Follow our family as we journey through life.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wild Adventures, Day 1

While on our trip down south we got to visit Wild Adventures Theme Park. It was a great introduction to big roller coasters for the boys.
We started our trip with breakfast at the Waffle House.
First roller coaster was a smaller one, a warm up for the others.


This one was one of those ones that you hang from and it twists all in a cork-screw.

James and I are in that front car. This ride was a mistake. I'm getting too old for this stuff.

They had tons of other rides to enjoy as well.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Allison the Photgrapher

Childhood has never been captured like this before. My friend Allison is a photographer and her photos are amazing. Check these ones out that she snapped of my littlest ones:

These are precious!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014


We were recently able to enjoy a wonderful hike.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Product Review: Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page Review
 Moving Beyond the Page offers affordable curriculum to meet your homeschooling needs. Their comprehensive curriculum covers science, social studies and language arts for students from age 6 to 15. I am always interested in finding quality curriculum to liven up our homeschooling day. I didn't hesitate to say yes when Moving Beyond the Page offered to give me two of their products for free in exchange for an honest review on this blog: Language Art Package~ The Sign of the Beaver /Online and  Social Studies Package: Revolution.
There is so much that Moving Beyond the Page offers that I had a hard time choosing just two items. The language arts selection alone offers dozens of items. The products are divided into three categories: social studies, science, and language art. Book guides for novels and poetry, units on ocean life and simple machines, as well as history and geography study programs are all some of the wonderful offerings you'll find over on the Moving Beyond the Page website.
The Sign of the Beaver

One product I received was Language Arts Package- The Sign of the Beaver/Online. This program is recommended for children in grades 3rd or 4th grade (ages 8-10). In order to successfully complete this unit, the student needs to be able to read at a 4th or 5th grade level and write a paragraph. The unit comes with online access to the curriculum guide for The Sign of the Beaver and a physical copy of the book for $19.92. Items can also be purchased individually for $12.93 (online curriculum) and $6.99 (book).

Henry and I worked on The Sign of the Beaver Study Guide for his portion of this review. I received access to the online study guide, and I received a physical copy of the book. The Sign of the Beaver is a story about two boys, one Native American and one pioneer, and how their relationship changes and shapes their understanding of the world. The study guide is recommended for ages 8 to 10, but I think can be easily adapted to an older student (probably up to age 12). If you have a younger child this can be adapted to them as well by providing more adult involvement.

The guide consists of several pre-reading activities, a section for each of the 13 chapters, and a final project. We worked through the chapters in order, reading the chapter and completing the online guide. I thought it was great that suggested answers were provided to the questions so that when I didn't get a chance to read the chapter with Henry, it didn't slow his progress down.

This is no mini-book for suggested post-reading activities. This guide is very thorough and can easily be the only homeschooling you complete all day. Perfect for folks who love unit studies! Since we were completing this guide in addition to our regular homeschooling material, we picked and chose what interested us the most. This program offers the flexibility to do just that, and I felt as being able to focus just on our interests, and expand on those helped us to develop a deeper understanding.

In addition to comprehension questions there were several reproducibles to print up that helped Henry record his understanding of the book. We didn't complete all of these, instead I went through and printed up the ones that I thought would best benefit Henry's understanding of the story. I didn't feel as though this was the sort of program that required you to complete each and every detail. It was easily adaptable to my preferences for teaching my child, and as everyone knows that is a biggie for me in homeschooling curriculum.
Henry is not excited about the usual reading comprehension pages you get with most literature units. As you can see in this photo:

He assumes I have handed him another boring worksheet about his reading. What he quickly realized (as the photo below shows), is that these sheets are engaging and fun.
Sometimes an activity offered more than one option for completion, such as designing and discussing his own dance set to music, or learning storyteller techniques and telling his own story. These were easy to do and rarely required outside materials. Sometimes they just didn't interest Henry and we skipped them. Sometimes he really liked both ideas and we did just this section for the chapter. An example of this was in Lesson 9 when it asked to have the student come up and illustrated a new method for keeping track of time. This assignment frustrated and baffled Henry, so we spent little time on it. In the same lesson the idea of stereotypes were introduced. Henry was unfamiliar with this, but was intrigued at this concept. We spent a lot of time discussing this idea and we can be a "force of positive change" when it comes to preconceived notions. Just because someone is in a wheelchair doesn't mean they don't want to play at the park. It just means their play will be different from your own. Different doesn't mean worse or better. It was neat to see Henry's understanding of stereotypes grow into a deeper understanding.

The program also offered a final project for the student to complete. In this particular unit the project centered around creating a movie script and scenes to compliment the book. Henry and I talked about how movies don't always follow the book, so he was allowed to be creative and interpret the book in his own way. He enjoyed this part of the unit and the many aspects it entailed. One part was titled: Movie Script.

In this part, Matt and Attean are having a conversation that your child writes. Here is what the above conversation says, written by Henry:
Matt: Hello. Who are you?
Attean: My name is Attean. What is yours?
Matt: My name is Matt.
Attean: It's nice to meet you.
Matt: You too. Do you want to go exploring?
Attean: Sure. Where should we go?
Matt: How about over on the other side of the creek?
Attean: Sure. I've never been over there.
~~Three hours later~~
Matt: Where are we?
Attean: I don't know. Let's go backwards.
Matt: What was that?
Attean: I don't know, but I don't like it.
Matt: Look out! Behind you!
Attean: Did you bring any weapons because I didn't!
Matt: All I brought was my knife.
Attean: Give it to me!
~~Attean stabs bear with knife~~
Attean: Whew! That was close!
Matt: Well, that's one problem solved.
Attean: What the other?
Matt: We're still lost in the middle of the woods!
Although I have only displayed the written work, the unit offers a lot of options for activities that don't involve pen and paper. I found it extremely helpful to teach Henry tools of conversation in regards to literature. It reinforced previously learned concepts, like open-ended questions, and helped to introduce new concepts and themes. The program itself was valuable to our homeschool and I would look at this site again when searching for literature units.


The second item I received was Social Studies Package- Revolution. This history-based program is designed for ages 12 to 14 and requires an 8th or 9th grade reading level. The package come with the Revolution curriculum book (shown above), and two additional books: Great Colonial Projects You can Build Yourself and We were there, Too! Young People in U.S. History. One required item that I did not receive, but that we already owned, was the DVD movie: The Story of US. The Revolution curriculum is available on the Moving Beyond the Page website as a complete unit study for $65.93 or the items can be purchased as part of a greater package that represents a semester or year-long unit of study.

James likes history and we were very excited to complete this unit. One thing I liked is that the curriculum is very well laid out and easy to follow. It even has a suggested timeframe that the lessons should be completed in. We quickly realized though, that the timeframe they suggested did not fit our homeschooling style. Lessons that they suggested should take one day were nearly impossible to complete in that timeframe. This could be due to the fact that we were also doing our other homeschooling work, or that James just works slowly than the average student.  

Another reason that it may have taken James longer is that the program is very writing intensive, and written work takes James a long time to complete. He has only just turned 12, so he is at the younger end of the recommended age range. He met all the prerequisites for the course in terms of his reading and writing abilities, but being on the younger end of the spectrum meant that these skills are not as developed as they would be in a student who is older and more advanced.

A final reason the unit may have taken James longer is that there are a lot of hands-on activities involved, and James is not my crafty kid. If this had been Margaret, she may have completed this study from beginning to end without stopping. This being James, crafts and hands-on projects baffle him, and as a result take a long time: both mentally and physically. Even though reading two chapters and writing a paragraph took 30 minutes, sewing a felt pocket to represent that reading took an entire afternoon.
The program focuses strongly on a time lining aspect, and they suggest blank timeline cards and as an alternative offer their timeline products for this activity (scroll down a little after clicking the link for ordering information). James already has a timeline program that we have been using for several years and his current program was easily adapted into their program needs. I love exploring time lining materials and I tried very hard to find information about the American History timeline products, but as I mention below, I had a difficult time navigating the website and was unable to find more than the order page and a thumbnail photo of the product.

Although we were comfortable using the time line products we had, I was very interested in learning more about the products that Moving Beyond the Page offered. I ended up calling the company and leaving a voice mail message requesting information. The customer service was amazing. Vicki called me back within an hour and had the information I requested ready. When she couldn't find info on a product she researched it and then sent me a detailed email about the products in question. She did all this without knowing if I was a purchasing customer or that I had products to review. Her expertise and experience with the products helped me more than a website description ever would have.
The video component of this course really added a lot to the program. At first I was worried because it opened right up with someone being burned at the stake. Taken out of context, that seemed disturbing and violent, but within the context of Early American history it was completely appropriate. And being that the course is designed for 12 to 14 year olds, I think this age range can handle it. Only a small part of the video was used in this course since it is an American Revolution course.

An aspect that I really liked about this particular program is that James was able to complete almost all of it independently. As he gets older I like that he can self-moderate his learning, and this program supports this. I was of course on hand to answer questions and clarify things, but he was self-led and I didn't have to after him to complete his work. It was clearly defined for him in the curriculum, and he was able to easily know what was expected of him. Several parts in the program even state: "Talk with your parent about..."

The books included are very informative and  can be used for a variety of purposes and projects beyond the length of this course. I liked this because it is nice to have versatile materials, instead of materials designed for a specific purpose and then stored until the next kid is of the age to complete the program. I feel that both books could be used for a younger and older student with minimal modification.

As I mentioned above, although the products were very thorough and more than met my needs and expectations, the website was difficult for me to navigate. I was often frustrated finding the items that I needed to access including just general pricing information and access to my online curriculum. I spent a lot of time "going in circles" on the website using search terms and trying to click on items that had no links. When I was able to locate an item, often times the information on the product was very limited. As mentioned above, a call to customer service quickly resolved the confusion I was experiencing and getting a personal take on the products really helped me to understand them better.
The value of this product is unbelievable. You get so much "bang for your buck." It's easily adaptable to your homeschooling style and schedule. Lessons are well defined and older students can work through them independently. Extra supplies, when needed, are usually items that you would have around your house, or an inexpensive common item at the superstore.
I personally will be looking into these units, not only for personal home use, but to expand the classroom unit at our homeschooling academy, LMCA. Moving Beyond the Page offers quality materials that worked beautifully into our homeschooling world.

It was pretty fun. I especially liked the movie part where you got to make your own movie.

I really liked how it showed both sides of the story like how the settlers thought that the Indians were savages because they kept attacking them but that the Indians thought that they were trying to invade their territory.
There are so many products to explore over at Moving Beyond the Page and plenty of folks over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew checked out various items for their homeschooling needs. Click here to read those reviews or click the banner below. 

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes & 5 Random Thoughts

You're getting these a day early on account of the holiday. You can thank me later.
We had a bad smell in our entry room for about a month. As the weather got hotter, the smell got more noticeable. It was never overpowering, but it was always there. Figured out it was a season's worth of dirty soccer socks, stored neatly in the shoe bin with the soccer cleats. Guess the boys never thought they were important enough to wash. And I never noticed because... because they are soccer socks!
We have a summer to-do list around here and have gotten a good start on many of the projects.
Shelf above the back door.

Margaret's room painted purple and we down-sized her to a twin size bed. I painted the bottom half of the red bunk bed.
The sewing room/office is painted the same purple. I still have to choose the floor material. Your suggestions are welcome.

We scored a nice "new to us" desk off craigslist. Waste not, want not, folks. Waste not, want not.
Check out the neat wooden box I got at a yard sale for $3.00

It's super heavy and so neat. I know it's for jewelry, but I am going to put something even more awesome in it. Lego mini figures.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Outdoor Play

We've been enjoying this wonderful weather with tons of outdoor play.
Watching soccer games

Carnival fun

Park Play