Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Beloved Books


It is amazing to me when God shows us He cares about all of our needs no matter how big or small.  When we were chosen to review the Sugar Creek Gang volume one audio series from Beloved Books, I can honestly say it was an answer to prayer and God meeting the need of an eight year old boy that may seem small to some, but was huge to him.


The Sugar Creek Gang is a series of 36 books that were written in 1939 by Paul Hutchens.  Paul Hutchens first career was an evangelist.  He traveled around the country leading people to Christ.  In 1925 he was ordained as a Baptist minister but was sidelined from the ministry when he contracted tuberculosis.  While recovering Paul decided to try his hand at writing and that's how the Sugar Creek Gang stories came about.  They are adventure stories written for both boys and girls to enjoy.  They are so much more than adventure stories.  They are wholesome, family friendly Christian stories with the Gospel message central to the stories.  Though the stories are full of fun, mystery, and adventure, they really present the Gospel to children in an easy to understand (and then model) way.

Several years ago, Paul Ramseyer dramatized the series for radio.  These recordings are dramatically read straight from the books.  The entire 36 book collection is now on 72 CD's (2 Cd's for each book)  and includes over 100 hours of story time.

Vol 1

The Swamp Robber
The Killer Bear
The Winter Rescue
The Lost Campers
Chicago Adventure
The Secret Hideout

Vol 2

The Mystery Cave
The Palm Tree Manhunt
One Stormy Day
The Mystery Thief
Teacher Trouble
Screams in the Night

Vol 3

The Indian Cemetary
The Treasure Hunt
Thousand Dollar Fish
The Haunted House
Lost in the Blizzard
On the Mexican Border

Vol 4

The Green Tent Mystery
The Bull Fighter
The Trapline Thief
The Blue Cow
The Watermelon Mystery
The Tree House Mystery

Vol 5

The Timber Wolf
Western Adventure
The Killer Cat
Locked in the Attic
The Colorado Kidnapping
The Runaway Rescue

Vol 6

Cemetery Vandals
Battle of the Bees
Case of the Missing Calf
The Ghost Dog
White Boat Rescue
Brown Box Mystery

You can listen to the entire first story, The Swamp Robber free by clicking here.

You can purchase each volume for $54.95 or the entire set for $279.70 (a savings of $50)  with free media mail shipping.  Click here to order.

Special Discount for my readers!!
 Use coupon code  Happy-Homeschool-20 to receive 20% off your entire purchase!!

I heard about the Sugar Creek Gang books a few months ago when I was searching for book recommendations for my boys.  My oldest son loved them and read all the ones he could get his hands on.  He would sit and talk them all the time and how he couldn't wait to read the next ones in the series.  My 8 year old is dyslexic and reading is a huge struggle for him.  He listened to his older brother talk and talk about the Sugar Creek Gang and he felt so left out because he couldn't read them.  He didn't want me to read them to him either.  He asked me one day if they made Sugar Creek Gang in an audiobook (he listens to a lot of audiobooks), and I told him I would look into it and see if I could find any.  Shortly after that, Beloved Books appeared on our upcoming vendor list.  I had never heard of the company before so I clicked on the website to see what their product was.  I couldn't believe it when I saw that they carried the complete set of Sugar Creek Gang audiobooks!!  I hoped and prayed that we would be chosen to receive a set for review and soon found out that we were getting the entire first volume!!

I didn't tell Alex what was coming.  When I saw the package in the mail I saved it for him to open.  I wished I had taken a picture of the look on his face when he saw what was in the package.  His smile lit up the whole house and it was all I could do not to burst out crying!  Even though he could not read them on his own, the audiobooks have allowed him to enjoy these wonderful, uplifting stories.

Alex colors or draws while listening to the Sugar Creek Gang

Alex isn't the only one who has enjoyed these wonderful audiobooks.  We spend a lot of time driving and have been listening to them on the road.  Although the targeted age range is from about 6-12 years old, the whole family from the youngest to the oldest delights in listening to the adventures of Bill, Poetry, Circus, Dragonfly, Big Jim, and Little Jim.  Even though the main characters are all boys and the adventures are a bit "boyish" they can be enjoyed by girls too.  We love the narrators voices and the dramatic sound effects in the story.  In fact, the children told me that the aubiobooks sound way better than anything I have read out loud.  But the best part about the Sugar Creek Gang is that it does present the message of the gospel in a way that is easy for children to learn and understand.  These are the stories and characters that you want to have your boys look up to and learn from.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy pf Vol 1 of the Sugar Creek Gang for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation. 


Homeschool Art Class 10/26/2012

After Friday's At Class, the children and I had to go out of town.  I still wanted to post some pictures even though it is a little late.

We finished up Egypt this week.  Next week with will be moving on to Rome.  This week the children did some more drawing exercises with things related to Egypt.  They were given a series of directions they had to follow (ex. draw a pyramid above the Nile River.)  Then they were shown some Egyptian illustrations and got to choose one to duplicate.  They also drew mummies in pencil, then outlined them in marker, colored, cut ,and glued them to another paper.  Their favorite project was to make a sundial.  They painted a circular piece of paper yellow and put a stamp at 12,3,6. and 9 o clock and put a string on it.  They thought that was so cool!  Anthony went running outside to try to tell the time, but it was raining and the sun was not out.

The little girls drew with pencils and crayons.  Lily did decide she wanted to paint and joined the older children to make the sundial.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October Cloverbud Meeting

For our October meeting, I decided to have a meeting on pumpkins.  I needed something fun for fall that could be finished including feeding the children a snack in about an hour.  I bought bags of mini pumpkins from Walmart for $2.50 a piece (5 in each bag.)  I also bought a pack of Crayola washable paint for $4.97.  Our club does not have very much monye, so to offset the cost of supplies I am having each child contribute $1 for supplies every meeting we have. 

We started out the meeting with pledges, announcements, and information about our next meeting.  Then a read a book to the children about pumpkins showing pumpkin growth from the seed to the finished product.  I used my iPad to read the story because I had found a free ebook on pumpkins from Amazon that I downloaded to my Kindle app.  Then we painted pumpkins!  I had two for each child.  One to take home and one to donate to the nursing home.  The meeting including snack lasted right at an hour.

We were supposed to be playing soccer last night after the meeting.  It would've been the last game for Nick and Christian (Alex's team has another week.)  I made cupcakes for the team we are coaching as a special treat.  But, a little after 4 it started to pour down rain and there was a flash of lightening or two.  Games cancelled.  It is very hard to try to be conducting a 4 H meeting when you keep getting phone calls and text messages about soccer that I had to return so everyone would know we were cancelled.  That made things a little more chaotic than usual.  I was very thankful for some helpful parents!!  The 17 painting children did a great job on their pumpkins and the nursing home will be able to enjoy the ones we donated.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Samson's Classroom


Samson's Classroom is an online series that helps students in grades K-5 become better readers.  The program focuses on 3 areas: spelling, sight words, and reading comprehension.  For the last several weeks I have had an opportunity to use and review Samson's Classroom with my eight year old son Alex.


Let's talk about the 3 different areas in Samson's Classroom (Samson by the way is the cute dog in the graphics.)


Sight Words With Samson helps students master the 224 most common words used in the English language.  Sight Words With Samson is divided into four levels.  Each level has 7 lists with 8 words in each list.  They go through 5 steps with every list.  Step one is to learn the words.  The words are spoken, shown, spelled and said in a sentence.  In the second step the student builds the words that is spoken and spelled by clicking on the letters that are shown.  In the 3rd step the student clicks on the word as it is read in a complete sentence.  In step 4 they spell the words that is spoken by clicking on the letters in the alphabet.  Step 5 (pictured above) a sentence is read and the child fills in the missing word.  As each step is completed feedback is received and an online trophy is earned.  Children have to master each of the 5 steps to earn a star for that list and move on to the next list.  As  they complete each level they earn a different color belt.


Reading With Samson is reading comprehension.  It is split into 4 levels with 15-25 passages in each level.  The student reads a passage and then answers questions about that passage.  They earn hammer swings for getting correct answers and hammer points on their swings.



Spelling With Samson- over 5000 spelling words in prepared lists, or you can choose to input your own words.  There are 4 areas to Spelling With Samson: Study Zone- master the words on your list, Missing Letters- help Samson his way through the missing letters, Spelling Scramble- watch out for Terrance the Tarantula as you collect letters and turn them into words, and Crunch Time- watch out for Wally the Walrus as you try to keep Samson warm and dry by spelling all the words correctly.

You can try a demo of Samson's Classroom by clicking here.

The cost of Samson's Classroom for one user is $30 per year or for a family of up to 4 is $50 per year.  To see all the pricing options click here

The main reason I was so excited about the opportunity to review Samson's Classroom was because of the reading comprehension section.  For the first time this year, my son will have to take a standardized test and I thought this would be a great way to practice.  Now as 8 year old boys sometimes do when they think they are getting more "work" he grumbled a little bit when I told him about the new website.  But, once we started using it, he actually asked to do it!  Alex is a struggling reader and so I have been doing the reading comprehension section with him by reading it out loud and him answering the questions.  We also are working on building his vocabulary with the sight words and spelling sections.  Earning the trophies and the different color belts have been a great motivator for him even though he grumbles a bit when he has to go back and redo the step when he makes a mistake.

He was so excited about using the website, that he got very disappointed when our laptop wasn't working.  I didn't want to dim his enthusiasm so we loaded Samson's Classroom on the iPad using an app called iSwifter.  Samson's Classroom worked great on the iPad too!

There is immediate feedback for the child and a lot of encouragement.  The words and sentences are spoken clearly and are easily understood.  The program is simple to log in to and to use.  There are not a lot of bells and whistles (that is a positive thing!) but simple graphics and fun activities.  Earning hammer time swings and points didn't make a whole lot of sense to me because the points don't really get you anything but possibly your name on a leader board, but Alex thinks it is great fun and will do an extra assignment just to earn more hammer swings.  Parents can easily see exactly how their child is doing through their dashboard.  There are also many printable flash cards and work sheets that can be printed out for extra practice or reinforcement.  Samson's Classroom has definitely been a great addition to our homeschool.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary subscription to Samson's Classroom for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


How Long Is Too Long ?

My precious Emelia is almost 20 months old.  She is growing up so fast!!  She sleeps in a toddler bed, no longer sits in a high chair, can feed herself quite well with a spoon or fork, and speaks full sentences.  Listening to her talk is so funny because you just do not expect someone that little to speak so well.  She is also able to ask and answer questions.  The other day we were outside and she started walking towards the shop.  I said, "Emmie where are you going?"  Emmie, "To get daddy."  Me, "Where is daddy?"  Emmie, "At the van."  She is an amazing little thing.  But yes even though she has the ability to feed herself and eat just about anything, I am still nursing her.

Just like anything else, people have very strong opinions on breastfeeding.  I know I do.  But, since they are my children I guess that is a good thing.  It still amazes me that even those who may agree that breastfeeding an infant is best, think that once they are over a year old it is ridiculous to continue.  There are even those who argue that nursing an older child could actually harm the child (which is absolutely crazy!)

 The health benefits from breast feeding still exist for an older baby.  Even though the baby can eat many table foods, breastfeeding still is the perfect food for them and provides them with a lot of nutrients.  Breastfeeding provides a protective effect against respiratory illness, ear infections, allergies, asthma, and gastrointestinal disease just to name a few.   In addition to the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, breastfeeding provides a very special bond between the mom and the baby.  Breastfeeding provides a sense of closeness and also comfort when the baby is hurt or sick.

So how long is too long?  As long as both mommy and baby still want to continue breastfeeding it is not too long.  When either mommy or baby decide they want to stop then it is time to stop.  The decision to stop breastfeeding should not be because of age or other's opinions that it is time to stop.  You should nurse your child as long as you and baby want to continue nursing. 

How long will we keep nursing?  As long as Emelia wants to continue we will continue.  She still nurses several times during the day and at night.  When she wakes at night she gets down out f her bed and puts the pillow I nurse her on up against the side of the bed to wait for me to come in, I nurse her, and she goes back to sleep.  I cherish even those middle of the night breastfeeding moments and am going to for as long as they last.

Read why breastfeeding is the right choice for you and your baby here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Crossbow Education


Crossbow Education are specialists in teaching aides for children and adults,  with Dyslexia and Visual Stress.  Their goal is to help identify dyslexic tendencies and provide tools to aid in everyday tasks.  They carry a variety of products including reading rulers and colored overlays, sand timers, phonics and spelling, and language arts materials.  They also have a lot of links to helpful information about dyslexia and visual stress on their homepage.  We received the 10 pack of Eye Level Reading Rulers to use and review. Photobucket

  The eye level reading ruler is a 6 inch long colored overlay text highlighter.  It is made of a combination of opaque and transparent plastic that both underlines and highlights the text in colored tint.  The ruler contains two windows, one for one line of reading and a wider one for reading paragraphs.  The ruler has a gloss or matt surface and helps to reduce glare, assist with tracking, and improve focus.

The ten pack we received contains one ruler in each of the following colors:  yellow, celery, grass, jade, aqua, sky, purple, magenta, pink, and orange.  The reader can use all 10 colors and decide which color (or more than one color) works best for them, and then in future orders can order a 10 pack of that color.  There is "right" color, the color that works best will depend on the individual reader.  The 10 pack costs $16.95 and can be ordered here.  The eye level reading ruler is also available in a 5 pack for $9.45.

My 8 year old son tested out the eye level reading rulers.  We liked that the rulers had both a glossy and matte finish.  Another benefit is the double window, the small being for one line, and the larger being wider to read a paragraph.  We used the small window to help him focus and concentrate on one line at a time.  It did help him focus just on what he was reading and not to be distracted by all of the words on the page. We tried all of the different colors and he decided that orange worked the best for him.  The rulers are very durable and easy to slip into a book and take it with you.

We do not do a lot of reading out of textbooks.  Most of what Alex reads are smaller readers.  The 6 inch reading ruler is much longer than the book which made it a little awkward for him to use.  The rulers can be easily trimmed down to the size you need them to be, but I would like to see them offered in a smaller size as well.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary pack of reading rulers for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Little Rock Zoo Field Trip

One of the benefits of being part of a homeschool group, is being able to get a group rate to educational places that we want to go, and also having friends come along with you.  My children really wanted to go to the Little Rock Zoo, and the group rate for 15 or more people is only $5 each.  The regular rate is $10 each for 12 and up and $8 for under 12.  That is a huge cost savings for our family just on admission.  Plus, the cost of the train and carousel is reduced for groups also.  So, I thought I would see if anyone in our homeschool group would be interested in taking a field trip.  I set it up 2 months ago and the children have been anxiously awaiting Zoo Day! 

Zoo Day was yesterday.  I was worried that that it might end up being too cold, or it would rain, but the weather was absolutely perfect!  It was partly cloudy and right around 84 degrees.  We ended up with 32 people coming on the trip.  A few of the families went through and did the zoo on their own, and a few of us stayed together and went through the zoo together.

My friend Brandy and her family rode to Little Rock with us and we had decided that we would feed the children breakfast on the drive up, get a snack at the zoo, and eat our packed lunch on the way home because you are not allowed to bring any food or drinks besides water bottles into the zoo.  This worked out really well for us.  We got there at 10, had a snack a little before 12, and were on our way home by 2. 

Nick loves maps, so he lead us through the zoo.  He wanted to make sure that we didn't miss anything (last time we went we didn't get to see the eagles.)  We did end up missing the bears and the otters because they were doing construction in that area.  Also, the zebras and the rhinos were not there.  You also could noy get into the indoor area where the birds fly around you.  But, everything that we were able to see, we saw.

The children's favorite parts of the zoo was the reptile house, the prairie dogs, and the cheetah exhibit.  But, their absolute favorite was the penguin exhibit!  The children ran back and forth in front of the tank and the penguins followed them.  They also would follow their hands up and down and right and left as thy moved them in front of the tank.  They all think it would be great to have a pet penguin!

We did buy the discount train tickets and the children loved the train ride!  I did not think it really was worth the regular price of $3 per person, but for $1 each it was worth it.  I do wish that as you rode past the animal areas you would be able to see through the fences.

It was a wonderful field trip!  The children already are talking about when we can go back again.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 10/20/12

Can you believe I forgot to take my camera to Art Class?  I did have quite a few things to get together and remember Friday morning, but still was surprised when I went to pull my camera out to take some pictures and I didn't have it.  I did have my phone, but it is a non smart phone and doesn't take fabulous pictures.  I did take a couple but forgot to go back and get one of Nick and Alex.  Oh well.  I will be sure to bring it next week.

Class was a little chaotic!!  We had a new homeschool student and our teacher has a new assistant, so maybe the new people combined with the pretty fall weather just made the children hyper.  Anyway, the younger girls did some water color paintings while the boys worked on some more Egyptian drawings.  They had an opportunity to draw and marker a Pharoah and some pyramid.  After working on those for awhile we changed gears and did a cartoon drawing using different shapes while the girls drew whatever they wanted.  Then the girls were coloring, so the boys wanted to also.  They got to color Yoda (they all love Star Wars) and a hockey stick and puck with markers.  I thought it was really cute that Anthony signed his name on each of his papers in Hieroglyphics which we learned in class a few weeks ago.  We will continue working on Egyptian art next week.

When the weather is nice, we go to the park after class and have a picnic before heading out to Walmart to buy groceries.  This week we had enough time to eat and the children had only been playing a few minutes when a public school bus pulled up.  It was about 1:00 in the afternoon and it dropped off 20 or so High School students to play on the play equipment.  Really??  15,16,17 year old students to play on play equipment at the park in the middle of the school day.  We decided not to stay and packed up and left.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: WealthQuest For Teens


WealthQuest For Teens mission is to have this generation of teens prepared to meet the financial realities of adulthood with confidence and competence.  Jill Suskind, a public high school teacher created this program for teens ages 14-19, though it can be used with adults too.  WealthQuest for teens is not a get rich quic program, instead it is a financial literacy program designed to empower teens with habits and attitudes about money that lead to wealth.


Wealthquest for Teens is designed to take about 6 weeks or so to complete but can be adapted to fit your needs.   The first component of the program  is a video and interactive workbook seminar containing 7 modules: 1. Welcome, Intentions, and Overview of Program 2. Your Habits Determine Your Net Worth 3. The First Thing You Need In Order to Become Rich: Income 4. The Second Thing You Need In Order to Become Rich: Knowledge About Money 5.  The Third Thing You Need In Order To Become Rich: A Great Money Management System 6.  The Fourth Thing You Need In Order to Become Rich: A Really Good Reason!  7.  A Look at Financial Freedom. 


The second component is a downloadable workbook for teens to complete.  This workbook contains 30 short daily lessons.  It can either be printed out or read from a computer screen and the answers written in a notebook.

The third part involves setting up a free account on www.moneytrail.net ,creating 6 accounts for your silo system, and work on moving tracking, spending, and saving your money.  Students are then asked to choose a book on money management and read it.

With the purchase of the WealthQuest for Teens program, the fourth part, a downloadable Parent Guide is also included.  This a 60 page e book for the parents to read before or while their teen is working through the program.  It contains 7 chapters:  Teen Financial Literacy: Defining the Goal, Problem and Solution, Origins and Overview of the Online Video Program: The Basic Seminar For Teens, Recognizing the Old School Model: Mistakes Parents Unintentionally Make, The New School Model: What to Teach and How to Measure Success, Allowance and Jobs: The Pitfalls and the Possibilities,  Teen Philanthrophy: The Black Belt Level of Teen Financial Literacy, The New Normal: Financial Literacy as a Peer Group Movement For Teens and a Grassroots Movement For Parents.

The cost of the WealthQuest Basic Seminar For Teens is $39.95.  Click here to order.

My 15 year old daughter completed the WealthQuest Basic Seminar.  She finished the video series quickly over a couple of days.  We downloaded and printed the workbook and the activities in it only took about 10 minutes to read per day.  She easily set up and started using the online money account and read a book on money management.  The whole program took her about 4 weeks to complete.  I asked her to tell me what she thought of the program.  She said, "WealthQuest for teens was a wonderful program that every teen should study.  The things I learned such as what my attitude towards money should be, how to make my money work for me, and how to set my goals expanded on my knowledge on how to handle my money.  I now use the Silo System modified to suit my needs (I don't have to buy any of my own necessities.)  It was a fun, worthwhile course."

 I liked that the program was enjoyable for Chelsea and she is putting what she has learned into practice.  The program was easy to use.  I loved the interactive feature that allowed the student to type their answers on the screen as they were watching the video.  

I wish that there was a way to rewind the videos.  Even though you can watch each video multiple times it would've been helpful  to go back and hear parts of the video again without having to listen to the whole thing.  The parent guide was helpful but not absolutely necessary to the program.  I appreciate the fact that it was written in a "conversational tone" but at times I thought it went a little over the top and made it hard for me to read and take it seriously (the use of OMG, and blah, blah, sob, sob, blame, blame are two specific examples.)  Quotation mark instead of apostrophes are used in the Parent Guide which was also distracting.  The program is a "peer led" program which is not always a good thing.  You also may be interested to know that it is a secular program although it does encourage the teen to donate money to their favorite cause it does not discuss church or tithing.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary WealthQuest For Teens Seminar for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no further compensation.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tomatoes and Drums

Now that;s an interesting title for a Blog Post.  First, tomatoes.  We planted a variety of seeds back in March.  Each of the children picked a seed and we planted them.  I am terrible at growing things. The herbs Christian planted never grew.  The sunflowers Anthony picked grew, but died during the drought when we went out of town this summer.  Same with the corn Alex picked.  Nicholas's carrots and Chelsea's beans started to grow but were eaten by something.  Lily planted tomatoes.  The plants grew and grew but we never got any blossoms or tomatoes on them.  Then, recently they started getting blossoms.  Today, we went outside and there was not one, but two green tomatoes!  She was so excited!  She sat down next to the plant because she wanted to watch it grow.  So cute!  I hope it grows big enough to eat before we get a frost.

Alex has wanted a drum set for a very long time.  He drums on everything all the time.  A friend of ours was selling her sons 5 piece starter set because he was ready for a bigger set.  We decided to buy the drum set and give it to Alex as an early birthday present.  He was so excited!!

I ordered a starter book and DVD from Rainbow Resource, but in the meantime found a free online video instruction for beginners.  I know nothing about the drums.  I played Clarinet for years and can also play some piano.  But, after watching the video I managed to do just fine giving Alex a drum lesson and after working with him for about 20 minutes he could easily play the first rhythm on the video.  He has really good rhythm and he loves his drum set.  The drums are located in the family room for now, but once the walls and floor are completed, they will move to the living room upstairs.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Let Boys Be Boys

More and more lately I have been hearing comments from parents of very young boys (8 and under) about how they think there is something wrong with their sons.  They don't want to sit still, are easily distracted, don't seem to listen very well, and they don't do very well with their school work.  On our 6 and under soccer team, 8 of the 10 children are boys, 2 of those boys are already medicated for attention deficit disorders and at least one other mother is in the process of getting her son evaluated to be on medication.  I really believe that maybe people's perception or expectations of their boys may be the real problem.

Boys today are expected to sit in a desk at school for 6 hours a day.  They are given very little out door recess time and almost no free play time.  Then they might get to go home for awhile where they are forced to sit and complete their homework before they are whisked off to various activities or lessons of some sort.  Then it's bed and time to start all over again.  Are these realistic expectations?

Now I am not an "expert", but I am in the process of raising 4 boys.  I also have spent many years working with young children in Sunday School, 4 H, soccer, and other activities and there are some things that are just "normal" for boys. 

Boys have A LOT of energy and need to have creative outlets to be able to use it.  They need to run, jump, and play outside.  They need to have free time to build forts out of limbs in the backyard and climb trees.  They need to bounce balls and see who can jump the farthest.  They need physical activity several times a day.  Sitting still for hours on end is pure torture. 

Boys have an internal skill to turn just about anything into a weapon.  Really.  Blocks, sticks, string, Legos, hairbrushes, kitchen utensils, just about anything can become guns, knives, swords, or a bow and arrow.  It is a boy thing and it is completely normal.

Most boys could really care less about completing worksheets.  Many boys are hands on learners and being able to go out and do it makes much more sense then circling something on a worksheet.

To get boys to sit still and pay attention for a reasonable amount of time you have to keep their hands busy.  Building blocks, Legos, drawing pads, are all great things for boys to do while they need to be listening quietly.

Boys don't care much about cleanliness.  Yes it is normal for them to wallow in the dirt and attempt to wear the same stinky shirt 5 days in a row.  Baths and brushing teeth are no fun and they try to avoid it at all costs.  Not only do you have to remind them to get in the shower, you have to tell them to use soap, AND put clean clothes on when they get out.

They can be easily distracted.  We had a soccer game the other night and the kids are running around kicking the ball.  A balloon went up over the field and the little boy who was about to score stopped in his tracks.  The whole game came to a halt because he was watching this balloon fly overhead.  Normal behavior for a 5 year old boy.

I am not saying that we should let boys run around and be wild and crazy all of the time.  I am not saying that should never be expected to sit still or pay attention.  What I am saying is that we need to be more realistic about what we are expecting from 4,5, 6, and 7 year old boys and what we really should be expecting from them.  I thin it is so sad that because a boy is energetic we are quick to automatically assume there is a problem and rush to put them on medication.  We need to reevaluate what we think is normal and what really is normal.  We need to let boys be boys.

There are two great resources I have reviewed that talk about teaching and raising boys.  Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young and Teaching Boys and Other Kids Who'd Rather Build Forts All Day a talk by Andrew Pudewa.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Favorite Recipes: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is a great time for Pumpkin recipes!  This recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins is one of my favorite muffin recipes ever!  They are easy to make and taste delicious!  We usually make a double batch with good intentions to freeze them, but they hardly ever make it to the freezer, though they do freeze really well.  My family loves to eat them for breakfast or snacks.  The chocolate chips are listed as optional but we have always put them in.  I have never added the walnuts because my children just do not like them. 

1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups chocolate chips (optional )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pumpkin, sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture into greased muffin pans filling 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Dayspring Chrstian Academy


Dayspring Christian Academy is a Christian School located in Pennsylvania that uses " The Principle Approach."  From the website "What makes Dayspring Christian Academy so different from other Christian schools?Its distinctive mission! Dayspring employs the Principle Approach America's historic, classical Christian method of education to prepare young people to be servants, scholars, and statesmen in our constitutional federal republic. This requires developing a biblical worldview as well as excellence in character, skills, and talents. The Principle Approach is very intentional in its purpose equipping young men and women to help restore America to her gospel purpose, thereby helping to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission."  You can read more about the Principle Approach here.  In addition to being a physical school that you can attend, they also offer online live and self paced courses.  Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to use and review one of their self paced courses, The Pilgrim Story.

 The Pilgrim Story is a self paced course for children in grades 3-6.  The course teaches children the true providential history of the Pilgrims from original sources.  Throughout the course students are taught the importance of Christian character, Christian liberty, self governance, hard work, and perseverance.  The course includes activities such as crafts, application, live action, map making, and more to involve the child in the learning process.  Learning how to keep and use a notebook is a large component of the course and each lesson contains lesson, vocabulary sheets, and other downloadables for the student notebook.  Each lesson takes from 30-45 minutes with enrichment activities adding extra time.  There are a total of 17 lessons in 5 units with lesson review and unit tests at the end of each unit.  After completing all 5 units students go to a virtual field study in Plymouth, MA.   Lessons include:

Unit 1
King Henry
Geneva Bible
Life in Scrooby
Liberty of Conscience
Unit 2
Leaving England
The Second Escape Attempt
Preparing to Go
Unit 3
Leaving Leiden
Conditions on the Mayflower
Building Christian Character
Unit 4
The Mayflower Compact
The First Winter
Unit 5
Spring, 1621
The Wampanoag People
The Rest of the Story

Access to the course begins 48 hours after purchase.  You will have access to the course for 6 months from the date of registration.  The cost of The Pilgrim Story course is $99.00.  You can order by clicking here.

My son Nicholas (10) has been working through the lessons in The Pilgrim Story.  He has been completing 2 lessons a week and it takes him about 45 minutes to complete each lesson.  Nicholas likes to be independent, and this course is right up his alley.  He can log in, download the necessary paperwork, play the lessons, and complete the work entirely on his own.  Each lesson gives specific instructions on what the student needs to do.  The course is set up as a series of slides so all the student needs to do after listening to the first slide is to click on the next button.  The directions for the inter active features are very easy to follow and the answers to the notebook questions are made very clear.  The lessons are taught from a providential view of history and teaches students important character traits using the Pilgrims as examples of these traits.  I love that there are comprehension questions and review built in to every lesson.  Unit tests at the end of each unit assures the student's mastery of the material as parents can view the test scores.  Students can choose to take an essay test or a multiple choice test.  My son will choose multiple choice every time.  I love that the course makes the student take responsibility for their own education.

We did have a few issues downloading the notebook sheets and running the program when we were using Internet Explorer and Firefox as our web browser.  When we switched to Google Chrome everything worked just fine.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary 6 month subscription to The Pilgrim Story for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.