Thursday, February 26, 2015

February Story Corner Blog Hop: The Dog Who Loved Red

Woo hoo!  It's our second installment of the Story Corner Blog Hop!  This month, the theme is Love.  After browsing through my Usborne site, I found just the book: The Dog Who Loved Red.

The Dog Who Loved Red is a fun story about a dog named Raja.  The only thing he loves more than chewing is the color red.  He particularly loves to chew red things.  This leads to a bit of trouble for Raja.  On a quest to find his favorite red ball at the park, he ends up in a quite a mess.  

My boys enjoyed the book, probably because all three of them enjoy stories about dogs. It was also made even more interesting for my younger sons because their older brother read the book to them while we all sat around the table.  

Red Heart Canvas Craft

Supplies We Used:
  • Canvas panels
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Contact paper
  • Scissors
What We Did:

After covering the table in paper so the boys didn't redecorate my kitchen, I told them to use any color they wanted on their canvas panels EXCEPT red.  In hindsight, I definitely should have given more direction or stayed near the table instead of doing dishes.  As a result, the panels ended up rather muddied in a mix of colors.  While that was my intention, perhaps tempera paint wasn't the wisest medium.

After the boys covered their panels in paint, we let them dry.  While they turned the living room floor into lava, I cut out heart shapes from contact paper.  After some assistance with the hair dryer, the panels were finally ready for the next step.

Each of the boys positioned their heart shaped sticker onto their panel.  Then, they were set loose with red paint.  Once the panels were completely covered, the rousing game of Avoid the Lava resumed and I washed my hands for the third time

Before the paint was completely dry, we peeled the sticker from the canvas panel.  The boys were really excited with how their art looked once it was finished.  They asked if we could do something like this again.  Plus, they asked if the reason the panels were a bunch of different colors was because Raja liked a lot of colors, but LOVED red the best.  They understood the craft!  Win for mom!

If you have kiddos that like books about colors, dogs, or messes, The Dog Who Loved Red is a great choice.  Join us next month as we talk about insects!!  Check out other participants of The Story Corner Blog Hop.

Dusty at To the Moon and Back

Karyn at Teach Beside Me

The Dog Who Loved Red is a title you can find at my Usborne website.  If you are interested in learning more about Usborne & Kane Miller or would like more information on hosting your own Facebook event, I would love to talk to you!  A facebook event is a lot of fun and includes great tips on raising readers in your home, the opportunity to win a giveaway, plus the chance to earn FREE books to add to your home library.  Need more information?  Click below!

This post may contain sponsor, affiliate, and/or referral links. For more information, please click on my full disclosure policy at the top.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Freedom's Cause (Schoolhouse Review Crew)

With three very busy young boys, I was a bit apprehensive when the time came to listen to our new audio adventure In Freedom's Cause Single Package from Heirloom Audio Productions.  We haven't really sat together to listen to audio books or, as in this case, an audio adventure so I was cautiously hopeful that the boys would enjoy the time we spent listening to the story.  

When we received the package in the mail, I was excited to get started! The case containing the two cd's was very eye-catching and made us anxious to get started.  In addition to the audio adventure on CD, we had access to several different items available online:  

Resources Available
  • In Freedom's Cause Study Guide (Digital Download)
  • In Freedom's Cause Soundtrack
  • Printable Copy of the Prayer of William Wallace

We didn't use the study guide too much, but I referenced it occasionally for discussion questions.  It is a high-quality, attractive guide and when we listen to this adventure again, I'll definitely use it more than I did this time around.  Together, we did read the information it provided about G.A.Henty, William Wallace, and Robert Bruce.  You'll find the study guide also contains three sections for further discussion: Listening Well--questions pertaining to the audio adventure; Thinking Further--questions that encourage you to think beyond what you heard; and Defining Words--vocabulary words from the story.

The printable prayer is beautiful and my hope is to have it framed and hung in our classroom as a reminder of this awesome trek for freedom.  Additionally, the music download that was available seemed to instantly cause swords and Scottish accents to break out in the house as the boys reenacted their favorite scenes from this story.  

In Freedom's Cause Audio CD Review

We got started with the adventure on a Monday en route to our homeschool co-op.  Monday mornings are always a bit hectic and stressful for us so I thought that if we were all listening to something together, we could limit the early morning bickering.  Besides, if any audiobook is going to get my fellas to quiet down and listen, one about men fighting for freedom would definitely fit the bill.  

I was blown away!  It was incredible to hear!  In fact, several times we'd pull into the driveway and we would have to wait for the chapter to end before we could go inside.  It was so intriguing and exciting that boys (and I!) just had to know what was happening next!  Plus, it absolutely made history come to life!  It engaged us and thoroughly educated us about the quest for Scotland's freedom.  

Truthfully, I was a bit apprehensive about listening to an audio adventure, especially one that was over 2 hours long.  Would the boys really get into just listening without seeing?  Let's be honest here, my boys aren't the best at listening.  I have completely changed my mind!  They were still, they were quiet, they were asking for a few more minutes.  Plus, we did visit the website to find a captivating video that discussed the making of the audio adventure.  They stood on a bridge in which a monumental battle was fought and when we heard that part of the story, my middle son immediately recognized the location they were describing! They even showed us how a few of the incredibly authentic sound effects were made.

If you are interested in following In Freedom's Cause on social media, check out the links below:

I likely wouldn't have purchased In Freedom's Cause because I wouldn't have ever guessed that my boys would enjoy it so much.  I have certainly since changed my mind.  In fact, I cannot wait until Heirloom Audio's new audio adventure, With Lee in Virginia, is released later this year.  I will definitely buy it for our homeschool!  If you haven't listened to an audio adventure before, I encourage you to try it!  It is not like listening to someone tell you a story in a low, boring voice and there's no way you're gonna fall asleep with the sound of swords clanging together over the drawl of Scottish accents!

Follow With Lee in Virginia on social media to stay informed of it's upcoming release!

In Freedom's Cause Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Review of IndoctriNation by Great Commission Films

After getting the munchkins to bed one night, I put in my next Review Crew product, the DVD IndoctriNation by Great Commission Films.  I settled down on the couch to watch all 102 minutes of the education documentary.  (Mom Note: this is probably not viewing material for young children due to the content it discusses occasionally.  My sons did not watch it.)

There is a lot of information conveyed as to why public schools are NOT the best educational choice for children.  Clearly, I'm aware of that as my sons have never attended a day of school outside of our home.  In the documentary, we follow Colin Gunn, a homeschooling father of seven, as he travels to various locations to discuss the decline of public education.  We hear several reasons as to why public school isn't the best place for our children, and I readily agree with most of them.

I want my children to receive their education on sex from us--their parents.  I want to be sure that my sons aren't offered drugs on the playground, to not encounter violence or weapons on the bus, and stay far away from bullies.  I want to ensure that their education is tailored specifically to each of their individual needs, allowing them to excel or to review as necessary.  These are all points with which I've found common ground.

IndoctriNation DVD Review
However, the focal point of this documentary was the effect of Christian families sending their children to public school to the detriment of their faith.  I'll be the first to tell you that I have never agreed with children being the "salt and light" in public schools.  Truthfully, I find that sentiment ridiculous and the task nearly impossible considering the environment.  To say that is a reason to send your children to a public school is one in which you and I will not find common ground.  The documentary and I certainly agree on that front.

A statistic I heard near the beginning of the documentary that stated by the time Christian students graduate from high school, 88% will leave their faith behind.  A quote that stood out to me was "We don't lose them [our children], we give them away."  Ain't that the truth!  

So, there are the ways in which I'm in agreement with IndoctriNation.  There are a few things mentioned that were a bit concerning to me, but I wasn't surprised.  In several instances, there were negative references to homosexuals.  I don't recall any other groups of people that were as blatantly disliked, aside from parents who send their children to public school.  I heard how people couldn't fathom their children being near homosexuals, atheists, or extreme environmentalists.  

My issue is that, as a family, we feel we are called (though not exclusively) to one very important job--to love others.  It's hard for me to hear so many negative comments directed toward groups of people.  This doesn't mean that I'm sending my sons to school to love others, once again the salt & light argument.  It just means that I'm not homeschooling to keep my sons from being friends with the boy down the road who has hippie, tree-hugging parents, or to protect them from the gay people.  I do homeschool them because we've decided that it's the best way to educate our children.

I did find the documentary incredibly intriguing and many of the statistics startling and sobering.  I absolutely want for my husband and I to be the people who decide what our sons are learning, when they are learning, and how.  I want for them to be safe and happy.  I want for them to be able to sing "Jesus Loves Me" or spend time as a family reading our devotions in the afternoon.  I want to be sure they aren't encountering material that conflicts with our beliefs.  

Some people call it sheltering.  I just call it parenting.  

If you are a homeschooling parent, regardless of whether or not it is for religious reasons, you should check out the documentary.  It's worth hearing that homeschooling parents are pretty awesome.  If you are interested in following updates regarding the show, check out the social media links below.

Follow IndoctriNation on:

Facebook --
Twitter --
Vimeo --
YouTube --

IndoctriNation DVD Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Mess I Wouldn't Trade

Some days are just a mess.  I mean, A MESS.  The house is a mess, school is a mess, the kids are a mess...and boys in particular can be a stinky mess.  

Lately, however, I'm in awe of the amazing-ness of motherhood. I know, I know, of course it's lovely and wonderful and of course I should say that since I've been a mother for awhile now.  However, I haven't been shy in telling y'all some of the difficulty I've had with my youngest....and the oldest...and perhaps the middle one.  It's tiresome.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Our Fun with Dry Ice

Sometimes, incredible learning experiences can be found unexpectedly.  Perhaps it's a fun walk in the nearby woods, finding a new topic in a forgotten book, or when the lovely lady next door asks if you would like a block of dry ice.  

The only time the boys have seen dry ice in real life is during some of our better Cub Scout ceremonies.  They were a bit uncertain how the block of ice, in a plastic bag, that you couldn't touch with your hands was going to be that much fun.  I quickly found a few ways to show them the awesomeness of frozen carbon dioxide.  

Disclaimer I must include for those who think I lack common sense: at no time were my sons unattended with dry ice. At no time were they permitted to handle dry ice with unprotected hands. They were sufficiently warned of its dangers and how we were going to take proper safety precautions. moving on....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

10 Pinewood Derby Tips

*This post contains affiliate links!  Thanks for your support in keeping my boys stocked up with books and Legos!

It's our favorite time of the year---Pinewood Derby time!  It is the most exciting event each year and it's easy to see why...making cars and racing them!?  I'm sharing with you some Pinewood Derby Tips today.  

1. Follow the rules.  I know, this seems a bit silly, but it's the most important.  The quickest way to end a race is not be allowed to participate because you didn't follow the rules.  Before the first cut, before the first speck of paint, before you start on those axles, READ YOUR RULES!

2. Fast or Cool? Around here, the boys have an option--their car can be fast or it can look awesome. Of course, fast cars can look neat and cool paint jobs can still be fast. For the most part, however, you need to decide which route you are taking.  

3. Bake the block. A new tip for us this year is to bake your wood block.  In an oven heated to 250 degrees, bake your uncut or cut block for a few hours. This draws out any moisture and you are able to concentrate the weight in the desired location(s).