Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Touch Math Upper Grade Workbook Review

Even though Wes is in public school, there are a few subjects I just cannot leave in the hands of the public school system. I think even though your child is in school you should still play an active part in their education. Especially when it comes to math. Even though your child has a wonderful teacher(like my son does) there is no way they can individualize their curriculum based on their needs with 20+ children in class. There is a curriculum that must be followed and with a timeline to meet. While some children grasp the concept after one assignment, another child may need several. So I have decided to support both my son and his teacher and afterschool him.

Afterschooling is when a child attended school outside the home, but the received supplemental teachings at home, in the evenings, weekends and holidays.

When I was homeschooling my son we struggled to find a math program that didn't end up with him in tears. I'm telling you I bought several, but TouchMath was what broke the ice for Wes. He just blossomed when he was finally taught the strategies in a way he could understand.

Here are some of my past TouchMath reviews if you'd like to check them out:

Today I am reviewing The Upper Grade Workbooks on Addition and Subtraction . The workbook consists of 56 pages of student activity sheets that features scaffolding problems that help the student work to mastery. Each workbook also includes a answer key for easy correcting for busy parents.

Wes was super excited when he heard these books were coming in the mail. When he got home and found the package in the mail box he was so pumped he actually sat down and completed 15 pages in one sitting. TouchMath has always been a very inviting to him, and is honestly one if his favorite math programs too,

I loved the fact that the scaffolding method helped Wes realize that if he could add and subtract single digits, double digits were not that hard. Then when adding hundreds and thousands were introduced he was able to smoothly transition.

The writing in the books are clean, crisp and free of distraction, while still child friendly. While the downloadable pages you can purchase from TouchMath, I like the ready workbook that requires no planning. After I correct my son's work and any corrections are made, I circle the page numbers of the pages I want him to do the next day and put it away. The following day when asked to do his TouchMath, he opens his book and knows which pages to do. Sometime he will even circle the number of an extra page or two when he feels like he's on a roll and completes those too.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!! When Little Z is ready for workbooks, we will be starting with kindergarten level workbooks for sure. Hopefully they will have a Preschool level workbooks by then. TouchMath has been a total blessing for my family. The skills he has learned over the years using this program can easily be transferred to other math programs he is using at school. And at $10 a workbook they are VERY affordable.

One thing about TouchMath back when I first started doing reviews for them what it was not easily accessible for homeschooling or afterschooling parents due to the cost. Back then it was designed for the classroom. But over the last few years they have created products like this and others that are smaller, and designed to be used by parents and one or two children instead of a teacher and 20+ children. They really take suggestions from parents and educators seriously. They want to know how the children who are using their program are doing.

Disclaimer: I received these workbook in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any other way.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Long over due update. 23 months and starting to read

Well its been a long time since I last updated. I just felt pulled away from the blogging world and needed to step back for a little while. But this afternoon I felt like I needed to update and maybe start blogging a bit. 

Well Baby Z is now 23 months. Hmmmm.... I should maybe start calling him Little Z instead because he is hardly a baby anymore. Oh how he is growing. He loves to count, sing, dance, climb, jump, and play with cars. Oh I can not forget his LOVE with the piano. He is a very active and busy little boy, but the piano is one time where he will sit still and play the keys. I did something crazy last night and I signed him up for piano lessons in September. Totally for exposure. I don't expect him to be playing any time soon. But if he can spend 10 mins a week with a teacher who can help me use proper terminology, and get the chance to play on a grand piano I think it will help. 

Last month we introduced Sign Language. Back when he was younger I tried to incorporate Signing Time, but he had no interest. Well I threw it on one day when I notice it was on Netflix. Ever since then he’s been singing the intro song and throwing in a few signs here and there. It seems to also have help his ability to label things. Snow, trees, wind, carrot, etc.

Of course we are still working through Little Reader, Little Chinese, Little Math, and Little Musician. We review Suzy Piano, YBCR and MonkiSee periodically. Now that Zakari is chatting a lot more, I notice he is labeling things and I think it is because of the materials he has seen in all of these programs. I also notice he his singing letters, and Do Re Mi’s. They seem very random as of yet, but I know from other children (TmT) this is the first step to perfect pitch. Little Champion Reader is also a daily part of our schedule.

We have been using Teach Me Kindergarden as an input of knowledge, and when he feels like it he sometimes will show me output. He’s really good at letting me guide his fingers over the tracing of letters and numbers. Wes has gotten in some awful habits when it comes to forming letters and numbers. So I’m hoping to avoid the constant corrections by introducing this skill at a younger age. has been a big part of our lesson time as well. I don’t want to miss any of the preschool basics and leave Z unbalanced in his education, and this seems to fill the gaps. Now that it is available on the ipad, Z can navigate the site easily, as he is not ready for a mouse. There is a lot of busy work, like colouring the random pictures in a Paint like activity, but we just quickly color it and move on.

We were doing Hooked On Phonics on the iPad, but they only have 4 levels available, and we have done those several times. Z loves them. I called the company back in September and they told me level 5 would be out in October. Sadly it never came out. I have a feeling I’m going to have to carry on with HOP in binder form.

Speaking of binder, I created a flash card binder for Z. We quickly flip through it once a day or so. So far it includes:
- Follow that dot flashcards
- Backwards counting 10-0, skip counting by 2’s and 3’s
- First Language Lessons(modified for toddlers)
- EK flashcards (right now we are doing organs)
- Prepositions
- Music Notes from the IAHP course
- Telling time (Hours)

We have been working on things like shape sorters, puzzles, etc. But he’s still pretty busy for these activities. I’m looking at getting the Learning Resources food color sorter. It looks like something that we can use to start classifying things. Not only colors, but veggies vs fruits, etc. We also play with the abacus, counting.

Z is reading some single words, knows his letters and letter sounds. Counts forwards to 18, and backwards from 10-5 so far. Also recognizes written numbers 0-10(atleast).  Sings several nursery rhymes. Knows most of his farm animals and their sounds. Working on labeling zoo animals(does know several of them already). He knows about 8 shapes. Also last week he started skip counting by 2s.
We had a breakthrough with colors this last month. I was getting so frustrated and was convinced he was color blind. He’s knows letters, shapes, numbers, etc for months and could not grasp colors. But finally he master Preschool Preps Colors app.  

Another crazy thing I did was add in Classical Conversations to his routine. They now have an app available, so we have been using that as another source of input. I also downloaded an app called Little Solver on the recommendation of another EL mom. Its all about logic and problem solving skills. While I planned on using it as another input resource, he did start attempting to answer some of the problems himself, and doing pretty good at it.

Little Z is now starting to read more and more words that are labeled on his flashcards, also out in public. It is so amazing to watch the lightbulbs click in his head.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What the boys are doing these days.

I got a gentle push again from my dear friend reminding me its been a while since my last update. Honestly the last month I seem to have been getting sick here and there, and well this blog was put on the back burner.

The boys are doing very well. Wes is advancing through his piano book, and doing very well. I started him more on a after school routine. Every evening he is suppose to do 20 mins of home reading for school, and then practice his piano for piano lessons. His teacher doesn't send home any homework and now that he's in grade 3 I see an issue with this. I don't want him to be shell shocked when he starts grade 4 or 5 and starts getting 30mins to an hour of homework a night. So when he arrives home I proved him a pile of books to read. I set a timer for his 20 mins.

Wes struggles with comprehension. He is amazing at decoding words, but what is the point of being able to decode if you don't understand what you are reading? So a while back I found these books. I know he's in the third grade, but I decided to buy the 1st and 2nd grade first. I'd rather him work through a book and have success with it, then start him at the grade 3 level and have it be too hard and have him give up. Also even though the first few assignments in the 1 st grade may seem easy, I think he is still taking something away from it.

I also decided to start taking advantage of our Click N Kids subscriptions. Wes is always wanting iPad/Computer time, and frankly I'm sick of the mind numbing garbage that he's watching/playing. So I have him do one lesson of the spelling program and one of the phonics. Right now he's whizzing though it. I'm bumping him up 5 phonics levels each time trying to find his level. As for spelling, we just started this, but I having him go to the lessons that offer a test of the previous lessons. If he does well I bump him up to the next level that has a test. If he were to do poorly, or not pretty close to 100% I would go back and have him complete the previous levels. 

 So the other day my step daughter came home with her homework from school. She attends a well know college prep school(pre-k to Grade 12). I flipped through the book as I had heard about it from the BrillKids forum. I like them a lot, so I looked into ordering them. I was shocked that they were available on for such an affordable price. Wes is pretty strong in math, but even still I decided to start him off with the second part of grade 2. The second book in the grade to series introduces the children to multiplication, and I didn't feel it would be wise to skip over that piece. Even though we whip through it in no time, its a good solid start. Leaving math to the school system scares me as its so important. I ordered both of the grade 3 books as well.

I know this might seem like a lot, but really it takes him from when he gets home at 4ish till I'm done work around 5pm. One hour and then he has from "5pm-8pm to just be a kid." Plus I think when the day comes that he has a teacher that feels kids should have homework, he wont feel so shocked. 


Baby Z. Oh wow what a character. "Stop don't do that", in his language means, Quick! Do it faster. He is extremely busy and into everything. I use to think playpens should only be for sleeping, and using them while the child is awake is cruel. That was until I met Baby Z. You place him in a playpen with a pile of books, he will happily look through them. Place him on the floor with the same pile of books, he will abandon them and try and knock over the TV, push any button he can find, chew on the table or manage to remove the power socket covers.

While it seems no matter how much baby proofing I do upstairs, he can find SOMETHING to get into trouble with. My downstairs is a safe haven for him. He can go go go and rarely get into trouble. I try to spend as much time as possible with him down there, but there are times I need to be in the kitchen and he needs to go in there. But I'm finding going to other peoples house exhausting. I think I'm going to have to look into training him. Maybe blanket training. I hate the thought of it, but I can't be running after him like a crazy lady. Right now its ok, because he's small and cute, but it wont be like that forever.
Before the haircut

 We took Baby Z for yet another haircut. Last Tuesday I noticed when he was eating his hair was falling in his eyes and bugging him. Well thank goodness it was a friend of mine cutting his hair (I also watch her little girl) because I don't think anyone else would have had enough patience for him. He screamed like she was cutting off limbs instead of hair. Then when she was done his hair and went on to cut his brothers he started sympathy crying. He screamed until we left the salon.  

After his haircut

That being said, I don't want people to think he is an awful child. Far from! Maybe yes, I could take Wesley wherever and he would not get into everything. But Z is an AMAZING sleeper. Wes I had to rock and rock and rock and when he fell asleep I would sit there holding him wondering, is he a sleep enough for me to put him down? Baby Z I just lay him down with his blankie and walk out and he rolls over and goes to sleep. Worse case he yells out at me once to tell me he's ticked off I'm suggesting its bed time. But then stops immediately. Also with the exception of meat, Baby Z eats a lot better then Wes did at the same age. Wesley would only eat baby food until he was 2 years old. Z loves to experiment with new foods. 

We are still doing a lot of the same educational activities were were before. Baby Z has most of the 3 levels of Meet the Sight Words on the iPad down path. And I have introduced Meet The Blends DVD. 

I found a new series of DVDs called Little Champion Reader. It looks like a better made, more complete Your Baby Can Read series. More DVDs, less flashcards and more books then the YBCR set. So I feel back into my old ways of buying impulsively... and I ordered it. So I'll let you guys know what I think when it comes. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Baby boy at the library

Finally!! Baby Z let Daddy see how much he knows his shapes, numbers and colors! He always seem to just goof off and select the wrong answer when Hubby would come around. But today he totally shined during his lessons and showed his dad how much he has learned.

I just cannot get over how much such a young child can learn when they are having fun.

So, I'm not very good with library cards. Ok I right out suck at not getting fines. My current balance is $117. Yep! Can you believe that! Well I tried to sign up Z for a card so we could take some books out for him. LOL yeah they put a limit on his account to 2 books because of me being a delinquent LOL. When I pay that off his card will be released to 50 books. I guess I kind of snickers. Like I'll have $117 to pay that off. She then told me I could pay $20 the first month and $10 a month till its paid off and after my first payment they would release my card. So I'm going back Thursday to do that. They have all these great preschool bundle packs I'd love to take out for Baby Z.

For my measly 2 books I got these two:

They have sandpaper letters and numbers inside. I may actually go buy these. 
Sorry for the short entry. My mind is just turning with all the plans I have for my 2 boys. It has been a very motivating month for me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

16 months, videos of Baby Z practicing Sight Words and Shapes

Well Baby Z and I have been busy! We finally are settled in a routine after moving and have taken full advantage of our iPad. He is now 16 months old. Finally walking.
Right now we typically do:
2 sessions of Little Reader
2 Sessions of Little Math
2 sessions of Little Chinese
2 Sessions of Little Musician
3 sessions of
1 session of Hooked On Phonics app
1-2 sessions of Preschool Prep app- Shapes
1-2 sessions of Preschool Prep app- Numbers
1-2 sessions of Preschool Prep app- Sight Words 1
2-3 sessions of Teach Me Toddler
We also spend a lot of time reading, counting, and just playing.
16 months there seems to have been a whole lot of changes. He is crossing over from being a baby to being a toddler. I cant believe how many words are starting to come out of his mouth, just out of nowheres like:
- Cat(he also meows back at our cat)
- Banana
- Boob (when he wants to nurse. Not great I know, but its kind of funny... for now)
- Octagon
- Green
- Blue
- Play
He's not as big into signing as his brother was. But then thinking back Wes didnt really start signing till he was 22 months, and he was in a daycare located in our local deaf centre. Half his teachers were deaf.
Baby Z had his first experience at the beach last weekend. Lots of new sensory opportunities. But he only tried to eat the sand once LOL. A mouth full was enough for his liking. I thought a few times he was going to have a meltdown, but he never did. We are going back tonight. We have to get in as much beach time as we can before summer slips into fall.

I thought I'd share a few videos of Baby Z. The first is Baby Z practicing his Shapes with the Preschool Prep Shapes app.

This video is Baby Z practicing his Sight Words.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

New house, overdue update

Well this is a much overdue update. Suddenly in July we had the opportunity to purchase our own home. Possession date Aug 1st. Yikes is all I can say. In one months time we uprooted our family and my home daycare and moved across the city.

We when from a shabby rental house, to a beautifully renovated house of our own. I know Tracy has been stalking my blog for update in hopes of seeing photos of the house, so for anyone else that might be interested LOL here is a shot of my kitchen and upstairs bathroom. Tracy, if you want to see any more you will have to come visit in person.

All I have to say is I'm in HEAVEN! I love our new area! Its honestly amazing! Beautiful splash pad for the kids. The community of home daycares here is second to none. Wesley will be starting school next week and I'm hoping that the school will also be amazing. So far I have a wonderful impression.

Our basement is nearly complete, should be done late next week. *fingers crossed*. But that means I can now move my daycare from my living room, down to the basement. The kids have so much room to run and play. Last week I only had the train table and a toybox of megablocks and they were in heaven. This weekend I'm hoping to get it all setup. My dream is to turn it into a early learning haven.

Baby Z is almost 16 months old! Last week he started taking steps. He's getting pretty brave on his feet and I think in a few weeks he will be unstoppable.

Honestly Early Learning took a bit of a back seat the last month or two as you can image. As did Elimination Communication. But we are getting right back on board. We started back up with our BrillKids programs. Oh man! He was so excited as soon as the program started. I didn't realize how much he miss it. We are also fully utilizing our iPad. I'm guiding Baby Z through Teach Me Toddler, Preschool Prep Numbers, Colors and Shapes, as well as Hooked on Phonics. I'm guiding his hand and using the programs as bits of informations. I allow him opportunities to select answers himself and much to our amazement when we catch him in the right mood, he selects the correct answers. But to me really it is all about INPUT.
I'm trying to think what has happened in the last month or so. Well Baby Z went for his first haircut. A good friend of mine owns her own salon so we went to visit her. Well... Let say Baby Z made it sound like she was cutting of limbs instead of hair. LOL. But Afterwards as you can see in the photo above he had a cute hair cut and all limbs and digits were still attached. 

We took the kids to the local mini amusement park. I was shocked! Baby Z is a ride monster! He loved going on rides and had the time of his life.

Well now I'm getting together my Tot School lesson plan. I have several preschool curriculums that I need to go through and modify for a younger crowd. I totally believe kids can be accelerated learners, but I also don't want to miss the basic topics like shape, colors, etc. So, I'm hoping to spend the next week or so with my planner, and all these curriculums  and figure out a plan. I want to do a mixture of Letter of the Week. Classical Conversations, Animal ABCs, Montessori,  and BrillKids program of course.  Obviously I can't do everything from each program. But I figure, most are 26 week programs. I can modify what I can to make it age appropriate for my little ones. Then after the 26 weeks is up, start over again and add in new items. I plan on adding in Calender time, as well as more DOMAN words. *fingers crossed*.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Photos galore!!!

Everytime Wesley has a field trip at school, he is always asking me to volunteer. But usually because of the daycare I"m not available. But the last field trip of the year fell on the same day as his IEP meeting. So instead of just taking the afternoon off I made a whole day of it. 

They were planning on spending the morning at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Which happens to be in the same area that one of Hubby's aunts live. She also runs a small home daycare so was home during the day. Luckily she was more than happy to watch Zakari for a couple hours for me so I could spend the morning with Wesley.  

The first thing we learned was how to write our names in Japanese. The kids each inked their names on their head bands. Wesley actually did a very good job and caught on quite quickly. The funny thing about the head bands were, the kids kept forgetting they were wearing them. So when a volunteer at the centre would call them by name, they would ask "How do you know my name?" LOL little did they know they could read Japanese. LOL

The woman that was helping our group with Japanese spelling wrote out Zakari and my name as well. (Top says Wesley, middle Zakari, and bottom Monique)

Wesley and I sporting our casual Japanese robes.

Wesley getting ready to participate in a traditional Japanese folk dance. We also did origamis. 

Wesley has been dieing to take his step sister to his school playground because they got this new piece of equipment. Its like the old merry go rounds they outlawed in the late 80s early 90s because kids were getting stuck under and seriously injured. Well I guess they have figured out a way to make something similar but much safer. 

So on Friday we finally went over and they had a great time running around. So excuse the explosion of pictures, but here a several that I took from our trip to the park.

Saturday was my stepdaughters birthday party. Well actually her birthday is not till the end of July. But a lot of her school friends are out of town. So they decided to do it just after school let out(private school ends a week earlier here) and that way more people could attend. 

Honestly I hate bringing Wesley to these things. There are so many kids he usually tend to get a little wild. This time though oddly enough all these girls seem to scare him off LOL. He came and hung out with me and played on my phone. 

An hour into the party Petland showed up with several animals. 

Wesley petting the guinea pig. The lady ask the kids what kind of guinea pig they thought it was and my step daughter raised her hand and said "African guinea pig." LOL good guess, actually it cracked me up. But it was really a teddy bear guinea pig.

I guess it was a safe guess because the next animal was an African Grey Parrot LOL.

There were several other animals like the legless lizard and a ball python. I held the python, but the photographic evidence is in my hubby's iphone. Yuck they also had a ferret. I'm not a fan of ferrets.

Afterwards we drove Wesley to his dad's. Then Zakari and I went to wait in a parking lot near there. I had purchased an adorable Canada Day diaper from a WAHM who lives outside of town. Problem is I honestly didn't like where she put the pocket to stuff. I know she was still in the trial period, so she offered to trade my diaper for a new one with a proper opening. So she happened to be coming in town for a Goldeye's baseball game, so I meet up with her and switch diapers.

Zakari is so funny when it comes to cameras. When he realizes he's being photographed he totally hams up.