Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I was obviously out of sorts this year, because I did not take a single photo of the event!  Our guests called an hour before the meal to say they couldn’t make it, and we spent our very first Thanksgiving with just our own family in probably over a decade! 

We had such a lovely meal.  I made so much food, and it’s clear that my kids have grown, because we managed to finish off the leftovers in record time, despite having a whole turkey instead of just a breast!  The homemade dinner rolls were the best I’ve ever made.  We had pumpkin pie, pumpkin gingerbread trifle, and fruit salad for dessert.  And my kids polished off 3 bottles of sparkling cider! 

By 5:45 PM, Hayden and I were headed out the door for our Black Friday shopping adventures.  We started with Walmart, where we got right in line for a new tv for my living room.  Then we picked up a few things for him…he got a new tablet because his would no longer charge, and he got his first real cell phone with the understanding that he could activate it when he gets a job next summer and can pay his own bill. 

Next, we headed off to Target.  We didn’t get much there, but at least we could get some popcorn and an Icee to hold us over! 

Then we were off to Kohl’s.  We found plenty of things there!  In fact, with the promise of Kohl’s cash to inspire us, we spent quite a bit of time splitting up our stuff in such a way that we could order half at the kiosk and half in the store so we’d get 2 rounds of Kohl’s cash (some items were not available in-store).  We spent forever in there, but it was worth the effort.

We got home so late and satisfied our hunger with leftovers on a homemade roll before heading off to bed.  The next day, I realized that in all the excitement, I’d forgotten to get a tv wall mount!  I even looked at them in Walmart.  Of course, all the area stores were sold out by Friday.  I found an even better deal at Amazon, though, and it arrived on Monday.  Saved by Prime shipping (even though it was delayed one day)!  They added an extra month to my Prime membership for the delay.  We moved the existing living room tv up to our master bedroom and mounted it on the wall.  Boy, is that ever nice!  We’ve always had a tiny tv sitting up high on top of my dresser hutch, and my old eyes were getting too bad to see words on the screen.  Now I just have to rearrange some furniture in our room, and we’ll be all set.

Other than the tv, our list consisted mostly of things people needed rather than wanted.  Even Hayden’s tablet and phone were necessities, as he will be getting his permanent license in April, and he uses Android apps on the tablet in class.  I have to say my kids don’t really want a lot of things any more…no one asked for toys at all.  They are getting older and are starting to see how great it is to get things you need instead.  Money is a lot tighter than usual, so crossing things off the “need” list works out as a win-win for all.

What great deals did you get this year? 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ready for Thanksgiving?

Target was out of the $1.39/lb. turkey breasts and was actually out of turkey in general.  They said it would be after Thanksgiving before any more came in, if then.  I was shocked by that, since I went on Sunday!  It seems they were ill-prepared for the holiday.

So on Monday, while I was doing my regular grocery shopping, I figured I’d just go ahead and grab a turkey breast there, regardless of price, and get it over with.  It was $1.59/lb. there.  But then I saw signs saying you could get a Honeysuckle White whole turkey or just 59 cents/lb. with an additional $35 grocery purchase!  I was definitely spending that already, so after comparing the two, I realized it would cost much more to buy an 8 lb. breast vs. under $8 for a 13-lb. whole turkey!  So I got the whole turkey.  Now I personally only eat white meat, but I figured between our dinner guests and my kids, they could probably polish off the dark meat, too.

The only downside is that getting a 13-lb. turkey means I can’t cook it in my Ronco Compact Rotisserie as I normally do, because it has a 10-lb. limit.  That’s a bummer, because it’s nice to put it in there, set the timer for 3 hours, and keep both my oven and my stovetop free for other things while the vegetables simmer in a special pan made for the top of the rotisserie.  Too bad.  Now I’ll have to juggle the timing of everything else, but there’s nothing to be done about that now.

I can still cook my potatoes in the electric pressure cooker, and I will do the stuffing at the end.  I’ll have to time my homemade dinner rolls so that they can go in after the turkey comes out.  That will be a challenge, because if they sit out too long after they’ve risen, they can end up falling or drying out.  After all that work, that would really be a shame!  And I’ll have to probably bake my pumpkin pie tonight and warm it tomorrow, as well as bake the gingerbread cake for the dessert tonight so it can cool and be ready to crumble for the trifle.  It’s gonna be a late night!

Sigh.  Best laid plans!

Here’s my menu:

  • turkey
  • ham
  • mashed potatoes
  • turkey stuffing
  • gravy
  • whole cranberry sauce
  • organic cut green beans
  • organic sweet corn
  • fruit salad
  • pumpkin trifle
  • pumpkin pie
  • 3 flavors of sparkling cider
  • warm spiced cider

I also got my Christmas tree and decorations down from the attic today.  My son had to go to physical therapy, though, so I didn’t have time to get to it today.  It’ll have to wait for Friday, I think. 

How are your preparations coming?  I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Get Your Online Shopping Coupons from Groupon!!!

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post, and all opinions stated here are mine.

Image result for groupon logo

I think we’re all familiar with Groupon by now and their awesome discounted offers for local dining, activities, and events.  And last week, I talked about all the great merchandise available to you through Groupon Goods.  But did you know that you can also shop online at many of your favorite merchants using amazing coupons from Groupon Coupons?!?

Everybody who knows me knows I’m the coupon queen.  Friends at church even call me Shopping Girl!  Seriously, if there’s a deal to be had, I’m the one to find it.  So imagine how excited I was to discover this great cache of coupons at Groupon Coupons

Let’s look at a couple of examples.  With the holidays coming up, and so many people in your life who are inevitably hard to buy for, how about something personalized from Things Remembered?  I remember one year, I wanted to do something extra special for a milestone anniversary for my parents.  My mom had always wanted a clock with a pendulum, so my siblings and I went in together to her one.  To make it extra special, I went to Things Remembered and had them engrave a special gold plate marking their 35 years together.  It attached with adhesive to the front of the clock we’d purchased, and my mom treasured it for so many years, and it was always on the wall by her chair.  My parents have both passed on, and that clock is now on the wall beside my own chair.  It’s that personalization from Things Remembered that made it such a special keepsake. 

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Things Remembered has such a variety of items to choose from, and they even carry NFL and MLB items for the special man in your life!  They also have beautiful frames for graduation pictures that can be personalized!  Pick out the perfect gift and take advantage of Groupon’s awesome coupons like 20% off and free shipping on personalized gifts!  How awesome is that?  And that’s just one of 32 coupons for this vendor currently listed on Groupon Coupons.


And everybody needs shoes, right?  And women like to look great wearing them, .  With the cold weather coming on, I inevitably turn to specialty stores like Naturalizer where I can buy narrow shoes for my slender feet.  I have a thing for booties in the fall and winter, and I know I can count on Naturalizer for quality.  I’ll never forget the first birthday I celebrated with my husband about two months after I got married.  I’d had my eye on a pair of booties at Naturalizer but didn’t think I could afford them.  My husband surprised me that year with those very shoes and a matching leather jacket!  I was so surprised and so happy, anNaturalizer Ashley Bootd I can tell you that I still have those shoes and wear them to this day, and it’s been 22 years!  I must admit that I’ve just about worn out the soles, so you can bet I checked for a great coupon at Groupon before looking at the selections available at Naturalizer.  Check these booties out…how cute are they?

And Groupon has a great coupon for 25% off any order and free shipping at Naturalizer!  Where else have you seen such amazing coupons?  And that’s just one of 25 coupons for this vendor currently listed on Groupon Coupons.

Groupon Coupons are definitely something you want to check out while you’re doing your shopping this holiday season. 

Happy shopping!

P.S.  Want to keep up with Groupon and all their latest offers?  Check them out on Facebook and Twitter!

#GrouponCoupons #ad

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Meat Deals for Thanksgiving

It’s always a challenge each year to find reasonable prices for a good sliced ham and a turkey breast for our Thanksgiving meal.  It seems the prices go up significantly every year! 

Most years, I usually find that Target ends up with the best deal on a Market Pantry Turkey Breast.  I just eat white meat, and I cook it in a rotisserie with a 10-lb.Image result for market pantry turkey breast weight limit, so just the breast works out great for me.  I try to get as close to the limit as possible.  In several past years, I’ve waited until the week of Thanksgiving and found the turkey breast for 99 cents/lb. at Target.  So far this year, I haven’t seen any prices anywhere near that in any of the sale ads.  Target still has the cheapest price I’ve seen for a turkey breast, but it’s $1.39./lb. this year.  I’m thinking of holding off until Sunday to see if they come out with a better price in the new sale ad, but I also hesitate to wait until we’re so close to the big day!  Have you seen any better price?  If so, please share!

In the past, I’ve usually just bought my quarter sliced ham at Wal-mart, which seems to have the best price on ham in general.  But this year, I stumbled upon an awesome price at my Kroger Marketplace!  The sign said the Private Selection Image result for private selection quarter sliced hamquarter sliced ham was on sale for $3.99/lb., but when I picked up the honey double-smoked variety, all of those were marked at $1.99/lb.!  I must have stood there looking at it for quite some time in shock and disbelief, and then my son said “well, you should probably get it then!”  So I plopped in a quarter sliced ham for $4.25, and low and behold, they had mailed me a coupon at home for another $2 off, making my final price $2.25!  Now that had to be the deal of the century!  I’m sure I’ll never get so lucky as that again!  I was shopping there this morning and noticed there were none on the shelf, so I’m thinking everyone who noticed it swiped one, too, while the gettin’ was good!

I have to admit that other than that, I haven’t done any shopping for Thanksgiving as of yet.  I’m so busy shopping every other day with a list of what I need for my 3 from-scratch meals every day on my Comfort Food Diet Plan that I haven’t really thought about it that much.  I guess I’d better step up my shopping, huh?  I suspect all the basics will start disappearing from the store shelves by this weekend.

I usually make rotisserie turkey breast, sliced ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade dinner rolls, gravy, whole cranberry sauce, and a couple of different vegetables.  Then I make fruit salad and usually pumpkin trifle for dessert.  I might change up dessert this year, but I haven’t decided yet.  We shall see.  The fruit salad will never leave the menu, though.  It’s my childhood favorite, and my mom always made it for us.  It was the only time of year that we got to have it!

What do you have planned for your Thanksgiving menu this year?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kwik Stix Review and Holiday Gift Recommendation

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post, and all opinions are mine.  I received two packs of Kwik Stix to try in exchange for my honest review.

Earlier in the year, I had a chance to review the standard colors in the Kwik Stix 12 pk by The Pencil Grip, Inc.  My middle school-aged daughter loved them so much that she jumped at the opportunity to check out two new sets of colors that have come out just in time for the holidays!

Check out these Metalix and Neons!


Haylee dove right in as soon as the box arrived!


These are available for just $5.99 per six-pack!  I wish my photos could do the colors justice.  They are so vibrant and vivid!  Haylee had so much fun getting to work on her creations with these great solid acrylic paint sticks.  And I continue to love that they make absolutely no mess at all.  The last time she painted with regular acrylic paints, she failed to wash her brushes in a timely manner, and they were totally ruined!  So was anything she got the paint on accidentally, so I’m practically in love with these no-mess Kwik Stix!

Her first creation was made using the Neons.


Next, she did a picture with half Neons and half Metalix colors so you could see the contrast and the shimmery appearance of the beautiful Metalix!


And with the holidays coming, she decided to use the Neons to draw a Christmas tree and the shiny Metalix to do the tinsel and other decorations.


The Kwik Stix sets continue to be a favorite art supply for Haylee.  They work well on paper, cardboard, poster board, wood, and canvas!  They store conveniently in their original packaging with a form-fitted tray inside the outer box.  What’s more, your child’s creations dry in just 90 seconds, so there’s no need to hang them up to dry!

They are affordably priced and would make a great holiday gift for the artist in your household!  Pick up a few sets in a variety of colors and let your child’s imagination take over!  They are sure to be a favorite in your home, too.

Monday, November 7, 2016

It’s Time to Holiday Shop Once Again!

Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post, and all opinions stated here are mine.

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Now that Halloween is behind us, we’re all faced with that task of shopping and preparing for the holiday season.  I don’t know about you, but every year, I find myself completely challenged in coming up with gifts for the men in my life.  I’m telling it like it is…kids are easy to buy for in comparison!

This year, I have my husband and a 17-year old son on that list.  Man, that’s tough!  My husband never wants anything, and my son is not one to ask for anything.  Getting ideas out of either one of them is like pulling teeth!

That’s where Groupon Goods comes in.  Most everyone, I think, knows about Groupon with its offers for discounted visits to restaurants and things to do.  You might even be aware of the travel deals from Groupon Getaways.  But are you aware of Groupon Goods and all that it has to offer? 

image for Beats by Dr. Dre Solo2 On-Ear Headphones—Refurbished

At Groupon Goods, you can find all kinds of merchandise, from small appliances to fancy headphones, electronics to housewares, and bedding to clothing.  The possibilities are endless, and the selection changes all the time!  That makes it a great place to start looking for the perfect gift for that hard-to-satisfy friend or family member on your list.

In truth, I even shop for myself there!  My most recent purchase was an awesome food dehydrator.  I’d been wanting one for quite some time, and I’d shopped around a great deal trying to find the features I wanted at a price I could afford.  Then one day, a Groupon Goods deal showed up in my inbox, and there it was!  It even included the accessories that I expected to have to purchase separately.  And the best part…the price was just right!  I am very pleased.

Ronco 5-Tray EZ-Store Turbo Dehydrator with Leather and Herb Screens: Ronco 5-Tray EZ-Store Turbo Dehydrator with Leather and Herb Screens

So check out the selection and start crossing those gifts off your list without even heading out the door to fight the crowds!

The best way to stay informed is to sign up for emails.  If nothing else, it reminds you to go to the site and check out what’s newly available.  You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter

Happy shopping!

REVIEW: Language Smarts™ Level E by The Critical Thinking Co.™

I was really excited to review Language Smarts™ Level E by The Critical Thinking Co.™ with my 8-year old son, Holden.



Language Smarts™ Level E is a colorful 392-page comprehensive workbook that covers a wide range of language arts lessons for students in 4th grade.  It includes concepts in reading, writing, grammar, and punctuation skills.  It even helps students develop 5th grade skills in critical thinking, vocabulary, and more! 

No lesson preparation is required by the teacher, and the simple, straight-forward lessons are presented in a concise manner before several pages of practice and skill development are provided for each concept.

This workbook can be used as a full language arts curriculum or as additional practice alongside another textbook.  With 258 individual assignments, there’s enough content to provide the student with up to 2 assignments per school day to be completed over the course of the entire school year.  Its colorful presentation and simple layout are designed with visual learners in mind.

This product is available for just $42.99, and you can choose between either print or e-book formats. This series is offered in levels B-E for grades 1-4.



Let me just say that I was impressed with this workbook from the moment it arrived.  It was much larger than I had pictured in my mind, and as I thumbed through it, I was immediately drawn to the large and spacious font that was so easy on my tired old eyes, as well as the colorful highlighting in the lessons.

There is a table of contents that helps you locate just the topic you might want to work on at any given time.  In addition, there is a colorful chart that lays out the standards of learning, grouped in colored boxes by topic.  These features make it easy to navigate to a specific skill or concept.  There’s also an easy-to-use answer key located at the back of the book.DSCF4750

Each lesson begins with a red bordered box that explains the concept and includes green highlighting for examples.  I loved that instructions for every lesson are highlighted in yellow, making it easy for students to spot just what they are expected to do.  My son often rushes through and fails to read complete instructions on worksheets, so I felt that was a useful feature to gain his attention to the necessary details of each assignment.

Every page includes plenty of practice in applying the concept and demonstrating understanding, and there are varied activities for each concept to be practiced over a period of time.

Because Holden is only in 3rd grade this year, I decided to slow the pace to just oneDSCF4751 assignment per day to be spread out over this school year and next.  I felt he was capable of understanding the concepts, but I slowed down the pace just a bit so he doesn’t run into more advanced concepts too early.  So far, it seems to be just fine for him!  I helped him out by doing a lot of the writing for him as he answered orally and by assisting him with word searches by giving him hints on where to look.  This worked out great for him!  He thought the assignments were fun, and he liked the way the format varied from day to day.

During the review period, we covered 5 exercises on syllables, 8 exercises on prefixes, and 3 of the 8 assignments on suffixes.  He did tasks like breaking up words into syllables, deciding which syllable to accent, demonstrating understanding of how a prefix or a suffix changes a word’s meaning, choosing correct prefixes and suffixes to make new words to be used in context, unscrambling words with prefixes and suffixes that we’d used in previous lessons, finding words we’d used in word search puzzles, organizing words into groups based on their prefixes and suffixes, and creating sentences using those words.









In later lessons, we’ll cover topics like these:

  • word relationships (synonyms, antonyms, anagrams, analogies, palindromes
  • spelling
  • editing
  • using reference materials (dictionary, thesaurus, online resources, nonfiction books)DSCF4755
  • reading comprehension
  • parts of speech (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, injections)
  • sentences (types, subject/verb agreement, clauses, etc.)
  • capitalization and punctuation
  • using words correctly (homophones, misused words, homographs)
  • reading and writing skills (context clues, similes and metaphors, idioms, proverbs, genres of literature, point of view, inferences, characters, theme, etc.)
  • writing (the writing process, personal narratives, opinion writing, and informative writing)

As you can see, the contents are quite thorough and comprehensive.  I am especially pleased to see that by the end of our 4th grade year, we will have begun to address the writing process, and Holden will have had the opportunity to use the steps in the writing process to create three types of writing samples of his own. 

Language Smarts™ Level E truly is a complete language arts program, and I’d be completely comfortable with using it exclusively for grammar and writing instruction, adding in only vocabulary, spelling, and handwriting to accompany it.  Take a look at the sample pages and try it out for yourself!

With the importance of preschool academics, you might also want to check out their Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten! software bundle if you have younger children in your household.

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this and many other products from The Critical Thinking Co.™ by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

This Week’s Freebies!

This is a busy week.  I suspect Super Tuesday will be full of long lines and people waiting on pins and needles to see what’s next for the leadership of our country.

Sometimes, local spots will offer freebies like FREE coffee or doughnuts for displaying your “I Voted” sticker, so watch local ads and listen to your your local radio stations for any special offers on election day.

For instance, you can get a FREE doughnut of your choice at Krispy KremeImage result for krispy kreme for showing your “I Voted” sticker, and you can get a FREE coffee at 7-Eleven stores through your rewards app.  So watch out for these kinds of offers, which will surely be talked about all day on Tuesday!

Friday is Veteran’s Day, so here are some of the many freebies for all the veterans out there!


At IHOP, show your proof of active duty or veteran status to receive FREE red, white, and blue pancakes!  This includes a stack of 3 buttermilk pancakes topped with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote, and whipped topping!  This offer is valid on Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM.

At select locations, they’re even offering a FREE combo of two eggs, hashbrowns, or your choice of 2 bacon strips or pork sausage links for retired and active duty personnel.  Check with your local restaurant for details.


You can also snag a FREE meal at Applebee’s on Veteran’s Day, any time from open to close.  There are seven meals to choose from…proof of service required.

  • Butcher’s Meat and PotatoesImage result for applebees
  • Oriental Chicken Salad
  • Fiesta Lime Chicken
  • Chicken Tenders Platter
  • Double Crunch Shrimp
  • American Standard All-In Burger
  • Three-Cheese Chicken Cavatappi


Select locations of Chili’s are offering a FREE meal to veterans and active duty members on Veteran’s Day.  You get your choice of five meals…proof of service required.Image result for chilis

  • Old-timer with Cheese
  • Soup & Salad
  • Chicken Crispers
  • Chipotle Chicken
  • Margherita Flatbread

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Red Robin’s is offering a FREE Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Fries to veterans with proof of service on Friday at participating locations.


Additional FREE meals are offered at places like Olive Garden, Golden Corral, Texas Roadhouse, etc.  FREE appetizers or desserts are also offered at a whole host of additional restaurants.  See the full list of freebies for veterans at this link!

With a list that long, there’s got to be something for every veteran out there!  So take your pick and enjoy a free meal…you deserve it!  Thank you for your service.

Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

REVIEW: Many Nations Once-A-Week Micro-Studies by Homeschool Legacy

Having used another unit study from Homeschool Legacy in the past, I was really excited to get to review the Once-a-Week Micro-Studies Many Nations this time around!



The Many Nations Once-a-Week Micro-Study is intended to give children in grades 1-8 a thorough understanding of the Northeast Woodland, Southeast, Southwest, and Plains nations in just 4 weeks.

Parents can read the suggested novel or another related novel of your choosing on the topic during the week and then have students work on three weekly assignments that only take approximately 30 minutes each.  You have the freedom do those assignments individually throughout the week, or if you wish, you can do the three assignments in one sitting in approximately an hour and a half.  It’s up to you!

The beauty of the micro-study is that there’s less printing to do since the assignment materials are found in the embedded links in your digital file.  You can print the file if you prefer and then use the links on your computer, or just open and use the whole thing on your device.  You do need access to a printer for the activities at the links, as many of them are hands-on crafts.

This micro-study is available for just $12.00.  Be sure to check out a sample week of this study.



My 8-year old son, Holden, is spending this whole first year of our American history studies learning about the American Indian people and their interactions with the explorers and the subsequent colonies.  So we thought this was the perfect time to add in the Many Nations micro-study for additional learning and hands-on activities.

We have recently read some wonderful books like Sign of the Beaver, Walk the World’s Rim, North American Indians, and The Arrow Over the Door, so we chose not to use the suggested novel, which we’re scheduled to read down the road.  We just focused our attention of all of the exciting activities in this study!

I have to admit that I do like to hold a printed copy iDSCF4746n my hands, so my first step was to print out the 20-page digital file for Many Nations.  I laminated the cover and back page, and I punched and bound it with a spiral comb to make a lovely guide I could refer to without sitting at my computer.  That’s just me!  It helped me to sit comfortably and read and plan for our weekly lessons, but I did still need to go to the digital file for the links to the additional materials and printables.DSCF4747

In week 1, the study focused on the Northeast Woodland Nations.  We worked on geography by coloring that region on a blank map of the U.S., and then we searched online to find out where each of the listed nations resided within the region.  Then we cut out the names from the printable materials and glued the labels in place on the map.

Next, we used the included link to print out the design for a model longhouse.  There were instDSCF4733ructions for a two-fire longhouse and a three-fire longhouse.  Of course, we went for the big one!  We colored it, cut it out, and glued the tabs together to form a 3-D model.  It was even complete with chimney holes you could open on top to let out the smoke from the fires inside.  Holden thought that was very cool!  It even stood up on its own on the table, and it was much larger than we expected.  I have to admit that it was pretty fun to make!  I kept thinking it would be fun to order some of those little action figures of American Indians and turn these cool crafts into action scenes!  I must have been a parent of boys for too long, but that’s another story.  Smile  We read all about the role of the longhouses among this people group and how they were used to house as many as dozens of families.  Living with your extended family is definitely different from the culture in which we live.DSCF4735

We also used the included link to print out and create a paper doll of a young Indian boy (there was a girl included, as well).  To make it easier to handle the flimsy pieces, we decided to just glue on the clothes so we could see the completed paper doll.  If you were actually going to use it as a reusable toy, I would suggest printing it on more durable cardstock.  We colored the clothing and put it together, and it stood up on is little stand.  It was pretty cute!


Our next activity was to make a tomahawk using the included link.  Unfortunately, the link within the study was no longer valid.  That was a little bit of a disappointment because I knew this was going to be a hit with my son, so after a bit of quick thinking, I searched online for a printable tomahawk.  We printed it on regular paper, colored it, and cut it out.  Holden was pretty happy with that as-is, but I told him we could even mount it on some cardboard or cardstock to make it even more durable.  Then we went on to read in the study about the meaning of the phrase “bury the hatchet” and its origins and some related history information surrounding that idea.

Next, there was a little bit of bible study about forgiveness from Ephesians, and the guide led us to discuss how that relates to the concept of burying the hatchet.  It suggested that if we had someone we needed to forgive, perhaps we could write their name on the feather of our tomahawk and bury it under a tree as a symbol of our decision to forgive, just as the Iroquois people had done.  The guide also discussed the idea that our founding fathers may have used the Iroquois Confederacy as a basis for drafting our own United States Constitution.  We found that fascinating!

In week 2, we learned about the Southeast Nations.  For geography, we again colored that region of the map, researched the location of the listed nations, and placed their labels on the map. 

Next, we focused on the Cherokee language.  There was an excelCherokee Languagelent explanation given for the creation of the Cherokee alphabet and the history behind it.  There was an image of what the characters looked like.  It definitely looked foreign to us!  But we learned about how it enabled the Cherokee people to have their very own bi-lingual Native American newspaper called the Cherokee Phoenix.  There was a link to it in the guide so we could check it out for ourselves, but unfortunately, this link was no longer working.

Our first activity for this was to create some sentences in Cherokee.  We did this orally, which was very entertaining to say the least!  There was a pronunciation guide provided, and we had a blast taking turns trying to pronounce our simple sentences.  I guess we did sound pretty funny to each other!  That was a lot of fun.  We both realized that English seems much simpler, as there are a lot less syllables in our language to say the same things!  I also used the included link to print out a coloring page of Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, and Holden got to color that.

Next, we moved on to some history study about the Five Civilized Nations and the actions of President Jackson that led to the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears.  That was very sad, but it’s a piece of history that teaches important lessons to us today.

Next, we created a simple timeline using the included link to some printable blank timeline sheets to get DSCF4749us started.  We added the Trail of Tears, Hiawatha and the Iroquois Confederacy, and Sequoya and the Cherokee alphabet to our timeline using simple images we found online.  The guide suggested we make it so it would fit in a 3-ring binder, but we trimmed ours and pasted the pages together so we could place it on the wall as we study if we choose, or we can fold it and keep it in a pocket in our notebook.  I really liked the idea of using images along with labels to make the timeline more interesting and visually appealing!

In week 3, we learned about the Plains Nations.  We did the same geography activity, focusing on labeling the tribes in their region.  We read about them in the guide, and then we used the included link to an online activity that helped us figure out some Indian sign language.  That was pretty fun!  If you guessed wrong, the game would let you try again until you got it right.  When it was all done, it revealed a picture and name of the Plains Indian who was a sign language expert.  It was even fun to play the game again and see if we could do a better job of matching the symbols and words on the next round!

In our next activity, we were challenged with making a Plains Indian diorama.  Now my son is not the crafty tyDSCF4748pe, but his big sister jumped in volunteered to help with this one!  She’s the artist in the family.  So we took some shortcuts by running to the local hobby store and picking up a basic diorama display box (because I didn’t have a show box), as well as a tube of Indian figurines.  Then we searched online for a background image we could print and place in the diorama box as a backdrop.  We found one with tepees, so that was perfect because we didn’t have to make our own teepees with the included link!  Then my daughter and husband had fun creating the foreground and setting up the figurines in a cute little scene.  Holden was just happy that he would get to play with it when it was all done!  (Typical boy, of course.)

Next, we read about the buffalo round-up.  There was a link in this section to scenes of a buffalo kill from the movie Dances with Wolves, but that video, hosted on YouTube, was blocked for copyright reasons.  I was a bit disappointed again by another link to invalid content.  There was also a link to video from the Custer State Park Buffalo Round-up.  It was about 16 minutes long, so just skimmed through it to get an idea of how the gather up the buffalo. 

The final week of this micro-study will cover the Southwest Nations.  We’ll be getting to this part of the study next week.  It includes the geography map activity, some anthropology of the Navajo people, and some crafts like sand painting and art appreciation of Navajo jewelry, textiles, pottery, and baskets with the included links.

All in all, this micro-study was pretty fun!  The only downside for us was the invalid links we encountered.  I think it would be important for the vendor to keep the links updated as necessary since they provide a good portion of the interactive nature of the study.  But we enjoyed the reasonably-sized chunks of learning in the guide with plenty of hands-on activities interspersed throughout the study, which definitely makes it more appealing to elementary aged students, and I believe my middle school aged daughter would have enjoyed doing this study with us, as well, since there were so many hands-on crafts to keep her interest level up.  It was definitely worth our time, and it was a great supplement to our American Indian history studies! 

With the holidays just around the corner, you might consider checking out the Once-a-Week Micro-Studies Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims or the Once-a-Week Unit Study Christmas Comes to America, as well.

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