Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 4 - Swimming, Office Work and Ancient Egyptian studies

So we headed back to the DC area this week.  I should say we are near DC, but have no intention on visiting there this trip.  We plan on exploring Annapolis next weekend though.

I am trying hard to stay on task and catch up on all the office work I am behind on.  It has been a challenge.  But I know I can get caught up.

I had a few down days as we had some autism issues that emphasize to me how different the kids are currently from other.  Not all the kids were having issues, it was mainly the boys.  They are growing into men's bodies and yet are really just young boys.  Some days it is hard to watch.  So we do celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

We are trying a different branch of the Marriott chain this week.  They have a nice pool.  It was so warm this past week, that I even swam a couple days!!

Our hotel is right by two very large city parks.  Need to get everyone out exercising.  So one day we took a long walk around the pond and to a play area.  It was very hot this week.

Brayden even swam...after two years of refusing to swim anywhere!  This was such a major accomplishment!!  I could not believe it.  He has been making some huge strides.

Daddy and Lydia working on her DK Computer lessons.

Brayden working on his schoolwork.  Yes, he does do word searches for schoolwork.  They are great hand-eye-brain therapy.

This week we started learning about Ancient Egypt.  We have started the Homeschool in the Woods Unit study (watch for our review in August for this product).

This week we learned about clothing and food, as well as started our timelines and map work.

The girls mad Egyptian princess wigs.

We have an Egyptian feast of cucumber slices, homemade pita bread, kofta, figs, hummus, cucumber yogurt sauce, and melon

The kids and I explored the mall across the street from the hotel.  We love book stores, and of course went to Barnes and Noble.  The kids had finished their Summer Reading Program and all picked out their free book.

On Friday we visited the Goddard Space Flight Center NASA.  We were not overly impressed.  The whole visit took roughly 45 minutes and that included picking out a magnet for our collection.  I was also upset by the volunteer at the desk that day.  She must have been having a bad day, but she irritated me and got our visit off on a bad start.

We learned a little more about the Hubble Telescope though.  I would not making a special trip to this area though if you have been to any other science museums.  You will be terribly disappointed like our kids were.

All the kids started some new books this week.  Some started next level spelling, others started new Geography books.  It was a start back for us using textbooks again.  Everyday is a new experience seeing what will work and what will not.

On Saturday, I spent the day uploading a new class and making our class list for the fall.  We were chilling since we planned on visiting Six Flags on Sunday to redeem our Read to Succeed tickets that the kids earned.

Hope everyone had a great week!!  See you next weekend!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Circle C Adventures - Tales from Circle C Ranch Book & Lapbook Review

We recently had the opportunity to try out a book series written by the talented Susan K. Marlow, called Thick as Thieves.  Well we had the privilege to try out another one of her adventure stories published by Circle C AdventuresTales from the Circle C Ranch ($7.99 plus 2.00 s/h) and also use the accompanying Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook ($7.00).  

Susan K. Marlow has hit the mark again.  She has created a series of short stories that are not only creative and fun to read, but also educational.  Tales from the Circle C Ranch is a collection of short stories where we get to read about Andi Carter's, but really learn more about her life.  This collection of stories was inspired by questions that were written in by readers wanting to know more about her.

In Tales from the Circle C Ranch you get to learn more about Andi's father, her friend Jenny Grant and so many other things.  This is a great book for readers as they transition from Circle C Beginnings and the Circle C Adventure series.  This title would be good for independent reading in Grades 4-5 and up.

We are near this stage for independent reading, but Lydia needed some help so we did these as a read together.  Lydia reminds me a lot of Andi.  She loves horses and would spend all the time she could with them if we owned horses.  In fact, I see that as a good reason to not get

We have been enjoying the Circle C Adventures series by Susan K. Marlow for a few months now, and Tales from the Circle C Ranch was not a disappointment.  We have been enjoying reading about Andi's adventures.  Whether it be arguing about wearing overalls or hiding a pet snake named Clyde, I have enjoyed this wholesome and clean reading materials which is so hard to find today.  These are stories that are short, so they keep Lydia's attention for read-alouds, and I am not afraid to let her read them on her own.  I know there is nothing that I would not want Lydia to be reading in the stories.

The accompanying lapbook, Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook that you can purchase has been created by  We have used several of their lapbooks and really enjoy the material and the presentation.  Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook has not been a disappointment.

This lapbook covers historical, geographical, poetry writing and scientific studies.  You and your children will be digging deeper into learning about life in the 1800s.  What was the clothing like and what were the stores like that you would've shopped in.  The history of Fireworks, snakes and weather such as blizzards are looked at.  The Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook helps your child get the most from the stories that they are reading.

Each topic has research material provided along with the components you need to create a lapbook.

 The research material that is provided to go along with each story really helps you to turn Tales from the Circle C Ranch into a unit study with the help of the  Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook.  Lydia is not a fan of cutting out lapbooks and completing them, but this is definitely worth the little bit extra because of the information provided.  All the work is done for me to really turn this book into several different school lessons.

Currently we are spending a couple days reading the story together from the Tales from the Circle C Ranch.  I usually have to limit read aloud time to around 20 minutes at a time due to attention span issues.  But then we spend time reading through the material that goes with the story then in the Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook.  This has allowed us to review material we have read in the past about the 1800s but also allowed us to learn more about a wide variety of other topics, all while reading about a girl who loves horses.  Currently the  Tales from the Circle C Ranch is one of Lydia's favorite books.

We can't wait to keep reading and also continue reading the Circle C Adventures books starring Andi Carter.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out both  Tales from the Circle C Ranch and the Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch lapbook.  Take some time to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see how they have been using these materials in their schools.
Dynamic Literacy Review
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media - SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers Review

Ok....we are a digital family.  We are very fortunate that each of our children have laptops for school and tablets to use for both play and school also.  We use media in all areas of our schooling.  Sometimes though it's hard to find documentaries and materials that are age appropriate and educational.  We recently had the opportunity to review SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media, Inc.

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers has videos appropriate for all ages.  There are no advertisements and pop-ups that you need to worry about.

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers gives your family access to over 1,000 educational videos including math, science, geography, interactive e-books, interactive study guides, fitness & health videos, and fine arts music.  You can watch them from any device also, so iPads, laptops, desktops, and other tablets can be used.

When I first logged into SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers, I was absolutely amazed!  I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from the video quality considering how many options there were for us to watch.  I to be honest was very worried about the material that would be presented.  Would it be good quality or would the filming be done poorly and the material too boring to keep the kids attention?
I was not disappointed.  It didn't take long for me to see how much of a great resource that SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers was going to be for our school.  

The selection of videos is overwhelming.  There are so many nature videos, that we can watch videos on breaks all the time!  Recently several age appropriate historical videos have been added.  This is one area where we have to be so careful while watching cable channel documentaries that were specifically written for adults.  I don't have to worry while using SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers because the videos are there for all ages.

We have been using the fitness videos both as a family during our gym time, but I am also using them to help strengthen my own exercise routine.  The Pilates series is wonderful and I am enjoying using them a lot.

The Mighty eBook selection has been great for Caty.  She can watch videos of cute books and I really liked that many of them had the words highlighted as they were being read to her.  She really likes the science series with Pexi.

The Special Needs Children section has books to help special needs kiddos see and understand what life is doing around them.  There are books on money, personal hygiene skills and life skills such as riding public transportation.

All the kids have enjoyed playing in the Fun Zone.  There are games and puzzles that they can earn extra time playing on.  The puzzles were easy enough for Caty to do, which meant less frustration.

I love that there are no advertisements.  We all use other media services that offer educational videos, and the one in particular uses a lot of advertisements.  Well, sometimes underwear ads are just not appropriate.  I didn't have to worry about a commercial being shown while the kids were watching SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers because there were none!!!

My biggest loss when using SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers was not having a way to search through the videos without scanning through every section.  This was a bit tedious when I many times look for videos on specific subject material that we are studying.  I am getting more acquainted with videos under the various categories, but a way to search through all the titles would be a great feature.

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers has been a great addition to our home.  We are going to continue using it, and the cost is very affordable.  For unlimited streaming, $10.00 a month or $99.00 a year.  A great price when you figure it down over 4 kids and the number of videos I don't have to worry about returning to the library.  If you are not sure yet, you can sign up for a 14 day free trial to look and see how your family will like SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media, Inc.  If  you are still not sure, see how they used this program in their homes with their families.

SmartKidz Media Review

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Week 3 - Packing, Laptop Crash and Foraging

We sort of had last week off from school.  The main thing they had to do was keep up on the summer reading program.  They earned lots of tickets.  I had so much to do trying to get ready for our next trip, that I gave up sitting and doing table lessons.

But we did do some DIY projects. The kids made homemade yeast bread.  It smelled amazing in our house.

 Another DIY project was making a theme dessert.  They made green jello and made creeper heads.

We went to the curriculum sale one day.  I sold a bunch, but have a bunch more to get rid of.

On Monday we had a field trip to a local goat farm that we love to buy cheese from.  It was a lot of fun!

The girls made rice krispie treats one day also.

We also went on a foraging trip.  A friend of mine is an expert in this area.  She did such a great job.  We ate cattail, wild grape, clover buds, horseradish root and plantain.  Can't wait until we get to go back in July!!  We cooked it all up with her help and all sampled.  The kids all were sports and tried what we picked and cooked up.

Brayden cleaning wild grape leaves, and yes he ate one.  Watch for my blog post coming next week about this adventure!

My laptop crashed last week, which put me even further behind than I already.   We managed to get a great deal on a replacement for me, and now I need to catch up on blog posts and finding all my pictures.  Fortunately Joe was able to get all my info from the other laptop!!

That was pretty much our week.  Lots of laundry, cleaning, watering, and packing.  Watch for what we are up to next week.  We start back to regular book work and projects next week.