Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Quilt... the beginning

This is going to be a couple of posts to tell the entire story.  But, here's the beginning:

My son and I had the amazing privilege of returning to India this August.  We were part of a multi-state team doing ministry in Chennai, India.

One of my roles on the team was as a speaker for the Women's Conference at the church we served at.  My topic, handpicked by God, was "The Fabric of a Woman's Life".  Basically, comparing our lives to a quilt.

My team leader "suggested" that it would be nice to leave a handmade quilt there as a marker of our time together.

Oh my... have I told you how insane this summer has already been??  On top of my already crazy life, I've been struggling through Hashimoto's (finally finding out what was causing that complete exhaustion!)  I thought,  "I've got nothing to give..."

But GOD - he shows up in HIS power when we are finally at the end of our own.   He gave me a picture of the colors this quilt should be.  Then,  my dear friend Pinterest, gave me a vague idea of a design.

 
I actually had to do all the math (many of you are truly seeing God's hand now!) and created the design and pattern from a picture.



My sweet 12 year old daughter and I took off to the quilt store.  As soon as we walked in, we saw the perfect colors.  We bought the fabric in the morning, came home, and working together finished the entire 300 piece quilt top in the afternoon.



 
 
 
 


It was a project way beyond ourselves...but, God managed to use our hands to sew a beautiful marker of his love.

Another dear friend - a master quilter, gladly offered to machine quilt it on the long arm machine and created the perfect quilt label.   The end result was a collection of each of our gifts - plus the hand of God. It much more than we dreamed!

I'll tell you more about the story of the quilt and the ministry of it in a future post.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Horizons 2nd Grade Phonics & Reading Set from Alpha Omega Publications : A TOS Crew Review

Alpha Omega Review
 
 
 
This engaging, homeschool phonics and reading program contains the following:
 
  • A must-have, 380 page teacher's guide that includes a daily lesson planner, teaching tips, duplication masters, answer keys, review worksheets, and 16 tests to evaluate your child's performance.
 
  • 160 fun-filled lessons and activities that enhance your child's mastery of phonics, spelling rules, and vocabulary  divided into  2 Volumes.   Each lesson is 2 full color pages. Activities include word searches, matching, fill-in-the-blank and more.   
 
  • Two student readers included. Readers feature classic stories and poems to be read aloud.  Robinson Crusoe and A Little Princess.  The lessons from the workbooks correspond to the reader. 
 
Check out a sample page  
 
 
The Bentz Test Laboratory was excited to finally have a chance to take a peek at the Horizons 2nd Grade Phonics & Reading Set from Alpha Omega Publications.  My tester is going to be "officially" starting 2nd grade soon, so we reviewed this as a preview to what is coming for our year. 
 
My tester was impressed as soon as she opened the box!  The workbooks and readers are brightly colored, not something our previous reading program included.  Who would have thought that the colors could make so much difference in enthusiasm??
 
However, I have been learning a lot about how different children learn this summer, and all those brightly colored pages are actually a great fit for her particular learning style.
 
This is a great - "open the box and GO" type of program.  It's very low teacher prep, and everything you need is included.  The lessons usually contain a moral lesson - things like: "Look ere you leap", and "Out of sight, out of mind". 
 
My tester is more of a struggling reader, but the reader's clean font, and uncluttered pages were a huge help to her.  She is very excited to be getting to read a "big kids story" like Robinson Crusoe.  The poems and classic short stories are fun reads too.

She really enjoys workbooks, so I knew this one would be a hit.  The program moves at a pretty healthy pace, but not too fast.  Completing 2 pages a day will make this a full year program. Once the phonics lesson has been introduced, she has been able to work independently for the most part.  This can be a lifesaver in a busy house with more than one child!
 
The Teacher's Guide is a very useful tool for this program.  Each lesson has the overview, materials & supplies and plenty of teaching tips.  If you are new to teaching reading and phonics - you will love this!  Activities to reinforce each rule are included, and a picture of the accompanying student pages as well. Review of concepts is built into the program.  Assessments are included if you like to measure progress that way.
 
I really can't believe we've never discovered this program in all of our years.  I must say - I'm impressed at how easy it is to use, and how much my tester has been picking up!
 
We're looking forward to the new year.
 
 
 
 
 
Other members of the Crew reviewed some gems from Alpha Omega  you may want to take a peek at:
 
Horizons Preschool for Three's Curriculum Set
 
 
 
 
See what other members of the Crew thought here
 
Alpha Omega Review
 


Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cookies for Breakfast?

 
 







Getting ready for the upcoming school year.  I really want a fast & healthy breakfast plan - what could be better than Cookies for Breakfast? My dear friend has adapted these cookies from an Against All Grain recipe. (Almond and coconut flour can be found at most stores now).

Another great recipe using traditional flours is Ellie Krieger's breakfast cookies.   

 
Breakfast Cookies
1/4 c. Coconut flour
1/2 c. Almond flour
6 pitted dates
3/4 c. Shredded coconut
1/2 c. Unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Vanilla
1/4 t. Salt
1/2 t. Baking soda
2 T. Dried cherries
2 T. Pecans or walnuts
3 T. Cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process dates in a food processor until smooth. Add all ingredients down to cherries. Pulse until combined. Throw in nuts and dried fruits. Pulse just to combine. Scoop large tablespoons and shape until cookie disks. These cookies won't spread. Bake 12-14 minutes.
Enjoy immediately or freeze and allow 20 minutes to thaw before enjoying.


 What's your favorite breakfast on the go recipe?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Thank You!


 
We are just days away from leaving for India, and I wanted to say THANK YOU!!
 
 
We'd treasure all your prayers for our team and trip, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!
 
 


Friday, August 7, 2015

We're climbing the walls...


Summer is almost over, the wall of school is looming right in front of us...Hang on precious ones, we can do this...


 
"Let's just go climb it!" - this may have to be our new motto!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Conversation, by Leigh A. Bortins from Classical Conversations : A TOS Crew Review

Classical Conversations ReviewClassical Conversations Review
 
The Conversation, by Leigh A. Bortins
from Classical Conversations 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is on for moms!  I recently got to read The Conversation, by Leigh A. Bortins
from Classical Conversations the newest book to her how-to trilogy of classical education — The Conversation: Challenging Your Student with a Classical Education.
 
 
Do you ever get the question, "What method of homeschooling do you use?"  I like to answer this way... "We are a bit Unit Study,  kinda Charlotte Mason-ish with a decidedly Classical flair and an occasional textbook thrown in here and there..."  Or, for the short answer....eclectic!
 
The Conversation is a handbook for any parent of high schoolers,  even if you aren't a "classical" homeschooler.  It is broken down in three parts: 
  • High School at Home - Confident Parents, and Defining Rhetoric

  • Rhetorical Arts - Subject by subject chapters outlining and illustrating the art of  rhetoric in Reading, Speech and Debate, Writing, Science, Math, Government and Economics, History, Latin and Foreign Languages, and Fine Arts

  • Appendices- Conversational games, rhetorical devices, resources and real parent responses
 
Let's pause... you do know what fundamentals of the classical model, right?  If not - here's a quick review.  All students pass through three stages of learning:  Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.   Grammar students are taking in information,  memorizing facts, filling their brains.  Dialectic students are then organizing and categorizing all that information.  And, Rhetoric students are ready to take the organized information and turn it into action - they are using it to persuade others, debate, and discuss.
 
Each chapter guides you through scripts of what conversations with your student might look like using the Five Canons of Rhetoric. (Not sure about most people, but my children...never follow the script!)  The Five Canons are Invention, Arrangement, Elocution, Memory, and Delivery. This is a helpful guide to show you how to initiate these conversations with your children.  This book focuses on that final stage of learning - usually where your high schoolers are. I have three high schoolers this year. Oh, my, that's a lot of conversation -  even for me!
 
Leigh A Bortins offers so much practical wisdom in this book. (she's an aerospace engineer...aka - rocket scientist)   She says, " We sometimes forget we only need four things in order to educate someone.  We need pencil, paper, good books and a time for conversation..."  AHA!
 
If you haven't been following a classical model - it's never too late.  Homeschooling educates two generations at once, this book offers plenty of useful suggestions you can implement any time, even with the adults in your life (maybe even husbands...shhh, don't tell them!)
 
 
 
 
 
See what other members of the Crew thought here
 
Classical Conversations Review
 
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies: A TOS Crew Review

Funtastic Unit Studies Review
 
 
 
 
Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers from  Funtastic Unit Studies  is a 20O page, softcover science experiment guidebook.  The author, Susan Kilbridge is a homeschooling mom who also happens to have a degree in biology.  She wrote the book especially with homeschoolers in mind, but the activities inside could be used by any curious children. 
 
 With 20 chapters, or units, designed for  children ages 4-13 years old, this book is a key to unlock the delights of science firsthand. The first 10 chapters are for the younger age group of about 4 to 7 years old, and the second half of the book is geared towards children 8-13 years old. You can check out a couple of units for free to see for yourself:   Atoms and Molecules for ages 8-13 & Plants for ages 4-8.
 
This is not some flashy, colorful "book" about science that they can read, but rather - a simple, straightforward guidebook for them to use to actually "DO" science.
 
 
Topics for ages 4-7:
  • Senses
  • The Human Body
  • Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life
  • Animals
  • Insects and Their Kin
  • Fun with Magnets
  • Stars and Planets
  • Health
  • Beginning Plants
  • Animal Ecology
Topics for ages 8-13:
  • Insects
  • Microscopes and Invisible Creatures
  • Atoms and Molecules
  • Matter
  • Chemistry Fun
  • Weather
  • Force and Motion
  • Simple Machines
  • Light and Color
  • Plants II
 
Each unit clearly lists the materials needed, like a recipe.  Most of the materials are common household items.  I have a confession... this is where science can stall at Bentz Test Laboratory - scrambling around for materials for the experiment!  I loved how this book gave me a clear list to assemble before we started.
 
From there, the unit is broken down into smaller parts that you can do over a few days, or all at once.  Clear instructions and explanations are included for every activity.  Additional books or movies are recommended throughout the guide as well.  This is a unit study approach, so while you may be doing science experiments, you'll be learning about much more! 
 
This book is a great resource, if you to stop just reading about science...and start doing science - this is exactly what you need to get started.  It's customizable - you can pick and choose what you want to do, and it's super multi-child friendly.  For just $16.95 - you'll want to have it. 
 
Beware...you might get your hands dirty, you'll never what is going on in all those cups on the counter, and your children will suddenly start working together ;-)





 
(yes...phyiscs experiments on force & motion require goggles for safety - just kidding, she loves them!)
 
It's not a stand alone science curriculum, but can easily add the pop, fizzle, and bam to ANY curriculum by giving you the hands-on experiences that make science learning happen. 
 
Best of all, it's easy to use!

PS - The author has an American History Freebie you should check out as well!
 
 
 
See what other members of the Crew thought here
 
Funtastic Unit Studies Review
 
 
 
Crew Disclaimer