Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

As 2016 comes to a close in a few short hours it is a great time to look back on the events, accomplishments, trials, and joys of life.

Fun events included...

Museum of Biblical Arts
Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
A Year With Frog & Toad at Dallas Children's Theater
Cloud Gate Dance Theater
Le Mozart Noir Ballet
Lord of the Dance
The Little Mermaid Broadway Musical
Cinderella Musical
Pickled Picasso
Nascar Race
The BFG at Dallas Children's Theater
Chick-fil-A Tour
Doctor Doolittle at Dallas Children's Theater
Taste of Dallas
Pinkalicious at Dallas Children's Theater
Beauty and The Beast Broadway Musical
The Monkees
Ranger's Games
Ringling Bros Circus
Seussical the Musical at Dallas Children's Theater
Nashar Art Center
Perot Museum
Mary Poppins the Musical
The Ballet
Family Camp
The Nutcracker
Lone Star Circus
Dallas Mavericks Games
Charlie Brown Christmas at Dallas Children's Theater
Demi Lovato & Nick Jonas Concert
Fifth Harmony Concert
Frisco RoughRiders Games
Dallas Stars Games
Watoto Concert

Some fun movies included......

The Jungle Book
Pete's Dragon
The Secret Life of Pets
Life Animated
Finding Dory
Kung Fu Panda 3

And we cannot forget....

The 2016 Presidential Election

Watching my children grow in knowledge and wisdom is a true blessing. I love watching each of them as they explore their interests and talents from.....

ballet and other forms of dance to,
violin, guitar, and ukulele and,
developing artistic talent along with,
so much more!!

God has so very faithfully provided in extraordinary ways!! I have so much to be 
thankful for this past year. Yes, we have had some rough times but overall I choose to 
focus on the good. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for 2017!

~ Auld Lang Syne ~

Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago !

For old long ago, my dear
For old long ago,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago.

We two have run about the hillsides
And pulled the daisies fine,
But we have wandered many a weary foot
For old long ago.

We two have paddled (waded) in the stream
From noon until dinner time,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since old long ago.

And there is a hand, my trusty friend,
And give us a hand of yours,
And we will take a goodwill draught (of ale)
For old long ago!

And surely you will pay for your pint,
And surely I will pay for mine!
And we will take a cup of kindness yet
For old long ago!

If you live in Texas today you are cooking up your BLACK EYED PEAS.
Here is a listing of New Year's Good Luck Recipes

Wonder about traditions for the New Year around the world? Well, The Old Farmers Almanac
lists some of the fun traditions. 

And then...

Happy 2017!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Watership Down

Today we lost an amazing literary figure, Richard Adams. Richard Adams is most well known for his novel, Watership Down. Watership Down is a book about a herd of rabbits who learn that their warren  is on the brink of destruction. Led by their leader, Hazel, they embark on an adventure as they seek out a new home. If you haven't read this book you need to. Adams was 96 years old. Watership Down was first conceived as a way for Adams to keep his bored daughters entertained while on a car trip. This storytelling would eventually become the novel that millions have read and loved.

Richard Adams 
May 9, 1920 - December 27, 2016

Here are some of the covers that this beloved book has possessed over the years.

If you haven't read this book yet, do! This is also a great book to read aloud to your children. Thank you Richard Adams for a fabulous book!! There are so many amazing quotes from the book that stick in ones thoughts while reading and for years later.

Friday, December 16, 2016

History of the Zipper

Last week when my 8 year old was supposed to be in bed sleeping she was contemplating zippers instead. Yes, you heard me right, zippers. She came out and said, "Mom how exactly do zippers work? Who invented them?". I told her to go back to bed and that in the morning we would google all about zippers. There is definitely never a dull moment with kiddos. Their little minds are constantly thinking and wondering. 

Instead of trying to summarize I decided to take an excerpt from here.

"The origins of the zipper date back to 1851, when Massachusetts machinist Elias Howe patented the “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” His contraption was loosely similar to the zipper as we know it today, though it was inefficiently pulled shut with a flimsy string. Over time, Howe grew frustrated with slow progress and gave up on his prototype. After all, he had his original claim to fame to fall back on -- the first-ever U.S. patent for a lockstitch sewing machine."

"Four decades later, serial inventor Whitcomb Judson picked up where Howe left off, patenting his own newfangled fastener. The mechanical engineer and salesman called the bulky doodad the “Clasp Locker or Unlocker for Shoes.” He created the hook-and-eye-style closure as a single-motion solution to the many buttons that made the popular boots of the day such a headache to put on and take off, especially after a long, grueling day’s work in a factory."

"One of the next makers to take a crack at the concept was Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer. Between 1906 and 1913, he busied himself streamlining Judson’s design, eventually devising two neighboring rows of intermeshing teeth. The sturdy metal prongs satisfyingly yanked into a single unit with a slider pull tab. And so was born the “Separable Fastener” zipper we know and take for granted today."  

I laughed when I read that when the zipper was first introduced the response was, "That will never catch on and last." I cannot imagine what we would do without zippers today! Again, I love that homeschooling gives me the opportunity to deviate from our normal curriculum to study things such as zippers. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Brave Women In American History

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "girl stunt reporters?" Before the early 1900's men exclusively dominated the field of journalism. In order to break through the male dominated world women had to become creative in order to have there voices heard. Female journalists could not get past the ladies' page. Women had to fake their way by using pseudonyms and going undercover in order to uncover some of society's greatest untold stories of the times. Women went undercover in places such as insane asylums and factories. They investigated childhood labor practices, scammers and cheats, illegal abortions, and other dangerous happenings. Elizabeth Cochrane's (aka Nellie Bly) famous, Ten Days in a Mad House, was one such endeavor. Winifred Sweet (aka Annie Laurie) staged a fainting to report on the ill treatment of patients in the local public hospitals. Eva Valesh (aka Eva Gay) investigated a industrial laundry shop to talk with the women about their unsafe and inhumane conditions. One famous reporter was simply known as Girl Reporter. These uncovered atrocities and scandals put these women in dangerous situations but opened up the way for huge change. As a result of their determination to be seen as "real journalists" these stunt reporters helped bring funding to treat the mentally ill as well as establish protective and labor laws. These women truly made their mark in history!

Friday, December 9, 2016

The 3 Multiplication Facts

Learning multiplication doesn't have to be a DREADED undertaking for your child. There are so many amazing jingles, stories, and songs to help your student learn their math facts. Today I want to share with you one of my favorite ways to teach the 3's.

Everyone knows the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat, right? Well, your child can learn their 3 multiplication facts up to 10 with this easy help.

Another one of my favorite ways to teach multiplication facts is with Times Tales. To learn more about this fun way of learning multiplication facts go read my review here. Another fun way to learn the facts is by this method here.

Your child does not have to be frustrated and crying in order to get past this milestone in math.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What I Have Been Reading

I love reading a good book. Here are a few "must read" books that I have read lately. 
Books are a great escape from the craziness of life. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, 
curl up in a blanket, and enjoy a good book. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

High-Interest Nonfiction ~ A Review

High-Interest Nonfiction:
49 Fascinating Short Stories & Reading Comprehension Activities
Remedia Publications, Inc.

High-Interest Nonfiction: 49 Fascinating Short Stories & Reading Comprehension Activities is a reading and comprehension based program containing history and science stories followed by literal and interpretive comprehension questions to engage a student’s understanding of what was read. The product includes a 2 inch, 3 ring binder and a CD containing the contents of the binder in pdf format, a skills chart, a reading level chart, a word count chart, and a complete list of Common Core State Standards. The program covers 49 short stories with corresponding comprehension questions and thought engaging activities. The listed price for this product is $59.99.

The target audience is students between a 3-5 grade reading level. The interest level is 2-12. The program would be appropriate for both classroom or homeschool use. The teaching method used aims to “ensure that what a student learns, how he or she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he or she has learned is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning.” Differentiated learning seeks to appeal to the various learning styles of students, their interests, and skill level. This would be a great fit for a homeschool parent wishing to teach various grade and ability levels.

I used this program with my 3rd grade daughter. I really liked the set-up of the program. Each story, on average, is four paragraphs in length. Preview words are listed at the top of the story page. These words may be unfamiliar in pronunciation and/or meaning for the student. After each story the student will answer multiple choice comprehension questions and various activities including: short answer, fact or opinion, vocabulary, research, classifying information, finding the main idea, and critical thinking. The story content is enough to tell a story without being so long that the student becomes disengaged. The variety of comprehension and skill based activities ensures that the student has a proper understanding of the story text as well as engaging the student in a wide variety of skills. My daughter was able to read the stories on her own. She was able to work through many of the activities on her own, but did require help with some of the more advanced skill activities. Overall, my daughter really enjoyed this program. If I could add on addition to the program, it would be definitions of the preview words.

I would highly recommend this reading program to others. The program is all-inclusive and provides the student with high interest stories and research-based activities.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Charlie Brown Christmas

This past weekend my daughters and I had the opportunity to go see A Charlie Brown Christmas at Dallas Children's Theater. Holidays would not be complete without Charlie Brown. Going to watch a play production was the perfect way to ring in the Christmas season! Our family absolutely loves attending the many amazing productions at Dallas Children's Theater.

A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired on television in 1965. Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts characters have become timeless household classics. A Charlie Brown Christmas aims to present a message of anti-commercialism and the true meaning of Christmas.

Here are 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that are quite fascinating.

The song "Christmas Time Is Here."

Linus telling what Christmas is all about.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue ~ A Review

Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue: Preschool & Early Elementary Character Curriculum
Kathie Morrissey
The Character Corner

Little Lads & Ladies of Virtue: Preschool & Early Elementary Character Curriculum is a downloadable e-book. There are 24 weeks of lessons, each week covering a different character trait. This e-book retails for $10.00. You also have the option to purchase the e-book with copywork as a bundle for $14.00.

Each week your child will learn a new character trait, such as contentment. There are five lessons for each trait, and each lesson takes approximately 5–10 minutes to cover. Here is how the curriculum works. On day 1, your child will be introduced to the character trait, its meaning, and a corresponding memory verse. A short prayer to recite with your child is included to end the lesson. On day 2, you will review the first day’s lesson and then teach your child the “I Wills,” followed by a prayer to close out the lesson. For example, with the character trait ‘contentment’, one of the “I Wills” is “I will be grateful.” On day 3, you will again review the prior day’s material and then teach a short lesson on how to apply the character trait. Lessons may include visuals, questions, or role-playing. Again, the day’s lesson ends with a prayer. On day 4, you will again begin the lesson by reviewing. Your child will then put into action what she has learned, using role-play, an activity, or by playing a game. The day’s lesson will again end with a simple prayer. Day 5 is a review and recite day. After reviewing all material for the week, your child will recite the character trait, its definition, the memory verse, and the “I Wills.” Reward badges are given after recitation. Optional copywork, coloring pages, and a reward chart are also available to supplement the core curriculum. The curriculum is geared for the first formative years but can be used at any age. The curriculum is extremely adaptable for both classroom or for a single child.

I absolutely loved this curriculum. I used it with my 8-year-old daughter. Since she is a bit older, we added a few extra supplemental items to each weekly lesson. The author, Kathie Morrissey, encourages the user to add in his or her own creative ideas or to adapt the lessons if desired. We all know that not every child learns the same way. Adding or adapting the curriculum is great advice. My daughter really liked the simplicity of the program and the fact that it did not take too much time to complete each day’s lesson. I really liked that the curriculum is biblically based.
The one aspect of the curriculum that I was a bit disappointed with was the coloring pages. The pictures were somewhat dull. I would have liked the coloring pages to be more original and appealing with sharper definition.

Here are a few examples of the curriculum. 

Overall, the content is excellent, and I would highly recommend this curriculum to others.

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Blue Ribbon Awards

The 2016 year has come to an end. This past year I have had the opportunity to review so many amazing curriculums and products. Each year those on the CREW vote for their favorites in a handful of categories. So without further ado........

This years winners for this category are:

Favorite Reading Curriculum – Logic of English
Favorite Writing Curriculum –  Here to Help Learning
Favorite Vocabulary Program –  The Critical Thinking Co.
Favorite Spelling Program –  Talking Fingers: Read, Write and Type

I reviewed the following for this category:

I really enjoyed using Logic of English Essentials ~ Multi Level Reading, Spelling, Grammar, and Vocabulary. Having one curriculum that covers all of these elements is amazing. Logic of English does an amazing job at pairing and complementing each of these elements together to make for one cohesive curriculum. The fact that Essentials has three levels is great too. Learning a curriculum is definitely a learning curve and to be able to have three full years that build upon each other is definitely a plus.

 This years winners for this category are:

Favorite Grammar Program –  The Critical Thinking Co.
Favorite Penmanship Program –  Homeschool Copywork
Favorite Literature Curriculum –  Institute for Excellence in Writing: Poetry
Favorite Literature Resource –  Heirloom Audio

I reviewed the following for this category:

Homeschool Copywork was a great supplement to our curriculum. Often times handwriting gets neglected with all of the academics that children in the elementary years have to learn. This was a fun and enjoyable way to not only get extra handwriting and cursive practice in by also learning some great literary, scripture, history, poetry, and other written texts. My daughters enjoyed coloring the pictures that were included on the copywork sheets. 

 The winners for this category are: 

Favorite History Curriculum –  Home School in the Woods
Favorite History Supplement –  Carole P. Roman
Favorite Science Curriculum –  Apologia: Astronomy
Favorite Science Supplement –
Favorite Math Curriculum –  CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement –  Trigger Memory System

I reviewed the following for this category:

I absolutely fell in love with Carole P. Roman's If You Were Me and Lived In series. These charming books take your children back in time were they will get aquatinted with periods of time such as Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, Colonial America, and Ancient Egypt to name just a few. My daughter absolutely loved learning history with Carole P. Roman. 

 The winners for this category are:

Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum –  Middlebury Interactive Languages
Favorite Fine Arts Product/Curriculum –  ArtAchieve
Favorite Elective Curriculum –  Stop Motion Explosion
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum –  Veritas Press
Favorite Christian Education Product –  Chara Games

I have reviewed the following for this category:

My children had so much fun learning to draw with ArtAchieve. Not only did they learn how to draw but they also learned interesting facts about what they were drawing. Simple step-by-step instructions guide your child as they draw a Dragonfly from Ecuador, a Sheep from Wales, a Haitian Gecko, and many more.

The winners for this category are:

Favorite Preschool Product –  The Pencil Grip
Favorite Elementary Product –  Veritas Press
Favorite Middle School Product –  Apologia: Writers in Residence
Favorite High School Product –  101 Series
Favorite College or College-Prep Product –  Everyday Education

I have reviewed the following from this category:

I discovered a gem when reviewing the 101 Series ~ Physics. This science curriculum makes learning Physics possible for any student. Wes Olsen will guide your student through the science of physics, while all along the way, untangling and decoding the most complex of Physics terms and ideas into easy to understand terms. After completing the course your student will have a thorough understanding of the world of Physics. 

The Pencil Grip has a must have product for a mess free painting experience. Kwik Stix are AMAZING!! Instead of the typical paint palette and brush your child will paint with handheld sticks much like what a glue stick looks like. The colors are vibrant. The paint dries  within seconds. Once you have discovered Kwik Stix you will never go back to ordinary paint again. I LOVE this product!!

 The winners for this category are:

Favorite Parent Product –  MyFreezEasy
Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed –  ForBrain
Best Online Resource –  Veritas Press
Best E-Product –  Grapevine Studies
Favorite Book, Novel, Audio Book, or Audio Drama –  Heirloom Audio
Just for Fun! –  FlipStir

I reviewed the following from this category: 

Heirloom Audio brings history to life with amazing audio dramas. Go back in time and hear stories of  daring adventures of figures in history such as Beric The Briton. Based on stories from G.A. Henty's books your family will truly be living an adventure. 

The winners for this category are:
Kids’ Choice (Ages 0-12) –
Teens’ Choice –  101 Series
All Around Crew Favorite –  CrossTimber
I reviewed the following from this category:

Confetti Eggs