Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - Privileged Species DVD Review

Ok....I admit it.  I am a parent who allows their children to watch TV.  Don't crucify me because we even use it for school.  I love to include geography, history and science shows in our schooling.  I can sit and watch documentary channels for hours.  Sometimes though the material is way above the kids level of thinking, which can prove to be confusing for them.  So I was very excited to get a chance to review the movie Privileged Species from Fish Flix.

Fish Flix is an online Christian movie store.  They strive to to provide families with good quality entertainment.  They offer DVDs for purchase of movies and also TV programs.  

We had the opportunity to view Privileged Species ($9.99) - How the Cosmos is Designed for Human Life.  This documentary is written for all ages, but I would recommend it for school use from about grades 7 and up.   In the short 33 minute length, there is a ton of information that is included.

I really enjoyed how they talked about the delicate balance of life on our planet.  Without certain elements, our species would cease to exist.  The show looks at how our lives are dependent on Carbon, water and oxygen.  There was also a wonderful section about the viscosity of water and how it is perfect, if it was thicker or thinner then it would not only not be able to support human life but also would not be able to support the organisms that depend on it.

I really like that this documentary was packed full of scientific information and yet it was not extended in length. This is an issue that I have when watching typical documentaries on the television.  We have to break them up over several days in order to allow for their limited attention spans to watch roughly 15 - 25 minutes a day.  Sometimes by the time we finish a documentary they have gotten totally bored with it.  With Privileged Species, I was able to watch is in two 15 minutes increments with the kids.  Caty didn't understand most of it yet, and Lydia understood some of it.  That's why I would definitely gauge this as late middle school to early high school.  It would go along great with a biology course or just an option to have on hand for one of those days when you need something educational for the kiddos to watch while you are not feeling well.

I was very impressed with Privileged Species and I plan on purchasing other documentaries from for the family.  (I have a shelf that we keep these movies on so that I can grab them when approaching that material in the various subjects or if I need a filler movie for the day.)  I have watched it 4 times now and keep picking up new information that I missed before.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to try out various Titles from in their homes.  They included:

Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog so that you can check out how they used these movies in their homes. Review
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Homeschool Legacy - Knights & Nobles Unit Study Review

I usually plan out most of our curriculum.  We use textbooks and then I supplement, so I have a little help as a base.  But I personally really enjoy unit studies, which can be time consuming to plan out.  So I was very excited (and Caty was too) to get the opportunity to try out Knights and Nobles Once-A-Week Unit Study (Digital Download $14.00, Printed $18.95) from Homeschool Legacy.

She has been wanting to learn about Knights and Castles.  The trouble is that we were traveling a lot at that time.  So I was nervous when we first received the easy to download Knights & Nobles file.  I try to keep the curriculum and supplies we carry to one suitcase.  Sometimes with unit studies there are lots of extra materials that you need.  I didn't want to have to repack all of our supplies.  I was surprised at the amount of flexibility that the Knights & Nobles Once-A-Week Unit Study provided me.  The fact that it is written for Grades 2 - 12 also opens up many options for families with a wide age range of students.

With Once-A-Week Unit Study options from Homeschool Legacy, everything is laid out for you.  The only prep is to order books from the library or purchase them, which ever you plan to do.  Several of the suggested books I was able to borrow for my tablet, so there was not a bunch of extra materials for me to worry about packing.  I was also worried about a bunch of extra work that might cut into our exploring time when we are visiting new areas.  I found that Knights & Nobles Once A Week Unit Study gave us ideas that allowed us to learn a lot about the Middle Ages without sitting at the table for hours.

Each week you are provided with:

  • Weekly Biblical text to go along with the subject you are learning about
  • Weekly Field trip ideas
  • Weekly Family Night ideas that include theme menus and movies
  • Ideas for art projects, Language Arts, and several other subjects
  • Weekly hands-on project ideas (such as different ideas for materials to build a castle from)
Each Once-A-Week Unit Study also provides a list of badge requirements for the American Heritage Girls, as well as the Boy Scouts.  

You can use these study options alone or along with the curriculum that you are using.  I was also able to easily see what was going to be covered during this suggested 4 week study.  I easily could have stretched it out further than 4 weeks if I would've wanted to.  We studied in the 4 Week time frame because Caty is not up to the suggested writing projects.  

Since I already had a base outline for Caty for school planned out, I easily was able to slide the Knights and Nobles Once-A-Week Unit Study right into her lesson plan.  We were leaving on another trip when we started it, but I was able to spend 5 minutes reading the suggested activities and reading list to know what we would need on Monday.  I ordered a couple of books and then downloaded some for my tablet.  It was literally that easy.

Because of her age and attention span, here are some of the books we used during the past few weeks.
This was a suggested book and we listened to the audio book of this title.
 She enjoyed this book and also found a cartoon to watch based on this book.
 This was a fun book since she LOVES Ms. Frizzle.
 We learned about Knights and the suits of armor they wore.

 She attempted to learn to play chess...which she said was just impossible to remember all the rules.
She made a medieval lunch for us to enjoy (with help of course)....rosemary baked potatoes and baked chicken.  She wanted a chicken leg to eat like she saw a knight doing in a cartoon she had watched.
We talked about the weapons of knights.  The directions on how to make a simple catapult were included in the Knights and Nobles Once-A-Week Unit Study.  I was almost dreading this project a little.  I expected it was going to be difficult.  Joey had built a catapult a few years ago that took hours.  It took us only 5 minutes to build and starting firing our catapult across the living room.

Another weapon we talked about was how armies would shoot arrows with fire over castle walls to try and force the citizens outside so they could overtake the castle.  So Caty practiced her archery.
 As suggested, we also watched the PBS Special by David Macaulay called Castles and the other special called Cathedrals.  We talked about how they built the walls to take the extra weight.  We also talked about the beautiful glass windows and this was another suggested project....stained glass art.

She really liked all the art project suggestions.  We did not even get a chance to do all of them.

We have watched several videos including, Three Musketeers, Robin Hood (The Disney version), and even Sword in the Stone.  We also watched Hunchback of Notre Dame while learning about Cathedrals and their construction the first week.  The list of suggestions is wonderful!

Caty and I have had so much fun with the Knights & Nobles Once-A-Week Unit Study program.  Homeschool Legacy really does make school easy and fun for both the parents and kids.  The hands-on activities and incorporation of the whole family in the study really helps with retention.  I can't wait to start our next Once-A-Week Unity Study.  The other kids can't wait to join in on the fun.  They saw all the fun Caty was having and asked to get the chance to try more studies like this.

Homeschool Legacy has several unit studies to choose from:

Science Related:
  • Birds of a Feather 
  • Horsing Around 
  • Forest for the Trees 
  • Weather on the Move 

History Related:
  • Knights and Nobles 
  • Early Settlers 
  • Christmas Comes to America 
  • Native America 
  • Revolutionary Ideas: the Story of the American Revolution 
  • We the People, Getting to Know Your Constitution 
  • Lewis & Clark: From Sea to Shining Sea 
  • Westward Ho Part I and Part II 
Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out various Once-A-Week Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy.  Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to see how they used them in their homes and how they worked for their families.

Homeschool Legacy Review

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Monday, May 18, 2015

How the States Got their Shapes Worksheets - Season 2 Episode 2

I really like the History Channel Series How the States Got Their Shapes.  It's a very interesting show about the geography of the United States.  You can currently watch the shows on Netflix and you can purchase them to view from Amazon.  You can also purchase the DVD series.  We fortunately have Netflix. 

I am working on study sheets for the boys to work on while they are watching the episode. I thought I would share these with our readers, since they are not easily found. 

Watch, I will be posting them weekly.  You can also find them on our How the States Got their Shapes Page.

Here is:

Season 2 - Episode 2 - White Collar vs. Blue Collar

Please note my terms of use:
This is for personal use only. I am providing them free of charge. You may use this at home or in a classroom. You may print as many copies as you would like. You may share the link to our blog to others interested in our packets. 
You may not:
Sell or distribute this file. Host this file on your website without permission from myself. Upload this file to a shared website (Ex.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Week 50 - Wrapping up the Year, bird watching and Dogsitting

This was a week that I started out thinking that I was ahead of the game.  Everyday I struggled to stay on top of things.  Frustration was the feeling I had most evenings when I saw the things that didn't get done.  I understand I can't handle this way of thinking, because the stress doesn't help me at all.  But it was little things and also business things that didn't get finished.  I am hoping to finish up the weekly list today.  There's a couple outside activities that I need to get finished today.  And then lots of office work.

I sorted their work into boxes earlier in the week, and now I just need to create their portfolios for the assessor in a couple weeks.

I did manage to stay on top of my exercise schedule.  Last week I started doing a slow morning workout using the IOS Daily workout app.  I added extra activities each day.  I only skipped Sunday and Tuesday this week.  (But trust me, I got a workout Tuesday ripping out the garage cabinets with my sister-in-law.)  I have been wanting to get back to jogging.  I miss running.  So I tried this morning and ended up doing 3/4 of a mile in a walking and some running.  I am sore now, but I plan to start adding that in with my IOS workout 2-3 days a week while I get my body back on track after being so sick for so long.  I haven't run since September, so this was a big deal for me.

We had a storm one day earlier in the week and lost power for about 2 hours.  I thought Brayden was going to die.  They kept asking when we were going to start the generator.  Caty got out a puzzle and worked on it.

In school this week,   Caty continued learning about Knights/Castles and the Middle Ages this week.  We worked on a few projects this week.

We learned about what a Coat of Arms was and what they symbols meant.  We visited this website to study the symbols on a Coat of Arms.  Then we watched a short video on how to create a coat of arms also.

This is her finished coat of arms.  She put on an elephant (for strength and endurance), an acorn (for independence and strength), a horse (for speed and intelligence), and a cat (for courage).  They all happen to be items she loves  
 She made a stain glass window.  We laminated a window design and she used sharpies to color in her design.

This was a suggested activity in her Homeschool Legacy lesson plan (watch for our review next week).  We made a catapult out of doll rods.  
She and dad had fun with this one.
 We learned more about weapons used by knights.  We didn't have a lance or battle axe, but we did have a Nerf bow and we practiced being Robin Hood.
She also watched Disney's Three Musketeers, Sword and the Stone and Robin Hood this week.  Mentally she needed more cartoon style movies.  She enjoyed all three movies.  We have one more week of the Middle Ages.

She is continuing to work on her addition and subtraction facts.  She's doing really well.  In Science she continued her Garden Sleuths class and this week it was about plant parts.  She did the celery experiment again and had fun.  Her bean is also growing wildly.  So we will be working on planting that this weekend.

Her beans are double that size now.  We are transplanting them to the garden tomorrow.
 One of the books we read to go with our Science on Living vs. Non-living.
Playing outside...Caty strongly believes in dandelions.  She decided to spread seeds around the backyard to help our bees.

On Monday, the girls and I went briefly to the local park to work on identifying birds.  We downloaded the Cornell Labs identification app on my phone, grabbed the camera and set off.

This week we identified several birds and even got to see a juvenile eagle on our way to horse riding.

Lydia is working hard on her multiplication.  She hates math, so I haven't been forcing this too much but she knows the facts.  So I told her in order to get into her 4th grade math, she needs to finish it up what she had left.

She continued working on her Horseless Horse 4H project.  She is working on breeds right now.  She is doing really well in her grammar and writing programs.  I was worried about her writing program.  She is doing well on the keywords, but still struggling a bit with making sentences.  So we'll keep chugging along.  I just keep an eye on the amount of handwriting she is doing.  There is a direct correlation between her frustration with her hand tremors and the handwriting.  So she is learning how to use Word more.

Lydia was very brave this week.  She rode the tallest horse that she has ever been on this week.  Charlie is 20 hands tall.  She did a great job controlling him.  (Figuring the height of a horse was one of her 4H projects this week.)

Lydia also was dog sitting.  Mack was with us a few days and so loved by all the kiddos.
 He was very spoiled.

The boys are still working on their 4H projects.  It is my fault that they got behind this week. So we will be spending next week catching them back and up making their posters.  Judging isn't too far away, so I want them to be ready.

Joey read a book on Robert Ripley this week.  He said he was an interesting person. He is reading about the Roaring 20s in History.  Both boys watched an episode of Aerial America on Wisconsin, which they recognized a few landmarks that we have been too.  I will be working hard with him next week on 4H projects so that we can start posters next week with Joey. 

Joey has been enjoying the new patio furniture.  I will have to get a picture and post it next week.  He's been going out on the deck and doing his work.  I don't blame him.  It was a little chilly for me a couple days, so I didn't sit out there as much as he did.  But whatever works for him, I'm ok with that.

Brayden went through another Magic Tree House book.  I am switching things up next week and he's going to read a Magic School Bus Science Chapter book.  He whipped through most of his schoolwork fairly easy this week.  I am still checking him out because I already found where Joey skipped some assignments.  If Joey done it, I'm sure Brayden did too.  His excuse would be, well you didn't remind

We had a busy, but decent week.  Lydia has been providing a big challenge to me daily.  More like driving me absolutely batty on a daily basis.  I threatened to send her to boarding school at one point this week.  She been an emotional roller coaster, more than usual.  So just taking lots and lots of deep breaths.  

Hope everyone had a great week and see you next week.

Linking up with other families at:

Weekly Wrap-Up