Monday, November 13

Forbrain for Speech Therapy - Homeschool Review Crew

Our son struggles with the basic skills of speech, memory, and concentration.  We’ve been through all kinds of therapy, with minimal improvement, but the struggles stubbornly remain.  Forbrain (Sound for Life, LTD) developed the bone conduction headset to help with speech and language difficulties, brain stimulation, auditory processing disorder, reading issues, add, and ADHD.  Given the opportunity to try it out, we lunged!

About the Headset
The headset consists of a microphone, two bone conduction transducers (the part that goes next to the ear) and the dynamic filter.  (The dynamic filter is the box that has the on/off button, volume control, and a light.)  It also comes with a quick-start guide, which is handy.  It’s very easy to charge up – we plugged in the USB cable to the computer and let it sit for a few hours.  There’s a red ‘charging’ light that turns off once it’s fully charged ; that light becomes blue when the device is in use.  One of my favorite parts about the kit, however, is the hard-shelled, zippered carrying case that makes it easy for us to take it with us everywhere (all of the pieces and the guide fit into it). 

The headset can be used for exercises such as:
  • Reading aloud
  • Dictation
  • Narration
  • Recitation (especially fun reciting poems)
  • Memorization
  • Singing
  • Dialog (role playing with toys, mine did this with their dragons and legos)
  • Story telling

What is Bone Conduction?

Bone conduction is the conveyance of sound though bones in the skull to the inner ear.  When you speak while wearing the device, you are hearing yourself loudly in your head.  It gives excellent auditory feedback to the user, and is particularly useful for those with speech issues who may struggle to hear how they sound.

One thing I liked about the headset was that, while he was getting a boosted auditory signal of his own voice, it wasn’t blocking out or muffling the sounds of those around him.  He was still able to carry on a conversation with others.

Forbrain is recommended for use as a daily tool for reading, speaking, attending in class or for general use for six to ten weeks.
  • 10 minutes a day for little ones
  • 15 minutes a day for ages 5-15
  • 20 minutes a day for teens and adults
  • 30 minutes a day for seniors

Our Use & Thoughts
He used it for the recommended amount – a mere fifteen minutes a day!  I know, you’re thinking that this isn’t enough time and it should be worn for longer, but in this case, more isn’t better.  Wearing it too long can lead to headaches and fatigue.  Results really do appear with just a few short minutes each day – consistency is really the key.

He has struggled with speech issues since he began to talk at age three….yes, age three…a bit late to the game.  We’ve seen several different speech therapists, and each has worked hard to help improve his speech, but his issues are not your ‘classic’ ones.  He has apraxia of speech, and really struggles with certain sounds…such as the short /A/ in his name…which makes it very difficult for others to have a conversation with him.  We have tried all sorts of techniques, but he doesn’t seem to be able to hear how he is pronouncing that sound.  This device really opened his eyes to how he is saying that /A/, and while it did not “cure” the issue during the review period, he did make great strides just by the fact that he is now recognizing how his version of that sound differs.  I consider that progress.

Additional Points
  • The headset retails for $299.  That’s a steep price, but if you’re paying out of pocket for speech therapy (like we were before it became too expensive), and you see results from it, then that’s really not much.  Auditory processing issues are difficult to tackle, and this looks like it will get us over a crucial ‘hump’ so that we can progress with his therapy.
  • Some sort of pre / post-test from the company would be a nice addition.  To be honest, I’m not sure how they’d do that from afar, but it’d be nice to have some concrete results that your money had been well-spent.
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Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, November 7

Innovators Tribe {Review}

Thinking Like an Engineer

As our out-of-the-box son matures into his teen years, we’re trying new approaches to schoolwork…one of which is the self-directed, hands-off approach.  When we were offered the chance to try out Thinking Like an Engineer, from Innovator’s Tribe, I knew that this would be right up his alley…and it is!

Innovator’s Tribe actually offers three courses, currently, including Thinking Like an Architect, Thinking Likean Engineer, and Thinking Like a Carpenter.  Each comes with a “mini-course,” Thinking Like an Innovator, which is designed to inspire and encourage students to learn how to thinking creatively and become problem-solvers.  This mini-course primes students for the coursework that is to come, and includes its own set of challenges and projects.

Following the completion of the mini-course, he dove right into Thinking Like an Engineer!  The course is divided into four main sections : What’s an Engineer, Intro to 3D Design, Rollercoasters, and Bridges.  In the first section, students are introduced to real-world engineering challenges and encouraged to become problem-solvers around the house.

The lessons in this course are given in a powerpoint-type format, and include videos for students to watch that introduce and reinforce concepts.  Each lesson is about ten minutes long, with additional videos ranging anywhere from five minutes to forty-five minutes.  The course moves quickly enough to keep the attention of teenagers, but not so fast as for them to get lost.

One of the activities from the first section is a challenge to build a structure that will support a stack of books – but you can only use one sheet of paper and two feet of masking tape!  I have to admit that I was a bit dubious as to how on earth this would work, but he surprised me by building a structure held TWENTY-SIX books!  This momma was blown away!  (And, based on photos from the lesson, other students had built much stronger structures.)

In the second section, students download the software and learn the basics of computer-aided design.  Then, they use that knowledge in the third and fourth sections.  While we’ve just begun the section on roller coasters, my son is rapidly progressing with his computer designs and is excited about creating structures of his own design.  My husband works in a field that requires him to use CAD on a regular basis, so he was happy to have a little father-son time working with the program.

One of the things that I like about these videos is that they introduce science concepts (like potential and kinetic energy) as well as the corresponding math concepts.  Your student does NOT need to be able to do the engineering math.  The lessons simply introduce the concepts and formulas and show real-world applications for them.

In the final section of the course, students learn about the history of bridge building, including some disasters.  Again, they learn some science and math concepts to go along with bridge engineering, and they are taught in an applied sense.  Students are then challenged to build their own suspense bridge using only cardboard, string, tape, and craft sticks.  Being as our son is a craft scavenger…always repurposing trash…he is greatly anticipating this project!


This is an online, self-paced course (not live) that teaches about engineering and its applications.  The lessons are completely taught online, and are interactive, so that you (the parent / teacher) can have a break to work with other kids.  There are several hands-on activities with each lesson, including design challenges, building challenges, and an exercise journal.  There is also a free download of the design software, which is yours to keep even after the 18-month course period has expired.


  • Introduction to Engineering 
  • Introduction to 3D Design (tools of modern design) 
  • Engineering Rollercoasters! 
  • Engineering Bridges 
  • Nano Engineering (Discovery of a New World) 
  • Thinking Like an Engineer - Course Conclusion


  • You only need to purchase the course once, and it can be used by all of the children in the household during the 18-month access period.
  • Each course (Architect, Engineer, and Carpenter) comes with a mini-course, titled Thinking Like an Innovator.
  • Courses are designed for grade 6-12.
  • There are no grades; however, there is a course journal for accountability.
  • Course software runs on both Mac and Windows.
  • Customer service responds within 24 hours, and even faster during business hours.
  • Courses are priced at $149 and offer 35 hours (or ¼ credit) of instruction.

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Wednesday, October 11

Why Walk When You Can Fly (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Two of the biggest motivators in this "house 'o boys" are Boy Scouts and airplanes.  We've devoted a lot of time (and some blog space) to incorporating them in our studies and schoolwork, with much success, and we want to share them with you.  This latest project is an elective curriculum with the Civil Air Patrol textbook.  This is a follow-up to the extensive Aviation Unit Study we created last year.

This activity book was designed to go with the 1944 Civil Air Patrol Handbook. It has been updated to include modern-day questions and activities in addition to those from the original handbook.  Each of the ten sections is broken down into manageable sub-sections, for a total of twenty-six days of school work.

Scroll down for this month's Scout-themed giveaway!

Section 1 (entire section)
  1. When was the CAP organized? (one week before Pearl Harbor)
  2. If you are 15, what is your minimum height and weight? (56” / 85*)
  3. Are you pledging to military service by joining the CAP? (no)
  4. Why should you learn about jobs other than your own? (it’s easier to cooperate if you understand others’ perspectives)

 Section 2 (2-1 – 2-6)
  1. What are the three types of soldiers? (those who fight in air, fight on ground, and who supply)
  2. Outline / define the ten sections of the army. (see book)
  3. What are three mission of the air force? (to drive off enemy aircraft, support ground & naval attacks, and carry out attacks)
  4. What category to sergeants, corporals, and staff sergeants fall into? (non-commissioned officers)
  5. Put in order of size from largest to smallest : squad, company, battalion, platoon (B,C,P,S)
  6. Why is discipline so important? (it is teamwork at its best)
  7. When would you not salute or stand at attention to an officer? (in athletic game, eating meal, on work detail, or carrying an object with both hands)
  8. What is a serious CAP offense? (trying to pass oneself as a regular army man)

 Section 2 (2-7 – 2-12)
  1. What means ‘the job that has to be done?’ (mission)
  2. Why shouldn’t you talk about military equipment or troop transfers? (don’t know who will take info and sabotage or hurt someone)
  3. What do secret / confidential / restricted mean? Define. (see book)
  4. What are three types of court martials? (summary, special, general)
  5. What is Article 104 about? (punishment without a court martial)
  6. What is the most important section (there should only be one!) of a military correspondence?  (subject)

 Section 2 (2-13 – 2-18)
  1. What does an Operations Officer do? (commanding officer’s assistant – in charge of training squadron and directing flights)
  2. What are the 10 principles of proper conduct for an officer? (see book)
  3. What is IDR? (infantry drill regulations)
  4. Practice the four stances shown for infantry drill.
  5. What is a preparatory command? (first part; it tells what is coming)
  6. What is one purpose of drill? (to move troops from one place to another)

 Section 2 (2-19 – 2-22)
  1. What is the interior guard? (body of armed soldiers who provide security)
  2. How many general orders are there for sentinels? (eleven)
  3. What is guard mounting? (ceremony for forming a new guard)
  4. What are the four parts of a review? (forming, presenting, inspecting, parading)
  5. Who is entitled to the greatest honors? (US president)

 Section 3 (3-1 – 3-3)
  1. How should you recognize aircraft? (by overall appearance / total form)
  2. What should your aircraft spotting slogan be? (eyes aloft!)
  3. How do you differentiate between land and sea planes? (wheels vs pontoons)
  4. What planes have four engines? (heavy bombers and transports)
  5. Draw the eight different wing types and label them.
  6. What is WEFT? (wing, engine, fuselage, tail)
  7. What are the four engine shapes? (radial, in-line, centered, underslung)
  8. Draw and label the three tail types.

 Section 3 (3-4 – 3-11)
  1. Why is the P-38 Lightning easy to recognize? (twin tail booms)
  2. Which airplane is exceptionally fast? (P-51 Mustang)
  3. What does the ‘B’ in B-17 and B-24 denote? (bomber)

 Section 3 (3-12 – 3-20)
  1. Which plane was the ‘answer to the fighter pilot’s prayer?’ (F-6 Hellcat)
  2. Which plane is similar to the PB24 Coronado? (B-24)
  3. What information is included in Navy aircraft designation that is not in the Army one? (where made)
  4. What does B-17 mean? (17th bomber model accepted by Army)
  5. Choose eight modern aircraft and make sillograph flash cards.

 Section 4 (4-1 – 4-8)
  1. What four types of exercises should you do? (calisthenics, combat games, swimming / running, group games)
  2. Create a calisthenics program chart and record daily. (You will begin a 90-day program in this unit.)
  3. If you have a partner, practice the two-person exercises.
  4. Why should you practice carries? (first aid and rescue work)
  5. How many sports should each CAP cadet learn? (at least two)

 Section 5 (5-1 – 5-15)
  1. Continue to work on your 90 day fitness program.
  2. Define the seven types of communication, and tell when each is ideally used. (see book)
  3. What is the easy way to think about Morse Code? (dit and dah)
  4. How do we distinguish ‘the letter 0’ from ‘zero?’ (put a line through zero)
  5. What should you first adjust if having trouble transmitting? (spring tension)
  6. How would you say ‘he is’ in Morse Code? (dit x 4, dit, dit x 2, dit x 3)
  7. What is ‘Tom’ in Morse Code? (dah, dah x 3, dah x 2)
  8. How would you translate the following code to English? “dit x 4, dit x 2, dahditdit, ditditdah,
  9. dahditdit, dit” (Hi dude!)

 Section 5 (5-16 – 5-23)
  1. Translate “base” into code. (dahditditdit, ditdah, dit x 3, dit)
  2. Translate “lake” into code. (ditdahditdit, ditdah, dahditdah, dit)
  3. What letter translates similarly to K? to L? (R and F)
  4. Write down a sentence and communicate it via code.

 Section 5 (5-24 – 5-32)
  1. Practice all ten of the numerals.
  2. How would you transmit your age in code? (answer will vary)
  3. Why do pilots carry flashlights and mirrors? (can be used to communicate)
  4. What is an advantage of radiotelegraph? (secrecy, greater distance, less interference)
  5. Why are cryptograms used in radio transmissions? (for secrecy)
  6. How do you say your name in the phonetic alphabet? (answer will vary)
  7. What are the three parts of a message? (call sign of receiver, phrase, call sign of transmitter)
  8. What does “wilco” mean? (will carry out orders)
  9. What does the control tower tell the pilot? (wind direction and velocity, runway conditions, special instructions, taxi and takeoff clearance, field altitude, correct time)

 Section 6 (6-1 – 6-5)
  1. What is lift? (the force that causes something to go off the ground)
  2. What are the leading and trailing edges? (leading = front, rounded part of wing; trailing = back, sharp part of wing)
  3. Why is speed important to lift? (when the air is moving quickly, it creates vacuum at top of wing)
  4. How much lift is required to fly straight and level? (same amount as gravity / more lift = climb / more gravity = descend)
  5. What is thrust? (force pulling airplane through air)
  6. When does and airplane need more thrust? (take off and climbing)
  7. How much thrust is needed to fly straight and level? (same amount as drag)
  8. What are the four forces of flight? (thrust, lift, drag, weight)

 Section 6 (6-6 – 6-10)
  1. What are the axes of rotation? (pitch, yaw, and roll)
  2. What helps to stabilize the axis of yaw? (rudder)
  3. What do the elevators do? (control axis of pitch)
  4. The ailerons control which axis? (roll)
  5. Using a homemade paper or balsa wood plane, demonstrate the three axes.
  6. What are trim tabs used for? (to help balance forces on controls so planes fly level without hands on controls)

 Section 6 (6-11 – 6-13)
  1. Why is metal better than wood? (stronger, and not deteriorate as fast)
  2. What is the fuselage? (body of plane; houses people and cargo)
  3. What are the three wing parts? (tip, center section, wing section)
  4. What is the braced stressed-skin wing designed for? (absorb shock for smoother flight)
  5. What must you first learn to do to fly? (taxi / take-off and land)
  6. What is it important to land straight? (landing gear can’t hold side loads)
  7. Why is the tricycle gear better? (tracks straight upon landing)

 Section 6 (6-14 – 6-18)
  1. What is the most important instrument? (magnetic compass)
  2. Where does the compass work best? (equator)
  3. What does the altimeter do? (show height above sea level)
  4. The airspeed indicator should stay between the maximum allowable speed and what? (stalling speed)
  5. If the airspeed indicator says 200mph, and you are flying at 20,000 feet, how fast are you really going? (274 mph)

 Section 6 (6-19 – 6-24)
  1. Describe the four cycles of the four-stroke engine. (see book)
  2. What should pilots check before every take-off? (ignition or magneto check)
  3. What is efficient about the radial engine? (one 360 crankshaft, less weight, and fewer moving parts)
  4. What does the tachometer indicate? (speed of engine crankshaft)
  5. Why should pilots check oil temperature gauge before taking off? (engines must be warmed up before taking off)
  6. What should be minimum preflight check? (start engine, get oil warmed up, check gauge, use brake lock to check tachometer, check both ignition systems)

Section 7 (7-1 – 7-5)
  1. What is the study of weather called? (meteorology)
  2. What are the three layers of the atmosphere? (troposphere, stratosphere, ionosphere)
  3. Which region is closely related to weather? (troposphere)
  4. Which gas is the atmosphere primarily composed of? (nitrogen)
  5. Is the air usually humid in hot or cold weather? (hot)
  6. After a humid day, dew will form on grass overnight. Why? (saturation point is lowered when temperature lowers at night)
  7. What are the two temperature scales? (farenheit and celcius)
  8. How much does the temperature change for every 1,000 feet ascent? (-55 F)

 Section 7 (7-6 -7-10)
  1. Does the temperature drop consistently with ascent? (no)
  2. What is ‘standard air’ at sea level? (29.92” at 15 C)
  3. Does pressure rise or fall when you ascend? (fall)
  4. Why is it harder to breathe at higher altitudes? (less oxygen and nitrogen in air / less density because less pressure)
  5. What are the three main factors of weather? (temperature, pressure, moisture)
  6. Why are convection currents important to pilots? (turbulence)
  7. What affects wind currents? (earth rotation, storms, land and sea, uneven surfaces)
  8. If the pressure in area A is very high, and the pressure in area B is very very low, how fast or slow will the wind be? (fast)
  9. High winds would be expected when isobars are _________. (close together)
  10. If wind velocity is 20mph, describe it using the Beaufort scale. (fresh breeze – trees sway)

 Section 7 (7-11 – 7-20)
  1. How and when does fog form? (at night, air cools with contact to ground and becomes saturated)
  2. When might a pilot experience fog? (when temperature and dew point are close together)
  3. How can clouds help an aviator? (they tell changes in atmosphere)
  4. What is the difference between stratiform and cumuliform clouds? (S=lines of clouds / C=lumps and forms)
  5. Which clouds are highest? (cirrus)
  6. What do cirrus clouds indicate? (bad weather is coming)
  7. Why might stratocumulus clouds be dangerous to a pilot? (ice may accumulate on wings)
  8. Which clouds are known as ‘thunderheads?’ (cumulus)
  9. How is air stability determined? (by measuring rate temperature decrease with altitude)
  10. Does cold air rise or sink? (sink because weighs more)
  11. Which air mass is hot, dry, and unstable? (tropical continental)
  12. What happens when cold and warm fronts meet? (unstable weather)
  13. Name four items that are on a pilot’s weather report? (see book)

 Section 8 (8-1 – 8-5)
  1. What happens to oxygen at high altitudes, and how does it affect the body? (less oxygen lowers the physical and mental efficiency)
  2. What is anoxia? (thinking less clearly and reacting slowly because of less oxygen in the brain)
  3. Above 20,000 feet, what happens to the body? (lose consciousness ; death)
  4. How does air pressure change affect the stomach and ears? (expands gases = stomach pains ; ears popping from air moving in / out)
  5. What is easier to physically withstand – positive or negative G force? (positive)
  6. What organ gives you a sense of balance? (inner ear)
  7. What vitamin helps night vision, and how can you get it? (vitamin A – spinach, eggs, carrots, greens)

 Section 8 (8-6 – 8-14)
  1. Practice treating the ten types of First Aid shown.
  2. If you are 61” tall, can you hold a job? Which one(s)? (aerial gunner and bombardier)
  3. What four factors are important to a pilot? (physical fitness, good eyesight, nutrition, and teeth)
  4. What is the most common cause of airplane accidents? (pilot failure)
  5. Half of all accidents happen during ________. (landing)
  6. What are the seat belt and shoulder harness used for? (keep you in the plane ; protect in case of crash)
  7. What should you always have when you fly? (parachute)
  8. Practice landing from a parachute jump.

 Section 9 (9-1 – 9-12)
  1. How many classes of airfields are there? (four)
  2. How high can you be two miles away for a Class I field? (350 feet)
  3. Why shouldn’t airfields have steep grades? (hard to judge landings)
  4. What do runway numbers indicate? (compass bearings = # x 10)
  5. Why shouldn’t floodlight glare? (they’ll blind pilots)
  6. How are obstructions marked at night? (red lights)
  7. Where are small hangars used? (Class I and Class II airfields)
  8. Which airfield position would you like to hold? Why?
  9. Which direction should you circle for landing? (on the left)
  10. What does flashing red and green lights mean? (emergency)
  11. Why and when should you tie down aircraft? (if winds are over 20mph, to keep from blowing around)

 Section 9 (9-13 – 9-24)
  1. How do signalmen communicate in the dark? (flashlights)
  2. What three inspections are frequently done? (daily, preflight, postflight)
  3. What is done every 1,000 to 5,000 flying hours? (engine removed for overhaul)
  4. What does the crew chief use red tags for? (marking what is being repaired)
  5. What seven things are checked on the airplane daily? (engine, wings, tail, landing gear, fuselage, propeller, warm up)
  6. What should be checked while the engine is warming up? (instruments)
  7. Why shouldn’t you leave airplanes near a gas tank? (static can cause a fire)
  8. What is the critical time period after a fire? (first 60 seconds)
  9. What is the first thing you should do at a crash site? (remove all air crew members)
  10. Should you mess with a crashed plane’s electrical system? (yes – it should be electrically grounded)
  11. Why shouldn’t you move a crashed airplane, and when would it be acceptable? (a broken wire could start a fire or explosion; if necessary to save a crewman)

 Section 10 (10-1 – 10-12)
  1. What three things does the airman want in a travel route? (safe, quick, short)
  2. What is the most common aeronautical chart? (Lambert Conformal sectional chart)
  3. What is the scale of sectionals in the book? (1” = 8 miles)
  4. What two coordinates do you need to find an accurate position? (latitude and longitude)
  5. What do contour lines indicate? (altitude of land)
  6. Using the markers, make a hand drawn map of your town. Mark the landmarks.
  7. What is a restricted area? (must maintain minimum altitude over it)

 Section 10 (10-13 – 10-28)
  1. How is direction measured? (degrees from true north)
  2. What should you do when measuring a westward course? (add 180 to the direction)
  3. What causes variation? (magnetic and geographic north pole are different)
  4. How many degrees longitude does each time zone cover? (fifteen)
  5. Where is the zero meridian? (Greenwich, England)
  6. If it is Sunday, and you fly west over the date line, what day does it become? (Monday)
  7. Why do you want to reach your destination in daylight? (so you don’t have to land in the dark)
  8. What is the difference between airspeed and groundspeed? (A=speed travelling through the air; G=speed travelling on the ground)
  9. What is a course with a wind correction? (heading)
  10. Chart your course through Oklahoma with the E6-B.
We hope that your budding aviator enjoys working through this project!