Thursday, October 30, 2014

Clued in Kids - Schoolhouse Review

Clued In KidsReview

My kids have always been big fans of scavenger hunts. And they are fun! But the work that goes into them, coming up with clever and age-appropriate clues, is just too much work! Clued in Kids has come up with a solution to that problem. We were asked to review the Halloween Treasure Hunt (pdf printable) and Princess Clue Pad (physical treasure hunt) from Clued in Kids. The great thing about reviewing this product is that it required absolutely no work on my part. All I had to do was tear out the clues, put them where I was told to put them, put a prize at the end, and send my kids off on their hunt.

The company motto of Clued in Kids is "Treasure the Journey". This definitely fits in with our homeschooling philosophy that we are on a Journey to Excellence. And what better way to travel the journey than to have fun, to enjoy it, to treasure it!

The creator of Clued in Kids followed a childhood dream of professionally creating treasure hunts for children. It was after her and her daughter underwent some dramatic nutritional changes due to autoimmune diseases that her passion for treasure hunts was combined with her desire to educate children. She knows from experience that educated children are empowered children.

Most of the treasure hunts are for fun. There are party/playdate hunts, seasonal hunts, sports hunts, and even greeting card hunts (what a fun idea!). Additionally Clued in Kids has two nutrition hunts: Gluten Free and Happy Tummy. Very cool idea.

All of the treasure hunts are in a pdf printable format with the exception of the following which are physical products called a Clue Pad:
  • Christmas Treasure Hunt in a Greeting Card
  • Playdate
  • Pirate
  • Princess
  • Slumber Party
There are season/holiday treasure hunts for just about every holiday you can imagine, both Christian and secular. We received the Halloween Treasure Hunt in the pdf printable format. The cost of this treasure hunt is $5.99 and contains everything you need to have the hunt, except for the treat at the end. Some good ideas on this hunt might be a new trick-or-treating bag, some glow necklaces or bracelets, or a flashlight. It took about 10 minutes to print off all of the clues and distribute them in the appropriate places. My two children did the hunt together, but you could have up to 10 children join in on the fun. The hunt takes about 30-60 minutes depending on how well your children interpret the clues and how many children are involved. This would be lots of fun to do at a Halloween party!

Clued In KidsReview

We also received the Princess Clue Pad in a physical format. I chose this one because I knew our little diva Macie would love it! The cost of the Princess hunt is $8.99 and, again, contains everything you need to do the hunt except for the end treasure. A good idea might be some fun stickers, some party jewelry, or a crown! This hunt took less time to set up because it did not require printing off the clues. I just distributed the clues in the appropriate places and Brynne and Macie were off. Eli opted out of the princess hunt. With Brynne helping Macie it only took about 25 minutes to get through the hunt. This would definitely be a fun activity at a Princess birthday party!

Clued In KidsReview

I wish that I had age-appropriate nieces and/or nephews to whom I could send the Christmas Treasure Hunt in a Greeting Card. How fun would that be to receive as a kid? I might have to purchase a few of them for my two year old nieces to receive when they get a little older. Do your kids' friends get bored quickly when they come over to play? How about the Playdate Clue Pad. That would be something nice to have in the cabinet on a rainy day.

If you would like a Free Treasure Hunt, you can go to Clued in Kids and provide your e-mail address to receive it. It is called Homework Reward Treasure Hunt. That is one for us moms to keep handy, huh? Try this out and see just why you will want to order more Clued in Kids hunts!

All of the hunts are appropriate for a variety of age ranges. Some can be completed by children as young as 4 but others will need adults or older children to help coordinate. I would advise that you look at the clues to determine how much help your children might need.

Many of the treasure hunts were reviewed by other Schoolhouse Review Crew members. You can go to the blog to read those reviews.

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Wednesday Hodgepodge

This one is a day late. But I always love answering all of these questions so your Wednesday Hodgpodge is really on Thursday. I did ponder the majority of these questions yesterday.

Are there hunters in your family? If so, what do they hunt? Which of the following have you tasted - pheasant, rabbit, venison, duck, goose? Which of those would you most like to taste, or be most willing to taste? Vegetarians .. keep calm and Hodgepodge on!

My dad used to go deer hunting for a week on opening season every year. And I kind of remember my brother bow hunting deer when he was a teenager. Other than that we have not been a big hunting family, until Collin. Collin lives and breathes hunting and fishing. He shoots a bow and a gun. He hunts deer and turkey. Kyndal is a hunting widow from early fall until late spring. Then he is at the lake fishing every chance he gets. I have eaten venison and do not care for it. I guess I would like to taste an elegantly prepared duck or goose. Other than that, no thanks!

What high spot have you visited that gave you a wonderful 'bird's eye view' of something below?

Rick and I love high heights with views below! Some memorable ones were the island views from the lighthouse in Bermuda, the tops of the clouds when traveling up to the Haleakala Crater on Maui, and the heights of the Grand Tetons overlooking Lake Jenny.

Do you have any birds in your home? These could be either real live pets or decorative, as in bird prints, knickknacks, fabric or pottery.

I kind of have a bird fetish, but I have tried to limit it to the kitchen and my bedroom. I have a rooster theme in my kitchen so have lots of stuff ... pottery, rug, knobs, lamps, etc. In my bedroom I have a pillow with a bird on it, an iron bird hook where I hang my scarves, and some old Home Interiors bird wall art that I have spray painted.

Tell about a time you 'killed two birds with one stone'.

The only thing I can really think of is that I started babysitting Macie. Not only was I able to help out a friend who had a need, but I was able to start making some extra money to help pay for Kyndal's upcoming wedding.

Your favorite song with a bird in its title.

"Fly Like an Eagle" by Steve Miller Band. I hear this tune very often from the front seat of my Suburban while the kids are watching Space Jam on the dvd player.

What most recently gave you goosebumps?

Even seeing a snake in a magazine or book or t.v. gives me chills up and down my spine and nervous goosebumps. I can't hardly look at them behind cages at the zoo. Creepy crawly!

Halloween is this Friday ... any plans? Did you trick or treat as a child? Carve pumpkins? Share your most memorable costume.

We will do what we do every year. The kids will get all costumed up and we'll collect candy from the merchants in our town on Main Street. We'll stop by our church for hot dogs and hot chocolate and probably do Trunk or Treat at one of the churches. Corn dogs are also 50 cents on Halloween at Sonic so we will have those at some point and some homemade macaroni and cheese with some fun Halloween pasta I picked up at Aldi.

We do not do store bought costumes. I have always made my kids' costumes. This is a challenge since I don't sew. But we make it work with hot glue and hem tape. The kids have been frogs, dogs, ninjas, Kung Fu Panda, Minnie Mouse, cowboys, Super Mario characters, Pokemon characters, ladybugs, and more. This year Eli is going to be Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a hockey zombie) and Brynne is going to be Katniss from The Hunger Games.

We always went trick-or-treating as a kid. I don't ever remember us carving pumpkins, though. My greatest Halloween memory was going to my Aunt Rhonda's. She would give us a bread bag filled with full sized candy bars. I loved going there! My grandma made me some great costumes when I was little. I was an indian girl, a scarecrow, and my sister and I were Raggedy Ann and Andy (Or at least I think we were. I know she was one of them. I am assuming I was the other.)

Insert your own random thought here.

I am looking forward to Halloween tomorrow! We love Halloween. Brynne has been really sick this whole week and she is a tad better today so I am praying that she is well enough to go tomorrow. We have worked hard on her costume, and it will be a shame if she doesn't get to wear it. Her daddy said he would carry her around if he has to.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our Weekend Ended on a High ...

.... Fever, that is.

But we'll get to that in a minute. Let's talk about the other extreme highs of our weekend! Because there were many.

Rick showed up on Friday with our king sized bed! Thankfully our bedroom suite fit in our tiny bedroom, although it's cramped. But I don't care because we are now sleeping comfortably.

On Saturday morning Eli and Brynne started their new bowling season. Their team, the Cobras, won first in state last spring so they were presented with their plaques. Eli also received a plaque for placing 4th in singles. Then the kids bowled three games. We are so proud of them and excited for another season!

Rick took Brynne to play golf and after Eli got a haircut from Kyndal (and a massage in the pedi chair), she and I went "to town" to get groceries and Halloween costume props.

We might have stopped for a little snack because THE McRIB IS BACK! It's my favorite time of the year!

We got home at dinner time and Collin grilled chicken while Kyndal made pasta and I put away groceries. We had dinner and then carved pumpkins.

On Sunday Brynne had a volleyball tournament. They played five full games. She had been feeling bad on Saturday evening but went to the tournament anyway because this was the one and only time Rick has gotten to see her play and it meant so much to her. By the end of the tournament she was running a fever which she ran all night.

Dawson and I watched three episodes of Game of Thrones Sunday evening. I was wiped out and couldn't do even one more thing, like my dishes ... (I did get them loaded into the dishwasher first thing Monday morning.)

or roasting this huge batch of pumpkin seeds ... (although I did get them roasted and seasoned with cajun seasoning this morning.)

Now back to the high fever ... Brynne has run a fever between 102 and 103 since Sunday night so we haven't done any schoolwork so far this week. Turns out that volleyball tournament was her last time to play volleyball this season because she has been too sick this week to attend any of her games. I did take her to the doctor this morning and she just has a virus. She tested negative for strep and the flu. So she and I have been getting caught up on some episodes of Once Upon a Time.

Staty turned for an upcoming post called "We Went South" because after such a great weekend, lots of yucky things have happened. Oh, the ebb and flow of life.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Living Things (Prairie Primer ~ Plum Creek Week 1)

All things with school went as planned last week, with the exception of a slower day on Wednesday because I had a really bad sinus headache that I couldn't shake. On that day the kids still got the basics done, worked on their current art project, and watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

We have been without a Bible curriculum for the past few weeks waiting for our new one to come in, and it did over the weekend. So we were back at Stick Figuring Through the Bible on Monday, this time from the New Testament. We have used Grapevine Studies Level 3-4 for the past two years and it is a highlight of our morning. My kids have learned so much by using it and were excited to start drawing about Jesus!

We also moved on ahead in Math U See Delta with two-digit division with remainders. The kids have already learned this with the CTC math curriculum they used over the summer. But it's nice to be building on division from the ground up again.

Even though our review period is over, we are continuing with Fix-It Grammar by Institute for Excellence in Writing. I love this program. The lessons are short with daily review and both of the kids have improved, especially Eli. There are no complaints when it's time for grammar.

Every day the kids read books of their choice. Brynne has been reading One White Dolphin for a few weeks. Eli is reading another book from the Middle School series by James Patterson. To think that Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants are responsible for Eli's love of reading. Mary at Homegrown Learners had a lively debate over the topic of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. What do you think about such "twaddle"? (My opinion is that Greg Hefley is one of the reasons why Eli now loves to read. Twaddle or not, my goal was reached. If you have a kid who doesn't like to read, get him or her those books .. Brynne loves them, too!) The newest Wimpy Kid book will be released on November 4th. Eli is definitely getting it for his birthday!

Last week we finished Little House on the Prairie and this week we started On the Banks of Plum Creek. This is something else that the kids look forward to every day.

Classifications of Living Things

Classifying living things was a review for us but we dug a little deeper into it this time. We used the mnemonic "King Phillip Came Over for Good Spaghetti" to help us memorize "Kingdom, Phylus, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species". See, it works! I just did those from memory! We used Playdoh to demonstrate how each classification narrows down the living thing to minute characteristics.

Then we did a fun activity where we answered certain questions to identify the animals.

"Bank of Plum Creek" Art

We kind of came up with our own art project after reading the first few chapters of On the Banks of Plum Creek. First the kids drew a tree trunk with colored pencils. Then they used watercolors to paint Plum Creek flowing behind the tree. Then they colored in the grass and sky with colored pencils. Along the banks of the creek were rushes and blue flags. They colored those in. Finally we glued crayon shavings (I just crushed them in a ziplock bag with a hammer) to the top of our paper and blow dried them to get crayon drippings down the page to make a willow tree. According to the book there were lots of willows next to the creek. As the dripping was inconsistent, the kids used q-tips to "paint" the willow branches with the melted crayons. Overall they turned out really neat.

Pond Water Observation

Tuesday was a beautiful day so we went down to the park to collect some pond water. We watched a video called "The Important Little Life of Dylan Diatom" that showed a day in the life of a diatom. We also looked at some virtual microscope slides of pond water.

On Thursday the high school science teacher allowed us to come up to the school and use a microscope to inspect our pond specimen. The kids were thrilled to see active diatoms float across right in their view. They took a few minutes and drew what they saw in their science notebooks.

We discussed water purification briefly and planned to make a homemade water purification system with sand, rocks and charcoal. We didn't get to it last week, but we are going to try to fit it in this week.

Parts of a Tree

We went over the part of a tree again and read the book Are Trees Alive by Debbie S. Miller. The kids then did some worksheets to diagram the parts of the tree.

The Adventures of the Wilderness Family

Homeschooling affords me the opportunity to pull out some of my favorite childhood movies to share with my kids. On Friday we popped some popcorn and enjoyed The Adventures of the Wilderness Family. This movie is about an L.A. family who gives it all up to move to a cabin in the Montana wilderness. It is such a great book about wilderness survival and how a family handles the stress of isolation and danger.

It was a great week! So grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

1. Dawson and I are at it again. We have started another television show ... Game of Thrones. It is epic. It takes place in Dawson's favorite time period and has lots of history involved, which we both love. Now, it has some pretty intense sexual content and gore so I have to turn my head sometimes. But overall it is fascinating television. We checked out Season 1 from the library and have Season 2 on order. We have been watching an episode every night after the little kids go to bed.

2. As you are reading this I am probably sleeping! Our public schools are out today so Macie's mom does not have to work. I have a shorter and more relaxed school schedule planned for my kiddos so we are sleeping in! I need it with the sinus headache I have had the past several days.

3. With Kyndal's wedding coming up in July, I felt it was necessary to seek some part-time employment to help with the cost. Weddings are expensive. I have been taking care of Macie since school started for a small amount of money. But I have recently added a job as a receptionist at Kyndal's salon two afternoons a week. It's tough. Macie gets to the house a little after 7 in the mornings so I am up early ready to receive her. On my work days the kids and I have to start school super early to get in enough hours before I have to go to work. Many of those evenings we have activities that I have to get us to right after work, so I have to be ultra prepared with changes of clothes ready and sometimes dinner packed for the road. Some days I have dinner ready before I leave for work at 1:00 p.m. Other nights we don't have dinner until late in the evening. Then I come home to take care of the household duties I usually get done during the day. I am tired. But I have to do what I have to do for the time being. And it is kind of fun to spend some time with adults and to see my Kyndal working at her dream job. (I realize single working moms do this every day. Kudos to them.)

4. Last night Dawson and about five of his friends went to the vacant lot across the street and played a massive game of ultimate frisbee. Another of his friends came over and talked to me for about 30 minutes and then he had three guys spend the night, up all night playing video games. I am grateful for a good son with sweet friends. They are good kids and I am happy to have them hanging out at my house.

5. Brynne finishes up her volleyball season next week and then goes straight into basketball the first week of November. The kids both also start their bowling league on Saturday. Brynne bowls just because it's fun. Eli bowls because it is his only sport of choice. He LOVES bowling! He has been counting down the days this week to the start of his season. On Saturday morning their team will receive their plaques for winning 1st place in the state of Missouri for their division at last year's state tournament. Eli will receive an additional plaque for placing 5th in state in singles out of about 100 kids in his division. We thought things were busy before ... watch out!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Elizabeth Lawrence is quoted as saying, "Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn." So have you done just that? And what did you leave undone to do so?

Does this mean literally taking time to watch leaves or metaphorically, like taking time to stop and smell the roses? I am not one who is afraid to let things go in order to appreciate the sweet things of life. I have literally sat on my porch swing and stared at the colored leaves while I am thinking about all of the leaves on the ground that need raked. I don't care a thing about putting aside a task I "need" to do to, instead, sit and drink a cup of tea while taking in the beauty of things around me. My soul needs it. There have been times that I have scrapped a homeschool lesson just to listen to my kids laughing and playing together in the next room. I have left loads of laundry undone to spend time with one of my older kids watching a television show or going for a walk. On the days where I check every single thing off my 'to do' list without taking a moment to breathe, I find that I have not had much of an appreciation anything.

Since we're talking turning .... what's one thing you feel you're doing 'every time you turn around'?

You have read this answer at least three times in the past couple of weeks. Every time I turn around, and I mean almost every time, I see one or more of my couch pillows on the ground. The dogs and kids knock them off a gazillion times a day. Yes, a gazillion.

How hard is it for you to 'turn the other cheek'?

It. is. not. easy. Not at all. I do find that I am getting a tad better at it, though, especially if I am dealing with someone who is ignorant.

When did you last turn a drawer, your car, a room, or your entire house upside down looking for something? Did you find it?

Right now I cannot find a pair of Nike basketball pants I bought Brynne at the end of the season last year. They are really nice and I got them really cheap. I know that I put them away somewhere "clever" so that I would find them at the beginning of basketball season. But I have unloaded clothes tubs, looked through all dresser drawers and closets, looked in athletic bags, and I cannot find them ANYWHERE! I am sure I will find them right at the end of the season. It drives me crazy!!

'One good turn deserves another" ... were you most recently on the giving or receiving end of that sentiment?

Gosh. I can't really think of anything specific. I try to always be kind to others when I am out and about .. let someone go ahead of me in a checkout line, hold a door open for someone, ask if there is anything I can do to help someone. I always just hope that my act of random kindness might brighten the day of that person to where they will feel inspired to be kind to someone else.

Red, yellow, and orange are the colors of fall. Also the colors of fruit. If you were permitted only one color of fruit in your diet, which would you choose? This question isn't as easy as it sounds, at least not for me.

It would be purple. I don't eat a ton of fruit, but when I do it's either blueberries or purple grapes.

The Hunt for Red October, October Sky, Halloween ... which "October" film is your favorite?

I haven't seen any movies with the word 'October' in the title, but the movie that always plays in October that we love is "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". Any Charlie Brown movie is loved at our house.

Insert your own random thought here.

Dawson and I have been watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones on dvd at night after the little kids go to bed. (Do you know how much it means to your kids to set aside time doing something with only them?) After the episodes we end up in some pretty deep conversations. After he shared with me some hurts he has experienced recently, he told me that he had just sent me something to my phone that he wanted me to keep. He said it was what he has been leaning on to help him with his pain.

I am so grateful for strong relationships with my kids and that even though we are close, they know the real source of their comfort and strength.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Fall Y'all

Our family went to a local pumpkin patch on Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful day and we had so much fun! Prairie's End was a crazy fun pumpkin patch with lots to do. Be ready for some picture overload.

I hope you are enjoying your fall season. We sure are!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

He is a Man

Yesterday my son became a man. Dawson turned 18 years old. It was such a great day celebrating him and his transition from boy to man. And what did my new man want to do for his birthday?

He wanted to go to Incredible Pizza Company!!!

We all loaded up in the car and drove the two hours to the nearest Incredible Pizza. We spent the night eating and playing games. It was lots of fun!!!

Dawson wanted the entire Avatar: The Last Airbender series on dvd. We got him that and a Gamestop gift card. Oh, and a coffee mug. But there's an inside joke about that.

Taylar surprised him with an awesome headset for his XboxOne and a video game organizer.

Wesley, one of his best friends from Oklahoma came to spend the weekend with him. It was great to have one of our boys here.

I can't say enough how proud I am of the young man Dawson has become. He was such a stinker growing up (and still has a little orneriness in him) that it is just awesome to see how he has grown. It is hard for me to put into words how I feel about him. He is an awesome son and brother and we just love him so much. When Dawson was a little boy I used to always tell him that God gave him to me to bring laughter into my life. And he still does that every day. I am so proud of him and excited to see what he does in the future.