Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring Learning Adventures.....

I am so happy the weather is cooperating and becoming warmer....Yay!  With sun and warmth comes joy and laughter in our homeschool.  Those winter blues were really causing some moods that I was ready to chuck out the window....pheww!

Last week as we were headed indoors to homeschool at my parent's home in the country, we discovered an old cocoon right in the bushes.  It looks like it may have been messed with as it was very noticeable to many of the birds out there.  The side was slightly torn.  The girls were pretty excited to examine it.  A natural learning experience right there.  Those are the best kind, love it!

The other day we whipped out our grill and hubby threw some hot dogs on.  We decided to let the girls shuck the corn to speed things along.  They loved it!  3 extra pair of hands is always nice.  They took time out from "chalk the walk" as you can see on the driveway, and gymnastics fun as you can see from the mat.  Very eclectic things going on all around them, the best kind of homeschooling. ;)

We took a mini field trip to the Exploration Station in Canton with a few other homeschooling friends.  It was quite impressive as you can see in the pics below.  Children could walk, climb, and slide through a variety of demonstrations, pretty cool. It was located in the basement of St. Joseph Health system off Canton Center Road in Canton.  They open this up once a month for only $1 per child and $2 per adult.  Perfect!  We can't wait to return to do some extra learning.

Inside heart and lungs!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Homeschool Blog Transition

Yay! My design for Brandon M. Homeschool is completed and should be up and running by the end of the day.  Here is a sneak peek of what it will look like. (The Header)  I am so blessed and excited.

My main reason for a new blog look is that when our homeschooling adventures come to an prayers and hopes are to graduate them, God willing, I will have our blog turned into a book through for memories sake.  I will be giving all 3 girls their own book to keep forever.  I get excited thinking about it and praying that opportunities like this will always be available to us.

I love that I was able to include my son's name in memory of our homeschool, it's a definite way to include him even though he is not here with us.  We miss him dearly....8/3/2005-8/3/2005.  He was born full term and lived for a short time here on this earth.  He will be eight years old in heaven this!

I have some fun activities and field trips I will be posting in the days ahead.  I will posting those when our new look arrives.  We got to study a chrysalis in a bush right outside my parents home out in the country the other day.  I got an awesome picture of that as well and can't wait to post it.  The girls were beyond excited to see it.  God's creation is truly amazing! 

Happy Homeschooling!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Math Rider Review

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Who loves teaching math?  I can honestly say that I have dreaded this subject since starting our homeschooling adventures last year.  My first grader has actually been excelling in math to the point of boredom, yet still needs to sharpen her mathematical skills.  I was excited to be introduced to Math Rider.
Math Rider is a learning game for elementary students.  It covers:
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division

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It's basically a really easy software you install onto your computer.  What are the system requirements for Math Rider?  Adobe Air Runtime. It runs on Windows and a Mac.  Installation was painless on my end and my 1st grader was up and playing in a jiffy.  Want a free 7-day trial? Click here.
Lyssa loves this game. We utilized it up to 4 days a week.  It was hard to pull her off the computer after 45 minutes of practice, haha.  She is learning her number facts very quickly and without any complaints.  How does Math Rider Work?

After installation, you basically add a "rider" to the game with their name, etc.  Before going on a quest, they can do a practice run to give them an idea of how the game is played.  Very straight forward.   Children are basically taken to a land of quests.  Their horse "Shadow" goes on awesome adventures by finding special flowers, gems, etc.  I believe there are 4 quests for the rider to complete. These are for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  All the rewards are different based on the rider's quest.  It's really neat.  As the horse "Shadow" is riding along, there is an obstacle with a math fact waiting to be solved.  The rider (Lyssa) is to type in the answer before jumping.  This is how points are earned.  If the problem isn't solved in time,  Shadow freezes with the number fact and the answer so that the rider learns the proper answer for each mathematical fact.

During Lyssa's practice run, she got a little stressed out like it was the end of the world, haha.  I had to assure her it was just to practice her math facts and that it wasn't a bad thing if she didn't know the answer.  Phewww.  Lyssa is our little drama queen so getting her to understand that was a challenge at first, but now she is a pro and loves it.

Kelly is interested in giving it a shot to help her with her multiplication and division facts.  It's a great tool to encourage children to learn math all the while having fun too.  This is a plus. I highly recommend Math Rider.
How much does Math Rider cost?  It is only $47 and includes free updates for as long as you have it installed on your computer system. You can also add up to 8 student riders for fun math quests.  Upon registration, you are sent tips and tutorials for Math Rider software.

What program do you currently use to encourage your child to do math?  Was it effective? I am always looking for new ideas, especially for learning math facts.  Math Ryder has been great thus far.  If interested in reading other reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, click here or the banner below.  Have a blessed weekend!
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Michigan Map Magazine and Paint Collage


For the past couple of months we have been doing Michigan History.  Some of this learning has been experienced up north, which is always a blast.

We wrapped up our unit with a map of Michigan.  We simply used a Styrofoam board as the base.  I drew the outline of the state with surrounding lakes.  The girls went to town searching for  Michigan related photos to place on the mitten as well as the upper peninsula.  It was a blast, the girls truly enjoyed their creation.

We finally finished it and posted a couple pics onto Pure Michigan's Facebook page.  The girls were beyond excited to do this.  A few people have noticed and "liked" the photos already.  Proud little girls and proud mama!

Because of the devastating explosion at the Boston Marathon, my mind and heart is truly not into posting today.  So, with that said, this post is cut short to remember and pray for all of those suffering and traumatized by this tragic event.  We need to really take the time to pray for our country.  Oh Lord, please come quickly!!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Leadership Garden Legacy Review

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The past few weeks have been challenging for Kelly as she has been learning the importance of being a leader as the older sister.  I knew that when I was introduced to Leadership Garden Legacy, that this would be something I could utilize and try with her.  I know she has been frustrated and was actually willing to learn about the importance of leadership as well as the true meaning.

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As Kelly read through U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden by Debra J. Slover, I read through U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within, by Debra J. Slover.  The kids version is more for ages 9-12 where the other book is for teens or adults.

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Along with these two reading books for Leadership Garden Legacy, I received The Leadership Garden Guidebook.  The guidebook basically reinforces everything learned in leadership such as:
  • Not being judgmental
  • Not enabling
  • Being Empathetic
  • Pruning Gossip
  • Eliminating Blame
  • Eradicating victimization
Each lesson in the guidebook coincides with the U.N.I.Q.U.E. books causing them to brainstorm ideas, words, actions, etc.

I also received the U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Activity Guide and Journal downloads and U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Audio Book MP3 download, which goes right along with the lessons.  Kelly did not prefer the audio as she enjoys reading and learning for herself.

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When we first started Leadership Garden Legacy, I must honestly say it wasn't working the way I thought it would.  I basically had to back up and read through everything myself to make sure I understood what she needed to learn first.  After this was accomplished, it was easy sailing.  She is beginning to utilize what she has learned as far as being a leader.  She enjoys working through the journal and writing out her plans to become a better leader.  We did the leadership study 4 days a week.  There were quite a few words she did not understand, so she utilized the good ole' dictionary as well.

How much does Leadership Garden Legacy curriculum cost?
"Leadership Garden Legacy is offering the TOS Community a “Spring Special Discount” of 20% on all our Empowerment Tools. This is in addition to our already discounted Tool Kit bundles.

To receive your discount, enter the discount code: TOS-SS20D upon checkout. This is a limited time offer and the code will expire on May 31, 2013.

Preview the bundled Tool Kit Discount options at:

Preview all product tools at:

Visit the Leadership Garden Legacy to learn more at:

With the bundle price of the Family Empowerment Tool Kit and the TOS extra 20% discount this is a $28.70 TOS savings off the retail price of the products."
I am so pleased that she received the revelation of being a leader.  Weeding out those things which are negative, etc., impacts how a leader behaves, etc.  We are on a mission to continue learning how to grow our garden in a positive way and strive to be what God has called her to be, not only with her sisters, but in the real world where she will eventually become a leader in whatever she does in life. 

I look forward to using Leadership Garden Legacy with my next daughter.  It's important for our children and their future to grow their leadership garden the way God intended.   We need Godly leaders in the days ahead.

To read more reviews by The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, click here or click the banner below.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Homeschooling Schedules and Curriculum


The past few weeks, I have been brain storming ideas for what we will be doing in the fall as far as curriculum and schedules go. 

A Beka worked out great for Kelly when we started last year, but became stale very quickly when Lyssa joined in.  It's so rigid, but it's also a great curriculum I am familiar with and would like to keep utilizing in some way, shape, or form. 

I'm thinking of continuing with A Beka in math, but then trying a literary curriculum as both girls LOVE to read.  I found  With this program you have to find a math program as well as foreign language, etc., but this curriculum seems to cover everything else.  I would just have to purchase the books from the book list and follow or alter the weekly schedule accordingly. 

What is Ambleside?  "It is a free homeschool curriculum designed to be as close as possible to the curriculum that Charlotte Mason used in her own private and correspondence schools."  Their goal is to be true to Charlotte Mason's "high literary standards."

 I was definitely intrigued, but I have to keep in mind that curriculums' will only work based on the child's learning style.  Because of my avid readers, I'm thinking this would be perfect for them.  It's definitely worth a shot and I am pretty excited about it.  I was originally going to try Heart of Dakota this fall, but I may change gears to see how it goes with Ambleside.  Heart of Dakota will be in the future I'm sure.

Our homeschooling schedule will be slightly different this fall too.  Bethany was registered into private preschool for the fall at Ward Church.  I will be able to stay at the church and homeschool the other two while she is in class 2 mornings a week.  Can't beat that.  No time wasted whatsoever.  Everything else in our schedule will most likely remain the same from extracurricular activities to church events, etc.

I would love to hear from you regarding curriculum.  What are you currently using?  Does it work? Are you willing to try something new?  I love brainstorming ideas from fellow homeschoolers, it helps me so much.

Have a blessed week!

Images are Free Public Domain (Pixabay)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Journey Through Learning: Letters, Numbers, and Shapes Lapbook Review

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I am super excited to be sharing this review with you.  I have been searching high and low for very fun yet educational lapbook studies for my preschooler.  When I came across A Journey Through Learning, I knew there had to be something there for her.  I ended up utilizing the Letters, Numbers, and Shapes lapbook study.

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I received the downloaded version of the Letters, Numbers, and Shapes lapbook.  It was very simple as everything came in a file and you just print off what you need for the day.

You basically need 3-4 file folders for this particular lapbook.  I used the colored folders to make it more fun and exciting for my preschooler.  The first few pages of the download give you instructions how to properly put the folders together and where to place each activity.  Perfect!

For my preschooler, I printed out up to 4 activities 3-4 days a week.  In this time-frame would allow us to review what she learned as well.  She is so proud and feels like her big sisters' as they are doing lapbooks too.  "Mommy, can I work on my book?"  Love it!  I definitely would recommend this lapbook to all parents of preschoolers.  As an early childhood educator that has worked with preschoolers, this lapbook is a definite must try!

The learning activities are great if you want your preschooler to work on their cutting skills as well.  Each item is perfectly formatted in a way they can cut out and glue properly to the folders.  My sweet girl is coming along very well with her cutting skills though she seems to get frustrated with cutting out circles.  We took those very slowly as I didn't want her to become discouraged and give up. I cut out the first few for her so she could see the process. She was beyond excited when she cut out her first circle without any guidance.  It turned out being more of an oval, haha, but the concept is there.   Happy little girl and happy mommy!

Here is what all of the activities entail to place within the lapbook folders:
  • Cover Page: (Picture of a train for her to color and recognize shapes).
  • Alphabet Tracing (These are broken up by 4-5 letters at a time).
  • Shape Recognition (Circle gumball activity, Square Jack-in-the-Box activity, Rectangle fire engine activity, and Triangle ice-cream cone activity.)
  • I Can Write my Numbers (Tracing number words)
  • Counting Items (Perfect little pocket to keep pictures of counting items).
  • Number Items (Perfect little pocket to keep pictures of numbers for recognition).
  • I Can Draw Animals (Little booklet for preschoolers to draw stated amount of animals).
  • Find and Color the Shapes (Little coloring pictures of different objects containing shapes and colors for them to fill in.)
  • I Can Match My Letters (Letter matching activity, matching lower case to upper case).
  • My Favorite Shape Activity (Inside this booklet you are to have your preschooler draw or write their favorite shape).
I love how everything is laid out in a way that my preschooler can just open it up and do each activity without there being any confusion or messes for that matter.  Makes a great road trip activity as well.

There are 4 versions of the Letters, Numbers, and Shapes Lapbook you can purchase:
  • Instant Download: $13.00
  • CD: $14.00
  • Printed: $20.00
  • Assembled: $29.00
I look forward to utilizing 3 other lapbooks or unit studies with my 1st and 4th graders:
I think these lapbooks would be perfect for enrichment for our summer learning.  I am all about unit studies containing study guides.  This is for Anatomy and Space, awesome!  The great thing about having these downloads is that I can save them for when my preschooler is ready to utilize them as well.  Can't beat that.

Have you ever tried A Journey Through Learning products?  Which one did you use?  I would love to hear from you.

Want to read more reviews regarding these learning items?  Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew or click the banner below.

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