Monday, June 26, 2017

Random Summer Happenings

We are really enjoying our summer break.  I always think that I want to be a year round homeschooler but June and July just get SO busy that we find that it is really better for us to just enjoy summer activities and some time off.  With Gramma and Papa gone for the month we have had to create our own entertainment...  

We found this really cute little pop-up sun tent at Aldi.  The girls wanted to try it the kitchen.  Seems logical.  LOL.

Kayley masterminded a pretty impressive puppet show of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. 

Maggie enjoyed painting some "jellyfish" with coffee filters... 

Kayley has started dabbling a bit more in the kitchen and made us some great Kielbasa and Cabbage! 

Plenty of time to love on Bob the Cat.  
Bob is a stray that came with the house...
And she's actually a pretty awesome cat who brings us dead gifts often.

Maggie had a chance to go to Zoo School at Dickerson Park Zoo.  
Their kids programs are awesome! 

And, both girls lost a tooth on the same day and enjoyed a visit from the tooth fairy.   

As for the rest of the time?  We are doing a little bit of "summer school."  Mainly focusing on Crew Review products, a little bit of math, and of course our summer reading!  The girls are getting really close to that gift card!  

As for me?  I have been gathering materials and planning our next school year.  We will start back to homeschool the 2nd week in August since we usually end up taking off several times throughout the year for various reasons.  I think that homeschool planning might be one of my favorite things to do...but, I'm crazy like that!  :)

Thanks for Swinging by!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What We Are Reading {the Summer Reading edition}

We love participating in the library's summer reading program...and we do every year.  The girls usually earn some random trinkets and a free scoop of ice cream.  Which is usually a great incentive for girls who read every day anyway.   (This year they quit doing all the great freebies and discounts - Bummer!)  To make it more of a challenge, each year I  typically add our "own thing" for summer reading.  A few years ago we did a "read your height" challenge...  and a few years before that we did a huge caterpillar where you earned a body segment for each book you read.  Our incentives have always varied from trips to Chuck E. Cheese or Build-a-Bear, etc.

For the last 2 years now we have enjoyed Traveling Through the Pages: A Summer Reading Program offered by Pam Barnhill on her website  

Other website you can download this cute fantasy themed game board or a space themed one! 
This is Kayley's.

If you look closely you can see that the game board encouraged you to read from a wide variety of genres.
This one is Maggie's.

It is a fun way to get the girls to continue reading all summer long.  As my girls are getting older, trips to Chuck E. Cheese just don't cut it.  Apparently CEC isn't that cool when you are 11. So this year we sweetened the summer reading pot by offering a $25 gift card to each girl who reads at least 25 books this summer.  My girls are avid readers anyway, but a sweet incentive really motivates them to keep their head in a book for a little while longer during the summer. 

Well, you know what THAT means.  I'm a girl too...  So, here is my game board.  Obviously I am more than a little behind my voracious readers!

Here is what we are all currently reading:

Our read aloud is Ember Falls-The Green Ember Book II by S. D. Smith.  These books have been fantastic and really stretched us out of our normal family reading genre.  In this series, two rabbits, Heather and Picket (with all their rabbit friends) are fighting a battle against hawks and wolves to try and bring peace back to the kingdom.  I really don't want to tell you much about this one since it would give away the ending of Green Ember!  Our fingers are crossed that we are not left hanging at the end since there is not yet a Green Ember III. 

The girls have spent a lot of time over the last week enjoying this Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas.  Honestly, my house is currently overflowing with summer art.  

Kayley is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.  She earned this book for completing the library summer reading program.  Here is what she thinks of it so far, "It is a little bit sad.  She tries to go over the sea, but has to turn back.  Karana spends long lonely days on the island learning how to survive."

Maggie is reading Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink.  Maggie thinks it is "kind of funny and adventurous."  She said, "In this book 2 girls, Mary and Jean, are shipwrecked on an island in the middle of the ocean.  They were in a lifeboat with 4 babies that they are now responsible for."   

I am currently reading Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels.  This out-of-print treasure is recommended on Ambleside's year 6.  It is really fascinating.  Halliburton's travels the world and brings the world to his readers.  It is full of pictures.   If you can get your hands on this book it is definitely worth the read.  

Happy Summer Reading Everyone!
Thanks for Swinging by!  


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mud Pies and Other Recipes {Nature Study}

Back in the wintertime I happened upon this interesting little book at Goodwill for only .50cents.  I thought it seemed kind of cute and funny so I purchased it and took it home.  Little did I know that it would be one of my girls' favorite things for outside imaginative play!

Oh yes, it is a recipe book using mud!  Among other things...

The book is quite literally what it says...  Using everyday items found in your yard you can make breads, soups, puddings and more for you and your dolly.  Seriously, do NOT eat them.  Yuck.  But, cute and Maggie has taken this book so seriously.  I have watched them roast strange items on a "spit" and mix up various delicious-looking muddy concoctions.

So, if you are looking for something new to convince your littles to go outside...mud will usually work!  Dress for a mess and happy "cooking!"

The book is available on Amazon in a hardback...  
You can find it here:

(not an affiliate link - just happy to share!)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Republic Steam Engine Grounds

Our Library System does a great program each Friday during the summer as part of their Summer Reading Program.  Called "Fantastic Fridays" the library works in cooperation with several educational groups to bring fun activities to kids.   Well, technically they are bringing the kids to fun activities!  Last week they opened up the Republic Steam Engine Grounds!

There were a lot of old "engines" to see, many of which were running!  If you were willing to stand in  line you could get ride on the bigger steam engines.  They were loud and noisy but really neat.

The girls also had an opportunity to check out how to grind wheat the old fashioned way.

This machine separated the wheat from the chaff.

This machine ground the wheat into flour!

They got their picture taken on a tractor!

And they also had a chance to visit the Mobile Library...

The Republic Steam Engine Grounds were really neat.  They do have a  fun celebration in September called Steam-O-Rama.  You can learn more about that by visiting the Steam-O-Rama website!

To find out more about the Library's Fantastic Friday programs you can view the schedule!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Homeschool - Apologia Educational Ministries {Homeschool Crew Review}

How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook)
Does the thought of homeschooling fill you with anxiety?  Fear?  Beginning homeschooling can be completely nerve-wracking.  I know I was completely overwhelmed and stressed when I first started our homeschool journey and I would have loved to have had the chance to work through something like this self-study course published by Apologia Educational Ministries called How to Homeschool with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook).
When I first pulled my daughter out of preschool I began desperately searching for resources and materials.  It was enough to make my head spin!  I was convinced that I would be a terrible homeschool Mom!  I wasn't sure that I had the patience to be around my daughter all. day. long.  Oh, how I would have loved to have had a homeschool-Mom-friend to be a voice of reason, giving advice and clarity when my thoughts were so jumbled and chaotic....and I was in full on panic mode.
This DVD & Workbook course will do exactly that.   For this review I was blessed to receive the soft cover How to Homeschool Workbook with the accompanying 2 disc DVD set.  Written and hosted by Leslie Nunnery (Teach Them Diligently Conventions) and Rachael Carman (Apologia Educational Ministries) you can expect to sit back, find a comfy, cozy spot and be uplifted, edified and encouraged by veteran homeschool Moms "in the know."  Designed to help you get your feet wet in the homeschooling world and help you sort through the chaos, the workbook includes 15 Chapters with an accompanying 10-15 minute DVD lessons for each sets you on the course of homeschooling with confidence.  Each chapter gives you further information that dovetails with the DVD lesson, an assignment to help you assimilate the information and a large spread for taking notes.  Since each lesson is bite-sized it is perfect for busy mama's who are just getting started on their homeschool journey.  

You will learn:
1.  How to Get the Most out of the Course
2.  Setting Goals
3.  Finding Support
4.  Choosing Curriculum
5.  Practical How-To's
6.  Organizing Homeschool Stuff
7.  Organizing Your Homeschool Day
8.  Tips from Veterans
9.  Family Matters --Marriage
10.  Family Matters -- The Rest
11.  Dealing with Opposition
12.  High School Graduation and College
13.  If College is NOT the End Game
14.  You Can Make It!
15.  Continuing Education and Encouragement

When I sat down and popped in the DVD to get started with Lesson One, I really anticipated it being a rehash of things I already knew.  I don't consider myself a veteran homeschool by any stretch, but I am at a point where I feel pretty confident in what I am doing.  I was prepared to be underwhelmed...  Wrong!!!  Boy was I surprised when, by Lesson Two, I already had a page FULL of notes.  Even a veteran homeschool Mom like me (6 years and counting) still has a LOT to learn.  I had a lot of "aha" moments where I looked back and wished I had done some things differently but then was thrilled to realize that it was not too late.  

The lessons are relevant and engaging.  Handy links and scripture verses are dotted through the book and referenced in the DVD interviews.  The program also includes password protected access to an online appendix full of even more helpful resources and more information.  It is like having a homeschool mentor in your back pocket!  

I deeply appreciate lessons shared by two Godly women who really recognize God's hand in all things...  I love how they approach homeschooling as an opportunity not only to teach, but to really disciple your children.  I was inspired early on in the series to really re-focus on the WHY behind my homeschool.  (You are encouraged to write it down so that you can reflect back on it when you have bad days)  It solidified my resolve and offered new insights that encouraged me to stay the course!

Apologia Educational Ministries
You can find out more about Apologia and their products by visiting them at the following social media links!
Twitter: (Tag @apologiaworld)
Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew

I am so excited to share that I have been blessed to participate again in The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!  This is a fun group where I get an opportunity to review homeschool products in exchange for an honest review.  I participated with the crew for a couple of years back before Maggie was born, and for a while when she was a baby but life got in the way...(you know how that goes!)

Team Member
I was a late addition to the group (They started a few months ago) and they are already hopping with many review products.  I'm nervous to jump in and get started and already my head is spinning with the excitement of review products coming my way and the nervousness of writing product reviews.

My blog has been quieter in the last couple of years and while I am not looking to make any money from it, I love the idea of getting it up and busy again.  I will be slowly updating and making some changes to my blogs format over the next couple of months in anticipation of what, I hope, is a long relationship with the TOS Crew.  I've been welcomed warmly and I'm delighted to get started.

Right now I am already working on an awesome how to homeschool DVD series and the girls are loving a lap book review on states!  I can't wait to share some of these great products with you!

Thank you for hanging out with me here at Swinging On Small Hinges and I hope you enjoy the upcoming changes.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Memorial Day

We always enjoy Memorial Day.  We usually take a huge bag of flowers and decorate as many unknown or forgotten graves that we can find...  This year was even more special because we had Gramma & Papa along with us to share family history stories.

We also picnicked!  What a bummer that I didn't get a picture of that!  Either way, my phone case was messed up and 2/3 of the pictures I snapped didn't turn out at all.  Boo!  Here are the few I managed to get...

Kayley met some cows... 

And did some headstone rubbings! 

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