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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Product Review:Firefighter Unit

As a candidate for a homeschool curriculum reviewer, I received a free copy of a unit on firefighters to try out in our homeschool classroom. I received this copy in exchange for an honest review of the product and I have received no other compensation. The unit is titled: "When I grow up I want to be... A Firefighter." It is produced by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. There are many other titles available including: doctor, farmer, chef, and veterinarian.

I received the unit as an 82 page e-book and I was a little overwhelmed by the size. I quickly realized that it was not necessary to print all 82 pages. I printed about 30 pages of text and activity sheets. A parent that does not mind reading off of the computer could get by with printing even less.

The unit is designed for ages 4 to 10. My boys were very excited to try something new in our homeschooling day. We started by talking about what we knew about firefighters. We made a chart on the board.

I then proceeded to read the unit to the kids. My kids love to be read to, and the first part of the reading was 16 pages and contained several pictures and graphs. Although only 16 pages, it was full of facts and figures. Every now and then it would return to a story format, but even with the kid-friendly tone, Henry (my four year old) was quickly off on another activity. Isaac (my six year old), followed in about five minutes. Only James, my third grader, dutifully sat through the reading.

At the end of this reading section there was a little quiz, which we completed orally. Although they seemed disinterested while I was reading, I was very impressed with how much of the information the kids retained. After the quiz, there was a creative writing lesson with several prompts. I let Isaac and Henry draw pictures, and James wrote a short story and drew a picture.

The second day we read the next section which was about robots. My kids adore robots, but the section was a little too factual for their ages. Again, only James was able to stay focused and engaged. The section ended with an extension activity to make your own robotic arm. We are definitely going to complete this activity after the weekly trip to the store to get disposable cups and craft sticks.

The rest of the unit contains worksheet activities and other extension activities. The worksheets are definitely designed for the older learner with corssowrds and word searches. I really appreciated the handwriting sheets. The sentences pertained to the unit and came in print and cursive writing; perfect for a family with writers of different levels! There was a sheet full of words for the children to define, and a glossary was included for reference. We did this part orally, and I gave the list of words to Henry for handwriting practice.

The kids liked the non-worksheet extension activities best. Many were similar to putting on a play. With various household items we would create a problem that my little firefighters would have to solve. In addition to problem-solving, there were also many cooking ideas. Kitchen science- YUM!

James demonstrating the bucket brigade.

Completed coloring sheets included in the lesson.

Here's what I liked best:
*It was a self-contained unit. I didn't need to supplement with additional resources from the library.
*It had engaging extension activities that got the kids out of their desks and allowed them to work together to solve problems.
*There was an answer key for all the worksheets and questions within the unit. A big time-saver for me!
*There was more than enough present in the unit to supply a weeks-worth of homeschooling, especially if you access the list of web links included in the back of the unit. Without the links we covered: Reading, writing, spelling & vocabulary, handwriting, math (older student only), art, and science.
*The unit offered an opportunity for us to talk about fire safety in the home.

Here's what I thought needed improvement:
*The text in the unit was too advanced for the younger learners.
*There wasn't any sort of lesson plan available for how to present the material. *The worksheets were all designed for the older student.
*The coloring sheets were simple and the kids thought they were boring.

Overall, I thought the unit was worth our precious classroom time. It was great to get away for our school routine and complete our school lessons under the context of a firefighting unit. Fire safety is important for every child, and it was nice to incorporate an entire unit into the lesson, instead of just instructions on what to do if there is a fire in the house. The cost of this unit makes it even more appealing: only $8.95!
Click here to order this or the other available units in this series.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The littlest cutie

Margaret is always busy-busy being a cutie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's still snowing around here

It has pretty much been snowing for a week and a half. You can bet that week in Florida we are being treated to is looking really nice right now! Here's the view in front of our walkway looking down the street.
Here's are house. Yes, that big white thing in front of the van is a pile of snow. We had to shovel pathways to the car doors. Then when you park the van and car you have to try to line up the door with the path you shoveled.

My holly bushes are under there somewhere.

Here's the view looking up the street. All this snow has to go somewhere when it melts and I am guessing that somewhere is going to be my basement. Not exactly the surprise I want when we return from Florida.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Skinny Skin

Me: "I can't fit on that bench with you, it's too small for both of us."

Boy: "Yes you can. Papa fits on the bench with me and he is bigger than you because his skin is longer."

Our Adoption Plans

By now I am sure that most everyone is aware of our plans to adopt a baby from Ethiopia. We have created another blog for those who are interested in following our progress on the adoption front. You can access that blog in the sidebar on the right, or by clicking here: Krom Family Adoption.

Friday, February 12, 2010

For Mema

Every night for the last few nights Margaret has replayed this scene with her baby dolls. I think it is so precious! She "feeds" about three of her babies each night. She is really enjoying the doll highchair from her Mema!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Storm Out Here

The big historic storm hit us late yesterday afternoon. We were told to expect eight to twelve inches of snow and we received nearly double that in less than 18 hours. The yardstick measures 19 inches in the backyard. Here are some views of our place:

The backyard

Our lovely abode

The view down the street

The view up the street
Our neighbor Alex shoving his way out. To give you an idea of the snow, Alex is a tall guy, about six feet tall.

The older boys were begging to get out in the snow as soon as they came down for breakfast in the morning.

Henry and Margaret went out willingly enough, but preferred to play in the garage.

These are the steps that connect our yards.

The younger kids lasted about 20 minutes. Then it was inside for hot chocolate and chocolate milk.

It was Margaret's first time for chocolate milk and after taking a long drink, she removed the bottle and declared, "Cake!"

As I post this, the older boys are still out in the snow!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Margaret's Birthday

Two Grandmas and a Great-Grandma requested that many photos be posted of Margaret on her birthday. So here are the pictures that marked her big day.This photo is actually from yesterday. It demonstrates Margaret's newest craze: taking everything out of her drawers and putting on her swimsuit. Here she has the swimsuit top on her legs.

In the afternoon we opened a few presents.

Margaret loves to open presents, but the problem is that she takes a very long time. In fact, she sometimes takes so long that she gets bored and decides to move to another activity before the gift is opened.

So Papa offers to help and we are able to get a few of the gifts open.

It's a baby doll and she is very excited.

She is showing Papa all the accessories it comes with.

Look at how excited she is!

By far the biggest hit was the antique baby doll bed that Margaret received. This was the same doll bed that I played with as a child and my mother played with as a child before me.

She was in Heaven putting the doll in the bed and covering it with the little blanket.

Here is the cake. It was chocolate on the bottom and yellow cake on the top. And yes, I did make it and frost it. And I made the homemade buttercream frosting.

Here are the cupcakes. They are chocolate and yellow cake as well. I got the idea for the design from a magazine. They are supposed to represent a bunch of balloons.

We are so very fortunate that we chose the most perfect place to live in Latrobe. For Margaret's birthday we had the neighborhood over. Five houses of neighbors in our block and one house of friends from a few blocks away came to help us celebrate Margaret's big day. Since it was just the neighbors is was a very relaxed and joyful atmosphere.

Margaret got a lot of presents. Good thing she had a posse of kids to help her open them all.

She got a beautiful angel necklace from the little girl next door.

She received lots of girly stuff like dresses and play shoes and tiaras and purses.

The pink feather boa was not her friend. She screamed everytime one of the adults tried to drape it over her shoulders for a photo.

Notice the high heel.

With her little friend Aisley.

She is waiting patiently for her birthday cake with her new cell phone in hand, bracelet on tray and high heels in place.

Waiting is hard work, but thumb-sucking helps pass the time.

She's not quite sure what to make of the singing and the candles.

Blowing out her candles. I bet her wish had something to do with baby dolls and plastic high heels.