Make It Work Monday – dish towels and table cloths

dish towels and table cloths

This weeks Make It Work Monday is all about kitchen linens. I used cloth that I had around to make two dish towels and three table cloths.

dish cloths

The dish towels were a perfect weight and absorbency but slightly stained piece of fabric. I really wished I could make them for a gift because the flowers were so pretty. However, with the slight staining on the fabric, I couldn’t gift these. So, I made them into lovely towels for our family. We don’t get new ones very often so this was kind of fun and they sure do brighten my day when I pull them out.

three table cloths

I also used two big pieces of fabric for table cloths. I measured the blue checked cloth against our table and realized that it was big enough to make two table cloths. So, I cut it and hemmed the raw edges that would fray. It worked great and is the perfect weight for a table cloth. Since I didn’t really need two of the exact same table cloth, I gave one to my mother-in-law, who is just awesome. I loved being able to give her something just because that I knew she would like and get a lot of use from. The other one had some stains on it but is just such a bright cheerful green checked piece. It makes me smile because of the cheeriness of the color. It is a bit long for the table as we normally have it but I’ll just tuck the ends under and then when we need a cloth for the table with all of the leaves in, this one will work.

table cloth

So, three table cloths and two dish towels were made from fabric that was just sitting around. Useful items have now been made and they make me smile each time I get to use them. What have you repurposed, remade, or reused recently? I would love to know. Please leave a comment to let me know what you have done and if you have done a blog post about it, leave the link and I’ll check out your post.

At Home.

R is for…Reading

R is for Reading

Books, books, books. You will find them everywhere around our house. The normal bedtime question around our house is “Can I read in bed?” Just for the record: sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it is no. But, more often than not, it is yes.

You see, we try to live out a philosophy of “life is learning.” When the giggly girls are reading, they are learning. About relationships. How to spell. Grammar. Science. History. Understanding others. Understanding themselves. About the world. About our God, Father, Keeper, Protector.

You cannot read a book without getting some kind of learning out of it. Even a joke book. Yes, I am serious about that. Have you recently read a joke book? Joke books are next to impossible to read silently. When you read a funny joke, don’t you just have this huge desire to share it with someone and see if they laugh with you? See – even joke books help you become more confident of a public speaker and help you build your relationship with others.

All that to say – we don’t have to require reading in our schooling because the girls are always reading for fun. But, we do. We set an expectation of certain types of literature being read every month. They have to share that reading with someone, as well. They can share it by narration, a report, a picture, reading it aloud to someone else, or other ideas that they come up with on their own. Required reading allows us to help guide our girls to more challenging literature, as well as helping them each build their self-confidence and poise in various areas.

What does our required reading look like, you ask? Here it is. Feel free to click on the link below the picture to download your own copy. I do change the picture and title each month and we keep these in our files after they are completed.

 

2014 September Log picture

2014 September Log

 

Each month, we will have a reward for completing the required reading fully and on time. This will include an embroidered tag with an encouraging symbol or statement on it that they can keep on a key ring and an outing for a meal or treat. Last year, we used the Pizza Hut Book It! program. I don’t know if we will use that again or not. For one, I haven’t received those coupons yet. For another, it doesn’t fit into the meal plan that we are trying to maintain for one of the giggly girls. So, we’ll see. After all, I have one month to figure it out, right?!?

Do you have required reading in your classroom, homeschool, or as a supplement to what your child’s teacher is doing? I would love to know more about what that looks like for your family and what kinds of rewards you use. Meanwhile, I have some reading of my own to do. I am working on Don Quixote. Just for fun! I have never read it and it presents a great challenge. At Home.

Linking up with Benandme.com for the ABC Blogging series.

Ben and Me

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up

The theme for this month’s Poppins Book Nook virtual book club was “What Will I Be When I Grow Up.” This was a fun one for us to do. Between the planning and running of VBS and the start of schooling, we did not get much done in the way of activities. We did, however, do a whole lot of book reading and discussion.

Each of the girls got to ponder the question of what sounded like something they would enjoy doing when they grow up. We are taking the time now to emphasize that they need to enjoy doing whatever the work is they choose to do – whether it be a mom who puts her family first and doesn’t leave the home to go to a job or one who has a very important job in the community or one whose job seems small and unimportant but is not. If you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be doing it because then it will be a JOB. And, let’s face it, that word does not scream fun. And what you spend a large portion of your time doing should be FUN.

My Choices:

If you read the paragraph above, you probably understand why I chose these particular books.

  • If I Could Work by Terence Blacker and Chris Winn
  • What Am I? by Debbie MacKinnon and Anthea Sieveking
  • Lives of the Scientists: Experiments, Explosions (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt

moms choices

 

J’s choices:
J wants to be a police officer when she grows up. She has a great role model for that job. We are currently trying to schedule a tour of our local police department, though she has been in there before.

police

  • P is for Police by Dori Hillestad Butler (Please read this one through before hand. If you have the chance to review it with an officer, please do. The information is slightly dated and the information on some of it is incorrect, such as when a Miranda Warning is given.)
L’s choices:

L has so many things that she wants to do and we tell her often that it is okay because she is a long way off from having to choose. She wants to be a ballerina, an equestrian, a mom, and own a candy store.

ballerina equestrian

  • Safe Horse, Safe Rider: A Young Rider’s Guide to Responsible Horsekeeping by Jessie Haas
  • Horses by Gail Gibbons
  • My Ballet Book by Kate Castle

We watched a video that we found at the library that was made in Norway, I believe, about a riding school. That was very informative and lots of fun to watch. Unfortunately, I cannot find the title of it and we had to return it before I got a picture.  We also watched some ballet DVDs.

 

E’s choices:

From the time E understood the power of the written word, she has wanted to be a writer. When she was four, she proclaimed that she was going to be a “writer down, book worder.” She hasn’t really wavered from that and writes fairly often of her own choosing. She also has an interest in designing costumes, which is fairly new. We are hoping to try to create something from one of these books before we have to return it to the library.

writer costume designer

Please visit Enchanted Homeschooling Mom and the Poppins Book Nook to see what others have done this month.

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

 (clip art used in this design by: http://www.etsy.com/shop/melonheadzdoodles)

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Don’t forget that a FREE lapbook is offered at Enchanted Homeschool Mom. Visit her post introducing the theme “What Will I Be When I Grow Up” to download it.

A Review: UberSmart Math Facts

UberSmart

Math is not a favorite subject around here. I wish I could say it was. My husband really enjoys math and I enjoy playing around with numbers but… the girls do not seem to have any of that same fun with math. Part of that is missing out on the memorization of math facts so math is a time consuming, labor-intensive process. I was hopeful when we were chosen to review UberSmart Math Facts that we could turn that around a little bit.

UberSmart Math Facts is a software program created by UberSmart Software that you download to your computer after purchase. It teaches the math facts – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – using a different approach. Created by a dad who wanted to help his children memorize, not just practice, math facts, this program will keep track of exactly where your children are and how long it is taking them to answer each question. This allows you to track your child’s mastery of each set of facts, not just the completion of practice.

U using UberSmart

This is a great little software program that can help the entire family. Geared towards the grade levels of K – 6, where students tend to work the most on math facts, this program will work great for anyone needing to strengthen their math facts.

J, who is 5 and doing kindergarten level work, enjoys working with the dot cards. The dot cards are a beginning level practice of addition and subtraction facts. She could easily maneuver through the menu to find what she needs once she was shown what she was working on. She asked often to be able to work on the “dot math.” We let her. She is getting better at recognizing the sets of five dots and the numerals for each number.

dot card example

The other two giggly girls were expected to use this program for 10 minutes a day, most days of the week. We did have some time where that didn’t happen due to things like VBS. But, they have used the program a lot over the past few weeks. And, while they don’t like it a whole lot, they do it.

L is working on mastery of her addition facts. She gets frustrated easily and when that happens, there isn’t much she can do with this program.  This program is straight forward; there are no bells and whistles; it doesn’t entertain. So, once she gets back on track, she works hard and low-and-behold – she’ll master whatever fact set she is working on. The program works the student through one set of facts at a time. For example, L is currently working on addition of the 9’s. A tough set for sure! But, she is getting close and every time she gets mastery on another level, we hear a whoop and a holler and she’ll run to her dad to let him know she got another one.

mastery on menuE is working on mastery of her multiplication. This has been a challenge for a couple of years now. She does not enjoy numbers. At all. Give her a book or science or history and she’ll be a happy camper. So, slow and steady with E and math is best. This program is a constant force for her and she is making progress. She wants to get that Mastered! label on her table of contents. So, she keeps at it even when it is not easy or pleasant. Which we praise her for since it is the work ethic we desire for her to cultivate.

 

 

 

Another motivator for E: seeing all the greenmastery chart smiley faces on the mastery chart.

To find this, she will go to Report. Then she selects Mastery Chart and either addition/subtraction or multiplication/division and her name for student. The more of those green smileys she sees, the more she works.

 

 

 

testing on multiplication

Working in test mode. It shows the problem just completed, the problem being answered, and the problem that will come next. There is also a progress bar (in green) and a time bar (in red) across the bottom.

UberSmart has several different ways that the student can work. I showed you the dot cards earlier. There is also a learning mode. In this mode, the card is shown and then the answer is shown after a few minutes. There is a practice mode. This is an interesting one because it remembers how well the student answers each problem and redoes the ones the student struggles on or gets wrong. After the student is doing well on the practice mode, it suggests to the student that she is ready to attempt a mastery test. The student then uses the test mode. If the student gets all of the answers correct within the given time (you can set a per question time limit for mastery – my girls are at 4 seconds per question), the student has mastered and she moves on to the next set of facts. If not, the student should go back to the practice mode and it will show only the questions missed. I like this. It is a good way to encourage the student that she is making progress.

practicing 10 key entry

 

If your student needs to work on ten-key entry, there is a practice mode for this as well. It was a unique feature that surprised me. I think it will be a good feature for the girls in the future. They played with it a little bit and had some fun.

 

 

 

 

While the girls may not like this program very much, it has been included in our daily work. I like it. I think the various modes are encouraging. I haven’t seen amazing, fast progress but I do see that the girls are making steady tracks. And that spark of pride when one of the girls masters a set tells me that, while there will be grumbles, this is good.

There are a couple of things you should know before purchasing this program.

  • At this time, it is only available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.
  • There is not a Mac program available and there are no plans for it as of the date of this post, according to the UberSmart Software site.
  • This is downloadable software.
  • The purchase price is $24.95 and is for a family license. This allows you to put the program on as many computers as you have. Note, though, that the tracking does not transfer from one computer to another.

Please visit the TOS Review Crew to read more reviews on UberSmart Math Facts. Just click the banner below.

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Q is for… Quit

Q is for Quit

“Quit ye like men. Be strong.” I Corinthians 16:13

This is a verse the girls memorized last school year and it keeps coming back to me. This verse has been running through my head almost continuously for a few days now. I have been trying to determine what it is that I need to say about it. There is so much that could be said. I have been thinking about it because there is so much I need to quit. I think I will share three things, though.

1) Quit being like those around us who are not Christians.

Don’t be like those of this world who are only of this world. Be different. Be courageous. Be kind and loving. Be like the Father. Listen to different music. Watch different movies. Read different books.  Don’t go with the flow. Quit worrying. Be confident in the plans the Father has for you.

2) Quit being weak. Be strong.

This is not easy. Life pushes us to be less than our best and punishes us in various ways. We struggle under the weight of this life. But God is there, lifting us up. He is our strength. “You are my strength when I am weak. You are the treasure that I seek. You are my all in all.” I really like that song and, like this verse, it keeps coming back to me. We are often led to believe that we are not enough and that leads us to be weak. God tells us that we are enough, because HE is enough, and because of that, we are strong. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

3) Quit.

Quit saying later. Say yes to the creator of this world and the one who knows just what you need.

Quit saying quality makes up for quantity. “Quality time” is a misnomer in our world and is used too often to excuse us for not spending as much time as we should with our God, with our families, in His word, on our knees, helping others.

Quit listening to the wrong stuff. Listen for the Lord’s voice in all that is around you. His creation speaks to us. His word speaks to us. His voice is what we should be listening for.

Quit rushing around. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

 

My prayer for today is that you are able to quit the things that distract you from what God desires from you and be, in Him, all that He has planned for you.

“For I know the plans that I have for you…” Jeremiah 29:11

 

At Home.

 

 

Linking up with ABC Blogging at Benandme.com.

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A Review: Happy Kids Songs

Happy Kids Songs title 2

Singing and dancing happen often around here with three giggly girls and two parents who love music. This was a perfect addition to our house! We absolutely love these songs. We were given three of the albums to use (Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude, and Manners & Character), as well as a copy of Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills. The happy, cheerful music that is full of quality sounds is paired with lyrics that strengthen character without talking down to the girls. Happy Kids Songs makes for a happy mama, too!

Happy Kids Songs Review

Happy Kids Songs was created by Dr. Mac. He is a child psychologist who saw a need for music that engages children and gives them age-appropriate content. (If you know the PBS hit Jay Jay the Jet Plane then you know his music already.) His music bridges the gap from children’s songs (like Twinkle, Twinkle and ABCs) and the music that teens listen to that has a beat that is appealing to children but content that is not appropriate. Geared towards ages 3-8 but appropriate for a much wider audience, the music is engaging and exciting and the lyrics help the children gain the knowledge they need to maneuver through the rough spots of life – bullying, needing to tell the truth, a friend not wanting to play with you, feeling down on yourself, and more.

Friends & Sharing

Happy Kids Songs Review

This album has five songs in it that deal with different aspects of friendship. The first song on this album, Sailing on the Seven Cs, is one of the girls favorites. I would hear them singing it when they were playing in their rooms. This song deals with caring, consideration, commitment, communication, concern, curiosity, and cooperation. All great concepts the girls need to learn and work on. Sharing Friends is another of the girls favorites. It is a situation they can all relate to: you want to play with a friend but that friend is already playing with someone else and tells you they don’t want to play with you. It helps them see that there are a couple of choices, neither of which includes feeling sorry for yourself.  The words tell them that it’s okay for the friend to want to play with someone else and you can come back another day OR the friend chooses to ask the other person if they can all three play together and the friend says “yes.”

Happiness & Attitude

Happy Kids Songs ReviewThis album’s five songs all work on your own choices and how you feel and act. The all time favorite is on this album – Shake It Out And Dance. This one also gets sung all over the place and each of the girls has made up a dance for it. When the album gets played, this one gets repeated over and over and over. But, I am okay with that. They are getting good words into their heads. Most times, they are also getting exercise. This album also has Who Knows What’s A Kudo, which the girls really like. This songs talks to them about saying nice things about others, complimenting them whenever possible.

Manners & Character

Happy Kids Songs Review

This set of five songs works on honesty, saying please, accepting others little quirks, using the Golden Rule, and understanding that everyone has a different perspective on things. The girls liked these but the tunes didn’t stick with them as much as the others. I really like the purpose of these songs.

 

 

Happy Kids Songs Workbook

workbook activities

 Happy Kids Songs Review

 

 

The girls loved having the lyrics to the songs, E especially. She would sit and follow along with the song. We also had fun doing some of the activities from the workbook. The girls did some of the coloring sheets, the word finds, the drawing activities, and more. This was a fun addition to have.

How To Get Happy Kids Songs

These albums, as well as five more, are available only as a download. (You will be able to play them on your computer or transfer them to an mp3 player.) Just head over to the Happy Kids Songs website. There you will find Friends & Sharing (Set 1), Happiness & Attitude (Set 5), and Manners & Character (Set 6) for $4.95 each. You can also get a copy of the workbook for $12.95.

My Thoughts

These are a fun, valuable resource. As the girls get a bit older, they are wanting to explore more music and so much of what is out there is not good for them. These songs are fun, exciting, unique, and they provide lyrics that help the girls’ character develop stronger. I am really quite pleased with these and we have enjoyed having them to play. At Home.

Connect with Happy Kids Songs on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/happykidssongs
Twitter: @howsyourfam
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/4DrMacMusic
As always, if you want to read additional reviews, please click on the banner below to see the various Review Crew members reviews.

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Make It Work Monday – more skirts

MIWM skirts

The giggly girls love to wear skirts and they refuse to stop getting taller. I don’t know what is up with that! But, I do know what it means. Skirts that are constantly too short. Dresses that are too short. And not enough shorts in the house. Constantly.

So, today’s edition of Make It Work Monday is more skirts. We have been working on lengthening skirts yet again. I have two skirts that we added length to for E. She helped choose the fabric to go with them and she helped sew them. (I love the sewing lessons that go along with making something work better and be more useful.) She got a lesson in sewing on knits and how to choose fabrics to go with knit and stretchy fabrics. We also took a pair of leggings that had a huge hole in the knee and cut them off to be shorts to go under all those skirts and dresses that get worn. Because they were a knit/spandex combination, they did not need hemmed. So L, the middle giggly girl, got a quick lesson in fabrics.

white skirt  black skirt

pink shorts

Did you work on anything recently to Make It Work? I would love to have you share what you did in our comments section. If you have a blog post on it, feel free to leave the link and I’ll hop over there and check it out. At Home.

 

 

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