Friday, March 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday "Joy" 3/21/14

  I am 4. I am 7. I am 10, 13, 18. There is Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s Day. There are birthdays, graduations, retirements, housewarmings, christenings.

     And there is the everyday. Not occasions. But very special indeed.

     Backyard barbeques on crystal summer days. Charbroil and hickory wafting to seemingly endless summer sky, creating forever an imprint of happiness, bliss.  Of togetherness. Of safety.

      Emerald grass, lemon yellow marigolds and neon pink petunia, trimmed. Lawn chairs, neatly arranged earlier, now haphazardly strewn. Yanked by eager friends joining burgeoning, lively conversations. A day, lingeringly, gratefully, spent with friends sans daily rigor. Heightened by comfort, familiarity, ease. Love.

     There are Sunday afternoons slogging through wintry woods to a frozen pond deep within. Ice skates flung over shoulders and bumping with each step. Bright sun, radiant at eye level. Yet hiding behind full beauty of firs and leafless beauty of maple, oak. There is the anticipation, the newness of the adventure. But more so, the reveling in now.

     The walk. The talk. The silence in between. The being together.  
Joy in the everyday.

And since this is all about savoring the everyday,
 here's some Chesterton awesomeness to ponder 
around this very thing:

I'm thrilled  join in with Lisa Jo
 and Five Minute Friday 

I can't believe it's been a week since I 
hit "publish" here!
My space was fast becoming a place for the churning out of
 reviews and sponsored posts of late and boy, 
was I on burnout.
From that as well as general life.
I look forward to writing what I'd like to savor and  think through 
as I continue my blogging journey as a writer and as a  Mom.
And mainly, continuing to be graced by
 the blessings that abound
in the blogging community from all of you
who stop by, read, comment, or not,
and have made this road a surprising blessing.
~Thank you~

Please click to Lisa Jo's for more snippets of joy.

 Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time 
here at my home on the web!

Have you signed up to receive my posts in your email inbox?
   If not, just enter your email address here
so we can be in touch regularly!

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You might wish to follow on Facebook as well.....

Until next time,


Post dividers can be found here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Parlez-Vous Francais? TOS Review of Mango Homeschool Foreign Language Program~French

Mango Languages Review
Welcome and thanks for stopping by!

You've most likely heard of Mango Languages.....
As a curriculum junkie, I certainly had!
And all good things, too.....
As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
I was privileged recently to use and  review
their latest endeavor,  a foreign language program,
 intended for ages 6 through to adulthood.
and geared toward  homeschoolers,
  Mango Homeschool

Here's a  peak at a language 
(that we did not study) through Mango: Latin:
A  couple of screenshots  so you can  see how attractive
 and friendly the translations and forums are.~~
Mango Languages Review
Mango Languages Review
Intriguing, no?
User friendly.
Kid friendly.
~How we introduced the program in our homeschool~
Initially, the plan was for each of my kids to study a language using Mango.
However, only my younger son was able, due to our schedule constraints,
to utilize the program.
He's been quite interested in learning French;
so, voila!
We were able to accommodate his interest level
and boy, was he excited!
Incidentally, Mango provides study of
 Canadian French as well as European French.
 He knew the version  he wanted (European!) 
But given that we vacation in the Adirondacks 
for a week each summer
and cross paths with many tourists from Ontario,
our curiosity was piqued  to check out 
the Canadian  component as well... 
but we did stick with his first choice.
~A Study of the Country and its Culture~
Before the French language was actually introduced, I wished to 
provide a bit of background on the country, culture and people of France.
My son auditioned for and was  granted a couple of 
call backs for a role in Les Mis, at a local community theater last summer.
Resources we used to prepare for his
audition, musically and historically, are here.
So the groundwork and fascination with the country,
as he researched the part of Gavroche and 
pre French Revolution France was already established.
Alas, he did not get the role. 
But learning about Victor Hugo and
the transference  of his masterpiece to the stage was, of course,
not time wasted!

Here are other resources we utilized to learn more about
La Belle France before embarking on the study of la langue:
National Geographic France for Kids
France Facts for Kids
Time for Kids: France

~Geography resources~
Political map of France
Political map of Europe
Physical map of France
Physical map of  Europe
Printable flag of France
~ Getting Started with Mango ~ 
Mango offers several extremely helpful videos  through Vimeo ,
which guide new users through creating and linking accounts and 
navigating the system.
Josh Hoover, Community Director, 
exhibited an infectious excitement toward the program through these videos.
How we used the program in our homeschool~
My son, an 11 year old 5th grader,
 used Mango Homeschool France several times per week.
The program was enticing in terms of the novelty and excitement around the
language study. 
Because my son is dyslexic, 
we found  the auditory nature and repetition
of the lessons to be quite  beneficial.
However, while the repetitive drill and 
translations in each "chapter"  and slide are
 vital for language acquisition
and proper usage, the program lost its appeal for both my son and me.
This truly is not a fault of the program; 
it simply did not work well with 
my style of teaching and his style of learning...
though he did internalize certain elements of basic French conversation.
I plan to  revisit  Mango Homeschool French
in the foreseeable future with a renewed perspective.
I reviewed a beta version of Mango, however,
here is what's currently available on the site:
*Over 60 different languages
*Progress Assessments

*Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
*Collaborative learning spaces
*eNote messaging
/chat rooms

*Access to embedded/downloadable content
Support from other community members

*Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

Benefits of the Mango program~
There are so many, but I found these to be notable:
Because Mango Homeschool is set up as a forum,
 wherein users who are studying the same language
 are able to interact with one another,
practical conversational use as well as questions regarding the language
may be discussed.

Additionally, Mango works on any operating 
system and is not dependent on any one specific system
or any special equipment.
(Though users do not the updated version of Adobe.)

Should you need to exit the program in the middle of a lesson,
 your progress is saved.
You will resume at that point in the lesson,
upon  logging in the next time.

Users can switch between numerous languages, tackling  as many
at one time as they'd like.

The support is positively phenomenal.
I emailed  a question about navigating the forum
to Josh, who replied
helpfully and thoroughly,  in a blink.

~Mango Homeschool's Future Offerings~
Mango is still developing certain components of their program
and will be introducing other exciting features  over 
the next several months such as ~~
*Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring 
 including seat time (for students and parents)
*Goals and Personal Lesson Plans
 (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)

*Resume and Portfolio Builder
* "Conversations,"  a section which will include quizzes and
additional foreign languages.
~Mango on Social Media~
For your further research and perusal,
I encourage you to connect with Mango.
Mango Languages can be easily found on social media:
Mango's  introductory pricing.:
1 subscription ~  
$18/month or $125/year total  

2 subscriptions ~ 
 $28/month or $175 /year total                      

3 subscriptions ~ 
 $38/month or $225/year total                     

4 subscriptions ~ 
$48/month or $275/year total                 

5 subscriptions ~  
$58/month or $325/year total

6 + subscriptions~  group rate, dependent on number in the group.

It was a privilege to benefit from Mango's
Homeschool Program and I do hope if 
you're contemplating  foreign language
study in your homeschool, 
that you consider Mango.

Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time here at my home on the web!

Until next time,

For Crew members' reviews, thoughts and 
 creative uses of Mango Homeschool, please visit
 The Schoolhouse Review Crew web page~
Click to read Crew Reviews

Monday, March 10, 2014

Inequalities Anyone? TOS Review of Science and's Algebra 1 Tutor Review
Welcome friends!
Thanks to my regular readers for visiting
and to those new friends stopping by from 
The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew
for a glimpse into Science and's brand new
Algebra 1 Tutor, volume 1~!
In addition to the above web page, you can also find Science and
on Facebook in order to  keep up with any news and info 
on their many products,
including Amazing Science and
Mastering 5th Grade Math - Fractions~
The Algebra 1 Tutor is
designed for kids in grades 7 and higher.
My son is an 8th grader, currently studying Algebra, 
and we found the product a true benefit.
I already know that when my younger son
 is immersed in the study of Algebra in
three years, he'll not only be using this part 1 at the introductory level,
but that we absolutely will be investing in future Algebra programs
comprising the remainder of the course!
We love it that much!
Let me tell you a bit about 
the program's components  and its pricing:
There are 3 DVDs within the Algebra 1 Tutor
which cove these topics in  a 7 hour course:

Disk 1
Sect 1 - Real Numbers And Their Graphs
Sect 2 - Fractions
Sect 3 - Exponents 

Disk 2
Sect 4 - Adding and Subtracting Real Numbers
Sect 5 - Multiplying and Dividing Real Numbers
Sect 6 - Algebraic Expressions

Disk 3
Sect 7 - Properties of Real Numbers
Sect 8 - Introduction to Equations
Sect 9 - Solving More Equations
Sect 10 - Simplifying Expressions to Solve Equation

I was provided with the Algebra 1 Tutor on DVD 
One might elect to buy the program download.

The Algebra 1 Tutor DVD is $26.99
while the Algebra 1 Tutor download program is $23.99.

In addition to the physical DVD and the download program offered,
the purchaser will receive corresponding
worksheets through digital download means
or a CD. 
Theses worksheets will need to be printed
in order for the student
to receive  reinforcement of 
 the concepts to which they correspond on
the Algebra 1 Tutor.
How we used the program~
The  fundamental,  step by step
explanations  throughout each clip are 
clear, concise and offered solid assistance to us as
we journey through the landscape 
of algebra, which can be confusing and overwhelming,
if not broken into manageable pieces of information,
as I'm sure you well know!
Since my son and I had already covered more than 
half of the course material
by the time I was offered this program,
we used the Algebra 1  Tutor  as a source of review , 
rather than an introduction to the concepts within.
I would love to have had the benefit of's
truly wonderful program form the course's beginning,
but supplementing  alongside specific topics that require
repetition with the program was certainly an asset.
 I positively came to rely upon the program as a
means of review/clarification of "older" concepts.
Because the DVD menu clearly states which topics are 
covered and in which order,
we had the opportunity to choose
where  to review and began to feel as if we had a personal tutor!

Some of the benefits I discovered
 of this   program~
1. I found the practical application  offered on the worksheets to be  extremely helpful.
We are definitely a drill and kill family of homeschoolers.  All the better if I can save time and energy by relying  on coordinated activities which correspond to the
video clip. Who needs to reinvent the wheel to reaffirm  mastery  of operations with negative numbers, isolating variables and so on.....  

2. Each concept is presented and explained clearly through a series of step by step examples.
My older son, who is currently studying algebra, found  this to be a bit tedious, and needed
to fast forward through much.  I anticipate the benefit of  this particular aspect  of the program as I use it years down the road with my younger son,  who, due to his dyslexia, is a visual learner and will thrive on the of repetitive, visual presentation.

3. offer an email delivery system of free math lessons which you can request right at their homepage. These lessons, delivered several times per week, are 10-15 minutes long and have served as helpful reviews for my 8th grader, as well as introductions for my 5th grader around such topics as "multiplying by powers of 10,"  "adding integers," and "multiplying a fraction by a whole number." The short video clips are perfectly timed in terms of the presentation of concept and application to specific examples. I strongly urge you to click over to's homepage to sign up for these free lessons that will not only be a huge convenience, but also introduce you  to the company which produces  this high quality algebra tutor program so that you can see firsthand how the tackling of  difficult math concepts is demonstrated.
If you are currently tackling the teaching of Algebra to your
 middle or high school child,
I encourage you to further research the Algebra 1 Tutor as
a supplement to your math program!

For my Crew members thoughts on
 Science and Math's Algebra 1 Tutor,  please visit 
The Schoolhouse Review Crew 
to read more reviews

Click to read Crew Reviews
Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time here at my home on the web!

Don't forget to subscribe to Campfires and Cleats
 by scrolling to the subscribe button at the  top left sidebar.
I'd love to stay in touch regularly.

Until next time,


Thanks to Plumrose Lane for the lovely post dividers!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

DIY Mardi Gras Masks

Welcome friends!
So happy you stopped by for a  peak at our 
Mardi Gras mask creations!

We strive each Lent to do without treats....
to do without, in general.....
 and though our lives are relatively no-frills
to begin with, to  live simpler
  these upcoming 40 days.
 on how this typically goes.

So the night before Lent begins, we usually have some
"Mardi Gras fun" with crafts and treats that we'll
be avoiding 
( or trying to anyway)
til  Easter Sunday.
We'll be making a king cake this Tuesday, for the first time and I'm super 
excited about starting a new tradition!
I completely love Bonnie's recipe and if you are a 
"from scratch" baking kinda gal, you should truly
check it out!
You must must must see Tracy's king cake, by the way!
It looks absolutely scrumptious!
She used Bonnie's recipe and wow.....what a treat!
Go feast your eyes and then come back for more!
Though I know Bonnie's would be amazing,
I'm thinking of sticking to my fave boxed cake mix with
this to die for cream cheese frosting!
We'll see how the schedule stacks up that day...

So, here's the scoop on the super easy, because really,
anything -  goes, Mardi Gras masks we made yesterday!

Some items were already in our craft closet, such as the glue, the sequins and
some tubes of half used glitter as well as tubes of glitter glue.
The rest, I picked up at Walmart and Dollar Tree.
But you can easily get everything pretty inexpensively at amazon too:

Some shots of the creations~~


The final products~~~
Pretty, right? 
Lots of room for creativity and individuality!

And, yes, the masks were worn already~

The shot with my older son is a bit blurry, for some reason.......

Thank you for spending some of your precious time today
here at my home on the web! 
Have you signed up to receive my posts in your email inbox?
   If not, just click here to 
quickly and easily  so we can be in touch regularly!
You might wish to follow on Facebook as well.....

Vintage Spring divider
This post contains amazon affiliate links....
If you are shopping at  amazon and Target
why not consider clicking through my link
In this way, I will receive a small commission on the purchase.....
at no cost to you.

Until next time,