E – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

E

On to letter E. These were not too hard. We have several books that begin with the letter E on our shelves and the girls just jumped with a couple of these titles. I grabbed another one that I think is really good, too.

Endless Steppe

Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig

Esther and her family are forced from their home in June 1941. They are removed from their homeland of Poland to live in the frozen steppe of Siberia. The hard life they are to endure is far removed from the life they are forced from, all because they are “enemies of the government.” After their arrest by the government of Russia and their move to Siberia, the family survives through sheer determination and willpower.

This book reminds us that the horrors of WWII were not just in western Europe but also in many other places around the world. In this case, we are able to read the story of a young girl from Poland and the life she has to live in hardship due to Russia.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted  – Gail Carson Levine

At her birth, Ella of Frell is given an awful gift – the gift of obedience. Perhaps the fairy was well meaning but it made life difficult for Ella. She must do whatever anyone tells her. For strong-willed Ella, this is terrible but she is determined to fight against that fate. She WILL break free from this curse/gift. Amidst the stepsisters, fairy godmothers, ogres, princes, and more, this is a fun story that is worth a read.

And, after you have read it, catch the movie with actress Anne Hatheway. It is super fun. We enjoy watching the movie as family. If you have a youngster, there is one scene where she is breaking free from the curse that could possibly be scary.

Elsie's Endless Wait

Elsie Dinsmore series – Martha Finley

In book 1, Elsie’s Endless Wait, Elsie is a young girl who is being raised by her well-off grandfather because her father is away and her mother has died. She loves her governess Miss Rose but by the others is often left out, ignored, or mistreated. Young Miss Elsie has been taught to treasure her Bible and to trust God above everything else. This is what sustains her during her wait and the trying times and questions that assault her.

The series is about Elsie’s life growing up and the faith that she has and relies on. It was instantly popular when it was first written by Martha Finley over 100 years ago.

Miss E has really enjoyed this series. There are some newer rewrites that are not as good as the originals, though they are based on them. I read the first rewrite aloud and wasn’t crazy about it. Miss E, though, has checked out as many as she can find from the library.

Enna Burning

Enna Burning (book 2 of a series) – Shannon Hale

This is not one I know but the girls have enjoyed it. I will state that they read so much that I cannot keep up with all of their reading and so we trust them to let us know if there is something we need to discuss in the books. I don’t know about this one but the girls definitely recommend it.

At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

 

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God’s Law – ways

God's Law WAYS

When I went through Psalm 119, I wrote down each of the words that referenced God’s laws in some way or another on notecards and then noted the verses that went with each word. I ended up with 11 cards: 8 are words specifically about God’s law, 2 are references that I haven’t fully decided upon yet (they fit but yet they don’t in the NIV), and 1 is a note on the verses that don’t mention God’s law.

I am choosing to start with the word WAYS. In the NIV, this word only appears twice, in verses 3 and 15.

Verse 3: They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Verse 15: I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.

Look up the definition of the word WAYS. You’ll probably find two options. 1) a method, style, or manner of doing something; and 2) a road, track, path, or street for traveling along. There were a couple of others that I found in different places by doing a search on the internet. But let’s look at these two.

Verse 3 seems to be using the 2nd of these literal definitions, but in regard to what God wants, the laws he wants followed. So, the Psalmist will walk in the WAYS that God directs him. How is he directed? That is really clear in the reading of the surrounding verses. God directs the ways to walk through his laws. When walking in his WAYS, we have a clear path marked out by which our travel is easier. When we follow that path, his WAYS, we can see where we are going and we have an easier time of it.

a method, style, or manner of doing something

When you have a way of doing something, you have a particular method which you desire to have followed. Maybe it is a set order of steps. Maybe it is specific materials. Maybe it is an expectation of being like you in how you handle something. In any regard, you have an expectation that things will be done specifically.

In verse 15, the Psalmist is saying that he is considering, thinking about, the manner or method that God desires. He is being aware of the fact that God has a plan that he wants his children to follow. The Psalmist is acknowledging that and abiding by it. How happy that must make God!

So, consider the word WAYS. How can we apply this thinking to our own life? Am I following that clearly delineated path God has made for me and learning it by reading the Bible? And I learning the method and manner of living life by God’s standards, His WAYS? Or am I leaning too much on my own sight, my own interpretation of the markings along the path?

I encourage you to read Psalm 119, to find encouragement in seeking out God’s WAYS.

At Home.

 

Making A Hand

moving hand

It was a strange little project but we were following her interests. That’s how it goes, right? Delight directed can lead to some interesting things and this led to making a hand.

We started with the Mystery Doug video for the week which is answering “Why do muscles bulge?” Miss J was enthralled with the information and watched the video twice. And then there was the extension project mentioned – building a paper finger.

“Please?!?”
“Get your supplies. They are listed right there.”
Off she runs.

Not much later, she is moving the finger around and comparing it to her own. Trying to make them both do the same things. And they pretty much can!

studying the hand

“I wonder if I could make a whole hand?”
“Well, look at the additional learning project – make a hand.”
“Please?!?”
“What do you need?” And off she goes to gather more of the same, plus a little more.

Not much later, she is trying it out, trying to see what she can make it do.

And asking for more videos on making fingers and hands that work. So we do some more videos.

An hour and a half later, her curiosity is satisfied and her projects are beginning to not be quite as interesting. So, on to the rest of the school day. But what a fun project and what fun learning! She will remember this one.

At Home.

Antique Rose Emporium, Independence, TX – field trip

The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, TX, is a fantastic garden center to visit. There are tons of unique and interesting plants for sale but also the arrangement of the area is just beautiful.

waterfall and butterflies

We enjoyed walking around the butterfly garden and asking about the various plants that were drawing the butterflies this time of year. We saw some lovely blossoms and enjoyed many fragrances.

butterflies and blossoms

The shade gardens were beautiful and we enjoyed the various greens we saw.

The gravesite for the broken pottery is a fun little side plot that Miss E absolutely adored. She had been wanting to visit since she saw the pictures from this summer.

broken pot graveyard

The maze! What can I say? This was just fun. We chased each other around and around on the little brick paths and laughed and giggled and just enjoyed it. I would love one of these strange shade “trees”.

fun and mazes

The ladies who work here are more than happy to answer questions and to point out interesting plants. They enjoyed talking to the girls and even called them over to show them a plant that eats bugs. What a joy to meet people who truly love what they do.

The blossoms during our visit in October were definitely different than those that we saw back in June. What an interesting comparison to make. And what a fun place to visit.

At Home.

Innovators Tribe ~ a Crew review

Innovators Tribe course

Fridays are a “different school” day for us: we are intentionally giving the girls hands on learning in science, technology, and art. Innovators Tribe had given us a wonderful opportunity with their program titled Thinking Like an Engineer, which we have been reviewing for a few weeks.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Innovators Tribe is an online curriculum designed to foster the thinking skills needed to bring creative thinking from the head to the hands. Created by Wayne Kroeplin, known as Mr. K., students are guided and taught the thinking skills needed to become an innovative thinker and a problem solver. The courses offered by Innovators Tribe are designed for 6th – 12th grade students. Because it is an online program, you will need a reliable computer and internet service as it is not a downloaded program.

We have been using Thinking Like an Engineer  during our Fun Fridays. Each Friday, we log into our course dashboard and click the link that continues us in the course right where we left off previously. The course is a good mixture of online learning with recorded lessons from Mr. K., slideshows, and videos to explain various concepts. There is also a printable unit journal that has questions for the students to complete. These questions help to focus the student’s attention on certain parts of the lesson, highlighting important terms or ideas. In addition, there are research and hands-on challenges that allow the students to put into practice the concepts discussed in the lessons.

tower challenge

Topics that are addressed in Thinking Like an Engineer  include what is an engineer (professional problem solver – I LOVE this description!), types of engineers, types of problems solved or studied by engineers, and real world examples of the application of engineering and problem solving thinking. Hands-on opportunities include things like building tower of books standing on only one piece of paper, making a tower of paper over 5 feet tall using minimal materials, creating a water filtering system, and these are just the ones we have encountered in Unit 1. (Looking ahead there is a bridge challenge and a roller coaster challenge, too.)

The challenges require some basic materials, though if you want to try the water filtration system, you will probably have to go shopping for some things. But overall, it is just paper and tape for the challenges.

book stacking challenge

We have begun Unit 2 and this is where we got to download the 3D software. We are extremely excited to learn how to use this software and find out what it can do to increase our problem solving abilities. The 3D software is used to design models of ideas for solutions. So many possibilities! There are several instructional lessons using this program and also some challenges with it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are using this program for a couple of hours each Friday as part of our STEM learning. This is being used by an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader. They watch the lesson online together and then we talk through the questions in the Unit Journal related to that lesson. Finally, they tackle the challenges as a team.

research

Though she is below the anticipated age of the program, the 3rd grader is doing really well participating and helping out. She is not doing the writing in the Unit Journals, though we are talking about each question out loud and so she is participating in the discussions. She is also a big factor in the solutions with the challenges so far. She is just jumping right in, paying attention, and having fun with the learning.

Mr. K. really wants his students to learn and does an amazing job of assisting the students in that. For one of the questions in the Unit Journal, Miss L needed to research the engineering related to a topic she enjoyed. She chose dance. Well, let’s just say that is not an easy internet research topic. So, we took Mr. K. at his word about sending an email his way when we needed something and we had a very quick response that was just amazing.

He responded to Miss L with a video message in which he talked directly to her, addressing her need in such a way that she was empowered to go do the rest of the research needed to answer the question. He did not just tell her what to go look up but rather talked to her about how to think about the topic in a way that she could figure out what to go look for.

Innovators Tribe

This is a great example of how he teaches – he doesn’t lecture and tell you everything he wants you to know. Yes, there is some of that because there is just no way around it sometimes. But, he addresses the “how” of the thinking and gives the students the power and ability to think about the problem differently and in a way that allows solutions to be imagined. That is powerful!

I encourage you to find out more about Thinking Like an Engineer by visiting Innovators Tribe.

At Home.

Read more reviews by families who have been using both Innovators Tribe classes:  Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

D – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

D

And on to the letter D.

Honestly, this letter was a bit harder but we came up with some.

Door In The Wall

The Door In The Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

This was a book we first encountered several years ago. We used it as a read aloud and it was wonderful.

A young nobleman’s son is left at home when his mother and father are called away to their duties. When an illness overtakes the village, he is left alone to beat the illness and consequences of it. Thankfully a monk finds and cares for him. While recovering with the monk, he learns the skill of woodcarving but also strength and patience. Then, they travels together through much danger to the great castle. This is the tale of their journey and the lessons learned through it.

D'Aulaires Greek Myths

D’Aulaire Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Miss L loves this book. She has done full study of this book and read it several times. The drawings are just stunningly beautiful and bring the stories to life. This book covers Greek myths from the beginning and include all of the ones you think of. Well written, engaging, and accompanied by lovely drawings, this is a book that we think everyone should enjoy.

Dear America

Dear America series

The girls have really enjoyed this series and learned a tremendous amount from it. These are historical fiction stories. Each is writtten as the diary of a young girl. Each girl is from a different place and/or a different time. Through her diary entries, the reader learns about family structure, culture, what the world was like, what life was like, trials and joys, and more. These are very pleasurable to read and bring to life what different times and places might have been like.

Others the girls recommend:
Dragon’s Breath (book 2 of series) by E D Baker

Dark Tide (book 3 of series) by Jennifer Donnelly

At Home.

blogging-through-the-alphabet-300x300

Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen

 

 

Creating with The Thin Stix Creativity Pack from The Pencil Grip, Inc. ~ a Crew review

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

Kiwk Stix and their thinner friends, the Thin Stix, are favorites of our family to use, providing hours of endless creativity. Recently, we received the Thin Stix Creativity Pack, a set of 24 Thin Stix, from The Pencil Grip, Inc. to use for this review. We have had hours and hours of fun with lots of friends using these wonderful tools!

Thin Stix Creativity Pack

Thin Stix are a thinner version of the Kwik Stix. All are a quick drying tempera paint that is dry within just a few seconds of laying it onto your project. The website says 90 seconds but we have found it to actually be much, much faster drying than that, which is wonderful with younger kiddos using the product. Because this is a stick form of the paint, there is no need for water, cups, brushes, or smocks. You would do well to still protect your working area, just in case, but we have found these to clean up very well on all sorts of table tops. The bright, cheerful, energizing colors are non-toxic and washable. This makes them a wonderful product to explore with younger kids.

ghost pumpkin

The Thin Stix Creativity Pack is a set of 24 colors. Included in this pack are the basic colors, such as red, blue, green, brown, black, and yellow. You also get white, pink, and purple. But – and this is where the girls got REALLY excited – there are also metallics and neons in this pack! Metallics include shiny blue, purple, pink, green, gold and silver. The neons include super bright pink, yellow, two blues, green, and orange. What combinations and opportunities lie within these color combinations!

Thin Stix Creativity PackThin Stix Creativity PackThin Stix Creativity Pack

When these first arrived on our doorstep, the girls squealed (literally squealed!) with delight about the huge pack. They immediately begged to use them and do art first for school that day. I agreed and the day started happily with a couple of hours of drawing, experimenting, and trying out all sorts of ideas and uses.

coloring party

One of the evenings, we had several girls over for a sleepover. When they got up the next morning, the girls and their friends really wanted to do something but they weren’t terribly energetic. Out came the Thin Stix Creativity Pack and a pile of papers. The next two hours were filled with exclamations of how much fun these were and showing off drawings that were made. My favorite moment was when I was asked “how long until I can turn this over to sign my name?” I answered “now.” With a puzzled look, she tried it to see if I was kidding with her and then exclaimed “It’s dry!!”

One of the girls’ mommas is a drama teacher and when she picked up her daughter, she commented on the colors. I showed her what they were and how they worked and she was super pleased. Her comment? “I think it is budget spending time.” A good endorsement, I do believe.

friend's pictures

Another time we used these was when we were babysitting a 7 year old, a 4 year old and a 2 year old. They are a creative family so had used lots of art products before. We pulled out the Thin Stix Creativity Pack and the papers. They were excited. Something new for them!! They spent at least an hour drawing and creating. Even the 2 year old! She just loved drawing and coloring and showing off her pictures. All of them had so much fun and they really enjoyed getting to use a product that was new to them.

a bat

We have used products from The Pencil Grip, Inc. quite often and have always enjoyed them. They can be used on just about anything regular tempera paint works on, though for now the girls still prefer paper. We have used them for Christmas drawings,  backgrounds on Santa projects, regular creations, and trying out black paper with the metallics, just to name a few times we have used them.

These are definitely something to try!

At Home.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

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