{Book Review & Giveaway!} Alone Yet not Alone

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My family loves history. We love books. We love reading books about history. I have always loved hearing and reading stories of the colonists and pioneers who built our country. When I saw that Alone Yet Not Alone was a novelization of real event in the family history of the author, I was eager to read it and share it with my family.

alone yet not alone image

Alone Yet Not Alone tells the story of Barbara and her sister Regina; how they were kidnapped yet did not lose faith.  Barbara draws her courage and her strength from her Christian Faith and does not lose sight of her goal to find her sister and be reunited with her mother and surviving brother.

Barbara and Regina are separated from each other and the book shares Barbara’s perspective. We join Barbara as she looks for escape from her captors, faces death and finds freedom.

From the Publisher: About the book:

Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America's new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. That is, until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French and Indian War and the devastating raid known as the Penn's Creek Massacre.

The lives of this simple, God-fearing family are forever altered when Barbara and Regina, two young sisters, are carried away by the Delaware tribe. Driven by their faith in God and the powerful bonds of family, Barbara and Regina hold firmly to the belief that they are never alone, even in their darkest hour, and that they will be reunited again.

Rich in historical details, Alone Yet Not Alone is an inspirational, true story of a family caught in the cross fire of the French and Indian War.

Not only is this inspirational story a book, but it’s also a movie!  Awarded 5 Doves by the Dove Foundation, Alone Yet Not Alone opens in theaters September 27th!  The movie is based on the book.

Bring Alone Yet Not Alone to Your City: http://seatzy.com/main/moviedetail/alone-yet-not-alone

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aloneyetnotalone
Movie Twitter:
Movie Website:

movie image alone yet not alone

Alone Yet Not Alone, written by Tracy Leininger Craven, is published by ZonderKidz and is appropriate for children ages 8+.  It would make a great family read aloud and I enjoyed just reading it for fun myself! I enjoyed the storyline very much though I wish there were more details about what happened after the escape before they were found by the English and brought into the fort. The book also includes a page of discussion questions and a note from the author.  Thanks to FlyBy Promotions, I am pleased to be able to offer one fortunate reader their own copy of Alone Yet Not Alone!

The Fine Print

Giveaway sponsored by Flyby Promotions. All prizes distributed by sponsor not by hosting blogger. Open to US. Residents ages 18 and older. Giveaway ends on Wednesday at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. (8:59 pm Eastern Time). Winner will be selected using Rafflecopter. Winner will be notified by email and must respond to email within 72 hours or a new winner will be selected. All entries will be verified.  All unverifiable entries will be deleted.

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{Crew Review} Dolphins, Porpoises, & Whales a Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child

Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of lap booking and the very first lap books that my daughters completed were from In the Hands of a Child (HOAC). More recently, I’ve rediscovered using lap books with Supergirl. She loves all things relating to “under the sea” so I knew she would love the Dolphins, Porpoises, & Whales Project Pack,

HOAC Review Collage

What is a Project Pack/Lap Book:

A Project Pack from HOAC includes a research guide and a set of hands on activities. According to the website, HOAC was the original lap book company! Lap books are also called project packs, shutter books, file folder games and the list goes on! HOAC defines a lapbook or project pack as:

What is a Lapbook?

  • A 3-D presentation of what the child learned during her study
  • A collection of mini books and graphic organizers pulled together into a series of file folders
  • A hands-on approach to learning, replacing worksheets or other monotonous learning tools
  • A scrapbook
  • A unit study
  • A portfolio

At HOAC a project pack comes in a variety of styles and formats such as e-book, or physical, Lapbook or Note Pack, but they all include the research guide and activities for a hands-on-learning experience.

Using a lap book from Hands of a Child:

I think there are many ways to use a project pack from using it alone as written with no extras to using it as a supplement to another curriculum with lots of flexibility for anything in-between!

Completing a lapbook requires some basic supplies such as file folders, brads, and glue.  I am particularly found of using colored paper (not construction paper but regular colored printer paper) to bring color to the black and white graphics of the activity pages. I also really love using a bonefolder tool for creating sharp, crisp folds.

Picture of supplies needed such as bonefolder, file folder and glue

We ended up not using pencils (regular or color) because the Dolphins, Porpoises & Whales lapbook included pre-written text ready to use as well as dotted text for tracing. We opted for using the pre-written text pieces.  I decided that I preferred using rubber cement to attach the file folders together and for gluing the mini-books to the folders. We loved using the glue stick to adhere the answers to the graphics.

Image of text options for lapbook


Things I really love about In the Hands of a Child Project Packs:

  • The Resource Guide ~ All the information you need for completing the activities can be found in this guide.  This also includes an alphabetical listing of the vocabulary words with their definitions.
  • The Planning Guide ~ This simple 1 page chart lists out which vocabulary words, Guide Reading and which activities to complete.  I love that I didn’t have to page through the guide to find the vocabulary for that day’s scheduled activities. 
  • The Choices! ~  I can choose from different formats such as physical or e-book and for some of the project packs, I can choose lapbook style or note pack style. But I particularly love that within this particular lapbook I can choose between dotted text or pre-filled out.

creating lapbook Collage


Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like the lapbook. It is fun to glue all the stuff in. It’s fun to do it. I like gluing. I like whales.  I learned that whales and dolphins swim by moving their tail up and down. I like doing the memory cards [mom notes these are the vocabulary cards we created as part of activity 1]. I learned the word prey means an animal that gets eaten by other animals. I want to do more lapbooks.

Completed  Collage


My Thoughts:

Lapbooks are an excellent way to add extra depth and hands on creativity to any study. With the current August sale, I am contemplating picking up a few more lapbooks for Supergirl for this school year.

I do wish, however, that HOAC included a suggested layout for the mini-books. We did not put the activity booklets into the file folder until the end because we needed to play with the arrangement. I would love a page that suggests a layout so that we could place those completed activities into the file folder immediately.

I also wish that there were pictures or something more to help explain how to create some of the mini-books. Sometimes I would read the instructions such as “fold in half like a greeting card” and I’d wonder if I should fold it in half vertical which made it seem to skinny to me or horizontal. Some of the Flap Books were easy to figure out but I messed up the Opposite Book.  A picture or drawing of the completed book would have been very helpful.

Overall, Supergirl enjoys and benefits from this form of learning and we will continue to use lapbooking in our studies this school year. I already own several such as Clownfish Adventure and I will be adding those to her schedule.

Supergirl holds her completed lapbook

The Details:

  • The Vendor:  In the Hands of a Child
  • The Product:  Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales
  • Formats Available: e-book (what I received), Print, CD or combo.
  • The Price: $12.00
  • Suggested Age Range:  Grades K-4th
  • SPECIAL PRICING NOTE: HOAC is having a special through August 31st 2013. All e-book format curriculum is on sale for least 50% off. This project pack is only $5!


Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about several different project packs from In the Hands of a Child.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

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{Blog Cruise}NOT Cooking in the Summer!

Here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest we melt when it gets over 80 degrees.  I know we’re pretty wimpy here.  In summer we like to grill or use the crock pot.  Grilling doesn’t heat up the house at all except for maybe the rice cooker.  I like using the crock pot in the summer because it doesn’t heat up the house like the oven does but sometimes it’s even too hot to use the crock pot!  This week the Schoolhouse Review Crew is blogging recipes with the idea that It’s Too Hot to Cook!

I’m going to link to some different recipe posts I’ve done.  This first one is for my Tuna Macaroni Salad.  Yes you have to cook the pasta but I cook the pasta in the morning because my kitchen is relatively cool in the morning and very hot in the afternoon with the sun coming through the skylight. 

Tuna Macaroni Salad

I like serving fresh fruit as the side dish for pasta salads.  Two other popular-around-my-house summer salads are my Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad.  I don’t have a separate blog post recipe for you but basically it’s grilled chicken (when we grill chicken I always do extra just to have on hand for this salad!), whatever-shape-pasta you want (I usually choose penne for this one!), bacon bits and a ranch dressing.  I usually take a bottle of ranch dressing and mix it with sour cream to get the consistency I want.  For some unknown reason I always have to serve this with either Rainier Cherries or Red grapes.

I also make a Vegetable Pasta Salad.  Again making the pasta (for this one I tend to use rotini.) in the morning means I don’t have to cook in the heat of the afternoon.  I chop up broccoli, carrots, bell peppers (green and whatever color I might have on hand) and cut cherry tomatoes in half.  I’ll add cubed mozzarella cheese and sliced pepperoni and toss the whole thing with an Italian Salad Dressing.  Like the other salads this one just cries for fruit as a side dish. 

What if you want something more “real” or “comforting” than a pasta salad but you don’t want something too heavy?  How about a French Dip Sandwich?  I use my Super Easy Crock Pot Roast beef recipe.  In the winter I might do some oven fries but not in the summer.  In the summer I like to serve coleslaw as a side dish and (ready for this?) fruit of course!  In the summer if it is too hot, we skip toasting the sandwich rolls but if it isn’t unbearable it doesn’t take long to broil them in the oven.  Sometimes for variety I do Pork Roast Dip instead of Beef.

Of course there’s always my favorite:  Take Out!  One of the things I love about this area: plenty of Teriyaki Take-Out places!

What do you like to prepare in the summer when it’s too hot to cook?  Check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise on Tuesday to see what other crew members are [not] cooking this summer!



Random 5 on Friday {August 16th Edition)

Some weeks these Random 5 on Friday posts are very easy to do; on those weeks I seem to have more to say than just 5 random things.  Then there is weeks like this one.  What did I do this week?

1. A friend of mine from church frequently shops at Goodwill and I keep meaning to take her advice and visit on a Monday.  On Sundays and Mondays Goodwill has one color tag that is $1.29.  Doesn’t matter what it is.  Throughout the whole week there will be one color tag that is 50% off.  I took two teens in search of clothes.  I got two shirts and skirt and my 14 year old got a skirt and a pair of shorts. My oldest purchased some things as well but not one of us found an item for $1.29.  We had the cart loaded with lots of items to try on but alas many things looked better on the hanger than on us.  (I love my new skirt though it is a little too big.)

2. I was warned that zucchini plants can be quite prolific. I think those people lied. Two plants and I only have one poor zucchini. I think Honeybear planted them too close together. We both agree they should have been watered and weeded more.  *Sigh*  I really wanted lots and lots of zucchini.

3. It’s really bad for you.  I know it’s really bad for you.  But *sigh* my most favorite pizza in all the world is Pizza Hut Pepperoni Lover’s Pan Pizza. I’m craving pizza. Pan Pizza. This.is.not.good.

4. I should think about when the first day of school should be. I should maybe even make some lesson plan stuff in Homeschool Tracker. Summer is rapidly disappearing.  If I keep putting off the school planning does that mean I can put off the end of summer?

5. I am really excited to get a chance to play and then review The Presidential Game. It should be shipping soon.  Review won’t be until September though :D

The Pebble Pond

Come check out this week’s edition of Random 5 on Friday!


The Dolphins by Supergirl

We’ve been studying Dolphins, Porpoises, & Whales a Project Pack from Hands of a Child. (Look for my review early next week!). Supergirl loves all things to do with the sea and oceans.

One of the activities is called Dolphin Story.  I was going to skip it. I wasn’t sure she was up to writing a story but she wanted to write a “story poem” (um, nope, I don’t know what that means but it means something to her!).

With very little prompting from me this is what she wrote:

The Dolphins

By Supergirl

The Dolphins live in the sea. They keep swimming. They like playing fish games like fish tag. The Mom told the kids, “play in the water not go to the sharks” or the sharks will eat them. The kid dolphins played a game of Go Fish.  The Dolphins play restaurant and then they play tag again. They had fun!

The End


She is so proud of her book! She demanded that Daddy read it.  Then she took it to each of her sisters so that they would read it.

It’s moments like this that make home schooling so very very worth it!


{Crew Review} Bible Study Guide for All Ages: Primary Level

We began investigating home schooling when my oldest child was 14 months old. When she was not quite 3, we were introduced to Bible Study Guide for All Ages (BSGFA).  We were far from ready for it but I filed it away as something I knew I wanted to use. We did use Bible Study Guide for All Ages Unit 1 and Unit 2 with all four girls (well mostly Supergirl just hung out with us) but I didn’t use any of the student pages.  The Primary Level didn’t even exist back then!

Knowing how much I loved BSGFA, and wanting to use it again with Supergirl, I was excited to use and review The Primary Level (with both student pages and teacher guide) along with the Bible Book Summary Cards and Children’s Songs CD.  

What is Bible Study Guide for All Ages?: 

This is a comprehensive Bible curriculum that allows you to teach all ages the same topic.  There are 4 units that each cover 104 lessons.  Lessons are numbered 1-416 which emphasizes, in my opinion, the idea that it is one complete comprehensive program even if it is sold in smaller bite size chunks. If you follow the suggested pace of 2 lessons per week, each unit will last one calendar year! Students cover some of the Old Testament and some of the New Testament each year.

How does BSGFA Work?:

The Lessons focus on a Bible person, Joseph, Daniel, Jesus, or Adam to name a few from Unit 1. (Visit the website to view the complete Order of Study). A Lesson is divided into several parts labeled A-F:

  • A ~ Review: This section contains a few questions that reviews material from previous lessons.  Some questions are true/false.  At the Primary Level some require matching, or labeling or have instructions such as “Draw a box around Jacob’s favorite son.”
  • B ~ Memory Work:  I think this is my favorite section! Also in this section is the Suggested Song. This is the section where your student (or if you’re like me) and you will memorize things such as the 12 sons of Jacob. The Teacher Book for Primary Level will also remind you which Bible Book Summary Card to review.  There are “drills” in this section such as a memory matching game. All the memory work songs and suggested Bible songs are available on the Children’s Song CD.

  • C ~ Things to Know: In this section you will teach definitions or explain background information. It’s ok if you don’t know because the Teacher Guide tells you!
  • D ~ Today’s Bible Text: This is the heart of the lesson.  You read (or if you have a student who can read reads) the text. The student page section D has  numbered boxes that correspond to parts of the text.  The Teachers Guide lists instructions for completing those activities which include things such as matching, underlining, coloring or even filling in letters. At the end of section D are review questions specific to that day’s reading.
  • E ~ Time Line or Map: At the Primary Level section E alternates between timeline work or map work.  The student pages contain the map or time line and the TG gives instruction for those and includes instructions for the optional Wall Time Line or Wall Map (these items were not reviewed by the crew).
  • F ~ Apply It! This is my least favorite section. This section takes one or two verses from the Bible text for the lesson and attempts to find a way to use it to apply a concept. I dislike this section because because it feels forced and unnatural. Some good principles are listed in this section but I would not have chosen those particular verses as supporting text.

There is also a Get Active! Section for each lesson.  These are listed after section C, however, some lessons state to save this section until after you’ve completed F Apply It!.

Using BSGFA:

As home schooling families we have the freedom to adapt any curriculum we use.  Bible Study Guide for All Ages is a versatile and flexible program that lends itself easily to adaption. I started out doing a lesson in one sitting with Supergirl but decided that we preferred to break up each lesson over two days.  This gave us the chance to do Bible most days of the week (I like doing Bible daily) and still complete two lessons a week. Of course some might choose to do a full lesson a day and still do Bible everyday.

My break down looked like this:

Day 1:  Sections A, B, C, and E
Day 2:  Repeat section B then do D and F along with the Get Active if I liked that activity.

By repeating Section B (Memory Work) Supergirl got to spend more time listening to the Children’s Song CD.

Many of the Get Active sections are geared for the classroom.  It is difficult to generate discussion with only one student so I often skipped the activity.  These would be great though in a co-op or Sunday School setting.

I only have one student currently using BSGFA.  Using the Primary Level Student Pages along with the Primary Teacher Guide is working well for us. If you have more than one student that you’d like to teach using BSGFA, I suggest checking out this page that outlines all the options for teaching multiple students.

My Thoughts:

I really appreciate that this curriculum does not overtly teach theology. It teaches Bible facts such as “how many brothers did Joseph have?”, “What are the two parts of the Bible?”,  or “Name the 4 types of New Testament books.” I also appreciate that I can use whatever Bible I want. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I do have to do some tweaking such as order and number of Old Testament Books in the Bible. Since I use an Orthodox Study Bible, this is not a problem. I can use BSGFA as a teaching tool. One final thought, I do wish that both the Student Pages and the Teacher’s Guide had cardstock or cardboard covers. I just wish they were a little more sturdy.

The Details:

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew could choose from several different levels. Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about the different Bible Study Guide for All Ages Levels.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.

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Random 5 on 5 {August 9th Edition}

Yup, I missed last week and the August 2nd Edition so I’m going to combine two weeks of Random Thoughts.

1.  August 2nd would have been my maternal Grandmother’s 100th birthday. She’s been gone 10 years now.  She died just a few days before 90th birthday in 2003.  BooBear and I were able to fly back for the funeral and for the annual family picnic at Como Park.

2.  August 2nd also marked the 2 month anniversary of my husband’s heart attack. He’s doing so much better. Especially now that he’s had some adjustments to his medication. He’s able to do more though he still has to be careful not to overdo it.  Recovery has been slow but steady! He’s even been able to serve in the altar again and he’s started taking his turn doing the Epistle reading.


3.  Supergirl got to be a flower girl in a wedding. The other three girls got to help out at the reception by serving punch.




4.  We harvested our carrots! They taste wonderful. We lost our tomato plants (we should have staked them!) but we’re trying to salvage the green tomatoes.  We’ll see how that goes.


5. The girls went with our church youth group on an overnight visit to the mountains.  They went on a 9 mile hike!  (I am told it was 4 1/2 miles to the lake and then 4 1/2 miles back.)



The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


{DVD Crew Review} Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura

I remember riding my bike every week to the library and choosing the books form the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I had read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books; my favorite was The Long Winter.  Because I loved the Little House books so much, I faithfully watched Ma, Pa, Laura and the other girls every week on the tv show Little House on the Prairie.  I began reading aloud the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my girls when they were in early elementary. Daddy took over when we got to Farmer Boy. Farmer Boy remains a very special family favorite because that’s the book that convinced Honeybear that Laura wasn’t just for little girls. I have passed on my love of all things Laura to a few of my girls, so of course we had to express very high interest in reviewing Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura DVD from Legacy Documentaries.

This documentary tells the story of “the heartwarming childhood of America’s favorite farmer boy.”   Dean Butler, who portrayed Almanzo Wilder from 1979 to 1983 on the television series Little House on the Prairie produced and directed this movie as well as serving as narrator. 53 minutes in length, the dvd uses still photos, drawings and actors to tell the story of Almanzo or to re-enact scenes from the book Farmer Boy.  We learn some of the Wilder family history and a bit about life in America at that time.  Executive Product/Narrator Dean Butler even guides us through some comparison of Almanzo’s life and Laura’s life.

In addition to the main documentary Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura there is a 12 minute clip about the Wilder Farm today: how it was restored and what activities they offer.

About the Documentary (Description provided by BooBear):

This Documentary focuses on the book Farmer Boy. It talks about Almanzo as a boy from the time period of that book. It goes into detail on his family. Who his parents were and what life was like at that time. You were able to see the Wilder homestead and what it was like when Almanzo lived there. They showed some of tools and activities that he would have done. It also talked about the cultural differences of today verses then. They also discussed the messages that Laura send through the book.

Enjoying the DVD:

In my reviews I often have a heading that says “Using Product XYX” but we didn’t use this dvd so much as we enjoyed watching this DVD. We are not currently studying that time period for history, nor are we currently reading Farmer Boy.  I think this documentary would be an excellent supplement for American Pioneer History or as a way to study Farmer Boy in-depth but it’s also just a really enjoyable video for those that love Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Supergirl and BooBear, inspired by the DVD, decided to grab some Legos, dollhouse things and some farm animals and create their own homestead.  I love that they didn’t just watch the DVD but incorporated the information in their imaginative play. Here’s Supergirl with the barn and “field”.



Thoughts from BooBear (age 18, devoted Laura Ingalls Wilder fangirl):

I really enjoyed watching this. I was expecting it to have more about Almanzo that was not mentioned in the books. Otherwise I really enjoyed learning about the Wilder family homestead. There was a lot of interesting information in the video about the times and how people lived. They also talked a lot about what the book was trying to tell people about life. It was interesting. 

Thoughts from Turtlegirl:

Even though I am definitely not a fan of the Little House on the Prairie Series, it was still interesting to see what events shaped Farmer Boy, and little details one can learn from it. Farmer Boy was my favorite of the Little House books, so I liked getting more information on it. It was ‘tolerable, I suppose’ but not something I personally would go out of my way to watch. [Mom note:  Turtlegirl has a distaste for all things Laura Ingalls Wilder because she was “forced by BooBear to always have to play Mary and never got to be Laura” in their playtime.]

Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like it. It was fun to watch. My favorite part was his bossy sister told him to work. I have a bossy sister, too.  He was trying to train the horses.  That was his father’s job. His father didn’t want him to do it. I also like the part where he gets his horse and he gets to train him. Then he’s not a little boy. I like watching this with my sister because we play Little House.

The Details:



Some of the Review Crew reviewed Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura and others reviewed Little House on the Prairie the Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what they have to say about these DVDs.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.


Making my Favorite Snack: Popcorn

This week for Lisa’s Try a New Recipe Tuesday, I’m talking about Making my Favorite Snack: Popcorn. Sometimes I think the main reason I went to the movies when I was younger, was just for the popcorn.  In fact when I worked at the mall, I would sometimes stop at the movie theater just to buy popcorn! There was something about “Movie Theater Popcorn” that just could not be replicated at home.  And the microwave “movie theater butter” flavor? Um no. It just isn’t. Besides being incredibly bad for your with all those chemicals, it doesn’t taste (to me anyway) anything at all like the movie theater popcorn I ate on so many Friday nights.

I rarely go to the movie theater anymore and the last time I ate it, the popcorn just didn’t seem to be as good as I remembered. (Still way better than that nasty microwave stuff that is clearly mislabeled as “movie theater butter”.

Popcorn remains one of  my favorite snack foods.  I eat it less often than I use to but I still eat it several times a week. And I don’t feel guilty. Popcorn is not a refined food filled with refined white flour and white sugar.  I do have concerns about GMO corn products so I’m going to go back to purchasing this: Azure Organic Popcorn. (We used to order from Azure regularly. We’re taking little steps to get back to eating better.)

Tess’s Favorite Popcorn:

You will need:

One stir crazy popcorn popper (or a heavy pot with lid, or one of those stove top popcorn poppers that allow you to stir while it pops.) You could use an air popper but it won’t give you the same flavor because you need the oil.  The oil is the key!

Coconut Oil:  About 1 tablespoon for each 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels.  I use about 2 tablespoons:

Popcorn Kernels:  I always use at least 1/2 cup because my Stir Crazy is large

Better Butter:  (or just butter but better butter adds to the movie theater likeness and is healthier than just butter) About 2-3 tablespoons or to taste.  Melted.  Get my Better Butter Recipe here.

Salt: (I say salt but I never use plain old table salt. I usually use Med Sea Salt but lately I’ve been using Himalayan Pink Salt because [I hope] it has more minerals in it.) to taste. Just a little goes a long way.  Don’t use too much.  Just enough to “pop” the flavors! I like salt but too much really does ruin it.

Bowl:  I like using a bowl so that I can layer and then stir.

I always use my Stir Crazy Popper so you’ll need to adjust if using a different method.  I plug in my Stir Crazy and add the coconut oil so that it can melt.  Once the coconut oil melts I add the popcorn kernels and make sure I put the lid in place.  Listen until popping slows/ends.  I usually put the black cover over the vent holes and flip the bowl right away.

Now here’s where the extra bowl comes in:  I put a layer of popcorn and drizzle some of the melted butter and a twist of the salt grinder.  I do enough layers to fill the bowl about 3/4 of the way full.  I want room to stir!  I grab my Pampered Chef Bamboo Spoon and stir it up so that the butter and salt gets more evenly distributed.   Usually I still have popcorn in the popper’s bowl.  I add the last of the melted butter and a bit of salt to that and stir it up with the same bamboo spoon.   Now it’s time to eat!



[NOTE:  Pictures are not yet available!  I’ll update this post when I have some good pictures of making popcorn!]


BrainFood Learning: The Fascinating World of Mammals {Crew Review}

Supergirl loves watching movies.  I’ve found that DVDs make a great supplement for her especially for science. Thanks to the Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I was introduced to BrainFood Learning.

BrainFood Learning offers three DVDs: The Fascinating World of Birds, The Fascinating World of Insects, and The Fascinating World of Mammals. Fascinating is the perfect word to describe these fact-filled educational videos.

I own all three of these amazing DVDs but this review will focus on The Fascinating World of Mammals.  Be sure and visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to read reviews about all three different DVDs.

The DVD menu has a play all, an individual mammal section, and a review section. The “play all” menu includes a general introduction, description, and facts about mammals. After the general facts that apply to all mammals, the viewer is introduced, one at a time to a select few specific animals. For the Mammals DVD, viewers will learn about 10 different mammals such as the giraffe, the chimpanzee, the dolphin, or the bat.  The menu selection of mammal allows you to watch, over and over again, the creature of your choice, bypassing the general facts and introduction.

Lasting an average of 3 minutes per animal, each clip features a combination of stunning still photos and beautiful video footage. Except for some of the footage of the dolphins, it looked like each one was filmed in its natural habitat. I felt like we were on a virtual safari visiting Africa to watch the lions and giraffes.

While watching the creature, a narrator tells us facts specific to the animal, such as what the young are called or that chimpanzees have opposable thumbs. Viewers learn that lions live in prides, that giraffes have four chambered stomachs, and that marine mammals still breath air with lungs. At the end of each creature’s feature a “big word” is written across the screen and defined. These are excellent science vocabulary words like zoologist.

Finally, the third menu choice, Review, brings a deeper educational level to the DVD. The Mammals Review has 5 Sections:

  1. Flash Cards
  2. Review Mammals
  3. Mammal Features
  4. Review Mammal Facts
  5. Review Big Words

I love the review sections. Some are multiple choice questions. The video waits a few moments before revealing correct answer. In my opinion the review section would be very useful for students in 2nd or 3rd grade and up. My daughter is doing 1st grade work and found some of the questions such as the Big Words sections to be a bit challenging for her but others were perfect such as the Review Mammals.

Using the DVD:

At first, I used the DVD as an introduction to mammals  At first she said they were “boring.” These videos are not entertainment videos. The Play All menu choice was a bit overwhelming for her. When we watched only the general introduction/description part of PLAY ALL and then went back to the menu to choose specific animals she was much happier. I love that you can access the mammals individually allowing a student to choose the order.

Now, I am using the DVD as a supplement to review a specific mammal when we study it in our science curriculum or animal based lapbook. We’re currently studying whales and dolphins so we’ve watched and re-watched and then watched again the video clip about whales.

When we first started watching the DVD, the website did not provide any additional information, but now Brain Food Learning has added a curriculum section with lesson plans for each of the three DVDs.  These PDFs can be found under the Curriculum Tab. I am thrilled with the picture match cards for mammals.

Even though I intended these for Supergirl, the whole family watched and enjoyed the videos.


Thoughts from Turtlegirl (just turned 16):

“It’s a good refresher for my knowledge of basic mammal species. It has also helped me figure out how to tell whether a giraffe is male or female (look at the horns; if they’re tufted it’s a female, if they’re ‘bald’ it’s a male). It’s also kind of nice that they have a definition for a new vocabulary word at the end of the little video for each animal. “ 

Thoughts from Tailorbear: (Age 14 1/2)

“ I like how the animals are described. Informational but not too chunky, and for those who don’ t know what a ruminant animal is, or any other strange word, There is a definition for it at the end of the video. I also like how they told you how to differentiate male from female. I think this is a good video for new mammal learners, and old students brushing up on what they already know!”

I recommend this DVD as a supplement to any animal study. Upper elementary students could keep a science vocabulary notebook and could use the review sections for notebooking ideas. My 14 year old and my 16 year old enjoyed watching the creature clips with my 1st grade daughter. I found myself fascinated with the beautiful video footage and I have to admit that I learned some new things about mammals. We’ll be continuing to use this as part of my 1st grader’s science program.

Thoughts from Supergirl:

I like the video. I like to watch the dolphins and giraffes, lions and zebras. And elephants. Oh and moose. It’s great. It’s a great video. I learned that dolphins communicate. I learn that beavers live in water and they build homes. They use their teeth to cut down the trees. The babies stay with their parents. The DVD is fun.

The Details:

  • Vendor: BrainFood Learning
  • Product: The Fascinating World of Mammals
  • Age Recommendation: Ages 3 to 11 is suggested but the video is appropriate for ALL ages!
  • Price: $14.99

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