Goldtown Beginnings from Kregel Publications {Review}

I love adding historically acurate novels to our library for my boys so when we received the first two books in the Goldtown Beginnings series ( Jem Strikes Gold  and Jem’s Frog Fiasco ) for review from Kregel Publications, we were very happy!

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It is not always easy to find good novels in which the main character is a boy, so of course I jumped on this one because I have all boys. With their delays, these were a very good reading level, especially for “The Puzzler.”

In each of the books, written by Susan K. Marlow and illustrated by Okan Bülbül, there is a vocabulary section right in the front of the book, as opposed to being in the back where I more often see it (if there even is one!).

In book 1, Jem Strikes Gold, eight year old Jem is living in a gold camp with his family, Pa, Mama, and his little sister Ellie.

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Jem’s pa has a big gold claim along Cripple Creek, while Jem and Ellie each have a small one adjacent to their pa’s. People during the gold rush believed that heading to gold country would make them rich very quickly, but the reality was that panning for gold was terribly hard work. In fact, many people made more money selling services and cooking for other miners. Other miners would pay them in gold. Jem and Ellie’s Mama made pies and sold them to other miners, and to the cafe, and was paid in gold for them. When the children are delivering that day’s pies (blueberry, my favorite!) we are introduced to Will, the son of the town’s richest man and a real bully. He causes the pies to be ruined and Jem’s remembered Bible verses on dealing with bullies to fly right out of his head. When a fellow miner gives Jem a dog, Mama at first forbids it. But Nugget slowly worms his way into her heart after he helps to ensure that Will never picks on them again. You can read an excerpt from this book here, and coloring pages of the illustrations in this book at this link. There are activity pages and a schedule for this book here.

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In Jem’s Frog Fiasco, Jem gets a job catching Bullfrogs for the cafe owner’s menu. Unfortunately, Ellie and Nugget get in the way, and he and Ellie argue. When Ellie leaves, and doesn’t make it home, the searching begins. Jem and Nugget find and rescue her from a coyote hole dug by a miner looking for gold. You can read an excerpt of this book here, and download the coloring pages at this link. Activity pages with a schedule for this book can be found here.

At the end of each book is “A Peek into History” which gives a glimpse of historical facts related to the story.

These are fairly short books, 10 chapters over about 80 pages each. The chapters are quick paced and engaging, and my son liked the books very much.

I would love for you to read what other families thought of Jem Strikes Gold and Jem’s Frog Fiasco! To see the thoughts of 44 other Review Crew Members, please click on the banner just below.

Jem Strikes Gold & Jem's Frog Fiasco  {Kregel Publications Reviews}

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Shiloh and His Boy

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As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

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Excelerate Spanish Streaming {Review}

Our homeschool family is always looking for a way to learn Spanish, having moved cross country several years ago to New Mexico and when offered the opportunity to review Excelerate SPANISH Streaming from Excelerate Spanish we jumped on it.

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Excelerate SPANISH Streaming is completely different than any other Spanish curriculum we have ever used. We have used workbooks, audio recordings, and once, a game.

Excelerate is what I would consider to be somewhat immersive. Right from lesson 1 in Spanish 1, the teacher is giving words, phrases and sentences along with gestures to go along with them. She tells the students to follow along, using the gestures and movements. This method is called Total Physical Response (TPR). brain functionality and linguistics show that TPR facilitates foreign language acquisition for all age groups.  TPR aids in learning languages by activating different parts of the brain.

The videos are engaging, and the teacher is pleasant. As you can see in the video below, the TPR method is explained.

When we first learn to speak as babies, we do it with immersion. I remember that our oldest son “The Batman,” really spoke no words at all when he was age two (this is when we adopted him). I seriously spoke complete sentences to him, as I did things. For example, I sat him in his high chair next to me while washing the dishes, and said everything as I did it (This is a plate. I’m putting it in the soapy water and scrub it. I’m putting it under the running water to rinse it. I’m putting it into the drain tray so it can dry.”) This child who we were told might never learn to speak now runs his mouth All. The. Time. So, for babies, this is how language is learned, and how many grown people learn. This is learning with speach and movements, or TPR. I never knew this had a name!

In the beginning, there is no pressure at all to speak until you are ready. The words and action movements are repeated, and students remember and associate the actions with the words from then on.

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One good thing, as homeschoolers we can take all the time in the world, repeating things until we get them. In an institutional school, you get only so much time, and then you must move on. With us, while sometimes we can keep up with the suggested schedule, more often than not we can’t. This is one of the “can’t” times. The teacher goes way too fast for us to complete a lesson in the time allowed, so we have to repeat, repeat, repeat. But that’s OK, because we learn at home!

I had “The Puzzler” log on and try to learn Spanish.

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Normally, he would set up at the kitchen table with his Chrome Book and a pair of head phones, so that he could hear and not be distracted by everyone elses noise. It turned out that my son is very self conscious about doing the motions, and would not do them at all if anyone else could see him. It is taking him a long time to go through the videos.

We were given the Excelerate Spanish Streaming to review, but there are also workbooks available for purchase. Given that the video lessons are in an actual classrom and part of the lessons direct the students to pull out their workbooks and use them, I think it would have benefited “The Puzzler” to have them.

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Excelerate SPANISH help your students to learn FAST, naturally! (Streaming)  {Excelerate SPANISH Reviews}Crew-Disclaimer

As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

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What We Prepped and Froze Yesterday!

These are the meals we prepped, two of each recipe.

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The bounty of our hard work . . .

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And last night after all this work, we cooked and ate for supper one of the Burrito Pie meals!

We use my membership to My Freeze Easy to create our menus, and it has been the best money I’ve ever spent, when it comes to our food budget! We have so much more variety, and with shopping and prepping a couple times a month, we have freash meals in the freezer, just waiting to thaw and cook.  My crew really likes it, and there have only been a few things they didn’t care for. They help me decide which recipes to put into our menu, now!

As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

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Drawing Program from Creating a Masterpiece {Review}

 

Homeschool art curriculum such as the Drawing Program from Creating a Masterpiece is a great way to add drawing instruction to your child’s day, and even though my son “The Artist” already had a natural talent, he and I thought that the Drawing Program would improve his skills and knowledge.

For the purpose of this review, we were given a one year subscription to the Drawing Program.

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Once subscribed, you may use the lessons for each family member if you wish, but at this time only my son is using it. Maybe later on I’ll try too, but I have no drawing ability at all, so I don’t feel very confident.

This course is taught by master Artist and instructor Sharon Hofer. She makes sure the lessons are done in such a way that anyone, even a child, can follow them. My son says “She goes step by step and makes it easy for me to follow her. The lessons are fun!”

There are four levels in the Drawing Program :

  • Beginning Drawing
  • Drawing Level 1
  • Drawing Level 2
  • Drawing Level 3

Throughout the levels, there are 48 lessons, which cover 30 different drawings. The drawings cover:

  • Drawing in Pencil
  • Lessons in Charcoal
  • Lessons in Colored Pencil

Paper used:

  • Vellum
  • Heavy weight Bristol
  • White drawing paper
  • Black drawing paper

While you can probably get the recommended supplies at a good art store, we chose to purchase ours online. When you look at each project, there is a link tto a list of supplies.

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When we clicked on purchase supplies, it tooke us directly to a source for the specific supplies needed, with a cart pre-filled.

My son started right in at the Beginning Drawing level, doing the lessons in order. The first project was a cartoon giraffe, in which Sharon helps the student learn  foundational concepts and skills of the cartooning style. The drawing on the left is straight from following the lessons, while the drawing on the right is what he drew afterward, using the skills he had been taught.

The drawing just below is called Simplicity, in which “The Artist” began learning about seeing and incorporating values and shading. He also spent some time learning about planning and moving through a pencil drawing.

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Hoot Owl was fun, according to my son. In doing this drawing, he learned even more about the process of drawing. You can see the owl from the lesson at the top, and his versions below.

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In Polar Exploration, he began drawing with a white pencil onto black artist paper.

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In Field of Daisies, “The Artist” learned to use charcoal, vellum and an eraser to create his drawing. By laying down charcoal and then erasing selectively, this drawing was created!

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Baby Elephant is also done in charcoal on vellum, but this lesson is actual drawing, as was done with pencil previously. This time, he draws with the charcoal. Isn’t he so cute?

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In Moonstruck, Sharon taught my son more about the basics of value, shadow, and highlights as he created this drawing using colored pencils on vellum.

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Angling For Trout is another drawing in which “The Artist” first laid down charcoal and then used an eraser to draw with, much like Field of Daisies. The difference is the paper. While Field of Daisies is done on vellum, this drawing is on white Bristol paper. On the left, you can see the trout from the lesson. On the right, you can see the drawing he did when he decided to draw a pair of salmon!

My son has recently started the Level 1 lessons, and did this beautiful piece called First Thanksgiving on vellum with colored pencil. In this lesson, he began learning  how to draw fruits and vegetables and how to use colored pencils on vellum paper, and how to make them look three dimensional. I just love the look of this one!

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Working with texture, value and showing movement, Arctic Seal was drawn in white pencil on black paper.

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Overall, we feel that this program is a benefit to “The Artist’s” education. While he does have some natural talent, these lessons are definitely teaching him a lot that he didn’t know how to do. We are very happy that we were chosen for this review!

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Learning to Draw {Creating a Masterpiece Reviews}

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A Place to Put My Oils!

We’ve been using Essential Oils from Young Living for a while now, but have had no place to really put them nicely.

My husband saw this on my Amazom wish list, and one day, it was delivered to our house! Here he is with my son installing it:

A,d. Voila!

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As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

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Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox {Review}

I remember playing Chess with my dad when I was just a girl but I’ve forgotten a lot of how to play, so I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to review Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox because now I can re-fresh my own knowledge and help my special needs boys learn this game as well!

While uou certainly can play chess in the standard way with this set, it has been formatted in such a way that anyone, whether they are trying to re-learn the game for themselves or they want to help someone with absolutely no knowledge of how to play to learn.

Fun Family Chess comes with a very sturdy, well made wood box, which is both the chess board and storage for all of the components.

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One of the things I really like is that there are pictures of the different pieces right on the board, so that we know exactly what goes where.

Inside, the other parts of the game are packaged very nicely in the velvet lined inner halves.

You can see that the light and dark pieces each have their own soft (and now I notice, covered Shiloh’s hair) velvet bags, and nestled in with them you can also see a full color instruction book, reference cards, and the chess die. The wood box/game board closes with two metal clasps to keep everything neatly together.

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Each person will roll the chess die during their turn, and it will show them which piece to move. The player then checks the color coded reference card to find out how that piece is allowed to move. Here is a short video from the Brain Blox company which explains the moves each piece can make in chess:

Not only is the storage box/chess board good solid wood, the pieces are as well, plus they are coated on the bottom with felt to keep them from scratching the board.

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A couple of my boys have cognitive issues and have difficulty when it comes to strategy, so this is a very good way for them to learn this game. Here is just one of their games in progress:

They are enjoying learning the game of chess in a no pressure way. They do not have to already know how each piece moves in order to be able to play, because the whole idea is learning while playing. With the die and the reference cards, they can check how each piece moves each time it is their turn. Eventually, they will have the pieces and their moves memorized, and won’t need to refer to the cards anymore! It really is as the box itself says:

“Earth’s Most Dandy and Delightful, Refreshingly Refined, Easy-Peasy Way To Learn Chess!”  

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Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}

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As always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

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