April Cross Stitch Update

I feel like jumping up and down!  I finished Parrot Floral II last week!  Here is a quick view of the finished stitching.



I’ve still got to see if there are any spots to clean and iron it.  My plan is then to stretch the design over canvas because  I think it would make a great canvas, especially for the girls’ room.  I think the bright colors would go well with their bubblegum pink walls :-)  I’ll definitely add it to next month’s update when I get it stretched and finished, so that you can see it the way it has always been in my head.

Since I was so productive last week, I also started stitching a Christmas card.  It’s a free kit that came inside a World of Cross-Stitching magazine called “Festive Rudolph.”  I don’t actually have the designer’s name on it, but he’s certainly going to be cute.


Rose was totally scandalized that I was starting a Christmas stitch, but my plan is to make lots of ornaments and cards, both for our tree and for gifts for this year.  (So, friends and family, if you see something in the upcoming months that you’d like to have, let me know  :-) )  I’m a pretty slow stitcher since I have so many other things keeping me busy, so I need to get started doing a few things in between other projects now!

Happy Birthday Owlet!

It’s official!  We’ve passed the stage of cute and tiny toddlers into our house and are moving full swing into the preschool years with your younger children.

Owlet turns three today!  She even potty trained last week, and on the days that she’s not sucking on her passy everywhere she goes, she doesn’t even look like a baby anymore.  She’s still prone to sucking on her passy though and falling asleep suddenly wherever she gets tired.


She’s also still very grumpy when she doesn’t get her nap in.


She loves My Little Pony, Equestria Girls and Frozen.  She’s beginning to be able to imagine and play pretend.


She’s definitely Mama’s baby, and she doesn’t like to be separated from me for long.  She’s very shy and sometimes has a hard time talking when she’s in a crowd.


She wants to be just like her big sister, and she gets very upset when Rose doesn’t want to play with her.


She and Monkey are so close in age and abilities that I often think that having them close together must be similar to what it feels like to have twins.  They play together, love on each other, often hold hands, and then turn around and have the hugest fights.  Usually it’s because Monkey’s trying to boss her around, and she doesn’t take it well :-)


So, happy birthday, Owlet!  I hope turning three makes for a very special day!

This Week: Relaxing into Spring

Spring has come to Georgia over the past couple of weeks.  We’re still having a cool day here or there, but more often than not, the days are beautiful and warm and we’re ready to play.  School will still be going on because we school year round, but just like last Spring and Summer, you’ll begin to see the pace drop off a little.  I could tell it in this week’s wrap-up especially since the children spent the better part of two days playing outside this week :-)

I’m starting with the preschoolers because they’re so little and cute.  Monkey has been showing some interest in his letters, and so I thought it would be a great time to begin meandering through the alphabet.  So, we’ve started (and will be continuing) an apple theme with them this week.  I’m thinking about a monthly alphabet letter theme that will take Monkey through his pre-k and kindergarten and Owlet all the way through pre-k.  I’ll be sharing some more posts about that later.

a is for apple


We also continued with ARTistic Pursuits this week.  It turned out to be the perfect week to do the lesson about looking at nature and nature scavenger hunts.  The little kids decided not to participate in the actual drawing, so they just enjoyed looking at nature.  One of the things that I’m loving about ARTistic Pursuits is that we’ve started it in the Spring, and some of the lessons are so much fun to just take outside.


artistic pursuits


I also started going through and putting my resources together for the new history program that I’m reviewing: Heroes and Heroines of the Past.  If we hadn’t of taken a couple of days of spring break, we would have already started it, but we plan to start at the beginning either today or Monday.

We also read Who Was Amelia Earhart? this week.  The children though the first part of the book was boring, but ended up being fascinated by the mysterious end to her life.



We did some serious Easter crafting this week.  We made paper plate bunnies.  I love the footprint ears!  We also colored giant Easter eggs from Mr. Printables and we made chicks and bunnies from Krokotak.  I loved the way that they all turned out and we hung the paper plate bunnies and eggs up as Easter decorations.


Easter crafts


We were back in our Bold Believers of the Hmong People book this week.  We learned about the Hmong New Year and about animism.  We also learned some great scriptures to remind us to share the good news.




We also continued working out of Logic of English this week.  Don’t scoff.  This is our third week in lesson one.  Rose is truly having a difficult time with words like “hand” and “fast.”  She’s never really segmented sounds before, so we’re adding in a lot of the optional activities and playing games to see if we can get these basic phonemes down and see if we can get used to the idea of sounding words out before we begin moving to some more complex words and phonemes.  Firecracker is more than ready to move on, but he’s enjoying working at her pace, so I’m allowing them to work through it together.


logic of english


The children remembered some floor puzzles that they had forgotten about this week, and they spent some time putting them together and taking them apart.  In fact, Firecracker and Rose even raced to see who could put the puzzles together the quickest.




We also began standardized testing this week.  We live in Georgia and are required to test every three years, beginning in third grade.  It feels like such a waste of money and time because I know how he’s doing, but Firecracker is being very good-natured and cooperative about doing the testing.


standardized testing


We also spent some time working with the Maestro Classics CD:  The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  We’re going to be working with it some more next week, using some of the suggestions in the guide and on their website, but I do have to say that Rose was inspired to make her own water xylophone this week without my prompting.  She also worked on adjusting pitch on her own to play the songs that she was interested in by ear.

We had our once a month bookclub this week.  Our theme was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and we made a triple chocolate cake.  It was delicious!  It was also our last book club of the year.  Sadly, by this time next month, all of our extracurricular activities will be over for summer.

We also spent an entire day at a friend’s house sewing this week.  Let’s just say that I’m still going to be buying the kids clothes!  Luckily, my Mom was there sewing too, or I wouldn’t have anything to show for it.  Since she was there to sew, I managed to come home with two pillowcase dresses for the girls.  On the other hand, I finished a cross-stitching project on Wednesday.  I’m letting it sit for a couple of days before I take some better shots for my monthly cross-stitching update.

My children also have spent a big part of their time this week drawing on our dry erase easel and our little dry erase boards.  I finally remembered to buy them some new markers!




I published several reviews this week and a Civil War craft tutorial.  You should check them out if you have time.  I especially encourage you to check out my Star Chronicles Review because I’m giving away a PDF  copy of the book!

I guess that about does it for today’s weekly-wrap up.  I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Homegrown Learners

Curiosity Quest Review

Children are naturally curious.  The people at Curiosity Quest know that.  In fact, one of their mottos is “What are you curious about?”  They invite the children that watch their videos to “send them on a quest” by going to their website and suggesting a topic for them to explore.

So, when we had the opportunity to do a review for Curiosity Quest, I thought it would be great fun.  They sent us two DVD combo packs:  the DVD Combo Pack – Produce and the DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea.  Each of these DVD combo packs has three Curiosity Quest episodes on it, and each combo pack retails for $24.99.

Curiosity Quest is most appropriate for your elementary and middle school students as they gear their show towards children between the ages of 7 and 14.  I used these videos primarily with my nine and seven year old children.  My two and four year old preschoolers did watch the DVDs with us, but they weren’t that interested, and the episodes are way over the head of most young preschoolers.

The first DVD that we opened and watched was the DVD Combo Pack – Produce.  There are three episodes of Curiosity Quest on this DVD.  The DVD explores how mushrooms are grown, how cranberries are harvested and how oranges are packed.  Each episode is around thirty minutes long.

We actually watched each episode several times.  It was fascinating and new to both the children and me to see how these different produce items were grown and harvested.  When taken together though, they form a good picture of how different forms of produce make it from the farm to our stores.

In the orange episode, Joel visits a I was particularly interested in how many tests and steps the oranges have to get through from their farm to be actually packed up and sent off to the grocery stores.  They screen those oranges many times looking for imperfections before those oranges make it to the store.

The cranberry episode was also very interesting and picturesque.  Joel starts off at the cranberry farm, and the lovely red berries are floating in the water they’ve pumped in for harvest.  (The video explains how that works.)  The snow is falling as they talk, and it’s beautiful and feels wintry all at once.  We learned how they harvest, how they grade cranberries for the store versus the juicer, and how they package and send to the grocer. All along the way, the kids giggled as Joel took the handheld harvester and raced his interviewee, who got to use their regular machinery, in harvesting.


Our favorite episode on the DVD pack, however, was the mushroom episode.  We didn’t really realize that mushrooms were intentionally cultivated to begin with, much less how a mushroom facility worked.  It’s farming of a completely different type from what we had ever experienced.  We didn’t know that mushrooms were a fungus or how much temperature control was involved in growing the perfect mushroom.  We enjoyed seeing Joel try to pick mushrooms and how fast the regular pickers were able to harvest the mushrooms.

We were even inspired to make our own mushroom crafts while we thought about mushrooms.  It was definitely a Pinterest kind of afternoon.  We made egg carton mushrooms, a printable mushroom craft and even attached mushrooms to popsicle sticks for a mushroom popsicle stick theater performance.

mushroom crafts


Once we’d had our fill of mushroom crafts, we moved on to the DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea.  There are also three episodes on that DVD.  They cover sea turtle rescue, penguins and salmon.  Again, each episode is around 30 minutes.

We started with the penguins, and it’s such a fun episode that we watched it many times.  Joel is visiting penguins at Monterey Bay Aquarium.  He gets to help prepare their food, watch them interact with their environment and even pet them.  This video definitely has the “aww” factor as you watch the cute penguins waddle around and climb in and out through their habitat.

We also watched the salmon video.  It introduced us to a salmon hatchery and to the ideas that these fish that live in the ocean come back to the rivers that they were born in to breed and die.  The children loved seeing the jumping fish go up the salmon runs.  I enjoyed being able to see how an important food industry was maintained. I’ve had images in my head of what a salmon hatchery would be like, and it didn’t gel at all with the reality of what I learned about watching this episode.

However, as interesting as those two episodes are, we found the most fascinating episode by far to be the sea turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida.  Joel goes here and discovers what a sea turtle hospital does to treat turtles that are injured to heal them and prepare them for going back to the sea.

After watching them care for and feed the turtles, we just had to make our own baby sea turtles.  We also learned such facts as how fast sea turtles can swim, how big they can get and even that the way to tell a boy sea turtle from a girl one has to do with the size of it’s tail.

Once we made our own egg shell turtles, the children did a ton of pretend play based on the turtles that they had created and the new facts that they had learned in the video.

sea turtles


We loved Curiosity Quest.  It ended up being a fun and easy science supplement for our family.  When we found an episode that really resonated with the children, we would spend all afternoon looking up additional facts and crafts to go with the episode.  That makes for an educational afternoon and happy kids.

After watching our DVDs a couple of times, Firecracker wanted more episodes.  They loved watching the DVDs.  They even started playing their own version of Curiosity Quest where they would take other topics that they were learning about and making up fun facts for them.  Firecracker’s even thought of a couple of quests he would like to send Joel on!

I loved that these documentaries were fun and upbeat enough to keep the kids’ interest without being kiddish.  There was nothing cartoonish, game showish or gimmicky about these episodes, yet they appealed to the kids and to their parents.  I have a feeling that more Curiosity Quest videos are in our future, especially since I noticed that they have a homeschool subscription program.  I’m thinking seriously about signing us up!


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Building the USS Monitor

When we were studying the Civil War, one thing  I wanted to do was to help Firecracker build models of some of the vehicles and weapons that he was interested in.  It didn’t happen nearly as often as I would have liked, but occasionally I got it right.

One day we read The Monitor: The Iron Warship That Changed the World .  I knew, after reading that book, that we should make our own version of the Monitor.  I didn’t take enough pictures for a good picture tutorial, and for that I am sorry, but I’m hoping that you get the idea from my written instructions so that you can build your own.



The first thing we did was to take a half gallon orange juice carton and cut it in half lengthwise.  If any of the ends pop open, you can just staple those edges back together.

Set aside one half of the juice carton and pour about a cup of rice (or beans) into the other half.  It’s ballast so that the finished ship will sail in the water and not just float on top of it.

Once you have your rice in, take the other half of the juice carton that you set aside and cut out the large flat panel.  Place that flat panel over your rice, and begin to duct tape your ship together.  You’ll place duct tape over every piece of carton you see.  The duct tape is what’s going to make your ship water tight.

Once that’s done, take a small strip of carton and make a loop with it.  Tape that loop down to your boat.  (This is the place where your larger loop that is pictured is going to rest on the top of the boat.)

Now you can use another strip of orange juice carton (or a small can) for the gunhouse on top of the boat.  We used a strip of carton and a round piece of cardstock and a lot of duct tape  to make a circular bowl structure.  We also used a top to a soda bottle to be the gun and covered every piece of that with duct tape.

Then, you place your gunhouse over the first circular loop that you taped to the ship, and you can rotate it freely to shoot your gun.  Have fun pretending to be an ironclad ship and blowing all the old wooden ships out of the water!

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Star Chronicles Review and Giveaway

I have a nine year old and a seven year old who are really curious about the stars. They look outside at night and wonder what pictures they can see in the stars.  They know about Orion’s belt and the big dipper, but beyond that their curiosity has gone unfulfilled.  It’s not that I don’t want to supply knowledge, but it’s difficult to discuss these topics without going into myths, legends and astrology.  I struggle to balance my need to give them the knowledge that they’re looking for with my responsibility to nurture their budding Biblical worldview.

Star Chronicles

So, when I read author Dawnita Fogleman’s description of her new book, Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars, I was intrigued.  She said that this star study is meant to be fun and Biblically based, not an intense study and certainly not one with elements of astrology in it.

When I received the opportunity to review a copy of this unit study, I couldn’t help but be excited to get started.  I was provided with a PDF copy of the book, and before I even began to go through it with the children, I sat and read the entire unit study myself.

The first half of the book is an exploration of major constellation groups, starting with Virgo and progressing through each major sun sign’s constellation and close neighbors/partners so that all twelve months/signs are explored.  This is not a work of astrology or sun signs however.  Dawnita takes each constellation and relates it back to Biblical stories and to scripture.  She does use the traditional names of the constellation, and occasionally she mentions their myths as part of historical reference for how she is going to tie this constellation back to the Bible.  Sometimes she examines the names of the major stars within the constellation.  Other times, she only discusses the major constellation itself.

The second half of the book is filled with coloring sheets and notebooking pages.  My seven year old, who loves to color, let out a squeal when she saw the coloring pages because she was so excited to get started working her way through the constellations and coloring the pretty pages.

Dawnita gives you some information about each constellation, coloring pages and notebooking pages and mini books for lapbooking, so you are free to use the information to make your own lapbook, notebook or even scrapbook.  The forms in the back of the book make it so easy for you, as teacher, to customize your notebooking to your own style of teaching.

The  first line in the introduction to the study told us to review the Tower of Babel.  Since we had preschoolers participating who didn’t know the story, we didn’t just read the story.  I retaught it.  I spun it off in to its own mini unit study.

We also spent a whole day or two considering the Sphinx.  My children were interesting in learning more about what a sphinx was, so we found a coloring page and make a notebooking page from the material in the book.  We also sculpted our own  sphinx and watched some You Tube videos on ancient Egypt and pyramids.



We started our first constellation group with Virgo!  These are the actual full page size coloring sheets from the book.  Aren’t they beautiful?  (The children’s coloring is also beautiful!)


Fogleman also has full-page color star charts to go with each of the constellation groups.  Mean mom that I am, I  made my children trace them over a lightbox.  Then, we filled in the constellation groups with labels  as we read the stories and scriptures in Fogleman’s book.

We’re continuing to remember the constellation group in our review, and we have two or three points of interest that we’re wanting to look up before we go to our next constellation group.  We’re taking the fun and easy road.  Fogleman brings up a lot of interesting Bible stories and other information, and the children are enjoying taking their time, memorizing some of the verses that are in the text, and spinning off on some interest-led tangets as well.  Plus, I’d like to have my older two draw and label Virgo and her partners from memory before we move on to the next group.

At first I found it a little disconcerting that I was using Christianized stories of the stars with the children.  I didn’t seem right not to use the old Greek myths to explain the stars.  It didn’t seem scientific, and I’d never read any of the other Christian constellation books to see what other Christians had said.  Then, I laughed at myself.  It’s not like the fake gods of the Greeks should have a license to be the only way that we can look at the stars.  I started to see Star Chronicles as a reclamation of constellations for us as Christians.  If you use Fogleman’s book, you’ll still be learning the ancient names for the stars.  However, you’ll be using our stories and our truth to label them.

Dawnita recommends that you spend one week or one month on each constellation.  As you can clearly see from my review, we’re on the one month (to six weeks) plan for studying each constellation.  Let’s face it.  My children range in age from 9 to 2.  It’s going to take us at least a month to memorize each constellation’s name and place the stars right!

If you have older children, this would make a great supplement to an astronomy program as an additional resource for constellations, but for my children, this is a great stand-alone constellation resource.  We’re glad we’re getting to use this study.  In fact, this study is my seven-year-old’s favorite thing we’re doing right now.  She’s difficult to please, and this study is very high interest.

Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars is available on Dawnita Fogleman’s website in PDF format.  This PDF version is $12.  You can also order a hard copy of the study from CreateSpace for $25 or on Amazon for $22.35.

If you visit Fogleman Forerunner you can also download a sample lesson and see the beautiful star charts, coloring sheets and notebooking pages for yourself before you purchase.  If you purchase the PDF  version between now and April 20th, you can save 25% by using the code: STARMOMS


And now for the giveaway:  The author has generously agreed to give away one PDF copy of Star Chronicles:  A Bible-Based Study of the Stars to one lucky winner.  To enter, just leave a comment.  You may get up to two additional entries if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter and you leave me a comment telling me that you’re a follower. This giveaway will end on Friday April 18th!

Affiliate Disclosure:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you purchase through them, thank you for blessing our family!


Supercharged Science Review

Firecracker loves science.  He absorbs it, recites scientific facts to everyone he knows, and he has a strong desire to experiment and discover the answer to the question “What happens if…?”  So, when I received the opportunity to review Supercharged Science, I couldn’t pass it up.

I received a six month e-Science Premium Membership online subscription.  This subscription can be used with all students K-12, and if you have K-8 students, the membership is $37 per month.  If you have a 9th-12th grader, the subscription fee is $57 per month and includes some expanded materials.

The site is huge.  There are 20 different units of e-science.  They range from working on force and gravity to such things as astrophysics and electronics.  There’s plenty of life science included as well.  I can’t imagine that there could be many topics that you’d want to find out about that you couldn’t on the Supercharged Science website.  If you want to work on topics based on grade level, she has a section where topics and experiments are arranged in this manner too.


Supercharged eScience Review
To use the e-science membership, you’ll need a computer and a high speed internet connection.    A big part of the program is video based, with Aurora directly teaching via video or through demonstration of an experiment.  There will also be student exercise worksheets and text pages you’ll want to print out.  (High school students have more detailed text pages and math-based exercises and problems to solve in relation to the unit of study.)

Each unit also has a list of supplies that your child will need to complete the experiments.  Many of these are household objects.  However, other supplies will need to be purchased, and you may even find yourself needing specific pieces off of Amazon or Radio Shack to complete some of the more impressive experiments.

Aurora suggests that you look through the unit and decide which experiments you want to complete before you begin making purchases.  There are many experiments illustrating different aspects of the same principles in the units and you may find that you only want to do a few in each unit.

Even with that, we still found ourselves making purchases and a small trip to Radio Shack.  For the first time ever, we’ve set up a box in our house dedicated to science supplies so that everything that we would need to complete the experiments would be the right spot when it came time for science.  (There’s not really yogurt in the box.  I just have some smaller items stashed away in an old yogurt container!)

Science box


We looked at several different topics, trying to find just the right topic for us to begin with.  After much discussion between Firecracker and Rose, we decided to just start at the beginning with Unit 1:  Mechanics.

Each unit starts with a basic introduction.  There’s some introductory text and a video where you can listen to Aurora introduce the subject.  You can download a basic text for reading to your student and you can also download a shopping list.  It has everything that you will need if you do every experiment in the unit.  You’ll customize that, of course, based on the experiments that you actually choose complete.

Units are broken down into individual lessons.  The mechanics unit that we started with was broken down into three lessons:  Force, Gravity, and Friction.  Within these lessons, there is format of an additional introduction to the concepts in the lesson, reading to download (especially for 9th-12th grade students), a section of additional  videos and experiments, and exercises.  Exercises is actually the term that Supercharged Science uses for its written review/assessment of lesson concepts.

electric field

We used this product three to four days a week.  We would watch the introduction and read the material to the lesson the first day.  Then, we would begin the experiment videos.  These experiments and experiment videos are the heart of the Supercharged Science curriculum.

We usually would only move at the pace of one video/experiment per day.  We did this for two reasons.

First, each video has with it a worksheet with extensions for taking the science experiment further.  What we would do was to watch the video while performing the experiment as Aurora was performing and explaining on the computer.  We would frequently pause the video to do what she told us to do.  Then, we would complete the experiment as written in the worksheet.  Frequently, other variables were tested, or you would make formal measurements that were not a part of the instructional video.  Also, at the end of each student worksheet, there was a set of questions that helped us to connect the fun experiment that we did with the actual science concepts.

The second reason is purely a selfish one.  Firecracker would have kept going and done science for the whole day, but doing experiments is time consuming and can be exhausting when you have four children all wanting to do the same experiment.  Since I’m a believer in slow and steady progress, we kept our pace slow and deep.  I knew that the concepts we were exploring were sinking in.  After all, the children were discussing forces and gravity in their playtime.  They were making their own zip lines for gravity and applying magnets and ideas about magnets to the other subjects they were exploring.

Magnetic Forces


By the time your student reaches each lesson’s exercises, if you’ve done the experiments and thought about the concepts, the exercises themselves are merely review and a breeze to complete.

How did I like the program?  There’s a ton of information included on the videos.  The introductory and lesson videos were a little over the children’s head.  The reading assignments also passed over the children’s heads for the most part.  Aurora is speaking to a K-12 audience, and she doesn’t talk down to her students.  She explains concepts and terms that interested my third grader but were kind of boring for my first grader.  I would say that, based on the actual concepts explained in the lessons that we worked on, I would say that the “science” part of the program is best for middle elementary and up.  Firecracker proved very capable in understanding and retaining most of the science concepts we studied.  It just took time for them to become concrete in his head.

The experiments are really cool.  Super cool.  All the children from the nine year old down to the two year old wanted to participate in the experiments.  The easy ones worked out great, whether we needed special materials or not.  In fact, we spent an entire afternoon working on different bridge configurations and then trying to destroy those bridges with different loads, earthquakes and strong winds.  I love that it’s hands-on because I feel that students retain so much more from a hands-on model.

Of course, sometimes we dealt with tantrums and frustrated crying from the hands-on portion of the experiment.  Who knew that building a barrel bridge or a hovercraft could make a child through the materials across the room and vow to never do science again?  I didn’t until we experienced the agony of not being able to replicate the an experiment.  Not to worry though.  Firecracker was back to asking to do science the next day.  Even Saturdays were good days in his book for doing science experiments.

building bridges


I think this is a very good, solid product.  It’s expensive for a science program, but it’s also a complete science program with all you would need to teach the same concepts, especially if you have students at multiple levels.  The price of the subscription is for the whole family’s use, not for individual students.  You will spend money for supplies also, but if you’re using a good strong science program, especially for robotics, chemistry or engineering, you should expect to budget money to pursue those interests.

If you’re thinking about Supercharged Science, and you’re own the fence, I think the best way to decide whether or not the program is for you is to try some of Aurora’s free materials.  You can sign up for a Free Copy of the Science Activity Video Series and Guidebook.  You’ll be able to judge how well the program fits with your family’s needs after you try some of her free products.  You’ll also be subscribed to their mailing list, and they frequently send out links to free videos and experiments for you to try.


As for us, one of Firecracker’s main interest areas is science.  Working with this program has been a great experience for us to dip our toes into doing real “big-kid” science experiments and concepts.  I think that I have a more reasonable view now of what it takes to set up a good experiment, and I think he has really benefited from being exposed to the high quality of experiments and activities that Supercharged Science has to offer.

If you’re ready to dive in and purchase a subscription, Supercharged Science is offering your first month’s membership for $1.  I think that once you try your first month, you won’t want to cancel anytime soon.


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