Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daddy Daughter Dance

The night had finally arrived.

A night for a little girl...

and her Daddy...

To spend an evening together, dancing, crafting and bouncing balloons...

My daughter and her Daddy, heading out to their first Daddy Daughter Dance.

Wildflower Garden ~ Late Spring

A couple years ago the kiddos and I planted a wildflower garden in a raised bed on the side of our house...well, we actually just threw a bunch of wildflower seeds into the dirt and covered them up with a bit more dirt :)  Every year since, we have been blessed with a beautiful, colorful wildflower garden.

This year I'd love to utilize our garden in our summer nature ds8 loves to take pictures so he will be our official camera guy.  Hopefully we'll remember to take pictures often, and maybe even identify some of the flowers in our garden.

Here's the late spring picture...just a few flowers blooming...but lots of green that hopefully means lots of color as summer nears.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew

I just found out that I was selected set sail on The Crew's 2010-2011 Voyage. I am really excited about it...but I am also a bit nervous, hoping that I can live up to the challenge of reviewing homeschool curriculum while homeschooling my kiddos.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spring baseball

This is our first experience with baseball. Ds8 has shown lots of interest in baseball and he seems to have some natural we decided to test the waters this spring...

Here's a look at what he's been up to...
On the pitcher's mound...

Down and Ready!

Peeking around the dugout...
Waiting for his turn at bat.
And taking time to pose for the camera...

Batter up!

My two tag-alongs spend most of their time at the games on the lookout for a shady spot to rest.
The only shade to be found was next to the dugout.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Download 'N Go: Australia ~ A Review

Last week we took a trip to Australia...a virtual trip, courtesy of Download N Go ~ Expedition Australia.

This ebook from The Old Schoolhouse Store contains a full week (5 days) of hands-on activities for k - 4th graders. It also includes lapbook activities that are to be completed each day. By the end of our 5-day adventure we not only learned a whole bunch of neat things about the Land Down Under, we also completed a nifty lapbook to help us remember our journey.

This product is available by download from The Old Schoolhouse Store for $7.95. With your purchase you receive a download link for the 103-page ebook that contains 5-days of fun hands-on activities and colorful lapbook printables. As long as you have access to a printer (preferably color) and the internet, no other purchases are necessary in order to complete this study. If you would like to enhance your learning with books, there are book suggestions provided at the back of this ebook. I was able to obtain many of these for free from my local library.

I started this adventure with my 2nd grader, k'er and my very active 3-year old. Each daily adventure took us about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to complete...too much time to keep the attention of my two youngest. But my 2nd grader and I had a blast on our tour of Australia.

My thoughts ~ We learned a lot about Australia ~ it's geography, it's animals, it's history, and we even learned a couple of Australian words during our whirlwind tour (g'day, would you care for a biscuit?) ~ and we had fun doing it. I have to admit, I love to plan "hands-on, fun" projects for our homeschool, but we rarely complete them. (We have two or three incomplete lapbooks in our schoolbox to prove this!) But we did complete this one, I think mainly because it was short (only 5 days) so we didn't run out of steam before the end :) TOS also made it simpler to find needed information by providing internet links in the lapbook.

We also enjoyed the little unexpected extras provided in this lapbook. Each day there were a couple of links to short internet videos that provided a visual of the land and animals of Australia. My kiddos loved these short clips...they were a wonderful way to begin our lapbook study each day.

I honestly do not have anything negative to say about our experience with this Download 'N Go study...but I do believe that if we were to do another Download 'N Go lapbook (or any other lapbook for that matter), I would plan to complete it during one of our breaks. As I mentioned before, each day of our study took us about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. This doubled the amount of time that we did school each day (we worked on this lapbook after completing our regular schoolwork) ~ all my kiddos are still young and we spend about 2 hours per day on school. By the end of the day, we were tuckered out...

We came away from this learning adventure with a boatload of information about Australia...and marsupials...and geography...and did I mention we completed a cool lapbook? I would definitely recommend Download 'N Go ~ Expedition Australia to anyone who wants to study Australia with their elementary-aged kiddos. The Old Schoolhouse Store also sells a number of other Download 'N Go ebooks with subjects ranging from Benjamin Franklin to China.

I did receive a free copy of this ebook in return for my unbiased review of our experience with this product.

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter ~ A Review

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter is a part of The Old Schoolhouse Store's WanneBe Series of ebooks. This 82-page ebook is intended to be used with children aged 4 - 10. The purchase of this ebook (available from The Old Schoolhouse Store for $8.95) and access to a printer are all that you really need to complete this unit study. However, if you want to enhance your study of firefighters by completing some of the activity suggestions, you will also need to collect the supplies for the those individual activities. A supply list is provided at the beginning of each activity, and most of the supplies appear to be common items that you probably already have in your home.

This ebook contains a number of short articles that provide information about firefighters, including the history of firefighting, the equipment that firefighters use, and you even get a glimpse into the life of a firehouse dog.

It also includes a number of worksheets and activity suggestions that will help you integrate math, science, language arts, physical fitness and FUN into your study. The activities range from completing a coloring page or a wordsearch that contains firefighter vocabulary words to building a model of a robotic arm (complete instructions are included). There are also food, game and decoration suggestions for those creative families who want to conclude their study with fun, firefighter-themed party.

How we used this ~ One morning this past week, I read the articles in this ebook aloud with my kiddos (ages 3,6 and 8). I simply set my laptop out on the kitchen table and I read the articles as my kiddos worked on their coloring pages (also included in this ebook) as we all sat around the table after breakfast.

I really appreciated the endnotes on each page that defined different terms that came up during the of my kiddos would interrupt with a "mom what does that word mean?" and thankfully I was able to simply scroll down the page and answer their question.

The articles were short, easy to read, and full of information. At some points during the reading I would pause to use one of the suggested activities to help explain a term or idea further. For instance, while reading about the history of firefighting we learned about the use of the bucket brigade...we stopped reading and made our own little bucket brigade (not with real water though :)). This really helped my kiddos get a visual of what a bucket brigade actually was.

We also took breaks to head down some rabbit trails that came up during our reading: we talked about forest fires that we've heard about, the fire training academy that we have nearby, and the different colored fire trucks we've seen (my 3yo's idea).

My thoughts ~ I really like the fact that this ebook is so adaptable. You can use it as a simple read-aloud time (as I did) and use the coloring pages can keep your little ones' hands busy. You can turn it into a full unit study using the suggested activities to integrate math, science, language arts, and physical education. Or you can fall somewhere in between, picking and choosing a couple of worksheets and activities that you and your children would enjoy.
The reading really whetted my appetite for some further study of firefighters. I think I'm going to plan to do some further investigation of this career field (with the help of this ebook, of course!) with my kiddos this summer. My ds8 was really intrigued by the information offered about robotics and I know he'd love to learn more. It also reminded me that we really need to discuss a bit more about fire safety within our family ~ especially making a fire escape plan and then practicing a couple run-throughs.
All in all, I think that this ebook would be a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to study the field of firefighting with their elementary-aged kiddos.
I was given a free copy of this ebook in return for my unbiased review of our experience with this product.

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