April 18, 2014

Random 5 on Friday for April 18th

The Pebble Pond

1. We have gone from 80 degrees to snow in a matter of 2 days this week. That is just messed up. LOL! Fortunately, it was a one-day wonder and we have been steadily increasing in temperature back to the 70's for this weekend. I would be very happy to not see snow again until...oh, November or so.

2. I love seeing garden sprouts! We've been growing tomato seeds in peet pots on our window sill and I love seeing them. They are about 3" tall now. I'm hoping we will get our garden prepped on Sunday because I've got things I need to get in the ground ASAP!

3. I really like Starburst Jellybeans. This is the time of year when they show up for just $1.50 a bag. So I always grab them. Did you know Jellybeans are my favorite candy?

4. I have been enjoying having a modified spring break this week. School until lunch and then the afternoon off. It's been spending more time outside to soak up the sunshine. We will have our second week next week before we dive in to finish out our year.

5. I'm itchy for next Friday. It's the big Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati! I won free tickets last fall...but I was going to go anyways. I am making my list of companies I want to visit. And I'm tickled that I will get to meet up for a brunch with other ladies of The Schoolhouse Review Crew that morning! So nice to put faces with names and blogs! We even get a little name badge to wear at the convention. I'm going to feel all official! LOL! If you are going to be at the convention on Friday, maybe I will see you...somewhere in the 10,000+ people. You never know! LOL! I had such an amazing time last year that I'm just dying to get back! One of my good friends (and fellow homeschoolers) is going to ride with me so we will be able to gab and giggle.

Have a beautiful weekend!

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April 17, 2014

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Love Comes Calling (a book review)

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It's the Roaring 20's in Boston. Meet Ellis Eton. She has the best of intentions. She has her heart set on Hollywood. She's also broke. But no worries, she just agreed (accidentally though it might have been) to fill in for her look-alike friend Janie as a telephone operator for two weeks. So what if she's never been able to finish anything she started...it's just for 2 weeks. Besides, it will help her practice her acting skills and earn money for her train ticket west to become a movie star. What could possibly go wrong? I was tickled to be able to review Love Comes Calling, a fast paced and fun newly released historical inspirational fiction book by Siri Mitchell.

April 11, 2014

Curiosity Quest (a product review)

Are you a fan of "How Is It Made?" or "Dirty Jobs"? Do you like shows where you can go behind the scenes to see how simple everyday things are made, collected, produced, etc? Our family is. We LOVE these shows. Today I have a product review from Curiosity Quest--a company who puts together DVD's on these type of questions! 
We were blessed to receive the DVD Combo Pack-Produce and DVD Combo Pack-Swimmers of the Sea to review with our family.


What is Curiosity Quest?


Curiosity Quest is a PBS series that explores what viewers are curious about. The main host, Joel Greene, addresses a question that a viewer has written in about. The episode takes the viewers on site to find answers to the question in a great hands on educational experience. Each episode is about 30 minutes long. These DVD's are geared toward the 7-14 age group and each of the DVD Combo Packs that we reviewed sell for $24.95.


How Did We Use This Product?

There are three episodes on each of the DVD's. Swimmers of the Sea has the episodes Salmon, Penguins and Sea Turtle Rescue. Produce has the episodes Mushrooms, Orange Packing and Cranberries. The boys decided they wanted to watch the Swimmers of the Sea DVD first and then they proceeded to watch every episode in one sitting. 

Curiosity Quest Review
Salmon:
The boys learned about why salmon swim upstream, that they "smell" the water to find their way back to their start, and much more. We visit my parents in WA regularly and the last time we did, we were fortunate to go to Bonneville Dam and see the salmon swimming the fish ladders. We were able to reference this when we watched the video.

Sea Turtle Rescue:
Little Britches especially enjoyed this episode as he took an online class on turtles last spring. We learned that there is such a thing as a turtle hospital. The boys have decided they would like to visit one. They are hoping we will be able to visit the special Sea Turtle center in Jekyll Island, GA if we go this fall.

Penguins:
The boys "ewwwwwww!" was classic as they watched them prepare the food for the penguins. Baby Britches kept saying the birds wings were too small and that they barked. This was a great behind-the-scenes episode for a penguin exhibit! I had no idea they had to log every single fish they gave the birds.

The boys were excited to dive into the next DVD and we proceeded to watch DVD Combo Pack- Produce in one sitting too.
Curiosity Quest Review
Orange Packing:
Little Britches thought the coolest thing was that the bad spots on an orange glows-in-the-dark. I admit that was very neat. I thought it was interesting to watch the whole process from picking to packing. It was fascinating that they use MASSIVE fans to keep the frost away just by blowing air down into the trees.

Cranberries:
The boys were fascinated with the idea of using tractors to harvest cranberries. I guess I didn't realize that they flooded the patch to make the berries float to harvest. I guess I always thought they just grew in water like rice...until I realized the rice paddy gets flooded too. LOL! The boys were excited when they talked about the bounce of cranberries as we did experiment with that when we read Cranberry Thanksgiving. 

Mushrooms:
This was the one BY FAR that fascinated us the most because we were CLUELESS about how mushrooms were harvested and grown. The boys loved seeing the different stages of hay breaking down. They giggled when the host kept commenting on how stenchy it was. We were amazed at the size of the huge mushrooms and thought it would be fun to try our hand at picking them from the trays. Little Britches refers to the mushroom episode to anyone who talks about mushrooms. He told his Papaw (my father-in-law) about it and was intrigued to learn that they used to grow mushroom locally in a cave. "To control humidity just like the show we watched, Mommy!"


Our Thoughts on Curiosity Quest

Long story short...we loved all the episodes! They were very detailed and informative. I considered myself fairly knowledgeable about Salmon, Sea Turtles and Penguins thanks to various studies...but I still learned new things! I think we as a family learned the most from watching the DVD Combo Pack-Produce episodes. We found the Mushrooms episode especially fascinating and I can tell you I will never look at mushrooms in the store the same way again!

I see these videos as excellent for unit studies. There are so many books, science units, etc where they could be used to take a subject further. I wish we had the Swimmers of the Sea DVD back when we were studying Penguins and Sea Turtles in Kindergarten! I plan on pulling these DVD's out again when they fit into something we are learning!


Would I recommend Curiosity Quest?

Yes! I think they are excellent quality and very well done. There are lot of "silly" things included on the DVD's which relate well to children and the host is very personable and fun. My Little Britches is thinking up questions for me to submit in hopes of getting his own letter/email published and turned into a show!
You also can't beat the price. Each of these episodes as solo DVD's is priced at $19.95...with three episodes per DVD in the combo packs you are getting three for just a little more than the price of one! 

As I was looking around their site, I discovered that you can join their CQ Homeschool Monthly Membership where they will send you two new episodes a month for just $24.95 (or annual membership for $264) AND will even include homeschool appropriate curriculum to go with the episodes. I am strongly thinking about getting at least one months worth. Having the curriculum to go with the episodes would be ideal--and really the only thing I would improve on the already incredible product!

Well I hope you enjoyed my review of this fabulous product! I am hoping that Curiosity Quest will show up on Netflix one of these days! I'd love to be able to see ALL the episodes!

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