Lil' Sis finished RightStart™ Mathematics Level A (Second Edition)! Actually, she's been done with it for several weeks, but we've been busy getting to know our sweet new baby girl (Baby Sis)! We haven't posted any pictures lately, so I thought I'd share some with you now. This is a program that we have really enjoyed and appreciated, so I hope to write a more complete review of the program since we've finished a full level. I look forward to sharing that with you in the coming weeks, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!
Yup. I really did just post a Christmas picture. Yes, already. I mean, now that Halloween is [almost] past, it's time to talk about Christmas [trees], right? Oh... not yet?
Well, you might want to at least mark your calendar that the Helemano Tree Farm's opening weekend will be Nov. 26th this year!
Located in Wahiawa by Whitmore Village, this little farm usually offers both traditional and Hawaiian Christmas trees at decent prices. It is fun to walk through and pick one (or two, like my daughters did when we went a few years ago). Definitely better - and more fresh - than one from your local parking lot... plus you get to support local!
I will provide more detailed info here on my blog when I receive it.
They do offer much bigger trees than those pictured above, but my girls thought it would be neat to each have their own tree, so we got two little ones. They made ornaments and decorated it themselves. Fun!
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NOTE: I am NOT affiliated or associated with Helemano Tree Farm and this is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I am simply passing on info that some of my readers might find useful.
I've been informed that Schofield Barracks (USAG - Hawaii Youth Sports & Fitness) is changing it's "Homeschool PE" day from Thursdays back to Tuesdays. Take note and change your calendar accordingly.
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NOTE: I am not affiliated or associated with this activity provider. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I'm simply passing on info that might be helpful to others. Please contact the organization directly with any questions or for more info. Thanks!
Here's a fun extra-curricular activity. They have registration for JUNIOR paddlers (ages 10-18) open this week, Oct. 24-27. Practices begin Nov. 1st.
NA OPIO SIGN-UPS NEXT WEEK...
Monday - Thursday @ EWA BEACH SHOPPING CENTER PARKING LOT 4:30p - 7p! Next to the LEONARD'S MALASADA TRUCK!
On FB @: https://www.facebook.com/EPOCC/
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NOTE: I am not affiliated or associated with this activity provider. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I'm just passing on info that might be helpful to others. Please contact the organization directly with any questions or for more info. Thanks!
Thank you, my dear readers, for your input, contributions, support, and expressions of appreciation! I love you all! Over the last year, I've received a lot of positive feedback about the Oahu Homeschool Mom website, blog, and Facebook page. Knowing that what I've put together on here is helpful to someone is truly my primary motivation!
When I started homeschooling here years ago, it felt like it took a long time and a lot of digging to figure things out; to discover all the resources, support, and options available to me. It seemed that it was all scattered... it was almost like going on a scavenger hunt! And that process is still continuing as often I am still learning and seeking and finding. When we did (do) have a great homeschool group forum, different people would (do) understandably ask the same things repeatedly over time because they needed help finding answers to those common questions. Searching old forum or Facebook group threads was (is) often time consuming, inefficient, and overwhelming (or underwhelming if the search was fruitless). It was somewhat akin to an archeological dig, sifting through fluff and dust to find a small jewel of info, only to find it was old and outdated! Groups might put together some info in files, but it was then limited to that group's members and those who chose to be on Facebook, or had some other restriction. But if a person was lucky enough to be a part of many groups or circles of homeschool acquaintances, they could piece together the local homeschool resource puzzle. But I wanted to put those puzzle pieces in one place or at least give clearer directions to the scavenger hunter on where to look!
This website started as, and continues to be, a way to consolidate and share information that might be of interest to the local homeschool community - hopefully making it easier for those seeking resources to find what they are looking for and maybe spark new ideas or introduce homeschoolers to things they didn't even know were out there.
I'd love to see it continue to be a valued asset!
Many of you are probably aware that my family is not a permanent resident of Hawaii. We don't have immediate plans to leave the island, but we know that it is inevitable at some point in the not-too-distant future. Since this website project requires me to be here, directly connected to ever-changing homeschool community on this wonderful island, I can see a need for partners and other contributors to join me - and eventually someone could possibly take over when my family moves.
I'd be thrilled to bring on another homeschool parent (or two or three) to help maintain and improve the OHM website and/or Facebook page. Making it Oahu Homeschool "Moms", perhaps? I'd always envisioned it to be something of a collaborative project that homeschool parents contribute to as a way to give back to the homeschool community, while also benefiting from it as well. It's pretty easy to maintain as it is and doesn't usually take a lot of time (unless you make a entirely new page or summer programs list or a Black Friday list... those are time consuming... but also not at all required). Guest bloggers are also welcome! No need to blog to help with the site, though.
So please get in touch if you might be interested in joining me here at OHM! Be advised that it is entirely a volunteer type role at this time since there is currently NO income (no paid ads, no affiliate links, and no sales) associated with the Oahu Homeschool Mom website/blog. That could change in the future (or it might stay the same), but this is how it stands now because it has been just a labor of love so far. :-)
There is a new homeschool PE option available at Z3 Sports Academy, located in Kapolei! Their website states that the program will include a "comprehensive curriculum", exposing students to "soccer, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, baseball, football, relay races, classic games, general fitness/conditioning and more throughout the program".
The 55-minute long classes, which are for kindergarten and up, are currently (as of this post) being offered Wednesdays at 10 & 11am and Thursdays at 10:20 & 11:20am, at a "homeschool discount rate" of $40-45/month for once a week or $70-75/month for twice a week. Soccer classes for younger siblings might also be available on Thursday mornings. They do accept MBTA payments.
Contact Z3 for more details (http://www.z3sportsacademy.com/).
There are also PE programs available to military families on a few of the bases, including Fort Shafter, Schofield, and Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
And there is at least one PE session organized and run by parents in local homeschool support groups, such as Oahu Homeschool Co-op. Usually, these kinds of PE events encourage or require parent participation or involvement and are free of charge or possibly low cost to contribute to materials. The military ones are for school age children. Some homeschool group PE sessions include preschoolers too.
(Note: I am not affiliated or associated with any of the PE programs. Oahu Homeschool Co-Op is a separate entity and is not affiliated with Oahu Homeschool Mom. This is not a sponsored post or advertisement. I am simply passing on the info in case someone is interested. Please direct questions to the business, organization, or event organizer. Thanks & enjoy!)
This opportunity to use and review a MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership came at the perfect time! Preparing dinner each night has never been one of my favorite things to do. By the time evening rolls around [more like crashes into me unexpectedly!], I don't want to think about it - much less make it. Mix in homeschooling and then add a newborn to the home scene and meal-making each evening just got harder to handle, especially if my husband isn't home to help with one aspect or another. Enter MyFreezEasy to save my sanity! (Okay, truth be told: my sanity may have already been lost and beyond saving at this point... but at least these advanced prep freezer meals helped things go more smoothly - especially on our busiest nights!)
MyFreezEasy comes from the maker of $5 Dinners, Erin Chase. It is a subscription-based service that delivers plans for 10 easy freezer meals each month (in the form of double batches of five meals). These dishes are designed to be relatively quick to put together and fairly easy on the budget too. For the particularly ambitious food preppers out there, Erin also offers a "20 Meals Plan" as well.
How does it work? Basically, you choose from several available plans for that month, customize your choice (if desired) by choosing a different number of servings or swapping out any recipes that you know you wouldn't want for ones you like better, print the ready-made shopping list, directions, and labels for your plan, shop for any necessary ingredients, prepare or assemble the meals, store them in the freezer, thaw when needed, cook them, and then serve and eat! It's also possible to use the plans to "eat one, freeze one", where you freeze a duplicate of each meal that you make for dinner, rather than making all ten freezer meals at once.
The MyFreezEasy service offer both a basic and a premium membership option. Basic membership offers 5 new plans each month and premium membership provides 8 to choose from. In my premium membership, I could pick any of the following themed plans:
As you can see, there are a few plans that center around a specific meat. They are provided to cater to grocery store meat sales. Or for those of us who who shop at Costco (which could be most of the people on this island, I think).
There are also helpful videos for the traditional meal plan each month, where you can watch and learn how to do things, getting nice little tips and tricks along the way. Highlight videos are posted for the other plans too. Plus, other videos are available to help a newbie get started with the service!
It is worth noting that the meal plans are only available during the month they are released. Past plans are not accessible. However, there are also a bunch of recipes available separate from the meal plans provided for the month. So if a member has certain needs or preferences, they can choose to easily swap out recipes in any of the meal plans for something different from the available recipes on the website, or a user can use those recipes and create a custom meal plan of their own.
When building a custom meal plan, categories for available recipes to choose from include:
We received access to the premium version of the Freezer Meal Plan Membership. I jumped online as soon as I could and took a look around at the various videos and information on how to get started. Thankfully, things seemed pretty straight-forward and easy to figure out.
Since I have Celiac Disease and can't eat gluten, plus members of my family have some other minor allergies to contend with, the flexibility and options available to me through this service were much appreciated. I had access to all eight meal plan variations for the month and looked them all over to see which would suit us best. It is a nice, thoughtful addition that every recipe includes a notation of how to make it dairy-free and/or gluten-free when feasible (which is likely helpful for those new to such restrictions), but it wasn't hard for me to quickly figure out on my own, since most adaptions were simply omitting the cheese or using a gluten free version of pasta or another gluten-y ingredient. Sometimes the instructions would say there wasn't a great dairy-free option for the meal, but I think some of those would actually still be possible if using a suitable dairy-free cheese substitute (though it might not taste quite the same, perhaps).
After looking things over, I decided to customize our meal plan for the month to accommodate our preferences, current pantry stock, and allergies. For our first plan we chose include the "Slow Cooker Italian Chicken & Vegetables", "Spanish Rice Skillet", "Swirly Taco Pasta Skillet", "Chicken Pineapple Curry", and "Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin". I also changed the serving size on two of the meals from 4 to 6, which automatically updated the ingredient amounts for each respective recipe accordingly.
I'd like to have access to the assembly or pre-freezing directions on the website, but as far as I could tell, these instructions only showed up when everything was downloaded or printed. But having them ahead of time would let me to preview more of what I'd need to do, saving computer memory and time if I decided against making the recipe. Granted, downloading or printing everything let's me keep it all for future use, especially since the meal plans change each month and past plans aren't stored on the website. However, I'd still like the small convenience if seeing all directions and waiting to download it until I know if it's a "keeper".
The next Saturday, my husband and I tag teamed both ingredient prep and baby duties! We chopped veggies, cut and browned meat, made a sauce, and got everything ready. Then I was able to assemble the meals into freezer bags fairly quickly. The whole process was supposed to take an hour, but I think it took us more like two hours. I blame this partly on it being our first time through and we noticed a few ways we could be more efficient next time. We're also a bit slow when chopping produce and could be quicker with those knife skills. Additionally, we found a couple of minor errors on the ingredient and recipe lists that had us double-checking things to be sure it was correct before proceeding. In the end, we had TEN meals (two of each of the recipes we chose) - nine in the freezer and another that we planned to make that night for dinner... and I have to say it felt great to have all those dinners on hand!
We have since tried each of the other meals and liked them well enough. The pork tenderloin was our favorite, followed by the chicken pineapple curry, then the taco pasta skillet, then the slow cooker Italian chicken and vegetables (in which the potatoes mostly fell apart and the carrots had an odd texture), and then the Spanish rice skillet. We would make three out of five of these again.
Overall, we liked this freezer cooking meal plan and my husband suggested we use it regularly. It's been quite nice to have meals in the freezer and not have to think about dinners on busy nights! Some aspects of the plans still had some kinks or minor errors, but these can be worked around and I imagine they will likely be fixed as the service continues to develop. And for people who need a little help figuring out what to make each week and/or those that would enjoy having things prepared in advance, this could be a good choice to look into for freezer meal prep and cooking plans.
Just was with any meal plan, cookbook, or recipe website, there were dishes we enjoyed, some we thought were just acceptable, and those that we disliked. A unique aspect of this service is that you can customize, swap out recipes, and build your own meal plan, which is just wonderful. This kind of thing could easily be rigid and limited, but the creator of MyFreezEasy obviously is aware of the many differences in dietary needs and preferences from one family to the next and offers plenty to be suitable for a wide range of users.
Find out what others thought about the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership, and the recipes and plans they used, by clicking on the banner below!
To learn more about MyFreezEasy, you can check out their website or find them on social media: on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram!
Have you heard about "Sundays at the Bay"? It's an offering from the Hanauma Bay Education Program that offers various talks and sessions to "to educate the public about Hawai'i's marine environment, thereby enhancing appreciation and promoting understanding and stewardship of Hanauma Bay".
"Every Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. the Hanauma Bay Education Program hosts an educational film or brings Hawai'i's leading researchers, environmental leaders, natural resource managers and cultural practitioners to the nature preserve to speak about their work. The topics of these presentations relate to monthly themes such asExploring Hawai'i's Marine Life, Coastal Hazards and Community Resilience and Protected Species Awareness. For more information visit their calendar of events."
On OCTOBER 23rd, they have a special FREE film showing of BBC Earth's Ocean Giants (runtime is 50 minutes)! (Admission fee for non-Hawaii residents will still apply for those who also desire beach access.)
They can also arrange other educational sessions for local groups on a wide range of marine related topics. Contact them for details.
Public parking is $1/vehicle. Regular hours are (as of this post) 6am-6pm Oct-March and 6am-7pm April-Sept. Admittance to the Sunday afternoon presentations begin at 2:45pm. If you want to go to the beach as well, you will have to go through the regular admission entrance. If you go to Hanauma Bay another day, please remember they are closed on Tuesdays, Christmas, and New Years Day, and could also be closed on any day that has severe weather. You can call (808) 396-4229 for a recorded message for current fees, hours & conditions.
Over the last few years, and despite using a few different approaches and handwriting books, penmanship was not a strong area for my children. My oldest (Big Sis, age 9), has not previously enjoyed writing (until recently), in part because she is self-conscious about how it looks. Both girls have also asked to learn cursive, but still struggle to make the letters look fluid or to write smoothly. Not knowing how to help, we just trudged on with regular practice, hoping it would get better with time. I didn't even realize there was another option until I was introduced to Everyday Education, LLC's Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting, by Caroline Joy Adams. Since having "pretty" handwriting is something both girls want to achieve, this book seemed right up their alley and were pleased to give it a try!
About Everyday Education, LLC
Everyday Education, LLC is a small, family-owned and operated business started by Janice Campbell. It's a source of books and articles for homeschoolers of all ages, with topics focusing on literature, reading, writing, transcripts, college, and more, including publications like this new edition of Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting which I am sharing about here.
About Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting
Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is a 218 page book that is designed for just what the title says: effectively teaching a child to read and write - and do it well! As their website explains, this book - available in both print and ebook versions (or as a bundle of both) - contains sixty phonics-based lessons as well as the italic style of handwriting. The book can be used with/by a child (starting at age four or five), teen, or even an adult, and can be used for just one subject or both.
The foreword, written by Janice Campbell, provides some background on the book, tips on both reading and writing, and offers some suggested teaching schedules. In case you're wondering what type of time commitment this program requires, she points out that short 10-15 minute lessons are ideal, with a session each day (five days a week).
The introduction by the author gives some convincing reasons to use an italic style - which the author asserts is easier to learn, more legible, and more attractive than today's cursive. In Chapter One, she answers common questions, gives advice and recommended books for further reading on the topics of teaching reading, and briefly explains what the italic style is and how it developed. She mentions it's possible to complete all sixty lessons in sixty days, but that one should go at the pace that is best for each child (which will vary).
The approach in the rest of the book is simple and straightforward, easy to follow, and does not take long to learn. Reading instruction is done systematically, beginning with the introduction of the letter sounds and moving on to blends and increasingly more advanced words. Uniquely, the book incorporates copying of letters and sentences right from the start. There are a few Bible verses in the practice pages, as well as lots of other quotes, sayings, words, and sentences of all kinds. It is not a book of Bible verses, but there are some in there.
Interestingly, even during the phonics and reading portions, beginning with Chapter Two, the book is written in the italic style, preparing the student with plenty of examples and models for proper penmanship. As the book transitions to focused instruction of italic writing, it progresses from straight, to slanted, and then to joined letters. Finally, one can choose to continue on to learning to use an edged or calligraphy pen for truly fancy, artistic, beautiful handwriting.
Both Big Sis and Lil' Sis are reading solidly already and did not need a phonics focus at this stage, so we used Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting primarily with the goal of improving handwriting. The author offers four ways to use the book and this is one of them, but she points out that it can also be used to teach reading, work with a child who has reading difficulties, and/or be used by the adult for achieving better penmanship themselves.
We received the ebook version, so I looked it over and then printed up the relevant portions right away. Since I needed to make dinner, I asked Big Sis to put the practice sheets in a three-ring binder and off I went. However, I came back several minutes later to find that she hadn't put more than a couple of pages in the binder. Turns out that she was too excited and had pulled up the book and had been busily reading through the whole thing! The style appealed to and intrigued her. She asked if we could get started right away, saying that it looked like something she would enjoy, so I capitalized on her interest and we got to it first thing the next morning! (Lil' Sis was pleased to be doing the same thing as her older sister, as usual.)
Daily practice was key for my girls. To make it easier for the girls to write neatly, we removed the pages from the binder when they wrote on them. Despite my daughter's interest in this book and method, handwriting - and writing in general - have historically been an area of struggle and contention in this house. Therefore, I eased the girls into practice and kept lessons super short as advised. At first, we worked only briefly each day, doing whatever portions of a lesson that we could accomplish in ten minutes or less. After a couple of weeks, however, Lil' Sis was asking to do more sheets of practice. We expanded our handwriting time slightly on days the girls were motivated, but I still tried to cut things off before they began to tire or their attention wandered.
While Chapter Six is where the focus of the book shifts to handwriting, there were plenty of opportunities to practice letter formation and sentences throughout the book, so we took advantage of those pages for lots of practice. I'm glad we did, because it has easier, larger print and spaces for practice. Plus, Lil' Sis giggled at many of the silly model sentences, motivating her to continue, often leaving her wanting more.
We did run into small challenges with some letter formations that seemed odd. For example, the capital M and N didn't seem to flow easily and looked choppy when the girls attempted them... but I believe there is a reason for this when it comes to calligraphy later on. Lil' Sis also commented that the lowercase "m" looked like an "r" and "n" stuck together when she tried reading or copying it, but she got used to it.
Additionally, the way the author and book used the beginning lined practice pages was foreign to Big Sis because she'd spent so much time learning differently in the past. I think it could be confusing to other kids too. The author has the letters sitting on the part that appears to be the spaces between lines, with the tops of tall letters touching the dashed lines, rather than the lowercase letters all bumping up to that dashed line as we're accustomed to from prior handwriting courses. Later, the slanted lines were a bit much for her and it took some getting used to. Eventually though, the more advanced simply lined pages made things easier and clear. I think that starting my daughter on writing with this book & method would've been ideal, but we were able to work through the differences and overcome the quirks with some extra time and practice.
After learning with this book and gaining confidence that she can write well, Big Sis now enjoys writing more! Now, in order to keep things going smoothly, we are sticking with a slower progression through the book and getting lots of practice before moving on. Therefore, we have not yet worked with joining the letters, aside from introducing them, nor have we started using a calligraphy pen. I think only Big Sis will be ready for that later this school year, but I'll let her choose if and when she would like to try it. If we do, we'll consider adding an update here!
I found the informative parts of the book to be interesting. We all liked the appearance of the italic style - which looks to me like a casual blend of printing and cursive. We also loved the way the book was mostly written in that same italic and the author offered examples of slight differences in style (showing each as she wrote it), encouraging the student to choose their favorite. And I appreciated that lessons could easily be accomplished mostly independently by my girls, which is of particular importance right now because Baby Sis was born recently and needs a lot of attention too!
The program of instruction was structured and systematic, yet flexible. The author seems to be an advocate of Montessori and Charlotte Mason styles, so the book might particularly appeal to homeschoolers that ascribe to these methods, but I think it could easily be used by and adapted to a variety of learning approaches and student needs. Overall, we liked it!
At the time of this post, the ebook costs $27 and the printed and bound book is $29. A great deal for anyone and considering that it's relatively inexpensive (especially for what is offered), it is an appealing option for those with limited budgets too!
For more information about Everyday Education, LLC, you can visit their website or find them on social media: Pinterest, Janice Campbell on Facebook, Excellence in Literature on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter!
While my review was primarily on the handwriting portion of the book, you can click on the banner below to read more reviews... some of which might focus on other areas of the book, and you can find out what other families think about it. There are also reviews of a couple of other products from Everyday Education too!
I recently discovered that there is a youth lacrosse organization here on island! Aloha Youth Lacrosse Association- AYLA offers teams for Pee Wee ages through High School level. They have chapters located in East Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and Windward areas. If interested, visit their website for more details or you can also follow them on Facebook.
Note: I am not affiliated or associated with this organization. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I am simply passing on info that might be of interest to my readers. Please direct any questions to the AYLA organization themselves. Thanks!
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.