Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Virtual Refrigerator - Sneak Preview to an Apologia Review

"My Virtual Refrigerator" is a link up to display fun artwork online (as opposed to hung up on the fridge door!) :-)

This picture is a sneak preview to an upcoming Apologia review that we are currently working on!

To enjoy other homeschool artwork, visit the "Virtual Refrigerator" link up at:

Virtual Fridge Link Up

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Obscure Bible Heroes {Blogging Through The Alphabet - A}

It's time for a new "Blogging Through the Alphabet" series, and this time I decided to choose a theme and stick to it for the duration of the alphabet. I have chosen to write about obscure Bible heroes - the humble, unsung people who lived their daily lives and were used by God in a great way. They may only be mentioned in passing in the Bible, but there are many things that can be learned from their lives. Perhaps they had one moment of greatness, or just simply were "where they were supposed to be" at the right time, but something that they did was relevant enough for God to include them by name recorded in His Word. That inspires me to see what I can learn from their lives.  I hope these writings will be an encouragement and blessing to you as you serve the Lord in the place He has set for you!

My first choice for an obscure Bible hero is Abigail. Her story can be found in 1 Samuel 25. The Bible says that Abigail was "a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance" (v. 3) and that she was married to Nabal, a man who "was churlish and evil in his doings".

The background to this story is that David and his mighty men were out in the wilderness, alongside the men who were taking care of Nabal's vast herds. While in the wilderness, Nabal's shepherds and David's men watched out for each other, and had a good relationship. In fact, David and his men served as unequivocal protection for the herds, and never asked for anything in return.

When David heard that Nabal, a very rich man, was having a sheep shearing, which typically meant fresh meat and feasting for the workers involved, David asked for some provisions for his men who had been working alongside the shepherds. Nabal obstinately refused to even acknowledge anything that David had done, and despised, or took lightly, the protection that had been afforded to all his wealth and possessions. He treated David's men roughly and sent them away empty handed.

David's response to this affront was to gather up all his men and set out to take revenge on Nabal and his men. He fully intended to shed blood, and given the nature of the mighty men, it would have been the end of Nabal and his household. The servants, who knew just how tough David's men were, when they heard of the plan went and told Abigail, their master's wife. They knew that selfish Nabal would not be moved by David's threats, and would not change his verdict. They also realized that feeding David's men would be a small but significant way of showing gratitude. Basically, they understood that their master was being completely unreasonable for refusing the request, and they did not want to suffer the consequences for his actions.

When Abigail was made aware of the situation, she quickly used her good sense to formulate a plan, gather and prepare the provisions, and quickly satisfy the request of David. She demonstrated great wisdom and a humble spirit. She did not rail on her husband, even though she understandably could have been very frustrated with his behavior. She cared for the servants enough to know that by her quick and kind actions, she would be saving their lives. They trusted her to know exactly what needed to be done, and this trust was well placed.

When Abigail came to meet David and hand deliver the food and provisions for his men, her humble demeanor greatly impressed David. Everyone involved in the situation knew exactly what type of man that Nabal was. Abigail did not feel the need to speak destructively of him, even though his behavior was deserving of it. She used her words to build up those around her, and speak kindly, repairing and restoring the relationship that had been broken.

Abigail's quick thinking and kind actions saved many lives that day. I think of her as a classy lady, not bitter or wallowing in self-pity, even though she was married to a harsh, uncaring man. She was full of the joy of the Lord, and allowed God to use her in a great way to bring help exactly when it was needed. Soon after her great deed, Nabal died. David never forgot Abigail's kind ways, and eventually she became his wife.

May we always be looking to make the right choices, and may our behavior always be filled with kindness and reflect the love of God to those around us, no matter what the circumstances are that we find ourselves in. 

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

To read other Blogging Through the Alphabet posts, click the button below.

Ben and Me

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sneak Preview to "More Than A Memory" and a Giveaway!

candace kate giveaway

I just finished reading a brand new book that is soon to be released, called "More Than A Memory: The Candace Kate Story", written by Nancy Fileccia. Though I have never met Nancy, I feel as though I have gained a friend and 'kindred spirit' through reading her book. I started out reading this book because I thought it sounded interesting...and I finished it completely convinced that the Lord had led me to read it to encourage and strengthen my own heart. I can't wait to share my thoughts with you in an upcoming review!

To help Nancy celebrate the upcoming release of her book, I'm joining with other bloggers from the Candace Kate Launch Team to bring you this amazing giveaway! There will be 2 winners and one winner will win an iPad Mini! Here's the list of all the incredible prizes offered in this giveaway:

Giveaway # 1 ($560+ value)

iPad Mini 16 GB WiFi More Than a Memory: The Candace Kate Story paperback $75 A Journey Through Learning Gift Certificate American History Through Music bundle by Diana Waring (releasing May, 2014) NotebookingPages.com Lifetime Membership  Ultimate Well-Planned Day Expo from Media Angels Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine  

Giveaway #2 ($160+ value)

More Than a Memory: The Candace Kate Story paperback $25 A Journey Through Learning Gift Certificate NotebookingPages.com Lifetime Membership Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine   To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. U.S. residents, age 18 and older please.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Brinkman Adventures

Our family absolutely LOVES audio dramas. We have collections of various CD sets in the house, in the car, in the kids' rooms.....You get the idea. They are almost always listening to something while they work, or while we travel in the car. I feel that audio dramas are healthier than TV, so we have always made it a priority to have interesting ones available. What is even better is when the listening material teaches or encourages the children in their walk with the Lord. While we already own CD sets that teach about science, history, Bible stories, and character virtues, when we received The Brinkman Adventures it was our first set to emphasize Christian missions. For review, we received the brand new CD set The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24. 

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2 is a 4 CD set that contains 12 episodes, for a total of about 5 hours of listening. While some of the episodes do build on each other, each one is also a self-contained story with it's own theme. Also included are musical sound effects, as well as realistic sounds that enhance the story. The story itself is told by the Brinkman family, a family in the ministry of encouraging and helping missionaries around the world. Because they are a large family (8 children!) there are many funny little side stories and very realistic scenes written into the plots.

Each of the stories, while using fictional names, are based on real life missionary stories. Some of the topics touched on include witnessing in Muslim countries, Bible smuggling, rescuing children in slave trades, and searching for Mayan treasures. All the while, listeners are experiencing a fun family atmosphere and learning about new topics. There is so much information incorporated into the stories - everything from famous people, character building, geography, vocabulary, and historical facts. I was amazed at how much information and excitement was packed into each story! There is even an episode that teaches what an "Epi-pen" is used for, when the dad has an allergic reaction to bee stings! (Being an allergy family, that caught my attention!) Stories take place all over the world: China, Mexico, Belize, and even a fictitious middle Eastern country called Bazakistan!

The children in the stories are very relatable, and I enjoy having my children listen to a family story where the children are treating each other with kindness and respect. Those are subtle little life lessons that are picked up along the way.

On the website, the producer discusses his burden to make missions come alive for children and families, and I believe he has definitely accomplished this goal.

Website extras: Because the stories do not use real names and places, but are based on true stories, there are "stories behind the stories" on the website, complete with short videos. My children have already looked into these, and enjoyed them greatly. There are also "behind the scenes" videos that show the CD's being produced, which are very fun to watch. 

Recommended Ages: While some of the missionary stories can get pretty intense, I think that parents could listen and decide whether their children are mature enough to handle the stories and plots. There was nothing inappropriate in the stories. Some of them do depict some real life danger and violence, but they recommend that children under 10 listen to them with mom and dad. All my children listened to them (ages 8+) and none were afraid of the stories or their outcomes.

Our favorite adventure: I think it definitely had to be the story of a family serving in the Middle East, who gave a Bible to a Muslim friend, then barely escaped the country. We also enjoyed the couple who stayed up all night to assemble a Bible for an underground believer in China. My children were so touched that someone in the world would have such a longing for a Bible. In America, we take our Bibles for granted so easily.

My recommendation: I enthusiastically recommend these audio drama sets to every Christian family who would like to inspire a love for the Lord, for winning souls, and for missions in the hearts of their children. I can easily see how The Brinkman Adventures will become one of my children's favorite things to listen to. I have listened to them several times myself, and enjoy them each time. I plan on purchasing Season 1, and I have a feeling that this is going to end up as one of my favorite review items this year from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I am also considering purchasing a set for Christmas gifts for some friends.

What does it cost? The Brinkman Adventures operates on a "suggested donation" basis.  The suggested donation for Episode 2 is $25 with free shipping. There is also an option to purchase a downloadable MP3 album for $17.

Keep up with the latest Brinkman Adventures on Facebook.

You can read what other Crew members thought of The Brinkman Adventures by clicking the banner below:

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Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Science Fair

Thanks to some ideas from our review of Supercharged Science we put together a Science Fair display on the functions of the hand.

Melissa called the display "The Helping Hand" and made a display showing different functions of the hand, including how it is used in braille and American Sign Language.

For Melissa's investigation, she put together a shoe box full of ten items from around the house and backyard. (pinecone, bouncy ball, stick, rock, toy rubber mouse, rubber popper, crayon, eraser, rubber band, and a leaf). She then covered them with a cloth, and tested ten different people, asking them to identify the items using only their sense of touch. Her hypothesis, based on the number of touch receptors in the fingers, was that people could guess all the items correctly 90% of the time, which would demonstrate how sensitive and important the hand is. At the conclusion of her investigation, she found that 6 out of the 10 people actually were able to guess all items correctly 100%. This showed that the hand was even better than she thought it would be!

Some extras Melissa made for her display included hand shaped sugar cookies to share, as well as a model robotic hand that we learned about from Supercharged Science.

Here is the background paper that Melissa wrote about the hand:

Isaiah 41:13 “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”

          This verse shows that hands are strong enough to hold you up. Of course, you use other muscles as well, but you cannot use your arm muscles to hold onto something or someone - you have to use your hand.

          From your wrist to your finger tips there are twenty-seven muscles in just that one area! Although the hand moves from the forearm muscles, the fingers move from the hand muscles. It is also said that fingers on just one hand will be flexed and extended about twenty-five million times over the course of one’s lifetime.

          There are two different types of gripping: power grip and precision grip.  The power grip is used for carrying heavy bags or holding onto a handle, for example, you grab a grocery bag and you hold the handle of the bag in the palm of your hand. The flexor tendon then pulls the fingers and thumb to tightly close around the object. The precision grip, on the other hand, (not literally) is used for handling and moving an object, such as when you are writing, sewing, or drawing. The thumb and index finger work like forceps.

          The reason why your fingers are the most sensitive in your entire body,(unless you’ve burned them too many times), is because there are seventeen-thousand touch receptors and nerves in them. They pass on sensations of pressure, movement, and vibration.

          Without your hand you would not be able to eat, type, sew, or do anything that you enjoy. God knew all of that before scientists even discovered how the hand worked inside. The hand shows how amazing and wonderful God really is. 

Since we are studying Apologia Anatomy & Physiology this year, this science project was merely an extension of our studies. It was fun to put together, and we learned quite a bit by doing it!

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: The Wise Woman

Reading is a key that unlocks so many doors, and learning to read and understand well will help anyone grow as a person. Reading is a constant feeding of the mind.  We recently had the opportunity to review The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions from the Home School Adventure Co. This is a book that is not only an entertaining story, but also a journey of sorts, leading the reader down a path of self examination through the probing questions of the Literary Analysis Journal.

For our review we received a pdf copy of the book - written by George MacDonald, with the Literary Analysis Journal Questions authored by Stacy Farrell. This book is 160 pages long divided into 14 chapters. At the end of each chapter, there are a few pages containing questions pertinent to that chapter. There are about 15-25 questions per chapter. While some of the questions are 'comprehension' type questions regarding the particular chapter they represent, most are insightful questions that really cause the reader to dig down deep, examine themselves, put themselves in the place of the characters, searching their own heart for the true answers to the questions. This can be a bit painful, as the story line is one to cause much self examination while you relate to the woeful characters in the story, and see yourself and your own shortcomings in their mistakes.

What is the story line? This book contrasts two main characters - spoiled little girls, in a fairy tale or allegorical setting. One is the unrestrained princess daughter of doting and indulging royalty parents, and the other is a simple country girl that is the daughter of a proud, simple, hardworking country shepherd and his wife. Both girls are the only child in their family, yet that is where their similarities stop. To look at them from the outside, one would seem overtly rebellious and ornery, while the other kind, good, and submissive. It takes some harsh circumstances and an old Wise Woman to reveal that both are corrupt to their very core, with hearts full of pride and arrogance.

What does this teach me? As a mother reading this book, I must admit that there were many times I admired the wisdom of the old woman, as her 'tough love' sought to bring both little girls to a place of genuine repentance and acknowledgement of their true selves, as wretched as they were. There was a lot of good parenting advice woven into this story. There was quite a bit of imagination and adventure as well.

What types of questions are there? I feel that the questions probe into the heart of the reader. It's as if the Wise Woman is reaching out from the story and trying to bring the reader to the same point of self examination as the characters in the book.

What else is there besides the questions? There is a fine vocabulary guide in the back of the book, that lists some of the more difficult words, and gives a place for the student to write in the definitions for those words. Also, the Home School Adventure Co. offers free sample pages for you to look over and get a feel for the type of writing, vocabulary, and questions that are available in this book.

What are the suggested ages for this book? This book is recommended for ages 9-11 as a family read along with their parents, or for ages 12 and up (high school age) to read and work through the Literary Analysis Journal on their own. I truly believe this is best utilized for children to work through the Journal part with their parents, using the questions as a springboard for teachable character moments.

Our own personal opinion: I read this book on my own and as a parent, I found it very convicting. I saw myself plenty of times in both sets of parents - both the indulgent ones and the proud ones. It served as a great warning for me to amend some of my ways, so that my children do not suffer the same deep seated character issues in their lives as the little girls did. I felt the story line started slow, and at first, it was hard to really settle in to the book, but once it arrested my attention, it was hard to put down.

My children's opinion was that the book has very descriptive characters and a very interesting story line, but they found the book quite wordy, and thought there were too many metaphors that cluttered the story.  The book seemed to kind of 'drag on' and they thought the story and its corresponding lessons could have been taught in a simpler and more concise manner.  The younger girls (ages 8 & 12) had a hard time understanding what was meant by some of the questions, and I had to do quite a bit of rewording to help them answer the questions in our discussions. They are still more concrete in their thinking, and had a hard time answering some of the more abstract questions.

Overall, I think I would actually recommend this book to mothers mostly, as I think it could make a fine devotional to help them see the end result when some behaviors are allowed to continue and grow, molding a child's character. I do think, with some guidance and discussion, that children can also learn to examine their own hearts and lives through the instruction given in this book as well.

How much does it cost? There is a spiral bound print edition currently selling for $28.95, and a digital download edition (like what I read) that sells for $14.95. From now until May 15, Home School Adventure Co. is offering 10% off all digital downloads. This includes "Philosophy Adventure", "Philippians in 28 Weeks", and the "Mere Christianity Literary Analysis Journal". If you would like to know more about these other products and see how members of the Crew used them, click the banner below to read lots more reviews!

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Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Civil War Era Juvenile Historical Fiction

I have found that my entire family loves to enhance their history lessons with good historical fiction. Entering into the life of a fictional character is a great way to learn what the circumstances and culture of a time period was like.

Recently, my 3rd grader read The Road to Richmond by Robert Byers. It is a Civil War era juvenile historical fiction chapter book that is 99 pages long, published by "By The Way Publications" in 2002.  It has sketches throughout, illustrating the characters of the story.

Although this book is currently out of print, I occasionally have seen it on ebay or half.com. We borrowed ours through The Family Vision Library.

Here is the report that my 3rd grader wrote, in her own words, about this book and her opinion of it. Perhaps it will be a book that you can use in your family, as you learn about the Civil War. We definitely recommend it!

The title of my book is "The Road To Richmond". The author is Robert Byers. It is a juvenile historical fiction book that is 99 pages long. 

The main character of this book is Joshua. He is fourteen years old. He wants to fight in the Civil War for his slave friend Terrance's freedom, but his father won't let him, so he runs away to join the Civil War. 

My favorite part of the book is when the war is over and Terrance gets his freedom and Joshua comes home. I like that part because it was neat for the family and the readers to see that God can protect us from evil even though the devil tries to get us down.

I think this is a good book because it is cool how God protected Joshua's father and Joshua in war. I recommend this book to people who like reading about history and the Civil War. 

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

This post is linked with Tuesday's Treasures at "Every Bed of Roses", highlighting favorite homeschool books.

Every bed of Roses

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: Curiosity Quest

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the opportunity to investigate topics that the kids are interested in, especially if they fall outside the normal scope of regularly scheduled schoolwork. Often the kids will learn about something and want to know more, or have questions, even though they have completed that chapter in their textbook. Homeschooling gives us the privilege to delve further into those topics, and even structure schoolwork around that curiosity!

Reviewing the DVD Combo Pack - Produce and the DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea was my first introduction to Curiosity Quest

Curiosity Quest is a family based educational show that is definitely geared towards children. In fact, children ages 7-14 are included in every episode, and are the target audience. Children can write a letter to the show, asking a question that states something they are curious about. At the beginning of each episode, show host Joel Greene reads the question that inspired that particular episode, then sets off on an adventure to find the answers to that question. Along the way, children are included in the show, asking and answering interview questions.

Each episode lasts about 30 minutes, and the DVD combo packs have 3 different topics included, for 90 minutes of viewing time. The shows move along quickly, and are very well done with enthusiastic people, close up shots of amazing things, and plenty of catchy music and graphics. They thoroughly explore the topics, whether it is showing video of cool animals or food harvesting. The host, Joel Greene, totally immerses himself into the show by taking on the role of a person who is learning right alongside the viewers. Whether he is harvesting mushrooms, picking oranges, or feeding penguins, he keeps up a funny and entertaining non-stop dialogue throughout the show, with plenty of high energy enthusiasm.

What did we learn about? On the Produce DVD Combo Pack we learned that cranberries are harvested by flooding their field! The girls were "grossed out" by the mushroom growing process, and they were amazed at how much work it is to pick and harvest oranges! On the Swimmers of the Sea Combo Pack the girls were thrilled to watch and learn about penguins, sea turtles, and salmon. The highlights of these shows were when Joel Greene had to feed the penguins, and of course, seeing the baby sea turtles. The girls laughed so hard over the children demonstrating the sounds a penguin makes, and they were amazed that people work so hard to move the salmon to the right locations so they can continue their life cycles even when nature has made this difficult.

Not just for children! We started the DVD's one evening with just Melissa and Kelly watching (ages 8 and 12). Just a few minutes into the show, other family members began straggling in, attracted to the fun sounding DVD playing in the living room. The entire family was very captivated by these shows, learned a lot from each one, and really enjoyed watching them.

What else is available? Curiosity Quest has other videos available, as well as a monthly membership which can be purchased to receive two new episodes every month. Curiosity Quest also has a YouTube Channel. Joel Greene writes a blog and posts neat pictures and updates about future Curiosity Quest adventures.

How much do the DVD Combo Packs sell for? Each Combo Pack includes 1 DVD containing 3 separate 30 minute episodes, for a total of 90 minutes of viewing time. Each Combo Pack is $24.95.

One Note: On the sea turtle episode, one of the workers interviewed does make a slight evolutionary reference when discussing the history of the sea turtles. While I don't personally think it detracts from the DVD in any way, I did want to make mention of it for those who would be concerned over it, and would want to discuss it with their children when watching the videos.

Personal Inspiration: Watching the DVD's inspired a few other projects here in our home.

Kelly drew some sea turtles:

We truly enjoyed having the privilege of watching and learning from Curiosity Quest, and hope you will check out some of the other reviews from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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GF/DF Orange Cranberry Bread

Thanks to a set of videos we reviewed from Curiosity Quest, we recently learned how oranges and cranberries are grown and harvested. This led to baking a batch of delicious Orange Cranberry Bread!

As usual, we adapted several recipes and then combined them to make a safe, gluten and dairy free version of bread.

Here is my final version of the recipe:

1 orange (up to 3 will be necessary if you wish to squeeze the fresh orange juice from them for this recipe) {Or you can use 3/4 tsp. of dried, shredded orange peel}
3/4 c. orange juice (fresh squeezed or a 'not from concentrate' brand)
1 egg (can use Ener-G egg replacer w/o compromising the texture much at all)
2 TBS Canola oil
2 C. Gluten free flour blend
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xantham gum
3/4 c. chopped fresh cranberries

For the glaze:
1 TBS. powdered sugar
3/4 c. orange juice

Oven: 350 degrees

Bake time will depend on what size pans you use - we like mini loaves, which take about 35 minutes to bake.

Using a zester, peel about 1/2 the orange and chop the orange zest into tiny pieces. You can skip this by using dried orange peel sold in the spice section, but use less - about 3/4 tsp. If using fresh peel, use about 1 1/2 tsp of zest.

In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xantham gum.

In a smaller bowl, stir together wet ingredients: orange juice, oil, and beaten egg.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into that well. Stir gently until just combined.

Finely chop the cranberries in  a food processor or mini chopper. Gently fold the chopped cranberries into the batter until just combined.

Pour batter into pre-greased pans and bake. Baking time will depend on what size pans you use. Mini loaves (this recipe will make 3 mini loaves) take about 35-40 minutes. A full size loaf will take about 70 minutes.

After removing from the oven, cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then completely cool on racks.

When cooled, mix up the glaze ingredients. Use more juice or powdered sugar as necessary until a thick, but runny glaze is accomplished. Gently pour this glaze over the cooled loaves, allowing it to harden before slicing them.

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Supercharged Science

We had the wonderful privilege of reviewing the e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. For this review we received a 6 month premium membership to the entire Science Learning Space.

What is Supercharged Science? It is a complete online scientific world for children created by Aurora Lipper, a real life rocket scientist! Aurora passionately strives to teach scientific methods and principles to students through a jam-packed website full of ideas and experiments.

What age range is it suited for? Supercharged Science is appropriate for Kindergarten through twelfth grade students, and specifically targets homeschool students who need a complete science curriculum.

How is Supercharged Science set up? When a student signs up and first logs on, they will be greeted with a home page that looks something like this:

As you can see from this example, there is a lot available to choose from. It can be very overwhelming when first joining. In the upper right corner is a video and "getting started" section that gives step by step instructions for working through the program. 

Are all scientific disciplines covered?  This can be used as a complete curriculum that covers all areas of scientific study. There are basic "getting started" units that teach the student how to form a hypothesis, the value of the scientific method, and keeping a science journal. As the student works through the levels, new units are unlocked and made available on a monthly basis. (Although if there is an area that you need to study and it is not yet open to the student, this can be changed by emailing Aurora and asking for access to the desired unit). There are twenty complete units (with 60-80 experiments each) that cover these topics: mechanics, motion, matter, energy, sound, astrophysics, light, chemistry, electricity, magnetism, alternative energy, thermodynamics, electronics, life science, biology, and earth science. 

Bonus features: There is also a Mathemagic unit, a Science Fair projects unit, and a teacher resources unit. The teacher helps alone are extremely helpful and necessary. So many students 'hate' science and do poorly, because they just are not inspired to see how interesting it can be. Aurora is able to transfer her enthusiasm for science into the videos as well as into the parent/teacher instructional helps. For "non-science" parents trying to teach their children at home, her easy methods and helps are extremely valuable. 

What does a typical lesson look like? When a unit is selected, there are several different resources available. Since I have used this program with two very different children, I was able to see that not everything needs to be done in the same order. A typical lesson has introductory materials, both reading and video. MP3 downloads are also available. There will be a list of needed supplies for the experiments (which are mostly items you will find around the house, with the exception of some of the more intricate chemistry and electronics supplies), as well as pdf lessons to download for the student to complete. Depending on the student, some like to watch the videos first and see what happens, before completing the experiments and working through the worksheets. Others like to study the concepts first through the worksheets and reading, then complete the experiments afterwards.  This program allows the flexibility for you as a parent to figure out what method works best for your own children. 

New for this year: You may recall that we reviewed Supercharged Science last year. During last year's review, I focused on high school work with my older kids. This year, I decided to see how my 3rd grader did with the program. I was thrilled to find that Supercharged Science not only has the topics listed by unit but also added a page where topics are organized according to grade level. While there is still a lot of freedom to choose what to study in the grade level itself, I found this made choosing topics and getting started much easier, when I did not have to sort through piles of experiments to find ones that I thought my 3rd grader could grasp. Here is the 3rd grade lesson home page: 

As you can see, the scientific concepts on the 3rd grade page were earth science, physics, astronomy, and life science. These were consistent with the curriculum we already used this year. The only addition we made was investigating a bit in the biology unit, since we studied Anatomy & Physiology in depth this year. For the purpose of this review, we mainly focused on Physics, Life Science, and Biology (human anatomy). 

What I really like: There is a lot to like about this program. The experiments are fun, usually simple to recreate, relevant to the lesson material, and there are plenty to choose from! The support is amazing. Aurora is readily available through phone or email to answer questions. There are also opportunities to post questions on each lesson. Often when we had a question, we would find that by reading through the other questions and responses, we would find answers. Other students also posted there about tips and tricks that might have given a slightly different outcome to the experiments, and we found some neat things to try because of that as well. Also, the way the experiments are set up just lends itself to the student asking questions such as "I wonder what would happen if we did it this way instead?" If you are looking for a science program that will inspire your students to form questions and investigate the answers to them, then this would be a great fit. 

Any drawbacks? I found the pdf worksheets were just too heavy for my 3rd grader. While they were very appropriate for my high schooler, they are very plain and required more writing than what I was looking for. I would love to see more age appropriate worksheets for the younger elementary set. Perhaps worksheets that included graphics, word matching, crossword puzzles, or fill in the blanks could help review the concepts more effectively in a written manner. 

How much does it cost? The full K-12 access plan is $57 per month, but if you purchase access for only K-8, it is $37 per month. At the time of this review, Supercharged Science is offering a trial membership to the entire program for just $1 with no strings attached. 

How did we use it? I know this is the part you were waiting for.....I have told you all about the program and why I like it....Now I am going to show you a few of the experiments we did!

One of the first experiments we did this year was to microwave soap! The girls were fascinated by the outcome of this experiment, and this one small, simple, (supposed to be quick) experiment led to a nearly hour long fascination with microwaving (and re-microwaving). Did you know that the consistency of Ivory soap makes it conducive to microwaving? Other soaps do not respond the same way that Ivory does in a microwave. The girls learned a lot about so many different topics through this experiment, including how microwaves work, how molecules behave, and how variations can make experiments much more interesting! 

We also built a stethoscope out of basic household materials....and it really worked! 

But the balloon race cars were the crowning achievement of our review of Supercharged Science:

After watching the video, we quickly gathered materials and built a balloon race car. In fact, we built two! (You can't have a race with only one!) It was so easy that even the 3rd grader, by just watching the video, could completely build the racer with almost no help at all! (Great educational entertainment right there). 

This was an experiment where having all the previous comments posted proved very helpful. We were able to read what went wrong for others, and it helped us to fix our race cars when they were having troubles. It was so much fun that the girls started to think through improvements that they could make to their cars to make them run faster. This ended up in building yet another race car that could hold two balloons instead of one, to see if it would run even faster! 

The balloon race cars were so much fun that the girls never even realized they were learning all about laws of Physics while racing them across the living room. 

I included a short video clip of our balloon race cars for your enjoyment:

Overall, I think Supercharged Science is a phenomenal and very thorough homeschool science curriculum and I am so thankful for the privilege of reviewing it and sharing it with you again this year! We even used Supercharged Science as the inspiration for our Spring Science Fair project.

Aurora Lipper is very active in social media, and always pins really cool science stuff on Pinterest as well. Here is how you can follow along:  Aurora Lipper on Pinterest 

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

American History "Great Depression Era" Cake

As we have been working through the 20th century, we studied quite a bit about the Depression Era, and the accompanying hardships that it brought to Americans.

As a food allergy family, we are already used to cooking 'without' many ingredients that most people would deem absolutely necessary to making a cake taste palatable, but this cooking challenge was a little different. Instead, we pretended that we were a family with very limited resources during the Great Depression, and Melissa baked a cake that was "eggless, milkless, and butterless" without using ANY of our regular substitutes for those particular ingredients.

We found a vintage "Great Depression" Cake on Pinterest, from a blog called "Blissfully Content", and used that particular recipe. The author also has some other fun recipes on there for stew and corn bread!

Melissa made the cake using these simple ingredients: water, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, shortening (lard), nutmeg, salt, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. The recipe did call for raisins, but since Melissa was the baker and she doesn't like them cooked into her food, she omitted them. She just pretended that the family having this particular cake did not even have raisins available to add to their baking!

This cake tastes a lot like spice cake, and was very tasty for not having any eggs or butter in it! It is a fun and easy recipe, and really brings home the idea of "doing without" like so many were forced to do during the Great Depression.

Melissa used two separate pans and made small cakes - one in a round, mini bundt pan, and the other in a mini loaf pan.

This post is linked with a nice collection of ideas to spend time cooking with your kids 

Cooking with Kids

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Review: Victus Study Skills System

Learning is a really exciting venture. I am still learning on a daily basis, and one of my favorite things about homeschooling is the challenge of staying on the cutting edge of so many different topics. I mean, isn't that one of the most common questions asked of any homeschool parent? How are you able to teach so many different subjects? Really, the fact is that while I have a good grasp on the basics of many areas, often the reality is that I am either in the process of learning or refreshing most topics on a regular basis, trying to equip for daily schooling and for life!

We were given the opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. For this review, we were given the Teacher Edition and Student Workbook to work through. Since this system is recommended for grade 5-12, I decided to use it with Melissa, my 7th grader. We are in the middle of planning out her high school agenda and making that transition from elementary levels to high school levels in several areas, so I thought this would be a perfect time to introduce some study skills and life planning to round out her junior high experience.

What is the Victus Study Skills System? It is a short course that aims to teach students how to be a success in learning. To that end, the aim is to equip them not only with good study skills, but also a successful way of thinking about their goals and priorities. Often we leave students to flounder around and 'figure it out' when it comes to studying or planning for the future. The goal of this course is to help the student answer three basic questions:

Where are you now?
Where do you want to be?
How do you get there?

The concepts I found in this course are sound principles that lay out a groundwork for an actual strategy for students to learn and plan for their future. The emphasis really is on teaching the student to take ownership of their studies, and involving them in figuring out what their learning style is, while learning specific ways to be a success with that particular learning style. 

What does "Victus" mean?  "Victus" is Latin for "way of life", and the emphasis I found while going through this course is that learning is an attitude that we must develop in our students. Just as I am still learning new things everyday, even though I have been out of 'school' officially (in a student capacity) for many years, our students must grasp on to that willingness to always be striving to add to their knowledge. We never stop learning. It truly must become a way of life.

How is the course laid out? The teacher edition contains the concepts, as well as ideas for the teacher to teach the lessons to their students. Most of the student pages are included in the teacher edition, with answers filled in where applicable. There is a good deal of information in the front of the teacher edition that includes the course objectives and philosophy.

How long does the course take to complete?  The course is ten lessons long. There is a suggested outline that instructs the teacher to complete the course in five sessions. A teacher also can stretch the sessions out to cover one lesson per day, over ten days. Lessons can take 15-30 minutes each, depending on how much discussion the teacher and student have. 

What does the student do? There are plenty of exercises to help the student actually think through and write down goals and personal examples. The exercises are meant to reinforce the concepts that the teacher taught. Older students could work through the lessons on their own, reading and completing the exercises, although I feel that these concepts are best grasped when taught in a 'mentoring' and instructing style.

What else is included? Besides the learning style activities and personal goals exercises, the remainder of the book focuses on answering the "How do you get there?" question. The course thoroughly teaches study skills, test taking skills, listening skills, and note taking skills. It teaches a studying system called "PQRST" which stands for preview, question, read, state, and test. How wonderful it is to actually teach a student an effective method to study!

Who is this for? I believe any student could benefit from the structure of this program. Homeschooled students definitely could benefit from learning note taking, studying skills, and test taking skills, since they will not have as much exposure to these areas as their traditionally schooled peers. That being said, I know that both myself and my husband, who both attended traditional schools, never learned many of these concepts, and it was a hindrance that we had to struggle to overcome.

How did we use this program? As I mentioned, I taught the course to Melissa. I used the teacher edition to learn the lessons myself, then taught the concepts to her as best as I could. Some of the exercises we did together, some she did on her own, and some are still a work in progress. (There is an exercise that has the student list goals for spring, summer, and fall. Melissa is currently working on spring and summer goals, and we will revisit fall goals at a later date).

Through this program, Melissa learned that she is mostly a visual learner with a strong dose of kinesthetic style as well. I had her go through the skill set for those two learning styles and choose three goals that she will work on that will compliment her learning style well, while she is completing schoolwork.

I would like to share one of the exercises Melissa completed that helped her see where she is at now, and what some of her future goals might be. This simple drawing invoked a great discussion and really opened her eyes to how quickly life passes on, and how important it is to take it seriously.

Five years ago, she liked to play make believe and dolls, now she likes to play sports, five years from now she will be graduating, and ten years from now, she might be going to college or working with orphans!

How this course affected us: I found that as a 7th grader, Melissa has not spent a great deal of time pondering the three questions that the book presents, especially "where am I going? and how to get there?". I feel this book has been a real eye opener to help her take life (and her studies) more seriously. At first, she was kind of resistant to really delving into some of these topics, because I just don't think she understood the relevancy of how it applied to her, or how it could help her. We sat down and took the learning style test together, and once she saw that her and I made almost the same choices and have similar learning styles, she was drawn in. When we really started discussing how proper study skills could help her be a success and reach her goals, she became much more interested.

What I really like: I love the practicality of the concepts. They are so relevant to daily living. I also liked that the course is not just all about "how to study" more efficiently, but also expands to discuss goals and priorities of daily life. Melissa was able to see that she spends more time on 'relaxation' than she thought she did, and she now has the tools and understanding to possibly make some changes in her daily priorities in order to attain better goals. Doing this course together with Melissa has afforded me some great opportunities for discussions about her life and goals that we probably would not have otherwise had.

What I wish I could improve: I would love to see a simpler layout for the teacher. I would like to see the concepts presented, perhaps in an outline form, at the beginning of each lesson. (Perhaps that is just my learning style!) :-)  Also, I would really like it if the teacher edition had each student page in it. It had most, and definitely had the ones that had answer blanks, but I found myself going back and forth a lot between the student and teacher editions to see what I was missing.

On the website: While I was researching the products on the website, I found that there are videos and other learning materials to be used in conjunction with the teacher and student editions. I think perhaps the video might be very helpful. At times I felt I was not teaching the lesson thoroughly enough, just from the material in the teacher edition alone. I think the video lessons would definitely fill in the gaps that were missing from my instruction.

What does this cost? The teacher edition currently sells for $40 and the student edition currently sells for $20.

Find out what my Crew mates thought of Victus Study Skills System, and how they used it with their children, by clicking the banner below:

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Family Game Night for April

Even though we have had a busy few weeks, I am still striving to post Family Game Night every month because there is great value in pausing, taking a deep breath, and spending some time making memories with your family....even when times are busy!

This month's game is another quick one that can be played in a short time. It is perfect for just before bed, or for times in the day when you just need a quick break from life.

Scattergories is a game that utilizes lists of topics, a timer, a die that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet, answer sheets, and a pen. That's it! 

It can be played by as few as 2 people. It can also be played with bigger groups if you make teams. (We have actually done this game with the youth group by making multiple teams of 2-3 players each)

Each player gets a list of topics (anything and everything is listed - food, sports, famous people, etc....), a pen,  and an answer paper. The die is rolled, which gives the chosen letter, and the timer is set. Players then have the space of the timer to go through their list and write items that begin with that letter. For example, if the letter is "C" and the category is "favorite snacks" you might write "cookies". If you were really brilliant, you could earn extra points by writing an answer that contains multiple words starting with the chosen letter, such as "cotton candy" or even "chocolate chip cookies".  

After the round is complete, players compare their answers. If any two or more players thought of the same word and wrote it on their sheet, the word is then canceled and no one gets the point for it. This makes it a challenge to come up with words that are unique! 

Younger players can be teamed up with an older sibling, to make this a game the whole family can enjoy. In our house, younger players are also given the 'job' of supervising the timer, and announcing when "time is up" for everyone. 

Scattergories is a great game for laughs as well, especially when players are trying to come up with words that no one else will guess. A round can be played completely in about ten minutes, which makes this ideal for a quick burst of family fun. 

I have also seen a neat Bible Scattergories version. This one can get pretty tricky when the categories and the chosen letter don't really go together well....especially if you have to think of Bible characters with unique names! 

I highly recommend Scattergories for your next family game night! 

If you would like to purchase Scattergories through my Amazon Affiliate link, please click below:
Scattergories Game
Scattergories Junior
Cactus Games Scattergories-Bible Edition

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Here are some other great ideas for family game night from some blogger friends!