Saturday, February 13, 2016

O is for Oreo Opinion Organizer: Persuasive Writing

Oreos can make pervasive writing more fun! I came across a graphic organizer titled "OREO" when researching ways to teach facts and opinions. I ended up getting way off track but in the end found a brand new-to-me teaching idea. I decided to try this method with Alyssa (Age 8). It was something different from our regular routine which provided a little more variety to our homeschool day.

Prior to using the Oreo Opinion Organizer we watched an OREO powerpoint to introduce the method and brainstormed persuasive (opinion) writing ideas. She chose one topic for today's paper.   

O - Opinion (Clearly Stated)
R - Reasons for your Opinion (Valid)
E - Examples that Support Your Opinion (Relevant)
O - Opinion Restated

I added in a little incentive. I told her she could earn an Oreo cookie for each valid reason in her paper that had relevant examples. Single, double, or triple stuffed Oreos indicate how many reasons with examples your child will add to the paper. She wrote a double stuffed persuasive paper on how cats are better pets than dogs. Her final draft was written the next day. We'll discuss opening, closing, and transitional sentences a different day. The lesson was a huge success!

You can find many free graphic organizers if you do a quick Google search. Here are just a few I found available at Teachers Pay Teachers. Sign up for a free account to access the materials while they are still available for free. These links will get you started.
Here are final draft Oreo Opinion Writing papers.
A simple presentation about the method can be seen below. We'll definitely use this method again! 

Friday, February 5, 2016

N is for Notes: Baby Shower Birthday Notes

Several of you know that I am decluttering my garage after my most recent move. I was going through some VERY old items when I came across a miniature treasure chest filled with birthday cards to Alyssa. In that box were special birthday NOTES.

I received a baby shower when I was pregnant with my one and only daughter, Alyssa. An activity at the party was to make birthday notes or cards for Alyssa. She had a new card to open with a note to read starting with her first birthday until her 15th birthday.

This was such a sweet activity! If you are planning a baby shower for a friend or family member, I suggest adding this fun activity. Alyssa and I recently read them together because they were lost in storage for so many years. She doesn't want to get rid of them, because she really liked reading the notes from everyone. We also have a special note from her great grandmother who is no longer with us.

 I will link this post up at Through the Calm and Through the Storm's Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky. All posts are themed around Letter N. I will also link up at Life at Rossmont's Wordless Wednesday Linky. Thank you for visiting!
Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Saturday, January 30, 2016

B&H Bloggers Review: The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional by Sheila Walsh

The Bible is My Best Friend Family Devotional: 52 Devotions for Families written by Sheila Walsh arrived in the mail a couple months ago for me to review as part of the B&H Publishing Bloggers Review Team. I was thrilled when it arrived! I've been waiting to focus more on scripture memorization and looking for ways to serve and glorify God with my daughter. This book was going to help. 

Product Description (Description Taken From Website)
Gather the family and spend some time with your best friend—the Bible! From best-selling author Sheila Walsh, the Bible Is My Best Friend Family Devotional connects families both to God’s Word and to each other. Fifty-two key scriptures form the basis for the devotions, which build on the verses, challenge the family to commit them to memory, and explore how each verse is part of God’s wonderful message. “Let’s Talk” questions urge the family to discuss what they’ve learned and offer challenges for different ages of children as well as their parents.

This unique family devotional touches both the mind and the heart. Minds will grow as the text builds on past weeks by reviewing memory work and themes. But most importantly, hearts will grow as families learn together to value the gifts found in the Bible and realize how God’s Word can be their greatest friend.

Special Features
  • Memory Verse - Memorize Weekly Referenced Scripture Related to the Devotion
  • Let's Talk - Discussion Questions To Ask Each Other
  • Family Fun - Crafts, Games, and Interactive Fun
  • Weekly Challenge - Serve and Glorify God Together with Service Learning Projects and Activities
  • Back to the Bible - Devotional Connects to Bible Story
  • Checkpoint - Track Your Progress By Checking Off Completed Activities

How We Used It
We used this brightly colored book as a family devotional on a weekly basis usually early in the morning or before bed. My daughter and I would sit on the couch with our Bibles and this devotional. We took turns reading the different sections. Alyssa was eager to dig deeper into God's Word. This special time really brought us closer together. 

We started memorizing the verses on Mondays. The verses were added to our scripture memorization system. We saved the weekly Family Challenges for Sundays if possible. I would often look ahead to see if the challenges would take more than a day so that we could actively work together throughout the week to accomplish our goals. The Family Fun activities usually took place on Fridays. 

My Thoughts
The recently released family devotional contains 52 weekly devotions enveloped inside a hardcover format. The author, Sheila Walsh is a passionate Christian writer with a desire to teach children about God's Word. This 224-page well organized and structured devotional will help you and your family connect with God at a deeper level. It has a ribbon bookmark to help keep your place during your study. The illustrations are colorful with cartoonish characters. 

The book begins with a two-page table of contents. A parent connection can be found at the back of the book reminding you that the Bible won't change but that your family will. It encourages you to revisit the same activities down the road enabling you to learn even more about each family member. Questions for you to ponder are given at the end to discuss with your family. They help you figure out what your family liked best about the devotional and its activities. For example, the book asks you, "Which memory verse was your favorite and why?" I skimmed ahead and found Luke 1:37 "For nothing will be impossible with God." That is by far one of my favorite verses, because the message is so profound. Trust God and everything becomes possible. He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. This devotional provides you with examples seen in the Bible. This verse gives me strength when I feel like I am facing impossible obstacles. When I pray this verse, I see that He is always there guiding me along the way and helping me accomplish the plans He desires for me. A memory verse index and the "Look For It' answers are also provided at the back of this devotional. 

There's a spiritual message reminding you to turn to your Bible for all answers and to keep God's Word close to your heart, because it is your best lifelong friend. You can learn about God's plan to save you and can seek answers to life's difficult questions in your Bible. If you use the Bible to guide your actions and words then you will be glorifying God.  

The exceptional devotional was small enough for my daughter to handle on her own. The font size was a reasonable size and was larger than other devotionals I've utilized. The weekly devotions are more manageable for our family than daily devotional readings. However, you can easily break up the weekly devotion into daily sections if desired. The routined organization and layout of this devotional makes it easy-to-use in a family or group setting. 

My daughter loved the challenge of learning a new Memory Verse each week. We would play games to help us both learn and memorize them. There were a variety of Family Fun activities included in this devotional such as games, crafts, scavenger hunts, and other fun hands-on activities. They were categorized by activity types such as Look For It, Crafty Creations, Birdbrain Ideas, Act It Out, etc. These activities address a wide range of learning modalities and styles. The Let's Talk thought-provoking questions led to heart-warming, tender conversations which enabled us to share our feelings and develop a deeper mother-daughter bond. My favorite part of this devotional were the Family Challenges. I especially enjoyed the one featured on page 33. We listed five ways to help someone in need and acted on several of them. We created homeless bags and donated clothes to Salvation Army. Children can relate to the topics making the activities more meaningful and applicable to life. We look forward to spending this special time together growing in God every single day.

B and H Publishing $14.99
Christian Book $11.99
Amazon $11.22
Family Christian $14.99

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice. 

I highly recommend this age-appropriate book for children ages 4-10. Christian families wanting to add devotional time to their week will appreciate and love the contents of this devotional. This would make a great Easter basket gift too. You can teach Biblical truths using God's Word in a simple manner to younger children. It won't overwhelm them and can be completed in a short amount of time.

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the B&H Publishing Group Book Review Program in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, January 25, 2016

M is for Menu Plan Monday: Dinner Plans

This week on Blogging Through the Alphabet we are focusing on Letter M posts. I really need to get things back in order so I've decided to start meal planning again to help save money and time.

This week I'd like to share my Menu Plan Monday dinner plans. I like having a list when grocery shopping, because it keeps me focused and I'm less likely to splurge when I have one.

Menu Plan Monday for January 25th-30th

Sunday - Southwestern Chicken Fajita Bean Soup

Monday - Crispy Beef and Cheese Tacos and Italian Salad Kit

Tuesday - Crispy Beef and Cheese Tacos and Italian Salad Kit

Wednesday - Italian Sausage with Spinach Cheese Ravioli + Spinach Salad

Thursday -  Italian Sausage with Spinach Cheese Ravioli + Spinach Salad

Friday - Baked Chicken Breast, Au Gratin Potatoes, and Rosemary Asparagus

Saturday -  Chicken Breast, Au Gratin Potatoes, and Rosemary Asparagus

Sorry I don't have any interesting photos or website links this week. I am keeping things simple and quick. 

I will link this post up at Through the Calm and Through the Storm's Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky and Menu Plan Monday Linky at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Hoping I will have some time to check out new recipes before my next grocery store visit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

L is for La Luna (Moon): Oreo Cookie Moon Phase Activity

Alyssa has been learning about the moon phases. We were at the table brainstorming Blogging Through the Alphabet blog posts when I remembered that moon in Spanish was la luna.

Today I will share with you a fun hands-on activity I did with my 8-year-old daughter to help her understand the moon phases better. She cut or gently scraped off the white frosting. We used only four Oreo cookies. She started with the full/new moon. She carefully split each one in half by twisting them. She organized them on a paper plate. The activity was super easy to complete and definitely solidified learning.
I think she liked the activity!
But I know she enjoyed eating the cookies more ;)
There are so many wonderful free printables about the moon phases. I recommend using ones that match the diagram of the moon cycle phase. Google Oreo Cookie Moon Phases to explore your options!

I also played Mr. Lee's Phases of the moon Rap as she worked. She enjoyed singing along and used it to review the phases after the activity concluded.  She pointed to each moon phase as she sang.

I will link this post up at Life at Rossmont's Wordless Wednesday Linky and Through the Calm Through the Storm's Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky. The focus for Week 12 will be on "Letter L" posts.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

BookLook Blogger Review: Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs

The most recent book we reviewed as part of the BookLook Blogger Review Team was titled, The Parable Treasury written by Liz Curtis Higgs. The book was published by Tommy Nelson. 

About the Author
Liz Curtis Higgs is the award-winning speaker who wrote twenty-eight books, including Bad Girls of the Bible and Thorn in My Heart. Her parable series for children has been awarded the ECPA Gold Medallion for Excellence.

Book Description (Taken from the Website)
With more than 1.1 million units sold in the Parable Series, Liz Curtis Higgs has given parents and kids alike beloved parables they can read throughout the year. This adorable compilation, Parable Treasury, allows families to get all their favorite stories in one value-packed book. For nearly twenty years, Liz Curtis Higgs has made the holidays a little brighter throughout the year with her bestselling Parable Series. In a lovely hardcover format, the Gold Medallion–winning books from the Parable Series will include:
  • The Pumpkin Patch Parable, which focuses on the harvest season and shows that we can let God’s love shine through us.
  • The Pine Tree Parable, a heartwarming tale of the farmer and his family, who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.
  • The Parable of the Lily, which helps children understand the power of grace and forgiveness and the true meaning of Easter.
  • The Sunflower Parable, which helps children discover the value of planting seeds, not only in the ground but also in the hearts of those around us.
My Thoughts and Review
The Parable Treasury written by Liz Curtis Higgs is a children's book which compiles four fantastic full-length stories into one collection using a parable format. It is suitable for children between the ages of 4-8. The hardcover padded book contains 117-pages. Each story sets during a particular season or holiday. The high-quality beautiful illustrations are vibrantly colorful. These adorable illustrations will easily appeal to children and adults alike.

The "Table of Contents" at the beginning of the treasury lists the title of and page number for each story. A "Letter to Parents" follows. Each story begins with a page dedicated to the title of the story being told. The author chose an easy to read format which utilizes a larger print throughout the stories and an italicized font for referenced Scriptures noted at the bottom of each page in oval shaped boxes.

Liz Curtis Higgs integrated and weaved related Biblical Scripture into the story which clarified meaning and added to the story plot helping children make deeper connections to the story. The spiritual, thoughtful messages will guide children to discover valuable moral lessons and virtues based on God's Word. The author prayed over and carefully selected each verse. I love that she shared the stories with her family first and then made them available to the world.

We immediately started reading the Pine Tree Parable which quickly became a family favorite in our home. It teaches children to give and serve others which glorifies God. This was the first time we read this story and it had such huge impact on my daughter. She decided that she wanted to give something special to someone in need. We also discussed each story and its important messages as we read it aloud. The heartfelt stories captured her attention so much so that she insisted on reading the entire treasury in one sitting. The stories are not too long or too short.

My daughter and I enjoyed reading every single parable in this treasury. The book contains truthful messages based on Scripture with eye-catching illustrations you are sure to love. We will definitely read the Pine Tree Parable every Christmas to remind ourselves the importance of giving selflessly. I can't wait to reread The Parable of the Lily during the Easter season.

The Parable Treasury would make a great Easter Basket gift for any child! I highly recommend the Parable Treasury to all families with children between the ages of 4-8. It may become a classic bedtime book in your home and you can enjoy the Christian stories year after year. 

Amazon  $11.22
Faith Gateway Store $14.99

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.
*You can purchase the treasury book but you also have the option of purchasing each book separately in stores.

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookLook Blogger Review Gold Team Program in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

K is for Kids Clothes: A Decluttering Project

We recently moved after selling our home. I quickly realized that we could no longer store all of our belongings at the new place so I've been decluttering AGAIN.

This week we brought all the KIDS clothing tubs inside to sort by size. I won't be having any babies any time in the near future, because I am divorced so it is time to "LET IT GO." I saved these clothes for years hoping to have a second child.

My prayer is that I will be able to sell everything quickly so that I can start a new project. I am pulling out only a few items attached to fond memories. I am a bit overwhelmed with this project, because this is just the tip of the iceberg and it's so hard to say goodbye. I know . . . it sounds silly but it is true. Wish me luck!

I will link this post up at Life at Rossmont's Wordless Wednesday. I will also link this post up for the "Letter K" Linky of Blogging Through the Alphabet at Through the Calm Through the Storm.

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont