Cutest Blog and Widdlytink

My Stick Family from

Jul 21, 2017

X is for X'ed Out

This post makes me so heartbroken to write.  Today, I discovered a photograph that just a couple of days ago had been on the bookshelf by my bed.  It's now a wrinkled mangled mess.  Some very angry/sad/frustrated child was obviously not happy with me.

Micah and I disagree on who is likely the culprit.  I'm sure it will all become clear in the morning.  sigh...

A Net In Time Schooling

Jul 19, 2017

Doctor Aviation ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

When Doctor Aviation showed up on my radar (couldn't help it), I was really excited because we were able to view the first video in the online six month aviation video training course in its entirety.  It looked like so much fun!  The boys declared it to be "AMAZING."  Even though the full course is intended for ages 16+, I requested to review the program with my punks.

When we watched the first video lesson, I did not get the feeling it was just for high school.  Then I discovered there are some pretty heavy lesson plans included that contain guided notes, To Learn More document, and exams.  I really thought the video was appropriate for upper elementary and middle school.  They definitely enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.  By adding in the various other elements, this course is credit worthy for high school.  Some lessons could easily take two weeks.

Each of the 15 lessons is made up of the available documents (listed above) and a video of approximately an hour long (some longer, some shorter).  They aren't flashy and "exciting," but are filmed more as a lecture, like you would receive in any course intended for high school or college aged students.  There are some slides or video clips, but for the most part, Doctor Aviation stands near a plane (different throughout the videos) and lectures.  That was fine for me, but thankfully for the punks, the videos are divided into three sections;
  • Technical Trivia, 
  • Notable Innovators, and 
  • Legendary Aircraft/events.  
This made it easier to break up the viewing and spread it out a bit.  It wasn't my original intention, but it helped to better keep the punks' attention.  I do wish there was a more notable break in the videos, though so I could easily go back to the segment we left off from.  When we finished a lesson, we could mark it complete and the program would open at the appropriate lesson the next time.  I actually rarely did that because we broke up the videos by segments and it was easy to get where I wanted to be right from the dashboard.

My personal favorite segment was Notable Innovators.  I loved learning about The Wright Brothers, Chuck Yeager, and Amelia Earhart.  Some of the people we'll learn about in future lessons are Neil Armstrong, Nate Saint (we actually studied him earlier this year), and Charles Lindbergh.

It was really fun to be learning specifically about Amelia Earhart just when the information about her possible fate, determined via a "lost photo" came out on the news.  You can read Doctor Aviation's blog and see what he thought about it.  He has a lot of interesting posts on there about many aviation related topics.

This is the course overview.
Session 1 Course Overview: The Aviation System
I. The Aircraft
Session 2 The Major Components of an Airplane
Session 3 Axes and Forces
Session 4 Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift
Session 5 Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches and Slides: The Flight Controls
II. Air Traffic Control
Session 6 How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar
Session 7 The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works
III. Maintenance
Session 8 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Propeller Engines
Session 9 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Jet Engines
IV. Airfield Operations
Session 10 The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport
Session 11 The Small Airport and Running an FBO
V. The Aircraft II
Session 12 Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC
Session 13 Important Pilot Instruments – Attitude Indicator
Session 14 Important Pilot Instruments – Airspeed Indicator
Session 15 Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships

Doctor Aviation

Guided notes follow the video pretty closely and are pretty easy to fill in as you go.  I rarely needed to pause a video for that purpose, so things kept flowing nicely.  I printed the notes and To Learn More documents and put them all in a handy folder.

The "To Learn More" document lists book, website, and video suggestions to enhance the learning from the video lesson.  It also includes hands-on activities, films, and research and writing assignments.  I actually borrowed *grown up* books from our library for this course.  Crazy, I know!  The best part was finding books for the punks that were suitable for their age and ability.  There were a few picture books for Merrick and several biographies in the juvenile section of the library for the bigger littles.

Dr. Aviation Intro Video from Daryl Smith on Vimeo.

We watched - rather than read - The Right Stuff, which I found out was really Not Kid Friendly.  Ahem.  That's no fault of Doctor Aviation.  I made the call.  PG back then, was way different from PG now that there is a PG-13 rating.  Lesson learned, hopefully.  A lot of it was very interesting, though and it led us down some rabbit trails about the speed of sound (supersonic and hypersonic) and that in November, 1961, Air Force Major Robert White reached speeds over Mach 6 in the X-15 research airplane.

Climbing the stairs into Air Traffic Control.  There's an old tower that's accessible to the public at a local airport.  I've taken the boys into it a couple of times.

When it's time for an exam, you'll be prompted to contact the administrator in the Action Steps section of the applicable sessions.  Easy Peasy.

Daryl Smith, AKA Doctor Aviation, has some pretty impressive credentials.  You don't have to wonder if this guy is qualified to teach you or your students about aviation.  Doctor Aviation has logged over 2,000 flight hours with 24 years in the Air Force.  He also was an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy, is a published author, and currently a college professor.

I think this is a *great* course for interested middle schoolers, older students, a fun way to earn a high school credit, continuing adult education, and even useful for boys and girls in Civil Air Patrol.  I have one punk I think will be very interested in that in a few years and this course is giving him a peek at what's in store.

Social Media Links:

Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Jul 15, 2017

P is for Peanut Butter Cup

Those letters I skipped in the ABC series?  Well, I'm determined to get them all in.  You'll just see random letters on random days as I get a word chosen or a post written.  For now, enjoy this "blast from the past."

Introduced the kids to these.  Xav loves the old commercials.  And now he gets it when I shout, "You gotcher chocolate in my peanut butter!"

Watch them all.  Classic!

A Net In Time Schooling

Jul 11, 2017

Make-a-State Activity Pak ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

A homeschool family run business, Home School in the Woods is a hands-on history company that every family can use.  Designing from a Christian perspective, Amy Pak creates lapbooks, games, timelines, and projects for all ages.  It's a great way to bring history to life.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-State

The Make-a-State Activity is from the Activity-Paks series.  These are available on a CD or as a download.  The other four Activity-Paks units are
  • The Old Testament
  • The New Testament
  • Composers
  • Artists

Besides the Activity-Pak, you will need file folders, colored and/or white copy paper, colored and/or white cardstock, crayons, colored pencils, or markers, packing tape, scissors, glue (sticks or liquid), sources for the necessary information to complete the components.  The State Facts sheets provide some basic information.  You can also use the internet, books, videos, anything you want.  It's a great way to teach your children how to research the information they'll be writing about in the lapbook.

Make-a-State has 20 projects that can be completed for all 50 states and Washington, DC.  This pak covers history, geography, language arts, and art.  Some of the activities provided include
  • State Song
  • Geography
  • Flag
  • Government
  • Wildlife
  • Famous People
  • Animals
  • Native Peoples
  • Recipes
  • Timeline and many more topics.
A "Name That State!" file folder game is also provided as a bonus in this pak.  Suggestions for famous people and things to study are listed on each state's State Page and some book and website resources are provided.  Instructions for creating the lapbook and making and placing each component are also documented in easy to follow text and pictures.  I am a bit of a lapbooking rebel, though, as I don't fancy fold our folders.  I just leave them as they came and add the sheets so they open like a book.  I sometimes have to adjust placement, but that doesn't effect the studying and learning that goes into physically making the components and gluing them into their booklets.

The Homestudy office requires us to cover something about Vermont every year in our homeschool.  We have plenty of topics covered for this year now, already.  I can save the rest of the activities for many other years as it's intended for grades 3-8 (though my rising kindergartner has been working right along with his brothers on his very own lapbook).  All of the pages are reproducible for everyone in the entire family.

We'll be adding to our Vermont lapbooks each year as we complete more of the activities for our home state.  We can also use any or all of the activities for each of the states as we complete our ongoing USA notebooks.  This is a project we began several years ago, where we map the states we visit, collect postcards from friends all over the country, and learn about things to do and what's happening in the news.

I've been getting a lot of groans where some lessons are concerned, but I rarely have any trouble with the creation of lapbooks, timelines, and other hands-on studies.  Merrick has gotten pretty proficient with scissors and rarely needs help with anything except writing.  Malachi is pretty much on board with the creating involved with lapbooking also.  Until a couple of years ago, he didn't care for making them, but I think it was a coordination issue.  Xavier pretty much lives for this kind of educating.  One day, Merrick told me he is going to "make my folder every day until it's done."

While we've been using the projects in the components section, there are more we'll use this year.  As a family with a 12 year old this year, we are required to send in a minimum course of study for Malachi.  As his Vermont studies activities, I reported that we'd be covering Vermont residents.  That will include the indigenous Abenaki people and Phineas Gage, among others.  The Native Tribes and Famous People components will be perfect for that.

There are so many ways to use this Activity Pak.  I am really impressed by the assortment of components and the versatility for use.  My punks are enjoying it and when they enjoy something, school goes much more smoothly.

I also want to tell you about the all *new* a la carte projects (there are currently approximately 50 projects available) that include projects, games, timelines, and newspapers.  These are affordably priced individual components.  If you and your children absolutely love certain types of activities, this is the place to look.  I recently grabbed an individual lapbooking Erie Canal project because this year marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the canal.

I'll likely either be buying
  1. each of the timelines available because I really liked that part of the Renaissance & Reformation study we worked on previously.  There are a dozen other timelines available a la carte.
  2. OR the Timeline Trio.  This looks like an amazing resource for hands on and visual learners.  
Please click the banner below to read more about other Home School in the Woods products, including the Timeline Trio, Time Travelers American History, other Activity-Paks, and Lap-Paks.

Find Home School in the Woods on social media.
  • Facebook      Tag:   @homeschoolinthewoods   
  • Twitter          Tag:   @HSintheWoods   
  • Pinterest        Tag:   @hsinthewoods   
  • Google+        +Homeschoolinthewoods 
  • YouTube   

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Jul 7, 2017

Animal Adventure Park ~ Field Trip Friday {AKA Z is for Zoo}

This week, Dad surprised us all with a little three day trip.  One of our stops was Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY.  Yep.  Home of the infamous giraffe, April, who gave birth live online this spring.  All Malachi wanted to do was get a drink, see April, and go.  He was a bit disappointed that we saved April for nearly the very last stop.  That was intentional on my part.  If we saw April first, I'd have to hear, "Can we go now?' the whole time.  As it was, once he was able to get a drink, I only intermittently was reminded we needed to hurry over to the giraffe barn.  Only slightly less annoying, but less annoying all the same.

So, we avoided the giraffe barn by heading right once we went through the gate.  There we checked out the many other exotic and not as exotic animals.  Most of them had signage on the fences telling all about each critter and it's conservation status.  Quite a few of these first animals were members of the bovine and a couple of the equine families, goats, sheep, deer, and some kind of short cattle I didn't see a sign for.  One of my favorite enclosures housed the tortoises.  If you watched many of the April videos this spring, you may have seen the tortoises overwintering in the loft in her barn.  Some were quite large and we loved watching them nosh on lettuce leaves.

We watched Alyssa (April's keeper) and a friend go fishin' for a gator.  There were two in the tub and the water was fairly clear, but the second the keepers entered the pen, under the water they went, stirring up the murk.  (I was afraid this young man might be trying to lose some fingers.)

Jordan records a Tuesday/Thursday educational video and we watched live as the American Alligator segment was filmed.  Standing in the tortoise enclosure is apparently dangerous, as Jordan was nearly tripped by a pair of the shelled critters fighting over some romaine.  Don't worry, Alyssa separated them off camera so the littler guy got to keep his treat.

We were able to see lots of little monkeys, lemurs, a honey badger, wolves, bears, hyenas, and a ton of other critters.  The boys asked lots of questions.  Xav decided if he was a bear, he would spend all day in their "pool."  It was pretty warm Thursday.  Pretty birds were everywhere, on the grounds and in enclosures. 

We did, indeed, eventually get around to the giraffe barn.  Oliver's door was closed and as we came around to the side of the barn, we saw that outer door was open and April and "little" Tajiri were also coming in.  We all popped in there and fed April and Oliver some of the carrot sticks we had purchased onsite for them.  Every time I saw Merrick, a different woman was handing him a carrot stick and lifting him up so he could feed one of the giraffes.  He and I even received one of April's famous "hay showers."

The following morning, we got the sad news that Maxx the Camel had died in his sleep that night.  I am so terribly sad for the AAP family.  I'm not even telling the boys.  They fed Maxx some nibbles while we were there and Xav and I had a photo with him. (While I sang Alice the Camel Had One Hump and Dad looked at me like it was an odd thing to do.)

I wish they had sold postcards and souvenir spoons (I'm up to 33 or so right now).  I think a giraffe spoon where the handle was a neck would have been perfect.  (Patent pending?  LOL)  Maybe they did, but the shop was pretty chaotic and I didn't see either item there.  I think they're experiencing some growing pains, but they're doing a great job and I was very happy to get to see our famous giraffe friend.

They have a couple of small buildings set up to accommodate nursing moms, diaper changes, and kiddos with sensory issues, which was very thoughtful.

Homeschool Discount - Only during the traditional school year or as a group of 20 or more.
Educational - Absotootly. - Zoology, geography, ecology.
Family Oriented - Yes.
Duration of Visit - About two hours.  (I could have stayed longer, but it was hot and Malachi was *done*.)

A Net In Time Schooling

Jun 29, 2017

Hewitt Homeschooling ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

The Hewitt Research Foundation, begun in 1964, was started by Carl Hewitt and author Dr. Raymond Moore who wrote several books on education, including Better Late Than Early.  Hewitt Homeschooling currently provides homeschoolers with services, testing, and curriculum. Their focus is on character, work ethic, community service, and academic excellence.

My First Reports are an inexpensive, full 12 week unit study.  Students learn all about researching and reporting skills, writing, and practice handwriting.  They will know most of the answers to the Me unit, since it is all about them.  That is a great first unit.  When your child is ready to start searching for answers they don't know, you will teach them how to research the information in books you have, at the library, or online if you like.

 My First Reports
Set of Fourteen

My First Report is available in 24 individual titles.  A select set of 14 of those topics in a 3-ring binder is also available.  Topics cover an array of subjects to interest pretty much every student.  My State (#3353) covers all the information we could use to learn about our own state, which we are required by our statute to do.  I found Transportation (#1764) for all of the boys.  Hello! trains, cars, trucks, and airplanes.  What more could they want?  Merrick is very into Marine Life (#2224), so I chose that for him.  After they write all about Me (#1766), Focus on the World (#3210) is great for broadening a students perspective by looking at geography and world missions.  While working on Reptiles & Amphibians (#2225), we had to catch some salamanders, of course.  Wild Animals: Large Mammals (#1966) rounds out our collection of studies.

Focus on the World takes us all over earth, directing us to learn about Christians in each area.  A book Window on the World is recommended, but not necessary for this study.  I have ordered it from Amazon, even so, as a great addition to our reference materials.

The My First Reports are created specifically for grades 3-4.  First and second graders can use them with help from Mom or Dad.  Struggling, older students can also apply the writing prompts to help them create paragraphs. They came stapled and three hole punched, so I just pulled the staples from the corner and placed them in binders with a tab divider between each one.  For ease of use by the punks, I keep the studies in 1/2" binders, with just 2-3 My First Reports in each one.  You might even choose to insert each one into its own 3-hole punch pocket folder.

Approximately twelve pages of questions are in each study.  The questions are in some way related.  For instance, in Me, one page has eight questions on the "My First Report on What I Look Like" page.  At the bottom of the page is a box containing pertinent vocabulary (height, weight, auburn, green, etc.,).  A Transportation page lists six questions related to Public Transportation, with electricity, diesel, and trolley among the words listed in the vocabulary box.  Similarly, Focus on the World shows a map on the left hand page of a two page spread followed by several questions about a specific region.

You'll find an entire unit study resource at the end.  Many of the units have crossword puzzles and word searches in addition to pages of ideas to tie into your study.
  • Bible/Character
  • History/Geography/Social Studies
  • Reading
  • Language
  • Math
  • Science/Health
  • Physical Education
  • Music
  • Art
  • Field Trips
This is followed by a Resources section.  This lists fiction and non-fiction books, music to enjoy, and some units list websites to access.  Other important fact lists follow.  In Wild Animals: Large Mammals, students learn about animal classifications (King Phillip Came Out From Geneva Switzerland.).  My State lists the Presidents of the United States, their home state, and their vice president.  Bible verse copywork is included.  Then the unit ends with various sized, reproducible, blank lined pages (5/8", 1/2", and 3/8"), with and without boxes to illustrate what's been written by the student.

Here, I let the boys choose a page to work in.  Sometimes I picked the unit and they picked the specific topic.  We started with answering the questions on the sheet in full sentences.  Then, we would find the closest related questions on a page and write sentences that answered them.  I showed them that paragraphs are made up, not of random sentence answers, but of *related* information (You can see the progression in the photos below.).  I showed them the difference in a complete sentence that merely answered the question (It was blue.) vs a sentence that could be understood by someone who didn't know what the original question had been (My favorite ball was blue.).   They're writing is growing a lot with these units and their paragraphs are getting much better as we use the prompts as a guide to build related information into complete paragraphs.

I do wish that each My First Report had numbered pages all the way through (the unit study section *is* numbered) and a table of contents.  Before I had them in the binder, the punks had separated the Me report and messed them all up searching for the page they wanted to respond to first.  My First Reports are terrific little homeschool studies and we'll be using the prompts for a longtime to come. 

Several years ago, I reviewed Hewitt Homeschooling's Grade 1 Lightning Lit Set with Xavier.  I liked the curriculum so much, I have another student workbook so I can use the program with Merrick in the fall.  He will only be in kindergarten, but I plan to take about 18 months to go through the whole thing.  You can read my review of that, or click the banner below to see what the rest of the Crew thought about it and many other literature courses offered by Hewitt Homeschooling.

Find Hewitt Homeschooling on social media.

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Jun 26, 2017

Summer Has Officially Begun

It always seems like the busiest week we have every year is the first week after public school gets out.  Summer is starting and there are summer things to do.  This year was no exception.  It rained a lot this week.  Probably at least a bit every. single. day.  sigh...

Public school didn't officially end until noon time on Tuesday this week, I'm guessing because of snow days.  Because of this, Xav did not have PE on Tuesday like usual.  Instead, he was invited to participate in field day with the whole school.  He was even given a mascot T-shirt in school colors, just like everyone else.

Monday night is also the night our first VBS of the summer began.  Yep, the first VBS is in the evening.  There are lessons for ages 2-adult.  So, while I was sorely tempted to nap in the car every night (because exhaustion), I stayed for Bible study.  Some other Friday School families were present, too, so it was nice to visit in our off time.  I also met a few other very sweet ladies.  The theme was Over the Moat: Drawbridge to the King and the study was about King David. 

Since school was in session for two days, gymnastics camp was only three mornings.  The charge this year was higher, the time and number of days shorter, but I still felt it was reasonable.  Honestly, the first time it was $10/kid/session (NOT *day*) and I thought that was crazy cheap, so I'm not complaining.  I do wish it had been all week though.  Xav and Merrick absolutely love it!  Mal chose not to participate this year again.  He didn't change his mind mid-way through, like he did last year.  When it didn't rain, Xav, Mal, and I walked and went to the playground while Merrick was in his lesson.  When it was Xav's turn, I took Merrick and Mal home because his session was longer than Merrick's.

Wednesday or Thursday afternoon (because we're kind of kooky), we went to a resort where we have a Daycation pass.  We spent a few hours getting familiar with the layout and at one of the pool areas.  Caught a shuttle bus, which Merrick and Mal thought was amazing.  We'll be going up again this week and probably head to one of the other pool areas, since they are all different.  We don't just have access to the pools.  There is hiking, a game zone, and a ton of events we can participate in, oh, and lagoons.  Because we want to be sure to get our money's worth out of this pass, I want to get up there fairly often.  I've told the punks we are switching to school in the morning.  It won't be easy for any of us, as we're all creatures of habit, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

So, that wasn't nearly enough to do and we didn't need any rest on Saturday.  So, our week finished out with a VBS closing carnival (and banana splits) on Saturday and the rain stayed away the entire time.  I picked up Greek food from the lady at the Farmer's Market for lunch.  Then we headed to a new (2nd year) Renn Faire.  We didn't stay long.  Then it was off to our favorite cider mill for our first visit of the year.  No, they weren't pressing, since it's summer, but they have samples and we bought cider and cider donuts.  Outside we were surprised by the most adorable little bunny litter.  I saw seven babies around the picnic tables and gazebo.  The most intriguing part was their appearance.  They didn't look like wild rabbits.  There were two albinos and five in various shades of tan or brown.  I have *never* seen wild rabbits like that.  I have myself convinced they were from an escaped pet.

This young lady worked a while to get close enough to pet this cutie.  She said it was the highlight of her whole day.