Have the Best Spring Ever!

best spring ever I’ve been posting a lot about spring studies.  This is one of my FAVORITE times of year.  There’s so much new life, new growth, promise, potential… I love spring!  Especially after a hard winter like most of us just had.  So, here are some of my favorite things to bring into your life for spring:

1)  Spring Cleaning!  I think most people are just about done with spring cleaning, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.  Spring Cleaning is traditionally done during Lent, to clean out our hearts, as well as our homes, in preparation for Easter Sunday.  Make sure you’re cleaning out both– our homes of clutter and the dirt and dinginess that accumulates during the winter, and our hearts of the cobwebs and clutter that we hold on so tightly to!

2)  Take it outside!  If you can, head to a park.  Go hit the farmer’s market.  Get out there!  Explore!  Winter can leave you Vitamin D deficient.  Get out in that sunshine, and watch your mood (and, very possibly, your health!) improve drastically!

3)  Reconnect!  Winter can isolate us, and God created us to be creatures of community.  If this winter has left you feeling alone and isolated, get out and reconnect with human beings.  Schedule some playdates, hit your support group’s park days.  Get around PEOPLE again!

4)  Art!  Messy art!  This is an awesome time of year to get back into the messy art you didn’t want in your home during the winter.  We’re planning on dying playsilks with our Waldorf support group this year.  Work on watercolors outside, make a HUGE mural!!  Learn something new, like wet felting!  Fingerpaint, shaving cream paint, make an all natural weaving loom with things you find outside.   The possibilities are endless!

5)  Shoo all of the kids outside.  Turn off that TV, unplug the router, and MAKE them go if you have to.  Sometimes, after the initial glow of spring wears off, our kids want to come back in and just hang out inside again.  Don’t let them do this!  Send them outside, and make them rediscover their imagination and wonder with nature!

6)  Build a treehouse!  OK, this isn’t do-able for all of us, but can you imagine watching the magic of spring unfold from a tree??  Birds building nests, trees moving from bare, to blooms, to full foliage?  What a beautiful site!

7)  Revamp your menu!  Find local, in season produce if you can.  Now is a great time to learn new recipes, try new things, and develop new tastes.

8)  As you switch out your wardrobe, take those old clothes that are no longer wearable, and not suitable for donation, and do something fun with them, like make a quilt, or other upcycled art project.  Take your favorites, and make memories with them!

9)  Make your backyard epic!  There are tons of ideas on Pinterest..  Pick one (or a bunch…) that really speak to you, and make it a family project! (In fact, you should just follow all of my Pinterest boards. I have TONS of cool stuff on there for spring, summer, everything!)

10)  Check out my Spring Studies Series for other ideas that are just so much FUN!! Spring is such an amazing time of year!  Get out there and enjoy it!  What’s your favorite thing to do in spring?  Are you doing anything new this year? Let me hear it! And come check out what the rest of the crew things about Spring Studies!

That's Pinteresting

Awesome Spring and Summer Pins!

spring and summer pins

 

Welcome to this week’s Round Up!  The theme for this week is That’s Pinteresting, so I thought, since we’re into the most beautiful weather of the year, I’d give you some of the most awesome spring and summer pins I could find!  So, here you go!

Food

Summer Slow-Cooker Meals:  Beat the Heat in the Kitchen
Grandma’s Carrot-Orange Cookies
Veggie Nachos
Homemade Coffee Creamer (DOZENS of flavors!)
Magic Muffin Mix
Chia Strawberry Jam
Angel Food Cake S’mores
Fairy Tea
Homemade Cereal Bars
S’more Crack Dip
Watermelon Rice Krispie Treats
Strawberry Pie
Refrigerator Oatmeal
Homemade Fruit Roll Ups
Floral Ice Cubes
Flower Popsicles

Decorations/Backyard Ideas

Beautiful lighting using metal containers and candles
Summertime Citronella Floating Candles
DIY Beaded Suncatchers
Outdoor Couch
Sunflower House
DIY Butterfly Feeder
Outdoor Swings Around a Campfire
Music Hut
DIY Orange Birdfeeders
Beaded Suncatcher
Homemade Hammock
Outdoor Drink Holders
Awesome Playtable
Fairy Gardens ~ this one is just to my board, because there are just SO many beautiful fairy gardens out there, I couldn’t possibly list them all!

Kid’s Activities

Making Tie-dye t-shirts with sharpies and rubbing alcohol
Make Your Own Glowing Chalk
Natural Weaving
Mudpie Station
DIY Outdoor Sensory Tables
DIY Water Wall
Tin Can Music Station
Lots of Fun, Outdoor Play Activities
10 Fun Things to Do with Pool Noodles
13 DIY Games and Structures

NewStuff to Make

Flower/Plant-imprinted Stones
Spray Bleach T-Shirts
Ginger-Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub
Kool-Aid Dyed Playsilks
Carseat Pillow and Blanket (for long road trips!)
No Sew Fabric Scrap Tutu
Sand Bowls
Homemade Ice Pack

This should get your creative juices flowing for the Spring and Summer season, but this list is by NO means exhaustive!  You definitely want to follow me on Pinterest, to see my latest and greatest of what I find when I waste far too much time on there! ;-)

Want to find out what the rest of the Crew is pinning this week?  Click the banner below, and have fun!!

TOS Review Crew: Curiosity Quest

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I’ve been trying hard to cut back on all of the media we’ve been exposing ourselves to.  But sometimes, girl, that TV just needs to come on so Mama can grab a moment of peace and quiet.  BUT… I want it to be something worth watching, too.  Recently, we had the chance to review two DVDs from Curiosity Quest:  DVD Combo Back – Produce and DVD Combo Pack – Swimmer of the Sea.  Both fill this need for me to find something that will occupy my kids (of all ages!), and not feed twaddle into their brains.  Mama for the win!!

Curiosity Quest Review
Curiosity Quest is a 30 minute show, available on over 100 PBS stations, where the host, Joel Greene, answers real questions from real kids, in an unscripted, true to life way.  It’s a lot of fun.  :)  The DVD Combo Packs hold 3 episodes each, for an approximately 90 minute DVD.  (Plenty of time to, say, take a shower, make a cup of tea, check your email…)  The Produce DVD Combo Pack episodes cover Cranberries, Mushrooms, and Oranges. The Swimmers of the Sea DVD Combo Pack episodes are on Sea Turtles, Salmon, and Penguins.  Each DVD Combo Pack is $24.95.  Individual Curiosity Quest episodes run $19.95.  Curiosity Quest Goes Greene individual episodes run $24.95.  There is also available a Homeschool Monthly Membership for $24.95/month, where you get 2 DVDs a month, plus a curriculum pack to go with it.  The curriculum is NOT available in the store, so the monthly homeschool membership is the only way to get it.  Finally, there is a Curiosity Quest Monthly Membership, where you get a 2-episode DVD every month, for $19.99.  The Curiosity Quest DVDs are designed for children 7-14 years old, although we found they worked everyone down to my 3 year old.

Curiosity Quest Review
OK, so now you know how to get these, let me tell you all about them!  First, in the DVD Combo Pack – Produce, Joel takes you through the growth and production of 3 kinds of produce:  Oranges, Cranberries, and Mushrooms.  We learn how they’re grown, harvested, and processed.  Joe takes us through the entire process, start to finish.  I love this, because it helps our kids to really see where our food comes from.  (Spoiler:  Oranges are not made in the grocery store…)

Curiosity Quest Review
In the Swimmers of the Sea DVD Combo Pack, we learn all about a Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, and go check out a Salmon Hatchery in Alaska!  My kids learned a LOT, this one was definitely their favorite!  They learned what the animals eat, all about salmon spawning, and why they should NEVER touch a sea turtle.  (Um, it’s illegal.)  Kaitlyn’s favorite tidbit was to learn that sea turtles have a gland behind their eye that extracts the salt, and makes it look like they’re crying.  These are WELL loved DVDs by the whole family!

 

Curiosity Quest Review
These would be a great addition to your nature study, science, or just to have around when you need a quick way to keep the kids entertained while you make dinner.  My own kids have watched them many, many times, to the point where I very nearly have them memorized.  They’re actively thinking of questions to send in to Joel.  (Heads up, Joel, I have 6 kids… they could keep you busy for YEARS to come!!)  Joel Greene is engaging for the kids, and they have a great time watching him.  At the same time, he’s not cheesy and my big kids are as entertained as the little ones.

Curiosity Quest Review
We have had a great time with our Curiosity Quest DVDs, and would recommend them to anyone with kids who are even younger than 7, up into the middle and perhaps, early high school years, depending on your child.

So, what did the rest of the Crew think about the Curiosity Quest DVDs? Click the banner below to find out!!

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5 Days of Spring Studies: Dying Playsilks

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Spring brings me SO much inspiration!!  I had planned on doing this post on Spring Crafts in general, but when I got researching, I decided that playsilks deserved a post all of their own!  There are just SO many resources, and this is such a wonderful, open ended, imagination enhancing toy, it should be a staple in everyone’s household.  Dying your own playsilks with your children can be an unbelievably fun process, and it helps the children take ownership of their new toys.  They created it, it’s THEIRS.  

What are they playsilks?  Playsilks are beautiful, silk cloths that kids can use for any number of things.  They can truly be anything, from superhero capes, to rivers and landscapes, to sky, to babydoll slings, to head scarves to…  The possibilities are TRULY endless!!  Probably the most popular way to dye playsilks with your kids is with kool-aid, but there are SO many possibilities.  For kool-aid dying, I like Tried & True’s tutorial, because at the bottom, she shows you exactly which kool-aid flavors to use to make whatever color you want.  She even has shades of colors, and the results are just BEAUTIFUL!!

Rachel Rabbit also has a great post, and shows you how to use not only kool-aid, but also food coloring (liquid, paste, or gel), to dye your playsilks.  It appears that Rachel Rabbit is in Europe, so if you’re not used to European measurements, you’ll need to convert.

Raising Olives has a great tutorial for making multi-colored playsilks.  These. are. beautiful!!!  I’m so doing this, in a variety of themes:  Rainbow, Sea, Night Sky, Day Sky, Forest, Field, Flowers…  Oh, yes, my creative juices are FLOWING.

At Simple Kids, they use Easter egg dye, the little tablets, to dye their playsilks!!  Easter egg kits are SO cheap, and if you can find them on clearance after Easter, even better!!  Spend your money on more silks! (Seriously… I’m thinking you can NEVER have too many silks…)

The Evolving Homemaker has some BEAUTIFUL tie-dyed playsilks, and she shows us how to make them, too!

At Bluebird Baby, they use all natural dyes to make the most beautiful playsilks!  If you’re trying to keep your home as natural as possible, you ABSOLUTELY want to check this out!!

The Artful Parent has an awesome tutorial on how to make beautiful, multi-colored, tie dyed playsilks.  I’m so doing this…

There are SO many tutorials out there to dye playsilks, and, like I said, I honestly don’t believe you can ever have too many.  If these are the ONLY toy in your home, your kids will still adore them.  We only have one playsilk at the moment, gifted to use by a wonderful Facebook friend, and it is constantly in use.  We’re hoping to get together with our Waldorf playgroup very soon, and have a group dying day.  This would be an AWESOME group activity, or a super fun swap!

Have you dyed playsilks?  How did it go?

Be sure to check out what the rest of the Crew is blogging about this week in their own 5 Days of… Series!  Make sure you hit the bloggers below, and see what they’re up to!

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence ~ Missouri
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back ~ Babywearing
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: where life happens ~ Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

5 Days of Spring Studies: Butterflies

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There are a few things that are just quintessentially SPRING, and today, we’re going to be focusing on one of those:  Butterflies.  Studying butterflies is not only an amazing science project, it gives us a life lesson in renewal and the process of being born again in Christ.  Really, no matter how old your kids are, you absolutely can’t go wrong with studying butterflies!!!

 

First, I recommend getting a kit.  The Insect Lore Butterfly Garden is generally the most popular, although I believe there are others.  This one, though, is very popular, and available in a LOT of places (craft stores, hobby stores, teacher supply stores, and Amazon ~ Prime Eligible for those of us with problems with delayed gratification!!).  The Insect Lore Butterfly Garden gives you a pavillion to hold your butterflies in, and a mail-in certificate for 5 larvae (caterpillars) and food.  Then, the fun begins!  You can watch the process from larvae to butterfly, up close and personal!!  Insect Lore also carries a Life Cycle plastic toy set, and a Butterfly Feeder.

Educational Science also carries a LOT of kits that also show you more how to take care of your caterpillars and butterflies, with milkweed seeds and such. These look really nice, and very complete. These seem to me like they’d work VERY well, especially for older kids.  I also found Butterfly Bushes, which will ship you milkweed bushes or cuttings, with butterfly eggs attached.  These are REALLY cool to me, since you can see the ENTIRE process, from egg, to larvae, to pupa, to butterfly!!  How very cool!!  I think I’m leaning towards Butterfly Bushes, for this very reason.

Next, we’re working on making our yard more butterfly-friendly.  This takes some research, but, really, it’s not that hard.   Planting milkweed will bring monarchs.  Brightly colored flowers attract all types of insects, but especially butterflies, who need the yummy flower nectar to eat!   Sometimes, planting isn’t always an option.  In that case, you can make your own butterfly feeders!  I have a great pin from Home Science Tools on how to do this easily, and here’s another one from All Free Crafts.  (Make sure you’re following my Spring board on Pinterest, for TONS of really awesome ideas for spring and the spring festivals!!)

 

Finally, we can’t leave off a study about butterflies, without exploring the spiritual lesson that God gave us with these amazing creatures.  I’m not going to spend too much time on this, but a quick Google search will bring you all types of really awesome object lesson ideas and crafts you can do with your kids, to show them how, just as a caterpillar is born again into an amazing, beautiful creature, so are we, when we give ourselves up for Christ.  Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty has a wonderful story about a caterpillar’s faith, and her transformation into a butterfly, and is fairly inexpensive on Kindle.

I would LOVE to know how you have studied butterflies!  Are you studying them this year?  Drop me a comment and tell me your favorite resources!!

Be sure to check out what the rest of the Crew is blogging about this week in their own 5 Days of… Series!  Make sure you hit the bloggers below, and see what they’re up to!

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence ~ Missouri
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back ~ Babywearing
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: where life happens ~ Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

5 Days of Spring Studies: Fairies and Gnomes

***Affiliate Links are used in this post.***fairies and gnomes pin

 

 

If you have little girls, there’s a good chance that they. love. fairies.  Really, fairies and gnomes and Little Folk in general transcend gender.  All of my kids just love imagining the wonderful things the Fae might be doing. And Spring is the PERFECT opportunity to engage that creative imagination!  Let me show you some of the awesome resources I’ve found to bring the magic that is spring into our studies.

First, I got this idea from Ancient Amber.  Amber has put together these three ADORABLE journals, that are just perfect for spring!  The Fairy Field Journal and The Little Folk Field Journal are basically the same thing, with different covers, so that boys don’t feel all girly doing a fairy field journal.  These work well for smaller ones, so, of course, I didn’t get one for my big kids.  Big. mistake.  Kaitlyn was very offended, and now I have to go back and get her one, too. ;-)

For my big kids, I got the My Garden, Kitchen, and Community Journal.  This one is a wonderful guide to starting your own garden, but lacks the imaginative, magical element that is in the Fairy and Little Folk Journals, so for this post, I’ll stick with those.

We’ve had a LOT of fun with these, going through and imagining what each fairy or creature looked like, drawing pictures, and imagining their fairy homes.  Amber even has Facebook Groups to join to give you great ideas in creating your gardens and fairy homes!  It’s a GREAT community, and Amber even has a great list of resource books to read to your child during your journey through Fairy-land.  Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t list them all, but some favorites of ours are The Fairy Land of Science (SOOOOO good!) and Peter Pan.  If you’re a fairy-lover, a gnome-lover, or just a lover of all things magical, you DEFINITELY want to check this resource out, and start building your own Fairy Homes!  Need ideas?  Make sure you check out my Pinterest Board on Fairy Gardens to get your creative juices flowing!!

 

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So, now that we have our journals, we’ve been working on thinking about and building our fairy homes.  We have decided to use whatever we can find around, so our homes aren’t necessarily as “pretty” as some of the ones you’ll see on my Pinterest board, but, we think they’re more true to the garden fairies.  ;-)  One thing we’ve done is make fairy bells, an idea I found on the Buzzmills blog.  These are too. cute.  And SO simple to do.  All you need is sticks, embroidery floss (although, we used cotton yarn, and it worked out just fine), and some jingle bells.  You could add any glass beads or pretties that you’d like, but we decided not to.

Here are some pictures of our fairy-homes-in-progress.  Sean has decided that his gnome’s home is going to have a daffodil roof.  (BTW… watch your kids when they do this.  I no longer have beautiful yellow daffodils lining my front walk.  *sigh*)

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The big kids each partnered with one of the twins to build their fairy homes.  Danny and Delaeney used bricks they found, and put the beautiful daffodils to decorate it.   (Did I mention my new lack of daffodils… yeah.)  That’s one lucky fairy!!

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Kaitlyn and Caeleigh’s fairy home is a work in progress, and they’ve asked me not to show it yet. ;)  We were hoping to finish them up yesterday, but it rained.  Here’s a picture of their Fairy Bells, though. ;)

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Fairy homes and gardens are SUCH a sweet way to get your kids outside, get their creative juices flowing, and get them imagining the possibilities!  How do you share the magic of spring with your kids?

EXTRA NOTE!!  As I was finishing up this post, I got an email that the Herb Fairies series is opening back up!!  This sweet set of books has been out of production, but for a VERY limited time, they’re opening up soon!! AND, you can get a free downloadable Herb Fairy cookbook, for signing up to get updates!  Absolutely make sure you check this out!  The Herb Fairies series is a GREAT way to help your kids learn all about the herbs that are so helpful to us, in cooking and in healing.  I can’t wait!!

Be sure to check out what the rest of the Crew is blogging about this week in their own 5 Days of… Series!  Make sure you hit the bloggers below, and see what they’re up to!

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence ~ Missouri
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back ~ Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy ~ Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: where life happens ~ Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

TOS Review Crew: Supercharged Science

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Science is probably one of the most asked about subjects on many of the homeschooling message boards I frequent.  It’s an important subject not just to check off, but to understand.  We’ve been using the Supercharged Science e-Science Premium Membership, and have had a blast using it!!

Supercharged eScience Review
Supercharged Science‘s e-Science program is an online program, filled with videos, experiments, projects, and reading to help your student really understand science.  The program works for any age group, from K-12.  (The K-8 grades program will run you $37 a month, and the 9-12 grade program will run $57.  The 9-12 grade program can also be used for advanced 5-8th graders.)  The program is broken up into either a Topics Format, where you pick the topic you want to study, or a Grade Levels format, with recommendations for each grade level.  Also included are Teacher’s Resources, Science Fair Projects, Mathemagic (one of our favorites!!), and Summer e-Camp (another HUGE HIT here!).

 

Supercharged eScience Review
 We’ve used this program with Kaitlyn (12), Danny (11), and Sean (7).  For us, we’ve found that it works best to combine the topics that we want to study (for example, Unit 9:  Light) along with the grade levels, so that we’re not expecting too much out of our students.  So, I will look and see where the unit most closely corresponds to whatever grade level we’re working with.

Typically, we choose a unit to study, and buy what we can to do the experiments we choose.  There are always PLENTY of experiments to choose from, and you by no means have to do them all.  After we have our supplies, we get to work, making notes and practicing journaling our observations in our science journals.  The experiments are fun, and, depending on how much we’re willing to do it, we can often get through 2-4 in a day.  Of course, that number can vary, depending on the experiments you’re doing.  We also like to do our science in blocks, so if you’re trying to do 5 other things that day, it might not work out the same for you.

Learning about how fire burns in the thermodynamics and heat unit.

Learning about how fire burns in the thermodynamics and heat unit.

The Supercharged Science e-Science program uses videos, hands on activities, and text reading to teach your students the fundamentals of science.  The program is primarily videos and experiment based, so if you have a visual and/or kinesthetic learner, this would be a PERFECT curriculum.   Also included are shopping lists for each unit, and, let me tell you, you’re going to need them!  While many experiments can be completed with things you might have on hand, to get the most out of e-Science, you’re going to need some special supplies.  These can generally be found online, with a bit of prior planning, and, especially for things like robotics, they include any special parts information you’ll need. But, it’s so worth it.  The experiments and projects are beyond cool, like studying cells in Life Science 1, or concentrating solar energy in the Alternative Energy unit.  Or, you know, the entire Electronics unit.

 

Supercharged eScience Review
Supercharged Science‘s e-Science is really easy to use, but does require some prep.  If you can’t get the supplies you need, simply watching the videos will also give your children a wonderful understanding of the concept you’re sharing.  The videos are wonderfully put together, taking the student step by step through the experiments, and asking them to come to conclusions on their own. Aurora Lipper is energetic and engaging, and my children absolutely love to watch her videos.

This program is not a nature study.  Although the study includes Life Science, Earth Science, and Biology, it is completely neutral in it’s teaching.  Mrs. Lipper made it that way so that anyone can use this program, no matter what theory of origins you hold to.  In that regard, it’s wonderful for any family, especially if you have a very science-minded kid, or are looking to bring a STEM  focus into your homeschool.  Aurora is an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist, who, it’s very clear by her enthusiasm, absolutely loves her field, and loves bringing it to students in an engaging, fun way.  We love how we’re still able to do nature study, show God’s hand throughout science, and use this fun, interactive program, all at the same time, with NO conflicting information, in a way that my kids have a ton of fun with.

Supercharged Science has graciously given us the opportunity to share with you free access to some sample experiments, so you can see if e-Science is a good fit for you!  In addition, you can get a Free Copy of the Science Activity Video Series and Guide Book!  (This company gives a LOT of free stuff away!  Love that!)  Plus, right now, you can access the complete e-Science program for a month for only $1!  These are REALLY great deals, and I highly recommend that you take advantage of them, to see if e-Science is right for you.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all!

Supercharged Science‘s e-Science Premium Membership will run you $37 for a K-8 grade membership, and $57 for a 9-12 grade membership.  This is something we’ve been using for about a year now, and will continue to use in the future.  We really love this program, and know many of you will, too!

So, what did the rest of the Crew think about the Supercharged Science e-Science Premium Membership?  Click the banner below to find out!

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TOS Review Crew: Victus Study Skills System

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I remember learning study skills in middle school, at some point.  Well, I remember making lots and lots of index card thingies.  I remember having teachers who would kind of “coach” us on ways to study.  But, alas, none of that stuck with me.  18 years after I graduated high school, I’ve lost it.  So has my husband (to which our online college courses and the freak-outs that occur will sadly attest).  So, we get really excited when we hear about systems that will help us teach (*ahem* learn…) those study skills that we’ve forgotten to our kids.  We were able to review the Victus Study Skills System‘s Student Workbook and Teacher Edition with Kaitlyn, and we have really enjoyed our time with it!

Victus Study Skills Review
The Victus Study Skills System is designed for 5-12 graders, although you could certainly use it with younger students, provided you have a lot of adult involvement.  The Teacher’s Edition will cost you $40, and you really do need it.  The Student Workbook is $20.  Although the prep is easy (generally, I was able to read through my teacher’s pages either the night before, or the morning of our lesson, and was fine), you do need the information in the Teacher’s Edition to effectively use this program.  Also available is a Student DIY Workbook ($25) for older students who can work through the program themselves, a Classroom Video ($30), a PowerPoint presentation ($25), and a booklet called Creating and Implementing a Personal Strategic Plan ($5).

The Victus Study Skills System is broken into 10 lessons, designed to be used either with 2 half-hour lessons a day for one week (for high school), or 1 half hour lesson a day for middle school and lower (for 2 weeks).  We found that for Kaitlyn, the one lesson a day worked better, although it took her longer than half an hour, especially at the beginning, where she was goal setting.  She had to really think about where she was, and where she wanted to be, and it got a bit uncomfortable for her very phlegmatic personality.  For that reason, although you *could* use the Victus Study Skills Program for younger than middle school, I wouldn’t recommend it, personally.

 

Victus Study Skills Review
The first thing I noticed when we got the Victus Study Skills System is the quote on the front.

For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.

~Dorothy Sayers

First of all, anything that quotes Dorothy Sayers is a win in my book, but this quote is particularly wonderful. Isn’t this our goal for our middle-to-high-schoolers?  To work beyond us holding their hands, to get them independently learning for themselves?  The Victus Study Skills System asks students three questions:  Where are you now?  Where do you want to be?  How do you get there?  The entire system is based off of these three questions, making the kids take a good, honest look at themselves and their goals.  For our dialectic and rhetoric students, this is not only good, it’s needed, as they move through their studies.

The Teacher’s Edition starts with an Introduction where you learn the Philosophy behind this system.  Section One is teacher’s instructions–how the book is organized, the method, even a sample course plan.  In Section Two, you’ll find the actual lessons.  Lessons 1 and 2 ask the question “Where Am I Now?”  Here, the kids learn their strengths, and address their weaknesses that need some help.  Lesson 3 asks Where Do I Want To Be?  This is the goal-setting section.  This one was by far the hardest for Kaitlyn, because goal setting, in and of itself, is not a strong point with her.  Lessons 4-10 ask How Do I Get there?  This is where we get into more of what we know about study skills:  time management, organization, note taking, ect.  There are also Extension Exercises and Organizational Tips in the Appendix of the Teacher’s Edition.

Victus Study Skills Review
The Student Workbook is a wealth of help for students.  First, it walks you through your goal setting.  Then, it takes the student through some of the basics of study skills.  They’re asked to make a monthly schedule, in which they have multiple tests and projects due.  How will all of this get done?  How will it be spread out, so you’re not cramming and pulling all nighters at the last minute?  It shows them how to set up and organize a study space, how to listen, read, take notes, and review, giving them samples to use for themselves.  It also includes test prep, including learning the different types of tests.  I think this is really important to some of our students who aren’t used to test taking, but will be required to in middle and high school (and beyond!). In the appendix, there are more pages to help with time management and organization.

 

Victus Study Skills Review
All in all, this is a really good, solid program.  I really loved how it started with the student setting their own goals.  For Kaitlyn, this was really hard.  It’s just not something she thinks about.  But, once we got over that hump, we’ve seen real progress with her studying of things that are very difficult for her, like her math.  It was very easy to add into our day.  As I mentioned, I would read through the teacher’s notes on the lesson the night before, and that’s all of the prep I needed.  Kaitlyn and I would then set aside 45 minutes to an hour (that way, if we ran over, we were OK) to go through the lesson.  It is pretty scripted, so that’s all I really needed to do.

This has also been a great program for me to go through.  Next month, I’m starting back to school for the first time in nearly 20 years.  I was never in the running for valedictorian, anyway, and my skills have gotten rusty, to say the least.  My husband started school last month, and his skills are rusty, as well.  Although I’ve already been through this once with Kaitlyn, Prince Charming and I are thinking that we might get the Student DIY Workbook, just to go through them again on our own.

What did the rest of the Crew think about the Victus Study Skills System?  Click the banner below to find out!!

 

 

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5 Days of Spring Studies: Bird Study

***Affiliate Links are used in this post.***Birds

 

Spring is here!!  Full fledged, no-going-back spring is here!!  Thanks HEAVENS, after such a cold, long, COLD winter!  So, when I knew I had a 5 Days of…  series coming up, the first thing I could think of was… SPRING STUDIES!!  Yea for spring!  Yea for sunshine!  Yea for green!!

OK, our first day of Spring Studies, I’m going to focus on the obvious:  Birds.  Why so obvious?  Well, here, that’s one of the first signs that spring is coming.  The birds come back!  (OK, some of them never leave, but still…)  You can hear them early in the morning, and they sound beautiful!  I definitely wanted to get some bird studies in this year, so this is what we’re doing:

First, I got this handy dandy birdhouse.  It’s really cool, it comes with a 2 way mirror film, and the back is clear plastic.  That way, you can see inside the birdhouse as the birds build their nests and (hopefully!) lay eggs.  It has suction cups to stick to your mirror.  HOW COOL IS THAT??  ;-)  Check it out:

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We put it up a couple of weeks ago, still no birds. ((sigh))  I think it might be a tad loud at our house.  :/  But, we’re not losing hope yet!!  We also went around and cleaned out the other birdhouses the previous tenant had left in the trees.  (Note:  Be careful about this.  Snakes like birdhouses, for obvious reasons.  So, yes, check well before you go sticking any body parts into a birdhouse to clean it out…)

I also got a this handy dandy birdfeeder that attaches to the window.  Now, it didn’t come with mirrored film, though.  We’re also putting up hummingbird feeders, further out in the yard.  Prince Charming is worried they’ll attract a ton of bees.  I don’t blame him.  But I really, really love hummingbirds.

Our next step will be to put up a birdbath.  I hear birds like that, so I will.  I was a little worried about this.  Cottonmouths (or water moccasins) are all over Tennessee, and I hear that they’ll come to ANY amount of water.  And those suckers are mean and nasty, and they chase you.  Not shy at all like most snakes.  Last year, I saw 3 snakes in my house/yard.  One in my garage, FAR too close for comfort, and one on my back porch, literally by my back door.  I walked right by it the first time.  And I’m pretty sure they were venomous.  And I hate snakes.  So, I paused when I thought of putting up the birdbath, but I’ll do it anyway.  ‘Cause I like birds.  Working on finding the PERFECT birdbath, though.

OK, step 3 was something I found…somewhere… Pinterest maybe?… years ago that I keep meaning to do.  The idea is to see how birds fly around to gather just the right material to build their nests.  You cut up pieces of brightly colored yarn or soft cloth, and leave it in your yard.  The birds then pick it up, and build their nests with it.  Before the trees have their full leaves, while you can still see the nests, you should be able to find the yarn on your nature walk.  Kaitlyn and Danny helped my by spreading the yarn all over the yard.

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Finally, we got a copy of The Burgess Bird Book for Children.  Now, I had a good copy of this in eBook already, but I was hoping to find a hard copy.  No such luck this year, but I did find this awesome copy on Kindle, that has narration questions written by a Charlotte Mason-style homeschooling mom written right in it.  Very cool!  Satori Smiles has a great blog series to go along with this book, as well.  Highly recommend it.

Another great resource for ANY sort of nature study would be Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.  We have this on Kindle, and in hardback.  I really, really recommend having a physical copy of this one.  Although the Kindle is convenient, it doesn’t have the click and go table of contents, so you end up searching through a LOT before finding what you want.  So, it’s just much easier to navigate the hard copy.  There is a whole blog dedicated to using this book as the backbone of your nature study, so definitely check it out at The Handbook of Nature Study.

I also recommend getting a good, local bird guide to your area.  It’s going to do you no good to check out all of the birds that they have in the Pacific Northwest, if you live in Florida, and vice versa.  So, yes, get a local guide, and have fun!

Between all of this, I think we’re going to have a great time learning about the different birds in our area.  Do you birdwatch?  What resources do you use?  What’s your favorite tip?

Be sure to check out what the rest of the Crew is blogging about this week in their own 5 Days of… Series!  Make sure you hit the bloggers below, and see what they’re up to!

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence ~ Missouri
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back ~ Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy ~ Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: where life happens ~ Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ A Christ-Centered Home

April Blog Hop

Don’t Box Me In!!

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Recently, I was meeting with a group of homeschoolers.  Ironically, I had been homeschooling the longest.  (That made me feel old… very, very old…. but that’s another post.)  Most of the wonderful ladies that I met with were in their first year of homeschooling, or were about to start.  My kids (with my oldest being 12) were by far the oldest in the group.  We were introducing ourselves, getting to know each other, and one lady mentioned that there were 5 “ways” to homeschool.  I knew where she got this idea, and I highly respect the person who she was referencing.  But, at the same time, it disturbed me.  Only 5 ways?  Oh, no no no sweet ones, there are a MILLION ways to homeschool.  ((Disclaimer:  I almost sat through the same talk this lady did, but about a minute into it, we figured it would just be rehashing what we already knew, so we went to the vendor’s hall at the convention.  So, no, I didn’t hear the talk, I’m basing this post SOLELY on what I heard recently at a local meeting of homeschoolers. :) ))

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I think a more appropriate theme would be “The 5 Most Popular Homeschooling Styles Right Now”, because, undoubtedly, the 5 that I heard were probably the most popular:  unschooling, unit studies, classical, Charlotte Mason, and traditional, or textbooks.  However, to say these are THE 5 ways of homeschooling… No.  Please understand, this is a sampling.  Off the top of my head, I can think of these 5, plus…

Delight Directed (not just unit studies, although unit studies could fall into this)
Waldorf
Reggio
Montessori
Thomas Jefferson
The Principled Approach
Hebrew or Torah based (although some would argue that this falls under Classical… of course, some would argue Charlotte Mason falls under Classical, as well…)
STEM
Literature Based
The Robinson Method
Computer based classes (online schooling)
Correspondence schools
Umbrella Schools
Co-ops
Charter/homeschool hybrids
DVD based learning
And, of course… eclectic!!  (Generally meaning, doing whatever works for you, and probably blending of one or more methods.)

 

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OK, so you get the idea.  The list can go on and on…  And, yes, many of these overlap.  Many of these break into sub-groups (for example, I would put under the Classical umbrella: Charlotte Mason, The Well-Trained Mind, the Classical Conversations method, Latin-based, and Hebrew or Torah based, although many would disagree with me, perhaps strongly, about sticking Charlotte Mason and Hebrew or Torah based in with Classical).  In addition, many dovetail in BEAUTIFUL ways.  Right now, I’m studying deeply into the Waldorf tradition and the Classical tradition.  The more I read, the more I am blown away by how two methods who are, at first glance, NOTHING alike, are actually so very similar it’s nearly scary.  It’s not hard for me at all to merge these two methods into something amazing for us.  Literature based can fall into Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, or more.  So, yes, it’s fluid, but each of these adds it’s own amazing gift to homeschooling.

 

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I think we have to be very careful, especially as veteran homeschoolers, as bloggers, as reviewers, as ((fill in the blank with your situation)) to not give off the impression that this is THE way to do something.  Or that these are THE only acceptable routes.  As a new homeschooler, I would’ve been boxed in by that.  And I know that others feel boxed in, too.  What if we don’t fit into any of those boxes?  Is there room for us?  What if NONE of these speak to me?  What if the Lord isn’t leading me to ANY of these methods?

Where do I fit in?

 

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Even as adults, we want to fit in.  God designed us for community.  We want to know we belong.  Homeschoolers, we MUST be careful not to narrow the field so much, as to make others think they don’t belong.  When we talk to the newbies, the families thinking about it, the curious ones, even those really obnoxious ones… when we talk to the teachers and the pastors and the grandmas, don’t box homeschoolers in.  We’re SO much bigger than that.  Celebrate homeschoolers, all of us, in all of our mixed up, crazy ways.  :)