Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Monday, December 22, 2014

Baby Jesus Ornament #2

     Last year I shared with you a Baby Jesus ornament.  This year I had fun making a little bit of a different type with my 1st and 2nd graders in Sunday School.  I found the idea on Pinterest

     These were super easy to make.  I hot glued the craft sticks together to form a manger.  (I did this before the kids arrived.)  We put a brown paper backing behind the manger so we'd have something to stick the hay to (raffia).  The children cut the raffia themselves.  They glued on the raffia with regular glue.  Baby Jesus' face was cut from cream colored card stock using a quarter as a template.  The swaddling clothes were cut from some leftover white fleece I had.  Felt, burlap or wide ribbon would be other good options.  I hot glued a red chenille stem to the back so that it could be hung on the tree. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lottie Moon Tea Cookies

     December is the month when we (Southern Baptists) focus on The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.  Last Sunday, I decided to share about Lottie Moon with the children during the morning service as part of a Children's Sermon.  I went HERE to get the idea for the children's sermon.  I shared with the children about Lottie Moon and her love for the people of China.  At the conclusion, each child received a bag of Lottie Moon's Cookies.  (I found the recipe on Pinterest.  I added a bit of baking soda.)  You can see my Pinterest Missions board HERE.

These are some of the easiest cookies ever to make.  I thought about Lottie and how she must have baked non-stop to give cookies to all those children in China 100 years ago!

Lottie used something as simple as a plain cookie to find an open door to share the Gospel--what could we use today?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Isaiah 9:6 Christmas Ornaments (Sunday Morning with my 1st and 2nd Graders)

 This morning we were studying from the books of Isaiah and Micah the prophecies that foretold of the birth of Jesus.  How amazing that hundreds of years before Jesus was born the prophets wrote about Him as led by God!

The boys and girls were very excited when I told them we'd be making ornaments.  Each child chose one of the names of Jesus as given in Isaiah 9:6 and we put the name on their ornament.

Fun with glitter!

Monday, November 10, 2014

TOS Review: IXL: Math and Language Arts

Christmas Book Review

  Have you ever had those times during your homeschool day when you are not able to give your attention to "school" like you would like because of life happenings?  (If you're like me, this happens daily!)  For times like these, IXL Math and Language Arts can come to the rescue!  We have used IXL for the past year.  We have used both the math and language arts, but mainly the math program. 
      I have found the two best ways to learn a concept is through repetition and making a game out of it. IXL.com does both.  IXL is a computer program where your child(ren) can practice math or language arts skills.  Their motto is: "Practice that feels like play."
     My 8th grader and my 10th grader have used the program to fill in gaps and give practice towards their math and language arts skills.  Most recently, my son used it to review his Algebra 1 skills before moving on to Algebra 2.  It was a lot more fun than paper work! Since we used IXL mostly for math, that will be the main perspective from which I give this review.

How it works: 
     Like most online programs, the first matter of business is to establish a password and user name.  The parent does this along with creating a student profile.  You can even choose a fun icon that your child will like. 
     After the proper icon is clicked, a screen will appear with choices from kindergarten through Pre- Calculus.  Your child will click on the grade level s/he wants to practice on.  This will take them to another screen where all the skills are listed for that grade level.   The skills are grouped together accordingly.  (i.e. Percent skills are listed altogether.)  Your child can then click on the skill that they want to work on (or that you assign them).  When your child is choosing from this list, they will be able to see which skills they have mastered (There will be a gold ribbon beside the skill.) and what score they have so far.  This makes for easier selection.  
     Once a skill is selected, the practice begins!  The questions begin very simply, then get tougher as you move through. The questions are asked a variety of different ways to help insure mastery.  (For example: One problem may ask which numbers are prime, while another may ask which are not composite.) If your child gets an answer correct, the IXL program gives immediate feedback by saying on the screen, Fantastic!, Correct!, You Got it! or some other encouraging words. There are many other motivators, like watching your "smart score" getting closer and closer to the desired "100."  If  a question is missed, your score goes down several points, and you back up and have to answer several more "review" questions before moving ahead in your score.  Your student will also be given an explanation as to why they missed the problem.  Once you reach a score of "100" you will get a "well done" on the screen and a message that you have mastered the skill and that you have been awarded a gold medal.  You can then take a break, or continue practicing.  The whole process is very simple and straightforward. Not a lot of bells and whistles...just what's necessary. (But visually appealing!)

The Parent Connection:
     One of my favorite things about using IXL is the updates I get each week.  I get an email when my sons have completed 100 math problems.  I get a weekly email update letting me know the skills they are working on, their proficiency and how much time they has spent working on problems.
     The amount of time required for mom varies with each child and with each level.  For my teenage boys, very little is needed from me. I just usually assign that they master 3 categories.  Unless they get stuck or frustrated, they are able to work very independently with very little assistance from mom.  

Membership Costs:
Monthly: $9.95/one subject (Math or Language Arts) or $15.95/both subjects
Yearly:   $79/one subject or $129/both subjects

IXL Mobile APPS! 
Go HERE to find out more about IXL apps for iPad, Android and Kindle.


Click to read Crew Reviews

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Blog Post Find of the Day...."How to Get More Out of the Preached Word of God"

     About a year or so ago, I had the title written for a blog post: "4 Ways to Hear a Better Sermon Every Sunday."  I never finished it.  I guess I worried about sounding too "preachy" as the pastor's wife.  Today I read this great blog post, "How to Get More Out of the Preached Word of God" by Shane Garrison. He said all that I wanted to say, plus a little more...and way more eloquently.  (Though I would add, "Pray for your Pastor.") Check it out....and see if you get more out of this Sunday's sermon this week! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Promoting VBS at Trunk-A-Treat

     Last year during a VBS clinic for Agency D3, I learned of a great idea about using Trunk-a-Treat as a creative way to promote your church's VBS.  (Last year's spy theme would have made a great trunk!)  The idea is simply to decorate your trunk in the theme of the upcoming VBS theme your church will participate in the upcoming summer.  Hand out "Save the Date" cards for your church's VBS. This year, I decided to try it! 

     Lifeway's VBS theme for this year is Journey Off the Map.  (Think Swiss Family Robinson.) There were no posters to be found, so I made my own with a transparency and overhead projector.  I covered my back seat with burlap, added tree branches and a walking stick.  Hanging from the van are fireflies.  We tried putting glow sticks inside, but it didn't show up too well.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  My dad had made a really cool shellacked stump, so that is what the candy is sitting on.  We handed out invitations for our VBS coming this summer.  

Once made, they can be saved each year and then a new glow stick can be added inside. The kids love flying these around the yard at night!  Could be a fun camping craft 

As a bonus....now I've got props ready for the VBS clinics I'll be teaching this winter/spring as well as for my VBS classroom!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

TOS Review: New Liberty Videos (Warriors of Honor)

New Liberty Videos Review
           When you hear the names "Robert E. Lee" and "Stonewall Jackson," what first comes to mind?  It will likely be something different once you and your family view the Warriors of Honor DVD by New Liberty Videos.  The Warriors of Honor DVD is a documentary covering the lives of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, highlighting their deep Christian faith lived out during the Civil War.  The film is 80 minutes long. (There are also 3 bonus segments on varying topics. The total time of the bonus topics is 21 minutes.) It covers background for both men. It shares about their family life: their wives and their children. It covers many of the battles of the war, a few of which were new to me.  It shares about their relationship with their soldiers.  Lee's life post-war is told about. Their deaths are also covered by the video.
     The film includes both pictures, reenactments and historians talking.  There is such variety, the documentary never feels stale.  The film was set up so that both Lee and Jackson were woven throughout.  It did not feel choppy.  
     My favorite parts were those that told of specific times and places. It was wonderful to hear of the heroism and humility of Lee and Jackson. The character of these men was truly incredible.  A secondary theme of this film was that of redeeming the reputation of the South.  Even though slavery was indeed an evil practice, it shared many positives of the Confederacy. 
 How we used the film..  
     We watched the documentary together one evening as a family.  I didn't want to do it during "school time," since I knew my history-loving husband wouldn't want to miss out. We watched all 80 minutes straight through because no one wanted to stop watching. (Well, we did pause it a few times for discussion and comments.)   My oldest son took American History last year, so throughout the movie it was good to hear him say, "Oh, yeah!  I remember studying that!"
  New Liberty Videos Review
Cost of Product:
Age Range:
General Audience
This is a film that includes many references (obviously) to the Civil War.  Therefore, there are war images: fighting, dead bodies, cannon fire, etc.
More New Liberty Videos: 
 Anthem for a Nation
The Forbidden Book 
Mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls 
A Nation Adrift 
Teaching Origins Objectively 
Quotes from my sons: 
 "I thought the movie was great because it was willing to put away the idea that the South was entirely bad, and show us an example of two great Christian men."
-- age 16 
"I'm glad that this movie was able to show me the devotion to God that these two generals had, in which no secular book would have showed me."
--age 13
Click to read Crew Reviews

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A TOS Review: Fortuigence~~Essay Rockstar

Fortuigence Review

     Over the years I have come to believe one of the most important parts of a child's education is knowing how to write wellFortuigence may help your child on the way to becoming a rockstar--an essay writing rockstar that is! Our family received Essay Rockstar Expository Essay Writing to use in our homeschool.  My 8th grader used it for several weeks until he had completed the entire short course.
     The methods used were fairly familiar to us, but getting to "turn in" my son's work to another teacher was completely different for us!  It was a neat experience.  I was glad to let someone else to the grading/editing for a while--and I think it gave my son confidence to hear feedback from someone besides "mom."
     The writing instruction involved 5 basic steps: brainstorming, organization, free writing, revision and editing.  These were arranged into several lessons.  For each lesson we visited the Fortuigence website, entered our password and clicked on "classroom."  (Always an easy process!)  For each lesson, my son watched a short video with the teacher.  He then listened to the teacher as she gave further audio instructions.  He was able to read along with her on the screen as she read.  Several links and pdf's were available for further instruction and help.  My son then completed the assignment.  It was typed and sent to the teacher via the website.
     We would then wait a day or two and then my son would receive an email back from Mrs. Iatridis (or "Mrs. I").  She would then instruct what the next step would be.  The "classroom" was automatically updated each time an assignment was completed.  (A gray check indicated an assignment being graded/turned in. A red check meant it was all done.)  Everything was done very linearly and was very self-explanatory.  Each level is mastered before moving on.

The Teacher:  
 Lily Iatridis taught in the traditional classroom for 10+ years.  She holds a master's degrees in:  secondary education and liberal studies.  She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree.  She now does her online teaching full time.  Fortuigence works mostly with homeschooling families.

Age Range:  12-18 years old

Cost: $57

 Similar Products: 

  • A great choice for many types of learners: audio learners, visual learners, etc.
  • The clearly mapped out format was a huge benefit.  My son was able to easily proceed to the next step without confusion.  Very little (if any) help was needed from "mom."
  • There is no strict due date for assignments.  I love this.  Life happens. 
  • Quick feedback.  Very impressed with this!

(Possible) Cons: 
  • I had trouble getting the website to upload a word document.  All it took was an email to Fortuigence and it was handled immediately.  Mrs. I even wrote me a personal email explaining how to make it work in the future.  I was very impressed with this and I never had any more problems uploading anything.
  • We did not receive a lot of "corrections" on my son's work--not until the final editing process.  I was hoping to get a bit more instruction, but in the end it turned out great.


Click to read Crew Reviews

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Eat-in Kitchen Re-do

      I haven't shared in a while the updates we have made to our new-to-us home.  Today I want to share my almost completed eat-in kitchen.  There were a few details I wanted to finish before sharing...a few got finished, a few have not.  I thought I'd share anyway!

This is the BEFORE picture.  Two things I loved about this room when we first looked at our house: the great wood floors and the cute retro (truly retro) chandelier. 

About one hour after signing the papers...I set to work! 

Already feels better!

See?  Chandeliers are making a comeback....I just happen to have one from the 60's that's hip again! 

AFTER picture...I added gray beige paint to the top and white to all the trim and lower half.  Painting the windows was a bear...but love how it feels in the room now!  My theme for the room is French Country Bistro/Coffee/Bakery shop.  That will hopefully all jive together when the entire kitchen is done.
One of my projects for the room was to get this chair painted.  It has been in the family for years.  It belonged to my Mammaw.  This chair makes a perfect stepping stool for me around the kitchen. 

How about some delicious coffee colored paint?  I got if FREE with a coupon!

Voila!  (Notice the unpainted cabinet nearby...yuck.  Gonna paint those white!)

I recently added some fall decor. (I love having woods near our home!)  No, our new home is not crooked.  Just my picture-taking ability!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Homeschool Highlights~~Year 9, week 5

     We are well into our homeschool year...here are just a few of the things we did this week:

Physical Science
This is our science for the year.

How exciting!  Smoking wires!  We hooked up the copper wires to a 9 volt battery and placed them in baking soda water.  We watched it for about 10 minutes. 

This is what it looked like afterward.  The wire connected to the + terminal is green.  Look like any green you've seen before?  How about the Statue Liberty?  The reaction created copper hydroxycarbonate.  (BIG thanks to Home Depot for donating the wire!)

Putting results in the lab notebook.

Another experiment involving measuring in cubits. 

My 8th grader is using this for his history this year:
 Purchase Uncle Sam and You

This is a portrait of Thomas Jefferson he drew this week.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A TOS Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing~~~Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood, Book 2

Fix It! Grammar Review
     The Institute for Excellence in Writing has a new program out call Fix It! Grammar. Our family received  Fix it! Grammar: Robin Hood, Teacher Manual Book 2. and Fix it! Grammar: Robin Hood Student Book, Book 2. My son and I were so excited that book 2 was "on his level" because he just loves the story of Robin Hood! 
How it works: 
     This program is like no grammar curriculum I have ever seen.  It is unique in that all the sentences in the daily lessons build and build until you have the story of Robin Hood at the end of the year.
     There are 33 weeks worth of material, with 4 days in each week.  Day 1 is the most teacher/mom intensive, since you are introducing new concepts.  Each concept has a corresponding card which the student cuts out.  (They are found at the back of the student book.) Each card is labeled in the upper right hand corner on the back as to which week it is introduced in.  We found this very helpful as we were gathering our new cards on all the "day 1's."  A further explanation and tips are found on the back of the card also.  I had a wooden file card holder that works perfectly for what my son needed.  He keeps only the cards that have been introduced in this file box.  We add to the box each week.  Several cards are added weekly. 


     After the new concepts are taught, one sentence from the story of Robin Hood  is corrected and marked each day in the student book.  (Yes--just one sentence per day.)  Skills learned in week 2 are transferred on to week 3 and so on.  The student will take the incorrect and unmarked sentence and fix things like: indenting, capitalization, commas, correct usage, etc.  They will also mark parts of speech.  A vocabulary word is marked each day in bold print.  The student is to look that up each day and write down a definition for how it is used in the book.  We have been keeping a vocabulary notebook for years, so this worked easily for us.  We just added to our notebook.
     When the student has marked the sentence, the parent would then use the Teacher's Manual to check the work and use the information given for each day's assignment to answer any questions or give clarification. 
  Fix It! Grammar Review
      Once the sentence has been checked, it's time for your child to add the sentence to the ever-growing story of Robin Hood.  You may choose wait and have your child write all 4 sentences as the assignment for day 5.  We always did it on the day in which the sentence was corrected.  Some days we did two sentences if we were making up from the day before. (This curriculum could also be used a quicker pace for students who are ready to move on to the next level.)

 What we thought about Fix it! Grammar:
  • I found the Teacher's Manual to be most helpful.  It explains every mark that there might be a question about. There is a page for each day's assignment.  I love how everything is explained simply and clearly.  I have never been confused.  It even gives "extra" information for all those grammar lovers out there!
  • This curriculum is easy to add in to other things you are doing as part of your English curriculum.  It's just the right amount of grammar so that your child still has time for writing and other great literature.
  • My son loves it! He is thrilled to only have one sentence per day and to be reading the story of Robin Hood again.
  • I think this is the best way to learn grammar.  Sentences in a context (and even better--great literature!) instead of isolated sentences.  This style of teaching grammar reinforces great writing.
Cost of Product: 
Student book: $15
Teacher's Manual: $19
Age Range:
3rd Grade and up
(Take a placement test to find out what level your child is on.)
Similar Products:
Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Book 1)
Fix It! Grammar: The Frog Prince or Just Deserts (Book 3)
Fix It! Grammar: The Little Mermaid (Book 4)
Fix It Grammar: Chanticleer (Book 5)
Fix It! Grammar: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Book 6) 
Click to read Crew Reviews