Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Valentine's Day TOMS

10 Days Late... yep, that's on par for me as of late.  Anyway, my sweet hubby, affectionately referred to as BOY, got me TOMS for my birthday.  I have been eyeing these shoes for some time now.  There has been an Ethiopia and an Africa specific pair.  "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda!"  I always said I'd get a pair and then never got around to it.  BOY is making sure I actually get around to it this time...  I opted for a plain shoe - the canvas in ash gray.  I figure it is universal, so I can wear these shoes with most anything.

When we were in Ethiopia, we traveled out of Addis Ababa to meet our children's birthfather - or First Daddy, as we refer to him.  We met him halfway as the distance to his hometown was far to great for the AWAA staff and the time constraints of our trip.  The city we met in was a city that I recall seeing on the news receiving a TOMS shoe drop.  When seeing the conditions, it made perfect sense why it would be a drop spot.

I'm glad to have a small part in helping a child in need.  Ultimately, it boils down to I WANT these shoes and someone else NEEDS these shoes.  It's not often that wants and needs collide, but TOMS is literally meeting needs daily with the One for One campaign.  The next time you are shoe shopping, I hope you consider TOMS.  

TOMS will give 1 Pair of Shoes thanks to you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Expedition Ireland

March is quickly approaching.  Eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, scour the closets for articles of clothing in varied shades of green, search for the leprechaun's pot of gold, and make some shimmery shamrock crafts... OR go on an expedition!  EXPEDITION IRELAND, of course!!!  Seriously, why get stuck in the same old St. Patty's Day rut?  Amanda Bennett's Expedition Ireland DNG has everything you need to go exploring with your children. 

Exactly like all of the other titles in the popular Download-N-Go series, the Expedition Ireland DNG is a week long unit study created with young learners in mind.  The target audience, students in K-4th grade and their parents alike are captivated by the DNG's stunning graphics, engaging video clips, interactive websites, notebooking pages, and lapbook pieces.  In addition, DNG's include an extensive recommended resources list as well as just for fun suggestions.  DNG's are cross-curricular in nature, so in Expedition Ireland kids study Ireland's geography, landmarks, rich history, wildlife, legends, music, and vibrant culture.  See the outline below for an overview of the week's daily objectives as well as a sneak peak at some of the included activity pages.

Day 1: Where on Earth Is Ireland?
Day 2: Some of the Special Places in Ireland
Day 3: A Bit of History
Day 4: Cool Things to Know About Ireland
Day 5: Fun and Games in Ireland

Since in my former life I was an elementary music teacher, I spent a little extra time with the kiddos focusing on the music/dance of Ireland.  We listened to Celtic music and found some great online videos of Irish instruments: the harp, bagpipes, and bodhrán.  Then, of course, we HAD to find some great YouTube videos of Riverdance.  Miss Rachel then felt the need to grab her own tap shoes and perform her rendition thereof - soooo cute!!!

The boys weren't quite as enthused about the dancing, but the animal junkies within were satisfied as we learned about the connemara ponies, Irish hare, and the Irish Setter.  In our lapbook, the Irish Setter minit book includes the statement, "I would like an Irish Setter as a pet."  Then, there are Yes and No checkboxes.  Hmmm...  take a wild guess what my boys checked!  In case you are uncertain, Momma's check counts the most, and I would most definitely mark the NO box.

Due to the fact that my children are near the younger end of the DNG's age range, I prefer to do a lot of our learning/assessing orally.  I often choose only to complete a few notebook or lapbook pages.  However, because there were so many items of interest, with help, the kids completed an entire Expedition Ireland lapbook.  Check out the finished product below.  The kids enjoyed the coloring and gluing.  Although, I confess, beneath a lot of the tabs you'll find this Momma's handwriting.  The small flaps aren't accommodating to primary printing, so Momma does have the task of jotting down the little one's dictation.

Now just as I opened this post, let me remind you... MARCH will soon be here.  Possibly, you are now inspired to beef up your typical token St. Patrick's Day lesson.  Perhaps you are ready for your own hearty helping of Irish education!  Then, by all means, click here, and purchase the Expedition Ireland DNG for $7.95. 
Finally, be sure and visit the Expedition Ireland Blog Tour!  I know I enjoy seeing how other members of the DNG Review Team are able to use this product in their homeschool.  This group always has outstanding information to share.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

George Washington DNG Review

It's February!!!!  Just in time for President's Day, our family was able to study our country's very first President using Amanda Bennett's George Washington DNG.  This product was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 

Honestly... it sparked many needed and necessary conversations.  My kiddos are 4, 5, and 6, so they are young.  They actually didn't know who or what a President was, so we spent time discussing the role of the leader of our country.  Caleb asked about our current President, so we found pictures of President Obama online and read about him.  Then, throughout the week, if he heard the TV or radio mention him his ears immediately perked up. 

I suppose, I never paid attention to how often even a 5 year-old would hear the President's name in passing.  Whether I approve or disapprove of President Obama's character or varied political decisions is not the point, I can still teach and impart to my children a respect for democracy, the position of President, and the USA. 

Amanda Bennett's George Washington DNG was the perfect tool to aide and facilitate in doing thus stated previously.  In true download-n-go fashion, I was provided with all I needed to facilitate an intensive, week-long study of one of our country's founding father's.  Designed with students in grades K-4 in mind, the material was definitely age-appropriate while equally engaging and exciting.  DNG's always include stellar websites and video clips, phenomenal graphics, a comprehensive resources list, notebooking pages, and lapbooking elements, and the George Washington DNG was no exception.   

An overview of the DNG follows along with a glimpse of some of the included activity pages.
Day 1: Who Was George Washington?
Day 2: People and Places in George Washington's Life
Day 3: The Accomplishments of George Washington
Day 4: Lessons to Learn From George Washington
Day 5: Remembering George Washington

The kiddos loved learning first about George Washington the person:  his boyhood and The Legend of the Cherry Tree, his great adventures in battle, his hunting dogs, etc.  Then, they enjoyed learning about the many accomplishments of George Washington and the ways in which he is remembered today. 

Since my little ones are at the younger end of the intended age spectrum, I did opt to use less of the writing and more of the hands-on activities.  The kids painted their own cherry trees, sculpted play-dough replicas of Mt. Rushmore, and created Lego Washington Monuments.  (Yes - I have pictures to insert later.  New camera, so I have to learn how to get the pics from camera to computer.  It's a process - for me at least!!!  So consider this post TBE - to be edited...)  Even still, it is very exciting to know that in a few years I can use this DNG again when my children are more autonomous and able to write more on their own.  It will be interesting to see them tackle this study with just a few more years of life experience.  I believe, as 3rd and 4th graders, they will gain an even greater understanding and appreciation of the beginnings of our great nation. 

For $7.95, you can add the George Washington DNG to your teaching resources.  Not only will it serve you well, but it will please your children.  Rather that a token "President's Day" lesson or mere mention, be intentional this year.  Gift your kids with the opportunity to truly learn about a persistent leader who led by faith and example.

The entire Download-N-Go series is worth looking into.  I know my family has been nothing but delighted in all of our DNG experiences.  Don't miss out!  Click here to visit Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett.

Finally, be sure and visit the George Washington DNG Blog Tour and see what other homeschool families have to say about their George Washington DNG experience. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Siesta Scripture Memory Team - Verse 3

February 1st...  time for a new verse of Scripture to commit to memory.  As I've been researching, reading, thinking, and praying, my heart has been broken, consumed by righteous anger, stirred to action, moved to tears, encouraged, enlightened, and reminded... I AM LOVED.  Just as God loves me, He loves the very least of these.  If I truly share my Father's heart, then how can I not love the same????  Hence the fact my focus the next two weeks will be...

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
     maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy;
     deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

                                                       Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)