This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Sunday, January 29

Slow Cook Superbowl

Super-Yummy Superbowl!
Nacho Cheese Dip
Don't just grab the can from the store, impress your friends with this easy-to-make homemade dip!

  • 1/2 c beer
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • 1 stick Velveta, cubed
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro
  1. In a pan, mix beer, cumin, oregano, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 2 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix beans, salsa, cheese, and beer mixture.  
  3. Place into crockpot, cover and cook on low 3-4 hours (or high 1-2 hours).  When it bubbles, serve it with fresh sprinkles of cilantro!   
  4. Goes wonderfully with our homemade pretzels....


Barbecue Pork Sandwiches
As a Carolina girl, I can tell you that it doesn't get any better than this!

  • 1 c catsup
  • 1 c chili sauce
  • 1/4 c dijon mustard
  • 5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 lb boneless pork roast
  • 8 buns
  1. In a pan, mix catsup, chili, mustard, vinegar, worcestershire, and garlic.  Bring to boil, reduce and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Marinate pork with mixture in a glass bowl - overnight.
  3. Place into crockpot and add 3/4 c water.  Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours (or high 4-6 hours).
  4. Shred cooked roast into pieces, place on bun and add barbecue sauce as desired.


Hearty Vegetarian Chili
....because we all have friends who eschew meat, but still love the game!

  • 1 diced butternut squash (peeled)
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 38 oz black beans (drained)
  • 4 oz green chiles (do not drain)
  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sour cream and cilantro, to taste
  1. Mix everything except cilantro in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours (or high 3-4 hours).
  2. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, as desired.

Saturday, January 28

The Book Shack - Filling a Homeschool Need

Once upon a time, there was a magic place called The Book Samaritan.  For nearly seventeen years, the fairy godmothers provided families in need with books, curriculum, and supplies so that they could homeschool their children, even if funding was tight.

As time passed, the kingdom became a darker place.  Trolls hid beneath the rocks and tried to disguise themselves as villagers in need.  The fairy godmothers began to lose steam.  They had families, who also needed their help, at home.  Their good idea had begun to take over their lives, and they were tired.

They decided to close the castle doors, and draw up the moat, forever.

BUT!  Some villagers from a nearby village strongly believed in the fairy godmothers, and their mission, and they agreed to use the magic wand to continue spreading love and help across all the land.  The called it The Book Shack.

However, as these new godmothers belonged to a different village, the princess (who had helped the fairy godmothers along the way) would not be sending knights to aid with the mission in the new village.  And so, the new godmothers began to scour the land for knights and princesses....
It's a true tale.  The Book Shack is a non-profit group, an extension of the Book Samaritan which was run out of Pawhuska, OK for many years.  They operate in the same vein, taking in donated curriculum and books, and then shipping it out to homeschooling families who have felt the financial crunch and cannot afford supplies.

As it comes upon that time of year for used curriculum sales, keep in mind that you can donate any unsold items to the Book Shack, and you will be helping other families in need.

It might seem strange, giving away huge boxes full of supplies, curriculum, books, manipulatives, and other homeschooling items to people that you don't know, but you are helping another family to have that freedom of schooling choice.  Also, as an added bonus, both your donation and your shipping are tax-deductible.

How to help:

  • Book donations: We accept any used books, workbooks, flash cards, kits, DVDs, CD-ROMS, and school supplies. They will be catalogued for immediate redistribution.
  • Cash donations: Be assured that 100% of all contributions will be used to purchase much-needed curriculum and cover renter's insurance for the distribution center.
  • Books, curriculum, cash contributions and postage are all tax deductible gifts.
  • Please pray for our continued efforts to reach out to homeschooling families through this ministry.
Please forward curriculum donations to:

The Book Shack
PO Box 235
Prague, OK  74864
Please forward cash donations to :


NOTE: Shipping via "Media Mail" is the most inexpensive rate available. Just ask the clerk for the "Media Mail" rate when shipping books, curriculum, or other materials.

If you’re in need of materials, you can send a letter to this organization, along with your children’s grade levels, and they’ll do their best to help you out. Find out more about requesting materials.

You’re probably asking, “But what’s the catch?” It’s simple really. When you’re finished with the materials, they don’t want you selling them. They simply request that you send them back so they can be used by other homeschooling families in need.

Check it out. The Book Samaritan is a great organization that has already helped many homeschooling families, and The Book Shack will hopefully help many more in the future.

Tuesday, January 24

Slow Cook January

January : Winter Warm Up
Squash Enchilada Casserole

  • 2 c chopped butternut squash (peeled)
  • 16 oz hominy (drained)
  • 16 oz black beans (drained)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 large chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • 4 oz diced green chiles
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz pkg cornbread mix
  • 1 c shredded cheese
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • sour cream & cilantro, to taste


  1. Combine squash, hominy, beans, onion, pepper, chiles, salsa, garlic, and salt.  Pour enchilada sauce on top.
  2. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours (or high 4-5 hours).
  3. In a bowl, mix together cornbread mix, 1/2 c cheese, milk, and egg.  Spoon batter on top of veggies in crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for 50 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle remaining cheese over mixture.  Serve with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.


Winter Soup  (utilizes in-season veggies and the Scarborough Fair herbs)

  • 2 diced parsnips (peeled)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 large carrots (chopped)
  • 1 diced turnip (peeled)
  • 1 diced potato
  • 2 c water
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 c red wine
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 30 oz northern beans (drained)
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley


  1. Mix everything except the parsley together in the pot.  Cover and cook on low 10-11 hours (or high 4-5 hours).
  2. Stir in parsley before serving.


Spicy Apple Cider

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 8 c apple cider
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 sliced orange


  1. Place cinnamon, cloves, all spice in cheesecloth and tie with twine.  
  2. Put cider, brown sugar, orange, and spices into crockpot.  Cook on low 2-5 hours.  Discard spice bag.

Sunday, January 22

History & Geography....Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017

This week in the Virtual Curriculum Fair, we’ll introduce you to our favorite history and geography resources.  

You guys know us...we are all about some history here at Gypsy Road, so paring it down is going to be difficult to do!  

In addition to our regular curricula (the A World of Adventure series), we supplement all over the place.  Audiobooks, read alouds, subscription boxes, costumes and dramatizations....it's all about having fun!

Audiobooks
  • Heirloom Audio Productions produces wonderful, professional audio dramas that bring history to life for the entire family. As a travelling family, we enjoy listening to audiobooks regularly, and the first time we heard one of their audiobooks, we were just BLOWN AWAY!  If you've never heard one, you should definitely learn more here.
  • When the kids were a bit younger, we listened to many Jim Weiss audiobooks while cruising the interstate!  Great Hall Productions has an entire line based on classic books.  Many are available at your local library.
Books & Read-Alouds
  • The Magic Tree House series has a book for almost any topic you dream up, and Mary Pope Osborne is still writing!  Each of the books has an accompanying research guide, and there are free teacher guides and art activities are online.
  • "We Were There books are easy to read and provide exciting, entertaining stories, based upon true historic events. Though written simply enough for young readers, they make interesting reading for boys and girls well into their teens." (description from Wikipedia)  I read these aloud to the kids, and they adore them!  There is a WWT book for almost every facet of American history up to the 1960's.
Subscription Boxes & Games
  • Both Carmen Sandiego and Little Passports help to reinforce world geography lessons.  Carmen Sandiego is the detective who fights crime around the world in thirty-minute segments.  
  • Little Passports covers either US or World geography (depending on your package), and includes activities, stickers, a toy / art project, and a letter each month from a different state / country.  The program is designed for children as young as three (up to about ten), and gets them excited about world geography.  You can read our review for it here
  • Adventurous Mailbox is most closely related to Little Passports, but is more like an extension of that program.  Once the boys had outgrown Little Passports, I floundered through several programs, trying to re-create the excitement that they had with that program.  FINALLY, I found it with Adventurous Mailbox.  We loved it so much that we're already on their waiting list for the next session!  See more info here.

Costumes & Dramatizations
Our children regularly come up with costumes to reenact the time periods we are studying.  This helps to bring history to life, and draws the arts into our curriculum.  A few times each year, they will get together with their friends and have a 'movie day,' where they put these costumes to use and make films.  They are learning how to write a script, use technology, and digitally manipulate that technology to create a final product.  AND they're having fun the whole time!

Vacations
Another way that we reinforce history lessons is through field trips.  No matter where our truck lands, we can find something history, science, or geography-related in the area!  Here are some of our favorite stops, and the history lessons we've learned there.  We've created unit studies for you to use when you visit them, too!  (Bottom of each post.)
A short note.....if you've read all the way through, then you've seen the phrase 'see the full review' more than once.  We don't recommend products that we don't believe in.  I've written reviews for several different products - some in exchange for the product (and that's noted on the review), and some just because I really believe in it.  In this roundup of history resources, there isn't a single resource that we don't use daily and completely believe in.  Just wanted to get that out there...  😎

Wednesday, January 18

Governmentalist (Joss Stone)

Ah...government.  It's a bit of a dirty word these days, but never has there been more need to educate our children about the Constitution and how the US Government was designed and is supposed to work...   (I mean, let's face it...the 2016 election made the 2000 election look well-organized and friendly.) On that note, we recently took a trip to our home state's Capitol Building, to learn about the three branches and how they work together.
Our Capitol offers free tours, and they offer some backstage information and areas for Scouts and other civic and service oriented groups.  While this wouldn't crack the boys' top ten lists of favorite places they've toured, the follow-up conversation in the car on the way home was educational (for them) and insightful (for mom).  They asked a lot of hard questions about the information they'd been told about how the government works....because it really doesn't jive with what they hear on tv and what they see in the world around them.
One of the things that did impress them, however, was the beautiful architecture of the Capitol Building.  The dome inside, which we learned took decades to finally get built, was splashed with color all over the inside, and topped with the indian statue (see top of this post).  The statue was designed by a local artist from our hometown, which was a fun thing to learn!
While we weren't there when the legislature was in session, there are nice seating areas to watch the sessions, as well as sound-proof press rooms for the media.  We've seen this particular room on the news several times, so it was interesting to see it in person.
Our final stop on the tour was the press room, where the Governor makes her speeches and announcements.  While she wasn't there during our visit, our son had no qualms about stepping up to the podium and talking about how he believes our country should be run.  .....luckily, most everyone had already left the room by that time!  However, it does reinforce the notion that we need to educate the next generation about the good and the bad of government, and hope for a more civilized, better future for them.

Government Unit Study

Tuesday, January 17

Jeepers, it's January!


We're beating the winter blues with some awesome mini-vacations / field trips....including this one to Medieval Times!  Read on below to find out how you can get very discounted tickets, or even win a family four pack!

At the castle, we all wore our Medieval finest, had a chance to check out the horses, and cheered on the Red Knight in the jousting tournament!  The birthday boy even got a special greeting from the king himself!


Winter's chill is taking hold of the kingdom this January and February, and what better way to warm up than with a hot, delicious bowl of soup! Known for their famous tomato bisque, Medieval Times is partnering with non-profit Dallas LIFE to help those in need create their own healthy soups by tackling hunger in North Texas with a food drive and by releasing the bisque recipe for all to make.

To donate, bring any non-perishable food item to the Dallas castle and receive 45% off adult admission for a Thursday, Sunday or the 2pm Saturday show through February 12th.  Suggested food items include the makings for soups including tomato sauce, beans or peas, broths or stocks and canned vegetables. 

The history of soup is as old as the history of cooking.  The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable. This made it the perfect choice for both sedentary and travelling cultures, rich and poor, healthy people and invalids. Soup (and stews, pottages, porridges, gruels, etc.) evolved as dictated by local ingredients and tastes. There was no tableware, so soup was drunk right out of the bowl, as was any type of stew.

Soups are a great option nutritionally, they provide us with lots of important nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. Soup can be a simple addition to any meal and a great way to make sure that you and your family get the essential servings of whole grains, vegetables and protein in one bowl.
  • For more information, visit MedievalTimes.com.
    • 2021 North Stemmons Freeway
    • Dallas, TX 75207
    • 1-888-WE-JOUST (935-6878)


ABOUT DALLAS LIFE
Dallas LIFE reaches out to homeless men, women and children with food, clothing, shelter, education - and a proven path to recovery and self-sufficiency.  It is the largest homeless shelter in North Texas, housing up to 500 people per night.


Dallas LIFE welcomes the needy. Whether it is a homeless man, a single mother with children, or an entire family, Dallas LIFE is a safe place to recover from the trauma of homelessness. Some come beaten and bruised; others addicted and confused. All need a fresh start and a loving hand-up. At Dallas LIFE, these needs are met every day!  For more information, visit DallasLIFE.org

DISCOUNTED TICKETS
To donate, bring any non-perishable food item to the Dallas castle and receive 45% off adult admission for a Thursday, Sunday or the 2pm Saturday show through February 12th.  

Sunday, January 15

Science & Math for Struggling Learners


2017 vcf-009
The subject of the week for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is math...and science.  The two kind of go hand in hand, don't they?

We'll introduce you to our favorite :
  • hands-on science program
  • science dvds / learning aids
  • math resources for struggling learners

Struggling Learners
Math.  It's the dreaded four-letter word.  At least in our house...what about your's?  After a few years of math lessons, and still no progress on being able to count by ones, we had to try something different with our special needs son.

I stumbled upon this Montessori hundred number set, and it's helped quite a bit.  It's both visual and tactile, but without requiring handwriting (another struggle).

Another program we've used is Touch Math.  A teacher-friend of mine recommended this one, and helped with learning how to apply it, and it has made a world of difference for our son.  It's definitely a program for tactile learners.  Granted, he'll probably be in his forties and still counting on his fingers, but whatever.  His figuring is actually pretty good, and he can do it on his own.  

Two other tactile tools we have used are the Judy Clock (telling time; elapsed time) and the Pretend Money Set (think, what you'd give your little one to play store). If you have a struggling learner, I would highly recommend any, or all, of these tools!



Other special needs posts :
Hands-On Learning
We've used both the basic Magic School Bus science kits and the Young Scientists subscription club, and I have to say that Young Scientists is a lot better.  Not only are the kits more comprehensive and tailored for learning, but your child gets a new one in the mail each month.  I think every child likes getting mail addressed to them!  Also, you can generally pick up either of these over at Educents for steep discounts!

The Young Scientists Club has thirty-six different kits - a new one arrives each month.  It's set up as a continuous learning experience, with each kit building upon the one before it.  All of the needed materials are included (except for something like 'tap water'), and they are quality materials.  At first glance, it may seem up there, but when you consider that you're getting thirty-six different sets of lessons, each with 5-10 experiments and all the needed materials, and the lesson plans...it's quite the bargain.

For our older son, we do more badgeschooling - that's what I've dubbed it when he takes his Boy Scout badges and lets them pull double duty for classwork.  (Learn more about badgeschooling.)  As an example, here is a badge our son did on Oceanography...I promise he learned more than most 6th graders living in Oklahoma would learn about the topic!!  Badgeschooling can be done for any subject, really.  Homeschool Legacy offers unit studies that provide resources and activities covering both school work and badge work.  The company offers both Boy Scout (BSA) and American Heritage Girl (AHG) options, and each unit study completes all of  the required badge work for one or more badges.

Dvds & Books
The Magic School Bus set is comprehensive, with books, movies, science kits, and a free curriculum that pulls everything together.  I like that the books are written on a few different levels, so that kids can start reading them in first grade, yet still be challenged by the same characters in fifth grade.  You do not have to have the kits to be able to benefit from this set!

Having visual and auditory learners, movies are a big part of our schooling.  When it comes to science, we tend to stick with secular approaches, and we discuss the topics covered frequently.  Some of our favorite series include include : 
We went through a Bill Nye the Science Guy phase there for a while, but Wild Kratts remains the overall favorite.They know more about science basics than either my husband or I did at their ages, solely from watching these shows.  

Wednesday, January 11

Winter (Tori Amos)

Rejuvenation....it's our word for the year...and today's post is all about how winter is a season of rejuvenation.  It's a time for rest, relaxation, and family togetherness.  We are gypsies on the road for spring, summer, and fall, but winter is a season for being gypsies at home.
Outside, autumn's hard work helps to keep us warm through winter.  Inside, our old-fashioned clothes dryer helps keep the humidity tolerable.

A family tradition....we took advantage of the icy cold to mix up a batch of hard candy.  Make your own with this recipe!

We found some math beauty...in the brick patterns and the contrast of a bright, warm inside to the cold, brisk outside/

It's a time for rejuvenation.  The whole world seems to sleep peacefully...
  
The chickens huddle in their toasty coop and the gardens rest under a blanket of snow; everything rests in preparation for spring.

Winter is a time for cleansing....clearing off the brush from last year's storms and letting the land get ready for spring.

This is how we sled....and how we fall!

Unlike our friends up north, the pond still isn't solid enough to skate on.

Even with her broken foot, the boys found a way to help mom sled...

...because, most of all, it's a time for joy!

Tuesday, January 10

Schoolhouse Teachers Review

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is the homeschooler's online educational resource site.  It’s your one-stop helper-shop, with aids such as: printables, daily lessons, lapbooks, free e-books, and conference recordings on various homeschool topics prepared by recognized homeschool leaders.  You have access to daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly lesson plans by some of the best from within the homeschooling community.  Homeschool moms, you finally get a teacher’s aide with Schoolhouse Teachers!

If that weren’t enough, there are some seriously cool bonuses to having a Yearly Membership. They provide you with multiple printable planners, a free membership to World Book Library (e-books), Right Start Media access (streamable movies, such as Drive Through History), and access to the Applecore recordkeeping system.
There are sections on homemaking, homeschool living, monthly menu plans, and discounts for a multitude of vendors–there’s even a section just for craft ideas for the kids!  All of The Old Schoolhouse magazine back issues are online well, so that you can access the information as it becomes relevant to your school.  

Entire pages are dedicated to parenting special needs, preschoolers, high schoolers, and focused learning centers (new ideas for teaching struggling learners).  The Monthly Menu page offers up an entire month of seasonally-appropriate recipes for each month of the year.  While only a few are currently available, there are printable lesson plans for courses (they are currently working to get more up) that help you keep track of lesson completion.  They also offer a handy checklist that shows which courses are appropriate for each grade level.

The site includes both online and downloadable components – courses such as Lapbooking, Figures in History, and Literature are downloadable and printable in nature, whereas Family Fitness, Guitar, and Friendly Chemistry are best completed online.
  • There are over 300 courses taught by outstanding teachers. Courses vary in length from a few weeks to a full year or more, and there is something for every member of the family.
  • One membership covers every class on the site for your entire family, from preschool to high school, and beyond.
  • Classes are not live, so you can start ANY time!
  • Options are available for co-op or group use.
  • Try it FREE for 30 days here when you register for a free Welcome Basket.
  • Join for $12.95 each month.
  • Save over 10% on a one-year membership, just $139.
  • There are no per-class or per-child fees and you can cancel anytime.
I found the site simple and easy to navigate.  Since I was trying out this site in the weeks just before Christmas, I spent some time looking for holiday and winter specific lessons – and there were quite a few!  After a few minutes of searching around, I stumbled upon the Christmas Corner, where someone had already done the searching for me.  Very convenient!  They also have an Easter Corner, Summer Corner, and Fall / Thanksgiving Corner.

One thing that caught my eye was under the Freebies section, where you could print off an entire spelling unit that was Christmas-themed.   Here is a sampling of what I was able to find in less than three minutes, to plan out an entire week that included lessons for all of my students:
  • The Gift of the Magi, by O’Henry (complete story & Lapbooking unit)
  • Christmas Architecture (Architecture)
  • Christmas-themed prompts in Everyday Copywork
  • Rest Ye Merry (Simply Shakespeare)
  • Gifts & Winter – several cross-curricular winter activities
  • Tree of Jesse – Everyday Easels cross-curricular unit for several age groups
  • Winter Snowman Scene – crafty section
  • Joy to the World (Violin)
  • History of the Christmas Tree (Ditch the Desk)
  • Animals of the Nativity (Animal Science)
  • Angels in Art (Studio Art for Teens)


Honestly, there was enough fantastic stuff on the Christmas Corner alone that I could have kept the kids occupied, and learning, for more than the entire month of December!  But since we fell behind this year, we’re only doing Christmas fun for the last week of the semester.  Who doesn’t have to spend all weekend planning now??  ME! 

I also really appreciate the extras that come with membership, like the reading e-books (which helped my struggling reader), Schoolhouse Expo seminars, classes for adults, e-book library access, family movie access (streaming), planners, and member discounts.  Given the time of year, I especially enjoyed the “Twelve Days of Christmas Encouragement” section for homeschooling moms. 

I could see this being a really beneficial site for roadschooling families, because everything is housed online.  You can print out sheets as needed, from wherever you land, but the majority of courses can be completed online.  As long as you have reliable internet access, you could use SchoolhouseTeachers.com from anywhere in the world

Would you like to see how Schoolhouse Teachers works?  Watch a short video here.  You can also check out all of the site content that they have to offer at this link – try it out!  They even post freebies on a regular basis!





Use Code: CHRISTMAS for $9.95/month or CHRISTMASYEAR for $90/year.

50% discount ends: 15 January 2017



See more reviews of Schoolhouse Teachers at The Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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