TOS Review - Middlebury Interactive Languages

What Is It:

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a company that offers online language classes in Spanish, Chinese, French, and German.  Middlebury started as a college language course that used immersion to teach language comprehension and to accelerate the speed that students became fluent.  Now Middlebury has altered this hugely successful method to make it work for students!

For this review, we were given a full semester (6 months worth) access to the Elementary Spanish 1 course.  This course is for students with little to no Spanish exposure, geared mostly towards kids in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.  The course is fully online and uses pictures, video, text, and real life experiences to help the student fully grasp the language.  The focus of this level was listening, speaking, writing, and reading basic Spanish.

An added bonus is that not only do students learn beginning Spanish, they also learn a lot about the cultures and myths and legends common in these cultures.  

You can either take the course with a teacher or without.  We tried out the option without one.  If you choose this option, there is a teacher section where you can view their progress.  If you do get the option with the teacher, you are able to get credits for the course.

How We Used It:

When I signed up for this review, I intended it to be for Josie.  However, after snooping around the website I decided that I wanted in too.  I took two years of Spanish in high school and only remember how to introduce myself and a few, very basic phrases.  I've wanted to learn more for quite some time and have zero shame sitting in on a second graders class to do it!

The program was simple to use.  On the days we had Spanish on the agenda, Josie would sit at the desk with her headphones and listen to the lesson.  The lessons were short and there wasn't much action required for her.  There is a feature where the student can speak into the microphone to test their pronunciation, but we didn't use this feature.

There are 35 units in the semester.  If you have the teacher option, the teacher sets the schedule.  If you are not using that feature, you can set the order.  Each unit has 6 lessons that cover colors, numbers, family, greetings, school and review.  There are videos in each that repeat to help the student learn the words.  These videos are only in Spanish.  I know that this is part of the immersion style of teaching, but Josie was frustrated by this.  She was able to pick up a couple words she was able to pick up, but for the most part, she couldn't figure out the stories.  There are scripts for the stories, but by the time I figured that out she was already frustrated. 

My Opinion:

I had high hopes for this program and while it was a colorful, user friendly website, it just didn't work for us. 

There wasn't much instruction, but more videos in Spanish repeated a few times.  I think the goal was for the kids to pick up on what the words were by watching (hence, the immersion part of the program).  This frustrated Josie since she couldn't figure out what they were saying.  I had her continue and she did learn a few words, but didn't enjoy it.

I've said this before, but Josie has a hard time with a lot of computer programs.  She just doesn't get into it, which results in opposition.  If you have a student that enjoys computer time, this very well may be a great program for them.  Immersion style learning has a huge success rate.  I think I would try this style again when she is a bit older.

Product Details:

Spanish Courses - $120
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Mobile Preschool

So it's no secret that I love Mother Goose Time.

Without it, Gabe wouldn't be getting any school time.  And honestly, he's 4 so that wouldn't really bother me, but after 4 comes 5 and we are planning to enroll him next year in the same enrichment school Josie goes to so he kind of needs to know some things*.  Like the difference between blue and yellow.

* forgive my excessive run on sentences.  yes, i homeschool and still can't get a handle on most grammar skills.

Mother Goose Time has been the perfect solution.  Little time from me needed with some major advances in his little brain.  My one problem has been all the awesomeness that comes each month and finding a place to put it.

Christy (you remember her, my almost Farm House neighbor?) is also using MGT and she came up with a fabulous idea for all the extra supplies and all that come in the box.  We are doing her exact plan.  So that left me with finding a way to use the Circle Time material without having to hang it up in my house.

I've told y'all before, I love homeschooling but do not love having school stuff all over the house.  It's just not my thing.  So when I saw someone use a tri-fold board to display the material, I was sold.

$3 and an episode of Law & Order later, I had a perfectly put away-able board to use with Gabe!

Each month, Gabe adds a new color bird and shape card to our board.  The flowers in his hand are his sight word and letter of the month cards.  The blank spot on the left hand side is where I clip the big letter card that we are working on that week.

It's working great for us! 

* we aren't using all of the circle time material.  i stink at doing calendar, so that's not on our board.  neither are the center labels, sign language chart, or weather tracker items.  i only added what i knew we would use.  just wanted to let you know that there is even more great stuff than this!


Fair's Fair

I grew up in Minnesota, Home of 10,000 Lakes and The World's Greatest State Fair.

Every year I looked forward to the giant slide, the corn dogs, the roasted corn, Sweet Martha's Cookies (Bonnie, who is your hook up and how do I get included on that delivery list?).  That fair was the best.  We've made it back home for the fair a couple of times, but I've been seriously missing a good fair.

When I found out that the Arizona State Fair was right by Minnesota's on the Top 10 State Fair list, I knew we had to go.  And this week, I got my fix. 

Oh man.  It was a good, good day.

Post Fair Review:  Not as good as the Minnesota State Fair.  Too much breading on the corn dogs and not nearly as much to do.  BUT, the kids had a ton of fun getting to play games and ride the rides so it was an overall success.  Just keeping "Go Back To Minnesota In August For The Fair" on my list for 2015.


Bits & Pieces

Can you believe October is half over?

I'm a bit excited because the end of October signifies some fun stuff for us.  Not only do I get to eat all my kid's Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, but I've been promised that Halloween is when the weather starts staying perfectly perfect.  Oh yea, and it's when my family starts rolling into Arizona for the Winter!  I may be scheming ways to be with them every day without wearing out my welcome.

Anyways, we are headed to the state fair today and I'm planning to do a lot of eating.  So while I go find my stretchy pants, here some bits and pieces of life from this past week.

It's been gorgeous here.

Last week we had one day in the high 90's, but since then it's been high 80's to low 90's with no humidity and a wonderful breeze.  Not quite the Fall of our past, but I've been able to leave the air off and the windows open so I'll take it.  It's funny how fast we all forgot the grossness of Arizona Summer once it went away.

Let us commence the next 7 months living outside.

josie's jeans and long sleeves are totally unnecessary.  it's cooling off, but not that much.

Need a good devotional?

I bought this one after reading "Give Them Grace" and it's a great one.  We have been reading one of the stories and questions during breakfast each day.  It's quick and to the point and perfect for young elementary kids.  Gabe answers every question with random facts about football, but God's word never comes back void, so I guess he's still getting something out of it, amiright?!

School and sensory tubs and doors open and clown suits. 

These are a few of my favorite things.

Fall is for baking.

This day it was whole wheat pancakes.  With chocolate chips.  Because life is about balance.  Last night I ordered a whole wheat bun on my bacon cheeseburger and the server audibly laughed at my refusal of a white bun.  Listen dude, I get it but it makes me feel better so lay off.

I want to be a mom that encourages her children to play music.

Really I do.  But this thing is loud.  Maybe lessons outside the home are more my speed.

Gabe had his first appointment with his new cardiologist yesterday.

I hate change and this office did things a bit different.  Nothing major, just little things like putting the EKG stickers in different spots.  I'm sure that has no bearing on the results, but it made me miss our old doctors.

Most of my nitpicking ended pretty fast when a big, beautiful 100 popped up on the pulse ox monitor.  I know a lot of you don't get what that means to us, but before Gabe's last heart surgery, he never, ever, ever hit about 86 on his Oxygen levels.  So a full, normal 100 was exciting!  The Fontan is working!

The ECHO showed that his heart function (his heart has always had trouble fully squeezing with each pump) is improving.  That was also pretty exciting.  This new cardiologist was awesome about explaining things to me.  He had me sit right next to him as he looked over the ECHO shots and showed me what everything was we were looking at.  I've been a Heart Mom for 4 years now and I've never understood what's going on in his heart as much as I do now.  I'm thinking this doctor is going to be good for us.

We celebrated with Subway.  I keep trying to convince him to step up his game when I say we can eat wherever he wants, but Subway is his jam.

The only hiccup in our appointment was that Gabe still has a Junctional Rhythm.

In extreme layman's terms, that means the electric waves in his heart don't follow the path they are supposed to which can lead to some yucky stuff, including the need for a pacemaker.  We learned he had this a couple of years ago, but it was minor enough that no action was needed.  Our new doctor doesn't feel like it's any reason for concern, but wanted to get a good baseline reading so he sent us home with a 24 hour Holter Monitor.

Basically, he hooked Gabe up to a mobile EKG machine and handed him a cell phone that transmits the data back to a monitoring service.  As you can see, Gabe is pretty stoked about his new phone.

sometimes i look at my phone like this too.

We did this when Gabe was 2 (minus the cell phone) and I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did not messing with the wires and transmitters, but was skeptical about how it would go this go round.  But he's doing awesome.  He's pretty proud of it and checks his phone for "twext massages" on the regular.  He even wore it at t-ball last night.

I'm expecting the results to be perfectly fine and we will resume life as usual.

Time to head to the fair!  

Have a good Wednesday friends!