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Papa’s Pearls Review

I love stories about family, faith, endurance, and advice on living a good life.  We recently read Papa’s Pearls  by Diane Flynn Keith from Homefires, and it encompasses all that and more.

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Diane is the creator of and and Universal .  She is an alternative education specialist, parenting coach, homeschool coach, and author. 

She is a wise woman and she attributes that wisdom to listening and observing her father.  She wrote Papa’s Pearls to share her father’s wisdom with others, and share what has helped guide her on her life’s journey, and as a tribute to her dad.  

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                                Papa’s Pearls  by Diane Flynn Keith
                                Retails for $ 21.97 for an autographed copy.

This is a wonderful story about Papa and how he told stories to convey wisdom to his family.  I was excited to read a book about something other than parenting and curriculum.  It seems that has been my main focus this past year and I don’t get a lot of reading time for mom.  This paper back book is easy to read and is only 112 pages and is divided into 17 chapters.  Each chapter centers around a saying or words of wisdom Papa shared with his family during his life.  


Some of Papa’s sayings include: “Everyone deserves a second chance” , “When you fall down – get back up” , “Be grateful every day”, “Life’s to short, take a little time off, relax”, and many more.  The “pearl” represents not only tidbits of wisdom he shared with his family, but also the analogy of the oyster who takes sand that is irritating and could possibly kill the tender animal inside and makes it into a pearl.  It takes a potentially bad situation and makes it into something positive which is another one of Papa’s sayings “take a bad situation and make it better”.   

This is a great book to keep at your bedside to read or take with you on the go.  It can be read to the whole family too.  I think it would be a great book for teens to read and write a short summary of the chapters and what they gleaned and will be able to apply in their own life.  If you are looking for a nice gift to give (graduation, birthdays, Christmas, etc.) this would be a great gift.  This book can be used to inspire others to be the best that they can be.

Please check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about Papa’s Pearls.

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MusIQ Homeschool Review

Homeschool Friends, I am thrilled to tell you about a music education product my kids are currently reviewing called MusIQ Homeschool  by  Adventus.   


If your kids like learning with the computer, playing computer games, enjoy music and want to learn to play the piano, then MusIQ Homeschool might be a perfect match because it is a blend of all of these.  MusIQ Homeschool is a perfect solution to affordable music lessons at home.
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MusIQ Homeschool is available in 7 different learning levels, covers a span of 9 years of learning music theory, history, performance, piano, composition, all of the great piano composers, and more.  

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They offer three different formats to meet your homeschool needs: 
                    Monthly Online Subscription (software access), 
                    CD-Rom (software with lesson plans), 
                    Lesson Plans.  

Check out this short video below, and the learning objectives for the Early and Multi Level programs for a summary of what your child will learn as they progress through this program.


Early Curriculum Software and Lesson Plans (ages 4 to 10)
Year 1  Children’s Music Journey Vol 1  & Beginner Lesson Plans 1 $89.95
Year 2  Children’s Music Journey Vol 2  & Beginner Lesson Plans 2 $89.95
Year 3  Children’s Music Journey Vol 3  & Beginner Lesson Plans 3 $89.95

Monthly Subscription (software only, includes all levels) retails $10.95

Lesson Plans (lesson plans only) each level retails $29.95

Multi-level Curriculum Software & Lesson Plans (ages 10+)
Year 1  Piano Suite and Lesson Plans 1                    $109.95
Year 2  Ear Training 1 & 2 and Lesson Plans 2           $59.95
Year 3  Ear Training 3 & 4 and Lesson Plans 3           $59.95
Year 4  MusIQ Challenger Game & Lesson Plans 4    $69.95

Monthly Subscription (software only, includes all levels) retails for $10.95

Lesson Plans (lesson plans only) each level retails for $29.95

Save alot when you buy a bundle.  There are several BUNDLE options available on their web site, but you have access to the all the software and save the most money when you buy the complete bundle:
Complete MusIQ Homeschool Bundle $489.95 (save $65)
Everything you need to start a music learning program at home. Includes:
            Children’s Music Journey Volume 1
            Children’s Music Journey Volume 2
            Children’s Music Journey Volume 3
            Beginner Level 1 Lesson Plans
            Piano Suite Premier
            Ear Training Coach 1 & 2
            Ear Training Coach 3 & 4
            Level 1 Lesson Plans
            M-Audio KeyRig 49 MIDI piano keyboard

Adventus also has a generous offer on their online subscription to their MusIQ Homeschool curriculum, you can try before you buy with their 7 day Free Trial offer and see if it is a good fit for your family.

MIDI Keyboard .

I was given a 1 year online subscription to the software and lesson plans in exchange for writing a review about our experience using this curriculum.   The curriculum
requires a MIDI Keyboard to connect to the computer and use the software.  
We purchased a basic 49 MIDI keyboard from Adventus to use with the curriculum software and lesson plans.  The keyboard plugged right into our laptop computer.  I love this keyboard.  It runs on the power of your laptop.  No batteries required!



That question is best answered right from page 5 of the Year 1 the curriculum:   
“Study after study has demonstrated that the process of learning to read and play music stimulates the brain, resulting in unique development of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that processes speech. This leads to significantly higher rates of learning and comprehension in math, science and reading. The benefit increases over time as a student continues in a D challenging instrumental program. Students participating in rigorous music programs also demonstrate improved attitudes
towards learning and better behavior at school. “
                                                            source p.5 MusIQ Homeschool Year 1


Read more about the benefits to the brain, improvement in function, improved performance in many academic areas, and links to educational success as a result of learning music on the Adventus web site. 

Our Routine:

We are using this program with all of our kids.  I am absolutely thrilled with it!  It is recommended to use the program approximately 2 x 30 minutes sessions a week, or 1 x 60 minute session a week to complete a lesson and move forward.   We have adapted the schedule to fit our family and each of my kids are practicing 30 (younger kids) to 60 minutes (older kids) each time with the program and they can finish a lesson in one to two sessions.


I wish there was more time and they could each use it for 30 minutes every day because I think it is a wonderful program!  But we only have one kid designated laptop and one keyboard for the kids to share.  And like every family, especially big families, time and resources are limited.  I wish we had two keyboards and two kid computers for all six kids to share and we could get more done in a shorter amount of time.  The MusIQ Homeschool program has the ability to be used by several kids at the same time on different computers using a “splitter”.  Maybe someday we will be able to do that.  It can also be used in classroom settings and co-ops too.


Children’s Music Journey Volume 1 and Beginner’s Lesson Plans 1 

I started all of the kids with year 1, Children’s Music Journey Volume 1 and Beginner’s Lesson Plans 1.   Even though they are various ages, I wanted them all to have the same start.  However the older kids have moved way ahead of the younger kids which is to be expected, and are now in Volume 2. My husband and I have also started Piano Suite Premier and it is amazing.


CMJ Volume 1 is the most basic beginning level, and perhaps a little young for the older kids, but it is a step that I did not want to skip in our learning journey.  During a lesson the kids visit several virtual rooms in the software program.  Be sure to view the video posted above to learn more about these rooms:
                        Theory Thinker
                        Piano Players
                        Improve Room
                        Game Room


Beginner Lesson Plans 1 is divided into 3 Levels and 30 lessons. 

Level 1 has 10 lessons (each lesson takes approximately 1 hour each to complete), 10 activity sheets, practice test, written test, assessment, enrichment ideas and songs.

Level 2 has 10 lessons, 14 activity sheets, 2 practice tests, assessment, history enrichment, history test, etc.

Level 3 has 10 lessons, 9 activity sheets, practice test, written test, assessments, 2 recitals, and several additional enrichment resources. 

Here is a basic breakdown of a lesson in Level 1, but each lesson is a little different and more or le
ss time might be spent in these different areas.   Here is an example of what a suggested lesson for a beginning student looks like:

3 minutes review
5 minutes practice ear training & note naming
5 minutes technique
10-15 minutes repertoire
15 minutes note reading game
10 minutes read
Theory Thinker (Listening to lessons and following the hands on directions on the keyboard.)
15 minutes History / Music Appreciation (look up two interesting things about a composer of your choice, then play music by that composer).


This program can be used by kids 4 to ages 18. It can also be used by adults too who want to learn piano, so it is a great product for parents to learn right along with their kids (my husband and I are having fun with it too). There are a few technical things involved in setting up a keyboard hooked to the computer and I am very glad my husband helped me with this process. Setting up the keyboard sparked his interest in the curriculum. Now he is hooked!


Have you calculated the costs?

Have you checked into the cost of music education lately?  If I have done my math right, the $489.95 bundle option through MusIQ Homeschool is like paying $4.54 a month (489.95 divided by 9 = 4.54) and you would own the curriculum for all 9 years of music training for your children. And you can use it for multiple children as many times a month, week, day, etc. as you wish right in the comfort of your home. 

If you used the bundled homeschool program for one hour, once a week, it would only cost you $1.14 per hour to give one child a solid music education.  If you used it more than one hour a week, it would cost you even less.  Now in my case, divide that $1.14 for 6 kids.  This is a wonderful thing about this product, that you can use and re-use the curriculum with all your children because you would own the software and can use it as often and with as many of your kids as you want (that is a big savings for my family).  

And if you can’t afford the bundle option all at once, and want to pay for a monthly subscription for $10.95 a month, that is still way cheaper than any music lessons I have checked into.  Lessons run about $60 an hour in my local area. If you took music lessons at $60 an hour each week that would cost you $3,120 for 1 year of instruction, and $28,080 for 9 years of instruction.  $$$WHEW!!!  There is a huge price difference in learning with MusIQ Homeschool at home.  


I wish I had learned with a program like this when I was growing up.  I personally want my children to have a music education.  But I would like to financially invest a minimal amount while my children are young and see if they truly enjoy music and learning to play the piano.  Then after they have finished the MusIQ Homeschool
program and they decide they are serious and want professional lessons (for any instrument and voice), then we can acquire them at that time.  How many parents pay out thousands of dollars for a music education / piano lessons for their kids and later learn their kids are not interested? In my opinion, MusIQ Homeschool is a perfect solution to affordable music lessons at home. 

Please stop in and read what others on the Schoolhouse Crew have to say about these products.

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Walk and Talk Wednesday

                   Week 9
                       Plan B

Do You Have A Plan B In Your Family Fitness Plan?  It can be challenging to work in time in your lifestyle for physical activities if your family is not inclined to joining sports or athletic teams, and if you don’t have daily physically demanding chores (such as on a farm or job) to do.   If this describes your family, and you are like me and you homeschool, you might feel the additional need to include PE in your child’s weekly curriculum line up.

I try to include some form of physical activities in my family’s schedule each week. Sometimes it is as simple as playing in the yard or riding bikes, and other times we go to the park, on the weekend go site seeing with dad, or do other activities. 

Plan A

There have been times when I have found myself wanting more than just a “playing in the yard” level of activity for my kids.  We have a lot of young children, and doing much more than playing in the yard is difficult many days.  Currently, we are not on a sports or athletic team.  We also don’t have the extra money to afford fees for teams, uniforms, gear, etc. at this time in our life.  We would like to do some sports in the future, per the kid’s interests as they get older, and as we have the finances to do so. One of our kids is interested in baseball, one is interested in football, one is interested in soccer, and all three of those are interested in tennis (which we did take lessons twice in the past).  The other three are too young to know what they would like to do.  So for now, we try to find activities that we can all do together and don’t cost anything, like the park, or activities that cost very little for supplies, like workshops.  

Needing a consistent level of physical activity each week is one of the reasons I started Take Action Tuesdays, and Walk and Talk Wednesdays.  I had prayed for almost two years for a specific direction for our family.  The Lord inspired me to start Take Action Tuesday and invite other families in the area to join us.  In addition to other things we do, Take Action Tuesday is time we set aside each week for being active and learning outdoors in local parks.  This has been such a positive activity for our family.  It has been almost two years since we started the TAT program and it has been a blessing.  I am so thankful God put this in my heart.

Plan B

If the park is our Plan A, then in the winter, and on days when it is chilly, raining, or too hot, we need a PLAN B.  We need an indoor place to enjoy being physical and out of the weather.   The YMCA has been our Plan B this winter and it is a perfect place for us to get physical, learn something new, and enjoy our time together.

The Possibilities

Do you have a plan for family fitness or PE in your weekly schedule?  What are your ideas for places to go and things to do for family fitness? 

The possibilities are endless.  Grab a piece of paper, sit down with your kids and spouse, and ask them what things your family could do inside and outside for physical fitness that they would enjoy.  You could organize their answers according to location, season, Plan A, Plan B, time of day, skill level, etc.

Sometimes we just need to see the possibilities written down to spark our excitement and work some new activities into our schedule.  Here are just a few of the possibilities for family fitness activities I thought would work well for us at different times/ seasons of our life.

Outdoor Ideas:
Park Play
Play In The Yard: tag, ball, run, hide, chase, sandbox, games, etc.
Climb Trees
Outdoor Workshops
Jump Rope
Horseback Riding
Mowing the grass with a push mower.
Weeding grass and weeds with a weedeater
Stacking firewood
Walk your dog or someone else’s dog
Kite Flying

Indoor Ideas:
Indoor Walking / Jogging Track
Gym Membership (YMCA)
Swim Indoor Pool
Exercise Machines: treadmill, elliptical, cycles etc.
Weight Machines: work your legs and arms with resistance and weights
Indoor Skateboard Track
Jump Rope
Aerobics Class
Wall Climbing
Roller Skating
Exercise DVD
Jumping On The Beds!!!! (my younger kid’s favorite thing to do!)
Pillow Fight

Activity Journal

It was a crazy week this week.  We had an ice storm, then a power outage for half the day, and then rain all afternoon, and fog that afternoon / evening, and I opted not to drive to our regular Cardio Dance class at the YMCA that evening.  I don’t like driving in the fog on a busy interstate highway, so I opted to stay home.   Instead we went the to the YMCA the following evening when the bad weather had cleared.  There was no class for us, but we still found lots of activities to do.

Rock Climbing:


Studio B:
We love using this room.  It brings us lots of laughs, brotherly competition, and lots of fun.  I wish we had a room like this at home.  I think it could help settle some differences at times and keep them busy when needed.

I am not sure what it is called but this machine helps you do an upside down reverse sit up and it works your back.

We jumped rope to see who could go the longest and farthest.  A couple of weeks ago, my 8 year old learned to do crazy pushups with his feet on the big ball, and his arms balancing in an upside down half ball.  However, this time he wasn’t able to maintain his balance on it.

Did arm repetitions with the heavy medicine balls.


Leg lifts on this machine, works the stomach and the back.

Squats using the wall and the big ball.


Push ups with the big ball.  It is a lot of fun and somewhat comical to work out in this room together.


The Gym:

We walked a mile on the indoor track.  That is 18 laps around the track.

Kickboxing with a machine.  It lights up where you are supposed to kick. It keeps your score too.


Two of my boys also enjoy boxing with the bags (speed bag and heavy bag).


Basketball.  Need I say more?

The Pool:

Swimming for over an hour.  They brought their snorkels and goggles, and hunted for diving rings on the bottom of the pool.  They swam and raced each other, and had a great time.


I did not swim today, but I did enjoy the steam room, the sauna, and the hot tub! Oooh,  La La!

This post will be linked up with
Raising Homemakers
Sharing Time
Healthy Habit

        Walk And Talk Wednesday March

Please join us on our Walk and Talk Wednesday Family Fitness Journey.  You can read other Walk and Talk stories from January and February and all our friends who have linked their stories and follow along on the journey. 

You are welcome to leave your story in the comment section below, or if you write stories about family fitness, nutrition, weight loss, etc. on your web site you can link up.  The blog hop link is open all month long, so link up as many fitness stories as you want all month long.  Just be sure to grab this story link and include it somewhere on your post so others can find the link back here to read more stories of encouragement.  You can also grab the blog hop code and place it at the bottom of your story too.  Thank You!


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Who Is God In The Bible?

We have been blessed again to review another great homeschool product created by Classical Academic Press.  I continue to be impressed with the quality of Classical Academic Press curriculum materials.  They maintain a consistent focus, and each of their products are:
            Classical (rich, traditional subjects that equips kids with master skills),
            Creative (engaging, games, stories, animations, to enhance the learning
            Relevant (products that connect kids needs with their curiosity and 
            interests and enables them to communicate those areas effectively 
            through writing, debating, and more), and 
            Easy to Use (clear instructions, review of information learned, 
            supplemental materials and online help).

I am especially thrilled with their bible curriculum series called God’s Great Covenant. This is a four year bible curriculum and is designed to be used with elementary aged students from 2nd grade through 6th grade.   The four curriculums in this series are: 
                              God’s Great Covenant  Old Testament 1
                        God’s Great Covenant  Old Testament 2
                        God’s Great Covenant New Testament 1
                        God’s Great Covenant New Testament 2

We are currently using  God’s Great Covenant, OldTestament Book One.  Last year we used God’s Great Covenant, New Testament Book One also in this same series.  We also have reviewed other products from Classical Academic Press including the logic / debate curriculum Art of Argument and will soon be reviewing another logic course called the The Discovery of Deduction.   Honestly, I have put together a long wish list of quality curriculum from the Classical Academic Press catalogue that I would like to use with my children.



That is the very question God’s Great Covenant sets out to help your child answer in God’s Great Covenant, Old Testament One.   Over the course of 32 weeks, your child will gain a deeper understanding of who God is, who man is, and the covenant God has made with man.   From page 9 of the book, The Bible tells you God’s story. It has many parts, but from beginning to end it’s one story. In this story God made a promise, saying, “I will be your God, and you will be My people.”  


The Student Textbook is a big book.  It has large print, big pictures, and is written at a 2nd grade reading level for ease of use, and it is designed for elementary age students in grades 2nd-6th grade.  It is divided into 241 pages.  It retails for $22.95.  


The Teacher’s Edition contains all of the information in the student text, plus answer keys to all the worksheets, reviews, and quizzes, teaching helps and notes to teachers and parents in each chapter, and large areas to write your own notes and ideas as you go along.  The Teacher’s Edition retails for $24.95 .   

The course is available on MP3 Audio for $9.95  and supplemental Maps and Time lines are also available for $32.95 and greatly enhance the learning.    The whole Bundle of
mentioned is available at a discount for $79.95 .   

You can download a FREE  40 page sample of the first five chapters and see for yourself what a great curriculum resource this is.  It is intended to be used for about 20 minutes on a daily basis, 5 days a week, for 32 weeks. 

Our Experience


Being homeschoolers, we are flexible and adjust the curriculum to fit the needs of our homeschool, doing the lessons faster or slower as needed.   I used this curriculum with all my school aged children in grades 6th, 4th, 2nd, K, and Pre-K.  We worked on the book daily for 30 minutes or more through out the week. 

The lessons are short, straight to the point, and are easy to navigate through.  We started the week off with memorizing the focus scripture.  Next, we alternated between listening to the audio MP3  and following along, and other days my 6th grader read the text to the rest of the kids, and everyone took turns answering the review questions.  The MP3 is a very nice resource with this course.   I hope to purchase the additional maps and timeline for the course as I have heard many other homeschoolers talk about what a wonderful addition these are.  I would love to make a display on a wall in my home with these resources.

Each chapter has a lesson plan summary on the first page:
                Lesson Scope
                Read To Me (scripture)
                Memory Verse
                Key Facts
                Things To Remember
                Who Is God?

Each chapter has 4 sections coded at the top of the page, making it easy for the student to follow and work independently if desired.  These sections include:
                Memory Page
                Review Worksheets


Here are the “story of God” chapters in each unit of God’s Great Covenant, Old Testament One.


Unit I: In the Beginning – God’s Power. 

God shows His power by speaking all of creation into existence.  Because of man’s sin, He barred mankind from the garden of Eden where He walked and fellowshipped with them.   Eventually the world became so wicked that He judged the world with a catastrophic flood to wash the sinfulness of man away.  At the same time, the power of His love, and His mercy, and His redemptive plan secured man’s future existence.

                Chapter 1  Creation Of The World
                Chapter 2  Creation Of Man
                Chapter 3  The Fall
                Chapter 4  The Flood And The Tower
                Chapter 5  Looking Backwards / Looking Ahead

Unit II: By the Patriarchs – God’s Promises.

The Lord God chose Abram out of the city of Ur, and sent him on an amazing journey. Through the covenant, the Lord gave Abram (later called Abraham) three promises: to give him a land, to make him the father of many nations, and to bless the world through him. These promises, and God’s faithfulness to keep the promises, form the foundation for the rest of God’s story.

                Chapter  6  The Call Of Abraham
                Chapter  7  The Sacrifice of Isaac
                Chapter  8   Jacob A Changed Man
                Chapter  9   Joseph The Dreamer
                Chapter 10 Joseph The Ruler
                Chapter 11 Looking Backwards / Looking Ahead

Unit III: Out of Egypt – God’s Redemption.

In God’s mind, rescuing Israel from Egypt was more than saving the Israelites from slavery. The Lord God was redeeming Israel from sin and renewing the covenant He had made with Abraham. Despite their sin, the Lord desired to dwell with His people and bless them.

                Chapter 12  The Call of Moses
                Chapter 13  The Ten Plagues
                Chapter 14  The Exodus
                Chapter 15  Provision in the Wilderness
                Chapter 16  Giving of the Law
                Chapter 17  Israel’s Idolatry
                Chapter 18  Looking Backwards / Looking Ahead

Unit IV: Through the Wilderness – God’s Provision.

In the harshness of the Sinai wilderness the Lord God showed His people that His care for them was perfect. Even though they grumbled, complained, and refused to trust Him, God was completely trustworthy and never ceased to take care of them.

                Chapter 19  Building Of The Tabernacle
                Chapter 20  Departure from Mt. Sinai
                Chapter 21  The Spies Explore Canaan
                Chapter 22  Life in the Wilderness
                Chapter 23  Preparation to Enter Canaan
                Chapter 24  Looking Backwards / Looking Ahead

Unit V: In the Promised Land – God’s Faithfulness.

After conquering Canaan, Israel entered into the dark years when everyone did “what was right in his own eyes.” Even though Israel repeatedly turned away from the Lord, He always heard their cries for mercy and delivered them from the oppression of their enemies.

                Chapter 25  Entering Canaan
                Chapter 26  Conquest of Canaan
                Chapter 27  The Judges
                Chapter 28  The Stories of Deborah and Gideon
                Chapter 29  The Story of Samson
                Chapter 30  The Story Of Ruth
                Chapter 31  The story of Job
                Chapter 32  Looking Backwards / Looking Ahead

The back of the student book contains a memory verse list organized for each chapter, a glossary, a summary of who God is as explained in each chapter, Word Banks, maps of Abraham’s journeys, Israel’s journey in the wilderness, and a tribal division map, and more.  


This is a very nice, easy to use, beginner level bible course that follows God’s story chronologically in the scriptures, and answers the question “Who Is God“?  This course would be great for homeschools, Sunday schools, Christian schools, bible studies, family bible time, and personal devotions and study.  Be sure to check it out when planning your biblical curriculum studies.  You can check out the link here for a suggested sample schedule for working through the course and see how it would fit for your homeschool and bible study.

Be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew to see what other homeschool families thought of this product.


Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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Walk and Talk Wednesday

Week 3

This was my best week yet.  I ate well, slept well, and finally my metabolism seems to be increasing as I improve my healthy habits.  I am sure that this is happening for the most part because of the addition of the physical activity at the YMCA in my weekly routine.  Though I am currently able to only go one day a week, it is so positive, that I believe it has lasting effects for the whole week.

I am inspired by my exercise instructor, Natalie.  She has the most cheerful smile and is so encouraging.  You just can’t help but give your best and exercise to your fullest when you are in her class.


My 10 year old son and I have been taking her Tuesday Cardio classes and they are a mix of  dance and Zumba.  I so wish I could take the class more times during the week, but so far Tuesday evening is the only time our family schedule has worked out for me to do this.  I hope I can get my 12 year old son back to her class too.  He took it one time with me, but he has some issues with his flat feet and his ankles.  So bouncing around gives him severe “after pains” and it is best to not stress his feet and ankles.  But I think he could do a modified version of the movements in the class and not bounce on his feet if he didn’t want to.

Natalie is trained in Zumba, Dynamic Stretch, Dynamic Dance, Healthy Fitness Mentor , Orientation trainings, and more.  She has a degree in Sociology, but devotes her career to help others as a fitness trainer and helps hundreds of people each week.  She has truly touched my life.  She has encouraged me so much during class and in talking with me and my son after class.  She pushes us to give our best the full hour we are with her.  We are exhausted when the class is over.  Yet we feel encouraged and invigorated.  After a bathroom break and drinking some water, we are ready to take on our next challenge.


After the cardio class, I walked 1 mile on the gym track, that is 18 laps around.  I tried to swing and pump my arms and walk as fast as I could.  I was really winded by lap 14 and the arches in my feet were burning, but I kept going until I finished the last lap.  It took me about 35 minutes to walk the mile today.  I am looking forward to improving this time as I get stronger.

Next, I played basketball with my son.  We dribbled and passed the ball back and forth.  Then we each got our own ball and challenged each other to get the ball into the basket.  Each time one person made a basket, it was full on for the other person to get their basket and keep up.  I had so much fun.  To push myself to be more physical, I did a lot of lay ups.  I have shot a few baskets in our hoop in the driveway at home, but I haven’t really got physical with it.  But it was a lot of fun to do this in the gym.
Finally, I spent some time SWEATING the easy way in the steam room.  This is a very cleansing experience.  The air is hot, and you can feel the heat on your skin and in your nose and in your throat.  The sweat poured out of everywhere on my body.  I just relaxed and breathed slowly and let the sweat flow.  For several days afterwards, my skin was exceptionally soft.  I felt rejuvenated.  I wish I could do this every day!

Progress on Fitness Goals:

To review our family fitness goals (physical activity and nutrition), please read previous posts about:  FIT and Goal Plan. To see our progress in our health habits, be sure to read all our Walk and Talk Wednesday posts.  I journaled my nutritional food and water intake, vitamins, and exercise activity last week.  It was a good tool to gage where I am at and what I need to work on.  I am sharing week 3 journal in this post too.   

Sunday 1/20
Egg x 1
Waffle x 1
Coffee with milk and sugar
Juice Feast 1 cup: apple, carrot, celery, orange, lime, cherry, spinach, Kevita fermented coconut water, apple cider.  (I made a large blender full of this and put it in pint jars and stored in the fridge).
Chicken club: chicken breast, bacon, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, bun
1/2 Coke (shared a coke with husband)
Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend
Water: 4
Hiked trail 1 hour through the James Lake State Park.  We had a great time as a family hiking the trail.  We all took turns pushing the baby in the stroller.  We seen a beautiful lake with several cliffs and mountains all around.  The water was deep everywhere we got close to the shore line so we had to keep the children a safe distance from the water.  They were able to get close on a dock that had railing.  The hiking trail goes through tall pine trees.  The only wildlife we saw were squirrels. We could hear several different birds, but could not see them high up in the pine trees.

Saturday 1/19
Eggs x 2
Turkey Sausage x 2
Juice Feast 1 pint : apple, carrot, celery, orange, lime, cherry, spinach, Kevita fermented coconut water, apple cider. (I made a large blender full of this and put it in pint jars and stored in the fridge).

Vanilla Cream Cookies
Egg Scramble: eggs x 2, spinach, leftover burger pattie with vegetables
Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend
Water: 4

Friday 1/18
Eggs x 2


Juice Feast 1 pint: apple, carrot, celery, orange, lime, cherry, spinach, Kevita fermented coconut water, apple cider. (I made a large blender full of this and put it in pint jars and stored in the fridge).


1 slice pizza

Warm milk with honey

Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend

: 4

Kids helped dad dig holes and plant bushes in the yard that he was given today.  He is building a car dealership at work and they were doing demolition and had to move some plants and they gave three beautiful bushes to my husband.  It was a muddy mess to did the holes, but the plants went right in and look great.  Then the kids rode their bikes for a while.

Thursday 1/17
Eggs  x 2
Juice Feast 1 pint: apple, carrot, celery, orange, lime, cherry, spinach, Kevita fermented coconut water, apple cider. (I made a large blender full of this and put it in pint jars and stored in the fridge).
Spaghetti (leftovers)
Green beans
Salad and ranch dressing
Beef and veggie burger with mayo, tomato, bread and butter pickles, swiss cheese bun
Sweat potato chips
Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend
Water: 4
Activity: Not much we can do the past few days as it has been very rainy and everything is soaked.  We did some dancing in the living room, but the wet weather has us kind of bummed.

Wednesday 1/16
Eggs x 2
Green smoothie: Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness
Sweet potato chips
Vanilla cookies
Green beans
Romaine lettuce salad with ranch dressing
Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend
Water: 4

Tuesday 1/15
2 Eggs
Sloppy joe sandwich
Ice cream bar
Sloppy joe sandwich (leftovers)
Sweet potato chips
Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend

Water: 4

4H class.  This gets me out of the house and on my feet for several hours.
I loaded the van with supplies, unloaded at the building.  We helped set up the tables and chairs, and took down tables and chairs and cleaned the room up after the meeting.  I organizing the 4H meeting and the whole process is a physically demanding time.  The actual meeting is from 9 to 11:30 but I am on my feet from 6am until about 1pm and sometimes much later depending on how long it takes to clean up and what our family is doing after the meeting.
Worked out at the YMCA:
1 hour exercise class, 35 minute walked 1 mile on track, 30 minutes basket ball challenge, 10 minutes climbing stairs 4 reps of 29 stairs, 20 minutes steam room.

Monday 1/14
2 Eggs

Juice Feast 1 pint: apple, carrot, celery, orange, lime, cherry, spinach, Kevita fermented coconut water, apple cider. (I made a large blender full of this and put it in pint jars and stored in the fridge).


Vitamins & Supplements:
Multi Vitamin powder packet
1 tsp. Elderberry extract
1 probiotic 15 strains
2 psyllium fiber
1-kelp capsule
2 – enzyme blend

Water: 4

Grocery shopping with all six kids. Yikes! Two hours of walking around the store.


I am pleased with my overall progress this week.  I lost a pound during my workout on Tuesday, and another pound during the night as my metabolism kept on burning.  Then I maintained that for the rest of the week.  I wish I could go to the Y more than one time a week, but it is a start and I am excited that I seen progress this week.  This next week I hope to add T-tapp to my schedule and see if I can boost my metabolism even more beyond the Tuesday workout.  Also if the weather turns warmer and stays nice we will go to the park and enjoy some fun there too.

I am pleased with my food intake this week.  I stayed away from grains at breakfast most of the week and I think this helped me overcome sugar highs and lows.  I read a post about raising your metabolism by eating things such as hashbrowns and I wanted to give it a try.  Hashbrowns were a delicious addition to my breakfast routine this week.  I also added in spinach to my daily diet this week.  I feel like I have more energy this week than I have had this entire past year.  That is saying a lot!  I think it may be the Juice Feasts that are giving me more energy.  I am looking forward to adding in more Juice Feasts next week.  I would like to increase my intake to two pints a day and experiment with more flavor combinations.  I love the taste of the frozen cherries.  I want to make one with strawberries and I want to add in more variety of produce. 
I still need to drink more water, though I am not convinced that I need 8 glasses a day.  I think I feel good around 5 to 6 glasses max, unless I am working out and then I need a little more. I want to be sure to drink a glass of raw / fermented vegetable / fruit juice each day.   I also want to be sure I am drinking a glass of raw milk each day.  I always give the kids 1 to 2 glasses a day. 

I am pleased with my vitamin and supplement regime, but I want to get some iodine, magnesium, borage oil current oil (GLA) blend, and codliver oil soon.  I used to take the oil blend and the cod liver oil for years and it always helped me feel healthy.  I quit taking it about four years ago when I could not financially afford the supplements anymore.  But I know it was good for me and I want to find a way to get the supplements I need and put them into my routine.  I would also like to increase my intake of some herbal tea.  I drink it from time to time, but lately I haven’t had any and I want to put this back into my daily routine.

This post will be linked up with
Domestically Divine
Rasing Homemakers
Sharing Time
Health Habits

Link Up with Walk and Talk Wednesday

Please Link Up your fitness stories (personal or family fitness) in our January Walk and Talk Wednesday Link Up.    This link will be open all month. We will have a new link up each month for you to share your continuing progress in reaching your goals.  Please include a link in your story so that readers can come back to this link up and find more inspiration and encouragement from others who have left their links here too.  Thank you.


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Magnetic Fun

I have always been fascinated by magnets.  I loved to play with them as a kid.  Shhhh……I still love playing with magnets.  And so do my kids.

We have more than a few magnets around our house.   The kids enjoy learning about the science behind magnets as much as they enjoy playing with them.  I do have to be careful that no one puts magnets in their mouth.  They can be dangerous if swallowed.  But aside from that precaution, the children are free to play with them as much as they want to.

Teaching young children about magnets

A fun way to introduce magnets to younger children is through play.   There are so many great toys and fun objects to use for magnetic fun. 

Magnetic Toys

An inexpensive and easily accessible magnetic learning object are the magnetic numbers and alphabet letters available in grocery and discount stores. These are often available for $1 per package. We have quite a large accumulation of these.  Some of these letters and numbers are plastic and they have a small magnet attatched to the back.  Recently we found some words, shapes, and pictures that were laminated paper glued to a magnet.  These are great for spelling practice, matching, and making sentences.  The kids can play with these on the front of your refrigerator (unless it is not steal front, unfortunately this house had a “stainless” fridge and magnets don’t stick. The kids have missed playing on our fridge as we have done in the past). We currently use cookie sheets for letter and number magnetic play.

Toy trains are available with magnetized ends. This makes them easy to connect and disconnect. We love using the Thomas The Train products that have these. Some of our trains are going on twelve years of hard use at our house. These are a very durable toy.  Check out local garage sales and thrift stores to find good deals on these train toys.

We have a fishing game that has a magnet on one end (the hook) and it attracts the metal on the fish and wallah, your child has caught a fish. You can make a home made version by attaching a magnet on a string and tie it onto a stick to make a fishing pole. Then put paper clips on felt or paper cutouts. This is great to practice shapes, letters, numbers, matching, etc.

Another home made fishing idea is to use a chain necklace like the ones used on “dog” tags/ or chain from a key chain.  A magnet will stick to the chain.  Then just hold the magnet over other objects by the chain and see what happens.

Magnetic Construction

Another fun magnetic toy we play with are large cylinders, and spheres that have magnets in them.  We use these to build funny structures that hold together with the power of magnets.   I love these because they are brightly colored and can be used by kids of all ages. Even the younger kids understand the power of magnets using these construction pieces.  Read about my toddler’s funny “Happy Birthday” magnet line up.

You can make a homemade version of construction items by hot glueing or super gluing magnets onto craft sticks, popcycle sticks, paint sticks, foam shapes, blocks, or recycled items (lids, boxes, cans, bottles, etc).  I plan to make a version of these soon.  I have seen an adorable magnetized construction set all made with recyclables such as juice lids, tin cans, slinky, and more.   Set out a big tray of these items and let the kids use their imagination to build with.

Travel Games & Busy Bags

We have several wonderful magnetized travel games.  These come in many varieties such as: bingo, checkers, chess, funny faces, mazes, matching, and more.

These are just as fun to play with at home as they are on the road.   We use them for quiet activity time in the car, at appointments when the kids need to stay quiet, and at home.

Magnetic Dolls

My toddlers and preschoolers love to play with “dress up” the magnetic dolls.  They are similar to the idea of paper dolls, but they are made of wood, and are a whole lot sturdier and can withstand years of use. 

We gave them each a set of wooden magnetic dress up dolls for Christmas.
The girl doll came with dresses, skirts, shirts, pants, and shoes.  The boy set came with various costumes for fireman, policeman, super hero, pirate, construction worker, and a knight.  Both sets come with a wooden stand so the figure can be upright.  But you can also dress and play with it laying flat too.

They have had lots of fun playing with these and using their imagination.  These are great for developing eye hand coordination and gross motor skills as well as cognitive skills.   Both of these sets have been great for teaching about clothing, dressing habits, color coordinating, role play, and used when we talk about community helpers, and for free play.  We also like to get them out when a quiet activity is needed (like when the baby is napping), and when we read stories.

I would like to get them each a new set this year with more boy and girl figures and with more dressing options.  I will be looking for clothing  for the boy with different outfits, costumes for the girl, and clothing for more community helpers and dress up clothes for cultures around the world.&n
bsp; I would also like to find some pets like cats, dogs, and horses, etc. to play with.  I hope that by having more than one boy and one girl, we can do some fun role play with quick costume changes too.  Eventually I would love to create a space with a large magnetic board low on a wall with a small shelf at the base for using these wonderful learning toys, and also for using letters, numbers, and other magnetized objects.   


Experiment 1

Take two magnets and place two ends of them together.  What happens?  Now, turn one of the magnets around and place the two ends together again.  What happens?
Describe it in your own words ( if you place a south pole and a south pole together (or a north and a north), the magnets push away from each other, but if you place a south and a north end together, they pull together). 

Experiment 2

Collect various objects from around the house to test.  We collected pipe cleaners, keys, leather, cotton, crayons, pencils, paper clips, yarn, money, small toys, metal spheres, glass cup, plastic cup, and metal objects.

Have the kids hypothesize what will happen when they place the magnet near different objects.  Which objects will be attracted to the magnet?
Have kids investigate their hypothesis by placing the magnet near the object.
Did the object move toward the magnet?
Did the object move away from the magnet?
Did the object move at all?


Through play and investigation we learn and demonstrate that

        magnets have positive (north) and negative (south) poles
        opposite polls (one positive and one negative) attract each other
        like polls (two positives or two negatives) repel each other
        you can feel the force of attraction (pulling) and the force of repelling (pushing)

Want to know more?  Check out these fun videos:

Did you know the earth is like a great big magnet?  The earth has a magnetic field and this holds it in place in the universe, the orbit with the sun, and a whole lot more. 

At our house, we think playing and learning with magnets, no matter what shape or form, (and no matter how young or old you are) is a lot of fun.

Question: What magnetic toys do your children enjoy playing with?  We love to hear from you, thank you for leaving your comments below.

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
ABC and 123

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Journeys Of Faithfulness

Need a bible study topic for your teen, or young adult, daughter?  You might give Journeys Of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson a try.  Sarah has written a book designed to challenge and strengthen what you believe about yourself, your experience and place in life, and God’s plan.

What is a journey?
  Journey is to pass from one place to another, or from one stage in one’s life into another.
                                                                                                    (paraphrased from source)
What is faithfulness?
    Faithfulness is to be loyal to one’s vows, steadfast in allegiance, and reliable.
                                                                                                    (paraphrased from source)  

Journeys Of Faithfulness is a collection of stories about faith and life written for young women.  It contains biblical truths, the author’s personal journey, and historical fiction.  It is also written as a devotional or bible study.  This book would be useful for small groups, a mother and daughter study, and for individual study. 

This book looks at what life challenges might have been like for 5 heroic, yet common, women mentioned in the bible: Mary and Martha (sisters), Mary (the mother of Jesus), Esther, and Ruth. By examining similar feelings, relationships, and circumstances young women face today, we can perhaps see ourselves in the places and times of these biblical women.


Through out the book, each chapter contains a historical fiction passage about a biblical young woman, then a devotional about the author’s life and real scenarios she faced and how she compares herself in relation to the biblical character, then a biblical study of scripture passages with questions to answer, and finally a “journey journal” to record your own journey of faith including thoughts, prayers, and scripture.  This journey process is repeated for each chapter (a total of 12 times).

The books is 215 pages and it is divided into four main parts and contains twelve chapters.
        Part One: Mary & Martha
                   1. Learning to See
                   2. A Circle Of Glory
                   3. The Hush Of Love

        Part Two: Mary, Mother Of Jesus
                    4. Story Formed Soul
                    5. Swords and Starlight
                    6. The Great Adventure

        Part Three: Esther
                    7. Heart Alive
                    8. For Such A Time
                    9. Courageous Beauty

        Part Four: Ruth
                   10. Claiming The Light
                   11. To Walk In Darkness
                   12. Desire Of My Heart


Journeys of Faithfulness is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc, a well known publisher name of Christian curriculum and books.  Journeys of Faithfulness retails for  $13.00 and is written for girls and women ages 12 and older.  You can read a free sample of the first chapter, “Learning To See”, of the book before you buy.

What We Thought

This book is great as a fictional read that encourages faith, and also as a bible study.  It uses a lot of descriptive words and is almost poetic at times.  I could also see this book working for a word study or a study about a writer’s style, though that is not the original purpose of the book.

I would encourage mothers to read it with their teen daughters and provide lots of discussion of the various journeys each of the fictional lives portrayed, as well as their own personal journey.  You can read this at whatever pace works well for you, such as work on a chapter a day, or a chapter a week.  The book could last you a few weeks, or several months depending on how fast you want to complete it. 

I would also advise a word of caution for parents of younger teens, as the book discusses romantic feelings and desires, that some parents may or may not be ready to discuss with their younger daughters (some girls ages 12 to 15 might be a little immature for this subject).  However, older teens and adult young women would definitely be able to relate to the romantic feelings and subject matter expressed by the writer.  You as a parent know your daughter better than anyone, and you are the best judge of the maturity of your daughter and when she might be ready for this. 

I would recommend this book for mom’s and adult women too.  I think we often miss out on relating to women in scriptures, partly because so much is left un-said.  Sarah Clarkson has her own opinion about what might have been going on in the hearts and minds of these women.  She does a beautiful job of putting her vision for these women into words. 

Moms are so busy with motherhood and being a wife that we often don’t have time to research deeper into the lives of other women and the women in the scriptures beyond a mention here or there.   An unswerving faith, steadfast commitment, loyalty in our relationship with God and the man he has chosen as our husband, is needed in our personal journey.  This book helps you get in touch with your relationship with the Lord, reflect on what life might have been like for these women and the men God placed in their lives to fulfill his plans and purpose, and enriches your personal journey. 

Be sure to stop in and see what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about this product.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the above mentioned product, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my honest opinion.

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We absolutely love the Box Of I.D.E.As. study kit we received to review.  It truly is a box of ideas for lots of fun learning adventures.  We were sent the SALT box, and it is awesome! 

Box Of I.D.E.As. kit contains 10 or more packets of pre-assembled activities to do with your kids.  Each activity packet, called a module, is self contained in a re-usable gallon size zip lock bag. Each module contains a learning guide/lesson plan, and items for discovery, games, or manipulatives to complete the lesson plans, weblinks, learning extension activities, and a worksheet.  Each BOX of I.D.E.As. contains at least 10 worksheets for your portfolio, and an SAT style test about the subject covered.

Academic subject areas covered include: Science, Geography, Math, History, Economics, Writing, Vocabulary, Research, and more.  It is basically like a unit study, divided into 10 modules, and all the subject areas revolve around a central topic or theme. 



There are currently  6 topics or themes available.  They are recommended for kids ages 9 to 16, and can be self directed, but I think they are adaptable to just about any age with parental assistance.  They are available in both printed form and pdf form including:

 Pigs How pork is in everything we use from food, to soap and cosmetics, and organ and tissue implants, Pigs in the history of war, different cuts of pork, the job of a butcher, pig breeds, and more.

World War Two (3)  A closer look at Hawaii, Japan, Military, History, Economics, Pearl Harbor attack, and more. 

Eleven (3) Includes topics such as Veterans Day, US Space Program, US History and Geography, and more.

Salt (3) Includes topics such as History, Science, Preservation of foods, Geography, Gandhi and his historical salt march, etc.

Quilting (3) American History and alternate forms of communication, inventions, community projects, charity works, etc.

Laundry (3) Chemistry of bleaching, global water usage and stewardship, pollution, money management, business management, and more.

WWII Pearl Harbor is currently being reviewed by some of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  Be sure to see the link at the bottom to hear what they thought about using it in their homeschool.

Additional subjects are in the works and will be available soon including:
Mystery, WWII Kitchen, WWII Innovations, Olives, Pine, Cemeteries, and many more!


The Box of I.D.E.As. kits cost $79 for a box that contains 10, or more modules.   Extra modules of the consumables are available for a very small fee.   You can also buy the pdf version for $49. and print the kits yourself.  


The pdf version would be a great option for many homeschool families overseas to avoid shipping costs.  Also classrooms and coops might benefit from printing their own.  However, I definitely liked the actual box of pre-printed materials, as it made it so handy to jump right in and get started with no prep work required.  And it makes it handy if you want to take a module with you on the go.

MODULES in our SALT Box Of I.D.E.As. kit includes:

History Of Salt: lesson plan study guide; extension activities (find bible references for salt, research salt wars, compare food preservation methods with salt vs modern non salt methods, write a paragraph about a civilization impacted by salt and what it was like to live there at that time); web links; worksheet (writing assignment), Games with 45 salt timeline cards (played as a game; can also be used for additional learning activities).

Science Of Salt: lesson plan study guide; extension activities (field trip to the DOT to view a salt truck used on road maintenance in winter, research and list 25 things salt is used for, talk with a nutritionist or doctor about the effects of salt in the human diet); web links (make a salt volcano, floating egg in salt water, observe how salt is formed); worksheet (science experiment rock salt vs ice melt); 1/4 cup rock salt, 1/4 cup ice melt, 3 empty ziplock bags.

Very Salty: hypersaline lakes lesson plan study guide; extension activities (learn what salt lakes are used for salt production and the methods salt is collected, research the living ecosystem of two salt lakes, research why it is easier to float in a lake with a higher salt content then write about it and your conclusions); web links ; worksheet (math and geography and writing about salt lakes); 36 Salt puzzle cards (beautiful photo graphs of salt lakes with facts on the back of the cards, learn to calculate lake volumes, if you answer correctly then the picture on the reverse is correct).

Producing Salt: how salt is produced lesson plan study guide; extension activities (research if there are salt mines in the area where you live and take a field trip to see one, find out the pros and cons of the most expensive and least expensive methods of extracting salt from the earth, make a solar evaporator and find out how long it takes to work and compare how much salt you used to make the brine with how much you extracted); weblinks (video of midwestern salt harvest, salt mine in Poland, salt mines and oil deposits); worksheet (and investigate a news story about a salt mine and worker safety); salt activity mat and 24 salt habitat cards.

Language Of Salt:  how language and culture is impacted by salt lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( find the word for salt in several different languages and see how many places, roads and bodies of water you can find with that root word in that particular country, interview people and test their knowledge of salt idioms, write or chart your findings, look up the original literal meaning of sayings that use the word salt and find out what they really mean and how it has changed or not changed over time in modern society); web links; worksheet (salty sayings); 24 Said With Salt activity cards (game to match salty sayings and vocabulary words and picture cards).

The Salt March:
Civil Disobedience lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( find ways Gandhi peacefully fought British Rule of India, watch the movie Gandhi, research and list other activists who used some of Ghandhi’s methods and list them); web links; worksheet (The British in India history timeline); Marching for freedom map, 16 double sided activity cards.

The Wall That Salt Built: Great Wall Of China lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( Chinese trade items, Ming Dynasty research and write about what life was like for the people, why was Marco Polo important in European and Chinese history?); web links; worksheet (about how salt was used as money and power); 45 activity cards (Centurie
s, Components, and Sections game).

Need For Salt: Why humans and animals need salt lesson plan study guide; extension activities (where do animals find salt?, research and list health problems that occur from too much salt, research and list health problems that occur from a lack of enough salt in the diet); web links, worksheet (searching for salt in our foods, reading labels of 20+ items in your pantry); 2 Sodium Content Charts; a write on wipe off menu planner; dry erase marker.

Preserving With Salt: preserving with salt lesson plan study guide; extension activities ( research and make a list of foods still preserved with salt brine, research the smoking method of food preservation and write a paragraph about it, do an experiment preserving food with salt), web links; worksheet (Food Safety Math); 24 SALT cards; Preserving by Salt game board; Dice, 4 plastic game markers.

Salt Of The Earth: leading countries who produce of salt; extension activities (research how much revenue salt brings into one of the countries that are listed as a leading producer of salt, pick an exotic place that salt comes from and research what it is like to live there and write a paragraph about why or why not you would want to live there, take a field trip to the grocery store and check the salt isle to learn where salt products are manufactured and what countries it is from and if any are imported from oversees);  web links; worksheet (graph the top eight salt production nations, find the metric tons for three top salt producing nations); world map and 16 activity cards.


Salt Of The Earth

In the Salt Of The Earth module, we were given a world map, 16 country & salt production cards, a game board, a reproducible graph worksheet, and a lesson plan sheet.

We learned where in the world salt comes from. 

We learned how much salt is produced by the top producing 16 countries.

We played games with the fact cards and put the countries in numerical order based on how much salt their country produces each year.

Next we graphed the salt production of 8 countries, in tons, on a graph. The module came with a worksheet and I made copies of the worksheet for each of my children to do.  Once completed, this worksheet can go into a portfolio or a lapbook or notebook. 

It was suggested in the extension activities of this module to take a field trip to the grocery store to see how many kinds of salt we could find and where they come from.  But, I seldom venture to grocery stores or other public places, other than the park, with all six kids in tow without my husband to help. So we opted to take a trip to our kitchen cabinet and pulled out various salts we had on hand.  We looked at the labels of each one to see where they were produced.  We had salts from Utah USA, others that said USA, and two varieties from France, one from the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, and several more.

We decided to make a display of the different salts on a plate, and label them.  We wanted to take a closer look at different kinds of salt.  Each of the kids took turns putting a spoonful of salt on our display.  We placed a label next to each salt so we would know what it was.  We made a display with seven different salts.


We wanted to see the salt crystals with our eyes, compare the different sizes of salt crystals, and feel them with our fingers. It was very interesting to feel the different varieties of salt. We especially liked to feel the larger salt crystals. They feel hard, and are cube like. They resemble the look of small pieces of ice and some look like sand.

We tasted each salt to learn which kinds we liked the best.


Of course, I have tested many salts in my kitchen over the years, and I know hands down, my favorite salt is Celtic sea salt from France.  I use it for cooking and salting before serving the food. It brings out the flavor of everything, and I love it!  My third choice of a sea salt for taste and affordability is a sea salt from Portugal.

Eden Celtic Sea Salt

Salina Naturally Celtic Sea Salt

The Himalayan salt is one we enjoy, but use sparingly due to the cost of it.  But it is nice to serve when we have company.  It is a lovely faded pinkish white color and has a light flavor.  It It makes a great conversation topic with company.  It also sticks nicely to popcorn!

Himalayan Salt

But I keep several other salts on hand for different purposes. The salt from Utah is called REAL Salt. I buy it in bulk (5lb to 25lb bags) at a good price and store it in mason jars. It is high in minerals, and it works wonders when you need a home remedy to sooth a sore throat.  I use it in my baking too.

Real Salt

Table salt, kosher salt, and rock salt are cheap to buy and work for melting ice in science experiments and melting ice for making ice cream.   I have used kosher salt many times in making broths, canning, and so forth.  I don’t personally use table salt in my cooking or serving at my table as I believe it has been altered by human hands during the manufacturing process and it is not a healthy salt to consume. Table salt is a by product of the mining industry that mines other minerals such as copper. Our family uses natural salts in either sea salt, or real salt for consumption.

You can find a variety of salt in grocery stores, healthy food stores, and online. If you are interested, there are some great and unusual salt options available. I love using the salts from Hawaii, and smoked sea salt on meat. There are salts that are black, red, pink, grey, white, etc. Get a little adventurous and challenge your taste buds to a test to see which salt you like the best!

Language Of Salt

It is surprising how many of our words and phrases historically have salt as the root.  Over time, many of the original meanings have been lost on the newer generations, but the word or phrase itself has remained.  Countries all around the world face this same situation.  All human life is dependant on salt, and interestingly, salt is part of every language and culture both literally and symbolically. 

Matching up the word or phrase with the original meaning.

Completing our worksheet about the language of salt.


Preserving With Salt

Preserving With Salt Game


Lay the provided color coded question cards on the game board.  Set out your game pieces. Roll the dice.  Move the number of spaces corresponding to the dice.  Answer the question correctly, keep the card.  Answer the question incorrectly, leave the card and the play moves to the next player.

The first person to answer enough questions correctly, and acquire the Letters / Colors to spell the word SALT wins the game.

Part of the learning with salt included details about food preservation, and human preservation through mummification.  Several web links were given on the subject of mummification.

We are planning to do a science experiment and preserve some foods with salt, but sometimes opportunity guides the day and we found another “preserving with salt” experiment to do first.  The kids found lots of slugs outside after it rained one afternoon.  There must have been over 20 slugs just in one small area of the front yard.

Slugs are moist and prefer moisture.  They become more active when the ground is moist from dew or rain.  They can only survive in moist environments.

We wanted to learn what would happen if salt was put on a slug.  We used one of the slugs we found in the yard for this experiment. We talked about this experiment would kill the slug.  The kids and I agreed to allow this slug to die so we could observe the effects of salt, and dehydration, for the sake of our science investigation.  

We observed the slug after an hour and it had shrank in size by half.  We left the slug to continue to dry out with table salt overnight and checked it the next morning. I was really glad we did this experiment outside and not in my kitchen!

The salt was saturated, the slug had shrunk even more and exploded droplets of liquid in about a six inch radius.  It had also oozed a liquid down the rail
ing and pooled on the porch.  YUCK!

The kids added more table salt to see what would happen again.  We will leave it for another day and see!  Again, I am so glad we did this experiment, and I am so glad we did it “outside”!  We will save preserving fruit for our “inside” hands on learning experiment.


So what did we think of the Salt Box Of I.D.E.As.?  We loved it!  This is a fascinating way to learn.  It is hands on.  It contains a wide variety of activities related to a central subject, just like a unit study.  It give several internet links for further research and videos to view.  All we need now are a few library books, and make a lapbook to round out this unit study on salt.  We are going to see what books we can find on the subject and continue our learning adventure!  We still have a few modules to finish about salt, and we are going to continue with this the fun learning adventure.

Please stop over at the 
Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews about the Box Of Ideas products.


Disclaimer:  I received the BOX Of I.D.E.As. SALT mentioned above, as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, at no cost to me in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my personal opinion.

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Summer Rain

Summer Rain

It has been hot and humid this summer. We have had lots of rain too. Some predictable adn some unpredictable rain. We make plans to go to the park and boom, a thunder cloud erupts and we have to change plans. Then on days we are told it will for sure rain, we wait, and wait, and postpone other activities, and nothing, nada, zip for hours and hours!

What do we do when it is predicted to rain with 80% chance and over 90+% humidity? The air becomes so heavy and it is very uncomfortable to be outside when it is like this. But we make the most of it and spend the day outside anyway on our front porch.

A few weeks ago, I started writing about this post about the rainy summer weather we have been having. One day when we got up, it had rained all night. The yard was drenched . The sidewalk and driveway was wet. A friend emailed us and said the park was soaked too. So we canceled our park outing and picnic.

The kids often enjoy watching and playing in the rain. So in anticipation of more rain today, we set up a table on the porch to do some activities waiting for the storm to arrive and to pass. But
every cloud that rose up, seemed to just decided to go out and around us at the last minute.  The rain cloud teased us. It taunted us.  It was rainning at the park, rain was on the radar, but there was no rain on the house and yard.

Playdough was a fun way to take our mind off of the waiting.  We also invited neighbor friends to join us.  We have practically spent the entire summer playing daily with the neighbor kids.  All of these kids were silly for hours. Then we ate lunch and played some more silly games, waiting, and watching for the rain.  We could hear thunder, and see lightning in the distance.  So we waited some more.

Finally, after hours of play and waiting, the rains began. It was inevitable. It was refreshing. We enjoyed watching it rain.

The baby was super excited to have a front row seat. Pitter patter, pitter patter, the rain dripped and dropped and splashed all around the house and yard.

Despite the warm temperatures, the children ran inside and put on jackets to keep the rain off of them while they colored pictures in the rain.

They often get to play out in the rain, even dance in the rain, but not if there is lightning.  If it is a thunderstorm then they have to stay on the porch or in the house until it passes. Today they begged to stay outside, so playing with playdough, eating lunch, and coloring on the porch was a good way to pass the time and enjoy the rain at the same time.

More Rain In The Forecast

Today is another one of these summer rain days. The neighbor kids have been here most of the day. We’ve played restraunt, we have made note books with construction paper, writing paper, paper cutter, scissors, stickers, and staples. We have drawn and decorated our notebooks. We have played house with babydolls. We have played cars with toy cars. We have written with chalk on the chalk board.  Then we ate lunch of homemade pizzas and chocolate milk.

The kids have been waiting. They have been anticipating it all day. They know soon it is going to rain.

The storm is on it’s way. This mom is tired and tuckered out. It has been a long, hot, and humid day. We had three or four of these days last week, and this is day three so far this week. The clouds are getting darker. The radar is showing rain and storms in the area, though it is still dry outside.  The toys are scatterer all over the porch and yard, the children are trying to get in as much playtime as they can before the storm hits.  They know it is about to happen. The kids are anticipating……RAIN.

As I write this, the rain has begun. The kids are so excited. The neighbor kids are just as excited too and they are playing on the porch, and dancing out in the summer rain.

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Lego and Robotics Academy July 2012

Dinos In July

When my third son turned 7 in January, he became an official member of the Lego and Robotics Academy 4H club.  The club members are ages 7-18.  Siblings can attend, play quietly, and watch.  But he is no longer an observer.  Now he actually gets to participate.  He has been overjoyed to say the least.  He looks forward to the next meeting all month long. He received a dinosaur set for his birthday and took it to his first club meeting for Show and Tell.

Given his new found “member” status, and his love of dinosaurs and Legos, this same 7 year old son came to me and said “Mom, can we do a dinosaur theme for our Lego club competition?”  I don’t know what I was thinking when I said “Sure son, I will see what I can do to create a dinosaur program for our club.”   For months I have banged my head on the wall trying to figure out how to make this happen.  I questioned myself “Had I spoke to soon?”  I said that fateful “Sure” almost six months ago, and month after month, I “wasn’t sure” how to make it happen.  Finally, July was our opening for the dinosaurs.

I have never ever met a kid that didn’t like dinosaurs.  They are fascinating creatures.  We have learned much about them, yet in the larger scheme of life and history, we know so little about them.  Still much of what we think we know is conjecture and speculation.

Over the past several hundred years, man has uncovered bones, teeth, claws, poop, eggs, and has tried to piece together a picture of these monsters from the past.  My children and I have read books, watched videos, and watched some of the re-creation programs on the Discovery channel over the past few years, where historians, palenientologists, archeologists and film makers have come together to try to recreate the “land of the dinosaurs”.  We have also compared what we hear and learn from these programs to the bible and biblical dinosaur experts from places like the Creation Museum in Kentucky and in Texas.   Still, no matter how much we know, don’t know, and guess, we find these creatures mysterious and fascinating.

Today’s 4H Club Meeting Agenda & Plans:

You are a designer/engineer wanting to create a dinosaur Lego and robotic model based on clues from the animals that lived in the past, and from ideas of current technology. 
Observe the “land of the dinosaurs”.  Pick them up, touch, looking closely at details, etc.
Draw your own dinosaur creation on Lego Brick Paper
Observe a technogaget toy dinosaur robot that transforms from dinosaurs of the past into a fast car of the present.
Build a T-Rex Lego Creations Dinosaur
Go exploring and dig in sand pits like archeologists for lots of different kinds of dinosaurs.
Re-create a “land of the dinosaurs” using the ideas of paleontologists, the dinosaurs from the sand pit dig, and the Lego dinosaur you built.


We had a short business meeting.  Today was a little different as we had a substitute president who openend the meeting, and a substitute vice president who introduced visitors and new club members (our president and vice president were not able to be there today).  The secretary went over “stuff” we have going on such as our Raffle Fundraiser, and upcoming 4H Animal Showmanship Clinic, and the upcoming projects for the NC Mountain State Fair. 


Land Of The Dinosaur

Today I set up a “Land of the Dinosaurs” display at the front of the room.  The display contained kits from Animal Planet Tub of Dinosaurs (various size and kinds of dinosaurs, and volcanoes, trees, land and water) and Discount School Supply’s Giant Dinosaurs.   We also had V-Tech Switch & Go Dinos (RoboticTransforming Dinosaurs), a Diego Jeep, Binoculars, shovels and sifters, tweezers, magnifying glasses, clothes pins & wooden eggs (to build a nest), and a hand broom.

Design Challenge:

The kids were encouraged to come up and handle the dinosaur display, look closely feel all of the items, etc.

Then they were asked to take a seat, get an idea in their mind of a dinosaur they would like to build. The kids were each given a piece of special graph paper called Lego brick paper and a sharpened pencil.  They were asked to draw the shape of their creation on the Lego brick paper.


Learning to translate their ideas onto paper is such an important step in their learning process.  It builds and enhances many cognitive skills in the design process.  Lego MBA curriculum encourages kids to draw their designs.  We got the Lego Brick Graph Paper from the Lego MBA website.  See below for a link for this printable.


They were given about 20 minutes to accomplish this task.  They were asked to take their drawing home and build a dinosaur with Legos based on their drawing.  The Lego brick paper is great because you can count how many Lego bricks long the nose is, or how many tall the body is, or how many bricks you need for the tail, etc.  The kids can get a rough idea and it helps them gage how many bricks they will need to use to create their design.  If they make changes to the design, then they should make the changes on their Lego brick paper.  They were asked to bring back a finished dinosaur they have created and their drawing they based it from, to the next club meeting for show and tell.


Next, they spent some time playing with two different VTech Switch & Go Dinos.  My 9 year old son, and 12 year old son demonstrated for the club how these work.  These are robotic transforming dinosaur toys.  They have a robotic head / face that has over 50 sound effects and facial features to choose from.  They transform from dinosaurs into race cars that race across the floor, and the dino face becomes the car window and kids can choose a driver that appears in the window and racing sound effects with the buttons. 

We passed these around to all the kids and they transformed them back and forth and pushed the buttons to select different options.  They looked at how the toys were made and located the speakers where the sound comes out. 

They hypothesized about the computer program that created and recorded the sounds.  They deciphered it was pre-programmed to sense motion which activated the pre-recorded sounds.  We have experimented with a program like this in our club meetings with the Lego Education WeDo Robotics.  The kids have programmed a Roaring Lion (sleeps /snores, eats /chomps, and sits up and roars).  All the sounds are motion activated and the actions are movement or tilt activated.  This was a neat way to tie in the concepts of what they have been learning and see how an inventor used this process in a toy (VTech Dino) that kids play with.

Build Challenge:

Next, they were divided into two teams.  They were given a box of Lego Creator Prehistoric Hunters kits.  These have 191 pieces.  Each set creates three different dinosaurs. 


Today the building challenge was to build the T-Rex model.   They had 35 minutes to work together as a team and build the model. 


Learning to work together as a team to accomplish a goal is very important. In these huddles, you will find them negotiating, suggesting, helping, encouraging, taking turns, setting out parts for each other, asking each other questions, and moving towards the goal.


When they had finished building the T-Rex, the teams had to explain what techniques (they have learned about techniques in Lego MBA), that they used to build this dinosaur model.

Here are just a few of the techniques the kids used:

  • Color

  • Locking

  • Sideways Building

  • Symmetrical

  • Balance

  • Hinge

  • Detailing

Next they went outside and explored a sand pit (large boxes of sand) full of buried dinosaurs.  They had 10 minutes to locate various dinosaurs with shovels and scoops, and them clean them off with a brush. 

Then bring the dinosaurs they found back inside and re-create the scene they observed and played with at the front of the room at the beginning of the meeting. 
Once they were back inside at their team’s table, they had to use blue and green construction paper, dinosaurs they uncovered in the sand pits, trees, volcanos, and their Lego T-Rex dinosaur they built to re-create a “Land Of The Dinosaurs” scene.


Team 1 was first finishing their dinosaur, but both team 1 and team 2  tied in the end by the time they had everything finished. (a fellow is missing in the picture for team 2). It was a good Dinosaur Building Competition.

 Show and Tell

Next we had Show and Tell.  For our Show and Tell portion of the meeting, kids bring various items related to Legos, robotics, or things they have created, or projects they are interested in to the meeting.  Most of the time these creations are made with their Lego MBA kits.  But they are welcome to bring in other things too.  We usually spend about 30 minutes or so.  Each kid is asked to spend about 3 minutes telling us about what they brought.

We had a four different kids bring projects they made with their Lego MBA kits.  There were airplanes, space planes, space trash collection ship, and a rock band all made with their Lego MBA kits.  The plane in the second photo above was actually made using three kits from his Lego MBA program.  Wow, what a master piece!


The kids also shared a r
obot made from a soda pop can, a Robots movie, and a Bloco Dinosaur building set my son just got the night before and didn’t have a chance to build it yet.  

Bloco Dinosaur Building Set   He plans to bring the finished project next time.  He was so excited to find this kit. 

Here is a video of one of the kids showing the kids his soda pop can robot he built with his dad:

Where to find resources:

Lego Brick Paper

Giant Soft Dinosaur Set

Animal Planet Big Tub of Dinosaurs 

VTech Switch & Go Dinos

You would not believe the love and hugs and comments I got for days following the meeting.  That was awesome mom, lets do it again!  That was so much fun!  

Whew!  It all came together… now…. I need to….. get busy….. and plan….. the next one…….


 If you can help with donations to our fundraising efforts for these kids, please see the fundraising story posted here  to see how you can help us.

This post will be linked up with

No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers

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