Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Schleich Plastic Animals/Action Figures

Well, I can easily say that this particular package was one of the most anticipated, and most joyously greeted review products by my children.... after all, who doesn't love getting toys in the mail? We received from the wildlife selection:
Lioness, walking Lion cub Meerkat, standing
a lioness .....................a lion cub................ and a Meerkat

and from the more domestic selection :
Holstein Cow Sheep standing Lipizzaner Mare
a holstein cow....................a sheep......... and a lipizzaner mare

The selection I received range in price from $2.49 for the lion cub to $6.49 for the Lipizzaner Mare. (Click on the pictures to be brought to individual product pages and descriptions)

I don't know how familiar you are with Schleich plastic animals, or action figures, so let me share a little bit with you.

I want to preface my review with a couple of comments. We started out 11 year-old's "plastic animal" collection when she was a wee child of one, when we purchased a zoo membership. Her animals came with us everywhere, and were a great source of imaginative play, and even engineering, as we learned to stack them, like the Bremen Town Musicians. ;) Now, 10+ years later, her collection is housed in a largish plastic container, and while it no longer goes "Everywhere" with us, it does make appearances at friends' homes, and often come out for play when we have visitors. I will also mention that "plastic animals" frequently show up on both the 8 year old and 11 year old Birthday and Christmas "Wish lists".

OK, that's all well and good, but now you may like to know just exactly WHY plastic animals and Schleich animals in particular, found their way into a homeschooling review, right?

Well, here's my take on it.

CREATIVITY: My children love animals, stories about animals, facts about animals, videos that feature animals, and so on. So, it is no surprise that they enjoy using their imaginations, creating their own stories and plays with their creatures.
NARRATION: They can be found re-telling the stories that we have read together, or that they are reading.
SCIENCE~ Classification: If the collection is large enough, they can be set up in in sets of Family, Genus and Species... much more fun than classifying pictures on paper.... ;)
~ Contrasting and Comparing features within a family
ART: what great models to draw from! I can tell you that one of Schleich products' main features is their realistic modeling of the animals , and the detailed hand-painting of the figures.

In addition, the animals are manufactured to strict safety standards (Which is important with a sometimes "mouthy" toddler in the house), and are very sturdy. They have a great feel and "heft" in the hand.

What a fun way to learn more about the natural world that God created, by bringing some of these realistic figures into your home!

Schleich also carries action figures from the worlds of Knights(great for medieval studies), the American Frontier, Dinosaurs, Sea life, and for those who enjoy Tolkein and CS Lewis, figures from the worlds of Fantasy and Elves.

I hope you check them out... they get a big thumbs up from *my* family! You can read what othr TOS Crew members had to say as well...


Generations of Virtue

In today's world of excess and "anything goes", it is a delight to find a company like Generations of Virtue, whose motto is "Purity of Heart, Purity of Mind, Purity of Body".

Generations of Virtue has a mission to make available God-honoring, Bible-based tools for parents, teenagers, and pre-teens, specifically, to help build up and maintain pure hearts, minds and bodies, which can be challenging in the current culture.

As the mother of a pre-teen girl, I was blessed to receive for review the three-book set "Beautifully Made". ($18.99)

Book 1~ Approaching Womanhood~ is written to the pre-teen (recommended ages 8-12) whose body may just be starting to change. It covers the various signs of maturing physically, and how to care for that changing body in a gentle but straight-forward mannner.

Book 2~ Celebrating Womanhood~ is also written directly to the pre-teen/teenage daughter, to be shared with her when she crosses sthe milestone between girlhood and young woman. It covers monthly cycles and how to deal with them in more detail, with a few appropriate line drawn illustrations. There is a section on symbolism which, depending on the individual may be extremely encouraging, or not, so I suggest that mom's pre-read and decide if this section will be helpful or muddy the waters for your particular child. Towards the end of the book there are a couple of pages that talk about natural helps for some typical, cyclical discomforts, which I found useful.

Book 3~ Wisdom from a Woman- Mother's Guide~ is written directly to moms. Communication is a key theme, with the key word (For me anyway) being CHANGE~
Physical predictors of CHANGE
ideas for Celebrating CHANGE
Dealing with CHANGING moods
The biology of CHANGE (And those moods...)
and finally, some "Tips for Moms"

These little books are all short, quick reads. They don't beat the topic to death, or go into any more detail than necessary. They form a gentle but practical foundation for dealing with one of those "Facts of Life", prepared by someone who shares similar values, and the same Biblical worldview. Thank you, Generations of Virtue for supplying this much-needed resource for today's moms and daughters, so that we can have respectful, caring, practical conversations about growing into the young ladies God intends our daughters to be.

For more reviews, including other Generations of Virtues products, please check out what other TOS Crew members had to say.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Spelling Software Option for you....

Hey, all~

If you have a student that enjoys working on the computer for review and quizzes, and needs help with spelling, you may want to check out Spellquizzer software.

I didn't review this software, as I am totally on a MAC, and it isn't compatible, but many others on the TOS Crew *did* have the opportunity to try and review it, so please feel free to hop on over, and check their reviews out...

Let me know what you think... ;)


Monday, March 16, 2009

Home School in the Woods - New Testament Activity-Pak

Have you heard of Home School in the Woods ? Well, I had heard of them, and even downloaded a sample pack at some point, but as is sometimes the case with a "sample", I didn't "get to it".

Well, I am very pleased that through the TOS Crew, I *did* "get to" their complete New Testament Activity-Pak ! (BTW, Pak is not misspelled... it is for Amy Pak, the brains and the artistic hands behind the beautiful, vintage-style graphics in all of the Home School in the Woods products)

I have been greatly pleased with the "hands-on" opportunity to help some major points of the New Testament "stick" in my kids' heads. The combination of the scripture on the graphics, coloring them in, cutting them out, and putting each component together is great for all types of learners.

Now, I have to be sure to mention that there are no "lesson plans" included in this Activity Pak, so you may want to use them piece by piece as each project comes up in your Bible Study. OR you could choose to focus on the Pak as a whole, and do a unit study on the New Testament, covering those portions highlighted in the Pak. Particular pieces lend themselves well to helping with scripture memorization. (The Beatitudes strikes me as one...) This Pak is also great for those who study their history in a "classical" fashion~ Just add them into your study of that time period!

The topics covered in the New Testament Activity Pak are:
  • The Lineage from David to Jesus
  • The Birth of Jesus Christ
  • Miracles of Jesus
  • The Beatitudes
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • The Parables of Jesus
  • The Last Supper
  • The Crucifixion
  • The Resurrection
  • The Ascension
  • Pentecost
  • Prophesies Fulfilled
  • The Twelve Disciples
  • Paul's Missionary Journeys
  • Postcards from Paul
  • A Newspaper Project (The New Testament News), which is a great Creative Writing Project
  • And an Armor of Salvation Poster project.
It is interesting to note how the brain works. My oldest was coloring the pictures for the Beatitudes "pizza book" while I was reading aloud to her and my middlest. Even a week or two later, looking at the book, she remembers what I was reading about when she was coloring. (Note to self... the time-line figures would be better options for her to color, when I'm reading history!) ;)

Oh, and about that "Pizza book", the directions are a little tricky, if you haven't done much "minit" book making, or lapbooking. We didn't have too much trouble, but part of that is because I had already checked out the "Pizza Book Kit" from Tobin's Lab that The Old Schoolhouse is offering in their freebie directory . While you are scrolling down to find the Tobin's Lab be sure to check out the Mini Authors Activity-Pak from Homeschool in the Woods! That will certainly give you a feel for the quality that you can expect from Amy Pak!

The New Testament Activity-Pak is available for immediate download for $18.95, or you can order it on CD for $19.95. There are two other Activity-Paks available, one for the Old Testament, and an Artists Activity-Pak that I can see would keep us busy for quite some time! :)

The ages recommended for these Paks are 3rd-8th grade. I would caution that some projects are better for younger, and some will be a bit more challenging for the olders. Depending on your children, and their ages, your help *may* be required for "construction" purposes. ;) They will ALL be beautiful, though!

Now, I hope you will visit some of my fellow TOS crew mates and their blogs~ some of them have some really wonderful pictures of their kids' work on this Pak (my digital camera woes are many, so I have no photos...). If you only have time to visit one, hop on over to Susan's Blog~ because Susan already owned the New Testament Activity-Pak, Amy Pak kindly agreed to let her bless someone with a give-away-drawing on her blog for the same.(The drawing ends on April 3rd... better hope that baby is either early or late, Susan!)


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One 2 Believe Noah's Ark set

Well, the good folks at One 2 Believe have sent us another playset to review and, well.... to play with!

You may recall the Nativity set that I mentioned back in November??? This time we were sent a Noah's Ark playset.

Let me give you my observations, and then I'll do another comparison for you:

The Ark is made of a rather thin but sturdy plastic that stands up to play fairly well. It took a little while to figure out that the deck is removable, and adult assistance is still occasionally requested, but that is a bonus in my mind... the animals are easily stowed below, and that way, when toddler-boy starts moving things around, they don't all get dumped, which is what happens with some other toys that we have...

I have heard that it floats well, but we haven't actually tested this aspect of play out... we'll probably wait for summer and toddler splashing pool to dunk the critters.

I have to say that the timing of this playset coming was good, with a toddler underfoot, and schooling going on, especially as he is beginning to "pretend play" with things more now. He is still fond of sheep, by the way... :) Oh, did I mention that the figures are "designed to fit perfectly in a young child's hand"? The carting of the sheep makes me concur with that statement!

So what all is included with this set?
The ark and Noah and 7 pairs of animals:
Ostriches (I have to note, middlest son used these ostriches for his models when making his Noah's Ark "Car" for AWANA's car night... so~ another use~ artistic "model"... ;) )

Included with the set is a booklet that tells the story of Noah and the flood, along with "Spiritual Stepping Stones" which can also be accessed in the free resources section of the One2Believe website. This talks about the general ages and stages of spiritual concepts; what most children can and/or are ready to understand, and when.

Now for those comparisons:

Friendly characteristics
Mostly not chokeable (3+)(Noah's staff is removable, and definitely a chokable item)
Immoveable parts
Expandable play with other sets
$30($29.99 to be precise) for ark, Noah and 7 pairs of animals
Self contained storage that stays shut!

Not chokeable (1+)
Immoveable parts
Expandable play with other sets
$38.75 for ark, Noah and 3 sets of animals. If you want to add on other "ark" animals, it will cost between $20 and $45 more to bring the total number of animals up to 7 pairs, and the total cost up to $83.73

Typical playmobil
Choking hazard!!! (3+ and intended for 4-10 year olds)
Movable parts including a crane
Expandable play with other sets
$90 for ark, noah and his wife, 13 pairs of animals, and typical playmobil accessories

I know that I mentioned this in the nativity review as well, but I think it is worth repeating:
Here’s one more thing to consider when making your purchase… I haven’t checked out what “charities” Playmobil and Fisher Price support, but one2believe supports many ministries in both the United States and abroad including Hero Antigua, Samaritans Purse, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife and local Southern California ministries. If you want your money to go further than the corporation, one2believe might be a good choice for you!

If you want to read some more reviews, be sure to stop by the TOS CREW Blog

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ARTistic Pursuits (K-3 Book2) and (Jr. High Bk1)

What a blessing to be able to review these two books from the ARTistic Pursuits art program. We are an art lovin' family, and this has been great fun!

I'll give you some pros and cons, and then my summary.

  • Art Programs directed specifically towards the Homeschooled Student, whether for individual instruction or classroom "Co-op" instruction.
  • Interesting text, and color photos of great artwork directly in the manuals... no need to go "Searching" for work by a particular artist. It's all there!
  • Methodical lessons that build on one another.
  • Art Supplies are easy to buy, bundled, directly from ARTistic Pursuits, or two other discount art supply sites. You can add the "bundle" to your cart, and delete those items you already own. EASY!
  • Initial cost: Approximately $43/ book and $30-$50 per book if you need to buy ALL of your art supplies. However, if you break this down into 32 weekly lessons, it averages out to a little over $3/week, so not really all that bad! AND with each successive volume, you will already have purchased some of the supplies, so the cost should go down....

Now for a summary discussion of each book

Grade K-3 Book 2 Stories of Artists and Their Art covers Gothic, Renaissance, and Academy Art of the 18th Century. This fit in very well with our current History study of the Middle Ages! What Providence!

I like the way Brenda Ellis (the author/publisher) has created fictional stories about the artists in their youth, to give the children a "Connection" with the past. She also highlights terms that one may run across in the study of Art History. It is never to early to start building that core of knowledge, and she does so in a very gentle and gradual manner. I mentioned in my "pros" that the artwork of the masters is right there in the manual, and there are observation/discussion questions as well.

Two of the projects my son did were using "gold leaf" (Foil chocolate wrappers!) and watercolor, and oil pastel "Scratch Art. We are doing a "Fresco" on plaster-coated cardboard next. The results have been delightful, and enjoyed by all!

You can see samples from this book and others in the series on the ARTistic Pursuits website.

Junior High Book 1 The Elements of Art and Composition featuring World Art.

This book is also set up well, and is written directly to the student, eliminating the necessity of "Teacher Preparation and Lecture". Each Unit has four distinct lessons (Set apart with gold type, so easy for the student to see, and know what needs to be done) covering:
Building a Visual Vocabulary
Art Appreciation and Art History
Application (A final project for the unit)

Another thing I like about the lessons being written directly to the student is that it gives my older student something to do that is interesting AND allows me to do something, either with my 8 year old, OR my toddler(like get him down for a nap!!)

You can see samples from this book here.

Other offerings include
Grades K-2(Featuring art from the Ancients through Modern)
  • Volume 1: An introduction to the Visual Arts
  • Volume 2:Stories of Artists and Their Art
  • Volume 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture
Grades 4-6(Featuring American Art)
  • Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition
  • Book 2:Color and Compostion
Junior High(Featuring World Art)
  • Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition
  • Book 2:Color and Compostion
Senior High(Featuring European Art)
  • Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition
  • Book 2:Color and Compostion

There is an excellent set of FAQs on the website, which includes a discussion about why all three series, from Gr. 4-Sr. High school are useful, and that covering what "looks like the same material" isn't REALLY the same. If you are familiar with the Classical approach, you will recognize this concept.

Don't forget to check out other crew members' reviews on a variety of the manuals available and their experiences with ARTistic Pursuits.

One final note:
I was so pleased with the classic art pieces chosen to go along with these books. I have been disappointed innumerable times with "Children's Art Books" that include "art" which my 11 year old is quick to term "inappropriate". I have wondered, with SO many possible pieces of art, WHY those paintings, sculptures , and drawings with nudity or questionable themes have been chosen for CHILDREN'S viewing(I mean.. really... Michaelangelo was fairly prolific!). Just doesn't make sense to me. Thank you, Brenda, for creating an art program that includes art history and appreciation with pictures/manuals that I am not afraid to let my children peruse on their own.

Till next time~

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Math Mammoth Golden 6-B, Light Blue Grade 2

We were recently given the opportunity to review a couple of products from Maria Miller's Math Mammoth Worksheets and Mathtexts~
Golden Series 6-B, and Light Blue Complete Grade 2

Golden Series 6-B, a series of worksheets which covers operations that may typically be learned in 6th grade:
- Geometry
- Integers and coordinate system
- Equations
- Ratio and percent
- Probability
- Statistics
These worksheets were originally intended to be used for tutoring students who were having trouble with their math, and needed extra help. As such, they are not complete work-texts, and do not have instruction. They are simply worksheets that enable the student to do extra work on a given subject, with some material presented differently. We are able to use them for extra practice on a few portions of intergers and coordinate systems, and ratio and percent, but realized that there were some things that our normal math program hadn't yet covered, and since the sheets don't give instruction, we will be saving them until needed. You can see some Sample pages if you scroll down... on the right hand side of the screen, to see if these are a good fit for you.

I think that these could be very helpful for those who have children that need a little extra practice, and are extremely cost effective, especially if you are planning to use them for more than one child, as they are "non-consumable", meaning you can print as many worksheets as you need for your household. (Remember how much those "workbooks" at Staples, Walmart, Teacher stores cost? These really are a deal, if they are what you are looking for!)

These will not be a great fit for you, or a necessary purchase if your child is a whiz at math, and doesn't need extra practice, UNLESS your child loves math so much that they beg to have extra problems... in which case... go for it! :)

The cost is very reasonable:
Golden 6B is 78 pages Golden 6A is 85 pages
(73 worksheets) (78 worksheets)
Price: $8.00 PDF download Price: $8.50 PDF download
Answer key $2 Answer key $2

OR you can purchase both 6A and B plus both answer keys in a package for $14.50

Light Blue Grade 2 Complete Curriculum was the series my 8 year old is reviewing/using.
Unlike the Golden series, the Light Blue series is packaged as a complete curriculum, with
instructions and sample problems throughout.

From the Website:

The two books for grade 2 focus on

  • memorizing the basic addition and subtraction facts with single-digit numbers
  • developing fluency with multidigit addition and subtraction
  • place value with 3-digit numbers.
Also included is introduction to multiplication concept, measuring and geometry topics, clock reading and money (US, Euro, or Canadian). Please see the table of contents for 2-A and 2-B for complete lesson lists.

The worksheets are very interesting, because they focus on teaching practical math, using some different methods, and puzzles, in addition to some general "Drilling" of the math facts. There are also word problems used throughout the lessons, which help children understand the "how" and the "why" of their math operations.
Samples for 2A, Samples for 2B

One thing I appreciated were the suggested links included in the text, for online resources. There is a plethora of free resources available and listed for almost every topic. Great for extra practice, review, and I just LOVE "homework" that feels like a game! :)

I have to say that some of the methods of finding the answers were confusing to my son(He is used to "completing 10" in a slightly different way than is used in portions of Math Mammoth) but that is the blessing of showing the work in different ways... you can figure out what "works" and makes sense for your child. For instance I don't remember ever learning "Number Rainbows", but thought they were an interesting concept, and may be easier for some children to use than a number line. You can see Number Rainbows here at Maria Miller's Math Blog.

All in all, I would say that this is a good, solid 2nd grade math program. Oh, I also need to mention that Math Mammoth uses a topical approach rather than the popular spiral approach to mathematics, so you may be interested to see how that works for your child.
Part A alone: $15.50
Part B alone: $15.50
A & B $29.70

The prices I listed for both Series are for PDF downloads. You can find Math Mammoth E-products at The Math Mammoth Kagi Store, or Currclick,

If you would like CD and/or printed worktexts for the light blue series, you can find them at WinterPromise for $32 for the CD only, and $52 for the Cd AND printed Worktext.

You can purchase books from more series at prices ranging between $8.40 and $21.95, with the option to purchase some books in Spanish, also.

If you aren't happy with your current Math program, you may want to check this out, and see if Math Mammoth will work for you. At these prices, it isn't cost-prohibitive to "sample" and see.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Five In A Row(FIAR) Volume 3

Mostly FIAR-related activity photos Fun stuff! 
This is one review that I am *extremely* pleased to be able to write, as this has been my core curriculum of choice since 2002. Yes... that's right, ever since my oldest was in Kindergarten, we have been "Rowing" with Jane Claire Lambert and Five In A Row.

It has boggled my mind over and over when I have heard people say things like "oh yes, I used that for Kindergarten", or maybe even "Kindergarten and 1st grade....But we've moved on."

Let me tell you a little bit about the concept, and then I'll tell you what we love, and why we've used it for more or less 1st -4th grade, moving into Beyond FIAR for 5-7th grade.

FIAR is, once again, a combination of things I love, good stories, beautiful artwork, and unit studies. Jane Claire Lambert, a homeschooling veteran of 17 years, searched out gems in the picture book world of literature, and pulled together unit studies utilizing those books as the core of her curriculum. Her style of teaching/learning is called "Conversational learning/teaching", a very gentle method of educating that really does "stick".

The basic concept of Five In a Row is that the story is read five days in a row. Each day you can pull something different from the story~ Geography, Social Studies/History, Science, Language Arts, Fine Arts, and even a little bit of Applied Math(But not enough for a complete math program... that subject must be supplemented, as well as phonics). Then, when you read the story each day, whether you comment on the previous day's "lesson" or not, your child is most likely "reviewing" in their head!

click to purchase on Amazon *affiliate link
Day 1 you read a story(We'll use Warm as Wool by Scott Russell Sanders as our example), being sure to include the author and illustrator in your reading. Then you talk about the location of the story, in this case, the main character's family moves from Connecticut to Ohio. So you pull out a map and find Connecticut, then trace the way to Ohio.

sample Story disc
From Angelo, Vol 4
You can use the "Story Discs" (found in the back of the manual) which have representative drawings for each book to make a literature map... coloring the disc, putting the name of the story on the back (laminating for durability, if you like), and placing the disc on the map(Or you can draw your own disc!). With Warm As Wool, the disc could "travel" from Connecticut to Ohio. I usually include some of the history and social studies discussion from the manual on this first day as well.

Warm as Wool has 5 lessons for Social Studies, and since I have an older student, I like to try to hit them all, so I'll do one for each of the 5 days. When my kids were younger (K-2) I would only do one or two of the lessons, keeping in mind that we could always "Re-row" the book in a couple of years, if we wanted to. Just to give you an idea, the topics for Social Studies are:
*Covered Wagons(This could play into Art as well),
*Relationships~ Suffering,
*Geography and History~ as mentioned above~ You can include the Great Lakes in this lesson as well.
*Character~ Prudence, Vision, and Perseverance
*Log Cabin Life

Day 2, pull out the story disc, and see if your student can place it correctly. Then read the story again. This is the day I usually go over the science lesson, as it adds quickly to the interest level, especially if there is an experiment. Warm as Wool doesn't have an experiment exactly, but I did plan ahead. You see there are these great FIAR message boards, where FIAR moms and dads get together and discuss what they are doing with each book. There are also archives of some of the great ideas, projects, and resources that people have used over the years (Some time ago it was mentioned on the FIAR Boards that the Pendleton Wool Company had an educational kit for educators, so I sent away for it, and still have it to use with my second student! I don't know if it will always be available, but you can always check.).

Day 3, if you have a child that balks at reading the same book "Five days In A Row" (I don't... my kids love the repetition), you could have the child read the story this time, then go for Language Arts or Art, again, starting the story by placing the disc on the map. There are 4 Language Arts "Discussions" that you can choose from in the Warm As Wool lesson. Some are very short and sweet, just casually mentioning Book Jackets, Prologues, and Authors notes. There are others that might take 5-20 minutes, depending on the age of your student, and how far you want to go. Simile, Descriptive Language, and "Remembering What You've Read" (Otherwise known as "Narration" ;) ).

Day 4 is Art, with options to discuss Musical Instruments, and the Illustrations with a focus on facial expressions and imagination.

Day 5 can be an Applied Math day, and a fill in for any of the lessons that you didn't get to. You could also use this day to review, utilizing one of the new Fold-N-Learns (Free when you subscribe to the blog)  available for many of the books at the FIAR Digital Store. A fun way to read the book this last day is to leave out words or phrases, or change them up, and see if your kids can "catch you".

Now here is one of the things that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about FIAR. It is so incredibly simple to use "As is".... Choose your story, grab your manual, and go snuggle up on the couch to read. The lessons are all IN the manual, so there is very little else that you have to gather(Although it is helpful to have a map handy...;) )!

If you WANT to you can add in go-along books, activities, create your own lapbooks, notebook, etc, but none of that is essential for a well-balanced and complete lesson. As a matter of fact, many of the FIAR "Veterans" have discovered that KISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetie) is the way to go much of the time.

There is a wealth of information on the FIAR Website, both in the message boards, and in articles by the Lamberts. Oh, and about that website, and the forums... They are like an extension of the Lambert's living room. They have invited us all in to gather and chat about our journeys with FIAR, things that work, and so much more.

The Lamberts have poured their hearts into the homeschool community, and that that is a huge portion of what FIAR is all about to me. The building of RELATIONSHIP through EDUCATION. My relationship with my children. Their relationships with me, each other, and the world. Our relationships individually, and as a family, with God. And as a special blessing, through the FIAR "Family", relationships with other homeschoolers throughout this country and the world.

OK, so I have one more quick "Story" to share, and then I'll give you all the pertinent details on FIAR.

The Story of Ping
FIAR inspired art by Eldest
When Middlest was rowing
When we started our homeschool journey 7 years ago, my husband was willing to give it a go, but wasn't quite as certain that it would work. So... first day of Kindergarten we started in Volume 1 with the first book, The Story of Ping. We read the story, found the Yangtze River on the map, and then jumped right in to the Science lesson, because I figured that would be a good thing to show Daddy when he came home. The science experiment I chose to do was discovering the property of bouyancy. I had my 5 year old and my 2 year old collect about 7 or 8 small things from around the yard and the house. We made a chart for each group, with a place to mark a guess as to whether each item would sink or float, and then a place to mark what actually happened.

The timing was such that Daddy arrived home as we were filling out our "Data sheet", and boy was he impressed! "Wow! This is REAL science! Hypothesis, Experiment, Observation, and Summary" Of course it was all done on a 2-5 year old level, but things stuck! My son has known since he was 2, because of that experiment, what the word Bouyant meant, and how to use it correctly! (And it wasn't even HIS lesson!)

Alright, I suppose I have enthused enough, and I'm sure that you can tell by now, that I am a huge fan of FIAR. I hope that you will check it out, and see how delightful educating your grammar aged children at home can be!

SO... the details:
FIAR is available in a number of levels.
Before FIAR is a volume for the pre-K crowd, and is less structured.
Cost: $35.00 for 23 units PLUS an entire section on learning readiness activities for children aged 2-4

FIAR Volumes 1-3 for 4-8 year olds (We used it through 3rd grade), and Volume 4 for 7-8/9 year olds(We used it through 4th grade)
Cost:$35.00 with 19 lessons in Vol 1, 21 lessons in Vol 2, and 15 lessons in Vol 3
$75 for Volume 4, which includes the Christian Character and Bible Study Supplement and Recipes for each of the 15 units.

Sample Lessons are available on each product page
Beyond FIAR Volumes 1-3 is a series for 8-12 year olds (We're using it for 5-7th grade) with 4 chapter books in each volume~ 2 historic, and 2 fiction
Cost $24.95

I will mention that there are some books in the manuals that have gone OOP(Out Of Print).

Many of the books can be found via InterLibraryLoan(ILL), and even if you can't find them, there are more than enough other units in the manuals to make them well worth the price. This is one of the most well-rounded and inexpensive curriculums out there, especially if you are interested in using the Library. Even if you find that your children (and you) fall in love with the books, and want to start your own FIAR library in your home, it is possible to do so slowly and fairly inexpensively. (I'm currently trying to collect 3 sets of all of the FIAR books, because my Eldest and Middlest have told me that they each want their own set to use with any children that they might have, and I'm expecting that my littlest will follow in their footsteps. :) )

Let me know if you have any questions! I'd be happy to answer them as well as I can, but be sure to check out the FIAR FAQs page first. :)




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