Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasonal Doings: Home Decorating

Aren't there some things that you remember your family putting out every year that brings back that feeling of home? Our children love decorating the Christmas tree and helping put the lights up and all of that fun stuff that comes with the seasonal decorating. I try to recount the memories behind as many as possible each time we do it so that they will remember why things are special traditions to our family. We have a great time!!
These are a few of the more adult decorations we have enjoyed this year:

I cannot take credit for this, it was my mother-in-law's idea last year and I just added to it this year. But, I love it! It give my dining a festive look and helps to take the focus off of the school stuff that has usually taken over the space, walls and table--at once!

This is our small Christmas tree upstairs. You will notice the one blueish ball--that's my husband's Dallas Cowboys ornament which holds the same station on our tree and has done so for at least 10 years.

This quilt is a precious treasure! My mother quilted this for my in Christmas 2007. It is just beautiful and hangs in our foyer. Each block represents one of the "days of Christmas".
This, too, is an arrangement my mother-in-law put together for me. She has quite an eye for that sort of thing and I so do not. So, I leave those things to the professionals.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More on Teeth

With all the snow we've been having, running otu to gather supplies was not on my list. So, I made my own play dough. That was actually kinda fun. A project--just for Me!
Anyway, I had the children to make models of their teeth when studying the anatomy of a tooth.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

In Our Homeschool....Teeth and the Tooth Fairy

Now, I'm so sure that this must only be of interest to a very slight few……but we have had quite a few teeth flying around our house for the last, oh, say 5 years!! This was an easy and fun unit to do since we only had a few legitimate school days until we are done for the year.

Even taking plenty of snow breaks, we were able to finish it in about four days. We learned soo much about teeth and the customs that other countries hold with regard to children losing their teeth. It was very, very interesting. If you read the books in order and do the lessons in relatively close order of how they are presented, it comes together nicely. This study is FREE from Homeschool Share!

First, we started our days with Geography. There was sooo much geography involved that we had to break it up and do some map searches every day. I printed out these little clipart pieces and the children would hunt for the places I called out. For the 7 yr old, I provided the continent as well as the country. The olders had to search a bit before I would give them the continent.

We did the egg/vinegar/soda experiment. All through the day, the kids couldn't help but to walk by and touch or dunk the egg back down into the vinegar. :) The egg in the soda sank and stayed there. But the one in vinegar dipped and danced a little.

We have now posted charts for every single child and they have been diligently checking off when their dental duty is done!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snow Break!!

Well, what do you expect?

Even motorcycles have fun in the snow!
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Seasonal Doings: Five in a Row Ornament Exchange

We began our homeschool journey 6 years ago, using literature based unit studies from Five in a Row.  The forums there are fabulous and each year, there is an ornament exchange.  I have only participated the last three years, but we have quite the collection, as you can see.  Many of the ornaments symbolize a favorite book that is included in Five in a Row, although some do not.  I have been using this wreath to hang our ornaments on, but it's looking like next year, we'll have to have a separate Five in a Row tree.  Lots of fun memories here!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thrifty Re-do: Terry Bathtowel---Swiffer Towels

I've never claimed to be green or crunchy or any of those things...but I have been being accused of it more and more lately. I am just one who uses what she has to serve the purpose at hand. So, this was the problem: the floor was so bad I couldn't stand it any longer. It seemed unthinkable at the time to load up the crew to head to the store for only a few things. Baby wipes would have taken too long and my back didn't seem excited about the hands-n-knees method. So, off I went to scrounge around in my sewing room (AKA: dumping ground). And, once again, voila'! these are not cute. They are actually unsightly at this point, but they work. And they wash. And they go again. And I don't have to add it to my grocery list, either! After more than 40 washes, I'm sure, these are still workin' out for me.

I just took the old towel that had been sentenced to the rag bin and cut it up into 9 X 14 rectangles and there you have it! Do you know how many of these you can get out of one old towel????


They stay in a basket near the cleaning stuff and are just referred to as 'cleaning cloths.' That is because we use them for many other things and they wash just as well. No glass cleaning wipes or any other of the style of cleaning products. They are good for dusting, windows/glass, general stuff such as cabinets and baseboards, etc. But, we only use one per job. After a use, they go in the wash basket. We don't mix cleaners !

Just a thrifty note for ya!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Seasonal Doings: Gingerbread House

We have the niftiest little homeschool group over here in our neck of the woods. We have a few 'already' friends and even met some new folks. Our group leader organized a gingerbread house decorating party at her house and we had a wonderful time. My crew is pleased to present our creation:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TOS Review: Download ‘N’ Go Creation Camouflage

TOS Review: Download 'N' Go Creation Camouflage
Creation Camouflage: The study is in e-book format and very simple to use. The only preparation required is to search out optional library books to read along during the week for enrichment. This already contains in-depth studies in every subject in this lineup:

Day 1: Hiding in Plain Sight

Day 2: Getting to Know the Rain Forest

Day 3: What Is in the Desert?

Day 4: Hiding in the Ocean

Day 5: Cool Things About the Tundra

This study is recommended for grades K – 4 but I feel confident that my 5th grader would do quite well with the study presenting it as-is, or even independently.

Download 'N' Go Creation Camouflage is chock full of great stuff on many impressive creatures. But, that's not all it covers. I was pleasantly surprised that all of the subject areas were covered.   There wasn't anything for me to add in or have to pull together to supplement.  Download 'N' Go studies make it effortless to inspire my children and feel confident that they are learning. It's almost too easy with this unit. This unit is a stand-alone core study, but I couldn't help but to notice how many other paths of study you could cover using this unit as a springboard. Creation Camouflage makes it quite simple to focus on biomes, ecosystems and even geography. I immediately thought of the related Scriptures for each day being a good opportunity for copywork. There are several conservationists' biographies that would make excellent topics for deeper research studies for older children as well as read alouds. The possibilities are endless with this unit!

If you'd like to read more reviews from other homeschool parents, click
here and see what they think of Download 'N' Go Creation Camouflage.

Disclaimer: A copy of this unit study was provided for my use in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Molly’s Money Saving Digest - November

The November, 2010 issue of Molly's Money Saving Digest, was just in time to get my wheels turning about the important things of the holiday season. I am already in thinking and planning mode so that my family has a rich holiday season. Many of the articles and helpful hints had not even crossed my mind yet for this year. But, they are a gentle reminder to me of how to create a festive atmosphere in my home and in my heart.
For my kitchen, there were wonderful recipes, complete with the shopping list to go with them (can you say, timesaver!) If you are new or interested in freezer cooking, there's a dash of that thrown in, too. It isn't all about me, though. I was encouraged with all the information on manners and etiquette for children. Place settings and being a gracious, welcomed guest don't come easy to our little ones. We have to train them in this, too. I do not know if my children will attend a formal dinner party this season, but they can be attend right here at home. Tea time would be a great time to work on this, I think. To invite my family to my table and see their hearts and eyes gleaming with celebratory peace this season.
I am a list person and enjoy organization. Lots of things in this issue called out to me. As many homeschooling mothers would be, the list of important dates to remember this month inspired me to think about potential unit study ideas. And the poem on the first few pages stood out to me as potential copywork and/or memorization exercise right at my fingertips. But, I can't help myself with those types of things, they just come to mind without my giving permission. There is also plenty of organization, decluttering and other ideas that make it so easy to take the lead in creating a masterful celebration of the seasons approaching. I tried my hand at beautifying my table:

(Disclaimer: I inherited none of the interior decorating gene)
Yes, there's financial encouragement and frugal ideas abound. There are plenty of inks and ideas. However, I felt the most value was in turning my heart and hands' work toward my home and those within the walls. It helped me to think of the many things I file away in my "to do" folder in my mind. Molly was a reminder to bring them forth for my family to join in with me to celebrate this time of this year.

I was provided the November 2010 issue of Molly's Money-Saving Digest, in exchange for my review.

Monday, October 25, 2010

TOS Review: Download 'N' Go: Terrific Tigers Review and Giveaway


Terrific Tigers: The study is in e-book format and very simple to use. The only preparation required is to search out optional library books to read along during the week for enrichment. This already contains indepth studies in every subject in this lineup:

Day 1: What Is a Tiger?

Day 2: Getting to Know Tigers

Day 3: Where Are the Tigers

Day 4: The Science of Tigers

Day 5: Cool Things About Tigers


I used this study with my four children, ages 10, 8, 7, 4. Although it is recommended for K-4, I found that my 5th grader did quite well with the study presenting it as-is.


We went at this with just the unit provided. We live in a small town and a search of the library yielded very limited results for us. We learned so much just doing the study alone with none of the read-along type extras. It was more than enough! I find in doing these DNG units that I don't really need extras. Amanda has done all of that for me and that's the simple beauty of these studies.

I gather my children round the computer and we read through them, taking one activity at a time.  Also, to save a little money, I just keep the e-book saved on a flash drive and do not print out the entire book.  I only print out the activity pages.  For those who lapbook, the components are linked within the book and are found at the end of the study.


Download 'N' Go Terrific Tigers is chock full of great stuff on tigers.  The graphics are stunning and the links are captivating--at least to my nature loving sons. The audios included were fantastic!  We played them over and over and were amazed by the facts we learned in this study.   When we measured it out, they were shocked by the true size of these animals, versus what the children imagined that they looked like.  We never had any luck getting a peek at the live webcam of the tigers,  but we were intrigued by all that we learned about  tigers and the Creator of such an impressive animal. 
    I appreciated that this is a complete study, with all of the subject areas covered nicely.   There wasn't anything for me to add in or have to pull together to supplement.  Download 'N' Go studies make it effortless to inspire my children and feel confident that they are learning.

If you'd like to read more reviews from other homeschool parents, click here and see what they think of Download 'N' Go Terrific Tigers.

I have been provided one free copy of the Terrific Tigers Download 'N' Go to give away free to one of my readers!! To enter, leave me a comment and provide a contact email so that I can let you know if you're my winner!!!!!

Disclaimer: A copy of this unit study was provided for my use in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010



 I found this post lingering in my drafts and it served as a great reminder for me today:

  Home.  It just feels good when you come in, doesn't it?  It doesn't matter where you've been, it always feels good to be home.  Home is where it all happens.  The nurturing, the caring, the learning, the disagreeing, the laughter are all things we love about home. For most who are reading this blog, it is home base for educational purposes.  Yes, we are inspired by others in our lives and communities.  We are encouraged by our groups and various events that we attend.  It  even feels great to go and be refreshed at a church gathering.  We are made to desire relationships.
     It is vitally important  that we evaluate the outside activities on which we expend our time and  energy .  If we are always out running all over doing all things, we are not able to accomplish the very thing that we set out to do.  Train our children up, teach them at home by the way we live.  We will instead, develop an appetite for the  admiration we receive for being "Supermom". The appetite that is fed is the one that grows, whether it is for things that are wholesome or for our detriment. We are then depended upon and expected to fulfill all sorts of other roles.   If we are not careful, this can give rise to the spirit of discontentment, comparison, even envy and fatigue.
    Ministry can seem a noble cause to an at-home mother.  She may feel that she can do that alongside being wife, homekeeper, mother and teacher.  After all, she can just take the children along with her and be more things to more people. I am all for letting our children work and minister alongside us.  That is training them up.  I am referring to times when many priorities are set aside for the sake of 'ministry', when the" first church" is not necessarily receiving the top slot. If there are times when a mom is out teaching classes for co-op or Bible study and she hasn't been diligent to pray and teach her  children from God's word in her home all week.  Co-op really isn't that important if her first set of students are behind or inconsistent in their lessons or are in need of extra help in some subjects.    We need to make sure that the ministry that is going on is that which is in alignment with the will of God for our families. 
    I'd like to further elaborate further but this post is getting long.  I will try to post again in the future with more of my thoughts on this subject.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

TOS Review: Download 'N' Go: Pizza Party Review and Giveaway

Pizza Party:  The study is in e-book format and very simple to use. The only preparation required is to search out optional library books to read along during the week for enrichment.  This already contains indepth studies in every subject in this lineup:

Day 1: Pizza—What Is It?

Day 2: The Story of Pizza

Day 3: Types of Pizza

Day 4: The Science of Pizza

Day 5: Let’s Have a Pizza Party
I used this study with my two sons, ages 6 and 8.  Although, it would have been appropriate for even my 5th grader since I learned so much myself!
Again, we went at this with just the unit provided.  We live in a small town and a search of the library yielded very limited results for us.  We learned so much  just doing the study alone with none of the read-along type extras.  It was more than enough!  I find in doing these DNG units that I don't really need extras.  Amanda has done all of that for me and that's the simple beauty of these studies.

We are pizza lovers here, in the truest sense.  If pizza hasn't made it onto the menu in the last few weeks, I'll know about it soon!!  Every child here participates on pizza night. We do all ours homemade, so my crew knew exactly what was going on with this one-- some delicious FUN!!! The Download 'N' Go provided all that I needed to inspire more than just my children's taste buds when it comes to all things "pizza"!  The study of Italy was their favorite part, aside from the food, of course.  My children were quite interested in the city of Venice and the famous Italians we studied. As the teacher,it is such a pleasant experience to see your children learning and not have to jump through hoops to make it happen.  It's all right there for you-- outlined, organized, clickable bliss!

If you'd like to read more reviews from other homeschool parents,  click here and see what they're doing at their own Pizza Party!

This weekend there will be a Pizza Party and you're invited!!!  Saturday and Sunday, Pizza Party will be on sale for just $5!!! 
I have been provided one free copy of  Pizza Party Download 'N' Go to give away free to one of my readers!! To enter, leave me a comment and provide a contact email so that I can let you know if you're my winner!!!!!

Disclaimer: A copy of this unit study was provided for my use in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Organization: My Monthly Menu

A few days before I read Erica's post at Confessions of a Homeschooler, I had the same thought! With school starting and so many other things to keep organized, I could not possibly think of adding another paperwork item to my list of to-do's. So, I decided to make a monthly menu and just repeat it. It already allows a few "new recipe" slots in there for variety. So, I hope it won't feel like we are having many repeats in a month. I try to make healthy , homemade meals. I also try to accommodate what my family likes and will eat. Some are healthier than others, I do concede. I am planning to create 4 shopping lists, one for each week of the month, and that way my master shopping list is done for me each week. That would feel great, no??
A few really quick notes: my husband works Tues-Sat so, our weekend is Sun/Mon. He loves to grill out on those days and he loves a burger! J Also, veggies vary, depending on season/availability but are served at nearly every meal. Breakfast and lunch are planned so that my children can either prepare themselves or with little supervision. Breakfasts don't really need a plan… and lunch sometimes revolves around leftovers, soup/sandwiches or other fairly light fare. Snacks are at around 3:30 and are something like cheese sticks, yogurt or peanut butter crackers. And I do very little on Sundays . SO, this is just my dinner menu.


Burgers on the grillSpaghetti
Breakfast night
Tuna Casserole
New RecipeChicken tetrazinni
Shake 'n' bake chicken
Hot dogs on the grillEnchiladas and Mexican sidesBeef tips in gravy/rice
Chicken pot pieChili
Beans n rice with cheese J
Sloppy joes

Burgers on the grillNew recipeStroganoff
Deli sandwiches or hot subCorn dogs and tater tots
(family request)
Taco nite
Grilled cheese tomato soupChicken kabobs over riceChili dogs sweet potato friesPork chops
(method varies)
Homemade bread
Whole roast chicken
Baked potatoes
Pepperoni rolls
Cubed steak w/ gravy


Salmon cakes
Salad or veggies
Pasta salad
New recipe

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Download 'N' Go Giveaway Winner!!!

And the winner is...................... Kelly Zavala !!!!! Yay! 
So happy for you, Kelly!!  --and thank you for your family's choice to continue to serve our country :)

You should have a link in your inbox soon :)

Glorious Hair

Remember sleeping in pink sponge rollers?  Love it!

But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her 1 Corinthians 11:15

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm Dreaming ....????

Okay, so I came across this website, Planner Perfect and together with what I've been reading at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee, I was inspired.  I was inspired to look long term and make goals for myself.  Long term for me is for the whole month or maybe some things for next month.  Most days, I am honestly just living that day.  That's all I can handle.  Mentally, I must only survive the day to feel accomplished.  Meals. Clothes. School. Errands. Bible. House. Smiles. Hugs. Kisses. Those are my priorities and they occur in random order throughout the day. 

I didn't used to think of dreaming as writing out the "to do" list for next month.  But now I do.  It is my dream to live a life with purpose.  To think out a bit about the things that are important and make them happen, with a bit of forethought. That IS success for me. I'm mostly writing this out for myself (accountability).  Here are my dreams, so far.....

August: keep kids fairly consistent in keyboard lessons, finish knitting the hat I've started, finish the rest of the month staying within my WW points, get kids' pictures made.

September: plan for a drill date that we are traveling to with my husband, plan for a child's birthday that is the 25th!, make a date/reservation and go camping, make ornaments for a Christmas ornament exchange that we do each year, begin searching for deals on winter clothing, kids' sports start--keep up with that.

Those are the things that will keep me on track and feeling like I have the majority of things under control. And, my planner contains the details of how to make all of these things happen for our family.  It might loook like a glorified "to do" list, and to some, it is.  For me, it is Peace :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Organization: Home Management Binder

You are looking at one of my most treasured homekeeping tools!  I used to do the Flylady type Control Journal.  That has since morphed into my Home Management Binder.  I don't have the time to follow an entire notebook system devoted solely to housecleaning.   This binder manages each area of our home, in as much detail as I can manage. Simplify and streamline.  That's what works best for me.

Here's a look at what mine contains:

1. Meals and recipes
There is a recipe section for things that I have printed out and do not have the time to transfer to little index cards. I have a monthly menu made up and will hopefully share that soon and I'm planning to make a grocery shopping list to go with each of those weeks so that the lists is already done for me.

2. Homeschooling
This section contains all those little notes that you write down along the way or lists that you must print out and have no place to store.  For example, I have a 3-pg list of narration starters.  Where would I put that? Also, if I have pending orders I would put email confirmation paperwork in there. 

3.  Personal
This section has a chart with each person's name, date of birth and social security number for easy access.
There are gift ideas and clothing sizes.  This is also where I do some of my "doodling".  I plan for my garden, write down home dec ideas, etc.

4. Household
My secretarial spot.  It has the name, phone number and account number of every agency and business with which we hold accounts.  Also, the library, our hair lady, medical offices' numbers, etc.  There is also a rough schedule in there, just to keep me on the path, but nothing like a Flylady get-up.  We do jurisdictions each day and try to encourage each other to clean behind ourselves as we go along.  Also contains husband's drill schedule and any info that he needs me to have handy.

5.  Ministry
Contains contact list for church families and ideas/notes I have in my head for things church related stuff.

Now the front inner pocket contains immediate needs, such as delivery confirmation slip from the Post Office, or other things I would want immediately at hand on a day-to-day basis and I don't want to leave it out on the countertop to catch a spill.

I do have the zipper pocket in the front (Flylady) that holds handy stuff like pens, paper clips, etc..

Can I see yours???
Link up with me to share our Home Management Binder ideas!
Link up

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: Training Hearts Teaching Minds

Our family does a family devotional each evening before bed.  We have all the children finished up with needs for the evening so that we can all pay attention.  We are usually all piled up on the couch together and my husband assigns who will be the reader each evening.   Others will be finding Scripture and reading along, but Dad will have told the child the night before if he/she will be the reader for the next night.  They get sooooo excited when it's their turn.  Even the 4 yr old "reads".  We just read it quietly and she follows, repeating aloud. 

This year, along with our academic books, we ordered Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, by Starr Meade, as our family devotional. It is based on the  Shorter Catechism.  I have never been a catechism-y kind of person.  But, this one got rave reviews so I thought I'd try it out.  Each week delves deeper into one question from the Catechism.  The question and answer are stated and each day's devotional message and appropriate Scriptures are divided up into short daily readings.  There are 107 weeks worth of devotions.

As we begin our devotional time, we review the previous questions and answers.  The children love this!  We call on a different child to give the answer to each question.  We are not down to exact wording and they  are doing very well at it.  Then, we go on to complete the day's reading and the Scripture passage(s) given and discuss how they relate and how we can relate it in our lives.  We pray together as a family, as well, before bed.  And Dad tells who will be the Bible reader on the next night. This is not some in depth theological debate time.  It is simply a time that we draw our family close together and share truths of God's Word.  Nothing fancy.

We love this tool!  It makes it almost too easy to get family devotionals started for your family.  I would enthusiastically recommend it.   And for 2 years' worth of devotionals for right around $10, it's quite the bargain as well.  I think the ages of comprehension for our family are closer to the 8 and up range, but we have our younger ones learn to sit in on teaching and hear the Word.  It's good for them--Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ ( Romans 10:17)! 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Man

This is a pic I found on his computer...this is how so many soldiers still serving conduct their family bonding time.

Today, being that my husband has been working extra hard lately, I thought it would be a good day to start my Love List.  Hopefully it will be an encouragement to him and a reminder to me of  10 of the many, many reasons why I love him .
He has been pulled in so many different directions lately with his civilian job and the military and some days he just collapses into bed.  I have hard days, too, but mine are mostly dealing with my little people whom I love dearly and in situations where I have a great deal of control. 

I love this man because:
1.  He works awfully hard for our family so that I can stay home with our little people.
2. He is very determined.  It doesn't really matter what it is.
3. He can be very goofy.  I love it when he makes me laugh.
4. He's Brave.
5. He is a wonderful Father.
6.  He does Bible study with our children.
7. He is a very strong leader.
8. He is sensitive.
9. He is always looking for family time.
10. He is strong. (physically and otherwise:)  )

Monday, August 16, 2010

TOS Review: Download 'N' Go : Roller Coasters

My next review for Download 'N' Go is Roller Coasters (by Amanda Bennett). This unit is a wonderful resource for teachers who are uncomfortable teaching subjects like Physics (this would be me). It contains 94 pages of fun filled learning  for an entire week.  Roller Coasters is filled with links and is complete with experiments  to help you inspire your children's creativity and help them understand gravity, force and motion. All for just $7.95!

The study is in e-book format and very simple to use.  The only preparation required is to search out optional library books to read along during the week for enrichment.  My small town library only had one of the titles given, but once we got into the study, I did not feel that extras were essential. 


I did this study with three children, ages 10, 8, and 6. This study is listed for grades K - 4 but I felt that it was a good fit for my 5th grader, as well.


Our family does much of our learning all together around the table , or in this case, the computer. We learn by talking and reasoning through our topics. We read through the study, seeking out more information through the videos and/or links given. We even created our own roller coaster using one of the resources provided. My students also related the roller coasters to our traveling in the hilly areas around our area. It also sparked memories of tthe blizzards and sledding downhill last winter. It was very rewarding  to me  to help them to make the connections to 'real life' concepts.


When I first thought of doing this unit, I thought that we'd do a little on gravity and a lot of just fun kiddie stuff.  I was so wrong. Roller Coasters really took us for a loop! I was impressed with  how my children never even knew they were studying Geography, Math, even some trivia along the way.

 The Download 'N' Go provided all that I needed to present physics topics to my children in a way that they could understand.  Reading over the material beforehand helped me feel very confident in presenting these concepts to my children.  It was so easy, in fact, that I felt quite silly for being nervous to begin with.  I also felt that the study could have extended beyond one week to go a little bit deeper, especially as I looked for ways to adapt the study for my older student.  This, of course, makes it even more of a bargain and cuts out all preparation time.  If you are a lapbooker, you're in for a treat on this one! There are plenty of great lapbook elements to supplement your learning. Our absolute favorite part of the unit was the video showing the experiment on force. My children watched that over and over and over!

Thanks so much, Download 'N' Go, for helping this homeschool mom get over the fear of physics and help my children enjoy learning, too!

I have been provided one free copy of Roller Coasters Download 'N' Go to giveaway free to one of my readers!!   To enter, leave me a comment and provide a contact email so that I can let you know if you're my winner!!!!!

Disclaimer:  TOS provided me with a copy of this unit study in exchange for my honest review.  This would have been my opinion had I purchased the e-book myself.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Planning for Next Year Part 5 - 5th grade

Do our children have to become gradually more serious about their education? Yes. Does that mean that there has to be an end to enjoyment and fun and their school days?  Not necessarily.  I hope that this year will turn out to be as fun for our oldest student as it is for the preschooler.  Of course, fun  in 5th grade is a whole lot different that the finger paints and bean bag games of preschool. 
Here's what we've got in store for our oldest:
Math : Abeka (workbook only) (although we are currently finishing up last year's work)
Language: Abeka-workbook, but only the grammar studies, composition is separate
Writing Strands- I just love their program and my daughter is excelling with it. (I wrote a review here)
Spelling - see my hybrid spelling method here
Handwriting-A Reason for Handwriting
History - Guest Hollow, American History Year 1 (I reviewed it here)
Science--various resources, Abeka text as a reference, experiments from various places
Art--this student loooves art and is quite spontaneous in this area, also How to Teach Art to Children in a group setting, with siblings
P.E.--she is playing volleyball in the fall (2nd year) and whatever else strikes her interest in the seasons ahead.
Also, she is now old enough for our church's youth group so she is having a great time there as well.

I think she is really getting the hang of some of the crafty things I've been trying to teach her in the last few years.  So, hopefully during those wintry days of cabin fever, we will have more craft time !

Saturday, August 7, 2010

TOS Review: Goofy Gecko--Download 'N' Go Unit Study by Amanda Bennett

Oh, Boy, have my nature lovers had a great time this week!!!!  We got the opportunity to review Goofy Gecko Download 'N' Go and it was a sure hit! My boys looove all things nature.  No creature is exempt from their affections or denied handling at a moment's notice.  Thank Heavens these were admired from the distance of the worldwide web.  While I may give off the 'nerves of steel' air when my children bestow their blessed creatures upon the threshold of our home, I am truly panicking inside. 

Goofy Gecko is a downloadable unit study in e-book format by Amanda Bennett. This is a one week unit with no additional purchases necessary. Objectives for each day are clearly outlined, which gives you a good idea of what the format will be, for easy planning.  The teacher can easily glance over and quickly decide if, for example, there might be a field trip possibility.  Videos and links associated with each day's objectives are provided.  Also, printable lapbook components come with the study. Additional resources can be found at local libraries to enhance the study, so a list of possible enrichment titles is included as well. 

I used this study  with two of my children, ages 6 and 8.  Both children love nature and animals but lack enthusiasm for the paper-y work of mini books and such.

We did this study over three days.  Usually science  is 2-3 days per week, depending on depth.  We made a mediocre attempt at the lapbook on a fourth day.  As I mentioned, my boys are not thrilled with the concept of lapbooks.  The three of us sat around our family computer, learning all manner of facts and figures on these creatures.  The videos were wonderful!  We especially loved the one where we watched the gecko turn from brown to green in real time .  We were all amazed.  One of my children commented on  how wonderfully God created our world . My  preschooler was even caught with the wide-eyed look during the video sessions.  The majority of the 'studying' was done orally, with me reading aloud from some of the links or other  material provided in the e-book.  I did not have access to many library books to go along with this.  Our small town library had to order in the few that we did get.  So, we mostly used the one or two resources I had on hand and the teacher's information provided in the E-book itself.  I still felt it was sufficient, even without the extras.  My 5th grader added her input on occasion as we went through some of the discussions in creating  the lapbook, actually helping out in the review process.  There were also a few lizard related practical jokes that ensued shortly after being inspired by the day's science (as I'm sure any Mom of boys can imagine).

I really enjoyed that all of the work and research  was done for me.  It almost felt too easy! I do wish the list of book resources was more exhaustive, as my small town library only had a few of the ones given.  In my opinion, a child in the upper age range could have done this study with  minimal assistance.  This takes a ton of the workload  off of Mom and allows her to enjoy being able to be with the children (and maybe even learn along with them!).  I appreciated the ease of use of this format and  how well organized  it was.  Also, if you're a planner by nature (like me), you might find yourself out of a job.  But, don't worry, you'll quickly be sidetracked by little ones whose eyes are lit with wonder at our Creator.

Full Disclosure:
I was provided a copy of  this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  This would have been my opinion had I purchased the book myself.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Hybrid Spelling Method

As I previously promised, here is more info on my hybrid spelling method. I have heard many, many rave reviews on Spelling Power.  Many curricula include it in their packages or recommended resources.  Assuming it was something that I must have, I purchased it (used, on ebay) last year, along with the task cards.   I have also purchased the corresponding notebooks that go along with the program. I haven't regretted it, but I also haven't used it as it was intended. 

I have tested my children for placement, according to the program guidelines.  Beginning with where the child should begin, I use the word list for the week and enter those words into the  list manager at Spelling City and label each list with the student's grade/week number. (For example, 3rd grade/week1).  The student will go into Spelling City and play a game to learn the words and do the test.  The words the student missed are transferred into the notebook to be used in the 10-step study section and continue on with the instructions from Spelling Power.   This relieves me of having to call out words every day to each child. this process is repeated.  If, by Thursday* the child is still getting the same few words wrong, they will write those words 5 times.  This will be done on the front of that day's 10-step page.   Friday, that will require the child copy the words 10 times.   Hopefully, they will have a perfect test on Saturday.   If they get a perfect test at any point in the week, they are done with Spelling for that week.  They are really working hard to get that as early in the week as possible.  The task cards are barely ever used, as I think my children get plenty of all that they require with other curricula that we use.  But, if you didn't go as deeply into other curricula, they could easily enhance your language arts program!

* We school Tuesday-Saturday, as that is what works with my husbands work schedule so that we have family time with him when he is home.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Planning for Next Year Part 4 - 3rd grade

This year is going to be so much fun!  I hope :)  I am planning for all of my children to become a little more independant in their studies, according to their abilities.  Really, I am hoping that they will come up with some iniative of their own.  My 3rd grader is pretty strong in the area of math and is a good reader (not to be confused with those who actually enjoy the reading part, but he is  a strong reader).  Narration needs more practice as well has handwriting and spelling.  I have mixed and matched some things to come up with this plan for him:
Math: Abeka workbook only (no need for tests with all that review, in my opinion)
Christian Liberty Reader: History Stories for Children for practice in narration
A Reason for Handwriting-a very simple way to teach cursive
Language:  Abeka Workbook only
Spelling:  hybrid b/t and Spelling Power (more on this method later)
History:  Group studies:  Guest Hollow (see review here)
Science:  This kid looooves the outdoors, but he will have to do a smidge of  'work' in this area, usually with a unit study with his siblings and some experiments from various resources
Art:  How to Teach Art to Children (group setting as well)
Music:  Keyboard continuing slowly in this
P.E.  Flag Football in the fall, we'll see what else might come along when the time comes

I am interested in what other 3rd grade boys do...please share.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Curriculum Review: Guest Hollow American History

Guest Hollow  is a free resource for History, adaptable for grades 2-6.  There are many resources scheduled which can be found in most public libraries.  There are a few other resources mentioned that would need to be purchased.  Science recommendations are included, as well as some notebooking elements and other fun stuff.  Some charts, maps and resources are linked within the download.  And, did I mention that it is Free!!???

I have been using it for a few weeks, after I mentioned that I needed to consider changing horses mid-stream.  Instead of sending each of my children on their own history expeditions, I opted for a group approach to history as we had done in the past.  I realize that 2 weeks is barely time to get a good grip on things, but honestly, it is very much working for us.   I have not been able to find every single book at the library, but I have been able to maintain the 'skeleton' of the program and my children are thoroughly enjoying it. I am using it with  1st , 3rd and 5th grade students.

The first several weeks focus on Native American studies.  We have not done a unit or indepth study of any kind on this topic, so my children are really running with these ideas.  But this did coincide with a recent field trip to a Native American museum nearby.  Posted below, you will find just a few pics of my children enjoying some of the suggested projects from the download and History Pockets .  I particularly enjoy that each day is scheduled in a grid format and I can 'check off the boxes'  and feel accomplished and still enjoy the living books approach.  Several maps and other resources are linked within the download which make it very easy to use. A workbook is  listed but I do not own it and feel that things are still going quite well with the library books , History Pockets, and other activities/resources mentioned.

Guest Hollow also offers other general resources as well as American History Year 2 and some Science goodies!
This is one little cutie!
We learned the steps from a youtube video and watched many videos then tried our own pow-wow. Too bad you can't hear the audio to all this hubbub.  It sounded like the real thing!
In the National Museum of the Native American Indian.  We spent most of the day and only got through two levels.

This Longhouse project was linked in the download.  We all worked on this one together.