Monthly Archives: April 2011

Review of Unit Study E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Puffer Fish

Review of Unit Study E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Puffer Fish

Review of E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Puffer Fish

I can’t tell you how excited I was to be asked to review the unit study from The Old Schoolhouse (TOS)! I have seen many ads for their products, but had never purchased anything.  I just wasn’t sure what they were all about or if they were quality materials.  Well, my mind is now made up!  When I downloaded and opened the ebook I was hooked within seconds, REALLY!  The content and quality are outstanding.  Let me give you a run down of what I received:

Explorations with Professor Ana Lyze – Expert in Outlandish Oddities – A FUN unit study for kids ages 8–13

What’s included in this unit:

  • Bible study and memory verses
  • Math, history, and geography investigations
  • Literature and suggested book list
  • Writing, spelling, and vocabulary activities
  • Beautiful copywork pages (manuscript and cursive)
  • Science observations, projects, and experiments
  • Discussion questions
  • Art, crafts, drawing, and coloring pages
  • Lapbook and notebook pages
  • Internet resources and video links
  • Complete answer key

It is 77 pages of pure fun and learning at the same time, and we all know that kids learn best when they enjoy the process!  So, do you know how puffer fish puff? (try to say that three times!) Are they really filled with air? Thanks to the fun activities and information in the ebook, our family has been pufferized!  Here’s what impressed me:

  • Everything you need to teach is in one location. You don’t have to hunt down books and websites that will work.  They have done the research for you and included websites. They also have researched puffer fish and written the information your kids want to know in easy to read language. Because of that, it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other. My kids were learning while having fun, so they didn’t have that “glazed over” look in their eyes!
  • Lapbook and notebook pages. I have become huge fan of lapbooks recently (as many of you know) and it’s all included.
  • Answer key. You don’t have to go hunting to find an answer or spend time trying to figure out if it is right!
  • Totally usable for a variety of ages. I loved that my 7 year old got things out of this along with my 11 year old.  My 4 year old loved listening in on our reading and loved the pictures included.
  • It really does include activities for Math (time, measurement, mulitiplication, exchange rates).  There is a smorgasbord of things to choose from that will include all of your children.
  • It also includes fun ways to learn language arts, spelling, vocabulary, and handwriting.
  • It also has hands on activities for your kids to do.  Paper mache puffer fish, etc (supplies not included)
  • It is downloadable.  You don’t have to wait to get it in the mail.
  • I can print out which activities we want to do and as many copies as we need for our family.
  • It was a great break from our regular curriculum (Sonlight).
  • I loved that it includes God (without feeling like they tried to awkwardly force it in!)

My three oldest children loved the unit study.  (Ages 7-11) We didn’t complete every activity. With more planning I would have done more of the activiites. However, I still couldn’t be happier with this product. With all that said, I have one minor complaint.  When I printed specific pages to do I looked at the page numbers on the PDF pages.  They are not the same as what my printer thought were the page numbers.  No biggie, I just have to pay better attention next time.

Curiosity Files have other topics than just puffer fish, such as:

Most of these ebooks are $6.95, but right now a few of them are $1.00. Yes, you read that right! $1.00!! For the price of a newspaper or a McDonald’s Sweet Tea you can’t go wrong. Rush over to The Old Schoolhouse Store right now and buy them before it’s too late, and let me know which ones you get!

A Fun Game-Ruckus!

A Fun Game-Ruckus!

I hope that you had an awesome weekend celebrating Jesus and all that He did for us!  We had a great time in Iowa and our hosts served up a wonderful Easter meal.  After dinner a few of us played a game new to us.  It is called Ruckus.  It was an absolute blast to play!  I had to share it with you.  I had never seen it before!

It is a simple game to learn and even non-readers can play the game.  Everyone starts out with 7 cards in their hands (all funny picture cards).  The “dealer” (each round a different player is dealer) keeps giving each player a card until players can start making matches.  Once you have a match you lay the set in front of you.  Here is where it gets fun.  If you have a single card in your hand and it matches someone elses set on the table you can steal it!  Then you lay it in front of you.  Whoever gets rid of all of their cards first gets 5 points plus all the points in their stacks on the table.  Everyone else adds up what they had on the table and subtracts what they had in their hands.  Really a simple game, but it gets crazy!  I think the instructions say to play to 50 points, but we just kept a running tally and played about 2 hours it was so much fun!

It is available on Amazon for less than $10! Click here see it there!


Easter Activities our Family Did…You Still Have Time!

Easter Activities our Family Did…You Still Have Time!

Our family had such a great time Friday night celebrating what Jesus did for us! It started out after a wonderful dinner I made from scratch (it has been a while!) of homemade Artisan Bread and Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup (I invented this recipe on the spot!)  I will definitely try to post about both of these things soon.

More importantly, I wanted to tell you about some of the Easter activities that we did together as a family.  After dinner, we had the kids hang out in one of their rooms so we could hide Easter baskets and candy-filled eggs.  (Yes, I know it isn’t Easter morning, but my husband is speaking/doing magic for kids’ church at another church Saturday night and Sunday morning so we have to rearrange our schedule a bit!)  Once they came down we let them search for the eggs and baskets.

After that was over we dyed easter eggs.  I just bought the boring old egg dyeing kit.  Oh, it did have the cool cellophane shrink wrap things.  The kids really liked those.  We did do something new this year!  I read somewhere online that you can use rubber cement on your eggs before you dip them in the dye.  They turned out really neat and was such a fun, new thing to do.  Make sure that after you put the glue on where you want, that you allow it to dry completely before you dip it.  We wised up and started using a hair dryer to dry them faster.

Once you are done dipping the egg in the dye, you can peel or rub off the rubber cement and the egg is completely white underneath.  This one was just pulled out but the rubber cement isn’t peeled off yet.

Once we finished coloring our eggs we made our Resurrection Cookies.  I couldn’t believe how much they didn’t like the taste of plain salt.  We all took turns mixing it and with 5 children that broke down to 2 minutes a piece.

We had a good laugh as my husband was reading the directions from the blog and we realized that I have a typo and tell you to “give each chile a piece of tape”.  Sorry about that, it sure did give us a laugh. Now I don’t know if I should edit it or not?  Here are the older 4 “sealing the tomb”. Well, I guess you see 3 kiddos, plus an extra arm….

I do think that the littlest one, enjoyed making the Resurrection Cookies the most.

I would really like to encourage you to take the time to create a new family tradition this Easter.  I know our kids loved making the cookies. It was such a cool way to incorporate Scripture into an activity.  They really were into it.  I have read about them for quite a few years and never had gotten around to making them.  Make it happen this year if you haven’t done it yet.  Not to sound morbid, but you don’t know if you will have the opportunity next year to do this with your kids.  Seize the opportunity this weekend!  Things don’t happen unless you plan them.

Do you have a fun and different way to dye eggs? Did you get a chance to dye them this year?  Did you make the Resurrection Cookies or plan to make them soon?  Let me know!

Happy Easter to you and your family!

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection Cookies

I am sure that many of you are aware of resurrection cookies.  I have read about them over the years, but have never tried making them and doing the scripture readings that go with the different steps of making the cookies.  I really think they are such a neat idea and am hoping to try them this year. (I am hoping that you will make them this year too!)

I have looked at quiet a few different sites and no one seems to know where they originated.  Here’s the recipe and devotional to go along while you make the recipe.

Resurrection Cookies


1 cup whole pecans

1 teaspoon vinegar

3 egg whites

a pinch of salt

1 cup of sugar

a ziplock bag

a wooden spoon

scotch or masking tape



These can be made the night before Easter or if you can’t do that anytime coming up to Easter would be just fine.  Let’s not beat ourselves up over trying to make this perfect!


Preheat oven to 300F.  (Do this now, don’t forget and try to do it later)

Place pecans in the ziplock bag.  Let your children hit them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Explain that after Jesus was arrested Roman soldiers beat him.  Read John 19:1-3

Allow each child to smell the vinegar.  Put 1 t. into mixing bowl.  Tell your children that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink.  Ewwww. Read John 19:28-30

Add egg whites to vinegar.  Eggs represent life.  Explain that Jesus gave His life so that we might have life.  Read John 10:10-11

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand.  Have them taste it and then brush it into the bowl.  This salt represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers and the bitterness of our own sin.  Read Luke 23:27

So far the ingredients are really appetizing.  Add 1 cup of sugar.  Explain that this is the sweetest part of the story….Jesus died because He loves us.  He wants us to know and belong to Him.  Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents our purity in God’s eyes once we have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3

Fold in broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto a waxed paper covered cookie sheet.  Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.  Read Matthew 27:57-60

Put the cookie sheet into the oven, close the door and TURN OFF THE OVEN.

Give each chile a piece of tape and seal the oven door.  Tell your children that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.  Read Matthew 27:65-66


Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.  Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.  Read John 16:20 & 22

On Resurrection Sunday (EASTER) morning (Or a different morning if that works better for you, remember we are not beating ourselves up for not doing it on the perfect day if it isn’t possible-doing it sometime is better than not at all), open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice when you take a bite, that they are hollow!!  On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  Read Matthew 28:1-9

I really hope that you will find some time to make these with your kids.  It is such a tangible (and tasty) way to explain the Easter story to them.