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Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! Review

We are reading through Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come!  We were sent this wonderful book for review from the By the Way Book Series and it has given my kids and I a great way to start a discussion about the animals and their habitat in this wonderful mountain range of the USA.

Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come!

“Discovering Biblical Truth in Everyday Life”

Hardback 10″ x 8″ Large Book

48 glossy full-color pages

For ages 5-12

Retail $14.99

This story is about two siblings: a brother named Alex, and his sister named Lexi, who went to spend three days and nights with their Uncle Ted who is a forest ranger in the Smoky Mountains.  They decide to hike up the mountain and camp overnight in the wilderness.

It is spring time, and flowers are starting to bloom.  As they travel along the hiking trails, they learn about lots of the wildlife that live there.  They learn about God too and how he created this environment for the wildlife and people to live and flourish in.

Some of the animals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other fascinating facts kids learn about in this book are:

White tailed deer

Skunks

Black bears

Bobcats

Wolves

Salamanders

Otters

Elk

Northern short tailed shrew

Wood peckers

Ravens

Hummingbirds

Wrens

Snow birds or dark eyed Junco

Peregrine falcons

Butterflies

Mountains and different topography forms: waterfalls, bald,

Forests and different kinds of trees

Weather

Different kinds of flowers and plants

Different kinds of mushrooms and fungi

Fireflies and insects

Some other things my kids learned about in this book:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian mountain trail, specific landmarks on the trail like Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, Cherokee Indians, pioneers, Civil War,  specific mountains that were named for historic events or famous people and also for ancient legends by the Cherokee Indians, and a mountain musical instrument called a dulcimer.

Video of a dulcimer playing “I’ll Fly Away”.

Another Video of an 1800’s replica of a dulcimer that was a bit more primitive than the ones we usually see played today.

There is also a mini-lesson on Geo Caching (finding clues and a location of “hidden treasure” in a weather proof/ waterproof box for you to find using GPS coordinates).  This is a popular hobby but one we have not participated in before.  We got out our GPS map on the phone, and also a compass, and a compass/whistle that someone would use on their journey during this activity. We might like to put together a Geo Caching activity in our local area soon.

Reading this book encouraged us to take a closer look at the wildlife around us and the habitat they live in.  We used to live in the Appalachian mountains in the Blue Ridge region.  We often went for a drive and visited the Smoky Mountain region that was only a few hours from where we lived. But now we live about 2 hours down the mountain and foothills from where we used to live.  Now we live at a lower elevation in a forest covered area filled with pine trees, oak trees, maple trees and other hardwoods.  We live next to a small pond, lots of woods with several local streams, and a large lake nearby too.  So we have a wide variety of wildlife here and some we have in common with the mountain region too.  We have seen woodpeckers, hawks, crows, lizards, snapping turtles, frogs, snakes, wild turkeys, fox, coyote, red cardinals, robins, deer, a raccoon, an opossum, worms, red fire ants, termites, beetles, and more.   I will post a story about this soon, but here are a few pictures we have taken of the wildlife in our yard and nearby.

This snapping turtle crawled up to the fence in our yard and was trying to enter the gate when we spotted him. 

In the book Smoky Mountains Here We Come, there are many real life photos of animals and historical people and places.  My favorite photo is a an old time Mill House with a water wheel.  We would often seen wonderful old barns and mill houses on our trips to see the mountains.  I would love to hang that picture on the wall.

The illustrations on every page in this book are wonderful and kept my kids interested all the way through.  This book is like a regional American geography, history, science, and bible study adventure all wrapped up in one.

Biblical Worldview

This book presents God’s amazing creation in the treasure of the Smoky Mountains from a biblical worldview.  Along the way, kids are reminded often of God’s handiwork and his amazing creation.

We are stewards of this land.  We can either be good stewards and care for it, or we can be reckless and neglectful stewards, the choice is ours.   In his word, God instructs man to be good stewards of the land, animals, and resources.  Jesus also shared several parables about good shepherds, wise servants, faithful caretakers.  It is clear that God wants us to understand the He created all of this and he wants us to take care of it.

The book begins with the verse from Psalm 32:8 inside the front cover:

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou should go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”

The book ends with the verse from Psalm 97:6 inside the back cover:

“The heavens declare his righteousness…and all the people see his glory.

The book is loaded with scriptures to connect us to our Heavenly Father and remind kids and parents about our loving creator who made this wonderful bounty of life in so much variety and beauty.

Additional Resources Available

This book series is perfect for using as home school curriculum, family devotions, Sunday schools, clubs, and encouraging extra reading for kids too.  You can use the book as a stand alone resource, or you can add to the learning by using maps, puzzles, games, field trips to the region of the country the book discusses or to visit a zoo to see the animals discussed, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos online about things discussed in the book etc. and turn this into an amazing learning journey filled with exploration.

Besides the books, there are additional resources available to further the learning with this wonderful book including: flash cards, activity guides, stuffed animals, and poster packs.

For an additional $2.50 you can purchase the flash cards.

The flash cards are full color and feature eight of the many different creatures we studied in the book.  On the front of the cards is full color real life photo  to clearly identify each creature.  Also listed on the front is an accompanying bible verse that reminds you about God and the beauty he has created.   On the back of each card is a long description of the habitat it lives in and it’s behavior characteristics.

For an additional $2.50 you can buy the “Keep On The Path” “Exploring the Smoky Mountains Study Guide” to further the learning.

After reading through the book, I was so impressed to want to learn more that I purchased the activity guides and flash cards for all six of my kids.  $2.50 is much cheaper than I can print these myself.  It is a really good buy.  We are currently waiting for the cards and guides to arrive as I write this review.

There are also poster packs and stuffed animals available on the website that go along with the books too.  I didn’t not purchase these but they would be great to use for a classroom where you need larger visual aids and reminders for the classroom.  You could use this as part of a vacation bible school summer program too and use the posters to decorate walls, tables, or stations.

I plan to expand our learning we began with this book.  My goal is to turn this book learning into a unit study and lapbook this spring.   We will use the activity guide pages and flash cards plus the additional ideas I mentioned earlier (maps, puzzles, games, field trips (we live about 4 hours from the Smoky Mountains in TN and 2 hours from the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC also part of the Appalachian trail), visit a zoo, science experiments, writing assignments, research assignments on animals and habitats, spelling words, crafts, bible copy work, videos, etc) as we re-read the book again.

We will create a colorful lapbook to go along with the unit study and record what the kids have learned.   Stay tuned for a follow up story to this review to see what the kids learned and how this adventure turned out.   For now, while we wait for those resources to arrive, I found a few coloring pages online about woodland animals (such as the black bear, otter, bobcat, deer,) and a butterfly for the younger children to color while we read through the book.  We really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to learn even more.

Besides the additional resources for Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come, I also ordered additional flashcards for the other books in the series too.  Some of the animals and insects in other regions are also found in the region we are currently studying and also these cards are so nice that I would like for my kids to have the flash cards from all the regions as a learning resource.  They are high gloss full color heavy duty cards loaded with lots of information about creatures from the different regions all over America.  These inexpensive cards can be used for science and geography and crossovers with other subjects and are a great resource to have on hand.

By The Way Series

Check out all these great books from By the Way Book Series.  We want to read more of them as soon as we can.  This is a wonderful way to teach kids about all these amazing animals and creatures and geography that God has created and some history of the people in various regions around the USA.

More books are in the works and coming in 2017!

IRELAND

NEW YORK

IDAHO

INDIANA

Be sure to read more about the wonderful author, Joy Budensiek and her desire she expressed for writing these books to help kids and their parents talk about God and draw closer to him. These books are part of a movement to turn our nation and our children back to God.  You can read more about “Renewanation” mission here. 

Social Media

Check out By the Way Book Series on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bythewaybooks/?fref=ts

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using the By the Way Book Series with their kids.

 

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Project Passport: The Middle Ages Review

Home School in the Woods offers top notch History based unit studies that kids and parents love!  They recently sent us HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages for our family to review.

Kids love to go on trips.  Why not take the kids on “a trip back in time”?  With this unit study your kids can pretend to take a journey, pack their bags and board a “time machine” right in your home to travel back in history to the Middle Ages.   On this trip, you won’t even have to hear the usual “are we there yet?”  This unit study journey is so much fun!

 

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages

Format: CD or Download (Mac & PC Compatible)
ISBN: 9780984204144
Retail $33.95 Download
Retail $34.95 CD

Suggested grades: 3-8
25 Lessons, Go at your own pace.
Tons of Printables For Parent / Teacher and Students
50 Projects and Activities
Arts, Crafts, Recipes
7 Dramatized Audio Tours

Lessons and Printables

The CD includes directions and masters for over 50 projects and activities. There is a HUGE menu of files.  Also included are Travel Tips, teacher keys, Additional Resources (to enhance the learning), and a Quick-Stop Itinerary. Photos of completed projects, and a three-page travel planner to help the teacher plan the the schedule with upcoming topics and projects at a glance.

Dramatized Audio Tours

Also included with this study are 7 Dramatized Audio Tours.  These audio dramas are fun to listen to and take you right to the action!  What a great way to get your kids right in to the daily life of the past by listening to and take this journey with the “Knight in Shining Armor Tours”.  The tour guide is Agatha and the coach driver is Brian and they will take the kids on various errands and excursions.

Your kids will spend time at a town Festival Day, visit a monastery where they will hear the sounds of Gregorian Chant, or visit the Battlefield of Hastings, and they might catch a glimpse of Duke William of Normandy! Wow!

Topics

There is so much to do on this journey.  It is more than just learning HISTORY!  This trip is filled adventure, exciting events, fun people to learn about, and lots of facts about life from the past. Some of the topics in this unit study include:

Barbarian Invasions
Daily Medieval Life
Class Structure in Society
Towns & Guilds
Science & Invention
Education
The Arts
Church History
Castles
The Crusades
Knights
Vikings
Weapons
Battles
Wars
and a whole lot more!

Projects & Writing & Arts & Crafts & Life Skills

A “Scrapbook of Sights” for storing notebook projects
Creative Writing projects for Lapbook
Souvenir Craft Cards with a dozen 3-D projects to make
A Newspaper “The Medieval Times”
A “Snapshot Moments in History” Scrapbook Timeline
“Postcards from Famous Folks”
Viking Ship
Castle
Puppets
Catapult
Tapestry
Hat
Wreath
Mosaic
Stained Glass
Herb Salts
Rose Water
Coat of Arms
Cooking & Recipes
A “Dining Out Guide”
2 Board Games

And More…

What We Thought

One of the things we like most about homeschooling is the freedom to choose curriculum that interests us.  The curriculum style that interests us the most is unit studies.  It is our favorite method for learning.  Unit studies are our first choice because they are flexible, adaptable, and there is such a huge variety of projects and resources that make learning any and every subject fascinating.

The first step for me after we received our product download was printing the information.  This unit study comes with a huge amount of printables for the kids as well as instructions for activities and lessons.   The mom / teacher definitely needs to be organized and print the lessons out and put them in some sort of a binder or file so you can keep track of the journey and get the supplies and printables ready for the adventure.  Besides mom’s binder, a computer, printer, and lots of paper, each kid also need a binder and a couple of file folders, glue, colored pencils and crayons, scissors, etc.

Our trip back in time to the Middle Ages includes 25 “stops” (1 +/- hour lessons) at specific locations where my kids learn what life was like during this time in History.   We went at our own pace and did 2 lessons a week. We skipped around a bit in the lessons and are half way through at the time of writing this review.  This study should take us about 14+ weeks to complete at this pace, but I plan to stretch it out longer with some additional activities.

Here is a list of a few of the STOPS and PROJECTS we have made so far:

Stop 1: Laying the foundation / packing for the trip.

Create a “Luggage” Folder and Passport.

The next step is to help the kids make a luggage or a travel suitcase, and a passport for the journey.  They will re-use these items in future Project Passport studies you do.  The suitcase helps keep all their papers and projects organized on their trip so they don’t get lost.  Kids can use the completed printables they stored in their suitcase to create a Lapbook at the end of the journey that showcases what they have learned. Another step to prep was to print out the history timeline, news paper, and scrapbook of sights so we were ready to add in tidbits along the journey.

The “prep” work and the first “stop” (lesson) was the most challenging for me as I learned to print out everything and make the “storage” or “foundation” projects of the unit study.  After that, it was easy to look at the organized lesson plans for the day and follow the plan.  The rest of the lessons take about an hour or less to complete.  All of the lessons and project instructions, crafts, and recipes are provided in the unit study and are easy for the kids to follow.

Stop 4: Everyday Life – Family and Class Structure

Firewood & Fence & Farming:

While learning about Class Structure and the Feudal System of land tenants (Serfs and Peasants) working the land for the land owners (Lords), we found ourselves wanting to know more about the daily life of the Serfs and Peasants who raised food.  We have a long way to go yet, but a few of things we focused on so far was “fuel” to cook and heat with, tools, and fencing to hold animals in a designated area.

A two worksheets are provided as well as an audio tour for this section. Since we like homesteading and farming, we decided to add more hands on projects learning about how people farmed / homesteaded during the Middle Ages to our study. We will be adding in more learning in this section in the future.  We plan to learn how to build a replica of a dwelling, how to lash boards together, how they started fire with friction, fishing with nets, butchering, growing harvesting storing and grinding grain, growing a vegetable and herb garden, etc.  These are skills that will be invaluable to these kids in the years ahead and help them connect their learning about the lives of people who lived in the past.  Tweaking a lesson here or there is the great flexibility that we love about unit studies.

Since we have been using this study during the months of January and February we focused on homesteading projects from the Middle Ages that were done this time of year.   These projects fit right in perfect timing to our study.

Chopping and gathering firewood and building and repairing fence was a common practice in January and February for the Serfs and Peasants.

January and February was also spent repairing hunting nets and repairing and building traps, sharpening tools, making utensils etc.    So we worked with the kids on learning how to sharpen a pocket knife and we also took the kids to the lake and they made their own small bait traps and worked on their fishing poles when they got snagged and lost their lines.

While researching how the Serfs and Peasants farmed the land, we learned that the most common form of fence used in small scale farming in the Middle Ages was called a “hurdle”. It is built of a “waddle” or woven fence panel made of upright posts and willow (or other flexible wood or vines available) woven in between the posts.   The next kind of fence used the most was hedges and stone fences or walls were also common if enough stone was available.  All of these fences were used to keep livestock in a boundary, either a small pen or a small field that was on crop rotation with livestock.  The fence or hedge held livestock penned in, or it held them out of gardens, graveyards, and orchards.

We could of made a small replica of the waddle fence panels and may still do this, but one of my sons likes to “build big”. Since he did not have the flexible material on hand to weave in and out of his posts he tried another method to make a simple fence panel about 5 feet long made of upright posts.

Of course 5 feet of fence isn’t enough to keep animals in, so this panel would have been combined with several more panel sections to create an actual fence.   These paneled fences would have been joined together to create pens for milk cows, ox, chickens, pigs, and sheep.    He used a small ax to make the panel and it was very obvious to the kids that just creating one panel was a lot of work.  Folks who farmed or homesteaded in the middle ages had to work very hard to do even simple tasks.

Stop 5: Everyday Life – Clothing and Food

Herb Bread:

When making the recipes, you can cook these in your modern kitchen, fire place, or outdoors.   We did some of both. We wanted to try cooking over an open flame/hot coals for a more realistic experience.  It is a lot harder to cook outside, build a fire, prep and cook the meal, bake bread, etc than it is to make this in today’s modern kitchen.   It was fun to try it out both ways.

Pictures of our creating our Herb Bread:

This bread was so delicious!  Some of the kids ate it plain, some ate it with butter, and some ate it with strawberry jam.   My husband loved it too!

Everyone wanted second and third servings of this delicious bread.  The crust and texture of the bread came out amazing!

My son also wanted to try topping his slice of bread with honey.  Every way they tried it, they enjoyed it.

 

Barely Stew

For the stew, we changed the recipe to fit what we had on hand. That is how the people in the Middle Ages did it too.  If they had an ingredient they used it, if not they substituted.  This is a good exercise in helping people to be flexible, content, and make do with what you have on hand.  Here is a picture of what the kids put into their stew.

He ate several slices with butter and then wanted to try it out with strawberry jam.

Outdoor cooking with Herb Bread:

This was another “extra” we added into our hands on learning.  Folks cooked over a fireplace in the Middle Ages.  We decided to make our “Middle Ages fireplace” kitchen in the back yard with some old bricks laying around and cook a few meals listed in the “Dining Out Guide”.

We made the fire place big enough to accommodate two fires or two cooking areas.   Two of the boys made their fires to the best of their ability to see who could heat up their bricks and get their fire just right for cooking first.   These two are competitive.

It was well after dark before we could get the fires to die down enough to cook on.

The kids learned it takes a long time to build a hot fire, heat their bricks, then let the fire die down to hot coals to bake bread.

We did not have a dutch oven pot or any “Medieval pots” to cook the bread in so we improvised with foil and shaped the foil like a pot and a lid.   The kids used the same herb bread recipe we had made in the house, and this time they put it in the foil pot we made and placed it on bricks we put in the hot coals to bake.

This is the finished bread from the outdoor fire.  It tasted delicious, though it looks misshapen or funny!  With more practice, they will be able to shape it better.

We sliced it up and lathered it with butter and some of the kids had strawberry jam with it and it was delicious!  The outdoor fireplace bread tasted just as good as the bread we had baked in the house in our modern stove oven.

We would like to try to create some pots from the middle ages to cook food in again.  We might make some clay pots and try firing them in the fire in the future.

Porridge

This was a common food eaten by peasants and surfs during the Middle Ages.   This is also a common breakfast food my kids are familiar with.  We have it once or twice a week.  It is very nutritious!

Stop 6: Everyday Life : Community

Field Trip Castle:

One of the fun activities in this lesson is to build a replica of a castle. Included are directions to build a castle with sugar cubes.  But my kids wanted to build one that will last and they can actually play with when they are through building it, so we are budgeting out money to buy a hobby brick kit to build one.  We also have a wooden castle the kids have played with for years and the kids often build small castles with Legos.   We pulled out our pictures from a while back when we actually took a field trip to see a real castle.  The kids remember this well and talked about it as they learned about castles in this unit study.

Stop 7: Everyday Life – Crime, Punishement, Entertainment

Jousting and Fox and Goose Game

This section was really interesting to the kids because one of the suggestions is to play indoor and outdoor games: checkers, chess, horseshoes, marbles, dice, board games, capture the flag, tag, games with balls, and physical training activities to become a knight, etc.    They also learned about a competitive game knights and warriors played to prove themselves in a challenge called Jousting.

Stop 13:  Medicine and Disease

Herbal Salt:

“Medicinal” herb salt.

Herbs and super foods were “medicine” in ancient times.  Folks who knew how to use strong herbs and oils and salt survived some of the darkest diseases in history.  Nowadays, petrochemicals are used to make synthetic medicines.

Though it is sad how many people died of the plague during the Middle Ages, learning how to make your own herbal remedy was an interesting lesson to explore.  This is a subject we are very interested in.  We have spent some time in the past learning about herbs used for healing.  We have made elderberry extract, tinctures, various kinds of honey, teas, and several herbal remedies over the years.  This study gave simple instructions for creating an Herb Salt that is just salt and dried herb(s) of your choice that can be used both in cooking and health care.   We made an herbal remedy with oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, and sea salt for this project.  Whenever one is feeling down, you can stir a teaspoon of this into hot water and drink it to restore minerals and act as an antibiotic anti fungal.   You can add a touch of raw honey and lemon juice for even more benefits.  We also rub the herb salt mixture into meat before cooking, or use it to season broth or other foods or put some in your bath water too.

We would like to create an actual “Herbal Apothecary” someday.   We are in the process of learning how to do this.  We have a good start with herbs, salts, essential oils, and dried super foods that ancient people in history knew how to use to support the body.

Stop 22:  Battles, Wars, Conflicts

Catapult:

During this journey, the kids learned about ancient weapons that were used during warfare.  One of those weapons was a catapult.  We built our own catapult variation with the instructions supplied.  We substituted some of the supplies listed.  We built our catapult using twigs, a pocket knife, rubber banks, and hot glue.   It turned out fantastic and worked perfectly.

It is amazing how sturdy this catapult is and how well it works!

Now the boys want to build a big life size model.  Oh boy!

One of the boys also built a Lego catapult.  He had a battle with his Lego men.  This catapult worked very well too.  Do you know how hard it is to find a Lego that was flung across the room?

Swords:

Dad helped the kids make wooden swords a while back.  They had a lot of fun making them.

It was fun to have their own sword and compare it to the weapons used in the Middle Ages unit study.   The 12 year old made a paper hat for a king, draped a blanket on as a cape and pretended he was in a heated battle with the others to protect his kingdom.

Someday they would like to make an actual shield to go with their sword. They would also like to make a long bow and set up an archer range.  They have shot bows and cross bows before.  But they are interested in making their own primitive long bow now.  They have been researching how to make it, but we haven’t built it yet.  I just hope no-one gets hurt with all these battles they like to act out.

Stop 25: Final Stop – Packing Up

Lapbook

Lapbooks are one of our favorite projects.

The Lapbook is the last lesson #25 in the Project Passport Middle Ages, but we decided to put ours together as we went along for the purpose of this review so our reading audience could see it in action.

We are about half way through with the Lapbook at the time of writing this review.

We still have a ways to go to finish this study of the Middle Ages and in addition to the recommended activities, we are adding some “extras” into our study as we find the time.   These additional activities will add a few more weeks onto our hands on learning.  The kids are really enjoying this unit study.

Because this is a flexible unit study, you can go faster or slower and pick and choose which lessons you want to complete.  For example if you speed up to 3 lessons a week, and do all of the lessons, you can finish this study in 8 weeks, or if you slow down and do 1 lesson a week on the journey, this unit study will last a full 25 weeks.   We chose to go at our own pace, plug in the activities we were interested in, added in a few additional ideas we researched, and customized the study to fit best with our family’s interest and schedule.

Check out this video that explains even more about Project Passport unit studies.

Home School In The Woods offers free samples of audio dramas and lessons and much more.  Be sure to check out their free samples on their website.  We love their History Timelines too!  Home School In The Woods is a great resource for homeschool families.   We highly recommend all of the great products at Home School In The Woods.

Homeschool In The Woods

Be sure to check out all of the great products from Home School In The Woods.  And be sure to check out all of the HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Studies series including their latest “Ancient Greece”.  They will have “Ancient Rome” available soon and are adding new products all the time. 

Social Media:

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Homeschool Review Crew:

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Home School In the Woods HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport Studies in their homeschool.

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Times Alive Review

My kids are enjoying Times Alive online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way.   Fun animated stories are a refreshing way to learn and remember math facts.  With Times Alive, it is so easy for kids to master learning multiplication.

Times Alive

Online Math Learning Program

Multi-student use on the same computer.

Retail $9.95 per month.

Additional products are available.

Please check the website for more information.

Recommendations and Requirements:

To use Times Alive online learning program,  you will need:

A computer with internet access
Speakers
A mouse or other pointing device
Video at 1024 x 768 or higher
400 mhz or greater
128 MB of RAM or greater

You can use this program daily for 20+/- minutes.  Some children will move faster and others will progress slower due to variations in skill levels. If you don’t prefer to use it daily, it is recommended to use it at a minimum of twice a week for progress and retention.  However each family can find a pace that feels right for their learning needs.

How We Used Times Alive

This is a “no tears” method of learning math.   My kids don’t like math practice and try to get away with the bare minimum.  If one lesson is all that I have scheduled, then they do the one lesson and nothing more.  I have suggested some days to do additional practice work in our regular math program, but those requests are usually met with grumbling.

Times Alive came to the rescue!   The online lessons, stories, and animated songs in the Times Alive lessons are fun.  The kids don’t complain to add in a few extra minutes of practice learning about math times tables.

We have six kids in our family and they were able to share the Times Alive program on the same computer.  The program is set up for family use and each of my kids can log in and log out and then the next one can use it.  This program worked out great for our family.  The subscription doesn’t allow for use with more than one computer, but it will keep track of all of my kids progress in their own dashboard, as long as they use the same computer each time they log in.


My kids enjoyed reading along with the stories.  Most kids love stories and Times Alive tells silly math stories that makes learning math facts fun and easy to remember.   These stories are filled with goofy characters and it is fun to see the characters come alive in the story and find out what adventure or dilemma they go through and this triggers you to associate the fact and remember it later.

As the lesson progresses, the story lesson is followed by another video with a catchy song that also helps my kids remember the facts they learned in the story.  Then there are interactive games and fun quizzes to engage their interests and these serve the purpose of testing their math fact recall.


There are also progress reports that keep track of quiz scores, dates the lessons were completed, how much time they spent learning, and also summarize their overall learning.


Another thing we really liked about the program is that we could stop and go as the kids needed.  There is no set schedule in the program so we were able to use the program as it fit into our schedule.  Each time they use it, the program keeps track of where they left off, so they could resume the learning the next time they logged in.  I found the progress reports to be a helpful tool.  You have the option to print off their progress reports and use them how ever you wish.  This is a great to put into their portfolio if you desire.

Check out this fun video from Times Alive.

 

City Creek Press

Times Alive is created by City Creek Press.  It you are looking for great learning products to boost your child’s learning and retention skills, be sure to check out all of their other great products such as books, DVD’s, Computer programs, etc.  They have been producing learning programs since 1992 and many of their resources have proven to boost student skills and retention above 95% with some post test scores reaching 98%.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LearnMultiplication/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F35_ZRpRzJI

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what other families on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Times Alive in their home.  The Homeschool Review Crew is a great way to see how products fit into different families with different learning styles.  There is a wide variety of families who volunteer to try out these great products and share their experience.  I hope you will check it out!

Please share.

Schoolhouse Teachers

If you are looking for curriculum, or help with lesson planning, or just want a helpful time management resource, you might want to try SchoolhouseTeachers.com  They sent us a  Yearly Membership to review.  

Whether you want education courses (preschool through highschool), or you just want some resources for managing your household more efficiently, they have something for everyone and you can get started for just $1. Be sure to check out the website for special offers too.  They currently are running a great sale for 50% off their yearly membership.

 

Schoolhouse Teachers.com

Online Education Resource

300+ courses

Preschool through Highchool

Resources for Teachers

Resources for Parents

Yearly Membership – Premium Access

Our Thoughts about SchoolhouseTeachers.com

I spent some time looking around this website and planning several of the courses they offer in our curriculum for the remainder of this year.  I am impressed with the huge variety of resources available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  

We have 6 kids and they range from preschool to highschool.  We have a child in preschool, first grade, third grade, sixth grade, eight grade, and tenth grade.   Having a resource like this with something for each one of them, all in one place, and for one low price, is a huge blessing!

There are no additional textbooks required.  The classes are an online format and video format.  They offer printouts with various classes and you can print as many as you need.  Some classes may suggest additional reading materials that can easily be found online or free at a local library. They offer lots of planning resources to coordinate your classes and materials so you can plan your days, weeks, months out as far as you want to best meet the needs of you and your family.

We can choose a class based on the grade level or based on the subject matter.  We are not locked into selecting a class and we can change the class at any time.  There are 300 classes and we can choose one class, two classes, or we can do all 300!  There is only one small fee and our entire family can benefit.  This is such an amazing opportunity to learn what we want when we want.

I love everything they offer, but I am especially fond of the support they have for parents just getting started and for veteran homeschool parents of highschoolers.   They walk you through the homeschool process at each stage and grade level.  They have help for families with children of special needs too.

Some of the supportive benefits of using this program with my older students for me as a parent of older are: Portfolio Assistance, Tracking Courses,  Report Cards, A Scheduler, and help creating Transcripts with lots of tips and suggestions.

Another resource that I am so excited about is the menu planner.  They have recipes organized for months at a time.  Not only can I use them, but I can also use these to motivate the older kids to plan and fix meals too.

My younger kids are excited about all of it.  This resource opens so many fun classes for them.   They are excited about the art classes, unit studies, guitar classes and Spanish.   My oldest is excited about the science classes and foreign languages he will be able to complete for his highschool credits.

I am thrilled will be able to do these classes together from the comfort of our home.  I don’t have to hop into the van and run them to lessons here and there which takes a lot of time and extra resources.  I am also excited we can go at our own pace.  We can log in when we want and stop when we want and each class will keep track of our progress no mater how fast or how slow we go.

Check out this short video clip to hear first hand from another homeschool mom about how easy it is to use SchoolhouseTeachers.com with her family.

50% Off Special Offer:

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is running a 50% off special offer until January 15th.   LOCK IN NOW at the $9.95/month rate so that you save 50% on the NEW regular price that will go up the 15th of January to $19.95 /month. Even at the full price, this is such a great deal the whole family will benefit from using!  And if you just want to try it out, you can get started for $1.

Social Media:

Be sure to follow SchoolhouseTeachers.com on their social media links for all the latest news on resources, course updates, and special sales offers.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SchoolhouseTeachers/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TOSMag/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tosmag/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/118111005169451277551/posts

 

The Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out how other Homeschool Review Crew families used SchoolhouseTeachers.com in their homes.

 

Please share.

The Beginner’s Bible

The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz is a great way to encourage children to listen and read Bible stories.  We were sent The Beginner’s Bible for review and I was very excited to receive this new updated version with bright 3D art work and fun illustrations to use in our home.

  The Beginner’s Bible

Hardcover Book

512 Pages

90 Brightly Illustrated Bible Stories

Retails for $16.99

Additional discounts up to 50% for bulk purchases

Recommended for Kids ages 6 and under (Read Aloud)

Easy Read for kids 7-8

But also great as an easy reader for older kids and ESL too.

The Beginner’s Bible was first released in 1989, and has sold over 25 million copies in the past 27+ years.   25 MILLION!  That is an amazing testimony of how this wonderful gem, filled with timeless wisdom, is to share with each generation of children around the world.

Why Use An Illustrated Bible For Kids?

There are many reasons to use the bible in your home.  It is so important to incorporate the truths from the bible in raising children.  It is Father God’s love letter and instruction manual to all of his children, young and old.   Using an illustrated Bible helps kids “picture” the events and people they are learning about.  I like this illustrated version because it simplifies the learning for younger children without taking away from the message that God put there for us to learn.

In addition to advice and instructions in the Bible, you also read about the fascinating lives of the men and women who lived during the time it was written.   Reading the Bible actually causes your faith, and your children’s faith, in Father God and his son Jesus to grow.  The bible helps you see how consistently faithful God is and how much he loves us.  It shows you the ups and downs in people’s lives and how God brought them through the good and bad experiences that people live through.

The bible teaches us how to handle good and bad experiences we go through in life and how to trust in God who hears our prayers and helps guide us everyday.  The bible gives us values to live by called a biblical worldview.  People still go through good and bad experiences today and we need God more now than ever.  The bible tells us about his only begotten son he sent to save mankind from their sin and eternal separation from God.  Jesus paid the price so that we can spend eternity with God if we will believe, love and obey his teachings.

A few ways we can incorporate using The Beginner’s Bible with kids in our every day life:

  • Read aloud by parents, grandparents, and older siblings.
  • Read along for beginners.
  • Independent reading for beginners.
  • Circle Time, Quiet Time, Bed Time
  • Story telling.
  • Retelling the stories using additional props such as  Legos, Crafts, Puppets, Diorama, Costumes, etc.
  • Homeschool Projects, Home, Bible Study, Get Togethers, Sunday School
  • Create Lap Books, Note Books, Timelines, etc.
  • Writing Practice as children copy the story onto their own notebook pages.
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)

The Beginner’s Bible Experience In Our Home

We have been using The Beginner’s Bible since the beginning of having children in our family.   Let me see…that is over 16+ years!  We received our first copy as a gift when our oldest was born.   We have purchased a few more copies over the years.  Our current version is still on our bookshelf and has lasted through lots of little hands, quiet times on the couch, and several moves across country.  This illustrated bible for kids has been a family favorite of ours for many years.   We have six kids and each one started their Bible learning with The Beginner’s Bible.

We have made it a priority to spend time reading in the bible each day.  Our younger kids listen to bible stories being read to them and our older kids read the bible themselves and also read to their younger siblings.

Once a week we set aside time for the kids to retell bible stories they have learned.  They can choose any props or make crafts or use Legos, etc.  The older boys also like to make Lego stop motion movies to retell the events in the bible stories.

Sometimes we turn the learning adventure into a Unit Study and spend an entire month on a specific theme such as “forgiveness” or “Ancient Egypt” or “the miracles of Jesus” etc. This is a great way for the kids to learn hands on and practice sharing what they have learned with each other and also share with daddy when he gets home from work.

There are 90 stories in this illustrated Bible.   That is over a year’s worth of stories if you focus on learning one new story a week.   Or complete it in a year if you read two stories a week.  If you want to go faster, you could read this in 90 days if you do one story each day.  You can go at a pace that works best for your family.

Another great way to use The Beginner’s Bible with your kids is to include the free printables and games on The Beginner’s Bible Website (recommended for kids 12 and under).   Perhaps you can print them off as you read each story or print them off ahead of time and make a folder with the printables for each story and build a story unit study.   You can also add more materials to your folders as you find additional resources.

Since we love making unit studies with stories we read, we are using two to three related stories each week.  It will take us about a year to do the entire book at this pace.

Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study

Be sure to check out a story I posted using The Beginner’s Bible called Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study.  Unit Studies are one of our favorite ways to learn.  They are cross-curricular and subjects (math, history, art, science, language, etc) follow a theme, they are hands on,  and they help children retain what they have learned. 

We took advantage of all of the free printables and suggested activities, including the FREE sample curriculum lesson plan called “Jesus Rescues the Lost” and created our own unit study.  These resources are made especially for The Beginner’s Bible and help kids understand the stories and truths even more as the activities engage more of their senses (listening, coloring, drawing, eye hand coordination, decision making, etc) in a hands on way.

The “Jesus Rescues the Lost” Lesson Plan suggested reading three of the stories from The Beginner’s Bible “The Lost Sheep“; The Good Samaritan“; and “The Lost Son” , watching  the lesson video, a list of several “Bible Verses” to read from a regular Bible, and a “Memory Scripture Verse” for the kids to memorize, as well as a helpful “Teaching Point” to focus the lesson on.

The lesson plan provided me with a master supply list for activities, and suggested optional supplies for craft projects (we made sheep puppets and a shepherd staff), printouts, and a skit for the kids to act out with props, and a take home family page.

This was a lot of fun for the kids.  You could spend a week on this lesson, or take three weeks while focusing on understanding one story each week.

Noah and the Lego Ark

Check out another story I posted using The Beginner’s Bible in  Noah and the Lego Ark .

We used The Beginner’s Bible and Legos as a way to retell the bible story of Noah.  That story includes more fun ideas on using this children’s illustrated Bible in fun hands on learning ways.

More Learning Fun

After reading the stories in The Beginner’s Bible, my kids love to watch the animated videos by the same company.

You can find these on “youtube.”  There is also an APP from their website for these stories, games, and videos for your smart phone.

The videos are a great way to reinforce the learning.  They are entertaining and engaging.   We set aside time to fix a snack like pretzels and apple slices and my kids sit down to watch the bible stories.

Check The Beginner’s Bible website and youtube for more details on fun ways to enhance the learning.

The Beginner’s Bible

Website & Teaching Resources

Please check out The Beginner’s Bible website for wonderful FREE resources to compliment your child’s learning and enjoyment using The Beginner’s Bible.

They have free printouts for coloring pages, word puzzles, mazes, online learning games etc.  Print as many copies as you need and create your own folders filled with fun learning projects to go along with the bible stories.

Free Stuff From The Website To Use With The Beginner’s Bible:

  • Coloring Pages (40+ printable coloring activities)
  • Drawing Pages (I loved these!)
  • Read Together Sheets (print and bind these for an additional story book)
  • Writing Sheets (practice writing letters and numbers)
  • Place Mats and Posters (so many uses!)
  • Book Marks (everybody needs book marks!)
  • Mazes
  • Paint Online
  • Online Games, Quizzes, etc
  • Word Puzzles Printouts
  • Matching
  • Videos
  • Recommended Bible Story Reading Schedule for the year.
  • APP for your phone or electronic device with stories and activities.

They also offer 2 lessons for free from their curriculum kit:  “Creation” and  “Jesus Rescues the Lost” .  I would encourage you to get a copy of these free lesson plans and see how easy it is to use this illustrated Bible in your learning adventures.

If you want to purchase the complete lesson plans, they are available for an additional purchase on the Zonderkidz website and are called “The Beginner’s Bible Curriculum Kit”.  After using the free lesson plan they offered, I think this would be a great resource.  It would make it simple to use The Beginner’s Bible as a curriculum and the lesson planning work is all done for you.

The kit comes with a hardback copy of The Beginner’s Bible and a DVD with a year’s worth of lesson plans including 30 teaching lessons that incorporate the 90 bible stories, and a DVD with 28 animated video stories, fun activities, and lots of additional classroom use ideas.   There is also a family take-home page for each lesson for kids to share with their parents and to further the learning at home.

The Beginner’s Bible Is Fun For Kids

The Beginner’s Bible is full of faith building stories and fun illustrations to enhance the learning.  It is a wonderful gift for your children and grandchildren, classrooms, and kids clubs.   Zonderkidz also offers resources in English and Spanish, I can Read Books, The Beginner’s Bible Deluxe, The Beginner’s Bible For Little Ones, The Beginner’s Bible Curriculum Kit, etc.  as well as additional resources on their website.   I think using this children’s Bible is a an essential piece for teaching young children about the stories and people of the Bible.   Every page is filled with full-color illustrations that retell 90 Bible stories in a fun and engaging way.

Our younger kids love the bright colors of the illustrations in this children’s Bible.  Looking at colorful pictures helps keep their attention whether they are listening to it as a read aloud, or if they are reading the stories for themselves.  It is a great way to include Bible learning in our home and incorporate into our homeschool learning too.  I am sure they will continue to use this treasure this illustrated Bible for many more years to come.

AWARDS

The Beginner’s Bible was named the 2006 Retailers Choice Award winner in Children’s Nonfiction.

Social Media

Be sure to connect with Zonderkidz on their social media links for all the latest news, special offers, and resources to further the learning.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zonderkidz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/zonderkidz

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/zondervan

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/zondervanp/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zondervan/

The Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out how other families on the Homeschool Review Crew used this product in their homes.

Please share.

GrapeVine Studies Reivew

Have you wanted to remember your bible study?  Do you easily forget what you have read? When I think about history, and how people remembered stories to tell the next generation, they often used a variety of stick figure pictures to convey their message.  Stick figures are universal and easy to make and understand for most people of all ages.  The artifacts we have left show that people either drew them with charcoal or painted them onto rocks or cave walls, drew or carved shells or beads, and some people carved them into walking sticks, bone or wooden boxes, and totem poles.  However the story was shared, simple stick figure drawings have been a form of communication and remembering stories since the beginning of time.

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We were recently sent a product called Birth of Jesus: Multi Level Bible Curriculum from GrapeVine Studies to learn how to stick figure our way through the bible and understand and remember what we have learned.

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Stick figuring through the bible is a revolutionary yet ancient idea for helping your kids understand and remember their bible verses.  You can bring the story to life and make the stories easy to share with pictures like ancient people’s did.  I have seen this phenomenon going around for the past few years, some folks use doodles and paints, and some bible studies use stick figures.  I came across a homeschool mom’s website a few years ago who had been stick figuring through the bible with her kids and I was fascinated with the idea and put it on my “someday” to do list to learn more.   Well my “someday” finally arrived a few months ago when we were sent GrapeVine Studies curriculum to review in our homeschool.

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Birth Of Jesus: Multi Level

GrapeVine Studies

For Elementary Age Students

e-book PDF Download (other formats available)

Price varies depending on format you choose, see website for purchase details.

This is a whole new way to do Bible Study with your family!

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What We Received:

Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level Student e-Book:

  • Ages 7+
  • lessons pages,
  • timelines,
  • map,
  • memory verses,
  • and reviews.
  • 48 pages.

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Traceable for Multi-Level e-Book:

  • Ages 3-6
  • lessons pages,
  • timelines,
  • map,
  • memory verses,
  • reviews
  • 48 pages.

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Birth of Jesus Teacher’s e-Book:

  • lesson notes,
  • stick figure drawings,
  • lesson goals & key points,
  • memory verses,
  • review questions & answers.
  • 64 pages

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How We Used GrapeVine Studies

The first thing I did when I received my e-books was print them out.  I hole punched them and placed them into a 3 ring binder, but many of my friends also take them to the local office store and have them spiral bound for ease of use.  You can also purchase GrapeVine Studies books already printed and bound and ready to use, they come in several format options to fit your needs.

Next you need to get your supplies ready and put them in a basket, milk crate or an easily accessible container for bible study time.

Supplies:

Supplies Needed To Complete GrapeVine Studies Include:

  • Lesson pages for each student
  • Teachers Book pages for lesson instructions
  • Bible
  • Bible Dictionary
  • Atlas of the Bible Lands
  • Dry erase board and/or a chalk board (for mom)
  • Dry erase markers and/or chalk (for mom)
  • Colored pencils

I gave each child their own binder, and we worked on the GrapeVine Studies with our bible study for 10 minutes to 20 minutes four days a week.   For my younger children I give them the traceable pages, and the older children I give the blank pages for them to draw out the story. This study is meant to last 5 weeks by doing 4 lessons each week or a total of 128 lessons.  Each product from GrapeVine Studies is different so be sure to check the length of other products if you are looking for a longer or shorter time frame.

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Schedule 10 to 20 Minutes Each Day

  • Monday: Timeline Review Page
  • Tuesday: Lesson page 1
  • Wednesday: Lesson page 2
  • Thursday: Student Drawing Page

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Extra Day 5 (Friday).  We added our own ideas to further the learning for Fridays.  We did a variety of things like have the kids retell the story, make a lego creation to retell the story, act out the story, etc.  Check out our Further the Learning Ideas posted below if you would like to do this study in 5 days a week instead of 4. This product is very flexible and you can adapt it to your needs.

Further the Learning:

These are our “extra” ideas for making the GrapeVine Studies into a 5 day curriculum.  We love Unit Studies, and I felt this curriculum was easy to expand into a fun bible unit study for my kids to enjoy.  This is a great curriculum to accompany what you are already doing or to stand on its own.  You can include it for circle time with younger children, individual study for older children, or family bible study too.  We made it into the bible portion of our unit study learning about the Birth Of Jesus.   This is such a flexible curriculum and easy to adapt to any situation.

Field Trip:

  • Take a field trip to a local museum and look at artifacts that contain stick figures.  Have the children compare these with their stick figures of bible stories.
  • Take a virtual field trip online and learn about stick figures on ancient artifacts and on cave walls.

Screenshot (281)Ancient “Jonah” stick figure. (Image source)

Recent discoveries of ancient Jewish artifacts reveals a rich history of stick figures and even their written language reveals stick figures.  Here is a picture of the story of Jonah discovered on a tomb in 2012.    You can find many examples like this to look at with your children in museums and online.

Study Language:

Ancient Greek and Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, as well as many other languages look like stick figures. Find examples of these languages online and have the kids guess what story they are telling, or what the different characters stand for.  See if they can identify stick figures and a story in ancient writings.  Check out wikipedia for an explanation of the history of stick figures in history.

Gift Idea:

  • Have the kids make a stick figure bible verse card for someone’s birthday, holiday, or anniversary.
  • Using cinamon sticks or tree branch sticks and hot glue, have the kids recreate a scene from their GrapeVine Studies and give this as a gift.
  • GrapeVine Studies stick figure scene painted or drawn onto rocks to give away as paperweights or give a whole story on rocks that can be displayed to retell the story.

Snack Ideas:

  • Have the kids make pretzel stick figures with pretzels, raisins, mini marshmallows, olives.
  • They could also use cheese sticks and olives with the help of a toothpick inbetween to hold them together.
  • Another fun idea would be to bake a stick figure scene from the GrapeVine studies with a bread stick dough.  Have the kids shape their stick figure scene on a cookie sheet and bake it to look just like their page.  This could be their centerpiece on the table at supper as they share the bible story with daddy or company who might come to visit, especially if using the Birth Of Jesus or the Resurection of Jesus GrapeVine Study near the holidays.

Arts and Craft Ideas:

  • Decorate a binder with stick figure animations to personalize it and hold their GrapeVine Studies bible study pages.  You can also create a lapbook, or create lapbook flaps they can keep in their binder to store maps, or mini booklets, etc that you might want to include if doing this as a unit study.
  • Go outside and find some sticks and and make puppets re-create one of the bible story’s they studied in their GrapeVine Studies.    Use the GrapeVine Studies pages as a script to re-tell the story with their stick figure puppets.
  • Use chalk and draw their GrapeVines Studies onto the side walk at a park or public area to share the gospel with others.
  • Paint rocks with the bible story using stick figure story ideas from GrapeVines Studies.  Retell the story to family and friends.   Could make a special bag or box and give this as a gift to a loved one that they could then display in their home.   This would be great to stick figure paint the nativity on rocks for Christmas too.

Lego Skit Ideas:

Legos look kind of “stick figure like” and every kid I know loves to play with Legos.  Using the pages from GrapeVine Studies as their written skit, have the kids re-tell the story using Legos. This is one of my kids favorite “extra” learning activities.

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Final Thoughts

I was really excited to review this product.  When I was younger,  I used to doodle in my bible and made notes in the margins.  It was my attempt to understand what I was reading and remember it.  Nowadays, I mostly use a spiral bound notebook to keep my bible study notes.

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Handwriting out long notes during bible study doesn’t really work for most of my children, especially my younger children, because they are not yet strong readers or writers.   Thanks to GrapeVine Studies we now know the kids can keep their bible study notes drawn in stick figure form, and they will remember what they have learned and be able to retell the story themselves.

Social Media

Be sure to check out GrapeVine Studies on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GrapevineStudies
Twitter: https://twitter.com/grapevinestudy
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/grapevinestudy/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Grapevinestudies/posts
Periscope: @Grapevine Studies

Grapevine Studies Review

Be sure to check out what other families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using GrapeVine Studies in their homes.

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Eat Your Science Homework Review

We are having a BLAST reviewing Eat Your Science Homework by Ann McCallum Books.

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Have you ever thought of your kitchen as a science lab? Well you will now with this yummy science book full of experiments that will please your kid’s tummy, entice their taste buds, and satisfy their curiosity.

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Eat Your Science Homework

Ages 7-10 (flexible to use for all ages)

Large Full Color Illustrations,

48 High Quality Glossy Pages

Softcover Retails for $7.94

Hardcover Retails for $16.95

Science Adventures

This book covers six fun science adventures to help kids learn about the Scientific Method, Atoms and Molecules, Properties of Matter, Inherited Traits, Rocks and Minerals, and Our Solar System.  There is a free Educator’s Guide to help you teach each adventure.   For each science adventure has an introduction, a recipe, and a science experiment to complete after making the recipe.   Each science adventure includes vocabulary words, a fun recipe to make in the kitchen, an experiement using the scientific method, and fun colorful illustrations to read. Each adventure teaches science concepts in an easy to learn hands on way.

Recipes

There are six delicious recipes to make, one recipe for each science adventure.  Steps to complete for each recipe:

  • Before You Begin: Prep work to do ahead of making the recipe.  Examples might be preheating the oven to the correct baking temperature.
  • Ingredients: A list of food times and quantities to make the recipe.  Examples might be 1 egg, 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, etc.
  • Equipment: Equipment needed to complete the recipe.  Examples might be a muffin pan, mixing bowl, spatula, etc.
  • Method: Steps to put the ingredients together and then bake or use whatever method to achieve the finished results.

Educator’s Guide

Free Downloadable Teacher’s Guide available on the website.  This guide has great tips and printouts for you to further the learning.  It does not follow the book exactly, and all of the experiments are not discussed.  Instead the guide gives you a general feel for how to use the book to enhance learning.  The guide offers insight into a couple of the experiments (Atoms and Molecules: Atomic Popcorn Balls, Inherited Traits: Loop Whirl, and Arch Cookies) and has a few additional experiments ( 1+1 Doesn’t = 2; Talk About Tiny; Fingerprint Knowhow; Thumbs Up; Volcanoes and Heat; Science Sampler: Fondue) an icebreaker Bingo game; and worksheet printouts.

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30+ Vocabulary Words

There are over 30 science vocabulary words and terms in this book.  The teacher’s guide has printouts your kids can write out each vocabulary word, their own definition, the actual definition, and include a picture.  There are partially completed pages where the kids only need to fill in their own definition and picture and the word and actual definition are already completed, and there is also a blank template for kids to fill it all in themselves.  You can choose the level you need for your kids based on age and skill.

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What We Are Learning:

We are about 1/2 of the way through this funtastic book!  I hope to finish it before the holidays and buy the next book in the series.   This book is a fun way to teach 30+ science concepts and vocabulary words with six easy to make and delicious recipes.

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We are learning about the Scientific Method, Atoms and Molecules, Properties of Matter, Inherited Traits, Rocks and Minerals, and the Solar System.

Scientific Method

  • Question: How to ask a question.
  • Make A Hypothesis:  Make a hypothesis or guess about the answer.
  • Experiment
  • Procedure
  • Observe: Observe and analyze what happens.
  • Conclude: Form a conclusion about the answer to the question.

Atoms and Molecules

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We popped popcorn and made Atomic Popcorn Balls.  We learned about the periodic table and atoms and molecules.  We pop popcorn weekly at our house, but this is the first time the kids turned them into popcorn balls.  I used to make them years ago for holidays, but stopped when I became more health conscious.  But it was fun to make them for science!

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Properties of Matter

Density Dressing and Veggie Sticks.  This was really fun as we made homemade dressing for our vegetables to dip in.  We have eaten veggies and dip many times, but never learned about density,  and properties of matter.

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Invisible Ink Snack Pockets.  We are looking forward to making this experiement soon.  The kids will learn about pH and and will make our own personalized version of hot pockets (like a pocket of bread crust stuffed with pizza toppings) and will be able to write on the outside that reappears when they are finished baking.

Inherited Traits

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This was one of the kids favorite science adventures in this book. They were able to make cookies and study inheritance and fingerprints.  My kids read recipes and make cookies all the time.  We have learned math and measurements and conversions many times in the kitchen.  BUT this is the first time we have turned cookies into a science experiment.  I will post a future story about making these cookies.

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Rocks and Minerals

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This section teaches the kids about weights of different minerals and rocks.  They learn about the periodic table and about sedimentation.  They make a Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna (a lasagna made from pizza topping ingredients and lasagna noodles).    We have this science adventure planned for next week and the kids are really looking forward to it.

Our Solar System

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With this section kids learn about gravity, black holes, mass, matter.  They will bake muffins with pancake mix and sausage to demonstrate these concepts.  We are planning to make these muffins during our Thanksgiving holiday for breakfast.  We will keep you posted in an upcoming story about this.  The kids are hoping they will like the taste and I think they will because they have had a sandwich made with pancakes on the outside and a sausage patty on the inside, so I think these will have a similar flavor even though they are in a muffin shape.  We will tie in more Solar System learning the week before and I think this experiment and recipe will be a lot of fun.

Though my kids have been cooking for many years already, they have learned a lot of new things with this fun book and will look at cooking in the kitchen in a whole new way.  They see the kitchen classroom in a whole new way.   I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this science book.

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About the Creator’s

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Author: Ann McCallum is an award winning author and a highschool teacher.  She currently teaches in Maryland, USA and has also has years of teaching experience in Canada and the United Arab Emirates.  She has authored several books for learning books for children of all ages: Eat Your Science Homework, Eat Your Math Homework, Eat Your History Homework, Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and The Measure of a Giant.  Ann McCallum Books has some of the funniest titles for curriculum your kids are going to love.

Illustrator: Leeza Hernandez is an award winning graphic designer, author, and illustrator in both England and the USA.  Her works are featured in books, magazines, and newspapers.

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Social Media

Be sure to follow Ann McCallum Books on their Social Media links:

BLOG:   http://www.charlesbridge.com/blogs/news

e-Newsletter:   http://www.charlesbridge.com/pages/sign-up-for-our-newsletter

Ann McCallum Books Review

Check out what other Homeschool Families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using products from Ann McCallum in their home.

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Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

We took a day trip last week and enjoyed listening to the newest audio drama release from  Brinkman Adventures.

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The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3

5 Hours of Adventures

Recorded on 4 CD’s.

12 Episodes

Each episode is approximately 25+ minutes long.

For ALL Ages

Retails for $27.99  (purchase by donation only, whatever amount you feel led to give)

MP3 download version also available.   See web site for more details.

What is included:

These are short stories told in audio drama style of mission trips taken by real missionaries. They are full of suspense, daring escapes, and total reliance on God for provision and safety and making a way where there is no way.   They are inspiring and faith building.   They challenge you to believe and share your faith in Jesus Christ, to believe in the God of the impossible, Jehovah, and his love for mankind.

These stories are full of the kind of exciting adventures my kids loved!

This set contains 4 Disks.  Stories on each disk include:

Disk 1

  • Ep. 01 – God’s Mule.
  • Ep. 02 – Mountain Mover.
  • Ep. 03 – Silent Ambassador

Disk 2

  • Ep. 04 – Translating Trouble
  • Ep. 05 – Man-Up
  • Ep. 06 – Acorns & Oaks

Disk 3

  • Ep. 07 – A Saint’s Story Pt 1
  • Ep. 08 – A Saint Story pt 2
  • Ep. 08 – A Saint Story pt 2 (2)
  • Ep. 09 – Untouched

Disk 4

  • Ep. 10 – Busy Bees and a Bullhorn
  • Ep. 11 – Missionary Tourist Pt 1
  • Ep. 12 – Missionary Tourist Pt 2

How We Used The Brinkman Adventures, Episode 3:

We enjoyed these CD’s so much!  We took it with us on a day trip to enjoy the beauty of the fall and listen to amazing stories (testimonies) of God working in peoples lives. The kids were on the edge of their seat the whole time we listened to these stories on our trip.  They wouldn’t let a moment go by when one disk ended, they immediately wanted me to put the next disk into the player.

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I know we will listen to these audio drama’s again and again.   We have been audio drama fans for many many years.   When our children were very little we first began listening to christian missionary CDs and audio bible dramas for kids.  It is such a fun way to learn to listen and go on an adventure by listening and imagining all the places and people and events being described.

Here are a few examples of the fun stories we listened to:

In the first story, Ep. 1- God’s Mule, the missionary Tomas, secretly transports bibles to closed countries and has to rely on God to help in big and small ways to accomplish this impossible task that could land him in prison or even killed.

In the second story, Ep. 2 – Mountain Mover, another story about Tomas, he secretly smuggled 4,000 bibles in 14 years, then 5,000 bibles in one trip, and 10,000 bibles in another trip in 100 suitcases that the authorities never opened and their machines broke just as he and his team approached the lines to be inspected.  God showed his power in mighty ways to protect Tomas and make a way for the impossible.

In the third story, Ep 3 – Silent Ambassador, a young girl named Evyline becomes a kid with a mission.  She puts a kids club together and organizes the collection and filling of 200 shoeboxes of supplies for Operation Christmas Child.  When they learn about what she has done, she gets to become an Ambassador for the charity and travel around the country speaking on their behalf and also travel to the Dominican Republic to deliver the charity’s 100 millionth shoebox.

Story after story, 12 stories in all, each one will inspire you and your kids to live bigger and bolder and more outrageous for God.  They will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and trust God to do the impossible to help you spread the news of his kingdom.

Further the Learning:

Play It Out:  One of the best parts of being a kid is getting to play.  Role play, active play, imaginative play, you name it and play is just fun and a great way to learn.  My kids were so inspired by the stories, they wanted to act out some of the adventures at the park.  We had been on the road for several hours and were headed back home but decided to stop and let them stretch their legs and their imaginations.  This was a great opportunity for them to imagine crossing bridges, climbing mountains, escaping dangers, and reaching areas of the world with the gospel.

Fall at Park

Map It:  Print out or draw out a world map.  Have the kids locate where in the world the mission assignment takes place.  Then have them learn more about that country and the culture of the people who live there.  If it is known what country or state the missionary came from, have them mark that too.  They can then find out what it cost to travel to that country, live there, and what kind of finances a missionary would need to complete the assignment. Perhaps this will inspire them to help raise money for missions.  At the bare minimum it will expand their understanding of the geographic locations of different peoples around the world.

Art It: Draw It/Color It/Paint It.  This activity does so much to help a person’s mind understand and remember the story.  We have found this activity to be very inspirational.  You can start with a blank page and let the kids draw the story, or give them a printed coloring page (many free ones available online) and have them color either during or after the story.

Unit Study: We loved these CD’s so much that we are going to go around the world in 12 weeks with them. We are going to create 12 mini unit studies and take 1 audio drama a week and listen and study the country the missionary went to and the people who live there.  We will fill in a map, make a timeline of events, make a recipe, a craft, and pray for the missionary and people they are reaching every day that week.  We will start on a small scale and do this for 12 weeks, one missionary story a week,  starting in January.

Curriculum:  There are so many areas you could incorporate these stories on CD with your curriculum: Bible, Language Arts, Culture Studies, Geography, History, Travel, Politics, Religion, Public Speaking, etc.  I would like to create some lesson plans and put something together for next year for a year long missions focused curriculum.  Perhaps we can turn Brinkman Adventures into a year long missions unit study, or keep it to the 12 weeks and fill in the rest of the year with their other audio volumes 1 and 2.  I found some great resources online for kids to learn about missions including worksheets, crafts, and lots of activities.  Also on their website are short written stories about each missionary and more information about their real life experience.  Brinkman Adventures also offers a curriculum called Ignite for ages 8-12 for $49 suggested donation.  This looks really good and may be an option for folks who don’t have time or feel comfortable to make their own lesson plans.

Invite Friends: I could really see this as a 12 month course and do this with a homeschool coop either in a local area or online with other families.  It would also be great to do with a bible study and with a youth group.   If doing with a bible study or youth group, I would definately check into Brinkman Adventures pre-made curriculum.  I am considering putting an online coop together and get several other homeschool families together on this with us, each family getting their own CD’s, and then we can follow some lesson plans to further the learning and put our faith in action, and finally do a blog hop online where all the families can share our experiences together. Let me know if you want to participate in this project.

Stay tuned for a future updates on this project.  Perhaps we can get missionary companies to offer a give away here or perhaps we can even help them raise funds for their missions outreach and needs.  Let me know if you want to participate in this adventure.  I think this has the potential to be life transforming if we can catch the vision for it!

Social Media

Be sure to follow Brinkman Adventures on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.  They currently offer three volumes on CD sets with amazing missionary stories.  They also have a pre-made curriculum with lesson plans called Ignite that looks great.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brinkman-Adventures-152895116079/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BrinkmanAdventures/videos/

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

Check out what other homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using Brinkman Adventures in their home.

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Online Homeschool Classes with SDA Review

Homeschool parents are blessed to be able to design their kids education as they see best. They pull the educational resources from a variety of places such as books, videos, library resources, local community programs, coops, field trips, life skills, etc.  Sometimes the parents create their own curriculum and sometimes they buy it pre-made, and sometimes they do a blend of both.  Homeschooling is such a blessing to be able to customize your children’s education to fit each child’s individual interests and the priorities and goals of your family.

SDA

If you are looking for a pre-made online course that has everything your student needs to complete the subject of study, then you might want to try Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate.  They offer a variety of affordable classes for 3rd Greade through Adult, including some college prep classes.

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Homeschool Courses

Arithmetic (grades 3+)
Fundamental Math (grades 4+)
Earth Science (grades 6+)
Nutrition (grades 6+)
Biology (grades 7+)
Algebra (grades 7+)
Chemistry (grades 9+)
English Comp (grades 9+)
U. S. History (grades 9+)
AP Biology (grades 11+)
AP Chemistry (grades 11+)
AP History (11+)
AP U. S. Gov. & Politics (grades 11+)
AP Eng. Composition (grades 11+)

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Each Course is $9.99 per month and can be used with up to 5 students per family.  So you can have 5 of your kids all studying the same subject for only $9.99!!!  That is a deal!   If you want to study two subjects that month, such as: nutrition, and history at the same time, then 5 kids in the same house can learn 2 subjects and it would cost you $9.99 x 2 = $19.98 per month for the two classes!  You can buy a lifetime membership for up to 10 students for all of the SDA classes available (currently 14 courses) for one low discounted price of $795 (forever access).

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HIGHSCHOOL CREDIT CLASSES!!

That is a deal!

Each course offers a full year of curriculum, but your student (s) may finish the class as quick or as slow as they desire.  Each child has their own dash board that they log into and it keeps track of their individual progress.

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The classes are always open 24/7 so it is flexible for your schedule, and you can work on it as much as you want to.   It contains a variety of videos, note taking, interactive quizzes, writing, reviews, exams, and you can access the courses through your desktop computer, mobile laptop, and smart device like a tablet too.  This greatly increases your options of where and when you can find flexible time to work on your school work.  These classes can be used as your main course work or used as a supplemental program.  Some kids may finish a course quicker in a semester, and some will need the whole school year, depending on the subject being studied and how quick your kids go through the program.  For example, we found it takes longer to learn Chemistry or Algebra than it takes to finish the class in American History or Nutrition.

SDA has been producing digital education videos and resources for 20+ years, when two friends got the bright idea to record full length courses and make them funny.  The idea took off and they have won numerous awards for their high quality educational video courses.

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Though SDA has a variety of complete core subjects for middle and highschool students, these are not your usual boring classes.   Instead, they are funny and filled with silly skits that help kids learn and retain the information.

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Homeschool Courses through SDA are a great option for when you need a course instructor, pre-made lessons, quizzes that keeps track of all of the answers and grades and everything all in one.  Basically all you do is turn it on and your child can work through it independently and you can keep track of what they are doing through the parent / teacher dashboard.

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How We Used SDA Homeschool Courses In Our Home:

We have been using SDA for an entire year now.  I feel confident in sharing my experience with you.  We had a 1 year subscription last school year, and we have a 1 year subscription for this year too, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to review this homeschool program for a second time.

Three of my sons are using at least one or more of the classes offered.  We decided to choose classes based on their skill level and interest level.  Last year I just put them in the class even if they were not very interested because I want to expose them to something new and different that we hadn’t done before.  But this year, it is all about what they are interested in.  We are currently using Nutrtion, US History, Mathematics, Biology, Earth Science, and Algebra.

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My kids and I each have our own seperate dashboards on the SDA website.   Each day I have the kids log in and view the video assignment, take notes as they watch the video and save their notes on the computer program.  You can watch this short video about how kids use their dashboard.

After the video and vocabulary learning, they complete any related written work and take the quiz. The notes they type are stored in their “locker” which is a filing system they can keep track of all of their notes for classes.

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On my dashboard, I can view their progress, what areas need more practice or review to improve their understanding.  You can check out this short video on how to set up a teacher account and get your kids set up with with their classes on your dashboard.

Check out this short Teacher Account Video that explains more how this works.

SDA_Lessons

Two of my middle boys are on similar learning levels, and they have enjoyed learning with the Nutrition, US History, and Mathematics courses this past year and have carried them over into this year too.  They have also recently started the Biology course too.  The biology course is a little advanced for my 5th and 7th grade sons, but I want them to take advantage of exploring this opportunity and get familiar with the learning materials.

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Here is a short video clip of one of the topics discussed in nutrition and you can see the humor that is in every video in this example.

Our oldest son is in 9th grade, and he is taking the SDA Homeschool Courses: Nutrition, US History, Biology and Algebra.   I am thankful for a second opportunity to review SDA because this has been very beneficial to retake a class he started last year.  He did great in all but one class last year. Algebra was tougher than he thought it would be.

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He started the Algebra class last year, and had to stop after a couple of months because it was beyond his understanding.   He wasn’t ready for it yet.  So we stopped part way through and he took a pre-Algebra class that he did wonderful in.  Now he is ready for Algebra and has restarted this class and was able to pick up where he left off.   That is another great thing about this program is that it keeps track of your progress and you can go as fast or as slow as you need too.

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Example of Homeschool Algebra:

Homeschool Alegebra curriculum has several benefits for the student and the teacher. Here are just a few:

220 minutes of video (with scrolling transcripts)
54 vocab words (with audio playback)
Note-taking
38 critical thinking questions
205 multiple choice questions
14 drag n’ drop graphic organizers
Re-teaching
Automatic grading
Progress reporting
Meets State and National Standards
RTI alerts
Differentiated Instruction
Editable rubrics
Student-to-teacher messaging

Every class includes the written transcript of the video lessons. This makes it very handy to go back through and read what has been said, take notes etc.

Algebra

Over all my oldest says he likes the curriculum.  He is self motivated to work on it each day. He strives to get good scores on his work and I am proud of his progress.

Homeschool U.S. History:

Another class I will share a little about is the Homeschool U.S. History course for grades 9 and up.  Some of the great features of this curriculum include:

149 minutes of video (with scrolling transcripts)
144 vocab words (with audio playback)
160 multiple choice questions
Note-taking
29 critical thinking questions
14 drag n’ drop graphic organizers
Meets State and National Standards
Progress reporting, Editable rubrics, Re-teaching
Automatic grading, and Student-to-teacher messaging

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My 13 year old is taking US History, Nutrition, and Biology.  He began the US History curriculum last year while in 6th grade and after he struggled though for about three months or so, I came to the realization it was too early for him.  I let him off the hook with it and allowed him to just work through the class as an observer and he worked on it 1 day a week after the initial review period was over.  We typically work on review products 3 to 5 days a week for six weeks to write our honest reviews based on our experience.  But once the review was done last year, the only SDA classes this son was enthused about was the arithmetic and mathematics classes and he did well and he recently finished one of them.  However, I saw that his response to the US History class was different.  When his interest level dropped last year, we decided to take do it once a week.

The problem was two fold. One problem he had was deciphering through some of the immaturity in the funny skits that wasn’t really needed to learn the materials.   The second problem was my fault that I put him in a class he wasn’t yet ready for.

SDA Homeschool US History is for grades 9 and up, and he was only in 6th grade at the time. Though a slower pace worked for him, he felt discouraged about the quizzes and writing things out.   He was able to get about half way through last year and I told him I was proud of him for trying and we would try again when he was a little older.   When the review of SDA was offered again for this year, I knew for sure he wanted to retake this class and improve his score. He is currently taking the class 5 days a week, and completes one lesson a day that takes him about 20 minutes or so.  NO prodding or pushing from me.  This time he is ready and wants to do it.

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He likes audio visual methods of learning and excels when school work is presented in a combined audio video format.  He does not like to read a lot, or write a lot of verbiage, so he doesn’t use the SDA course transcripts (his older brother prefers reading everything including the transcripts). Where he got hung up last year was the writing part of the course.  He didn’t want to write out notes and didn’t like the written parts of the quizzes and the essay answer on the exam last year.  These are wonderful tools to gauge learning, but it is hard to gauge learning when someone is reluctant to do those areas.  But things are much better this time around.

He has gone through a lot of maturing this past year, especially over the summer.   He practiced two writing curriculums this past spring and all through summer.  One writing curriculum was practicing in print and one in cursive, and to my surprise he loved them.  I could not believe it. He could not believe it either.  Suddenly it was easy instead of hard.  Since then he has excelled in his writing skills and is no longer reluctant.  This was just the boost he needed and an answer to my prayer to light a fire inside and desire to learn.   He has greatly improved in reading and writing and motivation!  He desires to get his school work done each day and is working on the SDA courses independently, self motivated, and is enjoying them.  I am thankful for SDAccelerate’s fun video style learning program for him to use.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really like the format of these classes, and how easy and flexible they are to use with homeschooling.  They are great for getting your highschool credits for your transcript too.

However,  as a Christian homeschool parent, there is a word of caution too.  These courses are written from a secular world view and to meet public school core standards.   We do not agree with everything the classes teach and when we come across specific issues, we stop and talk about them.  For example, we disagree with teaching evolution, or that people are related to monkeys, for example.  We believe the earth and all of creation was created by God and our faith plays a big role in our education.  Also sometimes the silliness of the skits take a liberal cultural direction, and imposes a cultural viewpoint rather than an unbiased view.  This can cross over boundaries in many areas of beliefs.   The course work is not written from a Christian perspective and that is something to consider when making curriculum choices.

Pre-made courses can be a good choice in different seasons of life.   As your kids get older, and more independent, or as your life gets busier, this kind of curriculum is very handy.   It also comes in handy when you have a new baby in the house, if you are moving, or if you have little time for prepping a certain course.  Now need to honestly say that I love being creative and making my own curriculum for my younger kids, or tweaking pre-made curriculums for the older kids to fit our family’s needs, but there are times in homeschool life, when having it all done for you is the best option.  The best advice I can give is to weigh out all your priorities, beliefs, and what time you have available to devote to curriculum, and see if SDA Homeschool Courses could work out for you.

Standard Deviants Accelerate on Social Media

Be sure to follow Standard Deviants Accelerate on their social media links for all the latest news, courses, updates, and teaching ideas, and more:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SDAccelerate
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SDAccelerate
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SDAccelerate/
Google+: google.com/+Sdaccelerate
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/CerebellumCorp/videos

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Check out what other homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using Standard Deviants Accelerate with their family.

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Maestro Classics Peter and The Wolf Review

Maestro Classics has a wonderful music appreciation course for kids called Stories in Music. They have 12 wonderful CD’s/MP3 in the series (so far).   I am excited to tell you about our experience with using these in our homeschool learning adventures.

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We are currently reviewing Maestro Classics, Stories in Music: Peter and the Wolf , performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Stories in Music Series

Stories in Music is an award winning Music Appreciation course.  This amazing educational product has won over 50 prestigious awards!

OVER  50  Awards!!!

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The Stories In Music series by Maestro Classic covers 300 classic stories put to music that have been told and retold, some of these stories date back 2,000 years in human history.   Maestro Classics has preserved this amazing history for generations to come.    Stories in Music contains 300 story song combinations, written by the greatest musicians in history, and performed by the London Philharmonic Symphony.

There are 12  CD’s/MP3’s in the the Stories in Music series so far.

  1. Peter and the Wolf
  2. The Nutcracker
  3. The Story of Swan Lake
  4. Carnival of the Animals
  5. My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music
  6. Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
  7. The Tortoise and the Hare
  8. Merry Pranks of Master Till
  9. Casey at the Bat
  10. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  11. The Soldier’s Tale
  12. Juanita la langosta Española

Each CD / MP3 in the Stories in Music series contains:

  • Enjoyable classical music recordings by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and retelling of famous stories.
  • Educational teachings including the creation of the music, the life of the composer, music composition, music appreciation, and more.
  • High quality fully illustrated Educational Booklet with history of the composer, word games, and more.
  • Study Guide e-Book Download that turns your learning adventure into a cross curricular Unit Study!
  • Web site support contains Coloring  Pages, Puzzle Games, Book connections, Hyper-links to more resources found on the internet.

How We Used Peter and The Wolf In Our Home:

For this review, we received Maestro Classics Stories in Music: Peter and the Wolf to use in our homeschool.

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Peter and the Wolf

Music & Story by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) composed in 1936.

Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Produced by Maestro Classics in 2012

For ages 4 and up.
All members of your family at any age will enjoy!

Contains 8 Tracts:

  • Introduction
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • About the Composer Sergei Prokofiev
  • A Russian Peter
  • About the Music
  • Peter and the Wolf (Instrumental)
  • Invitaion to Grandfather’s Party
  • Kalinka

68+ minutes

24 page Activity Booklet

Retails for $16.98 each
Special Bulk Discount: Buy Sets of 3 for $45 or 12 for $150

Great for homeschools, coops, public and private schools,
Music teachers, music appreciation, History supplement, after school programs, and more.

View this short introduction to Peter and The Wolf:

 This program is FANTASTIC!

We enjoyed listening to the CD.  But there is so much more than just listening to this classical music composed by a musical genius so many years ago that has become a classic around the world.  Maestro Classics wants you to jump in and gain a deeper appreciation for the music, the instruments that make the various sounds, the history and the culture at the time it was written, the life of the composer, other people in his or her sphere of influence, and more.  This program is a RICH experience you and your kids will love!

Study Guide

We love using Unit Studies in our Homeschool.  Maestro Classics Curriculum Study Guide is a Music Appreciation Unit Study using the story of Peter and the Wolf as the theme.  This guide is in addition to a 24 page activity mini booklet that comes with the CD.

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Depending on how fast you work through the guide, this curriculum could last you a whole month if you do a project everyday, or even a whole semester or longer if you do one project a week.  Here are a few of the fun things we have done so far with this program to enrich our learning adventure and I have also listed a few future activities we plan to do before we are finished:

History:

1.We learned about Prokofiev’s (the composer) life and career.

2. We learned about history in Russia, and about the Russian people during the 1900’s.

3. We learned about Communism, Joseph Stalin, and the Composer’s Union invented to keep modern music styles out of Russia.

4. He was loved and revered and is still remembered around the world on his birthday.

Future History Activities:

  • Make a history timeline of events in Russia, Ukraine, and the World during  Sergei Prokofiev lifetime from 1891-1953.
  • The study guide gives a movie suggestion to watch the historical-fictional tale of Anastasia, daughter of the Russian Zsar Nicolias II thought to have survived her family’s execution in 1918.  This is still on our to do list.

Geography:

  1. We looked up Russia and the Ukraine on the map and used our Geography skills.
  2. We drew the maps of Russia and Ukraine.   We are currently doing a mapping curriculum about the USA, and the mapping skills the kids are learning helped them with their Map of Russia too.

Future Geography Activities:

  • We plan to do several more Geography activities
  • tracing Prokofiev’s life and musical career on the map and all the places he lived and visited.
  • We also hope to learn more about life in Russia and the Ukraine including games and make some recipes too.

Literature:

1. We read the true Biography of Anastasia.

2. Re-tell the story of Peter and the Wolf differently from one of the other character’s perspectives.  For example, how did the wolf view the events of the story?  We also discussed changing the music by going faster or slower, and choosing different instruments to emphasis different characters.  This changed everything about the story and the kids decided they liked Prokofiev’s choices for the music and characters the best.

3. Read Aloud: We read along to the book of Disney’s Peter and the Wolf.

Future Literature Activities:

  • Learn the Russian Alphabet.
  • Read Russian Poetry.
  • Research more Russian Folk Tales.

Arts & Crafts:

We watched a ballet of Peter and the Wolf performed by the Royal Ballet School.   The dancers wore colorful costumes and it was really fun to watch the story and listen to the music re-told in ballet. The story is divided into 4 short videos and this was very nice to be able to watch them on different days and discuss them as related to our Maestro Classics curriculum.

2.  Create a color wheel and learn about colors.

Color Wheel Craft (image source)

Color Wheel Craft (image source)

3.  We created a simple diorama of the story with Lego’s.  So far we have the boy, his grandpa, the garden wall, pond, bird, duck, and cat.  We are in the process of locating a wolf and making our trees and hunters.   The kids love learning with Lego’s and want to make a stop motion so we have a lot more work to do to practice our poses more with our Maestro Classics CD and hopefully get our timing lined up and be able to share a Lego movie soon.  We may only accomplish one portion as it is a huge endeavor and it takes so many pictures to produce even a few minutes of a stop motion video.   We will share it as soon as we can.

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4. We watched a very informative video and learned how to create the Russian dolls with real eggs by hand with this video.

5. I don’t think we will attempt making the Russian Matryoshka Dolls learning project suggested in the study guide at this time, but we may in the future.  Instead I have printed out a different activity to make an easy set of Russian paper dolls .

6. We also watched a video to make Ukraine style decorated eggs which seemed a little easier and very similar to making / decorating eggs at Easter here in our country.

Future: Arts & Crafts we plan to do:

  • The curriculum study guide suggested studying the abstract art and life of Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter who lived during the same time as the composer of Peter and the Wolf.
  • Make our own abstract art project while we listen to Peter and the Wolf.
  • The curriculum suggests we learn to make Russian Dolls and gives a website with instructions to create painted wooden egg dolls.
  • I would like to make a stained glass project after researching Russian Cathedrals.

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Music Appreciation

This section is the biggest in the study guide.

1.  Listened to the Peter and the Wolf CD.

2. Learned about Russian music with specific Russian sounds and themes.

3. Learned about the Domra (a type of 3 stringed instrument and lute) and other Russian instruments such as the Balalaika (a type of 3 stringed instrument) and Bayan (a type of accordion).

4. Watched a video of people playing Russian folks songs on Russian instruments.

5. Listen to Russian music.  Color or draw what we feel while listening to the music.

6. Learned about Program music vs Absolute music and compare various famous songs.

7. Used online links to learn about various instruments in an orchestra

Future Music Appreciation:

  • Visit a local orchestra performance.
  • Print out the flash cards (instruments, composers, musical instrument families, etc) from links provided in the study guide.
  • Learn about Russian folk dance.

Science:

  1. We learned about the difference in sound and pitch and practiced striking a rubber band, filled a few glasses with water, and strummed strings on a guitar to experience sound and pitch in a hands on way.

2. We enjoyed learning more about science of music and sound on the suggested “neok12” web site.

Future Science Activities We Are Still Working On:

  • We would like to make a few homemade instruments with directions from the web site.   There is instructions for making a drum, a trumpet, and a xylophone. Then, in addition to the fun we will have making and learning to use these instruments,  I would also like to help the kids expand the learning adventure by learning about the real science behind each instrument.
  • I would also like to see the kids make statistical charts from their results that correspond to the level of water in jars and the pitch or length (or size) of strings and their pitch and see what corresponds with what.

Math:

  1. Chess.   The Math activity the kids are encouraged to do involves Prokofiev’s favorite game.  He loved to play chess and kids are encouraged to learn how to play and a web site is given to help them learn.  My kids have already learned to play, and it is also one of their favorite activities.   We play chess at our house several times a week.  So they were excited to learn their school work wanted them to “play” chess and they were happy to do so!

Future Math:

  • I hope to find some more math to tie into this study.
  • Perhaps there is some math related to the music score that we can find.
  • Or calculate how much it would cost to buy instruments to make an orchestra.
  • Or possibly some math involving distances and expenses traveled by the composer as he performed if he lived today verses back then.
  • Maybe there is a Russian geometry or symmetry math project (art and math) we can do.
  • Maybe we can make some calculations about economics, population growth, and gross national products etc from Russia too.

Field Trip & Life Skills Ideas:

Future: We did not get our field trips done yet, but before we are done with this curriculum we are planning these outings:

  • Attend a local orchestra performance.
  • Take a train ride.
  • Visit an art museum that displays Russian art.  Hopefully we will see art from the same time period.
  • Visit a music store and look at the various instruments.
  • Visit a restaurant that serves Russian or Ukrainian food.
  • Make recipes for Russian and Ukrainian food.

LAP BOOK :

Future:

  • We are still working on our Lap Book project with of all the fun learning we have accomplished with Maestro Classic Peter and the Wolf.   This is a work in progress for us and we will continue to work on it for several more weeks yet.  The curriculum guide has some suggestions for worksheets and booklets about history and animals in Russia, games, recipes, etc to put into your lapbook.   We will also have our own additions we have done like our field trips, history timeline, and other activities we found in our research too.

There are other Resources on the web site that vary per the CD you are using include Coloring Pages , Puzzles, and the answers to the booklet that came with the CD.

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Just a personal note:

My Grandmother loves music and is a composer.  Before she got married, she used to sing on the radio.  She taught me about music since I was very young sitting on her lap.  She taught me to read music and sing accapella.  She taught me to harmonize and we all sang as a family.  She also taught my father about music and he was a music minister in his local church.  He encouraged me to sing accapella along side him in church, sing to the guitar with him when in public, and he bought me a clarinet and taught me how to play it.  He could play 21 different instruments and he gave credit to Grandma for encouraging him to pursue his love for music.

I sang in front of church since I was 2 years old.  I was given the opportunity to sing on local Christian raido when I was 8 years old and still remember the song was the christian version of You Light Up My Life by Debbie Boone.  I got serious about music and studied it in school starting with the clarinet and voice from the 5th grade and all the way through highschool and college.  I was in band, choir, music theater performance, and went to many state competitions for choir, solos, and band.   I had a great music teacher in high school who spent a lot of time working with me to learn how to use my voice.  Then I went on to study music in college.  I was in choir, performed in opera, took acting classes, and had 5 years of vocal performance instruction from an amazing college professor.

I volunteered to sing specials every chance I could in churches, weddings, funerals, and for the yearly orientation picnic for the international students coming to America to go to college at KSU.  Oh yeah, I sure loved to sing any opportunity given to me.   When I look back on it now, I see a big picture being knit together.   It amazes me how God used those opportunities to bless and encourage people.

While I was in college I was learning a lot about music and living it as a life style.  I learned some basic piano skills and guitar skills and studied lot about music history and education.  At one point, I had to make a decision about music, if I wanted to pursue it as a career or not.  I had invested so much time and effort to it and I needed to make a serious decision.  I decided as much as I loved it, I loved helping people even more and went into medical social work for my degree. But I continued on with music and when I graduated from college, I went on to sing for church choirs, on praise and worship teams, and sing to the elderly in nursing homes, and to my own children.

When I was younger, my grandma always performed for the Veterans at every VA hospital she could.  I think she had a weekly or monthly ministry with the Veterans for over 25+ years and I think she sang in VA hospitals in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  She also sang at the local VFW’s too.   My grandma has always written music, and Sunday school curriculum, but while I was in college, she began publishing her work and got several patents on her songs.  My Grandma began writing music for her local “Golden Follies” group who performed regularly on stage.  She also went back into performing and joined my dad on stage for several events.   She also wrote music for churches and wrote theme songs for vacation bible schools.  Grandma wrote and sang my wedding song too.

My Grandmother also went to the Ukraine 3 times as a missionary.  She has a heart for the people of Ukraine and has prayed for many, led several to Jesus Christ, and baptized them.  She helped start churches and a Christian movement there.  She has a heart of gold, so genuine, and I love her so much.  She is my hero.  My Grandma’s love for music and her love for people has had a huge impact on me though out my life.  My children have this amazing heritage and this has made both them an myself even more excited to learn about music, and the Ukraine with this curriculum.

Maestro Classics is fantastic!  The music is amazing, and all the teaching helps really make learning fun.  Using the unit study and lap book learning methods are our favorite way to learn and it is so much fun to have a learning adventure about classical music this way.

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