Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Timberdoodle Review: You GOT to Try These Maps!

WONDERMAPS! Doesn't that say it all?! World maps, United States maps, historical maps, and even THEMATIC maps, this CD from Bright Ideas Press covers it! Easy to point-and-click to customize maps for just about everything "geographical"! We LOVE LOVE it! You know it's a keeper when the kids want to continue using it even when the "assignment" is completed! 

I was able to quickly upload the WonderMaps software to my computer (and found out I also needed to update my "ancient" Adobe reader LOL), and just let the kids explore! 
J and C Explore Wondermaps Together
After clicking around in the different sections - World, United States, Historical, and Thematic - C created an Antarctic map, customizing the details with the layers sidebar easily and quickly. 
C with her Antarctic WonderMap
Now, S didn't want to be left out! He wanted a map of Asia! After removing several layers of information to his liking, he printed out his map too. 
S with his Asia WonderMap
My camera wasn't liking the light inside my livingroom this morning, but I think you can definitely see all the details these maps provide. And this was printed on "economy"!
S's Asia WonderMap Up Close
Here's what I like as a homeschool Mom:
  • Ease of use! The kids didn't even need to watch the tutorial, but there is one for the rest of us! LOL
  • Many different types of maps! I can DEFINITELY see using this program a lot during our History and even Science studies this coming year for ALL 3 kids. North American Explorers and the states here we come!
  • Customizing! My oldest son (12) likes lots of details in EVERYTHING, but maps especially. My younger son (6) visually likes simpler ones. A definite plus to be able to use the layers sidebar and create maps that meet the needs of different students!
  • The Teacher's Guide provides additional mapping activities such as "50 Bright Ideas for Using Outline Maps", "How to Make a Salt Dough Map" and "16 Mapping Projects" to add more Geography fun to WonderMaps.
  • Maps for Mystery of History and All American History curriculum. Although we don't use these curricula, it's convenient having them there for "just in case".

Final Rating (out of 5 ★s) : ★ ★ ★ ★ (It missed 1 ★ because we wished it had more topographical details, more rivers and cities, and more ocean islands mapped.)

For more information about this GREAT interactive product, click here.

Check out all the wonderful curricula, puzzles, games, and kits by requesting a free Timberdoodle catalog or joining up on Facebook!

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle Blogger Review Team, I receive free products in exchange for a frank and unbiased review on Our Side of the Mountain. These reviews are my own personal thoughts and opinions as well as my childrens'. For more product information and current prices, please visit the Timberdoodle website.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Glimpse of Our Week: August 20-26


In My Life This Week 
The garden continues to grow. The carrots are still "doing their thing". A banana pepper is  ripening. The 2nd crop of peas and beans have sprouted. Two squashes are growing on their vines. J harvested some of his basil from the garden and used it to add a fresh taste to store-bought tomato sauce. And we enjoyed 2 yummy cucumbers, the first of the year. 

In Our Homeschool This Week 
S discovered our BIG United States puzzle this week and put it together over and over. He's recognizing the shapes and areas of many states now!

We continued to work on the kids' 4H posters for the upcoming fair. S completed his poster, but J and C have a little more work to do. My goal is to be finished by the end of next week so that we can focus on our new curriculum the first couple weeks back-to-school.
My Pet Chickens
Places We Went and People We Saw
  • On Saturday we went to the library summer reading program's final celebration. The kids each earned a book bag, a $10 Walmart gift card and a make-your-own sundae. (So proud of all the books the kids read this summer! Check them out under the banner tabs!) We had Subway - FREE coupons! - at a shady playground and then played a couple games of bowling with Kids Bowl Free. (And no, I don't think it's a good idea to share MY scores! LOL) And in the evening J and C enjoyed a couple hours of basketball at the Rec Center.
  • While J and I were grocery shopping, A took C and S to the library for their book sale. They came back with some GREAT finds!
      • A and S went to a baseball game in the city. It was Bobble Head Night, so S was super excited to go!
      • My parents and 3-year-old niece stayed with us Tuesday - Friday. We spent a wonderful day near the lake, picnicking, swimming, watching the kids on the playground, and exploring the beach. For the first time this summer, we stopped and had some AWESOME frozen custard. 
      • Our "old" neighbor stopped by to check out the house they rent across the road. Her boys, ages 10, 7 and 3, came over to play Star Wars and climb our swing-set with the kids.
      My Favorite Thing(s) This Week 
      How can this not be my favorite thing?! The kids surprised me Sunday morning by bringing me breakfast in bed. Sort of. They missed me getting up so it was breakfast in the hallway, but the thought was DEFINITELY there! LOL  It came with a thank you note for our wonderful day at the library, Subway and bowling AND a clean livingroom. Nice, huh? 

      What's Working/Not Working for Us 
      Getting locked out of the van! Would you believe that before J went off to Mt Katahdin and Culinary Camp, I joked with him about asking me if I had my keys EVERY TIME we hopped out of the van. Don't worry, J! I haven't locked them in yet! But the first time you forget to remind me I'll surely do it! Guess who forgot to ask? And who left the keys in the ignition? It's nice having AAA!

      Photos, Link, Video,  or Quote to Share
      S and Chirp "Hangin' Out"
       Linking Up With
       Hip Homeschool Moms ButtonOurfamilyworld Science SundayClassified: MomThe Homeschool Mother's JournalMagical Mouse SchoolhouseWeird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

      Thursday, August 25, 2011

      Have Zucchini?

      Do you have LOADS of zucchini squash too? We didn't even plant any this season and we have a bunch! LOL (Thanks W and Mom!) What do YOU do with all of them?

      Now my kids don't like baked or even fried zucchini slices, so I'm mostly stuck with shredding it and adding it to chocolate brownie bars and quick breads.  (Or throwing it in soups and meatloaf. Shhhh!) Here are our favorite zuke recipes! Enjoy! (And leave a comment with YOUR favorite recipe(s) because I still have 3 HUGE ones left! Thanks!)
      Zucchini Quick Bread
      3 eggs
      3/4 c canola or veggie oil
      1 3/4 c sugar
      2 c grated zucchini
      1 t vanilla
      3 c flour
      1 t cinnamon
      2 t baking soda
      1/4 t baking powder
      1/2 t salt
      1/2 c chocolate chips (optional)
      1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

      Procedure: Mix together eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla. Add flour, cinnamon, soda, powder, and salt. Add chocolate chips and/or chopped walnuts. Pour into 1-2 greased loaf pans. (1 pan for a HIGH loaf or 2 pans for a lower loaf.) Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.

      Chocolate Zucchini Bars
      1 c shortening
      1/2 c canola or veggie oil
      1 3/4 c sugar
      1/2 c sour milk (scant 1/2 c milk + 1 T white vinegar)
      2 eggs
      1 t vanilla
      2 c grated zucchini
      2 1/2 c flour
      1/2 t baking soda
      1/2 t baking powder
      1/2 t salt
      4 T cocoa
      1/2 c chocolate chips

      Procedure: Cream together shortening, oil and sugar. Add sour milk, eggs and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. Mix in flour, soda, powder, salt, and cocoa. Pour into a greased 13x9 baking dish. Top with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

      Friday, August 19, 2011

      Weekly Wrap-up: August 13-19

      In My Life This Week
      Unplugged and under-scheduled! OK, I'm not QUITE unplugged! LOL However, I don't venture onto the laptop until the kids are nestled in bed. I am surprised at the kids though. Would you believe that I haven't heard Mom, I'm bored! since we started this? They seem CONTENTED with simplified days! And look at all that we've accomplished: 
      1. Cleaned up the kids' bedrooms, throwing away BAGS of old clothing, broken toys and trash, and donating BAGS of outgrown clothing, toys and unused items
      2. Organized 4 closets, including the entry closet and all those STINKY old sneakers
      3. Took the dog for long, relaxing walks through the woods, watched the chickens "free range", and caught wood frogs and peepers, grasshoppers and dragonflies
      4. Sat down to leisurely family meals without rushing off to TV, computer and video games
      5. Read TONS of books and the kids reread old "Your Big Backyard" and "Ranger Rick" magazines
      6. Created fun puppets and art from the "Art Junk Drawer", put together a few puzzles, created Lego masterpieces, and played board and card games
      7. C and S made, um, "improvements" to the treehouse with items they repurposed from the garage
        In Our Homeschool This Week
      We starting to put together our 4H posters to display at the upcoming agricultural fair. C decided to focus on "Backyard Botany", identifying wild plants in our own yard, while S - SURPRISE, SURPRISE! - did "My Pet Chickens".  (No photos yet, but soon!)

      The kids LOVE our Read Aloud, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, this week! Shiloh is a wonderful story about a boy's love of a dog and what he does to protect him from an uncaring owner. And if YOU would like a GREAT read, read Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood. I never did see the movie, but the book is a page-turner!

      Places We're Going and People We're Seeing
      • J spent the weekend hiking Mt Katahdin - Maine's highest peak - with the Boy Scouts and then turned right around and spent the week with my ILs, going to Advanced Culinary Camp. Hiking EXHAUSTED him, but he enjoyed the experience and learned LOTS at cooking camp. (I'm slowly phasing myself OUT of the kitchen! LOL)
      • J's friend T stayed with us for a couple of days while his parents were off on a Canadian vacation
      • C and S went to the final Rec Center free lunch
        My Favorite Thing This Week
        Hanging out at our little library. By myself. Searching through the ADULT SECTION and catching up on the newest bestsellers. And reading on the covered wraparound porch with a view of Main Street and the lake.
        What's Working/Not Working for Us Me
        An earlier, simpler bedtime routine for the kids. Getting the younger two settled in for the night by 8:00 and sending the oldest up at 9:00 lets me have a couple of hours of Mom Time. And a chance to watch TV I would rather THEY didn't see! (I do like Reality TV too much! LOL)
        Thoughts/Questions I Have
        When is my back-ordered curriculum going to arrive? J's Around in the World in 180 Days set hasn't shipped from Rainbow Resource yet! T minus 18 days to our first day back! I'm starting to "what if" plan, perhaps having him chose a period of time to study that interests him.
        Photos, Link, Video, or Quote to Share
        Meet our flock! I talked with our "egg donor" and found out our chicks are Barred Rocks, Partridge Rocks, and Americana. And the mystery chick with feathers growing out of the sides of her legs is probably Cochin-Americana. (The first chick is Black Eye! I somehow forgot to write the name on the photo!) Any guesses as to who's a rooster? Our friend thinks they're ALL hens! Getting 10-for-10 out of incubated eggs is like winning the lottery! (Somehow I don't think we won the Chicken Lottery with the sounds coming out of Ewok this morning!)
        Linking up to:
        Weird Unsocialized HomeschoolersHip Homeschool Moms ButtonOurfamilyworld Science SundayClassified: MomThe Homeschool Mother's JournalMagical Mouse Schoolhouse