Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Read my Stuff (pretty please)

I need to you something.

I haven't dropped a 30 lb. weight on my foot in almost 3 weeks.

I think that's a record or something. I'm pretty sure.

And I have a clean bathroom. So I'm winning all the way around.

It's late here at the little parsonage so I won't keep you. I thought I would share a few articles I've written that have been out and about lately.

They are from the Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Blog "Homeschooling With Heart." I am a monthly contributor and I haven't been faithful in sharing my contributions here on the blog.

This one which is titled "The Art of Giving Up" is from last month (July).

August's contribution is called "Don't Be Lemons."

I am fairly certain none of you are lemons. You just aren't those kinds of folks.

I don't have September article submitted OR, for that matter, written yet 😉 It's due in a couple of days. I'm expecting the inspiration to hit me any minute now.

But, I'm hoping it will hit me close to after lunch tomorrow.

I have stuff to do.

Night, friends.

God Schooling (A Homeschool Crew Review Post)

Sometimes as a homeschooling momma the best thing you can do for yourself is sit down with a good cup of tea and listen to some good advice. I personally have a good collection of books written by wise homeschooling momma's who have walked in my fuzzy slippers. I am happy to say I have another one to had to my bulging bookcase(s). I have been reviewing God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco.

Let me tell you some of our experience. My major in college was Early Childhood Education. I spent 10 years in both Kindergarten and Preschool classrooms teaching Littles. I LOVE teaching. When we decided to homeschool Josiah I was convinced that my college education and classroom experience would put me in good stead.

Except that Josiah is dyslexic. And homeschooling is nothing like a classroom…nor should it be. And, frankly, I wasn’t prepared for some of the hostility I received from perfect strangers when they asked why Josiah wasn’t in “school.” Or when well-meaning family members who questioned my capabilities as a homeschool teacher or our decision to pull Josiah out of public school after kindergarten. 

I have to say…that part hurt my feelings.

I initially felt so frustrated in our homeschooling experience. It didn’t feel like I thought it would.

I spent so many years trying different curriculum and methods. And it worried me to no end. It was only when I decided to follow my heart and listen to what I felt like God was telling me to do was when I found some peace.

If you can relate then I think you will really enjoy this book.

The author, Julie Polanco, is a homeschooling momma of four and graduated her oldest four years ago. The book has 9 chapters with each chapter containing a study guide at the end of the book with questions for you to think about.

The book talks about homeschooling in a way that is not bound by a certain method or curriculum. Instead, it is child-led and God-led. The book is divided into two parts. The first explains how children learn and dispell certain myths. It also deals with to motivate. The second part breaks down specific age groups and gives some practical advice.

Because Josiah is a teenager, I found myself spending a lot of time with that chapter. It is titled “Giving Teens the Wings to Fly.” This chapter talks a lot about preparing for life after High School. I have to say it opened my eyes. How do I prepare a transcript? What can I count? What about college?

There is some really good advice here.

I have to say that when I first started my homeschooling journey I would have been really skeptical about a book like this. The words “unschooling” would have made me crinkle up my nose.  But experience has proven shown me better. And I guarantee that there are some of you out there who need Julie’s book right now.

In fact, I have a few places I have dog-eared to read over again. And again.

Towards the end of the book, there is a chapter called “Getting Started.” Here is a quote. 

Our role is to make life sparkly. It is not enough to just let your child do what interests him. You should know him so intimately that you can entice him, inspire him, draw him in with what you present because it speaks to his heart.

I love this because I think one of the best things about homeschooling is the relationships you build with your family and your kids. And because of this, our homeschooling becomes that much more “sparkly.” 

If you are tired of struggling with feeling adequate or worrying that you are doing something "wrong" this book might be for you. If you want more joy in your homeschool, this book might be for you. If you feel like you need a homeschool roadmap and would like a dose of Godly confidence, this book might be for you. 

It's a keeper!

Before you rush over to check it out you need to know that through August 22, 2018 you can purchase the e-book for 1/2 the price! Now that's a deal! 

You can connect with Julie Polanco via the following social media outlets. 

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Paddington Bear (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

It’s been a few years since Josiah was young enough use the product I’m about to talk to you today. But because I know that I have readers who are homeschool Littles I was excited to review the Paddington Bear  Literature Study from the Picture Book Explores from Branch Out World.

Branch Out World is a company based in the United Kingdom. The creator is a homeschool momma and has done a beautiful job creating products with homeschoolers in mind.

The Paddington Bear literature study is intended for kiddos between the ages of 5-9.  You do need to know that the study is for the picture book and not for the novels.

I received a PDF download and I will say that this is a very manageable download. There are 69 pages in all, with about 45 pages of printables. They are divided into instructions for the study with extra ideas and resources. The study is divided up to be done over the course of 5 days and then the remainder of download is consumable resources.

Day 1: Exploring the Setting
Day 2: Exploring the Words
Day 3: Exploring the Pictures
Day 4: Exploring Science
Day 5: Exploring Maths, Crafts, and More

The beauty of Unit Studies is that they encompass a whole lot of subjects AND they can be used for different age groups at the same time.

Exploring the Setting is all about Geography and history Students learn about where Paddington came from, which is Peru. They also learn about where he traveled to, England. There is a timeline activity for older children and mapping activities, as well.  

Exploring the Words encourages students to learn more about the author and his inspiration for the Paddington books. They also learn vocabulary words. This section also encourages narration to retell the story.

Exploring the Pictures helps us learn more about the artist of the book, Robert W. Alley. The students also learn about Victorian architecture. They also do a picture study on a certain picture of the book.

There is even an art assignment!

Exploring the Science helps children learn more about bears! There are also a couple of fun science experiments.

Exploring Maths, Crafts, and More is full of some fun stuff! Students will learn two ways to draw parallel lines and how to design a mini tablas de Sarhua.  There is even a recipe for marmalade and a strawberry tart.

My Thoughts

There are a couple of things I always look in a unit study. For one, I love, love unit studies that are based on books. I also love unit studies that are cross-curricular. This means that they find a way to cover all the subjects. Good unit studies also introduce Littles to more complicated concepts. Most importantly, they always have fun hands-on components…AND they can be added to if you happen to find yourself so inclined.

I found Paddington Bear to be all of these things. 

There are so many wonderful and creative ideas and activies within the study. This one is a keeper! 

You can connect with Branch Out World via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews! 

Facebook:    @BranchOutWorld
Pinterest:   @belzibow
Instagram:   @belzibow
Twitter:  @belzibow

Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Time Travelers: World War II (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

You might know that I've been childless for almost 2 weeks now. Josiah is living it up at my folks' farm in the beautiful Ozarks.

Actually, they are working him like a dog and it is good for the boy. 16-year-old boys aren't meant to spend their summers in front of a video game console! While he has been wrangling ducks and weeding out acres of his Papa's garden, I've been taking one for the team. And I'm not mad about it.

One of my very favorite homeschooling companies is Home School in the Woods. If you have followed any of my reviews or homeschooling posts, you know I'm a fan. And when I found out that the Crew was going to get to Review some more stuff I was THRILLED! Except that I owned most of the stuff that was being reviewed. With the exception one of the Time Travelers U.S History Studies and a couple of the Project Passports (more on that later). So while Josiah has been the duck whisperer, I've been reviewing Time Travelers: World War II 

If you aren't familiar with Home School in the Woods, let me fill you in. I used them even before I became a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. In fact, My first history purchase as a homeschooler was Time Travelers: New World Explorers. And that, my friends, has been a long time ago.

Amy Pak, who started Home School in the Woods, is a graphic designer and illustrator. She began the company out of a desire to teach her own children history in a manner differently than she had been taught. She didn't like history in school! Her whole family is now involved.

The idea that Amy didn't like history and now runs a company that teaches history in such an innovative way is just genius. I personally have always loved history. I have always connected to the stories and the people behind history. But I always had good history teachers.  The beauty of Home School in the Woods is that you can LOVE history or have all the icky feelings in the world about the subject and yet, have the BEST history class ever in your homeschool.

Home School in the Woods is just that good. And don't even get me started about their timelines. I OWN THEM ALL!!!!

This is probably going to be a longer review than I intended so I need to get crackin'.

The Time Traveler series is intended for grades 3-8. I used it for a bit younger, but that is because momma wanted to play. You have to decide if you want to play, too.  These projects aren't just cutting and pasting. Some of them can be fairly intensive. For example, Time Travelers: World War II actually has a pattern to make a hat.

Now, that's cool. You have to admit, that's cool.

For this review, I received the download version of World War II. If you purchase the same or the CD you will need a way to print and plenty of ink. I am now the proud member of one of those monthly ink services and it has been the best decision I've made in a while.

When I first got my file, I opened it up and clicked on the Start icon. You will see a couple of folders labeled "pdfs" and "menus." Just run from those. Trust me. The best place to start is just where it says "Start." That button will take you here.

 As you scroll down you will begin to see a menu. Explore all of it!
 This is what happened after I clicked the Teacher Helps medallion. The Lesson Planner gives a suggested schedule.

So basically, the product tells the story of World War II. It does so through stories and hands-on projects. There are maps, and timelines and games. There are writing projects, vocabulary words to learn and people to be introduced to. The student will do a little every day and keep a record of what he or she is learning throughout. They will be introduced to what life was like during that era of history. By the time they are done, they will have a beautiful collection of projects that will almost keepsakes. Or at least, a pretty good telling of what it was all about.

In Lesson 1 we learn about Dictators.

I think, especially in today's world, that we know exactly what constitutes a dictator...and what does not. Don't you?

In Lesson 11 we make this adorable little basket. The stuff in is made in future lessons. It is actually supposed to have a little square of fabric draped out of the basket, but I worked hard on that coloring! That is some cute coloring!

In Lesson 12 we learn that folks back home send the boys fighting overseas care packages and V-Mail.

This is a view of the back of the card. There is always text to along with the lesson, but this is an extra help that accompanies the hands-on project.

This next Lesson had to be a favorite. Lesson 14 talked about Rations Kits.

I'm going to show what's for Breakfast!

Chopped Ham and Eggs! And Cigarettes! Of course, there is a disclaimer in the text and in the project itself that tells us that at the time, smoking wasn't known to be the killer it is today AND that the United States Armed Forces today isn't a fan of smoking. I liked that the Paks (not the Ration Paks, but the Paks who wrote this particular history) didn't whitewash history. We need to keep it real. Chewing gum and cigarettes. Those boys were stressed.

Lesson 21 had us returning to the Home Front.

I love this! This talked about how Americans were canning their own produce and even community canning centers were popping up all over the place to help send resources overseas. Canning is actually a life skill my mom taught me growing up. I haven't used it in a few years except to can some apple butter, but I think we all need to get back to some of that.

I have one more little picture I want to show you, even though I have a dozen more I could show you.

This is a very official looking sugar ration coupon. It's so official looking that at the very bottom is a disclaimer. that says that it is not a legal document. I can imagine some eager 3rd grader taking it to the Piggly Wiggly on grocery shopping day to "help momma out."

I know that my shoddy camera work doesn't do this awesome product justice. You simply MUST go check them out. The Time Traveler Series will not disappoint. I have loved every single one of them. And I haven't even mentioned the poignant stories that are highlighted in World War II. The Paks don't shy away from the evils of the Holocaust. They are necessary stories. Necessary histories to be told.

Can you tell I love Home School in the Woods? I know you will too!

I do need to tell you about their brand NEW product, Project Passport: Ancient Rome. It was scheduled to come out Fall of 2018, but they are ahead of schedule and it is now available! I have both Project Passport: Ancient Egypt and Project Passport: Ancient Greece and they are fantastic! I am sure this one won't disappoint! Any of these would be perfect to add to an Ancient History study.

You can connect with Home School in the Woods via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews!


Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Late Night Ramblings: Tea, Ducks, Chickens and a Weight on my Foot!

It's late, my friends.

I have a case of "I drank some tea too late and now I can't fall asleep."

Ever have a case of that?

Frankly, it stinks.

So I thought that instead of lying around and waiting for the caffeine to wear off I would fill you in on what's been going on.

Cousin Camp officially has been over for a few weeks now. I'm not quite ready to do a full recap, yet. Remember my "ducks in a row" problem?  They are still MIA. Missing in action. I'm expecting them back any day now. Plus, I've had a few other hiccups along the way.

I'm missing this guy, too. We left him at the farm to spend some extra time with his Ama and Papa and Cousins Chris and Kalynn.
I can't tell you how much I miss him. Princess the Cat misses him. She spent the first couple of days The Studly Muffin and I came home hollering for him. He's called me almost every day. He tells me he has been worrying about me. Some of that probably has to do with the fact that I have already made a trip to the emergency room since we came home from vacation.

You didn't think it would take me too long to go crazy, did you?

It happened just over a week ago. I was finishing up an epic project. And when I say EPIC....I mean EPIC. The Muffin had been watching a ball game late. He is an Albert Puljos fan and watches the Angles games online. So both of us were up around 2am.  Really late.

Unbeknownst to me, he had set his 30-pound weight on our bed underneath his overnight bag. I couldn't see it when I tried to pull the quilt from the end of the bed. The weight came flying off the bed and on to my right foot.


Needless to say, The Muffin took me to the emergency room.

There isn't an obvious break, but it is pretty bruised up. It still hurts to walk on it. I saw my doctor again on Friday and she told me that I should probably have another x-ray to make sure there isn't a hairline fracture. 

It took me 3 hours today just to do up a sink full of dishes and we have a dishwasher!

I need my momma.

Anyhoo. Thankfully, The Muffin isn't adverse to Takeout and my cat loves me.

Josiah is planning on hanging out at the farm for a little while longer. He has a list of stuff he wants to do when he comes home. He "gets" to work pretty hard at the farm. He did tell me that his favorite animal is Clyde the duck. Now, Clyde the duck is a bugger. He is as mean as sin and as dumb as a rock. He practically chases anything that moves. He does it all for love. His woman is a girl duck named Bonnie.

True story.

I will have to have my mom take pictures of them. All I have are pictures of Kalynn's ducks. These are NOT Bonnie and Clyde!

They are lady Muscovy Ducks and have little to do with Bonnie and Clyde. I'm sure they have names, but I can't keep all of these critters straight. If I'm not mistaken I believe these ducks are being pursued by a lonely Buff Orpington rooster named Goldy (or something like it). 

Goldy is not prejudiced. He just wants a woman. 

Goldy makes it his business all day long going from cage to cage trying to talk some hen into sharing his life with him. He can't get in the cages and they can't out. Goldy isn't that bright either.

That's probably more than you ever wanted to know, huh?

Though I do have an interesting story about goats....

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

WriteBonnieRose (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

If you are gathering up materials to add to your elementary science courses, I have just the resource for you. Recently, I had the chance to review the Learning About Science Collection, Level 3 (Print) from WriteBonnieRose. It has soooo many goodies in it! 

I need to first make a little disclaimer. Bonnie Rose Hudson (the writer and publisher) has been my editor for the past year on a ginormous project. She has been more than patient with me. Let me tell ya. And she is precious. It makes a BIG difference when you have an editor who actually knows what it takes to write the stuff. And she has written a whole lot of stuff. I was thrilled when I saw her products come up on the Crew's list of resources to review. So thrilled that I begged to be on the review!

Learning about Science Collection Level 3 is a seven book study that explores elementary life science, earth science, and physical science. Level 3 contains a print or cursive version. I received the print version for my review. All studies come as PDF downloads. 

The books are as follows. I've given you a brief "Beke's Cliff Notes" Synopsis. Which isn't that good. You will need to go to Bonnie's main page for this one. She does a much better job. 

Kinds of Animals and How They Live: 18 pages. Introduces 9 different types of animals and 32 specific animals (life science)

What's Going on Inside Plants?: 16 pages. Learn the process of photosynthesis and transpiration. (life science)

Life in the Ocean's Hidden Zones: 21 pages. Discover hidden zones of the oceans, including the animals. (life science)

Forecasting and Understanding the Weather: 18 pages.  Discover the elements of weather. How to measure the weather and what the weather is. 

Discovering Rocks, Minerals, & Crystals: 18 pages. Learn what makes up rocks and minerals. 

Exploring the Earth's Landforms: 18 pages. Look at 32 of the earth's landforms (earth science)

Energy and Its Many Forms: 26 pages. Explore the five main types of energy. (physical science)

When Josiah was elementary age, we did a lot of unit studies AND we went down a lot of rabbit trails. He has always been a curious kid and I was willing to explore with him whatever he found interesting and worth exploring. However, it was hard to for me to find resources like this one. I didn't want or need the whole textbook. I wanted bite-sized pieces...references points that we could go back to time and time again. 

Let me show you what Bonnie's books look like. 

I printed off a couple of them in their entirety. Josiah has always been my little weatherman. In fact, I think if he would have Forecasting and Understanding the Weather when he was of an age he would have been in hog heaven. 

This page is located somewhere close to the front. Your "colorers" will be thrilled. 

There are brief little reading passages that identify certain terms accompanied by a picture. 

I found the passages to be written in a way that a kiddo could easily understand and comprehend. 

At the back of this particular book are questions to answer. 

I haven't attacked this particular page with a colored pencil. It is from the Exploring the Earth's Landforms book.  I think one of the beauties of using Downloadable E-book is that you can use it for multiple students. I also believe that Bonnie also allows Co-ops to use her materials as long as the number in the group isn't too large. 

So obviously, I'm a fan. I think this collection is perfect to use with any and all Elementary science study. You can use it alongside a textbook or as you wander up and down rabbit trails. I personally think it would even be great to print out and put in a binder as a science reference book. Now that would be fun! It really is like a little interactive encyclopedia!

You can see the possibilities here! Bonnie has done such a lovely job. You must, must, must check out her website. She has so many wonderful things for homeschoolers. And the FREEBIES!!! We homeschoolers appreciate the FREEBIES!

Right now she has a special offer just for you!!!! Through August 15, 2018, you can save 50% on the bundled Learning About Science, Levels 1, 2, and 3 with coupon code REVIEWCREW50. This basically means you can get each set of ebooks for $6 per set.

That is such a great deal!!! And worthy of all the exclamation points I can muster!!!!

You can connect with WriteBonnieRose via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Facebook:  @WriteBonnieRose
Twitter:  @WriteBonnieRose
Pinterest:  @WriteBonnieRose

Learning About Science collections {WriteBonnieRose Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Smart Kidz Radio (A Homeschool Crew Review Post)

It’s been a while since Josiah was a Little. But I do know that when he was I was always looking for good resources I could use that were uplifting and mostly FREE! You know what I’m talking about. Some of us on the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review a brand new program from Smart Kidz Media called Smart Kidz Radio.

Way back in the day, I did a review for Smart Kidz Media and was super impressed with the video content available. This time around I got to look at their brank spankin’ new live streaming radio station just for kids. No commercials. No crass language or conversation. No questionable children’s songs. You can just turn the thing on and go do your laundry while the Littles sit at the kitchen table with their coloring pages.

Or under the table with their action figures. I raised THAT kind of boy.

Before I show you how it works, I do need to mention one little thing. IT IS FREE! Absolutely FREE. There is going to be an on-demand option that will be available for a small fee eventually, but it won’t affect the FREE version. I looked around at some of the on-demand content and it looks really cute. For example, there is a channel for bedtime music. Yes, please. I might need that.

Here is what the site looks like. It is really easy to use. 

The music is standard kids fare…but where I found gold is in the podcast menu. There are stories. Bunches of stories. Fairytales like Cinderella or retellings of great classics like Rip Van Winkle or Robin Hood.  And some of these stories are around twenty minutes long. There are few 2 and 3-minute offerings like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, etc.

We personally love audio dramas in our house and we always have. These stories have a beautiful music soundtrack in the background and dramatized. I LOVE them. I hope Smart Kidz Radio adds more and more. Think of how it could add to your Read Aloud and Literature studies!

In the menu, there is also a tab to see your local weather, look at a map and more.

You need to check Smart Kidz Radio out! And if you are interested in the on-demand option, I recommend checking out the FAQ page. 

You can connect with Smart Kidz via the following media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Facebook:   @smartkidzmediainc
Twitter:   @SmartKidzMedia

Smart Kidz Radio Homeschool Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
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