May 24, 2010

Ladybug Land

Few weeks ago I ordered a ladybug Land kit for Insect Lore. We love this company! We've ordered butterflies from them in the past and it was so much fun and we all learned a lot. You can see pictures of our butterfly haven adventure here.
This time around, I have to say it was fun but not as interactive for the kids. I think probably because of the size. The ladybugs are tiny and it was hard to track them and the larvae were not as active as the caterpillars were.
But still, we loved doing this project and Sarah didn't seem bothered by their size at all. She came every morning to the "dome" to point at the ladybugs and say "buhk" (bug).

We received 15 pink ladybug larvae but only five made it to the adult stage. We did forget to replenish their water for a few days (to keep moisture in the dome) so maybe that was part of why so many died.

After a week or so of having them indoor we moved them outside to get sunshine and to get ready to release them.

We placed them near our tomato plants, hoping they will stay there!

A closer look at one of the ladybugs.

Note: Caleb took these pictures! Didn't he do a great job?!
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I'm so pretty....

...oh, so pretty!

Sweet Sarah is growing so fast. She is 16 months old and in full toddler mode. Climbing, being messy, little tantrums, loving the outdoors, learning to play and share and loving her family.

I'm so excited that this summer I will be planning Tot School for her! It's gonna be a lot of fun. And hopefully I'll find the time to blog about it.

Sarah loves to take pictues and always give daddy the best smiles. I'm starting to include her in some of our school time since she is outgrowing her morning nap. More pics of her cute self in our unit studies still to come soon.

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May 21, 2010

Later On

Right now we know of so many hurting families around us and it's been a privilege to help carry their burdens and lift them up in prayer daily and wait upon the Lord to work His might acts. We've been on the other side of the fence, when we have been the ones grieving and waiting on the Lord. And we have experienced first hand as well the joy and comfort that comes from brothers and sisters surrounding us with their love and care.
Every night, Brad and I read a classic devotional book by Spurgeon titled "Morning and Evening" (I highly recommend!). Just a few days ago one of the devotions was so appropiate to what these families are going through that I had to share it here. As believers we can be comforted in trying times knowing that for a while the Lord has allowed suffering to come to our lives but we have the hope of glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ! (1 Peter 1).

Hope this devotion blesses you....

No discipline at the time seems pleasant, but painful. But later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (ESV)
How happy are tested Christians, "later on".
There is no deeper calm than that which follows the storm.
Who has not rejoiced in clear shinnings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-accomplished soldiers.
After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbor to rest; after traveling the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting Apollyon, the shinning one appears, with the healing branch fro the tree of life.
Our sorrows, like the passing hulls of the ship upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them "later". It is peace, sweet, deep peace that follows the horrible turmoil that once reigned in our tormented guilty souls.
Consider then the happy condition of a Christian!
He has his best things last, and therefore in this world, he receives his worst things first. But even his "worst" things are later on, good things, hard plowings yielding joyful harvests.
Even now he grows rich by his loses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and he becomes full by being emptied; if then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what will be the full vintage of joy "later" in heaven?
If his dark nights are as bright as the world's days, what shall his days be?
If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be?
If he can sing in the dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven!
If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol Him before the eternal throne!
If evil be good to him now, what will be the overflowing goodness of God be to him then?
Oh blessed "later"! Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown that comes afterwards? But here is work of patience, for the rest is not for today, nor the triumph for the present, but "later".
Wait, my soul, and let patience have her perfect work (James 1:2-4).

May 20, 2010

Happy Boys and Sweet Girl

Counting our blessings today: a family, a home, healthy children...the Lord is so gracious!

Some recent pics of the kids at home...

Caleb got a new camera for his birthday. This was a very special gift that he's asked for a while now (we figured it was more useful and skillful than getting a DS).

The other day him and now sat down in our front yard to take and look at pictures. Little princess was loving just being near them but doing some exploring of her own.

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May 08, 2010

Activities in a Bag: Reading Games

For a few years now I've been a big fan of Preschool Activities In A Bag. They've made my homeschooling life so much easier and fun. I love this resource so much that in the past I've coordinated two bags swaps and looking to do another at the end of the summer.

See pictures of my preschool bags and swaps here and here.

Learn all about the bags by visiting their site here.

Just recently they've added new sets of bags including Reading Games, Travel Activities in a Binder and Math Games In A Bag!!!

We've been trying the Reading Games at home and they are a great add-on to our homeschool! Our boys are already asking for more games and our oldest offered to do the games with his little brother.

There are 20 games to use with lower elementary age children to review sounds, word recognition, syllables, memorization, eye tracking and more.

I'm planning to use these games to review reading skills throughout the summer break. It would work great for those who use the workbox system.

Most games require just printing and laminating (optional) and additional supplies are very minimum and they are basically items you already have at home.

May 07, 2010

Expedition Australia (Review)

Expedition Australia is one of the new unit-lapbook combos of the Download N Go series by Amanda Bennet and the Old Schoolhouse Store.

The series has close to 20 ready to download and use unit-lapbooks, with many more on the way.

For a sample of this amazing unit you can go here. Each unit is only $7.95, which is a great deal considering all that it includes!

To learn more about this resource and how to implement it in your school, you can go here. The age range for this product is 4-10 years of age.

I was so excited to receive this copy to review because my boys have been very interested in learning more about Australia since last summer's VBS theme in our church.

After just a quick look through the downloadable PDF document, I knew this was going to be a hit in our home!

As a busy homeschool mom, I loved the simple, easy to follow format. Also, the images and illustrations are beautiful!

It's divided into five days of studies. Each day includes a variety of subjects and topics including:
  • Geography and map reading skills
  • Cultural studies
  • History
  • Famous landmarks
  • Animal of the day
  • Australian word of the day
  • Handwriting activities
  • Art
  • Science topics

All subjects are studied through the text, written activities and internet links to videos, images and articles. It includes an extensive list of possible books to add on for each day.

Another great feature is that the internet links are presented for each day, sprinkled around the unit, instead of a very long list at the end. This cuts time and motivated you (the parent) to use the links.

The lapbook component of the unit is excellent! It provides a wonderful way of reviewing all the material learn and of course, have a great keepsake. The student will work on a few parts of the lapbook every day so it's very manageable even for a young child. Each page in the document also links directly to the lapbook component and other printouts of the day! I love this feature too!

At the end, there is a very cute "certificate of expedition" that can be printed for each student at the end of their studies.

There's also a fantastic section for family fun activities that go along with the unit that includes crafts, recipes, games, articles, worksheets, extra videos and much more.

We are on day 3 of our journey with this unit and so far it's been so much fun for all. The boys are looking forward to it every day. One activity in particular that it's been great is a map of Australia they are making where they are adding new locations, regions, landmarks and more every day. What a neat way to learn geography!

They've also enjoy learning about marsupials and their behavior.

It takes us about 30 minutes to get through everything, including the lapbook. We did not add any additional books. It would have been fun but the unit is great in itself as well.

I recommend you preview the video links and articles. Some are very similar and you can just choose which one you want to use and also to make sure of the content, etc.

Australia is such a wonderful country to study and this resource provides an excellent way to explore it more in depth. I highly recommend this resource!

I Want To Be A Firefighter (E-book Review)

I received a copy of the E-book A Firefighter from The Old Schoolhouse I Want To Be series to review. The series has 10 published units to introduce children to different careers. Other titles include police, pilot, artist and chef.
Each unit can be purchased for $8.95 and they also offer a discount for buying all 10 units. You can see a preview of the Firefighter unit here.

For those who love to add unit studies to their school at home this would be a great resource. It covers history, science activities, social studies, copywork and writing topic starters, math excercises, vocabulary lists, sign language finger spelling, suggestions for memory verses and outdoor games.

This resource is full of excellent information about the history of firefighters from the time of the bucket brigades to the life in a modern day firehouse. It includes a section on building codes which I found to be a wonderful topic to discuss with children, especially young ones. It also covers requirements to become a firefigther and even the history behind the firehouse dog! This was my boys favorite part.

The text is written in a way that can be used for younger children as a read aloud, as well as older children can enjoy reading it on their own.

In addition to the worksheets for each subjects, there are other fun sheets like word search and coloring pages. Answer sheets are included as well.

Large colorful illustrations, direct internet links to many great sites and books recommendations make this a complete resource to use over several days. It has enough material to covers from 1-2 weeks. We spent a few days with it reading the text, doing copywork and coloring pages, checking out the websites recommended to learn about fire safety at home and tried some of the games.

The documents ends with a great list of activities and games to host your very own Firefighters themed party! Perfect for a birthday party or a co-op group setting. We tried some of these games ourselves and had a blast.

Overall, we loved using this unit at home and I felt like we all learned so much. I love that it's written to be used with a large age range (4-10 years), so we will be able to use this resource in the future again and try new activities.

May 04, 2010

Soccer Saturdays

Noah is loving soccer and he is learning to be a great team member.
Here are some shots from Saturday's game. This boy knows how to play hard!

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May 03, 2010

Homeschool Library Builder

Make sure to visit Homeschool Library Builders site during the month of May for their fantastic Big Bin Blow-Out Sale!

They have tons of great books for as little as $1, $2, $3 and $5!

Their selection of books is great and it's a very affordable way to stock up on summer reading books or even for next fall school year. Their service is wonderful too. Fast delivery and description of the books is always accurate.

If you become a member you also get points towards future purchases!

May 02, 2010

Pirate Birthday!

Last week we had a Pirate Treasure birthday party for Caleb. It was a simple party but turned out to be a lot of fun for all the kids.
I decorated a table with sand, pirate confetti, mini gold coins, a treasure map from the dollar store, spy glass and message bottle to hold the balloons.
Caleb helped to create his pirate outfit with clothes from his wardrobe and a patch and hook from the dollar store as well. : )

When the kids arrived, we took them to a table with pirate tattoos, eye patches and bandanas and they challenged each other to see how many pretzels they could transfer from one bowl to another using a pirate hook like the one Caleb is wearing on the picture above. I gave the oldest boy in the party a timer and they pretty much did this activity on their own and tooks turn very well.

Then we played "Catch the Pirate" (plain old "tag" game but we just put a fancy pirate theme name to it).

Then the boys searched for "gold" in our sandbox. I purchased a pak of 100 plastic gold coins from Oriental Trading and was not sure how the boys were going to like this but they LOVED it. They all went home with lots of precious gold! : )
Then we had the kids take turn walking the plank blindfold. They were all very brave pirates and took on the challenge!
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Next, we divided the boys in two teams and told them to draw a "ship" on the fence with chalk.

When the ships were done, we had them switch places and gave them "canon balls" (black water balloons) to throw at the pictures and try "sink the ship" (erase it). This was so much fun for everyone. This game would have been better on a sidewalk or street. The chalk didn't erase as well from the fence but it was still fun for all.
Then we tied a balloon with yarn to each boy's ankle and with everyone's shoes off they race each other to pop the balloons until only one kid was left. Another hit with all the boys!
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The last game we played was a treasure hunt. I placed a rolled "clue" paper inside of plastic bottles with a little sand and seashells. I covered them with a little piece of cork and hid them around our back and front yard.
The boys worked well together searching for the bottles and took turns opening the bottles and reading the clues.
The last clue led them to another sandbox with hidden plastic swords for all the kids to take home.

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For the cake I made this "treasure chest" cake. This was my very first time attempting to make a cake this creative so I was very proud of the outcome. Still, I was a little nervous that something would go wrong with the cake, so....

.....I also made this cake.

Here's the whole clan, along with my happy birthday boy.

Happy birthday, Caleb!

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