Just a quick post to share about some education related things we spotted at Costco recently.
I am NOT affiliated or associated with Costco and this is not a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I am simply sharing because I love Costco finds and think some others might be interested as well. :-)
They have more and rotate what they carry often. Summer tends to be a high educational item time, but they also have some fun education-related finds around the holidays. Of course, you can also check the office supply area for things like globes (occasionally), white boards, binders, and more. I did get their electric pencil sharpener (twice) in the past but have found that it breaks quickly. I would not recommend that. Oh, and if you use All About Spelling, the white board at Costco works well for the letter tile setup.
My daughter has recently been learning about engineers, problem-solving, design, and exploring possibilities in the Thinking Like an Engineer online course from Innovators Tribe, so today I'd like to share a review of the program, what it's about, and our experience.
About Innovators Tribe & Thinking Like an Engineer
Innovators Tribe offers online, self-paced educational courses that, as the name implies, have the goal of teaching about innovation and design. Intended for grades 6-12. The courses spark creativity, inspire interest in applied science, and promote critical thinking skills.
Currently, they offer two courses: Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking like an Architect. It looks like they'll be adding a third course, Thinking Like a Carpenter soon as well!
Thinking Like an Engineer provides an opportunity to learn more about engineering and how it impacts our world in a variety of ways, then offers the chance to tackle a variety of design challenges via both technology (3D design software - included in the course) and hands-on projects using simple materials, such as paper, card stock, and masking tape. , It is mostly student-led with minimal, if any, parental involvement required.
There are several sections to this course
Big Sis is currently in 5th grade and while the Thinking Like an Engineer course is designed mostly for children just a bit older, she was able to understand and participate fully. We jumped into using the program right away, with me sitting alongside her through the first several lessons, in case she needed assistance and so that I could really see what the course was all about. I began to step back and allow her to do it more independently after I noticed that she was doing great without any guidance on my part, even with the 3D design software! She is now a little over a third of the way through the program and even more excited about it than when she began.
The course is online. Once logged in, my daughter was presented with a self-paced series of slides, clips, videos, and links. Some slides involved reading, but most were narrated. It started out with lessons on what engineering is, the types of engineers, and how engineers are problem solvers and, of course, innovators.
Then she moved on to using the 3D design software and her creativity increased tenfold as she felt a whole new world of possibilities open up. I must say, it would've been hard to keep her on track with moving forward in the lessons once she learned to use the software because she had so many ideas and such fun creating. So create she did. I let her slow the pace at that point and enjoy the process. After learning the ropes and how to use the software through a number of video tutorials, she made a car rim and a lot of other fun, yet simple, designs of her own choosing (some of which where more art than functional, like her Christmas tree, inspired by the actions learned during one tutorial... and she loved it)! Challenges in this section of the course involved designing a piece of furniture with certain parameters and creating an improvement of something around the house.
She hasn't yet completed the challenges of roller coasters and bridges, but she is so excited to do so! There was also a design challenge for a water filter, but we did not participate in that one because we didn't have the materials on hand. I don't think the course specified these materials as necessary in the beginning; they just mention things like paper, cardstock, and masking tape. But perhaps I overlooked it.
Big Sis wanted me to share with you that she really loves Thinking Like an Engineer and that her favorite part is the 3D designing. She expressed that, for the most part, the videos and slides were interesting and easy to follow along, except for just one of the software tutorials that took several viewings before she could figure it out. She said the software program freezes up now and then, but that cold be a compatibility problem with the computer we have it installed on. She also mentioned that her favorite challenge was to see how high of a stack of books she could make on her paper "foundation".
I was hoping this program would open new windows of ideas and possibilities for my daughter - and it did! I wanted to expose her to more STEM concepts, to get her thinking "outside the box", to challenge her, to build her technological knowledge and skills, and for her to have fun with creativity. These goals were all met to some degree or another, but my favorite benefit of the course was one I hadn't expected: my daughter's noticeably increased self confidence each time she tackled and conquered the design challenge!
For anyone looking for a STEM or applied science course that their child can do from home and at their own pace, Thinking Like an Engineer is a unique option worth considering.
If you'd like to read more reviews from other homeschool families that have used this or the Thinking Like an Architect course, including those with children of different ages than my own, be sure to click on the Homeschool Review Crew banner-link below! You can also visit the Innovators Tribe website for more information!
"The Kailua Homeschool Center is a resource for homeschooling families on the windward side of Oahu. Individual instructors and companies teach various classes to homeschooling students at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Kailua. The Kailua Homeschool Center (via the Facebook page) connects families to these instructors.
The drop-off classes currently being offered for January 2018 semester are for children ages 6-14 years old (1st through 8th grade).
Current classes include:
Weather Science (Meteorology),
Clay Art (Hand-Building/Pottery),
For more information, visit their Facebook page at:
Note: I (Oahu Homeschool Mom) am not affiliated or associated with the Kailua Resource Center or the companies and classes involved. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I'm simply passing along this information in case some of my readers might be interested. Please direct any questions to the organizer or businesses.
Just dropping in for a quick post about our experience at the UH SOEST Open House this weekend. Spoiler alert: it was great! I would absolutely recommend attending in the future! (I am NOT affiliated or associated with UH, SOEST, or this event. I'm simply sharing about our personal experience at the event in case someone is curious about it.)
In case some of you missed my earlier post about the event, the basic gist of it is that the University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) offers an opportunity (once every two years) to experience "a diverse array of entertaining and educational hands-on activities and demonstrations", highlighting the research the school conducts.
We live in Central Oahu but the drive and finding and paying for parking was worth it. Both my girls loved the experience and Big Sis, in particular, said she was so happy we went and thanked me several times for bringing them. Even Baby Sis got to participate in a couple of activities.
They had a lot of exhibits and we didn't make it to the Open House until midway through, so we didn't get to experience all that it had to offer. Nonetheless, I was impressed, especially since it is a free event (aside from parking costs). Every volunteer, student, and staff that we encountered was friendly, inviting, informative, interactive, and great with the kids. While some of the exhibits were simple, many were interesting, engaging, novel, and/or fun... often showing equipment or tools that the researchers use, most of which we would not otherwise have the chance to see, touch, or use. One department had an outdoor "explosive volcano" demo that drew an audience every 15-20 minutes and could be heard throughout the area as it tossed colorful plastic balls high into the air. It was a highlight of the visit, according to the kids.
There was a lot of depth of information available, a plethora of learning opportunities, multiple hands-on experiences that enhanced my girls understanding of topics we've covered or opened their eyes to new things we haven't yet encountered. The researchers and university students inspired my kids to want to know more about certain branches of sciences and kindled their love of learning - which is always a wonderful thing!|
When the next SOEST Open House opportunity comes up (probably in 2019), be sure to check it out!
I've known the value of Reading Eggs as a technology-based reading program since Lil' Sis first used it a few years ago, so of course I am pleased to write this review about it. While I will share about Reading Eggs with you, the majority of our recent time has been spent on the next level, called Reading Eggspress, so my review will focus on that. Nonetheless, if you have a young child that is still building foundational reading skills, I encourage you to follow the banner-link at the bottom of this post to read reviews from other homeschool parents who have tried the program as well, many of whom have younger children than I and have been more focused on Reading Eggs itself.
You can also take advantage of a generous offer from the company and get a free 4 week trial to try the program for yourself! (This offer expires on November 30, 2017.)
About Reading Eggs
Reading Eggs is a comprehensive, secular, research-based reading program for kids between the ages of two through thirteen. It is well-established and has an aim of making reading lessons and practice fun. It can be accessed online, via a computer, or on most iPad or Android devices (check for compatibility specifics and requirements). The title "Reading Eggs" seems to be used both as a reference to the company and in naming a specific level designed for ages 3-7. However, they also offer Reading Eggs Junior for ages 2-4 and Reading Eggspress for ages 7-13. They even offer a math program, called MathSeeds, for ages 3-9!
Within these levels are a plethora of lessons, games, activities, animations, and e-books to read. Five aspects are emphasized during this reading program that the company believes are necessary for success: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and fluency.
There is a placement test available or a child can start from the beginning. Once they begin, the child starts on a "map" with something skin to stepping stones going across the screen and their avatar character standing on the map. They are guided through the program one lesson and one step at a time, adding new skills to their repertoire, reviewing, and building on what they learn. I'm not sure about the Junior level, but in the levels Lil' Sis used, the student can earn awards and rewards (golden eggs) which can be redeemed for games and special items. At the Reading Eggspress level, they also collect trophies and digital "trading cards" with various themes.
A few weeks ago, we received a six-month subscription to all of the Reading Eggs levels, including Reading Eggspress and MathSeeds. Lil' Sis (now seven years old and in second grade) was so excited to get started (again) that she practically begged me to let her begin! We had previously utilized this program for her and she had been missing it since we took a break for a bit.
When I first saw Reading Eggs (years ago), I thought it was a pretty basic (yet good), simple, and straightforward app (which is how we first used it), but the more we've used it, the more depth and breadth I have come to notice. I wish I had spent some time to acquaint myself with the program's features from the beginning. I realize now that even though we've almost always appreciated Reading Eggs, my daughter could have benefited even more. A few weeks ago, when we started using Reading Eggspress, I did take the time to explore features more fully. I thought things were good before. Now, I'm even more impressed! So speaking from my experience, I would recommend that anyone getting a new trial or subscription go to the bonus materials and look over the Parent User Guide and take full advantage of what Reading Eggs has to offer!
I particularly liked the homeschool guides (or "homeschool program of work") because it provides an "at a glance" way to see everything that is covered by the program and breaks it down into weeks. I also like how they have a printable worksheet/activity sheet option because some kids really do better with paper and pencil. Lil' Sis loves the online format, but it's nice to mix things up and use a worksheet now and then too.
Lil' Sis enjoys learning and she's always excited to use the computer or iPad apps as a part of her education. She was progressing at a steady pace with phonics and reading skills throughout kindergarten and then first grade , but it was not flowing or easy at first. Then we found that the most effective tool to boost her ability, increase her confidence, and improve her fluency was Reading Eggs! No kidding, this kid learned more about reading, more quickly, than any other method we've tried.
Since we'd used Reading Eggs before but hadn't done so in awhile, I had Lil' Sis take the placement test. Though she answered every question correctly, it still placed her at the beginning of the last "map" (or step/stage) of the Reading Eggs program that is designed for kids ages 3-7, so she began there. Perhaps it is meant to give her a bit of review, but she found it very easy now. The only small issue we encountered here was that the program referred to e-books that it assumed she'd already read and she was expected to do activities that somewhat relied on knowledge of those books (asking about characters or plots in the story). Since she didn't do the earlier steps on the map anytime recently, she hadn't read those books. It was a minor annoyance for her, but she used educated guesses and was not penalized if she got those answers wrong.
Once my daughter started Reading Eggspress, she was thrilled. She adores the system of lessons and earning eggs and digital trading cards. She looks forward to using her earnings at the in-program mall wherein she can "purchase" digital items and decor for her in-program apartment. All of these aspects provide motivation and excitement that keep her going back for more. She's happy to read books and complete lessons in order to advance, see her progress, and get more rewards!
She literally asks to work on reading every day, multiple times a day, and will stay on the program for twice as long as expected just because she's having fun. At first, I was uncertain if the rewards and games would be too much of a distraction, but it seems that it is well balanced for my daughter and I notice she is doing a lot of reading in the process. She seems challenged and is enjoying the process.
She also dabbles in MathSeeds a bit, but her level is above that which is covered by the program. Still, it's a good review and since it has a similar format as Reading Eggs, she doesn't complain.
With everything that Reading Eggs offers, I would definitely recommend it to others who are looking for a complete online reading program or a very strong supplement.
Of course, nothing is one-size fits all when it comes to education and what works for one child may not work for another (as I often see even among my two school-age kids). But it's worth considering and, especially with a free trial, it's worth giving it a try to see how it goes.
Don't forget that there are lots more reviews from other Homeschool Review Crew families, many of whom had children in the younger/earlier levels of Reading Eggs. Just click on the banner-link below and peruse them to get all the juicy details of others' opinions. And as mentioned at the top of this post, you can also take advantage of a generous offer from the company and get a free 4 week trial to try the program for yourself! (This offer expires on November 30, 2017.)
If you'd like to learn more about Reading Eggs, you can visit their website or find them on social media at Facebook, Instagram (handle): readingeggs, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube!
Attending the Nutcracker ballet performance has become something of a tradition in our home during the holiday season. My daughter and I enjoy the time together and I am pleased to be exposing her to the art of ballet and a classic story. (Art/music appreciation homeschool field trip! ;-) )
Here are the Nutcracker performances of which I am aware (in no particular order). Please feel free to contact me with details of any others that are found here on Oahu and I will gladly add them.
Hawaii State Ballet - Performances available Dec 15-17, 2017, at Mamiya Theatre, St. Louis School, Honolulu. Tickets cost $16-36.
Ballet Hawaii - Professional ballet performance at the Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, Dcember 15-17th, 2017. Tickets cost about $39-120 each, depending on your source. This one has a special Nutcracker with a Hawaiian themed twist.
Hawaii Ballet Theater - Performances available Dec 1-3rd, 2017, at Kaimuki High School. This is the same performance that was previously offered at Leeward Community College, but the college's theater space is under construction, so the performances have been moved to the high school instead. Tickets cost $25-28 each, with a special group discount of $20 each.
Note: I am not affiliated or associated with any of the above organizations or companies. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I am simply sharing in case others are interested. Enjoy!
"University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) is hosting their 2017 SOEST Open House on Friday, October 20, 8:30am– 2pm, and Saturday, October 21, 10am – 2pm! I have heard only good things about this event from homeschool families that have previously attended. It's FREE to attend and open to the public! This event is only offered every two years!
This event offers an opportunity to experience "a diverse array of entertaining and educational hands-on activities and demonstrations", highlighting the research the school conducts. Information is apparently presented via videos, posters, and interactive demonstrations. "Visit state-of-the-art laboratories and hear about cutting-edge research from the scientists who are making the new discoveries!"
Some of the topics include:
"SOEST is home to the academic departments of Oceanography, Geology and Geophysics, Meteorology, and Ocean and Resources Engineering, as well as eight research institutes, centers, laboratories, and programs."
Visit their website for details (including a parking map) or to view their exhibit program, which will allow you to view specific titles and summaries of exhibits you can expect to find at the event.
If you plan to attend with a homeschool group, please note that they ask that you make a reservation for groups of 10 or more.
For more information, please call 808-956-3151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I am NOT affiliated or associated with UH, this school, or this event. I'm simply sharing for informational purposes in hopes that some of my readers will benefit. Please direct any questions to the event organizer, as shown above. Enjoy!
It's been a little over a year since we started using CTCMath and this is my second time writing a review about it. I was pleased to have my daughters start using it last summer because we were expecting baby #3 anytime and it was a blessing and relief to have some of their learning be more independent while we settled into our new status as a family of five and got acquainted with Baby Sis. Now, CTCMath's Family Membership continues to help us stay on track with math lessons while I attend to baby-turned-toddler as she climbs, tosses, tears, throws, plays, runs, bangs, wiggles, snuggles, hugs, kisses, babbles, and squeals throughout the house, and my attention is usually being split, balanced, or rotated among the three girls.
If you're interested in trying out CTCMath, until November 15th, 2017, you can get a free trial and they are also offering 60% off + 6 bonus months!
CTCMath is an extensive, secular, online math curriculum for grades K-12. Their website mentions that it is a full curriculum up to grade 8 and it is recommended as a supplemental program after that. I previously read on their website that it is not aligned with the Common Core standards (though that question and answer seems to have been removed from their FAQ page, so I'm not sure of it's current status, but I haven't noticed anything significant change). This is not a software disk, but rather a membership with online access, so students need internet access to participate. The program is computer based and is accessible via an iPad or Android tablet as well!
At the elementary levels we've used thus far, the program consists primarily of short, step-by-step, video-based tutorial lessons, thousands of practice questions (for which the parent can set the passing grade that is required), and diagnostic tests with automated grading, as well as progress reports, activity logs, and feedback available to both student and parent. There are also downloadable, printable lesson summaries (much like pre-made notes) for each lesson video. Diagnostic tests have three options for length, from 20-40 questions, depending on how comprehensive the user wants to be in evaluating the student's knowledge of a topic. They also offer speed drills and a game for practicing multiplication tables.
Parents also have accounts and are able to set up a specific assigned "tasks", such as lessons and/or tests, including a time frame and due date for completion, to guide a student in their learning path. They can also choose to receive weekly reports via email to keep track of how things are going. Just as the student has access to material from any grade, so too can the parent assign material from earlier grades as review or later grades if the student is ready to move on or for an extra challenge. There are various ways to see a student's progress, including a history timeline of usage, number of topics completed, dates lessons are passed/completed, and both detailed and summary reports.
Since we have a one-year subscription to the CTCMath's Family Membership, both Big Sis (fifth grade) and Lil' Sis (second grade) have been using it as their primary math program. Last year, I felt a little uncertain, at first, as to how to get things started because it isn't as restricted as other programs we've used in the past and doesn't direct the student from one task to the next in sequence. There is flexibility and are lots of options on where to start, which lesson (or even grade!) to work on, etc. This year, though, we are all set and know what we're doing.
Basically, there are two ways we use CTCMath in our house. First, I can (and do) assign "tasks" to each child. These are the topics that I decide I want them to complete within a give day or time frame - it can be one topic or several. Sometimes I'll put in topics for which I know they need extra practice or a refresher. Other times, I'll include tasks that ensure that they are staying on track to cover all the material for the grade over the course of the year. I find this necessary to be sure that they do work that is necessary for their level, since the program doesn't clearly walk them through step-by-step from one lesson to the next. Second, Big and Lil' Sis are also allowed some autonomy to choose which subjects they are interested in and want to pursue studying. I love this method because, as we well know, kids [and everyone else] learn best when they are interested in something. But since our state has required standardized testing at certain grades (currently 3, 5, 8, and 10), I feel it's best to do a mix of both teacher-directed and child-led learning.
There aren't clear placement tests, per se. We do use the diagnostic tests as a tool to determine their skill in each individual topic area, but the tests are not designed to test across several topics all at once and they do not direct the learner on what to do next. I have not seen any total grade level tests in the program that would tell a user if they "pass" a certain grade and are ready to move on to the next, nor what grade or topic at which to begin.
It is the ability to decide what to learn that has had a big impact on both girls' love of math and their excitement to use CTCMath and learn more, increasing their independence and self-direction. As I mentioned in a previous review, this is empowering! They are given ownership of their education and don't feel like they are just along for the ride. They aren't staring out the window waiting for it to be over. Instead, they are seeking out knowledge and retaining more of it as a result.
Both girls have made notable, trackable progress. Just today, Lil' Sis came bounding over to me with pride at her accomplishment in improving her ability to read clocks and calculate time (a weak are for her previously, but she got 100% of the answers correct this time). Big Sis often mentions that she enjoys the feeling of understanding math better now.
Another feature that I want to mention is one that might get easily overlooked. There are three small, simple links near the bottom of the lesson and task pages: Speed Skills, Times Tables, and Swap Pieces. These might be useful tools for some users that let the student practice math facts and play a game. I do think that these links could be made more prominent and easier to locate, but maybe they don't want it to serve as a distraction from the main lessons.
I would definitely recommend CTCMath to others who are looking into online math curriculum options, whether it be for students struggling with math, those right on track, or those who are advanced or want to get ahead and not be held back by a rigid process. Indeed, I have suggested this program to a number of my friends and other families in local homeschool groups over the last year because I definitely see the value in it.
If you'd like to know more about this program, you can check out other reviews by clicking on the banner link below and/or visit CTCMath at their website and/or on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Pinterest, and Youtube! As mentioned above, at the time of this post and until November 15th, 2017, you can get a free trial of CTCMath and 60% off + 6 bonus months!
The Honolulu Zoo offers a fall camp session for kids ages 4-10, October 9-13th, from 8am-2:30pm! All camps are $300 for members and $350 for non-members, with aftercare (until 5:30pm) and lunches available at an additional cost.
According to their website, "Zoo camp will immerse your keiki in the vast and unique world of animals. Campers will gain a wealth of knowledge about different animals and the environments in which they live. A different theme is highlighted each week and campers learn through hands-on lessons complete with biofacts, interactive activities, crafts and games. Our camps are broken up into three age groups and curriculum is designed to meet Hawaii’s K-12 education standards."
Visit their website for more information!
Note: Registration for their winter camp opens on October 20th!
Note: I am not affiliated or associated with this business, organization, or event. This is NOT a paid advertisement or sponsored post. I am simply sharing for informational purposes, in case some of my readers/followers are interested. Please contact the organizer or company directly for more details or with questions.
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.