Wednesday, December 25, 2013

DDP #24 - Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco
There's still plenty of snow on the ground, so the birds are still very active at our feeders. This pretty junco came quite near the back door before perching on top of the swing set.

And that concludes this year's December Photo Project.
Happy picture taking!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Home School Grades Giveaway WINNER

We went old school with this giveaway.

Miss M picked a winner from her Christmas stocking.

And our winner is:  Mira!

Mira said if she wins she's going to give the subscription to her sister-in-law who has two high school students she needs to track grades for.

Congratulations and Merry Christmas to Mira and her SIL!

For those of you who didn't win, I know of one other giveaway still open at MedinaMom.

Or you could still get 15% off a recurring membership
through December 31, 2013!
(click the image above)

Wishing all of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS

Monday, December 23, 2013

DPP #23 - New Flannel Robe

New Flannel Robe

The kids grew out of the robes I made them a couple years ago. So I let them pick some flannel from my stash for new ones. Little Guy picked this pretty toadstool fabric for his.  Oh, but he wanted the belt on his head instead of around his waist!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

DPP #22 - Cardinals in Flight

Cardinals in Flight

When snow covers the ground, the winter birds all jostle for a position at the feeders.  I just love the cardinals!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

DPP #21 - Gingerbread Campsite

Gingerbread Campsite
My sister and her husband came to visit. While I was taking a much needed nap, they decorated gingerbread houses (okay, fine, graham cracker houses) with the kids. My sister made this adorable campsite. The "fire" is an orange gusher split open and filled with yellow and orange sprinkles. Isn't it cute?!

Friday, December 20, 2013

DPP #20 - All Askew

All Askew
It was the kind of day that no matter what I did I wasn't able to get ahead of the mess. Interruptions. Bad attitudes. Bank fraud. Tantrums (and not just the kids').  I didn't manage to pick up my camera today, but I shot this picture in Kansas City last week and it seemed appropriate for today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DPP #19 - My First Button Placket

My First Button Placket

I've never made this kind of button placket before. It's not perfect, but pretty good for a first attempt! I was worried I wouldn't be able to wrap my brain around it (especially so late in the day), but I did!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DDP #18 - Wheatgrass

I love growing a dish of wheatgrass in the bleak winter months!  It's so cold and dreary outside, but the lovely growing green is nice and cheery in the corner of my kitchen!
(Bonus: the kids get to learn about roots, seeds, and stems!)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

DDP #17 - Working on Pajamas

Working on Pajamas
The kids decided they needed flannel pajamas and new robes, so I broke out the Ottobre patterns and went to work. (Of course there will be more pictures later!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

DDP #16 - Real-life Platforming Game

Real-life Platforming Game
The kids love to go to the park and "play platforming" on the bleacher seats.

And a bonus picture today:

Platforming in Action

DDP #15 - Winter Sunset

Winter Sunset

I snapped this shot out the window of the moving car (I wasn't driving!) on our way to church tonight.  Isn't it beautiful!?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

DDP #14 - Butterhenge

I spent the whole day with my stepsister baking Christmas cookies! We probably used 5 lbs of butter!  About halfway through we built this buttery replica of Stonehenge!

Friday, December 13, 2013

DPP #13 - At the Ballet

At the Ballet
This was the only picture I got before they said no photography. We had excellent seats front and center on the Mezzanine Level for a student matinee of the Kansas City Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker today!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

DPP #12 - The Treasure is a Key

The Treasure is a Key

People wanted to know what was in the treasure chest I posted yesterday, so here it is! A key!  What does the key open? I'm sorry, dear readers, but that must remain a mystery.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DPP #11 - Treasure Chest

Treasure Chest
This little treasure chest is perfect for inspiring imagination. My kids love it. I love it. It's always got a place of honor among our other knick knacks!

DPP #10 - Carolers

I haven't had my little carolers out in a few years because the kids were so small and there wasn't a good place to set them up. But this year I got them out!  Aren't they darling?

DPP #9 - Tiny Baby Jesus

Tiny Baby Jesus
Baby Jesus is only about a centimeter tall! The printable is from Made by Joel.  Cute, no?
This is from two days ago…but I kind of fell asleep two nights in a row before getting my posts up!  Oops!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DPP #8 - Out the Window

Out the Window
My three lovelies looking at the accumulating snow lit by colorful Christmas lights.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

DPP #7 - A Little Tree for a Cramped Space

A Little Tree for a Cramped Space
We cut our tree this morning and the kids decorated it this evening. I tried some manual settings on my camera and this is what I got!

Friday, December 6, 2013

{Giveaway} One Year of My Home School Grades - ENDED

 {This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Honesty Policy for more details.} 

Since I first reviewed My Home School Grades back in May, there have been a truckload of expansions and improvements to the program!

You can now print attendance reports and keep an academic calendar. Among many, many other things!

They've also updated their pricing plan.
  • Monthly: $4.99 per month (billed each month)
  • Semi-Annually: $3.99 per month (billed every six months at $23.94)
  • Annually: $2.99 per month (billed every 12 months at $35.88)
  • Lifetime membership: $149.99
Right now you can get 15% off a recurring membership
through December 31, 2013!

Click the image above to take advantage of this discount!

As always, you can use My Home School Grades for as many students as you have.

A subscription to My Home School Grades would be a marvelous Christmas present for any home school family of your acquaintance! 

Now here's the best part

(at least for me!)

I get to give away a one year subscription of
My Home School Grades!

(This is my first giveaway and I'm over the moon about it!)

Just leave a comment on this post and I'll pick one lucky winner on Christmas Eve!
I'll pick a winner about 10 p.m. Central Time on December 24, 2013.

When you leave a comment,
please give me a way to contact you! 
"Anonymous" won't be able to win. Sorry!

The giveaway has ended.
Congratulations to our winner, Mira!

DPP #6 - Winter Evening Sky

Winter Evening Sky
Today's high was 16 degrees.
It may still look like autumn out there,
but it's most definitely wintertime now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

DPP #5 - Snow Castles

Snow Castles
We received an unexpected dusting of snow overnight.
So today the kids bundled up and built castles in the snow!

{Book} Review: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

This time of year many people begin to celebrate the Advent of the Christ.  My kids love the activities, the calendar, the Christmas books, and the pageantry of it all. But yesterday I asked them why we celebrate Advent. Why is Christmas different from any other famous person's birthday? And what was the message the angels gave to the shepherds anyway?

Our celebration of Advent is the simulation of the waiting, the longing for, the intense anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.  Christmas is more than just "Happy Birthday, Jesus." It's the fulfillment of that long-ago promise by God to send the Seed, a Savior to the world.  The angels didn't say, "Dudes, check out the cute tyke that was born tonight!"  No, they announced:

Unto you is born this day
a Savior,
the Messiah,
the Lord!

Babies are born every day of the year, but this was a special birth. This was the birth of the long-awaited Seed promised to Adam, the Messiah who came to save mankind from sin and death.

And this is what A Tale of Two Kingdoms is about.  It is an overview of Scripture that presents a Christ-centered storyline from Genesis to Revelation.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

We live in a sound-bite world.  But when Christianity is reduced to sound bites, it leaves a lot to be desired.  Those who wish to know what the Bible is all about are left lacking understanding by the oft quoted one-liners and trite excerpts often presented to them.  What we need is a solid overview of the entire Bible.  And that is exactly what Heather A. Kendall gives us in A Tale of Two Kingdoms.

She believes, and I concur, that one of the first steps of discipleship after salvation should be an understanding of the big picture in the Bible.  First take a fly-over view of the forest before diving into a study of the individual trees that a topical study or study of individual books of the Bible would give you.  This is a wise approach because it gives you a proper framework for hanging up the important details of daily Christian living.

A Tale of Two Kingdoms
Author: Heather A. Kendall
ISBN: 978-1554520046
Publisher: Guardian Books, an imprint of Essence Publishing
Price: $23 with free shipping from the author or $18.86 from Amazon.
Also available for Kindle
Sample pages

The book's purpose is:
  • to trace the development of God's plan of salvation through Jesus, the promised Seed, from its beginning to its triumphant end in the new heaven and new earth.
  • to consider how Satan has continually tried to thwart God's plan of salvation, but he will never succeed.

God's Unfolding Story of Salvation

While it doesn't exactly go hand-in-hand with A Tale of Two Kingdoms, Heather's other book God's Unfolding Story of Salvation is in one sense the same book as A Tale of Two Kingdoms, but reworked into an interactive Bible study format.  Instead of presenting the text to you as a read-through, it is presented in the form of 38 lessons with passages of Scripture to read, questions to answer, and a summary that faithfully leads you through the storyline of the Bible.  This would be an excellent format for a group Bible study for teens or adults seeking to understand the Bible in its entirety.  I wouldn't recommend sitting down to study with both books, because they don't align with each other in a recognizable way.  But both are excellent in their own right.  And a separate reading of A Tale of Two Kingdoms would certainly inform and enliven a study of God's Unfolding Story of Salvation!

God's Unfolding Story of Salvation: The Christ-Centered Biblical Storyline
Author: Heather A. Kendall
ISBN: 978-1620320464
Publisher: Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers
Price: $22 with free shipping from the author or $20.70 from Amazon
Sample pages

You may ask why you should read one of these books when you can just study the Bible?  Honestly, you should do both.  But the Bible is big. And there are a lot of "begats" that can really bog down your reading.  In order to really get an aerial view of the Bible, you have to cut out some of the fat and get down to the bones.  Heather has done that for you in these two books.  Just like you may use a timeline to get a sense of where historical figures and events fit into history, you need a storyline for God's story, the Bible.  Once you have built an understanding of the bones of God's story, you can take a closer look at some of the details with some of the other Bible studies out there.

What I Loved

I loved that both books are Christ-centered. So many Bible studies out there today are self-centered focusing on personal application rather than focusing on the amazing story of redemption that is woven throughout Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.  Rather than glorifying women or faith or blessings, Heather's books glorify God and are doctrinally sound.  Because of that, I can recommend them without reservation!

Either of these books would make excellent addition to your celebration of Advent this season or a Christmas present for any young believer or mature saint in your life.  Or it might be your New Year's resolution (perhaps to go along with your Bible-in-a-year reading plan?) to gain a more aerial understanding of the message of the Bible.

Check out my honesty policy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DPP #4 - Lalaloopsy on a Lamp

Lalaloopsy on a Lamp
We spent most of the day cleaning the kids' room, so it seemed fitting that today's photo be of this sweet girl perched in a place of honor in the girlie's space.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DPP #3 - A frog with a saxophone

A frog with a saxophone.
This silly fellow graces our living room.
Wouldn't he look smart in a Santa hat?

Monday, December 2, 2013

DPP #2 - Sheep Bell

Brass Sheep Bell

I have a string of eight of these hanging on the inside of the front door this time of year. They're so festive and cheerful sounding every time someone goes in or out of the door!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Photo Project 2013

My poor little blog has been sadly neglected these past few months. I very much needed the break from it, but now I'm back and ready to breathe some new life into it.  Lucky for me, it's time for this year's December Photo Project!  Each day through Christmas I will be posting a picture I've taken along with a simple description. Feel free to join in the fun on your blog, on Facebook, or on Flickr.  Anyone can sign up!

To kick off the project, here is my first photo:

Relighting a Candle

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

{Book} Review: A Light for My Path

Okay, let's cut to the chase on this one.
This book is AWESOME!
I love it.
You will too.
So go buy it!
The end.

What? You think I should tell you why it's so awesome?

Okay, fine.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

It's based on Scripture.

It has the most gorgeous illustrations. I'm a total sucker for books with excellent artwork.

It is meant to be shared by parent and child. Cuddle time!

It helps little kids learn their ABCs.

Each page has a picture of God's creation that begins with the letter featured on that page.

The name of the plant or animal pictured does not appear anywhere on the page, leaving room for the reader's intelligence. I've been known to hug books that treat their readers as intelligent beings.

The creature from the previous page can be seen in the background of the next page. I adore details like that!

It helps kids identify both the capital and lowercase forms of each letter.  That's an important pre-reading skill!

It teaches love for God's Word to those who read it, especially children!

It repeats the words: "God's Word, law, statutes, decrees, commands, and precepts" over and over. This helps kids remember that any one of these terms can be used to refer to Scripture.

Learning to love God's written words will lead children and adults alike to fall in love with the living Word, God's only Son, Jesus Christ.

It lists 26 attributes of the Word of God in alphabetical order. Be still my OCD heart.

It introduces the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet using Psalm 119.  Since much of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, this could give my kids a special connection to the text.

It includes all 176 verses of Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible!) in a translation that uses a sentence structure and vocabulary that native English speakers of all ages can understand. (It's the NIV ©1984, in case you're wondering.)

Need I go on?

A Light for My Path -- An ABC Book Based on Psalm 119
Written by Davis Carman
Illustrated by Alice Ratterree
Published by Apologia Press
ISBN: 978-1-940110-03-5
Price: $14.00
Sample pages

I'm not the only one who likes this book.  Miss M has been seen carrying it off to her favorite reading spots several times.  She has also read it aloud to me while I do housework a handful of times.  A book that gets read is, in my estimation, a success!!

Check out my honesty policy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: iTooch educational apps

Many families are discovering the value of allowing their kids to play educational apps on their smartphones or tablets.  We don't have any such device, but sometimes the kids play on their Nana's iPad or their Lola's Android tablet.

When the call went out to the Mosaic Reviews team members for volunteers to review iTooch apps, I raised my virtual hand and borrowed a tablet to give it a try.

iTooch apps are put out by EduPad, a France-based company whose mission is to put out the best educational apps "based on the US National Common Core Standards" for elementary and middle school students.  Their apps are available on iOS, Windows 8, and now on Android devices too!

We downloaded the free 3rd Gr Language Arts, Music, and TOEFL apps from the Google Play Store. I would really have liked to try the 3rd Gr Math, but it would not download/install, so I gave up.  As far as I understand it, the free apps have limited content, while the full versions (most priced at about $5) cover a lot more material.

As Miss M and I worked through some of the questions, we were at times frustrated by not knowing what we were supposed to do to answer the question.  There were no instructions about what to type or where to click.  Though we were able to figure out most of it, a little beginning tutorial would be nice. 

Miss M enjoys most games and had a pleasant time with the 3rd Gr Language Arts and Music apps, but she didn't seem particularly engaged, nor do I think she learned anything she hadn't already known well. 

I spent the most time in the TOEFL Prep app.  TOEFL (typically pronounced TOE-full) is the Test of English as a Foreign Language.  Many universities require TOEFL scores be submitted by applicants for whom English is not their native tongue or who did not attend a secondary school conducted in English.  Since I have taken TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) classes in the past, this is something that interested me.

I was excited to see a Listening section where you could hear samples of native speakers of English saying things you'd encounter in every day conversations.  I was bothered, however, by some of the questions.  For example, they misidentified some of the stressed words.

In all the apps we used, I did not feel there was much instruction happening.  I'd have liked to see an interactive "teaching" section followed by the questions and test sections.  The apps mainly seemed to be a series of random questions that would be useful for review, but do not do much in the way of teaching.  In other words, if you're looking for a way for your kids to review material they already know, iTooch is great!

Miss M and I both loved the cute little iTooch character cheering you on with every new page.  His various costumes and antics were amusing and added a great deal of lovableness to the apps!

If you're looking for an educational app to keep your kiddos busy and help them review, try searching for iTooch in your app store and find out if it is a good fit for your family!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: Math Mammoth

After having been homeschooled through early elementary, my mom put me in public school in the 5th grade.  The school, not having any academic history for me, randomly placed me in the highest level math class (and the lowest level English class).  The first day of class we were given timed tests: 5 minutes to complete a page of 100 addition problems.  Then subtraction.  Then multiplication.  By then I was getting in over my head.  I understood that multiplication was essentially a form of addition, so I started frantically making hash marks to count up to the answers.  I didn't finish my 100 problems, but I struggled through the 5 minutes and did the best I could.  Next we were given a page of 100 division problems.  By this time I was completely overwhelmed and burst into tears.  The teacher gently ushered me next door to the lowest level math class where I spent the rest of the year, cheerfully using my multiplication cheat sheet that was taped to the inside cover of my math book and earning tickets for Mrs. Dasenbrock's Jello Jigglers.

When I was given the opportunity to review some products from Math Mammoth, I was glad, but not overly excited.  Miss M was about to move from two digit addition and subtraction into multiplication and I figured I could use an extra resource in my arsenal.

I picked out four worktexts from the Math Mammoth Blue Series by Maria Miller: Add & Subtract 3, Multiplication 1, Clock, and U.S. Money.  Each book in the Blue Series covers a mathematical topic that is not divided up into grade levels.  For example, Clock covers all the time telling information typically presented in 1st-3rd grades in one 78-page book.  A worktext is a book that includes textbook instruction alongside problems to be solved so you do not need a separate teacher's manual.  It is perfect for review, remedial work, or just an in-depth study of a given area.

What's so great about it?

When I started looking through Multiplication 1 I got pretty excited!  Here was a book that not only presented the concept of multiplication from the ground up, but explained that concept from a variety of perspectives to give the student a truly comprehensive grasp of the idea.

Multiplication as addition.
Multiplication as a number of equal groups.
Multiplication as an array.
Multiplication on a number line.

If one perspective didn't click with a student, there were still several other ways of explaining the idea to her!  Each lesson also included a variety of problems to solve so Miss M didn't get bored with one problem type repeated over and over across the page.

Then, moving beyond the concept of what multiplication is, Maria Miller has created a systematic approach to memorizing the times tables.  This is hugely important!  Until basic math facts are memorized, a student is handicapped and hard-pressed to move on in the world of mathematics.  Miss M is in the process of memorizing the multiplication facts through "structured drilling," a process Maria Miller describes in this YouTube video.

Multiplication 1 also introduces the Order of Operations in a way that is easy to understand and makes sense.

We have nearly completed Multiplication 1 and Miss M has a much stronger grasp of what multiplication means and how to solve a word problem that uses a combination of multiplication and addition or subtraction.  Once we finish this book, we will return to our regularly scheduled math curriculum with confidence that multiplication is something that can be easily conquered!

How we used it

You can purchase Math Mammoth books in electronic form as PDF downloads or in a printed book format.  Though I generally prefer to have a textbook in a bound format, I actually enjoyed being able to print off the pages I needed for Miss M and put them in her workbox for that day.

We then hole-punched them and filed them away in her 2nd grade notebook under the "math" tab.  She likes seeing her work collected into one place where she can thumb through and recall all the things she's learned.

Also from Math Mammoth

  • Blue Series: worktexts arranged by topic for grades 1-7, prices range from $2-7 to download
  • Light Blue Series: a full year curriculum for grades 1-6, $34 to download
  • Golden Series: workbooks arranged by grade without instruction for grades 3-8, $6-9 and answer keys for $2
  • Green Series: books arranged by topic without instruction for grades 3-7, $5.50 each to download
  • Make It Real Learning Series: math problems taken from real life (i.e. choosing a cell phone plan using real data) for grades 3-12, $4.99 each to download
If you are still confused about the different series that Math Mammoth offers, you can sign up for a 7-day email tutorial. Each day for a week you'll get an email that describes the differences plus 300 free worksheets

Doing Math Mammoth Multiplication 1 outside in the hammock!

I'm determined my kids won't slide through their math lessons without learning their math facts the way I did in Mrs. Dasenbrock's 5th grade math class.  Excellent resources like Math Mammoth are there to be sure I can make that happen!  Math can be both fun and rigorous!

Check out my honesty policy.