Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Encouraging Tween Quiet Time #spiritualcirclejournal

Have you heard of the Spiritual Circle Journal? We received a Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens to review. Apple was very excited to get started with this journal. She loves to doodle and draw, and she collects journals and notebooks. I was happy for her to receive this journal because I've been looking for a way to encourage her to have a daily quiet time for prayer and Bible study.

We received a Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens and some scripture and prayer cards to pass out.  

It can be difficult to get kids (or adults!) to sit down and focus on time with God each day. It's such an important discipline to take time to quiet ourselves, read God's word, and pray daily. I don't always do a great job of it, and it's something I didn't even really try until I was an adult. I hope that I can teach the importance of that practice to my children early so they don't struggle with it as much when they are older.

Liz Lassa originally created the Spiritual Circle Journal for adults. It was a success and so she created a version for kids and teens to use themselves. The first 3 pages of the journal are pages for the parent or group leader to pull out. This guide gives information about the Spiritual Circle Journal and how to guide your kids as they start to use it. These pages really give lots of ideas about using the journal in a personal way that works best for your child. I love the suggestions and think they would be particularly helpful with a younger child. 

The journal is spiral bound with a black plastic cover. Apple likes this outer cover because it makes the journal look like a notebook so her brother won't snoop in it. Past that is a clear plastic cover. Inside of that is a colorful cover like the one above that shows the different pictures on the journaling pages. Next there is a white cover so the user can make their own cover. You can see below that Apple has been working on various doodles on her cover. I think she will color it in later. On the back of that page is a Key to the pictures on each journal page. There are spots with prompts for things like Journal Entry, God Moving, and Prayer. The total of 9 journaling spaces will give your tween a place to record almost anything that has happened to them that week. After those main journaling pages, there are Summary Pages with ovals on them. Those are for writing lessons learned and favorite verses. That section also has an instruction page to help the user. 

Apple is familiar with the concept of journaling, so I gave her the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens with only a few short instructions. I made sure to point out the key in the front to help her remember what the special spaces were representing. She's been a bit hesitant, but she has started using the journal some. She's commented that the labels for the pictures help give her direction about what to write or think about. Since there are just over 60 of those pages in the journal, it wouldn't be wise to use one each day. I suggested Apple try to do a page a week like the guide outlines. She could add to it each day, and that way her journal would last over a year. I need to add a note about it to her school schedule so she will have a reminder to work on it daily.

I think the concept of this journal is fantastic. The prompts will really help reluctant writers get their thoughts for the week down on paper. I think it would work equally well for a girl or boy. There was obviously a lot of thought and energy put in to this journal to make all the little details just right. The Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens is currently priced at $15 for one or $26 for two making it an affordable option. I think this is a lovely way to ease your kid or teen into some quiet time and journaling. 

See what other Crew members thought of the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens:
Spiritual Circle Journal
Connect on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizLassa/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spiritualcirclejournal/  @spiritualcirclejournal
Twitter: https://twitter.com/liz_lassa  @liz_lassa

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Wrapping Up August

Whew y'all. August has been rough on us. What say you? It has been such a long, chaotic, rainy, crabby, crazy month, and there are still a couple of days left! I'm looking forward to September and dreaming that Fall will arrive in Tennessee within that month. Probably not but one can hope for cooler days, hoodies, hot beverages, and fire pit nights.

This past month we started school. Rough. Hard. Not as I'd hoped. I also started the 30 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool Challenge though and that has made a HUGE difference in my own attitude! Even though it's about a week in, you can jump in now! There is a digital journal you can purchase, but it totally optional. I've just been using a notebook.

I've found some new favorite music. Selah's Greatest Hymns Volume 2 is AMAZING! So thankful a Facebook friend recommended it. I love it.

We are getting close to the end of the Schoolhouse Review Crew year. If you are a blogger who regularly blogs and might enjoy reviewing homeschool curriculum, keep an eye out for information on applying for the Crew for the 2017 run. It has been such a blessing to our family to try so many amazing products! The Crew is an amazing resource of wonderful people who are supportive and wonderful to work with so you should totally apply when it comes up!

Even though we met so many challenges this month, there are plenty of things to be grateful for and excited about. We have some changes on the horizon so I'm feeling hesitant about September. However I know God has the ultimate plan in place before us.

Since I am wrapping up the month for you, I'll give you a hospitality update as well. August was a little better as we had a family game night we hosted. It's something we once did regularly but don't seem to do very often anymore. I enjoyed the evening with lots of laughs and some fun games. I counted it victory to have that game night and to let one of the kids have a sleepover in the midst of the craziness of August.

How are you doing with your word of the year or goals for 2016?

HomeSchool Scholastics for Health #homeschoolnutrition

HomeSchool Scholastics, an i4 Learning Company, sent us a WAY Comes Home Kit for review. This health and wellness curriculum comes with 3 levels of learning for K-5th graders. We received a huge package with loads of goodies to get Speedy started on Health this school year. It included book work as well as items for hands on learning.

I was so impressed with all the materials we received. WAY Comes Home included a WAY parent guidebook, 3 student journals, a My Plate booklet, and a DVD. Those items are all for the first 5 modules or lessons of the program. Each journal corresponds with one level (K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th). We also received a large pack of printed pages (Art Card Stock) and vocabulary cards.

In addition to those lesson items, HomeSchool Scholastics included a Fulcrum Balance Scale, eye chart, measuring tape, stethoscope. plastic trays, glitter, fingerprint ink pad, foam balls, plastic eggs, and transparent counters. These items were used in many of the suggested hands on activities throughout the lessons.

The WAY Parent Guidebook will lead you through suggested lessons for each level. This program is designed to be very flexible to work for any family. There are three levels, and the guidebook gives 3 distinct lessons for each level. It also includes ways to include children of other levels so that you only need to teach one lesson if you have multiple students of different grades. The DVD has physical activity videos for each level. These are fast paced exercises to get your kids (and you!) moving in your own home. The DVD also includes lessons for the modules for each level.

The guidebook gives the teacher lessons to read or go over with the students. It starts with a Parent Prep section. That's information to be read before doing the lesson and suggestions on topics to cover. Then, there is a Lesson at a Glance page. It has all the Vocab words and a supply list. As I said, HomeSchool Scholastic has included most of the supplies you will need. There are even suggestions for books to expand the topic. The What to Do section tells you how to implement the lesson. A page called Include Me Too! gives those suggestions for allowing older and younger students to participate. There's even a Bible verse and a quote to go with the lesson. Art Attack, Weekends with WAY, WAY More Resources, and WAY More Fun give you ideas for continuing the lessons.

The student levels each have a theme. Health Safari is fun for K-1st grade. 2nd-3rd graders get to investigate Me Mysteries. Speedy "went" on the Innerspace Adventure for 4th-5th graders. Each level of the student journals corresponds with the theme. The journals have blank covers so the students can design their own. The themed material was mostly limited to the videos for the lessons.

We took the 5 included lessons and spread them out over about 5 weeks. Most weeks Speedy worked on the materials 2-3 days. One week he was keeping an activity log so he had a little something to do each day. It would be very easy to follow all the extra ideas and stretch these lessons to last longer. Those who purchase these materials are given online access to 3 new lessons quarterly. I was sent an example of the printable materials for one extra lesson, and it was very similar to the content included in our printed materials. There did seem to be more lesson activities including a quiz in that additional material.

Speedy enjoyed WAY Comes Home, and I thought it was a great way to introduce Health and Wellness lessons to an elementary student. This is one homeschool kit that I think would work even better for larger families. I felt like we missed out on trying many of the aspects since we were using the highest level. Most of the hands on materials were included for use in the Health Safari or Me Mysteries lessons. Many of the additional printed pages were for those levels as well. Speedy's level did use the stethoscope and measuring tape. The other two levels seemed comparable in set up and lesson plans, but there definitely seem to be more activities involved for the lower grades. I am certain Apple and Speedy will find some fun uses for those other materials. Now I'm off to hide that glitter...

Find out how other Crew members used WAY Comes Home with their students:
WAY Comes Home Kit Review

Connect on Social Media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WAYComesHome
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WAYComesHome @WAYComesHome
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/i4learning/

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Step Outside

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.“
Winnie the Pooh

It really made me laugh when I saw this quote this morning (thanks Crew leaders!). This is certainly something we have struggled with the last few years. We were in a church surrounded by friends of like ages with kids of similar ages that just fit our family. Most of us moms stayed at home and eventually became homeschoolers. The dads all bonded and found similar interests. We were able to study the Word, lift each other up in hard times, and pray for one another consistently. It was such a blessed time. Of course, I didn't always recognize the specialness of that time at the time. Isn't that the way?

When that season came to a close, we found ourselves embracing our community. We reconnected with neighbors and friends who lived closer to us. Our kids got a little older and became involved in sports in that area. We found ourselves in a different time, much different, but still so wonderful. We worshiped with friends. We spent our weekends among those we'd known for years. We enjoyed life with others who were enjoying life too.

When we moved from that community, it was a big adjustment. It feels like time has just blown right by. It's hard to grasp how quickly two and a half years have passed. We find ourselves living in a place where we still aren't quite established. Our kids play some sports here. We've met some people. We just haven't found our place here. I really began to feel the loss of that back at the end of 2015. When I decided my word for 2016 would be "Hospitality", I think I had it in mind that I needed to open my home to people from our area. To be honest, that's not happened much at all. Yet. Because 2016 still isn't over. Because things can change quickly. Because we are making steps to find friends here.

We aren't waiting for them to come to us. It isn't like someone is just going to ring the doorbell and want to come in for coffee and be BFFs. We have to roll up our sleeves, push down our anxiety, and take ourselves out of our corner. Sometimes it just takes a quote from Pooh to put it all in perspective.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Mania

Today is a tough day. It's Monday. Ugh, right? There's a backhoe digging in the neighbor's yard. My kids just want to stare out the window at it. We got a new lamp for the schoolroom so it would be brighter. How many times can we talk about the new lamp?

I spent time last night reprinting their schedules and writing their lessons for the week on their printable planner pages. I made sure they had all the books and supplies they needed when we started school. How are we already on week 4? How can their areas look like little bombs went off? How come they can't find anything they need? Why do they ask me what to do for math or what's left or how many pages to read when I wrote it all down for them on those printable pages?

Why do they ask what time it is when there are clocks everywhere? Why can't they find a pencil when there are at least a thousand in this room? Why all the chit chat? Seriously. Chit chat. All the time. So I go from nicely saying, "No more talking," to screaming, "STOP CHIT-CHATTING!"

My to-do list is swimming around in my brain, and I'm jumping from task to task. I can't concentrate any better than they do somedays.

Now is when I need a sweet word from the Lord. I need a moment to breath and focus on what is important. I need to remember...

Proverbs 3:5-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

And for added measure, I need to step away from social media. I need to look away from all the perfect, pretty pins on Pinterest. I need to focus on my husband and my children and MY life. Everyone else's life isn't for me. I don't want to be them. I have my own Monday Mania to work on. May your Monday be peaceful, full of joy and laughter, and made just for you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Unique Puzzle Review #shakestirsolve

Enlivenze LLC recently sent us one of their FlipStir Puzzles for review. We received the Tyrannosaurus Rex puzzle. It is a Level 1 (their easiest level) and has 10 plastic puzzle pieces inside a sealed clear, plastic cylinder. There is a metal stirring stick with a plastic end that you use to manipulate the pieces to solve the puzzle.

Each puzzle piece is a plastic semicircle with a portion of the picture on one side. The pieces can be manipulated all around inside the container. Honestly I thought a 10 piece puzzle would be easy breezy. This thing can be tricky! I was the first to solve it, and it took me at least 20 minutes. While it wasn't as simple as I expected it to be, it was fun! While there are only 10 pieces, they can flip from side to side inside the cylinder, and you must find a method to separate pieces that are correctly placed and pieces that need to be moved. It can also be difficult to manipulate the pieces with that little plastic end on the stirring stick.

The kids were both very excited when our new puzzle arrived. They argued over who would get to try it out first.

Big sister won that battle and tried her hand at putting T-Rex together. When it wasn't as easy as she expected, she passed it on to little brother.

He had a little strategy going but ultimately gave up. 

A family friend put it together in a little less time than it took me. There were lots of laughs as we watched him figure it out. The kids have played with it several times, but neither has concentrated enough to solve the puzzle. I can really see them spending more time figuring it out in the winter when they are stuck inside. They have just been too on the go the last few weeks to do anything inside that they didn't have to do. Both have declared that it is a fun puzzle!

I did it! And I had to really refrain from taking the label off so I could see my beautiful puzzle!

FlipStir puzzles come in 2 levels, and there are several different options. The level 2 puzzles have more pieces and the edges are wavy! I have a feeling those would take me much more than 20 minutes. Other available puzzles are the Solar System, Stature of Liberty, Periodic Table, and Rainbow Pencils. These puzzles would be great incentive for finishing a particular topic or study during homeschool. For instance, I know Speedy would LOVE to receive the Solar System puzzle as a reward when he finished Astronomy. The Periodic Table would be a lovely present after your student memorizes the table. This would also be a great activity for car trips since none of the pieces can get lost. I may stick ours in the car so Speedy will have an activity for days when we are waiting on Apple to get out of her classes. I like that these puzzles require some strategy to solve them and that they are sturdy so there's no worry of them breaking!

See which FlipStir Puzzles the other Crew members received:
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Find out more about the FlipStir puzzles on Social Media:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/flipstirpuzzle
Twitter: www.twitter.com/flipstir

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Speaking Spanish #homeschoolspanish

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids sent us a full Spanish  Starter Set 1 to review. Our set included a DVD, stickers, the Go Squish Cardgame, and three levels of student books and teacher guides. The Volume 1 DVD includes 3 video episodes. One video is for each of the included levels.

This is a conversational Spanish course for a range of ages. It is recommended for students ages 5-14. The videos exclusively use Spanish for speaking and for any labels or words that are included. The goal is for the students to watch the movies over and over until they have learned all the Spanish words in each episode. The workbooks and games support the DVD.

The whole program is based on flights. The first flight goes to Lima, Peru. The second one is going to Bogota, Columbia, and the third one is headed for San Jose, Costa Rica. The flight aspect is a short segment at the very beginning of each video. The student workbooks are "In-Flight Magazines". The lessons within those workbooks cover a little information about each of the destinations. For instance, the first level suggests the student draw the flag of Peru.

Apple's version of Peru's flag

The first video is named "Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast", and it portrays a morning in the home of 3 brothers. Their mom is making breakfast, and they are interacting. The dialogue is all in Spanish and every once in a while a little short sidetrack is given to explain the meaning of a word. Those are completely in Spanish as well. The Spanish words are also displayed during the video on T-shirts, signs, and in random places. The set also included Spanish word stickers to use around the house. 

Apple has been the one trying out this program. She was able to complete the first level during our trial period. She worked on it 2-3 days per week. The lessons and video are short so it took her less than 20 minutes most days. While Apple has been watching the video over and over, Speedy has picked up many of the words even when he wasn't in the same room with her. I've heard both of them subbing Spanish words for "breakfast", "apple", and "I like". 

Flight 1 includes 11 suggested "lessons". This program is very adaptable, but offers lesson plans including how much of the video to watch, suggested games to play, and workbook pages to complete. Lessons 2 and 3 are a little longer. Those videos are titled "The Little Magic House" and "The Little Magic House Part 2". Part 1 includes 18 lessons, and Part 2 includes 22 lessons. Each video ends with a "Rapid Review" section for students to practice all the words they are learning.

I think this is a great immersion technique for teaching Spanish. It is certainly geared towards younger students, but I enjoyed watching the videos as a review of the Spanish I learned in high school. From completion certificates to the brightly colored workbooks full of fun word searches and crosswords, the lessons are engaging. I think it is a fun concept to have the videos based on going through a regular day. The beginning flight segments are a great way to incorporate some geography in the lessons. I like that she can independently complete most of the lessons. She does need another person or two for the card games though! If I had one suggestion, it would be to move the answer keys from the back of the student workbooks into the teacher guides. Apple is looking forward to completing Levels 2 and 3, and there are more DVD Volumes with guides we can purchase in the future to continue the study.

See what other members of the Crew thought of this FL4K Spanish Starter Set 1:
Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

Connect with Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids on Facebook.

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