Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Before Five in a Row: The Snowy Day

I realize I'm a little late getting this posted.  It's officially spring, it's mostly pretty outside, and I don't want to think about snow at all.  But oh well!  Here's our row of The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  She rowed this during the heart of winter while the boys were rowing Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

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The Snowy Day is a simple story about a young child enjoying the snow.  The sound, the feel, the games, and wonder of winter.  It was the first time I'd read it with Eleanor.

I'm starting with this picture, because . . . this face!

She made a snowman from the The Snowy Day Lapbook from Homeschool Share, along with a couple other random activities from this printable pack.

We played with the sequencing cards and matched them up to the story.

We used snow balls (cotton balls) and stacked, and counted and built snowmen.  That there is a snowman, can't ya tell?

Sometimes she likes to do the more 'schoolish' stuff, and play letter games.  So we hunted for all the S's and she took her time to circle each one.  She really liked this and asked for another one.

So I found some other letters online, but she just colored the whole page.

I see this floating around Pinterest every winter, and it looked fun.  She got a kick out of making her own paint.  It's just equal parts shaving cream and white school glue.  I can't remember where, but I found outlines of Peter to cut out, and she stuck it right onto the paint before it dried.  Just hit up Google or Pinterest and you'll see several variations of this.

We really like these pattern block mats.  She made snowflakes this time, but we've done different animals and shapes.  The preschoolers at co-op enjoyed them when I took them in last time too.

This was supposed to be like the art project in the manual.  Gluing pieces of tissue paper in the style of Ezra Jack Keats.  She wanted to "paint" them on, and I chose cool colors for winter.  She filled the whole page.

We examined tracks . . . (from our dog)

My little Punky Brewster had fun playing in the snow and making her own tracks too.

Completely unrelated to the actual row, but these pictures were mixed in.  She was completely into dress up this week.  She also enjoyed coloring in her special school book (Count and Color from The Thinking Tree) with her crayon rocks.

Of course she also gets her crayons out at other times.  A princess must make pretty art!

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Beach CD {Review and Giveaway}

Of my three older children, my preschooler especially loves music.  She sings all the time, we must sing and dance around the house regularly, she will gladly listen to music as she falls asleep, and she begs for her songs in the car.  I don't mind to oblige, but there's only so many times I can listen to songs about wheels going round and round.  When I was asked to review Happy Beach, real music for kids, I was happy to give it a try.

"Imagine a musical trip filled with Latin rhythms, Hawaiian ukulele, bouncy pop beats, California surf-style harmonies - all without leaving home.  That is Happy Beach, Perry Springman's first children's CD."

Thankfully, there are adult musicians who understand the child's need for fun and whimsical, while also appealing to the adults in their lives as well.

Perry Springman is father to four homeschooled children, which is cool, right?  With ten previous albums under his belt, Perry Springman has collaborated with Grammy winning producer Mark Heimermann (who has worked with the likes of Michael W. Smith, dcTalk, The Newsboys, etc . . .) to produce Happy Beach.  The idea was to not just make music for his children, but also with his children.  Yes, his children are featured throughout the album, which gives it great appeal to my kiddos!  However, Springman didn't stop there.  Like I said, this is real music that everyone in the family can enjoy.

These are the songs:
  1. Chimichanga
  2. 3 Minute Cleanup
  3. Uhh Uh, No Way
  4. My Ukulele
  5. Me and Buddy
  6. Why does the World have Slivers
  7. Bouncy Bouncy
  8. Mommy and Daddy
  9. Happy Beach
  10. Sleepyhead
Not your typical alphabet or insect songs, but they have the silliness that makes kids laugh, and the realistic topics with which parents can relate.

What did we think?
I put the CD in the car, because it arrived right when we were finishing up our audio book and we needed something new to listen to on our drive to co-op that day.  Let's just say, they knew what they were doing when they put Chimichanga first!  My kids are 9, 6 and 3 and they all loved it.  My 6 year old laughed all the way the very first time we listened to the song, so now my preschooler calls it "the funny song" and asks for it every time we get in the car.  It's safe to safe that's her favorite song.  She likes the first three songs repeated, but my oldest wants to me let it play through because he does like all the songs.  I can certainly relate to everything that needs to be cleaned up during the 3 Minute Cleanup!  We even joke about doing our own three-minute clean up now!  I'll admit that my husband was a little skeptical at first, but he actually likes it too.  The songs are upbeat and catchy, and we all like to sing and hum along.

It's easy for us to listen to this CD together as a family.  Although it wasn't obvious from the titles of the songs or the cover art, the lyrics do encourage Christian values.  I wouldn't say it's specifically Christian content (it's not praise and worship for kids) but Christian content and themes are woven naturally into the songs.  I appreciate that it is clean, wholesome, fun music with no inappropriate themes or language.  It's so hard to find music that is family-friendly and entertaining for a variety of ages, but I feel like Happy Beach fits the bill.  I've kept it on our rotation for the car, which is rare for me to do with children's music.

Perry Springman's Website

Perry Springman is generously offering to do a giveaway of his Happy Beach album to two of my readers.  The giveaway is open worldwide; winners outside of the United States or Canada will be sent a digital copy.   Must be at least 18 years of age to enter.  Void where prohibited by law.  Odds are determined by the number of entries.  The winner will be selected at random, and will have 48 hours to respond to email.  If the winner cannot be verified, or does not respond within that time frame, a new winner will be selected.  The product offered is free of charge, no purchase necessary, and will be provided by Perry Springman.  Mom's Heart is not responsible for prize fulfillment.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are not affiliated with this giveaway.  Any information you share will remain private.

©2011-2016 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.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

52 Lists: The Things that Feel like Home

This week's prompt was The Things that Feel like Home.  When I think of "home" I think of things that make me feel safe, comfortable and at peace.

  • Relaxing on the couch with my family
  • Late night chats with the husband
  • Tucking the kids in bed
  • Watching a baby sleep
  • Walking into the house after vacation
  • Taking walks on the farm
  • Crawling into bed after a tiring day
  • Warm towels
  • Falling asleep to the sound of rain
  • Opening the windows and feeling the spring breeze in the house
  • Curling up with a good book
  • Going through old pictures

52 lists with Chasing Slow

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Underwater Adventures: Newport Aquarium

A few weeks ago, Emory had asked to learn about fish, and Elliott had been wanting to learn about squids, so we did a little mini ocean study for a couple days before we took a day trip to the Newport Aquarium for a family field trip.  We went on a Tuesday, a few weeks before the area spring breaks started, so there weren't any field trips or crowds.  We were able to move at our own pace and enjoy everything without feeling crowded or rushed.  It was one of the better trips we've taken here.  Considering the drive we make to get to an aquarium, I want to make sure we can actually enjoy the experience.

It had been about a year since we'd gone, so Eleanor didn't really remember the last trip.  It was a big adventure for her!  She was fascinated with almost everything there.  {Except the glass floors in some areas--that was a big resounding NO THANKS from her.}

The boys spent a long time watching the sharks, of course.  They loved the new Shark Bridge too, where you walk across the overlook.  That was the other thing Eleanor wouldn't do.

These creatures are quiet majestic, really, and mesmerizing to watch.

We saw this on the way out of one viewing area. . . I don't remember ever seeing it in the past.  The kids thought it was a neat way to show how the "baby seat turtles" start their lives.

Hi Five!  The kids got a lot of tricks out of them as they were cleaning.  Eleanor was a little freaked out, but Emory loved playing along!

The Jellyfish Gallery is always a hit.

The kids have to "measure up" every time we go!

I've probably said this before, but I really appreciate that they have some interactive and eye-level things for kids.  I hate when I think we're going to a "family-friendly" place only to find out that they don't have anything that will really engage the kids and keep little ones entertained.

Speaking of hands-on . . . our little naturalist is always willing to check out the touch tanks!

Believe it or not, we did have Eloise with us.  She doesn't care for the stroller, so I ended up wearing her quite a bit.  She enjoyed herself too.  I just didn't get any good pictures of her.  Overall, it was a fun day trip.  I just wish we lived closer to stuff like this.

This week was letter U for Blogging through the Alphabet.  Check out what others are sharing!

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Monday, March 21, 2016

52 Lists: Week 11 - Essentials

This week's prompt was to list our essentials.  It seems easy when you define essentials as the absolute minimum needed for survival, but I think it's more complicated than that.  I think the essentials for my life choices will be different than yours, and that's okay.

Healthy Food
Clean Water
Hot Showers
Quiet Time
Church family
Homeschool friends

52 lists with Chasing Slow

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Too Many Choices

I feel blessed that I homeschool in a time where homeschooling is fairly mainstream, and we have options.  I hear about the "pioneers" of homeschooling, who had to make do with what they could get, which was maybe one or two curriculum choices, and it was usually traditional school curriculum written to classroom teachers.

Now?  Publishers caught on to the homeschooling movement, and they started making curricula just for homeschoolers.  Those homeschooler pioneers started writing their own programs, particularly when they wanted something completely different than textbooks.  More options!  Homeschool graduates now own publishing companies and are giving us even more choices.  It's truly amazing what is out there!

At the same time, I feel overwhelmed because I have TOO MANY CHOICES.

You see, it's that time of the year where we're finishing up curriculum and I'm looking forward to next year.  I have a vision for next year.  In my head, it's great.  On paper?  I still have choices to make.

Actually, just one.  What do I want to use for history?

The problem is that there are so many choices, that I get bogged down by them.  I spend so much time trying to compare them, trying to figure out if one is "better" than the other for my family, trying to find that perfect fit.  I choose one, then have reservations about why another one might work better for me.  Then I choose something completely different.  Then I am unsettled.  Then I choose one for a day before I make another change.

I finally had to tell myself to just pick one.  One of the reasons I wanted to switch gears is because I want to spend less time researching and planning.  No matter what I choose, I am not going to ruin them over one year of history.  I could continue to agonize over this for weeks to come, or I could just make a choice and move forward.

I settled on one.  I ordered it before I could change my mind again.  It was my very first choice.

Funny how that works.

This week, we're blogging on the letter T.  Check out what everyone else is talking about!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Farmland Math {Timberdoodle Review}

Trying to homeschool with a 3 year old really means I am always hearing "I want to do school too!" and "Where's my schoolwork?" all the time.  Or maybe that's just us.  I'm not sure.  All I know is that Eleanor follows me around, climbs in my lap and otherwise insists that she be part of our school day.  I let her join in whenever she pleases, but I like to have special activities just for her too.  I was happy for her when we were given the opportunity to review the Farmland Math Bundle from Timberdoodle.

Farmland Math from Timberdoodle

What is the Farmland Math Bundle?

The Farmland Math Bundle is part of Timberdoodle's Preschool Curriculum Kit and has three components.  The fold-out play mat has a cute farm scene with distinct areas like a farmhouse, pasture, and barn.  The material of the play mat is very toddler friendly--as in, it's a sturdy wipe-clean play mat.  The jumbo farm counter set includes 30 animals in six colors.  The animals are rooster, cow, pig, horse, sheep.  The colors are red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and purple.  The Farmland Math guide is written by Timberdoodle.  It is 36 weeks of "lessons" to help preschoolers develop basic math and thinking skills.  The lessons are very short stories where I read about Farmer John's animals and Eleanor places the correct color and number of animals in the specified spot.  Then I ask a few guided questions to check her understanding.  The little stories are short and help kids develop early mathematical skills like counting, grouping, patterning and basic addition and subtraction, all while feeling like play!

What did we think?

I've probably made it clear that I don't believe any curriculum is required for preschool ages, and any "school" done at this age should be child-led, informal and play-based in nature.  Farmland Math easily meets this criteria in our home.  The fun farm theme is inviting to young children, and the activities in the Farmland Math booklet feel like guided play.  The stories are very short, which is perfect for the attention span of preschoolers.  Everything is developmentally appropriate for preschoolers, which is what I find most important.

Eleanor was immediately drawn to Farmland Math!  She wanted to play with it right away, and once we started, she insisted on MORE.  Since the stories and activities are short, we can easily do a couple in one setting without her losing focus.  Then, once we do a couple stories, she has free time with it.  She loves to make up her own stories and play with the animals.

Farmland Math from Timberdoodle

I love that even though the program is laid out in 36 weeks to follow a traditional school year, it's not really structured.  Even if you're following a schedule, I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone would feel behind or overwhelmed with Farmland Math as part of a curriculum.  It's just too simple and easy to use.

We've only had it a couple weeks, but so far the activities are very easy.  They do progress in difficulty though, and the stories get slightly more complex.  This means as your preschooler's cognitive skills mature, so do the activities.  I suppose for children who might need more time on a concept, you could obviously repeat the weekly lesson the following week since many of them give suggested variations.  I really like that it includes variations, because in my situation, it helps stretch it out for the child who continuously wants MORE of everything.

One other thing I appreciate is that the counters are of the jumbo variety.  I also have a very inquisitive toddler, and anything she gets her hands on usually gets taste-tested.  I don't worry quite as much about these, due to their large size.

Overall, I really like the Farmland Math Bundle and I see it getting used regularly in our preschool years.

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©2011-2016 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.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

52 Lists: Week 10 - Cleansing for Spring

This week's theme is The Ways You Can Cleanse for Spring and while I've never been really much for the idea of spending days or weeks doing the so called spring cleaning phenomenon, I admit there are certain things that just seem to get done in the spring.

Open the windows
Having fresh air coming into the house just makes me feel better.

Shampoo the Carpets
We like to do this a few times a year.  Spring and fall are a great time, because we can have the windows open to air dry faster.

Wardrobe Switch
The seasonal change is obviously a good time to throw out old clothes, donate what we don't need, store seasonal items, and bring out the summer clothes and toys.

Buy new summer shoes
So um, this one just makes me feel better.  I love a good comfy pair of flip flops.

Clean the porches/outdoor furniture
Washing the porches and patio table and such usually gets done once the weather starts to turn pretty.

Build a Walkway
We need a new walkway.  I want it done this year.

Organize Homeschool Materials
As we near the end of the "official" year, it's a good time to store curriculum we don't need for awhile, file paperwork and assessments, sell/donate what I won't use again, and get rid of old papers and projects and artwork that we're not keeping forever.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Grapevine Studies {Schoolhouse Review}

Sometimes when I review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I get the opportunity to review for a company I've used and enjoyed in the past.  Today I'm sharing another review for Grapevine Studies.  Over the last few weeks, we've been reviewing The Resurrection: Multi-Level.  I also received the Traceable version that corresponds to it, as well as the teacher's book.

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

What is Grapevine Studies?

Grapevine Studies is a Bible study program designed to help children "stick figure through the Bible" which essentially means they read passages (or you read it aloud to them) and they draw simple corresponding pictures to help them remember important people and events.

Last year we reviewed Old Testament Overview Part 1, which gives a basic chronological overview of the beginning of the Old Testament.  The Resurrection, however, is one of Grapevine's topical studies.  I was interested to see how the different types of studies compared.  The Resurrection includes a study of the Last Supper, the trials of Jesus, as well as His crucifixion and resurrection, and more.  It has 11 lessons that can be done once a week or broken down into daily lessons.  This study can be done any time of the year, but undoubtedly is suited well for an Easter study.

The studies are offered as physical products or as e-book version.  I received e-books to facilitate this review, which are PDF files that allow for multiple copies for immediate family members.  I like to print the student portion for the boys, and use my Kindle Fire for the Teacher book.

The Teacher Book
The teacher's book includes introductory information to learn the philosophy of Grapevine and how to teach the program.  It also includes lesson goals, so you know what your focus will be.  Once the lessons start, it is broken down in a simple to follow manner. It tells me exactly which passage(s) to read, and then gives a simple summary.  It has examples for the stick figure drawings for each section of the lesson.  It also has review questions, and answers, at the end of each lesson.

Student Book and Traceable 
The multi-level student book is designed for ages 7+ and is really flexible for children of different ages and skill level.  It includes the timeline overview and reviews, specific boxes for drawing through the passages, mapwork, memory verses and review questions.  Obviously I have different expectations from my boys (6 and 9) but they both do well with it.

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

The Student Traceable Books are an extension of the student book.  They're for a slightly younger audience, but have the same layout as the primary student book.  The difference is that for each drawing I do as an example, the traceable book has the drawing in gray scale.  This allows younger students who may not have the fine motor skills, patience, or speed, to keep up with their older siblings.

Elliott used the Student Book, and Emory used the Traceable.  While Emory is perfectly capable of drawing everything, he's a very deliberate, meticulous worker.  I've found the traceable version helps speed things up for us, because he doesn't have to stop and think about the placement or spacing of his drawings.  This also means he can have more time to embellish his drawings (he drew it raining over Judas's grave, for instance) while I'm paging to the next passage to read aloud.

What did we think?

The boys have enjoyed this study.  I believe it goes into more detail than many studies on the same topic for children, but it's not overwhelming for them and they are retaining the information.  Elliott told me after Sunday School last week that he already knew everything in the lesson, because we'd covered it in this study.

I really like that the Traceable version of this topical study corresponds to the primary student book.  There is a Beginner version (ages 5-7) but it has a different format, and requires its own teacher's manual.  I have not used it yet, because even though that's Emory's target age range, I feel like keeping the boys together is easier.

Below is the Traceable version.  I draw on the dry-erase board, and Emory just matches my colors.  (The colors are often representational, such as purple for God and Jesus.)  Elliott's boxes only have the verses and captions, and he draws the simple figures in himself.  The great thing is that even though we're drawing and having fun, this program doesn't expect a strong "artistic talent" to do well with it, and the drawing doesn't take away from the content of the lesson.

I have enjoyed the simple format of the lessons and how they let me teach children at different maturity and skill levels at the same time.  It's thorough, but practical and engaging.  I think Grapevine Studies has done well to design a program that can make auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners all feel included through lessons that involve reading, discussions and drawing.

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

As you can see, Grapevine Studies offers a variety of chronological and topical studies for preschool through approximately 8th grade.  You can find out more about this homeschool Bible curriculum by also checking out their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Also be sure to check out the rest of the crew reviews.  We've all reviewed different levels of two different studies, and reading other reviews can hopefully give you a great overview of what Grapevine Studies offers!

Birth of John to Jesus' Ministry {Grapevine Studies Review}

Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

FIAR: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Following our row of Owl Moon, I decided to row Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

Stopping By Woods in a Snowy Evening was a perfectly timed row, weather wise, as we rowed it right when we were hit with a blizzard early this year.  We've gone through a couple crazy ups and downs in the weather since then, and I feel weird sharing a winter post in March when we're in a "warm" spell, but it was the next row in line!

It was a shorter row, but covered some of the same themes as Owl Moon, which meant we could carry over some of the lessons that we didn't get to in the week prior due to Owl Moon having so many lessons.  Because of the more conversational nature of this row, I didn't get very many pictures, but I still want to document it.

Social Studies
Geography - Setting - Northeast
We learned about where Robert Frost lived and the inspiration for his poetry.  He lived in Vermont, so that's where we put our story disk.  It's kind of neat to see our map full of so many fun stories!

Language Arts
Robert Frost - Poet information and Poetry
Poetry for Young People - Robert Frost
We read the biographical introduction to learn about Robert Frost, and then I read some of his other poetry aloud throughout the week, focusing on the winter poems.

Poetry - Rhyme Scheme
The boys completed the Rhyme Scheme page from Homeschool Share's unit.

Creative Writing - Poetry
In addition to listening to poetry, the boys wrote their own poems about snow and winter.  I love having their poems in their portfolios.

Viewpoint was covered in this lesson, and Aerial View was covered in Owl Moon, so I combined the two and did just one lesson.  I had the boys fold their paper in half and draw a regular view of any item they chose--that sat at the table and looked at the item to draw it.  Then for the aerial view, they put the item on the floor and stood in a chair to look at it different.  Unfortunately I didn't get any good pictures of this in action!

Woodland Habitats
This was a science carryover from Owl Moon that I felt went well with this book.  The boys spent a lot of time drawing a picture with trees, grass, bushes, flowers, and various animals.  He later added "smaller" trees in the background.  These were summer pictures though, despise the 14+ inches of snow that was sitting outside their window.

Animals in Winter; Animal Tracks
"Tracks" in general were an optional topic in Owl Moon, but I saved it for this row because it was covered in a little more depth and fit well.  We read Animals in Winter and Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints as part of our science.

Then we did a fun little activity.  I printed black and white so they could color, and then they cut and matched them up.  Afterwards, we stapled them with the track print on top, so they could try to guess the animal underneath.  We put it on card stock for their FIAR portfolio.

This was a simple row, but the focus on the poetry makes it slightly different and more unique than some of the other rows, and we enjoyed the change.

I'm linking this post as my "S" post.  Head on over to see what others are sharing this week!
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