Wednesday, August 15, 2018

REVIEW: Paddington Bear Literature Study by Branch Out World

Being from England myself, I though it would be cool to review a literature study with Holden on Paddington Bear from Branch Out World.


This is a literature-based study on the original story of Paddington Bear.  It’s part of the Picture Book Explorers series from Branch Out World.

Students can learn more about the geography and culture of England and Peru as they follow Paddington on his journey to his new family.

This study is intended for ages 5-10, but being as this is written from a British perspective, it really can be used with older students, as well. 

The study includes lots of mapwork and activities to entertain and teach your child as you explore the story together. 

This is a digital product and can be purchased and downloaded for £9.00 (approximately $11.49).


I was actually born in England, so I thought this review would be a neat opportunity to expose my son to some things that are familiar to me but not to him.  I really like the story of Paddington Bear, which Holden knows from having seen the movie in recent years, so I figured exploring the book would be great, too.  He’s not to old to enjoy a good picture book, so I knew it would be a great fit.

I think if anything, I would refer to this product as a cross-curricular study that’s loosely based on the Paddington Bear storybook.  It’s broken into five sections or “days” in the table of contents, but there are honestly so many activities included that you could make it last much longer if you chose more rather than fewer of those activities to do.  We chose to spread it out rather than do it for five consecutive days, and we only chose activities that were of interest to us. All of the facts and information you need for most of the activities is included in the provided text, and anything else can be easily obtained through a quick internet search.  The first thing I did was to print out the study materials and put them into a binder for organization.  I added some blank pages at the end to give me a place to glue in the many notebooking activities we’d be making.


The first section is titled “Exploring the Setting.”  All of the activities pertain to the countries of England and Peru from the story and comparing information about the two places.  The activities in this section include coloring their flags, making maps, making tourist posters, finding out facts, studying migration, and looking at the setting of the story.  Using the provided information, we also got to create a timeline of events in the two countries for the period during which the story took place.

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The second section is titled “Exploring the Words.”  Here, we discussed the author and themes from the story. There were also spelling and narration activities, vocabulary discussion, some creative inspiration, and a grammar exercise.  If you have both the chapter book and the picture book version of the story, there’s also an activity to compare the two and their intended audiences.  One of the included printable activities for grammar practice was a mini-book where he got to create sentences to practice subject-verb agreement.  Another was to define some vocabulary words from the story and create a pocket to hold the definitions we recorded.

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The third section is titled “Exploring the Pictures.”  We learned more about the illustrator, did a picture study of one of the illustrations in the book, learned about architectural features of buildings in the picture, and discussed principles of design like overlapping and emphasis.  We did some printable activities about those topics, like creating a tabbed book with definitions of some of the architectural elements and drawing samples that illustrate emphasis in illustrations.

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The fourth section is titled “Exploring Science.”  This was probably my favorite part!  We learned about the spectacled bear found in Peru and made a fact sheet all about it.  We also did a sensory activity about the textures of shaving creams and how they are easily foam can be washed away with water the way it was in the story when Paddington overflowed the bathtub with suds.  We learned a lot about how foam is created in this section!  It was really neat.  There are some other science activities here that we hope to come back to when we have more time, like observing the reaction between peroxide, yeast, and dish soap and making a foamy food like meringue!  We also learned about condensation that comes from steam settling on a mirror.  And it suggested doing a nature study in the garden.  One of the printables also provides your child with a place to record what they learned from doing any one of the science activities.

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The fifth section was titled “Exploring Maths, Crafts, and More.”  This section discusses parallel lines, numbers in the story, what you might pack in a suitcase to go on vacation (and the application of spatial awareness…it has to fit!), shaving foam art (which we also hope to come back and do another time), making tablas (pictures painted on wooden boards), and some cooking activities for making strawberry tarts marmalade.  Holden doesn’t have any interest in arts and crafts so we mostly skipped this section.  But it suggests additional activities such as having a tea party or visiting a train station.  We didn’t have the necessary ingredients for the tarts, and marmalade, but we know all about tea parties with some of our English favorites!

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And I wanted to show you how some of the notebooking pages turn out once you glue in your completed elements.

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All in all, this is a really thorough cross-curricular study that helps your child learn more about England and Peru, and it includes a lot of hands-on, diverse activities to choose from so you can make it as minimal or as in-depth as you choose.  Once you’ve enjoyed the storybook itself and the interesting study guide, I highly recommend rewarding your child by an afternoon of watching any or all of the Paddington Bear movies as a way to finish out your studies!

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this great literature study by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Happy 14th Birthday, Haylee!!!

My sweet baby girl, Haylee, turned 14 on July 31st.  How is that possible?  The time has flown.


And being 14 now, that means it is time to begin high school!  She has always been homeschooled, but like Hayden before her, she will be going to public high school.  This week, we went over and got her all registered for school.  They made her student ID, and she went to freshman orientation!

Image result for southwest high school fort worthImage result for southwest high school fort worth 

School starts much earlier here than in VA, so the first day of school is August 20th, and the school year ends by Memorial Day.  She just has one more week at home, and then it’s a whole new world for her and for us, too!  For the first time since Hayden was little, I’m left at home teaching just one child.  We’re in the home stretch!  Just 4 years to go and then my 19 years of homeschooling will come to an end when Holden goes to high school, too.  I can finally retire from this gig! Smile

Saturday, August 4, 2018

National Root Beer Float Day 2018!

Monday, August 6th, is National Root Beer Float Day at A&W Restaurants!  Stop by from 2-8 PM and get a FREE small root beer float!  No purchase is required, but a donation for veterans is encouraged. 



Tuesday, July 31, 2018

REVIEW: Wonders of the World by Home School in the Woods

We’ve always enjoyed their high-quality hands-on history products in the past, so we jumped at the chance to review Wonders of the World by Home School in the Woods.


Wonders of the World is part of the series of Hands-On History Lap-Paks from Home School in the WoodsHISTORY Through the Ages Hands-On History Lap-Pak: Wonders of the World

This lap-pak includes 23 individual projects that come together at the end to create a finished lapbook.  It includes ancient, medieval, modern, and natural wonders of the world spanning thousands of years. 

This project pack is intended for grades 3-8 and comes both on CD and as a digital download.  I received the imagedigital download version, and that is available for just $18.95

In my experience, you just won’t find another lapbook product as well-organized, thoughtfully produced, and as visually appealing as those from Home School in the Woods, and Wonders of the World is no exception!


As soon as I realized that Wonders of the World included a project on The Great Wall of China, I knew this was perfect timing for us.  We’re studying countries of the Eastern Hemisphere this school year, and we happen to be currently studying China and the Great Wall!  And since lapbook projects can be completed in any order and assembled at the end, we knew we had to start with The Great Wall of China, of course!

Once I downloaded and unzipped the file, I began by printing out the printing and assembly instructions and placing them in a binder. 

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Then using those instructions, I printed and assembled the reading booklet first. 

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Then I began batch printing the materials for the lapbook projects.  You can do that as you go along, or you can choose to do it up front.  I tend to like to print a bunch of them up front so my son isn’t waiting for me when we’re ready to work on a project.  So I printed up the materials for about half of the projects before I did anything else and placed them in the binder in order.  This would make it easy to pull out the pages I needed each time we selected a new project.  You’ll need plenty of white and colored paper, as well as white and colored cardstock for any of the lapbook products from Home School in the Woods, so be sure to have a variety of them on hand before you get started.

With all of the printing out of the way, I was ready to dig into the projects!  My son is 10 and has ADHD, so he doesn’t have a lot of patience for cutting and gluing and things that require fine motor skills.  So I stayed up one night and pre-assembled a lot of the lapbook elements ahead of time.  Then we were ready to use them to study the information!

The downloadable file has a “start” button that allows you to view all of the instructions and information in your browser.  This is the easiest way to access the materials, as it’s all laid out in order for you.  There are clickable places that play accompanying audio tracks, as well as clickable files to print.  You can either read aloud the corresponding educational content from the reading booklet, or you can click in the file to have the audio track read it aloud for you.  We tried both methods, and it was nice not to have to do all of the reading aloud myself.  I do enough of that already! 

Our first project was The Great Wall of China, which is from the Medieval Wonders section.  We learned what materials were used in its construction, what dynasties worked on the project, and how long it took to built it.  We learned what it was used for and that portions of it still stand today! 

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Once that one was done, the order no longer mattered to us, so we just went back to the beginning and worked on the rest in the order they were presented.  So our next project was to complete the Timeline of the Wonders of the World.  There were printable images included for each of the wonders, as well as an answer key to show the finished order in which they should appear.  But Home School in the Woods made this super easy to figure out.  Even without the answer key, the names of the images are pre-printed on the timeline pages, so once you’ve taped the panels together, you just glue the images in their designated spots.  To make this even easier, you can print the images on sticker paper made for your printer, but I just used white glue to stick the paper images down once I’d cut them all out.  All of the images print in black and white, so you can add color with crayons or colored pencils if you desire.

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The next project was the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.  These were really cool!  We listened to the audio track for this one, and my son flipped over the images to read about them on the back as we went along.  He thought those were really cool!  We learned about The Great Pyramid of Giza, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, The Colossus of Rhodes, and The Lighthouse of Alexandria.  The seven picture/information cards fit inside a little pocket for your lapbook.

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Next up was a study of Stonehenge!  I was particularly interested in learning more about this one, just because I was born in England.  We learned the meaning of the name, the layout of the stones, and where they came from.  We couldn’t believe that stones as heavy as 7 tons had been brought to the site from as far as 20 miles away!  We also learned that no one really knows the true purpose of this unique arrangement of stones, though there has been much speculation, nor do we even know who exactly built it!  We also learned that it’s not the only arrangement of its kind, as there are many others across the British Isles and Northern France, which was news to us!  And this lapbook element opened up into a 3-D pop-up.  Holden really liked this one!

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Our next project was on The Leaning Tower of Pisa.  This one was fun!  We learned about the original construction of the tower and how the settling of the earth underneath it is what started the leaning of the tower.  Attempts to correct it only made it worse!  It eventually became an attraction, and in recent history, it was closed in order to sure it up and make it safer for people to occupy.  The bells are no longer used, but it remains an attraction because of how it leans!  Because of the corrections, however, it is no longer the most crooked tower in the world.  But at least it’s safe!  This particular lapbook element is interactive, in that you can use the paper that extends from the tower to make the tower straight or cause it to lean.  That’s what made it fun!

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That’s as far as we got during the review period, but we look forward to continuing down the list of projects, exploring things like The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, The Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, and the Golden Gate Bridge.  You can see all the projects listed in the image below.


We’ve had a lot of fun with this lap-pak so far, and we have many weeks of projects left to complete.  I like to pull it out and do a new one each week.  In the meantime, I will store the completed lapbook elements in a clear pocket in the binder to keep them all safe until they are all done.  At end, we’ll assemble them into a lapbook.  I like to make a non-traditional lapbook using white cardstock that folds up and closes with a Velcro button and can be 3-hole punched and stored in a binder where we keep all of our finished lapbooks for future reference.  I have instructions on how I make them available elsewhere on my blog, in case you’re interested.

And if you have ever used any of the Project Passport products from Home School in the Woods, you will be excited to know that they’ve finally completed Project Passport: Ancient Rome, which completed the entire series!  In fact, you can now purchase the entire Project Passport Collection as a bundle!  They have so many wonderful hands-on history product lines…be sure to check them all out!

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this and other products from Home School in the Woods by clicking the banner below.