Saturday, February 28, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean: The Living Room

The most lived in room in our house is definitely the living room.  We don't have a den or family room, and we're a homeschooling family without a homeschool room, so the living room really gets hit hard.

The first thing I did was clean under the couch.  Why??  Because I am a glutton for punishment.  We have a 3-piece sectional, so it's not like I can just slide the couch over and vacuum.  I removed all the cushions and found some broken crayons, and some random toys and I vacuumed for good measure.  Then I had to take the sectional apart and flip the pieces over (it's the easiest way for me to handle the beast by myself) so that I could cry.

Folks, I just had a baby so I wasn't cleaning under couches for the last nine months or so, and you could tell.  I think everything that has ever gone missing in our house in the last year was under that couch.

I could make an I Spy game out of this picture!  Crayons, pencils, pens, math manipulatives, books, a missing remote, a cookbook, video games, more LEGO pieces and other random toys, mismatched socks, hangers, hair bows.  Oh, and a penny.  I earned a penny for all that.  I literally run my vacuum attachment under the edges of the couch every time I vacuum, so I don't know how that stuff goes unnoticed, but it looked like most of it fell between the actual sections,  and behind the couch (it is against the wall) which is how most of it probably went unnoticed.

Then we had these two school shelves.  I finally used this week as a motivator to tackle this mess, as it was completely out of control.  I moved one of the shelves into another room.  It won't stay in my room indefinitely, but I had the space and I prefer it in there where visitors can't see it.  We have two walk-in closets in our master bath, and I'm thinking of using some of that space to hide store school supplies.  Hope husband is willing to give up some of his closet space.  Ha!  This challenge is really getting me to think about how we utilize and maximize our space, and I can definitely fit a shelf in each of those closets.

The other shelf has to stay in the living room for now.  It holds our primary school curriculum and where I put current resources during the week.  I also keep some books and toys for Eleanor here to play with during school.  I did clean it and organize it.  Well, inside a couple of those baskets is a different story, but I know that Michele is a homeschool mom and curriculum/supplies will come up eventually.

On the other side of the living room is what I call the "walking path" and there are a few pieces of decorative furniture and some toys for Eleanor.  This piece, while I love it, has a habit of collecting things on it and under it.  So I cleaned it off, wiped it down and cleaned the mirror.

This shelf was cleaned off too.  Michele suggested while dusting we should try to remove half of the items or knick knacks.  I took some older pictures down, and pulled off some books that were set here and never moved.  It is really sad looking right now, but we want to get new family pictures soon and I want to get all matching frames, so I'll "redo" it soon anyway.  I don't know if you can see Eleanor's rocking horse to the right of this shelf, but he stays in the living room too.

This is a typical view of my living room.  I'm standing in front of the back door.  To my left is the school shelf.  To my right is the baby swing and fireplace.  I do want to redo the video games and cords, because someone has been messing with them, and i hate them hanging out everywhere.  I don't know why the lamp is on either.  Elliott??

So who can find the toddler?

I will admit that I haven't cleaned the fireplace or mantle yet, and I haven't touched the ceiling fan, but I should get to them this weekend.

Next up on the list is books.  *sob*  I've said more than once I have a problem buying books.  I fully admit it.  I've been saying for weeks I need to go through the picture books in the boys room since it's overflowing.  Plus my sister-in-law (also a homeschooler!) just sent me some books that I need to go through.  Next week should be . . . interesting.  However there's a curriculum swap coming up, so I think I'll be trying to donate the books to it.

©2011-2015 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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In Freedom's Cause {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Do you like history?  Or are you hesitant to teach history because you don't know as much as you'd like?  Do you want to teach your children solid history and positive character traits of good leaders?  Maybe you just appreciate a good audio book?  If any of these describe you, you will be interested to learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions.

I recently received In Freedom's Cause Single Package, for review and it includes the following:
In Freedom's Cause (2 CD set)
In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (Download)
In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack (MP3 download)
Printable copy of The Prayer of William Wallace (Download)

In Freedom's Cause is the second audio drama we've had the pleasure and good fortune of reviewing, and I had high expectations for this one.  Why did I have such high expectations?  If you remember my review of Under Drake's Flag, you know how much we loved it, and that we were eagerly looking forward to the release of In Freedom's Cause.  That first audio drama renewed my son's interest in audio books and opened up some great discussions between us, and I wanted to keep that spark alive.

The Story
Although we usually listen to audio books in the car, we haven't been out as much lately.  That's what happens when you have a newborn during the middle of winter.  Being in the house more meant we needed something to keep us engaged, and this was the perfect activity!  Within minutes of turning on the story, my 5 year old proclaimed "This sounds like an adventure!"  In Freedom's Cause:  The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce is a retelling of the GA Henty novel by the same title.  It's about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.  It's about fighting oppression and freeing Scotland from the rule of England.  It's also about faith and courage and sacrifice.  Yes, it is an adventure!

If you are not familiar with this part of history, I don't want to give too much away.  I'll say that this story casts a fictional Ned Forbes as a young man in Scotland who wants to avenge his father's death at the hands of the English.  It's difficult for Ned to understand why Scotland remains under English control, and through the story we learn how he takes up sword fighting in order to join the cause for Scotland.  We see a constant struggle for peace, a constant struggle for freedom, and the internal struggle this causes on the key players for the fight for independence.  Just suffice it to say, it's a lesson more engaging, more exciting, more personal and emotional than you ever learned in high school.  GA Henty is a well-known and popular historical fiction author, and Heirloom Audio Productions has captured the heart he put into his stories, bringing them to life for a new generation.

If you are a history novice, this story is for you!  Even if you are a history buff, this is an exciting retelling, and the focus on character and faith makes it so much more than just a story from history.  I believe Heirloom Audio Productions has sparked an interest in history in our homeschool, and I am excited to explore a subject that never interested me as a child.

This is roughly two hour adaption of the original book, but it's not just a dry reading of the words.  This is a high quality production.  The voice acting is professional and emotional and draws you right into the story.  You might recognize such names as Joanne Froggatt from Downton Abbey, Skander Keynes from Chronicles of Narnia and James Cosmo from Bravehart.  The music is delightful, but not overwhelming.  The sound effects are realistic and make you feel as if you're right there in the action!  Although the music and sound effects are an integral part of the listening experience, neither of these take away from the story or make the dialogue difficult to hear or understand.  It's enough dramatization to excite those that love adventure, like my 5 and 8 year old boys, but the dialogue carries the story line and keeps you interested and wanting more.

I will be keeping In Freedom's Cause in our vehicle to keep on our listening rotation.  My kids love audio books, and as they grow, it will be interesting to see what else they take away from this story.  Right now they are younger and their focus is on the plot and the adventures, but as they mature I expect to have many great conversations with them.

The Downloads
The downloadable materials that accompany the CD are just as high quality as the audio drama itself. The soundtrack is exactly what it sounds like.  It is an MP3 download with all of the original music by award-winning composer John Campbell.  The Printable copy of the Prayer of William Wallace is what Wallace uses for his spiritual sword, from Psalm 23.  This is an integral part of the story, one that must not be missed!  The PDF download is a beautiful printable, that would be best printed on card stock.  Then there is the Study Guide.  It is 30 pages and includes a little bit of everything to get the most out of this story.  It includes biographies, study questions, vocabulary, Bible studies, a brief history of Scotland, and a reading list.  Depending on the age of your students or your homeschooling style, the guide can be used as a supplement to the story, or it can be used as a starting point for a full unit study.  I will point out that the guide does not include answers, so you must be familiar with this story to work through the guide with your children.

Notes for Families
**The language is appropriate for children of all ages, so this story can be great for a family activity.  However topics of oppression, death and murder are a bit heavy for younger children, so you may want to listen ahead so you can answer questions or determine its suitability for sensitive children.

**I've been informed by Heirloom Audio Productions  that there will be two new releases in 2015 and you can bet I'm just as excited for these stories as well.  The next release will be With Lee in Virginia, so be on the lookout for it!

**For more information about Heirloom Audio Productions or In Freedom's Cause, check out their website or social media, and be sure to read more crew reviews!


In Freedom's Cause Review

©2011-2015 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.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Glorious Flight with Five in a Row

I decided it was time to start easing back into Five in a Row.  We took a long time off with the holidays and then everything leading up to the baby's birth, and then of course finding our new normal after she was born.  I was itching to get back into a routine, and the kids were needing a bit more structure during the day again.

The Glorious Flight with Five in a Row

This post contains affiliate links.

I asked the boys for some ideas and gave them suggestions.  Emory decided on airplanes for us, so that's how we chose to row The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen.  He really enjoyed just flipping through the book and looking at the illustrations.

The Glorious Flight tells the story of a very persistent man, Louis Bleriot of France, who wanted to build an airplane.  Not only did he eventually succeed, he was the first to fly across the English Channel in 1909!

Social Studies

Geography - France
We read a book about France, If you were me and lived in... France to get a feel for modern France.   I reviewed this book, and others in the series, but it was nice to refresh.  Elliott really likes this series, and it reminded me that there are some new ones I'd like to order.

We did a map as usual, because Elliott loves geography.  We not only mapped France, but also England and the English Channel, since that was Bleriot's feat!

The boys added France to their Passports.  Emory has always taken Creative Liberty with his personal story disks!

We switched to using the inset on the world map, because I knew when we did any other stories from Europe we would never be able to see anything.  The inset even had the English Channel labeled, so Elliott put our disk there.

The Glorious Flight story disk

We talked about how this book is based on a true story.  The boys noticed various things in the book that were different than they are now.  The best thing, though, was when daddy bought a new hat and the boys declared he looked like he was from 1901!  Why?  Papa Bleriot wears a similar hat in the book, which started in 1901.  Everyone took turns wearing the hat, even Eleanor!

We also watched a few videos on YouTube.  Louis Bleriot - French Aviation Hero gives a short biography, but we also learned that flying over the English Channel wasn't his only contribution to aviation.  Elliott was definitely intrigued by Bleriot's contribution to war planes.

Then we learned a little about The Wright brothers when we read First Flight: The Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers by George Shea.

Character - Persistence
We discussed how Louis Bleriot was a very persistent man.  He worked through failures, trying again and again, until he achieved his goal.   (Normally I would use We Choose Virtues with our row, but we didn't get to it this week.)

Roman Numerals
Papa's planes are named Bleriot I, Bleriot II, etc.  Elliott was somewhat familiar with Roman Numerals already, but I printed out a Roman Numerals chart, a "cheat sheet" if you will, to let him study.  I wrote out everyone's name like "Elliott is _____ years old" so he could fill in the blanks for our ages with Roman Numerals.  He asked me if I could add Adam West for a bonus question.

{I gave them craft sticks to build the numbers, but they weren't interested in that aspect, so Eleanor drummed on the table with them instead.}

Number Order
I gave Emory a simple dot-to-dot that formed an airplane.

Language Arts
We talked about this in another row, but we briefly discussed it again.

Emory did an ABC dot-to-dot (which he colored black with the yellow Batman logo!) and an A is for Airplane page.  Elliott did the coypwork selection from Homeschool Share's lapbook.

I gave the boys an If I Were A . . . Pilot prompt.  Emory started talking so fast I couldn't even keep up!  After they finished drawing their airplanes, I had them dictate to me.  They really got into this, and it definitely got interesting!

"I would call my plane the Green Zoomer.  I would have video games and LEGO sets.  I would have autopilot.  I would have a Bizzaro Batman minifigure.  I would have a table and chairs so we could eat on it.  I would have a robot for chores.  I'll fly to the other side of the Earth.  I would have a hologram of Green Lantern."  ~ Emory

"My airplane would be called Red Rocket.  I would fly around the world to learn different languages and meet people.  It would have satellite, video games and autopilot.  I would have all of the Bat-Vehicles to transport them."  ~ Elliott 

Last spring we reviewed some Go Science DVDs, and I pulled out one so we could watch the Flight section again.  We read a book called Amazing Aircraft by Seymour Simon, which was an informational reader about airplanes through history, with some very interesting facts about more modern planes that Elliott enjoyed.  Then we talked about the parts of a plane.

We were going to make paper airplanes and fly them across our own "English Channel" (this infamous puddle) but the weather didn't cooperate.  It's not like we haven't made paper airplanes before though, so no tears were shed.

When all was said and done, it wasn't a very hands-on row, there were no special treats or meals surrounding our lessons . . . but it was fun.  And interestingly enough, even though it was Emory who asked for airplanes, it was Elliott who really got into the topic.  I always love seeing how these rows will turn out, and how the boys will respond.

After we finished this row we got hit by the huge snow storm, so our Katy and the Big Snow row is coming up next!

Sharing at My Week in ReviewWeekly Wrap-Up, Read Aloud Wednesday

©2011-2015 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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Orange Marmalade

In honor of Paddington, they made orange marmalade.

{She was just hanging out!} 

{counting practice} 

{play break} 

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

©2011-2015 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.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Random 5 on Friday

1.  This girl is a ham.  And a handful.  And of course we wouldn't have her any other way!  She's also decided the baby is not aloud to cry.  I don't think it's because she's annoyed by it, but she's so protective of her that she can't stand to see her "baby Eloise" upset.    

2.  I love watching babies sleep, don't you?  This was from about a week ago, but Eloise is already a month old.

3.  We're easing back into school now.  We started back with a couple of Schoolhouse Review Crew items to kick off the new year, and this week we finally jumped back into Five in a Row.  We're rowing The Glorious Flight, because Emory requested airplanes.  We're reading/reviewing a historical fiction book about the Revolutionary War too, so that might be our next study.  I say that, but I never know where our interests will end up taking us!

4.  You want an update on 34 Weeks of Clean?  Well, I didn't do anything related to the challenge this week.  Shame on me, huh?  However, next week is the formal dining room, and I don't have one, so that means I can get last week's challenge done without getting behind.

5.  This is what my 8 year old has been up to lately.  The DVD player wasn't working, but it is now.  I'm currently researching some STEM activities to keep his hands and mind busy!

The Pebble Pond

©2011-2015 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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A New Coat for Anna {and Christmas in Germany} with Five in a Row

Well I'm just a little behind getting this one posted.  I chose A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert as our only row for December because it tied in easily with winter and Christmas, and when I was planning the row, I realized how we could springboard into studying Christmas in another country.  I've wanted to do a Christmas Around The World type theme for awhile, but to simplify I decided one book and one country was all I could handle.  {Of course you could easily leave the Christmas activities out if you're rowing this book at a different item of year.}

We rowed this before Christmas, and we didn't get to everything, simply because we ended up being busier than I anticipated with all of the holiday festivities, so some of the more time consuming activities were set aside.  We still had a lot of fun, though!

A New Coat for Anna {and Christmas in Germany} with Five in a Row

This post contains affiliate links.

Social Studies
Barter and Trade
While we discussed the lesson in the manual, we talked about some of the bartering that goes on in our house.  "I'll help you build your robot after your chores are finished" or "I'll let you play with my toy if I can play with yours" type scenarios were mentioned.

The setting of the story is not specified, though we know it is in Europe shortly after WWII.  We discussed the general devastation of the war and how it would have affected many countries in Europe.  We touched on WWII and also referred back to our Grandfather's Journey row and the affect of the bombings there as well.  Elliott loves geography though, so I decided we would choose a specific country that would have been involved in the war to focus on for the row.  I picked Germany, considering it is infamously known as part of WWII, and it would be easy to find some simple activities for Christmas in Germany.

I used a labeled map of Europe (just because it's hard to write in tiny country outlines) so we could mark Germany and look at the other countries that would have been involved or affected by the war.

We also colored the German flag . . .

and a picture of a boy in traditional German clothing.

Christmas in Germany
Since the book ends at Christmas time, we learned a little about Christmas in Germany and answered the worksheet.  Then we learned how to say "Merry Christmas" in German.  Elliott is also fascinated with Disney World, so we watched Christmas EPCOT Germany Holiday Storyteller, Helga.  This led us to discussing the origin of the Christmas tree and discussing/singing Oh Tannenbaum!

While we were talking about Christmas trees, we got out the book If He Had Not Come (you can read my full review) and completed the Christmas Tree activity in the back, which helps us understand some of the symbolism associated with the Christmas tree.

Language Arts
Narration, Sequencing of Events
Elliott retold the story, answered some questions from the manual, and then did this Sequencing Worksheet.  He picked a topic (I gave several suggestions) and then dictated the steps.

How to Make A Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
First - Get all of the ingredients out.
Next - Spread the peanut butter on one piece of bread.
Then - Spread the jelly on the other piece of bread.
Last - Smoosh the pieces of bread together.
Finally - Eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Letter A (Emory)
Emory needs a bit more reviewing of his letters and sounds, so we did Letter A this week for Anna! He did the Letter A from the apple tree on Red Apple Reading (I won a free subscription) and some of the free worksheets from Starfall.

I had the boys recite Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and Mary Had a Little Lamb for Eleanor!  We also read Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola as the story, sequence of events and vocabulary are similar.  I wanted to read Hansel and Gretel (since it's a German tale) while we did gingerbread houses, but with three kids that was an all-hands-on-deck job, so no Hansel and Gretel.

Keeping Well (Health), Lingonberries, Natural Dyes
The manual's lesson gave a good conversational starter for us for why Anna's mother worked so hard at getting her daughter a new coat.  We also talked about how lingonberries are related to cranberries (which we had just learned about in our Cranberry Thanksgiving row) and we discussed natural dyes, but we just didn't get around to dying our own yarn.

We kept this one simple too.  We talked about sheep and watched a short video about sheep sheering.

I gave the boys two options.  Art for Kids Hub has a more cartoon like lamb, while we found this slightly more realistic sheep at The Drawbot.  Elliott picked Art for Kids of course, but Emory actually wanted to draw the other.

Measurements, Rulers
One of the lessons in the manual involved measurements, so we discussed that, and then took another twist on it as we did this Measurement Treasure Hunt.  The boys gathered the items, then Elliott measured while Emory watched and filled in his worksheet.

Another lesson in the manual discussed patterns.  While the book utilized patterns for clothing, we discussed other types of patterns as well.  We got out the pattern blocks and created our own patterns.

Food Fun
Homemade Gingerbread Houses
When we were learning about the German Christmas, we learned that Gingerbread houses are popular at Christmas there too, and this is on our list every year anyway.  The timing with the book worked out well.  We always do kits, because....well, I'm no supermom.

Even though we didn't get to some of the hands-on activities, the kids really got a lot of out this row.  We're finally starting to ease back into a new routine, post-baby, and Emory chose our next unit, airplanes.  So we're slowing rowing through The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen, and we're going to cover airplanes (obviously), pilots, inventions, and more!

©2011-2015 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.