Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Series: Crochet 101 - Part 5

I have not forgot you, if you have been following along on my Summer Series, Crochet 101.  I got a little busier the last two weeks than I expected and had a hard time finding the time to sit down and write up a proper post for the project for this week.  But I am here now and we must proceed.  In Part 3 of my series I taught you the chain stitch and in Part 4 I taught you the single crochet.  Now it is time to put it all together and make a simple dish cloth.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Summer Series, Crochet 101, Part 5
Supplies Needed:
J Crochet Hook (6.00 mm)
1 Skein Lily's Sugar and Cream Yarn (My skein is Hot Blue)
Yarn Needle

Stitches Used:
Chain Stitch - yarn over and pull through (you don't typically count this in your stitch count)
Single Crochet - Insert hook into stitch, yarn over and pull through (there should be 2 loops on your hook now), yarn over again and pull through both stitches.

1.  Make a slip knot and then chain 26 stitches (this is 25 stitches plus your turning chain)
2.  In the first stitch from the hook, make a single crochet.  Continue all the way across until you get to the end of the row and then chain 1 stitch.  You should end up with 25 stitches, plus the stitch on your hook which is your turning chain.  This is row 1.
3.  Single crochet all the way across and chain one to complete your second row.  (25 stitches)
4.  Continue step 3 until you have 26 rows.
5.  Using the chain stitch on row 26 (this is the stitch you would use if you were going to create row 27), fasten off your work. I loop my yarn through to create a new loop and pull the old loop tight.  Then I repeat it one more time to knot my work.  Cut the yarn from the remaining skein.  (I only used about 1/2 of a skein for my dish cloth, but I do crochet tight.)
Here is my chain one of the last row.
I pull the yarn connected to the skein through my chain stitch. 
I pull the original loop tight.
I repeat that process.
I pull it tight again and it knots off my work.  I cut it off from the skein.
6.  Using the yarn needle, thread one of the loose tails of your work into the needle.  Then I just weave my end into the dishcloth using the needle.  I tie it off and snip off the extra.
I thread the needle using the tail from the end I cut off.
Using the needle, I weave in the end.
You can barely see where I weaved in the end.
I tie it off to the work and cut off the extra.
 Here is my finished dish cloth:

Do you have any questions?  I would love to see how your work turned out if you made a dish cloth.  Next week I will be back with a couple more stitches for you and to wrap up my summer series.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Review of the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom

Little Miss is getting ready to go into 4th grade this fall and this is the year we start to focus on geography.  I want to make sure she learns all about the USA, the states, and state capitals.  This is why I was very excited to receive the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom to review recently.  This activity bundle includes the U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook, U.S.A. State Birds Art Cards, and U.S.A. 50 State Mazes for your student to work through and it is available for just $15.
USA Activity Bundle, The Crafty Classroom
The Crafty Classroom is a website that offers all kinds of curriculum, crafts, tutorials, printables, freebies, and classroom setup resources.  Their products are mostly for students 3rd grade and under, but some of them can be used with older students.  They have products for math, Bible, geography, science, reading, and more.  It is a website that I would highly recommend checking out especially if you have younger students because there are so many great options on it.  All of the products in their store are sold as downloads to help reduce the cost to the buyers and you can print off their products for all the students in your household.  They even offer options if you would like to use their products for homeschool groups, co-ops, and classrooms.

The U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook has 50 state activity pages.  Each state page has mapping activities for your student to complete like marking the capital, rivers, and landmarks.  Each page also has your student learn the capital of the state, the state abbreviation, the state nickname, the state bird, and state flower.  Your student will also learn the order of the states added to the U.S.A. and there is room for them to write in interesting facts about the state.   There is also a picture of the state flag for them to color.  There are also two bonus games at the end of the book for your students to play and help reinforce what they have learned.
The U.S.A. State Birds Art Cards includes 27 birds for your student to learn about.  There are only 27 because many states have the same state bird as others do.  This book has a detailed colored picture of the state bird along with a picture for your student to color.  It also has a fact card for your student to fill out and memory matching cards to help your student learn about the birds.  The pictures are very detailed and pretty.

The U.S.A. 50 State Mazes are 50 pages of mazes.  There is a maze for each state.  They go perfectly with the State by State Activity Notebook to help teach your student the shapes of each state so they can find it on the map.
Little Miss was pretty excited to receive the USA Activity Bundle to work on.  Her big brother loves geography and she always tells me that she wants to learn about it so she can be like him.  I printed her off the first few sheets in each of the three booklets after I got them downloaded.  She started on the U.S.A. 50 State Mazes because she couldn't wait to get her hands on those.  I was a little worried that the mazes would be too easy for her, but they are actually just right for her.  They have tricked her more than once and I thought she was trying to trick me when she told me she couldn't find the right way out.  I sat down to help her on one of the mazes and I was very impressed with them.  They are very well done and you can't just quickly see the way out of the maze.  We had to trace the path several times to find the right way out.  I really appreciate that they challenge her and make her work to get to the end.  Next she worked on the U.S.A. State Birds Art Cards.  She loved the colored picture of the bird that she could look at so she knew how to color her bird and it helped her be able to look up the bird online to learn some facts about it (with my guidance of course).  She liked learning more about the birds that she worked on and she was eager to share the facts she learned with her dad each night when he got home.  Then she went to work on the U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook.  She liked these pages because she got to learn the important facts of each of the states she worked on.  I helped her look up each state and get to an appropriate website to get the facts for each state.  The Crafty Classroom does have a recommended book that they suggest in the beginning of the notebook, but I didn't get my hands on that one yet so we used the Internet.  Little Miss loved learning the details about the states and she especially loved learning what number the state was added to the U.S.A.  That little detail just really stuck out to her.  The sheets were easy for her to break into sections and since it is summer time I allowed her to do that.  The days she sat down to work on the whole worksheet at once, it only took her about 30 minutes to complete.

Little Miss loved this activity bundle.  She has finished 10 mazes, 5 birds, and 7 state pages.  She is looking forward to finishing the rest in school this year.  I will combine these activity pages with a few other resources I have and turn it into a geography curriculum for her to work on.  The USA Activity Bundle is not a complete geography curriculum by itself, but it would pair nicely with many other curriculum to supplement them or it would stand alone as just review of the U.S.A.  I was pleasantly surprised by this activity bundle because I was worried that it would be too easy for Little Miss since she is going into 4th grade.  It turned out that it did challenge her some and I made her dig deeper for her facts for the birds and the states because I told her she couldn't just use the first fact about each thing she found.  I told her to find something unique for her fact so that she had to read more and learn more.  Don't be fooled just because this product says third grade and down, it can be used for older students too if you require more.  Little Miss and I both recommend that you check into the USA Activity Bundle if you want your student to learn more about the U.S.A.

You should definitely check out the website for The Crafty Classroom because they have a multitude of products they offer.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.  You can learn more about the USA Activity Bundle we received here.  If you want to learn more about some of the different products that The Crafty Classroom offers, you should click the banner below to read the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew.  We got to try several of the products that they offer so the reviews will reflect that and I will be checking them out too.
Crafty Classroom {Reviews}

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries

It is one of my favorite seasons...BLUEBERRY SEASON.  Okay I admit, it is not a real season of the year, but for us it is one of our favorite parts of summer.  We love, love, love blueberries in our house and because we love them we don't mind heading out to the blueberry patch to go blueberry picking.  We also don't mind going picking because you can eat as you pick, it's a good thing they don't weight us as we have to sample what we are picking.  We have been twice already this year to pick blueberries and we might head out one more time, it just depends on if we can find time in our schedule.  We all love fresh blueberries, but we love to eat them frozen too.  Did you know that frozen blueberries are really sweet?  They are like candy for me.  So we eat blueberries year round.  I also do baking with blueberries.  That is what I thought I would share with you this week.  I just baked these treats yesterday as I am busy, busy, busy today and tomorrow.
Our must have is Blueberry Buckle.  I use this recipe for it.  This is my favorite recipe for it and it never fails.  If you are wondering what Blueberry Buckle is, I would say it is kind of like a coffee cake with blueberries.  I wait all year to make it and we savor it.
We love this Blueberry Buckle so much I doubled the recipe.
We also love to have Blueberry Muffins made with our fresh blueberries.  I have tried a lot of muffin recipes and I don't have a particular favorite that I have to go back to so I usually try a new one every time I make blueberry muffins.  This is the recipe I used this year for Blueberry Muffins with Oat Pecan Strussel.  It is very tasty and I would make them again.
Lastly I wanted to try something a little different so I went for this Blueberry Oatmeal Bread recipe.  It was super simple to make and looks delicious.  I haven't tried it yet because I ate a few too many blueberries while cooking yesterday and I was gone all day today.  So I can't tell you how it tastes yet, but if it is as good as it looks it won't last long in this house.
Do you go blueberry picking?  Do you have a favorite blueberry recipe?  I would love to hear about it.  I am always on the look out for more blueberry treats to make.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Review of Trust Fund from Mapelle Films

We love family movie night in our house.  I do my best to make sure the movies are interesting, wholesome, and appropriate for everyone since we do have an age gap between kids, but it isn't always easy.  This is why we were excited to receive Trust Fund from Mapelle Films to review recently.
Trust Fund Movie,  family entertainment,faith-based,prodigal,prodigal story,family drama,romantic drama,young adult,jessica rothe,tessa violet,la la land,movie night,movie review,familymovie,family fun,family night,family,forgiveness,romance
Mapelle Films is a production company ran by Sandra Martin and Isaac Alongi.  Sandra has the role of writer, director, and producer.  She has also written three books.  Isaac has the role of cinematographer and producer.  In addition to the two movies Mapelle Films has produced, Isaac's work has been seen in many feature films, tv shows, documentaries, and more.  He has over 20 years of cinematography experience and those experiences began when he was homeschooled and given creative freedom to pursue his passion of photography and cinematography.  This was another reason I was excited to review this movie.  I love showing my homeschooled kids what other homeschooled kids have accomplished.
Trust Fund is a faith-based movie that is inspired by the Prodigal Son story found in the Bible.  It is the story of two sisters who seem like night and day, but when it really comes down to it, they want the same things.  Audrey, the older sister, seems like she has everything under control and like she is very successful.  It is easy to see that she just wants to make sure that everything is done the right way and she doesn't upset anyone, especially her father.  Reese is the baby sister who seems like a free spirit.  She wants to explore her creative side and accomplish her own goals, her way.  At the beginning of the movie, Reese's motives and intentions seem purely selfish.  She finds out there is a trust fund set aside for her and Audrey and once she learns about it, the fund is all she can think of.  Reese finds a way to gain access to the money, but once she gets it she runs off to Italy where things go badly for her.  She makes many bad decisions and gets involved with Milo who leads her further astray.  Reese finally realizes that she can't keep doing what she is doing and calls her dad to see if she can come home.  The tension between Audrey and Reese builds as Audrey thinks Reese gets off easy for all the things she did and when things start to fall apart for Audrey.  Audrey wants Reese to grow up and take responsibility for her actions and Reese wants Audrey to live a little.  You will have to watch the movie to find out if they ever see eye to eye or if they give up on each other.  This movie received the Dove seal for approved viewing for ages 12 and up, but it can also be watched by younger children when viewed as a family.
Our family enjoyed this movie.  There was enough action to keep the boys interested in the movie and there was plenty of drama to keep us girls involved in the storyline.  There were just enough plot twists and turns that kept us from being able to guess how the whole movie would turn out.  It was very interesting for our kids to watch this movie because while they are not exactly like Audrey and Reese, their personalities are very similar to each of them and they found that they could sympathize with each character.  They also found that sometimes when you don't think you understand your sibling it is because you are more like them than you realize.  This movie lead to some really great family discussions about the choices we make, understanding your sibling, and why parents make the decisions we do.  We also discussed how the storyline of the movie was like that of the Prodigal Son from the Bible.  I was also able to get some more topics to talk about from the download study guide that Mapelle Films put together for the movie.  Their study guide has questions, deeper topics, and plot summaries for the movie.  It is a nice resource that they have right on their website.  They also offer the book Love was Near by Sandra Martin.  This book was inspired by the movie and it is designed for girls ages 12 and up.  It digs deeper into Reese's story and what she is thinking when she makes the decisions she does.  I really appreciate that Mapelle Films didn't just create a good movie, they offer resources that can help you make it a family movie and a family discussion.  It is a movie that we will watch again.

You can learn more about Mapelle Films on their website.  You can learn more about Trust Fund, the movie we watched here and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  It is definitely a movie worth watching and discussing.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew also got to review this movie and some of them even got to review the Love was Near book, so click on the banner below to read their reviews.
Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Series: Crochet 101 - Part 4

I hope you have been following along with my Summer Series this year.  I am sharing my love of crochet with you and maybe, just maybe, teaching you along the way?
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Beginning Crochet, Chain Stitch, Crafting, Crochet, Crochet 101, Summer Series, Tutorial, Single Crochet
So far we have covered the basics - the tools you will need, different types of yarn and how to read the labels, and chain stitches which are the foundation for your work.  This week I am teaching you the SINGLE CROCHET stitch.  It is pretty easy to figure out and there are tons and tons of projects you can do with single crochet.  Again this week I am doing a photo tutorial of how to do this stitch because I think it is easiest if I show you how.

How to Single Crochet
For this I picked up left over Lily's Sugar and Cream Yarn which is 100% cotton and a medium weight yarn.  I like using it for pictures because it holds the shape well.  I used a 5.5mm hook which is I if you got by hook letter or it is also called an I-9.

1.  Start with a foundation or starter chain, it is called both.  This is what we learned last week.  So make a chain of 10 stitches and a turning chain.
This is what a starting chain of 10 plus a turning chain looks like.
This has the stitches numbered so you can see.
2.  Once you have your starter chain done, you are going to crochet into the back of it.  This will give your piece a nice finished edge. 

3.  Insert your hook into the first stitch and yarn over your hook.
This is the hook inserted into the first stitch
Hook in the first stitch and yarn over.
4.  Pull your hook back through the stitch and you should have two loops on your hook.
This shows the two loops plus the yarn over for the next step.
5.  Yarn over again and pull your hook through the both loops. YOU DID IT!!!
The SINGLE CROCHET stitch is insert your hook into a stitch, yarn over, pull the hook back through the stitch (you should have 2 loops on your hook), yarn over, and pull hook through both loops.
Creating a single crochet  Pulling through both loops on the hook.
6.  Repeat steps 3-5 until you get to the end of the row, then chain one stitch for your turning chain.
This is the first row and the turning chain (I have already turned my work).
Do you see all 10 stitches there?  It is important to count your work as you go.  I won't tell you how I know this, but trust me, I know this....count, count, count.

7.  Now you will turn your work and insert your hook under both parts of the first stitch.

8.  Yarn over and pull your hook back through the stitch.  

9.  You should have 2 loops on your hook.  Yarn over again and pull through both loops on your hook.

10.  Repeat all the way to the end of the row, chain one and turn.

11.  Start the next row.  Keep repeating the pattern until you have the amount of rows you desire.

What do you think?  Is this something you can do?  Gather your supplies and next week, we will make a simple dish cloth.  You will need a crochet hook - J or 6 mm (this is my favorite starter hook).  You will also need 1 skein of Lily's Sugar and Cream yarn in the color of your choice.  Meet me back here next week and I will have a very simple dish cloth pattern for you to try.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Review of the Make-a-State Activity from Home School in the Woods

I must confess that I have not had Little Miss focusing very much on geography yet for school.  It isn't because I didn't want her to learn about geography, it is more because I usually don't focus on it until about 4th grade.  So I was very excited to receive access to the Make-a-State Activity from Home School in the Woods to review with Little Miss.  The Make-a-State Activity is part of the Activity-Paks series from this company which includes: Make-a-State, The Old Testament, The New Testament, Composers, and Artists.
Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State, History, hands-on, hands on lap book, lapbook, elections, hands on learning, U.S. history, United States, United States history, Time Line, Time Line Figures, Biblical History, Ancient History
Home School in the Woods is a family run company that was created when the Pak family began their homeschooling journey.  Amy saw a need to make history come alive and not bore her own children, so she dove in and started pulling together resources.  She used the resources she pulled together and others 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.
Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State
The Make-a-State Activity-Pak can be purchased as either a digital download, like we received, for $18.95 or a CD version for $19.95.   You can use it to study any state in the U.S., including Washington D.C.  Using this Activity-Pack, your student creates a lapbook for each state you choose.  There are 20 projects for each state and each projects uses a variety of methods such as creative writing, illustrating, coloring, research, and mapping.  The projects include learning about:
  • Key State Facts
  • Origin of State Names
  • State Motto
  • State Symbols
  • State Song
  • State Wildlife
  • Regions
  • State Landmarks
  • State Geography
  • State Government
  • State Seal & Flag
  • State History
  • Famous People From...
  • Native Tribes
  • State Industry/Agriculture/Climate
  • Sports Teams
  • State Quarter
  • Recipes
  • State Vocabulary
  • State Timeline
This Activity-Pak can easily be used along with state study, books, or history curriculum you are using.  It includes an introduction for the teacher, the directions for each project, lapbook assembly instructions, photographs that show the completed projects, bonus "State Pages" that give basic information about each state, a bonus "Name That State!" File Folder Game, and a list of other suggested resources for further state study.  It is recommended for grades 3-8.
Little Miss was very excited for us to get this review to work on.  She really wants to learn about geography and she loved the last HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece that we got to work on earlier this year.  She couldn't wait for me to print off the directions and her first project so that she could get going on this review.  We chose to work on the State of Michigan first because it is our state and since we just moved here, we don't know too much about it.  She started with coloring the lapbook cover page and learning the Key State Facts.  This gave me the opportunity to show her how to look up things online and how to find good information when you are searching online.  After this first project, we continued on at the pace of  one to two projects a week.  This pace allowed Little Miss to soak in the information she was learning and it allowed her to do extra research when she found facts that interested her about our state.

Little Miss decided that she wants to do all the projects for the lapbook and then put the book together all at one time.  She thinks this way will be easier for her to make sure she has room for each project.  She completes a project and cuts it out and then puts in her file folder that will hold all of her work until she completes all 20 projects.  She is currently half way through the projects and is trying to decide what state she wants to work on next when we start the school year this fall.
My daughter loved this Make-a-State Activity because it is hands-on history which Home School in the Woods is all about.  She learns better and retains more information when she does the types of projects that Home School in the Woods produces.  These projects are just the right length for her.  They hold her attention and she doesn't get overwhelmed because they are too long or too in-depth.  She is learning because she is doing and it requires her to find the information.  Some of the activites have pre-printed items or blank ones depending on the level of your student and how much of their own work you want them to do, but I have been having Little Miss use the blank ones and doing the work herself.  I appreciate all the different options with this Make-a-State Activity-Pak.  It allows me the freedom to add as much or as little to this study with the extra resources that I want to for Little Miss.  I can customize it for what works best for us.
We are huge fans of the hands-on history approach that Home School in the Woods uses in their products.  They offer a wide range of products for students of all ages.  We have personally used their U.S. Elections Lap-Pak and it taught my son a lot about the election process last year.  Both of my kids are interested in other titles in their Lap-Pak Series.  Like I mentioned before we have also reviewed their Project Passports series and liked that one too.  Little Miss is interested in more of that series too.  I am also excited about their new A La Carte Projects they are offering.  They have made approximately 50 projects available to purchase A La Carte style.  These are smaller projects and games that fit into their larger studies, but it is a great way to purchase some of the individual projects to work on without having to purchase a whole unit (although the whole units are great too).  Right now they are even offering a FREE A La Carte project on The Erie Canal when you use the discount code alacarte at checkout.

We definitely recommend the Make-a-State Activity we reviewed.  My son has been asking me if I can add this to his school this fall to even though he is going into 9th grade.  I'm all for it.  You can learn more about all of the different products that Home School in the Woods has to offer on their website.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.  You can learn more about the Make-a-State Activity we received here.  I highly recommend that you click on the banner below to read the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because we got to review many of their different series.  I know I will be checking out the reviews so I can decide which series I need to add to my upcoming school year for each of my kids.
Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}