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Jul 21, 2014

Select a Bundle or Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition

The first ever "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition sale is here!

For one week only (July 21-28) save up to 92% on bestselling homeschooling products, including MANY on Cathy Duffy's Top 100 list!

The bundles are AMAZING, including products such as Learning Language Arts Through Literature, A Child's Geography, Character Concepts, Picture Smart Bible, Math Mammoth, and more! There are SO many incredible products to choose from, all bundled up in grades/themes OR you can "Build Your Own!"

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!


Our "Build Your Own" bundles offer you the opportunity to select a certain number of products with a retail price of $19.99 or less for up to 80% off! We have MANY items to choose from, including Cathy Duffy Top 100 Picks! When you purchase a combination of any 2 "Build Your Own" bundles, you will get the 3rd one at 50% off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

Buy more & save more! Purchase 2 "build your own" bundles and get the 3rd one 50% off! See site for details.

You will also find the following pre-assembled bundles with saving up to 92% off retail: Tot/Pre-K Bundle, K-3 Bundle, 4-6 Elementary Bundle, Middle School Bundle, High School Bundle, Charlotte Mason Bundle, & the Homeschooling/Homemaking Mom Bundle!
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Jul 19, 2014

Quilt 1 - Hippy Chic?

You know what I love about quilts?  Besides the fact that they keep you cozy and warm (which is really kind of an odd thing to be thinking about in July)?  I love that our quilts were made by some of my favorite people.

I shared cocoas with you, the good and the bad.  Now I want to show you our quilts.

The other day, the boys and I were playing a game in the car.  "Punch bug hippy!" I said as I popped Mal on the shoulder.  "What color is that?" he wanted to know.  Well, it was a crazy bright psychedelic, flowery
kind of thing.  You know.  Hippy.

My grandma's quilt is well over 40 years old, probably more like 50+, but I don't really know when she made it.  When my dad came to visit a couple of years ago, I put it on his bed.  My step-mom recognized it right away.  I used to save it, but now I want to enjoy it.  That was the first time in a *long* time I had gotten it out.  What good is a quilt stashed in the cedar chest.  I want people to see it and feel happy.  I put it on guest beds all of the time now.


Gram's quilt is hand tied.  She didn't do the intricate stitching, but I love it anyway.


Jul 11, 2014

Week in Review 6/15/14

Happy Father's Day!


    In my life this week…
Merrick is thinking he might want to give up his nap.  He is two.  I strongly disagree with him. 

    In the yard... 
I think FIVE baby birds are packed into that nest.  Obviously, they should hire different builders and plan accordingly next year.  They flew away the very day after I took this picture.


The boys enjoyed the lower level of the tree house.

That frog is gi-normous.  He has lots of friends in the pond if anyone wants to come by and catch them.


Merrick and I wandered the yard and finally saw lots of green.  And a small deer.  We found a hidden treasure of wild strawberries, a ton of green blueberries, some apples, and the peonies finally ready to bloom.


    My favorite thing this week was…

Watching Merrick, who is getting pretty good at color sorting and making rainbows.  He lines up one vehicle type and then adds other vehicles by color.


    Things Dad is working on...
More treehouse stuff.  These kids hit the treehouse dad jackpot.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

The One Routine Guaranteed to Make You Beautiful


WriteShop B ~ A Review

WriteShop Primary is for students in grades K-3.  It was designed to teach younger children to plan and then write a short story.  We are reviewing WriteShop Primary Book B set which includes the 214 page soft cover, spiralbound WriteShop B Teacher's Guide ($35.95) and the Activity Set Worksheet Pack for students ($4.95).


WriteShop Review

WriteShop is a parent involved program which works well for families with students who enjoy parental interaction and fun preparation activities.  The program has a very thorough teacher's guide which includes an introduction to WriteShop's methods.  The materials needed, how to set up if you did not start with WriteShop A, how to get the most out of each section of the lessons, and using the activity pack will all be explained there.  The appendix has a list of picture books suggestions for each lesson.  If you don't have any of the books for that lesson, just search out books in your home or local library which fit the topic for the lesson.

WriteShop Review

WriteShop B is designed for children in 1st or 2nd grade, as well as reluctant writers in 3rd grade.  I don't know of many children more reluctant than Mal.  You'll find three suggested schedules for one to three weeks per lesson, five to three days each week.  I chose to use the three week per lesson schedule.  The punks aren't keen on writing (as in copywork or even writing their names), let alone writing, so I didn't want to push a heavier schedule on them.  This program made things fairly painless and even a little fun.  Creativity is highly encouraged.

We wrote personal letters in Lesson 1 and the suggested book theme was a trip or vacation..  We wrote several versions of our friendly letters before we were ready to send them.  I liked that spelling was not a concern for the first draft, that content should be the focus without limiting what your writer might say because they couldn't spell a word.

Lesson 2 was a bit more exciting (by our homebodies' standards), with a theme of space.  The lesson focus was on spelling and this is where we created rhyming solar systems.

The theme for Lesson 3 is holidays and we are learning about acrostics.

New skills were learned and utilized during each lesson, such as guided writing, brainstorming, editing and revising, and "publishing" the project for the lesson.  There are also optional Want to Do More? activities.

I thought the editing buddies would be a fun addition to our language arts lessons.  Editing buddies can be any stuffed animal or action figure your child wants to use.  You and your student read the current writing assignment to the editing buddy, check the assignment for errors in spelling, punctuation, and for content, and then your child reads the revised version to the editing buddy again.  My boys weren't terribly interested in including a buddy with our schooling, but I thought it was a cute idea and I'm sure many children would love that. 

I was surprised that there was only one double-sided sheet per lesson in the Activity Set Worksheet Pack, especially when I looked at the sample lesson plans which ran from one to three weeks.  Then I realized most of the lesson involved regular writing and revising lessons.  We set up a notebook for each of the punks to use for the other writing work.

WriteShop Review

A Primary Writing Skills Evaluation Chart is included in the pack.  With this chart, I am able to keep track of improvement or areas of struggle as we progress though the ten lessons in the book.

Xav's Evaluation Chart
 The Activity Set Worksheet Pack contains 20 activity pages which can be reproduced for single-family use.  I did get a second pack locally, just because we always seem to be having some sort of trouble with the printer.

Some prep was necessary since we have never used WriteShop before.  If you start with A, a lot of projects will be made then.  We used file folders to create a Super Speller! for each of the boys.  This is just a place to keep words that they are having difficulty spelling.  The drawback with this one is that the words are not alphabetical.  I haven't started a spelling dictionary yet, but I plan to.  It will make it easier to find a word if they are at least sorted by first letter.


My Garden of Rhyming Words was from WriteShop Book A.  Not being a terribly flowery couple of boys, they helped me make...  SOLAR SYSTEMS!  This one was the most fun.  I used a huge punch for suns and a smaller circle punch for planets, lots and lots of planets.  When we thought of new words and had run out of circles, I just wrote them on the back of the folders.

Your young writer does not need to actually be writing to use WriteShop Primary, as it is a program which can utilize dictation.

Find WriteShop on social media.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram 
Google+




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$100 Giveaway and a Build Your Own Bundle Homeschool Sale

The first ever "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition sale is almost here!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

You can enter to win $100 towards your purchase to use when the sale goes live on 7-21-14! Enter now through 11:59PM EST on 7-20-14. The winner will be announced the day the sale starts!

Be sure to look for the special coupon code you will get when you pin the giveaway on Pinterest!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Enter to win $100 towards your purchase!

For one week only (July 21-28) save up to 92% on bestselling homeschooling products, including MANY on Cathy Duffy's Top 100 list!


Not interested in entering the giveaway, but you want to be reminded when the sale goes live? They will send you a reminder email! Click here and enter your email address and click "Remind Me!"

Take a Sneek Peek at Our Bundles:

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Tots & Preschoolers Bundle

This Bundle includes products for little ones:
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Kindergarten - 3rd Grade Bundle

The K-3 Bundle includes products in the following subjects:
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Middle School Bundle

This bundle features a full language arts curriculum from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks and two science curricula, one of which is also from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks, as well as:
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You will receive enough materials for a full year of high school!

Charlotte Mason Bundle

This bundle features a complete curriculum using the Charlotte Mason Methods for:
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  • Handwriting, and Reading
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    Learn all about Charlotte Mason and enjoy a special bonus (a $90 value all by itself) of great, classic audio books!
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!


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"Build Your Own" Bundles

Our "Build Your Own" bundles offer you the opportunity to select a certain number of products with a retail price of $19.99 or less for up to 80% off! We have MANY items to choose from, including Cathy Duffy Top 100 Picks!

When you purchase a combination of any 2 "Build Your Own" bundles, you will get the 3rd one at 50% off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

Jul 10, 2014

Moving Beyond the Page - A Two Unit Review

Moving Beyond the Page has a complete homeschool curriculum available in both print and online versions.  They have units suitable for ages 4-14; preschool, elementary, and middle school curriculum.  I was offered one online unit (Language Arts Package - Sarah, Plain and Tall - Online), and one physical unit (Science Package - The Land) for review.

Moving Beyond the Page Review

Both of our units are from the 7-9 age range, so approximately for 2nd to 4th grade.  The prerequisites for the age 7-9 guides are as follows.
  • Able to read and comprehend chapter books on a 3rd or early 4th grade reading level
  • Can answer comprehension questions about a chapter in a journal
  • Able to write three or four sentences on a topic
Each unit takes approximately three weeks to complete.

Science Package - The Land  $24.98
Includes the reference book Maps and Mapping
  1. Where You Live
  2. Types of Maps
  3. Reading Maps (2 days)
  4. Natural Resources (2 days)
  5. Conserving Natural Resources
  6. Environment of the United States (2 days)
  7. Farming in the US (2 days)
  8. My Environment (2 days)
  9. Final Project: My Own Island
The print guide serves as both the teacher's guide and the student workbook.  Copyright does not allow copying for use with multiple children in the same family.  An additional set of student activity pages can be purchased for $4.99.  These would be useful for using the same unit with more than one child or if you prefer to not use the guide for the student's work. 

The physical guide has an explanation of the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum, what the unit covers, the required book list (included with purchase), and a materials list for each lesson.  Each lesson consists of three sections; Getting Started, Activities, and Wrapping Up.  Getting Started lists the topics, definitions, skills covered, materials needed, and an introduction for each lesson.  Activities lists, well, the activities.  There are several activities for each lesson and some activities have more than one option, based on the student's abilities.  Wrapping up is for discussion and applying the knowledge gained from the lesson.

Love Mal's cows!  We started with electrical items we never or rarely use.  It got harder, the farther along we got!

Talking about natural resources, we had a funny conversation that somehow devolved into boys being made of "frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails" while Malachi calculated how many tails it really took to make a boy.  We had several (ahem) interesting conversations during this unit.  Here the boys answered the question, "What comes from a cow?".  Xavier's impression of what goes on at a pastoral farm was a bit concerning.


We learned that our small scale "farm" would be considered mixed farming.  You know, assuming you consider a few raised beds of veggies and five hens a farm.


Though we used Maps and Mapping for several lessons, I didn't really feel like it was a necessary addition.  It was a nice little resource with several extra activities and a nice glossary, we didn't use it as much as I had expected.  Most homeschoolers probably have several books in their home libraries that would serve just as well.  

Even though I didn't have a guide for The Land for Mal to write in, we kept him involved with us during discussions.  He helped with some of the cut out projects, and dictated.

Language Arts Package - Sarah, Plain and Tall - Online $18.92
This online version of the guide includes a print copy of the book Sarah, Plain and Tall

  1. Getting Started
  2. Story Elements
  3. The News
  4. The Letters
  5. The Arrival
  6. Life on the Prairie
  7. The Dune
  8. Work and Play
  9. Writing (2 days)
  10. Neighbors
  11. Squall
  12. The End of the Storm
  13. Final Project - Welcome to Kansas (2 days)
The online version can be printed for use by as many children as you'd like to use it for in your family.  Online access does not last indefinitely though.  Once a unit is activated, access is available for three months.  However, you can repurchase access to previously purchased units for half-price for use with younger children.  Some of the pages with comprehension questions can be filled in online and then printed or downloaded as a PDF.  This would make great typing practice for your students.


Access begins immediately after purchase, enabling you to prepare or even begin lessons while you wait for the physical components, such as books.  You will need high-speed internet, a printer, and a notebook for journaling, in addition to various materials for the activities.

Each Lesson has tabs for Intro, Activities, and Conclusion.  Simply choose the online unit, select a lesson, and use the tabs to navigate around.  The Intro tab covers vocabulary, ideas to explore during that lesson, skills covered, materials needed, and more.  The Activities tab lists the activities and has links to any PDF files you will need to print.  This section also has writing assignments and topics of study.  The Conclusion tab has discussion ideas for each lesson or book chapter.

IdeaShare is part of the online guide.  This is where other users of each unit have shared resources they have found to complement the online units.  Sarah, Plain and Tall has 22 items listed on IdeaShare.  Some of the submissions have more merit and more relevance than others.  Check them out ahead of time to see if they suit your needs.

The language arts units cover vocabulary, grammar, writing, spelling, story elements, and figurative language.

I shared Sarah, Plain and Tall with the Bigger, back when he was a Little.  I was excited for the chance to read this memorable book with my punks.  Even though, it isn't suggested, I also borrowed Skylark from the library.  This second installment in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series made it so much easier for the boys to see the differences in the Kansas/Maine environments.  I recommend doing the same, if you have time and opportunity.

The boys were to keep a journal and write in the first person with Anna's voice.  They are already writing a lot in school and seemed to have trouble thinking about themselves as a girl, so they either just told me what they would write or skipped the journaling part.

Some of the assignments in this section included writing a want ad for a wife, drawing a book cover for a story about themselves, learning about story elements, and using a hamburger paragraph organizer.  We've since used the hamburger method for other writing assignments.  It has made it much easier for them to organize their thoughts.
 
Their book titles are Mal, Mean and Tall and Xav, Funny and Skinny.

Even though the two units are meant to be used together, I didn't even try to keep them running concurrently.  There didn't seem to be anything to marry the two units lesson for lesson, so we just went through each as we felt like using that unit that day.

I really liked these units and we had a lot of fun completing them.  The only thing I struggled with was the thought that some of the parental direction was kind of vague.  I like things more detailed when I use unit studies.  I don't have time to be the student and though it didn't involve a lot of effort or even every lesson, there were some points I needed to do a bit of research before discussing things within these lessons. 

Though I prefer the physical copy, there are benefits and drawbacks to both of the types of units available from Moving Beyond the Page.  I've tried to be thorough with each review, but there is a lot of information to pack into this one.  I hope you will use what I've provided and read some of the other Crew reviews to determine which is right for your family.

Moving Beyond the Page on Facebook.

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Jul 8, 2014

"American History Has Never Been This Fun!" - A Review



I recently was given the opportunity to review Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring.   This series was originally produced in 1989-1991 and was tragically lost in the mid-90s.  Mrs. Waring discovered over the years that many people still wanted copies of this musical resource.  She had, from time to time, tried to revive this series, but finding the masters proved especially difficult.  You can read what happened on Diana's blog.  Thankfully, after all these years, they have recently been re-released.  The book America received a complete overhaul.  The three CDs and books cover the founding and expansion of this great nation.  Each book contains the sheet music for every song on the corresponding CD, so if you have a musical ability of your own, you can play along.


Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder is the only book in the series not written by Diana Waring. This installment was written by William Anderson, with photographs by Leslie A. Kelly.  This is one family full of Little House fans.  The boys love the show and the books.  We've even visited Almonzo Wilder's boyhood home with our co-op.  We had to read this book and play this CD first.  The boys loved it right away.  Xav has been cracking me up with his version of The Old Chariot. "Roll on over the devil!" he sings/shouts. They all like Buffalo Gals and can dance a jig like a pro, even Merrick.  Thirteen of the songs Pa played on his fiddle are in this set.  Sweet Bye and Bye reminded me of my grandma who used to rock and sing to us long after we were too big for her lap.


America the Heart of a New Nation (the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad) contains sixteen songs of early American history.  One of our favorites was Git Along Li'l Dogies.  The boys were curious why the cattle were called dogies.  She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain is also a hit here.  The punks have a few picture books of old songs and this is one of them.  As the song played, they followed along in that book.  I've always loved Old Dan Tucker, too.


Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West - It's strange, but even though some of these titles seemed familiar, I really didn't know any of the songs in this set except Home on the Range.  Their titles seemed familiar, but nothing really resonated with me.  The punks enjoyed this one just as much as the others.  It's really all new music for them.

You will not be disappointed with the quality of the music.  Despite being restored from masters over twenty years old, the sound is fabulous and the singers and musicians did a marvelous job of capturing the attention of three rowdy young boys. 

I enjoyed this trip down memory lane.  I thought of grandma and reminisced about my grade school music teacher who introduced so many children to the musical heritage of America.  I've known for some time, that I wanted that for the boys as well.  I had never really put much thought into the details.  Because of that, they had missed out on so many fun jigs and beautiful melodies.  I'm glad I was able to share this with them.
Author Diana Waring
This series was developed for families with students in elementary school and older, but any music lover will enjoy this walk through America's past.  Each book and CD set is valued at $18.99 or purchase the entire set for $57 dollars.

*For the month of July, the special price for the three sets is only $50!