Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blogging Through The Alphabet - K

K is for Kettle Corn

Popcorn is a staple in our home. It is easy and quick to make, everyone can eat and enjoy it, and it is very allergy friendly for us! The quickest way to make it is to pop it in canola oil on the stove, then spray it with Canola oil spray, and sprinkle some salt on it. Occasionally, we enjoy trying other popcorn recipes though, and kettle corn is one of our absolute favorites!

This is a step by step recipe for making a very addicting kettle corn. Now we don't have to wait all year for the fair or the local festivals to come around, so we can go spend $10 on a bag that will be gone in a day!

Kettle Corn Recipe
1/2 c. white sugar
2/3 c. popcorn kernels
5 TBS. oil (Canola, sunflower, coconut)
salt (to taste)

Turn heat to medium high. Heat the oil, as directed below in the steps. Stir in sugar until dissolved, then add popcorn kernels and stir to coat. Turn the heat down to medium low and put the lid on. Shake often, as directed below. Add the salt at the end when popcorn is finished popping.

For step by step directions, see the pictures below.

First, we assemble ingredients. For this recipe I made the kettle corn using organic coconut oil, but you can also use Canola or sunflower oil. You will need an oil that can sustain higher temperatures without scorching.

Next, get the oil heating up in the pot. Use a big stock pot so you have enough room to shake the popcorn later on in the cooking process. Also, pre-measure your ingredients so you don't have to leave the oil unattended while it's heating up.

I like to place a few kernels into the oil and watch them, to help me know when the oil is hot enough to add the ingredients. As soon as these 'sample' kernels pop, I go ahead and stir in the sugar and remaining scoop of popcorn kernels.

Stir the sugar quickly into the hot oil. It will dissolve quickly. Then pour the remaining kernels in and stir them well, to coat them all with the oil/sugar mixture.

Put the lid on and allow the popcorn to start popping, but stay close by! It will burn easily because the oil is so hot.

About every 30 seconds, shake the pot to completely coat the popcorn with the sugar/oil mix. Don't remove the lid at this point....for obvious reasons! ;-)  Since the lid and pot are very hot, I lay a hand towel across the top so I can easily hang onto the lid while shaking.

When you hear the popping sound slowing down and coming to a stop, it is safe to remove the lid and stir the popcorn. Remove the pot from the heat if the kernels are mostly popped.

Add the salt at this point. You can put the lid back on and shake it well, or use your spoon to stir it. I prefer shaking because it seems to keep the popped corn more intact than stirring, which sometimes will break the kernels.

If you can wait to eat it, it is best to pour the kettle corn out onto a cookie sheet to allow it to dry a bit. It will be in sticky clumps, but as it dries, you can break the clumps apart.

Enjoy!!!  This kettle corn works great to pack up and serve the next day....if there's any left over!

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

This post is linked with Blogging Through The Alphabet with "Ben and Me" and also with Lisa at Try A New Recipe Tuesday.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blogging Through The Alphabet - J

J is for JAM!

I am very excited that summer is coming. I love making jam and my family loves eating it! I try hard to make extras and put them away for gift giving at Christmas time. Jam is easy to make. If you can chop veggies or fruit, boil, stir, and follow directions, then you can make jam! It is not as tedious as jelly making where you have to strain things out.
I am listing a favorite jam recipe that I make every year. If you give my kids a bag of corn chips, they can eat a whole jar of this in one sitting! It is excellent with cream cheese on crackers.
Hot Pepper Jam
4 cups of finely chopped peppers. Use various colors and degrees of hotness depending on what your preference is. I typically use half hot peppers and half sweet peppers, and the jam comes out plenty hot! The bigger the variety of colored peppers you use, the prettier the jam will look! I use a mix of green and orange sweet peppers, red hot peppers, and green jalapenos. (Or I will make it with whatever hot peppers I have available at that time!)
6 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 package of powdered pectin
Always wear rubber gloves when chopping hot peppers!!
Prepare your jam jars according to regular canning procedure. Sanitize them, boil them, and prepare bands and lids.
Finely chop the peppers, put in a large pot along with the cider vinegar. Bring to a rolling boil, and stir for about one minute before adding sugar. Stir completely, and allow to return to a rolling boil. Add pectin, stir well, and allow to boil for one minute before removing from heat.
Pour into hot, prepared jars. Gently stir out air bubbles and wipe the rims. Fix lids and bands onto jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
This jam does work out as a freezer jam, where you can put the jam into freezer containers instead of processing in canning jars.
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.
Click the links to read some other interesting posts!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Homeschool Library Resource

Those of you who receive The Old Schoolhouse Magazine may have heard about a brand new resource that they have just made available to homeschoolers....

This resource can be purchased for a one time user fee of just $25, and currently has over 175 audio books and e-books available for download, with more being added. Your purchase not only covers the current materials, but will also give you access to the future additions as well.
All the books and downloads that are available are from well known and trusted homeschool and educational companies. There are resources to help with everything from organization to electives, with plenty of research options to help the current topics of study - including maps and unit studies!
Here is a sampling of subject areas that have instant downloads:
  • Art and Crafts
  • Bible
  • Economics
  • Electives
  • Encouragement
  • Geography
  • Government
  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Reading
  • Organization (with several planners)
  • Nature Study
  • Special Needs
Materials included apply to all ages - from preschoolers to high schoolers, as well as encouragement for the teachers!
I am looking forward to perusing the available topics and choosing some that will help us as we prepare for next school year!
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review: Joyce Herzog Educational Dice Games

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I recently learned about Joyce Herzog and the educational support company that she started. She has a number of different educational and Christian based products available for assisting children to learn. Her products span a variety of learning styles and are available for very young learners all the way up to adults - products that would help teachers! Through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew I was given the opportunity to review the Educational Dice Bag.

The Educational Dice Bag comes in one medium sized zipper bag, with three small bags inside it. Each of the three small bags contains a different set of dice as well as an instructional booklet of ideas and games to play with that set.

These dice are no ordinary dice - they are just about the coolest dice I have ever seen! They are very interesting and my children were intrigued by them the moment we opened the package.

There is one die called a "Deca Die" that has - as you might have guessed - ten sides! There is also a double deca die, that contains a die inside a die!

The games are not all math based. There is also an alphabet die that can be used for spelling games! Our favorite game with the alphabet set was a 'Scrabble' type game that we played over and over.  The 'function' die was probably the most practical, as it gave a lot of extra math practice.

How we used this game: When the regular schoolwork lessons were finished, we could pull out the dice bag for a few rounds of fun games. The children loved playing with these dice, most likely because they are so unique and different than regular dice. We also would take them out at night before bed, if there was some extra time to play a game, but we needed a quick one!  The games are very adaptable and we can pretty much adjust them to how ever much time we have. If I need to fill five minutes, I will make the game winner be "whoever can get to the score of 25 first"! If we have time for a longer round, then we will make the winning score be 100.

Recommended ages: The package says "fun for all ages." I could see how this really could be used for all ages in a family setting, but I do have to say that Kelly probably received the most enjoyment out of these games, and she is in 2nd grade. There were a few game suggestions that were too easy for her, so I feel like these dice could even be used for preschool and kindergarten levels successfully.

Best tip: The instructions give a tip to store the dice in a small plastic container, then use that container to roll them in so you won't be chasing them when you play. This was a great idea!

Alternate use: Because of the small size, and handy zipper storage bag, these are a great item to throw in my purse, and take with us when we are going somewhere that we know will involve waiting time. Playing with these sure beats reading old waiting room magazines or trying to play "I Spy" in the Highlights magazine, when someone has already circled all the items!

How to purchase: This Educational Dice Games Bag sells for $23 and can be purchased at The Joyce Herzog Product Store.

We have really enjoyed using these dice games. They are very creative, and I enjoy that the kids are getting extra math practice when they don't even realize it, because they are just having fun!

The Crew reviewed an extensive list of interesting Joyce Herzog products. If you would like to read some of the other reviews, please click the banner below.

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Finishing Strong

Our Homeschool Year in Review

thousands of hours spent....
stacks of books completed....
a huge box full of finished papers....
Countless notebooks full of writing....

If I had to sum up this year in one word it would probably be relentless.  We started earlier than we ever have, and worked while others had vacations, but we also finished earlier than we ever have as well! The girls learned so much this year!

A 7 inch stack of completed tests and assignments from this school year!
 Some new things we tried:
  • I joined The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew which gave me the opportunity to try out several new things in our homeschool. Often I would see various books or programs and think that it would really work well for one of the girls, but it was just not in the budget. Or one of the girls would come up with a subject that they wanted to learn more about, and I wanted to oblige that desire! When I would investigate, I would be presented with so many different options in that subject area that I wouldn't know where to start! Being on the Review Crew has really opened a lot of opportunities for us, and it's FUN too!
  • All the girls used an assignment notebook this year to record their daily work. When one of the girls was having time issues, taking longer than I thought necessary to finish subjects, I had her write down the start and end times in her notebook. This helped her to be more aware of how she was spending her time, and I noticed a big improvement after having her do this.
  • Kelly started Spanish. It's our first attempt to work through an actual foreign language curriculum in the younger grade levels. You can read the reviews of the two curriculums we tried: Song School Spanish and Spanish For You. (We decided to shelve Spanish For You temporarily and complete Song School Spanish first, because it seems to be more on Kelly's level. Once she has a basic foundation, we will go back and work our way through the rest of Spanish For You.) We loved both programs, even though they were very different.
  • I started a Pinterest Board this year, and have had a great time sharing ideas with others on there. I have found and pinned tons of great ideas, and have had a lot of fun trying some of them out. I pin lots of great homeschool ideas for future reference. I even learned how to utilize a group messaging board and created one for our VBS workers to use for planning!
  • I started a homeschool blog with this first post last September. When I started it, I knew almost nothing about blogging or maintaining a website. While I still don't know much, I think I can safely say I am a step above "knowing enough to get me in trouble" and have been able to successfully manage the blog and post regularly this entire school year. I even learned how to pin some of my posts on my Pinterest homeschool board!
  • I have really focused on priorities, and allowing my priorities to rule my decision making. This has caused me to make a few hard decisions towards things I wanted to do, but realized that I just couldn't. It has also allowed me to be comfortable saying no to things. Like my husband always says, sometime the decision is not between good and bad, but it is between good and better. I am learning to be satisfied with my 'better' decisions, and let go of the good things that are just not possible to fit into my life right now.
  • We found out that Melissa, who is a very 'hands on' type of learner, loves working with lapbooks! Thanks to two products we reviewed, (Homeschool In The Woods and A Journey Through Learning we have decided to integrate lapbooks regularly into our studies for her.

  • I have met a whole community of knowledgeable and supportive homeschool moms through the review crew, and I have learned many things just from sitting back and reading some of their blogs and material.

Old Tried and True habits:
We are still utilizing the A Beka DVD program for the bulk of our schooling. All the main subjects are studied and integrated very well. We are very happy with the education the girls are receiving from it. Having the lessons all planned out and ready to use helps on days when a "substitute teacher" (someone other than mom) has to jump in and help. It really amuses me how the girls get so attached to their video teachers and classmates.

We have held 'carschool' or 'waiting room school' whenever necessary, in order to stay on track. Doctor appointments are no excuse to miss school in this family!

  • We never take off for snow days! Although having snow outside is a great motivation to getting schoolwork done quickly, to be able to go out and play in it!
  • We worked through almost all the days where others had school breaks or vacations. The kids decided early on that they wanted a longer summer break, so they (mostly) happily agreed to work through those days for the payoff of being finished early.
Changes for the future:
  • The girls always respond well when I place responsibility on them, and equip them with the tools necessary to fulfill the obligation. I dabbled a bit with planning calendars and assignment notebooks in various degrees with them this year, but next year I plan to organize that better for them. I have purchased student planners for the girls, and am considering designing and printing my own planner for myself, since I cannot find exactly what I want and always have to adapt it anyway. I plan on using the student planners as a communication system between teacher and student, so the girls can be more accountable for what I give them, and can have a tangible way to measure their success.
  • Rather than writing tests and assignments on the white board, I am going to completely use the planners instead. This will probably be a little more work on my part, but I think the dividend of watching their character grow will be worth the investment.
  • I need to work on a better system for quickly correcting papers, recording grades, and going over corrections. Four girls produce a lot of paperwork! This is going to be at the peak of my priority list for next school year. I cannot let the girls get too far ahead of me, or I just get buried and can't climb out of the middle of the mountain of papers.
  • For American history, we will be going through a curriculum that uses the American Girl series to teach a multi-faceted approach. Melissa will be utilizing this, with her love of hands on learning. The course covers everything from writing an actual newspaper with 'eyewitness accounts' of historical events, to cooking food from the era being studied. I am looking forward to watching Melissa thrive and soak up this curriculum, and have already found tons of supporting materials to enhance her studies.
  • Melissa will also be branching out into Apologia Science (Anatomy and Physiology) for next year. Again, I think the hands on approach will benefit her greatly in retaining and synthesizing the material. She is really looking forward to adding these two subjects to her studies.
  • Laura will be prepping for her PSAT this fall and SAT next Spring.
Finishing Strong:

This has multiple meaning for me. Having a senior graduating from our homeschool has made me a bit retrospective. At the beginning of the year, I typed out a "Senior Timeline" for her, complete with deadline dates for all her subjects. Though these past few months have been a boatload of work, catching up from a nearly month long missions trip in the middle of the year, and battling senioritis, I am happy to say that the last things are being checked off the deadline a few weeks early!

Singing on a Missions Trip
I encouraged her to finish strong because it does matter! While I could have excused a few things along the way (really? Another essay?), building character is very important to me, and I decided that we would not wimp out at the end, but would finish strong. When she is handed that diploma, I want her to feel the weight and the sweat of those last tedious courses (Ugh - English 12) and know that she earned every last fiber of it. She didn't cut any corners.

This past week, once the prize of finishing was in our eyes, we pressed hard to get it done. We barely did anything BUT schoolwork this past week, and it just had to be like running that last grueling mile in a marathon. But it is well worth it. There is much pride and self-confidence in finishing well, and in completing books. Not only did the girls hopefully learn a little more about the value of finishing, but I pray the character lessons learned will stay with them long after they can't remember how to do Algebra anymore!

As my first homeschool graduate goes on to college this fall, I pray that the lessons learned this year will always inspire her to be her best and be strong, especially when the mind and body says they can't go on. She has embraced her homeschool career and finished strong, and her dad and I are very proud of her!

While I do look forward to next year, and actually already have all our curriculum purchased and stacked in boxes just waiting to be unpacked and put on the shelves, I am looking forward to a little time of refreshing, relaxing, reading for pleasure instead of for assignments, and relishing in the delight of a job well done!

This post is part of a Year In Review Blog Cruise! Click here to see how other homeschoolers are evaluating their school year!

This post is also linked with a list of planning resources at Highhill Homeschool:
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: High School Prep Genius

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A big challenge facing homeschoolers is secondary education. Often parents are teaching multiple grade levels, and the older student begins to work more independently. They also are in a period of life where there are many transitions and a great deal of growth, both physically and mentally. While not every high school student will graduate and go on to college, all must be adequately prepared for life after high school. Since I have a senior graduating from my homeschool this year, college is at the forefront of our thoughts these days. We also have a soon-to-be 11th grader, and I feel we need all the help that we can get! I was thrilled to review the book High School Prep Genius from the College Prep Genius company through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.
About this book: High School Prep Genius is a 437 page reference manual written by a mother and daughter team: Jean and Judah Burk. Jean is a veteran homeschool mom, as well as a sought after speaker on the subject of Mastering the Sat test. Judah is a homeschool graduate who earned scholastic honors in college. The subtitle of this book is "An Academic Guide to Excellence".
This book is broken down into several categories. The 'introduction' teaches how to use the book, as well as giving sample forms to use. It covers practical skills such as setting up a high school timeline, building a student notebook, and setting up a complete four year plan. At the end of the book there are extensive appendixes that help a parent design an official homeschool transcript, as well as assisting students with talent searches, scholarship searches, reading lists, and test taking strategies.
The rest of the book is basically split into three sections: the Foundation for Personal Success, the Foundation for Academic Success, and the Foundation for Future Success. Each chapter has a section for the student to read, a section for the parent to read, and interactive questions or assignments for both.
Foundation for Personal Success: The topics in these chapters are seldom included in books geared towards high schoolers preparing for college or life, but they are very necessary! While some of these chapters ask some hard questions or make some challenging statements, this opens up a tremendous opportunity for the parent to draw out their older teens in conversation, and really challenge them. Senior High School is the best time to have 'tough' conversations, while the parent is still able to have a great deal of influence in imparting their value system to their child.
There is an old quote that I think of often when parenting my teens: 
                                 "Rules without relationships breed rebellion."
While the writing in this book does recognize the importance of instilling your faith into the hearts of your children, it also takes a challenging tone to the student to "own their beliefs" and to question whether the beliefs of their parents are the ones they wish to embrace. It approaches this from a challenge perspective, rather than encouraging the student to follow in the traditional paths of their family. My first reaction to reading this was discomfort, but the more I dwelt on the thought, the more I realized that it is not much unlike the conversations I have already had with my high schoolers, challenging them to know what they believe and why they believe it.
After being in youth ministry and watching many beloved young people walk away from the faith, I am actually  happy to see such a frank discussion taking place in a high school prep book. I firmly believe that if parents would embrace this opportunity to have these difficult conversations with their teens, they would be rewarded with young people who were very open and favorable to working through these heart issues with their parents by their side.
Parents must realize that very soon, their children's values and beliefs will be openly challenged as they step out into the world, whether it's college, the workplace, or establishing their own home. Having thought through many of these personal challenges while in a 'safe' zone, and making decisions in the areas of faith, character, finances, worldview, relationships, and support systems will definitely set them up for personal success, as this book suggests.
Foundations for Academic Success: The chapters in this section explain 'everything academic' from figuring a GPA to overcoming test anxiety. It includes a section on personal organization which is tremendous, and definitely very needful for young people to learn as they advance in their studies. While there is much information that any high school student can use, many of the pages are specifically geared towards homeschoolers and their parents. For a homeschool parent that is not familiar with educational or college requirements, there is helpful information written in a very easy-to-understand format, including explanations and suggestions for a homeschooler who wishes to stand out as an honors or exemplary student, even though they may be the only person in their class!
Foundations for Future Success: This section basically lays out the "nuts and bolts" of finishing high school and preparing for the future. I appreciate how it recognizes that college is not for everyone. There are some practical exercises for a student and parent to work through together, that will help them to sort out their goals and desires. This chapter covers everything from different types of colleges and programs available, to other options like vocational training or the military. It includes a small listing of resources for minority and disabled students as well. There are lists of questions that students can ask an admissions counselor or current student at a college, to get a feel for whether that college would be the right choice for them. There is so much information that we never even thought of, and we personally just finished the college application process this past year with our oldest!
Worth the cost of the book alone: The pages and pages of resources for test preparation, scholarships, and random things including homeschool codes for the SAT for each state make this book more than worth the cost! The High School Prep Genius book sells for $29.95. When you order from the website, use the code TOSCrew for a $5.00 discount! Also, since the time of this review, the publisher has made all the charts and worksheets available as a free PDF file that you can download with the purchase of the book.
Who should use this book: I personally feel that the information contained in this book would benefit every junior high and senior high student, whether they are homeschooled or not! It gives an anchor, a frame of reference, for them to start planning and preparing for their future. There are specific chapters for students in grades 9-12, and there is a pre-high school planning section for those in grades 7-8. Every parent of a teenager should read this book!
How we used the book: As the homeschool mom, my job not only entails teaching and planning, but I am also the guidance counselor. As such, I need to be very well informed so that my students don't miss out on anything that they need. This book makes it easy to be on top of everything, just by reading and following the timelines that are already laid out. I read through most of this book during the review period. I have had my high school children read through applicable chapters, and we discuss them. I plan on reading in depth over the summer as well, especially with the student who will be starting college in the fall! Although we have already kept student notebooks, I plan on utilizing some of the ideas here to better organize them and also doing more 'recording as things happen' rather than trying to remember and record at the end of the year.
My parting thoughts: I am very big on parent/child relationships, and I love how this book bridges that partnership between the parent and their teenager. This book takes a holistic approach in preparing a student for life beyond high school - it's not just all about academics! Raising a teenager means you are slowly transitioning the responsibility of life and decision making over to them, as they grow and mature. The authors of this book truly 'thought of everything' when they listed areas of growth and responsibility that must be prepared for!
This book is one of the most comprehensive reference resources I have ever seen for high school students! If you have teenagers, you will find it truly helpful. If you are homeschooling teenagers, I would say it is an absolute necessity! 
If you would like to read what other Crew members thought of this book, please click the banner below! 
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blogging Through The Alphabet - I

I is for Israel Independence Day

On May 14, 1948, Israel was recognized as an official nation. After many generations of wandering and longing for a homeland, they finally were able to gather back into the land called Palestine at the time, and declare an independent Israeli state as a homeland for the Jewish people. This declaration, of course, was immediately followed by the Six Days War with all the people who did not agree that the Jews should have their own homeland, and fought against the fledgling nation.
During the following year, the United Nations officially recognized the nation of Israel as an independent country, and they were able to celebrate their independence the following May 14, 1949.
It has now been sixty-five years since the nation of Israel became an independent nation in their own homeland once again.  May God continue to bless His chosen people!
Often in the media today we hear of the struggle and disagreement over whether Israel should be a nation, or should continually give up more of their land for supposed peace and cessation of terrorist activities done against them in their homeland.  Our duty, especially as Christians and Americans, is to stand in defense of Israel and pray for them!
1 Samuel 12:22-24 - "For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way: Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth will all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you."

Here is some interesting information....

Below is a map of ancient Israel, taken from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website.  This vaguely shows the extent of Jewish held lands according to the promises of God in the Old Testament. (Current borders are outlined in green, inside the blue area).

Next is a map showing the current borders of Israel. As you can see, it is greatly decreased, and Israel is under constant pressure to give up more land for empty promises of peace.

The areas in bright turquoise are the currently disputed land areas that Israel is being pressured to hand control over to the Palestinians. The nation of Israel is a tiny country, only about 290 miles long and 85 miles across at it's widest point.

If you would really like a blessing, please click the video below and listen to the national anthem of Israel. The video also contains the words in both English and Hebrew.

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

This post is linked with "Blogging Through The Alphabet"  at "Ben and Me."

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life Doesn't Come With a Manual...

...It comes with a Mother!

Happy Mother's Day to all - I hope you enjoy this video! I know I did.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Spanish For You

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Spanish interest in our house has been growing by leaps and bounds! Laura is just finishing up her second year of high school Spanish, and Kelly has been following in her footsteps, starting a  beginning Spanish program this year. We took a break from the studies we were doing to review Fiestas  a complete Spanish theme study from Spanish For You. Thanks to The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,  our Spanish studies have been greatly enhanced!
This program can be used for grades 3-8. In fact, the lessons can be taught to multiple grade levels at once, and the worksheets and assignments tailored to the specific grade level. We received a workbook and daily lesson plans, as well as multiple downloads sorted by grade level of additional worksheets with answer keys, and audio pronunciation guides. The lesson plans are sorted into approximately 24 weekly lessons, with the intention of using the curriculum four days a week for 30 minute sessions. There is a lot of review and practical application built in to the lessons.
What makes this different from other language programs: Rather than just teaching lists of vocabulary words to memorize, Spanish For You uses a thematic approach to immerse the student in reading, writing, understanding, and expressing the Spanish language, using a theme already familiar to them in English. Lessons on proper grammar usage are included, as well. The student learns to distinguish verb tenses, plural, and syntax. It teaches the student to actually think in Spanish, not just use it as book knowledge.
Fiestas is a curriculum that uses Spanish holidays, celebrations, and festivals to immerse the student into the Spanish culture and teach them how to completely understand the words used in a certain situation. The book starts off with some commonly used words and phrases for reference:
  • the alphabet
  • common words and phrases
  • simple commands
  • colors and numbers
  • Information about the fiestas
The fiestas covered in this book include:
  • A birthday party
  • Day of the Dead
  • A carnival
  • Holy Week
  • April Fair
The curriculum encompasses a total learning system by providing:
  • Audio mp3 files to build listening, speaking, and pronunciation skills
  • Flashcard ideas to learn writing and review vocabulary words. (The teacher book suggests having the student make their own flashcards in order to reinforce the vocabulary learning).
  • Worksheets to build reading skills.

I am most excited about: How we used this program in our homeschool! We completed the first lesson in the book - the birthday party. It just so happened that Kelly was having a birthday towards the end of the review period, so we incorporated all that we learned into throwing a real Mexican birthday party for her!
 During our review period, we followed the daily lesson guide to learn the new words - everything that had to do with a birthday party, including the birthday person, friends, gifts, cake, food, drinks, candles, gifts, pinata, and games. Kelly's favorite was learning how to sing the "Happy Birthday" song in Spanish. She enjoyed the review worksheets. Although Kelly is only in 2nd grade, we did use the 3rd grade level materials, and she did fine with them, with some assistance from mom and Laura. We went at a pace a little bit slower than the recommendations in the teacher guide.

I made small cards with the words to the "Birthday Song" for all los amigos.

As we set up her party, I made small flashcards that had the Spanish words for all the items at her party, and taped them on the items they described.

Rather than having a piñata that would be quickly torn apart, I found a small craft where each person could make their own personal mini piñata. Kelly and Melissa (and even Laura) really enjoyed making their own tiny piñata and filling it with little candies.

The girls all really enjoyed having a Mexican party, and it was a great hands on use of Leccion Uno in the Spanish For You curriculum.
An additional endorsement: Laura, who just completed Honors Spanish II, feels that this program is put together extremely well for an elementary curriculum. The lessons taught verb conjugations that she learned in her high school curriculum, and she thinks that anyone who completed this curriculum during their elementary years would be well prepared for high school Spanish studies. In fact, she plans on working through this book over the summer just to get the immersion effect of learning all the words related to a certain theme.
Very helpful: The audio files, where we could listen to the words and phrases being spoken by a native speaker, were absolutely wonderful. We played them over and over, repeating them until we started to sound a little bit like the sound bite!
You might like to try it:  The Spanish For You website has free mini lessons that you can download and try to see if you like the style of this program. We are planning on trying the "Label Things Around the House" lesson soon, since my exercise in labeling birthday party items went over so well.
To purchase: The curriculum can be purchased from the Spanish For You website here. An entire package that includes all the materials to use for grades 3-8 is $64.95, which includes the teacher guide, the workbook, and all the worksheet and audio downloads. You can also purchase the package for only a dual grade (3-4, 5-6, or 7-8) for $39.95. Extra workbooks are sold for $12.95 each.
Kelly is on the younger end for using this curriculum. I am glad that we have all the levels, because I think it will be important to revisit some of these lessons as she gets older and her Spanish knowledge increases. I foresee us getting a lot of use out of this curriculum package in years to come. There are other theme units available, such as Travel and Seasons, and I may possibly investigate using some of those as well.
If you would like to read how other Crew members used this program in their homeschool, please click the banner below! 

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