Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Weekly Wrap-Up

Oct. 19 - Oct. 28
Visiting Family:
We spent Thursday evening through Sunday morning with my husband's family. They live in another state.

J4 had an eventful Friday evening that included a trip to the Urgent Care Clinic. Thankfully, Saturday and Sunday passed without any further trauma!

Saturday afternoon the kids, Daddy, their cousins and a few of the dogs played football!
 Many times throughout our stay we'd make our way out to the old farm and explore the pond. They have two, but one is not easily accessible and we've only explored it a handful of times. The little (and big) ones found tadpoles and lots of interesting rocks and wildflowers around the first pond.

(pic. 2)Saturday night we enjoy a nice big bonfire and roasted hotdogs and huge marshmallows courtesy of Aunt W.  (pic. 3)We also tried a new recipe I had read about somewhere, but I'm not sure where - s'mores with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. They were so good! (pic. 4)The kids helped gather wood for the bonfire and (pic. 1) C8 made a comfy spot for all of her favorite animals (the ones she brings on every out of town trip) and they attended the night's festivities with the family.
C8 made sure to play a few piano pieces before our trip ended. PaPaw joined in on guitar during Away in a Manger, too! I love being apart of a musical family.

C8 spent a couple of hours on Tuesday  learning to sign The Revelation Song. C8 took an ASL class last semester with a wonderful teacher, Ms. A in our co-op. They learned two worship songs ~C8 had never used ASL with worship before~ and performed them in front of our whole co-op. It was beautiful and brought me to joyful, spirit-filled tears.

C8 loves Jesus so much and it shows through her worship, which now incorporates ASL. Watching her worship is touching and draws you into a deeper, more intimate worship experience with Jesus.

There's more to this story. I'm going to need to save it for later in the week, though! (Update:Here's the link!)

*I have to thank Mrs. D, Ms. A and the rest of their beautiful family for having us over Tuesday afternoon for lunch, too. Ms. A is a talented young lady and we were so sad to hear they are moving in less than a month...

Field Trip Highlights:
I've been wanting to hear authentic Uncle Remus storytelling for years! Finally, we went to the Wren's Nest on Friday with a few others from our homeschool group. We learned more about the wonderful Uncle Remus stories, how they came about and the man who put them down on paper, Joel Chandler Harris. We toured his home (with the best tour guide ever, 80 year old Nana!) and heard a fabulous storyteller retell a few of these classic stories.

Once home we read at least an hours worth of tales from The Favorite Uncle Remus a book we bought at the Wren's Nest gift shop - for much more than the Amazon price... It's written in the original dialect, but if you're from the deep south, you shouldn't have much trouble reading it. Though I could read it aloud and understand it, there were many times the kids still needed the meaning translated.
Our fabulous storyteller and superb entertainer!

 Book Highlight:
There is one new read aloud that I must mention from a twitter friend, Timothy Davis' Sea Cutter: Book I in The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe. I had bought the ebook several months earlier from Amazon. I began reading it late one night and absolutely loved it! I finished it the next evening. At that time, I thought the kids might not be ready for a rather intense and suspenseful adventure drama.

Sea Cutter was recently released in paperback and the kids received a gorgeous signed copy Saturday from Mr. Davis. He hasn't asked me to review it, but it is so wonderful I just have to. I hope to do that in the next few weeks. Let me just say that C8 wouldn't let me stop reading that day until the very last word was read! Thankfully, we didn't have anything going on Saturday afternoon and we just spent hours reading Sea Cutter to the very end! There are subtle Christian undertones throughout that the kids and I appreciated, too.

This is just a small little bit of highlights from this week, but some of our very favorites!

Homegrown Learners

Favorite Resource This Week

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mom, I Want to See the Metal Bars in My Head!

Here we are again, less than a month later, with another injury
Oct. 19, 2012 - another Urgent Care visit. He's so stinkin' cute!
 My Grandmother P. tells me it's normal. It's the way boys are in our family :-/ Constantly, at least one of her four boys (my dad included) had stitches or were "glued"- she and Poppy would just glue their cuts at home. I talked to her for nearly an hour today; it's her birthday. I love talking to my grandmother.

This time, J4 and R6 were playing at their grandparents' house, in another state. J4 tripped on a pillow that was in the floor, and the back of his noggin caught the corner of an end table. His grandma and I took him to the bathroom and cleaned his little wound. It definitely needed closing by a professional...

I looked outside and discovered our van missing. Daddy had taken it to a nearby town with PaPaw and Aunt W. I began to panic just a little. I needed his carseat! How in the world was I going to take him to Urgent Care 25 minutes away without a carseat?! I tried calling Daddy. He didn't answer. I sent Daddy a text. Still no answer. What was I going to do?!

Daddy finally called about two minutes later. He told me he took the car seat out because it rattles uncontrollably if J4 isn't sitting in it! Yippee for a rattly car seat!! I found where he had placed it and off we went in MaMaw's van. (Poor MaMaw hated for us to go alone. I promised her we would be fine. We are used to having to do things on our own since we live away from family and it would be a huge help to me for her to stay with the older kids. They wanted to spend time with her and their other cousin.)

On the way to get his little noggin taken care of, J4 began to cry uncontrollably. He wanted to go back to MaMaw's house and play. He did not want spend his precious time at Urgent Care getting stitches! He didn't want to miss his cousin S.'s football game that night either! I promised him a milkshake and he began to calm just down a little bit.

Daddy, PaPaw and Aunt W. were in the town we were heading to and were able to swing by Urgent Care and get the paper work started for us. AND most importantly, grab the milkshake too! The milkshake made everything better!!

Aunt W. was super sweet and decided to keep us company while we waited. She is so good with little ones. I was happy to have the sweet company, too. Love, love, Aunt W.

Once in the room little bit talked the ears off his nurse, the doctor and the Nurse Practitioner. He was so cute and extremely smart. He told everyone about his last set of stitches and how he hurt himself - both times. I should also point out that J4's daddy is extremely smart and has had multiple stitches and staples, too....

He saw the staple gun and started smiling really big. He thought it was so cool that a "gun" was going to be used to staple his cut noggin.

getting staples the second time

During the procedure, he was very calm. The first set of staples had to be taken out and replaced. They were a little too tight. It didn't phase J4. He kept right on asking questions the whole time.

As soon as they finished he said, "Mom, I want to see the metal bars in my head." I took a picture with my camera and immediately showed him. He wore his three staples proudly.

We were able to meet the family at the football game while it was still in the first quarter. Little stinker made friends a few years older than himself and wanted to play football in the grass with them. YIKES!

The little kid running with the hoodie - that's J4.
It was cold, and I needed to get some ibuprofen just in case he started hurting later. So, in the fourth quarter we scooted out - it was nearly 11:00 our time anyway. Plus, I really didn't want him playing football with fresh staples...

What a way to start a weekend at the grandparents!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Sugar Creek Gang Audio Adventures ~ Review


One of our goals as parents is to make sure our children have good, wholesome books to read and listen to. This description from Beloved Books about their Sugar Creek Gang audiobook CD's grabbed my attention-
These Sugar Creek Gang "Audio Adventures" are dramatically read straight from the original books.  Christian families LOVE this series because the gospel message is presented in such a simple, easy-to-understand style.  The whole series is, in fact, a discipleship journey... even parents who listen along witness the Holy Spirit working changes in their own hearts!
Families also enjoy the delightfully interspersed segments of nature study, poetry, hymns, and even science lessons... all skillfully woven into the fabric of the stories.

Who wouldn't get excited, right?!  Philippians 4:8 immediately came to mind: 
From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. -Philipians 4:8 CEB
I don't know about your family, but we spend at least three hours in the car each week. I am always looking for ways to make sure this is time well spent. The Sugar Creek Gang Audio Aventures has been just perfect for our time in the car. It is great literature with poetry, Bible verses, nature lore, science lessons and the gospel message presented in a fun and adventurous, yet heart-felt story. The children aren't perfect, but their hearts are in the right place. You are drawn in to their story. 

Beloved Books recommends listening to each story (thirty-six total) in order, although each can 
stand alone, because "there is a spiritual foundation that is built upon as the series progresses."

I do love having our children listen to stories of a simpler time, even a bit old fashioned if you will. And even though they were written many years ago, the first was published in 1939, the stories are still enjoyable and applicable in today's world.

The narrator of the "Audio Adventures" we are reviewing is excellent. His ability to create a plethoria of voices is simply amazing.  Paul Ramseyer began the recordings in 1953 and re-recorded them three times into the '70's. Interestingly, two of the stories were completely lost in the '80's due to "politically incorrect verbiage" and were rerecorded a little over ten years ago by Mr. Ramseyer. The sound quality of the CD's is exellent!

Since the "Audio Adventures" were originally recorded for radio, there are short instrumentals to signal a break-nothing too distractful. In fact, in some instances the breaks were timed just perfectly for us to take a quick break as well. ~You can sometimes hear a slip of the tongue by the narrator, but this did not bother us at all. In fact, this gave the stories a more personal feel.

We reviewed the first of six volumes, Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1 CD's. It retails for 54.95. This set contains 12 CD's and six stories: The Swamp Robber, The Killer Bear, The Winter Rescue, The Lost Campers, Chicago Adventures and The Secret Hideout. Each story is about two hours long.

You may use the code HSING3-20 to recieve a 20% discount at checkout!

Below is another very special gift from Beloved Books that I am excited to share with you!

*** You may use this link to listen to the FULL first episode, The Swamp Robber!***

Final Thoughts: 
The Sugar Creek Gang has been a beautiful fit. Even our four year old enjoys them; our eight year old adores them! I love them because I know I am presenting wholesome, character building stories and filling their minds with overall themes that are excellent and admirable.

You can read what other Crew members thought by clicking the link below.

Disclaimer: As part of the Crew, I recieved the Sugar Creek Gang Vol. 1 audio stories in exchange for our honest review.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nature Study, Field Trips and Family and Friends

Oct. 6th - 14th (Saturday - Sunday) A Week of Field Trips and Family:

Charlotte Mason encourages nature study of familiar places throughout the year. One place we've chosen for our familiar place is a nature area that is a short drive from our house. We try to go at least once a week. We will go when it's raining, when it's covered in snow (which is rare), when it's hot, when it's cold and when the weather is perfect. We will go in the morning, afternoon and evening too.  It's good to make observations about the seasons and weather at a familiar place.

In R6's new language arts program we are reviewing, IEW's PAL, we are studying a poem that has a reference to purple asters. So, on this particular nature walk, we were specifically looking for purple asters.
We found many!

Our whole family explored our favorite nature area for about two hours. We found a great deer track, too!

 We took two field trips with our homeschool group this week.
The first was a tour of our local police and fire department. We learned some great details about a policeman and fireman's job. We toured many of they key rooms, including the courtroom in the police department and the living quarters in the fire department. One of the most intriguing rooms was within the police dept. It had an enormous  monitor showing more than a dozen live cameras in various places in our city. You never know when your being watched!
The kids exploring a police car.

  • Our favorite resource this week: We have audio CD's of the Sugar Creek Gang to review. These sweet stories full of Christian values and adventure have been perfect during our extended time in the car this week.

I assist in one of R6's co-op classes, Edible Art. We do such cute projects each week. R6 brings his knowledge home and regularly tutors his siblings on how to make art out of their food!
Below, R6 has created a caterpillar with banana slices, peanut butter, a grape and noodles for the antennae. He also created a spider using an oreo, two tiny M&M's, frosting and licorice for the legs. Buzz Lightyear made his own caterpillar after R6 gave fabulous instructions and C8 made eyes and a mouth with peanut butter on the caterpillar's grape head. I LOVE art and personal expression!

On a personal note, we traded our paid-for van in on a new one. (The old one was having a few issues.) It's amazing how technology has changed in the last five years! Although it's not fun having payments again, we are loving our new ride.

Near the end of the week, my mom drove up to visit and join us for our last field trip of the week. We attended Disney On Ice's Rockin' Ever After show. It was nice to share this memory with my precious mom. Here's one picture from the two hour performance.

 The next day, we took Nana to our favorite nature area. The weather was absolutely perfect. It was a great day to explore with Nana. Here's one of my favorite pictures from the day:

My mom and C8
Sunday, Mom attended our church's 15 year birthday celebration. It was another very special day.

Oct. 15 - 19 (Monday- Friday) The Week of Friends

 Making extra time for friends is so important. I'm thankful that this week has been full of friends - outside of our normal activities. 

We enjoyed another field trip with our homeschool group! This time to a farm, and Daddy took a vacation day to join us! We toured the petting zoo, pumpkin patch, baby chick incubator, corn maze, took a hay ride around the farm, watched a pottery and spinning wheel demonstration, heard stories, and touched different types of fabrics. Best of all, we enjoyed our three hours at the farm with good friends!
 While at the pumpkin patch, we were invited over to sweet friends' house for dinner. We had the best grilled hamburgers and to top it off - the kids helped prepare our dessert ~ peach cobbler cooked in the fire pit. Our combined five kids from age 4 - 11 had the best time playing outside games the whole time! Over the four and a half hours we were there, the only time the kids sat down was to eat! ~ We are in the process of trying to plan a camping trip together, too!

The next day, we schooled normally in the morning and in the afternoon another sweet friend came over with her 2 1/2 year old and newborn.  Look what she brought for us!
The ingredients to make Elderberry Syrup!
 We love Mrs. L and her sweet family. They are always thinking of sweet ways to bless our family.  Next week, we are taking our kids on a field trip to the Wren's Nest for a tour and story telling by the Wren's Nest Ramblers! I've been wanting to visit this place for years - mainly for the storytelling! The Brer Rabbit stories are so much fun to read! Mrs. L and I share a love for Uncle Remus tales.

The next day, we were invited over to a dear family's home to decorate potatoes for an Awana class project. We got to visit with an almost three year old, a three week old, an eight year old ~ that we took back to our house for the day and a precious mommy I've been friends with since we moved to GA.
J4 and his "forest" creation on the left and C8's Most Girly potato on the right.

J4 came out of his last co-op class this week with "lion" whiskers. He really thought he was a lion and proceeded to sharpen his claws on a wall of bricks - this was at a restaurant, too. After taking a quick picture, we gently reminded him he was human and in a restaurant.
We've had some busier than normal days the past two weeks. Below are a few of our favorite resources from a busy week:
  • I've also figured out what I will be teaching next semester at co-op. Have you heard of the Wild Brothers? This DVD series is excellent. The kids and I have enjoyed watching and learning about tribal missions the past couple of weeks. C8 and I are excited about turning this series into a great co-op class for 2-3rd graders. ~ We have about three more weeks to explore two volumes from the Growing up Wild series and then we will post a review for the Crew.
    • I've been thankful for online lessons the kids can do on their own. They've used a lot of our online subscriptions the past couple of weeks like Time 4 Learning, Speekee, ZooWhiz, the Kinderbach App (which is on sale today in the app store for only 12.99) and The Pilgrim Story for C8. 
    Most of these are great programs we've been blessed to review for the Crew. They are accepting applications!
    Mary at Homegrown Learners currently has a wonderful series going about read alouds

    We are currently visiting my husband's family. I think I'll save updates from this trip for next week's Highlights. If you are still with me, thanks for reading about our past two weeks.

    So, this post was once again two weeks of highlights. I just can't seem to manage my time well enough to get these posted "on time." Twenty-four hours is just not a long enough day!

    I'm linking this week with:

    Homegrown Learners

    Favorite Resource This Week

    Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    Review: CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible



    "Speak to them in their own language-every parent knows that's the best approach when trying to get a message to their kids. And when it comes to the Bible, the same reigns true: How do you engage your child in a way so that young minds find the Bible interesting?"
                         ~ Deep Blue Kids Bible

    Our family has had an opportunity to use Abington Press'Image Flex Deep Blue Kids Bible. (There is a great 24 page sampler of Deep Blue Kids Bible here.) It's geared for children 7 - 12 years old, and has many interesting and unique features that make this study Bible stand out.

    This colorful Bible has three characters, Asia, Kat and Edgar, pictured on the cover, who are our guides through the Bible.

     Here's a great introductory video for the Deep Blue Kids Bible:

    Deep Blue Kids Bible Experience from Common English Bible on Vimeo.

    Just in case you didn't watch the above video, what makes this children's study Bible standout?

    There are four types of in-text notes scattered liberally throughout:
    • Sailboat notes which point out positive characteristics for us to strive for
    • Umbrella notes which help teach "how unhappy emotions and traits aren't good for us"
    • Lighthouse notes which help make clear the basics of following God by developing rock solid faith and 
    • Life preserver notes which help explain difficult passages. 

    Other features throughout the Deep Blue Kids Bible include:
    • Did you know? this  feature points out trivia, customs or practices
    • God's Thoughts/My Thoughts which are devotions for life application
    • Navigation Point points out verses to memorize, and   
    • Bet You Can! encourages reading of the Bible using timed reading for motivation. For example Gen 7:6-21, there is a Bet You Can that states "Bet you can read this in three minutes! Ready, set, go!" 
    • A wonderful introduction page to each of the 66 books of the Bible. It includes a synopsis of the book, things you'll discover, people you'll meet, places you'll go and words you'll remember. This is one of our favorite features!
    Front information, after the contents page:
    • There is an alphabetical list of the Old Testament and New Testament
    • There is a section titled Bible Basics that, among other topics, has a section on how to look-up Bible verses.
    • Next is an index of Navigation Point Verses, which are verses suggested for memorization. The first is Genesis 1:31 "God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good."
    • A Note to the Adults in Your Life gives wonderful hints and tips for making Bible time meaningful with your child. I love this quote " You are your child's most influential teacher and the gift of your time will build their confidence and faith in God." pg. xiii In this section they encourage readers to visit for more ways to make the "CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible a vital part of your relationship with your child."
    • Additionally, there is an Abreviations and Terms page, 
    • A page of definitions for Measures used in the Bible such as ephah, and denarion
    • Lastly, a Preface explaining how the CEB came into being and specifics about the translation.
    • In case you are not familiar with the new CEB translation, here is a little information:

      With the help of "120 Bible translators from 24 denominations and 500 Bible readers from diverse backgrounds and hundreds of different churches" a new Bible translation called the Common English Bible translation came to be. (You can read more about CEB at
    There are many Bible Exploration Tools found at the back of the Deep Blue Bible:
    • Discovery Central is a dictionary of more than three hundred fifty words
    • I Wonder What to Do When I Feel... when we don't know what to do this section points us to Bible verses to help. For example, the first topic is Afraid. There are eighteen verse references listed under Afraid. The first is Genesis 21:17-18.
    • Deep Blue Notes by Topic lists in-text notes divided by the first three types, such as lighthouse and then by topic. For example, the first topic under Lighthouse Notes is Awesome God. There are eight references for this topic, the first being, God Parts Water Again Joshua 3:14-17 p. 246
    This is the in-text note found on p. 246
    • Life Preserver Notes By Book of the Bible: the first reference is Genesis 1:1-2:25 and the title of the Life Preserver Note is "Why are there two stories of creation?" pg. 3. (Personally, I do not agree with the analysis that there are two creation stories.)
    • God's Thoughts/My Thoughts: for example, the first reference is Genesis 3:1-24 the title is God's Special Gift pg.6 (you can read this great devotional regarding disobedience in the preview link) I like how there are thoughtful questions at the end of the devotionals. The questions for this particular one are How can you obey God? and Name two things God has given you. I want to mention one more God's Thoughts/My Thoughts we just love. Romans 8:28 ~ All Things Work Together. There is a suggsted activity to look through old magazines and such and make a poster with Romans 8:28 on it. "Remember that God brings good things out of "junk"." The application question for this devotion is "When have you seen God work all things together for good?" I love there there are hands on activities occasionally suggested in the Deep Blue Kids Bible.
    • Bet you can! Reading Challenges include the reference, title, time and page. Giving kids (or parents for the beginner or struggling reader) a timed reading goal is such a creative and fun way to read the Bible together.
    • and lastly, eight full color National Geographic maps are included

    How we've used the Deep Blue Kids Bible:

    We used the Deep Blue Bible during our curriculum based Bible study time. We also studied the book of Philippians using the Deep Blue Bible. ~ This is the book my husband and I are studying with about 7 other couples in a small group setting.

    I love the first did you know? in Philippians. It talks about Philippi being a wealthy Greek city named after Philip of Macedonia, and Philip just happens to be the father of Alexander the Great. It goes on to explain that Philippi was an important city for traders being that it was located along a road that connected Europe with the Middle East. Had I read this before my husband and I's first Bible study group, I would have known the answer to one of our first questions!

    Examples of What We Like:
    • Our daughter likes that this Bible doesn't give "dumbed down" application stories. Too many Bibles we flipped through at the book store a few months ago were lacking substance in their application stories. We like that the applications we've read thus far have treated this age group with a much deserved maturity. 
    • We both like that the CEB translation is easy to read and understand. 
    • We also like the introductory page to each of the 66 books of the Bible. 
    • The extra features offer many interesting ideas, explanations and historical facts that we enjoy.

    What We Didn't Like:
    • A couple of times, I personally have not agreed with the commentary or notes. This does have a positive side. It's encouraged us dig deeper into His word and as a parent/teacher, this is a great benefit. In my opinion, if you are more of a Christian conservative, I feel that you must be watchful, as one should be with all commentary.
    • I asked C8 if something particularly stood out as a dislike. Her reply was that the CEB translation used the word "magi" instead of "wise men." There is occasionally a significant difference in vocabulary in verses that we have already memorized or are very familiar with. ~ As a reference for our readers, our family's go to translation is the NIV and NIrV.
    Final thoughts:

    Two main goals of The Deep Blue Kids Bible are to be attractive and engaging for kids aged 7-12, and in my opinion this is supremely done. The special features are unique and are great for study and reference.

    The folks at Deep Blue Kids Bible want parents to study the Bible with their children.They've created a Bible that parents will enjoy reading and studying together.

    Personally, because I've found a few instances of interpretations or notes that I don't fully agree with, this will be a Bible that we will use strictly together. If there is a viewpoint that one of us questions, we can research the topic together. Like I've heard our pastor say ~ I can't remember his exact words but you can get the idea ~ "When we get to Heaven, there will be a lot of red noggins from people hitting their palm on their forehead and saying, "Oh, so that's what that meant!" Of course I'm talking about myself here, too.

    On the whole, this Bible is sure to get kids engaged and studying the Bible in a fun and interactive way. I believe Abingdon Press has done a beautiful job creating the Deep Blue Kids Bible with kids and their parents in mind.

    Pricing: Deep Blue Kids Bible is 1472 pages, and the suggested retail price is $26.99. It comes in five cover choices - we have the Image Flex cover.
    The five cover choices include hardcover, image flex, two decotone covers and imitation leather. The Image Flex cover has held up well and has a nice sturdy yet flexible feel to it.* I just checked Amazon's price on the Image Flex and it's 17.81.


    Disclaimer: As part of the Schoolhouse Crew, I received the Deep Blue Kids Bible (Image Flex cover) in exchange for my honest review.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    The Pilgrim Story - A Truly Unique Learning Experience


    We have been reviewing a truly unique online course, The Pilgrim Story, from Dayspring Christian Academy. Dayspring Christian Academy is a Principle Approach brick and mortar school located in Pennsylvania. They currently offer four online courses, three self-paced, and one live, online course.

    I'd never heard of Dayspring Christian Academy and loved this description of the Principle Approach found on their website:
    The Pilgrim Story was developed by Dayspring Christian Academy, which is one of 25 Principle Approach® schools in America. The Principle Approach is America’s historic, classical Christian method of education to prepare young people to be servants, scholars, and statesmen in our constitutional federal republic.  This requires developing a biblical worldview as well as excellence in character, skills, and talents.  The Principle Approach is very intentional in its purpose:  equipping young men and women to help restore the biblical foundation of America.
    So, What is The Pilgrim Story?:

    Well, this introductory video is a great overview of the course. It shows great samples of what the lessons actually look like. I highly recommend watching this video.

    The Pilgrim Story is a self-paced, interactive online course intended to last between 30 - 45 minutes per lesson - there are 17 lessons ending with a virtual field study of Plymouth, MA. You will learn an unbelievable amount of thorough, well researched information utilizing primary sources in this course.

    Narrated lessons are given in an interactive slideshow format. The graphics are fabulous and the music is engaging and exciting. The music is different from that in the above video. I would describe the course music as a bit more dramatic. 

    Children will assemble a notebook with professional looking note sheets, activity pages, vocabulary sheets, map activities, quote pages, essay questions and more. Parents are given access to a parent pack, which is a six page answer sheet PDF. At the end of each unit, thus far, there have been supplemental book recommendations too.

    Below is The Pilgrim Story Topic Outline from Dayspring:

    (This information is within the course itself, not on the website. For review purposes, I think it's beneficial to see the topic outline.)

    Pilgrims Story - Introduction/Orientation

    Unit One 
    • King Henry: In this lesson you will get a brief introduction to the Pilgrims and why they are an important part of America’s Christian history. We will spend most of the lesson learning background information so you will have a better understanding of the Pilgrim story.
    • Geneva Bible: We will learn about the English Bible that the Pilgrims used. We will also learn more about the Church of England, and the role it played in the Pilgrim story.
    • Life in Scrooby: In this lesson you will learn why the Church of England was important to the Pilgrim story, what the Separatist Church believed, and how the Separatist church was persecuted.
    • Liberty of Conscience: In this lesson you will learn about the Principle of Liberty of Conscience.
    • Unit One Test

    Unit Two

    • Leaving England: In this lesson you will learn why the Pilgrims felt they needed to leave England, how they attempted to escape, and about the Principle of Christian Unity.
    • The Second Escape Attempt: In this lesson you will learn about the Pilgrims’ second attempt to escape England.  You will also learn about God’s providence in the lives of the Pilgrims.
    • Leiden: In this lesson, we will learn about their life in Leiden, Holland, and how God used this time to prepare them for the greater challenges in the New World.
    • Preparing to Go: We will learn about how the Pilgrims prepared for their journey to America.
    • Unit Two Test

    Unit Three

    • Leaving Leiden: We will learn about the Pilgrims’ departure from Delftshaven, Holland. 
    • Conditions on the Mayflower: In this lesson, you will learn about what it was like to sail to the New World on the ship the Mayflower.
    • Building Christian Character: In this lesson, you will learn how God used the hard things on the voyage to build the Christian character of the Pilgrims.
    • Unit Three Test
    Unit Four

    • The Mayflower Compact: In this lesson, you will learn about the Mayflower Compact: what it is, why it was written, and how it affected the government in America. 
    • Exploration: This lesson focuses on the initial explorations of the Pilgrims and how they came to settle on Plymouth as their new home.
    • The First Winter: We will learn about the trials and difficulties they experienced during the first winter.
    • Unit Four Test
    Unit Five

    • Spring, 1621: We will learn about Massasoit, Squanto, Samoset, and the peace treaty with the Pilgrims in this unit. 
    • The Wampanoag People: In this lesson, we will learn more about the Wampanoag people. 
    • The Rest of the Story: This lesson is about the next three years of colony life. We will learn about God’s hand of providence as He brought the settlers through more difficult times, the first Thanksgiving, and the institution of a free enterprise system of economics. 
    • Unit Five Test
    Virtual Field Trip: This lesson is a virtual field study of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Come along with my third grade class as I show you around “America’s hometown.”

    How We've Used The Pilgrim Story:

    We set aside our regular history lessons in order to focus on The Pilgrim Story. Although the recommended time to complete a lesson is 30 - 45 minutes, it regularly took us about an hour.

    At the beginning of a lesson, there is a prompt to download and print the needed lesson sheets for the notebook in black and white - they are full color. We would do this first (the pages were very quick to download and print) and punch holes in the paper and then place them in C8's notebook. Then we would gather around the laptop, usually while sitting on the couch and watch the lessons together. 

    The majority of the lessons were completed by all three children. R6 enjoyed being our navigator through the program, taking turns with C8 to press the next button or choose the correct answers to a multiple choice assessment or review. They especially enjoyed taking turns clicking on the interactive activities. J4 enjoyed watching the lessons or moving around in the room while listening. I know the younger two aren't old enough to grasp all of the concepts taught, but exposing them to the content, I believe, is very good for them.

    C8 completed all of the notebook pages for each lesson we've finished thus far. At times, it would take C8 more than a moment or two to fill in a blank on the note sheet. This would occasionally disrupt the flow of things and the boys would lose interest. We tossed around the idea of not having C8 complete the note sheets, so that we could just keep going through the interactive slides without stopping. She didn't like this idea. She thoroughly enjoys worksheets. Her only complaint was that the lines were sometimes not long enough to write the complete answers on, and she'd have to be creative in the margins. ~ The note sheet answers are easily found on the slides. The exact words needed are underlined and marked with a pencil icon. There was one question and answer in the first unit that was on the note sheet, but missing from the slide show. Dayspring was quick to supply the answer, but as of this posting the program hasn't been updated. Also, for more hands-on, away from the computer activities, there is at least one craft and a recipe enrichment included in future lessons that we haven't gotten to just yet.

    C8, the only time she worked independently on a lesson and note sheet. We experimented with external speakers for this lesson, too. (Her younger brothers were outside observing the largest earthworm ever discovered in our yard and their excitement could easily be heard inside the house.) It was good for C8 to complete this lesson from start to finish on her own, while I was in and out of the house. She was completely self-sufficient - which also meant she chose the location of where she wanted to do this lesson - on the floor.

    The Pilgrim Story is $99 for around the clock access for six months. Access to the course will begin about 48 hours after purchase.

    Final thoughts:

    The Principle Approach used in The Pilgrim Story inspires and encourages the Christian foundation of education our family is pursuing. This course has taken us in depth and the vast majority of information presented was new to me. The Pilgrim Story takes it's facts from primary resources when available, and the "providential view of history is taught, identifying causes and effects from God’s perspective rather than man’s. The history of America and her form of government are seen as inseparable from the history of Christianity." 

    The quality and content is superb, and I love that most of this can be completed independently.  There are essay questions that C8 enjoyed answering out loud instead of in written form. She also needed help with some of the questions on the activity pages.

    In my opinion, the price is steep for one child. It would be nice if customers could have at least two separate 6 month access codes.  Although, our younger two did attend the classes, they would get much more out of this if they were at least the recommended beginning age of third grade.

    I have to say, The Pilgrim Story has been a truly awe-inspiring experience. I've been educated along with the children in the plight of the Pilgrims and their great sacrifice and allegiance to our Father. With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, this is a perfect study to enhance and enrich the knowledge you already have.

    I have no doubt your older students, seventh grade or even older will thoroughly enjoy The Pilgrim Story, and so will the parents. ~ I certainly have!

    We are looking forward to continuing the program until completion!


    Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given a six month subscription to The Pilgrim Story in exchange for our honest review.

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Classroom KinderBach iPad App Review


    The KinderBach icon features Dodi
    According to KinderBach, research studies have shown that learning to play the piano "helps the development of math and language skills." So, not only are we having fun learning piano using Classroom KinderBach on the iPad the children are also increasing their intelligence, in a sense. KinderBach really is a wonderful way to learn the building blocks of music for preschoolers and early elementary students. We truly are learning to play songs and read music!

    KinderBach uses lots of creative characters, stories and songs plus hands on learning to teach young children to play the piano. Video lessons are short and can be repeated if a concept needs more practice, or repeated just for the fun of it! Likewise, more than one video lesson can be completed in one day if a concept is easily grasped. You set the pace for your child.

    Classroom KinderBach App has three levels with ten lessons for each level, for a total of thirty lessons. Within those thirty lessons are an introduction and four videos each. There are enough lessons to last about a year, according to KinderBach.

    There are also six learning games included with the app. We've used all of the games. Even though they are geared for specific levels, we've been able to play them and have lots of fun! The children love the iPad, and this is something all three enjoy playing at random times.

    Here is an introductory video to the KinderBach app for iPhone or iPad.

    How are we using the KinderBach iPad app?

    First, let me share a picture of what a lesson's main page looks like in the app. I think you'll be able to visualize what I will be sharing below a little easier now.

    I'll take you through what the first week of lessons (Level 1: Lesson 1) were like for our family. The kids and I personally love that a functional mini-keyboard, ten white keys and seven black, is located on the app.

    Level 1: Lesson 1's main teaching goals are to"learn about the piano keyboard, find the two black keys,... dance with high and low music, learn about finger numbers and play a beat on fun rhythm instruments."

    Day 1:
    • The first day of Level 1, Lesson 1 (the first two lessons are available for free here) we watched the INTRO video (about 20 seconds long). It gave an overview of what we'd be learning and what instruments and materials we'd need, such as crayons and printed pages for Lesson 1. ~ The PRINT icon will appear beside the GAME icon if there is an activity page to go along with the video lesson.
    • On the first day, we continued through VIDEO 1. A PRINT icon does not appear with this lesson, therefore we knew there wasn't an activity page to print out. 
    • We clicked on VIDEO 1, which is a 3 minute 50 second video lesson. In this lesson, the children practiced a high/low listening game by standing up and stretching high for high notes and dipping down low for low notes. The kids loved this activity and asked to do it a second time.
    • We continued with Video 2.  There is a print icon for this activity and for most all the others. When I touch the print icon, our wireless printer automatically pulls up on screen.  At this point, we are given a choice as to how many copies we'd like to print. ~ If your printing device isn't supported by Airprint, the PDF versions are available for a "small fee" on the KinderBach website. 
    • In Video 2 (2 minute, 25 seconds) Dodi the Donkey and his home (the two black keys) are introduced with such a sweet story. There is a prompt as to when to color the two black keys, Dodi's House, and Dodi coloring page. Then, we practiced finding the two black keys on the keyboard along with the video. ~ You can enlarge the video to full screen or watch the video in the smaller right hand screen. 
    Day 2
    • We watched VIDEO 3 (1 minute 59 seconds). In this lesson, we are introduced to finger numbers through a song. There is a worksheet to color for finger positions one, two and three while watching the video lesson.
    • Video 4 (2 minutes 22 seconds) introduces Dodi's song. This is a song I've heard sung many times throughout the past few weeks. ~ Later on, the kids learn how to "play" this song. They also color smaller "Dodi's houses." (It's recommended to print these out on card stock or simply glue the printouts onto thin cardboard, like a cereal box.) to place on all of the two black keys on our physical piano. 
    • Next in the video, we practice finding Dodi's house with Ms. Gregor, our instructor. We find that some make a high sound and some make a low sound. Afterwards, we practice with fingers two and three finding Dodi's house on the onscreen keyboard. We are also encouraged to notice the differences (higher and lower) that each of Dodi's houses makes as we play the notes. After the video, we moved over to our physical piano and practiced finding all of Dodi's houses and listening for their differences. 
    • From here on out, we've always explored the GAME feature after a video lesson and at random times during our week. The picture below is from game six. Even though we haven't learned all of the characters presented, (we are nearing the end of Level 1 and this is a Level 3 game) it's still a favorite with all three little ones! Photobucket
    I never did notice using rhythm instruments in our first week of lessons. We have, however, used them a lot in future lessons.

    It was developed for children ages 3 - 7 in mind. My eight year old enjoyed doing the activities along side her younger brothers, four and six. Even though she's had a year of private piano lessons and knows the activities presented so far. I think this says a lot for the program.

    The Classroom KinderBach is $26.99 and available for download here. They also offer lessons online (first two weeks are free) and the DVD's are available for purchase.

    Current special pricing offers: 
     Coupon Code:  TOS_crew2012
    Expires: 12/31/2012

    This coupon code gives 30% off any order - homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs.

     Also the KinderBach App is on sale This Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012 ONLY.  The app will be discounted over 50%, down to $12.99! No code needed just the link to the Classroom KinderBach app in the App store:

    Final thoughts:
    Private piano lessons are not cheap. To have about a years worth of piano lessons on our iPad, for about the cost of one private lesson is fabulous! ~ Especially for a younger student.

    Our private piano teacher recommends beginning thirty minute lessons around age seven. I know my 4 and 6 year olds aren't ready for 30 minute piano lessons. I absolutely love that we can get a "jump start" on lessons at home, specifically designed for preschoolers, for such a wonderful price!

    The six games that are included are a great motivational factor that we've all enjoyed. (I like playing the games, too.) I don't think anyone would regret their decision to purchase the KinderBach app.

    In my opinion, the iPhone would be a very small interface for the onscreen keyboard. I'm not saying it isn't possible, but I do believe the iPad is a much better choice for this app.

    Also, sometimes I find myself forgetting what video lesson we should watch next. There's no way of telling within the app which lesson you left off last. I've had to remember to jot down quickly in our KinderBach notebook (a 3 ringed binder where we place all of our printouts) where we should begin next. ~ A small number of times, I've had to go back to the main menu screen and then back to the Lesson screen to get the next video to play when I tap it. The desired video always loads properly after this second attempt.

    There are a couple of issues in the games feature (one game always crashing, others losing specific sounds - clearing the task bar and restarting the app have always fixed the sound issues) that I have been in contact with KinderBach about. The great news is that the developers have pinpointed the issue (Apple changed something considered standard in their code) and Kinderbach's fix has been submitted to Apple for approval. The update should be available soon!

    My children are learning an amazing amount of piano knowledge with KinderBach. It keeps their attention, and they enjoy having characters to identify with during the lessons. This program is perfect for the preschool age! We love it!

    To read what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew have to say about KinderBach, click the banner below.


    Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received the Classroom KinderBach iPad App in exchange for our honest review.

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    Weekly Highlights

    Sadly, it's been a few weeks since I've put a highlights post together. Documenting our learning and life on Homeschooling 3 is important to me, and I hope to manage my time more efficiently in the future.

    Sunday's Highlights:
    After church (and lunch), I took the little ones to Line Creek Nature Area. It was raining - a nice soft rain, no thunder at all. We try to never let a little bit of rain put a damper on our plans. In fact, it makes nature exploration even more of an adventure. I'm thankful for a little girl who doesn't mind getting a little dirt under her fingernails and boys that are ready for anything outside, too!
    So, off we went - Dollywood Ponchos and all. (While at Dollywood on a big extended family adventure this summer, we got caught in a big thunderstorm. Dollywood made a pretty penny that day on poncho sales. We've made sure to make the most of our purchase!)
    Highlights from our nature walk: lots of wildflowers, a fuzzy caterpillar, two tiny toads (if you look closely you might see the toads in the close-ups of C8 and J4) and the largest freshwater mussel we've ever found at Line Creek.  ~ and my waterproof shoes. It was soo nice to have dry feet for our entire 2 hour walk in the rain.
    Weekly Highlights:
    • R6 pulled his second top front tooth Monday! We finally got to sing "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" to him! The next day he said he wanted to do something special for his brother and sister. R6 took all of his Tooth-fairy money (he's saved every dime) and bought J4 two tiny little Nerf type guns, that came two to a pack, and two tennis rackets and a couple tennis balls for R6 and C8 to share. I just love that he wanted to do something for everyone! Once we got home, they all had Nerf gun shooting tournaments in the basement (Daddy included) and played games with their tennis rackets and balls. For example, they would try to keep the tennis ball going around the racket in a game called Around the World.
    • Tuesday night I noticed the kids were suspiciously quiet in the basement. I walked down to find this: 
    C8 had been making up many different stories and illustrating them on the whiteboard as she was telling them. She had the boys' undivided attention for at least forty-five minutes!

    • C8 came down with a cold late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. We had to miss our homeschool co-op. I'm pretty sure we've had perfect attendance for over a year. We missed all of our friends so much!
    • Friday we took a much needed vacation day. C8 was feeling a little better. We traveled to Stone Mountain Park and had the best time! We had pie eating contest winners and contestants on Pumkin Palooza! Here's my blog post about our day.
       Academic Highlights: this is by no means an exhaustive list of what we are doing, but just a few of the most interesting highlights from our week
      •  Language Arts: R6 and I are reviewing Primary Art of Language : Reading and Writing program from The Institute For Excellence in Writing. We are laying aside our normal Language program for the next six weeks. I am changing it up a little. We are already spelling, so we are going ahead and beginning AAS, Level I in the first part of the program instead of waiting until part 2. So far, so good. 
      • R6 LOVES to supplement Language Arts with Reading Eggs online. I think I've mentioned how much he loves this program before! (We bought him a membership back in March.) This is something he will continue to use. I do believe he'd be heartbroken if I told him we needed to take a break from it for a while.
      •  Literature: we listened to Teddy's Button from Lamplighter Theater (There was an excellent sale a few weeks ago on mp3's and ebooks on their fb page.) The kids insisted we finish the audio. It was around two hours start to finish. We LOVE Lamplighter Publishing. The stories we've read or listened to thus far have been excellent. 
      •  Later in the week, we listened to Charlie's Choice, (by a friend's recommendation) another excellent Lamplighter Theater mp3. The character building values told in all of these stories are absolutely wonderful.
      • History: we are also reviewing The Pilgrim Story from Dayspring Christian Academy. We've almost finished and have learned so much! Check out the video at the bottom of the link above. It's a resource like none other we've tried. It's been fun! I'll have our review up soon if you are interested.
      •  Music: Classroom KinderBach iPad app is another super fun Schoolhouse Review Crew item we have been using for the past few weeks. This review will be ready this week, also.
      •  C8 continues to have private piano lessons once a week with the fabulous, Mary from Homegrown Learners. She's doing so wonderfully. ~ How fortunate we are to live close to one another! We are also thankful for their friendship. 
      • Bible: Continuing to studying our Awana lessons and verses for the week. Even J4 has a verse to memorize and recite during class. 
      • We are still slowly working our way through Heroine's of the Past Bible Study during breakfast. This is still one of our favorite resources. 
      • Caraline is a workbook lover. She really doesn't like computer based work, but give her some worksheets or better yet, a workbook and she is delighted. So, we've been reading through the lessons for A Servant's Heart (I bought the teacher's manual used for $5) as a family and she's been doing the workbook part of the lessons. This is the first thing she wants to work on after breakfast each day!
      •  Math: We've been using ZooWhiz, mainly for supplementing our math lessons. It's a cute online educational program for reading and English, too. Here's our review of ZooWhiz if you'd like to read it. It's on sale right now for $14.95. They also offer a FREE membership.
      And, there you have it. Our week and favorite resources at a glance.

      This week I'm linking up with:

      Homegrown Learners

      Favorite Resource This Week