Saturday, December 17, 2011

Enliven Your Bible Time!

So, how is "Bible Time" going in your homeschool?

In our homeschool we have certain times when try to work in Hymn Study, Bible reading and Bible memory.  Right now we are focusing a larger amount of that time on Bible memory, because JD is active in our church's Awana program. Sometimes we spend more time on daily readings. Sometimes we get excited about hymns, and do a lot of songs.

Does your Bible reading time ever get ...dull? Or do your kids find it dull?

This month I had the opportunity to review a CD from the company The World’s Greatest Stories.
Narrated by George W. Sarris, these CDs are award winning narrations of stories from God's word, word for word, available in both New International Version and King James Version.
Actually, I received two CDs: the first was a sampler, and the second was Volume 1, The Prophets, which contains the stories of The Blazing Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal and The Prophecy of Jonah. The sampler has little snippets of stories from Creation though major and minor prophets, Gabriel visiting Mary, through time after Jesus' death. The snippets on the sampler go fast, telling none of the stories completely, but giving a very good flavor of the excitement the narrations inject into the stories. I really like them.

George W. Sarris  had a desire to increase Biblical literacy in children, so he followed God's leading to create this company and these CDs to dramatize the stories in God's word in a way that was true, word for word, to the Bible, yet "flavored" with enhancing sound effects and told with dramatic flair. They are available in both NIV and King James. I like both Bible versions, but I chose to receive NIV in the hopes that my son would get more out of it that way. Each CD is about an hour, but since each CD contains many stories, maybe about ten minutes each, it is an ideal thing to have in the car to listen to while you are driving to church, the library, wherever you go.

These narrations are intended for children approximately ages 4 and up, and how they are received will vary with the child. My son is 12, and he did not like the CD. Now, I need to preface this with the statement that my son seems to be going through a stage where he can be quite contrary or resistant to new things. (Or this may be his personality.) I know of previous "new" things that I introduced to him that he initially hated that he now loves (for instance, the audio series of Cinnamon Bear at Christmas). And I find The World’s Greatest Stories to be very similar to other dramatized Bible stories that he does love, so I don't think I find any fault with the stories, but think rather that my son is just being contrary and resistant. It doesn't help, in my opinion, that my son already has a strong foundation in the Bible. I mean, if these stories were new to him he might have reacted differently, but he already has had broad Biblical exposure, and I think he just saw this as something I was "forcing" him to listen to when he had an audio book he preferred to be listening to. He also seems to have auditory issues, sometimes. The very things about these CDs that appeal to me and others may be the very things that are causing him to dislike them: the background music and sound effects, the sound variations and voice changes to dramatize the stories. ::sigh::

The World's Greatest Stories can be purchased as cassette tapes or CDs, and sell for $7.95 each.  The volume I received,  The Prophets Volume 1, contained the stories of The Blazing Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Elijah & the Prophets of Baal, and The Prophecy of Jonah. The other available CDs are:
The Blazing Furnace; 
The Handwriting on the Wall; 
Daniel in the Lion's Den; 
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal;
The Prophecy of Jonah; and
the newest volume, Defeating Giants
(in both NIV and KJV, as previously states).
If you purchase six volumes or more volumes, the shipping is free!

Here is an audio sample for you to hear the quality of these products: 
The Blazing Furnace audio

In addition, this effort is ongoing, so you can expect additional volumes to be available in the future. Creating each volume is a huge effort, because they are accomplished through George W. Sarris completely memorizing and dramatizing the complete Bible sections in both Bible versions! It's amazing!

In addition to the CDs and Tapes that are available, George W. Sarris also performs live at various times and various locations throughout the United States throughout the year.  This is a delightful way to interest your children in the Bible. The entire family can listen to enjoy to stories, and the kids can listen to them again and again and again. And the entire time you can know that there are no errors; God's word is being hidden in their hearts correctly, word for word. Wonderful!

So visit their site. Listen to their sample clips. Consider investing in these CDs for yourself, or to give as a gift to some young family you wish to bless!

Disclosure: I received a free  The World’s Greatest Stories CD of  The Prophets Volume 1 in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I received no other compensation (other than the aforementioned), and this page contains my honest opinions.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review.

TOG Crew Review page for this product.Throw me a bone! Leave me a comment! I love comments!

December update

Our schedule this week was disrupted by Standardized Testing. My church's umbrella offered it (for a fee). My son had never done it, and I knew my husband was favorable to having him tested. I decided to go for it, because my son is in 6th grade. I know PSATs come in 10th grade, and there are very few opportunities for home schooled students to get experience taking the tests where you read the test booklet on the left and fill in the answers on the answer sheet on the right. I didn't want the PSAT to be the first time my son experienced this type of test. My umbrella only offers it every other year, so this is his first experience. In a couple of years it will be something he knows how to do because he did it before, and two years after that he starts college pre-tests and then SATs.

In addition to him testing Monday, Tuesday and Friday, we had a field trip Wednesday to a local theater to a live production of The Sound of Music. I used my time to do minor things like get my license renewed, wrapping Christmas presents, and sewing. So I didn't realize how long it had been since my last entry! I really meant to do our nature walk yesterday, but even that didn't get done.

So, I don't know whether we'll get nature walks done before school resumes in our house in January. We'll see. I will be reviewing some products soon: World's Greatest Stories; Real Homeschool Spanish; Zeezok Movie Guides; and Maestro Classics. So, stay tuned!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Outdoor Hour Challenge 1: Preparation For Winter - Plants

I do my Outdoor Hour Challenge walks the same day that Harmony Arts Mom posts them. I have decided that the only way to feel prepared (and not lose my sanity in this) is to stagger my plans a week behind what is posted on the Harmony Arts Website. That way I can know and prepare for what we do, and not hurry, scurry to read what is posted and try to get it done the same day.

I am also, finally, implementing use of my Notebooking Pages membership in conjunction with our Nature Study.

So, today for our Outdoor Hour Challenge, we went out to see what we would see. First thing on our walk, I was able to draw my son's attention to a shrub that has blossoms so big they already look ready to burst into spring! (This photo might be blurred -- the camera didn't seem able to figure out what I wanted it to focus on...)
Then we worked our way down to our little creek, so peaceful and serene.  I really enjoyed noting how alive the evergreens make nature feel, even in areas where the deciduous trees have lost all their leaves.
In the interest of the challenge topic, I immediately noticed that some of the shrub plants are still in full seed, waiting for their bounty to be disbursed by wind and other elements.
My husband and my son are into geocaching, and they have a little geocache along our creek. This past week, with all the rain we got here on the east coast, our little cache leaked and got all wet. My son showed me where they have it hidden, and I am curious that the creek probably flooded to where it is hidden for it to get so inundated. Curious, I wondered how high the water had gotten, and wondered even which way the water flows in our little creek. It didn't take me long to figure out the latter, and to a certain extent the former... by examining the brush and grasses along the creekbank.

(The grasses and brush all lean to the left.)

I was looking for mistletoe but didn't spot any. I spied some squirrel nests, but my camera gave me an error message and said change the battery. I don't have a spare battery, so I thought I was sunk, and I missed photographing six beautiful cardinals (three "couples"), but then decided to try my camera again -- and it decided to continue working for the rest of our walk, go figure!

 My son enjoyed the waterfall on our little creek, and was poking around looking for something to capture and observe, but for now to no avail.

Before beginning our walk we had been reading The Story Book of Science, the chapter about "The Spider Web", and I had envisioned going out and finding a spider web to observe. What was I thinking?! It's way too cold to find a spider web out there right now. But, that's okay! We were out there, and found what was there.

We continued following the creek, crossed a road and continued with the creek on the other side. Finally my son found some minnows!
While he was down and dirty with his net, I was looking around from the sidewalk along the street where my feet could stay dry. I spotted some cool trees -- one that had foliage so think I was amazed:

And another tree had this cool white bark with big peeling pieces:

I also found, by the twiney branches, that I was standing under some bald wild grape vines.
As we left from letting the minnows go, I was amazed to find a maple seed pod on the sidewalk (as in this area I thought all the maple trees shed their pods in the spring, but aparently some of them DO shed them in the fall!)
So we had to hunt and find where the seed pods were coming from, and were able to find the tree.
At first my son was convinced it wasn't a maple, but we finally found a leaf on the ground (that wasn't from the oak over our heads), and he was able to see that the leaves really were maple leaves.

Then on our way I noticed one last item of interest--  ...many of the trees have lost their leaves in a very unusual pattern -- the wind has blown the leaves off the tops of the trees, but lower on the trees (where there might be protection from houses or other trees), many of the trees still have some of their leaves still clinging.

So when we got home I had my son fill out a Notebooking page. I was very pleased with his effort -- no complaining, just sat right down and wrote out what we had done! He really needs work on his capitalization and sentence structures, but we work on that at other times. I don't want to mark up his notebooking pages -- they are more a place where we will watch and enjoy as we can observe his improvements!
So thanks for reading about our Outdoor Hour! Have you had your nature walk today?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giveaway! $100 from Hands of a Child Lapbooking!

I just learned about this great giveaway at Freely Educate -- a $100 giveaway of Hands of a Child Lapbooking products! Go sign up! (Really, sign up, but let me win, okay?)

Freely Educate Giveaway: Hands of a Child Lapbooking Products

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Giveaway! One Complete Set of Friendly Chemistry (over $100 Value)!

Friendly Chemistry has recently edited & updated their curriculum.  To celebrate, they want to send a full curriculum set to one of you! 

Head on over to Freely Educate and follow the instructions for participating in this give-away.  From that blog:

After looking through a Friendly Chemistry textbook, you'll soon realize that, hmm, chemistry is a little more interesting than you first thought.  Give it a longer look and you'll find yourself surprisingly absorbed in elements and molecules.  Then...gather some students,  teach a Friendly Chemistry lesson and you'll see that chemistry is not only fun, but the kids are asking to have another chemistry class! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Free Christmas Issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has put together a surprise, FREE Christmas issue of the magazine just for you (and me)! Check it out for some nice recipes, and meet some of the TOS Crew.

The Old Schoolhouse Christmas Issue


Visual Latin Giveaway

Wow! I just found out Home Educating Family Magazine is giving away a full year of Visual Latin curriculum to some lucky winner! That's worth $80! I just signed up. You can, too! (I still hope I win, though!) Here's the link:

Home Educating Family Magazine Contests

Good luck!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mideival Siege Machines

I have a boy. He just turned 12, and I still feel like I can't get used to "doing boy". I want to sew, knit, crochet... But I have a boy. [This post had an error, so it has been edited. Sorry if you received it twice.]

So I force myself to stretch outside my comfort zone. Sometimes something comes along that makes this a little easier. Today I get to tell you about some products that do just that.

This past month I had the privilege to receive, to review, from Pitsco Education, a package of Mideival  siege machines -- a model trebuchet, a model catapult, and an informative booklet (Siege Machines) on the science, technology, engineering and math of medieval siege machines [soft spiral bound paper].

When the package first arrived, I was busy with something, and I was unwilling to let my (then) 11 year old son loose on the project without supervision. So, the day finally arrived and my son dug into the project of the trebuchet model, and I supervised, assisting whenever asked. He was doing very well. I took photographs.

I loved the way the complexity of this project reduced my son to reading instructions. Like every guy, he seems to first try to make it based on his intuition, second try to make it be looking at the pictures, and third will finally read the instructions if he absolutely has to.
 We some sort of superglue, and my son tried to be careful and keep newspaper under the project. We had our share of fingers sticking together...

But during the project I got a phone call--I had forgotten to check my calendar. I had missed a scheduled doctor's appointment, but if I could come right in they wouldn't charge me a "Missed Appointment" fee. ::sigh:: So I left my son working on the project and flew to my doctor's appointment. (There was another adult home, but not one to help him.) So my son continued working.

So while I was at the doctor's office I must have talked with my son on the phone at least four times! He finished the project. It was "really lame".  But he took photographs.
Then the next phone call, he was in tears: "I didn't mean it to happen, mom! It's broken! I lost my balance and fell on it. It's ruined!" I had visions of a pancake.

I didn't take photos of the trebuchet, but it wasn't as bad as it sounded. It was pretty bad, though. He had snapped the main long arm right at the pivot point -- snapped it right in half. Well, I bought out the white glue, glued it, and repaired it. I am sure it isn't very strong. Later we might reinforce it by gluing a craft stick to it instead, but for now it is at least in one piece.
In addition to everything else, my son apparently cut the string wrong, so there's a knot on the cord holding the bucket -- but it's functional, but I don't know how strong. My husband actually was really impressed -- that's hard to do!

So we waited for a space of days, and then we (he) took on the catapult. This one was easier... I don't know if it is easier in general or if it was just because he already one model under his belt.

 A success story? I wish. There was a hole on a trigger piece that a dowel rod was supposed to fit through. It wasn't fitting. So my son took the craft knife and tried to make the hole bigger. (I didn't know he was having trouble. He didn't tell me, didn't ask for help, didn't ask for advice. It's such a "guy" thing...) The trigger piece could not take the stess. It broke.

So, again the wailing from my son, the defeatist attitude, the complaint that these are such "cheap products". (He is used to building with plastic bricks. They are much more durable. I am rolling my eyes, feeling like I'm dealing with a bull in a china shop.) Out comes the white glue again, the mom, the patient waiting for it to fully dry for 24 hours or so, and voila! We have success. And strong success.
My son loves it. My husband is, again, impressed. And I think these are great products. Granted, they are made of balsa wood, and our rough and tumble boys need to learn care to work with balsa wood, but it is a skill worth acquiring.

In addition to the models, there is an entire unit study now for us to go through so that my son can fully understand the science and engineering behind these machines, their history, and the mathematics involved in hitting your target. I can't wait.

Before this review, I had never heard of Pitsco Education. Going to their website, I am amazed at the wonderful products they carry and the variety of educational fields they can supplement. We have long been into model building, rocketry and robotics, and I am delighted to have learned of this new source for projects. I find their prices very reasonable, and I like the completeness of their kits.

The Trebuchet and Catapult Kit costs $21.95, and comes with everything you saw in my photos. Or, you can buy just the Catapult Kit or the Trebuchet Kit for $10.95. There are various combinations you can purchase, with more or less included in various different-priced kits. I really loved the kit I received because it included absolutely everything we needed to do the project.

Pitsco Education has projects for airplanes, rockets, race cars, buildings, bridges, domes, and entire divisions for education in Math, Engineering, Science, solar energy, robotics, and so much more. I am so delighted to have learned of them.

Here are the "down and dirty" specs:
  • This product is designed for students in the Middle School/High School age range. With supervision, I'm sure some 4th/5th graders can handle the project and the information. It's ideal for use when studying the Middle Ages, but some of these tools were used even as late as World War II!
  • This is an ideal project for all learners, but especially the most tactile learners.
  • This project required little teacher preparation. (I needed to locate the glue I wanted to use and put down newspaper under the workspace. I opted to have a craft knife and mat on hand, but I don't think it was necessary. I also used needle-nosed pliers and wire cutters with the paper clips.)
  • The project kit is consumable; the book is reusable. (Obvious, right?)
  • This project is religious-neutral. (It will not offend, is not in any way religious.)
  • I liked everything about this project.
  • There was not one thing I would change. It was so good I cannot even make any recommendations for improvement!
  • I highly recommend this project to anyone with "tween-aged" kids, especially boys.
  • This would be particularly good to schedule into your plans when you are studying the Middle Ages.
So, I hope you have enjoyed learning about this company and these products as much as I did!
Disclosure: I received a free Trebuchet and Catapult Kit in exchange for my honest opinion and review. I received no other compensation (other than the aforementioned), and this page contains my honest opinions.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review.

To read more reviews of this product, visit the TOG Crew Review page for this product.Throw me a bone! Leave me a comment! I love comments!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu Monday, and dietary changes

So, I hinted at potential changes coming. Here is what is up. I learned, the Friday before Thanksgiving, that a blood test I had in July had come back showing elevated cholesterol. (No, they didn't contact me about it. It's not elevated much, but I'm still annoyed that they didn't call to let me know. That's a blog entry I'll stew about but will probably not make.) Also, each time I have gone to the doctor this year for any reason, my blood pressure has been elevated. I don't like that.

The notation on my file says, "Exercise and diet. Retest in six months." How helpful is that? Uh, what causes high cholesterol? I've never known. I know my mom, my dad, and my step-dad had issues at various times with high cholestrol, but all I came out of childhood with, information-wise, was avoid red meat; avoid eggs. I had already been doing that (red meat only once a week!), and yet my test came back elevated. In light of the fact that heart disease also runs in my family, I was ready to make radical changes to try to improve my health. I hate meds and don't want to continue down the path I've been going. I already have to struggle to keep track of the different meds for my asthma, my arthritis, my herniated disk pain, and don't want those medications let alone a future that adds meds for cholesterol and heart issues.

So I began researching, and I stumbled across YouTube videos of a Dr. C. Esselstyn and his research on lowering cholesterol levels and making yourself heart attack proof

I am not interested in converting anyone. I am just sharing this to let you know that I am adjusting my diet to follow the Esselstyn plan. You can consider me a test-case. I have been on an animal-free, dairy-free, non-fat diet for just over a week now. I had an appointment with my doctor to get her "Okay" on what I am doing only to learn that she, too, is a vegan. My blood pressure, in just days, had dropped from high (don't remember the numbers) to 116/68 -- the nurse said I had the blood pressure of a teenager. I liked that.

So My menu plan this week is a mixed menu plan. My husband wants to support me, but my family is not willing to go vegan. However, I am not interested in cooking two dinners every night, so our menu plan will be a combination of healthy vegan dishes and "sides" of meats for the omnivores. So here's this week's menu plan. (I'm not prepared to link to the recipes right now. If you want one of them, do a Google search.)

Sunday: Leftovers, and Mayan Bowl

Monday: Mushroom-Barley Soup, pumpkin muffins, salad

Tuesday: Cheeseburgers; tomato-corn-bean salad

Wednesday: Confetti-beans and rice; salad

Thursday: Salmon, yellow Dutch potatoes, spinach

Friday: Sweet Thai Fried Rice

Saturday: Pasta Primavera, salad, bread

The key to my success will be planning significantly ahead and making sure I have what I need in the house and that I know what I am to prepare. I'm already trying to think about next week.

I'll post after I do another blood test late in December and you can see what my Cholesterol changes are. I'll post both before and after numbers at that time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Menu Monday

Well, I'm not putting menu plans down for breakfast and lunch, but I thought I'd post dinner menu plans for anyone who was looking for ideas. I meant to do this Monday, so I'll post it as if I did it Monday anyway.

Roast Chicken, rice, broccoli

Ham Steak, noodles, steamed carrots

Chicken pot pie (chicken left over from Monday, homemade gravy, mixed vegetables, store bought pie crust), salad, rolls

Turkey, stuffing, candied yams, rolls, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie, whipped cream, ice cream...

(My son's birthday -- who's idea was that?) Pizza

Turkey Tetrazzini (over spaghetti noodles), leftovers

Turkey wraps

Not sure what these menu plans will look like in the future. Found out Friday that my cholesterol is elevated; my BP has been elevated for two Dr. visits in a row, so am contemplating a plant-based diet, no oil. Google Dr. C. Esseltyn to learn more....

So, we'll see...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Folk Song Study

I just found this link to a video that the Tuttle Family made to correspond to their Folk Song Study. I love it! So I wanted to share it with you as well:

What a great video!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

National Clean Out Your Fridge Day

I just found out that yesterday was National Clean Out Your Fridge Day.

I missed it. I just didn't know. You know what that means, don't you? It means my poor fridge will have to wait until 11/15/12 to get cleaned out now. ::sigh::