Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Club: A Review of Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis




Disclaimer: I received this electronic copy of this book for free from the author in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis by Patty Scott is a wonderful resource for parents of not only teens but also younger children as they prepare for those teen years.


The book focuses upon several “C” words – cause, control, counterbalance, consequences, contribute, choices, connected, and community. Each chapter lays out advice for a parent who may or may not have a teen whose life is chaotic or in crisis. For example, even though we are not dealing with extreme problems with our teen, I can still see how the ideas and advice shared by Scott will help me be a better parent to my 15 year old stepson. Fortunately, the most difficult problems or concerns we have with our teen are his forgetfulness to do what he needs to do before he does the things he wants to do and a slump in his grades in school.

Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis says “You Won’t Control Them” so we need to try to influence our teens to make the best decisions. Part of parenting a teen, as suggested by Scott, is to allow natural consequences. Our teen has missed the honor roll at school and not liked how he felt so we are praying that he will learn from the past outcome and make better choices.

Two of the most important things I am taking away from my first reading of Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis (and I do plan on reading it more than once) is the importance of community as a parent and saying goodbye to mom guilt. In the very first chapter, "You Didn’t Cause It," Scott tells the readers “to let go of guilt and know your child has choices to make on their own.” So many moms hold onto this ‘mom guilt’ and we need to realize we can let it go. As Scott says, “guilt serves no one” (48). She also writes that we can seek community through God, moms of teens, parents of grown children, and others to help in journey.

 
Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos & Crisis closes with a prayer for you, the reader, and your teen. The book also provides information how to reach the author through her blog, email, and Facebook group (The Intentional Motherhood Community) as well as information on how to have Scott speak at your church.

I would recommend Scott’s book to parents of teen along with parents of younger children because the advice is great for a multitude of ages. I think those individuals who work with teens could also benefit from the advice presented by Scott.

For an excerpt of the book, please visit Hearts Homeward, Patty Scott's blog. 

You can read more from Patty Scott in her post: How to Release Guilt so You Can Focus on Raising Your Teenager


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Reviewing Drive Thru History Adventures - A Fantastic Homeschool History Curriculum


  Homeschool History Curriculum

We love history in our household. So, we were very excited to review Drive thru History Adventures, which offers curriculum for three courses – Ancient History, American History, and The Gospels. We focused upon Bible History Adventures, an 18-part series on the Gospels introducing children and families to the life of Jesus.

Each set of curriculum contains a half-hour program that transports viewers to locations around the world as they learn about the topic of that episode. The episode is accompanied by readings, sometimes another brief video, and a discussion worksheet with questions and answers to further the conversation.

Using the Adventures TV app on my phone, I was able to stream some episodes of The Gospels for us to watch together as a family in the living room. This was great because it meant that not only was my 15-year-old teen viewing the episode but so were my 2- and  and 4-year-olds. We were able to discuss the episodes together as a family. Additionally, closed-captioning is now available for The Gospels series after viewers requested it. This is great for hearing-impaired viewers. It also makes it easier to view with small children (who like to provide their own commentary!).

Homeschool History Curriculum


As a new member to Drive Thru History Adventures, Dave Stotts welcomes you in several emails and videos to help you on your journey.  There are eight videos to help you get started that introduce you to the curriculum, Dashboard, community, and the Adventures TV app.  Receiving each email a day or so apart was great for me because I didn’t feel overwhelmed that all the information was given to me at once.  It was all available for you to dive right in from the minute to become a member but if you need to take things one step at a time, these reminders were great to introduce you to the key features available as part of the membership.

We were all blown away by the very first episode of the Bible History Adventures. The introduction of The Gospels (The Historical Landscape) is very impressive.  Dave Stotts walking by famous individuals of history is a memorable image.

After watching each episode in the Bible History Adventures, students are presented with discussion questions along with images, paintings, maps, scripture readings, and additional readings and videos from scholars and others. In the Dig Deeper section accompanying the second episode – The Announcements, for example, there is a brief video about Roman coins which uses the American penny with Abraham Lincoln depicted on it to introduce the idea of learning from coins. Episode 6, Jesus Returns to Galilee, is accompanied by scripture readings from all four Gospels, and several articles and a video discussing the geography of the area in the Dig Deeper section. Articles are posted on a regular basis, adding new content to the Adventures you are studying.

Homeschool History Curriculum; Dig Deeper Articles

One of my family’s favorite parts of our membership is the community that is fostered through the private Facebook group for members, regular email updates from Dave Stotts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and other social media avenues. We love the weekly updates and the holiday-themed videos. We have watched the brief holiday videos – like that on Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day – at the start of dinner. These videos then give something for the whole family to discuss together – from the 2-year-old to my husband and me. The welcoming community atmosphere of Drive Thru History Adventures makes you feel like you personally know Stotts and his family as he provides updates through emails and the Facebook group.

I asked my 15-year-old stepson what helped bring home the message of The Gospels. He said, “I think (Dave) actually being where the Bible took place helped, like at Herod’s palace. Being there gave you a sense of how grand it was.”

Homeschool History Curriculum; Adventures TV


I also asked him what he thought of the host, Dave Stotts. He said, “Dave Stotts is quite the character. He is charismatic and awkward at times but in a good way.” I would agree with this sentiment. Stotts is down to earth while sharing his passion for history. In each episode, it is evident that Stotts is “passionate about history” as he said in a recent update video.

What we loved about Drive Thru History Adventures:

    Homeschool History Curriculum
  • Ease use of the Adventures TV app – for both my teenage son and myself: it remembers your viewing progress in each episode
  • Images used to illustrate the events in each of The Gospels episodes – they were one of the first things my teenage son mentioned after he started following the Bible History Curriculum
  • Videos that are uploaded to their YouTube channel are available within their Drive Thru History Adventures website so we don’t have to go to YouTube directly – and thus avoid the distractions of other non-related videos
  • Inclusion of discussion questions and an answer key for parents
  • Article and video supplements
  • Updating via new articles and resources
  • The community atmosphere
  • The presentation of the scripture readings side-by-side on the website made it very easy-to-read. As an example, reading about John the Baptist this way in each of the four Gospels was interesting. Your children can still use your preferred translation by simply changing it at the top of the embedded Biblia.com application.
  • In the concluding episode of The Gospels, “Who Is Jesus,” each prophecy that Jesus fulfilled is stated, along with the scriptural reference appearing on the screen. Accompanying archeological evidence is also provided.

Homeschool History Curriculum; Scripture Readings


My stepson summarizes the series for us:
“The host, Dave Stotts, takes you through the history of the Gospels using Bible verses as he explores such places as Nazareth and Galilee.”

Included with the subscription to Drive Thru HistoryAdventures are two other curriculums that we will be checking out when we complete the Bible History Curriculum – American History and Ancient History Curriculums.

Homeschool History CurriculumIn the American History Curriculum, your child will watch a series of 12 episodes and explore the history of America from Columbus to the Constitution. Through viewing the episodes and reading primary source documents like the Mayflower Compact and George Washington’s First Inaugural Address (which are available to both read online and to download and print), your child will learn about the Christian worldview, courage, and character. 

Through the 12 adventures in the Ancient History Curriculum, your child will learn about the empires of Greece, Rome, and Asia Minor, read excerpts from Herodotus’ Histories, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Bible, and other works. By the end of the 12-week adventure, your child will have learned about the role of the ancient empires in the rise of Christianity and Western Civilization.

Subscribers to Drive Thru History Adventures also have new programs to look forward to in the summer of 2018. That is when the new Acts to Revelations Series is planned for release. The series will have eighteen 30-minute episodes and curriculum materials to accompany it. Stotts also said they have many other ideas in pre-production. So, we have more to look forward to in the coming months and years!

Homeschool History Curriculum


My family wholeheartedly recommends a Drive Thru History Adventures subscription because you gain access to so many valuable resources including the videos, curriculum, and a growing community.




Homeschool History CurriculumThere are two great discounts available if you want to join Drive Thru History Adventures today (please note discounts are available as of February 27, 2018).

Join Drive Thru History Adventures with an AnnualSubscription and receive a free copy of The Gospels on DVD through the Drive Thru Adventures Website.

The second discount available is if you are a reader of The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, you will find a code for 20% off of an annual subscription in the magazine.



Monday, February 26, 2018

Reviewing The Starfall Home Membership by Starfall Education Foundation

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My family is always interested in finding educational ways to incorporate technology into our home, so we were exited to have the opportunity to review a one-year subscription to The Starfall Home Membership. An annual membership provides a single account for use in your immediate family (including grandparents) and allows you to gain access to the games and activities beyond those available for free.

My initial impression of the Starfall Education Foundation's website was that it looked very easy to navigate with colorful pictures creating links to different topics.  The site is set up into four separate columns and one row of holidays at bottom.  There are also links to indexes for selected 2nd grade math skills and first grade activities.

The first thing my children, aged two and four, wanted to do was look at the crayons. When we had to take a break for lunch, my children said, "when can we play again?” and “I want to do brown next.” My four year old son said, “This is awesome. We can learn about colors.” 

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After using the Starfall app on their tablet, my phone, and the laptop, I think one of my children’s favorite parts is Colors! In fact, they have looked at all twelve crayon options and they have been back to play them again and again. Each crayon offers up several different appropriate colored animals and a song for the children at the end. For example, orange has a tiger, a pumpkin, and orange crackers and then a song about the color orange. 

While both of my children enjoy exploring the different games, activities, and songs, they both gravitated towards playing the holiday games (in particular the snowman and the gingerbread boy) over and over in the early days of exploring The Starfall Home Membership. Later on, both of my children wanted to do the activities in the Geometry and Measurement center. Through playing the games in the Geometry and Measurement center, my daughter has learned mathematics terms like quadrilaterals, trapezoids, and cylinder.

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learning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschoolI think my favorite parts include geometry and measurement (specifically triangles and button sorting), the ABCs (which is similar to the colors but includes more interaction), and the calendar. 

There are short vowel games and books to introduce children to those concepts or reinforce them if they need some extra help. For example, in the short word vowel machine, children will learn about different words as they select either the star button or the purple lever to change the first or last letter of the word (or the entire word). My children have had fun playing with it and sounding out all the words like map, man, ran, and rat.



learning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschoollearning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschoolA bonus for me is the fact that my kids can work on Starfall on my laptop or a mobile device so we can take our learning with us.  As my children are young, we can split up our time on the site in small chunks of time easily by spending a few minutes singing along with nursery rhymes or dancing with the motion songs while waiting for dinner to be prepared.



In addition to the games, books, and songs on the website for children, there is a Starfall Parent-Teacher Center with worksheets that you can customize and projectables which include storybooks and art books. This was a great discovery for me because we have been looking at artists in our home.  There are also free printable downloads that include writing practice, holiday worksheets, consonant practice, grammar, punctuation, and other topics. 
  
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learning games, phonics, kids educational games, phonics games, learn to read, kindergarten, preschool, homeschool
I printed out several worksheets for my son and daughter to complete including several mathematics worksheets, a printing worksheet, and a “find the letter” coloring sheet. The worksheets are very clear and easy for both my child and me to understand. And with some of them being customizable, I can focus on the same skill by creating multiple worksheets in a few minutes rather than searching the Internet for different ones on different sites.

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So far, my children have only examined the activities on the main index but after a short review of the activities on the first grade index, I have to admit I am very impressed. There are Chinese Fables and Comics for older children to read (or have read to them by pressing the ear image). In addition to the reading (both literature and informational text) and phonics activities, there are also numerous mathematical activities for first graders such as money skills, algebraic thinking, measurement, and geometry. Along with the first grade index, there is also a second grade index of math skills which includes place value, more advanced addition and subtraction work, and multiplication.

The Starfall Store allows parents and teachers to purchase a variety of materials to help their children beyond the website, as well as reinforce those skills learned from it. For example, there are practice books for writing, mathematics, and writing journals. They also offer books, CDs, teaching tools like plushes and instructional cards, along with complete curriculum kits. If you are looking for a one-stop place for teaching your preschooler or kindergartner, this is a great resource. 

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I found the Starfall Education Foundation’s site very easy to navigate between the indexes and the activities within each index. This made it very easy to set up what I wanted my son to work on each day we sat the laptop. One of the other features I discovered was that I could select the font type (block or manuscript) and the measurement (US or metric). And in order to move away from the kids indexes, a parent needs to answer a question to navigate to the Starfall Parent-Teacher Center or the Starfall Store.

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My children and I look forward to continuing to use TheStarfall Home Membership to expand upon my son’s growing reading skills and my daughter’s growing love of mathematics. The Starfall Home Membership is one that my young children can continue to use for years to come.  




Sunday, February 25, 2018

Journaling through the Bible: A Name


"I am the Lord"


“And God spoke to Moses and said to him: ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, 
to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, 
but by My name Lord I was not known to them.’” Exodus 6:2-3 NKJV
  
Names are so important. Over the centuries, some have even believed that names held power. When we are thinking about naming a pet, our character in a video game, and most especially our child, we spend hours, days, even months thinking about it. Lists are made. Names are struck out. Will we name our child after a loved one? Will we name our child after someone we look up to and respect?


God also said to Moses, 
“I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, 
to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, 
but by my name the Lord I did not make 
myself fully known to them. 

Exodus 6:2-3 New International Version (NIV)


I know when we were discussing our two younger children’s names I had a short list of those names that were important to me. For my son, it was relatives whom I admired and loved greatly. For my daughter, it was names I had always liked.

How do you pick your child's name?

Many keep their names secret online because they want to keep a level of anonymity. Personally, I do not share the first names of my children in my blog. So maybe names do have power?

With God willing to entrust us with His name, I know we are indeed His children.

This week I linked up with the following blog(s):







Saturday, February 24, 2018

Animals: Raccoons - The Masked Nocturnal Mammal



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Raccoons are such interesting animals. Due to their adaptability, one may find them living in a variety of habitats such as marshes, prairies, forests, and even cities. And because they are omnivores, they can find food almost anywhere which helps them live in a variety of locations.

Raccoon Plastic Lid Craft

So I have been saving plastic lids because I just knew that I would find a use for them.  For a while we have been using them as our paint trays but then inspiration hit me.  Raccoons!

Warning: This craft using permanent marker (because they show up the best on the plastic lids).

Raccoon CraftsMy son practiced his raccoon face prior to using the permanent markers on paper with our Magic Stix markers.










Materials 

  • Recycled, clean plastic lids
  • Permanent markers 

Raccoon CraftsSteps 

1. Gather all of your materials.

2. Draw on the faces of the Raccoons.


The black mask of the raccoon may help prevent glare for this nocturnal animal, who is awake during the nighttime. 

3. Display in your home.  I think we will hang our Raccoon Faces outside when the weather permits.


Books




Raccoon BooksThe Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn with illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak is a lovely book that has become a children’s classic. Through the story of Chester, his worries about school, and his mom’s family secret, children are provided with reassurance and confidence that they are loved – even when separated from their loved ones.

While the book is anthropomorphic in showing young Chester playing in a sand box and swinging on a swing with his skunk friend, this does not take away from the realistic illustrations of the raccoons, frog, birds, and other animals. The animal-themed children’s books that are my favorites tend to be those with realistic illustrations of the animals – even if the story puts them into situations that are not animal-like.

I would recommend this book for anyone who needs reassurance that, no matter how far apart you are from your loved ones, they still love you.

Raccoon Books


Another book in which we enjoyed reading about raccoons was Raccoon at Clear Creek Road (Smithsonian Backyard) by Carolyn Otto.

In this book, children hear the story of a young mother raccoon who has grown hungry and goes in search of food while her babies, or kits, are left in the safety of the tree trunk nest. The mother raccoon goes looking in a nearby home's backyard and trashcans and in the creek.  

Raccoons are known as excellent swimmers.  This is seen in the book as the mother raccoon is fishing for some minnows and gets swept into the strong current of the creek. 

Raccoon booksPersonally, I really liked the way this book focused upon one aspect of a raccoon's life - looking for food - and told the story without making the animals human-like. We will definitely be looking for others in this Smithsonian Series. 




So what do raccoons like to eat?

Since they are omnivores they eat both meat and plant materials including: fruits, seeds, nuts, birds' eggs, vegetables (sometimes stolen from a human's garden), fish, frogs, crayfish, and in urban environments they will look for scraps in garbage cans. 

Looking for a cute Raccoon-themed card game for preschoolers?  Check out my review - Dice, Decks, and Boards: Raccoon Rumpus.


Resources

National Geographic's Raccoon 
PBS' Nature: Raccoon Nation: Raccoon Fact Sheet

 

Looking for some more great books? Take a look at my review of three books by Carole P. Roman: 

I linked up with the following blog(s): 

A Mom's Quest to Teach



Friday, February 23, 2018

Animals: Bats - the Myths and the Crafts



Bats are spectacular creatures. They are the only mammal that truly flies. And there are so many myths to explore about their habits and features that kids love learning about them. My children and I talked about bats as we explored several books about them including Bats (The World of Mammals) by Sophie Lockwood and Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. We also discussed myths and made two bat-themed crafts.






Coffee Filter Bat Craft

Materials 
Steps

1. Gather all of your materials.

Water Dropper

2. Using the black or brown marker, color on the coffee filter.


3. Lay the coffee filters on a tray and spray them with water or use an eye dropper to drip water onto the filters.


4. After your coffee filters have dried, open your clothespin and fold the coffee filter into the open clip part.

5. Draw faces for your bats.
6. Glue the faces onto your bats.
7. Attach a magnet to the back of the bats so you can hang them onto your refrigerator.


There are so many misconceptions about bats. Many believe they are blind, suck blood, and are just pests but this couldn't be further from the truth.


Myth One - "Blind as a Bat"

Bats have eyes and can actually see rather well but they do use echolocation to help them navigate the night skies. Whales, dolphins, and even submarines use echolocation to help them navigate. Not all bats have or use echolocation but insectivores do to help them find their food. Fruit bats even see in color to aid them in the finding of their favorite fruits.



Myth Two - All bats suck blood.

Of the over one thousand species of bats, only three types drink blood as their preferred meal choice. These bats live in Central and South America and prefer cattle or bird blood to humans.

Do you love bugs or insects? No? Well, then bats are one of your best friends. One little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes an hour. The insects provide protein and fats for the flying creatures and humans can say goodbye to pests.


Myth Three - Bats get stuck in your hair.

Remember echolocation? Bats will not get tangled up in your hair because they can use their echolocation skills to navigate around you.


Myth Four - Bats have rabies.

While a small percentage of the bats captured for testing to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States may have rabies, they aren't any more likely to contract rabies than other wild animals. However, it is important to not handle any wild animal.  If you think an animal is ill, call animal control or the police to help you find the right people who can help you.


Myth Five - Bats are flying mice.

Nope. Bats aren't even related to rodents. They are classified by scientists into their own group: Chiroptera (hand-wing).

Toilet Paper Roll Bat Craft 

Materials 
Steps 

1. Gather all of your materials.



2. Paint the toilet paper rolls.

3. Have your children create hand prints on the construction paper. I recommend painting their hands with the paintbrush to get a nice, even print.

Hand prints


4. After the hand prints are dry, cut them out.
5. Draw a face for the bat.


6. Attach the face and hand prints (wings) to the bats with glue and tape.


How do bats help? Why are they important?
  • Insectivores control the insect population 
  • Bats that eat fruit help with pollination - they spread seeds of the fruit that they eat 
  • Reforestation by fruit bats 




Resources 

National Geographic Kids' Bat Myths Busted 
National Geographic Kids' Amazing Bats of Bracken Cave 



I linked up with the following blog(s):