Sunday, December 18, 2011

Crew Review: Vintage Remedies

I thought this would be a good review for me to participate in to help me expand my horizons.  I'm not a very "green" person, but I'm made the transition to some natural cleaners mostly because they seem to do as good a job, but for less money.  I'm frugal sometimes.
Vintage Remedies for Kids ($25.00) has three sections:  food and drink; health and wellness; and healthy lifestyles (this includes recycling, pollution and littering, keeping clean):

"Vintage Remedies for Kids helps parents teach  healthy and natural living to boys and girls ages 2-6. This new workbook is packed with projects covering every aspect of natural living including wellness, nutrition, immunity, natural body care, and the conservative use of valuable natural resources - in terms they will understand and remember!

This curriculum helps you teach little ones how to choose healthy foods, how to prepare some fun and delicious snacks, how to establish prevention based habits, and how they can participate in your family's natural lifestyle..."

Each chapter of the book (there are 18)  has a parent section to read, which includes information about the topic, a summary of some research that has been done (although no foot or endnotes are given to read the primary sources. I do wish books that say "Research has shown..." would include information to look up the studies.) and some helpful information for making more natural choices.  The next section is called "Read to Me." and it contains pertinent information for early elementary students.  There is a handy "Additional Comments" section for  slightly older students that want to be included in the discussion.

There are some questions to discuss with your students and then the fun starts!  Each section has a hands-on, mommy-and-me project to make.  Many of them are edible:

  • hot cocoa mix
  • almond butter crunchies
  • green smoothies
  • planting a tree
  • visiting a farm
  • bread started (a great way to talk about "bugs" and bacteria that is yummy)

    There are usually a couple activity projects to choose from.  I appreciate that many of the recipes suggest organic ingredients, but do not require them.  Most organic ingredients don't fall into our food budget.

    How It Worked for Us.  We're on Christmas break right now, so I was especially excited to set aside the time to make several of these projects.

    I don't know if the authors planned on it, but the variety of activities that are suggested really span the seasons.  This means that  you could easily plan on using this throughout the school year and have seasonally relevant, hands-on learning.  This would make a great resources for a health and nutrition class for your kids!

    Recently we read about "real" and "processed" foods.  The fun activity?  Making hot cocoa mix.  The recipe was simple, we had the opportunity to discuss measurements, and we got to drink our work:

    {side note:  Levi's Perry The Platypus shirt is freaking me out in this picture.  He's staring me down.}

    I felt that the information in the "Read to Me" section was helpful and detailed...but not too much to bore an early elementary student.  We did not work through the first section sequentially, and this just required a slight bit of adjustment in the explanations.  Not a big deal at all.

    I really like the Parent section as it gave me a lot of interesting detail that came up in conversation with Levi while we were making the hot chocolate.  I like being able to answer his questions without having stop and google the answer.
    If you have a child who is in middle school, Vintage Remedies has resources for older students: Vintage Remedies for Girls and Vintage Remedies for Boys.  Both of these other products were reviewed by Crew members....head on over to see about these!

    FCC statement:  In exchange for a honest of this resource and a written review, I was given a free copy of this book. 

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    A Message for My Boys

    A friend who lives in my computer, Debra at Footprints in the Butter, posted a link on her facebook page to the blog post below.

    A Girl You Should Date by Rosemarie Urquico 

    I love it.

    I'm posting it here so that I'll have record of it someday when my boys are ready to date. 

    Please be sure to click through to the site and read this post.  Even if you just have girls.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Crew Review: The World's Greatest Stories


    I absolutely love, love, love this product.   It isn't helping my children to read better, or do math more accurately.  We're not mastering a new skill. 

    I just love products that help me to get the Word of God into my children's heart.

    Performed by actor George Sarris, The World's Greatest Stories present the actual Biblical text dramatized in an engaging manner for not only children, but adults as well.  Have you ever read a story from the Bible and wondered about the desperation in the woman Elijah encounters as he goes to prepare her last load of bread with the little flour and oil she has left?  How might the people who have encountered God feel?  Using only a bit of background music to set the scene and mood, George Sarris presents the many voices of characters in a captivating re-telling of the Bible that is mesmerizing my children when we listen at lunch.  It has opened up discussions for us to talk about God and his love for us.

    Priced at $7.95, each CD (cassettes are available as well) has approximately 1 hour of dramatization.  We have been blessed to listen to The Prophets CD this past month (click HERE for an audio clip from the NIV).  The other CDs available are:
    • The Prophets (which is the one we have)
    • The Life of Christ
    • Beginnings
    • Joshua and Esther
    • Joseph and His Brothers
    • Defeating Giants (this is not just the story of David and Goliath)
    • The True Story of Easter ($9.95) (This is a DVD product.  The Biblical text is presented in 'The Life of Christ' CD as well.  Shot in St. Batholomew's Church in NYC, Mr. Sarris uses a scarf as his only prop to retell the Easter story in the NIV translation.)
    Each of the stories on our CD has a short introduction where Mr. Sarris sets the stage for the story in the context of the Bible as well as in God's plan for humanity.

    I can tell Mr. Sarris has a passion for proclaiming God's Good News in this way. The price of the CDs is so reasonable and the dramatic quality is wonderful.

    This is a great multi-age/ stage product.  It isn't "babyish" at all for my 12-year-old, yet it is not inaccessible for my 6-year-old.  And, um, I love listening, too.  We even have fun adding in our own dramatic miming to Mrs. Sarris' words!

    To read what others had to say about The World's Greatest Stories, please visit The Review Crew.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Getting in the Mood!

    Our Victorian Christmas Party/ High Tea was today, officially ending our schooling for the 2011 year.  I'll have to post more about how this fall went, the highs and lows, but right now, I'm ready to celebrate Christmas!

    I'm working on scrapbooking 2009 (but shortly we need to be doing this year's Christmas celebrations so I don't forget all those wonderful memories of 12-9-6: the boys ages), and made this page to get me all festive feeling:
    Lukie looks like a total rocker with that long hair.
    I think another gingerbread house eating making party is in our future next week.

    Crew Review: Fractazmic! Game

    Don't tell my kids:  mental math is not my strong suit.

    So one of the benefits of homeschooling my kids is that I get to re-learn a bunch of stuff that I never learned while in school.  Mental math is one of those skills.

    Fractazmic ($6.95), published by I See Cards, is another math game to help make learning math fun.  Yes, "math" and "fun" can be in the same sentence!

    The goal of the several versions of Fractazmic is simple:  make a whole "1" by using factions.  There are three set of cards in each deck (you play a game with all the cards). The blue set is based on 12ths, the red suit is based on 16ths, and the green suit is based on 10ths.  Here's an example of a card:

    Each card has a visual clue to help assist in making equivalent fractions.  Can you see the little grasshopper and ants?  They are showing 7/16ths on the ruler.  A card with 1/4th is going to have a grasshopper to show that it is equivalent to 4/16th on the ruler. 

    The green set (10ths) uses a 1 liter water bottle to show equivalent fractions, such as 2/5ths.

    The blue set uses an egg carton to show the equivalence between 1/3rd, 1/4th in the 12ths deck.

    I've had a few weeks to play a games recommended at the Fractazmic website Wiki: Trap and Rummy. The rules are clear and easy to remember.  We've also make up variations of these to meet our time constraints.

    As you can imagine, I really like playing this game (I still rarely win).  But, I've been really surprised that Ben has willingly played with me -- no grumbling.  We sometimes write down a little cheat sheet of a few of the conversions that stump us, but I can already tell that he's getting faster at making some mental calculations.  I suspect that as we play more, we'll get even better and will not have to count out the eggs, ounces, and bugs on the cards!

    You can purchase a deck of cards at the website.   You can also play an online version of Fractazmic with a chance to win a deck of cards. (Warning:  I find the website hugely confusing.  This is a great add-on to your math program, so hang in there when you get to the website.  It is worth it.)

    To see what others thought, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

    FCC statement:  In exchange for my honest opinion about this product, I was given a free copy of the product for my use. 

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    A New Addiction

    Digital Scrapbooking.

    I was blessed to win a complete copy of MyMemories Suite 2.0 digital scrapbooking software at the end of October.  Oh. My. How easy it is to catch up on all my pictures!

    I've never used any other software for scrapbooking (no Photoshop, no Creative Memories), so I really have no comparison of anything else that is out there. 

    At this point in life, paper scrapbooking involves lugging out two Creative Memories cases.  When I put the one bag on my right shoulder and hunch over just right, I can actually carry both cases at the same time.  Saying a quick prayer for safety, I can get both down the stairs to the dining room.  20 minutes to pull out all my necessary supplies, an hour to figure out where I left off last time, and then about an hour a page.  If I'm doing this while Dave is getting the kids to bed, I've maybe done 2 pages before I have to clean it all up and put it all away.

    OR: Start software and open the software (Memory Manager from Creative Memories) where I keep my photos organized. This takes a minute or less.  There have been a few evenings that I've finished 2 or 3 (gasp: FOUR) pages in just a few hours......and there is no clean up!

    I've been pleasantly surprised at the variety of  kits and embellishments that are at the MMS 3.0 site.  I scored a couple free coupons worth $5-$10 for designer packages.  The MyMemories Suite facebook page offers frequent freebies for members.  A few designers I've "liked" on facebook have also had awesome freebies.  In all, I've invested $40ish into digital scrapbooking and it all fits in my laptop!  No cases to lug anymore!

    Here's a few pages I've made. I'm working on 2009.  Sadly, I lost a huge number of photos (I kept meaning to back them up) in a computer meltdown, so I don't have a lot for that year, so I'm nearing th end of the year already. [2010 and 2011 weren't much better:  my camera stopped working for the better part of a year, until one day my oldest picked it up and *ta-da* it started working again!]

    Stay tuned to after Christmas.  I think I have a copy of the software to give away!

    FCC statement:  Although I won this software for free, this an unsolicited review on my part.  All opinions are mine.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Gratitude Challenge: Wrap Up

    Don't mistake an absent two weeks of posting of things I'm grateful for with apathy.  It just got busy around here!

    I'm so grateful for every person, thing, belief, and circumstance in my life.  The hard times make me thankful and teach me more about myself and my God, and the good times make me thankful and teach me more about myself and my God.

    Our Thnksgiving was great.  The 5K that my husband and his running club put on Thanksgiving morning was great. God blessed us with a beautiful, crisp morning.  600 people showed up to support the homeless shelter.  No one was injured during the race.  People smiled and had fun.  My boys ran well and fast.  Ben made a personal best at 24:01!  That kid will be fast once he decides to actually train for a run!

    After the race, we came home for a couple hours to clean up and pack.  We left for a 1:30-3:30 shift at a local church that puts on a Thanksgiving dinner.  We served as the wait staff for two tables.  Initially, my boys were not excited to do this at all. As a matter of fact, two of the three cried when I told them were were volunteering this Thanksgiving and not eating with Grandma.  Wow, I didn't expect tears.  So I made  a few quick mental adjustments and we decided we could have our cake and eat it too!

    Although we did not have many guests to serve at our tables, the boys were very considerate and careful while we worked.  We pitched in and did some extra clearing and cleaning up.  Luke even said, "I like doing this!"  Levi emerged from his shy shell and politely served drinks to guests. 

    After serving, we hopped in the car and drove down to Grandma's house.  We helped her eat leftovers.  And the kids played with their cousins, ate cookies and watched a movie.  We spent the night there, and they played on Friday with cousins and raked leaves for grandma. 

    I'm so grateful for a well-rounded Thanksgiving.  Family.  Grace.  Memories. 

    God is good.