Disclosure of Material Connection:

Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Field Trip #180 Friday Blog Hop–Exploring Nature in the Fall, Maryland

Field Trip Friday!
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)

**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE


    We have really been slacking in the Field Trip department!  Mostly because we have been keeping busy in so many other ways!

    Last weekend I went away for a Ladies retreat, this week C had cooking class and the other kids and I hit the library.  We also spent a small time at the playground before the class started!  The leaves are turning and the weather is getting chilly!  Lots of rain yesterday too!  Winter will be here before we know it Sad smile 

    Hubby did take the kids on a nature walk the other day looking for leaves!  They had a blast!  He also took them down to the river while I was away!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Maestro Classics, The Nutcracker (TOS Review)

Maestro Classics The Nutcracker

For this review we got to use The Nutcracker by Maestro Classics, a newly released addition to their collection! 

This CD comes with an activity booklet and a FREE online printable curriculum.

Music is one of the subjects that is required for our state and quite easily gets forgotten or put on the back burner.   One reason I love Maestro Classics is that they are portable!  We listened to The Nutcracker in the car as we went from here to there for homeschool activities.

My kids are quire familiar with The Nutcracker, the enjoyed listening to this musical rendition, with story telling by the popular Jim Weiss (from Story of the World and other audio books).  My 6 year old, particularly, likes classical music.  This was no exception.  He remembered parts of the movie and would exclaim when his favorite parts were happening. 

We discussed other music that we are familiar with from Tchaikovsky.  They are quite familiar with his 1812 Overture.

Jim Weiss has such a soothing voice that is easy to listen too.  This CD has a lot more music than talking though, and would be a great addition to your Christmas collection.  It would also make a great unit study around Christmas time (or any time really). 

The FREE unit study is packed with Science, Dance (Music), Health, History, Geography, Math, Art and Language Arts activities.  It is a printable pdf and also hyperlinked for easy access to suggested information.

What’s great about these CDs is that they can be as simple as just listening to them, or the tools are provided to take it so much further.  Follow the interest of your child(ren) and make it so much more than just a listening experience (should they wish).

These CDs can be revisited time and time again.  They are perfect for homeschooling on the go.  They can spark conversation, lead to further investigation of the artist and/or topics featured.

Maestro Classics has lots of CDs to choose from, most (if not all) of which have FREE curriculums as well.  In addition to the FREE curriculum guides, there are several other educational links, including Montessori based lessons, puzzles and coloring pages, sheet music, musical instrument project ideas, and music related educational articles. 

We did not have time this review to dive into the unit study, but, I will be revisiting it in December.  We attended a short rendition of The Nutcracker last December, which we reminisced about.  We also made these fun ornaments that I had ordered a while back from Oriental Trading.  (I don’t see them anymore, but there are lots of other nutcracker themed ones!).

Screenshot 2015-10-28 19.03.06

We have also reviewed Mike Mulligan and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (includes free printables). Other Review Crew Members have reviewed The Nutcracker, as well as Peter and the Wolf.  You can see their reviews by clicking the image below.

CDs are available as physical copies or MP3 downloads.  They may be purchased individually or as a set. The 12 CD collection is on sale now for $150, the MP3 version is on sale for $99.98 (includes 13 titles). Individually CDs may be purchased for $16.98 and MP3 or iTunes are $9.99.

This really is a great way to add music appreciation/education to your homeschool or to bring music into your home.

Maestro Classics Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: The Phonetic Zoo by IEW (TOS Review)

The Phonetic Zoo IEW Review

I was so excited to be a part of this review!  We have loved everything that has come our way from Institute for Excellence in Writing and Phonetic Zoo was no exception!  We received Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] to try for this review.

I used this product with my 9yo 4th grade son.  Spelling has always been a struggle (we have tried a few products), we did like what we had been using, but it still didn’t seem like it was sticking.  My son is a auditory and visual learner.  When I read about Phonetic Zoo I just KNEW that this was going to be the program that WORKED!   I was right!

The program starts out with you watching Spelling and the Brain by Andrew Pudewa.  He made reference to this talk in the writing curriculum seminar I reviewed previously; I had been wanting to watch it.  (I didn’t realize it’s available on YouTube!)  It is a MUST WATCH, particularly if you have a struggling speller! This is an amazing talk and it really helps you understand how the brain works and why spelling is such a struggle for some. 

The two things that sold me on this program from the start were:

1.  It’s an auditory program
2.  It can be completed by a child independently

We got off to a bit of a rough start with the program, I discovered my CD player did not have a earphone jack (and it’s too old for blue tooth).  SO, I put the files into iTunes, he used the iPad to do his lessons. 

He was not sold on this program at first.  I won’t lie, we had quite a bit of tears.  He did not like getting words wrong, and he definitely did NOT like repeating the same lessons after getting them wrong.  It REALLY stressed him out until about half way through the 2nd lesson (so about 9 times of using the program).  He now realizes that it WORKS!  He is so proud of himself after he gets 100% on his lesson.  I have tested him randomly on past words and he STILL REMEMBERS THEM!!

Below is lesson 2 (the hardest of the lessons so far), the left is attempt 2 and the right is his final attempt, #8.  You must receive 100% two times in a row before moving onto the next lesson. He was so proud when he finally got 100%!  He no longer stresses or gets upset about the lessons.  He understands they are working, and he understands the process.  It just too a little while.

2015-10-20 20.47.002015-10-20 20.47.15

Part of the program is also putting together a ZOO (hence the name).  There are several options they show you for setting up your own, we opted for the lapbook because of the lack of wall space.  It’s quick and easy reference for him at any time.

2015-10-20 20.51.402015-10-20 20.51.472015-10-20 20.51.582015-10-20 20.52.05

Another great thing I LOVE about IEW is that you also receive digital file copies of the hard copies your purchase.  This way you can have them when you are on the road (which homeschoolers sometimes are). 

The Starter Set Level A package includes:

  • 5 audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads)
    or MP3 downloads and no CDs
  • Lesson Cards with all three levels of spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
  • Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file
  • Spelling and the Brain video seminar (link to streaming video)*

The beginning of each new lesson I do a small lesson, then my son is independent until the next lesson.  This works great for me, as he is 1 of 4 children.  It frees up time for me to help the other kids (which are younger) with their work.  We have slowly been working towards more independent work for him, as well; so, this was a great addition! 

After I introduce the lesson to him, he listens to the words, spells them and then listens to the correct spellings.  He writes the ones he missed correctly and then redoes the lesson the following day the same way.

I made these spelling sheets, feel free to use them as well!

I really have enjoyed seeing how his attitude about this program has changed, how his confidence in spelling has grown and most of all how much his spelling has improved. 

I highly recommend this program if you have a struggling speller!

IEW has such great products, we know use them for spelling, writing and grammar!  They are worth every penny!

The printed version of this program is $99, or the downloadable only version is $79. 

There is a placement test to determine which level is best to start your child at.  This program is recommended starting at 3rd grade.  It’s listed for up to 8th grade, but could help struggling spellers of any age!

IEW Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Review & #Giveaway: STRONG and KIND by Korie Robertson #STRONGANDKIND #FLYBY

Strong and Kind Review

About the book: 

Hardcover; 240 pages

Publisher: Harper Collins Christian Publishing (October 27, 2015) 

In her new book STRONG and KIND: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed, Korie Robertson - New York Times bestselling author, wife of Duck Commander® CEO Willie Robertson, star of A&E's Duck Dynasty, and mother of five - argues that developing good character in our children is the single most important thing we can do to help ensure they lead happy, healthy adult lives.  Robertson explores key traits and what they truly look like in action, asks readers to select the two traits that they hope to see most in their children, and shares hands-on ways for nurturing strength of character.  Written with her mother Chrys Howard and featuring stories and wisdom from husband Willie, STRONG and KIND cuts through the contemporary cacophony of parenting manuals to rediscover, unfold, and embrace the enduring wisdom that has guided the best parents for centuries. 

What I think:

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson is one of the newest Christian based parenting books available.  It’s a great book, whether a Duck Dynsasty fan or not, you will find lots of words of wisdom in this book to help with parenting dilemmas (that we all face) as well as inspire us to be better parents!  Learn the What, Why and How when it comes to character traits, such as:  Honest, Compassionate, Loving , Kind, Patient, Joyful, Gentle, Self-controlled, Loyal, Reliable, Consistent, Persistent, Humble, Just, Encouraging, Merciful, Stable, Strong, Mature, Disciplined, Sincere, and Trustworthy (to name a few).  Which two would you pick?

The book is also filled with Stories and Wisdom from Willie Robertson (Korie’s husband). 

If you are looking for a REAL parenting book with good Christian foundation, this is definitely one you’ll want to take a look at!

I have to be honest, I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty; though, I am well aware of what it is.  I found this book very REAL though, life like and not at all intimidating (as some parenting books may be). 

You can receive a FREE sample chapter by registering on the website. Enter to win your FREE copy at the Rafflecopter below!

About Korie Robertson:

Korie Robertson, wife of Duck Commander® CEO Willie Robertson and star of A&E's beloved series Duck Dynasty, is a mother of five a New York Times bestselling author of several books, including The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks built a Dynasty, written with Willie; Faith Commander: Living Five Values from the Parables with Jesus, written with her mother Chrys Howard; and The Women of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights from the Women Behind the Beards about What Makes this Family Work, written with all of the Robertson wives.  She is also an in-demand public speaker, Duck Commander® executive, entrepreneur and found of boutique Duck and Dressing, and philanthropist, who remains active with a variety of organizations that focus on children, adoption, and foster care.  Korie lives with her family in West Monroe, Louisiana. 

**See her on the 700 Club Tuesday, October 27th, at 10:00am Eastern Standard Time**








Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. This post contains affiliate links.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Poppins Book Nook–Artist Studies from CGA Round Up!

This Year’s Co-hosts

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom - 3 Dinosaurs - ABC Creative Learning - As We Walk Along the Road - Brain Power Boy - Chestnut Grove Academy - Embracing Destiny - Every Bed of Roses - Farm Fresh Adventures - Growing in God's Grace - Kathys Cluttered Mind - My Bright Firefly - Peakle Pie - Preschool Powol Packets - Pray Species - SAHM I am - Stir The Wonder - Sunny Day Family - Sweet Silly Sara - Teach Beside Me - To the Moon and Back - Tots and Me - Tree Valley Academy - Witty Hoots

Picasso Artist Study

Each post listed above lists art project ideas as well as books we love for each artist! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Week in Review x2 (weeks of 10/12 & 10/19)


Week of 10/12

Monday was a Federal Holiday so hubby was home, which typically means no school.  Wish we could have done something fun, but someone had to stay at the house and wait for BGE to come and hook up our electrical redo we had done (remember the drama with the electrician crossing a wire and frying our garage door opener, amongst other things??)  Thank goodness, that whole mess is over!  I went grocery shopping at Costco though and hubby took the kids to MMA.  We also carved pumpkins! I decided to start the Whole 30 diet as well.  I have been planning and researching it for a month (or more) and was going to start on the 15th… decided to jump right in!  But, I fell into normal routine and took my gummy vitamins before bed (they have sugar so are a NO for the Whole 30)…. do day one started Tuesday instead!  I’ll make another post about Whole 30 later, it’s starting to be pretty popular, you can find lots of info on the web about it.  I’ve been Instagramming my meals each day, because ideas from others has been very helpful in my journey. 

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Tuesday my car was in the shop all day :/  So we were stranded.

Wednesday we finally got the electrical on our solar panels hooked up, and the kids had MMA

Thursday we headed down to co-op for ‘school pictures’.  A local homeschool mom/photographer does school picture style shots for a very reasonable fee.  She’s great! 

Friday was swimming and Saturday was Soccer, Soccer and more Soccer!  (Is the season over yet??)

Week of 10/19

Monday my mom came up to watch the kids while I attended a class at Fountain Rock Nature Center about the DNR curriculum called Growing up Wild.  I plan to teach it at co-op next semester.  It was nice to have a quiet, grown up day and feel like I was back in school again! She took them to MMA as well.  She also treated them to Burger King…isn’t that what Grandma’s are for? It was super cold today too, I had to scrap frost of my windshield before I went to class.  BRRRR!


Tuesday one week on the Whole 30 and it’s going very well!  The day didn’t get off to a good start.  I was woken up middle of the night b/c one kid peed the bed (though the bed seemed perfectly dry to me, his clothes were wet, not sure what happened).  Then K woke up really early… I am NOT a morning person.  I got up to spilled cereal (with milk) all over the kitchen floor and then C came in from outside crying b/c something killed his favorite chicken.  School basically went out the window!  We did some computer school, reading, and watched a film set in the timeframe we are learning about in History.  K had her 2 year old photo shoot.  I arranged it with the same lady that did her one year old one, at a local farm.  Chica was not very cooperative, so we will see how they turned out.  She just kept making weird faces and wouldn’t smile or look at the camera! Cub scouts for the oldest, and Z tagged along.  K and c and I stayed home and played games! Big N Little is a favorite of c’s.

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Wednesday I was hostess at Tips for Homeschooling Moms Facebook page!  We had a pretty decent school day, aside from K getting into EVERYTHING, some days that girls makes me crazy!  My allergies are killing me, or I have a cold…not sure which, but it’s definitely messing with me and making me feel miserable!  We had MMA today, then came home to decorate some small pumpkins I got at the farm for $1 each.  We have a pumpkin decorating contest at co-op. The Soccer practice…it was a beautiful day both Tuesday and Wednesday, in the 70s!  BiPolar Maryland weather!

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Thursday is co-op and we stayed for the Planetarium, so it was a LONG day! I left in the evening to head to my Mom’s for a girl’s weekend at Time Out for Women in Richmond!

So…. I can’t attest to the rest of the week.  Hubby is flying solo F-Sa!!

Kid’s have their Primary Program on Sunday, can’t miss that…so I’m heading home Saturday night!

Linking up at:
My Week in Review at Our 4 Kiddos, and Weekly Wrap up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
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See our days as they unfold by following me on INSTAGRAM, see what I’m eating for #Whole30 each day too!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Field Trip #179 Friday Blog Hop

Field Trip Friday!
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)

**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE


Today, after co-op we stayed to enjoy Cosmic Adventures a mobile planetarium!


2015-10-22 12.50.04

    Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    Review: Koru Naturals (TOS Review)

    Koru Naturals Review

    For this review I received from Koru Naturals:

    Skin Clear Cream
    Manuka Honey Propolis Soap and
    Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream

    It’s always fun to get review items JUST FOR ME, and I LOVED the last batch of Koru Naturals I reviewed!

    Skin Clear Cream

    This is very thick cream that comes in a jar.  When you first open it there is a plastic cover over the top and a small little spatula.  I ditched the clear cover, but kept the spatula….it always falls down into the cream though.  Maybe I should have kept it?! It has a very mild smell to it.  Reminds me of lemon scents, but I don’t see lemon listed anywhere.  It does have shea butter, manuka honey and several other natural ingredients.  It goes on smooth with no greasy after feel, which is great!  I really like it.  You can use it on your entire body, but external use only.  It may smell good, but don’t eat it!  ha!  I always have dry skin, and this has helped a lot!  I’m really looking forward to giving it the real test this winter!  I get so dried out with our pellet stoves running to heat the house!  It comes in a 4 oz bottle and sells for $19.20.

    2015-10-20 21.27.481 Skin Clear Cream_zpsockdha63

    Manuka Honey Propolis Soap

    The soap is great as well!  It smells great…my whole bathroom smells great!  I don’t typically like soap, it always dries my skin out (even when it says it won’t). So (confession time), I don’t usually use soap.  This was not the case with this soap, I even skipped using the cream a few times to see how the soap left me, and I was not dry!!  I wish it wasn’t in bar form…I mean soap bars are just slippery and hard to use (in my opinion), but the fact I loved it so much made it easy to overlook that minor detail! The bar is just under 5 oz and sells for $7.90.

    2 Manuka Honey Propolis Soap_zpsccumnmyg


    Emu Oil and Blue Tansy Oil Cream

    This was great too!  (Starting to see a trend here??  Koru Naturals is great!)  I have Fibromyalgia/Lupus and get these crazy aches and pains.  This really helped ease them!  I just rubbed them into the achy spot, and soon the main minimized or vanished all together.  It goes on smooth with no greasy feel (which is great).  The smell is mild, so you don’t smell like you are wearing a medicated lotion.  It’s all natural ingredients, another bonus!  I wish it had a little more of a tingle as it worked, b/c I like that feeling…makes it feel like it’s working.  It really doesn’t feel like anything at all when you put it on, but it’s obvious it works (and that’s what is most important)! It comes in a 4 oz container and sells for $14.80.

    2015-10-20 21.34.454 Emu Oil Blue Tansy Oil Aloe and MSM Extra Strength Cream_zpshv3ubibu

    Koru Naturals offers free shipping on all orders over $35. Koru Naturals uses all natural ingredients from New Zealand and makes sure that no animal testing is done by any of their suppliers.  They are earth friendly and have a wide range of natural products.  Several other items were tested this cycle by other TOS reviewers. Check them out!

    Koru Naturals Review
    Crew Disclaimer

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