A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

If You Were Me and Lived In...

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We were selected to review a great series of children's books!  If You Were Me and Lived in... books describe what life is like in other cultures.  These books by Carole P. Roman, author of the Captain No Beard books, are geared toward kids from pre-K to age 8, although my bigger kids enjoyed them, too.  These books from Away We Go Media range in price from $9.99-$11.99 and are available in paperback or Kindle versions.

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This was a great review for us!  We studied several different countries last year.  I would have loved to have had these books then!  Short and interesting, they would make a great introduction to each new country we learned about.

If You Were Me and Lived in... Mexico... tied in well with our current studies, as we've been learning about pyramids, and it talks about Chichen Itza, a pyramid shaped Mayan Temple.

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South Korea was new to us, since we didn't study it last year, but we discussed how South Korea and China have some similarities.

If You Were Me and Lived in... South Korea... mentions eating with metal chopsticks, which my 16 year old thought was odd, as metal is conductive, and the book had just mentioned the very hot surface used to cook Korean BBQ.  So we did some research online.  Poking around, we found a place that had 10 pairs of metal Korean chopsticks for under thirty bucks.  Brianna said, "Let's see, I could knit with one pair, stab my brothers with one pair..."  Personally, I would have mentioned eating with them, but what do I know?  

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France was a fun country for us last year, so we looked forward to getting to If You Were Me and Lived In... France.  (I did have to keep these in my room to space them out, otherwise the kids would have read them all on their own in a day!)

Eli's having an M&M cookie instead of tasty crepes, but we remembered making crepes last year when we studied France.  Actually, we remembered quite a lot from last year!  When I read this book, I'd pause, and Eli filled in, "Euros!" or "Eiffel Tower!"  We also made a new connection about the name Lumiere in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast when we learned about Paris being called City of Light due to being the first city in Europe to have gas street lamps.  

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If You Were Me and Lived in... Norway... is so new, it's not even on the website yet!

We received the blow up globe (pictured with Katie, above) with the books, and I was very pleased that Jack was able to locate all 4 countries by himself!  What a change from the beginning of last school year!  Again, I was surprised at Eli shouting out, "Aurora borealis!" when I paused on the page about the SNOW HOTEL (you can bet we had some conversations about that!) where people go to see the northern lights.

Even though Hannah was the only one of my kids in the suggested age range, all the kids liked these books.  In fact, Hannah missed a couple of them when she was at school, so I let her take those to bed to "read" on her own.

I hope to see more countries in this fun and educational series.  


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Thank you!

I woke up to my 100th follower on Google Friend Connect (over there in the right sidebar) today!

I started this blog as an adoption blog, and a general blog about our family.  Since we homeschool, it seemed to morph into a homeschool blog, too.  After getting involved with some blogging groups, new doors have been opened for me to do reviews.

Whether you're here to learn about adopting from China, or adoptive parenting in general, or how doable special needs are; or you're here because you homeschool, maybe you use the same curriculum we do and like to see other families doing the same stuff (or what you'll be doing next year); or you're here because of the giveaways, or you found us through a giveaway and think we're a fascinating train wreck to watch; thank you.

I don't want to be all about the numbers, but inevitably, there is something I want to review that's just out of my reach by some yardstick or another.  So, a HUGE thanks to everyone who follows me on facebook, twitter, sverve, GFC, bloglovin, pinterest, instagram, etc.  And thank you for your patience while I figure out a good balance between family posts and review posts.

Because, while I enjoy reviewing, family is what it's all about around here.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Great Voyages of Zheng He review

I have a fascinating book to share with you today!  I received The Great Voyages of Zheng He for review from Kite Readers.  

As you know, China holds a piece of my heart, so I was very excited about this book.  I knew absolutely nothing of Zheng He, so I was very surprised to learn that in the 1400s, China had an amazing armada of over 300 ships and that Zheng He led 7 great diplomatic voyages to other countries as far away as Africa!  

I, of course, took the opportunity to incorporate pictures from our trips to China when appropriate, so the kids could see these thing happened in REAL places, where I've actually been.  This is the Forbidden City, which emperor Zhu Di, who appointed Zhang He Admiral of the Navy, rebuilt and expanded.  

Zhu Di also strengthened The Great Wall.

The book mentions Nanjing, where we met Hannah, too.  

We Americans seem to think history started in 1492 sometimes.  But China was already an international superpower, receiving tribute from more than 30 foreign states when Europe was still in the Dark Ages.  

This beautiful book is both written and illustrated by Demi, author of more than 100 children's books.  It is available in both Kindle and hardcover editions, and is a book I think every family with Chinese kids should strongly consider adding to their home library.  I'm glad for books like these, that I can use to help instill cultural pride in Katie and Hannah, and when we hit the 1400s in our chronological study of world history (next year or the following year), I will be sure we read this one again to help the kids establish what an amazing accomplishment these Great Voyages were, in the context of what was going on in the rest of the world.  

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stories of the Pilgrims review and Audio Book Collection GIVEAWAY

I have a treasure to share with you today!  We have been listening to Stories of the Pilgrims from Jim Hodges Audio Books.  This is a great audio book to lead into the Thanksgiving season!

I do a lot of reading aloud to the kids, and I've enjoyed having someone else do some of the reading.  Most of the 43 chapters are brief, and the kids always begged for another one, and another one after that!

When I asked Jack, age 9, to tell me which chapter he liked best, his eyes lit up.  "Probably the first chapter of part two.  Where the boys escape from the Indians.  And the part where the girls use the pumpkins to scare the Indians away!"  --I knew someone would mention that part!  It was one of my favorites, too.  (Although the mother in me wonders how they managed to not set the straw on fire...!)

Eli, age 12, says, "It's a great thing to sit and listen to!"  He liked to curl up in his beanbag chair and make paracord bracelets while listening.

"I like to listen to them in morning, when we're not quite ready to homeschool and I can sit and work on a knitting project," says Brianna, age 13.  "It even mentions knitting in the story, when they were in Holland.  All the Holland chapters are happy ones."

Josiah's favorite chapter was the story where a little boy almost blew up the pilgrims' ship!

Our home has an open floorplan, and the stories played in the upstairs school room carry quite well to my husband's downstairs office, a fact I was unaware of until he mentioned wanting to hear the next installment!  Once I realized he was listening, too, we only played them on days when he was home so he could enjoy them with us.

I liked this audio book as much as the kids did, although I did feel the need to pause it at one point and discuss the way the Indians were portrayed.  I was uncomfortable with the impression of ignorance that was conveyed.  We discussed how Native Americans lived off the land and had their own culture that the pilgrims did not understand or appreciate.  --We also had to stop and watch the Savages song from Pocahontas, because when we heard the Indians referred to in the audio book as savages, we ended up with it stuck in our heads.  (Although, seeing the lyrics printed out?  Yikes!)

Eli colors the Mayflower (link in Study Guide) while listening

There is a Study Guide, which I asked the children some questions from, but we did not print and use the worksheets as assignments.  The study guide also contains links to craft projects and more information we could pursue online, including video clips.  It would make a great springboard to an entire unit study, or you could pick and choose a few enrichments from it like we did.

Brianna coloring a stork page (link in Study Guide).  Who knew Hollanders revered storks??

Starting November 1, Stories of the Pilgrims will be on SALE for only $15!  The study guide is available for $5.  And even more exciting is this opportunity for you to win not only Stories of the Pilgrims, but 400 hours worth of downloadable audio books!

WIN this amazing collection of downloadable audio books from Jim Hodges!  Click here for a complete list of the titles included.  I even saw one that I know My Father's World curriculum uses in high school.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read what other families had to say about Stories of the Pilgrims:

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Do you know about Sverve?

If you're a blogger, you should know about Sverve!  Sverve is a community of women bloggers connecting with brands that are looking for influencers!

Here's how it works:  You sign up and provide your areas of influence.  What do you write about?  I chose adoption, homeschooling, special needs, large families, and sewing, but you can pick anything that suits YOU.

You can share links to your blog and specific blog posts as "tips" on Sverve.  You can endorse and follow other bloggers, and see their tips, too.

When a campaign comes up that you are interested in, you apply, and if you are chosen to participate, the brand sends you their product.  Some reviews are in exchange for product, and some are paid reviews.

The better your Sverve "score," a measure of your social influence, the more campaigns you are eligible for.  Sometimes "big" brands or pricey products want to be sure that their review will have the greatest amount of reach.

If you're not on Sverve, please consider signing up using my link.  If you are already on Sverve, please take a moment to endorse and follow me, and I will return the favor!  If you've been wondering, "How can I get started reviewing products on my blog?" this is a great way to begin!

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Monday, October 28, 2013

EEME Review

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The science of electronics has been sadly neglected in our homeschool.

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So I was very happy to be selected to review the Project Genius Light Kit from EEME.

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This is the first in a series of kits, available by monthly subscription.

The suggested ages for these kits are 7-12.  My reviewers are 9, 12, and 13 years old.  

As you can see in this picture, even the 16 year old is interested in the engaging instruction videos on the EEME website.  I liked the super simple (no password) log in on the site.  The videos are free to watch, and the site is easy to navigate.  Just enter your email address here to preview the videos and see if EEME is right for your family.

My kids built the light kit project while watching the video, taking turns putting the next piece together.  

We all (even me!) learned new vocabulary words.  

We also gained an understanding of how the breadboard works and why the light does or does not light up under various circumstances.  

We broke the project up into two sessions on different days.  I loved the small bites of information that made this so easy to do!  The video clips are SHORT!  You can do as many or as few as you want in one sitting.  

This second day we worked on this, Jack was not feeling well, so he climbed up in my lap while we watched the videos and Eli did the actual work part.  

Interspersed in the video clips are some multiple choice comprehension questions.  With instant feedback, you know right away if your child is understanding the information or not.  

After you finish the lesson, you get an email asking you for feedback.
Eli enjoyed this project so much that I decided to purchase a subscription.  Subscriptions cost $18.95/month.  I emailed back and forth with customer service to make sure I could start with kit 2, and the emails were prompt and helpful.

You can connect with EEME on Facebook or Twitter.
We're very much looking forward to EEME being part of our homeschooling from now on!  


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