Monday, March 13

Counting Stars (One Republic)

If you've followed us for any length of time, you know that when there are airplanes or rockets nearby, we are there!  Our special needs son is just airplane-crazy...and we like to encourage his dreams (as we encourage everyone to dream) as much as possible.  Recently, we were close to the location of an air of course, we had to visit!
His dream job is to be the pilot on an air ambulance (hey - it takes all types, right?), so our very first stop on the pad was at that particular helicopter, where he peppered the pilots with questions!
A few more helicopters on our tour of the various machines, and we were able to climb aboard the air ambulance, too!  The Highway Patrol chopper pilot even explained how they track folks from the air.  Now...wasn't that nice of him?  Good to know, too!  😉
One of the first planes we had to inspect was the old WWII 'Lady Liberty.'  Interestingly enough, one of the dad's at our Boy Scout troop is the one that helped to rebuild this plane!  Seeing a stellar piece of flight history like this is pretty inspiring.
I tried, unsuccessfully, to get the boys to go skydiving with me...and then we saw how much the skydiving cost and decided that we would all go later.  So...helicopter rides instead!!
The helicopter flight gave us a new, bird's eye view of the city.  Since it was such a gorgeous day, the pilot had taken the doors off the chopper, which was a bit unsettling to brother (in the front seat), but he adjusted quickly.  It was just bee-you-tee-ful up there!!
Mid-morning, we took a break from the excitement and claimed a little piece of grass to call our own for the next hour or so of aviation aerobatics!
The National Anthem was sung as our American flag was brought down to earth by one of the skydivers!!
While we waited for the stunt show itself to get revved up, he looked around at the glider for sale, and we watched the veteran pilots do some formation flying.
First up was Kate Kyer, one of my personal aviation heroes.  If you can't get to an air show to see her work, then look it up on YouTube.  When you think about how hard this type of flying is on the body, it makes her performance even more transfixing!  The pictures don't really do it justice...
Airplanes here, airplanes there, airplanes airplanes everywhere!!!  Seriously...these stunt pilots had some awesome moves!
One of the highlights of his day was getting to meet the stunt pilot we had just seen zipping around in the sky!  He had lots of questions, and the guy was incredibly patient and sweet.
We rounded out his 'special day' with a late lunch at his favorite restaurant and a long walk down a dirt road.  Life is beautiful.  😎

Aviation Unit

Vocabulary Words
wind tunnel
air flow
air pressure
flight simulation
paper airplane
airplane surfaces
test pilot
military aircraft
aircraft design
Bernoulli's Principle
air resistance
Air Traffic Control
Peregrine Falcon
Venturi Effect
experimental aircraft
home built
cargo plane

More Aviation Units (full unit studies at each)

Tuesday, March 7

Eclectic Foundations Review

Some schools take a sight word approach to reading, while others take the classic phonics approach.  At Eclectic Foundations, the vintage McGuffey Readers form the base of a classic approach to language arts.  For the past few weeks, we have been using Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B with our youngest son, with good results!

About the Program
  • Currently available in three levels, this language arts program is available in either physical or downloadable format.
  • McGuffey Reader - Key words are learned and there are reading passages to work toward fluency.  This pairs with the phonics word cards, where students learn the parts of speech by coloring the words appropriately. (You can purchase this book, or it can be downloaded for free here.)
  • Phonics Cards - These are printed on cardstock and easily torn into word cards.  By coloring each word appropriately, the student learns about parts of speech.
  • Teacher's Guide - This outlines each day's lesson, covering the reading portion, phonics practice, handwriting, and grammar lessons.  Some days are longer than others.  (See Lesson 54, on right)
  • Student Workbook - There are poems for the student to read aloud, cursive instruction, copywork, and grammar practice in the pages of this book.
  • Phonics Practice Sheets - This spiral-bound book is made of laminated sheets for easy reuse.  Students practice writing the words they are learning in the phonics section.
  • You could feasibly skip the phonics portion and use a different program (if you already have one that you like) with the McGuffey section.
Our Experience 
We used this set with our younger son, who has his own struggles.  When you have a child with a hearing and speech disorder, it makes mastering phonics incredibly difficult.  After all, if you are hearing ‘A’ pronounced as ‘O,’ it’s going to be very difficult to learn how to spell those ‘A’ words.  So we generally have avoided teaching phonics and just gone straight for the sight word approach.  However, the phonics approach worked really well for him as long as he was able to correctly hear and say the vowel sound.  With those vowels, or other sounds, that he struggles to comprehend correctly, the phonics did not help.  Again, though, for those he could correctly identify, it increased his spelling ability tenfold!

While he could take or leave the McGuffey Reader (he’s more into airplanes and action these days), the passages were short enough that he did not get frustrated in reading them aloud.  Even though the difficulty continued to increase, the length stayed fairly short, and so they were manageable bits.  Also, he really enjoyed the write-on / wipe-off workbook because…he likes that sort of thing.

He struggled a lot with the cursive handwriting portion of this set, and I think it was because there were no cursive models.  At the top of the page, the letter of the day is written in cursive, but the words to copy are written in print.  He cannot translate from print to cursive, and so this made it impossible.  I ended up writing each of the day’s words in cursive and then having him copy those.
Pros :
  • It covers the basics, and lays a really strong foundation for later grammar and language arts skills.
  • It’s rigorous, and can be tailored up or down to ability.
  • Materials are spiral-bound for easy use.
  • It’s very affordable, and you can build on the supplies from previous sets.
Cons :
  • The McGuffey Reader doesn’t line up with the phonics lessons, so that can be a bit confusing.
  • Cursive handwriting workbook is modeled with print letters. 

Check out some sample lessons from Level B, and see what others are saying about Eclectic Foundations over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer