Join me in a year long journey reading through the Bible

  • Wow, this was a lot to read today. A lot to take in. Le t me see if I can recap this correctly. He begins by telling us about Gods defense of Jerusalem and...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Easter Freebies

Easter is almost here and The Old School House has done it again. They are giving away a whole bunch of fun free activities for you and your kids to do for Easter. So here is the link you will need to download all those fun crafts!

Here's the link for the Freebies:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Schleich Action Figures

What a joy it was to open this box. My kids were overjoyed to see a box full of animals from Schleich to add to their collection. You know there are those that claim they are hand painted and then when you look at it the eyes are all crooked or something. Not Schleich! These toys are meticulously made and painted to look life like. And they DO! This company was founded in 1935, so you know they are doing something right. Their toys are of fantastic, lasting, detailed quality.

They have all sorts of animals; like farm animals, wild life, forest animals, and pets oh and trees, horse farms, knights American Frontier etc. I can see doing a unit study on American Frontier and using these figures to make your studies come to life! They even have a real cute elf series which you can view the chapter of the story of the elves. Oh, and for all of you out there in my age range (late 30’s early 40’s) they have the Smurfs. They are sooo cute!

Anyway, the prices range of course depending on the figurine from about $2.50 to $160.00. Most of the figurines though are between $3.00 and $9.00. Hey if you want some of those science studies or theme studies to come to life, add a few of these action figures to it. You really will not regret that you did!

Schleich is currently running a Hobby Farm Home Contest. Now until March 31, 2009, send in a photo of your farm diorama of course using Schleich animal figurines and accessories, and you could win a Schleich Red Barn valued at $159.99! Hey, what a great photography lesson, farm life theme study and I am sure for those of you out there more creative then me, can come up with even more things to study just for this contest! Have fun and good luck!

10 out of 10

Monday, March 23, 2009

Critical Thinking

Critical Thining is a company who has so many parent, teacher in addition to other educational awards as well as they should. First let me say that I actually have been using Critical Thinking Language Arts for my son for a year now and we love it. But then I got so lucky as to review 2 math books. One for my son, Level B: Mathematical reasoning and one for my daughter Beginning 1: Mathematical Reasoning. So I am going to review each product separately.

Level B: Mathematical Reasoning:
Now first I do have to say that I was given 1st grade math and my son is currently doing 2nd grade math. But I had him go through this math book skipping around to some things that I thought might be a great review or a bit more challenging for him. He loved it! He thought that this was a great math book. He loved the fact that the whole book is in color, which makes it more interesting and he love, the fact that the pages did not have too much stuff on them. You know how some math books can have 20 addition problems on a page. For some children, my son, that can be very overwhelming and way too busy. This math books is more then just drill, its concepts that are built upon. And we love that. You never just sit stagnant on the same subject for days and days, but a continual review of what has been learned my son give this a 10 out of 10 and said he would like to get the next grade level up for our next years math! We will be ordering soon!

But the only thing I did not like is the fact there are no suggestions on how to go about teaching. Like another math program I use it give you daily suggestions to help guide the parent on what to teach and review etc. But at this stage in math I think it is pretty easy to figure out. I give this one an 8 out of 10.

Beginning 1: mathematical Reasoning:
My daughter, 3 ½, loved this. The very first day we did 7 pages. The next day we did 8 and so on. Currently we have been just doing flash cards and some hands on things etc. So this is her first math workbook. Everyday she asks to do math now. With this book it seems to again just build and build upon what she has learned. The book is easy enough that it captures and retains her attention but hard enough that she is learning as we go I am so thankful for getting this math book. My daughter and I give a 10 out of 10 for this product.

So overall, I think you can see that we love Critical Thinking. We will be ordering more books from them for our next years' classes. Now the Beginning 1 is $29.99 and the Level B is $32.99. That’s not bad considering what I currently pay for my math program now. Check them out. Homeschool conventions are going to be starting soon. See if they are there and take a hand on look or even go to their site. They have plenty of sample pages for each of the curriculum so you can give it a try with your child. I don’t think you will be sorry you tried their products. There is always room for some Mathematical reasoning!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Alphabet Alley Magnet Playset

Ok, this has got to be one of the greatest little products my daughter (3) has received to review for me. When I got this in the mail I first thought of those peel and cling/stick things (can not remember the name) I had as a child. Oh, but no this is so much more durable. This is “Our New Baby Magnetic Playset” form Alphabet Alley. I got this product over 2 weeks ago and she has not had them put away more then one day since. And I think that was because we had a field trip that day.

Now do not laugh, but my son (7) has been playing with them too. Both my kids love to play together (which I praise God for) and he has been the Dad while she had been the boss, excuse me I mean Mom as well as the kids.

At $14.99 this is a great addition to your family or a great gift for a young girls birthday. I am actually going to order a couple of the other magnet sets because of the durability. I have had other magnetic sets from other companies, but they have since been destroyed with "el-destructo" daughter of mine. This one, however will last!

10 out of 10

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Homeschooling in the Woods

If you love to lapbook, you will LOVE this product.

Homeschool in the Woods sent to me the New Testament Lapbook. I already had purchased the Old Testament and loved it, but then to be so lucky as to get to review the New Testament one too. WOW! Lucky me!

Amy Pak is the creator of this wonderful product. She has impressed me with her knowledge of history, her customer service, and her products and how complete the materials are as well as all the information and resources she gives you on her site for free.

A few of the things that is included in the New Testament Lap books are:
The Lineage of David,
The Birth of Jesus
The Beatitudes
Fruits of the Spirit (my daughter favorite project)
And much, much more

Not only does she give you all the things you need to put this lapbook together, but also she then gives you extra projects to do. For only $19.95 for CD or $18.95 for download, you cannot go wrong! Now for my Old Testament I got the CD and for the New I go the downloadable version. Really depends on you and what you like, Personally CD for me, but with download you get it instantly!
Check out Homeschooling In The Woods site. I think you will be more then impressed in all that you get with ALL Homeschooling in the Woods products. They have many wonderful products to assist you in your history assignments to make HISTORY COME ALIVE!

10 out of 10

Friday, March 13, 2009

Savings of up to 80%

Do you like saving up to 80%? Get next year's shopping done early and for less money at the March Madness sale inthe Schoolhouse Store! Check out some of the unit studies and copy work to help round out this school year or for fun summer activities. Almost 200 items are on sale from vendors suchas Auralog, Trigger Memory, Draw and Write Through History, American Schoolhouse Readers, and MANY more. Start shopping and saving NOW!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Homeschool Moms Psalm

A friend of mine sent this to me. I am not sure if she came up with this or if she got it from somewhere else, but I thought it was a great and I wanted to post here in my blog. The bible verses were taken from Psalm 4.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.Give me relief from my distress;Be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”

Lord, today has been a long day of homeschooling. I am not so sure that I am cut out for this job. Are you sure you called me to this?

How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.”

Lord, I admit that I am guilty of seeking the false god of education. I strap it on my children’s backs and burden us all with my expectations and insecurities. I want to do a good job… but I worry that I am not. What if I mess up, Lord? This is too important to do it wrong. I know that I am part of a remnant of people that You have called to be set apart… to do things differently from the culture with an eye on the prize of raising warriors for You. Help me do that Lord—and help me keep academics in the proper perspective.

In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.”

Lord, sometimes at night I lie in bed and go over my day. I review all the things I did wrong and pray for You to erase all the bad stuff from my children’s minds. I know You have called me to sacrifice my sense of self, my time, and my agenda in the name of spending day in and day out teaching my children. I am learning that even on my worst days, I have to stay committed to this calling, continue making the sacrifices, and choose to trust You to bring out the best in all of us, no matter how badly I blow it.

Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Lord, I hear people lament over the state of our country. They wonder about the youth of our nation and seem to just throw their hands up, resigned that there is no use trying to change the direction things are going. And yet, I look at these children you have given me and I see hope in spite of my many mistakes. I see them displaying character, learning to work and value money, to be kind, and to hunger and thirst for You. Lord, it is true that there is no greater joy than to see your children walking with You. I thank You for these little glimpses all along the way that fill my heart with joy and give me the strength I need to get up tomorrow morning and do it all again.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One 2 Believe - Noah's Ark

One 2 Believe has shipped to me once again. YEA!!!! So far we have NOT been disappointed by any of their products. They are of great quality and will withstand time and time again of play.

This time they shipped to us Noah's Ark. This was a great way for them to have pretend play while still learning more about Noah. The Noah's Ark play set is a great way to strengthen the Noah's Ark story with your kids. Kids remember better when they have something to play with in their hands. Oh and they can take this in the tub with them too. I actually was not going to do this until I read another of my co-TOS reviewers review that said that they tried this. This Ark is part of their Tales of Glory collection and you get of course a Noah, 7 pairs of animals, and a big ark that you can store all the figures in.

For $29.99 you have a great toy that will last for a very long, long time and withstand several children playing. It will help you to relive the Noah story with your children and who knows maybe you can build a curriculum around the animals too. Oh, and did I mention I belong to a playgroup that meets 2x a month. I brought this to the playgroup and it was an INSTANT SUCCESS!

10 out of 10

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Artistic Pursuits: the Art curriculum for Creativity

Artistic Pursuits: the Art curriculum for Creativity. That is their title. You know what? It fits perfectly. I received Grades K-3 Book One. An Introduction to Visual Arts. After just 2 lessons I realized that this was a wonderfully gentle introduction not only to art but famous art pieces and artists.

I have been trying to do art studies, but just have not been able to put my finger on how to go about doing it. In the K-3 Book One each lesson has a copy of a beautiful piece of artwork and asks the child a few questions about this piece of art as well as give a few tid-bits about the artwork and/or artist. The thing is that this helps me to ask a few more questions and sometimes I will look up the piece or artist and give even a little bit more info to my children, which in turns we are now doing a mini art history study. Then to add to it, we get create our own picture to go along with that artist/artwork we studied today.

The main three topics are:
What Artists Do
What Artists See
Where We Find Art

If you are looking for a gentle approach to art and want to add a little art appreciation into an art lesson, Artistic Pursuits is a great program. I was looking over some of their other title. You have to check them out for the older kids too. Looks like their workbooks for the older kids are really kid directed. Another words, each lesson is written so the student can complete the work without a parent directing every step. I like that. I will for sure be continuing on with their art books.

As far as price, well, it is a bit pricey at $42.95, but you do get 32 lessons with the book I received and if you consider the thought of classes this is pretty cheap. At any rate, if you are just not an artist and want to incorporate art into your homeschool, this is probably a really good fit for you. Go check them out and see for yourself. They have plenty of samples for you to look at.

8 out of 10

Monday, March 2, 2009

Five in a Row

Last year my son and I learned a little bit about Early American History. Just mainly the Indians. We used a well know literature based curriculum. To this day my son can recite the information he learned from those books. Now you may be asking why do I bring that up when I am reviewing Five In A Row (FIAR). Well, because that is basically what FIAR is. A literature based curriculum. Here is basically what you do. Each day for 5 days you read the same book. From that you will teach about Bible, Science, Literature, Geography, Social Studies, Math, Health, Art, and Language etc.

Jane Claire Lambert is a very talented lady to have put these books together. She has curriculum from Pr-K ($24.95), which was the book I received all the way to Beyond FIAR ($24.95). But I have to mention that I was also given, by a friend, FIAR volume 1 ($35.00) as well as FIAR Bible Study Supplement ($25.00).

Now, first let me say I am not a unit study type of person. I like curriculum that spells it all out for me and then if I want to research and add then I can. If you are like me then this curriculum might be a bit burdensome. There is prep work to do at the end of each week to prepare for the following week.

As for the Pre-K, it was really not that much prep work and my daughter (3) as well as my son (7) really enjoyed the books. We had a lot of fun going through the Pre-K FIAR.

I decided that since my friend was giving me her very used volume 1 of FIAR, I would give it a try too. Once again I did not expect the prep work involved so I was not prepared that first week. However, once I got the hang of it, I felt that this was a very gentle approach to school at home and by adding in a phonics program and a math program this would make a complete curriculum.

However, the Bible Study Supplement I LOVED! I found that reading all the stories and finding ways to incorporate the Bible into these stories was phenomenal. My kids enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.

I have very mixed feelings on the basic curriculum though. I liked it and I think this would work for those who want a more relaxed approach to school and for those parents who are willing to spend a little time researching the information that is needed to teach. I LOVE the idea a reading literature to teach!!!! Will I continue to use this curriculum? Yes, but as a supplement. Will I continue to use the Bible Study? Absolutely, with out a doubt!

Here is what I think you should do. Check out the site, check out their message boards, their price list and see for yourself. See what you think. Once again if you like unit studies then this would be great for you. If you like it all spelled out, then this might be a great supplement.

7 out of 10 and 9 out of 10 (Bible Study)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Choosing Your School Year Schedule

One of the most difficult tasks to accomplish with homeschooling is planning your schedule. We sit down a month or so before we are ready to begin school and we outline everything we want to accomplish. Then we plan out what we are going to accomplish each day of every week. We are going to get up and start school by 8 a.m. each day and finish by noon. Everything looks perfect. This is going to be the best year ever!

As the first week approaches 2 of my children come down with colds, church has asked me to substitute teach for the next month and I don’t have any lesson plans. My son decides he wants to join cub scouts, our local 4-H club starts up a new archery club that my kids want to join, and I find out that our co-op has 2 new classes in which we want to participate. I contemplate it for a moment, and determine that I will start our official school next week so I can begin to fit everything in and nurse my children back to health. Sometime during this week, I will sit down and adjust our schedule. This week delay turns into two. Before I know it, I am stressed and everything seems like drudgery.

Any of this ring true for you?

Believe it or not, you don’t have to let a setback such as the storyline above put the Kybosh on your schedule. Let’s start at the beginning. When you are making your schedule, you have to build in flexibility from the very start. You are going to have days and/or events that pop up unexpectedly. Build in some extra time by only planning lessons for 3-4 days per week, but stretching them over five days when possible. Another option is to build in an extra week into your over all schedule. If you work on a unit for five weeks, allow yourself six weeks so you have a few days to overcome some of life’s unexpected blunders.

Secondly, consider your overall plan. What are your goals? Do you want your children to know everything there is to know about simple machines? Perhaps you would like them to be detailed in their knowledge of the subject, but if life happens, you can refer to a list that will state your goals in order of priority. Consider yourself on the right path if you accomplish 3-5 of those goals with excellence. This does not mean you should strive for mediocrity, by any means. The more important focus is that your children are learning what is most important. Life happens and priorities need to be in place to allow for the ebb and flow of life. For example, if your child tires of simple machines, wrap up the study early and earmark the area to return to in small segments between other units. This is where your flexibility really comes in to play. If your child is not attending to the study well, breaking it up and placing it between other more interesting studies may be a key for you accomplishing all your goals, just in a different time frame than you originally planned.

You are not perfect. Say this out loud. Say it more audibly so everyone in the room can hear you. We all plan more than we will ever accomplish with our children. Do not let your focus on academics override other issues such as character, coping skills, and conflict resolution for example. If you ask any homeschool mom if she accomplishes every teaching assignment she originally planned with any given subject, the answer will be no. Many moms prefer to plan their entire year in advance, while others may plan by the quarter, month, or even semester. While planning the entire year does have its benefits, it can also put an undue stress on a mom when life gets her off track for a bit. Remember why you are homeschooling. If life hits you broadside, take a day or two to swallow and digest, before moving forward with the rest of your plan. Allow for check points throughout the year, so you can evaluate and adjust your schedule accordingly. No schedule is written in stone.

With anything you do, the number one best method to help with your scheduling issues is to take it to God in prayer. I often find myself asking Him to remind me of His desire for my life, the lives of my children, and my role as the primary educator. I often ask the silliest requests pertaining to schedule adjustment, but in addition I ask for correct motivation and proper attitude when I react to setbacks. This not only allows God to be in the driver’s seat, but it sets an excellent example to your children about scheduling in their own lives. Cutting back on activities outside of the home isn’t such a hardship when your children see that you are doing the same as well. Making scheduling a priority is important for all children to see. That may require you turning off all phones, screens, and other digital devices for a certain amount of time each day or it may require that one evening per week you will need to incorporate a music lesson, when you get behind for some reason. Isn’t this one of the reasons you chose to homeschool?

Lastly, I want to remind you to be honest with yourself about your family’s personality traits. Do not start an expensive time intensive science curriculum if your children are not overly interested in science and you aren’t either. You can spend the money more wisely by saving it, or choosing another curriculum that your family may enjoy. Try a less intense curriculum and supplement with easy and simple hands on activities. There are many tricks to scheduling, but if the method doesn’t fit your style, it will never be as effective as it could be.

If you enjoyed this article it was written by Leslie Valeska Her family operates Fresh Gear Solutions, LLC. She is the founder and director of Simple Journey Ministries which was established to encourage, inspire, and support women on their journey to Godly womanhood. Leslie is also employed as a vintage seamstress by Vintage Vixen.