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Thursday, April 30, 2009

review of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's WeE-book/E-book product line

I so enjoy reading but am always pressed for time and am sorely lacking in book shelf space already. The Old Schoolhouse magazine's WeE-books and E-books to the rescue! They are inexpensive, quick reads but in digital E-book form. You can download and store them on your computer for reading while waiting for appointments or on long car rides. Or even print them if you wish.

E-books also have the advantage of linking directly to the internet. Your E-book or WeE-book will open on screen, usually with colored links, that will lead the reader directly to websites containing even more information. It's like getting twice the information for half the price.

As part of the trial process to becoming a member of The Old Schoolhouse magazine's second "TOS CREW", I was given 3 free WeE-books and 1 free E-book from the company's online store to use and review.

The first WeE book is called Transcripts, CLEPS, and Other Ways to Get into College by Claire Novak. Only 21 pages in length but packed with useful information on subjects such as Do you really need a college education?, Sitting out the SAT, and Advice from Current College Students. First off this book tackles the idea of not attending college in order to obtain a career, but lists the alternatives such as apprenticeship, internships, the military, and certification.
I found the section about gaining credits via taking the CLEP test very helpful. A quick overview of transcripts and what they involve is also brought up. This is followed by helpful advice from current college students (who once homeschooled) and links to resources on the Internet. Definitely a practical, easy read for those with children entering the middle school or high school years. As an adult, I found the idea of the CLEP test interesting enough to check into using that option myself someday.

WeE Book number 2 is called Career Exploration for High School Students by Carol Topp, CPA. 14 pages in length and also equally easy to read and follow, this little gem teaches students how to go through the 4-step career exploration process. Students will investigate their personalities, abilities, and priorities. Next they will match possible careers to their personalities. Then research potential careers to see if there is a fit. Lastly the student will prepare a plan to pursue the chosen career. While this book is written toward the teacher/parent, I don't see why a high school student couldn't read it himself and do additional research by looking at the website links in the end. Overall, another useful and practical download.

The third WeE book is also by Carol Topp, CPA, and is entitled The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Being a Work-at-Home Mom. This is my personal favorite because I manage two craft shops on Etsy.com. I often have a hard time balancing my homeschooling and keeping my shops running, so I was thrilled when this is one of the topics she goes into.

Along with how to balance your many priorities as a homeschool mom and a WAHM, she also gives clear guidance on how to find more time to devote to a business, how to decide what type of business to begin, how to set up a business plan, and how to set boundaries so you can actually accomplish something while being home! Ms. Topp discusses the difference between working at home and owning a home-based business. She lists some wonderful opportunities in the direct selling world such as Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and Usborne Books at Home. This books finishes with a much-needed section on avoiding those ever-present work at home scams, and like the other WeE books before it, feature Internet links and general homeschooling information.

The full-sized download of the 95-page E-book called Homework: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance was another anticipated read. This is much like the WeE book I just reviewed but much more in-depth. And the perspective is interesting: you learn from reading examples of how other families work from home while homeschooing. 16 families share with your their tips and frustrations. I enjoyed peeking into what a typical day in each homeschooling/home-business was like. You'll come away from this E-book armed with much more than just stories and inspirations; you'll come away with ideas to cultivate your skills and real businesses opportunities that you might be able to start.

For example, the first contributor and I share a common bond-we both own Etsy stores. But I have never seen one quite like hers. She recycles old jeans into purses. Her unusual business, prompted by the urging to recycle, go green, and upscale cast-off products into usuable items (called "trashion") made me think about what items I might be able to offer to help our planet.

I also shared a bond with another mom, one who sells Usborne books. Although I no longer sell them, I love their quality and am glad to see her making her business work so well for her family.

You'll meet other equally hard-working, creative moms in this book...a mom who is a leisure travel consultant...an industrious family who manage a bed and breakfast from a family fruit orchard...for the animals lovers there is the story of a pet-sitter...using the computer and writing skills to make money are also covered.

I found that faith in God is woven throughout each story in this book, and the parents often speak of personal experiences which led them to choose homeschooling.

Overall, it is an encouraging, heart-warming look into the lives of real people, just like you and I, who are living their dreams and making it happen, all while having the best of their time with their children. Let this E book inspire you to push ahead and meet your dream face-to-face with your family by your side.

Cost for an E book varies but they tend to be less expensive than printed books. TOS WeE books are generally only $1.95 and with free shipping, too! So go ahead and splurge! With a wide variety of great topics, I know I will. :)


review of Tapestry of Grace: Colonial America unit study by Lampstand Press

Wow...where to begin? In the words of the company website, Tapestry of Grace (TOG) is an "award-winning multi-level, integrated, 4-year, classics-based Christian curriculum for the whole family. " Whew! What a unit study program this is, quite unlike any we've ever tried. I believe it is one of the most thorough, detailed studies we've used to date. We received a digital download version of year 2, unit 3, Colonial America, or as it's called in the study, "Of Crowns and Colonies".

It covers:
Early New World Colonies and Eastern Europe
Puritans in New England
Charters, Creeds, and the English Civil War
Restoration Colonies and the Age of Louis XIV
Dissenters in America and the Age of Reason
Colonists and Native Americans
Empires at Odds
Thirteen Established Colonies

It is a massive 500+ page study geared toward lasting 8 weeks.

(If you're not familiar with unit studies, I highly suggest that you learn about the basics of the unit study method before tackling such an in-depth curriculum. I love them-- highly recommend them--and see them as a significant blessing in our school day, but they are not for everyone. Perhaps someday I'll get on here to blog about them. For today, I must assume you have knowledge of this method of schooling and move on).

As with other unit study programs, all your children can be taught a few subjects together each day. In this case, all students, grades k-12, will be on the same subject matter in history, church history, literature, geography, fine arts, government, philosophy, and writing & composition, each on their own learning level. You will need to add in a phonics program, science, math, grammar, spelling, and foreign language, if needed. Teaching multiple ages together (as much as it is feasible) can be a huge time and sanity saver for mom.

As with other unit studies, you can repeat the lessons later on. This is called "cycling though" and is very popular among unit study users. You simply use the lessons now, doing what your children are able, and then repeat the entire course/volume in few years when your children are on a higher grade level. Don't fret about children being bored during a repeated course; public schooling is all about repetition. Children learn well through repetition. Besides, when they repeat the course there will be new literature assignments and new, harder projects to tackle.
Cycling through a unit study is also a frugal use of homeschooling dollars. You buy the study and use it over and over again.
Here is an excerpt from a Tapestry of Grace (TOG) flyer explaining how cycling works:

"Tapestry of Grace is a homeschool curriculum: a plan of study that helps

parents provide a Christian, classical education using a guided unit study approach,

with the history of the world as the core organizational theme. From Grades K–12,

all students cycle through world history every four years, with all ages studying the

same slice of history each week, each at their own learning level. Detailed lesson

plans and discussion outlines enable parents to be their children’s primary

teachers and mentors and shape their students’ biblical worldviews."

The teacher's portion/guide is very detailed. I found that I needed to read it, then put it aside for a bit, only to reread it multiple times later on to really grasp all that it covered. This unit study will not let the parent down as far as guiding you and giving you information. Keep in mind that, TOG, is mostly a teacher's guide with loads of detailed notes. You will need additional books/items to use TOG. It is not an "open and go" curriculum; it will take a few days of planning.

Visiting the TOG website for resources is a MUST. I found their website to be a wonderful help in organizing our study. You'll certainly want to visit the entire website, especially an area called The Loom. I would suggest you do not plunge head-long into TOG without reading on your own first, or you may find yourself confused. The writers have worked very hard to keep this study easy for parents but if you do not use the website resources, you may end up in unnecessary frustration.

Again, as taken from the website:

  • "The Loom is a crucial Internet & CD resource that serves as a framework for its year-plan. On the Loom, you’ll find...

  • Summer reading list: assignments for students to complete before starting the first unit of each year-plan

  • An important Year-Plan Introduction, with in-depth information about our philosophy of education and many useful tips for getting started with your new curriculum

  • Digital copies of all the Student Activity Pages (which are also in your year-plan), so that you can print out work pages, instructions, or student questions as many times as they are needed week to week or year to year

  • Digital copies of all Supplements: print and use as needed, or access digitally

  • Digital resources to provide important helps for teaching rhetoric-level Literature

  • Extra hands-on activity helps for some projects

  • Writing Level Overview: a helpful tool for placing your students in the proper writing level at the start of the year

  • Detailed information for figuring out how to give high school credits for Tapestry work, or write a transcript

  • The Book Updates Index, which offers information on replacement books in case the ones listed in your curriculum become unavailable, as well as updated reading assignment charts. "

Again I advise: DO NOT SKIP OVER THE LOOM. It is your best friend when using TOG. :)

TOG will largely appeal to many learning styles. From your wiggly child who needs hands-on projects to your auditory learner who enjoys read-aloud and discussion, TOG covers it. That's yet another appeal of unit studies for many families.

What does it cost?

Individual digital units from any year of the plan run about $45.

An entire digital year will cost $170. Keep in mind that this will be used by all family members from k-12 and can be used again and again, making it fairly expensive in the beginning, but very cost-effective over time.

The best buy seems to be the bundle. For $250, you get one full Year-Plan including the Loom and all four units plus Map Aids plus the Option: your choice of Writing Aids, a full year of Pop Quizzes, a full year of lapbook kits, or every level of Evaluations and
the Bonus: your choice of a Unit 1 Pop Quiz, Unit 1 Lapbook Kit, or Unit 1 of Evaluations.

*Please note that the digital edition is not for resale. This is an important factor for me to consider before purchasing any curriculum, in case it is not a good fit for my family.

How did it work for our homeschool: This is tough one. As I mentioned before, we use unit studies. In fact, for over 9 years or so, unit studies have been our core. I have used mini units by Amanda Bennett and Jennifer Steward, FIAR, A World of Adventure, tried a KONOS sample, made my own units, will have a high-schooler using Blessed is the Man this upcoming fall, you name it. So I really thought I could just dive in and begin this study. But there was so much information I often felt overwhelmed. I am still not 100% sure I have grasped all that this study has to offer. I am not too familiar with the classical method of study either, and TOG is very classical in nature. It does take a few days, maybe even weeks, to look it over and gather your supplies.

I really didn't like reading the digital edition, yet to print all the pages would've cost me a fortune in ink. So early on, I read what I could on screen and printed only what I really needed. Due to my home business, homeschool group events, blogging, and emails, I am already on the computer too much. I really think I would have preferred TOG in print form. Even taking the time to sit at the computer and pick through the information to decide what I need to print overwhelmed me.

When you open a unit, you'll see a nicely laid out PDF screen with direct access to teacher's information, scheduling, and even the student activity pages. I did like the list of projects and additional reading for each grade. It was easy to glance at the grid and see what I wanted to try to do for the study. Those pages have nice little check boxes included, so you can check off what you have accomplished. I like checklists to keep me on track.
**One note to mention was after I picked out the books I wanted to use to supplement our study, my local library didn't have too many of them. We settled for reading the books and completing the worksheets on The Courage of Sarah Noble and one of my old favorites, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Although for general learning I am sure you could substitute other books on the same subject matter, to complete the student sheets you'll need the books listed.

The projects are well-rounded and balanced with the other aspects of the study. Unit studies are notorious for being heavy-laden with almost nothing but hands-on projects. With Tapestry there is a balance. The activities are fairly easy to carry out, for example, making a travel brochure or drawing a picture of Pocahontas. Its nice to give the children a break from reading to complete a project.

Overall, I like the idea of TOG. I think it would be very cost-effective given time. I feel it is adequate and thorough. However, I would like to see a print version and be able to compare the two.

Check out what other TOS Crew members are saying at http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/HomeschoolCrew


review of Critical Thinking/Bright Minds Beginning Mathematical Reasoning

My 4-year old daughter is really enjoying this thick, colorful beginning math book from the Bright Minds/Critical Thinking company. It's a softcover workbook, with 235 pages of lessons in all areas of math reasoning, from counting to comparing and estimating.

So far we have enjoyed each preschool book we received from Critical Thinking. They are always colorful and with only a few problems per page, they don't make my children feel overwhelmed.

This book is meant to be used and written in, but I like to place a page protector over the pages needing written work so my daughter can use them again if she wants. Add a wipe-off marker and you're set to go.

Working 2-3 pages each day only takes a few minutes of the child's time and there is no parental prep work. Just open the book and go. Easy to understand and explain, easy to use.

Critical Thinking has a wide range of curriculum for all ages and subjects. Whether you're ready to teach a 1st grader to read, prepare a 5th grader to take an achievement test, or to help a high schooler learn about wars in our past, this company has a lot to offer on a lot of levels. By using books or software, from the youngest to the oldest, teach your child how to really THINK using products from Critical Thinking.
There are free items to try so give them a visit at:


Monday, April 27, 2009

learning patience through daily trials

Well, if my kids were in public school, I highly doubt what we're doing today would really count as much in the way of academics. I guess sometimes that's okay though. We are learning patience in many ways today.

Nick spent the greater part of the morning reading a novel while Adrian learned to clean old Roman coins. I meanwhile spent the morning grieving that most of my TOS magazine reviews this year had never gone through to the magazine editor. I had emailed them off as my blogs were written, but something somewhere went horribly wrong and she never received them all. So before I could even work with the children on any formal schooling, I had to set things right there. Good thing I keep lots of educational CD-ROMs on hand, and lots of paperback books to use for independent study!
Fixing that small error didn't take long, but it took patience on my part, and on the parts of my boys as they awaited my help with their work.

Nick moved from his novel into working with me to tentatively plan his 4-year high school education. We are going toward credits to prepare him for college. Whew, high school at home might cost one as much as private school, if it weren't for used curriculum sites. Sciences with labs...hundreds of dollars; higher level math on DVD for the mathematically challenged teacher-mom...also way up there. If you are a genius and don't need everything spelled out for you, you can teach your child fairly cheaply. Likewise, if you scour the internet and used books sales, you can rack up a few points there also. But if you can't find what you need used or, like me, must rely heavily on computer or DVD learning to do high school at home, this could cost an arm and a leg! However, I look at it as a challenge and a chance to get creative in my shopping. :) I will not be defeated!!!
Nick got slightly impatient looking through the stack of curriculum catalogs for potential elective courses he'd like, but I steered him back on course with a short lecture, ;) and now he seems to be enjoying the idea of taking some additional art, literature, and photography classes.

Adrian's bag of Roman coins, supposedly 2,000 years old, came off Ebay. We are not so much interested in the dollar value of these little dirt-caked bronze pieces but in their historical value. We have spent the morning soaking them in olive oil, then soapy water, then rubbing lightly with baking soda. Rinse, repeat. And again. Finally, out of twelve coins, one is beginning to show some nice detail. This will certainly take patience.

Lunch is late today, just like everything else. I am trying to use my new microwave's "grill" feature to cook a steak. Stomaches are growling. More patience needed.

Its funny how God teaches us lessons in the small stuff.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Write Shop Primary Book A

From the same company that sent me Story Builders comes the newest in what will be a three-book series, Write Shop Primary Book A. http://www.writeshop.com/

This book is used for children in grades K-3 to lead them into writing through crafts, activities, and picture books. It is a gently approach that is easy to implement and has several schedules to use to accommodate each child's skill level.

We never got to use this book. I was sent the down loadable version and for some reason, it got lost in my email when the company first sent it to me. By the time I realized my review was due, contacted the company about the lost email, got a new email, and got it finally downloaded, here we are at the end of the year. My younger son (grade 3) is finally writing well, and I believe this program would be too easy for him. Had we gotten this product during the first semester when he was struggling so with writing, I am sure we could have used it with success. Somewhere along the way his writing, just like his reading did the previous year, after many struggles, suddenly just clicked. One of those homeschool mysteries I'll never understand. :)

My youngest daughter is only four, but she is already writing/copying words well and expresses a strong interest in reading and writing. I had thought about putting it off but since the activities in this book are so simple I may try the book on her come fall. Or even over the summer. Just introduce it as a fun thing to do on those hot, humid TN afternoons.

As with the few other products we were unable to use, I will still report as much as I can on it here and of course, follow up with updates as we go through the program.

My set came with PDF versions of both the teacher and student books. The cost for each printed book is between $26.95-$29.95 plus a small cost of around $5 for the student activity set. E-books are a few dollars less, running about $25.

The first section of the teacher guide tells the parent how to work with multiple ages, set up the schedule, and get supplies ready. Looks like to me that most supplies would be available at an office supply or teacher store, or in your own home already, and that setting up a writing center would be easy.
Depending on the chosen work schedule and child's abilities, it can take between one-three years to work through all three books. You'll have around 160 pages of lessons to complete in book A.

Every lesson will teach your child a new skill and lessons are theme-based (animals, trains, rhymes, etc). But even the themes are flexible to accommodate other studies you may be doing. An example of this is taking the Write Shop lesson on bugs and easily adapting it to your study of birds instead. You make a bird house rather than a bug house, hold a nature walk looking for birds rather than insects, etc. I like this because I can see how Write Shop could work with our current unit study program. I also like that quite a few of the picture books it calls for go right along with our Five in a Row curriculum.

Each lesson is split into 8 activity sets. These activity sets will always contain the same elements (as in Activity set 1 will always be a guided writing activity). I also like this because once I begin using the program, we will kind of get into a routine and there will be no surprises for mom!

There are worksheets included to reinforce concepts, evaluation sheets in case your state requires a grade, additional activities for the child who is hungry for more, and my favorite...little projects that allow your child to publish her finished writing.

Overall, I think this will be an easy addition to our day and will teach writing, creativity, editing and revision, without a headache or hassle. I think it will be perfect to use as a go-along to the programs I have already planned to use next year.

Waiting to try it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Auralog Tell Me More Spanish

Review of Auralog's Tell Me More Spanish Homeschool Beginner-level 5. http://www.tellmemore.com/

This product came packaged very well and included two CD-Roms and a computer headphone/microphone combo. I was able to quickly and easily set up the beginner cd on both my laptop and desktop, each computer using different operating systems.

Right from the start I had trouble, though. I popped in the CD-ROM that a beginner was to use (the other CD was not labeled with anything that stood out or indicated that it would be a big help to install it first instead. *sigh*). If only I had known then...you MUST pop in the correct CD to figure this program out without A LOT of trial and error and guess-clicking on icons just to see where they lead you. The CD I put in last was actually the start-up manual/help CD and it really should've gone first as it gave Internet access to weekly online continuing lessons, a progress test, language learning guarantee, activity guides, and so much more.

Since beginning with the CD I was instructed to, I made it easily enough to the home page (I chose guided learning when prompted). This led me to a screen with a progress chart called a learning path (you can choose path 1 or 2 in guided mode, each teaching different skills). I like this screen as it shows the lessons you've done, the percentage of work done and the percentage of work correct. I know I can check my progress as well as my son's. Off I went to lesson 1. It began well with photos of people and audio recordings of their speech. I can handle this, just looking at pictures while hearing corresponding words and phrases, I thought. But because I had not taken the training CD yet, just moving around the screen's interface immediately caused trouble. Some of the icons are ghost-like, meaning they don't appear to you clearly until you accidentally scroll across them. With some of the icons I had NO idea of their purpose. You also have to know where to click to go on in the lesson or else you find yourself lost. There are various places to click to advance and one must be careful to decide if she is trying to move to the next lesson entirely or only to the next activity in that particular lesson. If you mess up, as I often did, you can always go back to the previous screen, but it was still frustrating having to search for the correct destination. Not to mention time-consuming.

(Of course, had that training CD been installed first, I would have found the program much more user-friendly).

Once I learned my way around the icons and screens, there are many different activities to choose from, such as fill-in-the-blanks, crosswords, comprehension questions, scrambled words, speaking aloud to test your pronounciation, and vocabulary files. When you give your answers they will either turn green or you'll hear a chime when correct. Red means keep trying!
At times the directions themselves were clear but carrying them out wasn't. For example, the game scrambled words...it's hard to get the words to go where you need them to. I am so used to clicking and dragging things in my everyday computer use. You don't drag the words in this activity, but no where does it tell you that. So I sat and tried multiple times to get those crazy words where I wanted them (and finally did). But even when I completed an activity successfully, I often felt so flustered from the general use of the program that I didn't care to go on.

My son, an eighth grader, tried the program multiple times before I did, and he also had trouble with it all because he, too, didn't realize he needed the training on that random extra CD to manipulate the screens. If you are buying this please don't go into the program for use until you have located and looked over the extras on that other CD! You'll save yourself time and frustration and probably end up liking the program a lot, if you do so, as it does have much to offer. There is much variety in the activities presented in this program so it should appeal to a range of learning styles.
I would suggest to Auralog that they clearly label the software training CD to be installed first.

Whether it be due to my lack of experience with Spanish, my lack of training in the program, my own personal learning style, or just that this old dog has trouble learning new tricks, I have to say that from what I've seen and used of both Tell Me More and Rosetta Stone, I personally prefer Rosetta Stone. I felt a bit rushed with Tell Me More, as if I was moving quickly without having grasped all the concepts completely. As I said before though, you can move back to repeat a lesson, and score higher.

My 8th grader also prefers Rosetta, although he is currently using this program simply due to the high price tag behind the Rosetta program. Good news is the more he uses it and understands the interface, the better satisfied with it he becomes. On the other hand, my 3rd grader caught right on during my first lesson and was soon telling me the answers! Go figure. Could be due to his age or his learning style. The bottom line is you just never really know how a program will work until you test it with each child. This might end up being the perfect program for him, and for all of us, now that I am getting familiar with it. If I had it to do over again, I'd take the assessment test first, sign up for the weekly online lessons, learn to use the software correctly, and THEN really dive into it whole-heartedly.

This program should be complete for high school credit, and the cost is not quite as high as other programs considering how many levels you get. Ten levels of learning are about $374.99. Even our version with only five levels should cover at least 2 years of high school language, but if you are pursuing credits and have questions, don't hesistate to email the people at Auralog. I had a question and got a thorough reply within a few hours.
Visit their site and try a demo. I found their customer service top notch and lots of reviewers love this product. It has been used with many large corporations with great success.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

botched-up review of Write Shop Primary book A

Okay, this is truly making me sick. I had written about Write Shop for more than an hour when I accidentally clicked on a link in my Write Shop Teacher's Guide e-book, and my internet browser window went to that site before I could stop it. I immediately came back to my blog to find all my work erased!!

I am already behind on two reviews, not to mention a host of housework and etsy store orders, and really need to get caught up. Guess I'll jump back on AGAIN tomorrow and hopefully squeeze in my two cents about this neat program. My other review will be about Tell Me More Spanish, so be sure to come back often and soon.


Monday, April 13, 2009

review of Apologia Science texts

I was very excited to get to review 2 science texts from Apologia, as a few moms in our group who use this curriculum had nothing but glowing reviews of it themselves. I had already planned to possibly add a text or two into our high school curriculum, and seeing this product now has made me certain I want to do so.

I never forget what an awesome experience this is, as these vendors really have gone out on a limb to send so many of us so many (and mostly expensive!) products, hoping we really will utilize them and spread the word about them. I occasionally receive a product that just isn't a fit for our family, no matter how wonderful, and writing the reviews is just a tad harder. But then along comes a product that is so nice I am not sure how we ever made it this far without it. That is how I feel thus far with Apologia.

We have used many textbooks in our unit studies as supplemental reading; oh what we could have learned if we had used these texts instead! They are presented from a Christian worldview, saving parents the frustration of weeding through scientific "facts" found in secular texts. They are written in an approachable manner so that the children enjoy reading them. The author of the upper level text, Dr. Jay Wile, noted homeschool advocate and professor, has a sense of humor and it comes out in the readings as well.

The texts we received were Exploring Creation with General Science (middle school level) and Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.

Let's begin with the Flying Creatures text. I had a few doubts how long a study on birds and flying creatures could possibly take. This is a year-long course. I wondered if my son would understand the reading or whether it would be too technical, and if we would become bored with it at some point. I began by reading the first few pages aloud to all my children, regardless of age, and this is how I had planned to continue on, as I figured each child can glean something by listening in on the other's lessons. But as usual my best-laid plans were thwarted by life's busyness, and I end up having to let my third grader start reading solo. About twice a week I turn him loose to silently read for 30 minutes or so and then come back and tell me what he has learned. I also have instructed him to read over every experiment listed and pick a few random ones to work through. The book has easy experiments, clear-cut instructions, and LOADS of color pictures to break up the text. Reading doesn't seem so laborous when broken down into bite-sized "nuggets".

Now whether is it because this particular child has been given a heart for animals, particularly birds (thank you Lord for sending EXACTLY the book You knew my son would desire to read!) or if he just understands what he is reading, I don't know, but something is working! Not only does he read and tell me what he's learned (and its clear from looking over his text that he has truly grasped it), but he has begun, on his own, to write down his observations in a notebook. You have to understand what a struggle this child has had with penmanship and how much he abhorred writing. Suddenly this happy little scientist is reading, observing, and taking really clear notes too! I am thrilled! All with a MINIMAL amount of time on my part. :)

As with my younger son's text, I began reading aloud to all levels from my middle school son's text as well, just to kick us off. I also did this to make sure he was going to understand what he was covering, as the first "module" in the book was a bit dull. The author warns the reader that this first section may be a bit dull, as it covers mostly the history of science and famous scientists. He assures the reader that future modules will be more exciting, but he also makes it plain why we study these scientists and thinkers of the past: so we can learn from their mistakes. Nick is still reading alone his text twice weekly, and we haven't come to the point of taking a test yet, but since they were also included with this packet, we are going to use them. He too, enjoys his reading and likes to come and report on people or stories he's read. I am also making him add diagrams and reports for his science work; he especially enjoys sketching some of the diagrams for his own records.

I can see that there is no way to work only two days a week and get through these meaty books by the year's end, especially considering we've only had these texts for a couple of months. But they are simply too good to waste so we'll either use them as general reading all summer, or get back into them next school year.

As a Christian mom and lover of nature, I have a true desire to understand and pass on facts of God's creation and world to my children. These books are one great way to do that. Even if all one did was buy the books for general read-aloud or supplemental reading, you'd learn so much just from going that route. I give this company an enthusiastic thumbs up for making the complex things of this world fun and easy to understand, and helping children see God's hand in all things so they can build a firm foundation for sharing the Gospel, based on truth and fact.
To view more products or to see what topics these texts cover, please visit the Apologia team at:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

new crafting classes coming soon

I can't help it: crafting is in my blood and I want to share my passion with anyone and everyone!

Its been a few months since I have held any sort of classes, and I am eager to start them again. These will be available mainly for children but I also enjoy holding occasional classes for adults and community clubs. Dates and costs are being finalized and will be updated ASAP.

basic soap making
whipped, layered, and embedded soaps
Spa Day-sugar scrub, soap, lip balm, bath salts
painted pet place mats (to hold food dishes)
Mug 'Ems jar gifts
altered notebook
altered clipboard
altered frame
altered vanity tray
hard candy
Bath Fun Bucket (with tub jelly, soap paints, etc)
wall plaques
altered memory can
scrabble tile pendant necklaces
bottle cap pendant necklaces
duct tape no-sew recycled t-shirt purse
Painted whimsical initial tote bag
80's retro vintage suit coat
Painted canvas shoes with ribbon laces
recycled magnetic memo board
padded fabric brag book
brown bag scrapbook album

I'll keep you posted. :)