Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Well another Turkey Day is down for the books. It was a busy week this week with grocery shopping, school, and cooking. We cooked for 3 days and it took us about 15 minutes to eat. The funny thing is this year, we stayed home so it was only the 5 of us, but I cooked enough food for 40 people. Needless to say, I went overboard, but I promised them a Thanksgiving feast, and that's what they got. I don't know if I will ever learn to cook for a small group of people. I've always cooked for a crowd, and I like it that way.

We had smoked turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, cream corn, spinach and artichoke dip, sweet potato casserole, and homemade rolls. Don't get me started on the desserts. Oreo in a bowl, my granny's famous applesauce pie, chocolate cream pie, and gluten free cake for Gavin. I really think I have enough for 3 more dinners. I have to say we are blessed to have that much food. I just wish we had someone to share it with.

Holidays are always bittersweet for me because I love big family functions. Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my people that live here, but it's always fun to see extended family too. It just doesn't work out that we can all be together because everyone has such busy lives, and other people to see. I'm very blessed to have spent the day with my hubby and 3 of my 4 kids, but I was definitely missing Baylie and Mila. Hopefully one day, we can make holidays big family functions again. I woud love that.

So, I just wanted to write a quick post to say that I'm thankful for Jesus, my husband, and my kids...among many other things. I am so happy that I was able to spend this time with the people I love.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Biology 101 from the 101 Series ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

So it had come time for my daughter who's in 10th grade to take Biology, and I was honestly dreading trying to find a course for her. I was really excited to see that Biology 101 from the 101 Series was coming up for review, because it honestly sounded perfect to fit our needs.

This is the first time I have ever used anything in the 101 Series, so I was curious about who they were. Westfield Studios was founded in 2003 by a homeschooling couple, Wes and Tammy Olson, who homeschooled all 4 of their children. When Tammy was looking for a Biology curriculum for her two high school aged boys, she was having trouble finding something that would fit their needs. Wes, who had years of corporate film experience, helped her create the perfect curriculum for their children. And so, the 101 Series was born. I am always so excited to use products that are created by other homeschooling families.

What did we recieve for this review?

Biology 101 is made up of 4 DVDs, all from a Biblical Perspective. This is also something that is very important to our family, especially when it comes to teaching Science. You will also receive a printable PDF Guidebook, and a 12 page "Course Accreditation Program" booklet if you want to use this a one year course for your student.

How does Biology 101 work?

So we are doing the Course Accreditation Program since Edyn is using this as a full year of curriculum. I LOVE that they lay everything out for you, so that it makes it easy to do. This program is set up to give your student 135 hours of biology study and 20 hours of lab work. They will be doing activities such as:

  • Watching the DVDs and using the Guidebook
  • Making a Biology 101 Notebook to ensure that they have a place to keep and record their work
  • Research and Lab Reports
  • Discussion Questions
  • Conducting fun and easy labs
  • Taking field trips
  • Using the web and library for additional resources

The DVDs in Biology 101 are the main event in this curriculum. I could tell after just the first day of Edyn using this that she was learning, and she was enjoying it! She watches the DVDs, and while watching takes her own notes, because it helps her remember better. There are 11 segments that are then divided into 27 weeks of study. After watching the DVDs you have the guidebook which is some of the valuable information from the videos in print, but also contains your discussion questions and quizzes.

It is Creation based so this course starts with an Introduction and then moves into Day 3 which is Plants. Edyn has really enjoyed learning about plants and the parts of plants. She has taken her own notes, and we have had some great discussions about plants. The other topics of Creation that will be covered in Biology 101 will be:

  • Aquatic Creatures
  • Avian Creatures
  • Land Animals (Part 1 and 2)
  • Mankind Part 1 - brain, senses, skeletal and muscular systems
  • Mankind Part 2 - circulatory, digestive, lymphatic, endocrine, human developement
  • Biology History, Cells, and Genetics

What have we thought so far?

I am really impressed with the information that's packed into this curriculum. Edyn says that it's fun and engaging and she's excited to keep learning more about Biology. She was really dreading taking Biology, but I think using this curriculum has changed her mind. I think the fact that it's Creation based makes it even better, and you can rest easy knowing that this is true information. I am looking forward to using the other courses offered in the 101 Series too which are Physics 101 and Chemistry 101.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}

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Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Commissioned by Chara Games ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

One of our favorite ways to spend time as a family is playing board games, but sometimes it's good to just play alone with my husband so that we can get some quality "us" time in. We have had the chance to review a really unique and fun board game called Commissioned by Chara Games over the last few weeks, and it's proven to be one of our favorites!

What is Chara Games?

Patrick and Katherine Lysaght wanted to design table top games with Christian themes to bring families and friends together. Chara is the greek word for JOY, and that's exactly what they want people to experience while playing their games. Pure JOY!

Lets talk about the game...

Commissioned is a historically themed cooperative deck building game for ages 14 and up. You don't play against each other, you play together against the game, and let me tell you. It's not easy, but it is loads of fun!!

First, I want to take a minute and talk about how well this game is made, because I was impressed. It is constructed of good thick cardboard, from the box it comes in to the game board itself. All of the pieces are well made, so that this game will last you for years and years. The colors are vibrant and beautiful throughout all pieces of the game.

The game is composed of quite few pieces because it's very intricate and detailed. In the game you will receive:

  • 1 double sided game board
  • 5 double sided scenario cards
  • 6 unique player boards
  • 96 faith cards
  • 27 trial cards
  • 4 wood missionary meeples
  • 75 wood church member cubes
  • 1 wood elder's staff
  • 6 wood player pawns
  • 30 double sided stop tokens
  • 5 double sided extinguish tokens
  • 1 converted city leader's token
  • 1 Roman Legion token
  • 1 8-sided die
  • 1 rule book
  • 1 Theme Appendix
Ok, so let me start by saying this. This is not a sit down and start playing in 5 minutes type of game. It's got a lot of rules, and a lot of components. My husband took one look at the rule book and decided that he hasn't ever played a board game that was so detailed.

It looks way more complicating and intimidating than it really is. We ended up watching the video that tells you how to play, because we are much more visual learners. Like I said before, it's for 14 and up, and there's very good reason for that. My daughter who's 15 wasn't into it at all, so we decided to see if the 11 year old wanted to play. He was ok at first, but ended up getting a little confused, so we will wait a little longer before he plays again. It states that it takes about an hour to finish. We have experienced that it takes longer than that for us, but my husband is a critical thinker, so he takes his time. The first time took us about 3 hours, and then we got it down to around 2.

First, there are 5 different scenarios you can play! We played "Acts of Apostles" and stuck with that one because we wanted to get good at it enough to win! The object of the scenario we played, is to build up your churches, and to have a church in every city on the map while also collecting all of the bible cards. This sounds easy enough, but there is only one way to win, and basically 2 ways to lose!

In the beginning you choose which apostle that you want to be, and grab their apostle card and matching pawn. Each apostle has cards that has his special skill on it. As you play you will add to these cards and build your deck from the faith cards.

A turn consists of 3 to 4 different stages I guess you would call it. You first ARM yourself, or in other words, draw your cards. Then you LIVE, and this stage is broken down into mini stages. After all of that you Mature. This is where you will start building your deck.

You have to have a church in every city, and you have to have all of the bible cards at the bottom of the board to win. You will run into many scenarios with those Trial cards that will try and extinguish your churches that you have already worked so hard to build. If you extinguish them all, game over.

What did we think?

Like I said, at first we were wondering what we got ourselves into, but within a short period of time, this turned into one of our favorite games! It is so much fun, and works well for us because we work together to win. I can't wait to sit down with family and friends this holiday season and play this game with more people. It will definitely remain a go to game for us!!

Stay tuned because I will also be reviewing another game by Chara Games soon called 3 Seeds!

Commissioned {Chara Games}

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Chara Games was very generous and let 70 of us review this game! To read other reviews, just click the banner below.

Commissioned {Chara Games}

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Gavin's 2nd Scope was today..

If you recall about 2 months ago, my 11 year old son, Gavin, was diagnosed with a condition called Eoe. This is caused by food allergies that end up attacking his esophagus. He was having symptoms of food becoming "stuck" in his esophagus, but we had always chalked it up to him not chewing properly. The actual problem was that he had a build up in his esophagus that was causing his food to get stuck. The doctor put him on a strict diet since he was allergic to wheat, soy, dairy, sesame, peanuts, and corn. He also put him on daily Protonix. It hasn't been easy for Gav because he had to give up a lot of the foods that he loves, but we have found some great things to use as a replacement.

Today he went back for his 2nd scope, and he did very well. The doctor said that his esophagus is moving in the right direction, and that it looks better. He also took some biopsies to see what the number of eosinophils is now compared to last time. He explained to us that Gavin's allergic reaction to things isn't immediate. It takes about 3 to 5 days for him to react in his esophagus. So, in order to keep this in check we have to continue the strict diet, and medication. If he doesn't eat correctly, then he will get the build up, and have to have his esophagus stretched. This is definitely something that we are trying to avoid.

So, we are going to keep on with what we are doing, and keep praying that the number of eosinophils continues to go down. We will know those results in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning by The Critical Thinking Co.™ ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Language Arts and Grammar are hit or miss subjects around here. Depending on what part of it all we are learning, the kids either hate it or love it. Sentence diagramming was always something that was frowned upon. I really hated that they didn't like it, because if we are going to be honest, the grammar nerd in me really enjoys doing it. I was kind of reluctant on doing the review for Sentence Diagramming: Beginning by The Critical Thinking Co.™ because I wasn't sure how receptive they would be to it. I have been pleasantly surprised at how they have embraced doing this workbook.

About The Critical Thinking Co.™ ~

Back in 1958, John Baker founded this company under the name of Midwest Productions where they were mainly a math and textbook company. Now The Critical Thinking Co.™ has over 200 titles available in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies! It still remains a family owned business, and is now run by John's son, Michael Baker.

As their mission states, they are always committed to helping students with their critical thinking skills to help better their grades and test skills.

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning

Angela Carter wrote this workbook while she was teaching elementary students how to diagram sentences. She was having trouble finding resources that would teach diagramming in a logical way, and also a way that is easy to understand. She went on to say that she started making up quick lessons on her own, and decided to write them down and share. You can read the rest of her story in the beginning of the workbook.

So, I want to talk a little bit about the book. The entire workbook is 65 pages that are perforated so that they can be easily taken out. This makes it so easy to take the pages out, and copy so that you can use it for multiple students. It has a glossy and colorful cover that is well put together. This workbook is perfect for grades 3-12+.

How did we use this in our school?

I decided to use this workbook with both Edyn and Gavin. Edyn is in 10th grade, and Gav is in 6th so it was a good opportunity to see if there were any differences between the 2. The book is broken down into 12 lessons and a review. It also includes an answer key in the back.

  • Lesson 1 - Simple Subject and Main Verb
  • Lesson 2 - Direct Object
  • Lesson 3 - Adjectives
  • Lesson 4 - Adverbs Modifying Verbs
  • Lesson 5 - Predicate Adjectives
  • Lesson 6 - Predicate Nouns
  • Lesson 7 - Prepositional Phrases (Adjectives)
  • Lesson 8 - Prepositional Phrases (Adverbial)
  • Lesson 9 - Compound Subjects
  • Lesson 10 - Compound Predicates
  • Lesson 11 - Compound Direct Objects
  • Lesson 12 - Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns
What I like about the book is that there isn't a lot of complicated teaching you have to do. It's pretty self explanatory. She gives you a few good examples and explanations, and you start doing it yourself. We learn better that way anyway.

The lessons are short and easy. She starts off each lesson with an example that has an error. You figure it out and diagram it correctly. You will then move on to diagramming the given sentences. She gives you several to practice on as you go. Finally, you will make up your own sentences and diagram those. It's very straightforward and to the point, and that's the perfect kind of workbooks for us!

What did we think?

We really enjoyed working on this, even though the kids still aren't fond of diagramming sentences. Darn it. I just don't think they are into it, no matter how good a program is. I really do think that this is perfect for anyone that is wanting an easy and straight forward workbook, that doesn't make it complicated.

If you have any preschoolers, please consider checking out these awesome bundles for their Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™ programs. You can read about the Importance of Preschool Academics HERE.

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Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents by Homeschool Legacy ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I love short little unit studies that don't take up a lot of time, but also have quite a bit of valuable information. For the last few weeks, we have been doing a Once a Week Micro-Study called Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents by Homeschool Legacy.

If you've never heard of Homeschool Legacy, it was started by Sharon Gibson, a veteran homeschool mom of 16 years who used unit studies with her own family. She quickly learned that the short interactive lessons worked well for her children and brought them closer together.

What is a Micro-Study?

These are basically short unit studies. Don't let that fool you though. I found this study to be packed with information, and it isn't dry and boring. These studies are great for grades 1-8. These short studies provide you with a topic that you can touch on throughout the week, or just work on one day a week. They are flexible, so it's something that you could add into a study that you are already covering, or if you just want to have a little something extra to learn that week.

Which Micro-Study did we cover?

We have been using Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents, and I am so glad we got this one to review. The kids and I love learning about the Presidents, and the first First Ladies.

The Micro-Study is broken down into 4 weeks. Each week you will learn about and discuss a President, and if you want to go the extra mile, cook one of their favorite things.

  • Week 1 - George Washington and the recipe that goes along with him is of course, cherry pie
  • Week 2 - John Adams and his recipe is Apple Pan Dowdy
  • Week 3 - Thomas Jefferson and his favorite recipe is macaroni and cheese
  • Week 4 - James Adams is last but not least and his recipe is "Thomas Jefferson's vanilla flavored ice cream" (sounds much better than oyster ice cream which was Dolley Madison's favorite)

This study was very easy to understand and did not take much time to do every week. At the beginning of the study she gives you facts about each President, which we would write on our white board to see throughout the day. I also love the fact that she lists the supplies you will need that week so that you can have it prepared. She gives you great information to read about each President such as history, language, government, and of course the recipes.

You can print out all of the pages so that you have it in front of you, but I found it also good to follow along on the computer so that you can easily access the links. She gives you awesome videos, and links to some very valuable information.

We didn't get to do any of the recipes because my son was just diagnosed with some major food allergies that affects his esophagus. I didn't want to make all of those yummy things that he couldn't eat. Otherwise I think these Micro-Studies are great, and I think that they would be a great addition to any homeschool.

If you are interested in any of her unit studies she also offers:
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Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

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