Author Archives: Melinda Weiser

About Melinda Weiser

I am a sinner, saved by grace. I am on a journey and offer to share my story with the hope that it will bless you. My one desire is to bring glory to my creator. I am a wife and the mother of 6 children, plus two in heaven. I enjoy homeschooling, research, teaching, homesteading, natural gardening, grass based farming, cooking, fresh raw milk, herbs, children, midwifery, and music. I am a writer, biblical mentor, and also work part time in the healthy foods and vitamin business www.weisernaturalfoods.com I have a BSW degree from Kansas State University, and trained professionally as a medical social worker, biblical counselor, tutor, and vocal performer. Thank you for stopping by to read about our homeschool and family life adventures. Be blessed!

Blessings On Mother’s Day

Dear Mom’s Everywhere,

May your day be filled with special moments and special memories.  May you be blessed beyond measure and your cup overflow.

I want to encourage you today to draw near to Father God, Yahuah, through his Son, Jesus Yahusha HaMeshiac.  He is the source of life and the source of every blessing.  He is deserving of our highest praise.  Our Father God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.  (John 3:16)  When you confess that Jesus, Yahusha HaMeshiac, is the Son of God, and ask forgiveness of your sin, then God dwells in you and you dwell God.  God dwells in the praises of His people who believe and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

May you believe, repent, and receive the blessing of eternal life and dwell each day in the presence of Father God. May your joy today and everyday increase by a 1000%.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Learn To Read With Reading Kingdom Review

Are you looking to improve your child’s ability to read and write? Then you might want to check out Reading Kingdom online interactive curriculum.

Reading Kingdom offers a better strategy than what has traditionally been offered to help kids improve their reading and writing skills, reduce academic failure, and reach reading proficiency.

Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom

Online Learning Program

Interactive Curriculum

Highly effective

Adapts To Each Child

Individualized Instruction

Research based

Ages 4-10

Retail $19.99 month ($9.99 additional child).

Reading Kingdom in an online learning program developed for students ages 4 to 10 to help them become proficient at reading and writing to a 3rd grade level.   It is fun to use and kids can use the program on their own.  Because it is filled with learning games and books, kids are motivated to use it each day.  Reading Kingdom works as a standalone curriculum or as a supplement to your curriculum.  Reading Kingdom works on any device with an internet connection (including Windows, Mac, iPad, Android, Chromebooks, etc.)

Reading Kingdom uses a patented strategy called the Phonics Plus decoding system created by Dr. Marion Blank, a developmental psychologist who is also one of the world experts on reading.  Learning with Reading Kingdom has been made available in a fun online interactive program by her son Jonathan Blank, an expert in computer software development.   Now families everywhere can have access to this award winning learning system to help kids learn to read and write.

The Phonics Plus decoding system is based on learning the meanings of words, the pattern sequencing of letters, and sounds that create meaning.

Sequencing:  recognizing patterns from left to right.
Writing: understanding letter placement on keyboard and writing through out the program.
Sounds (Phonics): sounding letter blends,
Meaning: understanding the meaning of words and their context.
Grammar: grammatical rules
Comprehension: remembering and understanding what has been read.

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The Department of Education reports that two out of three kids today are failing at reading and writing proficiency and Dr. Blank believes it is because they learned to read with phonics only.  There are many reasons why learning with phonics only fails to help so many kids.

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However, rather than just learning phonics only, Reading Kingdom teaches the Phonic’s Plus decoding system as foundational for mastering reading and writing proficiency.  This method brings reading, writing, and comprehension together. As students learn these skills, they will benefit both now and later in life as many of these skills overflow into other areas in a person’s life.

How It Works:

Reading Kingdom uses fun reading games, story books, and the Phonics Plus decoding strategy to boost each student’s skills and confidence in reading, writing, and comprehension.  When kids finish the program, they will have mastered above a third grade reading level.

Reading Kingdom contains 5 Levels.  Each level is adaptable for the skill level of the person using it, so it customizes itself per the child’s needs.  Each level builds upon the skills learned in the previous level.  Before moving forward it gets kids ready for the next level so both sets of skill levels flow smoothly together. A Progress Check (review quiz) is given after each level. More practice is given if needed, or if they have mastered everything, they are promoted to the next level.

Reading Kingdom is designed to be used 4 days per week. Each level is filled with several sessions and you complete one session each day.  Each session takes about 10 to 20 minutes to complete.  A child learns 1 new word or reads 1 new book during each session.

Below are a few examples of different skill levels.  The first picture shows the level, the number of new words, new words plus word variants, total new words, and new books learned in that level.  The second picture in each category below is an example of a learning game in that level.

Level 1

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Level 2

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Level 3

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Level 4

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Level 5

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The entire Reading Kingdom online program starting at the lowest level and working your way through to completing the highest level, is designed to take about 12 to 15 months to complete all the levels and skills.   However, an older child child who already has acquired some reading skills, takes the placement test and scores above the beginning level, etc. maybe able to complete the program quicker, perhaps in as little as 6+/- months.   This program could also be used for review for older students and ESL and remedial learning.  A child who is a struggling reader may take longer than average to complete.  The program is flexible and adapts to the skills of each child.  However if your student is on the Autism Spectrum or has other learning challenges, then you might want to check into another program Reading Kingdom has developed called ADS Reading.

Who is Dr. Blank?

Dr. Marion Blank

Dr. Marion Blank is known around the world as a literacy expert. She developed and directed the Light on Literacy Program. She has served on the faculty of Columbia University. She lectures around the world, and has authored several peer-reviewed articles and books. Dr. Blank has developed award winning teaching programs.  She is the author of the Reading Remedy and creator of the Reading Kingdom.

Video
Here is a short video about Reading Kingdom:

How We Used Reading Kingdom In Our Home

I was thrilled for my kids to have the opportunity to use Reading Kingdom.  We were given a one year subscription in exchange for writing an honest review about our experience.

My kids have been using the Reading Kingdom program for about 6 weeks, and have practiced almost daily during our language arts study time since getting the program.  I am using this program with my three youngest kids, ages 6, 8, and 10.  The 8 year old is the most consistent user.  He has averaged 4.3 days per week.  The 10 year old has averaged 3 days per week.  The 6 year old has an average of 2.3 days per week.

Sometimes the 6 year old isn’t as motivated as the 8 year old and 10 year old are to sit at the computer.  I think he has stopped a few times before his lesson was completely finished for the day, and I am not sure if that reduces the average number of days counted.  I think he will become more motivated to finish each lesson as he gains more skills.

This is our second time to use this program and I can see similarities in the ages in regards to skills and motivation.  We had a subscription to Reading Kingdom three years ago and the kids learned a lot at that time and loved it.  We were excited to see how much they have improved since then.

Each child has two options when starting the program.  The first option is for those starting at the beginning level and are just learning to read.  They can start at the very beginning with the very first lesson session.  The second option is to take a placement test to find out what skills the child already knows and where they should be placed.  The placement test has two parts, a keyboard typing test and a sequencing test.

Typing & Keyboard Test

Typing & Keyboard Test

These placement tests help the parent, and the Reading Kingdom program understand what skills the student already knows, and what skills they have yet to learn.  Because Reading Kingdom is an adaptable reading program, it responds to the child’s skill level and their ongoing progress.  It also recognizes what they don’t know because of the mistakes they are making, and provides extra support and training in those areas.  This helps customize the program to their learning level.

Sequencing Test

Sequencing Test

Since he is a beginning reader, I had my 6 year old start at the beginning level without taking the placement tests.  My 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter both took the placement test.  They took the letter sequencing test and a keyboard typing test.

The placement test put the 8 year old a little above where I thought it would.  He is a strong reader and quick learner and did well on the placement test.  It placed him on Level 3.  However the 10 year old struggled more while taking the test, as it is timed and she is slower to answer even if she knows the answer, and it started her in the middle of Level 1.  Both she and I thought she would place on a higher level.  It seem to us that because she struggled with speed on the placement test is the reason why she started at a lower level, and not because she didn’t know the answer.  Though she was a bit disappointed at first, it has turned out to be good review for her to go back over many of the words and practice them, and the parent report is showing she is getting an “excellent” score on her lesson sessions.

After the tests, and placement, then each kid can begin their sessions.  The program is set up to do 1 session a day, though you can do more.  After they log in, each of my kids have a dash board that shows their progress.

On the parent dashboard, I can go in to a tab and choose to review reports, change the level or speed for responses, or even set it to retake the test if needed.  For now, I have left everything at the default speed and mainly use my dashboard to review the reports.  Reports can also be downloaded and sent by email too.  I like the parent dashboard because it gives me a basic summary of how each child is progressing, what words they are learning and what words they are struggling with.

As a parent, I know each of my kids learn differently, some are fast and some are slow at picking up certain skills.  It is nice to have a curriculum that can adapt to their learning styles.

When my kids complete a level (or test out of a level) they have the option to print a diploma certificate for that level.

I would encourage other homeschool families to check out Reading Kingdom. You can help your child achieve reading proficiency when you team up with Reading Kingdom for the Phonics Plus solution to help your child succeed.

FREE

Try before you buy with FREE Sample Lessons. Reading Kingdom also offers a FREE Trial Offer, free worksheets, and many other free resources too.  They also have special discount offers to choose from when you subscribe.

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Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Reading Kingdom.

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Ocean Waves

I am at a loss for words to describe the power and beauty of these ocean waves…

So I thought I would share a few scriptures about the Creator of the sea, our Father God.

Psalm 93:4  “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

Isaiah 51:15 “But I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The Lord of hosts is his name.”

Jeremiah 31:34-35  “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.  Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name.”

Luke 21: 25-26  “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

May you be blessed today with knowing our Father God who is the Creator God.  He created you and me and the ocean waves.

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Davy Crockett Heroes of History Review

I will never forget when I was a young girl, I used to hear my Grandma sing: “Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier.”  Thanks to Ywam Publishing, and their Heroes of History series and Unit Study Guides, I am able to teach my kids about Davy Crockett too.

Heroes of History – Davy Crockett: Ever Westward

Biography

of

David Crockett  1786-1836

Paperback Book

191 Pages

17 Chapters

Ages 10 and up

Retail: $9.99 on sale for $7.50

Davy Crockett: Ever Westward 1786–1836 is a biography of David Crockett’s life from about the time he was 10 years of age until his death.  It is written in an easy to understand way for people of all ages.  It is recommended for students age 10 and older.

Table of Contents:

This book includes 17 chapters and suggested bibliography resources.  Topics discussed in these chapters include: pioneer life, family relations, bullying, courting and marriage, forest, rivers, hunting for food, faith, education, Tennessee; Texas, militias, native American Indians, US House of Representatives, Texas Revolution, Battle of the Alamo, bushcrafting, woodsmanship, integrity, exploration conviction, hope, and determination to survive.

Below I have listed each chapter title and briefly summarized the first six chapters from the book for you to get a general idea of what we are learning about:

1. Across the World: This chapter we are introduced to a dreamer teenage boy named David who hopes to get a job as a cabin boy on a merchant ship that is hauling lumber and sailing from America to London.

2. Wilderness Life: This chapter we travel back in time to the early years of David’s life, from about 10 years of age, as his family moved to a couple locations in the state of Tennessee to set up their homestead life.  After loosing their home and belongings and a grist mill they had built to a flood, they had to move again.  In another location, they set up their home as a Tavern (with a bed and food and care of horses) for travelers. David is an excellent hunter and provides the homestead with meat.  He also chops firewood, and does other chores around their pioneer life. He also takes care of the travelers horses getting them water, food, bedding, and cleaning the mud off the horses hair if needed.

3. A Hired Hand: David’s father sends him at age 12 to help one of the travelers take his wagon, horses, and cows 400 miles East to reach his homestead in Virginia.  He has given up on the harsh Westward expansion and skirmishes with Indians and wants to return to farm life in Virginia.  After David helps him to Virginia he is kept on to work for him as a hired hand according to an arrangement his father made and didn’t tell him about.  During the winter, on his own, David up and leaves the “hired hand” job and makes his way back home.

4. The Runaway:  David makes the long journey home.  However, there are many changes including a new school with a dirt floor opens up nearby and all the Crockett boys are enrolled and their father paid for them to attend.  David fights a school bully.  David skips school and after several days his father finds out because the teacher updates his father.  His dad confronts him on the trail near the woods as he tries to skip out again the next day.  David runs off into the woods to avoid a spanking and being forced to return to school.  David gets a job driving cattle to Virginia and then another job getting wagons of goods to Baltimore.  He hopes to get a job as a cabin boy and sail the seas and see the world. But the driver of the wagons refuses to give him his pay and personal belongings, prevents him from boarding the ship, and forces him to continue working for him with the wagons.

5. The Return: The owner of the wagon train beat David with a whip in addition to preventing him from joining the ship as a cabin boy, and he forced him to continue on helping with the wagon trains.  After several undeserved beatings, David escapes from the wagon train.  He informs another wagon driver further back on the trail of what happened and this driver helps him confront the evil man and retrieve his clothes, though his money is lost forever.  David eventually becomes an apprentice to a hat maker and spends 18 months (of a 4 year commitment) learning the trade of turning animal pelts (mainly beaver pelts) into processed felt to make custom hats.  When his work ended, David was almost 16, and he was ready to see his family and make the long and dangerous journey walking over 400 miles back home.  His family is glad to see him when he returns.

6. Free and Clear: David’s father asks him to work for his creditor (s) and pay of his debts. David agrees and works first for 6 months at a tavern (fetching water, chopping firewood, and serving the travelers) and later he worked 6 months more for a farmer doing various farm chores.  In the end he had paid off both of his father’s debts.  While working for the farmer, he listened to him read the bible out loud each day and was inspired to go back to school and learn to read and write.   After the debts were paid off, he went back to work part time for the farmer and attended school.  He was 18 years old, a grown man, and back in school.  He had only had a few days of schooling in his youth before he left.  Now he was determined to learn and he learned to read and write and do math computations using a handheld chalk board called a slate and later used a quill with ink.  David falls in love with the wrong girl and it ends badly for him.  At 19 years of age, he is not sure if he will ever find a wife.

7: Answering the Call:

8. Indian Country:

9. Wandering in the Wilderness:

10. Shoal Creek:

11. Gentleman from the Cane:

12. Rutherford Fork:

13. Down the River:

14. Congressman Crockett:

15. The Lion of the West:

16. On to Texas:

17. One Last Battle:

Bibliography: Suggested books to read about David Crockett’s life.

Downloadble Unit Study – Davy Crockett: Ever Westward

Digital Unit Study

76 Pages

72 Pages Instruction Guide

4 Pages Student Worksheets

Retail $9.99  On Sale $5.49

This digital unit study guide contains several guides and everything you need to teach the book as a stand alone course, or as part of a larger course, and has several helpful organized teaching tips if you need to meet certain learning standards.  It also includes a 76 page unit study guide.  The unit study has a printable part 1 and part 2.  Part 2 is the same as Apendix C and contains the printable Social Studies Reproducibles.  Additional bonus materials are also available.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
1. Key Quotes
2. Display Corner
3. Chapter Questions (Discussion questions, these can be answered orally or written out for all 17 chapters)
4. Student Explorations (Arts & Crafts, Movies, Essay and Research Projects, etc)
5. Community Links (Field Trips, Interviews, etc)
6. Social Studies (Vocabulary, Geography, Graphs, Historical Timelines, etc)
7. Related Themes to Explore
8. Culminating Event (Special Display, Oral Presentation, or Dinner for family and friends showing off your learning adventure)
Appendix A: Books and Resources
Appendix B: Answers to Chapter Questions
Appendix C: Social Studies Reproducibles

There are lots of ways this unit study guide can enhance the learning of the material in the book.  Unit studies are cross curricular.  They blend a theme of a book, main character, or specific topic, with many subjects and cover the material from different angles and hands on exploration.

It is up to the parent or family to decide how many additional projects they want to include to expand the learning.  Some folks may want to choose just a few projects to expand the learning, and other folks may want to choose lots of research projects, movies, field trips, arts and crafts.  This unit study is flexible and can be adapted to what ever your family needs.  It is a good idea to write down what activities you want to do and where in the learning adventure you want to fit them in.

Rather than just reading the book straight through, and being done in a day or few days, the Davy Crockett Unit Study Guide easily helps stretch the learning opportunity into as many weeks as desired.  If you want it to last 17 days or about 3+ weeks, you could do a short unit study by reading a chapter and doing the related study questions each day.  Or you could do a longer unit study and read a chapter, questions, and additional related projects per week.  If you add in enough additional projects, books, field trips, etc, this unit study could possibly cover several months about 17 weeks (for 17 chapters).  Or you could possibly make this study last a whole school year of learning around a specific theme.  This unit study about Davy Crockett accommodates further studies and learning adventures in:

History
American Government
Geography
Vocabulary
Essay writing
Creative writing
Math
Science
Design
Research
Reading comprehension
Public speaking
Drama
Art
Life Skills
Bible
Character Development
and more…

Our Experience:

We received the book and the downloadable unit study guide in exchange for writing an honest review. We added several additional activities, field trips, and crafts to further facilitate this review and these added to the hands on learning experience.  The pictures below are a brief summary of some of the learning adventures we have done so far.

Some of my family has read ahead, but most of us are reading 1 chapter a week aloud together as a family, and doing the suggested discussion questions in the unit study guide as well as several fun activities.   We have been super busy with optional activities, and we are currently on Chapter 7 with another 10 chapters to go.  Whew!  It’s been a lot of fun so far!

My 13 year old son read the book cover to cover and couldn’t put it down.  The book is a great read with lots of excitement.  He loves adventures, hunting, history, and drama and has loved reading this book!

My 15 year old son is keeping pace with the rest of us.  He trades the book off with me reading a chapter at a time. He also loves the wilderness, pioneers, farming, and responsibility.  He is really enjoying this book and learning experience.

When he is finished reading a chapter, I read the book aloud to the rest of the family, including to my husband when possible.  He wants me to read ahead to him, but I tell him he has to wait on the rest of us or read ahead on his own.  He is enjoying hearing about Davy Crockett too.

Unit Study Guide Worksheets:

Beef Jerky:

Davy lived on smoked dried venison (deer jerky) and stewed venison (deer stew) during much of his life.  Though he likely made his over a campfire or fireplace, we made beef jerky with a modern method by slicing the meat into strips, marinating in a combination of apple cider vinegar and spices, and drying on a dehydrator rack.

Firewood & Building Campfire & Cooking Outside:

The kids helped collect firewood and make a campfire in the back yard.  The big boys have created two fire pits.  One is surrounded with rocks and one fire pit area is surrounded with some old bricks we had on hand.  I prefer using the one surrounded by brick when the younger kids are going to be sitting together, because it only has exposure to the fire on one side (the back and sides have brick) so it is easier to keep an eye on safety.  The rock firepit is more rustic and manly used by the big boys, or occasionally a younger sibling will sit with them too.  On the brick fire pit we put a cooking grill plate on top.  Sometimes we use the plate to hold water for making tea, soup, steak, pancakes, or baking bread.  The bricks help reflect heat for baking and to keep warm when it is a cold day or evening.  After building the fire, the kids cooked beef hot dogs and sat by the fire late into the evening watching the embers glow.  We are gathering recipes and ingredients and have plans to do a hole lot more outdoor cooking projects before our unit study is through.

Creek Exploration:

Davy crossed many creeks and rivers in his journeys.

River Exploration:

We did not try to cross a river, but we enjoyed going to the waters edge and making observations, and exploring the surrounding forest.

Wild Foraging – Edible Plants for Food and Medicine:

We collected several plants, ate some fresh in salad, dried some, and froze some for using in various ways such as sweet jams and home remedies.  I wrote another post about this experience for this unit study.

Collecting Pine Buds, Pine Needles, and Pine Pollen.

Collecting Dandelion Flowers and Greens.

Collecting Rose Hips and checking on status of new wild roses about to bloom.

Collecting Fresh Wild Rose Petals

Collecting Mint.

I have a half barrel planter on the back porch filled with mint and flowers.  It was perfect for my youngest son to practice his harvesting skills.

Hunting Archery Practice:

Dad helped all of the kids practice shooting a long bow.  It shoots with about 25lbs of pressure, much less than the larger versions.  I found this smaller long bow at the sporting goods store for about $20 and it came with three arrows and a quiver too. We picked up some extra arrows to practice with. It worked out great.

Gold Rush Investigations:

We took a trip to see a real gold town that was part of the Westward Expansion and gold rush of the early 1800’s in North Carolina.

Candle Making:

The kids practiced making candles outside.  They melted wax and dipped cotton string into it and hung it up to dry.

My oldest son also made another version of a bushcraft candle with a match wrapped in paper (paper towels or toilet paper work great) and dipped into wax.  These waxed candle matches are used to start campfires because they burn a long time like a candle.

Leather Working:

The older boys made a leather bag from cow hide and gave it to Dad for his birthday.  Several months ago, Dad helped one of the boys make a bag and a sheath.  Now that same boy taught his brother how to make a leather bag for dad.  I will post additional stories about these projects, but here are a few pictures.

The boys also enlisted Dad’s help to make a knife sheath.  This project isn’t finished yet.

The younger kids also made a Native American style leather bag.  We bought leather shamios for cleaning cars.  These were 3′ x 3′ size leather hides available at most local stores that were tanned with cod oil, and they were $8 a piece.  They are a lot thinner than the cow leather the older boys use to creating sheaths and bags with, but they were softer for younger kids to handle and more affordable.  We bought three for the younger kids to practice making pioneer and Native American Indian related crafts with.

So far, they learned to make a leather bag and decorate it with beads.

Here is big brother helping little brother with this project. They made a paper template and then traced it onto the leather before cutting it out.

They used several tools to create this leather project.

Then end product is adorable.  They sewed it by hand.  The sides are stiched in two rows and they left a flap for the lid.  They attached a tassel and beads for decoration.  This bag will hold herbs, jerkey, and lots of different things.
We will be making more crafts with these pieces of leather as we continue the unit study.

Movies:

We have had a few movie nights.  We sat down together including all of the kids and my husband and watched a few episodes of Davy Crockett from the TV series in the 1960’s.

We have also watched several documentaries for movie night that were fantastic!

We also watched a pioneer and native American Indian movie and plan to see a few more with this theme.

These movies really peaked everyone’s interest and they have all been so attentive to listen to the book and learn more.   We have had so much fun!

So far we have watched:

  • Davy Crockett TV Series
  • Davy Crockett Song Lyrics
  • Davy Crockett Documentary – The Legend of Davy Crockett – The Incredible Journey
  • “Not Yours to Give” Davy Crockett’s Speech before the House
  • Davy Crockett and the Alamo Documentary – Battle of the Alamo – The Incredible Journey
  • Follow the River (shares many of the same topics of pioneers, farming, exploration and Westward Expansion, trade, and hunter gatherers, strained relations with Native American Indians).

Building Diarama’s and Story Telling:

The kids have had a ton of fun creating with Legos, Lincoln logs, Popsicle sticks and retelling the stories from Davy Crockett’s life. They used many of these creations to decorate their display table.

Display Table:

The kids set up a display table in the living room.  They will continue to add to the display as we go through the chapters of the book and unit study.  We need a bigger table!

Lapbook:

We also made Davy Crockett themed lapbook notebooks.

I used the worksheets from the downloadable Unit Study Guide as the foundation (biography page, timeline, maps), and then added a lot of history minibooks, worksheets, vocabulary, coloring pages, and more.

To make the lapbook notebooks, I took several file folders, cut them in half along the seam, then hole punched them and inserted them into 3 ring binders for each of the kids.  This makes a handy way to store all of their written projects, a nice keepsake of their learning adventure, and a visual way to share what they have learned with others.

So far we have made lapbook folder pages Davy Crockett, pioneer life including vocabulary, Conestoga wagons, care of horses, plants and animals found in the forest and midwest, one on the state of Tennessee (flags, animals, birds, trees, symbols, etc), one on modes of transportation during this time in history (wagons, horses, walking, boat, etc), a lapbook folder page on the sate of Texas (flags, animals, birds, trees, symbols, etc), and then one on the Alamo that includes a minibook of the mission where the battle took place, people, and the history.

Future Plans:

I haven’t figured out all of the additional activities we will do to further the learning with the unit study, but a few will include:

  • primitive skills kits (I purchased making birch bark baskets, learning to make cordage from plants, and learning to make various survival traps)
  • quilting
  • embroidery
  • how to: knot tying
  • plant, tend, and harvest a garden
  • visit a living history farm
  • ride in a horse drawn wagon
  • ride a horse
  • ride in a boat
  • sketch a log cabin scene
  • sketch or paint a forest or river scene
  • visit the Cherokee Indian Reservation
  • visit the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina & Tennessee
  • visit the Smoky mountains of Tennessee
  • visit a grist mill
  • make homemade butter
  • cook deer stew and johnny cakes
  • make dandelion jam
  • make dried mint for tea
  • make a plantain healing salve
  • make homemade soap
  • wash clothes outside and hang them from tree to dry
  • learn to make felt from sheep wool
  • learn to make ink and write with a quill pen
  • camp overnight outside
  • go fishing for dinner
  • target practice with muzzle loader and sling shot (we did this last year when we studied about Daniel Boone and plan to do it again).
  • target practice with tomahawk and throwing knives.

This unit study project is a work in progress, as we are still working through the book and unit study and creating lapbook notebooks while adding more activities and field trips as we go.  We will continue on learning with this through out the rest of the spring and summer.

This has been a blast of fun and has turned out to be a very nice learning adventure for the whole family.  We have reviewed Heroes of History Daniel Boone: Frontiersman and Heroes of History Billy Graham: America’s Pastor and have really enjoy these books and the corresponding unit study guides and fun activities (arts and crafts, movies, field trips, worksheets, maps, books, etc).  I highly recommend homeschool families to check out the Heroes of History!

HEROES OF HISTORY

Heroes of History covers 7 periods of American History. Using Ywam Heroes of History books can help parents and teachers encourage and expand a students understanding of history and the people who helped make it happen.

  • The Beginnings of a Nation (4 books)
  • The Establishment of a Nation (3 books)
  • The Exploration of a Nation (3 books)
  • The Fracturing of a Nation (3 books)
  • The Growth of a Nation (3 books)
  • The Inspiration of a Nation (4 books)
  • The Future of a Nation (5 books)

Ywam Publishing continues to add more books to their  Heroes of History series.  They currently have 29 books that make a great edition to every homeschool family’s library.  This is a biography series of true stories of men and women who changed the course of history for the better.

Heroes of History series has 29 books.  Here are their titles listed in alphabetical order:

  • Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom
  • Alan Shepard: Higher and Faster
  • Ben Carson: A Chance at Life
  • Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire
  • Benjamin Rush: The Common Good
  • Billy Graham: America’s Pastor
  • Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea
  • Clara Barton: Courage Under Fire
  • Daniel Boone: Frontiersman
  • Davy Crockett: Ever Westward
  • Douglas MacArthur: What Greater Honor
  • Elizabeth Fry: Angel of Newgate
  • Ernest Shackleton: Going South
  • George Washington: True Patriot
  • George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist
  • Harriet Tubman: Freedombound
  • John Adams: Independence Forever
  • John Smith: A Foothold in the New World
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Storybook Life
  • Louis Zamperini: Redemption
  • Meriwether Lewis: Off the Edge of the Map
  • Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate
  • Orville Wright: The Flyer
  • Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side
  • Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original
  • Thomas Edison: Inspiration and Hard Work
  • William Bradford: Plymouth’s Rock
  • William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All
  • William Wilberforce: Take Up the Fight

They also have another Biography series called Christian Heroes: Then & Now that covers a lot more than American History, World History, World Geography, and the spread of the Christian Faith worldwide.  A portion of every sale at Ywam Publishing goes to help Ywam Missions spread the gospel around the world.  They have a total of 47 books in this series so far.

  • Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma
  • Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems
  • Betty Greene: Wings to Serve
  • Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent
  • Cameron Townsend: Good News in Every Language
  • Charles Mulli: We are Family
  • Clarence Jones: Mr. Radio
  • Corrie ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels’ Den
  • Count Zinzendorf: First Fruit
  • C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller
  • C.T. Studd: No Retreat
  • David Bussau: Facing the World Head-on
  • David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In the Midst of Wickedness
  • D.L Moody: Bringing Souls to Christ
  • Elisabeth Elliot: Joyful Surrender
  • Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold
  • Florence Young: Mission Accomplished
  • Francis Asbury: Circuit Rider
  • George Müller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans
  • Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime
  • Hudson Taylor: Deep in the Heart of China
  • Ida Scudder: Healing Bodies, Healing Hearts
  • Isobel Kuhn: On the Roof of the World
  • Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies
  • Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose
  • John Flynn: Into the Never Never
  • John Newton: Change of Heart
  • John Wesley: The World His Parish
  • John Williams: Messenger of Peace
  • Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China
  • Klaus-Dieter John: Hope in the Land of the Incas
  • Lillian Trasher: The Greatest Wonder in Egypt
  • Loren Cunningham: Into All the World
  • Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China
  • Mary Slessor: Forward Into Calabar
  • Mildred Cable: Through the Jade Gate
  • Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer
  • Paul Brand: Helping Hands
  • Rachel Saint: A Star in the Jungle
  • Richard Wurmbrand: Love Your Enemies
  • Rowland Bingham: Into Africa’s Interior
  • Samuel Zwemer: The Burden of Arabia
  • Sundar Singh: Footprints Over the Mountains
  • Wilfred Grenfell: Fisher of Men
  • William Booth: Soup, Soap, and Salvation
  • William Carey: Obliged to Go

These books and corresponding Unit Study Guides from Ywam Publishing are wonderful.  There is a huge variety of people and topic options to learn about.  Here is a sneak peak of a few of the unit study guides, but be sure to check out their website for more.

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How To Make DIY Art Journals

My daughter made some lovely art journals recently.  She made some to give as gifts and some to use for herself.  She watched a few tutorials online and then wanted to make her own.

How To Make DIY Art Journals

First, she gathered the materials and tools needed.  She used resources we had on hand.  She used recycled cereal boxes and granola bar boxes, glue, paper, decorative ribbons, foam stickers, pen, pencil, ruler, scissors, hole punch, cotton swabs, and markers for this project.   She has plans to make more varieties of art journals using different fabric covers, beads, and sequins too.

Next she cut different sizes of boxes open, laid them flat and trimmed off what she did not need.  Then she laid them flat on the paper to measure and leave a ledge of paper for folding over and cut off any excess paper.  Then she glued the cardboard to the paper. Then folded over the ledge, creased the paper ledge, and glued the folded over portion to the cardboard.

She tried two different applications for glue.  She tried using liquid glue spread with a q-tip on some of her projects, and she used an extra strength glue stick on another projects.  She said both types of glue worked fine, but the glue stick dried a little nicer than the liquid glue as it tended to leave a wrinkle if she applied too much.

Next she cut different lined and colored papers to the desired size.  She used a variety of plain, colored, and lined paper to create lots of opportunities for sketches, water color paintings, doodle art, and areas to write her thoughts on.

She hole punched the papers, and the outside covers.

Then she attached the papers to the cover with ribbon.

She inserted the ribbon through the holes and lined up the papers and repeated this a couple of times.

After several times of inserting the ribbon with her fingers, she found it was much easier to insert the ribbon with a large sewing needle.

These little books are so fun to make.  Besides using these for art journals or writing journals and giving them as gifts, they would also make wonderful ABC books for younger kids, or use to write a story book, or make them into prayer journals too.

Next she decorated the outside of the art journals.  On some of the journals she used foam stickers and ribbons, and on others she also used Magic Stix Markers by The Pencil Grip to make her designs.

Be sure to read the post about our experience using these markers to find out more.

She added in mini-pockets and mini-envelopes to the inside covers of some of the journals.

In some of those she plans to store special items like admission tickets to museums or pictures from flyers from she visits and in others she wants to put a pencil and eraser for sketching.

We also cut out some one time use watercolor paint pallets from unused activity books.  You can find these at most stores in the dollar or coloring book section.

With these one time use paint pallets, all she needs is a dab of water and either a cotton swab or a paint brush.  She can paint lovely watercolor pictures with the six colors that are included, and then throw away the little slip of paper and swab when the paint is used up.

We eventually plan to make reusable watercolor paint pallets with up cycled Altoid Tins and various lids, gum containers, and pill boxes.  These are so cute!

These portable paint kits could be held in place inside her art journal with a rubber band or elastic ribbon.

In the future, she would like to add stamps, fabric and lace, buttons, beads, and sequins too.  She will use her hot glue gun for embellishing the journals with these things.

 I am sure she will have a lot of fun filling these books with colorful thoughts and art projects.

These DIY portable art journals were simple to make and turned out so cute!

Below are a few videos that might give you more ideas in creating your own DIY journals.

and

and

Have fun making your journal and be blessed!

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Exploring Creation With Human Anatomy and Physiology Review

Apologia Educational Ministries is one of our favorite homeschool curriculum publishers.  One of the reasons we love Apologia so much is that their curriculum gives glory to Father God our Creator, and they teach all of their subjects, including science, from a Christian worldview.

We are excited to tell you about our experience using the Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology by Apologia for our science studies.

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology

1 year Science Curriculum

Text

Audio CD (Text Read Aloud)

Notebooking Journal

Junior Notebooking Journal

Apologia has created four components for this curriculum.  Students typically use three of the four components depending on their age and skill level.   There is a Text book, an Audio CD, and two different age/skill options for the student Notebooking Journal.

Text:

The text book is a hardback book with 265 illustrated pages.  This curriculum covers the anatomy and physiology of the human body.  This course text book is suggested for use with kids in Kindergarten through 6th grade.  Younger students may need the course read to them or if they have begun to learn to read but still need support, they can follow along with the Audio CD, where other students who are strong readers may not need the additional support.

Also older students (junior and senior high) may find this course beneficial too if they haven’t previously studied this material or to use it as review. Apologia has other science courses they recommend for older students.  However it is my opinion that this introductory course is very informative, contains lots of pictures, and covers a large amount of material that students of all ages (even adults) will benefit from reading.

Lessons:

There are 14 HUGE lesson modules covered in this curriculum. Each lesson module has two full weeks of lessons and science experiments within and is suggested to be used at least twice a week.  At this pace, it is expected for the curriculum to last about 28 +/- weeks or a full school year.

Lesson Modules covered include:

Lesson 1: Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
Lesson 2: The Skeletal System
Lesson 3: The Muscular System
Lesson 4: The Digestive and Renal Systems
Lesson 5: Health and Nutrition
Lesson 6: The Respiratory System
Lesson 7: Life in the Blood
Lesson 8: The Cardiovascular System
Lesson 9: The Nervous and Endocrine Systems
Lesson 10: The Nervous System Extended
Lesson 11: Your Senses
Lesson 12:The Integumentary System
Lesson 13: The Lymphatic and Immune Systems
Lesson 14: Growth and Development

Contained within each lesson are components that encourage narration (both written and oral retelling of what has been learned), “Try This” mini-experiments, notebooking journal activities, a personal person project (a paper body model), and at the end of each lesson, students complete various projects and experiments.  Each lesson covers different information, but follows the same overall format.

A “Materials List” is included in the front of the Text book and each lesson also lists out the specific items needed to complete the projects and experiments.  There are suppliers for materials if you want a pre-made kit too.  To further the learning, students are given access to a course website for what is called “book extras” if students desire to dig deeper into learning more than what is covered in the text.

Audio CD

The Audio CD is an audio recording of the course read aloud by the author, Jeannie Fulbright.   Using this CD enhances the learning even more because it gives another way for the brain to receive and remember the information.

This CD is beneficial for students who are auditory learners who prefer using more than just a textbook, is helpful for slow readers, or others who may have learning disabilities that make reading difficult.  This Audio CD is also great for the whole family to listen and enjoy together too.

This is an MP3-CD and in order to listen to it, you must play it in an MP3-compatible CD player or on a computer.

Student Notebooking Journals:

Apologia offers two age/skill level student journals with this course to choose from. One of the journals is called the Anatomy Notebooking Journal and one is called the Junior Anatomy Notebooking Journal (note the word “Junior” in front of the other words).

Both notebooking journals are huge soft cover illustrated spiral bound books.  They both have a suggested schedule for the school year.  They both are filled with worksheets and fun hands on activities and projects.  They both cover similar materials and review the material learned in the text book lessons.

The Anatomy Notebooking Journal (designed for grades 3-6) contains 202 activity and review pages, plus 65 mini-book (cut, fold, glue, fill in the blank) pages and template pages.

The Junior Anatomy Notebooking Journal (designed for grades K-2) contains 230 activity, coloring, and review pages, plus 67 mini-book (cut, fold, and glue) pages and template pages.

Both notebooking journals are filled with activity and review worksheets and mini-books and templates.  Sections in the student journal include:

  • Lesson Plan Suggested Schedule
  • Fascinating Facts
  • What Do You Remember? Review Questions
  • Notbooking Assignments, Ativities, and Projects
  • Scripture Copywork
  • Vocabulary Crosswords
  • Project Pages
  • Cut and Fold Miniature Books
  • More To Explore (experiments and activities, additional book and DVD suggestions)
  • Field Trip Sheets
  • Final Review: 50 Review Questions that can be answered orally or in writing.
  • Answer key included.

The main difference in the two journals is that the regular student Anatomy Notebooking Journal has a higher level of writing expected on the assignments and projects, and it uses challenging crossword puzzles to go over vocabulary words and definitions.  There is less writing assignments in the Junior Anatomy Notebooking Journal, flashcard style mini-books and simple crossword puzzles are used to review the vocabulary words (students cut out the word and glue it like a flap onto the definition), and the Junior version includes lots of coloring pages.

Our Experience

We love using Apologia products in our homeschool.  I am thankful for these resources to help teach my kids all about Father God’s creation, the human body.

We were sent all four components of this course for this review.  We used both of the student journals.   My 9 year old son used the Junior Anatomy Notebooking Journal and my 13 year old son used the Anatomy Notebooking Journal.  My other children enjoyed watching their brothers do various science experiments and have requested to join in the learning fun. I intend to purchase additional journals for my other children to use for this coming school year.

Here are just a few examples of our Anatomy and Physiology learning adventure.  These pictures are a few examples of what my kids learned in lessons 2, 4, 5, 6, and 10.  Each lesson module covers different information, but follows the overall same format.

Text and Audio CD Lessons

My 9 year old son starts out each lesson with the Text book and Audio CD.  He places the CD into the computer and uses his earbuds to listen to the lesson.

A menu pops up on the screen to help you choose the lesson, but there are no pictures or video, so he has to follow along in the text book.

My 13 year old starts out each lesson with his text book and journal.  He is a strong reader and doesn’t prefer to use the Audio CD.

However, my 9 year old loves using the Audio CD and it has helped him gain more understanding and helped reinforce how things are pronounced and helped him move through the material at a good pace.

Try This Experiments

The kids can pause within the lesson as needed, or go back after they are done reading, to complete the suggested “Try This” experiments scattered through out the lesson.

Digestive System – measuring length of small intestines:

Digestive System – stomach simulation:

What Do You Remember?

Then we do the “What Do You Remember?” narrative.  These discussion questions help summarize the lesson and encourage the kids to put what they have learned into their own words.

Journal Activities

Next we completed the Notebooking Journal activities.  If you don’t have the Apologia Notebooking Journals, you can answer the Text questions from the lesson and do the suggested activity in just a regular notebook.

However, the Apologia Notebooking Journals have so much more to offer.  They are filled with pre-printed worksheets and hands on activities.

I would recommend you get these journals to go with the learning experience.

Some of the worksheets included are scientific speculation forms, project forms, fascinating facts, vocabulary mini-books, body organ mini-books, coloring pages, vocabulary crossword puzzles, diagrams to label, bible scripture copy work, and more.

Copywork examples from my 9 year old’s journal:

Copywork and Vocabulary Crossword examples from my 13 year old’s journal:

Personal Person Project

Next we added the body part we learned about to the Personal Person Project in the Anatomy and Junior Anatomy Notebooking Journals. If you don’t have a pre-made journal, there are directions so you can make your own person and body organ systems and add them to a homemade journal.  At the end of most of the lessons, a new body part gets added.

Experiments

The last thing to complete is the main experiment (s) or project at the end of the lesson.  These experiments are in addition to the many “Try This” experiments scattered through out the lessons. There is at least one main experiment or project at the end of each lesson, and sometimes two or more.  The experiments and projects at the end of each lesson communicate the overall learning experience and knowledge of the lesson.

Respiratory System Experiments – 1) lung and diaphragm model  2) visual lung capacity:

A Few More Explorations and Learning Fun:

We had a few props on hand to use as models.  It makes learning even more fun and interesting for kids to have a lesson related prop next to them while they study.

We used a magnifying glass to examine a plastic skeleton, plastic lungs and respiratory system, and a plastic skull and brain.

The kids made a head with a face from a plastic skull, playdough for connective tissue, a pencil sharpener nose, bouncy balls for eyes, a plastic mini-brain from a game, and a Mr. Potato Head mustache.  They played around with their model they created and also used a magnifying glass to check it out.

They have also used playdough for skin and covered the skull with it. But I didn’t get a picture of it.  I think we will come up with something else we can use for skin, perhaps we can find a lightly colored but transparent plastic bag material.  They also have a huge plastic tooth, a plastic liver, and a few other props not pictured that they used for some of their investigations.

Materials

Several materials are needed to complete the experiments.  In the front of the Textbook is a Master List of items needed for each chapter.  Most of these items for experiments are easily acquired either from your own cabinets and pantry or from the local store.  In addition to the items you need for experiments for this course, you might also have some things on hand you can use a props such as toys, puzzles, games, or books on your shelves that can enhance the learning too.

However, there are various pre-made science supply kits sold by different suppliers online that contain most of the items all in one kit or box.  These kits can save you time and makes doing these experiments very simple when you have everything you need all in one box and you don’t have to go and find each item.  You can find these science kit suppliers by doing a a quick google search for “Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Science Kit”.

Final Thoughts:

My family has truly enjoyed using Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology.   This course covers a lot of information.  The Textbook, Notebooking Journals and Audio CD are well made.  This course encourages lots of hands on suggestions and explorations which makes learning fun for kids.

Apologia Educational Ministries offers wonderful science programs for students of all ages.  Their curriculum has won numerous awards and is well respected in the homeschool community.   I would encourage other homeschool families to check out these courses, and see what products Apologia has to offer to meet their needs.

Check out this video to learn more about Apologia Science courses. Apologia has many more wonderful products in other subject areas too.

Here are a few links to other Apologia products we have reviewed in our home.

Exploring Creation With Marine Biology

Internship for High School Credit

Where To Buy Exploring Creation With Human Anatomy and Physiology

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Text (for grades K – 6)

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Junior Notebooking Journal (for grades K – 3)

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology Notebooking Journal (for grades 3 and up)

Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology MP3 Audio CD (audio recording of the text)

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Signs of Spring

I love taking nature walks.  I was noticing on my walks lately how many beautiful signs of spring had appeared.  In addition to making observations, sometimes I enjoy gathering a few safe wild edibles for making teas and other nutritious foods too.  Spring is the perfect time of the year to start hunting and gathering.

It is amazing to think about how the pioneers survived on many of these wild edibles, and they must have been so happy when spring appeared with new growth and wild foods to sustain them after the cold winter.

My kids are currently working on a Pioneer Unit Study about Davy Crockett and they just finished a unit study on Pine Trees.  This was great timing for our spring nature walk and their unit studies to coincide together and enhance their learning experience.

Dandelion is beautiful, edible, and medicinal.  

We love dandelion lemonade and dandelion tea.  Dandelion has edible flowers, leaves, and roots.   Every spring and early summer I gather as much fresh young dandelion leaves as I can to make fresh salads and stir fries and flower heads to make tea and lemonade.

Dandelion is a great substitution for cooked spinach.  I like to chop up a handful and added into recipes that call for spinach.  My grandparents ate dandelion leaves several times a week for their lunch and called it wilted lettuce.  They used a source of fat like bacon in a skillet and when it was cooked they added the dandelion greens and cooked them until they were wilted.  Grandpa always had fresh greens and garden produce all spring summer and fall.

In addition to using dandelion for tea, lemonade, and as a spinach substitute, we have made dandelion jelly and dandelion cookies in the past.  I have never harvested the roots for coffee myself, but I have purchased pre-made dandelion coffee before and it tastes similar to coffee.  I also personally use dandelion supplements in a capsule as needed to keep my kidneys and bladder in good working condition.  The dandelion can help the body release excess water and stimulate urination.  There is a time of the month when women’s bodies tend to store additional fluids and they feel bloated and the dandelion is an excellent resource for using a few days of the month for helping to reduce the extra water.

This year my goal is to make a dandelion syrup for multiple uses.  I plan to can it and then keep an opened jar in the fridge for use by the spoonful as needed.  It will be a great healthy addition to salad dressings, drinks, smoothies, pancakes, and more.

Violets are beautiful, edible, and medicinal. 

Violet flowers are delicious and fragrant in salads, teas, and the leaves can be used as a substitute for cooked spinach and used in stir-fry.  The flowers are often used as a fragrance and in soothing aroma baths.  The roots are also used as medicine.

Wild onions, chives, and garlic plants.  

The entire plant of wild onion, chives and garlic are used the same ways domesticated varieties are used both as a food and medicinal.

Pine buds, pine pollen, and pine needles.

Pine needles make a delicious citrus flavor tea full of vitamins, especially vitamin C.  Pine buds and pine pollen are full of protein and an array of amino acids.

Sometimes I take these nature walks by myself, but most of the time, one or more of my kids want to go for a walk with me.  We really enjoy these walks.

Walking around today, with the mindset thinking what the pioneers might of looked for and gathered for food and medicine made this walk even more exciting.

We also found beautiful butterflies flying above our head already. The weather was still too cool for much flight for them and they landed often to rest.  We followed this one for quite a ways in the yard, bushes, and trees.  It often stopped to rest.

Wild Roses

The roses are leafing out and starting to bud.  They also still have a few rose hips left from last season and we nibbled on these.  They are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, especially vitamin C.

Wild grape

The grapes had fully leafed out and bloomed fragrant yellow flowers before most of the other trees even had leaves or buds.

My daughter enjoyed collecting the fragrant flowers from the wild grapes that had already fallen to the ground.

Potentilla 

Potentilla are also called cinquefoil and the leaves and flowers look similar to wild strawberries, but they have a yellow flower instead of a white flower.  They have red fruit that looks like a strawberry, but they are flavorless.  I would describe eating their fruit like eating a lovely red strawberry that tastes like water, no flavor and no aroma.  The flowers, fruit, and leaves are edible in salads and the roots are used as medicine.

There were so many beautiful treasures to find.  Some were so tiny you had to look very closely to see.

Wild Clover

Beautiful patches of red and white wild clover has popped up everywhere.  There are no blooms yet so I can’t tell which is the red and which ones are the white, but there are several varieties of leaf patterns in these plants.  Some are more solid green with a lighter green veragation.

Other clover patches have leaves that are veragated with green and white.

Another patch has a yellow and green verragated pattern.  So pretty!

Even in areas that seems dead or barely growing, little signs of spring flowers have appeared.

Now that it is spring, we need to start working on our gardens.

Today we removed weeds from the gardens and applied rich compost we made.

Spring surprise!  A lovely patch of volunteer lettuce!  This is going to be delicious in a salad!

Mint has returned too and is doing well.

We also found some carrots returning from last year.  We harvested one and it was nearly 5 inches long already!

Barrel planters filled with pansies have made it through the late frosts.  The flowers are stunning!

Enjoy the bounty and blessings of spring!

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Princess Cut Watchman Pictures Review

Do you enjoy wholesome family movies?  Watchman Pictures strives to produce wholesome movies that glorify Father God. They sent us Princess Cut, True Love Is Worth The Wait for our family to review and share our honest opinion about our experience with you.

Princess Cut

Princess Cut

True Love Is Worth The Wait

Movie DVD

Award Winning

Family Friendly

Christian Drama

Romance Story

Run Time: 97 minutes

Rated: Family Approved, 12+

DVD contains the movie plus special features:
The Making Of Princess Cut, Discussion Guide, Deleted Scenes, Blooper Reel, Behind The Scenes, and Film Trailers.

This story is about a young woman named Grace Anderson and her family.  She has reached adulthood and is longing to get married.  She grew up with her family on a farm in a small town in North Carolina.  She longs to have a relationship like her parents have, and she is looking forward to wearing a beautiful wedding ring with a full carrot “Princes Cut” diamond.

Grace has been dating a young man for over a year.  Just when she thinks he is going to propose at dinner with a group of his college friends, he announces he is getting married, but it is to someone else.  She realizes she is just another “friend” hearing the announcement.  Grace leaves the dinner broken hearted.

This event leaves her emotionally vulnerable and sends her into a string of troublesome events as she struggles to find a potential mate and almost makes a really bad choice with someone who doesn’t value sexual purity before marriage.  She doubts her faith and questions whether or not God wants her to be happy or married.

It takes Grace a while to learn to trust God for her future mate and stay true to her convictions.  Grace is easily affected by the opinions of her friends, a counselor, and other people’s advice, and is often confused about her future.  During her journey, she finds several “Mr. Wrong” (s) in her quest to find true love.

The guidance and faith of her Father, and the love of her family, is what helps guide her to a place of trusting God and making the right decision about choices she faces and finding true peace and happiness and true love.  In the end, she does trust God to show her the way and she finds true love with “Mr. Right” and receives the wedding ring that has been her lifelong dream.

The cast of actors in this film did a good job portraying their character and communicating the message of this movie.  Actors staring in the film include:  Ashley Bratcher (Grace Anderson), Rusty Martin, Sr. (Jim Anderson), Jenn Gotzon (Brooke McClaren), Joseph Gray (Clint Masters),  Mimi Sagadin (Katherine Anderson), Cory Assink (Jared Cunningham).

Princess Cut was written by Paul and Sheilah Munger, produced by Paul Munger, and directed by Paul Munger from Watchman Pictures.  This movie was filmed in North Carolina.  Paul was homeschooled and many of the people who helped make this film were also homeschooled.

Movie Trailer:

Check out this Movie Trailer:

Our Experience:

This movie came into our life at a unique time.  It is our 27th wedding anniversary.  We have been talking with our kids about dating, marriage, and what it was like for us in our journey to find each other, and how God directed our path.  Most of the people we knew growing up were not able to stay married and eventually divorced, which is not surprising given that the USA has over a 50% divorce rate.  We are thankful we yielded our life to Father God early in our journey, and we have had a good marriage and life together that has been blessed by God.  Following Father God and his son Jesus Christ has made a huge difference in our life.

Our family watched this movie together (Dad, Mom, and kids ages 17, 15, 13, 10, 9, 6).  This was the only picture I had of my 9 year old watching the movie, and he blinked at that moment I took this picture and his eyes look closed, but he was awake and taking it all in.  My camera ran out of battery after I took this picture so I couldn’t retake it of him watching the movie, and I also did not get a picture of two more brothers sitting on the other side of dad.

We enjoyed watching this movie. We have several teens, preteens, and younger kids in our household and we were all able to enjoy watching this movie together.  It was nice to be able to sit together and watch a movie with a Christian message and talk about it afterwards.  This movie seemed to be just the right message to share with our whole family at this time in our life.

Further the learning:

This movie would make a nice unit study, and lap book experience for homeschoolers.  Unit Studies are our preferred method of learning about various subjects because it is hands on and immerses a person into the subject to dig deeper. This movie has a lot of subject matter to cover, bible study opportunities, and vocabulary words that kids could study.  There is a short Discussion Guide with few questions included in the DVD and also information on the website to further the learning.   We used these segments to further our family discussions of the topics, and we added a few activities to further the learning.  However, I am contemplating creating an in-depth unit study and bible study to go with it too.

For now,  we talked about diamonds and what a “princess cut” diamond is. We discussed different kinds of wedding rings, and looked at my wedding ring that has a small stone to see what a diamond in a ring looks like.  We watched a video about how to find diamonds and then we did a little rock hound hunt in some dirt and sand from the nearby creek to see if we could find raw diamonds, but we did not find any.  We found some small clear rocks that look similar though.  Also I found some coloring pages online of a diamond and a diamond ring for the younger kids to color.

We might take a field trip to the area where the movie was filmed.  It was filmed in Winston-Salem, East Bend, Lewisville, & Pelham, NC and we could look for the Oakhaven Farm.  We have been to visit the Winston-Salem area in the past.  It is beautiful and filled with lots of history and beautiful scenery.  I think the kids would really enjoy going back there on a field trip to see the area where the movie was filmed.  Other related field trips might include a fishing trip, a visit to a jewelry store, visiting a farm planted with soybeans, and attending a harvest festival.

Our family could relate to the small town and farm life portrayed in this movie.  We have farmed and lived in small towns in several states most of our lives.  We have enjoyed the farming community and some of the festivals celebrated.  We especially enjoy the local fairs and harvest festivals.  Our favorite harvest festival we have visited so far is the Strawberry Festivals in Indiana, and the Apple Festival and Farm Days in Hendersonville, NC.  Our favorite country fairs we have visited is in Fair Play South Carolina and Wayne County Indiana.

Like Grace Anderson, we have lived in old farmhouses and baked a lot of cookies, breads, pies, and comfort foods, and ate a lot of meals around a large table just as they did in this movie.  It would be fun to find out what they prepared for meals and the cookies they baked and we could include cooking projects that relate to the movie in a unit study.

There is a special point in the movie when the family joins together to harvest a crop of soybeans from the field by hand when their harvest machine broke down. They were willing to pull together as a family and do the hard work of the harvest by hand, because their livelihood depends on it and without the harvest, they could loose their farm. Eventually the harvester is fixed and they are able to finish their harvest with equipment.  We are familiar with farming.  We have raised livestock, hay, corn, and produce.  We have watched neighbors raise soybeans, though we have not raised them ourselves, we were still able to relate to the farming aspect of the character’s lives.

One of my son’s lives and breaths everything farming.  He looked up the automobiles and tractors used in the movie.

There are clips in the movie of the Dad working on his tractor and at other times the neighbor also helps work on the tractor that broke down.  In his research, my son found the harvester was a John Deer 4420 Combine Harvester made in the early 80’s.

Also there was an older farm truck and two newer trucks in the movie.

He discovered the older one was a 1972 Chevrolet C20.  The family’s newer truck (not pictured here) was a 2014 Ford F-150 FX4.  The neighbor’s truck (not pictured here) was a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT.

My son loves tractors, trucks and everything to do with farming and he desires to own his own farm and get married and raise a family on a farm someday.  The message of this movie spoke to his heart.  He really enjoyed this movie.

We talked about wedding vows and what it means to commit to them and to each other before God and witnesses.  We talked about why it is important to be equally yoked with someone who also believes in Father God and his son Jesus Christ, and to let Father God have control over this area of our life, and to wait on him to show us who to marry.

Using an online bible with search tools, we found several verses in the scriptures about love, marriage, weddings, faithfulness, purity, fornication and sin, forgiveness, diamonds and other gems, family, etc to read and some passages to use for copy work.

Final Thoughts: 

We enjoyed this movie and highly recommend it.  It has a good message and the characters are people that everyone can relate too.  This movie would be great to give away as gifts too.  I would especially encourage folks with teens and young adults to watch it because of the message of trusting God with your life, purity, integrity, the peace of mind that comes from trusting God to help you find your mate, and giving God complete control.

Watchman Pictures

It is rare in our culture to find exciting movies that discuss real life events with a biblical worldview.  Most movies today are filled with fantasies, cursing, sorcery, sexual immorality, murder and gore, and are antiChrist.  However, there are movie producers out there with a message that points people back to God and family.

Paul Munger

Writer, Producer, Director

Watchman Pictures is a film company created by Paul Munger.   Some of the films he has worked on include:

Princess Cut
Alone Yet Not Alone
Hero
Animals In The Bible
Homeschooling Answers
An Introduction to Spell To Write and Read
Hidden Secrets To Language Success
Flood, Special Edition

I found the description of Paul Munger from various sources to be very interesting.  On the Princess Cut website, I found a news article that mentions he was homeschooled and had the help of several homeschoolers on producing the Princess Cut film.  On his Watchman Pictures website, he said he sees himself as a watchman, and his name actually means “humble watchman”.  He said the goal of a watchman is to sound the alarm for people to pay attention, to announce something or someone important, to get the people to prepare.

Isaiah 21:6, “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”

Paul stated he desires to produce films and help upcoming film students create films on a wide variety of subjects, from a Christian worldview, that will entertain families while building godly Christian character.  He hopes his films will evangelize the lost and bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I also found these statements and scriptures about the person he is and what his mission is on his Watchman Pictures website.  Clearly he desires to point people to God:

“The mission of Watchman Pictures, then, is very simple, good stories well told, that communicate powerful ideas based on Truth, that entertains and edifies the viewer. All of this I will do in full dependence upon the Lord’s providence and gracious empowering, for without Him I can do nothing.”

Psalm 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

Be sure to go to his “About” page at Watchman Pictures to read more about his company, the services they offer, films in development, and the films he has helped create.

What’s Next?

Watchman Pictures said on the Princess Cut website, that they are working on a couple of sequels to this movie that will follow Grace’s life in marriage and raising a family.  They asked the Christian viewers to keep them in their prayers as they write, budget, and produce the next movies.

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Temptation and Adversity

Be encouraged.

Whether we realize it or not, we are all dangling on the cliff of eternity, our soul in this human body, but this place is not our eternal home.

For those who trust Father God, Yahuah, He is our rock, and his son Jesus Christ, Yahusha Ha Messiach, is our lifeline.

Hold tight! He has got you in his grip!  Tune out the surroundings.  Fix your eyes on his eyes, and see and feel his out stretched arm as it embraces you, and tune your ears to the frequency of his voice.

Do not be afraid. Though this place is not our home, He is with you and He will hold you.  Like a child who trusts, trust him, he has a hold of you and will not let you fall.  He will support you through the adversity.  As you walk through life on this earth and the valley of the shadow of death he will hold you. He will deliver you out.  He will deliver you from evil.  Do not fear.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”  Mat 6:13

You will bring him glory because you trust him. Your testimony will shine as a beacon of light in a dark world and others will come to know him because of your faith in him to do the impossible, to do what no man or other god can do.  Only He can heal you, only He can save you.  When you trust Him to heal you and save you, you give him glory as the one true God.

I looked up the “verse of the day” this morning before writing you. I have spent all day asking Father God for the words to say in this moment, when you need to hear a word of encouragement from Him.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12

Then my conversation with him went something like this: Wow, Father, this is a great verse, thank you, and I can’t wait to receive the crown of life and I love you with all my heart.  BUT how is “he that endureth temptation” a word of encouragement for this dear sister who is hurting and asking for prayer?  How dare I tell another Christian to endure temptation and wait for their crown?  Then he told me to look closer at the verse.  I realized there must be a bigger meaning to the words written there because I could not understand how “enduring temptation” applied to folks going through illness or difficulties that were no fault of their own.

Stumped, I went to the dictionary to find the meanings.

Dictionary meaning of “temptation”:

1. temptation is the act of tempting; enticement or allurement.
2. tempation is something that tempts, entices, or allures.
3. temptation is the fact or state of being tempted, especially to evil.
4. temptation is like the temptation of Christ by Satan, (Matthew 4).

Ok, so this is what I understood temptation to mean.  It is what I was taught.  According the dictionary, it means being tempted to sin, the act of being enticed and allured to sin, and it even references when Jesus was tempted by Satan to bow down to him.  However, this still did not make sense how going through an illness and a failing body organ such as a kidney, or someone loosing their job, or losing their home or their child, could be related to temptation…

Still stumped, I went to find the biblical meaning of tempation.  So I went to the Greek translation and Strong’s concordance for a biblical understanding.  Again, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me understanding.

My eyes were opened to the meaning of the word temptation. It has more meanings than what we are taught and different meanings than what is provided to us in our dictionaries.  Yes, it can mean being tempted by sin, as mentioned in the dictionary, but this is only one of several meanings that the dictionary neglected to give.  No wonder we as Christian’s miss the message so often.  We do not understand what is being said.

Biblical meaning of “temptation”:

Temptation is to “try” or to “test”
1. Temptation is to try or test one’s faith,
2. Temptation is to try or test one’s virtue,
3. Temptation is to try or test one’s character,
4. Temptation is an experiment, attempt, trial, proving, trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, a putting to proof (by experiment (of good), experience (of evil), solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity.

Now when we read this verses from James 1:12 it makes sense:

Going through a difficult experience, such as an illness, can be a temptation or test of one’s character and constancy of our trust in him during the adversity.  When we love God and stay constant with our love and trust in him (to save, heal, deliver, provide)  as we endure the difficulty we will receive the crown of life that he has promised.

I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide my words.  I have faith that when I pray and ask, he gives the answer.  In the bible, Jesus said the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to speak at the time it is needed.

Temptation is a trying of one’s faith.

Temptation is a test of one’s character.

Temptation is an experiment of good and evil.

Temptation is adversity and difficulty in our daily walk and proving of our character.

This is exactly what Job went through.  The devil, the accuser, who goes around the earth like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and brings accusation against the followers of God.  He got permission from Father God to attack Job, to bring adversity, in many different ways all in an attempt to tempt, test, and “prove” Job’s trust in Father God as having all authority, and to prove Job’s character.

Who won? Who won the showdown between Father God and Satan?  Father God won.  Father God knew Job’s character.  He even told Satan, “there is none like Job.”  Job didn’t succumb to temptation during his illness and loss of family, wealth, employees, and friends.  He continued to say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away as He sees fit.” He refused to play god in his own life, or to try to change the outcome or seek out someone else to try to change the outcome, and he refused to curse Father God for the bad things he was going through.

Satan lost the battle with Job.  He was only allowed to go so far to “try” to “prove” otherwise, but God knew that Job could handle this attack on his body, family, and wealth, and he knew when to end the trial and restore Job and everything Satan had tried to steal and ruin.  God received the glory, because of Job’s temptation and “trying of this faith” through this adversity.

Now we can have a better understanding in our life today. Temptation is the trying of our faith, it is the testing of who we place our trust in, and our love of Father God.  Temptation is our faith put on trial.  Temptation is the testing of our faith in who we patiently wait on to deliver us from evil in adversity and difficulty in our daily walk and temptation is the proving of our character.

Jesus told us to pray like this:

“After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”  Matthew 6 : 9-13

When we rely on Father God, he will provide a way through the temptation during adversity and protect us from evil.

May you be encouraged to put your complete trust in him today.

Be blessed!

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Highschool Diploma Review

Is anyone in your home ready to graduate?  If so, then you will want to check out the diplomas and graduating products available at Homeschool Diploma.  As members of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew, we were sent a Standard Diploma in exchange for writing an honest review.

Homeschool Diploma has something for every graduate.  They offer standard, personalized, and customizable  gilded diplomas and covers for highschool, eighth grade, and kindergarten graduates in two sizes.  You can choose diploma size options from an 8.5″ x 11″, 6″ x 8″, and you have the option to add on a portable wallet size to carry with you.

 

Standard

The Standard Diploma presents the basic information in a professional and attractive way.  Listed on the standard diploma, you have your school name, location of school (optional), name of student, a statement about having met graduation requirements, High School Diploma, and the date of graduation, and signatures.  You also have the option of choosing an honors seal, and one of 3 embossed graduation seals for the bottom area between the signatures.

Personalized

The Personalized Diploma includes all the above plus: you can choose from embossed or engraved seals, it has 4 customizable wording options and include a special Motto or Bible Verse, and customizable signature lines.

Customized

The Customized Diploma or Gilded Diploma includes all the above plus:  23-karat Gold illumination decorates the seal and school name, you can choose from 2 gilded seal designs, and gilding on the initial letter of the school name is included.

Affordable Pricing and Quality

Prices are affordable and start at $29.99 and up for diplomas based on the options you choose.

Product Examples:

Here are a few product examples of the graduation diplomas and other products Homeschool Diploma has to offer.

Highschool Diploma:

Diploma Covers:

They have lots of color options, and personalization of the cover is available if desired.

Laminated Wallet Size Diploma:

Eighth Grade Diploma:

Kindergarten Diploma:

Caps and Gowns:

They also have rings, shirts, graduation gifts, picture frames, announcement invitations and more to help you celebrate and share your graduation experience with family and friends.

Our Experience:

I am impressed with Homeschool Diploma.  They produce beautiful professional diplomas and graduation products.  Equally impressive is their customer service.  They are very kind and helpful.  If you need guidance or have questions, or if you are like me and have not graduated a student before and I had lots of questions, they are very quick to respond and give you the guidance you need.

We were sent an 8.5″ x 11″ Standard Diploma with a nice Cover.  We had the cover personalized to read the name of our school and my son’s name.  We also chose the option to add a laminated wallet size diploma to our order so he can carry it with him.  We were very pleased with the professional quality of the diploma when it arrived.

Though the Standard Diploma comes with less options than the Personalized Diplomas or Custom Diplomas, it was perfect for our needs. The website provides a questionnaire to walk you through each line item that will be on the diploma.  The outcome of this process is a beautiful diploma to display.

The lines and wording on our diploma include: At the top of the diploma our school name in a curved arch, then we had the option of putting in the city and state of your school or leaving it off.  Next is the name of the graduate.  Next is a sentence about having met graduation requirements.  This is followed by the words High School Diploma in large letters.  Next it references the month and year of graduation.  The last section is for signatures and seals.   To the left and right at the bottom of the diploma is room for signatures, an optional honor seal, and in the middle of the signatures is the large diploma seal of your choosing.

I am thankful there are options for graduation for homeschoolers who desire to graduate.   Some folks want a big ceremony, cap and gowns, extended family, a stage presentation, or a presentation at home and party with friends and family.  Other folks may want or need to pass through this milestone quietly.  Some folks with special needs or certain physical limitations may not be able to participate in large ceremonies even if they desired too.  Other folks graduate at various times of the year, some in May, some in December or January, and some in the summer or fall and it doesn’t always fit in with a big ceremony or with schedules for extended family to join.

A beautiful thing about homeschooling in America is that you can choose.  In America, you can choose where you will live, you can choose your career and how you spend your time, you can choose your faith and what you believe, you can choose if you will get married and your reason for raising a family, you can choose your reason for homeschooling or choose to send your kids to public or private school.  In America you can choose your homeschool curriculum, and you can choose the details of graduation that fits both the needs and personality style of your student and family.  There is no right or wrong answer, the correct answer is that it is fluid and it is what best fits your situation for your child and your family at that point in time.

My son asked me to keep his graduation simple.  He doesn’t want to graduate with a group or be displayed in a public way.  He did not want me to order cap and gown, or throw a party per his request.  I doubt he would change his mind as we get closer to that time.  He is a quiet fella who enjoys learning, and enjoys challenging his skills, but he doesn’t seek out attention or desire acknowledgement.  Though he is kind and is the first one to help or come to the rescue, and is usually the first one to grasp a concept or complete his schoolwork, he never wants recognition.  I couldn’t be more proud of him and the Godly young man he is.  Even though his big accomplishment may not be filled with cap and gown and “pomp and circumstance” as it was when I walked across the stage in public highschool, and the way many of our homeschool friends graduate and might get together for a graduation ceremony, I am thankful that Homeschool Diploma offers these beautiful graduation diplomas to mark this milestone in his life and he can graduate with his own style.  That is the beauty of homeschooling, that kids can reach their learning goals and develop their skills and character, and at the same time be themselves.

However you plan to acknowledge and celebrate this milestone, I would recommend Homeschool Diploma to everyone looking for a professional quality diploma for their graduate.

Videos:

Check out this video to see a standard diploma:

Check out this video to see a wallet size diploma:

Homeschool Diploma

Homeschool Diploma, also known as Cornerstone Graduate Supply, Inc is a family owned business and has been serving the needs of graduates and their families since 2002.  They take pride in their products and are quick to respond to questions and provide guidance as needed to help you customize your graduation products.

They also have quick turn around for orders and ship most of their products within 3 to 5 days of receiving the order.  They share their mission statement on their website and state they are grateful for Christian education and their over all goal is to bring honor to Jesus Christ.

I am so glad to learn about this company through doing this review.  They truly care about homeschool families and want to help them succeed and graduate their students.  They know what they are doing and do it well.  I highly recommend Homeschool Diploma to everyone!

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