Thursday, July 18

The BEST Zucchini Bread

Historically, the kids haven't been a fan of green things, with the exception of green beans (every family has their one "thanks heavens!" veggie...right?).  

But this recipe, thanks to its chocolate-y goodness, is a hit!!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated, packed zucchini, not wrung out
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray two loaf pans (to prevent sticking).
  2. Mix wet ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients (except flour) separately.  Whisk all together.  Stir in flour until flour disappears.
  3. Bake 55-70 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, July 17

Why You NEED to Use Schoolhouse Teachers is the homeschooler's online educational resource site.  It’s your one-stop helper-shop, with aids such as: printables, daily lessons, lapbooks, free e-books, and conference recordings on various homeschool topics prepared by recognized homeschool leaders.  You have access to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly lesson plans by some of the best from within the homeschooling community.

The site includes both online and downloadable components – courses such as Lapbooking, Figures in History, and Literature are downloadable and printable in nature, whereas Family Fitness, Guitar, and Friendly Chemistry are best completed online.
Check out their Freebies section!
If that weren’t enough, there are some seriously cool bonuses to having a Yearly Membership
  • They provide you with multiple printable planners, a free membership to World Book Library (e-books), Right Start Media access (streamable movies, such as Drive Through History), and access to the Applecore recordkeeping system.
  • There are sections on homemaking, homeschool living, monthly menu plans, and discounts for a multitude of vendors–there’s even a section just for craft ideas for the kids!  
  • You get a print copy of The Old Schoolhouse magazine, and all back issues are online as well, so that you can access the information as it becomes relevant to your school.  
  • Entire pages are dedicated to parenting special needs, preschoolers, high schoolers, and focused learning centers (new ideas for teaching struggling learners).  
  • The Monthly Menu page offers up an entire month of seasonally-appropriate recipes for each month of the year.  
  • There are printable lesson plans for courses that help you keep track of lesson completion.  They also offer a handy checklist that shows which courses are appropriate for each grade level.
  • Schoolhouse Expo seminars, classes specifically for adults, family movie access (streaming), and extra member discounts make this great for parents, too!
  • Their planner is even included in the Five Best Planners for High School Teens.
  • There are over 300 courses taught by outstanding teachers. Courses vary in length from a few weeks to a full year or more, and there is something for every member of the family.
  • One membership covers every class on the site for your entire family, from preschool to high school, and beyond.
  • Classes are not live, so you can start ANY time!
  • Options are available for co-op or group use.
  • There are no per-class or per-child fees and you can cancel anytime.
For one flat rate, you have everything needed for the school year -- all grades, all classes -- at your fingertips.  You choose whether to use printable or streaming classes.  The only thing required is reliable internet!
 $5 Trial

Tuesday, July 16

Prep the Year with Quick & Easy Homeschool Printing!

Family Nest Printing Company charges considerably less than any other place we’ve used in the past; as much as 87% less than your local printing shop costs!  They offer both printing and 'extra' services, including lamination and cardstock printing.  This is a small business, owned and run by a homeschool family, that understands the specific needs of homeschoolers.

Read on for a fantastic discount!

Our Experience
Our family's favorite curriculum requires a lot of printing and prepping, so I usually have large print orders.  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the company launched earlier this month, and was very excited to get in on the ground floor and try it out!    

The prices are very nice, and they don't detract from quality.  We were impressed with print quality -- the color prints were beautiful! -- as well as turnaround time.  They arrived in good condition and quickly.  

Uploading the files to order was straightforward, and there's even an FAQ section for folks like myself (who have trouble with paper weight and / or orientation).  The only thing I'd like to see tweaked a bit is the number of files to upload.  Currently, you only have the option to upload five files in an order.  (This worked out fine for us as I have the ability to combine small files into one larger file with Nuance, but you should know that you can only submit five files at a time.)

Printing Costs
Here’s what they charge for printing on 20-lb., 92-brightness, 8.5″ x 11″ letter-size white copy paper (standard):
  • 1-sided color copies = 7 cents
  • 2-sided color copies = 10 cents
  • 1-sided B&W copies = 3 cents
  • 2-sided B&W copies = 4 cents
Available for an additional charge:
  • 20-lb., 3-hole drilled paper = included
  • 24-lb., 98-brightness paper = Add 2 cents/sheet
  • 28-lb., 100-brightness paper = Add 3 cents/sheet
  • 110-lb.,cardstock paper = Add 7 cent/sheet
Extra Options
  • Lamination - 50 cents / sheet
  • Coil Binding - $5 for up to 300 pages (includes front & back covers)
  • 3-Hole punch - 1 cent/sheet
Shipping is additional, of course.  It comes via USPS, with a tracking number.  Our order arrived two days after it shipped.
  • Over $60 in printing - FREE shipping!
  • Under $60 order - $6 flat-rate shipping
The files arrived individually wrapped in plastic bags, with bubble wrap on the top and bottom to prevent getting wrinkled or bent.  Everything was in pristine condition, and the print quality was exceptional.

How does this compare?
Compared to Staples, Office Depot, or any similar copy shop, these folks are amazing!  When compared to other homeschool print companies, the pricing is similar -- Family Nest Printing is slightly cheaper on their color printing.  Also, these guys are the only ones I know of who offer lamination services or cardstock printing.  Finally, the shipping is a fantastic deal!  I don't know any homeschool mom who is going to submit an order for under $ your shipping is most likely going to be free.

Give it a Go!
  • Go to Family Nest Printing
  • Upload each file individually into the portal.  (You'll need to know how many pages the file includes.)  If a file is too large (happens rarely), try compressing the file.  If that doesn't work, reach out to the company directly.
  • For each file that you upload, you'll choose whether you want the file printed single- or double-sided, B&W or color, and if you want any paper upgrades (three-hole punch, binding, etc).
  • After uploading the files, it will give you the printing cost.  At this point, you're free to forget the order or go ahead and finish up with payment.  They accept credit cards or Paypal.
  • Their print queue (posted turnaround time) seems to be fairly spot-on, so you'll get your package within that time frame.  A shipment email with tracking information will be sent.
  • If you have any questions, reach out to them through their contact page.  They respond fairly promptly.
New customers can sign up for the newsletter to get a 10% discount!  BUT our readers have been offered a 15% discount.  Use code homeschoolrange15  --  this expires August 16, 2019.

Monday, July 15

Nick & Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular

Special Effects Spectacular - In Nick and Tesla’s Special Effects Spectacular, 11-year-old siblings Nick and Tesla Holt find themselves on the set of a big-budget superhero movie. But someone’s sabotaging the onscreen debut of their favorite comic book hero, so the brother and sister sleuths must crack the case with the help of a fresh assortment of homemade special-effects gadgets. This cinematic saga features instructions for all-new movie magic projects that kids can build themselves, such as camera gear, stunt dummies, make-up magic, and more. Science and electronics have never been so much fun! 


  • dismissively
  • shambled
  • hypothesize
  • winced
  • ensued
  • gesturing
  • resumed
  • fluttering
  • distinctive
  • sarcastically
  • wily
  • mutely
  • commotion
  • spectacle
  • intrigued
  • deserted
  • mode
  • conceded
  • rue
  • infallible
Document - Use your Free Lab Notebook for these!
  • How are Nick and Silas similar?  How are they different?
  • What is the purpose of 'slang?'  Find five examples of slang from the book.
  • A novel has some basic parts: introduce problem, rising suspense, climax, answer problem.  Which points in the book are the highlights of each of these four parts?
  • How has computer-generated imagery changed the movie-making business?
  • Choose one career in the behind-the-scenes sector of the motion picture industry.  Research what that person does, the training needed, and why they are important to the film.

Wednesday, July 10

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky + African-American Folklore

**Shout out to our 15 year old for writing the Modern Mythology posts**

When the African slaves where brought to America, starting in Jamestown's latter years, they were forbidden to be educated.  This did not prevent them from bringing their own culture and languages, and keeping their heritage alive. They kept the stories going through storytellers and oral communication. As time passed, the stories changed and grew. New stories were written, while some were unfortunately lost. These stories served as a way to connect the slaves and free blacks to their heritage, and sometimes as a way to keep records of events. Today, many of the stories are still passed down as African-American Folklore.

  • The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus 
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
    • Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he's going to spend on his grandparents' farm in Alabama, where he's being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie's notebook. Tristan chases after it--is that a doll?--and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature's hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?
Make / Do
  • Make a Bottle Tree
  • Write your own folk story about Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit, and Brer Fox.
  • John Henry
  • Anansi
  • Brer Rabbit
  • Brer Fox
  • Brer Bear
  • Tar Baby
  • High John
  • Haint
  • Gullah
  • Uncle Remus
  • How do you think some of the stories are related to current events at the time?
  • Which story is your favorite? Why?

Tuesday, July 9

Alex Rider - Secret Weapon + Spies Unit Study

In 'The Art of War,' Sun Tzu says, "One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements."

Some spies you may have heard of include Mata HariElizabeth Van LewNathan Hale, and Edward Snowden, but the most successful spies are the folks whose name you've never heard!  

Spying has existed since ancient times, and has affected the outcome of our world history...

  • During the American Revolution, George Washington developed the Culper Ring to collect information about the British.  Some say this group still exists today...
  • The Pinkerton Detective Agency was founded during the American Civil War.  The agency thwarted an early assassination attempt on Lincoln and often went undercover in the Confederate ranks to gather intelligence.
  • Spy novels became popular in the early twentieth century, as threats of conflict brought a sense of fear and tension and interest in espionage.
  • The First World War brought a Dutch dancer, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, to the European stage, where she was able to mingle with officers of many nationalities.  This German spy was eventually caught and executed in 1917, but not before sending intelligence for nearly two years.  You know her as Mata Hari.
  • After World War I, President Roosevelt developed the OSS - Office of Strategic Services - which eventually turned into the CIA.  The office's main purpose was to serve the intelligence community, including turning 'double agents.'
  • It was later discovered that during the Second World War many Soviet 'sleeper agents' were 'planted' in America.
  • The Cold War was an active period for spies from both the USA and USSR, as well as many European countries.  Berlin, being a divided city, was a battlefield of spies!
  • In the USA today, there are seventeen different intelligence agencies!  The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) was created specifically to help these agencies share information.  As technology improves, so do spy techniques...

  • Alex Rider complete series
  • Graphic Novel series
  • Alex Rider - Secret Weapon
    • Ever since MI6 recognized his potential, Alex Rider has constantly been thrust into the line of danger. From a routine visit to the dentist that turns into a chase through the streets of London, to a school trip with a deadly twist, no day has ever been ordinary for the teenage super-spy. This collection of seven thrilling adventures features familiar and new assailants from the best-loved world of Alex Rider, and also includes three, brand new and action-packed adventures. 
Make / Do

See other book studies here!

Monday, July 8

Handmade Kitchen - DIY Projects

Our son has been creating decor for around the house - thanks to his Craftsman Crate - and these are some of his latest additions!

Grilling Apron
A manly apron with a rock & roll twist, he came up with the logo for this before we saw that someone else had thought of it, too.  Great minds think alike!!  He sketched out a design for the apron, and then I helped him learn to embroider the outline.  When it became clear that the rainbow was a bit overwhelming, we decided to finish by painting.

Farmhouse Recipe Box
This project required both his woodburning and kitchen kits to create.  He downloaded a design, printed it, and used it to woodburn the design into the recipe box.  Then he stained the box and painted in the burned areas for a nice contrast.  The inside holds his recipe cards and other small pieces from the kitchen crate.

Boy Scout Cooking Badge
The BSA cooking badge is long, and rather arduous, and these projects helped keep him motivated as he completed each of the tasks required to earn it.  Here, he's making a cheese sauce to go with some yummy homemade his Pink Floyd tee.  He's just completed the badge, and is one step closer to Eagle!