Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday

I tried something new today---making Hot Cross Buns.  I tried an "easy" version I clipped out of a Home Life Magazine from April 2009.  Hot Cross Buns have been traditionally eaten on Good Friday for several centuries.  There are superstions tied to the buns, but today they served to remind us of what Christ did for us on the cross. 
Waiting for the rolls to rise...

Those little specks are cinnamon.  I left out the raisins and nuts.  That is more of the traditional recipe--but I wanted my kids to eat them! 

My family really enjoyed them--and I think I'll have enough for the whole weekend. 

Have a Blessed "Good Friday"!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Creative Art: Faberge' Eggs

Last year my boys enjoyed making their own version of Faberge' eggs.  We had been studying Russia, and this worked out perfectly to be done at Easter time. 
We decided to make/shape our own eggs from Crayola puddy.

These are a few books I checked out from the library for inspiration.

Waiting for the eggs to dry and harden....

A gorgeous spring day for painiting eggs....

All done!  The boys gave them away as gifts to family.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Palm Sunday~~Preschool Sunday School

Hosanna!  This past week we celebrated Palm Sunday.... 
Block Center: Building a maze for the donkey to walk through.  (See the donkey in the lower left by the picture?---He came from our Nativity set!)

Puzzle Center: Matching fabric squares
I shared from the Bible story how some people took off their cloaks and lay them on the road for Jesus.

Puzzle Center: Spelling "Hosanna"
This is what the people shouted as Jesus entered Jerusalem.  The children shouted it as well!  It means, "God save us!"

Puzzle Center: Jesus with the children puzzles

Book Center: Books about Jesus and Easter
(And the Bible!!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

TOS Review~~~Essentials in Writing, 9th Grade

Essential in Writing logo photo EssentialsinWritinglogo_zps7affe1cf.jpg
     Would you like to invite a professional teacher into your living room to teach your student  writing?   That can "virtually" happen with Matthew Stephens and  Essentials in Writing! My family received the 9th Grade Essentials in Writing, which my upcoming 9th grader has used for several weeks.  Essentials in Writing is a Language Arts/writing curriculum for grades 1st-12th.  The teaching is done by Matthew Stephens by way of a DVD lesson.  Worksheets via PDF download contain the lesson in written form, lesson examples, and assignments for the student to complete. 
     The Teacher:
     The teacher can make a subject fun and engaging, or boring and laborious.  Mr. Stephens does a great job in making writing an enjoyable task.  My son has yet to complain about watching the DVD lessons.  (In fact, he rarely watches his lessons alone.  His little brother and I almost always watch too!)  Matthew Stephens has a teaching degree with an emphasis in Elementary, Middle School and High School English.  He is also a Christian and a homeschool dad.  As Mr. Stephens teaches, I can tell my son feels right at ease.  The teacher smiles a lot, and many times puts things in a "funny" way to make a point.  He does a fabulous job in making things clear for the student.  (My kids especially like it when Mr. Stephens has to write a lot on the board...the DVD automatically goes into fast motion so that we don't have to sit there forever waiting for him to write for several minutes!  I thought this was a very clever idea they had.)
The Curriculum:
    1. Sentences: 8 Lessons
 2. Paragraphs: 10 Lessons
3. Essays: 30 Lessons.....
(2) Intro Lessons
 (6) Personal Essay Lessons
(7) Persuasive Essay Lessons
(8) Expository Essay Lessons
 (7) Compare and Contrast Essay Lessons
4. Research Paper: 15 Lessons

How it Worked for us:
     For each lesson, my son (and I) watched the very short (no more than 5 minutes) writing lesson taught by Matthew Stephens.  I encouraged my son to take notes as Mr. Stephens taught, pausing the DVD as necessary.  (The "notes" are in print form on the PDF, but I just wanted my son to get in the habit since college is fast approaching!)  I then printed out for him the lesson for that day and let him get to work on it.  Most assignments took no longer than 30 minutes.  (Sometimes there is an "A" lesson and a "B" lesson.  For the "B" lessons, they can be done the next day, without having to watch the DVD.)  My son worked all the way through the sentence lessons and has done most of the paragraph lessons and a few of the essay lessons.  We have not yet tried the Research Paper lessons.  (But I have looked ahead at them....and they look equally as thought-out and well done as the other lessons.) 
     The sequence makes a whole lot of sense.  Sentences build paragraphs, paragraphs make up essays, etc.  Mr. Stephens also follows a guideline for writing.  He doesn't expect a student to "right off the bat" write an essay.  He  shows them step-by-step how to organize their thoughts.  He makes graphic organizers available for those students for whom they would help.  He even goes the extra mile of not just telling students how to write a paragraph, but showing them, step-by-step.
      Mr. Stephens believes in repetition.  He explains that this is what is going to make good writers.  He talks about how there will be essays on the SAT and in college.  This is why he uses writing prompts for the essays.  In college or during a test of some sort...one may not have free choice of what to write.  The student will be expected to write within the parameters given.  This has been good practice for my son.  Many of his past writing assignments were pretty open as far as "topic" was concerned. (For example,he has written many "persuasive essays", but almost always about whatever he wanted to persuade someone to think or do.)  The other day, for example, he had to chose between 3 prompts for the persuasive essay.  None of them really suited him.  I told him to pick one and just make it work.  I gave him just a little guidance, and after his second try, he had a great essay!
     Matthew Stephens may be an excellent writing teacher...but guess who gets to grade the papers?  That's right...mom! (or dad!)  Mr. Stephens, unfortunately, cannot fit all of us into his schedule.  (Ha!)  He does give us a very good tool, thought.  Within printable lessons, there are scoring guidelines or rubrics along the way to help in your grading. Just prior to the scoring guidelines are printable checklists for your child, so that they can do some final editing before handing over the final work to mom or dad.
 Cost and Other Available Products:
*$40 for the 9th grade program, $20 for the optional workbook
(The $40 includes access to printable files.)
*Similar courses can be purchased for grades 1st-12th.  Two High School electives are coming soon.
Check out what some of my fellow crew mates had to say about Essentials in Writing HERE!
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.



Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Good Book for St. Patrick's Day

     My family doesn't really do a lot to celebrate St. Patrick's Day...although today we all wore green to church.  The day has reminded me, though, of a book we read a few months ago:

 This historical fiction book contains the story of St. Patrick and his arrival to Ireland.  Neither my boys nor I had never read a book about this part of his life before---we really enjoyed it!  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

TOS Review: Artistic Pursuits (Middle School, Book 1)

      Pablo Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."  I have had this basic thought (though never as eloquently stated as Picasso) ever since my boys were in preschool.  I would often gaze at their paintings, drawing and play-dough sculptures and say to myself, "Now that is ART!"  I don't think they would have fetched a high price at an art auction....but it was art nonetheless.  It was art because they didn't copy it or try to do it exactly like someone showed them.  They were creative with the mediums they had to work with. 
     That's why I really appreciate they way ARTistic Pursuits teaches art.  They give children the tools they need and then help to guide them on their journey of becoming an artist.  I had been frustrated in the past with using art books to teach my children art.  It seemed that they left little to the child's imagination, or way too much for mom to sort through.  ARTistic Pursuits points the way, and the child then is free to use the basic parameters and tools to create.  The curriculum could not be any easier for mom (or dad!).  Just enough information is given to make sense of the assignment. 
      My boys are 6th and 8th grade, so the  ARTistic Pursuits for Middle School (Book 1)  was perfect for our homeschool.  This curriculum focuses on the elements of art and composition.  (Middle School Book 2 focuses on color and composition.)
The Supplies
     Before I get to the ins an outs of this art curriculum, it's important to know the art materials you'll need.  ARTistic Pursuits gives a LINK on their website so it's easy for you to purchase exactly what you'll need.  (You can click HERE to find out the exact supplies needed for Middle School, Book 1.)We already had some of the supplies, but a few we still had to purchase.  Of course it's always so much fun to get new art supplies!  (A new one for us was the sandpaper block...something we'd never used or heard of before!)
The Curriculum
     This art curriculum is designed to be completed in one school year (32 weeks).  Two classses are given each week, giving an hour to each lesson.  There are 16 units in this art curriculum.  The units range from Space, Line and Texture to Perspective and Proportion.  Within each unit, there are 4 Lessons:
1st Lesson of Each Unit: Building a Visual Vocabulary 
 This is where you child will be asked to look for something particular in his/her environment.  For example, in Unit 2, Lesson 1, the assignment was to: "Go outdoors and look for an object from nature that has something unique or interesting about it.  Make a drawing of it...."   Here's my 6th grader's drawing .  He's adding some finishing touches.  He really enjoyed being outside for this assignment!


 2nd Lesson of Each Unit: Art Appreciation and Art History
This is something important to me when looking at either an art teacher or an art curriculum. Your child will see how the masters used the topic they are studying (space, for example). The student will then apply what s/he has learned to create a new work of art.  The above picture is from Unit 1, Lesson 2.  My sons did a lesson related to "The Portrait of an Elephant, Dal Badal, Chasing His Attendant".
3rd Lesson of Each Unit: Techniques
Students practice learning how to use materials and tools.  For example, in the above 2 pictures my oldest child practiced using sharp, pointed pencils in the top picture and broad-tipped flat pencils in the bottom picture.
4th Lesson of Each Unit : Application
This is where your child does a final project incorporating the new techniques they learned. In Unit 1, Lesson 4 the assignment was to read the story of The Blind Men and the Elephant and to draw an illustration.  In doing so, the student was applying their learning of "space", which is what Unit 1 is all about.  The student had to be very mindful of where to place the elephant and six men in the drawing.

The Cost and Similar Products
  ARTistic Pursuits for Middle School, Book 1 can be purchased for $47.95.  If you are looking for an art book for younger children or highschoolers, those are also available.  Go HERE  to see all the options.  You'll also want to read all the ARTistic Pursuits REVIEWS written by the rest of the TOS Review Crew. 

What we Thought.... 
     ARTistic Pursuits really works with my kids.  They are learning new techniques and using materials/mediums that they've never used before.  I was a little unsure of my children actually being able to learn art without an art teacher...but ARTistic Pursuits really does teach!  As we have incorporated it into our weekly schedule, I have seen how art truly is an important part of the total education of a child.  The only negative about this curriculum? I just wish we'd started using it earlier!

     I remember back when my boys were "little", and they would be painting or drawing a picture.  Someone would say to them, "You may grow up to be and artist one day,"
     I'd then reply with, "Oh, he is an artist now!".  I believe that ARTistic Pursuits will help you keep the artist in your child!
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Preschool Sunday School~~God Made the Animals

God Made the Animals (Genesis 1:25)
Today we learned about days 5 and 6 of creation.  (We'll get to people next week!)
Puzzle Center: Matching animals to their habitat

Block Center: Building a zoo

Art Center: Playdough and animal cookie cutters

 Book Center: sewing cards and animal magazines
We never got to the animal sewing cards.  The boys and girls LOVED the "Your Big Backyard" magazines. 

We had a fun time in group time:
Bible Story
Bible Verse
The Beetle Song
Identifying animal noises
Thank-you prayers for all the animals

I've never mentioned this before, but wanted to make sure and share with my readers that this is the curriculum we use for Sunday School:   (We love it!)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Making Suet

   My 12 year old is still enjoying his Apologia Science that I reviewed HERE.  He is having such a great time learning all about birds.  We recently made suet to help feed our feathered friends during these cold days of March.

Cooking up the suet on the stove...the first time I've ever purchased lard!! (The recipe came from the Apologia Book linked above.)

After it cooled a bit, we put it in freezer bags.  We molded it so that it would fit into our suet "cage" and placed it in the freezer overnight.

The birds took a few days to get used to it.  They are used to the store bought suet.  Every morning we now see a cardinal getting his breakfast!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Preschool Sunday School~God Made a Beautiful World

We learned about the first four days of creation this past Sunday.

Bible Truth: God made the sun, moon, stars, water, land and plants.

Bible Phrase: "Look at the wonderful things God made."  Job 37:14

Nature Center: Leaf Rubbings...with foil and an eraser.

So neat!!

Art Center: Using chalk and stencils.  Boys and girls made daytime pictures, too.

Building a park in the block center.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lone Star Learning TOS Review: "Get the Picture Greek and Latin Roots, Set 1"

     I love it when I find a product that is simple, easy to use, liked by my children...and works!  I found all of these aspects in the "Get the Picture" cards from Lone Star Learning.  My family received the Greek and Latin Roots cards.  I was thrilled to get to use these with my two middle- school aged sons, since I felt that "roots" might be a missing part of their homeschool education. 
     The idea here is to help students learn Latin and Greek roots, which will then in turn help with vocabulary and spelling.  This is done by using colorful cards where the root word is made to look like what it is.  For example "hydr" means "water".  (See above example.)  The answers are not given on the card itself, but on a separate card (for the mom/teacher to use).  These cards can be put up in your home or classroom.  We used them as "flash cards".  There are 30 Latin root cards and 30 Greek root cards.  The Latin cards are Lavender and the Greek cards are Green.  (Clever, huh?)  These are nice, large cards.  They measure 5.5" x 8.5".  These colorful cards are printed on heavy cardstock.  The cost for this set is $39.99.  They can be used with children (approximately) grades 3rd-8th. 

Latin Root Cards

Greek Root Cards

     We started using the cards almost immediately after we received them in the mail.  They were that simple.  At first, I used the cards to quiz both of my boys together.  I let them figure out on their own (if they could) what the root meant.  I told them the answer if they needed help.  After doing it that way a few times, I then let them take turns calling out the correct root meaning.  Later still, I gave one son all the Latin roots, and the other all the Greek roots.  The next day I'd switch.  We did these fun drill for several weeks, about 3 times each week.  It only took a short amount of time each day.  They really enjoyed it....no complaining here! 
     Today, I decided to give my boys a "pop quiz" on all the roots. The quiz was a matching quiz, with no hints from the cards.  No pictures.  They both made an "A"!  The only "studying" they did were the short drills we did a few times a week.   (I did find it funny, though, that one of my sons was apparently "stuck" on one of the words.  He "drew" the word in the margin of the quiz...this helped him get the correct answer!)   For us, this product really worked! 
Lone Star Learning makes other great products as well:
Science Vocabulary Pictures

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
You'll want to read ALL the Lone Star Learning REVIEWS from the TOS Crew.