Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: August 31

Oh, what a fun Bountiful Baskets morning!  Getting up wasn't so good.  As I was heading to bed way too late last night, I realized that I had a ginormous stockpot of apples simmering, and a regular stockpot of tomatoes.

So I had to stay up another hour to get the apples sauced, and the tomatoes too.  But, 1 quart of tomato sauce, 2 quarts of applesauce, and 1 quart of apple juice... yeah, probably worth a bit less sleep.

Anyway, today I got a basket, a 36 pound box of pears, a 25 pound box of Roma tomatoes, and something new:  a stew pack.

Here's a photo of my basket:

It includes:
  • 2 ears of bi-color corn (I know, only one is pictured)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 bunch organic broccoli
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • 4 big russet potatoes
  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 7 Hatch chilies (hot)
  • 2 cantaloupe
  • 8 bananas
  • 3 peaches
  • 4 Asian pears
My Stew Pack ($7.50) looked like this:

This includes:
  • 5 pounds potatoes
  • 1 pound bag of carrots
  • 1 big bunch celery
  • 4 onions
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 big bunch kale
  • 1 bunch parsley, I'm pretty sure
  • 3 bay leaves

I have no idea yet what I'm doing with everything.  I'll brainstorm it a bit though:
  • melons, Asian pears, peaches, and bananas will just get eaten, as will some of the Bartlett pears.
  • Lettuce and potatoes are staples that just get used.
  • Green peppers and Hatch chilies will probably both be used along with some of the tomatoes from the big box to can either some Rotel-type thing, or possibly salsa
  • Corn we'll eat with dinner tonight
  • Broccoli we'll roast with olive oil and salt and have tomorrow night
  • Zucchini -- I'm still thinking about that.  I've got a bunch more to go with it.  
  • Stew pack -- I'm hoping to do some type of potato-kale soup, and I want to do a crockpot meal with potatoes, carrots, celery and onions.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Hunt for the Devil's Dragon

I have reviewed most of the books in the Imagination Station series, and today I have the chance to tell you about #11: Hunt for the Devil's Dragon.

In past reviews, I have talked about how much I love this series, especially for struggling readers.  There is a lot of repetitive vocabulary, which I don't notice when I am reading it myself.  It is only apparent to me when I listen to one of the kids read aloud.  The great thing about that is the kids get lots of opportunities to encounter the words, which means they are more likely to "own" the word.

I was able to sit down and read the entire book in about an hour, but my kids take quite a bit longer.

The description from the publisher:
If you’re brave, follow cousins Beth and Patrick to Libya in the 13th century. The town of Silene is being terrorized by a vicious animal that is eating livestock. The townspeople believe it’s a dragon sent by the devil. In order to appease the beast, the people believe they must offer a human sacrifice—a young girl named Sabra. When Beth tries to help Sabra escape, she too is tied up as an offering for the dragon. Meanwhile, Patrick and a new friend named Hazi join Georgius, a Roman knight who is serving in Africa to keep peace. Georgius decides to find the dragon and kill it. Georgius’s plans go awry when Beth and Sabra beg him not to kill the dragon. The girls know the true secret of Silene—the dragon isn’t its worst enemy.
I think this is my favorite Imagination Station story yet.  Beth starts off upset with herself for being afraid to stand up to a bully at school.  Their adventure in Libya involves her standing up for Sabra -- and ending up tied up as a sacrifice to a dragon as a result.

You know that she is going to live through this (these books are fairly predictable, particularly to an adult reader) and in this case, she does live through it with a new outlook on bullies.  I loved the message.

This whole series is fabulous for those kids who are past the beginning books and starting to read chapter books.  The chapters are short and action-packed.  The historical aspects are interesting.  And the overall message is coming from a basic Christian point of view.

I very much recommend these books.  You can also read my review of Books 8 and 9.

Disclaimer:   I received these books for free from Tyndale House Publishers.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Alone Yet Not Alone

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

I love historical fiction.  I've made that clear a time or two on this blog.  I love using historical fiction in teaching my kids.  I especially love historical fiction that leans a bit more heavily towards the "historical" or "biographical" and less towards the "fiction" side of the phrase.

That is why I was particularly interested in reviewing Alone Yet Not Alone, the story of Barbara and Regina Leininger, written by Tracy Leininger Craven.  In the author notes at the back of the book, Tracy notes that her first draft of this book was written when she was nine years old, after her grandmother Leininger told her the story.

Barbara and Regina were carried away by Allegheny warriors during the French and Indian War.  Through all they endure, torn away from their family, they do not lose their faith in Jesus.

My children are all studying completely different time periods right now (Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the late Middle Ages) so this didn't fit the bill for any of them at the moment.  That meant I read it.  And next year, when at least four of them are going to be studying American history, this book is going to be a family read-aloud.  It would be a good reader for an upper elementary/middle school child too.   Or, it would make a quick filler-type of reader for a high school student.

There is a movie coming out September 27, and there is a special section in this book with photos from the movie and the filming.  I found those photos to be a lot of fun to look over.

You can win a copy of this book, if you live in the US or Canada.  Check it out here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: N is for Noah

A while back, I reviewed A is for Adam by Ken and Mally Ham.  We enjoyed the book, and I was certainly interested in the newest title in that series, N is for Noah

Unfortunately, Trina seems to have decided that she is <sob> too old for these books now.  At least, that is her opinion right now.

One thing I really, really love with this book is that it sits up, tent-style and the child can sit on one side, looking at the picture and the simple rhyming text... like:

"K is for Kept
Kept safe on the ark, only eight people went on board,
With each kind of land animal and food that was stored.
For seven days the ark stood with the door open wide,
Noah must have pleaded, 'Please, people, please come inside.'"

And I can sit on the other side, where I don't have the big pretty picture, but I do have the above text.  So I can easily read it aloud, or easily help my child with the more difficult words as they read.

The majority of what is on my side of the book though, is suggestions for things to do with this page, or things to talk about.  There is a bit of an overview, including the text of Genesis 7:1-5.  There are "Bible Bits" -- short little sentences giving some information for the child to repeat.  There are questions you can ask your child, from the basic "Tell me what you see in the picture." to "Did Noah trust God?"  There is an "Always Remember" section, which is kind of a "key points" for the child to repeat back.  There is "Stuff to Do" which involves actually getting up and away from the book and being active.  And there are review questions.

In the back of the book, there are slightly deeper suggestions for the pages.  Again, for the K page, they have suggestions to read a few verses from Job 40:15-18 and to discuss things about behemoth.

Also, available online are coloring pages to go along with the book, making this even more fun for kids who like coloring.  I think those pages are going to eventually win Trina over to working through this with me.

For a child in the 3-7 year old range, going through a page at a time could be a fabulous ritual.

You can go see what other Moms of Master Books have to say about N is for Noah!

There is a Book and a Treat Facebook party coming up tonight at 9 pm EDT where you could win cool prizes including (I assume) this title, a "Noah" production from Sight and Sound Theatres (the "treat" sponsor this month), among other things -- and discuss the book. 

Disclaimer:   I received this books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: Defending the Faith

As part of the Master Books Apologetics Review Team, I get the opportunity to review some titles I wouldn't necessarily have picked up on my own.  In July (Yes, I know.  It is August.) I was to review Defending the Faith: Upholding Biblical Christianity in the Genesis Record by Henry Morris.

This has been a tough one for me.  But before we get to that, here is what the publisher says about this book:
When Jude wrote his Epistle, he implored believers in all ages to be diligent in their defense of the faith. And the faith clearly was, and is, belief in Jesus Christ as Creator and Redeemer. So just as Solomon assured us that there is nothing new under the sun, we're not surprised that there are attacks on the gospel today; Jude was just as familiar with these enemies of the gospel in his time.
Now, author Henry Morris offers up a brand-new look at these age-old attacks on the faith, tackling a breathtaking range of issues, from science and the Bible to liberal criticisms of the Bible. A powerful weapon in the battle for truth, Defending the Faith doesn't shrink from the fight, but rather speaks the truth in love.
Sounds great, right?  And I was excited to read it.  "Brand-new look" and "age-old attacks" definitely grabbed me.

The reality, for me, was different though.  I think maybe I've just worked through too many Henry Morris resources lately, but I just became completely bogged down in the language.  At the end of Chapter I: We Must Defend the Faith, Morris goes through a pretty lengthy argument for why King James version is the best English Bible to use.

It was interesting to me, because up to that point in the first chapter, I was having to stop almost every time there was a scripture quote and go look up words so that I could figure out what the verse meant.  I had been thinking how I'm simply not smart enough to comprehend KJV unless I am completely awake and alert and at my absolute best.

After those thoughts, I get to a four-page treatise on why KJV is the only way to go.  This included sentences like, "Apart from a few archaic words which can be easily clarified in footnotes, it is as easy to understand today as it was 400 years ago."

That's about the point I shut the book and decided I needed a couple weeks before I tackled it again.  Well, okay, I did finish the next page to complete the chapter.  THEN I closed it up.

So back into the book a few weeks later, I have to say that taking a break was a good idea.  There is a lot of great stuff in this book.  My favorite chapter was Chapter IV: The Rhetoric of Evolution.  In this chapter, Morris quotes extensively from various evolutionists about the evidence (or lack thereof) for various evolutionary beliefs.  Fascinating stuff.

I do recommend this book, especially if you are one of my many KJV-only readers.  For the rest of us, this is a great resource, and the KJV arguments may make you think a bit.

Disclaimer:   I received this books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Master Books Apologetics Review Team program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review: On Distant Shores

I was so thrilled to have the chance to review On Distant Shores, by Sarah Sundin.  A while back, I had read and reviewed the first book in her Wings of the Nightingale series, With Every Letter, and I really loved that book.  I definitely wanted to find out more about this group of WWII flight nurses.

From the publisher:
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943,  Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.  

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?  

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.
One of the things I really loved about With Every Letter (and other Sundin books I've read) is the historical accuracy.  An even bigger draw is that she is writing about aspects of World War two that aren't very familiar to me.  On Distant Shores carries on in that tradition.

According to the back of the book, "During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England."  Whether grandpa told stories about his time in the war, or whether his involvement spurred Sundin to research the pharmacist angle on the war, clearly Sundin knows what she is writing about.

I'll confess that I was a bit confused when I started reading this book.  It's been nearly a year since I read book 1, so I wasn't remembering a lot of detail from that one.  Not being familiar with the first book is fine, as I do believe this book stands alone.  But vaguely remembering the last one, that wasn't a good thing.  These two books overlap slightly, and that is what was confusing me.  Once it finally occurred to me that we had stepped back a bit in time to pick up Georgie's story, it was much easier for me to follow.

This story goes back and forth, looking at event from Georgie's point of view, then from Hutch's.  I loved seeing both sides of the story, and I particularly enjoyed the portions that Hutch told.

This book is simply fabulous, and Sarah Sundin is one author I make a point to read.

Sarah Sundin is celebrating the release of her latest novel, On Distant Shores, with a Romantic Weekend Getaway giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (good for a perfect couple's getaway)
  • With Every Letter and On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 2nd. Winner will be announced September 3rd at the "On Distant Shores" Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Sarah will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Weekend Getaway, and giving away a ton of books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at the next book in the Wings of the Nightingale series.

So grab your copy of On Distant Shores and join Sarah on the evening of September 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: August 17

Early, early morning... and Richard and Trina were up before I was, waiting for me in the living room.  We were out of the house before 4:30.  Running the site has some serious disadvantages, but hey, it was still great.

Here's a photo of one basket:

I had contributed for two baskets, and between the two, I got:

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 2 bunches spinach
  • 3 English cucumbers (HOW did I end up picking a basket with an extra cucumber?)
  • 3 1-lb bags of baby carrots
  • 6 avocadoes
  • 11 roma tomatoes
  • 2 pineapples
  • 2 bags of grapes
  • 13 bananas
  • 4  mangoes
  • 16 yellow plums
We also got a package of wraps and a package of corn tortillas.

What will we do with this stuff?
  • Lettuce, carrots, plums, bananas, pineapples, and grapes will just be eaten
  • The tomatoes are going with some of my remaining Hatch Chilies from last week to can my own Rotel
  • Spinach -- this may be added to salads, but most will probably go into my Greek scrambled egg breakfasts (spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, feta cheese -- and scrambled eggs)
  • Avocadoes -- I'll be making guacamole this time around.  I may try to hide some in a Mexican lasagna or something (which would also use up some of my remaining Hatch Chilies)
  • Mangoes -- used in smoothies
  • English Cucumbers -- I have no idea. Cucumbers are the one veggie we just can't seem to end up actually using.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Bible Study Guide for All Ages

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Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  It's a program I used for a chunk of time with my older children, but I hadn't pulled out again for my younger ones.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew has just had the opportunity to review the newer (well, newer than what I used with the big guys) worksheet types of pages, and I chose to work with Richard and Trina (4th and 2nd grades) on the Intermediate Student Pages, which also came with the Bible Book Summary Cards.   I also used the Children's Songs CD.

When I used the program before, I really liked it.  One thing I loved was that it had you jumping around the Bible quite a bit, but not excessively.  We did Unit 1, where you learn about Joseph, spend a chunk of time on his story, then you learn about Daniel, then you learn about Jesus up through his first year of ministry, then it is back to Adam, Noah, and Job, then jumping forward to Joshua, and ending with learning about Jesus' last week.  That would be basically a schoolyear.

I loved that we weren't focused only on the Old Testament, or only on the Gospels.  We moved around, and constantly had timeline activities to keep a bit of perspective going as far as how this all fit together.  But we never went beyond that first unit, and I'm not entirely sure why.  Probably had something to do with all the new materials and how I couldn't decide what was best for us.

So, now I had the chance to try something out with Richard and Trina.  There are multiple levels with the worksheets, and you can have kids learning the same basic stuff, but doing it at their own level.  The choices:
  • Beginner -- for ages 3-grade K.  Or, you can use this with 1st-2nd graders who aren't reading well (if you are doing it with multiple kids)
  • Primary -- for 1st-2nd graders.  This doesn't coordinate with the other levels, so if you are teaching only kids in the 1st-2nd grade age range, this is good.  Since I wanted to have my 2nd grader *and* my 4th grader work together, I really couldn't go for this level
  • Intermediate -- for 3rd-4th graders.  This is what I opted for, with both kids.
  • Advanced -- for 5th-6th graders.
What I didn't like about Bible Study Guide for All Ages back when I was using it with my older kids was that I was constantly flipping through pages and I always felt fairly unsure about just what I was supposed to be doing.  But the information was good, and I loved the concept.

With these student pages?  I am completely loving it.

How does it work?

Basically, the kids pull out the next worksheet.  I pull out a Bible.  And we have the CD available (the CD is considered "helpful" for this age) if we need it.  Everything I need to know is laid out on the front and back of a legal-sized piece of paper.  Let's walk through Lesson 5:

Remember It:  The kids have four statements, and they need to match up who is being talked about.  For instance:  "I forgot to tell Pharaoh about Joseph."  The kids got each of these answers quickly.

Memory Workout: we review the Bible Book Summary Card for the book of Genesis.  I adore these cards.  More on that later.  They sing the song, "Twelve Sons of Jacob."  We listened to this song in lesson 1, and by the time we got the Lesson 5, Richard pretty much had the names down.  Trina tripped over them a bit.  I love the CD.  We'd never get it down otherwise. They also are given four names (Abraham, Jesus, Jacob, and Joseph) and are to put them in chronological order.  That led to an interesting discussion, as Richard insisted that Jesus was before Abraham, *and* after Joseph too.  But the question actually said "in the order they lived on earth" so he finally accepted that Jesus was not first.

Guess What: The next little section isn't in all the lessons, but it gives some trivia-types of information, or background stuff.  In this case, it is about dreams and visions.

Then the little graphic shows me that we are to flip the page over to do the "Discover the Bible" part.  This is the entire back side of the sheet.  There are instructions in one column, and kind of comic-book looking sections for the majority of the page.  Each section has the specific Bible verses.  I read the verses to the kids, then we follow the instructions.  So, after reading Genesis 41:15-16, for instance, the kid are to cross out the incorrect word (in the bubble, where Joseph is saying "I _can_cannot_ do it" in response to Pharaoh asking him to interpret his dreams.  The kids are also to circle who Joseph said could interpret the dreams (the choices are you, I, God, Daniel, wise men).

This section is the bulk of the lesson.

We flip back to the front, and on this lesson, we complete some timeline activities.  Mostly putting in this year, and talking again about BC vs AD and what they mean.  We also have Adam, Eve, and Noah on the timeline, followed by Abraham, Isaac and Joseph.  The kids draw a cow on the timeline to show when Pharaoh was having these dreams.  I love the timeline activities.  I love that now is always there.

Some lessons have mapping activities instead of timeline ones. Like in Lesson 6, where they kids drew grain inside the only nation that was ready for the famine, and they also worked on identifying various water bodies (Mediterranean Sea, Nile River, Dead Sea, Red Sea).  I've already learned a bit from the mapping activities.

The next section is "Get Active" and it is one that we don't always do.  The suggestion for this lesson had to do with shortcomings and sharing those.  We didn't do the writing, but we did talk about it.

The final section is "Apply It" and it usually involves re-reading one of the verses from the lesson (Genesis 41:9 in this case) and then there is some sort of beginning of a story... and the kids are to finish the story.  There are other questions ("what did the cupbearer do when he realized what he had done wrong?") and then some 'how does this apply to you' ones.  Prayer is always the very last thing in this section.

What do we think?

This is so easy to implement, the kids are learning a lot, and they think it is fun.  It doesn't take long either, which is always a big plus.

This would take even less time if both of the kids were actually reading well, as some of this they could do on their own.  But even with me working with them fairly actively, it is only taking around 20 minutes to do a lesson.  We are doing two lessons a week, which would mean getting through all of Unit 1 (104 lessons) in a full year.  We are thinking about picking that pace up a bit here and going for something more like three lessons per week. 

This is the card for Exodus
The Bible Book Summary Cards are a fantastic resource. Wow.  You can view samples at the website.  But basically, there is a nice, colorful set of illustration on the front of the card, and on the back, there is text to read to tell the student what the book is about.  There are also a series of questions that you can ask your student, and those cover some of the pertinent information about the book.  For instance, the Genesis card (which is all we've used so far) has the kids talking about beginnings, and that the book is mostly about Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  It has them list off the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It has them talking about how Joseph ended up in Egypt, and how the rest of his family got there too.

Love these cards.

Another thing I really like is that we can move up to the Advanced pages at whatever point we decide to do that, and not lose our place in their scope & sequence.  We'll just be doing the same stuff, only at a higher level.  And I can have Richard move on to the 5th-6th grade pages while Trina sticks with the 3rd-4th grade ones, as both kids would be doing roughly the same thing.  However, I suspect for us that we will have them move together.

Another big plus is the cost. Each set of student pages contains 26 lessons and is available for $5.95.  That means that an entire year (4 sets) is just under $24.  The Bible Book Summary Cards are $24.95, but those would last you through all 416 lessons (which is 4 years of lessons!).  The Children's Song CD Set is a 2-CD set for $19.95.  But it really isn't necessary for this age.  Of course, you can purchase all of this as a starter set for $63.20, which saves you $5.50.  Future years would just cost the roughly $24 per student for the student pages.

Definitely go check out other reviews of this and other levels of Bible Study Guide for All Ages!  Good stuff.


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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: August 10

I am going to be B-U-S-Y this week.

I got two baskets this morning, plus a 25 pound box of Hatch Chilies, plus a 25 pound (or so) box of apples.  Lots of produce came through the door.

Here is a photo of one of the baskets:

Included in BOTH baskets was:
  • 4 bunches of "artisan" lettuce
  • 3 big yellow onions
  • 6 organic tomatoes
  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 3 personal size watermelons
  • 2 pineapples
  • 3 boxes blueberries
  • 6 pears
  • 9 nectarines
  • 13 yellow plums
Plans for this stuff?
  • Lettuce, onions, and tomatoes just get used with no plans necessary
  • Fruit just gets eaten, with no plans necessary
  • Except I think I'll use one of the big blueberry boxes in muffins
  • Cucumbers, well, those are always a challenge here.  Nobody loves cucumbers.  I don't even know what to try next.
The big job of the week is going to be dealing with all the Hatch chilies.  I'm going to be making at least three different types of green chili sauce, and hopefully Dale will love one of them.  At that point, I'll make a LOT of it to can.

I'm also going to be making some salsa (those tomatoes need to be used sooner rather than later).

And I'm going to go searching for some recipes to do stuffed peppers or something...

Maybe later this week I'll post some results.  And depending on how the weekend goes, I might be getting more Hatch chilies next week, as rumor is that they'll be back.

The big ol' box of apples?  That is easy.  Those will be eaten.  I *might* slice up a few for pie or apple crisp or something.  In a few weeks, I might turn what's left into applesauce.  Mostly, though, these will be eaten fresh.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Legacy Documentaries ~Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura

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The Schoolhouse Review Crew has just had the opportunity to review a couple of fabulous documentary videos about two well-loved figures in children's literature.  I started reading the entire Little House series when I was six, and probably read them all a couple dozen times by the time I was out of elementary school.

That means, of course, that I was quite interested in these Legacy Documentaries videos.  Half of the Crew reviewed Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I'm going to be talking about the other one though, Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura.

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This documentary is a bit less than an hour in total, and there is a great combination of excerpts from Farmer Boy, original photos, and re-enactments that were filmed at the Wilder Homestead.

For those of you who were fans of the Little House on the Prairie television series (I watched the first couple years... before Almanzo), one of the key figures in the production of this DVD is Dean Butler, who played Almanzo in the series and has remained very involved in his story.

You can check out a promo clip here:

This documentary, available for $21.95, is appropriate for any age, but kids who aren't old enough to already be interested in the Little House books probably won't be interested.

My teen boys enjoyed all the little tidbits that were shared throughout the documentary.  From a film-making perspective, they were fascinated by how they had the boy doing the re-creating scenes part of things, with the narrator still talking over it, as opposed to having the kid act it out more fully.  So it just felt more "documentary-ish" instead of like watching a movie.

One son loved the parts with the horse (and I would agree with him on that).

I plan to pull this video out when my kids are studying the mid-1800s in America, so we can put some things in historical context, but I'm sure we will watch it more than just then.

Definitely go check out other reviews of both this and the Laura Documentary!  Good stuff.


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Curriculum Plans for 2013-14

How in the world did it get to be time for me to be planning out such high grades?  My kids are going to be in 11th, 9th, 7th, 4th and 2nd grades this year, and I just can't believe that.

It's true though.  And I need to have a plan.  So, subject to change, here is what I have planned for school for this year.  I'm only linking something the first time it is mentioned.

Connor, 11th grade:
William, 9th grade:
Thomas, 7th grade:
  • English: Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings; Logic of English.
  • Math: Math U See Zeta, and then Probably VideoText Algebra, at a slower pace than William
  • History: Sonlight's world history (combination of Cores G & H)
  • Science: He'll be taking a Marine Biology course through Bridgeway/Learning Lab to start the year, then doing Apologia General Science
  • Foreign Language: Visual Latin
  • Tech: The Computer Science Course through
  • Philosophy Adventure & A Child's Geography Volume III
  • Artistic Pursuits
Richard, 4th grade:
Katrina, 2nd grade:
  • English: Logic of English.  Lit from Reading Roadmaps and/or  Reading Kingdom
  • Math: Math U See Beta
  • History: Sonlight's world history (combination of Cores B & C).  Very loosely.  Maybe.
  • Science: Apologia's Astronomy with Supercharged Science; probably something else around February
  • Foreign Language: Flip Flop Spanish
  • A Child's Geography Volume III
  • Artistic Pursuits
Looks fun, huh?

I'm looking this all over and thinking I must be insane.  Much of this, though, either I'm doing with multiple kids, and/or they are able to do it without me.  Good thing, too, as I know I can't teach calculus.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Philosophy Adventure

Disclosure: many of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you purchase any Home School Adventure Co. products through these links, I earn affiliate income.  Do not feel obligated to do that.  Regardless of the affiliate relationship, I only give the opinion of myself and my kids here.  

 A couple of months go, I did a giveaway for a great new program called Philosophy Adventure, put out by Home School Adventure Co.  At that point, I promised a review in early August.

Well, it is time.  Or past time.  I really should have been posting this a week ago.
The full name of the program we've been using is Philosophy Adventure - Pre-Socratics.  It is intended for students in 6th-12th grades, so I've been using it with my big boys, 11th, 9th and 7th grades.  Pretty much covers the recommended age range, huh?

The program itself comes with a Reader (the main text), a Student Workbook (which contains journal pages, among other things), and Teacher Resources (which contain answers, timelines, flashcards, etc.)  There are optional resources too, that can be added in.  One is for Bible Memory work (Philippians in 28 Weeks) and the other is for literature (The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions).  We did use all three of these "programs" together, but this review will focus on the Philosophy Adventure part of things.

Another resource we used, which helped me to bring in my little two (4th and 2nd grades) is from Knowledge Quest.  A Child's Geography, Volume 3: Explore the Classical World.  This book is intended for 1st to 6th graders, but I find it is also great for my 7th grader, so all three of the younger ones are using it.  

This program is flexible -- do you want to spend a couple of months going through philosophy?  Do a philosopher per week, and you can complete the materials in two months.  Work on a philosopher over two weeks for a one-semester program.  Or spend all year, covering a new philosopher every month.  Depending on how in-depth you get and how much time you spend, you could assign the following suggested high school credits:
  • English Composition - 1/4 to 1/2 credit
  • World History/Geography - 1/4 to 1/2 credit
  • Speech/Communication - 1/4 to 1/2 credit
  • Logic/Critical Thinking - 1/4 to 1/2 credit
We tried a couple different things, and we've settled on the "Philosopher of the Month" idea.

What that looks like in our house:

Week 1: read about the philosopher aloud from the reader.  The high schoolers do vocabulary cards of the bolded words in the text. The kids fill out the Philosopher's Notebook Page, do the timeline work, do the mapping work, and do a week of Philippians in 28 weeks.  I also do the reading for a chapter of A Child's Geography. And honestly, my big guys are listening in on that too.

Week 2: Do the "Write" activities, and work on the memory cards, and review the timeline.  Do another week of Philippians.  Do a chapter of The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions.  Finish the Child's Geography chapter by doing activities.

Week 3: Do the "Think" activities, continue to work on memory cards, and review the mapwork.  Do another week of Philippians.  Read the next Child's Geography chapter.

Week 4: Do the "Speak" activities, continue to work on memory cards, and go back over the reading for that philosopher.  Do another week of Philippians.  Do the next chapter of The Wise Woman.  Do activities for the Child's Geography chapter.

Week 5: (okay, so we're doing it over more than a month) Wrap it up - do the creative writing assignment, take any quizzes or tests, go over the Biblical Worldview section of the reader again, and do a quick preview of "the next guy" that we'll be studying (specifically, the little tagline and quote). Do another week of Philippians.  Do some review of the two chapters of Child's Geography.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

What that means for August:

Week one: Read about Xenophanes.  Be very grateful that Stacy puts phonetic pronunciation stuff in the text so I don't have to go look it up.  Reading the text aloud usually takes us about a half hour, maybe a bit more.  (It is way too interesting for me to be watching the clock as I read!)  We create vocabulary cards for words like hexameter, anthropomorphic, cosmogony, etc.

The kids fill out the Notebook Journal Page, which asks questions like "Name three natural phenomena about which Xenophanes wrote." and "What is one possible reason Aristotle disregarded Xenophanes' work as a natural scientist?"

They do the mapwork, which involved labeling bodies of water (Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Agean Sea, etc.) and labeling some locations (such as Colophon and Sicily) and listing why they are important in regards to Xenophanes.

They add some things to the timeline they are creating on the iPad.

We work on Philippians in 28 weeks, which had them memorizing Philippians 1:7-11, and reflecting on being imprisoned for their faith, among other things.

We start chapter 2 of Child's Geography, reading and doing narration questions for the chapter Greece, Pt. 2: In The Beginning.  This chapter covers all kinds of fun things in thirteen pages.

Week 2:  Together, we read the "Write" section aloud, and the kids absolutely love this assignment:  to write a terrible first draft for a speech.  This is a concept I've tried to get them to understand, and Stacy did it well.  The first draft is about getting ideas DOWN on paper, not about having a beautiful, polished result.  That's what editing is for.  There are a few pages of "planning" for them to write in.  I should mention that my high school boys get a printout and they write things out on paper.  The 7th grader uses the "type it in" feature, types up his responses, and prints that out.  The kids also work on the memory cards, which are really easy to print two-sided.

They do the next week of Philippians, similar to week 1.

They do chapter 3 of The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions. This involves me reading chapter 3 aloud (text is included), and then we discuss the 24 questions throughout the week.  The questions are great... things like "How does MacDonald use anthropomorphism/personification at the start of chapter 3?" and "Have you found your attitude plays a significant role in determining the strength of your problem-solving skills? Explain your answer."   Really, how amazing is it that we happened to do the anthropomorphism thing THIS week, after learning the word last week?  It isn't like I was told that there was any sort of correlation to try to match.

For Child's Geography, we do a bunch of activities and mapping and timelines and cooking and...

Week 3:  Together, we read the "Think" section aloud, and the kids get going on the assignment.  Connor will love this one, as it is dealing with "How can we know what we know?" He loves thinking about truth and whether it really exists.  The assignment is to answer three questions, and Connor will write about them.  William, Thomas and I will discuss them a little, then William will write.  Thomas will just talk to me some more.

We also review the map assignments (including re-reading the map page of the reader), and memory cards.  Another week of Philippians.  Start Chapter 3 of Child's Geography.

Week 4:  Together, we read the "Speak" section aloud, and the kids will do the assignment.  This assignment is pretty easy, actually, as they will be reciting part of the Philippians memory work to an audience (other works can be substituted).  We re-read the philosopher section of the Reader (up to he map page).

The extra stuff happens again -- the next week of Philippians, the next chapter of The Wise Woman, and the activities for the current Child's Geography chapter.

Week 5: This is our wrap-up week.  As a group, we re-read the last couple pages for Xenophanes (Xenophanes & the Eleatics, Direct from the Source, Biblical Worldview).  We go over the Creativity assignment, which has them describing a scene and telling what happens -- in 15 minutes of writing.  Again, I send Connor off to just do it, but William and Thomas do some brainstorming with me first.

The high school students take the quiz.  William gets to choose whether to write out his answers or to do it orally (he's my severely dyslexic one).

And then we do a little teaser about the next philosopher.  Heraclitus is "The Weeping Philosopher, The Obscure, The Dark" and said, "You cannot step in the same river twice."  We run through the little sidebar, learning that he lived from 535 to 475 BC, and his contemporaries included Daniel, Buddha, Confucius, Esther, and the last two philosophers we studied.

We also do another week of Philippians, and we do some review of the most recent Child's Geography chapters, particularly including some of the activities we didn't have time for before.

What do we think?

This is fun.  We started with a two weeks per philosopher pace, and we did not like that.  But at this pacing, we are able to still do other schoolwork, and enjoy our time learning the amazing content included in the text.  Even my writing-phobic kids are able to do the writing assignments, as this is not rushing them too much. 

The kids love that the book is addressing things like "According to a popular survey, many people claim they fear public speaking more than death."  They appreciate that this isn't telling them to just buck up and do it.  The book acknowledges that speaking can be scary, and eases you into it.

It just has a gentle approach in general.  My 11th grader seems to think that this is "too easy" to be high school level, yet he acknowledges that he is learning a lot.  I think that is a ringing endorsement... because to me, philosophy has always been this big, scary thing that you have to be really smart to "do" or to understand.  Philosophy Adventure: Pre-Socratics allows even my 12 year old to "do" philosophy and to really learn something.

My only complaint about the program is that there isn't a Volume 2.  Maybe someday.

Oh, and if I were to be purchasing this, I would want one of the mixed-packages -- including the reader as a physical book, and a CD that contains digital teacher and student books, which costs $69.95.  In the end, I would undoubtedly decide to go for the download version though, which is only $39.95.  That is the package that my review is based on.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Merit Badge Monday: Pioneering

This past weekend, all three of my Boy Scouts went and spent the day on Saturday getting soaking wet, and working on their Pioneering Merit Badge.

Some merit badges are fairly academic.  Some are active.  Some are very useful.  Some are just a bit of an experiment.

And some just scream "BOY!!" really, really loudly.

Pioneering fits into that category.  Ropes.  Knots.  Lashing stuff together to make things.  How much better does it get than that?

The downside of having friends drive them there and pick them up is that I didn't get to take photos of the bridge they built as a group.  In the rain.  It was interesting to hear about the bridge though.  Coordinating three groups to get the parts built, and then pulling it all together.  And what they could improve next time -- like figuring out how to make it so you could get more traction to make it easier to get up it.

In addition to the big project that the 16 boys worked on together, there are all kinds of other requirements.  Like making rope.  And splicing rope together in different ways.  Doesn't get much better than that, or so I'm told.

On the left is Thomas showing me where he spliced the rope.

Down below is him holding the rope a bit more taut, so it is harder to see the splice.

This isn't a badge I would have wanted to earn.  Good thing I'm not the Boy Scout.  Oh, and yes, all three earned the badge. 

I'm providing a linky for August, so if you are blogging about any sort of scouting, feel free to link up...  next week, I think I'll be posting some American Heritage Girls stuff.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Food processing -- my to do list for this week

I've concluded that if I don't post something somewhere about the things I need to do in the kitchen this week, they are quite simply NOT going to happen.

So, if you are reading my blog, you get to hear my plans. And maybe make a suggestion or two.

See, as part of my effort to keep things real, I'm going to confess something.  I just threw out a whole bunch of yucky produce.  Because I haven't been keeping on top of things.  That included such amazing things as:
  • two heads of leaf lettuce that were nearly unrecognizable
  • a very little bit of red cabbage
  • two bunches of celery.  I probably could have salvaged a bunch of that, but I decided not to try.  Sometimes it is just better to let it go.
  • About a half-dozen chili peppers that I don't even remember getting.
  • 1 very mushy kiwi
  • 1 beyond "over-ripe" banana
  • 2 red bell peppers
I know better.

This week, I'm going to make a huge effort to get some things used up, stored, and out of the refrigerator.  That means I need to can:
  • salsa.  This will be limited by the tomatoes I have.  
  • I might just try a batch of tomatillo salsa too.
  • A batch of hot pickled veggies.
  • I'm going to try canning chili peppers (get the feeling I have a LOT of chili peppers around, don't you?)
  • Nectarines.
And freeze:
  • At least a gallon ziplock of diced/sauteed carrots/celery/onion.  If I keep going until I run out of celery, I'll probably be down to a manageable level of onions and carrots.
  • And probably freeze some sweet potatoes too.  I need to look into how to do that.
  • Dicing, partially cooking, and freezing potatoes is needed.
  • I'm giving serious thought to freezing some melon for future smoothies.
Basically, if I can something and freeze something every day this week, I'll be through my list...

Someone holler at me if I'm not talking about how I've actually accomplished some of this.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: August 3

Oh, wow.  These early mornings might kill me yet.

But I always have so much fun at Bountiful Baskets, and we always get so much great stuff.  I think I'll continue to contribute for a basket...

This week, I got two baskets, plus the Mexican veggie pack.  Here is a photo of ONE basket:

All together, in the two baskets, I got:
  • 2 heads Living Lettuce 
  • 2 bunches celery
  • 5 one-pound bags of carrots
  • 5 huge yellow onions
  • 6 gorgeous green peppers
  • 2 bunches mustard greens
  • 10 organic tomatoes on the vine
  • 16 nectarines
  • 3 Tuscan melons
  • 19 bananas, most of them being quite big
It was a heavy, heavy two baskets this time around.

What will we do with this haul?
  • Fruit will all be eaten.  
  • Except I think I'll can the nectarines, but we'll see.
  • Lettuce, celery, carrots, onions, green peppers and tomatoes are generally just staples that simply get used.  No planning necessary.
  • Mustard greens?  I have no clue.  People keep telling me I can saute 'em up and serve them like spinach.  Ewww.  I don't serve spinach that way as I think it is disgusting.  So I don't have any idea at all.
  • In reality, the tomatoes and at least some green peppers are going to combine with my Mexican pack to become salsa.  
  • And (another in reality confession) since I have so much celery and carrots, I'll be chopping up those and onions, in equal amounts, sauteing in olive oil, and freezing.  I add this to all kinds of stuff... spaghetti sauce, casseroles, crockpot dishes, anything I think of...

My Mexican pack was so very pretty:

It includes:
  • one enormous avocado
  • one garlic bulb
  • two huge yellow onions
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 big mild peppers
  • 4 jalepeno peppers
  • 5 tomatillos
  • 5 cayenne peppers
  • 10 itty bitty limes
 The Mexican pack is mostly going towards salsa and guacamole.