Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Carole P. Roman: Children Books for Learning and Fun {Review}

As in most homeschools, we read a lot of books and I'm always looking for new ones to introduce to my children.  We read everything - non-fiction, biography, historical fiction, books with a virtuous message, and of course, books that are just for fun.  Award winning children's author and former teacher Carole P. Roman has written a wide selection of books for young readers that fit all of these categories.  She has an historical series with books that cover time periods from Ancient China to the American West.  She has another series that teaches children about cultures in different countries.  There are also several fun books like Captain No Beard as well as several books with important messages for young readers.

As a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, I was given the opportunity to review some of these books.  Rachel was excited to receive three books from the Carole P. Roman books and collections.  


The first book she read was If You Were Me and Lived in France: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World.  We have been talking about starting French lessons so she was excited to learn a little bit about the culture and history of France.


Rachel is nine years old and she is a good reader.  Although this book was written for younger readers it still introduced her to cultural and historical aspects of France that she did not know.  We took some of the information mentioned in the book and did further research on them such as Bastille Day and City of Lights as a nickname for Paris. 

The next book Rachel read was Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag.  This book is a chapter book and closer to her reading level.  It is a story about a third grader named Susannah who doesn't want to deal with the little daily challenges that come up in life.  Instead, she just shoves them all into her bag until it bursts.  She eventually realizes that it would have been better to deal with each problem as it came up instead of letting them just continue to build up.  She also learned that it is important to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed and don't know what to do.



Rachel chuckled as she read this book.  She said, "Susannah is just like me!  She piles everything in her backpack and doesn't want to take care of it because it seems too stressful to her.  It's like me with putting up my clean clothes.  There are just a few pieces of clothes one day but I don't want to put them away.  Then more clothes pile up and I just can't hang all of that up.  It's too much.  So I shove them all in the back of my closet so I don't have to deal with them."

Yes, that is a real problem we are working on.  But hopefully reading this book helped Rachel to realize that it is much easier to tackle a task when it is small and not let that pile of clothes get so high that it becomes unmanageable.

Rachel enjoyed this book so much that when she had finished she grabbed up the second book in the Oh Susannah series and started reading it right away.



This book is called Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump.  In this story Susannah is afraid to go to her best friend's house for a sleepover because her friend lives in an old creaky house.  She is afraid of the spiders there and she thinks there is a ghost living in the house.




Susannah realizes that everyone has unique fears and that fear often about how one interprets the things around them.  One person might love unicorns and think they are beautiful while someone else who is blind might be terrified of them because of a fear of getting injured by their horn.  But as Susannah learns, sometimes are fears are unwarranted and facing them can sometimes lead to exciting surprises.

These are three great books for children.  The Oh Susannah series was a quick and fun read for Rachel and she is hoping that Ms. Roman will write more books about Susannah.

For more information about Carole P. Roman and her wonderful books, please check out these social media links below:

Facebook: Carole P. Roman, Award Winning Author
Twitter: @caroleproman
Instagram: @caroleproman
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6A9PDx7NdBgYUN1giUOp0A

Please take a moment to click on the banner below to read more Carole P. Roman book reviews from other Crew members:

Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Home School in the Woods: A La Carte {Review}

I sometimes get questions from friends about the fun activities we do in our homeschool.  It's no secret.  Many of our history games and projects are from an amazing company called Home School in the Woods.  They are a great resource for homeschool families.  We have used many of their products including the big Time Traveler series that is a stand alone curriculum that covers a few months of material.  But I love that Home School in the Woods has pulled out some of the games and activities from their bigger products and are now selling them A La Carte PDF downloads so we can pick and choose what we want to use without having to buy the whole curriculum.

The Homeschool Review Crew gave us the opportunity to try two of the A La Carte products.  I chose A Trip to Town File Folder Game and the Taxation Frustration! Game.  We love playing games as a family so it just makes sense to incorporate some games into our homeschool.  It makes for a fun review of what we have been studying.

We enjoyed A Trip to Town File Folder Game the most.  This game can be found in the Time Travelers: Colonial Life.  It teaches children about the vocabulary from Colonial Days including medical diseases, food terminology, and different artisan jobs from those days.


Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
I began by printing all of the pages.  This game is a file folder game.  I love these because there is a game board printable that gets glued into a file folder.  There are also game markers, store cards, and question cards.  The file makes suggestions as to whether to print on regular paper, cardstock, or different colored paper.  This is a picture of everything I printed for this game.


While you don't have to do this, I love to add a pop of color to the game so I colored the game board and the game markers.  I think it makes the game look more appealing.


Each child starts with 5 artisan cards.  They have to work their way through the game board to each artisan shop they have a card for in order to get a matching card.  The first player to match all five of their cards wins the game.


However, before you can roll the dice to move on the board, you have to pull a question card and be able to define the vocabulary word.  Some of them are pretty gross.  My kids actually love the gross vocabulary words the most!  Here Rachel pulled the card for Grocer's Itch - a cutaneous disease caused by mites in sugar and flour.  Ewww!


There are a few special cards in the deck that cause you to lose a turn or that let you advance to the artisan shop of your choice.  This is a fun game and a great review of vocabulary and terminology from Colonial Days. A Trip to Town File Folder game can be downloaded for just $4.95.

The other game we reviewed is called Taxation Frustration!  It demonstrates the frustration that American colonists would have felt at the unfair difference in taxes that they were forced to pay to Britain versus what the British citizens had to pay.  This game can also be found in the Home School in the Woods Time Travelers: The American Revolution.
Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
This is also a PDF printable but it does not have a game board.  It uses play money which in those days were shillings.  Look at the beautiful printables that this game comes with!  The file is formatted in such a way that you can print these double sided.  This way you have the real picture of the various shilling denominations on one side and then you flip the card over to easily read the amount.  I just love this realistic touch to the game.


The game is played by choosing a card for an item you would like to buy.  In this case it is a barrel of gun powder which has a tax of 8 shillings.  Next you draw an orange card to determine if you are American or British and the corresponding tax you will have to pay.  If you are British, then you simply pay the 8 shillings tax as noted on the card.  But you can see that some of the other orange cards might state that you are an American colonist and therefore you have to pay double or even triple the amount of tax for an item.


Taxation Frustration! is a simple and quick game to play but it demonstrates the frustration that the colonists felt.  This printable sells for just $3.95.

As a homeschool mom, I simply love using Home School in the Woods products for history.  In case you are interested, here are a few other products of theirs that we have used:

You can connect with Home School in the Woods on social media:

If you would like to read additional reviews on the A La Carte products by Home School in the Woods please click on the banner below:

À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Route 66: Cadillac Ranch {Texas}

We left Albuquerque, New Mexico and headed back to Texas.  We had one more stop on Route 66 before heading home.


On the road, we passed this crazy looking truck.


We pulled up beside it and learned that they are bee relocation specialists.  Wow what a cool looking truck but I don't think I'd want a job in that line of work.


We had noticed the boxes of cargo earlier and saw a few things fall out of them from time to time.  Now that we realized this was a bee relocation specialist we figured out that this were actually hives of live bees and we must have been watching a few of the sneakier ones making their escape.  


Finally we crossed the Texas State Line!  Woo hoo!


We stopped for gas at a Phillips 66.  Did you know that the Phillips 66 logo shield is based on the old Route 66 signs?  It is also neat to read about the stories for how Phillips Petroleum became Phillips 66.  The two most common stories is that they had their first refinery near Route 66 in Oklahoma and actually tested their gas on Route 66.  But the other story is that during testing procedures, a car with Phillips gas hit a new speed record of 66 miles per hour.


Our very last stop on our amazing vacation was the iconic Route 66 stop at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.  But before we made it there, we had to find spray paint.  The gas station we stopped at usually carried it because tourists are always asking for it.  They were out of it that day so we headed to Home Depot.  So many color selections for our works-of-art-to-be!


Cadillac Ranch is an unusual art display that was created in 1974.  It consists of 10 Cadillacs half-buried in the ground and people stop by daily to spray paint the cars.  It is perfectly legal and even expected.  But only on those cars.  There is a sign at the property stating that painting anything else outside of the fenced area is illegal.


This is what you see from the road.  No big sign to draw people to it.  You would even pass it by if you didn't know where to look for it.  Yet, there had to have been 10 families there in the short time we were there.


The Cadillacs were originally buried in a corn field farther in town but was moved out to this field in the 1990s.  Both plots of land are owned by Stanley Marsh.


My kids were quick to each climb on top of a car and start painting!  What a crazy thing to do!


Nicholas painted a Star Trek Bird of Prey ship.


I caught Stuart painting "S + K" on a car!


Isn't he a sweetie?  I think I'll keep him.


I was fascinated by the hundreds of layers on paint on these cars!


It was especially neat to see where the paint had rolled down and dried as it was dripping off.  It made lots of weird little spikes of paint.


I left a little message of God's love for the world.


The kids just kept painting and painting until they ran out of paint.


Nicholas painted a skull on the underside of a Cadillac.


Unfortunately when we ran out of spray paint, we could just look around on the ground and find a few half empty cans lying around. The kids were happy to have more paint but I was sad to see all of the litter of cans and caps all over the ground.


As we headed back to the car, I asked the kids to pick up a can off the ground to put in the dumpster by the street.  They were both happy to help and they each brought an armload of cans to the dumpster.  They are so awesome!


The sun was going down and it was getting late.  We needed to get back home on this night so they kids could get to their hockey practice in the morning.  Unfortunately that meant we didn't have time to stop at the Cadillac Ranch gift shop but I got a picture of it as we drove by.



This was an amazing trip and we will share these memories forever.  In the past week, we visited four National Parks!  We explored Carlsbad Caverns, hunted creepy creatures in the Sonoran Desert, saw a real Saguaro cactus in the Saguaro National Park, talked with a cool gem and mineral guy who had met Nicholas' favorite celebrity - Coyote Peterson, visited ancient cave dwellings, hiked in the Grand Canyon (one of my bucket list items!), saw a hole left by a real meteor from space, traveled on historic Route 66 (another bucket list item for me!), saw real petrified wood, met famous guitar makers, and made art with spray paint.  What an adventure!

American International Rattlesnake Museum - Albuequerque, New Mexico

We left Pimentel and Sons and found our way to the Turquoise Museum.  I love turquoise so I was pretty excited about this stop.  Unfortunately when we got there we saw a sign on the door that said they were closed for a private event and wouldn't open until later in the afternoon.  We would already be on the road out of town by then so we missed getting to see it.

Next on our list was the American International Rattlesnake Museum.  This was mostly for Nicholas but we were all at least a little bit interested because this museum has the largest collection of live rattlesnakes in the world.




We arrived a little before the museum opened but we were entertained by two beautiful rescued African Spurred Tortoises in a stock tank outside.  This is the third largest tortoise species in the world.



The gift shop has a lot of great souvenirs.  Both of my children bought their own authentic rattlesnake fang to bring home with them.  They are small but very sharp looking.  I cringe at the thought of that piercing my skin.


Before I show you around the museum, did you know that all rattlesnackes are born live?  Vipers and boas also have live births.  They do not hatch from eggs like other snakes.  

Here is a Mottled Rock Rattlesnake.  It lives in the dry rocky lands of Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas so its mottled dull colors help it to camouflage with the rocks around it.


This guy below is a Royal Python or Ball Python.  He is called a Ball Python because if he gets scared, he will roll up into a ball shape and just roll away!  I would have liked to have seen him do this but I guess he is used to big human faces staring at him all day long.  Ball Pythons are non-venomous and they usually doesn't bite at all but they are constrictors.  These snakes live in Africa.  Their coloring is usually dark brown or black with tan markings.  


There are more than just rattlesnakes in the museum.  I was fascinated to see this platypus skeleton.  Did you know that a platypus is venomous?  Yes it is!  It has venom glands connected to spurs on his hind feet.  


Now this guy was one that Nicholas had hoped to find in the wild while we were hiking in the Sonoran Desert.  The Gila Monster!  It is the only venomous lizard in the United States.


Why would Nicholas want to encounter a Gila Monster in the desert?  Because he has seen Coyote Peterson find them there.  Check out Coyote's video below:


What I find really crazy though it that Nicholas has probably also seen the video below of the time that Coyote was bitten by a Gila Monster yet he still wanted to catch one on his own!


This next guy looks scary but he is harmless to humans.  He is a Vinegaroon or Whip Scorpion.  He is an arachnid but he doesn't have fangs like a spider or a stinger like a scorpion.  He doesn't contain any venom at all.  However, when he gets scared he will spray a vinegar-like substances to scare away the threat.


There are lots of unique historical snake items throughout the museum like the old sewing machine that looks like a snake and these antique bottles of snake oil and snake liniment.


Nicholas loves catching lizards and this display of 14 species of horned lizards was interesting to all of us.  



The last room in the museum has a seating area and a movie about snakes.  It also has the most snakes on display.  Nicholas was quite happy here.



I loved that the displays were made to include information that adults would appreciate as well as information that was easy for children to read on their own.


At the bottom of the display there was a card with the common name of the snake and a simple description of it.  It was down low so that small children would be able to read it.


Then above the display was more detailed information for adults and a map of where they could be found.



Ok, back to the snakes.  Snakes are not aggressive unless they feel threatened.  If you don't get too close to it, it will likely just slither away from you.  



This is the Costa Rican Rattlesnake.  He is found in South America and Mexico on the grasslands and savanna.  He is a pit viper which means he has a pit near each nostril that he uses to sense slight temperature changes which helps him locate his prey.  He has a neurotoxic venom.  He typically grows to about 3-6 feet.


Rachel and I spent some time looking at this next snake, the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.  


The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is a pit viper.  



It has a dark diamond pattern on his back and a triangular head.  There are black bands at the end of his body just before the rattle.  I didn't notice until Rachel pointed it out but you are actually looking at two snakes here.  Can you see the head of the second snake?


Most people think that a snake that is shaking its rattler is being aggressive.  However, in reality, the rattler is a sign that the snake is afraid and he is just trying to scare away whatever he feels is threatening him.  They can move their rattle up to 60 times per second!


The American International Rattlesnake Museum is located at 202 San Felipe Street NW in Albuquerque, NM, phone 505-242-6569.  Adults are $6.00 and children age 3-12 are $4.00.

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