Homeschool Creations

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Full Month FREE!!

Tomorrow (April 1, 2009) Itty-Bitty Bookworm is going to run a “No April Fooling” promo. Anyone who visits their site and subscribes to their newsletter will receive the April curriculum absolutely FREE.

If you'd like to read a little more about Itty-Bitty Bookworm, you can read my review about their curriculum here and also enter to win a FULL YEAR of the Bo's Curriculum.



Monday, March 30, 2009

Apologia: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day

Several months ago we took a trip to the Museum of Natural History with our girls. During our time there I grew more and more irritated looking at what my tax dollars were paying to teach other children. Watching people gape at a little bronze rat, 'our earliest ancestor', made me sick to my stomach and I returned home with a renewed passion to instill a deep understanding of Creation and a love for its Creator in our children.

I asked a friend of mine about different science curriculums and she recommended the Young Explorer Series from Apologia to me. Before I even had a chance to do much research on the company, I received their book Flying Creatures on the Fifth Day to review - a complete and total blessing! We started working through the book a few weeks later and can say that this is a curriculum series we will continue to use in the years to come.

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day is the first book in the Apologia's Young Explorers series on zoology. It is a creation-based curriculum using a Charlotte Mason approach for learning. Students are encouraged to notebook along with their studies. The text is written directly to children, targeted toward children ages 6 to 13. In Flying Creatures...
"...children will begin exploring the dynamics of flight and animal classification, understanding why the design we see in these incredible creatures points us to our Creator God.

Then, get ready for the exciting adventure of learning about birds. Your children will learn how to attract various bird species to your yard and identify them by looking at their special physical characteristics, diverse nests, and interesting domestic practices.

They will also learn the anatomy and the glorious design that enables birds to do remarkable things. After becoming amateur ornithologists, your children will explore the world of chiropterology, which is the study of bats.

Flying Creatures provides 14 lessons packed full of information (you can view lesson one here). The lessons can seem overwhelming at first, but they recommend breaking each chapter/lesson up into segments. Once lesson one is completed you can continue with the remaining lessons in any order you choose. If the weather is warm in your area, you can study insects or whenever it is convenient for you.

Our girls were a little overwhelmed when they first saw the book, but we have been slowly working our way through the first chapter and they are picking up so much! We are notebooking and lapbooking along with our learning to record what we have been talking about. Their favorite part has been learning about how animals are classified and learning the meme to go along with the classification system: "Kings play chess on fine glass sets." The first letter in each word matches the first letter in the words of the classification groups: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. And you know the girls think they are too smart now that they know all of those!

Some things I love about the book:
  • Projects and experiments ~ Each lesson includes different hands-on experiments and projects to do with your children. The experiments generally use common household items. The book provides a list of the items needed for all the experiments for quick reference also. Each lesson generally provides several things to try.
  • Notebooking - Each lesson provides notebooking activities so that your child can keep a record of what they are learning in the lessons.
  • A full year on a focused subject - Rather than just touching on the subject of 'God made birds' the curriculum spends the entire year on one subject, allowing children to do more than just scratch the surface of the subject
If you would like more information on Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, there are several pdfs available for viewing online: the table of contents, an introduction to the book, a course overview, notebooking examples, lesson examples, zoology flashcards, and lab information.

Apologia also has other books available in the Young Explorers series focused on astronomy, botany, swimming creatures and land animals. There is also a great Yahoo group for Apologia that focuses on the elementary science books by Jeannie Fulbright where I have found some great resources ans answers to questions. If you have older children, be sure to check out the other science options that Apologia offers too.

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews
about this book and others available from Apologia.


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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Critical Thinking Winner

Congratulations to Denice - she is the winner of the Critical Thinking book! :)



Friday, March 27, 2009

Itty-Bitty Bookworm Giveaway!!

The Itty-Bitty Bookworm

I've been blessed to be able to host several giveaways for you all, but this one is for a full year of Itty-Bitty Bookworm's preschool curriculum (a $300 value!!). Please read through this review to see how to enter to win!

Before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling, I was a preschool teacher. I know how much time and effort goes into planning a week's worth, let alone a year's worth, of curriculum in both the classroom setting and at home. I wish that I would have had Itty-Bitty Bookworm YEARS ago because it would have saved me so much time and energy! I have been 100% impressed with all that has been poured into this preschool curriculum and what it offers for both teachers and children.

Itty-Bitty Bookworm is a literature-based curriculum for preschoolers ages 18 months to 5 years ~ and everything you need is provided for you! The plans would work well in any teaching setting, from homeschooling, in-home daycares, or large school settings. It was developed by several early childhood educators and is extremely well-organized. The literature used as the base for the curriculum includes great books such as The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, The Wheels on the Bus, The Best Mouse Cookie, Silly Sally, The Gingerbread Man, and Mouse Paint.

Bailey's curriculum (ages 18 to 36 months) focuses on two different books each month and Bo's curriculum (ages 3 to 5) focuses on four books each month. The activities and projects for the lessons revolve around the stories that are being read with the children.

Each month of curriculum includes:
  • 4 full weeks of lesson plans for a 5 day week
  • activity sheets/mini books
  • full-color clip art
  • learning center ideas
  • long term and short term objectives
  • morning meeting plans
  • poem pages
  • shared reading ideas
  • and so much more!
Just to give you an idea of how complete and thorough the plans are, the lesson plans for the month of February (Year 1, Bo's Curriculum) are 265 pages. The plans provide an abundance of craft ideas, games, rhymes, finger plays, printable books and activities. In addition, the curriculum provides supply lists, newsletters for parents, monthly objectives, milestones for children, daily report forms for children, and observation record sheets.

The lesson plans are laid out in a simple-to-follow format (you can see a pdf sample here) and you have the option of using as many or as few of the ideas as you want. The lessons are completely flexible. When we used them I was able to adapt different projects quickly to what we had on hand, but had the great framework that Itty-Bitty Bookworm provided.

Curriculum calendars for both levels:
If you'd like to see how we used the curriculum during our homeschool day, you can find pictures and more details in a few of my Preschool Corner posts: the letter S and the letter W.

Itty-Bitty also has Bible Story Units that can be used a supplement to your curriculum or as part of a Sunday School curriculum. The Bible units include a verse coloring sheet, mini poster and 3 days of lesson plans along with other activity ideas. Tara, the founder of Itty-Bitty Bookworm, also has a blog, Raising Itty-Bitty Bookworms along with free resources for parents.

If you are interested in ordering Itty-Bitty Curriculum, you can choose to download a month of lesson plans ($20 each month) at a time or order a CD-rom ($25) of plans. Itty-Bitty also offers a 10% discount if you purchase a subscription of 3 months. Yearly subscriptions receive a 15% discount. You will get your money's worth out of this curriculum and will not be disappointed!

The Itty-Bitty Giveaway!!

The Itty-Bitty Bookworm has kindly offered to give one of my readers Year 1 of Bo's curriculum on CD. If you would like to enter to win this great curriculum, leave a comment here letting me know what you like most about this curriculum. If you would like to earn an extra entry, create a post on your blog to let others know about the contest and then come back here and leave another comment letting me know about your post.

The giveaway is open until Thursday, April 2nd at 8pm and I will announce the winner on Friday the 3rd. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you, otherwise I will draw another winner.

This giveaway is now closed - thanks so much!


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The Preschool Corner: Letter S

I took the majority of our 'S' activities from Bo's Curriculum from Itty Bitty Bookworm this week. Be sure to check back a little later today, because I will be posting a review on Itty Bitty Bookworm and there will be a giveaway for a full year of Bo's Curriculum - $300 worth of curriculum! You don't want to miss that!!

We read the book Silly Sally by Audrey Wood every day this week. When we first sat down with the book, I let Zachary look at the pictures and had him 'read' the book to me and tell me what the story was about. He is able to read some of the words and was piecing it together, but it was so fun to hear how he interpreted the illustrations of the book! This is one idea that I pulled from Itty Bitty Bookworm that I am going to continue doing with our kids.

I've posted all the activities that we did along with the story, most from Itty Bitty Bookworm with one or two that were just too fun to pass up: our alphabet book page, letter sheet and a wooly sheep.

ABC Book: Spiderwebs

This (as pitiful as it looks) is actually a spider web. Don't ask me where the spider disappeared to - more than likely somewhere where it will scare me some morning into thinking it is real.

I cut out a circle from black construction paper and we put it into the bottom of a 9" round cake pan. Zachary dropped a few marbles into some silver paint and then rolled the marbles around to make the circle look like a spider web. Supposedly he glued a few spiders on it, although I can't seem to figure out where they are.

Alphabet Activities:

Fun Activities: Wooly Sheep

Since a sheep is one of the characters in the book Silly Sally and we have an over-abundance of toilet paper rolls, this little craft was ~ and too cute! I found the craft at Kids Craft Weekly some time back.

Ordering by Size: Big Shoes, Little Shoes

At the end of Silly Sally there are shoes everywhere up in the air. One of the curriculum suggestions was to pair and size the shoes up. With so many people living in our house, we have an abundance of shoes. Zachary paired up 12 pairs of shoes and lined them up from smallest to little.

Illustrating His Favorite Part

After we'd read Silly Sally several times I asked Zachary what his favorite part of the story was. After he'd told me it was the part when Ned comes into the story I asked him to draw it out for me - just.too.sweet.

Letter Sheet/Collage

S Worksheet

Stories and Books

Silly Sally by Audrey Wood

We put together our own "Silly Sally" booklet this week to go along with our story. Zachary had fun tearing pink paper and gluing it onto the the pig. Later we painted some 'mud' onto the page too. The sheep turned nice and wooly after gluing cotton balls and Zachary insisted on coloring the loon and the dog spotty and brown. The book turned out great and he has been happily carrying it around with him as a book HE made.


Itty Bitty provided several different writing opportunities for Zachary this week. He wrote color names to go along with Sally's bows in one of the mini-books and was so excited that he figured out the names on his own (copying them from the word list on the wall).

About the Preschool Corner:

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our "preschool time" with our kids. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Please link your exact blog post to the Mr. Linky below (if you have questions feel free to ask). Be sure to link back to this blog post so that your readers can find some other great ideas too!

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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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Visiting the Netherlands: Week 2

This week we started reading a new book, Boxes for Katje, and focused a bit more on a few artists, Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt. We also are learning more about Corrie ten Boom and reading a book called Keeper of the Angels Den about her life.

My mom is talking to the girls about her too, since she was a secretary for Corrie for a few years and Corrie ten Boom married my mom and my dad. The girls think it's great to look through scrapbooks and see pictures of Holland and everyone way back when.

Here's a peek at how our week looked:

  • Review geography song
  • Show where Netherlands is located on a map
  • Talk about capital of Netherlands (Amsterdam and also Hague as seat of goverment)
  • Type of government in Netherlands - visit royal website
  • Read Boxes for Katje and talked about time book was written
  • Review geography song
  • Talk more about how WW2 effected the Netherlands
  • Started reading Keeper of the Angels Den - a book about Corrie ten Boom. We love it!
  • Talked about Holland's geography features

  • Looked at art from both van Gogh and Rembrandt and compared their styles.
  • Picked one of the paintings by van Gogh to copy using watercolors (Sunflowers)
  • Talked about the process of creating Delft porcelain (we have some at our house from our trip to Holland)
  • Had some gouda cheese. We like it sliced thin on toasted bread (our Costco carries a great brand)
  • Continued reading in Keeper of the Angels Den


Resources we used:

Websites we visited/used:
We'll be moving onto Germany over the next few weeks and continuing with our reading of Keeper of the Angel's Den. I'm hoping to get some fun pictures posted soon too of my trip to Holland several years ago. I also have some pics of Corrie ten Boom to post too - especially the ones of when I met her....ok, I was one, but still! :)


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Peel & Stick Chalkboards

~ This is a post from my other blog a few weeks back ~

Right around Christmas I visited a friend who had a beautiful chalkboard that she made all by herself using some lovely chalkboard paints and excess molding and all that great stuff. And I was all ready to make one for myself.

Except that I didn't want to be a crazy-crafty and all.

Instead I found some LOVELY Peel & Stick Chalkboard Panels from Wallies. And they are WONDERFUL!! There are 4 in a pack and each piece is 9" x 12". You can put all four together in any direction/shape you want and make your own chalkboard. I bought two packs so that I had a total of 8 panels to work with.

The best part is they are removable, reusable and will stick practically anywhere. On the fronts of cabinets, walls, etc... They don't leave any residue on the walls and if you get tired of them, you can move them somewhere else without having to repaint or patch holes. I am loving them.

There is no residue left over on the squares from the chalk when you clean them. I've just been using a dry paper towel and wiping them clean with that - haven't even used water yet.

If you don't feel like drilling, painting or going through a lot of work, these might be handy for you to have in your house too - check the Wallies out!


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Big Giveaway Coming!!

Stay tuned...

Because on Friday March 27th I have a giveaway that's valued at $300!! You won't want to miss this, so be sure to come back and see!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Critical Thinking: Building Thinking Skills

~ This review also includes a giveaway at the end of the post! ~

I love puzzles and games that help 'sharpen' my mind. Because with four kids 7 and under there are some days when I feel that I have zero brain cells to offer and anything that keeps my brain in action makes me feel wonderful. *grins* Our kids also enjoy puzzles of any kind, so we were very excited to receive Critical Thinking to review!

Critical Thinking is a company that provides lessons teaching standards-based reading, writing, math, science and history. Their lessons help children analyze what they are learning by practicing critical thinking skills. Critical Thinking is "committed to developing children's critical thinking skills for better grades, higher test scores, and success in life." Their company provides books, software, puzzles, games, and dvds for children grades Pre-K to 12+.

We received Building Thinking Skills (Grades 2-3, $29.99) along with the included Answer Guide to review with our girls. Even though McKenna is the first grade, she wanted to do the activity sheets along with Laurianna - and she is doing great!

The activities in Building Thinking Skills are developmentally sequenced. Children learn to analyze relationships between objects, and between words in the areas of reading, math, writing, and science. {There is also a software version available for both PC and Mac - $36.99}. The girls worked on 1-2 pages of Building Thinking Skills each school day, and would remind me if I forgot to include the pages in their morning work. They loved them and have worked on:
  • describing shapes and other objects
  • comparing figures
  • identify differences in objects
  • following directions
  • describing position
  • writing directions
  • combining shapes and more
A HUGE plus for me: you are allowed to reproduce (print or duplicate) the copyrighted pages for use in your home, so I can make a copy for both of my girls - LOVE that!

Each year we use the IOWA test (ITBS) as a year-end evaluation for our children and this curriculum is a great prep for their test taking (I've already let my husband know that we'll be getting these in the years to come!). Critical Thinking guarantees better grades and higher test scores - or you can get your money back. That is a great guarantee!

The company offers a free printable samples, trial software, and also a newsletter filled with their current special offers and free activities. You can also request a free catalog or browse their website to quickly find the products you need.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As part of my review, I have a copy of Building Thinking Skills Level 3 Verbal ($29.99) for Grades 7-12+ to giveaway to one of my readers. If you would like to win a copy of this book, leave a comment on this post by Friday the 27th at 8pm and I'll randomly pick a winner and post the winner on Sunday. Please be sure to leave an email address if you don't have a blog - I need to be able to contact you if you win!

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews about this product.


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Homeschool Showcase #20

Be sure to check out Homeschool Showcase #20 over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers today!. Kris is showcasing some great ideas from a variety of homeschoolers (yours truly included).


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tot School ::18::

~ Kaleb is 27 months ~

This is my favorite picture of the week. Kaleb decided it was school time and I came around the corner to a bin of his 'school toys' all over the kitchen floor - but the colors were just too fun, so I had to go grab my camera.

He suprised me with some of the things he has apparently been learning while I was blissfully unaware - go figure. He was stacking pegs one at a time and counting on his own. I sat listening while he counted to TEN! The little stinker! Of course if I ask him to count for me any other time, he sits and thinks for a moment and then shakes his head and says no.

This day ended up being more Kaleb-directed. He had too much fun pulling toys out and playing to his hearts content. As always, he kept trying to put the pegs in the wrong holes (on purpose) and would just giggle and then put them in the right places.

To go along with our "I am the Good Shepherd" verse this week from Totally Tots, we made little cotton ball sheeps. I found the idea at Kids Craft weekly awhile back and have been holding onto it for some time. Just too cute!

We used our sugar shaker to put spaghetti noodles into. Kaleb really enjoyed for a bit until his older sister showed him that he could chew on the noodles.

Apparently I felt like living on the edge and decided Kaleb must be full, so we pulled out the glue stick and some green construction paper to make shamrocks. This craft lasted until Kaleb decided to try and eat the glue stick.

We have the Wii Outdoor Challenge mat and Kaleb likes to think that he can keep up with the big kids - and it's just too fun to watch him play along.

I found some plastic frog and lizards at Target this week and we used them to sort into piles by what they were. Kaleb also had fun lining the frogs up and letting me count them for him - and then he would mess them all up. :)

That's it for Tot School this week! Just to let you know, I have a great giveaway in store for my blog readers this coming Friday (the 27th) - worth $300!! Be sure to stop back by and see what's in store!

Don't forget to visit Carissa at 1+1+1=1 for some more Tot School posts.


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The Wooly Sheep...

This last week's I Am verse for Bible Bite was John 10:11 - "I am the Good Shepherd." To go along with the verse we made this cute little sheep craft that I found at Kids Craft Weekly a little while ago...{Read more at the Totally Tots blog}



Friday, March 20, 2009

The Preschool Corner: Letter W

This week I used lesson plans from Itty Bitty Bookworm's Bo Curriculum to review (and just as a head's up - I'll be hosting a giveaway for a FULL year of her curriculum next stay tuned!!). Next week I'll be posting about Silly Sally and the letter 'S', another lesson used from Itty Bitty Bookworm.

We borrowed the book I Went Walking by Sue Williams from the library and had a lot of fun doing the activities that Itty Bitty Bookworm lays out in the plans ~ let me tell you, it's all there for you! We still continued with our alphabet book and letter sheet activity on our own, but otherwise pulled our activities from the lesson plans.

ABC Book: A Window of Weather

'W' is for window and weather, so the two were put together to show weather out our window: windy, sunny, rainy and snowy.

Activities: Critters Book

The plans provide a booklet to print off that has each of the animals in the story along with a blank to fill in with a color. Zachary used a word bank to fill in the missing color word for the animal (according to the story animals - his choice) and then colored each page of the book to make his own special story. He was so excited to read it to us all!

Fun Activities: Charades & Follow the Leader

One of the games we played was charades. We had to act out one of the animals in the story: cat, cow, horse, duck, dog, or pig ~ Kaleb had fun along with us on this one. After we were done with the story animals we had fun trying to guess other animals that we acted out.

All of the animals in the story are following the child, so throughout the week we played "Follow the Leader" at different times: while at the store, walking through the house, etc...

Language: Words of Movement

We played a fun game of acting out different movement words. In the story we go walking, but then we pretended we slithered, jumped, ran, skipped, hopped, etc...and got a little energy out. It was fun to see what words Zachary could think of too.

Math: Sequencing & Money

Sequencing: The curriculum provided sequencing cards of all the animals. I printed them off and colored them all like they were colored in the story. Zachary then put them in the order that they appear in the story. We did this activity several times to test his recall on the story. We also used the sequencing cards to sort the animals from smallest to largest.

Buying a pet: Play money and animal cards were provided through the curriculum for me to print off. Zachary was given all the money and chose one of the pets to buy with his money. He had to tell me how much it cost and then pay me with the correct amount of money if he still wanted that pet.

Movement: Walking

Zachary and I took a walk together and pretended that we were the main characters in the book. I went walking and I saw.... we tried to find things that were all the different colors and then remember all the things we had named. Earlier in the week it was cold, so our walk only went around our house, but later in the week we took a walk outside. He loved it. :)

Letter Sheet/Collage

W Worksheet

Stories and Books

I used some different approaches this week with Zachary in reading. Before I read the book, we sat down and flipped through the pages (a suggestion from the lesson plans) and had him tell me what he thought would happen in the story just by looking at the pictures. We also talked about if the book was real or pretend (fiction/non-fiction) and and then read the story together.

Each day we read the story I had Zachary try to recall what happened before we opened the book. We also added a few similar books to our list (see below) and read those too. Other things that we did included acting the story out (we walked through the house and pretended to see what the book saw) and talking about what our favorite animal was in the story (and why).

Books we read:

I Went Walking
by Sue Williams
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Eric Carle
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do You Hear? by Eric Carle


We used our Peterson's Handwriting sheets to practice our W's - even though it's just two V's, Zachary was getting so frustrated (and he has the M down pat - go figure).

About the Preschool Corner:

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our "preschool time" with our kids. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Please link your exact blog post to the Mr. Linky below (if you have questions feel free to ask). Be sure to link back to this blog post so that your readers can find some other great ideas too!

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you've been doing in your house this week (and don't forget to check back next week for another Itty Bitty curriculum post and the giveaway!!)


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