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, May 23, 2014

A Wonderful Afternoon

What do our afternoons look like? IMG_2477

While Little One naps, the rest of us are pursuing great books.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Gift for Her Sister

Butterfly wanted to make a canopy for Strawberry’s bed. I am not sure what spurred the thought, but she has been working on this project for several weeks. First she drew her plans, B helped her measure dimensions and then she and B went to the hardware store and bought PVC pipe. Together they built the frame for the canopy. Then she took an old sheet and measured the panels and cut it up. She sewed all the edges and today she presented her present to Strawberry. Strawberry loves her bed.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Why Mothers Get Gray

My Mother’s Day flowers didn’t stand a chance…


And yet my older children don’t seem to understand how important it is to push the dining chairs in!IMG_2432

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Micro Business for Teens- Schoolhouse Review

Micro Business for Teens Review
My children are always trying to come up with businesses to earn money with. I have pictures of them when they were very small waving signs at the end of our driveway hoping someone would drive through our cul-de-sac and buy their artwork. Over the years, many of their business ideas have not been very practical, but they tried them anyway. As they get older, they have more desire to learn about creating a business that will be practical. Recently, Tiger got to review two eBooks and a workbook from Micro Business for Teens to help him create a worthwhile micro business.  He reviewed the Starting a Micro Business, Running a Micro Business, and Micro Business for Teens Workbook. All three products are geared towards youth 12-18, but I think a motivated 11 year old could really benefit from these books as well.
Micro Business for Teens ReviewFrom brainstorming business ideas to writing a business plan to finance and motivational words, Starting a Micro Business book is designed to assist youth become successful micro business owners. It costs $4.95 for an eBook and is also available in paperback for $9.95. Starting a Micro Business was written because Carol Topp, a CPA and mom of two, found that so many entrepreneurial books do not meet the needs of teens. They are either not complex enough or they set unreasonable expectations and recommend unreasonable processes. Topp aims to teach about the various aspects of being a micro business owner while maintaining time for education and other responsibilities. It provides practical and relevant advise without dumbing down the information. Throughout the book many business ideas real teens have implemented as micro business owners are highlighted. Easy to read and understand, Starting a Micro Business uses plain language that leaves the reader understanding business terminology without being dry or overly technical. Each chapter ends with a bullet point list of “Important Points.” I love that there is an entire section dedicated to warning about scams as well as a chapter on avoiding pitfalls, problems, and solutions to the problems. The chapter on business planning is very well laid out and would benefit any micro business owner. I wish Tiger had had this book a year ago when he started his micro business. I also really liked all the quotes from classics and people scattered throughout the book. For example, in the chapter on finance, there are quotes from the Bible, Hamlet, and Benjamin Franklin to name a few.

Micro Business for Teens ReviewRunning a Micro Business is written for the teen who has already figured out the business plan, financing, and is ready to go. It is the perfect follow up to Starting a Micro Business because it details sales, marketing, customer service, record keeping, bookkeeping, software, legal names and tax ID numbers, risks and solutions, and time management. Like the first book in the series, Running a Micro Business gives practical advise on how to run a business. It costs $4.95 for an eBook and is also available in paperback for $9.95. In the chapter on sales, it discusses how to get sales, how to get paid, and how to handle non-paying customers. It also addresses both in person and online sales. This book also includes quotes and important points. Throughout this book, various people are highlighted in side bubbles. This time, rather than highlighting business plans, these people are highlighted based on characteristics they possess which would be good for business. They are small stories of appropriate behavior as well as inappropriate behavior along with what went wrong.

Micro Business for Teens ReviewThe Micro Business for Teens workbook is designed to be used by the teens. It is just under 100 pages and costs $9.95 for an eBook copy or $14.95 for a physical copy. It can be used both independently or as part of a class. If it is used as part of a class, it is recommended that it be used over 14 weeks along with the two texts. If it is used indecently at about a chapter a week it could be completed over about 3 months. The workbook is designed to help students better internalize the material in the texts. The first half of the workbook corresponds Starting a Micro Business and the second half corresponds to Running a Micro Business. It provides a place for the teens to brainstorm and wrestle with the ideas and information they learn in the texts. Some parts of the workbook seemed to be comprehension fill-in sheets and not really that useful, but most of the workbook was excellent. It takes a student through brainstorming, narrowing down choices, clarifying ideas, finding mentors, problem solving problems, writing a business plan, and getting started. If used, I think this workbook could really benefit a youth in his endeavors to create a profitable business venture.

Since this was used entirely by Tiger, and he has been running a micro business for the past year, I asked him to write a review. The following is his review:

I thought that the curriculum was overall beneficial and helpful to teenagers starting businesses. The author calls it a “Micro Business” and showed how it differentiated from other businesses. Here are some of the key points that a Micro Business has in the books: Simple and easy to start up; Only one worker, the owner; Low Risk; Learn while Earning.

I thought that these and a lot of the other traits listed in the book were very helpful and useful. There were motivating business stories in little sidelines of the page. Those were rather fun and motivating. The first book covers a lot of topics such as getting an idea for a business, problems and how to avoid scam and phishing, especially if your business is online, writing a business plan, and encouragement. The 2nd book covers things such as customer service, sales, marketing, and keeping records.

I thought that the books were very helpful in beginning and keeping a business going, how to expand later, keeping it under control, etc. I currently run a “Micro Business” and these books have helped me with ideas for another one, and have helped me to improve my current one. I briefly looked at the workbook and think that it is good for examining and writing a business plan and fine-tuning. The fill-in the blanks for reviewing the chapters didn’t seem to help much. I thought that the business plan was very thorough and easy to change if needed. Overall I enjoyed this product; it covers everything from getting your micro business off the launch pad to fine-tuning your services and finances.

I have seen many entrepreneurial products on the market geared towards children and teens. I think and this one is not only excellent, but also well priced. 

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14 months


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History- Schoolhouse Review

Golden Prairie Press Review

I love American History. I think it is fun to read about the people and events that shaped our nation and I want to share that history with my children. I was quite excited to have a chance to review Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum from Golden Prairie Press. This curriculum is intended for children in 1-6th grade and costs $98.99 for the complete curriculum. The complete curriculum includes the 2-semester Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History, Additional Materials Downloads, Historical Skits eBook, Sing Some History mp3 files, and Listen to Some U.S. History mp3 files.

Golden Prairie Press ReviewIntended to be used as a complete curriculum for American History, there are several components. The largest component is the Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History eBook. It is presented in two parts. Each book is divided up into 15 sections with 5 lessons in each section. The history lessons are divided into two halves with one being simplified for 1-2 grade and the other half being more thorough with smaller type and intended for 3-6th grade. Most of the sections include a biographical sketch of a Hero or Heroine of the past. These are sometimes written by modern authors but many are reprints of old stories. These sketches are intended for children of all ages. Each lesson also contains additional activities like discussion questions, writing prompts, a memory verse of the week, crafts, skits, cooking, experiments, geography, listening to music or other pieces, or examining historical art. At the end of a unit (1 or more sections) additional resources like books that could be read aloud are suggested. These are not necessary, but can add more to the study of history. Also, there are occasional places within the text that suggest additional study within another literature book published by Golden Prairie Press. While these are nice to use, they are not necessary or required.

This book is mostly black and white but also features full color reproductions of art throughout to compliment the text. The text is well written and even the 1-2nd grade portions are not watered down, they just contain a little less detail. The language is rich and the biographical sketches are interesting. I love that when a name of a place or person or other “big word” that might be unfamiliar is presented there is a phonetic pronunciation right after the word the first time it is used. Every page is rich with beautiful illustrations, paintings, portraits, and maps. I love the focus on people, important events, and beautiful art to help bring it alive. The book is really excellent quality. My only complaint is that sometimes reading it on a Kindle Fire meant that the pictures were smaller than I wanted. I had to turn to the computer to blow those pictures up to a larger size, but that was a small problem. I also like that all the activities that surround the lessons are not a bunch of silly arts and crafts but rather are meaningful experiences. For example, we were talking about the Puritans and there is a “Cook some History” to make a Scripture Cake like the Puritans did. April 2014_0584We had to look up various scriptures to find our ingredients and then make the cake. I was grateful that the end of the book contains the answers since I wasn’t sure what kind of leavening to use based on the scripture! The girls really enjoyed making their cake. It turned out beautifully. April 2014_0585April 2014_0586

April 2014_0590Pumpkin Pie enjoyed the art study questions. Butterfly enjoyed looking at the paintings but didn’t care to talk about them. Strawberry flitted back and forth. I also really love the games of the past. They are great at helping children see what children in another time would have played. The games are fun and the directions are well written.

Sing Some History includes 20 songs, mostly folk songs and a couple of instrumental ones. These are intended to be listened to throughout the year to compliment the history studies. Some of the songs sounded like children gathered around a computer microphone. In some cases, it is slightly off key and the singers are singing different tempos even though the music should be sung in unison. Others were better, but still didn’t sound professionally mixed. The few pieces we got to my children were not interested in listening to. We did, however sing some of the songs as they are printed in the text.

There are some really fun materials on the Additional Materials CD. For example a reproduction of a game from a newspaper published in 1890 that can be printed and played. There are videos about the cotton gin and flags of the Revolution. There are also several timeline resources. One of my favorite files was the 48 full color paintings that are represented throughout the book. These paintings are full sized and could be printed in color or viewed more easily from a computer screen full sized for art studies.

The Historical Skits eBook includes nineteen skits to do with small groups of students. These skits are intended to help the history come alive. This would be really fun in a co-op type setting. Unfortunately, with my girls, we were not able to do any of the skits. They are cute short (less than 10 minute) plays in 1 or 2 scenes. The dialog us fun. I would love to do a history skit day with a bunch of kids and act out American History through these skits. That would be a lot of fun.

The Listen to Some History contains 4 hours and 35 minutes of listening to original speeches, poems, documents, and sermons that are mentioned in the book.  These 20 pieces span the time from the settling of America and the Mayflower Compact to World War 1. It includes such important items as the Gettysburg Address and the Bill of Rights as well as things like the a diary entry from a woman in during the Civil War.  These 20 works are read by various speakers and are well chosen and clearly spoken.

Overall I really like this product, but especially the eBooks. I think they are well laid out, include many interesting facts and stories, and the activities aren’t just fluffy crafts that won’t mean much to the students. I do think that some of the additional resources could be a little more professionally produced though. While not common, as most things are well labeled, one lesson I did with the girls suggested I show the videos on the Virginia Wheel and weaving. I looked in the spot specified for a video called Virginia Wheel and discovered that it wasn’t there. Instead, there was a PDF file labeled “videos” which contained links to the appropriate videos. Since I hadn’t been expecting a PDF file, it took me a while to find it. Most of the videos are black and white old film clips. The one of the Virginia Wheel is a home video of several ladies performing the dance. If the additional resources were brought up to the excellent standard that the texts are this would be an even better curriculum. We have really enjoyed reading Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History and will be continuing to read it and doing some of the activities associated with it.

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Math- Also known as Play

I was reading Life of Fred Cats to Pumpkin Pie today and Fred noted that we have all seen people mop and paint houses so we know what painters and cleaners are but we don’t watch mathematicians and therefore don’t know what they do. He said the secret is that mathematicians play and discover the world and numbers. So, that is what we did- how many numbers can be made into a box? IMG_2377

Monday, May 12, 2014

Why Chores for Consequences?

When people here that my children earn an extra chore as a consequence, I am met with one of two responses. 1- “I prefer something logical. I would worry my children would hate work and I need them to do their chores.” Or 2- “That’s brilliant. I should try that!”

So, I thought I would address why extra chores and why it has not produced the undesired effect of making work abhorrent.

For the past four years we have utilized the principles that Nicholeen Peck teaches in her book Teaching Self Government. I must admit, I was on the fence about the whole chore thing. I really liked the idea of logical consequences. They made logical sense to me. However, when push came to shove, I didn’t always have a logical consequence in my back pocket for every issue that needed discipline and many times the “logical” consequence lead to power struggles and did not create harmony. I decided to experiment with Nicholeen’s suggestion. She says that poor behavior is a sign of sick character and the cure for sick character is work. While I agree with that, I needed some direct logic. I decided that one who is breaking family rules is taking from the family and thus a chore constitutes giving back a small measure.

So, initially when we introduced extra chores, we did have a couple of teaching opportunities where an instruction was given to do a small task and the child said, “Why do I need to do a chore? I didn’t do anything wrong.” Once we talked it through, explaining that the extra chore is just that- extra- meant to temporarily take the offender away from their preferred activity so that he or she can learn cause and effect and give back to the family as well as improve his or her character, the concern stopped. I haven’t heard a response like that in years.

Family work is a part of our home and my children are expected to work. They are also expected to follow instructions. They know they are always allowed to disagree appropriately with an instruction that is given and sometimes we might change our minds about the instruction, but tasks and errands are instructions and therefore, they really aren’t a big deal most of the time. Also, when we dispense with an extra chore, we don’t measure the chore against the offense. We are not trying to punish but rather teach cause and effect.  The real teaching comes from a calm discussion and possibly problem solving exercise.

Another reason for doing extra chores is that no matter where I am, I can come up with a consequence. I don’t have to think that hard. There is always something that needs doing! Doing that chore temporarily curtails the child’s freedom and the child comes back happier and calmer and ready to do better because when he or she checks back, the child experiences self-mastery and has success. Since it is just a chore, it is short lived and we move on with life, thus consequences don’t hang on for long periods of time sapping relationships.

We aren’t perfect at implementing Teaching Self Government, but when I can tell my 4 year old to do something and she cheerfully says, “Of course!” or I can ask my 12 year old who has already done all the dishes to take the garbage out and says, “Ok.” and does it the chores aren’t creating a hate of work. I think they might be doing the opposite. Those chores are giving them the sense of satisfaction in a job well done they need. They help the kids get out of the rut of negative attention seeking. They really are working.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Maestro Classics- Schoolhouse Review

Maestro Classics Review
I love music, especially good music and I love to expose my children to classical music in an enjoyable way.  I am thrilled with a new resource from Maestro Classics I recently got to review. Maestro Classics specializes in music education through stories set to quality classical music. Maestro Classics CDs have won over 45 awards. I received a CD of The Sorcerer's Apprentice and a CD of  Casey at the Bat. The ideal age range for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is 6 and older and Casey at the Bat is appropriate for all ages. They cost $16.98 for the CD and are also available as an mp3 download for $9.98.
Both The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Casey at the Bat are intended to be interactive. The narrators speak to the listener and invite participation frequently. I really liked the interaction of the disc. At times it was like having a music teacher in my car while we were listening. I loved the explanations about how the music was composed or modified to create a certain sound. Each album also comes with a 24-page activity book that includes little puzzles like word searches and crossword puzzles, extra information, sheet music, and trivia specific to the album. Casey at the Bat includes the poem and Sorcerer’s Apprentice includes a biography of Dukas.
  Maestro Classics Review The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice set to the music of Paul Dukas. The music is played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Following the 11 and a half minute presentation, there are several educational tracks. I personally found the history of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and biographical sketch of Dukas fascinating. The next several tracks of the CD explain how the piece was composed including various themes present in the music and percussion listening. After further education on the musical work, the students are invited to listen again without narration. Then there is a short track explaining how to make music with household materials and a play along track.
Maestro Classics Review Casey at the Bat is also played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The narration of the poem combined with sound effects really brings this iconic poem to life. There is a track about the poem, poet, and how Casey at the Bat became popular as well as why there are various versions of this poem. The rest of the disc includes discussions about composing music. To illustrate the poem Little Cabin in the Woods is used both with the original music as well as a new composition to tell the story. After several tracks about composition, Casey at the Bat is played again. There is also a track with young Suzuki violinists playing the Casey march and a play along section at the very end of the CD.
The only time we ever really sit and listen to a CD or audiobook is while we are in the car so that is where we listened to both of these albums. We loved them both. The music and sound effects were superb, the narration was interesting and entertaining, and even the heart of my 4 year old was captured with Casey at the Bat. For a week or two every time we got in the car she asked to listen to Casey again. I think of the two, my favorite was the Sorcerer’s Apprentice though. The music was so beautiful and I enjoyed the track without narration and I really loved how the different motifs of music were explained and then changed a little and explained again. I also must say that I could picture the cartoon many of us have seen while I listened. I wanted to get up and dance with the brooms, but since I was driving when we listened to these albums I restrained myself. The one thing that I didn’t like is that occasionally the narrator’s tone would drop very low and it was hard to hear in our car, but that would not have been a problem if we were primarily listening in the house. We didn’t utilize the booklets because they seemed to be a bit young for my older kids and a bit too advanced for my younger kids. Also, since we were in the car, there wasn’t a very good time to use them. I was really impressed with the high quality of both of these albums and would love to listen to more albums from Maestro Classics. I also just discovered as I was finishing up this review that there are homeschool resource guides to all the albums available for free on the website. These guides include additional printables as well as unit study resources to turn your album into an integral part of a unit study. I am going to have to look more into those! Be sure to check out the reviews because the Review Crew also reviewed several other albums from Maestro Classics.
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Monday, May 5, 2014


We did something slightly new with our egg dying this year- we used sticker stencils on the eggs. I always liked the idea of wax resists on eggs, but I never had a ton of success with it. This year I saw a kit that had sticker stencils and thought they might be fun. They were! The kids loved them. April 2014_0821April 2014_0820April 2014_0752April 2014_0818April 2014_0744April 2014_0746

On Sunday after church we had an egg hunt. It was too fun. I hid 1 egg a little harder than the rest… April 2014_0776See that yellowish blob on the car between the hood and the windshield? hehehe I figured that would be a challenge for Tiger, but in the end Strawberry found it while riding on B’s shoulders. And I managed to capture her joy as she cackled over the fact that her siblings didn’t find it. April 2014_0780

April 2014_0768April 2014_0767April 2014_0766April 2014_0760April 2014_0771April 2014_0781

Then we came inside and had a small gift for each child. Little one was most interested in the boxes, paper, and empty eggs.  April 2014_0810April 2014_0806April 2014_0790April 2014_0788

Tiger was super excited to get a co-operative game to play with the family. April 2014_0800April 2014_0795April 2014_0784

It was a beautiful Easter with many family memories and discussions of the Risen Lord.