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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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

B is for Birthday Celebration

My 39th birthday was last week. My sweet daughter made me a Lemon Supreme Cake with Lemon Frosting. I helped her with the oven and cracking the eggs. She did the rest! I am so blessed to have her as my daughter. She also made me several beautiful birthday cards.

I will link this post up for the 2nd week of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Letter "B" is covered this week.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

TOS Review: Ann McCallum Books Eat Your U.S. History Homework

We recently received a neat 48-page hardcover children's book to review titled Eat Your U.S. History Homework written by Ann McCallum Books and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez. This is one of three books in this series published by Charlesbridge Publishing. The book's title immediately caught my attention. When I found out it was a unique cookbook I jumped on the chance to review it. My daughter and I love being in the kitchen together! This book contains six recipes for children to create with their parent's supervision. The book teaches history topics in a hands-on, fun, and exciting way.  

Ann McCallum wanted children to learn American History by making tasty edible connections. I couldn't agree more with the author when she says that learning with food is always more fun than reading a dusty, boring history textbook. She covers topics from the Pilgrims to the Revolutionary War in this book. Throughout the book, several words are seen in bold print. Children can look those words up in the Glossary beginning on page 44.

The book begins with a table of contents. The glossy pages are thick for smaller hands to handle and easily turn. The introduction describes the purpose of the book and provides children with a timeline of events from between 1607 and 1789. Kitchen tips such as "read everything before you begin" and "wash your hands thoroughly" are added to the book to help beginner cooks. The author tells the reader that the recipes have been modernized using ingredients and tools from today's culture and lifestyle while sharing interesting facts about the past.

Each topic contains engaging and educational information for a parent to read aloud followed by an illustrated original recipe to prepare which spreads across two pages. The illustrations support the text and make it more reader-friendly. It kind of reminds me of rebus recipes. The recipes are organized into four main sections: Before You Begin, Equipment, Ingredients, and Methods. Bold print is used in the Before You Begin section indicating prep time, cooking time, total time, oven temperatures, and more. The equipment needed is listed. The numbered method section contains the illustrated recipe. The bulleted ingredients are indicated in U.S. measurements.  I think we will substitute beef sausage for the hot dogs when we make the Thanksgiving Succotash.

A short factoid paragraph is offered following the recipe. We learned interesting facts. For example, we learned that the Honey-Jumble cookies we made had several name variations such as biscuits, koekje, sugar cookies, and the ever so popular snickerdoodles. I really liked the play on words when reading the factoid for the Independence Ice Cream which was titled "Something to Sink His Teeth Into." The section was about George Washington's false teeth. Alyssa learned the names of the 13 colonies before cooking the Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt. The book listed the name of the colonies and when each one was founded. Additionally, a 13 colonies map was given on the same page. I gave her a blank map to label after learning about them.
Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt

A side dish filled with fascinating facts are provided at the end of each section. The author usually encourages the reader to discover more about a particular topic through the use of thought-provoking questions that inspire children to research content further. For example, after preparing the Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies the author asks the children "What foods were popular during the American Revolution?" or "Can you name popular foods today from different regions of the United States?" Here are a few pictures of us making the tasty Honey-Jumble Cookies. We LOVED this recipe and only added a little more honey. 

Recipes Included
  • Thanksgiving Succotash
  • Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt
  • Lost Bread
  • Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes
  • Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies
  • Independence Ice Cream
The book ends with a History Review covering all major topics discussed. You'll find a short blurb about each topic within a specific range or time period. The author sums up the main idea and key details for each topic in 2-3 sentences. You can cover a vast amount of history in a short amount of time using this book.

There is a 2-page glossary which defines important history terms scattered throughout the book. The word is shown in bold print with relevant historical dates in parentheses.

The 2-page topical index at the back of the book is in alphabetical order. The letters of the alphabet are capitalized and in bold print which makes it easy to locate topics of interest mentioned in the book. You can also quickly glance through the list to see whether or not a topic you a re studying is covered in the book. 

How We Used It
I used the Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds with my almost 8-year-old daughter as a supplement to her U.S. history studies. We also used the recipes as a mother-daughter bonding activity. We didn't cover the topics in chronological order. We choose the topics based on the recipe titles, ingredient list, and of course the pictures swayed our final decisions. We let our appetites do the talking. We decided to make the Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes as a side to our Taco Soup instead of our usual cornbread recipe. These delicious hoe cakes were perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It made a large batch that we snacked on over several days. 
Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes
Alyssa and I decided to read all of the historical information first in addition to completing several online worksheets I found related to the topic before making the recipe. If we were studying a particular topic, then I would use the book's content to tie into the study. Some recipes were skipped until closer to the particular holidays such as Thanksgiving and Independence Day to add more meaning to the topic when studied. The stories were usually read after dinner while Alyssa finished eating. She was more focused and paid attention better to the articles and even answered questions I asked about the topic.

Our favorite recipes were Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt and the Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies. We are huge dessert fans and our sweet cravings were begging us to taste these recipes. My daughter liked the cookies so much she didn't really want to share them with anyone including me. We usually ate them after dinner with milk as a special treat.
Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies
Vendor Suggestions
  1. I suggest creating a separate U.S. History series. I would also add more recipes to the book to increase its value. I am not sure how many people would pay almost $16 for only 6 recipes. However, there is a lot of history jam-packed in the pages. It'll just really depend on what they buyer is looking for in the book and what is considered most important to them.
  2. Some recipes were missing relevant details such as amounts and temperatures which could be added for more clarity. I wasn't sure how much bread to use in the Lost Bread recipe. I used a plug-in skillet for the corn cakes but I wasn't sure what temperature to use so I heated it to 325-375 degrees. I also wasn't sure whether the Cherry-Berry Grunt was supposed to be cooked on the stove at a low, medium, or a high temperature. I burnt my pan when making the Cherry-Berry Grunt recipe. I have been cooking for many, many years so I should have known better. I knew as soon as I read that the sugary cherry filling would be cooking at the bottom of the pan that there was a chance it would burn. The recipe never indicated a stove temperature. I cooked it on low, but it took forever to cook (longer than the recipe indicated) and it still burned. On the other hand, it tasted GREAT! Alyssa told everyone she talked to about it and how good it tasted. We just moved the burnt pieces aside. It took forever to scrub my pan and it is still not 100% cleaned off. 
I recommend this book to beginner cooks or those who are history buff lovers. If you are looking for a way to make learning history more hands-on, then I suggest Ann McCallum's fun book, Eat Your U.S. History Homework, is the way to go. I believe this book would be great for children ages 4-13 that enjoy cooking in the kitchen with supervision. 

Social Media
Ann McCallum's Website
Twitter @McCallumBooks


Note: Prices are subject to change without notice. 

Please visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read about other Ann McCallum Books

Ann McCallum Books Review
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Monday, November 2, 2015

A is for Alyssa as Anna

I was able to spend Halloween with my daughter this year. It was a last minute surprise, but we managed find something in her closet. We dressed her up as Anna from the Frozen movie. I always encourage her to wear friendly costumes. I put flour in her hair for the white strip in Anna's hair. She wore this same costume to the library's Monster Bash too.

Our Jack-O-Lantern
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