Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday crown of thorns craft

It has been a busy day/week/month, with little time for blogging, but I wanted to share this with you on this Good Friday.  The girls were very excited to try their hand at drawing a crown of thorns, like the one we saw on the blog Hodgepodge.

The pastel drawing is of a crown of thorns on a purple king's robe edged in gold, with golden light shining from above.

After we completed the art project, Buttercup read to us the story of Jesus' trial and crucifixion from her New International Reader's Version Bible.  There is something so touching about hearing the Word of God from the mouth of a little one. She is looking forward to reading to us about Jesus' resurrection on Easter Sunday.

He suffered the things we should have suffered.
    He took on himself the pain that should have been ours.
But we thought God was punishing him.
    We thought God was wounding him and making him suffer.
But the servant was pierced because we had sinned.
    He was crushed because we had done what was evil.
He was punished to make us whole again.
    His wounds have healed us.
All of us are like sheep. We have wandered away from God.
    All of us have turned to our own way.
And the Lord has placed on his servant
    the sins of all of us
Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIRV)
God is good!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Review: I Like Giving

I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life by Brad Formsma is all about the joy experienced by those who give freely. When I agreed to review this book I was a little skeptical that I might be "guilt-tripped" into giving. Quite the opposite, the book is all about the personal satisfaction, even bliss, that can come from giving without expecting to receive in return. Giving in secret, giving to friends, giving to an ex-spouse (really!), giving to strangers, giving money, giving time, giving smiles - there are so many ways to give.  Giving is good for the soul, which we all know in theory, but the book contains story after story of personal testimonials from people whose lives were transformed by giving to someone else, in big or small ways.

Listen to how one generous lady found a way to give freely at age 98:

    You can read a sample of the book HERE:
    Check out the Facebook page here: 
This book just might change the way you think about giving. Buy the book here

Be inspired at - and even share your story of giving with the world.

    Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  
      2 Corinthians 9: 7
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Educents Educational Supplies

I've joined the affiliate program after browsing their deals on educational products. Click through to see their huge sale:

I'll get a small commission if you buy anything through my link. I'm trying to support my own buying habit. Even if you don't buy, though, look through their pages - they have some fun-looking stuff.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dinosaur Study Part 4: Dinosaur Dioramas

The final project of our dinosaur study was to make a diorama. I loved dioramas when I was in school, so I was excited for my kids to make one for the first time. I tried to encourage them to make realistic dioramas like the ones we saw at the Natural History Museum.

Our Inspiration
Without this reminder, the scenes would likely include mermaids, fairies, and unicorns. I already had to ask them to keep glitter to a minimum. Don't get me wrong, I love glitter. I just wanted this to look a little more scientific and a little less over the rainbow.

I asked the girls to describe their scenes for me.

Buttercup's scene below features "the sun setting in the background, the silver moon is already out."  "There are palm trees in the distance and trees with berries...The apatosaurus in the back is about to eat a berry off of a tree. The stegosaurus is walking away.  The ankylosaurus is trying to eat plants on the ground - he is an herbivore. The pterodactyl is trying to eat a berry on the tree."

"The velociraptors on the right are either hugging or attacking each other. Both want to get the pelycosaur's eggs."

Stay away from my eggs.

Sunshine's diorama:

Sunshine made "a volcano dripping lava". "There is a triceratops protecting his babies and eating berries in the bushes. The babies are in hard-shelled eggs because they are not born yet." The dinosaur with plates is a stegosaurus. It can protect itself from animals that want to hurt it. It is hiding. The flying one likes to eat grass and likes to fly up in the clouds."

"This brown dinosaur is trying to protect its eggs, but this T-Rex is coming to eat the eggs. T-Rex eats meat."

Our next science unit will be a garden study. Stay tuned - our garden failed last summer, but we're hoping to plant now and have some growth before it gets too hot in a couple of months.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dinosaur Study Part 3: Paper Mache Dinosaur Eggs

Our free dinosaur unit study from Homeschool Share included instructions for making our own dinosaur eggs. The girls had a great time with this, but it took 4 days, so be forewarned!

The paper mache paste can be made with 1 part flour to 2 parts water, mixing well with a whisk to smooth the mixture. You can also use white glue: 4 parts glue to 1 part water. Because flour makes me think of baking and baking horrifies me, we used the non-traditional glue version. I just read somewhere that if you add a couple tablespoons of table salt, it will prevent mold. I didn't know this when we made our dinosaur eggs, but I don't think we'll keep our sculptures long enough to grow mold anyway.

Tear or cut a newspaper into strips 1-1/2  inches wide. Blow up a balloon to your desired size, and start dipping those newspaper pieces. Gently slide each piece through your fingers to remove excess goo. We did 3 layers, one layer per day, allowing drying time in between. On the afternoon of the last day we painted our eggs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dinosaur Study - Part 2: Natural History Museum

We were lucky to enjoy a free trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County thanks to their Homeschool Days program. The museum offers four homeschool days per year, when homeschoolers can enjoy free admission.  The January 15, 2014 homeschool day featured fossils and special dinosaur exhibits - right when we were in the middle of our dinosaur study!

Upon arrival, we had the opportunity to make fools of ourselves posing in front of a green screen.  Do we look scared? Why is that dinosaur so hairy?

The girls posing in front of the famous fighting T-Rex and Triceratops at the entrance of the museum.

Feeling models of T-Rex teeth. We were able to compare carnivore and herbivore teeth at the Exploration Station.

Fossil sea life and its modern cousin.

Dinosaur Hall

Comparing height with pieces of leg bone.

This really helps you understand the size of the T-Rex!

The babies are hard to impress.

Oh my! That IS big! An adult T-Rex skeleton with a baby below it.

The Tyrannosaurus Rex growth series: Adult, juvenile, and baby

Allosaurus fighting with a Stegosaurus in Dinosaur Hall

Dinosaur feet and claws, and Buttercup's frightening impersonation

The largest known ammonite fossil

My gem-loving girl had to explore the gems and minerals station in the Discovery Center.

Not a dinosaur, but still fun! In the Discovery Center, you could try putting together the bones of a Smilodon (saber-tooth cat) just like a scientist. It's not easy!

This is where that hairy dinosaur in the first picture came from.  The museum has full-body puppets for their Dinosaur Encounters show.

The day was so beautiful. We lunched outside and then it was warm enough for the girls to play in the water feature.

In the Get Dirty Zone in the Nature Gardens, sifting soil.

If you are in the area, check it out! The museum has lots more to offer.

Upcoming Homeschool Days at the NHMLA:
April 28, 2014 -- Bugs and Botany
June 24, 2014 -- Urban Nature

The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits also has the same homeschool days. There, you can see ice-age animals and actual tar pits:
April 28, 2014 -- Bugs and Botany
June 24, 2014 -- Pleistocene Predators

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dinosaur Study - Part 1: Lapbooks

We spent over a month slowly working through a dinosaur study. We incorporated lapbooking, a field trip, and arts and crafts into our trip into prehistory. Today I'm posting the resources used for our lapbooks.

The core of our study was a lapbook from In The Hands of a Child - you can see the resource here.  The study included vocabulary, types of dinosaurs, fossils and skeletons, dinosaur sizes, diets, defense, reproduction, extinction theories, and paleontology.

I also added in a few mini-books from a free dinosaur lapbook template I found on Homeschool Share.  You can see the resource here. This one is a creation-based unit study, while the lapbook from Hands of a Child is neutral in terms of creation vs. evolution.  Homeschool Share had some cute, cartoonish mini-books that we used as supplements to our lapbook. They also have free printable dinosaur report forms and coloring pages on their site. We didn't read any of the books suggested in their unit study, but checked out some library books instead.

A lot of people have love/hate relationships with lapbooks. They can involve a lot of writing, cutting and pasting. I help out in this area. I only care that the kids are learning something, and that they are putting forth effort. If they are having trouble writing all the words, I let them dictate their answers to me. I also help with the more complicated cutting. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I would spend some "me time" cutting out mini-books after the kids went to bed (usually while watching Downton Abbey and having dessert). I find paper-cutting to be rather Zen, so it works out well for all of us.

Here are some samples of the lapbook project:

Both lapbook resources are shown here - the multi-colored, cartoonish books are from Homeschool Share. The solid-colored papers were from Hands of a Child.

My kids had fun completing these lapbooks (with my help) and if you are up for some cutting and pasting, I would recommend  them!

Next post: Our trip to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Two New Pippi Longstocking Fans

We just finished reading Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and the girls have been Pippified!   It was a fun introduction to the humor genre of literature, and I recommend it if you're looking for something light and silly to read aloud, or for your kids to read on their own (grade level equivalent 5.2).

As book-completion project, they made their own photo boards - I got the idea from Book Projects to Send Home Grade 2 by Carson-Dellosa Publishing.

A little Pippi language-arts lesson.

Now we get to watch the movie, too, thanks to my Pippi-loving friend who let me borrow her personal copy. We used to watch this together when we were little kids, and now I get to watch it with my own little kids. We are so excited for Pippi movie night this weekend.  I think I am the most excited! I haven't seen it in about 25 years.  I hope it is as good as I remember.  I can't even remember if the stories are the same as in the book. I also wonder if the girls will notice the bad dubbing from the original Swedish version. We'll see!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Review: Moving Forward

Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past  -     By: Everett Worthington

Moving Forward - Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past by Everett L. Worthington Jr. takes the reader through six steps to self-forgiveness. The steps (not necessarily in order) are:
1. Receive God's Forgiveness - letting go of shame
2. Repair Relationships - confess and try to make amends
3. Rethink Ruminations - considering your internal dialogue
4. REACH Emotional Self-Forgiveness (this is actually 5 more steps in the author's forgiveness approach)
5. Rebuild Self-Acceptance
6. Resolve to Live Virtuously

I'll admit that I balk a bit at any "step program", no matter how many steps there are. It seems so formulaic, when something as profoundly emotional as self-forgiveness requires a major heart change, and realization of God's grace that a formula cannot easily provide. It took me quite a while to get through this book for this reason. The author had some good points to ponder and Biblical reminders about sin, repentance, and forgiveness. I would have preferred more drenching in the Word of God and less of the author's personal struggle to forgive himself. I didn't even think he did anything that warranted forgiveness, so perhaps that is why I shrugged off some of his suggestions. Maybe if he had "sins like mine" it would have been more impactful for me. I think I wanted to see more of myself in the book.

I would recommend this book for people who like step-by-step instructions and who don't know where to start in terms of letting go of the past.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


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