: Visit the Guidecraft website and let me know what other product you love! Leave a comment and tell me!

For additional entries after you’ve left your first comment {leave a separate comment for each entry}:

~ Become a friend of Guidecraft of Facebook

~ Leave this message on Guidecraft’s Facebook page:

Guidecraft has amazing educational products! I just entered to win 2 Magneatos sets at Homeschool Creations: http://bit.ly/bbC7Bo

~ Follow Guidecraft on Twitter ~ be sure to leave me your twitter name!

~ Send out a tweet about this contest. You can copy/paste the tweet below if you’d like!

@jolantheerb is hosting a giveaway for 2 sets of Magneatos from @Guidecraft. Enter to win here: http://bit.ly/bbC7Bo. Ends 10/3.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. The contest will be open until Sunday, October 3rd at 8pm EST and a winner will be chosen using Random.org.

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As a Guidecraft Mom blogger, I was provided this product to review. I was not paid for this post and all opinions expressed in this post are mine…or my kids.

Guidecraft School Library Cart ~ Review

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When I taught in the school system, Guidecraft was a familiar name to me. My classroom had several products that we ordered out of their catalog, but my homeschool classroom hasn’t.

Until now!!image

Trying to keep all of the kids school supplies, books and whatnots in one location and then find room for all of my teaching books and manipulatives was getting a little tricky. We had shelves, drawers and baskets overflowing with all of our school gear…and truthfully it was beginning to drive me a little more than nuts. When things around me are scattered…I am too.

This gorgeous School Library Cart showed up on my doorstep one day from Guidecraft ~ IMG_5105and our UPS guy was nice to bring it inside for me. Trust me, this is one solid piece of furniture! It weighs over 40 pounds, so I opened the box when a friend of mine came over to visit and roped her into helping me put it together.

 

Overall, it was pretty easy to put together. The assembly instructions for the library cart were easy to follow and all done using pictures. At times, the wheels were a little tricky, but from start to finish we had it put together in about 45 minutes. It is definitely a two person job {ok, maybe one if my hubby would have put it together, but I was too impatient to wait for him to get home!}.

Aside from a screwdriver, we didn’t need any additional materials, but I would highly recommend using a socket wrench to tighten everything…otherwise, you’ll be turning the little wrench that comes in the kit for much longer. Besides, using a socket wrench is fun and makes a lovely little noise that makes you feel handy. :)

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Laurianna was the official photographer since my hands were otherwise occupied, but here we are about 45 minutes into our endeavor with a successfully assembled library cart that was ready-to-use!

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The library cart fits perfectly into the corner of our dining room and is going to be wonderful to use this year. I’ve organized it so that one side has all of my weekly teaching supplies on it {teacher’s manuals, extra books}.

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On the other side each of the kids have space to put their books and extras. Instead of putting shelves on the end, we used some removable 3M hooks to hold the kids pencil cases so they can grab them quickly.  The bottom shelf holds our extra manipulatives, our spelling curriculum bin, reading bin and extra school supplies.

I love that it has wheels and we can move it around as needed during our school time. It takes up much less room that what we had previously {hooray!!} and there is still plenty of room to fill it up as we go through our school year ~ and trust me, we’ll use it!

…..THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED…..

 

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. The contest will be open until Tuesday, August 3rd at 8pm EST and a winner will be chosen using Random.org. {GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED}

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Easy Lunchboxes ~ Review

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You might have read the title of the post and thought ~ “Ummmm…doesn’t she remember that she homeschools? Lunchboxes are for school, aren’t they?”

Might I just say ~ absolutely not!

I saw Easy Lunchboxes online and was immediately intrigued. The little organizational part of my brain loved that the eco-friendly lunchbox has three separate compartments {for those picky kiddos who shudder at the thought of food touching other food} and the lid seals the individual compartments.

Genius, I tell you.

Kids Lunch Boxes

I found out about them right before we were heading out for vacation, so my parents ordered a set and another set was shipped to me {one via UPS and one via USPS}. The set from the postal service arrived the day before we left on our trip, so I quickly washed them, packed them and took them along on our vacation.

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They have been wonderful and we used them during our vacation when we went on day trips and again on the return trip home for our lunches {so we could save a little money not eating out}. The kids loved that they each had their own color {the set of 4 containers have lids in red, orange, blue and green} and I love that they were easy to clean up ~ top rack of the dishwasher and they are done! Did I mention that they stack inside each other for easy storage when you aren’t using them {bonus points here!!}.

I am so excited about using these during the school year too!! While the kids are getting ready for school time in the morning, I can pack their lunches quickly and have them waiting in the fridge when our school is finished for the morning ~ taking a lot of the lunchtime stress off from me! On our co-op days when we tend to get home much later than our normal lunch time, I can pack a lunch to take along instead without it all getting squished in a big bag.

While I know that there are other containers available in stores ~ I am SOLD on these!! They are sturdy {not a flimsy plastic} and if you have any doubts, check out this comparison post from the Easy LunchBox blog showing the difference between the two containers. The Easy LunchBox containers will last you for a long time ~ saving you both time and money. :)

Product Specifics

The Easy LunchBox containers {$13.95/set of 4} have four different-colored lids and they are refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher {top rack}, and freezer safe. The containers and lids are made of “non-toxic, food-safe, polypropylene (PP or plastic #5). These are the top-choice safe food containers if you’re looking for BPA-free lunch boxes, phthalate-free lunch boxes and non-toxic lunch boxes.”  They are not leakproof, but each container has three compartments and the lid covers them very well {we had a little dip in one of ours with no problem}.

The insulated cooler bags {$7.95/each} come in five different colors and three of the lunch containers will fit inside ~ or one container with a drink and plenty of extra room for additional snacks. They are made of the “highest quality 300D Polyester for premium durability and toughness, are vinyl free (PVC free) & lead free, with an FDA compliant PEVA lining.”

Buy an Easy LunchBox set

You can purchase Easy Lunchboxes from Amazon {with free s/h} to order your own back to school lunch box. I promise you will love them!!

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For the record: I was sent a set of Easy Lunchboxes and a cooler bag to review. My parents also purchased an additional set and bag…which I promptly confiscated and eventually reimbursed them for.

We Love Wedgits!!

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A friend of ours pulled out a big tub of Wedgits when we were over for a visit and for the rest of the time we were there, Zachary was lost in a world of building and creating. I was fascinated by them too and right after we left Zachary wanted to know if we could get some too.

What are Wedgits?

Wedgits are essentially building blocks that are 3 dimensional. Children nest, fit and stack the Wedgits together, creating designs either from their imagination or following guided cards…and there are hundreds of designs that can be made! They are safe for children as young as age one and up {be sure to check package labels still}.

Zachary was jumping up and down with excitement when the Wedgits showed up on our doorstep. We had to wait a few days before we could pull them out to use them, but it was well worth the wait! The entire time he was working with them, he kept shouting out ~ ‘Wedgits are AWESOME!’.

Here are a few of the creations that Zachary worked on…balancing blocks carefully and getting everything ‘just so’. Do you see in the center picture how the blocks look like they are ‘floating’?

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Wedgits have earned multiple awards including the 2002 Learning Magazine Teachers Choice Award; the 2001 Parents Choice Silver Honor Award and 1998 Parenting Magazine Toy of the Year Award.

This learning toy is one that will be used for years to come in our home and we have purchased several extension packs for the starter set, including additional Wedgit advanced design building cards and a mini set to make more creations. We LOVE our Wedgits!

 

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Our New Math Curriculum ~ Teaching Textbooks

In a few weeks I’ll be sharing our full curriculum line-up for the 2010-2011 school year. I had mentioned a little bit ago that we were already switching over our homeschool math curriculum for both of the girls and they will be continuing with the new program through the summer and then next year.

What did we switch to? Teaching Textbooks.

Are we liking it? Absolutely yes…but this is going to be a lengthy post. :)

We’ve used Abeka since we started homeschooling {and for now Zachary will continue to use it} but during the second half of our school year Laurianna’s frustration was mounting with math ~ and there were many days that resulted in tears for her. In doing the {numerous} reviews for math products this last year, we found one thing that seemed to help her and make it easier ~ the computer.

If I put a worksheet in front of her with 20 problems, she would start, redo, recheck and take f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to complete even five problems. Give her 20 similar problems on the computer and she would answer them in very little time, many times figuring the answer in her head ~ and correctly. Math problems that would have taken her five minutes apiece if done using the worksheet.

The difference? Generally with the computer she is getting instant feedback and won’t sit there second-guessing her answers. If she gets one wrong on the computer, she just moves on without a fuss.

We tried several sample lessons of Teaching Textbooks online, took a few placement test and decided to order Math level 4 for her, even though she is closer to the level 5. Abeka covered different concepts, but truthfully the endless worksheets were killing us.

Our goal was to start her on Math level 4 at the end of the year and have her work on a few lessons each week so she would gain confidence in herself and her math skills {because she is smart, she just doesn’t think she is no matter how much encouragement she receives from us}. Essentially, she is reviewing concepts right now, but we’ll move her into level 5 somewhere in the middle of our school year.

Coughing up roughly $100 for the program was a little difficult ~ but we are loving it enough that we ordered {and are waiting for} the Math 3 Kit for McKenna to use. We also only ordered the cd-roms and not the workbooks to go along with the cds at this point, since they can do any problems on scratch paper at this point.

With Teaching Textbooks, basically you watch the lesson, do the problems and then review any of the problems that you missed or need help on. Each lesson has a guided lecture, Q/A time and it self-corrects. When Laurianna is done with her lesson, I’m able to print off her scores to put into our record book, along with any quiz scores {love this!!}. The parent section of the software allows me to have her repeat a lesson if needed, change answers and also shows me specifically where/if she needs help.

Even though the program is a bit more pricey, it can be used again from year-to-year with the rest of our children {making it $25/child for us}, includes a passcode for 2 computers {you can call if more are needed} and it can also be resold {hooray!!}.

The biggest question is ~ does Laurianna like it and is it actually working for her? She actually asks to do her math lessons now, so that should give you some indication of how it is going at our house.

That and McKenna is upset that her program hasn’t arrived yet.