Friday, May 25, 2018

Crafts: Paper Bag Goat Puppet

Two Paper Bag Goat Puppets

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Our children love creating puppets, so we made our own paper bag goat puppets recently.



1. Gather all your materials. 

Materials of markers, construction paper, glue stick for craft

2. We glued all the pieces onto the face first and then glued it onto the bag. You could glue the face onto the bag and then complete the steps. Cut a goatee for your goat. Glue it onto the bottom of the face. 
Cutting paper during children's craft

Children's Craft

3.  Glue on the eyes for your goat. 

Putting together Paper Bag Goat Puppet Putting together Paper Bag Goat Puppet

4. Glue on the ears. (I also added a piece of tape to help secure them during puppet play.) 

Putting together Paper Bag Goat Puppet

5. Glue the goat's face onto the paper bag. 

Putting together Paper Bag Goat Puppet

6. After the glue dries, the puppet is all ready for your puppet show! 

Putting together Paper Bag Goat Puppet

Thursday, May 24, 2018

C is for Charleston (Blogging through the Alphabet)

American Flag and South Carolina Flag

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As you may know, I am focusing upon the subject of history for the "Blogging through the Alphabet" series this time. I have been blessed with being able to visit the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina twice now. I visited once with my mom and then again with my husband for our honeymoon. I would like to share a few of my favorite places as well as some history about Fort Sumter. I hope you enjoy the journey!

Boone Hall, Circular Church, Charleston Tea Plantation

alligator at Magnolia Plantation and GardensThere are so many interesting things to see and do in Charleston – from Colonial History to World War II. It is mostly remembered for its part in the American Civil War due to Fort Sumter and the many plantations that one can still visit today in the surrounding area. When we visited Charleston, we toured Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens, Drayton Hall, and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Boone Hall is known for the movies and TV series that have been filmed on location including North and South. Drayton Hall is a wonderful example of the preservation of history instead of restoration. And at Magnolia Gardens we were able to learn more about a rice plantation and see lots of wildlife in the swamps - even an alligator!

There are a great number of churches in Charleston. Being home to so many has resulted in it receiving the nickname, "The Holy City." This includes the Circular Congregational Church – which is one of the oldest continuously worshiping congregations in the South.

We also got to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation which produces American Classic Tea – the only brand of tea made of 100% exclusively American-grown tea.

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

At Charles Towne Landing State Historic site, you can visit where a group of English settlers landed in 1670 and started the Carolina Colony just off the Ashley River.  Being able to visit sites where the American colonies were founded is an excellent way to study history.

Fort Sumter Cannons and Parade Ground

Fort Sumter

History remembers Fort Sumter as the first battle of the American Civil War. In fact, the first shot is recorded as having been ordered by Captain George S. James of the Confederacy on April 12, 1861 at 4:30 am. This started the bombardment of Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor.

Fort Sumter was part of America's coastal defenses that was authorized after the War of 1812. The Fort was built of bricks on a granite foundation enclosing a pentagonal parade ground. There would be a 3-story barracks that could house up to 650 men and there was room for 135 pieces of artillery.

In December of 1860, Major Robert Anderson moved his troops from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. When Major Anderson and his men (about 85) arrived at Fort Sumter, it was not in the best condition. There were only 15 cannons mounted, it contained an unfinished barracks, and the parade ground still had building materials all over it. Major Anderson set his men to work mounting guns, bricking up holes, and completing other tasks to make it a working fort.

Both the North and the South continued to make preparations for war as time marched forward. New batteries were built along Sullivan's Island, James Island, and near Mount Pleasant. On March 1, 1861, General Pierre G. T. Beauregard took control of the military operations at Charleston. Beauregard had sent a message requested Anderson to leave but Anderson stayed put at Fort Sumter.

On April 4, 1861, President Lincoln decided to resupply Fort Sumter. This led to the supply from the city to the Fort being cut off and eventually Beauregard sent 3 men to offer an ultimatum to Anderson – evacuate or face the consequences of staying. Anderson refused to give up the Fort.

On April 12, 1861 at 4:30 a.m., a bombardment of 2-and-a-half hours began. Even though the men were relatively safe in the Fort, there wasn't really the chance that they would be able to do more than remain there during the siege. The cannons on the island were not successful at destroying any targets. On April 13, 1861 at 1:30 pm the Stars and Stripes was shot down and this led Louis T. Wigfall, former Senator from Texas, to travel to the Fort to ask about surrender. Anderson decided it was time to surrender and on April 14, 1861 the US flag at Fort Sumter was lowered to a 50-gun salute. Anderson and his men boarded a steamer to the North as heroes.

H. L. Hunley 

The first submarine was used by the Confederacy during the Civil War. Rumor was that it actually killed more Confederates than Union soldiers during its testing and use. On February 17, 1864, the Hunley slammed into the USS Housatonic. It exploded its torpedo, the Union ship broke apart and sank, and so did the Hunley. In 1995, it was found off the coast of Charleston.

H. L. Hunley submarine replica

I think one of my few regrets from my trip to Charleston was not being able to visit the Hunley. They only offer tours on weekends and we were already leaving when I found out we could tour the Warren Lasch Conservation Center to see it in a 75,000-gallon steel tank.

I hope you join me in the following weeks as I write about other favorite people and places of history like Henry VIII, mummies, and the Tower of London!

Resources and References 

Hunley Submarine Site 

Fort Sumter National Monument 

I linked up with the following blog(s):

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Book Club: Reviewing The Road Home by Beverly Lewis

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

This was the first time I have read any books by Beverly Lewis and I was pleasantly surprised. In The Road Home, we follow the journey of Lena Rose Schwartz after the death of her parents, as she travels from the Amish community of Centreville, Michigan to the Leacock Community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The book details Lena Rose's yearning for her nine siblings who remained in Centreville, her experiences helping her cousins Harley and Mimi Stoltzfus, providing companionship to Solomon, Lydia, James, and Rebekah, and her growing friendship with Arden.

From the beginning of the book we are introduced to a host of characters and in general I feel it was rather easy to feel connected to them. The only characters with whom I had some difficulty developing a connection were some of Lena Rose's siblings. This may or may not have been intentional as I feel that Lewis spent more time introducing and describing the siblings that Lena Rose seemed more involved with back in Centreville – Chris and Emma.
photo by M.Y.
I would have appreciated a bit more detail explaining the differences that Lena Rose notes between her former life – different clothing, different carriages than the horse and buggy, etc. – to that of the life in Lancaster County. Perhaps I am at a disadvantage not having read other books by Lewis. In fact, I have not read a lot of fiction or non-fiction relating to the Amish community even though we do not live far from Lancaster County.

I enjoyed reading about Lena celebrating the different holidays with Harley and Mimi and the rest of the family and friends in Lancaster County. While my heart was sad for her character missing home, I was glad to see she was accepting God's current path or plan for her. She was finding a way to make positive impacts in her temporary home by helping Rebekah, cleaning James' home, and also participating in the various youth activities like singing, hay rides, and ice skating. In fact, one of my favorite descriptions is about the hay ride during the winter.

I would recommend The Road Home by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House to individuals looking for Christian fiction that includes a bit of clean romance and is inspirational. After reading The Road Home, I will be looking for other books of Lewis' to read as well.

I am a member of the Bethany House Blogger Review Program.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Reviewing Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum

Home School Navigator Logo

Our son is having a fantastic time reading new books, writing his own stories, and learning about setting, characters, inference, and more as we review Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. There are six levels which range from the equivalent of kindergarten to fifth grade that offer nine months' work of lessons and activities to build better readers and writers. There are 60 instructional videos that help teach key concepts as well as review games, a word study program, the ability to create an online portfolio, and more!

Children's books, Home School Navigator Lesson Plan
Teaching Guide, current Read Aloud book, and necessary worksheets. 

How We Use Home School Navigator

The program is designed with lessons for five days a week. We are working through Level Red (meant for kindergarten level) and there are nine months available. For most of the review period, we completed the lessons spread out over three to five days depending on our schedule. We were able to do this because there are some days that are meant as review or catch-up days. (This is fantastic planning, in my opinion.)

Each day's lesson took anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending on what we were doing, how much our son focused on the task at hand, and whether or not his younger sister wanted to join in to help. (In the case of his three-year-old sister joining in, things often took longer because we did things twice or the game or activity was explained multiple times.)

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Game from Home School Navigagtor
We played the game that went along with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie several times as both our son and daughter really enjoyed it. We grabbed our own dice and markers so we could play the game.

Each day is broken up into a series of activities on the Teaching Guide:

  1. Read Aloud
  2. Literature/Comprehension 
  3. Writing/Grammar
  4. Word Study/Vocabulary 
  5. How Books and Print Work
  6. Independent Reading 
  7. Understanding Reading Skills and Strategies
  8. Compiling notes, assignments for the portfolio, prep/planning for next week, or extension activities 

As suggested by Home School Navigator, one can do all the activities or a few of them. It all depends on you, your child(ren), and your needs. There is also a list of materials needed that accompanies the Teaching Guide.

During the first month of Level Red, we read several circular stories and repeating stories. While reading books like If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and The Napping House, our son learned vocabulary and finding the setting of a story.

Finding the Setting of a Story
Directions for Finding the Setting of a Story. 

In addition to reading stories, our son also worked on learning about sounds. There were several Sound Match activities that we completed during our first month including a rhyming activity. One of the activities that our daughter could join in was matching rhyming words such as pail and whale or flag and bag. These cards are great because – in addition to the word – there is a picture, too.

Matching Rhyming Cards
Rhyming cards from Month 2.

Our son has also had the opportunity to write several times each week in a Writer's Notebook and write his own circular story (about a cow and a map). He has also been practicing writing by tracing letters and names. There is a series of suggested activities from using sand to shaving cream to helping children practice writing.

Circular Story
Illustrating If You Give a Cat a Cupcake 

What We Like

Even though I need to print out the materials, worksheets, and papers for the course, I do not need to print out everything. It is all laid out very clearly what activities we can choose for each day. So, I can decide what to print based on what available activities will be used as part of each day's lesson.
  • You can print out every lesson and worksheet that accompanies the lesson OR just use the lessons as they are presented online 
  • If you can't find a copy of the book in your library, they are uploading Read Alouds for the books online – we have been fortunate that our library has had ten of the fifteen books required for the first two months. 
  • Flexibility of the program – If you want to read more about why I think the program is so flexible, check out the FAQ Page from Home School Navigator. 
  • Repetition of ideas but not necessarily of stories (For example, the first week or two focused upon circular stories in Level Red. We read several books that were similar to If You Gave  Mouse a Cookie but they were different stories – not the same one read over and over.) 
  • In printing out the necessary materials for Home School Navigator, I was actually able to plan out the upcoming month in my head 
  • Even though some of the worksheets and printables have color, nothing was lost by the fact that we only have a black-and-white printer 
  • Being able to watch the Read Alouds on the tablet, laptop, or TV 
Ready Read Aloud Video Healthy and Junk Food Vocabulary

Problems We Had

  • A few of the videos were difficult to hear at first, but they are updating the sound quality 
  • In the beginning, I found the amount of clicking necessary to navigate the site overwhelming but this has been changed!  There are still a number of pages to navigate through but to me it seems intuitive to how the program is designed. For example, you click on your level, month, week, and then individual aspects of the lesson. 
Grouchy Lady Bug Story Activities

I was a tad apprehensive that the first two months contained many stories that I had avoided reading to our children. I have to admit I was not a huge fan of either Laura Numeroff or Eric Carle. Their stories – and the illustrations in their books – weren't something I enjoyed BUT...I am pleased to say that I now see how important their particular story-telling style is to helping children learn.

Home School Navigator offers an online storage system for a portfolio but I opted to just check off when we completed each lesson. Please see other reviews to learn more about it.

Progress Page on Home School Navigator
Since we didn't use the portfolio, we have a list of assignments and the date completed
(or when I remembered to check them off).

Home School Navigator also offers Interactive Notebooks which provide children with the opportunity to do more than just answer questions about the book. They will cut out shapes and glue flaps from the studies to build their own unique notebooks with the goal to "inspire deeper, and more meaningful discussions" about the book being read.

For more about Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum please visit:

To read more about Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum, including about their interactive notebooks please visit the Homeschool Review Crew

Monday, May 21, 2018

Reviewing T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association

Reading Christian ABC book

Our children were very excited when T is for Tree: A Bible ABC by Connie L. Meyer from Reformed Free Publishing Association arrived in the mail. They love reading books and we love reading books grounded in faith to them. With our very first glance, we could tell this was a beautiful and unique ABC storybook.

From the back of T is for Tree: A Bible ABC:
"This alphabet book is a collection of Bible passages, short rhymes, and detailed illustrations designed to teach young children of their heavenly Father's almighty power and his faithfulness to fulfill the promises he makes to them as children of his covenant. Use this book to instruct your children in the truths of salvation for all of God's people and especially his littlest lambs."

Christian ABC Story book

Each letter of the alphabet features a short rhyme and a quote from the Bible along with a main illustration and a border that enhances the illustration. Personally, I really like the border illustrations as they can lead to so many wonderful conversations with children. For example, on the "B is for Bow" page, you and your child can point out all the different types of animals that might have traveled on Noah's Ark. From a badger to a newt, there is quite a variety of animals depicted.

B is for Bow

Another page that contains a border illustration that I really like is that of "Q is for Quails." The repeating scrollwork reminds me of the wind mentioned in both the rhyme and the Bible quote from Numbers 11:31.

You might think this is obvious – we read it to our children – but in fact I used it to help create some crafts for our children. So in addition to reading it before nap-time and bedtime, we made several crafts based upon the images and ideas presented by the author, Connie L. Meyer.

K is for King 

This page shares a quote from Proverbs 21:1. Our children created their own letter K's with a crown fit for a king.

K is for King craft based upon Bible ABC BookK is for King from ABC Story Bible

C is for Clouds 

This page provides an excellent opportunity to talk about God's mercy with a quote from Psalms. I copied out the rhyme from the book onto separate clouds and required our children to use their memory to put them in the correct order. After their pictures dried, I hung them up in our kitchen. I have overheard our son reading the clouds many times and this makes me very happy. He is learning about God every time he reads the rhyme! 

C is for Clouds Craft from T is for Tree ABC Story Bible

A is for Ants 

A is for Ants ABC BookA is for Ants craft based upon T is for Tree Christian ABC book

The very first page of the book provides families with the opportunity to discuss how God has given us the ability to be great even if we are small (like ants). I drew three oval-like shapes for the head, abdomen, and thorax of the ant. Then, I wrote the three lines of the rhyme on those pieces. Our children then glued the pieces in the proper order.

P is for Paths 

What a wonderful reminder for our children – to "pray for God to lead us." So important to walk on His path. For this page, I wrote down the rhyme on one set of stepping stones and the Bible quote on a second set. Our son and daughter had to follow along with the book and put them in the correct order.

P is for Paths craft based upon T is for Tree Christian ABC Book

What We Love 

One of my favorite parts of T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is the inclusion of the direct quotes from the Bible. It provides a perfect opportunity to introduce scripture and memorization of scripture to smaller children.

The quality of the book is wonderful. Unfortunately, our mail sometimes takes a beating en route and T is for Tree: A Bible ABC arrived in a package a bit beat up but the book was fine in its wrappings. The book has a very sturdy feel to it and the pages are quite thick (which should prevent any tears from our eager three-year-old). And when I first opened the book, it had that new book smell! All these details make me very happy to have T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association sitting on our bookshelf.

Reading Christian ABC Book

Our four-year-old son said his favorite page is "N is for Nest" while our daughter is in love with "S is for Stars." When we were reading the book last night, our daughter kept asking if we could do more crafts with each letter of the alphabet. For me that is a huge win in my book. It means she really likes T is for Tree: A Bible ABC.

We also found out the hard way that a little bit of water will not harm the book. I am not recommending spilling your drink on it but it survived sitting on a damp spot on our dining room table for about 15 minutes.

I find the only problem I have with T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is that due to its length it is difficult to read the entire book in one sitting. Our family read a few pages each time we picked up the book. One could read just the part that lists "P is for Paths" or "Q is for Quails" or even add the rhyme into a full reading of the book in one sitting. Our son though wasn't letting me skip any part of the book. He wanted to hear the rhyme and the Bible quote on each page which made it a lengthy read.

Reading Christian ABC Book

I would recommend T is for Tree: A Bible ABC by Connie L. Meyer to Christian families with children as young as two. While younger children would need parents to read the book to them, older children would be able to read it themselves. I think older children would also enjoy the illustrations. Personally, I know I have also found inspiration for Bible Journaling from some of the illustrations and quotation choices. 

For more information about Reformed Free Publishing Association please visit the following sites:

To read more from other members of the Homeschool Review Crew, please visit: