Saturday, October 3, 2015

Lunar Eclipse/Blood Moon Photos

Like so many people last Sunday we were looking forward to staying up and watching the eclipse, the kids especially!  As the day went on it started to get cloudy and I wasn’t sure if we would miss this one again.  At about 8 pm the clouds started to break up.  Woohoo!


full moon  My camera isn’t very good at taking night photos so I decided to try my phone.  It didn’t do to bad but the full moon came out as bright white instead of picking up the beautiful grey markings we could see.full moon

Full moon with cloudsThe clouds started to come back in around 8:30 so we decided that we would head back inside and check again in a little while.  Well we got busy doing things and forgot!  By the time I remembered to come back outside and have a look the moon was half covered in the shadow.

moon moon moon I took a few photos with hubbys old phone, it has a good night setting on it’s camera and I was able to pick up the shadow of the eclipse coming over the moon.blood moon

blood moon The blood moon was just beautiful to watch!  We all stayed up until around 11pm after that it was just to cold to be outside any longer since the wind was picking up.  We had all been sick the week before and it wasn’t worth it to stay out and get sick all over again.

Where you able to get a good look at the eclipse?  I hope you were able to enjoy this amazing event! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Middle School French From Middlebury Interactive Languages - Review

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Last year we had the wonderful opportunity to use and review Elementary French 1 (grades 3-5) from Middlebury Interactive Languages.  My oldest daughter loved the course so much she had asked to take the next level.  So we were thrilled to have the opportunity to review Middle School French 1!  The class comes in 2 forms one with a teacher and one with out.  We received a 6 month subscription to the class with out a teacher.

Learning Languages

What is Middlebury Interactive Languages?

Middlebury Interactive Languages is an online, interactive foreign language program.  They offer foreign language courses for grades K-12 including advanced and AP level courses at the high school level.  Language classes are for Spanish, French, German and Chinese.

French classes offered:

  • Elementary French 1 - Grades K-2
  • Elementary French 1 & 2 - Grades 3-5
  • Middle School French 1 & 2 - Grades 6 – 8
  • High School French 1, 2 & 3 - Grades 9-12
  • High School French Fluency 1 & 2 - Grades 9-12
  • AP French - Grades 11-12

The style of the classes is like a slideshow but interactive.  The student listens to audios, reads slides, answers questions using interactive games, writes and records themselves repeating French phrases.

When you first login to Middlebury Interactive the home page has a section at the top for announcements and under that is a box that says Up Next.  This is suppose to show what lesson the student is to work on next. However I've found it to be out of sync with the lessons my daughter has completed.

There is also a calendar option to find your lessons.  This schedules 2 lessons to be done each day.  Unfortunately the schedule seems to be locked and started the week before we had access to the program.  Luckily there is another way to follow along the lessons!

Middlebury Interactive Table of Contents

There is the table of contests to the program and this is what my daughter has been using to do her lessons.

On the left side of the screen is a list of Units with a file folder symbol next to them.  As you click the unit it opens to show a list of lessons under it.  You then click the lesson folder you want and it opens a sub folder with a list of activities to complete for that lesson.

Middlebury Interactive

The lessons display in a slide show type box in the center of the screen.  As each lesson is completed a green check mark appears beside the lesson in the table of contents.

Each unit has 10 lessons and each lesson has at least 6 parts to it.  They have an introduction or teaching tip, a warm up exercise, a matching game and a speaking lab.

Middlebury Interactive3

What Does My Daughter Think?

She has really been enjoying Middlebury Interactive Languages middle school French program.  It's more challenging and a different style then the elementary program that largely used videos to teach.  However she still really likes the format.  She does wish that there was a definitions page she could print off for each lesson.  She has to write out her own terms to help her with the exercises later and since hand writing is harder for her it slows the lessons down.


What Do I Think?

I really like the Middlebury Interactive French program!  This is the type of program that as a parent if your not strong in the language your child is learning it's not a problem.  Even if you don't know it at all, they can still use this program well! 

Middlebury Interactive Languages breaks the learning down into small manageable chunks.  Each lesson takes about 15 minutes to complete.  As your child works through the lessons the activities are graded.  You can easily see these grades and view the lesson as well from your grade book.  Our version of middle school French didn't have the teacher add on so her audio recordings are not marked with feedback so I listen to original and her recording to see if she is pronouncing it correctly.

The only things I wish I could change about the set up is I would like to be able to use the calendar view but select the start date of the course myself.  It would also be helpful if there was a pop up keyboard with French language characters on it.  There was no way that our daughter was going to remember what alt key codes to press to get them to show up.  So I was able to find a app that would let her select the French letter that she need and just copy it for her use.

Other then these little things I think it is a wonderful language program!   This is the program we are planning to use again next year when our oldest reaches the high school level.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Family Game Night Fun With Wonky & Tapple From USAopoly ~ Review


Does your family do a family games night?  Do you like to find fun games that are also educational?  I love teaching with games because I find children are more interested in learning when it's "fun" and they remember more!  So I was really excited when our package from USAopoly arrived with Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game.


The game Tapple:  Fast Word Fun for Everyone consists of a wheel with a timer and the most common letters of the alphabet on it.  It has 20 letters but doesn't have Q, U, V, X, Y or Z.  There are 26 cards that are double sided.  Each card contains 4 categories and each side has both a hard and easy level to pick from.  For example one card has the categories something green and pet names on one side and on the other side is cartoons and pizza toppings.  The Tapple wheel does need 2 AA batteries to operate the timer.  It has a storage area on the bottom to keep your category cards in the bottom.

To play Tapple you draw a card and pick a category on it.  Then you have to say a word that fits in that category and starts with an available letter on the game wheel.  You press the letter button down and hit the red button to stop the timer.  The timer gives each player 10 seconds to think of a word.  If the buzzer goes off before the player has said a word then they have to sit out for the rest of the round.

Playing Tapple

Our family has loved playing Tapple!  It's a game that even our younger 6 year old has enjoyed.  Often I took the timer off so that the game would move at a slower pace for them.  Actually some of our older children really don't like being under the pressure of a timer so it works well to stop it for them to.

Tapple has so many possible uses for reviewing lessons!  You can create your own topics.  We are working on unit studies on weather and China right now.  So we played using our own topics and had to think up words based on these unit ideas.  Then we've played some just for fun topics as well picking different seasons or cartoons. 

Wonky game

Wonky:  The Crazy Cubes Card Game is a game of tower building.  The game has 9 blocks in the colours of blue, green and purple and a deck of 54 cards.  It also comes with a storage back to keep everything in so little parts don't get lost.

In Wonky you deal a hand of 7 cards to each player.  These cards tell you what what blocks you are to stack for your tower.

You might be thinking it's just stacking blocks why is this fun or challenging?  Well these blocks are NOT your normal blocks!  Each block has different slopes and angles you have to get creative with your stacking to make this work.   Your goal is to build the tower but make it harder for the next person to be able to stack their block on it.

The person who wins Wonky is the person who runs out of cards first.  If your tower falls you have to add another card to your hand!

Playing Wonky Gasp will the tower fall?!

What Do I Think?

Tapple and Wonky are two really fun games!  Both of these games are easy to play and yet challenging to win.  Everyone in our family has had fun playing with these. 
Wonky is great for practicing a steady hand and thinking logically on how to fit the blocks together.
Tapple has so many educational possibilities!  I can see using Tapple as a fun way to review vocabulary words in many subjects for years to come.   Some times we play by the rules and some times we make up our own games. 

If your family enjoys playing games together I would highly recommend both Tapple and Wonky as a fun addition to your family game night!

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