Monday, April 23, 2018

5 Days of Unit Studies - Day 1

Unit studies have changed how we do school in our home.  They allow us to explore more topics, dig deeper, and be creative when showing what we have learned.  This week during this 5 day blog hop, I want to share what I have learned about unit studies with you and give you practical tips for using them in your school.
A Glimpse of Normal, 5 Days of Unit Studies, Blog Hop, Homeschool Review Crew, learning, Encouragement, Homeschool,
You may be wondering...what exactly is a unit study?  A unit study is a collection of learning activities tied to a theme.  This theme can be a single book, a book series, a topic, or a broad subject.  Unit studies tend to be more hands on than traditional methods of studying.  They can be tailored to what works for your student and for your family.  There really is no wrong way to create a unit study since you can study a topic at the depth level that works for your student.

Before you go jumping into unit studies, take a few moments and consider these things:
  • What kind of learners are you teaching?  - Unit studies don't work for everyone and that is okay.  If you students prefer a textbook and sticking to a very set plan, then maybe unit studies are not the best route for you.  Do you have kids that love hands-on learning?  They learn a fact about something and want to learn more.  Is your curriculum flexible?  Are you okay with changing and adjusting as need be to make a unit study work?  Unit studies aren't super complicated, but they typically are not just open and use either as there will be things you need to print, resources to find, etc.
  • What subjects are you using a unit study for? - Do you want to study a single topic, a book series, or use it for a single school subject?  Some people use unit studies for certain school subjects like history because unit studies can be easy to put together for those subjects.   Other people use them for their entire day because one unit study can examine multiple subjects.  For example you can use a book series to study history, science, and language arts by learning all about the time period, places, and events in the book for history, studying the animals, plants, and people in the book for science, while doing writing, studying the vocabulary, and diagramming sentences for language arts. Are you planning to use different unrelated unit studies at the same time?  For example you do one study on the planets for science, one study on the U.S.A. for history, and a study on authors for language arts.  
  • Where will you find your unit study? - Unit studies can be created by you or they can be purchased.  They don't have to be difficult to put together on your own once you decide what it is you want to study and how in-depth you want to go.  (We will discuss putting together your own unit study tomorrow.)   But I will also tell you that the Internet is full of great unit studies, some are free and some you have to purchase depending on what you are looking for.  I will be the first to admit that I have used unit studies written by other people and they have been great for my students.  Either way works and you can even buy a unit study and then add stuff to it to make it fit your students.  The options are endless.
  • What resources do you already own or can borrow? - Many times when I think about things I want my kids to learn, I check my bookshelf and find I already have at least one book on the subject.  Other times I hit up my local library to see how many resources they offer on a topic.  After I have requested materials from the library and am there picking them up, I ask the librarian if they know of any other materials that would be great for my student to read through or use for research.  The librarians are always super happy to help and they are great at finding age appropriate materials.  Finally don't forget friends and family.  A couple of years ago my son studied the Civil War.  I was chatting with good friends about what he was researching and they lent us some books on Civil War battles that they had that were wonderful learning tools for my son.  
  • What is your student interested in? - I find that our school year works better when I let my students study things that they are interested in a few times each year.  This doesn't mean we only study fashion and go karts because that is what my students like.  It means that I add studying fashion into our unit studies throughout the year to help keep her interested in it and learning more about it off and on.  Of course fashion could be it own unit study too, but we haven't done that one yet.  As for go karts, we haven't done specific unit studies for that, but we have done research on how engines work, voltage, and the electrical components.  Basically if there is a topic that really interests your student, let them explore it.  That is what unit studies are all about.
Unit studies are a great way to let your child explore a topic and really dig in deep to things they love.  We will continue using them in our school as long as they are working for us.  Some are more detailed than others, but that depends on what I using them for.  Tomorrow I will be discussing how I put together a unit study.
Coming Soon ... 2018 Annual Spring Blog Hop
This week I am participating in the Spring 2018 5 Days of... Blog Hop from the Homeschool Review Crew.  We are all writing about different topics this week and sharing them with you.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the links below or the banner above this paragraph to Hop on over to the next blog and read what they have for you, I know I will definitely be hopping to my friends' blogs to see what they wrote.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Thrifty Thursday That Saves You Money in the Long Run

So I will be the first to tell you that today's tip doesn't seem very thrifty at first.  What I am going to share with you will cost you money up front, but in the end it will save you time and money.  Want to know more?
Something that cost me some money up front, but has overall save me time and money is my Instant Pot.  I waited until I found a great sale on it and then purchased it.  Interestingly enough this sale was in late summer not after Thanksgiving or near Christmas.  I got my Instant Pot for around $80 and on some sizes the prices have come down more now and other sizes are more, but they are bigger and have more features..  So $80 was a lot initially, but overall this gadget has saved me lots of time and money.
I often get so busy with school and the kids that I forget to get meat out of the freezer until 2:00pm or later.  This used to be an issue because then I would have to defrost the meat in the microwave and then hurry to cook it in the oven or on the stove to get dinner done on time.  This would leave the meat tough and without a lot of flavor.  Other times by the time I realized I forgot to pull the meat out, it would be way too late and I would just run and pick up dinner somewhere which would blow our budget.   Now that I have my instant pot, I can throw the meat in frozen and still get it done in about an hour or so.  I can cook entire meals in there and have dinner in about 30 minutes or less.  I also use it to cook boiled eggs in under 10 minutes that peel easily.  I throw whole potatoes in it to make mashed potatoes and it cooks them in 10 minutes.  I cook tons of stuff in there.  The other benefit to my instant pot is that if I need to take dinner somewhere, the lid locks and I don't make a mess in my car.  So yes, it did cost me some money in the beginning, but it has more than paid for itself in saving me time and when I get busy, I throw dinner in the instant pot instead of running into town to buy dinner.

Do you own an Instant Pot?  What do you cook in yours?  If you don't own one yet, check it out and put it on your wish list.

*This is not a sponsored post.  I did not get paid to tell you about my Instant Pot, I am just sharing how I save myself time and money.  This post does contain my Amazon Affiliate link which means if you choose to buy from my link, I make a small commission from Amazon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Review of Help Teaching Pro from

There are many times when I am teaching that I think "it would be great if there were a worksheet to go with this."  Yes, I homeschool and yes, I can make a worksheet, but I don't always have time to sit down and make something on my own.  This is why I am always on the hunt for resources that have worksheets, tests, and quizzes already created for me but still gives me the ability to quickly create my own if I need/want to.  The Help Teaching Pro subscription that we received to review from does just that and more.
HelpTeaching, printable worksheets, online lessons, quiz maker, worksheet maker, printable games, printable game generator
We have reviewed materials from before, but I was excited to dig through their site again to see what we could use for our school this time.  This site and the Help Teaching Pro subscription covers multiple grades and multiple subjects.  We received a one year subscription to the Help Teaching Pro to review.  The Pro subscription also includes unlimited access to their online Test Maker to create custom tests and worksheets, access to their Math Worksheet Generators, and access to their Game and Puzzle Generators.  They also now have Online Lessons for some subjects.  It also includes unlimited access to their online tests and worksheets, the ability to make and save your own tests and worksheets on their site, pre-made premium content, and more for just $39 per year .
Once you sign up for your subscription you can get your student(s) signed up for their accounts.  You can link their accounts by email so you can send them their scheduled assignments, but don't worry they don't have to have an email to work on the site.  I wanted to see how the scheduled assignments worked so I set up my email for my children's email and this worked perfectly.  When I would schedule a lesson or test for one of my children, an email would pop into my account with a link that they could click and complete what I sent them.  After they finished, I could log in to and check out the results two different ways - question by question or the entire assignment.  
I had both my 9th grader and my 4th grader trying out worksheets, tests, and online lessons from the Pro subscription.  I had my son do some of the physics and math worksheets from the 9th grade for review for school.  I also have him scheduled to do vocabulary lessons that are online.  Some of the worksheets I had him do I printed off for him and some of them I assigned to him through email.  I had my 4th grade daughter work on the questions for Because of Winn Dixie in the lessons because we happened to be reading this book anyway when we got access to our subscription.  There are review questions for every chapter of the book and they are a great way to check for understanding in the book.  I also had her work on some grammar and math worksheets.  She also tried one of the online lessons for geography.  I was also able to use the Math Generator to create a division practice worksheet for her and the Word Search Generator to create a word search for Because of Winn Dixie for her.  Both kids thought the worksheets and lessons were good.  They liked using the worksheets that I printed off when we went on a two day trip with my hubby.  It was a great way to still get school in, but not have to pack all their books.  Buddy liked having the assignments emailed so that he could just click the link to find what he should work on versus having to wait for me to pull it up and get him in the right area.  Little Miss always finds another worksheet she wants to try anytime she is near when I am finding her other worksheets.
This is the Math Generator I used to create a worksheet.  I just had to adjust the options in the sidebar to get the larger division problems I wanted Little Miss to practice.
One of the things I really like about besides being able to assign the lessons is that the site grades the work for me which is a HUGE plus in my book.  It grades the work in one of two ways.  If your student uses the links for the scheduled assignment their answers are recorded and checked as they work.  If you print off the lesson, worksheet, or test for the student, you can go back in once they are done and put in what answer they picked and it will grade it as you put the answers in.  I liked both methods and I liked being able to go in and check how my kids did on the assignments quickly and I could see exactly what problems (if any) they got wrong and which answers they picked.  I also liked that you could see the total score or you could review each question for which answer they picked.  The other thing I really like about this site is that they have so much content.  I can always find something for my kids to work on.  Sometimes the worksheets I find are for their grade and sometimes it is for the grade above or the grade below their grade.  There is a plethora of material on this site.
By adjusting the tiitle and putting in my own words I was able to quickly create a word search for Little Miss.
Overall I was very impressed with the selection of quizzes, tests, worksheets, and lessons included with the Pro Plan from  I feel like they are a good supplement to any curriculum, but they would probably not work as the entire curriculum unless you were creating a LOT of your own content.  I also like being able to create my own tests, math worksheets, and puzzles quickly.  They made those sections of the website super quick and easy to use.  I clicked a few buttons and added a few words and my worksheets and puzzles were done.  

You can learn more about the Help Teaching Pro we received by clicking here.  You can learn more about on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You should definitely check them out and see how they could benefit your family.  If you aren't convinced yet, click the banner below to read the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew to find out how they used their subscription.  
Help Teaching Pro. { Reviews}

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Review of Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology from Apologia

I have admitted before that science is not my favorite subject.  While it isn't my favorite subject to teach, it is one that Little Miss likes to learn about.  This is why I am always on the lookout for great science curricula.  I want her to learn all about science while she is interested in it, so I was excited to receive Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology from Apologia to review recently.
Anatomy & Physiology, human body for elementary grades, Apologia
Apologia is the #1 publisher of creation-based science and Bible curriculum.  They believe in homeschooling, being able to defend the Christian faith, and that every academic subject can be taught from a biblical worldview.  They publish materials and curriculum for many different academic subjects covering grades K-12.  They also offer resources for homeschooling families and even have an Online Academy that students can attend to.  Apologia has been a company we have used for years and one that my family will continue to use for years to come.
Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology is part of Apologia's Young Explorer Series.  For this review Apologia was very generous and we received the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology textbook, the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Junior Notebooking Journal, the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Notebooking Journal, and the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD.  The textbook features 265 pages and 14 lessons.  The lessons are:
  1. Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
  2. The Skeletal System
  3. The Muscular System
  4. The Digestive and Renal Systems
  5. Health and Nutrition
  6. The Respiratory System
  7. Life in the Blood
  8. The Cardiovascular System
  9. The Nervous and Endocrine Systems
  10. The Nervous System Extended
  11. Your Senses
  12. The Integumentary System
  13. The Lymphatic and Immune System
  14. Growth and Development
The textbook also includes an index and a section of answers to the Narrative Questions in each lesson.  It also includes projects and experiments for each lesson.  This book is written so that it can be used in any elementary grade from Kindergarten to Sixth grade like all of their Young Explorer Series books.
Little Miss made a slime skeleton.
The Junior Anatomy Notebooking Journal has 210 notebooking pages, 15 pages of answers to the vocabulary exercises throughout the journal, 3 pages of field trip journals, 38 pages of mini-book activities, and 5 pages of drawings and templates for putting together the "Personal Person Project."  This Junior notebook is perfect for younger elementary students since it includes coloring pages, copywork, and easier activity pages.  There are plenty of crafts and activities in it to keep young students busy and interested in anatomy.
The Anatomy Notebooking Journal is laid out much the same as the Junior Journal except it is designed for older students.  It has 196 notebooking pages, 4 pages of vocabulary answers, 2 pages of field trip journals, over 50 pages of mini-book activities, and 5 pages of drawings and templates for putting together the "Personal Person Project."  In the pages for each lesson it has pages where the students can take notes while they read, copywork to complete, vocabulary crosswords, questions for each lesson, and more.  It keeps students thinking about the lesson they read in the book and has creative activities for them to complete after they finish each lesson.

The MP3 Audio CD we received is the textbook read aloud in an audio format.  Each lesson and each section of each lesson is labeled so that you can quickly find where the section you need to listen to.  The textbook is read clearly and at a good pace, not too fast, not too slow.  It is very convenient to have when a reading section has a lot of big words or if you want a break from the reading.  We used it for both of these purposes.
This is her Digestion Theme Park
Little Miss, my 4th grader, has been having a lot of fun learning all about Anatomy.  Even though there is a suggested schedule you can follow for this book in the notebooking journal, I wanted to use this curriculum 5 days a week so I planned out the reading and the activities so that each lesson took us about a week and half to get through.  I had her read a couple of sections from each lesson each day and then I would ask her some questions about what she learned.  We found that it was easiest for her to do the notebooking journal pages at the end of each lesson spread out over 2 days rather than try to do a little bit of the journal each day.  Little Miss was able to read the text on her own especially since hard to pronounce terms also had the phonetic spelling so she could properly sound them out.  As she was reading the text, I had her write down notes that she thought were important to know on the appropriate journal pages.  Her favorite parts of each lesson were the "Try This" sections which gave students projects they could try that pertained to the reading.  Some of the "Try This" sections were mummifying apples, calculating how much of your weight was muscles (Little Miss is just over 20 pounds of muscle), and measuring our the length to represent how long your small intestines are among others.  Little Miss also loved trying the experiments and projects for each lesson.  She had a lot fun creating her "Digestion Theme Park," growing her muscles, and analyzing a chicken bone.  She liked having the notebooking journal to work through the pages for each lesson.  She did very well at remembering what she read and the vocabulary crosswords.  She liked creating the mini-books and I think all the hands-on activities, experiments, and "Try This" sections help her retain the information she read about in the textbook.  She is still talking about things she learned in lesson 1 and 2 even though she has been working through lesson 5 this week.
A closer look at the theme park elements.  
Little Miss likes the way using the textbook and the journal together makes learning about Anatomy interesting and fun.  She said, "It's not just reading and answering questions so I want to work on science because I get to try what they talk about."  I like that this curriculum makes science interesting for her.  I also appreciate that this is written with a Christian perspective and it gives several reminders of God as our Creator and that we were created with a purpose.  I also appreciate that at the beginning of the textbook there is a list of all the supplies needed for the experiments broken down by lessons.  That made it easy for me to gather everything each week that we needed for the experiments.  We are truly enjoy this curriculum and even though science is not my favorite subject, Apologia has made it easy for me to teach and Little Miss is eager to soak it all in.

You can find out more about all the wonderful products that Apologia has to offer on their website.  You can also find them on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  You can learn more about the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology that we received here.  I definitely recommend checking it out.  You can also see what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew are saying about this curriculum by clicking on the banner below.
Apologia - Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Reviews

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Review of Princess Cut from Watchman Pictures

Family movie night is a tradition in our house.  It is how we unwind after a long week and sometimes it can be hard to find a movie that we can all watch together since we have such a difference in ages in our kids (9 and 14).  This is why we were very excited to receive the Dove approved film Princess Cut from Watchman Pictures to review.  We wanted to see what this Christian film was all about.  
Princess Cut The Movie, Princess Cut, Romantic Drama, Christian Film, Dove Approved, Watchman Pictures
Princess Cut tells us Grace's story.  When we are first introduced to Grace, she is a good, Christian girl that seems to have it all together.  She knows what she wants and she is excited to start achieving her goals as soon as her boyfriend puts that princess cut diamond on her finger.  When this doesn't happen she starts questioning the direction she should go in.  She was so sure of everything she had planned that now she feels lost.  Her "worldly" friend Tessa means well, but Grace isn't so sure of the advice that Tessa gives.  Grace's parents encourage her to seek God's will and direction for her life, but that isn't always easy to do.  Grace meets Jared and he seems to be a nice guy, but is he really what Grace wants?  She also meets Clint who wants to make sure that everything he does honors God and he treats Grace like a princess, but it seems too good to be true.  As Grace's story unfolds, we see her struggle with worldliness, relationships, and what God says about it all just to name a few things.  I want to tell you everything that happens, but to do that I would totally spoil the movie for you and I don't want to be a plot killer.
Our family sat down to watch this for our Friday pizza and movie night.  The boys, Hubby and Buddy, weren't so excited that we were going to watch what they determined would be a "chick flick" based on the title and movie cover, but they were good sports and sat down to watch anyway.  It is a "Romantic Drama" movie so it probably isn't what they would pick on their own to watch, but Little Miss and I were pretty excited to see what it was all about.  We all thought the movie would be predictable, but every time we thought we knew what would happen, the plot would take a twist or turn that we didn't think of.  It held out attention from the beginning to the end.  No one wanted to stop the movie long enough to get dessert.  We all truly enjoyed this movie and even the boys agreed that they wanted to watch it again sometime.

There were so many good things packed in this movie if you have children that will ever date or court someone.  It was written in such a way that it can be used as a teaching tool for many Biblical concepts regarding dating such as what to look for in a mate, how we should treat the opposite sex in relationships, following God's will versus what the world tells us, and more.  Hubby and I did not expect this movie to have all of that in it, but it did.  It opened the door for us to discuss how and when the characters acted appropriately and inappropriately in relationships with our 9 year old and 14 year old.  It also reminded us that we need to pray for our children's future spouse and do our best to help our children pursue Godly dating relationships rather than worldly dating relationships.

There were also many opportunities to discuss friendships from this film.  We discussed what it means to be a good friend and the kinds of friends we should choose.  There were many examples of both good and bad friendships in this movie.  As parents we also appreciated the role of the parents in this movie.  It showed the parents struggling with real life issues like paying the bills and raising children.  The parental issue that I appreciated the movie highlighting the most was the balance between guiding your children and letting your older children make their own decisions.  The parents in this movie spent a lot of time praying for their kids.  They also let Grace make her own decisions since she was older, but also let her know that they were there for her to come to for guidance, they loved her no matter what, and they wanted what God wanted for her.  I appreciated seeing this because we do have a teenager and it is a new stage of parenting for us and different aspects are being thrown at us all the time, but ultimately we want to honor God through our parenting.  I could go on and on about all the great themes and concepts in this movie that you could pick out to discuss, but I won't for the sake of time.  This movie is definitely worth watching...more than once in our opinion.
Watchman Pictures
We definitely recommend watching this movie and we have already been recommending it to friends.  I am so happy to have it in our house to watch when we want to.  You can learn more about the movie here.  You can follow Watchman Pictures on their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.  You can read more about what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought about this movie by clicking on the banner below.
Princess Cut {Watchman Pictures Reviews}

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

5 Days of Unit Studies - Spring 2018 Blog Hop

Every Spring the Homeschool Review Crew hosts a 5 day blog hop.  This blog hop features the members of the Crew all writing about different aspects of homeschooling.  The blog hop will run from April 23rd through April 27th this year and I can tell you that I am really looking forward to it.  This blog hop is an opportunity for the Homeschool Review Crew to share about many topics that are on our hearts.  It is meant to encourage, refresh, and inform you so I hope you will come and check it out.
A Glimpse of Normal, 5 Days of Unit Studies, Blog Hop,  Homeschool Review Crew, hsreviews,
My topic this Spring for the 5 Days of... blog hop is Unit Studies.  Each day that week, I will be posting about an aspect of unit studies.  I want to share how you can use them in your school, how they work, how to plan them, and so much more with you.  This is a direction we have went in our school and I want to share why it works for us.  I also want to share some specific ideas for unit studies.  They have really made a difference in changing up our school and I am really looking forward to chatting with you about it all week.

I will update this post each day during the week of April 23rd - 27th so that you can find all of my posts on Unit Studies in one place, in addition to finding them on my social media pages.

5 Days of Unit Studies Day 1

You can visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog on Thursday, April 12 to get a list of the different topics everyone will be sharing during the blog hop.  Then you will have to mark your calendar so that you come and check it out every day during the week of April 23rd.  I know that I always find so many great topics and so much encouragement during the hop.  You will be hearing from homeschool parents in every stage of homeschooling.  I can't begin to tell you how great it will be.
Coming Soon ... 2018 Annual Spring Blog Hop

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Review of Music Appreciation I from Memoria Press

Little Miss plays piano and she is finishing up her third year of piano lessons later this spring.  Even though she loves to play piano, we have never really spent much time learning more about the music she plays and the history of music.  I wanted to change that for her.  This is why I was happy to receive Music Appreciation I from Memoria Press to review recently.
Music Appreciation I Set, classical christian education, classical christian curriculum, classical christian homeschool curriculum, memoria press, product names, classical education
Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that was started in 1994.  They produce simple classical Christian education materials for home schools and private schools.  Since 1994 this company has grown a lot and they offer various subjects of study for preschool through twelfth grade.  They even offer an online academy for grades 3-12.  They are definitely a resource that I check when I am searching for curriculum in our school.

The Music Appreciation I set that we received includes the book and 2 CD's.  It is intended for students in grades 3-5 and teaches about Western classical music.  The book we received included text for reading, musical selections that you could either play if you could read music or listen to on the CD's, and review tests with answer keys.  The book has 26 chapters that are broken down into sections.  The sections are: Listen, A Little History, Musical Concept, About the Piece, Music History, Facts to Remember, and Listen Again.  Each chapter focuses on a different composer for your student to learn about along with musical terms and concepts that apply to the lesson.  You do not have to have musical knowledge or a background in music theory to use this book or teach from it.
I thought that learning more about music history and theory would help Little Miss in her piano lessons.  She learns a lot like me and if I know the background of what I am learning, the concepts are easier for me to grasp.  I also thought that learning more detailed information about the history and theory of all the different styles of music (her piano teacher does a fantastic job of teaching of discussing the basics of these concepts) would motivate her in her piano lessons.
Once we received this set, I read over how to use them.  I decided that it would be best to study each chapter over a few days.  The reading was already broken into sections and that made it easy for me to assign Little Miss a small part or two each day.  We would listen to the piece for the chapter and then I would have her read section II to me which was the history.  This is where we learned about the composer, their life, and the history of the piece of music we were listening to.  The next day I would have Little Miss read about the Musical Concept.  This is where we learned about form, movements, melody, concertos, and much, much more.  Then she would either listen to the tracks that demonstrated the musical concepts or she would try to play the pieces on her piano.  Very early on she could read the music and play it on her piano, but as we got a little further in, the pieces got too complicated for her to play so we would just listen.  We also usually read the "About the Piece" section on this day as well.  There were always a lot of interesting things to learn from this section of reading too.  Sometimes we learned the reason why the piece was created and other times we learned the theme of the piece, how it was played, or about movement in the piece.  The last day of each chapter, we read the "Music History," "Facts to Remember," and "Listen Again" sections.  These sections taught us about different styles of music, different musical terms (some my daughter has learned already and some she has not), and interesting facts.  Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach had twenty children?  The "Listen Again" section had us listen for very specific things to see if we could hear them and pick them out.  It taught Little Miss to listen closer to all the music she hears which reiterates what her piano teacher has been saying about listening closely for a long time.
At first Little Miss wasn't very excited about learning Music Appreciation.  She is my reluctant piano player even though her musical ability is a gift from God and something we are highly encouraging.  Once she started reading the chapters and reading about different composers, she started enjoying this Music Appreciation I set.  She thought all the background information was cool to learn and I even heard her telling some of the "Facts to Remember" to her dad one night when he asked her about school.  For Little Miss, the Music Appreciation confirms what she has been learning in piano lessons and it helps her to know why she can't just rush through the technique and theory in her lessons.  It has also encouraged her to practice more so that she can learn new skills and play harder pieces.  We have both enjoyed learning from this Music Appreciation I since I have her read the lessons aloud.  Little Miss's favorite part of the lessons is the listen again so that she can listen for the fine details in the music.  She likes to see if she can pick out what they tell her to listen to.  She is looking forward to learning about more composers.  We have many more to learn about since we just finished up chapter 10.  The only complaint I have about this set is that the track numbers in the book for the CD do not match up to the track numbers in the CD menu so we struggle to figure out if we are listening to the right track, but I think we have listened to the right ones so far.

If you are looking to study music, I would definitely recommend this Music Appreciation I from Memoria Press.  It is thorough, detailed, and keeps your attention.  You can learn more about it here.  You can learn more about the other curricula that Memoria Press offers by clicking here.  I know I want to check out their First Form Latin for future use in our school.  You can also learn more about all that Memoria Press offers on their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and YouTube.  Please also check out the reviews from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking on the banner below.  We got the opportunity to review several products from Memoria Press so I am looking forward to checking them all out.
Spelling, Music Appreciation & Latin {Memoria Press Reviews}

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Soup's On

It's Thursday and that means it is time to share another money saving tip with you.  This week's tip helps me save money on my grocery budget.  Read on to find out how I stretch my grocery money...
Thrifty Thursday, A Glimpse of Normal, Soups On
We try really hard to stick to a budget in our house.  I will be the first to tell you that some months we do great and other months things come up and we have to adjust out budget here and there to make it work.  I do my very best to feed our family of four on less than $400 a month.  One way I do this is by adding soup to our weekly menu plan.  Soup ingredients can be stretched and really help keep my grocery budget down.  Also there are tons and tons of soups out there so you don't have to eat the same one all the time.  I know many people that say soup isn't a complete meal, but in our house it is.  I add a side of bread many times to our meal or you can add a sandwich to help fill up bellies.   I also like to fix hearty soups that stick to the belly.  Some of our favorites are:

There are many other soups we love too.  They are just a great way to stretch my grocery budget and we usually have enough leftovers of soup for at least one of us to have lunch the next day.  I will tell you that if a soup calls for rice or noodles, I do not cook those in my soup.  I cook rice and noodles on the side and add them to each bowl of soup.  This reduces waste in our house because we don't like mushy rice or mushy noodles.  If I cook the noodles or rice in the soup they soak up the broth and get mushy.  You can find more soup recipes I have pinned on Pinterest by clicking here.  Do you have a favorite soup recipe?  I would love to know what it is.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"The Dream of You" - A Review

As children we have big dreams and goals, but as we grow up, we tend to lose these dreams which changes our identity.  We lose our dreams through circumstances, life changes, and listening to others.  What does God say about us, our identity, and our dreams?  This is the premise behind the book "The Dream of You" by Jo Saxton that I recently received to read and review.  I was very curious to see what she had to say on this topic.
Blogging for Books, The Dream of You, Jo Saxton, Christian, book, Review,
"The Dream of You" by Jo Saxton has 218 pages along with a foreword by Ann Voskamp, a page of acknowledgement, and a section of notes where the author cites her references.  The theme of the book is "Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For."  This book features 13 chapters and an epilogue.  The chapters in this book include:
  • Don't Call Me "Pleasant"
  • What's in a Name?
  • The Talk
  • The Day I Lost My Voice
  • God's Child
  • Known and Loved
  • Slay Your Giants
  • The Wander Years
  • In the Valley
  • Breaking Up with Perfection
  • The Song in My Heart
  • Practices
  • Pick Up Your Keys
Each chapter discusses a piece of our identity we may have lost and questions we can ask ourselves to work on getting that piece of our identity back.  The chapters also feature personal stories from the author that readers may be able to identify with.  The book is about how we become broken and through that brokenness our identities change and how God can heal that brokenness.   

I have been reading this book as part of my devotional time.  I was intrigued by the title and theme of the book because I felt like I could personally relate to broken identities.  I really wanted to hear Jo Saxton's thoughts and ideas on this concept and see how God used her to write this book.  As I was reading I could relate to some of the author's stories and I liked how she uses her personal journey and brokenness to show different areas of our life where our identity can be changed.  She spoke of drastic life changes that affected her greatly, school yard bullies that caused her to lose her joy and her voice, moving to a different country and more.  Then she related each story to a Biblical concept or story to show how God can heal the parts of us that get broken and that while we see ourselves as broken, only God can make us whole.  

While I could relate to some of Jo Saxton's stories and I liked the Biblical principles she applied to fix the brokenness, I was left wanting more after reading each chapter.  I felt like she lead up to her point and introduced the Biblical principle and then moved on.  I felt like she gave you a concept to think about, but then just moved on to the next topic without completely wrapping up the entire concept and telling how the Biblical principle can help you personally heal the brokenness.  I realize that part of the depends on your own interpretation for the Biblical concept, but some practical applications at the end of each chapter might have helped this.  Overall, I thought it was a good book that I was able to relate to, but it did not show me completely how to "Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For."   

You can read more information on Jo Saxton here and learn read more about "The Dream of You" here to find our if it is the book for you.  

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Review of Creation Illustrated

We are big fans of unit studies in our house because they give so many options for levels of study and the school subjects covered.  They can be quick mini-studies or they can be longer and take a few weeks to complete.  There is a lot of flexibility in unit studies that really fit our homeschool style.  This is why we were intrigued to receive two Nature Unit Studies and access to the accompanying magazines from Creation Illustrated to review recently.
Winter 2018, Vol. 24, No. 4, Creation Illustrated, Created
Fall 2017, Vol. 24, No. 3
Creation Illustrated is a new company to me even though it has been around for 25 years, so of course I wanted to know more about them.  This company is ran by Tom and Jennifer Ish, who are not strangers to homeschooling since they homeschooled their daughter.  It is a Christian company that focuses on sharing the wonders of God's creation through the publication of their quarterly magazine.  This magazine is full of articles, pictures, character building lessons, and more.  It is available both in print and digital versions.  Not only do they publish Creation Illustrated magazine, they have also created unit studies to go along with their magazines so you can take your child's learning a step further and fully use the magazine.
Creation Illustrated Unit Study Snow
For this review we received a Snow Unit Study and the Winter '18 Digital Edition of Creation Illustrated that accompanies it.  We chose to work through this study first because Little Miss loves snow.  She wanted to learn what it was all about.  After downloading the unit study, I opened it up to see what it was all about.  I was very impressed to see how thoroughly this unit study was put together.  It includes reading resources for articles pertaining to snow and optional educational videos with the links included.  Then it went right in to the work for learning all about snow.  It included work for Language Arts, Bible,  Science, Geography, Math, and Art.  There were also activities for making paper snowflakes and an igloo.  There was even photography tips for getting good pictures of snowflakes.  Next we sat down and read through the first article about snow.  We read "The Intricacy of Snow" from the Creation Illustrated Winter 2018 digital magazine.  As we were digitally flipping through the pages of the magazine to find the right article, we saw several other articles we wanted to read from this issue and the gorgeous pictures.  Not only does this issue of the magazine include several articles about snow, it also includes an article about working dogs which Little Miss, my animal lover, thought was awesome.  It also includes articles on gardening, life in Alaska, recipes, a fantastic article on Creation, and lots of other articles.  It even includes some study guide questions for review of the entire magazine.  The magazine articles were simple enough for my 9 year old to read, but jam packed full of good information that made me want to read them too.  We finally got back around to that article about "The Intricacy of Snow."  I had Little Miss read it aloud.  Then I had her start working her way through the rest of the unit study.  I had her do some of the work in a notebook, like the writing assignment and defining the vocabulary.  For other work I printed off the specific pages she needed.  It would have been too confusing to have her just write the answers in her notebook for those pages because they had multiple blanks.  You could just print off the whole unit study, but I wanted to save some paper and ink so I did a combination.  I had my 4th grader work though a little bit of the unit study each day and she completed it in about 3 weeks.  It gave her a chance not only to learn about snow and how it is made, it helped her think about it being part of God's Creation and had her learn about snow using the Bible too and what God's Word says about snow.  As a Christian parent, I appreciate that this unit study does have a Biblical view.
Creation Illustrated Unit Study Pine Trees
We also received a Pine Trees Unit Study and the Fall '17 Digital Edition of Creation Illustrated that accompanies it to review.  I have been looking through it while Little Miss finished the snow study.  The magazine article "Enduring Pine Tree" is a great explanation of the pine tree and how God specifically created them with unique features.  There are also many other articles in this magazine that captured my attention like the ones on the Eclipse and the article on the Grand Canyon.  There are also articles I know that Little Miss will love like the Kangaroo Care article and the name article.  The unit study covers Language Arts, Geography, Math, Art, Science, and Bible.  I am excited for Little Miss to learn that there are pine trees in the Bible and why God made them have such unique characteristics.  I think she will also really enjoy this unit study.
Little Miss loved drawing all the different snowflake shapes for the Snow Unit Study.
Overall we have really enjoyed the unit studies and digital magazines from Creation Illustrated.  They unit studies are very through and the magazines are extremely educational.  The unit studies are recommended for grades 5-8 and Little Miss did need a little extra help to find what she needed to read to find answers to the unit study  It was still a good fit for her being close to the end of 4th grade.  I truly appreciated the Biblical view of the magazines and unit studies.  I would recommend checking out all their unit studies they have to offer and their magazine would be a wonderful gift for any nature lover.  They just released their Spring '18  magazine which you can learn more about by clicking here.  You can learn more about Creation Illustrated at their website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  You can learn about the unit studies they offer by clicking here.  You can also see how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used these unit studies by clicking on the banner below.
Creation Illustrated Unit Studies {Creation Illustrated Reviews}

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 2018 Menu Plan

Happy Easter!!!  I can't believe it is April already.  The calendar here says spring, but the weather doesn't feel so Spring yet.  We are getting more sunshine and I am thankful for that.  I am looking forward to flowers and the leaves budding on the trees.  We are working hard to get our school year wrapped up by the beginning of next month so we are in "focus" mode.  I am planning more dinners this month that I can get going and let them go in the crock pot, Instant Pot, or I can put them together when I have a few minutes to just pop in the oven before dinner.  I also have quite a few recipes that are new for us to try.  Maybe I am just feeling adventurous.  Here is what is for dinner at our house this month:
April 2018 Menu Plan, A Glimpse of Normal, What's for dinner
  1. Ham & Mashed Potatoes
  2. Creamy Broccoli, Chicken, & Bacon Fettuccine
  3. Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes
  4. Hillbilly Jumble
  5. Italian Meatball Soup
  6. Meatball Pizza Bowls
  7. Tex Mex Bacon Cheeseburgers
  8. Orzo Sausage Soup
  9. Chicken Carbonara
  10. Cheeseburger Tater Tot Cups
  11. Jambalaya Foil Packets
  12. Seriously Delicious Taco Salad
  13. Meat Lover Pizza Cups
  14. Copycat Texas Roadhouse Roadkill
  15. Copycat Mom's Meatloaf
  16. Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
  17. Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa
  18. Wendy's Chili
  19. Slow Cooker Balsamic Roast
  20. Texas Toast Garlic Bread Pizza
  21. Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad
  22. Spicy Sausage with  Polenta
  23. BBQ Bacon Meatballs
  24. Copycat Mama Melrose Chicken Parmesan
  25. Easy Stromboli
  26. Salisbury Steak Meatballs
  27. Cast Iron Pizza
  28. Mashed Cauliflower Shepherd's Pie
  29. Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder
  30. Mediterranean Meatball Gyros Sandwiches. 
There is a week where it seems like we are having a lot of beef dishes, but don't worry I substitute ground turkey many times for our ground beef in dishes.  As always you can find recipes for the meals we are having on my April Menu Plan Board over on Pinterest.  What is for dinner at your house?  Are there any recipes you can suggest for us to try out next month?

I am linking up here this week.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Don't Throw It Away...Yet

I'm back!!!  Okay, you probably never knew I left, but I did.  Our family took a little "Mini Spring Break" and because of it I missed last week's Thrifty Thursday.  I was home by Thursday, but I was running behind on my other posts so something had to go last week and Thrifty Thursday could wait.  So now that I am back and it's Thursday...Let's be Thrifty!!!
So for today's tip I can not take all the credit.  I wish that I could because it is a great tip, but I didn't come up with it on my own, I just started trying it and started saving myself some money.  I have my favorite beauty products that I buy from Perfectly Posh.  I love that the products are natural and they have helped my skin so much.  I also love their hand creme because they don't leave my hands all greasy.  The moisturizer, hand creme, and face masks that I buy aren't terribly expensive, but they are not super cheap either.  They fall in the mid-range price for products.  What helps me justify the cost of the products I use are that a small amount of the products go a long way and I get every last drop that I can...which is where today's Thrifty Thursday comes in. 
Many of the Posh products I use come in tubes.  In the past, before I learned today's tip, I would have used what is in the tube and when I couldn't get any more out, I would have bought a new one.  My Posh rep shared once it feels like the tube of product is empty, don't throw it away.  Instead, you cut the end of the tube off.  This allows you to get all the product you can't squeeze out once it feels empty.  Since I started doing this I get at least one more week's worth of hand creme out of their tubes and I use this every day so getting at least one more week is a huge savings to me.  Once I cut the top of the tube off I just store it in a resealable plastic bag.  I get every last drop out and I am not throwing away money by not using every last drop.
I cut the very top off of my containers so I can get every drop out and then I store them in a resealable plastic bag.
Look at all the hand creme I would have missed if I would have just threw this tube away because it "felt" empty.
How do you save money on beauty products?  Do you have any other money saving tips you would like to share?  I would love to hear them.