Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Top Ten Favorite School Supplies {TOS Back to School Blog Hop}

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
Today we are blogging about school supplies!  I love back-to-school time when all the school supplies are cheap and in abundance.  I thought that I would share my top 10 favorite school supplies that I use all year round.  I only have a few things that I consider "must haves" but I am happy to share each one with you!  I'm sure my Type A personality is flashing with blinking lights during this post.  Haha!  Enjoy my list of Favorite "Must Have" School Supplies!

#1.  D-ring binders
Nope!  Not just any old binder will do in this house.  They absolutely must be D-ring.  They keep your pages neat and tidy and the pages turn so easily in a D-ring.  They also must have a clear plastic sleeve in the front so that I can insert a binder cover.  I require D-ring binders in various widths and colors...because I color coordinate whenever possible.  It's all about organization and looking pretty.

#2.  Bic Xtra Strong, Break-resistant lead pencils
The 0.9 mm lead is what makes this pencil so awesome.  I have 2 girls who push HARD on their papers when they are writing and we often end up with broken lead.  (And I'm always afraid that the little lead piece is going to poke someones eye out!)  Tracking down a pencil sharpener is frustrating too and they only sharpen so-so, soooo clickable pencils are great!  Plus these particular pencils erase cleanly!  We buy these pencils in bulk!

#3.  Time-Timer
We received this as a review product over 5 years ago and we STILL use it nearly every day in our homeschool!  Time-Timer has come a long way since then and is now available in more sizes and even in "fashion colors!"  It is pricey, but I cannot believe how much we have used this awesome little timer!  It is quiet so it works so perfectly for reading time and math timed worksheets and so forth.

#4.   Reading Window
(I suppose this is technically not a "school supply")  I know, most people have a reading basket or bin but we have taken advantage of this window that looks out onto our screened in porch.  This year it is decorated as Hogwarts library!  I put library books on display in the window that I hope the girls will pick up and read out of interest.  I have found that having living books on "display" makes it more likely that one will catch their eye!

#5.  Double-sided Tape
I can't believe I didn't start using double sided tape sooner.  It works great for nearly everything that kids would normally glue...only there is no goopy, sticky, white, slimy mess!  We have used our double sided tape from everything to sticking little paper thingys on worksheets to assembling entire lap books.  Loooooove double-sided tape!

#6.  White Board
Why, yes, I do have a big white board hanging in my kitchen!  Doesn't everyone?  LOL!  We use this board for everything.  Diagramming sentences?  Spelling practice?  To-do Lists?  Menu planning?  Yep, pretty much everything.

#7.  Student Planner
Our favorite is the God's Word in Time Student planner.  I got mine from Christian Book Distribution.   They are inexpensive and sturdy.  I do end up writing things in duplicate because I write one for each girl every week, but they really seem to encourage independence.  A plus: they file away neatly with each child's schoolwork giving a record of our accomplishments for the year and checking the box needed for our state's homeschool requirements.

#8.  Colored & White Index Cards
We use these for everything.  Spelling lists, flash cards, spines in a 3 ring binder, little stand ups for reminders on the table...  We like the color index cards because, well, YOU know!

#9.  Headphones
For math videos, for piano, for audio books...  Ahhhh...  blessed peace and quiet.

#10.  A good printer and printer paper
I print a lot.  And I mean, a lot a lot!  I love PDF downloadable curriculum that allows me to print something, throw it in a binder or have it spiral or comb bound.  Then I can change my mind and re-print, print more copies, or scratch the whole thing and start over if needed.  I always feel that I have to keep hard copies neat and clean, but with PDF downloads I can write all over them, file them away...and print them again later!

I look forward to seeing what the favorite school supplies of my fellow crew mates might be!  I will enjoy hopping through all the blogs to find out!  Thank you so much for swinging by at Swinging On Small Hinges!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


Monday, August 14, 2017

Our Favorite Curriculum {TOS Back to School Blog Hop}

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Hello!  Welcome to Swinging On Small Hinges!  

If you are visiting for the first time from The Old Schoolhouse blog I am so grateful that you took the time to swing by Swinging On Small Hinges.  I hope you enjoy your visit!

When I first started homeschooling I was SO nervous that I immediately jumped into an all-in-one video based curriculum.  I was so scared that I would mess up.  While we still have fond memories of that first year of homeschooling kindergarten I have since, over the last 7 years of homeschooling, loosened up a bit and have felt confident enough to branch out and try many new things.   And when I say many...I mean many.  Flexibility is one of the blessings of homeschooling!  Thank goodness for that because we have already made a couple of changes this year!

Some of my readers know that I posted our curriculum choices for our 2017-2018 Hogwart's Themed school year not too long ago but, believe it or not, we have already made a couple of changes.  (I bet you do believe it!)  The problem we ran into within the first week was that I once again have tried to do too much...  Does this happen to you too?  We barely started and I realized that our lives are just too busy to try to do the amount of work I had scheduled in a week.  Oops.  Somehow it didn't cross my mind that with piano, swimming & sewing lessons, doctor appointments, and a lot of service through our church...we would not be able to do that without stress and frustration.  I guess Mom is just a little too ambitious...  I streamlined almost immediately and had to put aside my pre-done, home made schedules in favor of a week-by-week schedule.  It just works better for our family...

Either way, without further ado, this blog post marks an "update" to our curriculum choices for 2017-2018.  I would love to share what has been working great so far...and what we have tweaked (or completely changed) this school year.


Click Here to share BiblioPlan! Thank You!

BiblioPlan History remains a favorite.  We have been using BiblioPlan in our family integrated history studies for 6 years now.  We love the flexibility, the readers, Remember the Days, the Maps, the Timeline...pretty much everything about it, but especially the flexibility!  BiblioPlan's family guide makes planning history so easy for all grades.  We love having both girls in the same time period at their own level and we appreciate that you can substitute books and it does not affect the schedule or literature.  I use it as a guideline and I flesh it out as I see fit each year.  This year we are studying Early Modern History, BiblioPlan Year 3.

We were all set to pounce on Guest Hollow for the first time this year with Kayley enjoying Knowledge of Nature and Maggie enjoying Little Otter's Anatomy.  Unfortunately that has pretty much fallen apart due to the sheer volume of living books we were trying to read for both history and science.  We were forced to streamline this almost immediately.  This is totally my fault...self-professed overachiever here!  
What we are doing instead to streamline science:
Kayley is still using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics Text and Notebook for her own personal study as scheduled in Guest Hollow (without the extra worksheets)...but she is also tagging along with Maggie in something we are trying that is NEW!
Maggie is using The Good & The Beautiful Arthropods Science Unit by Jenny Phillips (Kayley is tagging along because she just loves science)  If you haven't explored The Good & The Beautiful curriculum yet, I highly recommend it!  It accounts for the other changes we have made this school year.... (I wish I had found this earlier!)

Language Arts!
We were WAY too ambitious as far as Language Arts goes and within the 1st week I was already regretting my attempts at creating "rigor" in my homeschool....again...(Did I mention I am an over achiever?  I'm sooooo sorry girls).  Anyway.  I convinced everyone to scrap our over-kill Language Arts plans and try The Good & The Beautiful for Language Arts.  
Oh. My. Goodness.  It IS both good AND beautiful.  Not kidding.  It is advanced without being painfully rigorous.  What is amazing is that levels 1-5 are FREE.  Go, check it out!  
(You won't be sorry.)
Now, not only is it both good and beautiful but it really takes all of our different language arts books and complies it into one (or two) neat and tidy lessons!  Reading, Grammar, Spelling, Geography and Fine Arts are all rolled into The Good & The Beautiful.  It has really eliminated some stress for me and the girls.
Maggie is in LOVE with The Good & The Beautiful.  She placed into Level 1.
Kayley is still unsure about The Good & The Beautiful but wants to try "another week or two" before she makes a decision on what she thinks of it.  She placed into Level 5.  
Both girls are also using the handwriting portion of the program too...
Mom (me!) really likes The Good & The Beautiful.  
(I think I will write a review about it one day soon).

We are still loving Math-U-See!  Kayley has used MUS since the beginning.  She thrives under the mastery approach and really enjoys the videos with Mr. Demme.  
Maggie started with MUS as well, completing Primer, Alpha and 1/2 of Beta, but just hasn't flourished with it as well as I was hoping...so this year we are taking a break from MUS and using Christian Light Education Math 2 and so far (2 weeks in) it is wonderful!  Maggie seems to respond well to the flashcards, math drills and other tasks as assigned in the light unit.  My hope is that the more "spiral" approach to math will resonate with her and help her build confidence in math!

Foreign Language!
If you remember, we had big plans to do Prima Latina (Kayley) and Salsa Spanish (Maggie) and we haven't managed to get either of those programs going yet...  But, we are just our first month into this school year so there is still hope!  Right?  Riiiiiiight....  ;)
That's about it for our curriculum this year.  I wonder what everyone else is using?  I can't wait to read through all the Blog Hop link ups to find out!!!  

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


Friday, August 11, 2017

Kayley's 11th Birthday

As I was looking through my photos this morning I couldn't believe that I forgot to post the pictures from Kayley's 11th Birthday!  This spunky girl is fun and silly but serious about so many things.  This year she is reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and was thrilled to receive her Hogwarts letter! 

She didn't ask for much for her birthday but 
wanted to go explore The Discovery Center...so we did!

Riding the high wire bike was an adventure! 

We celebrated that evening with cake & ice cream and a few gifts. 

I think she had a great birthday.  She received money, gift cards and finally got her hands on S.D. Smith's The Black Star of Kingston! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God {TOS Crew Review}

Teaching my girls to get into the habit of studying the scriptures for themselves has been a challenge. It seems that most devotional books are written to either preschoolers or teens.  Finding the perfect fit for the upper elementary/middle school crowd hasn't been easy so I was intrigued with the opportunity to review a book from the Alone With God series published by Greek 'n' Stuff called I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God (King James Version).  This Bible Study, written by Karen Mohs really fit the bill when it came to finding a Bible Study curriculum that my 11 year old could actually do independently and still offered her a challenge!

Greek 'n' Stuff

About the Alone With God Bible Study series:
There are several books available in the Alone With God Bible Study series.  With questions pulled directly from the Bible (your choice of the King James Version or the New International Version) the Alone With God series systematically walks your child through the books of the Bible.  Each lesson is designed to take approximately one week and the activities are divided into daily chunks that make it clear to even a young reader what to do first and what to do next.   Memory verses are interspersed throughout with prompts to help the child remember to recite and practice the memory verse.  Interesting sidebars also offer fascinating facts about scriptural terminology, complex vocabulary, interesting geography, and sheds light on the historical culture of biblical times.  Each lesson begins with a prayer and several lessons include a "Think and Pray About It" at the end that encourages the student to apply God's word to their daily life.

Alone With GodBible Study
Jonah & RuthNew International Version

About I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God:
We received the study on Jonah & Ruth.  A nice sturdy book with a spiral binding, Jonah and Ruth comprises a 13 week survey of the these Biblical books.  Your child will learn about Jonah and his mistakes and read as he learns to obey God.  Discover Ruth and learn about the blessings that come from choosing to put God first.  Each section is divided up into 6 bite-sized lessons, one for each day of the week (excluding Sunday).  Each lesson starts with a prayer, then asks your child to read or recite the memory verse for the week.  Following that, questions based on that weeks scripture reading encourage your child to dig in to the scriptures with fill-in-the-blanks to check for understanding.  The questions range from basic knowledge level to rhetorical questions asking "why do you think?"

What we thought of I Can Study Jonah & Ruth Alone With God:
I opted to offer this review product to my 11 year old, Kayley.  She is just at the in-between age where I am having a really hard time finding a scripture study program that is just right for her age.  She was excited for the opportunity and had a lot of feedback to share as she studied.

We were really impressed with the quality of the book we received.  Nice sturdy cover, a plastic coated spiral edge and the interior pages printed on heavy bond paper guarantee that this book will stand up to daily use through and entire semester of study.  Kayley was glad that it was "spiral instead of comb bound."  It allowed her to open the book all the way up and fold it over.

As "Type A" personalities and self-professed "box checkers" we really loved the checklist approach to keeping up with daily assignments and appreciated having space for Kayley to write directly in the book (unlike many other devotionals) since I really feel that writing things down help you to internalize what you read.

When I asked her thoughts on this Bible study, Kayley said:
It was very well written and some of the questions are very deep...which is good!  I liked that I could do it by myself and that it is in little bite sized pieces.  But, I'm not a fan of the "day of the week schedule" because we didn't always get it done that day and then it made me feel like I was running behind which was kind of frustrating.  If I could change one thing about it, I would change it to be listed as Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc...then I wouldn't feel like I had to 'catch up' if I missed a day.  I could just pick up where I left off.  Overall I liked it and I think I would like to do another one when this one is finished.
We really enjoyed this product from Greek 'n' Stuff and will strongly consider placing an order for a 2nd Bible Study when this one is completed!  Want a closer look?  You can check out a sample page here.

If you haven't been to Greek 'n' Stuff's website yet you should check it out.  Not only do they offer Bible Studies but, like their name implies, they offer Greek (and Latin too!)

Keep up to date with Greek 'n' Stuff by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Many of my fellow cremates reviewed Bible Studies and other products, like Greek, from Greek 'n' Stuff.  You can read their reviews by clicking the linky below!  

Thanks so much for Swinging By!
Teach Me Some Greek {Greek 'n' Stuff Reviews}

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ozark Empire Fair

We took an opportunity to sneak out to enjoy the Ozark Empire Fair last week.  Boy was it HOT!  Here are a few pictures from our fun day!

The Duck Pond.  A Tradition EVERY year since I was a little girl...

This year was a first when the girls conquered the Rumble Through the Jungle! 

It was so hot we found shade wherever we could.  LOL! 

The slide!  I loved this when I was a kid!

Of course...every year at the fair I would play this game.
And every year I would win!  So, I thought...for the sake of another tradition the girls should probably play at least THIS midway game. 

So they could win a gold fish! 

We had a great time at the fair even though it was so hot!  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Heirloom Audio Productions - In The Reign of Terror {TOS Review}

Heirloom Audio Productions has amazed listeners yet again with another wonderfully done radio adventure from a G.A. Henty novel!  This newest adventure, In the Reign of Terror, takes place during the height of the French Revolution.  Featuring an all-star cast, this radio drama is sure to delight families of all ages and keep you on the edge of your seat!  Believe it or not, this was my first Henty and my first Heirloom Audio CD and I cannot wait to get my hands on several more!  We were so blessed to review a physical 2 CD set of In the Reign of Terror complete with access to bonus materials through the Live The Adventure Club!

In the Reign of Terror
What is In the Reign of Terror all about?
In this fantastic G.A. Henty novel, 16-year-old Harry Sandwith travels to France where he is to become the companion to Ernest, the son of French aristocrat Monsieur le Marquis.  It takes him a while to learn the customs and traditions of the French and he struggles to feel at home but after a terrifying incident during a hunt Harry finally earns a place among Monsieur le Marquis' family.   During this time word reaches the family that King Louis XIV has tried to flee France with his family but was detained and forcefully returned to Paris where the people want to try him for treason.  As pressures of the revolution become stronger Monsieur le Marquis and Madam le Marquis demonstrate their loyalty to the crown by traveling to Paris to offer their services to the king and queen...  Knowing their possessions and property will most likely be confiscated, Monsieur le Marquis withdraws as much money as possible and places them in a traveling trunk with jewels and other family valuables and sends them to Harry's father for safekeeping.  Monsieur le Marquis is confident that while he and Madam are away Harry, Ernest and the other children will be far from harm at the Chateau...until news of a mob reaches them and they are forced to flee for their lives!  One of the darkest times in history, you can learn about the French Revolution as you follow the adventure of Harry...will Harry's new family end up on the guillotine?  You will have to listen to the radio adventure to find out!
In the Reign of Terror is an audio theater drama and includes incredible voice-overs by an all-star cast and realistic sound affects that really put you IN the book.  Be prepared to be perched right on the edge of your seat with excitement and anticipation!

Heirloom Audio Productions

Live The Adventure!
Heirloom Audio Productions offers a Live The Adventure Club that contains downloadable bonus features for In The Reign of Terror and other radio dramas when you purchase as a club member.  The website is easy to use and gives you access to Your Adventure Library where you can download and listen to your radio dramas and enjoy adventure specific bonus content!

And you don't want to miss the Bonus Content!  Bonuses for In the Reign of Terror include access to the original Henty book, online listening to the official soundtrack, printable cast poster, inspirational verse poster, desktop wall paper download, the script and best of all:
Study guide and conversation starter!

About the Study Guide:
The Study Guide is 50 pages of questions and activities designed to stimulate writing ideas for older children and serve as great discussion points for younger children.  The Listening Well section asked knowledge level questions to determine the listeners understanding of what they heard happen in the story.  The Thinking Further section encourages children to explore the geography of the region, make a french recipe (we love learning with food!), enjoy research projects, and take it deeper through critical thinking prompts.  Also included are extensive vocabulary lists divided by scene.

There are many opportunities to Expand Your Learning throughout the Study Guide as well.  They are very fascinating!  Fashion, the history of the Guillotine, people, places and specific events.

And that's not all!  The Live The Adventure Club also has book specific online quizzes, community message boards, downloads galore, activities for kids, parent articles and much, much more!

What We Thought of In the Reign of Terror:
This was our FIRST Heirloom Audio Productions CD.  They are so popular and so many of my friends adore them I can't believe I haven't purchased one before now...  I came so close to purchasing With Lee in Virginia when it first came out, but I hesitated because...I'm ashamed to admit....I was afraid Henty would be boring!  Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone...  I have never been so WRONG.  We really enjoyed listening to this radio drama of In the Reign of Terror.  Radio drama is so fun and the sound affects and different character voices really takes this a step above a standard audio book.  It makes it an audio adventure!

I thought In the Reign of Terror might possibly be lost on the girls too since The French Revolution is a pretty heavy subject and my girls are still pretty young, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that BOTH girls were listening with rapt attention and chided me when we stopped at a dramatic part....  "Nooooo!!!!"  There is nothing quite like sitting in the driveway playing just "one more chapter" before going inside!  But, we've done it!

(doesn't everyone take their homeschooled kids places dressed as a pirate?)

I can't wait to get my hands on another Heirloom Audio Adventure!  There are a LOT to chose from!  Check out all of the radio dramas that Heirloom Audio Productions has available for purchase or immediate download!  They all look amazing!

Keep up to date with all of Heirloom Audio Productions current happenings by following them on Facebook or Twitter!

Many of my fellow crew mates also reviewed In the Reign of Terror from Heirloom Audio Productions.  Find out what they thought by clicking the linky below!  

Thank you so much for swinging by!
In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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