Monday, October 17, 2016

Educeri Review

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

We received Educeri Lesson Subscription Service from Educeri ....... Educeri a division of DataWORKS to review. The subscription gave us 12 months of access to Educeri's online and printable educational materials. Educeri covers Kindergarten to Grade 12. Educeri's subjects include: math, science, English language arts, history, art, PE, music, Spanish, English language development, and other resources. Some of these subjects do not currently have learning materials for every grade.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

We used the Kindergarten and 1st grade materials for Munchkin and Bean. There are 60 worksheets available for Kindergarten students and 78 worksheets available for 1st grade students. They are mostly language arts and math worksheets, but there is one science and one history worksheet available. Hopefully there will be more beginner science worksheets available in the future!

Each lesson has an online portion, called "Teach Lesson." These are all ready to teach lessons, so this area goes over the teacher portion of the lesson and highlights the key parts to focus on. Then you can print out the materials and lead the lessons. I typically taught the lesson by having the materials printed out and the kids sat across from me while I read from the laptop. Occasionally I sit in the middle, but I usually try to sit across from them so they can see my face when we are talking. This helps with language arts lessons when they watch me enunciate words or sound out letters.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Most of the language arts materials only require a couple pages printed out, while some of the math materials require up to 32, that we've found so far, but you don't have to print and use them all at once. We aimed to do at least one lesson from each subject 3 times a week, in addition to the materials we already use.

We don't have a color printer, so unfortunately all the pictures are in black and white. My kids don't seem to mind, though. This week I printed out ten lessons, five for each child. They were a mixture of Kindergarten and 1st grade math and language arts worksheets.

For math we focused on addition, and measuring length and height. The worksheets we didn't get to were for skip counting, counting to 100, and adding three numbers.

Adding two single digit numbers.

Measuring shorter and longer. My daughter will use this same worksheet later to measure with a ruler. 

Shorter and taller. She'll also use this worksheet later to measure with a ruler. 

For language arts we focused on storytelling, and recognizing parts of the story, characters, and location.

We also printed out worksheets for writing sight words and recognizing beginning and ending sounds. 

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

The lessons are easy to find. They are categorized by grade and subject and you can decide how many lessons you want to see on each page (20/40/60). I had no issues loading the teaching materials or downloading the student worksheets.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

Educeri will soon have quizzes available for some of the lessons. I hope they will also expand their art, PE, music, and Spanish sections, as there are only a handful of lessons in each of these subjects. However, there are over 1,000 K-12 lessons available: 413 in math, 525 for English language arts, 22 lessons for science, and 26 lessons for history.

I really liked using Educeri. It had plenty of worksheets to choose from. So far we have been able to find one for every lesson we plan. I do hope they expand their other subject areas, but for math and language arts, they have a ton of materials. Most educational sites that offer worksheets don't have a teaching guide with it, so that was very helpful! We plan to continue using Educeri's educational materials for our homeschooling needs.

Be Social! 

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 10, 2016

MyFreezEasy Review Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

We received the Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy to review. Specifically the Premium Annual Membership, which allows you to customize your own plan or create your own. The Premium Annual Membership also gives you access to all eight meal plans each month.

MyFreezEasy offers you an easier way to freeze meals in advance by providing you with meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists. We used our laptop and tablet to view the recipe plans, but you can also download and print them. Another nice option is that MyFreezEasy offers labels which have the name of the recipe, cooking instructions, and a space to write in the date. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
There are eight meal plans available: Traditional Meal Plan, The 20 Meals Plan, Gluten Free Meal Plan, All Pork Chops Meal Plan, All Ground Beef Meals Plan, All Chicken Meal Plan, Slow Cooker Meal Plan, and Clean Eats Meal Plan. The Clean Eats Meal Plan contains some Paleo recipes. The printable meal plans are very organized and lists the ingredients, prep time and instructions, and how long you can store your meals in the freezer. The main feature I love is that you make two meals at once, one for now and the second for a later date. It really does save time and makes it so much easier. In the future we will try to prep multiple recipes at once. Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

The meal plans we used the most were the Traditional, 20 Meals, and All Chicken. Now that it's October and the temperature is starting to drop, we are getting into slow cooker season and will be using those recipes too. The 20 Meals plan has 10 recipes and plans to make one now and freeze the second batch. The other recipe plans typically had 5 recipes. I loved that the recipe plans came with a shopping list, separated by recipe, and there is also a second shopping list so you can shop by store section.

For the most part, we created the recipes as directed. I did substitute some ingredients though. For example, I don't like chicken thighs, so we used chicken breast instead. And if a recipe called for onions, I just omitted them, since I'm allergic to them. One thing I loved is that some of the recipes use ingredients I would not usually consider using, like lime juice in the Paleo Chicken Taco Salad. I also liked that many of these recipes are new to us. I tend to stick to my go-to favorite recipes, but my children love trying new recipes.

My daughter loves cooking and enjoyed prepping with me for our freezer meals. We were also able to use the meal plans to work on reading and math (cooking is our favorite math lesson). She was able to read the ingredient list (with help) and measure out the ingredients (the math part). Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

There were only two things I did not like about MyFreezEasy. The first is that they don't provide nutritional information, since some people might be on strict diets or count calories. This doesn't apply to us, but it's something to consider. The other is that I feel you should have access to the meal plans for past months in your subscription, not just the current month. This is mainly because I only had a chance to make a handful of the recipes from September and was using my laptop to read the recipes, but I did not download and save the recipes. So when I went back at the start of October, the old recipes were gone and only October's recipes were available.

Overall, I liked MyFreezEasy because it allowed me to prepare full meals in advance. Now on busy days I can just pull out a meal from the freezer and cook it, without having to spend time preparing the meal.

Be Social! Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

If You Were Me and Lived in... Book Review

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

We received four books from the If You Were Me and Lived In... book series to review, brought to you by Carole P. Roman and I chose If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China: The Han Dynasty and If You Were Me and Lived in...the Middle Ages (Volume 6), and they also generously sent us If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2) and If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe. These are all exciting periods of time in World History and I knew my kids would find them fascinating!

What can you do with your If You Were Me and Lived in... books? You can use them for cultural or history studies and unit studies, which is what we did. Each book can be used for various activities, such as creating a timeline, using the glossary for vocabulary and spelling words, pretend play (playing roles depicted in the books, such as a Lord, peasant, or doctor from the Middle Ages book). You'll also learn about various occupations, food (which you can learn about further by cooking recipes in the kitchen), clothing, and recreation.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
If You Were Me and Lived in...the Middle Ages follows the life of Aalis, the daughter of a standard bearer in William the Conqueror's army. Her family lives in a large, fortified stone house with a motte. She spends her days embroidering and sewing with her sisters. My grandfather hunts, so we had a venison dinner, and we baked homemade bread. We collected herbs from the garden. They did not want to test out the Middle Ages eating schedule, which was two meals a day, or pottage if you were a peasant. We used a Middle Ages sticker book to further explore the clothing of the time. The Middle Ages book addresses what life was like for peasants as well. They lived hard lives as farmers. The Church was also a major influence in the life of those living in the Middle Ages.

The book introduces historical figures, such as William the Conqueror, Clovis, and Charlemagne. We each chose a person from history who lived in the time period we were reading about and researched them further. I am teaching my children how to research and this was a perfect opportunity. They were able to look online and find books at the library with help. We chose the Middle Ages for our first unit study. We chose William the Conqueror (Munchkin), Joan of Arc (Bean), and Christine de Pizan (me - mom). After a week we each reported what we had learned about that person. We focused on key facts, such as their date of birth and death, what their name was and other names they were called, what they looked like (we each drew a portrait), where they lived, and what they were best known for. We tagged each one on our timeline for the year they "made history." When they are a little older, we will probably use activities like this to create lapbooks. 

If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe introduces you to Viking life in Northern Europe around the year 870 AD. You're given name ideas from that time period and what your family life would look like. In this book, you follow young Knut Ericson, son of a Jarl. Vikings were famous for their long voyages to foreign lands and raids. The Viking era depicted what life was like before the Middle Ages. Many things were similar. Medicine, for example, pretty much didn't change for a thousand years and they had limited options for those who were sick or injured. Food was plentiful for those who were part of the Jarl's family. They also drank a lot, with the adults drinking from horns so they had to drink it quickly or pass it around but never put it down, and children drank from cups. The Vikings written language was runic, which we learned.

The second book we focused on was Viking Europe. We use the first week of the study period to read the book, which usually takes 3-5 days, with 30-45 minute reading periods each day. After reading each page I stop and we discuss what was talked about, such as who a Jarl is or what mutton was. Sometimes this meant turning to the internet to look at more pictures. The second week we visit the library and find more reading materials, typically story books and at least one non-fiction book. Their favorite was the one on Norse myths. The third week, which we will start this week, will focus on what they want to research more about. Bean wants to learn to weave. Munchkin wanted to forage for food, but we're going into the wrong season for that, at least in our area, so instead he is going to learn to dye cloth using berries and plants. For the last week, we will focus on more hands-on lessons, cooking viking recipes, and our final project. 

We used a laminated map to draw lines to the countries the Vikings visited and measured how long they would have traveled to get there. We added math into the lesson by estimating how long the journey would take and how much food and water they would have had to bring. We created a Viking ship using a large cardboard box and practiced rowing. It was a lot of fun!

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy The Renaissance took place over 500 hundred years ago, which really wasn't that long ago, although much has changed since then. It began in the Tuscany region of Italy and is most famous for the artists and inventors it produced. The Renaissance took place after the Middle Ages ended, and was a well-spring of creativity. Architecture, science and astronomy were making new changes. Life was making major changes, such as it becoming more common for children to be taught by tutors. Even girls were taught about art, music, and dancing, although they still focused on needlework. Children wore clothing like their parents and were expected to act appropriately. Clothing was important and represented your status in society. Forks were finally being used and important family members ate on porcelain dishes. Artists were in demand and are still remembered today as some of the best artists in the world.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China: The Han Dynasty is one of the most important periods of time in Ancient China. The Han Dynasty took place between 206 BC until 220 AD. During this period of time civil service and organized government was established. Paper and porcelain was also invented. The Silk Road was the most important trade route to the East. Merchants were created to transport Chinese silk and became very wealthy. Most houses were designed the same and men were the head of the family. All families set aside a special part of their house as an alter to their ancestors. Silk was very important to the Chinese and was used to make clothes. There were four major professions: doctors, warriors, scholars, and advisers. Below that were farmers, artisans, and merchants. School was free, but only available to boys. Girls were taught how to be wives and mothers. There were three major religions: Taoism, Buddhiam, and the teachings of Confucius. Boys studied poetry and practiced calligraphy.  

These books are easy to read and the art is interesting. My kids thought they looked like watercolor pictures. Three of the books are illustrated by Mateya Arkova from Bulgaria. The Renaissance Italy book is illustrated by Silvia Brunetti from Rome. We really enjoyed reading these books and look forward to collecting the rest of the books in this series!

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}
If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

Carole P. Roman is a children's author who began writing on a dare. Since then, and many awards later, she has written over 30 books. You may be more familiar with her Captain No Beard series or her If You Were Me and Lived In... Country series. Her picture books, and cultural and historical books are perfect for children in elementary grades.

Be Social!

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Cat of Bubastes Review

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

I received The Cat of Bubastes from Heirloom Audio Productions to review. The Cat of Bubastes is a Christian tale from Ancient Egypt for children 6-16. Younger children can still enjoy it with their parents and siblings. The story is over two hours long and comes on two discs. It also comes with a study guide.

Families with younger children may want to break the audio adventure into story-time blocks. We opted to listen to 20 minutes a day during our usual reading time. After each part of the story, I asked my children comprehensive questions to see what they retained and asked them about the characters and story. The Cat of Bubastes is based on a story by G.A. (George Alfred) Henty. G.A. Henty was a popular English novelist and was best known for his historical adventure stories during the late 19th century. Heirloom Audio Productions turned some of his stories into exciting dramas teaching moral values like bravery, determination and duty.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The Cat of Bubastes is about a 15 year old boy who is the prince of a small nation invaded by Egyptians. Chebron is the son of the Egyptian High Priest Ameres and Amuba who a slave in Ameres' household. Chebron accidentally kills a cat which is a crime punishable by death. He flees with Amuba and they embark on an adventure that teaches strong moral character traits.

The story is full of interesting historical information on Egyptian architecture, family life, methods of warfare, government, geography, and religion. My daughter loved that she learned new vocabulary words that we were able to look up after each listening session. She even requested that we pick up the book on our next library trip (they tend to prefer physical copies over ebooks). I have heard that the book has a slow beginning, but is easy to read, even though it has some challenging vocabulary. The audio adventure on the other hand is very easy to get into. My son is fascinated with Ancient Egypt, so this was the perfect story for him. We were able to discuss how religion changed history, compared Egyptian and Christian religious figures, and symbology.

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

The downloadable study guide is 47 pages long and can be used for homeschooling or Bible lessons. It contains discussion starters to go over the different historical and Biblical moments in the story. We did not use it to write down the answers, because my children do not write independently yet, so we talked about them as a group. TOS Crew members also received an mp3 soundtrack, poster of the crew, a colorful illustrated version of the original story (Ebook), and coloring pages. We did not use the inspirational verse printable or the behind-the-scenes documentary. You're also given access to the Live the Adventure Letter online Newsletter.

Heirloom Audio Productions creates wholesome entertainment for Christians. They specialize in stories of heroics and coming-of-age stories, like The Cat of BubastesBeric The Briton, The Dragon & The Raven, In Freedom’s Cause, and Under Drake’s Flag. For families that attend church co-ops or have homeschool Bible lessons, the audio adventures can be used to teach Biblical history. Heirloom Audio wants to immerse the listener in history and engage them in the story.

Be Social!

Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, September 15, 2016

STEAM Kids Book is here!

STEAM Kids: 50+ Science / Technology / Engineering / Art / Math Hands-On Projects for Kids

Are you interested in creating fun and educational activities for your kids? Well there's an awesome book for that, and it's a boredom buster to boot! It would have been perfect over the summer, but it's even better now that the school year has begun! Inside you'll find 10 weeks worth of activities, 5 activities per week, and an 11th week full of field trips. The book also provides material lists for each week, field trip ideas, building challenges, and free printables for the activities that require them. An added bonus is the STEAM Journal for kids to keep track of their ideas and notes.

STEAM Kids is a book that will inspire children to:

question like a scientist
design like a technologist
build like an engineer
create like an artist
deduce like a mathematician

– and, most importantly –

play like a kid.

Want to get started on STEAM activities at home? Here are some helpful posts to get you started! 

Most of the activities use materials you already have at home. Whatever you don't have can easily be found at local craft, grocery, and hardware stores.

Inside STEAM Kids you'll find activities that focus on five themes: Build, Color, Play, Sense, and Grow. These activities can be done at home or in a classroom. Teachers, parents, child-care givers, and homeschoolers can benefit from introducing STEAM activities to children. Not only are the activities fun, but they are engaging and encourage children to create and explore! 

With your purchase, you'll also receive some extras! At the back of the book you will find pages for a STEAM Journal which can be used to Explore Ideas, Sketch Designs, Do Calculations, or Use the Scientific Method: Ask a question, document research, form a hypothesis, design an experiment, record and analyze data, draw a conclusion. The Steam Journal invites you to Invent! Create! Dream! 

Meet the fabulous creators behind STEAM Kids and visit their blogs!

Ana Dziengel (Babble Dabble Do)
Amber Scardino (Wee Warhols)
Chelsey Marashian (Buggy and Buddy)
Dayna Abraham (Lemon Lime Adventures)
Erica Clark (What Do We Do All Day?)
Jamie Hand (Handmade Kids Art)
Karyn Tripp (Teach Beside Me)
Leslie Manlapig (Pink Stripey Socks)
Malia Hallowell (Playdough to Plato)
Shelley Brewer (STEAM Powered Family)

STEAM Kids is available for purchase now!

Get it now while there is a special launch price of 50% off!

When you purchase the STEAM Kids book during the first week (9/14-9/21), you will also receive a FREE Ebook copy of STEAM Kids Halloween projects for kids which includes over 10 exclusive activities. If you purchase the physical copy, send an email with a screen shot of your receipt to

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Family Game Night: Krosmaster Junior

We recently purchased Krosmaster Junior from Miniature Market's Back-to-School sale (and also picked up some Infinity miniatures for us parents). I have been eyeing Krosmaster Junior ever since I saw Krosmaster: Arena being played at PAX East. Krosmaster Junior is a simpler version of the game. I knew my kids would love it. Besides being incredibly cute, it's a great introductory game that has different levels of difficulty. There are seven different adventures, each one more difficult than the last. The game also includes two double-sided maps, lots of tokens, and four characters and their pets. Each character also has their own Adventure Guide, although the adventures are the same in each book. Since there are four of us (not including Baby O who won't be old enough to play this for at least 5 years), this game has the perfect number of characters. They have game names, but we each renamed ours.

Munchkin and Bean both helped to set up the game. They are able to construct the map, the totems, and the bushes. Meanwhile Daddy and I punched out all the pieces while he explained the rules to the kids. The first adventure does not use any of the tokens, but we wanted to be ready for adventure #2. Something to keep in mind is that you can do any of the adventures as often as you want. And once we are finished with all the adventures, I know the kids will have fun creating adventures of their own. Just like in Robot Turtle, I feel like this game can be more than advertised. We will of course play as intended first though!

The first adventure only took about 5-10 minutes to play. The first adventure is basically a game of tag and each player is trying to tag another player's pet. My older kids are 5 and 6 and while the game is advertised for 7 and older, I feel like they did extremely well keeping up with the rules. I love that this game will gradually introduce harder rules with each new adventure.

Miss Bean won the first game! We can't wait to play again!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cross Stitch Family Portrait

I have always loved cross stitching. In the past few years I have been able to work on some awesome projects. Such as the Avengers piece I made for my daughter and the Lavender Girl I made for my cousin's daughter (I need to remake that one for myself!). Some projects are quick, and some seem to take forever to finish. I have a Welcome to the Lake sign that I've literally been working on for 3 years. My goal is to have it finished by next summer. We'll see...

But in the weeks leading up to my 3rd child's birth, I had some free time and decided to make a cross stitched family portrait. I'm technically not even done it, as it's still missing the family name and date. In the weeks since baby O's birth, I just have had my hands full. But once it's finished, it will be framed and look adorable on our wall! 

I really love how simple the portrait looks, and yet it captures us really well. I used patterns found in and inspired by the Stitch People book. I let the kids decide what they wanted their figures to wear. And we went to the craft store to pick out DMC embroidery floss. 

I drew Bean's figure and then she wanted to try making one on her own. Her's is on the left. We ended up changing it again in the final stages of stitching. 

Baby O wasn't born yet when I started my figure, so I saved some of the details for after he was born. Once he had arrived and I knew what color to make his hair, I stitched it in. Originally I had used everyone's eye color, but ultimately I decided I preferred the way simple black eyes look. 

I could not find the pattern for Munchkin's figure. I am pretty sure he ran off with it... It had an Autobot stitched onto the shirt and since he hid the paper somewhere, I haven't been able to complete his figure. Someday... :) 

Every year for Christmas I try to make everyone handmade gifts. One year I made felt play mats and gave them away with Safari Ltd. TOOBS, so our little cousins could create small worlds. Another year I made homemade watercolors and playdough. We also gift books for each of the kids. This year it will be cross stitch family portraits. 

I bought a computation notebook, because the grids are perfect for making your own cross stitch patterns. I really wish the grids had been smaller, but this was the only size available. I just used a pencil and colored pencils to color in the patterns and give myself and idea of the colors I wanted to use. The Stitch People book gives you a lot of ideas of how to design people, from tons of hair options, to different styles of colors. There are even cat and dog designs. I also have the Farm Animals book, but I haven't created any of those patterns yet. 

Here are a few examples of patterns I made. I love that you can stitch babies at various ages and in different positions. 

I don't have the pattern finished yet, but I am also working on one for my father, which will feature himself, his four children, and six grandchildren. 

Disclosure: This is not a review of Stitch People. I paid for my Stitch People and Farm Animals book and was not encouraged to write this post. I just loved the book so much I wanted to share what I made with others!

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