Back in November, when we talked about the new light bulb legislation, I shared a little bit about our family’s transition away from incandescent bulbs. I created a homeschool Math lesson for our kids to decide if alternatives to incandescent lights made budget-sense, and if so, which ones were right for us. We worked, [...]
Back in November, when we talked about the new light bulb legislation, I shared a little bit about our family’s transition away from incandescent bulbs. I created a homeschool Math lesson for our kids to decide if alternatives to incandescent lights made budget-sense, and if so, which ones were right for us. We worked, together, to discover which bulbs made the most sense for our “personal economy” and still produced functional light. Calculating our current energy costs for lights, we were able to compare it to the energy costs of other types of bulbs that were available, namely the GE Energy Efficient Soft Whites (halogen), GE CFLs (compact flourescent lamps) and LEDs. We, actually, learned how to find the annual energy cost of ANY bulb, (any electric appliance, too), if we knew the number of hours per day it would be used, the wattage and the price being charged per kWh (kilowatt our) by the local utility company. With that information in hand we were able to calculate the impact on our budget that simply switching out our light bulbs could make. While initial cost and energy cost were certainly critical factors, the quality of the light produced was also weighed into our decisions. I really enjoyed doing this project with our kids and I learned as much as they did. And if I’m honest, I have to admit to you, no one was more surprised than me, at what we discovered. I really didn’t believe that light bulbs were the big energy guzzlers in our household; and secretly, I have always thought the big fuss about shutting off the lights when you leave a room was a little theatrical. Now, bring on the drama!
The first surprising revelation was the sheer number of light bulbs in our home – 73 incandescent and 6 fluorescent tubes! Oy! The next big shocker was how much of our electricity cost was coming from them. And keep in mind, these figures do not include the cost of our fluorescent tubes, only the incandescent bulbs. I shared an information sheet with you, in my last post, that showed how to calculate energy cost for your own light bulbs. If you missed it, here is the formula.
To get the number of kWh (kilowatt hours) your bulb is using in a day, multiply its wattage times the average number of hours it is “on” in one day and then divide by 1000.
kWh (per day) = watts x hours ÷ 1000
Multiply the kWh you get in that equation, by the cost your utility company charges for a kWh. (The national average is $ .11/kWh.)
Daily energy cost = kWh (per day) x your utility’s charge for 1 kWh
Annual Energy Cost = Daily Energy Cost x 365
With the help of this formula and a calculator, we estimated what we were spending each year to operate all 73 of our light bulbs. We based our calculations on the national average of 3 hours per day. Sadly, I know there are a couple of rooms that exceed that 3 hours, substantially, but that makes these figures even more significant. I wonder if you’ll be as blown away by them as I was. What I’m hoping is it will inspire you to take your own light bulb inventory and calculate what you could be saving on your electricity every year.
When we started this project, I hadn’t even included LEDs in our original spreadsheet. Having checked them out online, I was convinced that the bulbs were not affordable enough to justify the small savings between them and CFLs. After a little further research, I decided to add them into our math lesson. Here’s why. Typically I spend around $2 for a package of 4 incandescent bulbs. (I noticed them on clearance for $1, last night, at our local Walmart.) So, when I saw that LED replacement bulbs for my living room ceiling fan were $47.74 each, and not even available in any stores, locally, you can understand why I crossed them off my list. I was satisfied that the CFLs would provide such a significant savings over what we were currently using. They were only about $4 each and I could grab them right off the shelf when I did our grocery shopping at Walmart. Here’s why I decided to go ahead and consider them – the replacement cost per year for each type of bulb.
The other factors I considered were:
- Did we like the light they produced? – We really didn’t have a problem with any of the bulbs not producing enough light to be comfortable. As a matter of fact, some of the new alternatives did such a good job, we would need to scale back the wattage even further. A good example of this would be over the vanity strip lights with the globe bulbs. We have always used 60W bulbs in those and for makeup plenty of light is a necessity in the bathroom. So, I bought the CFL equivalents of a 60W bulb. It’s almost too bright, so we could probably get by with an even lower wattage when we replace them. None of the bulbs we tested had difficulty adequately lighting the area in which we were using them. So, on that score they all tested equally.
- Disposal – CFLs contain small amounts of mercury and Argon gas to make them operate, which is no big deal, unless you break one, or it’s burned out and you need to throw it away. Unlike incandescent bulbs, you can’t just toss a CFL bulb in your wastebasket. If you break one, you need to follow special instructions for cleaning up the area to avoid risk of exposure to the mercury, especially for children. While the chances of that are slim, it’s still a consideration. I live in a small town, not a city, so it was important to me to know how I would be able to dispose of CFL bulbs. It looks like some larger chain hardware stores offer free disposal services by simply taking any unbroken CFLs to their customer service desk. I checked out a website called Earth 911 and wasn’t able to find anything local for CFL recycling, but did find two places in the city, (about 35 miles to the store that takes them). LEDs don’t contain any heavy metals or gases and can be disposed of just like an incandescent bulb. That is a HUGE factor for our family.
- Instant On – Some CFLs take a little bit to warm up and reach their full light potential. Others are called Instant On and have a halogen tube inside that allows the light to come on instantly and then shuts down once the CFL is warmed up. LEDs are instant on.
- Sound – Though it is slight in most of them, that tell-tale CFL buzz or hum is still evident in quite a few of the CFL bulbs we tested. We didn’t get that with the LEDs we tried.
When we tested out new bulbs for this project, we replaced 18 of our 73 bulbs. Our local Walmart only carried CFLs, in the sizes and styles we needed, so we started with those. I did purchase 4 LED bulbs as 40W replacements for our living room ceiling fan, after a few weeks, switching them for the CFLs we had put in there. I wanted to see for myself how they compared. So, we have 14 CFLs and 4 LEDs. After almost two months using the bulbs, I am completely convinced that light bulbs ARE a significant factor in household energy costs. Even though we only replaced 1/4 of our bulbs, our electric bill has reflected just over $13 savings, each of the last two months. That’s remarkable! I really didn’t expect to see that so soon. Imagine when the other 3/4 are changed out! I’m so motivated to do more, now.
With my husband not being able to work, since July 4 of 2012, this project really got me thinking about new ways to cut our monthly budget – ways that I previously believed were simply static, reduced as low as we could get them. After all, we use electricity every day and we need it. It costs what it costs and there’s not much I can do about it, right? I don’t believe that anymore. Groceries aren’t the only place I can add some savings into our budget, now. Our dishwasher has to be replaced, this week, and now that I understand wattage and kWh, you can bet I will be tracking the energy use of any appliance before making a purchase. And without a doubt, I am going to be setting aside a little money each month to switch out every incandescent bulb in our house. I’m going to spring for the GE Energy Smart LEDs. The long life, easy disposal, less risk around kids if one is broken and the incredible savings in energy make them the best option for our home and for our family’s budget.
To learn more about all three of GE’s light bulb technology types available at Walmart/Sams, find out about the new light bulb legislation, and scope out your own available alternatives and energy savings, try some of these online resources:
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and GE Lighting . A positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. #CBias #SocialFabric #GELighting
I’m sitting next to my husband’s hospital bed, this morning, and I am rejoicing! God is so incredibly good and throughout this entire experience, has been so incredibly present — opening doors, paving the way, protecting us — I’m feeling blessed and grateful. I’ve had several people look at me like I’m crazy when I [...]
I’m sitting next to my husband’s hospital bed, this morning, and I am rejoicing! God is so incredibly good and throughout this entire experience, has been so incredibly present — opening doors, paving the way, protecting us — I’m feeling blessed and grateful. I’ve had several people look at me like I’m crazy when I talk about the last six months that way; and I don’t generally get too personal on this blog, but things are going to be changing for our family, and thus for my blog. I decided there’s no better time to give you a glimpse into what that will mean and why I am so certain of the Lord’s presence in our situation.
First of all, it stinks to be sick. It stinks like crazy to be sick, long-term. I get that. But, I also get that no matter what the world and circumstances can throw at us, we have all we need to overcome and persevere; and we are DEFINITELY not doing it alone. Choosing peace IS an option. Just because it isn’t the easiest one, doesn’t eliminate it as a choice and just because we might momentarily give in to fear, anxiety or a full-on pity-party, it doesn’t mean we’ve lost our faith or that that perfect peace can’t be regained. We can choose it, again. Even if we step out of the light, our Lord and Savior is there to welcome us, when we choose to step back in. I have been a personal witness to that truth more times than I could count over the last six months.
David woke up on the 4th of July, unable to get out of bed or stand on his own. As he has had a herniated disc, in the past, my first inclination was to get him straight to our chiropractor. My daughters and I had been trying to get him in there for months, but he stubbornly resisted and so, though I knew he was in pain, I was grateful that it was the impetus to nudge him into a healthier choice and getting him back into the habit of maintaining his health, in that way. My sixteen-year-old son and I basically carried him back and forth to the car, those first days and weeks, going to chiropractor appointments and getting what turned out to be another herniated disc treated. Can you imagine being thankful for a herniated disc? Not knowing the path and plan God is using to work to His perfect end, makes it easy not to be, in the heat of the moment. I can sit here, today, and tell you I’m so indescribably grateful for the help and protection it provided my husband. I was NOT as patient and understanding in the middle of the problem, but still I can say I was thankful for the great care and the knowledge of our chiropractor.
After a couple weeks, David began improving and seemed to be able to bear more of his own weight when he stood or walked. We could see some great progress and were very encouraged. Then, like flipping off a light switch, he began to regress, but the pain was coming from a new area — his hip. Our chiropractor continued to work, maintaining and improving his spine, even doing an MRI of the herniated area, to make sure he wasn’t missing something; but finally recommended we visit our medical doctor when the hip pain continued to increase. He felt like we needed a full-on x-ray of the hip.
Wouldn’t you know our family physician of more than 20 years, was retiring right at that time, so we saw several different doctors over the course of some very UNproductive and unhelpful appointments and still never got an x-ray. Since we weren’t getting help there, our chiropractor suggested a physical therapist and we tried that. He said he would gladly work with David, but not until the hip was cleared and told us to see our physician for a hip x-ray. lol We tried one more time and ended up with a very young, very I-know-what-your-problem-is doctor, who wasn’t much interested in listening to us. He gave David a steroid injection in the offending hip joint and sent us home.
David’s pain was excruciating and the injection had only magnified it. I drove straight back to our chiropractor and when he opened the door to the exam room, I asked if he would x-ray David’s hip. He dropped everything and did that for us. Within a few minutes he had called me into his office, showed me the x-rays (rolled them up and gave them to me, actually), coaching me in exactly what to say when we got to the emergency room. He was certain David had a bone infection (A huge portion of the ball of his hip was gone and the surface of it, as well as the socket it fit into, was jagged and uneven, leaving bone jammed against bone, with no insulating space or cartilage. No wonder he was in pain!) and also certain that I would need all the information I could have, since they weren’t likely to take the word of a chiropractor or just me. He was correct on that score, but without the very clear and excellent x-rays he had taken, I am certain they would have just sent us home, as with previous visits. Praise God for the herniated disc that took us to him and a chiropractor who was willing to listen and take action. The hospital took their own x-rays, of course, after looking at the ones I brought in. They diagnosed David with avascular necrosis or a bone infection (Imagine that! ) and referred us to an orthopedic surgeon for an appointment, the next morning.
Not being able to get the doctor recommended for a procedure seems like a bad thing, but as with everything in God’s plan, His ways make our own seem absurd, in hindsight. The orthopedic surgeon that we met with, instead, has been patient, compassionate and incredibly skilled. He took the time to know our personal situation as a single-income, homeschooling family and while providing the most conservative and wonderful care for David, was acutely aware of the insurance, family leave and disability criteria that needed to be taken care of, as well. David had surgery on August 26 to debride (say like dee-breed) his femur and hip of the staph infection that had been eroding them away. During his stay we witnessed another of God’s mercies, when it was determined that he had a responsive strain of staph and not MRSA. What a great blessing and relief that was! His stay was a little longer than expected, because he developed a severe afibrillation during surgery that is now being controlled with medication. The last day that we were at the hospital, I was trained to administer his IV antibiotics, because those would continue for four weeks at home. To be allowed to do that, instead of paying for home health care, was yet more Divine protection. God provided, again.
Originally, the prognosis was that David would have to be infection-free for 6 to 12 months, before his hip could be replaced. He had already been off work for a little over 2 months and had about three and a half months of short-term disability left. When that ran out, the company he has worked for, for a little over 23 years, said that he would be terminated, meaning we would lose our insurance and income, long before his hip could be replaced. That came as a blow, but we were so focused on getting him healthy, we just kept plugging along and trusting God to put things together in the way that was right for our family. He was having blood tests every 30 days to be sure there were no signs of infection. He also began doing physical therapy, to strengthen the muscles in his legs, so that they would hold his bone in place better, even if the hip couldn’t. It went well and he got stronger and stronger.
In August, just before his surgery, we also realized that the 40% disability payments would not come close to covering our normal expenses and the mounting hospital and doctor bills. We decided to try and mortgage our house. That doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people, I know, but we have been debt-free for going on 10 years, now, and having to make the decision to do that so we would have cash to get by on, while he continued out of work, and I could continue homeschooling our kids, was HUGE to us. Just asking to do it was HUGE. When we finally decided that was what we should do, we discovered that it’s not so simple if you’re on disability. Any possible loan would be considered against the small disability income, not his typical income. Even if I were to get a job, the income would not be considered since it would not have been at least a one-year work history, plus if I were working, I wouldn’t be available to provide his care. We pretty much ran into walls with every mortgage option, being turned down time after time, and were beginning to go ahead and look at jobs for me, when our banker called with a special loan option that could work for us. Using David’s disability checks and the small income I had from the blog, last year, on the application, we squeaked by with just enough monthly income to qualify for a small line of credit, using our house as collateral. It would be enough to get us by for at least 6 months. The fact that we had been turned down for every option and then the bank called, out of the blue, to tell us about this option, could only have been the hand of God.
We set about the business of living and getting David healthy. We did IV antibiotics, at home, three times a day for 4 weeks. He started physical therapy and after several weeks, grew stronger than before his injury. Strengthening his leg muscles helped to hold his femur in place, since the ball of his hip wasn’t there to do it and that allowed him to have somewhat less pain. After another month, he was no longer using the walker, graduating to crutches, and doing well as long as he didn’t put any weight on his left leg. After another month, he began using a cane and felt so much more “normal”. The good news is that at the beginning of November, our orthopedic surgeon told us that all of David’s blood work since the time of his surgery had come back free of infection and that if he continued that way, his hip replacement surgery could be moved up to right after Christmas, instead of having to wait until March or April. What a miracle!!! Not only had God protected him from colds, flu and bronchitis that were going on all around us, (even in our own home), he would be back on his feet, months earlier than anticipated and the surgery would happen before the end of the year, meaning we would not have to repay all our insurance deductibles!
We continued physical therapy, so he could become stronger and stronger, because his employer told him if he would work the last 30 days, before his hip replacement surgery, he would be reclassified as an active employee and could reapply for a second round of short-term disability, which would provide a 40% paycheck, and more importantly, protect his job for an additional 26 weeks (6 months). Amazing! They had been so negative about the chances of his keeping his job, previously, so we were ecstatic about this change of heart.
David returned to his work as a machine operator in an automotive manufacturing plant, on November 26. This proved to be the most challenging part of the experience, because it was incredibly painful and he was not able to take the prescription pain medications and still work in the plant. More evidence of God’s protection and love was showered on us, each day, as David was able to muscle through and put in an 8 hour shift. I will never forget the sacrifice he made for our family, to do that. During the third week, the plant was winding down for the holidays, with less work available and so he was able to work 4 hour shifts and have them count as a full day. In his final week back at work, he only worked two hours each day, to achieve the coveted “active” status and then was off for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. He celebrated Christmas at home with our kids and grandkids, even playing “Grandpa Claus”, to the delight of the little ones.
So, here we are, back to where I began this story. I am sitting next to his bed in our hospital room. As I finish this post, that I began yesterday morning, he is resting quietly and has logged two full laps around the hospital perimeter with a walker. He is able to put his own body weight on his left leg, for the first time, since July 4th, and he is jubilant! The greatest fear, at this point, is that he feels so good that he will over-do; so the staff is constantly reminding him to take things slowly. In the 48 hours since his surgery, physical therapists and his surgeon have told us that he has progressed well beyond what a typical patient can do after several days of rehab, when they’ve been released from the hospital. The hip replacement went “textbook perfect” and we can do nothing more than give praise and glory to our gracious Father in heaven for his protection and intercession throughout the experience. Doctors anticipate that because of his young age and physical strength, the typical 6 month recovery will more likely be shortened to 2 and that he will be able to return to work, healthy and strong, as though none of this had ever happened. There won’t be any IV therapy at home, this time, so that will seem super simple. The nurse has just come and trained me to give him injections for his blood thinner, though, as we will need to continue that for 10 days after returning home. That’s the most technical thing we will have to do. Then life will be, sort of, back to normal. It’s such an amazing feeling to see him healthy, hopeful and smiling. God is so good!
So, though I haven’t explained my sometimes long absences, from the blog, this year; you have a better idea of where I’ve been and why. The other reason for this lengthy story is to bring you up to speed on what all this means for our family and, therefore, for the blog. My husband’s income will not absorb the new mortgage and some of the additional medical bills that will be coming after the deductibles kick in again, January 1. This means that our family will be beginning a new adventure, one that I never dreamed we would take, but one that God has paved the path for without any reservations over the past few weeks. Though we have homeschooled our children for the last 23 years, our two youngest are officially enrolled in public school for the semester beginning in January, and I will be looking for a job, outside our home, as soon as David is strong enough to get along in the house on his own. I would love to have you praying for this time of transition for us. Somehow, I think the kids will adapt more quickly than Mom. It’s hard to imagine not having them home with me. I AM looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy a work environment and grown-up conversation, again, after 29 years at home. Change can be good, it’s just different. My hope is to continue the blog, though I know there will be less time to do it. My intention is to fine-tune it’s content to be almost exclusively recipe and house-related, with any giveaways reflecting that theme.
I love writing this blog and I love all of you. Seriously! So many of you have become friends, though we have never physically met, and I appreciate the way you rally around and support and encourage. When I began the blog, I had no idea such a thing would be possible. What a blessing you are in my life! I know you will continue to pray for and lift up our family, as we venture into this new chapter of our lives, and I want to thank you for that. It means so much! In the meantime, I know you may see fewer posts, until I get our new routine down, but I want you to know, I’m still here. And I can’t wait to “see you around the blog”! Have a blessing-filled New Year!
Much love! ~Glenda
Agree with it or not, in January, our lighting options are going to change. Don’t panic. No one is going to knock on the front door and confiscate your light bulb stockpile. But, manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce the traditional incandescent bulbs we’ve all been accustomed to. Standard 100-watt bulbs have [...]
Agree with it or not, in January, our lighting options are going to change. Don’t panic. No one is going to knock on the front door and confiscate your light bulb stockpile. But, manufacturers will no longer be allowed to produce the traditional incandescent bulbs we’ve all been accustomed to. Standard 100-watt bulbs have already been phased out in 2012, with 75-watt due to be phased out in 2013 and 60 – and 40-watt being phased out through 2014. Those incandescent bulbs will be replaced with bulbs that conserve energy and lower your electric bills. I understood that these new lighting options were better for the environment and for my utilities budget, but I still wasn’t sure I fully understood exactly what my options were going to be and how to make the best choices for our home. In a partnership with GE, I received coupons and a gift card to purchase and try out some of the new light bulb options, so my family and I could determine for ourselves, which bulbs we liked best. As with every Busy-at-Home review, the views and opinions expressed in this post are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the products.
Up until this past week, the light sockets throughout our multi-level home have been filled with incandescent bulbs in wattages ranging from 40 to 100, and in styles ranging from recessed can lighting, to vanity lights, ceiling fan lights, lamps, chandeliers and regular ceiling fixtures. There are literally dozens of bulbs. Some time ago, I actually tried to switch out a few of our standard bulbs with CFL bulbs and ended up returning all of them to the store. A constant flickering over the bar in my kitchen had me switched back to incandescent in that recessed lighting, within about 15 minutes. The CFL’s I installed in our ceiling fans, office and living room didn’t provide enough light and several burned out in a matter of seconds. I packed up any still working bulbs, returned them to the store and resigned myself to absorbing the higher energy cost of standard incandescent bulbs. I clearly had a lot more to learn about making the change from incandescent lighting.
Initially, I expected to make the switch from our incandescent bulbs, to the new GE Energy Efficient Soft White Bulbs. I learned that their halogen technology is the closest thing we will have to the incandescent light we are used to and they save about 28% on the cost of energy use. As I continued researching at the GE website, however, it became pretty clear that CFL’s would net us the biggest savings. I began my research in earnest, to learn how to know how bright the light given off by a CFL bulb would be and the types that would be best in each location in our home. If I made that leap, again, I wanted to be sure it was a successful transition.
Fortunately, in a relatively short span of time, the technology has continued to improve and through this partnership with GE, I was given an opportunity to learn about and test it, again, through a fun homeschool project with our kids. It’s extremely important to us, as a family, to find ways to build savings back into our budget, and involving our children in the process, helps us to be more successful, since they willingly participate when they understand the benefits. It’s also a skill that will serve them well, as they become adults and responsible for their own budgets. So, I agreed to create the project lessons and started researching what I wanted our kids (and me) to learn.
I wanted the kids to understand the new bulb options available to us, as well as their costs, not just in energy, but in their initial purchase price averaged over the life of the bulbs. Could we actually save money making the switch, and if so, how much? I sensed some great opportunities for graphing, charts and math calculations. This was going to be a good lesson for the students AND for the teacher! I created a household bulb inventory spreadsheet and then headed out to do my shopping, before working on my lesson plans. If you want to see my entire light bulb shopping experience, be sure to check out my Google+ album.
Once I had all the bulbs I wanted our family to try, for this project, I headed home and got to work on some worksheets I wanted my kids to use, that would help them understand the impact on our budget, just from changing out the light bulbs we use. In the meantime, I put my son to work, installing the new light bulbs, I had purchased.
I made worksheets for our kids to plot data collected on bar graphs and I produced an information sheet, with instructions on how to calculate energy cost of any light bulb. I’ve actually created quite a few activities. Some I will share with you, now, to get you started on your own home energy makeover and some I will share in January, when we have the final data on our project.
And just in case the man in your life, needs a little extra convincing, to get enthusiastic about the savings you can net by changing your bulbs, I find that a good visual aid involving cash, goes a long way. Check out this fun video from GE and Walmart.
To learn more about all three of GE’s light bulb technology types available at Walmart/Sams, find out about the new light bulb legislation, and scope out your own available alternatives and energy savings, try some of these online resources:
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and GE Lighting. A positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. The pdf worksheets were created by me and are free for you to use or distribute. #CBias #SocialFabric #GELighting
My kids have all seemed to enjoy art, in one form or another, and I love the creativity that is fostered when a child creates something totally their own. Learning various crafting techniques and art skills has always had great appeal for our family. You would be hard pressed not to find bits of fabric, [...]
My kids have all seemed to enjoy art, in one form or another, and I love the creativity that is fostered when a child creates something totally their own. Learning various crafting techniques and art skills has always had great appeal for our family. You would be hard pressed not to find bits of fabric, string, yarn, construction paper, drawing paper, watercolor paper, paper, pencils, markers, chalk, scissors, tape, felt, glue, buttons, pins, raffia, clay, paint, etc. in boxes and bins around my house. I love being able to just turn the kids loose to dream up something fantastic and then excitedly come to share it with me, when they’re done.
I’m a little picky about the products we use for these activities, though. I think it’s a good idea to start from scratch and create with the raw materials we have available. Some are purchased new, some are gifted, some are picked up for pennies at garage sales and thrift stores. I love transforming something old into something new and useful. It saves money and makes good use of our resources. I don’t purchase craft kits very often, but occasionally, I am pleasantly surprised to find pre-made craft kits that not only do a good job of teaching a skill, but make room for, and even encourage, the child’s creativity.
I was treated with just such a pleasant surprise, when I reviewed Artterro’s Paint with Wool: Needle Felting Kit. Unlike craft kits that have asked my kids to assemble a cookie-cutter, pre-defined project that will be exactly like every other created by someone using that kit, Artterro provided clear instructions for learning a skill and then provided materials to allow my student to design her own creations from what she learned. I will be spending the money, this fall, to add a few more of their kits to our homeschool art line-up, after enjoying the high-quality materials and latitude for personal creativity in the fun kit we were fortunate enough to review.
Needle felting is one craft I have been so curious about, in recent years, but just never had the time to research and figure out how to do it. So naturally, when I was given the opportunity to review the needle felting kit from Arrterro, I jumped at the chance. The instructions were simple, clear and easy to understand and our ten-year-old mastered the technique in only minutes. The kit comes with enough supplies to create at least four different projects: four natural 100% wool felt canvases, 13 colors of roving wool, felting needles, ideas and instructions. This was a project that both my daughter, and I, were able to learn and enjoy. That’s a hallmark of the Artterro line – that their projects are fun and simple for all ages, kids to adults. Our particular kit says that it is for ages 8 and up, and I think that’s a good call, as they will be working with a sharp needle to do the felting.
I hope you will check out all the different kits available for you and your kids at Artterro. They are fantastic for learning new skills, expanding creativity and imagination, fine tuning small motor skills and eye-hand coordination. The projects are items that you and your kids will be proud to display when they’re finished, instead of just ending up in the wastebasket. The kits and the projects you make from them would be excellent as gifts, too. Be sure to check out their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, too! With back-to-school just around the corner, you don’t want to miss any news or great deals on these fun and education-worthy art kits.
One lucky Busy-at-Home reader will be able to share the fun and creativity of Artterro with their own family. The mandatory entry is the comment on this post that is detailed in the first option in the Rafflecopter form, below. Click the DO IT button to read the instructions and then create your answer for a comment, below. Once you hit Enter, all the optional additional entries will be opened for you. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received the Artterro Paint with Wool Kit in order to test it in my own home and to collect information for this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. Busy-at-Home administers the giveaway, selecting the winner in a random drawing. The prize is provided and shipped by Artterro.
It’s very nearly that time of year, when many parents panic just a little bit, about what to do with their kids all summer. Yes, very soon, school will be out and providing activities that are fun AND worthwhile can be a challenge in our technology-soaked world. Engaging minds and keeping hands busy with productive [...]
It’s very nearly that time of year, when many parents panic just a little bit, about what to do with their kids all summer. Yes, very soon, school will be out and providing activities that are fun AND worthwhile can be a challenge in our technology-soaked world. Engaging minds and keeping hands busy with productive projects takes a lot of planning and preparation, so that the activity can be easily completed and so the supplies and materials are already on-hand when they’re needed. What a delight to discover Kiwi Crate, who not only understands the need, but solves it with a great deal of expertise.
When our bright green “crate” arrived at the front door, my 10-year-old was doing a little happy dance. Kiwi Crates are designed with kids aged 3-7 in mind, but if a project involves Science or Arts and Crafts, you can bet our 5th grader is going to be front and center, ready to tackle it. And when it involves both, don’t stand in her path! She was particularly excited because she knew we were receiving a Kiwi Garden Crate for this review. With all the excitement in our house surrounding gardening and growing our own healthy food, she was already enthusiastic about the possible projects. When we opened the sturdy box (crate) she nearly swooned. Combine three of her favorite things — presents, gardening and crafts and you will have landed on exactly what the Kiwi Garden Crate is all about.
My first thought, as we opened the box, was how well packaged the kit is. The green “crate” is a very sturdy cardboard constructed case that is re-closeable. It will be simple to store kits, this ones and future ones, stacked neatly in a small amount of space or to use their boxes to store other school and art supplies or puzzle pieces or to create art projects or…you get the drift. This isn’t your average waste of space, coming apart at the seams, box from a kid’s game or kit. Rather than spending big bucks on flashy commercial graphics for the outside, and the cheapest possible paper, Kiwi Crates focused on being sure it was durable, reusable and useful. I like that.
Lifting the lid revealed contents that were packaged more like a gift than an educational kit. It produced a squeal of delight from our youngest crafter to find everything neatly wrapped in lime green tissue paper, fastened with a cute kiwi sticker and a sweet gift card and a pair of scissors on top of it all. The stickers on the inside of the lid were enough of a “teaser” to let her know what the kit was all about and she couldn’t wait to dig in! Building enthusiasm and anticipation — hmmm…I like that.
Folding back the tissue paper, revealed the contents of our crate — two thick fiberboard flower pots, three packages of Crayola air-dry modeling clay, pipe cleaners, punch-out flowers and veggies, colored pencils, soil pellets, squash seeds, bean seeds, a window garden “pouch”, suction cup hooks, plant labels, label stickers, an eye dropper, an observation journal, the aforementioned scissors, detailed picture tutorial instructions for completing both the flower pots and the window garden project, and a pamphlet containing follow-up instructions for transplanting the seedlings to an outdoor garden, as well as recipes to prepare both the squash and the beans, at harvest time. Not one time, throughout the process of working on these projects, did I have to run to find something to help us finish. Every needed item was included in the kit with no guessing, substituting or tracking things down, left to Mom. When Kiwi Crates says, “Hands-on fun delivered right to your door….All materials and inspiration included.” they really mean it. I love that!
With your younger children, you will probably need to be a little more hands-on than was necessary with our 10-year-old, who could read through the instructions on her own. But even younger children will be able to handle these projects and put their own creative imaginations to work, once you set the process in motion. Our happy gardener plunged in and enthusiastically completed both projects. She continues to water and tend her window garden, anticipating the day she can move tiny seedlings to our vegetable garden, outside. In the meantime, she is recording the seeds’ progress in the observation journal and learning about seed germination, plant parts and more in the process. I love that his kit is so interactive, teaches AND incorporates fun into the educational process. Yes, yes I do. I really like that.
Kiwi Crates are available through their website subscription service. You can subscribe on a month-to-month basis or for an entire year. A one-month subscription is $19.95 and you can have supplies for a second child added to the kit for only $7.95. (Our kit had a nice supply of “leftover ingredients” that will be used on other projects, too.) I know that you’re all budget-conscious, like me, and you need to be sure you get the best value for every dollar you spend. With that in mind, I did a little experiment of my own. I shopped our local Walmart for some of the “ingredients” included in the kit.
- seed starter pellets…………………………..$4.99 (the smallest package of them I could purchase)
- bean seeds………………………………………$0.99
- squash seeds……………………………………$0.99
- Crayola modeling clay………………………$7.99 (not available at our Walmart – smallest pack I found online with all 3 colors)
- pipe cleaners……………………………………$2.19
- suction cup hooks…………………………….$3.89
- fiberboard flower pots……………………..$3.00 (I found nothing in-store or online that resembled these heavy-duty pressed-board type pots. So, I’m guessing.)
- plant T-labels…………………………………..$4.19
I’m already at OVER $30 and haven’t priced everything included in this kit. Plus, I would have had to track down each item on my own, some of which I was unable to find anywhere, others that were not available locally, but could be found online. If you’re like me, you don’t have that kind of time to invest in tracking down everything for a fun project like this. And for me to assemble the same materials would cost much more than the subscription price Kiwi Crates is asking. Do I think these high-quality educational kits are a good value? Without a doubt! Not only do they go to the trouble of collecting EVERYTHING I need and provide it more affordably than I can get it myself, they also deliver it right to my front door! How can I beat that? I hope you’ll visit the Kiwi Crate website to start a subscription for your own kids’ summer fun learning!
Kiwi Crate has generously consented to host a giveaway for a Kiwi Crate Space Crate. One lucky Busy-at-Home reader will be able to have it delivered right to their door! Use the Rafflecopter form, below, to enter the drawing before midnight on May 20, 2012. Be sure to read the instructions in the first entry. Commenting on this post with which kit, from Kiwi Crates, you think looks fun and who would use it at your house, is the only mandatory entry.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a Kiwi Crate Garden Crate in order to test the products and write this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. While Busy-at-Home administers the giveaway and randomly selects the winner, the prize is provided by Kiwi Crate.
One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read [...]
One of the challenges, with teaching children, is to find a way to help them digest, organize and retain information. Over our two decades of homeschooling, I’ve learned that one way to be successful at that is to be sure your students experience the information in several different ways. Allow them not just to read it, but provide opportunities to also hear it and to “put their hands in it”, too. History, in particular, lends itself well to these methods of learning. Besides reading the textbook, be sure your students have a chance to meet great men and women of history and to be introduced to pivotal events in biographies, autobiographies and historical fiction. There are fabulous audio recordings that narrate archeological digs, bring historical stories to life or present music from a particular culture, era or genre. Children can recite poetry and famous speeches or addresses. “Putting their hands in it” relates more to hands-on projects that help to solidify a student’s understanding of the material. It can be anything from preparing a recipe, writing a report, drawing an illustration, sculpting a replica of a famous statue, acting out a historical event or building a model of an important piece of architecture. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. And their is scientific evidence to show that when a student kinesthetically (touches, feels, put’s their hands in it) experiences information at the same time that they are hearing or seeing it, new synapses (connectors) are formed in the brain, expanding thinking and retention power, as information can move even more quickly from one neuron to the next, with the new connections that are made. One of the most common examples I can think of is teaching a child to write letters by speaking the letter names out loud, while tracing them in sand. They experience the letter by seeing it’s form being shaped, hearing it’s name pronounced and feeling it drawn in the sand. This multi-sensory approach is a great brain-builder. It also makes learning, so much more fun!
I have always enjoyed helping our kids create history timelines for this same reason. They remember the important people and dates so much easier when they experience them in so many different ways. When our older girls were young, our history timelines were art masterpieces that ended up circling the entire perimeter of our dining room. Each new picture moved forward in history, highlighting a significant event or person and allowing them to engage their creative, artistic sides. I wanted to give our youngest a similar experience, but have the timeline confined to a space smaller than an entire dining room. I decided to help her create a Timeline Notebook and I’m excited about the potential. She will literally be able to continue adding pages, all the way through high school, as her studies expand and go more indepth.
Of course the most exciting thing, for her, is the artistic and creative aspect of it. I’m excited because she can’t help but learn, as she enjoys the projects that she will work on. As she gets older, she will appreciate history, its significance and her place in it, a little more than she does now, at age 10. Then this book will be a treasure of memories and information.
To create your own History Timeline Notebook, you’ll only need a few simple supplies and you’ll probably have most of them on hand, at home.
- a three ring binder (I would recommend a 1 ½” or 2″, if you plan to continue adding pages over several years. If you grab one that has the plastic sleeve on the front, it’s so much easier to add a nice cover.)
- 8½ x 11 cardstock (something you can run through your printer. I prefer the heavier weight, so we can cover both sides without any bleed-through.)
- markers (I like Elmer’s Painters Markersfor this kind of project. They are so much easier to control than paint and a brush; and the vibrant colors are fade resistant and permanent.)
- a ruler
- pencils, pens and colored pencils
- glue and/or tape or even some Elmer’s Glue Spots
- a three-hole punch
- your computer printer
To really boost enthusiasm, it’s always fun to allow students to begin by creating a cover for their notebook. Our first notebook will be for United States History, so we thought an American flag would be a colorful and symbolic cover.
Sketch out your design, lightly on a piece of cardstock, making sure you have all your outlines where you want them. We made the 13 stripes of our American flag 1/2″ thick, so we carefully plotted marks to create those lines, first.
Knowing that the field of blue was the height of the first seven stripes, we drew the six bottom stripes across the entire sheet.
Then we drew a vertical line from the top of the page to the top of that sixth stripe from the bottom, which created the border for the field of blue.
After that we could sketch in the remaining seven stripes and are ready to add some color.
Outlining the individual color shapes before filling them in with Elmer’s Painters Markers, made it easier to keep the color where we wanted it. (Elmer’s Paint Markersare acrylic paint. They can also be used on wood, plastic, clay, glass, metal, foam board, fabric, and terra cotta. They are permanent, streak free, non-toxic and acid free, plus they’re available in fine and medium point, as well as with a calligraphy tip.)
We filled in the field of blue and left it to dry while we moved to another area of the flag. Another reason I love Elmer’s Painters Markers is that once the paint is dry, another color can be laid in over the top of the last, without the colors mixing or bleeding into one another. That will make adding stars over the blue, super simple, later.
Next, we outlined and filled in the seven red stripes, starting with the top stripe and ending with the very bottom.
After the stripes were filled, we were ready to add stars over our field of blue. It wasn’t easy drawing tiny white stars with a medium point marker, but we managed by making small dots and then dragging tiny bits of paint from the center of the dot out in five different directions. Though we didn’t space them very well (Epic mom fail!) and weren’t able to get all 50 stars on our flag, she’ll never forget that there are 50 or why, since that was a prominent point of our discussion as we created them. We left our white stars to dry and started on the first page of our timeline.
I created a timeline page template to use and converted it to a pdf file for you, so you can download it and print your own, if you like. I like that we will be able to print additional pages, as we go, and add new ones each year.
While we waited for the stars to dry, we got started on some timeline pages. First, I three-hole punched all the template pages we printed. Then I used the Elmer’s Calligraphy Painters Markers to start adding dates to the hash lines.
We added some illustrations to the timeline, using the Elmer’s Painters markers. The first illustration was of Columbus’ sea voyage. While we waited for his sails to dry, we had the bright idea to make a sphere of green and blue dots, swirl them and create an “Earth”. We would use that to depict Magellan’s trip around the world.
With the addition of a couple of mini-reports we typed up from information in our textbook, we completed the first page of our timeline. We know two important dates and several things about two important men in history, as well as their sea voyages.
The cover is completely dry now and ready to be slipped into the plastic sleeve on the front of the notebook.
I want to give you one more idea for a timeline page, so you don’t think there’s only one way to make them. I hope you will get creative and add all kinds of interesting things to your timeline. I know we will add report pages and recipes with pictures of our student baking them. We’ll also include pictures of any other projects she does and slip them in next to the appropriate dates. In the meantime, here’s what we did with the second page.
This is going to be a fun, ongoing project that I can work on with our daughter. It’s a great way to compile a lot of information in a compact amount of space. Years from now, I think she’ll enjoy looking back through it and remembering the times we worked on it together; and I know it will help her to retain the important facts from history that we are teaching her.
What creative ideas do you use to encourage your students to learn and remember what they’ve been taught? Do they like hands-on projects to solidify the concepts and information in their mind? Leave a comment and share your ideas, so we can all benefit from your thoughts.
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric” @GlueNGlitter I purchased Elmer’s Painters Markers in order to test them on this project. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.
Would I like to participate in a book tour for the new Imagination Station Book Series from Focus on the Family? Ummm…YES! Since my oldest girls, now 27 and 25, were young, Mr. Whitaker, Imagination Station and the Adventures in Odyssey series have been a family favorite pasttime. I remember the days when our radio [...]
Would I like to participate in a book tour for the new Imagination Station Book Series from Focus on the Family? Ummm…YES! Since my oldest girls, now 27 and 25, were young, Mr. Whitaker, Imagination Station and the Adventures in Odyssey series have been a family favorite pasttime. I remember the days when our radio had to be tuned in at exactly 6 pm to catch the exciting stories. As a parent, of course I loved anything that encouraged our children to think and understand more about being a Christian and what that looks like in every day life, but the kids loved the adventure and “the good guy wins” endings and the ongoing drama of the characters’ lives, too. They “got to know” the characters, understood and recognized different character traits in each and were excited to follow “their stories”. This radio drama tradition didn’t stop with our older kids. It has carried on through all five of our children. Our nine-year-old (soon to be 10 on Thanksgiving day) adores Adventures in Odyssey and I suspect our grandkids will be enjoying them soon, too. Whether you know about Adventures in Odyssey, or not, you’re going to love this series and thanks to Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishing, you’ll have a chance to win the whole set in the giveaway they’re sponsoring here!
Focus on the Family has recently added to the Adventures in Odyssey fun, with the Imagination Station book series. Currently, there are six completed books in the set, but seven and eight are just around the corner! If you’re not familiar with Adventures in Odyssey, my first recommendation is that you head over to the website and listen, but I also want to share what Imagination Station is, to give you a little background for this fantastic historical fiction series.
Mr. Whitaker is the owner of Whit’s End, a fun soda shop where kids can hangout. Mr. Whitaker is also an inventor and a Christian. Whit’s End is full of interesting contraptions and inventions, but the most amazing is the Imagination Station, a time machine that sends the users back through time to visit different times throughout history and always landing them smack dab in the middle of a fantastic adventure, that ends up teaching Biblical lessons. The Imagination Station book series has taken those fun-tastic adventures into print, and even better for a homeschooling mom, written them into the historical fiction genre. Historical fiction is a fabulous way to draw students into history. While the actual characters and their stories are fiction, they are woven into the true culture, traditions and events of history, so students are learning as they enjoy the drama. For a teacher, this is a win-win-win — educational, interesting and fun, plus students are reading because they like it!
The Imagination Station book series begins with Voyage with the Vikings, where the main characters are on a quest to find an ancient relic, a mariners sun stone, in order to save a young boy. The adventure lands them smack in the middle of a Viking village, where they meet Eric the Red, and his son, Leif Erickson, who much to his father’s dismay, has recently become a Christian. The two kids learn courage, friendship and experience firsthand, the power of “loving your enemies” in the midst of this exciting adventure. Students will learn about the Viking culture, where they lived, what they believed and how they traveled. The book would be an awesome kick-off for a unit study about the Vikings.
The series continues with 5 more books:
- Book 2 – Attack at the Arena – The main characters (and your students) will meet a Roman emperor, a true historical figure, Telemachus, and visit the Coliseum as the quest for a silver goblet is carried out.
- Book 3 – Peril in the Palace – Beth & Patrick search China in 1271 to find the golden tablet of Kublai Khan and are captured by the Mongols.
- Book 4 – Revenge of the Red Knight - 15th century England is the setting for this adventure. Wrongful imprisonment, jousting matches and England’s War of Roses are the backdrops for the moral lessons in this adventure.
- Book 5 – Showdown with the Shepherd – Patrick and Beth have to retrieve a stolen ring in the Holy Lands in the 10th century BC and return a stowaway back to 1450′s England. Bears and giants and intrigue! Oh my! A great lesson in faith.
- Book 6 – Problems in Plymouth – Marching forward, through history, Book 6 lands readers in Plymouth Plantation in 1621. Beth and Patrick must set things right between the Pilgrim settlers and the Indians to keep the course of history from being permanently altered.
These books are fantastic! My daughter has pored over each exciting page and I have enjoyed reading along with her and discussing the Biblical lessons and historical significance of each one. They are written to be enjoyed by those as young as seven. I think for the average seven-year-old, some of the vocabulary could be challenging if they are left to read on their own, but these would be fun and exciting read-alouds with an older reader. At least six more titles are planned for the series, with Book 7 due to be released in January 2012 and Book 8 in May.
We were absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this delightful six-book set and excited to add them to our family library! Our kids and grandkids will enjoy them long into the future. I encourage you to use the links above to get these bargain-priced books for your own book- and history-buffs. Amazon offers them at only $4.99 each, and they are currently part of Amazon’s “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” special, meaning they will be easy on the Christmas budget and the enjoyment will last well beyond the holidays. Plus, one lucky Busy-at-Home reader will win the six-book set for their own family! Enter the giveaway, below.
I received the six-book Imagination Station series, from Tyndale House, in order to evaluate them and write this review. Mo monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
Do you know the way your child learns best? With five of our own, ours run the full spectrum of possibilities from the “I need to put my hands in it before I really GET it” learner, to our creative, artsy learners who write novels and create cartoon characters in the margins of their Math [...]
Do you know the way your child learns best? With five of our own, ours run the full spectrum of possibilities from the “I need to put my hands in it before I really GET it” learner, to our creative, artsy learners who write novels and create cartoon characters in the margins of their Math papers, to our “Please, Mom, just give me the textbook and my assignments” learners who need to do the job and check it off their list. This is the area where I feel that as homeschoolers we are truly blessed. Knowing those learning styles really helps tailor educational experiences to the best way our kids will absorb them. The problem is that there aren’t many curricula options that can accommodate them all and even fewer that celebrate them. The history unit studies from Diana Waring Presents can and do; and they’ve been a long-time favorite of mine.
I ♥ History. My kids don’t always share my passion, so being able to present information in a way that interests and sticks with them can sometimes be a challenge. That’s why Diana Waring Presents history unit studies are perfect for our family. I love that Diana understands that:
- We will never be able to spoonfeed our children everything they need to know in just 13 years of schooling.
- We MUST teach them how to learn and where to go for reliable information, so they will always be able to learn what they do need.
- We don’t have to apologize for Biblical history. Modern science and archaeology continue to show that what has long been accepted on faith is absolute truth.
- Teaching, using our childrens’ strengths and interests to instill knowledge, will help them to love learning and retain more knowledge.
It isn’t “learning”, ONLY if it comes from between the covers of a textbook. As a matter of fact, some of the best learning often doesn’t. I want my kids to love books, all books, not just textbooks, as much as I do. But, my reality is that some of them simply will not. So my goal is for all of them to recognize excellent and reliable ones and to be able to utilize what they find in them. I also want them to be able to discern the reliability of the information presented from any source, even a textbook, based on what they already know to be true, the original sources for the information presented and the worldview bias of the author. I want them to be able to form opinions, understand truth and present reasoned arguments for what they know from testing the information themselves. History is more than memorizing names, dates and places and regurgitating the data onto a test page. It’s filled with interesting people, drama, intrigue and passion — rising and falling empires, reasons for the way we do things today, and so much more. It’s loaded with lessons and knowledge we can use to avoid past errors and it begins to lay out our personal place in history, our purpose, and the part we will play in the ongoing story. Making that information come alive and be exciting for kids should be one of the primary goals of all good history curriculum. Diana Waring Presents is exactly that.
This will be the first in a several-post series that introduces you to Diana and her three sets of history curriculum that can take your elementary through high school students from the beginning of time through the Korean War in a way that they, and probably you, have never experienced, before. She has divided the history of the world into three titles: “Ancient Civilizations and the Bible“, “Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries“, and “World Empires, World Missions, & World Wars“. To complete all three titles, will take at least three years and you may want to stretch your schedule out over even more time, depending on how involved and interested your students get in each phase. The beauty of this unit study method is that once you have completed all three sets, you can begin again, studying through each period in history, utilizing different books and activities, going even more in-depth with your, now, older students, who will build on the foundation of what they already know. History will become “real” to your students (and to you) and you and they will become excited and care more deeply about your places in it.
Recognizing that students have different strengths and learning styles, each unit of a Diana Waring Presents history curricula is divided into four phases. Phase One introduces students to the subject-matter and will really appeal to your “people person” learners or as Diana calls them, the “Feelers”. They’ll be drawn into the dramatic and intriguing lives and events of history through reading, audio recordings and other resources. Open-ended questions will pepper the discussions during this phase, causing students to think, form ideas and opinions and making them anxious to investigate and research to find more information, so they will discover what THEY believe, not just parrot back what they’ve been told is true.
Your “Thinkers” or as I often call mine, your “Ducks in a Row” students, will be drawn in by Phase Two of each unit. This phase is designed for the child who “just wants the facts” and to be able to commit them to memory. This is achieved through working through a historical chronology — creating their own timelines, spending time with vocabulary drill, as well as research and report writing.
Hands-on learners (Sensors) will be enthusiastic about Phase Three of their history units. This phase focuses on projects a student can put his hands in – things she can physically DO, that reinforce the subject matter. Becoming mapmakers, your kids will explore the geography of a given time in history. They will study the architecture, art and music of the periods, make their own artistic creations and even cook! They’ll participate in Science experiments and connect periods in history with the inventions and discoveries common to them.
Creative expression will overflow your classroom and your “Intuitor” students will love Phase Four. Skits, puppetry, journalism and poetry, sculpting, drawing or painting, cartooning and illustrating, creative writing and more are all possible avenues of learning about the subject at hand in this final phase of each unit. Maybe you have a student who loves performing, listening to and composing music. This is the time when they will discover their passions in the pages of history and see a value to the subject, that they never understood before.
I love that by the end of every single unit, the concepts and material will have been presented in ways that will appeal to each learning style and insure that each of your students absorbs important historical truths in a way that helps them remember and makes it important to them. I also love that in studying history, we will also be doing Language Arts, Science, Art and more. That’s the beauty of unit studies — one theme encompassing multiple subjects. And lest you think that is the limit of the unique and valuable qualities of the unit study method, consider that you will be able to teach every grade-level in your homeschool using the same non-consumable texts and resources, adapting and choosing lessons and activities appropriate to the student’s age. Not only is it fabulous, it’s long-term frugal — another of my favorite things!
At the beginning of each unit, in the hardcover Teacher Guides, daily lesson plans for each of the four weeks (phases) of a unit are outlined. Each page from the student book is reproduced in the teacher guides and enhanced with background information, prayer, teaching and discussion suggestions. Key Concepts are listed and discussed, so the teacher has a well-rounded background in the material. Teacher’s Guides also include information on evaluating a student’s understanding of the subject matter and how to assess their involvement in the discussions and activities, as well. Each project idea and suggestion is defined and presented in a way that will be simple for you and your students to understand and implement. The Appendix at the back of the Teacher Guide also includes reproducible maps to use for each unit, as well. PLEASE NOTE: There are many suggestions and ideas included in each phase of a unit. This is not a textbook. You are not required to finish every project on every page. It was never intended that you would. Choose the one(s) that fit your students’ current needs and interests. One project completed with thought, skill and enthusiasm will do more for your child’s education, understanding of the topic and study skills than finishing an entire unit of workbook pages could ever do. Don’t fall into the quantity over quality trap.
Because this is not traditional textbook curriculum and it is important to Diana for you to understand exactly what the curriculum is, how it works and how you would use it, she has generously offered the complete Unit 3 from Ancient Civilizations and the Bible as a FREE sample for you. Just click the link to open the pdf file and save it to your computer. Look it over and see why I am so excited.
Ancient Civilizations and the Bible covers the time from Creation through the life of Christ. It contains nine units:
- Creation and the Flood
- The Rise of Civilizations
- Egypt and the Exodus
- The Children of Israel
- Assyria and Babylon
- The Persians and Medes
- Greece and the Hellenists
- The Rise of Rome
- Jesus Christ, Immanuael
Each set also includes an Activity Book for Elementary Students. While they will be able to learn the same information, very young students may not be able to handle all the projects and activities included in the main Student Book. Diana has carefully designed a supplement that includes mazes, word searches, map, craft and art activities that may be more age-appropriate for younger students. It is designed for K-4th grade. In my opinion, the average third or fourth grader would definitely be able to use most of the activities in the main student book, though they may enjoy several of the activities in the Elementary manual. Plus, after completing all three sets of Diana Waring Presents history curriculum (“Ancient Civilizations and the Bible“, “Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries“, and “World Empires, World Missions, & World Wars“), they will be ready to begin again and go more in depth with more challenging activities and projects in each set. You can download a FREE sample from the Ancient Civilizations and the Bible Elementary Activity Book, by clicking this link.
The courses also include a Test Kit that contains a final test over each unit in Ancient Civilizations and the Bible. Tests are a mix of essay, multiple choice, true false, matching and short answer questions and are reproducible, so you need only purchase one for your homeschool. As homeschooling parents, themselves, Bill and Diana Waring understand the importance of high-quality, non-consumable curricula products that can be used for all your students, over the years. I love that about them.
Each of the three course’s complete sets, also include 3 sets of CD’s: What in the World?, Digging Deeper and True Tales. For Ancient Civilizations that is 10 CD’s of AMAZING historical and archaeological information and yet another factor that further sets this amazing curriculum apart from any mainstream curriculum, secular or Christian. Having been able to hear Diana speak in person and even having had the opportunity to sit and visit with her, in the past, I can confirm from first hand knowledge that she is an amazing storyteller. Her enthusiasm and passion for history and discovery are incredibly infectious and students will be enveloped in her excitement as evidences and proofs, drama and intrigue are unfolded in the historical information she presents. History will literally “come alive” for you and your students, as you listen to this excellent audio collection.
Finally, none of the information presented is given in the, “This is history because I say it is”-fashion of most modern textbooks. There are lists and lists of resources and source documents given, that let you know where the information was derived from and your student will be expected to delve into that list to acquire their own information, think it through and form their own ideas and conclusions. This isn’t a “spoonfeed me, let me regurgitate quickly memorized information on a test and then move on” kind of curriculum. It creates thinkers, analyzers, puzzle solvers — students who will learn to research and write, to evaluate good solid source information and draw their conclusions with common sense and logic. Students are truly educated, not indoctrinated and the lessons learned will serve them throughout their lifetime.
Busy-at-Home readers have a tremendous opportunity to get the Ancient Civilizations and the Bible complete set at an amazing price using the coupon code “relational”. This code will allow you to purchase the entire set: Ancient Civilizations & the Bible Student Manual, Ancient Civilizations & the Bible hardcover Teacher’s Guide, What in the World—Volume 1 CDs, True Tales—Volume 1 CD and Digging Deeper—Volume 1 CDs. The special price for Busy-at-Home readers is valid through October 29 and also includes FREE shipping and Diana’s new DVD, as a bonus. For all of that your cost will be only $86! It’s a huge savings and the best part is, it’s a one-time purchase, for non-consumable material that can be used for all of your students.
I’m excited for you to have this opportunity and I will be sharing some of our personal experiences and pictures of projects as time goes on. I will also be posting reviews of the other two sets in the series. Stay tuned. More exceptional offerings from Diana Waring Presents are on the way! You can also like Diana Waring Presents on Facebook to stay updated on what’s new.
I received the set “Ancient Civilizations and the Bible” in order to test it and conduct this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As always at Busy-at-Home, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
This is not your grandma’s Scrabble. It’s fast-paced fun and an excellent tool for helping kids to understand phonics and spelling. Whether we are using it as a board game, just for fun, or as a tool during a homeschool Language Arts lesson, this excellent game from Hasbro is a Top Ten pick for this [...]
This is not your grandma’s Scrabble. It’s fast-paced fun and an excellent tool for helping kids to understand phonics and spelling. Whether we are using it as a board game, just for fun, or as a tool during a homeschool Language Arts lesson, this excellent game from Hasbro is a Top Ten pick for this mama! I love, love, love everything about it. How do I love it? Let me count the ways :
- It is compact and self-contained. This little powerhouse of learning fun is only 7 ½” x 3 ¼” and it’s less than 2″ high. It will fit in the glove compartment, your purse, the drawer of your side table or any other small out of the way space you can imagine. It has a built-in drawer that holds everything you need to play the game — the cards. No big, awkward cardboard boxes to fall apart–no ten thousand tiny pieces to keep track of and suck up in the vacuum after the box has fallen apart. Scrabble Turbo Slam has a durable, hard plastic case that IS the game and CONTAINS the game. Perfection!
- The game is simple to play and involves just enough “technology” and action to keep students interested. Plus, games don’t last longer than the attention-span of the players. You can start and finish a game in one sitting and do it comfortably.
- I can use it as a teaching tool in our school lessons, following the game rules, or just using the cards to reinforce reading, phonics and spelling concepts.
- The game is inexpensive. It comes in at only $14.95 on Amazon and my guess is you will see great bargains on it, as the holidays approach.
- Visit the Family Game Night page to print coupons worth $80 off various Hasbro games. You can save $5 off Scrabble Turbo Slam. That’s a fabulous, frugal deal for hours of family fun and learning!
- Family members of all ages can play together.
- It is totally portable. This will be a great way to pass the time and keep up on a little schoolwork as we make a long roadtrip in October.
To play the game, four cards are laid on the table, spelling out any random word desired. The rest of the cards are dealt out evenly amongst the players. Press the button on the game console and raucous game play begins! Playing only one card at a time, each player changes a letter to make a new word, calling out the word as they do. There is no waiting for turns. Players play their cards as quickly as possible, making new words and emptying their hands. The player to use all their cards, first, is the winner.
The electronic console allows for a few game twists along the way. A loud signal buzzes at random intervals and the first player to hit the Turbo Slam button, draws an action card that can have them getting rid of cards or gaining cards. There is background music available, as well, which can be completely shut off. Players can challenge a word, just like in regular Scrabble and even consult a dictionary if they aren’t sure.
With or without the console, these double-sided playing cards (They have a different letter on each side.) are a phenomenal tool for teaching! They can be used to teach phonics blends and short words to beginning readers, even in short three-letter words.
We easily use the game cards for spelling and vocabulary practice with five or more cards. Watch how easily changing one letter makes a new word. Suddenly, spelling doesn’t seem as complicated and new vocabulary will be more readily recognized in reading, when students have spelled it out and manipulated it in this game. They see the cards (visual learning), they hear the word spoken (auditory learning), they change the cards (kinesthetic learning). Each of these actions helps to “cement” what is being learned into memory. Perfect!
One of you awesome readers is going to win a Scrabble Turbo Slam for your own family. Just enter the giveaway, below, for your chance to win.
You must be 18 or older and a resident of the U.S. to enter. Mandatory Entry must be completed before any optional entries will count. Winner will be selected in a random drawing using random.org. Deadline to enter is midnight, (CST), Sunday, October 9, 2011.
Optional Additional Entries:
- Like Hasbro Games (Family Game Night) on Facebook. Leave a comment below with your Facebook name to let me know you’ve done it.
- Follow Hasbro Games (Family Game Night) on Twitter. Leave a comment below with your Twitter handle to let me know you’ve done it.
- Follow Busy-at-Home on Twitter. Leave a comment letting me know you’ve done it.
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- Tweet this giveaway (maximum of 1x per day, please). Win Scrabble Turbo Slam! Technology meets board game = family fun & education with a twist! @busyathome @familygamenight http://ow.ly/6z6fL Leave a comment below with a link to your tweet.
- Post this giveaway on your Facebook page. Win Scrabble Turbo Slam! Technology meets board game = family fun & education with a twist! @busyathome @familygamenight http://ow.ly/6z6fL Leave a comment below with a link to your post.
I received Scrabble Turbo Slam, in order to test it and complete this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.
As a history buff and homeschool mom, this challenge was definitely perfect for me! I got to review two different U.S. History resources, compare and contrast them and decide which one I liked best. Interestingly enough, I had never used either the Dummies Guides or the Complete Idiot’s Guides for any topic, prior to this [...]
As a history buff and homeschool mom, this challenge was definitely perfect for me! I got to review two different U.S. History resources, compare and contrast them and decide which one I liked best. Interestingly enough, I had never used either the Dummies Guides or the Complete Idiot’s Guides for any topic, prior to this comparison, so it truly was a “blind” test.
I have taught my kids to be “aware” when they read or research any subject, but especially history, of the author’s worldview and the source documents from which they obtained the information they are writing about. The further an author gets from the original source documents, the greater the chance for error; and even if the author has all the correct information, their personal worldview can have an impact on the way they interpret it. It will come as no surprise, then, that the first thing I looked for in each book was a bibliography. I was curious to know from where each of the authors had sourced their information. I was more than just a little surprised that neither book contained one and so my expectation was that sources would be footnoted throughout the texts. Again, I was disappointed by both books. Further investigation provided “disclaimers”, at the front of both titles, declaring that the books were the opinions and ideas of the author and that no liability could be assumed for the accuracy or use of the information they contained. To say that understanding this disturbing information, set the tone for my review, would be a wholly accurate statement.
Since I was no longer evaluating the books from the perspective of documented, verifiable faithfulness to historical accuracy, I compared them on these basic criteria:
- Commonly accepted historical fact
- Organizational style/ layout of text
- Ease of finding desired information
- Quantity of details and information included
U.S. History for Dummies is written chronologically and divided into time period sections, as you would expect. However, the writing style and details draw the reader in, much like a novel. It lays out many more descriptive details and, in modern parlance, engages the reader in a “story”. This text also includes many vignettes, in gray boxes scattered across pages, introducing characters, quotes and little known facts or events that are often overlooked in other studies of history. With the understanding mentioned previously about lack of documentation, U.S. History for Dummies, trends along the commonly accepted views on American history. It has both a detailed Table of Contents and Index, making it easy to quickly find specific topics of interest, and though it has done a good job of weaving events into a readable “story”, each independent section easily stands on its own when you want to focus on an individual subject. An average middle-school student should have no difficulty with the reading level.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History is more reminiscent of a History textbook in it’s layout, and again, I found that the reading level should pose no problems for the average middle school student. Like U.S. History for Dummies, the author is descriptive in his details, hinting at his own personal opinions and worldview in the light in which he presents the facts. Given the disclaimers at the beginning of each book, this came as no surprise. The content is comparable to the Dummie’s Guide, highlighting commonly accepted historical data in chronological fashion. The Complete Idiots’s Guide to American History also contains boxed vignettes, sprinkled throughout the text, highlighting lesser known figures and events and lending interest to the story. There were two features distinctive only to the Idiot’s Guide, however, that I liked.
- Vocabulary – Throughout the book, small boxes titled, “What’s the Word”, pop up with definitions and explanations of terms that are used in the text and may otherwise be unfamiliar to younger readers.
- Each chapter concludes with a section called, “The Least You Should Know”, highlighting the main points, events, people and dates from that chapter. This brief summary is a good refresher for what came before and solidifies the highlights in a reader’s mind.
Given that the two books were, for the most part, equal in content and easy to navigate, those two extra points would probably cause me to select The Complete Idiot’s Guide to American History, were I to make a purchase.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to compare these two books and the best part is I get to pass along some savings if you would like to do the same. You will be able to save 50% off one order of regularly priced books by using Coupon Code CIGBlog11, at Idiot’s Guides.com. The discount code is good through October 31, so pull out that Christmas list and order all the titles you will need at one time, to maximize your savings. They have a selection that covers a myriad of different interests and learning needs. That’s a fantastic savings and perfect timing if there are titles that would fit someone on your Christmas list. Enjoy!
I received copies of both books, named above, in order to compare them and write this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.