Monday, March 30, 2015

Wheat Weaving Field Trip

We had a lot of fun learning about wheat and how to weave the wheat into shapes. It was a big hit among the kids and adults alike.
Wheat weaving has been around for a long time since wheat and other grains have been growing and cultivated. 

It was pretty amazing watching those braids turn into a beautiful piece of art. Of course the kids and parents just learned the basics.
The kids where exposed to books about wheat and wheat weaving. 
Little Man was pretty serious about weaving his wheat into a shape. Doing the braids made your hands a bit sore and you could see Little Man thinking pretty hard while making his braids
We had a gracious teacher and she helped Bug with a special braid. The arthritis in her hands didn't want to work to do the braid the other kids were doing.
The final results of the hard work. Some of the kids also did collages.
Bug got quite creative on her collage adding wheat and dried rose buds.

What kind of fun field trips have you been doing lately with your kids?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

TOS Crew Review of Circle C Milestones-Thick as Thieves

A few years ago at a homeschool convention my daughter was drawn to Susan K. Marlow’s booth. That was our first introduction to Susan K. Marlow’s books and it truly captured my children's heart and imgination. I was even more excited when she came out with a series for boys. This is truly Christian fiction at its best.

When I saw that the TOS Crew had a chance to review Kregel Publications newest book by Susan K. Marlow’s Circle C Milestones -Thick as Thieves ($9.99) I knew it would be an instant hit in my family. With the book we also received a Downloadable Study Guide.

Thick as Thieves is a new series in the Circle C Milestones. This book is a paperback book with 173 pages and 26 Chapters. This series is for ages 12 and up.

The levels before the Circle C Milestones are:

Circle C Beginnings for ages 6-9
Circle C Adventures for ages 9-14
Circle C Milestones for ages 12+
Goldtown Adventure for boys 8-12

You can read an excerpt of the book here.

About the Story:

This story takes place in 1882 in the San Joaquin Valley, California.

The main character in this book is Andrea Carter. Andrea nicknamed Andi is now 14 years old. Andi’s family owns a working cattle ranch. She is passionate about her palomino horse, “Taffy”. Taffy is getting ready to have her first foal. She is getting worried about Taffy’s strange behavior and knows that something isn't right with Taffy. 

Andi is also not happy that school is about to begin again and she won’t be around for the time needed to train Taffy’s first foals. Surprisingly, Taffy’s birth is even a bigger surprise when Taffy gives birth to not one but two foals. With the birth of Shasta and Sunny Andi would rather be home than returning to school.

School brings a whole new set of problems and not just for Andi but the rest of the school. A new student, Macy Walker and she is the rudest, roughest, and meanest girl that has crossed their paths. Macy gets assigned to sit next to Andi. Andi tries to befriend this wild girl. Andi realizes that she needs to have her trust pretty quickly.

Cattle rustlers have moved into the San Joaquin Valley. Not only are cattle being taken but horses and Andi’s precious foals disappear. Andi finds that the only clue may be Macy and her growing friendship may be more dangerous than anticipated.

If you haven’t read any of Susan Marlow’s books then you are missing out on a gem. Even if you haven’t read any of the other books this is a stand-alone book. The only hard part is that you will miss Andi growing up in the other series. You will want to go back and get reacquainted.

Andi is always getting way over her head and seems to have a knack of finding trouble. With her tight knit family and her faith in God it is truly a delightful read with good Christian values.

The Downloadable Study Guide is free. The Study Guide is 40 pages and has many different aspects of it to enhance the book. Some things that are covered in the Study Guide are: vocabulary, multiply choice questions, grammar, crossword puzzles, foaling, history, and much more. An answer key is located in the back along with other suggested ideas. This definitely takes the book to a more in-debt learning experience.

How did I use Thick as Thieves in my homeschool?

I read Thick as Thieves as a read out loud to my 12 years old daughter and my 9 year old son.

Thick as Thieves was a huge hit which, I never doubted it wouldn’t be as my kids have read all the books from Susan K. Marlow. Both of my kids are horse crazy and really were intrigued from the first to last page. The hardest part for me is not reading ahead of my children. I enjoyed the story as much as they did.

After each Chapter we did the Downloadable Study Guide. The majority of it I did orally. My 12 year old has some learning challenges and this is what made it fit her learning style. My son did want to do some of the activities by himself. Afterwards, I went over it with my daughter.

My family looks forward to the next book in the Circle C Milestones, Heartbreak Trail. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Promise of Palm Grove by Shelley Shepard Gray
A young Amish woman finds herself torn between the man she’s pledged to wed and the man her heart desires in this heartwarming story of chance, duty, and choice in the face of love—the first volume in the beloved New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.

Amish bride-to-be Leona is thrilled to be in Florida, on a mini-vacation in the pretty town of Pinecraft. Her girlfriends think she’s happy because she’s away from the stress of wedding planning. They have no idea that Leona’s real joy is in being away from her fiancĂ©.

Edmund is a good man, and will make a decent husband . . . just not for Leona. The more time she spends with him and his overbearing ways, the less she wants to be his wife. Her cousins are sure Edmund is the right man for her-and their certainty makes Leona begin to doubt herself. But when a chance encounter with a wayward cat brings her face-to-face with a handsome, fun-loving Amish man named Zachary Kauffman, Leona’s faced with two vastly different futures.

Leona must decide: Does she follow the path set out before her? Or take a chance with only the promise of what could be to guide her?

My Thoughts:

This is the first book in this series. I loved the Pinecraft setting. It makes for such a unique setting in an Amish Fiction. I have really come to enjoy and look forward to Shelley Shepard Gray's books. She really has a unique personality that shines through in her writing.

I love all the characters and their differences. Leona is a wonderful strong and likable character. She is faced with a hard decision that will affect the rest of her life.
Zach is caring and one who helps and watches out for everyone. He has never thought much of himself until he meets Leona.

Effie is a 12 year old who has Perthes disease and despite her disability she is brave and encouraging to all who know her.

Beverly moved to Pinecraft to start a new beginning. She took over her Aunt’s Bed and Breakfast after her passing. Her life is threatened when someone comes up with a will that could rip her life apart. Despite it all her personality and faith shine though.

I had a hard time putting this book down and I look forward to the next book in this series. Promise of Palm Groves is a wonderful story.

Litfuse Publicity Group has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. In no way was I asked to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dodge-ball Camp

Dodge-ball camp how fun does that sound. It brought back memories of playing dodge-ball when I was a kid.

During Spring break Little Man got a chance to play dodge-ball for a full week. It made me tired just watching him play it.
He had a lot of fun with a group of 20+ kids. I only remember one way to play dodge-ball. Little Man learned over ten ways to play dodge-ball. 
Sweet little Bug wasn't interested in playing dodge-ball but she did enjoy watching her brother play dodge-ball.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


My family has had the opportunity to review GPA Learn and their online math program GPALOVEMATH. GPA stands for Great Parents Academy. My kids really enjoy doing school online. I was pretty excited to get started with my kids.GPA Learn cost $149. per child for a year or $12.99 per month per child. Right now they have a special promotion for $129.

How does it work?

GPA Learn is an online interactive math program for K-5.GPA Learn will also work on tablets. I used our desktop computer instead of our tablets. This is not a downloadable program so you will need to have an internet connection for GPA Learn.

Each level has its own character. I used this with my son who is in 3 rd grade. His particular level is a robot. My daughter is in 6 th grade but, due to her learning challenges she really thrives on online programs. I started her off in off in level 4. She was extremely frustrated in this level so I decided to assign her in level 2. She thrives much better when she feels confident in her learning experience.

Little Man had a lot of fun in his level. The end of each lesson the robot would do a sort of a dance. Little Man always made a big deal out of it and enjoyed dancing and getting silly with it. He also grabbed his sister to have her join in the dancing.

 When you first sign in you will open up in this particular screen. This allows me to see the progress of each child and to modify the rewards for each child independently. I like that each child can be awarded different items as both of my kids don't have the same things that motivated them.

Each line opens up different levels. You don't have the choice to jump around as the lessons go in order. The kids worked in the "Learn tab" They would click on their name and then choose which line to work on. The lessons in gray are locked and couldn't be accessed until you completed one of the colored blocks. 

The three lines covered:
Operations and Algebraic Thinking 
Numbers, Base Ten, 
Measurement, and Data  

After so many lessons your child receives a reward. The nice thing about the reward system is that you can use their reward system or you can customize it to each child. Bug was motivated by earning time on the tablet or computer. Little Man on the other hand was motivated by earning money and wrestling time with Daddy. 

Each lesson has three parts to it:

Instruction: This is very visual with the character explaining each concept. The one thing that I didn't like about the character is that the voices sounded so computerized. The instructions were rather long winded at time. They will show several working examples of problems.

Practice: Most of these are multiply choice question in which are dragged into place. If you answer the question incorrectly the character will help you out. You also have three lifelines that will automatically give you the answer. 

Quiz: Each quiz has ten questions. You don't see immediate results on your quiz until the end of it. A passing grade is 6/10. You can retake the quiz also regardless if you pass it or not.
Every time a lesson is completed I get the results emailed too me. It would inform me if they passed the lesson or if the lesson needed to be retaken. On this particular lesson Bug had some problems and GPA recommended that she redo the lesson.You also receive a weekly report.
 I liked that the summary tells me how long it took to do a lesson. The reason why is that sometimes my son had some adventure outside of school planned and wanted to finish quickly. I could tell if he actually applied himself or if he just rushed through the lesson without no thought. 

My overall thoughts:

I had my kids do 3 lessons a week during the duration of this review. My kids did learn will working with GPA Learn. I really can't complain when my kids are learning something especially a subject like math. 

The reward system was unique and I liked that I was able to personalize it for each child. 

I thought that the practice area was long and both of my kids quickly learned how to get around the practice area by clicking through the arrows. 

I thought that the graphics and computerized voice could be improved as I didn't find the quality very appealing. 

Bug didn't care for GPA Learn much and I had a hard time getting her to be enthusiastic for each lesson. Having a child with learning challenges is difficult. She usually thrives with online math programs. GPA Learn was not a program she thrived with.

My son liked GPA Learn and didn't have any issues at all. I wouldn't say he would get overly excited with it but, then again is a 9 year old boy with other things on his mind. He did make it a point to celebrate after every lesson when the robot did his dancing. 

You can see what other members of the Crew thought of GPALOVEMATH. 



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