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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Most Popular Re-pinned Bunny Juice Box Free Printable Pinterest Pin



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It's so funny to me how Pinterest works, or any social media site for that matter. One thing may be super spectacular, but for one reason or another it just sits there with no views. And, then along comes one little sensation that goes viral. Whether or not the quality of the actual material is good makes little to no difference really.

When it comes to Pinterest, I have finally downloaded the app for my iPhone. As if I need extra time on that idealistically creative site, I still have the Pinterest app. This means that everytime something I have pinned is re-pinned - I get a notification.

Well, for the past few months, for the most part, every time my phone dings with a Pinterest notification, one pin pops up as being the one that was re-pinned. It has come to a point that the kids and I hear the ding and start guessing which pin just got re-pinned.

BUT, WE DON'T HAVE TO GUESS, BECAUSE WE ALREADY KNOW WHICH PIN IT WAS!

A couple years ago - That's right a couple years ago - I pinned a free printable of a bunny that was designed to print out and wrap around a square juice box. The end result is the most adorable bunny that's perfect for a party display.

NOW THIS SIMPLE PIN HAS BEEN RE-PINNED MORE THAN 2,000 TIMES AND FAVORITED MORE THAN 200 TIMES! MANY OF THOSE HAVE COME STRAIGHT FROM MY TWO-YEAR-OLD PIN!

The original pin came from a site called Teachers Pay Teachers, and it is a free download. And, thankfully, it's still there and available for downloading at no cost. The design is really quite simple, and only requires one page for the bunny's ears and one page for the bunny's face, and then of course, multiply that by however many juice boxes you want to cover.

So, what does this famous re-pinnable pin on Pinterest look like?





Find the original free download of the bunny juice box wrap on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

TOS Review: "Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!)"

Ready to Teach Review

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I was thrilled to get a chance to review Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) from Ready to Teach, organized and developed by Alene H. Harris, Ph.D. I received a paperback Instructor's Manual, Student Book, and a CD and a flash drive - both packed with teaching materials.

THIS HAS BEEN MY DAUGHTER'S ALL-TIME FAVORITE CURRICULUM!



Ready to Teach Review


What is Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!)?

Let's start by explaining what a Morpheme is, because I had honestly never heard this word before. A Morpheme is described in the dictionary as:

  1. In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest grammatical unit in a language. In other words, it is the smallest meaningful unit of a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology.

Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) is a vocabulary program, developed by Alene H. Harris, Ph.D., that is based on more than 200 Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes which form what is called morphemes. In other words - Unlike most vocabulary programs that start with a list of big, long words and give the student a definition to memorize, Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) starts with the small pieces and roots of the words and allows the student to build each word.

This study guide comes with everything you need to learn Greek Morphemes. I received a paperback student workbook and teacher instruction book with a CD and a flash drive which covered the bases of any learning/teaching style, giving me options in learning formats and presentation formats for presenting the material to my daughter. Using the CD allowed us to hear the proper word pronunciations and never have to guess at how they are supposed to sound. It also provided Power Point style slides with fun and engaging graphics. These format options even included transparencies to use on an overhead projector, and I was able to send the material to my iPhone as well.

There are 12 lessons in the book. The lessons are broken down with the suggested guide of covering a small portion of learning new sets of words each day that take between 10 to 30 minutes per session:

Monday: Lesson One Instruction and Assignment A
Tuesday: Review and Check Words, Assignment B
Wednesday: Review and Check Words, Assignment C
Thursday: Review Assignment C, Make Study Cards, Assignment D
Friday: Review, Check Matching Exercise, Take The Test

SO WHY TEACH GREEK?

When a child learns Greek or Latin, it opens up the opportunity for higher level thinking skills, not to mention that, according to the creator of this curriculum, 40% of all English words contain Greek Morphemes, and 90% of scientific terms have a combination of either Greek or Latin roots. So, if a child learns Greek, he or she has an edge on academics and other learning that involves vocabulary.



How Did We Use It?

I was asked to use Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) with my 7-12 Grader at least three times a week during the review. I chose my 7th Grade daughter because she was the one jumping up and down begging me to try it out. She ended up using it every day she "did school" because she decided to integrate it into her everyday learning of subjects.

I started off by opening up the teacher book and reading through the instruction, but discovered that inserting the CD that came with the book into my laptop and sitting down next to my daughter was the best option for us. We went over the first lesson together, following the Power Point screens on the disc. She, filled in the workbook as we learned together, and at the end of the lesson, made review miniature flash cards that she put on a keychain ring for easy access to study. As an alternative to the student creating the flash cards, the Instructor's Manual provides white card stock style tear/cut-out cards in the back of the book which have the actual words written in color coding.

By the way - There are many learning styles, but if you color code something, I'm all for that. I loved how each lesson provided a different color sheet in the back of the book to create mini flash cards for that lesson. I also love how these flash cards are not cumbersome and clumsy to handle, but really handy to carry around and pull out for learning wherever you go.

After the initial couple lessons, she followed the lessons by herself using the disc. At the end of each lesson, there is review practice with the mini flashcards and then a test that she took using the CD in the laptop.

What Did We Think?

THIS HAS BEEN MY DAUGHTER'S ALL-TIME FAVORITE CURRICULUM!

I have been super excited to see her excitement for this program, because this particular child of mine has a history of struggling horribly with spelling and vocabulary. The reason for this is because as a young child she suffered from temporary hearing loss due to chronic ear infections. This hearing loss occurred during a pivotal time in her learning how words sound. SHE COULDN'T HEAR when we would pronounce a word, so she struggled with proper spellings and phonetics. Since regaining her hearing and working very hard to get up to and beyond grade level for spelling and vocabulary, I am over-the-top thrilled when she shows any interest in words.

My daughter and I have had an absolute delightful time learning Greek with this curriculum. The CD made it so easy for me to navigate the text as an instructor, and she loves the workbook format. She has had so much fun making up new words even though some are actual words she just never knew existed.  We have determined, however, that I may be a bit of a misanthrope while she is a total and complete bibliophile.

Read what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought by clicking on the picture below:

Koru Naturals Review


Crew Disclaimer

Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up - It's Never Too Late, Right?

I've seen others post wrap-ups of their weeks, and I have decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, this is my very first Weekly Wrap-Up post.

This week, and last, have left me feeling emotionally and physically spent! Not to mention, I'm questioning every decision I have ever made about my parenting style, including whether or not I'm failing my children by homeschooling them.

YEP - IT'S PRETTY CLOSE TO A MOMMY MELT-DOWN KIND OF WEEK, BUT I'M TOO TIRED TO SHOW EMOTION!

At the start of the week, we made a huge undertaking by moving my son's computer that he built on his 14th birthday in May last year, up to his bedroom. he informed me (after, some hurtful conversation) that his room was babyish. So, I proceeded to help him grow it up a bit. I stripped his windows of the Snoopy flag banners that hung over his drapes, and took down his wooden airplane shelf, and then we set up a table for his computer and gaming systems and removed my husband's childhood desk that had been in my son's room.

This week has been our week set aside and designated to SAT testing, more precisely OLSAT testing. We usually test with the SAT in the spring just to give me an idea where my children are at, and to provide a record for them. It isn't required by my state, but I feel more confident as a teacher by knowing they have a record of progress each year.

We used to test at a local Christian school, but a couple years ago I applied and was accepted to become a testing administrator. So, now we test at home. Though, this is a decision I may reverse next year for my youngest. She seems to freeze up and panic when it comes times for her test. What I thought we could finish in just a couple days, has taken four so far.

My middle child, on the other hand, is always eager to test. She likes to compete with her siblings, and tries to be the first one done. My oldest, who is a Freshman in high school this year, is the one who drags his feet the most. But, in the end is the one who comes out with shining scores. I'm hoping that trend continues, because he will probably be testing for the ACT at a local high school this summer.

I had set aside this week to focus on testing, but really, we had many other interruptions.  See, I also scheduled doctor visits for this week, including a trip to the orthodontist for my son and a trip to the eye doctor, where my daughter received her very first pair of contacts...  Which, also meant that was followed by a trip to the store to buy sunglasses (a perk when you've had glasses and unable to wear sunglasses over top of them).  Of course, this visit means a couple more trips back to the eye doctor to pick up glasses for my son and to get the supply of contacts for my daughter after a week of wearing them eye check visit on Good Friday!  Right now, she only has a trial pair and has been instructed to wear them 4 hours one day, 6 the next, 8 the next, and so on.




And, of course, we had our typical "normal" schedule of Robotics for my son and Enrichment Thursdays (Co-op) for my daughters.





Speaking of Robotics, last week (since I wasn't writing Weekly Wrap-Ups yet), was my son's first Robotics Regionals. They came in 9th rank overall, and from my understanding is 20th in the entire state. They are awaiting a hopeful invitation to the Championships which take place in April and include 400 Robotic teams from around the world. In the meantime, my week last week was dedicated to driving my son to Chaifetz Arena on the SLU campus, which meant waking up super early (for us) and spending the day at an arena where food was super expensive with no healthy options. We ended up with pizza, nachos and bottles of water for about $30. The bid for the championship would be excited, but it takes place on the same weekend as my daughter's Drama play performance from her Co-op.

MAMAS NEED TO BE ABLE TO BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONE TIME.

And, Co-op - ugh! I am not a co-op kind of mom to begin with and am so done with the drama of other moms and board members that took a shakedown a couple months ago. I don't know the details, but wish I did because not knowing, and not knowing who I can trust to tell me the true story behind the emotional drama, has left me feeling angry and confused. Have I mentioned that growing up, I was so much more comfortable with males than females? Women can be so mean. So, we have four more weeks of this year's co-op, and then I only plan on enrolling my oldest daughter next year so she can be with her friend, because she has come to absolutely love co-op days and would not want to deprive her of this privilege. At the same time, it's become too much on me to drive back and forth, dropping off one child and than back to get my youngest and get her to class only to have to stay on the premises while she's in class - An hour I really can't afford as I was accustomed to getting writing work done while my older daughter was at co-op, but they changed rules to insist upon parents of the younger children be on campus while they are in class. While I used to drop off my oldest daughter and then go to a coffee shop to write before returning to pick her up, I now drop off my oldest daughter, drive home, return with my youngest daughter later in the day, stay on the premises, drive home, and then drive my son to robotics that evening. It's a whole lot of yo-yo driving time that I simply can't afford when I need that time to focus on work.

And, so we come to the end of a week (And, my very first Weekly Wrap-Up).

See how other homeschoolers' weeks went, and add your Weekly Wrap-Up to the Linky by clicking on the picture below:


Weekly Wrap-Up

TOS Review: 'Thick as Thieves' Book by Susan K. Marlow

Thick as Thieves Book Review

I was thrilled to get a chance to review Susan K. Marlow's newest book, "Thick as Thieves" from Kregel Publications. This latest book in the series is a Circle C Milestones book.

What is Thick as Thieves?

"Thick as Thieves" is one of the newest books from the Circle C Milestones level, intended for readers 12 years of age and up. The levels building up to the Circle C Milestones level are:
  • Circle C Beginnings for ages 6-9
  • Circle C Adventures for ages 9-14
  • Circle C Milestones for ages 12+

Circle C Ranch is set in California during the 1800s. There are several books within the Circle C series that grow up with the main character, Andrea who is called Andi.

"Thick as Thieves" follows the main character, Andrea Carter, into her teen years as a girl growing up during the 1800s in California on a ranch. The story is a fun adventure that pulls the reader into the time period of the story to learn a bit of history while taking in the excitement of the story of some outlaws that turn from rustling Circle C cattle to stealing horses and a girl named Andi trying to get to the bottom of the mystery of who is responsible for the missing horses, namely her horse Taffy's missing foals.

We received a 176-page paperback book to read, and we also used the 40-page downloadable Study Guide.



My daughter's synopsis of the story is as follows:

The book is a story about a girl named Andrea, nicknamed Andi, who lives in the 1800s. The action begins with surprising story twists when Andi's mare gives birth to twin foals, which is rare and dangerous, so her brother has to help the foal survive. Entering the picture are cattle and horse thieves. They keep stealing cattle in the area, but one night, they steal her twin foals. In school, Andi meets a girl named Macy who lives in a family who doesn't believe in Jesus, and her family is filled with rough characters. This girl helps Andi attempt to get the foals back but takes Andi on some scary adventures in the meantime.
In the end, the story is really about friendship, selflessness, and compassion.

The study guide offers a rich collection of questions and activities, like crossword puzzles, to follow along, bring the story to life, and to enrich the actual book for further and in-depth learning.

It covers information about:
  • Foaling
  • Vocabulary words associated with the story
  • Synonyms and Antonyms, verbs, adjectives, idioms, and more
  • Math problems included on a quiz, "Are You Smarter Than an 1880s Eighth-Grader?"
  • A Venn Diagram on cattle rustling
  • Historical information about landmarks in California
  • So much more...

How Did We Use It?

I handed the book to my horse-loving, thrives-on-reading, newly turned 13-year-old daughter. I, then printed out the study guide sheets for her to use and discuss. She read the book in just a couple days' time, and began work on the study guide shortly after finishing the last chapter.

What Did We Think?

My daughter absolutely loved the story in the book and asked if we could order the other books in the series. I was impressed how she actually learned a few things as well. I noticed as, in general conversation, she would begin to use terminology or facts that she learned from the book - Such as what makes the horse a colt or tidbits of historical information about the 1800s and ranching.

Find out more about Circle C Milestones and other books in the series by visiting Facebook or Twitter.

Read what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought by clicking on the picture below:

Koru Naturals Review


Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

TOS Review: Lord Heritage HomeSchool Office

HomeSchool Office Review

I was thrilled to get a chance to review HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage.

What is HomeSchool Office from Lord Heritage?

It is an online homeschool planning center that is accessible from a computer, iPhone, and numerous other convenient platforms. I received a full year's access to HomeSchool Office. To learn more about HomeSchool Office, I first took at look at the Product Features and Purpose and Sample Pages.

It is entirely online, but if you prefer the hard copy paper and pen style of planning and record keeping, it allows for you to be able to print out hard copies of schedules and other items as well.

When you log into the planning center - There are a few main section tabs that categorize your school year planning and record keeping steps:
  • Plan
  • Order
  • Work
  • Evaluate
  • Report
There is also a Team and Home section.

The Home tab is the screen where family messages are posted, and it opens up as the main page with a colorful picture and encouraging scripture. The Team tab is the place where you record all of the information about your "team" or school, teachers and students.



Under the Plan tab, you will input and maintain information about the School Year, the Master Schedule, Subjects, Projects, and there's even a page for your individual homeschool and family home Budget to make sure you stay within your financial means.



Under the Order and Work tabs, you will find calendars that allow you add to a "to-do" list and then select monthly, weekly, or daily options that list what is scheduled for each day, week, or month. I am a list-checker for sure, so having the ability to modify a daily "to-do" list appealed to me.

Under the Evaluate tab is where you input grades and progress of each student along with their attendance records.


Under the Report tab, you can create various reports such as attendance, subject hours summary, or goals, and then there is a Transcript tab that pulls all of the information together and creates a transcript that you can save online as well as print.

As a first-year high school homeschooling mom, this was the section I was most excited about,






How Did We Use It?

I was asked to use this in my homsechool planning for several weeks during the review period. I was excited to set up my son's first year of high school transcripts, but I also used it to plan for my daughters' schooling.

What Did We Think?

I love how everything is right there in one place for my entire family and that I was able to color code each child's schedule. That really made it easy to quickly glance and know what was assigned to which child.

I also really love that I was able to access the site from my phone. Though, it's always a bit more challenging to type into a tiny little iPhone keyboard, I always have my phone with me when I'm teaching, so I appreciate that they made it user friendly for mobile device users.  It's also easy to print any schedules I need right from the phone.

The most time consuming part, for me, was learning to navigate all of the options to set up our individualized calendars and such. Once I became comfortable with the format and learned which tab to go to in order to input my information, it became a lot easier to navigate. Once everything was set up, it was just a matter up updating every day or whenever necessary.

Read what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought by clicking on the picture below:

HomeSchool Office Review


Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 23, 2015

The New Cinderella Movie Lessons on Abusive Relationships and More


I know there are Christians who have a problem with any Disney because of the theme of magic that is intertwined. I respect their position, but I have always seen it that there are so many underlying themes that can really be related to biblical teachings, and like the parables Jesus told, if I can find a parallel to Scripture, I enjoy it more. The new live-action Cinderella movie provides so many parallels.

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As you know – Cinderella is transformed into wearing the most gorgeous dress that sparkles and flows with all its poof. But, even dressed up to the max and looking drop-dead beautiful – Her beauty remains even after the magic is gone.
The story is a classic fairy tale that, like many others, was re-told by Walt Disney. It has now been re-told again with just a few added attributes in which the writers re-imagined it. But, in this case, I think they re-imagined it for the better.
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CINDERELLA'S BACK STORY

They added Cinderella’s back story. You get a glimpse into what her life was like pre-horrid-step-mother and step-sisters time. Her life was splendid and lovely, sheltered in her little home with a loving mother and daddy. I don’t aim to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but you know the story. Her mother dies, and so does her dad.  In the meantime, the movie gives insight into how Cinderella’s character was planted and how it grew. Before her mom died, she instilled within Ella (the Cinder part had not yet been dashed upon her) that the most important qualities in life are to:

HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND

Cinderella's strength and beauty really come from her steadfast courage and kindness and love, so she is able to face the horrible oppression and verbal abuse and stand up to it but not in anger, with true strength that comes from Love and knowing who you are (in Christ, how Christ sees you).
I love how the movie points out how names have meaning, and how what we are told we are is how we often act. She was born, Ella which means “light” or “beautiful fairy woman” along with a few other possible meanings. The Cinder part was thrust upon her with evil intention. Even with all her steadfast courage, even Cinderella begins to lose sight of who she really is and starts to lose hope.
Which brings me to the next point – The abuse!
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STANDING UP TO BULLIES

The live-action movie really does an amazing job of portraying the abuse that Cinderella endured at the hands of her wicked step mother and step sisters. There is really no physical abuse to be noted, but the heaviness of words attempt to damage Cinderella’s inner person. All of this would be discouraging and degrading, leaving a girl to climb into the cycle of what many abused women encounter. Though, Cinderella had not grown up in abuse. She already had the strength she needed to climb above it. What is most excellent is how the movie and storyline does not leave her in her down-graded abusive environment. No! She rises above it with love, courage and kindness!

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT - HAPPILY EVER AFTER

The story is often thought of as the classic Disney tale of love at first sight that only happens in fairy tales. But, the live-action movie throws in a brief meeting between the two before the iconic ball. I love how the new writers did this, because it not only shuts up the romantic skeptics, but it also adds an entirely new dimension to the story. See – The two don’t know who the other is, but they know there was an attraction that went beyond physical beauty. They learned enough about each other through this brief meeting to look into each other’s souls and pull out enough information to know they wanted to know more.
While, to the naked eye, it appears to be a love-at-first-sight, Prince Charming whisks me away to glory kind of story – The retelling of it ends, not with a knight in shining armor, Prince Charming being her ticket out, but it is Kindness and Courage that abound and win!  It is this inner strength that is stronger than any physical fight.
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BUTTERFLIES

I love how the movie portrays what kindness really is – It’s not some “walk all over me, because I’m lowly and wimpy” kind of an attitude. It is truly strength and powerful!
But, as you know, she does leave this horrific abuse and is rewarded with a life as a princess and a queen – Poetic justice! Though – My favorite line is what she says to her step-mother when she turns to her as Cinderella is walking out of the door to leave and claim her rightful place in the palace. I will not spoil it for you, if you have not yet seen the movie.

Another new theme throughout the movie is the use of butterflies. It’s subtle, but definitely a big part of the new movie. It is really a nice addition, too since a butterfly begins as a caterpillar and then goes into seclusion giving all the appearances of being very undesirable and ugly, but then the butterfly emerges – Ooh how pretty! It is the most beautiful winged being that flitters with beauty and grace.

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SPOILER ALERT***IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE PLOT OF THE NEW MOVIE SPOILED – DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT***

A really important story twist was added to the movie version:
From the perspective of the prince, there was substance and worth inside Cinderella’s eyes – qualities that he saw lacking in himself and that he knew would be for the good of the kingdom. Though, while Cinderella was ashamed of her name and did not want to share it – The prince, too, had a different kind of shame. Perhaps, his was more of a humility, but he chooses not to share his true identity with her either. But, what I love is what comes of this meeting – It is from that meeting that the Prince sees beauty worth searching and waiting for. The invitation to the ball goes out to all the maidens in the land – BECAUSE THE PRINCE’S EYES ARE FIXED ONLY ON ONE, and he wants her to show up at the ball. He is looking for her and for her alone.



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