Today's Wisdom

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Well Do My Children Know Me?

This was so much fun to do!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Planner Peak and Supplies I Like To Use

I am a planner addict!  I love paper planners and always have since I can remember.   My current favorite is the Family Plus Daytimer that I picked up from Wal-Mart for $19.96.  This will be my 2nd year using it and I still love the layout.

Here is a peak into my planner...

And here I share some of my favorite supplies...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our Dinners

Sharing some of our meals - we stick to the same ones mostly but it's still fun to look back on too!

Review of Out of the Box Games

Out of the Box Games Review

Our family has a love affair with games - card games, board games, video! Today's review brings you a guaranteed hilarious family fun time! Out of the Box Games has produced a sly and witty award winning game called Snake Oil. It's slogan says, "It cures what ails ya."

Out of the Box Games Review

Snake Oil is a quick game to learn and retails for $19.99. It contains over 289 wild word cards and 70 character cards. It can be played by 3-10 players.

This game is easy to set up and only takes minutes before you are laughing hysterically. Each player takes a hand of six Word Cards. You will also select one player to be the Customer for the 1st round.

Playing the Game
  1. The Customer takes a Customer Card from the center of the box, reads it aloud, and places it in front of him or herself. The Customer takes on the role printed on the Customer Card for that round. Some examples of roles are cowboys, teenager, ninja, etc. 
  2. The other players have 30-40 seconds to combine two Word Cards from their hands to create something for the Customer. Players place their two-card items face down on the table. In clockwise order from the Customer, players turn over and “pitch” their item to the Customer. The Customer can cut o ff any pitch that goes over 30 seconds. 
  3. After each player has made a pitch, the Customer picks the best item and awards the Customer Card to the player who created that item. 
  4. The Word Cards that were played are then discarded and players take enough Word Cards to bring their hands back up to six. 
  5. The player to the left of the current Customer becomes the new Customer and play continues following steps 1-4 until each player has been the Customer once.
Winning the Game
After each player has been the Customer once, the player with the most Customer Cards wins!

It's just that simple! Snake Oil is best for ages 10 and up. It does take some critical thinking skills to come up with a quick advertisement for your Customer. Your children would need to be able to read the words on the card to play effectively or have someone there to help as well. Only having six word cards to choose from for your advertisement could sometimes be a difficult task to come up with quickly. The words do not necessarily fit together easily - words like dream, bacteria, glasses, prayer, sleep, rubber. Selling something made of any of those two items would take some great marketing skills! That's what makes the game take on twists and turns which creates loads of family fun. We were not real sticklers for the 30 second time restraint.

This game also went along perfectly with our American History studies as we imagined ourselves as real snake oil salesman! Real snake oil did exist and was introduced to America during the building time of the Transcontinental Railroad. Jeff Ochs, Teacher and Inventor of Snake Oil, actually came up with the concept of the game to use in his own classroom as they were studying a unit on the wild west. Here are more ideas on using Snake Oil as a part of your classroom studies.

I think this would make a wonderful game to gather around after Thanksgiving dinner. It is definitely a new favorite among our game shelf!

Other places to find Out of the Box Games

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Countdown To Thanksgiving

**Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for my review.  The links below are affiliate links. All opinions expressed are my own.

Amy Puetz, owner of Golden Prairie Press, has produced a new Countdown to Thanksgiving Ebook.  If you are looking for something to help your family slow down and focus on being thankful this holiday season, this is a great resource for you.

We were given the chance to review this colorful ebook and I wanted to share a little of what you will find inside.

Countdown to Thanksgiving is available in both ebook and printed book formats.  The ebook is in color while the printed book is in black and white.  Both the ebook and the printed book sell for $17. 

Countdown to Thanksgiving is broken down into 14 daily lessons that can be completed leading up to Thanksgiving.  Each day includes a beautiful Thanksgiving story.  Many of the stories are from the 1800's and 1900's.  Some of the stories included are...

  • "Helen's Thanksgiving" by Susan Coolidge
  • "Why He Carried the Turkey" by James Baldwin
  • "How Obadiah Brought About Thanksgiving" by Emily Hewitt Leland
  • "The Mother of Thanksgiving" by Amy Puetz
  • "A Mystery in the Kitchen" by Olive Thorne Miller
  • "Squanto" by Mr. Blaisdell and Mr. Ball
  • "The Story of Massasoit" by Robert Mackenzie
  • "Turning the Thanksgiving Tables" By Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Each day also includes an activity.  The activities are very simple and can be completed easily with very little preparation.  The main thing would be to check any supplies needed for crafts and recipes.  Some of the activities include songs to sing, cooking, crafts such as making pilgrim hats, games, questions about the stories, etc.  

The ebook can be completed with children of all ages but is best suited for children ages 6-14.  Reading through Countdown to Thanksgiving is a great way to bring families together during the beginnings of the hectic holiday time!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review of Purposeful Design

Purposeful Design Review

We recently had the chance to review a wonderful book by Purposeful Design called Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation.
Purposeful Design Review
Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation takes you through the seven days of creation in a way that I have never quite seen before. It comes in a hardcover book and has 96 pages.  You can purchase it here for $18.95.

Each page is filled with full color images that appeal to all ages. It reads and looks like a storybook but it is filled with science facts. It is certainly not the boring textbook that you may think of when you hear the word science. It has been coined as the coffee table book.  You can download a few chapters to see the beautiful pages for yourself.

The Chapters:

  1. The First Day - Creation of the Heavens and the Earth - the Foundation of it All
  2. The Second Day - Creation of Atmosphere and Water
  3. The Third Day - Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation
  4. The Fourth Day - Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
  5. The Fifth Day - Creation of the Birds and Fish
  6. Creation Day Six - Creation of Land Creatures and Humans
  7. The Seventh Day 
Here are just some of the topics you will discuss as you journey through the seven days of creation with Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation:
  • The Moon's orbit
  • The Second law of Thermodynamics
  • The speed of the earth's obit
  • The rain cycle
  • The importance of vegetation and plants to humans
  • Seasons
  • The Earth's tilt
  • Phases of the moon
  • Stars
  • Tides
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Animals
  • Humans including the perfect design of the human head
Throughout the entire text you will also find many scripture verses pointing you back to the Creator and the fact that we were not just thrown together nor was our universe. God designed it all with a Purposeful Design. Author Jay Schabacker's goal is to share his findings with all. He wants his readers to marvel that God's love shines forth in His creation.  

Available at the website is a free curriculum guide called the Purposeful Design: Young Explorer’s Club to go along with the book. Each chapter has scripture memory, questions that include fill in the blank and comprehension, several scripture verses for reflection, a sketch area, and it closes with a time of prayer.  There is also a teacher's edition that includes the answers and a certificate of completion for each chapter.

The back of the book has a resource page with a Bibliography and recommended reading.

We used Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation as a read aloud book in our homeschool with all three children (grades 10, 8, and 6).  I used the Purposeful Design: Young Explorer’s Club as a guide to help us discuss what we read as a family. Our favorite part was all the scripture verses that were added in to each day of creation. This book helped us to marvel and be thankful for all of God's creation.

I think this would be a wonderful resource for all homeschool families.

Other Places To Find Purposeful Design

Twitter: (@Jayschabacker)
LinkedIn: Jayschab

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Review of IXL

Christmas Book Review
IXL is an online comprehensive practice site offering over 4,000 skills in IXL Math and IXL Language Arts. IXL aligns with state standards giving your child unlimited access to practicing math and language arts skills. 

IXL Language Arts covers grades 2-8 and IXL Math covers grades Pre-K-12. They are constantly adding new skills to IXL so if you haven't checked out their website lately, you may be surprised to see all the new skills offered.

The cost of a membership can be paid monthly or yearly. The monthly cost is $9.95 and the yearly cost is $79 - this membership is for 1 child and 1 subject area (math or language arts). You can also choose a membership for both subject areas (math and language arts) and 1 child for $15.95 per month or $129 per year. Additional students can be added for $2 per month or $20 for the year.

Here is a sample price subscription for 3 children for a year. You can go here and put in the number of children that you wish to purchase for to find your correct membership price.

Some of the perks included in your membership price are...
  • Questions that adapt to your child's ability and continue to increase in difficulty as they improve
  • Weekly email reports on your child's progress
  • Email notifications of your child's accomplishments
  • Children unlock awards as their practice time and skills improve
  • Reports showing you your child's strengths and trouble spots
IXL works on most computer platforms - see here for more on technical requirements. 

In Our Homeschool

We used IXL with Stephen and Sarah.  Stephen practiced 8th grade and Sarah practiced 6th grade.  They both used IXL Math and IXL Language Arts. I chose to start them with their current grade level but you also have the option of practicing by topic.  The parent can hide the grade level so your student can practice any topic in any grade level and not feel like they are behind.

Stephen and Sarah completed 10 minutes of practice each day.  

When you look at this screenshot of a IXL Math, you will see...

  • The number of problems that you have attempted
  • A handy timer that counts the time you have spent working (you also have the option of turning this off if it bothers your student)
  • Your SmartScore - If your student answers correctly their SmartScore increases but if they answer incorrectly their SmartScore will go down, they will be give the correct answer with and explanation on how to solve it.
  • The problem to be answered is on the left with the choices of answers

As your child increases their practice time and masters skills, they will unlock awards. Here is a sample of the award screen.  This simple action really motivated my children to keep going to see what virtual prize they could unlock next!

The Language Arts screen works the same way as the Math.

One of my favorite parts of using IXL was the simplicity.  I didn't have to go and find out how Stephen and Sarah were doing.  They sent me an email to let me know.  If I wanted to check their progress, I could at any time.  We began with their current grade level and in the beginning both of them struggled but it wasn't long before they seemed to really improve and start mastering a few skill levels.  This curriculum offers a tremendous amount of practice to keep students study skills sharp and focused.  I have seen great improvements in my children in as little as 10 minutes a day!

Other places to find IXL

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review of David Nicholson's Book - If He Had Not Come

The holiday season is here! If you are looking for a great Christmas book to add to your collection, then I have a priceless one to recommend!

David Nicholson has reintroduced A Classic Christmas Story by Nan F. Weeks called If He Had Not Come.

The book is a very quick read with only 40 pages and comes with a hardbound cover.  It can be purchased here for $18.95. This story is best for ages 6 and up.

David Nicholson is a retired teacher and heard this classic story while sitting in his Sunday School class.  In the preface he states that he remembered thinking to himself as he drove home that day, "I am going to read this story to my family this and every Christmas to come."   He has now made it his mission to share this beautiful story with everyone.  

Christmas Book Review
If He Had Not Come tells the story of a young boy named, Bobby.  After listening to his father read John 15:22 on Christmas Eve, those five words "If I had not come" would not leave his mind.  The rest of the story unfolds in a dream as just some of the things that would have happened had Jesus not come.  Each reading page is coupled with a beautifully colored illustration page that brings the words completely to life.  This illustration in particular had me in tears as I read this beautiful story to my children.  

The story doesn't end there though, it brings you back to Bobby being awoken by church bells and being more thankful than ever that Jesus did come!

There is no better way to start the holiday season off than that!  Focusing on the true reason for the season!

The back of the book allows you even more opportunities to reflect on as a family or church group.  It includes several interactive questions.  There is a Going Deeper section that aids you in exploring what the Bible has to say about the birth of Jesus.  The Gospel Message is also presented along with Bible verses to help you find out just how simple the gift of salvation is to receive from Jesus.  

An idea is given for a simple art project.  It asks you to draw a Christmas tree and gives you discussion points of how a Christmas tree reminds us of eternal life in Jesus.  My daughter completed this activity.  She has also requested that this book be added to our books that we read every year!

Our family would highly recommend this book to all parents who are trying to teach their children that the best gift ever has already been given!  It would also be a great addition to any church library.  

Here is a personal note that was attached to the inside cover of my book when I received it.  I find it such a wonderful touch when an author takes the time to do this.  It's so simple, yet it makes a great impact on it's reader - me!

You can also find out more on Facebook.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 10 - Wrap Up!

Another week down - it's a wrap on week 10!  Happy November!

Science study - Invertebrates

Jonathan doing Application of Grammar

Look who won our local Food Lion coloring contest!

Halloween Fun

This year was our first year not dressing up but staying home and having some fun carving, baking, and watching movies.  It was SO FUN!

 We have 2 weeks and then we will be taking a little break for Thanksgiving.  I'm ready now! 

Read Alouds

Continuing and a little behind schedule on 
Madeline Takes Command.

Weigh In

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