Giveaway: Dippy Cups & {Link Party}

Dippy Cup Giveaway

 

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Have you heard of Dippy Cups? They’re so fun! I won a set on someone’s blog recently and thought my readers would enjoy them too! So, Dippy Cups have offered to give away a set here, too!

Dippy Cups are small, silicone, bear-shaped bowls for kids to use for dipping sauces. They’re great for ketchup, BBQ sauce, syrup, ranch dressing, etc! We all know toddlers (and all kids, really) love to dip!

The Dippy Cups come in 6 colors and are dishwasher safe. Check out the website at http://DippyCups.com.

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Enter to win a set of Dippy Cups through the Rafflecopter app below. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

Dippy Cups buy-today

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It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Review “Curiosity Quest” DVDs

Curiosity Quest Review
I have a fun product to review today:  6 DVDs from Curiosity Quest!  I had never heard of this company before and am glad to know about them now.  We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes out for videos they produce that have subjects that fit in with things we’re studying because they are so well-done.

Curiosity Quest ReviewSpecifically, we watched the DVD Combo Pack – Produce  (Mushrooms, Cranberries, and Orange Packing)

and

Curiosity Quest Reviewthe DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea  (Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, and Salmon)

 

 

 

Curiosity Quest Review

The first DVD was a very interesting subject–how food is grown.

We learned how mushrooms are grown in the first episode called Mushrooms.  Joel takes us to the Monterey Mushrooms facility.  I never knew growing mushrooms was so fascinating!  This episode was really fun.  We saw how hay is turned into compost.  Then the compost is pasteurized and the mushroom spawn is put into it.  Then they are taken to another room where the mushrooms begin growing.  We see the pickers picking them–and they are fast.  Finally, we travel to another facility where they are packed for shipment.

Curiosity Quest Review

The second episode was about Orange Packing.  I really expected this to be the most boring, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had no idea what an orange goes through before it reaches the grocery store. We see the huge wind machines that blow warmer air down onto the trees to keep the oranges from freezing if a frost is coming. We see the oranges in a room that has ethylene gas to help them ripen quicker. (This is the natural gas that fruit exudes.). And we see them travel through all kinds of different stations on conveyer belts. The most interesting spot was where they used black light to identify slightly damaged fruit!

Curiosity Quest Review

Cranberries were the subject of the third episode.  Curiosity Quest goes to a cranberry bog in Wisconsin to learn about harvesting cranberries.  Now, this is actually something we have done before.  We love to go up to Wisconsin in the fall when they are harvesting cranberries.  We’ve had the pleasure to walk around the bogs and watch the men in the water harvesting and see how they are transported back to the building to be sorted and packed!  In this episode Joel goes to 2 different bog sites.  The first produces fresh cranberries, so they have to sort them more.  The second turns its cranberries into juice and Craisins (sweetened dried cranberries).

 

Curiosity Quest Review
The second set of discs were about some sea animals–always a favorite in our house.  In “Sea Turtle Rescue” we travel to the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys to learn about how this wonderful facility is working to save sea turtles.  All sea turtles (there are 9 species) are endangered.  This Turtle Hospital works to help hurt turtles get better, saves turtle eggs and helps them to hatch, and keeps some sea turtles permanently who won’t be able to make it back in the ocean.  Any time they can, though, they will release the turtles back into the ocean.  Joel gets to help feed the turtles and learns about several different species.  We also find out that he is not allowed to touch them since they are endangered!

Curiosity Quest Review

Next we watched the “Penguins” episode.  Curiosity Quest takes us to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to meet some magellanic penguins.  He helps to prepare their food and then goes into the penguin habitat to feed them.  He finds out that they are a little wary of him and don’t warm up to him as much as he’d like.  We learn why don’t penguins fly and what the zookeepers do at the aquarium to help keep the penguins healthy.

Curiosity Quest Review

The final DVD was called “Salmon.”  Now, we have traveled all the way to Juneau, Alaska to learn about the amazing life cycle of the salmon.  There are 5 species of salmon in Alaska, including sockeye, king, and pink.  In order to have LOTS of salmon to support the fishing industry, there are fish hatcheries.  We see one where the fish eggs hatch and the baby salmon are taken care of for a while.  Then they are moved to a particular stream where they stay in nets for a while so they can get the “scent” of the stream.  Why?  Because in 3-5 years they will travel back to that exact spot to spawn.  We see the fish returning, and they have grown quite large.  It’s amazing that they actually know where to go!  They were born in the fresh water fish hatchery and then swam out into the ocean, maybe as far away as Russia.  Then they are returning.  It’s difficult for them to swim upstream, against the current.  And once they reach their stream they will spawn (reproduce), and then die.  We don’t see them dying, though.  :)

I really enjoyed watching both of the DVD sets.  Joel has a fun way of connecting with the kids who are watching.  Every once in a while there is a “fun fact” that is shared or interviews with people he meets on the street, which are often humorous.  The people who were the experts in the videos were friendly and knowledgeable.  I really felt like my kids learned a lot from watching the shows.  The only thing I didn’t like were references to evolution in the sea turtle and mushroom episodes.  (I expected it in the penguin one, too, but it wasn’t there.)  And it was occasionally frustrating to know that the episode is only catching “one day” of the activities of the place visited.  For example, we didn’t get to see the cranberries growing in the spring or the bogs being flooded, we didn’t get to see the baby salmon in the nets in the streams or being fished for out in the ocean, and we didn’t get to see the healed sea turtles being returned to the ocean.  Seeing those would have made the Curiosity Quest DVDs even better.

Overall I recommend the Curiosity Quest DVDs to anyone with kids!  They will love them!

 

The DVDs from Curiosity Quest are geared towards children ages 7-14, but my preschoolers enjoyed watching them as well. The cost for the combo packs is $24.95.  You get 3 30-minute episodes on one disc.

Be sure to check out Curiosity Quest here:

Store:  http://CuriosityQuestStore.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CuriosityQuest

Twitter: https://twitter.com/curiosityquest

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCijkbeDwySOsg-pZjOeWsgg

 

 

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Day 3: Homeschooling Middle School by Preparing for High School with The HomeScholar

Homeschool Transcripts

Today is the third post in my series about homeschooling middle school.  I’ll be sharing about Thinking Ahead to High School While They are still in Middle School by using materials from The HomeScholar.

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a webinar by Lee Binz from The HomeScholar called “A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts.”  And, wow, I learned a TON!

Go here to see the webinar yourself–for FREE.

In the meantime, I’ll share a few of the things that stuck out to me the most that I’m glad to know while my kids are still in middle school.

1. All high school work should be college prep, whether or not they are planning to go to college. If they do go to college directly after high school (or change their mind and go years later), they will need to show they have taken college prep classes on their transcript. Or, if they don’t go to college, they need to have the highest level of schooling possible for their final formal class time.

2. Students can receive high school credit during middle school if they are doing a high school level (or college level) course. How do you know? The publisher (or teacher at a co-op) will tell you! Common classes taken by middle schoolers include Algebra 1, Biology, and Foreign Language.

The  “A Homeschool Parent’s Guide to High School Grades, Credits and Transcripts.”webinar also gives details for how to determine whether a class should be a full or half credit, what to include on a transcript, how to assign grades, and what to do if your child is in a remedial level.

Thanks for joining me this week on our Middle School journey!

Homeschool Records

 

April Blog Hop

Other wonderful bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in the Blog Hop this week, so be sure to check them out!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Our Favorite Family Recipes
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~  Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs

 

(This post contains affiliate links.)

From House to Home {Link Party} with 2 Giveaways

I have 2 giveaways this week for you to enter:
A $25 Shopping spree to Grapevine Studies Bible Studies
And
A Student Planner from Well-Planned Day!

See the links in the first two link-ups below!

 

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Day 2: Homeschooling Middle School With Well Planned Day Student Planner (& GIVEAWAY!)

Homeschooling Middle School final

 

Well Planned Day Student Planner Giveaway

Welcome to Day 2 of Homeschooling Middle School.  (There is a giveaway of the Well-Planned Day Student Planner–so read on!)  One thing that I’ve done that has been extremely successful is to begin transitioning my kids around 4th or 5th grade to be taking more responsibility in their own schooling.  I want them to begin making decisions about what they are learning (which foreign language?) and even to choose their own curriculum if we have a choice between 2 or 3 good ones.  I have found they are often more motivated when they feel they have had a “buy-in” to what they have to do for school.

Another great thing that we’ve done to build their independence in homeschooling is to use some type of student planner.  Sometimes I use a simple Word document chart that lists each subject they are to do each day.  Or we have also used these wonderful Student Planners from Well-Planned Day!  On Monday of each week my 3 oldest kids write down the page numbers, chapters, books to read, etc. that they are planning to do for the subject on each day of that week.  Then they check off each box when they complete it.

This method serves 3 purposes:

1.  They know what they are supposed to do

2.  I know what they are supposed to do and what I need to check

3.  It’s a record of all they have learned for the year

 

I know that my kids are learning some valuable skills by not having Mom make all the decisions about lesson planning for them.  They can choose to go faster through a subject if they want.  They can drop a subject for a while (with my approval) to pursue another subject.  For example, my oldest has been studying Philosophy for the past month and it includes a Bible Study that he has been doing instead of the one he was doing before.  Also, my second son is about to start studying a Home Business course.  This might take the place of some of his math for a while.

So, in conclusion, I recommend transitioning your Middle Schoolers to more independence.  Help them make their own decisions and use a planner so they can be responsible for their work!

The Well-Planned Day Student Planner comes in two styles: Floral and Tech.

Here are some of the features:

  • Help your children learn to work independently!
  • Designed specifically for students in elementary and middle school years.
  • Two design options and features full color pages
  • Spiral bound pages with perforated corner tabs for easy reference.
  • Over 175 pages
  • 9″x6″ size planner
  • July – June monthly and daily layouts
  • Monthly special projects and notes
  • Weekly Bible verse with corresponding catechism (Westminster Shorter)

The student planners also have an extensive reference section on English, Writing, Mathematics, US Geography, World Geography, States and Capitols, US Wars, US Presidents, Solar System, and Space . Perfect for any student attending school or homeschooling!

Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 014 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 013 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 012 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 011

Click here to “Peek Inside” the Planner!

 

Please enter on the Rafflecopter below to win a 2014-15 Student Planner from Well-Planned Day!  Your choice of style.  U.S. only, please.  The winner will be chosen on April 16, 2014 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

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As a busy homeschool mom, you might want to check out the other planner from Well-Planned Day as well!

April Blog Hop

Other wonderful bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in the Blog Hop this week, so be sure to head over to their blogs, too!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Our Favorite Family Recipes
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~  Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs

 

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.)

Day 1: Homeschooling Middle School with Grapevine Bible Studies (GIVEAWAY!)

>Homeschooling Middle School final

Depending on how you look at it I am now homeschooling either one or two kids in middle school:  6th and 7th grade.  I have just started this journey, but have learned a few things I’d like to share this week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Tuesday:  Grapevine Studies Bible Studies for middle schoolers–With a GIVEAWAY of a $25 Shopping Spree!

Wednesday:  Teaching middle schoolers independence by using planners such as those from Well-Planned Day– With a GIVEAWAY of a Student Planner!

Thursday:  Looking ahead to High School–planning now while they are in middle school — With a Special Offer of a Free Webinar!

For Day 1 of our Middle School series I’d love to share about the Bible Study my boys have been using this year from Grapevine Studies.

Specifically it’s the Level 4 New Testament Survey.  I wanted my boys to get an overview of the whole New Testament as they studied the Bible this year.  Each week they read a portion of Scripture, take notes on it by drawing Stick Figures and other graphics to help them illustrate what happened, answer review questions, and study deeper by using specific resources such as a Bible Dictionary (Vine’s), a Concordance, and a Topical Bible (Nave’s).  It’s been different from other Bible studies they have done in that they are doing a lot of the study on their own.  It’s more open-ended rather than being completely laid out for them.  I really like this aspect since it is stretching them more.  And I know they really enjoy the stick-figuring aspect!

Here are a copy of pages the boys did:  (Sorry they’re side-ways!)

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Make sure you include studying the Bible as part of your Middle Schooler’s learning!

Be sure go to the Grapevine Studies website to look at their free samples.  They have Bible studies for all ages for use in all different settings!  You’ll find what you’re looking for!  (My elementary kids absolutely love the traceable Bible studies–we’re doing an Old Testament survey with them this year.)

Grapevine Studies has offered to giveaway a $25 Shopping Spree!  Please enter through the Rafflecopter app below!  Winner will be chosen on April 15 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

April Blog Hop

Other wonderful bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew are participating in the Blog Hop this week, so be sure to check them out!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Our Favorite Family Recipes
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~  Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs

 

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.)

Homeschooling With Toddlers: Tips and Resources

 

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On Monday night I have the wonderful opportunity to do a presentation of “Homeschooling With Toddlers” at a local library’s homeschool support group.  I am happy to share my notes here in the hope that it will help others and to give links to much more information than I was able to present there.

[By the way, for the next three days, I'll be participating in a Blog Hop with the Schoolhouse Review Crew where I'll be sharing information about Homeschooling Middle School!]

Homeschooling with toddlers is not easy!  It’s frustrating and tiring to continually have interruptions and chaos and noise while you’re trying to homeschool.  But, it’s a good life, and it can work and work well.  Here are some of my best ideas and resources that have helped me homeschool these last 13 years–and I’ve never homeschooled without toddlers!

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for usLet us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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Practical Tips:

1. Don’t overdo it (just a few outside activities).  It was years before I felt able to join a co-op.

2. Have a daily Quiet Time with the Lord before the children wake up (or while you’re nursing, or read the Bible aloud, etc.).  It helps with sanity.  :)  And I love the Unglued Devotional. 

3. Lower your expectations.  The house is going to be messy.  You probably won’t get to everything you’d like to each day.

4. Simplify house tasks (think once-write it down (Kym Wright), grocery shop only once a week, use FlyLady.net or MotivatedMoms.com)

5.  Consistent discipline system.  Start early.  Have appropriate rules and consequences.

6.  Don’t let toddlers get tired or hungry.  Have regular naptimes, bedtimes, and mealtimes.

See our life in action here:   A Day in Our Life 3/7/2008   A Day in Our Life 8/8/2006

Discipline Focus on your relationship first—not just “behavior modification” to get the child to do what you want. For disciplining children, look at Doorposts.net products such as For Instruction in Righteousness, Brother Offended Chart, If-Then Chart, and Blessing Chart.

Teach them about God: I love using Leading Little Ones to God and The Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as the Bible.

Memorize Scripture with them:  With my Preschoolers we memorized a shortened verse from each book of the Old Testament.

Kinderbach, Precious Moments, Veggie Tales 030

Naptime Reading Routine: Use picture books to teach about animals, colors, letters, numbers, sounds, etc. Some of my favorites are Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown), Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear (ill. Michael Hague), Inside Outside Upside Down (Stan and Jan Berenstain), I Love You As Much. . .  (Laura Krauss Melmed), The Veggiecational Book (Phil Vischer), In the Ocean (Maurice Pledger), Good Night, Sweet Butterflies (Dawn Bentley), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault), Blue Hat, Green Hat (Sandra Boynton), Dr. Seuss’s ABC Book (Dr. Seuss), My ABC of God Loves Me (Fiona Boon) More picture books I love. LetteroftheWeek.com book list,
 Before Five in a Row booklist.

“Ten things to do before age 10”  from the Bluedorns TriviumPursuit.com– great guideline to follow when planning your homeschool year.

Best Toys to Have:  Trains, Zoobs, Dollhouse, Duplos, Kitchen, Gears, Dress-up.  Have these is separate boxes that you only take out during school time.

Table-time Activities: Play foam, puzzles, Wiki Sticks, Playdough

Hands-On Activities:  For Science (Janice VanCleave), Arts and Crafts (The Little Hands Art Book by Judy Press), Sensory Boxes, Cooking

Join a co-op group: To Make Preschool Activities in a Bag or Quiet Book pages Puzzle organizing tip: Label the backs of each piece and its corresponding box with a specific letter or number.

Nature Study: Nature Walks (park, forest preserve). Find different colors, shapes, textures, animals, etc.

Musical Environment

1.  Expose kids to a musical environment at an early age to help them be musical later on.

2.  Provide variety in rhythms, harmonies, instrumentation, and style.

3.  Provide your children with examples of beautiful, excellent, on-pitch singing which will help them sing beautifully and on pitch themselves one day!

4.  It’s important to help children increase readiness for audiation, the ability to hear the music and beat in one’s mind when there is no music being played.

5.  We want our young children to form as many neural pathways and connections as possible in their rapidly growing brains.  This is one reason why musical children typically do better at learning in many other areas of life.

Ways to “Teach” Music Sing, Listen to Classical Music, Dance, Play Simple Rhythm Instruments, and Play Singing Games

Sing Great Christian Songs: Amazing Grace, This Little Light of Mine, Victory in Jesus, Oh How He Loves You and Me, I’ll Fly Away, How Great Thou Art, Because He Lives, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, You Are My Hiding Place, This is My Father’s World, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, Be Thou My Vision, Jesus Loves Me, God is So Good, How Great Thou Art, Oh, How I Love Jesus, Holy, Holy, Holy and Trust and Obey.

Getting out of the house Find educational FREE things to do: Check your library, Free museum dates (Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum)

Chicagoland Field Trip Collage

Field Trips we’ve enjoyed: Kohl Children’s Museum, Botanic Gardens, Milwaukee Zoo, Lake County Discovery Museum, fire station, police station

Use Audio Teaching:  Adventure Bible Storybook on CD, Books on CD from the library, many older stories are free online (Beatrix Potter), podcasts, ClassicsforKids.com for music and composer stories

Videos for Toddlers: ABC Say it With Me Bible Memory Verses, Signing Time, Hermie and Friends, Leap Frog videos (Letter Factory), Friends and Heroes

No TV    Turn of the TV!  Only have it on in the late afternoon or evening.  Only 30 minutes a day of an educational video.  Movies only on weekend nights.

Toddler Ideas Websites: PreschoolersandPeace.com, Pinterest, TriviumPursuit.com (the article “Ten Things to do Before Age 10), 1+1+1=1, Homeschoolshare and Homeschoolhelperonline

Books Mom should read: For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer MacCauley,  A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, A Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola, Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Maxwell (also Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores)

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Don’t Expect “Easy” Proverbs 31:27-28  She watches over the affairs of her houshold and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Colossians 3:23-24  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

It Ends Too Soon Song for a Fifth Child poem (Babies Don’t Keep) by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Ways to Homeschool Older Kids When You Have Toddlers

1. Do “Circle Time” to keep the family together. (Idea from Kendra at PreschoolersandPeace.com)  After you put the baby down for a morning nap or afternoon nap, get all the kids together for group teaching.

Ideas for Circle Time–choose some of these each day:

Bible reading Scripture memorization and other memorization

Read History (Mystery of History or Story of the World)

Read Science (Apologia Exploring Creation elementary series)

Sing/ hymn study Poetry reading (one poem/day)

Practice for our public speaking class (they memorize a speech, story, or poem to recite every 2 weeks)

Worldview (Who Am I? and others from Apologia)

Biography/ Novel

2. Unit Studies:  Pick a subject and work on it with the whole family for a whole month. Read library books; work on lapbooks/notebooks; science experiments; history projects; music and art projects.  Suggestions of topics: Art Appreciation, Oceans, Desert animals, Rainforest, Great Britain, Healthy Eating, Bees

3. Use less teacher-intensive curricula for some subjects: Math-U-See has the math taught on DVD. Teaching Textbooks has the math taught and lessons entered and checked on computer. Online Classes

4. Keep those Toddler Naptimes! Do the hardest work (most teacher-intensive) during naptime or teach the preschoolers to read or play quietly in their rooms.  Use audio learning.

5. Teach older kids to be independent as soon as they can: Write the next lessons on their assignment sheet or planner. Check their answers in the teacher book. Make decisions on which curriculum they’d like to use.

6. Utilize Charts/Assignment Sheets Use Homeschooling Assignment Sheets and Chore Charts.  Or a check-off list of what you did each day.

7. Have a Child-Safe Home Make your home as child-safe as possible so you don’t have to watch them every moment.  Try to have a playroom or basement that they can go play in while you work with older kids.  Have a fenced in backyard.

8. Save “Formal” Math for 3rd or 4th grade. In the earlier years, just let them learn math through real life—in the kitchen, cooking, games.  This idea is spoken in detail at triviumpursuit.com.

9. Hire Help someone to come over to help watch the little one(s) while you work with the older kids.  Junior High or High School girl.  Or pay a college student?  I did this for one year, and had a young lady come over from 9-12 every day to to help teach my preschoolers so I could focus those hours on my older children.

10. Utilize Audio Learning:  Books on CD (Little House on the Prairie and Chronicles of Narnia), Jonathan Park, Your Story Hour, Brinkman Adventures, Jim Hodges, Jim Weiss.   Many of these can be found in the library.

Conclusion

Pray Without Ceasing.  Pray for Wisdom.

Expect Interruptions from your toddlers.

Lower Your Expectations on things that don’t matter as much (perfectly clean or decorated house, gourmet meals)

Choose to be Grateful and Choose to be Joyful!

 

Press On

Philippians 3:13-15 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

 

(This post may contain affiliate links and is linked up these wonderful blogs!)

“Frozen” characters in clay & {Link Party}

We got the movie “Frozen” for my daughter’s 9th birthday, and I think the kids have watched it 10 times already! Three of my four kids used “Frozen” songs for their auditions for “Robin Hood.” (I think 1/4 of all auditioners sang songs from “Frozen” this time!) And the latest. . . these cute clay figures!  I think we might have to come up with some more “Frozen” crafts.  Can you tell who is who?

(By the way–I have some great books for kids and teens for a giveaway this week. Be sure to enter!)

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It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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Follow on Bloglovin

See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

Learned By Me Online Spanish Classes–Try a class for FREE

LBM I Choose Joy graphic

I have a really unique educational opportunity to share with you today.  It’s a company called Learned By Me and they offer online Spanish classes.  You can get one free class with the Promo Code “IChooseJoy“!
Learned By Me is a funded online language tutoring startup that connects top professors and language immersion school teachers from the developing world with students in the U.S. for just $15/lesson!

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  • All classes are done online, giving students the flexibility to choose when/where they want to take classes
  • All tutors are carefully vetted for experience teaching all levels and ages; they’re also extensively tested to make sure they have outstanding internet connections
  • Students can take classes as (in)frequently as they like, but it is recommended at least twice a week to be consistently progressing without spending as much time reviewing
  • Lessons are customized to the student’s interests and objectives- that means that classes can focus on writing and grammar, or oral communication, or vocabulary that’s particularly useful in preparation for a trip, etc. All of Learned By Me’s tutors have materials to use with students, and they’re also happy to review worksheets from class (particularly useful for students struggling with Spanish classes at school who need to work on specific grammar/vocabulary elements).
  • Learned By Me’s ultimate goal is to make learning better- more fun, more effective, more engaging, and less expensive. They pride themselves on our accessible prices ($15/class) and personal customer service.

It’s different because it’s specific to your needs, not just a computer program or textbook.  You’ll have your own online teacher, which means you can really learn!  And it’s affordable.  How many personal tutors do you know who only charge $15 for a 45-minute class?

 

How does it work?
1) Select a lesson time

2) See a list of tutors available

3) Learn about the tutor

4) Enjoy 1:1 video tutoring on Skype

Try out your first class now (for FREE–Promo Code IChooseJoy) and let me know what you think about it!

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Who are the Learned By Me tutors?

The native speaking tutors teach at prestigious Spanish language schools, highly ranked South American Universities, and U.S. Peace Corps training centers. They hold advanced degrees from major South American universities and are recognized for their engaging and effective Spanish teaching techniques. Hours are spent vetting and training every tutor, and making sure that their online teaching abilities and internet connections are top notch.

I love that Learned By Me has created more jobs for highly skilled teachers in poor countries!

Get your FREE first lesson (Promo Code IChooseJoy) or learn more about the company here!

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

Get a Freebie: Philippians in 28 Weeks Memory Cards

 

I’d like to recommend a wonderful free resource for you today.  This is for all ages and all people!  If you’d like to grow in your faith, read the book of Philippians and memorize it!  You can download a free set of Philippians in 28 Weeks Memory Cards here.

This is a $9.95 value. To receive this FREEBIE, your readers will need to complete check-out on the website using the promo code: P28-FREEBIE. The promo code is effective immediately and will expire on April 30, 2014.
And check out the samples of the full Bible Study Philippians in 28 Weeks while you’re there!

 

(This post contains affiliate links.)

 

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15% off Sale at Little Passports



Here’s an original idea for an Easter gift!  Help your kids learn about the world through Little Passports!

Sale: 15% Off New Subscriptions through 4/8
Dates: Now – 4/8
Promo Code: HAPPY5

Don’t forget about the Little Passports 15% Off Sale!

Little Passports World Edition

Did you know that Little Passports was co-founded by two moms who believe in raising our children to be compassionate and knowledgeable on world cultures and people? Pretty sweet business philosophy! Each month, the imaginary characters of Little Passports, named Sam and Sofia, travel the globe on their magic scooter and share their experiences with your child. This birthday sale, which allows you to take 15% off your total subscription package, will give your child a personalized package in the mail that includes an adventure letter, fun souvenirs, activities and access to their online Boarding Zone full of activities and games.  Click on the link or banner below to sign up for your subscription today and get 15% off by using the code: HAPPY5 from today through Tuesday, 4/8.

 

15% Off New Subscriptions at Little Passports Now – 4/8 with code: HAPPY5
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

New Sponsor: Homejoy- House Cleaning Atlanta

AMB BADGE

 

I have a new sponsor today:  Homejoy Atlanta which does house-cleaning in the Atlanta area.  If you live around there, be sure to check them out!

Thanks to Homejoy for supporting I Choose Joy!

Happy First Birthday to Educents!

 

One of my favorite deal sites is Educents!  And they are now 1 year old!  This past year we have used them to purchase curriculum and a globe.  They keep getting more and more great educational products at their site!

To celebrate Educents will be having many amazing sales and giveaways during the month of April.

  • 30 days of giveaways – with a family vacation giveaway to Florida & a $1,000 Educents Gift Card as the grand prizes
  • 20% OFF sale March 31-April 7th. Every saves an additional 20% on our already reduced prices!

 They are giving you an additional 20% off, sitewide for ONE FULL WEEK! Use code “Anniversary20″ at checkout!

Be sure to sign up for their emails,

check out their deals,

become an affiliate  (please credit Gena Mayo)

and even join their blogger program (please credit Gena Mayo)!

 

Here are a few things that they have listed right now:  Map and Anatomy floor puzzles, Melissa and Doug toys, Easter Scripture freebie, Saxon geometry textbook, and an artist kit!

(Post contains affiliate links.)

 

Giveaway of 3 Zondervan Books for Kids & 3 for Teens!

I have a wonderful giveaway today.  There are two sets of books–one for kids and one for teens.  Enter one giveaway or both!  These would be wonderful to give to your kids for Easter, or for any other occasion!

The Kids Set (for preschool-age 7) has

The Legend of the Easter Egg by Lori Walburg (illustrated by Richard Cowdrey) The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith, by Mike Berenstain 101 Bible Stories from Creation to Revelation (illustrated by Dan Andreasen)   Zondervan books 007 In The Legend of the Easter Egg, we follow the story of a little boy whose sister has become very sick.  He goes to stay with friends while she gets better.  While there he learns about why Easter eggs remind us of Easter.  A chick breaks out of its egg, just like Christ broke out of the tomb. The boy understands about Jesus and His sacrifice and gives his life to Christ.    On Easter morning he runs to see his sister who is now better to tell her of his new faith in Jesus.  It’s a pretty, hardback book. Zondervan books 008   Book reviews- Daniel, Noah, Berenstain Bears Keep Faith, Veggie 018 In The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith Brother and Sister Bear find out that their science-loving friend Ferdy Factual doesn’t believe God created the world.  It’s the first time Brother and Sister encounter someone who thinks that you can’t believe in or trust God if you are a scientist. Brother and Sister love science, too.  They love to learn about dinosaurs and fossils, to look at the stars with a telescope, and to look through a microscope at germs.  But when they are looking at the moon through a telescope with Ferdy, Sister mentions that God did a good job.  Ferdy tell them that not only does he not believe that God created everything, he doesn’t even believe in God.  He only believes in things he can see and test and prove. The bears talked to their parents about it.  Mama tells them that they have to have faith.  Now that’s a hard concept for young kids to understand!  So, the next day they go to visit Preacher Brown to see if he can expain it better.  They learn that faith comes from reading the Bible, feeling God’s love for us, and in seeing the beauty of God’s creation.  Preacher Brown also tells them that Daniel in the Bible had faith that God would save him from the lions.  Faith in God is trusting in his love.  Brother and Sister Bear decide at the end of the story that faith in God is important to them. I love how this book shows that you can be a “scientist” and have faith in God at the same time. Book reviews- Daniel, Noah, Berenstain Bears Keep Faith, Veggie 020 Book reviews- Daniel, Noah, Berenstain Bears Keep Faith, Veggie 019     Zondervan books 013 101 Bible Stories From Creation to Revelation is a Bible story book.  There are 3 things I really like about this book that make it unique from other Bible story books:  half of the stories are from the New Testament, the illustrations are more realistic (not cartoonish), and it has a higher reading level.  It is perfect for reading to children or for independent older readers to read to themselves.  Each facing page has one page of the story and one page of illustration.  Hardback book with 217 pages. Zondervan books 014 Zondervan books 015

The Teens Set has

All In Student Edition by Mark & Parker Batterson

Gods at War Student Edition by Kyle Idleman

and a choice of one of these Bibles:
Young Women of Faith Bible, NIV (Hardcover)

Or
NIV Bible for Teens (Blue)

Zondervan books 011 All In Student Edition is an encouraging book for helping teens choose the right life–the God life.  I really enjoyed reading about different peoples’ experiences in the book.  You’ll find stories of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (Civil War), Stanley Tam (United States Plastic Corporation), and Phil Vischer (Veggie Tales), among many others.  Inspire your teen with this book (paperback, 160 pages). Zondervan books 012 Zondervan books 009 Gods at War Student Edition explains to students how to recognize and fight against the modern-day idols we see in our society.  There are 3 specific idols that are highlighted: Pleasure, Power, and Love.  Anything that teens might put before God (entertainment, technology, pornography, drugs, materialism, etc.) is talked about in this book, and they learn how to serve Jesus instead.  Paperback, 203 pages.   Zondervan books 010 Zondervan books 016 This blue-covered NIV Bible for Teens is beautiful in charcoal and blue faux leather.  It’s less than an inch thick, has a ribbon marker, 8 pages of maps, and Christ’s words in read.  It’s in the new NIV translation Zondervan books 017 Zondervan books 018 Zondervan books 019 Zondervan books 020 Zondervan books 021 And a Bible for girls: The Young Women of Faith Bible.  In this hardback Bible, you’ll find the regular features (maps, concordance, and full NIV text) as well as a Weekly Bible Study and some commentary explaining difficult passages.  There are journal sections to learn about other girls’ experiences and to write about your own and specific verses to memorize. Zondervan books 022 Zondervan books 023 Zondervan books 024 Zondervan books 025

Enter one or both giveaways below on the Rafflecopter!  Winners will be chosen on Saturday April 5 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email. Two different winners will be chosen (can’t win both giveaways).

Congratulations to the winners:  Liz and Sara!

(Disclosure:  I received copies of all the above books in order to write these reviews.  This post also includes affiliate links.)

 

Get Your Homeschool Planners now–Big Sale!

There are only 3 days left in March, and it’s a great time to get next year’s homeschool planners from Well-Planned Day since there is a BIG SALE right now.  Lowest price of the year!  Check out 9 different styles.  There are planners for homeschool moms, bloggers, and students of all ages!

These planners are great!  Here are a few pictures of ours:

DSC_2592 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 013 Easy Canvas & Well Planned Day Student Planner 012 Fourth of July Well-Planned Day Planner 081 Fourth of July Well-Planned Day Planner 077 Fourth of July Well-Planned Day Planner 076

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.)

Titus 2:1 Blogging Conference — almost sold out!

Titus 2:1 Conference

I’m so excited to be attending my very first blogging conference this year!

It’s called the Titus 2:1 Conference — “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.”  It’s specifically for Christian homeschool bloggers, and ladies are flying in from all over the country to attend and lead sessions. See more information here http://www.2to1conference.com/.  There are only 5 more tickets left!
Let me know if you get a ticket!
This is the schedule:

FRIDAY, MAY 2nd

1:00pm Registration Check-In Desk Opens
2:30pm Meet and Greet sponsored by Classical Conversations
3:30pm Conference Kick Off
4:00pm General Session: “When God Writes the Story” with Kendra Fletcher
5:00pm General Session: Sponsor Speed Dating
8:00pm: General Session: Live Tweet Up with Apologia
9:00pm General Session: Dessert With Heidi – “Blogging, Boundaries, and Balance”

SATURDAY, MAY 3rd

9:00am General Session: “Keeping Long-Term Perspective” with Ashley Wiggers
10:15am Breakouts
12:30pm Lunch
1:30pm Sponsored Breakouts (TBA)
2:30pm Breakouts
3:45pm General Session: “Raising Kids With Vision” with Marianne Sunderland
5:00pm WAHM Panel
6:oopm Dinner
7:15pm Vendor Hall/Networking
8:30pm Keynote (Topic TBA) with Angie Smith

SUNDAY, MAY 4th

7:00am Early in the Word with Sherri Seligson “The Power of Words: Edifying and Terrifying”
9:00am Breakouts
  • Living Life Offline – bringing blogging passions into your IRL community – with Jen Schmidt
  • Writing Your Niche – finding your passion and voice for your blog – with Tracy Klicka
  • HTML Demystified – taking the fear out of working with code – with Amanda Pelser
10:00am General Session: “Beautify Your Blog, Simple Photography” Workshop with Jamie Worley
11:00am Worship and Prayer Circles
12:00pm Closing Remarks

Review of Spelling You See

Spelling You See Review
I have a brand new product to share with you and review today.  Welcome to Spelling You See, a revolutionary way to “teach” spelling!

Spelling You See Review

I have been using Math-U-See for years and love it, so I jumped on the chance to review Spelling You See.

It comes in 5 levels, and we reviewed Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E),  

Spelling You See Review

as well as Spelling You See: Americana (Level D).

Spelling You See Review

 

 The other 3 levels that are available right now are:

Spelling You See: Listen and Write (Level A) 
Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B)
Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C)

And I’m really excited that they are planning two more levels (F and G)!  You can see sample lessons at the above links for each level.

So, what’s different about Spelling You See?

Well, there are no word lists, no studying a set of words for the week, and no Friday spelling tests!  This won me over immediately.  I have another spelling curriculum that’s been sitting on my desk since August.  And 2 of my kids have “spelling” on their weekly assignment sheets, but we haven’t done ANY spelling this year until we started Spelling You See.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So, why is Spelling You See better?

Here’s how it works.  The child is working through a paragraph each week, not a set of words.  The “spelling words” are embedded in the paragraph, so they are learning how to spell them within a context so it’s really building their visual memory.  They work on the same paragraph each day of the week.  Here are the activities to do each day, which takes 20 minutes or less.

1.  Teacher reads paragraph to the student

2. Student and teacher read paragraph together slowly, pointing or looking closely at each word.

3.  Chunking:  The child marks the consonant chunks, vowel chunks, Bossy r chunks, etc. with a specific color in the paragraph.  (The answers are in the Teacher book.)

4.  Page 2 has a place for the child to write.  They do copywork for the first 3 days (copying part of the paragraph and stopping after 10 minutes of writing if it takes that long).  It never took 10 minutes for any of my kids to write it.

5.  Do chunking on their copywork.

6.  The last 2 days of the week, the child does dictation of the paragraph instead of copywork.  The teacher (mom) dictates the paragraph to the child.  On Day 4 the teacher will watch and make corrections as they go through.  On Day 5 the student will just do their best to spell everything correctly without asking for help.  If the child does everything perfectly on Day 4, they don’t need to do it on Day 5.

What else do I love about Spelling You See?

Both Levels D and E have paragraphs about American history!  In Level E the kids learn about great Americans such as Benjamin Franklin, Eli Whitney, Helen Keller, and Thomas Edison.  I’ve always loved incorporating copywork and dictation in our homeschool–it’s a Charlotte Mason technique.  But we’ve gotten away from both lately.  So, I’m glad to be doing it again.

Both of my sons who tried it really liked it.  They were eager to do it each day.  The older boy is 12 and did Level E.  It was too easy for him.  I really hope that Spelling You See continues writing more levels.  I would even purchase this for junior high and high school levels!  Let them learn those difficult spelling words in context!  The younger boy is 7, and I think Level D is a good level for him.  He’ll continue using the books.  My daughter who is 10 also did Level E.  She did not like it, and complained about it almost every day.  She felt like it was too “little kiddish.”  I’m hoping she’ll come around, though, because I have already seen an improvement in her spelling.

See below one day’s work in Level E.  Paragraph with chunking is on the left and copywork with chunking is on the right.  (I received a PDF copy for this review, but they only sell soft-cover consummable books.)

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The next picture shows an example from Level D.

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Age Range:

These products are meant for elementary ages, or for remedial work for older students.  See the website for placement help.

Cost:

Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American (Level D)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Like and Follow Spelling You See:

https://www.facebook.com/SpellingYouSee

https://twitter.com/spellingyousee

 

 

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Review of “The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith”

Book reviews- Daniel, Noah, Berenstain Bears Keep Faith, Veggie 018

Today I have a review of The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith, a new book by Mike Berenstain, the son of Jan and Stan Berenstain.  I am so happy with the new Berenstain Bear books which are part of the Living Lights series by Zonderkidz.  God is honored in these books.  :)  And Papa Bear isn’t the dolt that he was portrayed often in the older books.

In The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith Brother and Sister Bear find out that their science-loving friend Ferdy Factual doesn’t believe God created the world.  It’s the first time Brother and Sister encounter someone who thinks that you can’t believe in or trust God if you are a scientist. Brother and Sister love science, too.  They love to learn about dinosaurs and fossils, to look at the stars with a telescope, and to look through a microscope at germs.  But when they are looking at the moon through a telescope with Ferdy, Sister mentions that God did a good job.  Ferdy tell them that not only does he not believe that God created everything, he doesn’t even believe in God.  He only believes in things he can see and test and prove.

The bears talked to their parents about it.  Mama tells them that they have to have faith.  Now that’s a hard concept for young kids to understand!  So, the next day they go to visit Preacher Brown to see if he can expain it better.  They learn that faith comes from reading the Bible, feeling God’s love for us, and in seeing the beauty of God’s creation.  Preacher Brown also tells them that Daniel in the Bible had faith that God would save him from the lions.  Faith in God is trusting in his love.  Brother and Sister Bear decide at the end of the story that faith in God is important to them.

I love how this book shows that you can be a “scientist” and have faith in God at the same time.

Book reviews- Daniel, Noah, Berenstain Bears Keep Faith, Veggie 020 Book reviews- Daniel, Noah, Berenstain Bears Keep Faith, Veggie 019

 

(Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to write this honest review.)

Advice From One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another: #4 & {Link Party}

Advice from One Homeschooling Mom of Many to Another
For the past month I’ve been posting some advice for a mom of seven who is struggling in her first year of homeschooling.  Three weeks ago I posted my response.  I also have 3 posts from 3 friends of mine: Post #2 can be found here.  Post #3 can be found here.  And today’s post is from a mom of 7!
One of the first things that comes to mind is that her struggles are perfectly normal. I am  sure that most of what she mentioned I have experienced. We have succeeded in some areas and failed in many others. I had an advantage in that I did not start homeschooling when they were teenagers, but much younger.
Anyway, I would suggest first of all to back off on her expectations. I get the feeling they are pretty high. It never works to compare your family to what you think other families are doing/accomplishing. No family is the same. It also seems that the character of the children is her main priority. So if she keeps that in mind, perhaps she needs to take a break from academics and just read the Bible aloud and have kids memorize scripture. Also, she seems to be loading many burdens on herself. At 14, the older girls are perfectly capable of self-teaching with the right curriculum. She does not have to be everything to everyone – they have many siblings they can rely on for part of it. One suggestion also would be to step back and just do some fun things for awhile. For example, read aloud to them and then have the children act out the reading with a skit they write. Go to the library and load up on books and just let everyone read good books. Listen to classic books on audio. Go outside and play. And make sure everyone goes to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep.  And remember, the children are getting older, so what was a difficulty last year you do not even think about now or wonder why you thought it was such a difficulty.

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!

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See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

An Impromptu Trip to Cincinnati: Zoo and Creation Museum

Last Wednesday my husband and I decided to make an impromptu trip to Cincinnati to visit the zoo and Creation Museum. We don’t usually do this. It’s not that easy to get a group of 10 people ready to go on vacation. But the kids were as excited as us, so we did it! My oldest son and I went to Solo and Ensemble contest Saturday morning where he played a violin solo, sax solo, and sax duet. I accompanied on the piano for his solos. Then, I took him to musical rehearsal where his siblings were  already practicing. They are working on the musical Robin Hood. (More on that later!) We picked the kids up at 2 p.m. and headed to Cincinnati!

On Sunday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo.

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My favorite animals at the zoo were the manatees!  Here is the baby.

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I thought this monitor lizard was neat because it really reminded me of a dinosaur — which we were going to see a lot of at the Creation Museum the next day.

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One of the things we did at the Creation Museum was a workshop on Ice Age animals with Buddy Davis.

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The kids did a “sculpture” of a saber tooth tiger out of clay.

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This cute chameleon reminded us of the movie “Tangled.”

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The museum is full of incredible exhibits to help understand creation science.  Here is an example.  See at the top the casts of the skull bones found for “Lucy,” the so-called ape-man.  The bones don’t give you an idea of the face, but see how different versions make it look more like an ape or more like a human.

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This exhibit talks about the Bible being written by different men such as Abraham, Moses, King David, and the Apostle Paul.

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The Garden of Eden is beautiful.

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A zebra/horse and a zebra/donkey.  They are able to mate so they are part of the same horse “kind.”  There only needed to be 2 horse kinds on the ark to have all the varieties we see today.

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My two oldest boys and second daughter did a zip line!

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