Sunday, September 30, 2012

Music Together {Review}


The kids and I really love to listen to music and dance around.  I really thought that getting to review Music Together would be lots of fun, and boy was I right! 

Music Together is an internationally know early childhood music and movement program for children up to 7 years old and the adults who love them!


Music Together sent us their Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers, as well as the Family Favorites CD to review for the TOS Crew.  The first thing we did was listen to the Family Favorites CD.  From the beginning one thing was certain, they had come up with a perfect name for this CD.  The songs on the CD were lots of fun and quickly became favorites for us too! 

The songs included on the Family Favorites CD are:

  1. Hello Song
  2. Biddy Biddy
  3. Splishing and Splashing
  4. Ridin' in the Car
  5. Stick Tune
  6. She Sells Sea Shells
  7. Playin' in the Kitchen
  8. Palo, Palo
  9. John the Rabbit
  10. Spin and Stop
  11. Mississippi Cats
  12. One Little Owl
  13. Goin' for Coffee
  14. Obwisana
  15. I've Been Working on the Railroad
  16. Dancing with Teddy
  17. Allee Galloo
  18. May All Children
  19. Goodbye, So Long, Farewell
You can listen to samples of the songs here.

The kids really enjoy listening to these songs.  This is a great CD to play in the car or when during chore time, it can really get them all moving!

The Teacher Songbook added a whole other level of fun.  The book starts off explaining the philosophy of Music Together.  Then I read about using different instruments, and the games and activities that they suggest.

The next section of the song book takes each song and gives suggested activities and instruments.  For instance, for the song I've Been Working on the Railroad they suggest sitting and singing and then going into large movement (large movement, is defined as any activity done while standing).  They suggested that we use pretend sledgehammers as we "work" on the railroad and play pretend fiddles.  Talk about lots of fun!   Other fun suggestions were to play a secret singer game and read a few books on trains. 

Another really fun song on the CD is called Biddy Biddy.  This song is lots of fun.  Little Bits (4 years old) and I had a good old time with this one.  The book suggested that we use egg shakers to the tune of the music.  We didn't have egg shakers so we just put some rice into some small plastic containers and used those instead.  They also suggest using the children's names in the song and large movement. 

I feel like the Family Favorites CD could stand alone, but the Songbook does have a lot of fun ideas.  The Songbook and CD would make a full music curriculum for children 7 and under.   The Family Favorite CD is available for $14.95, the Songbook for $29.95 or you can purchase the Songbook and CD together for $39.95.  If you use the coupon code “Schoolhouse” at checkout on the Music Together online store, you can save an additional $2 on your purchase.

Disclaimer: We received this product at no charge to us in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homeschool Legacy


Over the years I have really come to love unit studies.  I like taking a topic and totally immersing ourselves in it, covering most if not all of our subjects.  So getting the opportunity to try a new unit study definitely appealed to me.  

The TOS Crew introduced our family to Homeschool Legacy, a company that currently offers over 10 Once-A-Week Unit Studies based mostly on history and nature.  The Once-A-Week Unit Studies were created by Sharon, a veteran homeschool mom of 16 years.  Her desire was to create easy to use unit studies that were not only educational and fun, but helped parents build a strong, Godly, family legacy while educating their children.

Since we love all things nature over here in the LSG home, when I was asked which of the Once-A-Week Unit Studies we would be interested in doing, it was a simple decision.  We choose Birds of a Feather.  Each of the unit studies range from 4 to 8 weeks, Birds of a Feather lasted 4 weeks. 


 The Once-A-Week Unit Study is designed to go along with your regular daily studies.  You simply add in reading each day and one day of activities, which also includes a family devotional.  Family movies and field trip suggestion are also listed each week. 

I really liked the feel of the Once-A-Week Unit Study.  It is jam packed with book, movie and field trip ideas and yet it did not feel overwhelming to me at all.  There were many activities in this study that we were able to pick and choose from.  I loved having everything at my fingertips, all the work was done for me, all I had to do was choose what our books, movies and the fun activities we were going to do. 

The Once-A-Week Unit Studies cover:

family devotionals, quality library reading selections, family read-alouds, history, science, geography, language, life skills, research, art, crafts, music, classic literature, documentaries, field trip suggestions, family game and movie nights, and even some fun "Stump Your Dad Trivia."

Let me give you all a sampling from the first week of our Birds of a Feather study. 
  • The book selections were great. My suggestions were favorites like Are You My Mother, The Story About Ping and The Little Red Hen, as well as some new ones like If You Were A Parrot and The Luckiest One of All.
  • Our Family Devotional took us to Genesis chapter 1.  In reading the suggested portions of scripture, the kids are reminded that birds are part of God's marvelous creation.  We also got to talk about what the birds need to in order to survive.     
  • Two of the neat, yet simple, activities from Bird's of a Feather is to set up a bird feeding station and a simple birdbath.  I did not feel like I had to run out and buy a ton of supplies for these activities.  I felt that Sharon did a great job at keeping homeschoolers in mind, the items were mostly simple things from around the house.   
  • For family movie night she suggested the movie Fly Away Home, which is a really good movie BTW!   
  • Another thing that I thought was pretty cool was that she includes a little section called Stump Your Dad Trivia.  I thought it was a great way to include dad and let him know what they are learning about.   
If you are anything like me, there are so many things that you want to study with the kids.  So many topics, so little time {smile}.  For me, I feel like the Once-A-Week Unit Study is a great way to a incorporate a topic of interest with out overwhelming my regularly scheduled program.  It adds that fun learning element with out too much planning and effort on my part. 

The Once-A-Week Unit Studies range in price from $15.95 to $19.95.  Each of the studies are suitable for students in grades 2-12.  We The People, being the only exception, is recommended for grades 4-12.   As I mentioned, there are currently over 10 Once-A-Week Unit studies available
I like and would recommend the Once-A-Week Unit Studies.  I think they are great for a unit study veteran as well as a newbie! 

In the near future I am hoping to do the We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution study to go along with our American History studies. 


Disclaimer: We were given a copy of the Bird's of a Feather Once-A-Week Unit Study free of charge  in exchange for an honest review. 

Menu Plan Monday 9/24/12

I just can't seem to be faithful with my menu posts.  Between real life, homeschooling and everything else, my blog has been suffering a bit.  I am going to try to get back on track with my blog, starting now.  So here goes...

I have still been menu planning, mainly because it keeps me sane and the people fed.  Last month I actually planned out a whole month of dinner ideas.  I think I like doing my planning this way best, it means that I only have to rack my brain once a month verses 4 or 5 times. 

I just jotted down 5 weeks worth of dinner ideas and each week I have been pulling from that list, checking them off as I go.  In addition to the monthly list, each week I write up a quick weekly menu and fill out my grocery list.  I then hang weekly menu plan on the refrigerator so I that I can refer to it through out the week. 

Our breakfast and lunches pretty much stay the same every week.  I guess we are pretty boring that way.

Baked Oatmeal
Yogurt & Cereal Bar
French Toast

All breakfast meals have a fruit of some sort to go along with them.

Hot Ham & Cheese
Mac & Cheese
Chicken Nuggets & Fries
Cheese Quesadillas w/ Salsa & Sour Cream
Dogs & Tots
Egg Salad, Tuna Salad or Chicken Salad

I know, not very fancy at all.  We also have a fruit and/or a veggie with lunch and sometimes the occasional potato chip. 

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes, Mixed Veggies
BLT's, Carrot Sticks, Cantaloupe
Oven Fried Parmesan Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli
Homemade Pizza (we usually have this once a week)
Italian Sausage with Bowties (this is so yummy!)
BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Fruit and Chips

As you can see the theme for this week is easy! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Redeemer

by Phillip P. Bliss

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.

Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant power I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.

I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav’nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.

You can listen to My Redeemer here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Marshall Publishing


I love it when we get the opportunity to review a product from a company we already know we love!  A while back we reviewed, and loved, the Lots and Lots of Firetrucks video from Marshall Publishing. 

This time we were given the chance to review one of 4 videos that Marshall Publishing offers.  We could choose from.....
They all sounded good so I took a vote.  The History of the Oregon Trail & The Pony Express won!  The kids all seemed to have an interest in learning about the Pony Express.  This year we are focusing on early American history so I knew this video would fit perfectly into our studies. 
We enjoyed watching The History of the Oregon Trail portion of the video, which was about 35 minutes long.  It really explained the reasons why so many people risked their lives to take the 2,000 mile trip across the country on the Oregon Trail.  Seeing the trail, covered wagons and illustrations were very helpful in visualizing what it was really like to take this massive journey.   We learned a little about steam boats, the prairie, and wagon trains.  We also learned about the beautiful landscape that they encountered on their journey.   

Our favorite part of the video was the part about The Pony Express, which is about 16 minutes long.  It was neat to see how the Pony Express started, how it worked and how it paved the way for US Postal Service.  The boys, of course, liked watching the cowboys race across the prairie to deliver the mail.  Until watching this video I did not realize that The Pony Express was an independently run company, I always thought it was run by the government.  Nor did I know that it lasted such a short time and went bankrupt!  I really loved hearing the oath that the Pony Express riders took!
Lots and lots of interesting information on this video.  The History of Oregon Trail & The Pony would be a great addition to any early American History study. This video would be most helpful for audio and visual learners. 
The History of the Oregon Trail & The Pony Express video is currently available for $19.95You can use the COUPON CODE - TOS27 to receive FREE SHIPPING! 
Disclaimer: We were given this video free of charge is exchange for a honest review.

Schoolhouse Satuday Swag {Giveaway}

This week for the Schoolhouse Saturday Swag they are doing a giveaway for an awesome Language Arts Bundle, valued at nearly $200!  This bundle contains Write Shop Primary A and B Teacher’s Guides and Activity Worksheet Packs, and Scott Foresman Reading Street Homeschool Package for grade 4.

We actually reviewed one of the Write Shop Primary books, and really liked it. 

Visit the Schoolhouse Saturday Swag giveaway page to enter.   This giveaway ends September 20th, 2012.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Speekee TV

Speekee Logo
Learning another language is something that I have always wished I had done when I was younger.  So when I think of things that I would like for my children to learn, another language is definitely on the list. 

We were recently given the chance to review the very popular Spanish program Speekee.  The review included 10 full episodes of Speekee TV, which is over 150 minutes of Spanish learning. 


The method of learning Spanish with Speekee TV is really quite simple, watch and learn.  Children love to watch Speekee because of the fun songs, animation, and puppets.  They enjoy watching and learning from other children that are featured in the videos.  As children watch the Speekee videos over and over, they really begin to pick up the Spanish language. 

In addition to the Speekee TV episodes we were also given a weekly Fast Track email.  The Fast Track email helps to maximize learning with an easy to follow 40 week plan with activities and worksheets that go along with the different episodes.  The Fast Track gave us many different ideas to help the children further learn with Speekee.  For instance after watching the video 'El parque' we were instructed to count in Spanish together, role play and do short quiz from what we had learned so far.  I think that the Fast Track plan is a wonderful part of the program, it makes Speekee much more than just a video. 

I thought that the videos were pretty good as well.  As a non Spanish speaking person, I found it very helpful that the words were always at the bottom.  As, I watched the videos with my younger children I could explain what the different words were.

We all liked the different videos, the kids and of course Speekee and Lupi!  The variety of the videos were very good.  Each video takes place some where different like at a cafe, the zoo, the beach, at a party, and so on.

Speekee Ages

Speekee is geared for children ages 2-10 years of age.  All of my children liked Speekee, but they were not into it as much as my youngest, who is 4.  He LOVES Speekee and loves to sing the intro song - over and over and over and over!  Which is a wonderful thing!

I like that Speekee can be watched and learned at one's own pace.  Watching the videos and adding in a few activities here and there is the kind of relaxed pace we enjoy.

I would recommend Speekee for anyone with younger children that they want to introduce Spanish to.  Speekee is a fun and engaging way to learn Spanish!

You can get Speekee TV one of two ways, either a monthly subscription for $7.50 or annually for $60.00. 

Disclaimer: We received Speekee TV at no cost to us in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

written by Elisha A. Hoffman

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.


The kids and I are starting to study hymns this year using the book Then Sings My Soul.  I have been waiting a loooonnnggg time to get into this book!  I love to read about how the Lord led people to write these beautiful hymns for His glory!

For the next 2 weeks we are going to be learning Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.  You can listen to it here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up! and Butterflies

Whew, it seems like this week has flown by!  Maybe it was the 3 day weekend and short week.  Whatever it was I am glad it is Friday! 

 We just came off of our first 1 week break which was really nice!  Last week we let the school books collect dust while we relaxed. 

We also took a trip downtown to the Natural History Museum and did the Butterfly Exhibit (which is FREE on Tuesdays).  We had a great time with friends and got to see some really cool stuff.

The butterflies were beautiful and...

so were the flowers!

Was was really cool was the boys kept pointing out things that we have just read about a day or two before in those Jim Arnosky books I was telling you about.  I told them, "God is so good!  Here we just read about a coral reef yesterday and now you are getting to see one."  I just love when God works stuff like that out. 

The Butterflies were amazing!  This was our second time doing this, the last time was a few years ago.  It was nice to go in the butterfly pavilion and NOT have a totally freaked out child like last time {smile}.

This week we started to get back into the grove of things. I am still loving Trail guides to Learning, BTW.  I have modified it a little bit to fit our family, because as a homeschooler I can do that.

Mostly what I mean by modify, because I know you'll be wondering, is we not do every single thing in the book.  For instance, I really, really thought that my kids would love the drawing lessons in the book and well, not so much.  So I am not pressing those. 

My kids do LOVE the animal studies so we make sure we don't miss any of those!  We just don't do every single geography or science notebook page that the book tells us to do.  I print out a few of them each week and we just use what works for us.  There are lots of great notebook pages that TGTL offers, but I was finding that doing them every day along with everything else we are doing was too much. 

It took me a few weeks but I think I can finally say, I have found my homeschool happy place! 

This week we started on Jamestown.  Things are going great.  One thing that has made a difference is the way we are doing our reading.  You see, I really enjoy reading these books just as much as my kids so when we did our Columbus Unit I did ALL of the reading aloud.  Silly me, what in the world was I thinking!  So, this week I am starting just doing the family read aloud and letting the girls do their readers on their own.  After they read they come and tell me what they read about that day (narration). 

All the kids gathering around for the Lil' Chef's science experiment from her General Science textbook. 

The Lil' Chef has been plugging along in her studies.  She is using and loving Teaching Textbooks 7.  She just completed the 8 week writing course with Time 4 Writing, which she also enjoyed.  I don't think that this is that into the Apologia General Science yet, I think once she gets more in the experiments she will be.  She has learned a lot about several different scientist though, especially since I am having her do the General Science - scientists notebooking pages from Donna Young's website.

For the Jamestown Unit she is reading Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac.  She seems to be excited about it.  A good clue is when her dad comes homes and she can't wait to tell him what she has been reading! 

Computer Girl started Teaching Textbooks 4 this past week - she LOVES it!  The fun characters and bonus levels make it a lot of fun for her.  She seems to be getting into her own little 4th grade groove and being more independent with her studies.  She's been plugging along with multiplication tables, Easy Grammar and copywork.  No one complains about copywork anymore BTW!

Alpha Boy has been doing better with his phonics, the sounds are starting to click a bit more and I high five him every time she says a new word.  Did I tell you that I am thoroughly convinced that phonics lessons are not only to meant to teach little people phonics but they are also meant to teach mama's patience.  My little boy who used to love to sit and do 10 pages in his phonics workbook  now has a hard time sitting still threw one or two.  We are a work in progress.

I started Apologia's Who Is God? book (again) with all of the kids this week.  We have used bits and pieces of the What We Believe series for reviews, but I wanted to go back and start from the beginning and work through the whole series.  We have the audio which I really like.  They color and I just follow along in the book.  We are really enjoying it and from the questions the kids are asking they seem to be learning quite a bit.

We also started reading Boy Have I Got Problems! and memorizing the book of James.  Yes, you read correctly, the BOOK of James.  This is a My Father's World thing.  For the Exploration to 1850 year they have you memorizing the book of James.  It sounds like a huge task and I almost don't want to verbally commit to it but Lord willing we will be able to do it!

These are my boys pretending to be Sumo Wrestlers.  This is normal, right??
Little Bits playing "Does it sink or does it float?"

It was a pretty good week.  Today, Friday, the kids need to accomplish math, their readers and anything else that is lingering from the week.  Then we are going to CLEAN. 

I actually decided that we are going to try 2 new things.  Home Blessing Day, well we have sort of done this before and ice cream.  After reading two encouraging posts, one from Smockity Frocks and one from Raising Arrows I decided to combine the two great ideas into one. 

Both of my teams, The Lil Chef and Little Bits on one team and Computer Girl and Alpha Boy on the other, are joining forces to fight dust, dirt and grime all in hopes for an ice cream treat later this evening!  I will let you all know how this works next week. 
How was your week?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Favorite Books for the Littles

I have a great love for reading and would love to pass that love on to my children. 

I like to have a variety of books for the kids to read so I am always adding to our home library or bringing home bags full of books from the library to read.  Kidding, the other day I asked one of the librians that usually check me out if anyone else checks out as many books as us.  His answer, not many.  This is good, right?

I remember when the Lil' Chef was just a wee little thing we would sit with stacks and stacks of books to read.  As more chidlren have come, the reading has continued.  As time has gone on and we have continued reading we have definiely come to have some favorites. 

Even though my little guys listen to what we are reading for history I still try to make sure that we we something that is to their liking as well.

These are our favorites for little guys:

Any of the board books from Sandra Boynton - Some of our favorites are..
The Going-To-Bed Book
Barnyard Dance! (Boynton on Board)
Hey! Wake Up!

Anything from Eric Carle

The Berenstain Bears series by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Dr Suess books - I love Dr. Suess!!

Nature books by Jim Arnosky -  We just read these the other day before we went to the Natural History Museum.  Both my boys were pointing things out from the books...
Gobble It Up! A Fun Song About Eating!
Babies in the Bayou
Turtle in the Sea

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Goodnight Moon and Big Red Barn Big Book - by Margaret Wise Brown

Curious George is a favorite

I also like to read the books from the Five in a Row series like Make Way for Ducklings, Mike Mulligan and More: Four Classic Stories by Virginia Lee Burton, and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

We all love the I Spy books and the Look a Like books...Look-Alikes: The More You Look, the More You See!

Last but definitely not least, we read the Bible.  While I do sometimes read Bible stories, I still have my little guys listening while we read Bible.  Romans 10:17 says So then, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

What are your favorite books for your littles?


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