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Dec 24, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy 2017!


and Happy 2017!

Dec 14, 2016

My Least Favorite Christmas Songs

Some songs just drive you straight up a tree.  You might  love some of these songs, and that's totally OK.  Obviously, they resonate with someone because they are "hits," but I'd be completely happy to not hear any of them ever again.

1. Christmas Shoes
I heard about 5 seconds of this one today in the car and I can't stop hearing it now.  It isn't even a good song.  It's intended to manipulate people and make them cry, just like all the fictional tearjerkers on Facebook.

2. Last Christmas
I really liked George Michael in both his Wham! and solo career, back in the olden days.  I can't help but wonder if he was tired when he wrote this one.
George: "Sorry, I can't seem to think of any more rhymes.  Let's just keep singing the same verse over and over.  At the end, we'll shake it up a bit, but it will still be more of the same words."
Bandmate: "Brilliant!"

George, dude, you're wearing a wedding ring, why are you brooding about the chick who gave your heart away?

3. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Apparently (according to wiki), telling "scary ghost stories" was a quaint old Victorian tradition, that's pretty much forgotten.  My grandparents were born in 1900 and 1904, basically the end of the Victorian era, but you'd think it would have been a tradition when they were small and it would have been mentioned at some time or other.  Either way, that's all I can think about when I hear this song.  Obsessive much?  Perhaps.

4. Sleigh Ride
While not a terrible song, per se, I am adding it to the list because it romanticizes something so uncomfortable.  For a sleigh ride, you need snow.  For snow, you need cold.  We're looking at a wind chill of -30*F later this week.  I don't like being cold.  I'm cold all the time in the house, wearing layers.  Brrr...  So, yeah.

5. John Lennon's So This is Christmas
As someone in the household says, "He's a hippy." I'm sure there's more to it than that, but it for sure makes the list of annoying Christmas songs.

What makes your "cringeworthy Christmas songs" list?

Dec 5, 2016

Fall Photo Shoot

Sometimes things just don't go as planned.  Like my whole life, it seems, on "those days."  (That's not *all* bad!)  But God has a plan.  His ways are not my ways.  It's difficult to remember that on those not-so-good feeling days.

One gorgeous fall day, I decided to take a nice picture of the boys out in the leaves and pine needles scattered around the yard.  It wasn't really sunny at all, but I found out the hard way that all the punks have sensitive eyes like their dad.  The gray sky just sort of diffused the sunlight so it was everywhere.  There was NO way to shield their peepers or sit in the shade of a tree.  It was just, well, bright.

This is quite literally, the best photo I got before giving up in frustration.  I found myself angry.  With them.  And with myself.  I think I was most upset that I actually had a good idea for homegrown photos of the boys, got them all in their new black autumn shirts, rounded them up, and actually - most importantly - went out to take them while the situation *seemed* ideal to me.

How often do we think the circumstances are perfect for our ideas and something goes "wrong" to our way of thinking?  God sees everything that happens to us from an entirely different perspective.  Something to think about.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 
Isaiah 55:8

Scripture and Snapshot

Dec 3, 2016

The Adventures of Earl and Hobbes

After the foot of snow we were gifted with last week, we've had some pretty decent weather.  The wind has been howling at night, but the days have been mild and in the high forties to mid-fifties.  Today, I went out to dig up another row of carrots from the garden.  The kittens have been dying to get outside and they sneak out every chance a slow moving child leaves the house.  I decided to take them out with me and they had a blast, checking out the empty chicken coop, the garden, crossing the crick, and climbing trees.

I had an awful time keeping Merrick from chasing them so they could just be curious kitties.  He called the outing The Adventures of Earl and Hobbes like it was an exciting TV show.  Earl is a much better climber than Hobbes, who can only get a couple feet off the ground before hopping down.  They both got their feet wet, which does not make them happy.  Within minutes of me heading back into the house, they were at the backdoor waiting to be let in where I gave them treats.

They spent the next four hours sound asleep.

Nov 25, 2016

Best of the Best ~ 2016 Crew Awards

After taking 2015 off from The Crew, we happily rejoined this year.  It has been a whirlwind of amazing homeschool products.  Many were return vendors we know and love and there were lots of fresh, new companies joining us, too.  Some curricula were on my "short list" for "some day" and some were wonderful surprises.  We used and reviewed just over forty products for The Homeschool Review Crew, plus some single reviews for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which you'll also, eventually, get to read about here.

Last week, The Crew reviewers and their kiddos were all invited to vote for our favorite reviews of the 2016 run.  I have to say, this is probably one of the absolute hardest parts of being on The Crew.  You get to vote for *just one* thing in each category. It's incredibly difficult, sometimes, to narrow it down.

Meet the Homeschool Review Crew Curriculum Favourites for 2016

My personal *blog* requirements are a bit more lenient in that I allow us to choose several items in categories I want to use.  To simplify, I used subjects for the categories or I could go on and list nearly every review we did here. So, here goes.  Here are Redhanded Homeschool's High Fives for the 2016 Homeschool Review Crew.  All links will take you to my original reviews.

Malachi's High Five
Familyman Ministries' The Familyman's Christmas Treasury
We all like these stories so much.  Almost every time we get in the car, they ask me to play Cootie McKay, Captain Chaos, or The Stranger.

Xavier's High Five ("Obviously.")
Stopmotion Explosion's Stopmotion Animation Kit
We've all liked this and have made it a bit of a hobby.  I'm even teaching the kids at co-op a class based on the information I learned from SME and other kits, and videos we've been using.

Merrick's High Five
Talking Fingers, Inc.'s Read, Write, & Type
Who doesn't like teaching pesky Vexor a lesson for bad behavior?  And there's the bonus of learning to read, write, and type as you go.

My High Fives for Moms
Love, love, love this one!  I've tried freezer cooking before, but it was always overwhelming to me.  Not anymore!
While on the surface, is for classes, there are also tons of resources for moms and the whole family.

Most of the following products are favorites that we have finished, kept using through the year, or will be using in the future.

Language Arts
LOE Foundations A 
Merrick used several reading and writing programs this year and he (and BooBear, his teddy) really enjoyed this one.

IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization
"Ooey gooey was a worm..."  We all had a blast studying and memorizing poetry this year.  This program will be with us for years to come.

Progeny Press' The Sword in the Tree e-guide
This was a really good study based on a book that really held their attention.

Can Do Cubes from
While Merrick liked using these with Jolly Phonics, the beauty of these cubes is that they can be used with any program.  All of my kids like manipulatives.  Why not have them in LA also?

Language Arts ~ Honorable Mention 
I have one honorable mention again this year.  This is a *great* writing program, but we just weren't able to finish it for various reasons.  I almost held a co-op class in my home using Here to Help Learning, but we had a bunch of balls in the air at that time and I couldn't figure out a good time to do it.  I'd be so happy to use it again sometime, though. 

I love this math times 1000!  Malachi especially does well with it.  He worked tirelessly this summer to get his scores up in multiplication, working the section over and over.  I was so proud of him, but more importantly, he was proud of his own achievements.  We use CTCMath almost every day.

Math ~ Honorable Mention
It's a game.  It's math.  It's Sunya the Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Adding & Subtracting.  This is a fun card game (with a really long name) for memorizing math facts and comes in multiplication and division as well.  We should use it more often.  And get Merrick playing it with us.

Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy 2nd edition
We had a great time using this edition with Merrick (and Xav who can't get enough science).  I'd used the first edition with Mal and Xav years ago.  We have loved each Apologia science we've used.

Social Studies 
Heirloom Audio 
We love every. single. one. of Heirloom Audio's Henty titles we've heard.  Most we received through The Crew, but we've also listened to a few I purchased.  I love the downloads that come with the CDs including the study guide which turns the stories into a nice historical unit.

Zeezok Publishing's Music Appreciation 
Not only is this an AMAZING music appreciation curriculum, it also has a lot of historical information in it as well as a focus on positive character traits.

Memoria Press' Traditional Logic hurt my brain.  I obviously don't have a high schooler, so I worked on this course my own self.  It's a great program.

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Spanish Starter Set
This was such a fun video Spanish class.  The boys love that it takes place on a day in the life of three brothers.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Elementary Chinese 1
This is the third course we've used from Middlebury and our first foray into Chinese.  It's a great program and I liked that it also taught some characters and had special paper to download for writing practice. 

Just For Fun  
The Pencil Grip's Kwik Stix 
We bigfatpuffyheart Kwik Stix tempera paint.  They were easy to use and worked great on paper, cardboard, wood, and canvas.

Enlivenze FlipStir
Enclosed puzzles with no loose pieces.  What's not to love?  They're fun and challenging.

Special Category - Best Gift
CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts
I had to include CrossTimber, but it isn't curriculum or a puzzle, so...  New category invented.  Check.  Hey, it's my blog and these are my favorites.  I'm not sure if the best part about CrossTimber is that they can make something meaningful for *any* name, or seeing how happy you can make someone with one of their Name Meaning Gifts.

You can see how the official voting of The Homeschool Review Crew went on the blog.

Nov 22, 2016

Our Family Grew By Two

I wanted to spell that "tew" so the rhyme would be spelled the same.  Alas, tew is a real word and it would definitely have changed the meaning!

Our kitty (God love him) is about 14 and he just isn't the mouser he used to be.  We were overrun with chipmunks this summer.  We had decided to get a new kitten, but, really how excited would a 14 year old male be about an adorable, playful kitten?  Not so much, right?  A friend from our homeschool co-op had a litter of three month old kitties all ready for a new domicile. We decided to get two.  They can bug each other and leave Stitchy alone. Mostly.  They were outdoor kittens, so love to be outside already.  They're in for the long winter while they grow and then they can head out there and chase some vermin in the spring.

Meanwhile, they're loving (and hating) all the attention from the punks.  They're playing with crinkly, feathery toys.  They get the kitty treats from time to time while we teach them to come when we call.  They're chasing the laser pointer.  They enjoy naps in my chair, of all places.

Meet Earl (Gray) and Hobbes.
 If there's a hiding place in the house,they've found it.  I can't tell you how many times we've gone looking for them!  The shelf under the kitchen table is a favorite.  I keep finding the history books I keep there on the floor.  They're acclimating well to spending all their time indoors right now.

Nov 19, 2016

Let it Snow!

While the boys are waiting for more snow outside (we haven't had a decent snowfall since the one in October), Merrick found a way to allow C3PO to partake of a favorite winter pastime.  Here he can be seen making snow angels.  This is very similar to a scene that was cut from The Empire Strikes Back.

The punks are hopeful to get some snow soon for their own angels.  The forecast is calling for some next week.

Nov 10, 2016

My Journey ~ Weight Loss October 2016

It finally happened!  Wahoo!  I have some new bling.  25 pounds! 

To celebrate reaching the half way point of my major goal (It's confusing, I know, but I have a final goal and I've broken it down.  Thirds weren't a fun number so, I have two halves -25# each- and then another 10-15 pounds after that.  Makes total sense, right?), I got my hair cut.  Like, over ten inches.  When I have reached the second half of the goal, I will probably be getting it cut even shorter, in a really cute style I like.

Nov 9, 2016

The Critical Thinking Co. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

"If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. 
If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless." 
~ Michael Baker, President

The Critical Thinking Co.™ is a family business founded nearly 60 years ago.  Their focus is teaching children how to think critically and problem solve while educating them in the more traditional subjects of language arts, math, science, and history.  What is critical thinking? defines critical thinking as "disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence."  Learning to employ critical thinking can improve grades and test scores in the school years, but will also better equip children to thrive in adulthood.  Through their Critical Giving program, the company donates two or more products to children in need with every purchase.

Language Smarts is a series of books for grades 1-4.  Language Smarts™ Level E is for grade 4.  The colorful 392 page paperback workbook can be used as your core language arts curriculum or as a wonderful supplement to most any grade level textbook.  The website has sample pages available for each level, as well a multitude of other great products. 

Under the Standards section, the pages which teach critical thinking skills (which are emphasized throughout the workbook) are highlighted.  Following that, the contents are sorted by topic and listed in an easy to use table.  Some of the concepts and skills taught in Language Smarts Level E are normally taught in fifth grade.

Some of the *Very Many* topics covered in Language Smarts Level E
  • Word parts
  • Spelling
  • Reference materials
  • Grammar
  • Writing
  1. Sentence fragments
  2. Punctuation
  3. Capitalization
  • Reading and Writing
  1. Similes and Metaphors
  2. Context clues
  3. Genres
  4. Reading comprehension
  5. Poems
  • The Writing Process
  1. Narrative
  2. Opinion
  3. Informative

Brief, but clear, instructions are given on each page.  These should suffice unless your child is struggling.  Hopefully, you can guide them through any further instructional needs.  No parental preparation is necessary for this open and go workbook.  WooHoo!

After the lessons, there are often some crossword puzzles, or riddles like these.

Using Language Smarts daily and completing two pages at a time will complete the book in a school year.  We used it several days each week due to co-op and appointments.  Since we school about 210 days/year (rather than the typical 180), this would still work very well with our schedule.

The Language Smarts Level E workbook is so incredibly thorough, it's an inch thick.  That does make it difficult to write near the spine of the book.  Xav actually writes about two inches in from the center which limits the space he has for writing.  A spiral binding or perforated pages would be really helpful in this instance.

The copyright for the original purchaser is very lenient and allows for a classroom or family to make copies of all the pages.  I'm pretty tempted, though, to purchase a book for each of the boys to use individually.  In part, because it's a great product and because it would be easier than copying for each boy and having to keep track of loose pages!  On the other hand, black and white copies would probably be less expensive.  You have to decide for your family whether thrift or convenience is more important.  If you want to use the Language Smarts workbook for multiple children, though, it might actually be better to purchase the ebook and print only the pages you need, when you need them.

We'll be continuing to use Language Smarts Level E.  The bigger littles haven't covered a ton of grammar and writing to this point, because I've been so focused on the math aspect.  I can no longer put it on the back burner and this workbook has been a life saver!   I can even see getting these for Merrick when he is ready for first grade.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention some really great software downloads from The Critical Thinking Co.™ also.  Their Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!  program contains the same software that some other Crew members are reviewing (plus Smart Abacus).
Alphabet Song Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Toddler-1 | New Version 2.0
Letter Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Prek-1
Vowel Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Prek-2
Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Prek-2

Read the post about the importance of preschool academics.  And as a happy surprise, the Alphabet Song Game Software is FREE for a limited time.  If you have a little one in those early years, go check it out!
Please click the graphic below to go to the Homeschool Crew blog and check out some of the software available to your young child.  The Crew also has reviews for Sentence Diagramming: Beginning for grades: 3-12+.

Find The Critical Thinking Co.™ on social media.

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

Crew Disclaimer

Nov 4, 2016

Christmas Comes to America, Homeschool Legacy Unit ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

What *is* a Once-A-Week unit study from Homeschool Legacy?
Once-a-week unit studies are basically just what the name implies.  One day each week is spent doing the bulk of the study.  Reading is done every day.  Preparing for the studies simply involves gathering the recommended media from the library and collecting supplies for the weekly activities.  Approximately half a dozen activities are assigned each week.  These include recipes, geography, research, and more.  The studies are Biblically grounded.  They're designed for grades 2-12, but the whole family can be easily included, especially in the read-aloud, movies, music, and games.

We're using the Christmas Comes to America Once-a-Week Unit Study which is a historical look at the traditions of Christmas as brought from other countries to our melting pot.  This fun, light study is perfect for a busy December.  Don't stress yourself out by adding to your heaping holiday plate.  Take it easy and commit to one day a week to focus on this special holiday.

While using the Christmas Comes to America study, your young man can earn his Boy Scouts' Music badge and American Heritage Girls will earn the bulk of their Music Appreciation badge requirements.

This study is certain to get you into the Christmas spirit.

Each week, we studied a different country and the Christmas traditions that were brought to America through those who emigrated here.  I'm French, Dutch, and German, so it was fun to read about some of my (great) grandparents' childhood traditions.
  • Week 1 - The Dutch
  • Week 2 - The English
  • Week 3 - The German
  • Week 4 - An American Christmas (sort of how it all adds up to what we now view as a Classic American Christmas.)
Daily activities are *just* for reading.  The children can read on their own or be read to and then a family read-aloud is read each day.  In this unit, you will read about one Christmas tradition each day all month long as well.  The unit activities are only completed on the one day you decide to set aside for the unit work.
Going to the library - Books, Music, and DVDs
The ample book selections ensure that you are certain to find at least some of the books in your local library system.  I decided to stick only with books at the libraries I frequent, rather than order books through inter-library loan.  That plan worked out pretty well for the main unit book list, but I did have a harder time finding things for each weekly section.

Books are listed by age ranges, non-readers first.  They also include the Dewey decimal classification for ease of locating books with similar topics.  There are books for every age and ability, including a read-aloud selection for the family to enjoy together.  You'll find a wide range of books and movies: fiction and non-fiction, historical, classics, and more modern.

The DVDs are great choices for a family movie night.  Each film on the suggested list has been carefully screened for suitability for the whole family.  Everything from The Nativity Story (a beautiful film) to How the Grinch Stole Christmas are on the list.

Musical options were of a diverse nature with orchestras, jazz bands, country music, and choirs.

Gathering Supplies
A supply list is included at the beginning of each week.  It includes things like a globe, ingredients for recipes, poster board, blank note cards and so on.  Just pull together the items you'll need beforehand.  Some things you'll use each week, other items you'll only need once.

Don't forget your Bibles.  These devotionals are for the whole family.  You'll look at Old Testament prophecies and how they were fulfilled by Jesus. 

Other assignments will include research questions so students learn to look up information on the internet or in encyclopedias, geography, music study, history, science language arts, movie nights, making Christmas cards, etc.

How We Used the Unit
Xavier told me he "felt like Christmas" until he looked out of the window.  It definitely had us all feeling Christmas-y one our unit study days.

The cooking activities were favorites here.  Merrick and Xavier love to be in the kitchen "helping."  We made a birthday cake for Jesus and took turns blowing out the candle for Him.  We hadn't done that in many years.  I'm not even sure if I have made one since Merrick was born.  The guys *really* liked the idea.  And the dessert.

We listened to the audio of How the Grinch Stole Christmas as well as hours of Christmas songs of various types.  We mostly took advantage of Pandora to listen to Christmas tunes for hours at a time.  Malachi normally likes silence during school work, but one day as I went to turn off the music for desk work, he was pretty insistent that I should leave it on.

It's still a bit early for caroling, so we decided to plan a caroling party for next month since we couldn't really justify doing it in October!  We're definitely looking forward to hosting everyone after the caroling and serving a couple of lovely, hot beverages we learned to make from this unit study.

Dad apparently told the boys we might have a real tree this year (another thing we rarely do), so now they're gathering pine cones for an after-Christmas tree for the birds.

We wrapped up the unit playing a Christmas trivia game using the questions and answers from the study.  Games are such a great way to review and really cement the information the kids are learning.

Unit studies are a fun way to learn and great for shaking up the text book days my boys find so "boring."  I get so wrapped up in making sure the kids are learning "what they're supposed to be learning," I always forget that school can be educational and enjoyable.

Not ready to feel the Christmas cheer?  Now would be a great time to purchase the Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims six week micro-unit from Homeschool Legacy..

Click the graphic below to read some of the Crew's reviews of other units.

Find Homeschool Legacy on Facebook

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

Crew Disclaimer

Nov 1, 2016

Incoming What?!

Caller ID often has some interesting numbers show up.  We've received calls from *ourselves* (literally, our own name is calling us), the IRS, and this very special call that showed up over the summer.  I'm pretty sure it was a wrong number!

Oct 27, 2016

CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts ~ A Homeschool Crew Review and Giveaway!

John, Katie, and their homeschooling family run a company called CrossTimber.  I've seen them around before.  I've thought about ordering gifts from them.  But I never did.  I'm actually not sure why, because I always have a little skip of joy in my heart when I find souvenirs with my name on them, *spelled correctly*.  The Homeschool Review Crew members were offered a choice of items from CrossTimber that included the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse, among other items.

Usually, with The Crew, we have few if any options; grade level, a particular language, choose one from a small selection...  It's all pretty straight forward and simple.  This time, the sky was the limit.  Well, pretty much.  Some of the choices included the aforementioned framed plaque, coffee mugs, book marks, *music boxes,* plaques with the names of God, first names, last names, TWO names...  Not only did I have to decide what item to get, I needed to figure out who the recipient would be.  You don't see any of the behind the scenes stuff, but The Crew was taking this whole thing all very seriously.  We were bouncing ideas off of each other.  Some of the great gift giving ideas we thought of were baby showers, Christenings, birthdays, graduations, weddings, and coming-of-age celebrations.  Whew!

I even had a nice chat with John on their website, in the little chat box in the lower right corner.  You should go there.  You should chat with them.  Anyway, John asked me to email him some of the names of people I was thinking about presenting the name meaning gift to.  He thought correctly, that if I saw some of the meanings of the names and looked through some of the design images, I might feel inspired. 

I noticed that they really dug deeper than some of the baby name websites out there.  Most places had something lame, like fork (as in a road, not a utensil) and gave a different origin for Merrick's name.  John told me it was Teutonic and meant "ruler of the sea."  We actually did see that on *one* page when we were searching for a name for him, which is kind of why we chose it.  Well, that and maybe the movie Timeline had something to do with it.  John included Isaiah 52:7 for Merrick.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bring good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.

I had similar responses to nearly all the names.  We are excellent baby namers. 

I remember when I was a girl and I headed off to kindergarten (and for years after), I did not like my name.  I thought all the girls had nicer names than mine.  Mom tells me I came home crying one day because my name was terrible.  John's note was a great reminder for me.

Jodi - She who praises.  Proverbs 22:4  By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.
She who praises.  How could I not love my name?  It's a great reminder. 

I'm not sure now exactly what was said at what point, but I very clearly knew exactly what I would be getting and to whom it would go.  I chose the Two Name Name Meaning Print for Couples and purchased a frame here at home.  Then I sent it on to my Dad and Step-mom for their 40th (!) anniversary.  I thought Harvest Fields made a great background.  We all maybe (yes, still) get a chuckle out of them having the "same" name, but it really doesn't make any difference to us kids.  We all call one or the other or both Mom or Dad.  But there is sometimes confusion with other people.  Usually, people who know them call them Mr. Gene and Mrs. Jean.  The beautiful part about this name meaning print is that their names are the same, but the meanings and verses chosen for each of them were not the same.  It's more like they compliment each other, as halves of a whole.

Aaaaaand I boxed it up and shipped it before I remembered I wanted a picture of it in the frame I picked up.  Luckily, my niece is in cahoots with me and will take pictures for me once they open it.


and it's here!  CrossTimber also sent me individual NameCards for each of them.  You can see them in my dad's hand.  They're about the size and thickness of a playing card and are full color and beautiful.

They loved it and thanked us for such a unique gift!  Know how I know they *really* like it?  It's going to Bible study with them tonight.  Thanks, Dehnart family for such a lovely gift to recognize their 40th anniversary.

A lot of research goes into discovering the encouraging aspects of every name.  Every name.  Not just the more popular names.  Get some insight into this process.  It's quite fascinating how it all happens (and get a mini-language arts lesson on Greek words).  You will learn a lot of interesting information about naming trends, roots, and variations.  Name gifts from CrossTimber are somewhat unique in that you are also provided with a fitting Bible verse. 

You can read the inspiring story about how name meaning research became John's passion.  I just loved it and I could see some of the homeschooled kids I know coming up with something after similar interactions.  Resourceful lot, no?  

You may decide to purchase multiple name meaning gifts from CrossTimber.  It sure wouldn't be unheard of!  A discount is offered for orders of three or more items.

I have chatted with and emailed John several times over the last couple of weeks.  He was happy to provide me with the name meanings for each of my boys, as well as various other family members, with no obligation.  You can tell how enthusiastic the Dehnarts are about inspiring people to see the power and beauty in each and every name.  In fact, asking about a name meaning is one of the ways to enter their Christmas Giftaway.

There will be TEN winners in the Christmas Giftaway!  Winners will receive a free name gift item or a $10 gift certificate.  Selection of winners will take place December 4, 2016.  It's very easy to enter.  Just click on the words above and follow the directions. 

Find CrossTimber on social media.

I will leave you with this reminder of God's love for you!

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 26, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We have reviewed Middlebury Interactive Languages for The Crew before.  We knew what they had to offer, so we were thrilled to be assigned a review with them again.  Xav is more eager to learn languages than Mal (though Mal does enjoy watching the stories), so he got to use this one with me.

We had much more difficulty selecting a language to learn this time.  Homeschool foreign language lessons are available in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Latin and most are taught at grades K-2, 3-5, middle, and high school.  Courses and a few levels have been added since we reviewed the K-2 Spanish two years ago.  Eventually, we settled on Elementary Chinese I (grades 3-5).

These topics are covered in Elementary Chinese I.
  • Numbers
  • Greetings
  • Family
  • Home
  • Adjectives/Colors
  • School
  • Food
  • Review
  • Animals
  • Friends
  • Nature
  • Seasons
  • Clothing
  • Places
  • Professions
  • Review
That's sixteen units in all!  Each unit (except the review units) consists of six lessons.  The two review units each cover the previous seven units.  The units use Chinese stories and legends to introduce students to the culture of China, as well as written and spoken Mandarin.  Through the use of videos, stories, games, and listening to their own recorded voices, students become familiar with the language.  Xav usually completes several lessons within a unit each time he logs in.

Culture lessons, recorded teacher videos, stories, and activity pages.
We are able to print a transcript of the stories used in each unit.  These include a synopsis of the story and both English and Chinese for each frame of the story in the program.  Other printables included a sheet with a grid for writing practice of the Chinese characters.  The calligraphy of Chinese is fun to write and is very beautiful when done correctly.  We aren't focusing on the characters as much as the more complicated pronunciation of the words.  We've found it a bit harder to learn the unfamiliar sounds of Chinese.  Some languages are easier than others, in part because of this familiarity.  Xav is doing a great job picking it up, though and when I listen to his voice recordings, I'm pretty impressed with how similar he sounds to the originals.

Speaking lab, story transcript, writing characters.
Navigating the course is quite simple. Depending on the browser used, it seems to vary slightly.  There is a calendar which shows a class scheduled for every weekday.  This cannot be altered.  We prefer to use the folders on the left in the Table of Contents screen.  As each lesson is completed, it gets a green check, so we know right where to start next time Xav logs in.  Xav does several lessons within a unit each time and works on it two to four days in a week.  It fits into our schedule pretty easily.

Navigating with a list, a calendar, or folders.
Within the gradebook, I can see how Xav has done on the quizzes and unit tests at a glance.  Luckily, we can go back and listen again and again!

Repeated exposure throughout helps cement the characters and words into our brains.

There is no pre-requisite for Elementary Chinese I.  Courses run from introductory levels to Advanced Placement.  Middlebury courses are non-credit bearing in themselves, but homeschool parents can certainly award credit based on the time the high school student puts into the course.

The Middlebury Interactive Language courses are immersive language learning.  They start right at the beginning with the new language.  The stories are never told in English, but you get a sense for it from the pictures and, if needed, the transcripts can be viewed or printed.

The length of time required to complete one semester of a course varies by level. 
  • middle school and high school, 90 lesson days
  • grades 3-5, 45 lesson days
  • grades K-2, 35 lesson days
Each course is available with or without teacher support.  The teacher does require an additional fee, but they work independently with each student.  You don't need to log in on a certain day, at a certain time to make use of that benefit.

Visual and auditory learners can really benefit from these language lessons.

Find Middlebury Interactive Languages on social media.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

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Oct 22, 2016

Things We Do For PE in Our Homeschool - Hiking

First, there's hiking and then there's *hiking*.  I prefer the former, though the boys often do the latter.  Usually with Dad.  Natch.

Now that Xav is attending PE classes at the public school, we go for a walk together after we pick him up.  Sometimes, that is on a nice, open trail.  These pictures are from our journey a week ago.

Xav found some milkweed, which after getting the fluff all over us (not to be removed until we returned home and got a lint roller out), we decided to save the seeds and find a spot in our yard to grow milkweed.  We hope to see some monarchs.  Xav also picked a tasty corn dog.  Or cattail. 

It was a nice fall day, not too hot, not cold.  We explored the trail, dropped a stick in a stream and ran across the bridge to see it come out the other side.

Definitely a good day.  I'm hoping for a few more days like it before winter settles in for six whole months.