Monday, August 13, 2018

Branch Out World (A Homeschool Review Crew)

For one full week, the kids and I worked on the Paddington Bear  literary study from Branch Out World.

About Branch Out World

Branch Out World is a business based in West Yorkshire, UK started by a homeschool family who wanted to share their love of great children's literature with other homeschool families by creating unit studies for other parents to share with their children.  While all their studies feature books that have some sort of tie to the UK (written by a UK author, the setting is in the UK, ect), these studies feature selections that any child will love.   

About the Paddington Bear Literary Study

For this review, we received a PDF digital version of the Paddington Bear study.  This 69 page study
takes up 4.4MB of space and is suggested for students aged 5-10 years old.  This study uses the picture book Paddington (not to be confused with the chapter book A Bear Called Paddington) written by Michael Bond and illustrated by R.W. Alley.

In addition to the picture book, the study also suggests other resources to use during the course of the study.  While our library was limited, we found a really nice book to use to learn about Peru as well as the chapter book that the picture book was based on.

This lit study takes 5 days to complete (although this can easily be expanded to a longer study period by following rabbit holes).  Each day, students read the story and then focus on one aspect of the story:

Day 1 – Exploring the Setting
Day 2 – Exploring the Words
Day 3 – Exploring the Pictures
Day 4 – Exploring Science
Day 5 - Exploring Maths, Crafts & More

All maps, print outs and instructions are included with the study, which also includes a lapbooking project.   This particular study contains 30 different activities covering a wide variety of topics.

How We Used It

Day 1 invites students to explore the setting of the book where they learn about England where the story takes place, as well as Peru in South America, where Paddington Bear was from.  I really enjoyed teaching the kids this particular lesson because it covered migration and about what Push and Pull factors were in regards to migration.  This lesson also included both map work as well as a research activity over both England and Peru.  Finally, we learned about when the story was written and discussed other historical events that were happening at the same time.

 Day 2 has students focusing on vocabulary words used in the story that they might not already be familiar with.  We also learned about the author, Michael Bond.  The kids were really shocked to find out he wrote the book 60 years ago but he died only last year.

In addition to learning about the author, we also discussed themes covered in this book.  Being an Air Force family, one of the things the kids have learned is "Service Before Self" - so they quickly recognized the theme of "helping others" and they were able to tell me many examples of characters in the book helping others.

Finally, on this day, there was a discussion in regards to how dialect affects the way an author might write a character speaking in their books.  In the book, a taxi driver says "Bears IS extra" instead of "bears are extra".. The kids thought this was hilarious and I have been hearing "bears is extra" ever since. 

Day three focused on the illustration aspect of the story.  We learned a bit about illustrator R.W. Alley and then the kids took time to study one of his drawings from the book and then try to remember minute details of the illustration. 

They also learned about Victorian style architecture and some of the details that were used in that style, such as balusters, fenestrations, lancets, and quoins.   The final portion of this days lesson focused on art techniques which Ashleigh enjoyed but Garrett, who hates to draw, decided to sit out for.

By Day Four, the kids were reciting portions of the book to me while I was reading.  This particular lesson focused on science.  Ashleigh really enjoyed learning about the Spectacled (Andean) bear which is the only bear found in Peru. Because the kids knew that Paddington had come from "Darkest Peru", they deduced that Paddington must be a Spectacled bear. Ashleigh, however, was quick to point out that Paddington looked nothing like a Spectacled Bear which brought us down a rabbit hole in regards to artistic license.

This paricular day had a few experiments, one that discussed the various properties of shaving cream. Two other experiments involved making both an edible and non edible foam.  The edible was a meringue made from eggs and sugar.  The kids have helped to make meringue on a few different occasions when helping make pies so we were going to make the non-edible version, which uses yeast, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring.  However, we were disappointed to find that we were completely out of both yeast and peroxide, so we ended up skipping this experiment as well.   We did, however, have fun writing our names in the condensation on the mirror while learning about steam.

Day 5 focuses on simple math skills, such as drawing parallel and perpendicular lines as well as grouping and numbers.  The kids already know these skills very well, so we did skip those particular activities. Instead we focused on learning more about Tablas de Sarhua.  This turned out to be a really cool rabbit hole for the kids.  We found several videos and photographs and learned a lot about the history of these painted boards.

Each day, the kids worked on various activities, whether it was mapwork and coloring flags or putting components into their lapbook.

Overall, this was a really neat little unit study that introduced the children to many things that they hadn't been exposed to before, such as the architecture  elements and the Tablas de Sarhua.

#hsreviews #BOWresources #projectfuntolearn #PictureBookExplorers

For more information about the different offerings of literary studies from Branch Out World, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find more information at the following social media platforms:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BranchOutWorld
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/belzibow
Instagram: www.instagram.com/belzibow 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/belzibow

Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Picket Project

We have a new banner for the Picket Project.  There's not much point to having anything about release  when Picket is perfectly happy where she's at with no desire to go out the door.  So, instead, the Picket Project will instead focus on the adventures of her growing up.

Today is Picket's birthday, btw.  Well, not her annual birthday, but her monthly birthday. At least, we suspect it is, although it could have been yesterday.  Either way, she is now officially three months old. Tomorrow will be her three month "Gotcha" day, making it three months since I found her in the middle of the road.  To celebrate, I gave her a nice piece of banana which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Today was also a shopping day to pick up some staples for her.. This included a box of grape tomatoes (her absolute favorite) a bag of mini peppers, a bunch of bok choy, and bananas (she was given a pice of one and the rest are being made into banana chips for her).   The raisins are for my kombucha that I'm brewing - she can't have them as they are high in sugar but aren't nutritionally dense.  And I needed some diet coke and almond milk, so those aren't for her..  But, this is what a typical bunny food run looks like.. (I had run out of tomatoes yesterday and she made it clear she was NOT happy with that fact!!) I'm sure she was disappointed to see that there also were not any gummy worms in the basket when I got home either.. lol

This is what a bunny salad typically looks like.. Lots of cilantro and parsley on top of a mixed bed of romaine and bok choy, sometimes some kale, along with a mini pepper, a couple of grape tomatoes and a small amount of pellets.  The key is to keep foods that are high in sugar or calcium down to a minimum as sugar is unnecessary and calcium can build up in their bladder causing what is known as bladder sludge.    This above is a typically day meal for her to nibble on all evening along with tons of fresh hay.

Ever heard of a bunny flop??  Well, THIS is a bunny flop!!!

Excuse my mess, I was sitting on the floor folding laundry and I had to hide my empty coffee cup from the lil turkey because she likes to try to drink my coffee.. Even without coffee in the cup, she will lick the inside of the cup hoping to get some of the residue.  LOL

After the bunny flop comes the bunny 500..  This has been really hard to get a video of as Picket LOVES the camera and will come running to me every time I try to video her.. LOL    Case in point, I tend to get a lot of videos that feature close ups of Picket's nose..

I did, however, manage to get a video of the Bunny 500 using a GoPro.  After watching this video, you'll understand why I had to hide my coffee cup from the bunny!!!  Trust me, she doesn't need any  caffeine. 

If you notice on my bed, we keep a table cloth over our bedding (not that it does much good when she starts the 500 laps).. Hopefully we will be able to start working toward potty training Picket to use a litter box, making the need to cover the bed unnecessary.  She has already shown signs of being ready to learn to use the box, so we will be starting that with her in the next week or so.

She has also learned, much like the other animals in this house, that sitting next to mom's bed and looking sweet equates to treats..  I had to laugh when I saw this view next to my bed.. All of them waiting on treats..  I keep bags of pet treats on my bookshelf next to the bed - they all know that's where treats are and that starting at me ends up getting rewarded.  LOL 

Picket has been given more free reign of the house lately, however, she is very uncomfortable with the tile on the floors in the hallway, so she tends to avoid walking on those if at all possible.. Most of the time, she goes straight from her hutch to my bedroom where there's plenty of carpet and she feels secure..  But she does like to venture to the living room and has made herself at home on the lounge chair.

She's also become quite attached to my husband.  If he comes into the bedroom and leaves and shuts the door, both her and Kenny will sit there and start at the door until he comes back.

And she's always gotta have her kissed from her daddy when he comes home from work..

And she will scratch on his back if he doesn't pay attention to her right away.

Of course, she always gets what she wants!! 

So for this weeks Jack Rabbit lesson, I thought I would show you why Picket is called a black tail jackrabbit.   When observing a black tailed jack rabbit, they tend to keep their tail held upright, against their rump, especially when they feel threatened.  It helps them to blend in with the desert brush.  Fortunately, Picket almost never keeps her tail tight, so it was very hard for me to get a photograph showing it.  Instead, I had to wait til she was asleep and position the tail for a photo. But you can see that the fur looks very coarse and prickly (although it isn't) and would blend in with desert brush very easily.   The fur of this side of the tail is called Agouti, which is pretty much the same as the rest of her body (exception being her belly which is a creamy white color and the tips of her ears which is black). 

 However, the top side (dorsal side) of her tail is a mix of agouti along with a very dark stripe of black. Starting at the tip of the tail, this strip of black goes up to the start of her rump and then abruptly ends.  Outside of her ear tips, this is the only black on her. 

Here's a photo that shows not only the black tips of her ears but also the abrupt end of the black strip at her rump.
And that is why they are called black tailed jack rabbits.  There is also a white tailed jack here in the United States that has, as you can imagine, a white tail.  They are much bigger in size then Picket will get (and not nearly as cute lol)

White tailed Jackrabbit (picture from Wikipedia)
 Adult white tails weigh between 5-10lbs where Picket will end up weighing in somewhere between 3-6lbs.  White tailed Jackrabbits are also get a bit longer, being close to 30 inch from nose to rump where Picket will only be around 24 inches.

She's still got some growing to do :)
Well, there is the latest update on our favorite bunny girlie.  I should end this now because she has shown great patience in waiting while I write this, however, she keeps letting me know that I need to put the computer down so she can lay on my chest for her nap.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Weekend Meal Planning

Do you find menu planning to be a hassle?   Or are you like me and look forward to cooking new foods and actually enjoy sitting down and browsing recipes to find cool stuff to make?  I really do like meal planning, I just wish I had much more money to budget for meals so that we could eat more steak and seafood.. I mean, wOW if I could cook beef multiple times in the course of two weeks..

This time around, I'm shopping for 12 days.  I'll be using the crock pot quite a bit this time around as well, as it has been HOT here in the desert (temps up to 112) and I hate heating up the house with the oven if I don't have to.  Also, Alyssa is picking her own recipes to make every Thursday as that is now her day to cook.

Monday (8/6)
Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing with green beans and carrots

Tuesday (8/7)
Crockpot taco soup

Wednesday (8/8)
Crockpot Pierogi Casserole with Kelbasa

Thursday (8/9)
Breakfast Lasagna

Friday (8/10)
Stuffed Shells with Salad and broccoli

Saturday (8/11)
Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl

Sunday (8/12)
Pizza Paninis with salad and chips

Monday (8/13)
Bacon spaghetti aglio olio with salad

Tuesday (8/14)
Cheesy Taco Casserole with mexican corn

Wednesday (8/15)
Crock Pot Pork and Vegetable Lo Mein

Thursday (8/16)
Cheeseburger Tater Tot casserole

Friday (8/17)
Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Project Passport: Ancient Egypt (A Homeschool Crew Review)

A few weeks ago, the kids and I began tackling the Project Passport: Ancient Egypt unit study from Home School in the Woods.  If you will recall earlier this year, we did a review on the folder game "Tomb Dash!" which was one of the stand-alone Á La Carte  products from Home School in the Woods.  The kids didn't do that well with the trivia that went along with the game when we reviewed it back in March.  The folder game as well as the trivia questions are part of the larger Ancient Egypt study and the kids (especially Ashleigh) wanted to do this particular unit because they want to be able to beat their older sister at "Tomb Dash!".  As luck would have it, we were given the opportunity to review it :)

The Ancient Egypt study, like each of the studies in the Project Passport World History Studies, is designed to take your student on a fully immersive trip through various "stops".  Each of these stops focuses on one particular aspect of Egyptian history such as the hierarchy of Egyptian government, Egyptian weapons and warfare, the Pharaohs and their dynasties, everyday life, culture and religious beliefs of the time.
The Egyptian study contains 25 individual stops.  At each of these stops, a short narration is provided
that introduces the student to the material for the topic.  This narration, called the "Guide Book Text", is between 2-4 pages, depending on the topic and is written like a script that a travel guide would give to an audience.  While very factual, it's written in an entertaining manner instead of in a textbook format.   After listening to the reading for the stop, students then work on different activities that reinforce what they learned about in the text.  A few stops even have Audio Tours where students listen to an included MP3 file where a "field guild" describes events or locations as if an actual visit was taking place.

In addition to the text and activities, an included Travel Itinerary in included for each stop and contains the instructions for completing each of the projects .   From a teacher standpoint, this is one of my favorite things about this curriculum as I can print this out and use it as a check off to make sure that I have covered everything necessary. The itinerary lets me know  when the kids need to add a location on their maps or add an event to their timeline, as well as what needs to be printed out for the stop's activities. 

When using the digital downloadable version of the Project Passport, the entire curriculum is downloaded directly into a file on the computer.  A file entitled "Start.html" allows the user to click on the link and have the entire curriculum load up as a webpage in your default browser.  The Digital Edition is entirely browser based - once the files are downloaded you do not have to have an internet connection as all files are located on your computer.   Each of these files are saved as PDF's on your computer and are extremely easy to access and print out for binders.  The entire file for the Ancient Egypt study only took up 323 MB of hard drive space.  However, for those who prefer a physical copy of the unit study, Home School in the Woods does provide the option of ordering a physical CD. 

One of the major highlights of using this particular study unit is that your student will end up with a binder of projects that resembled a scrapbook project more than the typical lapbook often seen with a more hands on project, making it something that students will cherish more than other projects.  However, there is also a lapbook component for those who really enjoy doing them. The drawback to this is this also means that your printer will get a workout as there are many components that have to be printed for each stop, using various different paper if one wishes to really make this a unique project.  It should also be taken into account that the volume of printing is doubled when using this unit study with multiple students, as each one is going to want to make their own projects.  Some projects also use specialty materials, such as crafting foam  Scissors and glue (or glue sticks) are an absolute necessity.  There are so many wonderful projects your student will make while learning about Ancient Egypt.  Students will remember what a Nemes headdress or a Hyksos chariot much easier when they make their own. 

How We Used It:

The Project Passport studies have always been a huge hit in our household so everyone was really excited when they found out we were going to be reviewing the Ancient Egypt study.  We had gone earlier this year to see the King Tut display here in Los Angeles which whet everyone's whistle for all things pyramids and mummies.

The kids are use to doing map work that goes along with any Project Passport study.  However, they had a bit of a surprise this time when they were learning about the rich, fertile black soil that is distributed along the banks of the Nile river. They thought I lost my mind when I told them to put glue along the River and then sprinkle black pepper on their map to represent the soil.   This has been a laugh for them every time they do map work and was a nice unexpected touch.

Another aspect of Project Passport that the kids have come to expect is the "Snapshot Moments in History".  This is a visual timeline that the kids fill out with each lesson so that they can have a visual representation of how each event they learn about falls.

This is an activity that the kids actually share, rather than each having their own timeline.  They take turns finding the event and gluing the graphic into the timeline.  We decided to do it this way rather than each kids having their own because it makes Garrett actually read and find the proper place rather than just copying his sister ;)

Ashleigh's favorite project so far was the activity about Egyptian fashion where she was able to color and design her own paper dolls.  She even created articles of clothing using colored tissue paper.  She also colored the men's fashions using the gold and blue color scheme that she remembered from our King Tut visit.

One thing that is always popular with the kids when we work through a Project Passport study is the day we cook a meal using the included recipes.  Now that the kids are a bit older and are more familiar with the kitchen, they helped picked the menu from the recipes supplied and then had their hand at cooking up some Egyptian food.  While I worked on the Aish Baladi (bread) and Ful Medames (beans), the kids worked on the Cucumber Chickpea salad and the Kofta (meat).  A bit of hummus to spread on the Aish Baladi and we had a really nice meal.  The bread was very popular with everyone, especially considering it was a wheat bead and was still soft, and it has already been requested for future meals. My husband really liked the salad and wants that as a repeat as well.   There are other recipes included and we will probably revisit this particular project to whip up a few of the other recipes.

Another thing that was really neat for us for this particular study was that we were able to take the things that we wear learning and then put it with the visit that we had to the King Tut display.  For example, when we went to the display, we were able to see many of the items that were found in King Tut's tomb.  However, beyond just a general description of what the item was there wasn't any information that explained anything.  Two of these items that we were able to see was a bed as well as some head rests.  They were not displayed together, nor were they even in the same areas of the display.

King Tut's Bed
King Tut's Headrest
While we thought the bed was really neat when we saw it, we didn't put these two items together. However, when we were working on Stop #3, it talked about the fact that the beds were elevated at one end and that rather than a pillow, they used a headrest.  Prior to reading this, we thought that the board on the bed was a headboard but it was a foot board with the head elevated.  We all failed to put the two items together and we also failed to realize that the head of the bed was elevated.

Another item that we saw that we were able to immediately able to coincide with the study was the discussion about Egyptian fashion and the wearing of Pectorals. One of the activities for in Stop #3 was "Dress Like an Egyptian (Boy)" which had directions to create an Egyptian outfit which included a Pectoral necklace.

Dress Like an Egyptian (Boy) Crafts for Stop #3
My kids IMMEDIATELY recognized the pectoral as being the solar falcon pectoral that we saw at the Tut display.  The kids can't wait to make this (and the dress like an Egyptian girl project) but we had to skip it at the time we covered it because we couldn't get to town to get the foam needed for the girls craft. 

Even more than just the fashions, the kids have found themselves recognizing things that they have seen from the Tut exhibit as they are covered in the Study.   In Step #4, the kids learned how to play the game Senet.   This really made their day, because they saw a Senet game at the museum and they asked me how to it was played but I honestly didn't know.  And they were able to create their own senet game and play on their own.

King Tut's Senet set

Home School in the Woods Senet Game
In Stop #5, the kids have been learning about the process of mummification and the use of Canopic jars.  On Friday they will be making a craft where they design their own canopic jars out of modeling clay and dixie cups and while I doubt ours will look anything like Tut's, it was cool that they have seen the stopper and coffinette for Tut's canopic jars.

While we still have a long way before we get to Stop #21, I am looking forward to reaching it with the kids because that Stop focuses on Tutankhaten.  But just having the experience of seeing the various artifacts from the Ancient Egyptian time period and then learning more about those items with this Project Passport study has been a very neat experience for the kids.

In the past, we have kept all our activities and map work in a three ring binder.  However, this time
around, the kids have been using the lapbook variation.  Directions for assembly is included with the digital download of the study.  We have really enjoyed this variation rather than the binder because the kids can keep all their work in their own file folder and they can also glue the lapbook components into the folder to keep track of them.  They each colored their own cover picture so they can quickly recognize their own fold and keep track of their own work rather than Mom keeping track of the work and passing it back out to the kids. 

This curriculum can definitely be used as a stand alone curriculum to study a particular time period, but it's very easy to add supplemental materials to the lessons to expand even further and reinforce what is being learned.    Books and videos can easily be added in with the lessons with each "Stop" and Home School in the Woods also provides a list of resources that offer suggestions on materials that can help to supplement the unit study.  It covers a large amount of material while keeping the journey fun and interesting while they learn.  I know that when we reach Stop #24 and the kids revisit "Tomb Dash!", they will do much better than they had done earlier this year (and will most likely beat their older sister as well!!). 

#hsreviews #historystudies #worldhistory #americanhistory #historytimelines #historycurriculum
Home School in the Woods offers a very wide variety of history study units, from Ancient history, US History, Elections, and even Geography.  To find out more information, visit their website. You can can also find Home School in the Woods at the following social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homeschoolinthewoods
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HSintheWoods
G+: https://plus.google.com/+Homeschoolinthewoods
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hsinthewoods/

Members of the Crew were offered the opportunity to review many of the various products Home School in the Woods offers.  In addition to the various Project Passport World History Studies offerings, you can read reviews for Hands-on History Lap-Paks, Time Travelers American History,
Hands-on History Activity-Paks, Hands-on History Activity Studies, and many of the À La Carte Timelines.  Be sure to click the banner below and read the rest of the reviews to find a product to start today :)

Also, Home School in the Woods has recently released a brand new Project Passport study, the Ancient Rome pack.  Topics include: kings and legends of early Rome, the Roman Republic, the rise and fall of an Empire, everyday life, business, law, philosophy, education, oration, literature, science, medicine, arts, architecture, transportation, religion, warfare, emperors, the Pax Romana, invasions, the beginnings of Christianity, and much more! Suggested grades: 3-8
Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

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