50 States and Where to Find Them~ Review

new hampshire

This last week was so crazy house hunting and everything that I’m still reviewing some of the products from the different Build Your Bundle Sale bundles. 50 States and Where to Find Them is one of them. Remember that the sale ends Monday at 11:59 pm. If you haven’t gotten your bundle yet it will disappear after that.

Kathy Jo DeVore at Barefoot Meandering has developed some great curriculum. This is what she has to say about the 50 States and Where to Find Them. “My primary intention behind writing 50 States and Where to Find Them was to teach my children all the states and capitals. This is accomplished by tackling the United States region by region. Children fill out a map of the region as they learn about each state. State lessons include historical information about the state and coloring pages of the state flower, state bird, and state flag. Each region wraps up with a crossword puzzle, a word search, and a bonus lesson pertaining to the region. Bonus lessons include topics such as heraldry, the Erie Canal, and the Underground Railroad.”

This last April our family took a vacation to Arizona. It was a lot of fun and I had some cute little road games for the girls to learn about places we stopped but it would have been so much better if I’d had a copy of 50 States. I love the idea of studying the states by regions. The workbook is a lot of fun also. The pictures are simple but very effective for the students to make the connections that need to be made.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get one to upload but I seem to be technologically challenged tonight! Each state section is filled with fun facts. I even learned something about Utah. The middle of the state is Levan or Navel spelled backwards. I also learned that my home state of California grows 300,000 tons of grapes a year. It’s one of the things I miss about living there, all the fresh fruits and vegetables.

None of the chapters go to much into depth and if you’ve used an intensive US geography curriculum before then this is not the one for you. It is a great way to introduce younger students to the states and is a good springboard for older students to begin a more in depth study of the states. You can buy a hardcopy of 50 States and Where to Find Them on Amazon for $35 that doesn’t include the workbook, or you can buy them on the Barefoot Meanderings site for $15 each so $30 total for the book and the workbook or you can purchase the Charlotte Mason Bundle at the Build Your Bundle sale  for $49 and you will get both the ebook and the workbook version of this book, the Write from History book I reviewed yesterday and bunch of other products including $90 worth of Jim Hodges audio books. The sale ends in 24 hours and 15 minutes as of this posting. When it’s over all the savings will be gone.

Write from Early Modern History Level 1 ~ Review


Write from HistoryWrite from Early Modern History Level 1 is a writing program based on the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. It covers early modern history from 1600 AD – 1850 AD or if you don’t think in terms of dates than it is from Pocahontas to Kit Carson.

There are historical narratives, some Brothers Grimm tales, poetry and over 55 different reading options. This curriculum is used to get students ready for middle school writing by incorporating grammar, spelling, penmanship and history all together.

Here are a few of the individual students learn about in this volume:

  • Pocahontas
  • Women in the Indian Wars
  • George Washington
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • The Boston Tea Party
  • Daniel Boone

Those are some of the technical details in the program. I opened up the file I received and was a bit overwhelmed to find that it was over 350 pages long! I took a quick scroll through the pages and realized I had no idea what Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching was really about. Thankfully Kimberly Garcia has included a very thorough explanation in the introduction. I appreciated the examples of how Charlotte Mason taught her students and what it would look like in a home setting. I have not done dictation work with Jahnna but I know that Riley was getting some at the school she attended last year. I was able to see how much Riley benefitted from it and will be using this to help Jahnna out this year.

The suggested schedule that is included seems to very doable, at least for my girls it is. Each reading selection should be covered over 5 days time with each day focusing on a different aspect of the lesson. Reading, Oral Narration and Summation on day 1 and copy work and grammar on day 5. It was very helpful to see that Kimberly included a summary of Ms. Mason’s teaching theory.

Quality over quantity.
Accuracy over speed.
Ideas over drill.
Perfection over mediocrity.

I loved this reminder so much! We’ve really been working with our daughters on the concept of doing things right the first time. “It’s better to work than to rework” is what John tells them when they are doing their chores. I might need to point out the accuracy over speed concept to him as he also tells them to move with purpose all the time. What else would a retired soldier tell his daughters who are dragging their feet?

I started working with Riley and Jahnna on The Boys and the Wharf selection. They both attended Patriot Camp this summer and had a lot of fun learning about the founding fathers and how the constitution was formed. I thought they might like to learn a little bit about Benjamin Franklin as a boy. They both enjoyed the story and did well when I asked them to tell me what the selection was about. When it came down to the grammar and writing portion things got a little dicey! Neither one of them felt the need to do writing during the summer. I can’t say that I blame them. I told them it was for a review and they grumbled for a minute until Riley said it was just like “playing” school and it would be fun. I’m not sure why that made a difference but it did. Jahnna does not like to be corrected sometimes so I was a little worried about how she would take my advice on doing it right the first time but she did fairly good at listening when I explained why it was important.

I love curriculums that make it easy to cover multiple subjects at once. Both of our girls have a love of history from their dad and while this method might be labor intensive at first I think the end results are worth it. Jahnna isn’t sure she wants to continue with this method but she will be in sixth grade next year so this technically isn’t for her grade level. I think we will use it when we can combine it with some of her other subjects because I like the reinforcement it offers. I wish I had started this sooner with her. Riley, Riley, Riley. We’re still not sure what we are doing with her next year. I withdrew her from the amazing school she was attending last year because we were moving out of the area and there is a waiting list for the school. Now that we are hopefully buying a house in the same area we live in I’d love for her to be able to go back there. I’m calling first thing on Monday to see if that can happen. If it can’t she will probably stay home for a year and I will definitely continue this curriculum with her. She really benefits from the structured learning and from the do it right the first time style of learning.

If you think this would be a good curriculum fit for you it can be found at Brookdale House for $22.95. You can also get it in the Charlotte Mason bundle of the Build Your Bundle Sale. That bundle is selling for $49 but that is a savings of 87% off the retail value of $377.35. If you want to purchase the bundle you need to hurry. The sale ends Monday July 28 at 11:59 pm EST. After that the bundles and savings will be gone.

Easy Peasy Chore Chart System ~ Giveaway

Earlier this week I wrote this review on the Easy Peasy Chore Chart. Today I’ve been given permission to give away a copy of the Easy Peasy Chore Chart System

This will be a fast giveaway only 3 days long. It will end On Sunday July 27th, 2014 at 11:59 pm MST.

Mandatory Entry: Visit the Good Old Days Farm Store and tell me which of their other products you want to learn more about. Then leave me a comment saying which product it is you like best.

Bonus Entries:Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

    1. Like my Facebook Page
    2. Like Good Old Days Farm on Facebook.
    3. Follow me on Twitter @eamundsen
    4. Follow GoodOldDaysFarm on Twitter.
    5. Tweet about this contest once a day.  Leave the link.
    6. Pin this contest on Pinterest. Leave the link.

I’ll announce the winner on Monday morning.

House Hunting

I’m exhausted! Did you know house hunting is incredibly tiring? We’ve looked at 15 houses in three days. We’ve narrowed it down to our top three and we’re going to look at them again tomorrow. The only problem is the house in the number one spot has a time clause on an accepted offer. I guess that means that they’ve accepted the offer but the buyer has to sell their house first. All three houses would be fairly easy to adapt for a wheelchair.

The first house is completely one floor living for both John and Colby and has only a tiny step into each of the doors. I’m not even sure we’d need to pour concrete because they make a small little ramp for steps like that. Colby’s room would be big enough for him and all his equipment. It has a tub in his bathroom but it would be so easy to take it out and turn it into a roll in shower when we get to that point. It has a nice yard. Not the 3/4 acre we were going to buy but a big lot for the area of town it’s in.

The second house is on a steep lot for the backyard. It’s also a very small backyard. The house is pretty much first floor living. The stairs to the basement would fit a lift if we decided to put one in, which now that I think about it we would need to or else he could never go in the backyard. Hmm something to point out to John. (Ten minutes later) He’s got all the houses mixed up in his mind. He remembers the exterior of the houses and the interiors of the houses but he has the interiors going to the wrong exteriors. Does that make sense? Chemo brain can be rough sometimes. I also don’t love the family room and dining room lay out but we could make it work.

The third house has lots of light. More steps into all the entries of the house. It has horrendous wallpaper in every single room plus one wall is completely covered in mirrors! I don’t know what Utahns have with mirrored walls but I think at least 7 of the houses we were in had at least one mirrored wall. Again, I don’t love the layout of the dining and family room areas but they are doable. It has a wonderfully landscaped backyard and much to John’s delight is directly behind a cemetery. He says it makes for quiet neighbors and when he was stationed in Japan he lived next to a cemetery that was haunted.

I can see us living in choice number one and choice number three but I can’t really see number two. John loves it though and he’s not sure why. Funny how that works. We looked at another house today that just felt creepy to me. John thought it was kind of fun but it gave me the creeps so it was a definite no.

I have to admit that we are looking at houses with a bit of a different outlook than most people. Our poor realtor has been a trooper at putting up with us. John’s all about wheelchair access for Colby and not much else matters. For me Wheelchair access is important but it’s also about how the house will flow and function with medical equipment, a wheelchair, family and friends, etc. Here’s hoping that tomorrow brings us a little more clarity and a definite idea of what we should do.

Plan To Be Flexible ~ Review

Plan to Be Flexible website image_edited-1

Plan to Be Flexible website image_edited-1
  I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to survive my daily life I have to be flexible. This morning Colby’s feeding pump decided it wanted to start alarming with a clog at 4:30. I got up primed the pump and went back to bed. Roughly forty two seconds later it alarmed again. Awesome! I got up again, repeated and started to walk back out of his room when it went off a third time. This time it woke Colby up. He was so mad! I can’t say that I blame him, I was a little mad myself. It took an hour to calm him back down and five minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off at 6:00 he dropped back to sleep. On the plus side I was able to take a shower before I put Colby on the bus for summer school. It’s now 10:18 pm and Colby is awake again. Yes I was planning on going to bed early tonight because I got up early but that’s not looking like it’s going to happen any time soon.

What’s the point of all that? It’s not to complain about my day. It was really quite productive. We looked at 7 houses, possibly finding one we’d like to put an offer on. It wasn’t to get “how do you do it?” questions because who else is going to do it if I don’t? It was to explain why I have learned to be flexible. Nothing about today went as planned except that Riley went to a friends house to play while we went house hunting. Thank goodness for amazing friends! This is a pretty good example of how my days tend to get so far off track. My problem is not being to rigid though. My problem is that all that flexibility causes a huge amount of schooling derailment. I know what I want to happen each day, it’s just that it seldom happens.

I have a very vague sense of the big picture. It’s overlapped with doctor appointments, chemotherapy, and medications. It has influenced our girls in every area of their lives. Jahnna wants to become a “brain scientist who cures cancer and strokes” and Riley wants to be a scientist of some kind depending on the day. She thinks as of yesterday that being a biologist might be fun. Can you tell she’s been watching Wild Kratt’s ? Tonight John took the girls to a swim party while I re-read the book Plan To Be Flexible Designing a Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan that Works for Your Family.

There is a lot of good advice in this book. Alicia Kazsuk has filled this full of personal experiences and wisdom. Advice like this “In the seasons when it seems there’s a lot of hard manual labor in the homeschooling “fields,” keep your eyes peeled for signs of the coming harvest. You and I know the big-picture blessings of teaching our kids at home (otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen this tough path). But in those moments when you need encouragement about why you’re on this path, pray to be shown a glimpse of the beautiful fruit still growing underground.”

Homeschooling is hard. Sending your kids to school when you wish you could keep them home is hard. Where ever you are in the journey of raising your children there will be difficult periods. Every day I send Colby to school I feel a pang of guilt. I need the break that school gives me. That break allows me the opportunity to keep Jahnna home where she learns best. Mom guilt, much? Every single stinkin day! For us, this is what works for now.

I appreciate Alicia’s advice to step back and get a sense of the big picture. What do you want for your kids? What and where are your priorities? Things that might get lost in the day to day details. If you are a big spreadsheet or Excel person you will love her advice and ways she has laid out and explained for you. I like to paper plan but I know that it would be easier or at least I wouldn’t lose it as often if I did it on the computer.

My favorite part is the assessment portion in the appendix of the book. What a great guide to help you get an idea of where you are at and where you need to go to achieve your goals. Over the next month I’m going to be doing some deep thinking about the answers to those questions. If you are just starting out on your homeschool journey or if you’ve got a few years under your belt like I do there is still a lot of information that will be helpful even if you aren’t feeling burnt out.  For any secular homeschoolers that might be reading this, this is definitely a Christian resource. Prayer, worship, bible study are frequent topics which I’m good with but you might not be. I always try and be aware of others viewpoints and I realize that this is a turn off for some people or a major selling point for others.

Alicia is in the process of changing her website from The Vintage Creative to Vibrant Homeschooling. She has started offering her Bloom classes as well for $99. You can purchase Plan To Be Flexible: Designing A Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan That Works for Your Family from Amazon for $3.99 or  for $10 you can Save 92% on the Bundle Just for Moms Bundle at the Build Your Bundle – Homeschool  Edition Sale! In the bundle you will get $118 worth of products for a little more than you can get buying the book on Amazon.

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