Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Owl-Themed Trunk-a-Treat

Our church had a Trunk-a-Treat and Fall Festival last night.  Here is my trunk. 

Most of what I used is from my trunk last year.  I did add a few new things.  I made a bunting from fabric scraps I had on hand and sewed them to some twine.  I happened to have orange ribbon that worked great and added that "pop" of color it needed.  I also added a wood slice and a pumpkin.  I wish I would have added some cut branches like I did last year.  It would have made this picture look a lot better. (But probably would not have made much difference in the dark last night!)  I put buckets for "lifts" under the burlap for the candy and pumpkin. 

Go HERE to read a similar post from last year...and more pics.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kudos to Math Essentials!


     One of the first products I ever reviewed was Math Essentials.  We have been using their "No Nonsense Algebra" for several months.  The other day, my son was unable to watch the videos.  I sent an email to the company, letting them know the problem.  I quickly received several emails, asking me questions so they could pin-point the problem.  Nothing seemed to be working.  How surprised I was to receive a phone call from Richard Fisher himself!  (My son was so excited...saying, "That's my math teacher!  He's famous!")  He was so kind to check on us to see if the program was running smoothly.  It ended up the problem was something with my computer, and not Math Essential's program.

       I just had to share this GREAT customer service experience!!  I highly recommend this company...and not just for the excellent customer service--they have a wonderful product.  It is so easy to use, and one of the most inexpensive math programs I've seen.

Preschool Sunday School~~~Abram and Lot

Our Bible story today was Genesis 13-- about Abram and Lot.  We learned how we should let others go first, just like Abram did. 

Abram and Lot traveled a lot, so they "pitched their tents" as they moved around.  We had lots of fun in our homemade tent!  First one friend....
Then two friends...
and now three friends!!  (These girls spent a long time in the tent coloring the Bible Story page.)
Puzzle Center: Animal Sorting Game
Blocks Center: Horses, goats and sheep

We also mad "Tent Card Reminders" with the Bible verse:
"Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself."   ---James 2:8

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Autumn Mantle (and Candlesticks Re-do)

I had a lot of fun putting together my mantle for fall this year.  I loved having something new to incorporate...my new candlesticks.

My dad made me these great candlesticks for Christmas.  I was so excited to get large ones like this!

I decided white candlesticks would better fit my decor.  It took 3 or 4 coats of white paint. 
A close-up of the finished candlestick and my decoupaged pumpkin from an earlier post.

I added a quote from Emily Bronte to my plate.

These were two Pinterest pins that inspired the idea:
It's the little things that make a house a home...

Mini pumpkins on candlesticks!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Preschool Sunday School~Saul, Jonathan and David

Sunday we learned the story from 1 Samuel about the special friendship between David and Jonathan. 

"Build with a Friend"

I put a bunch a blocks in paper sacks. Two friends sat back to back and built a structure from what was in their bag.  They then looked at what each other created and said, "Good job!"
Next, they combined their blocks and built something together.  They really enjoyed this.  I had decided to do this activity at kind of the last minute, since initially I didn't know if it would go over well.  I'm so glad I did it.  It was a hit!

We spelled Jonathan, David and Friend with magnet letters.

Making a picture for a friend.

We used watercolor pencils.  Draw, then paint with water.

"Be kind to one another."  Ephesians 4:32

Sunday, October 20, 2013

God's World News (Top Story)~~~A TOS Review

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 I have always tried to include current events as part of our homeschool curriculum.  Tried is the operative word...as I have not always succeeded.  Our local paper just seemed to lack any real news stories, or didn't seem terribly relevant for my 12-year-old son.  How thrilled I was to start receiving God's World News! Finally, a way for my son to read the news in a way that would be of interest to him.  PLUS...since it is a Christian publication, I don't have to worry about the content.  (I first became familiar with God's World News years ago when I was a Christian school teacher.  I remember how much my students loved it then, and was so excited for my son to give it a try.) 
     Since my son is in the 7th grade, he is receiving a a copy each month of Top StoryTop Story is written for Middle School students. The first thing you notice about this magazine is the wide variety of articles.  There is something in there for everybody.  The topics range from health to government and science to biographies.  One day your child may read about gluten free foods and the next day he or she may read about robots or the protest in Washington D.C. over the intervention in Syria. 
     Top Story comes once a month (except December and May).  (And what kid doesn't love getting mail?)  There is so much packed into these 32 pages. I love the "Bible 2 Life" sections you will often find at the end of select articles.  For example, at the end of an article about gluten free food, it talked about how the Bible teaches we need to practice hospitality.  It went on to say that if you have someone visiting your home who is has a gluten allergy, you should be sensitive to their needs and provide food they can enjoy.  In most issues, you will find a biography on a historical character.  In the October issue, for example, there was a piece written on Hank Aaron.  In each issue there is a "feature article."  It typically takes up several pages.  And what would the news be without some cartoons?  "In Toon" features mostly political cartoons.  I really like that it explains what the cartoon means. (So helpful!)
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     It is easy to make Top Story part of your homeschool day.  There are quizzes in the back of most issues.  These are typically based on the main articles.  There is also a vocabulary activity.  Students find the blue words throughout the magazine and try to figure out what the word means from a list of 3 definitions.  The September issue comes with a map.  You keep this all year to use with each issue.  If there is an article that relates to a certain country or city, a section of the map will be in the corner of the article with coordinates to find it on the larger map.  It's really hard to think of a subject Top Story doesn't cover at some point in each issue!

How we used it:

     I make God's World News part of everyday assignments in our homeschool.  I usually assign 2-3 pages per day of reading.  I assign quizzes if there is one that relates to the article being read.  The vocabulary words I save until the entire magazine is read.  Maps are already a big part of our homeschool. So it's natural to find things on the map of where we are reading.  I never have to try to get my son to do these readings or assignments.  He truly enjoys reading the articles!  In fact, I think his big brother does too.  I found that he had taken younger brother's magazine to read for himself.  He read it cover-to-cover! 

More Features: 
As a subscriber to God's World News, you'll also have access to their website with lots of perks.  You'll find downloads of archived or current issues, answers to the quiz/vocabulary questions, extended news lessons, biographies and much more!!
You can also sign up for the parent email.

Cost of Product:
Home subscription (10 months)......$28

Similar Products:


*My husband and I really enjoy WORLD Magazine, also by God's World Publications.  In fact, my husband snatched the latest copy and took it to work! It's yet another great way to get the news with a Christian perspective.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Decoupaged Pumpkins

     Five years ago my children painted plastic pumpkins at an art class.  We enjoyed displaying them  for a season or two.  After that, I just couldn't find a way to incorporate them into my fall decor.  (I know, I should be able to work something out with a brightly striped pumpkin and an FSU pumpkin, right?)  But, like most moms, I just couldn't bear to get rid of them.  Until this year. Well, sort of.  

     The minute I opened the fall container full of all my decorations I saw the pumpkins and thought, "decoupage!"  (I think I've been on Pinterest a little too much. hehe!)  I asked my boys if they were okay with me covering up their art work.  They said, "Oh, sure, mom." 

What I started with: scrapbook paper, Modge Podge, a brush and a pumpkin.  The best part: I had all these things already on hand!  FREE!

I covered sections of the pumpkin with Modge Podge.  I then painted torn piece of the paper on top of the wet sections with glue.  I definitely recommend tearing the paper and not cutting it.  It looks so much better, and lays better.

Ta-Da!  My pumpkin!  I painted the stem to match the green on my fireplace screen. I'll show you my entire mantle decor soon!

This is the other pumpkin.  I gave it to my mom.  This is how she displayed it.  Cute, huh?

     In doing this little project, I discovered something.  I love decoupaging!  I'm wondering what I could decoupage next?  Decoupaging is a great way to take something that has "good bones" and make it look new again! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chess House: A TOS Review

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     Do you know how many points a pawn is worth?  What is "castling?"  Do you know that bishops must always move at a diagonal?  Which piece in chess moves in an "L" shape?  I would have looked at you with a blank stare if you had asked me these questions a few weeks ago.  Now I know all those answers and much more thanks to Chess House.  Our family received the  Starter Chess Learning Kit  in hopes that the guys in the family would refresh what they already knew about chess, and hopefully learn even more.  For me, I was curious to find out the basics of the game since I knew absolutely nothing.

What's included in the Starter Chess Learning Kit:
Full Chess set with vinyl mat
  Storage bag

     When we first opened this product I was immediately impressed with the quality.  So many things are cheaply made these days...but not this!  The bag is well constructed, the chess pieces are made of a heavier plastic with green felt bottoms and the mat is nice and thick.  There are elastic straps inside the bag to hold in the rolled-up mat.  The mat unrolls nicely.  No worries about it curling up. There are 2 pockets inside the bag for the chess pieces, so they all stay well contained.  We traveled with our bag in/out of our van for almost 2 weeks.  I loved how well it traveled.  No concerns about smashing a cardboard box or bending the chess board.  Definitely a "grab and go" kind of game!

     A word about the DVD:  The DVD includes 10 short episodes.  (5-10 minutes each) They begin with the very basics, then each build upon the other.  My boys (and my husband) loved the DVD!  I thought the way it was done was very "cool" and up-to-date.  Elliot did a great job communicating.  It is not at all "childish," though he speaks clearly enough for a child to understand.  I really like the way he asks questions along the way to keep you involved.  He always reviews what you have learned at the end of each episode. My kids are already asking for the next level (Knight Level) for Christmas!
How we used the product: 
     Since my boys were pretty familiar with the game of chess, we watched the first five episodes all in a row*.  This was a great review for them.  They then played a game of chess.  After that, they watched 3 episodes, then played a game.  Lastly, they watched the last 2 episodes and played another game.  Now we are in the stage of just playing the game and re-watching parts of the DVD for clarification as needed.  This is very helpful.  The use of this product has definitely made my kids (and husband) want to play more chess.  Now, after dinner time the question is which kid gets to play dad first!   (*For a beginner, I would not recommend moving this quickly at all.  I would watch one episode at a time, then do one of the activities in the DVD booklet.  After getting the hang of  the concepts, then play an actual game.)  

The mat comes labeled, so this really makes it nice for beginners and coordinates with how Elliot teaches on the DVD.

So hard to decide which move to make!

Age range: The age range is ideally suited for around 6-12 years, but it is great for anyone older who has never played chess or has just beginner knowledge. 

Cost of product: The Starter Chess Learning Kit is $39.95

Similar products: Go HERE to check out all their chess sets.
Elliott's Chess School DVD #2 Knight Level


Friday, October 11, 2013

Fall Decor at My Mama's House

Last week we went to visit my parents for a "Fall Break" of sorts.  I just had to do a feature on all my mom's fall decor.  There was something in every room....but here are a few highlights.  Enjoy the tour!

A crow atop a tower of old crocks

One of my favorite pieces my mom has (maybe because I bought it for her...hehe!)  I'm still kicking myself for not buying one for myself the same day.    I purchased it at an end-of-season sale for around $7.  Now you know why I'm really kicking myself! 

My mom has a knack for using stuff she's had forever and using it in a new way.  I had not seen this light-up ceramic owl since my childhood.  I love how cute it looks!  And owls are BACK!

The butcher block in the kitchen is always decorated with the seasons.  I love how my dad made the rolling pin towel holder.  Underneath is a crock full of old rolling pins.

Duck decoys on wood slices

I love  the scarecrow nestled in with the quilt and old school book reader. 

At the backdoor: scarecrow, pumpkins on wood slices, old wooden crate decorative cabbage and mums

Don't you just love the cute little pilgrim boy carrying a pumpkin?