Saturday, April 10, 2010

Card Color Challenge!

My Pink Stamper has a color challenge this weekend. Create something using your Cricut and the colors: Pink, Green, and Black. I don't use much black so this was a stretch for me.  Here are two cards I created:
I used the Old West Cricut cartridge for both cards. I thought the pink tones made a nice sunset and the cactus and ground are made from Core'dinations cardstock. Maggie & I love this paper - it is so fun to sand it and tear it and see the color beneath! The shadows, rock, and all pink and black paper are by Papertrey Ink - love this cardstock too - it is firm and heavy, very nice to work with. Both papers cut beautifully with my Cricut.

Any time I make something pink, I think of my two "Princess" nieces. This card is specifically for Princess Daphne. I thought she would enjoy a pink horse, especially a sparkly one! the sentiment and all paper except the green is PTI again, the green is Core'dinations. I added green, pink, and white jewels for stars and Maggie glittered the card front, back, and inside with our homemade glitter mist! So, Daphne, be watching your mailbox for a card from Mags and me!

Review: Download N Go™- Expedition Australia

I received “Expedition Australia” from the Download N Go Series to review. The Download N Go Series is by Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse. Expedition Australia is aimed at children in grades K-4th and offers one week of lessons. Titles in the Download N Go Series can be purchased from The Old Schoolhouse Store.

“Expedition Australia” is an e-book and includes website links, lapbook activities, and a book list. Using this unit study requires a computer with internet connection and a printer, a library, and a file folder or notebook for your completed lapbook.

I used “Expedition Australia” with Maggie, my 11 yr old daughter, and FRitW, my 5 yr old son. Kirk helped FRitW and MT just looked on with us.

I set our laptop up on the kitchen table, got out the bowl of markers, passed out papers I had printed the night before, and let the fun begin! I started out each day with one of the videos linked in the study. This is one of my favorite things about this study – there are links to videos, some with music and others with commentary. These videos are a great way to start the lesson.

Day One we learned about the Great Barrier Reef. I had some photos of the reef in one of the books I found at the library, but the video for the day was filmed underwater and had such beautiful sea life. All of us, big and little, enjoyed this short film and, of course, it was much easier to explain “reef” to the little guys when we could see and point out coral and other creatures. After watching the video we followed a link to a scavenger hunt game about a reef.

Each day featured a landform, an animal, and an Australian word. We also learned about weather and time differences between our home and various places in Australia, Australian history, money, constellations, and foods.

Maggie completed all of the activities. She loved using the website links provided to compare time and temperature in our area to Australian cities, and learning about animals and landforms in Australia. She enjoys lapbooks and liked recording the information and decorating her lapbook.

FRitW loved the videos of Australian animals and landforms and worked with Kirk to label his maps. He is not reading or writing on his own yet, so most of his learning came from information shared in the videos or discussions with his sister. He and MT were able to do some of the counting and cutting and pasting activities.

Things I liked about this study:

1. The information links in the study: There are videos, fact pages, and even a game.

2. The poetry pages: These are beautiful photographs and poems related to Australia.

3. Each day’s lesson is linked to the lapbook activity that matches it. This meant I did not have to search through all of the “stuff” near the end of the E-book – I just had to click a link then click again to be returned to our study. Fabulous!

4. The variety: Although kangaroos and koalas were featured, other less common animals were also discussed. The landforms (geographic features) were varied as well.

A few problems I had with this study:

1. I had a very hard time finding the books on the reading list. I spent time at two local libraries and finally found 5 of the books listed and a few others that I felt would work for our study. That said, this study could be done without the books, because there is so much information in the web links. I just like books!

2. I had to load the videos ahead of time, so we could watch them smoothly. It only took a few minutes, but when I forgot to “preload” the video it ate into our time and allowed distraction! This is strictly a technology issue on my part – my computer and internet strength were the problems, not the product!

Overall, I really liked “Expedition Australia”. I enjoyed the way the information was presented, and I liked that I was able to let Maggie do some of the research on her own (after I reviewed the websites for myself). It had some activities that even my younger boys could do and many “jumping off” points for older kids. The material was not incredibly in depth, since this is supposed to be a one week study, but I found several topics lent themselves to further exploration. The authors also include “Fun Family Ideas” in the study that would allow for lots of fun learning experiences and there are additional web links for continued learning.

The Download N Go Series covers lots of subjects: biographies – George Washington, Amelia Earhart; seasons and holidays – Valentine’s Day, Autumn Treasures; weather – Twisting Tornadoes, foods – Pizza Party, fun activities – Kite Capers and more to come! Each week long study is $7.95, and there are package opportunities that reduce the price considerably .

Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: E-Book: WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter

I have seen the Wanna Be… series in the Old Schoolhouse Store. I’ve glanced at the numerous titles available, like Veterinarian, Pilot, and Chef and returned them to their virtual shelf. So, when I was asked to review WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter I had a few preconceived notions about it.

I expected a very limited topic, maybe even just a list of books to read or field trips to take, but little to interest all of my children at once. I was WRONG!

I opened the file and began reading the information and I was impressed. There is a list of books and field trip suggestions, but there are also first-hand stories. Stories from actual firefighters about their daily duties and the training and education they received. There are descriptions of job duties, but they also share about cooking dinner, exercising, and spending time with coworkers.

This was fun, but there is more. There were math activities including graphs demonstrating payscale in relation to rank, seniority, and location. Writing activities included creative writing prompts and copywork. There was a crossword puzzle and vocabulary words. We also learned about fire safety, and building codes, and the kids favorite part, a description of the use of robotic arms in fire fighting. We built a model of a robotic arm, which was one of the projects available in the E-book. We modified ours a bit in order to use supplies on hand.

Our youngest son, MT, is absolutely fascinated by fire trucks and he was able to participate with the coloring pages included in the E-book. Our oldest, Kirk, helped with the robotic arm model and taught a short lesson about robotics. The middle children, FRitW and Maggie, enjoyed copywork, a true story about a fire dog, and detailed descriptions of fire equipment, right down to what is included in all those doors on the firetrucks! I won’t even begin to tell you all that I learned, but it was a lot!

I will be looking again at all of the titles available in this series. I think my children would be interested in several of them because of the broad range of activities included in the “Wanna Be – Firefighter” E-book.

There are several suggestions for an “end of study” party at the end of the E-book. Suggestions include games, foods, even a fire truck cake. We intend to have a Firefighter party when we finish this study, but we aren’t done with it yet!

I received this product as a free download for the purpose of reviewing it. It is available in The Old Schoolhouse Store for $8.95. The other E-books in this series are available here.

Notes: I was unable to find even one book listed in the references at either library I have access to. However I found some books about fire trucks and firemen that were fun for the boys and found that the E-book had adequate information to interest everyone.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Card Challenge!

I am trying to choose just a couple of card challenges each week to focus on as I learn new card making skills and one is Tuesday Morning Sketches. I wasn't able to complete a sketch last week, so I made up for it yesterday!

Here is the sketch for this week:

I bought a new stamp set last week from Papertrey Ink and really wanted to use a sentiment from that set. The sentiment is "Wishing you butterfly mornings and wildflower afternoons". So my design actually started with the sentiment. I played with a number of color options, but since I am new to stamping, I have a very limited color palette of inks, so the card had to go with a color of ink I have! I ended up making three cards:
The pink and green card is made with Anna Griffin paper and Papertrey Ink cardstock. The flower stamps are from CTMH

The blue card uses Core'dinations Vintage and Papertrey Ink cardstocks and the tiny blue and yellow flowers and blue butterfly are all from the Papertrey Ink stamp set.

The orange card is Papertrey Ink and Core'dinations again, the same stamps as the blue card, but I used some ribbon I already had and yellow paper daisies.

Once I had created the cards, I decided I liked the color schemes enough to try this project that I found on the Mel Stampz blog

This are very sturdy (thanks to the Papertrey Ink cardstock!) and are designed to hold cards for gift giving. Maggie and I are also thinking of making a couple to put small stuffed animals in to give as gifts.

Grilled Pizza!

Kirk received a new charcoal grill for his birthday and we have been putting it to good use! We have grilled everyday except for Wednesday. Today we tried something new! My sister and her girls were here today and we decided to try grilled pizza. Kirk found the suggestion in a kitchen/recipe book given to him by Aunt Debbie. The book said to put the dough directly on the grill, cook it awhile, then flip it, top it, and close the lid to wait for the cheese to melt.

It was soooo good! I think it might be harder on a gas grill, because I kept dropping cheese and dripping olive oil through the grate and I think it would cause flare ups on a gas grill, but on the charcoal grill it was not a problem. We made a garlic cheese bread, pepperoni pizza, and pepperoni with bell pepper & onion. A few things we learned as we went: use less tomato sauce and cheese than you usually would, keep the grill closed as much as possible (we couldn't resist checking on the pizzas so it took longer to cook!), and make more than one recipe of dough! We had to go back and make another batch of pizza crust because it went so fast! 

Maybe this will be on the menu for the next family get together! 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Books!

You are in your local library perusing the shelves and suddenly, a book catches your eye. You just have to stop and read it, then take it home to share it with your family. This book isn’t a classic, nor a heart stopping thriller, or even on the best seller list…It is a picture book. Yep, a children’s picture book.

I love reading aloud to my children and I think high quality literature is wonderful, but sometimes you need a good old fashioned romp into plain old silliness! I have found two of these jewels recently. Two books that just made me laugh out loud with the unexpected story lines and hilarious illustrations.
Book number one is Uncle Frank’s Pit authored and illustrated by Matt McElligott. I love a book with a surprise ending and this book had that, as well as some surprises throughout. As I read and watched the pit take shape, I loved how imaginative the author was in drawing the pit. Look carefully at the details for fun things to point out to your children.

Book number two is Millie Waits for the Mail written and illustrated by Alexander Steffensmeier. Once again this book was completely different from what I imagined. This book absolutely requires you to really look at the pictures! The story line is funny, but the artwork makes it very funny. We read this book many, many times, each time finding new details or laughing at the expression on Millie’s face (Look carefully at Millie after she sits on the bike). This book is wonderful as a read aloud because there is so much to “act out” with your voice.

If you have kids (or even if you don’t) look for these books at your library – and let me know what you thought of them!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Resurrection Sunday

Maggie and I came home from a wedding shower yesterday evening to find this:

Fastest Runner in the World asked Kirk to help him make these three crosses so we all remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.