Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lego Creation Thursday - March 31

 It's Lego Creation Thursday hosted by Michelle of My Blessings From Above .

This week my boys were trying to incorporate Legos and Zoobs....after many hours of trying, they have concluded that two don't mix and decided to have Lego Zurg dual with T-Rex Zoob!

I don't know how they determined the victor --- but, I've been informed that Zurg won!

Lego Zurg dual with T-Rex Zoob

Lego Zurg dual with T-Rex Zoob
Lego Zurg dual with T-Rex Zoob
Lego Zurg dual with T-Rex Zoob

Weekly Wrap Up - Almost To The Renaissance (Tower of Roses, Mogul Empire)

War of the Roses
War of the Roses
Schooling continues as:

The War of the Roses had us trying our hand at our own "Princes in the Tower"
Princes in the Tower
Princes in the Tower

and our own Princess made a Tower of London pop-up drawing.

Tower of London
Tower of London

We spent the rest of the week chugging away on what was happening in the rest of the world about the time the Black Plague was decimating Europe.

We visited the Western African Kingdoms .....  specifically Ghana

Looked at India under the Mogul Empire.  Ate some Indian Dal (lentil/rice dish that tastes better than it looks)

Indian Dahl
Indian Dahl

And now as we continue on closer to the Renaissance we are enthralled with this book:

Ink on His Fingers
Ink on His Fingers

Next week:  The Renaissance begins!

Guest Post: Homeschooling High School - Are you Crazy?

t Homeschooling High School - Are You Crazy?

How long do you plan to homeschool?

Check out Homeschooling High School - Are You Crazy?  from Colleen's Quest .

Another thought provoking / inspirational post from a fellow Homeschool Mom.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Evan Moor Daily Geography Practice at Timberdoodle!

Daily Geography Practice by Evan Moor is a teacher/parent lead curriculum that is correlated to state standards.  Included within each of the 36 lessons is a teacher resource page, vocabulary, reproducible map, map transparencies for each lesson, two geography questions per day, a challenge question for the week and an answer key. 

The teacher resource page introduces the new geography skill.  It is useful for guiding the teacher/parent in instructing the student and helping to expand on the topic as necessary.  This is what separates it from other geography workbooks.  This is a whole curriculum. 

I had the opportunity to review 2nd, 4th and 6+ grades with my children.  We found that the pages were nicely illustrated, clearly labeled and easy to understand.  My youngest kinestetic learner enjoyed using the transparencies that accompanied each lesson with a dry erase marker as it gave her something to keep her hands busy while I was instructing her.  This also aided in giving her a better understanding of the topic.

We aren't accustomed to studying Geography everyday.  Evan Moor suggests doing smaller chunks of it everyday in order to obtain a greater retention of facts.

The content material of these books is comparable with other geography books we've used in the past per each grade level reviewed.

These books can be found at Timberdoodle and are featured in their Complete Homeschool Curriculum Packages .

Daily Geography Grade 2
Daily Geography Grade 2
Daily Geography Grade 2
Topics include:
What is a globe?
Using a map
Land & Water Maps
Using an area map
Resource Maps

Daily Geography Grade 2

My 2nd grader loves using the transparencies with dry erase markers for extra Geography practice.

See, Geography IS fun!
Daily Geography Grade 4

Daily Geography Grade 4
Topics include:
Parts of a map
Latitude and Longitude
Road maps
Physical maps (regions, states, countries)
Cultural maps
Historical maps

Daily Geography Grade 4
My 4th grader working diligently on his Geography.

Daily Geography Grade 6
Daily Geography Grade 6+
Topics include:
Parallels and Meridians
Map projections
Physical maps
Population maps
Cultural maps
Time zones
Historical maps
City plans
Mountain ranges
Climate maps

My 7th grader LOVES the historical maps!

Curious about Timberdoodle?  Click HERE to get a free copy of their latest catalog.

Legal Disclosure:
As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received free copies of these books in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Goal Planning Monday-March 28

Goal Planning Monday
It's time for Goal Planning Monday hosted by Katrina of Mama Manuscripts.

It's been another crazy week here at 'The Circus'.  I've come to the realization once again that I'm not supermom and had to humbly withdraw from a Christian Blog Crawl I was a participant in.

Participating in this meme has been wonderful in holding me accountable!  Before I post my goals for next week, I'll going to review last week:

Well....I did start indexing our Ancient History books, I finished my review of Brill Kids-Aesop's Fables
and ARTistic Pursuits , read through the other goal participants as well.  I did horribly on excercise and rising early.

This week:

1) Wake up before the rest of "The Circus' to have my quiet time.

2)  Get on the treadmill 3 times.

3)  Continue organizing our gazillion books and index of them.

4)  Finish review of Evan Moor Geography and Zeezok and continue working on other review items. 

6) Read through all the Goal Planning Monday entrants.

7) Begin formation of next school years' schedule complete with scheduled Sabbath Weeks.  We are already registered at co-op with everyone getting their first choices (yea!)

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - March 25

Homeschool Mother's Journal
Homeschool Mother's Journal

I'm jumping on The Homeschool Mother's Journal meme hosted by Sue of the Homeschool Chick.

In my life this week…

The Nip Napper (aka The Toddler) has given me quite a run for my money.  Highlights include:  biting an avocado and taking the insides and smearing them on the cabinets...... getting a stick of butter from the frig, opening it, biting it and then rubbing it in his hair..... the list just goes on and on!

In our homeschool this week…
The last session of our 8-week co-op.  We will all miss the fun fellowship and learning until next September.  My daughter had her first 'recital' and did beautifully!!!

We are still working away on week 9 of our Tapestry of Grace curriculum and are almost done with the Middle Ages.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

For the first time in a long time we made an early morning field trip to see a Civil War reenactment.  It was a great time hearing the stories and hanging out with some of our bestest homeschool buddies!

My favorite thing this week was…

Watching my daughter blossom into a 'ballerina' and actually enjoying a field trip all together with no meltdowns!

What’s working/not working for us…

Having my family so far away is really weighing on me.  I miss hanging out with them!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

As we finish up our 2010-2011 school year, I am working on trying to schedule regular 'Sabbath Weeks' into the our 2011-2012 school year. 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Battle of Narcoossee Mill
This is one of the actors from the Battle of Narcoossee Mill.  He was a Civil War 'doctor' and was quite a character!!!  

To see what's happening in other corners of the homeschool world, click here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TOS Crew ARTistic Pursuits Review!

Artistic Pursuits Book 3
Artistic Pursuits
ARTistic Pursuits
Modern Painting and Sculpture (Book 3)
Grades: K-3

I have been challenged in the area of Art with my 7 year old daughter.  She is artistic, I am not.  She seems to create out of thin air - I need a pre-made kit.

As I posted yesterday regarding this topic, you can understand my frustration at not being able to guide her in this area of talent.

When I got ARTistic Pursuits, I was VERY excited until I saw the price.  $42.95!  Wow, that's a lot of money!!!  Would I really pay that much for an elective for my young daughter?  Please read on...

From their website:

The ARTistic Pursuits approach to teaching art is a welcome departure from typical art instruction books. This award winning homeschool art program meets the specific needs of homeschoolers at home. A variety of fun art lessons teach both the expressive and technical aspects of art while allowing children to make choices about what and how they will draw, paint, and sculpt.

  • Preschool children enjoy kids art activities that encourage exploration of art materials and their world.
  • Kindergarten and Elementary art instruction combines art history with hands-on art projects.
  • Middle School and High School art students learn about artists, art history, and art techniques in both drawing instruction and painting instruction.

Books at the K-3 level introduce children to the visual arts and view art through history. Colorful illustrations, art appreciation, and projects designed for young hands and minds delight students and appeal to their interests. Non-consumable. One set serves your entire family!

*Written to the student - NO teacher preparation is needed

*Complete art history - Examining works of the Great Masters

*32 projects in each book include drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, and more!

*Easy organized system for handling materials

*Sharp color images printed on bright heavy-weight paper, soft bound

We had the pleasure of reviewing Modern Painting and Sculpture.

From their website regarding this specific book:
This book is sure to delight children as they explore ideas of modern art with all its varied techniques. Focus is given to artworks that influenced our culture and to artists who shared positive, creative messages in their art, making this a perfect introduction to modern art for young children. Those that love to get their hands into things will love the emphasis on sculpture as and art form. Traditional methods of sculpting are introduced as children model, carve, and construct, as well as working with new inventions of the 20th century: assemblages, mobiles, land art, and computer art.

This curriculum is organized differently from other art books.  I absolutely love that it is chronological.  I like to study history in a neat fashion and ARTistic Pursuits makes it so easy to tuck these lessons into our timeline giving art extra meaning.

How's the actual program? Outside of having the materials present to do the lesson, there's no prep work.  Each lesson has an explanation or background information section for you to read aloud with your child.  (Below is Lesson 5 Pissarro Paints Bright Colors from the book as an example.  Our art work from this lesson follows after the review)


Next a detailed explanation of the technique and the assignment.  Another thing I love -- they show a picture of the project as done by an experienced artist and then a picture as created by an elementary student.  YES!  Just what we BOTH need to see!

Stamp with dabs and dashes
Stamp with dabs and dashes

I am so thoroughly pleased with ARTistic Pursuits that I would GLADLY shell out the money for the rest of the elementary series, plus venture into the upper elementary level for my 4th grader.  The only thing I would change is that it would be very helpful to have a break down of materials needed per week at the beginning of the book.  This way, for those of us on a tight budget, it would make it easier to see what is absolutely necessary to purchase ahead of time.

This was an absolute pleasure to review.  Please check out more of this curriculum here.  They do a wonderful job of showing Lessons 10 and 19 in their entirety.

Below are projects from Homeschool Circus Lessons 1-5:

Lesson 1 - Impressionist Painting and Sculpture (You Paint with Gouache!)

A Portrait of Mommy
A Portrait of Mommy

Lesson 2 - Paris - City of Change (You Make Color Wheel)

Color Wheel
After seeing how much fun his sister was having, my 4th grader wanted to get in on the adventure! (Color Wheel)

Lesson 3 - Monet Studies Light (You Make a Series of Paintings!)

Monet Studies Light
Painting a tree was a bit tricky for my daughter.  Shown are Winter and Summer. (Monet)
Lesson 4 - Renior Paints Beautiful People (You Blend to Make Soft Edges!)

Renior Paints Beautiful People
Learning how to draw and shade with pastels.  A good challenge for my daughter.  After a second try, she opted not to color in the grass and sky.  Using the smooth side of watercolor paper works better than printer paper ;-) (Renoir)

Lesson 5 - Pissarro Paints Bright Colors (You Stamp Dabs and Dashes!)

Fall - My 2nd grader (Pissarro)
Fall - My 2nd grader (Pissarro)

Fall - My 4th grader (Pissarro)
Fall - My 4th grader (Pissarro)

We are all looking forward to future lessons using ARTistic Pursuits!

Here's what other crew members are saying

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's an Analytical, Artistically Challenged Mom to do with a Creative Kid?

I have a wonderfully creative 7 year old daughter who definitely sees the world differently....

Vibrant horse painting
Vibrant horse painting
Who knew horses could be so vibrant?  This is a color by number kit with momma and baby horse.  Don't tell anyone, but, my daughter changed things up a bit    ;-)

Zebra stripped 'gun'
Zebra stripped 'gun'
A neighbor's dad cut this 'gun' from wood.  My daughter asked if she could paint it.  I said "sure" figuring she'd slap some brown or black paint on it.  I should have known she'd go for something original --- zebra stripes with a touch of hot pink for the trim!
Untitled creation made w/colored wood pieces and pipe cleaners.
Untitled creation made w/colored wood pieces and pipe cleaners.....

After my oldest spent days putting this wooden house together (with a whole slew of pieces and no instructions!) My daughter set to painting it.  Over a three day period we saw the multi-color development of quite a house that only she could image!!!!
Painted Wooden House
So what's an analytical, artistically challenged parent to do with such budding (or should I say bursting) creativity????

For one - I just let her go and let her create.  If she had her way, she'd do it around the clock.  She has a knack for finding creative uses for the most ordinary things.  I stock our craft cart with as many different 'craft/art' items as I can.


Two --- visit tomorrow as I share a review for an absolutely wonderful art curriculum that has blessed both my daughter and myself!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Goal Planning Monday - March 21

Goal Planning Monday

It's been another crazy week here at 'The Circus'.  One things is for sure, life with a toddler is never boring.  My house is constantly being arranged and where things turn up is certainly a surprise!

It's time for Goal Planning Monday hosted by Katrina of Mama Manuscripts.

Participating in this meme has been wonderful in holding me accountable!  Before I post my goals for next week, I'll going to review last week:

I am down to a very small amount of caffeine and don't think I'll be drinking it tomorrow at all.  I've managed to get to bed earlier and get up earlier as well. Got to that Batik Project and finished my review of Who is God.  I believe I read through and commented on the other 'goal' participants.

This week:

1) Wake up before the rest of "The Circus' to have my quiet time.

2)  Get on the treadmill 3 times.

3)  Organize our gazillion books and start an index of them.

4) Continue to go to bed consistently by 10:30

5)  Finish review of Aesop's Fables, and Artisitic Pursuits and continue working on other review items. 

6) Read through all the Goal Planning Monday entrants.

7) Keep up with other Gals on the Christian Blog Crawl

TOS Crew Brill Kids Aesop's Fables Early Readers Review!

Brill Kids Aesop's Fables Early Readers
Brill Kids Aesop's Fables Early Readers

Brill Kids
Aesop's Fables Early Readers (5 books)
  • The Lion and the Mouse
  • The Fox and the Grapes
  • The Fox and the Crow
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • The Turtle and The Rabbit
3 months +
$37.50 (Regularly $50)

From the website:
Adapted from Aesop's popular children's fables, each story contains an important moral lesson gleaned from Aesop's wisdom!

Several features make these storybooks quite unlike a traditional children's storybook. Traditional storybook are great at helping parents tell a story, but much less so when it comes to teaching children to read.

When words and pictures compete for a child's attention on the same page, the pictures invariably win out. What's more, when parents point to words in traditional storybooks, they will often obscure the pictures - resulting in protests from the child.

I had the opportunity to review these with my 7 year old and 16 month old.

Using the 3 step approach:
1st: Read the text with your child while the flap covers the illustration on the next page.  
2nd:  Open the flap to reveal the illustration - explain the text with the help of the illustration and interact with your child as much as possible.   
3rd:  Turn to the next page while replacing the flap to cover the next illustration. 

My 7 year old read these books to her brother who enjoy the nicely illustrated pages and hearing his sister's voice.  These are a nicely done selection of Aesop's Fables, which include: The Lion and the Mouse, The Fox and the Grapes, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Turtle and the Rabbit and The Fox and the Crow.  One word of caution, these aren't make of heavy cardboard, so, you need to watch them with your little ones.

This collection of books also gives users of the Little Reader software special access to enjoy these books in digital format with the addition of multimedia effects and professional voice narration.

Because of the price, we most likely would not purchase this collection for our homeschool.

Here's what other crew members are saying

I received these books in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What happened to the Weekly Wrap-Ups???? (First Russians)

What has happened to The Circus' weekly wrap-ups? see...ah....there's this toddler....well....he's's know.....

Ok - there's this wonderfully bubbly toddler in my house that has turned into a total hurricane.  Chasing after him and his messes has left me too tired to do the boatload of creative hands-on projects I had planned.

A HUGE Tapestry of Grace binder that the Nip Napper helped to 'rearrange'..
A HUGE Tapestry of Grace binder that the Nip Napper helped to 'rearrange'....this is one of three!

Since our last wrap up, we ventured through the age of Samurai's unscathed and learned about the first Russians.

We did manage to do a few projects with beets.


First we made Borscht which is a kind of Russian stew.  Growing up, my father ate this frequently - so, I thought this would be a very special dish for the kids.  We served it with a dollop of sour cream and dill. 

Next up, we tried our hand at Batik.  Using the beet 'juice' as dye we first tried drawing on our white cloth with a white crayon.  It didn't turn out.  We tried melting a candle to use for our drawing and that didn't go over well.  Out of desperation, we used the hot glue gun - and it worked. 

After drawing a design,  the boys let their cloth soak in the beet juice for about 1/2 hour.

After wringing it out and letting it dry.  They peeled the glue off and....

Batik - small cross
Voila!  Small Cross
Batik - big cross
Voila!  Big Cross

Now on to the Black Death!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOS Crew Apologia - Who is God? Review!

Apologia - Who is God? Who is God?  And Can I Really Know Him
What We Believe Series
Apologia Press
Age 6-14

From their website:
Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?,  introduces the concept of a worldview while laying the foundational truths upon which the evangelical Christian worldview is built: God is truth and He reveals His truth to people; He is the one true and almighty God; He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; He created everything; we are God’s children and are made to love and to praise Him; God meets all our needs; sin keeps us from God; and Jesus is the only way to God.

There are 2 basic types of Bible Studies.  Those that concentrate specifically on the Word asking specific questions about scripture and has the user write 'em on the line.  Then there are those that are based on a scriptural theme and use illustrations and modern parables to bring the reader to a point of biblical understanding that is life applicable.

Who is God and Can I really Know Him is an example of the second type.

This 252 page book contains 10 lessons.  Included is a sample lesson plan which breaks each lesson into 3 days per week for 2 weeks increments.  It's very flexible and there's no prep work!

One thing I really like is that there are no worksheets involved.  There are "Make a Note of it" activities that are to be written down (i.e. journaled or notebooked).  You can download sheets from Apologia's website for use or use a regular notebook.  In some of our sessions, we did do these questions orally. Do whatever works best for your family.

There are also "Hide it in Your Heart" scripture verses to memorize that pertain to the subject of the chapter.  At the end of each chapter, there's a special visual exercise called "House of Truth".  This helps students remember what God says in the Bible about Himself, who you are and how God expects you to live.  The first Biblical Truth covered in the book is:  God always tells me what is right and true.  As new concepts are learned, the foundations, walls, and roof of the house are constructed.  In this book, the foundation and the first wall of the house will be completed. This 'house' can be used figuratively drawn in the student’s notebook.

We had mixed feelings about this study. Building block upon block, this is a good way to begin forming strength in biblical knowledge in your youngster's lives.  But, there were several references to The Lion Witch and Wardrobe series which conflict with our beliefs concerning this subject matter.

I have included several links to check out to see if this curriculum is a good fit for you family.
Sample Lesson
Table of Contents 

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Goal Planning Monday - March 14

Goal Planning Monday
It's time for Goal Planning Monday hosted by Katrina of Mama Manuscripts.

Participating in this meme has been wonderful in holding me accountable!  Before I post my goals for next week, I'll going to review last week:

Concentrating on the POSITIVES:  I did better on getting to bed early, finished my review of Reading Kingdom, How to Building a Winning Curriculum and Our Created Moon .  I also visited the other 'Goal Planning' participants and did the TOS Review Crew Blog Walk

Due to life happening, we didn't get to our weekend goals of trying our hand at making a Batik, 2 different Art Projects and 2 Science projects....but, we did get to Dinosaur World :-)  Sometimes flexible is the way to be!!!
This week:

1) Wean completely off caffeine (I'm almost there)
2)  Get up earlier.

3)  Continue with our Weekly Wrap ups and get to that Batik project.

4) Get to bed consistently by 10:30

5)  Finish review of Apologia and continue working on other review items. 

6) Read through all the Goal Planning Monday entrants.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Our Created Moon Book Review!

Our Created Moon
Our Created Moon

We already own many science books from Master Books which we utilize often.  So, when the opportunity came up to review Our Created Moon I was very excited to share this with my children and add it to our collection.

Revised and updated, Our Created Moon is written in question and answer format with interesting facts and engaging pictures and some hand-on moon activities as well.

At the beginning of each chapter, learning objectives and words to recognize are clearly written out.

Included in the book:  Moon phases, solar system facts, NASA missions, origin theories, purposes of the Moon (helped me to finally understand why Easter changes dates each year), the Moon in scripture, scriptural helps in upholding Creationism, specific features to observe in your own 'Moon watch', and the possibility of Moon colonization.

My kids enjoyed this informative, easy to grasp, well written guide to the Moon.  In addition, they had fun  calculating their weight on other planets and doing the flip pages where you can watch the phases of the moon at the bottom of the pages.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Building a Winning Curriculum. How to Use Vision Forum Products to Build a Winning Homeschool Curriculum Book Review!

Building a Winning Curriculum
Building a Winning Curriculum

It's mid-March and if you are like me you just wrote the date of your local curriculum share and homeschooling convention on your calendar.

Before you finish your list of "must haves" for your 2011-2012 school year, may I make a suggestion for a "must-have" resource?

Building a Winning Curriculum is a 198 page guide from Vision Forum which featured cd's, dvd's and books from their line up of biblically based, morally uplifting products that can serve your curriculum needs on their own or augment your current studies.

Building upon the ground work of the Bible, sections include (but are not limited to):  Setting the Vision for Home Education, Building Up of Manly Leadership, Nobility of Womanhood, Culture of Virtuous Boyhood and Girlhood, Development of History and Western Civilization, Science and Creationism and more!

I really like how each topical section is broken down into a definition of the product, subject(s) the product covers, encouragement, age appropriateness, special notes and how to 'weave' the product into your curriculum.

For example, a few weeks ago I reviewed the cd-set, "How the Scots Saved Christendom".  Using the guide, here's how you could use this product in your homeschool.  From Page 98-99:

After a definition of the item....

Format:  CD (12)
Resource for:  Age 10 to adult
Subjects:  World History, Language Arts, Architecture, Music , Theology

Ideas and Topics for Discussion and Composition
    What is the meaning of sovereign Grace?
    William Wallace:  Symbol of Freedom and Courage
     John Knox:  Battles to Fight (Ephesians 6:12)
     Iona:  Evangelist to America

Further Study
     Divine Right of Kings
     Five Articles of Perth
     David Livingston
     Samuel Rutherford
     James Ussher
     Robert Burns
     2nd Reformation 1638
     Bach:  Reformation Composer
     The Battle of Bothwell Bridge

Additional Vision Forum Resources
     Hunted and Harried (book), by R.M. Ballantyne
     How God Wants Us to Worship Him (book), by Dr. Joseph Morecraft III
     The Life and Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson (book), by Robert Lewis Dabney
     The life and Times of Archbishop James Ussher (book), by J.A. Carr
     Reformers & Revolutionaires (10 DVD's)

While I own various Vision Forum products, the guide introduced me to topics I know we as a family will be dealing with in the near future.  Such as:  entrepreneurship, work, "dating" and culture.  I also learned how to expand our Creationism studies with the Jonathan Parks cd series we already own.  AND got to know more about The Christian Adventure series written by R.M. Ballentyne.

For a very reasonable price of $10, this guide will prove to be invaluable in your homeschooling journey for this year and years to come!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lego Creation Thursday - March 10

It's Lego Creation Thursday hosted by Michelle of My Blessings from Above .

Michelle asked the question:  do my boys like to make things that have set directions (i.e. right out of the box) OR do they like to do their own thing.  The answer is both :-)

Due to time constraints, we just have pictures this week.  These were taken from our study on the Vikings.  The boys like to combine History with their Lego play as well.

In a twist of history, the Arab traders come TO the vikings.....
In a twist of history, the Arab traders come TO the vikings.....
Mini figures fit nicely into Viking warships!
Mini figures fit nicely into Viking warships!

Viking village complete with 'piggy' for dinner
Viking village complete with 'piggy' for dinner