Homeschool On Purpose

November 09, 2016

The 2016 Great Field Trip: Pioneer Style

Staci Photo

Just one of the many Laura Ingalls Wilder books she has enjoyed

Over this last year, Bookworm Beauty discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder. She devoured everything she could get her hands on that centered around Laura. Her mild obsession eventually morphed into a love and appreciation of studying the life and times of the westward expansion.

We tiptoed through our already planned History Studies while she relentlessly pursued studying this particular time period of American History. I relented. I went along with it. And it became contagious.

Then it happened.

I began sharing with Bookworm Beauty (and Sweetness who showed a bit of interest) my experiences of growing up in Nebraska. I shared the field trips to Stuhr Museum, Pioneer Village and The Pony Express. Her eyes widened, if she were a puppy I’d say that she began to drool. It was settled… we were taking a road trip.

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The Westward Expansion

The details swirled in my head as I tried to figure out the logistics. Is this a family trip? What is our route? How long do we plan for? What time of the year?

I began talking it through with a couple of homeschooling girlfriends  (dropping subtle hints along the way) that just maybe this could be a girl’s trip? They took the bait… hook… line… and sinker… Neither of us had any idea of what was in store for us.

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Now… to convince the men…

Surprisingly, when I brought up my ideas with Handsome, there was no push back. None of anything I expected. You see, he is an awesome Dad and he does not enjoy missing a single thing that we do. I was more than surprised that he did not want to participate in this activity (maybe he was celebrating the closure of the Laura Ingalls Wilder obsession…?)

Handsome was incredibly supportive and offered suggestions of places to add to our itinerary. Conferring with the other ladies, I found that they were given the same support.

Then came the planning.

We settled on a 6 day trip. Our plan was to leave Colorado heading East through Kansas, then North up to Beatrice to our first stop at the Homestead National Monument. We would then head to Grand Island, set up camp and make arrangements to visit my ailing mother. The following day would be our biggest day of play; we would head to the State Fair and see Chris Tomlin in concert! On the third day, we planned to visit Stuhr Museum and have a leisurely evening at the campgrounds. Day four would be a really long day. We would need to break down camp early and then be on the road to Kearney to visit the Platte River Rd Archway Monument – which by the way has a fantastic annual rate of $25 for homeschooling families – SCORE! After the Archway we would continue West towards Jailhouse Rock, Courthouse Rock and Chimney Rock and then finally head to Guernsey, Wyoming where we would need to set up camp – very late. Our last day would be spent touring a cool fort area in Guernsey, where wagon ruts were still visible.

This was going to be a phenomenal trip! There are 12 children still at home between our 3 families. The decision was made to only take the older girls and an infant. We were making this trek with 3 women, 5 girls ages 7-11, and the baby. We would be prepared to load up a 12 passenger van and hit the road early one morning.

I have the ability of being very detailed and structured. It is not in my nature, normally. But if I have a budget and a task, I’ll work it to death and figure out a way. I am very resourceful and enjoy finding a way to make things fit. Combine those skills with my girlfriends and together we had mad menu making skills. We literally planned each and every meal, snack and drink.

We prepacked accordingly, cleverly deciding that we simply could not do this trip without coffee and did not want to rely on the gas station every morning to meet that need. With that in mind, I pre-made 2 gallons of coffee with creamer and refrigerated them. Keep in mind, it was the end of August – a time when iced coffee is still a refreshing treat. Of course, we could always heat up a cup on the camp stove for the diehard hot coffee drinkers (me).

We precooked the taco salad meat, sausage and bacon (yes, must take bacon) and we pre-cut our veggies that would be a part of our initial meals. We knew that veggies were not going to keep for several days so the first meals were heavy on fresh foods; while the later meals relied on sandwiches, canned chili and similar items.

We did not want to take anything unnecessary, not even ice. I know, that sounds funny… certainly we would need ice. We simply did not want to take anything that would not be used and the idea of dumping out loads of water from the coolers daily (and dealing with wet items) was not appealing. Ice blocks were also out of the question as they would take up useful space and we would not have a way to refreeze them. We decided to fill 8 1-gallon jugs with our 9.5pH alkaline ionized water and froze them ahead of time. These served as our ice blocks and as they would thaw, they would be some of our drinking water – refreshingly cold drinking water! We would also pack an additional 7 gallons of drinking water but it would not be pre-frozen or even cold.

The plans were written in stone. There would be no turning back.

November 09, 2016

Educational Details

It never comes as a surprise to me how valuable the overall details in life are. Our recent review of Sentence Diagramming: Beginning by The Critical Thinking Co.™ is no exception to this fact.

The Boy, our lively 6 and a half-year-old first-grader, struggles with math. He does not struggle with math the way most people envision from that statement but rather he struggles with being able to tell you how he simply just knows the answer to the mathematical equations surrounding him (and oftentimes his older sisters). He sees 242 + 312 and says “556” without blinking an eye. However, when we start working through the problem itself and talk about the place value and such, he is literally a deer in the headlights then shakes his head and says, “I don’t get that and it’s 556.” There is much work to be done with teaching fundamentals and details to kids that seem to just get it naturally.

The mathematical example I gave is simply an example. We deal with the same sort of detail issues with Bookworm Beauty and Language Arts. Again, it really is not much of a surprise… her name is Bookworm Beauty for a reason… and typically avid readers appear to be ahead in the language game. It has been apparent that language comes to her the way math comes to The Boy. As we have worked through her language arts lessons, she typically sails through the lessons, and oftentimes looks up as if to say, “Really??? This is a waste of my time…” Ahhhh, but when we dig a bit deeper we find things are just not quite as they seem. Yes, she understands language and appears to grasp excellent concepts… but she can not always explain the why. Language is rhythmic and oftentimes is nearly poetic. Someone with the gift of language can hear the nuances of such and things just make sense…. they read with inflection and they write with ease… just don’t ask them to identify a prepositional phrase!

When we sat down and completed the first lesson of Sentence Diagramming: Beginning (which is designed for 3-12th graders – and beyond), I wondered if the program was really going to be a necessity to us or would it simply be another supplement to soak up some time. The first lesson focused on the how and why of diagramming sentences and then took students through identifying simple subjects and main verbs. This was easy, to say the least. However, as we moved through the lessons, things got a bit tougher. We have not finished the program, which ends on compound predicate adjectives and nouns, but we will. We got stuck on adverbial prepositional phrases and seemed to spend more time than anticipated there. I have to admit, I had some nightmare flashbacks on the same topics from my school years.

I have found that having the diagramming structure that Sentence Diagramming: Beginning offers gives us a really good framework to work with. Although Bookworm Beauty has done well in sentence writing before, now she has a greater understanding of the structure of sentences and her writing continues to improve overall.

We will definitely be finishing this 68-page workbook and then I plan on purchasing an additional one to use with Sweetness for next year. I am thrilled that they are a mere $12 for a high-quality consumable workbook with easy tear-out pages. This may seem a side note, but I really like the tear out pages because it keeps my children focused on the lesson at hand instead of getting distracted by the upcoming lessons (am I the only one that experiences this?) I will also be looking forward to additional levels of Sentence Diagramming to further challenge Bookworm Beauty. I have not found anything to indicate additional levels or release dates but the nature of the title Sentence Diagramming: Beginning indicates that it is just the beginning. (smile).

Now for the really good stuff… when I visited the website of The Critical Thinking Co.™ I discovered that they are truly an incredible resource! They offer several products to support education from PreK to beyond 12th grade in multiple subjects including: Critical Thinking, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Test Prep, Tests and Technology. Products are available in various formats including book format, eBooks, downloadable software as well as apps. They even have full curriculum programs are available for grades PreK-6th.

I am a happy Momma. You see, I love language and I am happy to see my children learn the details of language, not just how to use it.

 

November 03, 2016

Native American Studies: A Review

 

We have been really enjoying our American History studies this year. I am not sure if it is just a celebration of finally finishing our state studies or that we have truly been getting into the overall history of America. Either way, we have been winding ourselves through20161028_141311 America the Beautiful Part 1, which is a fantastic study of America from 1000 through 1877. Either I do not remember my childhood history studies or we simply did not cover these time periods as thoroughly.

Regardless, the timing is impeccable – which it always seems to be – as we were literally turning the last page on our studies of early Native Americans and about to begin our studies on European settlers when we were selected to review Many Nations a 4-week micro study on Native American nations by Homeschool Legacy.

We have happily set our History book up on a shelf and have been delving deeper into our Native American studies with this micro study. My first thought was how easy it was to access… it came as a PDF attachment through in an email… can it get any easier? I printed it out (I know, digital studies are designed to reduce paper). It took me right around 30 minutes to peruse the study to find out what would be expected of me, and the kiddos, over the next couple of weeks. Although this is designed to be a 4 week micro study, I really wanted to finish it in its entirety before writing my review and because I had taken a break from our normal American History studies, of which we had a schedule for.20161028_164933

At first glance I felt that the study was too simplified. It seemed exceptionally short. It is listed as a Once-A-Week 4 week Micro-Study, so I should not have had such high expectations on its content. Although it was short, we still got a lot out of it. I honestly do not know if we would have found the study as rich had we not been previously studying the same era. It may stand on its own just fine and we 20161102_194943would still have found value, especially at a mere $12.

Homeschool Legacy has so many wonderful unit studies to choose from. These are great for anyone wanting a nice change of pace, a history unit study or just a supplement to what they are already using. After looking through their store, we found a few that we may enjoy as another supplement to our History studies. Early Settlers in America would fit right along with our upcoming units. What I’m really looking forward to though is the Constitution Quest Game. We love board games and what better way is there to reinforce learning about the United States Constitution?

My favorite moment during our review of Many Nations took place on the day that the kids found their tomahawks that they made during the first lesson. Unfortunately, the Make a Tomahawk link in the guide was a dead link, but it inspired us to find another kid friendly instructable on YouTube. The kids had made their tomahawks out of paper and they were surprisingly sturdy. We had been enjoying some of the most amazing Indian summer weather and when the kids finished their school lessons for the day they ran outside to play. I had decided to peak into their play after hearing the screen door close for a fourth time and I found them using the swing set frame for building their Indian longhouses, each carrying their tomahawk. They hunted. They battled. They even took an intruder captive (Daddy). Later they buried their hatchet – a sign of their peace treaty. 

This made me smile.

The kids have learned about Indian life and learning is what matters.

 

October 27, 2016

Digital Interactive Foreign Language Courses: A Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages

This year has been difficult for us to get into a solid rhythm as there have been life changing events for us over the last few months. Fortunately, Bookworm Beauty enjoys self-study and has been keeping herself on task; programs like High School Spanish II by Middlebury Interactive Languages keeps her foreign language studies easy for her as well.

Bookworm Beauty is an average sixth grader. She is fairly consistent at working at her grade level or a little above, with the exception of Spanish. She spent both 2nd and 3rd grade in a Spanish Language Immersion program and went from knowing little more than how to count to 10 in Spanish to being able to fumble herself through simple conversations. Fourth grade was our first year homeschooling and we joined a homeschooling co-op where the kids attended one day a week and offered a high school level Spanish class. She not only loved that class, she excelled and really enjoyed being surrounded by high schoolers.

At the end of her fourth grade year we moved to the prairie and her options for continuing Spanish became minimal. It has been an on-going priority for me to find a quality homeschooling Spanish curriculum that would challenge her to continue to improve her communication ability. Fortunately, as often seems to be the case, the opportunity found us with the Middlebury review.

We were both excited about this review. Before beginning, I contacted Middlebury directly to find out what level would best suit her. I did not tell them that I was selected to review the program, instead I acted like a regular customer researching the product before purchase. This is important to note because it allowed me the opportunity to see how their service is for their customers, not just for their reviewers.

I was thrilled to have a live person answer the phone and spend ample time listening to our specific and unique needs. The customer service representative asked multiple questions to ensure that he understood what I was looking for. He offered me advice regarding placement and then informed me that if we determined that it was not a proper fit for her, we could change her program within the first 30 days. I was really impressed. I felt heard. I felt supported. I had peace of mind. This was an important detail because we have a homeschooling budget and I oftentimes find it difficult to make decisions on a program.

Middlebury Interactive Languages offers courses in German, Spanish, Chinese and French. All languages have classes from Kindergarten through High School (with the exception of German, there is not a K-2 program at this time). They also offer AP High School courses in both French and Spanish. These online digital classes offer 12 months of access to complete the program and range from $119 per semester without teacher support to $538 for 2 semesters with teacher support (depending upon the grade).

menu-screenshotOnce a student has logged in, they enter their online class portal. From the dashboard the student can navigate easily to their Gradebook, Calendar, Notifications and Table of Contents.

The Table of Contents has proven most helpful for Bookworm Beauty as it allows her to easily find where she has left off.

She has found the course both a good fit yet still challenging. Her biggest challenge is the workload and pace of a high school course. She is not on target to complete the semester in it’s normal time frame but still plans to complete it.

The course provides a nicely interactive format. There seems to be a nice balance between both reading and listening to the lessons. There are assignments for each lesson that include things such as multiple choice, written work, and speaking phrases (a microphone is required on the computer).

I am pleased that the system keeps the grades in a nice and easy to view format. You can view the gradebook as a quick progress report type summary, show scores by each unit or show grades for each individual assignments.grade-report

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The grading options are a nice feature for me. Honestly, I know very little Spanish and I can not imagine trying to grade her work or figure out if she is pronouncing things correctly or not. This program takes care of all of those details for me. I only have one thing to worry about and that is ensuring that she logs in and does her lesson for the day. If I want to check in on her work, I simply log in to the gradebook and look over her work. At this time, Bookworm Beauty has a 79% in her Spanish class. I think that is pretty good for an 11 year old sixth grader in a High School level class.

I am absolutely pleased with Middlebury Interactive Languages. I do not know what the future holds for us but I do know that I would like for Bookworm Beauty to complete the full course within our allotted time. I will then consider having her complete the High School Spanish II Fluency and then possibly the High School Spanish III class. I am not sure about AP Spanish Language and Culture, at least not before High School. However, I have two other students to think about. I guess I should be considering the Elementary Spanish I course.

October 27, 2016

School Sports and Homeschooling?

 

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A few years ago, Bookworm Beauty was bitten by the sports bug.

Her first experience with organized sports was roller hockey. It was interesting, to say the least. To begin with, she could hardly walk on the roller blades that came with the enrollment. By the end of the 6 week season she was at least skating and learning the hockey skills. We let her participate for three seasons before deciding to put up the hockey stick – so to speak.

The team experience itself was lacking. We wanted her to have the opportunity to experience being part of a team and although she was, there was no cohesive team spirit in roller hockey. I can not speak for other locations, but at our location there was nothing to encourage that kind of team cohesiveness. For example, the kids did not even know each others names, except the names of the few “good” players; there was no real team practice to assist in that either as practice was for all teams at once. To top it off, at the end of the season, the team party was held at the same time for all of the teams (10 or so) during a regular open-skate public session. It was fun for her nonetheless, but we really wanted her to have an opportunity to be part of a team not just a group of kids getting together.

Then last year rolled around… one of her 5th grade friends gave her a flyer for the local youth basketball team. She showed a bit of interest and we found ourselves on our way to town to buy her a pair of court shoes.

The team experience was everything we had desired for her. She was part of something and felt important. Even more important, she got to know most of the kids on the team.

staco-volleyballNow Bookworm Beauty is in 6th grade and this changes everything. Where we live, 6th grade is when students can start participating in school sports. Suddenly it is as if the sky has parted upon Bookworm Beauty and the angels are singing.

Many homeschoolers are not aware that their students can participate in the local school programs – a la carte. We love our local school (I know… we are lucky), we love it so much that I would not be worried if I sent my kids there at some point. In the meantime we are enjoying what we can utilize their programs and Bookworm Beauty has been playing volleyball with many of her friends.

Volleyball was a great experience for her. She is excited though as she is now trading her volleyball for her basketball and in the spring she is considering running in track. It has been a joy to watch her actively participate in these sports.

Whether your child enjoys

September 22, 2016

Learning French: A Review

We are always blessed to have an opportunity to review wonderful products, such as Armfield Academic Press’s Getting Started with French by Linney & Simpson.

Bookworm Beauty is 11 and in the 6th grade. She is a lover of languages. She started with Spanish in the 2nd grade when she had the opportunity to participate in a Spanish Immersion program for two years of her schooling. It was a tremendous experience and one that opened her world up to languages. She is not quite fluent in Spanish but can fumble her way around just fine.

Last year, she informed me that she would really like to learn French… and German… and Russian… but she really wanted to learn French. When we completed our application for the opportunity to review Getting Started with French, she was wringing her hands and praying we would be selected. Her prayers were answered.

Bookworm Beauty literally hugged the full-sized non-consumable book and snuggled up on the couch to jump right in… and it was still summer vacation for us! I had to pry the text away and go over the brief Preface and How to Use This Book with her. We reviewed those sections together, thumbed through the 172 lessons and took note of the Expressions Francaises, General Advice, Answer Key, Pronunciation Guide and Glossary.

Getting Started with French is intended to be a beginning French course for homeschoolers and self-taught students. It includes 172 lessons that take a step by step approach to the language, allowing learners to learn one concept at a time. Each lesson builds upon previous lessons and offers translation exercises to test one’s learning. Practicing the language is up to the student to make time for in his or her daily life.

I made the decision that since Bookworm Beauty has already proven to be successful at self-study that I would let her run with this program with as little intervention and support from me as possible.

Shortly after getting started in the text Bookworm Beauty lost her steam and ambition. She said that the course felt slow to her. I can imagine this program seeming slow when her experience with learning a language previously was total immersion with limited English for full school days. I had to encourage her to look at the lessons as baby steps, learning one thing at a time. She began having more success in learning but was still lacking enthusiasm.

When further questioning Bookworm Beauty, she stated that the biggest downside was that it did not include any sort of worksheets that would help her to utilize the words she had learned. I try and keep a balanced mind about these things and I know that some people really dislike worksheets and others prefer them. For me, this was not a deal killer. I actually liked the idea that the book did not include any consumable parts and therefore can be used with multiple students.

This is a program that although our experience was not one of fireworks, I find that it is a result of just not being a good self-study fit for my particular student. I truly do not feel it is because the program is lacking in any way. Having had some French in high school, I was able to peruse the book and refresh my own learning. I liked the way that the book took small steps, allowing me to almost meditate on each small step and build upon it as I moved along.

One of the most important parts of learning a language is practicing proper pronunciation. The text does a fantastic job at providing written pronunciation but that can sometimes be misunderstood. There are several resources available at their website  www.gettingstartedwithfrench.com including free audio mp3 downloads for this purpose.

I think that this program may be a good resource for anyone desiring to learn a language at a nice and steady pace.

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September 08, 2016

Exploring Creation with Astronomy: A Review

It has been another fantastic experience with Apologia Educational Ministries as we have been working through their Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition. As always, Apologia does not disappoint, this product has exceeded our already high expectations.

To start with, the quality of the materials we received from Apologia Educational Ministries has become a benchmark in our homeschool to judge other materials from – they are just that good. We received the Astronomy 2nd Edition Student Text ($39), Astronomy 2nd Edition Notebooking Journal ($27), Astronomy 2nd Edition Junior Notebooking Journal ($27), and the Astronomy 2nd Edition Audio CD ($29). We purchased an additional Astronomy 2nd Edition Junior Notebooking Journal to be able to complete this program with all three of our students.

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Apologia Educational Ministries has spared no expense in the production of these products. The Astronomy 2nd Edition Student Text is a full-sized, full-color hardbound book with 216 pages. Virtually every page following the 4 Table of Contents pages are beautifully laid out, inviting the students to learn the story of creation through the study of astronomy. Included alongside the text in each lesson are wisdom from above boxes that contain scripture verses or thoughtful quotes; think about this boxes containing meaningful tid-bits that inspire further thought; fun activities that are easy to complete at home; and end with a What Do You Remember? section, engaging the students in a recap of the lesson. The lesson pages are also filled with charts and colorful images that draw the students in.

The Astronomy 2nd Edition Audio CD is an audio book of the Student Text. The audio book is read by the author Jeannie Fulbright. To me, this is noteworthy because the author knows best what to stress and what was intended for the reader to grasp. Her voice is pleasant and her enunciation is clear, both of which are important when listening to an audio book. The Audio CD makes learning on the road a breeze, when homeschooling takes you away from home. For us, it made the text come to life as we followed along within our Student Text and let the author draw us into her story-telling of astronomy.

Both the Astronomy 2nd Edition Notebooking Journal and Astronomy 2nd Edition Junior Notebooking Journal are treasures. Like the text, they are full-sized, full-color and engaging. My students literally treasure these. All of their work can be done in the Spiral-Bound journals. There are notebooking pages to document Fascinating Facts and Personal Reflections; pages to complete many of the activities; copywork pages in both script and manuscript; coloring pages; crosswords; mini book cut & paste templates; and more. The differences between the two are minimal as they are designed to support the same text. The only significant difference is that Junior Journal offers primary dashed-line style writing pages to support younger writers and has meaninful coloring pages instead of the What Do You Remember? answer sheets found in the Notebooking Journal.  There are many things to like about these Notebooking Journals. The kids seem to really like the activities and the colorful graphics. I personally appreciate the ability to have everything in one concise book to peruse through later and review or share what has been learned. Every time the kids share their Notebooking Journal with others and explain the mini-books or other activities, they are reinforcing their knowledge learned. That is what matters most… they have learned.

I am always delighted to have the opportunity to review anything from Apologia. I am never disappointed. The content in their materials is second to none and they have several titles as part of their Exploring Creation series including Human Anatomy and Physiology, Botony, three levels of Zoology, Physical Science, General Science, Chemistry and Physics, Marine Biology, Physics, as well as advanced level programs. Every aspect of K-12 Science can be covered with their programs, giving a child a rich and well-rounded science education. Although we appreciate having the opportunity to review their programs, we appreciate these programs so much so that we have ordered the entire educational sets of both Human Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry and Physics. We expect to work through Human Anatomy and Physiology the second half of this year, upon completion of Astronomy. With Chemistry and Physics, however, we are working through it alongside our other science programs at a snails pace simply because my students are fascinated with both chemistry and physics. I imagine that it will take us up to two years to complete that particular program and we are allowing it to segway into other areas of our homeschool education.

20160907_131344_resizedWe have done things a bit differently in our homeschool with Astronomy. As some of my readers know, we have an art group that is meeting on Wednesdays with two additional homeschooling families. I was so excited as I began preparing for receiving the materials for this review that I could not help but share my enthusiasm for this product. That enthusiasm led to changing our Wednesday art class to art and science. To make this happen, the other two families also acquired the curriculum and notebooking journals. I have to admit, it was difficult to wait a week for their materials to arrive to start our Astronomy studies.

Together we have five students working in the standard Notebooking Journal and three students working in the Junior Journal. We also have a preschooler that sits with the group and participates by listening in and helping the younger students color their coloring pages. It would be nice if there was a coloring pages workbook available for a preschooler to color but the older kids actually fight over who gets to have her help them which makes her feel important. We have tried as a group both taking turns reading the Student Text aloud as well20160907_131448_resized as utilizing the Audio CD to complete the lessons as a group. We enjoy listening to the Audio CD the most. Working through Astronomy together has been a wonderful blessing. We have rich group discussions and the activities really come to life when we do them as a larger group. The only thing we typically do not do as a group are several of the activities in the notebooking journals. We take time during the week to complete those. Overall, this has been an incredible experience for us all (adults included).20160907_131624_resized

To take our astronomy studies further, we took a day and scheduled a field trip to NCAR – National Center of Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. If you are ever in Colorado, this FREE self-guided, hands-on science center is one to be added to your itinerary. Students have the ability to touch and feel displays that generate tornado models, hurricane models, clouds and so much more. We were fortunate to schedule an actual field trip and spent 3 hours studying the Earth’s weather system. This was fascinating. 20160907_103407_resizedEqually interesting were the many features in the center that allowed the students to further expand upon their recent astronomy studies. We had the ability to watch a video display of Solar flares from the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory in Hawaii. Studying the sun in this way was absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend visiting their website when covering the Sun in lesson 2 of Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition.20160907_131732_resized

Also available from Apologia Educational Ministries is a fantastic Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal ($22).  I regretfully neglected to add this to my recent purchase. We really could have used those yesterday and will be ordering those soon to capture all of our science field trips into one location. We will be sure to have them in time for our next field trip planned, when we visit one (or more) of the local planetariums.

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway… we fully intend to complete Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition in its entirety. This is not a review product destined to our homeschool library, at least not until it is completed!

 

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September 01, 2016

Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens: Review

Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens from The Spiritual Circle Journal is a full-sized spiral bound notebook type journal intended for children ages 8 and above. My first thought regarding having the opportunity to review this product was one of ambivalence. I normally appreciate tools designed to increase spiritual growth but I was a bit hesitant about this particular journal. My hesitance was primarily based on the fact that instead of lined writing pages, the nine graphic pictures duplicated on each page seemed to be more of a distraction and I found myself assuming that it trivialized journaling.

After a sigh and a slight gulp, I opened the book and prayed that I would face this product with open eyes and a willing heart. I flipped through the introductory pages and read the three Parent/Teacher/Leader Guide pages. Immediately I found myself rescinding all of my previously unfounded thoughts!

This was not a trivial journaling tool. In fact, this was not just another journal. This journal was birthed out of a desire of an adult woman’s heart to help children learn to hear God’s voice and recognize His hand in their own life.

20160901_083631The author took steps to keep things fun and personal, a must for children’s journals. For starters, there is the ability to customize their own cover. The journal has a heavy duty plastic cover to protect the underlying decorated cover and although there is a basic cover, it is followed by a heavy duty blank white page to be designed by the child. Once it is completed, the child can remove the standard cover to reveal theirs under the clear plastic protector.

The next page to personalize is the Personal Page. This is where the child can basically fill in the blanks on all things relating to themselves and includes a space to paste a selfie picture.

The journaling pages take up the bulk of the book and it is here that the magic happens and children are able to notice themes of how God is working in their life. Each of the 65 journaling pages contains nine simple illustrations, representing specific prayer areas. The illustrations and their representations are: a cloud labeled JE for Journal Entry this is where the child can share anything that is on her mind; a music note with L/V for Lyric/Verse to share any lyrics or verses that seem to be stuck in her head; a book with a M for Message to share anything that she has learned from the Word; a heart with a C for Confession to confess wrongdoings; a car with a GM for God Moving to write down coincidences and things that seem to just happen; a light bulb with LL/LBM for Lesson Learned/Light-Bulb Moment to share lessons learned; a bag with a P for Prayer to journal any prayers; a memo with a TY/A for Thank You/Adoration to document praises; and a shoe with an A for Actions to identify areas that she feels God wants her to do.

The last fifteen pages are Summary Pages and encourage a student to take their journaling a step further.

It was a difficult choice for us to determine whether Bookworm Beauty or Sweetness would benefit the most with the Spiritual Circle Journal. After careful thought, it was determined that Bookworm Beauty would utilize the review copy and we would simply have to order Sweetness her own copy.

Bookworm Beauty struggled a little with her initial entries (which the author mentioned would most likely happen) until she got the hang of the routine. I cannot say that at this time there has been any sort of profound moments, but what she has done is begin to document her spiritual walk, which is the first step.

I believe this product is well worth its $15.00 price tag and I am thinking that this will be the first product that I will commit to offering a follow up review on. I am anxious to see the benefits of Bookworm Beauty’s journaling.

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August 26, 2016

Guest Post: Does a Stomach Disorder Mean that You are “Pepto-Bismol Deficient?” – by Keith Flint

Keith Flint - GodsWaterBoy.Com

Keith Flint – GodsWaterBoy.Com

I would like to propose a practical and logical discussion today!  My name is Keith Flint, also known as GodsWaterBoy.  Google GodsWaterBoy to see many pages of documents and various discussions that I have had about Kangen Water.

I was reminded recently of a statement a Friend of mine made recently, “When you have Acid Reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Digestive disorders, it is certainly a fact that you are not “Pepto-Bismol” deficient!

Why is it that today we create distress (disease) and then attempt to regulate the result with after market treatments or Prescription drugs?

Your Body was designed by your maker, to maintain and heal itself.  That is if you would focus on what the “Body” needs, not what you like or dislike.  Example, You drink Soda’s that are 5 orders of magnitude Acidic and your body goes into shock having to find a way to neutralize this attack on your Organs. It  has to rob the bones of Calcium, manufacture “Buffers” to stabilize and finally store it in Fat on the body to protect vital organs from destruction.

Go to a simple video that shows the comparisons of Bottled Water, Soda, GaterAid, etc.  Discover what you are not being told when you are being sold on their convenience.  <SEE HERE> (<– click to watch)

Your Body was designed to be serviced by your BLOOD! It is the delivery system for Nutrition, Oxygen, Hemoglobin, Energy and waste removal.

See the effect of one glass of Kangen Restructured water on a persons blood. <SEE 1 minute Video Here>

God designed your body PERFECTLY!  You have allowed our culture to destroy it with FAST FOOD, Convenience, Microwave Cooking, Chemical substances added to it, GMO alteration and convenience DRINKS instead of the simple choices. Particularly, the proper amount of water that YOUR BODY requires daily.  DO YOU DRINK A MINIMUM OF 1/2 Oz of water per pound weight DAILY?  If not, you are maintaining your body in a dehydrated condition.  Dehydration is the primary source of most all of our modern day “Disease Disorders” that Medical science has given names to.  Of course they choose to provide “Relief” from Symptoms rather than attempting to eliminate the CAUSE and have the symptoms gone.

You can attempt to provide Supplements, Nutrients, Detox protocols, etc, but if the Blood isn’t functioning optimally, less than 20% of what you are taking is likely to make it to where it is needed.  Wouldn’t it be smarter to give 20% of your daily dosage to each of your family members along with  yourself, because all of you are functioning with active Blood delivery? You would still be getting the same result that you now are getting, taking the full dose  yourself.

To really understand just how important the CHOICE of water is and What not to drink, review a private video site that I maintain for your visiting. I only require a first name and email to send you your personal password to access the information.  I do not hassle people, I educate and respond to their questions via text or phone calls.

my site is <HSCWater.net/keithf >

Blessings on you and your family. Be Healthy GODS way.

Keith Flint 720-281-3965

August 26, 2016

Best Phonics Resource EVER! (A Review)

I have always believed in a solid phonics foundation and with a new reader in the home, I was excited to have the opportunity to review the Can Do Cubes by jollyliteracy.com and just2ducks LLC.

The Boy is a little over 6 and entering first grade. He has been reading simple words for quite some time but has continued to struggle with the more advanced phonic rules. We have spent tremendous amount of time working through various books and trying to progress through the more difficult phonic rules. It has been a struggle. It has not been his inability to learn the rules as much as it just has not been of much interest for him… that is until the Can Do Cubes became a part of our homeschooling repertoire.

59 six-sided cubes, each bearing individual phonemes, arrived in a nicely organized box divided into two stages. Along with the cubes came an interactive DVD, two instruction booklets, two At-a-Glance Word Charts, a large Alphabetic Codes Overview chart and a Teacher’s Guide and Template Book (on CD).

I have a confession to make with this review. To be fair to a vendor and to provide a proper review, I always try and use a product exactly as it was intended. I had a much harder time with this particular product. The Boy and I tried to go through the instruction booklet and figure out where exactly to start him. While we were attempting to navigate it, he began picking up several cubes and rolling them like dice and then quickly tried to make a word (sometimes even made up words). After asking him to focus, I decided to join in and play for a while. We have had such a fantastic time just playing with the cubes. I began looking for harder words within the letters present and asking him to fish for them. Sometimes I just gathered up the cubes and made more difficult words for him. I noticed that he was more eager to 20160826_094247sound out a word on the cubes than he was from a book. What fun!

I would really like to say that we eventually got back with the program, but that would be a lie. We never did follow the program as it was intended. However, the Teacher’s Guide and Template Book on the CD has five pdf files: four different program levels, or the entire 133-page workbook (all four combined). I spent some time reviewing the four workbooks to see if The Boy had any “holes” in his learning that needed to be addressed. We used an afternoon to test through the 42 sounds that make up the Simple Code of the English language. He was able to correctly identify all but eight of them.

Identifying his level of understanding was paramount and allowed me to hone in on his weaknesses. We opened the pdf files on our tab and used the workbook interactively instead of printing it out onto paper. This has been a wonderful tool!

I am not sure that I will continue utilizing this program, as intended, but I will definitely continue using it as a resource and a reinforcing manipulative. The Boy always has a smile when we bring out the Can Do Cubes!

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