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Friday, July 31, 2015

TOS Review - Funtastic Unit Studies in Science

I was thrilled to get a chance to review the Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies.

Funtastic Unit Studies Review science unit studies unit studies for homeschoolers science unit studies for homeschool fun ideas for teaching science science ideas for teachers science ideas for homeschoolers homeschool science

What is Funtastic Unit Studies?

I received a physical glossy, paperback book entitled, Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers Ages 4-13 By Susan Kilbride. The book is written for homeschoolers by a homeschooling mom but could easily be used in other settings as well. The experiments/activities could be easily adapted for a group setting like a co-op or even for a summer camp.

Before you even open the book, flip it over, and you have a full-color glossy hunt and find camouflaged animals worksheet (answers included in the pages in the back of the book).

Inside the book, it contains 20 chapters that each start with a list of supplies needed to conduct the at-home experiments. Most items are household or easily obtained things.

Each chapter unit also lists the age group of students to whom it is directed, with the first 10 chapters intended for those ages 4-7, and the last 10 chapters for those ages 8-13.

The chapters include:

         For 4-7 year olds:
  1. Our Senses
  2. The Human Body
  3. Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life
  4. Animals
  5. Insects and Their Kin
  6. Fun with Magnets
  7. Stars and Planets
  8. Health
  9. Beginning Plants
  10. Animal Ecology

    For 8-13 year olds:
  11. Insects
  12. Microscopes and Invisible Creatures
  13. Atoms and Molecules
  14. Matter
  15. Chemistry Fun
  16. Weather
  17. Force and Motion
  18. Simple Machines
  19. Light and Color
  20. Plants II
Each chapter is separated by 4-8 parts that take a segment of the topic and describe it in more detail and includes activities. The latter chapters for the older kids, starting with Chapter 11, each end with a test, and some include worksheets.

Also included are answers to the tests and worksheets

How Did We Use It?

I was asked to complete at least one unit in the book, which was expected to take about 2 weeks. I chose to begin with my youngest child and focus on the 2nd chapter, The Human Body and then move on from there to include my 13-year-old as well, starting with Weather.

The skeletal system:



How the stomach and esophagus work:



My first step was to familiarize myself with the layout of the book and then prepare to present it to my children. The book really explains everything well, so this step didn't take much time at all. The list of materials is the first thing in each chapter, and then each Part within each chapter describe a different aspect of that chapter's topic. I chose to look over the entire chapter, one part at a time, so I was prepared to move forward and not have to stop for me to read what to do next.


We made our own rain/miniature water cycle:


And, our own weather vane

What Did We Think?

I was so excited the day the book arrived and got started reading how to use it to teach my children. All of my kids love hands-on learning, but my youngest is the most hands-on, active learner I've ever seen. I thought the chapters were easy to follow and provided informative science lessons while the kids were having fun. I appreciate that it provided the answers to everything so I didn't have to second guess myself and I love the easily accessible materials list at the beginning of each new chapter.

I am a unique homeschool teacher in that I prefer to follow a guideline of what my child needs to know and then let me be free to fill in the blanks, so I really appreciated that this book provided a fantastic guideline, complete with the learning goals and valuable information, all wrapped up into the Parts within each chapter but not as a precisely scripted format I had to follow word for word.

I also thought the experiment/activities were all very newbie me/non-scientist fail proof, which I absolutely was relieved about, because I have a history of somehow being able to mess up the point of an experiment since they often don't seem to work for me even though I follow the instructions to a tee. This book walked me through every activity/experiment with excellent diagram illustrations and instructions that didn't make me look like a fumbling rookie.

Check it out for yourself with TWO FREE PDF units from the book and some additional freebies from Funtastic Unit Studies.

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

Funtastic Unit Studies Review

Crew Disclaimer


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Where's Peara? Classic TV 'You're Gonna Make it After All'

Where's Peara now? Here's a hint: "You're gonna make it after all!"

OK, that's not much of a hint if you are of the younger generation.

For those of you new to Peara's adventures, let me introduce you.

Peara is a stuffed, plush, yellow pear with googly eyes. We received her from my sister-in-law years ago, even before we had children, I believe. See, she was going through her kids' toys and Peara was about to take a visit to Goodwill. Before this happened, my sister-in-law asked if we would by any chance be interested in finding a home for Peara. And, the rest is history.

Well, almost history...

As we began traveling with our children, we sort of adopted this plump yellow pear as our travel with kids mascot.  And, thus began our journey of "Where's Peara?"

This is the Minneapolis, Minnesota skyline.

We were fascinated to discover there are rows of fresh produce on Hennepin Avenue, right in the heart of downtown.

But, what we drove into the city to see was the Mary Tyler Moore statue.

TV Land dedicated a statue to the classic TV show that was originally aired in the 70's. It featured Mary Tyler Moore as a single woman trying to make it on her own in the big city. She landed a job in a local newsroom, and the sitcom was born.

The statue depicts her throwing her hat up in the air after she crosses a busy intersection. I don't know if it's hearsay fable or real, but I was once told that she spontaneously threw her hat at the last minute when they were filming, and they used it as a segment in the intro. with the theme song playing, "You're gonna make it after all." Mary turns and tosses her hat. It became iconic.

The surrounding buildings were interesting as well and some are shown in the opening song for the show.

The elevator is inside Macy's.

Say and Pray Bible Review - First Words, Stories, and Prayers

The first words they recognize have to say something, so why not make sure they are Bible-themed words? I had the opportunity to review the  Say & Pray Bible First Words, Stories, and Prayers  from Diane Storts and Illustrated by Sarah Ward, from Tommy Nelson publishing. I received the Bible from the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange only for my honest opinion.

This is the most adorable board book Bible for toddlers and early readers.

This is a hard-cover, toddler board book, 40-page Bible story book. It is intended for children, pre-readers or early readers.

The book contains 20 Bible stories. 10 Old Testament and 10 New Testament, including:

In the Beginning
Noah Builds a Boat
A Happy Promise
Joseph's Colorful Coat
Baby in a Basket
A Happy Family (Ruth)
Samuel Listens
David Sings
Jonah and the Big Fish
Brave Queen Esther

Jesus is Born
Jesus Grows Up
So Many Fish
Jesus Heals
Jesus Teaches About God
The Good Samaritan
Jesus and the Children
Jesus and Zacchaeus
A Big Parade
Jesus is Alive

Each new 2-page story contains a little 3-line summary of the biblical account and a scripture, followed by a prayer.

The illustrations of the corresponding story have pictures that are highlighted with about 5-7 words from the biblical account.

For instance, the story of Noah has pictures and words that include:



This book is very well-made, gift quality. It feels sturdy and durable when you hold it in your hands, so no worry about little ones tearing the pages. And, it's just the right size to hold in your hand, and curl up in a reading nook with baby. It's also a great size to hand over to an early reader, learning new words.

It is a fantastic way to start a child out with familiarizing them with the Bible. It is not just stories and beautiful illustrations, but it contains vocabulary words that he or she will encounter when they actually begin reading the full Holy Bible. What a fun way to learn the words while learning about God's love.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Where's Peara? Boyhood Home of a President

Where's Peara now?

For those of you new to Peara's adventures, let me introduce you.

Peara is a stuffed, plush, yellow pear with googly eyes. We received her from my sister-in-law years ago, even before we had children, I believe. See, she was going through her kids' toys and Peara was about to take a visit to Goodwill. Before this happened, my sister-in-law asked if we would by any chance be interested in finding a home for Peara. And, the rest is history.

Well, almost history...

As we began traveling with our children, we sort of adopted this plump yellow pear as our travel with kids mascot.  And, thus began our journey of "Where's Peara?"

Here is a huge hint, though if you see this painted on the side of some plant alongside the highway, you may wrongly think that we will be visiting Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home. Nope, in fact, this president's boyhood home is farther north in Illinois, and this particular president wasn't even born yet when Lincoln had the honor of running the country.

We kept driving, and driving, and driving.

We saw windmills which always fascinate me. Imagine getting all of the power we need to live and conduct business, directly from the earth itself using wind power.  Whenever we drive by these huge blades, I find myself amazed at the massive size of these windmills and baffled at exactly what they do to convert wind into electricity.

If you want to discover along with me, check out this instructional windmill site.

We found our way through small country highways and onto the site of where President Ronald Reagan lived as a boy.

In the garage sat a Model T. The tour guide informed us, however, that the Reagans didn't ever own a Model T, because they were never rich enough in those days. We were assured, though, that Mr. Reagan, Ronald's dad, did in fact work on Model T's.

This particular Model T was later donated to the museum and home site.

Ronald Reagan was a lifeguard in his teen/early adult years, and he was credited for saving several lives.

We arrived inside the home where the president once lived. Do you see that tile in the picture that has been removed? Underneath, young Ron used to hide his pennies. It cost a few cents (I don't recall the exact amount, seems like the tour guide said 2 cents) to go to the movies. So, Ron would hide his pennies underneath this loose tile so his brother wouldn't find his stash when it came time to go to the movies.

Another fascinating fact that the guide shared is that back in those days, the young president was not allowed to set foot inside this front parlor room. So, he would lie on the ground with his feet in the hallway and hide his pennies just around the corner, within reach.....  Tricky - See, he had obeyed technically - Since, his feet had not set foot inside the room. They were still dangling in the hallway.

Upstairs to the right was a small bedroom where Ron and his brother shared not only a room, but a bed as well.

This picture shows Ronald, Nancy and Ron's brother sitting on the bed reminiscing about their childhood when he visited the renovated home in the 80's.

This small bathroom contains a footed bathtub, and a sink the size of one you might find on a train. The tub, we were told, is the very one Ronald Reagan would have taken a bath in as the house did have running water at the time, and this tub was placed here in the 1920's, long before he would have occupied the house.

This bed, with beautiful quilt, was the bed of Ronald's mom and dad. The quilt was a gift to the mom.

The picture of the White House is obviously not original, but was done in the style of what a wall picture would have looked like at the time.

This is our tour guide. He is holding the very plate that Ronald Reagan ate off of when he, Nancy, and his brother were served lunch in the dining room of the house upon their visit to the grand opening of the renovated house. We were told that a towns woman had baked a cake for Ronald's birthday that day as well, but the secret service would not let the cake be eaten without being first scrutinized. But, they did set the cake on the table for press photos.

We were told that when the president got up to leave, there was a piece missing. So, the woman who baked the cake probably was thrilled to discover the president actually ate her cake. Though, the happy news was also followed up with a stern warning that she should be grateful no harm had come to the president because of it.

Outside the home is a statue of President Ronald Reagan. Look who is perched in his hands.

We left the house and made our way back through Dixon to get back onto the highway.

Look! Peara had a couple of friends photo bomb.



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