Monday, June 30, 2014

Diana Waring's Experience History Through Music (A Review)

A couple years ago at a homeschool convention, I happened to go to a seminar about teaching history. The speaker, Diana Waring was awesome! And that seminar led me to check out some of her history resources for our own homeschool, and we've loved everything we've tried! So when she gave us the opportunity to review her Experience History Through Music! Series, I jumped at the chance.

The Experience History Through Music! Series consists of 3 books:
America - Heart of a New Nation
Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West and
Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

These books are available for $18.99 each BUT for the month of July, you can get all 3 books, with CDs, for $50!

Each book includes the sheet music for, and a CD of, 13-16 songs, as well as a 2 page write-up either about the song, or about a piece of history that relates to the songs (some of the songs are "newer" but tell about that time in history). The above link includes a list of all songs included in each book.

I was excited about all 3 books, but I have to admit, I was REALLY REALLY excited about Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder! Growing up, I loved the Little House Books, and read them countless times! As soon as my daughters were old enough to enjoy chapter books, I read the Little House books to them, and they loved the books as much as I did (and do). But, as I read them aloud, I realized that I had no idea what the tune was, or the rest of the lyrics were, for the many songs mentioned in the series. I can't wait for Little Bit to be old enough to appreciate the Little House books, THIS TIME, we can listen to the songs when they're mentioned! But in the meantime, we dove right into Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder as soon as we got it! It did NOT disappoint! I do think it wouldn't be very meaningful if you haven't read the Little House books, but I'm guessing anyone interested in this book, will have read them. It does do a good job of "jogging your memory" about when, and in what context, the song is mentioned in the Little House books, so it worked fine to have read the books awhile ago, and to just go through the Musical Memories book without re-reading the Little House books.

As soon as we started going through the book, and it was, naturally, talking about Pa's fiddle. Lexie perked up . . . if Pa played these songs on his fiddle, maybe they were written so that she could play them on her violin! She's been taking violin for a little over a year, and has just started learning to read music (Suzuki method music lessons teach children to play from memory first, before teaching them to read music). So she looked at the sheet music, and was pretty sure that it was written in the range of notes that violins play. She took it with her to her music lesson and sure enough, most, if not all, of the songs can be played by violin. AND her teacher found at least one song that Lexie already knew most of the notes for. Miss Pat taught her the one or two notes she hadn't learned yet, and now she can read, and play "Sweet By and By" from the Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder! She's very excited about it, and has practiced diligently to get it just right, so I could include a video of her playing part of it.

While Musical Memories was our favorite book in this series, because of our love of the Little House books, we thoroughly enjoyed the other 2 books as well.

As it's title suggests, Westward Ho! Tells about the westward expansion of our country. It includes a combination of songs that were an integral part of that westward expansion, such as songs the cowboys sang, as well as songs that were written more recently but tell about that fascinating part of American history.

America - Heart of a New Nation is a chronological "journey" through american history. Starting with the colonial period with songs like Yankee Doodle, it moves on through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and the transcontinental railroad.

All 3 of these books are an awesome resource for teaching American History, music appreciation, or just for fun! Little Bit had great fun "dancing" to many of these "toe-tapping" tunes, and I've heard her randomly singing some of the songs as she plays.

In closing I wanted to mention one other thing I love about these sets! Unlike some other music resources I've used, I enjoy the sound of the music, and the singers' voices on these CDs. They are easy to listen too (not too high pitched, or out-of-tune), and at an easy-tos-sing along pitch, so that we could easily jump right in and sing along for the songs we knew, or wanted to learn! That alone makes this a resource at the top of my list!

Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY! You could WIN your own copy of these books, along with a huge list of other great resources!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up - June 29

I'm in total denial that June is actually over! It doesn't seem possible . . .

With the end of June fast approaching, one thing we needed to deal with was the homeschool paperwork for the new school year. One of the (IMO, absurd) rules in our state is that the paper I type up that says we'll be homeschooling must be notarized . . . I'm not sure what the point of that is, but it is, what it is. Normally that's not a big deal, since there's a notary at Rodney's office, but with him off work, we had to actually figure out a time to go in and get it notarized. This past Tuesday worked, so after meeting friends for lunch, we stopped by the office. Needless to say people were glad to see him :)

The big news from this past week was Rodney's follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Wednesday. They took x-rays and confirmed that his sternum has healed. They lifted all restrictions except no lifting anything over 20 lbs. Though he still has pain with too much movement so is taking things slow. Additionally, they discontinued most of the meds that the hospital sent him home on, and lowered the dose of a med he was on pre-surgery (pain medication is still, as needed). The surgeon was happy with his progress overall. There was some "noise" on the EKG that the surgeon said is typical after heart surgery, but he still wanted to have an echocardiogram done just to be sure. When we told him that Rodney's cardiologist already has one scheduled for next week, he asked that we just have those results sent to him, as well. Assuming he doesn't see anything of concern on the echocardiogram, Rodney will not be seeing him again!

This week has also seemed to be a turning point for alot of other smaller "issues" with Rodney's recovery. His appetite is much better, his nausea and coughing are essentially gone, and his stamina continues to improve. Now he's just complaining that it's boring to walk in circles around our yard, hee hee.

The girls did awesome with our trip to the surgeon. Rodney had asked that I come back with him to hear what the surgeon said, ask any questions I had, etc. So we decided to bring Little Bit back with us, but leave the big girls in the waiting room. They brought along schoolwork, and did fine, though did say they thought we'd NEVER be done LOL. The receptionist even mentioned to us, as Rodney was "checking out" that they had been very well behaved :) I didn't expect anything different, but still nice to hear. Meanwhile Little Bit did quite well for sitting so long quietly in an exam room. The PA was great and even showed her Daddy's x-rays, which she thought was cool. In anticipation of that, I'd downloaded some Lego Duplo games onto my tablet (somehow, even though the iPad is "hers", she still thinks she needs to play games on MY tablet, sigh . . . the nice thing was, I could download the games ahead of time but have them "hidden" in the apps area where she didn't know to look for them (since the iPad doesn't have that option) and just every so often while we were back there, if she got antsy I'd "happen" to find her a "new" game LOL. Overall she was quiet and did well.

With a new school year starting this week, I did some tweaking of the schedule and we semi-started those changes this past week. As a part of that I made up a daily schedule that included a column for Little Bit with pictures drawn in next to her items so she knows what comes next. She LOVES it! And is quick to tell me that it's time for stories, art or whatever her next thing is! As is usually the case, some changing up of the chore chart has re-inspired the big girls to be abit more diligent about their chores as well.

The timing seems to be working well, for the big girls to be doing more independently while Little Bit is getting more into being an active part of "school" . . .

Sabbath's weather was GORGEOUS and Rodney wanted to walk somewhere other than our yard, so we headed to a playground near our old house, that Little Bit had been asking to go to for awhile now. The weather was great, the girls had the playground to themselves (they turned it into a "castle', or somesuch), and Rodney and I got to sit on the "porch swing" under the trees and just "chill" . . . a lovely, restful Sabbath!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Veritas Press Self-Paced History

We're nuts about history around here, and have been thoroughly enjoying learning about Ancient History this year. When Veritas Press gave us the Opportunity to review their Self-Paced History, I wasn't sure what my girls would think of it. In the past, even really awesome curriculum hasn't given them enough detail for their liking . . . If we were going to review it, the obvious choice was Veritas Press: Self-Paced History: New Testament, Greece and Rome since we had just started learning about Greece in our own history.  So I had them go through the sample session to see what they thought. They liked it, but were abit nervous about all the spelling and maps, but in the end, we decided to give it a try! I'm SOOO glad we did, they are LOVING LOVING LOVING it!!!

Veritas Press offers curriculum and classes for a classical Christian Education. Their Self-Paced History courses each consiste of 160 online, interactive video "classes", that use interactive video, games, talking statues (at least in Greece), etc to help children in grades 2-6 learn about the time period and memorize names, dates and places (they also get to learn to spell a bunch of those names and places!). If you do one session per day, 5 days a week, this course will take 32 weeks, and that's how it's designed. However, as the name suggests, it can be done at a different pace. I'm anticipating the we will be done with this curriculum in approximately half the time, because so far my girls canNOT get enough and seem to be averaging 10 lessons per week.

In addition one year of access to the online program, we also received the New Testament, Greece and Rome Flashcards, which go with the online program.

I have to admit, since we received this curriculum while my husband was in the hospital having heart surgery, I don't have much memory of the actual process I went through to set up our account, but obviously it was straight-forward enough that I could do it on auto-pilot. Once I had everything set up, I showed Ashlyn and Lexie how to use it, and turned them loose with it.

The course assigns grades based on how the student does on their first time through a lesson, so if you want accurate grades, you will need a separate account for each student, however the FAQs say that, as long as the parent doesn't care about maintaining records of grades, multiple children can use the same account. Since we don't "do grades" anyway, that's the option we chose.

Based on the lesson that I went through, as a student, and actually made note of how long it took, the lessons take approximately half an hour to complete. It is going to vary quite abit though, because there are various games and "quizzes" in the lesson that will take different amounts of time for different children.

The "narrators" of the program are a Greek "brother and sister" who take the students around Greece and Rome, showing them things, telling them things, and introducing them to various Greek gods, goddesses and heros (who, amusingly, are their statues, but can "talk" and help to explain things along the way).  One feature I love is that they show the student maps, and quiz them on those maps, so that the students get a feel for where various things took place. This is an area I've struggled with, since I don't usually have a good historical atlas handy when we are reading a book. Mixed in with the narration, and quizzes, are "just for fun" games, such as "whack-a-wolf" which my children seem to love (personally, I've never been a fan of "video games" and that hasn't changed LOL).

Additionally there are "optional" historical fiction books that are assigned (but aren't a part of the quizzes, etc, so the program can be used without them). These books are divided into 2 age ranges, Grades 2-3 and Grades 4-6. Not surprisingly, my girls insisted that we use the books. When I login to the program as a parent, I can access a list of the books needed, so I'm able to check the library, and used book store/sites to find the books we need, and make sure I always have the next one they'll need.

As I mentioned above, my girls have been going through this program more quickly than "suggested". They LOVE it and will happily do 3 or more lesson in a sitting if they have time. So far, they haven't found that they need the flashcards much. The information on the flashcards is also shown as a part of the video, but then later in the video they are told to review the flashcard information (from the physical flashcard) before taking a quiz or test. For the most part, having watched the video, and followed everything, they find they already know the information and don't need to review it on the flashcard. However, they recently got to a quiz that asked them to give the dates of a whole bunch of Old Testament Prophets. They didn't do so well on that one without having "studied". I definitely feel that, while we haven't used the flashcards much, they are important to have in order to get the most out of this course. I've also seen them randomly pull the flashcards out to check other facts as they discuss the time period with each other.

I am extremely impressed with this program! It is teaching my children, not only the stories of history (our normal focus) but also the dates, geography, etc. in a way that they find fun and "easy"! They beg to do "one more lesson" and it's led to some fights over the computer (sigh . . . but proof that they are enjoying it, right?).  That said, I'd encourage parents to really consider their child's learning style before purchasing this program (alternately/additionally, you can try the 2 week trial to make sure it's a good fit). While Ashlyn (auditory) and Lexie (hands-on) LOVE this program, and I may try to go through more of it because I'd like to learn more about this time in history (which was pretty lacking in my own education, and I was looking forward to learning along with my kids), I have to admit that, as a strongly visual learner, I find the whole program abit painful . . .why? As mentioned above, there are "just for fun" games that I, personally, don't find fun (and it's not just because I'm "old and boring", I didn't like pac man or any of those games when I was a kid either!). According to my girls, there's no way to bypass those games on your first time through a lesson (when I was checking out a lesson to see what it was like, I re-did a lesson they'd already done so I was able to skip any "slides" I wanted to, but that's not an option on the first time through.  Additionally, I really do not learn well by watching videos or listening to someone explain things to me. I much prefer to read things for myself, so found myself wishing the narrators would just hurry up and get to the point (I tend to feel that way with any video or lecture, so it's really not at ALL a criticism of the program, just explaining why it wouldn't be a good option for my learning style).

A 1 year subscription for one student (or multiple students if you don't care about the grades), is $199. The accompanying flashcards are 19.95.

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Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed the self-paced history time period of their choice, or Self-Paced Omnibus I, for older children. To see their reviews, click the banner below:

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All prices and information are accurate at time of posting.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Go Science Videos (Series 2)

When Lexie and Ashlyn were younger, our cable included 3ABN network, and they enjoyed watching 3 ABN's "Kid's Time" show. One of their favorite segments on Kid's Time was the science time with Ben Roy. Two years ago Library and Educational Services gave us the opportunity to review a couple of Ben Roy's Go Science DVDs from Series 1, and we happily agreed. This spring Library and Educational Services again offered us 2 of their Go Science DVDs this time from the new Series 2.

I let Lexie and Ashlyn each choose one DVD to review, and they chose Volume 6: Chemistry, and Volume 7: Engineering, Design, Flight.

We received these soon after my husband's surgery, so the timing was perfect to use them as something special to watch on Sabbath while we couldn't be attending church.  Library and Educational Services lists the suggested age for these videos as 6 to 10, but the videos themselves say for ages 4-12, so my girls (ages 5 & 11) fall within the range as stated by the video, and I was interested to see what they think of them at these ages. Because our current cable doesn't include 3ABN, Little Bit hadn't seen the Go Science segments before, and the older girls hadn't seen them for a couple years.

Each of the Go Science DVDs we received includes 11 short (3-6 minutes each) science experiments, done by Ben Roy, an energetic science teacher from University of Tennessee. Ben Roy includes children from the audience in all of his experiments, and then uses these often startling experiments to draw parallels to God's love and other aspects of our Christian Faith.

Because we'd seen Ben Roy before, the big girls even got to see him in person a few years back at a church camp (and I snuck into the back of a couple of those meetings too!), we knew what to expect and were excited to get started. I was also interested to see what Little Bit thought of it all (technically she snuck into those meetings with me, but since she was little more than a baby, she wasn't so impressed, hee hee).

Playing in our own "Elephant Toothpaste" last fall!
Last fall, our science curriculum was chemistry, so it was interesting to find that some of the experiments that Ben Roy includes on Volume 6: Chemistry, are experiments that we actually got to do in our chemistry curriculum. Some that the girls could "explain" included "Milk and Food Coloring", "Elephant's Toothpaste", and "Mentos Fountain". But the Mentos Fountain worked a LOT better for Ben Roy then it did for us, we learned some great "tips" on how to do it if we ever want to try it again!

The experiments in Volume 7: Engineering, Design, Flight were mostly new to us. All 3 girls really thought we should try "Walking on Eggs" for ourselves, but mean mommy vetoed the idea, maybe if I find eggs REALLY cheap sometime . . . or need a LOT of eggs for something . . .

The one thing my girls were disappointed about, now that they're older, is that he doesn't describe the science behind the experiments enough for their liking. As they've learned more about science over the last couple of years, they now really want to know WHY an experiment does what it does, and that is missing from these videos. Little Bit would probably do better with these if we only watched one or two of the short (3-6 min) episode at a time. She enjoyed the experiments that her sisters did in Chemistry last year, as evidenced by the above picture, so perhaps she's more hands-on and wants to see it up close and personal instead of on a TV screen, or perhaps she needs another year or so to really enjoy them. 

After we'd finished watching the first one, I loaned it to my neighbor to see if her boys (ages 7 & 4) would enjoy them. Her 7 year old had loved joining us for science last school year (again, see the above picture), so I was interested to see what his reaction would be, since he's in the suggested age range. She said that both boys insisted on watching the entire video straight through, and while they found some experiments more interesting than others, the 7 year old wants to try some of the experiments for himself. So it sounds like it was a hit at their house.

Overall I think Library and Educational Services has the age range about right (6-10), I think Little Bit will enjoy them more in another year or so, and by age 11, Ashlyn and Lexie want more detailed science than these videos provide.

This review wouldn't be complete without also explaining a little more about the awesome company who made it possible, Library and Educational Services. This has been one of my go-to homeschool resource sites for several years. It is a small family business that offers wholesale discounts to  resellers, schools (including homeschools!), churches, missionaries, etc. Whenever I'm shopping for books, DVDs, or audiobooks, this is one of the sites that I check and often, if it's a product I can't purchase used, Library and Educational Services has the best price. I've even found their price on actual CD audiobooks to be lower than other sites prices for the downloadable mp3 in some cases! If you're a homeschooler, you're eligible to sign up for a wholesale account with Library and Educational Services and take advantage of their great prices.

For example, the Go Science DVDs that we reviewed have a list price of $14.95, but Library and Educational Services offers them for $8.97 each!

Visit Library and Educational Services on Facebook.

To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about all of the videos in series 2, click this banner:

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All prices and information are accurate at time of posting.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up - June 23

It's hard to believe that today marks 6 weeks since Rodney's surgery! In some ways it doesn't seem that long, in other ways, it seems like it's been forever!

 He's doing alot better. This past week he stopped using the walker for walking outside. He's never "needed" it for walking, but has been using it for balance just in case, because sometimes he feels light headed. Sometime this past week he decided he felt good enough to walk without it. I walk with him, so if he felt light headed he could hold onto me, but so far hasn't needed to.

My parents came up for a day to help with a few projects around here. One of the projects I wanted Dad's help with was to figure out a way to keep the sheets on the  trundle bed from getting torn when Ashlyn pushes it under the bed (we'd just been leaving it out all the time, after ruining 2 or 3 sheets). Dad thought he'd fixed it, by cutting boards to cover the place that was catching the sheets, but somehow, when we pushed it all the way in, thing shifted and now we can't get it back OUT. We COULD remove the boards and go back to leaving it out, or not pushing it quite all the way in, but since we discovered the problem at bedtime, I told Ashlyn to just sleep on the floor that night, and she's kind of liking that. So, as long as she's happy sleeping on the floor, I'm not going to mess with it. Having the trundle out of the way is sure nice!

When we first came home from the hospital, we got a new riding lawn mower. My dad picked it up for us, and showed Ashlyn how to use it. The first time she mowed with it, without Dad here, it started sounding funny, and then started smoking. Since it's a cinch that *I* wouldn't be able to fix it, and Rodney was in no condition to even look at it, we called our neighbor to come look at it. He looked at it, and said a belt had popped off (he assumed Ashlyn had hit a stick or something that had popped it off), and put it back (and showed Ashlyn how to put it back if it popped off again). When Dad was here this past week, he was mowing, and I mentioned the belt incident. He said he'd noticed that the mower was mowing a LOT better than it had when we first got it. So in retrospect, the belt was probably not properly installed when we got it. Ashlyn didn't hit anything, just mowing with it joggled it lose. Sigh . . . But on a positive note, Dad was really impressed with how the mower works NOW :)

By this past weekend Rodney was getting antsy to go SOMEWHERE. . . . and the weather was awesome! So we headed to a nearby playground. I was abit concerned that with it being the weekend, and gorgeous weather, the park would be mobbed, but it really wasn't too bad. Basically just one birthday party, and most of the time they were in another part of the playground.

The big girls were very amused to find that, since they're essentially the same weight, they could perfectly balance on the "teeter totter type things.

Rodney did pretty well, although, not surprisingly, he tired out quickly. Still, we were there long enough for the girls to have a good time, and the exercise and fresh air was good for Rodney :)

They especially liked that they could just sit on this seesaw and be balanced LOL.
And that was our week. Pretty quiet . . . quiet is good :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway -- $700+ Value!

A few weeks ago I was given the awesome opportunity to participate in the launch of the upcoming release of Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring.As a part of this, we've been having a BLAST reviewing these books and CDs. Lexie was especially excited to realize that she can play some of the songs on her violin.  Shhhh . . . don't tell anyone, but I'm trying to convince her to let me include a video of her playing one of the songs in my review (coming in a couple weeks), we'll see if I'm successful at that part, but regardless it's a great resource that I really wish we'd had during all our American History studies over the last several years. So, without further ado . . .

Diana and Friends Giveaway
To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in and as you can see, someone's homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!  Here's what you could win! 

From Diana Waring Presents

american history -- never this fun
Experience History Through Music - set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through Historyseries includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it's music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun! EncouragementCollage2
Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.  

From A Journey Through Learning

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$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.  


From Homeschool Legacy

westward ho I 300x400
Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I. Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.  

From Knowledge Quest Maps

Map Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.  


From Home School Adventure Co. 

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Philosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.  


From Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!  

From Raising Real Men

Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner's choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69)
Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)  


From Institute for Excellence in Writing

$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.  

From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

ST-Affiliate-300x300_zpsb38aa8ae ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos, monthly free ebook downloads and more.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.  

From Writing with Sharon Watson

The Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing. 69276_1454187188126914_157492202_n
Writing Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your student develop their fiction-writing talents. Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life will help

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - June 16

This post may contain affiliate links.

It's funny how, even when things seem to be going sooo slowly in some ways, the weeks are still flying by in other ways. It seems like dh's surgery JUST Happened and now it's been a month! 

We had a few "milestones" this past week. 
  • DH decided to try walking to the neighbors. It was a stretch for his stamina, but he did it, AND if you look close, you can also see his BRIGHT PINK toenails, courtesy of Little Bit. He's such an awesome daddy!!!! 
  • Last week also marked the end of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy for him. He's still supposed to be doing the exercises, but they aren't coming to the house any more. The next step in "therapy" will be cardiac rehab after the surgeon says it's ok, which won't be until the end of the month or later. 
  • Thursday was his follow-up appointment with his cardiologist. It also happened to be meeting a new cardiologist because the one he's had for the last few years retired right before dh's surgery. So he met with a different doctor in the same practice. The cardiologist said that, considering all the complications he'd read about in dh's file, he was surprised that dh was up and walking around as well as he is. So I guess, even though recovery has seemed painfully slow to us, he's actually doing better than expected! The cardiologist said that his heart sounds excellent and everything seems to be healing properly. Beyond that, it sounded like he just wants to hold off on anything until after the surgeon releases him, then he wants to work on getting dh off most of the meds and, he reiterated that dh should definitely do the cardiac rehab. He also said that dh will be off work for at least a total of 8 weeks, which doesn't surprise me, since most people are off 8-12 weeks and dh's surgery was far from "textbook" :) 
The girls are enjoying a laid back school schedule, since I'm still spending time helping dh with things. They are continuing to LOVE the history we are reviewing, which has the added bonus of being fully independent :) My only complaint is that I'm not getting to learn along with them LOL. 

At the homeschool convention I went to right before surgery, I got Little Bit the Circle C Beginnings series. Her sisters have enjoyed the other books by that author, and actually we reviewed, and loved, one book in the Circle C Beginnings series when we were first starting to review products. As I expected, her sisters were enthusiastic about her getting to read these books, and Lexie immediately offered to read them to her. Ashlyn was happy to listen in, so the 3 of them have been "bonding" while Lexie reads these stories to Little Bit. They finished the series yesterday, so now they're on the hunt for other chapter books to read together :)

Ashlyn continues to love the grammar/writing curriculum that we're reviewing, though some "lessons" take longer than anticipated because she goes so far above and beyond what is assigned, LOL. She's loving it though, so whatever works!

For quite awhile now, Ashlyn's been bugging me to let her "harvest" and plant a whole slew of "spider plant babies" that were growing off of our bigger spider plants, this past week I also had gotten a couple herb plants that needed to be planted outside. So Friday, I suggested that she plant the herb plants in the flower bed, she jumped on the idea and recruited Little Bit to help her. Once the herbs were planted, she asked to take care of the spider plant babies, so I let her. We now have a shelf in our bathroom full of baby spider plants (if you live near me and want some, let me know! Spider plants are really good at cleaning toxins from the air and are practically impossible to kill, as evidenced by the fact that they're thriving at our house!). She continued on her "gardening" binge, by nagging me to help her transplant the aloe vera plant that has needed a bigger pot since before we moved to this house (yes, that was a year and a half ago). So we did that too, and discovered that it had 3 babies, so now, assuming they survive, we have 4 aloe vera plants, and they all have room to grow in their pots!

Needless to say, after all that gardening, Ashlyn and Little Bit were FILTHY, so I sent them straight to the shower/bath. Little Bit was enjoying being Ashlyn's "mini-me" so she took a shower instead of a bath, and then had Ashlyn wrap her hair in a towel. They wanted to show Daddy, but he was napping, so I took a picture instead :)

And to wrap-up this wrap-up (hee hee), I found a couple pictures that Little Bit had taken on the iPad earlier this month that I thought I'd share here :) 

Ever since we moved here I've tried to get a decent picture of the bookshelves my dad built instead of a banister for our stairs, and I could never get a good angle. I think Little Bit was sitting on the arm of my recliner, or perhaps on my shoulder when she took this, and other than being crooked, it actually shows the bookcase pretty well, so I thought I'd throw it in here :)

 And finally, after all that time of dh being in a bed or chair where I could just stand or sit near him and hold his hand, it was SOOOO nice to snuggle next to him on the couch, and rest for abit :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day
to the two wonderful fathers in my life!!

My dad, who is also an awesome "Papa" to my girls! From the time the twins were preschoolers, they've known that if they ever want to know how something works, they can always "just ask Papa". Now Little Bit has figured that out too!

And I still know I can always call on him for help when we need repairs (case in point, Friday's rain revealed a leak in our ceiling, Dad's coming up tomorrow to help us figure out and fix it, and a leak we already knew about and a few other fix-it projects that are far beyond our abilities!

And my wonderful husband, the amazing father of our children! I am especially thankful this year, to have him with us, and doing well after his valve replacement surgery last month.

What better proof of what an awesome dad he is, then the fact that, if you look close, you can see his BRIGHT PINK toenails, complete with red details, courtesy of Little Bit!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: We Choose Virtues

A couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to review a product from We Choose Virtues. We also used We Choose Virtues products for circle time last year. One of the products that I REALLY wanted to order to use last year, but didn't, was their Parenting Cards. So when we had the chance to review the parenting cards this spring, I jumped at the chance!

I'd been planning to revisit the virtues this fall anyway, so we just bumped that forward a few months to be able to use, and review, the Parenting Cards.

We chose the NIrV version of the parenting cards (there is also a KJV version, which uses all OT texts). In addition to the parenting cards, We Choose Virtues also generously gave us the WCV Download Bundle.

We Choose Virtues was developed by Heather McMillan, a preschool teacher, children's pastor, and mom. This system presents 3 "rules", with 3 additional virtues that fall into each of these 3 rules, for a total of 12 virtues. Awhile back I created a simple "poster" to help my older girls (who can read) remember these rules, and what they include. It hangs on the slanted ceiling of our school room. I love that these 3 simple rules (Be Kind, Obey, Be a Helper) pretty much cover any "behavioral issue" we might encounter. 

The Parenting Cards ($38.49) are, perhaps, the "key" product for using We Choose Virtues in a home/homeschool. There is a card for each of the 12 virtues. The front includes a bright picture of the "mascot" (of sorts) for that virtues. It includes the easy-to-memorize saying that goes with that virtue, and a memory verse.

The back of the card includes pretty much everything else you need to teach that virtue. It includes suggested "teachable moments", the "Kids of VirtueVille" story for that virtue, a "challenge" for that virtue, etc.

The Download Bundle ($7.99) includes downloadable versions of the Teacher's Handbook, Family Character Assessment, Coloring Pages, Butterfly Awards and Sing-along-Song sheets.

The Teacher's Handbook is very complete, giving lots of ideas for teaching the virtues, the theory behind it, etc. It is written for teachers in a classroom setting, but is pretty easy to translate to a home environment. The website suggests, not printing this because it's rather HUGE :)

The Family Character Assessment is a free downloadable checklist to determine how well each of us is doing at practicing the virtues we've learned, and/or to determine which virtue(s) we need to work on the most.

The Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Pages is a coloring page, of the kid that goes with each virtue. This is Little Bit's favorite part and I have to admit, I find these coloring pages rather addictive myself :)

The Butterfly Awards are printable award certificates that praise the children for "turning from caterpillars into butterflies" by using their virtues.

And finally, the Sing-Along Virtue Songs uses well known tunes like "B-I-N-G-O" and provides words that help the child remember the saying for that virtue.

I would add one more product that we weren't specifically given for this review, but it's a free download on the WCV site.  The Memory Verses, Bible Heroes and Truths download provides the Bible verse listed on the parent cards, but also includes a Bible story that illustrates the virtue.

So how did we use all of this? Well, this time around we used things a little bit differently because we had just gone through the virtues recently, so we mostly focused on review, and the challenges, so I'm going to share how I think I would use all of the above the first time through. (this is basically what we did last fall, adapted and improved to use the products that I didn't have at that time, primarily the Parent Cards).

Focus on one virtue per week. I like to focus on the 3 "main" ones first (Be Kind, Obey, Be Helpful), and then we "flesh out" those main rules by learning about the other virtues. Another option would be to use the Family Character Assessment to determine which virtues your family needs to work on the most, and focus on those first, or perhaps set your children up for success by focusing on the "easiest" ones first. Once you've decided which virtue to focus on:

Day 1: Introduce the parent card, say the saying for that virtue, and the memory verse. Hang the Parent Card where the children will see it. Sing the song for that virtue together (I was able to find "karaoke" type you tube videos for all of the tunes, just make sure if your child can read, that you don't show them the screen since the words won't match).  Read the "Kids of Virtueville" story from the back of the parent card.  You may decide to present the week's challenge (also on the back of the parent card) at the beginning of the week and remind/work on the challenge all week, or wait until you've spent a week learning about the virtue, and then present the challenge for this virtue, to be completed the next week).

Day 2: Review the saying, memory verse and song.  Read the Bible story from the "Bible Heroes" download, either directly from the Bible, using the texts listed, or from a Story Bible, depending on the age of your child(ren) and the story. Discuss how this story relates to the week's virtue.

Day 3 - 5: Review the saying, memory verse and song each day. Choose a short activity, or story for each day. There are some suggestions in the teachable moments section on the back of the Parent Card. You can also find lots of great ideas on the WCV Pinterest boards. I also just went through the books that we have, and, when I was running short on ideas, usually doing an internet search for "stories about kindness" (or whatever virtue you're studying) would bring up additional ideas. We also colored the picture each week, if there was one story that was longer, I'd give the children the picture to color while I read the longer story, otherwise I'd generally give it to them on day 2, while I read the Bible story and they would continue to color parts of it each day while I read the day's story, until they completed it.

I used the Butterfly Awards as a "reward" for completing the challenge. It could also be given to a child who you notice doing particularly well at demonstrating a virtue, either the current week's or one you've previously learned about. My older girls kind of rolled their eyes, but Little Bit liked hanging her's on the white board :)

One of the main things we did with this product during the review period was to focus on the challenges. My personal favorite was the "I am Helpful" challenge that encouraged the children to find 5 things to do without being asked. The big girls rolled their eyes abit ("Right, mom, you just want us to do more chores!" After I showed them that the card really did say that, they couldn't say much LOL), but Little Bit really got into it, and it was adorable to see her figuring out ways to help without being asked :)

The recommended age range for these products is age 3-11. I first used these products with Little Bit when she was 4, and she enjoyed them, the twins are now 11 and think they are "too old" for such things, so at least for my children, I would put a top age more in the range of age 9, however since we've used the products when they were younger, I can still refer back to the rules/virtues as being how we do things in our family and continue to use the products in that way with them.

Connect with We Choose Virtues on Facebook, Pinterest, and their Blog.

We Choose Virtues has the following promotion for the months of June to August:
Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in our WCV Store. Welcome Back To School! Only one promo code per order
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