Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Switching Curriculum Mid-Year {On a Budget}



It's a few months into our "school year" and about time to take a step back and see if what we are doing is working. For the most part, what I planned and scheduled for the year is working out, but some things do in fact need to be switched around! If you are anything like me, and realize that some of the curriculum you have been trying just is not a good fit, then you wonder how you can switch materials on a budget! 

I buy most of my curriculum at the beginning of the year and try to plan for an entire year in advance, (we school from August through June with several breaks). If I am going to fork out extra cash midyear, then I better be sure that it is something that will work for my child! Before I get online and purchase everything and anything that has received a good review from someone else, (though VERY tempting at times) I try to see what I can change around, with what I have. 

Sometimes, I forget about the resources I have on hand already collecting dust in my basement. I forget about it and then am drawn to the shiny, glittery new packages that I can order online! For example, my pre-schooler did not show any signs of reading readiness this summer but all of a sudden is starting to show interest! I was planning on focusing on reading next year, but fortunately, now is the time that she is ready! As soon as I realized this, I was tempted to go ahead and buy the materials that worked for my middle son. But then I thought about it and realized I had a similar workbook and other manipulatives that I could use in place of what I was planning on buying. I know it may seem obvious, you know, to use what you have on hand, but it is so easy to get caught up in the "am I doing enough?" mentality as a homeschool parent that you are willing to spend extra money that doesn't need to be spent!

I have changed some things around with all my children and fortunately have only spent a few dollars. I did end up buying one e-book as a biographical resource but I'm thinking for the biographies needed in his history for the rest of the year, I'll stick with the library! I had to switch my spelling program with my oldest but fortunately didn't have to spend any money there. I also changed around our history curriculum. I loved the curriculum we were using but the cost of printing ink is just so crazy that I chose to switch to one where I have all the materials on hand already! 

If you are in need of some serious switching here are some ideas on how to survive the change; on a budget. 

1) Something Old: Look around at the resources that you may have found at curriculum fairs, Goodwill or yard sales. If your student simply needs to work on one or two subjects, see if you can make what you have work rather than spending too much right now and starting completely from scratch. Don't be afraid to mix and match and make it work for your child.

2) Something New: Maybe you have the teacher's manual for a new science unit you'd like to try with your child. Check sites such as Rainbow Resources or Christianbook.com to see if they have discounted workbooks. Consumable materials do need to be purchased new but you don't always have to pay full price for them!

3) Something Borrowed: Do you know anyone else teaching the same materials that you are looking for? Maybe they have children within the same age range. Don't be afraid to ask to borrow materials, especially teacher's guides and media materials!

4) Something Blue: Just kidding. I've got nothing on this one.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages {Review}

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
     Recently, my third grader has been able to work on his Spanish skills using the Middlebury Interactive Languages program available for children in grades K-12. This program offers courses in several different languages including Spanish, French, Chinese and German.We chose to work with the Spanish Courses geared towards students in grades 3-5 ($119.00). Below is a list of the courses they currently offer and for which grades.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
We live in an area with an extremely large Spanish speaking population, so it only makes sense to have my children learn the language, at least a little! I figure, this is the age where they can pick up languages easier so I want to be sure to take full advantage of this opportunity! My son took one semester of Spanish in first grade at a private school but we haven't really pursued it much more since then! 

This program took what he knew to an entirely different level! For example, he knows how to count to ten in Spanish, no problem. But this program doesn't simply focus on being able but it takes learning numbers to a whole new level! The student learns how to say phone numbers and even recites his own phone number! I loved this idea because it made him use his brain! He was forced to think of numbers in Spanish other than in order from one to ten. At first he was frustrated because he actually had to stop and think about what he was saying, but once he did it a few times he got the hang of it. What a great skill gained!
This program is entirely online and we used it on our PC based computers. It is good to have a microphone for the speaking labs but I'm sure you could work around it if you don't have one. The program is broken up into different units. Each unit has six lessons. There are quizzes throughout the lessons and a test on the last lesson of the unit. A new skill or concept is taught throughout each unit. The first lesson of each unit begins with a story. The story is animated and spoken entirely in Spanish. The words are written on the bottom of the screen, in Spanish, with the keywords highlighted that will be important for the present lesson and unit. At first this seemed overwhelming since there were clearly words that my son did not understand in these stories. But since the main words were highlighted, in reality, those were the only words that needed to be focused on at the time. 

I liked this approach because it taught him the words in context from the beginning rather than just presenting him with a list of English/Spanish words to memorize. The story usually to repeated more than once with a goal for the child to attain so he can pick out specific words that will be the focal point of the lesson. 

I appreciated the variety of activities in the lessons. The program is not only user friendly but child friendly. On the right hand side of the screen are all of the parts to the lesson that the child can click on until he completes the lesson. I simply would set it up each day for him and he would work through the lesson on his own, with ease. There was then a place where I, the teacher, could look at his work, quizzes and tests to see how he did. There is a grade book  and a calendar with the assignments. 

My son's favorite aspect of this program were the speaking labs. During this portion of the lesson the student speaks his answer into the microphone. He can then hear his response. He loved not only recording himself but listening to himself speaking Spanish when he could playback what he just spoke!

Overall, we enjoyed this program. There were no headaches or tears and my son grew leaps and bounds in his Spanish skills! My only conflict with this program is with some of the stories used. Personally, we don't advocate magic and several of the fairy tales incorporated magic into the stories. Although this program isn't entirely for us, I see how this would work successfully for many homeschool students and think this would be an excellent resource in many homes!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Homeschool Science {Giveaway}


@GroovyLabinaBox #STEM #giveaway perfect for #homeschool science curriculum


Sponsored by: Groovy Lab in a Box


Hosted by:  The Squishable Baby

Homeschoolers! Here's a giveaway I think you'll enjoy! A year subscription to a science curriculum that has experiments delivered throughout the year right to your doorstep!
Groovy Lab in a Box is a monthly subscription STEM box with comprehensive hands-on activities in engineering, physics, chemistry and math.  Your child will be treated to a full year-long science curriculum - focused on developing experimentation, creativity, and problem solving skills - all while creating a love for science.  Groovy Lab in a Box is fun, engaging and complete science learning experience.  Look at how much we enjoyed our launch-it box...

and

All of the monthly boxes are unique.  With one investigation a month, your child will get a full learning experience through Groovy Lab in a box's Beyond the Box which includes supplemental videos, games and online activities.  By the time your year is complete, your child will receive exposure to all branches of science!

This is the perfect for your year-long homeschool science curriculum

Enter Below for your chance to win a 1-Year Subscription to Groovy Lab in a Box.






Giveaway open October 14-November 4, 2014.  
Open to US residents only. 
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The Squishable Baby, Thrift Schooling and all participating Bloggers are not responsible for prize distribution.

Monday, October 13, 2014

On the Banks of Plum Creek


We drove by this place over the summer and my kids immediately thought of the book in the Little House on the Prairie series, On the Banks of Plum Creek! This totally reminded us of their "underground" house (well, sort of)! 

Now, I am not going to share with you the name or location of this place because I am avidly against the New Age practices that this spa partakes in. But, I did want to share the image simply as an underground home visual, because honestly I had never seen a structure like this before! I so wanted to run over the top of the building when we drove by, haha!

If you haven't read On the Banks of Plum Creek  yet I have to say it is one of my favorites in the series so far. Their experiences living in such a unique home in such a picturesque location near a creek, the grasshopper weather experience and long seasons with Pa away from home are inspirational and thought provoking! Such a great series to read aloud with your kids, one of our favorite times of our homeschool, by far!

Gold Collagen Face and Neck Mask



Here is a product that will make your skin feeling fresh, new and like a million bucks! The Nancy Reagan 24K Gold Collagen Face & Neck Mask brings the luxury of a spa facial to your home. It is specially formulated to bring back the luster and dewy glow of your skin. The 24K collagen masks can be easily used at home and the results are visible on the face within just 10-20 minutes of application. The mask hydrates and softens the skin thoroughly, while the essential vitamins and gold help reduce the fine lines and wrinkles.


 Mi Bella Reina, a health & beauty shopping website, means "my beautiful queen" in Spanish. The website and blog will help you find your beautiful queen. From skin care to makeup to aromatherapy and health, Bella Reina shows you simple, easy beauty and health tips for the busy woman who needs real results.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Knot Genie



Are you ready to join the hundreds of thousands of mamas who no longer dread the hair brushing drama? Some of the same mamas that gave the Knot Genie an overwhelming
100% thumbs up on 
Then the Knot Genie Detangling Brush is for you! 

The Knot Genie, Teeny Genie and Genie Supreme were created to not only to make brushing of even the most unruly hair effortless, but to create peace in your home at brush out time! The Knot Genie's unique bristles act like little "fingers" gently untangling knots and tangles. The Knot Genie doesn't have those little balls on the end of the bristles to trap knots, so they literally unravel! Choose from three sizes, the original Knot Genie, the Teeny Genie (perfect for small hands and small spaces like dance bags), and the handled Genie Supreme. You'll be amazed by the ease of brushing, as well as how Knot Genie virtually stops breakage and split ends. It works on all hair types, wet and dry. You don't need to brush hard for the Knot Genie to work its magic, keep brushing gently and soon you will see the knots in hair disappear!

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My readers can save $7 on any size or color of the famous Knot Genie when you use coupon code KGDEAL7 at checkout of Knot Genie's online store (U.S store only).

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Disclaimer: Thrift Schooling is not responsible for prize distribution of the Knot Genie. US entrants only. Winner has 48 hours to respond. I will receive the same product as the winner for the purpose of this post. I received no monetary compensation.

Collage.com Photo Books {Review}


If you are looking for the perfect Christmas gift this year, why not create your own? Collage.com allows you to upload your photos with a simple one-click process that is easier than any other photo book creator site that I've seen thus far! The biggest headache for creating photo gifts usually is uploading the perfect photos! 

Collage.com allows you to simply drag and drop your photos from your computer with a simple click. The easy-to-use uploading system allows you to not only pick pictures from your hard drive but there is a button that you can click that allows you to upload images from your Facebook, Flicker or Instagram accounts! 

And, the feature that surprised me the most was the button that allows you to pick images from the Internet! There is a daily limit as to how many images you can download using this feature but I loved it, and used it!

I ordered two photo books. A 20 page 11.5" x 8" hardcover and a 20 page 8" x 6" paperback. I was impressed with the quality of both.



The hardcover book I made into a homeschool yearbook to document our field trips and the highlights of our year! My children loved getting the book in the mail and sharing their adventures with guests when they visit our home!

 As soon as I was finished with the book I received a link to share the book online. I was thrilled that I was able to share our yearbook with family members that live far away!

The softcover book is the one that I used images from the Internet. My oldest child adores cats, so I found cute and entertaining cat photos using the search feature on the site and created a cat book for my son, (it's a stocking stuffer so please don't let the cat  out the bag on this one!)


Anyways, what make Collage.com stand out from the rest is their, well, collages. You can choose a design or create your own to insert your images. For example, for a wedding album you can have all your images in collage form in the shape of a wedding cake. For a homeschool yearbook they can be in the shape of a house. For a sporting team memory book create your collage in the shape of a soccer ball! The sky is the limit with your creativity making these books!

Just in time for the holidays, Collage.com is offering you 51% off a 20 page 11.5" x 8" hardcover book, just follow this link.


Disclaimer: Thank you to Collage.com and US Family Guide for providing the free products mentioned in this post for the purpose of the review. All opinions stated here are my own.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sell Your Goods Online

So, I just wanted to let you in on a little secret. Have you ever wondered if there was a place that you could sell your goods online for the homeschool, homesteading, homespun market? 

Well, soon and VERY soon I will be sharing with you that place. Don't get me wrong, I love Etsy. I use Ebay. But sometimes, it's the community that you are after. The people that will fall in love with your product as much as you do! 

So if I seem distant, it's because I am. Aside from teaching the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria this week and getting up early to witness the blood moon (thanks for nothing, clouds,) I am presently working on setting up shop on this new site where I will be selling my husband's blacksmithing items, maple syrup and homemade creations from my kids! So if you think I'm quiet, that's why! 

Looking forward to sharing this NEW site with you! And, soon!

Moses Leads the People {Review}


From the creators of The Adventure Bible, now comes an easy reader about Moses! This easy, I CAN READ Reader is a level 2 reader designed for developing readers. Moses Leads the People begins with Moses' experience with God at the burning bush. This moment reminded me that our God is an experiential God. A personal God. God met with Moses and gave him a mission. A mission that seemed impossible and unlikely but possible with God. When Moses was alone with God, He received encouragement, instruction and a glimpse into the will of God for God's people. The story then progresses into Moses' experience with Pharoah, the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. 

This book came at a very timely manner to our homeschool since our pastor just preached on the crossing of the Red Sea this past Sunday! The story was still fresh in my children's little minds and they were able to enjoy this book in light of what they had just learned this past week! I love to have resources to use in our homeschool that are both based on Scripture and educational! This reader is perfect! My seven year old was able to read this book with ease and confidence. It wasn't too short like many readers but long enough to make him feel like he accomplished something when he finished the last page! The younger ones enjoyed listening to the story and will be able to read it soon enough. 

The pictures, by David Miles, depicted the story well. The story of the plagues can be gruesome if you really think about it, but these images were done in tact and appropriately to get the message across that God punished the Egyptians but spared the Israelites! My middle son loves the story of God's protection!


Disclaimer: A big thank you to the Book Look bloggers program for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions stated are my own.

The Legend of the Candy Cane {Review}


The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy by Lori Walburg shares an inspiring tale of symbolism for the Candy Cane! This cute board book is a perfect fit for children of all ages, recommended for 4-8.

With the holidays right around the corner, merchants all across the board continue to remind what this season has become in this nation. With holiday decorations displayed earlier and earlier each year, the big jolly man in the red suit continues to be the mascot of the holiday that in reality celebrates something so much greater! Amidst the noise, this book points your child to Jesus through the use of the candy cane. 

The story is cute and inspiring. I adore the artwork in this book, not too simple but full of detail and engaging! The scene seems to be set in times past when candy stores were popular. The premise of the story is a man arrives in town and begins fixing up an old abandoned storefront. A curious girl named Lucy offers to help the man and quickly learns that the old store was about to be transformed into a child's dream!

The story of the candy cane is explained by the man to Lucy sharing about both the birth of Jesus and the message of the cross. I recommend this story because in a sweet and innocent way, it reminds the reader about the true meaning of Christmas. It provides an object lesson that parents, teachers and caregivers can use that will stick in the hearts of little ones for years to come!

Disclaimer: Thank you to Book Look Blogger program for providing me with a copy of this book for the purpose of this review! All opinions stated here are my own.