August 30, 2016

Teach Multi-Age Health and Wellness with WAY Comes Home from HomeSchool Scholastics {Curriculum Review}

I will be the first to admit that we are weak in teaching health/wellness as a subject in our homeschool. We have tried a Kindergarten health program before, but I prefer curriculum where I can teach BOTH of my boys at the same time, but at their own grade level. Imagine my delight when I was told I would get to review the WAY Comes Home Kit from HomeSchool Scholastics, an i4 Learning Company, a health and wellness program that can be used for the whole family! I hoped that it would be easy to implement and truly work for multi-grade levels.
WAY Comes Home Health and Wellness Curriculum Review

About WAY Comes Home

HomeSchool Scholastics, an i4 Learning Company has created the WAY Comes Home program. It's a health and wellness curriculum for homeschoolers, designed by homeschoolers. It's a multi-disciplinary curriculum and hands-on resource for K-5th graders. With a mix of video, workbook, and hands on components, any of your children should be able to participate! The program was also designed so that families could all study together--something hard to find in other programs. And from a Christian perspective about how God designed our minds and bodies to work.

Included in the WAY Comes Home Kit:
WAY Parent Guidebook
My Plate Booklet
3 WAY Journals- K/1, 2/3, and 4/5 
Art Cardstock
WAY Comes Home DVD with video lessons
WAY Comes Home Equipment--everything you need to do the activities from a stethoscope to a balance to foam balls to fingerprint ink and more

The WAY Comes Home Kit provides everything you need to get started teaching health and wellness and retails for $49.95, but is ON SALE NOW for $39.95.
I AM PLEASED TO SAY THAT THE COMPANY HAS DECIDED TO MAKE A SPECIAL OFFER AND KNOCK THE PRICE DOWN EVEN LOWER TO $29.95 WITH FREE SHIPPING!!! I don't know how long this deal will last, but it went into effect 9/8/2016!

I reviewed the WAY Comes Home Kit with my 10 and 6 year old sons.

How Did We Use WAY Comes Home?

August 28, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: From this Moment by Elizabeth Camden {Book Review}

I pink puffy heart books by Elizabeth Camden. She writes the way I would write, if I was an author. Rich with details, history, and relationships. Her books have always offered me a delightful journey into the past and I eagerly await her next release. Earlier this year, I read a prequel novella called Summer of Dreams which was written to set off her latest book From This Moment. It definitely made me eager for more, and I was so happy to have a chance to review Elizabeth Camden's latest novel From This Moment for NetGalley.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links.
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About From This Moment

From This Moment picks up about 4 years after the conclusion of

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield {Children's Book Review}

I don't normally review anything other than books for me, but every now and then I like to dive into the young adult or children's literature to see what titles are being released. I had the chance to review what appeared to be a humorous book for children in Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield through NetGalley.

Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans ~ Book Review
The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans

Take the Roman time period and all that comes with it--especially the gladiators, and throw into it a fast talking zebra who insists he's not a stripey horse, and you have an idea of what Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans is all about. Taken from his waterhole on the African savanna, Julius discovers he's on the way to Rome with Milus the lion and Cornelius the warthog. Discovering he's about to go into the gladiator arena, he learns there is only one way he can earn his freedom. He has to win the approval of the Roman crowds. Can these clueless creatures survive in a world where only the meanest and toughest rule?

My Thoughts on the Book

August 25, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum Planning and FREE Curriculum Planning Worksheet

I have a plan to start back to FULL school and our new official school year in two weeks--the first full week of September. It's been so busy, I haven't even really had a chance to "officially" determine what each boy will be doing. They are still wishful thoughts in my mind. As I was looking at my curriculum filled bookshelf, I wondered if I needed to do up a form that would help me in my planning. Before lessons planning EVER happens. Because I mean...I need to know WHAT I am using before determining how I'm going to use it.
Curriculum Planning Worksheets Printable

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!
There are a lot of free printables and planners to help you with the lesson planning stage of homeschooling--I even created a weekly lesson planning printable recently. What there doesn't seem to be as much of, are documents for curriculum planning. You know...the "Oh I think I want to use Apologia Astronomy, but I might use Science Shepherd instead." And then you go and check out the cost and the best place to get it--but don't have a nice handy form to record all of that. So it gets "filed" in your memory, never to be seen again. Bwahahahaha.

Been there. Done that.

I have a challenge with this and I only have TWO students. I can't being to imagine trying to keep track of what curriculum is going to be for whom with larger families! 

There are planners that include pages for this kind of thing. The Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner and the Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner have them in some form or another. But sometimes you just want a quick sheet to grab and record that stuff on, right? And some planners just don't give you enough room to write your notes!

Fear not! I have designed some simple forms to help us all! I mean, if I use it for me, why shouldn't I share it with everyone?!

August 23, 2016

Circuit Maze~ Electric Current Logic Game from ThinkFun {Timberdoodle Product Review}

My boys have very engineering minded personalities. They love to build and design and are constantly working out new LEGO creations. They recently reviewed a product that gave us a great introduction to electrical circuits, which both of my boys LOVED. When I was offered the chance to review the Circuit Maze by ThinkFun through Timberdoodle Co., I accepted hoping that it would further my boys' interest in how circuits worked.

About Circuit Maze

Circuit Maze is a single player game created by the award winning educational game company ThinkFun. In the game your child can safely explore the world of electrical circuits, through series of circuit building logic puzzles. Your child will get to experience series circuits, parallel circuits, series and parallel circuits in combination, and parallel circuits in bypass--all concepts of simple and advanced circuitry! By mixing how electricity and electrical circuits work with reasoning and logic skills, Circuit Maze really is a delightful first look into electrical engineering.
Designed as a single player game for ages 8+, the Circuit Maze game includes:

August 22, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Goodbye Bride~ A Summer Harbor Novel by Denise Hunter {Book Review}

As you know, I am not a huge fan of contemporary novels. I would rather just hid in historical fiction to get my reading fix. One of the authors that I am willing to make an exception for is Denise Hunter. I just love her style of writing and now seek her novels out. I loved her Summer Harbor series when I was introduced to it in the book Falling Like Snowflakes, and I determined to read all the rest of the novels in the collection. When I had the chance to review yet another Summer Harbor novel The Goodbye Bride for the Fiction Guild, I was eager to get back to Callahan family and hear Zac's story.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!
Zac Callahan was on the verge of marrying the love of his life Lucy Lovett, when she vanishes without a trace just weeks before their wedding. It's been seven months since she left and he's trying to move forward with his life.

Lucy wakes up, after hitting her head on a floor, to find herself in a wedding dress she doesn't know, surrounded by people she's not familiar with, and in a city she has no recollection of ever moving too. All she knows is that she's supposed to be marrying Zac in a couple weeks. So why does she have an apartment in Portland, ME and why is she engaged to marry someone she can't remember?! Where is Zac?

Lucy arrives back in Zac's life, vulnerable, homeless, and as much in love with him as ever. How come she can't remember the last 7 months of her life? What's going on? Is this Zac's second chance to be with the love of his life, or will Lucy's memory return and tear them apart again?

My Thoughts

I really fell in love with the Callahan brothers in Falling Like Snowflakes and was eager to read Zac's story as it sounded like it was a humdinger! I really enjoyed The Goodbye Bride right from the first chapter. I LOVE how Denise Hunter opens the story immediately with Lucy's "awakening", as it sucked me in right away.

I enjoyed "visiting" with the Callahan brothers again and seeing Beau and Eden from the first book again. I think Denise does an excellent job keeping each book separate, but still sharing threads of the story. Going with a family of brothers makes it easy I think! LOL!

I really liked Beau and Eden, but I think I like Lucy and Zac even more! They both were in love with each other so much, but with Denise writing the story so we see Lucy's thoughts and then Zac's thoughts, it allows us to see all the doubts they each had in themselves and each other. I appreciated how Denise kept the secret behind Lucy's memory loss hidden until much much later in the book, to build up the anticipation and speculation.

Another aspect of the book I liked, was the setting up of the third book in the series (Just a Kiss, coming out soon!) with the third brother Riley. I just love it when author's do that (subtlely, not brazenly) because it makes me wait for the next book with baited breath. 

I really really liked this book. The plot sucked me in from the get go and the characters LIVED on the pages. The story was so good and drew me in to the lives of each character. Yes, even needed tissues. I thoroughly recommend the Summer Harbor series to anyone looking for new books to try--and really, just give Denise Hunter a go! You won't be sorry!

The Goodby Bride
by Denise Hunter
ISBN #978-0718023737

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August 19, 2016

Simbrix Expert Kit {A Timberdoodle Product Review}

If you have children or grandchildren, you are probably aware of the latest thing in crafts: fusible beads. These beads are super popular because of the creativity they encourage--BUT many a parent has had to deal with a child's emotional meltdown, when transferring the beads to the ironing board causes the beads to fall out of place, or {horrors} the pegboard holding them in place gets dropped on the floor causing UTTER destruction. Enter Simbrix! These new-to-the-market fusible beads created in Nottingham, Great Britain help eliminate that worry--they INTERLOCK! No pegboard is necessary and the designs can be moved around easily without fear of messing them up. Although I didn't have first hand experience with fusible beads, I have heard and seen all the stories about their cons from my friends, thus I was very interested when I had the chance to review the Simbrix Expert Kit for Timberdoodle with my boys!
Simbrix Expert Set {A Timberdoodle Product Review}

About Simbrix Expert Kit

The Simbrix Expert Kit contains 4,000 interlocking fusible squares which can be put together to create pixelated art. Once in place, the creation can then be ironed, thus fusing the beads together to create a "permanent" version of the design that was created. Because the pieces are interlocking, your child can design, and then take apart their design and try something else. The Simbrix help your child to create 2D images for anything their imagination can design. 
The Simbrix Expert Kit contains 4,000 pieces in 17 different colors, and includes a basic instruction pamphlet that even gives several design ideas to get your child's imagination started! The set is geared for ages 5+, retails for $56.95, and is a component in the Timberdoodle 2016 4th Grade Curriculum Kit.

Our Experience with Simbrix Expert Kit

This was one set that I was very eager to get my hands on. I had a feeling that the design element of it would greatly appeal to my engineering minded boys who have a passion for buildling things. I had never had a chance to explore fusible beads in the past, and honestly stayed clear of them thanks to the horror stories from friends about how careful you had to be with them. I was curious to see how these would work for us.
I was impressed right away with the fabulous drawstring bag that the set came in. How handy for storage! Once I explained how the Simbrix worked to my boys, they eagerly cleared off a table, grabbed two bowls to hold the beads, and helped me dump them out. The beads came in three plastic bags: one for primary color tones, one for more pastel color tones, and a small package with glow-in-the-dark beads. I poured each of the larger bags into a bowl, and kept the glow beads separate. The boys went RIGHT to work seeing how they fit together. 

He loves that he can stand up what he's making without it falling apart

Little Britches made a creature

Yep, even i got involved. I wanted to make a ladybug from the pamphlet

So I did.

Concentrating hard on his creation
I think we must have worked on these Simbrix for at LEAST 45 minutes. Everyone working on their own thing and allowing their imagination take over. My boys really liked that they didn't HAVE to fuse their creation together. They wanted to use the pieces again later, so we just put their creations in a little baggy and poured the rest of the beads into ziplock bags and put them all back into the drawstring bag.
It was interesting that later that evening, when my husband came home, I caught a glimpse of him trying them out himself. He thinks they are pretty cool and easy to work with.
The next time we got the Simbrix out, my oldest decided he wanted to make the minion that was in the ideas pamphlet. Now there aren't any directions, you simply have to count the number of squares for each color and go from there. No problem!
They both decided they DID want me to fuse this one together, so following the included directions I did just that. It works well and I LOVE that the pieces stay locked together for easy transport to my ironing board. No worries that they would all come apart. 
Because these make pixelated designs, just about any pixelated image can be replicated. This is something that really appealed to one of the boys' friend who is really into Minecraft. He could see how easy it would be to replicate things from that game with these pieces.
I think these are GREAT for a child's imagination. I also love that if you wanted to, you could purchase some of the other Simbrix sets besides what Timberdoodle carries (you can find them on Amazon) and they would all still fit together! I think a set like this would be an excellent gift for a family with children and a definite alternative for the much complained about yet still loved popular fusible bead pegboard sets.
I definitely see us continuing to pull these out to play with, and I plan on trying to work them into our homeschool studies this year as well. 

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August 18, 2016

FlipStir Puzzle from Enlivenze LLC {Product Review}

Puzzles. They are so good for the brain, but oy! Keeping up with all the pieces can be a bear! Did you know that there is a puzzle that is all enclosed and 3D? I was tickled to have a chance to review the Tyrannosaurus Rex FlipStir Puzzle from Enlivenze LLC with my family.

About FlipStir Puzzles

Enlivenze LLC likes to bring the smart together with the play through products that engage the brain while having fun. They think that even simple hand held games can be fun and inspiring. Enter the FlipStir Puzzle!

The FlipStir Puzzles are a unique self contained 3D style puzzle. How does it work? You will use the wand included inside the puzzle to make it all happen! Start by giving a shake to the puzzle to scramble the pieces; then using the enclosed wand, gravity and your own creativity, solve the puzzle and reveal the picture of the puzzle. FlipStir puzzles are geared for ages 7+.

There are five designs and two levels of puzzles ($24.95 ea):

Level 1
Rainbow Pencils
Tyrannosaurus Rex

Level 2
Solar System
Statue of Liberty
Periodic Table

We were given the Tyrannosaurus Rex FlipStir puzzle to review with our family.

Our Thoughts

When it came, I admit that it looked pretty easy. I figured at a level 1, you could just quickly pull it together, so I let Little Britches give it a try without me doing it first.
Just 10 pieces in this puzzle. Piece of cake, right?

Little Britches giving it a go
And that's when he figured out that while it looked like it should be easy...It was rather tricky! Here is a video I took of Little Britches trying to figure out how it goes...

He tried for about 10 minutes and then not getting past 3 pieces frustrated him and he gave up. I decided to give it a go. After a few minutes, I figured out the trick and after 10 minutes I had it put together.

Once you figure out the trick (mine was that you don't need to start it at the bottom) you will find that you put it together more quickly the next time you do it. Now I can get it together in about 5 minutes or less.

I think that it's a very clever idea and I love the fact that the pieces are all enclosed. The puzzle though simple in design was much trickier than initially expected, however, I think that with a little perseverance, Little Britches will be able to achieve success. The one thing that he mentioned as being a con--the pieces don't "stick" together once you match them up. He'd like it if they had a little tongue and groove like edge to stick them together. He got very frustrated when he'd have 3 pieces together and then tilt the container a fraction and have them all far apart again.

The only con that I really have myself is the price. It's a very very clever idea and would make great gifts...if the price point was lower. If possible, I would love to see this puzzle closer to the $10 range at some point. I PERSONALLY wouldn't pay more than $10 for this product.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed the Tyrannosaurus Rex FlipStir Puzzle from Enlivenze LLC with our family. We enjoyed the challenge of the Level 1 puzzle, but what did the rest of the team think about their puzzles?
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
Stay up to date on the latest puzzles and activities from Enlivenze LLC by following them on these social media sites:

FlipStir Puzzle


Enlivenze LLC


This was a really a unique and fun puzzle to try out. I think I'd like to have some of the other ones to give a go. They would be great for road trips and really just make you think outside of the box to put them together. 
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The joy of the LORD...and an Egg {Free Copywork Printable}

It's amazing where the simple joys can come from. Here on the farm, we have a LOT of joys around us. We find joy in the smell of a summer storm. We find joy in the sight of the puppies tumbling over each other on their short legs. We find joy in the smell of fresh cut alfalfa hay. We find joy in the wobbling newborn calf. We find joy in the trickle of a stream that was dry before the storm. We find joy in the sound of the whirling wings of the hummingbirds at our feeder. Out here, there is joy to be found everywhere you look. 

The chicken coop...
We find joy in our very first egg!
We didn't know it was there, until I went to make sure the coop was still watertight after our 2" of rain. I opened the roost door to make sure the sawdust was still dry and as I was closing the door, this beautiful brown oval orb caught my eye in the nesting box. What a smile it brought to the boys as well as myself. 

In that moment, joy was in the egg as we marveled at God's creation of the chicken!

And so, since I was messing around with new fonts and new border doodles, I decided to throw together a simple copywork for you. 
Nehemiah 8:10 Copywork Printable

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

~Nehemiah 8:10
Make sure you go and grab your zip file. I included three versions of the copywork. Two for cursive (with primary lines and with regular lines) and one for print (with primary lines). I hope you will enjoy using these and look for more being created over the coming months as I play around with new designs!

There is joy to be found anywhere you look in the world. When you look for it, your sorrows begin to fade away. So look for the joy in your world. It is there if you will just really open your eyes to see. Even if it's just a simple brown egg.
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August 16, 2016

Learning Beginning Spanish with Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids {Curriculum Review}

One of the things I enjoy most about homeschooling, is exploring foreign languages with different programs. We have been blessed to have a chance to try out several different language programs and we recently were given the Starter Set 1 from Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids to learn Spanish and review. With it's more laid back style and immersion videos, I wondered how my boys would enjoy using it and if they'd pick up more or less words with this program.
Beginning Spanish from Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids: A review

Product Information

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids was created to give parents and kids a fun and easy way to learn a new language. Unlike some programs, this curriculum uses immersion so that your children can see the language used in every day kids eating breakfast! The lessons are practical and the vocabulary include things used in every day scenarios. All this combines to allow for children (age 3+) and adults learn the language quickly!

The Beginner Spanish Set (Starter Set 1) $140.25 includes:
*a 20 week curriculum guide
*DVD 1 of first three videos (Level 1-3)
*3 workbooks that go along with each video
*Sticker set for Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast
*Flashcard set, including graphics and Spanish vocabulary for each word learned in the first three lessons.
*FOR A LIMITED TIME: fun card game extension Go Squish!

We received this Starter Set 1 to be reviewed with my boys ages 10 and 6.

How Did We Use Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids?

The program arrived and I was happy to see that there were teacher guides for each of the workbooks. I flipped through the teachers guide to get a feel for how it worked. Once I saw it was very easy to understand, I called the boys in, explained how the program worked, and we started watching the first video. We followed the lesson guides for awhile, but then because of our abbreviated summer schedule and my desire to really make sure they were "getting it", we just started going our own speed. We didn't do the full lessons noted for each day and I would spread lessons out over a couple days if I felt it would help. There are 11 lessons total in the first guide--plus some extended learning activities.

One of the favorite activities was the labelling with stickers using our new vocabulary.

As of today we are gearing up for more of the second video, but we have the first video almost totally memorized and the boys can use the words correctly in sentences. They are doing better and better with their flashcards when we review them. I plan on playing Go Squish! later this week to see how we do.

Watching DVD

Working on a crossword

labeling new vocabulary items

this made me smile--someone doesn't like dishes
we were labeled too! :)

What Are Our Thoughts About Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids?

It is fun and "mi gusta" the videos. The boys in it are funny. Our favorite one is Basketballs aren't for Breakfast! It helps that they have shirts to help us remember the new words we are learning.

This is a very very kid friendly curriculum. I never had any issues getting them to do the program when it was time. They fell in love with Andy, Eli and Parker right from the beginning, laughing at their antics. They quickly picked up some words and by the time we got to the date of this review, they can say every word with at least the first video, and can use the words correctly for "real".

We didn't get super far in this Starter Set 1, because we are on an abbreviated summer schedule and I really wanted them to soak in the words with plenty of time watching the video. What we have done has been highly successfull and enjoyable. The guide for Teachers and Parents that goes with the student manuals are very easy to follow and clear to understand. I really appreciated that the guide included a time frame for how long the lesson might take. The lessons included a nice mix of workbook and activities ("naranja, naranja, manzana!" was a favorite) to help get a good understanding of the language and people.
sample pages from the first workbook
The only thing that was a bit weird was how the workbook wasn't really done in order. I think I would prefer if it was done in order so I could easily flip through to see how much we have left to finish. The other thing about the workbook was the glossy paper it was printed on. The booklet was beautiful and colorful which was great--BUT the kids couldn't write on it very well unless using a permanent marker. I would prefer it to be on paper that is at least like the type the teacher guide was printed on.

Will we continue to use this product?
Yes! I have plans to continue to move forward using the Starter Set 1 to see all that it has to offer. 

Would We Recommend Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids?

Yes! It's presented in an immersion way which is very easy to understand. My boys never complained when it was time to watch the videos and enjoyed being able to follow along with the storyline by the 3rd time we watched it. They use the words they've learned much more frequently than they did when we studied it with other programs. It is simple to use and perfect for multi-age learning. 

This is not an "aggressive" program, If you are looking for a more workbook/text style with lots of recitation and "predictable" use of vocabulary, this isn't it.

Want To Know More?

We reviewed the Spanish program Starter Set 1 from Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids over the last few weeks. You have seen what we think about this fun program--but how did other families in our review team use this product?
Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review
I encourage you to follow Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids on Facebook to stay up to date on what they have coming out!

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