TOS Review: Silverdale Press LLC

Silverdale PressI have always been an eclectic homeschooler, using a variety of styles to suit our needs. One of the things I like to include in our learning is unit studies, especially for specific topics, like holidays. For this review, we got to check out the White House Holidays Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC. They offer a variety of studies on a number of holidays but for our review we focused on two of my favorites, Christmas and Thanksgiving!

Persuasive Writing and Classical RhetoricThe studies are set up for grades K-12 with different activities for grades K-6 and grades 7-12, so you could easily do these with multiple grade levels if you have a large family.  They are also completely self-contained, so you do not need any additional books to complete the activities. However, you can certainly add books from the library on the topics you are studying if you wish. Some of the activities do require art supplies, but a list of required materials is given at the beginning of each lesson so it is pretty easy to go through these ahead of time and gather everything you need before you get started.

white-house-holidays-unit-study-thanksgiving

So, the Thanksgiving unit study is fairly short, consisting of only five lessons, each of which could pretty much be completed in one sitting. If you wanted to extend it out to one lesson per week so you could make it last the whole month of November you could do the reading portion one day, the activities another, and then add in some additional library reading on the other days. For me, I would probably just devote one of our schooling days to the unit study.
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Lessons focus on the history of the holiday and American traditions, including those involving Presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Eisenhower. Students will read portions of Plymouth Plantation, make presentations about things they are thankful for, illustrate poems, and analyze primary source documents. I appreciate how this study gets into the history of how celebrating the harvest was so important in America and also taught me some things that I didn’t know such as why the date for Thanksgiving was moved (I truly had no idea about the controversy surrounding the date in the first place). It also includes some recipes, two from Mamie Eisenhower! I feel like this was a very interesting study and that my son and I both learned a lot from it.

The Christmas Unit Study features four lessons, which makes it perfect to roll into right after you finish the one from Thanksgiving! However, it does offer quite a few more activities, so you will probably need to spread them out over the week. As I said, you can certainly add more by checking out books from the library to read to or with your kids if you want, but everything you need is contained right here in the study itself. Each lesson in this study is unique, as it focuses on a First Lady (Jacqueline Kennedy, Betty Ford, Barbara Bush, and Michelle Obama) and their take on the White House Christmas for that year. I really found this one interesting.

In this study you and your children will learn how the tradition of decorating the White House around a theme began and create some of your own special designs. You will also get opportunities to bake, do art projects, and reach out and help others. The study starts with Jacqueline Kennedy’s Nutcracker Suite Christmas. There are links for you to listen to music from the ballet as well as an audio recording of the book. You could also buy tickets to go see the ballet in person if they are available near you.

You will also do a detailed study about the White House Nativity scene and get a chance to create your own as well as read President Kennedy’s speech from when he lit the first National Christmas Tree. Learning about the simple Christmas that Betty Ford had in the White House was very special, and the activities for that lesson lend themselves to a lot of family fun (making popcorn garlands, gingerbread houses and cookies, and cranberry trees). Plus, your house will be fully ready for the holiday season!

Some of the service activities involved in the Christmas unit study include adopting a family in need and visiting a Salvation Army store. You will also do a fair amount of internet research for this study as well. Before they complete the study students will get a chance to practice persuasive writing skills (writing a letter to the White House), track Santa, debate real vs. fake Christmas trees, and a whole lot more. This study really does have a real depth to it and is a lot of fun.

Some other observations about the White House Holidays unit study: it is set up to easily divide the activities between grade levels. You read the same lesson to your kids, but the amount of questions they answer or the activities they do will vary by age, I think this is great because it makes it really easy to do with all your kids at once. While I did not get into the other unit studies, I did take a peak at them, and they all look to be set up similarly, and they look just as fun! I am pretty sure we will hit all of them over the next year.

If you want to add some unit study fun to your homeschool, you can learn more about Silverdale Press on social media here:

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To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product and the others we got to check out, click here:

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

sweet potato wedges

My hubby loves sweet potatoes and fries. This recipe is a nice combo of the two!

Ingredients:

2-3 large sweet potatoes

2 tbsp canola oil

3 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp Mexican chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges and soak them in a large bowl of water.
  2. Drain the potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Place the wedges in a bowl and sprinkle the corn starch on top, toss to coat.
  4. Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
  5. Pour the oil on top of the wedges, then add the spices and toss to coat.
  6. Spray two large baking sheets with cooking spray and spread the wedges in a single layer on each one.
  7. Bake in oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, then flip wedges and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the are crisp-tender. (I like to bake mine until the edges start to brown because we like ours a little crispy but you can bake until your personal preference).

These make a great side dish for just about anything! Enjoy!

Menu Plan Monday 6/11/18

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Hello! I hope your summer is off to a great start! We are enjoying the warm weather and sunshine here! This is our menu for the week:

Monday: Citrus Steak

Tuesday: Chicken and Balsamic Veggies

Wednesday: Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Thursday: Pork Verde

Friday: Probably Pizza!

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. Have a great week.

TOS Review: Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannfisha

The Critical Thinking Co.™I love a good mystery! And what better way to teach critical thinking skills than with a mystery story? For this review, we got to check out the Whodunnit Forensic Mystery, Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannfisha from The Critical Thinking Co.™. It is a complete self-contained activity aimed at students in grades 5-12 and we found it very entertaining.

The Critical Thinking Co.™
The mystery begins with a full set of teacher instructions that give you background on the case, witness and suspect profiles, timelines, and specific instructions on how to guide your students through the activities. This is very helpful because there are a lot of pieces to coordinate and students are meant to find out certain pieces of information at very specific times, so you need to make sure you stay on top of that. The directions are however, very easy to follow, so once you read them, you should have no trouble getting started.

Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha 

Activities are designed to be completed individually or in a group, so you could easily do this in a co-op setting if you want, and I think it would be really fun actually. However, for this review, my son just did it by himself. The teacher’s guide tells you exactly which handouts you need to make copies of as well, which is also helpful. Since everything is contained in the workbook itself, the only other things you really need to complete the whole mystery is a folder to organize the handouts and a pencil.

Now, as for the case itself, it involves a few murders, and my son was immediately intrigued. When I first showed him this, he thought it was going to be some “little kid, who robbed the candy store” kind of thing, but as soon as we got into the actual crime, he got interested. The way the police reports, witness and suspect interviews and evidence reports are set up, you really feel like you are immersed in investigating an actual crime. They give you enough information that you have what you need to pull the pieces together, but it is by no means an easy thing to just figure out. Students really need to use deductive reasoning to work out who committed these crimes and how.

I like how the Critical Thinking Co.™ put this together to make it interesting and exciting, and encourage students to use critical thinking skills in a way that really requires them to apply them. Not just in the sense that they are reading and answering questions or drawing conclusions, but that they are pulling together pieces and parts of information from all different sources and synthesizing them and then drawing conclusions and using those conclusions to answer other questions. That’s the kind of critical thinking I want my son to be able to do as a high schooler, and honestly, this is just a really fun way to do it!

We took several weeks to work through the mystery at Lake Iwannafisha, but you can definitely set your own pace. I can tell you we would absolutely recommend this if you want a fun activity to do for summer or just to add something extra and different to your homeschool. I am seriously going to check out the other programs that Critical Thinking has to offer that are like this one because we enjoyed it so much.

To learn more about this program, connect with Critical Thinking on social media here:

Critical Thinking Co. on Facebook

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this program and the others we got to check out, click here:

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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Menu Plan Monday 6/4/18

Happy Summer! Now that the rain has finally stopped I am looking forward to getting outside and enjoying some sunshine. Last week we broke in our new outdoor kitchen with a barbecue with friends and my hubby loved cooking on his outdoor kitchen. This week I will be cooking mostly indoors though. Here’s our menu:

Monday: Chicken Parm

Tuesday: Spanish Rice (crock pot)

Wednesday: Crunchy Onion Steak

Thursday: Tacos

Friday: Dinner out with friends

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday. Have a great week!

Menu Plan Monday 5/28/18

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Happy Memorial Day! We are kicking off our summer with a barbecue with friends today. On our menu: jerk chicken wings cooked three ways (fried, smoked and grilled), burgers, and brats! This is our menu for the rest of the week:

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: Buffalo Chicken tacos

Thursday: Red Wine seared pork chops

Friday: Shrimp Scampi

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! Have a great week.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

buffalo tacos

My kids love tacos in any form and they are so easy to make. This is one variation that is super easy and yummy!

Ingredients:

1 deli rotisserie chicken

1 1/2 cups buffalo wing sauce

1 tsp chili powder

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 avocado

1 bunch cilantro

1 cup shredded cheese

1 bunch green onion

1 tbsp olive oil

tortillas

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

2. Shred the chicken and it to the skillet.

3. Add the buffalo sauce, chili powder and chicken broth to the skillet.

4. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce cooks down.

5. Meanwhile, chop the avocado, cilantro and green onion.

6. Serve the chicken in the tortillas and top with the cheese, avocado, cilantro and green onion.

This is perfect for a busy night. Just serve it with some beans, rice or salad on the side! Enjoy!