Saturday, February 27, 2016

Week 39 - Colonial America, 4H Season Begins, and New Art

Well the kids thought I killed them this week.  They had a full 5 day week.  I want to take a little time off in April, and they are moving so well in their books that I think it's a good idea to do that.  Now, 5 days a week 3-4 hours a day....that is not killing them.  But since we are going to be home for a few weeks it makes sense to do it this way.

The girls finished up their first book in the Sassafrass Science Series, Zoology book 1.  This week we learned about oceans.

They made charts showing the layers of the ocean.

 Our experiment this week was to see how fish scales work.  The book suggested using a doll's hair.  When a doll's hair is in water it moves freely.

 But out of water it is hard to separate and lays flat.  That is how a fish feels out of water.  It needs the water for it's scales to work properly.
 We added these two books on whales and tide pools to our reading list.
  They have loved this series and we are starting Book 2 - Anatomy next week.

This week the girls started an online live art class.  I decided gymnastics was too much on me, so taking a session off.  They can take this class at home with the webcam.  They have class on separate days.  So that is nice too.  This is Lydia working on her sketch.

Here is Caty in her session.  They both really liked this and we may continue on through next session.

This week in History we learned more about life in Colonial America.  Each of the kids created their own colony.  They had to name it, make laws in it and create a flag for it.  Some of the kids even built their "capital city" in Minecraft.  We watched this video on Colonial American Values I found in Amazon.  I really like these New Dimension films.  They are included in Prime subscriptions.

Caty made Rainbow Land.

Lydia created a Horse Refuge near Chincoteague Island.  This is a beach sunset on her flag.
 Joey made like a patchwork design for his farming colony.
Brayden chose to not make a full flag.  He hates art in any form.  The laws they created were interesting.

Lydia finally has picked out her project list for 4H this year.  I took her to briefly look at the project books.  I had to cut her off.  There's only so much time to do projects and actually learn something from them.  She already has 1 project to finish up.  It was a two-year project she started last year on Animals.  It's the first level Zoology project.  So we have been working on that.  This week she learned about animals and germs that vets need to watch for.  We used the Glow-Germ Kit to simulate germs on our hands.  It was an eye opener for them.

She also almost finished her Quick Breads Project book.  This week she made cinnamon bread.  Again, so proud that when she can concentrate, I literally need to do nothing!!
 The boys and Caty thought it was great.  She is getting good with the new KitchenAid mixer.  Now we need to start working on completely cleaning up after ourselves in the kitchen.

We had a 4H meeting this week.  In Cloverbuds we learned about germs and did the GlowGerm kit that I got for Lydia's project book.  The kids thought it was a great project.  We talked about how fast germs can spread.  They also played a "get-to-know-you" game.  They rolled dice and had to answer questions.  I was so proud of Caty being able to read the dice when it was her turn.

Brayden finished up his Ohio History this week.  He is having issues with obsessing over a video game right now.  So I am working on pulling those privileges.

Caty is working on her reading and spelling as a combined subject at the moment.  She has been working with Logics of English Foundations B.  She has been enjoying it.  But loves that she can spell out her words with these letters.  She doesn't mind writing, but struggles with it.  It's hard to do when you have certain processing issues.

Caty also flew through two math lessons this week.  So I made some adjustments in her lesson plans for next week already.  She is liking what we have switched her too.  I am giving it a few more weeks to see how this momentum continues.

Lydia is doing well in her math also.  Watch for our review on Math-U-See Delta Digital Pack coming next month.

Joey is laying rather low this week.  Getting his work done and hoping I am not realizing how much he is playing his new favorite game.  Yeah....whatever he wants to believe. Of course I know.  But if he is getting his other chores and work done, I'll let it slide right now.

All-in-all, it was a busy week for me.  Health was up and down, but I am very happy with all the work they accomplished.  Hope everyone had a great week!  See you next weekend!

Linking up with other moms at:
Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, February 25, 2016 Pro Plan Review

I will admit that when I am putting curriculum together, I really try to find as many online resources as I can.  It saves me time, and yet still allows me to customize the kid's education as much as possible to their need.  As the boys get older, it's getting harder since their work is getting more advanced.  Recently we had the opportunity to try out the Pro Plan program from ($24.95). provides educators and parents with extra educational resources in a wide variety of subjects including social studies, language arts, life skills, art, math, study skills, and even science.  Grade levels from early learning (PK) through Grade 12 are included.  These resources range from printable pre-made worksheets and practice skills through a test creator to create challenging questions from your own made unit studies or those that you have that do not contain quizzes and tests.  There is also a section to create your own word searches and various other printable games to make learning more fun. also have a great support section to help parents write their own tests and customize them to provide a challenge to all the different educational levels of their kids.  In this area there are also wonderful blogs posts to help parents with the many areas that they may be struggling in during their homeschooling journey.  These topics range from sports and other extra curricular activities, legalities of homeschooling, best free educational sites, reading lists, computer science activities, and even how to promote self-learning into adulthood. does offer materials for some printables at no charge.  But their Pro Plan opens up all levels and printables for grade PK through grade 12.

The Pro Plan also allows you to save tests and worksheets that you create in your content area for future reference.  Also just to let you know, you are not left hanging on answer sheets.  I know science isn't my greatest subject, and I to be honest never had to take some of the higher level sciences that are now required by high schools.  So as I am looking over Joey's science, I am usually secretly hoping he is not going to ask me any questions because I don't know if I can explain it.  On the premade quizzes and tests, an answer key is provided so I don't have to guess or do a bunch of research to make sure he is answering properly.

I was very impressed by the amount of topics that are covered on the website.  The Physical Education areas cover topics from nutrition and muscles to the rules of games like badminton, softball, basketball, and even soccer.   The Arts covers drawing basics, photography, theater, and architecture.  Life Skills including banking, credit cards, budgeting, safety, and employment skills are also included.  These are areas that are sometimes pushed aside and forgotten about or not considered as important as math, reading and science.  Homeschool parents can easily look over this material and cover it with their children and reinforce what they have learned with easy to print worksheets and lessons.

But it's not just worksheets and printables, provides self-learning in many subject areas with explanations and videos for a child to watch for further help.  This provides different learning styles with the right teaching method.  They provide these lessons in Language Arts, Math and even Science.

We used the upper middle and high school level material.  Mainly in science and language arts.  I was able sit down with Joey and match up his science lesson with something he was struggling in his book with.  We could read the provided lesson and watch the video explanation.  Then practice questions were provided to reinforce the information that we had just went through.  Extra video material was provided if extra help was needed, and then the premade online tests/quizzes usually were directly linked into that lesson.  It was easy to use and I was able to print results for his academic portfolio.

The amount of materials that provides at no charge is amazing.  So why purchase the Pro Plan?  The Pro Plan provides some extra benefits for that busy homeschool parent who is teaching multiple levels.  It gives it access to many more materials at all the various levels of worksheets and lessons.  You have access to unlimited materials that you can either make yourself or premade materials.  The amount of material provided for only $24.95 a year is pretty amazing.  That is also a family price, that is not the cost per student.  

Many of the lessons for are linked to Common Core standards if you are interested or required to use those materials.  Though I am not a fan of Common Core, I did not see any materials that I would not have used or anything different than our non-Common Core curriculum.  So I only mention that in case it is something that you may be required to use.

I plan on keeping this as part of our Homeschool budget as I start using more and more of the materials to match along with their 4H project books as we go through those also.  The Pro Plan from is a great addition to our homeschool.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out the Pro Plan from  You can see how they used this in their homes by visiting the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.  

HelpTeaching Review
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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Week 38 - Back at Home, Back to Normal - Is there Normal?

Well we are back home, for a few weeks.  It was definitely a change and an adjustment this time.  I am not sure why.  But at one point I ordered a book for Joey and had to second guess the shipping options because I couldn't remember where I was.  It has been a long week and exhaustion has been the rule of my week.  I am trying, but my body is fighting to keep from getting a cold that seems to be going around.  I have even suffered a few minor reactions that have made me miserable.  Of course, the eating of bread this week (Even though homemade and gluten free) was probably not the best choice.  I do seem to do better on the Whole30 option of food.  So I think I will keep that up.

Joe bought me a Fit Bit but I never got to really use it like I wanted to because of all the weirdness in my body this week.  So annoying.  But it did confirm my suspicions about my restless sleep patterns.

I have been more conscious of increasing my activity.  I second guess myself every time I try to take the lazy way out.

My mom is in the hospital.  So we are stressing a bit about what is going to happen with Grandma.  She has a severe infection in her knee replacement.  It's been 5 years, and apparently it can re-occur at anytime and with no warning.  It's going to be a long road for her.

In the girls science this week, we visited the Arctic.  We watched several videos about animals like the musk ox, snow goose, polar bear and even a mountain goat.  The Sassafrass twins were in Alaska.  For our experiments, we did one on blubber and also made polar bear fur.

In this experiment the girls learned about how a polar bear's fur is hollow and their skin is black.

They used a flashlight to see how the light is absorbed and reflected.

In this experiment they used good old fashioned Crisco like it was blubber.  The gallon baggie was filled up and then they put their hand in another baggie and stuck it into the Crisco.  They then put the whole hand into a bucket of ice water.  They timed how long it was before they felt the cold.

We do this experiment every time we learned about the Arctic.  They love doing it.

We have been rather behind on art class.  So I made sure to get something in this week.  They did this project from Deep Space Sparkle.

We started watching Liberty's Kids this week.  We have spent a couple weeks learning about the Colonies and since there are 40 episodes, we are starting to watch prior to us actually starting that part of our History.  Plus I needed a bit of ease back into life at home.  What better way than to cover some History than watching Liberty's Kids.  Next week we will be starting with a fun project.

The girls both started in their new Math series.  They both have started Math U See.  Caty is in Gamma and Lydia is in Delta.  Watch for the upcoming review we will be doing for the new Online classes that Math U See is now offering.  Caty loved the new blocks a lot!!

We went to the library last Saturday and the girls stocked up on books.  I found a few winter titles for Caty to read, since we barely have had a winter.  I thought she would enjoy reading them since we were learning about Arctic animals this week.  I took advantage of that time to learn more about the Antarctic region also.  So we read Ice Is Nice from the Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That series and also watched that episode.

We worked on Snowflakes and other little projects from the book Snow Shapes.  She didn't really enjoy that.  Not sure why.  Maybe next year.

The girls also watched the Magic School Bus video on the Arctic.  Caty likes to drag out the blocks while watching movies.  She does her building then.

Caty started using a new reading program this week, Logic of English Foundations B.  I was nervous, but she did wonderfully.  I was amazed at her spelling skills considering the fight that we have had the last year over reading.  Watch for our review next month!

I believe that Lydia is enjoying her new math series.  She is reading like crazy.  I have to cut her off sometimes, because all she wants to do is read her chapter books and she doesn't get to her schoolwork.

This week Lydia continued her 4H Quick Breads book.  She made pumpkin bread.  It was a hit!  She loves our new mixer that my parents gave me for an early anniversary present.

We will be adding 4H projects as the kids are picking them for this year.  We may make a trip over to the office and look at a few more books before they completely decide.

The boys are missing a lot of assignments, so I need to watch them carefully this week.  I am going to set times for them to follow.  I was so upset with Brayden that I pulled money from "account".  He admitted to not doing any of his reading all week.  So I pulled $2.00 from the reading money he had earned.  That may wake him up some.  We'll see this next week.

Brayden is almost finished with his Ohio History.  Joey is almost finished with his American Government, and half way finished with his Creative Electives 3D Modeling class.  That's two electives down...and many more to

I am going to keep on pushing my immune system harder.  I am struggling...not getting as sick as my hubby and the gets got it....but still struggling with stuffiness and sinus issues.  I will keep on with my Vitamin C attack approach.  My body is already screaming about sleep.  The Fitbit is telling me how many times a night that I wake up.  I am averaging 8 - 11 times a night.  Go figure!  I also been using thieves since I am out of collidol silver.

I am excited about a few of our projects next week.  I just hope the kids feel the same way!

Hope everyone had a wonderful week!!!  Watch our Facebook page for helpful homeschooling links and news articles.  I am trying to share more about the daily struggles we all are experiencing!

See you next weekend!!

Weekly Wrap-Up