Friday, June 28, 2019

Being involved in a homeschool co-op has been part of our lives since we moved to North Carolina. I was really excited when I first heard about it, but nervous at the same time since I didn't know anyone. Our co-op has been great at times, almost dissolved at others and in the last year or so has started morphing into something of it's very own now :) 

About a year or so ago I took on the organizing for our local co-op with another mom helping. There were times I loved it and times that it stressed me greatly. Little did I know that it was only the beginning and that as word got out we would grow by leaps and bounds.  Last year I didn't like that it seemed I was the one solely responsible for the decisions. I am the type of person that doesn't want to make anyone upset and I have a difficult time making decisions more often than not (LOL) I decided that I needed a team of experienced moms to help this year. I decided that a group of four ladies would be great. I made sure that I asked experienced moms that I knew had tons of great ideas. I'm not always great at coming up with ideas, but can usually make sure they happen :) 

We have been working super hard the last few weeks. Coming up with classes, descriptions, guidelines for the co-op etc. I never knew there could be so much involved in running a co-op. I've realized that more often than not you need to be proactive and think about what will more than likely happen rather than what is happening now :) I'd love to hear from others about what they have found worked great in their co-op and what didn't. What classes were super fun for the kids and what types of activities your groups did for back-to-school and end-of-the year parties. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

All About Me!

In this day and age of parenting and homeschooling moms don't typically get tons of "me" time. I've been a missing in action lately, so I thought I'd write a fun little post reminding everyone who I am :) My name is Teresa and I've been married to my husband for 23 years in June.  We have three children.  Our oldest is 20, married and in the Army with our second grandchild on the way.  Our middle is 17 and will be graduating next year.  Our youngest just turned 12 and will be going in the 7th grade next year.  We usually are identified by our spouses or children, so that should sum up all about me that you need to know! :) Just kidding.....

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember and more often than not when I have free time you'll find me with a book in my hand.  I enjoy doing crafts and was taught by my grandmother at a young age to knit and do needle point. I've been teaching myself how to crochet over the last few years with the help of YouTube and friends. I really enjoy it, but have found the last several years that I can't do that type of activity for long because my hands start to grow numb :( We homeschool our children, so another passion of mine is reading on the internet about what curriculum other families use, fun projects and pretty much anything to keep my kids from complaining about doing their school :) I'm very active in our local homeschool co-op as well as being on a group to help reach out to those with undiagnosed and rare disease.  I'm a huge Dt. Dr. Pepper and Dt. Cherry Pepsi fan which I know I need to stop, but they are just SO good! I do enjoy a cold coffee especially when it's full of lots of sweet goodies.

Someone asked why I started blogging and I'll tell you it all goes back to the books! I had debated about starting a blog mainly for family and friends that aren't near us to see what we were doing. Then I learned that you could get FREE books just for writing your opinion about them. That hooked me and that's been one of the biggest parts of my blog. I enjoy talking about homeschooling and reviewing products which I'm able to do being part of the Timberdoodle Blog Team.  What's better than free products just for using them and giving my thoughts? :)  Our youngest has some special needs and a rare genetic condition, so the blog gives me a place to reach out to others in similar situations as well.

Here's a recent picture from when I was in Boston to meet with my fellow PEER members. I'm the one in the tropical looking shirt :)

I hope this helps give you a little glimpse into my life and who I am. Feel free to ask questions and I'll be more than happy to answer them!. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: What's New? What's Missing? What's Different?

Homeschooling is hard and often times I've found my kids just need something fun to break up the day.  Even though Issac is in 6th grade I will often choose items for him that are lower grade levels for several different reasons. He needs more review and often times he will forget something that is considered a lower grade level skill, but we are able to easily review and remember it again with fun games or workbooks.  We have spent a little time recently playing around with What's New? What's Missing? What's Different? which is part of the  Timberdoodle First Grade Kit This book is quite a bit under Issac's grade level, but it's one of those skills I thought we might need to quickly review. 

This was a fun little book to work in because it had three different things to work through. As the title suggests there are new things, missing things and items that are different.  There are pages that you have a picture on the left side and then circle the items that are different on the right side.

There are quite a few pages to try and continue drawing items or drawing items that are a part of a larger picture. Issac didn't quite care for these type of pages as much. He said he couldn't draw well enough.  For example there might be a musical instrument and they give you what's missing and ask you to draw part of the item.

Some of the pages you had to find the matching pairs and I think that was Issac's favorite part of this book!!

This is a really cool book whether you purchase the First Grade Set or just purchase the  What's New? What's Missing? What's Different?  book by itself. There are so many different types of pages and quite a bit on each page that this book could easily last for quite a while. It would be a great book to keep in the car for long car rides or in a bag for those often long doctor's appointments.  This book could easily be used by several grades above first or for just a fun booklet by the older kids. 

Review: Science in the Industrial Age

Science seems to be a subject that moms either love to teach or hate to teach. I have to admit that I'm probably more on the hate side when it comes to definitions, names and dates, but I do enjoy experiments. Issac and I have been working through the Science in the Industrial Age Set which is part of the Fifth-Grade Curriculum Kit from Timberdoodle.  This book was written by Dr. Jay L.Wile and in this book we learn specifically about science in the 19th century.  There are 90 lessons that are split into six different sections. The sections cover specific time frames and there are 15 lessons in each time frame. There are two types of lessons in this book, "normal" lessons and "challenge" lessons. Normal lessons are titled in black and the challenge lessons are titled in red. There are a few ways that you can divide up the lessons. You can do a lesson every other day which will allow you to cover all 15 lessons in each time frame in a typical year. You could also do two lessons a week. Using this way you would skip the challenge lessons and just do the normal lessons. As always it's totally up to you to decide which way you'd like to use this program.

In this kit we received the student reader as well as the answer key. One thing I really liked about this program from the beginning is that there wasn't a ton of writing to go along with the book.Our youngest struggles with writing and often times even if he understands the grade-level work he can't do the writing that is needed to complete to assignments. There are a few review questions at the end of each lesson and they are divided up for the youngest student, the older and the oldest student. I found that we were able to do the questions orally and that worked best for my son.  There are also great material lists that have been provided to help you gather needed materials ahead of time.  For each set of 15 lessons there is a material list to help you be prepared for when the experiments roll around. Here is a peak at the regular household materials that most people can easily acquire and the last picture is of those items that might be a little harder to find. These items would cover the first 15 lessons. 

 We really enjoyed learning about the scientist, some I didn't remember ever learning about in school. Ultimately the most fun was the experiments! If we didn't quite have all the materials we just skipped that experiment and kept a list of supplies we needed to go back and complete the lessons we skipped. Here are a few pictures from some of the experiments that we did. One of the first experiments we did that Issac thought was cool was "cooking" eggs without heat. We put one egg in a bowl of water and another egg in a bowl of rubbing alcohol. You leave them sitting overnight and compare the differences in the morning. Sadly, I forgot to get pictures of that experiment, but here is a picture from the book.   This is one we'll do again because Issac thought it was cool! I think most kids remember doing experiments with baking soda and vinegar, so learning about Jons Jakob Berzelius and Catalysts was another favorite of Issacs.  This experiment compared yeast and vinegar to baking soda and vinegar.  Going along with that experiment was the lesson on Amedeo Avogadro.  In this experiment we learned about the weight of gas! 

      One of the experiments I found interesting was How do you dew? that was part of the lesson on William Charles Wells.  In this experiment we we used 3 different cans, salt, water and ice. 

Another interesting experiment was about an important type of chemical in many foods. In this lesson we learned about William Prout and food.  We used a brown bag, a potato, cheese and butter.

Issac and I have really enjoyed using Science in the Industrial Age and I plan to check out other similar books.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Review: Mosdos Press Literature - Pearl - 6th Grade

Literature is one area that I've struggled a bit to find the program that fits for our youngest child.  When I saw Mosdos Press Literature - Pearl - 6th Grade I thought this program might be a good fit for him. He struggled with reading for years, but now seems to be doing pretty well. The problem is that the writing aspect is now behind. He's also gotten into that phase that he doesn't like to read because it's "boring" which is so hard for me to understand because I love to read. I thought because this program has such a wide variety that we might find some things he'd enjoy that he might not otherwise think he would.  The Pearl set is part of the Timberdoodle 6th Grade Kit These kits are easily customizable to work with all families.  This program arrived with a two book set for the teacher's edition, a student reader and an activity workbook.  

Mosdos Press Literature - Pearl - 6th Grade

The Pearl set includes: 

** 36 short stories
** 3 plays
** 15 nonfiction selections
** 46 poems
** 4 dramatic poems
** 2 songs
** Brief author biographies

How we used this program.  

* My son has gotten better about his reading, but just like his older brother more than about a page seems to stress him out. I decided that I'd go through the program and pick out the stories and poems that I felt would best fit us size wise.  I think his favorite story by far was The Race by Victoria Furman.  

* I did most of the reading to my child and then asked him the comprehension questions. He did really great answering the questions and always seems to better answer them when I have read to him. If he focuses too much on the length of the story he doesn't seem to remember what happened.  

* I'll be honest that we did very little of the student workbook. Most of the work was just above where my son currently is working.  His writing skills just aren't where they need to be to do all the writing included in the workbook.  

* My goal was to work in this program 4 days a week and that happened most of the time except for a month after my son has surgery when we didn't do any school.  

What did I like about this program??

* At first glance you immediately see how beautifully illustrated these books were made.

 The student really learns about the characters, themes, settings, conflicts, etc. There were also stories, poems, different genres, etc.  

* The workbook is packed with activities that help further the students learning. There are writing activities, comprehension questions, vocabulary as well as other activities.  There's a great mix, so that you can pick what you want your child to do and skip others if you feel the need.  

* The teacher's guides have a plan of how to use the program and which activities to do on which days.  

* It's got all the answers you need as well as any additional information you might want to help your child complete the lessons. 

What didn't work for my child.  

* I feel this program is very advanced in the reading and work and therefore the grade level my child was in was really too hard for him. In this type of program he'd be better off probably 2 grades behind due to his writing abilities and ability to read long stories.  

* While I like having a suggested plan in the teacher's edition to give me a starting point I felt that the overall teacher's edition just had too much in it for most homeschoolers. It felt like it would work better in a public school setting. That being said I pretty much just didn't use the teacher's book other than looking at the answers.  

* If I could turn back the clock I'd probably try the Opal set, which is 3rd grade, or the Ruby set, which is 4th grade. I think the writing activities in those would have been more where my son currently is working.  

All in all I have been super impressed with the Mosdos Press Literature-Pearl set.  It's beautifully written and illustrated as well as just jam packed with wonderful stories and poetry that I didn't feel I had to worry if my child read without me. In this day and age it's hard to find good literature and often we as parents feel we have to read stories or books before our child can. As homeschooling parents we already care a heavy load and we don't need any extra work. Mosdos has made it easy for us by giving us great material, wonderful activities and all the answers that we might need.  For additional information on the program there is a great video that explains how to schedule the 3rd grade opal set.  There is also another nice video that just shows the basic 3rd grade opal set and gives more information on how to use it. The information in these two videos can easily be transferred to help you with any of the sets.  

** I was given a free copy of this program from Timberdoodle for my honest review** 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Review: Delayed Justice by Cara Putman

Wow, what a powerful story! In Delayed Justice Jaime Nichols has spent years working in counseling to be able to speak up for the wrong done to her as a child. She chose a profession in law to stand up for others that couldn't stand up for themselves. When she was a child and her father was stationed out of the country her mother often needed help. Jaime's uncle happily offered his assistance, but sadly her mother didn't know what was happening on those visits. Jaime never felt she could tell, but as she grew older she worked hard to have the voice to stand up and accuse her uncle of his wrong doings. Shortly after Jaime went to the local prosecutor she found out her uncle was in line to become a 1 star general. She knew that he wouldn't let anything or anyone stop his career path and she realized she'd have the fight of her life on her hands. Thankfully Jaime's parents were supportive when they learned the truth. The pain they felt at not protecting their child was terrible, but they weren't going to let her uncle get away with it again. As Jaime struggles through this process she meets Chandler, a military veteran, that lives in her building. She tends to shy away from people in the military due to what her uncle did to her. Chandler uses a therapy dog, Aslan, to help other veterans and realizes that maybe Aslan can help Jaime. He sees the pain in her eyes, but doesn't know the reason. When he does learn what happened to her at the hands of her uncle he knows that he won't stop helping her until she learns what a special person she is to others.  As Jaime is dealing with the case against her uncle she is relieved of her job pending an investigation for misconduct. Thankfully her friends jump in to help her with a special project to keep herself busy. Tiffany is a little girl that has suffered the same terrible pain that Jaime did as a child. Her mother's boyfriend abused her and threatened her mother if Tiffany told. Thankfully she told her mother and her mother was trying hard to get justice for her daughter. Jaime's  friends are fighting passionately for the little girls protection and justice and ask Jaime to help. Knowing her past they know it will be hard for Jaime. They also know that she can reach Tiffany in ways that others can't. As she fights for Tiffany to regain any type of normalcy to her life and not struggle as Jaime did she learns that she is stronger than she thinks.  

Cara Putman starting writing in 2005. She's now written 21 books with more on the way. She was homeschooled back when homeschooling was still in the new stages.  I truly enjoy her books because they are a mixture of suspense, romance, struggling faith and social issues. She writes a blog as well as can be found on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.  You can check out all the books she's written as well as follow the progress on her blog for her upcoming books.  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Review: once we were strangers by Shawn Smucker

The United States was founded by immigrant families, but in this day and age with all the terrorism we seem to be afraid to have immigrants continue to come to the US.  Once we were strangers is a wonderful story about a friendship. A friendship between a struggling writing in the US and a Syrian refugee new to this country.  Muhammad and his family fled their village in Syria in 2012.  Several years later he meets Shawn Smucker in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  As Shawn and Muhammad spent time together a friendship starts to emerge. For those born and raised in America it's hard to imagine having to flee your home because it is no longer safe. It's hard to imagine that in your new home you struggle to communicate with others because you don't speak the language.  It's hard to imagine leaving behind everything to flee and keep your family safe.

Muhammad's story truly touched me and truly made me wonder how I'd react to a Syrian refugee family moving in next to me. Would I reach out to them and offer friendship or would I ignore them as we so often do in this day and age. I like to think that I would offer whatever help that I could despite the language and cultural barriers.  I think what we all need to remember is that we could some day be a refugee in another country and wouldn't we want someone to reach out to us? Reading Muhammad's story about how he and his wife both worked in a dry cleaners to be able to take care of their boys. How hard it was when they wanted to move because even though they had paid their rent on time for an entire year most people didn't want to rent to a Syrian refugee. Muhammad reminded us through his story that people don't take the time for coffee and conversation like they once did. Once we were strangers is a truly moving story about a friendship between two men and really between two families that pushed through all cultural barriers.  

Shawn Smucker lives with his wife and children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He has also written The Day the Angels Fell as well as The Edge of Over There He can be found on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ as well as his blog.

**I received this book free from Revell for my honest review.** 

Being involved in a homeschool co-op has been part of our lives since we moved to North Carolina. I was really excited when I first h...