Tuesday, August 30, 2016

52 Lists: Random and Quirky things about Me

This one's weird.  Not hard, really . . .I just don't like to talk about myself.

  • I don't eat eggs.  Or mushrooms.
  • I don't drink coffee of any kind--black or of the fancy-named variety
  • I hate to bake.
  • I'm not a morning person.  I'm very much a night owl.
  • I'm 5'0 on a good day.
  • I love to read and I love to read out lout to my children.
  • After our first date, I was convinced my husband didn't like me.
  • I used to play the clarinet, but quit in high school.  I sometimes wish I hadn't given it up.
  • The one show I can watch over and over (and over and over . . . ) is Gilmore Girls.
  • Driving in unfamiliar places gives me anxiety.
  • I was homeschooled in high school.
  • Even though I'm an introvert, my primary jobs before staying home with the kids were customer service oriented (retail and banking) and I learned a lot about people that way.  Introverts like to observe, and dealing with people all day gives you plenty of opportunity for that!
  • I don't like confrontation, but I'm not a doormat, and I will stand my ground, especially if I'm right or someone says I can't do something.
  • In fact, the first words out of my mouth after Baby #2 was born:  "I told you I could do it." 
  • I've had one c-section, and three VBACs.  The last delivery was natural/unmedicated, and she was the fastest/easiest labor and delivery--the whole thing was a whirlwind...and she came on her due date, after I'd been hospitalized for a cesarean two weeks earlier.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Saturday, August 27, 2016

FIAR: Henry the Castaway

FIAR:  Henry the Castaway and Explorers

I know I said that the boys were switching curriculum and that I would return to Five in a Row when the girls were ready.  But then I realized how I could tie this row in so neatly with the beginning of our Early American history lessons on explorers.  I do still think we need the continuity of the curriculum we've chosen for history and science, but my FIAR heart is happy that I might still occasionally add a row in whenever it fits in a supplementary way.  Our favorite subjects from FIAR have always been history, science and language arts; those were the focus of this row, and will likely continue to be the focus of any future rows that are used in this way.

This post contains affiliate links.

So here we are, with Henry the Castaway.  It's about exploring and the adventure and bravery that goes along with being a great explorer.  I decided to plug the row of Henry in between Leif the Lucky and Christopher Columbus.  This worked well for us as part of our history study, but these two books would also work well as go-along books for Henry.  {I'll share more about the beginnings of our Beautiful Feet Books journey soon.}

Social Studies
We used the lesson in the book (discussion) and talked about the traits of explorers and the things they need, like good map-reading skills.  We tied this into the science lesson on survival skills.  We talked about places nearby that we would like to explore--the wetlands and nature refuge were at the top of the list.

We read Maps and Globes and talked about different elements in the book.  We used their small compasses to refresh on N-E-S-W (Never Eat Soggy Waffles), direction of the sunrise/sunset and other things in relation to our new home, and how to use it in relation to survival skills.  We found the equator on the globe, and as we've continued to use the globe for history and looking at routes of explorers, we've continued to discuss things like the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, distance between continents, the size of the Earth, the differences in maps and globes, and all that fun stuff.

Instead of going in-depth with explorers, we just read Great Explorations by David Neufeld. It covers Leif and Columbus, which we're also specifically learning about in Beautiful Feet Books, but it also touches on a couple of other famous explorers.

Language Arts
This was something we actually hadn't formally covered, but Elliott recognized some of the allusions.  He also understood the concept, because it was kind of discussed in Who is George Lucas?, with how he did this in his films, so he made that connection quickly.

Additional Literature
Henry Explores the Jungle by Mark Taylor
Down to the Sea in Ships by Philemon Sturges {Excellent poetry go-along for anything related to ships or explorers}
Scuffy the Tugboat by Gertrude Crampton {Fun Preschool tie-in for Eleanor}

Elliott actually said he enjoyed the Henry books and asked me to get the others.  So Henry the Explorer and Henry Explores the Mountains are now on my list.

We didn't really do the lessons from the manual, but when we read Henry Explores the Jungle, Emory immediately noticed that the page spread when Henry leaves on his adventure is the "same" in both books.  It's always fun to find little connections like that and find the actual similarities and differences!

Survival Skills
This was tied into the lesson on explorers, and we discussed different skills you need for exploring, what to do when you get lost, and supplies you should take.

When we moved, we moved really close to the river--like walking distance close.  There are a lot of nice walking paths around here that we've enjoyed.  We're actually very close to the confluence of two rivers, so we talked about these rivers, We used the book Geography From A-Z to look up the vocabulary words from the science section of the manual and other relevant terms.  We also related it to the ocean and the explorers we've learned about.

We also looked at major US rivers.  Emory had to color the outside of his map to make it look more like a treasure map.  Of course.

 Map from National Geographic 

Belted Kingfisher
Honestly, I initially thought this was a tiny bit of a stretch as far as including it as a lesson--it really played no significant role in the actual story.  However, Emory had just asked if we could learn about more animals.  Since this bird lives on the river and is common to our area, we can look for them on our river walks.  So we looked it up in our Birds Of . . . Guide, which Emory likes just flipping through on his own.  We colored a picture, and listened to its call on All About Birds - Belted Kingfisher.  That website still fascinates my kids.

Interesting Discussion
Completely unrelated to anything in the manual, Elliott and I had an interesting discussion.  He pointed out how the parents just let their young son wander off all day, down the river no less, where he got stranded, and asked if they were considered "bad parents" to not know where their kid was all day.  I pointed out the [somewhat dated] illustrations and we checked out the copyright.  We then talked about how children were given more freedom at an earlier age then, and that now society often views children playing alone as dangerous.

So it was a light, casual row, but filled with great discussions, and it was an excellent tie-in to our history studies!

©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Monday, August 22, 2016

52 Lists: Favorite Foods/Places to Eat Out

My Favorite Foods/Places to Eat Out is an easy list because . . . well, it's food!

That's actually a benefit dinner with Paula Deen,
but anywhere I get to go on a date with my husband is a new favorite!  

As far as fast food goes, this would be my first choice, and I like most of their menu.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
When we get a craving for fried chicken, we usually pick up KFC.  I also really like their mashed potato bowl.  If we're down south visiting my family, we'll usually do Zaxby's instead though, just because we don't have anything different around here.

Buffalo Wild Wings
Husband and I like to order a variety and mix and match!  Usually I like the hot/spicy foods and he doesn't, but this is the one time he likes the HOT choices, and I go for the mild and sweet ones.  Elliott and I both love the lemon-pepper wings.

I like their Fiesta Lime Chicken for some reason, and I've actually made a copycat recipe at home that is very good!

Bob Evans
While I don't love anything in particular, it's decent "comfort food" and it's one of the most family-friendly restaurants, which is important when you have lots of little ones.

Logan's Roadhouse
I love the vegetable skewers and always order that as a side.  Sometimes both sides.

Dairy Queen
For sweets, I like to grab an Oreo Blizzard.  Oh so good!

I really love cashew chicken, and it's usually my go-to when we order Chinese.  I also make a cashew-lime chicken recipe at home that's quite different, but delicious.

I'm pretty flexible with what I order, but I must have the cheese dip!

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016

FlipStir Puzzle {TOS Review}

Puzzles are a lot of fun, and I think they are an excellent tool for critical thinking and logic.  Recently we were given the opportunity to review the Statue of Liberty FlipStir Puzzle from Enlivenze LLC, and I was really intrigued.

What is a FlipStir Puzzle?
FlipStir Puzzles are unique 3D puzzles.  They are full puzzles completely enclosed in the clear tube.  You just Shake.Stir.Solve.  Shake the container, stir the pieces and use the wand to guide the individual pieces to the correct spot to solve the puzzle!

The puzzles come in two different levels, and the crew has reviewed four of the five puzzles.  As far as I can tell, both levels have 10 pieces, but the primary difference between levels is that Level 1 has flat edges and Level 2 has wavy edges.  I would assume the level of detail to the pictures in Level 1 would make them easier to distinguish their order.

Level 1
Rainbow Pencils
Tyrannosaurus Rex

Level 2
Statue of Liberty
Solar System
Periodic Table {limited edition}

The puzzles are listed as appropriate for ages 7 and up.  Emory just turned 7 and had absolutely no interest in the puzzle.  Elliott is 9 and he did attempt it for a short time, but then set it aside.  He's a very smart kid, so he tends to get impatient when something isn't immediately easy for him.  He was a little surprised by the amount of dexterity and coordination required, so I suggested he let me try it first and see what it looked like completed.

It took me about 10 minutes to complete the Statue of Liberty on my first try.  That actually felt like a really long time, considering I was only working a 10 piece puzzle!  It was a lot trickier than it looks, and I admit to getting frustrated a few times.  It requires a lot of maneuvering, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skill and patience.  A few of the pieces look very similar, and you might get to the last piece and realize it's upside down!  Ask me how I know.

Final Thoughts
Maybe I should have started the kids off with a Level 1 puzzle, but I liked the challenge.  It's a really neat puzzle.  I love that it's self-contained, and unless you lose the whole puzzle, you'll never actually lose any pieces.  It's also a lot easier to set this puzzle out of the way of a curious toddler too, so even if the kids don't get it finished in one sitting, they can put it up and return to it later without nearly as much trouble as a traditional puzzle.  This is the ideal activity for car rides, waiting rooms or waiting to be seated at a restaurant.  The puzzles are relatively small, self-contained, and quiet!

These would also make fun gifts for that person who is difficult to shop for, like the grandma who has everything, or teachers, or anyone who just likes having unique conversation starters on their desk.  This is something that most people will likely look at and say ~ challenge accepted!

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

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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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

52 Lists: Favorite Scents

My favorite scents?  Well, this is a short list, because I am very sensitive and I get easily irritated by most scented products or strong smells.  I can't tolerate most household cleaners, detergents, air fresheners, perfumes, lotions or basically any item that is supposed to make things smell better.  I can't even walk past a store like Bath and Body Works or Yankee Candle without my throat burning.

I can usuallly handle some candle scents for a short period of time . . .
  • Vanilla
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Spiced apple
  • Cupcake 
  • Sugar Cookie

Now as to things that aren't really scented, but that smell good, or are just refreshing.
  • Newborn babies!
  • freshly baked bread 
  • Hot towels straight out of the dryer
  • The ocean
  • Fresh country air

Next week's list is back to food.  I'm all in.  HAHA!

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Build Your Own Video Games with Bloxels

It's no secret in our family that my kids enjoy video games.  My nine year old loves not only playing them, but also learning everything he can about the history of video games and electronics.  He says he wants to create video games when he grows up, and is often pursing that interest the best he can for his age and skill level.  Recently, we were given the opportunity to review Bloxels, which Timberdoodle describes as a "hands-on, brains-on, design experience where your child will place, click and play his own video game" and I was curious if this would help him further explore his video game interests.

What exactly is Bloxels, you ask?  Well, it's a combination physical kit and app.  The kit contains the following:
  • 1 Gameboard
  • 320 plastic blocks
  • Bloxels guidebook 
  • free app

Essentially, children use the blocks and gameboard to create characters, scenes and layouts.  Each colored block represents something (water, coins, etc) that are essential to the average video game.  Once a child builds something, they photograph their creation with the app.  The app is used to create the actual game, and is available on Apple, Android and Kindle devices.  For reference, he used it on the iPad mini and I'm not aware of him having any issues on it.  

Elliott started by just experimenting with the features in the app just to get a feel for for how it worked and what he could do with it.  He learns by doing, and playing around with the pre-made templates allowed him to learn quickly.

Once he learned the basics of how it worked, he begin to create his own scenes and play around with it more.  He said "I like it because it's fun and I get to make my own game."

What I like about this app is that it truly is meant for beginners.  While he's played around with coding, this doesn't require any coding or knowledge of specific terminology or involve reading an extensive manual.  The child simply builds whatever they imagine and transport it right into the gaming platform.  The app is suggested for children 8 and older, and while younger children certainly can use it, I do think there is a little bit of a learning curve.  However, there are video tutorials and it still looked fairly easy for him to learn.

Although you can technically use the apps without the blocks, the blocks are such an interesting component, as they allow children to physically interact with their own ideas.  Truly, the blocks are what make this more than just an app.  Not only are children learning the very basics of video game design in a child-friendly way, they can work out any kinks and quickly alter their gameboard to see how their idea will look without changing the app, and physically manipulate ideas until they get exactly what they envision.

Three year old sorting blocks by color for her brother.

Not to mention, the blocks are great for just creating things for fun!  This is my son's Iron Man face.

I believe Bloxels provides a parents and teachers with a unique STEM activity for younger children interested in video game design.  It's a great way to bring technology to life and allow children to put their creativity and ingenuity to work.

Bloxels is available individually and as part of Timberdoodle's 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit.

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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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

52 Lists: To Do List for August

This week's list is our To-Do List for August.  I still can't get over that it's already August!  I was looking over the 52 Weeks Summer Goals list, and realized I've completed a few of those things, with a few that always get pushed back (reading for myself) and some that we're still working on.

  • Officially begin new homeschool schedule {we're slowly adding in subjects one at a time right now and trying to figure out our new schedule!}
  • Celebrate a kiddo's birthday
  • Visit our neighbor's Art Exhibit at the art museum
  • Probably register for co-op
  • Start AWANA
  • Plan/attend at least one field trip
  • Read some of "my" books
  • Try to do some blogging

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2016 Summer School

I can't believe it's August!  It's nearly time for local schools to start back, and we're very slowly working our structured subjects back into our routine, but I wanted to share some of our summer memories!

While we've mostly had a good summer, we did lose our dog June.  She's been in the family for nearly 11 years, so it wasn't completely unexpected, but it was still hard nonetheless.  She never gave us any trouble and was such a faithful friend.

Despite this loss, we still had a good summer overall.

Here are some of the highlights . . .
  • We picked out new living room and dining room sets when we moved, which was a fun treat for ME!
  • We've found some local parks the kids enjoy
  • There are really nice walking paths here along the river
  • There's such a small-town feel here, and so many festivals that I feel like I'm living in Stars Hollow
  • My mom and sister came for a surprise visit in early July!
  • The kids love the nearby water park--pool, slides, splashpad and lazy river means fun for all of us!
  • Elliott is learning to code with Scratch
  • Vacation Bible School (x2)
  • The Wilds is a fun field trip for little zoologist wannabes 
  • There's a wildlife refuge nearby that we want to explore more
  • We've enjoyed cookouts and bonfires with family and friends
  • We have baby bluebirds in our hanging plant on the back porch
  • I had a stranger say "He's six!?  He's so smart for six!!" and another lady we'd just met, a retired teacher, said "That's because she homeschools them."  They both agreed it was the best thing I could be doing for my kids.  I know that, but it truly is nice to hear others say that too!

©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com

Monday, August 1, 2016

State the Facts - Study State History! {TOS Review}

When it comes to state history, we've always woven it in naturally through discussion, library books and as it fits into other history studies.  This year we moved to a new state, so State the Facts: A Guide to Studying Your State from Lauralwood Books will be helpful as we learn state history for our new home.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

State the Facts was written by Mary Ellen Tedrow, who noticed the need for a quality resource to assist parents with studying state history.  This study guide was written to give students the tools needed to understand the different facets of their state.  It was written to be used with any state, and is for ages 8+ so it's suitable for almost the entire family.  Although it certainly appears to be geared towards the needs of elementary students based on the size and spaces for writing, I think it can be used into middle or even high school for students who've never had a true state history course.  It requires research that can easily be individualized, but also because the book has a clean appearance without any cutesy illustrations or graphics that books for younger students often have.

The study guide starts by encouraging the child to call their librarian or other people in the community to ask for help on their project.  I think being able to reach out to others (even if your child adapts the phone script and writes a letter or sets up a meeting/interview instead) is a great way to work on communication skills and teach children independence.

As you might expect, the guide includes the basics like identifying and drawing the state flag, bird and tree, and gathering information about natural resources.  However, it goes far beyond the basics and helps the child look at their state in a unique way.  For instance, it asks the child to learn about the difference between a state and a commonwealth when identifying their statehood.  Also, there is a good focus on science when doing the nature study activities, charting weather for a month and comparing weather patterns with another state during the same month, or when interviewing people about natural disasters.  To me, this isn't just about facts, but allowing the child to own their experience as a resident of the state.

Another thing I really like about this study is that it truly is student-driven.  Instead of a list of famous people to choose from and "fill in the blank" responses about the chosen person, State the Facts asks the student to choose two women and two men (which truthfully may force some children to choose people they might not otherwise have researched) that have contributed to the state, and to actually write about them.  Another section asks for famous people from the state who contributed to the country--author, scientist, president, inventor.  I also love the Days Gone By and the Then and Now sections, which allow children to compare historical aspects of the state with what they experience in the present.  My 9 year old is interested in antiques, so seeing a local antique store on the suggested places to look for old pictures was great!

Any homeschooling family knows that field trips are an engaging way to bring studies to life, but I think they're even more important for learning state and local history.  I love that there are tips for compiling field trip notes/ideas, but at the end of the book there is another list of Suggestions for Field Trips.  An idea I really liked is that when she mentioned local businesses, it wasn't just a suggestion to take a tour, but instead find out how state and local laws affect the business, as well as state taxes.  These little ideas help make this course even more appropriate for older students.

Older students could use this as an independent study.  The only disadvantage an older student would have is that there is not enough space for the amount of writing that would be expected of a more advanced student.  Elementary students will need more parental oversight, but it's still easy for the study to be student-driven.  It is a consumable book, so children will each need their own copy if working independently.

State the Facts:  A Guide to Studying Your State easily meets our needs for state history and local/state government as required under the homeschool statute, and I imagine it should meet the requirements of most states for these subjects.  Parents can do an in-depth study all at once, or spread the book out slowly and study state history alongside American history.  I think it's flexible enough to use any way that meets the needs of your homeschool.  I believe it's an excellent starting point for any state history course, and I'm glad we're able to use this book!

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Lauralwood Books caries many interesting products and curricula, and allowed the crew to also review the Patriotic Penmanship series, Scripture Scribes, and Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, so be sure to check out all the reviews!

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Crew Disclaimer
©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.  http://www.moms-heart.com