And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Romans 1:16

Romans 1:16

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

My kids have been blasting some music from the 116 Clique lately. I have to admit I like a lot of it too! I decided to look up the key verse they reference, and this is it. What a great verse to memorize and take with us! Not only does it remind us that we should always proclaim God's Word but it's a verse to share with others who are looking for salvation. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Battles, Biographies, and Bible Verses #homeschoolhistory

Last year we got to review a really awesome history curriculum from Character Concepts. They were kind enough to send us the other set in that history series to review now! America's Struggle to Become a Nation: Understanding the Foundations of Freedom by Rick and Marilyn Boyer is an American history course for students in 4th- 6th grades. Speedy really enjoyed going through the whole Fight for Freedom curriculum last year and is thrilled to have this second dose of "History for Patriots". He was even willing to take a picture (which is RARE these days!).

America's Struggle to Become a Nation is a 384 page student textbook. There are 34 weeks of lessons included. The beginning of the workbook offers suggestions for a 4 or 5 day work schedule. Speedy works on history 4 days per week. Each weekly chapter is about 10 pages. Those pages include the main text as well as loads of colorful pictures with descriptions. There are also little extra boxes of information that are pertinent to the lesson. Sometimes, there is a mini-biography or a Bible verse highlighted in those boxes. Often, historic quotes are included in a sidebar. In additon to those extras, there are special blue boxes for "Storytime with Uncle Rick". The lessons take the student from the reasons for the War of Independence through the various events and battles in the war all the way to the signing of the Constitution. This textbook will give the elementary student a firm understanding of early American history. In a time when our Patriotism is under attack, I think it's more important than ever for my kids to learn how the American government began and why. The appendix section gives the student a chance to read The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, Washington's Inaugural Address of 1796, and Washington's Farewell Address of 1796.

The student textbook alone is full of rich history and lessons. To enrich those lessons, the teacher's guide provides weekly questions and projects. The suggested weekly schedules are included in the front and are followed by a worksheet with projects for each week. The projects range from something simple like a journal entry to research projects to designing a poster or newspaper page. There are 4 quizzes in this book as well to test knowledge retention from the lessons. There's even a bonus quiz! This teacher's guide gives permission to make up to 10 copies of each page. Since I only have 1 student and we won't be reusing this curriculum, I allow him to write his answers in my teacher's guide. It includes an answer key in the back as well as its own appendix of extras like Patriotic Song Lyrics and a timeline. Speedy misses the audio files that were included with The Fight for Freedom but Uncle Rick does offer an audio club for an additional fee.

As I said, Speedy works on this 4 days a week. That means he reads a few pages and answers 3-4 questions per day. On Thursdays, he finishes up anything left for the week and works on the project(s). He has become quite the history buff and America's Struggle to Become a Nation is one of his favorite activities each school day. He's very interested in the military and learning the specifics of many of the battles of the war against England along with the biographies of many historical heroes is perfect for him.

I really like this history curriculum because it is all inclusive. Everything he needs to complete his daily work is right there for him, and he can do it independently! He reads the schedule and completes the work on his own. I just grade it once per week and make sure he's staying on track. While I received this set for free for review, the price is so reasonable! Currently the student textbook and teacher's manual can be purchased for under $50. If you sign up for the Character Concepts emails, they often have sales with a percentage off and/ or free shipping.

If you are looking for a history curriculum with a Christian approach for your older elementary student, I highly recommend America's Struggle to Become a Nation or Fight for Freedom. Be sure to check out all the other great products that Character Concepts offers!

Monday, July 31, 2017

5th Grade

I shared all of our picks for Apple's 8th grade year last week. This week I'll be telling you about our choices for Speedy for 5th grade. My kids are exact opposites and so I look at what Apple did for the grade level when I'm planning for Speedy but often his year looks totally different than hers was. For a few years we were able to do most of the same things she did but as they grew up and their personalities emerged, our homeschool years looked different. While we stick with some of the same companies and products (Math-U-See!), we change many of them.

My goals are nearly the same for Speedy as they were for Apple in this stage though. Continuing to encourage independence in schoolwork is a big one. Speedy's handwriting struggles are far from over so we'll focus a good bit of time there. This year with both kids I will be trying some new techniques to ensure they are giving everything their best effort the first time around.

Speedy has come a long way in his schoolwork over the last couple of years, and I'm hoping that trend will continue this year. While sitting and working aren't his favorite activities, we've learned he does well with computer courses and with extra breaks in his school time so those things are on his agenda for 5th grade.

Bible- Veritas Press Self-Paced Judges to Kings with flashcards
     Speedy did the first installment of this course last year and enjoyed it very much. He really needed the flashcards to help him with the dates, but we didn't realize that until he was nearly finished with it.  Veritas included the cards with the course during a sale earlier this year so I expect his grades to be even higher this time around. I'm the teacher in his Wednesday night church class now, and he regularly answers questions from Genesis to Joshua with ease so I know he retained all that material!

Math- Math-U-See Zeta and CTCMath 5th grade
      Math-U-See has been our favorite for so long! While fractions last year were tough, I anticipate my mathmatically minded child will have fewer struggles with decimals. CTCMath is a great program, and it gives Speedy another computer course.

Science- Apologia Astronomy textbook and notebooking journal
       Speedy started Astronomy when we received it for review but wanted to finish the other Science course he was doing at the time. He will get a chance to return to Astronomy this year. It seems like a great time with the big Eclipse in August!

Language Arts- IEW's Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree & IEW's Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
        I planned for Fix It! Grammar to be his curriculum last year but he decided to stick with another one we received for review. We are going back to Fix It! this year. He will also continue to memorize poetry with Level 2 of IEW's program.

Writing- IEW's All Things Fun and Fascinating
        We love IEW. :) Speedy selected this curriculum himself. I wanted him to pick something he was interested in so he'd be more willing to write.

History- This is an exciting one! I just received the curriculum for this as a review product so I'm going to leave this as a mystery for a little while. Check back soon for a review!

Literature- The Hobbit (read over the summer). On the Banks of Plum Creek (trying desperately to get him to read the whole Little House series!), The Swiss Family Robinson, The Horse and His Boy, Johnny Tremain, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Treasure Island
          Speedy reads every night on his own. He enjoys it more than he lets on! He finds the large stacks I make for his literature selections overwhelming though. He usually ends up enjoying the books so I will continue to push him with challenging material each year. I may lose the Little House battle after this one however...

Handwriting- Speedy will be using a variety of copywork material again this year. As I said, his writing has improved but still needs work. He'd like to learn cursive but just isn't quite ready yet. If this changes through the year we will swap to some type of cursive curriculum.

Spelling- IEW Phonetic Zoo
          Speedy started Phonetic Zoo (again) last year and really liked it. He will continue with it this year.

Electives- Speedy really won't have too many electives this year. I am planning to put both kids in a homeschool PE program that begins in September. I think Speedy will really enjoy that opportunity, and it gives them both a chance to regularly be out of the house. We will likely also join the local co-op when it gets going again.

It seems like 5th grade will be a year to continue building on everything Speedy has worked on so far. I'm praying and believing this will be a good, solid homeschool year.

Are you ready for 2017-2018? Have you made all your curriculum picks?

Monday, July 24, 2017

8th Grade

Our school supplies are purchased and our calendar is set. I still feel very unprepared for my child to be in 8th grade though! Actually I watched a homeschool high school planning information session yesterday, and it made me feel much better. Still....8th grade!!!!!

We have 1 week of summer break left and then we will ease into a new school year. Honestly Apple is excited. She's ready. My goals this year for her involve getting her to "own" her education. She is fiercely independent, but I want her to really understand this year that her learning time is for her benefit. Our schooltime is not to check off boxes I've given her but to prepare her for her future education, work, and life. She's getting there, but I hope she gains more of an understanding of that before high school. She has goals already for high school and for college. I'm so proud of her for that but I'm hoping she will see this year that diligence will pay off in the end.

She has worked very hard up until now so 8th grade will be a little "light" for her. It's a chance to fill in any gaps before beginning to gain those high school credits.

Bible- Apologia Who is My Neighbor? textbook and notebooking journal
         We worked through the first 2 books in this series as a family. I'm planning to let her go through this one on her own because Speedy has something different for Bible this year. She'll also be continuing studies with her youth group.

Math- Personal Foundations for Middle School & Economics for Everybody
           Since she did Algebra I for 7th grade, we are taking things a bit slower for "math" this year. She'll be doing this consumer math study and an economics study. She will also begin Geometry at a very slow pace with CTCMath as she is actually planning to take it for her 9th grade math credit.

Science- God's Design for Planet Earth and God's Design Heat and Motion
            Again we worked on some books in this series years ago as a family through a local co-op. These are 2 that we never used. She will do both of these on her own and add in some extra resources along the way.

Language Arts- Writer's in Residence & IEW's Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
              Apple began this when we received it for review awhile back. She didn't complete it at the time so she is going to use it this year. She will also continue Level 2 of IEW's Poetry Memorization program.

Literature- The Bronze Bow, The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, The Yearling, Words Aptly Spoken Short Stories
                Apple still consumes books. She's been begging for some Shakespeare for awhile so she completed a short Shakespeare Introductory course over the summer. She's also been reading Great Expectations so I felt good about giving her a lighter load for her scheduled schoolwork this year.

History- Mystery of History II
                We completed Mystery of History I as a family a couple of years ago. We've also listened to the third volume of Story of the World on audio book. She will work through Mystery of History II on her own this time.

Electives- Getting Started with French & Fallacy Detective
                 She began French last year in the midst of some Spanish studies so she will complete it this year. Fallacy Detective is a logic curriculum I won several years ago. I'm excited for her to finally take it!

I'll admit I've loved our long summer break, and I'm reluctant to start back. However, I'm excited about this 8th grade lineup, and I have high hopes that Apple will excel this year.

Monday, July 17, 2017

What Worked for 7th Grade

Last month I shared what worked for Speedy for 4th grade. Now I want to tell you what worked well for Apple for 7th grade. While many families regularly swap curriculum during a school year that goes against my planned and organized nature. When we did reviews for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I had to learn to be more flexible as we were constantly trying new items for review. Since we did not rejoin the Crew last January, our curriculum was a little more set...or so I thought.

The first big thing Apple did differently for 7th grade was to take outside classes. Her science and language arts classes were both done outside our home by other teachers. She really enjoyed that experience and is looking forward to doing it again in the future. The program changed a bit so she's sad not to be able to do those classes for 8th grade but is hoping to rejoin in 9th grade. I thought it was great for her to experience other teachers. She learned some valuable lessons about turning in assignments on a particular date and about the importance of remembering to take your backpack to class! She was also involved in a local co-op both semesters so she was able to take brief Government, STEM, and Spanish classes. She enjoyed all 3 of those and learned some new things.

Now at home we had some struggles. The original Bible and History/ Government choices I had for her just really didn't pan out. She worked her way through part of them and then we swapped to something different. Since I didn't have access to as many new curricula items, we pieced things together from what we already had. She did several different Bible courses I had downloaded already, read some extra books for History, and basically worked on unit study and copywork type assignments. That wasn't at all what I had planned for 7th grade, but we made it work. I love the idea of saying she worked on X and completed it all but it just isn't that easy for 7th grade. I can say she worked on lots of different things and learned many new facts along the way. Since she was struggling in Bible and there were some character issues we needed to address with both kids, we started readying about a chapter a day of the Gospels. We made it almost to the end of John and enjoyed talking about the chapters each day.

Math is not Apple's favorite subject, but she is very good at it. It was hard but she worked through Algebra I with Math-U-See and with CTCMath. Algebra I took a good chunk of her time each day, but she completed it and was so happy to be finished.

Apple also read loads of books and did quite a bit of writing.

It's taken me so long to write this post because it's hard to define 7th grade! We realized some interesting things last year. She's read and studied so many things on her own already that taking outside classes meant she did quite a bit of "review". I tried to use that to keep calm about all the plans that went out the window mid-year. She also had some classmates tell her it was "impossible" to be doing Algebra I in the 7th grade. She went through a lot of emotions over that. She first doubted me. Then herself. Eventually though she realized it wasn't impossible and that made it that much sweeter when she finished.

Homeschool never gets easier. At least it hasn't yet for us! Each year brings on new challenges and new goals. Did you learn anything new in your homeschool year? Have you had a child that needed to chunk the plans and find something new?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Busy Summer

Wow! Our summer has been so busy so far! We purposefully took this summer off of school so we could focus on other things. I never imagined we would be so busy with no school to do!

Speedy finished up his baseball season and attended two baseball camps. They were both new camps to him so he enjoyed both of them immensely. Apple participated in a two week drama camp that culminated with two performances. She loves the stage and had a great time getting to know new people and perform twice in a musical.

While we took the whole summer off, Speedy has been reading The Hobbit. He was a little intimidated by the size of the book so I've allowed him to read it through the summer at a leisurely pace rather than working on it this fall. Since Speedy "got" to read one of his books, Apple asked to read a literature book. She reads ALL the time so I gave her a short Shakespeare introduction course to complete instead. Of course she finished several weeks' worth in a short time.

In addition to camps and a little learning, the kids have been happy to make weekly trips to the library. They've also spent extra time with extended family, and they've been working on their kitchen skills. They've each stuck to making a meal per week, and they have 3 meals each left before school begins again.

Although these next few weeks should be slower, with VBS and soccer practices, I have a feeling life will feel just as crazy!

I hope to make up for a month with no posts! I will be sharing what worked for us for 7th grade as well as what we will be using for the upcoming school year. I also hope to have a new homeschool review for you soon!

How has your summer been? Has it been slow and leisurely or packed and busy?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Colorful Hardback Bible for Kids

It's been awhile since I've done a review but this colorful hardback Bible was a great way to get back to it! Handlebar Publishing sent me a free copy of the new Zonderkidz Kids' NIV Visual Study Bible. This Bible boasts 700 images inside! It includes the Old Testament and New Testament along with many study elements.

There are 1936 pages inside the Bible with a wide yellow sidebar on most pages. Each book begins with some information about the author and the book. There are also key verses and stories pointed out on these chapter pages. The yellow sidebars hold key verses and some four color pictures. There are images scattered all throughout this Bible. Some are simple drawings to illustrate the stories from the Bible. Others are informational charts and maps.

Every page doesn't have a chart or picture but many do! The added illustrations and study helps will keep readers interested as they work through the Bible. 12 full page maps are included in the back of the Bible.

Overall I think this is a solid study Bible for kids who are just beginning to read the Bible. I can see this as a good Bible to keep on a nightstand for nightly reading or in a desk for Bible study time. Our copy will be going to my classroom at church so we have an extra Bible on hand when needed.