## Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One thing Little Bean is supposed to be practicing as part of his Right Start Math B curriculum is addition facts. He's pretty good at getting the right answer, but it takes him some time to compute it at this point, so he is needing more practice in order to say the answer instantly. I was over at 1+1+1 a while back and saw that her son was using this website to learn his multiplication facts. I hopped over there today, and saw that not only do they do timed, online quizzes for multiplication, but for all the operations (subtraction, division and addition). Little Bean does not get much computer time, so he was excited to take these quizzes, and it was good mouse and keyboard practice for him as well. While we will still do them orally with the problems in Right Start, multiplication.com is a great supplement in this area.

## Tuesday, July 27, 2010

### Help for Poor Grip

I noticed just recently that Little Bean has modified his pencil grip to look like the person in the photo above. That pic is obviously not him, but he does the same thing--he tucks his thumb in behind his index finger. He has only started this about a month or so ago, and my nagging alone isn't helping him to correct it. Does anyone have a recommendation for a pencil gripper that would help with this particular problem?? It looks terribly uncomfortable, and he does complain during handwriting times, but I'm not sure if maybe it actually is comfortable for him. Either way, I'd rather have time doing it correctly just in case it causes problems in the future.

### Primary Colors Quilt

In preparation for our color lapbook, we made this little project that focuses on the primary colors. It's pretty self explanitory; all you need is a glue stick, 3 large squares of each primary color and 3 small squares of each primary color. We glued everything onto a piece of plain white paper to make our primary color quilt. This idea came from a book I have called How to Teach Art to Children. This book will be our main source for projects and information for Miss O's color lapbook, and is an excellent resource for those looking for an art curriculum for grades 1 through 6.

## Sunday, July 25, 2010

### Human Body Lapbook

I was pulling together resources for our color lapbook this weekend and realized that I had never shared our Human Body Lapbook here. Miss O and Little Bean each did a human body lapbook, with Miss O's being a little more simplified for her age. Sometimes I combine them, but I had a ton of mini books, so we decided to do two. For our color lapbook, we will combine both of their parts into one book. By the way, I am totally excited about the color lapbook! Thank you to those who left links for me to look at--I checked them all out and did pull some stuff from there. But there were several things I could not find pre-made, so I spent Saturday trying my hand at making my own mini books, and I have to say, I am delighted with the results and can't wait to get started on this one with the kiddos! Anyway, on to the human body! I pulled all my resources for this lapbook from here. We searched our local library for books on the human body too. Unfortunately I didn't save the titles for what we used, but the lapbook pieces can be used with any books on the human body.

Here is the cover of Miss O's lapbook:
And this is the inside of Little Bean's lapbook. We have: a mini book about eye color, important body parts, a diagram of the skeleton, a mini book about how to stay healthy, and a book about the different parts of the body (skin, muscles, bones, and organs).
The skeleton page turns so that we have more room. On this page we have a book about germs and what makes people sick, a diagram of internal organs (Little Bean hasn't finished this one yet), steps to brushing your teeth, body part riddles, and a food groups chart.

## Friday, July 23, 2010

### Preschool Ocean Lapbook

You may have read that I recently started home preschooling a 3 year old little boy along with my two. A few weeks ago, he and I finished our first lapbook together--Ocean Animals. I got all of my printables from either Homeschool Share (where I searched for appropriate content among any of the lapbooks that were ocean themed) or from 1+1+1=1. This lapbook was a lot of fun, and I hope to do more with him in the future. Miss O and I are going to be doing a color lapbook soon (I have yet to pull my resources together for that one yet though) and Little Bean and I are doing a giant Story of the World lapbook. That one won't be done for a LONG time!

Here is the finished lapbook:

And the inside: We have words that begin with O, beginning sounds, a five senses book, a number mini-book and a coloring and dictation activity.

Here's a little coloring activity he did:
And a close up of that number mini-book:

## Wednesday, July 21, 2010

### Looking for Resources for a Color Lapbook

I am looking for resources (preferably free!) for a color lapbook. I'd like to do one with Miss O, who is 4, on things like shades of colors, the color wheel, color mixing, etc. Anyone know of something like that out there?

## Wednesday, July 14, 2010

### Book Review--A Time to Dance

I recently had the opportunity to review a book by one of my favorite authors--Karen Kingsbury. Karen Kingsbury is a New York Times Bestselling novelist, and writes mainly Christian fiction. Now, I love all kinds of books, from fiction to philosophy, but when I'm in the mood to just relax and enjoy some down time, I often turn to a Karen Kingsbury novel.

A Time to Dance is a Christian fiction novel (the first this series of books) about a long-time married couple who have gone from feeling like soul mates to feeling more like roommates. As their oldest child prepares to get married and leave the house, the characters in the book struggle with the dissolution of their marriage and all the feelings that come with facing divorce after so many years of living together.

Like all Karen Kingsbury novels, A Time to Dance is explicitly Christian in nature; you won't be able to read this book without understanding that Christ and relationship with him is the center of life, and that the quality of life greatly depends of how that relationship with God is going.

While I do not agree with everything she writes in her novels, I still love her books, because I love her stories. She is an exceptional story-teller. I love the way she develops plots and characters so fully in each and every book, and among series. She has a way of writing about characters that makes you feel that they are real and leaves you wondering about what what will happen to them next.

A Time to Dance touched my heart because it reminded me to be vigilant in my own marriage; to remember to consider my husband first before myself and to leave a legacy of love behind for my children to one day look to as they choose their own mates. I will definitely be reading the rest of the books in this series!

Please note: I recieved this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion. While I do get to keep the product, no other compensation was provided and all my reviews represent my true feelings on the product.

### Best Pet

I've talked about our guinea pigs before, but I thought I'd give a little update about them since they have turned out to be such great pets for our family. I know many families would like the benefits of a family pet, but may not be able to accommodate a dog or cat for one reason or another. A guinea pig (well, two actually) is a great family pet!

Unlike hamsters, mice, rats and other small rodents, guinea pigs are actually quite friendly. They never bite (they may nibble because they are oral learners, but never bite in order to cause harm), they recognize their name when called, they learn to recognize their caretakers, and they have lots of different noises that they make to communicate different things (happiness, fear, hunger). We love to watch our two "popcorn" around the cage and beg for snacks! They are loads of fun. :) Many guinea pigs will even let you hold them for long periods of time and just relax on your lap while you watch a movie. We have one pig who is like that, and the other is more skittish, but will sometimes let you hold and pet her for a while.

Guinea pigs have some special needs, like all pets. First, they are pack animals, so they need a companion. That's why we have two. Two or even three guinea pigs living together is ideal, and truth be told, it's just as easy to care for more than one as it is to care for one. Second, guinea pigs need space. The cages at the pet store, like rabbit cages, are too small. You can make your own cage for a fraction of the cost using wire shelving from Target or Walmart. This site will tell you all about how to make one. We made our own C and C cage and even made a travel size one for trips to the vet, and we love it. It's so much more convenient to clean than the store bought style too. Lastly, guinea pigs also need fresh veggies every day, and pellets and timothy hay.

If you are looking to get a small family pet, a couple of guinea pigs may be just what you are wanting. I know we love ours!

## Tuesday, July 13, 2010

### TOS Review--Travel Kits E-Book

As I mentioned before, I am on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew this year and have the opportunity to review some great homeschooling products and share my opinions with you! It's finally time to get started with the reviews, and first up is a little TOS e-book all about Travel Kits.

You may be thinking travel kits are kits that you use when you travel, full of necessities like mini tubes of toothpaste, Q-tips, and travel-size deodorant. But this e-book is all about a different kind of travel kit--one that according to the author of this e-book is a simple way to bless others. I love the concept behind these travel kits; I think that the time and effort one puts into a kit like this really shows others how much they are loved and cared for. And what better way to build relationship with those who are close to you than to show them how much you care about them?

Travel Kits are basically gift packages that you prepare and share with loved ones who will be traveling. They are great for longer road trips, but can be tailored to shorter trips as well. Travel kits can also be customized for all age groups, or you can make one big kit for the whole family to enjoy together.

This 90 plus page e-book is packed with great ideas on how to prepare a travel kit for your loved ones. Some of the ideas that really popped out at me include:

--wrapping each gift in the kit individually. While this isn't the greenest thing to do, it makes the kit that much more exciting for the person opening it, and keeps up the suspense longer for those trips where you must be on the road for a good length of time. The author does give some wrapping tips that were more environmentally friendly (and cheaper) than using traditional wrapping paper.

--including things in the kit that are free. While the author talks a lot about finding inexpensive toys and games at discount stores for the kits, she also gives some really great free options that appealed to me personally. For instance, she suggested wrapping up some favorite books from the library or making an audio CD as a gift. She also suggested using printable games from online for the family to do while driving on that long road trip. All of these ideas really got me excited because they are free options that are still fun and new for the person opening them. The e-book has even more suggestions and ideas for free and purchased items to include that I would never have thought of on my own.

--ideas for opening the gifts in the travel kit. My first thought when I started reading the e-book was, "Aren't the kids just going to open everything in the first 5 minutes and then be bored for the rest of the trip?". But the author was one step ahead of me--she includes a long section on unique ideas for how to open the gifts--everything from how to label the gifts designated to each person to how to time the opening of gifts in interesting ways that heighten the sense of excitement and make the time traveling fun for all involved.

Overall, I thought this book had some great ideas; and while I was skeptical at first because I am not one to spend money on items that won't last or that will get lost or ruined quickly, I really appreciated the author's ideas about how to make a travel kit on a budget and use quality, long lasting items. The next time someone I know is planning a road trip, I know what I'll be doing for them!

There is much more to the book than I could ever explain here, so if Travel Kits are something that interest you, you can purchase the e-book for \$12.45 by clicking here. The Old Schoolhouse Store has many other e-books for sale on all kinds of topics, so be sure to click around while you're there!

Please note: I received this product free of charge for the purpose of reviewing it and sharing my opinions with you. While I do get to keep the product, I was not compensated in any other way, and all my reviews represent my true feelings about the product.

### StartWrite Software

Have you heard of StartWrite? If not, read on--it has been an amazing resource for our homeschool this year. I absolutely love it!

StartWrite is a computer software program that allows you to customize your own handwriting worksheets for your child. There are tons of fonts to choose from, from manuscript to cursive, and even Handwriting Without Tears font (both their cursive and printing font). You can customize the lines (double, triple, dashed, etc) and you can even show starting points with a red dot or number the strokes with little arrows and numbers. You can also customize how dark you want the font, from gray to just dashed letters. AND, on top of all that, it comes with pic art both in color and black and white to incorporate into your worksheets (or you can import your own clip art). For some reason, StartWrite doesn't advertise on their website that they include HWT fonts, but for me that was the main reason I wanted this program.

Little Bean is finished with both the Kindergarten and First Grade HWT workbooks, and I really didn't want to buy another workbook for him. Instead, I would rather customize his worksheets and make copywork based on our history and poetry studies. With StartWrite, I've been able to do exactly that.

I use it for Miss O too. I print letters up for her to trace and or I do matching the beginning sound with letters and clip art. I also made little banners for their desks with stroke order and starting dots for some of the letters Little Bean tends to reverse and with some of the confusing letters with matching pictures for Miss O, who tends to miss the difference between letters like p, b, d and W and M.

You can get a free trial on their website that is fully functioning, but the catch is that you can only use it once before some of the functions stop working until you purchase the program. If you are look for something like this, I encourage you to download the free trial and see what you think. Anyway, for me, it was well worth the investment, and I know I'll be using it for years to come! Click on the banner in my sidebar or at the top of this post to go to their website and check out their product (in doing so, you will also benefit me as their affiliate). :)

## Monday, July 5, 2010

### Great coloring book!

We purchased this Melissa and Doug coloring book for Miss O for her birthday recently. It's a great coloring book, and for the price (around \$5), it was a perfect gift for Miss O. The pages are one sided so if you use markers it doesn't bleed onto the picture on the backside. The images are detailed and on high-quality bright white paper, and tear out easily. If you are in the market for a good coloring book, I highly recommend this one from Melissa and Doug.

Miss O loves to color, and she is really good at it for her age (just turning four). Here's her first masterpiece from this coloring book. :)