Dyeing Playsilks with Kids

Dyeing Playsilks with Kids

 

This week, we had another wonderful get-together with our local Waldorf playgroup!  This time, we decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time–dye playsilks with the kids!!  Playsilks are wonderful, open-ended toys that have a million and one uses.  Basically, they’re scarves.  Just silk scarves.  You can dye them in a multitude of ways, I’ve even seen people paint the most beautiful silks.  Children can use them for pretty much anything.  Ours, at the moment, are flags, hair kerchiefs, capes, blankets, and beds.  they also make great backdrops for puppet shows, playscapes…whatever you can imagine!  We even have a couple of sets of handkerchief sized silks that I’m going to make puppets out of!

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We ordered our silks from the Dharma Trading Co.  They give discounts for bulk orders, and so we just all went in together, and it worked out really well.  The dyeing process itself was pretty simple, much more simple than I thought it would be!!  We got kool-aid, and more or less used the mixtures we found at Tried and True.  We did find that the the darker blue there ended up a fairly dark purple instead.  So, we only had light blue.  It was OK, though, it made the prettiest silks, kind of mottled, with what looks like clouds.  PERFECT for sky play!

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We mixed the kool aid packets with 1/2 cup of vinegar, and stirred very well.  Then, we added warm water to fill the quart sized mason jars, covered, and shook VERY well to mix completely.  After that, it was crazy simple.  We wetted the silks in clean water, and then squeezed out the excess.  Then, we put the dampened silks into the jars and let them sit. We didn’t have a time period, just until we figured they were done.  We then took the silks out of the jar, and squeezed out the excess kool aid.  Then, we put them in ziploc freezer bags, and popped them in the microwave for 2 minutes. (Hint:  Don’t seal your bag all of the way, it WILL pop!)  Remove the bags, and let them cool for a few minutes, then microwave them again for 2 more minutes.  When they’re cool enough to handle, we rinsed them in the sink, until the water ran clear.  Honestly, it didn’t take that long, the dye set VERY quickly in the microwave!  In fact, our hostess remarked about how much more quickly the dye set than when she had used Wilton dyes to dye playsilks before.

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After the silks were rinsed, we just hung them on the porch to dry!  The kids played and the moms talked, and, as usual, it was a beautiful afternoon.  I absolutely love our local playgroup.  We have the most lovely bunch of women, and I’m so blessed to be part of them.

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So, a couple of tips:  Wear gloves if you don’t like your fingers and nails being stained.  Most of the kool aid has come off of my fingers, but my nails are still a charming shade of maroon.  ;)  Also, we ended up with lots of mottled-looking silks.  I think a bigger jar, pot, or bowl would work better if you wanted a “perfect” silk.  For us, I like the organic looking imperfect ones.  :)  My kids love them all, so it’s all good. ;-)

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We had so much fun dyeing playsilks, and I had bought a TON, so I still have more to dye!  We’ll be working on these the rest of the summer, perfecting our shades and process, I’m sure.

Have you ever dyed playsilks?  What’s your favorite make-it-at-home toy?  Leave a comment and let me know!

TOS Review Crew: Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page

 

Working by units is such a fun way to really dive into a subject.  We’ve found a great resource to help us find quality, well put together units on a huge variety of subjects, and we’re excited to share Moving Beyond the Page with you!  For this review, Kaitlyn (13 years old, heading into 7th grade) helped me review the Language Arts Package-Animal Farm online (designed for ages 12-14) and the Science Package-Health and Nutrition (also for ages 12-14, physical copy).

Animal Farm image

First let’s start with the Language Arts Package-Animal Farm.  We reviewed the online version of this unit.  The online unit is $22.99, and comes with online access to the unit, along with a physical copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm shipped to you.  The unit is accessed online, but you will need to print out the Student Activity Pages.  Each day that you use the program, the student logs on and begins the lesson they are working on.  They’ll see a screen like this:

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As you can see, when they finish a lesson, the program crosses it off for them, so they never lose their place, and YOU know exactly where they are. Each lesson is broken down into 3 categories:  Getting Started, Activities, and Conclusion.  The Getting Started section tells the student what they’ll be focusing on for this lesson, and lets them know if there are any supplies they need before they start.  (Generally, we found the supplies to be things we had around the house–drawing paper and supplies was the most common.)  This is where the Reading and Questions activity is located, comprehension questions for the reading.  The student can fill in the answers on the computer and then print them out.  When the Parent Overview is turned on, the answers are displayed for you to check your student’s work:

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In the Activities section, there are a variety of activities and options for the child to choose.  Part of the activities includes the Student Activity Pages.  These, I think, were wonderful.  They take the student, using the literature, through grammar and writing.  Sometimes there are quizzes, as well.  Generally, we found this section invaluable, and Kaitlyn spent quite a bit of time doing research about the Russian Revolution to complete the activities.  She’s really learned a lot!!

Finally, there is the conclusion page, which wraps up the unit.  Pressing the “Finish Lesson” button lets the program know that you’ve completed that lesson, and it crosses it off of the list for you.  There’s also an IdeaShare page, where parents can share ideas to bring the lesson to life.  I think IdeaShare is an AWESOME idea, but for this unit, the IdeaShare was empty, so we didn’t get to utilize it all that much.  In addition, there is a Final Project, a 3-day project that concludes the Unit (along with a Unit Test).  For the Animal Farm unit, it took the student through writing a formal letter (a theme throughout the unit), and taking them step by step through the process.

Kaitlyn liked that it was online, and she really liked how it taught her how to write proper letters.  (Prince Charming and I are both in college at the moment, and writing has been a HUGE deal here lately.  Learning how to properly write is high on her list-of-things-I-must-accomplish-right-now, so she was paying real attention to that part.  And, it was done in an interesting way that helped keep her attention.)  She also enjoyed learning about Russia.  We have the kids learning Russian this year, and with the conflicts in Eastern Europe right now, it ended up being a great time to study Animal Farm.  Since I, um, never actually read Animal Farm, the help this unit gave me to dive deeper into the themes for her was wonderful.  Overall, this unit went VERY well, and I was quite impressed.

 

Health and Nutrition cover

 

We also got to review the Science Package-Health and Nutrition.  Kaitlyn also helped me with this one.  I’ve been knowing for a while I probably should do an actual Health unit with her, and I’m pretty sure I’m legally required to do one… at some time… But I hated health class growing up, so I’ve been putting it off.  This unit made it so easy, though.  We used the physical copy of this book.  The Health and Nutrition physical package costs $46.89, and comes with the spiral-bound workbook and a copy of both The Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen and The Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen, written by Dr. Ann Middleton, MD.  In the workbook you’ll find a list of required books and materials (the only required books are the two listed, and the materials list is, once again, easy, household materials).  There is also a vocabulary list, and then you dive right into the 6 lessons:  Feelings, Being a Smart Consumer, Healthy Body, Healthy Relationships, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs, and Nutrition and Exercise.  At the end, there is a Final Project, where the student designed their own Personal Plan for Mental and Physical Health.  There’s also a Parent Overview, with keys, an Age Level Overview, and a Summary of Skills, which would be wonderfully helpful if you need to supply detailed plans to the state.  Also included is a suggested Typical Day plan.

Kaitlyn learned a lot from the Health and Nutrition Study.  You should be prepared for a bit of online work with this one, as well, as the student has research they’ll need to complete.  Overall, this unit was pretty straight-forward, but Kaitlyn enjoyed it quite a bit, and learned a lot.

Moving Beyond the Page can definitely be used full time, and gives you guides to do just that.  There are multiple levels, and you can shop by age or subject.  The ages begin at 4-5 years old through 12-14, and the subjects include Science, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Reading.  We enjoyed these, and I really liked how the final projects wrapped it all up and helped put the bow on the unit, so to speak.  You can buy Moving Beyond the Page as a complete year plan, or as individual units.

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TOS Review Crew: Veritas Press’ Self Paced Omnibus I

VP Omnibus

 

My kids are getting into the upper grades.  I have one officially heading into middle school this year.  That, frankly, is terrifying to me.  Plus, I have my Second Wave, four little ones coming up behind my two big kids.  It’s time I readjusted some things, and finding courses that the big kids can do themselves, that still provides a strong, rigorous education is high on our priority list for the next few years.  With that in mind, I was really excited to begin reviewing Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I, the new self-paced option for middle-and-high-schoolers from Veritas Press.  Kaitlyn (13 years old, heading into 7th grade) helped me with this review.

 

 

Veritas Press Review
Veritas Press has been noted as a premiere curriculum provider for those looking to use the classical method in their homeschools and even in brick-and-mortar schools.  Now, they’re offering their highly-recommended Omnibus I program in a self-paced format for middle-to-high-schoolers.  The Omnibus I Primary Course is $295 for a year’s access.  The Omnibus I Primary Self-Paced Course Kit with the Omnibus ebook is $151.32, and the kit with no ebook is $137.63.  If this is the first child you have going through Omnibus, you’re going to want the ebook.

Veritas Press Review
So, how does it work?  After you register, you child will have access to the course, a series of videos, games, and quizzes.  Each day, on your schedule, you access the course.  Most days, there is also outside reading that will be required for the course.  During the review period, we read out of the Bible books of Genesis and Exodus, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.  There are sensitive topics that will be worked through during Omnibus.  Omnibus comes with an advisory to teachers and parents:  It is assumed that the course will only be used with students in 7th grade and up, and those dialectic-aged students are able to biblically discuss topics such as sex and violence, and that there is no part of the Bible inappropriate to discuss with students.  So, this is not necessarily a course you want to just set your kids at and go.  This course will require teacher involvement.  Your children will probably have questions, and you will want to be there to discuss with them.  We also found Omnibus to have a very overt Calvinistic/Reformed tone, so if that’s not your theology, you’d want to take that into consideration, as well.

The course covers the topics of Worldview, Literature, Bible, History, Theology, Art Appreciation, and can cover writing.  It’s not all-inclusive, though, and while this would be a solid core, you’ll need to add in math, science, and foreign language.  That said, in the subjects covered, it is quite in depth.  Omnibus travels throughout history, with Omnibus I covering the Ancient Period, from Creation until AD 70.  Omnibus is designed to be started at 7th grade, so the emphasis is on Logic in the first three years.

Each section of Omnibus is divided into sessions:  Session I is the Prelude, and gives an overall study of the topic.  Sessions II and III are Discussion.  In these sections, you analyze and discuss the topic.  Session IV is Recitation, this is when the comprehension and thinking comes in.  And Session V is Evaluation, with wonderful review questions to get your child thinking deeply.  There are also Optional Sessions if you want to go deeper.  We found that each day of Omnibus I took us at least 2 hours to go through, between the online segment, discussions, and readings.

Kaitlyn’s favorite part of the course was the Art Appreciation.  She loved learning about the Sistine Chapel, and taking a detailed look at some of those scenes.  I have an art guide on my Bible app, and she spent quite a while looking though other scenes of the Sistine Chapel on that, after studying it in Omnibus.

So, what did we like about Omnibus I?  Well, we loved that it was online and self paced.  The quality is really top notch.  While we did encounter some glitches, they were generally worked through pretty quickly, and I have a feeling that a few of them had to do with us being on an iPad instead of on a regular computer.  (NOTE:  You do need Flash to use Omnibus I.  During the review, my hard drive crashed, and we had to move to the iPad.  We found that by downloading a Flash-appropriate browser for iPad we were able to continue to use Omnibus on the iPad.  I would recommend using it primarily on a regular computer, though.)  I liked how deep it went into each subject, and required Kaitlyn to think hard and really expand her writing skills.

What didn’t we like?  I didn’t like the way the Omnibus ebook was set up.  You have to download another program to access it, it just seemed to add a complication in.  I would have preferred it to be in a PDF file or something similar.  Also, you can’t print it off, which, for someone who really works best when physically taking notes, this can be a struggle.  You can, however, highlight, so there is that.

Omnibus is quite Reformed.  You need to be prepared for that, if you are going to use this.  If you do not adhere to the Reformed theology, be prepared to sit with your child and have a lot of discussions throughout the program.  The theology can be a pro to some, and a con to others.  It really depends on your family.

Overall, while this is not something that is going to work for our family, it would be a wonderful resource for many, many families, especially those who are really desiring a classical education for their children.

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TOS Review Crew: Go Science

Science is so much fun!  And it’s better when you have a really great DVD to help you through it.  Recently, we had the opportunity to review a couple of the Go Science DVDs sold by Library and Educational Services.  For this review, we were able to use Volume 2:  Life Science and Weather and Volume 6:  Chemistry.

Go Science Review
The Go Science DVDs are recommended for ages 4-12.  We found this appropriate on the lower end, but I wouldn’t use these for kids above 10 or so.  My older kids (11 and 13) were somewhat engaged by them, but not nearly as much as the littles were.  The DVDs have a running time of about 1 hour.  During each DVD Ben Roy, your host who teaches science methods at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, takes real kids through real experiments to give them hands on, real life examples of the scientific concepts they’re learning.  At the end of every demonstration, he points the children back to the Creator, by saying,  “The more that we learn about science, the more that we learn about our Creator–God!”

 

Go Science Review

The experiments on the Go Science DVDs are simple, but fun to do.  Some of the experiments can be replicated at home.  There are some, though (the Fire Tornado comes to mind…) that you just wouldn’t want to do.  That’s OK, though, this is a really fun supplement to watch, and he takes the child through the experiment and explains it well, so you don’t have to do them at home. Ben Roy is engaging and entertaining, and the experiments are a lot of fun to watch.  Volume 6: Chemistry was my kids’ favorite.  The experiments were a ton of fun to watch.

Go Science Review
The Go Science DVDs are available in 7 volumes:

Volume 1:  Sound, Gravity, and Space

Volume 2:  Life Science, Weather

Volume 3:  Air 1, Air 2

Volume 4:  Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light

Volume 5:  States of Matter, Water

Volume 6:  Chemistry 1, Chemistry 2

Volume 7:  Engineering, Design, Flight

There’s plenty to keep your child engaged.  They will run you $8.97 at Library and Educational Services, which I found to be very reasonable for these DVDs.  I have to say they’re a really great company.  (Homeschoolers qualify for their Wholesale Prices, just so y’all know. :) ) I had an issue (of my own making) with shipping, and they were on it, courteous, and got it resolved in amazing time.  I was really happy with the customer service.

Go Science Review
As I mentioned, my little ones really loved these DVDs, and watch them over and over. There were TONS of “oohs” and “ahhs”.  My big kids, they were still engaged, but not at the same level.  They liked them, but I also saw them disengaging quite a bit.  I would say that, while they’re recommended for ages 4-12, that’s a bit too big of a range, and are more appropriate for 4-10-ish.  Of course, this would depend on the child and family.

With tons of topics to choose from and a format that continuously places the emphasis back squarely on the Creator, we really enjoyed the Go Science DVDs.  We would not hesitate to recommend them to other families, and even school teachers, as a wonderful, fun science supplement.

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Rhythm: The Heartbeat of the Home

rhythm heartbeat

Establishing a good rhythm is probably the single most important you can do to help your home and homeschool run smoothly.  But, we ran into a problem where our big kids, especially, looked at our written rhythm as a “to do” list, and were balking against it.  We needed to come up with a good way to help them understand what rhythm is, and why it’s important to us.  Here’s what we came up with:

 

Rhythm is the heartbeat of the home.  When rhythm is well established, it works like the heartbeat of our bodies.  We don’t need to think about it, it doesn’t require an obvious amount of effort on our part.  It’s habit. It becomes our heartbeat.  It ensures that our homes and our lives run smoothly.  It’s not something we have to focus on, because it’s just a part of our lives.

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What happens when we don’t establish good rhythm, though?  Some pediatricians think that SIDS could be caused by a newborn’s body rhythms not being established.  Until they moment they’re born, babies are intimately linked with their mother.  They spend their entire existence until birth listening to the rhythms of their mother’s body rhythms:  her heartbeat, her breathing.  When they’re born, however, they’re suddenly cut off from the reminders of the rhythm, the sounds of their mother.  Sometimes, they forget to maintain their rhythm–they forget to breathe or continue their heartbeats.  The results can, of course, be tragic.

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It’s the same way with our home rhythms.  If we don’t establish a good rhythm, the results for our home can be disastrous.  Chaos and discontent can reign, and life becomes a series of putting out fires.  We don’t have the time to enjoy our lives and our families, because we’re too busy working hard to make sure life doesn’t spiral out of control.  Establishing a good rhythm that works for everyone in the home is key to ensuring that this doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, our physical hearts still need some help.  If you’ve ever dealt with heart rhythm issues, you know that they will rock your world.  Problems with your heart can affect every part of your life.  I had heart rhythm issues during my pregnancy wish Sean.  It was awful.  I was exhausted, all of the time.  I would sleep most of the day away, and still be tired enough to sleep hard all night long, long past when pregnancy fatigue should have been over.  It was like nothing I’d ever experienced, or have since, even in two subsequent pregnancies.  Everything in our lives went downhill quick, because my internal rhythm was off.

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In the same way, sometimes, even after we have established our rhythm, it might get off-kilter.  Sometimes, it needs readjusting, for a season or for good.  Sometimes, we might need outside help reestablishing or creating a good rhythm, just like we might need a doctor’s help when our heart rhythms get off.  This is where really wonderful mentors come in, who know you and love you and can help you get back on track, or get on a new track.

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Rhythm is the heartbeat of our days.  When running smoothly, it can give us a steady, constant beat.  Every family, every person, has their own daily rhythm.  The key is making sure it works for you.  Is it supplying you with peace, calm, and joyful days?  Or, is your rhythm causing your days to be exhausting, chaotic, and stress-filled?  I highly encourage you to spend time this week in prayer and meditation over your rhythm.  If you have a mentor that you can sit down with, ask for their thoughts about your family rhythm, and make it work for you.

Summer Reading for the Dialectic Stage

Dialectic reading

 

My middle schooler has suddenly found a LOVE of reading!  Really, it’s miraculous.  I’m so excited for her, and to make sure that she’s encouraged in her reading, I’ve put together a reading list for this summer I REALLY hope she loves!

 

1)  The Anne of Green Gables Series.  All of them are on her list, if she wants to read them.  She’s read quite a few of them, I’m letting her go as she wants to.  :)

2) The Chronicles of Narnia.  Kaitlyn and Danny are both planning on taking an online course taking them through The Chronicles of Narnia this summer, so these are on their list, too.

 

3) Christy by Catherine Marshall. I LOVED this book when I was her age, about a missionary woman who went to Appalachia. Absolutely love this story.

4) God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. Kaitlyn has discovered a love of missionary stories. I definitely want to encourage this.

5) The Lord of the Rings Kaitlyn’s almost finished with this series, but not quite, so I’m including it for her to finish.

This list is much smaller than the Grammar Stage List I made, primarily because there are 3 collections in it, but this will give her MORE than enough to read this summer! What are your middle schoolers read during the summer? Leave me a comment and let me know! And make sure you click the banner below (live on 6/25/14) to find out what the rest of the Crew is reading!

Summer Reading for Middle Grades

Fun Resources for US Independence Day!

4th of July

 

I know a lot of homeschoolers don’t take off for summer, or any holidays, really.  There is SO much to learn during the holidays, and during the summer!  Combine the two, and you’re in for a really great unit!  Here is a round up of some of the great Independence Day Resources I’ve found on Pinterest.  Make sure you’re following me there!

Learning Sites

Celebrate our Founding Mothers!  Learn about the women of the Revolution!

Independence Day Historical Background

Fun Facts about Independence Day

Sons of Liberty Song from Walt Disney’s Johnny Tremain

55 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day

Liberty Kids #13 ~ The First Fourth of July

 

Lapbooks and Unit Studies

Homeschooling in High Heels 4th of July Lapbook

Free 4th of July Lapbook from Lapbook Lessons

Independence Day Speedy Lapbook

Amanda Bennett Unit Study Independence Day

 

Worksheets and Printables

Social Studies Vocabulary

4th of July Comprehension Packet

Independence Day Matching Cards

Coloring Sheets

Independence Day Bundle

Assorted printables (math, puzzles, vocabulary…)

4th of July Readers

More assorted printables (patterns, numbers, ect.)

Calendar Printables for 4th of July

Independence Day Journal

 

Crafts

American Flag Art

Watercolor Fireworks

Write out the Declaration of Independence

Fireworks in a Jar

Beaded Suncatchers

Puffy Fireworks

Painting Fireworks (outdoor activity)

4th of July Tees

 

Recipes

Patriotic Popcorn

12 Patriotic Holiday Food Ideas

Red, White, and Blue flavored water

Blueberry, Strawberry, and Jicama Salsa

4th of July Picnic Recipes

Brownie Fruit Kabobs

Fruit Flag

Filled Strawberries

4th of July Rice Krispy Treats

Strawberry and Pretzel Salad

Hot Dog Rockets

 

There are TONS more activities, crafts, decorations, and recipes on my 4th of July board over at Pinterest, so make sure you’re following me!

 

Do you have any special traditions for celebrating Independence Day?  Leave me a comment!  And don’t forget to check out what the rest of the Crew found around the web for 4th of July!  Click the banner below (live on 6/18/14).

TOS Review Crew: We Choose Virtues

We Choose Virtues Review
 

Character training is close to the heart of most of our reasons for homeschooling, as it should be. But it’s not that easy.  Character training can be hard, and children won’t respond forever to a constant barrage of correction. We Choose Virtues has set out to make character training fun and simple, with their Parenting Cards and Download Bundle.  The Parenting Cards are available in KJV or NiRV format.  We chose the latter, because the verses used are both Old and New Testament, whereas the KJV cards only use the Old Testament.  We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards are recommended for children ages 3-11.

 

We Choose Virtues Review

We Choose Virtues uses the metaphor of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, to show our kids how they can change their character, and become something truly beautiful in God.  The Cards are 8.5 x 5.5″, so good sized, and are printed double sided on high quality cardstock.  You begin by the entire family taking the Character Assessment.  Getting children to reflect on where they could use areas of improvement is always a good thing, and, in my opinion, helps them “own” their character training.  We found that while our kids understood some of the obvious character qualities we wanted them to grow (kindness, obedience, ect.), some of them, such as attentiveness, diligence, and preserverence, they hadn’t quite thought of.  So the Character Assessment was very good for them.

We Choose Virtues Review
The Download Bundle comes with a Teacher’s Handbook, Family Character Assessment, Coloring Pages, Butterfly Award, and Sing-along Song Sheets.  We chose one virtue a week to focus on, and used the recommended activities in the Teacher’s Handbook.  Some of the activities were geared towards a classroom setting, but I felt that they were easily enough adaptable to a homeschool, or even Sunday School setting, that it didn’t really matter that much.

We introduced each card by introducing the character on the card.  There are 12 multi-ethinic children from VirtueVille, one on each card, that your child “meets” as he journeys through We Choose Virtues.  My kids really enjoyed meeting the children, and had a lot of fun coloring in the coloring book with their pictures in them.  Each virtue also has a song that goes along with it.  In the Bundle Package is a songbook, but no music.  This isn’t a problem, though, as the songs are all set to common tunes, such as London Bridge and B-I-N-G-O.

 

We Choose Virtues Review
 

The front of the card has two positive statements (in the case of the “Content” card above, the statements would be “I am CONTENT” followed by “I have my wanter under control”), followed by a negative statement (“I am NOT…bored or greedy or always wanting more and I don’t beg or whine!”).  This shows the child both what to do and what not to do.  Also on the front is a Bible verse in either the NiRV or KJV translations.  (Just a note:  The KJV version is only available in Old Testament verses.  The NiRV version of these cards uses both the Old and New Testaments.)  On the back, you meet the Kid of VirtueVille, and have resources for teaching the Virtue, along with the Virtue User Challenge to bring that virtue into your life, and even a “What to Say After ‘I’m Sorry’” section, where kids learn really wonderful ways to apologize, that leads them back to the Virtue they’re working on.

This is a really easy-to-implement, fun program.  You will see character improvement after using the cards, but, really, this is something that I don’t believe you can never just “graduate” from the program and be done.  It’s something that will need to be reinforced over and over, which makes having the coloring book and resources downloadable a really good thing. Because it’s only meant to be used for about 10 minutes a day, and is easily brought into your circle or devotional time, I’m perfectly fine with going through the program over and over again.  The We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards are available for $38.49, and the WCV Download Bundle is $7.99.  There are many other products available, though, sticker charts and posters and just a bunch, on the We Choose Virtues store, so you’ll want to head over there and check it out.   In addition, there are products for youth and teens, so really, something for the whole family!

We really enjoy using We Choose Virtues, and plan on continuing to use it in our daily circle time.  It’s easy to use, fun, and the kids really liked it!  Want to know what the rest of the Crew thought about We Choose Virtues?  Just click the banner below to find out!

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Summer Reading for Early Grammar Stage

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Summer Reading Grammar

Summer is the PERFECT time to catch up on your reading–and perfect for your kids, too!  Here is our Top 10 list of Summer Reads for the Early Grammar stage! Most of these are read-alouds, some are great for them to read on their own, especially if they’re more advanced readers. You decide for your family.  :)

 

1)  The Tales of the Kingdom Series.  These are BEAUTIFUL, and such wonderful stories!!  This is a trilogy–Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration.  A wonderful fairy-tale allegory for kids.  Available in hardback (I recommend the hardback, personally) or on Kindle.

2)  Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books.  These can be found fairly cheap on Kindle (illustrated, even!), or you can buy them in paperback.  Such beautiful stories, perfect for an evening on the lawn surrounded by fireflies, or a rainy day full of imagination!

3)  Winnie the Pooh!  ‘Cause it’s always a good time for a silly ol’ bear.  :)

 

4) Charlotte’s Web. I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this story. After you finish reading it, make a night of watching the movie together!

5) Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare and/or Tales from Shakespeare.  We have both, and both are lovely.  They’re a wonderful introduction to Shakespeare, and we found they were perfect for telling the stories before we headed to the summer performance of Shakespeare in the Park!

 

6) Sir Knight of the Splendid Way. This is a harder read, but definitely worth it. An allegory that reminded us a lot of Pilgrim’s Progress, we listened to this dramatized audio from Lamplighter Publishing and loved it so much, we bought the book!

7) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ~ Starts on a lazy, warm day, and just gets better from there!

8)  The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter.  Wouldn’t be an early grammar stage reading list without them.

9)  Blueberries for Sal ~ Just a sweet, sweet story!

10)  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  ‘Cause she’s just awesome.

 

There are SO MANY great book lists out there, this cannot POSSIBLY be an exhaustive list. I pull my reading lists from Ambleside Online, the 1000 Good Books List and the books Make Way for Reading and the Waldorf Student Reading List, both available on Amazon.

And, of course, don’t forget to stop by and see what the rest of the Crew is reading this summer! Just click the banner below (live on 6/11/14).

TOS Review Crew: A Life in Balance

 

 

Learning Breakthrough Program Review
As a mom with kids with special needs, I am always looking for ways to inspire and get the most out of their brains.  My kids are absolutely intelligent, but sometimes, it’s hard to get down in there and figure out what’s going on.  So, reading A Life in Balance by Frank Belgau (as told to Eric Belgau) from the Learning Breakthrough Program was fascinating to me.

Learning Breakthrough Program Review
A Life in Balance chronicles Frank Belgau’s life first as a child with learning differences in the 40′s (in a home where academics were prized), through his military service, and into his career as an educator and researcher.  It tells real life stories of real life kids who helped him on this journey to help kids learn, from beginning teaching “brain injured” children at his first school, just to give their regular teacher a break (Dr. Belgau taught arts and crafts at the time), through the phases of his research and the development of what would become the Learning Breakthrough Program.  The story has the wonderful ability to really draw you in.  The first day I received this book, I read over half of it, before my husband finally made me turn off the light and go to bed.  This is definitely not a dry, academic read.  This is a story of a man’s journey to help many, many kids!  The last third or so of the book is devoted to showing you how to do some of the activities, like the Space Walk, with your own kids, and how to analyze the results to see if or where your child could use some extra help.

I have to say I was wary of reading the book.  I wanted to learn more, but not be subjected to a complete book-length advertisement for the Learning Breakthrough Program.  I was HUGELY impressed, though.  This book is not an “ad” at all (although, after reading it, let me tell you, I’m really looking at getting the Learning Breakthrough Program for my kids, and even for myself!).  It shows how  Dr. Belgau developed the program, but doesn’t work at selling it.  It’s absolutely wonderful in this sense.  It gave me a sense of empowerment that I can help my kids, and get results.  Are there things I can do now, even if I can’t get Learning Breakthrough yet?  Things like a balance board, multi-sensory experiences?  Yeah, I can do that!  And I think for a family who is already using the Learning Breakthrough Program, learning the story behind the development would really help this program “come to life,” and help you understand it more.

 

This is a great book. Well written and inspiring, it gave me wonderful ideas not only for my kids, but for myself as I enter into the World of Adult Learning (aka… online college).  A Life in Balance is available for $16.94 in paperback form.  This is something you’ll go back to many many times, so make sure you have a good, sharp pencil for note taking and highlighters handy.  We highly recommend this book for any parent, but most especially for families with kids who who have learning difference, whether it be ADHD (which is what we deal with), dyslexia, dysgraphia, or any other difference.

 

Want to find out what the rest of the Crew thought about A Life in Balance?  Click the banner below to find out!

 

 

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