Monday, August 22, 2016

Changing Things Up, Already

Well our best laid plans for ninth grade curriculum are already being altered before we even purchased it all. I had been waiting on acquiring the literature curriculum since we decided to start with a Memoria Press poetry set we already own, but also because I wasn't entirely sold on our choice.

After much reflection, online review reading, sample viewing, and stalking TWTM boards, I decided that although the Excellence in Literature guides may be wonderful, they also aren't for Amber (or me). Sigh. I really wish I had come to this conclusion months ago. And maybe I had; I vaguely remember taking the EIL curriculum off the "to be purchased" list, yet it was back on the list by August.

This decision left me in a lurch, though, since I really had no backup contender, which also might have been why EIL ended up back on the final curriculum list. At first I wasn't too concerned about it because we were starting with poetry. However, Amber keeps telling everyone her favorite and most anticipated subject this year is literature. That means I really need to ensure the literature curriculum is a good fit!

I hurriedly viewed all the literature curriculum we've vaguely considered or tried in the past, just to remember why each comes up a little short for us. Next came a frantic internet search where I did find something that might fit what we want, but would need supplementation. Absolutely nothing fit the style of lessons we need along with even half of the reading list matching my list. I could find near perfect reading list matches in entirely the wrong learning style though. My conclusion was that our best bet would be a combination of several publishers while leaving out significant portions of each curriculum / guide set to attain the desired reading list.

Then, I had an epiphany while looking one last time at samples from the Excellence in Literature guides on the IEW website (I was so hoping I could really just make EIL work).  What I really wanted and have been looking to find is a way to be more confident in myself as Amber's instructor.  This would allow us to use our lesson style with our reading list.

After finally determining the real issue, I realized there is a solution for that!

Oddly enough, we already had part of tools needed in Tapestry of Grace, so I went ahead and made the small purchase to acquire their short works anthology of public domain poetry. However, we had not originally planned on using Tapestry of Grace for literature because their selection of literature was, again, not exactly what I wanted for Amber. Still, the English poetry sections are perfect (along with a few novels).

The missing piece to this quandary I found on the IEW website: Teaching the Classics. Not only will this provide me with a framework (and the confidence) to guide Amber's literature studies for the next four years, it also is a short five hour course that Amber can view with me to jump start her foray into literary analysis.

I'm now waiting on my delivery of Teaching the Classics while we work on poetry from our Memoria Press set and from Tapestry of Grace. Amber and I are finally both enthusiastic over high school literature. Crisis averted. Whew!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Week 3 - Changes Are Afoot

School was slow again this week due to Amber's continued recovery from cellulitis and the open wound left from cleaning it out. She initially had no issues with the clindamycin used to kill the bacteria, but it wore on her body after five to six days and the remainder of her time on it was pretty miserable. She just completed the medication Friday! Now we hope everything was killed off and her arm continues to heal at the incision site.

Three days of appointments at Children's this week along with extreme exhaustion and nausea did not create the best environment for learning. Amber also needed to skip flute lesson for another week. We hope next week is a bit more productive overall. 

Representative of our week - waiting in offices, and goofy cats.
We did have one full day at home where Amber was able to make significant progress in several subjects. She loved her first botany lesson, and it went without a hitch. I was fairly concerned how botany would fair, since I put the course together using several sources. Amber requested to take botany, but didn't give me many details on the content she had in mind. She found the topic interesting, although didn't know enough to set forth concepts. So, I'm thankful this course is meeting her expectations. 

We've already completely changed literature without even having a single lesson. There will be a post Monday with the details, but we've decided to create our own high school literature program with a little (or a lot) of guidance from a couple of sources.

A snack on the way home after a busy day; The Disney mini-figs are out! She found her beloved Stitch and Maleficent on her first try - even if we spent 20 minutes trying to discern which one was in each bag at the store.
This week we start back to co-op and I'm probably a little unprepared still. I'm working on being entirely ready by the end of today. Amber is absolutely ready and prepared to return to her enrichment classes, which this year have a bit more content than planned. She ended up taking two of my classes - health and speech. Although we tend to use co-op as an enrichment-only option for Amber, I generally teach high school credit courses. However, it just worked out better for her with these classes, so we will be lightening her load at home somewhere. I haven't figured out which subjects to drop at home yet and it may take just seeing how our days go and which subjects feel burdensome this semester. 

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Weekly Wrap-Up   photo purpFFBut_zps970d6cbe.png

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

{Review} FlipStir Puzzles - Solar System

FlipStir Puzzle - Solar System

We haven't used a puzzle in our house for several years now - basically, since we adopted our first cat. Gone are the days of leaving a puzzle sitting out on any available hard surface to be completed as time allows. While we love our kitties, they simply don't understand that the kitty sized pieces are not for them. And it has just proved too difficult to keep a puzzle project going when we are forced to pick it up after every session (some day we may finish the 3-D Hobbit puzzle, if we can locate it).

Until we were offered the chance to review FlipStir Puzzles (Solar System) from Enlivenze LLC, I had not imagined any of us working a puzzle again. So, you wonder what is this magical item that allowed us to puzzle again without losing pieces to the ever curious kitties?

The FlipStir Puzzle is a self-contained system shaped like a restaurant straw holder that's covered at the top.  Inside the container are the puzzle pieces, which are rounded on the side that should face the plastic sides and printed with a portion of the design on the opposing flat side. Coming from the top of the container is a metal rod with a plastic foot at the bottom that you can move all around the inside the cylinder, as well as up and down.

FlipStir Puzzle - Solar System

The premise of the puzzle is that you shake up the pieces, stir them around with the rod, and eventually create the intended design by positioning the pieces in the correct order. The puzzles do come in varying difficulty along with a selection of designs, and we chose the level 2 difficulty in the hopes we had not gotten in over our heads. I'm not terribly patient with these types of puzzles or brain teasers, so it was up to Amber to solve our Solar System FlipStir Puzzle.

When it first arrived, we opened the package and Amber right away tried to solve the puzzle. She figured out the concept immediately, however was very frustrated and unable to get a single piece into place. Having said that, she was exhausted after a long day of running errands and not in the frame of mind for any kind of thinking. I suggested she wait till another day to try the puzzle.

A few days later when Amber was feeling more herself, I handed over the puzzle nonchalantly to see what would happen. She solved it in 3 minutes flat. No joke.  I barely had time to get pictures of her working on it - thank you, iPhone in my pocket.

FlipStir Puzzle - Solar System
That second time around when Amber was not grumpy or tired, it simply clicked in her mind exactly what she needed to do to solve the puzzle. I'm not going to give away her method, but she very much enjoyed the challenge presented and proudly demonstrated the process several times that day.

I think this would be a perfect way to occupy children or adults on car rides, in waiting rooms, or even just something fun to work on at home. Amber definitely enjoyed the FlipStir Puzzle when she was able to think clearly. And she finally was able to work on a puzzle without kitty interference!

The members of the review crew had the chance to try out four different FlipStir Puzzles, so please be sure to check out their reviews of the various difficulty levels.

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Twitter @flipstir

And with Enlivenze LLC:
Twitter @enlivenze

Visit other members of the Review Crew to read their experiences with these unique puzzles!

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

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