Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Premama Prenatal Vitamin Drink Mix

Premama Prenatal Vitamin Drink

It is recommended that women take prenatal vitamins while they are trying to conceive, during the entire pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  Why?  Well, obviously because it is important for both mom and growing baby.  However, anyone who has ever taken prenatal vitamins probably has had the same complaint...they are horse pills.  In three pregnancies, I have never found a prenatal vitamin that was not a huge pill OR did not leave a bad after taste.  Simply put, I hate them.

Enter Premama!
I was recently given the chance to try Premama Prenatal Drink Mix.  They are individual pouches of powder that you mix into water, milk or your favorite juice.  For convenience, especially for moms who suffer from severe nausea, the packets are divided into two doses so that the daily serving can be split up evenly.

More Information
Premama is available online for $25/box, and if you order two or more boxes, shipping in the US is free.  It is also available at limited retailers.  Check out the Premama website and their FAQ section for more information on lactose intolerance, allergens, and other important information.

My Experience
I tried mine in a couple of different beverages.  The powder does not dissolve completely, but it didn't bother me in orange juice.  I tried it in water too, but it changed the color, the undissolved powder was more noticeable and there was a slight taste change.  I recommend fruity drinks or juices that have stronger flavors, and you won't even know the difference.  Of course, I'm no medical expert, so definitely consult with your doctor or midwife to make sure they are right for you.  However, I will say that I think these are an excellent alternative to pills!

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary 30-day supply of Premama through MomSelect in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas for the Snowmen - art project


I recently pulled out all of our Christmas books for our book basket.  Elliott wanted to read Christmas for the Snowmen by Wolfram Hanel, which is about three snowmen who are cold and lonely, and go out looking for friendship on Christmas Eve.  It's one of those books that is not necessarily a must-read in the eyes of a parent, but is cute read for kids.  My boys are interested in all things snow right now, and they loved anticipating what would happen as the snowmen ventured into churches, restaurants and back into the dark night.

I struggle with art instruction, but I've been browsing around lately trying to find simple projects that will engage the boys as well as keep us busy when we can't be outside.  Uli Waas's cute and child-friendly illustrations immediately reminded me of this Eric Carle Inspired Snowman Art Lesson, and I knew we could tie the two together for our own snowy creations.

Emory went with just snowflakes at first, but then was read to try his hand at a snowman!  His snowman is a little more abstract, but that makes it endearing, don't ya think?

I gave the boys their construction paper and some white tempera paint and asked them to paint the ground and a snowman or two.  I showed them how to make snowflakes with q-tips.  Then we went through scrapbook paper scraps to add facial features and accessories.    The snowmen in the book had a great variety of accessories, so it was a good opportunity to point out how there is no "standard" snowman and they could feel free to be creative in their choice of decoration.

This was a great project for working with so many different materials too.  The boys really enjoyed themselves, and I have some cute artwork to display!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Painting the Sunset with Tomie dePaola

November's Virtual Book Club author is Tomie dePaola!  We chose The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush because we had it on our shelf but haven't read it yet, and it offered a very natural way to bring more art into our homeschool.

This book is about a young boy, Little Gopher, who does not feel like he fits in with the other children of his tribe.  They are all hunters and warriors, but he knows that he will never be like them.  Then his true destiny comes to him in a Dream-Vision.  The legend goes on to tell how his beautiful paintings lead to the flower the Indian Paintbrush.  It's an inspirational story for the child who feels different, but let's them know that everyone has something special to offer! It is also a great introduction to cultural legends.

One of the paintings in the story is the sunset, and Iron Man wanted to paint "the same thing the boy painted...the sky" so of course we had to paint our own sunset.

I am not artistic and do not have much experience with art materials, but I am making an effort to introduce them to my children early, so they can become comfortable using them.  So this was Iron Man's first experiment with tube watercolors.  Isn't it interesting, though, how their little minds see things?  This was done without a picture reference, but he really worked at getting the "glow" and the different colors in there.

Hulk painted a rainbow sunset.

Of course, we certainly had to spend some time watching the sunset.

Iron man was quick to notice how the colors in the sky changed with the position of the sun.

This was a great opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us.

I also thought it would be a good idea to add a sunset to our nature journal, which excited Iron Man because he loves his journal.  He also used oil pastels for the first time.  This was done with the above pictures for reference, so his colors were placed a little more naturally.

Iron Man had a great time trying new art materials, and I'm really glad we chose this book.

Linked Up:  Virtual Book Club

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: Thanksgiving Fun

I'm not a unit-study mom, but the boys enjoy seasonal activities, so of course it was time to start our Thanksgiving theme.  Generally I just mix in a few holiday/seasonal activities that tie into our Kindergarten work, with age appropriate activities for the little guy too.

Iron Man is 5 and in Kindergarten
Hulk is 3 and is doing an informal Tot School

Iron Man - 5 - Kindergarten

One of the early stickers for our PAL Phonics Farm sticker chart was a TURKEY for the 'ur' sound!  So one day when we were reviewing, I wrote several words on the board and asked him to read them, and then spell them with the UpWords tiles.  I just copied the words from the back of the 'ur' card (from a set of phonics flashcards in Target's $1 spot).  The words included turkey, purple, hurt, purse, church and turtle.  Church was the only word he struggled with, but it was a good opportunity to discuss the 'ch' sound.

Hundreds Chart
On Monday we did this Turkey Hundreds Chart from Lil' Country Kindergarten.  She has a multitude of charts if your children enjoy them.  Instead of giving him the self-check page, I told him it was a Hidden Picture and I helped when needed.  I was a little surprised he finished it, with the amount of coloring required, but he's interested in all things numbers right now, and the "surprise" element really helped!

Not only was I surprised that he liked the Hundreds Chart this time (we didn't get past about 3 squares the last time I offered one), but he shocked me by asking for more.  From the same website, I also found the Native American and the Pilgrim, so I'm planning to take those on our trip next week to give him something to do.

Pattern Blocks
I printed these Thanksgiving Pattern Blocks (Pilgrim, Native American, Turkey and Mayflower) from This Reading Mama.  She also offers the basic outline without the individual shapes, but I just printed the easier ones since little brother would be joining in.  It later turned into free play with Iron Man making a flower and a bumblebee, as well as experimenting with fractions!

In Drawing the Mayflower and Thanksgiving Books, I talked about how Iron Man drew his own Mayflower ship, and the Thanksgiving Books we've been reading.

Disguise a Turkey
This is not a new concept by any means, but it's the first time we've done it.  I just found a turkey printout from somewhere online (and now I don't remember where to give the proper credit).  After looking around the house for inspiration, he decided on the Yellow Angry Bird!  I love the little black feather at the top of his head!  Oh, and that's his angry face, in case you're wondering!

As you can see, anything Angry Birds is a hit in our house.  This puzzle came from the dollar tree, and is way too easy for him, but he's still put it together several times.  He's also asked for more.

Hulk - 3 - Tot School
Hulk joined in some of our activities, and created some of his own.

Lacing Beads
Anything that can be stacked is used for building in our house.  We've never discussed symmetry at this age, but I was impressed with his diligence in making sure his towers "matched" on both sides.

These dominoes are out almost every week, but we've never actually played dominoes with them.  They are also used for stacking and building.

Pattern Blocks
Hulk also joined in on the Thanksgiving Pattern Blocks.  He had never showed a real interest in these in the past, but I guess putting them up for awhile was all it took for me to recognize how much he's learned in the last few months!  He enjoyed matching the shapes to the printouts, as well as making his own people.

Hulk counts fairly well due to playing hide-and-seek with big brother, and I guess he's picking up one-to-one correspondence from him too.  I think he may be ready for a slightly more formal tot school in the near future.

Later in the week, Hulk wanted to throw the large foam dice, so I adapted that to rolling across the room.  Sometimes we rolled at the same time to see who could roll further, and sometimes we took turns, but I asked him to count the dots on each of our dice.  I found out he easily recognized 1-3, and only had to count 4-6.

This cornucopia picture came in a pile of worksheets from a K teacher.  It was supposed to be a Color by Letter, but well...he wasn't interested in impressing anyone with this one!

Disguise a Turkey
Hulk went for a rainbow turkey!

I don't recall the name of this app right now, but Hulk really enjoys the little Monster/Alien things, and would get so excited when he finished these easy puzzles!

He liked the color matching game too.

Turkey Time Lunch
After last week's turkey lunch success, I figured we'd try another one.  This one was inspired by Meet the Dubiens, which is a great place to find fun food inspiration!  This is a turkey and cheese sandwich with apple feathers.  Raisin eyes, cheese beak, apple waddle, and pretzel stick legs.  I used green peppers for the grass with some mixed nuts.

Last year our Thanksgiving Activities included a narration time line, a handprint turkey, building the mayflower, making a turkey counting book and more!  We may do some variations of a few of these again.  We'll be going "home" next week, at least for a few days, so I probably won't be around too much.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Drawing the Mayflower and Thanksgiving Books

While reading our Thanksgiving stories, we of course hear about The Mayflower.  Last year, we built the Mayflower and that was a big hit, but I wanted something a little different this year.  I am trying to incorporate more art into our homeschool, so when I came across this Mayflower Ship drawing tutorial, I thought we would give it a try.

The lesson is tagged for 3rd-5th graders, and I'm not going to lie; it was a little difficult and frustrating for Iron Man (5) at first, because he wanted it to look exactly the same as the tutorial.  However, I talked to him about how it is okay for our artwork to be different/unique and not just a copy of someone else's work.  After he was finished, he was very happy with it.

So onto our Thanksgiving Book Basket.  I had been slacking off over the summer and early fall in regards to keeping an updated book basket and reading good books to the boys, but it feels good to get back into a routine and they are asking for me to read to them more now too.

These are the themed books I have been reading aloud this week or will try to read to them next week.  We are travelling for Thanksgiving and staying in the other house, so although we won't be doing any "school" work, I plan to take a few books with us for the long car ride and bedtime stories.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Growing Up Wild

When I say WILD it's not an exaggeration.  Growing Up Wild takes you on an awesome jungle adventure!

What Exactly is Growing Up Wild?
Growing Up Wild is a fun and educational series based on the Wild family, missionaries living in the jungle of Papua, Indonesia.  The series is designed to not only show a peek at their life, but to get children excited about foreign missionary work.  It's aimed at children 5-12, but the website says it's fun for all ages...and I believe it!  My three year old is mildly interested, but my five year old loves it.  I do too!

There are a total of 5 Volumes, and I received Volume 1 and Volume 4.  Each volume contains 3 episodes (which are approximately 15 minutes each) and a separate CD-ROM with a PDF activity guide.

Volume 1
Home Sweet Hut
Supply Trip
Sun and Water

Volume 4
Amazing World Around Us
Adventures in Culture
Tribal Calling

The activity guide suggests several activities for each episode to enhance the learning experience.  The different activities focus mainly on Bible, Life, Science/Nature, Culture, and World Views, but there are also ideas for field trips and hands-on projects.  

How We Used the Program
As we watched each episode, we explored some of the suggested activities.  They are appropriate for various ages/skill levels, which makes it easy to adapt to an entire family or group learning experience.  As a homeschooling family themselves, they encourage you to tweak the activities to your needs!  I usually chose one or two activities, and created a mini-unit around the episode.

For instance, I'll share how we explored Volume 1 Episode 1:  Home Sweet Hut

The episode introduces you to not only their house, but the houses of the Wano people.  It compares and contrasts how different cultures live.  The Wild's were accustomed to modern conveniences and separate living spaces, so their house reflected this, while the Wano huts were basically an empty room with nothing but a cooking area.

After we watched the episode, we talked about the beautiful tree that Mom mentions near her house.  One of the activities is to choose a tree near your house to sketch.  It was the perfect activity for our new nature journal!
Fall Tree from our backyard

Another day, we read a book we already owned, Houses and Homes by Ann Morris, which is a photographic exploration of houses around the world.  It was a lovely supplement.  We watched the clip of the Wano houses again, then decided to do a creative activity from the guide, and I let the boys attempt to make their own "round" house.  I provided them with clay, twine and floral tape, and they gathered items outside such as sticks and leaves.

They are building the support walls here.  It took a little working and reworking to get it the way they wanted it, because I tried not to intervene. 

Iron Man topped it off with a Leaf Roof.  He said there had to be a stick in the middle because it needed a hole to release the smoke from the cooking fire.  For 3 and 5, they were pretty creative.

Things to Note
I should probably point out that this family has immersed themselves in another culture, so you may want to preview the episodes first so you can be prepared to discuss things like unusual body piercings or the men's clothing as you see appropriate.  This is also a a family of boys, so there are plenty of things that adventurous kids find intriguing, such as the family cat devouring a rat, or the kids eating a fish eyeball.  My boys are all boy too, so it didn't bother them in the least, but of course this might make a squeamish person uncomfortable.

That being said....

Why We Love It
Not only is it great for family use, it would make a wonderful investment for junior churches or youth groups to get them excited about missions!

This is a great geography resource.   All of the episodes give an interesting look at a culture that was before unfamiliar.  It opened up conversations about the way other people live and dress, as well as how they use their natural environment to sustain themselves.

There is also a lot of science woven naturally into each episode, which again gives you plenty of different avenues to explore for extension activities.

I Know You're Interested!
The individual volumes are $18.99, or you can buy the 5-pack combo for $80.99.   I would love to complete our collection.  It's that good!  Take some time to look around the Growing Up Wild website, read what other reviewers think and get a feel for the faith, fun and excitement they can bring to your home!

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of Growing Up Wild Volumes 1 and 4 in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are based on our personal experiences and were not influenced in any way.