Friday, January 20, 2017

Medieval Times {BiblioPlan Y2 Week 9 & 10}

We are having a great time studying all about the Middle Ages at our house!  With the cold and icy weather we enjoyed several projects since we've been cooped up indoors for a couple of weeks.  These projects reflect 2 weeks of BiblioPlan Year 2, Weeks 9 and 10.  Check it out!

First we had a small Medieval Dinner.  Meat (Pot roast) with root veggies (Turnips, Potatoes and Carrots) on a Trencher!  True to the middle ages we only had a knife and fork for our use.  We also enjoyed a blueberry compote on the side and had apple cider to drink.  The girls dressed for the occasion.  It was really fun and so easy to do!

One morning I made "gruel."
This was basically a watery oatmeal with some chia seeds.
To show you how lazy I am, I actually bought this from Schwan's.  

We also built a castle out of rice crispies.  This was an ambitious project that I will probably not do again, but it is really awesome and the girls labeled all the castle parts with small banners.   The instructions for this project are found in Story of the World Vol. 2.

We also learned about how monks created pretzels as a way to remind children how to pray (by reverently folding your arms).  We tried our hand at making fresh pretzels and they were SO good!
This project came from the book Huzzah Means Hooray (the updated book is called In the Days of Knights and Damsels).  There is a TON of stuff to do in this book!) 

Our pretzels turned out really, really yummy! 

We've been doing a ton of reading. 
Here are some of our favorites so far:

Our history spines are BiblioPlan's Remember the Days.  It's recommended for ages K-6th.  We tend to pick and choose what we read and that is working for us right now.  We also use Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World Vol 2 that is also scheduled in BiblioPlan's Family Guide...

The Illustrated Book of Knights.  Non-fiction book that details all things about knights.  In fact, the design for our rice crispie castle came from this book!  Full of nice color pictures!

We really love all the Usborne Books that we can get our hands on and this is no exception.  Meet a Medieval Family and join their adventures as they go through a typical day, plus experience a knighting ceremony and participate in a tournament! 

A wonderful read-aloud about a young minstrel boy named Adam, who gets separated from his father and dog while traveling to a fair.  We are about 2/3 of the way through and plan to finish this book by next week's end.

And that sums up our history studies for the last couple of weeks!  
Thanks for Swinging by!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Maggie's 7th Birthday!

For Maggie's 7th Birthday she wanted another Choose Your Own Adventure that is what we did.  It was a lot of fun, but totally exhausting!  Here are a few pictures from her special day!

Starting the day with her personalized adventure book!

A free shake from Chick-fil-A?  For Breakfast?  Yes Please!

A quick stop at Target where Maggie picked out a Zoomer Meowzie.

Next stop:  Build-a-Bear.  
Goodness knows you can never have too many of those!  
(Yes... yes you can.) 

A stop at Chuck E. Cheese (sooooo boring for Mom n' Dad!) 

Toys R' Us! 

A stop at Fantastic Sam's for a bob! 

A free cupcake from Barnes and Noble... 

Birthday dinner at ReRico.  

Happy 7th birthday to YOU! 


Friday, January 6, 2017

The Lady of the Lakes {A Historical Proper Romance Book Review}

Walter Scott has three passions: Scotland, poetry, and Mina Stuart. Though she is young and they are from different stations in society, Walter is certain their love is meant to be. For years, he has courted her through love letters. She is the sunshine of his soul.  
Though Mina shares Walter’s love of literature and passionate temperament, it’s hard for her to know if she truly loves him or if she has only been dazzled by his flattery. When she meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, her heart is challenged. Who will she choose?But as every poet knows, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and on a windy morning in the lake country, Walter meets Charlotte. 
At twenty-six, Charlotte Carpenter believes she will never find love. After all, she is a Catholic-born Frenchwoman living in London with a family history shadowed by scandal. Though quiet, practical, and determined to live a life of independence, her heart longs for someone to love her and a place to call home. 
Passion and promises collide as Walter, Mina, and Charlotte must each decide the course for their futures. What are they each willing to risk to find love and be loved in return? 
When I was given a chance to review this book I have to admit, I had to look up to find out exactly who Sir Walter Scott was!  His name was familiar but I couldn't remember what literary accomplishments he was famous for.  I felt a little silly when I discovered that he was the gentleman who wrote the famous novel Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, among many other well-known works.  What's even worse is I had a copy of Ivanhoe sitting near my bedside...  No wonder I was familiar with his name!  Unlike Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, which for me is a major challenge to read, The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack that shares of the life of Sir Walter Scott is a pleasure that I couldn't put down!

Walter Scott is in love with a young lady of means, Mina Stuart.  Even though they come from different stations in society, he is sure that they will one day marry (for she shares the same passions for prose as he and has expressed her affection on several occasions).  Even though life will be difficult Walter knows that facing the future together with Mina will bring him joy for all his days...  For Mina, she flushes with delight under the romantic attention of Walter, but the pressures of family and society force her to consider courtship with William Forbes, a man who is of her station, admittedly she doesn't find the prospect at all unappealing.  William is also handsome and kind, and he would be able to support the lifestyle to which she was accustomed.  Torn between the two gentleman, Mina must make a decision.

Meanwhile, Charlotte Carpenter has given up on ever finding true love and marrying.  Her past is filled with shame and scandal, and at the ripe, old age of twenty-six she is considered, by all standards, an old maid.  Making a bold resolution, she convinces her guardian to let her move out on her own.  Learning how to manage her own accounts, Charlotte is determined to no longer be a burden on anyone.  Her heart still yearns for love...and a family of her very own...when she meets Walter she finds someone who challenges her intellectually and makes her laugh.  Could he be the one?

If I tell you much more I will give away the story but I promise you will not regret getting ahold of this book and enjoying the adventure as much as I!  Josie S. Kilpack has done it again with another great, clean, Proper Romance!  You can purchase this book from your favorite retailer!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any way and all opinions expressed here are my very own.  
Thanks for swinging by!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Heart of Dakota Resurrection to Reformation - My Review

One of these days I may stumble across the perfect curriculum for our homeschool...really.  We freely bounce around, trying out what we think might be a good fit, and typically don't like it and continue on with BiblioPlan (which we have been loosely using for several years now).  We took a chance and decided to do an 8 week trial of a very popular curriculum, Heart of Dakota!  It was quite different for us since it splits the girls up at their own level putting Kayley in the guide Resurrection to Reformation (studying the middle ages) and Maggie in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory (studying early American History).

There are many, many things that we really like about Heart of Dakota (HOD).  There are several things that we didn't like, which prompted us to tweak and then eventually to drop HOD all together.  We really enjoyed our tour and after Christmas may take a tour of something else entirely...who knows?  But, here are my thoughts on Heart of Dakota....

Heart of Dakota is an unapologetically Christian Homeschool Curriculum that is Charlotte Mason Inspired.  It is an engaging curriculum and just all around fun!  Guides are divided up by a range of ages, for instance, Kayley was placed in Res to Ref which is recommended for children ages 10-12 extending up to 14.  She was on the very young end of the guide but she met the challenges with gusto and did really well.   Maggie, in Beyond, was also at the lower end of her guide and did just fine.

When placing your child in the program it is recommended to spend plenty of time comparing skills to determine correct placement.  Correct placement is essential in order for the guide to challenge but not overwhelm your student.  I do feel like both girls were placed well in their respective guides.

I am going to talk about Kayley's guide, Resurrection to Reformation.

Guides are divided into a daily layout, which is really nice, it gives you a lovely overview of what is expected each day...  The boxes in Kayley's guide were labeled with either I (for independent work), S (semi-independent) or T (teacher directed.)  I really, really didn't want to write in my guide, so a big thanks to another HOD Mom for showing me how to use Tabs to mark completed work each day!

We found right away that there was NO way that Kayley could read the history on her own.  In the first several weeks we were either reading from Peril and Peace, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, or The Story of the Middle Ages by Harding (which Kayley called "the pink book").  Kayley could've handled parts of the reading on her own...Famous Men is actually a great book full of biographies with tons of pictures, Peril and Peace isn't too bad either, but the dreaded pink book made Kayley cringe when I got it out...

TWEAK #1:  I ended up reading out loud and translating every few paragraphs... this added quite a bit of time into our school day because some of the readings are pretty long.

We were told if your child was not used to the "old english" type of books that they may struggle...  Even after an 8 week tour of Ambleside Online we still struggled with the Story of the Middle Ages...  About mid-way through the guide the student starts reading Mystery of History Vol 3, which would've been awesome I have no doubt.  At the point in history (about week 6) when I no longer understood where we were in the timeline I knew there was no way Kayley was clued in.  Sure enough, when questioned she just didn't know...and didn't understand.  It was a bummer, because, ironically enough, neither did I!  And I love history.

Ok, a few other things.  Story time selections were EXCELLENT.  We read The Forbidden Gate and Mystery of the Silver Coins.  Both were so, so good.  For Story time the student created an index card and listened for key elements in the story and documented them.  Things like strong moods, great lines, and plot twists.  This was a really simple way to get Kayley thinking about what we were reading and identifying literary elements.  It created some really good conversation too.

TWEAK #2:  We skipped Bible since it really didn't fit our religious views.  No biggie.  We cover scriptures in our Joy Basket anyway and didn't need duplication.

TWEAK #3:  We skipped the rotation box that included Poet and Artist since we did that as a family in our Joy basket...and then we skipped the "devotional Bible" days too since reading about womanhood as a "budding rose" was making my not-girly daughter throw up in the back of her mouth...

Language Arts uses Rod & Staff for grammar, which was perfect because we are happy R&S users for 2 years now....  For writing, Institute for Excellence in Writing Medieval.  This is a great program that really teaches a reluctant writer how to get started.  

TWEAK #4:  We dropped IEW because with the 2x per week written narrations it was just TOO much writing.  We couldn't keep up.  And Kayley's written narrations are really good...and that's good enough for now for our family.

For spelling they use dictation.  We started experimenting with studied dictation in our 8 week trial of Ambleside, but by week 5 I was a little frustrated with the sentences found in the back of our guide.  I felt like they were wrongly punctuated, I was told by other HOD moms that it is "correct."  (But, I really don't think it is??)  I was told by a couple of HOD moms that the goal isn't to teach punctuation but spelling...  (what?! yeah, but what?!)   Another mom mentioned that I could just correct it and move on, but really?  Why should I even have to do so?  
Maybe I'm far off but I'm nearly positive that Charlotte Mason wouldn't want you to put something incorrect in front of your child...  It bothered me.  A little.  

TWEAK #5:  Ok, it bothered me nough to switch back to Spelling Wisdom for dictation.

For literature, HOD uses their own program called Drawn into the Heart of Reading...  It was a pretty good program but worksheet based.  We are pretty anti-worksheet in this house.  The more worksheets we were doing, the more burdensome reading became. cannot have THAT!   So, 
TWEAK #6:  We dropped the worksheets and by Week 4 we dropped the reading guide altogether in favor of "just reading."  Joy of reading reinstated.

Ok, what else?  Right, Science!
Science was a big fat hit!  Kayley loves reading from the Astronomy book, we downloaded a free notebook from the Monarch Room and Kayley did great with it.  The experiments were a lot of fun.  No tweaks in science at all!  In fact we are still using it!

Each week your child also does a craft project of some kind.  These were great too.  Sometimes messy, sometimes not but every one she did was a lot fun.

The student notebook was really the favorite of the curriculum.  It is very pretty with lots of boxes to fill in.  (We are a big "box checker" family)  Each week your student writes a postcard based on a research topic.  (There were several weeks that both of us were hunting for the answers to fill in this box and didn't always find them all).  There is a timeline section, a place to write your written narrative for the week, a biography section, a map and so forth.  I think the student notebook was the #1 selling point for Kayley.  She really enjoyed note booking.  And it really does make a lovely keepsake.

I think my only issue with the notebook is that, for all the writing Kayley did, she had very little retention.  I would try going back and asking a question from a week before and she just didn't know. I think this really stemmed from being lost in history (darn pink book) and then writing down the answers but not really understanding the material.

Oh, and you also couldn't really skip a subject or tweak much or you'd be left with a gaping empty box!  And us box-checkers cannot handle that!

In summary:

Fun!  Craft Projects!  Student Notebook!  Story time Selections!  Science!

CONS:  Too much writing.  Too much time.  Too little retention.

And really, I think this was the biggest CON for our family...  This curriculum was SO busy, SO full, SO rich, that it just took SO long to get it done.  By week 6 it was a source of contention.  I was frustrated that I was trying to get dinner on the table and Kayley wasn't done.  Poor girl, it wasn't her fault!  She worked hard.  She worked diligently.  She did a good job.  She could handle the assignments.  She just couldn't get Day One done in one day and it really upset her.  In the end, we started doing a lot of tweaking...then eliminating...and no matter how much we tweaked and eliminated, our school day was still just taking TOO long.

Maybe she wasn't placed well in her guide?  But, I don't think so.  In reading through the HOD message boards I learned that her guide really "should" take about 5 hours per day.  Maybe we are just really spoiled homeschoolers but that is too long for our family...and so...we called it quits.

So, all in all, there are my thoughts on HOD Res to Ref.  We really did enjoy much of the curriculum and I think there is always a possibility that we may revisit it again one day.

If you are still here, thanks for thanks for sticking it out and reading this long review!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Charlie the Tramp {Review & Giveaway!}

Think back...maybe way back...and tell me, do you remember Frances?  I don't remember a ton about the adorable little badger, but I do remember her desperately liking bread and jam, and I remember when she had a new baby sister and when she ended up running away.  (It didn't work out that great.)  There were several Frances books and each one was cuter than the last.  I have since checked them all out from the library for MY kids to enjoy.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Russell and Lillian Hoban were the authors of a cute critter other than Frances!  Meet Charlie, an adorable little beaver who decides that, instead of being a beaver, he wants to be a "tramp" when he grow up.

Charlie decides that being a beaver is just way too much work...he doesn't want to practice swimming, diving and holding his breath under water.  He doesn't want to keep his teeth sharp.  As tramp he can carry a little bundle with a stick, sleep outside when the weather is nice, and do little odd jobs for a meal...  Well, of course his parents are concerned, because surely Charlie doesn't want to be a tramp?  But, he does, so with his parents blessing, Charlie goes off a-tramping.

I won't tell you about his adventures as a tramp or what he decides to'll just have to read the book to find out!  It is a cute story with a happy ending.

Originally published in 1966, Charlie the Tramp is in it's 50th Anniversary hardcover edition.  As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler I have to say that this book fits the bill as a non-twaddly, early reader.  Just perfect for reading aloud or the emerging readers in your family!  

You can purchase Charlie the Tramp from your favorite retailer!

Great News!
I have also been blessed with a second copy of Charlie the Tramp to giveaway to one reader of Swinging on Small Hinges!  Enter below!  Raffle ends December 8th at midnight.

Thanks for swinging by!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize of the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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