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Sep 18, 2017

Barbour Publishing ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


Today, Xavier and I are writing to tell you about Barbour Publishing's new Imagine Series for the middle grades.  We were given Imagine. . .The Great Flood for review.  You can read an excerpt from Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich at the Barbour Publishing website if you'd like to get a feel for the story.


This 112 page paperback takes place at the time of the Flood of the Bible.  This chapter book is fiction for ages 8-12.  I found that to be an accurate range for readability and content, though there are a few short, intense sections for younger readers.

Normally, I would read a book like this aloud to all of my punks, but this is how it came down in our house this time.  I read the excerpt ("read a chapter," which is linked on the book page), which is actually about 2.5 chapters.  I let Xavier (age 10) read the download as well, to gauge his interest.  The sample ends just as the book is getting exciting (clever), so he certainly did want to finish reading it.  When the book arrived, he took off with it and finished it in about a day.  He is turning into a voracious reader.  Then I never saw it again until a week ago when I told him I also needed to finish reading it for this review!  I then finished it up in an afternoon of several interruptions.  All that to say, it is not a long or difficult read, but you may need to help a bit with some names and words.

The book begins in modern day Texas with Corey, his mom, and their dog Molly.  Corey is unhappy about his family's impending move to Florida for his dad's employer.  Corey's mom wisely tells him, "... sometimes things change, but God never changes."  Shortly after their conversation, Corey falls in the woods and hits his head.  He wakes up in Mesopotamia 2400BC.  He is quickly joined by Noah's son Shem who immediately welcomes him into his family and the ark, then enlists his help guiding the animals to Noah.


Shem and Corey are attacked several times by the nephilim (giants) and later also by Elizar, some sort of sorcerer.  They even face betrayal!  When it begins to rain, all of the local people also want to enter the ark.  Obviously, that isn't going to happen!  Corey is drowning and the story allows us to think it is Noah pulling him out of the water, but in the end, he is waking up in the forest where he was first injured.  We immediately are whisked to Florida three months later, with no further information.

Corey's adventures help him to see many parallels between his real life and what he was experiencing both during the adventure and after, in his new home in Florida.  He learns to rely on God and he often prays in times of trouble, throughout the book.  His reliance on God is definitely a main feature in the story.

I was left wondering what exactly was the point, though.  Many questions were left unanswered.  Here are a few:
  • Who did Corey see and hear in the woods when he blacked out?  He sees a man near Molly and hears someone say, "Open his eyes," and yet, the book takes us, not really back to the woods, but to a beach in Florida three months later.
  • Why did Elizar, the bad guy, want Shem's staff so badly?  Shem mentions that as long as he holds the staff the animals will obey him, but that staff is broken.  I'm assuming the replacement staff has the same quality, but by this point in the story, it is obvious to *everyone* that the world is going to be completely flooded, just as Noah said.  (I'm *pretty* sure Noah and his family did not need a staff to control the animals.)
  • *Why* did this whole thing even happen?  I get that the story is meant to show Corey relying on God even when it seemed it would do no good.  Several times parallels are drawn between his modern situation and the Mesopotamian adventure.  I didn't think it really exposed a solid reason for the events Corey experienced.

All in all, it was a decent "kid adventure."  I had to reread the Biblical account due to the amount of embellishment, but any time you are sent to read the Bible isn't really a bad thing.  In Genesis 7:11, we can read that "...all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."  So while the nephilim's fight with Noah's family is fictitious, the broken earth with water gushing from it seems to be factual.  Elizar was made up, but he mentions his master, presumably Satan, and multiple gods which were certainly a terrible influence on people of that time.



IMAGINE... The Great Flood

What did Xav think? 
It was a good book.  It was easy to read.  It was about how hard it was for Noah's family to build the ark even though other people made fun of them and wanted to destroy it.  I liked it when the giant got bit on the leg by the lions protecting Corey.  It was exciting when Corey went down the rapid river.  I think the giants died on the river bank when they tried to catch him.  I think Corey got sent back to the flood time so he would think about moving and that other people sometimes have to move, too.  But Noah's family relied on God.
I'm not exactly in agreement with all of his points, but I can understand where he picked them up.

About the Author
Matt Koceich is a public educator, living with his family in Texas.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood is not as much Biblical fiction as fiction that just happens to be set at a Biblical event.  And, yes, there is a fine line between the two.  *smile*  If that detail is "no big whoop" to you and you are looking for some clean, wholesome reading, there are more books planned for the Imagine Series.  The second release in this Bible adventure series for kids, Imagine...The Ten Plagues, will be available in March 2018.

Find Barbour Publishing on social media.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}

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Steamtown Part 1 ~ Field Trip Friday {AKA V is for Vacation}




A couple of weeks ago (or way more now!), I told you about the trip we took to Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY.  While we really enjoyed seeing April the Giraffe, Oliver, and Tajiri, and the other animals, the main vacation destination was Steamtown in Scranton, PA.  I may have mentioned a time or two that the punks [warning: understatement ahead] like trains.  Dad planned the whole trip as a surprise.  And happily, Xav is a fourth grader and Steamtown is managed by the National Park Service.  That means we all received FREE admission through the Every Kid in a Park program.  Truthfully, admission isn't that high anyway.  The entrance fee was, surprisingly, only $7 per person for ages 16+.  Extra charges applied only to the Scranton Limited train ride which was $5 each, ages 6+.

Today, I'm just sharing the basics for this destination.  There was FAR too much to cover in one post.


First, we drove to Scranton on the 4th of July.  It was not as terrible as you might imagine and that was probably due to the fact it was a Tuesday.  We stayed at a hotel with a pool and that is basically enough to keep the boys happy.   HOWEVER, we were able to see multiple firework shows throughout the town from both the pool and our room.



The punks didn't actually know in advance where we would be going.  We told them before bed that night and, let's just say the response left a lot to be desired.  They were so "meh" about the whole thing.  All I did was hope they would be way more excited when they actually got it.  Merrick also got a little surprise that night.  He got a cute little indoor tent in which to spend the night.  Three boys in a queen size bed is a no go.  Two in the same bed leads to plenty of kicking, pushing, and growling until sleep is finally reached.

In the morning, we had breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts just down the road, then we headed straight to Steamtown.  I wish I had a video of the punks' reactions!  My preteen boys, literally, squee-ed when they got the first glimpse in the parking lot.  "It's the Big Boy, the Union Pacific Big Boy!"  Sadly, I thought the Big Boy was in pretty rough shape.  The boys thought it was the most incredible thing they'd ever seen.  Maybe it was... so far!


We didn't stay outside for long, though.  We had a train to catch!  Xav got his official "every kid in a park" card, we paid for our train tickets and headed inside.  We didn't have long to wait for our train ride and since that was almost the first thing we did there, I'm including it here.  Everything else we did will be in next week's Steamtown Part 2 post.



First, let me tell you, I was *shocked* to learn that, until the 1980s, Steamtown was located in Vermont!  Then the funniest thing happened.  Our guide turned out to be from Vermont and, until a few years ago, worked for the same company Daddy did.  Small world.

This is what happens when you wait too long to write up your post, you forget details.  I could research these details, but since I'm not finding them quickly, I'm just going to have to let them go.  *tries not to sing*  You can thank me later.  Anyway, we learned about the family who ran the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.  This was one of the earliest rail lines in northeastern Pennsylvania.


This Ramada Inn used to be the Train Station.  We didn't go inside, but did see some pictures online.  The family certainly believed in doing things up lavish-like.

We need a Part 2 post because I took so many pictures of our day, it wasn't even funny, but I knew I'd need them for the Train class at our co-op.  *justifies*



Homeschool Discount -Discount for 4th graders and their families, but not for homeschoolers specifically.  Reasonably priced, either way.
Educational - History, Science, Technology, Art, Math (in the gift shop!)
Family Oriented - Yes.
Duration of Visit - 6 hours+.



A Net In Time Schooling


Sep 12, 2017

Progeny Press, The Silver Chair ~ A Homeschool Crew Review



Progeny Press is a company which produces quality literature study guides written from a Christian perspective.  The Gilleland family homeschools and operates Progeny Press.  Some guides are written by the Gillelands and some by others.  Each unit study is peer reviewed by pastors and teachers before release. 


My punks are getting older, and the literature they read should also be aging with them.  We enjoy the Narnia series and were happy to read one book of C.S. Lewis' famous saga for this unit.  The Silver Chair E-Guide (Grades 5-7) by Carol Clark, is an interactive guide, as are all the electronic titles in grades 4-12.  This means that the 52 page file can be opened in Adobe Acrobat or other PDF reader and filled out on the computer.  The student can then use the Save As feature to save the e-guide with their work in the document.  A parent or teacher then can use the included answer key to check the students answers.  Many of the answers are in a short essay style and could not be automatically graded, regardless.


Silver Chair - E-Guide

It was simple to download the interactive e-guide and answer key.  A copy of The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis is required to complete the e-guide.  You can order a copy of the book from Progeny Press or elsewhere, check the library, or look on your shelf at home.  I have learned the hard way to check my bookshelf first!  Though you may want to save the money by borrowing from the library, due to the time commitment it would make more sense to borrow from a friend or purchase a copy.   You'll also need a Bible, a dictionary, and a thesaurus.

The Silver Chair Study Guide is available as the instant interactive e-guide, on CD, and as a printed workbook.  Each version has different aspects that you might want to consider before making your purchase.  The e-guide provides instant access and is reproducible within a family or classroom.  It cannot be resold like a book, nor can it be returned for refund.  I really appreciate the instant access of the e-guide and that I can use this again when Merrick is older.

The length of time required to complete a Progeny Press Study Guide is approximately two months or more.  The earlier grades do take less time than the upper grades, though.  In The Silver Chair E-Guide, you cover two to four chapters at a time.  If you are new to Progeny Press, I do suggest you read over the short Note to Instructor.  It's only a page or so, and will give you a rough outline of how the guide is intended to be used and how to use them for high school credits, as well as a bit of other information about usage.

The first few pages also include a brief synopsis of the book and an author biography.  Prereading Activities are suggested for the first week.  In this particular middle school level e-guide, reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is recommended as one of the main characters in The Silver Chair happens to have already visited Narnia in that installment.  Other ideas include learning about caves and researching "allusion" and related places/things from the novel.

Then the lit guide really begins with five pages covering chapters 1-2, with "Vocabulary" written in context, "Questions" about the actual text of the story (#5 List the four things Jill is to remember.), "Thinking about the Story" (foreshadowing, simile, etc), "Dig Deeper" (which requires a bit more thought to answer and also brings in Bible ties), and two Optional Activities.  Each week is similar, sometimes requiring Bible readings, dictionary searches, or suggesting discussion or writing topics.

The e-guide ends with some after reading activities which include writing, drawing, and designing activities.  This is followed by a list of related book titles.  Some are other of C.S. Lewis books and others are just books that readers of The Silver Chair might enjoy.  Several of the books in the list also have corresponding guides available from Progeny Press.

The nine page answer key arrives as a separate file.  It is just the answers.  While some of the answers can only be right or wrong, some of the answers are a bit more essay style and will be up to a bit of interpretation.  To grade the subjective answers, a parent or teacher would be required to also be familiar with the book.  I always enjoy these questions with Xavier.  He (ALWAYS) has a lot to say, but it's nice to chat with him about how he felt about an event that happened or how a person behaved, rather than Lego or Minecraft!


We did not use The Silver Chair E-Guide every day.  It was summer after all, and though we school year round, the punks definitely deserve some short days or even days off in this very abbreviated Vermont season.  We do sometimes do more than one page in a day, though, so having finished reading chapter nine and completed the corresponding section of the guide, we are more than half way through the study guide in about 6 weeks.  We discuss different parts of the book as well as completing the work in the guide, but we don't really do much with the Optional Activities section.  The activities look great and I'd love to do them, but the punks are on the low end of the range for this e-guide and I opted to keep us moving through the book (which keeps them attentive) rather than have them spend a considerable amount of time on the extra things.  You know your family best and I'm sure many fifth graders would enjoy that part.  I know *I* would have, once upon a time.

I read the book out loud, completing the chapters for the section before we started the Q&A parts.  Many of the questions, we answered orally as we sat together.  Sometimes, this works great for us and other times, Xavier monopolizes the question and answer session and I have to be very intentional about giving Malachi the opportunity to give his answers.  He tends to automatically answer, "I don't know," without giving it any real thought, while Xav is chomping at the bit to respond.  I have to back one up and just sit and wait while the other thinks it through.  Do you have that one kiddo who just wants to answer everything like it's a race?  Having them write answers is more time consuming, but often gives my "reluctant to answer" child a chance to shine.

Another thing we do a bit differently with the literature study e-guides from Progeny Press is *not* using them on the computer.  With two of them working on the computer, it would take forever as they are not good typists yet.  But Mal has a real issue with writing spaces and oversized letters.  Last time I reviewed a Progeny Press study guide (The Sword in the Tree), I realized I could add lines in the editable section of the file.  Then I save it that way and now when I print the pages, lines are already there for him to write on and guide him to consistently size his letters.


We're enjoying The Silver Chair and the Study Guide for Literature.  The punks are improving thinking, vocabulary, and writing skills.  I was surprised how attentive they are becoming as they get older.  As soon as I mentioned that the woman with the knight wore a green dress, Xav shouted, "Wait a minute, a green dress?" and the wheels were turning.

Others in The Crew are also reviewing The Silver Chair E-Guide as well as several other Progeny Press literature study guides.  Click the banner below to see what they thought about these guides.

I previously reviewed an upper elementary e-guide written for The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla.  While the guides are very similar, there is a marked difference in the reading and comprehension level required for the middle school level e-guide and book, The Silver Chair.
The Mission of Progeny Press
"To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"


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Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}


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Carole P. Roman, Author ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


It's fun when a vendor I enjoyed comes back to The Crew another time.  Carole P. Roman
 is one of those well loved authors in this house and the punks were happy to read more of her If You Were Me and Lived In... Historical series.  They received two surprise books as well and one of them has also been added to the "well loved" bookshelf.



The four paperback books we received are:

Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag
7-12 years old, 34 pages, illustrated by Mateya Arkova.

Books by Carole P Roman

Poor Susannah has an awful day.  It starts with *oatmeal* for breakfast and ends with a terrible nightmare about a giant, stinky backpack.  When Susannah's parents comfort her and give her practical help getting through all that *stuff,* she finds out that taking care of the small things when they are small saves us from a stressful mess later.

The punks really enjoyed this story.  I read it aloud, even though it's a very short book (a nice change of pace for a read aloud).  I felt so bad for Susannah, as I read about her day, especially her interactions with her parents.  I self-consciously worried that the boys were comparing our sometimes busy days to Susannah's.  Just when I was feeling terribly guilty, one of the punks mentioned how lucky he was that our family isn't like that.  *whews*

Don't worry.  They work it all out in the end.  And there is a sequel.  Xav was very disappointed that the book ended in somewhat of a cliffhanger.  "That," she explained to her mother with a sleepy yawn, "is another story."   I guess I'll be getting part two, Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump, soon.

Winner of:
NABE Pinnacle Award 2017 - Best Book in the category of Children's Chapter Book
2017 Reader's Favorite  Children's 4th-6th Grade  Bronze

Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?
5-8 years old, 36 pages, illustrated by Mateya Arkova.

Books by Carole P Roman

I didn't expect much interest in this very girly tale, what with a houseful of punks.  Mal picked it up, after I placed it strategically on top of a book pile.  He glanced through it.  Xav asked where it came from.  Then they said, "Please finish reading It's in the Bag."
Winner of:
Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
2017 Independent Press Award Distinguished Favorites - Children's Inspirational
2017 International Book Awards Finalist - Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction
2017  Gold Medal Reader's Favorite Children Concept

Now, a few things about the If You Were Me and Lived in... series.  The illustrations are by various artists throughout the series.  We really get a lot out of the books.  The books answer pretty much every question you might have about each time period: how families lived, what people wore, what they ate, and how they made a living.  Each book has a sort of main character, who is a young boy or girl.  Unfamiliar words are shown somewhat phonetically.  "Your name might have been Knut (Kah-noot) or Ulf (Ul-uff) if you were a boy, and Sigrid (Seeg-freed) or Hilde (Hill-da) if you were a girl."  The book after that is specifically about this boy or girl and their family.

This series is suggested for ages 8-15.  I don't think that children much over 12 will really get a lot out of them, if the time or place is at all familiar to them.  The writing is large and covers, at most, 1/2 of a two page spread.  These are *great* books for the younger end of the range, though, and are packed with a ton of topics.
If You Were Me and Lived in... Elizabethan England
8-15 years old, 50 pages, illustrated by Paula Tabor.

Books by Carole P Roman

I was really excited to receive this edition of the If You Were Me... series.  We attend a renaissance faire every summer and I share a birthday with Good Queen Bess.  Not the same year, obviously!  Suffice it to say, this specific book was high on my list last year as well as this year.

In this installment of the If You Were Me and Lived In... series, we meet the child of a busy baker.  You learn how she lives in the city, how her grandmama lives in the country, and how the wealthy sometimes built their houses into an E shape in the queen's honor.  She attend a St. Bartholomew's Fair (which really reminds me of the Sterling festival), you learn about the currency of Elizabethan England, and there's a certain scandal about her brother!  Shakespeare's Globe Theater gets a brief mention as does the changeability of religious denomination, depending on the current ruler of England's beliefs.

At the end of the book there is a brief biography of eight important people of the time, including Francis Bacon, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Walter Raleigh.  It finishes with a glossary with over six pages of important people, events, places, and items of import mentioned in the book and pertaining to the Elizabethan Era of 1588-1603.

Winner of:
Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
2016 Homeschool Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards - Favorite History Supplement
Shelf Unbound 2016 Contest winner for Best Series
2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist

If You Were Me and Lived in... Viking Europe  
8-15 years old, 76 pages, illustrated by Mateya Arkova

Books by Carole P Roman

You've heard of vikings having a surname after their father (Ericson - son of Eric), apparently, daughters were also similarly named (Ericdottir - daughter of Eric).  I had no idea.  In this book, Carole talks about the travels of Vikings, to start new settlements, to trade with other civilizations, and to conquer new areas.  There are three classes in Viking Europe, you'd really not want to be a thrall.  The boy in this book can't wait to be old enough to go on an adventure on the seas upon his father's ship.

The foods were *very* different from anything I am used to eating, especially the meats.  Men and boys hunted and fished, and girls gathered and grew some food.  Then the women would put up the food for the very long winter.  Looms and spinning wheels were an important part of every household.  Older boys were fostered out to other families to create bonds with allies.  Girls married in their teens, and though they had no say in the matter, it seems they could divorce their husbands if he was abusive.  Six of the Norse gods are mentioned, and a grandmother who makes potions and casts spells.  It's all very matter of fact and limited to a few sentences, so didn't bother me, but I did want to give a heads up about it.

The book finishes up with a bit about eight important Viking men and women, followed by the nearly seven page glossary.


Winner of:
2016 Homeschool Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards - Favorite History Supplement
Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
Shelf Unbound 2016 Contest winner for Best Series
NABE Fall 2016 Pinnacle Book Achievement Best Books in the Category of Writing Winner
2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist
2017 Reader's Favorite Silver Medal Nonfiction Historical

I previously reviewed If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient Greece and three other If You Were Me... books.


A nice bonus for these books is included on Carole's blog.  Some of the books in this series have a set of questions for discussion and even writing prompts for deeper thinking.  I found these very helpful on the second read through of the books.  I don't consider them worksheets, per se, but you could use them in that way, if you wanted to.  I LOVE this book series.  I think it is a fun way to pack a lot of information into a small package and could be used for a jumping off point for many, many rabbit trails for curious learners.

Carole P. Roman has authored more than 35 children's books and series.  Carole's books have, collectively, won over 100 awards.  She started writing on a dare and began the Captain No Beard series, in which the captain and his crew learn to navigate relationship issues like patience and bullying. 

You can find Carole P. Roman on social media.
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The rest of the Crew read some of Carole's other books.  You can check them out through the banner below.


Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Sep 6, 2017

Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box Tract ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


If you or your church are looking for child evangelism tools, I am definitely recommending Let the Little Children Come.  Today, I'm just writing about one item they have available, but I have an assortment of children's tracts to help you share the beautiful salvation message.  I'll be telling you more about the others another day.  For now, I'm sharing this adorable little pumpkin halloween tract candy holder.


The Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract comes in a set of 20 pumpkin shaped boxes.  They are made of sturdy, glossy cardstock imprinted with a pumpkin design on the one side and a gospel message of salvation on the flip side.  You simply and easily punch out the template.  The pumpkin is made by folding in the six individual "petals."  Two of them have little stems on the end that hold the entire thing together.


I appreciated that this halloween tract is not frightening.  I don't mean frightening because it's halloween related, I mean frightening in the fire and brimstone kind of way.  Does that tactic ever work?  I just can't imagine Jesus wanting children coming to him only because they are terrified.

These little pumpkins are about 2x3 inches when closed, so there are plenty of small treats that will fit in them.  I managed to try out a few candies here.  Some things that fit:
  • funsize/bitesize candy bars (I tried an individual peanut butter cup and a tiny pack of three whoppers.)
  • a few hard or chewy candies (I had zotz, sweetarts, laffy taffy, pack of two starburst, and they all fit.)
  • licorice (With some coiling, I got two individual twizzlers in the pumpkin.)
  • a lollipop (My caveat with this, the stick was a bit long and I tore the last petal when I closed it up.  I bet a safety pop with no stick would work well.)
  • Candy corn and other small candy (which would need to be bagged up to keep them inside the pumpkin).
  • Pumpkin Spice tea bags!  (Trust me on this.  Have a MOPS group at your church?  Do you host a "tea and testimony" or similar get together?  Moms would take these home and show these to their children while sipping a lovely cup of tea.)


There are many uses for these little pumpkins.  There are the obvious Trick or Treaters, Trunk or Treaters, and harvest festival attendees.  I thought about giving these to the students in my co-op class about Native Americans, when we discuss harvesting at Thanksgiving.  But every year, I half-heartedly consider reverse trick or treating at a local nursing home.  That's where the trick or treaters dress up and deliver treats to the residents.  Our co-op is having it's second annual service day in the middle of October and one of the things we did last year was prepare music for them and "do the chatting."  That would be another great option.

A few other ideas for handing these out could include opening them with your Sunday school class or youth group, handing them out with the youth group, scavenger hunts (which the Dad is very good at organizing), table favors for harvest dinners, or as a gift at a reading of The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs. There are so many ways these versatile little boxes can be used.


I wish they could be folded in a way that enabled unfolding the "petals" in order.  By that, I mean the first you unhook would be #1, the second #2, and so on.  Numbers 1 and 4 are across from each other on the open template and have the stems, so they need to be closed first.  The only problem I see with the numerical opening order is that the numbers on the open segments could not circle round the template 1-6.  But I think being able to *read the message in order* as the pumpkin is opened would make more of an impact.

By the way, the answer to the question "Is there anything better than candy?" is YES!  "It's being God's friend."  This tract *sweetly* explains God's love, Christ's sacrifice, and how to accept this special gift of salvation.

Next month, I'll be telling you a bit about some other child evangelism products available from Let the Little Children Come.

Find Let the Little Children Come on Facebook.
  
Is There Anything Better Than Candy?  {Let The Little Children Come Reviews}

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Aug 29, 2017

A Journey Through Learning ~ A Homeschool Crew Review


A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks are an enjoyable introduction to many topics.  If you have crafty, hands on type kids and your family appreciates unit studies, like we do, they will love the variety of components in these lapbook units.  I received a download version of The Greatest Inventors.  I chose that study because the punks are very interested in learning about inventors.  The best part was that some of the inventors covered in this study are people they had never heard of and I may not have even thought to mention to them under other circumstances.

A Journey Through Learning

The 66 page The Greatest Inventors lapbook is for children in grades 2-8.  A study guide is included and provides all of the information needed to complete the lessons.  It's available both as a PDF ($8) or a printed color copy mailed to you ($18).


The unit requires basic lapbooking supplies; mainly file folders, glue, scissors, writing utensils, and a stapler.  Of course, for the PDF version, you'll need a computer and printer.

Once I downloaded the lapbook, all I needed to do to get started was prepare the file folders and print the components.  Inventors is a rather large lapbook set, requiring *three* file folders.  For small lapbooks, I generally don't do the refolding of the file folders and just rearrange a couple of components.  This time, though, not refolding the file folders would have meant making myself more work.  I don't like more work.  It was easy to teach the bigger punks how to make the 3 folder booklets.  Even Merrick (K/1st) learned to fold the folders and glue them together to make this giant lapbook.


All of the instructions for assembling the file folders and making, folding, and placing the minibooks are easy to follow.  Once the folders were prepared and the components were printed, the punks got to do their favorite part.  They each created and drew an invention of their own to add to the covers.


The included study guide has a page or two of information to help the students complete the components that follow it.  While I think it is "enough" information for the early elementary grades, I thought the older punks needed supplemental information.  One of the pages included at the end of the lapbook is a booklist for recording other books that are being read to complement the study guide.  We have loads of books that could be connected to The Greatest Inventors lapbook, so that was simple enough and didn't even require a trip to the library.


Along with that reading record, I found some notebooking and enrichment pages, a book report template, narration pages for the littles, and an outline form.  We didn't use the outline form at all yet, but I can see it is going to be invaluable in helping the boys learn how to organize information they want to write about.  I love it!


There are 21 minibook components in this lapbooking unit, seven for each folder.  The inventors run the gamut - across the centuries (1400s-1900s) and from the obvious choices (Ben Franklin and Leonardo DaVinci) to lesser known, but important inventors through history that I might not have even thought of on my own (George Eastman and John Deere).  George Stephenson was probably the favorite in this house!

All the inventors featured in this study are
  • Johannes Gutenberg
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • John Deere
  • Wilber and Orville Wright
  • Guglielmo Marconi
  • George Eastman
  • Louis Braille
  • Eli Whitney
  • Leonardo daVinci
  •  Robert Fulton
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Galileo Galilei
  • George Stephenson
  • Thomas Edison
  • Jonas Salk
  • George Washington Carver
  • Henry Ford
  • Alexander Graham Bell

The minibooks can be a simple, single fold, a tri-fold, or accordion fold.  Some are pages of various widths or heights that can be stacked and act as tabs for the recorded information.  

I like how easy, A Journey Through Learning has made placing the minibooks in the file folders.  There is a handy guide in the upper corner of each component page which shows placement and explains exactly how to assemble the minibook and what to record in the spaces of each book.  Either there are questions to answer, something to draw, or something to restate in your own words.

Oops!  That one page did confuse me for a minute.  Ben Franklin had that placement in folder #1!

This video that explains What is a Lapbook.  In it, they walk you step by step through building the Light lapbook.  Check it out.

This is a great little inventor study!  The rest of The Crew reviewed this lapbook as well as a few others.  Are you and your family taking part in Classical Conversations?  How about Apologia's science curriculum?  A Journey Through Learning has lapbooks to accompany your studies.  But the great thing about their lapbooks is this - you don't even *have* to be studying something already.  You can choose from, literally, hundreds of titles that can stand on their own!  AJTL has single folder ("express") lapbooks to as many as three folders, like our Greatest Inventors lapbook.  Click the banner below to read about some of the other options.

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Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Aug 26, 2017

Lamplighter Ministries' Book Bindery ~ Field Trip Friday


I know!  I haven't even told you about our Steamtown trip yet!  But I really want to share this wonderful unplanned guided tour we experienced in Mount Morris, NY.  I didn't even know this was a thing until I saw this post on The Facebook.


The book bindery is smack dab in the middle between two sets of grandparents.  The folks at Lamplighter very graciously arranged to give us the guided tour within just a couple hours of contacting them.  We headed to the guild house and were met by Oscar, a very kind and patient young man, which is a huge plus with these three punks.  I don't know if you remember, but The Crew reviewed The Secret Bridge earlier this year.  As we walked in the front door, we saw a shelf of hundreds of Lamplighter volumes, and there was The Secret Bridge.  Merrick heard me mention it to Oscar and he shouted, "I didn't know you had a secret bridge!"  Well, there wasn't a real secret bridge, but little did we know, we were going to find out about another "secret."

{Click on any of these pictures to enlarge them!}


We headed toward the back of the lovely old "home" and passed an office where President Mark Hamby sat chatting with a couple of other employees.  Everyone was all smiles and so kind to greet us!  Back a bit farther, we met Peter, the marketing guy.  He and I had a nice chat about The Crew, The Secret Bridge, it's sister book (The Secret Cove), and reading books because our kids want to hear them.  :)  The punks were very curious, but were able to keep their bodies under control.

Next we headed back into shipping where Sarah was busy packaging up books.  Here were more books on shelves.


Then, just as it started to rain, we headed to the old church across the yard.  This is where all the action was.  I admit, I was surprised how small the room was, but it held so much!  Several large pieces of equipment, a few books in various stages of completion, and three lovely, friendly girls working busily.

I'm afraid I've forgotten the name of the girl who walked us through each phase of the book binding process.  First, she showed us the uncut book pages.  Four copies of the same page on each sheet and each book was separated by a yellow sheet of paper.  It was a HUGE stack.  The book title was actually *not* in the catalog we picked up while we were there.  Hmmm....
(ETA: It *is* on the website, though.)



Next we looked at the guillotine which chopped those stacks into four individual books.

We saw how the pages are glued together after being cut.  The machine that applied the glue was so fast I couldn't get a clear picture!


The empty covers were neat to see.  We folded one to see how it would work and noticed it was blank!  There were blue, red, and purple covers in the bindery that day.


The books are stamped for each color, so this was stamped once for black and once for the gold foil.  The spine and the front are done separately.


then the books are laid over the vertical piece in the photo below, coated with a glue, and placed inside the covers.


That's basically it, but it was quite fascinating to watch.  Especially since about half a dozen books in various stages of completion were in the room.


Now we know how the books are made with love and care, but there was more.  We stepped into a hallway and Oscar tried to ask a few questions, but the fans were pretty loud.  I wish we could have finished the conversation there, because once we moved on, it was a lot harder to keep their attention!

First, we walk in and see this amazing sanctuary.  "With books.  Scads of books!  Mountains of books!  Forests of books!  Cascades!"  So beautiful and wonderful.  While I'm agog at all the books, Merrick was quizzing Oscar about the pew kneelers!  We chatted with Oscar some more and I pointed out the gorgeous pipe organ.


That's when he showed us the secret.


Inside this organ, there is a recording studio!  Podcasts are recorded there.  Oscar "interviewed" the punks about their breakfast and told them, if they had been recording a podcast right then, there would be notes on the center table telling them important things like the nutritional information about their cereal and any other things they might need during the show.



Then we got to shop the sanctuary!  It really was overwhelming.  I'd heard of some of the stories available, but there were so many that were unfamiliar.  I was sure a couple of boys would choose Trusty the Train books, and they did!  I selected Teddy's Button on audio so we could listen in the car on the way back to Vermont.  Then I made the wise decision that I needed more help making the rest of my decisions!  Oscar asked some great questions to get a feel for what I was looking for and made some excellent suggestions.  Then it was just Xavier who hadn't chosen a book yet.  He told Oscar he wanted a book for BOYS, that was exciting, and in which no one died.

So, we made our selections and brought them back to Sarah in shipping who rang us up and sent us on our way.  It was a wonderful way to spend part of an afternoon.

Thank you so much, Lamplighter Ministries, Oscar, and everyone else at the book bindery.  You may have an intern from this house in your house someday!




"Scads of books!  Mountains of books!  Forests of books!  Cascades!"
~ Cogsworth and Lumiere ~