Sunday, April 29, 2012

Z is for Unconventinal Social Studies with Zhu Zhu Pets

The boys are involved in their community, but we haven't really studied community  structure until the other morning, when the pulled out 2 bins full of ZhuZhu Pets pieces.

They got lesson in city planning, traffic control issues, and angry community members as they laid out the city, built the city,
They had lessons in dealing with contactors and suppliers (ie Mommy was setting up the crock pot for dinner and couldn’t stop to find that one last piece). They had their lesson in politics when the 2 city planners didn’t agree on the location of the hospital. (ie the boys had to come to an agreement as to where the hospital would be located.) Generally they learned a lot more about community, local government, and the people involved then they could have learned from any book; and for almost an hour they played together without fighting and without tears.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

M is for exercising with Math #atozchallenge

Recently the boys and I saw a fun activity on a TV show ;combining math and exercise, with a number board and jumping jacks.

We decided to give it a shot. Cameron got the sidewalk chalk out and drew the number box for us. Then the boys took turns jumping onto two numbers and adding them together, once they had the answer they did jumping jacks to that number.

Burns energy and makes math facts a lot more fun!
Since we live in Oregon and never know if the sunny spring days are going to last we have to figure a way to play the game inside as well.

No problem, Mommy just got 10 sided dice to add some fun to our stamp game and Montessori Checkerboard activities,why not use them to come up with the addends?

This time Nathan decided to do push ups and  Cameron stuck with the jumping jacks.

Either way they are practicing their math  facts and adding healthy activities to their school day.

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R is for River, an evening of fun and mud #atozchallenge

What boy doesn't love mud?
My  boys love  riding bikes through mud puddles.  We took the boys down to a Ediger Landing on the Willamette River.

something about riding their bikes through gravel, dirt, and even mud puddles makes everything in the world seem perfect, at least for my boys.

Depending on the river levels this spot can be a tiny little stream or a full fast moving tributary for the river. This particular night it was just a little stream.


Finally throwing rocks into the river, note to self teach them how to skip stones it will be a lot safer.

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Crypto Quotes a Challenge thanks to Critical Thinking Co

I love a mind bending challenge, but I found out the boys aren’t quite there with me yet.

We  received a copy of Crypto Mind Benders Famous Quotations published by Critical Thinking Co. to review as members of  the  TOS Homeschool Crew. Since the book is graded 3grade and up I figured it would be a fun change of pace for Cameron for Math.

I soon found out that the abstract concept didn’t fit well for him.

We worked  through several of the quotes and decided to set it aside while we worked on some more of the skills needed to work through the cryptograms.

I am happy to say though that as I sat down to write this review, the boys saw the book sitting out and asked if we could try them tomorrow for our Friday Math activity.  So I guess the challenge has been met head on.

So details: The book retails for $10.99 print or e-book  format and  is filled with 32 activities where the answer is a famous quote.

Each activity has 3 sets of clues to work out and the puzzle at the end to find and reveal a famous quote.

For us the challenge led to learning new concepts including greater  than and less than problems. Since the boys weren’t familiar with that concept we have incorporated < and > into our other math activities to reinforce the new concept.

I can saw with out a doubt that this book is a value in the challenges and the doors it opens when the quotes are revealed. I can see the value in the e-book as well.

The rest of the crew reviewed not only this fun book but several other books from The Critical Thinking Company HERE

Disclaimer: we received a copy of the above book as a member of the TOS homeschool crew in exchange for our honest opinion of the product, all opinions are that of this blogger.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

S is for Amazing Science DVDs that make science fun!

Nathan is my science guy, he loves creating new experiments and learning why things happen. I was very excited to introduce him to the Amazing Science DVD set from The 2 DVD set contains 23science experimentPhotobucket videos and retails for $19.95.  
The  videos are engaging and explain the how and why of each experiment in a fun environment.  Nathan watched both DVDs through 3 times and still watches them just for fun.  The DVD set is worth the cost if even if only for the entertainment value….
Seriously though, after watching the set through twice, Nathan was eager to start working on the experiments. One thing I noticed was although the supplies needed for the experiments are listed on the screen, there wasn’t a printable list on the website or on the discs, thankfully though a fellow crew member created one with the publisher’s permission.This homeschool Mommy is very thankful to Walking by the Way for saving my sanity..

We picked 2 experiments to focus on… #1 and #6. Nathan found all the needed supplies around the house and eagerly jumped in.
Color Changing Milk
DSCN2675 Well, the idea that he could draw in milk intrigued.. We used a small Styrofoam plate and 2% milk that is what we had on hand.

We used a gel based food coloring so it wasn’t as vibrant as on the video, but Nathan was still excited enough about it that he drug Daddy in to show him and explained the why to Daddy as well.

Next up Candle Suction Power.
We actually had to do this experiment a couple of times to find a glass that was large enough for the candle.

Again Nathan was glued to the actual experiment and had Mommy do it again so he could show Daddy.

It was actually fascinating to watch the water rise inside the glass.


The smile on my little guy’s face was worth all of it to this Mommy, but  don’t take my word for it , check out what the rest of the Crew thought of it HERE
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disclaimer: We received a copy of the above DVD as a member of the TOS homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are that of the blog’s author, no monetary compensation was received.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scripture Sunday April 22nd


This week’s scripture for the boys was a perfect one for them to not only copy but memorize.

scripture sundayJohn 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life.


Nathan was eager to read it as soon as he saw the verse, I asked him why he was so excited and he proudly responded “we are learning it in co-op Mommy” . He read it to me then wrote it rather than traced it.  I am so grateful when things fall into place so perfectly.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

N is for New Testament with God’s Great Covenant


The New Testament is full of so many messages for kids and sometimes it can be hard to explain it to the kids. I was so glad to receive God’s Great Covenant volume 1 focusing on the Life of Christ.  Christian Academic Press publishes a large variety of educational books for Christian Education including  the God’s Great Covenant series that includes Old and New Testament books. 

Teaching the importance of the Gospels to young children can be simple or it can really dig deep into the lessons of the New Testament.  Cameron, Mike, and I spent  time together reading and listening to the stories, reading scripture, and studying the messages in the beginning of the Gospels. While the lessons are really geared for 4th grade and up, we worked together to answer the questions.

I was impressed with the layout of the student book and each lesson. Being able to break apart each lesson into manageable sections that we could get through.  The Review worksheets are perfect for breaking up whether throughout a day or over a couple of days.

This is a complete program with Teacher’s Guide,  Student Book, and available audio files of each lesson’s story having a price that reflects the completeness of the program.  You can purchase the components separately as well, although I found the  Teacher’s Guide to be a huge help with lots of added notes that help explain verses as well as insight into concepts that aren’t always seen during the reading. The Teacher’s guide also has space for notes which I really appreciated.  The books are large paperback style books which was hard for both Cameron and me to work with ,so  I took them to our local office supply store and had them spiral bound, but it was worth the extra cost for us in the functionality of the product.

The bundled set we reviewed retails for $56.95 and is in my frugal opinion worth every penny.

Check out what the rest of the CREW thought of this product.

Disclaimer: We received the above mentioned bundled product as a member of the TOS homeschool Crew in exchange for our honest review. No other monetary compensation was received.

K is for kids thinking outside the box

Our youth group kids  have been talking about a variety of things lately including being a caring friend and being environmentally aware. When I received  the Cottonelle Roll Covers to share with Moms and Kids I decided this would be a great opportunity to share a fun way for the kids to help Mom and think outside of the box a little.
We talked about how looking our best reflects on our parents and presented a nice space reflects on us and our parents.  The Cottonelle Roll Covers were a nice way to cover and protect a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom, but it also made a nice gift box (I gave each of the kids one with some little things that tied into our other honors we were finishing up).  One of the girls mentioned they have a fabric cover they hang in the bathroom and she was goinmommy helpers badgeg to use the roll cover as a  recycle bin in the car. The boys also thought it would make a nice place to store things since it had a lid on it.  The Moms that were with the kids thought it was a nice way to hide the toilet paper roll on the counter or the shelf.  Either way , it got the kids thinking about ways they could help Mom clean up around the house and maybe make the bathroom  a room not to hide.

***Thank you to Mom Central ,on behalf of Cottonelle, and received product samples and a promotional item to facilitate our event and to share the product and our experience on this blog. All experiences and opinions are that of the write and no other compensation was received***

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Scripture Sunday April 15th

scripture sunday


This week the lesson was focus on Atonement or our at-one-ment with Christ.

The Golden Text the boys worked on is from 2nd John.

He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  2 John 1:9 b

Thursday, April 12, 2012

F is for Flavor #atozchallenge

Do you like flavors in food or are you a more bland style eater? In our house it is really split.. I have 1 very picky eater who prefers less flavor variety, 1 that likes spicy flavors, 1 that likes a little flavor but not to much, and then Mom who like variety and zest. So how do you cook but still satisfy everyone's tastes?
Here are a couple of ideas that I like to use along with a few pantry staples that I keep on hand to help with that.
Italian Seasoning: I make my own from Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Garlic, Onions, and citric acid instead of salt.
Taco or Salsa Seasoning: I buy this in bulk once a year at our annual Garlic Festival
G.O.H mix: a blend of Herbie, Garlic, and Onion which a low in sodium and a basic seasoning I use for almost everything
Coarse Ground Black Pepper: I buy my favorite twice a year at Costco
Sea Salt: I don't buy iodine salt, since I am not suppose to have a lot of salt, I tend to use Sea Salt as it has a stronger flavor and thus I use less of it..
Dried Jalapeno: I grow them and dry them in our food dehydrator... I can grind them on the cheese grater or smash them under a large knife...
Lavender: it grows like a weed in a pot on my patio... I love adding it to Spaghetti and similar sauces. It also makes a wonderful addition to ice tea or lemonade in the summer
Mint: again grows like a weed on my patio, but I love using it for greek chicken, sauces, and in tea or lemonade.

What flavors do you keep on hand?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Goal Planning Monday April 9th

This week's goals should be attainable.
1. Finish 3 crew reviews
2. Get the boys back on track with math and multiplication.
3. Finish lesson planning Bible and Ancient History.
4. Read Pearl Harbor Story and rest of WWII with Cameron.
5. Start emptying my office into boxes and sorting books for classroom.

Last Week's goals status 

1. Catch up on God's Great Covenant lessons  DONE!
2. Get the milk crates from behind the couch out and sorted  only did 1

3. Complete our lessons on subtraction so we can get back to multiplication.  We finished subtraction for now

4. Catch up on emptying Mommy's old office so we can work toward the room switch .moved to this week

H is for History Help from Truth Quest History

Let me start out by saying I love History!
Now, my boys aren't so sure and this year we were doing Modern American History so it wasn't as exciting as they had hoped. It is hard to teach 1900- present to 2 little boys without first over whelming them and second getting the ideas across without scaring them.
I was very excited to get American History for Young Students III from TruthQuest History to review. Cameron and I started reading at WWI since that was were we had paused in our History lessons.
Michelle Miller does an amazing job writing to the children at the level the can understand and explaining ideas in a way that they need to hear.
TruthQuest is Biblically based which I love and explains concepts that even some adults have trouble understanding.  The book is outlined by Events in a chronological format but also ads elements of art, culture, film, and sports to the history timeline.  In each section Mrs. Miller lists books as well as films that may be used to read about various historical events , people, and places.  I appreciate her honesty when writing about books or films that she hasn't read. It is important to read or view films before sharing them with our younger kids.
 As we were reading through the lessons , we came across the story of Balto and Cameron excitedly told me he had seen the movie at Gamma's house. I paused and he then told me about the movie including details that were in what I was about to read him.
When we started reading about the Great Depression , TruthQuest once again was our lifeline. I love the examples she uses and how she brings it to life in the lesson story.  We were able to borrow a friends copy of Mystery of History to use for additional reading along with a book I had already planned on using.  I love how Mrs. Miller explains her book choices when dealing with the various people during the Depression Era and the New Deal programs.  We settled on using the book I had picked out "Clara's Kitchen" about depression era cooking. It worked perfectly for us and  stayed within what the TruthQuest book had been teaching the boys.
We are moving into WWII and again TruthQuest did an amazing job explaining the Allies and the Axis along with the confusing aspects of U.S.S.R (ally or enemy???).  I was able to find a map to show the boys so they could visually see exactly what Mrs. Miller was explaining to them.
I love that the boys and I can sit on the couch, pull out the TruthQuest History book and read a lesson, then the boys want to find a movie or another book to go along with the lesson. It  has inspired both Mom and boys to continue on our History Quest this year. We will be finishing up Modern history with a field trip to our local Air / Space Museum as well as a living history conversation with PaPa about WWII life, Korean War, and everything since in the next couple weeks. I am so thankful for TruthQuest History this year as it has helped put on back on track.
There is a wonderful list of option "spines" that goes along with the book we are using

Now for the other details about the books.

TruthQuest History has a collection of 8 books that travel through History beginning with Old Testament/ Creation/ Ancient Egypt and ending with Modern History for grades 5-12 and a set of 3 books dealing with American History for grades 1-3.  Books are available in print or e-book format  and range in price from $19.95 to $24.95 depending on level and format.
I would highly recommend the print format, the price difference covers the printing and spiral binding. If you are looking for a lesson plan for History that uses living books as well as films with a Biblical foundation, then this is a great program.

Check out TruthQuest History on Facebook you can also find a wonderful Yahoo Group (History Questers) where Mrs. Miller facilitates discussions with other homeschoolers using TruthQuest.

The TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed a variety of the Truth Quest History Guides. Check out the reviews HERE
Disclaimer: We received a copy of 1 Truth Quest History Guide in exchange for our honest opinions, no monetary compensation was received.


G is for Geology with AIMS

PhotobucketEarth Rocks! Well as my boys like to say God Rocks Earth Mom. With that in mind we jumped into a geology unit with AIMS Education Foundation  Earth Rocks book.

The book is set up to integrates Math and Science activities on a 4th or 5th grade level. Since my boys aren't 4th and 5th grade I knew I would be doing some modifications to the units but figured it wouldn't be a problem.
The book came with a CD that has all the handouts in a pdf format which is very helpful. Each lesson has detailed plans and instructions. We did a few of the units but realized a couple of things. First being a secular publication I had to be careful as I read through various sections to keep the evolutionary vocabulary out of the conversation. I have chosen to not teach evolutionary theory to the boys until they are older and can make up their own minds.  We use a young earth, Creation based Biblical view in our history and science lessons.
The other issue I had was adjusting the supplies and materials to 2 students instead of a classroom full.  The activities are a lot of fun and the boys enjoyed the lessons we did do, which told me that I can add more hands on geology and geography activities as we move forward.
The book with the CD retails for $29.95, there is also a .pdf version available from the publisher which also retails for $29.95
So based on the price and the full array of activities I can say there is value in the book if you are OK with evolutionary timeline or if you are willing to adjust the conversation as you go.
AIMS has a variety of books available online as well as a selection of lab kits to complement their programs.  The fun characters also add value to the programs as the characters caught my boys' attention.

The TOS crew reviewed several of the AIMS products, you can find the crew reviews HERE
Disclaimer: We received a copy of Earth Rocks as a member of the TOS homeschool crew in exchange for our honest opinion of the product, no monetary compensation was received.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Scripture Sunday : Easter

This week has been a hard week school wise, but I am very thankful for the verse the boys studied this week. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 57 Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen!

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for a Frugal education #atozchallenge

I have often talked about the cost of various products we have reviewed and whether or not I felt there was value in it, well lets take the monetary value of home education to the next level. Frugality is something many people don’t always think about when they think about homeschooling. It costs to keep the kids at home, but it can be done.
I try and keep our homeschool budget to less than $200 a year for curriculum and supplies. I know that seems crazy, but I have found some wonderful sites to download elements from.
1. Homeschool Freebie of the Day : is an amazing site with daily freebies through out the school year. I have saved so many wonderful books and mp3s I have an assortment I can fall back on , or even start at when I am lesson planning.
2. CurrClick is another wonderful place. They offer a weekly freebie from a variety of publishers as well as seasonal specials. I have downloaded a huge variety both freebies and reasonably priced elements including some amazing Montessori Grammar and Language Arts products.
3. Hands of a Child: I was a conference representative for them our second year homeschooling and was able to purchase a lifetime Super Membership that gives me 2 complete units a month as well as a 15% discount on e-books. HOAC also offers a semi-annual freebie to vistors and Facebook deals on occasion.
4. The biggest blessing to our Homeschool has been our Membership on the TOS crew, while this isn’t for everyone, I have found many  vendors offer specials and demos that I never knew. TOS also publishes an annual freebie directory.
5. Project Gutenberg and internet archive are awesome resources for out of print books as well as source documents, audio files, etc.. to help supplement a variety units.
For supplies make sure you have a homeschool i.d.card to save money where educators receive a discount. Also check with your local office supply store (Office Depot, Office Max, and Staples) to see if they offer a teacher rewards card. I stock up on things like composition books, pencils, color crayons, etc… during the back to school season knowing we will use them.  Also check Goodwill or other similar thrift shops for things like binders ,milk crates for storage, books, etc… we don’t have to have new binders every year. Another amazing resource for me has been Craigslist. I have found several lots of books and other resources for free and low low priced  on Craigslist.
Another fun one that keeps costs down, local parks for nature walks and physical activity. A change of scenery also helps both Mom and kids refocus. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Easter #atozchallenge

With Easter just a couple of days away I thought I would share our Easter traditions with you.
Easter morning the boys have resurrection biscuits for breakfast while they get to search through their baskets for treasures.
Next it is off to church and then over to Auntie's house for egg hunt and fancy dinner. The boys love the egg hunt and love setting up their own egg hunt after the fact to play.
This year funds are really tight so they "baskets" will be simple and full of crafts, school supplies, and healthy snacks along with a couple coupons for future activities (trip to a special park, a night a grandma's, picnic date with Mommy).
 They will also be receiving their own copy of The I like Book for Kids, in which I hope to have family write in it before or at least on Easter.

What are some of your Easter traditions?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday April 3

Montessori Stamp Game Board

D is for Dad, substitute Teacher and Principal #atozchallenge

Ok, so I am blessed that my husband is self employed and works here on the property. While we have made some sacrifices over the years having him here as far as homeschool goes it truly is a blessing, especially since I dislocated my shoulder and have needed the extra help to keep us on track.  He also serves as Principal, a title he isn’t sure he wants, but as head of the household he is also head of the homeschool . It is nice to have someone to bounce ideas off when it comes to curriculum as well as behavior issues.  I don’t like using the “wait until your Father gets home” type of language but believe me I have used similar when I’m having a day or the boys are being difficult.

When it comes to extra curricular activities it is nice to have a second opinion before we jumping in and it also means that we have extra help during our homeschool cop-op and similar activities. 

I am very thankful for Dad / Husband/ Principal/ and Substitute Teacher.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for #homeschool Co-Ops #blogboost #atozchallenge

I know not every homeschooler belongs to a co-op and I know there are as many of opinions about co-ops as there are opinions about homeschool. I want to share our experiences in a co-op.
We joined a co-op our first year homeschooling. Was that the wisest move? Looking back I’m not sure, although I am glad we did as I really didn’t know what I was doing and gleaned a lot of ideas from the moms in the co-op.
the co-op we belong to meets 3 terms (8 weeks each) starting in October (8 weeks before Thanksgiving). The boys are in graded classes which has its ups and downs.  Both Mom and Dad are actively involved in teaching classes again that has its ups and downs. mom also coordinated the library and Dad is in charge of  sound and stage equipment related to mics, speakers, sound board, etc…
I am grateful the boys have enjoyed their classes for the most part. I am also very grateful for the growth in Cameron over the past year and a half. He struggled with performance anxiety and through patience and love from his recorders teacher and Daddy he has overcome that issue and has grown in his desire to share his music and willingness to try new things which has led to his involvement with the next Lego robotics team.  As for Nathan he is learning to memorize scripture and improve his memory skills through a series of Bible themed classes including the Fruit of the Spirit.
Next year the boys have asked me to teach their classes again and I struggle with that request as I am not the most comfortable teaching the younger grades, I really prefer to teach High Schoolers, but I am working through a couple of ideas for both 2nd grade and 4th grade for next year.

Are you involved in a co-op? What are your thoughts on co-ops? Feel free to share in the comments.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Goal Planning Monday: April 2nd

Mama Manuscripts

I was so glad to find a Goal Meme to add to our blog... 
So here are our goals for this week.

1. Catch up on God's Great Covenant lessons we are currently reviewing this amazing program for the TOS Crew and have run into a common problem , it is harder than Mom thought it would be, but it is such a good program Mom is willing to tweak it so the boys get through it.

2. Get the milk crates from behind the couch out and sorted  (they contain a variety of school books that got stashed during the Christmas rush and haven't been touched since.)

3. Complete our lessons on subtraction so we can get back to multiplication.  The boys are doing really well with our Montessori Stamp Game for dynamic subtraction, but we need to move back into our multiplication and get some more practice on the Montessori Checkerboard.

4. Catch up on emptying Mommy's old office so we can work toward the room switch. The project got stalled after Mom dislocated her shoulder, but with the boys' help I think we can really get back on track... 

Can't wait to get the week going. We have a full week ahead of us, but these are a few things that need our attention.

B is for Bible Lessons

As a Christian Homeschool family we work Bible Lessons into as many of our units as is possible.  We start our week with a Scripture verse as copywork for the boys. As a family we study our Weekly Bible Lesson during lunch as the table, and when ever we are doing a unit study we find scripture verses that apply to the study.  My husband and I have found it important to include the Bible in as much of our day as possible. We strive to give the boys a good foundation and in order to do that the Bible gives us the firm foundation to base our trust and our knowledge on.
The hymn “How Firm a Foundation” really says it all for me. 
I believe that I have that firm foundation is what inspires me to keep going on our homeschool journey. Each new day I know that I am leading my children down a narrow path but I know that along that path their will be inspired words to keep them going.
There are so many lessons to be learned from the Bible. My only hope is that I can inspire my boys with a few of those wonderful stories.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tools to knowing and learning History #blogboost

History isn’t a huge thing  for us, but we do have some things we love to help with History.
1. Hands of a Child Lapbooks and Notepacks.  We have used several History Lapbooks as well as our current project the Summary of Modern U.S. History Notepack.
2. Creek Edge Press cards. We are using the Geography and Culture program program currently and will be ordering the Ancient History cards for next year. I love the command cards that fit into Montessori style environment.
3. CurrClick teachable moments monthly calendar. We usually get an email near the end of the month for the next month. It is always full of unique facts that we can use to add some fun to our history lessons.
4. TruthQuest History, a wonderful tool to help with lesson planning , selecting books and movies, and lessons surrounding history and what we need to know.
5. The Bible, we are planning next year’s history program based on The Bible and Ancient History. I want the boys to have a strong foundation and understanding of History from a biblical perspective.
6. The flexibility of homeschooling allows us to also use resources like this day in history and significant anniversary events.
What are your favorite resources for history in your homeschool? Check out what some of my crewmates said HERE

A is for Amazing Animals by Design #hsreviews


Take a journey with 2 very excited children to the zoo. This could be the beginnings of a blog about our trip to the zoo,  but it is actually a wonderful children’s book by Debra Haagen. Amazing Animals by Design is a brightly colored Christian journey to the zoo to meet a variety of animals all creatures of God’s great kingdom.
With each new animal they encounter the children learn how God’s perfect design for each animal helps them survive in their habitats.

PhotobucketThe illustrations in this books are not only colorful but simple and add to the story rather than distract from the message. I love how the story comes full circl back to God’s perfect design of the children.Overall the boys have enjoyed reading this e-book on my laptop, although they still aren't sure about picture books on the computer. I love the realistic but simple illustrations within the story.

The book itself is being released to bookstores April 3rd but can also be purchased directly from the publisher Tate Publishing  for $8.99 print or $7.99 e-book
We received an ebook copy of this lovely book as members of the TOS Crew in exchange for our honest opinion. You can see what the rest of the crew thought of this story HERE