Our Family

Our Family

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Homeschool Wrap Up: Week 2

We had another great week in our homeschool!  I really have been pleased so far with how smoothly it has gone.  Last week we started with math and this week added in writing, literature, and grammar.  Next week spelling and latin will go into the mix.

We have only been working in the afternoon so far.  This week we have been working on items for our 4 H club's fair booth in the morning.  It did end up being a bit more involved than I had thought, but hopefully it will all turn out ok.

Nick, Alex, and Anthony all moved on to lesson 2 in their Math U See levels.  Christian did not.  We were missing a Beta DvD and he wanted to wait and watch the lesson before he moved on.  I found one used and it arrived so he will be good to go this week.

Nick and Alex completed their first paper in IEW Medieval History writing lessons.  It was on the middle ages.  Nick started lesson 1 of Fix It Grammar and Alex is still working through Junior Analytical Grammar.  The younger children read a great book as part of the Lightning Literature Level One curriculum called Chickens Aren't The Only Ones.  It is a very colorful, non fiction book about all of the animals that lay eggs.  We will be looking for my books by this author as we all really enjoyed it.  In addition to the worksheets in the book, Christian wrote a paper on duck billed platypus (well he dictated it, I wrote it.)  I just found out that I am part of the trial for Lightning Literature 3rd grade, so Anthony will be able to get started on that soon.

Our My Father's World Curriculum came in on Friday, so Lily wanted to get started with it on Saturday.  The first several days on on creation.  We of course started with day 1 and completed some activities to go along along with the first day of creation.  I also got all of her letter cards and flash cards laminated, cut apart, and put into baggies, so we will be able to find them when we need them.

The boys favorite part of the week has been working with their Lego curriculum.  We completed two projects this week, dancing birds and a spinning top.  They built the models and programmed them all by themselves.  It was very cool!  They are going to work through this curriculum very quickly.  If I let them they might finish it all in one day!

This week there is a lot going on!  The fair starts tomorrow and soccer is starting up this week as well. Lily is starting a gymnastics class too (hopefully she will like it.)  Let the fall craziness begin!

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kindergarten Curriculum Choices For the 2014/2015 School Year

Did you notice that I had not blogged about my curriculum choices for Lily this year?  I blogged about my 7th grade, 5th grade, and 2nd and 3rd grade curriculum choices, but did not say a word about Kindergarten.  Do you know why?  Because I had NO idea what I was doing with Lily this year.

I have said for years that you do not need a curriculum for preschool and kindergarten, and still believe that is true.  You can find a ton of free things on the internet, add in some real life learning experiences, art supplies, and some trips to the library and that can be more than enough for kindergarten.  But, some children really want to have school books like their older brothers and sisters and honestly sometimes you just do not have the time and energy to plan and come up with the ideas all on your own and it is so worth it to have someone else do it for you!

For years I have looked at My Father's World, and this summer when I was looking for something to use with Lily, I kept coming back to it, even though I did have some things here I could use for her. As I kept procrastinating about blogging about my choices for her, I realized it was because I just wasn't sure it was going to be the right fit.  I wanted something flexible that had a lot of fun, hands on projects plus some worksheets she would like.  I also wanted something Christian based that Emmie could join in a bit as interested.  But most of all I wanted something that was planned out for me because by the time I do school with the other children, plus take care of the house, plus plan for 4h meetings, and art co-ops, I just don't have the energy to do much more planning and come up with a lot of things on my own.  So I decided to listen to myself and go ahead and order My Father's World.

My husband is wonderful and never questions anything I say I need for school.  I texted him and told him I finally decided what I wanted to use with Lily but I need around $150 and had spent all my homeschool money until next month.  He said ok, go ahead and order it.  I decided I would try and sell some things I had to make the money back, but amazingly that same day I had some orders placed through affiliate links on my blog that covered most of the cost!  God is so good not just to provide for our needs but our wants too!

I ordered the basic package ($129) which included the Teacher's Guide, Student Sheets, Flashcards, and letters.  Then I also purchased the Cuisenare Rods Alphabet Book and the rods because I don't start Math U See until 1st grade, but Lily really wanted a math book of her own.  I placed the order on Tuesday and my package arrived yesterday afternoon.  I am very impressed with what I have seen and can't wait to get started with it this week!

Happy Homeschooling!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get to Know King David by Nancy I. Sanders

Book Description:  A shepherd and a king, David lived an adventurous life. He protected his family’s sheep from lions and bears. He fought a giant with just a sling and stone. He even spent years hiding from men who were trying to kill him. And eventually, David became a great king. But David was also a man of God. Learn more about this hero from the Bible and his exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in ancient Israel and then be a king of God’s people. King David - part of the Get to Know series - will teach you everything you need to know about an imperfect young man whom God used to do great things!

If you read my blog regularly, you know by now how much I love this series of books.  I have been able to review all of the books in this series so far and they are wonderful!  They are packed full of information about different Bible heroes and the time period in which they lived.  This biography features King David.  We start out hearing about David the shepherd, the anointing of David, his music, and of course killing Goliath.  The next several chapters deal with Saul's anger against David, David and Jonathan's friendship, David in hiding waiting for God's plan.  Then it moves into David being crowned King and some of the battles and problems that his kingdom faced including David sending Uriah to be killed in battle so he could marry his wife.  The last two chapters of the book talk about the plans for the temple and David's throne ruling forever through the Messiah.

In this biography, children get to not just read about the life of King David, but to experience it as well through color photographs, art work, and maps.  Plus the book is full of definitions, historical information, Did You Know facts, and information about other Bible Heroes during David's time. This is a great, full color biography for your children to read and enjoy.

 Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions were my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Homeschool Wrap Up:Week One

This week was our first week of the 20142015 school year.  We are easing back into our school year one subject at a time.  This week we started working in our new Math U See math books.  Nick is doing Pre-Algebra, Alex is in Delta, Anthony is using Gamma, and Christian is using Beta.  I do not start Math U See until 1st grade, so Lily did not get a math book.  She will use some worksheets I print off the computer and maybe a simple workbook or two.  We still use our Learning Wrap Ups and Palettes which are great for review and mastery of math facts.

The first day of the week, they watch the Math U See video and complete a worksheet.  Then they do a new worksheet each of the next three days.  If they show they understand the concept by Thursday, we move on to a new lesson the next week.  If they do not, we continue on with the same lesson until they do show mastery.

Lily, Christian, Anthony, and Emelia had some fun building with the manipulative blocks.

The children have been very anxious to get started on the Lego WeDo curriculum that I bought.  My disc drive is broken in my laptop, so first I had to order a new DVD drive so I could load the software.  It arrived last week so we were able to get started on Tuesday.  We are working on learning how to build the models and program the software.  There are several different practice type exercises we are working through.  They have really enjoyed it.  It is very cool!  It is also very easy to understand and the boys have been amazed they could "tell" the program what to do and it works!  They can't wait until we get through the practice exercises and get to work on the first real program.

Chelsea started classes at the local community college.  She is taking College Algebra, Biology, Composition I, Western Civilization to 1700, and a required course called Success Strategies.  She has classes Mon-Thurs with Fridays off, the same schedule she has had her whole homeschool career.  Her classes are small and she knew several people that were in class with her. She got off to a rather uneventful start with the exception that one of her teachers was not able to attend classes this week, but will hopefully be back soon.

This next week we will be adding grammar, literature, and writing to our school day.

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Day of School Pictures

A few days late posting, but better late then never!  I always try to take pictures on our first and last day of school.  Tuesday was our first day of school. It was after lunch before I took the pictures though, so they are probably not as good as they would've been first thing in the morning before they had been out to play and eaten lunch. Except for Chelsea of course.  She had an early class so I grabbed her picture as she headed out the door.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Happy Kids Songs

Happy Kids Songs Review
You may be familiar with Dr. Mac for his songwriting on the hit PBS series Jay Jay the Jet Plane.  He has teamed up with Brian Man and several singers and musicians to put together Happy Kids Songs, a fun way to boost children's character, and social and emotional skills. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received the following items to use and review:

Friends and Sharing (set 1)
Happiness and Attitude (set 5)
Manners and Character (set 6)


Happy Kids Song Workbook: Hands on Activities to Build Character, Social and Emotional Skills

Happy Kids Songs were written with children 3-8 in mind, but it can be enjoyed by children a little younger and older as well.  The songs are not just made to entertain but to help children learn important tools for living.  There are 8 different albums available with 5 songs on each album. Albums can be purchased in either mp3 or iTunes (mp4) format.  The albums cost $4.95 each or you can purchase individual songs for .99 each. Each of the albums also have bonus activity pages to go along with the songs, or you can purchase the printed out copy of the Happy Kids Songs Workbook for $12.56 with all of the activities for all of the songs.  

Happy Kids Songs Albums Include:

Manners and Character-H-O-N-E-S-T-Y, The Magic Word, Quirks, The Golden Rule, Six Little Kids

Happiness and Attitude-Shake It Out and Dance, Who Knows What's a Kudo?, I Don't Understand, Be Good to Yourself, Better Together

Friends and Sharing-Sailing on the Seven C's, Everybody Wants to Find a Friend, Sharing Friends, Happy as Happy Can Be, Together

Skills and Bullying-Bye, Bye Bully, Follow and Lead, Same and Different Too, Let Me Play Too, The Gift of Giving

Feelings and Fears-Big Kids Know How to Cry, That's What a Dad Would Do, Go Away Bad Thoughts, Let Em' Out, Tell Someone

Practice and Success-Reach Out, The Carousel Song, What You Can Do, Practice, It's About a Sunrise

Respect and Responsibility-We're the Chorus, Give it Back, Diplodocus, Clean up Time, Soldier of Peace

Talking and Listening-Talk it Out, Say Whatcha Gotta Say, At the Same Time, Talkin about Talkin, Don't Say Maybe
You can listen to some samples on this page.

I listened to Happy Kids Songs with my 3 and 5 year old daughters.  Each album downloads as a zip file and then you extract the files so you can play the songs.  Due to our slow internet connection it did take awhile for the albums to download, but once I got them downloaded we were good to go. The songs are upbeat and have very catchy rhythms and lyrics (beware you may find yourself singing them at the strangest times.)  They all have a great message to them.  You certainly do not have to worry about any inappropriate content sneaking its way in to these songs. Children will be able to relate easily to many of the situations presented in the songs.  There is a great variety of both adults and children singing and a wide range of instruments and music styles used which is sure to appeal to and keep the attention of many children.  Some of my girls favorites were Shake it Out, Sailing on the Seven C's, and the Magic Word.

The workbook contains the lyrics to all of the songs and also a variety of activities to go along with each song.  Activities range from drawing, to coloring, to mazes, word searches, dot to dots, and more.  These pages make a great companion to the songs.  

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Wizzy Gizmo

Wizzy Gizmo Review
Our latest review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew was Book One: Who Created Everything from Wizzy Gizmo.  I know you are trying to figure out who or what Wizzy Gizmo is.  Wizzy Gizmo is a series of bible products to help parents and Sunday School teaches equip children by exploring God's word.  The products in this series include Bible books for kids, audio dramas, flash cards, and more. 
Wizzy Gizmo Review
Book One: Who Created Everything is a 57  page paperback book that was written for children ages 4-12.  In the book we meet a young boy named Eli who has just moved to Sunnyville and was hoping for someone to play with when he met a girl named Olive.  Soon Olive's friends Summer and Thomas come by with exciting news that Wizzy has finished his new invention.  The children race off to the Gizmo Shack where they see exciting and amazing things including Gizmovision, the newest invention that transforms any book into a life-like world inside a virtual bubble allowing you to touch, feel, taste, and smell it.  The children, Wizzy, Qwacky (the robot duck), and Pepe (the talking dog) test out the invention by going back to the very beginning of time the book of Genesis in the Bible.  The have an opportunity not just to see the creation of the world, but to experience it as well.

The book is split up into different chapters including:
Day One of Creation
Day Two of Creation
Day Three of Creation
Day Four of Creation
Day Five of Creation
Day Six of Creation

There is a section of Review Questions in the back of the book, as well as a vocabulary section defining the more challenging words in the book.  As the child is reading through the book, words that can be found in the back of the book are in bold so the child can quickly flip to the back of the book to check the meaning of the word.

You can purchase Book One: Who Created Everything for $12.99.  It is also available as an audio drama for $14.99. The second book in the series In His Image is also currently available for purchase as a paperback book.  

I read Book One: Who Created Everything aloud to my 3,5,7 and 9 year olds.  We used it as our nightly bedtime story completing one chapter per day.  This book was  a hit with both the children and their mom!  Even my youngest asked to read it again when we finished it the first time.  We loved the story.  My children are very familiar with the first chapter of Genesis and the Creation of the world, but this book took that story and presented it to them in a different light, making it like they weren't just reading about it but actually experiencing it.  They loved the characters especially Qwacky the duck and the funny things he says.  The full color illustrations are wonderful.  I really like that the book doesn't used "dumbed down" vocabulary but instead using some great and challenging vocabulary as well as giving them the definition right therein the book and some of them during the course of the story as well.  The review questions at the back of the book help your children to remember everything that they learned in the course of the book.  But the most important thing for me is that the book stays true to God's word. 

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below. 

Click to read Crew Reviews

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Easing Back Into the New Homeschool Year

Summer is almost over.  Can you believe it?  Our local public schools start back tomorrow as well as the local Community College that Chelsea will be attending.  We have done some school all summer long, mostly reviews and a little reading and math.  The last two weeks we have taken off completely and not had any school work at all to do.  This week we will be working on easing back into our regular homeschool year.

A few years ago after a lot of frustration both on the children's part and mine I decided to go with a different approach then going from little to no school over the summer to a full schedule on the first day.  Instead I decided we were going to ease back into our school year and it worked so well we have continued with that method ever since.

What we do is start back to school with one subject at a time adding a new subject every week until we are back up to a full schedule.  We start with our afternoon school work so the children have plenty of time to get outside in the morning when it is cooler out.  We will start with math, then the next week add in writing, literature, and grammar, and the next week spelling and/or Latin. The 4th week we will add in our Bible lesson in the morning followed by history (2 days per week) and science (2 days per week.)  It takes a month to work up to a full schedule, but by then we are ready to back at it full time.

This year we have decided to have a "Not Back to School" celebration on Monday and will start in on Math on Tuesday.  I had read somewhere about the "Not Back to School" celebration and thought it was a wonderful idea.  It is a celebration for homeschoolers on the first day the public schools in their area head back to school.  We will be having a pizza party and some outdoor games.  other people choose to take their children out to breakfast or to museums or other public places that have been crowded all summer but are now empty since school is open again.

I am excited about our upcoming school year!  I am very happy with our curriculum choices and possible reviews we have coming up.  I have started making plans for our once a month Grandview science days that this year will also be combined with a once a month art co-op that I will be teaching.  There are several great field trip opportunities that are happening this fall.

I hope you have a great start to your school year!

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Curriculum Favorites: All About Spelling

*This post contains affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

There are a lot of good spelling curriculum for homeschoolers.  I have had an opportunity to review several great ones and have bought and used several good ones over the years as well.  But, All About Spelling still stands out as being my favorite and in this post I am going to explain why.

One of the biggest reasons I love All About Spelling is because it works.  It has taught my struggling readers how to spell as well as read.  Why does it work?  I think for us it works so well because of it's multi-sensory approach.  Rather than have children try and memorize and write random word lists, All About Spelling teaches rules that make sense.  Students have an opportunity to see, hear, say, build (and this was a key step for us) and write the words.  Using this approach suits a wide variety of learners.

I like that it is not grade level based.  There are 7 levels of AAS and everyone should start out at level one.  Older students will go through it more quickly, but by starting at level one you can ensure that your students know and remember all of the rules.  How quickly you move through the levels will depend on your student.

It is scripted for the teacher.  You do not have to spend a lot of prep time for each lesson.  You will have to spend some time when you first get the curriculum setting up your card box and your letter tiles, but once that is done it is a matter of making sure you have any you need ready to add to your board and you are ready to go.  Even though it is scripted, it is still flexible.  If your child shows comprehension of that lesson very quickly, you can move on to the next lesson.  If they do not there are extra words and dictation sentences that you can use to keep working on the same spelling rule.

It is cost effective for even large families.  This is one of the biggest selling points to me.  When I first looked at AAS, I thought it was expensive compared to other spelling curriculum.  But, when you add up the price of buying a new workbook for each student every year, All About Spelling actually works out to be much cheaper.  Your student does not write in the book, instead they do their work on a white board, so it can be used for multiple students.  Even if you only have one child, AAS resells very well and you could sell your used levels lowering your cost.

Are there any negatives?  Some people feel that it is too teacher intensive, especially if you have several children working in different levels.  It takes me around 20 minutes or so a day for the spelling part, longer if we are reading from one of the All About Reading Readers to go along with our lesson.  If you have children with similar abilities you can group them together.  My oldest is in 7th grade and does not do spelling.  My next oldest is working through Level 4.  My next two are in 2nd and 3rd grade and are very similar ability wise so they will be working through Level 2.  My K will not start Level One until next year.

I have used curriculum that is much more teacher intensive and some that is less.  I make sure to carve out the time I need for AAS 4 times a week because I know it works.  After trying many different spelling curricula, All About Spelling is the one that finally made things click for my son who is mildly dyslexic.  He has made HUGE improvements in his spelling and reading, some of which may have been age related, but mostly was due to using products from All About Learning Press. 

Pssst I know this is a Spelling post, but we love All About Reading too!

Lily doing a Pre-1 paper

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

4 H Jam and Jelly Workshop

The first time we went to a 4 H Jam and Jelly Workshop was in 2009.  I remember this because Lily was only a few months old and I carried her around while I was helping to lead a group of 4hers making freezer jam.  I guess I never wrote a blog post though on it, because I checked and couldn't find one.  I was going to compare pictures of the children from then and now.  But anyway, back to today.

By now yes we could go ahead and make jam and jelly on our own, but it is more fun in a group, and much easier for me.  My only job for today was to be the photographer.  Also, they keep the jam and jelly and enter it in the fair so that is one less thing I have to lug up there and enter.   We did not make any freezer jam so we will be making a batch of that later in the week.  We did make peach jam and blackberry jelly.  My children do not like blackberry jam because of all the seeds, but I think they will like blackberry jelly better.  There was supposed to be a $5 charge per child for the workshop today, but the peaches and blackberries ended up being donated and the Women's Farm Bureau offered to sponsor the workshop and pick up the cost of the rest of the supplies so it ended up being free!

I had 4 children participating today: Lily, Christian, Alex, and Nick.  Emelia is too young, Anthony doesnt "do jelly", and Chelsea was still asleep when we had to leave this morning.  It took a little over two hours to make the jam and jelly plus clean up.  We got to bring home one jar of peach jam today and the others we will get after the fair.  Each child got to enter a jar of each in the fair.

I had brought some things for Emmie and Anthony to do: the iPad, a DS, coloring book, crayons, magazine, puzzles, and some small toys.  I didn't really expect Emmie to use any of them.  She is always attached at my hip or under my feet wherever we are, even at home.  I was very surprised when she stayed in the other room for well over an hour and played with what I brought.  So I took one picture from pretty far away so she wouldn't see me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Get to Know Mary by Nancy I. Sanders

"Chosen by God, Mary was more than the mother of Jesus. She was a hero of the Bible. She said “Yes!” to God. Learn about Mary and her exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in Israel and be a part of Jesus’ life on earth. Mary - part of the Get to Know series - will teach you everything you need to know about this young woman whom God used to do great things!"

This is the third book I have reviewed in this series, and I have loved each one of them!  These books are great, full color biographies and so much more!  Through artwork, color photographs, maps we learn about what life was like in Nazareth during Mary's time.  We learn about how people shopped, what types of homes they lived in, how they took care of the sick, how they bathed, got engaged, their faith, holy days, and much more. It also talks about Mary, how the angel came to her, her visit with Elizabeth, marriage to Joseph, birth of Jesus, and the other occasions Mary is mentioned in the Bible to her being near the cross and Jesus choosing John to take care of his mother.  The book ends with Jesus' resurrection, ascension,  and the day of Pentecost.  In addition to all of the details in the text and the color photos, maps, and timelines, children will learn so much through the definitions, eyewitness accounts, Bible heroes, and Did You Know sections.

I think this is a great series and look forward to adding others to our book shelf!

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Favorite Recipes: Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free)

My picture may not be as pretty as some, but I made these for a snack last night and they were delicious!

1 cup peanut butter
6 TBSP brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips

You can do the mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then combine method, but I am usually in a hurry when I am baking and never do that.  Instead I use my favorite kitchen appliance, the Kitchenaid mixer.  I started out with the peanut butter and then added in the brown sugar and the egg.  Next I added in the soda, cinnamon, and oats, saving the chocolate chips for last.  While I was preheating the oven to 350, I put the dough in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.  Then I made small balls of dough and placed them on my Pampered Chef cooking stone (my second favorite item in my kitchen), flattened them slightly with a spoon, and baked the cookies for 10 minutes.  I wish I had remembered to count the cookies, but I did not.  I baked a double batch for my crew and after everyone had 2 last night there were still some leftover for today.  These new cookies were children and daddy approved!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2nd and 3rd Grade Curriculum Choices for the 2014/2015 School Year

As we are getting closer to our start of the new year, I have been sharing my curriculum choices for each of the different age groups in my homeschool.  We do work together in as many subjects as we can, so history, science, and Bible will be the same for all of the age groups.  To keep things simple Anthony(3rd grade) and Christian (2nd grade) also work on the same level of Spelling.  Everyone does their own level of Math.

My choices for this year are:

Literature and Composition-Lightning Literature -Christian (2nd grade) will finish up the first grade level and I am hoping to part of the field test for the 3rd grade level this year for Anthony.  If not he will do the second grade level.

As an extra fun supplement we also will be using the Lego WeDo curriculum.  They are VERY excited about that!

Plus whatever review items come our way!

You can see what my 5th grader is using here and my 7th grader here.

Happy Homeschooling!

*link to All About Spelling is my affiliate link.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: Whit's End Mealtime Devotions, The Second Helping

From Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishers, this 112 page paperback book is packed full of fun and interesting discussions for you and your family to have around the supper table. This book contains 90 different devotionals all with a 5 course menu.

  • mealtime prayer-a fresh way to bless your food
  • appetizer-a fun question or activity
  • main course-an object lesson
  • table talk-questions to spark conversations
  • vitamins and minerals-a way to thank God for your time together

You can view the first chapter here.

I think the Whit's End Mealtime Devotions are a great way to get fun and meaningful conversations going around your table.  The titles of the devotions are cute.  Things like: Mud Pie, Freshly Squeezed, Frogs for Dinner, and "Lettuce Pray" are great titles that make you want to read what's in the devotion.  Even though the devotions follow a similar format, there is quite a bit of variety among them.  Some of them for example have scripted mealtime prayers while others have suggestions for what to pray.  Some of the appetizers have questions, others have activities, some even have jokes.  The main courses give a short Bible lesson and questions that apply to the lesson. Table talk questions will get children talking about a variety of subjects, and the vitamins and minerals give a Scripture verse relating to the lesson.  Even if you have never done any kind of prayer or devotion at your table you will be able to get started with these.  Even if it is not possible to sit down at the table altogether, you could use these at snack time, or even in the car.  Even if your family is resistant to answering some of the table talk questions, they will get something important out of these short mealtime devotions.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations. 

Review: If You Were Me and Lived in Australia by Carole P. Roman

Last year as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we had an opportunity to review 4 books by Carole P. Roman in the If You Were Me and Lived In....series:

South Korea

I was recently sent one of the newest books in the series, If You We Me and Lived in Australia ($8.99) to review.

This series of book were written for children ages 3-8 years old and teaches them about people and cultures from different parts of the world.  Each book follows the same basic format.  The first page shows a picture of the country and the capital on the first page.  The next page shows where on the globe it is located, with the following page discussing the capital city.  Then the book discusses common names, what you call your parents, what the currency is called, and a native place people like to visit.  Also we learn about what typical foods are eaten, the most popular sport, a special national holiday, and about the school.

The books are beautifully illustrated with two children going through the book and experiencing the things on each page.  At the end of each book there is an illustration of children holding hands around the globe and the words, "So you see, if you were me, how life in ___ could really be. There is also a pronunciation guide in the back of the book.

I think this series is a great way to teach young children about  different cultures around the world.  The illustrations are sweet and the topics are things that children can easily relate to.  The pages are a good length, not too short or too long for the targeted age group.  Because the books follow a similar format, children can easily go through the series and see how cultures are different but that they all also have things that are the same.  We enjoyed reading and learning about Australia in this book.

It does mention on the last page that people native to Australia have lived there for over 40,000 years which may be something you want to know ahead of time, especially if you believe that God created the earth a little over 6,000 years ago.  I think the author could have easily left a number out and just said the culture was isolated for many years before the Europeans arrived in the 1700's.  It is not a huge issue and can be easily edited, but worth mentioning.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Roman Roads Media

Roman Roads Media Review
Roman Roads Media publishes Classical video curriculum for homeschoolers from a Christian perspective helping, to instill a lifelong love of learning in your children.  When they appeared on our vendor list, I took some time to investigate the products they were offering.  Several of the items on the list were products we have already used and LOVED.  But, there was one product we did not have that stood out to me. I was very excited to have an opportunity to review Old Western Culture: The Greeks.
Roman Roads Media Review
Old Western Culture: The Greeks is a "Christian approach to the Great Books."  It is for grades 8 and up and is divided into 4 units:
Greeks: The Epics
Greeks: Drama and Lyric
Greeks: The Histories
Greeks: The Philosophers

Each unit takes 9 weeks to complete which will allow students to complete the entire course in 36 weeks.  The course is made up of video instruction, reading assignments in the great books, workbook exercises, and an ending exam and term paper for each unit.  Throughout the course, students will explore history, theology, philosophy, poetry, and art from the greatest works of literature in the Western world.  By the completion of all 4 units, your students will have earned a full credit in both literature and history.

There are 12 video lessons in each unit taught by Wes Callihan.  Each of the video lectures are approximately 30 minutes long.  Each of the lessons starts with a brief review before diving into the material being presented in the new lecture.  After viewing the video lesson, there are lecture questions for the student to answer.  These are available in printed format or as PDF downloads depending on what you choose to purchase.  Assigned readings are given at the end of each lecture and are also shown on the suggested schedule and in the workbook assignments.  Links to digital versions of assigned readings are included with your purchase. Term papers are assigned for each unit and due at the end of the unit.

The first unit, The Epics covers the two great poems of Homer, The Iliad and the Odyssey.  Students will have an opportunity to view over a hundred exhibits throughout the course of the video containing historic artifacts and classical art work.  They will learn about the back drop of the plays and also be guided through plot, poetic devices, philosophy, and history of the plays as well as read them themselves. 

Drama and Lyrics covers a selection of Greek plays and poetry including works from Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, and more.  In this section students will learn about the earliest comedies and tragedies of the Western world as well as the early theater and performances.  Also, Greek lyric poetry of this era will be introduced as well. 

The Histories covers three of histories most influential historians.  Students will read and learn about Herodotus, "The Father of History", and read his book The Histories.  Students will also study and read Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and Xenophon's Anabasis.

The Philosophers covers readings from Plato and Aristotle.  In this unit Callihan discusses how the church and society have been influenced by these early philosophers.  Texts covered in this unit include: Plato's Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, and Republic and Aristotle's Metaphysics, Ethics, and Poetics.  

You can purchase the complete set of The Greeks (all 4 units) in two different formats: DVD ($224) or Digital Streaming ($199.)  Both formats include the videos, Guide to the Art, Student Workbooks Answer Keys and Exams in PDF format.  You can choose to purchase printed student workbooks for each unit for $12 each.  If you wish to purchase one of the DVD sets, you can buy them for $56 each.

Sample Lessons

Old Western Culture: The Greeks is Year One of what will be a 4 year course. The Romans will be finished by December of 2014, followed by the Christendom in 2015, and Early Moderns in 2016. 

I love history and literature and am happy to say that my children have followed in my footsteps in that area.  My oldest daughter especially.  Chelsea just graduated from our homeschool in May, but since I knew this would be something that she would enjoy, I asked her to help me out with this review.  She has been working through the first unit The Epics following along with the suggested schedule taking some time off when she was out of town.  In the meantime, I have been working through getting an overview of the entire course by sampling the first few lectures of each unit and completing the assigned readings and questions for each of the lectures that I have viewed.
One of the things that I worried about when I first started homeschooling was the more difficult subjects or those which I didn't feel that I was qualified to teach.  What I have learned along the way is that you do not have to have knowledge in all of the subjects that you want to teach or your students want to learn, instead you can bring in "experts" in those fields to teach those subjects for you.  That is what Roman Roads Media is doing with their video courses for homeschoolers. Bringing the professor into your home to teach your children (and the parent too in some cases.) Old Western Culture: The Greeks is a course that is very easy on the parent.  The course can be completed independently by your high school students.  The PDF files are not only included on the DVD, they are also available on the website making it easy to download to an iPad or other tablet. They also include links on the website to digital files of the source texts used and even links for you to purchase the physical books if you wish.  I thought the materials page was fantastic and made using this course that much easier.  Plus they include a suggested schedule for completing the course in 9 weeks.
The lectures themselves are wonderful.  Mr. Callihan has a wonderful story telling way about him and his lectures are educational, interesting, and humorous.  Throughout the lectures we have an opportunity to see beautiful works of art, timelines, maps, and even many of the places he is speaking about.  I love too how he talks about the different meanings of words and what they meant then and how they relate to us and what they mean now.  
One of my favorite parts to the course is the included Guide to the Art booklets for each unit.  On these you will find the video lesson number that work of art is discussed in, the art work in color, and a great description to the work of art.  I mentioned above that this course earns a student a full credit in literature and history, and with all of the art shown and studied, I would even award a 1/2 credit to my students in art history.

My favorite part of the course is that it is all based on a Christian perspective.  It does of course discuss many topics that are not Christian is nature (gods and goddesses for example) but it is all taught through the Christian worldview lens.  Mr. Callihan talks about why we as Christians should study and read things like philosophies that were written by pagans and he makes points that are absolutely true and will help young students put it all into perspective.

The course is recommended for ages 14 and up.  It does discuss some mature topics and shows classic artwork some containing nudity.  Parents will want to decide based on the maturity level of their children if this course will be appropriate or not.  Also, there is a significant amount of challenging reading which may be a factor for deciding whether or not this course would be right for your child, especially if they are in the younger half of the age range.  

Members of The Crew had an opportunity to review several different products from Roman Roads Media. To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
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