Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Box of I.D.E.A.S


Box of IDEAs is a company dedicated to creating delightful interactive learning modules centered around random sub-ject areas.   Designed to get children ages 9-16 off the computer and around the table, Box of IDEAS is a great supplement to your current curriculum, summertime learning,  homeschool group learning, or just a break from the normal routine.  Available Box of IDEAS include: World War Two, Eleven, Salt, Quilting, and Laundry.  Each Box of IDEAS id easily portable, filled with interesting topic based learning activities, contains 10 or more modules and portfolio pieces for students to record their journey through the box, is packed with suggestions and researched web links for diving deeper into the topic, and contains a timed SAT style test.  Box of IDEAS is available as a physical product or a PDF download.  We received the PDF download of the Salt Box of IDEAS to use and review. 


 From the website: " Our Salt Box of IDEAs is a comprehensive look at salt and how it has helped to shape history, nourish our bodies and even build and destroy empires. This Box delves into history, geography, science, language, political systems and much more. Salt—something that your children see and probably use every single day—can be a wonderful stepping stone to opening their minds to so very much."  The Salt Box of IDEAS includes the following modules:

The History of Salt- this module shows an overview of the many ways salt has had an influence on the world
The Science of Salt- bring science into your home through experiments with salt
The Salt March- an entre into the history of India and Mahatma Ghandi
Salt of the Earth- investigate the highest and lowest salt producing countries in the world
Need For Salt- learn how much salt your body needs
Preserving With Salt- learn about food safety and preservation
Too Much Salt- learn about salt lakes and their functions
The Wall That Salt Built- learn about the importance of salt in building the Great Wall  of China
Where Salt Lives- this module takes your children to all the places salt is found
The Language of Salt- an overview of how salt helped to develop many common sayings, names, and words

All of the modules are stand alone and can be completed in any order. Most of the modules only require a pen or pencil to complete if additional supplies are needed it is noted.  If you purchase the PDF you will also need scissors .

You can purchase the Salt Box of IDEAS as a PDF download for $49.00, or as a physical box for $79.00.  You can also purchase extra student modules for the physical box for $4.00.

Here is an example of the module The Salt of the Earth (I did not print out the instructions page)

The first page has a few short paragraphs of information to read, 3 suggested learning extensions, and 3 weblinks to do further research.  The 2nd page is the portfolio page which for this module included a bar graph to fill in and some math questions to answer.

These pages contain a numbered map, a page with numbered squares, and a page of squares showing how much salt each country produces.  The first task is for the children to locate each country on the map and put the corresponding card on the matching number for the country.  Then, you remove the cards and put them in order by salt production.  Then the child fills out the bar graph with the top 8 salt producing nations and answer the math questions.
 Nick is finishing up his bar graph.

Quite honestly, I have never given salt a whole lot of thought before.  Who knew there were so many interesting things you could learn about salt?  The interesting thing is that through using the Box of IDEAS, you learn much more than just the topic you select.  History, geography, science, math, language arts, health were all learned around the topic of salt.  My 10 year old son enjoys learning (and memorizing) facts about various things we studied, and he found the history of salt the most fascinating topic that we covered. 

When I found out we were getting the PDF version of the Salt Box of IDEAS, I was a little disappointed mostly because one of the greatest things about the idea behind this product is that everything is separated and ready to go with no work from mom involved.  But, there are some benefits to the PDF version.  It obviously is a cost savings of $30.  I did not spend $30 printing the modules out although it does take quite a lot of colored ink. It does take a little bit of preparation to get everything printed and cut out.   With the PDF you can also make as many copies as you want and you have the ability to use the product again (possibly with younger siblings as they get older) in the future.  With a PDF download, you also have access to the product immediately.

I think the Box of IDEAS products would be great in a co-op setting.  It suits a wide age range, has fun hands on activities, and doesn't require a lot of preparation.

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

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary PDF download of the Salt Box of IDEAS for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 9/28/12

We had some fun in Art Class today!  We were warned last week to wear clothes that could get messy and boy did they (really it wasn't that bad.)  We painted.  But not just paint.  They used paints that they could brush on, use their fingers, stamps, or splatter.  Along with the paint, they could also use chalks or markers to enhance their drawings.

Next we did some drawing exercises.

Then we finished up the day by making clay sculptures that we will paint next week.  Nick did a goal post, Anthony a vase, Alex a deer, Christian a snake, Lily a ball, and Chelsea a cross.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September Cloverbud 4 H Meeting

One of the  really nice things about living in Arkansas is our State Parks.  One of the great things about the State Parks is that they offer a huge variety of free educational programs.  I thought it would be fun for our 4 H club to go out to one of our local state parks for their Hook Line and Sinker Program.  It was a great benefit to me as a 4 H leader too because the only thing I had to do for the meeting was schedule it, show up, and bring the snacks!

The children got to learn a lot about fish!  We learned about fish anatomy and what makes a fish a fish.  We learned about the most common types of fish that are found in Arkansas.  We talked about fishing and different kinds of bait.  We learned about fishing safety and what kind of things you should always keep in your tackle box.  The children were given lots of visual aides including a pocket Arkansas fish guide, cards about the most common fish in Arkansas, a book called An Angler's Guide to Arkansas Fish, a booklet on World's Best Fishing Tips for Kids, and fish stickers.  They also got a pencil, a fish stringer, and a good luck hook to go fishing with.

Then the children got to go back yard bass fishing.  Each child had an opportunity to try and "catch" as many plastic fish as they could in 2 minute period.  Each fish was worth a certain number of points.  After all 15 children had a chance whoever had won the most points won a fishing kit complete with pole and tackle!  I had no idea they were going to do this.  After all the children went, we had a 4 way tie, so the four children went again and the person who caught the first fish won.  She was very pleased!

There is a pond that they stock real fish in that we could've fished if we would have brought our own bait and had more time.  But, the children had a great time catching the plastic fish.

It was a wonderful program and I am so thankful that we have such wonderful learning opportunities for our children!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Music Together


Music Together is an early childhood music and movement program for ages birth to age 8 and the grown ups who love them.  Not only do they offer classes both across the U.S. and overseas that you can attend, they also have resources that you can use to teach your children at home.  The Music Together program is based on the ideas that: All Children Are Musical, All Children Can Achieve Basic Music Competence, Participation of Caregivers is Essential to Child's Musical Growth, and Musical Growth is Best Achieved in a Playful, Musically Rich, Non-Performance-Orientated Environment.  We have had the opportunity to use and review their Songbook For Teachers and the accompanying Music Together Family Favorites CD.  


The Music Together Family Favorites CD has been the winner of multiple awards.  It is a compilation of some of the most loved songs and activities used in their on going programs.  The CD includes a 32 page family activity booklet and 19 songs including:

Hello Song
Biddy Biddy
Splishing and Splashing
Ridin in the Car
Stick Tune
She Sells Sea Shells
Playin in the Kitchen
Palo, Palo
John the Rabbit
Spin and Stop
Mississippi Cats
One Little Owl
Goin for Coffee
I've Been Working on the Railroad
Dancing With Teddy
Allee Galloo
May All Children
Goodbye, So Long, Farewell

You can listen to samples of the songs here.    The CD is $14.99 or $9.99 if bought as a download.  Each individual song can also be purchased as a download for .99 each.

The 112 page companion songbook was designed especially for people who work musically with children in preschools, homeschools, early elementary classes, church groups, or clinical settings.  Each of the 19 songs has a music page, plus teacher pages outlining suggested activities for all ages and settings, infants, preschool and older children, and children with special needs.  The songbook also includes sections on how to use the book, the philosophy and principles of Music Together, types of songs and activities used, types of instruments and props needed, and working with special needs children.

The cost of the songbook is $29.95.  Or you can buy the Songbook/CD combo for $39.95.  If you purchase the combo you can use the coupon code" Schoolhouse" and save an additional $2.  Click here to order.

Some of the suggested instruments to go along with Music Together include: egg shakers, rhythm sticks, triangles, tambourines, maracas, jingle sticks, claves, toneblocks, and drums.  We did not have any instruments, so we made out own.  The children used unsharpened pencils as rhythm sticks and we made tambourines out of paper plates stapled together and filled with navy beans.  We made shakers out of beads and empty water bottles and jingle bells with small bells and pipe cleaners.  For drums we used pots and pans and spoons.

We have had a lot of fun with Music Together.  Sometimes we just play the CD while the children are playing, cleaning, or we are doing morning P.E.  Other times we have set aside time in our day to do the activities that are included in the songbook.  The layout of the book is very easy to follow and understand, and you can easily see what you will need to complete the activities you choose.  One of our favorites is John the Rabbit.  The songbook tells us that the activities are: large movement, fingerplay, call and response, songbook illustration, the Music is: E Minor, Starting Pitch B, and a swing meter, and the Recording includes: guitar, bass, shaker, and body percussion.  Two of our favorite activities is to make a rabbit with your fingers and pulse him to the beat and  hopping up and down on the beat.  They also like to make up vegetables the John stole out of the garden.

Playin in the Kitchen

 There are a lot of fun activities to go along with all of the different songs and it can be used with a variety of ages and needs.  I also love the different illustrations in the songbook to go along with the different songs.  You can choose how often and how long per day you want to spend on Music Together.

Flying like a crow in the old oak tree

Most of all, I really like the philosophy of Music Together.  Music is important and should be fun for young children.  Even though we as parents may not be the best singer or most musical person, Music Together makes it possible for us to just enjoy music and get a little silly with our children.  Someday they won't remember that we didn't sing a perfect D pitch, but they will remember dancing the Teddy Bear Waltz with them.

Lily and her teddy were exhausted after dancing together!

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

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


Busy, Busy, Busy

I posted as my Facebook Status the other day that those who are worried that homeschoolers do not get enough "socialization" should take a  quick peek at my planner.  Although we have plenty going on throughout the year, September and October are our 2 busiest months of the year.  In addition to homeschool stuff getting started, we have the County Fair and other 4 H activities, Chelsea has youth activities at church, and the biggest fall activity, soccer. 

We have 3 children playing soccer this year: Nick (10), Alex (8), and Christian (5).  We play through our local City Park.  Art is coaching Christian's team (this is our 4th year coaching 6 and under) which gives him the added responsibility to and me to make all the phone calls and coordinate everything for the team.  We have soccer 3 nights a week; Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and sometimes all 3 boys are playing games at the same time.  We almost always all go to every game. 



There are things we love about playing soccer.  The boys love sports and this gives them an opportunity to play.  It is fairly inexpensive (until you start adding in my gas!!)  The season only lasts between 6 and 8 weeks so although we spend a lot of time at soccer it is a manageable length of time.  It is great exercise and teaches the boys about sportsmanship and working together as a team. 

There are things I don't like about soccer.  But really you could plug in any children's sport or activity.  Some parents are just plain crazy even over pee wee sports and cause huge problems.  Some coaches are out to win and will teach their team to do so no matter what.  Sometimes children are less than sportsmanlike.  But overall playing soccer has been a positive experience for our children.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: Song of the Brokenhearted

Book Description: 
Ava has a loving family, a beautiful house, and a solid faith.
Suddenly, her ideal life will be completely broken . . . in the best of ways.
Ava’s life is full of great things. Her daughter is getting married to just the right guy, her husband’s company has kept them financially thriving for years, her son is a freshman in high school, playing football and doing well, and the ministry she started is keeping her busy as she reaches out to those with “broken hearts.”
Then it all falls apart. Ava’s safe world becomes unanchored, and she is forced to face the childhood she’s run away from her entire life. Just as she’s trying to sift through the pieces, the doorbell rings and Ava is confronted with the surprise of her life.
Ava must set out on a journey that takes her back home—something Ava hasn’t done in twenty years. As she travels across the state of Texas, strangers offer her kindness and remind her of the meaning of hope and forgiveness.
It is in this journey back that Ava discovers God in a new way. She sees she's been hiding her brokenness behind good deeds and a safe life. Learning what it means to lose it all is just the start of Ava’s journey – as is the new song God is writing on her heart.

I enjoyed reading Ava's story.  I think her story is one that we all can relate to in some way.  I think the author does a wonderful job describing a family that to the outside appears to have it all and throughout the book shows how it is not the appearances or material possessions that matter the most.  Sometimes it truly takes loosing it all to make you look at your life and what really is important.  We may think, like Ava, that by running away from the past that we are free.  But, she had to turn around, face it, and forgive in order to go forward with her life.  Everyone at one point or another has had to deal with a Corrine in their lives.  Her character in the story reminds us not to be one!  God can heal all broken hearts, and although it appears that some doors are being closed to Ava and her family, the doors that He opened were much better than they could have imagined.  The imagery of the willow tree is beautiful ans shows us that yes God can bring good out of all things just like He promises.

I received a complimentary e book copy of song of the Brokenhearted from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Raising Real Men


Hal and Melanie Young are the chief publishers at Great Waters Press which focuses on making biblical life practical.  You may have heard of them because of the outstanding book Raising Real Men Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys.  Great Waters Press has two new books coming out A Cry From Egypt and Children in Church.  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew we were given an opportunity to review A Cry From Egypt by Hope Auer.

paperback 193 pages

 A Cry From Egypt was both written and illustrated by homeschooled kids.  Hope Auer began writing the manuscript as a school assignment at age 13 when her family was studying Ancient Egypt and she has been editing and rewriting it ever since.  Mike Slaton is a talented homeschool artist who did some cover sketches for the book that was just what they were looking for.  It is so exciting that homeschoolers were able to follow their delights and God given talents to write and illustrate this book!

A Cry From Egypt is the first book in the Promised Land series and deals with the Israelites while they were still in slavery.  It is a Historical Fiction and although the plagues and other events are things that really did happen, the story is built around a fictional character named Jarah and her family and friends.  Jarah and her family were slaves in Egypt.  Their lives revolved around hard work and orders by the Egyptians.  Added to that, her family was torn by those who believed in the Egyptian gods and those who believed in Yahweh, the one true God.  Jarah struggles with who and what to believe in.  Life begins to get even more complicated than usual when two people named Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh and demanded that the Hebrews be let go.  Work gets even harder for the Hebrew and soon, strange things start happening.  The Nile is turned to blood, plagues cripple the Egyptians but not the Hebrews causing even more danger.  Throughout it all Jarah learns what it is to have faith and that Yahweh hears and answers prayers.

Advanced Reader Copies are available for $12.50 here.

For me, one of the things that determines a good book is one that draws you in right from the beginning of the first chapter and keeps you captivated until the end. .  A Cry From Egypt does just that.  Chapter one begins, " Jarah ran down the dark, narrow street.  Her breath was coming in short, painful gasps and her legs felt like they were made of putty.  Tired as she was she could not let the Egyptian soldiers get her."  But, even before I got to chapter one, I was already drawn into the story.  Why?  Just reading the author's preface made me want to read this book.  Especially this part, " I wanted children, young adults, and adults to be able to read something that would encourage them and inspire them to spend more time in the Word studying God's plan for the world and His plan for His Chosen People."  What an awesome motive for writing a book!

A Cry From Egypt is an exciting, action packed book.  The characters are real and believable and go through struggles that families can relate to even today.  The settings and descriptions makes you feel as though you are a part of the story.  The author does a wonderful job in staying true to history and the culture of the time period.  Although it is a fictional story, she also stays true to the Biblical account of Moses and Aaron and the plagues to the point that she doesn't even name the Pharaoh or his queen because it is not known for sure which Pharaoh it was.  A Cry From Egypt would make a great family read aloud for those studying Ancient History, Egypt, or the book of Exodus.

A Cry From Egypt is recommended for children and adults ages 8 and up.  Parents with children on the younger age range or especially sensitive children may want to pre read before reading aloud or handing it over to your child.  Although it is not what I consider graphic, there are scenes in which the slaves are beaten by the Egyptians.  There is also a scene in which an Egyptian girl is beaten by her father after they find the first born son is dead.  These things may be disturbing to younger or sensitive children. 

To see what other crew mates had to say about A Cry From Egypt or Children in Church click here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received a complimentary copy of A Cry From Egypt for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Homeschool Art Class 9/21/12

Today in Art Class we finished up some cave drawings.  Then the children made a creature real or pretend out of a toilet paper roll, pipe cleaners, paper scraps, and any accessories they wanted that were available (like buttons.)  After they finished those up we moved on to the next lesson on Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics.  The children drew their names and a secret message using hieroglyphics.  After they finished with those, they did a drawing as the teacher gave instructions of a pyramid surrounded by other drawings that were common on Ancient Egypt (like a lion and a cat.)  Class was cut a little short today, but that worked out fine because it gave us a little extra time to play at the park.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Favorite Breakfast Recipes: Banana Bread

We had some bananas we needed to use up so last night I whipped up some banana bread for a quick ans easy breakfast this morning.

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
3-4 med bananas
1/3 cup water
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix sugar and butter.  Add eggs, water, and bananas.  Add dry ingredients.  Pour into greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool before slicing.

Note: If you don't have enough bananas you can use applesauce to bring it to 1 1/2 cups fruit.
Also it freezes very well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Homeschool Days at Mid America Science Museum

Today was Homeschool Days at Mid America Science Museum in Hot Springs Arkansas.  They were charging a reduced admission price and setting up special hands on learning stations that are not part of the "normal" exhibits.  We have been to the museum twice before and the children loved it, so we thought it would be fun to go for Homeschool Days and see the special activities that were planned.

The museum set up 10 learning areas.

1. Zoetrope- Create your own animation and watch it move.

2. Wind Tubes- design your own flying contraption and test it out in wind tunnels.

3. Marble Wall- create a roller coaster design for a marble.

4. Circuits- wire up your own circuits, buzzers, and bulbs.

5.  Light Painting-create paintings with light.

6.  Collective Piece- create a mini mobile out of recyclables and add it to a large main structure.

7.  KEVA contraptions- create a race way for ping pong balls

8.  Connectors and Tubes- build with connectors and blocks.

9.  Science Story Time- Science themed stories told by local librarian.

10.  Tesla Theatre- Science of Lightning

Plus you of course could go through all of the normal, fun, hands on exhibits that museum has to offer.

I have to admit, I knew it was going to be busy, but I was in no way prepared for the amount of homeschoolers that were there today.  At 10:30 I heard that they count was 440!  That is a lot of people!  It was pretty loud and chaotic.  The special hands on stations were a great idea, but out of the 10 stations, we only got to do 4.  We arrived at the museum at 10:00 when it opened and left at 3:00 when it ended.  The children had a great time and did a lot of fun stuff, but most of the things they did we could have done on any random day at the museum with a lot less people and chaos.  My wonderful husband told me to buy the membership passes so we can just go to the museum whenever we want to (like on a Tuesday morning when nobody else is there.)

Mid America has scheduled several 2 hour workshops throughout the year for homeschoolers in a small class setting.  You can find out more information on those here.  They are also offering a 5 week series and have science kits available to rent.  I signed the boys up for a couple of workshops and since we are buying the membership we will get a discount on those and the rest of us can play in the museum!  I wish some of the workshops catered to a wider age range, but I think it's great that they are developing these programs based on the needs of homeschoolers.

In case you looked at the pictures and wondered why my oldest was missing, she ran into some homeschool friends from another town that she met at the 4 H State Competition and spent the day exploring the museum with them.