31.7.15

With Lee In Virginia ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Our whole family looked forward to the release of the latest cd from Heirloom Audio Productions audio dramatization of G.A. Henty. Excitement built for this one even more as With Lee in Virginia is about our nation's history and somewhat close to home. The subject matter, like most of Henty's books, includes war and violence. With Lee in Virginia takes place during the Civil War includes whipping slaves. Not condoned, but shared as it happened, still there are parts of this story that are not easy listening.

For this review, we received the newly released CD and related downloads including an MP3 download version as well as these special bonus downloads: Ebook, official soundtrack, cast poster, study guide and discussion starter, poster, and newsletter. The study guide provides more historical facts of the main characters. Points to get younger children engaged and suggestions for older students to expand the lesson with written assignments are included as well as definitions and further reading selections. Slavery in the Bible is also discussed. 

My children and I listened to this CD together and discussions followed. As we listened the first time, my son's running commentary accompanied the story. He described the sounds he heard and discussed the voices. "General Jeb Stuart was Sam on Lord of the Rings!" Many of the cast members are familiar from movies. Kirk Cameron was initially unrecognizable to us in the video clip as he was in character with a full beard. His son joined him the young character Will. 

This Henty tale is one of American history. Woodlands in Nashville, Tennessee, the famous battleground in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and locations throughout Virginia make up the settings of this Civil War story. Our family was intrigued by the southern accents used. As true southerners ourselves, we thought some of the actors were a bit overzealous in their attempts. Though we appreciated their attempts, we just had to shake our heads and chuckle

Duty, honor, and respect are evident throughout this historical tale. Even earning the enemy's respect is shared. Henty's stories emphasize strong character traits worth emulating. 

Bill Heid brings Henty's historical stories to life. "Look! There's Jackson standing like a stonewall!" General Stonewall Jackson and his stonewall troops turned the battle around. These historical characters that we have studied almost come back to life in our imagination as we listen to these dramatic interpretations. 

With the current controversy over the Confederate flag, this story helped to facilitate even more relevant conversations with my children. One character, Otis, seems to make an out of character decision and one of my children questioned "It doesn't make sense that Otis joined the Union army. He was obviously not against slavery." Yes, there are things in history beyond my understanding, but there is also much more to the Civil War than slavery.

Slaves and masters, union versus confederate, mothers and sons...emotions are strong in these events. Do you know about the battles of The Civil War? If you want to know more, consider adding this to your library. With Lee in Virginia is a story of hope.

Connect with Heirloom Audio Productions Online:
Facebook: With Lee in Virginia and Heirloom Audio

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

30.7.15

UnLock Math ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review



Math is necessary, but teaching that to kids that don't call it their favorite subject just isn't easy. UnLock Math is an online math curriculum that explains math to visual learners and some of them even call it fun! We received online access for this review. An internet connection is required for these lessons. 

If you decide to sign up, click this referral link for a coupon code for $100 off of your subscription! 

The program provides seperate log-in accounts with dashboards for both the parent and the student. The student dashboard includes a gradebook which includes all completed problems as well as complete explanations of each problem. An included pacing guide suggests how many days students should spend on each student. Even if assignments are stopped mid-lesson, their work is saved! Sixteen units progress from whole numbers to probability and statistics.

With a math lesson starting off by launching a rocket, I was hopeful that that UnLock Pre-Algebra would capture my son's attention. Each new component of the homeschool math curriculum is unlocked by working through it in an orderly pattern. Once the student clicks the rocket to launch that section, a new page opens.




UnLock Math Pre-Algebra lessons are presented in an orderly sequence. They begin with such simple problems that my son questioned if I had him at the right level. (Every student begins at the same point.) The level of difficulty quickly progressed. The sequenced steps include: Warm Up, the UnLock video lesson, Practice, Stay Sharp, Reference (printable notes,) and Challenge. Everything starts out locked, and the student actually sees each locked graphic change to an image of an unlocked padlock as they progress through the steps. Carefully planned videos teach and explain new steps. The first five units are a review but are also foundational for the rest of the program.


The UnLock Math lessons can be done on a computer or iPad, and my son tried both. While working through the initial problems on the computer, a pop up said to let the page keep loading  before progressing, so even with rapid answers we were forced to slow down.

I appreciate how feedback is provided immediately after completing the last problem and clicking submit. If any problems were missed, the exact problem is shown so students can learn from their mistakes.



Matthew and Alesia Blackwood created UnLock Math to be "the best middle/high school homeschool curriculum on the market." They now offer this homeschool pre-algebra and their UnLock Algebra1 recently launched. Algebra2 is planned for 2016.They also reached out by email and offered assistance. They even included their phone number in the welcome letter provided on the student's launch page. Their program is offered as a one year subscription, and a discount is offered for the second student in the same family. 

My son's opinion is: "It is not easy." He actually described it as looking at a map of Africa upside down and trying to figure out what to do next. In hindsight, I should have had my middle child do this program as a reinforcement. The new material was just too advanced for my son's current level of math skills. He will likely be ready to tackle this math in 7th grade. 

Made By Me ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 30

We have been busy in the Cuts By Laser shop this summer. The most recent project "made by me" is this 35 piece etched mini butterfly puzzle and matching box.



Jennifer


   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   


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29.7.15

The Virtual Refrigerator

This is the last week of our red challenge. For the next three months we plan to feature different artists, and I hope you will join us. Em made this last week when we were both in the shop. 


Jennifer

The Virtual Refrigerator:
An InLinkz Link-up


Our weekly blog hop is co-hosted by Every Bed of RosesHomeschool Coffee Break, and a Glimpse of our Life. Link up your art tutorials or projects that your children have been working on. Then pin the same to our virtual fridge by joining our group pinterest board, just ask any of us to add you. Join us at the blogs of any of the four bloggers who are hosting the Virtual Refrigerator. Link up, visit others who join us, try something new, then come back and share that, too. We want to see your child's masterpiece on our #VirtualFridge 

High School Electives


high school electives


Through the years we have explored interests letting the kids participate in drama, singing, dancing, soccer, and more.

Other moms have shared talents and taught classes in a variety of subjects. Some of the ones that the girls have joined include speech, Spanish, and photography. 4H opened even more doors from raising chickens to shooting sports. Cooking is another area that our whole family has benefited from the girls' attempts.

Several years ago my aunt offered to teach my girls how to smock. They started with smocked nightgowns and progressed to more and more new sewing techniques. That same aunt invited us to join her at monthly classes, and we all joined the Smocking Arts Guild of America. That group of ladies is such a blessing. In addition to heirloom sewing techniques and a dear charity project, they have had us join them in quilting lessons and advanced classes. The girls have come a long way from when I first taught them to sew pillowcases and elastic waist skirts. They have made doll clothes and Regency style dresses and capes. Last summer my oldest daughter challenged us to sew 100 dresses for a missionary friend to take to Nicaragua. With help from a lot of friends, we met her goal! If family members offer to share their skills, accept their assistance gratefully.

Music is something we encourage the kids to do because of their initial interest. The girls both started violin and piano lessons when they were very young, and now they both teach younger students. In the past year my oldest daughter saved and bought herself a banjo which she is learning how to play, and her sister did the same with her harp. We have sought out opportunities for them to continue to develop their talents from classes, concerts, and camps to playing with orchestra groups and at special events.

Sometimes electives aren't planned, they just happen when we make the most of opportunities. A friend shared about Apple Camp offered for 8-12 year old kids over the summer. We signed my son up for their digital movie camp and then found out parents are required to stay in the store, too, during the class. While his big sisters and I waited, we were invited to join in classes for adults during my son's camp class two of the three days. The third day was reserved for watching my son and the other kids share what they learned. One of the classes the girls and I joined was about editing photos. They already had a photography class and more than enough hours for that to be a credit, but this added to their knowledge and built on their skills with relevant information.

Our library is another resource that we appreciate. The dear librarians have arranged classes including knitting, painting, and more in addition to encouraging their love of reading.

Online classes open up even more options. The high school ones that my girls have especially enjoyed  include Mango Languages and Landry Academy's Gimp class.

Because of the ability to flex our schedule, the girls have been able to participate in things that a typical school schedule would not allow. When you consider electives, don't limit your children to what they can do at home.
    Read More on Homeschooling in the High School Years from these friends:
    Jennifer

    Favorite Childhood Book ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 29

    The Secret Garden is the first "big book" that I read by myself, and it is still a favorite. I read it out loud to my girls when they were much younger. Though there isn't an occupational therapist in the story, the heroine acts like one.

    What was one of your favorite books from your childhood? (I have many!)
    Jennifer

       

        An InLinkz Link-up
       




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    28.7.15

    Animals ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 28

    Our baby kittens have graduated from a plastic tub in the kids' bathroom to a pen outside. They can't be completely free in our yard because of our other bigger animals. They did get playtime out of the pen today, and my daughter shared these sweet pictures of two of them:



    Jennifer
        An InLinkz Link-up
       


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    27.7.15

    Make The Most of These Days

         Today’s post is sponsored by Gerber® Good Start® Gentle, who believe that comfort for baby means happiness for all.  Here is my Formula for Happiness™.
     #formulaforhappiness

         Two of my nieces are expecting babies soon, one will be a first baby and the other niece is having her second daughter any day now. It makes me nostalgic for when my own were newborn which doesn't seem that long ago. One baby shower I attended asked all of the moms present to share our best advice for the new mom. My recommendations are about making the most of these days. They pass by so quickly. 

         This doesn't seem like as big of a deal until you look back and see who is missing in snapshots. Ask friends and family members to take pictures that include both you and the baby. Undoubtedly there will be many pictures of the baby, but be sure you are in some of them.

         Expect messes, and when they happen don't let the messes upset you. Those handmade treasures are lovely gifts. Use them, but don't stress when your baby spits up on that hand crocheted lace. The only guaranteed way to keep things looking just like new is not to use them at all, so you decide. I've lost the poem, but when I made a quilt for one of my bridesmaid's first babies I included a copy of a poem that started "It's okay if you spit on your quilt." I'm happy that she used it.


     #formulaforhappiness

         As time passes, recommendations for so many things about babies change. Sometimes it can be confusing just trying to keep it all straight. Gerber offers assistance with nutrition, breastfeeding, and now with sleep support with their certified sleep consultants. Click to make a free appointment. I love watching baby kittens. Somehow they seem to have coordinated play time, feeding time, and sleep time. Raising babies isn't quite like raising kittens. Don't be afraid to ask for help!


     #formulaforhappiness

         Even after just a few days, moms can realize how quickly time flies with their babies. My advice to parents of babies is to enjoy not just the firsts and big events but also the everyday moments. Though possibly called dolls because of their beauty, they aren't baby dolls to be set down and forgotten. Interact and enjoy them just for who they are. (embed instagram here?)



         In the midst of lack of sleep it can be hard to recognize the significance that a baby's tiny actions can play in our memories. I remember the peace of watching them not crying but blissfully resting. Enjoy the little things: eye contact followed by a special smile or tiny fingers wrapped around yours. My babies all three had long fingers, and my mom commented on them becoming piano players like her. They all play beautifully now.


     #formulaforhappiness
    Before you know it, babies sit on their own, crawl, walk, and even climb. Those sleepless nights do pass. It doesn't seem that long ago that my teenager was taking her first steps. Make the most of these days.


     #formulaforhappiness

         What will you remember? Share your own #formulaforhappiness with us.
    Jennifer

    This post is sponsored by Gerber® Good Start® Gentle but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    The Best Thing ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 27

    Best thing that has happened this year/

    In high school there was a song that I liked with lyrics about holding on to the best days because they go so fast. Time flies, but instead of grieving for days gone by, I'd rather live each day as if that moment is indeed the best.

    It doesn't take a lot to make me smile. My husband being able to easily repair our air conditioner earlier this summer was a really happy moment that we are continuing to benefit from. The most fun we've had all summer would probably be agreed if put to a vote by our whole family of five: our weekend camping trip. We are still cleaning up the camper, but we are already moving on to more best days. Two days at home at the beginning of this week were fabulous. Then today, we spend almost the whole day away from home and you know what, it had a lot of great moments, too.

    I've shared before my strong conviction of this truth about attitude. Circumstances do happen that can bring us down. Life isn't all rainbows and roses. But I choose to cling to the happy moments in my life and enjoy them while they are happening.

    What makes up some of your happy days this summer? 
    Jennifer




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    26.7.15

    Thankful


    I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name.For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, "I will never be moved."O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, I was dismayed.To You, O Lord, I called, And to the Lord I made supplication:"What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?"Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O Lord, be my helper."You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.Psalm 30:1-12
          

         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 leave a comment to let me know your Pinterest name or email used there. 
    Jennifer

    Scripture and Snapshot



    Scripture & A Snapshot:
        An InLinkz Link-up
       
    July Blogging Challenge Day 26:




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    25.7.15

    If ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 25

    "If I knew then"

    It's almost my birthday which also means reflecting on the past year and previous years as well as thinking about the future.  We are spending this extended weekend camping with friends, and the sounds of my happy family are what makes up some of my best memories. 

    So..."if I knew then" that they would be gone way before I ever wanted to think of that possibility, yes I'd do things differently. I'd ride on Powpow's golf cart with him more, even knowing there was a big chance of us ending up in the pond. I'd dance more often with Granny. I'd look deep in my sisters eyes and just tell her I loved her. Time marches on, and death is unavoidable. 

    If I knew how quickly my children would grow, I'd have tried to freeze time. Impossible. Time marches on.

    More loving words. More loving actions. Everything laced with love, because I do know more clearly now, this life is always changing, and unexpected things happen. 
    Love, 
    Jennifer



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    24.7.15

    Housekeeping ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 24



    My first consistent housekeeping routine as an adult started with Fly Lady. I still make an effort to empty and clean out my kitchen sink at night as it makes such a difference starting off the next morning with that chore complete. 

    Michele's 34 weeks of cleaning motivated me this year and helped me get going with specific steps, though I still haven't completed many of them.

    What are your top housekeeping tips? Link up and share with us.
    Jennifer



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    23.7.15

    Treasure Boxes ~ July Blogging Challenge Day 23

    store artwork in boxes

    Tomorrow's prompt is all about housekeeping, and with that on my mind I'll share one way we store special papers. Starting when the girls were very small, I found some decorative boxes larger than a piece of construction paper. They each have their own box, and now I have started new boxes for the girls as the older ones are filled up. As they make a special cards or earn certificates that don't end up filed elsewhere, they are added to their boxes. When we take the time to look through them, it is like looking at their personal time capsules. 
    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21(NASB)
    Share about your treasures and link up with us. 
    Jennifer


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    22.7.15

    The Virtual Refrigerator

    There is something soothing to me about repetitive coloring. My son and I have been working through the Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages from Home School in the Woods.




    This stained glass art was relaxing to complete.

    Kym recently shared a cool Enchanted Forest coloring book. I've included hers and others on this Pinterest board of coloring pages.

    We have one more week of July so be sure to complete any red or Independence Day projects and link with us. Next month we begin a series featuring different artists.
    Jennifer

    The Virtual Refrigerator:
    An InLinkz Link-up


    Our weekly blog hop is co-hosted by Every Bed of RosesHomeschool Coffee Break, and a Glimpse of our Life. Link up your art tutorials or projects that your children have been working on. Then pin the same to our virtual fridge by joining our group pinterest board, just ask any of us to add you. Join us at the blogs of any of the four bloggers who are hosting the Virtual Refrigerator. Link up, visit others who join us, try something new, then come back and share that, too. We want to see your child's masterpiece on our #VirtualFridge