Friday, June 15, 2018

Weekend Meal Planning

It's payday and that means making plans for groceries til the end of the month, or at least til the 29th when we get paid again and I can go grocery shopping that following Saturday for the first part of July.. 

I'm actually trying to keep the food bill down a bit this time around and make cheaper meals.  I'll be buying tires for my car on Saturday and my husband is going to be on vacation next week, so we will be on the road a bit more than usually going to the Natural Science Museum, the bowling alley and to the Wild Cat Sanctuary.  So, the trade off for having some fun is a few cheaper meals like Lentil Soup and Nachos.

Saturday (6/16) -Pizza Night

Sunday (6/17) - Kentucky Hot Brown Grilled Cheese with sun chips

Monday (6/18) - Lentil Soup

Tuesday (6/19) - Taco Baked Penne Pasta

Wednesday (6/20) - Buffalo chicken Bites with French Fries and Veggies

Thursday (6/21) - One pot Creamy garlic noodles with Salad

Friday (6/22) -Bowling Night (Burgers at the Alley)

Saturday (6/23) - Hummus and Chicken Wraps

Sunday (6/24) -Ground Turkey Sweet Potato Skillet

Monday (6/25) -Slow Simmered Black Eyed Peas with Greens

Tuesday (6/26) - Nacho Night

Wednesday (6/27) - Beef and Broccoli Ramen

Thursday (6/28) - Beef Kofta Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables

Friday (6/29) – Hamburger Soup with Bread

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

ARTistic Pursuits (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Art is a huge hit in this house.  Dad is very talented in the art department, even having had a piece that he created in high school being displayed in a local museum in his home town.  I was fairly artistic in my own right.  My oldest daughter also loves to draw and create her own characters and artistic pieces. So it was no surprise that Ashleigh would also display some talent as well.  

As a homeschool parent, I enjoy being able to not only encourage but also nurture and help develop her natural talents as much as possible.  When we were given the opportunity to review the latest release from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. to use with Ashleigh, there wasn't any hesitation.  This was a company that we were already very familiar with so we were very excited to review Art of the Ancients, which is Volume Two of the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series. 

Designed and written by homeschooling mom Brenda Ellis, ARTistic Pursuits uses the theory that all children can learn artistic concepts and put them to use on paper.  Starting with the most basic of these concepts in early instructional books, students progress each year until they are studying these concepts on a much deeper level of technique and application.  Students are introduced early on to various mediums such as pastels, modeling clay, watercolor crayons, and paints while they learn tips and techniques that will carry them through a lifetime of artistic pursuits. 

Art of the Ancients is book 2 in the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series.  These are newly released hardback books, written by Brenda Ellis,  that are written for grades K-3. Each of  64 page books in the six book series (a seventh book is currently in the works) features 18 lessons, 12 of which are written in text format in the book and 6 of which are found the accompanying DVD/Blu-Ray disks (both disks are found in the front of the book, giving you the option of which format you want to use). 

Video lessons are hosted by Ariel Holcomb.  Holecomb introduced the lesson topics to build interest in the lesson while Brenda Ellis teaches the student how to handle art media as well as introduce techniques that work well for young children. 

How We Used It

For our review, we chose to start with Book 2 of the new series, which focuses on the artwork of the cultures that developed along the Mediterranean sea and it's surrounding areas.  From European Cave Drawings to the Grecian Pillars to learning about artwork in tombs with the Etruscan Wall Paintings, the 18 lessons provide a wide variety of both art history as well as an introduction to various art mediums for students to learn about.    A Table of Contents as well as a Materials list is provided in the front of the book to make planning easier. 

While this particular series is aimed for students grades K-3 and Ashleigh is technically 4th grade, the lessons were still very useful for Ashleigh.  The lessons are very short - less than 10 minutes each for the video lessons and 1 to 3 pages for the book lessons. 

For our review, we decided to start with Lesson 1, which was a video lesson that demonstrated using soft pastels.  We worked on one art lesson per week, although, had Ashleigh been left to her own, she would have completed the book within a day or two.

Ashleigh watching Lesson 1 
For this lesson, students are asked to use pastels to create a picture of an object with wheels, whether from a picture of a toy.  Ashleigh decided to attempt a picture of her RC toy Challenger. 

With Lesson 2, Ashleigh learned about Art in Caves and the Lascaux Cave in France. 

After reading the lesson and doing a bit of our own research on the caves via YouTube, Ashleigh then worked on her own version of cave drawings using soft pastels.  

For Lessons 3 and 4, Ashleigh began working with self hardening clay.  Lesson 3 was another video lesson covering how to make figures from clay slabs while Lesson 4 taught about the human statues found by archaeologists while excavating Jericho.

 She was then asked to create her own clay figure.  She claims this was her statue of me LOL

For our last lesson for this review period, we revisited the Minoan Fresco paintings.  We had previously learned about the Minoan palace of Knossos and the frescos that are still visible there.  She was really thrilled when the lesson featured the fresco of Bull Jumping that had been found in Knossos.

Since the lesson focused on the Bull Jumping fresco, the lesson's assignment was for Ashleigh to draw a realistic animal using soft pastels.   Are you seeing a theme with her choice in subject?  She loves her rats.

We have really enjoyed working with the lessons in this book each week and it has quickly become one of Ashleigh's favorite subjects each week.  We will continue to work through the book and I can't wait to see how her techniques change as she completes each of Brenda Ellis's video lessons.

For more information on ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and the wide range of Art curriculum available for all grades and skill levels, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArtisticPursuitsInc 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ARTisticPursui1

And be sure to click the banner below to read reviews by other crew members on the first four books from this series. 
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Picket Project (Post 4)

It's the 10th of May and Picket has now been in our lives for a month and what an impact she has made on our lives in that month.  It amazes me that we have been granted the opportunity to help care for this creature and each day she is here with us is a blessing to us all.

Picket is still drinking goats milk and growing like a weed on it.  We no longer bother with a pippette and have resorted to allowing her to just drink out of a measuring cup.  She drinks roughly 1/2 a cup of goats milk three times a day.  However, once we finished her initial dosings of Bene-Bac, we did begin her on solid foods and offering fresh water.  She has been given a good amount of both Timothy and Orchard hay, along with Alfalfa treats but she really seems to like fresh broccoli and bananas more than anything.  She's also nibbled on apples but she doesn't seem that thrilled with them.  She does enjoy dried sweet potatoes quite a bit as well.

Also, our cat carrier was getting a bit too small for her, especially if we wanted her to be able to stretch her legs out, so we did spend a bit of money and bought a hutch for her to reside in.  This was well worth the money, even if it's temporary, as she seems much happier.

However, she would much rather be allowed to just sit in our windowsill at night.  

Or, if she's not int the windowsill, she's enjoying spending time with us snuggling on our bed..  We've learned to move our bedding off the bed and lay cheap plastic shower curtain liner with a small blanket on the bed so that she can be given free rein without worrying about bunny "accidents".. Both can be tossed into the washer machine as needed.

But without a doubt, her favorite spot is still right on my chest..  

Or curled up on our laps so she can take a snooze.

We have been told by many people who have had experience with hares that they are very standoffish and do not like to be cuddled or petted except on rare occasions.  As of now, she still enjoys being handled and will jump up on our laps or into our arms for attention.  If you ignore her, she will sit up on her hind legs and scratch at you with her front paws to get your attention. 

She loves to be held, so long as you make sure her rump is supported.. 

While she's always had big ears, they have grown significantly over the last few weeks.  The thicker fur that was initially on the back of them thinned out and eventually fell out, and her curled ears unfurled leaving behind a very fine fur over very leathery, heavily veined satellite dishes.  She LOVES to have her ears rubbed and will often fall asleep on your lap if you gently rub her ears down her back.

We understand that she's only ours for a short time.  But let me tell you, being this close to a wild animal is a pretty neat experience.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Classical Composition 1: Fable Set (A Homeschool Crew Review)

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you'll know there are a handful of Homeschool Curriculum companies that I really enjoy and feel are leaders in the field.  Memoria Press would be one of those vendors.  We absolutely love their Latin curriculum and Ashleigh has done really well with it so when we were offered a chance to review Classical Composition 1: Fable Set, I thought it might be a good option for Ashleigh, since she enjoys Aesop's fables.

About Memoria Press

A family run company, Memoria Press aims to produce easy to use classical Christian Education material for both homeschool and private school situations.  Using a educational philosophy that focuses on training in liberal arts as well as familiarity with the great books and great thinkers of the Western tradition, Memoria Press believes a true Classical Christian education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue though meditation on the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

Memoria Press overs a wide variety of subject material for grades K-12.  From Latin and Greek to Math, Penmanship and Language Arts, Memoria Press provides quality curriculum in a format that can be trusted to uphold Biblical beliefs while offering challenging material throughout your students educational career.

Classical Composition 1: Fable Set

The Classical Composition 1: Fable Set is written by James A. Selby and is for grades 4-12th. The set consists of three components:

Classical Composition 1: Fable DVD set - This 4 DVD set contains video instruction taught by Dr. Brett Vaden, an instructor at the Highlands Latin School and the Memoria Press Online Academy. Each DVD contains 5 lessons, for a total of 20 lessons of video instruction total.

Classical Composition 1: Fable Student Book - This 101 page spiral bound softback workbook contains both the reading selection as well as the written assignments for each weeks lesson.  Lessons are broken into 6 sections:

1.) An individual Aesop fable that the student will be focusing on for the assignment

2.) Plot Components - Students focus on the plot components: Recognition, Reversal, and Suffering.  Students must identify and give examples of these plot components from the reading selection.

3.) Variations - Each lesson contains two Variations exercises that are used to teach students how to
paraphrase both words and sentences by first identifying synonyms for given words from the reading selection and then using those synonyms to rewrite sentences from the same selection.

4.)  Outline - Students begin to identify plot structure from the reading by summarizing what they have read in the form of a structured but abbreviated outline by giving a basic account of the sentences used in the reading.

5.) Paraphrase - Students are asked to paraphrase the lesson reading twice in this portion of the lesson.  In the first paraphrase, the student tries to rewrite the fable as near to the original as possible.  They will then write the fable a second time, using their outline to write a more abbreviated version of the story.

6.) Final Draft - Using one of the two paraphrase activities, students can be asked to practice proofreading and correcting by creating a final, polished writing.

Classical Composition 1: Fable Teacher Guide - 101 Page Spiral Bound softback book provides sample answers for each of the 20 lessons, as well as offers both teaching and grading tips and guidance for assisting with the curriculum.

How We Used It:

Fable is the initial curriculum for the Memoria Press Classical Composition Series. This series focuses on the Greek ideology of learning called progymnasmata, which used rhetoric activities in order to teach composition.  Memoria Press's author James A. Selby is one of the leaders in using this method of learning to teach students compositional writing. 

Garrett isn't quite ready for this type of a curriculum, so I knew that I would be using this exclusively with Ashleigh.  Ashleigh is always up for something a bit challenging so I knew this would be perfect for her, but I also knew that it would be something we would use at a slower than recommended pace.  Because of this, we worked on one lesson over the course of two weeks.  This gave Ashleigh enough time to work on the larger sections of the lesson, such as the outline and paraphrase assignments, without feeling overwhelmed.

We started each week by watching the video lesson, so Ashleigh was able to watch each lesson twice during the course of the two weeks.  She liked Dr Vaden well enough and by watching the DVD lesson, I knew that she was being presented the lesson the way Memoria Press feels is proper, rather than Mom bumbling her way through it.  This took the pressure off me, allowing me to also focus on the lesson being taught by Dr Vaden, so that when we got to the workbook, I would have a better idea of how to instruct her if necessary. However, the structure of the lessons are pretty repetitive and easy to follow, so once Ashleigh understood what was expected from her, she basically could do much of it with little instruction from me.

The curriculum is a good one. It is well written, easy to follow and the structure seems as if it accomplishes the goal of teaching students how to paraphrase and rewrite passages they read.

#hsreviews  #memoriapress  #classicalchristianeducation  #classicalyhomeschooling  #PRODUCTNAME  #classicalchristianhomeschooling  #memoriapresscursive

For more information about Memoria Press and the Classical Composition series, visit their website. You can also find more information on the following social media platforms:

While Ashleigh and I worked on Classical Composition 1: Fables, members of the Crew were given the option to review not only Classical Composition 1 and 2, but also Traditional Logic 1 and 2 and also New American Cursive. Be sure to click the banner below to read those reviews and see if Memoria Press is right for your student.

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Critical Thinking Co.™ (A Homeschool Crew Review)

One of the reasons I continue to homeschool my students is because it seems these days, students are taught the various tests that they must take to graduate from public schools.  This means they are expected to memorize and regurgitate a large amount of material, but they never really learn that material, much less learn to analyze the information and dig deeper into what that information means in both practical and real-life situations.

The Critical Thinking Co. understands that students need to develop their critical thinking skills in addition to just memorizing information.  Members of the crew have been reviewing their choice of 6 different workbooks from The Critical Thinking Co. with their students to work on these valuable skills.  Our family chose to review Dare to Compare Level 1, which asks students to use mathematical calculations to make comparisons and come to an ultimate decision to answer complicated word problem.

About The Critical Thinking Co.

Established in 1958, The Critical Thinking Co. has set a goal of producing award-winning products that help students to achieve better academic results as they sharpen their reading, writing, math, science and history skills while improving their critical thinking abilities.  By creating lessons that require the student to analyze what they are reading and learning, their hopes is that students improve both their grades as well as test scores as they learn to analyze information and use higher critical thinking skills to apply that information to their classwork and lives.  The Critical Thinking Co. does not believe in drill and memorization but instead believe that the development of these critical thinking skills produces better results.

About Dare to Compare Level 1

Written for students Grades 4-5, Dare to Compare Level 1 is a 96-page digital download book that contains 50 pages of word problems as well as pages of hints and solutions for each of the problems.  (A physical workbook is also available for purchase for those who prefer.) Pages are in black/white greyscale format, making the workbook both easy and cost-efficient to print.

The digital workbook does require downloading an executable file to your computer running Windows 7, 8 or 10.  Currently, it is only available for the Windows OS but a Mac OS X version is currently in the works. 

To access the workbook, the executable file must be installed a serial number for proof of purchase must be entered to register the file.  Once installed and registered, simply click the icon to open the workbook and pages can be printed from the program.

Each problem is designed in such a way that students must work multiple steps to derive the answers necessary and then compare those answers to each other.  For example, the student might be asked to determine which jar has the most volume, but students must first determine the volume when they are told how much volume must be added to fill the jar.

Other questions might as for students to compare distances traveled by multiple vehicles at different speeds, to compare the square area of two pieces of land or to figure out the prices of items purchased.  Altogether, there are 150 individual questions for students to solve.

Since we are working with the digital version of the workbook, I was able to simply print out a few pages from the workbook each week and then we would work each problem out together, step by step, on our dry erase board.  We found this worked really well for us, as I could give the kids the dry erase marker and have them talk their way through working out the problems.

Dare to Compare Level 1 is considered a supplement and that's exactly how we decided to use it.  One could easily work through the workbook starting with the first question and then working straight to question 150 or you could pick and choose questions to coincide with current lessons for reinforcement of the material or even past lessons for a review.

Since Garrett and Ashleigh are currently learning Multiplication and Division, I tried to focus more on questions that focused on those particular skills.

On this particular problem, the kids had to calculate the total length of three wooden fences  and then determine which fence had the longest perimeter.

I've been very happy including these questions as part of math drills for the kids each day and the kids seem to enjoy them just as much.  Ashleigh has even said that they are "fun" and this is the kid who hates math almost as much as her mother does.  I really like how each question has multiple parts to it, making the kids actually think about what they have to do to figure out the final answer.  Overall, it's a great workbook to work on math skills and at a price of $10.59 (for either the digital or paperback version), it's a solid investment for a great math supplement.

#TheCriticalThinkingCo #HSReviews

For more information about The Critical Thinking Co. be sure to visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media sites:

Also, The Critical Thinking Co. has a few special offers that I would like to bring to your attention.

Free Critical Thinking Puzzles!
This is a great way to "test drive" materials from The Critical Thinking Co.
 and get a good feel for them.  By signing up and choosing a grade level between PreK through Grade 8, you can have Free Critical Thinking Puzzles delivered to your inbox weekly.  This is a $75 Value! Sign Up at:

Special Offer from CriticalThinking.com!
Second, readers can get Free Shipping + 15% Off Any Size Order!  Simply use the coupon code: TOSCREW18 to get both discounts. This coupon expires on 12/31/2018.

While we reviewed Dare to Compare Level 1, members of the Crew were allowed to select their review item from 6 different selections that cover a large variety of subjects for all grade levels. Be sure to click the banner below to read the other Crew reviews today.

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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