Sunday, November 17

2019 Blue Ribbon Homeschool Awards!

At the end of each year, the Homeschool Review Crew polls its reviewers to find out which products were the favorite.  Without further ado, here are the 2019 Blue Ribbon Award Winners!  *drum roll please*
We've been very blessed to be a part of this homeschool review team for a few years now!  If you are interested in finding out more about the Homeschool Review Crew, or joining the team, please visit them here.

Tying Events Together with History at a Glance

Names, dates, facts...these are some of the things that I hear students complain about when they talk about disliking history.  It's too confusing...they can't put it into context.  A visual display, however, can help tie everything together in an easier-to-digest format!

National Geographic History at a Glance: Illustrated Time Lines From Prehistory to the Present Day does this very thing. This beautiful, oversized book puts history in a timeline, with gorgeous photography from National Geographic!

Beautifully illustrated, this penetrating book offers a sweeping view of humanity from prehistory to the modern day, presented in a unique time-line format.

Sweeping but succinct, this comprehensive reference presents all of world history in a browsable format featuring more than three dozen maps, along with hundreds of photographs and illustrations. From the dawn of humankind to today's global complexities, this book provides a compelling reminder that history is unfolding all around us. The epic story of humanity on all seven continents is explored through a unique design that combines concise essays with expansive time lines that invite deeper reading on milestone moments, explained within the broader context of the era. The final chapter highlights such recent events as SpaceX's heavy rocket launch, the restoration of U.S./Cuba relations, and the historical trends that were the precursors to the state of our world today. Informative and richly illustrated, this authoritative take on world history will be a compelling reference you'll turn to again and again.

Within the book are several timelines that create one huge one!  Each time period is broken down into columns by subject, such as world leaders, famous people, science & innovation, and culture.  It is also broken down into columns, featuring the continents / world regions.  This is nice for comparing what's happening on a global scale at any given time.
Spanning from the ancients to modern day, the book is divided into large eras and then broken down into smaller periods.  The chronological table of contents makes it very easy to find what you are seeking, including both the timeline, reflective essays, and photos.
The book includes several essays - each about a specific aspect of culture from that era - throughout the various time periods.  This one on the Great Recession comes from 1990 and beyond.  It is also a very up-to-date book, featuring the last presidential campaign.
We use The Good &  the Beautiful history curriculum for both middle and high school, and love to document our crafts, activities, and extra research goodies in separate posts organized by era.  Check out Ancient Egypt & the Renaissance!

Some of our other favorite Charlotte Mason style history supplements include:

Get the book!

We received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  See what others are saying about History At a Glance at TLC Book Tours!

#historyataglance, and tag @tlcbooktours.

Friday, November 15

Safely Saving those Thanksgiving Leftovers

Whew!!! You put in the effort and did a slew of holiday baking for the family…now you have enough leftovers to feed an army! But they don’t have to go to waste… Read on for a guide of what to freeze, and how to freeze it...

Uncooked stuffing

  • Freeze for: Three months. Shape into one-inch balls, then open-freeze on a tray lined with baking parchment. When frozen, transfer to a ziploc bag.
  • Bake from frozen, adding 10 mins to the cooking time. Ensure they are hot through to the center before serving.
Homemade sauces (including cranberry)
  • Freeze for: Three months. Once cooled, transfer to ziploc bags, seal firmly and freeze in a flat layer on a baking tray. Once frozen, remove the tray and put the sauces back into the freezer.
  • Defrost by placing the bag in a bowl of lukewarm water until defrosted, then reheat until piping hot.
Fresh herbs
  • Freeze for: Two months. Finely chop soft herbs and place in ice cube trays, top up with water and freeze. Woody herbs can be frozen whole in ziploc bags. Tie rosemary, bay leaves and parsley stems together.
  • Don't defrost. Use from frozen.
Egg whites
  • Freeze for: Six months. Place in ziploc bags and freeze in a flat layer (see homemade sauces, above). Label with the quantity of egg whites.
  • Defrost at room temperature
Milk (skimmed and low-fat only)
  • Freeze for: Three months. Freeze in the container, but pour off roughly an inch of milk first as it will expand in the freezer.
  • Defrost overnight in the fridge. 
  • Freeze for: One month. Place in a large bag or wrap well in cling film.
  • Defrost at room temperature.
Raw processed meats (including sausages and bacon)
  • Freeze for: Three months. Freeze in the packaging or transfer to ziploc bags. Freeze bacon in 3-4 rasher packs – perfect for bacon sandwiches.
  • Defrost overnight in the fridge.
Cooked vegetables and soups
  • Freeze for: Three months. Freeze in plastic containers or bags; ensure any chunks of meat are well covered by liquid.
  • Defrost overnight in the fridge or place container in lukewarm water until defrosted. Heat until piping hot.
  • Freeze for: Four months. Once cooked and cooled, freeze mash in tubs, gratins in freeze-proof baking dishes and open-freeze roast potatoes on a tray until frozen solid, then tip into food bags.
  • To defrost, cook roast potatoes from frozen, but defrost mash and gratins overnight in the fridge.
A few more tips...
  • It’s important to label frozen foods with the contents and date they were frozen. Sticky labels often come unstuck in the freezer, so pop labels inside the food bag.
  • Never re-freeze frozen food (unless it’s been cooked into another dish) – this can encourage bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.

Thursday, November 14

Roadschool Trip to Oklahoma City

The closest city to our little homestead, Oklahoma City offers some great opportunities in the fields of science and history!  We spent a week exploring the city, learning about the land rush, fossils and skeletons, Native American history, cowboys, and a lot more!  Come join the fun!

Museum of Osteology
Bones are a fascinating topic in this house!  Whenever we find a dead animal on the property, the first thing that the kids want to do is dissect it and check out it's bones (which occasionally gets to happen, depending on safety).  

When we go for nature walks and stumble across a bone, it comes home with us until we can identify it.  Once, my son actually found a fossil, which a museum told him was either a tooth or a claw!!

The Osteology Museum in Oklahoma City is the largest collection of bone-related exhibits in America.  It's unique exhibits are a great tool for teaching anatomy, biological history, adaptation, or classification.
I love this caption!

Dinosaurs & Fossils
Harn Homestead
As we approached the anniversary of the Oklahoma Land Run (April 22, 1889), we spent a few weeks at home learning about Oklahoma state history.

We culminated our studies with a co-op trip to the Harn Homestead in Oklahoma City.  Here, the kids learned about life in the 19th century and homesteading, and they re-enacted the Land Run.  I was surprised at the strategizing! 
One worked with a friend to capture side-by-side plots covered in trees and a river.  The other took a nearby plot with a tree.  When asked about the choice, I received this reply : "Well, I have trees to build a house and barn, and my brother has water.  I'm sure he'll share with me."  Once they were settled, it was time to start tackling everyday chores and schoolwork.
Oklahoma Land Run Activities

Sam Noble Science Museum
At the Sam Noble Museum of Natural Science in Norman, there are extensive exhibits on dinosaurs, Native Americans, early Oklahoman history & ecology, and early world history (my son's favorite is the Permian Period, for some reason).  

There are usually a couple of travelling exhibits as well.  While there, stop by the Discovery Room, a completely hands-on area for kids to further explore the concepts from the exhibits.

The new Curio-City section of the museum is awesome!  I can't even begin to put into words the collection of exhibits they have in this huge Walmart-sized center of the building.  If you go for no other reason than to visit this area, your trip will have been worth the while.  The gist of it is that it's set up like a city, and each building is a new exhibit.  We're playing around at the radio and television stations in these photos...
Since there weren't a lot of people in the Tinkering Studio, the guys that worked there let them come behind the scenes and learn how to use the laser printer.  They got to design these cute bats on the computer program, and then watched them being laser cut by the machine.  Then, they got to take them home!  Of course, on the way home I had to explain why we couldn't get our own laser printer...
The little one doesn't care so much for things that go boom, so while the big one attended a Live Science show (they're free), we explored the art section and took a flight in the space capsule.  I'd like to add that this photo was snapped about a second before he freaked out.....if you have a child with sensory issues, please be aware when putting him / her inside the capsule!
Finally, what trip to the science museum would be complete without a spin on the little scooter thingy and a visit to the dinosaur section??  If you live in Oklahoma, make sure to schedule a field trip here this year!

Finally - what Oklahoma unit study would be complete without a little info on cowboys?!  Check out more with our We Were There on the Chisholm Trail novel study.

Cowboys Resources

Hands-On Activities

Wednesday, November 13

God's Mail {Review}

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt alone?  Discouraged? Perhaps having a broken heart for a loved one?  God's Mail is a unique book of poetry and scripture.  We recently had the opportunity to gift a loved one with God's Mail Volume 3, from the God's Mail line by Ron Hardin, and these are her thoughts...

With each poem the writer brings forth questions and thoughts we ask our selves and about others. When the reader is yearning for a relationship with the Lord, and is at a loss of how, the poetry reaches out and connects with the reader.  For example, in "Forgive Me," the writer talks about how during our weakness we can cry out to Him, and He will answer.

As you read each poem, the  writer incorporates corresponding Scripture. What I also found interesting is how the author used many different Bible versions.  When we apply the Word to our lives, we grow so much in Christ; and to see how Scripture is applied to daily life makes saving it in our  hearts that much easier.

The poems have names such as "I'm Only Human"; "No Life"; and "New Found Glory".  Each poem delves into every aspect of ours.

With each poem, the writer brings forth questions and thoughts we ask our selves and others. How can I forgive?  Will He forgive me?  Why do bad things seem to happen to me?  Why is there so much bad in the world?  And with each question we find a scripture, a word to help understand God's plan.

What I found in this book is words that flow from the page to the heart.  It gives you comfort and strength.  As the reader turns the  pages, he can feel the Love of the Lord.  That out Lord is loving, all knowing, and most of all, all forgiving.  You will be greatly encouraged, as you feel God's love and His word come into your heart, turning you into the light that is required of us.

This book was beautifully written, you can feel the annointing in the poems, and that yes, God does love you and He is with you at all times.

So what are the pros and cons?

        Poems that are about life - very easy to relate. 
        The sections are written in a way that is easy to follow and understand.
        The use of the different versions of the Bible make easier study.
        Ease of applying the Word and the Poems.
        Would make a great gift for the new Christian, for the lost, and for people just needing a life pick me up.
        The size of the book is very large.  It resembles a textbook.
        Though the sketches on every page are quite lovely, they do make reading the print rather difficult.
        There were too many endorsements at the beginning.  They would probably do better in the back, as not to distract the reader.
        I think if it was printed in a smaller hardback, it would really increase its appeal as a gift.
        I would like to see more KJV scripture.

See what others are saying about God's Mail at the Homeschool Review Crew!
Crew DisclaimerGod's Mail: Volume 3 {God's Mail Reviews}

Tuesday, November 12

GIVEAWAY! Christmas in England & The Other Side of the Wall

Come December, we love to dive off into a holiday-based unit study!  Putting our regular studies aside, we tackle a topic from the holiday perspective, incorporating reading, math, history, home ec, and crafts.  In The Other Side of the Wall, we are transported into the magic of London at Christmas....where the imaginary seems real and wishes might come true!

Download Home for the Holidays for three complete units + lots of holiday homeschooling extras!

What to Read
  • The Other Side of the Wall – 
    • It's Christmas break and Tess and Max are in London, staying at the posh Sanborn House with their Aunt Evie. As they wait for their parents to arrive, there is an unusual snowstorm that makes the city seem as if it's caught in a snow globe. Perfect weather for an adventure in Hyde Park. But when Max, Tess, and Aunt Evie leave to search for a cab, they find a horse and carriage and driver curiously waiting for them at the curb. And that's just the beginning...  Soon Tess is charmed by a mysterious boy named Colin who lives at the hotel all year round--on the 8th floor. But Max is sure the elevator only had 7 floors the day before. And how come everyone at the hotel seems to ignore Colin? Things seem to get stranger and stranger. There's a 1920s costume party in Colin's parents' apartment. A marble that seems to be more than it appears. And a shadow that passes mysteriously by Tess and Max's hotel window.  Tess wants to figure out what's going on, but finds only more questions: Is it just a coincidence that Colin's last name is Sanborn, the same as the hotel? Why does the cat's-eye marble look eerily similar to the crystal at the top of their hotel room key? And, most importantly, what happened in that hotel one Christmas long, long ago?  
  • Christmas in England - Come explore the sights and sounds of the many English traditions that bring people of this country together at Christmas.
  • The Christmas Eve Ghost - In 1930s Liverpool, where streetcars clang on iron tracks, young Bronwen and Dylan live with their widowed Mam.  This is a story of community and kindness.
  • Letters from Father Christmas (J.R.R. Tolkien) - A charming collection of the letters Mr. Tolkien wrote to his children each year for Christmas as they were growing up. Each story is told from the perspective of Father Christmas himself!

Music Appreciation

Classic Literature (Comprehension)
Traditions (History)
Although we generally think of Britain as being one country (England), it can also describe the United Kingdom. The UK includes the nations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Several smaller islands are also included.  The first recorded use of the word “Christmas” was in 1038 when a book from Saxon England used the words “Cristes Maesse” in it.

Many of the traditions practiced today come from Britain's ancient past. Under the Romans, December had a festival called Saturnalia.   King Alfred was the first king to enforce the observance of the twelve days of 'Christ's Mass' according to church law.  This time of year was known as 'Nativity', 'Mid-winter,' or Mid-Winter Mass' up until 1043.

Medieval traditions in Britain may seem odd to us today, but they’re actually the basis of many of our traditions today. Several of our Christmas carols came from this era, as did the tradition of caroling.  "Carol" meant to sing and dance in a circle, and that is what people were doing in church services, so they were banned to the streets.  We still carol in the streets from house to house today!

Two of the oldest surviving carols are The Holly and the Ivy and I Saw Three Ships. Another tradition is Boxing Day on December 26th. This is a bank holiday in the UK nowadays. It originates from the tradition of churches breaking open their alms boxes to distribute to the poor.  The money was put into hollow clay pots with a slit in the top.  They had to be broken to get the money out, and were nicknamed 'piggies.'  This is where we get the piggy bank!

Decorations & Gifts (Math)

Complete these math problems after watching the video above:
  • If postage is 54 cents per letter, how much will it cost to mail 16 letters to Santa from the United States?  How much will it cost in England?
  • Mum is making stockings for each child.  Each stocking requires 3/4 yards of material.  How much material will she need to make five stockings?
  • How many prizes and jokes will you need to fill 237 crackers for your school class?
Christmas Recipes (Home Ec)
Christmas dinner is very important. It is usually served at around 1 O’clock in the afternoon but varies from family to family. Some people like to have it over and done with in time for the Queen's speech at 3pm.

Find more recipes in Christmas with DickensFrom Mrs Cratchit’s plum pudding to Mr Pickwick’s "mighty bowl of wassail," Charles Dickens's novels and other writings are alive with examples of good food being enjoyed in good company. In this selection of Victorian classics, updated for modern cooks, you will find old favorites for Christmas dinner such as roast fowl with tarragon, plus recipes for entertaining, such as lobster patties and a Charlotte Russe. There’s even a recipe for a hand-raised pork pie to keep in the pantry for unexpected visitors (or escaped convicts.)

Mince Pie
You'll need:

  • 1 1/2 c chopped pecan
  • 1 peeled & chopped apple
  • 1/2 c chopped figs
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts
  1. In a bowl, stir together mincemeat, pecans, apple, figs, brown sugar, and lemon peel.  Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  2. Let pie filling stand at room temperature 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425°F.  Make pie crusts as directed on box.  Stir filling well; pour into crust-lined plate.  Top with second crust, and cut slits in several places on top to vent.
  3. Bake on lowest oven rack 40 to 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.  Cool completely on cooling rack.
You'll need:
  • 2 apples
  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Add all of the ingredients, including the apples, to a large pot over medium low heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the apples.  Serve & enjoy!
Christingles & Crackers (Arts & Crafts)
A Christingle is a symbolic object used in the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany services of many Christian denominations. Christingle, a word of German origin, means 'Christ Child' and is used to celebrate Jesus Christ as the "Light of the World."  Today they are used in the Anglican Church of England for Christmas services.

You’ll need:
  • A large orange
  • red tape or ribbon
  • 4 cocktail sticks
  • 3” square of tinfoil
  • a wax household candle
  • small soft sweets/raisins/cherries etc
  1. Fasten a piece of red sticky tape or ribbon around the middle of the orange.
  2. Cut a small cross in the top of the orange, and lay the square of silver foil (3" square) over it. (The foil is to catch the hot wax.)
  3. Place a wax candle on top of the foil, and wedge it firmly into the orange.
  4. Put raisins, cherries or soft sweets onto the ends of the four cocktail sticks making sure the points are covered. Insert them around the base of the candle so that there is one in each quarter.
  5. Store upright in a cool place until they are needed.
Christmas crackers are festive table decorations that make a snapping sound when pulled opened, and often contain a small gift and a joke. They are part of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Week One
November 6 – Eltpeace – Creative Instagram Picture
November 7 – A Fictional Bookworm – Favorite Christmas Middle Grade Reads
November 8 – Laura Bookish Corner – Dream Cast

Week Two
November 11 – The Reading Corner For All – Baking + Creative Instagram Picture
November 12 – Homeschool On the Range – Christmas in England Unit Study
November 13 – Wishful Endings – Tess and Max’s Favorite Top Ten Things about London at Christmastime
November 14 – Homeschool by the Beach – Inspired by the Book
November 15 – Trissinalovesbooks – Creative Instagram Picture + Pin Fit

We've teamed up with The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island to bring you another great giveaway hop! 

 One lucky reader will win a Bricks Through the Holidays bundle!  (ends 11/26)
 Open to US residents only; ends Good luck!