Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Home School in the Woods - Great Empires (Schoolhouse Review)

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I've been so lucky to be exposed to new companies that provide fantastic products to the homeschool community.  This time, I was introduced to Home School in the Woods.



Amy Pak started the company in order to help other homeschooling families teach history in a fun and engaging way with hands-on activities.  Think timelines, lapbooks, games, cooking and crafts.  What better way to make history come alive?

I was afforded the opportunity to try out the activity study Great Empires, which is a study of fourteen different empires for elementary students.  Some of the empires are Ancient China, Ancient Rome and United States of America.  You can check out the full list on the website.  We have only done history as it relates to holidays, so I thought this would be a good introduction into world history and perhaps spark an interest in my 6 year old.




We received the download version ($18.95), but it is also available on CD ($19.95) as well.  Once I downloaded the pack, I set to work browsing through the vast amount of resources.  Although there are a lot of individual PDF files, everything was categorized into folders for me!  It was very organized and it was easy to navigate and find what I needed.



How to Use the Study

The beauty of this product...there is no right or wrong way to use it!  Here are just a few options for using this study:
  • study Empires in chronological order
  • Pick the Empires that interest your students
  • Complete the units as-is in just a few days for a quick overview of the Empires
  • Use it as a supplement to your current curriculum
  • Use as a starting point to make a comprehensive, detailed unit study

Since we've never done a formal history curriculum before, I decided we would spread this out over the spring and summer for a nice overview of world history, studying one empire for several weeks, allowing us to go in-depth where we wanted.

So just to give you an idea, for Ancient Egypt, I first gathered my resources.  Then I went over the Text Pages.  Some if it was a bit detailed for my 6 year old.  There were a lot of names and dates crammed into two pages, so I found myself summarizing frequently so I didn't lose his attention.

However, I liked having a nice overview right in front of me to reference.

One of the topics covered is hieroglyphs, and there are directions for making a cartouche with hieroglyphics on it.  Let me tell you, hieroglyphs are like "secret code" to a 6 year old boy!  He also loves helping in the kitchen, so the recipes are a great activity for us.  For Egypt, we made Lemon & Garlic Potato Salad as a side dish for dinner one night.  (This is not a typical potato salad by the way; there are no eggs for this egg-despising mama!)  Another topic discussed was the pyramids, and he was inspired to build his own pyramid out of Lego bricks!  I love that he was interested enough to explore the topics on his own.  We read books.  We watched movies.  We had fun!

The Great Empires study covers a wide range of time periods and geographical areas, so it could also be used as a supplement to other studies.  I am planning to save the English Empire for this fall when we start studying England as part of our curriculum, because 'Who's Who in English History' and the other activities will be a great addition to our studies.



Final Thoughts

We have enjoyed Great Empires.  I wouldn't consider this a comprehensive curriculum in itself if used as-is.  It's more like a great supplement   However, the book & internet suggestions help round it out to make it an excellent overview for elementary students.  The projects are the heart of the unit and make this the perfect program for the project oriented or hands-on learner!  The master pages are very thorough and organized, meaning the only prep work I had to do was gather the materials.

The kid loves fun and I love easy!  


The Crew also reviewed two other products from Home School in the Woods, so be sure to read all of the reviews, check out the company's Samples and Feebies, and see where your history studies will go next!







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©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Monday, April 29, 2013

G is for Great Finds - Furniture Revamp!

I don't know about you, but I love a great bargain.

This weekend the family was heading out to the store.  No sooner than we turned off our road we passed a yard that had a FREE sign next to a full patio set.  Just sitting there.  Calling my name.  It had to have just been put out, because it was in great condition, and stuff like that would go fast.  We had just talked about how we'd like some outdoor furniture for the breezeway.  Husband and I talked quickly, and he turned around, knowing it wouldn't be there when we came back through.

The pieces were in good condition other than some faded paint, and the cushions looked new. I did ring their doorbell to ask if we could make two trips, but nobody answered.  We could only fit two pieces in our vehicle, so we went home and unloaded everybody so we could lay the seats down for the other pieces.  Husband didn't tell me this until later in the day, but apparently when he returned, someone was already there loading up the other two pieces.  It took some negotiating, but he managed to get the full set.


Before



All we had to do was clean it up a bit and put some fresh paint on it.  So for a few dollars, we have a Like New patio set that would have cost a couple hundred dollars if purchased new.  If I was buying new, I probably wouldn't have picked this set...but I can't complain because it's such a GREAT deal!


After




Up Next

I don't know when we'll get to it, but also on our to-do list is to redo this vintage student desk.  It was also a Great Find from the flea market.  Elliott loves it, and wants to use it for school.




I'm not a Do-It-Yourself kind of gal, but Husband is pretty good at following my Honey-Do list.  I wonder what else I can come up with for him to do?  ;-)





This post is part of the Blogging through the Alphabet series, so be sure to check out what other bloggers are sharing this week!

Blogging Through the Alphabet


©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Ruined to Like New

High winds are supposed to blow lawn furniture around, tip trampolines and maybe snap a few small tree limbs.  The derecho that ripped through last summer removed every apple from the apple trees, flattened my in-laws vegetable garden, and ripped up the anchored trampoline--carrying it from one end of the farm, through those apple trees and across a cow pasture before bending a tree as it forced it into the woods.

A couple months ago, we had some very strong winds come through.  Nothing like last summer, but it was loud and messy.  From one end of the house, I heard a large snap, and sure enough I found the equivalent of a small tree lying in the yard.




I didn't think too much of it, but then when I went to check the mail later, I was shocked to find this...



The swing set survived the devastating winds of the derecho, but I thought it was gone for sure that afternoon.  The section with the slide, which originally faced the other way, separated and was carried across the yard.


I went to get a closer look and realized that it snapped the stakes at ground level.  Supporting beams and several smaller pieces were splintered and broken, presumably as it bounced across the yard.


Husband moved it to the corner of the yard, and it sat there for weeks.  Then he finally got around to looking into repairing the beast.  He dug around the manufacturer's website and noted every single piece that needed to be replaced before placing a call.  The lady was super helpful, and it turned out it would be fairly inexpensive - even with shipping - to order straight from the company.

The boys were super excited when the box arrived.  I was not.  It was the driver that is scared of our dog, so I had to meet him in the driveway and figure out how to carry a fairly heavy box, that was longer than I am tall, into the house.  If I had been smart about it, I would have left it in the driveway for Husband.

Once Husband got home from work, they got to work.  The boys had recently received Lowe's tool kits (we're adding woodworking as a Handicraft), so it was even more exciting to dig those out and put them to use.

I already shared Emory's version of helping.



He made a barn door.  Or so he said.

At this point Husband realized a very important piece was missing, so they repaired as much as they could that night.  He called back the next day, and it was apparently never ordered.  That piece alone would have cost $50 plus s/h (which was almost as much as the entire previous order), but she processed it for FREE!  Don't you love when things work out that way!?

So once the last piece came in, Husband, with Elliott's help, was able to repair the entire thing and stain it.  Only one is clean in this picture, but the green tarps were washed, and they look brand new.


The boys couldn't wait to get back to their adventures.  We've also added one of those swing set telescopes, and they want a steering wheel to turn it into a ship!

All of the scrap pieces that are scattered behind the swing set are being saved for woodworking experimentation.  I googled "scrap wood projects for kids" and found these wooden block characters (snowmen would be cute too).  I also thought a scrap wood sign with Eleanor's name for what will be a Raggedy Ann room would be cute.

So that's what my boys have been up to, and what I plan to have them do!

What have your kids been working on lately?



©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

F is for Free and Frugal Field Trip Ideas

If there's something every homeschooler loves, it's a good field trip!  The problem is, field trips are like books...they can get expensive!  So I've been trying to come up with some ideas for field trips this coming year that might appeal to both of the older kids (who will be in Pre-K and 1st grade).  There really are free and frugal opportunities for field trips all around us!  This is a more "general" list, since specifics will vary across the country, but perhaps you can use this as a starting point for your own hometown, or even when vacationing.

Some places you can go in and do your own thing, but others require registration, approval or advanced notice, particularly if you are wanting to schedule a tour or interview.  Always call ahead to check their visitor policy, fees, hours and other important information.  Some places may not charge a fee, but may ask for a small donation, so please consider supporting your community.





Around Town
These are generally places you go every week, but sometimes spicing it up will make a kiddo less resistant to running errands with you or enrich a regular lesson by thinking outside the textbook!

Library - story hours, book clubs, classes, book signings and special events
Grocery Store - Health and/or Math lessons abound here!
Bank - Math, Personal Finances, History of banking and Federal Reserve
Post Office - learn how mail makes it from point A to point B when you mail a letter, get a pen pal, or research this history of the post office


Service Projects
These are places than can be a one-time field trip, or be turned into a service project, but be sure to call ahead to arrange anything.

Nursing Home - Befriend a resident that doesn't get visitors
Veteran's Home - Thank a Hero
Humane Society - walk and socialize the animals


Children's Programs
Many businesses offer classes, workshops or special programs for children.  It is great for their public relations and marketing, but it also offers opportunies for children to develop skills or just have fun!

Home Repair Stores- Home Depot and Lowes offer free projects once a month
Art/Craft Stores- check for free/inexpensive make-and-takes at your local art store
Museums - Ours offers a free weekly art class for kids - check around!
Movies - Many theaters have free or $1 admission during the summer
Bowling - Kids Bowl Free offers 2 free games/day all summer and parents can buy a discount family pass, so check their participating centers to see if a local bowling alley is participating

Making bird feeders at Home Depot's Kid's Workshop


Science & Nature Study
These are places that often offer hiking, biking, birding/nature trails, and of course things like fishing, canoeing and camping.  Larger places often offer maps of their walking trails and guides about the local wildlife, so enjoy a nature walk!  Parks a nice field trip on vacations too, because of their science and history value!

Orchards/Farms - Check with local farmers for a tour
City Parks - Go regularly to study the same spot for your nature observations then have free time on the basketball or tennis courts
State/National Parks - Many are free year round, or check Free Entrance Days at National Parks
Wildlife Refuge Centers - These tend to be free but "donations are welcome" which means you can still see native wildlife and rescue animals up close {and much cheaper than the zoo!}
Free park we visited while on vacation in Myrtle Beach 


Special Events
Don't forget your local fairs, festivals and parades!  There are usually local artisans and musicians, demonstrations and maybe even period costumes and reenactments.  Not all for free, but many are, and there's usually much to see, do, taste and experience!


Did I miss anything?  Can you think of any other field trips that are free/frugal that I should add?

This post is part of the Blogging through the Alphabet series, so remember to check out what other bloggers are talking about this week!

Blogging Through the Alphabet






©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Firefly Island {book review}


Firefly Island
Firefly Island
by Lisa Wingate

Sometimes life throws you a curveball.  Usually you have two choices.  Watch it pass you by, or take the chance and see how far you can hit the ball.  Mallory is thrown her curveball when Daniel, a handsome single father, walks into her life unexpectedly.  Mallory had a lot of plans for her life, but leaving her job in politics in Washington D.C to raise a 3 year old on a remote lake in Texas was not on her map.  Then she fell in love.  When very-new boyfriend Daniel received a job offer he couldn't pass up, he proposed and she had just a moment to decide whether to swing or wait for the next pitch.

Lisa Wingate is a new author to me.  In Firefly Island, she hands us a very interesting set of characters.  Wingate brings out the charm of a small town, tight-knit community where everyone knows everything, yet secrets still run deep.  Also, as the mother of a 3 year old, I could definitely relate to some of the antics she so easily describes of little Nick.  However, as the husband, I didn't feel like I knew Daniel as well as some of the side characters that take on primary roles in helping Mallory adjust to her new life.

While Mallory is trying to find her place as a wife, stay-at-home-mom, and country girl, she's also trying to figure out why nobody likes her husband's new boss and what secrets he is really hiding about his rumored past.  Romance, faith and mystery intertwine in this book, but it wasn't an "easy read" like most fiction/romance.  It took me awhile to get into it, and then once I did, the story suddenly ended with a summary of how things played out.  It felt a little awkward and rushed to me, but overall the story line was interesting.

We're often reminded throughout the story to use our gifts to help others and to appreciate what we have right in front of us.  It's a good reminder to never take anything for granted.

Litfuse Publicity Group | - Something is always stirring here!







©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

E is for Eleanor (the name)

The last time I participated in Blogging Through the Alphabet, I did E is for Elliott and Emory (the names, not the boys) as my post.  This time I think it's only fitting to include Miss Eleanor.

Origin of Eleanor: English variation of French Provencal Alienor, meaning unknown

How did we choose Eleanor?
When we found out I was pregnant, my husband had several boy names he liked.  We were a little surprised (but delighted) to find out we were having a girl this time.  He immediately had his choice for a girl name.  I was on the fence, and we debated back and forth until just a few days before my due date.  He suddenly said he liked Eleanor, and we were in agreement.  There are very obvious nicknames for Eleanor, but at this point we do not use any of them, although I did have a great-grandmother Ellie.  We like Eleanor because it's "old-fashioned" without being stuffy.  We get a lot of compliments on it from older generations.  Eleanor's middle name is also my sister's middle name, as well as my grandmother's name, and is also on my husband's side as well.

So with that...I can't believe my little girl is almost three months old!







Remember, others are Blogging Through the Alphabet, so be sure to check out what others are talking about this week!
Blogging Through the Alphabet





©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rudy: My Story {book review}


Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger
with Mark Dagostino



If you have not seen the movie Rudy, I will venture to guess that you are at least familiar with it. A lousy student and mediocre athlete who not only gets into Notre Dame, but makes the football team as well? When I had the opportunity to review this book, I was definitely intrigued.

This book is not just any old sports book. Yes, there is sports talk. However, Rudy also talks about jobs, friends, school and the military, and how they influenced him over the years. He shares all those trials in life where he felt utterly defeated, as well as the moments where his spirit was lifted and he knew there was hope. The book takes on a very conversational tone, making it a personable experience as Rudy shares his heart with you. It's as if he considers each and every reader a close friend of his. He lets you in on the lessons he has learned about building relationships with others, overcoming obstacles, and the importance of having dreams.

I found this book to be inspiring and motivating. If you have already seen the movie, I still think the book is worth the read. Not just because he shares the process of having the movie made, but also because you get to know a person a lot more through their thoughts than a Hollywood production. If you have not seen the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book first.

I review for BookSneeze®






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©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Friday, April 12, 2013

Random 5: April 12th 2013


(1.)  Husband took the boys to Home Depot's kids' workshop for the first time.
They loved every second of it!  They made bird feeders, which was very timely, as we are starting to study birds.  He said he built most of Emory's but he was able to paint it of course.  They received their own Home Depot apron, a certificate and a pin for their apron.  Elliott enjoyed it so much, he has already asked for me to sign him up for the next workshop.



(2.)  Both boys had New Patient/Well-Child appointments this week with the new pediatrician.
Of course, that would be the day they supposedly started a new computer system.  Our 8:30 appointment started at nearly 10:00.  It was a LOOONG morning.  However, the doctor is very thorough, and also very straight-forward.  I liked him.  He gave us some ideas to help with a few little issues of Emory's, so we'll see how it goes.

(3.)  I just started my last two courses!
I got my Associate's in Legal Office Administration right out of high school, but then went a completely different direction with my career.  I worked in a bank, so I went back to get my BBA with a concentration in Banking.  By the time we made the decision for me to quit work and homeschool, I was about halfway through, but I wanted to finish what I started.  So here I am, finishing up!  Yay!

(4.)  I just read The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper for the very first time.
I  know.  This is a children's classic that I've never read.  I'm challenging myself to get back into reading classic picture books to the kids.  Of course, now we've read it several times already this week.



(5.) We've started repairing the swing set.
Several weeks ago we had some nasty winds come through, and it knocked over the swing set.  It was anchored down, but even several of the stakes were broken in half.  Several pieces of the swing set were damaged, and we considered it a lost cause.  Then Husband got the idea to check out the company website, and sure enough we were able to order replacement pieces.  He called to get an estimate, and it was very inexpensive.  We were shocked.  So he placed the order early this week, and FedEx delivered them Thursday.  You should have seen me trying to carry this box through the yard into the house.  If I'd thought about it first, I would have just left it outside!  Elliott was so excited that he got his set of tools ready immediately--he's even wearing the Lowe's apron that came with the set.  They started last night, and got one section repaired.  Elliott has already made a 'thank you' card for Daddy, to thank him for helping fix his swing set.

Husband said you wouldn't even have known Emory was out there.  He was hard at work arranging all the pieces!

It's a good way for them to get some practice with tools, and I told Husband to keep all the old pieces wood so we can start a little scrap pile for Elliott to do some woodworking practice.




This is a link-up at The Pebble Pond, where participants share 5 random facts.  I find this is a fun way to share those random things that aren't quite post-worthy alone, but are still interesting, fun, or noteworthy to me.  Be sure to check out what "random" things others are talking about.




©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Peek at our Bookshelf - April 9, 2013

(this post contains affiliate links)


I've been doing a lot of prep work over the past couple of weeks.  I've been trying to get things organized and ordered (or wish-listed until I make my final decisions) for next year.  One of the books in Elliott's Year 1 curriculum is The Burgess Bird Book for Children.


The book is not really "scheduled" though; it's left up to me to choose a few chapters (birds) each term based on my region and the season we start.  Some moms have said on the Ambleside forum that they wished they had just read the book straight through.  So I've decided we'll just start now, since the book starts in the spring, and just slowly work our way through.  I've been trying to do a little bird watching here and there to get him excited, and I think I've got him hooked, so we're going to start this week.



Picture Book Challenge:  I sometimes feel like I leave Emory out, and because I have so many great picture books that we've never gotten to, I challenged myself last week to read at least one "new" picture book each week to the boys from our bookshelf.  Last week was Ferdinand.  This week's book:
Watty Piper
I know, who hasn't read this classic to their children?  That's why I'm challenging myself to read more!





We've been studying Ancient Egypt recently (Homeschool in the Woods - Great Empires review coming soon) so some of our read-aloud material has pertained to Egypt.



by Bernadette Simpson
{I "purchased" when it was temporarily free}
This doesn't exactly pertain to Ancient Egypt entirely, but it is a very nice picture book with a lot of interesting information in it.





by Cindy Neuschwander
This is a living math book, and is about two kids who go to Egypt with their father, who is an archaeologist searching for a mummy in a pyramid. The children and family dog get trapped inside, and have to follow the clues of the shapes to find their way. There's a good bit of vocabulary in there, math and otherwise, so it was a fun little read.


We're also going to do a King Tut sticker book that I've had on the shelf forever.  It's actually quite detailed, so it may take us 2-3 days to get through it.


So that's a little bit of what we've been doing and plan to do this week.  This post is linked up to Debra's Reading Aloud Challenge, so be sure to check out what other's are reading aloud right now!




©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

Monday, April 8, 2013

D is for Dog

Every boy should have two things: a dog, and a mother willing to let him have one. ~ Anonymous


Bailey is our 1 1/2 year old Chocolate Lab.  

She started as a cute little fluff ball.


Then grew into a lanky pup full of energy.


Her job was to roam the fields and to find the best puddles.


She has also become very helpful cleaning up debris.


Plus, she is great about challenging the boys to a good race.


When the boys are outside, she is by their side.  If she's not dropping a ball gently at their feet for a game of fetch, she is lying nearby watching them.  If someone comes into the yard, she immediately takes her bodyguard stance between the stranger and her boys.  She makes it known that she is their protector.

She may be crazy, goofy, unpredictable and every bit puppy, but what she is truly good for is protection, loyalty and love!  





This post is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet series at Ben and Me, so check out what others are talking about this week!  Also linked to Pet Parade, so if you're an animal lover, head on over!







©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com