Cutest Blog and Widdlytink

My Stick Family from

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.

Find A Journey Through Learning on social media.
Twitter    @AJTL_lapbooks

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 ~

Aug 17, 2017

Day 4 Outside the Home ~ Back to Homeschool 2017

Do you school all by your onesies?  Did you know you don't have to?  Certainly, you *can* but if you'd rather not, there are so many options "out there."  Right now, on a local homeschooling facebook group there are applications for new co-ops, listings for art, open gym, nature, just about anything you could want.  It's pretty amazing and I'm so glad we're schooling in the here and now and not back in the "olden days" of homeschooling.

Today, I'm sharing some of the things we like to do outside of our homeschool.  This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities, just what we manage to fit in.

  1. Co-op.  This is our ninth year in our co-op, we started when Mal was four and Xav was two.  Our little group has been around for over 25 years, so it's pretty established and there is a waiting list.  We keep it between 20-25 families or so.  Parents teach the classes that last the full year (16-18 meeting days).  The off weeks, we usually have a field trip, ski lessons, or skating.  Classes range from academic to fun (although, they can be both!).  I guess what I really mean is core or electives.  The students are aged three to seniors in high school.  Babies and toddlers stay in the nursery or with Mom.  I've taught such courses as Stop-Motion animation, Walk Like the Animals (where the kiddos did, literally, learn how to walk like a different animal every week, as well as lots of other fun things about the animal), and Magic School Bus classes.  This year, I'll be teaching classes about native Americans, spies, and helping in a train class.
  2. Sports.  Some schools (depending on your state or district) allow homeschoolers to participate in sports.  Recreation departments, the Y, and private instructors are all options, too.  Xav has attended PE classes at the local elementary school.  Mal receives private instruction in Tae Kwon Do at another nearby school.  They've had swimming instruction through a rec department and a private instructor.  Xav and Merrick have also attended gymnastics camps.  We've even gotten archery and ski lessons through our co-op.
  3. Libraries.  We have no fewer than four library cards.  I see at least one more in our near future.  Libraries off so many fun opportunities and neat programs.  We often attend a nature class.  They have reading clubs, crafts, and story hours.  
  4. Field trips!  I love field trips.  (And I'm laughing now, because I typed fiend trips.)   We've been to zoos, corn mazes, cider mills, water parks, historical sites, state parks, fire departments, police departments, a castle, the Moving Wall (Vietnam Memorial), a granite quarry, a goat dairy, museums, planetariums, aquariums, science centers...  Are you getting some good ideas?
There are so many other places to school "outside the home" (including nature!), but that's the bulk of the not-at-home education my punks receive.  I hope you're feeling inspired and find something fun to do outside *your* home next time a funky school day gets you all down.

ETA:  We haven't done *all* of these things at once, or even on any given year!  Do what fits your lifestyle and personalities.  Happy Homeschooling!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Aug 16, 2017

Day 3 Planning/Record Keeping ~ Back to Homeschool 2017

I used to plan everything.  I like knowing *exactly* what to expect.  While I still like knowing ahead of time {When are we going?  What are we doing?  Who will be there?}, I often am more of a "wing it" kind of person.  If someone else wants to involve me in something, I still like to know all about it, but when it's my deal, I'm more willing to wing it.  I have at least one kiddo who is just like me, though.  He needs to know all the details ahead of time if I want him to do something or go somewhere.

I guess I'm somewhere in between when it comes to homeschool planning.  Things change around here pretty regularly because of The Crew.  My commitments to that keep me planning and help me stay on track on everything else, too.  I mentioned yesterday that one of my must haves is my planner.  I won a Well-Planned Day planner one winter.  I spent the next few months with it and realized how very much I liked it.  Ever since then, I've purchased one during the pre-sale in the spring.  Well, except this year because the only shipping option was $10 priority for an item which wouldn't even be ready for weeks, *ahem*  but I did get it again this year.  And I'm pretty sure I will next year.

While I make sure to add my Crew commitments ahead of time, I'm a little more loosey-goosey with other plans.  Usually, I'll write things down for up to two weeks out, but end up drawing a red line through one or two things each day.  As in, I just didn't get to it.  Usually, that's because I added in other things.  Sometimes, we meet friends for a walk, go to the pool or an event at a nearby resort.  Those things get added in place of all those redlined lessons.  We're much less likely to abandon school during the traditional year than during the summer.  It such a short season here, we have to jump at any chance we get to go play!

I'll tell you a secret.  I don't keep many grades.  We use so many types of curriculum that don't really lend themselves to grading.  The online math we use (CTCMath) keeps track of math grades for me, but do they really need that many grades in elementary school?  I'm fully aware of what they do and don't know yet, are struggling with, or have completely mastered.  We do lots of units and lapbooking, but not many worksheets.  I do correct those that they do, but I'm not recording grades.  I have a small bin for each boy that I save some papers or projects that show we have fulfilled our requirements for the state, so pulling things together at the end of the year isn't *too* nervewracking.

I admit to being envious of all those mamas who plan out a whole year and keep it all in some sort of folder file system.  There are so few things we actually use that would fit into a system like that, it wouldn't be worth it to set it up.  How do you handle planning and record keeping?  Check out the links below to see what some of my fellow Crew Mates are writing about today.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Aug 15, 2017

Day 2 School Supplies ~ Back to Homeschool 2017

The longer I homeschool, the pickier I get about some things.  Don't get me wrong, the opposite is also true.  I'm an enigma.

I do have a few favorite products that I use often.  I'd like to share my list of musts with you, but please know that you might not even need these things.

Arts and Crafts -
I've learned that I'm a crayon snob.  I might like Crayola a little too much.  However, I've also learned that I don't need *everything* just because it comes from Crayola.  The things I absolutely must get from Crayola, though, are regular crayons, colored pencils, and *erasable* colored pencils.  Generally, the erasable pencils are for writing rather than art projects.  But I *bigfatpuffyheart* having erasable pencils in fun colors.  I also like their glass markers and crayons.  The crayon colors are more vibrant than the glass markers, but there are times when each serves a purpose, just like the different colored pencils.

Speaking of pencils, I buy Ticonderoga.  They aren't "cute," but they do the job nicely and sharpen easily.  The punks sometimes get other pencils as gifts or prizes and they love to look at them, but sharpening? forget it.  Recently, I bought some of the black Ticonderoga pencils.  I've heard they are the *best* of all pencils.  They came pre-sharpened, though, so I haven't tested them out.

Mom's Supplies -
I have got to have my paper planner.  I've used a few online, but I haven't quite gotten to the point where I'm ready to give up my planner.  Every year, I buy the Well-Planned Day.  I'll tell you more about planning tomorrow.

I also own a laminator.  I love it.  It's fairly inexpensive anyway, but I bought a Scotch Thermal Laminator for super cheap on Amazon.  It was on sale for under $20.  I've been using it for several years and it has held up nicely.  Now, looking back, I may not have *needed* a laminator (or the spiral binder), but it's a good tool and I've found it worth it to me to have.  it has been great for all those downloadable PDF games and lots of cards.

Funny.  I don't really have a lot of must-haves.  Maybe I'm "low maintenance."  Whether you're low or high maintenance, I advise choosing high quality items for your homeschool.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Aug 14, 2017

Day 1 Curriculum ~ Back to Homeschool 2017

The other night in the grocery store, I had an interesting conversation.  See, I was wearing one of my homeschooler T-shirts.  It's funny because I usually don't get any comments, *except from other homeschoolers*!  Kind of a "you too?" kind of reaction.  Although, the kids shirts are pretty funny and they get lots of attention, it's rare for me.  Anyway, I was asked if "they" send me books and tell me how to teach.  I would love to know who "they" are, because I think they owe me a lot of books after all this time.  Maybe "they" is the Homeschool Review Crew.  I do get some books from them...

Anyway, the real scoop is The Dad and I get to choose what and how to teach our punks.  I always thought that would be super easy, but the more *stuff* I know about, the harder the choices become.  I always loved school.  I was a walker and the girl who stayed behind at school to clap erasers and help the teacher clean her room at the end of the year.  One of the perks of these habits was that I often would come home after the cleaning was done (I'm sure it wasn't really done, she was just shipping me home so she could get to the real work!) with a huge stack of her leftover worksheet handouts.  Even weirder was that I would actually do most of them over the summer.

Some of the curriculum that *I* would have loved as a child just does not work for my very active boys.  Desk and workbook school is not for them.  Not that they don't have that, but it can't be the main thing we use or we might all go off our rockers.

There are so many things to think about when determining curriculum picks for the year.
  • What kind of learner(s) do I have? ~ Yes, learners.  Because, of course, you will find the perfect curriculum for darling punk #1 only to have darling punk #2 learn completely differently.  I am the lucky mom of three distinctly different learners.  Thankfully, they do share some qualities, which means they can use some of the same products very well, as long as we get in a little reinforcement in each of their languages.
  • What kind of teacher am I? ~ Do you need a boxed set and a scripted teacher manual?  That sounds dreamy to me.  (Un)Forunately(?), my punks are all over the place.  A year behind in math? *check*  A year ahead in science?  *check*  Still can't tie a shoe?  *check*  So, no boxed sets here.  Maybe you love living books.  I do, too.  My kids like being read to far more than the reading part, so when I choose readers for the year, I have to be really OK with reading the books aloud.  Certainly, they read (to their ability) on their own also.  Computer learning is a possibility.  In fact, this is one we can agree on for certain topics.  I kind of enjoy using it for the bulk of their math.  There are fewer "emotions" when mom doesn't teach math.
  • What can I afford to spend? ~ Determine a realistic budget. Now stick to it.  It's harder than it sounds.  You found the most amazing science course at XYZ.  Then you realize it's 3x more than you allotted for science.  How much do you need it?  What else on your list can you do without to make up for the difference.  Curriculum can be surprisingly expensive when you start shopping for the first time, or the 10th.  
  • Does this curriculum fill a need? ~ You'd be surprised how quickly a need becomes a want when you're trying to find a way to buy that science from XYZ!  Sometimes, that science is no longer quite so necessary and sometimes other subjects become lower priorities so you can purchase that science.

So, with lots of consideration and sorting of piles and thinking, thinking, thinking, I've narrowed down *some* of our curriculum choices for the fall.

Math - CTC Math.  I've been using this for a while now and bigfatpuffyheart it.  No matter how much a certain punk whines about it, the teacher never flips out on them.  It's completely worth it to me.  Plus they offer a big discount to homeschoolers and sometimes have sales, buy a year, get X months free.

Language Arts - Merrick is going to be continuing the Learn to R.E.A.D. program and the bigger punks will work some more in The Logic of English.

Science - Punk #1 and Punk #2 are using Science in the Industrial Age.  It's new to us, but I really like it so far.

Social Studies - I do not actually know exactly what we're doing this year, but part of our studies will be about Native Americans and the bulk of that will use a Once-A-Week unit study.  We'll also learn about interesting Vermonters and that will include the Abenaki peoples and Phineas Gage.  I picked up a book about Phineas from Amazon.

Bible - The Bible, of course, and probably Cold Case Christianity for Kids.

Health, PE, and Art - This is the last year Malachi needs to report these three topics to the homestudy office.  Not that we still won't be doing these things, but I don't have to report it anymore for him.  We don't really use curriculum for them in general, though, so I don't have much to list here.

One last thought.  If it doesn't work, try to let it go.  Sometimes, I have pushed us through to the end of a curriculum we *all* hated, just to check it off.  Done!  Other times, I have just let things go.  It doesn't always work out and you might need to decide to cut. it. out. of your homeschool day.  Life is too short for stinky curriculum.

Well, that's where I'm at for now.  I still have more decisions to make.  And then the planning begins.  Prayers, research, and planning make a great foundation when choosing your curriculum.

Come back tomorrow and we'll talk school supplies!

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Aug 12, 2017

Back to Homeschool 2017

I'm excited to be taking part in another 5 Days of Homeschooling link up with The Homeschool Review Crew.  One thing I *bigfatpuffyheart* about The Crew, is that we are all so supportive of one another.  Behind the Super Secret Crew door, there is a wonderful forum where we can pray together, hash out our home and homeschool ideas and concerns, and compare notes on so many aspects of our lives.

Another thing I love about The Crew is the genuine desire to help *you* make your homeschool decisions, by sharing our real life experiences.  While we do a lot of that with curriculum, after all that's what we do, many of my Crew mates are fantastic bloggers about many different things that affect our school and home lives.  If you read some non-review posts, I bet there is someone on The Crew roll who is exactly the kind of person you *want* to be reading and never before found.  We have some really amusing ladies, some very academic ladies, some road schoolers, some Charlotte Mason moms, homeschoolers in other countries, all kinds of folks (even a dad!  *gasp*).

Check out some posts next week and find your favorite new blogger.  <3 p="">
Day 1 ~ Curriculum
Day 2 ~ School Supplies
Day 3 ~ Planning/Record Keeping
Day 4 ~ Outside the Home
Day 5 ~ Dear Homeschool Mom

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Aug 8, 2017

Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Through the Homeschool Review Crew, we get to try out so many different Christian curricula that I never thought would be possible.  (Maybe I should say "curriculums" because the internet tells me that is the American plural of curriculum, while "curricula" is Latin and, today, I'm here to talk Greek.)  Greek 'n' Stuff's Greek courses have been on my radar for many years.  When Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set became available to The Crew, I thought it would be so fun to try.

What did I receive?  Well, I'm glad you asked.
  • Level 3 Worktext - A spiral bound, soft cover, with 170 pages of lessons, plus an appendix which lists things like Greek to English and English to Greek translations of the level three vocabulary, alphabet, breathing marks, tense, and gender.  Instructions for Bible copywork are also included here.  (I've ordered a Greek interlinear New Testament, and I'm pretty excited about that.)  This is followed by the index, a feedback form, and then the all important flash cards (more about those in a minute).
  • Level 3 Answer Key - Also a spiral bound, soft cover, this answer key boasts full size duplicates of the lesson pages (with answers) and the appendix from the worktext.  The suggested (and easy to follow) schedule is to complete one page per day and review the flashcards.  Author Karen Mohs clearly explains how to use the books and CD.  Each lesson is listed with the topic, pages, and teacher tip, and often a "big picture" chart showing the progress being made through the topics in the appendix.
  • and the pronunciation CD - this covers vocabulary for Level 3 and Level 4, includes the alphabet song, and speaks through the charts in the appendix.  The included chart lists exactly what page's vocabulary is on each track.
Hey, Andrew!Teach Me Some Greek!

Several resources are suggested and some are also available from Greek 'n' Stuff.  The Bible is the only extra purchase I've made.  You certainly don't *need* anything more than what is included in the set.

How did we choose a level?  Why, another excellent question.

While there are tests available under each Greek level and Greek 'n' Stuff has this nifty chart which shows all of the levels and options available for the Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek curriculum, I just went by their suggestions.  Children as young as preschool can begin to learn Greek with the reader.  As soon as children can control the pencil, they can start learning the Greek language using Level One.  You'll probably find Level Two just right for 2nd graders.  For older students, say 4th grade to adult, Level Three is the recommended starting point for beginners.  Since we know zero Latin (well, Dad knows a smidge from college), that seemed exactly right.  I think it has been a really good fit for Xavier.  Level Three contains a quick review of the information taught in Levels One and Two, so you're quickly up to speed.

What's it like?  You are full of great questions today!

I was definitely a little intimidated by the whole "learn a whole new alphabet and all the sounds each cute, but funny looking letter make."  Xav has kind of enjoyed it, though he is never keen on any writing.  "Zeta is hard to write.  I can tell you that from experience," Xav tells me.  This photo shows the beginning section where he started writing the letters of the Greek alphabet.  Rather than write three rows of three letters each day, I got this idea to write one row of each letter every day for three days.  For example, the first day he wrote one row each of alpha, beta, gamma.  On day two, he wrote one row of each of those plus one row of delta, epsilon, zeta (Ah, zeta.  yes, he did have trouble with that!).  Day three was the last day of alpha, beta, gamma plus the second row of delta, epsilon, zeta, and the first row of eta, theta, iota.  We rotated our way through the alphabet that way to omega.  It took about the same amount of time, but simultaneously broke things up and kept the letters in his head for more days.  While writing, he practiced saying the letter's name and sound.

Once the alphabet writing was done, the work pages began.  These pages were mostly pretty enjoyable.  Some pages are writing intensive, but many of them are matching, circling, drawing, and even completing crossword puzzles.  This photo show some pages as he completed them and the following photo shows a few examples of the worktext yet to come.  You can see there is a wide variety of activities.

You are encouraged to use the flashcards every day.  (You get to check off a box on each page - see the pics above.  I love marking things done!)  These cards are in the back of the Worktext, six cards to each page.  The front and back are in two columns.  We just cut each pair out, folded in the center and covered with tape.  I think the rest of the pages will be laminated though.  They'll be so much sturdier.  Greek 'n' Stuff does carry a cardstock set that is already cut and hole punched, so that is an option.  Anyway, Xav happily helped me cut out, tape and trim his first cards.  They also sell quizzes for the testing inclined.

The music CD is 68 tracks total.  The first one is an alphabet song and is kind of catchy.  The Level Three vocabulary follows on tracks 2-21.  Each track says, "(Vocabulary word) means (translation).  (Vocabulary word)"  I'll use track 2 as an example.  "An- thro-pos means a man.  An-thro-pos."  Short and clear.  Level Four vocabulary continues to track 59, then tracks 60-68 (thankfully) cover the information on the charts from the appendix.

If you're looking for a Greek program, I think this one is very good.  The variety of activities and the review seem to help it stick, despite the learning of a completely new alphabet.

Greek 'n' Stuff also carries Bible studies and Latin curriculum.

Find Greek 'n' Stuff on social media.

Teach Me Some Greek {Greek 'n' Stuff Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Aug 5, 2017

Looking Ahead

Since we have been vacationing off and on in July, I've got a few field trips to share with you.  I can't wait to tell you about Steam Town, Wings Over Eagles Discovery Center, and the Lamplighter Ministries book bindery!

The Homeschool Review Crew is also are planning another "5 Days of..." series the week of August 14-18.  Stay tuned!

Aug 3, 2017

Heirloom Audio's In the Reign of Terror ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We love the Heirloom Audio Productions audio theater here. I have all but two. For now. This time, we were whisked away to France during the French Revolution. In the Reign of Terror actually begins in America, with Mr. George in Arlington Cemetary. As usual, our boisterous story teller has found a willing listener to one of his many amazing tales. Young American Harry is about to be treated to the telling of young British Harry and his time abroad. We head to France along with Harry as he is sent to spend some time with a Marquee and his family.

Harry knows there is a troubling time ahead, as Paris is in turmoil, but his father is confidant that things will soon settle down. Through several harrowing minor adventures, Harry earns a place in the hearts of the Marquee's family members. But the real adventure hasn't even yet begun.

As I researched this G.A. Henty title, I was a little concerned about the amount of death that would be taking place in this story. My middle little punk is so tenderhearted and the French Revolution was a very dark time. The death is terrible and even some major characters lose their lives, but through it all, they are more likely a second hand mention, and we are not privy to the actual acts. That isn't to say there are no disturbing passages. No one skirts around the horrible ways many of the deaths happen, it just isn't highlighted. It is just mentioned in as sensitive a manner as possible. We've listened to In the Reign of Terror several times in the past few weeks. I've had to answer some questions with sad answers. Unfortunately, 1790s France isn't the only time in history with sad answers.

One thing I really liked was the juxtaposition of the French Revolution and America's Revolution (or War of Independence). Henty repeatedly contrasts the two events. While they took place closely together in time, the differences were startling. God was generally foremost in the hearts and thoughts of the colonists, while Europe was experiencing the Age of Enlightenment, in which man did not need a god to attain perfection. While researching more about the Enlightenment period, I saw the two revolutions lumped together, rather than different. I liked hearing and reading Henty's opinions on the relationships and differences. One thing I think was most important is that *in general* the American war was fought as soldiers against soldiers, while the French war was largely a people (the common people) pitted against a people (the wealthy nobility and the clergy). Age, guilty involvement, treatment of the poor in general were not taken into consideration.

Admittedly, most of my knowledge of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror actually comes from viewing The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982). Let's just say, funny as it is, it may have left some gaps in my knowledge. While I still don't know everything about this period, Henty and Heirloom Audio Productions has helped me round out that knowledge.

In the Reign of TerrorAs always, the actors are stellar, the screen play is phoenomenal, and the sound track and audio effects stir something in our very hearts. Brian Blessed, as G.A. Henty (Mr. George) is so memorable and imposing. I confess, his story telling is one of my favorite parts of every one of Heirloom Audio's productions. When I read Heirloom Audio's Facebook updates, I read them in his booming voice. They might (or might not) have a tiny little 20 year old woman on their social media, but she sure sounds like Brian Blessed to me!

Some things about Heirloom Audio Productions have changed since I last wrote a review for them. The helpful study guide is no longer included as a download bonus when you purchase the CDs or MP3s. Those are now part of the Live the Adventure Club. The club is a subscription to the online service and the bonuses are included in that. With club membership, you receive several bonuses which include the study guide, lots of unique resources, a forum, and soundtracks and ebooks for the Heirloom Audio adventures you own. Club membership also includes THREE physical CDs sent out yearly. YIPPEE! More for listening on those long car rides.

Anyway, about that study guide. My one problem with the guide is that the beautiful pages are not printer friendly. I will say this every time I review it until there is a black ink on white paper only option. The guide is broken down into questions for each track of the audio. Each set of questions is divided into three types: Listening Well – a sort of comprehension section, Thinking Farther – which requires the student to consider motives of the characters and use other critical thinking skills, and The Defining Words – or vocabulary.  I really like the Thinking Further section, though it's the hardest part for my punks.  It asks questions like "The Bible forbids rulers and judges from taking bribes (cites verses)...  Do you think it is wrong to bribe an official in order to get real justice?  Explain your answer."

One thing we like about the study guides, which really make a nice unit, is that there is generally a recipe in them. The study guide for In the Reign of Terror has a brioche recipe. I want to make it! But it's summer. I will probably have to take the toaster oven out on the porch so I can bake some bread soon. Otherwise, it's going to have to wait a month or two.

The guide also includes short biographies of G.A. Henty, Robespierre, and Marie Antoinette, and further information about the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Expand Your Learning segments and photographs are inset on several pages throughout it. Further study suggestions are listed, including the book the script writers were asked to read. Bible studies follow, with the topics “When God Means Evil for Good,” “Resisting Tyranny,” and “True Manliness.”

Heirloom Audio Productions' CDs are well loved in our homeschool.  Check out the Live the Adventure Club and receive Captain Bayley's Heir.  Get to know some of the Heirloom Audio folks and chat with other parents.  You'll find unique resources and plenty of fun activities for your punks, too.

Find Heirloom Audio on social media.
Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Aug 2, 2017

English on a Roll ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We've all heard those (accurate) jokes about how difficult it is to grasp all the nuances of the English language.  I love it.  I use it daily.  And yet...  some days...  I don't use the English so good.  This might just be the most horrible thing a homeschool mom can say:

I don't remember how to diagram a sentence.

I'm not even 100% sure I ever learned.  I haven't taught my kids to do it either.  Can we still be friends?  With English on a Roll's English Grammar Teaching Method you won't have to know how!

When I saw the video demonstration, I was really intrigued.  I thought it was so clever to have manipulatives for LA, because they work well for math (with Malachi especially, but all of them really).  Grammar is a tough one here, and while we have used another program, there was more writing than the boys were really prepared to do.

English on a RollI received a paperback copy of English on a Roll Book One by Linda Hopkins Koran.  The book is 142+ pages.  There are 37 lessons, including review.  At the beginning of the book is a chart of all the cubes, their color, and the full list of words on each.  The importance of manipulatives for tactile learners is discussed, but it's important to note that the techniques used in teaching with this method include the Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) principles.  These principles include teaching to all learning styles, building up from a basic foundation, repetition and review, and several other forms of reinforcement.

Thirty-eight cubes are color-coded by parts of speech.  The box also includes two completely blank cubes to customize your own word blocks.  To make that super simple, a small sheet of 30 labels is included.  The words are actually engraved on the cubes.  I think that will help them hold up to lots of use.  The words on each cube are all used in the same way, so while rotating a cube to find the correct word, the student learns the other words are all related.  One cube set can be used for up to six students. 

The English Grammar Teaching Method can be used with anyone, aged five and up.  The program is helpful for ESL, special needs, and beginning reader programs.  Thankfully, I don't even have to know how to diagram a sentence to teach it.

We began with the blue subject pronoun cube (I/you/he/she/it/they/we).  Yes, I know that is seven words and a cube, by definition, is six-sided.  He and she share a diagonally scored face of the cube.  The same comes later with his/hers and who/whom.  You get the idea.  You will only provide the few cubes required for each lesson.  Close the box and put away the rest.  Trust me on this one.  Oh, speaking of the box, you open it upside down so the cubes are in the lid.  Genius.  Have you ever tried to dig tightly packed, slick cubes out of a deep box?  I did.  Because I seriously needed training in the proper opening procedure!

While the first lesson or two, I worked alone with Xavier while Malachi was in a meeting, I decided it made much more sense to work them through the program together.  They seemed to be a bit embarrassed, though, to do some of the activities in front of each other.  So, while *logistically* I wanted them to work together, in reality, my punks did better work separately at the beginning of the course, when they felt the lessons (and actions) were "babyish."   It wasn't long before the lessons became more like the workbook pages they are used to and the script involved less obvious points and fewer repetitions.

Each lesson consists of several parts.
  • Prep - Which cubes, printouts, and other items you need for this lesson.
  • Teach the Concepts - Talking over, demonstrating, or acting out the lesson.
  • Conversation/Games - Rolling an "anchor" cube (the basis you will build around), building combinations, customizing cubes, etc.
  • Written Exercises - Using the included worksheets.

The lessons are completely scripted.  Remember, I said you didn't have to be a grammar whiz to teach this course.  The worksheets for each lesson are included in the book and completely reproducible for your family/class.  Conveniently, they are simple illustrations and words, and do not require color ink or waste a lot of black ink.  That is *my* kind of worksheet.  I do wish the book were spiral bound or the reproducibles were in a separate packet or on a disc.  Copying from a perfect bound book looks sloppy and, eventually, the binding tends to break.

The whole program is so portable, we were easily able to bring the cubes and book along to Grandma's so there were no excuses for forgotten material after we returned from vacation!

I like this program and the punks *really* like that there isn't a lot of writing required of them for it.  It's nice that I can teach grammar with minimal writing, the manipulatives help it stick, and most of it is pretty fun. 

Find English on a Roll on Facebook.

English on a Roll {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer