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Introducing Whole Foods Cooking, by Sue Gregg Cookbooks

Are you considering whole foods cooking? Do you want to eat healthier whole foods, but don't know where to start? With desire, comittment and some step by step instructions you can learn from someone who has not only been there, but has mastered the art of whole foods cooking ~ for heath and hospitality. Sue Gregg!

First, what are whole foods? According to Sue Gregg,
"A whole food is the complete food of its edible parts: whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, dairy and meats. . . The whole is more effective than the parts alone."

This 75 page book introduces you to the basics of whole foods. Sue Gregg has complete line of cookbooks available but this book is a new 2009 release and is not included in the set of Sue Gregg Cookbooks.

Price: $17

This book includes: (my run down of each section and some thoughts)

Nutrition Basics:
  • Identifying Quality Foods & Ingredients (whole foods, real foods, raw foods, organic foods, fermented and cultured foods)
  • Balancing Dietary Patterns in Transition (carbs vs. protein vs. fats ~ how much?)
  • A Food Pyramid (a scripturally based, simplified, modified version of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid)
  • What Do Foods Provide? (a nutrition lesson)
  • Whole Grains & Breads (a discussion of the universal staple and how to maximize grain nutrition, including an introduction to the two-stage process)
  • A Kernel of Truth (a cross section of a whole wheat kernel and what you are missing if parts are removed during processing)
  • Legumes ~Dry Beans & Peas (the formula for complete protein and how to choose the right legumes)
  • Cooking Legumes (how to soak and why soak your beans, and how to cook them)
  • Nuts & Seeds (discussion on nutrition, purchasing, storing and preparation)
  • Vegetables (have you ever heard of phytochemicals? And more good stuff on veggies like the best way to buy and prepare them)
  • Fruits (discussion on nutrition, form and preparation)
  • Vegetable Oils (best choices, what to avoid, purchasing and storing)
  • Butter is Better! (a discussion on why butter is better than margarine and suggestions on how to use butter)
  • Animal Foods ~Dairy, Eggs, Meat, Fish, Poultry (recommendations for each category as well as biblical recommendations, including a reference to Leviticus 11 and the dietary laws that God created for our health, even biblical references pertaining to the preparation of meats ~ I really appreciated this!)
  • Beverages (best choices and what to avoid)
  • Sugars & Sweets (very interesting and convicting lesson on what to use, what to avoid and why ~ convicting enough that we went off all white sugar!)
  • Salt, Seasonings & Flavorings (quality salts, herbs and spices, flavoring, including an eye opener on soy sauce ~ my favorite brand even)
  • Allergy Alternatives (cultured milk choices, non-dairy alternatives, grain alternatives and more)
  • Food in the Bible (very cool list by topic and more than just food)
  • How Hot is Hot? (by temperature, how it feels and how it looks)

Recipes and Menus
  • 26 detailed recipes
  • step by step instructions
  • serving suggestions
  • nutrition information
  • suggested menus

Serving and Connecting
  • The Main Menu (what's on the "main menu" ~ hint it is not food!)
  • Praying Authentically at the Table (conversations with God and how it can change your prayer time ~ eye opening)
  • Inviting Jesus to the Table (very cool way to look at this!)
  • Bringing Song to the Table (I really want to do this!)
  • Bringing Beauty to the Table
  • Bringing Books to the Table
  • Teaching and Training

Next Steps

This is a section of the book that contains the six concerns of whole foods cooking:
  • Comfort ~ Taste Appeal
  • Content ~ Nutritional Value
  • Cost Control ~ Budgeting
  • Convenience ~ Time Savers
  • Calorie Control ~ Menus
  • Christ Centered ~ Food to Faith (This is a student Bible study guide that includes a map of Palestine 30 A.D. and covers topics in the Bible such as wine, water, bread, fish, Mary and Martha, and more).

I think she does a great job with the main concerns of whole food cooking.

This book comes with a powerpoint CD that includes music (I think anyways ~ it will not open up on my Mac) and step by step photo illustrations of recipes, and even one on how to make homemade almond milk. (The power point presentations will open up in Keynote, but without the sound files).

You can view a 38 page preview of the book to see more.

As you can see, this is meant to be a whole foods curriculum, rather than just a "cookbook." From shopping for the right foods, meal planning, meal preparation, to serving (how to make it look appealing to setting a nice table)~ for "health and hospitality." And while I do not agree with her stance on mushrooms (I have a different take than the argument she presents) and I was a little surprised that she uses canned beans in some recipes (rather than dried beans), I really appreciated that the recipes omit the use of unclean animals. And I think this is a great resource and perfect for anyone wanting to learn more about whole foods cooking.

I have been cooking whole foods since we began buying in bulk several years ago. It actually saves money in the long run to buy in bulk, store, prepare and eat whole foods. I try to keep the basics ingredients needed for the recipes in stock, and I love pulling this book out for inspiration when I don't know what to cook. Since eating whole foods, I am amazed at the difference it is making, how great we feel, how well we are adapting to healthier options and how much we save in the long run. It is does require a commitment, but if you have the desire to eat healthier, this is a great book to help you get there, step by step and I highly recommend it!

Several Crew mates also reviewed this book and you can read their reviews to see what their experience was.

I received this product for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion. Please see my
disclosure policy for more information.

Introducing Whole Grain Baking . . .

. . . with Blender Batter Baking & The Two-Stage Process ~ one of the books in the line of Sue Gregg cookbooks that I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to review as a TOS Crew Member.

This book is an introduction to the two stage process of soaking, sprouting or fermenting whole grains to release nutrients and make grains more digestible. The basics, along with key recipes, are presented to help you understand the basics of whole grain baking. The accompanying powerpoint CD provides over 30 step by step demonstrations of the recipes, acting as a "mother's helper" or as a "leader's helper." In fact, this book is the main text used for Sue Gregg's Baking With Whole Grains semester course for high school home schoolers. According to Sue Gregg, it also stands alone as an introductory course for all ages.


Getting Started
  • Should We Eat Grains? (learn why bread is regarded as the staff of life)
  • Quick Shopping Guide for Quality Ingredients (what to buy an where)
  • Equipment Check List (a great check list of items you will need)
  • Understanding the Two-Stage Process (how to maximize the nutritional value of whole grains)
  • Liquids for Baking
  • Eggs
  • Whole Grains
  • Fats, Sweeteners
  • Leavenings (including homemade recipes), Spices & Flavorings, Salt (includes a spiritual lesson on salt)
  • Nuts & Seeds, The Wonder of Flax Seeds
  • Allergy Alternatives
  • Measuring Techniques, tips and more!

Grain Wonders
  • Whatever Happened to Whole Grains?
  • A Little Fiber History
  • A Fiber Analysis (insoluble vs. soluble)
  • A Kernel of Truth (what happens when wheat is milled to make white flour)
  • God's Grain Wonders (origin, history and nutritional value of this basic food supply)
  • Grains Have Proteins! (protein values and making complete proteins)
  • Grains Are Low Fat! (fat values listed)
  • A Summary of Baking Characteristics (the effect of gluten content)
  • Great Grains ~ Wheat, Wheat Bran, Hard Red Winter and Spring Wheats, Hard White Spring Wheat, Soft Spring Wheat, Kamut, Spelt, Corn, Oats, Brown Rice, Barley, Rye, Millet, Triticale, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, & Wild Rice (history and some great information on each grain)
  • All Grains Are Low Cost! (comparative prices from 2006 ~ grain prices have gone up since then, but they are still a low cost food)
  • Whole Grain Storage and Care (a very interesting and helpful section)
  • What About Whole Grain Flour? (what happens to flour as soon as it is milled ~ and why we like to grind our own flour)
  • The Value of a Grain Mill (why a grain mill is a good investment and links to suggestions)
  • Grains and Bread in the Bible (thinking Biblically about every area of our life!)

Quick Breads
  • Whole Grain Blender Wonders (detailed steps on using your blender to grind grains (with a liquid) ~ which means you don't have to have a grain mill!)
  • Techniques and Tips for Quick Breads, Coffee Cakes, Biscuits, Scones, Waffles/Pancakes, Crepes, Muffins and more.
  • Fillings and Toppings Recipes ~ 6 recipes from Cottage Filled Fruit Crepes to Fresh Apple Topping
  • Quick Bread Recipes ~ 12 recipes (I tried the Cornbread, Blender Pancakes, Blender Banana Muffins, Hearty Biscuits, Tortillas, and Zucchini Bread ~ the Pumpkin Bread is next on my list to try!)

Yeast Breads
  • Introduction and the Steps in Yeast Bread Making
  • The Value of a Bread Kneader
  • Pans for Baking Bread
  • Ingredients for Yeast Breads (includes information on the basic ingredients as well as added ingredients to enhance nutrition, flavor and texture ~ I was a little surprised that she does not use Vital Gluten, but my bread has been just as good without it)
  • Yeast Bread Baking Techniques (includes milling, mixing, the 2 Stage Process, proofing, kneading, rising, shaping, baking, cooling, slicing, storing and more)
  • Evaluating a Yeast Bread Loaf, Trouble Shooting Guide and What to do with Bread 'Failures' (very helpful section!)
  • 20 recipes with step by step instructions (including my new favorite "Delicious Whole Grain Dough" that makes wonderful bread and the best whole grain pizza crust and a neat section on sourdough, which I WILL be trying, right after The Feast of Unleavened Bread)
  • The Best Thing BEFORE Sliced Bread (did you know that within 72 hours of milling, 90% of 30 nutrients are virtually gone? and more interesting health facts)
  • Living Bread (the living bread that came down from heaven, with Whom you will never go hungry)

You can read a 46 page excerpt from the book to see more!

Just typing all of that up, I am amazed at all that this book entails. Just like Intro to Whole Foods Cooking, this is more than just a cookbook. It is an introductory course on cooking with whole grains.

I have had a favorite tortilla recipe for over 10 years, so one of the first recipes I tried was Sue Gregg's Tortillas (or Chapatis).
What I LOVE about this recipe is that I can make it and leave it on the counter for 12-24 hours before rolling the tortillas out to cook. I will make a batch ahead of time, clean up, and then when it is time to cook them, it is so easy to roll them out and cook them.

Another recipe, that I now use regularly, is the Blender Banana Muffins and Banana Bread. The blender pictures below are from the 2 Stage Process of soaking the grains. I start it at night before going to bed, and in the morning, I add a few ingredients and bake them for an easy breakfast. They are not as round on top like regular muffins, and Sue says that blender batter muffins tend to be flatter on top because a certain amount of liquid is needed to keep a vortex going in the blender. Mine fell, so this means that I have too much liquid in my batter from what I read. They were still yummy, though!

I don't have any pictures of the Whole Grain Dough, but it has become my favorite recipe for making bread, dinner rolls, and pizza crusts. Sue offered the best tip for making a successful pizza crust and it was a hit in our home. I make homemade, whole grain (100% whole wheat) pizza weekly now. One batch of her Whole Grain Dough recipe will make 2 large thin crust pizzas and 1 loaf of bread, or 3 loaves of bread or 3 pizza crusts. I usually pre-bake the pizza crusts and then freeze them to use later.
I think this book is a great value for all the information you get and highly recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more about whole grain baking.

You can read my Crew mates reviews to see what they think to learn more.

I received this product for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Tot School
~Eliana is 36 months~

. . . I see a little girl {in Tot School} looking at me. Little girl, little girl, what do you see?

She sees:

Cutie Peeling

Peeling clementines is a great skill for little ones, they peel so easily and offer a sweet reward when done. Elli loves these and was always asking me to peel one for her. One day I had my hands full, so I asked her to peel one herself. I "start" it for her, and she can peel it all by herself. The little stinker learned how to start it all by herself and has been caught sneaking them from time to time.

Dot Painting

I bought these dot painters from Oriental Trading. I had no idea what to fill them with, so I used concentrated water colors and added water. They worked fine until she pressed on them and all the watercolor came out in puddles. What I thought was a failure turned out to be a great activity. She loved mixing the colors and played until she tried all of the colors. She also got some great motor skill activity by screwing and unscrewing the caps.

Color, Cut, Sticker and Paste

Heads and Tails

I think they both had fun with that one!

Big Bear, Little Bear

Biggest, Bigger, Big, Little, Littlest ~ I think she has this down pat.

Coloring Animals

I thought it was so sweet that Mali wanted to do school with Elli.

And I love her little tongue sticking out. So cute!

Signing Time

Elli is showing the sign for bear (like a bear hug). *Ü*

Elli also watched Signing Time Volume 6: My Favorite Things DVD ~ she loves the "Rainbow" song and is learning the signs for colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and rainbow.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Puzzle

And, of course, they watched Brown Bear, Brown Bear being read aloud. They loved this!

Elli also did the Little Dover Amanda Dress Up Doll (I love those little books as they are only $1.50 and so cute) and she drew pictures in her little notebooks. The supplies on the middle bottom tray were for homemade play dough. We had all the supplies set up in the kitchen and Elli opened the food coloring to "taste" it. Yikes! You can imagine the mess of food coloring on her face, in her mouth and on her dress. I tried to rinse as much out of her mouth as possible (okay, we don't even eat that stuff normally) and I had to take her dress off to soak it. And, well, we didn't end up making play dough that day.

So, here is how I will (hopefully) be posting for tot school - these are all activities that we did last week. The tot school activities that we did this week will be posted next week. So in a sense, I will not be blogging "in real time" but I think this is the best thing for me and my family. By giving myself a week to upload pictures, edit and post, it is more enjoyable and can be done at my leisure. So, keep that in mind when/if you read my tot updates. *Ü*

Delightful Links:

Ray's Arithmetic

Ray's Arithmetic is a complete K-12 Math Curriculum in PDF format created by Joseph Ray during the Industrial Revolution. Joseph Ray was a collegue of William Holmes McGuffey. That name should ring a bell if you are familiar with the McGuffey Readers. Well, as McGuffey is to literature, Ray is to arithmetic.

In fact, Ray's Arithmetic is a part of the complete Eclectic Education Series published by Dollar Homeschool. The complete selection of books contained in the EES, include the McGuffey's Readers, as well as books on every subject; Reading, Grammar, Science, Math, History, and more. As a member of the Crew, I received just the Ray's Arithmetic for review.

The Ray's series, a little overwhelming at first, includes a total of 38 books. These include the 12 core Textbooks, plus Answer Key's, Teachers Editions, and several "intriguing books of mathematical pursuits for the aspiring student," such as Surveying and Navigation, Astronomy, Book Keeping, and Physics.

Price: $59

A Peek at the Contents from elementary to advanced math:
  • Ray's Primary Arithmetic, 95 pages.
  • Ray's Intellectual Arithmetic, 141 pages.
  • Ray's New Elementary Arithmetic, 192 pages.
  • Ray's New Practical Arithmetic, 337 pages.
  • Ray's New Higher Arithmetic, 409 pages.
  • Ray's New Elementary Algebra, 241 pages.
  • Ray's New Higher Algebra. 407 pages.
  • Ray's Treatise on Geometry and Trigonometry. 421 pages.
  • Ray's Analytic Geometry. 608 pages.

See a complete list of the books available to see all 38 books included.

From what I have read, Ray's is a very practical math program. It focuses on how math can be used in day to day life making it seem more valuable to the student. It also encourages the student to think on their own, thus increasing their interest and understanding of the material.

Our Experience:

Can you see why I was overwhelmed at first? That's 2,851 pages of arithmetic! And that is not all. That is only 9 of the 38 books on this CD!

Thankfully, there is a Manual of Methods that walks you through how to use this program. In fact several of the activities that I began with came directly from this manual. The manual even explains how to teach in a one-room school house setting which makes this perfect for home school.

And I must say that the methods intrigued me. For example, all math is oral and hands on the first year. According to the manual, a book should not be used "because no book contains, and no book can be made to contain, the kind of instruction necessary the first year."

This was reassuring to me because I have been struggling with what math book I should begin with for my soon to be 5 year old. Now I know not to use one at all. Which means I am going to have to print the manual and the primary book that I will use to teach him from, as explained by the manual,
"The instruction should be entirely oral, and should deal altogether at first with concrete numbers. The little child can not grasp abstract ideas. It is true you can teach him to repeat, "2 and 2 are 4;" . . . But, without the proper preliminary work, these words can not possibly convey any clear meaning to his mind."

The first method taught is the object method which teaches children to think, catches their interest from the very beginning, and carries them to the point that they are "ready to grasp the abstract, through careful preliminary drill on the concrete."

So, to implement this with Malachi, who is 4 years 11 months, I began the teaching of arithmetic with objects - blocks, balls, marbles, army guys, buttons, etc. The more varied the objects the better to prevent work from becoming monotonous, according to the manual. And, I can tell you that Malachi loves his "army guy math."

Each number from one to ten is taught by illustrating each number by corresponding groups of objects. So that he can instantly give the number of any group of objects from one to ten, without counting. To do this, I made piles of army guys only going as high as he could name them without counting.

To begin this concept with my 3 year old, I simply placed dot stickers on an index card and had her place pom poms on each dot and then said the number and had her repeat the number.

We will repeat this activity weekly, using a variety of objects until she masters this concept. Since the concepts are mastery based, you don't move on until you have mastered the material, no matter if it takes one, two or three years to master it. In fact, the first two years of training are considered the most important.

I can definitely see how this is true. My oldest, having begun his formative years in public school was sadly very behind by the time we began home schooling him in the 4th grade because he never mastered the basics.

I also reviewed the Primary and Intellectual Arithemetic with my 9 and 11 year olds. They were able to move through the first sections very easily and we did the lessons orally. I made it fun for them and at times they raced to tell me,
Fourteen and 16 and 7 and 5 and 9 and 8 and 9 and 6 and 4 are how many?

It was a challenge to add these up mentally and race for the answer. We also took turns giving the answer to give each other a chance to work the problems out.

Then we moved to the mulitplication section and worked through the section on word problems, answering questions like,
The sum of two numbers is 23; the smaller is 11: what is five times the larger?

I love that it is a multiplication problem that makes you think!

Your child is also exposed to math terms such as bushels, pecks, shillings and more, which made this math seem so quaint.
A miller bought 10 bushels of wheat, at 1 dollar a bushel, from which he made 2 barrels of flour that were sold at 7 dollars each: how much more did he get for the flour than he paid for the wheat?

One thing that endeared me to this program is that the word problems used in Ray's help children to see math in the world around them and even learn information from other areas of education, such as history.

It is also designed to create independent learners.
"The Ray's Arithmetic was originally created to be used by frontier Americans, Americans that often lived in areas where available teachers were few, often far away, or even completely unavailable. For this reason the books are designed to allow children, once they can read, to educate themselves to a very great extent."

We then moved on to the division section as I am working on mastering division and long division in these 2 boys. I printed the division chart for them to study and find patterns in the chart. Then they worked word problems like this:
Five times the sum of two numbers is equal to 60; if 7 is one of them, what is the other?

With the exception of the charts, all of the math up to this point is given in sentence form like this. Here is a screen shot from Ray's Elementary Arithmetic:
When you get further along in division, this program definitely dates itself. For example, long division problems are written upside down.

This is not your traditional modern day text book and while I have not fully grasped the whole program, I am thrilled to have the complete set of Ray's Arithmetic in our home school library. I think the value is great considering that if we should ever fall on hard times, we will have a complete arithmetic program available for our use.

Be sure to see my crew mates reviews of Ray's Arithmetic. Some crew members also reviewed the complete Eclectic Education Series.

I received this product for free for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

The Winter Journal Entry #5: Winter Weeds and Seeds

The world of Winter Weeds. This is a part of the Winter Wednesday series at the Handbook of Nature Study. We went on a 2 mile nature walk (just happened to be on a Wednesday!) and we enjoyed looking for weeds. We also read Chapter 6, Winter Weeds, in Discover Nature in Winter, and learned about these wild successful plants.

Weeds, of course, are any plant that is considered useless. But, it is hard to imagine our Creator making anything that is useless. His creation is so intricate and complex ~ there must be a reason for every little detail of His creation.

For the purpose of this study, a weed is anything that grows wild in the field and woodlands . . .

. . . or along a creek. We all loved the icicle wall formation along the banks of the creek. We also tried to imagine how pretty this will be in the Spring.

Winter weeds generally come subdued shades of brown, tan or grey. We tried to see how many different shades we could find. We also found shades of white and green.

A new term we learned: inflorescence - a shoot with clusters of flowers. Other than that, the clues to winter identification presented in the Discover Nature in Winter book, helped me little.

We even saw a few weeds we would do well to avoid:

It is hard to live in Wyoming and not be able to identify Sage brush. The light green fuzzy leaves and the familiar smell are hard to miss.

We thought this was interesting. It is some sort of red colored growth. It was covering multiple branches of the bush.

We also identified some wild rose hips. When fresh, they are a great source of vitamin C and I quizzed the boys on how they could prepare it for use (make a tea, they said).

We also thought this was fun to look at.

We call them "Cotton Trees," but there may be a more scientific name for them.

It looks like cotton with a tiny seeds that can be carried by the wind.

We walked a total of 2 miles and enjoyed a little picnic along the way. I wish we would have brought home some samples to compare and study at home.

We especially enjoyed having the kids' grandma and great grandma (Luke's mom and grandma) along for the walk.

This was our first time on this nature path and I am really looking forward to coming back to this spot in the Spring and again in the Summer. It will be fun to see how it changes. And I seriously can't wait to do more weed study this summer ~ last summer we found some of the prettiest weeds.

Sketch Tuesday: Trash Time

My boys participated in Sketch Tuesday, hosted by Barb at Harmony Art Mom. This weeks assignment, Trash Time, was to sketch something from your trash can.

View the Trash Time Slideshow to see more sketches and see the new assignment for this week at this week's Sketch Tuesday.

Madsen Method Update #2

"He SPEAKS; He HEARS what he said; He DOES what he heard; He SEES what he did!"

The Madsen Method, a method of instruction based on how our forefathers were taught and on 1915 literacy standards, is:
“ a complete, fully scripted, evidence-based, field-tested, non-consumable, penmanship, spelling, grammar, composition and reading, use-it-with-all-students curriculum based on systematic and explicit phonics taught via neurological response instruction.”

You can read more about the Madsen Method and our experience with section 1 in my introduction post.

Section 2 is all about teaching "beautiful handwriting." The 8 lessons in this section cover how to locate and name the "four Official Paper Checkpoints," the Title Line, First Base Line, Base Lines, next Base Lines, how to draw the eleven short lines, the five long lines, how to name and draw the "four Official Circle Checkpoints" and more.

We completed lessons 1-3 in this section in 1 hour 25 minutes. (I keep track of the amount of time we spend on each lesson in the manual, as well as what I read to the kids).

We then proceeded with lessons 4-5 and completed the lessons in 1 hour 15 minutes.

My 4 year old sat in on the lesson and was able to follow the directions exactly. The script teaches children to write with oral prompts. Then they must say what they are doing as they write.

For example, when teaching the "Short Line Placement" #1, it looks like this:
  1. I begin on the Dotted Line.
  2. I pull a short line down to the Base Line.
  3. I STOP.

According to Sharon Madsen,
The purpose of Lessons 5 through 9 is to give students experience with neurological coordination - the mental gymnastics necessary for whole-brain learning. The process we use is Describe and Draw. The result of this exercise is two-fold: it develops multi-sensory direct instruction skills and it prepares students to draw English symbols.
The handwriting that is taught is called block printing. It is the type of print you would read in a book. I think the Say and Do method really works; however, I did not want to teach block printing to my children since we use a different style. I also happen to think that my children already have beautiful handwriting. At first I thought it would take more time and work than I wanted to take to adapt the script and I debated whether or not to teach it as is. I finally decided to adapt the script. We worked on it together and were able to come up with the oral prompts necessary to teach to our handwriting style.

According to Sharon Madsen,
In our program, knowing is an objective, observable, verifiable fact. A student proves his knowing by his ability to verbalize a concept as he performs the written art.
My questions was this: if my child cannot verbalize a concept, does that really mean he does not really know that concept? They certainly know how to draw an italic O, (from copywork) but if they can't teach someone else verbally, does that mean they don't know how to draw one?

It began to make a little more sense to me once we learned to verbalize how to draw the letter O in our style. It was really kinda neat that we figured it out. If anything, it will give them a refresher course and improve their handwriting.

I also learned that the style of handwriting is not what is important. To quote Joe Madsen:
You have reached the goal of teaching your students to describe and draw, which means they can teach another what they know. Our letter style doesn't have to be the only one. I repeat, the describe and draw or "Say and Do" in an explicit way is the only way to teach . . .
Section 3 covers how to name, describe, draw and read the ten English Numerals. We adapted the script for this part as well. We made an English Numerals Chart, learned that all the English numbers are made up of the 9 English numerals and we made a class calender. (I do not feel the need to rehearse the date with my children daily, but can see how that would be a benefit with young children). We finished up our review and test and are ready to move on to Section 4.

In Section 4 I will teach the seven Circle Letter Phonograms, the first of 25, being taught in Part One. This is the start of 1,750 English Speaking, Spelling Patterns that are taught in the Madsen Method program. These 1,750 patterns will enable the student to master all English Spelling patterns.

Up until this point, I feel that this program has been very slow for the amount of time we have invested in it. I feel like time is so short and I want my children to be doing more than this. I realize that we have to start at the beginning, but I wish there was a crash course for older children. Some days, I feel this is a waste of time. And other days, I feel like we are on the verge of something great - just wish we could get there faster.

Instant Challenge #9: Creative Drive

Creative Drive

This week's challenge is a TASK based challenge. That means your children will be building something ~ in this case a gravity powered transportation device that can carry pennies across the floor. They are given a ramp to launch their device (hence the gravity part). The ramp can be anything you think of that will work.
IC #9

Math Tutor DVD

Math Tutor DVD has a wide ranges of products available on their website www.mathtutordvd.com. As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received two products from Math Tutor DVD for review: Young Minds Numbering and Counting and The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor.

This DVD is designed to expose young children to math at an early age and make it a joyful experience. The bright photographs, video and animation set to classical music from composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and others make this an enjoyable DVD.

It teaches little ones to count from 1 to 10 and engages them with brightly colored everyday objects. Some of the objects include animals such as frogs, horses, jellyfish, sharks, whales and the sounds they make. Colors are also taught by pointing out the color of objects on screen.

Numbers are animated to fly-in from off screen and show the child how to count by counting the objects on the screen.

Here is a sampling of the objects presented:
  • Variety of animals along with animal sounds
  • Fruits and vegetables along with their colors
  • Machines that move such as trucks, airplanes, etc., along with the sounds that they make.
  • Everyday objects such as crayons, toys, etc.

Price: $19.99

I thought this was beautifully done, visually appealing and engaging to my 2 year old. It was very soothing and relaxing to watch and I enjoyed it every bit as much as she did, just listening to the music. I think it is a great way to expose numbers, counting and everyday concepts to little ones.

Word problems seem to be the toughest to tackle when it comes to everyday math, but this DVD was so simple to understand that it made it seem so easy to Tackle Basic Math Word Problems.

Basic Math Word Problem Tutor is focused on building essential math skills at the elementary and middle school level specifically dealing with basic math word problems. They are designed to prepare the student to tackle Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and beyond.

Word problem lessons are taught through fully worked example problems in a step-by-step fashion.

The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor is a 2 DVD set for a total of 8 hours in lessons.

Contents include:

Disc 1
  • Section 1: Adding Whole Numbers
  • Section 2: Subtracting Whole Numbers
  • Section 3: Multiplying Whole Numbers
  • Section 4: Dividing Whole Numbers
  • Section 5: Adding Decimals
  • Section 6: Subtracting Decimals
  • Section 7: Multiplying Decimals
  • Section 8: Dividing Decimals

Disc 2
  • Section 9: Adding Fractions
  • Section 10: Subtracting Fractions
  • Section 11: Multiplying Fractions
  • Section 12: Dividing Fractions
  • Section 13: Percents, Part 1
  • Section 14: Percents, Part 2
  • Section 15: Ratio and Proportion

See a sample clip from the section on fractions to get an idea of how the material is presented.

Price: $26.99

This DVD has a "this will improve your grades or your money back" guarantee.

I used this course with my three older boys (grades 4, 5 and 8). We sat down with scratch paper and a pencil and watched it together. On problems that were very easy, I had the boys solve the problem and we moved on to the next. When we got to tougher problems, there was no need to pause the DVD ~ it goes step by step and is very thorough. I think they all benefited from these DVD's and plan to keep it around for a resource. I also really enjoyed letting someone else do the teaching for a change and recommend this if your elementary or middle school aged children struggle with understanding basic word math problems.

Be sure to see what my Crew mates thought of Math Tutor DVD, or visit the Crew blog by clicking on the banner below.

I received this product for free for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Instant Challenge #8: Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

The Scene: You are a team of highly distinguished private secret agents. Your client has given you two difficult tasks.

Challenge: Your team is to decide on something that would be hard to hide along with something that would be hard to find, and then present a PERFORMANCE in which you hide the thing that would be hard to hide and find the thing that would be hard to find.

Time: You will have up to 5 minutes to use your IMAGINATION to plan your PERFORMANCE. You then will have up to 2 minutes to present your PERFORMANCE to the Appraisers.

Thing that would be hard to hide: chewed bubble gum.

Thing that would be hard to find: a place to hide their hard to hide object (the bubble gum).

I thought they were especially creative in coming up with their objects. I think chewed bubble gum would be hard to hide, especially, if you wanted to chew it again! Which made finding that hard to find object, someplace that they could park their gum until later, a little bit of a challenge.

The private secret agents meet up at a restaurant (in the middle of nowhere) ~ that doesn't allow gum chewing. They end up finding a toy car (think Matchbox car) that some kid left behind to stash their gum before the waitress sees it. Then one of them sits on the car to hide it. Then they dig the gum out of the car to chew it again.

I think Dylan did a great job in the corner as a narrator and sound effects guy. If you listen closely, you can hear several sound effects such as whistling, car sounds, gum smacking, and more. They also did a great job of dividing up the roles, so that everyone was doing something. I loved their creativity and willingness to do a little impromptu!

(I made the mistake of telling Elli to clean up her mess right before we started filming, so she is a bit of a distraction at the beginning).

They had fun with this one, got a few laughs out of it, and scored the highest points yet, so I'd say it was a great challenge!

What About Socialization?

Well, what about it? was my first thought. Nevertheless, I will give my short take on the "issue" of socialization among homeschool students. In short, it is not really an issue at all. I learned early on that it is not about what TO do when it comes to social opportunities and homeschooling. It is about what NOT to do. Our first years of homeschooling were flooded with social opportunities and we did all that we could. We were involved in anything that came our way, and initiated activities ourselves, just to make sure that we were given a social outlet. (And I do mean we). However, there came a time when I realized that quantity is not the answer to the socialization question. I believe that we need to guard our time as homeschoolers more than we need to worry about socialization. It is easy to get carried away being too involved outside the home. So, the "issue" of socialization is not really an issue at all. There are plenty of opportunities to involve our children socially to the point that we can do too much.

Homeschool Highlights #11

I am happy to be wrapping up our school week a little early today. The boys are on their way to Chess Club, the house is decent, dinner is almost ready (homemade pizza Sue Gregg style and a salad) and I just took a loaf of whole wheat bread (same recipe) out of the oven for tomorrow. The whole wheat honey chocolate cake has cooled on the counter (well, it looks like a cake anyways, it was supposed to be brownies and I have no idea how my experimental recipe will taste)

Have you had days where as soon as you gather everyone to the table to do school, something pulls you away for "just a second" and by the time you make it back, everyone has scattered to the far corners of the house and it takes you 10 minutes to gather everyone back. . . and then something else happens? This is how this week felt to me. Then, I let my youngest two eat a bowl of beans all by themselves so I could finish reading a really good book to the older kids. What could go wrong with a bowl of beans? Well, nothing. Unless they decide they want some sour cream to go with those beans.

Or should I say a little beans to go with their sour cream? I seriously thought she was going to cry until I took her picture. They managed to open a brand new container of sour cream (the largest one you can buy) and by the time I found them half the container was everywhere but in their beans, lol. So, instead of finishing up that book, I gave the youngest two a bath.

I had lots of little moments like that this week and I am glad that I can laugh about it. Now.

Homeschool Highlights: We did get some school done this week, though. Here is a quick update: I continued on with the same style as last week with my schedule and it really helped me to see what we did (or didn't do in this case). Daily Independent Work: (4 days this week)
  • Bible
  • Think of Me (I was asked about this and will share more about this in a future post)
  • Reader
  • Language Lessons
  • Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting
  • Apologia Science (Zoology 3 & General Science) (The boys asked to take a break from their regular science program and since we did so much nature study this week, I was okay with that!)
  • Math Mammoth/Life of Fred ~ Fractions (I am reviewing Math Mammoth with N & D)
  • Online Math Practice ~ MathScore (in the morning)
  • Mathletics (in the afternoon)
Day 1:
  • Tot School
  • Nature Study ~ Winter Tree Study
  • History Read Aloud ~ Mara, Daughter of the Nile Ch. 18-19
  • Exploring Ancient Egypt ~ free reading from a variety of books on Ancient Egypt
  • Soccer game (Jordan)
Day 2:
  • Madsen Method ~ Spelling Test: Morrison-McCall Spelling Scale ~ List 3
  • History Read Aloud ~ Finish Mara, Daughter of the Nile Ch. 20-25 (loved this book!)
  • Mapping Activity ~ Egypt
  • Volleyball Clinic (N&D) 4:45-6:15 & Basketball for Nathan 4:30-6 (Yes, that boy was double booked).
Day 3:
  • Madsen Method, Section 3, Lessons 3-4
  • AAS (Level 2) Lessons 7-9
  • History Read Aloud ~ Ch. 1 The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt, by G.A. Henty
  • Chopin ~ The Early Years: Ch 3
  • Volleyball practice (N&D) 6:00
Day 4:
  • Nature Walk (2 miles)
  • History Read Aloud ~ The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt Ch. 2-3
  • Volleyball game 4-5
Day 5:
  • History Read Aloud ~ The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt Ch. 4
  • Volleyball game 4-5 (Nathan and Dylan)
  • Basketball 6-7:30 (Nathan)
Day 6:
  • Tot School ~ (I will post what we did next week)
  • Madsen Method, Section 3 Lesson 5 (English numerals and make a calender)
  • AAS 2 Lesson 10
  • History Read Aloud ~ The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt Ch. 5
  • Sabbath Preparations
  • Library Day (well if a 5 minute trip just before closing counts)
  • Lesson Planning (I really need to schedule this for an entire day!)
  • Chess Club (boys are loving this)
I will go back to my usual style of posting ~ where I list by topic what we accomplished, rather than by day. At least I have given you an idea of what our week looks like.