Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stick Figuring Through The Bible

Today I'm sharing with you one of my favorite finds for parents of young children. It's called "Stick Figuring Through the Bible," from Grapevine Studies, and it's a great way for children to begin making a bible timeline of their own. This is not just for home schoolers! It's for any parent or bible class teacher who is reading through the bible (or a bible story book) with their kids.

It's amazingly simple and a great way for children to begin visualizing the story of the bible as a whole. Here is a peek at the first few pages of my son's timeline...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Most Fabulous Timeline Notebook, EVER!!!

Timelines are great when learning world history! There are several ways to make one... some people have them pasted onto a huge wall... my sister-law has her kids make note cards that are put into a baseball card album... and others make note cards and file them in order. I like having a timeline notebook. We started out with Charlotte Mason's Basic Book of Centuries, which is free. But we recently upgraded to the Record of Time timeline notebook, which is absolutely lovely!! 

And my sister-in-law gave me a copy of the History Through the Ages Collection CD which is just fabulous. It's a collection of impressively-drawn black-and-white images to print and paste into your timeline notebook. You can use the image alone, or the image with text (including date and a short description). You can print them large (for use on a wall) or small (for use on index cards, flash cards, or pasted into a timeline notebook). I LOVE IT! Here's a peek inside our timeline notebook...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Movie Screening for Kids

Did you know there are some good websites that help you make a more informed decision on what movies to let your kids watch? 

Here are some of the top sites for movie ratings and reviews for families...
  • Common Sense Media: this site gives a straightforward parent's guide to what's in the movie. 
  • Screen it: very thorough entertainment reviews for parents (they offer a paid subscription, but you can use it for free- just scroll to the bottom of the page & check no thanks) 
  • Kids in Mind: movie ratings that actually work 
  • Plugged In: shining a light on the world of popular entertainment 
  • Dove: family approved videos, DVDs, and movies 
  • IMDb: The Internet Movie Database 

Happy Family Movie Night! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Easiest DIY Batman Cape

Check out this happy little Bat Man!!!

I made the cape using my husband's too-small, 20-year-old Bat Man shirt. I never understood why he didn't get rid of it, since it's too small. But apparently it was meant for the greatness of a certain four-year-old Bat Man fan! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Visualize World Geography Review

Over the school last year, we've been using Visualize World Geography, which is really unique program that utilizes pictography to help you mentally map and memorize all the countries in the world. You know how you can always find Italy because it looks like a boot? Well, this program has pictographs for every country in the world, and you learn them by watching a video for about 10 minutes per lesson. The official site has more info, video samples and testimonials for you to get a better grasp of the program. We saw it at our home school convention and loved it. Kindergarteners have used it. College students have used it. It is for anyone of any age who wants to memorize every country's location. Older students may take the entire course (learning every country in the world) in a year, but since we are using it at elementary level we only did the 20 lessons over Africa this year, with review days in-between. Another year we'll use it to learn countries in the Middle East. It's flexible like that. I will warn you that it is not cheap. But... we will be using this for all our kids over the course of many years.

So after using it this year, here's my take on it...

The good:

  • The kids like it!
  • It works! 
  • It's doable.
  • You can use it with all your kids together, regardless of age.

The not-as-good:

  • The DVD's are not professionally made. The actors are high schoolers and the video quality is, well, not exactly fabulous. 
  • I think it is considerably over-priced, considering the video quality. If the videos were professional then their price point may be more appropriate.  You're basically paying for the concept of it more than the actual execution. 

The way we've used it so far is learning the countries in one continent, over the course of a year. To turn it into a social studies course, I added in the appropriate chapters (about whichever country we were learning) from Material World and What the World Eats by Peter Menzel. (I highly recommend using these two books along with ANY geography program! Read more about them in this post!) The combination of Visualize and the two Peter Menzel books made for a really great Geography and Social Studies course.

My only beef with this program is the price but since we've already purchased it then that is behind us. I'm glad we purchased this program because my kids are learning to locate the countries. Just from casually joining in when he feels like it, my three year old can locate more countries now than I could locate in college! That says a lot. My kids aren't old enough to be horrified by the video quality (or lack thereof), but they ARE learning their countries happily and painlessly and that is worth a LOT!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Glass Etching

Have you ever tried glass etching? It's a super easy way to add a touch of cuteness to any glass or mirror, and it's a great way to personalize cheap, plain glass. Think drinking glasses, vases, serving bowls, candle holders, mirrors, even pyrex dishes! 

Here's a candles & mirror set I made my mom:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Favorite Resources for Learning About Africa

We are studying Africa this year, and loving it! Here are a few of my favorite resources... 
Wonderful Books

A really neat book recommended from SCM (Simply Charlotte Mason) is Material World by Peter Menzel. It's a unique project from a talented photographer who traveled the world to put a face on the human condition from all around the planet. He features a statistically average family from a variety of countries all over the world, and includes large portraits of their family, home life, and all their material possessions. (See in the photo below the entirety of this family's earthly possessions.) It's eye-opening to see just how much and how little people have from different parts of the world, and interesting to get a glance into their daily life. We'll be using this book for the African families it features this year, and families from other countries in our geography studies in the years to come.