Pocketful of Pinecones

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Pocketful of Pinecones (aff) had been on my ‘to-read’ list for quite some time. I purchased it months ago and finally had the chance to read it. I often describe our schooling style as ‘Charlotte Mason-Eclectic’ and I love nature study. Even with my love of nature study we don’t do it as often as I’d like so simple easy ideas are always welcome.

Since my reading time has been more limited over the last few years I’ve tended toward nonfiction titles that I felt were beneficial to my growth, but I’ve missed the fun fictional books. This book was the best of both worlds. It is a book with ideas and thoughts about nature study woven into a fictional story.

The story is set in New England in the mid 1930s. It shares the story of Carol and her children as they embark on their first year of homeschooling. The book is divided into seasons and each chapter is a diary entry from the mom sharing what they did that day. The chapters are short and easy to read, making it a great choice for a busy mom that may not have long stretches of time to read.

She shares ideas of how they found various things to study in their nature study, working on their nature journals, books for learning more, and great quotes and copy work.  At the end of each chapter there is at least one question to help you follow up and apply that chapter to your own nature study with your children.

While I really loved this book, I do feel like I should mention that it was a little unrealistic in a happy ‘hallmark movie’ kind of way. While they had a few difficult situations, everything always wrapped up very nicely and more simply than what I tend to experience in real life.

If you are new to nature study this is a great book for giving you ideas to get started and understand more about what nature study might look like in your home. If like me, you have been doing nature study for awhile this book can help give you fresh ideas and reignite that excitement about sharing nature with your students.

The author, Karen Androla has another book about this family, Lessons at Blackberry Inn (aff) which I’m hoping to purchase and read soon. She also has a non-fiction text, A Charlotte Mason Companion (aff), which I have found to be very useful in understanding the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

Give Your Child The World is on sale on Kindle for less than $1.

Amazon Prime Day is coming up Tomorrow with LOTS of great sales. If you are not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free 30 day trial to take advantage of the great sales.

$0.99 for 3 Months of Kindle Unlimted (limited time offer)

This might be my favorite deal, 66% off a 3 month subscription to Audible. If you have not tried it, now is the time!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

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Homeschool Homestead: Canning and Preserving

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Peeling Tomatoes

Every year we plan a couple of big ‘canning days’ and every year about half way through I say I’m never doing it again. Then we finish up and have all the yummy food ready for us all winter and I realize yet again that it was worth the time and energy.

If you are new to canning you should know that you don’t have to go crazy like we do and try to can ‘all the things’. Pick one or two things that you have an abundance of or are readily available at your local farmers market and try a small batch. You can work your way up from there!

We enjoy using canning as a part of the homesteading and homeschooling process. The children learn about food preservation, fill our pantry for the winter, learn about nutrition, and practice math skills (measuring, weighing, multiplying and dividing recipes). It’s also a great way to give responsibility to older learners. While there are parts of canning that need to be handled by a responsible adult or an older child, there are many parts of the process that are suitable for young children. My little ones tend to especially enjoy peeling tomatoes or peaches and shucking corn! I will answer some of the most common questions I hear about canning below to help you get started!

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What do you can?

We can a wide variety of things from tomatoes to peaches, salsa to turkey broth. We also enjoy pie fillings and jams for sweet treats in the winter months. We even can strawberry lemonade concentrate which is like a little burst of sunshine during cold winter. Just about any produce can be safely canned, some might need a little sugar or acid, but there’s loads of recipes here.

Is it better to use a water bath canner or a pressure canner?

That depends on what you want to can. I recommend starting with a water bath canner BUT some things are not safe to can in a water bath canner. In general, most fruits and pickles are water bathed and meats and vegetables are pressure canned but you can find out for each specific item on the websites in the resources below.

How do I learn how to can?

I recommend doing some research before you get started canning. If you like books the Ball Canning Guide is an authoritative resource as is the National Center for Food Preservation (USDA).  Many people learn better by watching or participating in a hands on class. Check with your local cooperative extension as they often offer free or inexpensive classes on canning. Also, many people that enjoy canning are happy to teach their friends and neighbors. If you have a friend or neighbor teach you, please make sure that you choose someone who is following the recommended safety procedures; there’s lots of ‘old timey’ techniques that aren’t necessarily safe

What resources do you need?

Canner: Water Bath or Pressure (depending on what you want to can)

Canning tools (jar lifter, magnet, canning funnel) These sometimes come with water bath canners like the set above and are also sold separately.

Jars and lids: Jars are reusable and typically cheaper locally than online due to shipping. Always make sure you use canning jars as other jars may not be rated for the heat. Metal lids are one time use, but the rings can be used multiple times. There is a little more of a learning curve but once you are comfortable with the canning process you can use Tattler Lids which are reusable, but cost a bit more.

Recipes: Unlike much of cooking you it is not safe to freelance on your canning recipes. Canning recipes are specifically designed and tested for safety. There are many resources out there with recipes but not all of them have been tested for safety. Two of the most used and recommended resources that are tested and trusted are the USDA and Ball. If you intend to enter canned goods into a fair, many require recipes to be from one of these two sources.

What are your favorite things to can?

As my friend Crystal would say, “Can all the things.”  Really though we enjoy canning a variety of different items. Pickles are one of my favorite even though they are little time consuming the rewards are great. We also really like corn salsa (we canned over 50 jars of corn salsa this week). For starting out I recommend jams or fruits as they tend to be simple but delicious and easy to do in small batches.

Why do you can?

We can for several reasons. We love to know where our food came from and support local farmers, we like controlling the ingredients, and enjoy the team building aspects of family canning.  We also love to see the children engaged and contributing to the household.

Do you have to grow a huge garden in order to can?

Absolutely not! While growing a large garden is a great way to get produce to can, we often purchase produce in bulk from local farmers in order to can enough for our family’s needs.  You can find local farm stands, u-pick farms, or even barter with a neighbor that might have an abundance.

Is it safe?

A quick Google search can lead you to horror stories of canning gone wrong. There is a very real danger to inappropriate canning. Botulism is nothing to play around with, however, as long as you are following safety-tested recipes and procedures canning is very safe. Follow the correct recipes, canning times, and canning procedures and your food is just as a safe (or maybe safer) than what you are buying in the store.

Key Safety Points:

  • Follow a tested recipe
  • Use the appropriate canner (never water bath a low acid food that should be pressure canned)
  • Make sure you have a good seal

What homeschool skills are taught/reinforced?

In addition to it being a valuable life skill in and of itself, there is a lot of math that we use in canning. Measuring and weighing ingredients, multiplying or dividing when we need to halve or double a recipe, elapsed time when determining what time the canners will be done, we’re even considering getting into pH calculations and specific gravity as their chemistry advances to those skills. It is also a good lesson in nutrition as you talk about needing fruits and vegetables all year and preserving them for the winter when they are not able to be grown locally.

 

We just finished up over 50 jars of corn salsa and 11 jars of plain tomatoes this week. I’m hoping to get a chance to can more tomatoes this summer and my daughter wants to make some blueberry jam to enter into our state fair.  Canning is a lot of work but it is very rewarding work and we enjoy spending the time working together as a family. Leave me a comment with your favorite thing to can or any canning questions that you might have.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

Give Your Child The World is on sale on Kindle for less than $1.

Amazon Prime Day is coming up next week with LOTS of great sales. If you are not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free 30 day trial to take advantage of the great sales.

$0.99 for 3 Months of Kindle Unlimted (limited time offer)

This might be my favorite deal, 66% off a 3 month subscription to Audible. If you have not tried it, now is the time!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

The Master and His Apprentices (Art History) Review

The Master and His Apprentices

I am excited to share with you my family’s new favorite art history resource. The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective is a full art history course that would satisfy requirements for a high school elective credit if it was completed as written. However, my children are in middle and elementary school and so we took a different route for this review and used it as a supplement.  We love incorporating a bit of art into our history studies. The layout of this program makes that so simple.

Honestly, art history is not a strong subject for me. It was not something that was covered much at all during my educational experience (I did get a little in a fine arts course in college). This can sometimes make it difficult to include in my children’s studies without doing a lot of research and work. I love that this art history book by The Master and His Apprentices made it so easy for me to find what I needed. the chronological layout makes it a perfect fit for using it to supplement our history program.

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The textbook starts all the way back at creation and shares about God as the master artist and his creations. Then it moves into art in ancient cultures and moves forward chronologically through modern times.

As we have been studying more modern history we skipped towards the end of the book and focused on chapter 18, Rococo to Today. I would read the information aloud and then show the children the art work on our television screen (hooked to our computer). We then talked through some of the discussion questions and just a general conversation about the art work. Since we were not using it as a high school course but rather a supplement we did not complete the exams or suggested papers.

Important Highlights From the Website

  • Written from a Christian perspective
  • Contain NO nudity or other objectionable material
  • Satisfies requirements for a full high school elective credit
  • Helps readers create a “visual” timeline of biblical and world events

I was really pleased to have a resource that had so much wonderful art from so many different cultures and time periods. That was made even better by not having to be concerned about whether the art work was appropriate for the children. This was truly the first resource I’ve ever found that was so comprehensive in the coverage of art work while not including any nudity or other inappropriate material.

The pictures were beautiful and included such a variety of art work. I loved that in addition to paintings, sculptures, and other traditional art they included lots of architecture and other pieces that were created as more than just artistic works.

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In the fall, we will be studying ancient history and I’m so excited to be able to use this to tie art into our studies. In addition to be separated chronologically they have it separated by culture. This means that when we read about Ancient Egypt, I can show them art work from Ancient Egypt, and the same for Greece, Rome, etc. I think it will be so powerful to be able to show them examples of canopic jars when we talk about mummies, statues and mosaics from ancient Greece, and Roman Architecture. I really enjoyed how they tied in Biblical events and references throughout the book.

The textbook includes several resources that really added to the ability to use this book as a supplemental resource. There was a great breakdown of art work from various geographic regions. This would be a great way to study art from one area over the course of time. Then they had a lengthy index that would make finding information or art very easy. There was also a section explaining various art terms. There was so much history included in this art history book that it could probably function as a complete world history course with a little bit of supplementation.

The teachers manual included a sample syllabus that could be used to make it a full high school class. The syllabus and included worksheets and exams would make it a very easy to implement class, even for those people like myself that do not have a strong art background. They have separate instructions for using this in a classroom (or co-op) setting and at home, answer keys for the worksheets and exams, and art history paper instructions.

I am looking forward to using The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective  to supplement our history studies for the next several years and possibly using it as a full course for my children once they reach high school. The worksheets in the teachers guide are considered consumable and for use by only one child. However, they only charge an additional $2 for each additional child making this a great resource to use with multiple children.  While the hardback version of this book would be out of our price range (through probably a reasonable price given the number of full color pictures) the digital version is very reasonably priced, especially for a resource that I can use for years to come.

The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

How We Celebrate Independence Day!

“It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews [shows], Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” John Adams

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The 4th of July or Independence Day is a fun filled and educational holiday in our home.  On or around the 4th of July we are blessed to be able to celebrate with family and friends (some of whom live in other states and only come to visit once a year). We enjoy a great local festival and parade, lots of good food, some lazy time on the river, and hours spent catching up with old friends. However, we also want to make sure that our children understand the significance of this holiday.

Our local historical site and the first permanent capitol of North Carolina, Tryon Palace, offers a day full of fun and education on the ‘Glorious Fourth’. As volunteers with Tryon Palace we will spend a portion of our day assisting in teaching others about the history and significance of July 4th. My husband is involved with their Continental Line unit and my children will be demonstrate how to load and fire a cannon (using a child sized model), colonial games, and answering questions about colonial and revolutionary times from a child’s perspective.

 

They also get to hear a great recitation of the Deceleration of Independence and talk with other historical interpreters as they revisit that day in history.  For our family this is the perfect balance of fun and education.  Many towns and historical sites have fun Independence Day activities and I encourage you to try to find one near you.

In addition to an educational program there are many fun activities you can do leading up to Independence Day. I’ve included some resources below that can get you started on a great study of the history behind this celebration and some fun hands on art activities. We would love to hear how you celebrate July 4th.

 

Resources

(May include Affiliate Links)

Liberty’s Kids DVD

American Landmarks Art Course (including the Washington Monument with Fireworks!)

7 Layer Flag Dip (my daughter is making this one for us this year)

What is the Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July Story

Independence National Historical Park (some great online resources for those that can’t visit)

Fourth of July Scavenger Hunt

How Fireworks Get Their Color

Videos and Activities on Declaration of Independence

Fireworks with a Fork (I’m so excited to try this one with the 4 year old)

Declaration of Independence Worksheet

 

 

Resource Library

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Silverdale Press LLC White House Holidays Unit Studies Review

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Voting Rights Posters! (yes I saw the typo 😉 )

When I signed up to review the White House Holidays Unit Studies by Silverdale Press LLC my plan had been to incorporate parts of several of the studies into our existing history program. I figured that I could condense them down and work through several of them that were applicable.

However, while I personally looked over several of them we only did one complete one as a family. Not because we didn’t enjoy them but because I felt like they were so good that we didn’t want to skip around and miss out on valuable content. I wanted to take the time to go through the entire unit study and really let it sink in.

These unit studies are broken down by holiday but I made my choice based on the fact that we were studying the civil rights movement as a key part of our history last month. I had planned to use several resources and supplement them with parts of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Study. When we received the unit studies I realized that I would not need to supplement our studies with anything other than our family discussions.

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In our home we typically do history studies twice a week and as civil rights was only one component of the era we were studying we decided to devote one day each week to the unit study and complete our studies of the other events of that time period on the second day.

While this was a Martin Luther King Jr. unit study it also talked about other people involved in the civil rights movement and as the name White House Holidays Unit Studies it also focused on how Martin Luther King Jr. interacted and worked with the men who were president during his time as a civil rights activist.

Each week I would read one of the lessons aloud to my children. This would inevitably bring about family discussions about this very difficult time in the history of our nation. Once I had read and we had discussed any questions the children had we would complete the various activities that were included for that week.

There was a timeline that continued throughout the study and each week that would add the events that had been discussed to the timeline. There was also a map that they could mark the various cities where the event occurred. There was a printable map included at the end of the study which is sufficient but after a couple of weeks my children decided that it was more fun to find them on our big wall map.

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In addition to the timeline and maps each week, there were various activities broken up by ages. Some activities for grades K-6 and some for 7-12. I went through each week and chose those that I felt fit best for our family. The children’s favorite activity and possibly one of the most eye opening activities was completing a quiz that was used as a barrier to keep blacks from registering to vote. They were surprised at how difficult the quiz was and how unimportant and random many of the questions were. Honestly, I was surprised. By most standards, I am a very educated voter and there were questions on that test that I could not answer.

Other activities included listening to freedom songs, making protest posters, analyzing speeches and participating in a service project. There were craft activities for those children that learn well in that modality, writing activities that could easily count towards your language arts program, and other relevant and engaging activities.

Each lesson also included links to various video clips. We watched a couple each week to help the children get a better understanding of what we had read and discussed that week. My son was particularly enthralled with one of the clips which featured the President on the phone with Martin Luther King Jr. We had just recently traveled to the Eisenhower National Historic Site as we studied through that era in history. So my children were very excited to make the connections of the Civil Rights movement with President Eisenhower.

In addition to the Martin Luther King Jr. study they have studies for Labor Day, Valentines Day,  Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one coming soon about George Washington. These studies could be done as your curriculum for a week leading up to the holiday or spread out over a month as we did. You could pick and choose a few of the activities or go all in and complete all of the option. We chose to use a study that correlated with our history studies that were in progress but they could easily stand alone. They can be done around the holiday but this one also worked just fine being done during a different time of year. I am looking forward to doing the Labor Day study in September as we get started on our new school year.  Which White House Holidays Unit Study sounds most interesting to you? Please let me know in the comments and use the link below to check out reviews of other studies by our wonderful Crew!

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Field Trip Friday: Gettysburg National Battlefield Park

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During our whirlwind mid-Atlantic trip we made our way as far north as Pennsylvania before heading back home to North Carolina. We made a lot of stops and saw some really neat places. We all enjoyed the trip but everyone had their own favorites. For my husband and twelve year old son, Gettysburg National Battlefield Park was certainly one of the highlights. This was a ‘bucket list’ item that we were all grateful to have the chance to visit.

Due to our schedule we only had about half a day to visit Gettysburg. If you are interested in history you could easily spend two days at the park in order to get the full experience. To make the most of our time we chose to purchase the guided tour on CD. We wanted the benefit of the guided information but the flexibility of being in our own vehicle on our own schedule. With a four year old and a baby we sometimes need to stop more frequently than a regular tour would allow. Having the tour CD also gave us the opportunity to listen to parts of the story later even if we did not have time to see the entire park that morning.

The CDs told the story of the Battle of Gettysburg as well as the Gettysburg Address. They gave us directions to follow and told the story of each location as we drove. There were various stops along the way to get a closer view of some of the monuments and other important locations. There were three different tour options depending on the amount of time you had for your tour.  The stories and the sound effects were riveting and well done. It made it easy to imagine that you were there watching the battle those many years ago.

For those that prefer an actual guide to the CDs they offer both bus tours and guided tours where you pay a tour guide to ride in your personal vehicle as you tour through the park.

On the day we were there it was unseasonably cool but sunny. We had the opportunity to talk with a reenacting group that had set up a camp near one of the monuments. This allows for the children to see what they would have been wearing, eating, and even the sleeping conditions.  They also offer various walking tours and demonstrations throughout the park at different times and dates. You can check the calendar prior to arriving or check at the ranger desk inside the visitors center for that day’s schedule.

Since we decided to spend the afternoon at the Eisenhower National Historic Site we did not get a chance to watch the movie or tour the museum that are inside of the visitors center.  You can enter the visitors center for free (this is where you will get your National Park Passport stamp if you participate in that program) to enjoy the restaurants, gift shop, restrooms, and information desks. However, admission to the museum and movie areas are ticketed.  If your children wish to participate in the Junior Ranger program you will also want to stop here when you first arrive to get the free Junior Ranger booklet for them to work on as you complete your tour.

If we are able to make it back in the future I look forward to visiting the museum. You can find more information about the museum portion of Gettysburg on the Gettysburg Foundation website.

We felt that this was a wonderful field trip. There is so much to see and learn at Gettysburg and it has an important place in American History. I truly recommend it to anyone that can make the trip. If you cannot make an actual trip to Gettysburg, there are many videos and pictures on the website. They even have a virtual tour of the National Cemetery.

 

 

Where: 1195 Baltimore Pike Gettysburg, PA 17325

Hours of Operation:

Park Grounds and Roads

April 1 – October 31: The park is open daily from 6 am – 10 pm
November 1 – March 31: The park is open daily from 6 am – 7pm

Museum and Visitor Center

April 1 – October 31: 8 am – 6 pm
November 1 – March 31: 9 am – 5 pm

Costs: Visitors Center and Grounds are Free. The museum and other features have varying ticket prices. There are also paid tours available.

Homeschool Discount: There are group rates available for the museum and film.

Website: https://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm

Food:

There is a restaurant and snack bar back at the Gettysburg Visitors Center. There are also places for picnics.

 

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Deals and Freebies!!

 

Peter Rabbit Collection Audiobook for only .48 cents! (at the time of posting always check prices)

The Last Archer (Green Ember Series) is only $.99 (prices subject to change)

The Black Star of Kingston (Green Ember Series) is FREE (again always check Amazon changes prices frequently)

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

 

Resource Library

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

The Good and The Beautiful: A Guest Review

I am pleased to bring you this guest review from my friend and fellow home school mom Crystal Levin. She has been homeschooling for 12 years and has children ranging from 16 years old to 4 months. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and I’m excited to have her share about the new curriculum she is using this year.

The Good and The Beautiful

 

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I have been promising this review for a while but with life and new babies it just got pushed back.  However it’s because of the new baby that I even tried this curriculum.  I am a homeschool mom to 8 wonderful children, but I had noticed that even I was dreading school. When that happens I know it’s time to reevaluate what we are doing.  Enter The Good and The Beautiful.  This curriculum is fairly new to the homeschool scene and made all kinds of promises.  I have to tell you they were promises that I loved.  It combines grammar, Art study, handwriting, spelling, literature, and geography into ONE.  All of this and and zero prep, it was really too good to be true.  I decided that at the price point I didn’t have too much to lose so I bought Pre K, Kindergarten and Level 5.

The quality of the materials is amazing. The pages are a heavier paper and it is in full color, something that’s important to my girls.  It truly is zero prep, I open the book and read the lesson with my girls and we are done.  Each lesson is packed with ONLY important information. I cannot tell you how much that means to me, I do not need 20 worksheets on the A sound but give me a card to review for a min or so before the lesson and I’m good.  The Pre K and K is just what you’d expect there is phonics work and poetry memorization along with letter formation practice and practice using each new sound you learn.  Pre K also goes over numbers and even starts Art Study.  The phonics cards are laminated and numbered and each lesson tells you what you need.   The Pre K even has hands on activities that use house hold items such as pennies or cotton balls.  The best part, It only takes me about 10 to 20min per kid for the pre K and K and in that time I feel like they have had a full, meaningful lesson with zero fillers.

Now once you get to the upper level it’s a bit different.  Each child has a check list that tells them what they are to do for the day.  The book TELLS the child how their week will be structured. They do poetry memorization every other day and alternate days between grammar flash cards and geography flash cards. As the parent I spend about 5 min reviewing these with my student (I have 2 in level 5 at the moment) Next you do sentence dictation. Each day you read 5 sentences to your student, they write them down and you check, any words misspelled they correct and then write 5 times.  This takes maybe 5 or 6 min depending on your student.  Then my favorite part is the shared reading. You and your student take turns reading to each other.  Each day it’s about 2 ½ pages. Once that’s done the student completes the work in their book and you are done.  The student then does independent reading in their reading book for the time you decide. In our family it’s 10min.

 

Every aspect of this curriculum is very well laid out. Everything has been planned for you and it is wholesome.  It truly lives up to its name, The Good and the Beautiful.  They don’t just stop at grammar however they also do Science, History and Math as well as Art. They also have a Nature Notebook and Creative Writing Note book.  Right now we are also using their science and my daughter wanted the Creative Writing Notebook.

I love how easy the creative writing notebook is for her to use. It starts out by giving you the tools to write. It has you describe colors and sounds, textures and colors.  Once you have done that it starts building your creative writing skills. It has made a nice addition to her school work and is something she actually ASKS to do and as a mom it doesn’t get much better than that!

Science is set up as unit studies and takes about 8min of prep.  You have to look at the material list for the experiments (all house hold items) and maybe print off a sheet for your children.  I took about an hour and laminated all the vocabulary cards and put together all the mini books so I wouldn’t have to do that later.  Each lesson is easy to follow.  You review words that you need to know, do an experiment if applicable and read.  There are options to find other books on the topic you are studying as well as how to go beyond the basic lesson for your older students. With the Water Unit there is the option to buy a book pack and I did. I cannot tell you  how much I love the curriculum I have used so far. It has truly helped me simplify my homeschool while still having a solid quality curriculum.  This is a Charlotte Mason style curriculum and so it reflects the values found in the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling.

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So, how much will you spend on this? Not very much at all, I find this is a very affordable curriculum. You can either purchase the PDF which is very inexpensive or buy the physical curriculum.  I chose to buy the physical because after look at printing costs and the expense of my time I would much rather buy it all done.  Their website is very well laid out and the folks that monitor their Facebook page are very responsive. I will continue using this curriculum with my children.  We are all using the Science and so far 4 are using the literature.  I have another child who uses her own thing. I have been using this for a few months now and so far I’m really happy!!

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There are a few great Kindle deals going on right now!

The Last Archer (Green Ember Series) is only $.99 (prices subject to change)

The Black Star of Kingston (Green Ember Series) is FREE (again always check Amazon changes prices frequently)

Memoria Press Classical Composition I: Fable Review

 

 

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

Finding a writing program for my twelve year old is one of the biggest challenges I face in our homeschool. I had heard great things about Memoria Press and I was excited to review their Classical Composition I: Fable Set. This set includes a teachers manual, instructional DVD, and a consumable student book. The book has twenty lessons, each featuring a different fable, and we were completing a lesson over the course of two weeks. Depending on your child you could move faster or slower than we did.

For each lesson my son would watch the video instruction and then complete a series of eight assignments. During the instruction the fable was read aloud and they discussed the vocabulary and various components of the fable.  Those assignments included looking for examples of the three plot components of recognition, reversal, and suffering. Then they would look into variations using synonyms to vary sentences from the fable associated with that lesson. Then they summarize the fable by creating an outline. I loved that in the instructional video they went step by step through the outline for the first lesson to show them how to create an outline and give them a good example moving forward.

Next, they are asked to do a written narration of the fable. They include a scoring guide for the written narration if you choose to score those. Depending on your child you may also want to start with a verbal narration and then do the written narration.

Then they move into a set of two paraphrases. The first paraphrase they are asked to use three different figures of description. For example in lesson 2 they are asked to use anemographia, dendrographia, and ethopoeia in the first paraphrase. Depending on the lesson they are asked to write the second paraphrase either by reduction, leaving out all extra details, or by starting at a place other than the beginning of the story.

Next the student completes the Variations Part 2 component. This is again using synonyms to vary sentences from the fable. This helps them work on using creativity but still keep the meaning of the original sentence.

Finally, the students finish the lesson with a final draft of one of their two paraphrases. They take the paraphrase that they wrote and find any mistakes or omissions. Then they write a final draft of that paraphrase. This is the culmination of what they have learned in the lesson and helps prepare them to write other papers in the future.

I loved the video instruction for this course. By having it on video it took the pressure off of me as the writing instructor and allowed my son to do some of this independently. I still worked closely with him since writing is a struggle for him. The instruction was easy to follow and included examples to show the student what was expected. Since it was broken into the various components it was easy to watch just the instruction we needed for that day.

This is a very thorough and classical education style writing program. It is well written and easily implemented. That said, my son did not like the program. He found it to be too repetitive and a little overwhelming.  He struggles with writing and while this program would probably help improve his writing, it was a struggle to get him to complete the lessons because he disliked the repetition of narrating, multiple paraphrases, and a final draft of the same story. While it was not the right fit for my son, the technique is sound educationally and would benefit many students who want to improve their writing.

If you are looking for a classical style writing program that is well presented and easy to implement then I recommend the Classical Composition I: Fable Set. If your family like ours is used to a more relaxed ‘Charlotte Mason’ approach to writing, this will be very different and may be a little overwhelming to your student. Memoria Press has many wonderful products and our Crew has reviewed a variety of them so click the link below to read more reviews.

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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Field Trip Friday: Eisenhower National Historic Site

 

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Living Room Portrait

The Gettysburg battlefield site is huge, so with this in mind, we almost didn’t go to the adjoining Eisenhower Farm. In hindsight, we’re glad to have taken a couple of hours and made the short bus ride.

The Eisenhower National Historic Site is the only home that Dwight Eisenhower ever owned. The home and farm are adjacent to the Gettysburg National Park and can only be accessed by shuttle bus from the Gettysburg Visitors Center.

When we stepped off of the shuttle there was a Park Ranger waiting to tell us about the home and begin our tour. This was a guided tour through the only house that Dwight Eisenhower ever owned. When asked later my 12 year old son said that was the fact that impressed him most from the tour.  It was a lovely house but not grand or magnificent. It felt very family oriented and ‘down to earth’.  The decorating style was very typical of the 50s and reminded me very much of my grandmothers home. There were lovely porcelain figurines in the formal living room and pink tile in one of the bathrooms. My daughter was surprised to learn that he only had one television set (though we also only have one in our home).

Once you completed the tour of the home you were free to do a self guided tour of the grounds and visit the gift shop. We did not have a lot of time and were unable to see most of the farm but the areas that we saw were beautiful. My son really appreciated that he had his own skeet range. At the gift shop and visitors center you can watch a short film about Eisenhower, see some displays about his career and get the materials to complete a Junior Secret Service agent badge program. This is a cute program similar to the Junior Park Ranger program that is available at many sites. Each child gets a free workbook and upon completion of a set number of activities receives a badge and certificate.

This was a great way to start our study of the Cold War. The guide in the house even told us a story of how Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev  had actually visited with Eisenhower and his three ‘secret weapons’ (his grandkids) at the home. My children found that story so interesting that it was the part most retold to people when they asked about our visit.

We were only able to spend about two hours at the Eisenhower National Historic Site but if I were planning a trip and had the time available I’d say you really need 3 or 4 hours to see everything and get the most out of the trip. It is free for fourth graders and their families with the ‘Every Kid in a Park’ pass but otherwise costs $9 for adults and $5 for children.

If this sounds interesting but you can’t make it to Pennsylvania to see it in person they also offer this free virtual tour for kids. There is also an online version of the Junior Secret Service Program.

 

Where: 1195 Baltimore Street Gettysburg, PA 17325 (This site is adjacent to Gettysburg National park and only accessible via a shuttle from Gettysburg National Park)

Hours of Operation:

 MAY 1 – MAY 25
The Eiesenhower Shuttle Bus will depart from the Gettysburg National Military Park bus station at 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm.MAY 26 – OCTOBER 28:
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Eiesenhower Shuttle Bus will depart from the Gettysburg National Military Park bus station every hour.

Costs:

Tickets:
Adults (ages 13+): $9.00
Youth (ages 6-12): $5.00
Kids (ages 5 and under): Free

Group Rates:
Groups of 16+ (ages 6-12): $5.00 per person
Groups of 16+ (ages 13+): $7.00 per person

Homeschool Discount: Included with your 4th graders Free National Parks Pass

Website: https://www.nps.gov/eise/index.htm

Food:

There are drinks available for sale in the gift shop on site and there is a restaurant and snack bar back at the Gettysburg Visitors Center.

 

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Deals and Freebies!!

 

Peter Rabbit Collection Audiobook for only .48 cents! (at the time of posting always check prices)

LAST DAY for enrolling in the annual You Are An Artist Clubhouse Subscription! Suumer Art Camp starts today!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

 

Resource Library

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Field Trip Friday: Strasburg Railroad and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

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Windy Day at Strasburg!

All aboard!! What little boy isn’t obsessed with trains? I think most children want to be a train conductor at some point in their lives and mine are no exception. They were thrilled to learn that they were getting a ride on a vintage carriage pulled by a real steam engine. This trip is a great experience for anyone young or old that is interested in trains. I’m actually talking about two different places today because they fit together wonderfully and are across the street from each other. They even offer a discount on combined tickets.

While we enjoyed both parts of this trip, the ride on the steam engine was far and away the most exciting and memorable. You purchase your tickets and board the train for a 45 minute ride through beautiful Amish farmland. The children loved hearing the sounds of the train and feeling it jolt into motion. Then they looked for cattle and other animals as we rode past various farms. This is a short line train that goes down to the end of its route, the engine moves around to the back of the train (which then becomes the front) and makes the return trip on the same track. The seats on the train were even designed so that the seat backs could switch positions when the train turned around. You can make the trip as a round trip in about 45 minutes or you can get off at a picnic area and enjoy some time playing and eating before catching a later train back to the station. They advertise this as the ONLY scheduled steam passenger serve in the world. Unfortunately the day we went it was unseasonably chilly and we decided to skip the picnic. This ride was one of the highlights of our eight day vacation.

After enjoying the train ride, we walked over to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. This is a very large museum with dozens of train cars and engines on display. They had train cars for different purposes as well as from different time periods. Some of the cars you could only look at from the outside but a few were open for interior tours. There were even dishes and other artifacts from older trains. In addition, there was a room where the children could work with model trains to solve a problem and younger children could play with toy trains. There is an introductory movie that will tell you more about the history of the railroads. They also had a lovely little gift shop with a wide variety of books, toys, and souvenirs.

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Where: Strasburg Rail Road 301 Gap Road, Ronks, PA 17572

Hours of Operation: There hours vary greatly. This link will show you a calendar and the train times for each day: https://www.strasburgrailroad.com/ride/operating-schedule/

Costs:  Price varies widely depending on type of ride, day, etc

Homeschool Discount: Group discounts available

Website: https://www.strasburgrailroad.com/

Food:

There is a restaurant available at the train station. There is also a grassy field that is great for a picnic or a picnic area available on the train ride. You can also ride on a meal car and purchase food on the train for an additional fee.

Where: Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania 300 Gap Road • PA Route 741

Hours of Operation:

November through March:
Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm
Sunday, Noon-5pm

April through October:
Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm
Sunday, Noon-5pm

Costs:   $8-$10 (also available as a combo ticket with train ride)

Homeschool Discount: Group Discounts Available

Website: https://rrmuseumpa.org/visit/

Food: There is a restaurant available at the train station. There is also a grassy field that is great for a picnic or a picnic area available on the train ride. You can also ride on a meal car and purchase food on the train for an additional fee.

 

 

Deals and Freebies!!

Don’t forget to enter our AWESOME Write Shop Giveaway!

Peter Rabbit Collection Audiobook for only .48 cents! (at the time of posting always check prices)

You ARE an Artist Clubhouse Memberships are open this week!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

Last Chance! Sale Ends May 31st Did you know that SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a sale? Not just any sale, but one that can open up a world of opportunity for your children for only $99! Plus, you get a FREE collectable tote bag and a print issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine mailed to your door when you sign up for our annual membership! That is one year of access to over 380 different courses, not to mention the resources and videos and World Book content. Hurry over and sign up at SchoolhouseTeachers.com before the sale ends on May 31! And don’t forget your coupon: YEARLYOPTION.”

Resource Library

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.