Come Join Us for the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

I am so excited to announce that all this week I will be sharing various posts on Getting Back to Homeschool as part of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop.  This Blog Hop is being co-sponsored by The Schoolhouse Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection.

There will be an abundance of great articles to help you organize your new year, make those final curriculum choices, and just encourage you as you begin either as a first-time homeschooler or a veteran that feels the need to jump out of rut of doing the same thing for too many years.

This is the year to blaze some new trails!  I will be linking posts back to this page as they go live each day.  Stay tune for tomorrow’s post geared at keeping our eyes on the big picture!

 

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
Mark your calendars – 10 to 14 August – it’s time for this years Homeschool Blog Hop. The School House Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection to bring you a week full of back to school encouragement.
We have 56 homeschool Mom’s sharing their combined wisdom and insights covering everything Homeschool related. That’s 280 posts of encouragement and information just for you!

Meet Your Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Hosts

Marcy @ Ben and Me
Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Amy @ Homeschool Encouragement
Missica @ The Open Window: An Autism Blog
Misty @ Year Round Homeschooling
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity
Clarissa @ Counting Our Blessings
Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Rebecca @ Raventhreads
Karen @ Tots and Me…Growing Up Together
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
April @ ElCloud Homeschool
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Tara @ This Sweet Life
Tara @ Embark on the Journey
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy
Annette @ In All You Do
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Joanie @ Simple Living Mama
Aurie @ Our Good Life
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessings
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Wendy @ Life at Rossmont
Katie @ DailyLife
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Melissa @ Mom’s Plans
Annette @ A Net In Time

Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Steph @ Indy Homeschool
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Tawnee @ Adventures in homeschooling
Lisa @ Tales of a Homeschool Family
Jennifer @ Organized Home Organized School

Callie @ Mama’s Coffee Shop
Erin @ For Him and My Family
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama
Nicole @ Some Call It Natural
Crystal @ Crystal Starr
Bonnie @ Write Bonnie Rose
Shawna @ Tenacity Divine
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Kelli @ Adventure Homeschool
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Be sure to check back as I hear that there is a great giveaway that will be happening as well.  The winner will be thrilled to use an OMAX 40X-2000X Lab LED Binocular Compound Microscope with an OMAX 5.0MP Digital USB Microscope Camera that have a combined value of just under $1,900.

A Review and Testing of Koru Naturals Body Care Products

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family has had the opportunity to try out some of the best curriculum.  At times though we will get a review that is just fun and a blessing to the moms.  This review is one of those examples.  Our family recently received a 2 ounce sample of Pure Emu Oil as well as a set of Manuka Oil and Manuka Honey Shampoo and Conditioner.  These products were from Koru Naturals, a New Zealand based company.

A Little About the Products

Emu oil is known around the world for its wonderful moisturizing ability.  What I found in researching this oil was that Koru Naturals does not clarify their oil (a.k.a process it).  This results in a bit of a cloudy appearance.  The cloudy appearance is due to the amount of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that are left in their original and usable form by our bodies, because of the lack of clarifying.  It is very similar to obtaining honey that has not been processed.  It still has all of its natural benefits intact, which is excellent news.  Unlike many commercial moisturizers, the Emu Oil is fully absorbed by the skin without leaving a greasy residue.  Not only is the greasy residue undesirable and leaves a mess to get all over everything, the residue can also block pours.  Our experience with this particular Emu Oil was that is was fully absorbed.  Why is this important other than the mess factor?  Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies.  It is important for our pores to stay non-clogged.  This allows the nutrients in the Emu Oil to be absorbed through our skin and also allows our body to rid itself of toxins by the pores not being blocked.  In addition to the benefits on our skin, the Emu Oil can also be massaged into the scalp for moisturizing and repair of damaged hair at its very roots.

In addition to the Emu Oil, we were also able to give the Manuka Shampoo and Conditioner a try.  As a naturopath, my first instinct was to check for both beneficial and toxic chemicals in these products.  As I mentioned above, our skin is our largest organ.  The surface area of our skin allows a great opportunity for the absorption of toxins from our environment as well as our body care products.  I was thoroughly impressed with what I found.  Both the shampoo and the conditioner were paraben and sulfate free.  These are the greatest toxic contributors to our health in most commercial products.  It is important to note that most commercial shampoos contain sulfates because of their high foaming action.  So, I really believed the integrity of the company when I found that the shampoo did not produce a lot of lather.  Do not be mistaken.  The lack of lather is in no way indicative of a lack of cleaning potential or nourishment to your hair.

The ingredients that I did find were remarkable.  Koru Naturals really hit the mark with a wonderful combination of ingredients for both cleaning and nourishing hair.  Here is some of what the research says about the benefits of the ingredients in these products –

  • Manuka Oil and Honey – Helps to reverse hair loss, provides nourishment through vitamins and minerals, and reduces dandruff.  It also has antifungal properties
  • Emu Oil – Promotes hair growth and also contains vital vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids
  • Aloe Leaf Juice – Has been credited with healing psoriasis, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is also antibacterial.
  • Lavender Essential Oil – Prevents build up of certain skin oils that can block pores and also helps to reduce dandruff
  • Roman Chamomile Essential Oil – Provides a calming effect, but even more so has the ability to kill lice and mites
  • Jojoba Seed Oil – Wonderful for dry hair and also acts a carrier oil to keep the other essential oils fully suspended throughout the shampoo and conditioner

These are just some of the wonderful ingredients in these products.  Peppermint oil is also in these products which adds a wonderful scent as well as stimulation for the scalp.

Our Conclusion

I simply loved these products.  As a mom, woman, and naturopath, I feel comfortable using them personally, with my family, and recommending them to clients.  The ingredients are not only safe, but effective.  In being a farmer’s wife and homeschooling mom, the winter months are very hard on my skin.  The emu oil did a remarkable job of taking away any signs of distress, chapping, or inflammation.  The hair care products brought new life to my hair.  It feels great and looks great.

As always I encourage you to check out what our other reviewers shared from the Review Crew.  Some families had the opportunity to also try lip balm, hand and body salves, and body lotions; all from Koru Naturals.

Koru Naturals Review
 

Crew Disclaimer
 

Mathletics ~ Math Olympics for Your Brain

Aside from the flexibility and more relaxed schedule it affords, a main argument for schooling year round is keeping up math skills. Will our students’ brains go to mush over the summer months? A possible solution to this would be finding a fun math supplement that the kids could use during the summer to keep up their skills. Our youngest has used the Mathletics program from 3P Learning this summer for this purpose. Please continue reading to see what we found as we reviewed it and tested it out.  We will try to take you on a tour of what our soon to be 5th grader saw as he worked through different areas of the program.  If you would like to try it out yourself, you can click here for your own trial subscription.  The program has levels appropriate for those in grades K-12.

Mathletics Student Home

Like most kids, our son loved being able to start customizing the screens and his icon as soon as he entered. I tried to be patient with this as it is much like letting them organize their desks and go through their new books and supplies on the first day of school. Swords and knights are the rage among our young men!

From this main student page, our son can see how he is doing on the activities in the different sections of his grade level (the middle section above), check out his personal stats and points earned in the left sidebar, and pick lots of other game areas to explore in the right sidebar.

It is important to remember as I share with you more about Mathletics that it is designed to be a supplemental math program for students of all ages and not a complete math curriculum. So there are lots of fun, games, and practice types of activities. There is not as much teaching of concepts.

Now back to our experience.  We honestly did not explore every area of the program, because when my son found something he liked he really didn’t want to leave it to go do something else. His favorite aspect of the program was the Mathletics Live. This is an area where your student gets to compete against other students logged into the system from all over the world. It was exciting to see where other students were logging in from and this section certainly tapped into a boy’s naturally competitive spirit.

Watching as the map picks out your competitor's around the world.
Watching as the map picks out your competitor’s around the world.
The actual challenge screen when working in the Mathletics Live area.
The actual challenge screen when working in the Mathletics Live area.

This was definitely a much more fun way for our son to practice his math facts compared to timed fact sheets or flash cards.

Our son’s second favorite area was the Rainforest.  In this area, the child has all kinds of different math strategies and skills to explore and develop. It does provide some review of concepts, but is just an area of fun learning. I think that the colorful screens added real appeal to the younger learner. In this area, he could explore all of the same topics he would normally cover in his math book, but it didn’t feel like a math lesson.

I am enlarging this graphic so you can really see how much is offered in this area.
I am enlarging this graphic so you can really see how much is offered in this area.

The area that I as the mom gravitated to was that big activity section in the middle of the student homepage. It was the area that was the most similar to a traditional math curriculum and focused on the mastery of math topics through repetitive questions and problems. It would allow the student to see if they were working at a good accuracy level. This section is not timed and is really meant to be an area where the student can take their time in working the problems.

Mathletics Activity

My greatest frustration with the ins and outs of the program was that I kept wanting it to be a full math curriculum. I wanted it to do more teaching, but had to keep reminding myself that it is designed to supplement the math curriculum that the child is using in their schoolwork. The student can click on the question mark in the left sidebar for the computer to present a short review on the concept. It is like a mini tutorial.

The final area that our son really enjoyed that I was surprised about was the problem solving area. There are several games in this section that combine math skill with critical thinking skills. Normally he dreads problem solving in his normal math curriculum, so it was surprising to see how he took to this area when given a choice of where to spend his time. Each game has an instruction screen providing detail on how to play the game and what the student is to accomplish.

Mathletics Problem Solving Instructions

They then enter the game area where they actually work the problem given.  In this example, our son had to move the balls in the different areas to figure out ways of getting two balls side by side that would add to 20.  He then clicked on the pair.  Each time he got a correct match, the fireman would make another move in rescuing the cats from the top of the burning building.  In true boy fashion, the greatest excitement was watching the building burn to the ground after all the cats were rescued.

Mathletic Problem Solving Act

As I shared earlier, we did not even get to all the areas in this program.  That is why I really encourage you to register for your own free trial by going to this link.  If you are convinced that this is the tool for your child to practice their math skills while having fun, it is available for purchase at a cost of $59 for a year long subscription per student.  There are family discounts available if you register multiple students all at the same time.

Thoughts from a Mom’s Perspective

When I could get my mind around this truly being a supplement, I was able to see just how much my son enjoyed it and his willingness to use it. I think it is a great tool in keeping math skills fresh during school breaks as well as providing a constructive “day off” from your normal math curriculum.

An area that was challenging for our family is that the software is built around Common Core Standards. What this meant for us, even in using it as a supplement, is that the teaching is approached in a totally different way than our normal curriculum. It also covers different things in each grade level than the scope and sequence of our full program.

In the activities area there are some assessments and each activity also have a bar to show the students progress and accuracy. The one diagnstic feature that is missing is a good placement tool. Every math curriculum is a bit different, which makes it difficult to know where to initially jump into this program.  This is something that I would recommend the publisher consider for future releases.

For the family on the go, 3P Learning has begun work on making Mathletics available on mobile devices. We were able to load a Mathletics app on our iPad mini. Many of the features for the 5th grade level were accessible and I am sure that in future days it will completely resemble the on-line version that you would access from your computer. This is a great plus for a family that has downtime while waiting on siblings at ball practices, doctor’s appointments, etc.

As always I invite you to see what other reviewers have had to say about their experiences with Mathletics from 3P Learning.  In the links, be sure to check out reviews based on the grade level of your children as our family only evaluated the 5th grade activities for our review.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

GIVEAWAY – Trident Case for your iPad

This past Spring we received a Trident Case for our iPad mini.  To be honest, it has never been taken off our device since then.  The protection it affords our iPad mini allows me to rest at ease that the whole family can use our device without worrying that it will be broken.

To read more about our experience with our Trident Case, check our our review here and then click on the graphic below to enter the giveaway for a Trident Case of your own.

http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/trident-ipad-case-giveaway-2/

Book Release and Giveaway – Be A Winner

 One thing that I have found in life is that no matter how tough my situation may be, God always has a way of revealing to me someone who is facing harder obstacles and maybe greater pain.  During these times, I have often heard reassurances that God will bring good out of the bad (Romans 8:28).  Often this is exactly what happens.  However, it sometimes requires my reliving of the pain and hardships in order to bring comfort and fellowship to someone who is now facing their own hurt.

I am thankful for the opportunity to join with Nancy Fileccia in the release of her new book, More Than a Memory: The Candace Kate Story.  May her testimony and story be an encouragement to others as a way of celebrating the importance and value of her daughter’s life.  Stay tune in the coming days for the posting of my review of More Than a Memory.

candace kate giveaway

To help Nancy celebrate the upcoming release of her book, I’m joining with other bloggers from the Candace Kate Launch Team to bring you this amazing giveaway! There will be 2 winners and one winner will win an iPad Mini!

Here’s the list of all the incredible prizes offered in this giveaway:

Giveaway # 1 ($560+ value)

iPad Mini 16 GB WiFi

More Than a Memory: The Candace Kate Story paperback

$75 A Journey Through Learning Gift Certificate

American History Through Music bundle by Diana Waring (releasing May, 2014)

NotebookingPages.com Lifetime Membership

Ultimate Well-Planned Day Expo from Media Angels

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

 

Giveaway #2 ($160+ value)

More Than a Memory: The Candace Kate Story paperback

$25 A Journey Through Learning Gift Certificate

NotebookingPages.com Lifetime Membership

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

 

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents, age 18 and older please.

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Support the Farm – Teach Your Kids about Farms

We are honored to share with you a very creative way of helping us to save the farm! Stacie Lewin of Super Mommy to the Rescue is offering a special on her Farm Unit study for preschoolers. All of the proceeds from the sale of the unit study from today through July 7th will be going directly to support our farm. This unit sells for only $5 so it is a great buy.

Preschool Farm Unit is filled with lots of activities for your preschooler to learn and have fun at the same time.

This contains:

Matching Worksheets

2 Part Puzzles

Animal Memory

Number Strip Puzzles

Patterns

Sizing

Word Walls – Prewriting

Word Walls Color – Prewriting

Color Matching

Tic Tac Toe

Number Puzzles

Counting Cards

Lacing Cards

Short Easy Book

Your purchase will be fun and educational for your kids while supporting the purchase of the land needed by the farm!  Click here to purchase this unit.

 

Got Milk? – Retake from the Double O Farms

I am not sure that real milk has the power to take down a sniper or burglar.  However, it does wonderful things for your body with its nutrient dense composition.  For more info on the health benefits of real milk, visit the Real Milk website.

For more information on our fight to save our farm and ability to continue serving families wholesome food, please visit our homepage and consider your role in being a part of holding onto America’s heritage.

Disclaimer: The source of all donations made to the farm will be maintained until the land is purchased.  If the purchase of the farm can not be made for whatever reason, all funds in this trust account will be returned to the donors. May God bless you!

 

Random 5 for May 31st

I love when I actually remember that it is Friday and have a few minutes to post a simple 5 random things from the farm and our lives.

  1. Spent a lot of time as I plan curriculum for next year in reminding myself to live in the moment. I can’t begin to tell you how many times my eyes get way too focused on the goal and forget all about enjoying and learning from the process in getting there. Trying to be much more intentional in enjoying today for whatever it holds.
  2. We got rain today!! This was truly an answer to prayer. I posted on Facebook this morning about how I was praying for God to send some water on our garden. He did!! God is not a gumball machine that we place our quarter in and expect that it is His duty to answer our prayers the way that we dictate. He is God though. We are facing a big push in raising the rest of the funds for the purchase of our farm land. It is good to be reminded that He is in the midst and will see us to the other side if it be His will.
  3. Feelings of gratitude to the great people that God is allowing me to serve with on the Board of the Georgetown Homeschool Group. We spent several hours today in another planning session for our new academic year. What an honor to serve with them in serving so many other families. We are really doing a happy dance over God’s provision of a larger facility to rent so that we can minister to more families.
  4. In some of the discussion about fundraising for the purchase of our land, it was such a blessing to hear the plan that our kids came up with of how they could basically run our farm if Gary and I needed to get outside jobs temporarily. This is not the plan, but it was so great just hearing them share about their dedication to what we have started and what is so important to our family. The girls were prepared to jump in to help the boys with their schoolwork as well and the boys agreed to be teachable for them. So thankful for great kids who truly are capable of really carrying out the plan that they proposed and impressed that they worked together to get there.
  5. Milk Shakes!! Yup, sometimes at the end of a busy and stressful week, you just have to reward yourself for surviving the ups and downs of the week. Honor the hard work accomplished, pat yourself on the back, and then be prepared for what comes next.
Acting Goofy on the Farm
Acting Goofy on the Farm

My friend, Miranda from the Pebble Pond, got me started on these fun Random 5 on Friday posts.  Check out her post from today, I really enjoyed reading it.  Click here to read her Random 5 and link up your own blog post.

Hot off the Press and Ready for Download

I just got word and wanted to pass it along to you.  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is now offering a new digital resource that is available for a one time purchase price of $25.

 

This great library of resources has something for everyone.  There are lapbooks for the kids to complete.  Audio books to listen to in the car to get a bit of history in while driving to that summer vacation hot spot.  And no, they did not forget about Mom and Dad are you are planning out your new year or trying to get some additional ideas on homeschooling high school or your child with special needs.

Go check it out and purchase your copy today by visiting www.SchoolhouseLibrary.net.

Review of the Week #3 – Science Vocabulary Picture Cards

It is always fun to be able to review a homeschool product that we might not ordinarily buy and see just what we can do with it. That has been the case with the Science Vocabulary Pictures, Set 1 from Lone Star Learning. We had an opportunity to review the first of four sets of Science Vocabulary Picture Cards available through this vendor.

When the cards arrived there were 40 cards contained in the set. They are made of laminated cardstock and each card measures 5.5″ X 8.5″. The vocabulary word is printed in large letters and has pictures embedded in the word that help to give very visual reminders of the meaning of the word. These cards are very colorful and appealing to the eye.

In addition to the 40 Vocabulary Picture Cards there is also a glossary card that provides the definition to each word. The cards are intended to be used by students in grades 3-7. I must admit though that when these cards came out our older students and even dad became intrigued.

During the time we have had these cards the creative juices have been flowing as to how to make the most out of them. Here are some of the things we came up with:

  • I read the word and its definition and the boys had to find the card and explain how the pictures on the card applied to the definition.
  • I read the definition of the word and the boys had to locate the card that matched the definition.
  • We played grab bag by picking out a card at random and sharing what we knew about the term on the card.
  • We picked a card and then had to say a word that related to it.  For example, if we pulled the reptile card, we could say Egg Laying, Cold Blooded, Lizards and Snakes, or expand out in naming other animal classificiations such as mammals, insects, fish, or birds.
  • We grouped the cards together that related and then tried to see if we could name any cards that we could add to the set that related to the cards we had.  For example, the set includes herbivore and carnivore.  The boys then added omnivore.
  • Our most favorite activity was in using our stairs as an organizer and to physically group the cards by something that they had in common.

IMAG0189

When we played this last game, our youngest son, age 8, woudl get all the cards and start organizing them. When he felt he was done, our 12 year old would then see if there were any cards he wanted to move. Before he could move them, he had to explain why he thought they would work in a better place. When he was done, their high school aged sisters had their chance.

We have loved working with these cards. I am sure that your family can find even more creative ways of utilizing them. We do have a child that has had some issues with dyslexia and split dominance processing. He responds very well to color in his learning and benefits greatly from products just like this.

The 40 card set of the Science Vocabulary Picture Cards by Lone Star Learning have a retail price of $29.99.

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