Homeschool Creations

Friday, November 28, 2008

Great Children's Books

Recently I was introduced to Salem Ridge Press, a publishing company that is republishing children's books from the 1800's and early 1900's - books that are no longer available in print. The company was started by a homeschool graduate, Daniel Mills who wanted to provide books that parents can feel good about giving to their children because of the content: strong moral values, exciting content, and good character qualities.

A Little More about Salem Ridge Press:

After browsing their website and the various books that Salem Ridge Press offers, I am very impressed with the company's philosophy and their goals. The verse that they base their philosophy on is Phillipians 4:8 . A recent newsletter clip nicely "sums up" their beliefs for me(emphasis mine):

"If I am going to bring a book back into print, I want to be able to stand behind it with no reservations. Very early on we realized that we were going to have to decide carefully what was appropriate in our books and what was not. I sometimes joke that our number one rule is, "No Kissing!" While many books from the 1800's and early 1900's are no problem at all this way, in several cases we have slightly edited passages which included a brief kiss or embrace. We want to be an encouragement to young people to maintain the highest standards of purity in their relationships. We have also edited out some derogatory comments that we felt were unnecessary or offensive."

About the books I read:

Mary Jane - Her Book ($12.95) is a title for younger readers that both of our girls LOVED! Mary Jane is a five year old girl and the book is a compilation of her everyday adventures: helping out around the house, going on a picnic, planting a garden, learning to sew, and more. Laurianna and McKenna read this book to each other each night before bedtime and I could hear them giggling at the stories. (ages 6-10)

The American Twins of the Revolution ($12.95) is based on a true story during the American Revolution. It tells the story of a hidden shipment of gold and is full of adventure. This is one book that we will be adding to our curriculum when we study early American history! (ages 8-adult)

Glaucia the Greek Slave ($14.95) is a story based in Athens during the first century. It tells the story of Glaucia and her brother who were sold as slaves after their father's death. There is a mystery surrounding their mother's disappearance several years before. Glaucia's brother Laon later meets the prisoner Paul, who shares about a new religion. This is the first of twelve books in a Church History series. You can read the first chapter of the book if you would like to get a feel for the books. (ages 10-adult)

An Added Bonus:

When you sign up to receive a quarterly newsletter, you will be entered to win one of their books each time a new title is released.

Until December 1st they are also holding a "Wish List Giveaway". Make a wish list of 5 books that you would like from their website and they will email the list to 3 people and you could be one of five people that receives all the books on your list for FREE (hurry - that's only a few days away!!).

This is definitely a company that I am going to be looking to in the future for supplements to our homeschool books. I am very impressed with their philosophy and the books that I have had the opportunity to read. And with Christmas coming up...there may just have to be a few books under the tree for the girls - we have to know what is happening with Mary Jane!

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The Preschool Corner: Alphabet Book

This week we took a little break from schooltime to get ready for company - and just REST! :) I've been going back through my previous posts and separating them out and finished up a few more individual letter posts. They are back-dated to when we actually completed them, but if you are interested, you can follow the links here to the letter "C" and the letter "D". When I have a little more time I will catch up with the other missing letters.

I also uploaded the template for the alphabet book that we are using to paste our activities in. I printed it double-sided on cardstock and then had it spiral bound (the exact word is escaping me at the moment - but it's the inexpensive version you can have done quickly and easily).

If you would like to share what you've been doing during your preschool time, feel free to sign Mr. Linky below.
Guidelines for The Preschool Corner can be found here. Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christian Art Curriculum: Spears Art

Despite the fact that I am crafty (of sorts), being consistent with art in our school-time is not one of my strong points. I might incorporate an "art activity" that goes along with the topic we are currently studying, but it is not focused on any specific art techniques or components. It's just doing a project for the sake of doing a project.

I was THRILLED to receive a full K-8th Christian Art Curriculum from Spears Art Studio to review. Over the last month and a half I have been using it with both my second and first grader and love the techniques that it is teaching as well as how simple it is to integrate into our school day. My girls are really enjoying it too and look forward to the lessons each week.

The curriculum, created by Diane Spears, is based on a theme for each week of the school year and includes one or more activities for each grade level based on the theme, and addresses various art elements, art principles, and design elements. It also incorporates the various seasonal elements (fall, Thanskgiving, Christmas, etc...). The curriculum is in PDF format ($39.95) and includes:

  • Scripture integration
  • full color illustrations
  • complete lesson plans for each school year week - plans include objectives, Scripture references, art history ideas, vocabulary, teacher prep and motivation, lesson focus, materials needed, directions for the activity and evaluation tools
  • 269 art activities
  • 137 patterns and posters
  • 498 instructional pages
  • evaluation tools for student's art projects
The lessons are divided months/weeks of the year and also by grade level, making it quick and easy to find the grade level that you need. Teaching multiple children at the same time isn't difficult to do and it is possible to use the curriculum year after year without repeating projects since they change based on the grade level your child is in. It is also versatile enough to be used in your own studies or in a group setting such as a homeschool co-op.

The Spears Art Studio website has sample lessons available along with more in-depth information about the curriculum. Overall, this curriculum is an amazing deal when you consider that it covers from K-8 for $40 (this includes shipping!) - that's a little less than $5 a year for an amazing art curriculum. I willcontinue to use this curriculum in the upcoming years with my children and am very thankful that it is one that provides a Christ-centered view toward art education.

About the creator:

Diane Shields, the creator of Spears Art has a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and a Doctorate in Christian art/education. She has taught in both the public and private systems.

If you would like to read other reviews of the Spears Art Curriuculum you can visit the Homeschool Crew blog.

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Israel for Kids: Week 2

We've been continuing on in our study of Israel this last week and a half. The girls spent a little more time visiting some websites this week for some virtual tours - which they were thrilled with. In addition we've also spent time doing the following:

  • Continued practicing our new geography song about the Middle East (from Geography Songs)
  • Used the book Welcome to Israel: Talked about the size of Israel (similar to New Jersey), the history of Israel and the birth of Israel as a nation, the first Jews (Abraham and Sarah), the Star of David, and the Dead Sea (lowest point on Earth)
  • Mapped a more detailed map of Israel (Enchanted Learning) and also a map of Israel and its neighbors (love this one!)
  • Learned about Israel's currency (and made up a notebooking sheet for it)
  • Made a dinner of Baked Felafel Sandwiches with a side of hummus for dipping
  • Took a little quiz to see what we had learned about Israel {click on thumbnail below to download pdf}


Sites We Visited 

  • Israel Embassy for Kids - a virtual trip to Israel for kids that helps kids learn about Israel's currency, geography and much more - the girls loved this!
  • 100 Ideas for Teaching Israel - some great ideas on this page. We used several of these this week in our study of Israel
  • Time for Kids - mapping activity for kids focusing on Israel and its neighbors
  • Judaism - free Israel coloring pages for kids
  • Israel currency - notebooking page I made showing the paper currency of Israel
  • Yahoo Kids - quick facts about Israel
  • Go - Israel's ministry of tourism, includes maps and pictures. Also has some great videos that the kids loved!

Books We Used 

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Israel for Kids: Week 1

This week we started a 2-week study of Israel. Here's a little peek into what we've been talking about:

  • Locate and map Israel
  • Talked about the geography/terrain of Israel
  • Learn new geography song {Middle East} using Geography Songs
  • Read Children Just Like Me pages and completed the notebooking page
  • Learned about Israel's flag and colored it
  • Talked about prayer shawls (since the design of Israel's flagis based on a prayer shawl). The prayer shawl (or tallis/tallit) is a religious symbol, a garment - a sacred and important part of the Jewish life.
  • Learned about the currency of Israel {click on thumbnail below to download the pdf file}

Books We Used

Sites we visited

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Preschool Corner: Letter J

This week I'll be sharing about our preschool fun studying the letter "J" and at the end of the post you will find Mr. Linky so that you can participate too in the fun by sharing what you've been doing during your preschool time.

ABC Book: Jack in the Box

The alphabet book page for the letter "J" was a Jack in the Box. The shapes for the page were really simple - a circle, a small rectangle (box lid), a square, a triangle, and a rectangle for his "neck".

Art Activity: Jellyfish

This jellyfish looks so cool when it is hanging up in a window and the light shines through it!

  1. Cut a circle out of the contact paper (as large as you would like - remember you are folding it in half). I traced a bread plate for the outline.

  2. Spread glitter glue over half (or all!!) of the contact paper.

  3. Fold the circle in half and seal it shut.

  4. Use scotch tape and thin wrapping paper ribbon to make legs/arms for you jellyfish.

Fun Activities

Jack Be Nimble - Make a candlestick out of a toilet paper roll and have fun jumping over it!
Jump rope - Zachary isn't too great at this one, but we had fun trying!


We used jelly beans this week to do a few different activities. We guessed how many were in a jar and then actually counted them together. We sorted them by color and had fun sampling them and trying to guess what the flavor of the jelly beans were (Jelly Bellys ROCK!! - but poporn flavored jelly beans are still yucky to me).

Letter Sheet/Collage

J Worksheet


John 14:6 - "Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

We've been using the book My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt. It has a quick little devotional and a few questions at the end of the story along with review from previous weeks.


This week we used our Handwriting Without Tears worksheet to practice our letter "J" (the link will take you to the Scribd site where I uploaded the one I made).

Rhymes and Songs

Jack and Jill
Jack Sprat
Jack Be Nimble


Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Sheep in a Jeep by Nacy Shaw
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our "preschool time" with our kiddos. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Publish a post on your blog and link directly here. Then be sure to link to the blog carnival on this post so other bloggers can stop by to visit you.

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you've been doing in your house this week!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Missing Link

If your pre-teen/young teen loves action and adventure books, they are going to LOVE the Truth Seekers Mystery Series by Christina and Felice Gerwitz. I had the opportunity to read the first book in the series, The Missing Link: Found, and despite the fact that it is teen lit, I had to finish it to find out what happened. ;)

About the book:

The book contains MUCH action, adventure, and suspense. It is set in Florida and follows a brother and sister that find themselves in the middle of a mystery that could change scientific history. There is a possibility that THE missing link has been found during an archeological dig that their uncle was heading up. When he becomes sick, they join their father at the dig site where strange things beginning happening all around them. Throughout their time at the dig they have the opportunity to talk with their cousin about Creation and if evolution is a possibility.

The Missing Link: Found uses a “current” story line to teach the reader the differences between a Creation view and the evolution theory. There are explanations in the book on carbon 14 dating, fossilization, (and more) along with a handy glossary and reference section at the back of the book for more information.

About the author:

The idea for the series began when Christina (a homeschooled student) was 12 years old. She wanted to write a mystery novel and her mother jumped right in and helped her with her idea. Together they co-authored the three book series.

Felicia says:

“These books were geared for children who don’t enjoy reading. (and of course those who do enjoy reading will like them as well!).I pray this little story brings a smile to your homeschooled children and enjoyment that comes from reading fiction with a focus on glorifying God!”

My notes:

I am obviously not the target audience for this book *grins*, so some of the story line seemed a little unrealistic to me– but it’s fiction and for a reader in the intended audience it would be an exciting read. It was a HUGE encouragement to me hearing that the author Felicia was homeschooled, especially since I have a little one that loves to write – and it makes me want to encourage her even more in her writing! What a great accomplishment!

Where to purchase:

Media Angels currently has a pre-Christmas special to buy the entire series for $22.00. The Missing Link: Found is also available individually for $8.99.

There is also a literature study guide available for the book from Media Angels for $6.50.

A Little About Media Angels:

Media Angels is a publishing company that provides study guides on the topic of Creation science and corresponding activity packs, produces mystery novels for tweens and even has online seminars and DVD productions. The owners of Media Angels have homeschooled their children since 1986.

If you would like to read other's reviews of the book, you can head over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and visit there!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Preschool Corner: Letter I

Welcome to the first "official" Preschool Corner. I'll be sharing about our preschool fun this past week and at the end of the post you will find Mr. Linky so that you can participate too in the fun by sharing what you've been doing.

This past week during our Preschool Time we focused on the letter "I".

ABC Book: Igloo

The alphabet book page for the letter "I" was an igloo this week. I cut strips of white paper for Zachary to snip into 1" squares. When he was done cutting, he glued the pieces of paper onto a blue sheet of construction paper in the shape of an igloo.

Art Activity: Inchworm

We had so much fun making this little worm! (We had plenty of toilet paper rolls around the house thanks to Zachary pulling all the toilet paper off the roll, stuffing it in the toilet and plugging the toilet for us.)

  1. Cut two toilet paper tubes into rings (4 rings each for a total of 8 rings).

  2. Fold 7 of the rings flat and then cut them in half. One ring needs to be left whole to use as the inchworms head.

  3. Have your child color the inchworm pieces if they would like.

  4. Staple the inchworm together so the his back is like little arches.

  5. Use a paper punch to put two holes at the top of the worm's head. Insert 1/4 of a pipe cleaner into the holes to use as antennas. Add googly eyes.

  6. Admire your handiwork.
Fun Activities

I Spy
Insect Hunting (never a dull moment with this one!)

Letter Sheet/Collage

I Worksheet


In addition to our letter sheet this week we have been using a new curriculum called Peterson's Handwriting, so we are learing (and re-learning) some of the typical motions used in handwriting. We've been doing quite a bit of air drawing and practicing the same motions on the window or patio door.

We also had fun writing on the chalkboard using ice cubes. :) Nice and cold, but it did get it clean too!

Rhymes and Songs

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Ten Little Indians

If You're Happy and You Know It


Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trappani (also has a tape/cd to go along). Our kids LOVE this extended story!

If You Give....any of these books! by Laura Numeroff

On a side note:

Slowly (but surely) I am going back through my posts and "reorganizing" the ones related to preschool and the alphabet. As I update them, I will link to prior posts in my current posts. Hopefully this will make it a little easier to find preschool related posts and help you all out a little more.

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our "preschool time" with our kiddos. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Publish a post on your blog and link directly here. Then be sure to link to the blog carnival on this post so other bloggers can stop by to visit you.

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you've been doing in your house this week!

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Inchworm Art Activity

We had so much fun making this little worm! (We had plenty of toilet paper rolls around the house thanks to Zachary pulling all the toilet paper off the roll, stuffing it in the toilet and plugging the toilet for us.)

  1. Cut two toilet paper tubes into rings (4 rings each for a total of 8 rings).

  2. Fold 7 of the rings flat and then cut them in half. One ring needs to be left whole to use as the inchworms head.

  3. Have your child color the inchworm pieces if they would like.

  4. Staple the inchworm together so the his back is like little arches.

  5. Use a paper punch to put two holes at the top of the worm's head. Insert 1/4 of a pipe cleaner into the holes to use as antennas. Add googly eyes.

  6. Admire your handiwork.


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The Preschool Corner Guidelines

To help answer any questions about The Preschool Corner, I am posting a few guidelines here:

  1. What is The Preschool Corner? The Preschool Corner began when I decided to start posting "preschool only" things that I was doing with my preschooler to have a better record of the things that I was doing with him during the week and also have a "quick reference" for others to follow. Being able to click on the "Preschool Corner" folder and read/review what we've been doing during the year is extremely helpful to me (and hopefully to others too!). I turned it into a blog carnival so that others can partipate and we can get great ideas from each other!

  2. How do I participate? First, put together a post on your blog for The Preschool Corner. Tell everyone what you've been doing during the week and post pictures if you have them! Please be sure to include a link back to my site so that people are able to find other bloggers that are participating in the carnival - feel free to use The Preschool Corner graphic in your post if you would like). Then publish your post. Once you publish, copy your permalink and head to my site. You will find my Preschool Corner post and at bottom will be a Mr. Linky. Add your name to the list. Please use your permalink and NOT the main page of your blog as your URL.

  3. When will the links and entries be posted? I will be working on putting up my posts on Friday/Saturday, so be sure to check on those days for the most recent post.

  4. Can I use previously published posts? Absolutely YES. You can enter the URL for a prior post during that week or you can write a new post. Please only use one Mr. Linky one time with each URL.

  5. Can I link to a You Tube video of a great idea? If you have a great video with ideas to share, link away!

  6. Can I use the Preschool Corner graphic? Please do!! It will be at the top of each of my Preschool Corner posts and is also on my sidebar. Feel free to grab it!

  7. Can I link up to both Preschool Corner and another carnival. Yes! I know that some of you do weekly wrap-up posts with your other children too and it's fine if you want to link up to Preschool Corner and another site too. All I ask is that you please link back to Preschool Corner somewhere in your post.

  8. Please mention The Preschool Corner and link back here to the master list.

  9. Please feel free to email me with any questions or if you need more explanation of Mr. Linky.

Ready to join us? You can see the most recent Preschool Corner posts simply by clicking HERE. The top post will be the most recent one. Looking forward to having you join up with us and sharing ideas!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tiger Lapbook

We wrapped up our unit on India with a study on Tigers. We used the lapbook provided by Homeschool Share.

We learned all about:
  • a tiger's diet
  • habitat and home
  • tiger's teeth
  • how to classify a tiger
  • the different types of tigers
  • what areas tigers are native to
  • types of tigers
  • the anatomy of a tiger
  • how tigers find their prey
  • and more!! (you just need to check it out)

The girl's had fun using Draw Write Now again to draw their own tigers and also wrote a few facts in their journal so that we could add the page to our lapbooks. We have really loved using these books to add onto our art and drawing. The girls love to draw and these books have helped them so much!

During the week we found several different books about tigers, some fun stories and some fact books that we read and studied together - did you know that a tiger can pounce from a still position up to 30 feet? When we measured it out, we realized that it was almost the length of our entire house.

Then we had fun trying to see how far we could pounce...a measly 3 1/2 feet was the record for Zachary!

Here are the books we used this week along with our study.

Fun Literature

School Books

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Schoolhouse Store Blog - and $100 Giveaway!

The Old Schoolhouse Store launched a blog last week that is all about the Schoohouse Store. They will be giving away a $100 store gift certificate once they reach 1,000 subscribers - and they are halfway there.

The Store Spotlight blog is offering midweek markdowns (a new item 1/2 off every week), interviews with the companies whose products they carry, and random FREE products! Might want to check it out!!

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Voting is Open for Homeschool Blog Awards

Voting is now open for the Homeschool Blog Awards at The Homeschool Post - and this blog has also been nominated in the following categories:

- Best New Homeschooling Blog
- Best Super-Homeschooler

My other blog (No Ordinary Moments) has been nominated too!!

- Best Homeschool Mom
- Funniest Homeschooling Blog

If you'd like to vote, just click on the voting graphic above and head on over to the Homeschool Post. Voting is open until November 21. I have no idea what prizes go along with the categories...but I know there are prizes involved. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quest for Thunder Mountain Giveaway

Homeschool Blogger is giving away 15 copies of The Quest for Thunder Mountain, the first book in his new Tales from Terrestria series by Ed Dunlop. The Quest tells the story of a young minstrel whose life is shattered when his career comes to an abrupt end. The book was written to help young adult readers experience the wonder of finding and doing the will of the King. You can see the TOS review of the Terrestria Chronicles at: .

The contest ends on November 9th, so head on over to Homeschool Blogger and enter your name in for a copy of the book!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs: Playing Games

This weeks meme for the Homeschool Memoirs is "Let's Play a Game!" Our kids LOVE games (and so does their Mommy) so we try to incorporate games into our days whenever we can. Here are a few of the games that we play in our house:

Uno - Aside from the color matching and number identification, we've had fun this year trying to play in Spanish. The kids have to give the colors and numbers in Spanish, and they think they are ever-so-smart!

Chess - I will admit that I don't really have a CLUE how to play this game, but our girls have both learned to play in co-op and play during the week together during their quiet time.
20 Questions - Our kids love playing 20 Questions and we are going to be getting the little handheld version soon (I think it's hysterical!). With the handheld version, everyone agrees on an item and then the mini-computer asks you a series of 20 questions and will tell you what you are thinking of. It's a little scary at times how accurate it can be!

Hi Ho Cherry-O - This is more for Zachary, but he loves, loves, loves this game. Of course the miniature cherries are enough to throw me over the deep end at times. But I still play.

Wii - We have never had any video games in the house, but the Wii was a little different for us. We actually wanted it more for the Wii Fit. The kids have had so much fun with this and it is a great option when the weather outside is yucky. They aren't allowed on the Wii Board yet, but we will do the running course on the Fit, and for some reason they think this is (and as an added bonus, Mommy gets in a little workout too!).

ABC Bingo - This is a little game that I picked up from Scholastic books for Zachary's birthday - and to better help him recognize his lowercase letters.

Listen and Learn - A binder full of different listening games (via a cd). And the kids play different types of bingos with it. Best part? Everyone wins. Every single time. (aka: no fighting).

Monopoly Jr. - It involves money and counting. The kids think they are rich, rich, rich.

Hulabaloo - Even though Laurianna is almost 8, we can involve everyone in this game. Everyone loves to run around like crazy and try to find the right mats. Great for shape and color identification.

Memory - Sadly, my kids can beat me at this. And that fact drives me crazy. Yet I continue to get sucked in.

Those are a few of the "regulars" in our house. I know that there are more, but I'm not so sure that the coffee has fully kicked in yet!

What are some of the favorite games that you all play at your house? Leave a comment and pass along some good ideas!!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Tales of Glory Nativity Set

One of the products I recently received to review for The Homeschool Crew was the Tales of Glory nativity set by one2believe.

There are 17 pieces in the set - enough for everyone to play with (and in our house, that is an important factor). The figures are very sturdy (Zachary-tested and survived!) and a great size too - perfect for all the little hands in our house. The set also comes with a little story book and also a list of "Spiritual Stepping Stones" that help a parent mark their child's spiritual development.

And even though it isn't Christmas yet, many hours have already been spent playing with this set. Kaleb is especially fond of it and started saying "baby" and carrying baby Jesus around with him - so you know that it's a winner with me! This set will definitely be with us for years to come.

You can order the Tales of Glory nativity set directly from the one2believe website. Our Walmart was also carrying some of their toys recently and Target should also be carrying it this holiday season.

***Intended for ages 3 and up***

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