Merry Christmas to All!

Dec 25, 2011

Oops! Where's Levi?

You didn't really think we'd get two good photos in a row, did you?

Merry Christmas!

May your day be filled with
love, blessings, and the joy of Christ!

Clever Dragons Review

Dec 19, 2011

Like it or not, we are raising a tech-savvy generation. My boys are drawn to electronic games and devices like a moth to a flame. I could fight it or I could use it to my their advantage, when possible. Blogging has given me opportunities to try several different educational websites with my boys. So far, the one that has been the biggest hit with both mother and son is Clever Dragons, an educational website exclusively for boys, ages 7-12. It just launched last month as the "brother" site to Always Icecream, an educational website exclusively for girls.

Of course, we loved the theme right away! Knights, dragons, castles. Your son creates his own "Mini Me" that represents him in the games and learning community. The objective is to collect gold coins by completing levels of various educational activities and then use the coins to build your own castle and to take care of your pet dragon or other animal. The activities are not your typical arcade-style games with lots of action. They are mostly multiple choice type questions with plenty of repetition to build mastery. The mastery part was what impressed me.

In States of the USA, you have to locate and click on states on a blank outline map. At first, it seems like too much repetition, because you have to find the same handful of states over and over again. If you click the wrong one, it shows you the answer before continuing. But as you begin to consistently give correct answers, new states are added in. Each level builds on the previous one until you have learned the location of all 50 states. As any homeschool parent/educator knows, repetition is the key to memorizing and mastering facts.

In addition to geography, there are learning games and quizzes on math, science, language arts, keyboard skills, and even classical music and the Bible. Isaac has discovered that he enjoys classical music and has learned about several composers so far. It fits in with our Charlotte Mason style very well. A picture of the composer is shown, along with some facts about him and the name of the piece that is playing. Then the child is quizzed on the the information, all while listening to the music.

Security is a big deal, as children are learning how to safely interact in an online environment. If you allow your son to join the learning community, you'll be glad to know that it is moderated and all comments have to be approved before they are posted. As a parent, you'll set up your own free account so you can control the social features (learning community), keep track of your son's progress and activity, and dole out gold coins for whatever reason you see fit (chores, attitude, reaching goals, etc.). It was a nice surprise to discover that I had my own "allowance" of gold coins to reward my son with. You also have the ability to earn free months of membership by referring new members to the site and there is a fundraising option for organizations.

To keep Clever Dragons free of advertising, you do have to pay for membership. Due to the personalized nature of the program, each son needs to have his own account. Here's the breakdown:

  • Monthly subscription: $4.99/month (first month is $0.99)
  • Two-months membership: $9.98 (perfect for summer break)
  • 12 month membership: $29.99 (Holiday special - extended membership until 7/1/12 for a total of 18 months!)
  • Lifetime membership: $99.99 (this would be the best deal for boys under 10)

Disclaimer: I received a free lifetime membership in exchange for this review. All opinions are my honest evaluation of the website.

Truth in the Tinsel: 12 Days Til Christmas Sale

Dec 12, 2011

Just a couple of days ago, after seeing all of the good reviews, I finally purchased Truth in the Tinsel to use with my hobbits. I printed it off, slipped the pages into page protectors, and added it to my new Christmas binder. It's a great way to shine more light on Jesus for the little ones this Christmas. My plan was to start today (late, of course, because that's how I roll) and follow one of the alternate schedules listed in the back of the book. {I'm trying to type this quickly so we can get started. Levi is excited and tugging at my arm.} What we don't get to this year, we will get to next year because I'll be ready for it.

If you're like me and don't mind being late for the party, today's your lucky day! You can use the code 12DAYS to save 20% on Truth in the Tinsel. But it's for today only! If you're not sure now, but decide tomorrow or later that you want it, the regular price is still reasonable at only $4.99.

Disclaimer: I liked the Truth in the Tinsel ebook so much, I decided to become an affiliate and spread the word.

Moments to Remember

Dec 11, 2011

This week, I'm joining Carisa and Jolanthe in their Moments to Remember link-up. Here are several pictures of happenings in our homeschool this week.

LJ stringing beads, completely uninterested in my efforts to help him create patterns, while M2 periodically scatters them and knocks them on the floor

IB practicing place value (and stacking the tens and ones into little pyramids)

M3's work-in-progress (I call it "Auto Mechanics") 

NG helping IB make cookies for IB's Cub Scout cookie exchange


8 DIY Christmas Crafts Using Epsom Salts

Dec 4, 2011

It all started yesterday with this post by Melissa from The Inspired Room. I loved all of her simple DIY Christmas craft ideas, but the Jingle Bell Mason jar really caught my attention. With recycled jars and Epsom salts on hand, I only needed some twine, jingle bells, votive candles, and a couple of tiny bottle-brush trees (with the Christmas villages). All easy enough to find at your local WalMart or craft store. Hopefully, I'll find some time to work on them tomorrow. Of course, I'll post pictures. Here is some inspiration for creating your own simply snowy decorations.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room

Advent-ful Ideas: Part 2

Dec 2, 2011

Recently, I shared a small sampling of advent calendar projects from around the web. It didn't take long to figure out which one I would make, but I did need a little inspiration for 24 days worth of activities.
Passionate Homemaking
  • Click HERE to see what advent activities Erika at has planned and print off her numbered Advent Ornaments. 
With all of the fun ideas to choose from, I was finally able to make my own list. Although, there were lots more things that I liked but couldn't fit in. Maybe next year. There are specific activities planned for Papa Bear's days off, but many of the other ones can be moved around as necessary because I used sticky notes on the back of the tags.

Here is our advent line-up for this year:
  1. Make the first batch of hot cocoa for the season - Done!
  2. Make paper snowflakes
  3. Pop popcorn & watch Polar Express
  4. Put up Christmas tree & outside lights
  5. Record boys' heights on wall in hallway (new tradition!)
  6. Play a board game or two
  7. Listen to Christmas music all day
  8. Snuggle on the couch & read Christmas books
  9. Make mini muffins & deliver to neighbors
  10. Color Christmas pictures
  11. Bundle up & take a walk through the Christmas light display at the park
  12. Go ice skating outside at the winter festival
  13. Get out Nativity block set
  14. Make cookies
  15. Deliver cookies to sheriff's office
  16. Invite boys' neighborhood friends over for hot cocoa & cookies
  17. Go through old toys and clothes for donating
  18. Watch It's a Wonderful Life
  19. The Minivan Express
  20. Read The Night Before Christmas
  21. Build a gingerbread house
  22. Make a snowman (weather permitting, of course!)
  23. Watch The Nativity Story
  24. Go to grandparents' house for dinner & presents
  25. Merry Christmas! 
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