Thursday, April 17, 2014

A couple of time-sensitive Spring "e-nuggets" for you (Devotions and Beatrix Potter!)

Today I have a couple of quick items for you to check out~ not "free," but certainly inexpensive.

I love Beatrix Potter's stories and artwork. The complete collection, in large hardcover is a little bulky for everyday reading, and I don't own all the stories in individual books at this point. When I saw that there was a collection of her works on sale in the kindle version for $0.99 at Amazon, I decided to SPRING for it (sorry, bad pun, but bear with me). Beatrix Potter Illustrated Collection: 22 Books, 660 Illustrations, Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and Many More! is a perfectly lovely version, with all of the illustrations and text, and the bonus is that I don't have to find space on my bookshelf for it right now. While nothing will ever take the place of a real book in hand, this is a great option for reading on the go.

There is another nugget I wanted to mention~ this one the price may be good only for today, but for only a penny you don't have much to lose, as possibly a lot to gain. Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God is only one cent TODAY!

I haven't used it yet, but I am looking at the "Introduction" and "How to use this book" and so far it looks great. This is the 2nd of two devotional books by Marty Machowski, and it covers the New Testament. In each lesson in this New Testament focus, the question is asked "Where is the Gospel?" with the answer pointing either forward or back to Calvary.

The first book in the series Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God, goes through the Old Testament and asks "How does this passage point forward to Jesus?" Using both books as written will provide your family with 3 years of 10 minute devotions.

Ten minutes isn't a huge investment of time, but is far more than no minutes~ it's a good starting point for today's families who are being pulled in so many different directions, especially if the family has more than one child, who may be involved in extra-curricular activities.

I hope that you find these nuggets worth your time. :)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Curiosity Quest TOS Review Crew (DVDs)

The whole family has enjoyed one of our most recent reviews from Curiosity Quest: 2 separate DVD Combo packs. Curiosity Quest host, Joel Greene, has solicited "Curiosity Quests" from his viewers via email and snail mail letters. When a topic is chosen to explore he takes us along on his quest. The Review Crew received DVD Combo Pack - Produce (Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing) and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea (Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon).

Each segment on the DVD has a basic format~ The actual visit to a specific location, whether it is a farm, a factory, or an aquarium (Or somewhere else). "Fun facts" about the topic are sprinkled throughout. One of our favorite things, also scattered throughout, is something I will call "taking it the streets." This is when Joel asks random people on the street (kids AND grownups) one question that pertains to the show. Some of the answers are hilarious, and *sometimes* they are even correct! :D

The videos are really like a tour that you can go on from the comfort of your own home. Intriguing and informative.

Here is a quick run-down of each combo video and some snippets from each:

Mushrooms~ Follows the process from creating the medium in which the mushrooms grow (Compost bricks~ Wow!  What a lengthy process!), adding the mushroom spawn, growing, "casing," fruiting/harvesting, sorting, packaging and shipping. Watching this actually made me more comfortable with commercially grown mushrooms than I was before.

Cranberries~ Joel Greene goes to Wisconsin to see how cranberries are grown, harvested, cleaned, sorted, and packaged, and shares some of the many products made with cranberries~ And he answers the question "Why do you have to stand in a marsh when you are harvesting Cranberries?"

Oranges~ This segment was inspired by a father who wrote in to suggest a Curiosity Quest revolving around oranges. He was inspired to suggest this after going on a tour of an orange orchard with his family. We found out the approximate # of oranges grown on an individual tree. We also learned the answer to a question about the most efficient way to harvest oranges, and how we can accelerate the ripening process on fruit that has been picked.

Swimmers of the Sea~
Penguins~ In this segment Joel visits The Aquarium of the Pacific, where he finds the answer to the question "Why don't penguins fly?" He goes behind the scenes at the aquarium and helps with food prep and the feeding of the aquarium's magellanic penguins. While we love penguins, this particular segment made it clear that my more squeamish children wouldn't be interested in a career caring for penguins~ with all of the food prep, and "hands on" slimy stuff. ;)

Sea Turtle Rescue~ The Sea Turtle rescue episode is shot at The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys. The Hospital's main goal is to rehabilitate injured turtles, and release them back into the wild. There is another focus on food prep for, and feeding of, the turtles. Watch out! Turtles have really strong beaks! Keep those fingers out of reach. My youngest was amazed at the size a turtle can reach. Green Sea Turtles can reach 600 lb, and a Leather Back Turtle can weigh a TON (2000 lb). Did you know that a turtle might get "Boiling mad" (turn red when agitated)? Amazing to watch!

Salmon~ Joel Goes to Juneau, Alaska and visits a salmon fishery, with people from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. We find out about 5 different kinds of salmon~ chum, sockeye, king, silver and pink salmon(and an easy way to remember them). We all thought it was fascinating to learn that the salmon "smell" their way back to their original spawning grounds~ that they imprint.

What did the kids think?
Youngest really enjoyed watching the Curiosity Quest Videos. He liked the Orange episode the best in the Produce DVD~ he thought that the process for finding spoiled oranges was fascinating~ black light room that shows spoiled spots, so they know which oranges to get rid of. He likes fishing, so the Salmon episode was his favorite, but he enjoyed learning about Penguins and Sea Turtles as well. Youngest now wants to come up with topics for future "Curiosity Quests" himself, so I think his attention has been captured!

Middlest thought that the topics were interesting, and as the avid fisherman he is, he especially enjoyed the Salmon segment~ one of the things he learned was that the salmon prefer fine gravel to larger rocks when they are spawning, which could be useful if one wanted to find spawning salmon.  He thought Joel was "Entertaining" but appreciated that he's more focused on presenting the information as he experiences it than setting up jokes, etc.

Eldest joined us to watch the videos, and here is her take on them. The topics, and the way that they are approached makes them more enjoyable than many of the programs intended for elementary/middle grade students. Joel isn't "over-the-top" and is very watchable, and believable. The humor is real, not "staged." Anyone could learn something new from these shows, not just younger children.

Here is a little sample video from the Sea Turtle Episode to give you a feel for Curiosity Quests:
The average price for an individual episode runs close to $20, so these combo packs are a great deal!

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Ages: 7-14
  • Price: $24.95 each 
You can visit Curiosity Quest on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube if you'd like to find out more.

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Supercharged Science (TOS Review Crew)

Supercharged Science is back with the TOS Review Crew this year (click here to see my review last year, which will give you some of the basics including how the program is set up, and what is included). In brief, Supercharged Science is an e-Science Program that teaches science concepts in a fresh and engaging manner that will draw in most learners. Last year my middle-schooler was the main "reviewer" in the family, this time my youngest was the focus. 

Aurora Lipper is a rocket scientist with an engaging style of teaching science to kids via video, getting them excited about doing experiments, and consequently excited about science. 

Supercharged Science is organized so that one may choose to learn by topic OR by grade level. This time around we used it both ways:

Since my youngest is in 1st grade, we went to the 1st topic in the 1st Grade level, which was "Physics of Sound." This is an example of how we used the Grade level units:

I would read some of the material to my son (he learned that sound is energy), and then we chose an experiment to do. This time we watched the provided video that showed how to make a "Harmonica," I downloaded the "worksheet" which included written directions and a table to write down the results of his experiment (High or low pitch, depending on how the cuffs were moved). 

Here is a video of Youngest and his harmonica(s). We didn't have the exact materials called for (tongue depressors), so we used what we had in hand~ blocks and popsicle sticks~ still worked well! :)

After that we decided to see how it worked to go by topic, and started out with Unit Zero, which we had not used last time. The basics are a good thing to start with him, and revisit with Middlest a little bit. 

We talked about Newton's Laws for a few days, and did some experiments demonstrating those laws. Here we are learning about Newton's 2nd law relating to the conservation of momentum:  

I really appreciate that there are "written materials" that can be printed out, including worksheets and pages with "lab report" information, as well as comprehension questions. For my youngest, I just asked him the questions orally, but when Middlest tagged along with us for a few experiments I printed the sheets up for his use.

One of the things that I like about this online homeschool curriculum is that every time I would queue up a video my youngest would come running~ whether the video was geared towards his age group or not, he was fascinated. 

Something that bears repeating here (from my first review): Once you are on the Supercharged Science email list (not as a paying customer, but a free subscriber), you will be receiving on average 10 emails/month. Some of them are definitely interesting and include great resources, but there are also a number of "Sales Pitch" emails. I have no problem ignoring them until something catches my eye, but I know many folks who find these sorts of emails very annoying. 

I mention this to simply say~ don't let the "soft/hard" sell emails deter you from checking out the fantastic program and resources being offered~ while the marketing is not my favorite style, the program is really, REALLY cool! :)  

One of those emails recently was a free teleclass/videoclass that Aurora was offering on a specific afternoon~ we weren't able to make it to the live class, but she left the link up for a couple of days so that we could access it and watch it later. The class had to do with lasers and light~ I won't tell you too much about it, but I will show you a photo that resulted from that class (Eldest had fun with the photography here): 

And here is a video that explains part of what went on during the class. 

I am also impressed by the fact that if you are going through one of the experiments, or wondering about something in the videos you can leave a comment, and Aurora usually gets back to you within a day or so. That's pretty neat! :) 

If you want to check out more of Supercharged Science, you can see some of their videos on YouTube. If you'd like to get a really good feel for the layout of the program and how it really works, Supercharged Science is offering my readers 1 month of access for $1. Please click this link 1MonthAccess$1 to find out all the details. 

And here is a link to access more sample experiments

You can find Supercharged Science in these places on the world-wide web:
Supercharged Science on Facebook
Supercharged Science on Twitter
Supercharged Science on Pinterest
Supercharged Science on GooglePlus
And Supercharged Science's Blog

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dolch Words anyone? (Mostly free nuggets)

I just had a friend asking about DOLCH words, and thought it would be good to have some of the resources I found for her gathered in one place for the sake of ease.

DOLCH words are the 220 most frequently used words in the English language, many of which cannot be easily sounded out. Edward William Dolch PhD created this list in 1948, and it has been used by educators ever since to help children memorize these words. has a bunch of online games and printables. This could be a good site for those whose children enjoy computer generated activities.

Jan Brett has some pretty flashcards on her site~ not individual flashcards for each word, but "sets" of flashcards... While you're there you might want to take time to explore her huge site~ I love the alphabet and math flash cards and games. There are coloring pictures, and resources for putting on plays based on her books, and MANY more resources!

Dolch Word List Resources from k12 ~ this site has a bunch of printables to use if your child thrives on worksheets.

This site has some great printables for hands-on activities Activities for Sight Words  Some of the activities are super for the Kinesthetic learners amongst us~ with games that revolve around throwing beanbags, card games and more. There are free samples for most games, and the complete activities are available for download. I like some of the ideas found here. has a "Dolch Kit" with many printables for practice and play. The kit looks fairly comprehensive, with flashcards, BINGO, and many other games to play, as well as "Record-keeping" and a Student practice book.

I hope these will be helpful to someone~ I'd love it if you leave a comment letting me know if you find these sorts of posts useful. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (Booksneeze Review)

Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel  by Katherine Reay is a book that takes a fresh look at the story line from Jean Webster's 1912 novel "Daddy Long-Legs." The story is that of an orphan girl writing regular letters to a mysterious benefactor, as a condition of an educational grant for her higher education. The letters become something of a journal for the girl, as her benefactor wishes to remain anonymous, and this is very much a one-sided conversation. 

I have fond memories of reading Jean Webster's novel as a teen (And now a geographical appreciation for the original's setting in New England, which I didn't remember from my reading it as a teen in Montana). This updated version changes the circumstances to some that are more familiar to the modern reader~ the foster care system operates a little differently from the orphanages of Webster's time, and  the story has more depth to it in many ways than Webster's original(although I still love it, as well).

The heroine, Sam(antha) Moore uses classical literary references (most frequently from the works of Austin or the Bronte's) as protective devices, when she is unsure how to relate to people in general. I found myself chuckling at many of the quotes, and a "game" that ensued between Sam and other characters as they used those references. Definitely amusing for the book nerds among us.

The writing of letters to her benefactor becomes a cathartic experience, and a portion of the mechanism through which Sam "finds" herself. I thoroughly enjoyed "Dear Mr. Knightley," because even though the plot mimicked Jean Webster's, the story was entirely fresh and new. A fantastic read!

Have you read Daddy Long Legs? Interested in Dear Mr. Knightley? Let me know in the comments!
"Dear Mr. Knightley" is available in Paperback, Library and ebook format at your favorite bookseller.
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 5, 2013)


Something fun from Dwane and Visual Latin/Compass Classroom! (Giveaway!)

Hey friends~ I have a fun opportunity for you from Dwane of Visual Latin fame, and Compass Classroom. Check it out!

~~~From Hip Homeschool Moms~~~
"Our friends at Compass Classroom asked us to help put together a contest for Dwane's new mystery video series.  Apparently after finishing Visual Latin , the producer said he had to teach a bunch of new classes - more than he could do in one year.  So he's in a dilemma and needs your help. Watch this video for a special message about what you can do to assist him.
Visit Hip Homeschool Moms to vote! By voting you'll automatically be entered to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards. To get more entries, share with your friends and on Facebook (as well as a lot of other things)." 


I love trading in points(450), earned during normal searches, for ($5) Amazon Gift Cards!


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