Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monarch Examples

I'm hesitant to call this a Monarch review (it is not all-inclusive), but I thought our readers would appreciate seeing some examples of our Monarch schoolwork.

Also, I know I have some readers who are skeptical about our homeschool work (you know who you are), and probably curious about our lessons.

If you look at these images carefully, you might see they are screenshots from my iPad. That is deceiving: Monarch actually doesn't work on tablets. Unfortunately. I can see some of the work, but if there are any instructional videos, those require flash player. Also, I can't see the sidebar on my iPad that would allow me to scroll up and down.

We are able to use macs for Monarch, but not iPads. I just used my iPad here, since it was so easy to take a screenshot on it.

This first image above is from 9th grade World Geography lesson, third page of the lesson. I am logged in as a teacher, so you, the reader, can see the correct answer to problem one. All regular lessons have problems to do in the end, so you can see if the student understood what they learned. They have access to the lesson material as they answer the problems. Also, the lessons and problems can be printed, if you or your students would prefer paper and pencil.

I'm not sure what the percentage is, but I think about 90% of the problems are automatically graded by the computer. The rest I give the grade to, thanks to the teacher answer keys included on every problem in the teacher's version. Very efficient!

The lessons are a lot of reading for the student. In addition to reading through the material, there are movie clips, animations, learning games, audio clips, and web-related links to enrich the lesson.

If there happens to be a bug or a mistake in the lesson or problems (rare these days, more common in the early days of Monarch), there is a way to submit feedback on every page. I love that feature.

This second image shows some of the teacher features. Monarch has fantastic admin choices. I can remove a problem, or a lesson, or even an entire unit. There are all kinds of essays, projects and experiments I can keep or remove. Or I can block the rest of the lessons until something is finished.

Monarch has a calendar where every school day has it's work scheduled. You can go by it, or advance at your own pace, and ignore the calendar. I can take a day off, for a field trip for instance, or schedule a vacation week, then reschedule the remaining lessons for the rest of the school year. I can even change the last day of school. Or I can go by the set school calendar. It is super user friendly and flexible. Love that.

In the messages section I could communicate with my students, although we never use that.

Every school day on my firefox browser I have three Monarch tabs open. One has Assigned Work open (what you see above). What I cut off was the left side, that has my four 9th graders' work listed. If anyone needs help, I can go directly into their lesson and see the teacher version, or my student's work under 'Review Student Work'. The next tab I have open is the 'Reports' tab where I can generate a report. This page has a way for me to see any day's work, or generate report cards, etc. I usually keep open the 'Daily Work Report' to see what work my students have accomplished that day. Love checking throughout the day to see how my students are doing.

I can also adjust the settings on what is considered an A, how many tries the student has on any problems or quizzes, what Bible version is being used, etc. Monarch is super customizable. Love that, too.

Here is also an example of one of our electives: Small Business Entrepreneurship. So far I have been very satisfied with it as our fall elective. There are great projects that make the student think hard about successful businesses. I've really enjoyed reading my students' thoughts on the subject.

We have been quite happy with Monarch as our homeschool curriculum. This is our fourth year of using it (after using SOS for our first year). Monarch has a full curriculum for grades 3-12, or you can pick one or more subjects. It is all geared toward independent learning, which is very important to our family. Your subscription is for 18 months, and everything is stored online, so you and your students can do school wherever they are, all you need is an internet connection and your log-in.

Alpha Omega Publications has a sale going on right now: Now through Oct. 31, get 5% off any order, or 10% off and free shipping on orders over $100. Call 800-811-8066 and mention the Fall Catch-All sale to save on Monarch or their other products.

If you have any questions, email us, or leave us a comment, and we would be happy to try to answer your questions.

Happy Homeschooling!

Alpha Omega Publications is a sponsors of Our Mothership Adventures. We have been given free curriculum in exchange of our honest reviews. You can read our disclosure here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bon Voyage, Little Loggerhead Babes/Kilpparit matkaan


Last night, the Captain and I noticed something was going on up ahead at the last turtle nest on St Pete Beach here in Florida. Guessing right away the turtles were hatching, we picked up the pace and were able to witness eleven loggerhead turtles being released into the Gulf of Mexico.


These turtles needed some help. Water had washed up over the nest a couple of times, and since it had been over two months since the eggs were laid, the turtle watch volunteers decided to dig up the eggs to see what was going on.

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Good thing they did. Most of the eggs had not developed (due to the temperatures of their nest), and since getting out of their sandy hole is a group effort, the few live turtle babies most likely would have never been able to dig out by themselves.

Eleven two-inch hatchlings were found, and placed in a cooler, while one of the volunteers kept digging and checking for eggs. The eggs lined up are the ones that didn't make it.

The female loggerhead lays up to 120 eggs in a three-foot cavity she prepares one night. We found out she does this three or four times in one nesting season! The nesting season is from May through August, and hatching season lasts until end of October. Florida has most of the loggerheads in United States.

During hatching season volunteers check the beach in the early morning hours for turtle tracks, and when they find tracks (mama turtle can weigh about 350 pounds pregnant!) and identify a nest, they cover the area with stakes and tape, sometimes with a cage as well.

Loggerhead turtles are an endangered species and protected under Florida Law. One estimate is one in every 1000 hatchlings will grow to maturity.

You can read more about loggerhead turtles here and here.

It is very hard to see - I didn't have my camera, only my cell phone, and this was after sunset, so the photos didn't turn out very clear.

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Here they go! Bon Voyage, little loggerheads! We hope you make it to adulthood, and have lots of great adventures:)

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And a huge thank you to all the volunteers for your hard work! Thank you for answering our questions, too:)

This short video clip is quite dark, but if you look carefully you can see at least two hatchlings making it to water. Link here.


Eilen iltakävelyllä Kapteeni ja minä saimme kokea jotain todella ihmeellistä ja ihanaa: vapaaehtoiset pelastivat yksitoista merikilpikonnavauvaa hiekkaisesta pesästään, ja päästivät vapaaksi mereen. He olivat pitäneet silmällä tätä pesää, ja kun yli kaksi kuukautta oli kulunut, ja selvästi näki, että pesä oli kastunut ainakin kahteen otteeseen, he eilen päättivät kaivaa pesän auki. Suurin osa kilpikonnan munista eivät olleet kehittyneet, mutta yksitoista selvisi! Oli ihan uskomaton nähdä nämä pikkiriikkiset otukset, ja heidän polkunsa mereen ja vapauteen. Hyvää matkaa pikkuiset!

Friday, October 11, 2013

2nd Grade Dew Learning Review


Little Miss and I have been using Dew Learning full-year Second Grade subscription for about a month now, so I decided it is time for an early review of the curriculum. Some of you have been asking for it on our Facebook page, and I know I have been promising this for a while now..

In case you haven't heard of Dew Learning, it is a brand new online Christian homeschool curriculum developed for the iPad, Mac and PC. (We even used my iPhone this week for one lesson, but I am getting ahead of myself here...) This year grades K-4 are available, and next year grades 5-8 will launch, also (and upper grades will follow next). The full-year subscription has eight core subjects: Bible, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music and Health/PE.

Many of the lessons have video clips and white board instruction to supplement the written lesson, and at the end of each lesson there is "Dew It" problems for the student to answer. You can also print PDF worksheets and spelling lists.

Since Dew curriculum is online, students' work stays saved securely on their servers, and you can access it from any device as long as you have internet, and whenever you want to, 24/7.

A pretty perfect set-up for our traveling family!


This was our classroom on Thursday for one lesson. After we had finished Bible, Language Arts and Math home, we took a break to walk on the beach.

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It was so nice outside I started thinking: "It would be great to finish school out here..." Then realized we can! I had my iPhone with me, and was able to access our Health/PE lesson right then and there!!

I have been so impressed with Dew Health/PE curriculum. We have been learning about staying healthy by exercising right, eating healthy foods, getting our rest, having good hygiene, obeying safety rules and by having a relationship with God. Every lesson comes with a exercise video, which is really good, and challenging!

I have to be honest here, and confess that Little Miss and I have only done one exercise video, even though they really are great. Believe it or not, the reason is Little Miss doesn't want to! I'm not sure why not, but I haven't pushed them (yet), since she is so active every day anyway. I am hoping to try again later, as I would certainly benefit from them {smile}.

I took these two screen shots of our lesson. They look a bit different on a bigger screen, but the lesson certainly was doable on the phone as well.


We stayed at the beach a bit longer, then went back home to finish our school day by doing our Art and Music lessons.

Art is pretty cool, our lessons are a mixture of learning about the techniques and art history, as well as art projects. (I do need to give feedback to Dew about including pictures of the completed projects, as there was this one salt dough owl project that didn't turn out quite I thought it would after reading the instructions...!?!?) So far Art has been Little Miss' favorite subject.

Music has been fun, too. We are learning about notes, rhythm, and also about music in our Social Studies countries like South Africa and Australia. Mama is learning right along side Little Miss. Social Studies might just be my favorite subject. It has been very interesting to talk about different cultures with Little Miss.


Dew Learning curriculum has been a great fit for us, overall. I love how every single subject and every single lesson point back to Jesus. We want to have good language skills to share about the gospel, we want to have healthy bodies to have the joy and energy to serve Jesus and others, and so on.

It reminds me of our favorite children's Bible, The Storybook Bible - Every Story Whispers His Name. (We have recently found another favorite for older kids: The Action Bible, but that is another blog post.)


In our Bible lessons we have been going through the story of Moses. I have been completely happy with the lessons. Math, also. It is different from the way I learned way back when in Finland, but I like it. With our teens we didn't start homeschooling until fifth grade, so this all is new territory for me.


In Science our last lesson was about cells. Here you can see the whole scope and sequence of 2nd Grade Science.


Language Arts we struggle in. I think Little Miss is somewhat behind in LA, as we did K and 1st grade LA last year. So we pick and choose what we do in Dew LA this year, and supplement with some 1st grade material. I would be interested in hearing what other Dew users think of 2nd grade LA, and I am waiting on a response from Dew as well (emailed them yesterday). 

I do wonder if we should switch to Dew 1st grade Language Arts?

***Update - I already heard back, wow!! I get to take a look at the First Grade LA curriculum to see if that would be a better fit. Impressive, Dew Learning:) Thank you!!!


The Dew Curriculum is still under development. There are features that have not been implemented yet, which I believe will make the curriculum even more awesome, like the option to download five lessons to work offline.

I have also given feedback on having the voice option for higher grade lessons, as well. Currently it is only for K and 1st grade lessons.

I would also like to see a calendar, and a way for the teacher to unassign lessons.

It is still a bit bare bones. I am okay with that, and can wait for the upgrades, since overall I like Dew Curriculum so much. We have been with AOP Monarch since day one, too, and over time they managed to fix the various issues and bugs they had that first year.

We homeschool moms rock on with the whole patience thing {wink}.


Since there is no calendar option (yet), we made our own lesson schedule. Dew is set up for a five day week, but since we attend homeschool co-op on Fridays, we are on a four day schedule at the moment. We do Bible, Language Arts and Math every day. On Mondays and Wednesdays we do Science and Social Studies, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we do Art, Music and Health/PE.

Our typical day starts by 9 am, and some days we are done before lunch, and some days we finish our day in the early afternoon. Of course our PE is often swimming in the ocean, so that adds a bit to our day:)

Little Miss and I do all lessons together. Occasionally she'll listen to a video without me, but she is not reading fluently enough to do the lessons on her own yet.

Dew Learning has a great customer satisfaction policy. If you are not happy, Dew Learning will offer a full 12-month 100% money-back guarantee. They also have multiple child discounts that are fantastic! You can shop their products here. I believe we have an active 40% off discount code for you to use: ourmothershipadventures. Do let us know if that doesn't work for you.

Dew Learning is one of Our Mothership Adventures sponsors and have provided us with this curriculum for review purposes. All opinions are entirely our own. Thank you, Dew Learning!  
Here is our full disclosure policy.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Field Trip Week/Luokkaretkiviikko

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What a week!!! I think we gave a whole new meaning to the term "homeschooling" this week. We were barely home! It was a fantastic week of learning, fun and friends. {And this week we will sleep.}

On Monday we met friends at Legoland, and despite the doubting expressions on the first photo, it was a great day. We had never been to Legoland before despite the boys being huge lego fans when they were younger (I can't believe that phase is pretty much over now - they built with legos for years..). At regular prices our family would have had to pay close to $550 for one day, not including the water park admission. Yikes! Thankfully Legoland has homeschool days, so we paid $86 for the whole day (for the six of us - the Captain had to work). And that included parking, and a locker rental, since we brought our own lunch and drinks. Score!!

We knew the park is geared toward younger kids, so having that expectation helped everyone have a good time. The boys explored the park on their own all day. We (us girls) hang out with friends some, explored the park on our own some, and Little Miss and I ended up taking a wild roller coaster ride, too. Terrible! Whee!!!!

Missy wasn't feeling well, so we ended up leaving early. Still, what a fun, full, exhausting day, lol.

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we recovered from our Legoland day. I was so tired Little Miss ended up doing most of her school on mama's bed. Of course we had to go swim for PE.

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On Wednesday morning we were able to get school work done, too. After lunch Little Miss and I dropped two boys off at film making class, and did not only one, but two field trips during class!

We first visited Sunken Gardens, talked to the birds, saw flamingos, enjoyed the lush gardens, until we saw a snake freely roaming around, and then decided to go visit Great Explorations children's museum. No pictures from there, but we had a great time playing, and actually plan to go back next week.

On Wednesday our teens also attended youth group, and the Captain, Little Miss and I attended Prayer and Praise service at church.

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Thursday morning we packed up our crew again, and headed to Tampa. Florida Aquarium had a $5 homeschool day, so naturally we had to take advantage of that (normally around $20/ticket). Met a lot of homeschool friends there, too.

It was well done, there were tanks with sharks, sting rays, and all kinds of various sea creatures, but they also had a Wetlands Trail, exhibiting native fish, snakes, alligators, turtles and river otters that live in Florida's freshwater rivers and swamps.


Fridays are are homeschool co-op days. We get up early, and enjoy beautiful sunrise colors as we drive to our church for classes.

This Friday I attended a class, also. Information on dual enrollment - high school and college for high school years. A lot of great info, a lot to digest. The Captain and I went on a date to go over some of our options. Would we need to settle down for a bit, or will we find a way to continue our travels, and still do dual enrollment? Praying for wisdom..


By Saturday morning I was ready to hibernate a month, but dragged myself out of bed. We had decided to go back to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter, before CMA closes for filming of the sequal.

So glad we went!

Since our last time, they have had changes: Panama passed away, and Winter and Hope were moved to different tanks (maybe their older ones, now remodeled?). You could see them so much better now. We happened to be there during training, which was very fascinating. Here is a short video.


In the first photo Winter doesn't have her prosthesis, but in this middle one she is having a training session with her prosthetic tail. You can see a video clip here.


And in this last photo her tail is off again, and she is given a reward of fish - not herring though, we learned she really doesn't care for herring:)

The Captain and Mr. A joined Little Miss and I this time. We did the behind the scenes tour, again. What a great place!

After CMA we headed to church for Saturday night worship service. Today, Sunday, we have already been to the beach, and once I hit 'publish', we'll head back out there for a second swim! Having a quiet day feels so good after such a busy week.


Meillä on todella aktiivinen viikko takana. Maanantaina kävimme Legolandissa, keskiviikkona Sunken Garden-puutarhassa, lastenmuseossa, sekä kirkossa. Torstaina kävimme Tampan akvaariossa, perjantaina oli kirkossa ryhmäopetusta kotikoululaisille (sekä yksi oppitunti vanhemmille lukio/yliopisto-opinnoista), me vanhemmat pääsimme treffeille myös. Eilen kävimme katsomassa Winter-delfiiniä taas, ja iltakirkossa. Tiistai ja tämä sunnuntai ovat meidän rauhallisempia kotipäiviä. Kiva viikko, mutta huh kun on poikki!! Ensi viikolla nukutaan:)