Nature Explorers ~ Squirrels

10/31/2009

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~Mali is 4.8 years and Elli is 2.9 years old~


If you give a mom two weeks to do a lesson on squirrels, she will have way too much fun with it! Here is what I have been doing to explore nature with my young children.




We have lots of these little furry creatures living in our neighborhood.

First, we read a cute squirrel book:






This was a fun, predictable book, that Elli was able to read with me after reading it together several times. The leaves are falling and the air is getting cold, so squirrel is busy getting ready for winter. He couldn't stop to play, because he was so busy!

We learned a lot about squirrels in the book, Nature for the Very Young: A Handbook of Indoor and Outdoor Activities. One of the things we learned is that squirrels like to nibble on pinecones, so we took a walk to find pinecones and did a Tot School activity with them.




Collecting pinecones.




Elli transferred pinecones with tongs into an egg carton.

She is giggling because "something" doesn't belong. Can you tell what? She also claimed a pine cone as her "cute little baby." It cracked me up so much that I had to share this short video!



I also had her count them when she was done. She counted to 13 and then skipped to 18.

Squirrels like to eat acorns so for an indoor activity, we made acorn cookies from a great peanut butter cookie recipe that can be rolled out:

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. butter
  • 2 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 T vanilla
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. salt

Cream butter, sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Then add egg, milk and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and stir into mixture until well blended. {Note, I forgot the eggs and the cookies came out great}

While the dough is still soft, place a ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper and roll into a sheet. Place on cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm. Then cut cookies into desired shape and bake as usual. (8-10 minutes at 375 degrees). This recipe is an adaptation from the Delicious Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. {Halve for smaller families}

We dipped the tops in melted chocolate. If they look good, it is because they were!

Peanut butter acorn cookies.

We went to the park to learn more about squirrels. We did an experiment to find out what squirrels will eat. We laid out different foods like nuts, fruit vegetables, etc. in a place where we could observe it to see which foods are eaten first.


Our squirrel buffet.

We included:
  1. Pine cone (we read that squirrels like to nibble on pinecones)
  2. Pine cone with peanut butter
  3. Peanuts
  4. Almonds
  5. Rolled oats
  6. Whole grain banana muffin
  7. Flax and sunflower toast w/ butter
  8. Peanut butter cookie
  9. Squash chips
  10. Apple
  11. Cheese
  12. Sunflower Seeds



We set the egg carton filled with food under a big tree in our city park.

My little Nature Explorers



Observing the squirrels and recording what they learned.




Mali did not think the squirrels would like anything we brought. He thought they would only eat acorns. Elli thought they would like everything.

Our squirrels liked the:
  1. banana muffin
  2. pine cone with peanut butter
  3. peanut butter cookie
  4. toast
  5. peanuts
  6. almonds
  7. sunflower seeds
  8. cheese


They went after the home baked goods first! And apparently the squirrels at our park do not like fruits and veggies. I thought it was funny that one squirrel moved the apple out of the way.

We also thought it was funny that the squirrels quarreled over the food and attacked each other for it.



And they are pretty brave when they want food.



I got a comment about this video on You Tube that squirrels do eat people. From what I could find, squirrels are primarily vegetarians that eat nuts, fruits, fungi, lichens, buds, mushrooms, roots, pine cones, leaves, twigs and bark; but, if faced with hunger they have been known to eat bird eggs, snakes and insects. I do think squirrels carry disease and do bite, so while you can hand feed the squirrels at our park, I do not encourage this.

Afterwards, we had fun pretending to be a squirrel. We hopped, galloped, leaped and climbed like squirrels. We even tried walking on a movable balance bean pretending it was a branch swaying in the wind!

Squirrels have great balance!


Squirrels can climb really good!

The idea for this tree comes straight from the nature book mentioned above. I originally saw it and didn't think I was ambitious enough, but Jen's video (in her post here) on how to make it encouraged me. It turned out colorful and fun.



Dress Me Oak Tree

Elli had a little difficulty with the snaps, but still enjoyed dressing the oak tree with baby squirrels, acorns and leaves made out of felt.

X is for X-Ray

~Malachi is 4 years 8 months~

Our activities this week focused on the letter X.

Bible:
(Sing the Word from A-Z)

eXcept ye be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew chapter eighteen, verse three.

Books:

(All of our reading this week was focused on our Biblical History lessons. One concept we used for the letter X is ex nilo ~ which means "out of nothing" in reference to when God created because He created something out of nothing. We have a movie from Answers in Genesis on this called the X-Nilo Show and I used that reinforce this concept and the letter X).

Go For the Code:

This week we finished our LAST letter in the Explode the Code Primer series. I can see why X is the last consonant in the primer. The vocabulary words for this lesson include fix, six, box, axe, fox, and mix. This time we had to listen for the sound at the end of the word. Since all the other letters focus on the beginning sound, this was a bit confusing for Malachi when it came to completing the lessons in the book. We worked through the X pages, but will continue to finish the practice pages over the next week.

We will continue on with the vowels E, O and U and then we will be done with our Alphabet Fun. I do not plan to start the Explode the Code series until he is ready. I will spend the next few months doing a few unit studies of Malachi's choosing. He tells me all the time about the things he wants to learn about and often comes to me with ideas of what to do for school. So, it will be fun to see what he comes up with.

I will share a few other things we are planning to do to prepare Mali for Kindergarden in an upcoming post (I was going to include it here, but it was getting too long!).

eXtra Activities:

Chex Mix (remember we are focusing on the ending sound!)

One of my favorite Chex recipes, Chex Carmel Corn (with a few healthier modifications):

Bring to boil over medium heat:
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar (I would have used succanat but I was out)
  • 4 T agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Then pour over:
  • 8 cups air popped mulit-colored popcorn
  • 8 cups Health Valley Rice Crunch-Ems (all natural)
  • 1/2 c. peanuts
Mali is quite a character.

If you like a crunchy carmel corn, then you can bake it at 250 degrees for 45 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes). My husband likes it soft, so we had carmel corn in 15 minutes! It is not my family recipe, but we had to sneak in a Chex recipe for the letter X!

X's and O's and Tic Tac Toe:

We practiced making X's and O's by playing Tic Tac Toe!

Tic tac toe, three i's in a row? After our first game with x's and o's he wanted to use other letters. So, Nathan and I were the x's. Mali caught on quick to the game and we had several "cat's games."

Lap/Scrapbook:

For our scrapbook page, I found a printable X-ray activity from ABC Teach, and several lapbook activities from Homeschool Share's Alphabet Lap-n-Note.

We saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last week ~ if you have seen the movie, you will understand why he has puffed up cheeks, lol. {As a pursuer of quality children's entertainment, I will say that I was not that impressed with the movie ~ just didn't have the impact that Meet the Robinsons had!}


He loves that Cowboy hat!

Mali cut out the X and made a puzzle with it. He completed another puzzle too, but did not want to glue them down, so I glued a piece of cardstock where the puzzle would go, so he can play (see below).

We had fun singing the Hunting We Will Go Song and Mali also cut out a fox from his Kumon Book of Cutting (he really got into that this week and cut several things out).


Math:

Next: We practiced with numbers and which number comes next.

Six: We counted to six with everyday objects. We also reviewed our study on the six days of creation. (I think it is important to live by our faith in all of the activities we do and tie them in whenever we can. The activities that we choose to place our emphasis on can say a lot about our walk with the Father. We want to be pleasing to Him in all aspects of our faith.)

This week, we also did activities for Nature Explorers and had a lot of fun with squirrels!

We have had lots of Alphabet Fun this year and I am excited to put it all together in a scrapbook for Mali. Also excited about what we will be doing next.

Thanks to Jolanthe for hosting another week of The Preschool Corner ~ be sure to visit her blog to see what she and others are doing in their preschool corner.

ABC Teach

10/29/2009
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I have always wondered about the benefits of online memberships for teachers, so I was thrilled to receive a trial membership to ABC Teach as a member of the Crew. For $40 a year, an ABC Teach membership includes access to over 35,000 pages of printable worksheets and activities, abctools, exclusive custom document generators, and more. In the directory, you will find a wide range of categories such as:
  • Language arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • History
  • Theme units
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Puzzles/games
  • Arts and crafts
  • Think Green, Teach Green
You are sure to find something for your pre-k through 8th grader, especially because they add new worksheets to the site weekly and feature them in a newsletter. However, I must admit that while I did find a few things that I was able to use (such as the printables for our preschool lesson Z is for Zoo), I was not that impressed with the membership. I didn't find myself rushing to download a bunch of printables before my membership expired, and I did not opt to renew (even though I had the opportunity to renew for half price). A few things influenced my feelings:
  • we don't use a lot of worksheets (I prefer notebooking pages)
  • the handwriting generator was useless to me (we use Getty-Dubay handwriting and that was not an option)
  • abcteach is a secular site and Christian printables were not an option (I was really hoping for some supplemental activities for when we studied creation)
  • it seemed more geared towards public school teachers
  • there are other sites that I find more valuable that are free
If the above issues don't apply to you, you just might like the variety of printables available at ABC Teach. Be sure to see other Crew member reviews of ABC Teach for more info. To visit the Crew blog, click on the banner below!
I received a trial membership for free in exchange for my review. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

My Access! Home Edition Review

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Do you ever wonder if your child has gaps in his writing? I do. My kids don't like to write (unless they are writing a story or notebooking) so I was excited to receive a subscription to MY Access!® Home Edition to review for the Crew. MY Access!® Home Edition, by Vantage Learning, is an online writing program designed to guide students through the writing process with engaging and interactive writing activities, self-guided instruction and motivating feedback. What's Included?
  • Each 12-month subscription to MY Access!® Home Edition includes one parent account and your choice of up to six student accounts.
  • MY Access!® is completely web-based and you can use it anywhere you have a computer and internet access.
  • 90 writing topics for three different age groups (8-10, 11-14, and 15-18) encourage students to begin writing immediately.
  • Self-paced and interactive lessons guide students through the writing process: planning, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
  • Graphic organizers and other printable resources help students plan successful essays.
  • Essay scoring and individualized feedback is available immediately through an artificial intelligence scoring engine.
  • Activities on the key traits of writing: focus, content development, organization, language use, and grammar.
  • A word processor with editing and writing tools including a thesaurus, grammar-checker, spell-checker, and word bank lists help students vary and develop their vocabulary.
  • and more!
Click here to see the demos available for this product. The Writing Dashboard provides information about each students's overall progress (below proficient, proficient or advanced proficient) and specific progress. As a parent or teacher, you can:
  • manage all of your accounts (including login information for each student)
  • opt to receive a weekly or monthly progress report about your students progress
  • assign a writing topic from a list of available topics or enter your own topic
  • set goals and awards for incentive points
  • view your order history and see how many days are left in your subscription
  • monitor progress, read written submissions and more
My thoughts: I used this program with 3 students and I love that this program is self-paced and interactive. Each child was able to work on their own and were able to navigate through the program with ease. They loved earning activity points by completing writing activities (such as reading an essay and answering questions about it). If they didn't understand a concept, then they could use the Resources tab to look up that concept. However, it would have been nice to have a concept linked directly to the resource, rather than having the child guess which category their concept fit under. Such as if your 9 year old forgets what a comma is and doesn't know that it can be found under "punctuation" in the topic list. But, it is definitely a program that your kids can navigate through with ease. Furthermore, they were able to earn points with the writing activities. This was motivating for them. I think the point system could be improved, though. My kids learned that you can memorize the answers (only 3 to remember), repeat the activity and then plug in the answers again to get more points. In other words, they can cheat for points. So, we had to do away with the whole point system (and have a talk about that). And without the point system, I did not have a way to gauge how well they were doing on the writing activities (unless I sat there with them while they did them). So, while it seemed a neat feature at first, it didn't work for us. For the actual writing part of the program, we loved the word processor with editing and writing tools. Everything they need to write with is at their fingertips. I did have a hard time getting them to focus on the actual writing instead of on the font, font size, spacing, and all of the other distractions. They were just not very productive during their computer time. For the purpose of this review, I created a writing topic and had them submit a writing that they did for our regular writing curriculum, instead of having them submit a newly written essay. Then, then revised it to see if they could improve it. I liked this a little better, because instead of trying to write, they tried to make their writing better. In the future (and I do plan to continue using the program), I will have them first complete the writing assignment on paper and then have them enter the rough draft. Once a writing was submitted, we received instant feedback. Almost too instant. I was not sure how well I liked the artificial intelligence grading. This may have been influenced by previous experience with an online writing assessment program that I used while working as a tutor in college. It seemed generic and not specific enough compared to a real person giving real suggestions. A revision list is given though, and if you work through the list, you can improve your writing and resubmit it. Each submission gets you more points. However the point system needs improvement in this area as well. (You can submit the writing after only making only a few changes and still get a good chunk of points.) Price: If I can help it, I try not to see the price of an item until I have written my review. So, I just now peeked at the price: $99.95 for up to 3 children and $129.95 for up to 6. Not knowing will sometimes help me to decide if it would be worth it and while the price tag seemed a bit high at first, this price is for a 12 month subscription and for 3 to 6 children. Considering that, it seemed like a reasonable price (especially if you have 6 children).
Vantage Learning also has a blog with tips and lesson plans called 'Because Writing Matters... At Home' as well as a community forum for support. And you can also see the complete line of products that Vantage Learning has to offer here.
See other crew member reviews of MY Access!® Home Edition, or click on the banner below to visit the Crew Blog.
I received a membership for free in exchange for my review. No further compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

My Adventures in Tomato Seed Saving

10/28/2009
From my garden ~ Peacevine Cherry Tomato ~ an heirloom variety known for it's calming effect.

I have a passion for growing heirloom seeds. If you are wondering what is so special about heirloom seeds, I will tell you that they are not just special because they are handed down from generation to generation (although that is really cool) and they are not just special because they are selectively the best seeds from the best plants (that is cool, too). They are special because you can save the seed from the produce you grow, plant them again the next year and grow produce that is true to type (just like the parent plant). By saving seeds from the produce you grow, you can save money and grow your own food year after year.

If you know me, you know that I follow the whole bible, and take all of the Father's precepts to heart. I love his law and how it was written to teach us how we should live a pleasing life to Him. One of His statues (Leviticus 19:19) says that we should not sow our fields with mingled seed. Another translation says, mixed seed and yet another says two kinds of seed. The word in Hebrew is kilayim and means two kinds ~ mingled seeds.

I wondered for a couple years what that meant. Someone first told me that I could not plant a regular garden (two types of seed in one plot of land). I wasn't sure that is what it meant, but I grew a container garden instead. Then I turned to the Father and asked Him what he meant by that. (Good person to go to, huh?) Then I happened upon the book Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, by Suzanne Ashworth. She details how to grow seed so that the seed is genetically pure.

I read this book and a little light bulb went off in my head.

I knew about GMO (genetically modified organisms) thanks to the movie The Future of Food(a great movie if you want to learn about the devastating effects GMO foods will have on the future of our food supply). And something began to make sense to me.

Perhaps, the Father meant preserve what He created and only sow pure seed ~ seed that was not mingled or a product of two kinds of seeds. I may be on to something, but I know one thing is certain ~ He will keep showing me until I figure it out. But did you know we are losing His creation? We are losing the genetic diversity of his wonderful creation. We are losing varieties of fruit and veggies that were once known and common. I read somewhere that there used to be over 1500 varieties of potatoes. I can only name a few. Did you know there is such a thing as an All Blue potato or a Purple Peruvian? If you are interested in reading more, I recommend Seed Savers Exchange: Saving Heirlooms.

Following the techniques in the book, Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, I grew and saved the seed from my first tomato plants ~ the Peacevine Cherry Tomato. I mentioned above that it is known for having a calming effect and this is due to the high amino acid content of tryptophan in the tomato. I didn't know that until just now. But, I am so happy that is what I grew because I love them. They are so full of flavor for being so small and are perfect in salads. They also have "the highest Vitamin C content in a cherry tomato among 30 varieties analyzed by Rutgers University," according to Seeds of Change.

First, I selected the best tomatoes (the earliest, most colorful and healthiest looking ones).


I cut the tomatoes open and squeezed all the seeds into a glass jar. I covered them with a paper towel and let them ferment. Tomato seeds are covered in a gelatinous material that is broken down during fermentation. In nature this occurs naturally when the tomato rots and falls to the ground.

Fermenting the seed

After it was good and moldy (don't wait too long, I forgot about them), I rinsed them well and let them dry on a paper plate.

Washing the seed


Drying the seed

I planted a few seeds to see if they will germinate. (No sense in waiting to find out).

My indoor tomato garden


They were doing so well that I was not about to let them freeze in an early Wyoming winter. So, I transplanted them into hanging containers. Some did not make it due to the shock (apparently tomatoes do not transplant well), but the ones that made it are so pretty in my dining room and have continued to produce for over a month now since I brought them in.


Are you wondering how they will be pollinated? I wondered too. Tomatoes are self pollinating. You can help them along by vibrating the stems near the flower heads (the back of an electric toothbrush works well). But, so far mine have not produced new flowers.

So, there you have it. My adventure in not only tomato seed saving, but also how I came to be passionate about heirloom seed saving. Next time you are buying seeds for your garden, go heirloom!

Tot School ~ Baby Signing Time

10/25/2009
Tot School
~Eliana is 33 Months~
For our Tot School time, we have been learning to sign with Baby Signing Time. I can't say how much I love these videos!
We are working through 2 at a time and are on the first two:
In Volume 1 "It's Baby Signing Time" we learned the signs for:
  • eat, drink, cracker, water, cereal
  • milk, banana, juice, finished
  • Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa,
  • diaper, potty, more
  • bird, fish, cat, dog, horse, frog
  • hurt, where, baby
and in Volume 2 "Here I Go" we are learning the signs for:
  • shoe, sock, hat, coat,
  • please, thank you, sorry,
  • car, train, bus, bike, airplane, boat
  • ball, doll, bear,
  • wash hands, soap, bath, brush teeth,
  • book, pajamas, blanket, sleep
I think we all (the whole family) have mastered the first video, so we will add the 3rd video in this week and continue on with the 2nd one as well. (I ordered all 4 Baby Signing Times and the first 5 Signing Time videos plus flashcards. I wish I has ordered the books and flashcards for the Baby series ~ they would be really helpful to have.)
Here are just a few photos that I caught of Elli learning to sign:
Eat and Drink
Water ~ sign a w and bring it to your mouth.
Cereal (like you are wiping cereal off your chin) and banana (like your finger is a banana and you are peeling it).
This is how much she loves these ~ they make her laugh.
She was crying one day and I asked her to sign crying as we talked about it. Within seconds she was smiling again and signing happy.
She also knows a few more signs from watching the previews (like grumpy) that she uses (as seen in the activity below).
Matching the barrette to the matching colored headband. (Anything that goes in here hair is a "pretty" so we call this Pretty Matching)
She was having a hard time closing the barrette and was quite grumpy about it. So, I had her sign grumpy for me.
Then she showed me "crying" and by the time we were done, she was being goofy and having fun.
I have taught my babies to sign before they can talk, but I have stuck to the basics (please, yes, no, thank you, finished, eat, drink) but as soon as they started talking, we quit signing. If I had known about these videos, I would have signed a lot more with them and continued on with it. So I am really happy to have these.
Head on over to 1+1+1=1 to see what other tots are doing for school!

Homeschool Highlights #3

10/24/2009
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Last week I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue with this, but I can see the benefits of writing a weekly post and while I am still getting used to this, I have actually been looking forward to it this week.

Here is what I will do: I will give a brief recap of what we did, but I may post in more detail later. I really want to continue to share in my usual topical style, but writing a weekly will enable me to write more freely about our week without being limited to a topic. I don't have my posts written for this week yet, but at the end of this post I will let you know what is coming up, (like I did last week).

This week:


  • Dylan, Mali and Elli all were sick with a fever. (Jordan, Nathan and I all had it the week before). So, we did not get to all that I had planned this week (or last).
  • We wrapped up a very long soccer season. Three of my boys play soccer and two of those boys volunteer their time to ref games at the YMCA. I can't say no to the Sports Programmer who schedules all of these games (he is my husband *Ü*). Between practices, games and refereeing, we have been busy. While soccer may be over, there is no end in sight for sports. Nathan and Dylan start basketball this coming week and we are considering ice hockey for Jordan.
  • I had some exciting news. I won the #2 grand finale giveaway at 1+1+1=1. I was so surprised, and even more surprised when it arrived in less than 48 hours. Here is what I won:



A Strider Running Bike!

I really, really wanted to win this. I have wanted one for awhile now and I love the concept of this bike. (I said I would be willing to share about it and while I am sharing about it here, this is not my official post about it). For now, I want to share how excited I am that I won this and how I tied this into school for my oldest this week as a Product Assembly Project.

I have been working on giving Jordan projects that are geared towards his interests/abilities and mechanical things is one of them. So, as much as I wanted to put this together as soon as it showed up on our doorstep, I waited until he could assemble it.




Jordan assembling the Strider bike.

My 2 year old and 4 year old love this bike and are gaining confidence as they learn to balance while riding around the house. As soon as they get the hang of it, we will take it to the gym and then I will share more about it.

This week (continuing on):
  • I posted my review of the Workbox System and was asked about what I include in the older kids' workboxes. I am going to start sharing in my weekly post some of the things I put in them.
Our daily boxes look like this:
  1. Bible - the boys read a proverb a day (the proverb that corresponds to the date), they then journal about what they learned (always in box #1)
  2. Reader
  3. Language Lessons
  4. Writing
  5. Phonics/Spelling
  6. Vocab (Greek roots/prefixes)
  7. Handwriting
  8. Math
  9. Notebooking pages for Science or History/assignments
  10. A hands on or creative project
I rarely fill more than 9 or 10 boxes. Science, Nutrition, Prepare and Pray and History are done together during our group time (with the occasional assignment thrown in there).

Here is one project that I included in Jordan's box this week:


An Erector Set made a great mechanical project

Jordan is very mechanical, so this was right up his alley. I can't do projects like this every day (or even every week) but I do have some great ideas for projects that I can do and will hopefully share those next week. They are really going to like what I have in mind and I think it will be a perfect way to challenge them. I think you will like it too.

This week (continuing again):
  • We worked in our Christian Kids Explore Chemistry book and completed Lesson 3: Matter. This tied in nicely with our study of Creation (God created matter and energy on day 1). We learned that everything in this physical world can be placed into two categories: matter or energy.
  • We talked about states of matter (solid, liquid and gas) and properties of matter (such as color, odor, taste, etc.) and did an experiment to figure out a way to separate salt that was mixed with sand (ours happened to be blue). We added water to the salt/sand mixture to dissolve the salt and then poured the mixture into a filter lined funnel to filter out the sand.

Separating compounds by filtration.




We then poured the water into a pie pan and let the water evaporate over several days, thus separating the salt from the sand.

This week we will move on to lesson 4 and learn about elements.

I was hoping to start a new spelling program this week, but I had to do a lot of cutting and preparation for it. So, we will start All About Spelling this coming week.

And I really, really want to start Nature Study with my older kids. So much to do!

Coming up this week:
  • Crew Reviews: My Access Home Edition and ABC Teach
  • History: The Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and the Fall
  • Tot School: Signing Time
  • Preschool Corner: Letter X
  • Nature Explorers Club: Squirrels
Did you see that I have a new button? I have a new header too, and I love seeing my kids up there. *Ü*



Hope you all have a great week!

A Review of Sue Patrick's Workbox System

10/23/2009
Photobucket"We must start by giving our children their learning materials in a way that will make sense to them, so that they can learn." ~ Sue Patrick
Organization, clear expectations, optimization, independence, repetition, enjoyable activities and motivation are all words to describe the use of Sue Patrick's Workbox System. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a copy of the e-book for review. (I also own a print copy that I purchased this past Spring). The e-book is priced at $19 and is available for instant download. A comb bound printed user guide sells for $23.30 including shipping and handling. Purchase of the book gives you online access to the printables that are mentioned in the book. A consulting package is also available for purchase. If you have an immediate family member in active service, you can email Sue to request a copy of her e-book for free. You can also see other products that are available. So, what's in it for you?
  1. The Benefits of Homeschooling
  2. How We Teach and Train
  3. What is the Workbox System
  4. Who is this System for?
  5. How a Day Works
  6. Curriculum and Materials
  7. Breaking Down Curriculum for Success
  8. Life Skill Foundations
  9. Discipline and the Workbox System
  10. Problem Solving and Specializing Your Child's Education
  11. Family Dynamics and Homeschooling
  12. Tips, Tricks, and Problem Solving
The two main components to the Workbox System are:
  1. The Physical Structure (A metal cart and 12 workboxes)
  2. The Educational Phiolosphy
If you would like to see more about these components, how the workbox system is set up and how it can work for you, please watch this short video.
"This book will teach you how to organize and structure your homeschool in a way that optimizes time, space, effort, planning and independence." ~ Sue Patrick
With the Workbox System, your student will always know:
  • What is expected of them for that day
  • How much work there is left to complete at any given time
  • When they are done for the day
"This structure provides both teacher and student an air of organization, clear expectations, and even a level of peace and calm, all of which creates a better learning environment." ~ Sue Patrick
Our experience: Many who read my blog, know I am a planner and a doer but not a scheduler. When I first heard about Sue Patrick's Workbox System I asked myself a few questions. Would my children like a schedule? Do they need one? It turns out I have children who may benefit from a more structured environment. So I knew I had to give it a try, for them. It was my all around user-friendly way to add order (and a schedule) to our homeschool day without going out of my comfort zone. Little did I know, it would be for me too. I love it for all of the reasons I mention above. However, we went through a love-hate period with the system when I was given the job to review it. I know how much Sue wants us to try this system her way - first. So, after already using it for several months, I decided I would try it her way to see if it works for our family. This involved rearranging where we do school and how we empty the cart. But, after just a short time, I was so unhappy that I was ready to ditch the whole system (even though I spent a hundred dollars to set up my 4 systems). Then I decided to do some more rearranging (that always motivates me) and I realized that was our problem. We went back to how we were using it and I am so happy we did. To be honest, Sue puts so much emphasis on doing it her way that I felt like a Workbox dropout. But, I decided that what works for one homeschool family will not work for all homeschool families. I am glad I accepted this, because I am back to loving those boxes. The beauty part of this system is that it holds me accountable. If I am on the ball, our day goes much smoother. However, I found that the WBS took away some of their independence - at first. If I didn't get the boxes filled for some reason, then the boys would not do their daily independent work. I decided to handle this by asking them to fill their own boxes for the next day with their daily subjects. Then I can change or add things as necessary. One thing that I appreciate about this system is that I am more creative and offer them a lot more variety in their day. I am putting things in their boxes that I never would have thought to give them for school. It can be tough coming up with creative ideas to fill the boxes, though. Each child has 12 boxes a day, and when you figure it out, that is 60 boxes a week per child. Right now, I am using the "system" with 5 children (the youngest two share a cart), so that task can be difficult at times (240 boxes a week). Often our boxes are just our daily stuff, but the system is still beneficial. What do they think? The kids love it. They love having school laid out before their eyes (they are visual like me). They like knowing what they have to do and it motivates them to keep working. It gives them a sense of order and direction to their day, and with the use of time cards on each box, we also have some sort of "schedule." The system works well for all ages. I am using it with a 2, 4, 9, almost 11 and 13 year old. I especially love it for my little ones. If you are wondering how you can use the system for a 2 year old, see my posts Tot School in the Box 1 and Tot School in the Box 2. I also share more about the system in other posts. I think this system works, but there is more than one way to make it work. The beauty of homeschooling is that we can try them all until we find a way that works for us. With the Workbox System, you are sure to find a way that works for you.
I thought I would also mention that when I first received the book I purchased, I was so excited I skipped right to the part about how to apply the workbox method. Sue says in the introduction that if you are not a manual reader, at least read chapter 4. So, that is what I did. I later went back and skimmed through the book. When I received the e-book to review, I went back and read the whole book and I am so glad I did. It was good to read the philosophy behind what makes it work. Sue also has a lot of other great info and ideas that are presented in the book.
See what my crew mates think of the Workbox system, or click on the banner below to visit the Crew blog.
As a member of TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this e-book free of charge in exchange for my review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion of the product.

Amazing Bible Timeline Review

10/22/2009
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As a member of the Homeschool Crew I received The Amazing Bible World History Timeline to review. The timeline sells for $29.97 plus $6 shipping and handling (to the U.S.). It is 37" high by 45"wide (about three feet by four feet) and at first I was excited that I would have a timeline that would fit on my table. It seemed to have a lot of information on such a small space, and even though the writing is small, it was easy to read while leaning over the table. It definitely looked like a great way to view 6,000 years of history at a glance. It is color coded by people groups and the circular style allowed you to see what was going on in various parts of the world at a glance. We first used the timeline during an Introduction to Biblical History. We wrote key events on index cards and then tried to put them in order. We used the timeline to check our work. I only glanced at the timeline briefly at that point. Then, I started to look a little closer and I saw some things that disturbed me. The timeline makes some presumptuous claims. It mentions several prophecies from the Bible and where in history they were supposedly fulfilled ~ erroneous in my opinion. I also saw a lot of religious bias. The timeline claims not to be geared towards any specific religion, yet I found a large portion of the timeline to be based off of the teachings of a particular religious sect. If you have read any of my crew mates reviews, I am not talking about the LDS issue. Although, that is certainly something you should be aware of. The Amazing Bible Timeline appears to be marketed as the LDS Book of Mormon Timeline With Bible and World History - same timeline, two completely separate websites. I found this to be a bit deceptive. I had to look several times at the map to find the LDS references and while I did find several events, that is not what bothered me. What bothered me is that the Book of Mormon was used as a reference, but not cited as a reference. And, I didn't know if the version I held in my hands was the same timeline or not. The authors of the timeline sent out an email to clear up this "issue." They claim that there are two separate maps and that any LDS information that is on the Amazing Bible Timeline is there on accident - that after 9 years of publishing this version of the map, they have not corrected it. 9 years? Something didn't seem right. Furthermore, since posting an official response to this issue, they have changed that response. A fellow crew mate chronicles this information in more detail. I also encourage you to read other crew mates reviews to see what they think. Some really liked it. For me, it is a matter of principle and I cannot recommend this product.
As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I received this product for free in exchange for my review and no further compensation was recieved. I offer my honest opinion of the product.

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