Thursday, April 17, 2014

Civil War Era Juvenile Historical Fiction

I have found that my entire family loves to enhance their history lessons with good historical fiction. Entering into the life of a fictional character is a great way to learn what the circumstances and culture of a time period was like.

Recently, my 3rd grader read The Road to Richmond by Robert Byers. It is a Civil War era juvenile historical fiction chapter book that is 99 pages long, published by "By The Way Publications" in 2002.  It has sketches throughout, illustrating the characters of the story.

Although this book is currently out of print, I occasionally have seen it on ebay or We borrowed ours through The Family Vision Library.

Here is the report that my 3rd grader wrote, in her own words, about this book and her opinion of it. Perhaps it will be a book that you can use in your family, as you learn about the Civil War. We definitely recommend it!

The title of my book is "The Road To Richmond". The author is Robert Byers. It is a juvenile historical fiction book that is 99 pages long. 

The main character of this book is Joshua. He is fourteen years old. He wants to fight in the Civil War for his slave friend Terrance's freedom, but his father won't let him, so he runs away to join the Civil War. 

My favorite part of the book is when the war is over and Terrance gets his freedom and Joshua comes home. I like that part because it was neat for the family and the readers to see that God can protect us from evil even though the devil tries to get us down.

I think this is a good book because it is cool how God protected Joshua's father and Joshua in war. I recommend this book to people who like reading about history and the Civil War. 

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

This post is linked with Tuesday's Treasures at "Every Bed of Roses", highlighting favorite homeschool books.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: Curiosity Quest

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the opportunity to investigate topics that the kids are interested in, especially if they fall outside the normal scope of regularly scheduled schoolwork. Often the kids will learn about something and want to know more, or have questions, even though they have completed that chapter in their textbook. Homeschooling gives us the privilege to delve further into those topics, and even structure schoolwork around that curiosity!

Reviewing the DVD Combo Pack - Produce and the DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea was my first introduction to Curiosity Quest

Curiosity Quest is a family based educational show that is definitely geared towards children. In fact, children ages 7-14 are included in every episode, and are the target audience. Children can write a letter to the show, asking a question that states something they are curious about. At the beginning of each episode, show host Joel Greene reads the question that inspired that particular episode, then sets off on an adventure to find the answers to that question. Along the way, children are included in the show, asking and answering interview questions.

Each episode lasts about 30 minutes, and the DVD combo packs have 3 different topics included, for 90 minutes of viewing time. The shows move along quickly, and are very well done with enthusiastic people, close up shots of amazing things, and plenty of catchy music and graphics. They thoroughly explore the topics, whether it is showing video of cool animals or food harvesting. The host, Joel Greene, totally immerses himself into the show by taking on the role of a person who is learning right alongside the viewers. Whether he is harvesting mushrooms, picking oranges, or feeding penguins, he keeps up a funny and entertaining non-stop dialogue throughout the show, with plenty of high energy enthusiasm.

What did we learn about? On the Produce DVD Combo Pack we learned that cranberries are harvested by flooding their field! The girls were "grossed out" by the mushroom growing process, and they were amazed at how much work it is to pick and harvest oranges! On the Swimmers of the Sea Combo Pack the girls were thrilled to watch and learn about penguins, sea turtles, and salmon. The highlights of these shows were when Joel Greene had to feed the penguins, and of course, seeing the baby sea turtles. The girls laughed so hard over the children demonstrating the sounds a penguin makes, and they were amazed that people work so hard to move the salmon to the right locations so they can continue their life cycles even when nature has made this difficult.

Not just for children! We started the DVD's one evening with just Melissa and Kelly watching (ages 8 and 12). Just a few minutes into the show, other family members began straggling in, attracted to the fun sounding DVD playing in the living room. The entire family was very captivated by these shows, learned a lot from each one, and really enjoyed watching them.

What else is available? Curiosity Quest has other videos available, as well as a monthly membership which can be purchased to receive two new episodes every month. Curiosity Quest also has a YouTube Channel. Joel Greene writes a blog and posts neat pictures and updates about future Curiosity Quest adventures.

How much do the DVD Combo Packs sell for? Each Combo Pack includes 1 DVD containing 3 separate 30 minute episodes, for a total of 90 minutes of viewing time. Each Combo Pack is $24.95.

One Note: On the sea turtle episode, one of the workers interviewed does make a slight evolutionary reference when discussing the history of the sea turtles. While I don't personally think it detracts from the DVD in any way, I did want to make mention of it for those who would be concerned over it, and would want to discuss it with their children when watching the videos.

Personal Inspiration: Watching the DVD's inspired a few other projects here in our home.

Kelly drew some sea turtles:

We truly enjoyed having the privilege of watching and learning from Curiosity Quest, and hope you will check out some of the other reviews from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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GF/DF Orange Cranberry Bread

Thanks to a set of videos we reviewed from Curiosity Quest, we recently learned how oranges and cranberries are grown and harvested. This led to baking a batch of delicious Orange Cranberry Bread!

As usual, we adapted several recipes and then combined them to make a safe, gluten and dairy free version of bread.

Here is my final version of the recipe:

1 orange (up to 3 will be necessary if you wish to squeeze the fresh orange juice from them for this recipe) {Or you can use 3/4 tsp. of dried, shredded orange peel}
3/4 c. orange juice (fresh squeezed or a 'not from concentrate' brand)
1 egg (can use Ener-G egg replacer w/o compromising the texture much at all)
2 TBS Canola oil
2 C. Gluten free flour blend
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xantham gum
3/4 c. chopped fresh cranberries

For the glaze:
1 TBS. powdered sugar
3/4 c. orange juice

Oven: 350 degrees

Bake time will depend on what size pans you use - we like mini loaves, which take about 35 minutes to bake.

Using a zester, peel about 1/2 the orange and chop the orange zest into tiny pieces. You can skip this by using dried orange peel sold in the spice section, but use less - about 3/4 tsp. If using fresh peel, use about 1 1/2 tsp of zest.

In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xantham gum.

In a smaller bowl, stir together wet ingredients: orange juice, oil, and beaten egg.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into that well. Stir gently until just combined.

Finely chop the cranberries in  a food processor or mini chopper. Gently fold the chopped cranberries into the batter until just combined.

Pour batter into pre-greased pans and bake. Baking time will depend on what size pans you use. Mini loaves (this recipe will make 3 mini loaves) take about 35-40 minutes. A full size loaf will take about 70 minutes.

After removing from the oven, cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then completely cool on racks.

When cooled, mix up the glaze ingredients. Use more juice or powdered sugar as necessary until a thick, but runny glaze is accomplished. Gently pour this glaze over the cooled loaves, allowing it to harden before slicing them.

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Supercharged Science

We had the wonderful privilege of reviewing the e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. For this review we received a 6 month premium membership to the entire Science Learning Space.

What is Supercharged Science? It is a complete online scientific world for children created by Aurora Lipper, a real life rocket scientist! Aurora passionately strives to teach scientific methods and principles to students through a jam-packed website full of ideas and experiments.

What age range is it suited for? Supercharged Science is appropriate for Kindergarten through twelfth grade students, and specifically targets homeschool students who need a complete science curriculum.

How is Supercharged Science set up? When a student signs up and first logs on, they will be greeted with a home page that looks something like this:

As you can see from this example, there is a lot available to choose from. It can be very overwhelming when first joining. In the upper right corner is a video and "getting started" section that gives step by step instructions for working through the program. 

Are all scientific disciplines covered?  This can be used as a complete curriculum that covers all areas of scientific study. There are basic "getting started" units that teach the student how to form a hypothesis, the value of the scientific method, and keeping a science journal. As the student works through the levels, new units are unlocked and made available on a monthly basis. (Although if there is an area that you need to study and it is not yet open to the student, this can be changed by emailing Aurora and asking for access to the desired unit). There are twenty complete units (with 60-80 experiments each) that cover these topics: mechanics, motion, matter, energy, sound, astrophysics, light, chemistry, electricity, magnetism, alternative energy, thermodynamics, electronics, life science, biology, and earth science. 

Bonus features: There is also a Mathemagic unit, a Science Fair projects unit, and a teacher resources unit. The teacher helps alone are extremely helpful and necessary. So many students 'hate' science and do poorly, because they just are not inspired to see how interesting it can be. Aurora is able to transfer her enthusiasm for science into the videos as well as into the parent/teacher instructional helps. For "non-science" parents trying to teach their children at home, her easy methods and helps are extremely valuable. 

What does a typical lesson look like? When a unit is selected, there are several different resources available. Since I have used this program with two very different children, I was able to see that not everything needs to be done in the same order. A typical lesson has introductory materials, both reading and video. MP3 downloads are also available. There will be a list of needed supplies for the experiments (which are mostly items you will find around the house, with the exception of some of the more intricate chemistry and electronics supplies), as well as pdf lessons to download for the student to complete. Depending on the student, some like to watch the videos first and see what happens, before completing the experiments and working through the worksheets. Others like to study the concepts first through the worksheets and reading, then complete the experiments afterwards.  This program allows the flexibility for you as a parent to figure out what method works best for your own children. 

New for this year: You may recall that we reviewed Supercharged Science last year. During last year's review, I focused on high school work with my older kids. This year, I decided to see how my 3rd grader did with the program. I was thrilled to find that Supercharged Science not only has the topics listed by unit but also added a page where topics are organized according to grade level. While there is still a lot of freedom to choose what to study in the grade level itself, I found this made choosing topics and getting started much easier, when I did not have to sort through piles of experiments to find ones that I thought my 3rd grader could grasp. Here is the 3rd grade lesson home page: 

As you can see, the scientific concepts on the 3rd grade page were earth science, physics, astronomy, and life science. These were consistent with the curriculum we already used this year. The only addition we made was investigating a bit in the biology unit, since we studied Anatomy & Physiology in depth this year. For the purpose of this review, we mainly focused on Physics, Life Science, and Biology (human anatomy). 

What I really like: There is a lot to like about this program. The experiments are fun, usually simple to recreate, relevant to the lesson material, and there are plenty to choose from! The support is amazing. Aurora is readily available through phone or email to answer questions. There are also opportunities to post questions on each lesson. Often when we had a question, we would find that by reading through the other questions and responses, we would find answers. Other students also posted there about tips and tricks that might have given a slightly different outcome to the experiments, and we found some neat things to try because of that as well. Also, the way the experiments are set up just lends itself to the student asking questions such as "I wonder what would happen if we did it this way instead?" If you are looking for a science program that will inspire your students to form questions and investigate the answers to them, then this would be a great fit. 

Any drawbacks? I found the pdf worksheets were just too heavy for my 3rd grader. While they were very appropriate for my high schooler, they are very plain and required more writing than what I was looking for. I would love to see more age appropriate worksheets for the younger elementary set. Perhaps worksheets that included graphics, word matching, crossword puzzles, or fill in the blanks could help review the concepts more effectively in a written manner. 

How much does it cost? The full K-12 access plan is $57 per month, but if you purchase access for only K-8, it is $37 per month. At the time of this review, Supercharged Science is offering a trial membership to the entire program for just $1 with no strings attached. 

How did we use it? I know this is the part you were waiting for.....I have told you all about the program and why I like it....Now I am going to show you a few of the experiments we did!

One of the first experiments we did this year was to microwave soap! The girls were fascinated by the outcome of this experiment, and this one small, simple, (supposed to be quick) experiment led to a nearly hour long fascination with microwaving (and re-microwaving). Did you know that the consistency of Ivory soap makes it conducive to microwaving? Other soaps do not respond the same way that Ivory does in a microwave. The girls learned a lot about so many different topics through this experiment, including how microwaves work, how molecules behave, and how variations can make experiments much more interesting! 

We also built a stethoscope out of basic household materials....and it really worked! 

But the balloon race cars were the crowning achievement of our review of Supercharged Science:

After watching the video, we quickly gathered materials and built a balloon race car. In fact, we built two! (You can't have a race with only one!) It was so easy that even the 3rd grader, by just watching the video, could completely build the racer with almost no help at all! (Great educational entertainment right there). 

This was an experiment where having all the previous comments posted proved very helpful. We were able to read what went wrong for others, and it helped us to fix our race cars when they were having troubles. It was so much fun that the girls started to think through improvements that they could make to their cars to make them run faster. This ended up in building yet another race car that could hold two balloons instead of one, to see if it would run even faster! 

The balloon race cars were so much fun that the girls never even realized they were learning all about laws of Physics while racing them across the living room. 

I included a short video clip of our balloon race cars for your enjoyment:


Overall, I think Supercharged Science is a phenomenal and very thorough homeschool science curriculum and I am so thankful for the privilege of reviewing it and sharing it with you again this year!

Aurora Lipper is very active in social media, and always pins really cool science stuff on Pinterest as well. Here is how you can follow along:  Aurora Lipper on Pinterest 

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Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

American History "Great Depression Era" Cake

As we have been working through the 20th century, we studied quite a bit about the Depression Era, and the accompanying hardships that it brought to Americans.

As a food allergy family, we are already used to cooking 'without' many ingredients that most people would deem absolutely necessary to making a cake taste palatable, but this cooking challenge was a little different. Instead, we pretended that we were a family with very limited resources during the Great Depression, and Melissa baked a cake that was "eggless, milkless, and butterless" without using ANY of our regular substitutes for those particular ingredients.

We found a vintage "Great Depression" Cake on Pinterest, from a blog called "Blissfully Content", and used that particular recipe. The author also has some other fun recipes on there for stew and corn bread!

Melissa made the cake using these simple ingredients: water, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, shortening (lard), nutmeg, salt, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. The recipe did call for raisins, but since Melissa was the baker and she doesn't like them cooked into her food, she omitted them. She just pretended that the family having this particular cake did not even have raisins available to add to their baking!

This cake tastes a lot like spice cake, and was very tasty for not having any eggs or butter in it! It is a fun and easy recipe, and really brings home the idea of "doing without" like so many were forced to do during the Great Depression.

Melissa used two separate pans and made small cakes - one in a round, mini bundt pan, and the other in a mini loaf pan.

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.