Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grilling in style

My hubby doesn't normally grill.  So when it was our night to cook on our family vacation, I was shocked when he popped up and asked if he could help grill the hot dogs and burgers that night.  Now bear in mind, there was 27 people sharing this 3 story ocean front home.  So grilling for that many is so much hard than grilling for just our family at home.  Plus the kitchen is on the top (3rd floor) of the house and the grill was on the ground floor. Good thing there was an elevator!!!

Anyway, it was a windy day at the ocean, and Joe got tired of the smoke in his eyes.  So he remedied the situation.....

Who knew swim goggles were so useful!?!?!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Caty's Workboxes

We are all ready with our Land Before time Numbers....and she did a lot more than I thought she would this morning!!


That's been her  So wish my day were that easy!!!

Natural Playspaces

Growing up, we had a metal swing set and a tractor tire sandbox.  Now days, wood jungle gyms have replaced the old-fashioned metal sets.  City's now install play systems that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Only in older parks do you see the older tall metal slides and swings.  Even merry-go-rounds are a thing of the past.  They are dangerous.  With all the safety rules that newer generations of parents continue to follow, it's amazing that any of us survived growing up without car seats and running with sticks.

There is a new trend though of Natural Play spaces.  I recently discovered a whole bunch of info on a few new-to me blogs and of course on Pinterest.   These play areas encourage discovering of nature.  Playing in the mud and getting dirty.  Exploring and creativity.  We have two girls that love getting dirty and playing hard.  And we had some wasted space that behind a shed in our yard.  What is a parent to do......encourage exploration!!!

Joe and I spent a couple days clearing out icky weeds and making sure there were no hazardous nails lost in this dirt area.  And considering we did it on the hottest weekend of the year, I got to say I am surprised we were able to get it finished!  This all was free, just a lot of hard work and sweat and repurposing of items from the yard.

We have an elderly neighbor who has a huge property.  His health is getting bad, so we have been volunteering to help keep the back part of the property mowed and cleaned up.  I mainly started out thinking that keeping the lawn mowed down would help keep the mosquito and possible little critters down to a minimum, all while helping them out.  But I discovered a huge amount of downed branches and twigs.  We pulled them all over to our yard this afternoon, and I also discovered that I do not have an allergy to poison oak.  Apparently I was running around in it with flip flops and shorts on.  No issues so far....whew!

Anyway, we used some of the sticks to make like a little crawl through space, that I can easily throw a sheet over and make a quiet tent that they can play in.

 Here's Lydia and her cousin exploring the corner.  The little logs are to sit on or even step up on.
 We have a loose dirt playing area.
 The old water table will be a mud pie kitchen.
 More exploring.  The girls are excited to start playing back here.  And my OCDs are overloading my brain at how muddy the girls can potentially become.....I can do this!!

Do you have a little are that you can make into an exploration area?  You don't have to spend hundreds on play equipment to allow your children fun to explore.....where was this info 6 years ago when we bought our jungle gym?!?!

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's the start of a new year.....

Our new school year is starting.  We will basically be continuing where we left off with our 3 week break.  We go year round, so our school year started May 29, 2012 until June 1, 2013.  This schedule helps keep us on track and compensate for constant interruptions.

Here's our curriculum for the upcoming year....and we all know how that!!

Math U See
Teaching Textbooks

Any topic that interests them
Christian Kids Explore Science - Chemistry
Intelligo Unit Studies Physical Science
R.E.A.L. Science - Life Science

Story of the World
TruthQuest - American History

Vintage Remedies

Foreign Language:
Rosetta Stone - Latin America
Easy French

Language Lessons for Little ones
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind

Geography/World Culture:
Road Trip USA
Highlights Top Secret Adventures
World Travelers Club

Reading Eggs
Explore the Code Books (Caty)

Getty Dubay Handwriting Series

4-H Photography Project Curriculum

I didn't mark who was doing what.  I have workboxes all set up to start tomorrow morning.  I have redone some things because we are running out of space.  Six people in this house, all trying to live, work, eat and play....we are running out of space!!!  So each child will have 5 workboxes, which reduces us down to two towers.  I made each kid their own character number cards, of their choice yesterday.  Watch for them as we start getting this around for 2012-2013 school year!!!

What we are up to this week.....

Explore the Code - Letter K
Math Patterns - Team UmiZoomi Math
Handwriting without Tears Pre-K book
Early Readers
Nick Jr. Boost for fun

Grammar:  Language Lesson for the Well trained mind - Common and Proper Nouns
Reading - Reading Eggs and Little Critter Comprehension workbook
Math - Scholastic Coin Workbook and Kumon Coin book
Handwriting - Getty Dubay workbook
IXL Math practice (watch for the upcoming review)
Nick Jr. Boost for fun

Grammar: Inference Jones and standard Grammar book from Houghton Mifflin
Reading Comprehension - Little Critter workbook
Math - continue multiplication practice for another two weeks and then start division
Handwriting - Getty Dubay workbook
Rosetta Stone - Spanish
IXL Math practice

Grammar: Inference Jones and Standard Grammar Book like Joey's
Reading Comprehension - Verbally read with him and answer questions
Math - Teaching Textbooks
Handwriting - Getty Dubay workbook
IXL Math Practice
Nick Jr. Boost for fun.

Science - Finish our Ocean project.  Discuss Ocean animals and make up our folder on the ocean.
History - Start learning about Jamestown
Photography - Fun with Shadows

Everyone have a great week!!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trip to the beach....Outer Banks, NC

So I have been kind of MIA for a while.  I am still around and reading everyone's blogs.  We had a great week in North Carolina.  It was warm and sunny, and of course the kids had a wonderful time.

Let me share a few pics with you, and I'll spend the next few weeks catching everything else back up!

Our first morning in the Outer Banks.  We stayed overnight in a local hotel that was just down from the beach house we were sharing with our family and friends.  We got up the next morning, and walked over to see the ocean.  Caty had never been to the ocean and Lydia was only 2 the last time we were in the Outer Banks.  So she was super excited, and so was Joey.
 Sand wasn't hot yet, they were enjoying the feeling between their toys.
 Brayden though was not real fond of the wind or the sand.
 Finding a bunch of tiny shells.
 And jumping in the waves.

 We still had time to kill before we were able to check into the house, so we drove around Roanoke Island and then visited Bodie Island Lighthouse.  The restoration is still underway, so we could not get very close.  We have been there before, so we knew what it looked like.  But still beautiful to see anyway.

 I took Joey and Lydia into the gift shop and we saw a bit about the different areas of the lighthouse.

More North Carolina posts to come this week......

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Write Stuff


There are a few subjects I am very nervous about teaching.  Writing and Grammar tops that list of subjects. Joey has been showing more interest in writing, including writing and illustrating his own comic books.   What does mom do?????  Encourage this interest.

I have been searching though for an easy to use writing curriculum that will allow me to teach, and yet not overload me with tons of research.  And better yet, not discourage Joey's interest in writing.

Bring on the review........I was pretty excited to the opportunity to use the WriteShop curriculum.  I have seen it pop up on other blogs, but was unsure if it would work for our family.  We had the opportunity to try out WriteShop Primary Book C.


From the WriteShop Website:

Fun is the word of the day!
WriteShop Primary is an exciting, parent-guided writing curriculum for K-3rd graders with daily, easy-to-implement activities to share with your young learner.
   “A flexible, gentle program, full of variety and creativity for the young writer…. Since early lessons have the option to be entirely oral on the part of the child, there is no pressure, only the opportunity to talk about things that are familiar to him as he watches Mom write down his words."
–Shannon Cullip, AK, homeschool mother of four
WriteShop Primary teaches the skills of the writing process at the very simplest level through activities, crafts, and picture books. It accommodates pre-writers as well as beginning and developing writers, so your youngster needs no previous reading or writing experience. Slowly and gently, the child is asked to help with the actual writing, first in simple words and later, through copywork. And by turning these stories into a little craft, he will have a project to proudly share with others.
Several schedules help you plan according to your child’s grade or skill level. Lessons are divided into eight Activity Sets to thoroughly cover a topic without hurrying the child. Examples abound to make teaching oh, so easy for you!
Each Activity Set includes Guided Writing Practice.  Activity Sets 2-8 also include a key activity or project.
Activity Set 1: Guided Writing Practice only
Activity Set 2: Pre-writing Activities and Picture Book
Activity Set 3: Brainstorming
Activity Set 4: The Writing Project
Activity Set 5: Editing and Revising
Activity Set 6: Activity Set Worksheet
Activity Set 7: Publishing the Project
Activity Set 8: Want To Do More?


This program is well laid out, and even breaks down suggestions by day.  Supply lists are provided along with the suggested activities.  But they also provide optional activities, and I found these to be great for our family since we had older students working with "younger" material.


There are worksheets to use along the way with lessons.

Joey enjoyed this writing curriculum.  It really drew him out and forced him to look at his personal experiences.  The story ingredients lesson even encouraged him to think outside of the box when creating a story.  For once he wrote a story that did not involve a robot, LEGOs or even something from Star Wars.  I was pretty shocked too.  The encouragement of writing several "drafts" in order to create one story, really worked for him.  I kept reminding him that we could build on the story, and make adjustments to get it right.

I liked that I could pick and choose what activities and exercises would keep his interest, and yet still allow the point of each lesson to reach him.  With everything so laid out for me, really alot of my advanced preparation just included reading the lesson we would be doing and collecting any supplies for an activity that we might do.  I was also able to adjust the activity to his needs.  I knew he would not understand the suggested activity the way it was written, so I switched it up a bit.  Instead of his story ingredients being on a "plate", we have our story ingredients listed like a recipe card so that he can check out the items as he goes. WriteShop really makes the art of teaching writing so easy!

So question is.....Will we continue using this program?????  YES!!  In fact, we will be ordering Book A in the fall for Lydia to be starting in.

The price and content are so worth it and an excellent value!  Book C Teacher Manual is only $32.95 and the eBook workbook is only $4.50 and print copy is $4.95.  WriteShop can provide for your literature needs from early elementary school through high school.  What a wonderful help for homeschooling families!!!!

You can view samples by visiting their website.

Look them up on Facebook.

Check out what other Crew Mates thought of WriteShop.

*****Disclaimer......I received WriteShop Primary Book C free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Bible as a Textbook


It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day education of our children and emphasize the CORE curriculum of Reading, Language Arts and Science/History.  But what about Bible Study.  Bible study should be the centerpiece of any Christian education.  

Judah Bible Curriculum is hear to help parents out in this study.  It is designed to encourage Godly traits in both yourself as the educator and your family or students.  

From their site:

Our crucial need is to educate our students to be Biblically literate. True literacy is more than just the ability to read. True literacy includes having a basis in Truth and the ability to reason from that basis to discover the answers to life's questions.

The Judah Bible Curriculum is a principle approach curriculum for Bible Class.  It allows you to:

  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible.
  • Build strong, Godly character in your children.
  • Study the Bible together.
  • Study the hand of God in the lives of individuals and nations.
  • Teach your children living Biblical principles to guide their lives.
  • Apply God’s word personally in every area of life.
Instead of the typical workbook style educational experience, 

The Bible is the textbook.

With the Judah Bible curriculum, the emphasis is placed on studying the Bible, not just studying about the Bible. They will learn to utilize reference materials and outside resources in their study. They will learn to reason from the Bible basis and apply Biblical principle to every area of life.

This curriculum is designed so that every year, the Bible is studied, from Genesis to Revelation.

Theme 1: Creation (Genesis 1-11)
Theme 2: The Plan of Redemption Begins (Genesis 12 -- Ruth)
Theme 3: The Kingdom of Israel (1Samuel -- Malachi
Theme 4: The Kingdom of God (Matthew -- John)
Theme 5: The Early Church (Act -- Revelation)

The Scope and Sequence gives you an outline to use for your planning.  This gives you suggested timelines for grades K-12 to encourage your planning.

This program is designed to break curriculum dependence and become self-educating students of God.  It allows for your own creativity to filter into your daily family Bible time.

You can purchase the Judah Bible Curriculum Online Access to begin teaching your students how to study the Bible.  Online Access includes the Judah Bible Curriculum Manual of instructions and resources in e-book format. The manual has the JBC K-12 Weekly Theme Guide.  You also receive in e-book format a Notebook Ideas book for elementary to help you get started. You also will get the complete JBC Teacher Training Audio Seminar – eight lectures in mp3 format that you can download to your computer, three of which teach through the Bible as you will teach through it so you can keep ahead of your students. You can use this material online and/or download it to print out. All of this information for only $44.00.

Or you can order the Judah Bible Curriculum Pack, which includes the Judah Bible Curriculum Manual of instructions and resources, with the K-12 Weekly Theme Guide. You also get a Notebook Ideas book for elementary to help you start your notebooks. You also receive the JBC Teacher Training Audio Seminar - eight lectures on CDs that teach you how to teach the Bible to your students. Allow two weeks for shipping. A paper copy of this curriculum is only $69.00 plus $5.00 shipping.

How did this program work for our family?  Unfortunately it did not work well for us.  Joey is very much a curriculum hound.....He needs the workbooks and worksheets laid out in front of him.  He is very visual.  He unfortunately then affected the attitudes of the other kids.  

We did give it a go.  The only draw back I saw, was I am way short on time.  And it did require more planning on my part.  Ideas are provided in the JBC Teacher Training Audio Seminar to help encourage your students love of the Bible and help them to learn as much as they can.  The Training Audio series also helps to teach you how to use the JBC Curriculum to the fullest extent.

The pros for this program:

  • Wonderfully priced program that you can use each year
  • You and your family can use it to study the Bible each year
  • This program encourages studying....not just reading the Bible.
  • An outline of what to study with each age group is provided.
  • You can easily integrate your own creativity to allow your children to learn more about the Bible subjects they are reading.
  • The only Textbook you need.....the Bible!!!
  • Notebooking pages help to draw your student/family out.
I would recommend this program to families.  The price is wonderful and the emphasis is on the Bible and encourages gaining a deeper understanding.  This is a family program, so it is also wonderful for adults to use also.

Product information:
Cost: $44.00 for digital downloads, $69.00 plus $5.00 shipping for printed copy.
Designers: Bill Burtness

Check out this different type of "curriculum" for your family today.

See what other Crew Mates thought of this product.

*****Disclaimer......I received the Judah Bible Curriculum free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Our Weekly Triumphs and Accomplishments

Another week is done for us.  And believe it or not....drumroll....we actually finished almost all that we needed to!!!  Now we didn't study Henry Hudson as in depth as I planned, but we still learned about him.  We just didn't do all the projects that I had thought about doing.

Joey is chugging along at learning his multiplication facts.  He almost has 2s and 3s tackled.  I am trying to get him to memorize the facts.  He is allowed to use the multiplication board, but not a calculator.  I have Brayden working on refreshing his memory on facts.  He is liking using the multiplication board also.

Joey continued working on his Inference Jones workbook and his Reading Comprehension Little Critter book.  Both Brayden and Joey continued working on their handwriting notebooks.

Caty has been having a rough time with something...not sure what.  We are having some minor issues that are causing massive disruptions.  So we actually spent a second week on the Letter M in her Explore the Code book.  Here she was being silly and working on early graphing from Confessions of a Homeschooler Letter of the Week curriculum.
I found these glitter paint markers at the drug store down the street on clearance for $1.00.  It was a 5 pack.  She loves to paint, so the deal was she got to paint with them if she finished her work for the day.  It worked!
This was a picture from last week.  But Lydia worked hard at her reading.  She has been working on her Reading Eggs and also Little Critter Reading Comprehension Book.  She is practicing her reading with the little level readers that I brought with us.
She is also working hard on her handwriting folder of worksheets.  And even though she is whining about doing her phonics, I think she may finally be realizing that she is learning how to read!!  She just flew through reading a list of sight words and didn't even realize it!  There are times though...WOW!!  She is just convinced she cannot read and WILL NOT read anything, even words she has known for a while!

Lydia picked out a dinosaur set from the zoo to paint.  Caty chose something different, but wanted to paint too.  So good thing I brought a well stocked supply box!
We worked really hard on our ocean unit.  We read lots of information on the Oceans, both fiction and non-fiction.  We have most of our lapbook pockets completed.  We will do a little work on animals this next week and gather some beach supplies to make our poster for the Homeschool Expo.  Joey drew a picture of a coral reef today while watching the IMAX Coral Reef special on the computer.  Lydia colored a turtle page.  They want to put them on the poster also.

Product Details

We read about Henry Hudson and the mutiny that he, his son, and a few loyal crew mates suffered.  Joey came up with a couple possibilities of what may have happened to him.

There as whining and crying about doing schoolwork.  But no different than if we were at home.  The only thing that we did not get completely done was print out more photos that we had taken for our ongoing photography course from 4H...but I can do that when we get to NC.

This week we visited the Nashville Zoo and their animatronic dinosaur exhibit.  It was super cool.  The kids were sprayed with "venom" and the dinosaur that was "eating" another dinosaur actually stunk!!

 We visited a local history museum for Williamson County Tennessee.  We saw items that would have been in a General Store.
 Mid-1800s cabin.  Which is perfect because we just finished reading the American Girl Kirsten Books.  Lydia and I were able to have a small discussion about the contents.
 We re-visited Carnton Plantation.  It served as a Hospital during the Battle of Franklin.  Daddy had not been there before, so he left work a bit early to visit this with us.  It was neat.
 We also visited the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory....this was great!!!  They have an open house once a month and they took us through and even had solar glasses for us to view the sun with.

I have posts I am working on for all our adventures in Tennessee this time.  Two weeks gave us time to see alot.  But now we are headed to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Watch for our upcoming beach visit!!!

Linking up with other homeschool families at

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers