Serve the City

Our kids enjoy serving in the community.  They have been a part of some great service projects in the past and they have enjoyed reaching out to others and spreading the love of Jesus to those around us.  We feel that giving our children opportunities to put other people first is an important life lesson for them, especially in today's society which seems to be so focused on self and whatever makes YOU happy. This weekend they had another great experience and they were quite busy with two separate service projects.

We started on Friday packing backpack full of school supplies for students in the Lewisville Independent School District.  The school district has a Back to School Fair coming up where students who are in financial need can pick up school supplies, get a haircut, vision test, and more, all for free.  We showed up at Lewisville High School and saw the cafeteria overflowing with school supplies!  

Each table had one type of school supply on it and we all worked together in an assembly line format to grab a back pack and fill it will all of the supplies.  We started on the table with the spiral notebooks.  The table before us would hand us a back pack and then the kids would put two spiral notebooks in the pack and pass it on to the next table.

We were signed up for a two hour shift so it made it more interesting when someone announced that we were all switching up stations to add some variety.  Next we packed dry erase markers.  

There were a lot of volunteers.  I would guess that there were about 16 tables set up.  It got to be rather fast-paced at times and sometimes we had to stop just to let other tables get caught up.

I'm amazed at how many backpacks we packed in such a short amount of time.

Next we worked on loading up carts to carry them out of the cafeteria.  Rachel was a great helper.

Nicholas was eager to help push the loaded carts.  It was a workout because the full carts had to be pushed up a ramp to get to the staging area.  

Saturday morning we started off at the Valley Creek Church Lewisville campus in their Next Step Center.  It was our first time to visit our church's new campus.  It's beautiful!

The kids were excited to find breakfast tacos waiting for them.  It was about 7:30 in the morning so it was a nice way to help wake up and get going.

Our pastor has taught us about asking God for guidance, listening to His voice, and responding with obedience.  Follow the Cloud with faith where ever God may lead you.  This weekend we followed the cloud by helping others in our community.

I love the new Next Step Center.  It is a community outreach center that is part of our church and it runs on these five principles:

1. Engage with those in need in our community
2. Advocate for the underserved in the community
3. Build strategic relationships
4. Develop community kingdom leaders
5. Equip and release people to meet the needs they see

We are so happy that we can be a part of this local mission.  We drove over to Lewisville Elementary School and gathered to learn about the projects for the day.

There is a student garden area that had been overgrown with grass and weeds.  We started with cleaning out all of the beds.

It was hot outside even in the shade but it is always a good feeling to get our hands in the dirt.

Nicholas helped shovel out some of the dead material.

It was nice when we could start seeing a difference in the beds.

We moved on to some other projects.  There were four picnic tables that needed fresh coats of paint.

Rachel and I helped with the green table.  She painted the top first. 

Once she started painting the underside of the table, she dripped paint on herself and in her hair but she was still all smiles.

Meanwhile, Nicholas worked on cleaning up and straightening the paver walkway that led to the garden area.

He pulled up the old pavers.  He worked hard.  These pavers were heavy and he was working in the direct sun in the heat of July.

He cleaned off the dry dirt and crud from the pavers so they would now lie flat and even.

What a difference a fresh new look can make!

Some people from church stopped by with popsicles to help us cool off.  What a wonderful weekend it has been working together as a family while serving others in our community.

Summer Study of US Geography using the U.S.A. Activity Bundle {Review}

We aren't doing our regular homeschool work over the summer but I still have the kids doing a few short studies that we can wrap up before the regular school year starts back up.  I'd rather keep their brains active a little bit each day than have them get into a summer slump.  It is so hard getting back into a routine after their brains have turn to mush.

One of the things we have been doing this summer is going over U.S. Geography.  This is new work for Rachel and review for Nicholas but it has been fun.  It's been easy on me because I signed up to review the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom and it has been the perfect fit.  The USA Activity Bundle is a PDF download that includes three products: USA State-by-State Activity Notebook, USA State-by-State 50 Mazes, USA State Birds.  I downloaded all three products and then bound the Activity Notebook and Mazes so they had their own workbook for those products.  We used the State Birds packet a little differently though.
USA Activity Bundle
We start our work by learning about a new state.  The USA Activity Bundle includes information about the state birds and flowers but not much else.  It is more of a consumable product for children to compile on their own the information they have learned.  So I read aloud a brief history from a geography book of my own.  While I'm reading to them, the kids work on the maze for that state.  It is a rather easy maze but a great way to review the shape of the state.

Once I've taught them about the state, they use that information to fill out their USA State-by-State Activity Notebook.

I just love how all of the information for each state is laid out for them.  It will make for a beautiful reference tool for them once we have completed all 50 states.

The USA State Birds packet includes a printable page for each state.  The page contains three parts, each of which can be cut out and used on their own.  There is a picture of the bird along with lines to write additional information about the bird.  Next, there is an outline drawing of the bird to be colored.  Finally, there are two small blocks that include a picture of the bird and the name and state for the bird.  These can be used as a matching game to test knowledge of the birds and their corresponding states.

We love learning about nature and wildlife so my children have really enjoyed using the State Birds packet.  One way we have used it is by having the children color the birds then I laminated the pages and cut out the blocks.  They can use these as identification when we are on nature walks but they also use the cards to quiz each other.  One of them picks a card (not letting the other child see it) and describes the bird aloud while the other child tries to guess the name of the bird being described. 

Crafty Classroom
We have used other downloadable products from The Crafty Classroom in the past.  Here are a few other products that you might be interested in:

Crafty Classroom

Crafty Classroom

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Make Kids Crafts Fun with Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit {Review}

We love making crafts in our home.  We make crafts for fun and we use them regularly during our homeschool studies to bring what we've learned to life.  Here's my take on crafts and homeschool: You can simply read a book about the Spartans and move on or you can read about them, build your own Spartan helmet and sword, and then have pretend Spartan battles with your friends.  Which way do you think children will remember more about their studies of Sparta?

Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit

I saw that the Homeschool Review Crew had an opportunity to review the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTIVA Products.  I'm always trying to learn new ways to craft so I was excited to sign up for this review.  We've now had a chance to play around with with both products and they are amazing!  I can't wait to tell you more about them.

First, I downloaded the FREE eBook of ACTÍVA's Favorite Sculpture Kids Crafts.  It contains 12 simple projects to make with Rigid Wrap and CelluClay.  Then our kit arrived in the mail!  Included in the box is 2 rolls of Rigid Wrap, 1 bag of CelluClay, and a project sheet.

We started with the Rigid Wrap.  I wasn't sure what to expect because I had never of this product before. The packaging says it is plaster cloth and you can create amazing shapes in under 30 minutes.  Sounds great!

The kit came with 2 rolls of Rigid Wrap.  Each roll is 4 inches wide and 5 yards long.  Rigid Wrap is like having paper mache embedded in a roll of gauze but it is dry and ready to use.  It is really an interesting concept.

We cut strips of Rigid Wrap ahead of time.  To activate it, simply dunk it in water then rub it with your fingers until it is soft and creamy white.

Rachel wanted to make a bowl so I used plastic wrap to cover and protect one of our dinner bowls and she used that as her mold.  She just wrapped the strips of wet Rigid Wrap over the bowl and smoothed them out.

Once she had covered the inside and outside of the bowl, she set it aside to dry.

Next Rachel wanted to use the Rigid Wrap to make her own beads.  There are instructions for making several different shaped beads but the concept is pretty much the same.

To make the beads, you use a narrow strip of activated Rigid Wrap and fold it in half lengthwise.  Next you wrap the strip around a drinking straw and let it dry.  Rachel had fun making these!

Once they were dry, we got out the paints.  Rachel painted two Rigid Wrap bowls and lots of beads.

She had fun making and painting the beads. She said she was going to make a necklace and a charm bracelet with them. 

Rigid Wrap is a neat product.  It is like using paper mache but you don't have to measure out the mixture and it is actually much neater than regular paper mache.  

Next we got out the CelluClay to play with.  The kit comes with an 8 ounce bag and it is like instant paper mache.  The picture on the left is the dry CelluClay and the picture on the right is CelluClay activated with water.  

Rachel used the CelluClay to make some little polka dots for her Rigid Wrap bowl.  She just molded them in her hands and then pressed them on the bowl.

Once it was all dry, she painted it with a rainbow theme!

Next Rachel wanted to use cookie cutters as a mold for the CelluClay.  She placed a cookie cutter on the table and then pressed the CelluClay into the shapes to form a thin layer.  For the heart, she used a wooden skewer to press into it to make a hole for threading.  Once they were dry, she just removed the cookie cutters and she had some cute shapes.

CelluClay is a little like used clay to mold and shape creations but it dries very quickly and the finished products are not heavy like clay.  Rachel used the Rigid Wrap beads with the CelluClay heart to make this pretty necklace for me.  It is a very lightweight necklace. I would not have wanted to wear this if it had been made out of heavy clay.

She also decided to add some bling to some of the other cookie cutters creations.

Since it is summer and we are not working on school, we just experimented and had some fun with Rigid Wrap and CelluClay.  However, once we get back into our homeschool routine, I definitely plan to use these two products in our school activities.  They are perfect for projects in which you might usually use paper mache or clay but they are neater, dry very quickly, and lighter.  Two projects I'm already thinking of is to make models of different Native American homes as we study Indians on the frontier as well as forming electrons to make models of atoms and molecules for chemistry.  I can also see this will be great to use at the kids' theater when I need to make a prop for a play.  We really love these two products and highly recommend them.  

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