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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Review of Smart Kidz Radio from Smart Kidz Media

Little Miss loves music and listening to the radio.  Finding radio stations that are truly kid friendly can be challenging sometimes.  This is why I was interested in trying out Smart Kidz Radio from Smart Kidz Media when we recently got a chance to review their online radio station.
Smart Kidz Radio, A Glimpse of Normal
Smart Kidz Radio is an edutainment radio station for kids.  This means their radio station is both educational and entertaining.  Their online streaming radio station is free and can be used on a computer or downloaded as an IOS APP or an Android App so that it works on multiple devices.  This radio station is designed for children ages 3-12.  All of the songs on it are original songs that were created to teach children life skills while promoting positive character traits and strong moral values.  In addition to the free streaming radio, they also have podcasts that your children can listen to.  These podcasts are fun fairy tales and songs.  Smart Kidz Media is also in the process of developing an On-Demand Membership.  This new membership will not be free, like the radio, but it will be $3.99 a month or $39 for a yearly membership.  The On-Demand Membership will give you access to over 1,000 children's songs and stories.  They will have specific programming for bedtime stories, Bible stories, fairy tales, life skills songs, skills to survive and grow songs, and so much more.  
Smart Kidz Radio, A Glimpse of Normal
I thought this would be a perfect review for Little Miss to work on since she does love music.  I just had to sign in to the Smart Kidz Radio website and then let the music play.  We only listened to this station at home via our computer because I don't have unlimited data on my phone.  I turned on the music for her while she was doing quiet activities like coloring, working on a puzzle, and cleaning up the play area.  All of the songs were positive, upbeat, and taught good things, but overall she wasn't a fan of this radio station.  Little Miss is almost 10 and she felt like the songs, even though they were good, they were really for little kids.  She even told me that she thought her 5 year old cousin would really like listening to these songs.  Even though she thought the radio station wasn't for her, she did listen at different times and she said the songs were catchy and fun.  A few of them had lines that made her laugh.  We heard some bedtime songs, songs that said it was okay to be yourself, songs that encouraged being helpful among others.  The part of the free online radio that Little Miss did like was the podcasts.  She liked listening to the fairy tales.  They were each about 15-20 minutes long and she said it was like having a book read to her.  We have listened to Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Robin Hood so far.  She wants to hear the other ones on the site and they are fun for her to listen to while doing quiet activities.  
Smart Kidz Radio, A Glimpse of Normal
If you have young kids I would recommend the Smart Kidz Radio for fun and educational music.  I could see where Little Miss would have loved this radio station when she was 3-7 years old.  I am interested to see what they will come out with in the On-Demand content and I hope that will be a better fit for us.  You can learn more about Smart Kidz Radio by clicking here.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also find out about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this radio station by clicking the banner below.
Smart Kidz Radio Homeschool Reviews

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Review of Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press

Having a teenage son of our own, we know that sin and temptation are everywhere for boys.  You don't have to look to far to see short shorts or risky images.  I don't want that for my son and I don't want him to have to struggle in this area even though the world tries to tell you it is okay to give in, but that is not what the Bible says.  I want to raise a young man who can stand strong in the world.  That is why I seek out resources that can help my teenage son and encourage him to stand strong.  I recently received  Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press to review and I am so glad I got a chance to read this book.  It approaches a sensitive topic from a Biblical perspective and gives honest answers.
Love Honor and Virtue by Hal and Melanie Young, A Glimpse of Normal
Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality  was written by Hal and Melanie Young.  This book was written specifically for teens to twenty-something age guys.  It is written in a straight forward and direct manner to help young men resist sin and temptation while preparing them for marriage and family life.  It answers awkward questions that boys may have, helps them learn practical ways to fight the temptation that surrounds them, encourages them to get help for breaking out of sin and renewing their mind.  This book is also written to help young men learn how to have healthy and godly relationships with girls while thinking about their future with a wife.  It is a quick, but powerful read with 95 pages and six chapters with an introduction and conclusion.  The chapters include:
  • Sex Was God's Idea
  • It's All Connected
  • The Enemy Perverts God's Design
  • How Can a Young Man Keep His Way Pure?
  • Recovering From a Fall
  • Guys and Girls
Each chapter also includes a summary of key points from the reading.  There are direct discussions about the human body and how it works, how guys are tempted and may give in, what they can do if they have given in to temptation to regain their purity, and how to put a plan in place to prevent sin, temptation and falling.
A Glimpse of Normal
It is because I have a teenage son that I wanted to read this book.  I wanted to know what the authors would say on the topics, temptations, and sins that so often plague boys and men.  I know they are constantly being bombarded by the filth of the world and the world tries to play it off as the norm.  Pornography, sex before marriage, and other impurity does not have to be the norm and the Bible speaks clearly against it.  I felt that Hal and Melanie Young presented clear information, facts, and a plan to prevent giving in to these things from a Biblical perspective.  While the reading is very direct and frank, it is very accurate and they are very clear what God says about the issues.  I truly appreciated that this book didn't just point a finger and make guys feel bad about sin and the temptations they will face.  It explained how God designed men and women and how and why He created sex specifically for marriage.  The book also warned of situations, temptations, and people to avoid along with practical approaches for doing so.  I really liked their Five Point Defense (they also called "a fist to knock away temptation").  This method advises guys to leave the situation, pray, read Scripture, Sing to the Lord, and go to their authorities (get some accountability).  This method is practical and even though singing sounds silly, you can focus on the sin if you are singing to the Lord.  I also appreciated that this book didn't tell guys to "avoid girls at all costs."  It encourages guys to be friends with girls, but be honoring to them by not putting yourself or the girl in a situation that opens the door to sin.  It suggested group outings and/or dates, being in public places where others can see you, and being just friends before ever thinking about dating.  It also discussed making sure the person you are interested in is truly a Christian too and that is a point I completely agree with.  I also liked that the book talked about what to do if you have already given in to temptation.  God doesn't give up on us and He provides forgiveness so you can start over.  Grace is an amazing gift.

I definitely recommend reading this book if you have a son.  I even recommend reading it if you have a husband.  It is a great resource that deals with topics that we Christians typically want to avoid, but they are topics we need to address because our guys are being tempted all the time.  I do plan to have my husband and my son read this book.  I think it will be beneficial to both of them to help them form a plan of attack when they feel overwhelmed by this world.  I personally think it is best for boys about 13 on up as it does have some frank conversation in it, but if your son is younger than this you could read it to know what may be being thrown at him and how to help him through it until he is old enough to read the book.

You can learn more about the book Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality here.  It comes not only in paperback, but also in eBook, mp3 download, and Audiobook formats too.  You can learn more about Great Waters Press and all the resources they have to offer on their websiteFacebookInstagram, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.  Hal and Melanie Young also have a Facebook page.  You can learn more about this book from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew as well by clicking on the banner below.  I am sure we all found different parts of this book that applied to us.   I also got the chance to read another book from Great Waters Press, No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope and you can read that review here.
Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}