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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Friday, September 13, 2019

Easy Grammar REVIEW

Grammar is just never fun or easy for kids but with Easy Grammar: Grade 1 from Easy Grammar Systems, it really is just simple and easy!  I received a softcover copy of the Teacher Edition.  The cover has a VERY NICE coating on it that makes it VERY durable.  The book consists of 180 lessons so if you complete one a day you have more than enough for 1 year of curriculum.  You are given permission to make personal copies of the pages for the student assignments so the additional student workbook is not necessary.  If you have just one student you can of course just let them write in the Teacher Edition (it has all the student pages ready to be filled out).  I also received a nice refrigerator magnet, a sample lesson page insert, and flyer on other programs they offer.

I'm easily amused, I really like this refrigerator magnet

 The beginning of the Teacher Edition has lots of helps and suggestions on how the program works and how you can use it.  There is no prep work necessary for the lessons.  You just pick up the book and go (I LIKE this!).  At first the lessons seemed too simplified, they are very simple, but then I remembered the power of repetition and simpleness.  By not frustrating the student, they are able to absorb and learn a great deal of material.  The work is simple, but the concepts are taught through repetition and just "doing" the work.  The connections are made in the brain and learning occurs!  "Dr. Phillips wrote Easy Grammar texts (Grades 1-6 and Plus) to teach concepts. She first introduces common prepositions and deleting prepositional phrases to help students determine subject, verb agreement, etc. Phillips is also noted for introducing concepts at a basic level and building for understanding. . ."  (Quote from one of my info sheets).  For this First Grade text the author uses mainly Kindergarten sight words.

The design

Scope and sequence on what is covered in the lessons

Teaching vocabulary of components in the lessons


Learning correct syntax by just doing the lessons

If you need help with guided learning there is a suggested daily schedule.  It is also recommended that if you are copying the pages rather than writing in the book that you of course do that before the lesson begins (only "prep" work necessary).  Each lesson is just a page long.  Quick and simple.  There are some wonderful suggestions throughout the daily lesson suggestions in the Teacher Edition.  It would be beneficial to not skip over these (at least take a look before the lesson).

Daily lesson suggestions and tips

This couldn't have come at a better time for us.  Little Bug is sailing through her lessons without much fuss, not counting the fits about the writing.  Like her brother, they just do not like to "write."  She doesn't mind the copy work (go figure!).  We are completing one lesson per day and they only take about 5-10 minutes or so for her to complete.  I go over the lesson with her and explain what they are looking for.

Lesson Day 3

Lesson Day 16

 By Lesson 50 the lessons begin to advance and the tracing component goes away.  By Lesson 90 they begin to combine sentences (they also graduate out of the lined paper blanks for writing). 

 We really like Easy Grammar: Grade 1 and I would definitely recommend it as a great resource curriculum for grammar.  I do wish that the Teacher Edition was spiral bound (for easier copying), or that I had chosen the digital version so I could easily print out the student pages.  Little Bug is learning and we are doing it mostly without tears (she has got to get over this writing thing).  We will definitely continue and finish this for part of our language arts this year.  I am also going to check this out for my 10th grader.  You can connect with Easy Grammar Systems on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and INSTAGRAM.

Also be sure to click on the graphic link below to check out what other Crew members have to say about this and other products available from Easy Grammar Systems.
Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews} 
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