Thursday, March 29, 2012

F is for Free Homeschool Resources

OK, who doesn't like discovering totally fun free things on the net? When my oldest, now 17, was little, I remember being totally freaked out about the internet. It didn't make any sense to me and I was really worried about it (in a very uninformed way!) It makes me giggle now to think about how very much I use it--all the time, for just about everything under the sun! I am quite a Google aficionado.

So what can you find on the internet to help with your homeschool? Let's find out!

Monergism Books - A huge resource for many Christian theological books. All are free to download on this page. Another link on the same page for a whole other list of free downloadable Christian books!

Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop - Free downloads of creative and innovative science activities for every kind of science!

Free The World’s Greatest Artists Unit Study - I have to say that one of my favorite art resource books are the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist books. My children read them for fun and pleasure and not because they have to. This art study is based on them!

Free Printable Pages for Art History - I am taking this right from her site because it is exactly what I would say to summarize it! :) "This page is a summary of all our art appreciation lessons, art activities and downloads."

Free Printable Maps - I am thinking this one speaks for itself.

Science Internet Resources - This is a large page full of great resources found on the internet. Check it out!

Free Animal Classification Cards - Downloadable for you; created by a homeschool mama for her little one.

Homeschool Creations is the site where the Animal Classification Cards are, but she has a LOT more on the site and is very generous with her creations!

Google Lit Trips - From the website: Google Lit Trips allows students to tour the places where the characters they read about are living. This website has over 35 pre-created trips that teachers and students can download and run through Google Earth. The lit trips are easy to navigate and organized by grade level. The website also gives step by step instructions on how teachers can create their own lit trips, tips for using Google Earth and ideas for integrating Google Lit trips into your current curriculum. How fun is that? I know I have often wondered what certain places in some of my books really looked like. I wonder if they have Middle Earth? ;)

Khan Academy - Many of you probably know about this site for their math videos, but did you know they also have a HUGE list of other educational videos on all sorts of other subjects? From science to art history to currency to SAT Prep--if you are looking, they probably have a helpful video for it! I am particularly excited about their art history videos. You can see things right where they are. Love it!

Free Handwriting/Cursive Worksheet Maker! - I really like the flexibility of things like this. You can create copywork and handwriting pages with any text you wish. There are so many great quotes and Bible verses and catechism questions to choose from!

Free Continents and Oceans Printables - If you are studying either, this is for you!

Virtual Dissections Online - Not everyone really wants to cut up the animals shown here! There are some great choices and lots to learn here.

Free Art Lessons from Concordia University Chicago - More art lessons from an academic source. Lessons for grades 1-7, and downloadable lesson packets!

Donna Young - Many of you know about Donna Young, but wow, I just love this website. It has so many valuable downloadables/printables for free. It is absolutely worth clicking through if you have never been!

Free Audio Books - Self explanatory, but wow, there are so many great book choices here!

Free Paper Dolls to Print - These are available in all different time periods as well as modern. Easy to click, print on cardstock, color, cut, and play!

Free Interactive Video from NOVA: Another unique site to see all sorts of subjects covered via video. History, science, flight, military and espionage, and other subjects too.

100 Incredibly Useful YouTube Channels for Teachers - This is so huge and holds so many resources in one place, I am amazed I had not seen this before. 100 different video resources!

The Homeschool Mom - This mom compiled a huge page of freebies and bargains. It is worth running through as there are a lot of unusual resources there!

The Old Schoolhouse Store: Did you know there is a whole section devoted to freebies at the store? Well now you do. :) Don't miss the Free TOS Apps too that work for almost any phone or tablet. Read the magazine online for free too at: www.TOSMagazine.com.

Arts and Crafts Recipes - This page had some fun recipes to get a little crafty/dirty in your homeschooling. Go ahead clean moms, it is OK!

Cheap Homeschooling - The name says it all, right? :) This is another one of those websites that just has endless resources for your perusal.

Free iEducation for the Homeschooler - One of my favorite homeschool mamas shares her education apps for your children.

Free Kindle Books for Kids - Same awesome homeschool mama, different awesome resources for your children! :)

So, for those who think homeschooling has to be expensive; it doesn't! Enjoy!

F is for Free Homeschool Resources is part of Blogging Through the Alphabet. It isn't too late to join us!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lilla Rose - Pretty Hair for Free!

Jennifer from Lilla Rose contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in trying one of their beautiful hair clips out and offering one to my readers on my blog. How could I say no? So here you get to benefit from her generosity!

I was sent this very lovely Celtic Cross Medium Flexi-Clip. I wasn't sure what it would be like as I didn't know what they meant by the "Flexi" in the name. Sure enough the whole top design part of it is, wait for it... flexible! It molds around your hair and the base of the clip goes through it and meets the other side so that it holds your hair in place. I have tried it, and two of my daughters have tried it, and we have been quite rough with it while figuring out just how it would look the best on our heads--wrap over a bun, part up-part down, or French twist? The little Flexi held up to all our twists and bendings! There are many ways to do it:

While I love the Flexi-Clips, Lilla Rose also has other things that I did not try out, but I thought would be such fun!

They have Bobby Pins:

They have Hair Bands - aren't these pretty? I think my youngest daughters would adore these. They feel very princess-y to me, but I still think they would be lovely for women.
They have Hair Sticks - such fun! I have used pens forever and (ouch!) they hurt! I would much prefer something elegant like this! These are very old fashioned too. Hair sticks have been around for a long time. 
They have O Rings too that are perfect for pony tails.

And then, of course, they have a very large assortment of Flexi-Clips. Some of them, like the one shown, have faux gems and some are solid silver colored and some have a golden color to them. There is a wide variety.

There are a handful of other products that you can discover on your own, on the site, but these are my favorites. Make sure you watch the styling videos when you are considering which one you like the best. These were super helpful when I was trying to decide which size would work with my hair type. It really does make a difference!

Jennifer shared with me how and why she became involved with the Lilla Rose business:

I originally became a consultant with Lilla Rose because my girls and I enjoyed wearing our flexi-clips and were looking for a fun business to enjoy together. The flexi is beautiful, unique, and well-made. It is also very comfortable, and I completely agree with comments from customers that they no longer experience pony-tail headache! It also works in all types of hair, from baby-fine to super-thick.  The best thing about the flexi-clip is that I can do my hair beautifully in only seconds, and be ready for the day! I am a homeschooling mom of three, and I don't have time to mess with my hair. I am sure that most busy moms out there can certainly agree

Love that! I certainly don't have much time to fiddle with mine either! 

Jennifer, from Lilla Rose, is giving away one certificate, redeemable for a Flexi-Clip, or any Lilla Rose item of the winner's choice, valued up to $15. This giveaway is open to anyone in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

How to enter:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Real Joy

A friend of mine is undergoing treatment for cancer. Sometimes her strength is a puzzle to me because I can be so very weak in my own faith. It is shameful really, for I have been so very blessed. God is every day real and every day our Savior and Provider.

She shared a portion of Charles Spurgeon's sermon given December 31, 1871 in an email and I thought it was very powerful. It is based on Nehemiah 8:10 that says: "Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”"

A joyous man, such I have now in my mind's eye, is to all intents and purposes a strong man. He is strong in a calm restful manner. Whatever happens he is not ruffled or disturbed. He is not afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. 

The ruffled man is ever weak. He is in a hurry, and doth things ill. 

The man full of joy within is quiet, he bides his time and croucheth in the fulness of his strength. Such a man, though he is humble, is firm and steadfast; he is not carried away with every wind, or bowed by every breeze, he knows what he knows, and holds what he holds, and the golden anchor of his hope entereth within the veil, and holds him fast. 

His strength is not pretentious but real. The happiness arising from communion with God breeds in him no boastfulness; he does not talk of what he can do, but he does it; he does not say what he could bear, but he bears all that comes. He does not himself always know what he could do; his weakness is the more apparent to himself because of the strength which the Holy Ghost puts upon him; but when the time comes, his weakness only illustrates the divine might, while the man goes calmly on, conquering and to conquer. 

His inner light makes him independent of the outward sun; his secret granaries make him independent of the outer harvest; his inward fountains place him beyond dread though the brook Cherith may dry Up; he is independent of men and angels, and fearless of devils; all creatures may turn against him if they please, but since God himself is his exceeding joy, he will not miss their love or mourn their hate. He standeth where others fall, he sings where others weep, he wins where others fly, he glorifies his God where others bring dishonour on themselves and on the sacred name. 

God grant us the inward joy which arises from real strength and is so linked with it as to be in part its cause.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

E is for Eugène Delacroix

Eugène Delacroix? Yes! This is my "E" post for Blogging Through the Alphabet with Ben and Me!

His full name is Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix, and he was a French Romantic artist born April of 1798. He looks pretty serious and a little severe here, don't you think?

The warmth and vitality you find in his paintings are definitely not reflected here in this photograph of him. I think this self-portrait is much more friendly.

I think he looks a little dashing here--in a 19th century sort of way, of course. ;)

If you are a follower of Ambleside Online's art schedule, you may already be familiar with him as he was the Term 3 artist for last year's schedule, but I skipped him. His paintings are interesting to me because he painted many scenes from the Middle East and that is pretty unusual for this time period. 

In 1832, Delacroix traveled to Spain and North Africa, as part of a diplomatic mission to Morocco shortly after the French conquered Algeria. He went not primarily to study art, but to escape from the civilization of Paris, in hopes of seeing a more primitive culture. He eventually produced over 100 paintings and drawings of scenes from or based on the life of the people of North Africa, and added a new and personal chapter to the interest in Orientalism. Delacroix was entranced by the people and the costumes, and the trip would inform the subject matter of a great many of his future paintings. He believed that the North Africans, in their attire and their attitudes, provided a visual equivalent to the people of Classical Rome and Greece:

"The Greeks and Romans are here at my door, in the Arabs who wrap themselves in a white blanket and look like Cato or Brutus…"

Here is his Sultan of Morocco. Pay attention to the eyes. I love them. The horse matches the master!

(Click to enlarge all the paintings below.)

There are many versions of the painting below entitle, The Lion Hunt, as he must have had a fascination for it. I like the colors and the movement in this one. Even the trees seem to be moving with the violence of the hunters.

Here is a second one that I like less, but it has a lot of similarities. There is still a great deal of mayhem going on in this one! The people are less clear and the sky is prominent in the background. Which one do you like best?

Arab Horses Fighting in a Stable is a beautiful representation of two strong horses and what happens when their strength becomes dangerous for the human "controlling" them. I love the look of the horses here--their majesty is fully displayed. What do you think of it?

For you Shakespeare fans, Delacroix painted some of his works too. This is one I particularly like. It is called Hamlet with Horatio, (the gravedigger scene).

I am partial to the sky in paintings (and in real life--I love the clouds). Sky scenes are often so telling. Backgrounds of painting are fascinating to me too as sometimes artists put much of themselves into the background. It is worth noting.

Here I veer from showcasing his wilder works, and share a few of his softer lovelier works. This is so different from the other paintings that is doesn't seem that it could be painted by Delacroix. This is called A Vase of Flowers on a Console.

I love the lush background here with the fabric and gold frame on the right. It is obviously from a very wealthy home as flowers like this would have cost quite a bit! I love the flowers though and think they are just lovely. His use of light is beautiful here.

I really like this last one. It is called Orphan Girl at the Cemetery.

Look at her eyes. Don't you wonder what she is looking at? She is lovely I think, but clearly poor. It is a truly fascinating painting to me. I would love to know who she was. This is the Wiki info on this:

Believed to be a preparatory work in oil for the artist's later Massacre at Chios, Orphan Girl at the Cemetery is nevertheless considered a masterpiece in its own right. An air of sorrow and fearfulness emanates from the picture, and tears well from the eyes of the grief-stricken girl as she looks apprehensively upward. The background depicts her melancholy; in the dimness of the sky and the abandoned laying-ground. The girl's body language and clothing evoke tragedy and vulnerability: the dress drooping down from her shoulder, a hand laid weakly on her thigh, the shadows above the nape of her neck, the darkness at her left side, and the cold and pale coloring of her attire. All these are combined to emphasize a sense of loss, of unreachable hope, her isolation, and the absence of any means of help, as she is also looking on toward an unseen and unknown spectacle or spectre.

For Delacroix, colors were the most important ingredients for his paintings. Because of this artistic taste and belief, he did not have the patience to create facsimiles of classical statues. He revered Peter Paul Rubens and the Venetians. He chose the use of colorful hues and exotic themes for his paintings, drawing inspiration from other inspirational places, resulting in works described as glossy and abundant with movement.

Not only did he paint, but he also illustrated several books. Sir Walter Scott, Shakespeare, and Goethe are among them. Here are some of his lithographs.

This last bit of information was too good to leave out. As I was looking at his artwork I could not miss the way some of it felt a little Impressionistic to me. Now I understand why. He was a forerunner and set the stage for them. I found the following here.

In the history of art Delacroix is relevant because of the example he set for the impressionists. He used a rough but swinging brushstroke, experimented with colours and light and sometimes neglected proper use of perspective: all typical elements of the impressionist style. Some see him as the link between the classic style of the old masters and the modern movements that arose in the 19th century.

Eugène Delacroix died in 1863 and was buried at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. He created over 850 oil paintings and more than 2000 drawings and watercolours. Among his works were many with a religious subject, tempting some to consider this worldly Parisian the most important religious artist of the 19th century.

Enjoy these paintings! 

May God be the center of your week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

News and Excitement at TOS!

I wanted to share this fantastic TOS email  from Gena with you all. There is so much going on!!

I wanted to drop you a quick line and give you the latest with TOS magazine. As you all know, the magazine is now open access. You can get it online anytime at  www.TOSMagazine.com, but you can also download the TOS app totally free at the Apple Store here or the Android Market here.

SchoolhouseTeachers.comSo, SchoolhouseTeachers.com--have you checked it out yet? If you are a paid subscriber to TOS magazine, you are automatically grandfathered into the highest level of membership we have, the ULTIMATE level. This means you get all of the new planners totally free. Last year even though you were a subscriber, you still had to buy the new Schoolhouse Planners at full price. Not this year, they're free Schoolhouse Plannerto you if you're a subber. So that's pretty cool.
If you are not a TOS subscriber or SchoolhouseTeachers.com member, you have to see the new platform. We are bringing on new content DAILY. New Teachers are signing up to bring you assignments, lesson plans, projects to do with your kids, and I'm even talking with a software company in the UK right now about a typing/keyboarding license for all members, if they go for the deal. LOTS of deals are in the works; and for the rest of March ONLY, the Ultimate membership is just a buck for the first month. In April, the trial will be $2. So get in now while you still have a little time.

TOS LogoDid you know Molly Green woke UP? Check out the new cover for April here.

This is another very inexpensive monthly membership that hundreds have joined already in just the last few weeks. If you read Molly Green Magazine and apply even one of the tips Molly gives each month, the magazine will probably not only pay for itself, but save you loads all year long. Use this as a home economics/finance supplement in your homeschool with your young and older teens. It is GREAT. If you have never tried out Molly, email me for a free sample issue and I'll have one sent over: gena@tosmag.com.

Meanwhile, check out the new cover here and then sign up so you get it on time.

Pretty exciting, isn't it? I thought you would want to know too. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Welcome indeed!

I hope you have a lovely day celebrating the Irish in you! (or not...) :D

Here is part of a poem Saint Patrick wrote. I thought it was beautiful.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Have a beautiful day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

D is for Delicious

Absolutely delicious! That is the strength of my love of Saint Patrick's Day food. It is only ONE day away! But really, it just gives us a good reason as homeschoolers to think about the person that really did help transform the gorgeous green island of Ireland. I am reposting something I shared seven years ago about the real Saint Patrick. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did--and I hope you enjoy your Saint Patrick's Day dinner!

Replica of the cross at Clonmacnoise.
This place was utterly enchanting.
Who Was the Real St. Patrick?

There are many legends and traditions associated with St. Patrick's Day. Who was the real St. Patrick? St. Patrick was not actually Irish. he was born around 373 A.D. in the British Isles near the modern city of Dumbarton in Scotland. His real name was Maewyn Succat. He took the name of Patrick, or Patricius, meaning "well-born" in Latin, after he became a priest.

During Patrick's boyhood, the Roman empire was near collapse and too weak to defend its holdings in distant lands. Britain became easy prey for raiders, including those who crossed the Irish sea from the land known as Hibernia or Ireland. When Patrick was sixteen, he was seized by raiders and carried off to Ireland.

Most of what is known about St. Patrick comes from his own Confession, written in his old age. In his Confession he wrote about his capture:

As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken captive ... I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft ... And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity -- benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.

After Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave by an Irish chieftain named Niall, he was sold to another chieftain in northern Ireland. Much of Patrick's time was spent alone on the slopes of Slemish Mountain, tending his master's flocks of sheep. During the long, lonely hours in the fields and hills of Ireland, Patrick found comfort in praying. In his Confession he wrote:

... every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed -- the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; ... and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me -- as now I see, because the spirit within me was fervent.

Six years passed slowly by. Then in a dream, Patrick heard a voice saying, "Thy ship is ready for thee." This was God's way, he felt, of telling him to run away. That night he fled. Assured God was leading him, Patrick plunged through the bogs and scaled the mountains which separated him from the sea. He escaped Ireland by ship, but God would call him back years later. Patrick had escaped his boyhood enslavement in Ireland only to hear the call of God as a man to return. He was being called on, he felt, to convert the Irish to Christianity. In his Confession Patrick wrote:

I saw a man named Victoricus, coming from Ireland with countless letters. He gave me one of them and I read the opening words which were: The voice of the Irish ... I thought at the same moment I heard their voice: 'We beg you, young man, come and walk among us once more.' And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I woke up. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them according to their cry. 

... they call me most unmistakably with words which I heard but could not understand, except that ... He spoke thus: 'He that has laid down His life for thee, it is He that speaketh in thee;' and so I awoke full of joy.

When Patrick began his mission about 430 A.D., Ireland was gripped by paganism, idolatry prevailed and the Irish knew nothing of Jesus. Patrick decided to go first to the pagan chieftain or king who had enslaved him as a boy. Rather than be put to shame by a former slave, the king set fire to his house and threw himself into the flames.

Patrick then set out for Tara, the seat of the high king of Ireland. When Patrick arrived, Tara was filled with many local kings and druids who were attending the pagan feast of Beltine which coincided with Easter that year. Patrick encamped in the full view of the castle to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.

On the eve of the festival it was the custom, upon penalty of death, that the high king should light the first bonfire before any others in the land. Patrick, however, had kindled a great fire which gleamed through the darkness. Patrick was summoned before the king. The confrontation which followed is as amazing as Elijah's victory over the prophets of Baal.

Patrick stood and called, May God arise and His enemies be scattered. Darkness fell on the camp. Confused guards began to attack one another. The ground shook and the next day, Easter, a broken king knelt before God's servant. This confrontation between Patrick's God and demonic forces marked the beginning of a thirty-year mission to Ireland.

Patrick traveled the roads and forded the rivers of Ireland for 30 years to see men and women "reborn in God' and come to know the Christ he loved so much. Patrick wrote in his Confession:

We ought to fish well and diligently, as our Lord exhorts. Hence, we spread our nets so that a great multitude and throng might be caught for God.

By the time of his death, Patrick had baptized tens of thousands and established hundreds of churches throughout Ireland. Danger and hardship remained his constant companions. Twice he was imprisoned, but he was not discouraged. He wrote in his Confession:

Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.
Within a century this once pagan land became predominately Christian, possessing such a vigorous faith that Ireland in turn sent missionaries to Scotland, England, Germany and Belgium. As an old man, Patrick looked back in awe:

Those who never had knowledge of God but worshipped idols ... have now become ... sons of God.
The old saint died in his beloved Ireland on March 17th, 460 A.D. The land that once enslaved him, had now been set free.

Note: One of the most popular legends attributed to Patrick is that he used the shamrock as a visual aid to teach the principle of the Trinity. This story cannot be verified. However, from his writings it is evident the doctrine of the Trinity was central in his teaching.
(Story taken from here.) 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Late Night Musings

What I'm thinking: That it is a hard thing to be a good woman. Well, OK, it is impossible. I have struggled all day and all last week with not  being a particularly great women, wife, or mother. I have been quick to anger, fast to speak, and slow to listen. It was a hard day today and it makes me realize all the more how very much I need my Savior. Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me!

What I'm reading: A lot of history resources today. I am in planning mode for next year so I spent some time in my new TruthQuest book, Age of Revolution III. I am impressed by the resources found in this book and by the zealousness of the author in sharing His-story. TruthQuest is new to me, but I already like it. I also spent some time reading Notgrass' Exploring America that I reviewed here. I appreciate being able to read two different explanations for historical events. These books handle history in varying ways and I like that.

What I'm listening to: The quiet that comes from late night blogging. My keyboard is very loud.

What we're learning: This week we are reading the March Celestial Almanack and watching Venus and Jupiter get closer and closer. It is something to look up in the sky and actually know what you are looking at! We will be studying several early American pieces of art this week. I will post later on and share them with you. In our Apologia, Who Am I? study, we will be learning if we can trust our feelings. I am guessing the answer is no. :)

What I'm watching: The sky, my children grow up before me, and a new dog learn his place.

What's cooking: Chicken and more chicken and beans, and blah. Until Saturday!! Saturday is a big special family day for us with Great Grandma (who is 93!) and a special aunt and uncle. Think Irish. :D

What I'm buying: Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, brown mustard, Guinness, and all the ingredients for Irish Soda Bread. That recipe is golden, but don't use margarine! Use real butter!

What I'm thankful for: A longsuffering Savior.

What I'm creating: Lesson plans for next year's co-op history. I don't really like lesson planning because I get so distracted by stories I find and want to read them. LOL

What I'm praying: That I would be a better woman--and what all that means. That the Lord would make me into His vessel. That what comes from my mouth, my heart, and my mind would glorify Him.

What I'm planning: For this Saturday!

What we did this last weekend: Had a great Saturday of volleyball, great food and fellowship with friends as we send off a dear young man to boot camp. May God bless and keep him, make His face to shine upon him, and give him His peace as he faces unknown people, places, things, and orders!

What I'm looking forward to: Saint Patrick's Day! I have linked to this old post before, but for those of you new to this blog, and my love of all things Irish, here is a neat post about an ancient Irish treasure that I saw in person over 20 years ago. It is just gorgeous!

A picture to share: There are so many beautiful photos of the Book of Kells out there, but here is another one of my favorites, the Four Evangelists.  Clockwise from top left: a man (Matthew), a lion (Mark), an eagle (John) and an ox (Luke). The link above will enlarge the manuscript. It is just beautiful.

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Have a beautiful week.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday to Gena

I wrote this in 2005, but I feel the exact same way today. :)

I have a friend who’s fine and true,
Who stands by me when life gets blue.
She is the kind who does not wait,
When she sees me in some sort of straight.

I know she has a great big heart,
She listens well and is very smart.
But what I think comes most to mind,
It’s loyalty and that’s hard to find.

She’s there for you when things are bleak,
When life unravels, she is not weak.
She helps you to keep looking high,
To our great Sovereign in the sky.

This is the day of her great birth,
That fills us all with joy and mirth.
For friends like this come few and rarely,
And I will treasure her verily verily!

Happy Birthday, Dear Friend,

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

C is for Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 tells us this.
And He did.

I love studying creation because it never grows old and there is always more to learn. I love books that help us understand how it happened and what came before us. I thought I would use my Blogging Through the Alphabet this week to showcase some of our favorite books we use when we study it. 

The Creation Story is a beautiful book with the most gorgeous artwork. There is so much to see on every page and so many wonderful things to sit on the couch and discuss with your children. The bounty of God's creative hand is shown in a lovely way.

The book is almost entirely scripture--which is pretty incredible since the publisher is DK. I used to be a distributor with DK many moons ago when they still did that and some beautiful books have come from them. Norman Messenger is the creative work behind the art. He has a very unique eye and pen and the animals and plants are beautifully portrayed.

Next up is In the Days of Noah. This is a thorough covering of the story that leads up to Noah's flood with great pictures of what it might have looked like both of the building process, on the ark, and after they left it. The second section of the book has the family of Adam, the genealogy given in scripture, the lineage and achievements as well as the tribes and nations that came from Noah's sons.

There is a wonderful questions and answers section found here too that covers all sorts of subject matter. From questions about history or whether or not it is even possible that the whole world flooded; these are all discussed here. Science topics abound from fossil formation to animal migration. It even discusses the flood legends from other lands and what that means for Christians. There is only one portion of this book that is unfortunate. It includes a photo of something that was hoped to be the remains of a dinosaur that was later proved to be a decomposing shark. This is a very tiny part of what is otherwise a really fascinating book. The newer versions of this book may no longer even have that.

Another book on Noah's Ark that is geared for younger children is, The True Story of Noah's Ark. This is a smaller book than the others, but don't let that put you off. There is an audio CD as well as a fold-our panorama of what they think the inside of the ark might have looked like.

The whole story of the destruction of the antediluvian world is shown with vivid illustrations. This is a very visually-oriented book. If you want something to help you understand how the global flood could have come about that is totally understandable for little ones, this is it.

If I had to choose just one book to help me understand and explain the post-flood world to my children, this is it. I have used this book so many times in the course of my homeschooling that I consider it invaluable.

Life in the Great Ice Age is so accessible and usable and the story is just fascinating. What did the world look like after the flood? What does the ice age have to do with it? What caused the ice age? How did people live and how come they looked so different? It is such a good book!

The second part of this book covers some intriguing subjects. What was the climate like? What does cave art tell us? How about animals that are now extinct. Did they live alongside man? How do we as Christians deal with Neanderthals? Did ancient man use a land bridge to get from continent to continent as they migrated? There are so many good questions answered in this book!

This last book for today showcases all sorts of creatures that really lived, but we can be almost glad they don't anymore. They are fearsome creatures and utterly captivating. Dragons of the Deep: Ocean Monsters Past & Present is the book to which I refer and it is a favorite of my son.

This has such vivid pictures of ancient ocean dwelling creatures that are really wonderful to behold. It shows the length and look of these marine reptiles and compares them to things we are familiar with like a car or modern day shark--or a diver!

The paintings within are beautifully created and bring the creatures to life. I sometimes wonder if all of these are really extinct. The ocean is a deep place with many hiding places! I love the story of the Coelacanth. These same creatures are found in the fossil layers where dinosaurs are, yet they live today. You never know! There may be dragons yet!

I have enjoyed sharing my C is for Creation post. I hope you have enjoyed my book treasures. What are your favorite resources for studying creation?

Monday, March 05, 2012

My Monday Musings...Cause It's Monday!

What I'm thinking: I am thinking how very blessed I am that I get to be here at home with my children every day. I get to watch them grow, listen to them play, read with them, teach them, and get to be their mama. I am a blessed woman.

What I'm reading: After a fairly lengthy hiatus due to the initially overwhelming task of running the most amazing Crew there ever was, I am back to reading The Lord of the Rings to the children. I link to this beautiful edition because it is the one my husband gave me in 2004. It is a lovely hardback book with a slipcase and a pull-out map. If you know the story, the Ents have finished their work in Isenguard and Merry and Pippin are enjoying a few "well earned comforts..." I love reading this to the children!

What I'm listening to: The sound of silence.

What we're learning: How we are made in the image of God and how each one of us has gifts and talents that we use to glorify Him. What are yours?

What I'm watching: Tonight we watched Hook. It has been a long time since I watched this movie! There is a bit of sass in it, but that is to be expected with Robin Williams as Peter Pan and a whole group full of lost boys! It was a fun ride and we all laughed quite a bit. Dame Maggie Smith was in it! That was a joyful surprise.

What's cooking: I made turkey and veggie meatloaf tonight. I rediscovered the recipe some time ago and realized that I actually like it and so does my family. Who knew?

What I'm buying: Nothing at all because I did a little too much of that already this week. Eek!

What I'm thankful for: Good friends I have never yet set eyes upon yet they are gifts of God to me. You know who you are and you are loved.

What I'm creating: My last art history class for my first co-op group. Sniff. The time has come to say goodbye to this group, but I will enjoy our meeting day together one last time.

What I'm praying: That God would work His perfect will, that He would be glorified in all I do, say, and write. That my friend's husband would recover from a very painful bout of gall bladder discomfort.

What I'm planning: Food and logistics for the weekend. We are heading to the foothills for some good old fashioned frolic, fun, food, and fellowship. Can't wait!!

What we did this last weekend: We had two delightful little elves here with us to share our Saturday. Sunday brought us fellowship at church and a drowsy day! Love those kinds of Sundays!

What I'm looking forward to: Spring planting! The world is coming alive around here as evidenced by the fact that allergy season is kicking in. I am not quite ready for THAT.

A picture to share: One of the gold spikes used to bring together the eastern and western railroads when the Transcontinental Railroad was finished in Utah in 1869. This was taken at the California State Railroad Museum. It is well worth going to if you are ever in the Sacramento area.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

'Twas a Pretty Saturday

I do love days where it is gorgeous outside and today fit that kind of day. It wasn't too hot and wasn't too cold and I got a lot done on a day where we had two smallish guests that were scampering about the house with us! We began it by going to the feed store. Our chickens needed some food (and I just knew there would be baby chicks there) so off we headed. 
There were baby chicks. I tell you, it is all I can do not to buy more, but we really don't have the room! Eight is enough! (To all my 80's readers, I know you just thought of the show...hee hee!)

From there we headed to a nursery and then to Home Depot to buy soil and seed because I have been itching to fill my glorious salad tables

You can't see it in this picture, but we have snap peas planted in one of these boxes and today I planted arugula and cilantro. I have two of these beds and the chicken run is underneath the beds. I LOVE this set-up as it allows me to double use the space. My hens have been laying like crazy! It is such great fun for my youngest to proudly bring in the daily haul. These ladies are the best. 

In addition to what I planted today, I bought radish, beet, turnip, and basil to plant in these beds as well as flowers for my youngest. I have an herb section and will have a bush bean section as well. I may raise that part so that the beans have more root room, but we shall see. I am making do with what I have even though I would like the beds to be higher/deeper. I just bought two Early Girl tomatoes and they will share an EarthBox when I get around to planting them. I am excited about summer already (well, OK, about summer produce, but NOT about summer. :+)

Are you planning your garden or are you still under winter snow? I love this time of year. Not even the weeds deter me--and there are a lot of them! They will do so in a few months, but not now. I can plant anything in my Bermuda grass-infested backyard--at least in my mind anyway! 

Happy planning and happy planting! May the Lord bless your harvest!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

What is K5 Learning?

Good question! I didn't know what K5 Learning was either until about five weeks ago. I was given a two-month trial to review the online learning program. Designed as an after-school study program to help children from kindergarten to grade 5, this program teaches math, reading, and spelling.

From the website:

K5 Reading helps kids become strong readers and develop a love of reading. This award-winning program covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

K5 Spelling is an advanced vocabulary program which improves language skills one word at a time. We feature adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, an optimized visual interface, and a 150,000+ word database.

K5 Math is an award-winning program which builds self confidence and a deep understanding of math concepts. K5 Math covers numbers and operations, geometry, measurement (including time and money), algebraic thinking and data analysis.

K5 Math Facts uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Progress on each and every math fact is monitored until mastery is obtained.

I had two of my children use this program at different levels and in different areas. We started with  K5 Reading. First, we logged into the program and set the grade levels for the children. If you don't know the reading level for your child, there is an online reading assessment you can take. It looks like this. Click to enlarge.

The dashboard (below - click to enlarge) is not too complicated. You can view reports of your child's progress, assign your child specific assignments and lessons, add special words to their spelling lesson they are having trouble with, and change the settings for spelling. There is a Help Center, a Worksheet Center, and a whole host of other helpful information to help your child suceed.  It is easy to have questions addressed by an exchange with the company via email if you get stuck.

Here is a sample of one of the reading screenshots. She is learning the "ar" sound here. The person reads the sentence to her (or she can read it herself) and then she clicks the correct word with the "ar" sound.

We found this a helpful program, but my daughter thought it was a little slow. If she could have picked up the pace, or if the program would have allowed her to click through once she had the answer without having to listen to the explanation again, she would enjoyed the program a little more. This isn't necessarily a negative - some people like a more easy-going review pace, but she was anxious to keep going. 

K5 Spelling was my personal favorite of all four. It is really simple yet works well. This video explains it so well that I am sharing it here. 

My daughter has a hard time with spelling and this focused on what she knew and built upon it. I loved this part of K5 Learning!

K5 Math is a great program. It is "...comprised of over 1,200 research-based tutorials and activities aimed at building your child’s understanding, confidence and success in math. The program is based on national instructional guidelines and on best practices employed by teachers and math specialists." 

When you load the appropriate level, and click the start button, you are immediately brought to a screen that tells you the learning objectives for that lesson. It looks like this:

Then, once the lesson loads, the screen for learning comes up. The narrator tells your child what to do and your child figures out the lesson after the instructions.

The program is colorful and interesting and certainly keeps the attention of the child. This is another example of how they teach the concepts. I am a big proponent of place value so I appreciate that they show this way of learning to the children. 

Here is a sample of the learning objectives for a higher level.

This is a screenshot of part of how it works.

One of my daughters really loved this way of learning as all she has ever used is textbooks. This was entirely new to her and she liked the way it worked for her. I think she would choose it for her forever program if she could do so!

K5 Math Facts is the last area of K5 Learning that we explored. This does exactly what it says it does--teaches the math facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This is what it looks like from the student's perspective. It begins with an explanation of the facts being learned like this:

Then your child practices them:

As you can see, they are colorful and interesting. Dare I say... fun? You can set the speed for your child too.

Pricing for K5 Learning are as follows:

Monthly Subscription:
First Child....................$25.00
Additional Children.....$15.00

Annual Subscription:
First Child....................$199.00
Additional Children.....$129.00

A two week free trial is available so you can see if this style of learning fits your family. The trial includes free reading and math assessments, the two weeks of free lessons, no future obligtations, and you don't have to enter a credit card to check it out. 

One of the neat aspects of this program is the multi-cultural aspect it has throughout all the learning screens. You will meet people of all shapes and sizes as well as colors. I liked that.

It helps to see what things look like. You can see some sample lessons at that link. K5 Learning is a solid, interesting, and educational program for your K-5 child. If there are areas in which your child needs a little help, I suggest you check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well it works for you.

See what the other Crew members thought about it here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.