Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Big Girl Room

Molly's room was never actually finished when she first came home. It had all the necessities and a few things on the wall. When she moved to a big girl bed we didn't change much, just a new bedding set on my old daybed. For her 5th birthday we decided to do her room for her!

We kept the three walls pink and then one wall is log. I made some canvases for her to brighten up the log wall.

She got new curtains, they're green and you can see a little of them in this picture. We picked up a couple of shelves from Ikea, and put a picture that a friend brought home for her on their trip to China and the lower shelf has the picture the orphanage gave us of the city of Jiangyin (where she lived for her first 11 months).

And then her new bed (very simple, from Ikea), new bedding, and the leaf canopy (also an Ikea purchase). Her name is still on her wall and we need to brighten it up a little but haven't decided what to do yet. You can't really tell in this picture but the wall is a light pink, the letters are white and the ribbon is a light green.

And then on the last wall:

It's a peel-n-stick decal set that I have been wanting for her room for a while now. And then the canvas above that says My days are always happy and bright"

We didn't change the small wall between the closet door and the built in shelf. This was the first thing I bought when we new she was ours, so it will be in her room until she asks me to take it down!

So, there's Molly's new room! It is the most decorated room in our house! We do not do a lot of decorating (many of our walls have school things on them)so this was pretty big stuff for us!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Many Faces of Molly!

In honor of Molly's birthday on Saturday here are the many silly faces of Molly!

And my absolute favorite smile:

I cannot believe my baby girl will be 5 on Saturday! It seems like yesterday we were on our way home from China with our new daughter. She was 11 months old, but much more like a 4-5 month old. Oh how she has grown in so many ways!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Amazing Science - a review

My kids LOVE Science experiments. I think all kids love Science experiments. But, I hate to admit, we don't do near as many as I wish we did. Science is not my "thing" so I am always afraid that it's not going to go like it says it will in the book...and typically I'm right. I need a visual explanation and exact instructions. Science and offers just that.

"Amazing Science" is a two volume set of DVD's with 23 experiments! They are done by Jason Gibson who "has advanced degrees in Engineering and Physics, worked as a rocket scientist for NASA and has a passionfor teaching Math and Science".

The DVD set is only $19.95. That is less than $1 for each experiment. And not only do you get Jason Gibson showing you the experiment from multiple angles you get his scientific explanation on a level that my 10 year old can understand, and some of them even my 6 and 4 year old can understand! There is also a supply list given at the beginning of each experiment! My kids watched these experiments multiple times and we performed many of them!
 The following experiments are on the 2 disc-set:

1 - Color Changing Milk
2 - Egg in a Bottle
3 - Exploring Air Pressure
4 - Build a Lemon Battery
5 - Inverted Cup of Water
6 - Candle Suction Power
7 - Amazing Magnetic Force
8 - Lift an Ice Cube with String
9 - Unburnable Money
10- Matchstick Speedboat
11- Cloud in a Bottle
12- Reversing and Image with Water
13- Floating Eggs
14- Keeping Paper Dry Under Water
15- Dry Ice Bubbles
16- Balloon in a Candle Flame
17- Ocean in a Bottle
18- Build a Motor with Lights
19- Simple Lava Lamp
20- Invisible Ink
21- Density Tower
22- Soda Can Fizz
23- Build a Motor #2

Like I mentioned above not only do you see the experiment you get a very detailed explanation of why the experiment works. Over the last four weeks we have actually performed several of these experiments. Our favorite one of the ones we have actually done is definitely the "Color Changing Milk" The pictures didn't turn out that great, but it was a great experiment. The kids went through almost an entire gallon of milk and all of my food coloring! They must have done the experiment 5 or 6 times each.

It was such a simple experiment, like most of them are, but the kids really learned from them, and loved doing them. We were not only creating great memories we were also doing Science! It just doesnt get much better than that.

Science and offers lots of different products so be sure and check out their entire website, and make sure and set aside the $19.95 to get these great experiments for your kiddos. They would make great "summer-school" for homeschooling or non-homeschooling kids.  Use the experiments to teach your kids about magnetism, electricity, buoyancy, chemistry, physics and so much more!

Take a look at what other Crew Members thought over at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure: We received the DVD's for free in exchange for an honest review on my blog. There was no other compensation given for the review. All opinions in the above review are my own, honest opinions.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God's Great Covenant - a review

One of the main reasons we homeschool is so that we can teach our children Bible. We want them to be securely grounded in God's word. We don't just want them to know the basic Bible stories of David and Goliath, Seven Days of Creation, Daniel and the Lions Den, etc. we want them to know the Bible and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We were recently given the opportunity to review a curriculum that has the potential to really help our children dig deep into the Bible. "God's Great Covenant: New Testament--The Gospels is published by Classical Academic Press ($26.95) and is written for 4th grade and up. The book is divided into 4 units:

Unit 1: Jesus, the Son of Man, Has Come...To Live Among His People
Unit 2: Jesus, God's Servant, Has Come...To Proclaim the Good News
Unit 3: Jesus, the Messiah, Has Come...To Teach About God's Kingdom
Unit 4: Jesus, the Son of God, Has Come...To Conquer Sin and Death

There are a total of 36 chapters. Each chapter consists of a Memory Page, Story Time, Review Worksheets, At the end of each unit there is a "Memory Passage Worksheet" that helps to review all the Scripture Memory from the unit, as well as a Devotional Guide. My kids favorite section of the book is also at the end of each unit: "Simon's World". Simon is a young boy who lived at the time of Jesus. It gives a great understand of what day-to-day life was like for people at that time.

The chapters are VERY in depth and very challenging for my 5th grader. All three kiddos enjoyed listening to the stories and they all learned from them. Paul was the only one I required anything from in the way of worksheets and memory work. The memory work was pretty tough with Bible verses, a chart full of information, as well as a prophecy fulfilled.

I really like that this is so much more than just Bible stories. This curriculum shows students how the Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled in the New Testament. It brings the Bible to life for them and helps them see relationships between things that aren't typically pulled out at this level. And, it does it in a way that clicks with this age group. Now, all that said, please know that this is an intense program. There is a LOT of information in this 350 page book. This is not a book you can hand your 4th grader and have him work on it. It is teacher-intense! I would think that you wouldn't be able to have a student do this curriculum independently until about 7th or 8th grade. We love that it has so much information, and especially the maps that help us "see" where things are happening. We also loved the "Memory Page" at the beginning of each chapter it gives an overview of what we would be learning in the chapter as well as a quick reference for what we were memorizing that week.

You can take a look at the complete Table of Contents and a sample of the curriculum to see if this is something that would work for your student.

We also received the audio file ($9.95) of all the chapters. My kids would much prefer me to read to them more than any audio book, so that didn't work well for them. It also didn't work well for us because I had to stop and explain things along the way or they would have questions so would need to stop which is more difficult with an an audio format.

The teacher's edition ($29.95) was included in our review as well. It is the same as the student text but with a place for personal notes as well as many, many additional notes to add to the curriculum. The student book is so full of information we did not get in to the additionally information in the teacher's edition. I can see how those notes would be helpful if the curriculum were being used with an older student.

We have only used this for about 4 weeks, and have already learned a great deal. I will continue with this curriculum when we pick school back up in late summer. I am excited about all the information and all the possibilities of things to dive in to, learn, and explore. I can really see this curriculum lasting us way more then a year, because there is so much wonderful information packed into it. Obviously, as is, it is too much for my two younger ones. I still hope to have them listen in on the story time and pick up as much as they can.

There are two other books in this line of curriculum that cover the Old Testament. You can see those choices as well as bundled packages here.

Take a look at what other Crew members thought at the Homeschool Crew Blog

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the product to review in exchange for an honest review. There was no other compensation given for this review. All opinions are my own, honest opinion.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Baseball Season

Baseball season has been in full swing now for close to two months! It has been a wonderful season for the boys!

Paul is on a team with six of his buddies from church. Steve and three other Dads from our church are the coaches. Paul is playing shortstop, pitcher and catcher. He is hitting really well, and most importantly he is having a BLAST!

Zach is doing so much better this year! He is playing center field, shortstop amd pitcher's mound (at his age the coach pitches but a payer plays the mound). He is making outs on the field and hitting really well. Again, most importantly he is having a great time! I really can't imagine coaching this many 5 and 6 year old kids but his coaches are phenomenal and do a tremendous job of keeping this group focused on baseball!

When he's not on the field he is hanging out with his buddies from other teams while he waits on his brother.

 Little Molly is not playing baseball but she definitely enjoys hanging out at the fields, playing with her friends, and cheering for her brothers!

Bright Ideas Press - a review

I hate to admit it but Science is the last thing to get done around here. As a result, it often times just doesn't get done at all. The kids get plenty of nature studies and they even take a class at our local zoo once each month, but Science with an actual curriculum just doesn't happen much around here. When given the opportunity to review a Science curriculum I was excited that Science would actually get done for atleast a few weeks, since review items always get done.

Bright Ideas Press publishes the "Christian Kids Explore" series and we were given a choice of which one we wanted to review. "Earth and Space" seemed like the one that would work best for us.

"Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space" is divided into 6 units.
Unit 1: Getting Started
Unit 2: The Lithosphere
Unit 3: The Hydrosphere
Unit 4: The Atmosphere
Unit 5: Earth's Weather
Unit 6: Beyond Earth

Each of the units is divided in to lessons for a total of 24 lessons and 6 "unit wrap-ups" in the book. At the beginning of each unit you are given the vocabulary for the unit as well as a list of all materials needed. Preparing for the entire unit by getting all the materials gathered made for very little daily prep, which is great for us!

You can check out a complete Table of Contents as well as a sample unit to see what you think about this curriculum.

The Appendices in the book include:
Appendix A: Reproducible Maps, Forms, and Illustrations
Appendix B: Memorization Lists ( a different list for each unit)
Appendix C: Scripture Memory (several scriptures for each unit)
Appendix D: Coloring Pages (a different page for each unit)
Appendix E: Recipes and Supplemental Activities.
Appendix F: How to Make a Folder-book
Appendix G: Book and Resource List
Appendix H: Answer Key

As you can see the appendices are full of useful information and activities. My little ones loved the coloring pages that were full of detail and took lots of time to color. The activities you will need for each unit are listed in the "materials needed" list at the beginning of each unit. To make printing/copying these things easier you can purchase a pdf download for only $7.95. This definitely made it more convenient to have all the papers ready as I needed them.

Since we have a hard time getting Science done and I knew this curriculum had to be used I scheduled into the beginning part of our day. I try to keep all three kids together for Science so I decided to have Science right after Bible first thing in the morning. This worked so well, especially with this curriculum. There is so much scripture intertwined in this curriculum that it seemed like just an extension of our Bible studies. The conversational tone of the book also helped with keeping all three kids involved. It was easy enough for the two little ones to understand the basics but there was also enough "meat" for Paul to really dig into it and learn a great deal.

Molly drew this picture after our very first lesson. It's God creating the earth! Notice that there are seven continents! She can name all 7 of them, as well as the oceans.

The kids truly enjoyed learning about the layers of the earth and had a blast making the earth's layers out of play-doh.

They had entirely too much fun destroying the earth as well:

They then dove right into learning about caves in Unit 2 and we pulled out several other books on caves as well as looked back at many of the pics we had taken of the caves we visited in Virginia a few months ago.

You can purchase the "Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space" through the Bright Ideas Press website for only $34.95.

The "Christian Kids Explore" series also offers Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. Bright Ideas Press offers so much more than Science you have to go check out all the curriculum choices they offer on their website.

Also make sure and go to the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to see more reviews for the "Christian Kids Explore" series.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of "Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space" as well as the pdf download of all the activities at no charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own, and there was no other compensation given for this review.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Write With World - a review

Paul has always loved writing. He was writing stories well in the first grade. Before he could print his letters he would dictate stories to me and I would write them and he would draw pictures. I knew he needed to take his writing to the next level and was debating which program to use to move to a "middle-school level" of writing. We have used some that are super intense and though he liked them at first they quickly became too much for him as well as for me. I knew there was an easier way to get him writing at the next level.

Write with World is a writing program designed for middle-schoolers. The creators of "God's World News" and "WORLD" Magazine have published this writing curriculum to help students become stronger writers, and not just produce the typical 5-paragraph essay. The creators of this curriculum want to teach students "to think and make choices, not just follow a formula. We don't want to tell students always to combine sentences [or] start a new paragraph after five sentences."

"The underlying message is that writing is hard work but it should also bring pleasure: 'Let students compose sentences that are funny.'"

The program is broken down in to Units, Lessons, and then Capsules. There are 4 Units with 4 lessons in each Unit and 4-6 capsules within each lesson. You can do as little as one capsule each day, which is what we do, or you can work through it more quickly if you would like. You can take a look at the complete table of contents on their website.

The capsules are fairly short and don't take a great deal of time but they are full of great information and really teach the child about writing. They also have grammar lessons within the lessons. They are not your typical grammar lessons with 20 sentences that you have to pick out the noun in. Instead the student uses his/her own writings to learn about grammar. Since this is a middle school level program it is assumed that the student has some basic knowledge of grammar. At the end of each capsule there are assignments for the student. Some days the assignment is as simple as writing a list of adjectives to describe a given picture. Other days the assignments are a bit longer and may involve writing a paragraph and eventually move toward writing several paragraphs or an essay.

Paul has enjoyed this program, especially the fact that the lessons are short. The goal is for the children to actually ENJOY writing. And Paul is doing that. Though that is of no shock because Paul has always enjoyed writing. I do think it would be a great program for reluctant writers as well, since the lessons are short, and intended to be a little more fun. Students are encouraged to have fun with what they write. The philosophy of the creators of this program is that typically if we enjoy reading something it's probably true that the writer actually enjoyed writing it. Writing should not be forced, it should be enjoyable.

We reviewed the first year of a two-year program. The program is designed to be used with middle school (6th-8th) students. However, Paul is a 5th grader and it has worked well for him. I think you could even use it with a 4th grader.

"Write With World" is brand-new! In fact we reviewed the pilot materials. The final production version with be printed and available to ship this summer. You can purchase the first year of the program which includes the student book as well as the teacher book for $95. If you would like to purchase both the first and second year books together for $165. When purchasing the curriculum you will also receive access to a website coming in September for users of the curriculum. The site will provide a place for students to publish their work as well as provide parents/teachers with additional writing topics.

Take a look at what other Crew Members have to say on the Homeschool Crew Blog

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this curriculum in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own honest opinion. No other compensation was given for this review.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TruthQuest History - a review

It's very important to my husband and I that our kids learn History from a Christian perspective. We want them to see God's hand in everything. We want them to understand History in a different way then we understood History as students. We want them to love History and to know that it is important to our world today.

It is not as important to us that our kids be able to recite dates and names as it is for them to understand why things happen, and what life was like in any given time period.

TruthQuest History does this. It teaches the child to enjoy history, not just memorize it for the sake of a test.

We were given the opportunity to review TruthQuest History's Guide to "American History forYoung Students III (1865-2000). TruthQuest offers 3 different American History guides for grades 1-6. They also offer 8 World History Guides that will take a student all the way through high school.

TruthQuest is a guide to how to teach your kids history. It's not just a list of books or a list of assignments to teach dates and people. The Guide we reviewed (America History III) starts with Reconstruction and Westward expansion. It is divided into 36 different units. Each unit begins with a synopsis of that portion of history. The synopsis is written in a very conversational tone. It is easy to read and follow. After the summary there are a list of books that are appropriate for that topic. There are many, many books listed for most of the topics. Another great aspect is that for each book listed there is a grade level listed as well. This makes it very easy to teach multiple ages at the same time.


I love the topic summaries that are given. They give a definite Christian perspective to American History. Paul has really enjoyed the summaries and learned a great deal. I, however, need more guidance in what to do each day. I want something laid out with a daily schedule as to what pages he should read from what books each day. In my opinion Truth Quest is a great supplement to an entire curriculum. It has added to our current curriculum, and given us more to discuss. For those parents out there who want to piece the curriculum together themselves then TruthQuest is perfect for that. There are so many phenomenal books listed and we love the undeniably Christian perspective of the author. Paul did get a little bit upset with the many instances of "you'll learn more about this when you are older" that is in many of the summaries. He is not the type of kid that wants to hear that. He wants to know it NOW. It has lead to many great conversations and research initiated by him.

The guides are available for only $29.95 (plus shipping and handling) for a hard copy and only $24.95 for the pdf ebook. You can take a look at samples and Table of Contents to see if this is the curriculum for your child.

The Homeschool Crew was given the opportunity to review many of the different guides and you can see all the reviews on the Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest review. There was no other compensation given for this review and all opinions given are my own honest opinion.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, April 6, 2012

Amazing Animals by Design - a review

I have two animal lovers in my house. My two little ones love anything to do with animals. Especially my Zachary. He has a ton of books about animals and he pours over them. We were driving down the road the other day and he said "Mom, I would love to see a peregrine falcon one day." He then proceeded to tell me all about the peregrine falcon and how it was different from other falcons. Remember, he is only 6! He wants to learn all he can about animals. He also asks lots of questions about animals and how God made them. He is very intrigued by the different attributes of various animals. It is difficult, however, to find books for him that discuss these attributes with an emphasis on Creation and Intelligent Design. I want him to know that God created all these animals for a unique purpose. I want him to understand that God is the designer of these animals, and of all things in nature.

Debra Haagen saw this need for a children's book that would teach children exactly that. She created "Amazing Animals by Design". This is a 24 page book with beautiful illustrations that teaches young children all about Intelligent Design at an elementary level.

Why is a giraffe’s neck so tall? Why do zebras have stripes? Did all of these things happen by accident? When John and Sarah visit the zoo, they ask these questions and many more. Their parents and the zookeepers keep using the word design, but what does that mean?

Zach and Molly loved the book. They loved the artwork as well as the story itself. They love the zoo and have asked many of the questions that the children in the book ask when we visit the zoo. I would tell them that God designed the animals all for His Glory but that's where my knowledge of animals ends. This book takes it further and explains why zebras have stripes, why elephants have trunks, and so much more.

The book is written for young elementary students, approximately pre-k through 3rd grade. It can be purchased directly from the publisher as an e-book ($7.99) or as a paperback ($8.99).

Debra Haagen, the author, is a first year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. She is also a military wife and homeschooling mother of four children.

Disclosure: I received a pdf copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All of the opinions expressed here are my own, honest opinion. There was no other compensation given for this review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad