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Funtastic Unit Studies: Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers . . . A T.O.S. Review

To say that I have never enjoyed science is an understatement. I was not very good at it in school, and feared teaching it to my kids. And then can the book Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, by Susan Killbride, from Funtastic Unit Studies!

This is a large softcover book which runs 201 pages, and has 20 unit studies in it on different topics. The first half of the book is geared to younger ages, while the second half would be for when they are a bit older.

We chose a unit from the first half for a variety of reasons. It interested us, the needed items were easy to access, it had a lot of food involved (remember, I have all boys, lol), and we wanted to include the boys next door, one of whom is going into the first grade.

So you are probably asking ok, but what did you do and learn? Why is it “Funtastic?” Because I know you are aware by now that wherever possible, I believe learning should be FUN! πŸ™‚

We began by talking about teeth, and the various reasons it is important to care for them. We made homemade old fashioned tooth powder, and my boys then brushed with it, which caused them to appreciate more fully the tooth paste available today. They also learned not to use the homemade version more than once or twice, as it is very abrasive.

Here you see the only items going into the tooth powder:

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All mixed together:

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And here are the boys “joyfully” brushing their teeth with their homemade tooth powder which we flavored with vanilla, lol!

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We learned about the importance of calcium, and made our own calcium-rich snack. It called for milk and lemon juice, although we also added some roasted garlic and herb seasoning.

We began with a quart of milk which the boys took turns pouring. Side note, I was going to buy a quart of milk, and my husband pointed out that I could just measure a quart from the gallon jug in the fridge. Duh! As I’ve told you before, I am NOT the science and math parent here. lol!

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After, they stirred until it boiled:

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Once it boiled, we added the lemon juice and stirred for a minute or two more . . . and the curds began to separate from the whey!

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We drained it through a mesh colander, and this is how much we ended up with from the original quart of milk!

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We also learned about and made a snack rich in vitamin A, which included cream cheese, shredded cheese, and carrots. The boys took turns stirring it up . . .

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And then “The Artist” put on food handler gloves finished mixing it, and formed it into a ball!

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We also put together a healthy fruit salad . . .

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Once the boys next door got home from their summer day camp, we did some activities to see how germs spread. We used glitter so that they could actually visualize it.

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We also did an experiment with a little spray bottle and a piece of poster board to show them just how far the germs can actually go if you cough or sneeze without covering . . .

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For vitamin D, and also to talk about the importance of exercise, we went out doors for some fun!

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As you can see, they had a blast jumping rope and playing limbo. Below, even the neighbor boys’ dad got involved!

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I managed to get a quick video too! The neighbor boys’ parents are holding the rope.

Once we finished playing, the boys and I went inside to enjoy our healthy snacks!

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As a quick addition that I forgot to add to the original post, we went to Sam’s yesterday, and my kids tried the Healthy Choice fudge bars, after which “The Batman” pointed out that it went with our health unit. The rest of the time we were there, they were checking labels for the vitamins, etc. So great, they actually had remembered what they learned, and applied it in real life!

All in all, we had a great time, and you can, too! Check out this free Plant Unit Study, as well as the free Molecules Unit from the book. Both will give you an idea of how much fun you can have! With science! Who knew!

To read about what other members of the crew did with this wonderful book, please click the banner below!

Funtastic Unit Studies Review
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Filed under Funtastic Unit Studies, science, Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers

Digital Science Online: Visual Learning Systems (My Review)

My four boys and I have been having lots of fun using Visual Learning Systems as a group for a little over a month. We received a subscription to both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12)

The Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5), is divided into two sections. One is primary, which would be the grade K through 2 collection. This included well over 50 units of study, contained within the following subjects: physical, earth, life, and health. This is a great section if your children are in that age/grade range, there are tons of beautiful videos, animations, photos, and activity sheets, etc.

WE did not use this section, because my kids were beyond it, for the most part, but I really wanted you to know that it is there, and that it’s GOOD.

We HAVE been using the elementary a lot, because, frankly, I thought it was the best way for us to work as a group, something which many of my readers know that we enjoy doing. The elementary section of Digital Science Online has subjects like physical, earth, and life, with subtopics or units within them. As with the Primary section, there are lovely, well made videos, animations, photos, worksheets, and hands on activities in some areas. It’s meant for grades 3 through 5.

We have, for the most part, enjoyed this, except for having to crowd around one computer (something I will also address a little later). It was very impressive how, when we would choose a subject, there would then be a list of sub-topics within that subject, effectively giving us a unit study, already all organized for us! The reason I like this aspect so much is that all four of my boys really, really enjoy watching science and nature programs on television. The problem with that though, is it’s hard to put together a group of programs at the same time which would work together as a topical unit.

Eventually, though, with the exception of “The Puzzler”, the boys really wanted to have a go at the higher level, which I’ll talk about in a bit, because truthfully, I thought only “The Artist” would be able to handle the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

How wrong I was!

As I mentioned back at the beginning of this review, we were also given access to the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

The Secondary Edition has considerably more units of study, with a great number of sub-topics. My kids liked the longer videos, which, once again, I must complement. They are quite beautiful.

I have asked them to stay away from some sections of the biology units, after they pointed them out and said they didn’t think they should look at them. I was very proud of them for this actually, as it shows they have been listening to us and to their teachers at church when we discuss what is or is not appropriate for them.

There are also areas in which evolution is used as a given, where we believe, and teach, from a Creation world view. It was very interesting, however, to listen to everyone of our boys, at different times while watching different sections, saying things like “That’s not true, there’s no millions of years” or “Evolution isn’t real, we know that”. πŸ™‚

The Secondary Edition also has worksheets and such, but these are really beyond any of my boys other than “The Artist”. I DO find that “The Batman” and “Mr. Loquacious” can do a lot of them orally, though.

AS I told you above, I really thought it would be better to use this program as a group, because as often as possible, I prefer it when we can do that. This DID work, for a while, but lo and behold, just today, they asked me two questions:

Will this work on our tablets?
Can we do it separately so we can choose our own topics?

Well, guess what, it works on the tablets! I hadn’t even tried, because I’m used to things like this being mostly for iPads, which we do not have. WE have Android Tablets. SO, I told them I would try it on mine first to check, and if so, we’d see if it would work on theirs. It did! πŸ™‚ Since I had never actually set up separate student accounts because *I* wanted this to be a group learning thing I thought my kids would love to do this together, I chose to call customer support, given that I had forgotten how to set up separate log ins. Guess what found out? Well, while yes, I CAN do that, I don’t HAVE to! They can all log in using the information I used for the one log in, and they can all do it at the same time, on their own tablets or a computer. YAY! The customer service is wonderful. The first person I spoke with was named Louise, and the second was Emily, because they handle different aspects within the company.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to discover that this could be used on their tablets, all at the same time, and that they could be doing different subjects at the same time, as well, is that now, we don’t have to have a “discussion” about what we will learn about “today”. Being able to use the tablets in this way is a definite plus as well for the family who travels, because their children will be able to take this beautiful program along, and learn science their way. It would be great if you’re staying somewhere with provided wifi, and much better than spending all your in room time just watching television.

ALL in all, we really, really like this program. I even had one child come back inside from playing to ask if he could do some more science on his tablet! What better rating is there than that, right?

Want to see what my fellow Crew members think of Digital SCience Online? Just click on the banner right below!

Visual Learning Systems Review

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Weekly Wrap Up . . . Family Crusade Time!

This has been a VERY busy week, but a good one, as well. Our church held a Family crusade, beginning this past Sunday morning with OUR version of balloon Sunday. It was the last day of this year’s International balloon Fiesta, and on that morning, we release helium balloons with our names, and the plan of salvation on an attached card. It was quite windy, and I could not get a photo before they were too far away, sadly, but it was fun! πŸ™‚

From Sunday evening through Thursday evening, we had the wonderful Ed Dunlop as our speaker, and dare I say, entertainer? Everyone, children, teens and adults alike all just loved his ventriloquism with his little buddy Andy, and loved watching the kids participate in different Bible games.

I tried to get a video during the last evening, but looking at it on the computer, I can see that I really messed it up . . . it’s sideways! So instead, let me share a photo of Bro. Ed, Andy, my boys, and several of their friends who were also still at the church after everyone else had left . . . 1016142044e One of my boys, “The Batman”, specifically asked if Andy could come out and be in the picture with them, lol!

My boys tried so hard to get visitors to come with them, but they were not successful. This is the first time we have lived where there were other kids right next door that they play with (since moving to NM), and they asked them every day, with no results. They were disappointed, but we explained to them that they did their job by asking, and that God knows this.

I think this was a WONDERFUL alternative to the traditional summer VBS. I liked it a lot better. VBS has always tended (in my opinion) to get kids so very revved up and make it hard for them to be self-controlled, especially kids like mine, with special needs, yet, I hate to deny them VBS. Therefore, I was so very happy that our church chose to do this instead this year. We had a great time! πŸ™‚

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Fix It! Grammar . . . A T.O.S. Review

In all of the years of working on the education of my kids here at home, we have never, ever actually used a formal grammar program. Or, for that matter, ANY written grammar program, to be honest! I have basically practiced an informal method of correcting their spoken grammar as a part of our daily life, something I will continue doing, as I believe it works quite well for SPOKEN grammar. However, “The Artist”, who was the student reviewing a fiction writing course last year, really wants to go back to it, and to learn to be better at writing stories, so I thought that the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Teacher Manual] (Book 1), along with Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Student Book](Book 1), would perhaps be a good thing for him. I took a look at how it worked and decided to give it a chance.

This grammar program is from the very well known Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

IEW is a company I personally have never really taken the opportunity to really check out, because I was afraid it would be too difficult for my special needs guys. However, I am extremely glad we were blessed with the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar, because it really works, in just minutes a day!

Here is the basic concept . . .
Method: modeling proper grammar within stories. Instead of being taught a grammar rule, and then being forced to practice it with a bunch of exercises, followed by the next grammar rule, over and over (Lather, rinse, repeat, so to speak) in Fix It! Grammar, the grammar rules are taught as they are needed, within the context of a story that builds upon itself until, at the end of the lesson book, the student has written correctly, the entire fairy tale used at that level.

The Process: 15 minutes per day. The level we received is giving us 33 weeks of grammar instruction and practice, in only 15 minutes per day, and 4 days per week.

This program is incredibly easy to set up and to work through! If you have the student book, then your student will need a note book divided into two sections, which are Rewrite and Vocabulary.

On day one of each week, your student will read and correct ONE sentence. Yes, one. He or she will read the sentence, look up the bolded word in a dictionary and write the best definition which fits within the context of the sentence, and write that into the vocabulary section of their note book. This will be built on each day until at the end, they have their own vocabulary dictionary to refer to. Then, he or she will copy the sentence for that day into the rewrite section of their note book, using double spacing.

On days two through four, the student will use the abbreviations at the top of the page, as well as the provided grammar flash cards to help them remember how to mark the section. As with day one, the student does their “rewrite” in the notebook, writing with double spacing. They are to use their best handwriting, so this is also a nice addition to the day in giving them that particular practice!

While we received both the Teacher book and the Student book (both are very nice, spiral bound books), If you prefer, you CAN just purchase the teacher book at the cost of $19.00. The teacher book comes with a license allowing you to download the student book and print as many copies as needed for use within your own homeschool family. The Student book, available for $15.00, is well worth it though, depending on how much it costs for you to print, and whether or not you have more than one child. I happen to have four boys, so knowing that I can print it as needed when each of them is ready for this, makes this a bargain for me.

A placement test is provided if you are unsure where to begin your student, however, like many people, I chose to begin with book one, so as to create a good foundation upon which we can build with the levels which follow. There is also a webinar available to introduce you to Fix It! Grammar, along with how this program differs from traditional methods of teaching grammar.

Fix It! Grammar is intended for 3rd grade and up, but as I said, I personally think that if you, like us, have not done a formal grammar program, it’s best to begin at the beginning.

What did we think of it? Well, I find it incredibly easy to use! “The Artist” really does not enjoy being MADE to write, although he enjoys writing on his own time, so this was the perfect choice for him. I mean, really? One sentence per day? Even my lazy writer who constantly complains about his hand cramping from too much writing, is fine with this! He really doesn’t mind giving up 15 minutes out of his day, and when he is finished, he will have completely written the entire fairy tale himself, with correct grammar! The only real problem we have is keeping him from reading ahead to see the rest of the story, lol!

You will find IEW on the following social media:

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Bottom Line? Not only do I very highly recommend Fix It! Grammar from IEW, I think we will be continuing with it level by level. It is a very painless way to learn written grammar, and frankly, I like that. There is no reason education HAS to be dreary, if there is a better way, and this is definitely a better way, in my opinion.

Other Review Crew members have been reviewing this and other levels of Fix It! Grammar, so please click on the banner below to find out what they thought!
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Filed under education, Fix It! Grammar, Grammar The Easy Way, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Institue For Excellence In Writing, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, writing fiction

Experience History Through Music . . . My Review

I am so excited to bring you this review of Experience History Through Music, which is just now being released by noted homeschool author Diana Waring!
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I grew up in a musical family, with a father who was very much an amateur historian. Everyone in my family except for me played an instrument. I sang. I have been taking piano lessons over the past few years along with my two oldest kids, which made the three books in this series even more fun for me, and for my kids.

Experience History Through Music contains 3 book/CD sets:

America 1750-1890:The Heart of a New Nation
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From the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad, America is a chronological tour of American history through its music.

Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West
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America’s westward expansion is amazingly rich in stories and songs. In Westward Ho!, you will find the pioneer spirit that stirred the hearts of thousands of Americans to leave the safety and comfort of home expressed in folk songs of or about that time. Now you can experience the pioneers’ adventures, dangers, joys, sorrows and hopes as you join in and sing along.

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
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The well-loved stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will come to life all over again as you listen to the songs that were a part of life for the Ingalls and thousands of other pioneering families. Written by William Anderson, noted Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer, the book also includes beautiful photos by internationally known Little House photographer, Leslie A. Kelly.

It is really impossible for me to choose a favorite. This series of three books with accompanying CD’s is a must have for anyone who enjoys history and music, whether they are homeschoolers or not. I was not homeschooled, but I believe that if this series had been around when I was a child, my dad would have bought them for sure.

Author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.”
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Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-schoolβ€”the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn. Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.

This is MY first experience with anything Diana Waring has written, and I’m very impressed. These books are easy to read and understand, and each song has a short, two page segment explaining the historical aspect of it. The CD is bound into the back of each book, and the books each contain sheet music for the songs, so that we can learn how to play them! In fact, here is a quick video of “The Artist” playing “Boll Weevil”, from the “Westward Ho” book:

There have been days when we did several more than one segment, because it really didn’t feel like school work! We love the music, and it’s so much fun to learn the history behind each song in the series. Our country has used music for all of it’s history, to tell the sad tales, the happy stories, and to tell history itself. I’m very glad we’ve gotten to be a part of it by reviewing the new series “Experience History Through Music”, and being part of the book launch for this set.

I encourage you to get these book/CD sets soon! Each one retails for $18.99, but through this July only, you can get the entire set for $50.00!
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Filed under Diana Waring, History, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Music

Learning About the Old Testament and Ancient Egypt With an Online Course From Veritas Press . . . A T. O. S. Review

For a good number of years, my eldest, “The Batman” has repeatedly asked to learn about ancient Egypt. For all of those years, I’ve tried and tried to find unit studies, lapbooks, anything, that would be Biblically based, and would be at a level he could handle, but absolutely nothing I found would work for him. Enter, this review from Veritas Press!

We were fortunate enough to receive a full year access to the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt, which costs $199.00, as well as the physical Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards, which are available for $19.95.

Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt covers the period from creation through the fall of Egypt to Rome.

The Veritas Self-Paced History is suggested for grades 2 – 6, but in our family, this is literally one of the first educational programs I have not had to make major tweaks to accommodate our special needs kids. πŸ™‚ Now, “The Batman” is 21, but with his developmental delays, his educational level in many areas is much younger. He is REALLY enjoying this class! I am so glad I was able to get this review! I have many times over the years, received catalogs from Veritas Press, and just thrown them away, because first, I thought their material looked too difficult for my kids, and second, because we don’t follow the “Classical Curriculum” method of homeschooling. Veritas Press, according to their website, is a Classical Christian Education provider, following the “Trivium“, which approaches education in the order of three stages of learning; grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.

We, on the other hand, are extremely relaxed, eclectic/unschoolers, so I wasn’t sure this would be a great fit around here, but so far, he is doing very well, and without very much help in navigating his way through the class site! πŸ™‚

Once we received our access, all I had to do was go online and register myself as the teacher/parent, creating a user name and password. After that, I simply had to add “The Batman” as a student, creating a user ID and password for him, and then register him into the course chosen. I had a few false starts and problems, but a quick phone call to customer support took care of that! One definite issue was that we needed to use the Firefox browser instead of Internet Explorer. Once we did that, things started to go much more smoothly. πŸ™‚ “The Batman” and I watched the tutorial on how to use this course. The tutorial was actually interesting to the both of us, and gave “The Batman” plenty of opportunities to practice the different things he was being taught how to do, so that once he began the course, he was able to do them by himself.

OK, so by now, you’re likely wondering how the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt works, and how we are using it, right? Well, this class is COMPLETELY done online, up to and including the quizzes and worksheets, which is great for “The Batman”, who has very poor fine motor control, and thus, very poor hand-writing. He is very much enjoying that part, for sure! The lessons are all done at the student’s own pace, hence the name “Self-Paced History“! This is good for us, because we are definitely a “go at your own pace” kind of family. πŸ™‚ The only thing he is using that is not online are the very nice Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards, which you can see below:

This is the front of one of the very large, colorful cards.

The reverse side of the card nicely sums up what is being taught, along with giving ideas for additional resources.

Of course, he is also using his own Bible, because the course uses the New King James Version, whereas Our family uses only the King James Version, and we want to be certain that he doesn’t miss something by using a different version of the Bible.

There are suggested literature resources to add in if you choose, but since so far they have been books that we do not own, what I have had him do at the end of each lesson where there is extra reading, is to read the summation of that portion of the book referred to. This is working out OK for now, but I know that he would like very much to have the go-along books, as he is so very interested in this time period. If you do prefer to have the Literature on hand, there are three different literature kits available for the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt. They are:

Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Literature Kit Level 1, available for $110.30 (a savings of $17.44), and is recommended for children who would be generally in 2nd or 3rd grade, and comes with 13 books.

Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Literature Kit Level 2, available for $88.35 (a savings of $16.39), and includes 10 books.

Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Literature Kit Levels 1&2, in case you have children at multiple levels, available for $151.14 (a savings of $27.47), and containing all of the books in both levels.

I am seriously considering at least the purchase of the level two package for “The Batman”, so that he can read them along with the lessons and have them to keep.

One of the things I really enjoy is that at the beginning of each lesson, we review a memory song about the 32 events we (I say we, because I find I am learning along with “The Batman”, as are the other children) are going to be learning. Repetition is a great thing when it comes to something like this, and basically, we are learning a Biblical timeline through this song. Both “The Batman” and I like very much the fact that if he logs off before finishing a lesson, the course remembers where he was, and when he logs in again, he is asked if he wishes to pick up where he left off. He can also print off the quizzes and such when he finishes them, something he loves to do so that he can show them to his dad when he gets home from work. πŸ™‚
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The lessons themselves are quite fun, using videos of characters who speak and move, fun games, fun songs, and tests/quizzes that are in different formats, helping “The Batman” to remember that there are different ways to answer the on-screen questions. Sometimes, he has to drag things to the correct order, sometimes he has to click the correct answer, and so on. This has been good for him, as he has always been one to not like things changing too much. Each “lesson” runs anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes, which is really just about perfect for “The Batman”, and there are 160 lessons in this course. Here he is, along with HIS Batman, going through a lesson. πŸ™‚
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I am very pleased with this course, and would definitely consider more Self-Paced History courses from Veritas Press, though I’d need to plan ahead for my budget, as I would want to have the literature bundles as well. As I said before, because “The Batman” really loves this time period, and wants to learn as much as he can, I intend to ask his dad if we can manage to order the literature bundle. It is so rare that we’ve been able to find something this good, that he actually WANTS to learn about. I believe it’s more than worth it, and then the books will become part of our permanent educational library.

You can learn more about Veritas Press through their various social media links:

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Filed under education, home education, homeschool products, Online Homeschooling, Self-Paced History, Special Needs Children, special needs education, TOS Review, Veritas Pres

Weekly Wrap-Up . . . When I Actually Got Stuff Done!

So, this week was a LITTLE more productive . . . we managed to work on some educational review products nearly every day. I was also able to get “The Batman” and “The Artist” to get on their piano practice every day except for one.

Yesterday, I got up early and got a review completed (there will be a few more in upcoming weeks), worked on some review products with the boys, and prepared (mostly) supper. My husband came home and whipped up potatoes and corn, as I was very wiped out by then.

Today, I managed to get almost all of the laundry done, for the first time in weeks! πŸ™‚

In preparation for our upcoming move, my husband and the boys did a bunch of yard work last Saturday, and will be doing more tomorrow, as we’re supposed to leave it looking good. While he and 2 of the boys do that, I’ll be taking the 2 older boys out shopping for clothing items they need for summer camp, which is fast approaching! I never thought the day would come when we would feel OK about them going, but I’ll tell you, they have such a wonderful youth pastor at our church, along with his wife. They are so great with all of the kids, and have really helped a lot with our boys, working to understand their limitations. His wife is also our piano teacher, and a very good one, too! We’ll be in our first recital since leaving MI this coming August. I’m hoping my husband will be able to record us so you all can see what we’re doing!

Well, that about wraps up our week!

As always, I’d love it if you joined me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”. Just go and enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss another update! If you DO enjoy “My Journeys”, please, go to our Facebook page and give it a “like”. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! πŸ™‚

This post is being linked up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. To add YOUR weekly wrap-up, just click the graphic below for the guidelines!

Weekly Wrap-Up

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