Unexpected Lessons (From a Math Book)

Life is full of unexpected things – at least mine is! Our household is in a constant state of change – 3 kids about to leave the nest & a new grandbaby on the way! So, my new mantra is: change is good, I like change! :) How about you? What about in your homeschooling? Could you use some unexpected lessons? Life of Fred math books are full of them! Haven’t tried it? Check out these “unexpected lessons” in Life of Fred below!!

life of fred unexpected lessons

Life Of Fred is like no other math program out there. This math book series is known for weaving math concepts into exciting stories about a 5-year-old math genius. The author has tossed in valuable lessons that kids wouldn’t typically find in a math textbook.

Many of Fred’s readers will say that these books are very fun to read. But why? Here’s what one homeschooler says about the books:

“Even if the math concepts are a review, your kids will enjoy learning about the zany extras in each book. My son still enjoys saying toenail in German. That’s an additional important life skill if I say so myself. 😉” -Jamerrill, FreeHomeschoolDeals.com

It’s true that the Fred books are full of unexpected lessons beyond math concepts. Here are a few of our favorite unexpected lessons from the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series.

Unexpected Lesson #1

In the Life of Fred Butterflies book, students will learn linear measurements, time, geometry, and specific numbers!

In Chapter Nineteen of Butterflies, “Mysteries of Life,” Fred and his buddy Kingie receive a pizza delivery. Kingie proceeds to chomp down his half of the pizza (Kingie says he is so hungry because “being an artist is hard work”). But Fred takes a moment to set the table while the pizza cools off. He shows the reader how to set a table:

Place mat goes down first.
Then the plate and the napkin.
Then the fork on top of the napkin.
Knife and spoon on the right with the knife next to the plate.
The cup above the knife.

life of fred excerpt

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One page later, your child receives practice sheets for addition and subtraction!

Unexpected Lesson #2

In the Edgewood book, students work with concurrent lines, the commutative law of addition, touch on quadrilateral shapes, and more! The materials covered in this 128 page book are parallel lines, right angles, functions, quarter of an hour, half dozen, six examples of functions, math poems, the four kinds of sentences, firearm safety & more!

In Chapter Fourteen, “Food and Warmth,” your student reviews how to calculate half of a number, measurement of distance, counting calories in a meal, and the phases of the moon. Fred’s bus breaks down outside of town, and he was determined to run to town to get help. It was 6 p.m., and Fred did not want to run in the dark.

“Maybe there will be a full moon, Fred thought. Then there would be enough light to keep on running.”

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In the next chapter of Edgewood, Fred explains the meaning of voluntary and involuntary actions. How does he fit all of these lessons together to create a funny math story? You just have to read the book and find out!!

Unexpected Lesson #3

In the Honey book, students work on fun math activities with Fred as he goes through fractions, multiplication facts, unit conversions and more! Perhaps your child hasn’t thought about starting their own business yet, but it’s never too soon to spark the idea to become an entrepreneur. In Chapter Fourteen, “Starting a Business,” Kingie puts on his businessman hat. (Fun Fact: Kingie sells his own art.) Kingie explains the risks of starting your own business. He then goes over the “Checklist for Starting a Business” with Fred.

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At the end of the chapter, the reader is asked to check Fred’s business calculations. Will his business be profitable? Later in the book, Fred continues to follow his dream of becoming an apiarist. (Yes, the book explains that an apiarist is too!)

More about the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series:

Buyer's Guide Life of Fred Blog Post (2)

Who is it for? Kindergarten to 4th grade

Concepts covered: time, types of numbers, geometry, measurement, facts about stars, morse code, geography, adjectives & verbs, patterns, functions, sheet music, seven wonders of the world, math poems, percents, numbers vs. numerals, division, slope of a line, graphing, notation, the improper use of seat belts, how to prove you are not a duck, reducing fractions, and so much more.

Titles in this series: Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, Goldfish, Honey, Ice Cream, Jelly Beans

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Let’s Talk Curriculum – Christian-based History

Christian based history

(This post contains affiliate links)

When we started homeschooling, I didn’t realize that there was Christian-based history available. With so many different products to choose from, I quickly found out that studying history through a Christian worldview was what I wanted for my kids!

What is “worldview”

I’ll be the first to admit that some of the terms homeschoolers use confuse me! I kept hearing the term “worldview” in relation to history, but I didn’t understand. The definition of worldview is: a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world. So, if you’re viewing history through a Christian worldview, you’re getting to see the contributions, influences, and beliefs of Christians and Christianity in history; i.e., Christian-based history!

You’ll still learn the facts – names, dates, places, important events – and you get the underlying theme and connection with the history of the Bible and Christianity. How fun is that?!!

Some favorites

We’ve used different history curricula through the years – Abeka, Bob Jones, Beautiful Feet Books, Mystery of History, and Notgrass. All of these are Christian-based history and each has their strengths (and occasional weaknesses). I’ve definitely seen how learning styles work with these (see my post Get Started Homeschooling! for more information about Cathy Duffy’s learning styles).

Abeka and Bob Jones are textbook approach (very much like public school textbooks). They are great at getting the information to the student, and they do an amazing job in reinforcing what they’re learning.

Notgrass is literature heavy. Completing a Notgrass history course (at least at the high school level) gives a credit in English, Bible, and history (3 credits total). This is a time-intensive course. I advise reviewing the curriculum and talking to your student before you commit to it.

My recommendations

Our two favorites are Beautiful Feet Books and Mystery of History. Beautiful Feet Books uses a history through literature approach. Last year my daughter did their medieval history, and it was great! The student reads a number of books (a dozen or so), and there is a guide to keep them on track. You can pick and choose what extras to do along with the reading. I really loved this study, and my daughter learned so much! This may sound like a lot of reading, but they’re shorter books and sometimes even just sections of books.

We used Mystery of History Volume 1 when my daughter was younger, but it’s actually one of those curricula that can be adjusted for different age groups. I love how it shows the lives of the different men and women in the Bible throughout history, all the way to Jesus! By the end she had a large tri-fold board with a red ribbon showing the lineage of Jesus weaving through history from creation to the resurrection. It’s an amazing visual!

New options for Mystery of History

Bright Ideas Press, the publisher for Mystery of History, now offers an online academy for Vol 3. It’s a live class with the author, Linda Hobar. For more information on this amazing opportunity, click here or on the graphic below.

I hope this roundup of different Christian-based history curricula helps you in your planning! Happy learning!

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The Mystery of History Online Academy

Check out my other “Let’s Talk Curriculum” post at Let’s Talk Curriculum – Math Styles & Choices!

This post has been linked up at This is How We Roll Thursdays and The Homeschool Nook!

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Baked Creamy Chicken and Potatoes

Creamy Chicken and Potatoes

I found this recipe for creamy chicken and potatoes in a crockpot and modified it because I didn’t start it in the crockpot on time! Then I changed it some to amp up the flavor. It ended up being somewhat like Chicken Divan which we love! It was yummy!

Ingredients

5-8 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (could use thighs too)

6-8 small, red potatoes – washed and quartered (I left the skin on)

1/2 small onion chopped (as big or small as you like it)

baby carrots or sliced carrots (I just scattered in as much as we would eat)

mushrooms (optional – can use cooked or canned)

2 cans cream of mushroom soup (or any cream type soup)

grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Directions

Spray a 13×9 or larger baking dish with cooking spray. Put quartered potatoes in the bottom. Scatter chopped onions and carrots around and on top of them. Place the chicken pieces on top of that. Spoon the soup over top of all. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese over all.

Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle some more Parmesan cheese, bake 15-20 minutes or until chicken is tender. Broil 2-4 minutes to lightly brown the cheese.

Serve with sides

I made broccoli to go with this. A side salad or even breadsticks would also be great side dishes. This was easy to make, easy to adapt (with whatever vegetables you’d like to add), easy to clean up, and super yummy!

Check out my other chicken recipes – Chicken ‘n Dumplings, Chicken Noodle Soup, and Chicken Divan. Plus my Pinterest board Chicken – It’s What’s For Dinner has tons of great recipes!

This post was linked-up on Wonderful Wednesday, Pretty Pintastic Party, and Coffee and Conversation!

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College Conversations: A Parent’s Guide to College Orientation

college orientation

College orientation can be exciting, scary, thrilling, overwhelming, awe-inspiring, mind-boggling, and daunting. And that’s just for us parents!

My daughter’s freshman college orientation was a day and a half long. It was extremely well put together and had tons of great information. If there was one “problem” it would be that it was almost too much information. She’s our 4th going to college; I can only imagine how overwhelmed the first time college parents were feeling! So, while I was there I made a few notes of things that I think can help other parents during this process. Because that orientation was as much for us parents as it was for our kids.

What parents should do during college orientation

  • If at all possible, go! Go to orientation with your student. Mom &/or dad should go, and if possible leave the siblings at home
  • Stay on campus if you are offered that choice. It’s different than a hotel (very different), but it gives you a good idea of how and where your child will live. And, it will help your student have a more realistic idea of dorm living.
  • Bring all the paperwork you might need, just in case. Things like shot records, most recent transcripts, ACT/SAT scores, etc. Hopefully by this time the college already has them, but it’s good to bring them along.
  • Network – talk to other parents, talk to the professors/deans, talk to the admin people conducting the orientation. You need them (or you will), and they need you. If you have concerns beyond the “norm” – for example, a special needs student or health concerns – make an appointment with the right people to talk about that. They want to hear from you!
  • Check out the dining options. That way when Suzy-Q calls and says, “There’s nothing good to eat here!” you can say, “I ate at the cafeteria/Starbucks/hamburger joint and it was yummy!” 😉
  • Tour the dorms with your student. Dorms range in size and options. When you get home you can help remind them what you saw.
  • Take pictures. My daughter isn’t big on having her picture taken, but take them anyways. Of your kid, the campus, their favorite building, the dorm rooms, the fancy coffee place.
  • Check into the health services on campus. You’ll want to know how and where to send your daughter or son when they get sick. Find out if they take your insurance, if there is a pharmacy on campus, what the appointment options are, etc. If you have specific concerns try to talk to the health service people while you’re on campus.
  • Financial issues are huge at college! Get the information you need. Talk to the financial people until you get your questions answered.
  • There was a lot of repetition during orientation. Repetition is good, but if you get overwhelmed, take a break. Go get a coffee, take deep breaths, chat with another parent who’s stepped away from the craziness for a minute. This is a huge change for parents! You’re not alone!

Take care of you!

What I heard repeated over and over again at college orientation was just as much for the parents as the kids – eat, eat healthy, sleep, talk to people, get involved. Parents, we need to do these things for ourselves too during this phase. We need to take care of ourselves and be great examples to our kids!

Final tips

My last 2 tips for your college orientation are these: take notes and ask questions. Get those phone numbers and emails and use them! Oh, and wear really good walking shoes; you’re gonna need them!

For more college tips and information, see my Pinterest board College Prep and my posts College/Dorm Supply List and 5 Tips for a Great College Tour.

And I’ve shared my thoughts about my daughter’s graduation in What I Forgot to Remember.

This post was linked-up at Practical Mondays, Homeschool Nook, This is How We Roll, Wonderful Wednesday, and Coffee and Conversation!

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Top Homeschool Picks from Cathy Duffy

I remember when my oldest daughter was little and I let her “choose” her clothes. Oh my! It could take HOURS! I love having choices, and giving my kids choices, but when it comes to homeschool curriculum I want input! I want to hear from the “experts” and those who’ve already used what I’m looking at. It can be confusing with all the options out there. I’d like to encourage you to ask questions of other homeschoolers when you’re looking for that right choice. And if you need a great go-to guide – check out Cathy Duffy’s 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.

Cathy Duffy is the know-all when it comes to homeschool curriculum. She has reviewed hundreds of homeschool curricula to help educators like me make an educated decision when shopping for homeschool curriculum. So as soon as I see a product has been approved by Cathy Duffy, I am more likely to trust it. Here’s a handful of Cathy-approved educational picks available at Educents.com. I hope these double-recommended educational resources will relieve you from endless hours of shopping around for the best (and most cost-effective) homeschool resources.

Elementary Math & Science

Life of Fred Elementary Math

math books

If you haven’t heard of Life of Fred, you’re in for a real treat. Dr. Stanley F Schmitt is a math teacher who developed story-based math learning series that has taken homeschooling by storm! Forget rote learning that doesn’t resonate: learners follow the Fred and his pals through life and learn math concepts along the way. Kids sometimes don’t even know they’re learning math until they’re told!

Each book has a topic, like Apples, Butterflies, and Cats. I recommend supplementing math learning with science of social studies of the same topic!

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Giant Butterly Gardengiant-butterfly-garden-lr2295-1460412033.0649.1481

This ties in with the second Life of Fred book so well! With the set little ones can learn about (and experience!) the miracles of metamorphosis. Available at Educents for $35.99.

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Elementary Reading & Writing

Grammaropolis

grammaropolis

I can’t say enough for story-based learning. It’s one of the oldest ways we’ve learned from each other – starting with fables that teach us to be good to one another.

Grammaropolis is a great tool for K-3rd grade learners on their quest for perfect English grammar, which isn’t always straight forward! This set comes with animated shorts, music videos, books and quizzes, so you’ve got a lot of learning styles covered.

Price: $40, down from $50

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Middle School Math

Life of Fred Intro to Algebra

lof_algebra

I really can’t say enough about the Life of Fred series! Kids learning algebra and beyond will enjoy the stories and learn the concepts through holistic learning. If your learner is new to Fred but at a more advanced level, it has been recommended that they start from the beginning. That said, re-learning a few known concepts in the Life of Fred framework will help them get up to speed with story and succeed with the series.

Price: $34.08 down from $38 at Educents.

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Life of Fred Financial Choices

financialchoices

As your kiddos get older you may also like to instill strong financial decision making. The Life of Fred Financial Choices book is a great intro. And if we’re being honest, there’s never a bad time time for parents to brush up on this!

Price: $15.99 down from $19.99

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Middle School Social Studies

myWorld Social Studies

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Comprehensive comprehension: this world history and social studies packet is an excellent kick off to middle school studies. Created for 6th graders, this set lays the groundwork for students to become active citizens by learning about US history and politics, and encouraging learners to understand real ways they can participate, and how it matters.

The package also includes a teacher’s guide for every chapter, lesson plans, audio podcasts on each subject, and editable tests with answer keys: it really sets everyone up for success!

Price: $72.47

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Science for the Family

Magic School Bus Nature Bundle

MSBNatureBundle

Summer is a great time to get the whole family involved with experiments to foster learning and family bonding!

This set comes with four science kits at $16 (a $35 savings) with topics covered:

  • Weather – learn about rainbows, tornadoes, the greenhouse effect and more.
  • Going Green – learn about recycling, compost, and making new paper out of old!
  • Solar Energy – watch solar energy inflate balloons and spin a top
  • Wonders of Nature – build and ant hill, dissolve an egg shell, do an animal tracks exercise

Price: $63 down from $100

get-it-now-200x60This post is linked-up on Pretty Pintastic Party!

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Top 5 Summer Learning Picks!

My Top 5 Summer Learning Picks from Educents!

(plus a few ideas for Father’s Day)

This is the perfect time to start your kids’ summer learning! And, this weekend Educents is hosting a Summer Stock Up Sale with Free Shipping on orders over $25 with code SUNSHINE. Read on for my Top 5 Picks – including Magic School Bus and Hooked on Phonics – to make the most of the sale and summer. You can make summer learning fun!

Magic School Bus

Educents-Magic-School-Bus-Science-Club

This is a 12-month subscription to science experiments delivered by Ms. Frizzle – I approve! It’s such a great way to get the kiddos excited about learning and the monthly delivery is a great surprise!

Since the whole family can enjoy this, and it lasts the whole year, it’s my first pick as a Father’s Day gift. Who wants a tie when you can do science together?!

Price: $119 down from $240 plus Free Shipping with code SUNSHINE through Monday

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Hooked on Phonics

hooked

This award winning series has taught thousands of little ones to read because it breaks learning to read down to a manageable undertaking while engaging your little one. In the words of American author, Mark Twain:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one.”

The Hooked on Phonics Pre-K-2 program does just that so your kiddos can get ahead and learn the wonders of literature!

Great for beginners.

Price: $129 down from $299 plus Free Shipping with code SUNSHINE through Monday

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eMedia Play Piano Pack Deluxe

Did you ever play piano? I never made it to rock stardom but am so glad that I started learning the foundation of music with the piano. It has such a full range, and has been part of myriad musical traditions, from Beethoven to Diana Krall.

This award winning package is a great starter kit for your kiddo’s summer learning. Let’s face it: they’re going to need some variety, and what better a way to add music to their lives than with this complete kit and instruction from renowned Juliard teachers?

It comes with a bunch of multimedia tools, and a song list that includes writers like Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, and Elton John. Perfect for summer and beyond!

Great for learners age 8+

Price: $199 down from $299 plus Free Shipping with code SUNSHINE through Monday

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Zone Cleaning

zone cleaning 2

Here’s another pick for Father’s Day!

But in all seriousness, this is a great tool to empower kids to learn to clean and clean well, so nobody needs to swoop in afterward. During summer, my mother always said if we were bored, we had two options: math work books, or CLEANING. Both are important! Since summer has less structured time, this is a great tool to get started on the spick-and-span house we’ve all been dreaming of. And the kiddos actually like it!

Excellent for ALL ages.

Price: $19.95 down from $24.95 plus Free Shipping with code SUNSHINE through Monday (orders over $25)

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Learn to Code with Minecraft

md1

Coding certainly seems to be a buzzword these days, but it’s definitely more than that. As our world becomes more digitized, understanding the principals of writing computer scripts is becoming more and more important (and a touch more in our kiddos’ generation!). Learning to code with Minecraft makes learning this hard skill fin! Once complete, your kids will have a sense of accomplishment – what they create is completely unique, and shareable. I really like this tool – it creates an opportunity to build a foundational confidence with computing that will serve a lifetime.

Since this is a year long course that builds a longterm confidence, it’s worth an investment.

Great for ages 8-14

Price: $149.99 down from $249.99 plus Free Shipping with code SUNSHINE through Monday

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How to Throw an Awesome Summer Party!

Summer Party

Any great summer party needs 3 things: food, fun, and friends! I’ve rounded up some awesome ideas for food and fun – you just supply the friends!

Summer Party Drinks & Food

Pineapple-Mojito-3

Non-alcoholic Pineapple Mojito (What WhatU Eat) are a yummy start to a party. Light, refreshing, and family friendly!

watermelon-lemonade-91-1366702466

Watermelon Lemonade (DrinkedIn) is a sweeter drink, and maybe a touch less “puckery” than the Pineapple Mojito! Kids and adults will enjoy this non-alcoholic beverage.

sweet tea

My daughter recently found this amazing sweet tea recipe – you add baking soda to cut the bitterness! Perfect Southern Sweet Ice Tea (Love Bakes Good Cakes).

flag dessert

This Easy Flag Fruit Dessert (Family Fresh Meals) is patriotic, sweet, and good for you!

buffalo chicken

Buffalo Chicken Tortilla Pinwheels (Home Cooking Memories) make great finger food!

smokies

Every celebration needs smokies! Bacon Wrapped Smokies (Clarks Condensed)!

Summer Party Fun

bbq invites

Free, printable BBQ Invites (Confetti & Bliss).

sponge bombs

Learn to Make Sponge Bombs (Inner Child Fun) and have a sponge bomb bucket toss!

tic tac toe

Tic Tac Toe Frisbee (U Create Crafts) and other life-sized outdoor games!

summer songs

You’ll need a great playlist! 12 Songs for a Carefree Summer (The (Reformed) Idealist Mom).

 

slide

Shaving Cream Slide Fun (Growing a Jeweled Rose) looks like so much fun!!

Check out my Pinterest board Summer Fun for more party ideas, food, games, and decorations!

This post was linked-up at This is How We Roll, Coffee and Conversation, Oh My Heartsie Girl Friday Feature, Bloggers Spotlight, Pretty Pintastic Party, and Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop. And, it was featured on Coffee & Conversation!

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