Roman Architecture ~ Lessons in History, Science, and Cooperation

  Our projects don't always turn out the way we planned. This Roman arch is a perfect example, but I don't consider the activity a complete failure. 

We are studying MFW's Rome to the Reformation this year, and this Nova DVD (Amazon affiliate link) was a great supplement. My son recognized a few things that he has been learning about. "The Greeks invented concrete, but their mixture could take years to harden. The Romans perfected the technique with the addition of volcanic ash."

Joseph asked "I wonder if the Romans had this much trouble?" One of my daughters suggested maybe people walking on top of the roman arches helped keep them together.

It is a good thing we aren't architects...or Romans...or graded on every project we attempt.

 At least I got to finally use those full boxes of cereal that this project called for. Rice Krispie treats were a success!


Science DVDs by Curiosity Quest

The following DVD combo packs were provided by Curiosity Quest for the purpose of this TOS Schoolhouse Crew review.


Curiosity Quest asks "What are you curious about?" Then they proceed to answer the question in detail. Curiosity Quest actually includes a form on their website that you can enter topics you would like for them to explore and share. If you have ever wondered how oranges are harvested or how mushrooms are grown, then this is the series for you. We received two of their DVD combo packs ($24.95 each) and learned more than we knew before about six different topics. DVD Combo Pack - Produce included Mushrooms, Cranberries, and Orange Packing. DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea included Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, and Salmon. The six episodes are each about 30 minutes long with a target audience of children ages 7-14. 

My son loves science. He enjoys exploring, doing experiments, talking about it, basically anything about science. He does not enjoy writing. I solved that problem by having him combine the two making his writing more meaningful and fun for him. He added a page to his science notebooks for each of the six topics covered in these DVDs and after he watched each episode he wrote a few sentences about what he learned. 
"FunFacts" are scattered throughout each of the episodes.  These DVDs contain three episodes each. After watching the first one (mushrooms) I had him pause the DVD on the menu and mute the sound. He was prepared with his science notebook and a sharp pencil. I just had him write sentences about what he had just learned about mushrooms. We have mushrooms that grow in our yard but have never grown mushrooms to eat. The entire process was interesting from the pasteurized hay bunk beds used to grow them through the final packaging. 

We look forward to eating cranberries each fall. I've never seen them growing, and I learned my assumptions about cranberry bogs were incorrect. For one thing, cranberries do not grow in water. The "rejects" which are too small for selling are fed to deer and other wildlife. They shared that growers of organic chickens feed a lot of cranberries to their chickens. We have seen improvements in our own chickens since we followed my aunts advice to feed them blueberries which we do have in abundance. The only unanswered question I have after watching this extremely informative documentary about harvesting cranberries is the similarities and differences in cranberries and blueberries.  Before watching this, my only view of a cranberry bog was from a popular juice commercial. 

The entire orange packing process was demonstrated. We enjoyed fresh squeezed orange juice while watching Joel (the show's host) pick them and share with us as he learned how they were sorted to be sold. 

If you have ever wondered what it might be like to be a bird biologist, you can find out as well as answers to questions including why don't penguins fly?

We got a behind the scenes peek at penguin nests which closely resembled their natural habitat of the magellanic penguins. Their special diet was explained including how vitamins are hidden in their food. Their bone structure was described and interesting facts were shared like the fact that penguins have 100 feathers per square inch! 

Salmon is one of my husband's favorite foods, so my son suggested we watch that particular episode with daddy. We enjoy visiting a fish hatchery in Missouri each year (though not salmon) so it was fun to compare what we had experienced with all that the video showed us. The fish hatchery shared on this episode raises 5 varieties of salmon in Alaska. A fun way to remember the varieties: pink, chum, silver, king, and sockeye was illustrated by using five fingers. 

The rehabilitation hospital for Sea Turtles grabbed my interest. 
I've shopped for fishing hooks with my son and spent time contemplating the various features available. At the turtle hospital, they shared that stainless steel hooks last forever but that makes them a bad option for turtles who may eat fish containing fish hooks compared with regular steel hooks which can dissolve in the turtle over time. Anatomy was again covered including the yolk sac which continues to feed the turtles until they are mature enough to feed themselves. 

We don't have sea turtles in the gulf like they do in the Florida Keys, so Joseph made one in the sand. 

My fourth grader completely enjoyed these episodes. The information was shared in a way that was easily understood by him yet not too simple to also be enjoyed by me, his dad, and his big sisters. Now Grandma and Grandpa are watching the DVDs with Joseph. Each of the episodes lasted for about 30 minutes.

Social media links for Curiosity Quest:
Click to read Crew Reviews



Pinterest of Interest

     While vacationing with friends last year, my friend Wendy changed how I use Pinterest. Before, I randomly pinned things with the same disorganization as is typical for many things I do before finding a system that works. I've always said if I have a place for everything it is easier to keep everything in its place. She described Pinterest as a bulletin board and said she had spent time organizing hers. I didn't know that was possible before, but I came home and re-organized all those little boxes that were quickly filling up with stuff that I like. Now, I have an organized place to go when I have time to try out new things. Visit my Pinterest boards and you will see collections of things from favorite recipes to things I'd like to do with my kids. I have an entire board devoted to ideas of fun things to do in our yard. My favorite boards are the secret boards. Did you know that you can make them group boards, too? I share one of those with each of my kids and enjoy seeing them pin things they are saving money for as well as activities we might enjoy together.

     I have a few group boards. Read the descriptions then if you'd like to join any of them just follow it and share your email associated with your Pinterest account so I can add/invite you to it.
Below are some of my homeschool related boards:

     Since it is Occupational Therapy month I'll share my OT related boards, too:
     And just for fun:

     Do you use Pinterest in your homeschool lesson planning? The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew has a fun theme for the roundup this week: "That's Pinteresting!" Visit the other blogs linking for their Pinteresting posts.


Scripture & A Snapshot

ladybug on thistle plant

     My son and I walked outside this week, and I enjoyed seeing things from his perspective. Even bugs were things to take delight in with him. The bug in the center of the picture has another smaller bug on top of it which I didn't see until my son brought it to my attention. The perspective which he lends to many situations is far different from my own. I wonder if that is sort of what Jesus meant in this verse: 
"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Luke 18:17 KJV
     Friends visited this weekend, and she left me a book which I've already started to read: Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. One of the co-authors wrote of motherhood exhausting her. "My ideals, my hopes, my joy were snatched away before I had a chance to notice." Though in a different state now, she wrote the book to speak to moms as directed in the book of Titus. 

     Motherhood has changed me, too. So has age. I pray for many more little moments with my children where just maybe they can give me a glimpse of God's kingdom from their perspective. 

     Circumstances in my life are not always easy. I only share a glimpse of our life, just as the blog title suggests. I share good times, homeschooling, and fun things with the kids. I rarely bare my heart, but I have struggles just like everyone else. This week I've been asking friends for prayers lifted up to God in Jesus name for my family. I know He hears and answers. 

     I only made it through the first chapter in that book so far, but it ends with two verses that speak to my heart:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28
"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
May the Lord bless you this week. 

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Take time to visit  some of the other links, too. If you would like to join our group Pinterest board for Scripture & A Snapshot, simply follow the board then let me know your Pinterest name or email used there so that I can add you to it. 

Scripture and Snapshot


Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars

The following is a review completed as a Launch Team member for the new curriculum 
Star Chronicles by Dawnita Fogleman.   
As much as this is a study of stars and constellations, it is equally a Bible study. Truths that Dawnita teaches are paired with corresponding Scripture verses. One such example is when she shares that Aquila means flying eagle. The author references Psalm 91: 4-6 and shares that the eagle is protecting God's people from the arrow of the enemy.

I've read of stars in the Bible including the star of Bethlehem, but I've never before read a book that so clearly gave Scripture examples for every constellation. I was fascinated by this study. Ladies interested in a not so typical type of Bible study and homeschool families with children of all ages will find this useful and enlightening. The author also called it a Homeschool Unit Study of Constellations and Gospel Prophecy.

Official Book Description from the author:
"This is a unit study on the constellations and Bible prophecy.  When I did this study with my own children it was out of a desire to get to the bottom of the Stars. No, that doesn't sound right . . .  I wanted to get to the truth.  I started with Dr. E.W. Bullinger's book “The Witness of the Stars.”  To tell you the truth, while the book fascinated me, I thought a lot of it seemed a bit far-fetched.  So, the study began and in order to excuse the time spent, I involved the children and counted it as school! We literally scrap-booked our way through the stars. If you have read Bullinger's book, you may find little here that truly coincides.  I used his basic format for the partners he places with each main constellation in his book.  I list only the stars I found confirmation for in wikipedia.  Sometimes I did have to dig through some mythologies and zodiac rubbish in order to get the information that seemed relevant for the purpose of this book.  Some Bible references are merely what the star names or star-picture reminded me of. I've tried to make this engaging and fun, rather than overly scientific or theological."

What this book is NOT:  It is NOT a book of zodiac, astrology, or horoscopes.  You will find NOTHING of the kind in these pages.  There are references to myths and legends and they are clearly stated as such for historical purposes only.

The book is about 56 pages, not including notebooking and coloring pages.
Dawnita shared how her own children created a scrapbook when they studied these lessons together and gave examples we could follow to do the same. My kids have been enjoying art lately, so we decided to draw some of the constellations using her color code system, too. They also choose Leo the Lion to draw, and you can see those pictures shared in our Virtual Refrigerator post earlier this month.They enjoyed hearing the lessons which I read aloud as they drew.

The Leo constellation and one daughter's artistic interpretation:

Names of each star were shared in each constellation and surrounding stars. Meanings were also discussed in detail. The relationship of the constellations to specific events or people in the Bible was specified. 

My daughter made a sticker art replica of the Gemini constellation.

This was the actual book illustration for Gemini:
Notice the color coded stars. Coloring sheets can be printed for children to complete as you read the lessons aloud to them.

This book opens up with Psalm 8 then continues to have KJV Bible verses shared liberally throughout the pages. A field guide to the stars is listed as an optional resource, a Bible is mandatory though most references are shared in full in the text. Color pictures illustrate the lessons. 

Covered in the study:

  • The Beginning and The End
  • Virgin and Bride
  • Justice and Balance
  • Sting of Death
  • Archer
  • Goat
  • Water Bearer
  • Fish
  • The Lamb
  • A Bull
  • Twins
  • Resurrection
  • Lion
This study fascinated me. I had never before heard of the names for the constellations in a Biblical context, only as zodiac signs. I loved seeing how the heavens so clearly do declare the glory of God in more clear ways than I realized before. I am thankful for the research that Dawnita put into this study. As she shares about Virgo the bride, she reminds us that Jesus repeatedly referred to himself as the bridegroom. Smaller constellations and galaxies around the main ones are also discussed. Crux, for example, by Libra, is the cross, and Lupus beside it is an animal that has been slain. We learned that though Cancer is usually considered to be a crab, it is actually a dung beetle. Apparently the Egyptians thought their metamorphosis was magical. Additional references are shared for continued study. 


Dawnita Fogleman is a fifth generation Oklahoma Panhandle Pioneer. She and her husband, Paul, have six amazing children. They have homeschooled from the start and now have two graduated and starting their own businesses. With the family business and their little farm every day is a surprise. Dawnita blogs about life on the “funny farm” at FoglemanForerunner.com.

The author answered a few questions about writing this book, two are shared here:

What is your goal with writing?
Simple; to Glorify God.

Where did you find the information linking the Sphyinx to Prophecy and Astronomy? 
Great Question! A few places actually. I have "put together" information from several sources I list in the back of the book.  Many people might consider this speculation; part of the reason that introduction is so short.  It's an interesting study.  Internet searches can lead to a miriad of rabbit trails.  The lining up of the Sphinx at Gaza with the pyramids has lead many to believe it was an astrological setting.  The fact that the Virgin is at the begining and Leo the lion is at the end (litterally on the Sphinx) also point in this direction. We know the Virgin and the Lion are prime points of Biblical Prophecy.  Rather than believing the "aliens" did it, I choose to imagine the Great Flood generations had a real purpose.  :-)

Star Chronicles is available as an e-book directly from Dawnita Fogleman or as a physical book from Amazon. (affiliate links) The e-book is $12 but through April 20th you can get 25% off the e-book with the code STARMOMS The paperback version is currently on sale for $22.12. There is  also a free sample chapter through the e-book link


I've been authorized to giveaway one PDF copy of Dawnita Fogleman's book Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars. Enter through this   Rafflecopter giveaway  link. This giveawat is not limited by your location. This giveaway ends April 18th. Winner has 48 hours to respond to email or another winner will be chosen. 

Sneak Peek: DOLPHIN TALE 2

DOLPHIN TALE 2 is coming! You may remember that the first film was a huge hit with families back in 2011. This September, the original cast (Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, and Winter the Dolphin) are teaming up again to help save a new member of the Dolphin Tale family, Baby Hope. 

DOLPHIN TALE 2 promises to be just as great as the original, and I get to share a sneak peek of the trailer so that you can see for yourself! 

No affiliate links are included. This is not a compensated post. 

Supercharged Science Review with my 4th Grader

Access to their e-Science Learning program was provided by 
for the purpose of this TOS Schoolhouse Crew review. 

We tried a few components through the free version of Supercharged Science's e-Science Program over the past few years, but I did not realize the vast variety of lessons available until beginning this full access review. Though we primarily used this with my 4th grader, this homeschool science curriculum is designed for grades K-12.

"It's working!" When I heard that, over and over along with the happiness in my son's voice, I knew this was just right for him. 

For this review, we decided to focus on the 4th grade options with my son. As we started, the informative videos guided us not only through science experiments but also through making the most of the program. Making a science notebook was illustrated clearly and Aurora Lipper still managed to keep that cool factor that my son enjoyed. My fourth grader watched the introductory videos then chose electricity and magnetism as his favorite two categories of the five selections for his grade. We then progressed through the lessons completing the experiments when supplies were available. Not every lesson shared in the topics is included in a specific grade level, such as the higher level chemistry lessons, so she encouraged us to explore the website both by grade level and by topic. 

Required supplies:
We watched most of the videos together through the Apple TV device. Any computer that can access the videos would be sufficient for this. Supplies necessary for the experiments are numerous because this covers so many topics and levels. Each experiment has a list of supplies as does each topic if you want to gather them all ahead of time. Almost every topic does include at least a few experiments that can easily be completed using common supplies.

"This is cool!" and similar comments were frequently heard as my son watched Aurora's videos. Oscillating magnets, electric currents, and even reading about compost all maintained his interest. I  appreciate the question/answer section at the end of each section; at times my questions were already answered there.

Not every lesson included a video. Some were video and notes (which included materials required and explanations). Others just included the explanations without the video demonstration. There is also additional downloadable reading material for each section in addition to the information for each lesson. 

The magnet information started with a riddle. One lesson called Magnetic Grape explained the concepts of diamagnetic, paramagnetic, and ferromagnetic objects which were all new terms for my son. For this experiment, we substituted green olives for the grapes as that is what we had in the house when my son wanted to try it. We were able to test the diamagnetic properties of the olives as he imitated the steps of the experiment. 


I'm not sure that the olives worked as well for this as grapes would have, but he was satisfied that he did get them to move and he could eat the olives after completing the experiment.

The "Flying Paper Clip" was another experiment that he liked so much he included it in his "magic show" that he shared with our family one evening.

An additional 46 page K-12 textbook style download all about magnetism is also available for advanced students, I downloaded it and used it as a teacher resource. I appreciated how the lessons were appropriately classified for specific grade levels but the children could also explore their personal interests. After progressing through the entire magnetism section, my 4th grade son chose to do the electricity unit.

Ten static electricity experiments were a fun start to the unit.

Static Hairdo experiment: My girls have been chalking their hair lately, and when they saw him do this experiment they decided it was time to try it out on their brother. He thought this was working great until he realized her hair was caught on the balloon tie. Many of the experiments in this section used a balloon, and he worked his way through as many as he could. He was clearly able to see the thread react to the static on the balloon.

"An electrical circuit is like a NASCAR raceway" was the introduction to one of the sections. This is definitely interesting to my son. After easily completing multiple magnet and balloon experiments, he was disappointed though, that he could watch the other videos he wasn't able to immediately complete the experiments that required supplies that we didn't have for him to use right away. Thankfully, between my husband and my dad's shops we were able to find things that weren't "common household supplies" like battery cases and alligator clips.

In the latching circuit relay, Aurora shared: "It looks like a nightmare but you can totally do this. Just break it down into easy steps." Indeed it did look extremely complicated, but my son said he did understand her instructions.

Attaching the alligator switch to wire with daddy for use in the electrical experiments.

Videos, student worksheets and exercises, experiments, and a question/answer section make this interactive science multifaceted and a fun way for my son to learn while trying new things.

The reading section of the student information completely explained the science experiments including what was happening and the results.

When I realized he wouldn't be able to immediately complete the electricity experiments, I let him view the videos and read the lessons, but we moved on to Life Science which was another 4th grade selection.

We have a compost area that often gets any veggie scraps not fit for the animals to eat. What I realized when reading the compost lesson with my son was how much more we could be adding to the pile for our "compost gold." He learned that newspapers were good for compost but not the slick inserts as they wouldn't break down as easily. Dryer lint was something he hadn't considered adding before. When we read about the 25:1 recommendation, we realized that we need to more frequently add dry leaves. Thankfully, we do have an abundance of those. My son questioned the recommendation to add cat fur but did add old coffee grounds and a tea bag to our compost pile.

My son was not the only one to use this resource, though for the review we completely replaced his regular science plan. For the girls, we used supercharged science as an additional resource for their current science studies. A caution is included that these chemistry experiments are all at your own risk!

We actually learned a lot during the chemistry experimentation process. Preparation is key, and we returned to the same basic instructions given to my son in the beginning of this program. Both students got their science notebooks and wrote out steps, supplies, hypothesis, and actually thought through additional items that might be necessary like a hot pad and a fire extinguisher. Grandparents visited the evening that we made sodium hydroxide, so they watched that video with us again and discussed the processes covered in the book with my daughter. Balancing reactions was illustrated and explained then further discussed with Grandmommie.

Making sodium dioxide:

Yes, they are sharing one pair of gloves. Sibling cooperation is a delightful additional side effect of having his big sister try some lessons on "his" science program. C1000 and C3000 are popular chemistry kits. These lessons include a helpful indicator of which experiments you can complete with the components in each of those kits.

Here is where that experiment got a little complicated. Though we already had two different chemistry kits on hand, this was the very first time for us to actually try to use the burner. It didn't work with rubbing alcohol. It didn't work with the cheep 80% alcohol from behind the counter at the gas station where I bought the kids icees. So my dad held the flame thrower under the beaker until we finally started to see changes. Then someone had the bright idea to try a candle. The bottom of the beaker was black before they finished. But again, it worked!

A glimpse of our computer screen when we watched again with my parents before trying again:

Supplies needed, a complete explanation of the experiment and additional applicable information, chemical reactions to expect, and even proper clean up are all shared online with the video.

Mixing the two elements, the reaction changes during the experiment.

We were successful the second time around as evidenced by the changes in the litmus paper first to blue and then to pink!

The next chemistry experiment was much easier: making copper is pictured below. Look closely at the last image. The outer edge of the rod changed to copper! 

We now have an extensive collection of science e-books on the iPad from Supercharged Science.

Though I have not been formally testing my son in science, the exercises included with each lesson contained a comprehensive question list which was just right as a review. I had him write some of the questions in his science notebook and answer them independently then discuss with me, others we discussed without writing. The answers are also provided.

We recently got to try controlling water robots during a field trip to a nearby college. My son asked if that was something he could do, and his excitement filled the house when I found instructions on the supercharged science website for a simple waterbot. I was surprised to see a fairly simple supply list. He already watched the first video with me. He is also making plans to make us a doorbell.

If you are ready to try it out, Supercharged Science has a generous offer for my blog readers! Click to access a FREE copy of the Science Activity Video Series and Guidebook

Enrollment is $37 per month or $57 per month for the advanced grade 5-8 & High School level program, but Aurora has a very special offer for you: one month of full access to e-Science for just $1. You can also have free access to the sample experiments.

Click to read Crew Reviews
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