Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Little Laughter


 Some days it is a challenge to work with the older kids when the little ones are around. On this particular day the older kids were doing map work at the table. I gave the two younger girls their own maps to color too. Well the 18mo.'s attention span did not last long. After about two minutes of coloring she started being goofy and making funny faces --which totally distracted the older kids. The more they laughed the cheesier she got. You can't tell she's the youngest of the family can you---lol! As distracting as it was, it was also a good memory. She made us all laugh. I sat at the table watching all my kids laughing and interacting and felt tremendously blessed.
Digital Layout by me, supplies used:
Urban Blitz by Jesse Edwards
Classic Crimped Neutrals by Katie Pertiet
Classic Cardstock Snow Fun by Katie Pertiet
Stitched by Anna Borders Bubblegum No. 1
Button Box Ribbons by Pattie KNox
Petit Jacques Kit by Lynn Grieveson

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter |Review

The Old Schoolhouse recently sent me WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter  unit to review. I thought this would be perfect for my 10yr. old son.

Cost: $8.95
Format: PDF file
Ages: K-4th - though I think that it would work best for ages 8 on up.

Here is some information about the unit from the site:
  • Discover the history of firefighters and the evolution of firefighting equipment.
  • Learn what other emergencies firefighters respond to.
  • Explore the ins and outs of a fire truck.
  • Pretend you are a building inspector and learn about building codes.
  • Meet a real-life fireman and hear him describe his job in his own words.
  • Fall in love with Wilshire, the firehouse dog, who teaches children about fire safety.
  • Examine the pay scale for firefighters across the country.
  • Learn about the relationship between firefighters and robots, and build your own robotic arm!

My 10yr. old son was able to work through this unit independently. I was impressed with the narrative. It was easy to read yet contained factual information in an interesting way. Since my son was doing this independently, I did create notebooking pages so that he could summarize each section in his own words. I was surprised that several times he came to me on his own and started chatting about certain firefighter facts. This is not normal for him. :)

While we did enjoy the main e-book, I found that we didn't use most of the activities. I would have appreciated some notebooking pages in lieu of crossword puzzles. We didn't use the copywork pages because he already has other copywork. Both my son and I were a little confused with the robotics section. While we understand the connection, it seemed like it was a bunny-trail in the middle of the unit (though bunny trails aren't necessarily bad). My son did think the information was cool and wanted to know if a robotics unit was available.

My thoughts: I think this unit would be a good fit for 3rd-5th graders who already have an interest in learning more about firefighting. The narrative portion is well-done and would be a nice side-study in careers. This series does not include a weekly lesson plan, so one would need to be created. While the unit is full of ideas, you would have to pull everything together. You could read most of the unit on the computer, but I've found that we work better with a hard-copy.

If firefighting is not your cup of tea, check out the other e-book units in the WannaBe -When I Grow Up Series:
  • Veterinarian,
  • Chef,
  • Military,
  • Doctor,
  • Police Officer,
  • Missionary,
  • Artist,
  • Pilot, and
  • Farmer

*Tristan, from Our Busy Homeschool left a comment regarding a supplemental booklist that works well with the fire fighter unit. I didn't want it to get overlooked in the comment section.
This unit was given to me for review purposes. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Scripture Songs

Over the past couple of years I've been trying to be more intentional at memorizing the Word along with my kids. I've found that for us, the easiest way is to sing a song.

Songs for Saplings: This is a wonderful cd for toddlers and preschoolers. The songs are up-beat and easy to memorize. I'm going to be using this with my 3yr. old and 1 1/2yr. old. Carisa over at Totally Tots has created printables to go along with each of the songs. Such a time-saver for me!

I have spent the last couple of days trying to find a song to use with our co-op. Usually I try to get the main song for the semester to go along with the verses we are memorizing. This sememster we will be studying and memorizing Romans 12: 9-18. So far I haven't come across any songs that fit, but I'm still looking (so if you know of any, please let me know!) I wish there was a resource where you could type the passage and it would link you up to all the songs and printables for that verse (not a project that I'll be spear-heading---just a wish ;) )

Anyway, while searching I came across the Seed Family Worship Collections. Oh these are awesome! I have all of them on my wish-list! Very up-beat, contemporary scripture songs.

Seeds of Courage
Seeds of Faith
Seeds of Praise
Seeds of Purpose
The Power of Encouragement

Another big plus is that on their website they have free printable memory verse cards and checklists to go along with each album.

Another favorite resource has been Scriptunes. Over the years my kids have been involved with Upward basketball and cheerleading. Each participant was given a Scripture-song CD. We loved listening to the songs! The only problem was that the only way to get the CD was if you were involved with Upward. Just recently though, Mike Blackwood has made Scriptunes available for purchase online! I was excited to find this information out since we are missing one of the CD's.

God Prints is another wonderful scripture song series. There are 3 different cd's: Totally Tangerine, Radical Raspberry, and Great Grape. I picked songs from the three and made my own compilation on Itunes.

Do you have any favorite Scripture songs? I'm always looking for more to add to our collection.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

I Heart Faces - Week 8

This week's theme at I Heart Faces is "Hands-On Fun".  This is an older photo of mine, but still one of my favorites. We had gone to visit a local nursing home with a group of kids. The kids handed out flowers and sang songs. We went to brighten the residents' day, but I think we were the ones who were encouraged the most.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Download N Go Unit Study Australia | Review


This past week we started our third Download N Go unit study by Amanda Bennett. Download N Go unit studies are one week themed units that have everything planned and ready to go for learning. We had already finished and blogged about Winter Wonders and Birthday Bonanza, and were excited to try out the Australia unit.

Ages: K-4th

Cost: $7.95 per unit, though there are package options available that reduce the price per unit. Since it is a downloadable product, each unit can be reprinted for other siblings to use, or to go back and do again.

Supplies Needed:
Paper, notebook, file-folders (or cardstock) and access to a computer.

Preparation: A weekend to print materials, set up the folder and gather books. Once that is done there is virtually no daily prep. needed.

The Australia unit has been our favorite unit so far. My 2nd grade daughter loves the subject matter and the different types of activities that are included. The unit is laid out so that the student can work through everything independently if they are able. It really is Download N Go! My daughter and I work on the unit together. We pull up the PDF file on our computer since Amanda Bennett links directly to the videos, websites and learning activities for the day (I love this feature!! Takes us directly to where we need to go). My daughter also has her notebook open to follow along with any reading and to complete the written portions. Usually there is a combination of videos, websites, notebooking/lapbooking activities, and read-alouds for each day.

Now that we've done a few, I have a certain set-up that I like to do for each unit. The nice thing is that you can use the unit as-is or tweak it to work for you. I have found that my daughter needs two weeks to complete a unit. This is because the unit is not her only curriculum and she also needs my help moving through things (though she is getting better at being able to do more of it independently).


First I print everything out. Then I use 5 color pockets and 10 divider tabs. I also 3-hole punch several sheets of cardstock and place them at the front of the folder. We adhere all our lapbooking elements to the cardstock instead of creating a lapbook.

Since the original unit is made for a week, I place all the printables listed for that day in the pocket.


Then I place two divider tabs for the days it takes me to complete the one day of the unit. I've found that usually I can evenly divide one day's workload into two.


Then behind each day tab I made an assignment sheet to help my daughter and I know what activities we need to do each day. Each day my daughter does her two vocabulary words, and we read at least 1-2 books on the topic together. Sometimes we have additional crafts or projects to do along with working though the unit materials. This sheet is not necessary for the unit, but is something I added to help our day go smoother.

Once a unit is completed, I move all the papers from the white working notebook into a big 3" blue notebook that holds all our completed units. You can find a free cover from The Old School House store. Then I reuse the tabs, pockets and notebook for our next download.

The Download N Go units have been a perfect fit for my 2nd grader. Just the other day she commented on how much she liked doing her special units. For the price, the time it saves me in preparing my own units, and the ease of implementation --we will definitely be adding more studies to our year.

The Australia Download N Go unit was given to me for review purposes. No other compensation was given. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie Time


We've been delivering and eating our Girl Scout cookies----I really need to not have any in my house! The Thin Mints started disappearing while typing this post. This afternoon I'll be helping my daughter's troop with their cookie pin assignment. They have to search the internet to answer several questions. I'm posting a worksheet to help them in their search for answers.

The one question I could not find a direct answer was, "What do people around the world drink with their cookies?  I can think of a couple things off the top of my head, but I thought it would be fun to see what my blog readers drink with their cookies. If you could leave an answer in the comments, I'd appreciate it! Remember, Brownies will be reading it. :)
Other Brownie posts:
Try-Its: Space

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Relevant Blogging Conference


I have been mulling around the idea of attending a blog conference in the upcoming year. After reading all the Blissdom reports, I feel like I'm ready to take that next step of learning more of the ins and outs of blogging and connecting with other bloggers in real life. I really had no idea which conference I should go to or even what was really out there for bloggers. Then today I stumbled across information regarding the Relevant blog conference. When I read their mission-statement, I was hooked. I knew that this is the conference I needed to go to at this time in my life. So, tonight I participated in my first Twitter chat hosted by the Relevant team

The chat topic for this evening was getting a sponsor for the Relevant conference. I have to admit that it was a little difficult for me to keep up with the Twitter chat! Things kept freezing on me, but there was a wealth of good information shared.  Tommy Nelson, a Christian children's publishing company that markets books, Bibles videos and more, is one of the main sponsors of the conference and also participated in the chat. They hosted several give-aways and one special person actually won a ticket to the conference compliments of Tommy Nelson

What makes me excited is that this conference centers around my passions: my Savior, my family, and friends. Here's a quote from their site:

"We support women turning their hearts toward home and using their blogs to bless their families while also engaging the world for the glory of God." ~Relevant Blog Conference

This evening, before I put my daughter to bed, she brought me her favorite book. We have read it so many times that she knows all the words. She loves the characters. I love that this story gives me another opportunity during our day to talk about God. When I flipped the book over I realized that the same company that published that book was going to be a part of this evening's Twitter chat. How cool! I am thankful for Tommy Nelson for making godly materials available for families. And I think it would be so awesome to be a part of a conference that they are sponsoring.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Highlights from Last Week

 I have a love/hate relationship with finger paints. One one hand I know that it is a wonderful creative outlet for my kiddos. On the other hand, I also know that I'm going to have to clean---clothes, faces, tables, counters and sometimes the wall. Thankfully, Crayola finger paints really don't stain! All my kids love to mess around with the finger paints when I take them out---even the older ones :) I will be ready for summer to come so that I can have them do all the messy stuff outside again.


 Two days this week we woke up to frost covering all the trees and bushes. It was so beautiful! I passed some spectacular scenes while driving, but since I really needed to pay attention to the road I decided not to even bother bringing my camera. If I were a more adventurous photographer I might have bundled up, pulled off the road and taken some shots. I like staying warm too much :)
 We celebrated my DD#2's birthday and my niece's birthday this week. It was good to be able to hang out with my family.

And of course, Valentine's day. My son gave this to me the night before. I was pretty impressed that he came up with it! He loves Legos. This makes up for all the times I've stepped on them and wished he didn't have any. :) My ds is the biggest teaser of the family but is also one of the most sensitive kids in the family. He already had planned for several weeks what he wanted to get us for Valentine's day. He had begged several times for someone to take him to Wal-mart so he could get our gifts. So besides the heart, he gave us each our own special key-chains. What a thoughtful kid!

While I was writing this blog post and surfing the internet at the same time (don't you do that too?) I came across an uplifting post by Alicia from Confessions of a Snowflake. She writes about her never-ending to-do list and  feeling of inadequacy. I have been struggling with those same feelings too---feeling like I have so much on my plate that if it is getting done, I'm wondering how well. Anyway her post encouraged me today to change my focus---to take the focus off the list and on to my family. Thanks for the post Alicia!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Birthday Week


This week my DD#2 celebrated her 8th birthday! Goodness I can't believe she is that old already. Her older sister made her a special brownie-bite birthday cake. MMmmmm!

We started working on a special birthday unit last week and are wrapping it up this week. She loved having her school work focus around her. :) This is our second Download-N-Go unit and we are enjoying them immensely. The big perk for me is that besides initial prep work, it is all done for me! DD and I sit down together and work. Since I have everything in one notebook, I decided that instead of making a separate lapbook, we'd just put the lapbook elements in the notebook.


She then decorates a piece of cardstock and then adheres the lapbooking elements on the cardstock. That way everything is in one place. This particular unit makes a wonderful keepsake. I'm sure we'll enjoy looking through it over the years.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Too Many Shoes --WFMW

This is a repost of an article I published this past summer. I wanted to update it with how this shoe system is working for us now that it is winter. I still love the whole crate system! It really has helped our family keep our shoe clutter under control. For this winter we have basically kept up with the system except we don't put our boots in the crate. They are lined up against the wall by the door (I didn't want melting snow to mess up other shoes.) Each kid (usually) puts their gloves, hats and scarf in their shoe crate. This is the first winter where I'm not going crazy either trying to find snow-gear, or finding it all over the house. I've also added two laundry baskets. One outside in the garage next to the shoe crates and one inside the house next to the door.


Yes, it's not pretty nor does it look very organized but it is working for us! This is the first winter I'm not tripping over snow pants, boots, hats mittens, and winter coats! In the past I have purchased at least 4 wall coat-hooks. The coats never made it on the hooks. Or they would fall off. It just wasn't working. So a friend mentioned that when her kids were toddlers, she just put a basket in the coat closet for them to put their coats in. I thought that was a great idea! At first I used the basket only for the two little ones. But the older kids found it much easier to just throw their stuff in the basket too (which is why I have now have 2 baskets).  It doesn't look pretty, but it is keeping all the stuff off the floor.  So I'm happy. :)

Original blog post:

With seven members in this family, I often feel like we are over-run with shoes. Not only that, but several members, who will go unnamed, like to not put on socks while wearing their shoes. Oh.the.stink!

So after having to endure another round of trying to get out of the house but can't because no one can find their shoes, I decided we needed a new shoe system.

We have tried:

--shoe racks--kids had a hard time understanding that they are not for standing on or climbing.

--shoe cubbies
--a unit that has individual slots for pairs of shoes. I thought this would work so I put it in the laundry room where we come in and throw our shoes. Each kid was given one whole row to put their shoes away. They never did. The cubbie holes went too deep, or it was too hard for them to put both pairs in the same slot--always some excuse. The shoes ended up on the floor, usually buried under dirty clothes, while the shoe cubbie unit held old shoes, missing shoes or other odds and ends.

--one big basket
---no one could find their shoes.

--in their own closet
--now you think this one would have worked, but nope, it didn't. Basically wherever they took their shoes off is where their shoes ended up.

So now we are trying the shelf/crate system:

I know, so original. I decided that we are going to take our shoes off before coming in the house. The added benefit for me is not having to smell those horribly stinky gym shoes. Each kid was given their own crate. The older 3 have their own shelf to also put whatever junk belongs to them in addition to their shoe crate.

I just couldn't stop there. The blank space on the front of the crate was begging for something, so I decided to go through my digital scrapbooking supplies and make crate labels. [In Photoshop open a new canvas 5.5 x 2.5" at 300dpi]

Doesn't it look so nice and tidy? And because it's in a crate, I don't even mind that there is a football in with the shoes. All I see is the cute label. :) Like his cheesy smile? It was a toss-up between this picture and one that looked like he was mad as all get out. Gone are those days where he would willing pose for a picture.

I'm highly optimistic that this system will work for my family. One week and counting...trying to hit 21 days to make it a habit. :)

For other Works for Me Wednesday Ideas click here

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tot School 39 & 18mo.

Tot School

I tell you I am so glad January is over! I don't know if it's after Christmas blahs or what, but I didn't feel very creative and if we did Tot school, we just did puzzles and read books (which isn't bad, btw) :) I think I just needed some down-time and needed to keep things simple.

For scissor practice this week, I had DD#3 cut pieces and glue them onto a heart. I got the idea from DLTK.
DD#3 still has difficulty holding the scissors correctly, and she's stubborn enough to not want to hold it the right way when I showed her, so I just let her cut. I figure eventually she'll get it right.
Here was her final result. She was so proud of her work. She carried it around all day.
While grocery shopping this week, I came across 2 sets of chipboard letters on clearance. I thought they would make a good ABC activity to do w/ DD#3. My initial thought was to hid letters in our sensory tub, or take the letters of her name and have her try to find matches.  Well she was so excited to have her own set of letters that she dumped them out on the table and started finding matches on her own. I thought having so many dumped out would be overwhelming, so I was only going to do a handful. I was pretty surprised that she knew several of her letters since we haven't formally started doing anything with them.
This week we joined some of our homeschool friends for co-op. In DD#3's group we learned about shadows.

She colored a ground-hog, glued it onto a popsicle stick and saw the ground hog see it's shadow.


Both girls enjoy playing with their Discovery Toys stacking blocks. Here DD#4 is working on building a tower.
And as you can see, they worked together :) One built the other tore down.
Our area received a nice blanket of snow, so we went outside to play, er eat the snow. It wasn't yellow! ;)
Seriously, yuck! But I think all kids try it. DD#3 was facinated with the snow. She enjoyed exploring the backyard snowdrifts, walking under the pine tree and following her older siblings. Youngest DD was content to stay on the plowed drive-way.

So this is a glimpse of our week. For more Tot school ideas be sure to check out the main thread at 1+1+1=1.