Another Summer Coming to an End

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It is official. Although we never really have a solid delineation between summer and school, because we continue to do at least some things throughout the summer, we still have a definite moment in which it is no longer summertime and school has official begun once again. For us, the moment is when the local public school is back in session and Bookworm Beauty is able to participate in sports with her friends once again. Yes, volleyball officially started today. Tomorrow is another line drawn in the sand as the kids return to their weekly homeschool enrichment program in town.

Our summer was filled with many wonderful adventures. I told myself that I was going to blog about each one throughout and then decided that I would rather keep some things a little less public.

At any rate, we visited the Garden of the Gods and the Colorado Paint Mines, the kids attended a week of summer camp (giving Handsome and I our first week completely alone since we have been married), they also entered art at the County Fair and each won money. We spent many hours in our pool, added turkeys to our farm, enjoyed wonderful conversations with amazing friends and the girls learned to sew! We witnessed the birth of puppies, visited family, planted a garden, saw some great movies, went to a baseball game, saw an eclipse and will be finishing the summer with a Bronco game. It has been busy. It has been full and it has been fun.

I guess I am ready for a rest. There is something about the routine and structure that comes with the fall and back to school that is just so welcoming this year.

I know, I know, it will not be long before you will hear me speak of longing for summer once again. This year I plan to enjoy each season to it’s fullest, even winter. I didn’t even say that through clenched teeth!

No-Nonsense Algebra: A Review

Products were provided to us through our participation of the Homeschool Review Crew for review purposes

Bookworm Beauty has always been fairly strong in math. We have rejoiced about her strengths over the years. Unfortunately, as her math level has increased her learning style has really become more evident and it has led us on a hunt to find a program that she learns well from. I have always found that several people can teach the exact same concept and only one persons explanation may actually “click” for someone. We were hopeful that No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials would generate her “aha” moments for learning algebra.

We received a physical book and access to online video lessons to coincide with the book. It is a simple program, almost too simple to feel complete. The full size 275-page consumable book contains a full year of algebra lessons, glossary, resources such as important formulas, important symbols, common prime numbers, etc, and answer pages.

Access to the online video lessons was as simple as visiting the website and plugging in the access code. Bookworm Beauty was set up to begin algebra within minutes of receiving our materials.

The video tutorials are short and simple, typically under ten minutes. They are whiteboard animation type lessons. The writing appears as the teacher explains the lesson and takes the student through the process of solving the equations.

Math is a daily subject for the students in our home. We believe it is essential for mastering math concepts. Bookworm Beauty is crossing over into the independent study realm and is doing far more schoolwork on her own. Math Essentials makes this an easy accomplishment for her. She logs into the daily lesson, watches the tutorial and then completes the worksheet in the book itself. On average, math has taken her less than a half an hour to complete the lesson for the day.

Notice the “-0” on the previous lesson!

No-Nonsense Algebra can be used as a curriculum or as a reinforcement to help a student master various skills in areas that he or she has struggled in. We were unsure as to whether or not we would use this program to meet the algebra requirement as a full program or as a resource. Upon receiving the program, Bookworm Beauty started at the very beginning which was a lot of review for her. The lessons were short and simple. She decided to try and skip forward to attempt some more difficult lessons. Knowing that she struggles with word problems, she jumped to the last chapter, Algebra Word Problems, and watched a video lesson online. She felt confident that she fully understood the process as she watched the lesson but found that she had a hard time remembering the steps once she opened the book. Fortunately, the book offers an introduction (overview) for each lesson, which she referred to. In the end, she still struggled through the section and she decided to go back to the lesson she was on near the beginning.

By the end of the book, students will have covered all of the basic algebra concepts including quadratic equations, polynomials, rational expressions, radical expressions, and more.

We are still unsure as to whether or not we will use this program in its entirety to meet her algebra requirements. If we decide to use another program, we are sure that we will keep this for reinforcement. It’s a simple program and can be taken along with us on road trips or used to get a different explanation for a type of problem that she is struggling to understand. Either way, we appreciate No-Nonsense Algebra.

It’s All Greek to Me!

Products were provided to us through our participation of the Homeschool Review Crew for review purposes

Foreign languages bring a richness to any education. There is something magical and simply beautiful about learning a second, or even a third language. Our homeschool has spent a lot of energy over the years on soaking up Spanish, primarily because it is a language Bookworm Beauty has excelled in and it seems to have a more practical use in our immediate world around us. However, when we were informed of the opportunity to study Biblical Greek with Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! – Level 2 Set by Greek ‘n’ Stuff, we were beyond ecstatic.

To give a bit of history, Greek had never been one of my top choices for a second language. I am not sure if it would have even been on my list, and I do not really know why that is. As we work through this program, I am actually saddened and wonder why we did not make this a priority sooner!

I would have liked to review Level 3 but having no real understanding of Greek, we determined that Level 2 would be a better option for us to review. We received a consumable workbook, an answer key and a pronunciation CD. My initial thoughts were that my package might have been missing pieces; as the foreign language products we have used in the past have consisted of multiple pieces or elements. After reviewing the items and verifying that everything was there, I was realizing that Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! could not be any simpler.

After spending less than a half an hour familiarizing myself with the workbook and reading the welcome letter, I felt fully prepared and was ready to get started. Simple.

We jumped right in and began our journey working through the Greek alphabet review, which was four lessons. This took several weeks for us, working approximately thirty minutes a day, a few days a week. Each of these four lessons were six pages in length and introduced, or reviewed, six alphabet letters. This would move faster for anyone that already knew the Greek alphabet and was simply reviewing it. I took the author to heart when she mentioned the importance of monitoring your child’s individual progress and mastery, as this is not a program to just work through and check it off of your list. It is critical that each area is mastered before moving on.

It was typical for us to spend around twenty minutes introducing two of the letters, their correct pronunciation (thanks to the CD), it’s proper writing formation and then spend a few minutes completing the practice worksheet. The second part of the lesson involved reviewing flashcards (provided in the back of the workbook). Our time varied with this portion as the kids began to get creative, making up games to go along with their study.

Racing to write the Greek alphabet… it was almost a tie… but Sweetness won this time!

Looking forward, after learning the alphabet, students are introduced to vocabulary words such as I know, a son, and an apostle. There are a total of eleven vocabulary words. Again, simple. I know that eleven words are certainly not enough to be considered fluent, but if after thirty lessons my children can recognize, recall and recite the entire Greek alphabet and eleven words through a simple and fun program, then I consider the program a huge success!

Greek lays the foundation for much of our English language, as well Biblical text. Because of this, I see this program as an introduction to a better understanding of the written Word. As a matter of fact, after walking with the Lord for over 25 years, I did not even know what an interlinear bible was (English, Greek and Hebrew parallel Bible for more in-depth study.) I can accredit Hey Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! For that knowledge nugget. I am really looking forward to developing my own understanding of Greek, as well, so that I can be less intimidated about studying the Word in it’s original written language. It is my understanding that the overall long term goal of the program is to lead to this specific point, making the intimidating simple.

Bookworm Beauty and Sweetness, playing one of their many games

In level 3, students begin to read an interlinear New Testament. I literally get goosebumps thinking about the kids being able to actually study the Word at this level, at their ages, not in their 40s! If a student continues even beyond that, she would be able to start reading a regular Greek New Testament, which would be really great, but honestly just being comfortable with an interlinear Bible is fabulous in itself.

In the end, I had plans initially to use the program with Bookworm Beauty only, but now I am finding the importance of learning Greek as a family and how that will impact our family Bible study time, in such a simple way too! I also realize that since both Sweetness (8) and The Boy (7) have been following along, I will need to hurry up and order them their own workbooks before we get too far!

I Didn’t Think Our Family Time Could Get Any Better

Products were provided to us through our participation of the Homeschool Review Crew for review purposes

Oh, the adventures we have been on, and it has been worth the wait! When I first started with the Review Crew, I quickly learned about the opportunities to review Heirloom Audio products. I also learned, just as quickly, how coveted those review spots were. Twice in the last two years, I was not given the privilege, but the third time was a charm! I literally squealed when I heard that I was selected to review In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions.

I could go on and on about many things pertaining to this audio drama. I could share about the historical story line and how the main character, a young man named Harry, visits France as the French Revolution broke out. I could also share about the caliber of actors and actresses that recorded the program. I could even share details of the sound effects that made this audio drama so captivating.

Instead I want to share about the things that I noticed in my home with this program. We really enjoy family read-alouds for our family time and are often in the middle of more than one great book. We also enjoy quality, family appropriate movies. It is only natural to assume that we would enjoy an audio drama as well, which we had not tried previously. Wow, were we missing out!

It seemed a bit difficult, at first, to get everyone together at the same time, but once we did it was amazing. I felt like we may have been experiencing entertainment similar to what my mother experienced as a child sitting in front of the radio, hanging on every word in the program. She would chuckle when she told us about how they would watch the radio the way we watched the television. I had a sense of nostalgic pride thinking of my mom that passed last year and what she would think of her grandchildren staring at the radio.

Even Jasper enjoys watching the radio during In the Reign of Terror.

I have to admit, I had a difficult time following the story and I really had to focus on paying attention. I know that I am not an audio learner and I even prefer subtitles on movies so that I can read through the movie. I was better prepared the second time we gathered together to listen to more of In the Reign of Terror. I had taken the time to visit Live the Adventure Club, Heirloom Audio’s fabulous family friendly educational entertainment website, that is simply above and beyond what I could have hoped for. As a side note*** anyone can enjoy a FREE 3-month trial of the Live the Adventure Club and also receive their newest release, Captain Bayley’s Heir, for $1!*** I logged into our Live the Adventure Club site and was able to open up the actual script for In the Reign of Terror. This was an amazing help for me to follow along. There is even the ability to have each individual word highlighted as the story is being told when you listen to the audio drama online. What an amazing feature for new or struggling readers! There is so much thought that went into the Live the Adventure Club website by Heirloom Audio Productions. I highly recommend that you visit the site and take advantage of the FREE 3-month trial. Members receive discounts on Heirloom Audio products, children can even earn additional discounts or credits for products by completing various kids activities.

Bookworm Beauty taking the Chapter 15 – Robespierre Quiz

In the Reign of Terror summary by Bookworm Beauty (12): a young British man named Harry went to France to teach a noble family (The Marquis) English while they would teach him French and their customs. While he was there, the Reign of Terror (the French Revolution happened.) The kids managed to escape the angry mob. While they were living in hiding the father and grandmother were caught and killed just for being a noble family and followers of the King and Queen.

While in hiding, Harry and his friend Victor went to see the sentencing of noble families. During that, Victor’s father was sentenced to death. His grief caused him to become ill. Harry went to get Victor’s fiance Marie Marquis. Harry tried to ensure that the coast was clear, but Marie couldn’t wait for him to get back and went on alone. A member of the Public Safety Committee took Marie to be held in jail until her sentencing…. To find out what happens next, you’ll just have to listen!

We also received and downloaded the 43-page Study Guide for In the Reign of Terror. The first time we sat to listen to the program, we had not yet taken advantage of the Study Guide. However, the second time, we were well armed to take advantage of all that we could learn from this program with this guide. Like most study guides, there are comprehension or discussion questions. First, there are Listening Well questions which are easy enough for even the younger kids. “What’s the name of the family dog?” is a great example of these questions. Then there are the Thinking Further, more difficult and thought-provoking questions such as, “In traditional etiquette, it’s improper for a man to shake a woman’s hand unless she offers it. Why do the rules of etiquette and courtesy make this difference between the way a man greets a man and the way he greets a woman?” The first question draws out a simple answer where the second question elicits discussion and enables us to further the kids’ understanding of times past as well as how it relates (or compares) to our culture today.

Coloring pages are available for download. This is a picture of Harry saving the girls from the mad dog.

To take things even further, there are Expand Your Learning sections that provide background, history, examples and more. We really enjoyed the section on 18th Century Fashion and getting a glimpse of what high fashion was like more than two hundred years ago.

There is even more. At the end of the study is a book list to further one’s study on the French Revolution as well as bible studies and historical background for In the Reign of Terror. We found that In the Reign of Terror is a fabulous audio drama that could be nothing more than great entertainment, or through the use of the additional tools available through Heirloom Audio, it could be a solid History supplement for any homeschool classroom.

I am thrilled to have finally been invited into the world of Heirloom Audio and I foresee our History studies becoming more alive and exciting than I could have imagined.