Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Planning For Next Year

I don't know that I ever really stop planning, but usually starting in February I start thinking seriously about what I am going to need for next year.  The first place I "shop" is in my schoolroom and on my computer and iPad to see what I already have.  Then comes the difficult part.  I have to decide what I am going to sell.  This is very hard for me!  I just cannot keep everything because I don't have the space and I don't want to hold on to things that will collect dust on the shelf that someone might need.  Plus, I have a 5 year gap between my oldest and second children so even when it is something we love for her, it may not work for him (or any of the others) 5 years or more down the road.  But, there have also been so many times that I have sold something and then wished I hadn't : ( .  Decisions, decisions.

Then I start researching curricula that I may want to use. Many companies will send you a catalog for free if you request one.  Also I visit a lot of websites and read a LOT of reviews for products I am interested in using for next year.

After I figure all of that out, I start making a list of things I know I will need to buy.  This year I am using the iPad to make the list.  Yay!  Now it won't get lost!  I have a budgeted amount of money for homeschooling supplies/fieldtrips every month.  This list helps me to see how much money I will need by August and also allows me to start looking for some things used to save money.  Right after I started my list, I found a complete set of Math U See Zeta unused, no writing listed in a Facebook Group that I was able to buy for $35 including shipping, saving me $35 off of the brand new price!

I may change my mind a few times before the school year starts.  We could get a review for something and we will continue on with that instead of buying something else, or I may decide I like something better.  But, at least by planning early it gives me a starting point.

One thing I have on my Wish List is a laser printer.  Many companies are going to ebooks or other digital downloads that you need to print out.  My inkjet printer uses a lot of ink and the investment in a laser printer would be more than worth the money!  I am hoping to buy one before the next school year starts.

This is what I have figured out so far for next year:

High School Senior
Math U See (not sure which one she will do after Algebra II, maybe Geometry or Stewardship)
Essentials in Writing
World Literature by James Stobaugh

I still need to figure out Economics and Government.  Any suggestions?

Grades 1-6

Math U See for all (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Zeta)
Handwriting Without Tears
Apologia Land Animals
Classical Academic Press Old Testament 2
Mystery of History Volume 3

Grade 1 will continue PAL Reading/Writing
Grade 2 will use Essentials in Writing
Grades 4 and 6 will be participating in an IEW Writing Intensive A Co-op

Grades 1,2,4 will use All About Spelling

My 3 year old already wants to "do school" every day!  So far she has been happy with doing some of the Flowering Baby activities, lapbooks, and using some of big brother's math worksheets.  I may have to go ahead and get her started on HWOT, math, and reading next fall.

Plus we will have some other things we will do when review items come our way.  We have been so blessed his year already with Homeschool Reviews!  I  would really also like to get Visual Latin going again with my boys and if we will not be able to have Art Classes next year I will have to figure something out for that too.

Have you started planning yet for next year?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: College Common Sense


College seemed so far off when I started homeschooling my oldest in the 3rd grade.  But, she is graduating next year!  There are so many things to think about and prepare for when thinking about college.  As parents, it is our responsibility to help guide our children through the process and we need to know how to find the information we need.  I was excited to have the opportunity to review Going to College and Paying for It Online Video and Workbook from College Common Sense.

Going to College and Paying For it is a product that is for anyone who has children.  There are activities for children elementary age and up, but most of the information for the younger children would be primarily for the parents.  After purchasing the online version, you have to go to the College Common Sense website and log in to access your videos and PDF files.  There is an introductory PDF file you need to read with basic instructions for finding the activity suited for the age group(s), ages 6 and up that you are working with: Group A Elementary Age, Group B Middle School Age, Group C High School Age, and Group D College Age and also necessary supplies: videos, workbook, spiral notebook, and a scholarship binder.  Then you need to reach each PDF file and watch each video in order.  There are 6 different videos:

The Big Picture
How Financial Aid Works
All About the Free Money
The System that Works
You in the Process
Pull It All Together

 There is approximately 2 hours of video time.  The PDF workbooks vary in size for each section and altogether is 33 pages long.  The workbook pages contain an overview of the information being covered in the videos and activities for each of the age groups.  The activities vary for each section and some may not be able to be completed right now (such as filling out your FAFSA if you are not a senior) but are good to know for when you need them.  Some of the activities include: campus tours (information about what to do before and during the visit are in the workbook), filling out the FAFSA, questions to ask yourself before you apply to a college, cost of attending worksheet, All About Me notebook, and scholarship binder.

You can purchase the Going to College and Paying For it online Video and Workbook for $25 for 12 months of access.  If you prefer you also can choose to purchase a DVD and physical work book for $50 plus $5 shipping.


On the College Common Sense website there is a lot of helpful free information.  You can sign up for a free newsletter, lesson plans, and find links to other helpful information.

I mentioned that my daughter will be graduating next year so I have been working on this review along with her to get a better idea of how the whole process is supposed to work.  I signed up for the free newsletter and monthly lesson plans on the College Common Sense website.  When I received our log in information, I started out by printing off the PDF files,reading through them, and then watching the videos so I would have a good overview of the information before turning it over to Chelsea.  Then she read through the PDF's, watched the videos, and completed some of the activities to go along with them.

Depending on the age of your child, you can move as slowly or as quickly as you would like through the program.  College Common Sense says it is never to early to begin getting prepared for college and there are available scholarships for children as young as 6 years old!  If your child is younger you can move slowly watching one video segment a month and getting a general idea of how the process works.  Since Chelsea is a junior and college is rapidly approaching, we went through the reading and watching the videos much faster, one per day.  Then we went back and reread the material, watched the video segment again and began working on some of the exercises at a much slower pace choosing one thing to focus on each week.

There is quite a lot of information to absorb and it is definitely beneficial to read through it and watch the videos more than once.  I learned quite a bit of information about the FAFSA, scholarships, and the way Financial Aid works that I never knew before.  I really liked the idea of the Scholarship Binder and the information she includes about putting that together and working on scholarships that will apply to you.  The information about Campus Visits and what questions to ask before you apply to a college or University were also very helpful to us.

The videos are not overly "fancy" or high tech.  The information is presented to you in a straight forward, matter of fact manner.  There were some point during the viewing of the videos that the audio seemed to be out of sinc with the visual, but that may have been due to the speed of my connection.  At the end of each section, the videos just stop.  I found that a little strange that there really isn't any kind of closing to the sections.

The free lesson plans really add on to what is contained in the program.  The workbook does not contain that many assignments for the different age ranges, but the lesson plans have different activities that if you choose to you can do with children of all ages that will enhance what you are learning.  Each week you will get an email with suggested activities.  Week 2 for February suggested for all ages: taking your children to a College Fair, involving them in different activities to figure out their likes and dislikes,and a video (found on her website) to view with an assignment for their notebook.  Seniors were also supposed to apply for a FAFSA pin,and  take ACT and/or SAT if they had only taken it once.  Freshman and Juniors were suggested to take ACT/SAT and research colleges and set up a visit.

To see what other Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Things to See and Do in Arkansas

50 states blog posts

Have you ever been getting ready to go on a road trip and wondered what you should make it a point to see and do while on your way?  Or maybe you are trying to plan a fun, family educational vacation and curious to see what the different states have to offer?

Glimpse Of Our Life is doing a 50 state series where each state's fun and educational things to see and do are being highlighted.

Today, I am Guest Blogging at Glimpse Of Our Life about the beautiful state of Arkansas.  Read my post about all of the great things to see and do in the Natural State by clicking here.  Then check out the posts that have been written on some of our other great states and head back and visit as new ones are added.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Budgeting With the Envelope System Update

A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about the iPad app I bought and started using to track our budget called Budget Envelopes.  Since I have had more time to use it and have completed an entire month, I thought I would tell you a little bit about how it is going.

We get paid biweekly, so my gas and groceries envelopes are set up as biweekly and every 2 weeks they get money added to them.  At the end of the two weeks whatever is left over is set up to roll over into the next envelope.  I had not truly tracked out expenses in a long time.  I told my husband that I would be happy with any money being left over at all and I ended the month with $1.77 in groceries and $30 in gas (which we will be using more gas this month because spring soccer means more trips to town.)  I discovered too that as the money started getting low in the envelope and the cupboards instead of running to the store to grab a few things, I became more creative using up what I had left.

The rest of the envelopes are set up as monthly and if there is any money left over they are set up to roll over into the next month.  A month is set up as 30 days, so because I started the envelopes on Jan 25th the new month began on Feb 25th.  If I wanted to, I could adjust that so it would change on the first of the month, or any other day I wanted.

I did run into a few challenges.  We had a few expenses that popped up that I didn't know about that were left over from last year and a few expenses that are a one time a year things that I had to pay for.  We also had higher than I expected electric and water, so I had to move some money around in order to pay for those extras.  We did not spend more than what we make in a month (rather important for staying on a budget.)  I am hoping that this month will be a little bit more "normal" so I can get a better idea if I need to make adjustments or not.  I am very pleased that I can keep track of exactly where every penny we have spent has gone, and that I can know in a glance if I have money to spend or not.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February Cloverbud 4 H Meeting

This month for our 4 H meeting, I decided to do a meeting on Food and Nutrition.  Chelsea volunteered to do a talk on "My Plate" for me and we were able to borrow some visuals from the Extension office t go along with her talk.

I tried to come up with a fun idea for a craft.  Lily and I just did a healthy foods collage the other day, and that was fun but it is something most of the children have done at least once before.  I read online about doing fruit and vegetable paintings using the fruits and vegetables as stamps.  I had several fruits and veggies at my house, the club had paint, and the office has paint brushes, paper, and more paint, so I thought it would make a fun craft.  We used strawberries, apples, oranges, celery, bananas,and broccoli.  They didn't turn out as well as I had thought they would, but the children seemed to have fun.

For our snack the children made ants on a log and fruit and yogurt parfaits.  For the parfaits I bought vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and kiwi, and let the children choose what fruits they wanted to add in.  They all really liked this snack!

One thing that is a challenge for me with this club is that I never know how many children will be there.  We had this burst of children last fall, and meetings we planned for around 15 children ended up with over 20.  Our pizza party in December had 22 children and I almost didn't have enough food!  But, our last two meetings have not had very many with this meeting only having 9 children (not counting Chelsea and Emelia) 5 of which were mine.  Our club has almost no money so we try to keep some of the meetings free and the others around $15.  We ask each child to contribute $1 per meeting to pay for supplies since none of the parents were interested in doing a fund raiser.  I spent $17 planning for 15-20 children for this meeting and only collected back $9.  Next month's meeting is on container gardening and each child will have their own container to plant in, so I am going to have to have those who are attending call,email, or text me so we can have enough supplies but not spend extra money and have a bunch left over.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting without Tears Logo

From the website, " Millions of students all over the world use Handwriting Without Tears. Our easy-to-teach, easy-to-learn curriculum makes handwriting mastery joyful for students and their teachers."  Handwriting Without Tears has a wide variety of products available to instruct and reinforce handwriting including: student books for Pre-K - 5th grade, teacher's guides, and numerous hands on handwriting helps.  You can download their catalog here. They also have recently developed an app called Wet Dry Try that I have recently had the opportunity to use and review.

HWOT Wet/Dry App Title page

The Wet Dry Try app for Capital Letters and Numbers for children ages 4-8 is the electronic version of the Slate Chalkboard Handwriting Without Tears activity.  Using the app reinforces good handwriting habitats and teaches correct formation and orientation habits.  The app is compatible for Android devices with a 7 in or larger screen or iPad.

Purchase in iTunes here for $4.99

Purchase for Android here for $4.99.

I have been using the Wet Dry Try app with my 4,6, and 7 year olds. My 7 year old has been using it for daily handwriting practice as he still has a tendency to form letters and numbers incorrectly.  My 6 year old is using it to practice the letter we are working on that week, and my 4 year old as she is interested.   How does the app work?

You start out by creating a log in for your child.  Then you can choose the Pick and Practice section which allows the child to pick what letter they want to work on, or the HWOT Winning Order section that teaches the letters in the order HWOT recommends and unlocks more letters are they complete them.  The instructor tells and shows the child how to form the letter.  Then:

On the first step, the child uses a wet sponge to draw the letter.

On the second step, they use a paper towel to erase it.

On the third step they use a piece of chalk to draw it again.

After completing the steps correctly, they get applause and child earn a star.  Each star represents a level with each level becoming more challenging.

Star Level One-   This level has full letter formation guidance with permanent visual clues to help guide the child.  This level also has the greatest tolerance for straying off of the line.

Star Level Two- This level has only flashed visual clues and less tolerance for straying off the chalk line.

Star Level Three- No visual clues and has the least tolerance for straying off the chalk line.

After all three stars have been collected, the child earns a letter card for that letter.

There are options that the parent can choose to make the stroke tolerance easier or more challenging, and turn on and off the music, instruction, or sound effects.  Parents also can lock or unlock the different star levels.

The app corrects the child if their strokes are not formed properly.  The 4 types of mistakes it corrects are: not starting at the proper place, lifting the finger in the middle of a stroke, straying too far from the letter line or not stopping at the end, and going backwards.  If a child struggles with the same step three times the instructor will demonstrate the letter for them again.

I really like the look of the HWOT app.  It looks just like you are using a real chalkboard to do the exercises.  The app is very easy to begin using.  Immediately after downloading I handed it over to my 7 year old and he began using it with no instructions or help from me.  I like that you have the option to use the app for several children (up to 4) and it saves their progress.  The children like the music and the sound effects.  Especially when the frog ribbets and the instructor says " Cool Beans."  They love using the app and collecting their letter cards.  I think it is a great app for reinforcing proper capital letter and number formation.

 The app is pretty sensitive even at the one star level   If you carry your line too far or stray too far off the original line it starts that stroke over again and it doesn't take much of a movement to cause that to happen.  My 6 and 7 year olds did not have much trouble with this, but it did cause some frustration in my 4 year old.

To read what other Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our All About Spelling Routine

I have talked a lot on this blog about All About Spelling and how it's multi sensory approach and letter manipulatives are what enabled my son to finally be able to start reading.  I think it is the best Spelling program out there especially for those just learning to read and spell and children who have different kinds of reading difficulties.

All About Spelling has a Teacher's Guide that tells you how to step by step how to teach the words in each step.  But, it doesn't really talk much about how long you should spend on a step, or what to do each day you are working on a step.  Every child is different, but I thought I would talk about the All About Spelling routine that has worked the best for us.

We have 2 white boards.  One is very large and is attached to the wall over our school room table.  On it we put all of the letter tiles as we learn them.  This board really just holds all the letters and occasionally I will use it to write on to demonstrate a concept.

Then we have a small white board.  On this board we have one set of letters across the top.  Additional letters that we may need we pull down from the large board.  This board is too small to hold all of the letters but it is much easier to write on and put away.

We spend around 15- 20 minutes a day working on Spelling.  We do school 4 days a week and usually take a week to complete each step.

Day 1: I follow the teaching instructions in the manual.  Then we look over and read the words for the week. Next I dictate a couple of sentences for Alex to write on his board.

Day 2:  I read each word on the list and Alex builds them with the tiles on the board.  Then I dictate several sentences for him to write.

Day 3:  I read each word and he writes them with his marker on the white board.  Then I dictate sentences for him to write.  If there are any words in particular he is struggling with, I put them into my Spelling City app on iPad for some additional practice.

Day 4:  I used to try and have him spell the words out loud to me, but trying to remember all the letters and which order they are supposed to go in without being able to write them down made him struggle.  So instead for his "spelling test" he writes them again on the board.  Then I dictate a few sentences for him to write.

After we complete our Spelling lesson, Alex reads aloud to me for 15 minutes.  All About Reading Level 3 is set to release later in the year so we couldn't wait for those readers.  Instead, I let him choose some Kevel 2 and Level 3 readers from the Sonlight reading list.  I was excited yesterday that in the pages he was reading there were 3 or 4 of the words we are working on this week.  He is quite pleased with his books and that he can read them!

*links to AAS/AAR are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend to others!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Classical Academic Press


From the website, "Classical Academic Press produces superlative educational materials to advance the revival of classical education. We specialize in subjects such as Latin and logic, presented clearly and creatively, to equip and engage both students and teachers. These programs are the continuing, collaborative effort of distinguished scholars, teachers, and designers." Classical Academic Press is one of my favorite homeschool companies!   In the past, I have had an opportunity to review Latin Alive, The Art of Argument, and God's Great Covenant New Testament One.  I was very excited to review God's Great Covenant Old Testament One   Student Text, Teacher's Edition, and Audio Files.

God's Great Covenant Old Testament One, A Bible Course for Children is written at about a 3rd grade level, but can be used with children in 3rd-6 th grade.  The text contains 32 chapters with each chapter designed to take a week to complete.  It begins with Genesis and goes through the Book of Ruth.  Throughout these lessons, children will learn about God's power, promises, and faithfulness to his people.  Students will also learn about how the Old Testament stories point us to the coming savior, Jesus Christ.

The 32 chapters are divided into 5 themed units:

Unit One- In the Beginning- God's Power- the mighty Elohim spoke creation into existence, barred man from the garden, and sent a world wide flood, while at the same time showed the power of His mercy and secured man's future existence.

Unit Two-By the Patriarch's-God's Promises-Through a covenant the Lord gave Abraham 3 promises: land, to make him the father of many nations, and to bless the world through him.  Through these promises and God's faithfulness the foundation is formed for the rest of God's story.

Unit Three-Out of Egypt-God's Redemption-The Lord redeemed Israel from sin and slavery and renewed the covenant He had made with Abraham.  Despite their sin He continued to bless them and desired to dwell with them.

Unit Four-Through the Wilderness-God's Provision-God showed the people He would care for them and give them whatever they needed despite their grumbling and complaining.

Unit Five-In the Promised Land-God's Faithfulness- Even though they continued to turn away from Him, God heard His people's cries and delivered them from their enemies.


The Student Text ($22.95)  is paperback and is 240 pages long.  Each chapter begins with a Memory Page that includes the memory verse, a key facts chart, and important vocabulary words. There also is a Who Is God? question Next comes the story.  After that there is a Student Worksheet and a Chapter Quiz.  At the end of each unit is a review chapter with extra puzzles and activities.  Throughout the text you will find illustrations.  In the back of the book there are appendices containing: Memory Verse Summary, Who Is God Summary, Chapter Word Banks, The Ten Commandments, The Tabernacle, Israel's Wilderness Journey, Glossary, and Maps.

You can view a sample by clicking here.


The Teacher's Edition is also paperback and contains 242 pages ($24.95).  It contains the entire student text and also answer keys and additional information to expand on the historical, geographical, cultural, and theological concepts in the text.  The Teacher's Edition does not contain a suggested schedule but there is a schedule on the CAP website here.

You can view a sample by clicking here.

Classical Academic Press also offers mp3 files to go along with the text.  For $9.95 you receive an mp3 download with 2 hours of recording time covering 27 stories read by Christopher Perrin. Once downloaded, files can be played on your computer or portable devices or burned to a CD to take with you in your vehicle.

To hear a sample click here.

CAP also offers a Timeline and Map set for $36.95 to go along with Old Testament One or you can purchase a bundle containing the Student, Teacher, audio files, and timeline and map set for $79.95.

I have been using Old Testament One with my 3rd and 5th grade boys.  We use a modified version of the suggested schedule that I linked to above.

Day One- We read Memory Page, discuss theme, read memory verse, key facts, and things to remember, and read story pages orally.

Day Two- Read Scripture Passage Orally , reread memory verse, discuss

Day Three- Worksheets, review memory verse, discuss Who Is God and Think About This

Day Four- Quiz

A few of the sections, Chapter One for instance (Creation) that is already so familiar and they already knew the memory verse we completed even more quickly.  My 3rd grader is dyslexic and has difficulty reading and getting his thoughts down on paper, but is comprehension is very good.  To better adapt  to his needs, we do all of the readings and answering the worksheet questions and quiz questions orally.

I love Classical Academic Press and the quality of their products. God's Great Covenant Old Testament 1 is a wonderful Bible course.  It teaches key bible stories that we know and love but in a way that gives children in that 3-6th grade age range a deeper understanding of who God is and shows them how He keeps His promises.  It also gives insight to the Scriptures that point to Jesus Christ.  I love the Bible Stories and illustrations.  The course is set up so very little teacher preparation is needed.  All you need is the book and a Bible and you are ready to start.  It is very helpful to have the entire student text contained in the Teacher's Manual.  This way you can easily see everything that you need without having to reference back to the Student Book.  The Audio Files are a great companion if you would rather have the story read for you, or even want the children to listen to them while traveling in the car.

I look forward to finishing Old Testament 1 and moving on to Old Testament 2!

To see what other Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

This week is my" trying to use up what I have on hand and spend as little as possible until Friday when I get more money in my budget envelope" menu plan.

Fri 2/15-Pizza
Sat 2/16- Ritzy Chicken, Green Beans, Shells and Cheese, Homemade Yeast Rolls (we had company for dinner and Nick really wanted me to make shells and cheese)
Sun 2/17- Potato Soup, Crescent Rolls
Mon 2/18- Taco Salad
Tues 2/19- Spaghetti, Bread
Wed 2/20- Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Corn
Thurs 2/21- Breakfast

To see some great menu plans visit www.orgjunkie.com.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nature Quilting and Fishing

Yesterday was Nature Quilting at Rick Evans Grandview Prairie.  The program starts at 9:00 so we had to get up and ready to go pretty early so we could be there on time.  I talked about Nature Quilting in an earlier post , but basically once a month you go and hear a 30-45 minute program on a nature topic and then get a pattern for a quilt square.  At the end of twelve months you have 12 quilt squares to sew into a Nature Quilt. The younger children are tracing and coloring their squares with fabric markers, the middle children are doing applique for their squares, and Chelsea is sewing hers.  Previous topics have been birds, frogs, flowers, arrow heads, and Grandview.  Yesterday's topic was Owls.  We heard a very interesting program on Owls and the children excitedly talked about when we dissected owl pellets last year.  When we get the squares finished, I will post pictures.  We need to pick up some more supplies next time we are in a town that sells fabric since we don't have any brown.  There was a finishing clinic and derby scheduled for right after Nature Quilting, but it was very cold and windy so we did not stay.  Hopefully next month the weather will be better.

After the program we went home and did some cooking and cleaning for our company that was coming over.  It was great to have friends over for dinner!

Today after church, Art decided he would take the boys fishing because they were so disappointed that they didn't get to the day before and the weather was much nicer.  I thought that Lily would stay home with Emmie and I (Chelsea was at a friend's house), but she wanted to go too.  That left Emmie and I home alone  (that has never happened before!)  I put her down for her nap and tried to take a nap myself, but I have a terrible time falling asleep especially during the day, so I curled up with a book instead.  The house was so quiet!  The children had a great time fishing and Nick and Alex eat brought home a trout which is now cleaned and in the freezer.  Art did get one picture of the boys and their fish.  He said he didn't get other pictures of the children because he spent most of his time making sure nobody drowned!  It takes a special man to take a 3,5,7,9, and 11 year old fishing all at the same time!  Lily got bored with fishing after 15 or 20 minutes, but she stayed busy playing with the rocks and sand and walking in the freezing cold water.  They all had a great time!

Review: Goodbye to Yesterday by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Recently I had  chance to read and review Goodbye to Yesterday,( Part 1 The Discovery-A Lancaster County Saga)  by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  This book is the first in a six book series with each book releasing for 6 consecutive months.  Meredith and Luke Stolzfus, a young Amish couple have been facing a big challenge in their young married life.  Luke lost his job and the couple has been facing financial struggles and arguments.  Luke doesn't know it yet, but Meredith suspects she may be pregnant.  Luke receives a phone call that he believes is an answer to his prayers.  He receives an offer to buy his uncle's business.  Luke is very excited and can't wait to make the trip to receive some training and get started, but Meredith is not so sure it is a good idea.  Luke heads out in the bus to go learn his new trade but an encounter with a drug addict in Philadelphia may have changed their dreams forever.

As I mentioned above, this is the first in a six book series.  It is very short, only 128 pages.  I think the idea for the story is a very good one.  The plot sounded very interesting to me when I read the description.  But, I didn't realize it was going to be a six book series.  The book was so short, it was hard to really get interested in.  Much of the story was foreshadowing what is to come (and there was a LOT of foreshadowing.)  The story did end on a cliff hanger in order to interest readers in reading the next novel, and yes I am interested in seeing what happens next, but not enough to purchase 6 separate books to get to the end.  I hope they will put all 6 into a combined novel at some point

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Flowering Baby

I spend a lot of time during the day working with the children on their school work.  The younger girls see their big brothers and sister doing school work, and they want work of their own too.  I was very excited to have the opportunity to review Flowering Baby with my 22 month old and 3 year old.

Flowering Baby is a "whole child developmental approach from birth to age five."  The curriculum is co -authored by Carolyn Schulte who has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in Special  Needs and her daughter Martha Saunders a homeschooling mom who decided to blend the Charlotte Mason, Classical, and Unit Study approach in her homeschool.  They decided to co-author this curriculum in order to share with parents and teachers the hundreds of simple and inexpensive ways you can positively affect a child's growth and development.

Their program is designed to work with your child for 20-40 minutes a day on different skills depending on their age.  Each activity is designed to develop a full and solid educational foundation.  The curriculum contains at least 20 different activities per month.  The program is designed by year and broken down by month so you can begin the curriculum at any point in the year.  The curriculum can be purchased in the following levels:

Birth to One- Designed with activities for you to work with your baby for 20 minutes a day for 20 or more days on a specific skill.  Each day there is usually one activity, one story, and one song.  The goal of this year is to expose baby to a wide variety of music, sounds, activities, words, and your family's environment.  You can find a whole month of activities here.  You can purchase here for $30.00 CD format.

One to Two- This year is about exploration.  Your child will work on directional tasks, experience paint and Playdough, find out about new tastes, and figure out his independence.  Each day there will usually be at least one book, one activity, and one song.  You can find a sample month here. Purchase here for $30.00 CD Format.

Two to Three- This year your child will still be learning about the world around him.  In addition he will also start learning more academic things such as: ABC's, counting, shapes, colors, nursery rhymes, perform simple experiments, listen to a variety of music, and more.  Each day there are multiple activities to choose from.  See a full sample month here.  Purchase here for $30.00 CD Format.

Three to Four- Starting at age 3 the curriculum changes somewhat.  There are now 2 parts.The first part is a general educational guide which includes math, language, science, phys ed, self help and more. Your child will learn many new things such as magnets, cooking and nutrition, safety, games, read, sing, listen to music, and more.  The second part is a Theme Guide which contains 24 mini unit studies that you incorporate throughout the year choosing two per month.  There are approximately 6 activities for each theme.  The themes range from holidays, to sports, to animals, and more.  Books and activities are included for each theme.  See a month's sample here.  Purchase here for $38.00 CD Format.

Four to Five- This year's curriculum is in the same two part format as the three to four year olds; a general educational guide and a them guide.  Your child will be able to count to fifty, count by two's and start writing numbers.  He will put together puzzles, paint, use Playdough, and do a variety of physical activities.  He will learn about weather, holidays, city, state, and country, and listen to a variety of music and stories.  The theme units are similar to age 3 but include more challenging activities and additional books are read.  See a sample here.  Purchase in CD Format here for $38.00.

You can also purchase the entire 5 year set for $132.00 here.

DISCOUNT CODE- Receive 10% off your purchase by using discount code "Blog 10" while ordering.

I had an opportunity to use the One to Two level starting with month 22 and the 3 to 4 level starting with January and the Winter and Zoo theme units.  First I am going to talk about the One to Two Level.

The guide starts with an introduction talking about the curriculum and it's focus.  There is a list of common supplies you will need, Music CD's,  and a book list.  The book list is full of recommended titles, but you can substitute with other books if they are not available to you. Then it goes into the activities starting with the age your child is.  I started with the 22nd Month.  If there are additional supplies you will need they are listed first (for Month 22 colored cellophane and a xylophone were listed), followed by specific book recommendations, and the Music choice for the month.  In the 22nd Month there are 23 days of activities.  Some of the activities are just general life activities (ex. work on dressing today),   some are game-like (ex. matching, finding things that don't belong), some are crafts (ex. draw or paint), and everyday has a book or a  music suggestion or finger play, or both.

It can be hard getting photos of the little ones while you are doing the activities with them, but I did get a few of Emelia.

Drawing a picture while listening to music

Playing a "Where did it go?" Game

Emelia's Painting
The Age 3 Curriculum Guide starts off just like the 1 to 2 year old, by describing the curriculum, talking about what you will be focusing on, and listing necessary supplies, Music list, and suggested books.  The 3 year old curriculum is divided my months of the year instead of by the child's age.  We began working in January.  The first page will list specific supplies (ex, blueberries, sequence cards, plastic food) the suggested books for the month, and the music for the month.  January has 13 days worth of activities with each day having four or five different activities to choose from.  An ABC and Math activity are everyday with the other activities varying between reading, reasoning, healthy foods, cold days, color blue, music, triangles, physical activity, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Ears,  and safety.

Drawing Circles

Making A Healthy Food Collage

Painting with different shades of blue

Listening (and marching) to the music on Wee Sing

In the Theme Guide you are encouraged to work on two themes per month and a suggested schedule for what theme to do when is listed along with general supplies needed, and websites used to support this curriculum.  I started with the Winter theme (even though it was suggested for December, it still applied in January) and Zoos because we have been to several zoos in the last year and Lily loves animals.  On the page for each theme there is a list of specific supplies for that theme, suggested books, suggested websites, and fun activities.  There are 5-6 days worth of activities in each theme with a book to read and suggested activity and a few closing questions at the end of the theme.  

Making a snowman
One of the things that I loved the most about Flowering Baby was that I could include the littles in my school day without having to come up with the activities on my own.  I love that the curriculum is flexible and you can pick and choose what activities you want to do.  Although they give a list of suggested books, you do not have to use those books.  Our local library is very small and did not have any of the books I needed, but between what I had on the shelf and a few I borrowed from a friend, I had more than enough books to cover each topic.  The general supplies were not things that were hard to find or expensive.  Anything that I didn't already have on hand, I could easily pick up at Walmart.  I loved the music suggestions, and Emelia and Lillian really loved dancing to the music on one of the suggested Wee Sing Cds.  The craft and games were not things that I could easily come up with on my own.  In the 1 to 2 year old curriculum one of my favorite activities was to take pictures of your child's favorite toys or stuffed animals and have your child match the photo with the object.  My favorite part of the 3 to 4 year old curriculum is the theme guides. It is a great way to dig into some topics that children in that age range enjoy the most. 

Some of the "activities" for the 1 to 2 year olds were just not something that I would really spend time teaching my child to do, but were more like things that  they would just do naturally like learning to dress themselves, open and shut things, drink from a cup without a lid.  For my 3 year old, a few of the activities were a little repetitive.  We colored with blue, painted with blue, dressed in blue, and counted with blue, and she said, "Are we done with blue yet?  I want to do brown or pink today, " so I told her to color or paint with whatever colors she wanted to.

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

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.