icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: April 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Product Review: The Curiosity Files-Platypus e-book

'The Curiosity Files-Explorations with Professor Ana Lyze, Expert in Outlandish Oddities' is a series of e-books published by The Old Schoolhouse magazine.  We reviewed the Platypus e-book in our homeschool, and had a blast with the fun activities! This unit study is aimed at the 8-13 age range and is $6.95-well worth the price, in my opinion.

Every subject you need is included in this e-book. Some of the topics are:
*Everything You Never Wanted to Know about the Platypus
*Platypus baby math and cooking
*Platypus 10s (counting by 10s math activities)
*The Write Stuff-includes limericks, spelling and vocabulary word lists, activities and puzzles
*Copywork-scripture verses in both manuscript and cursive
*In The Lab-science activities
*Good Old Days-history activities including mapping skills and timeline
*Let’s Get Creative-craft ideas
*Curiosity Fact Files-mini books and folder to make
*Read All About it-lists of books to read about the Platypus
*Hands On Learning-for special needs learners

I was impressed with many aspects of this unit study. It is written in a fun way for kids to really get excited about learning. Colorful pictures are throughout the study, as well as questions to answer about what you have learned. The games and activities were great-the Platypus Bill Scoop using out leftover Easter candy was a big hit! Other favorites at our house were the Platypus Burrow (using blankets to make a burrow-what kid doesn’t LOVE doing this?), and the Platypus food (gummy worms in chocolate pudding). The all-time favorite with my 8-year-old son was the Limericks!! He laughed so hard I didn’t think he would stop! Now he is trying to make his own Limericks about everything. That was the great thing about this study-my son had so much fun he didn’t realize he was doing all the ‘school’ subjects. (Don’t tell, but Mom had fun too!)

Throughout the Platypus e-book, activities are separated by lower and upper grades, which was very helpful. Although the suggested age range for this e-book is 8-13, I truly think you could expand to younger and older ages. There were many book and website suggestions for further research, and answer keys in the back. I think it would have been helpful to have the book list for further reading also separated by lower and upper grades/ages, as I had to go through each book to check if it was at my son’s level.

Now that we have finished the Platypus unit study (although I do plan to use it again when he’s a little older and can do the upper grade activities), I would like to get more unit studies in The Curiosity Files line. They are enjoyable and educational for kids and parents!

If you are interested in this e-book or others, visit the store at The Old Schoolhouse magazine: http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: 'Please Stop Laughing at Me' by Jodee Blanco

'Please Stop Laughing at Me' by Jodee Blanco is a heartbreaking, true story of the author's many years of bullying, taunting, and abuse at the hands of her schoolmates.  For all accounts, she was a normal little girl, and popular for many years in elementary school. She also had loving, supportive parents.  Jodee was very intelligent, and began being bullied because she stuck up for deaf children in a special program at her school.  From then on, the bullying followed her, even with school changes.  She had a few times of beginning to fit in, but something always happened to make classmates turn on her.  In High School, a disfigurement of her chest was noticed by another girl in the locker room, and that made the taunting even worse. 

This girl was not just bullied and taunted.  She was abused, physically and mentally.  I was amazed at what these children did to her, and Ms. Blanco does not hold back in telling the stories.  The language can also be rough at times, when she repeats what these bullies said to her.   This book is not the type of book I would normally read, yet I was intrigued by the subject matter.  Then once I received the book, I was so shocked at what this girl went through that I couldn't put the book down.  I was inspired by the author's strength for so many horrible years, and how she overcame her fears and was able to attend her High School reunion, confronting many of her attackers. She is a successful professional woman now, and is an advocate and speaker for anti-bullying programs.  In the back of the book, there is a Reader's Guide-Q & A with author Jodee Blanco, the author's professional biography, and a description of her Day-long Anti-bullying program called 'It's Not Just Joking Around'.    I would definitely recommend this book to adults who were bullied as children, parents of school-age children, and teachers. After reading this book, I am glad that I chose to homeschool my children!
 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cool Giveaway!!

Cindy at Along the Way is giving away this great set of Interlox from Guidecraft!
I know Chad would love to have these!!  Click here to enter the giveaway for your chance to win these: http://gironlife.blogspot.com/2011/04/interlox-guidecraft-mom-review-and_18.html

Speaking of Giveaways, I'm excited to announce that I am going to have my very first giveaway soon! Be on the lookout for it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

If you like Reese's PB cups........

Here at my house, we LOVE Reese's Peanut Butter cups.  Right now you'll find the cute little egg-shaped ones in the stores for Easter.  I ran across this recipe for DIY Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs over at Tip Junkie, and knew we had to try them ourselves.  Alyssa and I got busy, and here they are:   
No, they aren't the prettiest things, but they taste good, and were very easy to make!  In the end, they did not taste exactly like Reese's, but they were pretty darn close!!  The recipe is in the link above-enjoy!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

What we're up to!

There have been some major changes in our lives in 2011, so I thought I'd do an update on what we're up to these days.  There are some big changes going on with our house itself, but I'll save that update for later in the month when all the work is done-exciting! The biggest change in our lives is our oldest son, Nick, left to go live in Minneapolis for six months!  This is part of a new job-he will be selling cable and phone services there.  It is really strange having him so far away for such a long time, but it does help that Jeff is from Minnesota (Mankato), and has lots of family in the Minneapolis area, as well as his Mom, brother and his family in Mankato, about a 1 1/2 hour drive from where Nick is.  So it is a comfort knowing he has family close by.  He actually chose Minneapolis over Nashville for that reason.  I have a feeling it is going to be a long six months-especially for his little brother Chad, who adores him. Update 4/24/11: Nicholas is home in Utah!  The job/situation just was not a good fit for him.  We are glad he's home,  especially his wrestling buddy Chad!

We also had a big loss a few months ago-our 17 year old miniature schnauzer Raley passed away.  We had him for 11 years, and he was honestly the best dog.  Up until his last day, he was still full of energy and fun.  The great thing is he was so in love with everyone, but especially the kids.  He adored the boys' rough and tumble energy.  It was great because Nick was about 8 years old when we got Raley, so they were best buddies for years, and then we got Chad as Nick was becoming a teenager, and Raley had another round of loving on a boy!!  He loved us girls too, but there was something special about that 'boy and his dog' bond.  Raley also loved his sister Iris, our other schnauzer.  She is having a rough time being without him, but it is getting better.  The house sure is quiet without him, and we miss him a lot.  This picture was taken the day he died-Iris (in sweater) knew something was wrong, and kept smelling him.

I've already blogged about another big change-Alyssa driving!  She is gone all the time now, driving herself  everywhere she needs to go.  So Chad and I are often home without a car, which is okay because we need to get our schoolwork done!
The rest of us are just doing our normal stuff-homeschooling for me and Chad, Jeff working his two jobs (which we are very thankful for!), and our activities outside the home. I did read the Bible in 90 days, which was awesome! We are looking forward to Spring coming (it is still snowing and cold here, which is normal for Utah), and surely more changes to come!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bible in 90 days update-I DID IT!!!!!!

Wow, I can't believe I read through the entire Bible from cover to cover!!  I ended up finishing on day 89 even!  It is a great feeling, and I completely suggest this program to anyone and everyone!  I believe the next group starts in July, and here is the link for more information:
Bible in 90 Days General Information
When I started this program just after New Year's, I was skeptical.  My thoughts were that I didn't see how you could retain much when you were reading so much each day.  It is about 1 1/2 hours of reading a day.  I also didn't think I could find that much time seven days a week.  Well, I feel God carried me through this program, because life still happened-still all the sicknesses, emergencies, stresses, and I found the time.  Usually it was in the evening, instead of watching TV.  I struggled a bit in the Old Testament with concentration, but once I really got into a habit of reading every day, no matter what time it was, it was natural.  I know that I have no excuses now in finding time for Bible reading and study.  As far as retaining the information-wow!  I learned and retained so much.  I have never read through the Bible before, but I have tried many times with 1-year programs, and never made it past a few months.  I think reading this every day without taking any breaks, it was like I was reading a story that all came together.  Obviously, there wasn't time to study what I was reading, but now I know what I want to go back and study.  I just can't say enough great things about this program, and I am thrilled to have completed it.  Thanks so much to  Amy at Mom's Toolbox who put all this together, and my leader and mentor Heidi at Reviews and Reflections!  My husband Jeff was also a great help, as he would come home after a long, hard day to have me disappear into the bedroom for a few hours to read.   

The Bible was not the only thing I read during this past three months; I did read a few fiction books and my study books for the groups I am in.  Along with the Bible, though, I read a little 99 cent book called 'Know Your Bible'.  Before each book in the Bible, I would read the summary in this book-it had unique things to look out for, who wrote that book, the timeline, and other interesting facts.  I would suggest using that book also.  My life the past three months can definitely be summed up by one word: reading!!  It was great though, and I'm just so excited to have done this. I have been doing the happy dance all weekend long!! Feel free to ask me any questions, or go to the general information link above to check it out yourself for the next round this summer!