Thursday, June 27

Ranger's Apprentice + Creative Writing Unit


High fantasy is one of the favorite genres of middle and high school students for good reason - well-written novels in this genre have a depth of character and setting that is rarely seen in other genres.  In most fantasy series, the author has created an entirely new world, both historic and futuristic in nature, and often a new language, too!

The Ranger's Apprentice series follows the adventures of Will, an orphan who is chosen as an apprentice Ranger, skilled trackers, archers and warriors in the service of the King of Araluen. Will strives to keep the Kingdom of Araluen safe from invaders, traitors, and threats. He is joined on his adventures by his mentor Halt and his best friend Horace.  In the sequel series, Royal Rangers, the reader returns to the world of Ranger’s Apprentice, continuing the story arc starring fan favorites, Will and Maddie.

Reading high fantasy books helps students to develop creative thinking skills, and is a great way to encourage new and struggling writers to think outside the lines!

Our spine read for this unit is any one of the Ranger's Apprentice series



Access more novel studies in the Fantasy & Fiction Novel Studies Bundle!


Includes eight novel studies covering the fantasy and fiction genre. Each novel addresses a new topic, primarily falling into social studies and language arts categories.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including one featured novel – the spine of the unit.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Some units also have cooking projects.
These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Wednesday, June 26

How to Snag FREE Kindle Books!

In one Facebook group, I'm known as 'the lady who shares the free Happy Hollisters books.'  With over 30 books in this vintage series, and it being one that we're all trying to collect, it's nice to be able to pick them up for free!

Folks are always asking how I find them for free...so this tutorial is to help anyone looking to load their e-reader library on the cheap.  These are my favorite seven ways to score free Kindle books.  It's important to note that the free books change daily.  If you're after something specific, it would be beneficial to check every few days.  Happy treasure hunting!
parent book library
Homeschooling families in particular may be interested in another set of e-books, from SchoolhouseTeachers, that are free in their e-library!

First, let's talk about Amazon Prime.  We all know the benefits...you get free shipping, special discounts, access to streaming music and videos, plus a lot of extras that I probably don't even know.  But did you know about all of the free book extras that are included?
With Kindle First, Prime members get one free newly-released book per month.  You can choose one of six book selections (though occasionally the company will surprise members will the ability to choose all six!).  Check out this month's selections of Kindle First books.  Not a Prime member?  Learn more here.
Prime Reading is another perk for members that gives access to books and magazines that are free to read.  Unlike 'purchasing' books for free, you do not get to keep these books.  The inventory rotates, so keep an eye on your wishlist!  Check out all of the Prime Reading Books.
If your inner-bibliophile just can't be satisfied with these options, Prime members also have access to Kindle Unlimited.  The 'free' books here actually cost 9.99 / month to access, BUT there are a ton of great best-sellers and new releases included!  Not sure if this is you?  Try it for a month at no cost.  Check out the Kindle Unlimited books here.   Try out a 30-Day free trial of Kindle Unlimited here.
Not interested in Amazon Prime?   Try your local library.  Most libraries use the Overdrive app, which allows you to check out e-books through Amazon at no cost.  You'll need a library card and online access to your library's card catalog.  At checkout, just sign in to your Amazon account and choose the device where you want your book sent.  The Overdrive app is available on most platforms.
Kindle Advanced Search is a great tool for searching by author, title, or keyword.  It also allows you to refine search results by reader age.  Choose 'sort results by' and click 'price: low to high.'  This will put all of the free books in your tailored results at the top of the list.  Check out Kindle Advanced Search.
The Master List of Free Kindle Books is sorted by bestselling titles.  Go to the master list to see all free e-books available at the moment.  On the left-hand side of the page is a list of all the book genres.  You can click on a category to see the free books in that genre.  Some can be narrowed into sub-categories as well.

The simplest method is a simple search by genre.  The links below will take you to all the free books available today in the specific genre.
Prime Book Box is a paid subscription service that will send your child new books to read, based on age, gender, and reading preferences.  Parents save 40% off Amazon list prices when using Prime Book Box.  The first month is discounted to give you a chance to check it out for yourself!

We hope this helps you to save big on books!

Snag a slew of resources in the Homeschool Helpers Bundle!


Covers ten topics to get your homeschool running smoothly!
 
Getting Started
· A Parent’s Alphabet
· Choosing the Right Curriculum for Your Family
· Motivating Your Teens
· Seven Steps to Teaching Work Ethic
 
Special Needs
· Occupational Therapy in Homeschool
· Speech Therapy in Homeschool
· Teaching the Distracted Child
 
Making it Fun
· Game-Schooling – Learning through Play
· How to Snag Free E-Books
· Holiday Foreign Language Fun

Looking for more?  Check out the original Mom’s Bundle and Homemaking & Homesteading Bundle!

Tuesday, June 25

Pickling - So Easy, the Kids Do It!



Pickles are one my favorite, and one of the easiest, things to preserve from the garden.  If you're wanting to get started with canning, but a little intimidated by pressure canners and acidity concerns, then pickles are a fantastic first step for you!
You can use this recipe as a template for pickling other vegetables. Okra, green beans, garlic, and even carrots all make delicious pickles if you're feeling like branching out into other parts of the garden!
No matter what cucumber or vegetable you use, make sure they are ripe and feel firm — avoid limp or wrinkly vegetables. Wash the vegetables before pickling and cut away any bruises or blemishes.
These pickles can be processed in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, which makes them shelf stable for around a year. The downside is that the hot water processing will cook the cucumbers a bit and can sometimes give the pickles a softer texture. If super-crunchy pickles are your aim, skip the processing step and just keep the jars in the fridge — they'll keep refrigerated for several weeks.

How to Make Dill Pickles

Makes 4 pint jars  (though we usually go big and make several quarts at once!)

What You Need

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds cucumbers
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • pickling spices  (by and large, a mix is the easiest way to start)
Equipment
Instructions

  1. Prepare the jars: If you are planning to can your pickles for long-term storage, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize the jars and their lids. If you are planning to make refrigerator pickles, simply washing the jars and lids is fine.
  2. Prepare the cucumbers: Wash and dry the cucumbers. Trim away the blossom end of the cucumber, which contains enzymes that can lead to limp pickles. Leave the pickles whole, cut them into spears, or slice them into coins, as preferred.
  3. Pack the pickles into the jars: Pack the pickles into the jars. Trim the ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing the cucumbers.
  4. Bring the pickling brine to a boil: Combine the vinegar, water, pickling spices in a sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar to within 1/2-inch of the top. You might not use all the brine.
  5. Remove air bubbles: Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if necessary.
  6. Tighten the lids: Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
  7. Optional — Process the pickles for longer storage: For longer storage, place the jars in a boiling pot of water. When the water comes back to a boil, set the timer for 10 minutes and remove the jars immediately. Make sure the lids pop down; if they do not, refrigerate those pickles and eat them first.
  8. Cool and refrigerate: Let the jars cool to room temperature. If you processed the jars, they can be stored on the shelf. If unprocessed, store the pickles in the fridge. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.
  9. Storing canned pickles: Canned pickles will keep for at least a year on the shelf and for several weeks in the refrigerator once opened; refrigerator pickles will keep for several weeks.


Pick up the Homemaking & Homesteading Bundle in our Cottage Shoppe!  

The bundle includes twenty-four tutorials with background information for anyone who is interested in homemaking and homesteading. Topics are broken down into:
  • In the Kitchen – Fall & Winter
  • In the Kitchen – Spring & Summer
  • Around the Homestead – Inside
  • Around the Homestead – Outside
For more great homesteading fun, check out the Homesteading Course at SchoolhouseTeachers!

This homeschool homesteading course is designed for anyone who has a desire to live more independently and prepare much of what is needed each day using their own hands. In this elective course, the student can learn how to work for what they want by making it themselves, instead of participating in an “on demand” society. Homeschool students of all ages learn patience, along with the skills needed to make their own cleaners for the home, sunscreen, homemade ketchup and dry mixes, as well as how to choose animals and prepare for emergencies, and much more. Learning the patience and usefulness of “doing it yourself” can be immensely helpful not only in the sense of living a healthier life, but also for the budget!

Monday, June 24

We Were There when Grant Met Lee at Appomattox

***Pick up your FREE Activity Pack***

More than sixteen months after the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, August 20, 1866, President Andrew Johnson signed a document declaring the official end to the American Civil War...

April 1865, the Union army was advancing through Virginia and the Confederates abandoned Richmond...they were soon cut off from this retreat near the town of Appomattox, Virginia.  Surrounded, and running low on supplies, the Confederates were staring at a bleak situation.  General Lee felt he had no choice but to surrender.

General Grant and General Lee had great respect for each other, and the terms of the surrender were generous.  Confederate soldiers had to turn in their rifles, but they were allowed to keep their horses, were fed a good meal, and were allowed to return home.

It took a while before word got around that the war was over.  On May 5, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis held the last meeting of his cabinet, officially dissolving the government.  The last Confederate to surrender was General Watie, who did so on June 23rd, nearly three months later. 

Our spine novel for this unit is We Were There when Grant Met Lee at Appomattox


Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.


  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.


These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product Samples:

Wednesday, June 19

Nick & Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove


Our spine novel for this unit is...

Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove 
Einstein is running amok! Darwin is losing his head! The science museum in Half Moon Bay is in big trouble because its robotic replicas of history’s greatest scientists keep going kablooey! As 11-year-old amateur inventors Nick and Tesla Holt try to uncover the cause, they’ll need to keep adding all-new gadgets to their latest creation, a customized super-cyborg glove. Follow the action, and then follow the illustrated instructions to build your own gadget glove with four incredible functions: LED signal light, emergency alarm, sound recorder, and UV secret-message revealer!



Access 
the complete unit study in the Science-Based Novel Studies Bundle!
Includes nine novel studies covering science-based topics. Each novel addresses a new topic, primarily falling into STEM, technology, and modern science.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including one featured novel – the spine of the unit.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Some units also have cooking projects.

Product Samples – Fever 1793 & Nick and Tesla: High Voltage Danger Lab


These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Tuesday, June 18

We Were There at Pearl Harbor

***Pick up your FREE Activity Pack***

AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR  X  THIS IS NOT A DRILL   
 
Those are the words that were hurriedly sent from a Navy officer in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to all major Navy commands on the morning of December 7th, 1941.

A fleet of Japanese planes attacked the US Naval Base early that morning, killing more than 2,300 Americans and destroying the fleet of ships and aircrafts housed there.  Both the USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma quickly became death traps for men left alive onboard.

The following day, President Roosevelt gave a speech declaring war on Japan and bringing the US into World War 2.  Due to alliances with Japan, Germany and Italy declared war on the US shortly thereafter.  The bombing of Pearl Harbor set into motion US involvement in World War 2.

See other major events from World War 2 in the We Were There series, including the Battle of Britain, Battle for Bataan, Battle of the Bulge, and Opening of the Atomic Era.

Looking for an online unit study?  Check out Techie Homeschool Mom's Pearl Harbor unit!!

Read
Make / Do
Watch
Define / Identify
  • Battleship Row
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • U.S.S. Arizona
  • Japan
  • Hawaii
  • Hong Kong
  • Guam
  • Philippine Islands
  • Wake Island
  • Midway Island
Think
  • Why do you think President Franklin Roosevelt called the bombing of Pearl Harbor “a date that will live in infamy?”
  • Why was there no declaration of war before the attack?  Why do you thing that Japanese Admiral Yamamoto feared that the attack on Pearl Harbor would eventually be detrimental to Japan’s cause?
A Study of Japan:
  • Covers the history of Japan from ancient times to present day
  • Examines the Japanese culture and its influences
  • Explores the geography of this small, but strong island
  • Delves into the technology and pop-culture of the people
  • Goes on rabbit trails about art, history, and modern economics of Japan and its fellow nations
  • Is the equivalent of one year of high school history

Primary sources - Draft of the 'Day of Infamy' speech & telegram for the media to get 'colorful people' on the news



Access the complete unit in the 'We Were There' Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes THIRTY-SIX unit studies covering World & American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the the ancient world through post-WW2.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.


  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.


These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product Samples: