Picture of the Week: Iron Man


The big boys worked together to make this Iron Mask for Small Fry. He’s taken to wearing it everywhere he goes. My favorite part is the way he says “Iron Man.” He says it with a short i sound (like in “it”). ir-on man. Love it!

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!

I hope everyone, regardless of where you live, has a great weekend!


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Would a Worm Go on a Walk? (book review and giveaway)


A photo posted by Wendy (@ladybugdaydreams) on

I have a lovely book to share with you guys today. Would a Worm Go on a Walk? is written by Hannah C. Hall and illustrated by Bill Bolton. The story is told through a series of short poems about animals, asking if each one would do a “human” activity.

Would a worm go on a walk?

Would a lion become a lifeguard?

Would a ladybug wear lipstick?

A lot of children’s books would try to come up with reasons as to why the animals would do these specific activities, but not this one. Would a Worm Go on a Walk? gives a fun reason that the animal in question doesn’t do the funny thing, but they all come down to the same core reason: because God didn’t make them that way.

After reading about nine animals and why they don’t exhibit human behaviors, the book culminates with the idea that people are “God’s masterpieces.”

But God’s designs weren’t finished.

His special plans weren’t through.

The animals were just a start.

God’s masterpiece is YOU!

I’d told Small Fry that we’d get to review this book several days before it arrived, and he asked every day if it was here yet. He was so excited about it! The day it showed up, we read it twice (practically before the mail truck even had a chance to leave!). Once he moved on to other things, I took a good look at it, and saw just how beautiful the illustrations were. They’re lovely on a quick pass; they’re positively gorgeous when you look at them carefully.

Overall, this is a wonderfully done book. The message is beautiful, the illustrations are amazing. The two parts work together perfectly to make the book a delight. Flyby Promotions has graciously donated another copy of this book for me to offer as a giveaway. Fill out the Giveaway Tools widget below for your chance to win. The giveaway will end on Tuesday, July 5th at 5 a.m. PST.


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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Turning Busy Work into to Memorable Work (NotebookingPages.com review)

The idea of doing our homeschooling in a “notebooking way” really appeals to me, but I’ve never really known how to implement the method. When the Schoolhouse Review Crew members were offered the chance to review a Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com, I knew right away that I wanted to a part of it. I’ve explored the free side of the website before, but never really used it all that much. Doing a review was the perfect opportunity to explore the site fully and figure out exactly what notebooking would look like in our homeschool.


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We received access in the middle of May, so the first thing I did was look at the resources for holidays – specifically Memorial Day. Using some of the pages found on NotebookingPages.com alongside other resources I found online, I put together a Memorial Day unit study for the boys. Besides Memorial Day, NotebookingPages.com has printable pages for just a wide variety of (American) holidays from Martin Luther King Day in January to Christmas in December.

When we’d finished studying Memorial Day, I needed a new topic for us to study. We’ve been on a big classical music kick recently, so I decided to see what was available for composer studies. I was not disappointed with the selection – there are 28 composers to choose from! I looked through our record collection and the NotebookingPages.com options, put some books on hold through the library online catalog, and was able to put together a study on several of our favorite composers. We learned about Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Sousa. Our very favorite composer (Rossini) doesn’t have any NotebookingPages, though. But no problem – my NotebookingPages.com Lifetime Membership came with a one-year subscription to their web-app, which allows you to create your own worksheets either from scratch or based on any of theirs. (The web-app doesn’t always come with the Lifetime Membership; if this is a feature you’re interested in, double check before buying.) Using the publisher web-app, I was able to adjust the other composer notebooking pages to swap in Rossini’s name and picture, and we had exactly what we needed.

During this review period, I’ve also been reading Courage and Defiance (my June book club book) to the boys. It’s all about the Danish resistance during WWII, so I once again headed to NotebookingPages.com. They have a series of WWII pages in the “modern history” section, so I printed those out and had the boys summarize each chapter of the book in their own words.

In our six weeks of use, I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of what NotebookingPages.com has to offer. Allow me to touch briefly on the different categories.

  • There’s a huge variety of categories under the “famous people” umbrella, not just composers. This includes artists, American presidents and first ladies, missionaries, church history figures, scientists, and explorers.
  • There are pages for 54 Biblical studies (mostly individual characters, but Jesus gets two, the rest of the New Testament is all on one, and some other are buddied up), as well as “Quiet Time Journaling pages.” I am looking forward to having the boys do some of these; in fact, I’ll probably print some out as soon as I finish writing this review!
  • The Geography tab includes pages for when you study the US or do a countries of the world study. There are also maps you can print.
  • Under history, you can choose pages that cover ancient times, middle ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and modern times. There are loads of different categories under each broad category, and multiple pages under each of these.
  • There is a wide variety of copywork pages under the Language Arts category, as well as plain lined papers for things like spelling lists.
  • Science and Nature covers things like animals, astronomy, anatomy, plants and trees, and experiment recording pages.
  • A-Z pages for the youngest learners to practice their alphabet in preparation for reading and writing. We did just one of these with Small Fry – the first letter of his name. I’m really excited to do a whole alphabet notebook with him this fall. He’ll be a bit young for formal Kindergarten (he turns 4 in two weeks), but definitely old enough for preschool-type work.

Even this huge list feels like it doesn’t even come close to doing NotebookingPages.com the justice it deserves. There are thousands and thousands of different options for notebooking, copywork, and blank pages to choose from. You really have to explore the site yourself for the “full effect.” If you sign up for a free account, there are several notebooking pages you can access for no charge.

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This page was downloaded page directly from NotebookingPages.com

Now I need to discuss what these pages look like, because it may not be what you’re expecting as you imagine what “notebooking pages” look like.

They’re not worksheets. This is not a curriculum.

These pages are essentially decorative journal pages for your child to record what he’s learned. If you’re looking for something other than “blank” pages, then NotebookingPages.com isn’t it. This doesn’t mean that it’s not an amazing resource for homeschooling, though. It’s important for children to record their own thoughts on things rather than just regurgitate answers based on worksheets, especially as they get older. For this use, NotebookingPages.com is exactly the right answer.

Rossini notebooking page

This page was created using the NotebookingPages.com web-app.

Each subject has a variety of different pages to choose from. Some have room for a lot of writing, some have room for some writing and a large drawing area, and some have room for a fair amount of writing and smaller drawing areas. Also, each style of page comes in “big kid” or “little kid” styles – plain lines or training lines with the dashes for learning letter placement. There really, truly is something for every family who wants to notebook on this site.

In addition to the actual pages you can print, there are video tutorials on what notebooking is and how to implement it in your homeschool. There are ideas for how to bind your child’s notebooks. (During the review period, I just purchased inexpensive folders with metal clasps. When school supplies go on super sales next month, I’ll stock up on other better options.)

I have just one issue with the program, and it’s fairly minor considering all the good things. I wish the PDFs would open in my web browser for me to review before I downloaded. Currently, they automatically download when you click on them. If I decide it’s not quite what I wanted, I have to delete it from my computer. This isn’t a deal breaker, but having it open in the web instead would be a huge plus.

The NotebookingPages.com Lifetime Membership currently sells for $97. Included in this is access to every single page on their website for life. There’s no limit to how many you can print, so it’s great for all of your children, even if you have large age gaps where you’ll go without using the site for a long time.

There are 100 reviews of NotebookingPages.com on the Crew blog this week. Make sure to click over and read about how this resource worked in other families!


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Homeschool Year in Review (2015-16)

The time of year to reflect on the last year in our homeschool is upon us once again. There were some things that were really good for us, and others where I wish we’d done better. Here’s what we accomplished.

We (almost) made it through the entire Fix It! Grammar (from IEW) level 2. If I’d gone through with printing the pages of the student book instead of hand-writing them, I think we would’ve done better. As it stands, I’m pretty happy with the work we got done here. The kids learned a lot of new grammar concepts, and they continue to apply them to their own writing.

We read a lot of books, and we have quite a few literature guides ready to use next year. As read-alouds, we did:

  • Tuck Everlasting
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Give Me Liberty

Independently, Munchkin read the entire Harry Potter series. Seahawk is working his way through The Lord of the Rings. That one’s incredibly difficult, so I’m giving him a lot of leeway as far as the time it takes to read it.

KIMG0411We studied a lot of science concepts using multiple curricula (such is the life of a reviewing family). With Visual Learning Systems, we worked through loads of different life science units including animal classification, the human nervous system, and all about plants. There were several other units that we did before our subscription to VLS ran out, too. We also talked about Dinosaurs and the Bible using a curriculum from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. And finally, Munchkin and I worked through several weeks’ worth of Science Shepherd Introductory Science, focusing mostly on Creation. We’ll finish this curriculum next fall.

We studied World War II (though not as thoroughly as the topic deserves). Each of the boys wrote a report on a famous WWII leader. Seahawk chose Winston Churchill and Munchkin chose Adolf Hitler. To go along with that, we’re currently reading aloud Courage and Defiance by Deborah Hopkinson. This is a true life account about the Danish resistance, and it will be my Book Club entry for July.

Logic of English flashcardsUsing Logic of English, we learned several phonemes and spelling rules (especially important for Seahawk). This was an easy to implement, yet still very thorough English curriculum. We made it through a few weeks’ worth of lessons, and we will definitely be using it in the fall as well.

The boys are still working on their novels that they started when we reviewed the writing curriculum Here to Help Learning. I’ve given them the task of finishing those up by the end of the summer.

For math this year, we’ve been using textbooks (circa 2002, but math doesn’t really change all that much) that I purchased from Amazon. The boys are each about half to two-thirds done, and they’re working all summer long to finish those up in preparation of moving to the next grade level at the end of the summer. Additionally, we used A+ Interactive Math Mini Lessons. Seahawk mastered decimals while Munchkin learned to read an analog clock more easily. Thanks to Times Tales, the boys also finally really mastered the times tables. They’re still a little slower than I’d like, but at least they know them now.times tales collage

Seahawk has been practicing his drawing skills using ARTistic Pursuits. He’s really enjoying this book and plans to finish it on his own (it’s designed to be student-independent). In a couple of years, Munchkin will get to use it.

I think that’s about it. As you’re working through all the different months, sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re accomplishing much, but then when the year-end post comes around, it easy to see that quite a bit actually did get done. This is especially true doing homeschool the way we do, without a boxed curriculum. (The idea of one of those is very tempting to me, but with two school-age kids, and another one coming up quickly behind them, it’s out of the question budget-wise. I’m so thankful for the Schoolhouse Review Crew for giving us the opportunity to use so many things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to!)

This week, several other members of the Review Crew are reflecting on their own homeschool years. Click the banner below to be taken to the roundup post on the crew blog.


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Recipe: Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti Recipe

Baked Ziti is one of those dishes that most of my family has always enjoyed – everyone but Munchkin. Since he really dislikes it when made traditionally, I rarely served it. But then I came across a recipe on AllRecipes that I thought might make him like it more. It called for Provolone instead of Ricotta; other than that, it was practically the same. So I made it one night, and it was a huge hit! We all like baked ziti this way much better than the “lasagna but with bite size noodles” way. Enjoy!

Baked Ziti

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey (or a wide variety of chunky vegetables – mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, etc)
  • 1 jar (28 ounces) spaghetti sauce (or equivalent homemade)
  • 1 pound bite-size pasta, any shape
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • 6 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  1. Brown meat or cook vegetables until done. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer while the pasta cooks.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, draining it at the lowest recommended cooking time. You’ll be baking it after this, so even if you prefer softer pasta, drain it now. It will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Add pasta to sauce and combine well.
  4. In a 13×9 baking dish coated with cooking spray, add half the pasta. Layer the provolone slices over the top, then top each one with a tablespoon of sour cream. Spread the sour cream evenly over the whole dish.
  5. Add the other half of the pasta. Top with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or 425 F for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the whole dish is hot and bubbly.


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