O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Psalms 43:3

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. D&C 88:118

The kids

The kids

Friday, August 31, 2012

Everyday Family Chore System- Schoolhouse Molly Crew Review

The Molly Crew is a division of The Schoolhouse Review Crew and focuses on non-homeschool curriculum reviews. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we occasionally have the opportunity to review for the Molly Crew too.
As homeschooling families, we have so much more than just the academic education of our children to worry about. Among other things, homemaking and home management are often on the educational agenda. The products the Molly Crew reviewed for Everyday Homemaking are designed to help families accomplish this.


PhotobucketVicki Bentley, a homeschooling mother of 8 and foster parent to over 50 has written a book to help others teach their children household management skills. Everyday Family Chore System which is published by Everyday Homemaking  is an 88 page book on the basics of setting up a family chore system. It also includes a bit of child training help as well.  The book is divided into three sections. The first two sections teach the whys and hows of family management including several pages on what can be reasonably expected of a child at various ages. These two sections also outline how to set up a family chore system for your family and stress the importance of teaching the child to do the job properly and having well understood expectations including instructions that the child can easily refer to for all chores. The third section is a reproducible series of chore cards and how to do it cards that are, in theory, fill in the the cleanser and go.

We have done various forms of chores over the years and I have read many books on how to train up self-sufficient children, hard workers, etc. Everyday Family Chore System didn’t really present anything new to me, but it did condense a lot of what I have read over the years into a few quick-read pages. Unlike many chore system type books, this one doesn’t say, “do your chart this way because it is the  only way that works.” Instead, it speaks of the importance of clear expectations, a way for the child to know if all the steps are completed, and gives suggestions as to ways different families have adapted the chore system to fit their family.

A few years ago, I had bought a peg board to hang chores from. It was used for a while and then fell by the wayside. I adapted the chore chart suggestions using the board I already had. I also made up the how-to-do it cards and attached them to the board so that they were easy to find in one place. Here is our board:
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Each child has a column of jobs. The majority are daily jobs and include things like pick up room, pick up toys, etc. They each have a couple of family jobs. Then at the bottom there are weekly jobs to do. The weekly jobs need to be done once a week. The tags on the right side are the instructions for each job. Green circles are placed over the chore when the child finishes the chore. I later go through and check their work. If greens are placed up before the job meets the requirements for the job, I will remove it and tell them what needs fixing. If a job is neglected for the day, when I get to the board at night, I place a red beneath the chore. Extra chores are required when jobs go undone. For completing all jobs, a green goes under the name. Then I can see at the end of the week if children are getting their jobs done consistently, what jobs need more practice or supervision, and what jobs are being neglected. If a child is neglecting the same jobs, we will not rotate until that job is mastered.

We have had mixed results with the chore chart. Tiger loves it. He gets up, gets going and finishes it all so he can move on to other things. The girls are not doing as well though. There are days they get their chores done and there are other days they shirk their work. We are still working on the positive and negative consequences. We have mixed feelings about allowance and rewards for work that should just be done. On the other hand, intrinsic motivation does not develop in a vacuum and sometimes needs some extrinsic prodding to begin to develop.

Overall, I liked the reminders of the things I know to be true regarding teaching children to work. I also liked the suggestions for how to do the chores, chores I hadn’t thought of assigning, and other ways to present the chores visually for the children to learn to do them on their own. I did have to make my own chore cards though because the ones in the book had different steps than the ones I wanted my children to take. Seeing the author’s cards helped me to structure mine though. Everyday Family Chore System is available for $19.99 for a spiral bound book or $17.99 for the ebook. While I liked Everyday Family Chore System, I am not sure that I would have paid $17.99 for the ebook, it seems a little expensive, but if it will help get your family working together, then it is worth it.

Be sure to check out what the other Molly Crew members thought of Everyday Homemaking’s Everyday Family Chore System as well as Everyday Cooking by clicking on the button below.
PhotobucketDisclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ten Girls from History- Schoolhouse Review


When I select literature and historical books to read to my children, I always keep in mind what values are being taught in the works. I also like to keep in mind that great stories have the power to inspire people to strive to be better. Most of history concerns the wars and politics of men and until recent history, the deeds of women are not as commonly written about. I have three daughters and I want my girls to grow up knowing that there have been women throughout history who have stood up for what they believe in and accomplished great things. I am always on the lookout for stories of great women who made a difference in the world not because they were screaming and yelling or crying foul but because they got up and worked hard and had strong moral character. When I was presented the opportunity to review Ten Girls from History from Golden Prairie Press, I was thrilled. What could be better than a book about women of strong conviction who made a difference?

Ten Girls from History is a collection of short dramatizations of the lives of the following historical figures:
Louisa May Alcott: Author of Little Women
Clara Barton: The Angel of the Battlefield
Molly Pitcher: The Brave Gunner of the Battle of Monmouth
Cofachiqui: An Indian Princess
Madeleine De Vercheres: The Heroine of Castle Dangerous
Dorothy Quincy: A Girl of the American Revolution
Ida Lewis: The Heroine of Lime Rock Lighthouse
Elizabeth Van Lew: The Girl who Risked all for the Union
Virginia Reed: Midnight Heroine of the Plains
Clara Morris: The Girl who Won Fame as an Actress

Originally published in 1912 by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, Amy Puetz has edited out some of the sensuality and and romance from the original work and has republished this work for girls ages 10 and up. Ten Girls from History is available in pdf, epub, mobi, audiobook, and paperback book. The printed book and pdf version contain pictures while the epub and mobi versions do not.

I have really enjoyed reading these stories to myself. I have found that some of the stories are very inspiring, like the story of Molly Pitcher or Elizabeth Van Lew.  Others, like Cofachiqui were not as exciting and inspiring to me. Some showed amazing courage, effort, and bravery and others were just ok. I planned to read this out loud to my children, but I found that many of the stories were a little advanced for them, even as a read aloud. They were advanced because they are meaty in the history of the time.  We have not yet covered most of the time periods covered in these stories so they would not have made very much sense to my children. As a result, I think these stories will be a really great supplement to pull out when we reach the various eras of history in the stories.

I did read the story of Cofachiqui to the children and all of them enjoyed the story. The story of Cofachiqui was new to all of us, so after I read the story, I had to go on my computer to pull up the pdf version to show a picture. I wish the epub and mobi versions contained pictures of the characters as well. With historical characters, I think seeing a picture of the person helps to cement who the person is in the mind of the reader (or listener) and further brings her to life.

Ten Girls from History is available for $15 for the ebook or $25 for the audiobook or paperback book. Through the end of August, all versions are on sale for 20% off ($12 for ebook, $20 for paperback or audiobooks).

I found Ten Girls from History to be valuable for my own education and I look forward to sharing more of the stories with my children as we approach the revolutionary war, civil war, and other time periods these girls lived in.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed several books published by Golden Prairie Press so be sure to click the banner to read more reviews of Ten Girls from History as well as reviews on the other books like Heroines of the Past Bible study, Costumes with Character, and Uncover Exciting History.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sprouted Spelt Potato Bread… an experiment in baking

Tiger loves to watch Chef Brad’s Fusion Grain cooking show on our Roku player. He has always enjoyed cooking, but now at 10.5 he wants to cook more and more. This is good… and bad. Mostly he does a great job but sometimes he makes a big mess and gets a little too creative.
I remember I was first taught to bake bread as a married adult. Prior to that, I was freaked out to try. Bread was hard right? It was easy to mess up right? Tiger on the other hand is fearless in the kitchen. I think a large part of it comes from the fact that I don’t often follow recipes to a T coupled with I do make a lot from scratch including pie crust and occasionally bread. I was never afraid of making anything that I remember my mom making- but bread and pie crust were supposed to be too hard according to everyone I met. (For the record my mom says she made bread and I know she made pie crust but I don’t remember the bread and I don’t remember seeing her do either one).
So how did we come upon Sprouted Spelt Potato bread and what does this have to do with Chef Brad? Chef Brad made a spelt potato bread on the show. It looks so easy- dump the flour and the potato water in the Bosch mixer and voila- bread! Now he knew he couldn’t do that because I can’t eat flour and flour products. I can on the other hand eat sprouted grains so he had to start with sprouted flour… that in and of itself can create some challenges and changes with bread making. Furthermore, he wanted to duplicate Chef Brad’s recipe… but he wanted to use a gluten free rice sourdough starter instead of the sourdough starter called for in the original recipe. The big problem with that was that he had no idea that  sourdough starter would take several days and he wanted to make the bread ASAP! I also have no idea how it would work to start with a GF rice sourdough starter and then add sprouted spelt flour… someday we will try but this was not the time. I have a recipe for 100% sprouted wheat bread but it uses half moist grain and half dry sprouted grain that you then grind. In order to help him make this bread, I was going to have to get a little creative and help him.
We started with Traci’s Transformational Cookbook recipe for Sprouted Wheat bread and referred to several recipes for conventional bread   and then we changed it- almost entirely. Really the only thing we kept the same was the method.
Prep work:
Soak spelt overnight, drain, rinse, and dehydrate. Then grind and sift out 5 cups of flour.   
Boil 1 cubed potato in 2 1/2 cups of water. Measure out 1 cup water and take another cup and blend it with the potato.
1 cup hot potato water (105 or so degrees)
1T plus 1/4tsp Active Dry yeast
1 T honey
2tsp sea salt
4 1/2-5 cups sprouted spelt flour
1 T olive oil plus more to oil the surface, pan, and hands
Mix 1 cup hot potato water with honey, yeast, and oil. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place 3 cups of the sprouted spelt flour in a large bowl and mix in sea salt. Pour the yeast water and the blended potato water into the bowl. Stir to combine. Slowly add the remaining flour. After about 4 cups or so we turned it out on a well oiled board and kneaded the rest in with well oiled hands until he held together. Sprouted grain dough will be STICKY. If you knead it too long it will break down. Don’t knead more than 5 minutes or so. Shape into a well oiled pan and let rise until double- about 30 minutes depending on temperature. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes until browned on top. For softer crust, rub all crusts with olive oil.
We put just a bit more than half of the dough in the loaf pan and the rest we pat into a quiche pan. Tiger really wanted to make the rosemary flat bread Chef Brad had made too. I didn’t know that he had recommended not rising the dough and baking on a pizza stone at 500 for 7-8 minutes so we let our flatbread rise (it didn’t get as puffy as the regular bread)  and baked it with the regular bread. To make the flat bread, Tiger made finger dimples with his finger tips and then poured olive oil on top. A sprinkle of sea salt, pepper, and rosemary finished it off.
I have to say both breads turned out excellent. They are filling, tasty, and I would consider a success. They are not light and fluffy like white bread, but they are not super dense either.
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vegan Garden Fresh Corn Chowder

July  2012 022I have been searching for vegan once a month cooking recipes because I figure if I can pack a few in my freezer I will have some meals for when the baby comes or when I am not feeling well, etc. Also, they tend to be easy to fix so the burden on Tiger or my husband is a little lighter. I search for vegan because they don’t have dairy and meat to contend with even though we are not really vegan- fish is rarely found in the once a month cooking recipes I have seen.
So, on to the recipe. I started out by browsing the menu plans on Once A Month Mom and found a link to a non-vegetarian summer squash and corn chowder. It contained bacon, milk, and cheese. OAMM had changed the recipe to be vegetarian with vegetarian bacon… I changed it even further. Here is my version:
1 pound frozen corn + 1 cup extra frozen corn
4 zucchinis quartered and sliced
3-4 Yukon gold potatoes cubed in 1/4” cubes
2 leeks finely chopped
3 ribs celery finely chopped
2-3 carrots shredded
1 can coconut milk (I use organic Thai Coconut)
1 T olive oil
1 C water
1 tsp salt
pepper and other spices to taste
Put oil in the soup pot and sauté leeks a few minutes. Add potatoes and stir. Allow to sauté for a minute or two. Add celery and zuchini. Add 1 cup water and cover. Shred the carrots and add them. Make sure veggies are cooked and then blend coconut milk, salt, and 1lb of corn and pour into pot. Add in extra 1 cup frozen corn. Bring to a boil and then serve. We sprinkled some pepper and Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset on top. It was creamy and delicious. I probably should have had Tiger chop some fresh parsley and stir that in right before serving but I didn’t think about that until I was posting the recipe. That would have been tasty.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

How do you do it? Schooling More than One Grade at a Time.

When people find out I homeschool, they often respond with something like, “Oh, I could never do that!” or “I know someone who homeschools” or “I don’t have the patience” and sometimes “I wish I could homeschool.” When they find out that I have four children and am expecting number five, they say, “How do you do teach them all?”

I have always figured that the great founders of the United States were schooled in a one room schoolhouse with many grades. If those 18 year old young women with barely more education than their pupils could do it than there must be a way! In talking with other families with many grades, I have found that no one teaches 7-11 subjects 4+ different times per day with each subject tailored to each grade level the way a public school would today. Every family is going to be different, but I will share what works for my family.
In my home I break up things that must be done individually- learning to read and math and those that can be done together- history, science, art, music, exercise, language, read-aloud books, devotional, scriptures, etc. As you can see, almost everything can be done together. I generally teach to the oldest but explain concepts to the youngest. I ask questions to make sure that all students are understanding. Whatever work I ask to be completed is then done according to the level of the child. For example, I might have a notebooking page on the parts of a flower. Tiger will be off and running and do it himself. Butterfly will do it but ask me how to spell certain words- most of which I will probably have already written on the white board so she can refer to them. Then I take Pumpkin Pie and ask her to orally tell me what she remembers and I write it down for her. I will have her copy a few words. In this way, the bulk of the teaching is done collectively but each child can work to his or her own level.

We always start our day with group time where we cover all our together subjects. After group time, we have individual learning time. During individual learning time I take children aside to work with them on math or reading or something they need help with. Often Strawberry sits on my lap or next to me looking at books or playing with toys while I do this.

Speaking of Strawberry, what on earth do I do with her while I am teaching the older ones!? I bring her along. She either helps us, sits on my lap, plays with special school time toys, colors, or looks at books. Sometimes I hand her math manipulatives that she never gets to play with except during school. When Pumpkin Pie was 2, she sat smack dab in the middle of the dining table during school time playing with the math manipulatives. This kept her happy and out of everyone’s work so I let her stay in the middle of the table. Whatever works!

Checkout what the other Schoolhouse Crew members do with their large families.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

This Week in History: Schoolhouse Review

This Week in History is a weekly subscription website with an amazing variety of historical content for each day of the year highlighting what happened on a given day in history. It is a subscription area of the very informational A Thomas Jefferson Education website. Whether you subscribe to the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy or not, this is not a resource to pass by.

Over the years I have seen many lists of what happened in history but none have been as well done as This Week in History.  Most of those lists are just that- lists. This Week in History is so much more than a list of dates. Rachel DeMille has taken the time to find famous as well as more obscure things that happened in history. All of the days she highlights are relevant to a homeschooling family. For example, one day in July she highlighted Carlo Lorenzini’s birthday. Lorenzini is better known as Collodi or the author of Pinocchio.  Following several pictures and a brief explanation, there are quite a few resource links on the topic. Some resource links are informational while others are activities or coloring pages. She then has a section of possible discussion questions. My favorite part are the rabbit trails that sometimes follow the topic. In the case of Lorenzini, she finishes with “What do you know about crickets?” and then takes the readers on a rabbit trail about crickets including more resources for exploration.  The items DeMille highlights cover all subjects. One day might be mostly literature, the next science, and the next the history of a state or a nation, still the next might cover music or a fun trivia like “National Lasagna Day” or “Friendship Day.”

This Week in History is not just a website with the current week’s materials. There is an archives available as well. The archives are searchable by date, keyword, or topic.  Although many of the topics will be brought back in a year, DeMille is always checking, updating, and editing her resources so the list is not stagnant. During the time of the review, the email was sent out for the end of July through beginning of August. A few days later, we received an updated content email with more resources for one of the days as well as a new topic. In addition to the archives and website, there is a weekly email sent out with the week’s information so you don’t even need to log into the website to access all the great resources!

I have been overjoyed with This Week in History. A few weeks ago in the resources section, it highlighted a video I had never heard of that was of high quality about the Constitutional Congress.  I was able to check it out from my library and watch it with my children. Another day my son went on a scavenger hunt about a state. I think as we get back into out normal school routine this will become an even greater resource for our group time.

This week in History is a monthly subscription for $9.99 and can be used by any homeschoolers no matter what the philosophy or grades. It is well organized and run and customer service was excellent. I loved This Week in History, maybe you will too!

Please be sure to check out what other crew members thought.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 6, 2012

How do you keep track of 100 Library Books?

I was recently asked the question of how I keep track of 100 library books. Since the answer is more than a sentence long, I thought I would post the answer here...

In 8 years I have lost ONE book... That book was found on my desk and the library refunded my fees.
We have specific locations for library books. We have a shelf upstairs for library books in our school room. Most books stay there. Often there are a couple books the kids are reading and those will be in their room by their bed. When they are done, they come back to the school room. I do have a shelf downstairs too for books that find their way downstairs.

Generally I only go to the library 2 days a week (yes 2) because those are the days I am around the corner from the library anyway. By confining my library trips to certain days, I always have my books due on the days I am going in.

Additionally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Library Elf. Thankfully our library provides the service but I would subscribe if they didn't because it saves me time, effort, and money. Library Elf sends me an email when library books are due in a few days, due, or overdue. It shows me what is due on all cards (we sometimes have books due on up to 3 cards but I usually keep all books on 1 card) and I can also see what books are ready to pick up in one email. On my library days, I go through my library elf email. If there are books I want to renew, I go to the library website and renew otherwise I pluck them from the shelves and take them back.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Homeschooling isn’t just inside the house…


I remember when I first thought about homeschooling, the commonly held belief was that homeschoolers stayed home all the time and never left the house.  Many people believed that a homeschooled child would be sheltered and not have enough socialization. Some of those children did (and do) exist, but by far the majority of homeschoolers I have ever met do some parts of their schooling outside of the home with other homeschoolers. These group endeavors are sometimes formal co-ops and sometimes informal weekly meetings for field trips or park days. Some co-ops are academically rigorous covering all topics, others are eclectic, and still others are enrichment opportunities.

This coming fall I am so excited that our family will be part of a new “co-op” we have a wonderful group of homeschooling friends that all are using a Leadership Education philosophy to guide their schooling. These moms are excited to get together each week to give our children opportunities to grow as friends both socially and educationally. In our co-op, we will be having a place for all children from the little ones to the oldest. We will have a mom and me preschool/play time, a game and reading room for kids out of class, and classes for various students.

We aren’t focusing on presenting the 3Rs for our co-op. This is an enrichment opportunity where the teachers are excited about something or see a need for their children and are opening up a class to facilitate providing for that need. I get to teach two classes this fall. The first one is a 6 week class to help Pumpkin Pie and other 6/7 year olds prepare to visit the King Tut exhibit. Why did I choose King Tut? I saw a need for Pumpkin Pie. The King Tut exhibit is making its last stop in the US and Butterfly and Tiger will have an opportunity to take a class to prepare with another mom. Since Pumpkin Pie is too young to attend the other class, I decided to teach it for her and the others that are her age and can’t attend the class for older children.  Then, after King Tut, I will be teaching a hands-on math exploration class for 10+. Again, I see a need for Tiger. He loves math and needs some opportunities to play with and be with some older kids whom he can relate to. This class is not a how-to-do math class but rather a project based class to have fun with math. 

During the time I am teaching, my other children will have opportunities to attend classes like book clubs for girls using high quality literature, cooking, and playgroup. I can’t wait!