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Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Pies

I cannot believe November is already over. Where has this year gone? We had a great Thanksgiving Day with a little shopping afterwards. It seems like we eat the about the same foods every year, but we are never sure about what kind of pies to make. Most of the time I try to please who is going to be here. This year our guests favorites are cherry, pumpkin, and pecan so we settled on making those three. That gave each of my girls a pie to be in charge of. I make the pie crust and rolled it out for them, but they were in charge of the rest.

Amber wanted to make the pecan pie. That is about the only kind of pie she will eat.

Delaney really wanted apple pie, but Morgan will be coming up in a couple of weeks and she loves apple pie too, so we decided to save that pie for when she comes home. Delaney decided she would take care of the pumpkin pie & she went online to find a different recipe than the one we normally use. It was wonderful!!

My dad's favorite pie is cherry, so Alaina decided she would be in charge of that pie. We cheated a little this year & bought the pie filling, so her pie was pretty easy. She wanted to get a little creative, so she spelled the word cherry in pie dough for the top of her cherries.

The First Christmas Night Review & Giveaway

We all have traditions for the holiday season. Some are past down from generation to generation and others are just beginning. One of our favorite traditions just kinda happened, we read Christmas stories. Most of them are picture books that other wise would never get read after all the kids advance in their reading level. We love the simplicity of the stories and the illustrations are some of the best we have seen. My girls get really excited about this tradition and some years we wrap them up, so we don't know what book is chosen. The First Christmas Night is our newest book that will fit right in with our collection.

The First Christmas Night retells the birth of baby Jesus in a poem Keith Christopher. It is recommended for children ages 4-8, but all of my girls enjoyed reading it & we will read it every year in the month of December. The simple poem on each page will appeal to even the youngest of kids, and they will love the beautiful illustrations of Christine Kornacki. The poem begins with the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and we see the angels appear to the shepherds, the visit of the Wise Men, and Jesus' birth.

At the end of the book the Biblical Story of the First Christmas from the books of Luke and Matthew.

About the Author
Keith Christopher is a composer, arranger, orchestrator, and educator, and he has served as editor and producer for several major music publishers. In addition to writing and studio producing, Keith served on the faculty at the Blair School of Music of Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee, with his wife and two children.

About the Illustrator 
At a very early age, Christine Kornacki developed a love for painting and bringing stories to life. After receiving a BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, her dreams of illustrating children's books began to take shape, including illustrating the best-selling The Sparkle Box for Ideal's Children's Books. Christine's recent work also includes illustrating the six-book series for the American Girl historical doll characters Marie-Grace and Cecile.  She spends her days painting in her studio, which adjoins a charming cafe in New Haven, Connecticut.


I have another copy of The First Christmas Night to giveaway!! Enter the Rafflecopter below.
Disclosure of Material Connection: i received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFG, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

Every year our local newspaper holds a recipe contest. My girls always want to participate and I have entered a few years. This year we all four entered a recipe. Alaina entered Jello Popcicles, Delaney entered Ooey Gooey Pretzels, Amber entered Soft Gingerbread Cookies, and I entered Stromboli.

Amber and I were both chosen for the final round. We made our recipe and we took it to be judged among other contestants. We were thrilled with our results. Amber received second place in the kids division and I received first place in the adult main dish category.

The recipe for my Stromboli is already on my blog, so I'll share Amber's recipe for Soft Gingerbread Cookies here.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vinegar
2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk

Beat shortening with electric mixer. Add sugar, baking powder, soda & spices until combined. Beat in molasses, egg and vinegar until combined. Add in as much flour as you can with your mixer combing the rest with your hands.

Chill dough until easy to handle (a couple of hours).

On lightly floured surface roll dough about 1/8" thick. Cut using your favorite gingerbread man cookie cutter. Bake on greased cookie sheet or baking stone for 5-6 minutes.

Cool cookies completely before decorating.

Combine powdered sugar and vanilla and enough milk to reach desired consistency & decorate.

Friday, November 22, 2013

1 Girl Nation CD Review & Giveaway

My girls are always singing! I can usually tell when they start working on their math, because they will break out in a song. Last week Delaney was beat boxing and Amber was rapping. I guess this is good for their creativity and they are usually refreshed when they finally get back to the books. Their newest song they have been singing is Count Your Rainbows by 1 Girl Nation.

The last couple of weeks all we have been listening to 1 Girl Nation. Their music is very upbeat pop style with a good message to girls about living for God. The five girls in 1GN (1 Girl Nation) are very passionate about telling others of Christ through their music.

  1. While We're Young
  2. Vertical
  3. Live For You
  4. In The Eyes
  5. Count Your Rainbows
  6. Love Like Crazy
  7. Turn Around
  8. Invade
  9. Daddy's Girl
  10. 1 Girl Nation

My girls have been listening to this CD in the car, and in the house. We all like the upbeat style and Amber thinks there should be more songs like Count Your Rainbows on the CD. Delaney said her favorite song is Live For You.


I have another copy of The First Christmas Night to giveaway!! Enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure of Material Connection: i received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFG, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Sparkle Box Review & Giveaway

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the traditions that I have made with my kids over the years. After reading The Sparkle Box I think we will start a new tradition that doesn't have to be only this time of year.

The Sparkle Box is a beautifully illustrated children's picture book that teaches a big lesson. When Sam and his mom are getting gifts ready for Christmas he notices a little silver box and is very curious to know what is inside. As the family goes through the weeks before Christmas both his mother & father keep telling him that it isn't ready yet. Sam didn't realize that his kind actions were what was being placed in the silver sparkle box. An excited Sam gets to open the sparkle box on Christmas morning to discover the gift inside was actually the kind things he had done to help others out and was like giving a gift to Jesus. Your very own sparkle box is included with the book.

Taking time out of our busy schedules to help others is very important. I like the idea of writing down the things that we do show children that even little things add up and make a difference for any time of the year. My youngest daughter was very excited that the book even came with its very own sparkle box.

The Sparkle Box was written by Jill Hardie and illustrated by Christine Kornacki. Jill is hoping her book will spark a new tradition in more families that read her book. Commercialism isn't as important in her family after they open Jesus' gift.

Author Bio
Author Jill Hardie and her family began placing a gift for Jesus under their Christmas tree as a way of bringing more meaning to the holiday.  The first time they opened His gift, the commercialism of the season melted away and they felt a profound joy and peace.  Jill hopes that The Sparkle Box will spark a new Christmas tradition, bringing light into thousands of lives.  

Illustrator Bio
At a very early age, Christine Kornacki developed a love for painting and bringing stories to life.  After receiving a BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, her dreams of illustrating children's books began to take shape.  She spends her days painting in her studio, which adjoins a charming cafe in New Haven, Connecticut.


I have another copy of The Sparkle Box to giveaway!! Enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: i received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFG, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Christmas Comes To America Review

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the traditions we have made as a family, and this year we added a Once-A-Week Unit Study from A Homeschool Legacy titled Christmas Comes to America to our school.

Homeschool Legacy offers a variety of Once-a-Week Unit Studies that incorporate different subjects on one topic. They are biblically centered, flexible, and easy. They are so easy that there is no prep work, everything is laid out for you. The books & DVDs that are used for the week are listed on one sheet of paper and it even includes the Dewey decimal numbers. It can't get much easier than that. Each unit can help a Boy Scout or an American Heritage Girl earn a merit badge while studying with the rest of the family.

Christmas Comes To America is a 44 page study available for $17.95. Children of all ages can participate, but it actually became a family study at our house. This study should last 4 weeks, so you still have plenty of time to finish it before Christmas gets here. The recommended schedule has you taking one day a week to work on the unit study devotionals, activities, and read alouds. The rest of the week you still use your regular curriculum but adding in extra unit study reading recommendations, field trips, or family movie/game recommendations.

The four week topics:

  • Week 1 The Dutch~ This week focuses on the legend of Santa Claus and the history of the real St. Nicholas. We learned of the Dutch tradition of First Christmas and Second Christmas Day, and that they patented the cocoa process. Cocoa mix and homemade mashmallow recipes are included to make as gifts. Vrolijk Kerstfeest!
  • Week 2 The English ~ We learned of Christmas caroling & Christmas card traditions while planning a caroling party & making cards for friends.  Merry Christmas!
  • Week 3 The Germans ~ We learned about Kris Kringle and where the Christmas Tree came from, and the origin of gingerbread houses. Froeliche Weihnachten!
  • Week 4 An American Christmas~  We learned of Americas only true Christmas tradition. Do you know what it is? Merry Christmas!
Each chapter starts out with a list of library and video choices that you can use for the week. Homeschool Legacy has thought of everything here, they included the book title, author, and call number for each selection. Next we have a list of supplies that we will need for the week. The daily activities include Family Devotionals, History, Geography, Science, Language, Traditions, Cultures, Life Skills, Gift Giving, Arts & Crafts, Music, Research & Field Trip ideas, and a suggested Movie. Some of the activities include trivia games, recipes, crafts, and more. There are so many suggested books & activities that you won't be able to use them all.
Delaney's Gingerbread House

I love the way the Once-A-Week studies are arranged. The complete book and video list at the front of the study make it easy to make a trip to the library. My girls really love the variety of activities that are included especially this time of the year. It's nice to have that break from their regular studies and gave us extra time to focus on others. 
Last year we got some kids together to decorate sugar cookies to deliver while we were caroling. This year we are already planning on using some suggestions from Christmas Comes To America for our before Caroling party.

This is our second Once-A-Week Unit Study from Homeschool Legacy and they have been the easiest unit study to use. Other than a trip to the library we had everything else we needed for the recipes & crafts. 

Disclaimer: I received Christmas Comes to America Unit Study free of charge to use with my children. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own. 

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Last week when Morgan was here I wanted to make sure she ate something before she left, but she wanted to get out of here pretty early. She thought apple muffins sounded good, so we looked for a new recipe to try. We thought we would try these Easy Apple Cinnamon Muffins from All Recipes.

I followed the recipe exactly the way it was written even though there were some negative comments, and they were perfect!! It was a good thing I doubled the recipe because everyone LOVED them.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

The final review for the 2013 Schoolhouse Review Crew is a book titled Nothing That Eats from the series At Home In Dogwood Mudhole. This book appealed to me because we have often thought about having a hobby farm, but it just never seemed to be the right time.
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At Home In Dogwood Mudhole is a series of 3 books, from author Franklin Sanders, it is about his family going from city life to farm life when they move to Dogwood Mudhole, TN. The books are actually stories that first appeared in Sander's Moneychanger newsletter starting in June 1995 and continuing for 17 years.

This book is titled Nothing That Eats because Franklin's wife Susan made it very clear that she would move to the middle of nowhere, but she wanted nothing that eats. She was talking about animals, but the Sanders and their 7 children start out with dogs and move on from there. The farm continues to grow when the kids get married and move their own families back home. This 379 page book is chocked full of everyday happenings. We get a glimpse of dog training and how they decide how much money to spend on vet bills for their dog to pigs jumping rope, and what happens when you have 7 kids, you might just leave one behind at the gas station. The Sanders are a big part of Civil War Reenactments and have a deep passion for history.

Franklin truly enjoys spending time with his family. He says, "Time robs us too quickly of those tender years when wife and children need our presence and love."

I read this book outloud to my family including my husband. We started out reading it straight through, but we decided we enjoyed it better if we read one chapter a day. Since it was originally written for a newsletter the chapters don't really flow as a whole book, but they are wonderful when read one at a time. We don't live in a big city, and we visit our friends ranch from time to time, but it was great to see some of the happenings on a self sufficient homestead that you would normally not see or hear about.

I think their Money Back Guarantee is a good description of the book:
If you don't laugh, cry, gasp, hug your spouse or jump up and down, we'll refund your money and you can keep the book to use as a door stop.

We received the paperback edition of Nothing That Eats and it is available for $22.95 or the Kindle/ePub/PDF is available for $16.95. Volume Two: Best Thing We Ever Did is also available for the same price. The chapter Pig Persuader from Nothing That Eats and the chapter Home Alone Milking from Best Thing We Ever Did can be read free.

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Sail over to the Crew Blog to read what the rest of the Crew thought about At Home In Dogwood Mudhole. 
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Monday, November 11, 2013

French Essential Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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This fall we went on vacation to the Grand Canyon. We were there when most America children are normally in school, so the majority of the people we came in contact with were foreigners. Amber was very intrigued with all the different languages we heard and we had fun guessing where each one was from. Amber decided then that she would like to learn at least some words of as many different languages as she can, so when we were offered French Essentials to review she was very excited. 

French Essentials is a complete French curriculum designed especially for home learners. It was designed by French teachers and does not require any previous knowledge of French. Individual Modules may be purchased for $69.95 and will give you 90 days of online access. The French Essentials Full Access Program may be purchased for $149.95 with a full year access. 

The French Essentials program includes:
  • Downloadable lessons & printable workbook pages plus all parent documents. 
  • Online exercises & activities
  • Online lesson tests
  • Savais-tu? (topics on French culture)

French Essentials Full Access Program is recommended for students in grades 3-12. Anyone wanting to learn French could benefit from using this program, but the worksheets probably wouldn't work with anyone younger than 3rd grade.  The program contains 10 modules (6-10 are not available yet) that would equal 2 years of High School French classes. Younger children will work at a much slower pace and could use one module a year or a high school student could finish in a much shorter time. French Essentials uses reading, writing, listening with comprehension, and speaking in their curriculum. An outline for each module is available, and a free trial lesson. In order to use the program correctly you will need Acrobat Reader, Flash Player, and Quicktime. 

After we received access to French Essentials I visited the Download area to obtain our lessons & workbook pages. I printed the worksheets out and made copies for each kid. The lessons are in a different file that is also downloaded and uses Adobe Reader. Throughout the lessons there are video & audio files to be used. The link for these files are included on the lesson page. If you see a box with an owl inside you will listen to the each word and then repeat it, if there is a microphone in the box you will hear a question in French and you are to answer it in French, and the box with the TV you will just listen. When the audio/video box is clicked it will appear in the top right hand corner of the Adobe Reader page that is open. A clipboard with a pencil indicates that you should complete a worksheet.  

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The student has access to their own area that make it easy to use.

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It is easy to access the online exercises and tests by Module. It was easier for us to download one Module at a time. Actually I downloaded all the worksheets and Amber went in and dowloaded the Modules. 
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We had to log into French Essentials to access the Culture section. Here we found maps, videos, historical information, and more.

Amber (age 12) and Delaney (age 11) used this curriculum. I originally wanted to learn some French right along with them, but on the second lesson they didn't want to wait for me to finish making lunch, so they went on without me. From then on they used the program entirely on their own. They could find their lesson and follow it very easily. The pictures that indicate when to use the audio and when to complete the worksheet made using this program so easy. The first three lessons are pretty simple and contain no online lesson. My girls went through these pretty fast and they are almost finished with Module 1. There is a placement test that you can have your student use if they already know some French. 

Module 1 is divided into 5 units with 18 lessons and my girls just finished lesson 14. They started out learning the alphabet with audio files spelling words to them in French and they had to write the correct letter to see what the word was. They also worked on some silent letters, greetings, common phrases, activities, numbers, and more. My girls are already using their new words around the house and they have been counting in French during PE.

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Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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We have been having fun in the kitchen a lot more lately & it hasn't been to make food. We have been doing science experiments from Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics.

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is Jeannie Fulbright's newest book in the Young Explorer Series from Apologia Educational Ministries. This K-6 grade homeschool science curriculum uses the Charlotte Mason method to give students an introduction to chemistry and physics. To enhance our science experience we used the Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics Notebooking Journal and the Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics Junior Notebooking Journal.

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Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is a 280 page text book and can be purchased for $39.00. It is divided into 14 chapters and covers matter, building blocks of creation, chemistry, motion, sound, light, energy, magnetism, and simple machines. The introduction includes a step-by-step guide on how to use the book and suggests that each lesson lasts 2 weeks.  Each lesson is written directly to the student and is full of experiments for young scientist. At the end of each chapter there are 3 sections: Final Matters, What Do You Remember?, and Notebooking Activities. There are also more experiments at the end of each chapter. In the back of the book you will find an answer key, index, and a supply list for all the experiments divided up by lesson.

A password to the course website is also included in the book. The website includes resources that are listed in the text, but also contains additional links as well. There are links for the entire book and links listed for each chapter. Some of the resources are procedures, videos, interactive games, biographies, and more. There are cautions listed for videos that may present links to inappropriate videos.

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Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal is a 206 page spiral bound notebook and can be purchased for $24.00. This notebook allows older elementary students to complete all the assignments from the book in one place plus providing more activities. Directions for the activities and a daily schedule are included to make school planning easy. There are pages to write & draw fascinating facts, journaling pages, copywork, crossword puzzles, project pages, end of chapter questions, mini flap books, and more. The only additional supplies needed for the notebook are scissors, glue, colored pencils, a stapler, and brads.

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Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal is a 237 spiral bound notebook available for $24.00. The junior notebook is recommended for younger elementary and is set up like the regular journal except there is no end of lesson questions to answer, the puzzles are easier and coloring pages are included.

I have been using this homeschool science resource with all three of my girls ages 8, 11, & 12. I read the lesson out loud to all three of them and they would take notes on their Fascinating Facts pages. Throughout the lessons there are places to stop and have the student explain what they learned in their own words. I would have Alaina (age 8) tell me what she knew first, then Delaney (age 11) would go next, and Amber (age 12) would go last including things that her sisters forgot and then we worked on the experiments together. Then they would each finish up the activities in their notebooking journals.

Throughout the text everyday items are used to illustrate the information taught. Things are explained in a way that so they are easy to understand and remember from the very first chapter. Mass, matter, density, and volume aren't easy to remember, but even Alaina can remember what each one is because she can remember the items that were used to explain them. Amber is above the recommended grade level, but she has been giving more details in her notebooking journal & has learned a lot. I think the older elementary journal is perfect for Delaney and the Junior notebook is perfect for Alaina. The only complaint from the older girls is that they would like to have the coloring pages included in their notebook.

This experiment is my girls favorite so far. They were getting a little bored while they were waiting for something to happen.

We have used several science books from the Young Explorer Series and this one is our new favorite. Sail over to the Crew Blog to read what other members thought of it.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

IXL Schoolhouse Review

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You may have heard of IXL, they have been around for awhile providing online math drills for PreK-12 grade. You may not know that they now have language arts practice for grade 2-4. We received one year access to IXL Language Arts for Alaina to use.
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IXL Language Arts offers 82 skills for 2nd grade, 106 skills for 3rd grade, and 111 skills for 4th grade. You can get one year access to IXL Language Arts or Math for $79.00. You may also purchase them both together for $129.00 per year. Each additional child is $2.00 per month or $20.00 per year. A monthly subscription may be purchased for $9.95 for either Math or Language Arts or $15.95 for both.

When you first sign in, IXL will give you the choice to choose a student or the parent. You both have the same login information but separate areas within the program.

In the Parent section you can manage your account, profile, and settings. You will also be able to view your state language arts standards for all three grades. You may also check on your students progress. There are graphs that show how long your child has been practicing, how many they have attempted, and the number correct. You can also see how much your child has mastered & what needs improvement. In the Parent Account you can also complete all the problems that the student has access to.

When the student logs in to practice they can choose the grade level they would like to work in. Then they can choose the topic that they need to practice on. You do not have to complete the skills in order they are listed, and you can move back and forth between grade levels. Once a topic is chosen the student is given a question to answer. If the question is answered correctly then they move on to the next question. If they answer it incorrectly they will be able to see the correct answer and an explanation of the topic they are working on.

Fourth Grade skills selection.

Sample Question

Display when a question is answered incorrectly.

Alaina is almost 9 and started out working on some 3rd grade skills. She found that they were pretty easy for her, so she moved up to the 4th grade section. She didn't have any trouble logging into her account and she could tell which section she had completed because it shows her score next to the completed section.

Alaina has a love/hate relationship with IXL. She doesn't mind working on her problems, but sometimes she doesn't pay attention to the instructions. When she was working on sentence fragments she automatically assumed that she would click on the fragment each time, so when the directions changed and asked her to click on the complete sentence she would miss the problem. She didn't miss it because she didn't know the answer she would miss it because she didn't follow the directions. From a parent/teacher standpoint I think it is teaching her to be more careful in her work. I think there are plenty of practice exercises in IXL for any student & this has been a great supplement that Alaina can use completely on her own.
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We only used the language arts, but IXL Math has practice problems for grades PreK-12. It is divided into grade level from PreK-8 grade & then there is Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry practice levels.

More advanced levels of Math Skill practice and Language Arts practice are on the way & you can sign up to receive an email if you want to know when a new level is available.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Gratitude Challenge

Although I am thankful for so much throughout the year November is the month that seems to get more focus on those people and things in my life. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner we all have so many things to be thankful for. This year for the month of November I was planning on joining the 2013 Gratitude Challenge over at Quiet Pandemonium. Well it is already the 6th and this is first day I have joined in. Better late than never.

Technology is a wonderful thing and today I am so grateful for my iPhone. We only have one smart phone, and when I picked it out I wanted an iPhone. At the time, it didn’t really matter what I chose, but now that Michael is in Afghanistan I love having Apple products. A lot of times Michael talks to me on Facebook messenger, but most of the time he texts me using iMessage on his iPad.

I am chatting with him right now & I know I would be very worried about him if I had to wait for letters in the mail. If I didn’t have my iPhone I would never want to leave the house & I would have to leave Facebook open all the time.

Freedom is a wonderful thing & I am very thankful for everyone who serves in the military to protect our freedoms. I feel for all those moms who had to worry about their children off fighting in a foreign country before we had our modern technology.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Away We Go Schoolhouse Review

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We have a wall map of the World and the United States hanging in our family room. My girls made paper dolls of themselves, their older brother & sister, and a friend that is in Australia for 6 months. They like to move the paper dolls around the world wherever their brother, sister, & friend are living at the moment. They also like to pretend that they are from other countries and will each choose a country and move their paper doll there. When the Schoolhouse Review Crew were offered books from Away We Go Media they were thrilled.

The If You Were Me and Lived in... series is a child's introduction to cultures around the world. We received four books recommended for children PreK to age 8 from children's book author Carole P. Roman:

Each book has children telling the story about their country. We are shown on the globe where each country is and we are introduced to some names that you could have if you were from there. We are told what we would call our parents, places we could visit, what sports you might like, and where you would go to get your education. Pronunciations to the foreign words are included in the back of the book. 

All three of my girls ages 8, 11 & 12 enjoyed reading the books, they liked that they were shown some of the culture from a child's perspective and the people names from that country. The reading level was pretty easy even for Alaina (almost 9), but she can read very well. Alaina has used the books the most and she even moved her paper doll to each country as we read the books. 
I think these books are a great introduction to other cultures and can encourage children to want to learn more about their favorite country. They would make a great addition to country studies, but we read them all at once. Delaney (age 11) loves that they included names from each country and Alaina (age 8) likes the South Korea book the best. 
Alaina said the South Korea book is her favorite because their food looks so good & the children are buying stuffed animals with their won.
If You Were Me and Lived In....South Korea, France, Mexico, and Norway may be purchased for under $9.00 a piece. They are available in 8 1/2 X 8 1/2 paperback book or Kindle edition. You can sail over to the Crew Blog to read more book reviews. 

Carole P. Roman has a love of exploration and has finished 6 stories in her If You Were Me and Lived in series. She started writing after a dare from her son. That first book was about a character from an imaginary game she played with her grandson, and she wrote four more books about Captain No Beard. Carole still works in her family business, but writing for children has opened up a second act for her.

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