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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Rainbow Bow Graduation Cake

I actually made a cake just like this last year for graduation only it was yellow and blue for the local high school colors. This year I had a local girl who was graduating from her homeschool that wanted it in rainbow colors. 

 This is what she had to say about her cake. It is so encouraging to receive thank you notes especially from the young people who are the recipients. 

"I wanted to thank you for making my graduation cake. I absolutely loved it! The frosting was perfect, the cake was perfect, and the design was perfect! You are extremely talented."

Friday, May 30, 2014

What on Earth Can I Do? Review #hsreviews

Apologia Review
As soon as my kids learn to read I have them start reading a bible on their own. I know at first they didn't really get anything out of it or really understand what they were reading, but I wanted to create in them the habit of their own personal devotional time each day. My adult daughter recently told me that her reading comprehension is so much better than her peers & she thinks it is because she read her bible every day. Not only should our kids obtain bible knowledge, but they also must know what to do with it. The last couple of years I have been using the What We Believe series from Apologia Educational Ministries with my girls, and we recently started volume 4 What on Earth CAN I DO?.
Apologia Review
What on Earth CAN I Do? was written by John Hay and David Webb. It is the fourth volume of the What We Believe series. This curriculum is designed to help children see the world around them through God's Word. It is recommended for children ages 6-14, but it is actually a family study that talks about truths of the Christian faith. The curriculum includes the What on Earth CAN I DO? textbook, What on Earth CAN I DO? Notebooking Journal, What on Earth CAN I DO? Junior Notebooking Journal, and the What on Earth CAN I DO? Coloring Book.

  • What on Earth CAN I DO? textbook~ This 240 page hardback book is available for $39.00. There are 8 lessons that contain several sections each. Each lesson opens with an introduction to the main topic and a overview of what was previously taught. There are short stories featuring kids and offering a glimpse into other world views. There are vocabulary words, memory verses, recipes, and thought provoking questions. Godly character traits that relate to the lesson are introduced and the lesson ends with a parable of Jesus. 
  • What on Earth CAN I DO? Notebooking Journal~ This 236 spiral bound notebook is $24.00. It includes lesson plans, blank note-taking pages, questions to answer, puzzles, mini books, and additional resource list for each lesson. It is recommended for students ages 10-14.
  • What on Earth CAN I DO? Junior Notebooking Journal ~ This 184 page spiral bound notebook is recommended for children ages 6-9 and is available for $24.00. This notebook is set up the same way as the regular journal but the lessons are at a lower level, it includes drawing pages, and coloring pages.
  • What on Earth CAN I DO? Coloring Book ~ This 64 page softcover coloring book is available for $8.00. It includes pictures that go along with the lessons & some of them are included in the Junior Notebooking Journal. 

 I used this curriculum with all three of my daughters ages 9, 12, & 13. Even though the text is written directly to the student I read it out loud to my girls and then we took turns reading the bible selections provided. We answered the questions together to get all three of the girls included in the discussion. I had Delaney use the Notebooking Journal, Alaina used the Junior Notebooking Journal, and I had Amber write in a regular notebook.

In this book we learn who is in charge of our lives and what we are trusted with in this life. We are introduced to people throughout the world who have done extreme things good or bad. We read about Adolf Hitler and move forward in history from there. We read about Charlie Chaplin, Dietrick Bonhoeffer, the Iron Horse, and more.

There is a story that is told throughout the book with children from England during WWII as the main characters. It is a continuous story throughout the book and we get a glimpse of the war from their lives. This book actually came to us at a perfect time. We had been studying about WWII and we just finished reading the Diary of Anne Frank. My girls were very intrigued with this story and actually wanted to skip ahead to read further ahead in it.

The people we have been reading about and the story that is continued throughout the book really helped my girls get the big idea of each lesson. The text tells the student things they can do now and things they can accomplish later in life, and that stewardship starts with the little things.

We have really enjoyed working through this book & Alaina loves her Junior Notebooking Journal. I think the questions and puzzles are a little to easy for her, but she loves to color and draw. The mini books were also a huge hit with her.  She actually learns better by doing something, so the cutting and gluing helps her focus on the information taught. The puzzles and questions in Delaney's book are harder and bigger than in the junior notebook. Both of my girls like their journal's and take pride in completing their work. I had Amber write in a notebook about what we just learned along with her vocabulary words, and memory verses. Even though she is older and she thought she was too big for her own journal she really missed having the colorful journal and having puzzles that she could use. They have been sharing the coloring book, but for the price I should have ordered two more. They would take turns each day coloring a picture in the book as I read the text.

The What We Believe series does a really good job at teaching a Christian worldview. It starts by teaching us about God, then we take a look at ourselves, next we learn about our neighbors, and lastly we see what we can do here on this earth. We are finished with the first 3 books, and we are continuing this volume now.

  • Volume 1 Who Is God?
  • Volume 2 Who Am I?
  • Volume 3 Who is my Neighbor?
  • Volume 4 What on Earth CAN I DO?

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fire Truck, Ambulance, & Airplane Cakes

Cakes for this week.
I needed two cakes for a local EMT celebration. They wanted an ambulance & a firetruck. I forgot to take a picture before I put the cakes in their box, so I got a glare from the top of the box. 

 This birthday cake was for a customer's husband who is a mechanic at the local airport. She wanted the cute little planes from the Disney movie Planes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trident Case for iPad Mini Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

Trident Case Review
We have several electronic devices in our house. We have an original Kindle, an older Kindle Fire, an iPhone, I have my own iPad mini, and my girls have an iPad mini to share. I have a love/hate relationship with these devices. I love that we can take them any where and read a book, play a game, listen to music, take pics and videos. The thing I hate is I always worry about my girls carrying them around outside, or taking them along to piano lessons or soccer practice. I'm always afraid they will drop them! We recently received a KRAKEN A.M.S. Case For Apple iPad Mini 1/2 from Trident Case and now I feel so much better with the girls using their iPad mini for everything. 
Trident Case offers a variety of cases for several different smart phones and tablets. This company started in CA in 2010 by offering 2 series of protective cases for mobile devices. They set out to create the toughest cases available and they now have 6 different series with over 550 SKUs available across the globe. 
Trident products are produced in the USA using bio-enhanced plastic that is eco-friendly. All cases are available in at least 5 different color combinations, and some of the cases from Trident meet certain military standards to protect mobile devices from vibration, dust, sand, rain, and drop. 

We received the KRAKEN A.M.S. CASE FOR APPLE IPAD MINI 1/2 IN GREEN, and it is available in six different colors for $59.95. It meets or exceeds the military standards, it can be dropped on concrete 26 times from 4 feet (Amber wants this testing job), protects against vibration, rain/wind, and it has a built-in screen protector. It is made of hardened polycarbonate exterior with silicone interior and can be used with tablet attachments. It is recommended for all ages including little kids & accident prone adults.
When we first received our TRIDENT case I had intended to use it with my iPad mini because I use it a lot in the kitchen. I have my favorite recipes stored there, so it is on the counter often. The girls had piano lessons and they always take their mini, so I put it on their iPad and I have never gotten it back. 
I am a hands on person, so I just wanted to put the mini in the case & I didn't have any problems. There is a little booklet included in our case that contains instructions on how to install the device. If you still don't understand what you need to do there is a QR code that will take you to video instructions. 
Our case has a hard exoskeleton on the front and back with a silicone cover in between. The screen protector is attached to the front exoskeleton and there is a silicone tab that covers the charging port and head phone jack. The back exoskeleton has an attachment port where accessories can be attached. This case is rain proof, but it is not water proof. The home button on our mini is not covered, so there is not a complete seal. 
My girls love their case and I feel so much better with them having it on their mini. We only had a cheap little cover on their iPad before, so this is a big improvement to the quality of case. The hard plastic really helps my kids (especially my youngest) to have a better grip, it is not as slick as the iPad is itself. The screen protector sit snugly on the screen and we haven't had any trouble with the touch on the screen.  
Alaina wanted to make suckers & usually I make the girls write down the recipes they find or print them out, but this time I let her use the iPad mini with her new cover. The protective case was very easy to wipe clean once she was finished. 

100 members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew received mobile device cases from TRIDENT. You can read reviews of other cases for different devices to see how well they worked as well. 

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Micro Business For Teens Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

Micro Business for Teens Review
I am on my third teenager and one thing I have noticed as soon as my kids hit their teens, they start thinking about how they can make some money. Amber is 13 and she already has one piano student, so when we were offered Micro Business For Teens to review I knew I wanted her to go through it. We received Starting a Micro Business book, Running a Micro Business book, and Micro Business for Teens Workbook

Micro Business for Teens is a program that uses real life stories and worksheets to help teenagers start and run a micro business, it is recommended for children ages 10-18. A micro business is a very small business, smaller than a small business. It is a business that is easy to start up, needs very little or no money up front, they are usually home-based, and only has one worker, the owner. 
Carol Topp is a CPA and she decided to write Micro Business For Teens after she had parents of teens come to her for advice to help their teens with their money making projects. She shares teen success stories throughout her books. 

Starting a Micro Business is a 112 page softcover book available for $9.95 or the ebook is $4.95. There are seven chapters that will help your teen find a micro business to start, write a business plan, how much to charge, and recognize problems that may come up. 

Running a Micro Business is a 137 page softcover book divided into nine chapters, and is available for $9.95 or the ebook is $4.95. In this book Carol teaches micro business owners how to run their business. They learn about advertising, record keeping, how to keep customers happy, how to manage their time, and more. 

The Micro Business for Teens Workbook is a 100 page softcover workbook available for $14.95 or the ebook is $9.95. There are fourteen chapters that should be completed after reading the corresponding chapter in the Starting & Running books. It is recommended that the teen complete one chapter per week taking 14 weeks to complete the program. The worksheets include questions, brainstorming, charts, plans, bookkeeping, designing business cards & fliers, creating a website, licensing and more. 

This program encourages teens to think about the skills they have and how that can be used as a micro business to make money. It shows them what they need to do from the very beginning planning stages to actually running the business. 

We received the books to review and I gave them to Amber (age 13) and she read through them herself. After each chapter we would discuss what was taught and I would help her when she needed me to. She already had one piano student when she started reading the books, so we had already discussed a lot of what is covered in the first book. She had already looked at her talents and how she could use them to make money. Amber did learn about creating a business plan, financial planning, and projected sales. Since she has younger sisters we are still involved in activities with kids, so she already had some ideas of how to reach potential customers. She actually finished the Starting a Micro Business and started Running a Micro Business. So far in this book she has learned about customer service and what records she needs to keep. 

Amber is very musical and her piano teacher had been telling her for months that she needed to get some piano students. She has taught her younger sisters how to play the ukulele, so she already knew what her job would be like. After working through Micro Business for Teens she has realized that she can be making more at home with her micro business than she would be able to make working for minimum wage downtown when she turns 16. She enjoyed designing business cards in her workbook and she is trying to decide which one she would like to have printed for herself. This program has been very encouraging to her because it has shown her where her business can be in the next few years and beyond. She has already lined up 2 more piano students and she would like to get a few more. 
Every day after Amber read her chapter she had things she wanted to share with everyone. She really enjoyed the stories that Carol relates in the books & they are making an impact on her. One story was about a teenage bagger that complained about customers who could not speak English. Amber couldn't believe that someone could be so disrespectful at their job.

Even if your teen isn't seriously thinking about starting a micro business this course would still be good for them to complete. It can help them to realize the talents they have and what their potential with those are. Carol teaches young people things that can even carry over into any work place regardless of the teens position. The success stories she shares are also very encouraging. She gives us examples of teens who have taken their business far beyond anything I could have imagined. 
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Kids in the Kitchen

My girls love to be in the kitchen. They are always wanting to bake something yummy! Alaina has been on the chocolate chip muffin kick lately and she has made them 3 times in the past week.
Alaina is 9 and she just now decided she is big enough to put the muffin tin in the oven. 

 She says the best thing about making the muffins yourself is because she gets to eat the first one.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Golden Prairie Press Schoolhouse Crew Review #hsreviews

Golden Prairie Press Review
We have been studying American History for school this year. History is our favorite subject and Mike even joins us when he is home. When we were offered Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum from Golden Prairie Press we were thrilled to add this to our studies. 
Golden Prairie Press Review
Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is a complete history program written by Amy Puetz. It contains 6 downloadable components for grades 1-6 and is available for $98.99 
Golden Prairie Press Review
We received all six components that make up Heroes & Heroines. There are 3 ebooks, and 3 audio downloads. 
  • Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1 ebook (1000-1837)~ This 388 page ebook is for the first half of the school year and covers the Period of Discovery, The Period of Colonization, The Revolution, The Formation of the Union, and the Period of National Development. There are 15 sections with 5 lessons per section. Each lesson is divided into two sections. The first section is for 1st & 2nd grades and the second section is for 3rd-6th grades. The first section uses a larger font and just gives a brief overview of the topic. The second section gives more details for older students. There are recommended literature books for older students to read, activities such as crafts, cooking, games, music, and art along with additional resources at the end of each unit. Questions are included to check retention, some lessons contain writing assignments or maps & geography lessons.
  • Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2 ebook (1837-present)~ Part 2 is the second half of the program and it is set up the same way as Part 1. It starts where Part 1 left off with The Periods of National Development, The Civil War, The Period of National Expansion, and The United States, A World Power. The appendix includes The Constitution, and Presidents of the United States.
  • Additional Materials CD ~ This download contains printables for the games, time lines, maps, songs, and more that go along with the lessons. 
  • Historical Skits ~ This 50 page ebook contains 19 skits about people or events in history. 
  • Sing Some History CD ~ 20 songs from history are included in this download. Songs like Yankee Doodle, Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, Sweet Betsy from Pike, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and more. 
  • Listen to Some U.S. History MP3 CD ~ There are 20 MP3 files that cover main events throughout history. They include speeches, poems, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and more.   

When we received Heroes & Heroines we were starting World War II, so we skipped on ahead and started Section 28 of Part 2. That put us starting with Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt. Lesson 2 brought us into WWII and we went through the rest of the book ending with the Administrations of Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. I keep all three of my girls in the same time period of history to make it easier on me. I did the same with this program, and used it with Amber (age 13), Delaney (age 12), and Alaina (age 9). 

I read the main text from lesson out loud to the girls and then we would answer the questions orally. This way we could have more discussion about the topics. We would listen to our suggested recordings or songs together, and for the writing assignments I would require more from Amber & Delaney than from Alaina. When we were shown artwork we discussed those questions and answers together too. They each created their own timeline, each using a different form. Included in the extras there are four variations of the WWII Timeline. One is completely filled in, the next one is missing the dates, the third was missing the event, and the fourth was completely blank. I had Alaina just add the date, Delaney used the one missing the event, and Amber filled in the blank one. I printed off all 7 maps that go with WWII and left them laying around, so the girls could look at them while we were reading the lessons, or at random times throughout the day. 
My girls favorite part are probably the skits that are included. They love to act them out or use their puppets to give a show. They have been going through the ebook from the beginning because they have been having a lot of fun with them. They really like the writing style of Amy Puetz. The lessons read like a story and that makes it very easy for the girls to remember events & details.

This program is very easy to use. After reading each lesson the  questions, activities, geography, maps, time lines, etc are included at the end of the lesson. If you need to listen to an audio we are given the link in the book when it should be listened too. There are also memory verses included and it is recommended that you keep track of these on index cards. 

We have been enjoying this program so much that my girls have went back and read some of the lessons for fun because they read like a story and they really like them. 
Golden Prairie Press Review
When I was in school I hated history. I hated reading the dry, boring textbooks and I didn't care about memorizing dates, places, and names. I was very ignorant about history & geography until we started homeschooling. One of the main reasons my girls and I enjoy history so much now is because I make it memorable. That is why Heroes & Heroines of American History is such a good fit for my family.
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Friday, May 9, 2014

Maestro Classics Review #hsreviews

Maestro Classics Review
Music is a big part of our household. My girls play several instruments and they like to listen to music and audio cds while we they are doing their chores or in the car while running errands. The last couple of months we have been listening to Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel and The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Maestro Classics
Maestro Classics is classical music performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra mixed with a story. Bonnie & Stephen Simon are musicians and they wanted to help parents and children better understand and enjoy symphonic music at home, so they started Maestro Classics.  
Maestro Classics Review\
Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel uses the this story of friendship and puts it together with the orchestra and bagpipes. It is recommended for the entire family including children as young as 4 years old. It is available on CD for $16.98 or as an MP3 download $9.98.

We received the CD for this story and there are 7 sections lasting 51:14 minutes & a 24 page activity booklet. 
  1. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel ~ The story of Mike Mulligan is told as we hear classic music and bagpipes to make the story come alive.
  2. About the Author~ Here we are told about Virginia Lee Burton who is the author of Mike Mulligan. We learn some history about it and the reason Steven Simon wrote the music for this story is because he loved the story as a child and continued to read it to his children.
  3. Mike Mulligan Song 
  4. About the Music ~ Steven Simon is the composer & conductor of this music and we get to hear him tell us a little bit about writing music for a book and instruments he included. We hear individual instruments and Simon explains about musical quotations. We also learned that he used other equipment to create sound effects in his music.
  5. Now That You Know a Little More~ We hear the story to listen for the different instruments.
  6. Want to Have Some Fun? Prepare to Perform~ Kids get to sing along with the song. We are told what page in the booklet contains the words to the song when we should start singing. 
  7. Mike Mulligan Song-Sing Along~ We sing along with the song.
The 24 page booklet is small enough to fit inside the CD case and is full of information and activities. There is information about the Conductor/Composer, the characters, narrator, and bagpipes. There is a musical code, crossword puzzles, dot-to-dot, word find, and the words and music for the Mike Mulligan Song are also included.  

Maestro Classics Review
We also received The Sorcerer's Apprentice CD. This story is recommended for children ages 6-up. The CD with booklet is available for $16.98 or the MP3 download for $9.98. There are 7 titles lasting 41:25 minutes.   
  1. The Sorcerer's Apprentice~ This story is told with classical music intermingled. 
  2. About the Story ~We get to hear some interesting facts about the story & how it became known as one of the best pieces of classical music. We get to hear some history about this story and how it became a Disney favorite.
  3. March of the Brooms~We hear just this musical piece. 
  4. About the Music ~ Steven Simon is the conductor of this CD and he tells us about the composer, Paul Dukas, and his music. 
  5. The Sorcerer's Apprentice ~ Here we get to hear the original version.
  6. Prepare to Perform ~ We are given instructions on playing pots & pans along with the March of Brooms. 
  7. Play-Along for Kitchen Percussion ~ Here is where we get to play along. 
In this 24 page booklet we learn about the history of the original story, the instruments in an orchestra, different types of mallets, and about the Drum & Bugle Corps.  Information about the conductor/arranger, producer, and narrator along with puzzles and the music for the March of Brooms and the rhythm used for the kitchen percussion.

We received our new CD the day before we left on a trip, so the first time we listened to the stories was as a family in the car. They really make the time go by faster while we were driving because they kept everyone occupied. It wasn't long and the girls were continually singing the Mike Mulligan Song. 

The music that is included is very simple. All three of my girls could play them on the piano, but they have taken piano lessons for several years. They all agree that their favorite story is Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel, but they thought the history behind The Sorcerer's Apprentice was very interesting. They like to listen to the music and pick out the different instruments they hear. 

We also own The Story of Swan Lake and Peter and the Wolf. The younger girls enjoy these CDs for the enjoyment of the songs and stories. Amber (age 13) and I enjoy them for the quality music and the educational content. Amber loves music and she really enjoys learning about composers. After listening to these CDs she likes to look up more information about the story, songs, and composers.

There are currently 11 titles available from Maestro Classics and they make a great addition to any home whether you use them for educational purposes or for just shear enjoyment. The Review Crew received several different selections and you can read those on the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog. 
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