Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Jeepers, creepers....where'd ya get them peepers
Jeepers, creepers...where'd ya get those eyes
Gosh oh, git up....how'd they get so lit up
Gosh oh, gee oh....how'd they get that size
Songwriters: WARREN, HARRY / MERCER, JOHNNY
I remember that song from long ago! What a fun tune. Unfortunately my kids have probably never heard of that song before. They have heard of an amazing game, though, that shares a very similar name. It's called Jeepers Peepers and it's made by a great company by the name of Super Duper publications!
When I first saw this game I knew it would be a great fit for our family. The description on the Super Duper Publications website says that Jeepers Peepers, The Ask and Answer Question Game - "builds questioning skills, describing skills, categorizing skills, problem solving skills, and more!" And, although it can be played with children as young as Kindergarten, I really felt like this would be a game for Joshua. I was not mistaken at all. Joshua loves it! What I was pleasantly surprised to find out, though, was that Jacob and John Allen (yes I said my 16 year old John Allen) loves playing it as well. For that matter, I even enjoy playing Jeepers Peepers.
You've probably played something similar as a party game. You know. One of those games where everyone has a piece of tape attached to their forehead with a famous person's name on it. Or maybe a piece of paper taped to their back. The player doesn't know what name is taped to him. He has to go around asking yes or no questions in order to figure out who it is.
Jeepers Peepers is very similar only you wear a pair of plastic classes that also acts as a card holder. The player wears the pair of glasses that has a card with a picture on it attached to the glasses. Take a look at this picture of my three boys wearing the glasses and I think you'll get the point.
No, these are not my boys. Due to technical difficulties I was not able to post a picture of them YET. Check back soon, though, and I'll have one posted!
The game play can be either easy or challenging. The game time can be short or long. Jeepers Peepers comes with six Jeepers Peepers Glasses, six "My Cue Cards", 101 sturdy Photo Cards, some Bingo Chips and a spinner. For the basic play you just put a picture card in a pair of glasses, put those glasses on someones head, and they begin asking yes or no questions until they can guess what picture is on their card.
If you have a child that can't think of what to ask, they can use their "My Cue Card" to help them think of a question. The "My Cue Cards" have picture cues on them such as a picture of a ruler to prompt them to ask a question about size - "Is it bigger than a car?" or "Can I hold this thing in my hand?" - or a picture of a map to remind them to ask about where this thing is located - "Would I find this thing in the house?" or "Would I see this thing in the wild?" and so on.
If you want to play a long game you can use the chips and spinner. When someone guesses correctly he spins the spinner and collects that amount of chips. After a pre-determined number of rounds, the players count their chips and the one with the most is the winner.
There are so many different variations to Jeepers Peepers that your children will never get bored. We actually play in the car! The kids put on a pair of glasses with a card on top (sorry, I don't wear the glasses but my card is put behind my headrest - and all of the kids turn to me at the beginning of the game so I can quickly glance in the rear view mirror to see the picture on their cards) and we take turns asking and answering questions. It makes the time on a long trip go by quickly! We love it.
Here's where I've seen it help my children. Joshua has learned to categorize things. He's learned critical thinking. He's learning different cues to help him remember the answers to questions he's already asked. Jacob has learned how to ask yes or no questions (yes, believe it or not that is a challenge for him). He's learned self-control by not blurting out the answers. And, yes, he's beginning to learn all of the same things hat Joshua is learning only on a much more basic level. John Allen is learning patience. By playing an actual critical thinking game with his brothers, he's learning what kind of learning difficulties that his brother's have and learning how to help them.
Me? I'm learning how to have fun with my kids once again. When you are the parent of disabled children, then you sometimes get so wrapped up in the therapies and teaching of those kids that you forget to take some time just to have fun with them. Jeepers Peepers has helped me to relax and enjoy my children.
So, where can you find Jeepers Peepers? Well, just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to the Super Duper Publications web site. The game normally sells for $29.95 but Jeepers Peepers (I had to do it!) do I have a deal for you! From now until August 31 of this year if you use the coupon code - BLGJP30 - then you can deduct 30% off of the price of this award winning game! Trust me. You won't be disappointed. We love it.
Other members of the TOS Review Crew reviewed other items from Super Duper Publications and you can find out what they have to say by clicking here. And I think they have coupon codes too! Happy Homeschooling!
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I was sent a free Jeepers Peepers game in order to try out with my family and give my honest review on this blog.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Imagine a world where there are...
- first and second graders mastering all addition, subtraction and multiplication facts
- second graders mastering "difficult" long division
- fourth graders mastering all of arithmetic
- fifth and sixth graders passing "with flying colors" the same statewide examination in Algebra I traditionally reserved for the brightest ninth graders
- children in every class (in every grade up to sixth) using textbooks at least one year ahead of their grade.
Over the years of being a student, working as an educational therapist in a private school, substitute teaching in a public school and now homeschooling my children, I have encountered many techniques for learning math. I even remember counting on my fingers (and toes) when I was little. Some folks encouraged it and some didn't. Most of the time I was discouraged from doing so and prodded to use my head and not my fingers.
Can you believe that Professor B Math actually encourages you to use your fingers? Not in the same way that we all used them as children, but in a very unique way.
Most of you know that my middle child, Joshua, was diagnosed with asperger's syndrome a few years back. Asperger's syndrome is on the autism spectrum. Because of his disabilities, Joshua has difficulties with many learning activities. Concepts that may seem easy to normal kindergarten and first grade students can be very difficult for Joshua.
We have tried many math programs for him. Some with success and others with no success whatsoever. He is still woefully behind in math compared to others his same age. I wanted to see if Professor B Math would help. The instructions said that we should not worry about grade levels but start him at the place we thought would be most beneficial for him. There is even a free placement test on there website that could have tried, but I decided to start him way back at the beginning. My plan was to work quickly through the lessons until he reached a challenging area and then we could continue at a regular pace. Professor B has actually worked for him and I am seeing progress!
Professor B, who in real life is an actual man by the name of Everard Barrett, uses a lot of innovative techniques that have really helped Joshua. And what's really neat about these innovative techniques is that you don't need to know math in order for them to work. Everything is shown and explained right on your computer screen. And when I say shown and explained, I really mean shown and explained. Not just for the teacher but for the teacher and student together. You see, the lessons in Professor B are all on the computer. You mut log in to access them. The main teacher on the computer is, yes, a bee to represent Professor B. But, Professor B (the bee) doesn't talk. There are cartoon balloons that he talks with but no sound. The reason there is no sound is that Professor B is not a computer game that the student uses alone, it's actually a whole math program. Since it is a whole math teaching program, the teacher (or, in this case, you, the parent) sits with the child and reads the words on the screen while the child watches and mirrors what is happening on the screen. The parent is also to make sure that the child is understanding what he being asked to do and doing it correctly. After mirroring what is done on the screen, the child practices doing it on his own. If wanted, there is also a downloadable workbook where you can print out needed pages for your child to use as extra practice.
As I mentioned before, the lower levels are mostly done using the fingers. This isn't finger counting, however, it is a very ingenious way to solidify the truth about math. I don't usually insert snippets from a product website because I am supposed to be reviewing a product myself, but in this case I don't think I could explain the reasoning behind Professor B's methods better than Professor B himself: He says:
Because the vast majority of statements made in the traditional teaching of arithmetic are either false or meaningless and children's natural capacities for mastery of mathematics are consequently frustrated (even deactivated), our program to "tell the truth" in all the operations on whole numbers, fractions and decimals. As a teacher/parent, you will be very surprised at the rapid and thorough understanding you are able to achieve when you experience truth telling in arithmetic.
Professor B's techniques are so unique and different that they are really difficult to explain. There are many sample videos on their website that you can access by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. I did find one video of Professor Everard Barrett that explains the concept of subtraction. You can see by this clip how logical and easy it is.
Of course, when you log into the Professor B website and choose one of he subtraction lessons it won't be the actual Professor B but the animated Professor B (the Bee) that teaches you. Please, though, check out the Professor B Math website for many more sample videos that actually show you how the program works. We are loving using Professor B Math. I'm not sure if we will use this along side the program that we are presently using or use this exclusively on its own, but we will continue using this program. As Professor B says:
Professor B Math is much cheaper than hiring a tutor. Each level can be purchased for $100 for a 36 month access. For example, you can purchase a 36 month access to the online program for Level 1 (pre-K through 2nd grade) for $100 and then when needed you can purchase a 36 month access to the online program for Level 2 (3rd through 5th grade) for 36 months and then another $100 for Level 3 (6th through 8th grade) when needed. Such a bargain! Each level can be completed in a year, but Professor B Math allows you a 36 month access for a child that may need a little extra time, or for a family with multiple children on different grade levels. When child #2 is ready then it's there and waiting!
Professor B Math also has a monthly price of $20 per month for one level. If you have another child on another level then that level would be $15 and if you have still another child on the third level then that level would just cost $10 if you purchase all three levels at the same time. For more information on the pricing just click on one of the hi-lighted links above.
Other TOS Review Crew members reviewed Professor B Math and you can find what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Homeschooling!
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I was given a one year membership to Professor B Math in order to try their product and give my honest review on this blog.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
I'm going to start right now with this wonderful literature and comprehension curriculum recommended for students in 9-12 grade from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources called Lightning Lit & Comp written by Elizabeth Kamath. We were blessed to be able to review the American Literature: Early-Mid 19th Century Student and Teacher's Guides. No, this book was not written in the 19th century! The 19th century refers to when the authors lived and the books used in this course were written.
Okay, to keep with the completely normal theme I am going to do a "what I like and what I dislike" type review. That seems normal enough doesn't it? Here goes.
- The wonderful books that they use. I've mentioned before in my reviews that we love good literature around our home. Literature that doesn't just tell a story, but that is alive, well written and teaches as well as tells a story. In homeschooling circles those book are called "Living Books" and Lightning Lit & Comp uses good Living Books. The four core novels that are used are The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: An American Slave Written By Himself; The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne) ; and Moby-Dick (Herman Melville). But, good novels is not all that is in this study. You'll also find poetry from William Cullen Bryant and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; a short story by Edgar Allan Poe; and an essay written by Washington Irving.
- The very easy set-up. There are four units in this book and each unit is divided into two lessons to make a total of eight lessons. Each lesson features a different author and a different style of writing. The student begins by reading and answering comprehension questions on the required book, story or poetry. Then the type of literature is studied. For example, after reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, your child would study how to write an autobiography. Then, you complete one or two writing assignments of your choosing from a list of 6-8 suggestions. There are other tidbits sprinkled in, but those are the major things that you do with each lesson. It's all very well done and easy to follow.
- The Introduction. The Introduction has so many valuable things in it that you won't want your student to miss it. It not only explains the different sections and what is expected of the student, but it tells them how to read good literature and poetry and how to be a good writer. A good teacher could almost spend a whole semester on just the wonderful tips and information that is in the introduction.
- The Flexible Schedule. Do you have a student that just soaks up literature and writing? No problem, you can work as quickly as you want through this program. You can even complete the whole book in one semester. However, if you have a student that might not necessarily flourish in this area you can take it a little easier and cover the material in a whole year. Both the student guide and the teacher's guide gives detailed semester and year long schedules. Which, by the way, brings me to my next "like".
- The Teacher's Guide. If you are like me, you really enjoy prompting your children to write and then reading their excellent work. Grading, however, can really be a problem. Something might look like it is well written, but how do you really know? Well, the teacher's guide has detailed checklists for grading the different writing projects. In fact it gives suggestions on how to grade the student on the whole course! It also contains the answer to the discussion questions and other neat information on how to teach and grade this course.
Well, that seemed normal enough. Now, in order to continue to be as normal as I can in this review, I must include the "dislike" section. Here goes.
- Well, let me see now...dislikes...
- Hmm...I really didn't like the way they...no...really that was an asset.
- I know! The illustration of the lightning on the front of the book is awful...well...now that I look at it again it's really quite stunning...
Even the price for the Lightning Lit & Comp - American Literature: Early-Mid 19th Century Student and Teacher's Guide aren't normal. If you want to purchase the whole curriculum - four recommended novels, student guide and teacher's guide - the cost is just $46.56. The Student Guide, which contains the poems, short stories and essays (everything but the novels and Teacher's Guide) is just $29.95, and the three-hole-punched, ready to be put in a notebook, Teacher's Guide is only $2.95. You can purchase any of these items by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above.
You see! There is absolutely nothing normal about Lightning Lit & Comp or this review. I'm just doomed to be abnormal. I must just accept the fact that I am special. *more sobbing* Wait a minute! *see hopeful glint in Tim's eyes* I've forgotten that I have to include a link to the Schoolhouse Review Crews web page where there are links to all of the other Review Crew member's reviews for this great product. Many of them reviewed other items from Hewitt Homeschool and Lightning Literature and you can find what they had to say by clicking here. I normally include that link! It is a normal thing to do. I am normal after all! I also normally include the disclaimer below. It's normal for all of the Review Crew to do. I also normally end by saying "Happy Homeschooling".
So, I guess this is a normal review. Just a plain old, normal, every day review. How wonderful! *see Tim breath a sigh of relief and wipe away his tears*
Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I was sent a free copy of the Student guide and Teacher's guide for Lightning Lit & Comp: Early-Mid 19th Century in order to try out and to write and honest (and normal) review on this blog.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
There are seven shooters that are allowed to shoot on a team that goes to the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match - five shooters whose scores count for the team, and two alternates. The alternates are there in case one of the top five can't shoot. Then, they could step in and shoot. Otherwise, the alternates shoot in their own category and there scores don't count for the team total. If you are chosen to shoot as a regular team member, you have to skip a year before you can go to "Nationals" again. You can shoot at Nationals up through the year that you turn 15 years old. Then you age out.
John Allen shot as an alternate his first year, and was invited to go back again the next year as an alternate. The third year we skipped. He probably could have gone as a regular team member but then he wouldn't have gotten to shoot during the year he turned 15. We thought that would be his best year so we chose to skip that year but worked hard practicing both at home and going to the range at Bend of the River once or twice a week. Strategy also comes into play when thinking things through. Many of his chief competitors would be going to Nationals that year and therefore couldn't compete the next year at Nationals or compete for the regular awards at the State match the next year.
John Allen was quickly working his way up the ranks, and it looked like his final year shooting BB gun would be a big year for him. There was just one problem - nerves. The first year we went to Nationals as an alternate there was no pressure. He was a fairly new shooter and he exceeded all of his goals. The next year, however, he was experienced and was expected to do well in the alternate category. We tried not to put pressure on him, but, he knew what he could do and he set his goals high and put the pressure on himself.
I'm afraid that I didn't help either. Although I tried not to put pressure on him, I'm a analyzer and a statistic person. I'm forever looking at scores from the past and "number crunching". "Look John Allen," I might say. "Last year's bronze medallist in kneeling scored a 96. You're average is a 93. If we can bring your average up three points..." You get the picture.
Needless to say, he didn't do well at that year's National competition, and, then, didn't do as well as expected in the next year's State match. He began to get the mindset that he couldn't do well in major competitions. At practice he would shoot well, but when it came to a major meet, he seemed to let his nerves get the better of him.
His last year of shooting BB guns, the year that he turned 15, was a great year at practice. He was doing just as well, if not better, than most of the team. He was the one that was in line to win the state competition. Unfortunately his nerves kicked in again. The morning of the pre-state match he woke up extremely ill. He ended up skipping the match and I took Joshua to shoot (more on him tomorrow).
Two weeks later was the State match. He woke up with a quesy stomach but, after many pep-talks and much prayer (we always pray before he shoots each position), he was feeling pretty good. It didn't hurt that he had earned the Distinguished Expert award, the highest award that you can earn in BB shooting, during the week in between. That also helped to boost his confidence. He actually shot well. In fact, he was the top shooter for the match and out shot everyone. Unfortunately, shooting is not everything when it comes to BB gun competitions. There's also the dreaded test on everything from gun safety to rules.
He had a respectable score on the test and was still in the lead when it came to the shootoff. I mentioned the shootoff yesterday. It's where the top eight shooters shoot ten final shots one at a time in the standing position and, after each shot, someone reads the scores off. A match can be won or lost at the shootoff. John Allen did well, but not as well as the second place shooter, Julia. She actually came back and tied John Allen after 10 shots. That's the first time that had happened in Tennessee state history.
They searched the rule book and decided that the tie would be broken between the two by a sudden death shootoff. One shot at a time until someone shot a better shot than the other person. The first shot was a tie - they both shot 8's. Then, on the second shot, John Allen shot an 8 but Julia shot a 9. So, John Allen ended up in second place. They do have a special award, though, for the person who had the best shooting score, minus the test so John Allen won that award as well as second place. But, he proved he could conquer his nerves!
Next, was air rifle. Before I talk about that, though, tomorrow I'm going to blog about Joshua and shooting. Can a child on the autism spectrum actually be trusted to shoot a gun? Find out tomorrow!
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
See that cute little kid with the oval around his head?
I'm not going to tell you how many times we have felt like giving up. If I did, it would fill this whole blog post and would quickly bore you. Like any sport, practice is required if you want to succeed. And, like many youth athletes, John Allen wanted the success, but didn't always want to work for it.
As I mentioned yesterday, we were very unknowledgable in the shooting sports when we first began. Really, we are still learning a lot and have much more to learn. We did realize, however, that one of the first things that we needed to do was make sure that John Allen was coached well. At first, John Allen was coached by Meghan, the head coach of the team. Megan was on a collegiate shooting team and was very accomplished. She had the philosophy that you shouldn't push a child too quickly. She wanted every young shooter to learn to love the shooting sports and not to hate it because they were pushed too hard at first. I remember sitting behind she and John Allen when they were on the firing line and mumbling things under my breath when I though John Allen was doing something wrong. She would often turn to me and say something like "Calm down dad, he's doing fine!".
I credit Megan for instilling a love for shooting in both John Allen and our middle child, Joshua, who we'll talk about tomorrow. I only wish she were still around for when Jacob, our youngest, begins to shoot in a year or so. Unfortunately her husband was transferred out of state and they had to move.
Even before her move, however, I was watching the other dads/coaches. Shooting is a very family oriented sport. At least in our shooting club, fathers and mothers are put into service almost right away. There are 8-10 bb shooters on the line shooting at a time so one person can't coach them all at once . While one group is shooting there is often another group that is studying for the test (I'll talk more about the test later). Fathers (and often mothers) are on the line coaching their child and, at the same time, mothers (or often fathers) are helping to prepare students for the test, give the test or score the test.
As I watched the fathers coaching their own and other children, it was easy to pick out the dads with experience and the dads, like me, who had little to no experience. One father in particular seemed to have the right balance of patience and pushing the shooters to do their best, so, after Megan went on to coach other newbies, I approached him about taking on John Allen and he agreed to help him out. It was an excellent fit. John Allen and Jeff worked fantastically well together. Jeff was just the right person to teach John Allen the intricacies of the four positions - prone, standing, sitting and kneeling - and the techniques of proper site picture, proper site alignment, breath control, trigger squeeze and follow through. John Allen began to advance in the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program and advance in rank among the shooters.
John Allen's second year of shooting we went to pre-states and states to gain valuable experience but didn't place. Finally, however, in his third year of shooting, his hard work began to pay off. At the pre-state match he actually made the shoot off. The shoot off is where the top eight scorers in a particular match go head to head shooting 10 standing shots one at a time. After each shot the scores are checked and announced to the crowd. John Allen shot so well at the shoot off that he moved from seventh to sixth place. Afterwards Megan announced that his chances of being chosen to be an alternate on the team that went to the national match had greatly improved. That year, after the state match, John Allen was, indeed, selected as an alternate for the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match in Bowling Green, KY. He didn't expect to win any medals, but he set a goal, practiced hard and off we went to Bowling Green that summer.
Boy was the national match a totally different "ball game" than what we had ever experienced before. You walk in to that large room with dozens of firing points set up ready for hundreds of competitors to shoot on and you are awestruck. John Allen, however, rose to the occasion, kept his cool, and shot his best ever - far exceeding the goal he had set.
We began to wonder if he could actually go home and win the state match someday. Could he? Tomorrow you'll find out, but you'll also find out about some bumps in our path including a bout with nerves, a shooting slump and, yes, dealing with a pushy father who some said (and at times still say) wanted it more than his son. So, get ready for the next segment of my week long series - Our Shooting Journey - Part Three - A Family Affair.
Click here to get to part one of this series - Our Shooting Journey - Part One - How it All Began!
Shooting at a national match isn't all work. There is some time
for fun and games. The sponsors always treat the athletes well, like
providing free passes to a local mini-golf course.
Monday, July 9, 2012
John Allen at a the Daisy National Air Rifle Championship
I'm going to be quite honest. I almost didn't go. Really, I didn't want to go. Before I explain what I'm talking about, however, let me go back to the beginning.
Most of you know that John Allen shoots air rifle competitively. His shooting "career" began when he was in third grade. We had been looking for a sport that John Allen would excel in for a few years. When he was 15 months old, John Allen was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. By God's grace, the doctors were able to remove the tumor, but had to also remove his left eye.
Being blind in one eye is difficult for a child who wants to play sports. They have no depth perception so hitting a ball with a bat or trying to kick a ball with a foot can be challenging. Try closing one eye and trying to touch the tips of your two pointer fingers together in front of your face and you'll see what I mean. We signed him up for t-ball and he did ok because the ball was stationary. When we tried coaches pitch (where a machine pitches the ball to the batter) things were a little different. He couldn't hit the ball if his life depended on it. Finally, during the last game of the season, he got a hit. The whole crowd cheered - they knew what was going on. There were tears of joy streaming down our faces until we realized that John Allen was just standing there. He didn't know what to do! He'd never hit the ball before. We had to yell for him to run. I can't remember if he made it to first base or not, but it didn't matter. He had accomplished something that was important to him. We knew, however, that in the competitive sports world of our town, he wouldn't last for long in baseball.
Soccer was another story. He actually wasn't too bad. He was able to kick the ball and had players around him who were encouraging. A couple of times his team actually was the number one team in his league. Still, we knew that when he was older he would never make it on one of those traveling teams.
One day I heard that the daughter of one of the teacher's aids at John Allen's school (this was before homeschooling), had a college scholarship in shooting. Hmmm...shooting...I had never thought of that. After all, you only need one eye for shooting don't you? When I asked the aid how her daughter got started in the shooting sports she explained that youngsters many times begin with competitive BB gun shooting through the Daisy BB Gun Shooting program. She gave me the number of one of the local team coaches, I called to find when the shooting season started, and our shooting journey began.
Our shooting club, Bend of the River, begins practicing in January with the main state matches in March and April. The first Saturday is usually an all day thing with a lot of safety training. The main folks at Bend of the River, Charlie Pardue, his wife Nancy, and his sister Mary Jane, are fantastic. We were total newbies when it came to shooting and had no idea what was going on but they welcomed us and John Allen with open arms. The head coach of the team, Meghan, began working with John Allen right away and was very complimentary of him. It seemed that he had finally found a sport in which he could do well. We didn't attend the pre-state and state match that year because we thought that he wasn't quite ready (remember we were total, ignorant newbies) but we did next year and it was the beginning of his shooting success.
So, where was the place that I almost didn't go? What was the thing that I didn't want to do? Find out tomorrow in my next installment of this week long shooting series - Our Shooting Journey - Part Two - Success!
PS. Do you want to see some early pictures of John Allen at the 2008 National BB Gun Championships in Bowling Green, KY check out this link - http://share.shutterfly.com/share/received/album.sfly?startIndex=64&sid=8QYt2bJozZMOQ&fid=12fec66ee21c8d8e . He's in pictures 74, 75, 520. Enjoy the view of John Allen at his first national competition. Boy how far he's come!