And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Sunday, August 30, 2015

3rd Grade Reading List

Last week I shared Apple's 6th grade reading lists. Speedy doesn't have as many various lists as she does, but I do make a list for him each school year. He reads the books on his list as well as books he chooses himself for pleasure reading.

Recently he conquered the entire The Action Bible! At over 750 pages, this was a huge feat for him to accomplish on his own during his night time reading. His sister gave him the comic book style Bible a couple of years ago. When Hubby & I started reading through the Bible with our Sunday School class, Speedy was inspired and decided to read The Action Bible. Now that he has finished it, he has another version of the Bible that he's working through each night.

He also enjoys Big Nate books and lots of nonfiction selections. Speedy doesn't read as much as Apple, but when a book catches his interest he will stick with it until the end.

So this year for literature he is reading:

Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Stuart Little by E.B. White
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I can't just repeat Apple's old reading lists for Speedy. Their reading levels and interests are very different. I research appropriate grade level reading choices through the summer before I make my final selections. As he reads his books, I research online to find questions and activities to go with each one. He especially enjoyed a Babe coloring page when he read Paul Bunyan a few weeks ago.

Does your 3rd grade boy have a favorite book series?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Better Salad Tongs {Review} #Quicklids

My two favorite kitchen tools are tongs and whisks. They both are versatile and useful. I've been using a regular set of tongs to serve salad for many years now. Who knew there were better tongs out there for salad and lettuce? I had the opportunity to review Quicklids Silicone and Stainless Steel Salad Tongs. They can be ordered on Amazon and shipped straight to your door.

For lunch after church yesterday, I prepped a big salad to go with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. We used our new, nifty salad tongs to serve the lettuce. As you can see in my pictures, the salad tongs really grab and hold a serving size of lettuce. They hold the lettuce tightly without smushing it to bits.

I also served some cucuumber and onion salad. I like to put it on a garden salad. Yum!

We also had dressings, pickles, and some fresh veggies to top our salads.

These Silicone and Stainless Steel Salad Tongs are sturdy, easy to clean, and great as a serving tool. The silicone features make handling the tongs comfortable and keep the salad secure as you move it to your plate. The tongs are also perfect for tossing lettuce and other salad ingredients.

We eat a lot of salads and will get loads of use out of these tongs! There is no plastic on these tongs so you don't have to worry about hidden bacteria or other plastic concerns. They are designed to use one handed so you can hold a plate or other items (like a child) with one hand and serve yourself with the other. Amazon Prime members can get this item shipped for free!

I received these tongs free from in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

6th Grade Reading Lists

Apple is a reader. She loves books and is always reading several books. I love that she loves to read (I love to read too!), but it does present challenges. Each year I find it difficult to locate age appropriate books that she has not read. While she has no problem with re-reading favorites again and again, for her literature studies I prefer to find books she has not read before. She gets frustrated with me sometimes because I won't let her read books that I know she will be studying later. This year's lit list seems short, but I know she will add many extra books throughout the year.

Reading for 6th grade literature:

Children of the Covered Wagon Mary Jane Carr
Kidnapped! Robert Louis Stevenson
The Hiding Place Corrie Ten Boom
Grandpa's Mountain Carolyn Reeder
The Farthest Away Mountain Lynne Reid Banks
Wonder R.J. Palacio
The Fellowship of the Ring J.R.R. Tolkien

YWAM Heroes of History Harriet Tubman: Freedombound
                                           Thomas Edison: Inspiration and Hard Work 
                                           Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Storybook Life
                                           Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea (Review coming SOON!)

She wants to read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I told her it would depend on the time it takes her to read the other books on her list. She reads quickly. She'll get to all 3 LOTR books before May. The YWAM books have all been read on her own time in the last few weeks except the book on Christopher Columbus. You will hear more about it soon because I received it as a TOS Review Crew item.

While reading her school books, Apple also enjoys going to the library to get books to read for pleasure. Here is the list of what she has read just since we started school.

Read for pleasure:

Land of Stories A Grimm Warning and Beyond the Kingdoms Chris Colfer

Evil Spy School and Space Case Stuart Gibbs

Rebecca Mary Christner Borntrager

This summer she was able to participate in a Middle School book club with our local library. They had a fun range of selections to read over a 2 month period. Apple had read some of these already, but she enjoyed re-reading them and discussing them.

Read over the summer for book club:

Indian in the Cupboard Lynne Reid Banks

Shiloh Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The Cricket in Times Square George Selden

The World According to Humphrey Betty G. Birney

Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective Donald J. Sobol

I spend quite a bit of time online studying various reading lists before I make the kid's lists each year. I take into account whether they have read the book before, content, and the other subjects we will be studying through the year. So far in 6 years, we've only had 1 book that the child just flat out didn't want to read. All of the others have gone over fairly well.

How do you pick the books your child will read for homeschool?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Twins & the Turtle

Back in February, I gave you a review of Patriots, Redcoats, and Spies by Robert J Skead with Robert A. Skead. Now I've received a copy of the second book in the series, Submarines, Secrets, & a Daring Rescue, from BookLook Bloggers to review. Speedy snatched this book first and read it. 

He says, "It is about 2 boys. They got to meet George Washington before he was president. They were in a submarine called the Turtle. They traveled a long way. It was a great book because it was adventurous. One of the boys had a really sharp knife."

This book is a bit longer than the ones Speedy would usually read for pleasure (206 pages). I was proud of him for sticking with it and finishing the book. He wouldn't have finished it if he didn't get so involved in the story of twins John and Ambrose as they helped the patriot movement during the American Revolutionary War. This book picks up close to the time that the first book left off. The Clark brothers find themselves serving the movement once again while their father continues to mend from his injury. Their older brother Berty is helping on missions as well. This time there is a spy who seems to know their every move. As they set off on an adventure in the Turtle submarine, will they be able to deliver their load? Will Berty make it as well? The boys must depend on their faith to get them through some scary situations. 

I love that my kids love these books. This type of book combines fiction with historical facts to broaden their understanding of the 1770s while keeping them intrigued with a fast paced story. The book even ends with some reprinted letters from the time period that describe some of the real adventures of the war. There is also a glossary of terms and descriptions of some of the historical characters from the time. Add in the discussion questions given in the book and this is an educational treasure trove. The Skead father-son duo has done another great job with this historical fiction for kids. I hope there will be future books in this series!

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blog Giveaways: Why Should You Enter?

Many blogs (including this one!) regularly host giveaways. There are lots of good reasons you should be entering those giveaways!

1. Free stuff- Who doesn't like free stuff? A few clicks of a mouse and you could be entered to win a small prize like a children's book or a HUGE prize like $500. The best part is you only have to enter giveaways for prizes you really want (more on this in a minute). Giveaways are usually hosted on a blog by a sponsor. This gives advertisement to the product and creates traffic for the blogger. You are helping the blogger out by entering the giveaway and you are creating a chance to get a free prize!

2. Easy peasy- Most bloggers strive to make their giveaways easy to enter. There are many fast and simple giveaway widgets to use or sometimes it can be a simple task like a comment on a post. Blog giveaways have randomly selected winners from all the valid entries. Sometimes bloggers get together to host bigger prize giveaways. These entail more ways to enter for a higher prize value. Lots of entries to blog giveaways can be a simple click or entering your email address. Some ask you to follow the blog or product on Twitter. My favorite entries are tweeting a prewritten message or doing a blog comment. They are easy and quick ways to enter.

3. Pick and Choose- You don't have to enter a giveaway for a novel you know you won't read. You can enter giveaways for items you'd like to have personally or for items you'd love to have to giveaway as a gift (one of my favorite reasons for entering a giveaway!). I like to enter for lots of different prizes especially leading up to Christmas. Our gift giving budget is very limited and no sale can beat free!

4. Easy to find- There are constantly TONS of giveaways happening online. The easiest way to find giveaways you'd like to enter is on a giveaway linkup list. Lucky for you I have a master list of such lists right on this blog! The page "Giveaway Link Up List" has loads of linkys for you to explore. I also keep a "Giveaways!!!!!" page up with the current giveaways on this blog.

I hope this will inspire you to use a few minutes of your time to enter a giveaway. Now I'm off to look for more to enter myself!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Short Bible Stories for Your Sweet Littles

We always read bedtime stories to our kids when they were little. It was their favorite part of the bedtime routine. Now that they are older, we still read stories together from time to time but they usually do their own night time reading. We incorporate Bible reading as much as possible in our family. The new Read and Share 5 Minute Bible Stories book is a great way for you to do that in your family! I took the opportunity to review this book so we can use it with the kids at church from time to time.

This big book of short stories is hardback but with the soft, almost squishy feeling cover. From the first touch it will interest your toddler or little one. Inside they will find bright, colorful illustrations and over 90 stories from the Old and New Testaments. Each one is 2 pages, includes illustrations, has a Biblical reference, and ends with a thought or question. I've never been a fan of Bible stories for kids that stray from the original text and/ or add lots of imagined information. I feel like these stories stay pretty close to scripture and don't add a lot of fluff to the text. Each entry is presented in a way that will be interesting and easy to understand for your little ones.

My own big kids have had fun digging into the stories into these 5 minute stories. I can't wait to take it to church and share it with some of our younger kids on Wednesday nights. I think they will really love these fun, familiar stories! Take a sneak peek into the book.

Would you like to win your own copy of this book? Enter via the easy Giveaway Tools widget. This would be a great "read" present for Christmas!


I received a free copy of this book from Tommy Nelson in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hawkins Humor

Christian comedian Tim Hawkins has been making the social media rounds for some time now. His classic chart of worship signals is hilarious internet fodder. He is also a homeschool dad so I see things from him pop up on pages I follow from time to time. He has a new book out titled Diary of a Jackwagon. This is his "journal" of funny observations, and I received a copy to review from BookLook Bloggers.

Beyond snippets of his songs and the infamous chart, I wasn't super familiar with his work, and so I wasn't sure what to expect. Tim Hawkins is definitely funny. I had many laugh out loud moments as I read his thought s on McDonald's, shoes, and Christian curse words. His humor was fairly clean although he does tend to toe the line a bit. Some of his jokes made me feel a bit uptight (something he predicted and of course had a joke about in the book). It is a fine line for Christians, we should be able to laugh at ourselves (and consequently one another), but I think we should be careful not to take away from our reverence for God or the respectful tone our worship should have.

However, this book is funny. I laughed more than I cringed. I would recommend it well above most of the "comedy" available to stream. There were no actual cusswords used in the writing of this book.

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Christmas Planning

It seems like every August I find myself filling up every day of the calendar with an activity straight until Christmas. Somehow when it is "back to school" season the rest of the year crashes under the weight of activities and plans. It starts out innocently enough with school plans.

I plan our school semester out in the summer with my current planner. After I've scheduled all our school days and breaks, I usually receive the soccer schedule for the kids. So then I add practices and games to our little dated squares. Of course, Hubby's ever changing schedule gets noted on there too. Next I add in scheduled field trips. Later, I will add in playdates and fun things as they come along.

Church activities take up plenty of places on our schedule as well. From service opportunities to Wednesday night classes and committee meetings, there is always something going on in the church. We do our best to attend as many of those as possible.

After all of that is put in, I begin to look at the overall picture and sweat a little. Throw in a dentist appointment and it seems as though we have something to do every day from now until January 1! Somehow we will manage to get it all ( least most of it!) finished.

All of these plans straight through the holidays remind me that I need to get an earlier jump on Christmas shopping this year. I fondly recall the days when I was finished long before Black Friday. I really am trying to do better this year. I've kept a running list of gift ideas on my phone. I've also been pinning some great ideas to Pinterest. I'm finding this to be more important now that my kids are a little older. They don't need or want as many toys. They own beaucoup movies and video games. Both are quite set in their own fashion styles and won't wear just anything. Pinterest and my list help me keep up with ideas of things they might really like so I know what to tell the people that ask for a specific idea.

So dar I've purchased 2 Christmas gifts and have ideas for lots more!

So how about you? Is your calendar bursting yet? Have you even thought about Christmas? What's your best planning tip?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

High School Students and Rhetoric

While we aren't a classical education homeschool family, I know there are many benefits to that method. I couldn't resist getting The Conversation by Classical Conversations founder Leigh A. Bortins to review. This book focuses on homeschooling high school students. While we won't do high school for awhile, I already feel some fear surrounding that season.
Classical Conversations Review

This three part book is packed with information. Part One is all about high school and homeschool. Bortins uses the beginning of this section to entice parents to complete the homeschool journey through high school. She's so encouraging, it almost feels like having a chat with a friend. She spends time talking about her own experiences teaching her sons at home. Her tips and information give confidence to this scared mama! Her approach to high school is is rhetoric based. In other words, high school should be full of conversations. The second half of section 1 is devoted to explaining rhetoric.

Part Two of this book is the meat. Most of this section addresses 9 main subject areas and how to apply the 5 canons of rhetoric in them. For each one, Bortins dedicates a chapter to explain her approach to that subject. Her ideas are inspiring. She includes an easy to reference chart on the 5 canons of rhetoric at the end of each of those chapters. I'm sure if you are a classical homeschooling family, you will recognize some of the methods she presents. Since we have only dabbled in classical education, these were all new and fresh to me. Bortins does a terrific job giving specific examples for each subject and then really fleshing them out. If you are new to homeschooling a high schooler, I highly recommend reading this book for a place to begin. The rest of this part of the book discusses graduation and beyond. The author definitely believes in being a lifetime learner, which I also think is the goal. 

The first two parts of this book made it a resource to keep on a shelf and refer to again and again. Part Three is the appendices section. It has game ideas, a terms dictionary, and an index. This just adds to the value of this book as a resource to use over and over. I'm glad I have this book well in advance of high school because there are many, many, many books in the resource section that I'd like to peruse. 

I enjoy talking to my kids. I'm glad we get to spend a majority of our time together (most days). It seems like this method of high school would be a natural transition for us. Having a conversation with your teenagers is a great way to gauge where they are in their studies and where they still need more studying. While we don't follow the classical education model, this book holds lots of great ideas for us. Even in the middle school and elementary school stage, I have found ideas to apply from the book now. I won't give away any of the book's secrets or tips but my nifty little drawing on our white board came from an idea in the book.

Now I can't wait to read The Core and The Question by Leigh A. Bortins! 

See what other Crew members had to say about The Conversation
Classical Conversations Review

Connect on social media:

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School

Our school year is up and running. We had a solid start last week. We're trying some new things and we are in a new house with a new, huge school room! The kids are excited about 3rd and 6th grade.

We are doing Apologia Science for the first time. We are doing Botany because that is something we have not studied indepth before. So far we like it, although I should have spent a bit more time looking over the teacher's manual before we started. Some projects are already upon us and I was relatively unprepared. That's a small bump in the road though. The kids are very interested in the subject and really like it so far. We are continuing the Apologia Bible study with Who Am I? and so far it is just as interesting as the first book in the study.

We are doing Tennessee history this year. Right now we are just beginning our book study but I'm hoping to plan some great day trips for the kids to really see more of our state.

Both kids are continuing the Latin and writing programs that we recently started and reviewed. They are both new to us but not unfamiliar since we delved into them for the review period. I had them start back at the beginning with both of these programs so we make sure we don't miss anything.

Online math is a hit around here. Right now Apple is continuing with UnLock Pre-Algebra and Speedy is working through the 3rd grade material on CTC Math. However, they are both still doing the next level of Math U See. I don't know how long we will be able to keep up the double math work but right now that's what they both want to do. We have laid Life of Fred aside for now. The kids are already asking for it. They may have to work on those on weeks off or on their own time.

Speaking of their own time, Apple has started a culture study in her free time. She's keeping a notebook and using library and media resources to do her research. I LOVE that she's doing that. Speedy has started his own personal Bible study by reading through the Action Bible. He's also working on some fiction books in his own time aside from the assigned school books. Apple is always reading or rereading 2 or 3 books at a time.

We are hoping to spend more time with a local homeschool group this semester. They have some really fun field trips planned, and I know the kids would enjoy them all.

Have you started school yet? Are there any new books you are really excited about? See all of our curriculum for this year on the pages tab.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is a privilege and a tool that we can often overlook. Even the most devoted Christians can fall into a prayer rut or even stray away from prayer all together. When I saw the movie trailers for Alex & Stephen Kendrick's newest movie, I could tell it was about prayer. I haven't seen the movie War Room yet, but I am very excited that I was able to receive the book for review from Tyndale Blogging Network.

Chris Fabry took the task of novelizing the movie. This is a great book, and I love the tagline "Prayer is a Powerful Weapon". This book certainly supports that.

Miss Clara is a prayer warrior through and through. Widowed and growing older, her son convinces her to move to an apartment on his property. She prays about everything, even the realtor she will use to sell her home.

Elizabeth Jordan is in a messy marriage and trying to keep her head above water as she tends to her 10 year old daughter and works as a realtor. She is angry and frustrated with her current situation.

Tony Jordan is Elizabeth's husband and he's just as angry and frustrated as her. Life on the road as a salesman lends all sorts of temptations. Can Tony fight them all?

In this story, God brings these 3 together. Miss Clara shares her War Room (prayer closet) with Elizabeth. Can prayer really change things in the lives of the Jordans? Will their daughter Danielle come through this trying time unscathed? How can all of it work out?

This 400+ page book kept me in suspense, and I found myself finished in less than 2 days. The storyline is very reminiscent of Courageous and Fireproof (2 other Kendrick brothers movies). I thought it was a wonderful reminder of the importance and power of prayer. We've done so well (Hubby & I) reading our Bibles with our Sunday School class this year. This book reminded me that prayer is another important component of my relationship with Jesus, and I can't let it fall to the wayside. Now I can't wait to see the movie!

I received this book free from the Tyndale Blogging Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.