Saturday, December 26, 2015

H is for Happy Holiday Wishes

I wasn't home yesterday so I didn't get to post my wishes to you all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

May this holiday season be blessed with love, peace, and happiness. I pray that we will all remember the real reason why we celebrate Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season. Let's thank Him for all that He has done in our lives this year. I also wanted to say thank you to those of you who subscribe to and read my blog. I really appreciate everyone.

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey. I will link this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet. Posts for this week are themed around the Letter H. I haven't had much happen here in my home since my daughter is gone for the holidays so I kept my post simple this week. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

G is for Gingerbread House Christmas Tradition

This week the Blogging Through the Alphabet letter focus was "G." I decided to post about Alyssa's gingerbread house.
Hard at work! 
This particular house came from Walmart. The box provided us with a link to an online tutorial on how to set it up which would be especially handy if your children were assembling them on their own. The kit included everything needed to make a gingerbread house. We added a few more types of candy to the plate. I have to say . . . I wish gingerbread kits came with two icing tubes. There's almost never enough to complete the project. But, we made it work and she had fun!

I helped my daughter set it up and she decorated it 15-20 minutes later after it hardened. Next year we may have a gingerbread house contest. I think we could get other families or friends involved too.

Every year we decorate gingerbread houses as a Christmas tradition after reading Mortimer's Christmas Manger written by Karma Wilson. This is ONE of my FAVORITE books to read every year. We also set up our nativity on this day. At the end of the story, Mortimer finds a little house just his size to move into which is why we do this awesome activity. We also read the Gingerbread Mouse by Katy Bratun.
The gumdrop candy wouldn't stay on . . .
so we switched them out later
Beautiful job Alyssa! 
This kit also included two gingerbread men.

I hope you enjoyed visiting A Learning Journey. I will link this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet, Tots and Me Wordless Wednesday, and Virtual Fridge.

Virtual Fridge Link Up

Friday, December 11, 2015

F is for Festive Tradition: North Pole Village

We focus on the real reason why we celebrate Christmas which is the birth of Jesus, but we also have other Christmas traditions we've done as a family for years. One of those festive traditions is to visit the North Pole Village in Canyon Lake. It was CRRC's 19th year to host the North Pole Village event. My daughter really enjoys meeting old and new friends. We get there as soon as the doors open to avoid long lines and large crowds.

Santa was the first stop. Alyssa never wants to sit on Santa's lap, but she did this year and asked for a special gift. Will she get her wish?

She decorated her 3 cookies with frosting and sprinkles at the Bakery. She ate all of them!!!!! I know . . . but it's only once a year - right! 

One of her favorite places to visit is the North Pole Petting Barn. This year they brought friendly dogs. Alyssa would have stayed in that building ALL night if she was allowed to. She LOVES animals! This dog was especially adorable. I think it reminded her of our dog Mustang.
Alyssa and Jasmine
SO CUTE!!!  
This was her first time getting her face painted at the Elves House. In the past, she would pay for her father's face painting, but since we are no longer together she started a new tradition and allowed them to paint her face. She said it was cold and made her face feel weird. It easily washed off that night.

The children either decorate a bookmark or an ornament each year at the North Pole School House. This year it was a double-sided bookmark. Her little friend sat with her at each activity. 

Next stop was the North Pole Church to hear a retired teacher read aloud a book about the first Christmas. Alyssa gave her a cinnamon stick treat after the sweet read aloud. 

This was just a fun shot of Alyssa posing in front of one of their pretty trees.

Another favorite place for my daughter to visit is the Library. Alyssa chose a Magic Tree House chapter book this year titled, Blizzard of the Blue Moon. She actually found one that we don't own! She already started reading it.

Even though she has way too many stuffed animals, I always allow her to visit the Toyland to chose a friend to adopt. She'll be donating bags of stuffed animals before Christmas too. She named her bear Rosey.

They visited Santa's Post Office where they wrote and mailed a short letter to Santa.

They also had Frosty's Ice Fishing for Rice Krispy Treats, Christmas carol singing, hay rides headed by Tractor Rudolf, and a live Nativity play. The children's passports were stamped as they participated in each activity. Alyssa did shop at the Country Store and left with $2.00 worth of candy sticks. She bought the same thing last year. We had a blast with our friends! It was full of fun and laughter. It was definitely worth the hour drive. We used to live right around the corner but we recently moved out of town. We ran into old friends and continued those memory-filled traditions.  

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey. I will link this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet. Everyone is posting about Letter F topics this week. Come join us!  

Monday, December 7, 2015

BookLook Blogger Review: The Very First Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain

BookLook's Blogger Review Program recently offered me The Very First Christmas written by Jan and Mike Berenstain to review. I am gearing up for Christmas time so I jumped on the chance to add a new book to my Christmas collection. My daughter, Alyssa (Age 8) will receive this Zonderkidz published book as a gift for our growing Christmas book collection. Teaching about the real reason we celebrate can be a task without the right tools. This book will definitely be helpful.

Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear book series in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Though Stan died in 2005 and Jan in 2012, Mike continues to create the delightful Bear adventures from the family home and studio in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks much like the sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.

Book Description
A Christmas story from the bestselling Berenstain Bears Living Lights series. The Berenstain Bears brand and Living Lights series continue their proven tradition of teaching children valuable lessons in a fun and creative way. In the 8x8 softcover format, the Berenstain Bears and the Night Jesus was Born gives fans of the Berenstain Bears the story of Jesus’ coming … from the angel’s announcement of a new baby to the visit of the three wise men. This newest Christmas title in the Berenstain series is perfect for gift-giving or as an easy addition to any holiday library.
My Thoughts and Review 
The dedication page shares Luke 2:11-12 with their readers "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." There is a place behind the front glossy cover for your child to write their name inside the book if you desire. I think the scripture reference adds a special touch to and builds the foundation for this spiritual book.

There are no page numbers, but this short 24-page softcover children's picture book will surely be one your child will want to read over and over again. The adorable classic characters always share such relevant and meaningful messages. This paperback book will help you and your family focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas. The information read seemed accurate besides of course the use of the Berenstain bears as the main characters. The illustrations were simple and the characters displayed a friendly mood.

The story begins with the Bear cubs asking Papa Bear if he was going to read to them so he decided to read the story of The Very First Christmas from their storybook Bible. It discusses all the major events from the Christmas story beginning with Mary's visit from the Angel to Joseph's dream about King Herod. No specific name was given for the Angel that visited Mary or Joseph.

The back of the book contains Activities and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear for you to discuss with your children. One of the fun activities was to build a diorama showing the first Christmas. I know that my daughter will enjoy that activity! The other activity was to create Christmas cards with biblical messages for your neighborhood friends. This is the perfect time to get started on these projects and to utilize them during the Christmas or Advent season.

I HIGHLY recommend this affordable book for children between the ages of 4-8. As previously stated, I plan on giving this book to my daughter as an early Christmas book gift. We read MANY Christmas books during the month of December as part of our Book Tree Advent Countdown. I can't wait to see her projects after reading the book. I suggest reading this book before Christmas if possible and in conjunction with the projects at the back of the book. This book would make a great Christmas Day or stocking stuffer gift.

Zondervan $3.99
Amazon $3.99

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookLook Blogger Review 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." 

Booknificent Thursdays

Saturday, December 5, 2015

E is for Elf-ed: You've Been Elf-ed

Now that Alyssa and I moved into a neighborhood, I would like to start a new tradition. I am hoping this idea will catch on and everyone will get involved. We live on a great street so I think it'll be a huge hit!

I first saw this idea on Organized Christmas, but I wanted to share the free printables, links, and ideas from other websites as well. You may have seen the same idea but it might have been called "You've Been Jingled or Claused"

The Idea
1.) Select two neighbors you'd like to surprise
2.) Prepare TWO "mystery" treats, baskets, or bags.
3.) Copy the poem and sign twice and include one with each treat.
4.) Leave the goodies at your neighbor's front door when it gets dark.
5.) Ring the doorbell, run away, and hide.
6.) Hope they continue the tradition. You'll soon see the ELF-ED signs posted in your neighborhood.
7.) Victims have 24-48 hours to deliver their 2 neighbor treats to those who haven't been elf-ed yet.

Organized Christmas
Anders Ruff
Mother's Niche
Teach Me Genealogy
Two Crazy Cupcakes
Been Jingled
Hub Pages

Neighbor Gift Ideas
Pinterest Page for Neighbor Gifts
The Idea Room
Tip Junkie and Neighbor Gift ideas
Fun in The Neighborhood Pinterest Page
You've Been Elfed/Jingled/Claused Pinterest

I started prepping the treats and materials. I will share a photo later once it's all ready to go. But, we won't ELF our neighbors until my daughter comes home on Monday. She definitely wanted to participate and join in on the fun. I wouldn't want her to miss out on this Christmas tradition.

So get read to spread holiday cheer! 
Go elf or jingle your neighbor! 

If you participate in this festive activity, please come back and comment. Please also share any links to printables you've made or found so that we can all use them this year!

I will link this post up at the Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky hosted at Adventures with Jude. We are focusing on letter E this week. The linky will remain open until Sunday so come join the fun!

Thanks for visiting A Learning Journey!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

D is for Deals: Awesome Black Friday Freebies

Wow! I wanted to share this Black Friday Deal I found online at Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies. They are giving over $250 worth of FREE curricula covering a variety of subjects such as Handwriting, Science, Bible, History, Grammar, Geography, Character Education, and more. My favorites are Homeschool Legacy's Forest For the Trees, Picture Smart Bible, Trail Guide to World History, and of course the Character Trails Set. Check it out sooner than later, because it expires 12/1/15 at 11:59 pm EST. You MUST be an e-mail subscriber to receive these goodies but membership is FREE and so worth it!

I will link this post up at Week 4 of the ABC Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

C is for Crafts: Autumn Handprint Wreath and Pumpkin

We visited our local library for an Arts-n-Crafts day. My daughter really enjoyed the crafts so I wanted to share them with you all. It may be something you can do during Thanksgiving week. Alyssa added things she was thankful for on her handprints.

Friday, November 13, 2015

TOS Review: Grapevine Studies

Grapevine Studies Review

Alyssa and I have been reviewing the Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob study from Grapevine Studies written by author, Dianna Wiebe. Can I just say . . . we are having a blast! We received the Level 2 physical copy of this chronological homeschool Bible curricula, which is suitable for children ages 8-10 years old. It covers major events and people from the book of Genesis.
Grapevine Studies Review
Ages and Levels Chart

Grapevine Studies offers a variety of Bible study curricula options for children beginning as young as age 3 and up. You can read about their statement of faith and information on their website. Grapevine Studies teaches the facts about the characters and events. The Teacher-Directed Doctrine approach utilized allows the parent or educator to choose what Bible version to use and what doctrine concepts to expand on.

We received the teacher and the student book. The Old Testament 1 Study contains a total of 12 weekly lessons or 45 daily lessons. The "Stick Figure Drawing Through the Bible" method was a hit with my daughter! If you have children who love to draw or doodle, then this curriculum may be a perfect fit. Alyssa loves art and drawing which is one of the reasons why I was hoping to review this product. Different learning modalities are addressed using a Hear-See-Draw teaching method. My daughter heard the Bible passages, then she saw me draw figures that correlate to the event or people, and finally it's her turn to draw.

The Student Book (orange cover) contains 64 black and white pages beginning with a timeline overview. Timeline reviews begin each lesson. The lesson pages each contain four square boxes for drawings. There is a lesson review on the second lesson page which consists of approximately 7-9 discussion questions. My daughter would also attempt to memorize 1-3 memory verses for each lesson. A student drawing page follows the core lesson pages. On this page, Alyssa was asked to draw her favorite part of the lesson. Space is provided for memory verses to be written and recitation prompts are also given. Additional level 2 memory work is added to this page. So far, Alyssa learned the number of Bible books for both the Old and New Testament. She also learned the Books of Law and found out that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew.
Grapevine Studies Review

The Teacher Book has the same format and pages as the student book. It contains approximately 100 black and white pages with sample model drawings to help the educator explain and teach the lesson material. The Level 2 Teacher Manual (black cover) addresses Level 1 and 2 content. The answer keys are provided for review questions. I really appreciate that the teacher notes are highlighted in green. I know exactly what I need to teach and how to teach it!

Topics Covered

  • Creation
  • Adam and Eve
  • The Fall of Adam and Eve
  • Noah and the Flood
  • The Tower of Babel
  • Job
  • Abraham
  • Issac
  • Jacob

Please see the FAQ section for pertinent information including ideas about the use of colors. You can also check out the scope and sequence while you're there.

Other Materials Needed
  • Bible
  • Colored Pencils (8 Colors)
  • Zondervan's Compact Bible Dictionary (highly recommended)
  • Expo or Dry Erase Markers (8 Colors)
  • Whiteboard
  • Storage or Shoe Box to Have Supplies in One Central Location
  • Index Card Box (Optional)
  • Index Cards (Optional)
How We Used Our Grapevine Study
We used Grapevine Studies as a mother-daughter Bible study. I placed the pre-printed 3-hole punched pages of the complete study in a 3-ring binder and was READY to go! Very little teacher prep was required. The teacher pages were at the front of my binder and the student pages were towards the back of the binder. Each lesson day I would remove a page for Alyssa to complete. The front and back covers were thicker and had a glossy appearance. Alyssa used her Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils for the student drawings.

We spent 20-45 minutes each day working through the Grapevine Bible study. The company suggests that you teach the curricula within 45-50 minutes especially if you are covering lessons on a weekly basis. We reviewed the content for approximately 5 minutes. Alyssa and I used Grapevine 4 times per week covering one complete lesson a week. We took Wednesdays off, but she continued to review her index card verses and fact cards. Core lesson days were Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A Peek at Our Week
Day 1 (Monday): Timeline Overview or Timeline Review
The study began with a timeline overview giving Alyssa the "big picture" of what will be covered during the course of the study. I think this is a great way to capture the child's attention and prepare them for what's to come. We review the previous week's lesson and memory work every Monday. There was space at the bottom of the page to write out verses. Additional memory work was given and written on an index card. She really liked how they challenged her to remember the lesson titles and would often start drawing before I did.
Timeline Review

Day 2 (Tuesday): Storyboard Lesson Page 1
On this day, we focus on reading scripture and "stick figuring" using symbols, colors, charts, words, and figures to illustrate the Biblical truths and concepts. This has proven to be an effective method for long-term retention. Alyssa located the Bible verses. I read aloud the indicated scripture Bible passages from a student Bible. We discussed and summarized the content verbally. Then, I drew the stick figures on the whiteboard and reviewed the lesson. I always read the Bible passage prior to "stick figuring" on the whiteboard. Alyssa draws what I draw. She doesn't usually add in her own details. I will reiterate the content or begin reading the scripture for the next box.

Day 3 (Thursday): Storyboard Lesson Page 2
This is the second main teaching day. The same process is used as above except this lesson contains 7-9 questions we verbally discuss. They would make great journaling questions. We may use a spiral notebook for answering questions with our next unit.
Student Pages 1 and 2

Day 4 (Friday): Student Drawing Page/Character and Event Cards/Memory Work
Alyssa created character and event cards using 3"x5" index cards. She wrote the verse reference on the front of the card and the scripture verse on the back. She used my student Bible to locate and copy the verses. She enjoys choosing her "favorite part" of the lesson to draw. It really gives the parent a better understanding of what the child absorbed from the lesson.

The Level 2 curricula provides you with a list of Biblical words to define that will aid comprehension. We attempted to look up words in two different books without success. I suggest that you buy the Bible Dictionary that Grapevine Studies recommend so you'll have better luck. We verbally defined words using several different online Bible dictionaries.

Lesson 7, which is a lesson review, contains 47 Section Review comprehension questions based on the topics covered up to that point. The questions do an outstanding job of reviewing and summarizing key concepts and ideas presented. Lesson 12 is a Final Review which consists of 79 comprehension questions and 4 memory work recitations. The entire study ends with a complete timeline overview. I can't wait to see if Alyssa will be able to draw the entire Old Testament 1 timeline without any assistance.
Teacher Notes - Right-Side

What I Like
  • Flexibility
  • Chronologically Sequenced Lessons
  • Interactive
  • Easy-to-Follow and Understand
  • Stick Figuring Method Makes Teaching the Bible Easy
  • Recitation and Memorization Aspect
  • Repetition of Format
  • Review of Content
  • Integrates Art
  • No Prior Knowledge - Anyone Can Teach Using This Curriculum
  • Lessons Vary Weekly Which Maintains Interest and Attention
  • Familiarization with Bible
  • Colorful, Fun, and Engaging Lessons
  • Multi-Sensory (read-hear, See-draw, draw-do)
  • Contextualized - Learning Straight from the Bible
  • Multi-Level - More Than One Grade or Age Can Work On the Same Study
  • Parent or Teacher Involvement
  • Easily Adaptable if Desired
  • I love that the company took the time to personalize our package with a little welcome note. My daughter cut this drawing out and saved it as a souvenir. It definitely added a personal touch and meant a lot to us!

Vendor Suggestions

  • More Writing Space - Alyssa had enough space to draw, but Level 2 needed more space for written responses and verses. The company may want to add more extra lines for younger children who still write fairly big using this particular level.

I HIGHLY recommend Grapevine Studies for all Christian home educators with right-brained learners looking for an easy-to-teach topical or multi-level study. If you have children who like to draw or doodle then they may enjoy using this study. Classic home educators may appreciate the "Stick Figuring Through the Bible" teaching method.

Alyssa is definitely understanding the Bible better and retaining more information using this study and method. We've had successful results. It is an effective way to learn about God and the Bible. My daughter seemed to be engrossed in the study.

My daughter is already asking me which study we will complete next, because she liked it so much. I plan on using the Birth of Jesus study in December. I would love to purchase the Old Testament Bible Study Part 2 Level 2 sometime in the near future.

Click on the following link to find Information about the Levels available.
Grapevine Studies Review

The Old Testament Grapevine Study is reasonably priced from $10-$37.50 depending on what you decide to purchase during checkout.

The study is available in two different formats: E-book or a physical copy of the pages. Visit the following link to view SAMPLES. Here's a chart that will help you decide where to start.
Grapevine Studies Review

Note: All prices vary and are subject to change without notice.

Social Media
Twitter @Grapevine Study
Periscope @Grapevine Studies

Visit the Schoolhouse Teachers Review Crew Blog for additional reviews about Grapevine Studies.
Grapevine Studies Review

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