Friday, October 21, 2016

Expedition Earth: CHINA

Eli, Mercie, Silas and Titus have begun a journey around the earth. We started Expedition Earth {from Confessions of a Homeschooler} this week, and it has been so much fun! I have decided to add in missionary studies with each country - biographies, stories, and praying for missionaries. We began on the continent of Asia, and our first stop was China.

The kids were excited to receive their own passport, which included a picture of themselves. We added the China flag sticker, and I stamped it with a date stamp {which added an extra element of fun}. I forgot to take a picture of this, but you'll see it next week.

A visit to our library was very disappointing. There were no books on China available, except a Magic Tree House book which we already had. I got on Amazon and and purchased some great books on China! I don't mind adding to our living books library.

Here are the books we used this week:

{I bought these from Amazon. They are all wonderful, living books.}

{These two books came from I love both!}

{We had these two books already. Some of the countries we will study are in these books, some are not.}

{We also had these books. We will use these to look at one animal each week from each country.}

Here is a breakdown of our week:

Monday: We found China on our wall map and added a flag. I read some Fun Facts about China to the kids, and we completed a mapping activity in our student binder. We also read some missionary stories from "I Heard the Good News" from China.

Tuesday: We learned about China's flag and colored one in our student binder. I asked review questions from yesterday, surprised that they remembered so much. We read the book on Lottie Moon and talked about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Wednesday: We read about the Great Wall of China, and then we made one with Legos and one with wooden blocks. We also colored a picture of the Great Wall and label it as one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Thursday: We read about panda bears and did a simple craft.

Friday: We read some more books on China and made a postcard. I laminated them and put them on a metal ring, so we make one each week and add to it. We reviewed everything we learned this week.

The kids also completed a puzzle of Asia each day this week. They really loved this puzzle, and I plan to buy each continent as we come to it.

We had a lot of fun this week "visiting" China. Next week, we're off to South Korea!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I Loved About Being on the Homeschool Review Crew

This year was my first year to be on the Homeschool Review Crew. For any of you who don't know what the Homeschool Review Crew is {formerly the Old School House Review Crew}, you can check out their website at

What being on the Crew means ...
It was a blessing this year to be a Crew Mate! I reviewed a total of 46 products this year, with 4 reviews left to write this year. Wow! I can't believe I have reviewed this many products! Some of them have been absolutely wonderful, while others we could live without!

Some of my favorite products were the Progeny Press literature study guides, Times Tales, Kwik Stix, and Apologia Astronomy {although we have put that away until my littles are bigger}.

Here are a few of the reasons I loved being on the Crew this year:
  • I was introduced to a wonderful group of homeschool parents that I interacted with on the private forums. Prayer requests were shared, questions about homeschooling and family were answered, and fun conversations were started on this forum!
  • I was introduced to new products - products that I had never heard of, products I had heard of but never tried, and products that I knew would work for our family.
  • I received so many fun games, movies, books, and curriculum for free! Best of all, I get to keep everything.
  • I learned a lot about blogging.
  • I "met" quite a bit of new curriculum providers that I will continue to use.
  • I had to think outside the box to use some of the review products, which sparked my creativity sometimes and showed me there is more than one way to do things.
If being on the Crew sounds like something you would like to do, they are accepting applications right now! There are a few requirements you must meet before you apply. Click here to read through these requirements to see if joining the Homeschool Review Crew would be right for you.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Familyman's Christmas Treasury {TOS Review}

When my children and I were walking through Walmart last week, I was surprised to see that they were already putting out their Christmas displays! As I passed by several aisles full of Christmas ornaments, stockings, and tree toppers, immediately followed by several aisles of Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations, I almost laughed out loud. It seems we rush Christmas more and more each year, starting the "holiday season" before fall is even in full swing {in Louisiana, anyway}. Since the Christmas spirit seems to be spreading already, I have a Christmas review for you!
My children and I were given the opportunity to review an early Christmas product - The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection. This is a collection of six audio books, narrated by Jim Hodges and put out by the Familyman. Here are the story titles in this collection:
  • Captain Chaos and The Manger Blaster
  • Cootie McKay's Nativity
  • The Stranger
  • The Bishop's Dream
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas
We also received "The Secret of Snow Village" and "It's Called Christmas". We received these stories in a digital format. It was so easy to download the stories onto my computer and pull them up for my children to listen to. We also received one CD of a story, "The Bishop's Dream", which we listened to in the car while I carted children to gymnastics and piano lessons last week.

The first story we listened to was "It's Called Christmas". This story was about a boy in the future named Nook. In this future world, all religion and everything religious has been erased. Nook knows nothing of Christmas until he an older man at the mall mentions it to him. Nook says, "Happy Holidays" and the man replies, "It's called Christmas". Naturally, since Nook has never heard of that word "Christmas" before, he embarks on a mission to find out what it means. Christmas, and all things religious or offensive, has been banned and erased from history, so it's not exactly easy for Nook to find out the meaning of Christmas. It's a truly interesting story that my boys loved listening to! Silas, my 6 year old, laughed and giggled at the silly parts of the story.

"The Bishop's Dream" was the story we listened to while we were driving around hauling kids to various activities and running errands. I enjoyed this story immensely, as it was about Saint Nicolas. In this story, Saint Nicolas goes around to the children, telling the Gospel story and bringing happiness and encouragement to the families.

"Cootie McKay's Nativity" was a story about a boy named Cootie {yes, Cootie} who saves Christmas for his town! He doesn't know much about the nativity story, but has some interesting and deep questions. Some of these questions, my kids have asked me themselves!  It's a funny story that will keep your kid's attention.

"Gladys Remembers Christmas" was about a young girl named Gladys whose mother died when she was 6 years old. She never felt loved, hated Christmas and hated her name. Some time later, her dad asked her to go to her old house to find a green box in the attic for him. Gladys finds the box, and with a surprise "visit" from her mother, and her life is changed.

These stories are wonderfully written and beautifully narrated. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them, and I plan to have my kids listen to them more throughout the Christmas season. It's wonderful to have these stories - stories with more depth and meaning than the ordinary Christmas books and stories available these days.

Check out the Familyman's Christmas stories in digital format or physical CD's.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

Monday, October 17, 2016

Educeri {TOS Review}

My children have been using an online program the past month or so as a fun supplement to their regular studies. This program is called Educeri.....Educeri a Division of dataWORKS. We received 12 months of access through the Educeri Lesson Subscription Service.
What is Educeri? How does it work?

Educeri is an online subscription service that provides access to hundreds of lessons in all subject areas. The lessons are categorized by grade level {PreK to High School} and subject. The different subject areas are:
  • Math
  • Science
  • English Language Arts
  • History
  • Art
  • P.E.
  • Music
  • Spanish
  • English Language Development
  • Other Resources
For only $7 a month, you can have access to all of these lessons. The lessons are presented in a power-point type format. They are compatible with all web browsers and operating systems on any PC, Mac or Chromebook. As you click on each page, the answers will show up in red. Most lessons have a printable student-handout, as well.
The lessons are created by a team of educators, editors, graphic designers, math nerds and grammar snobs. The lessons are very through with graphics and lots of information.

I will walk you through an example lesson for Kindergarten, "Use Clocks to Tell Time". There is a student-handout that you can print out for your child. This will give your child the extra practice and hands-on element so he will understand the lesson.

This is actually a 3-page set. The pages are basically the same with different times.
This is a 19 page lesson. Each page has text that you will read to your child. When you click the page, the answers will show up in red. Be sure to give your child time to answer the questions before clicking!
The lesson pages are almost identical to the student handout.
At the end of the lesson, there is a chart with Cognitive, Teaching and English Learner Strategies. I'm assuming this for Common Core purposes, as the lessons are Common Core aligned. It is helpful, though, to see which strategies are being taught and learned with each lesson. This is an option that I'm sure many teachers have to have and use in the classroom.
What do we think of Educeri?
I used Educeri with several of my children. My middle school children went through a lesson on the Bill of Rights. It was very interesting, as I sat with them and read the lesson to them.  I learned so much from the lesson! We would read each Amendment, and then we would read it in easy-to-understand words. Next, we would answer questions about the rights granted to us in the amendment. My oldest daughter really enjoyed this lesson and has remembered a great deal from it. We didn't use any print-outs because we did it orally.
I like many of the aspects of Educeri. There truly is a diversity of topics available. Most of the lessons fall under the Language Arts and Math categories. There are very few lessons in the science, history, art, and music categories, especially for the younger grades, which is a disappointment. I do like the way the lessons are presented. Older children can absolutely complete the lessons independently, while younger children will need a parent or teacher to help them. I can totally see having my older children use some of the math lessons to help with difficult concepts, as math is not my best subject!
Check out Educeri on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service

Friday, October 14, 2016

Weekly Recap

This week, Titus learned that B is for Bible. He completed all of his worksheets and games happily. He loves playing the "Spinner Winner" game. He also loves using the Preschool Mom's Bible ABC curriculum! We practiced matching the uppercase A and B with the lowercase a and b using flashcards made from index cards. He used play-dough and some alphabet play-dough mats I have to make A's and B's, as well as pattern blocks and alphabet cards.

He also reviewed the numbers 1-4. He put the correct number of craft sticks on each flashcard. I love how he sorted them by color, too! He knows all of his colors {although he frequently gets red and green mixed up} and most of his shapes. He can count to 14, and then he goes crazy spouting off random numbers. :-)

Silas learned the -ag word family this week, along with the sight words "can" and "we". He practiced all of his flashcards from the previous 3 weeks as well as this week. We are very pleased with the Kindergarten Mom's "I Can R.E.A.D." curriculum! He really loves all of the worksheets, games, and cut and glue activities.

Included in the "I Can R.E.A.D." program is an interactive grammar notebook twice a week. I don't really think formal grammar is necessary in kindergarten, but we are still completing the lessons. He has learned what a noun, pronoun, verb and adjective is.

In math, we reviewed the numbers 0-20 using our place value village. He had to write his numbers almost every day, as well as review patterns and shapes. We use flashcards to review, also. I have him put them in order as well as make the number with the place value village. He absolutely loves Math Lessons for a Living Education. He calls it his "pig book" because of the pig on the cover. He will say, "Is it time for my pig book yet?" :-)

Mercie continued reading "Charlotte's Web" this week and completed the book study I've created for her {simple vocabulary and comprehension questions}. She has also been reading about spiders in a Nature Reader from Christian Liberty Press.

She started working in a Critical Thinking Language Smarts workbook this week {a review item that we are loving}. She is learning about syllables and how to break words down, which helps with learning to decode {spell} words.

She is also using Math Lessons for a Living Education. This week, she worked on subtracting with borrowing from the tens and hundreds place. She also reviewed reading and writing temperatures and simple addition and subtraction facts.

She completed a few worksheets on common, proper, singular and plural nouns. She also had ten spelling words this week. She wrote them each day - once in colored markers, once in sentences she made up, and a few times she just wrote them.

Eli learned how to find the least common multiple and add and subtract and multiply fractions in math. He worked on capitalization, adjectives, and synonyms in language arts. He read about Samuel Morse and the Morse Code, John Tyler, the Mississippi River, and Natchez, Mississippi in America the Beautiful.

Mikaela reviewed her chapter in math this week and had a test. In language arts, she learned about gerunds, categories, synonyms, homonyms, and antonyms. In America the Beautiful, she read about John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, the Great Salt Lake and Salt Lake City.

They both worked on Rosetta Stone Spanish this week. They had to write an essay and peer edit each other's essays. We learned about proofreading and editing in our Writing Workshop. We read about the Dominion Mandate and Biblical Stewardship in Ecology. We also read about the Puritans and Separatists, the trip to America on the Mayflower, and the Mayflower Compact as part of our Homeschool Legacy "Thanksgiving" unit study {review coming soon}.
{playing Bingo with sight word flashcards}

Mikaela started piano lessons this week. We bought her an 88-key piano keyboard to practice on since we don't have a piano in our home. Silas and Eli had karate twice this week, and they have been practicing for their tournament in Shreveport the first weekend in November. Mercie had gymnastics Thursday night, and Mikaela has AcTeens on Tuesday nights. We have a pretty busy week, but I'm glad my children can be involved in activities they love.
{working hard to write his letters}

I'm linking up with Kym and Homeschool Highlights.
How was your week?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Homeschooling Without a School Room

I've always wanted a school room - a room dedicated to all of the books, pencils, marker-boards, encyclopedias, posters, and arts and crafts projects we use daily.  We don't have a school room, though. When we aren't living in a travel trailer {traveling with my husband's job}, we live in a 2000 square foot home {which isn't that big when you have five children}.

Our school is done at our dining room table. Until recently, we had a small table and four chairs, with two extra chairs at our kitchen bar {which is table-height and I love it!}. Now, we have a huge table with eight chairs, and two more at the kitchen bar. We finally have plenty of room for everyone to eat and spread out!

This is our dining room/school room! Most of work is done at this table. I love how we can all sit here and have plenty of space to spread out our books and pencils and crayons. In the china cabinet, on the bottom shelf, you might can see where I keep our encyclopedia set. This is an old set that belonged to Rod's grandmother. I think it's from the 1970's! It is still relevant - after all, history is history - but I would love a newer version with current events and modern history.{I'm sure you noticed his antler collection on top of the china cabinet.} And, yes, when school is over, the table is always this clean. It's imperative to me that our dining room table be cleared off each day after lunch. I don't like clutter, especially on my table!

This is a view from the other side of the dining room. The shelf to the left holds all of our manipulatives - pattern blocks, Cuisenaire rods, place value village, letter and number tiles, counters, dice, get the idea! I like having all of our manipulatives in one place. It makes it much easier to grab what I need and put things away where they go. The polka-dot bag holds our library books. {Notice my husband's arrowhead collection in the top left corner. He found most of those himself!}

Here is a close-up of the storage shelf. I thought about taking pictures of the inside of the storage cubes, but I decided to spare you the details!

These two shelves hold our reference and education books {like dictionaries}, as well as books the kids will be reading for school, my teacher binders, my blog binder, and a few more manipulatives. The shelf to the left holds our pencils, markers, colored pencils, glue sticks and scissors. In the brown basket, I keep extra scissors and white glue, do-a-dot markers, crayons, staplers, and things like that. Our pencil sharpeners, hole punch, and paper clips are to the left of the basket. On the top of the right shelf, I have a tray with all of our stickers {and apparently a tube of paint today}. I also have a white basket with random things that I may need for the week. It gets cleaned out each Saturday. In the very right corner, we have a basket of coloring books.

To the right of our fireplace, I have three bins. {These bins came from Wal Mart for less than $6 each!} I have Mercie's, Silas's, and Titus's school work in their own bins.

To the left of the fireplace, I have two bins with Mikaela and Eli's schoolwork in them. The plastic draw has paper - printer paper and construction paper. I like to have it handy! On top, in the blue bin, I have loose papers we are using and other things like that. I keep my printer on this little table. Under the table, in the orange basket, is my laminator and laminating sheets. I have our two laptops on top of the printer, along with the headset we use for Rosetta Stone. I like having everything in a central location. Our computers share a charger, so it's convenient to keep them in the same place.

I may not have the fanciest, cleanest or best-decorated home, but we love it. It feels very cozy and comfortable to our family {and my husband is proud of his deer and his collection of antlers and arrowheads}. Sometimes, I worry that our dining room will lose the "dining room" feel {does that even make sense?} and feel too much like a classroom. I try to keep it clutter-free and as organized as possible to keep it "dining room-y". {I'm making up words now, ha.}

I showed these pictures because some people feel like they can't homeschool because they don't have a school room or a big enough house. This is not true! With a little organizing and creativity, you can make any room a "school room" without losing the homey feel. That's what I hope I've done to our dining room!

Where do you do school? How do you organize? What would you change about my dining room if you were me? Hey - I'm always looking for ideas!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Craft Sticks Place Value Village

Silas has been using Math Lessons for a Living Education {Book One} this year. It is a fantastic math book that he has been flying through! You may remember the trouble he was having last year with recognizing his numbers 6 to 10. This year, he is having no trouble at all recognizing numbers! When we started the chapter on place value and numbers in the teens, I was a little nervous. However, he knows all of his numbers now, 1 to 20!

Math Lessons for a Living Education has you make a Place Value Village for your child to demonstrate the ones, tens, and hundreds place values. I have never done this before with my older children, but I knew it would help Silas. The book instructs you to use a small, medium and large container for the ones, tens, and hundreds, along with dry beans and zip lock bags to represent the numbers. It also provides templates for the containers, which I printed on colored paper, laminated, cut out and taped to our containers. We are using small, clear plastic containers from Miracle Whip and coffee. We did it this way the first day.

Then, I saw what my friend at a Beauty Full Slow uses to count their school days - craft sticks. Aaah! Why didn't I think of this before? We have bags upon bags of craft sticks, and I knew the multi-colored ones would look so fun and be much easier to work with than the small beans! I "stole" her idea, and bundled a few groups of ten craft sticks with elastic bands, and left 9 craft sticks loose in the ones container.

I would show Silas a flashcard of a number, like 14. He knew there was a "ten" in the tens container, and he would put 4 craft sticks in the ones container. We did this with several numbers, and he enjoyed it! This really helped him to visualize the numbers and will be such a great tool to use when we begin addition with two digit numbers.

How do you teach place value?