Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cycle 3, week 3: The Boston Tea Party, three kinds of muscles, and more : )

Last week was a little rocky for us as we were dealing with sickness right in the middle of the week.  But we persevered and finished up week 2. Pretty much every week we're not getting to do everything I've planned...but I think that's just how life is, right?! : ) Now on to week 3....and we're excited about the Boston Tea Party!

History: the Boston Tea Party
*One of the reasons we're excited is because our Liberty's Kids dvds start out with the Boston Tea we can't wait to watch that episode this week!  Even if you don't have the dvd set, you can find free episodes of Liberty's Kids on YouTube and there's a link on their website.  I also found a free download on Teachers Pay Teachers for a Liberty Kids viewing guide.  It's free to join TPT and I've found several free downloads and many that are at a minimal price.
*Liberty's Kids also has a website that has games and fun things to do with different episodes.  I know my kiddos will love this!
*I also found a Boston Tea Party coloring sheet.  Most of you may know how to do this, but I figured out that I had to copy the image onto my computer and then look up the image and print.
*Here is a blog post that has LOTS of Boston Tea Party links and ideas
*YouTube also had a lot of "Crash Course" videos about history....I would say these are mostly for older kids and parents may have to screen them first.
*I have several other ideas pinned on my Pinterest board.  I have 3 Classical Conversations boards that I try to pin to regularly.

Science: 3 kinds of muscles
*I found a neat worksheet here on  It's a free printable : ).
*This Kids Health site has some great info on the three muscles!  I'll definitely be using this!

English: past participle
*The video I posted on last week's post does a great job of explaining and comparing past and present participles

Geography: states and capitals
*still printing my state cards on and we love the "Take a Little Trip" video

Math: counting
We usually stick to the songs on our audio cd, but here's a Schoolhouse Rock video on counting by 5's

*We didn't get around to doing our Art for Kids drawing last week...but I'm hoping this week we'll get to draw a ninja like I'd planned : ).

Have a great week!!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 2 of Cycle 3...the Pilgrims, the axial skeleton, present participles and more!

Last week we had a great start back into our school routine, even though we had a lot going on in our personal lives.  Doctor's appointments, a funeral, and other things...but that's the beauty of homeschooling. You can be adaptable and your schedule can flip all around and you can still get things done.  Flexibility is definitely a key part of it.

Even if we don't get everything accomplished that I plan, I do feel like my kids are learning a lot!  So I'm just going to jump right in and post as much as I can find for this week.  I know it helps me to have all of this on one location, and I hope it helps you, too!

History: Pilgrims
Great little School House Rock video:

*Tour of the Mayflower II...a replica of the original Mayflower
*Nice video depicting the signing of the Mayflower Compact

*Go to to check out some interesting things, like how to talk like a Pilgrim or print a coloring sheet
*Virtual field trip of Plimoth Plantation (about a 30 min video)
*There are so many videos and info about this topic!  I think these will give you a good start and if you're interested in more you can search Google, Pinterest, or YouTube.

Science: axial skeleton
*Very detailed description of the axial skeleton with diagram
*Cool site with flashcards of parts of the skeleton. I printed the large cards...can't wait to use them!
*Great ideas on this blog post at Spell Out Loud

Geography: states and capitals
*We'll continue to do our states/capitals flash cards and song that I posted here

English: present participle
Great explanation of present and past participles

Latin: conjunctions
I can't find any printables or videos for this week! : (  If anyone finds anything I would love to know about it.

Fine Arts:
We're supposed to be doing some drawing these first six weeks.  I know there are some good tutorials on YouTube on how to do various drawing techniques, but the kids and I LOVE the site Art for Kids.  I've mentioned it on a previous blog post, but I really can't say enough about how fun and kid friendly it is.  Not only do they feature drawing, but also painting and sculpting.  Highly recommend it!  Here is an example (for all of you Ninja Turtle fans):

On a personal note....
We also include Bible time in our school routine and this year we've started out with using The Big Picture Interactive Storybook Bible.  I really like the way it's set up and how it covers the Bible thoroughly.  Here is a sample page:

It's interactive in that you can download a free app that will scan a picture or a scan code thing (not sure what those things are called) and it will make the page become almost 3-D or show a special video.  We're enjoying it so far!

Hope all of you have a great week!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Discovering the Civil War in Georgia

Right around weeks 11 and 12 of Cycle 3, we'll be studying the Civil War.  I knew that Andersonville, which is the site of a former Civil War prison, was not far from us and would be a great place to do a field trip...and it's free!  As I started researching, I found several other neat things that you could do in Georgia so I thought I'd put them all together in case anyone else was interested. : )

Another thing I found out while researching is that this is the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, so there are some special things going on.  Even if you're not doing Classical Conversations, this would still be a great opportunity for your family to learn more about the Civil War.

*The National Park Service is a good place to start to find some good field trip info.  Andersonville is a national park that is free to the public.  Field trips there have to be arranged at least 3 weeks in advance, but there are programs for K-5th grade, 6-12th grade, and college groups.  The field trips can be self-guided but the arranged ones are led by a ranger.  I also saw links on the park service site for all types of learning tours and field trips at various parks in Georgia, including lesson plans for teachers.

*Another helpful site was The Civil War in Georgia.  There are so many interesting things to do in Georgia related to the Civil War...I had no idea!  One that particularly interests me is a Civil War reenactment.  I really wanted to try to find one so the kids could get an idea of what it was like.  I found one on the events page entitled 150th Anniversary for the Battle of Atlanta.  The link led me to the site "The Atlanta Campaign," which has a really interesting weekend planned that's all about the Civil War and a battle that took place there.  Here is the event schedule for the weekend...and it even includes a lady's tea!  How neat! On Friday, Sept. 19th from 9am to 1 pm there is a student day that allows the kids to come through and talk to the different reenactors (?) at different stations.  The battle starts that evening around 6:30.

*In Macon, GA there are some historical homes that were built before the Civil War and were involved in the action happening during that time.  The Cannonball House offers educational school programs and tours throughout the year.  The Hay House also has tours and educational programs offered throughout the year, including "Hay Day" in which you can do fun activities with your children and admission is free!  When I was in high school I was a volunteer tour guide at the Hay House and can testify that it is a wonderful piece of history that would be worth the trip!  I've only been inside the lobby of the 1842 Inn and it's worth just stopping by to peek in.  If you enjoy staying at B&B's, this inn would be one to consider!

Here is a map of the Civil War battle sites in Georgia.

It's amazing how much history is around us...right here in Georgia!  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Gearing up for Cycle 3 (Classical Conversations)!

I can't believe how fast this summer has gone by!  Now that our first day back to homeschooling is right around the corner (Monday) I wanted to sit down and sort out my thoughts and plans.  I plan on doing what I did last year for Cycle 2...collect as many resources as I can to support the memory work for that week and post it.  I'm really excited about the things we're going to be studying this year.  So let's just dive on in...

Cycle 3, week 1  History: Christopher Columbus

*Another Christopher Columbus video
* A sailing ship you can print, cut out, and even try to make it sail.  You could do 3 of them to represent Columbus' three ships.
coloring sheet of Columbus on "American History for Kids" site (may come in handy in the future!)
*I bought the complete set of Liberty Kids dvds for only $5 on Amazon!  A lot of these videos will fit right in with what we're studying.

Geography: states and capitals
*Love this video and plan to use it while studying states/capitals!

*The Animaniacs version of a states/capitals song
*Click here to go to a great post on the blog Suzanne Shares for cycle 3 geography resources.  They look great...and all free!  There are president cards, state flash cards, and state coloring sheets.  I'm going to print the flash cards for the states we're studying for this week. I've found that if you just type in the name of the state on the crayola website it'll give the flashcard and the coloring sheet options.

Cycle 3 science songs for weeks 1-12

*Another science video


English: Infinitive

Studying the Presidents:
I thought this post by Katherine Marie had some cute ideas on studying the presidents
* The Animaniacs presidents song.  Entertaining...but it does include little facts about different one kicking another's butt and Grant drinking you may or may not want your kids watching! : )
*Neat paint stick timeline idea for some of the presidents
*There are several different presidents songs on YouTube! : )

These are just a few ideas that are out there for getting started with week 1!  I may add more as the week goes on, and would welcome any ideas you've come across in planning/doing Cycle 3.  Blessings on your new school year!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Interview with author Dawn Crandall!

Today I am hosting Dawn Crandall, author of the newly released novel, The Hesitant Heiress, and also new mother to a baby boy named Rhett.  : )  Go check out my recent review of Dawn's book here.  I'm so excited to have Dawn here today to answer a few questions about life, writing, and being a mom.

Are there any similarities between being a first-time mom and debut author?  Your little boy is absolutely precious, by the way!  2014 is certainly shaping up to be an exciting, busy year for you! : )
T​here are! For the most part, you have no idea what you're getting into when you begin the process for either one! They both bring immense joy, but it's a bit terrifying to not know exactly what you're doing. They are both very emotional things to go through. The one very different thing about the two is that one is so privately mine (Rhett), and the other, which has been solely mine for the last four years is now anyone's who wants it. It's kind of strange to have my book-baby go out into the world. Maybe this is what it will feel like when Rhett goes off to college in eighteen years? 

Oh, goodness...I don't even want to think of my babies going off I know that putting your book out there has to be a huge mixture of emotions.  

You've mentioned that you have ADD.  How has that affected you as a writer and what advice would you give to encourage other aspiring writers who have ADD or ADHD?

Actually, having ADD and being a writer isn't that bad... as long as I don't have anything else to do. That used to be the case; I was a stay at home writer with no children for the last four years. I could focus on my writing for an entire day whenever I chose to. It was what I liked to do best, so it wasn't difficult to get into. It was actually the only thing I would think about for about 8-10 hours on the days I wrote. Now I have so many more things to think about (mainly, keeping one very precious baby content!) that thinking about my books, plots and characters gets squeezed out of "front and center" for such long periods of time, I really have to work to get back to where I'd left mt thoughts... The baby is only four months old, and I'm still trying to recondition my brain for this new normal. I'll be able to do it though--I've had to do it twice now anyway. Basically, every time I write a book, I end up teaching myself how to do it a different way than I had before because of life circumstances.

You're doing a great job, Dawn! Keep it up...because we love reading your books!

I know you told me once that you don't cook much, but my traditional interview question is what your favorite recipe is.  If you don't have a favorite recipe, could you tell us what your favorite restaurant is and your favorite dish there? : )

I like a lot of different kinds of food. I'm not very picky... which is probably why I'm not a very talented cook. My favorite restaurant EVER is an Indian Restaurant in town, and I always get Chicken Korma (curry with cashews and raisins). I've never tried to make it myself. I'd probably mess it up.

I've never had Indian food...that sounds delicious!

What are you working on now?
W​ell, I'm still figuring out how this writing while being a stay-at-home-mom works!! I have lots of series 
​and​ book ideas to go with, and I even have an idea for a fourth book that goes along with The Everstone Chronicles--I could actually keep writing about different characters in this series forever. :) I do also have a Contemporary Romance plotted out and started--which I did just to see what it was like. It was fun, and much easier than writing historicals, but I don't think I'll ever permanently switch over. I love history too much. Maybe it'll be published someday under my maiden name. :)
Sounds great! : )

Thanks so much for joining us today!  If you'd like to get connected with Dawn to learn more about her and her books, look her up on:
or her blog

If you'd like to see other stops on Dawn's blog tour, you can find those at

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Hesitant Heiress, click here! 

Dawn has been generously giving away some great prizes and free copies of her new book.  She is also offering a free e-copy of her book today on my blog!  Please leave a comment to be in the drawing.  I know you'll love Amaryllis' story!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Playing by Heart by Anne Mateer

Book Summary:
Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.

After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet. 

However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart--and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she'd expected. (picture and summary from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
When I saw the cover I thought, "Oh...a book about a piano player!"'s hard to say what our heroine really is....a mathematician or a pianist.  She can do both. When the story begins Lula's passion is mathematics.  It has given her opportunities for higher education, a teaching job, and makes her feel smart and solid...nothing like the "Fruity Lu" of her youth.  And since her mother's death, mathematics has allowed Lula to earn the attention of her father and pursue his dream for her of higher education.  Throughout the book, even though Lula has to become a music teacher to support her family, she is able to tutor some girls in math and thoroughly enjoys it. There was a kind of spiritual connection that she made with music, though.  Once she let go of everything others thought of her, she found her long lost joy in playing pieces on the piano.  When it comes down to it, pretty much everything Lula does in this story she becomes good at.  It's hard to discern whether or not piano playing was her truest passion.

A unique characteristic of this novel is that it's told in first person, but the chapters alternate between Lula's perspective and Chet's perspective.  This is usually the kind of thing I really like in a novel, and I did like it for the most part in this one.  The only criticism I have is that at times the switching of perspectives stalled the momentum that was being built up in the story.  Just when I was really getting into what Lula was thinking, it switched to Chet, and vice-versa.  

I would consider this a very clean novel, which I appreciate, but at times I wanted a little more spark between the two characters.  More communication that would lead to them sharing their feelings more was also needed in the story.  It was a slower-paced romance, and it was hindered by some rules that were set with Lula's job, but I would've like to have seen Lula and Chet follow the rules but still stoke the romantic fires a little more. A little more talk AND a little more action ; ).

There was a plot twist in the end that I don't want to spoil, but I'll just say that it surprised me and even made the story stall out for me.  I could understand why the character felt the need to do it, but it didn't carry the momentum for me that an action at the climax of the story would normally have.  It's kind of hard to describe my reaction without spoiling I'll just leave it at that. 

Playing by Heart has the themes of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and honor...all themes that are carried out well throughout the novel.  I liked the way Chet encouraged some young men he spent time with to honor their parents even if it was hard.  Chet is an honorable man himself, not giving in to flirtations from other women and tries to be a good example for his students and basketball players.  Lula gives up her dreams to help her sister, which was very hard for her.  Even I found myself thinking negatively about Lula's family for wanting her to sacrifice everything while they went on with their lives.

I'm going to give this novel:

*** 1/2 stars

Happy reading!

**I was given a free copy of this novel from the publisher (Bethany House)  in order to give an unbiased review**

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reviewer's Bookshelf: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Book Summary: Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future? (from Amazon)

My Thoughts: First of all, the cover really drew my attention.  Love it!  I've read several of Mary Connealy's I wondered how this new series was going to compare to some of my old favorites.  As I read, I found that Connealy included some of my favorite traits in these new characters....and a few new ones that I haven't seen before.  It definitely made for a fun read!

Let's begin with the ladies.  Well, actually...these ladies like to act like they're men.  The Wilde sisters...Kylie, Bailey, and Shannon....were guilted into dressing and acting like boys, and even convinced to join up to fight in the Civil War, by their selfish father.  Their only brother had died on the battlefield and their father pushed the girls to honor him by practically turning into boys themselves.  Their father wanted to use their war experience to help them get land out west and settle there.  But Kylie Wilde doesn't have a masculine bone in her body.  She wants to be pampered (but not in an annoying way) and get past the horrors of fighting in the Civil War.  I really loved Kylie's character.  She wanted to be girly and feminine, but she had a tough side that helped her fend for herself.  There were several times when Kylie had to give up her dreams to meet the needs of others.  Even though she thought she could take care of herself, when she gave up her independence, she experienced love and protection like never before.  I liked that aspect of the story.  Kylie was truly able to see her value as a woman when she came under Aaron's protection.  She tried to explain that to her sisters, but they weren't quite as ready as Kylie was to give up the position they had as being men.  I loved getting to know all of these sisters, but I think beginning the series with Kylie's story was just right.

Aaron Masterson is a great all-around guy.  He's also dealing with the ghosts from his past that came as a result of the Civil War.  He has allowed fear to lead him out west and doesn't want to face ever going back to his beloved home.  Kylie allows Aaron to be himself, and the fact that they both share the experience of fighting in the Civil War builds a connection.  And boy, do they have the sparks!  From the beginning, you see the attraction between the two of them.  I love that Connealy is able to write some fantastic romantic scenes between her characters that'll make your pulse speed up, and yet still keep it clean.  It's definitely one of my favorite aspects of her books!  : )

Tried and True has all the things you want in a great book!  Set in the west, you have the ruggedness of life there, but you also have the sense of community and how everyone had to help one another and pull together, even if they don't necessarily like each other.  We've got tough males and females, but also Kylie's sweet femininity.  Romance, plot twists, suspense, and reconciliation round out book one of Wild at Heart series.  You should definitely check it out!

I give this book:
5 stars!  Loved it!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review**