Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Learning vocabulary through cartoons.

Let me tell you an amazing way to expand you or your child’s vocabulary.  A fun book; Vocabulary Cartoons
Photobucket  Each page has a word, pronunciation, definition, part of speech, and a word that sounds similar.   Then a picture with a caption that uses the word.  And 3 additional sentences that use the word in various forms.  Every 10 words is a review where you match each word with it’s definition and then where you fill in the blank with a word.
Here is one of my favorite examples.


The rabbit inhabits the hole.  With a picture of a rabbit living in a hole.  Because inhabit means to live or dwell in. 

Along with the definition, a picture and 3 additional sentences. 

Check out inside the book on Amazon

This book has been so fun.  The way I incorporated it into our homeschool has been each day Monday thru Thursday the kids read 10 of the words (in order) and on Friday we do the reviews, they kind of act as a test.  This book has been good for us, because it doesn’t take any prep time, and it teaches itself, and the kids actually love it!

The kids have been loving this book they find it fun to learn new words, they love using the words they learned in our daily life. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to upper elementary or even secondary age students, they also have SAT word power books,  for older, or more advanced students and a picture speller game for younger students that looks fun!

These books sell for the very reasonable price of $12.95.  The game is $19.95. 

To see what other crewmates thought see our crew blog here. 

{Disclamer: I received this book for free for review purposes as my part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew.  These experiences were mine, and all opinions expressed are my own.}

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Homeschooling others.

We have had a house guest this past week.  I decided to have her do workboxes with us.  She loved them.  In fact we don’t normally do workboxes on Wednesdays.  That is our errand day. (Library, etc) She was sad, and asked to do schoolwork.  She said it was so much fun. 

Some of the things I put in her workboxes were, Animal Classification, a ' target=_blank>First grade workbookan alphabet lapbook that I got from Teacher File Box, even a game of Uno.  She also got computer time, some coloring books, and arts and crafts.  (one day we painted rocks) and she did our Botany and Geography studies with us.  She really enjoyed homeschooling with us, and we really enjoyed having her.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One heck of a Monday.

Here I am thinking nothing is standing in my way this week.  I will get everything done and more.  We will surpass our expectations in school work.  And did I mention how clean my house will stay. 

Then I went to bed late on Sunday, emotionally and physically drained.  Woke up way to early on Monday.  Did not have the kids' workboxes set up.  I had to clean the kitchen before I could make breakfast.  I forgot to buy jars to can peaches, when I finally made it to the store they were out of quarts, so I had to buy pints.  I forgot my drivers license when I went to the bank, so they would not give me any information on my account.  I had come back home and get my license to make my withdrawl.  By now I had whiney hungry kids, and nothing planned for lunch.  Hot Pockets it is.  Then we settled in for a movie day.  We did schoolwork in the afternoon.  Then I took a nap, and ran more errands and went out to a very fun dinner.  Now I am tired, and blogging. 

After all that griping I really realize how lucky I am to have my children.  I love that I know we are learning enough that I don't have to fight my way through the bad days.  I love that my children have learned the flexibility of homeschooling. 

I hope that I got a months worth of problems out of my way.  However, I do realize that most of the things were my fault from not planning ahead. 

Well, I am off to bed and hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day at the Zoo!


We took our trip to the zoo.  We loved it, we had a great day. The weather was perfect.  It was not to crowded.  Absolutely  perfect!  We saw many of the animals.  I even decided it was worth it to buy the yearly membership pass.  So expect to see alot more zoo trips.  This was I figure we can just go for 1/2 days too, and I won’t feel I have to get my moneys worth and stay for the whole day.   We also took a friend.


The children have been very interested in animals recently and I thought this would be a great learning opportunity. 



We stayed for the bird show.   Although it was very hard to take pictures, I tried. 


We got to touch a real live snake!


We stuck our heads in a lions mouth!  YIKES!


We saw a vulture.





We just had so much fun!  Can’t wait to go back!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Schleich Action Figures


A while ago I took my youngest to a children’s museum near us.  She played with these great toys, and I really wish I could find the pictures of her playing with them, but alas…….  They were really quality figures.  There was a castle, along with other buildings and many knights. They also had fantasy toys.  It was set up on a table and it was definitely Katey’s favorite toy there.  I thought to myself, I would love to own these toys.  I also thought, they were museum quality and I could never afford them.  So I left it at that.  
Even the baby loves these toys!
PhotobucketThen as being part of TOS Crew.  I received some toys to review from Schleich, at this time I had no idea who they were.  When the package arrived we opened it and the kids were so excited they immediately began to play with the variety of animals that came.  Then they told me that they already had some of these.  They went and got 3 horses that they had received for Christmas from my Sister in-law.
I remember thinking that when they got those they were high quality as well.  I knew she got them at Target, but I never thought anything more.  (those horse figures were also on the top of the “played with” list for those days following Christmas, and even now)  It turns out both the figures from the museum and the figures from Christmas are both from Schleich.  A great company that sells their figurines online, or at Target and Toys R Us, or even Name Your Link' target=_blank>Amazon.  They are very affordable.  You can start out small with just a few and over time add to your collection.  These will last for years to come.  These figures are museum quality, at my local children’s museum, where hundreds of children play with them every day!

You can buy Schleich Action Figures online at or at your local Target or Toys R Us.  They also have a store finder here.

I highly recommend these toys.  They are high quality, hand painted, sturdy, life like, and your child still needs to use their imagination to play.  I will definitely be purchasing more of these.

To see how others are loving these check out our crew reviews here

{I received a few Schleich toys for free for review purposes, these experiences were mine, and yours may differ.}

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why I began homeschooling.


I decided that I needed to focus on my relationship with my children more. 


Here is all it all began:


  I was beginning to lose my oldest two children.  I didn’t even know who they were.  I got a phone call from my primary president at church wanting to spotlight my children on Sunday.  She had a list of questions for me to answer, such as favorite color, favorite hobby, favorite food, etc.  I could not go ask my children, since it was to be a surprise for them.  But what if I got the answers wrong.  How embarrassing.  I answered my best, and got everything close to right.  But that really made me think.  How could I not know my children.  I mean I live with them.  I spend time with them.   I then started looking at how we spent our time together.  Sure I volunteered in their classes and on the PTA while they were in public school.  Then after school they would have homework.  I would help them with that.  Then I would have to go cook dinner.  After dinner we headed out to extra curricular activities.   Once a week we have Family Home Evening.  Twice a week the girls had Ice Skating. Once a week Tommy has Scouts.  Tommy and Emily both have one basketball practice and one basketball game each week.  Emily has activity days twice a month, and Girl Scouts twice a month.  It was just hectic. In the Summer, all they would want to do was be outside riding bikes, or playing with friends.  I then realized something had to change.  I had to decide what activities to take the kids out of.  After talking with my husband about homeschooling and everything, we decided that we wanted to hear the kids opinions.  We had a family meeting.  The kids were beyond excited to homeschool.  We also decided to let them finish out the season of Basketball, and Ice Skating.  And take a season off.  Now as we begin our second year, we have found that we do have more time for the kids to do activities they love.   They have now discovered BMX racing, and I have rediscovered who my kids are!


I have also had to start working a few nights a week.  I would miss my children immensely if I didn’t see them during the days.  I love knowing what they are learning, and what they are NOT learning. 


I began looking around on the internet for help, and found a local homeschool group.  I joined right away, and then I discovered homeschooling blogs.  I decided to start my own, since it is a wonderful way to  document the journey.


I know I don’t update it as often as I would like, but I am trying to get better at that.  I really enjoy taking  pictures of the kids, and hope to make my blog a memory book someday soon. 


Another thing we do to help strengthen our relationships is we have date nights, about once a month, where one child (in a rotation) gets to pick a date to go on without any other kids.  We feel that special time with them is very important. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Emily turns 10!


We celebrated Emily’s 10th birthday this weekend.  She had a small family party.  (She chose to get a more expensive gift, rather than have a friends party.)


She chose salmon and steak as her special meal. 


She had a white cake with chocolate frosting!  YUMM


She got some really great gifts, and money too!


We had a Jello eating contest for the game.  DSC_0394  DSC_0398

The rules were hands behind your back, and your plate had to be cleaned!


Uncle Matt won!  In this picture he is clearly the first one to stand up with a clean plate!


That was alot of fun, and all you could hear was slurp, slurp, slurp.  Gross!


She did also get a Kohls giftcard and an American Girl Doll Petite Boutique, where you can make some cute accessories for an American Girl Doll.   Which she also got!  Molly! 


She was very excited, and for some reason my camera would not work when she was opening Molly. 

Pyramath is so cool!


I was given Pyramath to review as being part of TOS Review Crew!  I was so excited to get this.  I had tried the online version (which is free).   It is so fun!

My cards arrived in the mail quickly.  I was so excited to get them.  I opened up the package and there they were, the cards, along with a instruction booklet.  That’s right a booklet.  Not because the game is super complicated, but because there are so many variations you can play.  The booklet also shows you the other cards they sell and how to play those games.  So you can tell before you purchase.


That night I sat down with the cards and began playing one of the versions in the booklet.  I was definitely enjoying this, however I thought that it might be to complicated for the kids.  I decided to teach it to my husband, and get his opinion.  He caught on easy enough.  The next day I taught Emily how to play, it took me showing her once and then she was asking if she could try it on her own.  I stayed there watching her in case she needed any help.  (she needed very little)  She caught on so quickly.  She has asked to play these EVERY day.  She was even teaching her friends how to play.   Next I taught Tommy,  he caught on just as quick, and asks to play all the time!   The other day I even heard Emily asking Tommy if he wanted to play it with her.  WOW!  Now if I asked one of them if they wanted to practice math facts, they probably wouldn’t, but play a game where they practice math facts, absolutely!  This game is so fun, I even find myself wanting to play it. 



I love that this is really getting those math facts in her head.  I love that these are only $6.95.  I love that you can try to win a free pack occasionally on their Facebook fan page.  I love that the kids are begging to practice math facts.  I love that this is not a textbook, not online, and not boring and not on TV.   I love that it is so compact.  I plan on taking these on any trips we take.    I love that it can be a one player game or a two player game.   

I love that they have other educational card games such as Fractazmic, I See Cards and they are coming out with a new game, Prime Bomb!

To see how much other crew members loved this game, check out our post here

{I received Pyramath for free for review purposes as being part of TOS Crew.  I received no other compensation.  All opinions are my own. You experience may be different.}

Monday, September 13, 2010

Me time, say what?



This weeks Blog Cruise question is about Me time. 


How do you find free time? Is it okay to take time for yourself? If so, how?


People often ask me how I spend so much time with my children.  It’s easy for me.  I like my kids, I like who they are, I like being with them.  Don’t get me wrong, we have our hard days.  But the good always out weighs the bad.


Sometimes, I do need a break from it all.  I think the break has to do with rejuvenation and reflection.   So I don’t feel the need to get away, I just feel the need to rethink what I am doing, what, if anything, should I change.  I happen to take that break every 6 weeks.  Which in my schedule is where I reevaluate our situation.  


When my kids were in public school I would find myself bored, and  I missed them dearly.  Now they are home and I try to keep our life and schedule relaxed enough that our life does not get to stressful. 


Since beginning homeschooling I have gone back to work.  I work a few nights a week as a server at a local restaurant.  That gives me a break from my family, which is actually harder to do that I thought it would be.   While I enjoy my job, I couldn’t handle being away for more than a few (usually 2 or 3)nights  a week.  The money has helped us as well. 


Since having children I have never gone on a vacation without them.  The closest I came was when I went to visit two of my sister in laws and I only took my baby (then 7 months old).  Paul stayed home with the other children.   Soon, (in the next 5 years) Paul and I would like to take a second honeymoon with out the kids.  But that’s in the future. 


My husband and I have gone out on dates with out the children.  We have good family nights, where we watch movies or play games as a family, and when my life gets stressful, those nights help me to unwind. 


So after writing this hodge podge of thoughts I realize that my life is not really one that I need to take a break from.  I do get breaks (the ones I described above).  I do have my minutes when I dream of a quiet house. But then I realize how I will miss my kids when they are gone, and I really try to focus on enjoying the time I have with them. 


I do feel it’s a good idea to take the time to reflect on your circumstances and a break is the best way to take a look “from the outside looking in.”   



To see what other crew members are saying about free time and more visit our blog cruise portion of our blog.

Friday, September 10, 2010

America’s Math Teacher – Review

I was given an opportunity to review a new up and coming math website,  America’s Math Teacher.

This website was created by math teacher Rick Fisher.  There is a huge selection of topics and there are subtopics within those.  So you can get the help you need, whether it be a broad spectrum you are trying to cover or a specific detail of math.

We used America’s Math Teacher as a supplement along with our current math programs.  I had my 5th grader watch the videos in specific areas.  The videos are well done. His voice is nice, and easy to understand.  The video very basic with a digital whiteboard.  No frills, as to not easily distract your children.  America’s Math Teacher   explains concepts well.  He covers them from start to finish. Tommy’s favorite part was definitely the speed drills. 

online speed drills

However, we both would’ve liked to be able to choose which numbers we worked on. We were able to choose addition, subtraction or multiplication, and he had to do the number chosen for him.
The worksheets, are downloadable into PDF form. And the nice thing with these is that you can print them again and again, and download them to any computer.
The website is well organized and easy to navigate.  Since this website is still new, they are adding to and expanding the website daily, so there are a few inconsistencies to be found here and there.  I have been able to see how quickly things are updated and it has been rather quick!
I am a believer that the more ways you learn something the better retention you will have.  So I don’t usually like to “put all my eggs in one basket” with curriculum.  So I would say this is best used as a tutor type supplement. I am sure this is cheaper than a tutor.  And since the website doesn’t keep track of where you are, you can use it for multiple children.  That would make it even more affordable.  For a one year subscription is $195.00. 
I would highly recommend sampling some of the FREE video lessons and exercises before you make your investment.

To see what others are saying about America's Math Teacher check out our crew blog!

{I received a 60 day subscription to America's Math Teacher for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  This was my experience and yours may differ.}

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Math help is on it’s way!

What would you say if I told you that you could have a math tutor come over any day any time? Sounds to good to be true, right?  Well with the Math Tutor DVD’s that is exactly what I got. 


These Math Tutor DVD’s are set up so that you learn through examples and by doing problems, not just by lecturing. 

I received two  DVD’s, first I got the T183/84 Graphing Calculator Tutor.  Now if you own one of these calculators this is worth the money.  You can really unlock the potential of you calculator.  And when you spend that price on a calculator, wouldn’t you want to use it to the maximum capacity?  I know I do!   This is a user manual on video, and in easy user friendly terms.  It is 3 DVD’s (8 hours) full of information!  There are 37 chapters, easily labeled so if you just need to learn something specific, you can jump right to that chapter on the DVD.   This DVD is $26.99.


The second DVD I received was The Pre Algebra Tutor- Volume 1.  This DVD started out by easing common fears of algebra, and then moves on to the very basics with whole numbers and moves right on through the rest of the rules.  This DVD explains everything in simple terms, and teaches by example.  There are 9 chapters on 2 DVD’s (5 hours) on these DVD’s.  The chapters are clearly labeled so if you (or your child) just need help in a specific area, it would be very easy to find.    Each lesson averages 30 minutes.  Which, for my 6th grader was a little long.  That was easily solved by pausing the DVD and taking a break.  This DVD is $26.99. 

The Math Tutor DVD’s range in price from $12.99 to about $26.99.   They also have package deals where you can save up to 50%! 

Overall- I would recommend this product!  The price is well worth it, and it can be used with any curriculum.  It gives you or your child that little extra that is sometimes needed to learn math. 

{I received these products as a member of TOS Crew.  I am sharing my honest opinion.  Your experience may differ}

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not everybody supports my homeschooling decision.

I don’t even know where to start with this.  I will just say that someone close to me, does NOT support my homeschooling.    I will tell you how I deal with it.

I find all the confidence and support I need through prayer.  

First of all, I do try my best to listen to her point of view.  I also try to share my point of view with her, even though I feel as if she don’t always see my side.    If I feel the things she points out to me are valid and worthy of me changing.  I do work on those things. For my situation, I think that most of the un-supportiveness comes from lack of knowledge either about homeschooling, or about my specific situation. 

I have overheard her asking my children if they are ready to go back to public school.  When they say no, she asks them things, like if they miss their friends, if they miss the parties at school, etc.  I always let my children answer for themselves.  I also make sure to ask my children how they are feeling, about life in general, from homeschooling, to chores, to friends, and more.  I feel VERY CONFIDENT that my children are happy!  

I am also VERY CONFIDENT that I am doing the right thing for my family right now. 

I am VERY CONFIDENT that I am teaching them what I want them to know, what they need to know, and how to be the type of people that God wants them to be.

I am VERY CONFIDENT that homeschooling is doing amazing things for the relationship I have with my children.  

So I HAVE THE CONFIDENCE in what I am doing.  That really helps me to deal with negativity.  I also find alot of support throughout blogs, and my local homeschooling group. 

This post was written in part of the Blog Cruise from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mom, can I do my school on the computer?

My Kindergartner has been begging me every day this past month to do school on the computer.  She has been using Time 4 Learning Preschool as part of her schoolwork.   This is a fun program.  She has honestly wanted to do it so much, that I use it as a reward for her completing her other schoolwork.


This website is setup in levels,


and each level has a variety of themes. 


Each theme has a variety of things you do, such as watch a story, read a story, matching,  coloring, and more.

The people at Time 4 Learning also offer higher levels, K-6th, and they have a specific focus on writing at Time 4 Writing. 

The preschool Time 4 Learning is $19.95 a month for the first child and $14.95 a month each additional child.  They will let you demo some of their lessons for free here.

Overall, I would recommend this program if you budget allows.  It was a fun change of pace for our homeschool when we most needed it!

To see what my other crew members are saying about Time 4 Learning, check out our crew blog post!

{I received a one month subscription to Time 4 Learning Preschool Level, in exchange for my honest opinion.  This is my experience with this program, and you experience may differ.}

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The best way to eat healthier!


The best way to eat healthier is really no secret,  it’s to have the healthy food on hand.


I recently started ordering from my local food co-op.  I get an amazing amount of fruits and vegetables for a great price, and they are all fresh and from local growers.  


Here is my first order.


I bought corn and chilies by the case.  With the corn I took it to two family dinners we had that week.   (End of Summer bashes!) With the chilies, I fire roasted them on my barbeque, put them in bags and froze them.  They are so yummy, I use them in a lot, on burgers, enchiladas, salsa, and anything else I can think of.


I cut up a bunch of fruit and put it in a bowl in the fridge.  This fruit salad lasted for only about 3 days.  I precut some lettuce and vegetables and kept them in separate containers for quick and easy salads.  The leftover veggies I sautéed up and made some rice, for a quick and easy lunch.   For lunch one day we had fruit salad with lettuce and dressing, YUMM!   We got Mangos and Strawberries to make smoothies. 


I have only been ordering from the food co op for 3 weeks, and I have noticed a wonderful change in my families eating habits. 


With Bountiful Baskets you do not get to choose your fruits and vegetables.  Everybody basically gets the same thing.  They buy what is in season and local.  So far, this has been a bonus for me, we were able to try foods I wouldn’t have normally bought.  We got Mango’s, Plums, Pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot, also known as a Dinosaur Egg), Nectarines, Eggplant, Red Bell Peppers, pickling cucumbers, many different varieties of grapes, grapefruits and those are just some of the ones that were not on my grocery lists.  They do also offer “case” items, bread, corn, chilies, cookies, tortillas, and more. 


Some local food co ops offer a variety of things, from meats to breads, to nuts, to tamales, along with fruits and vegetables.   


Here is a small list of food co ops that I know of:

There is also a food co op directory here.


Also you DO NOT NEED TO QUALIFY FINANCIALLY for these!  If you eat, you qualify!


I cannot tell you how much buying my food like this has benefited my family!


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