Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning (Late Edition)

I totally forgot to post the weekend meal plan on Sunday and only thought of it as I'm sitting here listening to the music of my bread machine making another wonderful loaf of bread - French today.  Yesterday I made a really nice loaf of olive oil and garlic bread to go with tomato soup. 

Nothing says home, family and love to me like the smell of baking bread.   I absolutely love my bread machine and I use it pretty regularly and my family is always excited when they hear the whirl of the paddle as it mixes up whatever dough I've decided to make that day.   It's actually my second bread machine - the first one I received in 1994 and used it until Nov of 2017.  It was getting worn out and Charles bought me a new one that was a Black Friday deal.  I hope it lasts just as long, with just as much loaves and love as the old one. 

Last week, I changed up one of the meals and we had Sesame Beef with broccoli and green bean stir-fry with rice instead of the Chicken Florentine so that's why the chicken dish is repeated.

Our menu for this week

Sunday - Burgers with potato wedges and spinach and strawberry salad

Monday - Tortellini Tomato Soup with Italian green salad and olive oil garlic bread

Tuesday -  Chicken Florentine with spaghetti and french bread

Wednesday -  Rotisserie Chicken with butter beans, turnip/mustard greens and mac and cheese

Thursday -  Tater Tot Casserole with corn and salad

Friday -   Chicken Parmesan Crescents  with broccoli and salad

Saturday -  Out to Eat

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Exploring Creation with General Science (A Homeschool Crew Review)

For the last few years, the kids have worked their way through the various science courses offered by Apologia for the elementary grade level.  They have loved learning about botany, astronomy, anatomy and physiology, and zoology with the Young Explorer series.   Now that they are a bit older, it was the perfect time for us to move up to the next level of their science learning and begin the middle school level.

I had already had my eyes on Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition to use with
the kids.  This course was designed to give middle school students a strong understanding of general sciences as they transition from the elementary courses, creating a solid platform of knowledge for them to build upon as they progress thru middle school and on to high school science courses, all with a Christian worldview.

The course is written by Sherri Seligson, who also wrote the Apologia curriculum Exploring Creation with Marine Biology.  It is written for a middle school level, preferably 7th grade level, although for this review I am using it with my two students who are 5th/6th grade but are very advanced in their science knowledge.

For this review, we were given the General Science Basic Set, which included the textbook, one student notebook, the solutions and test manual and the test booklet.   I purchased a second copy of the student notebook in order to use this curriculum with both Garrett and Ashleigh, as each student needs to have their own copy of the student notebook.

First, let me take a few moments to describe the books.


The first book is the hardback textbook.  This 434 page full color textbook features 14 modules that cover a large portion of general science teaching.  

Each module focuses on one aspect of science and builds upon itself. For example, the first module introduce the history of science and how scientists use research from those before them to pursue their own findings.  The next few modules then introduce the students in how to follow the scientific method to perform their own research, how to document and how to interpret the results they find.  Each of these steps are important to them as they perform their own experiments as they proceed thru the rest of the book. 

The fourteen modules are : 

Module 1 - The History of Science 
Module 2 - Scientific Inquiry and the Scientific Method
Module 3 - Documenting and Interpreting Experimental Results
Module 4 - Scientific Analysis and History
Module 5 - Earth Science - Astronomy
Module 6 - Earth Science - Geology and Paleontology
Module 7 - Earth Science - Meteorology and Oceanography
Module 8 - General Chemistry 
Module 9 - General Physics
Module 10 - Life Science
Module 11 - General Biology 
Module 12 - Marine Science
Module 13 - Environmental Science 
Module 14 - Science and Creation

The end of the book also contains pages for quick reference for lab supplies (listed first by module and then by experiment - making it super easy to plan ahead for experiments) as well as a index for looking up names and topics quickly. 

Each module takes roughly 2-2.5 weeks to complete when working at a pace of roughly 45-60 minutes a day for 4 days a week, allowing completion of all 14 modules in a 33 week school year.  Depending on your personal school year and pace, this is easily modified to fit the curriculum into your own personal school year. 

Modules contain a wide variety of activities for the students to work on.  A number of recommended experiments are included throughout each module that should be completed for the curriculum. Additional "Explore More" boxes are also included and while are not necessary to complete for the curriculum, they do help the student to better understand the concept being taught. 

The text is chocked full of colorful photography and illustrations which visually hold the students interest as well as present concepts as more than just text on paper.   Photographs and graphics are
clear and vibrant with an appealing layout, breaking material down in such a way as to not be overwhelming to the student and in terminology that the student can understand.  Relevant vocabulary words as well as definitions are clearly marked out in blue color to point out there importance to the lesson (and to hint that it will probably be on the test.).   I wish I had a copy of Edition 1 or Edition 2 to compare to the corresponding pages in Edition 3 - however, I can say that the quality of the textbook is very nicely done and is very professional.

Also, like every other Apologia textbook, this edition of General Science includes the password to register your book with the website. Doing so gives you access to additional resources that can be used with the course.

Student Notebook

The Student Notebook is a 552 page, softcover spiral bound companion book for the text and is required for the course.  The notebook provides activities that accompany the text, such as easy to understand graphics for labeling, fill in the blank portions for note taking while reading, vocabulary portions for new concepts, and questions for critical thinking.   

The notebook also provides sections for each of the various experiments found in the text where students work on documenting  their hypothosis, procedures, and results.   

While some experiments are recorded in the portion for the module, it should also be noted that some of the other experiments, those that ask the student to use the scientific method (creating a hypothosis, documenting equipment used, ect) is recorded in pages toward the back of the student notebook.  

Also included in the student notebook is a full schedule to show their daily assignments and as well as a section to keep track of their grades. Students can check off their assignments daily to stay on track and also provides a visual reminder of what needs to be completed each day.

Solutions and Test Manual/Tests

An 83 page black and white softcover book containing the correct answers for the study guides as well as the answers for the tests for 13 modules (module 14 does not include a test and so does not need a study guide).  The manual also includes how much to weigh each question when grading the tests to acquire an accurate grade to record.

Also included with the manual is the test for each module (again, minus module 14).  This is a 31 page packet containing the tests to be given without answers.   Each page is perforated if the preference is to remove the test from the packet or the entire packet  can be given to the student for them to complete.

Also available for this science curriculum is an MP3 Audio CD which contains the complete audio recording of the course. A video lesson thumb drive containing video lessons taught by Sherri Seligson is also available with this course, however, members of the crew did not review these two items at this time.

How We Used It:

This was a curriculum that I was super excited to be given the opportunity to review because I was already considering purchasing it to use this year with Ashleigh and Garrett.  Both of my kids LOVE all things science and were ready to move on to a more advanced curriculum then what we had currently been using. 

We have been using the recommended schedule of working through the curriculum 4 days a week (Mon-Thursday).  We have completed two modules and will begin the third module this week.  This includes all reading, activities, and experiments as well as completion of the study guides and two module tests.

We appreciate the Christian worldview that Apologia sciences presents to the kids - and while we don't agree with everything  (for example, we do not adhere to the young earth theory that some Christian science courses hold as truth), I am always happy to present them with a science that reflects our belief in Creation versus being slugs that drug ourselves out of some cosmic ooze.  I ESPECIALLY appreciated the fact that this book approaches the fact that all science, including this book, approach science with a particular worldview that they belief and that it is up to the students to recognize the worldview and how it affects the scientific data being presented.

I was a bit hesitant when it came to the student notebook with Garrett - he hates writing and typically whines and cries when he has to write anything.  However, it seems that Garrett is so interested in the material being presented, he doesn't seem to mine filling out his notebook each day.  He also looks forward to finishing the work each day so that he can make a check in the box on his schedule, giving him a sense of accomplishment and completion. 

Since we only have one copy of the textbook, we are working together on our lessons, however, this curriculum would be simple for a student to use independently or with very little instruction from the teacher.   

I personally found the text book to be written in such a way that it can easily hold the kids attention, give plenty of guidance for us to have a fairly in depth discussion in regards to what we've read, and walk away from the lesson having learned something.

While material itself has been very interesting but the experiments are the highlight of the course.  Almost every day, there's some sort of activity or experiment for the kids to complete.  We have been aiming to complete both the scheduled experiments as well as the "Explore More" boxes.  Most experiments use everyday items that you probably already have around the house (although, for the life of me, I did not have a paperclip needed for one experiment and had to substitute something else - which the kids diligently documented in their student notebook when asked for changes we had to make in materials).  Some experiments do require special items such as beakers, insulated copper wires, and Alum for example but there are no hugely expensive items that will break the bank.

I especially like the inclusion of the lab supply list, as this makes it super easy for me to gather or purchase the items needed, put them in a zip lock back, label it with the experiment number and keep them in a box for when we need them.  The other thing that I especially like is that Apologia makes it very easy for me to grade the kids tests.  Once they complete the test, I just open up the Solutions manual and it gives me the correct answers and tells me how many points each question is worth.

Overall, I am very happy with the curriculum and even had it not been a review item for us, I would have purchased this curriculum regardless.  The fact that even Garrett made a passing grade on both of his module tests demonstrates to me that they are definitely learning the material.   To be honest, I'm learning right along side them as I had no idea what quanta was ;)

#hsreviews #livingapologia #apologiascience #apologiaworld #homeschoolscience #generalscience

For more information about  Apologia and Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find Apologia on the following social media sites:

Be sure to click the banner below to find out what other members of the Review Crew thought about Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition. 

Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition. {Apologia Reviews}

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning

Another Sunday, which means another week of planning meals..  I'm in a bit of a rut right now, so I just went all willy nilly on picking stuff from a meal planning website that supplied recipes and shopping lists just to have it done with..  If your interested, I use a website called Cooksmarts.com ..  It is a subscription site but I think I pay like 21 bucks every three months to use it, so it's really reasonable. 

Sunday -  Texas Chili with cornbread muffins

Monday - Taco Salad with Ground Turkey and honey-adobo dressing

Tuesday - Leftover Chili Nachos with pico de gallo  and romaine salad

Wednesday - General Tso’s Chicken with steamed broccoli  and rice

Thursday - Chicken Florentine with spaghetti and salad

Friday - Pizza Margherita with Italian tossed salad

Saturday - Slow-Cooker Irish Beef Stew with carrots and potatoes

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Weekend Meal Planning

I know it's been a while since I've done a weekend meal planning post.. I swear, I have been feeding my family.  But with my husband being gone for over a month and then a friend visiting, the posting of our menu has slipped my mind. 

Sunday  Pork Tenderloin with balsamic farro  and  zucchini spears

Monday Smoked Salmon Breakfast Bowl with paprika roasted potato and sauted spinach

Tuesday  Mexican Hash  with sweet potatoes / pinto beans / bell peppers / avocados / eggs

Wednesday   Salmon-Basil Burgers  with green bean “fries”

Thursday    Tortellini Tomato Soup  with Italian green salad and garlic bread

Friday   Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with mashed potatoes and mixed greens

Saturday  Shrimp Boil with corn, red potatoes and green salad

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Heart Changer ( A Homeschool Crew Review )

My family loves books.  My oldest daughter can go through a 500 page book in less than a day if given the option. On average, I read roughly 60 books a year.  I have tried really hard to pass my love of reading on to my children and have seen Ashleigh begin to enjoy books more and more and I believe there's still hope for Garrett as I find himself drawn more and more into the stories we read aloud during our reading time.

Occasionally, we find a book that the entire family can enjoy together and so we are able to sit down as a family and read a chapter or two aloud together, discuss what was read and hopefully find a valuable lesson to learn from among the pages.   Recently, my family had the opportunity to read aloud the book  The Heart Changer , the debut novel from Jarm Del Boccio, Author  and found it to be a book that offered something for each member of my family to learn from.

The Heart Changer

by Jarm Del Boccio 
Genres: Fiction, Middle Grade 
ISBN: 9781620208687
112 pages

The Heart Changer is the fictionalized retelling of the story of  Naaman, the Syrian Army Commander from 2 Kings whom was told to bathe in the Jordan seven times to be cleaned of Leprosy.  The story is told from the perspective of Miriam, a twelve year old Israeli girl captured during a raid on her village and brought into Syria.  Forced to serve as maidservant to the wive of the Commander who led the raid that could possible have killed her family, Miriam is full of anger and resentment.  Faced with a hostile rival as well as her own bitterness towards her new master, Miriam faces the unknown and feelings that the Lord has either abandoned her or her lack of strong faith brought down his punishment upon her.  Little does she knows he instead is preparing her for a greater mission - beyond what she could have imagined.

This historical fiction selection is appropriate for readers 7-12 and a free teacher's guide is available for digital download.

About Jarm Del Boccio (Author)

Jarm (’J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio is a former teacher and librarian, and a current teacher at SchoolhouseTeachers.com Jarm’s passion is to make the Bible and history come alive for her readers. She believes that with the inspiration of the past, children can be come heroes of their own stories.  Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, son and daughter (when they are at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. 

Our Opinion

We really enjoyed using this book as a read aloud for family time each afternoon.  The story was simply written and easy to understand for the kids but wasn't "kiddiefied" to the extent that the adults of the family would zone out while we read it.   The story really pulled everyone in and kept everyone's attention.

The theme of how God can create change in your heart is ever present in the story, as it is shown  using several different characters. How Miriam's heart changed towards Naaman and his wife, towards another young servant in the household (and the change in the heart of that servant towards Miriam as well), and ultimately the change in the hearts of Naaman and his wife, each play a significant role in the story.  Ultimately, this is a story about forgiveness and putting our faith in the plans that the Lord has for us.

#hsreviews #theheartchanger #historicalfiction #historicalfictionwriter #historicalfictionauthor #historicalfictionforkids #homeschoolreaders #homeschoolreading #middlegradefiction #middlegradereads #raisingreaders #middlegradehistoricalfiction #writingcommunity #writingcommunityofinstagram #mgbooks #authorsofinstagram

To find out more information about Jarn Del Boccio and The Heart Changer, be sure to visit the author's website. You can find out more information  at the following social media sites:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIcs5IpR56kqsj1z4Co2Bew?view_as=subscriber+%28Jarm+Del+Boccio%2C+Author%29

Be sure to click the banner below to read what other members of the Crew thought of 

The Heart Changer
The Heart Changer {Jarm Del Boccio, Author Reviews}

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Butterflies (A Early Wordless Wednesday)

I know it's only Tuesday but wanted to get my Wordless Wednesday post up early.. lol 

When we attended the homeschool convention, the kids begged for us to get a new butterfly kit.. A few days later, we received our kit with five teeny tiny caterpillars.   Over the course of two weeks, we have watched them grow, enter the chrysalis phase and then emerge as butterflies.. They will be released later today.


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