Friday, June 24, 2016

Our Week in Review June 2016

It's been a busy last two weeks around here. It's been extremely hot here in Kansas and it's not even July! I have been digging holes for plants and painting the outside of the house some. We have put the final touches on the 4-H projects for the fair! I'm so glad the 4-H projects are completed other than baking bread for the food project for the fair.
 We had a friends son do his Bar Mitzvah last week. He did an amazing job. I had fun taking pictures for them during this special time.
 Mercy found a new sleeping place and wasn't at all happy when I had Little Man put the game up. So we let her have it for a bit longer.
 My daughter blessed me when I seen her prayer journal this week. I knew when I recieved this prayer journal that it would be perfect for my sweet little girl with a heart of gold.

Our congregation is actively looking for a building to call their own as they have been renting the place we are in now. The congregation is  averaging 170+ people a week and still growing. The hard part is finding a building to hold around 300 people. 

My sweet Bug made it a point to add it to her prayers when she heard them asking for prayer to find the perfect location for them. 

Bug thinks Mercy is praying also as she likes to lay on the prayer journal often. I love looking at the world through the eyes of a child with special needs as it's so precious.
 I am ready for Shabbat tonight. I pray you have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

LearnBop for Families a TOS Crew Review

I’m always grateful to have some academic learning going on in the summer months. Math is one of those subjects that I don’t take a full break from during the summer break. For the last several weeks we have been using LearnBop and their LearnBop for Families. We received a 12 month subscription for my family. LearnBop for Families gives you access for 2-4 children.
LearnBop is intended for grades 3-12. It works as an online math tutor and has a pretty impressive amount of math concepts available in one place. I have to admit that math is not my favorite subject-just don’t tell my kids that! I’m all for having some additional math help for the kids. Just in case I missed a concept or just didn’t explain it clearly! LearnBop for Families is new for home use as it’s been available in the public schools for awhile. This uses Common Core.

You can use this on a computer or on the iPad Safari Browser. I used this on our home computer.

I put both kids in grades so they could get a full range of math concepts. For Bug who is 13 and in 7th grade I put her at the 3rd grade level due to her severe learning disabilities. For my son who is 10 and will enter in 5th grade next school year, I decided to keep him in 4th grade level for reviewing concepts he learned this last year. We used LearnBop 3-4 times a week.

Each of the bops is taught through a video. The problems vary from multiply choice to fill in the blank questions. The videos do a good job explaining the problems overall. I had a few explanations on certain concepts that made me confused as it wasn’t the way I learned it and it was annoying because you couldn’t skip it to go forward to the next unit.

You do get immediate feedback on your answers with a chance to redo the problem or you can do step by step instructions to help you complete the problem. They do have hint section which will give you the answer to the problem. However, if your child chooses to do the hint it will not receive credit for it counted towards finishing your bop.

Little Man thought this was hard and he is good at math. Many of the explanations on the videos confused him and we had to sit down and go over several of the concepts. Once I explained the concepts to him he did well. I guess it was just different than how we do math or maybe just the explanations with the math concepts. He hated that he did not understand how they presented some of the math. I had to reassure him that everyone learns differently and that it’s okay if it confused him in certain areas. He just didn’t enjoy LearnBop and it caused him tears. My son doesn’t usually act like this with math. Seeing my son frustrated with math was hard. What I found hard was that I knew he was already familiar with the concepts that he was being taught. He had a few concepts that he was fairly unfamiliar with but, he usually catches on quickly.

Bug lasted almost 2 weeks and I had to help her every step of the way. This made her frustrated with me having to read each problem for her. She struggles in reading and I really wanted an audio option for her. She was dismayed when I told her I could adjust her grade level and it caused a lot of tears. In the end I ended up doing her level during the rest of the review. She knows that she doesn’t do every subject at grade level but, going down was not going to make her happy. 

Overall, this has an amazing variety of math concepts. The videos are fairly short and I love that they can choose to do a step by step help or to hit a hint to help them out. The program is easy to navigate around. It was easy to track my children’s work clearly. 

This just wasn’t a good fit for my family. I really wanted to like it and I really liked the many aspects of this program. I just didn’t work for my homeschool. 

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 Don’t forget to see what others with the Crew have to say about LearnBop.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ta Kwon Do Testing

Little Man tested out for another belt last weekend. He will now have a green tip on his yellow belt. He did really good with his testing. 

He tested both yellow and green belts. Several of the yellow belts had tips and so they all had difference forms than what he did. I would of been so confused with everyone around me doing a different form and concentrating on the form you are suppose to do. It would of messed me up. He concentrated and did his form well.
 They always end with breaking a board. Each time the board gets thicker as you go up in a belt. He broke his board on the first attempt.
 I would of closed my eyes too if someone was kicking a board in by my face! 

Well done Little Man.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Understanding Exposure, fourth edition by Bryan Peterson Book Review

This newly revised edition of Bryan Peterson’s most popular book demystifies the complex concepts of exposure in photography, allowing readers to capture the images they want.

Understanding Exposure has taught generations of photographers how to shoot the images they want by demystifying the complex concepts of exposure in photography. In this newly updated edition, veteran photographer Bryan Peterson explains the fundamentals of light, aperture, and shutter speed and how they interact with and influence one another. With an emphasis on finding the right exposure even in tricky situations, Understanding Exposure shows you how to get (or lose) sharpness and contrast in images, freeze action, and take the best meter readings, while also exploring filters, flash, and light. With all new images, as well as an expanded section on flash, tips for using colored gels, and advice on shooting star trails, this revised edition will clarify exposure for photographers of all levels.


BRYAN PETERSON is a professional photographer, an internationally known instructor, and the best-selling author of Understanding Exposure, Understanding Shutter Speed, Learning to See Creatively, Understanding Digital Photography, and Beyond Portraiture. In addition, he is the founder of the online photography school The Perfect Picture School of Photography. He lives in Chicago.

My Thoughts:

Less than two years ago I bought my first DSLR camera a Nikon D5100 and I since have purchased several lenses. Wow, what a learning curb. Sure I can put it on auto and snap much better pictures than my old camera. I have ventured out some and started playing around with the other settings on my camera. 

I wanted more I wanted to know why when I have perfect conditions why the pictures aren’t coming out the way I expect them to. When Understanding Exposure came available for a review I was pretty excited to read it.

Not only is the book packed with information in this 168 page book. The photographs are absolutely stunning. Do I understand everything I have been reading! Haaa Haaa I am still trying to process everything. The good news is that I am learning some new things to be a better photographer. It makes me feel like a novice whom I am and I’m having a lot of fun one step at a time.

Bryan Peterson challenges you to stop using the auto mode and put it in manual and so I have been putting my camera in manual. As far as the results well they have been good and bad but, I am learning by doing it not just reading about it. I like that he gives you some challenges to do and then he tells you what to watch for while doing the shots. Very helpful with it adding some hands on points.

ISO have been a bit confusing to me but Bryan Peterson explains it like this, “Think of ISO as a worker bee. If my camera is set for ISO 100, I have in effect 100 worker bees, and if I have my camera set for ISO 200, you have 200 worker bees. The job of these worker bees is to gather the light that comes through the lenses and make an image.” Then he goes on to explain that it takes your 200 worker bees only half as much time as my 100 worker bees to make the image”. I get ISO now it took the beekeeper in me to make it stick in my head and not to confuse other terms.


Defining Exposure


Shutter Speed


Special Techniques

Electronic Flash 

Is this book for a person who just went out and bought their first DSLR, it depends on how much you know already. I would familiarize yourself with your camera. I found out that I actually don’t know my camera as well as I should or thought I did.

This is a great book with lots of information and for me being at the beginning of my photographic journey I suspect I will be referring to it a lot. This is not a step by step book so don’t expect it to hold your hand to take stunning photos.

Overall, I find this a wonderful resource that has challenged me to spend more time learning about this hobby that I enjoy. I have a son who loves taking pictures and I would love to teach him more about photography and to learn how to work our camera better.

I received a free copy of this product from Blogging for Books- Waterbrook in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this information accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Progeny Press- The Sword in the Tree E-Guide a TOS Crew Review

I was excited to use Progeny Press for the first time ever after hearing so much about them. My family loves books and I love being able to explore deeper into the books with my kids. We received The Sword in the Tree E-Guide. This is intended for upper elementary grades 4-6.
The Sword in the Tree E-Guide comes as a download PDF Study Guide that you can save to your computer and it opened in Adobe Reader 9. The Study Guide and the Answer Key came in two separate files.

The Sword in the Tree book has 14 chapters. There are actually two ways to use the study guide. One you can print it out for your kids. The second option is that you can have your kids type in your answers directly into the guide.

I have to admit that I debated which way to do with Little Man. He always needs extra handwriting practice and he really doesn’t care to write that much like most typical 10 year old boys. We had a bit of a different situation when this review came available. Little Man literally just finished The Sword in the Tree book the week before we knew what the choices would be available for this review. I decided to let him type in the answers since that isn’t something he gets to do very often. I thought it would be a good way for him to review the book and do something different.

Progeny Press recommends for their literature guides that you have a dictionary, thesaurus, and a Bible. Progeny Press uses the NIV translation of the Bible. You can use any translation of the Bible you prefer with the study guide. Also, they recommend a topical Bible or a Bible with a concordance. If you don’t have a good set of encyclopedias you will want to have access to the internet. The Sword in the Tree E-Guide has 42 pages.

When I started reading the study guide and the, “Note to the Instructor” I found that they recommended that the student pre-read the book first. That was different in a study guide for me. They recommend that you work on one study guide page per day.

The Sword in the Tree E-Guide starts out with a synopsis which was a good overview for Little Man. The next section gives you a bit of information about the books author’s which I like and I had to laugh when my son got excited with some of the other books that Clyde Robert Bulla have written. He recognized that he has read several of his books.

There is so much to do with literature guides and I like it when they give a few ideas in the, “Ideas for PreReading Activities” this is a fun way to make it more hands on. Little Man wasn’t interested in doing any this time around. Some of the suggestions are learning about the oak tree and a few suggestions are available to choose from. They have some suggestions for coloring books about books of arms, armor, and knights. What is a knight story without a grand castle? They have a suggestion their also on learning about castles.

The Study Guide is broken down in 5 sections for the book chapters and followed by an overview. The Study Guide it is filled with all kinds of learning tools. Some grammar is pointed out in the study guide.

Each of the five sections includes several questions about the chapter which is a great way to gage your kid’s compression of the book.

Think About the Story
Dig Deeper
Optional Activities

Answer Key for The Sword in the Tree E-Guide is 5 pages and is broken down by chapter chunks like the study guide. It’s basic and to the point. It’s also very helpful to check your kids work.

How did I use The Sword in the Tree E-Guide in my homeschool?

Since Little Man who is 10 had already completed the book prior we were able to jump right into the study guide. I worked alongside with him with the study guide. He wasn’t use to doing a study guide after he read the book and was a bit worried he would forget parts of the story. He did great and I think it was due to the fact that he really enjoyed the book.

With the 4-H fair and getting all the projects done looming right around the corner. He wanted to complete this during the review period. We worked Monday – Friday on this. Depending on our schedule he typically did more than one page a day. With use being on a summer school schedule it worked out good for use. We didn’t do any of the hands on activities. We spent an hour for the most part each day doing more than one page. Looking at it I could see that it would be around 20 minutes typically.

This wasn’t my idea of pace but, my son had his mind made up with the pace he wanted to go and he stuck to it. We actually finished it last week.

My Final Thoughts

Wow, Progeny Press is an impressive literature guide. It isn’t too overwhelming. I like that they have a variety of ways to answer the questions from short answers, fill in the blank, drop down boxes, and they encourage oral discussion. My favorite is that it uses scriptures and is a faith-based Christian viewpoint. 

I like having the option of being able to print out the study guide if I want my child to hand write it or to have them type in the answers with the ability to print it out and have a hard copy for my records.

This wasn’t over Little Man’s head as some literature guides we have used in the pass. It was a good fit for him. 

Progeny Press has a nice selection of literature guides to incorporate into your homeschool. I look forward to exploring more now that I have used one and have had an enjoyable experience with them.

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Don’t forget to see what others from the TOS Crew reviewed as they have done different titles from Progeny Press.


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