Friday, April 24, 2009

AB Patterns

In Saxon Math Kindergarten we learned about AB patterns. Our little five year olds would link their colored linking cubes together...first blue, then orange, then blue, then orange, and so on. We would explain to them, "You have created an AB pattern. The blue cube is A and the orange cube is B. We can read this pattern like this: blue, orange, blue, orange OR like this: A, B, A, B."

Well, we have our own AB pattern at our house and it goes a little something like this...

8 years ago we were blessed with a handsome boy.

About a year and half later we had a girl.

Then came another boy.

And then we had another girl.

And a boy.

And a girl.

And wouldn't you just know it...the pattern continues! Our newest little one is a BABY BOY! (Do you think I'm aloud to post this picture on a family friendly website?) We're getting very excited about welcoming a new little one in September!

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tapestry of Grace Review

I'd be surprised if you have been homeschooling for any amount of time and have not heard of Tapestry of Grace. If you're anything like me, you've probably not only heard of it, but spent a little bit of time at their website trying to figure out if it would be the right fit for your family. I was very pleased to find out that I would have the opportunity to review a unit from TOG for the TOS Homeschool Crew.

TOG is a HUGE unit study based on the classical method of homeschooling. There are four years of curriculum that TOG users rotate through year after year. How is this possible? Because one year of TOG gives you curriculum for every grade level, K - 12th. And each year is based on a different time period.

"Tapestry covers the humanities: history, church history, literature, geography, fine arts, government, philosophy, and writing & composition. Tapestry does not include a phonics program, science, math, grammar, spelling, or foreign language. Lampstand Press does, however, recommend and sell complementary logic, spelling, and grammar programs."

The idea is to unify your family's studies, by teaching all of your children the same thing at the same time allowing specific assignments to be age appropriate.

Each year is divided into 4 units. You can purchase a unit at a time or an entire year at once. You can purchase one unit of TOG in digital format for $45 or a full year in digital format for $170. If you prefer a printed copy, than you have the option of paying $280 and you will receive a printed copy along with your digital version.

TOG is a literature-based study and the actual books do not come with the study. What you do get is extensive lesson plans for each week. For example, Week 20 of Year 3 has 62 pages. Each weeks lessons include teaching objectives for each subject, reading assignments for each age level, a weekly overview of what should be learned, suggested writing assignments, student activities (many suggestions for hands-on activities), Pageant of Philosophy (which is basically background information written in a textbook style that is intended for the teacher to read), Teacher's notes, and a glance into next week's lessons. It is a TON of information and I have to admit, I found it quite overwhelming. While the digital format is easy to use, it does not make it any easier to navigate through so much information and I am certain I would prefer the print version.

TOG suggests that there is so many activities and assignments in one week that a parent shouldn't feel pressured to do them all. Instead they should pick and choose which will be best for them. As a result, however there is not daily lesson plans which I found frustrating. In addition to navigating through the lesson plans and having to decide which activities, assignments, and reading each day (basically creating daily lesson plans for the week), a parent will also have to gather all of the suggested books to read and materials for all of the hands-on activities. This is NOT a curriculum that you can simply open up and begin teaching from!

Also, some of the suggested books were also very hard to find from my library system, though we live in an area where this is generally not a problem. TOG's answer to this problem is to simply supplement with other age appropriate books on the same subject.

All that being said, TOG does seem to be a very thorough program...especially for older grades. I could see where it would be beneficial if I were trying to homeschool a large family that was varied in age. As it though, all of my children are still little and close in age. I would also agree that while the initial cost looks a little frightening, it would actually be an affordable way to homeschool if you were committed to use the program as it is suggested: only buying four years of curriculum and using it over and over again for all of your children through all of their schooling.

I don't think that TOG is the right fit for our family, but that certainly shouldn't stop you from looking into it for yours. The TOS Crew website has many other reviews of TOG from homeschool moms and many of them have been absolutely thrilled with this program. You can also find more information and sample lesson plans from the TOG website.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Washed in the Water

Our daughter, A7, has been wanting to be baptised for some time now. We wanted to be sure it was her own decision so we waited and discussed it with her for awhile. Once we felt confident that she understood her decision she happily walked forward at church. We're so proud of our children and so happy that God is moving in their hearts at such tender ages.

I have to say, this is the best family photo we've taken in a while. We gave up on attempting professional photos long ago. But I make sure we get group shots any time we're dressed up.

Baby L cheesed it up while we waited out in the lobby of the church. I think even at 10 months she was very aware of her pretty, fluffly dress and that everyone was oohing and awwing over her.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009


Science has never been a subject that I have been especially fond of. As a child I was never very interested in science texts and always found the experiments we did in class confusing. Some of them were fun, but I didn't understand the science behind them. As a homeschool mom, I have to admit, I've felt a bit inadequate and had really only dabbled in a little bit of science lessons.

However, we were introduced to the Exploring Creation series from Apologia Educational Ministries last fall. My oldest was taking a class on the text Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day and we were required to read the chapters at home each week. This spring we are using Exploring Creation with Botany at our co-op and I was also sent Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day to review. I have to tell you, I love these science books!

Truly what makes the Exploring Creation series so wonderful is the way they are written. Jeannie Fulbright is the talented author behind these books and I can't even bring myself to call them textbooks. They are so full of information with beautiful full color photos on every page, but they are written in a conversational tone which completely draws the student (and teacher!) in. If you are familiar with the Charlotte Mason method of learning than you will understand when I tell you that this is what Ms. Mason would call a 'living book'.

The Charlotte Mason influence does not stop with the way these books are written either. Students are also encouraged to spend time outdoors observing firsthand what they are learning about as well as completing projects and experiments explained in the book. They are also prompted to narrate the information with open-ended questions inserted throughout the chapters and to write information learned in science notebooks.

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day is written with the student ages six to thirteen in mind. Because there is so much information included, I have found that my 8 year old and 7 year old are the ones who enjoy and glean the most from the Exploring Creation books. My younger ones don't mind listening to Mommy read and enjoy looking at the pictures, but they still have a hard time comprehending much of the scientific information.

Flying Creatures has 14 lessons. We usually complete one lesson a week, but you are encouraged to take as much time as your family needs to complete a lesson. The lessons don't just focus on birds, but also explore bats and flying insects as well. Like I said before, students are encouraged to keep a notebook instead of filling out answers in a workbook and each chapter ends with an experiment or project to give your children the opportunity to use the scientific method. Your book will also include a password that will allow you access to the "course website" which provides you with wonderful links for further study.

I cannot recommend the Exploring Creation series from Apologia enough. I always seem to breathe a sigh of relief when I open these books and think, "YES, this is how science should be taught!" It is interesting, engaging, thorough, and taught from a Creationist view.

You can purchase Apologia books from their website. Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day is only $35. You can read reviews of this and other Apologia books at the TOS Crew blog.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yahoo Nightmares

I am beyond frustrated with Yahoo mail today. I can see that I have emails from my homepage, but when I click on my mail I GET A BLANK PAGE.

This has actually been going on off and on for the past three days. I am seriously contemplating changing email servers...seems like a ridiculous amount of trouble.

Anyway, if any of you know me personally and are trying to get a hold of me through email today, I'll get to you as soon as I can! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Schleich is a company that specializes in making toy figurines and was founded in 1935. Originally, they made miniature versions of the Smurfs (still available), Snoopy,and other characters. They added animals to line of products in the 1980s and have recently added other themed figurines like knights, wild west, and elves.

Below are some of the animals we received from Schleich.

I was impressed by both the quality and durability of the products as well as the artistic attention to detail.

The philosophy behind Schleich is also admirable as well:

"The design of our products is as realistic and naturalistic as possible. This enables children to experience the large variety of nature - from domestic animals on a farm to wild animals in the jungle.

When deciding on licensing products such as comic figurines we pay careful attention to their character and the message they carry. Educational aspects play a more important part than possible sales potential."

Most of the Schliech figures cost between $3 and $9. Check out their site for local and online distributors. And don't forget about the TOS Crew'll find other reviews of Schleich products there.

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