Friday, July 31, 2015

Funtastic Unit Studies

I had the opportunity to review Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Funtastic Unit Studies. There are 20 units of study included in this workbook. The first 10 chapters are geared for ages 4-7, while the last 10 chapters are more suited for ages 8-13. This book provides a fun, hands on approach to learning science.

How we used Fantastic Unit Studies
My children and I had such a FUN time with these studies!!! I chose to pick three of the studies to complete with my children, grades 2nd, 4th, and 7th. It was so hard to choose which of the unit studies to do for this review. I cannot wait to do all of them.

Our Senses (ages 4-7)

I did this unit study with my daughter who is 7 years old. I knew going into the study that I would be unable to do all of the activities with her due to the fact that she is literally allergic to ALL FOOD. She can have sugar, salt and water so I knew that I could work with these three things. There was a warning at the beginning of this study about food allergies. This unit was full of fun activities in order to teach and reinforce the senses.

This activity was a fun way to reinforce the 5 senses. The book suggested
using potatoes to make potato people but we did not have potatoes so 
we improvised and used various fruits and veggies to make people. My 
daughter also made a butterfly and we talked about how animals and 
insects use senses too.

This was an activity that we did that reinforced the sense of touch.
We used three containers, one was hot water, another was ice cold water,
and the third was lukewarm water. 

For this activity we used food grade flavorings 
(banana, coconut, peppermint, lemon, and almond). Using her sense of 
smell, my daughter had to smell the center of each flower
and decide what it smelled like.

This activity used touch in order to determine what 
an object was, while she was blindfolded. 

At the end of the study on the senses there is a fun, fill-in-the-blank story.  The student has to use words dealing with the senses to complete the story.

"One morning Amy woke up and saw a rhinoceros. She screamed in surprise and ran out of her room. Her mother came running over and said, "Are you o.k.? I thought I heard a crash." .........................

For the first underlined word my daughter had to come up with "something you see" and the second underlined word had to be "a sound".

Insects (ages 8-13)

My 9 year old is all about living creatures. She was so excited when I told her she would be studying about insects.

The first activity was an Animal Classification activity. The goal of the activity was to help students learn about how animals are classified and sub-classified  into smaller groups. Did you know that each creature in the world has been given a name in Latin. Giving each creature a Latin name allows all languages across the world, to have a common given name for each animal or insect. For example:

Coccinella septempunctata
 Latin septum = "seven" and punctus = "spot"

The student is supposed to come up with a clever mnemonic in order to help them remember the animal kingdom order.


Kids Play Crazy On Frozen Green Slime.

Placing animals into categories

Atoms and Molecules (ages 8-13)
My 12 year old daughter really enjoyed working through the unit on Atoms and Molecules. While she does not particularly enjoy science she loved this!!! Because the curriculum teaches science employing fun and interactive experiments in order to learn concepts and principles, it was a hit with my daughter. Being a kinesthetic learner who learns better by experiencing and actually doing things, this was a perfect fit. After finishing this unit my daughter said, "Mom, this is the kind of science that I like." 

Overall Thoughts
We really enjoyed Fantastic Unit Studies. I would highly recommend this book to other educators and homeschoolers. The curriculum was a perfect fit for our family. I look forward to completing the rest of the units with my kiddos. 

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~ 

To read more reviews click here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Juggling Health and Homeschooling

Summer is flying by faster than I could have ever imagined. I am somewhat in denial that it is just mere weeks before we start our next school year. One thing that I have learned about juggling health and homeschooling is that your best laid plans often do not resemble reality. I had great intentions of continuing a subject or two throughout the summer due to not quite finishing them last school year but it has not happened. As the summer began, I realized how much everyone needed a break away from the structure of school. We all needed to kick back and relax, sleep in, play hard, enjoy hobbies, and just not worry about a set routine. When I talk about routine, I use the word very loosely. With appointments, procedures, etc., we pretty much work our schoolwork around any given day. My kiddos that deal with ongoing health issues cannot help that they miss many school days due to not feeling well, doctor's appointments and hospitalizations. It is not fair to hold those lost days against them. Summer and school breaks need to be enjoyed by EVERYONE. After all, what is "normal" completion of a subject? Growing up, I often times remember not finishing our textbooks during the school year. I know that my kiddos are already ahead of where they need to be because of the fact that we homeschool. Over the years I have come to realize that academic excellence, at the cost of missing out on childhood, or pushing a child beyond their personal limits is not in their best interest. I am grateful that one of my medically complicated kiddos loves to read ALOT!! Even when she is feeling horrible and is unable to focus on normal schoolwork she reads. Some of the greatest minds of our times learned most of what they knew by reading. On the good days we rejoice in academic progress and accomplishments and on the not so good days we "live life".  Education is not just about academics, rather it is sense of community, family, responsibility, and so much more. My non medically challenged kiddos have learned about sacrifice, patience, and how very precious life really is.

Another point that is worth asking, "What is NORMAL?". For so long I prayed and wished for more of a normal life until I realized that our live was normal. Everyone has their entanglements and ours just happens to be, medical. God doesn't make mistakes and time and again I find myself telling my kiddos that they are PERFECT just the way they are. Yeah, they may have health issues but that is not what defines them. They are special, unique, gifted, talented and God has amazing plans for each of them. Through our trials we are strengthened and grow more into the persons that God created each of us to be. Back to normal. Normal one day may be sitting inpatient in the hospital. Normal may be running around, laughing, and enjoying the simple things in life. Normal may be complaining about chores and how hard and frustrating schoolwork is. Normal may be crying and having a "pity party day" wondering "why me?". 

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey~

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Crocs has saved my sanity!!!!

It is sometimes the simple things that make life easier. One company that has made my life a bit easier, Crocs!!! For those that do not deal with enteral feeding or TPN this post may not mean too much to you. 

You see, I have two kiddos with complicated, chronic health issues. They both have central lines and g-j tubes. While most moms are trying to find ways to get their picky eaters to eat, I on the other hand, am always looking for ways to make delivering nutrition to my girls easier and simpler.

Due to health related issues, two of my daughters depend on TPN and Enteral Nutrition. One of the challenges of alternate feedings is the need to wear some sort of backpack to carry your nutrition in. Having tried medical style backpacks made especially for TPN and Enteral Feeds as well as purchasing many other backpacks intended for feeding, I found a TRUE FRIEND in Crocs!!!!

Any parent of a TPN dependent or tubie kiddo knows the frustration I am talking about. Expensive feeding backpacks do not hold up to the daily wear and weight of TPN or enteral bags. Another source of frustration comes when feeding bags leak!! Well, problem solved.

Your child can create their own special backpack

The tubing fits right in between the dual sipper

500ml enteral bag and pump
(no need to secure the bag in with a hook system)
(prime all of the air out of the bag before placing in the backpack)

TPN bag and IV pump
(my daughters bags are 2800ml and 1100ml)
(by morning the 2800ml bag has emptied enough to fit)

My kiddos Croc Backpacks are a part of who they are!!

Have a spill, just wipe it out and you are good to go!! Worried about germs? Well, you can throw these backpacks in the washing machine or wipe down. Dry time is instant or minimal. If totally submerging the backpack, the straps are the only part that will take some time to dry. I wipe my kiddos backpacks down frequently and throw them in the washing machine about every other month. I do not remove the jibbitz to wash. Both of my daughters use their Croc backpacks daily and have had them for over three years. They really do last!!!! 

When they have procedures or hospitalizations we normally add a new jibbitz or two to their collection. It is easy to change the look of the backpack by exchanging out jibbitz. 

I do not know what I would do without our wonderful Crocs Backpacks!!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions ~ With Lee In Virginia

I had the opportunity to review Heirloom Audio Production'sWith Lee In Virginia. Along with the 2 disk audio CD's, I received a downloadable version of the With Lee In Virginia, Study Guide. This incredible audio drama is packed with a historical story that is sure to make history come alive for the listener. If your children love adventure they will love Heirloom's Audio Productions. This Live The Adventure!® is adapted from G.A. Henty's book, With Lee In Virginia. Sit back and enjoy the 2 1/2 hour non-stop adventure!!

American Civil War 
1.the war in the United States between the North and the South, 1861–65. The war was fought over issues of slavery and states rights. 

A Civil War Story
Joining the cavalry was something most boys could not wait to do in the 1800's. When 15 year old, Vincent Wingfield joins the cavalry, the Army of Northern Virginia, he soon finds himself fighting along famous Confederate generals, General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Vincent learns honor, sense of duty, and to take a bold stand for his country. General Lee's strong devotion to God inspires Vincent on his journey.  

There are many familiar faces at Heirloom Audio Productions. 

What We Thought About It
What a more perfect way to begin your journey learning about the Civil War than listening to a dramatized audio story about the Civil War. Heirloom's Productions make the listener feel like you are living the adventure. My 9th grader, 7th grader and I listened to, With Lee In Virginia. My son loves history so he was very excited when he got the opportunity to experience this audio journey with General's Lee and Jackson. 

My 7th grader colored while listening to the CD's. She normally listens to music while doing activities but really enjoyed this audio drama. Unlike my son, she asked a lot of questions about different things that were taking place during the drama and it opened the door to some very deep conversations about slavery, boys joining the army so young, and many American Civil War questions. This was all coming from a girl who does not particularly enjoy history. 

My 9th grader loves history and really enjoyed this audio dramatization of, With Lee In Virginia. Unlike history texts, autobiographies, and history books this audio production gives the listener the opportunity to "live the adventure" through the dramatis personae. 
"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave."
~General Stonewall Jackson~
Study Guide
The study guide is a FABULOUS complement to the audio drama CD's. I found the study guide to be extremely helpful in discussing the story with my children. The study guide is set up to aid the younger student in understanding the story as well as challenging the older student at a deeper level. The study questions are divided into three sections. 

The Listening Well ~focuses on what was heard~

The Thinking Further ~challenges the child to think, draw conclusions, and speculate~

The Defining Words ~ defining unfamiliar vocabulary~

The study guide is available via computer download. While downloads are easy and convenient, I personally prefer to have physical copies of materials. The study guide is quite long, 52 pages. The guide is very colorful and full of amazing pictures. I knew that there was no way that our color printer would be able to give me the quality that I desired. I found an online site where I was able to get the study guide printed and shipped for under $20. I was so excited!! When my copies arrived I then put the pages in protective sleeves and then into a 3-ring binder. Problem solved!!

The study guide was very useful to open up further discussion on topics such as slavery. The study guide has a page entitled, Slavery In The Bible, that helped guide this discussion. Included in the study guide is map showing where the Civil War battles were fought. All of the many questions that my children asked while listening to the audio CD's were answered in the companion study guide. Character sketches of General Lee and General Jackson give the student who is not familiar with the American Civil War and the parts that they played in the war. For the student that may not be familiar with military terminology the defining words lists are quite helpful. 

Overall Thoughts

Our family enjoyed listening to, With Lee In Virginia. I would highly recommend Heirloom Audio Productions to fellow educators and parents. Several months ago we had the privilege of reviewing, In Freedom's Cause. Come join in on the ADVENTURE!! 

"I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. 
I know too well my weakness, that our only 
hope is in God."
~ Robert E. Lee ~ 

To read more reviews click here

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Funky Little Monkey

Funky Little Monkey, written by Debbie Buttar, is a cute story about a happy and very busy little monkey who cannot remain still.  Monkey has to always be:
  • moving
  • grooving
  • dancing
  • prancing
  • roller skating
  • shaking
  • hustling
  • and stretching
Monkey doesn't do what typical monkeys do and everyone tells him to STOP, and just act like a monkey!!! Polar Bear calls him a fool while others cry out, "You're awesome!" and "Far out!". Monkey comes across many others who have varying opinions about his UNIQUENESS. Monkey doesn't care because he loves moving and dancing.

My seven year old daughter loved this book. She is a busy body herself, as well as a ballerina. The first time I read the book to her she sat quietly, listening and looking at the pictures. The next time I read the book she actively listened while dancing and giggling. She said, "Mommy, I am a bit like the Funky Little Monkey. We both like to dance and be crazy." Phoebe gives this book two thumbs!!

To learn more about this book and several others by Debbie Buttar, you can visit Children's Stories That Teach. Books can be purchased on the website as well as online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders Books.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are being donated to AMESPA Research & Treatment Foundation for the medical treatment of children suffering from Cancer or Autism.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Super Genius ~ Reading 1

Our family is somewhat obsessed with Blue Orange Games. Just last week we played a fun new game called, Super Genius ~ Reading 1. Geared for ages 6+, this matching games utilizes common sight words from the Dolch Sight Word List. Did you know that 50-80% of the words in children's books consist of Dolch words?

For those not familiar with the Dolch Word List, it is basically a list of the most commonly used words in the English language. Collectively, 220 words were compiled by a man named Edward Dolch in 1948 and published in his book, Problems in Reading. Many of these sight words cannot be sounded out, consequently they must be memorized, based on sight. 

Super Genius, Reading 1 helps make learning sight words fun!!! The game is unique in that there is ALWAYS a match between any two cards, whether picture and word. The object of the game is to find two pairs, either:
  • picture/picture
  • picture/word
  • word/word

The game can be played alone or with others. There are several variations in which the game can be played. Included in the deck of cards are directions for each version. The version that my daughter enjoys playing the most is Face Off. In order to play, you divide the cards in two piles, word cards and picture cards. You then place one pile facedown in front of each player. At the same time each player places a card face up. At the same time, both players search for the match between the two cards. The player that identifies a match first gets to keep the cards. You continue to take cards from your facedown pile and make matches until all cards are gone. The player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner.

Reference cards are included

My 7 year old daughter and had so much fun playing this game. Phoebe is already reading pretty well but still had fun playing this sight word matching game. What I really liked about Super Genius ~ Reading 1, is the many skills that are being strengthened while still having fun!! Your child will gain mastery in:
  • Visual Perception
  • Focus & Attention
  • Speech & Language
  • Processing Speed

I would highly recommend this game to educators and parents. Blue Orange comes alongside to help your child become a stronger reader while having fun too!!! Whats more, you can find many other award winning, fun games to keep your whole family entertained.

Confetti Eggs