Our Third-Grade Curriculum for 2015-16

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We’re super excited about this new school year, but I must admit, my kids make it easy.  While My Little Man is not a fan of writing, he loves to read and to build things, and so I need only to bring books home.  He’ll find them, devour them, and remember much of the text word for word. 

Our Third-Grade Curriculum for 2015-16 @ A Nest in the Rocks

My Little Man and My Big Helper are so close in age and ability, most of our schoolwork happens together.  They do most of the same assignments, study the same topics, and do most of the same projects.  When their work differs, it’s usually only in scope or the difficulty I expect from them – and math.  They do separate math assignments.

With that in mind, this is what we’re planning for this coming school year.  We’ll be starting next week – although the kids have already started reading their books and making up their own assignments.  (I don’t think they understand the meaning of ‘vacation.’)  For this to make sense, though, you need to know how we do school.  We incorporate as many subjects as we can into one thing – an interdisciplinary or project approach, also called unit studies – but we’re pretty eclectic about the way that we do things, too.  I choose history and/or science topics for us to focus on and then we read biographies, historical fiction, non-fiction, videos, documentaries, build things, take field trips, and write, so …

 

History:  Mostly we’ll be reading the types of books listed above.  We fill in gaps between major time periods with Drive Through History: Columbus, the Pilgrims, and Early Boston‘>this video series for a big world overview of what’s happening in a given time period.

Science:  We’re going to be matching up scientists and discoveries with the time periods that we’re studying.  We’ll learn about the science of navigation during our exploration unit, about the changes in weapons and warfare throughout our war studies, and other important ones in between.  The kids’ book clubs will be reading a fun trade paperback that makes use of physics and circuits, too – more on that to come.  When we want more information, in addition to biographies, the ‘Net, and documentaries, we’ll be reading

Hearts for Home Blog Hop – September 2, 2015

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Hearts for Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked posts from last week were Hands-On Science

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

– Methods for Integrating Writing

Natural Ways to Treat Migraines » Just Another Mom

Creative Girls Gift Basket Giveaway

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping! Hearts for Home Blog Hop


Our First Day of School

Today was our first day of school – homeschool, that is. Our First Day of School @ A Nest in the Rocks I have been super excited about this one. I’ve been very intentional about our planning for this one.  I know how quickly our time can get away from us, and the years are passing much too quickly.  I want our school time together to be fun and exciting and to make our kids want to learn – big goals, right?

I’ve never really done anything special beyond a few photographs for the first day, but this year we went bigger, and we did a few things that we’re going to make traditions. We started out with banana splits for breakfast.  (I stole the idea from Laura over at Heavenly Homemakers.) I sliced a banana into each kid’s parfait glass, then added a small amount of ice cream and topped the whole thing with homemade Cinnamon Almond Granola.  The kids considered it a huge treat, and it was, but at least there was still some nutritional value, right?

After that we headed out to our school table and get started with a few of our new things.  We tried out our math mats and then recorded fun interviews for their scrapbooks.  They each decorated a white board with their name and grade level before we went outside for pictures.  The kids were patient as I staged them all over the yard before coming in to an art project and some history work.  After finishing their baseball cards, My Big Helper did a math assignment and some reading while My Little Man had his book club meeting for the month. After chores and playtime, they finished up a movie, ate dinner, and ran like mad at soccer practice.

I love having everyone home.  I love being able to make school days special.

Homeschooling’s awesome – and I’m looking forward to the hundreds of more awesome days we have coming up, because they’re going to fly by much too quickly.

Do you do anything to make your first days of school special?  

10 Great Dishes for Kiddie Cooks

Kids in the Kitchen @ A Nest in the Rocks

My kids love to help out in the kitchen.  I started baking with them when they were very small, but it took a long time for me to feel comfortable having them “cook.”  I finally decided that it came down to the skills that they knew and the safety factor of the dish they were attempting. 

Cooking is great for kids for lots of reasons, but for beginner kiddie cooks, these dishes are perfect.  Your kids can make these dishes with only basic instruction, and since everything is cold, they can’t get burned.  If you handle the stove/oven parts, they’ll be able to (nearly) fully prepare a dish.

Here are a few dishes to get your kid started:

  • Lasagna:  This is a PERFECT dish for a young cook. I cook the meat the day before, so it is cold and easily crumbled.  I won’t promise a mess-free kitchen when your child is finished, but you WILL have a tasty dinner and a proud kid.
  • Green Bean Casserole:  Since you basically open cans and stir, this is great for kids.  Be careful of sharp edges on the cans – but other than that, this one is fool-proof.
  • Garlic Bread: If you soften the butter to near-liquid form and sprinkle in some garlic powder, then your child can stir and spread.  If you don’t have a pastry brush, a new, washed paintbrush works great!
  • Salad:  My Little Man loves to assemble our salads – and I do mean  assemble.  While he does use a veggie peeler on the occasional carrot or cuke, for the most part, I chop the veggies and leave them in piles on a big cutting board.  He stands on a chair nearby, and when I’m finished, he then arranges each salad on each person’s plate.  He gets a kick out of ‘making’ such an important part of our meal!
  • Goofy Cake:  This cake is completely scratch made and delicious – and it’s perfect for a young child to help mix up because it contains no eggs!  If your child is tempted by the chocolatey goodness and sticks in a finger, you don’t have to worry about salmonella.  There’s another kiddie plus to this cake, though – the acids and bases react to make a volcano in every cake!  Your kid will love to help you mix this one up.
  • Peanut Butter Apple Nachos:  The most dangerous part of this recipe is slicing the apples.  If you have a combo apple chopper/corer, your child may be able to do this alone.  If not, wash and slice the apples.  Your child can arrange them on a plate and add the toppings.  That’s really the best part, right?
  • Cinnamon Almond Granola:  Most kids love to stir and mix things up.  That’s what makes granola the perfect food for a kid to make.  Granola doesn’t have to be measured precisely, and the more you stir, the better!  This is our favorite kind.
  • Whole Wheat Pinch-Me Cake:  I remember making this with my mom when I was little, and now my kids love to make it, too!  The best part of the dish is pinching the dough off the rest, rolling it into a small ball, and then coating it with cinnamon and sugar.  It feels like the most important job in the world – and if you’ve ever eaten a good Pinch-Me Cake, you’ll know it is.
  • Circus-Inspired Snack Mix:  This recipe is fabulous for toddlers.  Nothing’s dangerous, needs to be cut, or needs to be precisely measured.  Just choose your ingredients, toss them together in a bowl, and pour into containers for snacking.
  • Whole Wheat Pumpkin Snickerdoodles:  Like the Pinch-Me Cake, these cookies need to be rolled into balls and dipped.  The dough does contain egg, so be sure to monitor those little hands.

There you have it.  My top ten Great Dishes for Kiddie Cooks.  What would you add?

“Counting on a Cowboy” by Debra Clopton

After losing everything she held dear, Abby never wants to love again. But a certain cowboy may just spur her to wonder if love might be worth the risk.

Running from a past that haunts her, Abby Knightly is drawn to the cozy town of Wishing Springs, Texas. Maybe this small town could offer hope and healing and a future for Abby . . . if she’s brave enough to reach out and take it by the reins.

Bo Monahan isn’t interested in the new romantic destination his little town has become—or the women who might be looking at him like he’s their next Mr. Right. Between taking care of his Pops and his growing stirrup business, he isn’t looking for serious romantic commitments. But when the infant son he never knew about shows up at his doorstep, his world is turned upside down.

This confirmed bachelor might not think he needs a wife, but he sure needs help. Even Abby can see that, and despite her best efforts to keep her distance, she can’t help but be drawn to this new father-son duo. As Abby throws herself into helping Bo navigate fatherhood, hope sparks between them, revealing that maybe, just maybe, they can navigate their dark pasts and emerge together into a future as bright as the Texas sun itself.

Debra Clopton’s newest book might just teach you to forgive and heal – and to trust your feelings to a cowboy.  I love the Four of Hearts Ranch series, but this book is much more serious than the first.  The topics are heavier, the spiritual journey is harsher, and Abby has very tough choices to make.  The very weight of her decisions is what makes the joy of her new romance stand out so brightly, however, and that contrast makes it all worthwhile.
 
 That’s why I enjoyed this story so much.  It contains the same zany residents of Wishing Springs as the first story, but this time there’s more on the line than a job or some solitude.  Instead, it’s all about healing and forgiveness, and those are things that we can all relate to.  Whether we have the type of tragedy in our pasts that Abby does or not, we all have something – and I appreciate Abby’s struggle to heal from it.
 
The Monahans continue to be an honorable family who would be fun to befriend.  Bo’s antics with his new son add lighthearted touches to the story, and the gossipy hairdressers infuse fun, too. 
 
Romances aren’t exactly unpredictable, but while you might be able to see the end of Abby’s story, nobody could predict the twists and turns she and Bo meet along the way.  It’s those unexpected events that make this such a memorable story and that prove Clopton’s skill as a writer.  I love the way that she wrapped up each thread.  The realistic way that she described Abby’s emotions as she healed from the loss of her husband made the story incredibly vivid.  While I cannot relate personally, Clopton made me ache alongside Abby and rejoice at her healing.  Counting on a Cowboy is an extremely well-written story and even better than the previous one; I can only expect greatness from the final book in the series.
 
 
 
Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra’s goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.
 
Find Debra online: website, Facebook, Twitter
 
I received a free copy of Counting on a Cowboy from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Spanish Curriculum on Sale Now!

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I’ve just been introduced to a new Spanish curriculum, and we’re excited to be using it this year!  I’ll have lots more to share about it in the months to come, but it’s on sale right now.  You can get 20% all store products today!!

 

Initially speaking, this curriculum makes use of short, entertaining videos with Spanish-speaking kids as the actors.  Vocabulary words are written throughout the video, adding to the visual impact of the video.  Quizzes, workbooks, and flashcards are also available.

If you’re in the market for Spanish lessons for your kids, check out Spanish for Kids by Kids now!

 

 

Hearts for Home Blog Hop – August 27, 2015

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Hearts for Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked posts from last week were Disney’s Descendants Movie Review.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

– Writing Activities for Middle Grades

Washington, D.C. for Families on a Budget

Vibrant Homeschooling Ultimate List of Kids Audio

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping!

Hearts for Home Blog Hop


“Irish Meadows” by Susan Anne Mason

 

Faced with an uncertain future, sometimes all you have left is the courage to dream.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he’s put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry—as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O’Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father’s machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?  

 

 Susan Anne Mason has hit it out of the ballpark with her debut novel Irish MeadowsThe plot’s twists and turns will keep you guessing even as you fall in love with the O’Leary family, and though it’s labeled a historical romance, it’s so  much more than a love story.

Brianna wants a relationship with Gilbert even though her father has forbidden it, but that’s not all that she wants:  she wants to attend college, and that’s not a popular move among New York’s upper crust.  Colleen wants a relationship but isn’t ready to be serious about anything but herself, which is a problem for her father, because he’s all about putting the family first.  These complex relationships mix and collide and explode over and over again in the book, and Mason excels at pulling your heartstrings for each character in turn. 

Not only are the O’Leary’s wanting to find love, but their quest for happiness takes them on spiritual journeys, as well.  Although I expected Brianna and Gilbert to be the leading characters, in this realm Colleen shone brightly.  Her secret past and romantic troubles create a strong desire for spiritual peace, and Mason plays out this plot line in an unusual yet suspenseful way.

While I loved this Irish history and rich setting, my favorite element of this story was the cast of characters.  Because they shared the limelight and the strong plot lines, Mason’s characters shared in the drama and kept the emotional action high.  I enjoyed reading about this likeable family, except for one character, who made only rare appearances in this book.  That makes the sequel that  much more exciting since it will tell his story – and I can’t wait to read it.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 

Susan Anne Mason’s debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Authors Chapter of RWA. A member of ACFW, as well, she lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children. Find Susan online: website, Facebook, Twitter

 

I received a free copy of Irish Meadows from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

10 Adventure Stories for Elementary Readers

Disclosure Pic   10 Adventure Stories for Elementary Readers @ A Nest in the Rocks   My kids love to read adventure stories, and I love how enthused they get about reading when they find a good one.  There are also great lessons to be learned from adventure stories – lessons about being brave in the face of danger, of trusting God when the path is unknown, and of embracing new things, among others.   There are the character-building lessons and literature ideas you learn from these books, too. So for the past month I’ve read lots and lots of kids’ books to find the perfect ones for our book club meetings and school plans.  these yet, they should be added to your TBR pile immediately. 1.  Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein  This story features middle-school characters but is I’ve tested out many more books than I’ve chosen, too, because I’m a picky reader, and I have high expectations for what my kids read.  The following list includes my most favorite adventure stories for upper elementary readers, though, and if you haven’t read clean and fun.  The characters are involved in a Survivor-like contest in a high-tech new library and must figure out an escape from a series of well-formulated clues to win an enormous price.  2.  Capture the Flag by Kate Messner  This is the first book in a trilogy about a secret society of people descended from the world’s greatest artists and whose mission it is to protect their ancestors’ work from  those who seek to steal or destroy it.  The main characters are  three unlikely kids, all with different skills and talents, who work together to bring down some serious art thieves.  3.  The Secret Island by Enid Blyton  This is another first-in-a-series, this time about kids who are living in poor foster situations and decide to run away together to live on an island in the middle of a nearby lake.  They build shelters, cook for themselves, store food for the winter, and otherwise survive on their own for months.  It’s a great story of survival skills and working together. 4. The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein  This Grabenstein book also features older characters and touts great literature.  How real are the things we imagine?  Can our imaginations fuel real change to our world?  These themes are explored when the main character writes himself into many classic stories and barely escapes with his life over and over again.  5.  The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone  This first book, and the three that follow it, follow two kids through adventures through time, righting wrongs and learning about history.  Their time travels are centered around the Sixty-Eight Rooms, a real exhibit in a Chicago museum.  Find out how to turn this story into a real learning adventure here.  6.  George Washington’s Socks by Elvira Woodruff  I’ve always had a thing for time travel, as evidenced by several of these choices, but that’s because it’s a great vehicle for bringing the excitement of history alive.  Woodruff does that in this story by sending a group of friends back in time to the night that Washington crossed the Delaware.  In the melee, they are helped by Native Americans, run into Redcoats, are captured by Hessians, and rescued by Patriots.  How much more excitement could you handle in one night??   7.  Honus and Me by Dan Gutman  While time travel is my thing, sports are not – and yet I love this series.  The main character, a tween boy, has the ability to travel through time with old baseball cards, and in each book of the series he travels to a different time and place, meeting the old greats and trying to correct wrongs – all while learning about the history of baseball.  Of course, things never go as planned, and he’s captured by mobsters, lost without money, chased by angry managers, and much more.   Find out how to turn this story into a real-life learning adventure here.  8.  Edison’s Gold by Geoff Watson  This is one of my son’s favorite books.  When Thomas Edison’s a-bunch-of-greats-grandson learns of his ancestor’s secret discovery, he and his friends race to find and save it – before the competition destroys his family.  With explosions, chase scenes, and neat science tricks, it’s a super fun story – and you’ll learn something, too. Find out how to turn this story into a real-life adventure here.

 9.  Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach  This story, and the rest of the trilogy, explore the mysterious past of a real mountain range in Arizona.  With legends abounding, as well as a race to find a lost gold mine, you won’t be able to put this series down.

 10.  Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett  This story will make you think, as the author combines history, art, and philosophy – but she does so amidst the biggest art heist in history, and when some kids discover the trail to the thief, adventures fly.  Find out more about how to turn this book into a learning adventure here.    

 

Do your kids like adventure stories?  Which are their favorites?  

Hearts for Home Blog Hop – August 20, 2015

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Hearts for Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked posts from last week were Gregory the Terrible Eater Read-Aloud and Free Printables.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were: – 8 Frugal Fall Fun Activities

Favorite Math Curriculum – Pre/K to High School

Giving Away! Lilla Rose Flexi-Cli And Headband

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping! Hearts for Home Blog Hop