Friday, December 17, 2010

Creation Camouflage

Last week we studied Download N Go's Creation Camouflage.  Download N Go unit studies are designed for grades K-4 but we have used them for children older and younger in our homeschool.  In this case, 2 of my children, Emma (7) and Ryan (11) completed Creation Camouflage, some of the other children also enjoyed watching the videos.

Download N Go unit studies are 5 day long units with all the work planned out for you.  Although extensive suggested library books are listed in the study, none are necessary as everything is internet linked. (We took out a few books from the list but I forgot to take pictures of them before we returned them to the library.) The videos and photographs in this unit are amazing and such fun to watch. If you haven't read any of my reviews before then it is important to note that all of the videos are embedded on a safe page that hides all of the nasty comments often found on youtube.

 I really didn't do any planning for this unit.  I looked over the unit the night before (or in the morning) and printed out the pages I wanted them to do and that was it!  This is one of the things I love most about Download N Go.  You really can do just that!

In Creation Camouflage you will find:
  • Day 1: Hiding in Plain Sight
  • Day 2: Getting to Know the Rain Forest
  • Day 3: What Is in the Desert?
  • Day 4: Hiding in the Ocean
  • Day 5: Cool Things About the Tundra

For this unit we chose to do some of the worksheet pages and just a couple of the lap book mini-books.  Most of this study we did together orally.  It was so interesting and if you have kids that love animals you will not want to miss this one. If you have kids that don't care that much about animals this might be the one that piques their interest!

We didn't do any extra activities or anything really to take pictures of but I did want to share a few pictures.

Here is Emma on a nature walk.  Her camouflage wasn't that good.
We talked about that.
Finished lap folders.

Ryan dressed in camouflage (which he is most of the time)
with his finished folder.

This was a very cool unit.  We learned a lot about different animals and their habitats and different kinds of camouflage.  It was also a great unit for geography (another favorite feature of DNG units!)

Creation Camouflage is on sale today and tomorrow (December 18) for just $5.95!

Amanda Bennett and Download N Go has generously offered me the opportunity to give away a copy of Creation Camouflage here at The Fruit of Her Hands.  Please leave a comment to be entered.  I will choose a random winner on Tuesday, December 21.  

Please read carefully for details on how to enter. Also, remember to leave me an e-mail address so Download N Go can e-mail Creation Camouflage to you. (Another winner will be selected if I do not have an e-mail address to contact you.)

To enter to win: (each comment counts as 1 entry)

1) Comment on this blog post 
2) Post a link to this post on Facebook and leave me a comment saying that you did. 
3) Follow my blog and leave a comment that you follow it. (if you're already a follower that counts too)
4) Blog about this with a link back to my blog and come post the link to your blog in the comments.

Go here to read my other Download N Go reviews and here to go on the Creation Camouflage blog tour (and find more chances to win!)

****I was given a free copy of Creation Camouflage in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

National Geographic Tree Frog Mouse Pad giveaway

Download N Go is giving away 8 of these adorable National Geographic Tree Frog Mouse Pads in a blog contest.  The contest ends at 9pm EST on December 17, 2010.  In conjunction with the contest, Creation Camouflage is on sale too!  Be watching for my review of Creation Camouflage later this week.

Enter here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Green Grocery Bag Challenge

The Green Bag Lady and Sew, Mama, Sew have teamed up for the Green Grocery Bag Challenge.  The Green Grocery Bag Challenge is a project to encourage sewists (Don't you love that "word" instead of "sewers"?  I do.) to wrap their holiday gifts in reusable cloth grocery bags, thus reducing the amount of wrapping paper entering the waste stream while simultaneously getting multi-use bags into the hands of consumers (the gift recipients.)

Did you know?  US consumers generate 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bag waste during the holiday season alone.

Did you know? The US alone goes through 100 billion single-use plastic grocery bags every year.

Isn't that mind boggling?  It is to me!  I have started using cloth bags for my shopping again. Years ago, I used cloth bags for my grocery shopping. I remember getting my bags out to go shopping the day that Erin was born and she is 16! So I had them at least that long ago! (I might add that the bags I had back then were sturdy canvas....I still have some of them and they are in excellent shape as compared to the junky ones they sell in the stores now.)  Over the years though, I got away from using the bags because I shop at Wal-Mart a lot and their bagging area is less conducive to that.  I started using cloth bags some again this year when I got a few free ones that they sell in the stores and bought a couple insulated ones which I LOVED using in the summer.  (I have found that some checkers are not that happy to see me with my bags.  :( I try to help bag so they aren't annoyed with me.)

About a month ago I heard about The Green Bag Lady and made up a bunch of bags using this video tutorial.

Katie snagged this one for her organ music.

Some of the bags I whipped up about a month ago.

bags folded up

bags folded up inside another bag I made

I have a few of these.  I love them.
They are made from old drapes!

Another plus was that all of the fabric was given to me.  It didn't cost me a dime to make any of these bags! A couple of bags that I never took pictures of I made from pre-quilted fabric and I LOVE them. They are more sturdy and are easier to fill in the store.  I loved doing my Christmas shopping in my fabric bags. When I came home from the stores no little eyes could see through the plastic bags!!

So, after seeing this challenge to use fabric instead of wrapping paper I wasn't sure how it would go over with the family.  Well, honestly, it went over like a lead balloon. They want to rip open their packages. I always buy wrapping paper 50% the day after Christmas so I already had paper for this year but not a whole lot so I figured I could do at least a few bags while I used up the paper I have and maybe break them in a little.  This way, I'll use up my wrapping paper then maybe I can purchase Christmas fabric on sale the week after Christmas to make more bags for next year.

Here are a few of the bags I've made ready to give...some are for Christmas and some for an upcoming birthday.  I did use tissue paper in the bags. If we want to be really green it can be re-used or saved to make paper or color on or something right?

Anyway, here they are:
Love this fabric!  When I was making this bag
Emma(7) asked me if I would wrap her present in this.  I had
already wrapped a present for her in a different bag so I just
took it out of that one and put it in this one.

This is a shopping bag. I used it like wrapping paper and even
put a little tape on it to make it more like a regular package.

another one

a tube shaped was a little long so I tied it with some ribbon,
stuffed some tissue paper then the gift, more tissue and another ribbon

This is my favorite.  It is for an oversized package.
The fabric is satiny.  I tied it with a gold star ribbon and
a large jingle bell.  I don't think the picture does it justice.

A shopping bag used to wrap a gift.  I just
tuck the handles inside and fold up the top in pleats...then
tie with ribbon.

nice ornament fabric

This one looks like a gift bag (no handles though).
I love how versatile the bags are!

So, if you are at all inspired I'd love to hear from you. (Or if you have any questions feel free to ask.) I am hoping that over time the kids will become more receptive to the idea.

For more information and lots of bag making tutorials join the Green Grocery Bag Challenge on Facebook.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Expedition Australia and Keeping it Real

We spent this week doing the Download N Go unit Expedition Australia.  I have to be honest and say that my heart just was not in it.  I still wanted to do it, but I just could not get out of my own way this week.  Do you ever have a week like that?  I guess that is the beauty of Download N Go.  We could have made a salt dough map of Australia or made didgeridoos or boomerangs or a hundred other wonderful projects that would make for a fabulous blog post and wonderful memories BUT for this week, we "only" covered the lessons and made a few of the lapbooking minit books provided in the unit study.  And, do you know what?  It was enough!  It was plenty.  In my perfectionism, I still wish that we had been able to do some projects but I am OK with the fact that we didn't.

Have you ever done a Download N Go Unit?  I'd love for you to comment on this post.  I'm not giving anything away this time but I would love to hear from you! :)

Download N Go units are designed for grades K-4 but Ryan (grade 5) also did Expedition Australia.  In each Download N Go unit study you get 5 days of lessons.  The work is really all done for you.  There is an extensive list of library books you can choose from if you wish but they are totally unnecessary!  The links provided in the unit study give you all the information you need!  There are videos, informational links, links to maps and the flag and the national anthem and so much more. I think I might say this with every unit, but I really love how much geography there is in these units.  Before I decided to use Download N Go this year, I had already decided I wanted to focus on geography a lot this year and these units sure fit the bill for that.

Our library books

In Expedition Australia the 5 days of lessons are:

Day 1: Where on Earth Is Australia?
Day 2: Some of the Special Places in Australia
Day 3: A Bit of Australian History
Day 4: Cool Things to Know About Australia
Day 5: Fun and Games in Australia

Here are a few sample pages:

The way I used this unit was to review the next day's lesson the night before and choose pages to print.The next day, we gathered around the laptop to watch the videos and complete the worksheets.  I print them on "fast draft" to save ink.  For Expedition Australia, Emma (2nd grade) and Ryan (5th grade) used this unit.  Some of the other kids also participated by coloring flags and watching videos.  This is another feature of Download N Go that I is versatile and easy to use for children older and younger than the K-4 it is recommended for.

Some of the fun things we learned about this week are marsupials, boomerangs, didgeridoos, climate, hemispheres, constellations and oceans.  (lots to learn about!)  We watched this video (warning: comment section is inappropriate) about tasmanian devils that I found.  One of the wonderful features of Download N Go is that all videos are embedded into a page so you never see youtube comments that are often offensive. (This was a video that I found was not part of the study.)

Since we didn't do any projects I don't have many pictures of this unit but here are a few that I did take on Friday.

Emma coloring her flag of Australia

Ellie's flag (not quite right but she had fun)

Our finished lap folders.  Every unit has a certificate of completion that I
 glue to the back of the folder. (If you use a pocket folder like I do be sure to use
tacky glue or something strong...a glue stick will not work.)

Currently there is a special running on Expedition Australia.  It is normally $7.95 but until Monday, November 8 it is only $5.95!  In addition, there is a fantastic National Geographic Australia map giveaway going on on the DNG blog.  Be sure to check it out!

Now go here and read what others on the DNG team are saying about Expedition Australia. Seriously, go see what others did with this unit.  It makes me want to do it again..... :)

**disclaimer:  I was given a free copy of Expedition Australia in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Molly's Money Saving Digest

Occasionally I am asked to review a product besides the Download N Go units.  This week I was sent a copy of Molly’s Money Saving Digest which is a monthly e-book “magazine”.  This is my first time reading an issue and it looks like a lot of fun.  I was given a small sample of a recent issue and a text only version of the November 2010 issue in exchange for my honest review.  The theme of the November issue is Preparing our Hearts and Homes for the Holidays.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love Christmas and the whole holiday season.   I really enjoyed reading through this issue and cannot wait to see the completed version because from the sample I have seen I know it is going to be beautiful.

Inside there are some articles, but one my favorite parts is the recipes.  There is a one week meal plan that includes meals you can make for the freezer.  I love freezer cooking and cannot wait to try the recipes. It even has a complete shopping list. There are lots of recipes for desserts too. (For my friends with Celiac Disease there is a gluten free cookie recipe as well!) Additionally, there are directions for how to make a breadbasket using plastic bags and recycled plastic lids.  I can’t wait to try making one (or letting my teens try making it.)

Molly’s Money Saving Digest is not just for recipes and crafts though.  There is a valuable article on organizing your holidays with multiple internet links to help plan everything out.  Others things you will find include a list of important dates, November bargains to look for, an article on beautiful table settings on a budget, another on dinner party manners and one writer shares her journey out of debt. Last but not least, an article on preparing our hearts and homes for the holiday season.

All in all, Molly’s Money Saving Digest is a very enjoyable read and my family will benefit from it this holiday season.

**** I saw the final version of this today and it's so nice with the pictures and that bread basket is the coolest thing.  I can't wait to try one when I have the time. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Terrific Tigers!

This week we finished Terrific Tigers, another Download N Go unit study by Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse.  I have never really been much of an animal lover, but I found Terrific Tigers to be very interesting and I am saddened to find out how endangered they are.

We saw lots of videos of tigers; some large tigers and some very cute baby tigers. I didn't know that tigers are swimmers or that one kind of tiger even has webbed feet. Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy!

In this 5 day unit for grades K-4 (though my 5th grade son enjoyed the videos and library books) you will find:

Day 1: What Is a Tiger?
Day 2: Getting to Know Tigers
Day 3: Where Are the Tigers?
Day 4: The Science of Tigers
Day 5: Cool Things About Tigers

sample pages

For the first time since we started using Download N Go, I did not do much planning ahead. I usually print out the worksheets and organize them by day and child and place them in folders.  This time, I went through the the lessons the night before and just printed a few sheets.  We went through all of the lessons but we didn't write everything down.  It ended up being the perfect amount for the week.

This unit covers tigers, veterinarians, habitats, endangered animals and what it means to be extinct.  It also covers geography (one of my favorite things about all of the Download N Go units is the amount of time we spend using maps....just the right amount!), Bible, math activities and so much more.

We got a National Geographic DVD Tigers of the Snow from the library.  One of the video clips from the week came from this special.  The kids seemed to get a kick out of the fact that they had already seen that part.

We ended the week by making this tiger cake and cupcakes. (It's always fun to spice up a unit study with a recipe!) I didn't have all of the candy I needed so I just used peppermint patties and frosting.  I was going to make these cupcakes too but I didn't have the candy to decorate them so I just made striped cupcakes instead.

Connor and Ellie happily watching me decorate.

The finished tiger cake and some striped cupcakes to go along.

And now for the giveaway!  The Old Schoolhouse has generously offered a free copy to one of my blog readers.  Please read carefully for details on how to enter. Also, remember to leave me an e-mail address so Download N Go can e-mail Terrific Tigers to you. (Another winner will be selected if I do not have an e-mail address to contact you.)

To enter to win: (each comment counts as 1 entry)
** read the disclaimer below for eligibility

1) Comment on this blog post 
2) Post a link to this post on Facebook and leave me a comment saying that you did. 
3) Follow my blog and leave a comment that you follow it. (if you're already a follower that counts too)
4) Blog about this with a link back to my blog and come post the link to your blog in the comments.

I will choose a random winner on October 29. Now that you have read my review and entered to win your free copy of Terrific Tigers, go on the blog tour to see what others are saying and enter to win their giveaway!

Go here to read my other Download N Go reviews.

**disclaimer- TOS affiliates including members of the TOS crew are ineligible to win.  In addition, if you have won a DNG study from one of MY giveaways before you are ineligible for this one.  You are free to enter on another blog though!   I was given a free copy of Terrific Tigers in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Outdoor Hour-Challenge #2

This weekend we took advantage of the beautiful weather and went to a local hiking area.  It was our first time there and a nice change from our usual "backyard" forest adventures.  One of the nice things was a regular path.  In our backwoods we are mainly just trekking through the woods without a path.

In this challenge, I read from the Handbook of Nature Study (just to myself not the kids).  We collected a ton of leaves along with a few mushrooms, some acorns and a couple of pine cones.  We were on the trail for 2 hours so that was a little long with the young ones but we all had a good time.  There are 3 trails so we will have to go back and hike the other 2 trails soon.

By the time we got home we were all tired so we left our bag of "treasures" until later.  After supper, we had fun making leaf rubbings and even used a rainbow stamp pad to do a few leaf stamps.  I don't care how old I am, I love making leaf rubbings.  (maybe more than the kids)

The main point of this challenge is to use your words to describe what you heard, saw and felt.  This was pretty difficult for the kids so I think it was a good challenge because it gets them thinking.  The next time we go out I think they will be more observant.  Here are their responses:

Jenna (5)
One word to describe something you heard.  water
Two words for something you saw.  brown mushroom (with a white stem)..yeah I know more than 2 words
Three words for something you felt.  soft, fuzzy leaf

Emma (7)
One word to describe something you heard. crinkling (leaves)
Two words for something you saw. wobbly bridge
Three words for something you felt. soft, bumpy mushroom

Ryan (10)
One word to describe something you heard. cricket
Two words for something you saw. animal den
Three words for something you felt. smooth stick (he couldn't come up with 3 words)

As always, I took pictures:
starting out on the nephew came along too

Emma wanted me to take this picture to show how tall the fern was.

Can you find Connor?

This was so cool....sprouting acorns

princess pine (we took some time to learn a little about spore cones)

Ellie wanted me to take her picture with this leaf.

the boys throwing rocks in the river

Favorite picture of the day.

waiting for everyone to catch up

I came up on Jenna kneeling over these tiny flowers she found.

everything is going to seed

Ellie and Connor walking the end of the hike hand in hand.


Emma was so happy about these giant leaves.

lots of leaves

about a foot long!

you can see we found quite a variety

Emma making a leaf rubbing

Friday, October 8, 2010

Expedition China

This week we did Download N Go's Expedition China.  This was really a crazy unexpected morning of helping my grandmother with Alzheimer's, doctor appointments, several days of rain....just not a great week but we were still able to complete all of the lessons.  Honestly, I tried to do too much!  I don't know if I have mentioned this before but I have a problem with perfectionism AND I hate to waste stuff.  I purchased this unit in the summer after having only completed one Download N Go unit.  I printed EVERY page and because I did this I felt that we had to DO every page.  I would not recommend doing this.  There is so much in this unit, it's really too much to try to do in one week.  I think it would have been better if we had chosen a few things to focus on. With all that being said, we still enjoyed China.

Panda bears are so cute!

Emma was the only one that really completed the work in this unit.  Some of the kids watched the videos and did some coloring but Emma went through all of it.  (I did make her do too much.  I'll try not to do that anymore...LOL)

The week before we started Expedition China, I started reading, These are My People by Mildred Howard.  It is a biography of Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China.  We are enjoying reading it and I hope to finish it in the next few days.  I also got a stack of books from the library list but we haven't really read any.  I think I will read some before we return them to the library though.

I originally planned to cook some kind of Chinese food but we ended up going to a local Chinese restaurant with a few of the kids tonight.  It was fun and we got to try chopsticks.  They also have a fish tank with goldfish (one of the animals we studied this week) and it had a pagoda in it.

Emma trying to use chopsticks. (I'm not sure what Connor is doing.  LOL)

checking out the goldfish in the tank

So, my recommendation for this unit would be to buy it but, do one of two things:

1) Complete it in a week but pick and choose what you want to cover.


2) Do all the lessons but take a much longer time to do it.

There is PLENTY here to fill several weeks especially if you add library books.  I am finding that I like to spend a week on a Download N Go unit (or 6 days if we add a field trip).  I just need to learn to scale back when I do this! :)
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