Today's Wisdom

Monday, March 30, 2015

Review of Thick as Thieves

Our family loves reading!!  We are always on the lookout for wholesome, character building books to devour so today's review meets that criteria and more.  I would place it into the category of historical fiction so even more bang for your buck. Circle C Milestones is a series of books published by Kregel Publications following the adventures of Andrea Carter also known as, Andi, as she heads straight into the ups and downs of becoming a teenager.  We received the first book in the series, Thick as Thieves and we're already looking forward to the second one set to be released in July 2015, Heartbreak Trail.  

Thick as Thieves is a paperback book with 176 pages and 26 chapters. It is recommended for ages 12 and up.  My daughter and I read the book together out loud.  I would say that the book would appeal mostly to girls but I have to tell you that as my sons would walk by as we were reading, you would here them chuckle and stand around the door to see what was going to happen next.  They really enjoyed the vibrant character of Macy and I really enjoyed allowing myself to find her character as I would read.  


The setting takes place in the late 1800's in California and centers around Andi.  She lives on the Circle C ranch and helps out with the daily tasks of ranch life as much as her mother will allow.  The beginning opens as her favorite horse, Taffy, is about to give birth.  She would prefer to stay at the ranch all day but has to head off to school instead.  Not only did that have her spirits down but when she arrives at school, the new girl, Macy Walker, is assigned to sit beside her.  As I said earlier, Macy is a wild mess and as the story unfolds we were all on the edge of our seats to see how the relationship of these two would end up.  Family trials are also a part of Andi's days as their ranch is being hit by cattle rustlers.  I won't spoil it for you, but there was plot twist that neither of us was expecting!  Sarah, my daughter, and I have decided we really want to go back and read some of the other books and series now.  Each series follows along with Andi as she grows but they aren't needed to fully understand the story line of the book. 

Thick as Thieves Book Review

Author Susan K. Marlow has such a fun and wonderful way of writing that shines through in this book.  She also has a fun blog where she shares stories written from readers, fun trivia, photos, and more.  Thick as Thieves is written from Andi's point of view making it extremely relatable.  My daughter who is 11 and a little younger than the recommended age had no trouble reading this at all. We both think any girl would love it.  The central theme of the book all comes back to friendship and Scripture verse 1 Peter 3:8 is recommended for memorization.  Andi often quotes Scripture verses through out the book as well.  You can read a sample excerpt here.

Also available for free on the website is a 40 page downloadable Study Guide that includes many enrichment ideas from comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, writing assignments, crossword puzzles, Scripture memory posters, and more.  It's divided up into 6 sections with the 2 recommendations for using it.  You can read the whole book at once and then go back to do the study guide. You could also read the chapters assigned to each section and incorporate the study guide all along.  We chose the 2nd option and decided to pick and choose which activities we were interested in most for each section.  I loved that it included an answer key.  

Here is a sample of a timeline we prepared on how to train a foal.  

There is plenty of reading fun available for a variety of ages. Here are the series of books available at this time:

Circle C Beginnings - recommended for ages 6-9
Circle C Adventures - recommended for ages 9-14
Circle C Milestones -  recommended for ages 12 +

There is also a series of books for boys ages 8-12 - Goldtown Adventures

Find out more on on Circle C Milestones by visiting their Website, Facebook, or Twitter pages.

Koru Naturals Review
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Homeschool ABC's Collab Playlist for Letter G-I

Playlist G includes topics on Grace and Games.

Playlist H includes topics on Homekeeping Schedules, Handwriting, Library Hauls, and Homeschool Room Tour.

Playlist I includes Imaginative Play, CPR certification, Invisible Ink, Interest Led Learning, Instruction, and Individualized Education.

Hope you enjoy the different perspectives from different homeschool families!  I know that I am!  If you would like to join in, you can do so at any time.  Email me if you are interested and I'll let you know the letter we are on for the week.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up - Week 23 and counting - Spring is in the Air!!


Again, it was a gorgeous week!  I just had to get out and enjoy the wonderful sunshine.  I hit my very first 10,000 step goal - oh yeah!!  I have to admit that was incredibly hard for me and I had to walk 3 times to get it in but I finally did it - one time at least!

We also spent lots of time outside exploring - it seems we have been waiting for these days so long!

These two put on a wonderful #disneyside party!  They had a blast decorating and getting everything ready!  It just goes to show that you are never too old to show your Disney side!

Spring has sprung!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review of Visual Learning Systems

Visual Learning Systems Review
We were recently given the opportunity to review Visual Learning Systems Digital Science Online. They have two available options Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).  

Visual Learning Systems offers over 250 science video programs in digital, DVD, and VHS formats.

We used the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition for our review purposes.Their online courses are extremely easy to navigate and offer many types of teaching tools to assist with different learning styles.  They offer videos, images, animations, student content, and teacher guides.  

Visual Learning Systems Review

The subjects offered in the secondary edition are:
  • physical
  • earth
  • life
  • health
  • biology
Each of these subjects are then broken down by topics.  For instance, we used the subjects health and biology.  Some of the topics under health were A Healthy Body, A Balanced Diet, Healthy Circulatory & Respiratory Systems, and many more topics. Some of the topics included under biology were Amazing Amphibians & Reptiles, Exploring Plant Reproduction, Fungi, Angiosperms & Gymnosperms, and many more.

Each topic is broken down into these sections:
  • Videos - Here you will find all the videos on the topic being covered including an introduction video, video review (summing up), and video quiz (video assessment).
  • Animations - This section is for the teacher if they choose not to use the videos but instead just want to incorporate some of the animations used.  They can also be used as a review of the videos.
  • Images - Again, this section is provided for a teacher whose time may be limited and they just wish to show images instead of the actual videos or again as a review for the videos.
  • Teacher Guides - The teacher guides are available as a PDF download.  They include instructions and answer keys for the teacher as well as student activity sheets. The teacher is given brainstorming ideas to use before starting the course as well as to find out what they already know.  Some ideas are also given for simple activities such as showing students how to take their pulse rate, making a sample shopping list for a days meals, etc.  It really helps to get the student excited about the topic that will be taught.  Some also include lab activities.
Our thoughts and How We Used This

The layout of the online course makes it extremely easy for teachers to pick and choose what they would like to use. You could go through each course as it is set up or you could use it to supplement a curriculum you are already using.  We actually did both and what we did may sound backwards because my high schooler used a middle school subject and my middle school student used a high school subject!  I think that just shows the diversity and ease of the program.  

My high schooler went through the health section and studied each topic that was given.  This subject was actually one of the middle school subjects (it stated grades 5-9) but I let him choose what he was interested in and that's the one he chose.  Each topic includes a preliminary assessment, activity ideas, student sheets, and a post assessment along with the videos. 

His schedule was as follows:

Monday - filled out the preliminary assessment which was simply fill in the blank with a word bank and true/false.  He also watched the videos and filled out video review and quiz sheet
TuesdayWorked on activity sheets provided.  Some that he did were labeling the heart, analyzing food labels, healthy meal planning, vocabulary, labeled digestive system parts, etc.
Wednesday - continued on activity sheets
Thursday - filled out the post assessment

When he began the course, he said it was very elementary but as he continued he changed his mind.  At first, it was simple basic nutrition but as they added in the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, and skeletal system information he decided it was more on his level.  He plans to go through the biology section next which is a high school level course.  I printed out his activity sheets but other than that he navigated through the course independently.  I printed out the sheets during my Saturday planning time which only took about 5 minutes at the most.

My middle school daughter is studying botany at the present time so we supplemented whatever video we could find to correspond with her curriculum.  We studied about fungi and there was a video to correspond with that. It was a great review for her and really solidified what she was learning through the visual videos.  Some of the vocabulary used in the videos was advanced for her but with the vocabulary sheets provided it was easy to tackle those.  I did preview the videos before showing them to her and this is also where the animations and image sections came in handy for us. She did not use any of the students sheets as far as printing them out and writing on them.  We did however go over some of them.  For example, there was a sheet on honeybees with questions that she read about on the computer and then she answered the questions out loud.  Again, it was extremely easy for us to find and pick out what we wanted to learn about it.

We have enjoyed using Visual Learning Systems and will continue to use it.

If you would like to find out more, they offer free tutorials showing you how to navigate through the courses and a one month free trial.  They have special homescool pricing available as well.

You can also connect with Visual Learning Systems at these social media sites:

Visual Learning Systems Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 9, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up - Week 22


The sun came out!  Yay, there's nothing like a little sunshine to push the itch for spring!  

Overall it was another good week and we are continuing our state and president study which I just love.  Stephen and Sarah really enjoy it as well.  We're simply going over our state sheets that are provided with our curriculum.  They give little "did you know" facts, state birds, nicknames, postal abbreviations, etc.

We now have a Cadet Staff Sergeant residing in our home. We are so proud of Stephen's accomplishments and self discipline to keep moving forward.  

Mom's update

Over the holiday season I gained back 10 of the pounds I worked so hard to lose...ugh.  So, I'm back to tracking and walking and so far I'm back down 5 of them.  This weight loss stuff is so hard. I get bored with tracking but it really helps me to know what I've put in my mouth.  I tried tracking calories with My Fitness Pal but just could never lose that way I wanted so it's back to points tracking with Weight Watchers.

This week's selfie hack

  This week's Scripture Art Journal

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review of Egglo Entertainment

Egglo Entertainment Review
I have an extremely fun review for you today.  This is a product that I reviewed last year and still one that a year later I would highly recommend!  You can see last year's review here.

Egglo Entertainment has designed a phenomenal way to teach children about the light of Jesus using The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure. Glow in the Dark Egglo EggsThe Egg-cellent Easter Adventure bookEgglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls, and Egglo Bible Verse Stickers are just a few of the items they offer to bring this fun time to life.  We received these physical items to review as well as The Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum which was a digital download. Their whole line is based on John 1:5 - The Light shines in the dark and the darkness has not overcome it.  If you are looking for a Christian themed Easter activity then you will want to check these out.

Let your light shine is sort of a motto in our home and one I have tried to instill in my children since birth.  I always wanted to center our holiday celebrations around Jesus and absolutely adore products who help me fulfill that vision.

I'm going to share a secret with you.  Our main homeschool area is in my bedroom and it is often a downright mess!  The eggs I received last year sit on the corner of my bedroom dresser and every night they put off the exact same glow that they did a year ago!  They aren't in front of window, just the normal every day light allows them to light up at night.  I would love to tell you that they are there on purpose to remind me of the light of Jesus every night before closing my eyes but honestly they just haven't found their own home yet or then again maybe they have.

 The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book is 40 pages long and filled with beautiful full color illustrations.  The story connects with your egg hunt beautifully and teaches children there is more to Easter than just eggs filled with candy.  You will follow along with 3 children and a dog as they go on a special treasure hunt.  As they go on their journey, the children learn the Easter story and find the ultimate treasure, Jesus.  We use this as a read aloud now during Easter week. We have traditional books that we read each year and since receiving this one last year it has been added to our list for Easter. 

The Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum is a wonderful digital resource filled with free printables and ideas to host egg hunts at schools, churches, and homes.  It includes invitations, sticker sheets, decoration printouts, recipes for snack suggestions, activity printables, devotion ideas, and so much more.  It is a 60 page treasure trove all by itself!

Of course the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs are perfect for Easter but we've also tried to think of some ways to use them all year round.  My daughter loves leaving us little love notes in them and it is not unusual to pull pack your covers and find love note egg waiting for you on your pillow. 

The Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls, and Egglo Bible Verse Stickers are wonderful tool to aid in memorization. 

They both fit perfectly inside the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs.  One of our favorite activities is to do Bible drills using the scrolls.  Here you can see a little of that in action.

Our all time favorite way to use the Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs is with treasure hunts.  There are two available suggestions on the website.  This time we chose to do The Light Of Jesus Treasure Hunt. I've found that kids of all ages enjoy treasure hunts or at least mine do!

The Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs are great for craft activities too!  We hung this egg garland in our kitchen and it gets its charge by the natural light each day and then glows for us each night.  This time we did make these on purpose to remind us to shine our lights just like Jesus shines His light for us.  It's the perfect reminder as the sun sets of how Jesus is still there shining even in the dark!

I could not photograph the glow that we saw from the direct sunlight so I held a lamp up to these for about 2 minutes on each egg so I could try to capture a picture for you.  The eggs do glow well just with natural sunlight but I could never get a good  photograph that way.  We did find the glow to be more vibrant when allowed to sit directly under a lamp.

Here you can see clearly the kind of glow we received when we used a little lamp and let the eggs sit under the lamp for about 30 minutes.

If you've been reading here long, you know that all my children are very hands on in their learning styles so they enjoy any kind of product that they can touch and manipulate.  The eggs are made of very durable plastic so I think they will be around for a long time in our home.

Never underestimate the fun of a simple little egg especially one that glows in the dark and teaches at the same time! The concept is simple but the message it carries is powerful.  Egglo Entertainment has designed the perfect way for us to make memories that will last a lifetime!

You can also find out more about Egglo Entertainment at these social media sites:

Egglo Entertainment Review
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Homeschool ABC's Playlists for D through F

In letter D playlist you will find topics on DVD curriculum, Day in the Lifes, Dad, and Dinner.

Letter E topics covered include Encouragement, Educational Apps, Extracurricular Activities, and Exercise.

Letter F topics include Fix It Grammar, File Folder Games, Freebies, Family, and Field Trips.