When the Wild West Was Changing

Wild West collage

We took a fun field trip this month that led us to our plans for our post on this month’s theme for the Poppins Book Nook – Wild West.

My first thought when I think of the Wild West contains saloons and brawls, horses and spurs. Well, we did study that aspect of it but we came at it from a different angle. We looked at the tail end of the Wild West, as it was becoming less wild and more settled, as the railroad was coming through, bringing change and enterprise and more permanence.

Wild West book

We read a book about life in a Wild West town called, not surprisingly, You Wouldn’t Want to Live in a Wild West Town! by Peter Hicks. It was quite an eye-opener for the girls because they haven’t ever really experienced a whole lot of lawlessness. It was a perfect fit for this month because while it described the wild west perfectly, it fit in with what we were exploring: the change of the west from

lawlessness and fending for yourself to a more civilized area that was becoming populated, with trains bringing material goods and foods to towns and no longer having to rely solely upon yourself or the kindness of strangers to help supply your needs.

Wild West books



We also had these other books for the girls to read through and explore. They enjoy having a variety of materials available to peruse and/or devour as the mood hits them. (Sorry for the blurry picture; I didn’t realize it was blurry until I had already returned it to the library.)




Wild West trains

Our field experience was a trip to ride a steam train (now converted to a diesel engine) and experience what riding the countryside might have been like 150 years ago. The engine was loud, the clickety-clack was rhythmic, and the whistle – well, I am just glad we weren’t any closer or our eardrums might have  paid the price. We saw how a turntable is used to turn the train around; well, it really only turns the engine but the train can then go the other direction. We were able to learn a lot about steam engines propelling trains through the countryside.


Wild West train worksheets


We followed that with some lessons about trains, including train safety and how to draw an engine. Those lessons were given to us at the train station but I found them online at http://oli.org/. The girls drew an engine. We did a couple of finger plays. They wrote about their experiences.





Wild West Pinwheels


We also did an experiment (partly for learning about steam engines and partly for FIAR with Mike Mulligan) that helped the girls understand how water was converted to steam which was then converted to energy which moved the parts of the engine and thus the train or steam shovel. We made a small pinwheel and held it over the spout of a tea kettle that was boiling and whistling. It turned the pinwheel. It was a very clear example of how steam can become energy.




We also discovered Charlie Brown and the American History series that was created with the Peanuts characters. We watched the video This Is American, Charlie Brown: The Building of the Transcontinental Railroad on YouTube. It covered the railroads meeting in Utah, the driving of the golden stake, and how the railroads coming through really changed the landscape and the way of life. The Wild West towns were talked about as the sprang up and then died down as the railroad moved through. The role that immigrants played in the building of the railroad was also covered. We enjoy the Peanuts gang and so, after watching the one we needed to for this unit, they chose at least two others to watch, just because. **As of the date of this post, almost all of the educational cartoons featuring the Peanuts gang had been removed from YouTube, including the one we watched. Hopefully, they can be found elsewhere. They were really very good!**

All in all, this was a fun month for the Poppins Book Nook. It didn’t end up anything like I had planned but I think a whole lot more learning went on because of that. I am thankful for the way things work our when we are open to what comes our way. Did you do anything for the Poppins Book Nook Wild West theme this month? Please share anything you did or things that you think might be fun to do in the comments section.

At Home.
Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

Don’t forget to visit the Poppins Book Nook at Enchanted Homeschooling Mom to download your copy of the free lapbook to go along with this month’s theme and to see what they did. Also, go visit all the other bloggers who participated this month.

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

Clip Art by Melon Headz https://www.etsy.com/shop/melonheadzdoodles

V is for …

V is for

If you have ever tried to write something and gotten stuck, nothing coming out in your brain processes, then you know where I have been on this week’s word. I have struggled with a V word since I finished last week’s letter post. I knew there were tons of fantastic V words out there but just couldn’t come up with one that would help me accomplish writing this week. So, I went to my friends and they came through brilliantly. Not only did I get some V words and a post worked out, I got some truly needed smiles and felt a huge amount of support. I needed it tonight.

So, the question is now – what V word did I choose? Well…


It was my original one but I’ll let you in on why I am finally able to write on it. Because completing this post is going to feel like a victory and I won’t have gotten there alone.

Sometimes, we feel like we have to do it all. And, we feel like we have to do it by ourselves. I guess I was kind of stuck there for this post. I just wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t get it right. Started and erased. Started and erased. Started and erased. Ever do anything like that? Start and stop and start and stop and just never get anywhere with whatever it is?

I didn’t think about the resources available to me, people who WANT to help me when I need it and are WILLING to do so. How often do we think we are doing something on our own when, really, there are others who are helping us along? Tonight I was reminded that victory does not come to you when you do something completely by yourself. Someone else was involved.

Tonight, my friends were involved, supporting me with a wonderful list of words. If you finish a running race, it is because of your hard work and the support of your family, friends, trainer, or whoever you needed to get there. If you get a major project finished, your victory was probably helped along by others on your team or in your office.

Victory is seldom accomplished without help from others. Tonight is no exception. Thank you for your help.

And, now, I am sure you are all wondering just what the words were that were brainstormed for me. Here’s your list:

  • Victory
  • vices
  • voice
  • vote
  • view
  • vanity
  • vase
  • vacant
  • Vermillion
  • Value 
  • valuable
  • Volume
  • valentine
  • vacuum
  • violet
  • velvet
  • vixen (the fox kind)
  • veteran
  • vain
  • ventriloquist
  • veterinarian
  • violin
  • vaccine
  • violet
  • vanquish
  • vibe
  • vibrant
  • vibrate
  • viper
  • Viking
  • verb
  • vitriolic
  • venue
  • Velma
  • voracious
  • volatile

And then we have the sentences:

  • Violet velociraptors voiced violent verbs ventriloquistly. (I know the last ones not a real word, but it was off the top of my head.)
  • Don’t forget about vagrant volleyball villagers whose Volkswagen violated violently.

Victory is sweet when it is a shared victory. At Home.


Linking up with ABC Blogging at Benandme.com.

Ben and Me



Princess Pudding

Princess Pudding

I told you I would share the recipe for Princess Pudding so here it is. It came from the book Princess Slumber Party, copyright 2003 by Top That! Publishing. This is a pretty pink fluff dessert. It is simple and easy. A very good dessert for hot summertime (or fall, depending on what you call September where you live).

1 package of strawberry jello mix

1/2 C boiling water

1 8 oz. container of whipped dessert topping

1/2 – 1 lb strawberries, washed, tops removed and sliced

(The original recipe calls for ladyfingers or some angel food cake but we left them out and it was a lovely dessert.)

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the jello with the boiling water. After the jello is dissolved, add the whipped topping. Stir until it is all mixed up well. Add the sliced strawberries and mix. Transfer it all to a pretty bowl. If you want to make it fancier, add some sliced strawberries to the top for decoration. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Serve chilled.

Princess Pudding in the making

J did all of the measuring and stirring. She knew how to cut the tops off of strawberries but she got to use the fun little slicer made by Pampered Chef. She is generous and allowed her sisters to use it too, which made them all happy. A new skill in the kitchen = happiness!

The girls really liked this dessert. In fact, I think they ate it all up except for the part I made them leave for their dad, who was at work the evening J made this. This dessert was a big part of the success of the Princess Slumber Party. You can read more about that party in the post U is for Unbelievably Sweet. All-in-all, it was a good party. At Home.

U is for… Unbelievably Sweet Princess Slumber Party

U unbelievably sweet

About a year ago, at the local library book sale, J found a cute little book on how to host a Princess Slumber Party. She has asked a number of times to do this but, in typical 5 year old fashion, doesn’t ask until it is time for bed. Well, after months of telling her she has to ask earlier in the day, she did! It was “unbelievably sweet” when she came to me, excited and breathless, knowing she had thought about it early enough that I just might say “yes!”

So, this “unbelievably sweet” girl got to host her princess slumber party. As part of school that day, we worked on how to plan and execute a party as the hostess. Using the book, she showed me what she was interested in including at the party. We talked about the practicality of some of the things – sending an invitation to a friend in the metroplex 2 hours away – and made plans for what would work. She selected some activities first (sisters sleeping on her floor, movie with dinner, stories in bed) and then we planned the food.

J chose a simple dinner, for which I am thankful. So we had turkey hot dogs, corn, and peas for dinner. She made a fancy drink to go with dinner though – fruit fizzies. This consists of a scoop of ice cream drizzled with strawberry syrup and lemonade poured over the top. We had made the lemonade earlier, which was fun for her because L usually makes lemonade.

U prepping

Now dessert – this is where the “fun” came in and what J was really planning for the whole time. She made Princess Pudding (I’ll share the recipe, which is also “unbelievably sweet”!) and got the makings for microwave s’mores. My kind of dessert! She carefully made up each dessert plate and the girls chowed down on sugar and sweet. How delicious it was!

After the movie and dessert were both finished, the girls hopped to getting ready for bed and headed into the bedroom for the slumber part of the party. We made a couple of palettes on the floor and they hit the hay. They crawled into their beds and chatted and giggled. After some chatting and giggling, which you have to have with a slumber party, they all fell asleep. Peacefully.

I am thankful tonight, reflecting on this party. I am thankful that we are in a situation where we can do spur of the moment things like this. I am thankful that I can say “yes” to the type of learning that this allowed J – planning, hostessing, shopping, serving, cooking. I am thankful for the bonding and relationships that activities like this encourage. I am thankful for my “unbelievably sweet girls”. I am thankful. At Home.


Linking up with ABC Blogging at Benandme.com.

Ben and Me


A Review: My Student Logbook

MSL Title

Something we worked on last year was a way for the giggly girls to know where we were in the day and how much more we needed to do. We created a flip chart that worked well but when the Review Crew offered the opportunity to use My Student Logbook, I was more than happy to help out. It looked like it would be perfect for E and we have not been disappointed.

My Student Logbook was created by a homeschool family who was searching for accountability, record keeping ease, and just general help. I don’t know about you but I certainly need all those things and My Student Logbook is helping!

I chose our oldest to review this product and it has been successful. She chose the ocean theme, one of several different options in the printed version, though honestly, she keeps it flipped open most of the time and doesn’t even seen the pretty cover. The pretty front page is covered by a clear plastic sheet and the back has a thick plastic page as well. It is spiral bound.

My Student Logbook Review

My Student Logbook has a wonderful, informative video on their site that will help you learn more about their products and how to use them. Their set-up video is so helpful that, having watched it, putting together the logbook was easy.  To set it up, E and I worked together. We talked about what all needed to be accomplished each week. Then we listed them, beginning with Bible at the top of the list because I didn’t want that missed or forgotten during a busy day. We included laundry and chores in this list, as well, since these are things that I want E to become more self-directed in completing.

After we had listed all of the subjects and activities, we went through the time column and added out own marks. If there was a daily amount of time that needed to be spent, that was written in there. If there were a certain number of days that the subject needed to be covered, we wrote it in this column as well. The other thing we added to this column was a mark that indicated if it was an independent subject or a family subject. We added this because the family subjects E cannot do anything to move along but if she is finished with something and waiting on use for a family subjects, she can look at her independent activities and find something to do. (As a side note: This list is super easy to change throughout the year as the needs, curriculum, or other activities of your student change. Another bonus!)

My Student Logbook inside

E has seemed to enjoy having this guidance for her days. She pulls it out first thing each day after getting her school box out. She looks at what she needs to do, asks if we are getting ready to start a family subject, and if not, picks something to work on. I have been so pleased with the incentive the check marks have been for her. She feels more prepared, knowing what she needs to do. She also feels more confident, accomplishing things on her own and knowing that she is meeting expectations.

There are some additional pages at the back that we are just beginning to explore. These additional pages include:

  • All About Me
  • Prayers and Goals
  • Bible Verses Memorized
  • Books Read
  • Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, Activities
  • Test Records
  • Year Highlights: My Favorite Memories from this Year

This logbook is designed for student use and is not a planner for the parent/teacher. It is appropriate for ages 2nd grade and up. To get your own My Student Logbook, visit http://mystudentlogbook.com/shop/. The printed version is $15.00. The downloadable version is $10 – $20, depending on the options you choose.

You can connect with My Student Logbook on social media at:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MyStudentLogbook

You Tube — https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMxzpy91vov8a8nDpyp2ihQ

This has been a wonderful experience for us. This is definitely a “keeper!” At Home.


Visit the Review Crew blog to see more review and how other families used My Student Logbook.

Crew Disclaimer

Make It Work Monday: doll capes

capes title

I am a saver. I save WAY too many things in case I might need them later. I am working on that particular issue and doing better. Sometimes, though, that saving tendency comes in helpful. To make capes, for example.

E and J wanted to make capes for their dolls. We didn’t want to get the sewing machine out and J is a bit too new to sewing to work with doll sized clothes on the sewing machine. (If you haven’t ever done that, it takes some serious finesse!) So, we pulled out the bag of felt scraps.

Felt is excellent for this type of activity. It doesn’t unravel so it doesn’t have to be hemmed. You can hem it but you don’t have to. It is fairly easy to cut, especially if you have sharp scissors. It is easy to hand sew on. All good reasons to have this project be done with felt.

capes 3

So, the girls both picked a pretty dark blue felt to create their capes out of. To decide how wide the fabric needed to be cut, they wrapped the cape around their doll and decided how full the cape should be. This determined the short edge of the rectangle. Then, they each decided how long they wanted their capes to be. This determined the length of the long edge of the rectangle. We cut a rectangle out of felt the length they wanted. We then folded it in half lengthwise. We cut the bottom edge (short one) in a quarter-circle. We also cut the other short edge in a quarter-circle but only off of one corner. The cape J chose to make follows a slightly different bottom curve because she was designing it based on an existing piece of doll clothes and she wanted it to have a scalloped bottom edge. It was a bit trickier to cut so after, she cut the cape a bit longer than she wanted following the instructions here, I cut a scalloped edge on it for her.

capes instructions

After getting the felt cut to the right length and curves for each doll, the girls cut and sewed on small pieces of Velcro at the neckline. After teaching them how to thread needles (or reminding, in E’s case) and tying knots in the end of the thread, they sewed it on.

capes 4After they got the Velcro sewed down tight (it needs to be tight because it will take a lot of use from little hands), they rummaged through the trim bag that I have and picked some things to trim their capes with. Hand sewing trim takes different techniques depending on what kind of trim you are working with so each girl got a couple of different kinds of instruction. Then they went to work sewing down the trim.

capesAfter a short while, their capes were finished and ready to be modeled by the dolls. So, here are the finished capes.

capes 6 capes 5

And here are the dolls modeling the new fashions.
capes J finished capes E finished

Another fun sewing lesson, making use of things we already had around the house. What have you done recently to make something work? Please share your activities in the comments section and if you have a blog post or other link to pictures of it, please share that too. I’d love to visit your site to see what you have done! At Home.

Talking about Mammoths, part 2

mammoths part 2

We did a few things relating to the mammoths this week. (See the post on our field trip.) But, I was not in a terribly creative mood, I guess, because I had some real trouble thinking up some ideas. So, after we had used the files from the Waco Mammoth Site, I went with a bit broader category: fossils.

The Waco Mammoth Site has a lot of educational printables for various age groups. I went through and picked out a few for each of the girls that I felt would appropriately challenge or review materials. Here are the ones the girls did.

mammoth L mammoths E mammoths J


On E and L’s scientific name worksheet, it had them create their own animal using scientific names and draw it. After they had done that, I had them brainstorm ideas about what happened to their animal and more specific details about their animal. They had to come up with a lot of words about their animals. Once we had a white board full, each girl was asked to create a story or a poem or a written account of their animal. I don’t have copies of those finished products but the girls enjoyed that writing assignment.

On another day, we explored fossils. We got down all of the fossils that we have tucked away. E and L got down on the floor (so that dropped fossils would be less likely to break and the floor would be less likely to be damaged) and touched, examined, talked about, felt, and explored the fossils we have. We have various real fossils and then we have a few that were made by pressing a shell or other natural object into plaster of paris or air dry clay. The girls spent probably 45 minutes discussing and talking about all of the fossils.

mammoths shark teeth mammoths fossils

After their chatter began dying down, I handed them a worksheet I had created and asked them to each choose one fossil to complete the worksheet on. This included a measuring activity in both inches and centimeters. There was a box to describe, factually, what the fossil was like. They were encouraged to describe it with as many of their senses as they could, as well as anything specific they could observe about it. There was place for them to draw their fossil. One box had them describing where their fossil might have been found. And a final box had them describing what the fossil might be from and why. They were also asked to color-code their page: blue for facts and yellow for opinion/theory/hypothesis.

mammoths fossil sheet

It surprised me that the girls were excited to complete these. E actually asked to complete two of these, so I let her. They also choose to sit down together and share their findings.

mammoths sharing

After these were completed, we got out our posters on poetry styles. We reviewed poetry styles, including limericks, lyrical poems, cinquain, and more. They each chose one style of poetry to use and wrote a poem about their fossil. L’s favorite style is always lyrical; she loves rhymes and descriptive phrases and long, flowy sentences. E’s favorite style is almost always cinquain. Here is their poetry.

mammoths E poems mammoths L poem
I am linking below to the information page the girls filled out. You are welcome to use this and share it but please link back to this post when you are sharing it.

Fossil worksheet

Our mammoth and fossil study has been fun. I have a couple of other ideas that I would like to do but we’ll see if they happen or not! Please share with me if you study mammoths or fossils or something related. I’d love to know what you do. At Home.



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