The Friday Find

Borax is my new favorite thing. Stains I can’t get out of clothing? Toss it into the washer on soak cycle with some Borax – gone. Stinky diapers not coming perfectly clean? Soak them in Borax before running a normal wash. Fresh. Cutting the grease off our stove after making homemade poppers (terrible I know but they’re so good!) for my hubby? All-purpose cleaner made with … you guessed it! …. Borax. Greasy pans, crusty dishes, stinky stains in the car – Borax. I love it. It’s making my life a lot easier!

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Last night I agreed to make the cheesecakes for our church’s annual members dinner. Thank goodness the calendar for next week was pretty empty to begin with because its certainly full now! It looks like 8 cheesecakes will ensure that everyone will get a slice. Now to decide what kinds to make… graham cracker or brownie crust, plain (for the traditionalist, of course), chocolate, chocolate swirl, strawberry swirl (or do I just slice fresh strawberries and arrange them on top?!) … decisions, decisions.

The (late) Friday Find

I want to share my thoughts on our curriculum – Adventures in My Father’s World. It contains Bible, history, science and geography (as well as art and music if you choose to add it).

History – We’ve been using these two books for our main lesson time. One is in more of a textbook style and the other is stories about the people, usually children, who lived through the historic events we’re studying. Both are written from a Christian worldview and there are mentions of God in each lesson. There is a different topic each week and are building a time line through our school room. We started with the Vikings, then Columbus. Week three was Jamestown and this coming week is Native Americans. It continues on from there until the last lesson where each student writes a letter to the President. Nothing too in depth or weighty for these little ones but each lesson is a great, age-appropriate overview of the topic. There are also several smaller books for reading aloud, seen here.

Reading – Apart from the daily history lessons in which there is always reading, the teacher’s manual also schedules read aloud time each day. The books for it may be purchased in the Deluxe package or borrowed from the library. They all tell stories of people from the time period we are studying that week. I would highly recommend buying the read aloud books if you are able. They are great books for a homeschooling library. This has become a great calm-down time for my girls. We read after the baby is in bed at night so we have time to discuss what they’ve learned.

Book Basket – The feature that my girls have come to love about MFW is the book basket. Each day there is a slot of time (how long is determined by mom) for reading books on the topic we’re learning about in history or science. At the back of the teacher’s manual there are two books lists – one for Book Basket (listed by week/topic, each fully reviewed by the authors of the curriculum. They also give little side notes like ‘ Good for independent reader’ etc. so you can gauge which books would suite your child) and another list for independent reading time (listed by reading skill level, again all reviewed by the authors). It is a huge blessing to me to know that the books Lael is reading are appropriate.

Geography – The basic package comes with a place mat sized map that has the US on one side and the world on the other. We started the school year reviewing the continents and bodies of water. Now as we travel through American history, the paths taken by all the great explorers are coming to life as the girls can look at it on the maps. As we continue, the geography/history unit will focus on each of the 50 states. I believe there are two states done each week and the students learn basic facts and geography.

Science – We love our little science books so far. Nothing intimidating, nothing complex. Just basic “this is the world around you” science. So far we’ve learned about how air affects us, even though we can’t see it. Experiments are simple, using things you’d have around the house. The girls love it.

Bible – The Bible curriculum for the year revolves around the names of Jesus. The students make a poster of the names, using the reproducibles in the back of the teacher’s manual. I like that the lesson contain a good amount of Scripture while not being too heavy for young minds.

My Father’s World also recommends the following:

Singapore Math – I cannot communicate enough how much I love Singapore Math. It is clear, no nonsense math with great review and practice for new topics. It is definitely a very advanced math curriculum though and if you are planning on using it, please have your child take the placement tests. For example, Singapore expects a child to know basic multiplication and division by the end of grade 1. I found this to be quite a few months ahead of other curriculum we’d used and looked at.

Primary Language Lessons – I love this little book. If your child is not reading comfortably, it may not serve you as well as it could. Lael is a good reader so this book is really great for teaching punctuation, grammar and memorization. She memorized a poem last week! And loved it! Each lesson is very short, allowing time for slow and complete learning. The teacher’s manual suggests 2-3 lessons per week. We’ve gone a little slower than that (mainly due to the time we were spending on phonics) but I’d like to be using this more often.

Spelling by Sound and Structure
– I’m waiting for these books to arrive so I can’t give a full review on them. From what I’ve seen online, it is a basic spelling curriculum – no frills, just learning to spell. We began the year using Saxon Phonics 2 and while I know many parents who love it this program just didn’t work for us. Lael is already a very comfortable reader and never learned to code spelling words. It was torture for both of us to go backwards and try to learn something in a different way that she already knew how to do.

For Alyssa, we’re using Saxon Phonics K – which is great for her – and a simple math book from Walmart. She participates in all the Adventures lessons.

So for my first year buying “real” curriculum, I am so pleased. I fully plan on using My Father’s World curriculum for years to come.

Friday

I forgot about the Friday Find.

Whoops.

I want to do a full review of our curriculum (Katie posted a great review also) as well as blog my thoughts on cloth diapering. But we’re hosting a debate watching party tonight, I’ve got zucchini bread in the oven, a batch of bread dough rising and we did a full grocery shopping this morning. We also visited with our honey guy and stopped at the library.

I’m tired. So the reviews will have to wait.

finding

I love chicken pot pie. LOVE it. Its the ultimate comfort food to me. I made it last week on one of those first feels-like-fall days but forgot to take pics of each step. No measurements on anything, just a general, step-by-step of the easiest casserole I make.

First, I put frozen chicken (bone-in or boneless) in enough water to cover it and let it simmer away for a few hours. Add carrots, onions, some garlic and a bay leaf with salt and pepper to taste.

Then I take out the chicken and strain the broth. Put the carrots and onions aside. Dice the cooked chicken and set aside.

Dice celery, potatos and half an onion. Saute them until soft.

Add in the chicken with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mix well with the veggies. Now would be the time to add any canned or frozen veggies also. Let everything warm up before continuing.

Sprinkle the veggie/chicken mix with enough flour to coat everything. Mix it well. Slowly pour in the reserved broth, whisking it in. Add a little at a time, stirring until its fully incorporated. You can also now add the cooked carrots and onions from the broth if you wish. Add enough broth to make a pan full of gravy/chicken/veggie mix. Let simmer on low while you make a biscuit crust. I usually make a double batch of biscuits so I can really cover the whole pan. Roll or pat the biscuits to a desired thickness. I’d say about a half to three-quarters of an inch. We like our crusts around here…

Pour the bubbling chicken mixture into a casserole dish.

Slowly pick up the crust and lay it over the dish. Cut off an excess and make into pretty leaf or heart cut-outs for the top of your delicious dinner.

Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes until bubbly and golden on top. I’m terrible with times so this may be more like 30 minutes. I’m not really sure.

Let cool before dipping into it so the gravy has time to thicken up. Enjoy!