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Thank You!

First, I want to say thank you for all of your comments and congratulations on my announcement. =) We are very excited and happy to welcome another blessing into our family and begin another faith filled adventure.
To answer a couple of your questions: I am 9 weeks 4 days based on my LMP which makes me due 12/22 plus or minus 2 weeks. (I usually go 5-7 days early).
I have already started my pregnancy journal offline and am debating on how much I should share online or whether I should start a private blog for sharing. We are planning an unassisted pregnancy/unassisted childbirth (up/uc) and I only need love and support every step of the way.
I have been feeling very, very tired. I have to laugh because I got an email this past week asking me how I do what I do. . . and truth be told - I can't anymore! I have been trying to pull together a lesson for B4FIAR for 2 weeks. I was not planning on rowing this particular book because it was out of print and then it (My Blue Boat) came in through ILL, so I was not prepared for it - no file folder to pull out and little energy to do anything. And I can't find my manual. I have read the book with the little ones on the couch and talked about the story with them, but beyond that little is happening around here. I don't even feel like being online much. I am just so glad that we are on summer break!

Our Stick Figure Family

I see these stickers all over town, so for fun, I made one for our family. :D
I printed it and made it into a card for Luke's parents. It took Mom a few minutes and poor Dad never did get it (we had to tell him, lol).

Review: Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places

I had the opportunity to review Finding Educational Activities in the Most Unexpected Places. When I read the sub-title, "More than 200 Activities and Ideas for Using Commonly Found Objects to Enhance the Learning of Your Young Child," I knew this was one I wanted to check out!

This 58 page PDF, written by Angie @ Many Little Blessings, is full of activities that use commonly found objects, such as balloons, balls, blankets, and boxes to cotton balls, egg cartons, paper plates and sponges, along with other things you can find around the house.

When I read the sample of activities on the author's website, one in particular caught my eye:
(Dishpan): Washing Day – Give your child a dishpan of water with a very small amount of very gentle washing machine detergent (or Woolite) in it. Help them to wash some doll clothes (or other small pieces of clothing, perhaps like socks) by hand. Then, set up a string between two pieces of furniture (or outdoors) for them to have their own clothes line to dry their newly washed garments.
This activity appealed to me for several reasons: it is a homemaking skill, develops small motor skills and gives little ones a sense of accomplishment - they can do important jobs too!

According to the author, the activities in the book are designed to develop:
. . . fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, speech and social communication, social interactions, adaptive (daily living skills), cognitive skills, sensory stimulation, body awareness, spatial awareness, imagination, and many more.
Price: $7.50

Note: My readers can recieve 20% discount from now until May 31st with this code: DL20.

What I liked about the book:
  • quick and easy to read
  • simple easy ideas that do not require much preparation or expense
What I would have liked to see more of:
  • more pictures of the activities/ideas in use {I'm such a visual person}
  • more unique ideas - with a few exceptions, the ideas presented are basic
Angie works with families in their home as a therapist for toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. Her aim in writing this book is to help equip families to provide enriching experiences for their young child. I think she has met her goal! Many young children are not stimulated and given early learning experiences, even through exploring with everyday objects and I think this book is a great place to begin.

In fact, I think this book is geared towards the parent who has no idea where to begin when it comes to providing these experiences or may be on a limited budget.

As a mom who provides rich learning experiences for her your young children through tot school and preschool activities on a weekly basis, I did not find it as helpful to me. I have tried all the "oldie but goodies" and need new and fresh ideas! But for the parent or caregiver that is new to giving their child the opportunity to grow and learn through hands on play, I think this is a great place to start!

Disclosure: I was given a free PDF copy of this book for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received and I offer my honest opinion.

Caps for Sale ~ A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Buisness {Before FI♥AR}

"Caps! Caps for Sale. Fifty cents a cap."

This is a catchy phrase and I found myself repeating it long after we read the story each day. I had never read (nor heard of) this story before, but I was delighted with the surprise turn in the story - and so were my children. We listened to the audio version as well and liked some of the catchy tunes that went along with it, but it made the story much longer - a little too long. So I read it each day and had the little ones help me with the repeated parts - especially the "tsz, tsz, tsz" from the monkeys.

Our activities this week focused on counting, coins, colors and of course, monkeys.

Balancing Act:

We balanced pillows on our heads like the peddler does with his caps! They thought this was funny. =)

Make 50 Cents:

I made a Ways To Make Fifty Cents coin rubbing activity to go along with this book, since the caps are 50 cents each.

I had to help Malachi with the pennies - that was a lot of coin rubbing. But it gave him a great picture of how much 50 cents is.

Matching Caps
This activity came from HSS originally, but it is no longer available. (Sorry!)

We also did some monkeying around:

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Although not specifically mention in the book, the concept of "monkey see, monkey do" is in the book and is mentioned in the songs that go along with the audio reading, so we played a game of Monkey See, Monkey Do. Each child took turns being the monkey or the peddler and the monkey copied everything the peddler did. They loved this simple game.

Monkeys in a Tree Craft

I got this idea from the FIAR boards in the archives section, but when I saw Susana's 5 little fingerprint monkey's jumping on the bed, I knew I wanted to do this. They painted a tree and I cut it out and glued it onto cardstock. Then they made fingerprint monkeys and leaves. I drew in the details for Mali, but Elli wanted to draw the de(tails) on her monkeys. =)

5 Little Monkey Tot Pack from 1+1+1=1

Monkey Parts

What Color Does Monkey Like?

First we read the book, and then we focused on the colors from the story - putting the colors of the caps the peddler wore on his head in the same order.

Then they played "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" and my two little monkeys thought it would be fun to jump on Elli's bed.

Activities from the author's website:

Malachi did several worksheets that I printed from the author's website.

Create a Memory:

Mini Banana Cream Pies
This is our first treat this year that contains sugar - and I let it be a good one. (smile) Organic banana pudding/pie mix, mini organic chocolate chip cookies - one on the bottom for the "crust", followed by sliced bananas and then the pudding, homemade whipped cream and more cookies on top followed by all natural chocolate sprinkles. (big smile) To say they loved these would be an understatement.

Monkey Pops

We also made these frozen banana pops - to make these I melted chocolate, whipping cream, and agave nectar together and then dipped the frozen bananas in the chocolate mixture and rolled the bananas in chocolate sprinkles. They were really good. Malachi said, with a big smile on his face, "I am always going to remember that you made these." =)

This is our 5th week of using B4FIAR, and I think I am ready for a break. So my plan is to take the next week off (and hope for sunny weather.)

Delightful Links:

Book Review: Kregel Publications

Susan Marlow's Circle C Adventures stars Andrea Carter, a tom boy who lives on a cattle ranch in Fresno, California in the 1880's. I had the opportunity to review book five in the series: Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure.

From the website:
"A map of old gold diggings lures Andi and her friends into the Sierras. Big brother Mitch goes along to keep them safe, but instead of gold they find heaps of trouble—trouble that leaves Mitch gravely injured. Andi needs help fast. But whom can she trust? And what good is a bag of gold when her beloved brother lies near death in the middle of nowhere?"

My Thoughts:

While Andrea Carter and The Trouble With Treasure is classified as a Juvenile Fiction/Religious/Christian, it is not overtly religious. The Christian tones are underlying and become apparent when the characters say a quick prayer or mention God's hand in their situation. Andi, the main character, seems selfish and thoughtless of others throughout the book, but proves herself in the end. I was kind of hoping that she would have more of a realization, like a strong conviction, as the story progresses, but it is only slightly apparent. The storlyline itself is a little slow getting into, but the story acclimates nicely and then you are pulled into the story more and the book moves quickly.

The Enrichment Guide is a nice supplement to this book. This 144 page book along with the guide would tie in nicely with a study on:
  • the California gold rush of 1849–1859, with a focus on maps
  • Annie Oakley
  • the Sierra Nevada's
  • a nature study on mountain lions
  • or rattlesnakes (I don't agree that rattlesnake is fit to eat, but the jerky broth recipe looks like a good one to try)
Take a peak inside and read Chapter 1 to see more. And be sure to check out my Crew mates reviews to see what they think of it.

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

Review: Light Speed Video Learning

Light Speed Video Learning, by Cerebellum Corporation is designed to be a fun and effective way for students to understand a subject. As a member of the Crew, I received U.S. Gov & Politics AP Exam Prep video. This video tutorial covers 30 essential AP American Government & Politics topics in 30 minutes. I can see why they call it "Light Speed Video Learning" - the material is presented very quickly! Each video also includes a digital workbook with video notes, practice questions, and quizzes, so the information can also be worked through at a slower pace.

The DVD is 73 total minutes and covers information on:
  • the Constitution
  • Federalism and Theories of Democratic Government
  • Political Parties and Elections
  • Interest Groups & Political Action Committees
  • Congress, Presidency and Bureaucracy
  • Separation of Powers
  • Policy Making
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • 14th Amendment
  • helpful test taking tips
  • and more.
Price: $14.98 ~ on sale now for $11.24
Here is a trailer of the video:

What I liked about it:
  • information is given in short spurts that are easy to understand
  • the material is presented in an engaging manner by other high school students ~ I think that would be appealing to students
  • the accompanying digital workbook and quizzes seem helpful

I really did not dislike anything about it. My students are still too young for this, but I am happy to have this around as a resource for when we study American Government and Politics.

If you would like to read more about AP Exams and Courses for homeschoolers, check out a fellow Crew mate's post for some helpful information.

Other Light Speed Video reviews will be available soon on the Crew Blog, so if this is something that interests you, I would read to see what other Crew mates think!

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

Review: Ideal Curriculum

I have two young children who are Pre-K and K, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review a curriculum designed just for that age group - Ideal Curriculum. I'll share a little about this curriculum, what I found "ideal" about it, and my final thoughts on the curriculum.

I received Month 1: Transportation theme. This unit includes art, science, dramatic play, and many other hands-on activities.

The monthly kits include:
  • Daily lessons and activities for literacy, math, calendar, oral language, and science/social studies
  • Teaching guides
  • Workbook
  • Music CD
  • Science, sight words, and concepts about print books
  • Supplemental activities

Skills Taught:
  • Letters and Sounds -Letter Names
  • Phonological Awareness -Listening Skills
  • Concepts About Print -Print is all Around
  • Sight Words -Name Recognition
  • Math -Rote Counting
  • $55 print version
  • $30 electronic version

This price is for one month worth of curriculum. You can save by ordering 3 months at a time or all 9 months at once.

Other monthly kit themes include:
  • Color
  • Weather
  • About Me
  • A Healthy Life
  • Animals
  • People in My Community
  • Traditions in Our Country
  • The World Around Us

The kits are all inclusive, but you can also order curriculum by subject.

Our Experience:

There are a lot of files (Music Files, Print Files, Read Files, Teacher Manuals, etc.) to go through, so I was a little overwhelmed at first. I decided to make this a week long theme (rather than a month), and just use what I liked from the materials. I pulled several lessons that appealed to me and jumped right in.

Here are a few of the lessons we did.

"Letter Lines" and "Vertical Lines Are All Around:"

For this "Letters and Sounds Lesson", I printed some diagonal, vertical, horizontal and curve printables to go along with the "Letter Lines" song and the lesson from the manual. We listened to the song on the computer and then I sang the verses to Eliana while she practiced writing.

I also printed a caterpillar set (composed of a straight and a curved caterpillar) and had her place the caterpillar horizontal, vertical, etc. To help her remember, I sang the verses from the song:
"A horizontal line goes side to side,

Side to side, side to side.

A horizontal line goes side to side.

It is laying down."

"Play Rocket Ship:"

In this math lesson, I was instructed to tell Malachi that he is an astronaut and that he has a secret mission. I told him to crouch down and get ready to blast off. Then together, we counted backwards from 10 to one and yelled "blast off!" This was great, because he did not know how to rote-count backwards from 10.
I printed two different sets of story sequence cards (a Science activity) and had Malachi put them in the correct order. I also printed and gave him an assessment.
We had a fun time reading the stories, listening to the songs, and more. We played the Sounds Bingo, where we matched a sound file to its correct picture. We also had a blast doing the "Animal Freeze Dance." It goes like this:
"Can you do the animal dance? Can you do the froggy hip hop? Can you hop up and down, can you jum all around, can you make your body flip flop? And now if you please, all the frogs freeze."
This was a song designed to teach listening skills. They made movements like the animals in the song, and then they had to freeze when the music stopped. I loved that it got my kids moving and learning to listen at the same time. I even had fun doing this with them.
I also really liked the stories. We read them on the computer, but they are very quick and have full color illustrations.
I really liked that this is a complete program all planned out for you. There are lots of hands on activities, printable files, music files, and stories to make this interesting. There are step by step instructions for implementing the curriculum and practical suggestions for practicing concepts throughout the day. We even learned our CBA's (The Backwards ABC's)!

What I did not like is that this was overwhelming. There are a lot of files to go through and implementing it requires a lot of teacher preparation - too much for just two children. It would have been easier to follow along if the files were linked in the teachers manual. Also, it seems geared towards a public school or classroom setting (this would probably work great in a homeschool co-op, though!). Finally, there are lots of files to print. The cost of paper and ink, and the expense of the curriculum is more than I would want to spend on a monthly basis.

Be sure to read my Crew mates reviews, when they are available, to see what they think of Ideal Curriculum.

I received month one electronic version of the lessons for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. In exchange, I offer my honest opinion and review. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.