October 29, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch for October 29th

It's Tuesday and that means a bit of rambling with this weeks Chats on the Farmhouse Porch.
Everyday Ruralty
Do you have any special plans for this week?
No. Just the same old blessed daily routine of life here on the farm with my two boys. Busy homeschool days. Piano Lessons. Normal farm stuff. It's wonderful to have a "normal" week.
What's the most relaxing thing you do?
Ooh, that's tough, but I think it's snuggling with Love-of-My-Life on the couch under a blanket.
Have you ever worn a wig?(play, dress-up, or for real)
Yes. 4th grade Lewis and Clark Play. I was Sacajawea and had a long black braided wig. Considering I was a pale face with white blonde hair, this was a massive change. LOL! And you know I think SOMEWHERE we have a photo of it. I might have to ask my mom if she can find it.
Do you have an office or special place to use your computer?
I use my laptop, so i can take it wherever I want! My favorite place is sitting outside on the porch.
What are your favorite kind of socks?
Fun ones. I loved ones with stripes or cute characters! I also have a thing for striped toe-socks. My mom bought me some for my birthday that I've been dying to wear. I think I will wear them today actually! LOL!
Have a great Tuesday! I might have another post going up later today, so stay tuned!

October 28, 2013

Poppins Book Nook for October~ Seasons!

If you are here for the first time, let me give you a run down on what the Poppins Book Nook is all about. We are a group of Homeschooling Bloggers who work around a book theme each month. On the last Monday of the month we come together to share with you what books we read about that theme...and share any activities, field trips, crafts, ect that we might have done relating to that theme! Because our books are for ages PreK to 12th, visiting each blog in the blog hop lets you get a plethora of ideas for your children regardless of their age!

Last month's theme was all about Back to School, but this month it's all about the a very appropriate theme of Seasons!This is perfect with our changing of the seasons here in Kentucky! Autumn is a beautiful time of year!
We decided to focus on the way the year progresses using the poem “The Year” by Sara Coleridge in our First Language Lessons book for English. We have been copying each month's two line stanza and then adding an illustration to match with it. We've covered January to May so far--which goes over Winter to Spring---perfect for our focus on changing seasons!
Adding foam snow flakes to January...
Coloring Daffodils for March...

Very colorful "daffy's" in Little Britches world!

We will be working on summer this week. Once it is completed, we will be putting it all together as a poetry book.
We enjoyed reading a few books about the autumn season too…

Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! was definitely a favorite this month! The pictures are great and it's a great book to show the changing of season from summer to fall.

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is less of a children's book and more of a science book written like a story. My boys didn't enjoy this one as much since it was written "scientifically" and didn't have whimsical photos, but rather real-life photos. But the story is still excellent to talk about how a tree changes over the year.

Plant a Little Seed is excellent for showing a changing of the seasons by visiting a garden during the growing season. The illustrations are very beautiful and we enjoyed finding the connections to our own garden from this year.

Of these three, my boys had me read the bear one over and over because they liked the rhythm of the words (poetry!) and the illustrations the best.

Here are some more of our family's favorite books about seasons!

Here is a list for my fellow Poppins Book Nook contributors! I hope you will visit them and see what books and activities they have to share with you about this great theme!

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom - 3 Dinosaurs - Monsters Ed - Chestnut Grove Academy - Growing in God's Grace - Royal Little Lambs - Life with Moore Babies - Teach Beside Me - The Usual Mayhem - Mum Central - Fantastic Fun and Learning - Kathys Cluttered Mind - Toddler Approved - Growing Book by Book - Adventures in Mommydom - B-Inspired Mama - Edventures with Kids - Learning & Growing the Piwi way - A Gluten Free Journey - Preschool Powol Packets - To The Moon and Back - Our Craft ~N~ Things - Fresh Farm Adventures - Are We There Yet? - Afterschool for Smarty Pants

And just for visiting us, we'd love it if you would enter in our giveaway for a great book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do YOU have a blog post about a seasonal activity? Do you have a unit study relating to the seasons? Then share it with us! We'd love to see it!


October 27, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal Post for 10/27

To Join--click Here
• In my life this week…
I am looking forward to another “normal” busy week. We don’t have anything going on outside of school which means a normal daily routine! I love normal routine’s, don’t you?!

• In our homeschool this week…
Hmm, I think we are shifting into Colonial America this week. We are continuing studying about space and the stars. I think we will start out state study for Geography. I love that we are also continuing to learn about Patriotic songs…right now we are learning “America”. We are also shifting to adjectives and finishing up our “The Year” illustrated poetry book.

• Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
Do you need to spend some time working on math? Like flashcards or the drill and kill style? I totally recommend www.xtramath.com. It is a free math drill website. You can have multiple accounts for each child and even specify what type of math you want them to work on. So if your child needs extra addition, subtraction, or multiplication practice this is the site for you! My Little Britches eagerly works on it trying to improve his time and “beat the teacher” (one of the games). Because of it, his regular math has improved too.

• Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Well, we have people who we are seeing. We are enjoying having my brother stay with us this weekend. We haven’t been able to enjoy having him around in awhile. He made the boys happy and brought them gifts…this of course makes him the favorite uncle right now. We will be happy to see him again at Thanksgiving again.

• My favorite thing this week was…
I enjoyed seeing the eagerness in Little Britches desiring to play his math games. He also enjoyed doing our read-aloud of Squanto and learning more about Pilgrims and Native Americans. He retains a lot of information from our read-aloud parts of history because of him being an auditory learner.

• My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Absolutely having Uncle David here and playing with their new toys (a remote control race car) and getting to use their stomp rocket.

• Things I’m working on…
Well for the blog, I still have a couple books to read for review and a few to write up. I have my “what we’ve been doing” post to share as well as at least 2 posts regarding what we are doing in our preschool.

• I’m cooking…
Well for a potluck at church yesterday I made a crockpot of meatballs, and my much requested, anticipated, always licked clean Mile High Fudge Brownie pie. It’s always the first dessert to be wiped out…always. LOL!

• I’m grateful for…
Family…and warmth. Our woodstove is making it quite toasty with this very chilly 25ish degrees outside!

• I’m praying for…
My cousin who just had a darling little boy. And another cousin who was relieved to learn her biopsy of the nodules on her thyroid came back okay.

• A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

Have a  beautiful week!

October 26, 2013

Sabbath Silence for October 26th

It's been a few weeks, so I made a couple for you to enjoy!

Image Source

Image Source

Image Source

May you and yours have a most wonderful and blessed Sabbath day...


October 24, 2013

Product Review: The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener

quietest classroom pencil sharpener review
As many of you know, I have issues with pencil sharpeners. Most pencil sharpeners annoy me. Because we can't afford a good electric one right now, we have small collection of various quality handheld ones. And we have "the beast".
pencil sharpener
Yeah. The beast is a blast from my past. I have sharpened many a pencil in my day with one of these classroom dinosaurs. And they WERE beasts because you couldn't here above their roars and they ate about half your pencil in each sharpening!

So I've been on a lookout for a good pencil sharpener. 

One that I can sharpen ALL my pencils with. Nothing annoys me faster--or guarantees a sharpener a one-way trip to the trash--than when I sharpen and sharpen and sharpen and sharpen...and my pencil just breaks and breaks and breaks. 

Do you even KNOW how many pencils I've had to throw away because of leads falling out? 

One of my friends who feels my pain, sent me information about a company that was seeking blog reviewers for THEIR sharpener. They call it:
Hmmm. A crank sharpener that is quiet? The repeated claim of "best sharpener I've ever used"? I admit I was intrigued. I am pleased to say that Classroom Friendly Supplies graciously supplied me with one of my own to review.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this pencil sharpener free from Classroom Friendly Supplies in return of my review.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

My first pro about this sharpener...it comes in several different colors: Groovy Green, Midnight Black, Precious Pink, Firehouse Red and Cool Blue. 

Though my boys would have wanted green, this was going to be MY baby, so I went with Precious Pink!

My sharpener came within the week and I was eager to give it a go. It is definitely compact. I would say it measures about 5" tall. It comes with a clamp that allows you to make it grip a surface for stability. It is large enough that I think you could grip nearly any desk or table. Mine easily gripped my small 1" thick table.
pencil sharpener review
The nice thing about the clamp is that you can put it on either side of the sharpener. This would be handy for those with lefties or if you have a certain spot it has to fit in. The little black foot fits under the surface and there is a nut--I think that's what it's called..LOL--that you use to tighten it up. Even my 7 year old can fix it if it comes loose.

See that little clear area? That is a tray to catch the shavings and it is so easy to change. You just push it out, grab it, dump it and slide it back in place. So much easier than the beasts shavings holder that end up getting shavings EVERYWHERE.

The metal faceplate is really the key to this sharpener. 
pencil sharpener review
It acts like a third hand as it is designed to pull out, grip your pencil and then as the cranking motion begins, it starts pulling the pencil into the sharpening chamber. This allows you to hold onto the sharpener itself and just crank.

I decided the best way to share this sharpener, was for me to make a short video of me actually using it! So here you go!

As I said on the video--I gave this little puppy a complete workout. I think I have sharpened every type of pencil we own! We easily have over 60 sharp pencils now! Here is just a sampling in our new pencil jar!
pencil sharpener review
As you can see the pencils are SHHHHHHAAAAARRRRPPP! And even with that sharp of a point they do not break just right away like some other pencils do after being sharpened.

Even the colored pencils (my personal pet peeve in the sharpening world) sharpened like a dream!
pencil sharpener
I tried a variety of pencil types, from the super cheap (like on the video), to novelty ones with designs, to even my glitter covered pencils.
pencil sharpener

Here is a "before" photo:
pencil sharpener review
and after:
pencil sharpener

Notice that on not one of these pencils do you see the wood portion up around the lead. This is another pet peeve that wood pencil users have too. No worries with this sharpener!

Now--I can say that not every pencil sharpened without breaking...nope. I had TWO. Count them TWO out of my 60+ pencils that I've sharpened that broke inside the sharpener. They were both red teachers correction pencils and both were from the same package. However, I have another package of the same type of pencils that did NOT break--the only difference is that the metal end holding the eraser is silver instead of gold.
So I am guessing it is the pencil itself rather than the sharpener in this circumstance.

But when you calculate that was only 2 pencils out of the 60+...well that is a very small fraction compared to what I was dealing with prior to this sharpener where I was doing good to get even 1 in 10 to sharpen on the first go!

As I said on the video, the only pencils I own that won't work at all, are my Husky Pencils. They are just too thick to enter the sharpening chamber. But they are super easy to do in my handheld one and they are just for my pre-schooler so they don't get used very much anyways.

Now in regards to this being "The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener"--it is definitely NOT a beast like the old metal one. You can still talk and sharpen at the same time. It really ISN'T that loud which you can see for yourself on the video. I couldn't even take a video of me using the beast because you wouldn't have heard anything but the roar it makes as it eats my pencil.

Okay. In all fairness, I do need to mention a few cons that I DO have.

I have found that it wiggles a lot during the sharpening process so we have had it slip from the clamp many times. ESPECIALLY when my 7 year old sharpens. I don't have a problem so much since I know to push down evenly when I sharpen. I could see that if you had a lot of children using it, you might wind up fixing it several times.....OR since it IS so easy to clamp, you might just teach them how to fix it themselves! I did! LOL!

And secondly, if you pull the metal faceplate out so that it stands open...it will snap back against the sharpener as soon as you start cranking when there isn't a pencil in it.
This really is only going to occur if kids maybe play around with it or something. But I tested it for pinching since that would be the greatest accident here...and though it snaps back, it never pinched or hurt at all.

Now some of you might wonder if it's possible for a child to get their finger in the sharpening chamber. Well with the metal faceplate attached to the front it makes it difficult to get to it. There would be a larger likelihood of a finger getting into the grip hole in the faceplate itself. But that still isn't going to do more than maybe give a slight pinch until the grip is released. I really don't have anything else that is a con to add.

So what is our overall opinion on this pencil sharpener?
We love it!

Yes, we HAVE finally found one that meets all our needs and keeps our pencils sharp!
I give this sharpener 5 out of 5 stars...
[Even though it has a few cons, they are more minor concerns.]

If you are interested in getting one of these beautiful sharpeners for your classroom or home, please visit the Classroom Friendly Supplies store! At just $24.99 with FREE SHIPPING it's a great deal! I also love that they sell replacement parts for their sharpeners...another definite pro!
[Feel free to check out their new video about their product]

I also wanted to add that if you go now and buy a PRECIOUS PINK one like mine, the company is donating $1 on your behalf for breast cancer research and awareness!


October 20, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal Post~ October 20th

Link To This Week's Post
  In my life this week…
I have been enjoying just “being” a mom, teacher, wife…just being me.

  In our homeschool this week…
We studied Native Americans this week. Little Britches was tickled to learn that he has both Blackfeet and Cherokee blood. He thinks that is very cool and eagerly found where their tribal nations used to be and then looked up their types of homes. We enjoyed making wigwams and teepees. We also re-introduced multiplication…and I discovered we desperately need to learn skip counting and multiplication rules! LOL! Flashcards, anyone?!

  Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Sadly we didn’t get to go to the pumpkin festival…it poured down rain! But today I am going with the Ladies Club from our church on a tour of a Fibers company—they do everything from processing the raw wool to turning it into a final finished yarn. I am very excited because I love seeing this kind of thing!

  Things I’m working on…
Cleaning out my papercrafting supplies and listing some of them for sale and donating others to other ladies in congregations in the area to host crafing parties to construct cards to send out to those people on the prayer list. I always enjoy putting together boxes for that sort of thing. I have more than enough to share and it makes me happy to know that others can use it.

  I’m cooking…
Mmm. I made Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for my husband’s men’s club meeting yesterday. I’m going to make another batch tomorrow—a double batch so we have extra!

  I’m grateful for…
A woodstove to keep me warm and gorgeous autumn weather!

  I’m praying for…
my mom. Her knee hasn’t been doing well and she has to get it drained and then go into physical therapy.

  Something I am ogling or have my eye on…
Enamel Covered Cast Iron Dutch Oven in Island Spice Red
Mmm. I want one of these SOOOOOO bad. They come in a LOT of different colors, but there is something about this red one that just appeals to me greatly. I think I will ask for one as an anniversary present this year!

  A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…
"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again."  ~Flavia Weedn, Flavia and the Dream Maker

October 15, 2013

Farmhouse Chats for 10/15

Everyday Ruralty
  1. How many animals do you have?
    One Pet (outside cat). And LOTS of cattle. We are a cattle farm of course!
  2. Have you begun Christmas plans, travel, decorations, crafts, menu, etc.?
    No. We don't celebrate Christmas. So that gives me a lot more free time this time of year, huh?!
  3. Do you celebrate Harvest Season or Halloween?
    Harvest Season--definitely Thanksgiving. And I love decorating for fall! I have window clings for my side door (piano lesson door), some door hangers, and my candle holders!
  4. How do you heat your house? 
    Woodstove and then a furnace backup.
  5.  Do you like dishes with white centers or centers with patterns?
    Hmm. I think I prefer the ones with edges of patterns. Then they are still pretty when they are covered with food! 

The Library Adventure October Book Review~ Eric Carle's 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo

The Library Adventure
Good morning! Today is my first post with the awesome and new blog The Library Adventure! This group is devoted to bringing you resources, activities and book reviews to help you enjoy your trips to the library even more! I am tickled to be part of the team dedicated to bringing you reviews on books for the "Littles" (ages 2-5)--that's the age range Baby Britches so we have a LOT of books to choose from in our possession thanks to our OWN regular trips to the library.

Through my reviews, I'm hoping to introduce you to some new and old books which will be a joy and adventure to read to your own little one. Perhaps I will find one you didn't even know existed?!

This month I went with a classic and well loved author/illustrator Eric Carle. What's not to love about his stunning picture books? So head on over and check out my full review on his book 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo! I've even included some links to activities and coordinating extras to this book!

Click here to visit The Library Adventure and read my review!

October 13, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal Post~ October 13th

• In my life this week…
We are set to have even more beautiful autumn weather! I absolutely love living here in NE Kentucky when we get a true autumn season. I grew up out in WA and with all the evergreen trees we didn’t exactly have a lot of changing colors in the landscape. Out here it is 8 to 1 in deciduous trees to evergreens! That makes for quite the gorgeous countryside! It’s almost time for the perfect photos---though the hills are getting quite colorful right now…

• In our homeschool this week…
We are studying Native Americans and the Universe/Space as well as shifting to basic multiplication in math and helping verbs in English! Baby Britches will be finishing up the letter D, the number 4 and the sight words “up” and “down”.

• Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We are hoping to be able to attend the Pumpkin Festival in Circleville, OH on Thursday with some friends. I am eager for the sights and smells and TASTES! I have already written out my lesson plans to accommodate for being gone all day Thursday. Love-Of-My-Life wants me to bring home a nice big pumpkin pie…

• My favorite thing this week was…
Having the amazing weather…I was wearing shorts because it was in the 80’s! It hasn’t been this warm in October in a long time…

• My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Our PE times. We did some ball training, some races and just other random stuff to enjoy being outside!

• Things I’m working on…
Staying on top of my lesson planning. I have next week planned out and I’m gearing up to work on week 6-8 now! I’d LOVE it if I can get lined up all the way to Thanksgiving! Yeah right…hahahahahah.

• I’m cooking…
On Friday I made a great Double Chocolate Snack Cake and some yummy Biscones…I’ll share recipes soon because they are fabulous!!!

• I’m praying for…
Safe travels for my father who is travelling home from Japan. My aunt who is STILL fighting cancer but will be celebrating her 50th birthday this week—something incredible all things considered. Good health to make it through this flu season without getting dragged down. And of course my friends and family dealing with the things daily life throws at them.

• A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

My current favorite song...enjoy!


October 11, 2013

2013-2014 Curriculum for 2nd Grade and Preschool

We are into our 3rd full week of school and are getting in the swing of our subjects. I have finally put together a post to share with you what we've got going this year in our classroom. This year I am teaching Second Grade and Preschool.

Little Britches
Second Grade (age 7)


This year we are going to be adding a morning family Bible study to our school day. I am going to be using two books that I have seen been used by other homeschooling families that I think are a perfect match for us.
God's Names (Children Desiring God)

God's Promises (Children Desiring God)

We will be working our way through both of these books doing 1-2 chapters each week. The illustrations are gorgeous and I love the subjects each book covers! This will be done at our kitchen table immediately following breakfast. I will show you how it's going and give you a 1 week plan that I'm using to do these books later so you can see how the books are working for us.

We also have Bible lessons that are part of our CORE curriculum that we do as well.

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind~Second Grade
Sequential Spelling Level 1

Pentime 2 and 3

I wasn't originally sure what I was going to use for our English. It's the first time I have had to add in material to our curriculum as the past two years we had full boxed sets. But while I was at the homeschool convention in Cinncinnati this past Spring, I examined products from many companies...but nothing was quire right. Then I came upon a booth with FLL and I went--wait a minute! I have that!

Needless to say, finding out you already own something that will work is a great feeling!

We decided to add in Sequential Spelling (recommend by several friends) as well as Pentime for our Handwriting. I plan on writing another post soon on each subject with samples and updates on how it is going for us.

Singapore Math 1B and 2A

We had to come up with our own math this year. I was drawn to the Singapore Math program, so I was eager to actually use it. We have a great daily lesson plan for teaching it from My Father's World. I opted to start in the 1B to fill in any gaps and after using it for a couple week's I'm VERY glad I did.

My Father's World: Adventures in US History (2nd Grade)

This is where our core is this year. These three subjects (plus Bible) are my boxed curriculum for the year. History this year is a US History focus which is great since we have been on a world history focus thus far. Science is taught from the USBORNE books in the package and will be focused on Birds as well as Science with Air and Science in the Kitchen. I love that this year Science is put right in the weekly schedule twice a week. Little Britches LOVES doing Science and was happy to flip through the books to see what we were doing this year. Geography is going hand in hand with History of the US, but there is a focus on the states and learning about them and their capitals this year.

There are also some great Read Aloud's this year that are part of this package. They are "extras" which will help drive home the history of the era we will be studying. Here is a list of what books will be read this year:
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims; The Courage of Sarah Noble; On the Banks of Plum Creek; Sarah Whitcher's Story, In Grandma's Attic, Mountain Born, and Farmer Boy.


Patriotic Songs of the USA
Classical Composers
Art History

Art this year is going to continue similarly to how we've done it thus far. We do some simple projects here at home and then Little Britches goes over to be with my mother-in-law once a week and does something more detailed. If you don't remember from previous posts, she is an art major so she loves being his art teacher. In the second half of the year I am going to have her start introducing him to master artists. I am considering a few possibilities for that...but I think I will let her create her own lesson plans for it which she will love.

Music this year is beginning as a study in patriotic songs...we received a great Patriotic CD as part of our Curriculum for the US History. So we will be learning these songs over the course of the year.

I am also going to be adding some Music History focusing on a few major composers. I am not 100% sure how I'm going to do this...as a piano teacher myself, I have access to a lot of information and I might just create some printables on my own for this. (and yes I will share them with you if I do!)

Erica of Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great composer study...but I don't own any of the books she uses as "textbooks" for her program.

For PE this year we have some goals and things to work on for skills...and we will be doing it here on the farm or over at the basektball and tennis courts down the road.


Baby Britches
Pre-School (age 3)

Our "Core" so to speak for Baby Britches is the Zoomin' Moving Alphabet by Royal Baloo

Each one of the letters stands for a vehicle of some kind and this is right up my Baby Britches alley. Baby Britches is three years old and already has complete letter recognition for both the capital and lower-case letters and can say their name. He also can repeat the names of numbers, words, whatever when you ask now. It is amazing how far he's come since May when he was diagnosed with the Expressive Speech Delay.

These packets from Royal Baloo work not only on ABC's but number identification, color identification, sight words, cutting practice, letter formation, graphing and more! They are fabulous! At this time we are doing one letter packet a week and I don't do everything...I just pick the printables I want him to work on and print those off. I do a lot of laminating in this packet too.

I will also be using bits and pieces from the ABC/123 printable page from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

I have the Blue Manor PreSchool Curriculum to draw from.
homeschool curriculum

And naturally he'll be listening in to our Bible time and any other Read Aloud portion of the 2nd grade program. I have Sensory Bins/Trays for him to work on as well as other manipulatives--especially puzzles and sorting. He LOVES puzzles and sorting.

He will also join us for PE outside and hopefully work on his jumping, throwing, catching...normal skills for this age to have!
There you have it! I will be sharing with you some of our weeks so you can see we are fitting it together. I also am trying something new this year--organization and lesson planning! I know, novel idea huh? (snicker) but for me, I HAD to find something that works, and thus far the system I'm using is working like a charm. So I want to share it with you in case you TOO need something...I will be writing that post up for next week, so make sure you check in for it!

Do you follow me on Facebook yet? That's a great way to stay up to date on new postings as well as where I share a lot of my affiliate companies sales!