Saturday, October 12, 2019

Baby Chicks Are Growing So Fast!

The babies are getting big and growing so fast!  Still not sure how many boys and girls.  I know for sure one of the six is a rooster and am suspecting there may be a few more.  Hoping for more pullets, but time will tell.  They are all strong and healthy and momma Sassy is doing a good job raising them (as usual).  I am so excited about the little Brahma chick and hope it is a "she."

Brownie front and center :)
Essentially they are all mutts since they are mixed, but I love genetics and how things play out.  Even with a barred rock cross rooster, some of the traits are so strong.  Two of the chicks are plainly easter eggers and look just like a pair you would buy in the store. I suspect my little brown chick, Brownie, is also an easter egger cross (Easter Eggers are already a mutt breed to begin with but they do breed true if you cross an EE rooster with an EE hen). 
It's fun to watch them grow and I can't wait to see what we end up with.  Hopefully more girls!

Our weather has been crazy lately and last night was no exception.  We went from 80 degrees one day to a low of 35 last night!  Poor molting chickens were not too amused. I actually turned on the radiant heater panel for any who might need the extra warmth.  I have a few going through a pretty hard molt and without the feathers to keep them warm they will get chilled pretty easily.  It also didn't help that it rained most of the day so it was wet, cold, and pretty miserable!  How is your weather?  Do you think we wil at least get to enjoy a short fall?  I hope so!   I love this kind of weather.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Progeny Press Study Guides REVIEW

I always love when the timing of reviews comes at just the right time.  Having the chance to review The Long Way to a New Land Study Guide and Hound of the Baskervilles Study Guide by Progeny Press was perfect timing.  We needed a new literature option and these study guides met that need.  I received instructions on how to download the digital copies of these two literature study guides.  The PDF files were easy to download and print.  I chose to bind mine for ease of use but the Hound of the Baskervilles was a fillable form copy that allows you to type your answers in right into the document on your computer (I really liked this but it didn't work well for my struggling learner high schooler).

Fillable form in PDF format

Progeny Press is family owned and they currently have over 110 literature study guides available.  They have study guides for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school students.  Their guides are available as printed workbooks, on CD, and as downloadable e-guides.  You also have the option to purchase the book the guide was created for.  I just love their mission statement!

I am also very pleased with the comprehensiveness of the guides.  Most upper level guides are designed to be completed in 8-10 weeks.  The guides begin with a note to the instructor on how to use the guides.  Next is a synopsis of the book.  Following the synopsis is background information (generally about the time or what was going on during the time of the story) and also information about the author.  Answer keys are included (as a separate download for upper grades so your student doesn't have the answers).  The guides include so much for your children to really dig into the story and learn more about literature.  Areas covered include (not all are covered at all levels):
  • Prereading Activities
  • Vocabulary
  • Cause and Effect
  • Elements of Logical Thinking
  • Chapter Questions
  • Chapter Analysis
  •  Dig Deeper (more in depth questions that include scripture references and how they relate to the story--I LOVE this!!)
  • Optional Activities
    • Research Paper
    • Art Project
    • Science
    • History
    • Class Discussion

Little Bug and I covered The Long Way to a New Land which was written for K-3 grades.  At her current level she was not able to completely fill out the guide so I chose to cover it with her verbally.  That gave me more hands on with her.  There were 5 chapters to her book so we covered a chapter per week.  There were generally 3-5 activities to complete per week.  We first completed some of the "Before-you-read Activites" that included discussing some vocabulary words, learning about the history of the steamship, and discussing the difference between the words emigrate and immigrate.  Then we read the entire book before starting any study guide questions.

Chapter 1 in the Study Guide started with matching vocabulary words with the correct definitions.  The next day we covered Cause and Effect which explained that cause is an action to make something happen and effect is what happens as a result of that cause.  She did really well on this section.  The next day we answered some questions relating to the story and then we ended that week completing a Dig Deeper section.

Vocabulary sample

Dig Deeper sample

I really like the Dig Deeper section because it incorporates scripture and gets your student thinking about how God's word relates to our lives.  For example, we read a bible verse and then answered how one of the characters in the story obeyed what the scripture said.  I really liked this study guide and it helped Little Bug to get better comprehension of the story and learn a lot of new vocabulary.

Language Arts sample

The end of the study guide covered Using Illustrations and Looking at the Story.  They caused us to look deeper at the literature and the how and why a story is created.  The After-you-read Activites included a recipe of the bread they might have made.  We have not made it yet but she is anxious to make it!  The Resources section at the end included other books by the author, books of related interest, and other sources.

Reviewing Hound of the Baskervilles Study Guide (highschool level) with my high schooler proved more challenging.  I thought he would enjoy the story but he did not.  I was so excited that I had found the movie on one of our streaming subscriptions and I also found the book on Kindle with audio!  Score!!  The format is much the same as the lower grade study guide with of course more challenging sections.  There are 15 chapters of the book broken into 6 sections.  We are still working through the guide since we are going at a slightly slower pace than normal.

Separate download included in upper grades

I really appreciate the optional activities in each section and the  Optional Essays and Projects at the end of this study guide.  The optional activities help the guide to be more comprehensive for language arts and also covers history, bible study, writing, journaling, discussion, etc.  The fillable form format is awesome even though my highschooler did not take advantage of this.  I really like that he is learning to evaluate and dissect a book with a Christian perspective.  The incorporation of scripture is so appreciated by me.  It helps to bring scripture to life when he has to think about how it realates to the characters and life in general.  I LOVE this!!

I wholeheartedly recommend The Long Way to a New Land Study Guide and Hound of the Baskervilles Study Guide.  We will be using more in the future.

You can connect with Progeny Press on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and PINTEREST.

Please be sure to also click on the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew members have to say about these and other study guides available from Progeny Press.

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}

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Monday, September 30, 2019


I was so excited to get my pressure cooker canner earlier this year but I have yet to use it!!  I was looking forward to canning many things including green beans.  The problem was that our green bean crop was an epic failure, or so I thought.  My husband and Little Bug planted the beans and only ONE, yes ONE, plant germinated!!  I couldn't believe it.  I was sad and angry.  I meant to plant more but just never got around to it.  Fast forward to now and that ONE plant that I let grow has given me gallons of beans and is still producing prolifically every day!  Thank you Lord for the bountiful blessings!  Looking forward to canned beans and dilly beans and just yummy fresh steamed beans for dinner.

It wouldn't all fit in one frame but here is the ONE bean plant!

 How was your garden this year?  Any failures or surprises?  Looking forward to an even better one next year!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


Both of my kids really enjoy art and have a talent for it.  We love to try out art programs but I also like them to learn about art historyHiGASFY Art History Video Series provided just what we needed.  It looked like a fun way for my youngest to get some knowledge in this area.  This is a digital product and I received a 3-month subscription to their online videos as well as access to their Curriculum Bundle which includes lesson plans, name the artist power point game, and flash cards.  I have access to all four series that include Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist.

This art education program is recommended for grades 1st-8th.  Each series contains 12 video lessons that are approximately 20-30 minutes long and 4 free draw sessions (16 lessons total).  I received links to all the YouTube videos.  In addition to their online subscription service they also offer the program on DVD or flash drive.  The subscription service is more economical and you have access to all of the products. The lesson plans in the Curriculum Bundle are easy to download and print if you like.  You don't have to print it all out and there are web links in the PDF document.  I chose to print mine in black and white and color where appropriate for the color photos.  I then used my binder machine to make a nice booklet.  We played the Name the Artist powerpoint game on the laptop.  I printed out and laminated the flash cards.

77 page Lesson Plan book

Power Point Name the Artist game

Flash cards with answers on back when printed in duplex mode

Mrs. Beth is our teacher and her friend, GASFY is a small green paint drop.  Beth likes to tell stories and she is a wonderful storyteller.  HiGASFY came from an acronym for Have I Got A Story For You.  Beth does a wonderful job using her storytelling talent to share with us about art history.  She is animated and GASFY of course adds to the fun of the story.

There are 16 lessons in each of the four series.  There are 12 videos and 4 free draw sessions in each series.  Each period covers 3 artists each:

  •  The Renaissance period covers Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael
  • The Baroque period covers Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Vermeer
  • The Impressionist period covers Monet, Pissarro, and Degas
  • The Post-Impressionist period covers van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso

Sample shot of video lesson
Another video lesson sample showing how Mrs. Beth points out specifics in the artwork

If you covered one lesson per week you would have enough for a full semester in each series.  There are plenty of activities in the lesson plan download from the Curriculum Bundle.  Each lesson lists what video (if it applies) to watch and then reviews the objectives for the lesson.  You can choose which activities you like to complete.  Each lesson also has various sections that might include:
  • Critical Thinking
  • Vocabulary
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Geography
  • History  

Sample lesson 2

Word searches and crossword puzzles

There is certainly more than enough to fill up a weeks worth of work per each lesson.  With Little Bug we did more simple activities and a lot of verbal work.  It is easy to adapt the material depending on what grades you are teaching.  There are sections that even have more complex suggestions for the older levels.  The videos were a little too long for her attention, but I know she is still learning. We chose to start with the Impressionist period and she is enjoying it.

Little Bug working on the "I Spy" activity in the lesson plan book

I really like the content in this curriculum and I think Mrs. Beth is great at engaging and entertaining the kids as she and HiGASFY teach them about art history.  I am learning a lot too and enjoying it right alongside Little Bug.  The Curriculum Bundle is a wonderful resource.  I highly recommend this curriculum and plan to continue using it past our 3 month subscription.

You can connect with HiGASFY Art History Video Series on FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, YOUTUBE,  and INSTAGRAM.  Please also be sure to click on the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew Members have to say about this wonderful program that teaches art history for kids.

Have I Got A Story For You Art History Video Series {HiGASFY Art History Video Series Reviews}

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Baby Updates

The babies are doing well.  They are now 4 days old (5 when you read this) and growing fast.  It always amazes me how fast they grow and mature.  This batch seems to be extra bold so it will be very interesting to observe them as they grow.  Of the 6 I think and hope only 2 are roosters (or none!).  I am absolutely in love with the brown chick.  We have never had a brown chick before and she is gorgeous.  A kind of chocolatety brown with some black mottling.  She was the weakest at first but seems to have pulled through just fine.  We didn't lose any chicks that hatched.  Of the unhatched eggs there were at least 3 that had developed but not fully enough to hatch.  Mom, Sassy, is doing a great job as usual.

LOVE the color of this chick!
 I am trying to be sure to take the time to handle them as much as I can, but I always seem to be in a rush so, not as much as I'd like most days. The teens in the red coop are doing well and I really need to do an update on them.  The rooster is looking really good.  Hope he continues to do well the head rooster in that coop.  I'd like to keep them both.  If trouble begins I'm not sure who will get to stay.  Probably the new roo since he looks more purebred Copper Marans than the other.  The other babies who are now tweens in the blue coop are also doing well and growing.  I think we may have 2 roos and 1 pullet though.  Not so happy about that but it is what it is.

She's such a good momma

It's hard to believe that the first official day of fall begins tomorrow.  Our weather has been too hot here for me to think fall, but we should have a cooler week this week until the heat hits again over next weekend and throughout the following week. How are your temps?  Are you ready for fall?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

We Have New Babies Again!

My steady broody Buff Orpington Sassy has hatched us another clutch of eggs again.  I let her set 12 this time but I think we still only have about a 50% hatch.  Part of the problem may be one of my roosters.  One of my special roosters may be sterile or something because I am sure I have tried to set his eggs before.  This time I actually marked them and I don't think any of his have hatched  I will know more tomorrow.  I am still letting her try to hatch till probably tomorrow.  Then I will remove any unhatched eggs.

Love it when they snuggle up under mom.  He kept hiding.  
The incubation couldn't have been any more perfect.  I was able to fully separate her from day one and all the eggs were put under her at the same time.  I've never been able to successfully do that before.  I was so hoping for a better hatch rate.  Grateful for the 6 sweeties we have so far.  I'm still not sure one of them will make it.  It has been pretty weak from hatch and still wasn't getting around very well this afternoon.   We have two Easter Eggers, two Plymouth Barred Rocks, one Buff Orpington, and a miscellaneous blackish one.  They are all of course just barnyard mixes since my head rooster is a Barred Rock mix.  It's gonna be fun to see how everyone feathers out.

I am suspecting that the little one in all of these pictures is a cockerel.  He is bold, sassy, and just full of life right now.  He is always front and center (why he is in all the pics) and doesn't seem to be aftraid of much.  The others keep running everytime I try to take pictures!  I will eventually get a shot of all of them.  Patience!  For now i will just enjoy watching them and handling them as much as I can.  So glad they are safe and sound in the nursery and I don't have to worry about them being pecked on or trampled on.

Times Alive REVIEW

Little Bug is only in the 1st grade, but when I had a chance to review the Online Times Alive program by City Creek Press, Inc. I decided to give it a try when it was suggested for her age range.  I received a free 6-month subscription to the online program and was also offered a free coupon to download the iOS Times Alive App (requires iOS 9.0 or above).  The program works on both PC and MAC and has the following requirements to run.

Times Alive teaches multiplication tables from 0 - 9. They are not taught in order due to the nature of the program.  The easier "stories" are taught first for fast success.  The premise of the program are video stories told to help retention of the material.  If the students learn a song or trick through the stories they are more likely to have retention of what is learned.  I was confident that due to Little Bug's photographic memory tendencies that this was the perfect program for her.  I initially thought that it was too early for her to work on her times tables, but how cool it would be if she got them memorized using the techniques in the program.

Sample video screenshots

The video stories and songs are short and cute.  The tunes are catchy and I like some of the rhymes that help the student to memorize the content.  Your student will get instant feedback as they work through the lessons.  In the online version of the program you are able to see your child's progress by clicking on "view" from the lesson list.  This did not work for our app version.  There is no "view" button.  I was also unable to "clear" individual lessons in the app version.  I did use the "clear progress" button in the app that reset all her lessons back to ground zero.  She was getting so frustrated at one point I decided we should just start over.  Now I also know that we can just keep redoing the lessons as needed to get her to commit the facts to memory (she WILL get there!).

Lesson Progress
I was not able to do this in the app version

As a result of my "clearing" her progress, we are not very far into the program.  This is OK since I want her to gain mastery of what she is learning.  We can just take it slow and repeat lessons as many times as it takes to get her started.  I also know she will continue to mature throughout the year and that things will no doub get better for her in her ability to manage this program.

I should have went with my first inclination because though I think the videos and stories are good and help to teach the material, Little Bug does not agree.  It is somehow very frustrating for her and I am STILL not sure why. She does very well in math and does well with her online program that we use for her math currently.  I am suspecting she is a little like her brother and perhaps there is too much busyness on the screen for her to focus on what she needs to focus on. She can watch the video and then look at me in complete confusion when she goes to the lesson to answer the questions.

When first logging into the program it has a quirky introduction and says the program is only for those who want to have fun.  The program is based on the book TimesTables the Fun Way!  I quickly learned that working on the computer and using the mouse was a little too challenging for Little Bug.  The lessons were a little difficult for her and that combined with the frustrations of the computer were just too much.  She did much better with the app on our iPad mini so we pretty much just stuck with that for her lessons.

Practice Problems

Sample Activity

She basically watches a short video, works on a few practice problems, checks her work, completes an activity, and then reviews the video as necessary.  There are a total of 18 lessons with "sub" lessons within most of those. You can easily track your students progress by looking at the Lesson Menu.  It lets you know if a lesson was "completed," "viewed," or "not started."  Your student needs to be sure to click the "done" button when finished with the lesson so it can be scored and time logged. 

Tracking Progress

If your student is using the online version on a PC or MAC, they need to be sure to sign in with the exact same name everytime or a new record might be created.  The results of the lessons are stored on the hard drive of your computer.  This also means that they need to use the same computer each time.  If you have two students or more, they cannot use separate or different computers.  Every student will need to sign in on the same computer or an additional subscription would be required for each separate device used.

I have the app on my iPhone and on our iPad mini.  The progress from one is not transferred to the other.  She does not "sign in" to the app, it is just on the device so it only records for a single record.  Whatever she completes on one device does not transfer to the other, they are separate records.

While the Online Times Alive program was not the right fit for us at this time, I would still recommend it for those who are ready to learn their times tables.  The videos and stories are catchy and definitely help with memorizing the facts.  Learn times tables the fun way!  I would also highly suggest you get the Times Alive App since it is great for learning on the go.

You can connect with City Creek Press, Inc. on  FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE, and INSTAGRAM.

I was offered a coupon code to share with my readers that will waive the $6.95 set-up fee when you purchase your subscription.  Just use the code lovetolearn and this fee will be waived. Please be sure to click on the graphic link below to see what others have to say about this program, it will be well worth your time.

Online Times Alive {City Creek Press, Inc. Reviews}

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