Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting


I very distinctly remember in elementary school, having to do handwriting practice.  I HATED IT!  It was boring, and repetitive and just all out dull.  So I have been very leery of using any sort of handwriting curriculum with Thing 1.  Funny story, I had selected a handwriting program for Thing 1, and then had a flashback of being forced to do all of that inane tracing in school and changed my mind.  That program was Peterson Directed Handwriting's regular program.

Well, I received as part of the TOS Review Crew a copy of Peterson Directed Handwriting's PDF-By-Hand.  I reviewed only the print portion of the program, since Thing 1 is not anywhere near learning cursive right now, which you can purchase yourself from their website for $75.00.

PDF-By-Hand uses a Wacom input tablet.  I happened to already own one that I purchased a few years ago for around $100.  (I actually talked about it in a previous post!  This is what he's working on in the picture on that post)  Thing 1 LOVES this aspect of it.  For a few reasons.  He loves to use anything that allows him to "draw" on the computer (his favorite program is Paint), and especially loves it when he gets to be on MY computer.  He didn't seem to believe he was doing school work while doing this, and often ASKS to do his handwriting because he finds it sooo fun.

Before we started, I did do a brief assessment with him, and discovered we have some reversal issues with letters like N, and while we haven't gotten to that point quite yet (we're working one letter or number at a time) he has had some of his more minor issues corrected.  One of the major things with Peterson is that you are practicing to get things into muscle memory, rather than visually memorizing.  There is no TRACING in this program, and instead each new letter or number, you start with "drawing" it in the air, using verbal cues (like "tall down" for the number 1).  This has been wonderful for Thing 1.

Aaaaaand, I can also print out the pages for Thing 1 instead of having him work on them on the computer, if I so choose.  I haven't done so yet, because I want him to get to where he truly enjoys the handwriting practice first (almost there), but the option IS there.  There is also a "blank" page for drawing in the files, which Thing 1 also found awesome and drew me numerous pictures using.

As you can likely tell, this curriculum was a WONDERFUL fit for our techie family.  Even my husband was impressed.  I am looking forward to continuing this with Thing 1.

One downside of using this program is that the tablet device can sometimes have issues.  In our case, if Thing 1 gets the stylus too close to "laying" on the tablet itself, it quits working.  Also, it doesn't quite show what he's actually writing.  There is a bit of a learning curve with making sure the stylus is far enough from the surface so it doesn't draw extra lines.  These are not issues with the handwriting program, but moreso with the input device and the learning curve involved with THAT.  Thing 1 is doing better about it, but still sometimes has random lines across the screen.

 I reviewed just the program with the print part of the program bundled in, but you can also purchase JUST the cursive for $75.00, or for the $125.00 for a personal license, you can get all of it together.  OR if you need a BUILDING license because you are a school, you can purchase the entire bundled program with a building license for $300.00.  If you would rather purchase the program, and then get one e-workbook at a time, you can do that as well.  The program itself is $29.95, and each of the e-workbooks can be purchased separately based on whether you need a building or individual license.  Peterson Directed Handwriting also has more "traditional" handwriting curriculum items available in their store.

Be sure to check out more reviews of this product from my fellow Crew mates.  Don't just take my word for it ;)

Disclaimer: I received this product free from the vendor for the purpose of this review in exchange for my honest opinion and experience on it.  I received no other compensation for this review.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Exercise *ahem*

Remember a whiiiiile ago I committed to wanting to do at least a small amount of exercise every single day?

Yeah, that didn't work out so well timing-wise.  Our A/C was broken, and so any thought of doing something other than sitting around sweating went RIGHT out the window.

Then all of July I was a lazy bum.  I'm quite good at that.  Thing 2 has started walking a LOT and so I've been go after him a LOT.  We purchased an elliptical, so I've been getting on that for a few minutes at a time at least once a day.

A couple weeks ago, we picked up Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.  I did it once, to Link saying "You can do it honey!" and then couldn't move for a week.  Yeah, that did not go so well LOL

Saturday of this past week though (July 31) I put it in and tried again.  Even though it had been about 2 weeks since my previous attempt, I found it to be easier.  Link did it with me, as well, and wanted to die by the end of it.  (He didn't appreciate the reminders of his behavior when *I* did it the first time, lemme tell ya!)  So Sunday I did it by myself.  I do well until the third cycle strength and abs when I just want to fall apart.  It's because of my KNEES though.  I guess it might be my weight and lack of fitness combined, but jumping jacks KILL MY KNEES!

Thing 1 tried to help on Sunday.  He crawled onto my chest while I was trying to do crunches.  Over 20 pounds of baby does not a pleasant crunching experience make.

Buuuuuuuut I'm going to be doing my third consecutive day today!

Go ME!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dewey's Showcase

 Dewey's Showcase at the Stay at Home Librarian

This week I'm sharing another one of the tools we use in our homeschooling adventures.  BANKER BOXES.

I know that sounds weird, but I really DO use banker boxes as part of our homeschooling.  We started out with workboxes, which worked alright, but Thing 1 resisted finishing all of the boxes, wanted to skip boxes sometimes, and the shelves we were using were bending the books >.< 

Soooo now we use the banker boxes for my modified system!

I wrote each of our major subjects (with a box for all of the other manipulatives because I have a LOT of them!) and put them into a shelving thing that I have owned since high school.  Each box has all of the books for that subject, and the math box has the Math-U-See bars in it as well :)

Thing 1 enjoys things being like this since we typically don't do every subject every day, and he can more easily CHOOSE what he wants to do.  I need to get some handwriting stuff into the language arts box, but he's resistant to handwriting still.  Perhaps once we finish our next product review that will be overwith...

Have a tool you'd like to share?  Head over to The Stay at Home Librarian and join the showcase!  On top of that, Manda is currently running a GIVEAWAY of one of HER tools!  A set of Magna-Tiles!  So go, join the showcase, and enter her giveaway.  (joining the showcase gives you extra entries!)  The contest is open until August 21st, and even if you don't enter, or don't win, you can use the discount code she gives for 15% off your entire order!  MORE INCENTIVE TO GO OVER THERE!  GO GO GO!