Science 4 Us Review Coming Up

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Over the next 30 days, I will be reviewing Science4Us is an engaging, elementary science curriculum that teaches science using a fun, interactive approach. If you have your own blog and would like to review Science4Us, check out their homeschool review program. Make sure to come back and read my full review.

The Adventures of Bubba Jones Book Review

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The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling through the Great Smoky Mountains (Amazon affiliate link) is the latest book by Jeff Alt. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

I have been reading this book to my children, who are five and seven at the moment. They could sit through up to four chapters of this book at a time. The book has 16 chapters and, as such, it could be read as a family in a week. The chapters are short, about seven pages long on average. We read it in the evening for our bedtime story time, as well as in the car, during a family trip we took out-of-state. As the kids got antsy on the backseat, I pulled the book out and started reading, showing them an illustration as we came upon it. Each chapter has one black-and-white illustration which captures the most important scene of that chapter.

The Adventures of Bubba Jones

Overall, I would recommend this to any family trying to awaken an interest in hiking and the Smokies. We all need to work towards that goal. Children log in way too many hours playing video games and watching TV, resulting in poor thinking skills and obesity, not to mention a terrible disconnect from nature and ecology. The book is entertaining and educational at the same time. My kids love it and they ask for more as we finish each chapter.

We happen to live in the Smokies, so we love all the places mentioned and we know most of them from having been there. When the story took the Jones family back in time to Lucretia Oliver’s cabin in Cades Cove, I told the children we were there in 2011 for Mother’s Day. They don’t remember because they were one and four at the time, but it was a neat memory to share with them while reading this book.

The plot is simple: Bubba Jones and his sister take a trip through the Smokies with their parents and extended family, learning about all the people that have ever lived through these places and how the National Park came to be. They travel through time using a family skill passed on to Bubba by his grandfather.

Hiking and camping tips are shared in a relaxed way, and one even reads about how to act when running into a black bear in the Park. At the end of the book, you will find a section with questions that check reading comprehension and retention.

Overall, this would be a great book to read before, during and after your trip in the Smokies. Kids love it and learn a few things, too. I believe Jeff Alt has embraced a great cause: that of inspiring the next generation with a love of nature and hiking. This book is part of his efforts as an avid hiker and award-winning writer to accomplish that mission. It looks like this is only the first volume in a National Parks series, so stay tuned for forthcoming volumes on other parks.

The book can be picked up at different gift shops in the National Park, as well as on Amazon. It is only $9.18, which is a great price for a book that has 180 pages, including an educational section in the back.

For your information, the book does mention the theory of evolution as a fact in one place. Chapter 3 states that the Smokies are at least 460 million years old. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you can read the book and not have to worry too much about earth origins. The main thrust of the book is about hiking, enjoying nature, solving the family mystery of the missing cousin and loving the Smokies.

Accountable Kids Review

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I have written on my blog several times about Accountable Kids but it has been briefly, just in passing, i.e. we use it and are happy with it. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest, I rate it at 5. I think the time has come for me to share with you more in-depth about it. This program is for children ages 3-14. I started using it four years ago, when my oldest was 3 and my second was still a baby. Obviously, the baby could not do much with it. So we only bought one kit.

Accountable Kids board and cards

Accountable Kids board and cards

The kit contains a wooden board with five pegs, cards to hang on the different pegs, and a book. I highly recommend the book before you start the program with the children, not just so that you may understand what you are trying to accomplish, but to learn more about childhood phases, how you should think on your children’s level and many other parenting tips.

Accountable Kids Book

Accountable Kids Book

The Accountable Kids program has helped me (1) prioritize and schedule chores, (2) motivate my children, (3) hold them accountable for their behavior, (4) reward them for positive behavior and (5) build a forum for addressing negative behavior. It is not just a chore chart, mind you.  Continue reading »

Little Bits Review

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When I watched the TED talk on Little Bits, I knew I was going to have to get a set for my son. He loves all things LEGO – I have not blogged enough about his LEGO projects, a thing I intend to change in 2015 – and Little Bits seems like the next step as he continues to explore building, electronics, and technology.

I suggest you watch the TED talk I mentioned above. It’s only 5 minutes. Their creator explains what Little Bits are better than I could. In short, Little Bits are electronic modules of different colors, each color performing a specific task (like pulse, sound, light, wire etc), and which snap together via magnets. No soldering needed.

Little Bits - Deluxe Kit

Little Bits – Deluxe Kit

Little Bits are intended for children 8 to ∞. Our son turned 7 in November, but he looks like an 8-year-old and he reads at a 6th grade level. He builds LEGO projects intended for 14-year-olds. So who’s to say that we should wait another year to get him Little Bits?  Continue reading »

French Friday, Petra Lingua Review

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We love French in our homeschool. I have started teaching my children French on a regular basis this spring. We joined the Alliance Française of Knoxville, signed up for Popi, and watched Caillou on youtube. However, I felt the need for a systematic approach to learning French. Enter Petra LinguaContinue reading »

French Friday, Allons Danser! Review

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For a couple of months now, the kids and I have been listening to Allons Danser! – a CD with French music for kids, produced by Whistlefritz. It has been such a great tool for my French Play Group, not just for my children. We use the Bonjour, Les Amis song to start the meeting and Au Revoir to close.  Continue reading »

Bringing Up Bébé Review

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Two years ago, when I heard about Bringing Up Bébé, I was not interested. The subtitle of the book is, “One American Mother Discovers the Joy and Wisdom of French Parenting.” I knew one thing about French parenting: it’s very hands-off, i.e. they put their babies in crèches (daycare for babies) at three months old and, later, they send them to all-day preschool at three. This is the way I was raised in Romania by my working parents.

Pas pour moiContinue reading »

Apologia: Flourish Book Review

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I love reading and I love organizational tips. So you can imagine how glad I was to read and review Flourish, Balance for Homeschool Moms, by Mary Jo Tate, published by Apologia Educational Ministries. This book contains everything a homeschooling mom needs to organize her life AND her way of thinking.

The most important thing in the book are not so much the forms and the organizational principles, as much as the philosophy underlying everything, i.e. that your goal should be balancing your many roles and tasks throughout the day and the years, not juggling them. The image you should have in your mind, as a homeschooling mom trying to do it all, is not that of a juggler, throwing things in the air so you can catch the urgent ones ready to hit the floor. Instead, you should imagine a tight-rope walker, carefully making small adjustments, as she advances to the other side.  Continue reading »

HomeSchoolPiano Review

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For the past couple of months we have had the privilege of learning piano from HomeSchoolPiano, an online subscription program created by Willie Myette. Besides the lessons, which are 10-minute videos, we also received access to HomeSchoolPiano – Complete Set of Books. These three books (PDFs you must print yourself) will take you from an absolute beginner level all the way to the advanced level of creating different arrangements in various musical styles.


Continue reading »

Go Science DVDs Review

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Recently, we received two of the seven Go Science DVDs (Series 2) from Library and Educational Services. What follows is a review of DVD 4 – Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light – and DVD 7 – Engineering, Design, and Flight – , as well as a general overview of this set and the experience my children had while watching.

Ben Roy, a science professor from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, recorded different science experiments for a children’s program on a Christian satellite TV station. Later on, he put them together in these DVDs. Continue reading »