Blue Skies West (Book Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Three years ago, I had the privilege of reviewing the first four books in the Horses of History series by Mattie Richardson and Appaloosy Books. At that time, my son read them to review and then recommended them to my daughter. This month, my daughter was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review the next book in the series: Blue Skies West.

Blue Skies West is a fun chapter book about the Oregon Trail from the perspective of a horse traveling the trail. The book is just under 140 pages, with a paperback cover that features a beautiful horse and wagon trains.

Book Summary

“This is a book about the Oregon Trail. It starts with a family deciding if they want to go on the Oregon Trail or not. They have heard a lot about it but are not sure if they want to attempt to go to Oregon or not. They decide to go; they get everything they think they need and head out on their journey. They travel well for a while, then there is sickness, and people die. Some decide to turn back, but this family keeps going. It talks about different stops they made at various landmarks. After a long journey, they finally get to Oregon at the end of the book.” Elizabeth Age, 14

What Did We Think?

“I really enjoyed the book. I liked how it was set from the horse’s perspective. I would recommend it to students who are into history, horses, or both. It was an easy read with heavier content. By heavier, I mean that there was death, sickness, Indian attacks, and things like that. It reminded me of playing Oregon Trail, the game to some extent.”

I love that this series of books helps students look at history from a different perspective. While they are historical fiction, they contain a great deal of accurate historical information. While students from elementary up through high school might enjoy the stories, you need to be aware that they may not be the right fit for younger students who are very sensitive to death and scary situations. They are probably ideal for upper elementary and middle grades students.

They are perfect for students that love horses. They can be read for fun or as a part of your history curriculum.

Be sure to click on the graphic below to see what other Crew Members thought about Blue Skies West. You can also check out our review of the other books in the series: Horses of History Appaloosy Books by Mattie Richardson (Review).

horse fiction books

A Family Style Beatrix Potter Unit Study

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

Life has been busy, and we have been back at school for a couple of months. For us, that translated into a little bit of schooling fatigue and the desire to do something a little different. I wanted to keep school going but have some fun and make some memories.

With that in mind, I decided that we would do a unit study on Beatrix Potter. While Beatrix Potter may have written her books for young children, I find that all ages can enjoy them.  

C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I think Beatrix Potter’s books are prime examples of good children’s books.

How to Use this Study

I designed this study to be something the whole family could join, though my younger children spent a bit more time digging into the books and completing the artwork. 

You can use these resources in a variety of ways. You could have a one-day focused on Beatrix Potter, or you can break it out and do something each morning during your morning time studies, or you could plan a couple of tea times over several weeks. It might be something you do at night for evening education. Use whatever schedule works best for your family.

Beatrix Potter Books

The obvious choices for books are those written by Beatrix Potter. You can find them in a variety of forms, from her entire collection to small books of each individual story. You can even find her complete collection on audiobook!

Personally, I think that the illustrations are an essential part of her books, so I recommend having a paper copy of the books even if you are also using audiobooks. I chose to read some of her stories aloud while showing my boys the pictures, but I also got an audio copy they could listen to later to continue enjoying the stories.

The book my grandparents gave me for my 1st Christmas. I enjoyed sharing it with my children.

There are also some excellent biographies of Beatrix Potter. One of our favorites is Who Was Beatrix Potter?. There are also some more in-depth biographies that would be suitable for teens and adults. If you enjoy coloring, you could try one of the available Beatrix Potter coloring books.

In addition to the picture books, there is a fun set of fictional novels based on Beatrix Potter’s life. The stories include a lot of accurate biographical information but also have fun elements, such as talking animals that are reminiscent of Potter’s own works. These novels are written for adults, but the content is appropriate, and my teenage daughter is beginning the series.

Art and Science for Beatrix Potter

Nature was highly inspirational in Beatrix Potter’s stories. She had spent many hours as a young child studying animals and nature. These stories can be a great way to get your child excited about nature study. Many of the animals she features in her books can be found easily in most areas of the country.

For example, you could read about Squirrel Nutkin and then go outside and look for squirrels. Students can draw a squirrel in their nature journal or do more research on squirrels. (If you want to get started with Nature Study but want a resource to help you get going, I recommend a subscription to Homeschool Nature Study.)

We incorporate art into our studies whenever it is feasible. It is a great way to help students remember what they are learning and have a fun project to share with others. Nana over at You Are an Artist has a beautiful chalk pastel lesson featuring some of Beatrix Potter’s characters in her Famous Artists course.

If you want to add even more art, you could use this Dover coloring book or look at the You Are an Artist animal lessons for chalk pastels of many of the animals included in Potter’s books.

Beatrix Potter Art

Tea Times and Snacks

In our house, snacks are essential to a good unit study. They make things fun, help create memories, and are just plain delicious. It is incredible how much more exciting a literature discussion becomes to my teens when there is a good snack involved.

For this Beatrix Potter study, we decided to do scones and tea since Potter was British. This was perfect because it was reasonably simple and delicious; they could enjoy it while I read aloud. We also had all of the ingredients in the house already.

My daughter helped and made the scones for us, but if you don’t have time to make something homemade, you can use a pre-bought pastry or cookie. (Don’t feel guilty about making memories from a box mix.)

If you have younger children, you can put herbal tea, milk, juice, or hot cocoa into tea cups to make it feel special without the caffeine from regular hot teas.

Tea parties are so much fun and make a simple snack feel fancy. Check your local thrift stores or yard sales if you do not have tea cups already. You can generally find them for $1 or less in our area; that way, if they accidentally get broken, it is no big deal.

Other Beatrix Potter Resources

Remember that you can pick and choose what resources work best for your family and how you want to implement any study. Have fun and make memories with your children while enjoying beautiful literature and artwork. I have included a few other resources that I’ve found in the list below. If you have a favorite resource for Beatrix Potter, share it in the comments.

Tales of Beatrix Potter movie

Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher movie

Beatrix Potter Teether Book (for the youngest family members)

Peter Rabbit Book and Toy set

Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box

Miss Potter Movie (free on Amazon but rated PG. We have not yet watched it, so preview it to ensure it is appropriate for your family.)

Scone Recipe

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password; we are adding new items to the library monthly. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale on their monthly memberships!

TabletClass Math Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We started our year planning to use a particular math program and then had issues that meant I needed a different course for my daughter. That same week, we had the opportunity to review an annual plan of TabletClass Math’s  Geometry course. We were so grateful to try it but also willing to go a different route if it was not a good fit for my daughter.

How Does TabletClass Math Work?

In TabletClass Math, the instructor covers the lesson material, and then the student completes the practice problems and watches the explanation videos afterward.

At the end of each chapter, there is extra practice, chapter notes, and a quiz. There are 11 chapters, and it takes about three weeks to get through each chapter. It takes 30 minutes to an hour to get through a lesson, with 3-5 lessons per chapter.

Student Portal

A couple of sample schedules can be used for pacing, but it is self-guided, and the student can work at their own pace.

The quizzes use a multiple-choice format and are computer graded. You can use those at the end of each chapter, or the parent portal provides another chapter test that can be printed and answered. The parent would then use the provided answer key to grade that test.

Video Lesson Screenshot

What We Thought

My daughter had been disappointed at the need to switch courses, but she was thankful after using this program for a few weeks. She found this  Geometry course to be easy to understand and felt she could work through it successfully.

She said, “I like the setup; it is easy to follow and figure out where I am supposed to be and what I need to do. The lessons are short and easy to understand. My biggest complaint is that I must watch the explanation video for the practice problems even if I get the questions correct.”

As a parent of multiple students (and someone who hasn’t taken geometry in over twenty years), I really appreciated that the course could be very self-directed. My daughter can easily navigate through the work independently, and the computer even grades her quizzes. The lectures and question explanations have been detailed enough that she has needed very little help from me to work through this course.

I know that my daughter would prefer not to listen to the question explanations when she has answered correctly, but I see the value in the reinforcement.

Parent Portal

Our Recommendations

 This is an excellent option if you are a homeschool parent looking for a self-paced math program that can be completed online. It has enough instruction and practice to be a robust program without unnecessary repetition and busy work. They offer a variety of upper-level math courses to meet your needs, and the Review Crew reviewed different courses, so be sure to click on the graphic below to find out what Crew Families thought about the other classes.

online math

Otter B Free Book Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We recently had the opportunity to review Otter B Free, a fun children’s book that Pamela Kennedy and Anne Kennedy Brady wrote. Aaron Zenz Illustrated Otter B, and it was published by Focus on the Family.

My boys love getting mail (really, we all do), and book mail is our favorite. So, they were excited to open up the package with this new book. It is a sturdy hardcover book with bright and colorful illustrations. They loved the word art and the fun picture of an otter on the front cover.

What is Otter B Free?

Otter B Free is relatively short, with just over 20 pages. Each page has full cover illustrations and a small amount of text. This could be read independently by third or fourth-graders but is an excellent read-aloud for pre-k and elementary school students.

This is one book in a series of books that feature Otter B! In this book, the main character, Otter B, really wants to win a trophy at the Fourth of July field day. However, he knew it was going to be hard to beat Felicia. He and his friends devise a plan to win the trophy, but then Felicia gets hurt. Otter’s dad talks to him about the freedom to help others and true freedom in Christ. Then Otter and his friends have to decide what to do about winning the trophy.

How Did We Use It?

I chose to read it aloud to both my eight-year-old and my four-year-old. They both enjoyed the story and the pictures. I loved that it taught a powerful and biblical message about freedom and the responsibilities of biblical freedom from Galatians 5:13.

What Did We Think?

My boys enjoyed this book so much that they had me add the other ones in the series to their Christmas wish lists. I encourage you to check out Otter B Free and click on the graphic below to see what other Review Crew members thought about this book. 

Character Traits

Light of Mine Book Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I am a bookaholic. I love books to read for myself and books for my children, but most of all, I love books I can share with my children. Our family loves doing family read-alouds and audiobooks. We enjoy many favorite classics, but I always look for new books to add to our collection. That is why I jumped on the opportunity to review Allen Brokken’s Light of Mine Unit Study – Premium through Towers of Light Christian Resources LLC.

What is Light of Mine?

Light of Mine is a 205-page novel that shares the adventures of three siblings as they battle the “dark one” and learn to shine the light of God’s love. The book was full of adventures, mishaps, and excitement. Through it, Brokken weaves the gospel truth into the story. It is the first book in the Towers of Light series.

The adventures are family-friendly, but some intense moments in the book might be a bit much for really young or sensitive children. For example, in the beginning, the father has gone off to fight the “dark one,” and the children believe he is lost and presumed dead. Their mother then leaves them at home to go and save him.

What was in the Unit Study Bundle?

The Light of Mine Unit Study – Premium included the novel, workbook, and audiobook for Light of Mine. The workbook is recommended for grades 3-6+. The workbook breaks the book down into a four-week study, with activities for five days a week. The first four days of the week include:

  • A reading assignment.
  • Reading comprehension questions.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Memory verse.
  • A story passage for more in-depth discussion.

The fifth day of the week has an activity or craft to accompany the week’s reading. The book also has an answer key to help parents facilitate the study.

The bundle also included the audiobook as mp3 files on a thumb drive and a personal audio player. I loved having both options and that my younger children could listen independently without needing any other technology when using the personal audio player.

How Did We Use the Light of Mine Bundle?

The design of the unit study involves reading a chapter or two a day through the course of the study and doing the work in the workbooks over the course of a month. However, I knew that my eight-year-old son would enjoy it but would need a little extra support. I also felt it would be a fun listen while we were riding on a trip we had planned during the review period.

So, I decided that we would listen to the whole book as a family. Then I could go back and have my eight-year-old reread a chapter at a time and work through the workbook. This strategy will give him extra exposure and still give us a fun family audio.

What Did We Think?

My husband and son thought the book started slowly, but it did not take too long to get everyone hooked! We enjoyed the book’s adventure and appreciated the spiritual lessons included. (They did take a different take on a couple of issues than we do, but we were still pleased with the overall spiritual lessons.) It was a great family read-aloud but be mindful that parts might be scary for young/sensitive children.

The workbook is best for upper elementary students, and the book is probably best for third or fourth grade and above if used as an independent read.

My one complaint is that the book ends with a cliffhanger. While we are excited to continue to read the story, I personally dislike not having closure at the end of a book, even when it is a series. That said, I would still recommend the book, just expect the cliffhanger and a desire to purchase the next book in the series.

“I am enjoying the book. I enjoy listening to the siblings and how they work together to make things happen. Sparkle frog is cool.” Elizabeth Age, 14

My eight-year-old loved it so much that we had to have “oakameal” for breakfast, which was how the youngest sibling in the story said oatmeal.

If this sounds like a book your family would enjoy, you can find out more at Light of Mine Unit Study – Premium, and click on the graphic below to see what other crew families thought!

Unit Study

Tuesday Tips: Incorporating Holidays Without Adding Work

*some links may be affiliate links; see disclosure below*

When we first started homeschooling, my oldest was in first grade. I loved the idea of incorporating fun activities related to different holidays. I could find addition and subtraction sheets with turkeys or Christmas Ornaments, fall science lessons that went through weighing, counting, and floating activities with pumpkins, and even graphing Lucky Charms for Saint Patrick’s Day.

However, as my children got older and I kept adding those activities, it felt like they were becoming a burden during already busy times. I was trying to add them on top of our regular school work, and it was adding one more thing to the to-do list.

How Do I Add the Activities Without Adding Work?

I did not want to feel overwhelmed and did not want the fun activities to be a burden. I thought about just getting rid of them, but they were a lot of fun.

I realized that I needed to do them in place of our other activities and not in addition to those activities. This way, they are not adding anything extra to the list; we are just making the list a little more fun and holiday-themed.

I will share some practical ideas for adding holiday fun in place of other things, but first, I want to clarify that you do not need to do ALL of these things. You do not even have to do any of them. Think about what would work for your family and make your time more enjoyable.

For our family, that changes from year to year and grade to grade. My younger children often do mostly holiday-themed work between Thanksgiving and Christmas and devote a day or two to other holidays throughout the year.

My high schoolers keep going with mostly their regular work, and we swap out just a few activities. This helps them keep some continuity while still getting to join in on some of the holiday fun.

Practical Examples of Adding in the Holidays without Adding More Work

For my younger children, math work is one of the most common ways we add in holidays. I can find holiday-themed sheets either for free by searching online or with our SuperTeachers subscription, and I look for the topics they are already working on in math and then allow those sheets in place of their regular math work. (My teens typically do not do holiday math because, at that level, I find it easier and better to allow them to continue to work through the curriculum.)

Science

Science is another fun way to add in some holiday/seasonal cheer. Again, this one is typically mostly with my elementary and middle grades children. We can find science experiments related to the holidays and seasons, For example, pumpkins in the fall, peppermint-themed activities for winter, cranberries at Thanksgiving, and more. 

When I add these, I choose a lesson or activity from their current science to skip.

Generally, I put away our science books from Thanksgiving to Christmas to help make space for holiday activities. I have found it gives us breathing room, and they are still quite proficient in science.

Reading and Writing

Reading and writing are where it is easiest to get the whole family involved. Some years I have created my teens’ literature studies, and other years, we have used formal curricula, but through it all, I have added in Christmas-themed novels. When I am using other curricula, we simply swap out a Christmas novel for one of the novels in the curricula.

They read and discuss the novel with me, and we might also do some Christmas-themed crafts or cooking to accompany the book. For example, we did Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, and they watched the movie and made a Dicken’s era Christmas feast.

For my younger children, I adapt our reading for the major holidays and lots of little ones. It is so simple to choose read-alouds related to the holidays and seasons we celebrate. We love Cranberry Valentine on Valentine’s Day, Spookley the Pumpkin in the fall, and so many other books on various holidays.

Writing is also easy to integrate with the holidays by choosing writing prompts and activities that tie into the holiday. The teens might do a research paper on the origins of Thanksgiving or write a persuasive essay about a particular holiday tradition. Younger students can write paragraphs about different things associated with the holidays.

Art and Music

Finally, the easiest and possibly most fun way to incorporate the holidays is through your music and art studies. We love to do holiday-related art lessons (as a bonus, they make great gifts for grandparents and other family members). We use our You Are An Artist Clubhouse Membership, which gives us access to many holiday-themed art projects and has a calendar each month with suggested activities. However, there are also a lot of great ideas you can find by searching the internet for different art topics.

A holiday-themed hymn study can also be a great way to incorporate different holidays. You can check out our free hymn studies to get you started.

We also try to find holiday-themed music and art to study in our fine arts morning time rotation, which works well for the whole family. While my younger children do art lessons on many different holidays, we mainly focus on holiday music and art during Christmas, Easter, and patriotic holidays.

Don’t Forget!

There are so many different ideas that it could quickly become overwhelming. I want to emphasize that this list of ideas is not shared because you need to try to do everything but to give you some different examples of ways to incorporate the holidays and seasons without adding additional work and having it become a burden. Start by switching out one or two things and see how that works for your family. Also, remember that it’s okay for each year and season to look different.

I would love for you to share some of your favorite ideas for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library; we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Field Trip Friday: North Carolina Zoo

We hadn’t been to the North Carolina Zoo in several years until earlier this week. We live about four hours from the zoo, so it is generally an overnight trip that takes a little more planning and budget.

This time we went with two other homeschooling families and stayed at a local campground. ( I am really enjoying having the flexibility of the camper.) It was a great trip, both for fun and for education.

I am excited to share more about the zoo with you today, as well as some tips and tricks for getting the most from your visit.

Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links; see below for more information. *

A Little About the North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. It is divided into two major sections: North America and Africa. As a natural habitat zoo, the animals are given larger habitats to roam. This is great for the animals and the experience, but it does mean more walking because they are spread out.

There are hundreds of different animals, from the large giraffes, elephants, and bison to tiny insects and birds. The zoo does a great job of showcasing each animal in its natural habitat, with lots of information about the animal and various conservation projects.

While some of the animals have lots of room to roam and can be further away, they provide a variety of viewing areas for those animals so that most of the time, you can get a good view from at least one of the animals.

Educational Benefits of a Field Trip to the Zoo

I love that the zoo is an educational trip for all ages. My younger children saw animals they had only read about in books. The older children had seen the animals before but learned more about conservation.

Any trip to the zoo can be educational, but we found that we get the most out of the trip by taking the time to visit the educational carts that are set up throughout the zoo. At these mobile carts, zoo educators have different displays and information to share with visitors.

My younger boys also participated in the free zoo trekker program, a little workbook they could complete while walking around the zoo. Once they had done six of the activities, they were awarded a free zoo pin. (This program was very similar to the Junior Ranger program at national parks.)

Finally, make sure to take time to read some of the displays located with each animal. They share so much wonderful information.

Tips for Families and Small Children

We love going to the North Carolina zoo, but it can be a bit overwhelming for small children and families. So, I have a few tips and tricks to make it more manageable. 

First, it can be really hot and really busy during the summer. I highly recommend going during the off-season. There is a lot of walking, so the cooler weather is much more pleasant.

You can see the whole zoo in a day, but it is a lot of walking and would take pushing really hard. So we split it into two days. We can travel there one morning and see one section of the zoo and the other section the next morning.

Wagon for the win!

We also used a collapsible wagon for this trip, which was a huge help. My four-year-old could ride in it when he was tired or if we had long stretches of walking. We could also carry our umbrellas, water bottles, cameras, etc. in the wagon.

Finally, there is an AMAZING natural play area near the entrance to the North America section. It has a small stream, a mud kitchen, bubbles, a tree house, and so much more. It is a great place to give kids (and parents) a break. To let them just play and relax. Honestly, if we lived closer, I would go to the zoo just to let my kids play there.

The stream in the play area

Money Saving Tips and Tricks

Looking at the pricing below, you may wonder about my suggestion to split the zoo into two days. We use a family membership to make that an affordable option. In North Carolina, the zoo, all three aquariums, and the bird park all offer reciprocity with their memberships. (There is also reciprocity at numerous other sites.)

Since we are closer to the aquarium, we purchase an aquarium membership yearly, but if you do not already have a membership, you can purchase one when you arrive at the zoo. For our family of 6, entrance to the zoo for one day would cost us $82. An annual membership would be $84. This means that we save $80 just on the second day of our visit.

Also, at the zoo, you can not bring in outside food unless you are a member. There is a members-only picnic area within the zoo and other great money-saving benefits.

Also, bring your water bottles! While they do not allow other outside food, water bottles are welcome, and there are refill stations throughout the park. Purchasing water from restaurants or machines in the park will cost you over $4 per bottle.

Finally, I highly recommend the $15 refillable bottle if you want a soft drink or tea. You pay $15 when you buy it, but then you get unlimited free refills. Otherwise, a cup of soft drink will run you $7. You also get the benefit of a nice souvenir to take home.

Eating at the restaurants inside the zoo can get very expensive. We had four adult meals and two kids meals with one refillable bottle and one regular soft drink and paid a little over $100 for that one lunch. On the second day, we planned to be there in the morning and leave around 1 pm, so we made lunches and ate them in the van when we were finished.

Fun Extras at the North Carolina Zoo

I have just talked about ways to spend money, and now I am going to share some extras that are available. These are optional activities that are not included in the admission fee.

First, there is a butterfly garden. This costs an additional $3 per person. You get a ticket to enter the butterfly garden and could stay as long as you wanted to stay. We chose to try this one since we are studying flying creatures this year in science. Honestly, it was worth the $18 for all of us. There were hundreds of butterflies flying around. We watched them eat from plants, flit from one plant to another, and they would even land on us.

There is also a ropes course in the zoo. My daughter really wanted to do this, and we originally thought it was also $3, but when we got more information, the ropes course was $15 per person. Not necessarily a bad price for a ropes course, but we decided it was not the right choice for this trip.(You do have to have closed-toed shoes to be admitted to the ropes course.)

There is a playground near the ropes course that was $3 per person, but we also decided to pass on that. Additionally, there is a carousel ride that is $3 per person.

The other extra that we chose to participate in was feeding the giraffes. This was hands down, the favorite activity of the whole trip. My husband chose not to go, but the kids and I all went with our friends. We had to pay $5 per person. For that $5, we were given lettuce and instructions on how to feed the giraffes. Then we could step up to the platform and feed the lettuce to the giraffe piece by piece. Being up close and personal with the giraffes was amazing. You could feel the strong and rough tongue and really get a perspective on their heights.

Basic Information for North Carolina Zoo

Where:

North Carolina Zoo

4401 Zoo Pkwy
Asheboro, NC 27205

Hours of Operation:

Seven days a week, year-round, Open at 9am-4pm or 5pm (varies seasonally)

Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

Costs:

General admission tickets for adults $15 (13-61), seniors $13 (62+) and children $11 (2-12). Children under the age of 2 are free.

Website:

https://www.nczoo.org/

Food:

There are several restaurants as well as snacks available for purchase. Only Members and those with allergies can bring in outside food.

 

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

Free Homeschooling Summit, focused on family relationships!!

Little Women is only .99 on kindle right now! (Amazon prices are subject to change. Always check before purchasing.)

FREE Baby Yoda Art Lesson from Nana!

All About Learning has released the best deal of the day: A FREE Snowman Pack with reading and spelling activities for a variety of ages.

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

 

Resources and Ideas for Apologia Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day

*Some links are affiliate links; see disclosure below.*

Introduction

Last year, I needed my 2nd grader to do at least part of his science independently as I juggled three different students in three different science courses and a toddler. (We normally try to combine science, but it was not practical last year.) He loved doing Apologia’s Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.

So, this year I decided to let him pick another book from the Apologia elementary series and use the same type of setup. Last year, my son chose to do Apologia’s Swimming Creatures of the fifth day because he loves the beach. This year he chose Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day because he enjoys looking at birds and studying insects during our nature study time.

Resources for Apologia’s Flying Creatures

Apologia’s Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day Audiobook

My son loves audiobooks and has great auditory comprehension, so I wanted to stick with a book that he could do via audio. This also allows my four-year-old to listen and learn as he is interested.

So, we purchased the audio version of the text to go along with the hardback version. Then my son can listen on his kindle while he follows along in the text or sometimes he colors or works on a notebooking page.

The audiobook allows him to do science in the car while we travel or listen to the information again if he doesn’t remember something. Often he is listening while I am cooking lunch or folding clothes.

We usually use Apologia’s notebooking journals when we do these courses, but we decided it would be too much with my son’s reading difficulties. So, I found some other resources that we could use to complement the text.

Other Flying Creatures Resources

Chalk Pastel Art Lessons

We always love Nana’s chalk pastel art lessons, and she has some excellent, easy-to-follow lessons that fit perfectly with Flying Creatures.  These are fun for my son and help tie together what he is learning. I have gone in and picked out bird and insect pictures to fit with each chapter. Then I organized it on my Trello board to help me remember which lessons went well with which chapters.

You can purchase individual courses or the You Are An Artist Clubhouse, which is our favorite because we have access to everything and he can pick and choose different projects each week.

Notebooking Pages

My son is just getting comfortable with writing, and I am using notebooking pages to work on his writing while recording what he is learning in science. I have made a collection of one or two notebooking pages per chapter, and he writes a sentence or two after he listens to the chapter. Then he can draw a picture of what he wrote about. (There are a huge variety of different pages to choose from for each topic, depending on the child’s level.)

Nature Study

My son would do nature study every day if time allowed, and he spends hours outside most days. We have set up multiple birdhouses and bird feeders to allow him a good first-hand view of the birds in our area.

We are also using the bird and insect resources that are included in our Homeschool Nature Study membership. Their courses provide information, hands-on ideas, follow-up suggestions, and more. There are also some great printables included to help record what they are seeing and learning.

I love being able to give him such a hands-on approach to his learning.

Field Trips

I am so excited about all of the field trip opportunities that go along with flying creatures. There is a wonderful bird park that is just a few hours from our home. We are planning a field trip there this fall to see a wide variety of birds. You can even feed the flamingos!

In addition, our state zoo and aquariums both have some bird exhibits, and since our family has an aquarium membership, we can get into both of those for free!

Our state science museum has a wonderful butterfly garden and insect exhibits to get a close-up look at different insects.

Finally, we love hiking and nature walks so we will look for birds in various state and local parks as we hike.

Even if you do not have a local bird park, I encourage you to look around at various local science centers, zoos, etc, to see what they have to offer.

Burgess Bird Book

Last year, we used many Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series books to study swimming creatures. She also has a few bird books, so we will use those this year. However, our primary extra text for this year will be the Burgess Bird Book. The Burgess book uses fun and engaging stories to teach children about various birds. I purchased the illustrated kindle edition for less than $1 and also used an audible credit for the audio version. This will allow my son to follow along and see the bird pictures as he listens to the audio.

Library Books

Finally, do not underestimate a trip to the library for some picture books to go along with each chapter. I have been going online about a week before we get to a lesson and searching our library system for books about the topic. Then, I simply put them on hold and pick them up the next time we go to the library.

This week we enjoyed several great books on birds that helped me include my four-year-old in our studies.

Conclusions

The flexibility of homeschooling is so important, and what works one year might not work the next year. For our family, this semi-independent study of Apologia is a great way for my son to be able to do much of his science independently while still giving us time together.

We love Apologia for its biblical worldview, thorough content coverage, and flexibility to use this program in a way that works best for our family! We are excited about our study of birds and other flying creatures.  I would love to hear what other resources you enjoy for this program. Share ideas in the comments!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library; we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Jonathan Park Audio Drama Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

When I saw the opportunity to review the Jonathan Park audio dramas, I jumped on it. Years ago, my oldest two children loved to listen to them every Saturday morning when they came on the radio. We had even purchased some of them on CD so they could listen at other times.

When my younger two children were old enough to remember, they were no longer played on the radio. So the opportunity to get The Adventure Begins, Series 1 as a digital download was perfect. My older children could relieve some childhood memories and introduce my younger children to these fun adventures that promote a young earth creation and Christian worldview.  

What is Jonathan Park The Adventure Begins, Series 1?

 The Adventure Begins, Series 1 is a series of twelve, approximately twenty-five-minute radio drama episodes. The stories follow young Jonathan Park, his paleontologist father, and their family as they have adventures and search for evidence of a young earth creation and the great flood.

How We Used Jonathan Park

Our family loves audio dramas, and with my older children’s previous experience with Jonathan Park, we chose to listen as a family. I downloaded the episodes to my son’s kindle and played them through the speakers in our van while we traveled.

We would listen just for fun but sometimes had great conversations about the exciting information shared in the episodes. They are fictional episodes but share objective scientific evidence and information.

Conclusions

We recommend Jonathan Park for any families that want a fun and exciting way to introduce the evidence of young earth creation. While the stories are ideal for second through eighth graders, they can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Due to the ‘adventure’ nature of the stories, there is some mild peril, so you may want to use caution with very young or sensitive listeners. However, even my four-year-old enjoyed listening.

As a bonus, they are offering this special offer for my readers: Free Shipping, (US only) / Discount code: jpcrew22

Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to find out what other reviewers thought about Jonathan Park.

Children's Audio Stories

14:6 The Way Scripture Memory Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Like most of the reviews you see here, I planned to use 14:6 – The Way by Scripture Memory Fellowship with my children. However, life and God had other plans, and I ended up using it for myself. Around the time that it arrived in the mail, my father ended up in the hospital having major surgery. Suddenly, our ‘lazy’ summer days were spent with me driving back and forth to the hospital to give my mom a break and check in on my dad. 

Scripture Memory Fellowship

I had planned to use this as a part of our morning time routine, which we had added back to our days even though we were still enjoying summer break. However, we put our morning time routine on hold. While I plan to add it to our morning time this year, it worked out really well for me to use it for my Bible time and memorization. 

What is 14:6 The Way?

14:6 – The Way is a scripture memory program that includes three different levels of scripture memory, recitation, and study. The program has seven units, with four lessons each, and you complete one lesson each week. 

During the week, the user works on memorizing one to three Bible verses of increasing length. This allows younger children to participate with just the first shorter verse and older students or adults to learn two or three verses each week. The verses are color coded to help with organization. We chose and received the edition that uses the ESV for verses, but they also offer the KJV. 

Each lesson is one page in the spiral-bound book. The front of the page has the three color-coded memory verses, the thesis statement for the week, and a place to check off how the student did with their recitation at the end of the week. It also has a place to mark how they shared God’s word that week. 

On the back of the page is more information on the meaning of the verses. There is more reading to give context to the memory verses, multiple choice questions about the meaning, fill-in-the-blank questions to accompany the verses, and a discussion question. 

How Did We Use It?

As I mentioned earlier, instead of my children, I used this product. During a stressful time, it was a blessing to have something to help me keep up with my time in God’s word and scripture on which to focus. I could study the scripture and work on memorization while I sat at the hospital and meditate on it during the long car rides each day.

Moving forward, we will work on memorizing the scriptures together as a family. My younger students will learn the first verse each week, and I will encourage my teens to memorize at least two each week. We will spend a few minutes on it each morning during our breakfast Bible time.

This program is very adaptable for different ages, abilities, and schedules.

What Did We Think?

I liked the program’s layout and that it included more extended readings for context. I appreciated that it had discussion questions to ensure our children understand the scriptures they are hiding in their hearts.

From the weeks I have used so far, I have found it to be scripturally based and not focused on specific denominational doctrines, which I appreciated.

Who Would I Recommend It For?

I think this is a good resource for a variety of ages. It is simple enough for elementary-aged children, yet with the leveled verses, families can use it for teens and adults. It is a simple way to get an entire family to start memorizing scripture together.

Find out more about 14:6 – The Way at Scripture Memory Fellowship. Also, click on the graphic below to see what other Crew Members thought.

memorizing scripture