Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bash and the Pirate Pig - A Book Review

                                                               Bash and the Pirate Pig
                                                               Written by: Burton  Cole
                                                                Illustrated by: Tom Bancroft
                                                                Publisher: B&H Kids
                                                                Hardcover: 224 pages

About Bash and the Pirate Pig:

Bash and the Pirate Pig, by Burton Cole, is the story of a cranky city kid named Raymond "Beamer" Boxby who must spend summer vacation  at his younger cousin Bash's farm.

Beamer prefers air conditioning and video games. He can't see what good will come of this so-called country fun that includes riding cows, river rafting with a pig, or playing with skunks.

But hang tight Beamer, because Bash's zany adventures  with his "Fishin' and Farmin" book (The Bible) just might lead to the coolest discovery of all.

About the author:

Burton Cole is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist with thirty years of experience and more than fifty humor writing awards to his credit. He grew up on a farm in northeast Ohio and attended a small-town church with a slew of cousins and buddies. That same
boyhood inspires his colorful stories today.

About the illustrator:

Tom Bancroft has more than twenty years of experience in the animation and illustration industry and worked with Disney on films including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin. Other clients have included DC Comics and Big Idea Productions.

Stay Connected:

B&H Kids Facebook:

B&H Kids Publishing Twitter: @BHKidsBuzz


How fun it is to get a new book in the mail, and when that book is a beautiful hardcover, it's all the more delightful! Just looking at this colorfully illustrated cover, filled with images of the wild and crazy adventures from the story, I was confident that this would be enjoyed by my tween daughters.

Part of our school day includes various books to read aloud every day. Bash and the Pirate Pig looked like it would be a great story for this purpose.
The main character, Raymond, gets what he thinks is horrible news- he has to spend the summer with his nutty cousin, Sebastian, a.k.a. "Bash". There were never two kids who were more opposite in nature, and to Raymond, it appears as if this will be the worst summer ever.

Bash finds a way to immediately get under his cousin's skin by dubbing him, "Ray Ray Sunbeam Beamer". He has a most annoying way of pulling Ray into the wildest schemes, often with city kid Ray as the butt of the jokes.

With character's with fun and eccentric names like Jehoshaphat Isaac Gobnotter, and Lulabelle Liechtenstein Daffodil Lee, this book kept my girls in constant giggles. Good ole Bash had a way of transforming ordinary farm life into amazing and exotic adventures. Ray Ray is pushed and pulled out of his quiet comfort zone, encouraged by his rambunctious cousin. Along the way, Bash is subtly teaching him truths from the Bible.  Eventually, Ray comes to see that he needs Jesus too, with Bash gently (or maybe not so gently ;) ) encouraging him in the background.

Towards the end of the story, there is a transformation in Ray. He is now the one heading up the adventures instead of chasing Bash. What began as an awful vacation now ends with Ray making plans to come back for more fun.

We enjoyed this book, especially all of the crazy names. My girls love to laugh, and this one gave us plenty of opportunity. God is present throughout the story, but gently, and naturally. It didn't feel forced, and I liked that. The end of the book has a parent section where you can go through several discussion questions, and an activity or two. There's also a preview of the author's next book.

There was only one small blip for me at the beginning of the book. There is a part where Ray uses the word schm--- ( rhymes with duck) My understanding of this word is not a kid friendly one, and I did find that inappropriate for the audience. Fortunately, I was reading that part aloud at the time, so I skipped over it. Apart from that, Bash and the Pirate Pig is a fun read for the family.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Logic of English - Cursive Handwriting

Ah, the art of handwriting. It almost seems as if it's becoming a lost art. If what I hear is correct, some schools are no longer even teaching it. And that is something that I can't believe. Just because we live in an age of computers, smart phones, tablets, and more,  that is absolutely no reason to abandon the handwritten word (in my humble opinion). I want my daughters to have the ability to write a proper note for any and every occasion. I know that I can't be alone in my love a handwritten card or letter that is sent my way.
So, I was enthusiastic as I presented this cursive handwriting book, Rhythm of Handwriting   , and a Quick Handwriting Reference Chart , by the company Logic of English , to my seven year old.

This book begins with several pages of tips for teaching cursive writing. Honestly, they were not tips that were applicable for us, simply because my daughter already has experience in letter sounds, manuscript, and handwriting. These pages are good for those who are just beginning the subject. But I will say that they are helpful and I would have put them into practice if we were at that starting point. And I'll share a few of them with you too.

Interestingly enough, and a bit of a surprise to me is their suggestion that you begin with Cursive before Manuscript. Why? Because it is less fine-motor skill intensive. All of the lower case letters begin in the same place on the baseline, the spacing within the words is controlled. And for those of you with children that confuse b's and d's, it is difficult to reverse those letters in cursive. Food for thought.

You are also encouraged to use all of the senses while teaching the lessons. Show the student the letter, speak the directions, have the students do the action as they repeat the directions. Additionally, there are a lot of ideas for encouraging fine motor practice, letter practice, and writing. Again, many of these look to me like they are ideal for students on the younger side of the spectrum, but good nonetheless.

The mentioned age range is 7+, but it could be used with children 6 and under, or even slightly over age 7. As such, there are a few possible schedules that can be used. Since I used this with my 7 year old we went with 2 letters a day. We actually could have done more, but I really wanted her to go a little more slowly, and focus on writing as neat as possible. I'm very glad that this was the route we took, because the results have been great. Her penmanship has definitely improved. In fact, she has applied herself quite a bit to this task, and during one lesson on the letter d, she called me over and proudly exclaimed, "Would you just look at that d!" And it was a very nice cursive d ! :)

Lowercase letters are the first to be tackled, and are grouped with other letters in like groups - swing letters, curve letters, loop letters, bump letters, and so on. The layout of this book is a little different than what we have used before.
There are frequent pages with a very large handwriting line, and this meant for the student to trace the letter with her finger. Then the practice pages themselves have handwriting lines in various sizes from smallest to largest. These were a little daunting for my daughter at first, until she began writing. Then she became comfortable and worked through the pages well.

So, what do we think of this handwriting book? My daughter has taken to it quite well. She's turned a corner in her penmanship, and this book has had a big part in that. She likes the work, and the fact that it has lines in varying sizes. That way, she said, she can practice writing at a bigger kid level.  As for me, she's doing the work, she's doing it well, and she's enjoying it, so what else could I ask for? I will say again though, that this is especially good for beginning students, as it has so many ideas for practice and games. Check it out at the links below, and also click on the crew review links, as there are other resources from this company that were reviewed.
Happy Handwriting!

Logic of English

Rhythm of Handwriting - Cursive Printed Student Book - $15.00

Handwriting Quick Reference Chart - $10.00

Ages: 7+

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Foster Friday

Not only are we Foster parents, but we are also a homeschooling family. That's a lot of family togetherness. And I'm glad that we do it this way. But, I would be lying if I said that there weren't days when I wanted to curl up in bed with the covers over my head and forget about all of my responsibilities. Because it gets hard sometimes!

What do you do when you're having one of those days, and you feel the frustration rising? I can only speak for me on this, and I do not boast to be an expert.
When I feel like I can't do this for another day, we  change up our regular routine. It may sound simplistic, but it helps a lot.

That might mean that we take a field trip to a new destination. Maybe we get outside for extended P.E. time and check out a new trail or park. It could also be as easy as making a batch of cookies. Just doing something different, changing the scenery, helps adjust my perspective, and often shakes off a grouchy attitude.
Now if you'll excuse me, I think we need a batch of cookies over here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Greene Bark Press - A Review

We received a very cute book to review this month, brought to you from Greene Bark Press .
  Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again is a sturdy, well made, board book that teaches children ages 3-8 years old, how to safely cross the street.

If the adorable and colorful illustrations don't immediately invite your young child to flip through the pages, then the fun, tongue twisting name of the main character - Wally Waddlewater - certainly will!

Little Wally has made a birthday card for his grandmother, and he needs to mail it. But, he has to cross the street to get to the mailbox. He thinks he knows what to do to get safely across, but when Mama Waddlewater shows up just in time to keep him out of harms way, he finds out that he needs more practice.

Through fun characters and repetitive text, this book written by Ginger Pate, and illustrated by Rhett Ransom Pennel teaches traffic safety in what is sure to be an effective manner:

"Look Left, look right,
Make sure the
are out of sight.
Remember then:
Look left again."

I'm sure you're wondering if Wally gets across. You'll just have to get the book to find out, 'cause I can't give it all away!

I read this with my kids of course. They kinda sorta fit the age range. I have a 7 1/2 year old, a 9 year old, and a toddler who enjoyed this. The older two have already had traffic safety persistently drummed into them for quite some time now, and although they like to profess their maturity and how picture books are of no interest to them anymore, all I have to do is start reading to the little one, and all of a sudden, my audience is larger. (wink)
And that's just what happened here. Now, the toddler still is on the young side, but it's never too early to start teaching these important lessons on street safety. The general consensus - they all liked it!

Click on the links below to get a better look at this cute little book.

Greene Bark Press

Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again

Ages: 3-8 years

Price: $8.50

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fun Fall Craft

Labor Day has officially put me in the mood for Fall! It's not difficult to accomplish that anyway, as it is my favorite season.
So, I found myself scrounging through the containers of art supplies, looking for something fall-ish to create with baby girl. This is what we did:

It's even way cuter in person! Baby girl dipped her thumb in red paint, and made "apples" all over the tree shape. When it was dry, we added a tree trunk and glued it to the background. It was still missing something, but then I found these cute little squirrel cutouts. Love!