September 30, 2016

Jesus and the Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roeleveld - A Review

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?
We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?
Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalk explores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:
—Affection for others
In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.
Learn more and purchase a copy.

This book was great.  It was creative, and the metaphor of Jack and the Beanstalk was woven throughout it, but not in an overwhelming manner.  The first two parts were not as interesting to me, but the third section was wonderful!  It was written to be a daily Bible study over a couple of weeks, but in the interest of doing this review I read it in a couple of days.  There were a lot of essays relating to the truths found in 2 Peter 1, 5 for each truth.  Some of them were funny, some of them were serious, some were a combination.  One of them in the "love" section actually made me cry.  I had to shut the book multiple times to keep from letting the tears spill.  It was so convicting I couldn't take it!

It also had a few pop culture references, which as someone who watches way to much TV, I always appreciate.

When a book moves you to tears because of its convicting you through the Holy Spirit, you know you have stumbled upon a great book.  I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to really look inside themselves and see what they can do to overcome the giants in their lives.

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review from LitFuse.  All opinions are my own.

September 28, 2016

Exploring Feelings with Mother Goose Time

The second week of Me and My Family was all about feelings.  We started the Mother Goose Time mini unit with a combo happy/sad day.  I had my wisdom teeth out, and was miserable for an embarrassing amount of time this month.  Which put us behind on our studies.  AGAIN!  Someday I WILL get this housewife/homeschooler thing down, but it is taking some time.

The song for both days was variations of "If You're Happy and You Know It", which is always a fun song to sing. 

The first thing we did was play with our magnet set we got this month.  Little Guy had some trouble following the patterns.  He did great when I had him put the pieces on top of the picture, but when I tried to get him to put it on a different piece of paper he got confused and just wanted to put eyes on things.  This kid of mine is obsessed with eyes I think.  I blame Michael for letting him watch Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters. 

We also did what I think was his favorite art project ever.  I don't have an end result picture, because honestly, it didn't turn out like anything.  He started it before lunch, and worked on it again after nap. 
He was supposed to be creating a quilt, but instead he was just cutting, and cutting, and cutting.  I think cutting is his favorite activity.  This was another Invitation to Create.  Like I said, I am being quickly won over by this process type art.  Don't get me wrong, I am still very much a color within the lines kind of girl, but if there ARE no lines, I suppose you can color wherever you want.  He has a lot of fun with art done this way, and I have a lot more fun being able to let him do his thing, not having to micromanage the project so it turns out right. 

On Scared Day, we started out with saying Little Miss Muffet.  When the spider came along I threw the plastic spider that Mother Goose Time sent us on his lap.  I wasn't sure how he would take it, but he was not impressed.  After a quick recovery from the shock of having your mom throw a giant spider in your lap, he was completely enthralled with the spider and took it around with him all morning.  We had to go to the dental surgeon to get my mouth looked at, and he took it with him (the dentist was awesome and pretended to be terrified by the spider, screaming and jumping across the room, which REALLY amused Little Guy), and he had the spider (its name is Charlotte - I read Charlotte's Web to him a year ago and he is still pretty into it) watch him do the rest of his preschool activities.

We did a counting activity that was right up his alley.  Counting monster eyes!  He did quite well at counting them, although he does still get distracted by talking about what he is counting.  I am trying really hard to work with him only counting something once he moves it so he doesn't get ahead of himself.  He also counted all the way to 28 today!  I mean I helped him with 15, because he always forgets 15, and then with some of the twenties, but he knew most of them! 

We also made some fun shadow puppets, although we didn't get a change to use them because our house has a lot of windows, so there isn't really a room we can darken and use flashlights in during the day.  On the Make and Play sheet it said that Bear was scared of the dark.  We talked about what to do when you are scared, and Cat taught Bear that he should say prayers asking Jesus to help him be brave and courageous even when he is scared. 
We were also Surprised this week!  Our storybook of the month was a version of Little Red Riding Hood, and although I usually prefer the more intense morality tales then everyone lives happily ever after versions of the stories (as an example, at our house, Goldilocks get eaten, every time), it is a sweet version, with a wolf that just wants a family.  We played with the storytelling set, first retelling the story, and then pretending to have a surprise party for the wolf. 
Another thing we get every month is pattern card.  Last year we didn't start until November, so we missed the easiest patterns.  I was really happy to start with a simple AB pattern this year.  Patterns are really helping Little Guy, it really helped him with counting to twenty, by being able to see the pattern that a number that starts with a two is a twenty something number.  I was feeding the baby while he did the pattern cards all on his own!  At first he pretended like he needed help, but once he figured out that he wasn't getting any help, he did the pattern correctly all on his own, and quite quickly.
I am so happy that we are given Mother Goose Time for free in exchange for our sharing our fun with everyone.  It is such a great curriculum and teaches him so many things I would never think to teach him, but I know will help him either scholastically or with being a well rounded person.  All opinions are our own, even though we get the product for free.  The most glowing recommendation has to be that Little Guy asks to do Mother Goose Time. unprompted, almost everyday, sometimes even if we have already done it that day.

September 26, 2016

What's New With Mother Goose Time?

Every month we get a School Bus Box from Mother Goose Time.  In the box is an amazing curriculum that teaches and entertains my little boy.  Each package has a great balance between favorites that are included every month (theme posters with looking glasses, pattern sets, storytelling sets, etc.,) and new items (different kinds of manipulatives, interesting arts and craft projects, new storybooks, etc.,).

This year Mother Goose Time has made some wonderful changes to their curriculum, while still providing a familiar curriculum that is comfortable for teachers and students.

The Invitation to Create is the most significant change, in my opinion.  It is a change from product based art projects to process based art projects.  At first I was quite reluctant to embrace this change.  In just a few projects, I have changed my mind.  While I still feel that learning to follow directions is MUCH more important than expressing individuality through art, Little Guy LOVES to do the Invitations to Create.  There are many, many opportunities, both in life and Mother Goose Time that allow me to teach him to follow directions, and Invitations to Create give him a chance to explore different ways of doing things.  There are also Make and Play projects that teach him to follow directions to make a product. 

Another new addition to Mother Goose Time for the 2016/2017 school year are schedule pieces.  As you can see, I still have not cut them out.  I don't have a great schedule right now, but I am 100% certain that these would be a wonderful part of the curriculum for preschools and professional daycares.

I also got My Portfolios, which are a new way of recording assessments.  Each day there is an activity with a star next to it (10-Eyed Monster in the picture below).  There are stickers that you can print out from the Mother Goose Time website, where you record the level the child is at in that area.  For each star activity, you either take a picture or save a work sample.  These samples go into the portfolio, and at the end of the year you have a binder full of their school work.  These are another item that I think would be indispensable for preschools.  I have set up Little Guy's but I don't know how well I will do at filling it out. 

Also new in the Teacher Guide are STEAM Stations and a story of the day listed.  The STEAM stations are open ended activities that are designed to interest children in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.  I LOVE that the story of the day is listed in the Teacher Guide now, and although I doubt it was my opinion that changed it, I did suggest that it would be nice when I started using MGT.

Something that Mother Goose Time always included, and has made SOOOO much better this year, is activities with cubes.  In the past they have been cardboard cubes that you taped together and didn't hold up well with children.  This year they have COMPLETELY upgraded this type of activity.  Now there is a 3 inch (or so) cube that has windows you can slide the cards into.  The squares fit perfectly, and it makes it so much easier to play the games.

Another thing that was always included, but has been greatly improved is the puzzles.  Prior to this year they were flimsy puzzles made of thick paper.  While I could easily assemble them, it was hard for my two year old to get them to stay together while he tried to manipulate the other pieces into the puzzle.  Now they are sturdy cardboard puzzles, much like I remember playing with as a child.

 Mother Goose Time has always been wonderful, but with these new additions, and not at an additional cost, it is even better! 

Little Guy and I get to use Mother Goose Time free of charge in exchange for sharing our experiences.  All opinions are our own!

September 21, 2016

While My Child Is Away by Edie Melson - A Review

Little Guy is still, well, little.  He isn't away from me very often, and when he is it is usually with my husband, mother, or one of the select few people I trust not only to take care of him (which is a huge number, I know a lot of awesome people!), but to expect obedience and deliver consequences if it doesn't happen or is delayed, and not allow him to play on their tablets (a much, much smaller number).  But he is growing up.  This year he has started going to AWANAS, and I know that before I know it he will be involved in more things that don't also involve me.  Thinking of that gives me little mini panic attacks sometimes!  The world can be a scary place, and I fear that I won't do a good enough job raising him to prepare him to face the world and remain a good person.

This book, which was provided to me free of charge from First Look/Worthy Publishing, intrigued me, because, as I said, I am prematurely worried about the choices my son will make in another decade.  Plus, it is beautiful!

The bulk of the book is prayers to pray for your children when they are away from you.  Each section also includes a few prayers you might like to pray for yourself when you are struggling with your child being away.  At the end of each section are a few devotions to help you even more.

There are nine topics:
  1. The Triumph of Love -  Mostly focused on God's Love
  2. Making Good Choices - A lot of talk about wisdom
  3. Peace Beyond Circumstances - For when your child needs to see beyond the present, into the eternal
  4. True Self-Confidence - Purpose, modesty, and materialism to name a few subjects
  5. A Foundation of Faith - Prayers that they will find their own faith, and honor it
  6. A Core of Strength - Including prayers for courage and health
  7. Companions Matter - Marriage, friends, church, and God
  8. My God, My Defender - Safety: In the car, on a plane, in a classroom, etc.
  9. Fully Present - A few more prayers that didn't fit into the other sections
I really like the prayers in this book.  They are the words I would want to say, if only I had thought of them.  The prayers in this book walk the fine line between being personal, and being reverent.  Prayers that are to formal can sound insincere, but I do not like prayers that speak to our Creator God as if he were our peer.  Not to say that sometimes my personal prayers don't sometimes veer off into "to familiar" territory, but if you are publishing a book it is important to me that the prayers are respectful. 

I think that any mother would appreciate this book, and would go back to it many, many times as her children grow up and become more independent.   

You can purchase this book on Amazon for $10.80 by clicking here (not an affiliate link).