Friday, February 28, 2014

Fieldtrip Friday!

We've been enjoying a lot of fieldtrips this month!  Winter has been so long this year, so getting out of the house for at least one fieldtrip a week has been such a blessing !
The girls had a super fun time bowling with friends! 

We visited our local glass blowing studio.  It was amazing to watch the artist create a beautiful piece of art!

We visited our local news station and was able to meet one of the meteorologists. 

He entertained the kids by doing several weather related experiments. 

Lastly, we visited our local children's museum for a class on animals, followed by free playtime!

 We're keeping warm and busy this winter, but are anxiously awaiting for spring!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

TOS Review:

As a former science teacher, I'm always interested in new science curriculum, so I was beyond thrilled when offered to review is an interactive standards-based science curriculum that includes hands on projects, investigations, and printable worksheets for children in kindergarten through second grade.  In addition, the curriculum can be used as a review for older students, grades third through fifth.  My family received a 6-month Online Subscription.
There are 4 main Science Books with a total of 28 modules and 350+ activities.  
1.  Physical Science
2.  Inquiry Science
3.  Life Science
4.  Earth/Space Science
The site index provides a comprehensive list of each science book and the modules included in each book.  Each module takes approximately 2 weeks to complete.  I would highly recommend checking out the demos for each module. 

Cost: $7.95 per month per student


I decided to use as a semi-independent curriculum for my daughter, Izzie, 7 years old.  After looking over the scope and sequence, I decided to start her in the Physical Science book with the Matter Unit, beginning with the Observing Matter module. 

What's included on the Student's Launch Pad? 

Once logged in, your student will have his or her own Launch Pad with many different options.  The Pinky video is very beneficial in learning about the various areas.  The main areas include the four books of science, my assignments, and my tools., Student Launch Pad

Once your student chooses a specific science book, unit, and module, he or she will have a similar screen shown below.  There are a number of activities listed; however, it's extremely important to complete the first three assignments in order. The other activities can be completed in any sequence and repeated, if desired.  Once the activity has been completed, a gold star will appear.  The evaluation should be completed last., Observing Matter Module

The "My Assignments" section contains activities that are assigned by the parent and need to be completed by the student.  I really liked being able to schedule the assignments for specific dates.  I didn't want Izzie to have full access to all the information and activities at one time or her trying to figure out how to get to the correct book, unit, and module.  Instead, when she logged into her Launch Pad, she would see the assignments that she needed to complete for the day.  The cross-curricular activities are fun and educational!, Observing Matter Module Activity

The "My Tools" section contains several different options.  First, there is a Digital Notebook, which can be used throughout the lessons.  Parents have access to the notebook and can make comments and/or suggestions.  In addition, the pages within the digital notebook can be printed, which is beneficial for records., Observing Matter Digital Notebook

 Second, there is an Assignment Details section, which is a listed schedule for assignments.  Next, there is a Mini-Explain section, which lists Science Skill Lessons and gives a detailed description and/or explanation of each., Mini-Explain

The explanations are very clear and easy for an elementary student to understand.  I love that the examples are child-friendly!  This Science Skill Lesson is explaining how to use a Venn Diagram by comparing and contrasting a dog and a turtle., Science Skill Lesson

There is a Reports section that tracks the student's progress.  Lastly, there is a Glossary for each science book.  The definitions are very simple and child-friendly.  I really like that there is an option to "hear" the pronunciation of each word., Glossary

Izzie really enjoyed being able to work independently on the computer and loved all the animations throughout the lessons!  The student's Launch Pad is extremely child-friendly, easy to navigate, and encourages the student to actively participate in the lessons! 
What's included on the Parent's Launch Pad?

Once logged in, the parent will have his or her own "Launch Pad" with many different options.  The Pinky video is very beneficial in learning about the various areas.  The main areas include the Account Tools and Teaching Tools., Parent Launch Pad

Within the "Account Tools" section, the parent will have access to student information and account information.  The bulk of information is located under the "Teaching Tools" section.  It is here where the parent will find a central location for the lessons plans for all 28 modules., Lesson Plan Overview

There are detailed lessons plans for each module.  Each module has 8 daily lessons.  For each lesson, there is a Module Description, Core Concept, Essential Vocabulary, and Professional Development.  For the Professional Development, the parent can watch videos or read about background information regarding the core concept, learn about common student misconceptions, and discover the best practices used for teaching the particular concept.  This is an excellent resource for parents, who may not feel comfortable teaching science., Detailed Lesson Plan

My favorite feature of the detailed lesson plan is being able to preview the material that the student is going to complete.  It was so easy to quickly click on the icon and watch exactly what was going to be presented to the student.  This allowed me to know what was being presented without having to sit and watch with my daughter!

In addition, the detailed lesson plans provide downloadable teacher support and offline materials.  The online content is all the same, regardless of grade level.  However, the parent can easily differentiate instruction by using the different level Teacher Guides and Offline Materials, which makes it super easy to use as a whole family!, Teacher Guide

  Izzie enjoyed completing the activities from the downloadable Offline Materials.


The "Teaching Tools" section also contains Teaching Strategies, Student Reports, Assignments, and access to each student's Digital Notebook.

Below is Izzie's Student Report from the Observing Matter module. Student Report
  I really liked the visual of the Student Report.  I can quickly see which assignments have been completed.  If an assignment was "graded", the percentage score is included.  You can see from the report that Izzie received a 90% on an assignment.  If you're curious to know what your student answered incorrectly, you can simply click the percentage, which shows you the details!

I also like having the ability to see where Izzie used her Digital Notebook throughout the lesson.  There is a small notebook icon that indicates it was used.  From the above report, she used her Digital Notebook during the "Engage" section of the lesson.  I can simply click on the icon to see exactly how she used her digital notebook!  I can also print the pages from her Digital Notebook, which is very beneficial for record-keeping.

Once I figured out the logistics of the parent's Launch Pad, I loved it! 

What did I like about

1.  User friendly and easy to navigate for both parent and student. 

2.  The program is extremely interactive and encourages the student to actively participate.

3.  The animations kept Izzie's attention, while she learned some pretty tough and complex concepts!

4.  The examples and explanations were child-friendly and presented in a way that children can grasp and understand the concepts.
5.  The implementation of a variety of cross-curricular activities was a nice bonus.

6.  Can be used by the whole family, even with different grade levels, by using the differentiated teaching materials.   


In conclusion, I would highly recommend for elementary students!

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Snowstorm to Spring in 7 days!

It's hard to believe that this time last week, we had 22 inches of snow on the ground! 
Today, it was sunny and 62 degrees! 

Bring on spring! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

We were snowed in with 22 inches of snow on Valentine's Day!  The girls were a little disappointed that our coop was canceled and they weren't able to pass out Valentine's Day cards to their friends. 
However, we had a great afternoon building snowmen and drinking hot chocolate! 
Thankfully, the girls' Valentine's Day activities were earlier in the week.  They had a great time at a Valentine's Day party!  This was their first year passing out and receiving Valentine's Day cards. They were super excited!
They made Valentine's Day cards for residents at our local nursing home. 
We spent one morning visiting with the residents and passing out goodies and cards!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Snow much fun!

The girls had "snow" much fun spending the afternoon at our local library!
After reading several "snow" books, it was time to make crafts! 
The girls decided to start with the messiest craft...creating snowmen out of candy...

 Then, they created these adorable snowmen out of popsicle sticks! 

They had a great time making snow-covered trees from puffy paint (shaving cream and glue).

Then, they strung beads onto pipe-cleaners to make these beautiful snowflakes!  

Lastly, they created more snowflakes from marshmallows.  

We love going to our library! 
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