Sunday, January 22, 2012

We Choose Virtues - A Review

One of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can use every moment as teachable moments. Not just to teach your common "school" subject like Math, Reading, Language, History, etc. But, our goal is to teach our children true character. Character is something that is lacking in so many kids today. Kids are not taught the basic virtues that the Bible tells us to teach our children. For that matter, many kids are not taught any virtues at all. Heather McMillan, creator of "We Choose Virtues" saw this problem in her experiences with young children. She decided to try and make a difference and created the program to give parents and teachers something to help them integrate teaching character and virtues into our lives.

"We Choose Virtues" is not just another study on character traits where you choose one trait to study each week and then move on to the next. It is designed to be a lasting effort to engrain these virtues into our children's hearts and lives.

We reviewed the "We Choose Virtues" Clue Cards as well as the downloadable PDF coloring book and the Teacher's Handbook. The Clue Cards are 12 small cards that each focus on a different virtue. There is information on both the front and the back of the card, with cute catch-phrases to help your child remember what each word means, and how to apply it to their lives. The Clue Cards are available here for only $5.99. The coloring book is available here for only $3.00. The coloring book goes right along with the Virtue Clue Cards and are great for the younger kids. There are also several free downloads available on their website.

We used the cards as a part of our "morning board" which is actually our refrigerator.

I added one each week and we talked about each of them every morning. Going over the catch-phrases of each one, and discussing any moments that may have come up the day before where we either did, or should have used that virtue. The kids also reminded each other of the clue cards. If one wasn't being "diligent" another child might say "remember to 'start fast, work hard, and finish strong'". My favorite clue card for this particular season in our life is "self controlled". Having two boys, we really need to learn this one a little better. "I am NOT...wild, rowdy, or disorderly and I don't expect others to control me" is a little tough for 6 year old and 10 year old boys! But me telling them "Stop Sign Madeline knows you can do it!" is taken alot better than me telling them for the millionth time to settle themselves down.

The 12 character traits that are covered are:

"We Choose Virtues" has many other products to choose from and they just lowered their prices on many of their products! Some of the products have Bible verses and others do not. So you could easily use some of them in church classes, or if you choose the products without the Bible verses they would be great to use in public schools.

Teaching children virtues is a lost art, and one that needs to be re-kindled in today's world. I want my children to have true character and be virtuous in all that they do. I love any product that helps me to reach that goal!

Disclosure: We received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. There was no other compensation given for the review. All opinions above are my own.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Glimpse into our Day!

If you homeschool you know that every family's day looks a little different. If you don't homeschool you might figure that a homeschooler's day looks alot like a regular school day, just in a classroom at home. Well, I wanted to share how our day looks. It probably looks different than many other homeschoolers. But, I am sure there are similarities too. It definitely looks different than a regular school.

Our morning starts with the kiddos waking up some time around 8. Most mornings I have been up for a little while getting my time with God in, as well as a little exercise. Hmmm, well, maybe that's not entirely true....I try, but I am still working on the whole getting up early.... I DON'T DO MORNINGS is a saying that I have always lived by. So, the kids get started on chores and I start breakfast....

After chores and breakfast we use our refrigerator as our "morning board" and go over the daily things they are all working on...Bible verses, books of the Bible, etc.

Then it's time for Bible and Geography on the couch....This is my favorite time because they are all 3 right there with me.

 On to workboxes from there....

We LOVE our workboxes and I am not sure how I ever survived without them. The boys have 9 each and Molly has 6. We do them a little different than Sue Patrick, the "creator" of workboxes does them, but the idea is the same, and we like to tweak things to make them work for us! Molly and Zach work at the kitchen table with me dividing my time between the two...

Paul works on his own for his first 4 boxes--Bible, Reading, Math, and Big IQ Kids independently...

As the day progresses the little ones tend to need lots of play breaks. I know some people add breaks in to the workboxes and I have tried that, but taking breaks when the kids (or myself) have just had enough, instead of waiting until it's in a box, just works better for us. So, after the morning routine is completed and the first couple of workboxes are done our day turns in many different directions.

We love to take school outside to the trampoline....

Or, take a break from our regular scheduled schooling to study whatever the boys' latest nature find might be...

Or we may make some robots....

And, we LOVE field trips....

Even if it's just a "field trip" to our woods with Daddy.

There's also lots of cooking....

And just plain playing....

Not sure why he plays in the hallway...we have a huge playroom, as well as several other places to play. The hallway is often his "play place" of choice!

Of course, outside playing baseball is even better....

There's probably going to be some crazy art project thrown in occasionally as well....

As you can see we are pretty eclectic in our learning, and in our day. You never know what we might end up doing.

 At some point in the afternoon Paul and I sit down together and do the subjects he needs me for--history, writing, language and science. Most days the boys get through all of their workboxes, especially Paul. But, we are also sure to leave lots of time for exploration and play.

 At some point in the day I get to laundry, the kitchen and cleaning the rest of the house. And, if that doesn't happen, well, there's always tomorrow.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Z-Guides to the Movies - review

If you have read my blog for any length of time you know that I am not a huge media-buff. I limit it as much as possible for my kiddos. However, I do think there is a place for it. If we can use media as an educational and fun opportunity, in a limited way, I see huge potential.

Zeezok's "Z-Guides to the movies" is a great way to integrate movies into your history curriculum. According to their website:
We have dozens of guides— each of them falling within a specific time in history. All of the guides contain ten educational activities that build upon the movie. The guides are movie specific. We tell you exactly which movie we used, and almost all are available thru Netflix. Most you can probably get through your local library. So you don’t even need to buy the movie to use our guides
Each guide comes with 10 activites for the student. The first activity is always review questions and they are supposed to be answered as the student watches the movie. They are designed to keep the student engaged in learning, instead of just staring at the screen. I really like the idea of answering questions as the student goes along.

The rest of the activities center around the historical time period of the movie. There are research activities, worldview activities, critical thinking, family discussion questions and more. It is designed to do 2 activites a day and be completed in a week.

 I really love the idea of having guides to actual movies, not just educational movies. It gives the student the opportunity to see more about the time period being studied (if the movie is well-done and not too "hollywoody"--but that's a different post altogether).

 Zeezok has movie guides for both elementary/middle school kids, and high school kids. They are available on their website as a downloadable e-book for $12.99 per guide. You can see a sample of the guide here

The Z-Guide we reviewed was for the movie "FlyBoys". When we were asked to review a guide I simply looked at the ones available for Paul's age group and the time period we were about to study. "FlyBoys" fit right into both of those categories. I should have been a little more diligent in the movie I picked. As "FlyBoys" is rated PG-13, it is not a movie I will allow Paul to watch. This is NOT Zeezok's fault, it is my responsibility to filter what is coming in to our home. So, we were not able to complete the first activity, since it is questions about the movie, but we were able to discuss the time period, as well as the plot of the movie and completed many of the other activities. I really enjoyed the Reading Comprehension activity because it gave him a better understanding of the time period. All of the activities are very thoroughly written and they are very appropriate for this age group. We will definitely be ordering and downloading some of their other "z-guides" to complement our history curriculum. 

 Please go take a look at what other TOS Crew members have to say about the "Z-Guides" they received here 

 Disclosure: I recieved a copy of this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and there was no other compensation given for this review. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


This is a test. My "BlogPress" has Ben very "buggy" since the latest iOS download. There was a recent upgrade so I am checking it out to see if it's working correctly. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I haven't blogged in quite a while. I have so many posts swimming around in my head, but have not had a second to write them down. Well, truth be known, I probably have had a second, but I have been addicted to Pinterest, and that is a TRUE time-sucker. Anyway, I am going to start trying to blog more. I have so many "resolves" for the new year and one of them is get this house ORGANIZED. I have learned, well maybe I AM LEARNING that less is more, especially when you have three very active kiddos and you homeschool. So, the first thing I am organizing and paring down is the kids clothes. The boys share a closet. Paul's clothes are on the top:

And Zach's are on the bottom. And, yes, that is a purple sparkly tutu in the floor because Molly's clothes tend to end up in the strangest places.

Anyway, as you can see they have way too many clothes. This doesn't even include the clothes that are currently dirty, or the clothes that need to be put away, or the clothes in their chest of drawers (all their jeans, pants and shorts go in the drawers because there is not enough room in their closet. So, my thoughts on what I am cutting down to:
 5 short sleeve shirts
5 long sleeve shirts
3 short sleeve collared shirts
3 long sleeve collared shirts
3 church outfits--they have two suits each and then lots of dress shirts and ties--oh the ties, I have got to get rid of some of their ties--they probably have 50 ties total!
2 pairs of jean
2 pairs of warm-up/basketball pants

 And I think that's it. How does that sound...still too much, too little...tell me what you do.

I also have to think about Molly. She, too, has way too many clothes, but they are so cute I can't bring myself to get rid of them. I will have to work on that!

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