Powered by Blogger.

Prepare and Pray Lesson 14: Storing the Harvest

In chapter 14 of Swiss Family Robinson, the Robinson’s spend most of their time hunting, planting, harvesting and foraging for food. They did all of this with a cheerful attitude and a thankfulness for the bounty of their harvest. I know how overwhelming the task of harvesting, food preservation, seed saving, and gardening can be, but I am always reminded of God’s faithful provision and try to always set about my tasks in a cheerful manner. I am just so thankful that He is my provider! The authors of Prepare and Pray make some really good points - one is that He gives us what we need when we need it. I wholeheartedly agree and it was a good reminder to always trust Him to supply all of our needs. Also in this lesson, we talked about the importance of seed saving. We covered this pretty well in Lesson 6. We also talked about how to store seeds and we organized and packed our seeds (in a cool dry location free from moisture and warmth). We also learned a few techniques for removing pests from garden plants and learned how to make bug traps.

Our Square Foot Gardens and Container Gardens in our small back yard.

We read about how to harvest grain without farm equipment and how to harvest corn the old fashioned way. Our corn is not ready yet, but I am hoping it will be before Summer is over! We are growing a Sweet Heirloom variety called Ashworth Corn, and it is only a 69 day variety, but I planted late! Truly it will be a miracle if we get corn. I thought this was an interesting quote from the book:
“From time to time the animals took mouthfuls of the tempting food they were beating out; we thought they well deserved it, and called to mind the command given to the Jews, `Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.'”
I never paid much attention to this verse before but now it makes perfect sense! The animals are doing a lot of hard work and they deserve to benefit from it as well. Without them, our work would be much harder! Another project was to set up a food storage system. We have already been working on this for a few years now and here are some of the suggested things to store:
  • Commercially Canned foods (tuna, salmon, etc)
  • Home canned garden produce
  • Grains, beans and rice
  • Dehydrated foods
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Canned fish/meat
  • Dried Jerky
  • Salt, herbs and spices
  • Vitamins and medicinal herbs
  • Saved seeds
We named some methods of food preservation:
  • Water bath canning - jams, jellies, fruits, pickles
  • Pressure canning - veetables, low acid foods, meats
  • Drying Dehydrating - fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs
  • Smoking - meats and fish
  • Freezing - fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs
We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of each and determined which method would be best for preserving nutrients, easy storage and transporting And we talked about what would happen if we lost electricity long term - all of the food in the freezer would spoil.
This past month we made pickles, cherry jam, and sauerkraut, picked chokecherries, canned butter, packed food for storage, cooked a few new recipes from our food storage, and dehydrated produce!
Dehydrating cucumbers, squash and beets.
I was asked what you can do with dehydrated cucumbers. Well, you can make pickles! Dehydrate 2 Store has a recipe and a video on making pickles and pickled beats from dehydrated cucumbers and beats. This site has a lot of great info on dehydrating and was also what inspired me to start dehydrating.

You can also soak them for use in salads. The other day, I soaked them in water for a few hours and then added them to a Greek salad - very good! and crunchy!

Dehydrating peas.

We packed food for storage using mylar and oxygen absorbers. We worked on organizing our storage for optimal use (labeled with a rotation system) and as a family we are committed to eating regularly from our storage and maximize our efforts in this area.

We examined our attitude as a family and a culture towards food and compared it to the Hebrews in Exodus. Would we murmur and complain at the same food over and over or would we long for “leeks and onions?” I especially like variety in my diet hope that in a survival situation we would be grateful for what we have. We also read Toddler Tales to the little ones and talked about the character qualities of the Robinson’s and and wondered if we could be as creative in their situation!

I is for Insects

~Malachi is 4 1/2 years~

We had been on a steady course of studying the consonants until we lost our Go For the Code book. So instead of a consonant, we decided to pick up our first vowel last week! We had too many "Ii" things going on to not do this letter, so here is what we have been up to!

Bible Verse:
(Sing the Word From A-Z)

"I Am the vine and you are the branches.
Listen to the words of John 15:5:

If a man remains in me
and I in Him,
he bear much fruit
apart from Me you can do nothing."


Inch by Inch, by Leo Lionni
My "i" Book, (My First Steps to Reading), by Jane Belk Moncure

Poems and Songs:

Itsy Bitsy Spider

by Katrina Lybbert

Inchworm, inchworm on the ground,
Crawling slowly, not a sound,
Do you wonder what you'll see,
When you pass beyond that tree?

Careful now, my little friend,
A bird is just around the bend,
Better hide inside that tree,
Where you will be safe and free!


Ink Ii's and Index Cards

Making "Ii's" with an ink pad on index cards.

Inch Worm

See how to make these here ~ Jolanthe has a great tutorial!

Insect Ice Treasures!

Both my little ones really enjoyed this activity and they spent a good amount of time playing with this! They sprinkled salt and watched the changes in the ice as it began to melt. Then they poured warm water over it to melt the ice quicker.

Italian Cream Soda's

See how we made these here!



We have been learning about Insects in our Apologia Science ~ Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day ~ so we practiced writing and stickering. I wrote "Ii" on the board and then wrote the word "insect" and gave Malachi some insect stickers. He surprised me by writing the word (I was only showing him how I is the first letter of the word).

We have learned that:
  • all insects have 6 legs
  • adult insects have an exoskeleton and a body with three segments
  • most insects have a compound eye and wings
Malachi has been sitting in for quite a few of our Apologia lessons and picked up on quite a bit! You can read more about our AE lessons here!

We also made a cute edible Insect Zoo for Muffin Tin Monday ~ see that here!



Malachi is measuring the distance of objects in inches.

We found our Go For the Code book! We spent some time catching up this week and we are ready to get back on track with our consonant study next week with the letter Yy. Vv, Zz, Qq, and Xx will follow!

To see more of our alphabet fun, click here and to see what others are doing for preschool, click here!

Tot School ~ Waiting Patiently and Some Letter I Fun

Tot School
~Eliana is 31 Months~

Eliana's carrots (that we planted here) are doing great! Soon she will be able to pick some!

Looking for carrots!

The rest of out Tot Time was combined with Malachi's preschool activities centered around the letter "Ii." (You can read more about what we did for /Ii/ here!)

Insect Ice Treasures from Malachi's "Ii" lesson.

Ink "Ii's" - She's asking if this is a big I.

See what else we have done for Tot School here and see what others are doing for Tot School here!

Summer Science Wrap-Up: Insects

We have been plugging away with our Apologia Young Explorer Series - Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. I posted Lesson 9 - our first look at insects here and we are ready to wrap our study up! Here is a quick look at what we have been doing over the summer for science: (at a relaxed and enjoyable pace!)
In Lesson 10 we covered:
  • Life Cycles
  • Finding a Mate
  • Metamorphosis (Complete and Incomplete)
  • Insect Life Styles
  • Insect Defense Systems (camouflage, crypsis, advertisement, mimicry, trickery, chemical defense, bites and stings)
We learned that insect eggs come in all shapes and sizes and can often be found on the underside of a leaf.
Being an egg detective and finding insect eggs on leaves.
In Lesson 11, we covered social insects which include the ant, honeybee, bumblebee, wasps and termites and learned all about them, such as:
  • the job of the queen and drone
  • job of the workers
  • male vs female
  • the fact that the ant keeps aphids as "pets" (they like to eat the honeydew that aphids make)
  • how bees take care of their hive
  • what the bee dance is
  • how bumble bees are different than honey bees
  • how wasps make a nest and what a solitary wasp is
  • how termite social system is different from ants and bees
  • how termites give evidence for creation
  • how to identify a termite
Busy bees gathering pollen in our corn patch.
We studied the honey bee in depth and did a honey bee lapbook here, so much of this was review.
We learned that most ants eat other insects, but some like to eat seeds and fruits and other sweets. And they cannot eat solids (they can only eat liquids)- that surprised us because you always see ants carrying food back to the colony. They do this because the larvae can eat solid foods.
We know ants like sweets, so we did an experiment to learn what ants don't like. We put jelly on 5 small circle plates and put stuff from the kitchen around the jelly to see if it will stop the ants.
Learning about ants and what they don't like!
In Lesson 12, we covered beetles, flies and true bugs. We learned about:
  • Beetle behavior
  • Scarab beetles
  • Fireflies/lightning bugs
  • Lady bugs
  • Flies
  • Mosquitos
  • Robber Flies
  • True bugs (stink bugs, chinch bugs and water bugs really are bugs, but a lady bug is not!)
We spent a lot of time out in nature looking for insects!
In lesson 13, we learned about "Interesting Insects", such as:
  • Praying Mantises
  • Dragonflies and damselflies
  • Waterbabies
  • Crickets, locusts, grasshoppers and katydids
  • Aphids
  • Cicadas
We have lots of these in our corn patch this year!
Try This!
To understand how a shorter wing can make a higher sound than a longer wing, we experimented with water glasses filled with varying amounts of water and listened for the sounds they make when we tapped the glass.
In Nature Friend magazine, we read more about cicadas and saw step by step photos of a cicada emerging from it's skin or "shell" and learned some more interesting facts. A review of this magazine is coming soon!
Our final lesson in this series is on the order Lepidoptera:
We learned:
  • That leps are important pollinators (actually this is review from when we studied AE Botany).
  • About Lep anatomy, migration and metamorphosis.
  • How to identify a butterfly, moth and a skipper.
We did not raise any leps indoors, but rather enjoyed looking for them in nature.
Fun to learn about, but this Lep is a pest!
The tent caterpillar makes a giant cocoon like nest and the larvae eat the leaves off of our chokecherry bushes. Here they are as an immature larvae.
A few of the notebooking pages we made.
We have a few notebooking pages to finish and our books to assemble, but this wraps up our summer study on insects! We began this study last year and then switched to Swimming Creatures so that we could study insects over the summer (rather than the winter). I really enjoyed this book, but I am ready for a break before we begin our new curriculum this fall!

Crayon Doodles and T-Shirt Crayon Design

Activity: Open-Ended Art with Teaching My Little Bookworm
Medium: Crayon Crayon is a fun medium to work! Here is what we did:
Crayon Doodles - "Relaxing Doodles"
I had them do this activity while I read to them. It was a "relaxing" activity and encouraged listening! I love that Nathan found a picture of a bird in his doodle design and the vibrant colors of the crayons. I love that Jordan's is pleasant and relaxing to look at!
T-Shirt Crayon Design
We put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt and then taped it around to make it tight. It was still a little hard to color on the T-Shirt because it is stretchy, so I held the material taught for Malachi. I also helped him by retracing his design so that the crayon would be heavy enough to fix when heated.
We placed a piece of newspaper over the shirt and then ironed. I let Mali iron with a cool iron and then I finished with a hot iron to fix the crayon to the T-Shirt permanently.
He was very happy with his new "Undercover Tank" shirt!
When I asked him to tell me about it, he said that it was an "undercover tank." I asked why it did not have wheels, and he said that it did, but they were hidden - thus an "undercover" tank! I thought that was very creative! He then explained that the wheels were inside the tank and then drew where they would be inside. He also asked me to write his name and "Undercover Tank" on his shirt. *Just a heads up! In the instructions for this activity, it says, "The picture will stay indefinitely." Then in the "Helpful Hints" it says "The color will last only if the fabric is washed in cool water with a non-detergent soap."
Big thanks to Shannon for hosting open-ended art! Head on over to her blog to see other creative art using crayon!

College Prep Genius - Preliminary Review

Anyone out there with college prep on their brains? Well, it hasn't been on my mind (at all), until recently.
I received "The No Brainer Way To SAT Success" and "Master the SAT Class" to review. These are products by College Prep Genius that are designed to prepare your student for the SAT, improve their test scores, build confidence and lessen test anxiety. “Master the SAT Class” encompasses all facets of the SAT and PSAT and covers all three sections of the tests. It also teaches unique techniques designed to help students improve their test‐taking abilities.
From the website:
"The textbook contains over 170 pages jammed full of helpful advice, including: revealed secrets . . . In total there are over 350 tips, shortcuts, strategies and pertinent college prep material in the text. The workbook contains a full set of practice problems that complements the DVD and textbook and covers every SAT question type."
Techniques discussed: Critical Reading:
  • How to cut your Critical Reading time in half
  • The three main question types in all the passages
  • The most common mistake people make on the Dual Reading Passage
  • How not to be fooled by certain questions
  • How to eliminate wrong answer choices
  • Which words in the answer choice are paramount to circle
  • The four recurring tricks hidden in the answer choices
  • The vocabulary trick most people fall for
  • The secret to answering the Short Reading Passage
  • The place to look for the main idea in the Short Passage—it’s always the same
  • How to take advantage of the semi‐colon or colon clues in the Sentence Completion section
  • How to answer the double blank questions quickly
  • When to ignore the first blank
Math Section:
  • How to rarely use your calculator
  • How to answer the problems the short way
  • What to do with unknown variables
  • The hidden math pattern that screams “this is the answer”
  • How wrong answers point you to right answer
  • How to eliminate 2‐3 answers right off the bat
  • Why the order of the answers is so important
  • Three easy geometry rhymes to help your remember formulas
  • The fastest way to answer a fraction question
  • How to dismantle a scary problem
Writing Section:
  • How to write a great essay in 15 minutes
  • What are the essay judges looking for
  • The four C’s and four S’s of a great essay
  • Types of essay topics that might appear
  • The biggest key to an amazing essay
  • The timing mistake to avoid
  • How to make the best use of all the lines provided
  • Recurring patterns and mistakes on the Sentence Error section
  • The key to finding the Improving Sentence answer quickly
  • Answering Improving Paragraph questions in shorter time
Price: “Master the SAT Class” DVD: $59.95 College Prep Genius textbook: $39.95 Class workbook: $15.95 Total value: $115.85 Introductory Price: $79 (30% OFF) This also has a "100% Money Back Guarantee."
To be honest, I have not even given college prep one teeny tiny little thought. But, my oldest is beginning eighth grade this year so this couldn't have come at a better time. So, as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew, I will be reviewing this class over the next 6 weeks and plan to share what I think about College Prep Genius! In the meantime, feel free to visit their website and read some of their published articles. If you have any specific questions or things you would like me to address in my review, feel free to leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer and hopefully steer you towards products that will work for you!
To see other crew member reviews, click here or on the banner below!

In the Kitchen With Mom ~ Italian Cream Soda

Italian Cream Soda's are really easy and quick to prepare with just a few ingredients!
You will need:
  1. Carbonated water (club soda, seltzer water)
  2. Your favorite flavor of Italian drink syrups* (available in the coffee section at the store)
  3. Half and Half (you can omit this if you just want an Italian Soda)
  4. Ice
  5. Whipped Cream (optional, but very yummy!)
*My favorite flavor from years ago is kiwi, but we chose a syrup that is naturally flavored.
To Make:
  1. Put ice in a tall glass
  2. Pour syrup over the ice
  3. Fill with soda water leaving some room at the top for the half and half
  4. Add the half and half and stir (the amount depends on how creamy you want it)
  5. Add whipped cream if you desire
  6. Enjoy!
Note: we use 1-2 ounces syrup, 8 ounces soda water, 1 ounce half and half.
So simple!
All the kids loved it. Me too!
I'm heading on over to Susana's to see what she and others made for Simply Made Sunday ~ In the Kitchen with Mom!

A Barely Berry Tot School

Tot School
~Eliana is 31 Months~

More real life school this week!

Mema (Grandma) brought her a neat gift while camping this week. The dress me doll made for a great Tot School activity! (Thanks Mom!)

Button, Zip, Snap, Stick, Buckle . . .

I use activities like this during our Tot Time as writing warm ups/prewriting activities. You can read more about that here!

Counting chokecherries . . . one by one!

We went chokecherry picking this week and as she dropped them into the cooler, she counted each one! She can count as well (if not a little better) than her 4 year old brother!
You can read more about our time picking chokecherries here!

Picking the stems off of chokecherries.

Picking stems off of chokecherries is a great hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill activity! (and lots of tedious work, so I appreciated her helping me!)

We also listened to more Sylvan Dell online books this week (really enjoying those!) and Eliana learned how to use one finger to point the mouse and click, two fingers to scroll on the mouse pad and how to navigate between spaces on my Mac! She can easily find the next book to listen to (and has several that she "reads" over and over)!

Eliana watching one of her favorites.

Check out our past Tot School posts and see what others are doing for Tot School here!

E-Homeschooling: Embracing the E-Book Revolution

Just passing along TOS's newest (and free!) e-book called E-Homeschooling: Embracing the E-book Revolution ~ if you are interested in learning more about the E-book revolution, this book will help answer the following questions:
  • Why should I buy E-Books and what are their unique benefits?
  • How can I use E-Books with homeschooling?
  • How am I supposed to read them?
  • Can I get help creating my virtual bookshelf?
  • What can you tell me about storing E-Books on my computer?
  • What are some great organizing tips for E-Books?
  • Can you give me a lot of suggestions and ideas that I can actually use?
  • What can I learn about the E-Book market and The Old Schoolhouse®?
  • What do I need to know to publish my own E-Books?
  • What are some of the legal issues in electronic publishing that I need to know about?
  • and so much more!
"Whether you’ve wondered about E-Books, or are already addicted to them as an incredible resource, or would like more information to even write and publish your own E-Book, you’ll be delighted by the wealth of information provided."
Here’s what Heidi Strawser, E-Book Reviews Specialist and Special Projects Manager for TOS, has to say about it:
“E-Homeschooling: Embracing the E-Book Revolution is the most all-inclusive ‘book about E-Books’ that I have ever seen (and I’m not just saying that because I had a part in writing it)! As the E-Book Reviews Specialist for the Schoolhouse Store, I see a lot of E-Books cross my path each week. Even I was impressed with the ideas and suggestions that are presented here. One of the most valuable aspects of this E-Book, in my opinion, is the legal portion written by TOS’s own legal consultant, Susan Spann. This portion is well-written and informative; and a great place for new E-Book writers to begin. From there, I’d encourage writers to check out my article for all the things we are looking at when screening E-Books for sale in our store. I think you’ll be encouraged to start writing! If not, at least you’ll learn more about E-Books, their value in today’s homeschooling arena, and how you can benefit from them.”
I am new to the e-book revolution. I have always preferred to have a printed copy in hand, but since becoming a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Blog Crew, they are inching their way into my homeschool more and more! I found this book to be helpful in a lot of ways. A few things that stuck out to me were all the suggestions on writing and publishing e-books. My husband has a children's book series that he is writing, and I would love to be able to help him publish these someday! This e-book has a lot of helpful suggestions and gave me an idea of where to go from here. Another thing that I like is the explanation of the benefits of using them in your homeschool and practical tips on how to use them. You can get your free ($14.95 value) copy here!

Writing and Pre-Writing

This week's Picnic Table Talk is all about WRITING! Here are some of my thoughts, opinions, suggestions, ideas, and activites that have to do with writing in a Q & A format!

~How do you practice writing with your children?

We use Pre-writing or Writing Warm Ups with our little ones:

These include activities that strengthen the eye-hand coordination and fine muscle control needed for writing, such as:
  • Dressing: I have them zip, button, lace, and snap their own clothing.
  • Sewing: - I have her sew with a large plastic needle and yarn. Button sewing is one of my favorites.
Button sewing from our Tot School time here.
  • Drawing: I encourage lots of this and supply them with pencils, markers, crayons, chalk and more!
  • Tracing: Lots of this is provided in our Get Ready, Get Set, Go for the Code Books- lots of prewriting activities in there!
Tracing with his finger and following the path for letter N activities.
  • Transferring: I have my tot transfer beans, popcorn, cotton balls, pom poms from one container to the next usung tongs or water using an eye dropper or turkey baster.
Transferring cotton balls during out Tot Time here.

Transferring water with droppers.

More hand-eye & fine motor skills.
  • Cutting: I have them cut freely and also along lines and shapes they have drawn.
  • Cutting strips of paper.
  • Folding: "Fold, press, flip" repeated over and over to make an accordian fan.
  • Stringing: String beads, buttons, Cheerios, macaroni or cut up straws.
    Stringing beads, straws, paperclips, coiled pipe cleaners, etc.
  • Writing Devices: Keyboard, Typewriter, label makers, rubber stamps alphabets, magnetic letters...
I tend to be adventurous and let my little ones create letters with pudding, rice, colored sand, cornmeal, whipped cream, finger-paint, clay, play dough, cookie dough, on a foggy window, in the dirt with a stick, or sky-writing - large letters in the air - the possibilities are endless! I especially like to tie this into the letter we are working on - write P's in Pudding, S's in Sand, R's in Rice, etc.

Writing S's in Sand for the letter S.

I like to keep a box filled with different writing supplies to write on - stationary, card stock, printer paper, lined paper, sticky notes, pads of paper, mini- notebooks, index cards, scrap paper, construction paper, graph paper and more!

We also have a large white board, mini white boards and chalk boards for writing!

I also keep a portable "Writing Center" for on the go. A zippered pencil case holds a small pad, index cards, pencils, colored pencils, scissors, and a glue stick. That way they can write anytime, anywhere!

For writing anytime, anywhere!

For little ones, I have them narrate letters to me and I write or type them up for them - they are so happy to have that letter (even if they can't read it!)

We also write messages back and forth to each other in a special "encouragement" notebook.

I try to encourage all forms of writing: scribbles, pictures, letter shapes, letters, pretend writing (Malachi will write pages of this!), and regular writing. The best way to learn to write is by writing!

My favorite resources and inspiration for learning to write (and read!) is Growing Up Reading, Learning to Read Through Creative Play, by Jill Frankel Hauser and A Strong Start in Language and A Home Start in Reading, by Ruth Beechick.

A few concepts from Ruth Beechicks book that I will be implementing more with my preschooler very soon include: 1) copying - I will continue to write models for him to copy; 2) Dictation - I will dictate models for him to write; 3) creative writing - I will let him make up his own writings.

I have lots more examples and you can see more of what we do for writing warm-ups on a regular basis in our Tot School and Preschool posts!

Formal Writing:

Writing for my older children comes in many forms as well:
You can see examples of our notebooking/illustrating here and see how we use Writing Strands here!

~What inspires you to write?

My blog!

~Do you enjoy writing? About What? Why?

I love to write about things that I am passionate about. I love to share the wonderful ways of God and what He is doing in our life. I want to be a light to others by how I live. I try to do all things "heartily as unto the LORD!" and love to share the journey we are on.

~What is the difference between teaching writing and teaching printing?

Writing is a form of expression. Printing to me is forming letters correctly and mastering nice handwriting. I still have my 8th grader practice handwriting - I'm not sure at what point handwriting can be mastered - it requires diligence and patience to keep writing nicely! (I would do well to practice myself!)

~What are your favorite writing utensils?
  • Colored pencils. We do a lot of notebooking and I love to see my kids piled around a big box of colored pencils.
  • The Ticonderoga pencil is my absolute favorite pencil and the only kind I buy! I buy in bulk and love to keep them freshly sharpened! I also like that it has an eraser and encourage my kids to use it often! A pencil sharpener mounted to the wall is a must have around here!
I can't wait to go see what everyone else wrote for this week's topic! Be sure to check it out too at ABC & 123's Picnic Table Talk!