Thursday, June 20, 2013

FREE Little House on the Prairie Lapbooks

We haven't read any of the Little House on the Prairie books yet.  They are on our to read list...there are so many on the list!  Marine Corp Nomads has free...FREE, People!...lapbooks that go with each book.

Go grab them!  :-)

TOS Review - Baker Publishing Group

I love all things Amish.
I think I've read every fiction book series based on the Amish lifestyle that's out there!  (Well, maybe not every's quite a popular subject in the Christian Fiction genre, but I've read many of them.)  I was pleased as punch when we were asked to review two children's books from The Adventures of Lily Lapp series (for ages 8-12) from the Baker Publishing Group :  

These are the first two books in The Adventures of Lily Lapp series that follow the life of six year old Lily and the changes and challenges that come to all of us:  new siblings, new teachers, moving to a new state and home, and new friends.  Two more books in the series will be released soon: A Big Year for Lily (July 2013) and A Surprise for Lily (September 2013).
The authors both have backgrounds within the Amish community.  Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish (she no longer lives the strict Amish lifestyle) and Lily's stories are based on her life.  Suzanne Woods Fisher's grandfather was raised Plain and had a huge influence on her life.

My musings:

 My hope for this review was that Julianna would be able to read these books along with me since they are recommended for ages 8-12.  While the chapters are fairly short, the font is a smaller typeset than the books she is currently reading, so it made them much more intimidating and difficult for her.  After a few frustrating attempts, we went to using it as a bedtime read aloud and then she lost interest completely, so I finished them.  :-)  
I liked the books well enough...I'm far from the recommended age range, so maybe I my expectations were a little higher than they should have been.  My two main issues with the books are first, the smaller font that was used (It does have short chapters, but with the smaller font it actually means more words in each chapter - clear as mud?  ;-) Of course, I don't know what the recommended word count is for the 3rd-6th grade level.  It's probably completely appropriate.  I'm looking at it from the younger 8 year old level.) and second, the chapters are written more like independent mini-tales than a cohesive story.  I asked Julianna why she wasn't interested in the stories.  She couldn't give a specific answer other than "I just didn't like them."  I thought she would have been nutso over them since they were about a little girl her age, but they just didn't click with her.  (I think she wanted some more illustrations, as well.) I guess we've never read anything about the Amish lifestyle.  I probably should have directed her thinking towards more of the similarities of she and the character when we started to read them.  They have far more in common than she realizes!  Regardless, I'm hoping that she will enjoy this series in the future.  We're planning a weekend trip to Lancaster, PA soon, so maybe she'll be more interested after that.  I am going to share them with the 11year old daughter of a friend of mine.  It'll be interesting to see what her thoughts are. (Duh!  Should have done that before the review. Lol)

The Adventures of Lily Lapp books are available in printed and ebook formats through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and  You can also buy them directly through the Baker Publishing Group.  The book's website has a lot of fun information:  games, recipes, information about the books/authors and much more.  You can even read excerpts from the first two books.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Famous Face Biography Project - Helen Keller

Julianna learned about Helen Keller at a class in the Fall and has been obsessed, I mean, interested in learning more about her life ever since.  (Julianna has always been one to go all in when it comes to something she is interested in.  I hope she doesn't lose that passion...I only wish she was interested in reading and such!  When she was young, you would even have to call her by whichever character name she "was" at the time.)
We have read books, done many (many) reenactments of Helen's life events and watched movies and documentaries about her life.  We have also learned about Braille and have even gotten a couple books written in Braille from the library.   We tried to write her name, but because she tends to be very literal, we couldn't make the raised dots, so it didn't interest her.  I found this idea on Pinterest about Famous Faces Biography Projects and thought it would be a perfect thing to do at the end of our school year.  
Julianna made a poster with details of Helen's life and then did an oral presentation.  She did so good!  I filmed it, but for some reason YouTube won't upload it.  I'll try again.  It's a must see!
Until then, here are some pictures.

Here is the poster.  You are supposed to cut head/arms out for the student and then they give the presentation as the person.  I didn't measure well for the arms and we had to make adjustments.  :-)

"Helen Keller  Born in 1880, Death 1968"

"The College Years"

In this picture, Helen is knocking off the lamp and her nanny is running to stop her.

"This was how Helen learned how to communicate." (Helen and Anne Sullivan)

I'm not exactly sure how the carriage fits into the story.  Maybe it was bringing Annie Sullivan from the train.  Lol

I loved this project.  It combined her artistic abilities with the learning process.  We will definitely revisit this project in the future.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

TOS Review - Birdcage Press

Since we've gotten our dog, I've spent quite a lot of time in our backyard during his potty training.  I don't think I really paid much attention to what birds were singing before then.  After my many (many, many) trips outside, I can now pick out the songs of Cardinals, Robins, Crows and Blackbirds (Which, by the way, has one of the strangest calls out there.)  

Seeing that I am now becoming one with my neighborhood birds, I was excited to get to review Wild Cards:  Backyard Birds (Age 6+, $10.95) by Birdcage Press.

Dr. Wenda O'Reilly starting making games using art, combined with familiar card games, for her children when they were little.   The company began publishing these games in 2000 and now they offer the products which still include art, but also have expanded to history, wildlife and nature, and air and space.  The Birdcage Press team consists of five women who all use their unique skills to help create their educational products, which include games and books.

My Musings: 
The Wild Card: Backyard Birds set includes 36 cards printed on a glossy cardstock and a fact book.  Each card has a full color picture and fun fact about the bird it represents.  Each bird in the set is divided into one of six categories:  Tricksters, Songbirds, Woodpeckers, Hummers, Waterbirds and Little Chirpers.  This distinction is color coordinated on both the cards and throughout the fact book.  The fact book includes information about habitat, food, nesting and behavior.  It also gives a map of where the birds are located in North America and clues to look for to identify the birds.  

We loved this game!  We have played it over and over... and over and over again.  Primarily, we played it as Memory and "Go Fish" (or "Go Bird" as Julianna re-named it).  The only thing negative I can say is about the size of the cards.  Since they are a little larger than a standard deck of cards (and they are very slick), they are kind of difficult to shuffle.  Julianna couldn't do it at all.  

I was highly impressed with the quality of this card game.  I have no reservations recommending it to you, friends,  and would not hesitate purchasing more of their products in the future.  Speaking of which, you can buy their books and games on the Birdcage Press website. They are also sold at museums throughout the world, as well as, select book, gift and toy stores.  


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

TOS Review - Christianity Cove

I homeschool a 2nd (just promoted to 3rd) grader, teach the 3rd/4th grade girls class in Sunday School and help facilitate a children's life group with kids Pre-K through 4th grade.  That's a lot of hats to wear, so I'm always looking for new ideas to use.  I was excited for the opportunity to review two products from Christianity Cove:

Christianity Cove is an online resource loaded with Bible ideas and activities to use in a Sunday School class or Children's Church.  While there are many freebies available, they also offer a wide selection of downloadable products ranging from Sunday School Lessons, Bible Crafts, Bible Snacks to Vacation Bible School and Bullying.  

My musings:
My intentions were to use the products with all three of the groups of kids that I work with...I got 2/3 done.  My SS class is larger (and we're currently in a high school cafeteria until our new church building is completed), so while I am quite accomplished at adapting materials to overcome these circumstances, sometimes the environment we're in wins.  That said, I am looking at the Super Bible Games and Bible Memory Games for next Fall.  We work on memory verses every week and I need some new games!
The layout of the two e-books I received is the same:  description of the lesson, scripture reference, materials needed, instructions, "script" for the teaching part, explanation and the Biblical connection.
Outstanding Object Lessons has 28 activities that use everyday objects (spoon, flashlight, blankets, etc.)  The lessons are very short, but may require some preparation...just so you can make sure you have the materials ready and available.   Bible Science Experiments has 25 lessons broken down into five areas: light, color, motion, magnetism and gravity.
One of the experiments we did (read: the only one I thought to take a picture of - duh!) was Experiment #21: Gravity Doesn't Care About Weight.  In a nutshell, the lesson taught Galileo's Equivalence Principle (gravity pulls all items toward the center of the Earth with equal force - 32 ft per second), so weight doesn't effect a freefalling object.  The scripture correlation is Galatians 3:28 - "There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.  for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  It was a fun lesson.  You use a raw potato and a pencil and drop them from the same height at the same time.  Of course, Julianna predicted that the potato would hit the ground first (which I would have too if I hadn't read the lesson ahead of time) - since it was heavier.  We were both pleased with the way the lesson went.

Getting ready for the countdown to drop!

Which will it be? (You can see the pencil blurred to the right of the potato.)

It's a tie!

Christianity Cove is a great resource when you work children in any capacity - in your home or at your church.  Check out their website to see all the products they have available.


Friday, June 7, 2013

We don't need no education!

Woohoo!  It's the end of the school year for us.  Not sure what we'll get into this summer (other than going on vacation the beginning of August).  We are working on our "Summer Fun List" poster, so I'll post about it soon...if we get it done.

We did a 10 day countdown with special activities in each balloon (no English today, no piano practice today, go to Rita's after school, etc.)

By day 8 even the balloons were D.O.N.E with this year.  Lol

Our last day

The top of her mortarboard.  Lol

Principal Dad helping pin her cap on.  I think this is foreshadowing for her High School graduation.  :-(

Her promotion certificate and a Math Whiz award (she scored a 97% overall in Math this year!)

I hope everyone has had a blessed school year.  Enjoy your summer!  
(It won't be long until the Back to School sales begin.)