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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Moisturizing the Mama Feet #naturalbodycare

Winter is gone, and we are left with dry skin. Just in the nick of time Devonian sent me a bottle of GREEMU Beauty Oil for review. This cruelty free oil mocks emu oil with all natural plant based ingredients. This 4 oz bottle packs a big punch! It is distributed by Koru Naturals.


The recommendations for this oil were to use it on the face or hair. I have hair that can be very oily and skin that can be very oily so I was hesitant to use it in that way. I did try it on my face once. I wasn't a big fan of it. While it wasn't an overly oily experience, I did feel like my face was shiny most of the day. I do use oils on my hair occasionally but generally as a finishing product so I never gave this a try on the tresses. I tried it on some dry spots Apple had on her skin. It was very moisturizing on those spots and didn't cause any issues with her sensitive skin. Her skin issues tend to come and go so I needed to figure out a way to regularly utilize it during my review period but what to do? I decided my poor, dry mama feet could use some oil!

Just about every night I have been rubbing a dab of this oil on the soles of each foot. This oil is odorless and fairly light for an oil. It has a slight color to it and a little bit goes a long way. So I put some on my feet before bed each night and put on socks. I'm not a big fan of sleeping in socks, but I figured it was the best routine. Plus it was a double benefit because my hands got moisturized each night as well. I could tell a difference in my feet in less than a week. Over a few weeks time with regular use, my feet have shown great improvement. I mean they're still mama feet and have some dryness to them, but they aren't too scary for flip flops! Using it this way, this small green bottle will last me a long time. I do think I will have to consistently apply it to keep the benefits going. I wish the bottle was a pump. I've made the bottle all oily opening and closing it during use. 

This little bit is more than enough for one
foot and ankle area. 

Nobody really wants to see my feet but
I felt obligated to show you my results. :)


Emu oil is recommended for many uses. GREEMU oil is a plant based formula that is similar in composition. The ingredients include familar names like Macadamia Seed Oil and Shea Butter. It can be used on hair and skin. Since this is a plant based cruelty free oil there is no compromise for vegans looking for beauty products. Apple is an animal lover and was happy to hear that no animals are harmed or used for this product. I think this would be a great alternative product for emu oil users based on my experience with GREEMU. 

See how the other Crew members used GREEMU:
Greemu Devonian Review
Social Media Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/korunaturals
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/korunaturals/



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Monday, April 25, 2016

yawn.



I love to sleep, but sleep is usually a struggle for me. I've always tended towards being a night owl. I enjoy sleeping until at least 8 am. That has never been possible on a regular basis, but it would be the ideal. When the kids began to have some school time struggles recently, I laid out a schedule.

It is not easy for us to follow a regular time schedule. Hubby works various shifts and so it is harder for me to have a set time to go to sleep each night. However for the last couple of months I've been getting up at 6:30. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I am still struggling. Every. Day. And in reality the schedule has only helped minimally.

Even though the benefits haven't been amazing, the kids really like the schedules. Weird. The reason we've not had a schedule all this time is because Apple always wanted to pick the order of her subjects. Now she seems to like having it lined out. Speedy also likes having a specific time to do certain subjects although he struggles with completing his work in the alloted time frame.

I just made a simple template and filled in the particulars. I've already adjusted it a couple of times as we finish subjects and begin new review items. For the fall I plan to set something a little more long term, but this has been a great period to test it out.

So even though I'm tired. Like chronically exhausted. We're going to keep giving this a go. Do you wake up at a certain time each day? Do your students have a timed schedule for their schoolwork? Yawn. I need more coffee


I'm linking this post up with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude as they near the end of this run of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Make sure to check out all the other "y" posts!


. Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=

Enjoying History Through a Read Aloud #heroesthenandnow

Have you ever heard of Louis Zamperini? I had not until YWAM Publishing sent us the book Heroes of History: Louis Zamperini: Redemption to review. The kids LOVE YWAM books and so do I! They are some of our favorites to read aloud together. YWAM also sent me the Digital Unit Study which we utilized too.

Louie Zamperini was an Olympic runner in 1936. In World War II, he was a bombardier for the Army Air Corps. Then he survived a plane crash only to become a POW. His life story is certainly an interesting read! His grit and determination are inspiring. The details of the things he endured are hard to read, but I think it has been eye opening for my kids to hear about circumstances so different than what they see day to day. Some of the things he endured may be too difficult for younger children. His story truly is one of redemption, and I'm so glad this book includes the details of him giving his life to the Lord. His story is told in 19 chapters in this paperback book by Janet & Geoff Benge.


History was one of my favorite subjects in school. We've tried lots of different history curriculums in our homeschool time. The stories and details that always stick with them the most are from stories like these. Real life accounts are a valuable alternative to memorizing dates and events. 
We read a chapter of the book each day. This particular Heroes of History book has 19 chapters. When we finished our reading each day, we would discuss the questions that are included in the Unit Study. There are a few questions for each chapter. The Digital Unit Study also includes a printable timeline, fact sheet, and maps. A large section of the study is dedicated to ideas for studying further. The flexibility of the Unit Study makes it easy to incorporate different age groups into the same study. So you could have an older student work on a paper while a younger student does an art project.
If you are interested in turning this into a deeper study, the unit study has tons of great ideas. There are ideas for collecting items to make a display to go along with the book. That could easily be turned into a project using a 3 flap display board using news paper articles, maps, and pictures from Zamperini's life. If you are searching for end of the year writing projects, the unit study gives several suggestions for essays and research papers. Recommendations for media projects and art projects round out the choices to extend this study further. There's even a section of suggestions for incorporating geography complete with a vocabulary list! I love unit studies like this one that go the extra mile. This downloadable file gives the teacher a 77 page resource full of ideas to continue study beyond reading the book. 
 
Aside from the Digital Unit Study activities, we continued our study with pictures and quick research on various things mentioned in the book. The kids wanted to see a picture of a B-29 plane so we found one. They wanted to know more about the bombing of Hiroshima so I found images of it as well. The YWAM Heroes of History books always spark their appetite to learn more about certain time periods. If I was a really organized mom, I would make sure we read the books that go along with the history periods we are studying! Truly, I don't believe it matters too much. They love learning about all the different periods in history just like I did! And I'm still learning because I had never heard of Louis Zamperini until now!
YWAM offers Heroes of History and Christian Heroes Then & Now books on many people from history and current times. Last year I reviewed Heroes of History: Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea. Check out which books other Crew members received and what they thought of them:

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

Connect with YWAM:
Website: www.ywampublishing.com
Facebookhttp://on.fb.me/o9VOMN
Twitter: @YWAMpublishing http://twitter.com/YWAMpublishing @YWAMpublishing
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/YWAMpublishing
The YWAM Publishing Blog: www.ywampublishingblog.com


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Writing for Middle School #middleschoollanguagearts

When Apologia Educational Ministries sent us a copy of  Writers in Residence Volume 1 Apprentice to review, we had some initial reactions. I started highlighting all the parental information in the beginning of the very large student book. Apple was surprised by the sheer size of the book! Speedy rolled on the ground laughing at his sister's new HUGE writing curriculum. With 576 pages, this is a BIG book.


The 18 page "Quick Guide" for parents is a great read. I highlighted something on every single page. It includes the best methods for using this curriculum, how to evaluate writing, and just inspiration from Debra Bell herself. I spent a good deal of time combing over the pages before I let Apple begin the book. This section is phenomonal. I only wish it had been put in the separate "Answer Key" book that we also received. I think that would have taken a little away from the size of the Student Text and Workbook. Also I keep the Answer Key with my books, and it would have made that section easier for me to reference when needed. 


"Writers ponder, write, retract, discuss, meditate, pray, rewrite, rethink, revise, stew, walk away, return, throw away, start again, eat chocolate, rewrite...and onward." ~Debra Bell, Writers in Residence

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
This book includes a "Suggested Daily Schedule". Do those make any other mamas extremely happy? I love when books include a schedule because it alleviates some work on my end. The suggested schedule in this book is for 4 days a week which is just perfect for us. This Volume 1 book is intended to be completed in one school year so it includes 32 weeks of plans. Oh happy day! It gives leeway for weeks that include a holiday or don't work out the way we intend!
As I mentioned earlier, the answer key is a separate book that is 144 pages. It offers an answer key, rubrics, and checklists. Before each unit, you evaluate your student's work based on the checklist for each section. The rubrics are used to evaluate their writing projects. This program makes it as easy as I think it can be for the teacher. I really appreciate the rubrics and checklists because I find evaluating writing to be very hard! I feel like I'm usually way too critical. Since these give very clear guidelines and a point system, I can easily evaluate the activities. In fact, it is suggested that each activity not be given a "grade". Instead it is recommended to use unit reviews and the mastery tests for the student's actual grade. 

Since Apple is going into 7th grade next year, I've wanted a program that would encompass spelling and grammar without them standing alone as subjects. It feels like she should just be practicing those skills at this point rather than learning and memorizing. Writers in Residence intends to teach those areas and more through practice. It will be fulfilling not only the need for a writing curriculum but also the other areas of language arts (except literature). Apple thinks that makes this huge book worth it!
This volume focuses on writing through ideas, memories, investigations, and stories. It is a gentle approach to writing that takes uses several activities to work up to each actual writing assignment. The work is divided into 6 Units. There is a "Spotlight on a Christian Writer" prior to each unit. Apple was very excited that the first spotlight was on Bill Myers, an author she recognized from reading the TJ &  the Time Stumblers books. Each unit is subdivided into modules. There are 24 modules within the 6 units. The study is completed with a final review. 
Within the modules, students work on grammar through short activities. For example, there was a passage from a C.S. Lewis book, and the student used it to practice capitalization rules. I'm not sure Apple even recognized that as a grammar lesson because it was something easy that she enjoyed. The entire book is filled with those little lessons to reinforce grammar rules. The students also write sentences or a passage and then go back to it later in a different way. I think this method doesn't feel as laborsome as writing a rough draft and then another rough draft and then a final draft. They are doing the same work, but it is presented in a unique method.
Apple has enjoyed working through Writers in Residence. During our review period, she was able to complete the first unit and one project to the final draft stage. She is happy that this will be one of her primary books in the fall. I think this curriculum fills several needs for us, and I'm also happy to have it on our shelf for 7th grade. I'm looking forward to future volumes from Debra Bell and Apologia!
See what other members of the Crew thought of this All in One writing curriculum:
Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
Connect on social media:
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Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/apologiaworld @apologiaworld
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Monday, April 18, 2016

X Marks the Spot


When I picked "X Marks the Spot" as my post title this week, I thought I'd be writing about the Bible as a treasure in our lives. I still think that is a great post, however I feel God leading me in a different direction. When I think of someone clutching a treasure map, I envision a desperate person seeking that one thing they think will make life better. They are searching for money or coins or some hidden treasure that can change their life.

I know that God is the only real treasure we can find in this life to change us. To change our circumstances. To change our outlook. To take our focus off of ourselves. Certainly I've found regularly reading God's word is a great way to connect to Him. This past year and four months reading through the Bible with our Sunday School class has been a blessed time. It's been a great experience, and I think it's strengthened our bonds. I know it's drawn me nearer to God, and I hope that's been the experience of my classmates as well. .

As I write this post though, I feel like maybe the "X" we need to be looking for isn't one we can hold. It isn't one we can dig up. It's one that we must fall on. I think our real treasure is going to be found on our knees in prayer to God. These are trying times my friends. Our biggest strength is found when we give it all to God. When we fall to our knees and pour our hearts out to Him.

Are you worried? Stressed? Confused? Tired? Weary? Wavering? Feeling weak? Pray. Just pray. It isn't hard. It doesn't even have to take a long time. Just talk to God through our Lord Jesus. When the world all around you seems crazy and out of control, pray. When life feels too hard, pray. When you need to make a decision, pray. When your kids are making you crazy, pray. When your spouse is working your nerves, pray. When you can't figure out a way, pray.

You don't need a special formula or long words. You don't even need a treasure map! Just find a quiet place, fall to your knees, and share your thoughts with God. Don't just pray for yourself! Pray for your friends. Pray for your enemies. Pray for your kids and your spouse. Pray for your crazy neighbor. Pray for our nation and our world. And then pray for your needs. Find your treasure.

In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.

Matthew 16:19-20
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
























I'm linking up with Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude for Blogging Through the Alphabet. Be sure to check out all the "X" posts this week. They should be interesting!


Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=

Mini Math Sessions

A+ Interactive Math gave us access to two of their new online Math Mini-Courses to review. I selected Ratios, Proportions, Probability, and Statistics and Tables, Charts, and Graphs. While both kids would have fit under the suggested grade levels for these courses, I decided Speedy should do both of them.


Ratios, Proportions, Probability, and Statistics is a 14 lesson concentrated course recommended for 3rd-6th graders. Each lesson is given in video form with an interactive question and answer session at the end. Students can complete the work on their own, and the program automatically grades their results. In addition to these lessons, you receive access to printable worksheets and answer keys for each of the 14 lessons. We haven't utilized the printables because Speedy has been doing fine with the interactive questions and answer sections. The course also includes 3 printable exams with answer keys. I'm not exactly certain when the exams should be scheduled. It would seem after a certain set of lessons, but we've abstained from the exams for now.
Student Dashboard
Many of the concepts in these lessons were unfamiliar to Speedy, but he has done very well with the math lessons. The one day he had a big problem understanding the lesson, we realized he had skipped the previous lesson. Once he did them in order, he was able to clearly understand the concept. I have had him re-do a couple of the Q & A sessions to make sure he completely grasped the lesson before moving on. I think the appropriateness of these lessons would depend on the student. Those very strong in mathmatic concepts could take this Math Mini-Course at 3rd or 4th grade. Students who struggle in math may need to wait until 5th or 6th for this particular Math Mini-Course.

Immediate Scores

Tables, Charts, and Graphs is a 17 lesson concentrated course recommended for grades 1st-6th. Like the other course, this includes video form lessons with interactive question and answer sessions at the end of each one. There are 17 worksheets and 2 exams available to print with this Math Mini-Course. Speedy has done very well with this set of lessons. I think it has been beneficial for him to spend more time learning and understanding tables, charts, and graphs. I believe taking this course now will help him as he works into higher levels of math in the coming years.

Printable Worksheets

These lessons are short. We have used them during our regular school time to supplement the full math curriculum Speedy is working though. Each lesson only takes him 10-15 minutes. I've had him working through the lessons on alternating days so one on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Immediate Results

Under the parent dashboard, you can find a tab marked "Parent/ Teacher Controls". In that area you can remove the calculator option from your student's account and you can request that the student be given extra time (in minutes) for exams. I'm not sure the timing was an issue for Speedy in these Mini-Courses, but I added some just in case. In the parent dashboard, you can also view reports for the courses to check grades and progress.

I like sseveral things about these courses. My child enjoyed them. They are short and hold the student's attention. It is a great way to improve or excel in a particular area of math. It includes extra options (like the worksheets and exams). The Math Mini-Courses are not very expensive, and you receive access to them for one year. We used them at home on our laptop through Google Chrome, but it would be easy to use them on the go via a laptop. They are great for homeschool families or families looking for extra math work for their children to do at home. There are 20 separate Math Mini-Courses available for grades 1st-8th.

Lessons Summary Report available under Parent and Student Dashboards

We only had a couple of small issues with the courses. The student or teacher has to keep track of progress. The program won't show the student or take them straight to the lesson they need to work on next. They must select the lesson from the list. That's how Speedy got out of order. Also the course doesn't mark the lessons complete for the reports. They must be manually marked as complete. It seems like a passing score should automatically make the lesson complete. The last issue is one we did not experience (that I remember) when we reviewed the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan from A+ Interactive Math last year. On questions that are not multiple choice, the student must type in their answer then press "Submit" on the frog's belly and then press next. While the instructions are clear on the screen, this threw my student for a loop several times. He also figured out that wrong answers could be corrected as he went thus giving him a perfect score even if he missed some problems. Since this is a brand new set of courses, I'm certain some of these things will be worked out in the future. Customer Service is always fast to respond to inquiries and very friendly.


Example of a question that required a click on the frog's belly.
If you subscribe to the A+ Interactive Math newsletter, you will receive special offers from them several times a year.

See what Math Mini-Courses other members of the Crew selected to review:

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}
Connect with A+ Interactive Math on Social Media: 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/APlusTutorSoft
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/aplustutorsoft @aplustutorsoft
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/aplustutorsoft
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Early Elementary Keyboarding

Talking Fingers Inc. recently gave us a one year subscription to their Read, Write & Type online program for review. This web based curriculum encompasses vocabulary, spelling, and keyboarding into short online lessons. With a phonics base, many areas are covered at one time. This curriculum is recommended for 6-9 year olds.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

To use the program, I first needed to set up a parent account and then a child account. Each account uses its own login and password and the screens are quite different. The parent's pages can be a little difficult to navigate, but they contain quite a bit of information. There are options to limit days and times your students can log-on, you can set a pass/ fail percentage, and you can track the progress of your students from these pages. While the kids don't see a specific grade on their page, the parent page does show a score for each portion of the 10 lessons. We used this program exclusively through Google Chrome, and we really didn't encounter any issues. The graphics work great, and the sound was always clear.



In contrast, the student pages are very easy to navigate. Speedy was able to sign in and jump right into the game. The game is actually 40 lessons divided into 10 levels. There is no clear beginning and end to each lesson so Speedy started out doing 4 lessons in one setting, and he continued that pace through the end of the program. The first time he played I think he was waiting on it to tell him it was a stopping point. Instead it moved into a second letter so he just kept going. It would be easy to slow this down to one lesson per day rather than his 4 per day pace.



The lessons are broken into letters and blends. Each one has 9 steps and the kids are doing the same steps or mini games for each letter. The games pit the kids against "Vexor". This was Speedy's first real experience with typing, and I think he learned a valuable amount through the program. In fact when we first received the product, he wasn't sure if he'd like it or not. In the end he did enjoy it. I hope to get him involved in another typing program soon so he doesn't lose what he learned doing this one. He was able to finish the entire thing in just a few weeks since he was working through 4 lessons in one setting.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
Every 4th lesson, students will receive a certificate to reward them for their progress. Speedy wasn't interested in printing them, but he did enjoy watching them show up on the screen. He also felt like the certificate pages helped him keep up with his progress.




Speedy (8) had this to say about Read, Write & Type:

"There was one game that looked like a movie theater. On that game you press the letter you're working on if the picture that pops up has that letter in it. If it doesn't, you press the space bar. In another game, it was at a fountain, and you had to type certain words as fast as you could so it didn't get wet. At the playground game, you had to type a word over and over until you get to the end. I liked to click on the people so they would show you what they do. Sometimes whe you got sucked into a spaceship you had to play a game. I think other kids would like this game, especially kids who like animals because there are a lot of animals on it."



I often listened while he played. The instructions were all verbal and very clear which made the games easy to play. The words that the student needs to type are fairly short, but there are some multi-word sentences in some of the games. The program definitely feels more like a game than like a curriculum so it wasn't any struggle to get Speedy to play. I think this is a great program to get early elementary kids to type the correct way. Speedy is very impressed with my keyboarding skills so I hope he will want to continue to learn proper finger placement and technique.


See what other members of the Crew thought of Read, Write & Type:


Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Connect with Talking Fingers on Social Media:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TalkingFingers/
YouTube:   https://www.youtube.com/user/talkingfingersvideo
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ReadWriteType/with_replies @readwritetype

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Supplementing Several Subjects #copywork

I have found that this semester has had an underlying theme of copywork and memorization, so I was very happy to receive a Lifetime Membership to Homeschool Copywork for review. I've actually utilized several free downloads from Homeschool Copywork over the years so I was a little familiar with the website. A paid subscription opens up a whole new world of printable pages!

Homeschool Copywork Review
Homeschool Copywork offers 3 levels of membership. A free membership gives the user access to any free downloads available on the site, and it comes at no cost. It is a great way to peek at the site. The Full Membership includes 1 year's access to the entire site. The price is affordable. A Lifetime Membership (like I received) gives you unlimited access to the entire site forever (as long as the site exists)! That means you have automatic opportunity to utilize any new resources added to the site for only a marginal amount more than the Full Membership.

The Homeschool Copywork website is easy to navigate and use. The main landing page looks like the one below after you've logged in. There are tabs to take you to Early Elementary Copywork, Upper Elementary Copywork, Junior High- High School Copywork, and Bonus! Products. There are also tabs to manage your subscriptions, payments, and profile. Below the menu tabs you will find more links. The "Active Resources" link lists all the available copywork pages. I used this program exclusively on Chrome with Windows 10 and had no issues downloading and using the pages.




It's hard to put one label on Homeschool Copywork. There are pages for a vast number of subjects and many of the printables are versatile enough that you could use them any way you choose. This was definitely a supplement item for us during this review period. Speedy was reading Alice in Wonderland so I printed some Lewis Carroll poems from The Poems of Lewis Carroll for him to copy. Both kids have been enjoying all the sweet little birds hopping around in the yard, so I printed them each a cute birdie to color. I wanted them to try writing quotes and I found many wonderful ones on the website! Apple wrote a quote from Quotes from Franz Liszt, and Speedy wrote a Duke Ellington quote.






This membership has fulfilled several specific areas for us. Speedy is always in need of handwriting exercises. The pages we've found on the Homeschool Copywork have been wonderful for this because I can give him copywork from so many different areas. He hasn't gotten bored or complained about them once! Apple loves music and art. She's been able to use copywork pages on hymns and the extra handwriting exercise doesn't hurt her any either!



She was very excited to utilize the Vincent van Gogh Copywork and Artist Study Volume 1 during our review period. I printed 8 pages for her for this study. The front is the cover you see in the picture below. Page 2 is an information page. Page 3 contains a short biography of the artist. It also includes suggestions for 3 activities. Apple elected to paint a picture inspired by the work of van Gogh and to do a pencil sketch of another inspired work. The other 5 pages are for copywork. Each one has a quote from the artist and you can select the type of copywork you prefer for your student to do. In this case I elected for the "Traditional Print, Notebook Lines" pages. Apple completed one quote per day so we spread this out for daily work for about 2 weeks of school. The other copywork styles in this booklet include cursive, D'Nealian manuscript, and ball and stick print. There is also a print of one of van Gogh's works on each of the copywork pages. You can even print full size copies from the picture study portion at the end of the booklet. I'd say this was a successful study that Apple fully enjoyed.



Over the years of homeschooling my kiddos, I've learned you can always utilize resources like these. These little copywork printables can supplement character building (there's a download for that!), the arts, Bible memorization, history, handwriting, and more. They can also be used to spice up creative writing time or just to add a little something different to a school day. These types of pages are also great for extra practice in a subject or to round out a semester with a subject. 


I'm looking forward to many years of using the fun pages from Homeschool Copywork!


Check out what others members of the Crew used from Homeschool Copywork:
Homeschool Copywork Review
You can connect with Homeschool Copywork on Social Media:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AmyBlevins  @AmyBlevins
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Monday, April 11, 2016

Toolbox for Parents {Review} #8SimpleTools #FlyBy

If you've been a parent for any length of time, you know there are times you need help! Sometimes it just feels like nothing is working, or you feel like your household is spiraling out of control. Clinical child psychologist, Dr. Todd Cartmell, has written 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids to help through those tough times and to help you have a solid family plan in place to avoid some of those times.



He has broken these 8 common parenting tools down into shorter chapters. He did this purposefully so even the busiest parent can find a few minutes to read a short chapter at a time. It was a quick read and one I can see myself returning to again and again. None of his 8 concepts were unusual but he presented them in a fresh way with some different perspective. The book also includes a summary of tips at the end for quick reference.

The book gives practical examples like 5 phrases to teach your kids to help them learn flexibility and an outline of a "Respect Thermometer". I appreciate that he gave advice and some genuine ideas for solutions. Sometimes parenting books can do a lot of preaching without giving any advice. This isn't one of those.

As I was reading, I worried a few times that he was expecting people to become perfect parents. However later in the book he mentions several times that these tools are the goal and that everyone will make mistakes or have bad days. I appreciate that candor, and it left me feeling more open to his suggestions.

In one portion of the book, he discusses "practicing" obedience with your kids. He gives an example of a child bringing in their backpack and placing it in the proper place over and over. My mom LOVED to employ this method on me, my stepsisters, and even my husband (when we were dating). Opening and closing the door properly (without slamming), sitting on the furniture (without falling onto it), and other lessons will always stick with us. Practicing can be an effective method!

Parents this is a helpful little guide to keep around for inspiration. As a special thank you to my readers, you can save 50% off this book from April 15, 2015- May 15, 2016 at Moody Publishers. Just use the code "GREATKIDS16". You will also receive access to the Hearts at Home "Essential Workshop Collection for Parents" with every purchase.

Connect with Dr. Todd Cartmell on FB: https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Todd-Cartmell-193405444025914/


Wrapping Up the School Year


We've got just over a month left in our official school semester. It's time to evaluate what has worked well this year, what hasn't worked well, and what we will change for the fall semester. This is always a season when I spend time reflecting and planning. I'm not sure my husband and parents understand when I go off on tangents about the past performance of the kids and their futures. It's hard for them to fully grasp that I need to plan the next semester while thinking ahead to the next few years and processing what they've done in the last few years at the same time.

What Has Worked Well This Year

We really got settled into our new home. While our schoolroom still needs a little tweaking, we are moving in the right direction. In the next few months, I need to get a new desk for myself and my space. Another thing that worked well this year was changing the way Speedy organizes his school work and books. He's done well with the new system and likes it better. I've talked with Apple about coming up with a new system for her for the fall. The current system she uses worked really well for lower grades but I think she needs something more streamlined for 7th grade. I also want a system that will continue to move her towards independent study and personal responsibility. One thing she needs to really learn in the fall is how to keep her notes neat and easy to access.

We started memorizing Scripture in January. It is an area that we've only dabbled in over the years. This has been a REALLY great practice for all 3 of us. It is something I wish I'd done more of in the past, but I will certainly continue in the future. We are currently working on a couple of review items that will help us continue with memorization and Scripture work. Look for those reviews coming soon!

We have tried several new curriculum products this year through reviews that the kids have enjoyed and/ or I think provide big benefits. You'll see some of those when I do a new curriculum write up for 2016-2017.

Something else new I implemented this year was written weekly schedules for each of the kids. Apple's went into an old planner I wasn't using. Every Monday she'd have a new week's worth of work written into her planner so she could check it off daily. Speedy would get a printed sheet each week with the same information. This has given both kids an opportunity to see their daily goals and to check them off as they go. More recently I put both kids on a time schedule. We haven't used that schedule enough to know if it will be a success for one or both of them. I think it will be something we implement in the fall but maybe not in the form we are using it right now. I think doing certain subjects at certain times has pros and cons.

What Hasn't Worked Well

Somehow, somewhere we derailed and have had trouble getting back on track. This semester we've had many more loooooong days than normal length days. Our state requires 4 hours per day for 180 days. We normally can finish "seat work" in less time than that. We generally use our Fridays for home economics, outside play, educational games and movies, and so on. We also do some work all the way through the summer which accounts for some of our required hours. So in general Monday through Thursday, I'd expect our work to take 3-4 hours. We've been far exceeding that more days than not. Some of it has been spring fever. Some of it has been a lack of motivation. That's one reason I put both kids on a time schedule. I've got to continue praying and doing some research to find better ways to keep us on track next school year. Since I work from home, it's imperative that I have time to complete that work!

I've always had my kids re-do any problems they've missed on each and every subject. I'm afraid that's led them to not trying as hard the first go around as they could. I am currently testing a new method around this. I'm not sure I have the correct key just yet, but we won't be doing it the same way we've done in the past.

What We Will Change

In the past, I've always purchased a giant stack of curriculum for each school year. I love new curriculum. It makes me happy. Now that I'm reviewing more curriculum and of course Speedy can use many of the same items Apple used in recent years, it seems like a waste to purchase so many books. So I am working hard to plan our next school year using resources we already have. I'm excited about this although it is requiring a little more planning on my part. I'm also really nervous about planning for 7th grade! How do I have a 7th grader?!?!

For the last 2 years, we've been home bodies. Well not really because we are always on the go! However, we haven't been involved in any classes or co-ops or groups in over 2 years. That was a season that we needed, but I think the kids (and I!) need some regular outside the house study time next year. There are several opportunities in our area. Some are out of the question because of distance or cost, but I'm looking for one that will work for all of us.

Have you started to reflect on this school year or look forward to the next one? I'm a natural planner so I actually enjoy this process. I'm looking forward to getting my 2016-2017 planner so I can really dig in and plan!

I can't believe we are so close to the end of the alphabet! These next few are going to be tough! A HUGE thank you to Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Adventures with Jude for hosting this round of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Make sure you read the other "W" posts this week.


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Friday, April 8, 2016

A Prayer Devotional for Kids


On one hand, prayer seems like it should be the most natural thing in the world. On the other, prayer can be very intimidating especially if you are asked to pray aloud. I remember the first group I was in that asked me to pray out loud. I wanted to run right out of that room and never go back! I stuck in there though and fumbled my way through a prayer. Over time it became much easier although there are still times when I get tongue tied or go blank. 

For kids, prayer can be even more intimidating. Most kids fall in the habit of saying one prayer again and again. To encourage a child that is just beginning to pray or one that needs to get out of a rut, you may be interested in I Can Learn to Pray. We received this book as our April review item for Tommy Nelson. 

This is a 221 page hardcover book by Holly Hawkins Shivers. The illustrations were done by Becka Moor. The book is divided into 52 weekly devotionals all about prayer. It is organized into 7 sections like "Thank You Prayers" and "How to Listen". I think my favorite section is that last one which focuses on "Jesus Prayers". Each week covers 4 pages. The first page is an illustration with a very short suggested prayer. The second and third pages cover the topic and thoughts for that week. Sometimes it references a Bible verse or story. That last page has a little longer prayer suggestion.

This book is recommended for the 4-8 year old range. I think if your child is very new to prayer or needing a little encouragement in the area, it could be useful for kids slightly older than that range. Speedy (8) has been enjoying it for a few weeks now. It definitely doesn't have a week's worth of material, but it does have a nice lesson to use once a week.

Do you know a child that could benefit from I Can Learn to Pray? See a special preview of this devotional here, and enter to win your own copy of this little devotional on the Giveaway Tools Widget below. Giveaway will end on April 17, 2016. 


Chonda Live

I had the joy of seeing Chonda Pierce live! It was such a fun experience to go to a nearby church and see her show live. I received a boxed set of her DVDs a few months ago for review. I really enjoyed seeing her shows on DVD, but it was so much better in person!


I got to enjoy the show with my mom, a friend, and her mom. We had great seats. I saw several other friends in the crowd and got to catch up with one during the break. The show was almost twice as long as we had expected it to be! We actually had to sneak out a little early, so I could make it home before Hubby headed out to work.

The jokes were hilarious! There's nothing like laughter to help me relax. Chonda does get serious at times, but I think she has a great ministry with her humor and candidness. If Chonda Pierce is coming to your town, I highly recommend seeing her show for a fun ladies' night out.

I was not compensated for this post. Just wanted to share a good experience!