Friday, April 18, 2014

Free Eggsperts Animated Series - Limited Time only

We are loved Reading Eggs when Gess was little and still use the upper levels titled Reading Eggspress for keeping up on her reading and comprehension.  Now they have an animated series The Eggsperts and for a limited time you can view it for FREE!  To learn more about Reading Eggs visit their website or read my Reading Eggs Review.  In the meantime, enjoy these episodes for FREE while the offer lasts!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Basket Fun

We don't really do the Easter Bunny, but have colored eggs and and made baskets to give Gess a hands on lesson on traditions that people do for certain holidays.  She never really got a surprise basket and knew that we hid the eggs that she colored.  It was fun and she has enjoyed it.  She also understood what all those people meant when they asked her questions people always ask young kids about Easter.  Now that she is almost a teenager we have decided to continue making the eggs and baskets for others, instead of for herself.  This year we made a basket for each of my grandchildren.
My mom is going through some medical issues which is keeping me busy and preoccupied so to make the coloring easier for me and more independent for Gess I picked up some clear plastic eggs from Hobby Lobby and gave Gess some paint and brushes and let her go to town.

Then we stuffed them with candy, threw in a few glowing eggs from Egglo (with the verses inside), a couple of children's bible story books, toys, chalk eggs, and candy jewelry.

I think the grandkids will love them and I know Gess had fun making them.  Still, it is my hope and prayer that on that special day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which is much more exciting than candy, toys or colorful eggs.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Riding Her Trike

Gess has had trouble riding a traditional bicycle.  She just doesn't seem to have the core strength or coordination to pedal, steer, and keep the bike steady.  Training wheels helped some but she really tried to lean on them too much, especially when she got tired.  My husband was attempting to make a recumbent bike for her but it was a tedious task with the materials he had access to and our budget simply didn't allow for us to buy one.

Then God surprised us with the neatest hand-me down gift ever!  Some dear friends at church blessed us with this large tricycle. The seat was a little worn but her daddy crafted her a new one and it was good to go.  Now she can pedal and steer without trying to also balance her body!  She will still have to work on her stamina as she tires after a short ride, but she can ride!  I am so happy!  Thank you Lord and thank you friends for giving us this new toy!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Curiosity Quest

My daughter Gess is a very curious little girl.  The fact that she has special needs makes me even more thrilled that she is always asking questions and trying to figure things out.  It sure makes it easier for me to teach her.  Lately she has been curious about the food that we eat.  We will be eating something and she will ask, "where did that come from?"  We then have the joy of explaining the method of how we get our food.  When its a fruit or vegetable that is fun.  When its meat, well, we try to be as accurate as possible without spoiling her dinner.  So when I saw that I had the opportunity to review some DVDs titled Curiosity Quest I knew that would be right up Gesserine's alley.  I was even more thrilled when some of them pertained to food!

For the purpose of my review I recieved the following DVDs from Curiosity Quest:

DVD Combo Pack - Produce - Mushrooms, Orange Packing, Cranberries
DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea - Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon Hatchery

These Combo Packs have 3 episodes on each DVD.  They are geared for children ages 7-14 and each individual episode is approximately 30 minutes in length.  Each show begins with the host Joel Greene reading a letter from a viewer with a question the topic is based off of.  He then takes you on a journey to find the answer.  To do this they usually tour some sort of facility that has specialists in the field to help them not only answer the questions, but actually see how it all works. They break through the tour a few times with little mini segments where they ask people on the street questions to test their knowledge on the subject or tell us some Fun Fact about it. 

Because of her fascination with food and where it comes from, Gess chose to start with the Produce video.  The first episode we watched was on Cranberries which is actually something we don't eat a lot of.  I wish it was cranberry season so I could have found her some fresh ones to try when we were done, but it was still fun to watch out of season. 

The letter that inspired this video was, "Dear Joel, I have seen an ad on T.V. for cranberries, and I was wondering why the men are standing in a lake full of them."  I have seen that ad and actually wondered the same thing myself, but not enough to ever go find out.  So this video was educational for both of us!  Not only do they explain why they are standing in the lake, it shows you the process on scene.  Joel himself gets to walk out in a lake full of cranberries.  The poor guy does it when its snowing! 

You then get to follow the cranberries from the lake, to the processing facility, all the way to the truck that takes them to the store.  At the end they eat at the center's restaurant where everything is flavored with cranberries, even the ketchup!

After watching the video we decided to explore cranberries some more at the store.  Since we didn't find any fresh ones we simply got dried and canned cranberries as well as cranberry juice.  Gess was disappointed that we couldn't find cranberry ketchup but she isn't giving up.  She still searches for it on the ketchup isle each time we go to the store.

Next we watched the Swimmers of the Sea.  We started with Salmon Hatchery and learned a very cool way to remember the types of salmon using our hand.  There are chum, sockeye, king, silver (or choho) and pink.  Watching how they raise and release salmon out into the wild was pretty fascinating.  Out of 125 million babies about 10% actually come back.  The process was simply amazing.  Gess' favorite fun fact was how a king salmon can weigh up to 100 pounds!

The Penguins episode was fun too.  Here they visited an Aquarium to watch penguins up close.  Each episode seems to have key words it defines.  This time it was husbandry.  Gess was surprised that it had nothing to do with marriage!  We also found it amusing how they get them to take their vitamins.

Then we went back to learning about produce again. The Orange Packing one was really interesting.  Did you know they have yet to invent a machine that can pick oranges better than man can?  I believe its the same with mushrooms too.  These guys are swift though, its incredible!  Joel found out it isn't as easy as it looks.

 We really liked how the bad oranges go into cattle feed so nothing ever gets wasted.  Gess favorite part was the end where they tell that silly knock knock joke.

Knock Knock
Who's There?
Banana Who?
Knock Knock
Who's There?
Banana Who?
Knock Knock
Who's There?
Orange Who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?!

Gess is a knock knock joke nut and has told this one a million times.  Now she was reminded to tell it again for several days.  Thanks for that!

The episode Mushrooms was really fascinating to me.  I never really thought about how you would actually farm mushrooms.  You learn that it isn't the best smelling place around.  I didn't really think about the heat and decomposition that goes into growing these fungi plants but it sure makes sense.  These guys were fast pickers too, they were able to pick 104 pounds per hour!  Again, Joel here wasn't as fast.

The last one we watched was Turtle Rescue.  In this episode they visited a sea turtle hospital where they treat sick or injured turtles.  Their goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release them back into the wild.  Sea turtles are an endangered species so only people with a permit can touch them, let alone keep them.  Like salmon, sea turtles lay eggs where they themselves were hatched from, so no matter how many miles away they are they know where to return.

In this episode there is a brief discussion about the origins of sea turtles which is from an evolutionary point of view, though they don't believe sea turtles themselves have evolved.  They date them back to the age of dinosaurs suggesting they are the oldest creature having been around over a hundred million years.  That was the only reference to origins that I found on any of the videos.  The rest simply has fun and interesting facts about the topics.

In all of the videos Gess loved the segments where they asked people on the street questions about the topic but they often gave wrong answers and that confused her.  She finally started asking me each time, "are they telling the truth?"  She was trying to learn facts and they were mixed up with mistakes.  I think I noticed in some episodes that they rang a bell in the background when the answer was correct.  That was helpful to let you know if they were right but it didn't seem to do that in all of them.

Gess enjoyed these and has watched some of them more than once.  I love that they encouraged her to explore more about the subjects.  She went to the library and checked out books on penguins and salmon.  We also encouraged her to try the foods that were discussed.  In fact, one day we had an entire dinner based upon our studies.  Daddy made salmon, rice with mushrooms, stuffed mushrooms, green beans with mushrooms, cranberry sauce and cranberry juice.  This had to be the first meal where she didn't have to ask, "where did that come from?"

Gess actually likes salmon and mushrooms, except when the mushrooms are stuffed.  I don't get that, those are the best kind!  Gess is also not a fan of orange juice or oranges, but we knew that already.  What we found out here is that she isn't a fan of cranberries either.  While she does like cranberry juice blends she didn't care for straight up cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, or even dried cranberries.

She still had fun discovering about them, which she probably wouldn't have done if not for these videos.

Overall I feel these were really well done.  I think that by dividing the tour up with the questions, fun facts, and other useful information really helped keep the video moving and the audience engaged.  Joel is also very entertaining and seems to have lots of fun so he really does get the kids excited about the topic.  While I feel they are bit pricey for three 30 minute segments, they were really fun to watch and we both learned a lot.

You can purchase the DVD's at the Curiosity Quest website.

DVD Combo Pack - Produce $24.95
DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea $24.95

To learn more about them visit the website or read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Came in Like a Lion!

I am actually not talking about the weather though it has been so sporadic lately.  It was in the 80's yesterday and then last night it got down into the 30s.  It seems like it changes back and forth every two or the three days.  One day it even snowed in between days that were bright, sunny and in the 70's!  This was actually the second day of spring and the flakes were the biggest I have ever seen.  I felt like I was driving in a snow globe.

What I was referring to was our home life.  I was so excited that Gesserine had gotten through an entire winter without getting sick enough to need antiobiotics and as soon as March hit we all got sick.  My husband I never needed meds, but Gess has been through two rounds of antibiotics and had to take a steroid too.  I hated putting her on it but the congestion in her chest just wouldn't go away.  She's been hospitalized with pnemonia in the past and I was certainly wanting to avoid that again.

Then my mother finds out that she needs to get a defibrillator for her heart.  She has congestive heart failure and since then her heart has strengthened at all, even after being treated with meds.  They think this is essential.  We will be going this week to the pre-op appointment where we will schedule exactly when that will take place.  We have to drive 2 hours away to get all this done so that really puts a burden on our regular schooling and other act ivies.

My review responsibilities have been picking up too.  I can't wait for you to see some the great products we have been trying but they are surely keeping us very busy.  It's worth it though, Gess is doing so well in school, even in spite of being sick.

On a positive note, Gess got new glasses last week. These are the first ones that don't have the hook behind the ear so we are hoping these will not fall of her face, but so far so good.I think they are really cute!

With all this going on I am trying to keep the educational posts coming but these interruptions may cause me to have to pause and just share some every day moments such as this.  I hope you understand!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Free Friday: My Hope America From Billy Graham

I believe that Billy Graham has to be one of the greatest evangelists of our time.  I know that people all around the world have been saved through his preaching of the gospel.  Some well known, like President George W. Bush and others just average people like my son Timothy. 

Billy Graham had it on his heart to share the message of the gospel one last time with the world. Because of his health he has done it through a video, but it is still the true message that needs to be shared.  I have yet to get through this movie without crying.  I pray that all who see it will have not only their emotions stirred, but their hearts transformed, and their lives truly changed due to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

They are offering you the opportunity to share this message with your friends for free.  To order your FREE DVD click on the image below. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Monitoring Screen Time and Other Media

I shared with you during my review of Captivated The Movie how we were concerned about the amount of media Gess was absorbing.  It truly was affecting her behavior.  After one outburst we put her on a 30 day media fast, inspired by the movie.  For 30 days Gess had no computer time, no video games, no television, and very limited exposure to music.  During that time we saw a tremendous improvement in both her behavior and habits.  She has learned once again to enjoy the thrills of reading and creativity, things she usually loves.

Having a daughter with special needs it is really important to me to not only limit her media intake but find a way to help her learn how to self monitor those habits.  For now we have made a visual monitoring system.  It isn't the prettiest thing in the world but we went with materials we already had around the house. 

We chose to use colored clothes pins clipped to a board which explains the value of each one.  I envisioned large coins but I didn't feel like making them.  You crafty people can have fun with this I am sure.  Then she decorated a coffee can and each time she wants to use media she has to put a clothes pin in the can. I have called the clothes pins "media clips."  We keep the can near us and require permission before she can spend them.  Below are the amounts we started her with.

6 green clips - each clip is worth 30 minutes of any media type
3 yellow clips - each clip is worth 20 minutes of music

I was originally going to just use the green ones but I don't mind if Gess has music a little more often, especially since she has only approved music in her selection.  However, she does tend to get obsessed with it sometimes and will play the same CD or even the same single song over and over again.  Now when she has her 20-30 minutes of music (she can use a green clip for music too) she gets to choose 1 CD.  That's it.  For that time that is all she gets.  The next time we make her choose a different one.

We re-introduced her media using this method this past Saturday.  So far in four days she has used 2 music clips and 2 media clips for the computer.  My goal was to make sure that she has at least some days media free, so I may have to cut back on the amount of her clips.  My original thinking was that since we homeschool she might choose media in the afternoon when we complete lessons and chores and another in the evening.  However with the weather being so nice she has enjoyed being outdoors during that time.  I also think that since she has recently gone without any media for 30 days she has learned to simply enjoy time without media!

If you missed my review of Captivated The Movie you might want to check it out to learn more. I found it very educational and beneficial.  Here is the trailer again, in case you missed it. 

Captivated - Trailer from Media Talk 101 on Vimeo.


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