Monday, April 27, 2015

Meet em' Mondays ( The Burgess Family)

Welcome to another week of Meet em' Mondays.

This week I would like to introduce to you: The Burgess Family. 

Family Name: The Burgess Family

Ages of your children: Three girls ages 10, 7, 5 and one boy 3.

How long have you been homeschooling? We have been homeschooling for 2 years this September.

What state do you live in and is it a homeschool friendly state? We live in Georgia and it is very homeschool friendly. Hardly any worries :)

What is homeschool to you? "Homeschool to me is "life" long learning. My children get to learn and grow realistically and are given the chance to be themselves. I love that I don't have to stress so much about how they are being influenced."

What made you initially decide to start homeschooling? "When my second child was having such a difficult time adjusting to Kindergarten in public school, when my oldest daughter was having health issues and they were sick all the time! They were missing so many days of school. I was getting letters from the school saying they were missing too many days even though we had doctor notes. Once I pulled them out I started to learn so much more about all the benefits of having them home with me. I never realized there was such freedom with homeschooling. I didn't think I could do it. But here I am :) here we are."

 How do you choose your curriculum?  "We haven't chosen a particular curriculum. We use many different resources. We go to the library and learn what we want. Aside from the basics like math, reading and writing, we go where our hearts take us."

Do you stay with a schedule or are you more flexible? "Ahh, a schedule? I try as I might ,but we rarely stick to one. Every day is different. I do have a small list of things they have to do before they are aloud to watch tv or play on tablets."

How do you handle the family schedule? "As far as how I handle the schedule...I am not alone we all handle it together and work as a team. With chores, learning and fun time."

How do you make sure your child has regular interaction with peers? "I am going to be honest. My kids do not get enough interaction with peers. It is hard to find the time. They do have pen pals they write regularly as well as face time. I know that one day when they are older and make friends more easily, they will do great." 

In your view, what are the benefits to homeschooling your children? "The benefits of homeschooling my children are great. To start with the little importance's...we do not have to rush to get to a school, no worries about school shopping (clothes or otherwise), and we can learn day and night. The big importance's...I can teach and they can learn what I feel is best. No common core. I know personally what level/s my children are. When my oldest was in public school I was so confused about where and what she was learning. Math was her weakness and she wasn't getting help. I can now focus on that and she is doing great!"

What has been the most surprising part of homeschooling? "What has surprised me the most about homeschool is how easily and quick each of my children have learned. I also have been given the blessing of knowing and learning each of their personalities and interests."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Having baby teeth pulled

Well Monday we skipped schooling and headed to the dentist at noon. Thankfully our dentist is literally a few feet away from where we live. We walked right over and got started.

I knew Monster needed a cavity fixed and two baby teeth pulled. Monster is 8 and still has not officially lost any baby teeth. His permanent teeth in the two front spots on the bottom had already started coming in.

Not the clearest picture, but I was in the waiting room with my phone. 
See what I mean by big teeth already coming in! So we had to get those stubborn baby teeth OUT! 

The dentist we used was amazing with Monster. She was calm with him, answered any question he or I had, and every time Monster took the pillow out of his mouth she calmed him down and just replaced it. No frustration whatsoever. This was Monsters first time to have dental work done. (besides the regular teeth cleaning)

So, he finally got his first two baby teeth out! 

Again, sorry for the crappy cell phone picture. It looks worse than it actually is. He even says it doesn't hurt at all. He does say it feels weird. Today it looks much better even. 

So want to see WHY these teeth had yet to come out?!?!

Seriously! These are the front two baby teeth and their roots!! The back roots had already started to disintegrate. So the front roots were left. Those teeth wanted to be in there for good! She told us the two teeth next to them will most likely have to be pulled out as well, but not till he is 9 or 10. 

Yesterday, because of all this, he was allowed a free day from school. Daddy also come home early to be with him. Today, we were back to our normal schedule! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits Review

ARTistic Pursuits Review

We love doing art projects in our house. So when we were given the chance to review for ARTistic Pursuits, we gladly joined in. We received Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artist and Their Art ($47.95) for our review.

ARTistic Pursuits is a homeschool art curriculum for grades Preschool through High School created by Brenda Ellis. These book help teach expressions and technique in Art. 
ARTistic Pursuits Review 

About the book:
Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artist and Their Art focuses on the lives of some Artist and the beautiful creations they were able to create and how. The book covers the late 13th century to the 18th century using fictional stories. Artist from Giotto, Michelangelo to Turner. Each lesson tells a little about the artist, the type of paintings they created and what they used to create their art. The lesson takes about 10 minutes, then is followed by showing a piece of work by the artist and some questions the children can answer relating to the artist and their art. The next part is the art in which the child will create. 

There is a total of 85 pages with 36 lessons and 175 illustrations. Book 2 is for children ages 5 and up. Monster is 8, so this fit perfect for us. 

How we used this product:

We have been using Book 2 weekly in our homeschooling routine. Monster is even able to read most of the lessons on his own and then we can discuss what he read about. On the page where it tells you about the art project you will be completing, there is a list of items you will need for that project. I like that this is listed out this way to make it easier to know which supplies are needed. For children that can read, it makes it easier for them to be able to get the supplies themselves. 

For parents looking for a easy to use Art program, this one works since it tells you everything you need and how to use it. 

Our two favorite lessons so far were:

Project 1: Cimabue- For this lesson Monster and I read the story together, went over the story and then we went outdoors. Where we live was the perfect area for this lesson. We live basically at an outdoor mall. We needed to go outdoors and look at buildings. There are tons around us. After looking around we were able to pick out which building Monster wanted to paint. 

As he worked, we talked about the lines in the building and the different colors each building has. 

Monster choose to paint the clock tower we have. We used water colors and a canvas. In project 1, it gives you tips on using your watercolors as well. Things I did not even know, like adding drops of water to each color to soften them ( I have never learned that before!). So, I found this very helpful. Also, giving tips on holding the paint brush correctly. 

Another favorite lesson was project 6: Limbourg- Monster seemed to really enjoy this story. He was able to read the story himself. We then discussed the Book of Hours. For his art lesson he would be learning sketch to watercolor. Monster enjoys drawing, so I knew he would like this one. Again, we went outside to our mall area and walked around. This time he choose one of his favorite areas. The water fountain. 

He started by drawing in his water color tablet. 

After he was done drawing, we went back upstairs to paint. 

This was his final result. He was able to sketch out the fountain and tree trucks. Then he filled in with his watercolors. 
Although Monster takes a art class at co-op, he has still really enjoy using this program at home. We both find it very easy for the lessons to be set up. The stories are the perfect length of time. I love this book as it is something we can do either together or he can do on his own.
I also really like how easy this book is for parents that may not be big into art. This book is so easy to follow along that parents who might not trust themselves to do Art with their child, CAN!  
You can also find ARTistic Pursuits on Facebook
If you would like to see what others thought of this program or look for reviews on a certain grade level book, please click the banner below and read what others thought!
ARTistic Pursuits Review

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Meet em' Mondays ( The Echols Family)

Welcome to another week of Meet em' Mondays! 

This week I have the pleasure of introducing to you:

Family Name: The Echols Family

Location: Flagstaff, AZ

Ages of your children: 17, 13

How long have you been homeschooling? 9 years

What state do you live in and is it a homeschool friendly state? "Arizona is very homeschool friendly.  We are blessed to educate our kids here." 

What is homeschool to you? "The ability to customize our kid’s curriculum to their learning style and to be able to go at their own pace.  For us, homeschooling is more than just a great education.  It’s about character and relationship building and discipleship. There have been times when we've had to set school aside for the day in order to work on a heart issue." 

"Public speaking has been a big part of our home school training. My wife and I speak at home school conventions and my son has had many opportunities to speak in public."

What made you initially decide to start homeschooling? "We were not happy with the direction the public school was going." 

How do you choose your curriculum? "Based on what our kid’s needs are, we stay away from curriculum that appears to have a lot of 'busy' work.  We work towards mastering a topic and then move on from there. We started with the curriculum in a box approach and over the years have moved to an eclectic approach. We utilize Math-U-See, IEW, Apologia, Explode the Code, and various other curriculum."

Do you stay with a schedule or are you more flexible? "We are very flexible, which reduces stress and allows us to speed up or slow down with a particular subject or topic. We set a start date in August and a date in May that we want to be done with for the school year.  During that time we work at a pace that is appropriate for each subject/topic. Some move faster than others and it always ends up working out.  In fact, we usually end up finishing school a week or two early." 

"We live one hour from the Grand Canyon and we love the outdoors. Our home is at 7,136 feet in elevation and we get about 100 inches of snow per year."

How do you handle the family schedule? "We use a family integrated calendar that we can all see on our devices.  This allows everyone to know what is happening that day and how to best manage their time.  Before our kids had their own devices we used a large monthly dry erase wall calendar with each day's schedule on it."  

" Prepping for a day of home school."

How do you make sure your child has regular interaction with peers? "Our kids play sports with a local charter school as well as little league. We are also involved in co-ops.  Our kids are very socialized and have close relationships with their friends who are fellow homeschoolers and public schoolers." 

In your state, how does a homeschool student go about getting a diploma? "It is up to us as parents to issue a diploma."  

What has been the most surprising part of homeschooling? " The ability for our 17 year old to be able to take college classes as a junior in high school and keep a 4.0.  He's going to be able to shave a year off of his college education. This will save a lot of time and money." 

" Homeschooling when it is cold!"

John Echols also has a blog at You can also find his musings over at Homeschool Mosaics.

The Echols Family also runs My Home School Grades the premier planning, grading, and tracking program built with the features and tools your family needs to create a safe and secure web-based record of your educational journey. You can also find them on Facebook

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What we did ( April 13th-17th)

This week I started something new with Monster.  We haven't done a whole lot of Social Studies and since we don't have much going on right now, I thought it would be a good time to introduce it. 

I got the idea from 1+1+1=1. She is a wonderful homeschool mom and blogger. 

Continent Box Challenge. I had a large box on hand, so I used that as the box. Then I Pinterest, Googled and search other blogs for printable. 

We started with Australia. First thing I need to do was to fill in the Continent Box Challenge worksheet. The above blogger made a editable one. You can find it here towards the end of her post. I downloaded it and added different challenges I wanted Monster to do. 

Here is our box and challenge sheet. 

Monster started off Monday reading about Australia.

He then moved on to a Australia word search

 These are the books we are using for our challenge. We picked them up from our library, except Dingoes at Dinnertime. That one is part of our Magic Treehouse collection.

 On Tuesday, we started the morning with Legos!

Which ended up resulting in 3 hours that was fun and tiring at the same time. We worked on this together and lets just say we made a HUGE mess.

Here was our final result. Australia out of Legos!

 He also watched the very first Wild Krattz. It talked about Koala bears.

On Wednesday, first thing he worked on matching up the Kangaroos body parts and their description. I had him glue them to a poster board. You can find the print outs here.

He also did a coloring sheet of the different animals in Australia that I found here.

On Thursday, he worked on coloring the territories which is another printable found here

He got a new lap desk and really liked being able to sit on the couch and work like this. 

A few other things that we did this week. 

Math- Continued working in GPALEARN. I am also printing off worksheets to make sure he is understanding each lesson he does. If I feel like he needs the extra practice. 

Science- He started a weather journal and learn about Aristotle. He also learned new weather vocabulary and learned how to look up the definition online. 

Reading- I have been allowing him this week to use his Australia books as his reading time. 

Writing- He is still working in his New American Cursive workbook 1.

Language Arts- Since we don't have his new curriculum for this yet, I am letting him do online activities or activities on his Ipad. I also find worksheets online to print off and let him review. 

We have also had some nice weather so we spent some time outdoors till week! 

Next week I will try and break up each day. We are still working on Australia in our box challenge and then the following week we will move to a new one. Have not decided which continent yet, but will share what we do with links to printable. Most everyone is a free printable. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

New American Cursive Review

Memoria Press Review
Monster and I were sent New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 by Memoria Press to review. 
Memoria Press Review

Cheryl Lowe created the company in 1994. Memoria Press is a family operated publishing company. They produced Christian material for homeschooling families and private schools. 
Please feel free to read more about Cheryl Lowe and all she has done here

Cursive is something that most schools are no longer teaching. I felt like this would be a good chance to let Monster practice learning the letters in cursive. 

New American Cursive is focused for children in First grade and up. Monster is technically 2nd/3rd grade, but this book is a great starter for children to be introduced to writing in cursive.  Mr. Meerkat is the guide and makes things fun for the children. The step by step instructions make it very simple for children to follow along. 

One of the first thing the book teaches is the three P's
  • Posture- this is always good for you no matter what type of writing you are using. Learning to sit up straight with both feet on the ground is something children will use if taught at a young age. 

  • Pencil Position- teaching this at a early age helps with writing, some older children just might need a good reminder. 

  • Paper Position- this was a great review with Monster since sometimes he likes to move his paper around. It was easy to show him the correct way to place the paper that would help make writing easier and nicer. 
The first few pages are instructional pages. Teaches line formation, like curved lines and straight lines.

Each both introduces both a capital and lower case letter. There are also review pages after every few letter. That way the child can make sure they remember how to correctly write those letters. 

With the first letter (Aa) it also teaches the child to:
  • Say the letter
  • Feel the letter
  • Trace the letter
This is reminded on each letter that comes up to help the child understand the letter.

At the end of each letter page is a fun exercise and art work page. On this page they get to draw some fun art work on their choosing. Monster likes to draw and this also helps them with drawing different types of lines and they don't realize it.

So far Monster and I have both really enjoyed using this book. I let Monster use this book almost daily. He completes a letter each time. Being as Monster is a little older, he is able to complete this book while working independently. He is able to complete his lessons from the book in about 15 minutes.  I feel this workbook is fun for him and he seems to really enjoy learning to write in cursive while using this book. I am also very impressed with the spacing in the book so it gives the children plenty of room to try the letter out on their own as well. At the end of the book they give you a handwriting evaluation pages. This is a great way to see which letters Monster needs any help on in the end before starting workbook 2. I feel this is a great program to start young children or beginners to cursive on. We are already looking at workbooks 2 &3 to work from next! 

These workbooks price at $22.95 per book. 

If you feel you are interested in using any of the Memoria Press products please feel free to check out their website:

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