Friday, September 18, 2020

I Miss Them!


Rowdy and Rosie.  Our ducks.  Well, they were our ducks.  Not anymore.  Don't worry, they are OK, at least for now.  I made the very difficult decision to rehome them to a better place.  We were never set up for ducks but I had always wanted some so when the opportunity came up to rescue a couple of ducks I jumped on it.

They were only about 2 weeks old when we got them (they are about 1 1/2 years old now - Easter babies).  They grew quickly and we tried to accommodate them.  They have lived in such a small pen area for a little over a year and I just knew I had to do better for them.  I was going to rehome them before but couldn't imagine what it would be like with them gone.  I had grown so attached to them.  I miss the quacking the most.  I have several friends who are able to free-range and have really nice ponds on their property.  I finally decided to ask a 4H girl I knew if she would consider taking them.  She said sure!  She has a really nice mini farm with ducks, chickens, guineas, goats, and bunnies.

They have LOTS of property to free range on now, a HUGE beautiful pond, no cages, and lots of duck friends!!  There are two LGDs on the property and she said they haven't lost any fowl since bringing them on.  I was sad to let them go but happy at the same time for their exciting new life.  I am so glad they can stay together and they were just so happy when they found the pond!  Rosie is such a mud duck and she is definitely in her happy place!  Rowdy is happy if Rosie is happy.

They are dearly missed, but close enough that I can visit them often enough.  I'm just happy they are happy.  She said they haven't integrated with the others yet, but they are doing well.  I hope to post updates in the future on how they are doing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It's Apple Season!

It's the season for apples.  Yummy apples.  My family loves apples, apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie, you name it. They love apples!  We were recently blessed with an abundance of apples and though it has been a lot of hard work, I have been busy canning applesauce and apple pie filling (for apple pies).  Next will be canning apples for eating and for just plain baking for any kind of recipe.  I just love being able to preserve this yummy goodness for future recipes and meals.

I was looking in my Ball canning book and saw all kinds of neat recipes.  One I am definitely going to try is the cinnamon apple one.  It reminds me of those cinnamon apple rings I used to love as a child.  Blast from the past!  I'll try to remember to follow up on some others if I try them too.  What have you been canning lately?  Anything different or really interesting from what you normally can?


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Reading Eggs New Features REVIEW 2020

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

One of Little Bug's favorite programs is Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc.  We had a chance to review for them again, but this time we have some new features to share with you!  We received a 1-yr subscription to this digital online program.  You will need an iOS or Android device, desktop computer, or laptop, and internet access to use this program.  Check out the Technical Requirements to review the minimum requirements and to see if your device is compatible.

We have had fun with previous Reading Eggs reviews in 2018 and 2019.  The new features that have been added include:

This program has won many awards and is proven to help kids learn to read.  There are over 2,500 digital story books available for your children to read.  Please do be aware that this is not a Christian based program so there will be instances of evolutionary and other secular content in the reading.  The Library includes books from the following areas:
  • Space
  • Science
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • Earth Science
  • Art
  • Ocean
  • Comedy
  • Myths
  • Adventure
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi


You can search for books by visiting the Find a Book section and be sure to check out the Book of the Day.

Find a Book section with several different search parameters

Reading Eggs is recommended for ages 3-7.  Reading Eggs Jr. is recommended for ages 2-4.  Reading Eggspress is recommended for ages 7-13.  Fast Phonics is recommended for ages 5-10.  Fast Phonics teaches not only the 26 letters of the alphabet but also the 44 sounds in English including blending and spelling skills.  There are 20 "peaks" in the program (currently only 11 are active, it is a work in progress) that introduces and teaches the letter sounds systematically.  There are videos, games, and books in each peak that keep your child engaged and excited about what they are learning.  Little Bug just loves to read so even though she is very advanced in this area, she still enjoyed the games.  We use the Reading Eggspress and Fast Phonics daily.

Mathseeds is for ages 3-9. The Mental Minute has 145 timed sprints that increase in difficulty as your child progresses.  It's designed to build math fact fluency.  This is a good challenge for Little Bug, but it does frustrate her at times.  She doesn't like being rushed and the timing stresses her out.  We do some for fun, then stop.  We only do these a couple times per week.  The sprints are only a minute long.

There are placement tests that can be taken to properly place your child.  Their progress for lessons can be seen and monitored in the Family Dashboard area.  It allows you to adjust their levels and lessons as needed or they can retake the placement test(s) and it will adjust it for you.

Activity Sheets can be printed under the Bonus Materials tab.  A Parent User Guide and some other valuable information are also available under this tab.  The activity sheets are available in Spanish too.

Phonics activity sheet

Handwriting activity sheet

Finally, just in time for Back to School: Sign up today and watch your child become a stronger reader this Back-to-School season!🌞  A multi-award winning online learning program for children ages 2–13, Reading Eggs supports the essential foundations of reading with its highly engaging lessons, games, and e-books!  Claim 30 Days Free Now

As I said, Little Bug is having fun, and that is always a plus when they are learning.  We give Reading Eggs two thumbs up with their fun new features that include phonics work, handwriting, new monthly themes, and math drills.  We do not have an Android device to use the app on but she has used it on our iOS mini iPad and iPhone.  I really wish and hope they develop an app for Kindle soon!!

You can connect with Blake eLearning Inc on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, PINTEREST, and YOUTUBE. Be sure to click on the graphic link below to see what my fellow Crew members thought of these new features and how they used it.

Reading Eggs Subscription {Blake eLearning Inc Reviews}

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Golf Ball Eggs?


So are we laying golf balls now?  I think I've seen it all, LOL.  These hens this year.  I have a lot of older girls and they just aren't laying like they used to.  We have a lot of "free loaders" right now, thus the purchase and hatching of new little ones this past spring/summer.  We should be back in business by next spring.

When I saw this egg I just had to laugh.  When you have chickens, you inevitably get the odd shaped one every now and then, but I must say I have never had one quite this round and large before.  Generally a hen will lay the same shaped egg her whole life, with just a few anomalies here and there.  I'm pretty sure this is from my easter egger hatchling, Matilda, from last year.  What odd shaped or odd eggs have you seen in your flock?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Homeschool Easy REVIEW

 Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Again, the Review Crew comes to the rescue.  I was still trying to decide on what to use this year for Little Bug who has now started 2nd grade.  I am an eclectic homeschooler so we piece things together that work best for each child.  The chance to review the 2nd Grade Entire School Year Curriculum from Homeschool Easy seemed like a perfect match for this year.  I needed a little more streamlined options right now and this seemed to fit the bill.  I received a link to download the necessary files and downloaded everything easily and with no problems.  You will need access to the internet and a printer to print all of the curricula.  I am printing the sections as we go because there is a LOT to print.

Little Bug getting ready to read her online book

The curriculum (which is not common core based) includes:
  • Reading - phonics and comprehension
  • Math - includes addition/subtraction review, fact families, comparing numbers, number sense, place value, addition/subtraction of 2 and 3 digit numbers, money, fractions, measurement, time, months, shapes, grouping, graphs, tables, tally marks, and word problems.
  • Grammar - fundamental grammar (includes flashcards). Includes Statements, Commands, Subjects, Predicates, Compounds, Nouns, Commas, Tense, Verbs, Contractions, Quotation Marks, Pronouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Synonyms, Combining Subjects and Predicates, and Combining Sentences.
  • History - focuses on American History and patriotism.  Includes Patriotism, Famous Americans, and Geography.
  • Science - includes videos, art projects, and experiments (Landforms, Natural Resources, Motion, Weather, Dinosaurs and Fossils, Plants, and Animals)-CAUTION - this is NOT from a Creation standpoint
  • Writing - creative writing that includes 2 assignments per week.  Writing is also used and practiced in Reading, Grammar, History, and Science.

I created a binder with dividers to put all of the assignments into

I REALLY like that "This program focuses on the traditional American educational system used before the advent of state standards, Common Core, and state testing." (from 2nd Grade Overview).  I feel it is quite comprehensive.  It includes an 8-month program for 32 weeks with daily assignments in each subject.  Once your files are downloaded you can print out and review the How to Use Homeschool Easy - 2nd Grade and 2nd Grade Overview documents to get a feel for the program and understand how it works.

I like that the lessons are simple and straight forward but also loaded with great information.  She is learning a lot about her world from the reading assignments.  They have included learning about where you live, your environment, geography, transportation, animals, idioms, and occupations (and that's just in the first month).  The one challenge we have faced is that sometimes the links to the videos don't work.  This is not new with YouTube links since they are famous for either taking down videos or the creator of the video is no longer a member so their video is no longer accessible.  We remedied this quickly and easily by simply searching for a new video.  The worksheet didn't necessarily match the new video, but we got close enough to answer the questions well enough that learning still happened!!

Sample completed assignments in Grammar and History

I love the comprehensiveness of the program. Everything you need is included (how-to documents, schedules, links, supplemental links for more information, and answer keys).  I do not love the jumping around and back and forth to go through the subjects.  Because many of the assignments are based on videos or online books, you need to access those links through a document within that subject that you downloaded.  For instance, for Little Bug to complete her reading, I need to go to the syllabus page for Reading and click on the necessary link for that day's assignment.  I am working on getting shortcut links on my computer desktop to help with this, but an awesome future update to this program might be some sort of interface that allows you to easily navigate the subjects and their assignments.

Sample of the reading syllabus with links to online books

Little Bug working on her reading assignment

Little Bug is enjoying the curriculum and seems to have pretty good interest in everything she is doing and learning.  She REALLY likes the word searches and crossword puzzles and is getting quite good at them.  We already have a devoted math program so we are just using the math as a supplement for now. I have looked ahead and am excited for what is to come and feel that she will get a well-rounded experience with the subjects and learn a lot from all of the videos and books accessed online.  For now, I feel that the quality of the curriculum outweighs the hassle to get to some of the assignments.  I am getting used to it and learning shortcuts.  The binder really helps to keep things organized.

One of her two writing assignments for the second week

Despite the challenges, we give the 2nd Grade Entire School Year Curriculum two thumbs up.  I like what she is learning and how they have presented the material.  I also failed to mention that in the times we are currently living, how refreshing to be able to use a curriculum that strengthens our core of a historically strong America steeped in patriotism. We will definitely continue using this program for her 2nd-grade year.  Thank you Homeschool Easy for a great curriculum!  You can connect with Homeschool Easy on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Please also be sure to check out the reviews from my fellow Crew members.  There should be reviews on all grades from 1st through 5th grades.  Simply click on the graphic link below to read the reviews.

Homeschool Curriculum for Grades 1 to 5 {Homeschool Easy Reviews}

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Great Black Wasp


Ever heard of a great black wasp?  I had not and didn't even know they existed.  I hadn't noticed them around the garden before (although I'm sure they have always been around somewhere).  To give you perspective, the picture above is one of these HUGE wasps on my oregano.  The wasp is probably about 1 1/2 inches long!  I was quite freaked out and left the area quickly (after I snapped a couple of photos, LOL).

I promptly came inside and googled "big black wasp."  It came up with the Giant Black Wasp and it was exactly what I had seen!  They are actually beneficial wasps and rarely care to sting you.  They are good pollinators.  They do not live in colonies but are rather loners.  They build their nests underground.  The female will catch grasshoppers, katydids, and the sort.  She stings them to paralyze them, drags them down to her home, and then lays eggs on them that will then hatch and survive off the live insect.

The circle of life, fascinating as it is.  The male does not even have a stinger so only the female can sting you and will often only do that if provoked (unlike our crazy red wasps and hornets around here).  I usually get stung a few times each summer from our mean local wasps and hornets.  It is NOT fun!!

Friday, August 14, 2020

New Coop Additions



So much has been happening with the chickens lately.  We have had more new additions and I'll need to do another post soon to catch up.  First, we added 3 new silkies to the mix.  Two hens and a pullet.  The black hen is Midnight, the buff hen is Buffy, and the pullet was aptly named Milly by my 7-year-old daughter.  Milly is cute and fluffy but still very aloof and I haven't gotten a good picture of her yet.  I am so surprised that our Silkie rooster, Hazel (we thought he was a hen forever), has not shown any interest in them as of yet.  He really hasn't paid any attention to them at all.  I hope that changes!


I have been having good luck with getting Midnight to trust me, Buffy not so much!  Milly is so stinkin' cute but is scared of me.  She has integrated herself into the main flock just fine and hangs out with them every day.  Midnight and Buffy have both been just hanging out inside the coop with the teenagers (who are still growing like weeds!).

I got them not just because I've always wanted a few Silkie hens but also because I am hoping they will be good sitters for future clutches of eggs.  Silkies are supposed to be notorious for sitting eggs and I hope these ladies will fit the bill.  I also hope they will get comfortable and tame enough that at least one of them would be the kind of mom who will take chicks in at any time.  That will remain to be seen, but sure would be nice.  More updates soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

U.S. Elections Lap-Pak REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Whether you are a lap book person or not, you may want to check out the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak (grades 3-8) from Home School in the Woods.  We have reviewed several of their lap books in the past and have loved every one of them.  This curriculum can easily be used as a stand-alone or as a supplemental project.  I received a free copy of this downloadable product.  You will need internet access for the download as well as a printer to print out the projects and instructions.  Other supplies needed are your general school supplies such as colored pencils, crayons, markers, glue, scissors, etc.  You may also prefer double-sided tape for some of the projects.

When you download the zip file you will need to fully extract the folder to have access to the curriculum which is viewed and printed through the free Adobe Reader program.  I was really excited and impressed to use the "audio file" feature which I have not had before in any of their products.  There are audio files as part of the lessons and I really like that Little Bug can listen to them as we work on the individual projects that will eventually compile her lap book.

Audio files included in your download

Sample complete lap book (NOT our lap book)

A few of Little Bug's completed projects

The curriculum has a suggested grade level of 3-8 and I think this is pretty accurate.  Little Bug is in 2nd grade and she is enjoying it tremendously but a few of the projects have been a little more in-depth for her.  She has been apprehensive about a few but once we get it going and she completes it she is so proud of her accomplishments!  We are trying to complete a project a week (there are 21 included in this packet).  As we work on the project (they are really quite simple and easy to complete), we spend more time learning about the specific topic, including reading additional material we find online (our local library is open, but the Covid cases in our area are on the increase so we try to keep home as much as possible).

She is so excited to be learning about the election process.  She really is getting it and she just loves learning about our president and how elections work and what government is all about.  Some topics covered include:
  • Definition of election
  • Different forms of government
  • The three branches of government
  • Suffrage and voting
  • Who do we vote for?
  • Terms of office
  • Political parties
  • Caucuses and Primaries
  • National conventions
  • Presidential campaigns
  • Statistics
  • Election Day
  • Electoral College
  • Inauguration day

I love the Charlotte Mason flair to this wonderful hands-on history curriculum.  The timing of this couldn't be better!  With elections just around the corner, I love that she will have a better idea of what is going on.  Big brother is close to voting age so this has been a great refresher for him to when he chooses to listen to what she is learning.

As I stated there are 21 individual "projects" to be completed that will eventually all be compiled together into a nice, neat little lap book.  I just love lap books because they are fun to make, simple, concise, take up little space, and are packed with information that your littles generally remember better because of how they put it together.

Lots of great information included

Looks a little daunting to you? Not at all! There are step-by-step instructions included that walk you through the entire process. They even instruct you on what type and color of paper to print on. It really couldn't be any easier unless you purchased pre-printed and cut out material, but what fun would that be?!

Very detailed step by step instructions

Little Bug said she is having fun and we give this wonderful U.S. Elections Lap-Pak two thumbs up!  You can connect with Home School in the Woods on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST.  Be sure to also check out my fellow Crew members' reviews, especially since we reviewed different products.  Click on the graphic link below to read the other reviews.  You can also learn more about the Elections Lap-Pak on their blog post.

And last but not least, please be sure to take advantage of the FREE PRODUCT, Greek Life! File Folder Game.  Use the coupon code TOSGameNight at the checkout through the month of August!  Enjoy!

Election Lap-Pak, Benjamin Franklin, Timeline Collection, Time Travelers U.S.History and Make-A-State Activity-Pak {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

New Chick on the Block

Chicken math is real!  I needed more egg layers and so the purchasing began.  I have been sharing updates on the littles the past few months.  Above is Josephine with her "babies."  They are quite the character these days since Josie is a bantam (tiny chicken).   She is a fierce momma though so don't underestimate her size!  She still has a pretty tight wing on those babies these days.

New to the farm is a silkie/sapphire gem orphan and a couple of ISA Browns that I purchased at our local farm store to keep her company.  I tried to place her with one of my mommas but none of them would have it.  They are all getting along just great and doing well.  Chicken math at its best.

Above are the "teenagers" that are growing bigger and sassier every day.  They are quite the bunch.  We are enjoying them and they are all also doing well.  I release them into the big coop during the day.  Very soon they will be completely kicked out of their brooder since I will need to place the new babies in there (they won't stay in the house for long!).  More updates to come soon.  Maybe even a new visitor/permanent resident.  May your day be blessed.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Astronomy REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

This is where the fun starts.  Little Bug just loves learning new things and she is forever fascinated with the night sky.  She also seems obsessed with the sun at times.  The chance to review an online homeschool astronomy course seemed just perfect for us.  Experience Astronomy: Elementary from Journey Homeschool Academy is a hands-on, online video course.  I say hands-on because it includes wonderful hands-on projects throughout each lesson.  The best part of all is this is a LIFETIME subscription.  You can take your time or revisit the lessons at your leisure.

Online video lessons

What exactly is included?  You get 30 video lessons (approximately 15 minutes each), a downloadable lesson/activity pack, links to extra resources, a list of recommended books, downloadable printable memory cards, and memory videos to help with memorizing the facts.  If you don't want to download and print your lessons and cards they are also available for purchase.

A couple of the recommended books from the list
There are a LOT of books on the list so when our library gets
back in full swing we will take advantage of that!

Copywork pages

Memory cards

It is recommended that you complete one lesson per week which would give you an entire year for a great science course.  The lessons consist of an online video, recommended reading (including scripture references), a hands-on activity, copy work (available in print and cursive), memory lesson cards, and a quick quiz to test knowledge retained.  We spread our lesson activities out over a week.  We would watch the video one day and then practice with the memory cards.  Another day we would do the copy work, and another day the activity.  We generally ended the week with the quiz.  I was amazed at how much Little Bug retained.


Little Bug is really enjoying this curriculum.  At first, she was a little impatient with the videos since they are packed with knowledge but not so much fun for her age (2nd grade).  The more she got into it though she got used to the format and enjoyed what she was learning.  I just love that Luke goes into the history of everything and not just straight-up "sky stuff."  It is fascinating to learn the history behind what is being learned and the origins of the subjects being covered.  A history lesson to boot!

Hands on activities

I absolutely love that this is creation based and I don't have to worry about misinformation in that area.  The very first lesson is called, "Why God Loves Astronomy" and Luke does a great job distinguishing between Astrology and Astronomy.  Other topics covered include the moon, sun, constellations, seasons (and why we experience the weather we do), stars (falling rocks and shooting stars), Galileo, the planets, and the heavens.  I am so looking forward to this next year of learning with her.  I have already learned a few things I thought I knew but didn't.

So much fun creating our Leo constellation

I really feel that I can't say enough good about this creation based homeschool science program. I feel it is well rounded and definitely Christian based with a wonderful Charlotte Mason flair! I really don't think you will be disappointed in what it has to offer.  If you have a little one who loves learning and has a great interest in the sky, moon, and stars then I think this is the perfect science class for them.

We give Experience Astronomy: Elementary two thumbs up!!  You can connect with Journey Homeschool Academy on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM.  Also, be sure to check out what my fellow Crew members have to say about this and the other two science programs that were reviewed (Biology Elementary and Upper Level) by clicking on the graphic link below.

Experience Biology: Elementary Level, Upper Level and Experience Astronomy: Elementary {Journey Homeschool Academy Reviews}
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