Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Planet 316 {review}

Planet 316: Daily Bible Jigsaw

I don't use a lot of game apps on my electronic devices, but when I do play games, I prefer puzzles of some sort; something to stretch my brain a little.  I recently had the opportunity to review an app called Daily Bible Jigsaw, from Planet 316, which sounded right up my alley.  For once, I asked for a review just for me.  The app is available on iOS, Google Play, or as a Facebook game.  As part of the review, I was given 500 Puzzle Coins (worth $39.99) to use in game play.  I downloaded the app on both my iPad mini and my iPhone 7 and can play it on either, since the account is email based.   (You can also connect to Facebook through the app and play against friends, but I have not done that.)  These aren't just puzzles, though. You finish with an inspirational Bible verse each day.

Planet 316: Daily Bible Jigsaw

As the name of the game suggests, there is a new puzzle offered every day.  You can play the puzzle and use different tools to make it easier.  These tools require the use of two coins each, and include:

Rotate - Orients all the pieces into the correct position.
Guide - You can peek at a picture of the completed puzzle
Sweep - Brushes all pieces to the sides the screen
Magnet - Connects two pieces
Edges - Removes all but the edge pieces until you have the frame of the puzzle complete

Planet 316: Daily Bible Jigsaw

My favorite is Rotate.  It's so much easier to start the puzzle with the pieces in the right orientation.  Otherwise I have to tap and turn the pieces up to three times to find the correct position.  If I use a tool, it's this one.  Another feature is the Power Piece.  During the puzzle, you'll see a random piece light up, and if you connect it to any other piece during the time it's temporarily glowing, you'll earn a coin.  Once the puzzle is complete, you'll see the full picture with an inspirational Bible verse.

Each day, as you complete your puzzle, you're awarded a puzzle piece to fill in a calendar.  If you miss a day, you can use coins to go back and complete missed puzzles.  At the end of the month you'll have a completed calendar.

Planet 316: Daily Bible Jigsaw

Let's talk about the coins for a minute.  You get a handful upfront, and you can earn them "free" by watching ads for other apps.  The ads are short, but are usually advertising games I would not let my children play, and some of the promos are less than tasteful.  This advertisement problem isn't specific to this app though, as I've seen the same ads in other apps.  It's just unfortunate.

This app is rated 4+ and is very family friendly.  Although I've kind of been hogging the app for myself, I would certainly allow my children to play the app; they would just not be allowed to earn "free coins" through watching the ads.  Having the bundle of Puzzle Coins solves that problem, and also allows you to use more of the helps as desired.

Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

The puzzles are quick and easy, and only take a couple of minutes each day.  I actually find it kind of soothing to sit in a quiet spot and play a few puzzles with music playing softly.  I don't remember to play daily, so will go back and play missed puzzles.  I also like to see if I can beat my personal scores, and it's also interesting to see which verses they will pair with the finished picture.  I like this app, and would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys puzzles and wants a little inspirational, uplifting game to play.

Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews}

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©2011-2017 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.com

Monday, April 17, 2017

Before Five in a Row: The Runaway Bunny

We've been fans of Margaret Wise Brown books for awhile, and this one is no exception!

This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclosure for more information.

Eleanor was so excited to start The Runaway Bunny.  It's such a sweet little book about a mother's love!  As I read, she took the book and examined the illustrations.  She immediately noticed the alternation between black and white and color page spreads, so it was easy to discuss that lesson with her naturally.  She also caught on to and started imitating the repetitive language as I continued through the book.  She liked doing the "If you become . . . " lines for me.

Another art lesson actually happened in an impromptu way.  Eloise had dumped the crayons out, and Eleanor went through and picked out all the purple crayons.  It made me think of the lesson in the manual, so I sat down with her and showed her how we could look at all the different types of purple.  I did it with green (an easy color to do with the pictures in the book) and she decided to do a Green Rainbow while I read the book again.

We also compared the illustrations and looked at the corresponding pictures in The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon.  She loved pulling out another beloved book.  (Goodnight Moon was our very first row.)

We played with various pattern block mats from PreKinders.  She has a sailboat, rabbit, and flower that all go well with this story.

I also found Eleanor making variations of this flower on her own without the mat at other times, which I thought was interesting.

Eleanor loves "worksheets" so I chose a few different pages from these bundles:
Homeschool Share Runaway Bunny
The Runaway Bunny Printables from Homeschool Creations
Five in a Row Fold N Learn

I tried to find her favorite types of activities.  She did patterns, beginning sounds, a maze, and a few other activities that allowed for scissors, glue and dot markers.

We got outside for some nature walks, and were able to find dead trees . . . just like in the illustrations.

For free play, I set out random toy bunnies.  Some were stuffed, some where from $1 store games, etc.  She had fun playing with them, feeding them toy carrots from her play kitchen, and making this one Queen of the Bunnies.

I had a special snack, some go-along books and a few other activities planned, but sometimes things don't go as planned, and that's okay.  Sometimes we deviate from the plan so we can enjoy the moment.  It's not Pinterest perfect.  I don't even remember to take pictures of half the stuff we do.  But the moments are pure and memorable, and that's what matters to me.

©2011-2017 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.com

Monday, April 10, 2017

Five in a Row: Who Owns the Sun?

A young boy's wise father explains how nobody can own the sun, the stars, the wind, the flowers, the rain . . . but what happens when that boy overhears a conversation that makes him question everything his father has taught him about owning the most precious things on Earth?

Five in a Row: Who Owns the Sun?

This post contains affiliate links.  Please see disclaimer for more information.

I chose to row Who Owns the Sun? when we reached the Abraham Lincoln biographies with Beautiful Feet Books, because of the obvious correlation.  Before we started, I really didn't give any specifics as to the content.  I just started reading this book.  For having been written by a 14 year old, it's very powerful.

We had previously discussed slavery when we reviewed With Lee in Virginia, and Elliott was very disturbed by the audio drama.  So we followed that with a Follow the Drinking Gourd row to show a different side of humanity.  It was still a difficult topic.  As for this study, Emory especially got invested in this story.  As we got to the end, you could see the sadness and confusion in his eyes.  We had a lot of heart talks during the week, especially about sin and human nature, and learning from past mistakes.

Social Studies
History/Geography - Slavery/Civil War
We discussed more about slavery, slave vs. free states and the prominence of slavery in the south.  They placed the story disk in the south.

Five in a Row:  Who Owns the Sun?

Then we mapped out slave states vs free states.  (I just pulled a freebie from online, obviously they'll vary depending on the time period as states were admitted to the union.)

Five in a Row:  Who Owns the Sun?

Additional Books
Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
Beautiful Feet Books Abraham Lincoln study - more to be posted soon

Language Arts
The boys made lists of things too wonderful to own . . . here are a few things that they listed.

Question Mark/Questions
Question marks were a review for Emory.  Then we made up our own questions.  Instead of writing a story, though, Emory and I ended up looking up videos for his.  He specifically wanted to know how the fortunes get inside fortune cookies.

We discussed this briefly, though it's all review.  We did look for signs of spring on a nature walk that week.

Simple Machines
Per the lesson, we had a discussion about simple machines and the boys examined the pictures to see the examples.  Elliott went a bit further by completing a simple machines worksheet and playing around with the book How Machines Work: Zoo Break by David Macaulay.

Five in a Row:  Who Owns the Sun?

We talked about the 14 year old illustrator and how children can work hard to reach their goals/dreams.

Another art lesson in the manual dealt with watercolors and layering colors.

Emory ended up doing a flower and rainbow painting, but he did do some color mixing with the greens to get the shade he wanted.

Extra Art
This was for ArtAchieve, which we are reviewing right now.  I was looking through the supply list for the upcoming projects and realized Four Suns with Four Faces would go along well with this row, so we skipped ahead to it.  Just as nobody can own our soul, nobody can own our uniqueness and individuality.

Five in a Row:  Who Owns the Sun?

Five in a Row Cookbook
While the boys were outside working hard with dad one afternoon, just like Big Jim would have worked hard in the fields, I made the biscuits and sausage gravy from the cookbook.  (I made the biscuits smaller than intended, but overall I still think I liked the biscuits from The Bee Tree better.)  I added sausage and fruit, and daddy came in and scrambled eggs at the last minute.  Breakfast for Dinner was a huge hit with the kiddos.

Five in a Row:  Who Owns the Sun?

We followed this row by continuing the Abraham Lincoln study, along with a  row of They Were Strong and Good, so I'll be sharing that soon!

©2011-2017 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.com

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Peek at our Homeschool: March 2017

The past several weeks have been a blur.  So much going on, so little time to write about it.  The first two weeks of March flew by . . . we chose to have a quick turnaround on the return home, so it was a flurry of packing and unpacking, to say the least.  Then our first week back was the week that never ended.  Let's just hit the major stuff, shall we?  A clogged pipe led to flooding, which led to soggy (yet to be unpacked) boxes.  Three major appliances died back to back to back.  The toddler found a sharpie, and my brand new refrigerator.  You can't make this stuff up! (Luckily I found the magic combination to remove the sharpie--rubbing alcohol and magic eraser!)

I think our household is almost back to normal though.  Well, I can't decide how I want to organize my bookshelves right now, but that's a little bit of a personal problem more than a house imploding problem.  I can live with that.

Math is math, as usual.  One kids moves through without complaint, and one does well despite the grumbling.  Language arts is progressing along well.  Elliott is reviewing Easy Grammar 5 so we've been focusing on that for him.

We did a brief study of Lewis and Clark with Beautiful Feet Books.  It was short, and I would have added more to it, but it was our first week back, so I kept it simple.  Simple can be refreshing for me sometimes, though, and it was still effective.

We're still working on a review of ArtAchieve (first sneak peak) I'm enjoying it along with the boys!

Sometimes after doing art lessons, the boys go off and do their own thing for art.  Elliott has never been much for coloring, but sometimes he will find a drawing book or some tutorials and draw a few pictures.  (Papa Smurf from Art For Kids Hub.)

Last week we rowed Who Owns the Sun? to go along with BFB's Abraham Lincoln study.  So we're getting back into a routine.  To start off April, we're continuing with Abraham Lincoln and also rowing They Were Strong and Good (because of the Civil War tie-in) so you'll see both those rows being shared soon!

I also got a book order in!  You know that feeling you get, when you open a new box of books?  *happy sigh*  We already owned A New Coat for Anna, but my paperback copy had seen better days and this one was so inexpensive that I just added it to the order.  All of the other books are also part of FIAR, either because they are in a one of the volumes from Before to Beyond (or online as a digital unit), or they are excellent go-along books.

Of course, there's the whole playing on the swing set, digging for rocks, climbing trees, taking walks on the farm and in the woods, chasing bubbles, splashing in puddles . . . we are loving the spring weather!

Homeschool Coffee Break

©2011-2017 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.com

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Beautiful Feet Books: Lewis and Clark

As we finished up the American Revolution/Colonial studies with Beautiful Feet Books Early American History Primary, it then moved into a short study of Lewis and Clark.  It looks as if BFB cover this time period in more depth with some of their other studies aimed at older students, but to add to this time period we rowed Warm as Wool to give us a glimpse at the earliest pioneers moving from the northeast.  It went with a field trip, so we rowed it first.

Genevieve Foster

The study uses just a portion of this book, about three chapters.  We completed it in one week.  The lessons cover the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, Lewis and Clark's journey, and a later chapter covers The White House and The Star Spangled Banner.  The boys found the reading interesting enough.  I think they actually liked the last chapter the best.  I added a YouTube video of The Star Spangled Banner after we read about it, so we could listen and discuss.

There was only one simple notebooking assignment.  They didn't feel like coloring--it was the first week back after two weeks off

Sacagawea by Lise Erdrich 
illustrated by Julie Buffalohead

I chose this specific book about Sacagawea because I saw it on Birchbark Books when I was looking for authentic Native American books to add throughout the year.  I figured that would be a good place to start for "recommendations" and I saw this book and knew it would fit well with this portion of the study.

We really enjoyed this book.  The beginning talked about the different spellings and pronunciation of her name.  The story itself gave us a little bit more insight into what her young life would have been like, as well as more information about the journey with the Corps of Discovery.  The Afterward gives us three theories on what happened to Sacagawea.  Most historians believe she died young, while two oral traditions from Native tribes have her living to a more elderly age.  Emory really liked pondering the different scenarios, but of course he preferred to believe she lived a long life.

This is a beautifully written and illustrated living book and I am so glad I added it.  It compliments this study very well!

Next up ~ I'll be combining the Abraham Lincoln unit with Who Owns the Sun? and They Were Strong and Good from FIAR for a look at slavery and the Civil War.  

©2011-2017 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.com

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Manhood Journey {review}

As the parents of two boys, my husband and I were intrigued by the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit.  This is a program for fathers and sons, published by Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio.  This program is designed to give boys (ages 8-17) the tools they need to become Godly young men.  While it is designed to be a mentorship between father and son, I'll preface this review by stating that it can be used by any man who has a "fatherly" role in a boy's life, such as stepfather, grandfather, uncle, or another trusted mentor.  The program, and I, use the terms father/dad and son, but I fully recognize the importance of other men in a boy's life.  I'm only using these terms for simplicity, and because that is the relationship in which this program fits our situation.

The Starter Kit contains:
Group Discussion Guide
1 on 1 Discussion Guide
DVD of the introductory videos for all six modules
10 Maprochures
Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You by Kent Evans
Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey

There are two discussion guides.  The Group Discussion Guide is designed for the leader of a Manhood Journey group.  It is full of ideas for opening activities each week, as well as discussion questions, suggestions for keeping the dialogue going if participants are unwilling to open up at first, verses to discuss, closing prayer and father/son homework.  There are blank pages for notes as well.

Then there is the 1 on 1 Discussion Guide.  While it can be used with multiple boys at once, it's designed to use with just a couple of boys at one time, so Dad can really get to know his son and have personal discussions with him.  It is designed so that it can be used in conjunction with a Manhood Journey weekly group meeting.  You will see the references between the two guides.  However, it can be still be used without going to weekly meetings, and there are simple instructions for this as well.  It has an introduction to the program and discusses how to use the guide as a starting point for discussion, learning together and prayer, rather than an agenda or "lesson plan."  Each week starts out with A Word to Dad, to prepare him for the upcoming week.  There is a reference to review the group meeting (it's suggested to skip these references if you are not participating in group sessions), along with more than enough discussion questions.  There are activities sprinkled throughout, such as working in a Manhood Journey Notebook (to become a spiritual journal of sorts), hands-on activities, and games.  Some of these activities seem lighthearted on first glance, but lead to deeper discussions.  There are also verses that can be used for more exploration.  The reason so many activities are included is so that Dad can choose the most appropriate discussions/activities for their son.  I really appreciate the versatility and adaptability of this program in that respect, because it allows my husband to meet my son where he is emotionally and spiritually and go from there.

Wise Guides: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You was written by Kent Evans, cofounder of Manhood Journey.  The book encourages you to find Godly men who are full of wisdom and experience that can benefit you, and to learn how to learn from them.  Mentoring is practically a lost art, but can be an invaluable tool for helping a person grow in so many areas of their life.  This book could certainly be used separately, and would make a great read for young men leaving home for the first time as they are entering college or the workforce.

Embarking is the name of this study, and it is the first module in the full Manhood Journey program.  The Maprochure is a little brochure that you might give out to perspective group members about the full Manhood Journey program.  It has a "map" of the full program on one side; while the other side has descriptions of the remaining five modules: Clean Hearts, Working Well, Standing Strong, Manhood Myths, Leading Lessons.  Each module lasts six weeks.

Overall, we feel this is a great tool for fathers or other men to use with their sons or young boys who need Godly male influence in their lives.  It opens the door for discussion on many topics, and if you are doing the fully journey with a group, will allow boys to find other young men that can hopefully be a good influence in their lives.

Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey
To find out more about this study, you can read the rests of the crew reviews or find Manhood Journey online.

Manhood Journey
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/manhoodjourney
Twitter: https://twitter.com/manhoodjourney

City on a Hill
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FollowCityOnAHill
Twitter: https://twitter.com/COAHStudio
Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}

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©2011-2017 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.com

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sneak Peak: ArtAchieve

Have you heard of ArtAchieve before?  I will have a review coming soon, but I wanted to give you a little sneak peak!

The Czech Cat

We've started using the Entire Level I, but I thought I'd share this lesson with you now because it's completely free.  The cats were done by a 10 year old, 7 year old, 4 year old and an adult.  Well, the 4 year old didn't draw hers, we did it for her, because she wanted to coler with us.

After three lessons, I'm impressed.  It's a good balance between step-by-step instructions and giving the child encouragement to be creative.  They actually offer a few other basic lessons for free, so I'm sharing about those now, because it gives you a chance to try out the free lessons and come back at the beginning of May to see what we think after we really dig in!

The Hungarian Insects in progress

Homeschool Coffee Break

©2011-2017 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.com

Friday, March 17, 2017

Five in a Row: Warm as Wool

This post contains affiliate links.

When going through the Five in a Row units, admittedly, Warm as Wool is not one that I would have initially jumped at the chance to row.  However, I was looking at a master list of FIAR books by date and geographical location, and realized that a book set in the early 1800's in Ohio would tie in perfectly with a group field trip to a history museum dedicated to the founding of Ohio and early pioneers!  Our group would also be offered a special class that would tie in, and I knew I could tweak our Revolutionary War study to make the timeline work for us.  You can't get more serendipitous!

Beautiful Feet follows the Revolutionary War with a one week study of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark, before it moves into a lot of time on Abraham Lincoln, so I knew this would also be a good row to bulk up that general time period.

The book is about the Ward family - mom, dad, and three young children - who travel from Connecticut to Ohio.  Betsy Ward spends the cold, harsh winter dreaming of buying sheep so she can have warm wool to keep her children warm.

Social Studies
I always try to start with geography, so we can review it throughout the week.  We printed a US map and traced their journey as described in the Prologue.

Of course, we placed our story disk on Ohio, where the story took place.

Covered/Conestoga wagons, Pioneers, Westward Migration 
Our field trip was part of a homeschool group field trip.  The museum is dedicated to the founding of our area, which just happens be part of the northwest territory that was explored after the Revolutionary War and preserves the history of westward migration and area pioneers.  We had three classes and a self-guided tour before/afterwards.

More specifically, one of the classes that had been scheduled for our group was Transportation: how to fill a Conestoga wagon!  Considering the general time period and this class fit so well with the book, I couldn't resist!  We learned the difference in the Conestoga wagon and the Prairie Schooner.  The Conestoga was a massive, curved (she described it as a smile) wagon used primarily in the early 1800's.  The curved ends would have kept things in the wagon in the more mountainous regions.  These were not the same wagons used in the westward migration, however.  Prairie Schooners were the smaller, "box" shaped wagons, often converted farm wagons.  Conestoga's were too heavy for the prairies and would get stuck in the dirt/mud, but smaller wagons would be able to travel the longer distances.

The museum had a conestoga wagon on display, and I believe she said its as the earliest known one in the state.  They knew quite a bit of the history of the particular family that had traveled to Ohio from Pennsylvania with it.  We learned how it was made, the things that might fill the wagon when a family traveled, and the tools they used on the journey.  We learned that everyone walked, because there was no room to ride in these wagons.  Father might stand on the side on a board, and really young children would be carried, and they averaged 12-15 miles per day.  Everyone had jobs, and she did a great job of describing the jobs in relation to the girls/boys by age.  A 7 year old boy might walk behind the wagon and grease the wheels with tar, while a 10 year old boy might try to hunt rabbit for stew.

After we walked around the wagon and looked at everything the family might have taken with them and where everything was located, they were given cards for a memory game.  There was a taped off section on the floor, the size of the wagon, and each child had to go to the spot on the wagon where their item was located.

How fitting, one of the boys got a spinning wheel!  There was one on display in this room too.

Beautiful Feet doesn't really cover Westward Migration and the mid-late 1800's in-depth at this point (there is a separate course on Westward Migration) so we used this row and the covered-wagon connection to just glimpse into that time period.

You Wouldn't Want to be an American Pioneer! by Jacqueline Morley


Language Arts

We went through the book looking for similes, and tried to listen for them in other books we read.  We also completed this Simile Self Portrait.

Prologue, Author's Notes, Book Jackets
We discussed these elements throughout the week.  Emory insisted that I read the Prologue with every reading.  I think he really felt like it was part of the story.

Additional Literature
Dandelions by Eve Bunting
Apples to Oregon by Deborah Hopkinson
Going West by Jan Van Leeuwen

The books were relevant to the themes of traveling by wagon or "starting over" in a new place.


Imagination and Facial Expressions
After discussing the lesson, we used a cartooning book from the library and a Blank Face printout to make our own facial expressions.

We read about sheep in a non-fiction book about farm animals, watched some sheep sheering videos on YouTube and did a notebooking page.

Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
This is a great living book that ties in well.  I used it as a lunchtime read-aloud for the kids.

Math - The math lesson was fairly simple, relating to the flock of sheep, basic addiction and subtraction.  We just did it orally during one of the readings.  Nothing fancy.

Overall, it was a simple, but fun and engaging row.  After this row we took a school-break, then returned to Beautiful Feet for the short unit on Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark.  From there it goes into Abraham Lincoln.  You'll see some tweaking of that as we also study the Civil War with Five in a Row.

Eleanor is starting to join in more for some of the activities, so I think she's really ready to dive into Before Five in a Row at her level, and I can't wait to start fresh with it!

©2011-2017 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.com