The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mid-Winter Changes

     Tomorrow is the start of a new week, and a new start for the rest of the school year. Yes, it is the end of February and a Tuesday, but a new start nonetheless. This year February has been a time of being a little “out of sorts”. It is cold, the kids are not outside as much as they would like,  we have all been sick in the past month, schoolwork has begun to be drudgery. But I am attempting to change all those negatives this week.

     I have written up a new schedule, added in some “fun” lessons, like a specific art lesson every Friday. I let the kids go with me to buy a few new art supplies to add to the excitement. The girls used the scrapbooking supplies and added fancy covers for their new spiral notebook journals. The school room has been cleaned and reorganized to make things easier to find.


     Winter can seem to drag on forever up here in Idaho. We have decided to not let it get us down. Tomorrow we will begin as we always do, with worship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but then we will have a new spring in our schoolwork step to keep us going strong. Lamentations 3:22-24 says it the best.

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
   his mercies never come to an end;
23they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Windshield Woes

Driving home from work on Friday, my husband heard a loud crack as a rock hit his windshield. I am very thankful that the windshield glass held like it was supposed to. The crack is the size of my fist. I have never seen a windshield crack quite like this one.  Thank you Lord, for protecting my husband! The price of a new windshield is minor compared to a life.


2011-02-18 14.41.20

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ebelskiver Fun

     Want to know what the new favorite breakfast is around the Clark house?



     Don’t know what Ebelskiver are? Well, neither did my kids until my sister revived an old childhood memory on Christmas and gave me an Ebelskiver pan.  My family on my mother’s side is of Danish heritage. Ebelskiver is a Danish breakfast food. They are basically pancake balls. Sometimes filled, sometimes not.  My kids love this breakfast.  I love that it not only is a fun way to celebrate our heritage, it is also very easy.


     The only way to make Aebleskiver is with the special pan. This pan has half spherical indentations into which you place the pancake batter. When bubbles start to form and break on the top of the batter, you then have the fun of turning them. I use two skewers and simply “flip” the balls over.  If you want, you can place applesauce, jam, chocolate chips anything you can think of, in the center of the batter before you flip them.  We eat them with butter and either syrup or jam.  My kids and husband give them a hearty two thumbs up!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Curiosity Files: Quicksand

     As the theater darkens and the opening scene of the movies starts, the swashbuckling hero is seen running through the jungle when suddenly: QUICKSAND! As he rapidly starts sinking and your heart begins racing you suddenly remember: “Oh yeah, quicksand does not pull you down that fast and if he would just quit thrashing around he would be fine.”

    While this Curiosity Files: Quicksand, may make adventure movie watching not quite as much fun, you can be assured you will know a lot that you never knew ( or maybe never thought you wanted to know) about quicksand. This Unit Study from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is part of a new series called The Curiosity Files. The Curiosity Files are Explorations with Professor Ana Lyze, Expert in Outlandish Oddities. Professor Ana Lyze will guide you on a journey to discover and delve into topics never before imagined.  These studies are designed for ages 8-13 and can be easily adapted to include older and younger students for a whole family learning experience.

Curiosity Files

  • Blue Diamonds
  • Dung Beetle
  • MRSA
  • Puffer Fish
  • Red Tide
  • Zombie Fire Ants
  • Blue-Footed Booby
  • Cicada Killing Wasp
  • Quicksand


What the ClarkClan studied


     We were given the opportunity to choose one of these new Unit Studies to review. Looking over the topics I decided that Quicksand would appeal to my children. As a quick side note, we have already used two of these studies, so my children were very excited to be able to review a new one.  I have to admit that I was skeptical about how much could be learned about quicksand. Once again, I found that I had no need to worry. We learned a large amount from this study.

Everything You Never Wanted to Know

     As a Unit Study, the Curiosity Files cover many different aspects of learning.  As a parent, you get to decide how and when to present the information contained within the study.  Bible study, math, creative writing, spelling and vocabulary, copywork, science, geography, art, and music all combine to make up this complete study. If you want extras, book lists and web links are included.  The studies are easy to adapt to all learning styles and to your families preferences on how to present the material. Click here to view a sample of the Quicksand study and get a feel for how it is presented.

How the ClarkClan used it

      I had Sarah (13), Benjamin (9) and Rebekah (7)  use this unit study together. We usually met for an hour and a half to two hours a day for a week. This is an E-book and you can either read it all on the computer or print it off. I decided that the best option for us was to print it out and place it in a 3 ring binder.

     On the first day, we went through the section “Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Quicksand. This is in a question and answer format, so we invited one of Rebekah’s puppets to help and ask the questions that mom would then answer.  After this I gave them the “Let’s See How Much You’ve Learned…”papers and had them take this as a little quiz. They did seem to take in a lot of information and all of them did very well on the quiz.

   The bible study included in this study was based on Matthew 7: 24-27, the wise and foolish man. It was a study designed to teach your kids how and why to “build” your life on the Rock, Jesus Christ.


This study included a lot of science experiments. I have to say that this was my kids favorite part. We made our own “quicksand” with cornstarch and water. This fascinated all of us and we played with it for about 2 hours.




Another experiment involved viscosity. We were able to test various fluids viscosity. We used shampoo, conditioner, ketchup, laundry detergent, syrup and water.




     We spent one day doing the Geography activities. We made vocabulary books to help learn the different geography terms. Then we took the terms we learned and drew maps of a “made in our heads” place with all the geography features we studied. We also colored maps to show how much coastline the world has.

     I took the time to work with Ben and Rebekah on the creative writing assignment. Together we went through the information written and then came up with a short essay together. Since Sarah has written much more, I had her take the assignment and do it on her own.

     Sarah used the spelling and vocabulary list for the older students, while Ben and Rebekah used the list for younger students. I had them read the words out loud to me and they also completed the activities included in this section.  Ben was very happy to see a crossword puzzle as he loves to do those. I had Rebekah complete the Word Search.

    There were multiple activities to choose from for math. We learned to read Tide tables and answer questions based on those. Reading a TV Schedule was great practice for Ben and Rebekah. Sarah and Ben worked on “Quicksand Sinking Rates” together.

     Ben and Rebekah and I used two blocks as rhythm sticks and learned through music how to remember what to do if you ever get stuck in quicksand.

     We ended our study by making “Edible Quicksand” as a Friday afternoon treat. The kids had so much fun studying about quicksand that even now, 3 weeks after we completed the study, they are still using quicksand scenarios in their play.

     Just to give a quick overview of how much information this study contains, I want to say we did not use every activity available.  I did not have my kids complete the copywork pages or the art experiments. These were not bad activities it was just that there was so much I felt I could focus more on the science experiments that sparked my kids curiosity.

ClarkClan Recommendation

     We would highly recommend not only this Quicksand study, but any of the Curiosity Files. They are packed full of information and learning activities and makes for a fun, learning filled time.

How to Buy


The Curiosity Files are available from The Old Schoolhouse Store.

     To get the best deal on The Curiosity Files, you have two options: the CD of all nine units is available for $49, or you can get all nine units as downloadable E-Books for $46.  To purchase individually, please refer to The Old Schoolhouse Store website for pricing details. 

     Analyze the data for yourself and visit the Crew Blog to read what my Crew Mates thought about the Curiosity Files.  You can also follow Ana Lyze  and The Curiosity Files on Facebook.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the E-book The Curiosity Files: Quicksand for free from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sick Days

    Mom has been sick. Down and out for the count for 2 days. Can’t get out of bed,except to go to the Dr. to find out it is a raging sinus infection.  But all is not lost for school when I am sick, the kids soldier on and get things done for school even without me telling them what to do. Matthew and Sarah take over and make sure that Ben and Rebekah are doing what they need to do. Sarah reads their science to them and checks their math problems. Matthew sits and lets Rebekah read to him the most inane book he could think of “The Tiara Club”, but he knows it is important that she read. Matthew and Sarah also manage to get their own work done as well as checking up on their younger brother and sister.

     And after their schoolwork is done, Ben and Rebekah play. They come up with all sorts of creative ideas to do. They use my camera and videotape themselves putting on shows. They have been trying to figure out how to make a hammock, using a sheet, that will hold them.  I am always astounded by their creativity. Give them a little thing called a “Hex Bug” and their imaginations and problem solving skills run full tilt. I would never think to take a mat for cutting quilt squares and  blocks and make a maze for the bugs to go through. But they spent hours and hours arranging and rearranging their maze.

hex bug maze

So while mom has been sick, learning has still taken place. Some “book work” and lots of imaginative play.

Monday, February 7, 2011


VocabAhead book picture

VocabAhead  SAT Vocabulary Cartoons, Videos, and MP3S.

This is a book consisting of 300 vocabulary words. These are words that are typically found on the ACT and SAT standardized tests.

There is one word per page. Each word is given in bold print, the part of speech is given, then a definition and a picture to help you link the word and definition. After the picture there are two or three usage sentences. Most of the time at least one of the sentences goes with what is pictured.  At the end of the page, synonyms and antonyms are given.

After every 10 words a Review quiz is given. Each review consists of matching the word with the definition and fill in the blanks with the appropriate word.

When this book is purchased, you are then entitled  to a free download of videos and MP3S of each word in the book. These can then be listened to, watched on your computer or put on an IPod, IPhone and IPad. 

vocabAhead mawkish

How the ClarkClan used this book:

     Sarah (13) was the one in our house who primarily used this book. I would assign 10 words a week, with the review test being taken on Friday. Sarah tried more than one approach with this book. First she just took the book, read the words and meanings and then took the test. After about 2 weeks of this method, we decided to try the MP3S and videos. We did not download the MP3S to her IPod, but listened to them on my computer. Sarah quickly decided she did not want to watch the videos. This was because the video was simply a still, color picture and definition with a voice that would read the word, part of speech, definition, sentences and synonyms and antonyms.

     She then tried listening to the MP3S while reading along with the book. She found with this option, she learned the  correct pronunciation of each word. With no pronunciation guide for each word in the book, it was nice to be able to hear the word said out loud. The only problem we had with the MP3S was they downloaded into the computer in alphabetical order. The book is not in alphabetical order. This made listening while reading the book a little impractical as we had to search for each word. Sarah eventually decided that it was easier for her to just go back to reading each word and definitions in the book and taking the quiz..

     Sarah’s retention of the words was mediocre, nothing spectacular. When I asked her if she liked the book she said it was “okay”. While this book was not the best fit for Sarah, I still think it has good qualities. If you are going to be taking the ACT or SAT within a year, this may be a good resource to help prepare. The VocabAhead website has some very nice features. You can listen or watch the videos for many words, you can create study lists in the “Study Room”. Teachers also have many features they can access on the website.     

Where to Buy:

VocabAhead  SAT Vocabulary Cartoons, Videos, and MP3S is available from Amazon for $12.95.

Also available is  VocabAhead One Thousand SAT Vocabulary Videos & MP3s DVD-ROM from Amazon for $24.99

This book may not have been the best fit for us, but check out the other reviews to help you form a balanced opinion. Visit the Crew Blog and read what my Crew mates had to say.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received the book VocabAhead along with the video and MP3 downloads for free from VocabAhead in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dig It Games -- Roman Town

Roman Town Dig it Logo



Roman Town kids

Have you ever wanted to go on an Archeological Dig? Wondered about how how exciting it would be to unearth a Roman coin, or put together a mosaic?

Roman Town is a computer game that gives the feeling of being on a real Archeological Dig.

Roman Town Room

Features of the Game (taken from the Dig It Website)

This interactive, educational game targets 5th to 8th graders, but is played by kids from 8 to 88!

With Roman Town, kids will learn about Roman culture, society, and history through  “hands-on” discovery, analysis, and problem solving - skills that are fundamental to educational growth 
and development.

Kids love to discover new facts and information  just like real Archaeologists, logically and step-by-step, at an authentic excavation site.

Roman Town is the only game available that lets you be an archaeologist.  Manage your team of diggers while you learn about archaeological techniques.  Experience the thrill of uncovering ancient objects.  You’ll find something different every time you play!

Roman Town Report


  • Multi-player
  • Slow paced
  • Finding Artifacts
  • Information, Information and more Information
  • Playing Roman games
  • Filling out reports
  • Mosaic Tile puzzles

What the Clark Clan thought:

     Sarah (13) and Ben (9) were the two that helped test this game. They both really enjoyed the game and would play for as long as I would let them. This game involves a lot of reading. None of it is spoken. I mentioned it would be nice if it could be read to you, but Sarah disagreed with me. She said that it would slow her down if she had to wait for everything to be read. Sarah told me she found this game to be very engaging. She really enjoyed learning about each artifact and learning the Roman games.  She liked to reconstruct the artifacts. Ben finished every level of the game and has started over. He is still just as excited to play the second time around as the first.

     I created a log –in and played the game a few times. I was impressed with how much information is contained within the game. I thought the way this information was presented was very well done. When an artifact was found, you were told a little information about it. If you wanted more details,  you could click on the L.E.A.R.N. button and receive more information, sometimes there would be two, three or four levels of information.  As a parent, I was happy to educational features built into the game. There were  multiple choice quizzes and reports to fill out, all in the context of being an archeologist. I found the slower pace of the game to be refreshing compared to other educational computer games. This game did not make you feel frantic or rushed as you played it.

      We found that this game was appealing for both solo play and for playing with another person. We began to test this game during the Christmas break. Ben had his two cousins Zac (10) and Eli(8) visiting. One cold day, I set the three boys up to play this game and they all played for as long as I would let them. I knew then that Roman Town was something special, when an educational game kept three active boys busy for over an hour with no disagreements.

    As an overall assessment, the Clark Clan highly recommends this game. It is not loud and flashy, but very engaging. Any study of Ancient Rome would be enhanced with this game.

Price Information :

Visit the Dig-It games website to order Roman Town. You can also find DIg-It games on Facebook and Twitter.

Roman Town sells for  $39.95, BUT Dig-It games is offering a sale to readers of TOS Review Crew blogs. Between today and February 21, 2011 you can enter the code TOS2011. This will get you Roman Town for $19.96. This is a great deal but will not last past the February 21st deadline.

System Requirements
:• Windows Vista/XP/2000
• CPU 800 Mhz; RAM 412MB; Hard Drive 350MB

Visit the TOS Review Crew blog to read what other Crew members thought about this product. Each family views a product differently and it is nice to read several reviews before spending money on something.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a download of Roman Town for free from Dig – It Games in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yesterday and Today

2004 119B

Ben and Rebekah in 2004 and in 2011. I found a couple of pictures on my computer from the year 2004. It struck me that Ben and Rebekah really are almost always together. Do they ever fight? Yes! Do they still play together everyday? Yes!  When they disagree, I will usually separate them and within ten to fifteen minutes they are wanting to be back together again. So much fun to watch them grow.048