Review: Winter Wonders!

DNGs are digital units complete with everything you need for a week of school for your K-4th grader.  They include links to videos, vocabulary words and their definitions, printable worksheets and lapbook components, suggestions for books to enjoy and so much more!  Click here to check out all that’s available. 
Winter Wonders
We have been blessed with snow this winter!  Where we live, we typically have some dustings, but not often more than once or twice for the kids to get outside and play.  This year we’ve had 4 or 5 enough-to-play-in-snows already!  The best part is that some has come right while we were enjoying Winter Wonders, a DownloadNGo unit study.

This week we’ve made snowflake crystals (photo above), snowflake cookies, learned the history of hot chocolate, looked specifically for an individual snowflake and its shape, and learned about specific characteristics of winter.  And that’s just some of it!

Winter Wonders had enough information that we could choose what fit best for us each day.  Some content is perfect for Mattie and some is perfect for Jacob. 

Here’s what you’ll learn when you jump in to Winter Wonders:


Day 1: What is Winter?
Day 2: Science Secrets of Winter
Day 3: People and Places of Winter
Day 4: Time for Tips and Treasures of Winter
Day 5: Goodies and Gadgets of Winter 

Click right over here to purchase so you’re ready to get started!  And then click on the thumbnails below to check out how other homeschool home schooling families are using Winter Wonders. 

I received this product for at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Rockin’ Robots!

We’ve had a great couple of weeks learning about robots with our Download n Go.  All of use have enjoyed all the robots videos we’ve seen, and more than once I’ve seen Jacob getting books out of the library bag to learn more!

Here’s what you’ll study when you do Rockin’ Robots:
Day 1: What Is a Robot?
Day 2: The History of Robots
Day 3: People and Places of Robots
Day 4: Science Secrets of Robots
Day 5: Goodies and Gadgets of Robots

My kids thoroughly enjoyed developing their own tooth brushing robot, though Mattie decided hers would actually stand on the tips of her toes and be a dancing ballerina robot – that did all of her chores!

There is a lot offered in this unit that we didn’t even get to.  I’m finding if we watch all of the videos and links on each page, there is really no way we can do an entire day’s offerings in one day (not if we’re doing any other school anyway).  And if we do too much with the videos and links we’ve definitely run out of focusing energy to do lapbooking components.  
The best part is that DownloadnGos are all about fitting into our  family school routine!  So we can keep tweaking until we find the way it best works for us: stretching the unit to two weeks, choosing certain topics to study and other topics to skip, delving into some concepts with discussion only and not doing anything written, etc.  There are endless options, really!

Autumn Treasures!

Fall is coming!  It’s coming slowly here, but I believe it’s coming. 🙂  And in anticipation of it, we did the  Autumn Treasures Download and Go for our schooling this week.

What is a Download and Go (DNG)?  In short, it is an e-book series that blends unit studies and lapbooking all in one printable product!  You choose which activities are right for your family and you’re ready to go!  They’ve included videos, lapbooking activities, copywork opportunities, vocabulary/spelling words, a suggested book list for additional reading, family fun activities, and more!  This is our fourth DNG (I think) and we’ve enjoyed them all for different reasons.

Here’s what you’ll explore when you jump in with Autumn Treasures:
Day 1: What is Autumn?
Day 2: Science Secrets of Autumn
Day 3: People and Places of Autumn
Day 4: Time for Tips and Treasures of Autumn
Day 5: Goodies and Gadgets of Autumn

I have to say, this was a different sort of school week for us, so it was good to have this unit to fit in without any preparation as we were revamping a few things, but we did a bare bones sort of week, so I didn’t have anything to photograph.  And because Autumn is something we’ve studied seasonally for several years now, I wasn’t sure if this would be anything new for us.  But I was not disappointed!  

We enjoyed:
– talking about the Earth’s tilt and rotation and the connection to our seasons.
– reviewing hibernation and migration in context of the correct season.
– the science behind how and why leaves change color.

And because fall is just creeping in by way of cooler nights, we weren’t able to get out and enjoy the nature walk and perfect journaling pages offered, but certainly would have if it were the right time for us!

One other great feature of these units is that there are printables/activites at Mattie’s level (pre-k) and Jacob’s level (4th grade), so we can enjoy it together!  Mattie loves getting to do “school” and I love having her included without any more work on my part!  (I would say the average “perfect” age for these studies is K-2nd grade.)

See how other families explored Autumn Treasures here!  And purchase it here before September 24 to enjoy the Autumn Equinox special price of 20% off!

Disclosure: I have been provided a copy of Autumn Treasure DNG free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 

Easter Schooling Plans

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any of our school plans.  I’d like to make posts on what we’ve done for our Around the World study to share.  One of these days maybe I will!

For Easter this year we’re going to do this Easter Unit Study by Amanda Bennett.  This will be our first time using one of her unit studies, and I’m really excited.  I downloaded it today, and it looks perfect for Jacob!

We’re also going to do this FREE lapbook from Home School Share.  We’ve done one or two lapbooks before, and they really just don’t seem to be the way Jacob learns well.  But this one is designed specifically for the unit study above and looks like it’s just right!

Jacob is also reading Journey to the Cross to me each day.  We’ve not read this one before, but it’s good.  Jacob really seems to be enjoying it.  One thing I really like about it is that it gives you real life snippets of that time with each daily biblical story reading.

One exciting this for this year is that we’ll be able to make Resurrection Cookies!  These are made with eggs, so we’ve never been able to do them before with Jacob’s allergy to eggs.  But Jacob is doing well with eggs now, so we can make them!!  Well, we could have made them before, but who really wants to make cookies you can’t eat?

We’re also doing a countdown calendar, I called it our Journey to the Empty Tomb, for the first time.  (This actually started as a calendar for Lent which I copied from my sil (thanks, Candace!), but Lent hasn’t proven to be a major theme in our home, other than my fasting from coffee, facebook, and the Five in a Row message board M-S.)  The kids are enjoying this and it adds anticipation which I like doing for Easter!  I like that we’re thinking about this a month in advance like we do Christmas.   (As a side note, this calendar is much nicer than the paper rings we’ve traditionally done for Christmas, because the dates are right there so we don’t have to count them every day if we can’t remember if we tore a ring off!)

I’m trying to find a few things that Mattie can enjoy with us, as she’s wanting to do quite a bit more “school.”  I’ve gotten quite a few books from our church and local libraries just to read, but I need to find her some more fun stuff.  I’m going to Lifeway on Tuesday, maybe I’ll find something there.

I’d also like to look into to participating in or watching a Passover Seder.  It’s always a trick when it involves food, but I’d like to try.  If we don’t get to it, there’s always next year.  If there isn’t next year, we’ll be with Him so we won’t miss it!

All of this together will fill our next few weeks for sure, after visiting Central America this week for a brief overview.  I tend to be a December failure, in that I start too many things that are made for 4 weeks of school and I NEVER finish!  I really want to have a manageable amount of plans so that we can finish what we start, on time.

Twenty-eight days 
till Resurrection Day!

(Academic) Thanksgiving Plans!

I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving already!!  I am excited to have found something unique for our Thanksgiving week this year!  It’s nice to do something we haven’t done three times already.  I thought I’d share it early in case someone else thought it looked neat too!
This is an online, interactive “research” project for kids. 
It was created this year after the reenactment of the 1621 harvest feast done by the Plimoth Plantation museum, using pictures from the historically accurate reenactment.  It teaches the student what a historian is, then puts them in that position to find out what really happened in 1621 (and how that might be a bit different than all of our cute little Thanksgiving books tell us).  After they do their “research” there is an opportunity to do an online project too!  And it includes a teacher’s guide if that’s helpful. 
There’s more at the home site too!
Here are some of the books we’ll read along with our study (Some of these are repeats, and some are new to us.):
Jacob is loving Magic Tree House books right now, so he’ll be excited about these!

This last one is one of the Trailblazer series by Dave and Neta Jackson.  We’ve been learning a lot about different missionaries this year, so this is a great opportunity to learn about William Bradford and his influence on the colonists.

We’ll also do a few worksheets from (brush up on our turkey knowledge and Massachusetts map skills), some creative writing and color some pictures according to what we’ve learned.  I’m trying to find a cool science experiment to do, but not having much luck.  I think I’ll just do a fun lesson on spices, it just won’t include an experiment.
I’m still working on the rest of it, though that will cover all of our academic stuff.  I’ll do a separate post on our favorite just-for-fun things to do.

Fall Studies – Leaves and Squirrels

For our fall studies this year we did a couple of weeks learning about leaves and squirrels. (Jacob had asked for the squirrels a few weeks ago.) We just read a few of our favorite fall books and did some of this unit from HomeSchoolShare.

We started off the week doing a nature walk around our property. Of course we picked the two hours where a cold front blew in and the temperature dropped twenty degrees!

Mattie got totally in to collecting everything but leaves!

Our beautiful treasures!

We came in and sorted all of our leaves after we checked out all that we found.

And it was so cold, it was a perfect time for some hot apple cider in our special mugs that Uncle Peter made!

Then Jacob made his leaf picture using some of what he found.

We had to have some maple candy to go with the week! (This is a major treat for Jacob as it’s one of the few kinds of candy he can have. I was very excited to run across it this week!)

And we made some yummy cookies from pie crust and filled with chocolate chips.

Another day we went to a local park and searched for leaves and acorns.

And these are the enormous acorns that fall from our chestnut oak next to our house. They are 1 1/2″ long! You can see the difference between those and the oak tree at the park!

And a walk in the trees isn’t a walk in the trees without a little shooting mommy with a gun shaped branch.

A little leaf partying!

We also went back took Robert up to Natural Tunnel for another walk up there. (I have pics of that day for another post.)

Mattie begs to do school like Jacob. So this week I printed out for her a sheet that has leaves to match from one side of the page to the other. Not surprisingly considering her powers of observation, she did a great job!

And these leaf rubbings are one of my favorite things to do. Last year we picked up leaves from our street. This year we stuck with leaves just from our property and these are some of what we found. It was fun to know just what we had on our land. That’s something we’ve never really looked at before. We discovered have Sassafras trees galore around our house!

Happy Fall to You!!

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

It’s that time again! Each year Samaritan’s Purse organizes Operation Christmas Child. It is an operation to get a Christmas gift coupled with the gospel into the hands of needy children throughout the world. Because the boxes are due November 19, I thought I’d share a couple of resources in case you needed to get prepared early.

Boxes for Katje is a great book about sending gifts overseas to provide for one another! It is based on a true story that occurred in 1945. There is a free unit study available if you’d like to spend an entire week on it!

And here are two pages that are great for your child to fill out/color and share some information with the receiving child! Scroll down to see the coloring pages, then click on them to open the pdf. It really helps personalize the whole deal when you get to put them in the shoe box. Some people have gotten letters in return! There is also a video here that shows the kids receiving their shoe boxes.

If you’d like to participate, but you’re church isn’t involved, here is all you need to know!

"Argh, Matey!"

This week we learned about pirates! We bought this book in August at a pirate store we encountered in Florida while on vacation. We used it as the basis for our study. It was a different week, I’ll say. We didn’t encounter much “meat” to hang on to, though this might be because both kids had tonsillitis and something like strep Tuesday through Friday. We did our fun things and just read lots of books. Now that I think of it, we did learn the parts of a ship, review the seven seas, and had a lot of practice following directions (navigation and treasure maps and clues). I guess it wasn’t a slow week after all!

I did feel a responsibility as well to teach Jacob that pirates are not someone we want to ascribe to be like! Pirate life seems to be totally romanticized, but they were just cold blooded criminals! I have no intention of studying any other criminals anytime soon, and didn’t really think that through before we got started.

Jacob drew this galleon (new word for the week).

We reviewed a bit about parrots too and copied this craft from a picture we saw. I think I read that it’s from an Usborne book.

And of course we couldn’t skip dressing up as pirates ($3.46 costumes!!!) and doing a treasure hunt after we made our treasure chest! I used these clues for starters and added a couple of others. I thought this activity might have been more fun with some friends of Jacob’s, but it turned out well that we did it alone. Jacob is very slow to comprehend/think through/look for things like this. When he does these things with friends, he rides on their coattails and doesn’t get any better at it. He also gets mad that he finds everything last. So it turned out well for him.

My two little pirates

Jacob had to decode one of the clues.

Mattie found a clue!

X marks the spot!

Jacob found the buried treasure while Mattie was screaming her head off. (She “stubbed” her toe on the way to the last clue, so we promptly headed out for what turned out to be 8 stitches.)

Our treasure!