Saturday, August 29, 2015

MFW Kindergarten: Unit 14

My Father's World Kindergarten Unit 14: "H is for Horse"!

Our children have taken riding lessons and visited many horses over the years. I tried to think of something special for this unit. Something that they had not already seen or experienced. My mother came up with the idea of visiting the Clydesdales that were on display at Bush Gardens.  Anytime I can add an educational opportunity to a fun family moment I am happy.

The kids were in awe over how big the horses were. Especially when you consider that their experience with horses has been ponies at the local riding center! We were kept securely behind not only the stall doors but also a chain fence. I didn't mind however since I can't say I would be too thrilled to be stepped on by a Clydesdale!

Going to Bush gardens was definitely a giant treat. The kids got to see several different types of animals along the way and very much enjoyed the water park areas of the park.  I would say the entire time was a very big hit with the kids....even if it was hot enough to fry an egg on the side walk!

I would love to hear how your family completed MFW's Kindergarten Unit 14 "H is for Horse"!

Friday, August 21, 2015

MFW Kindergarten: Unit 13

My Father's World Kindergarten Unit 13: "C is for Cow" was a very educational unit for us. We currently live in the middle of the family beef farm so there is no shortage of cows in our daily lives. I however had the crazy idea of taking the kids to an educational dairy farm 2 hours south of our home.  To volunteer for 4 hours in the car with 6 children I had to be pretty nutty. We were excited to visit a working dairy however so we loaded up and headed on an adventure.

When we arrived at the dairy we found they had a barn set aside to teach the children about dairy farms through out history. We learned how things were done during pioneer times through to modern day. Also what types of things the cows eat, how the milk is processed, what items can be made from milk, and the different types of dairy cows.

After exploring the barn we were off on a guided tour through the working dairy farm. We first visited a 3 day old calf. That was a HUGE hit with our children!

Next we were on to visit the "preschoolers", "teenagers", and "adult" cows.

After seeing all of the different feedlots we were able to check out the milking process. I had not visited a working dairy in a lot of years. I was surprised that for the most part the process doesn't seem to have changed in the last couple of decades. The children were fascinated by the process of seeing where their milk comes from.

Overall I would say we learned quite a bit about dairy farming and where the milk in our refrigerator comes from. I would also say we learned we are not fond of corporate dairy farming. Seeing the babies taken away from their mothers the second they are born, cows kept in barns their entire life and never allowed to graze, and animals fed such a high diet of corn and grain..... Well it didn't sit right with any of us. I would very much like to find a small family owned raw milk dairy to visit next. I searched out local area and was unable to find a dairy that met my requirements within a decent driving distance. It will be a goal for the future for sure!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our Review of Alpha Omega Publication's Horizons Kindergarten Math Curriculum

If you have been following along with our Kindergarten Unit posts you know that we our twins are working their way through Kindergarten this summer. I am sure you can imagine how extremely excited we were to be chosen to review Alpha Omega Publication's Horizons Kindergarten Math!
Alpha Omega Review

Our children have used Alpha Omega Publication's products in the past and have always been very happy with their products. When we were offered a chance to review their Horizons Kindergarten Math Curriculum we jumped at the chance. 

We received the complete homeschool curriculum kit for Horizon's Math. This included the teachers manual and two workbooks covering 180 lessons. Each lesson contains 2 pages (front and back) of colorful easy to understand math problems. The kindergarten curriculum begins easily enough with learning to count to 10, learning shapes and colors, and most importantly to follow directions!

Our children are very much in love with workbooks. The arrival of the math workbooks was SO exciting that one simply was not going to work. I had to order a second set for our second twin. Once we had two sets of workbooks we were ready to roll. We added 1 lesson from the workbooks to the end of each of our daily kindergarten unit lessons. The girls were practically giddy with excitement.  They beg to do more than 1 lesson per "class".
They would easily sit for an hour happily doing math if I would let them. They love the math workbooks so much they actually beg to do math through out the day! 

Having used Horizon's products before I knew that I would be receiving a superior product, I was however a bit worried as I have seen from previous experience that the items can be a bit advanced in later years. I worried that the kindergarten materials would be too advanced for our girls. I was very happy to see that the material starts from learning the number 1 up to more advanced material towards the end of the book.  
Having used the second through fourth grade math materials I know that if we continue with the Horizon's Math Curriculum with our twins they will not only get a solid math foundation but be a bit advanced for their ages. The fact that the material is so comprehensive AND fun is a huge selling feature for our family. We will definitely be sticking with Alpha Omega Publications Horizons Kindergarten Math Curriculum as well as Horizon's products in general! We love that it is a Christian Based company and that they include Biblical lessons within all of their products, even math!

Alpha Omega Publications did not give just their Horizons Kindergarten Math Curriculum for review however! They offered multiple Horizons products for review! 

You can Click Here or on the banner below to see reviews by other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members for the following products.

Alpha Omega Review
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Friday, August 14, 2015

MFW Kindergarten: Unit 12

My Father's World Kindergarten Unit 12: G is for Goat.

Who can study goats without a trip to the petting zoo? Not us! I kinda felt bad for the goat...... my children were VERY interested in her!

I also wanted the children to taste some goats milk products. I wasn't exactly sure if I would be able to find any in our rather small town. I was pleasantly surprised to find some French style soft goat cheese on my first stop. I spread it on some of their favorite crackers and didn't tell them exactly what it was until after they had tried it. My sneaky approach paid off and they LOVED it. They ate two full plates and wanted more! The older girls and the baby were not enthused, a bit too strong of a flavor for them, but the three middle children really loved it. Looks like I may have some competition for my next goat cheese omelet!

I think G is for Goat was a hit in our house. The kids really liked the provided worksheet that allowed them to match the mama farm animal with the baby. I think they are going to really like the next few units as well! I would love to hear what your family did for G is for Goat! 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Financial Friday


Following up on my New Year’s Resolution to read one financial book per month throughout the year we have yet another Financial Friday! You can find all of the previous entries HERE.

This month I chose Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? By Susan L. Hirshman. The book’s subtitle announces that it is “A Woman’s Guide to Finding Financial Empowerment and Success”. How could I turn down a shot to become financially empowered and successful? Especially when the book was free from the library?! 

The author states that she has found people understand new information easier if it is connected to something they already know and understand. She strove to find that common ground for women, a big surprise that dieting was the final choice. The author goes through the book discussing some pretty specific financial information while always relating it back to the world of dieting. 

I do admit I was a bit miffed when reading the book jacket. I had an instant push back somewhere along the lines of “Hey, don’t talk down to me! I am not stupid you know!”. I however decided to read the book since….well…..when it comes to financial matters I do FEEL stupid quite a bit of the time. I am glad I gave the book a chance because I really did find the information inside to be helpful and easy to understand.

This is NOT a book for a beginner budgeter or someone one who needs some handholding or energizing to get started on the financial fitness route. This is a much more advanced book that assumes you already have your financial house in order and now have oodles of money sitting around waiting to be invested. The author goes through and discusses the differences between Exchange Traded Funds and Mutual Funds, the benefits and complexity of Hedge Funds, how to do a risk assessment of a new investment, how to properly review your portfolio once a year, and much more.
I find that I am very week in the investment knowledge arena so I found this book to be very interesting and helpful. This is definitely not a beach side easy reading book. I found I had to really think and take notes as I was reading along. I learned some interesting facts such as portfolios are like apple pies. They can be made with a variety of ingredients (stocks, bonds, etc) all of which change the taste (reward) and calories (risk). The author really did have a way with words and never failed to connect the financial facts back to dieting to make it easier to understand.

I can now say I know the difference between an Exchange Traded Fund and an Index Fund. I know what a mutual fund is and why it is called such. Blue chips, Large Caps, Mid Caps, Small Caps, you name it I now understand what it means. All without being bored to death or throwing the book across the room in a fit of boredom induced rage. The author does cover some pretty dry material but does so in an easy to understand way that makes the reader feel like an equal.

 I think it is important to remember that the majority of adults were never taught this type of information in school. I am sorry but high school Home Economics didn’t cover how to choose a mutual find based on my risk preference. We were lucky we learned how to balance a checkbook! I have a Bachelor’s Degree and never took a single Economics class in college. We all too often feel stupid for not knowing something that we were never taught. Would we make our children feel stupid for not knowing their multiplication tables when we had never even mentioned what they were much less taught them to them? Of course not. So why do we, especially women, let ourselves feel stupid for not understanding investments? Time to stop that kind of thinking right this second. It is time to educate ourselves in the areas we are weak in and in turn educate our children. My children will be learning Economics in High School. Not just how to balance a checkbook, that is important too, but also what the major three investment opportunities are, how they work, and when to purchase them.
I would recommend this book to any woman who wants to learn about investments and feel more in control of their finances. I however would recommend reading a more basic financial book (you can find several in my Financial Friday Series) before hand and getting a real handle on your budget, spending, and savings. Years ago as a newlywed I read a book along the lines of this one……it didn’t go well. I was stressed out, in debt, on a low income, and new babies arriving every 2 years. Reading a book about where to put my 15% towards retirement just sent me over the edge. I was having trouble buying diapers where was I supposed to come up with 15% to go in a retirement account?!  I felt like even more of a failure then I had when I picked up the book. So trust me, if you are struggling and looking for encouragement and ideas to pull yourself out of debt and start saving start with a more basic financial book. If you are currently saving and ready to learn more about investment accounts this is the book for you!

*****I was not asked to review this book and received no compensation for my review. *****

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Our Review of Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers!


I am very excited to announce that our family was chosen to review Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers!

Funtastic Unit Studies Review

Our family loves the unit study approach. We have spent the last year exploring different science unit studies on our own. Each month moving on to a new area of study that interested us. You can imagine how excited we were to get a chance to review Science Unit Studies forHomeschoolers and Teachers by Funtastic Unit Studies.

This unit study material was sent to us as a soft back book. I know a lot of the unit studies available these days are online and available as downloads. I am probably showing my age here but I love actual books! Something about holding a new science book in my hands makes me as giddy as a kid in a candy shop.

Science Unit Studies forHomeschoolers and Teachers is made up of 20 Chapters covering a variety of scientific material. Chapters 1 -10 are dedicated towards children 4-7 years old and chapters 11-20 specifically for 8-13 year olds. The author however makes it clear in the beginning of the book that the age ranges are just suggestions. When dealing with children there are always a great range of abilities present in each age range.

When looking through the book I found that the early unit studies (Chapters 1-10) dealt mostly with broad subject matter. Such as Insects, Dinosaurs and Prehistoric life, Fun with Magnets, etc. While the later unit studies (Chapters 11-20) dealt with more specific subject matter. These included Chemistry Fun, Atoms and Molecules, Force and Motion, etc.

Each chapter is then broken down into different parts. Many of the chapters had as many as 6 parts within them. Each part is a subcategory of the main chapter heading.  Within each part there is a teachers section with instructions on how to complete the section as well as an activity to complete for each part.
For example:

Chapter 2: The Human Body
·        Part 1: The Digestive System
§  Activity: Build a model of the stomach

Having the chapters broken down into so many parts made it very easy to divide up the material into manageable pieces for our school day. It would be very simple to spread one chapter with 6 parts into 6 weeks of study. Or to complete two smaller parts in one week. It all depends on your schedule and your child’s needs.
In our family we have 6 children who are involved in our daily homeschooling endeavors. We have chosen to keep all of our children together for our core assignments. This means I have children ages 11 years old to 2 years old completing this unit study. We have found it fits best in our family to go with a lower age range product and then make things a bit more complicated for our oldest child. With this in mind we chose to complete one of the 4-7 year old unit studies.

Our family decided to work on Chapter 10: Animal Ecology. It worked well with our twin’s current kindergarten curriculum. The kids are working through units such as “C is for Cow” so a science unit covering animal ecology seemed like a natural fit.

Part 1 discussed Habitats and Biomes. There were several activities available for this part, we however chose to only complete one activity per part. For this part we decided to go with activity 2, a world traveling stuffed animal.

 Once the kids had gone to bed I hid one of their stuffed animals and explained in the morning that their toy had gone on a world traveling adventure. I then proceeded to “mail them” the children the pre-written letters within the book every few days. The four letters covered facts and information on the four main habitats and some of the animals that live there. Each was written from the stuffed animal’s point of view and discussed who she was meeting and what she was up to. I signed the letters with their stuffed animals name and put them in simple handmade envelopes. The kids loved reading the fun letters and I don’t think they even realized they were learning facts about the different habitats and biomes.

Part 2 discussed Predators and Prey. This was a very simple section that focused on learning the terms Predator and Prey. The section included a short story about two young wolves about to go on their first hunt. Through the story we learn that the wolves target the sick and weak among the prey herds. This makes the prey herd stronger and keeps the wolves fed.  There was not a hands on activity for this section but I did later find my children playing “wolf and caribou” in the backyard!

Part 3 had to do with Food Chains and Food Webs. In this section the children learned specific terms such as “Primary Producer” and “Food Web”. The hands on activity for this section was to make a food chain from pictures in a magazine. I however could not find old magazines that had a variety of animals. I instead had the children draw out the food chains by hand.

Last up for this chapter was Part 4: Animal Defenses. We discussed all of the various ways that animals protect themselves (stinging, tasting bad, etc). We then completed the activity for this part. I traced the bear provided in the book onto two pieces of white paper, cut them out, and glued them onto a white piece of paper and a black piece of paper. When standing 20 feet away I held both pages up and asked the children how many bears they saw. They were only able to see the white bear on the black paper. Once I brought the pages closer they were able to see the white bear on the white paper.  It was a great lesson on how animals are able to camouflage themselves as a defense mechanism.

We loved using this unit study material! It was straightforward and very user friendly. We are very much looking forward to completing more units from within Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolersand Teachers by Funtastic Unit Studies.  I happen to know my oldest daughter has her eye on Chapter 7: Stars and Planets. It could have something to do with building a solar cooker and making smores!

Want to know what the other School House Review Crew Members thought about Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolersand Teachers? Click Here  or on the banner below to find out!

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