FIAR: The Rag Coat

Rag Coat FIAR

I loved the book The Rag Coat. We didn’t spend nearly the time with it that I wanted to. Things just worked out that way. The good part of that is we will be able to revisit it and do so much more with it than we did. I had planned it for the beginning of January, when it would somewhat fit the weather. With all that happened, we ended up stranded by weather for a bit and then At Home Dad did the teaching for about a week so this book ended up by the wayside. We did read it but we didn’t manage to get to many of the activities that I am going to share.

These are the plans that I had made for the book. Hopefully, you can get some use out of the plans. When we get back to the book, hopefully I will keep track and share what we end up doing with you.

As always, I had planned to use the Five In A Row guide for some of the activities.

Geography: We were going to place the icon circle at the Appalachian Mountains. We were going to talk about how the mountains are different in the eastern and western US, as well as a discussion about what makes mountains, how they are formed, what they are made of, and more.

Geography: We were going to work some more on map reading with a US map. I had planned to add a world map and work on finding mountain ranges from around the world. I also planned to pull out a topographical map to discuss elevation changes and see that in relation to the mountain ranges we identify. I was going to create a compass challenge, as well, to help the girls learn to use and navigate with a compass.

History/Culture: We had planned to study the culture of the Appalachian Mountains. The culture is quite different than what the girls have grown up around, especially when we dig back in history. We were going to take a look at the 1930 and what the Great Depression was like, what caused it, how it affected people in the US. We were planning to look at the various relationships shown in the Rag Coat and how those change and develop in the story. We were also going to speculate about how those relationships were affected by the culture in which they lived and how they might be different if we changed some of the variables in their lives.

History: Coal mining had a large impact on the Appalachian Mountains and that area of the country. We were going to study coal mining and what life was like in a coal mining town. We were going to study the jobs related to coal mining and what it did to family structures, communities, and friendships.

Art: We planned to take a deep look at quilting and sewing. Quilting is such an art form and we generally have a local quilt show in January, so we had planned to visit that. We also have some ladies at church that make a quilt for each of the graduating seniors so I had planned to ask one or more of them to discuss quilting, decision making, color scheme, fabric choices, etc. with the giggly girls. I had planned to have the girls make a 9 patch quilt of their own for one of their dolls. I had also planned to have the girls design a quilt on paper and then cut it into a puzzle.

Art: We were going to take a look at color palettes, especially warm vs. cool. The book shows a warm color palette so we were going to create a picture using chalk pastels in a warm color palette.

Art: We were going to look at viewpoint and size. Each of these has a huge impact on the art of quilting so we were going to visit an art museum that had quilts on display that were a pictures (waterfalls, houses, etc). We were going to use those to discuss the viewpoint and size choices the artist made.

Science: We planned to study coal. Its formation, uses, and chemical makeup were all on the books to study. We planned to study its extraction, as well.

Science: We had planned to study textiles and fabrics. We were going to look at cotton and wool. We have a friend who was going to let us see her shear a sheep but that didn’t work out. I have some wool from when I was younger and we were going to look at it under a microscope and study the fibers. We were going to study the process of making a fiber into a textile or fabric that can be used to create clothing with. We were going to take a look at the process of picking cotton and use a memory from my great-grandmother (I was hoping to be able to play the recording of her remembering her youth cotton-picking in Texas.). We were also planning to take a look at the cotton-gin and Eli Whitney.

Literature Connections: Other books I had around for us to look at and discuss included The Patchwork Quilt, Foxfire, Christy,  Ballet for Martha, The Keeping Quilt, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, The Quilt, and Mandie. These run the gamut of reading levels, including some chapter books for oldest.

Music: Listen to Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland. This piece of ballet music is beautiful and will capture the imagination of children. You could use it in conjunction with the book Ballet for Martha and YouTube has some videos of some of the early ballet to go with this piece. Other options for music would include a study of banjos and/or bluegrass music.

Music: There are many beautiful folk songs that originated in the Appalachians, such as “Cumberland Gap,”  “Ida Red,” “Shady Grove,” and “Paw Paw Patch.” There are lots and lots of songs that have Appalachian roots and a large number of them having singing games to go along with them.

Music/Biography: Jean Ritchie is one of the foremost authorities on authentic Appalachian music. She has a beautiful voice and is a talented instrument player. Studying the lap dulcimer and Jean Ritchie would provide a rich, unique study. While writing this, I saw that Jean Ritchie passed away at the beginning of June. Such an amazing person will be missed.


That is the gist of what was planned. Unfortunately, very little of it got done so I am looking forward to tackling it again at some point. There is a lot of rich learning to be done when you dig into books about Appalachia.

At Home.



Summertime and the eating is good!

green-chile-corn-recipeDo you love summertime foods? If you remember a couple of weeks ago, the middle gigglygirl, L, guest posted over at Farm Fresh Adventures with her lemonade recipe. This is part of a series that Lisa is doing on her blog, titled Fresh From the Kitchen. I am looking forward to all the posts that she will be sharing this summer. Last week, I shared one of my favorite summertime foods – Green-chili Corn. Well, really, I enjoy it all year long but summertime fresh corn adds a yummy-ness to it that frozen corn just doesn’t have. So head over to Farm Fresh Adventures and get the recipe. Then, make the simple dish and sit back and enjoy!

At Home.

Heaven Holds All To Me

Heaven holds all to meWhen I look around this world in which we live, I have a choice. I can see all that is happening and I can worry, fear, predict terrible things, and in general be upset. Or, I can choose the better way. I can see those who need the Lord and pray for them, try to reach out. I can see the Lord’s hand at work in lives around me and I can praise God for that work. I can see hope and a chance to strengthen my faith and encourage others to make theirs stronger, too. This is my choice.

I know that God sits on his throne and he places people where he desires them to be. Sometimes, it is because the world is choosing to follow him. Sometimes, it is because they are not. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year. I cannot fathom the world in which my girls will live. If it continues along the sinful path it is on now, I don’t want to know now. I would be too scared.

So, today, I am saying God is in charge and I trust in Him. I am focusing on joy this year and the chorus here is perfect: Joy without measure will be my treasure. I am going to a better place when I leave this earth and it will be filled with joy. This earth holds nothing for me that is worth giving up eternity for so I will hold fast to God’s word. And I will look for those that are singing me to heaven when I leave here. That is the picture that this hymn brings to mind for me and one of the reasons I like it so much. Heaven being opened with millions singing me home.

Heaven Holds All To Me (Earth Holds No Treasures)
words and music by Tillit S. Teddlie (1885-1987)

Earth holds no treasures but perish with using,
However precious they be;
Yet there’s a country to which I am going:
Heaven holds all to me.

Heaven holds all to me, to me,
Brighter its glory will be;
Joy without measure will be my treasure:
Heaven holds all to me.

Out on the hills of that wonderful country,
Happy contented and free,
Loved ones are waiting and watching my coming:
Heaven holds all to me.


Why should I long for the world with its sorrows,
When in that home o’er the sea,
Millions are singing the wonderful story?
Heaven holds all to me.


By the way, I enjoy listening to a cappella music and while I was writing this post, I was listening to this hymn and others on Great Songs Chapel, a site provided by Oklahoma Christian Univeristy. These are heartfelt recordings of real people singing joyfully to our God. And it make my heart sing with joy.

At Home.


Ways to Encourage Helping

Task cards to encourage helpingI have struggled with “chores.” I hate the word. Truly. Using it makes me feel like a mean old geezer. I would much rather encourage my children to see what needs to be done and learn to do it cheerfully. Towards that end, I have been scouring the internet, friends, Pinterest, and my own creativity, as well as that of the girls, to come up with something that might work.

So here is what we are going to be trying out. There are 30 different cards, each with a different task on it. I printed them and they will get laminated as soon as we can get to Mardel’s to do so. The cards will go in a pocket on a chart we keep on the pantry door in our kitchen. There are two pockets there. One is for the “need to do” cards. This is where all of the cards will start out.

task cards and pockets

Each child, as well as myself, will strive to complete a minimum of two tasks each day. Any card in the “need to do” pocket is up for grabs so each person can choose something that they want to do or they saw that needed done. Once they have completed the task, they will use a dry erase marker to put their initial on it and place it in the “I helped!” pocket.

If it is a task that needs done daily, I will make sure they get done by the end of the day and then put them back in the “need to do” pocket. If it is something that needs done once a month, I’ll leave it in the “I helped!” pocket until the beginning of the next month. An example of this is cleaning the ceiling fans. Otherwise, these are weekly tasks. Or at least that is the goal.

task cards on chart

Hopefully, this will make a difference in the amount of helping that gets done without my pleading or even asking. I am hoping this will help them all become more aware of all that needs done in our home. I have included a copy of the cards that I made for this. I also left a link to the TPT store of the lady who was gracious enough to allow us free access to her frame set if you want to print your own with more personalized tasks. If you use our idea in a blog post, please link back here but do feel free to use this idea. Hopefully it will work for you, too.

chore chart labels

I don’t know how this will work out but I am hopeful. The girls all had input on this system so perhaps with all of our brains working together we have come up with a system that will work for all of us. I’ll let you know after we’ve worked with it for a bit.

At Home.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch – a TOS review

a review of Tales from the Circle C RanchI couldn’t put it down. Truly. So, after I stopped reading the first story to the girls out loud, I took the book and read it to the end by myself. Without them. Even though it was their read aloud. Susan K. Marlow’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch was THAT enjoyable. And surprising. And fun. This book was certainly a fun review, along with the Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook that I will share more about later.

We were first exposed to Circle C Adventures when we were reviewing Susan K. Marlow’s book Thick as Thieves. We fell in love with the main character Andrea Carter, as well as her family, friends, and horses. Circle C Adventures has us wanting more and more. This book brought us a lot more, introducing us to a young Andrea, almost 10 years prior to the other book.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch

Andi, the affectionate nickname Andrea’s friends and family use for her, is a precocious child. She is a rich character who has such a zest for life that you root for her even when you know something is about to go wrong. Andi gets herself into, and out of, any number of scrapes and escapades. The whole time you are reading, there is such a huge smile on your face as you quickly read to find out what is going to happen next.

Each time we came to the end of one of the short stories, begging and pleading occurred. The girls never wanted to stop reading. Tales from the Circle C Ranch is a series of 11 short stories about Andi and her adventures in 1800s California. Because the setting is so different from our own lives, we have learned a lot about other times and places. From what it was like to go cut your own Christmas tree (we have a fake one because of allergies) to courting during the 1800s, from a one-room schoolhouse to the Washington Territory there is so much to learn as we follow Andi on her adventures.

Andrea began her adventures on the Circle C Ranch and this set of short stories bridges the gaps between some of the full length books. Each story has a time statement that helps you place it within the books and their action so that if you have read the books, you know where these adventures occur. We have not read the other books yet and we found it wasn’t necessary to know the other stories for these to be full of life and fun and joy. It might have added something to each story if we had read what had come before or after but it didn’t take anything away and we thoroughly enjoyed each and every short story.

lapbook cover

The setting and background of these adventures really lend themselves to expanded learning, as well. We were able to do this easily with the use of the Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook. All three of the giggly girls have created a lapbook about the life and times in which Andi lived. The lapbook is an easy, thorough way to extend the learning from Tales from the Circle C Ranch.

book and lapbooks in progress

To use the lapbook, I downloaded it and saved it. Then I printed off the number of copies of each of the mini books and templates we needed. I did not print each activity for each of the girls. E, age 11, did get to do all of the mini books and templates. L, age 9, did all of them, as well. J, age 6, did not do all of them. She is an emergent writer so I limited the amount of writing she would need to do in the lapbook creation. We did the reading to go along with each mini book from the Kindle and avoided printing those pages. We completed each of the mini books and glued them to construction paper. When we were finished, we bound the edges of the construction paper with duct tape and ribbon ties. Each girl had her own booklet about Andi and life in the 1800s.

working on a lapbook

We all highly recommend Ms. Marlow’s book Tales from the Circle C Ranch and the Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook really added a lot to our learning experience. It isn’t a necessary part to get a lot out of the book but I think it is very much worth the time and effort.

At Home.


Connect with Susan K Marlow and find out more about Circle C Adventures through Facebook and Twitter.

To see what others on the Review Crew thought about Tales from the Circle C Ranch, please visit the Crew website by clicking below.

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SmartKidz Media – a TOS review

SmartKidz media reviewI won’t lie to you – books are my favorite way to learn. But, there is little that can compare to video for giving you a true look at what places and animals are really like. That is why we were excited to get to review SmartKidz Media.

We have excitedly been exploring the library of available media we were given access to at SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. There are a lot of options and we have been complementing our studies in many ways.


The SmartKidz Media Library has a wide variety of learning materials available through their subscription. The menu includes:

  • World of Discovery
  • Music and Fine Arts
  • Mighty Ebook Collection
  • Baby Signs Program
  • My Animal Family
  • Quick Find Study Guides
  • Learning Special Needs
  • Living Skills Program
  • Ready Set Sing
  • Fun Zone

I have explored in each of these areas and have used most of them with the girls in one way or another.

SmartKidz menu bar

The World of Discovery we have used quite a lot. We watched the World Wide Discovery video on China and the girls really loved seeing what parts of China were like. We viewed Scotland and Germany to see what they would show of the castles from the Medieval period, which we were studying. It makes the world come alive to see, in moving video, what an area looks like and hear the people talk. The experience comes as close as possible to being there. They enjoyed these so much that they asked to watch a number of others from the Travel and Discovery section of World of Discovery.

While we were working on an art project one day, we used videos from Music and Fine Arts. What we watched pairs the music of a well-known composer such as Mozart or Dvorak with the artwork of a well-known artist such as Matisse and Van Gogh. These are less than 10 minutes each but the exposure to music and art is huge! I really liked these and the girls were caught discussing the elements of some of the art work. Just don’t tell them I noticed.

From discovering cultures on the other side of the globe to listening to the music they create to learning about animals that we may never see otherwise, the World of Discovery section is huge and contains a lot.

new words from books

I think J’s favorite section was the Mighty Ebooks. She would ask to do school by getting to watch and interact with some of the videos and ebooks. Her favorite was the “Woodpecker Knockin’ ” and “Metamorphosis.” They have added a bunch of new ones, as well, that she hasn’t explored yet, including some flash animated Bible stories and children’s songs. She’ll love those!

In My Animal Family, there are sets of related videos and songs to help teach about animals. All three giggly girls enjoyed these. We learned about lions, elephants, and dolphins. There are a couple more animals that we haven’t explored yet – the polar bear and the chimpanzee. Each video in the set is fairly short at around 10 minutes, so we were able to watch all the videos related to an animal all in one sitting.

Don’t let the Learning Special Needs title discourage you from looking in that category. We have viewed some of these videos because they are interesting and they teach concepts that little miss J needed to learn. Money is the one that pops to mind first. There is a book to listen to and watch. In the interactive sections, you can print off a lesson plan, vocabulary, word web activity, and more. There are a variety of topics that have these options to supplement many different learning settings and units.

bones song and video

This is an online subscription so you will need to check the website for price information. I also suggest investigating the streaming options available to you for access once you have an account. We were able to view on our laptop and desktop computers, even with our laptop being a much older model. We also have a Chromecast stick and were able to “cast” the videos to our television for viewing. I was unable to access it through my phone and my Kindle so definitely check ahead of time to make sure the device you plan on using will access it correctly.

We used this website in a number of different ways. We supplemented units or studies with a corresponding video. We used it for fun and just because. We used it to teach concepts or facts. There are so many ways in which to utilize the media available on this site. The amount of information is almost overwhelming but it has been a lot of fun, too. We’ll be taking advantage of this throughout the coming months. If you enjoy using video and other media to complement your studies, I suggest you take a look at SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. It might just fit the bill for your family.

At Home.

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Click the banner below to read about what others on the Review Crew thought about SmartKidz Media.

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Be With Me, Lord

1. Be with me, Lord – I cannot live without Thee.
I dare not try to take one step alone.
I cannot bear the loads of life unaided.
I need Thy strength to lean myself upon.

2. Be with me, Lord, and then if dangers threaten,
If storms of trial burst above my head,
If lashing seas leap everywhere about me,
They cannot harm, or make my heart afraid.

3. Be with me, Lord! No other gift or blessing
Thou couldst bestow could with this one compare –
A constant sense of Thy abiding presence,
Where’re I am, to feel that Thou art near.

4. Be with me, Lord, when loneliness o’ertakes me.
When I must weep amid the fires of pain,
And when shall come the hour of my departure,
For worlds unknown, O Lord, be with me then.

Be With Me Lord

Throughout the Bible, God reminds us that he is always with me. These are some of the most comforting passages that there are. This hymn focuses on God being with me, recognizing the power that God’s presence gives – the power to save, the power to calm, the power to strengthen, the power to walk through the next minute or hour or day or whatever is in front of me. Just a few of the passages that talk of God being with me:

  • And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.      Matthew 28:20

  • Be not afraid of him, saith the Lord; for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you.      Jeremiah 42:11

  • Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord.      Haggai 1:13

  • …and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts.      Haggai 2:4

When I am afraid, when I am lonely, when I am worried – each of these are times I should seek the Lord and remember that He is right there beside me, guiding me through the unknown. Stronger than anything this world can throw at me. His presence will calm, settle, and help me.

A constant sense of thy abiding presence,
Where’re I am, to feel that Thou art near.

Thank you, Lord, for always being near me.

At Home.




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