Review: TOS Primary Planner

When I saw a posting on Facebook from This Old Schoolhouse asking for reviewers of their new planner I jumped at the chance.  Why?  Well, I almost bought it last year but didn’t because I just don’t do well with planners.


I know it’ll shock you to hear that I am not as much of a plan ahead person as you might think, that and I constantly tinker with the forms I make anyways.  I tend to just make a simple chart in word and fiddle with the columns until I like the way it works.  I never use the planners.


So, why did I want this one?



It’s the extras that come with it.  The lists of all of Jesus’ miracles and parables, which are coming in tremendously handy this week as I plan out a unit on parables.  The lists of the different presidents and when they were president.  The list of the past 30 years of Caldecott and Newberry award winners.


Yes, I could look all of that stuff up, but it’s handy to have it in one spot.


It’s the record keeping forms on this.  What Bible verses have I memorized, what books did I read (was anyone else a HUGE fan of reading logs as a kid, or was that just me?), what field trips have we taken, name a thing you could keep a record about in homeschooling and it’s probably in there.


And then  you get to the forms for the kids, and these will come in very handy this coming year as I make, yes I said MAKE, my boys write more.  They’re flesh is willing, but the spirit is weak, and I’m going to toughen up that spirit.  There’s nature journals, book report forms, science journals (SQUEEE!).  And all of it nicely lined in primary style (I’m sure if I got an older kid version it wouldn’t have the primary lines).



So, let me break it down for you:



1.  All of those lists and information in one spot.  I’m sure if you get the full version (all 800 something pages), there’s even more.

2.  Calendars that can be filled in on my computer, for those of you who are calendar people.  I’m trying to be, really I am.  See, I printed it out, and I’ve started filling in my plans for the Sunday School year………  Do you see those penciled in notes in the picture?

3.  Pages that my kids can fill out, and the lines are actually in their size.  I’ve run into so many things that claim to be “primary lined,” and it isn’t.  Not by a long shot.

4.  Clickable index.  If you’re looking at the index and you want to go to the Science Lab sheet, you just click on it and you’re there, no scrolling through pages and pages.  Yes, it’s a small thing, but those are the things that make or break a product.

5.  Bible in a year reading plan, both in order and chronological.  I’m excited by the chronological one.  I know, this is a big surprise to all of you.  I like my history ordered.



1.  They don’t let you see the index in the preview, to me that is a big con for figuring out if I can actually use something, I want to know what’s in it.  If anyone wants to know, email me and I’ll show it to you.

2.  The price.  The primary planner is $10, which I know is a reasonable price, and they’re not charging too much.  But, I’ll admit I”ve gotten spoiled by the people who give away stuff and the cheap prices on Currclick.   So, the price tag makes me do a double take before ordering.

That being said, I’m probably going to buy the full 800 page planner because there are some forms in the sampler that I know I want..  So, obviously the price isn’t too big a deal if I’m willing to buy it still.

3.  I wish some lists were more thorough, in particular the Caldecott and Newberry awards.

4.  More recipes.  In the primary planner there is only 1 recipe.  It seems kind of cruel to only include 1 recipe.  I like to pretend I’m going to make all these recipes someday, and if they’re not there how can I imagine it?


If you’re interested in buying the planner, or want to see previews head on over to the TOS planner store.


If anyone has bought the full planner and has any comments on it, I’d love to hear them.  I’m very seriously considering it, but I’m going back and forth on the whole $40 and if I’ll get my money’s worth out of it.


Also, the TOS blog is hosting a Where’s Edna scavenger hunt with the prize being one of the planners.


Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for my review of this.  The copy did not change my opinion of it, nor what I said.  I babbled on of my own free will.

Favorite Resource This Week

Make it yourself Father’s Day gift

Yes, I know Father’s Day was a few weeks ago, but this could easily be adapted to anybody, well parts of it could……..
I saw these SUPER cute printables over at An Alphamom, and knew this had to be our father’s day present.  So we made a quick run to the grocery store to get the necessary supplies, M&Ms, powerade, hershey’s chocolate bar, breath mints, etc…….  You’ll understand better when you see her printables.
Now, while the kids were busy drawing pictures for the book they were making, I was busy cutting and gluing all of the labels onto the gifts.
The kids were each given several pages saying “Daddy is my hero because,” and then they completed the sentence and drew a picture.

My personal favorite, “Daddy is my hero because he married Mommy and kisses her a lot.”

How’s that for cute?  Or, another favorite, “Daddy is my hero because he kills scorpions.”  The accompanying picture was of a scorpion bigger than the drawing of the Daddy squishing said scorpion.

It was also great for me to get insight into how they think.  I wouldn’t have thought they’d choose some of the things they did.  Princess was all about the hugs, and what Daddy does.  The boys were more of what Daddy does with them.  Can you see the difference in love languages?  Princess, more physical touch, and the boys are much more of the quality time.
And the present was a HUGE success.  Like I said, Jeff already has plans for us to make books like this for grandparents, etc… etc…….  I’d be curious to see what would be completing those sentences……

Katie's Nesting Spot

Bible Alive: Serving others

This past week our kids attended Kids Clubs.

What’s that you ask?  I’m glad you did, that’s our church’s version of VBS.  And I in all of my wisdom volunteered to be in charge of the food for our site for the week.

So my dining room table looked like this for the week.

And my van looked like this.  It’s food for approximately 200 people.  We sliced a lot of oranges, and served a lot of cookies.
Yes, that is 30 pizzas in my car, and we had NO leftovers.
Everyone pitched in to help.  God answered one of our biggest prayers.

We got a cool front.  The first day the weather was 100 something, and then it rained that night.  After that it was at least 10-5 degrees cooler.  I don’t think we broke 100 for the rest of the week.

In the end, all of the exhaustion, frayed tempers, spilled gravy was worth it.  I think the hardest part of it all isn’t to be a Martha in a Mary situation.
I’ll leave you with a few videos from our week:

Fun in the Summer Fun: Stayin’ Cool!

Welcome to the 1st of our Fun in the Summer Fun event! Each Monday until September 7th Mama to 4 Blessings along with Adventures of Mommydom, Sweet Diva, Harvest Moon By Hand, and Sweet Phenomena will be hosting Fun in the Summer Fun link up events.
Here’s the line up:
The 1st Monday of each month: link up your “Kid friendly summer activities”
The 2nd Monday of each month: link up your “Kid friendly summer crafts”
The 3rd Monday of each month: link up your “Kid friendly summer receipes”
The 4th Monday of each month: link up your “How to stay cool in the summer heat”

I’m sure this will totally shock you, but it’s hot here.  No really, it was over 100 at the beginning of this week.
I was all set to show you my favorite game from VBS that we do every year for water day, and then this was what happened to the games:
Yes, that is wild pandemonium as 200 kids all throw as much water as they can at each other.  Time ran short to play the games, so instead they just opted for the always popular throw water at each other…….
I was hoping I had pictures from earlier years, but I don’t……
So, here’s the two games, hopefully I explain it well enough you understand.

Drip, Drip, Drop

This is essentially duck, duck, goose with water.  The “ducker” walks around with a cup of water.  As they get to each kid they say, “drip,” and drip a little bit of water on the kid.  The person who is chosen to be it, you say, “drop” and dump the entire cup of water on them.  If you get tagged you sit in the “mush pot,” which is usually a baby pool full of water.

I’m sure you can see people don’t really run all that fast, and are eager to get tagged.
Relay race
Supplies: 2 clear two litter bottles, cups, buckets of water
Divide the kids into two teams.  Have them line up a good ways from the end point with a bucket of water, and each team has a cup.

At the other end one of the teens leading the club would be laying down with a two liter bottle on their head.  The kids run up and try to fill the bottle before the other team.  Ideally, they don’t pour too much on the teen.  Yeah, the “poor” teen gets soaked.  I mean completely and 100 percent soaked.

The horrors.

Hopefully these explanations make sense.  Maybe I’ll have my kids reenact the games………

And because I know you were dying to see how water day was at my club in video form, and a quick shot of me serving food (stay tuned tomorrow for an actual write up of clubs).

I can’t wait to see how ya’ll stay cool.  I have some fun ideas coming up, one that I’ll have to warn Jeff about……..

Science Sunday: irreversible change

Science Sunday


So…….  My kids are currently obsessed with Sid the Science Kid.  I put that with many other pre-school kid shows in the “annoying and why must you watch it category,” but I have no valid reason beyond my annoyance with the show not to watch.


Okay, totally unrelated, but I really shouldn’t have eaten those M&Ms the room is spinning most unpleasantly, and this is not feeling good right now.


Okay, back to what I was saying.  We watched an episode about pancakes where he wondered why his Mom’s pancakes were soft and gooey and his Dad’s were hard.  So they look at what would happen to different things that had been heated up.

We decided to do the same thing.


First, we duplicated the experiment in the episode, and we made applesauce.


Of course, since they’d seen the episode they already knew what was going to happen to the apples as we heated them.  They got soft and mushy and we could make them into applesauce.



And then we took a break to look at this cool lizard who was sitting on our trash can, and be amazed at the LEAP he took from the trash can to the bushes 18 inches away.  Very impressive.


No clue what he is, that’s an investigation for another day.  We did all discuss what he ate and why he was where he was.  We all agree that we like him eating the bugs and mosquitoes near our house.


Next, we decided to see what would happen to the marshmallows if we put them over heat.


The kids all agreed they would get soft and mushy like the apples did.  I reminded them that pancake batter didn’t get like that it became harder.  But, they were still quite insistent it would be soft and mushy.



They were kind of right.  They melted completely and totally.  I guess it’s been so long since I did this on the stove that I forgot on the stove they just melt, they don’t expand and get big.  Kind of takes away the wow factor.  Of it, but the kids counted this as being soft and mushy.



They did totally approve of the final product: Rice krispie treats……  Yum, with patriotic star shaped marshmallows, or that’s what they started out as.  By the time it was done they were just a brown mush.  The colors did not mix into the most appetizing of colors.


So, how about you guys?  Any fun science activities or discoveries?  I have to say I’m loving getting email notifications of when people link up because there are some cool things I saw last week.

Maryland: Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman

I had fabulous plans for what I was going to do for these two brave people.  Glorious plans, first we were going to read these two books:

Which we did, and then we were going to make Underground Railroad quilts.  Like the ones in the Quilt Code.  But, here’s the problem, the more I read about them being Hidden in Plain View, the more I found out it probably didn’t happen that way.


So, it’s more of an urban legend than fact.  That, and it would take a lot of work to get those shapes ready for a group of kids to do it……  A LOT of work……….




Instead, I found a list of slave states and free states right before the Civil War, and we very carefully colored in the different types of states and created a key.


It’s not very exciting, or interesting to write about, but it was interesting to realize things.  Like, I always forget Maryland was a slave state, I don’t know why.  Or how much harder it was for a slave to escape from South Carolina versus Maryland.


If we hadn’t been studying the maps we wouldn’t have noticed these things.


As to the books………


I highly recommend “Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom.”  It’s very poetic and lyrical in writing style.  Also the illustrations are wonderful.


“Fredrick Douglass: Last Day of Slavery,” is also good, but it’s a more difficult read and is much longer.  I edited it a little bit while I was reading it to everyone, but it’s a hard book to sit through, partially for the subject matter.


I’m gonna link this over to, rather than the abortive post I tried to write earlier as my brain sat here fried from Rock the Rock this week.  I know we read a lot of books this week, but for the life of me I don’t remember a single one other than what I read them for bed tonight.

Our curriculum choices for next year

Because let’s face it all homeschoolers love to see what everyone else is using for their school year.  It’s part of our curiosity or what have you………
<a href=””> Widgets</a>

I was going to separate out what the boys are doing and what Princess is doing, but let’s face it.  She insists she’s 6 whenever it’s convenient for her, so she’s doing mostly the same things.  She’s just a couple of month behind in math, and she does less of the writing than they do.  She does more tracing.  That’s the main difference.

Apologia Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day– All ocean animals all the time.  My kids are so excited!  I didn’t know how many of their favorite animals were ocean animals until we started this study.  We’ve done a couple of chapters, and we’re probably going to repeat the ones we’ve already done.  We’d be going through it a lot faster if I hadn’t cough cough misplaced my book cough cough.  That’s what happens when you haul it around everywhere.  I think it’s in a suitcase somewhere……..  Which one is the question.  I’d guess we’ll finish this mid-way through the year and just move on to land animals.

First Language Lessons– grammar, copywork, memorization, all of it in one book?  Awesome!  It’s a fairly gentle introduction to the material, so I think this will be a good fit for us.

Bob Books– I know last year I said we’d be using Sing, Spell, Read, Write this year too, but as I got further into it I ran into the problem the readers that came with it are just way too long for my kids right now.  One of the beginning first grade readers is 50 pages long for one story.  So, we’re going to be using Bob books for now, I’m curious to see if All About Spelling gets their other reading levels out soon because that might be the answer…..  We’ll see.

All About Spelling- I think this combined with Bob Books and the various other readers I have will be quite enough to get them spelling.  It’s a lot like Open Court Phonics which I used when teaching and I loved that.  We’re part of the way through book 1, in case you can’t tell I don’t really worry about finishing things according to any sort of school year.  At some point soon I’ll have a post up about different ways to practice spelling.  I’m still thinking through that.

Time Travelers Colonial Life– This is part one of a six part series on American history that we’ll be doing with another family.  I’m really looking forward to history with this family.  It’s going to be very interactive, only downside is it will be a lot of printing.  A LOT.

Math U See Alpha- I wrote a detailed review of Math U See last year, and the boys continue to love it.  Princess is struggling with it, and I think it’s mostly maturity, not academics that is her problem, so I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of that.

Educating Layton has a Homeschool Curriculum Round up (that is hopefully still going on), that I’ll be linking this up to.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Maryland: Baltimore fires

As I go further and further into my state studies I find better and better books.  No really, for Delaware I found like 3…….  Maryland, 15.  Okay a lot of them were about the Star Spangled Banner, but still. This is a great book about a horse that helped save Baltimore from the great fire that enveloped it at the turn of the century (1900), and how the firefighters worked for hours to save the city.

 Well, since it seems determined to not show the text with this picture, I guess I’ll write it again…..  Growl.  So, they happily colored, cut, glued their way through a happy recreation of the story using a scanned picture of Goliath.  Sigh, imagine a much more pithy set of instructions, but I don’t want to retype it for the millioneth time…….
After reading the book we made a pop-up scene from the book using a scan of the horse and some cardstock.  The kids happily colored their background, cut and glued to their hearts content.


My boys found the idea that soldiers and firemen from all over came down to stop the buildings absolutely fascinating, so they drew in the soldiers who came down to help.

All in all, I highly recommend the book.  As you can see from the scanned pictures the book has gorgeous illustrations, and the story is very touching.  And, of course the horse survives.  An animal story is just no good if the animal dies.

And now, our geography co-op is officially on break as 1/3 of the families is now in Latvia.  I’m eagerly looking forward to their getting back.  Not just because they’re good friends, but also because they’re going to teach us all about Latvia!

Summer Bucket List: new park, check!



Just a week ago a BRAND NEW park opened up a couple of miles from our house.  We headed there last week along with a large portion of the town.  Okay, only about 200 other kids.


Now, my kids wanted to eat first, so we sat and ate our lunch at oh……. 10:45.  Which would explain why I was so hungry later that day.



Finally they were willing to play, and instead of heading straight over to the water like I thought they played in the sand.  For what seemed like an eternity to me.  But, the sand was nicely shaded, so I was happy to sit and watch.


Finally we headed to the water……….  And they found their perfect spot, the slide.


Where they got slowly more adventurous.


I must say, this is better than some of the other splash parks because  the water elements are more spread out, but the park does have an entry fee ($1 a person, not much, but not free).  I found this great review of the park if you want to see more pictures.


Now head on over to Little Wonder Days to see some other fun summer bucket activities people have done!

Bible Alive: Manna from heaven!


Our Sunday school class has been very slowly moving through Exodus.  I know, you’re thinking Exodus, 50 chapters about how to build the tabernacle……  Ugh, but the first half is really fun, and I’m going to condense down the last half into a swallowable lesson for them (silly computer doesn’t think swallowable is a word).


No, really.  Or, that’s my plan……


Well, Sunday’s lesson was about the Israelites and how whiny they are about little things like drinking and eating.  God’ answer was to give them manna from heaven.  Now, I’m sure the Israelites after gathering enough to eat thought to themselves, “Well, we’ve got all of this leftover manna, and I know, we’ll play games with it.”


Supplies: large numbers of pom-poms. spoon, chopsticks, or other challenging items to carry stuff, cups



GOAL: to be the first team to fill all of their cups with “manna”


RULES:  You cannot touch the pom-poms (manna) with your hands.  You can use the spoon, chopsticks or what have you to take it over to the cups.


VERDICT: the kids loved this!  We discovered that the spoons were much harder than the chopsticks, but it was really popular.


Okay, so it’s not all that spiritual, but it did drill in how manna fell from heaven (when we threw it in the air), and how you could only gather so much before you had a problem……….


All right, I’m stretching there, but it was fun.