Wednesday, August 31, 2016

TOS Review: WAY Comes Home Kit from HomeSchool Scholastics

WAY Comes Home Kit

HomeSchool Scholastics, an i4 Learning Company, graciously sent us their WAY Comes Home Kit to review. I haven't ever utilized a health and wellness curriculum, but the topics became increasingly more important for us. We both want to live a healthy lifestyle which includes eating nutritionally and exercising daily. I also wanted my daughter to learn healthy habits that she can use anywhere.

Product Description
The FIVE themed modules addressed are 1.) Getting Started 2.) Where Do You Begin? 3.) Let's Get Active 4.) The Nutrition WAY and 5.) Health - It's Personal. One lesson module is offered for each of the three academic levels. Lessons have been field-tested by homeschooling families for homeschool families around the United States and Canada. You decide on which lessons to complete, how it will be done, what you will add to it, and how long you will spend studying each topic.

Each structured lesson contains the same components in the lesson layout.
  • Parent Prep includes extensive background information you'll need to teach the lesson. It's basically the core of the lesson and preps YOU to teach children relevant content. I HIGHLY recommend that you read this information each week prior to teaching. 
  • Lesson at a Glance summarizes the lesson in simplistic terms. 
  • Get Things Ready offers you a numbered "prep ahead" list of supplies, tools, journal pages, and optional books necessary for each lesson.
  • WAY Vocab Words lists reinforcing word-wall vocabulary relevant to the content to be displayed in your home. 
  • What To Do are numbered step-by-step lesson directions or guidelines for you top follow. I believe this is the core of the curriculum when used with the correlating Parent Prep information and introductory Module information.
  • Art Attack are opportunities for children to illustrate or create art that incorporates learning concepts.
  • Weekends with WAY (Wellness, Academics & You) are extension activities that can be completed after school or over the weekend with the hope of involving other family members. This section includes the Share It, Walk and Talk, and WAY to Play activities. You can do these activities any time.  
  • Pray and Reflect are Biblical verses and motivational quotations that add meaning to your health and wellness lesson.
  • WAY More Resources offers websites and additional subject-related ideas to further your study. Some of the websites are meant for adults to explore. My daughter liked the Pick Chow website as seen below. 
  • Way More Fun are miscellaneous fun activities or interesting factoids that aim to engage the learner. 

All of these components are addressed in all 3 academic levels: Health Safari, Me Mysteries, and Innerspace Adventure. Individuals who purchase the curriculum will also receive access to recently released online lessons which are posted quarterly. Three new lessons are offered each quarter. We did NOT receive access to that content so I can't review that information. The website is frequently mentioned in the parent guide.  

What's Included Description
Parent Guide
The 144-page Parent Guide contains all the information you need to teach K-5th grade children. The guide begins with an Introduction chocked full of useful information about how to use the curriculum. The Table of Contents shows all the modules and lists the three activities for each of the three levels. For example, Module 1 Activity 1.2 represents the "Look at Me" activity for the Me Mysteries level. The "2" represents the second level.

The Me Mysteries level has a detective theme and is suitable for 2nd-3rd graders. The Me Mysteries level addresses Science, Math, and Language Arts criteria. The Health Safari level has a jungle theme and is meant for K-1st graders. The Innerspace Adventure level has a space theme and was designed for 4th-5th grade students.

There is a list of optional library books divided by modules and further broken down into leveled activities. The booklist is followed by an assortment of vocabulary games and activities. Each academic level is given a 1-2 page spread with explanations for vocabulary activities. The games are organized by the three curricula levels: Health Safari, Me Mysteries, and Innerspace Adventure. However, you can pick and choose any game to play with your vocabulary regardless of the curricula level so be sure to check them all out. Each curricula level contains 2-4 games to play or activities to complete.

WAY Comes Home Video and Exercise DVD
The WAY Comes Home contains segmented short video clips lasting 2-10 minutes. These videos are utilized at the beginning of each lesson if indicated as an introduction to the concept, but not all lessons have a corresponding video. The DVD also provides energetic developmentally appropriate workouts for children. Alyssa and I did these exercises together in the kitchen. When you open the DVD you will see the three leveled curricula titles. We clicked on Me Mysteries. There was a list of workouts including a warm-up and cool down. I love that it teaches children that they should warm-up their muscles before working out and that you also have a cool down stretching period. The 4 workouts included in the Me Mysteries section are: Sports Moves, Free Style, Muscle Moves, and Exercise Fun. Background music is played and you can easily hear the speaker. Alyssa enjoyed the Sports Moves workout the most. She definitely enjoyed the Me Mysteries workout over the Healthy Safari or Innerspace Adventure exercises. 

Student Journals
Our package arrived with three consumable journals. Each journal should be used with a single child. There was one for each grade level curricula: K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. The white covers were blank but the inside pages were full of colorful illustrations and text. Activities included lined pages, blank drawing spaces, song lyrics, puppets, cryptograms, surveys, charts, diagrams, and more. The activities will VARY for each grade level. All three journals follow a similar format or layout with activities related to the content. Coloring pages were at the beginning of each module in the journals. You may not use all of the pages in the journal, but you always have plenty of room to extend learning opportunities if desired.

  • The Health Safari Journal consisted of blank drawing pages, color-n-cut pages, and song lyrics. Very little writing was required making this a good fit for younger leaners. 
  • The Innerspace Adventure Journal for older children provided the user with lined pages. The directions were more detailed and the activities were writing intensive. This level encourages independent learning. Fewer coloring pages were included in this journal.
  • The Me Mysteries Journal is the perfect combination of BOTH blank and lined paper with a decent amount of writing for this grade level. This level worked best for my learner this year. The journal consisted of wellness surveys, conversion and heart rate charts, draw and write pages, reflection pages, lined pages, etc. See the examples below.  

WAY Vocab Cards and Illustrations
We received a packet of consumable WAY Vocab Cards and Illustrations for ALL academic levels. The level was indicated in the top left corner. The cardstock printables were packaged and shrink-wrapped together. All the cards were printed on thick cardstock paper. Depending on the level chosen, 4-6 new vocabulary words were taught during each module. The cards can be cut out or displayed. The packet also included puppet templates, a set of good and poor choice flashcards, and sorting cards as seen below.

Extra Tools in the Box
The company provides you with an assortment of hands-on items that may not be found in your home. We received a Fulcrum Balance Scale, Foam Balls, My Pyramid Poster, Stethoscope, WAY Comes Home to MyPlate Nutritional Booklet, Scale Assembly Directions, Glitter Glue, Measuring Tape, 3 Sorting Baskets, Black Ink Pad, Bingo Chips or Counters, Yellow Plastic Eggs, and Teacher Instructions. I was thankful all these items were provided, because it saved me time searching for them. The MyPlate booklet is chocked full of nutritional information relevant to the study. My daughter dug into the box upon its arrival. Her excitement and curiosity grew once she saw everything we would be using during lessons.

Other Useful Items Needed

  1. Writing and Colored Utensils
  2. Scissors
  3. Health and Nutrition Books
  4. Eye Chart
  5. Stopwatch or Timer
  6. Paper Plates
  7. Plastic Gloves
  8. Clothes Pins
  9. Ziplock Bags
  10. Marbles or Coins
  11. Tissue
  12. Paint
  13. Clay (Optional)
  14. Microscope (Optional)
How We Used HomeSchool Scholastics
I used HomeSchool Scholastics with Alyssa who is 8-years-old working at a 3rd-5th grade level. It was used as our core health and nutrition curriculum over the summer. We aimed to complete 1 lesson per week, but we added in many extensions. By doing this, we stretched out the content over a longer period of time. I decided that I didn't want to rush through the lessons. I wanted Alyssa to absorb and apply the information to her life.

The 2nd-3rd grade Me Mysteries academic level was chosen as the starting point for us. We worked on the lessons together for approximately 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours a day depending on the number of activities we completed and the time spent on crafts. You can spend more or less time on the personally selected activities. We usually worked on activities 3-5 times per week. The sections were divided throughout the week. Literature or additional activities were added in when possible.

First, I read over the parent "Read Me First, Please!" instruction sheet. I also read the Introduction which discusses the three academic levels, themes, lessons, lesson layout, curriculum items, additional supplies, and more. I glanced at the Optional Library Book List for each module and activity noting which books I owned and which ones I needed to borrow from the library. A checkmark meant I owned the book and a "L" meant we needed a library book.

I thoroughly pre-read all five of the Me Mysteries lessons from the parent guide to become familiar with the program and prepare myself for the lessons. I decided to use post-it tabs to mark areas in the parent manual that I wanted to access quickly. I tabbed the following sections with sticky post-its: Vocabulary, Books, and Me Mysteries Activity. The Me Mysteries activity post-it moved only after a lesson was completed. I did this to easily track which lesson we were working on.

I gathered any additional items needed before beginning the first lesson. I also prepared materials while my daughter was at her father's house. I filled the plastic eggs with virtues or traits, made copies of the vocabulary words for games on colored card stock (with permission), cut out the cards, and displayed the Word Wall list. One vocabulary list was displayed each week.

The first lesson activity encouraged Alyssa to decorate her personal journal. After unpacking all the boxed items, she thought it was odd that there wasn't a cover illustration on the journals until I asked her to personalize it later. She willingly completed the task.

A short video segment was watched next if applicable to the lesson. I paraphrased the background information about the upcoming topic. I did NOT watch the video lessons ahead of time to check for appropriate content. This curriculum was tested by and for homeschoolers so I figured it would be appropriate. I was in the same room when my daughter watched the short videos. No controversial or inappropriate content was presented.

Attempted Schedule
Daily (if possible) - Vocabulary
Monday - Core Lesson, Video, and Journaling
Tuesday - Optional Books Read and Art Attack Activity
Wednesday - Include Me Too and Wednesday Walk-n-Talk
Thursday - WAY to Play, WAY More Resource Explorations, Extra Projects
Friday - Prayer and Quote Reflections, WAY More Fun, Extra Projects
Weekends - Walk and Talks

Catch the compliment, tic-tac-toe, and hangman were three WAY to play activities we enjoyed. She was respectful when giving her compliments and the smile on her face was unmistakable during our game of Catch the Compliment. The positive statements really cheered her up and boosted her self-esteem! The photo below shows Alyssa completing an All About Me college using drawings instead of magazine pictures. I found the letter A outline online. The collage was glued into her journal.
WAY To Play Activities 

The reinforcing WAY vocabulary activities were completed 2-5 times throughout the week. She used an online or print dictionary to define words. We chose activities from ALL three of the grade levels. I really appreciated having access to all of the teaching ideas. This really helped vary the activities and prevent boredom from doing the same activity over and over again. Mystery Cheer gave her the chance to cheer vocabulary words using a template which is provided in the parent manual. We added in different intonations and actions. She also played matching games and an erasing exercise which helped her practice spelling skills. Words spelled correctly were erased from the whiteboard. Her favorite vocabulary activities were the Mystery Cheer and matching games. I wish the curriculum provided definitions matching each word.
Me Mysteries Vocabulary Activities
Health Safari and Innerspace Adventure
Vocabulary Activities
One lesson my daughter thoroughly enjoyed was balancing energy in (food) to energy out (exercise) using a fulcrum balance scale, coins, and conversion charts. She created a daily meal plan. Then, she converted the calories  and physical activities into coins. She compared the food she planned to different amounts of exercise. This was one of her favorite activities. Although . . . I must say she never complained about anything during the review period.

We tried to fill extra time with books related to the topic. We read several books indicated on the Optional Reading Booklist provided in the parent guide. The books came from our personal book collection. Our local library was closed, because they were in the process of building a new one. If we didn't own a specific book, then I searched You Tube for read aloud books on the list. The book on the right side in the pic below is called "Eating the Alphabet." At the front of the parent manual is a complete list of books. A booklist was provided for each leveled activity under each module.

Art Attack
Her first Art Attack project was a drawing of me. The activity stated that she must choose someone to draw and describe. She labeled the picture with words and phrases that described me. Another project was a heart drawing. We needed to search for a detailed drawing online for her to copy. She really enjoyed all of the projects, but her favorite project was the drawing of me. She liked writing descriptive phrases about me and said she wanted to show me her love. Her second favorite activity was the Edible Fruit Art Craft. I photographed her art work for her journal. Eating her artwork as a snack or dessert was the best part! She also said, "I like playing with my food. This isn't usually allowed." The My Plate activity was changed. She ended up drawing and labeling food in each color-coded group. Her favorite activities were the Art Attack projects. These hands-on activities were her favorites, because it involved Art and was directly related to the content being studied. However, I do wish that there were detailed heart drawings available for her to copy or kid-friendly website links included to them rather than me having to spend time searching for them online. The My Plate drawing below combined parts from both the Include Me and Art Attack activities from several levels. I loved the Health Safari idea of finding a clear glass plate at a flea market and to attach color-coded food groups at the bottom. The blue green plate below is a hands-on way for Alyssa to track her Inner and Interpersonal activities throughout the day.

Include Me
I homeschool an only child which enabled me to add in several Include Me activities into the schedule to differentiate and extend learning. This section is also GREAT for larger families wanting to include all their children in a lesson. I loved the creativity emphasized in the "I am thumbody" activity. She drew herself at the beach, because she is a good swimmer and loves swimming. We played a fun game on the road called "I'm so hungry . . ." We took turns naming healthy foods we would eat for each letter in the alphabet. She even recorded food items in her journal using an A-Z list. Another game we played was Go or Slow. We also made changes to this game. I remember playing a similar game when I taught at a public school. I showed Alyssa a food item using the colorful online flashcards I found. She would indicate whether the food was healthy or not by jumping up high for nutritional items and doing a low squat for junk foods or less nutritious food items. The "It's What's Inside That Counts" activity was another favorite. I hid eggs with character trait qualities representing my daughter around the house for an egg hunt. This activity pulled at her heart strings. She decided to keep all the paper slips.

Weekly Walk and Talk
We took a weekend walk on the 2nd and 4th weekends or during weeknights. We chose this schedule, because every other weekend she is at her father's house. We enjoyed our nightly Wednesday walks. I initiated the topic as a reminder. We quickly discussed what she learned in her lessons using the memorized prompts from the manual. I was hoping it would spark an awesome conversation about health, but my daughter didn't want to dwell on the subject for too long. She just wanted to walk without having to do school (mother-daughter time). I encouraged her to walk and talk to her father about what she was learning.

What We Liked
  • Multi-Disciplinary
  • All Learning Styles Addressed
  • Short Video Segments
  • Adaptable and Flexible Lessons
  • Promotes Active Movement
  • Encourages Healthy Behaviors
  • Includes Almost Everything
  • Personalized Blank Journal Cover with Colorful Journal Pages
  • Assortment of Hands-On Activity Choices
  • Art Attack Activities 
  • Differentiated (Leveled) Journals Using Include Me Activities
Possible Vendor Suggestions 
  1. Vocabulary Card Definitions
  2. Complete Supply Package Checklist 
  3. Color-Coded Vocabulary Word Wall Card Systems
  4. Flashcards for Go Slow Game
  5. Add-In Detailed Heart Diagram
  6. Extra Printables in Parent Manual
Overall Thoughts
HomeSchool Scholastics is an exceptionally well-written health and wellness curriculum for children in K-5th grade. The complete curriculum addresses several components: Physical, spiritual, emotional, and social wellbeing. The included Bible verses were a perfect touch. She learned about her self-concept, hygiene, nutrition, exercise, germs, diseases, and so much more. We are working through the last module, but plan on extending it further into next week. We will continue using this curriculum especially since my daughter asked if we could start the Health Safari level. She has learned a lot about herself and how her lifestyle choices both positive and negative have a huge impact on her health and nutrition.

I definitely HIGHLY recommend the WAY Comes Home Kit to ALL homeschool families wanting to instill healthy nutrition and wellness habits into their day. It can be used as a core curriculum, supplement, as part of an after-school program, Girl Scouts, YMCA, or by homeschool co-ops. The curriculum can be used in the classroom or a homeschool environment. Larger homeschool families will find this curriculum extremely useful and beneficial.

I can't believe the company is currently selling the WAY Comes Home Kit for ONLY $29.95 (retail price WAS $49.95). They recently dropped the price after receiving feedback. To make the deal even sweeter . . .  they are now offering FREE shipping. This is an outstanding value for the complete kit and all print materials.
WAY Comes Home Kit

Social Media
Twitter @WAYComesHome

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more reviews and to hear experiences about the WAY Comes Home Kit from HomeSchool Scholastics.
WAY Comes Home Kit Review

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Amazing Grace

A neighbor's son makes creative art pieces using old and new horseshoes. This was one of my favorite items for sale. It is a cross that says, "Amazing Grace." I love it!

God saved you by His GRACE when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us so long ago.
Ephesians 2: 8-10 (NLT)

I will link this post up Tots and Me's Wordless Wednesday's Linky and at Scripture and a Snapshot at a Glimpse of Our Life.
Scripture and Snapshot

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DIY Plastic Bag Jump Rope

Do you have any extra grocery plastic bags hanging around your house? I bet you do! Do you want a project that will keep your children active and busy for hours?

My daughter came across a Life Hacks for Kids You Tube video online called Clever Bag Hacks. She watched it and really wanted to create a jump rope using plastic grocery bags. The project took several hours to complete, but was worth it. She had so much fun making her jump rope.

First, she cut the bottom and tops off of MANY bags.

Then, she overlapped them and pulled to create a knot. Please watch the video for this step.

We taped the top of the braided bags so that she could use two hands to braid. Braiding was much easier this way.
Braiding the Pieces
It gets a little harder connecting additional bags. She also trimmed the edges. Towards the end her hands were getting tired so the braid wasn't as tight.
Ready to Try it Out
Yep, she is one happy camper. She loves her new jump rope. This is a great DIY project for younger children.

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey. I will link this post up at Tots and Me's Wordless Wednesday Linky and Year Round Homeschooling's Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Studying the Fifty States

The new school year is right around the corner. I am slowly introducing subjects to Alyssa's schedule to get her back on track. 

We started studying the fifty states again. This time we are using a curriculum called, Fifty States Under God created by Joy Dean. Here's a sneak PEEK at what Alyssa's been working on this month. There's so much History and Geography information jam-packed into this book. I hope to share more about how we are using this curriculum in the near future. 
Research and Read Facts
State Symbols and Interesting Facts
Historical Story Account
Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey! Enjoy your day!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Bowling with Friends

My post is a little late this week. My daughter came home Sunday night so we've been spending quality time together. We had a blast this week visiting several friends and hanging out with our neighbors.

Our bowling trip was huge success! All the smiles made me one happy mama. I am most thankful for the Kids Skate Free program every summer.

I will link this post up at Tots and Me's Wordless Wednesday Linky. Have a great weekend!