Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Fun: Unity Fest

Last week we got a chance to go to Unity Fest.  Unity Fest is a four day concert festival featuring Christian music artists.  It starts mid-afternoon each day and at the end of the day was the main concert of the night.  We didn't see every band that was there because we were camping too and wanted to enjoy the campground and the beach.  So we decided for our family that we would go over later in the day and hear the main artists for the evening.  We got a chance to see Crowder, Plumb, MercyMe, Citizen Way, and Casting Crowns.  If we would have stayed for Saturday night's concert we would have seen For King and Country, but we had something going on Sunday and needed to be back earlier so I could be awake early on Sunday.  So I am sad that we missed seeing For King and Country, but I am so glad we saw the other bands.  The music was amazing and refreshing to my soul.  I love music and it was great to hear some of the "why" behind some of my favorite Christian songs.  Today I wanted to share the one thing I really took away from this festival.  It is my reminder that when I give it all to God, it is well with my soul...
This video is one I took of MercyMe and their song "Even If" and it may be my favorite moment from the whole festival. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Review of God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco

I have been homeschooling for 11 years and we are getting ready to start our 12th year of homeschooling.  While I am considered a veteran homeschooler, I don't claim to know it all or have it all together.  Honestly there are times that everything homeschooling feels like it is falling apart.  This is why I do my homework and read books about homeschooling and the methods that people are using.  I was curious to see what the book God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco would be about when I was given the chance to review it recently.
God Schooling book
Julie Polanco is no stranger to homeschooling since she has homeschooled her four children.  She has tried several methods of homeschooling before God lead her to her God Schooling.  This way of teaching her children has lead to better results for her so she wrote a book to share about it.
Julie Polanco Books
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn has 163 pages.  There are 9 chapters along with concluding remarks, an author biography, and a bibliography.  The book itself is divided into two parts.  The first part, Dispelling Myths features chapters on Biblical Support for Natural Learning and Motivation & Excellence.  The second part, Practice, contains the other seven chapters and this is where the author shares her thoughts and experiences on how she put God Schooling into practice.  The second part also has chapters on getting started, questions and answers to those questions, and ideas for record-keeping and structure.  At the end of each chapter of the book, there are study questions for helping you dig deeper into what you have read.  This book focuses on helping your children prepare for God's calling on their life through unschooling.  If you are unfamiliar with unschooling, it focuses on child-led learning without a set curriculum.  The author tells how unschooling worked for her and her family.  She sites studies and quotes other authors that support unschooling methods.  She also has many Scripture references that support her views on this subject.

I read this book because I was curious about what the author had to say and what God Schooling was.  I have to be honest and tell you that there are parts of this book that I completely agree with, but there is a large part that I just found hard to read.  I completely agree that are many different styles of homeschooling and what works for one family may not work for another family.  That is truly the beauty of homeschooling, you can make your school yours and do what is best for your student.  I completely agree that as a Christian you should seek God's will for your school and your students and I do my best to do that.  I have even felt God leading me to change some things for our upcoming school year.  Ultimately He knows the path He has for my children and I want to be sensitive to that and follow God's leading.
I felt like the author stated repeatedly that your schooling should be child-led and they should not be forced to learn things they are not interested in.  While I agree with this to a degree, I do hold a different opinion.  I do give my students options in our school and I do ask them for ideas of what they would like to learn about.  We take their opinions and ideas and try to incorporate them in to our learning in some fashion.  Ultimately if I left it up to my students to decide what they learn and when they learn they would not choose any core subjects if they chose to do school at all.  Also the author broke the learning process into stages according to ages - under 8, 8-12, and teens.  I liked some of the things she had to suggest about learning in these stages like encouraging entrepreneurship and service, but other general statements left me shaking my head.  An example of this is the author's statement on page 78 about 8-12 year olds:
"He can conceptualize learning, he can understand rule-based behavior and learning, and he can apply his mind to anything that he can see with his eyes or that he can see in his mind's eye.  He most likely cannot yet work on problems that require deductive logic or that require an understanding of the abstract." 
I felt like this statement was presented as a blanket statement for 8-12 year olds everywhere and there are so many kids in this age range that I feel this statement does not define, my own 9 year old included.  She understands abstract items and can use deductive logic with them.  I also felt that this contradicted the author's statements where she encouraged letting children think outside of the box and be super creative and abstract.  The two thoughts really seemed to contradict each other.  She seemed to me to suggest that real learning doesn't start much before 10 years old and there are very few people that I know this to be the case for.  I do agree that you shouldn't force learning when a child is really struggling to learn a concept, but that doesn't mean you just skip it altogether, to me it means you try teaching it a different way or wait for a different time.  She also seemed to contradict herself when she was discussing getting started in unschooling.  She specifically stated on page 133 to "throw out curriculum catalogs, homeschool magazines, and related publications."  Her reasoning for this was because these items keep her enslaved to a "school mentality."  Then reading the author's bio it states that she writes articles for a homeschool magazine and their blog, along with being an instructor for one of their classes.  This doesn't match up for me. I find the homeschool magazines to be a source of encouragement in my homeschool journey.  
I did appreciate some of her thoughts for teens.  She was very practical about helping your teen decide if college is for them because it isn't for everyone.  I did like that encouraged flexibility in what you count as curriculum for high school credits.  This is an area I have been thinking a lot about because I do have a high school student.  I also appreciated her chapter on the different kinds of learners.  She related learning styles to being a guest at a banquet and the different ways the guests choose to feast.  This was just a reminder for me that I do have two completely different guests at my learning table and that it is okay to cater to each of them.  I did like the overall reminder that unschooling means being present with your children as they learn and walking through the learning with them.  I needed that reminder so that I remember as I plan out our upcoming school year, I can adjust my schedule so that our school time is just school time and I focus on the rest of the things we need to do after school.  

I know that this probably seems like a wishy-washy review.  I struggled with it.  I do have a teaching background and at one time held a teaching license and I really struggled with this book.  There were parts that spoke to me, but for every part that spoke to me there were two or three that I just couldn't agree with.  I think this is one of those books that you have to read for yourself and take away what you will from it.  I got that I need to focus on being even more present in our school and that it is okay for our homeschool to look different than what others do.  You can learn more about God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn here.  You can learn more about Julie Polanco, the author, on her website, Facebook, and Pinterest.  You can read what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew learned from this book by clicking on the banner below.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, Julie Polanco is currently offering the e-book for half price until August 22, 2018.
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Review of Paddington Bear from Branch Out World

It's no secret that I really like using lapbooks, notebooking, and unit studies in our homeschool.  This style of learning works well in our school.  I have used it for history, science, and music in the past, but I know that it can be used for other subjects as well.  This is why I was interested in having Missy try out a Lit Study on Paddington Bear from Branch Out World.
Picture Book Explorers - Paddington, A Glimpse of Normal
Branch Out World knows about homeschooling because they are a family that has homeschooled their own children.  They design literature-based unit studies that are based on books that have a link to the United Kingdom where they are from.  Their unit studies are different because they take simple picture books and create in-depth studies from them.  These studies are created so that you can adjust them to your students and they can be used with multiple ages.  They are also designed to include many different activities such as mini books, quizzes, notebooking pages, flags, and maps to keep students engaged and learning.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
We received the Paddington Bear lit-based unit study from Branch Out World's Picture Book Explorers series for this review.  It came as a digital download and focuses on the book Paddington by Michael Bond.  If you are not familiar with this story, it is about a bear that Mr. and Mrs. Brown find at Paddington station in England.  This bear was a stowaway on a ship from Peru and once the Browns find him, he has many adventures and mishaps.  This unit study is designed for children ages 5-10 and includes over 30 activities and 45 printable pages that help you complete those activities.  The way the study works is that students are supposed to read the book every day for 5 days.  Each day after the book is read, there are activities to complete.  Each day focuses on a different aspect of the book and it is easy to adapt each lesson to the level of learning that your student is at.  Day one focuses on the setting, day two is all about the words, day three is about the pictures, day four is about science, and day five is about math, crafts, and more.  The study includes an appendix that has maps, flags, a timeline, fact sheets, and all the activity sheets you need.
A Glimpse of Normal
Initially I wondered if a unit study for a picture book could really work for my 5th grader, but I can tell you that once I got this study downloaded and started reading through it, I knew that Missy would love it.  She has watched the Paddington movie and loved it so I knew that she would love reading the book and seeing where they got that story from.  We got the book by Michael Bond from the library and she started reading it right away.  It is an easy read for her since she is older, but I knew from looking through the study that there can be more to the story if you really look at it.  The directions for the study give many options for doing the work and I chose for Missy to make a logbook, but in order to make it feel more adventurous, we called it her Travel Log and I had her do a combination of notebooking, scrapbooking, and journaling in her Travel Log.  After she read through the book each day, she would work through the activities.  Through the activities she learned about the countries of England and Peru.  She had fun researching facts about each country.  She was amazed and grossed out that guinea pigs are used as meat in Peru.  She also worked on the map activities for each country.  Through reading the book and using the study we were able to discuss what migration is and how it might feel to be an immigrant.  This was something she had never really thought about before, but after talking about it and doing the activity page on it, Missy decided that she would be nervous and a little scared if she had to move to a new country.  She also enjoyed day two where she learned about the author.  She has really been getting into writing lately so learning about the author and the "why" behind the book was fun for her.  She wasn't as excited to learn about the grammar, but after we discussed how important it is in writing she agreed that she does need to learn about that too.  She enjoyed the other days in the study too.  She liked learning about the different parts of the Browns' house and learning the right terms for the architecture.  Missy liked using the pictures to find the details.  She also liked learning about drawing since this is one of her favorite things to do.  She had a lot of fun completing the activity on overlapping and then working on contrast and position.  Missy liked researching the different bears of Peru and learning about them.  There are a few activities that we did not get to complete yet that Missy is really looking forward to.  She can't wait to make foam (there are recipes for edible and non-edible foam), strawberry tarts, and marmalade.  We didn't get to these activities because they are ones that take a little more time and we have been busy lately.  So we are planning to work on them on the next rainy day.
A Glimpse of Normal
Missy and I both really enjoyed this lit-based unit study.  She said she had a lot of fun and that she didn't know a book like Paddington had so much in it.  I thought the study was very thorough and it included a lot of concepts to teach, activities to complete, and lots of extra resources and ideas for going even further and studying more.  I could see how easy this study would be to use with students of multiple ages and I could see how you can easily adapt it to require more or less from your student depending on their age.  I liked the repetition of reading the book multiple times because it helped Missy focus on and look for other things in the book.  I felt like it was a well-rounded and complete unit study.  I liked that it covered so many topics and subjects.  We would recommend this Paddington Bear study and we would recommend checking out their other studies in their Picture Book Explorers series too.  You can find out more about the Paddington study here.  You can learn more about Branch Out World on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  You can also read more about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this study by clicking the banner below.
Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Changes Are A Brewing

Changes are a brewing around our house.....
A Glimpse of Normal, Changes Are A Brewing

We will soon start a new school year and I am in the middle of planning it.  We will be changing up some things and trying some new things.  I think this is what every new school year brings...change.  We are also still making changes around our home in the form of more home improvements on our barn.  I hope to get around to sharing some of them with you soon.  I am still working on making changes to my overall health.  That is a process and a journey.  There are other changes coming too.  I am not sure what they all look like right now so I don't want to share before they are fully developed.  There are a couple I can tell you.
  • A sad change is that our outdoor cat, Waldo, passed away.  He was a good cat and even though he tripped us more times than not, we will miss him and his antics.  
  • I have always called my daughter Little Miss on the blog.  She is getting older and from now on I will refer to her as Missy.
  • I have always called my son Buddy on the blog.  He is a teenager now and would prefer to be called CJ on my blog
  • .We have changed up where our playroom is.  It use to share a room with our guest room, but it wasn't great for playing.  Now our loft has become the playroom.  I am hoping to get some pictures up soon.
  • A huge change...I have a chauffeur now.  Okay so the truth of this one is that CJ has his learner's permit, but it also means he wants to drive everywhere.  
Stay tuned for more on the changes around here.  I am sure you will see them in the next few months as I get caught up sharing things with you.  For now, we are off on an adventure...tune in next week for more.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Review of the Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods

I have learned in our home school that if I can make learning fun, my students learn better and tend to retain more facts.  This is why we have enjoyed so many of the products that Home School in the Woods has developed.  Since we have liked using their products in the past, I was curious to see what my daughter would think of Wonders of the World from the Hands-on History Lap-Pak collection from Home School in the Woods when we received it for review recently.
Home School in the Woods
Home School in the Woods is a family run company that understands homeschooling since it was created when the Pak's began their own homeschooling journey.  Amy saw the need to make history come alive so that  her own children were not bored.  She started pulling together resources and used them along with others that she created to start the business.  Now her whole family is involved and they each have their own unique role at Home School in the Woods.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
Wonders of the World is just one of the Hands-on History Lap-Pak.  They also offer Lap-Paks on The 20th Century in America, U.S. Elections, Benjamin Franklin, and Knights.  The Benjamin Franklin and Knights Paks are designed for children in grades K-2 while the other three Paks are designed for grades 3-8.  The Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak that we received is a combination of reading and hands-on activities.  It also includes the audio files of the reading if your student prefers to listen and follow the text.  There are 23 lapbooking projects included in this Lap-Pak.  The projects include coloring, cutting, writing, drawing, and research among other skills.  It teaches your student all about Ancient Wonders, Medieval Wonders, Modern Wonders, and Natural Wonders through the reading and projects  This Lap-Pak is available as a digital download, like we received, or you can purchase the unit on CD.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
Little Miss has been using this Wonders of the World Lap-Pak.  I thought it would be a great way for her to learn some history on topics that might not be covered in our other history work.  I started by downloading our copy of the Wonders of the World and then I found the "Start" page which is a like a cheat sheet for parents/teachers.  The "Start" page is a quick way to find everything you need for this lapbook in one place.  It is a quick guide to printing each page, project, and the reading.  It also has links to the audio reading so you can quickly find them for your student to listen to the reading.  The "Start" page has everything listed in order and there are pictures you can click on that show you what the finished project should look like.  I am so glad it was included as it made it easy to get the right things printed for each project.  I started by printing the reading booklet because I knew that I wanted to do a combination of reading aloud and listening to the audio text.  So some days I would have her read about the wonder we were studying and other times I would have her listen to the text being read aloud instead.  We don't always listen to the audio files (they match the printed reading exactly), but we are still in summer mode so I thought the audio was a way to keep this fun.  Then I started printing up the various projects.  I printed things ahead and just kept them clipped together until we needed them.  This way I knew for sure I had everything on hand that we needed.  We worked through a project a week.  We have been bouncing back and forth with the Ancient Wonders and the Medieval Wonders.  Normally I would not have done this, but Little Miss saw some of the project pages I printed and started asking questions about Stonehenge and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I decided to work on those while she was curious about them.  In addition to those 2 projects she worked on the Statute of Zeus and the Temple of Artemis.  She read or listened to the reading for each of these wonders.  The reading is full of information and it is written in a way that keeps her attention while she is learning.  We have also worked some on the Timeline in the Wonders of the World.  We have not completed it yet because Little Miss wants to add to it as we study each wonder rather than doing it all at the beginning.  Like the other Home School in the Woods products we have worked on Little Miss's favorite part of this Lap-Pak has been the hands-on activities and projects.  I feel like the projects help her understand the material and retain the facts since she isn't just reading on a subject.
A Glimpse of Normal
I have really enjoyed this Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak.  It is something we can work on at our own pace and we don't have to work in any particular order which led to us changing up the projects I thought we were going to complete to the ones that Little Miss was asking to learn about.  I love that this is okay and easy to do with this product.  It allows Little Miss some choice of what she works on which makes her happy.  I appreciate that this product keeps her attention and keeps her interested in the material she is learning about.  I love the "Start" page of the Lap-Pak because it makes my job easier since everything is laid out for me and I can quickly find the link to what I need to print.  I am also grateful for the "Suggestions of Other Resources" which I found in the introduction.  It has several books and links that I want to dig into with Little Miss in a month or so when we officially begin our school year.  Like every other Home School in the Woods product we have reviewed, I feel like the Wonders of the World is extremely thorough and well-written.  I find myself learning as much about Wonders as Little Miss is which is a great thing.  We have completed 4 projects so far and I plan to finish the other projects as part of our history class when we start up school again next month.
Project Passport Ancient Rome
We definitely recommend the Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods.  It makes learning about the wonders of our world a lot of fun and it covers so many wonders different time periods that it makes you want to learn more.  We are also very excited about Home School in the Woods' latest project, Project Passport: Ancient Rome.  This project completes their Project Passport Collection.  We got a chance to try our their Project Passport: Ancient Greece last year and it was great.  Home School in the Woods is truly one of our favorite companies for hands-on history because they offer so many different product lines.  They have the Project Passport World History Series, Time Travelers American History, Hands-on History Lap-Paks, Hands-on History Activity-Paks, Hands-on History Activity Studies, and their À la Carte Timelines.  There is truly something for everyone.  Home School in the Woods is definitely a company that we check out for our history needs.  You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.  You can learn more about the Wonders of the World that we received here.  You can also learn what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of the products they received from Home School in the Woods by clicking the banner below.  We got to review many of their products so definitely check out what my friends are saying.
Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August 2018 Menu Plan

I can't believe today is August already.  I guess time flys when you are having fun and that definitely describes us lately.  We have been having fun.  Summer is still in full swing here.  I am starting to plan out our school year, we will start next month, but we are trying to pack in a few more things before school.  We just are ready to end summer yet. This month is another busy one for us and I am trying to use up some pantry items so I am planning my menu around that.  Here is what we are eating in our house for dinner this month:
August 2018 Menu Plan, A Glimpse of Normal
  1. Chicken Burrito Bowls
  2. Sausage and Peppers Pasta
  3. Pizza
  4. Mini Lasagnas
  5. Party Roast Beef Sandwiches
  6. Chicken Mexican Haystacks
  7. Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
  8. Green Beans, Potatoes, and Kielbasa
  9. Lemon Butter Chicken
  10. Stromboli
  11. Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Lime Sauce
  12. Buffalo Chicken Bowls
  13. Jambalya
  14. Sushi Rice Bowls
  15. Bacon Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole
  16. Seriously Delicious Taco Salad
  17. Fooled Ya Pizza
  18. Fireman Bob's Spicy Sloppy Joes
  19. Blackened Salmon with Avocado Salsa
  20. Taco Soup
  21. Quinoa Bowls with Hummus Vinagrette 
  22. Meatball Parmesan
  23. Adobo Chicken
  24. English Muffin Pizzas
  25. Jambalya Foil Packet Dinners
  26. Grilled Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
  27. Stuffed Burgers
  28. Slow Cooker Carnitas
  29. Italian Meatball Soup
  30. Beef Stroganoff
  31. Grilled Pizza - yes this is totally a thing and totally delicious
As always you can find my menu plan on my August Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  If you don't follow me on Pinterest, while you are there looking at my menu board take a moment and follow me.  What is for dinner at your house this month? 

I am linking up here this week.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Fun: A List of 5's

It has been a fairly busy week both on the blog and in real life for me.  I have been busy, busy, busy and I haven't had a lot of time to put together a long post for you, but I still wanted to put together something for you.  So I thought I would have a little bit of fun and post some lists of 5's.
Friday Fun, A Glimpse of Normal
5 Things We Are Doing/Have Done This Summer
  1. We took a trip to New York.
  2. We are entering exhibits in the county fair.
  3. We are attending a Christian music festival.
  4. We rode on a float in a parade.
  5. We have camped some and will do more camping.
5 Movies We Have Watched Recently
  1. I Can Only Imagine - go rent it now...it was so good.
  2. The Greatest Showman
  3. A Dog's Purpose
  4. Coco
  5. Ferdinand
5 Books on On My Reading List
  1. God Schooling
  2. The Best Yes
  3. The Magnolia Story
  4. Redeemed
  5. Taming the To Do List
5 Crafts I Am Working On
  1. Corner to Corner Crochet
  2. Crochet headbands
  3. A Deer Cross Stitch
  4. Hemming Curtains
  5. Crochet Hats
5 Things I Want To Do Before Summer Ends
  1. Plan out our school year
  2. Go to the beach
  3. Bake more treats
  4. Visit our hidden ice cream spot
  5. Sit around more bon fires
Those are all the things I can think of today.  What are some of your ideas for any of these lists?  I would love to know what you are up to this summer.