Our family's journey through life as we deal with the every day messes along the way

My Farewell to Blogging

farewell

You may have noticed it is been a bit more quiet around here lately. Well, there is a reason for that. After much prayer, I have decided to give up blogging. At this point in my life, it is just not meant to be. I need the extra time I have previously committed to blogging for things like improving my health and spending time with my family. The kids are just growing up way too fast!

Over the past several months, I have started to develop a few cysts on my wrists that make it painful to type for long periods of time. From everything I have read, this can be a precursor to rheumatoid arthritis, which runs in my family. It is also aggravated by wrist action (like typing). I need to have more time to focus on eating the healthiest I possibly can and I need to make more time for exercising. I just no longer have the energy to put what I need to into blogging.

I talked to my husband, my kids, and other family and friends, and everyone agreed that my decision to give up blogging is the right one. My kids are growing up before my very eyes, and I don’t want to miss a second of it! I don’t like having to tell my kids to stay away from electronics while I spend time on the computer…especially when it isn’t something I *need* to do.

I know that the Lord has great things planned for us as we work to spend more meaningful time together. No more reviews, no more mandatory posts, no more staying up late or getting up early just to get blogging done. It is hard to walk away from something I have worked so hard on for the past few years, but I feel complete peace about this decision. I am confident it is the right decision.

I can’t thank you all enough for all of the support you have given me! It brings me to tears to know that you have taken time out of your day to read what I have to say. I pray that you have been blessed and encouraged by the things I have shared. I do plan to keep the blog up so that if you need to come back and read something or use something, you will be able to do that.

Thank you, my dear readers, for all of your love and support! It means the world to me! May the Lord bless each and every one of you in all that you do!

 

Spotlight on a New Favorite: Reading Lessons through Literature

Spotlight on a New Favorite: Reading Lessons through Literature

You all know by know that our family loves and is having great success with English Lessons through Literature. But, when it came time for us to do our yearly standardized testing, I quickly discovered the kids needed some help with spelling. The plain dictation wasn’t working as well as I hoped it would. They needed something to help them analyze words and learn the spelling rules in the process.

{this post may contain affiliate links}

Enter a new favorite: Reading Lessons Through Literature. Not only is this program an amazing tool for teaching reading, it is also working for us as a spelling program. My older children are starting in level 2 since they already know the phonograms, and they are working through the spelling lists at an accelerated pace. I love this program so much that I have decided to use it for reading instruction with Moose. Since he is not comfortable writing yet, we are modifying the program a bit and I thought I would share with you how that looks.

20140530-135913-50353125.jpg

Moose works to find a phonogram during our “phonogram quiz”

20140530-135913-50353684.jpg

He found it!

The first section of Reading Lessons through Literature is all about learning the phonograms. Your child works through the first 30 phonograms, learning a few new ones each day and reviewing the previous ones as you go. There is an easy reference chart in the back of the book to guide you in what to do each day for the lesson. We are following the chart for younger students with Moose, but there is also a chart for older students that are working at an accelerated pace.

20140530-135915-50355122.jpg

Moose finds the correct phonograms to make the words, and I write them in his spelling journal.

After the first 30 phonograms are learned, you move on to the spelling journal, but still continue to add new and review old phonograms. With the younger students, five new words are learned three times per week. For each word, the phonograms are called out and the student writes the correct phonograms in their spelling journal. In Moose’s case, he spells out his words using the free phonogram tiles provided by the author. Then I write the word in his spelling journal for him.

20140530-135914-50354693.jpg

Moose- practicing his spelling words.

After several spelling lists are completed, your child will be ready to read the corresponding story from the Elson readers in the back section of the book. Every word in the reading has already been studied and practiced using the spelling journal, so your child isn’t surprised by any new words. The first story has 20 spelling lists to complete before it is read. But after that, there is only one list of spelling words until another story is introduced. If there are any other new words in a story (such as a new name) there is note of it before the story begins and the analysis of the word is shown to the child.

20140530-135914-50354187.jpg

Moose being silly with his phonogram tiles.:-)

Other than finding your own spelling journal to write the words in, there are no other materials needed to do this program. There is an optional phonogram workbook if you feel your child needs some extra practice, but it isn’t necessary to use. For our spelling journal, I printed off some pages with our Notebooking Pages subscription and had them bound at our local UPS store.

20140530-135915-50355490.jpg

Our spelling notebook, along with the instructions for the spelling list.

Why do we love Reading Lessons through Literature?

*The lessons are short and effective. I have a very active 5 year-old boy who also wants to learn how to read. These lessons are the perfect length for him. One lesson usually takes about 15 minutes depending on his attention level. ;-)

*There is no extra fluff. The kids like games, but they also like to get their school work done. This is basic reading and spelling instruction at its best!

*You can teach reading and spelling at the same time. I can already see this helping not only my older children, but also Moose, with spelling. It is amazing what learning phonograms can do for these two areas of language arts.

*Lessons can easily be slowed down or accelerated. Every child learns at a different pace, and this program is so easy to customize it to fit your child’s needs.

*The lessons are open-and-go. There is no preparation or set-up needed before you start a lesson. The only thing I had to prepare was the phonogram tiles. But that was a one-time thing. Now we just get out our book, phonogram cards, phonogram tiles, and spelling journal. We open the book and we are ready to go!

*The program is very affordable and can be used with multiple children. Whether you purchase the actual book or the eBook, all of the materials can be used again. Any consumables are downloads and can be printed off for your whole family.

If you have been searching for a spelling and/or reading program that is simple, but very effective, I suggest you look into Reading Lessons through Literature. The author was kind enough to list free samples for each of the first three levels of this program, so if you are interested, you can download it and take a look before you decide to buy it. I only wish this program had been around when my older two were a little bit younger. I think spelling may not be such an issue right now if they had been through a program like this. But I am so grateful we found it…even if it meant waiting. ;-)

 

Progeny Press Literature Guides {Schoolhouse Review Crew review}

Progeny Press

Do you use anything for literature analysis is your home? I have always been leery of doing too much with literature since I didn’t want my kids to resist reading because of it. When I was growing up, I never enjoyed book reports, and literature analysis always felt to me like a book report. But when I was offered a chance to review the literature guides for The Door in the Wall and The Courage of Sarah Noble from Progeny PressI thought it would be a great idea to give them a try since I have heard great things about them! The Door in the Wall e-guide retails for $16.99 and is intended for grades 3-5. The Courage of Sarah Noble e-guide retails for $11.99 and is intended for grades K-3.

20140523-081452-29692061.jpg

The Progeny Press guides come in four different levels: lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school. The guides can be purchased as a study guide on a CD or as an e-guide that is available as an instant download. Both can be printed time and time again for your children. You can also purchase the printed workbook. The great thing about the e-guides is they can be used interactively. So if your child prefers typing to writing, they can fill out the questions that way instead. The guides are intended to take about 8-12 weeks to complete and answer keys are available in the back of every guide.

20140426-175938.jpg

I decided to print off the guides for each of my children. Our computer is not always reliable and can run slow, so I figured this would be the best way to make sure the guides get done. We already own the books for the guides we are using, but most of the study guides are for award winning books that can be found in most public libraries.

For my oldest son, I chose the guide for The Door in the Wall. This guide is intended for the upper elementary level. I love how the guides break the readings and activities into easily managed chunks. For Caspian, it worked out best to do a few days of reading, and then work on the study guide for the next few days. His guide came with great information about the book to help him understand the background. There were a few pre-reading activities, and then we jumped right into the guide. Each section is full of meaningful questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Some of the questions are directly about the story, but others really made him think beyond the story line of the book. There are wonderful exercises to broaden his vocabulary.

20140523-081514-29714677.jpg

One of my favorite parts of the guide is the Scripture references. I love how they use the story to connect to God’s word. There was obviously a lot of thought that was put into each and every question. We have had some wonderful discussions not only about the book, but also about how the answers can be applied to our lives. I just love the “dig deeper” section of the questions! I also love that the guide ends with wonderful suggestions of similar books and even some videos. If you have sparked an interest in a subject with these guides, you have an easy resource to guide you to more great things.

20140523-081522-29722920.jpg

My daughter, Aurora, was given the guide for The Courage of Sarah Noble to use. This guide is for the lower elementary group. Even though Aurora already read this book last year, she was very excited and eager to read it again! Her guide included many things similar to Caspian’s, but just at a different level. She had vocabulary work along with some great questions, which again, included ties to Scripture. Then end of her book included some fun extras. There is a section of recipes, crafts, art, games, and even a crossword puzzle. The end of her guide also included other books by the author, and books related to the same time period as The Courage of Sarah Noble.

20140523-081531-29731678.jpg

These guides were a great first start for my kids in literature analysis. There is just enough work to help them learn, but not enough to overwhelm them. The authors of the guides suggest doing about one page per day, and for us that was a reasonable pace. I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too many questions, and this was perfect. I would think doing one or two of these guides per year would be a perfect balance of free reading and literature analysis. I know my kids would get quickly overwhelmed if we did one of these guides for every book, but a couple per year would be great.

If you need a way to check comprehension and analysis skills in your readers, I would recommend the Progeny Press guides. They are so easy for the parents. No putting together activities or coming up with your own questions. It has all been done for you with the Progeny Press guides. Now to decide which guides we will choose next! ;-)

Click the link below to see what my other Crew members thought of Progeny Press.

Click to read Crew Reviews
You can follow Progeny Press through the following social media links:
Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/progenypress
Twitter –  https://twitter.com/progenypress
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/progenypress/
YouTube –  https://www.youtube.com/user/ProgenyPress
Crew Disclaimer

Apologia Education Ministries: What on Earth Can I Do? {Schoolhouse Review Crew review}

Apologia

Do you teach a Biblical worldview along with your regular Bible studies?  If this is something you would like to add to your studies, Apologia Educational Ministries has just what you need! They have just released the fourth book in their “What We Believe” series of worldview training. For this review I received the What on Earth Can I Do? (hardback book), the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal, the What on Earth Can I Do, Junior Notebooking Journal, and the What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book. The hardback book retails for $39 and can be used with children in grades 1-6. Both the Notebooking Journal and the Junior Notebooking Journal retail for $24. The coloring book is perfect for your younger children to keep their hands busy while they listen, and it retails for $8

20140523-081849-29929926.jpg

Although this is the fourth book in the What We Believe series from Apologia, this is our first experience with them. I have heard of them many times before, but have never really looked into it. That was a mistake, because these books are wonderful! They are all meant to show your children how the words and actions of God are woven into our lives and into history. The main book includes 8 lessons, but these lessons can take weeks to get through. The suggest time for each lesson is about two weeks, but we have found working at our own pace instead of working within that time frame, has worked very well. The stories in the book are easy to read and easy for the kids to follow. There are wonderful pictures to go along with the stories too.

 20140523-091106-33066121.jpg

There are some fantastic journals to go along with the main book for your children to use. Caspian used the notebooking journal, Aurora used the junior notebooking journal, and the coloring book was for Moose. I love how these notebooks can bring the whole family together as they work to study the same topics. The notebooking journal is filled with comprehension and analysis questions, as well as crossword puzzles, word finds, and other pages to copy Scripture and take notes. The journal notebooking journal includes crosswords, coloring pages extra activities and book suggestions, and includes places to write prayers, copy Scriptures, and record praises.Both journals come with lesson plans at the beginning to instruct you on which activity to do in connection with your reading in the main book. The coloring book has several beautiful pictures to color for each lesson.

20140523-081913-29953715.jpg

The main book does give you a suggested lesson plan, but I found it was best to read a chunk each day and not force our way through anything. There are so many great stories in this book and I didn’t want my kids to miss any of it! I will admit, when these books first arrived, I wondered how well my children would listen to the stories. But I completely underestimated both my children and the authors. These stories are written in such a conversational way that it is easy for them to follow along. They have taken so much from the stories we have already read, and we aren’t even half way through the book yet! The greatest sign of curriculum success for me is when my children bring up something they have learned when we aren’t even doing school work. This has happened several times with the What on Earth Can I Do book.

20140523-081931-29971472.jpg

I really feel like teaching a Biblical worldview is so important for our children. Sometimes the Bible can seem so separated from our daily lives and our families are constantly bombarded with unbiblical things. It is so beneficial for children to hear and see that the works of God are woven into each moment of today and in history. From a Bunker hole in World War I to the Biblical days of Joseph and Potiphar, God has always been there, and he always will be there!

20140523-081937-29977748.jpg

I love the view of God’s sovereign hand this book has brought into our home. The kids are seeing how important their relationship with God is, even outside of our home. Seeing how wonderful these books are makes me ready to try the others in the series. It has sparked some great discussions and has proven to teach some very powerful stories in a way that I could never have done on my own. If you have used the other books in this series, I am sure you will love this one just as much. And if you have never used the Apologia What We Believe series, it is one that I would highly recommend. I am truly grateful for the blessing these books have been to our family!

Click the link below to see what the other Crew members thought about What on Earth Can I Do?

Click to read Crew Reviews

You can follow Apologia through the following social media links:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

Crew Disclaimer

 

What’s On My Summer Reading List

What's On My Summer Reading List

Even thought we do school year-round, I try to make things a little bit easier and a little bit more fun for the summer. I like to use the summer time to catch up on some reading, because what’s better than spending some time in the sunshine with a good book! Here are a few things that I plan to read this summer.

{this post may contain affiliate links}

I really need to spend more time reading my new Bible. I have a 90 day plan to read through the New Testament during the summer months.

I also have another parenting book I need to read because I have heard great things about it… The Christian Parenting Handbook.My dear friend, Sanz, over at From the Mrs. (she has a great blog- you should go check it out!), has suggested some great books that I am adding to my reading list. The first one is all about living with less…7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

The other is a book Sanz said is now her favorite parenting book and it gets fabulous reviews…Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry

Since we are moving our homeschool in more of a Charlotte Mason direction, I will be spending some time reading all about her philosophy and how to implement it. I hope to read at least volumes 1 and 6 of her Original Homeschooling Series.

I also have a few other books about the Charlotte Mason method to read. One is the A Charlotte Mason Companion.

And the other book is the Charlotte Mason Study Guide.

Well, that should take me through the summer! What is on your summer reading list?

Protect Your Electronic Devices with Trident Cases! {Schoolhouse Review Crew review}

Trident Case review

If you have any electronic devices in your home, I have something to share with you that I am sure you will love! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a case for your device that was sturdy enough to stand up to just about anything that could happen? That is exactly what the Trident Case was created to do! I was so excited to receive the KRAKEN A.M.S. CASE FOR APPLE IPAD 2/3/4. Trident offers several different cases for all of your devices, but this iPad case retails for $69.95. The Trident cases can be enjoyed and used by children and parents of all ages.

We had a fun time picking out the color for our new Trident case…they come in such a great variety of colors! We took a majority vote (with Moose being the tie-breaker) and decided on green. I love it! The case is wonderfully sturdy and I am so happy to have it.

Not long before our Trident case arrived, our iPad was dropped on the basement floor while a certain little boy was coming to show me the game he was playing. Well, it unfortunately cracked, even though it was already in a case (not a Trident case, though!). Thankfully, the warranty covered a replacement, but we only had 3 days left before the warranty ran out! That was too close! I am so happy that the new iPad will now be protected with a sturdy case that can withstand the abuse given to it in a house full of children. Trust me, these kids put any product they touch through a rigorous durability test.:-)

20140517-115737.jpg

There are a few things about the Trident case that I love and I think sets them apart as a wonderful choice for a case.

*It has been tested by the military. As the wife of a Marine, I know that the military can be tough on their equipment. If this case makes it through their testing, then it is sure to be a good one! They even offer some military themed cases, just wish there was a Marine Corps one ;-).

*The cases are made in the U.S.A. I am always happy when a company is willing to keep their working crews in the United States. Even if I have to pay a little bit more for something, I am willing to do that to support great companies.

*The cases are super easy to order. The website walks you through exactly which case you want based on the device you have. Nothing is better than a great purchasing experience.

*They are easy to put together. Although I was nervous about taking the case apart (I always worry about breaking things!) my wonderful husband showed me exactly how to pop the case apart and put the iPad in it. I guess I never should have worried about breaking something so sturdy. 

*Even with the case on, the buttons on the iPad are very easy to press. Some cases make it difficult to push buttons once the cover is on, but not with the Trident case! Every part of the iPad is protected, including the buttons, but you can still use them. The audio still sounds wonderful and the camera can still be used easily too!

20140517-115732.jpg

We love, love, love our new Trident case! I no longer worry about what the kids might do to the iPad. The kids are free to use the iPad now without me hovering over them and worrying about what might happen. Electronic devices like the iPad are not cheap, so I really think it is best to invest in a sturdy case that will protect your investment. I can tell you right now, we will be buying Trident cases from here on out for any electronic devices we own. I trust the company, the cases are sturdy, the colors are wonderful, and the electronic device is still completely functional with the case on. What more could you ask for?!

20140517-115723.jpg

Want to see what the rest of my Crew members thought about their Trident cases? Just click the link below!

Click to read Crew ReviewsYou can follow Trident Case through the following social media links:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tridentcase
Instagram – http://instagram.com/tridentcase#
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/tridentcase
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+tridentcase
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/tridentcase
Vine – https://vine.co/Trident.Case
YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/TridentCaseCrew Disclaimer

 

 

 

Golden Prairie Press: American History {a review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Golden Prairie Press

I feel like I have been searching for years for a decent American History program that the kids love and that I will love to teach. Amy Puetz of Golden Prairie Press has put together one of the best American History curriculum I have ever had the pleasure of using! Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is so well put together and has a little bit for every different type of learning style. While this curriculum is intended for grades 1-6, it can be used with older children too. This program retails for $98.99 and can be purchased as a digital or physical book (though the physical book comes in black and white, while the digital book is in color).

Golden Prairie Press Review

 The main text of this curriculum is called Heroes and Heroines of the Past and is divided into two eBooks. Each contains 15 weeks of lessons. The rest of the extras are separate. The additional materials download includes printable timelines, videos, full size pictures of the artwork, and coloring pages. There is a separate eBook that includes the historical skits. There are also two separate audio downloads that include listening to history and singing some history.

20140426-180004.jpg

 From the moment I began reading through this curriculum to prepare it for my children, I knew it would be a hit! There are so many fun extras and the mix of activities is perfect. Each lesson begins with a reading from the Heroes and Heroines main text. Most lessons have a shorter, condensed version to use with your younger students (mainly 1st and 2nd graders). This is typically one page long. Then there is a longer more detailed version to use with your older students. Some days the reading is combined and both age groups read the same, but I love this option. I love having the ability to teach a wider age range of students, but still have them learn at their own level. There are enough lessons in this program to get through American History in one year if you do one lesson per day, five days per week.

20140509-064453.jpg

The end of the lesson includes all of the extras. There are typically some quick comprehension questions, just to make sure your students actually picked up the important points of the story. There are also writing prompts if you wish to extend the lesson to include some language arts. The lessons include some type of geography study too. This last page is also the page where you find the added activities. Some days that includes studying art work (there is a full color copy of each art work on the additional materials download). Other days you may be doing a play, listening to music, creating something, cooking, listening to history, or working on a timeline. There are Bible verses to memorize and extra readings you can do if you want your read alouds to coincide with your history studies. I’m telling you, there is a little bit of everything in this curriculum!

20140509-064446.jpg

There is also a package of literature you can purchase for your older students to read independently. A few of the books are public domain, but if you purchase the books through Golden Prairie Press, you will be purchasing books that have already been edited for things like racial slurs and outdated words. There is also a coloring book you can purchase for your younger learners. They can color along while they listen to the history stories read. This really is a great multi-level curriculum that is family friendly and a lot of fun!

 

I always wonder when we start a curriculum what my kids will take away from the readings. I have been reading the selections for the older students, even though my daughter is technically in 2nd grade. They have done a great job listening and taking away the main points of the lesson. They are learning new things and really enjoying this. I love that the readings aren’t dumbed down, but neither are they filled with words the kids don’t understand. The author made sure to include stories about famous women too, which is unfortunately left out of many older history books. So I am learning some new things about these heroines that I didn’t even know before!

20140509-064432.jpg

My daughter was unbelievably excited when I told her there were skits to do with history. She loves acting and this was perfect for her. My son wasn’t thrilled at first. But once we started the play, you could tell he was really getting into it. I tried to not let onto the fact that I saw him enjoying it, but he did. ;-) We have studied more wonderful works of art through this curriculum than we have in a long time. I never realized how many artists depicted the early American history times.

The projects we have done with this curriculum have been great. No project has been too complicated and they have all been wonderful at tying together what we are learning in the history text. There are few things more frustrating to me than getting a book full of activities that include ingredients or materials I don’t keep at home. But we have been able to do everything so far with no problems.

20140509-064550.jpg

Since my husband has a military background, American History is a very important subject in our home. I was so glad when this curriculum came up for review…it looked promising from the beginning and I was not disappointed! I feel it does such a great job of blending traditional history with an element of fun that will hold any child’s attention. My kids are learning so much about American History and for that I am very grateful to Amy Puetz, the wonderful author. I no longer feel the need to search for that “perfect” American History curriculum. I am confident we have found that with Heroes and Heroines of the Past. If you have been searching for a great American History curriculum, check it out. We really love it!

Click the link below to see what other Crew members thought about this wonderful American History curriculum!

Click to read Crew ReviewsYou can follow Golden Prairie Press through the following social media link:Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoldenPrairiePressCrew Disclaimer 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,359 other followers