Saturday, June 27, 2015

Our Weekly Wrap-Up

Can June really be almost over?
It seems like it was just April and freezing.

Well, this week has been a little hectic for us. We have been out and about EVERY DAY this week.
We have been trying to finish getting things ready for a yard sale on Saturday. Now they are calling for rain, so it will probably be canceled. I was really hoping for a good turn out so I could start ordering the kids school books. I guess we'll wait and see.

This week has been camp week.
Princess P has been doing a girl's choir camp at a nearby church.

She will sing at two Masses this Sunday. She's debating on whether or not she wants to sing a solo. (She decided not to do a solo, maybe next time). I can't wait to hear her sing! She is planning on doing the camp again later on this summer.

Lego Man had a wildlife camp this week. He learned about turtles and snakes.

They went hiking and found animal bones. They kids were able to see some snakes and turtles that have been rescued can't be released back to the wilderness.

He loved it! When princess P and I picked him up that afternoon, he talked non-stop on the ride home. He can't wait to go back next week and learn about Opossums and Raccoon.

One day this week, Mama had TWO whole hours to myself. Yup, TWO whole hours. I can't remember the last time I was by myself for that long without any children. I went shopping! I tried to find a new swimsuit but that was a disaster. The styles and prints this year have been horrible. I found one that was O.K., but the fit was all wrong. I guess I'll live with the one I have already. I did find two cute outfits for summer though.

We finished the week off with a get together with friends. It was so lovely to sit down and share lunch with friends. The kids loved seeing their friends and I enjoyed having adult conversation.

Hope you had a wonderful week!

Till next time,

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

TOS Review for Tales from the Circle C Ranch Book

Are you tired of books geared for young girls that focus on dating, make-up, boys, and fashion? 
Are you tired of vampires and girl drama? 
Do you want your daughter to read better quality literature?
Well head on over to the Circle C Ranch! 

My daughter and I were thrilled to be able to review Tales from the Circle C Ranch by Susan K. Marlow from Circle C Adventures. For this review, we received a physical copy of the book Tales from the Circle C Ranch and a free download for Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook.

Circle C Adventures offers a charming collection of books about the Circled C Ranch and the adventures of Andrea Carter, or Andi, as she is often referred to in the book. The books follow the life of Andi during the 1800's. Readers will learn what life was like on a ranch in the west for a young girl. The books cover a wide range of reading abilities and ages. The books are recommended for girls as young as six to girls twelve years and older. The books tell tales of Andi's adventures from a young girl and how life changes as she grows up and becomes a young lady.

Circle C Beginnings....Ages 6-9
Circle C Adventures....Ages 9-14
Goldtown Adventures.....Boy Themes......Ages 8-12
Tales of the Circle C Ranch.....Ages 8-12 
Circle C Milestones.....Ages 12 and up

This review is about the book Tales from the Circle C Ranch. Princess P had just turned 10 when we started this book. Once we received the book in the mail, I flipped though it and new it was going to be a great fit for her. The language wasn't too easy, but wasn't too hard either. We did decide to do this story as a read aloud together. I wanted to hear the story too. We took turns reading chapters from the book. I realized how much I missed story time with her. Once she started reading well independently, bedtime stories together seemed to disappear. It was nice sitting together, snuggling under the blankets, and reading aloud together. We read a chapter a night.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch is collection of short stories inspired by questions from curious fans! Readers will learn about Andi's father, why she wears overalls, the infamous Fourth of July race, and so much more.
It makes a wonderful companion book to the other Circle C Ranch books. It is a wonderful transitional book for readers of the Circle C Beginnings books to the Circle C Adventures books. I found it to be a great way to see if your daughter is interested in the series. If she is, you can then purchase the other books. The book includes some wonderful illustrations. I know Princess P looked forward to each picture.
The stories were great for a young girl. Having a 10 year old daughter can start to get tricky now. So many books out there want little girls to grow up too soon. Tales from the Circle C Ranch was perfect.
We can't wait to read more adventures that Andi finds herself in.

To go along with the book, we were given access to the lapbook. The lapbook is a great addition to the story. Parents can easily tie in a history lesson while reading the story. Young girls can see how life was different back in the good old days. 
The lapbook covers a variety of topics.

Britches, Dresses, and Overalls
An 1800's General Store
History of Photography
State Fairs
California King Snake
Horses and Saddles
The Pacific Coast States
and more

The instructions on how to do a lapbook are included. This is great for students and parents who have never done one before. Instructions on how to make the file folder, how to create the mini booklets, and where to place the mini booklets in the lapbook are given. 
The instructions are easy to understand. Great for a lapbook novice.
Young girls will have fun creating their lapbooks. Creating a lapbook is a great hands-on learning tool for kids. Our family loves making lapbooks. The kids enjoy making the mini books. They are always proud of their finished lapbook. They also make a wonderful keepsake of a child's school work. We have a plastic tub down stairs that stores all of the lapbooks we have created on the years.

We haven't had a chance to complete our lapbook for this book yet. We have been busy with end of year testing and summer camps. We plan on finishing it up next week. I love how lapbooks help reinforce learning. I am looking forward to using the lapbook as a way to see how well my daughter's  reading comprehension was. 
I'll post pics when we get it done!

Our Thoughts on the Book

My daughter enjoyed this book immensely. She LOVES horses. What little girl doesn't?  
This collection of short stories was a big hit. 
She is very eager to read more of this series. 

Discover more about the Circle C Ranch on.....

Read what other members of the  TOS Review Crew thought about the book and lapbook.
Just click on the pic below.

Dynamic Literacy Review

Till next time,

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TOS Review for SmartKidz Media

Today, I am doing a review for SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz.
SmartKidz Media produces wonderful (and award winning) media for homeschooling families.

Have you ever wanted a collection of educational movies without having to buy them all? Do you want a wide variety of options without having to drag everyone out to the library?  Are there days when school is just not going well and you need to change it up a little?
Well SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is the answer!

I am so exited and thrilled to be sharing this amazing option with you!
I received a one year subscription to SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers for this review.

SmartKidz Media offers......

  • Educational videos
  • Animated eBooks
  • Interactive Study guides
  • Music
  • and so much more.

Homeschoolers are provided with a variety of media supplements that offer them a rich, visual educational environment. The various media allows homeschoolers to dig deeper into the subjects they are already learning at home in their regular homeschooling curriculum. SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers gives students a whole new world in their homeschooling lessons and journey!

What can you find in the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers?

Students and families can discover videos, ebooks, study guide, etc. Just about everything, but the kitchen sink. Students and parents will have access to a variety of topics ranging from animals, history, science, geography, world cultures, sports, and health. They will even have access to the fine arts, like music and art.

The main library page is divided into two sections for easier navigation. The two sections are Family Media and the Reading and Learning Center.

The Family Media section has two categories.......The World of Discovery and Music & Fine Arts. Under the World of Discovery section, you will find 17 options. Under the Music & Fine Arts section, you will find 8 options to choose from.

Here a just a few of the options you will have to choose from in the video sections. There are so many options to choose from. Families will definitely be able to find something to go along with anything that they are studying or will be studying.

World of Discovery



After searching through the video catalog, families and students can check out the Reading and Learning Center
Here they will find 8 different sections....... Mighty EBook Collection, Baby Signs Program, My Animal Family, Quick Finds Study Guide, Learning Special Needs, Living Skills Program, Ready Set Sing, and the Fun Zone.

Mighty EBooks Collection

The Mighty EBook Collection can be used on any device that uses flash. So children can read them on the computer, a tablet, or even a smartphone. Great for car schooling. They have books for a wide range of ages and levels. They offer contemporary stories as well as classics. They have bible stories, silly songs, and flash animated books. The eBooks cover a wide range of topics too! Students can read Aesop Fables. They can discover the wonderful stories from The Real Mother Goose book, which was one of my favorites as a little girl! 

Quick Find Study Guides

The Quick Find Study Guide offers students help in topics like math, language arts, science, social studies, and foreign language. The study guides offer definitions, rules, and examples in whatever subject they choose. They are perfect for reinforcement of topics covered in the basic subjects like spelling, math, etc.

So how did we use it?

For us, we focused on the animal videos. Animals are a constant subject my kids are always learning about. We watch educational shows on TV. We check out a tons of  books and DVDs from the library. They just can't get enough of animals. My kids loved watching the videos. I loved how they could easily find an animal that they were already interested in on the video list. My son is always talking about this animal or that animal. It was nice for him to be able to find a short video on a particular animal when he was already showing an interest in it. As a homeschooling parent, I love being able to encourage their interests and likes. Simple homeschooling at its best. 

I am looking forward to adding the videos and other media options to our homeschooling next year. I am already researching topics and noting what we can use for next year. I can't wait to see what else they add to their collection!

Want to give it a try?

The SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers offers a membership plan for the entire family. There are 2 membership payment plans.

Monthly Membership - $10.00 a month
Yearly Membership- $99.00 for the year

They do offer a 14 day free trial membership. This is a great way to see if SmartKidz is right for your family!
There is no limit on the amount of videos that can be watched. Families can watch however many videos they want. They can watch them anywhere, anytime, and on any device that has access to the streaming. You can watch on your computers, laptop, smart phones, tablets, or T.V's.

SmartKidz Media Review
Discover more about this wonderful company on....


Till next time,

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

CTC Math Family Plan Review

Recently, we were given the opportunity to try out and review the 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math. CTC Math is an online math program. The program contains lessons for various grades and math subjects. Pat Murray, a well-renowned Australian math teacher, created the program to help students find their confidence in their math skills. He has already helped thousands of students and now he wants to help yours!

CTCMath Review

When purchasing the online program, you will receive access to all the lessons for all the levels!
  • Kindergarten
  • First to Sixth Grade
  • Basic Math & Pre-Algebra
  • Algebra 1 & Algebra 2
  • Geometry
  • Trigonometry
  • Pre-Calculus & Calculus 
The program contains over 1300 animated and narrated math lessons. There are over 50,000 interactive questions for students to answer. The program has diagnostic testing for easy placement of students.  The lessons are presented in a friendly step by step way. The lessons are easy to understand and explained in simple easy terms. Perfect for the struggling student or a student that wants to get ahead!

The lessons are are broken up into two sections. The tutorial part of the lesson runs about 4 to 9 minutes. The math concepts are presented in a very straight forward way. 

The tutors voice is clear and crisp. The tutor speaking is a real person, not a computer generated voice. He does have an Australian accent, but I didn't mind hearing him in the back ground as my daughter worked. My daughter found his voice much more pleasant than some of the voices or characters used in other online programs. She said the gentleman's voice wasn't annoying or whinny sounding. It wasn't a dull monotone sound either. 
Each lesson has a lesson summary that can be printed out if the student needs it.

After the brief lesson, the students are given the opportunity to complete the interactive questions. While doing the questions, the students are immediately shown if they have gotten the answer right with a green check mark. 

If they get a 100% on the test they can move on. If they struggle a little or do not pass, they can redo the interactive questions three times. After completing the questions three times, the score is figured out by averaging the three attempted scores. They students can print out a report sheet for the lesson. It includes the problems solved, average score, and their highest score. This would be a great sheet to print out for a binder if you are keeping track of their progress.

The program keeps track of the student's progress. Every time a student attempts a math lesson it is logged in. The results are recorded. This allows parents and students to see where they are doing well and where they are struggling. This enables the students and parents to focus on those areas.
Each week parents will get an email sent directly to their inbox with a link to a progress chart making it easy for parents to stay aware and on top of their child's work.

Our Thoughts on the Program

Overall, Princess P enjoyed using CTC math. She was able to sit down on the couch and work independently on her tablet. She liked how the problems were corrected right away. She was motivated to improve her score when she didn't do so well in a specific area. She would sit and retry the lesson until her three tries were up. She did like how the tutor explained the math concepts. She stated numerous times that she was FINALLY understanding it! I saw a huge jump in her math skills.

We will continue to use CTC Math throughout the summer. When school starts up next year we will add it to her daily math lessons. This is the 3rd online math program we have tried and it is our favorite so far. She asks to do the lesson first thing when school starts. We did take a 2 week break, but we will get back to daily math drills next week. 

I highly recommend this program to parents with students struggling with math. I am hoping this program will help catch Princess P up to her grade level, but more importantly I am hoping this will give her the confidence she needs in math. It may even make her see math as fun!

Want to learn more read some more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew or check out their CTC Math's Facebook page.

CTCmath Review

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Classically Catholic Memory Gamma Year~ Week 10


Source~ Wikipedia

Oh a traveling we will go! As we continue on our journey through the United States, we are now venturing into the mid western states. I am less familiar with the states. I have only visited Colorado and that was when I was a child.
We labeled our map and the kids continued on with their state coloring pages. 

Need a few more ideas on learning the states. One thing I did was try to order travel brochures from each state. This brings in a lot, I mean a lot, of books and pamphlets for the states. This is a great way for the kids to see the beauty of each state and see what type of land areas each state has. Kansas definitely looks different than Montana.

We did try a post card exchange. If you can find a good group this would be great. Sadly, we had a hard time getting cards from all the states. I eventually gave up. I may try again in a few years.
It would be really nice to travel to each state. RVing anyone? I think it would be a fun and educational way to learn about our great country. There is no better way of learning than seeing it ALL first hand. Of course, that's easier said than done.


The Anima Christi is one of my favorite prayers. I have always loved this prayers. It's simple, yet truly encompasses the meaning behind the Eucharist for me.
For this prayer, we listened along to the CCM Cd. Our chant Cd didn't have this prayer sung. I wish it did. I did find this beautiful version online.


The Anima Christi is a prayer from the 14th century. It is profoundly Christ centered. When praying this prayer, we can focus on the passion of our Lord. We can pray it when we are in need of his strength. It is still often recited after receiving communion.
While learning this prayer, I have encouraged my children to pray it after they return from receiving the Eucharist. I hope it becomes a part of their daily prayer routines.

Well this week, we start the bible verses. For the remaining 9 weeks, we will work on memorizing the bible verses. For each verse, I created a cursive worksheet for them to copy the bible verse. They will write the verse in their copy work notebook. We will recite the verse daily. By the end of the 2 week period, they should have it memorized.

Great Words~
The Declaration of Independence
We will be working through this for the next few weeks. While memorizing this excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, we are listening to Thomas Jefferson's America Stories of the Founding Fathers by Robert Weiss.

We listened to this when we were traveling in the car. It is a wonderful production for kids. I really enjoyed listening to it with the kids and I even learned a few things myself.

Now that we are heading into Colonial America and the Revolutionary War, I cheated and used a wonderful resource to help with our learning. History Pockets!!


These two books are wonderful. I love how they can add to a lesson and make the learning fun. The hands on approach is great! The books provide informational pages for the kids. They include maps, a timeline, literature, arts and crafts. I never use all the books, but I always find tons of stuff to do from them.

Multiples of 11

We worked at reciting the multiples and then I put the kids to work on a few worksheets.

Here is a fun game we play that helps with learning multiplication facts. 

Dino-Math Tracks

This week we talked about static and current electricity. To learn more about electricity, we read from our Real Science 4 Kids Physics book. After reading our chapter, we watched a Bill Nye DVD from the library on electricity.

The kids worked on the following worksheets.
Electricity Worksheet from Super Teacher Worksheets
Electricity Word Search

Lego Man created his own mini flashlight using a Altoids mint box. You can find out how to make your own and have fun learning about electricity.

Till next time,

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review for Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal

Field trips are a huge part of  homeschooling life. Who doesn't love them?
The kids love getting out to explore new places and mamas love to get away and have a short break from teaching!

Apologia Educational Ministries has a fantastic note booking journal just for field trips, called the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal. This is a brand new item from them. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to give it a try.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

For this review, we received a spiral bound notebook. It measures 8.5" x 11" just like a standard notebook, so it fits easily into bags. The notebook has a think, durable plastic coated cover. This is important for kids and traveling. I know we all have a few notebooks lying around the house with no cover. There are 64 pages in the book. The pages are colored and remind me of a scrapbook.

The pages are a nice heavy weight...less likely to tear. The book seems pretty durable, which is good for taking it with you on your travels. The first page is the cover page that has a spot for the student to write who the journal belongs to. After the cover page, there are some resource pages.
These pages provide some wonderful resources for mamas.

Preparing for a Field Trip Pages
     These pages provide a simple check list for a field trip. It starts with the week before the trip, moves to the night before the trip, then on the way and while your are there. A great resource for busy mamas!

Field Trip Idea Pages
     These 2 pages give some wonderful ideas for future filed trips. Some you may have thought of, but a few of the ideas may be something new to give a try. They even have field trip ideas broken up into areas that you may be studying. For example, if you are studying the human body, you may want to visit a hospital, a nutritionist, an eye doctor, a gym, or hold a first aid class. Witnessing an autopsy is even recommended!

Places I've Explored Pages ( your State, the United States & the World)
     This section contains pages for students to record all the trips they have taken. They can record the places and dates they have visited. They act like a log book book.

For the students, there are three main sections! These sections make up most of the book. They are the pages that the students use to record all of the fun and fascinating things they will see and do.

Field Trip Pages~ Specific Pages
    These pages are for the students to record their information about their field trip. They can record where they went, the date, what books they read before the trip, what they want to see and do, what they did on the trip, and something that was memorable. There are sections where they can draw a map or a picture of something they saw.

My Special Spot Pages
     The pages in this section are for recording changes in a special spot to the student. It's a nature spot that can be at a park, in your back yard, a field,  or the woods. The students visit their special spot 4 times a year and record how it has changed during the year. How do the seasons affect the area? This is a great way for kids to slow down and look at the world around them.
Stopping to smell the roses!

As I See It Pages
   These pages are a wonderful addition to the book! They allow the students to record things they have seen through art! Some of the pages have prompts like texture, colors, and patterns. Most are blank which leaves it up to the child to create. These pages encourage the use of their imagination. I love how they add another aspect to this experience. The students can get as creative as they want!

Bonus Material
The book also contains an extra bonus! It provides a special link and password for parents and kids to see more materials like maps, virtual field trips, field guides, museums, etc. There are too many additional resources provided to list them all!

How did we use it?

So far, we used it to record two field trips. They don't have to be big and amazing. One of our trips was just to the creek down the road. Here the kids explored the water and the surrounding area. They were looking for crayfish, fish, tadpoles, snakes, and anything else they thought was worth finding. They even tested a water filtration straw! Yup, this mama allowed them to drink water from the creek. Nope, I didn't try it. The notebook journal allowed them to record their findings and write down what they enjoyed about the hike.
We have been a little busy with finishing our school year to take too many other trips. I am looking forward to using it more this summer.

My plans for next year is to get the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal for both kids. I think it will be a great way for the kids to record their field trips. At the end of the year, they will have a amazing journal that documented their travels and adventures for the year! Having a completed journal would be an added bonus for those families during portfolio reviews.

Would I recommend it?

Yes! I really love the concept and idea behind the book. I like how it includes prompts and suggestions. They encouraged the student to start thinking and learning how to be observant. It teaches the student in a fun and easy way. It allows them to see what is around them and create a "scrapbook" of their special days. I honestly believe this book wold be great for students in grades 1st-8th grade. The younger kids can focus more on one word answers and drawing pictures. Mamas could easily add to the journal for them. As the student progresses, they can add more and more details. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see how a students abilities improve over the years?
 I know my kids enjoy looking at things they did a few years ago and see how much they have improved in their writing and artistic abilities.
By creating these journals and keeping them, the kids will be creating a treasured memory! They will be able to have a look into their lives when they were young. I wish I would have had something like this when I was child. I could have recorded out trips to NYC, the beach, Colorado, family reunions, and even Disney World!

Want to learn more?


Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
Till next time,

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Classically Catholic Memory Gamma Year ~ Week 9

The United States

Source~ Wikipedia

Well, we are slowly traveling through the United States. This week, we are looking at a few of the plains states and grand old Texas. We labeled our map from CCM. The kids worked on the coloring pages for the states we were learning this week. After coloring in the state, they located the capital and wrote the name down on the map. Another fun idea when learning the states would be to have the kids color each state's flag!



This week we are learning about the precepts of the Church. We read about them in the Baltimore Catechism. Here is a link for a free online source.  We spent the two weeks talking about each one, what it meant, and why is it important for us to obey them.

We are finishing up the Sanctus. The kids have ti down. We even find ourselves saying in Latin at Mass.
A wonderful site called, That Resource Site, has a prayer card learning set for the Sanctus.  I printed it our for my kids and they used it to practice every night before bed. I did find a file folder game for the Sanctus. you can purchase a file download of a memory game and a puzzle to help the kids to learn the prayer. You can check it out over at ed snap shots.


Ten rhymes with hen, so I had to use baby chicks. Learning the multiples of ten is fun and easy. 
Counting dimes is probably one of the easiest ways for kids to pick up on them. They can count by 10 using their fingers and toes. 

Playing a fun game of toss across can help. We used painters tape to make squares on the floor. After the kids threw the beans bags into the squares they had to add up their points by counting by ten. 

Here are two worksheets to help older kids practice their multiples of 10 facts.

Great Words~
We are finally moving on! Now that we are done with the poem about Christopher Columbus, we are now on our way to learning an expert of the Declaration of Independence.

As usual we read over the section being studied for the week. I had the kids write out the selection to help with their memorization. we just used a plan old notebook. You can find some themed notebooking pages online, if you feel like it. I didn't want to spend any unnecessary funds.

This week we talked about the Enlightenment period and the Scientific Revolution. We focused on learning about the different inventions that famous scientist invented. We checked out a few books from the library.


Were lucky enough to visit the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C a few months ago. While there the kids explored the section called Explore the Universe. It was a wonderful exhibit that looked at all the astronomical instruments that were invented and how they changed the way we viewed the universe.

To learn more about the scientific revolution, you can head on over to Mr. Donn's website and get a wonderful overview of the subject.
We didn't do much hands-on learning for this section, since we had visited the museum. It was filled with so much for the kids to do. I was pleased with all they had remembered from the museum. Real life learning at its best.

Science~ Energy

First off, we headed to the library to check out some books about energy. 


We watched a few videos online about energy from Visual Learning Systems. We enjoyed watching the videos. After viewing them, we worked on a few of the sheets that can be printed out. If you want to learn more about what Visual Learning Systems has to offer, you can check out my review for them. 
For experiments, we just followed along in the CCM books.

Till next time,

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