Friday, June 28, 2013

Celebrating the Fourth of July!

It can be hotter than anything here in Tennessee on Independence Day, and I mean HOT! We get those afternoon pop-up thunderstorms, making the humidity so high that it feels like you are swimming instead of walking. However, no matter how hot or steamy, we try to make the day one for the memory books.

In our little town, there will be a morning parade with both fire trucks, the ambulance, the local constable, and various floats from local businesses and churches, all pulled by tractor. 

The light posts are hung with American flags, and red, white, and blue balloons are in the hands of kids of all ages. The shady spots by the courthouse are filled with lawn chairs and folding tables manned by local churches, making and selling homemade ice cream and lemonade. Politicians are handing out paper campaign fans, and there are babies asleep and drooling in strollers all over the place. 

You can feel the love and the deep appreciation for our town and our country. Priceless memories—well worth the sweat and insect repellent—will be made. Trust me, head out and find a local celebration. Take your camera and your kids, and simply enjoy being together and being a part of this great country. And stick around . . . the evening fireworks are GREAT! 

How does your family celebrate Independence Day?

Amanda B.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Adventures in Bravery, Courage, and Honesty . . . Heroes for Today!

Who were your heroes when you were a child? I had all kinds of heroes--biblical heroes like Daniel, Esther, Joseph, and others, as well as more modern heroes like Daniel Boone, Neil Armstrong, Amelia Earhart, and more. They were important to me because they were real people who had lived extraordinary lives.   

While raising our children, I noticed that they didn't have the same kinds of heroes I had. Their heroes came in plastic shell packages from the store, wearing different colored capes and not connected with anyone who had lived a life of real adventure and challenges. That bothered me, so I set out to help them discover "real" heroes.  

This new series, Heroes for Today, contains stories from long ago which I have updated for the next generation. These stories capture the imagination, while reinforcing important character traits--courage, ambition, perseverance, humility, caring for others, responsibility, faith, conviction, and more.  

Let your children meet these people, savor their stories, and learn and grow from their adventures, trials, and tribulations!

From now until 6/29/30, get Heroes of America and Heroes of American History for just $6 each! 

Take a peek inside Heroes of America.
Take a peek insideHeroes of American History.

These are perfect to read on a mobile device during a long car ride. Don't have one? We are giving away a Kindle Fire - enter to win today!

Start today, helping your children discover what "hero" really means!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fireworks - How do they work? Stay Safe!

Independence Day is almost here!

For those of you with curious kids, here are a few fun and interesting links to check out before heading out to the local fireworks display next week:

How do fireworks work?
KABOOM - How Fireworks Work from PBS
Science of Fireworks Video
The Science Behind Fireworks

Learn about fireworks safety!
Fireworks Safety
Online Safety Video
Online Quiz

Have a fun and safe Independence Day! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What a Blessing to Meet So Many of You This Year!

I am home now for the season—hurray! It was wonderful to meet so many of you around the country, and thanks for your encouragement and for allowing me to share a few of the lessons that I've learned along the way. While speaking recently at a conference, I shared that we need to remember that we are not raising "4th graders" or "8th graders" or 10th graders." We are raising children. We need to help them discover and develop their unique gifts and talents, and their developmental timetable can be very different from those that we read about in child development books. After all, who do you know that has "normal" children or "normal" days? ;-)

Many of the parents in the audience came up to me later and thanked me for pointing out to them that we are not producing robots or identical widgets in an assembly line. We are here to protect, nurture, teach, and assist them in whatever God has in mind for them. Our children have all developed very interesting and very unique interests and talents, all in areas that I knew nothing about! However, that did not slow us down from helping them investigate and learn about these distinct gifts. You can do it too.

Blessings to you and yours,
Amanda B.

Monday, June 24, 2013

We're giving away a Kindle Fire!

That's right! You could win a
 Kindle Fire of your very own!

Get ready for a week full of fun and FIREworks! We are running one of our biggest sales of the year with three ways to help you save for the next school year. Don't forget to scroll down for a chance to win a Kindle Fire! 

1st way to save:
Buy 5, Save $5 - purchase 5 titles of your choice at one time, and we will give you $5 off your order - this includes sale items!  There is no limit and no codes required. It's really that easy to save, and we are getting the sale started with 5 fun titles - check it out below!

2nd way to save:
Purchase 10 units in June and you earn a FREE unit in JulyPurchase 15 units and we’ll give you 2 FREE units in July! To qualify, the 10 unit studies can be purchased at anytime during the month and we keep track of them for you. If you took advantage of the "buy 5, save $5" deal last week, you are half way there! There is no limit and it includes sale items!

3rd way to save:
To kick off our patriotic party, we have some great deals lined up on our specials page! Join us!

Sale ends 6/29/13.

Don't forget to grab your FREE Build a Year Planner! It makes planning so very simple AND you save big in the process. During June and July, we'll be offering weekly savings on a huge variety of titles to help you fill in the planner for a year of exciting learning adventures!

If you haven't yet, follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for more patriotic fun!

This giveaway is over and we have chosen a winner!
Congratulations to Elizabeth B. of Ashland, NY!
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Hold on Tight!

There are some things that every child looks forward to with great anticipation, and one of these is finally being old enough and tall enough to ride the roller coaster!

Using this fascination, this study helps them learn about roller coasters, experience the fun of designing their own roller coaster, and have fun watching roller coasters speeding around their tracks across the globe. This topic is a winner around the world, and what better way to learn about gravity and Isaac Newton’s first law of motion?

From the history of roller coasters to the science of how a roller coaster works, there is much to be learned in this study!

For a Sneak Peek - take a look at this video link (but, hold on tight!)

Just for you, get Roller Coasters on sale this week, for just $5! Sale ends 6/22/13.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lunch in the Snowball Cafeteria

One of my favorite childhood family destinations was our yearly trek to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. We went camping there and made so many terrific memories. Just as soon as the campsite was set up, we would all pull out sweaters (it is cool down in the cave!) and head off as a family to hike the cave. We went at every opportunity, listening to the ranger’s educational presentations, touching the stalactites and stalagmites, sitting down by the streams in the cave, and watching the ranger’s flashlight play over the blind cavefish. We loved every moment of it—we were captivated!

However, the coolest visit was the time that we got to take the
tour of the cave that ended with lunch at the Snowball Cafeteria. It captured our imagination. The entire ceiling of this cold cafeteria was covered with stalactite-looking formations that looked like snowballs! We sat and talked about all that we had heard and learned, and then we wondered about how far the cave branches reached. Did they reach all the way to Ohio or Alabama?

Celebrate these days of adventure with your children. Check out Cavernous Caves and dig in! Let the exploration begin, and the learning will go hand in hand with the curiosity! Cavernous Caves is on sale now for just $5!*

Amanda B.

*Sale ends 6/22/13

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pioneers and Science - Part 2

Most people don't usually think of science in the lives of the pioneers, while children usually think of that first! Questions such as "How far did they have to walk every day?" and "How do you hunt deer?" and "How did they find animals?" and " How did they know which way to go if there weren't any road signs?" are a few of the endless list of questions that are repeatedly asked by inquisitive children! Take this opportunity to feed that interest, finding out some of the answers to these kinds of questions as well as learning so much more.

Autumn has proven to be a great time to investigate the outdoor world and nature as the pioneers might have experienced it. In addition to the history and people involved in this movement west, your children can learn more about the daily lives of these people—how they spent their days, what their biggest problems were, how they found food and water, and what they actually saw along the way. Try studying pioneers in the "first person," and make it more realistic to your children.

Many children have never had the chance to go to a stream or river early in the morning to watch for animals coming for water, observing the animals firsthand. I'll never forget the first time that my father took us all to a stream at sunrise when I was a child, teaching us to sit quietly just out of sight and observe the wildlife that started each morning with a visit to the river. I had never known how brave animals could be when they thought they were alone in the wilds! There by the stream were raccoon and deer and all kinds of creatures, and it was breathtaking for these city kids!

The books written by Jim Arnosky, such as Crinkleroot's Book of Animal Tracks and Wildlife Signs (grades 1–4), have captured some of these lessons that I learned as a child, with all of the "wow" and wonder that I remember first-hand. Arnosky's book, Secrets of a Wildlife Watcher (grades 5 and up), has taught us so much about observing wildlife on some of these hikes. The children can learn all about spotting animals by the signs they left behind, just like the pioneers had to do over one hundred years ago.

Their natural curiosity about animals makes this a wonderful opportunity to introduce the concept of the animal kingdom and how animals are classified. If possible, try to find a map of the United States that shows animals that are native to specific regions. We found a map from the Smithsonian Institution that included this information and it is still displayed on a wall in the den. (Many museums and educational stores also carry this type of map.) I would also recommend a good, basic field guide or handbook about animals and/or mammals. One of our favorites is A Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Comstock, for grades 5–12. This book has sections for many types of animals, as well as plants found in North America. Another reference for your students is Mammals of North America, by John Burton, of the Science Nature Guide Series, for grades 4–9.

Science was woven throughout the lives of these hard-working and committed travelers. From their need to understand how to find their way across this vast country and all of its terrains and obstacles, to the need to be able to treat their own sicknesses, deliver babies along the way, take care of sanitary conditions, find safe water, and on and on, science was everywhere in their lives. For older students and adults, try to find a copy of the book The Prairie Traveler: The Classic Handbook for America's Pioneers, by Randolph B. Marcy, Captain, U.S. Army. This book was written in 1859 at the request of the U.S. War Department to provide westward-bound pioneers a reference that would help prepare them for their travels. Now reprinted in its original version, the author described exactly what to take along on the journey, how to travel along a trail, how to camp, how to prevent stampedes, how to cross rivers, how to handle prairie storms, build fires, find water, and hunt on the trail.

For younger students, try to locate a copy of Daily Life in a Covered Wagon, by Paul Erickson, for grades 3 and up. This will help them get a feel for the daily lives from a younger perspective. Try to point out the areas where science applies as they come across them. Another book that adds to their understanding is If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon, by Ellen Levine (grades 3–5).

Enjoy the adventure!

P.S. If you missed Pioneers and Science Part 1, you can read it HERE.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pioneers and Science - Part 1

Remember the times that you spent playing make-believe pioneers or building forts in the backyard? What a thrill to try to build a fort from Dad's leftover lumber scraps, listen to all of the sounds of nature, and try to move "like an Indian" through the underbrush without cracking a twig! Remember the smell of the rain, freshly turned soil, honeysuckle in bloom? Many a child has spent countless hours at this kind of play in America, and this study allows the same type of creativity while focusing more closely on the details of the Pioneer era in our country.

The lives of the pioneers were less complicated in many ways. They made do with what they had, observed the beauty of nature, and encountered adventure and challenge on a daily basis. They experienced a different pace of life, where the most important things were the simplest things—food, water, shelter, sitting around the fire at night, reading the Bible together, sharing the day's excitements and difficulties, and looking forward to Sunday for their hard-earned day of rest. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from these people and times.

In Prairie Pioneers  your child will blaze the trail with the courageous pioneers as they travel across America, from the Mississippi and on to the prairies and the far West.

Day 1: What is a Pioneer?
Day 2: The Story of the Pioneers
Day 3: Science Secrets of the Prairie
Day 4: Lessons to Learn From the Pioneers
Day 5: Cool Things About Pioneers

Let's travel with them now, feeling their heart's desire to seek freedom and adventure. Take your children along to see the sights through the eyes of the pioneers, marvel at the beauty and intensity of God's world, smell the campfires and taste the trail food, and understand the excitement of finding their own "home place" at the end of the journey. Share these adventures with your children. Let them savor those days and learn to appreciate the history of this country, "one nation, under God." Enjoy the adventure at a special price this week - just $5 thorugh 6/22/13!

Be sure to come back for Pioneers and Science - Part 2 tomorrow to learn some great ideas to get the learning adventure going!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Family Road Trip Prize Package Giveaway

We have a fun week planned here at USAB! This week we are taking a virtual road trip around the USA . . . AND we have 3 ways for you to save while you join usDon't forget to enter to win our Family Road Trip Prize Package below- it's packed with fun activities that your children will enjoy! You can also follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for more road trip fun!

1st way to save:
Buy 5, Save $5 - purchase 5 titles of your choice at one time, and we will give you $5 off your order - this includes sale items!  There is no limit and no codes required. It's really that easy to save, and we are getting the sale started with 5 fun titles - check it out below!

2nd way to save:
Purchase 10 units in June and you earn a FREE unit in JulyPurchase 15 units and we’ll give you 2 FREE units in July! To qualify, the 10 unit studies can be purchased at anytime during the month and we keep track of them for you. If you took advantage of the "buy 5, save $5" deal last week, you are half way there! There is no limit and it includes sale items!

3rd way to save:
To kick off our road trip, we have some great deals lined up on our specials page! Join us!

Prairie Pioneers - $5
Cavernous Caves - $5
Davy Crockett - $5
George Washington - $5
Roller Coasters - $5

Specials go through 6/22/13.

Don't forget to grab your FREE Build a Year Planner! It makes planning so very simple AND you save big in the process. During June and July, we'll be offering weekly savings on a huge variety of titles to help you fill in the planner for a year of exciting learning adventures!

We have put together a fun Family Road Trip Prize Package Giveaway just for you! Enter to win today!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Have a Child Who Loves Animals?

Do you have a child who loves animals? Feed their interest and save at the same time! Creation Camouflage and Astonishing Animals are on sale now for just $5!

Masters of disguise . . . cloaked and cunning . . . crafty, camouflaged animals—from the bottom of the sea, to the top of the world—discover them all!

Day 1: Hiding in Plain Sight
Day 2: Getting to Know the Rain Forest
Day 3: What Is in the Desert?
Day 4: Hiding in the Ocean
Day 5: Cool Things About the Tundra

Learn all about how and why animals hide in different parts of the earth, from oceans and rain forests to deserts and even the tundra. Meet distinguished animal-loving experts and watch videos of astonishing animals from around the world while learning about their most amazing forms of camouflage.

Watch your children’s faces as they enjoy close-up adventures with so many obscure, crafty animals. Join in the fun and learn about these amazing creatures—what they eat, how they use camouflage, where they live, and much more. Peek at some exotic places and unfamiliar lands where these creatures live, while searching out answers to fascinating topics.

Night-stalking primates with nasty-clawed, crooked fingers . . . giant, dragon-like reptiles eager to eat . . . tobogganing penguins swift on the snow . . . clutches of turtle hatchlings in pursuit of the sea . . . an ark, abundant with astonishing animals . . .

And God saw that it was good.

A dog may be man’s best friend, but it’s God’s gift of all kinds of animals that kids are absolutely crazy about!

Day 1: What Exactly Is an Aye-Aye?
Day 2: Cool Things About Wolverines
Day 3: What Are Komodo Dragons?
Day 4: Getting to Know Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Day 5: What Is an Adélie Penguin?

How many critters has your household held over the years?

There’s no doubt that children are fascinated with animals—they begin building that sense of awe and wonder at an early age with the introduction of Noah and the ark. By selecting animals that are a bit off the beaten path, this E-Book will keep kids quite absorbed and actively productive.

Sale goes through 6/15/13. Find out how to save even more HERE!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Flag Day Flash Sale!

Red, white, and blue—when we hear those words stated together, we automatically think of our flag! It is a patriotic symbol of America, fought for and died for, cared for and appreciated. It is important that we continue to share this knowledge with generations to come, just as it was shared with us.

This flag represents the people, places, beliefs, and ideals that this country was founded on, and all that we aspire to. We need to remember what the flag represents and the people who have risked everything to keep it flying.

Teach your children about our flag at a special low price
Flag Day is on sale now for just $3*
when you use the code - FlyTheFlag.

In Flag Day Download N Go, you and your child will investigate the history of the flag and learn about Betsy Ross, Francis Scott Key, and other patriotic heroes. Each day you will explore and investigate, creating and adding more learning components to a Flag Day lapbook—building a wonderful reminder of all that you are learning to be enjoyed for years to come

With this holiday, let’s bring the flags out of the back of the closet. Let’s care for the flag and teach these same concepts to our children. Let’s make Flag Day a special day to remember how far this country has come: from 13 stars to 50 stars, from an upstart young country to a country that represents freedom to the rest of the world. The flag has been there through it all, lifting the spirits of our soldiers and brightening our darkest days with hope. May God continue to bless America!

*Sale goes through 6/15/13.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Asked For It!

Quack, quack! The ducks are here and so is one of our BIGGEST sales of the year. Take advantage of our special deals this month and watch your savings add up with 3 ways to save!

1st way to save:
Buy 5, Save $5 - purchase 5 titles of your choice at one time, and we will give you $5 off your order - this includes sale items!  There is no limit and no codes required. It's really that easy to save, and we are getting the sale started with 5 fun titles - check it out below!

2nd way to save:
Purchase 10 units in June and you earn a FREE unit in July. Purchase 15 units and we’ll give you 2 FREE units in July! To qualify, the 10 unit studies can be purchased at anytime during the month and we keep track of them for you. If you took advantage of the "buy 5, save $5" deal last week, you are half way there! There is no limit and it includes sale items!

3rd way to save:
Check out our specials page! Not only is our newest title - Dynamic Ducks on sale for $5, we also have the following titles at a special low price through 6/15/13:

Creation Camouflage - $5
Astonishing Animals - $5
Incredible Insects - $5
Flight - $6

Take advantage of all 3 ways to save this week, and watch your savings stack up!

P.S. Don't forget to grab your FREE Build a Year Planner! It makes planning so very simple AND you save big in the process. During June and July, we'll be offering weekly savings on a huge variety of titles to help you fill in the planner for a year of exciting learning adventures!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Duck Dynasty Prize Package Giveaway

Dynamic Ducks is finally here!
Continue reading to find out how to win a fantastic Duck Dynasty Giveaway!

Kids and ducks simply go together, from watching a duckling hatch from its shell, to learning how they fly and what the feathers do, kids simply have fun with these creatures.

Living on every continent except Antarctica, ducks come in all shapes and sizes. From the tiny bufflehead duck to the majestic redhead duck, they are stunning and oh, so much fun to investigate.

You are about to set off on a fantastic learning adventure with your child. Just imagine:

  • Discovering what makes ducks “waterproof.”
  • Learning about the anatomy of birds and how they fly.
  • Discovering the why and where of duck migration.
  • Having fun learning the story behind two famous ducks: Daffy and Donald.
  • And more!

Get ready for an unforgettable learning adventure into the world of these fabulous, feathered fowl.

Check out the Dynamic Ducks lapbook:

Get Dynamic Ducks at a special price of just $5 through 6/15/13!

Enter to win!

To help us celebrate the release of Dynamic Ducks, our friends at Mardel have generously offered the following Duck Dynasty items for a Dynamic Ducks release week giveaway!

1. Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander (Hardcover) $24.99 Value

2. Duck Dynasty-Family With A Calling Latte Mug $16.99 Value (You choose between 2 different mug styles.)

3. Duck Commander Braided Camo Keychain  $7.99 Value

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Come Visit Us!

Will you be at the Virginia Homeschool Convention this weekend? Be sure to stop by and visit us. We'll be at booths 802 and 803. . . and we'll have chocolate! :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sea Turtles, Eggs and Night Walks

Along the eastern Florida coast from April to September, huge sea turtles make their way onto the beach late at night to lay their eggs, cover the nest, and then return to the ocean waves before the sun rises in the east. When this season begins, the beaches come alive at night, busily walked by families and folks of all ages, watching for the sea turtles to wash up in the waves and head for the beach for a night of egg laying. When we lived on the Space Coast, this became a fun evening adventure for our crew, and we learned so much about these gorgeous animals.

Armed with things that varied from insect repellent to flashlights, we packed up and headed for the beach. And we were never disappointed, even if the sea turtles took the night off! We learned important things, such as how beautiful the water was at night as the moon rose, and how the waves would absolutely glow when a bottle rocket was fired into the surf. You’ll just have to trust me on that one. 

When the turtles did show up, we had great lessons in patience and turtle anatomy, along with lessons on leaving the turtles and their nests alone. Later in the summer, we would return to these places and watch newly hatched baby turtles struggle for the surf to begin the cycle all over again. These were priceless lessons on just how fragile life is and what it means to be stewards of this earth. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Heading to the Ocean

Remember the first time you "heard" the ocean in a seashell or felt the sand shift from beneath your feet as the surf washed by? The cry of the gull, the steady rhythm of the waves on the shore, the sting of salt on your face—all of these and more remind us of the tranquility you can experience when seeing the ocean.  

As spring quickly approaches, the call to the water becomes louder and more appealing to families everywhere. We think of vacations and heading to the beach, while the children imagine who will collect the most seashells, climb to the top of the lighthouse first, build the biggest sandcastle, and kick the surf the highest! 

The ocean was the topic of the very first unit study I attempted because it was just a short walk from our door, and the children were enamored by the beach and the water. They have always been so curious about the things we found or saw on the beach. I had a new baby with severe colic that was soothed by long beach walks, two fascinated and eager students anxious to leave textbooks and busywork behind, and a huge field trip arena at our doorstep—the Atlantic Ocean!

I always try to begin a unit study by asking the children what they'd like to know about the topic at hand, if they haven't already demonstrated specific interests or mentioned questions in our daily conversations. We have already determined that we would investigate sea life, so here are some of the questions that they had about this topic:

1. What is the biggest animal in the ocean?
2. What kinds of animals live in the deepest part of the ocean?
3. How long can a dolphin and whale stay underwater?
4. Where does the great white shark live?

There, that's four questions that we can tackle during this travel through the Oceans Unit Study Adventure!

From this point, I would proceed to the study outline and find the portions that would provide answers to the children's questions as well as stretch their interest into other applicable areas of the topic.

This week, you can get Oceans for just $6 through 6/8/13! Be sure to visit our PinterestFacebook and Twitter pages also - you will find more inspiration, activities and Ocean fun waiting for you!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And Then I Met Winter the Dolphin!

Do you know who Winter the dolphin is? Well, I do, and during a trip to Florida, I got to see Winter and plenty of other rescued sea animals at the Clearwater Aquarium! As we approached it, I couldn't believe the lines and lines of people, all waiting to get into the aquarium, and most of them were there to see Winter. As we waited our turn in line, we went past some very interesting signs that let me know that Winter is a very "social media" kind of animal--she is on both Facebook AND Twitter! 

As we moved along in line, we stood by a very interesting rescue van--remember the one in the movie Dolphin Tale?

Once we entered the aquarium, we were greeted with a VERY toothy grin!

Then we moved on through walls of fish of all kinds--all were smiling, of course!

Once we moved through the aquarium walls and displays, it was up the steps and on to the world of outdoor tanks, where injured and recovering sea animals live and play. This sea turtle LOVED my camera and kept coming right up to my feet for a picture--see him smile? He was adorable!

The story of Winter's real rescue is a bit different than the one told in the movie, and we learned so much from the trainers as we walked along the tanks of several dolphins. I learned SO much. As the trainers work with the dolphin, they are actually doing physical therapy!
I didn't know this--Winter only wears the artificial tail when she is having therapy. Here she is in her own tank. She swims around this tank without her tail, and she jumps up on a float when she needs to take a break! :)

Winter is a beautiful dolphin with a wonderful story and message for all, and I had a FANTASTIC day! Dolphins are such beautiful animals, and kids are captivated with them--so anxious to learn more and see how they swim, and to watch them smile. :) 

Just another piece of God's amazing creation, and the tale of a dolphin not to be missed!

Amanda B.

P.S. Don't miss the sale on the Dolphin Days DNG this week - ends 6/8/13!