Friday, December 27, 2019

Free Range Paradise

It's been too long again.  I have gotten behind on my posts.  It has been a very busy holiday season around here.  All is well, just crazy busy schedules.  One of the many projects hubby and son and have completed lately included removing leaves for a dear friend from church.  I asked them to please save and bag the leaves so we could empty them into the chicken yards.  I was so excited when they came home with a LOT of bags!

The chickens are in heaven enjoying scratching and pecking through the piles of leaves.  I still have more to put into the 3 run areas I have, but they have a lot in there already and they are loving it!  I can't free range them due to the population of neighborhood dogs that frequent our property.  It was like bringing the forest to them.  It is almost as good as them getting to free range for right now.  It is helping to keep them occupied and from getting bored and picking on one another.  It's also a wonderful substrate that will compost well in the run areas.  I have 7 juvenile roosters growing up and the barnyard has been in quite a tiff lately.  We will hopefully cull a few roosters this weekend and I hope to get 6 or more pullets rehomed (plus one rooster) very soon!

We are up to 57 chickens right now and that is just a few too many.  We had 3 separate hatches this past year that added 13 new chickens to the flock but 7 of them were roosters!  There is more peace when there are not so many.  Two of my three run areas have a good amount of chickens but my main run area has 41 and that is just a few too many.  Rehoming the 7 and culling a few will help a lot to restore some peace.

I need to get back to a regular schedule again and I still hope to have more informative and specific posts.  I will begin my regular homeschool curriculum reviews again soon.  I believe my first one is due in the first week of January.  Blessings to you as we prepare to begin a new year.

Sunday, December 8, 2019


Little Bug just LOVES to draw and she is so good at it!  She just turned 7 and has been drawing like this for years.  She loves to tell stories with her drawings.  This is a picture of her with her friends from church.  I always say she will be an illustrator and possibly write her own books.  She just drew this picture and I wanted to share it.  I have gotten so behind on my blog posts due to our holiday schedule and I just wanted to stop by and say a quick hello.

I promised myself I was going to take a year off and rest from my Crew reviews, but alas, I really do enjoy it so much that I decided to make a go of it again and try much harder at not signing up for too many reviews.  I really got quite overwhelmed at times last year.  As always I will try harder to create more non-sponsored posts with better content.  I really need to focus on the chickens and homeschooling since that is where my heart is.

May your day be richly blessed!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Mud Ducks

Ducks and mud, they go together, always!  It doesn't help that I indulge them with an extra container of water to play in.  My Pekin, Rosie, voices her great displeasure on days I don't fill their water pan.  They always have a bucket to dunk their heads in, but in the colder and freezing weather, no water pan.  She pouts.  Rowdy is a Rouen drake and he takes care of Rosie.  He was a very shy standoffish little one, but has come into his own the more he matures.  They are both only about 6 1/2 months old at this point.

Ducks love mud!

I had always wanted ducks but when I learned how messy they could be I decided maybe not right now.  I then settled I would get some Muscovies that are land ducks and really don't want/need the extra water.  When these ducks needed a home, I reluctantly agreed to take them and have fallen in love.  I had a chance to rehome them, but then couldn't part with them as I have become quite fond of them (mud and all!).


Rosie has been giving us beautiful, large eggs (more like extra jumbo) for months now.  They are seasonal layers, more so than chickens, but she's been laying almost non-stop so far.  The last week or so it has been almost every other day so I wonder if she is going to take a break for the winter.  If you have considered getting ducks, just do your research on which breeds would be best for you and then just do it!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Elephant Learning Math REVIEW

How is your math curriculum going?  Would your child benefit from some tutorial help?  When I had a chance to review Elephant Learning Math Academy a few months ago I decided it might be worth checking out.  Little Bug is doing ok in math but I felt my high schooler needed a little review help.  I received a 12 month subscription to the online math program.  It is available for your computer using Chrome or Safari, or as an app using iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire.  We used it as an app on Kindle Fire (I LOVE when apps are available for Kindle Fire!).  It is recommended for ages 2-16 and depends on your child's language abilities and attention span (it covers counting to algebra--but not high school level).  It was developed by a University of Denver math professor and one of his former students.  I really like that for every paid subscription they give one away to a family who is unable to pay the full tuition.  They offer a scholarship program on their site.

Notice browser requirements.
It works best on Chrome or Safari or as an app.

Child dashboard

Sample lesson

This online math subscription is for a family of up to 7 children.  You also get a parent account so you can easily check progress and even check out the lessons without affecting your student(s) score(s).  There is quite a bit of detail analysis of lessons skipped and completed.  The child always has the option to "skip" a question.  The program is intuitive and will work to advance your child as necessary.  They guarantee to advance your child an entire year in just 3 months.  Your child is only required to practice at least 30 minutes per week.

Student Dashboard

Analysis Overview

Playtime Analysis

Detailed history of lessons (allows you to try the lesson yourself without affecting your child's score to give you a better idea of what they are learning.

There are 32 games for your child to choose from and they all cover various areas (depending on their elephant age and progress).  Little Bug's curriculum currently covers:
  • Addition Subtraction: Comparison
  • Estimate Numbers to 100
  • Number Composition
  • Skip Count to 20 in the Line
  • Counting to 1000 in the Line

Choosing a game

Your child's dashboard gives you detailed information on how they are progressing and what areas they need help in.  There are even suggestions for you on how you can help them in an area. To tell you the truth, the amount of detail is almost overwhelming to me, yet the information is great to be able to see where your child's weaknesses are and where they need help and how you can help them.

Shows area of weakness and activities to help with math concept

When your child begins the program it will assess and learn where your child is academically.  Little Bug was almost 7 when she started but registered on the program as 6.1 years elephant math age.  She is now 7 and registering at 8.1 elephant math age.  She has advanced 2 years in about 10 weeks.  I'm not sure I agree that this is actually 2 academic years, but I do know that I have definitely seen a great improvement in her math skills, especially in the logic area.  She usually has fun with the games but does get frustrated a lot.  It is not a hands-off program and if I make myself available to help her when she gets confused about a question she does a lot better.  The program addresses your child by name and she was very upset that it kept pronouncing her name wrong.  I finally figured out how to fix that in the settings!

Working on a lesson

Go into settings to fix the pronunciation of your child's name if necessary.

I was really more interested in this program for my 10th-grade son to use as a review but it has proved to not be such a good fit for him.  That being said I think I am still going to sit down with him and go through some lessons with him.  He is a struggling learner and when things don't go right in his lessons he tends to shut down.  He was convinced the program wasn't working for him but his analysis also showed that he progressed almost 2 years during the time he used the program.

Elephant Learning Math Academy gets very high reviews from other sources and I think it is definitely worth checking out for your child.  I'm not sure it ended up being a great fit for either of my kids, but I do believe that the program does what it is intended to do and as I said, I can definitely see a difference in Little Bug's math skills.  You can connect with them on FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, YOUTUBE, and INSTAGRAM.

I recommend you take the time out to check it out and also click on the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew review members have to say about this online math program.

Elephant Learning Math Academy Subscription {Elephant Learning Math Academy Reviews} 
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, November 8, 2019

Name Meaning Gifts REVIEW

Amazing Names by CrossTimber

Are you looking for a unique gift?  Do you want to surprise your child or grandchild with a special personalized gift just for them?  You must check out Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name! from CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts.  I received a coupon code for a free digital (HD video) version of a personalized video for my daughter.  The video is 28 minutes long.  The code also provided me with 20% off any additional products that I ordered.  I ordered a physical copy of the DVD for 20% off in addition to the free digital version.  When I received the completed digital product via email they also sent some fun activity pages using her name.  CrossTimber is a family (the Dehnhart family) living in a farmhouse in Ohio who have been providing personalized gifts for 23 years.

It was fairly easy to complete my order.  Once I placed my order I received another email with special instructions on how to provide the personal information that they needed to create the video.  Items requested were her name, any nickname, digital copies of her artwork, a personal picture of her, our address, and a personalized letter from her father and me to her.  It was simple to complete and submit.  It only took about 2 weeks to get the finished product back.  I watched it and was very tickled by it.  It was very professionally done and I appreciated the reference of God and scripture throughout the "movie."

Scripture references throughout the movie

The personalized video is not only fun but also has a purpose.  It aims to familiarize and teach your little one how to spell their name, what their name means, how special they are, what God thinks of them, how special their name is, what their address is, and includes a personal letter from you to your special little one.  There are scripture and references to God throughout the film.  When the movie opened and Little Bug saw her artwork on the screen she squealed in delight!  She couldn't believe that the pencil character (Benjamin) knew her name AND her nickname!  She was VERY upset when he drew on her picture.  She said, "He ruined it!"  I think she forgave him once she got through the movie, LOL.

Some of the additional items for purchase are the physical DVD, NamePlaque (with the meaning of their name and scripture), Personalized Character Photo, Origin Scroll, or even Gift Certificate to give to someone else so they can complete the customized order process themselves.

Origin Scroll

Gift Certificate

Little Bug also enjoyed working on and completing some of the activity pages that were sent as a PDF attachment to our digital video order.  They used her name to customize the pages.

Fun personalized activity pages

I didn't notice anywhere on a suggested age for this product but from my perspective, I think it best fits a child of Kindergarten and younger.  Older ones might enjoy it, it just depends on their maturity level and academic progress. At age 7 and in 1st grade, Little Bug knows how to spell her name but could use some practice on her address (my fault, not hers). 

We really enjoyed Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name!  I definitely recommend that you not only check this product out but the many others they have available on their main CrossTimber website.  You can connect with them on PINTEREST and they have a wonderful chat feature on their website and are happy to help with any questions you might have.  They are currently running a GRAND OPENING special on this product for $20 off the regular price!

I also encourage you to check out their FREE NameCard offer on their site and be sure to participate in the free giveaway!

Follow the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew members have to say about this AMAZING product.

Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name! {CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts Reviews} 
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Kregel Publications REVIEW

I can't say it enough, Little Bug LOVES to read!  Jem Strikes Gold and Jem's Frog Fiasco from Kregel Publications looked like they would be right up her alley.  The books are short chapter books, 78-80 pages long, and recommended for ages 6-9 (6-8 on the back of the books).  They are listed as historical juvenile fiction.  The books are softcover and include illustrations throughout the stories.  The author, Susan K. Marlow does a great job in her storytelling and keeping the reader engaged and interested in the story.  There is an entire Goldtown Beginnings Series and Books 3 and 4 are scheduled to come out March 2020.

Sample book page

Free Activity Pages download
The time is set in the 1800s (1859) during the gold rush period.  I LOVE how the story integrates history, bible, manners, and respect throughout the story.  These are the kinds of stories I want my kids to be reading.  The books are an easy read and Little Bug enjoyed them very much.  I especially like the availability of extra resources to use the books as part of your language arts curriculum.  There are FREE activity and coloring pages available through the link given in the book.  Lap books, activity guides, or a special bundle are available for purchase.  We downloaded and used the FREE activity and coloring pages.  The activity pages include a wonderful schedule and answer keys.  I printed everything out and then used our binding machine to put the pages together into one book.  I read some of the books out loud and Little Bug read some out loud (she LOVES to read out loud).  She completed some of the activities from the activity pages. I think in the future we will use the activity pages more and follow a more structured schedule.

4 Day schedule from Activity Pages download

Sample Workbook Pages from FREE Activity Page download

I appreciated the format of the books.  After the Table of Contents, there is a New Words vocabulary page with definitions that includes words in the story that may be new to the reader.  The books end with "A Peek into the Past" section that discusses a little bit about the history of the time the story was set in.  The inclusion of Biblical verses and precepts is a wonderful addition.

New vocabulary words

In Jem Strikes Gold, 7-year-old Jem (Jeremiah) and his little sister Ellie (Ellianna) have to face the town bully, Will (Sterling).  Jem and his family are introduced into the story and we find out that they are gold miners.  Mama also helps out with selling pies and doing laundry.  When Will causes Jem to destroy a few pies, what happens?  Does Mama or Pa get angry?  Later, when Jem tries to deliver the clean laundry, what happens?  Just what does "Jem Strikes Gold" really mean?  Is it gold or something else?  Who, or what saves the day when Jem is once again bullied by Will.  You need to read the story to find out.  The story has wonderful lessons to be learned.  Jem learns to be patient with his little sister, Ellie, and reminds himself of the bible verse to "be kind to one another."  We read about Jem saying prayers to help him with his daily challenges.  It teaches manners and respect when Jem realizes when he is too harsh with his sister and responds to his mother with "yes ma'am."  Jem also learns that "being rich" isn't always the best and being "dirt poor" sometimes has some wonderful benefits with special friendships, service to others, and parents that are invested in what you do.

Sample coloring page

In Jem's Frog Fiasco Jem continues his gold mining and Nugget (his young dog) is growing. Again we find him being patient and kind to his little sister and praying for God to help him with his daily struggles and thanking God for the blessings.  But will his desire to get what he wants cloud his better judgment and put his sister in danger?  Jem soon realizes that he needs to get funds to help feed his dog Nugget so he sets out to get a job. He gets a job catching frogs for Mr. Sims at the café. He learns a hard lesson when he chooses catching his frogs over watching and keeping his sister safe.  What happens to Ellie?  Where does she go?  Does she ever make it back home?  Will God help Jem and what does Nugget have to do with the rescue effort?  Get the book and find out!

Free sample chapters from the books are available for download. We definitely give Jem Strikes Gold and Jem's Frog Fiasco two thumbs up.  I plan to purchase the rest of the series as they become available.  It is so hard to find educational reading books that are fun to read, teach you something, and also have a strong biblical foundation.  I can't say enough good about these books.  There will be 6 books in the series and (as stated earlier) books 3 and 4 are due to come out March 2020.  The titles are as follows:
  • Jem Strikes Gold
  • Jem's Frog Fiasco
  • Jem and the Mystery Thief
  • Jem Digs Up Trouble
  • Jem and the Golden Reward
  • Jem's Wild Winter

Kregel Publications has a vision "to maximize the impact of quality, life-changing Christian resources."  I especially like their mission statement: "Our mission as an evangelical Christian publisher is to develop and distribute—with integrity and excellence—trusted, biblically based resources that lead individuals to know and serve Jesus Christ."  You can connect with them on FACEBOOK (KREGEL BOOKS and CIRCLECADVENTURES), INSTAGRAM, and TWITTER.

Please be sure to check out what my fellow Crew members had to say about these wonderful books by clicking on the graphic link below.  Happy reading!
Jem Strikes Gold & Jem's Frog Fiasco  {Kregel Publications Reviews} 
Crew Disclaimer
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