Tag Archives: homeschool

Readers in Residence Volume 1 Review

A fun way for kids to learn to become excellent readers is for them to become an expert reading detective and see the material presented with a biblical worldview. The Readers in Residence Series has 4 great courses to get kids excited learning how to be a reading detective.  We were recently sent the first volume in the series Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) by Apologia Educational Ministries .

Readers In Residence Volume 1 (Slueth)

2 Book Set

Student Worktext

Answer Key

4th Grade and UP

Retail $89

This is Volume 1 in a 4 volume series of Readers in Residence courses by Debra Bell and Published by Apologia.  Be sure to check the website for the latest updates in this series.  The four volumes in this series include: Vol 1~ Slueth, Vol 2~ Detective, Vol 3~ Investigator, and Vol 4~ Analyst.  Readers in Residence assumes every reader is a detective.  It focuses on reading comprehension and vocabulary using various literature genres to help students become excellent readers who understand the big picture about the story, the intentions of the author, and real life applications of the story’s message.  Each volume can be used as a stand alone course.

This course is intended to be done by one student, or used in a group setting (such as a book club) with each student having their own worktext. In this course, kids read 6 chapter reader books while using their worktext to answer specific questions to reach their goal of becoming a reading detective.

The course is divided into 6 Units and contains 14 Modules.  It is intended to be worked on 4 days a week and completed in 32 weeks.  However, the course is flexible and you can go as fast or as slow as you want.

Goals of this course include:

  1. AUTHOR’S DESIGN: understand the author’s craft, choices, and intentions
  2. ELEMENTS: recognize the literary elements authors use to create fiction and nonfiction
  3. INFERENCES: make inferences from the details in the text plus their own prior knowledge and experience
  4. NEW WORDS: decode the meaning of unfamiliar words from context clues build a rich and varied vocabulary
  5. FIGURES OF SPEECH: identify and understand figures of speech such as personification, metaphor, and hyperbole
  6. OBSERVATIONS: notice how expert writers employ the conventions of the English language (punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and usage) to achieve clarity

Kids learn about several kinds of literary genres and then settle in to research three specific fiction genres using six chapter books.  They will specifically research three kinds of fiction: Historical Fiction, Animal Fantasy, and Realistic Fiction.  Through out this process, kids will learn about characters, themes, comparison and contrast, plot development, figures of speech, story turning point, settings and set design, and more.

Chapter Book Readers

The suggested chapter books are available at your local library or can be purchased online.  You may already have these books on your book shelves. Three of the books are suggested for you, and three books are of your own choice.

  1. Sarah Plain and Tall (historical fiction)
  2. Your choice (historical fiction)
  3. Charlottes Webb (animal fantacy)
  4. Your choice (animal fantasy)
  5. Because of Windixie (realistic fiction)
  6.  Your choice (fiction of choice)

Student Worktext

This worktext is huge!  My son was excited to get such a big colorful workbook.  It has 562 pages and from cover to cover it is very well done.  It is a text and a workbook “all in one”.

It has large easy to read print on colorfully illustrated pages.  These bright colors and easy text kept my son interested in the material.  There are a lot of comparison type charts and other visual aids built into the lessons and it really makes learning the material easy to understand.

The worktext is spiral bound and the pages are thick and sturdy so it was easy for him to flip the pages and not worry about tearing them.  The book is soft cover so it isn’t has heavy as you might think a large book of this size would be.  It has a nice feel in your hands.  It is very well made.

He likes to take his schoolwork outside on the porch.  It was nice to know this sturdy book would hold up to him using it outside or inside where ever it best fit his needs.  Our other books are not near as sturdy.

I really like how the questions are layed out.  They have explanations and room to fill in the blank after you “hunt” as a detective for the answers.   He found the worktext very easy to follow and the questions were worded in a way he could find the answers in his chapter books quickly.

Answer Key

The Answer Key is a soft cover book of 232 pages.  This is a very easy to use resource for parents to check the progress students are making in their worktext.

The Answer Key contains the lessons questions written in black, and the answers to the questions written in green colored ink.  

In the back of the Answer Key book is a suggested daily schedule that matches the one in the student worktext.  There is also a Grading Rubix called a “Checklist Point System” for each Module.  Points for grades are earned based on the percentage of tasks completed in a Module instead of right and wrong answers.  A student can earn a top score of “6” for “exemplary in quality and effort” down to a “1” for “incomplete” for each task.

A Few Of My Favorite Things:

Some of my favorite things about this course are:

  1. Sowing Seeds: There are scriptures to study in the Sowing Seeds section at the end of each Module to help kids understand the material from a biblical world view.
  2. Independence: It is easy for the student to follow independently and easy for the parent to check on their progress.
  3. Graphs and Illustrations: The comparison graphs and visual aids and colorful pages that engage the student.
  4. Hands On Projects: There are also projects suggested throughout the course that give it almost a hands on Unit Study feel at times.
  5. Study Skills: The reading and comprehension skills learned in this course will be useful for all courses taken throughout all grades especially in highschool and college and it teach good study habits.

I would recommend this course to all homeschool families and homeschool book clubs and coops.  I found this course to be a very useful method of helping kids learn good study skills they will need throughout life.  Debra Bell has put together a great method and beneficial worktext for teaching kids to understand what they are reading.

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Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using these products in their homes.

 

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Snowy Morning

We woke up last Sunday morning to a beautiful site.  SNOW!

This was the first snow of any accumulation we have had all winter. The crazy thing is, it came after weeks of 70+ degree temps and things had already begun to bud and bloom for spring.  This was a total surprise!

The snow flakes were huge!

And left us just enough material to create some snow structures!

After a little bit of fun, it was time to get serious!  They began to build a wall.

And an opposing team formed and began to build a wall too!

It soon became a race to see who’s fortress would be completed first.

The victor in his fortress.

The other team still struggling to complete their fortress before the materials melt away.

Soon a friendly snow ball went through the air and well…

…all construction came to a halt…

It was a fun morning in the fast melting snow.

Please share.

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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You Tube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrKq6iLty2fpB6R6ZpcUb8A

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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Jesus Rescues The Lost

If you would like to motivate and encourage your kids to learn stories from the bible, I would encourage you to read Bible stories with your kids and make the stories into Unit Studies.  Unit Studies are cross-curricular and subjects (such as math, history, art, science, language, etc) follow a central theme and are adaptable so they are great for teaching all ages.

For example, if you are learning about apples, all the curriculum subjects will have an apple theme.  You might do apple math, or apple science, or apple history, or write a poem about apples, etc.  Unit Studies are hands on,  they can be as simple or specialized as you design them to be, and they help children retain what they have learned.  You can teach preschool, elementary, middle and high school all at the same time by varying the level of difficulty of the worksheets, experiments, and reading materials.

This school year we are doing lots of Unit Studies with a bible story theme. Each Unit Study is different, with different themes, but they all center around a theme that came from the bible.  For example, if we are learning about musical instruments, we might choose the ones found in the bible, or if we are learning about castles or fortresses, then we can choose a story or few stories in the bible that mention this and then build on our learning about the history and construction of fortresses.  Perhaps we want to learn about the eyes and we focus on sight and the brain, calculate vision, learn about colors and light,  the disease of blindness, and the miracles of healing sight of the blind that Jesus did.

If you have younger kids, an easy teaching resource like the illustrated The Beginner’s Bible from Zonderkidz is a wonderful way to get started.   It contains 90 Bible stories at an affordable price of $16.99.   They also have The Beginner’s Bible Website for families and teachers to use with lots of coloring pages and activities for free to compliment the stories you are reading.

A quick search on the interenet will provide you with lots of other ideas you can add to your Unit Study as you build it such as more free printables, lesson plans, craft and recipe ideas, etc. and you can use many of the printables to create lapbooks or keepsake notebooks of their projects too.

The stories in The Beginner’s Bible are written in a simple to understand way and include colorful illustrations that engage the kids and keep their interest.   So I wanted to use this as the foundation of the Unit Study learning projects and built additional materials I found into our learning adventure.

Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study & Lapbook

We took advantage of all of the free printables and suggested activities from The Beginner’s Bible Website.   They have lot of resources to choose from including two FREE sample curriculum lesson plans.  They sell a curriculum kit too.  We do not have the kit, but the free lesson plans give you a great teaching format to use to build your own lessons.

I printed out the free 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.

I made a “Bible Teaching Binder” for myself, and a “Bible Lapbook” for the kids with all of these wonderful free printables.   On the front of the binder I put the suggested reading schedule.   Inside the binder I put the printalbes and any lesson plans I find or create myself.

I keep all of the Unit Study and Lapbook materials in a basket, with pencils, crayons, markers, glue, etc with our Bible so we can easily set this up for our learning time each day.  I also put in any other resources we will be using that relates to the story such as a science experiment, crafts supplies, recipes we will make and other activities, and other books related to the subject we are learning.  There are lots of varieties of ways you can set this up easily so if you don’t like the basket idea, then you could put the printables in folders or daily workboxes or use another method that works in your home.

My binder is huge and will hold all the lesson plans from the Unit Studies I create using The Beginner’s Bible.  I added dividers to help me stay organized.  I kept the first section inside the binder for the Unit Study we are currently working on.  This is where I put a copy of the free lesson plan “Jesus Rescues the Lost” in my teaching binder.  The lesson came with 8 pages of free lesson plans!   Next, I added in various coloring pages and other printables and craft ideas and directions.  I will use the additional sections in the binder the same way for more lesson plans as we create more bible themed studies.  I plan to have about a years worth of plans in the binder by the time we are finished.   The kids will have completed about 30 Unit Studies and 30 Lapbooks by the time we are finished.

The “Jesus Rescues the Lost” Lesson Plan suggested reading three of the stories from The Beginner’s Bible and watching a 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.  You could spend a week on this lesson, or take three weeks while focusing on understanding one story each week.

The Unit Study in Action

Jesus Rescues the Lost Unit Study based on the illustrated stories in The Beginner’s Bible and the free lesson plan and suggested printables from the website:

Bible Reading and Speaking:

Read 3 bible stories outloud:  “The Lost Sheep“; The Good Samaritan“; and “The Lost Son“.

Audio Video Observation:

Watched the Free Video for Lesson Plan#23  Jesus Rescues the Lost.

Watched a video about the modern life of sheep in Idaho. This video goes over many different things such as economics, land management, herd management, wool, and contains interviews with the sheep farmers too.

History:

Learned about the history of shepherding sheep.

Math:

Counting: Younger kids counted cotton balls to represent sheep’s wool.

Graphing: Older kids learned to make a graph that followed the sale price of sheep over a period of time.   They also made a graph for the lambs showing the amount of food the sheep eats compared to the rate of growth.

Science:

Learned the major body parts of sheep.

We found this worksheet on Page 23 of a 4H manual we found online and it has worksheets for different animals.

http://www.ohio4h.org/sites/ohio4h/files/d6/files/publications/documents/4H_959_Chapter_2.pdf

Learned nutrition and health care of sheep.

Writing:

Practice writing pages.  Here my youngest son is practicing the letter “P” from the story of “The Lost Son” about the prodigal son who wasted his inheritance and ended up in a pig pen and later returned to his father who welcomed him home.

Additional letters to practice are: J (Jesus), R (rescue, redeem), L (lost), I (inheritance), H (healing), S (Samaritan, shepherd, save, and sheep).

We also practices spelling the word “sheep” with this printable.

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sheep-handwriting-worksheet-0

Older children could practice rewriting the entire story on notebook paper, or writing it in cursive for additional writing practice.

This is a cute writing page you can add to your Lapbook or notebook.

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/sheep-notebooking-page

Arts and Crafts:

Colored print out pages from The Beginner’s Bible website that correspond to the stories we read.  In this picture, my daughter is coloring a page from the story “The Lost Sheep”.

Created paper sheep puppets with printouts included.  You can glue cotton balls onto the sheep (younger kids can practice counting the cotton balls) and put construction paper on the back and attached to a popsicle stick, and the children can hold onto the stick to retell the story. You can also glue the printout to a toilet paper roll and that helps the sheep stand up on their own.

Lapbook:

We used two folders and some glue and created a Jesus Rescues the Lost Bible Story Lapbook to store their finished learning activities.  If we continue to create lapbooks like this for the entire illustrated Bible, combining two or three stories per lapbook, the kids will have 30+ Bible Unit Studies and Lapbooks for the year.

Building Diorama:

The last step in our learning adventure of Jesus Rescues the Lost, was to create a Lego sheep and shepherd diorama and use them to retell the bible story of Jesus (the shepherd) looking for the lost sheep (us).

 

Building with Legos or other building blocks to create scenes from a story you have read is so much fun.

Movie Creation:

I hope to have time for the older boys create a movie with these props they made where they can record their own retelling of the story.  They love to make stop motion animation movies with Legos.   We ran out of time to make the movie, but I hope we have it completed soon for a followup story.

Optional ideas to include in this Unit Study are:

Field Trip ideas: take a field trip to a sheep and goat farm

Crafts and activities ideas: that would make this project lots of fun such as make a donkey, horse, pigs, a farm, a special ring, a shepherd staff, create a money bag, etc.  Older kids would have fun creating (sewing or crafting) costumes to use to retell one of the stories.  Perhaps they could also wear the costume and retell the story to a homeschool coop class or at a family gathering.

Math ideas: you could practice counting sticks to make a fence or pig pen, or count money in a money bag.   Perhaps they could figure out a pretend hospital bill for services and supplies used for the injured man.

Science and Health ideas: You could also learn about health by making a first aid kit or herbs for healing supplies to care for the wounds of the injured man and nurse him back to health.  You could learn about bacteria and healing wounds and learn the feed rations, nutrition, and digestion for pigs, sheep, and horses.

Cooking: You could also throw a feast and serve guests to represent the father welcoming home the prodigal son.  You could research meals that were served to back in bible times to include in your feast.   You could wear the costumes you made or decorate the table with the crafts and props you made.

Be sure to check out my review story of The Beginner’s Bible and also the Noah and the Lego Ark story for more great ways to encourage bible learning with your kids.

There are so many fun ways to create a Unit Study with this illustrated Bible as the central foundation for your themes.  I am very pleased with how this has turned out and I think this is a wonderful way to learn.  I think Unit Studies and Lapbooks are a special way for kids to share what they have learned, and store the worksheet pages they have completed.

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Phonetic Zoo Review

Do your kids struggle with spelling?  Most kids do because the way sounds are spelled in the English language can be confusing.  If you want your kids to become great spellers, you might want to check out The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] by Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

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The Phonetic Zoo

Levels A, B, or C.
Take the placement test and choose the right level for your child before you begin.

Grades 3 – 8

Retails for $99.00

Each Phonetic Zoo Starter Set includes:

  • 5+ audio CDs (includes MP3 downloads)
    or also available for purchase as MP3 downloads and no CDs
  • Lesson Cards with spelling words and jingles
  • Personal Spelling Cards to keep track of your student’s typical misspellings
  • Zoo Cards that serve as a way to practice jingles or as rewards
  • 75 page Downloadable Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes PDF file

In addition to the materials, you are encouraged to watch two videos to help you as the parent / teacher:  the “Excellence in Spelling” video and the “Spelling and the Brain Video Seminar”.

Each Lesson in The Phonetic Zoo has similar steps:

  • Phonetic Rule, Cards with Corresponding Zoo Animal, Jingle or Hint,
  • Discussion,
  • Word Lists (audio and print), Spelling Test, and Correction.

You move through the lessons at the pace set by your child.  Each lesson takes about 10 minutes and they will learn a phonetic rule, have discussion built into the lesson, and learn to master spelling 15 to 20 new words using the rule they have learned.

It is suggested to go as slow as, or as fast as it takes for your student to get a 100% score two times on a lesson to show they have mastered the material.  So a lesson may only take you two days, if your child can get 100% each time, or a lesson may take you 7 or 10 days.  Just keep repeating the material for 10 minutes a day, until they have mastered the given lesson twice before moving ahead to the next lesson.  If you taught the same lesson and did the same spelling words for 4 or 5 days each week, then start a new lesson the following week, program should last you the full school year.  But again, the key is to remain flexible and allow your student to progress at their own pace.

How we used Phonetic Zoo:

We were sent the Phonetic Zoo Level A Starter Set for the purpose of this review.  Level A contains 47 Lessons on 5 Audio CD’s (or MP3) ; large zoo rule and word cards, small flashcards, and the Teacher’s Notes e Book also includes all of the lessons, teaching notes, the final exam, printable word posters, zoo card pages, word lists and printouts.

I decided to write this story as a series of HOW TO steps.  WHY?  Because it helped me and it might help you too.   You can follow these steps too to help make sense of what you need to do, what your child needs to do to complete this wonderful program.  It is different than other spelling programs, and I think it may help you to see some steps we took to make it successful for us.  It is divided into two sets of steps: “Prep”, and “Lessons”.

Prep

Step 1:  I watched the 9 minute “Excellence in Spelling” video.

Step 2:  We took the  FREE Placement Test.  This is a great resource and helps your child start right where they need too.  There are three levels to this program: Level A,  Level B, and Level C.  You will want to place your child in the right level so they can be successful.

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Step 3:  Placed my order for the correct level (A, B, or C) of Phonetic Zoo my student needed based on what we learned from the results of the free placement test (see the red link above). We ordered Level A.

Step 4: Watched the 1 hour Spelling and The Brain video seminar.   You can wait for the product to arrive before you watch the video, or you can get jump started while you are waiting by watching this video now!

Step 5:  Organize my Zoo (my materials for Phonetic Zoo).

Have you ever heard the saying “not my monkeys, not my zoo” ?  Well in this case these are my monkeys and this is my zoo.

We are homeschooling 6 kids and it is so easy for the shelves and stacks of books and supplies to get messy and piled up fast (see the example behind him,  that shelf holds math manipulatives, crayons, pencils, flash cards, and notebooks and the kids get in a hurry and when they are done using them, they just shove their stuff in fast and go, and it quickly becomes a mess).  Since we were about to enter the Phonetic Zoo, and knowing how fast books and supplies can go missing or stacked in the wrong place in “our zoo”, it is best to set my self up for success,  be a good “zoo keeper”, and get my self organized!

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When you receive your Phonetic Zoo shipment, organize the kit you receive and your supplies (large and small zoo cards, CD’s, headphones, notebook, pens NOT pencils (or use a pencil without the eraser), etc.),  in an easy to access storage box (shoe box, milk crate, table organizer, book basket, shelf, or whatever works for your family, etc.).

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Put a metal ring (or use a clip) on the large cards, and a rubber band (or a baggy) around the small cards.

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Be sure you have a computer that can play an audio CD (or MP3 device), and it is helpful to have headphones (we have ear buds) for your student to use while listening to the CD’s (or MP3).

Step 6: PRINT out the Phonetic Zoo Teacher’s Notes  e-Book (Teacher’s Guide) from the link on the IEW website you are provided with after making your purchase, and put your teacher’s guide into a binder.  This is a 70+ page teaching resource you will want to keep handy.  You can also download the MP3 files of the CD’s and store them on your computer device too.

Teacher's Notes e-Book

Teacher’s Notes e-Book, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 6:  Yahoo!  We let out a shout and smacked ourselves on the back!  Great Job!  We finished our prep work and were ready to get started!

Lessons:

In this section, I will walk you through Lesson 1.  It may look like a lot, but each lesson only takes about 10 minutes a day.

Step 1: We got out our zoo supply basket we made.  This was so nice to have everything all together and ready.  I read through our first lesson in the Teacher’s Notes that I also keep in the basket with everything.

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Lesson 1, Phonetic Zoo Level A

Step 2: I read the phonetic rule from the lesson and provided him with the large zoo flash card to review. The rule is listed on the back, and on the front are a picture that corresponds with the rule and words to practice using the rule.  It is a nice way to practice going over the rule and remembering it.

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Step 3:  Next I gave him the small flash card to read.  It has the rule we just learned on one side and the zoo animal on the other side.  He can use this to remind himself about the rule we learned.IMG_1212 - Copy

Step 4:  He set out his paper to write on, set out his flash cards, put in the CD for Lesson 1, and his ear buds.   When he started the lesson, on the screen popped up a small box that controls the lesson.   The lesson is all audio (not a visual lesson) and requires him to listen closely to what is being said on the CD.

Step 5: My son numbered the lines on his paper from 1 to 19 (some lessons were to 18 and some were to 19).  You can pause the CD lesson as needed.  If you don’t want to print out your own numbers, there is a pre-numbered printable you can keep re-printing for your student to use for each lesson.  We just used a spiral bound notebook instead.

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Step 6:  Next he wrote out the words in the spelling test spoken by the instructor on the CD.

Step 7: Next he corrected his words on the list by writing a second column of the same words on the same lines next to the first words he wrote.    The correct words are both on the CD and on the zoo flashcards.  This process allowed him to see how he did and where he needed more practice.   The instructions from the curriculum are that he must receive two 100% scores on the material before he can proceed to the next lesson.

Step 8:  Personal Spelling.  We repeated the same steps for every 4 lessons BUT on the 5th lesson (lessons 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 47) we were instructed to use his favorite words he picked himself.  These words could come from each section of 4 lessons, or be other words he wanted to use.

Step 9:  Final Exam.  We have not completed this yet.

That is it in a nut shell.  10 minutes a day.  Master the spelling test by 100% twice then move forward to the next lesson.  BOOM!!!

I am excited about using this spelling curriculum with my kids.  For the purpose of this review, I started this program with my 5th grade son.  But now that we have used it and know how simple it is and how much confidence he feels from mastering this technique, I will be using it with my other children as well.  This will give them all the added confidence in knowing how to spell a variety of words, and it only cost them 10 minutes of their day.  WOW!  I wish everything could be accomplished in 10 minutes a day.  Maybe it can and I just need to see a new perspective on how it can be done, just like mastering spelling.  Definitely worth it for both of us.

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Institute for Excellence in Writing makes learning fun and easy.  IEW has a way of making Language Arts skills easy and interesting to kids, those very skills that kids might otherwise find hard or boring.  Kids develop an internal motivation to challenge themselves and reach their achievable goal.  They have developed simple systems of teaching parents and teachers how kids really learn effectively and their materials are top notch.  I would encourage you to check out how you can fit these wonderful curriculum resources into your homeschool learning.

Social Media

Be sure to connect with IEW on their Social Media links to keep up with all the latest teaching tips, news, and product updates.

IEW  BLOG   http://iew.com/help-support/blog

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

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

Vimeo  http://vimeo.com/iewtv

Twitter  https://twitter.com/iew

You Tube  https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv

Google+ https://plus.google.com/+Iewriting/

Instagram  https://instagram.com/iew/

IEW Review

Check out what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using The Phonetic Zoo and other products from IEW with their families.

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Heroes Of History: Billy Graham Review

Are you hungry for true stories about real heroes?  Then you and your children might like the Heroes of History book series and Unit Study Curriculum Guides by YWAM Publishing.

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The Heroes of History series contains approximately 20 volumes of fascinating history of real life heroes. Some of the great men and women covered in these books includes the lives of: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Ben Carson, Laura Ingles Wilder, etc.

Heroes Of History

Heroes of History are ordinary men and women (many who faced poverty and disadvantages in their youth), who over came challenging circumstances and changed the course of American History.

Heroes Of History

Billy Graham

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Paperback Book

208 pages

Ages 10+

Retails for $9.99 and is on sale for $7.50

This book covers the story of Billy Grahams Life including his youth, his acceptance of Christ as his savior, his family, and life long ministry as a world wide evangelist.

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Unit Study Guide Cover

Unit Study Curriculum Guide

PDF e-Book

Retails for $9.99 and on sale for $7.49

This unit study guide corresponds with the paperback book.  It provides structured questions, vocabulary words, and activities for each chapter to help the student dig deeper into the story. It also contains the answer key and a few printables such as maps, a timeline, and a fact sheet about his life.

Unit Study Table of Contents

Unit Study Table of Contents

How We Used This Product In Our Home

We were sent the Heroes Of History paperback book and the corresponding Unit Study Curriculum Guide to review in our home.  This curriculum is filled with fascinating stories about Billy Graham’s life.  He is considered “America’s Pastor” and is loved by millions of people in America and around the world.

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Billy Graham (source Unit Study Guide)

There are so many details from his life that you just have to read the book for yourself to grasp the big picture, but I think this sums up this amazing journey: Billy grew up on a dairy farm in North Carolina.  God took him on a life long journey from those humble beginnings to become an evangelist who has preached in 185 countries reaching over 200 million people with the message about Jesus Christ and eternal salvation.  It is amazing how God used a farm boy in an amazing way to expand his Kingdom.

My children are enjoying learning about Billy Graham’s adventures growing up and his life working for the Kingdom.  The story starts our when he is about 12 years of age and goes through many of his memories growing up and my son was hooked to read about his boyhood.

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The unit study guide contained about 5 printables (located in section 2) and the rest was of the guide (section 1) was structured questions about each chapter in the book and a few activity ideas.  We liked a couple of activity ideas in the guide such as creating an itinerary for Billy Graham’s Travels and computing costs for airfare and travel etc.  And an idea to watch one of his speeches from the 1960’s and compare it to a speech from the 1990’s for example and see any changes in his presentation of his message.  Also an idea to learn one of his speeches and then repeat it yourself as a speech was a cool idea.  But otherwise, the guide really needs some tweaking and some fun activities added for kids.  So my suggestion to other families would be to come up with your own activity ideas to make this part of the learning fun.

Fact sheet from unit study guide.

Fact sheet from unit study guide.

My Personal Experience with Billy Graham

When I was about 13 years old, I went to a Billy Graham crusade in Kansas City, KS.  It was life changing for me.  I dedicated my whole heart to Jesus that night.  I sat on the edge of my seat in a huge stadium filled with people and knew Mr. Graham was speaking just to me.  I had given my heart to the Lord when I was 8 and was baptized with water at the Open Door Baptist Church.  When I was about 11, my father’s church felt I needed re-baptized “into” their church, the Church of Christ.  Not much changed for me at that time, other than earnestly seeking God as my home life was not so great.   But when I was 13, and sincerely seeking God for answers in my life, I met a man who had the answers.  His name was Billy Graham.  He had a confidence and an assurance of who God is that I had never seen or heard in any man.  That night I went forward at the Billy Graham Crusade and dedicated my whole heart to the Lord, I was filled with a fire for God.  A passion.   It was life changing for me and I never doubted my salvation or God’s love and his hand on my life ever since.  He has guided me and held me close and watched over me and I love him more than life itself.

I know there are millions of people like myself that God placed Billy Graham in our path.  He has been a blessing to me.  When we lived in North Carolina, we lived about 40 minutes from Mr. Graham’s campus near Asheville, NC.    If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to go and visit the museum and campus.  His son carries on the ministry’s vision today and runs a world wide outreach that is the hands and feet of Jesus meeting the real needs of people called Samaritans Purse.   If you are looking for a ministry to pray for, financially support, or volunteer with, please put this one at the top of your list!

Thank you Mr. Graham for your obedience and dedication to obey Jesus and share the message of the Kingdom of God with me.

Social Media

Be sure to follow YMAM Publishing on their social media links for all the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YWAM-Publishing-482973445102/timeline/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/YWAMpublishing
Pinerest:  http://www.pinterest.com/YWAMpublishing

YWAM Publishing Review

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Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Review

Do you need an English Literature course for your homeschooled highschooler? Then you might want to check out Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide by Writing with Sharon Watson.

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This is a huge and fun Highschool Literature course.  It is designed to be used by students in the 9 grad and up.   It covers a full year (2 semesters) of learning.  You can earn 1 Highschool English or Language Arts credit for completing the course. Lots of humor is woven through out the lessons and lightens the normal mood of studying literature.   The course is made up of a Student Text, Teacher’s Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual, and the Novel Notebook and in addition there is 8 additional literature story books to buy or borrow to complete the course work.

Student Manual

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285 Page, Large Softback Book

70 Lessons divided into 8 chapters.

Self directed.

Retails for $39.49

Teacher’s Guide

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182 Page, Large Softback Book

All 70 Lesson Plans

Teaching Tips

Retails for $16.49

Quiz and Answer Manual

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101 Page, Softback Book

Retails for $8.49

Novel Notebook

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102 Page PDF Download

Has lots of comprehension activities related to each fictional novel the students read during this course.

FREE

Additional Reading

Students will read 1 literature book a month during the course.  The author says she chose the books based on their potential to help students apply moral, ethical, spiritual, and biblical Godly life choices.  These additional books are sold separately on the web site, or you can purchase them at online bookstores, or pick them up at the local library.

Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

What Is Covered In This Course?

  • Text and context
  • Pseudonym (nom de plume)
  • Foreshadowing
  • Conflict types (against self, against society, inner, outer, and so on)
  • Protagonist,  Antagonist
  • Satire,  Irony
  • Theme
  • Allusion
  • Genre
  • Mood,  Tone
  • Symbol, Motif
  • Memento mori
  • Tense
  • Narrative shift
  • Deus ex machina
  • Memoir
  • Hero’s journey
  • Voice
  • Style
  • Backstory
  • Christ figure
  • Plot
  • Ironic ending
  • Plot stages (exposition, inciting incident, and so on)
  • Connotation,  Denotation
  • Alliteration,  Assonance
  • Simile,  Metaphor, Analogy
  • Apostrophe
  • Authorial intrusion
  • Hyperbole
  • Euphemism
  • Empathetic character
  • Reaction
  • Prolepsis (flashforward)
  • Mirror scenes
  • Setup and payoff
  • Telling detail
  • Loose (cumulative) sentences
  • Periodic sentences

How we used this curriculum in our home:

We were sent the Student Text, Teacher’s Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual, the Novel Notebook PDF download, and two of the literature novels Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

Illuminating Literature

The first thing I did when receiving this curriculum was to print off the FREE Novel Notebook, hole punch it and put it into a three ring binder to keep it organized.  Then we started reading the curriculum.

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There are 8 Chapters expected to last you 2 semesters or about 9 months, a full school year of study.  Each chapter contains between 7 and 10 lessons each.  Each chapter corresponds to one of the literary reading books.

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You have about a month to read each chapter, and the corresponding novel, and complete the learning assignments and quizzes.

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My son is really enjoying this course.  He has completed reading the first supplemental book Pudd’nhead Wilson, and the 1st chapter of his student workbook.   When you begin a chapter, there are several lessons to complete before reading the novel.  Then there is time allotted to read the novel. This is when to fill in answers and notes in your Novel Notebook.  Finally the student goes back to the Student Book and completes the final lessons in the chapter.  Then they take a quiz.  The quiz can be done in writing or online. The teacher can grade the comprehension of each chapter with a Grading Grid found in the Teacher’s manual.

The next book he will be working on reading and deciphering is The War of the Worlds.  He is so excited about these books.  Both of these literature novels were sent to us for the purpose of the review.  I will need to purchase the remaining books for him to complete the course.   It takes him about an hour each day to work on his Student Workbook and reading.  He could spend half that much time, but he really gets into it and loves to read.  He would rather read than write in the workbook.   But I am so glad to see him put in genuine effort into this curriculum.  We are both excited about this course and so thankful to be adding it to my son’s school year this year.  He will be able to receive 1 credit for English on his Highschool transcript.

You can do this course as an individual or as part of a larger Coop or Book Club or even an online Facebook Book Club specific for this course.  Sharon gives many examples in the Teacher’s Manual about how to do this and has a list of suggested questions you can ask and leadership and participation ideas for the group too.  We chose not to be in a larger book club at this time and my son is enjoying working through the curriculum independently.

You can TRY BEFORE YOU BUY with these FREE download samples.  Check them out and see what a great course this is for your teen.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Sharon Watson on her social media links for all the latest news and updates.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WritingWithSharonWatson
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/writingwithshar

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Check out what other Homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using this curriculum in their home.

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Field Trip To Jimmy Johns

Jimmy John’s Field Trip

We set out to find out if Jimmy Johns was as good or better than Subway or other sandwich shops we have tried.  Was it as good as everyone says?  How does a restaurant like this become so successful?

Our stop at Jimmy Johns was a new experience for us.  The shop has a fun atmosphere and special names for every submarine sandwich.

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For example, one sandwich is called The Gut Buster.  The sandwiches have a fixed description, and that is what is in the sandwich.  You don’t really customize them, but you can add additional meat.  This is the real secret to how fast you are served, no one is standing around deciding what fixings are going in their sandwich.  Instead you choose the sandwich design from the menu that best fits your taste buds.

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We let the children choose their sandwich, and choice of chips, and we all had waters to drink. The bread is very soft and fresh.

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The room is decorated with signs on the walls with words of wisdom for life.  My older boys laughed all the way through the meal while reading these signs.

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For example, one sign was titled Rules of Life I have learned, and here are two of them “Under any circumstance, never take a sleeping pill and a laxative before going to bed” and many more that my kids laughed the whole way through the meal reading.  They had funny signs and there was probably about 20 different signs posted around the room.

Jimmy Johns

Field Trip: New restrurant experience. We took a trip to Ohio and stopped at a Jimmy Johns sandwich shop because we had never been before.

There were pamphlets on the wall encouraging those who would like to open a franchise to fill it out and contact Jimmy Johns.  The kids decided we would pretend to open our own Jimmy Johns shop when we got back home.  I will share more about this in a future post.

This field trip was a fun learning experience and the food tasted delicious.  The kids got to figure out what all the hype was about and connected the dots from the funny videos they watched on youtube.

Once we got home, we looked up more information about opening a sandwich shop and the kids learned about opening a franchise, customer service, creating the ultimate sandwich, etc. We made our own versions of sub sandwiches.  We researched Jimmy Johns specifically and found out lots of interesting facts.  He has his own race team.  The first Jimmy Johns was started in 1985 with a $25,000 loan.  Now he own restaurants in 49 states across the country.

We are thankful we live in America where people can work hard and reach their goals. The kids are even more excited about what the future hold and are looking forward to our next great adventure!

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Tales from the Circle C Ranch Review

We have been having so much fun reading Tales from the Circle C Ranch.  We love these books! This is the second book by Susan Marlow from Circle C Adventures we have had the privilege to review.

Circle C Adventures

What We Received:

We received the Tales from the Circle C Ranch book, and also a PDF download of the corresponding Andrea Carter’s Tales From The Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook and Study Guide for the purpose of this review.

Tales from the Circle C Ranch

Tales from the Circle C Ranch

by Susan Marlow
Historical /Christian / Fiction /
160 pages
Paperback Book
For ages 9-14
Retails for $7.99

Lapbook

A Journey Through Learning: Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch, Learning Lapbook and Study Guide.

E-book PDF digital download.
39 pages
Instructions, study guide pages tying each chapter of the book with historical facts, and printout activities to create fun learning lapbooks.
Retails for $7.00

Tales from the Circle C Ranch is a book about a young girl named Andi (Andrea Carter) who lived in the late 1800’s.  The book is a collection of short stories about her life between 1874 to 1881 (about ages 6-13) and relates to the other Circle C series of books.  The author wrote this book to answer questions about Andi’s life sent in by her fans who read one or more of the other books.  Andi has a lot of fans!

How We Used This In Our Home.

We are having a blast with this book and study guide-lapbook combination.   Lapbooks and unit studies are some of our favorite ways to study.

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I received the reading book in the mail, and the lapbook PDF came in an email link.

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When I received the link to the PDF download, I printed it and put it into a three ring binder.

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The Lapbook is 39 pages, and is made up of a little less than 1/2 study guide (17 pages), and 1/2 activities (22 pages).   I printed off a copy of each of the activity pages for the kids, but did not print the study guide pages for them.  I have 6 kids and 22 pages a piece is a whole lot of printing!!!  I also glued two folders together for each child, that will hold their activity pages and eventually become their lapbooks.

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Instead of each of the kids having their own copy of the study guide, we read from the study guide pages from the main copy I put into the binder.  That way each child only had to keep track of their own activity pages, and I kept track of the main copy (study guide, instructions, activity pages) in the binder.   This method worked out well for our family and helped me save a lot of ink and paper!

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I also opted to save more money and printed the lapbook activity pages in black and white and let the kids color them while they listened to the book being read aloud, in instead of printing them in full color.   By having to color the activity pages instead of choosing them pre-colored, it helped them be even more involved in the learning process, and personalize their lapbooks so each one looks a little different from their siblings.

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For this review, each day I gathered all of the children together at the table to learn as a group.  One of the reasons we love lapbooks and the unit study approach to learning is the fun we have learning together.

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Our oldest son read the book aloud to the kids.  He read one short story a day to them, but he also enjoyed reading ahead on his own too.  Several times I found him reading after we were all finished at the table.  He couldn’t wait to get to the next story in the book.

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While he read the book, the younger children colored the corresponding lapbook worksheets.

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They loved coloring while listening to the story.

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After he read the chapter, he would then read the corresponding page about a related history subject in the study guide.  Then I would give the children instructions (cutting, stapling, and arranging the booklet position, and gluing it into their folders) to complete their lapbook assignment.

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The older boys preferred to just listen during the story read aloud, and then work on their lapbook worksheets afterwards while the study guide was being read.

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After completing the lapbook pages for each chapter, the children glued the finished activity into their lapbooks.

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The kids really enjoyed reading this book and creating their lapbooks. They have several things in common with Andi (Andrea Carter).  They could relate to her even though she lived during the late 1880’s.    This made it really fun for them to follow along in the story.  For example:

  • She has several siblings and we have a lot of siblings.
  • She lives on a ranch and has chores and we live on a homestead farm and have chores too.
  • She has horses and we have goats, chickens, rabbits, cats, and dogs as well as a big garden and several acres to play and run on our homestead.
  • Andi is a Christian and grows her faith through the experiences she lives out, and we do the same.  The kids can identify with her trust in the Lord.
  • In the book she buys a gift for her mom for her birthday, and we did something special for dad for Father’s Day and celebrated 2 birthdays during this review.  We celebrated each of these with gifts, cheesecake, and vanilla cake  and chocolate cake.

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There are several things I would like to do before we finish this fun learning adventure.   I hope I can schedule a field trip to take the kids to see some other things relevant to Andi’s life and the experiences shared in the book.

A few additional things I would like to add to this learning project is:

  • take the kids to see some horses, learn about different kinds of saddles and tack used to care for horses, get to feed the horses, maybe find a stables where we can ride horses on a trail, or take a carriage ride.
  •  I hope to find a good youtube video of a recent horse race for the kids to watch.
  • Visit the ocean.  Find a crab and clam shells.  Taste the salty ocean water.
  • Visit a nature center and hold a snake.
  • Attend a ball game.
  • Create some fake snow to play in since it is not winter here, but if you read this book in the winter, be sure to include some snow activities.
  • Visit a photography studio and learn how they process photos.
  • It would be awesome to be able to take a trip out west to see California, Oregon, and Washington where the story takes place.  I visited these states in my youth and those are awesome memories.  But I don’t really see a cross country trip to the west coast happening anytime soon though.
  • Cook food from the 1800’s that Andi mentions in the story, like Molasses Cookies, Crab, Flapjacks, Peppermint Sticks, Apple Pie, Roast Beef Sandwiches, Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Cake,

I hope round out this book, lapbook, and our own unit study of this time in history by planning a field trip to a pioneer village from the 1800’s,  an outing at county or state fair, and to visit a horse ranch, as well as cook a couple of recipes like the ones mentioned in the book that were served for dinner, to enhance our learning even more with this study.

You will enjoy this book by itself or with the additional lapbook.  You don’t need anything other than a desire to read and learn to use either.  But you can also really enjoy this time period in history by including a few fun projects to enhance your child’s learning too.  Either way, this book is a winner and goes into a permanant place on our family book shelves to read again and again for years to come.

About the Author:

We fell in love with the books when we read Thick as Thieves earlier in the school year.   We couldn’t wait to get a hold of more books by Susan K Marlow !   Susan is a homeschool mom who has dedicated her life to her family and to writing wholesome Christian fiction books for kids of all ages to enjoy.

Susan Marlow

Susan Marlow has authored over 17 books and workbooks for children. She offers several free study guides to enhance the learning too.   The sequel to the Thick as Thieves  book we read earlier this year for the 12 and older age group is called Heartbreak Trail and is coming out later this summer.  My older sons are begging for me to get it for them.  I don’t know of too many boys who beg their mom for more books, (especially books that center around a girl character), but these books are a winner!!!

Susan Marlow Books

Each skill level / age level has it’s own series of books to read about Andi’s life as she grows up. To access the various levels of books, from the Susan Marlow web site, you will see this info-graph I have posted above.  Once you click “enter” on the picture of the series or learning level you are interested in, a whole web site for that specific learning level appears with books, study guides, lapbooks, more articles, and fun photos about Andi.  Susan Marlow has done a wonderful job organizing her website into an easy to navigate, and user friendly resource for families.

Susan Marlow lives on a homestead in the state of Washington.   She also teaches writing workshops, and hosts a writing contests for youth too. Her connection with homeschool life and homesteading really comes through in her books and my kids can relate so easily to Andi and the other characters even though the stories are written about a girl and her friends and family who lived in a previous time in history.

I haven’t yet told my kids that Susan also wrote a series of books about a 12 year old boy named Jem who grew up gem mining during the Gold Rush in California.  We enjoyed gem mining and gold panning few times while we lived in North Carolina where the Gold Rush began.  My kids have fond memories of those fun times.  I just know they are going to want every book Susan Marlow has ever published about Andi and Jem as these stories are so exciting for kids to read.

Social Media:

Be sure to follow the social media links for Susan Marlow to find out updates and more about the adventures of Andi’s life in all the wonderful series of Circle C books, study guides, lapbooks, coloring pages, and more.

Andi’s Blog: Circle C Adventures   http://circlecadventures.blogspot.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CircleCAdventures
Twitter http://twitter.com/SuzyScribbles
Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/susankmarlow/
Writing Contests
(enter 9/1- 1/10) http://www.circlecadventures.com/Writing-Contest.html

Dynamic Literacy Review

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IEW Teacher and Student Writing Package Review

If you haven’t yet heard of the Institute for Excellence in Writing  (IEW) curriculum company, I would encourage you to check them out.  We were sent their Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, Student Writing Intensive Level A  Package for review.  This would be a great curriculum to add to your schedule this coming school year. 

IEW Writing Level A Package

 

Teaching Writing / Student Writing Package Level A

Package Combo Retails for $249 (Save $49.00!)

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD seminar

Student Writing Intensive Level A

For Elementary Grades 3-5.

Grades

 

What We Received

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD Package Level A:

12 Seminar DVDs 

  • Nine DVDs with instruction on the nine structural models and multiple stylistic techniques (14 hours total viewing time).
  • Three DVDs of sample Student Workshops at four different grade levels.

TWSS Seminar and Practicum Workbook

  • 3 ring binder with dividers  and printouts.  The binder serves as the syllabus and workbook for the seminar and contains charts, word lists, sample lesson plans, and more.

1 year Online Subscription

  • Streaming video of the entire Teaching Writing: Structure and Style teacher training course, providing instruction on the nine structural models and multiple stylistic techniques (14 hours total viewing time—may be watched all at once, or viewed one disc at a time throughout the school year)
  • Streaming video of sample Student Workshops at four different grade levels to help you with the first lesson
  • Free access to our monthly training webinars, August through May
  • Audio MP3 downloads of Andrew Pudewa’s most popular conference talks
  • Several PDF downloads

Student Writing Intensive Level A
5 DVDs
SWI Level A Student Notebook with student handouts, a student 3 ring binder with dividers, and daily lesson suggestions for the teacher/parent

Here is the author Dr. Pudewa, explaining more about the program.

 

How We Used IEW Writing Curriculum

We did a trial run for a few weeks at the end of our school year to see if we want to include this curriculum in our studies this fall.  I was really impressed with the quality of the materials we recieved.  The 3 ring binders are heavy duty and we were sent over 100 pages plus nice dividers to put into each of them and help us stay organized and on plan.  The case that holds the Teachers Seminar DVD’s is really nice too.

I found the Level A Package to be a wonderful writing program and useful for teaching English to Elementary 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.  This curriculum fits right into our life right now as we have several in this grade range, and some older ones who can sharpen their skills too.  This program is helping improve my skills as a teacher so really all of my children will benefit from this.

For this review, I used this program with my 12 year old to help him get a better understanding and improve his writing skills. This program will work great for older students who might not like writing.  My 12 year old does not enjoy writing and would much rather do math. This curriculum would also be useful for teaching English as a Second Language, and also for remedial learning for older students who need more practice with writing skills.

IEW has put so much together for the parent teacher.  The Teacher Seminar gives you the tools you need to confidently teach your students to write well, think and express themselves clearly. It helps parent teachers learn how to effectively teach their kids to:

  • Outline and summarize
  • Write paragraphs
  • Create stories
  • Write critiques and reports
  • Develop essays
  • Communicate their thoughts and ideas into writing
  • Change sentence structure
  • Use vocabulary in interesting ways

When we first received the materials, I put the binder notebooks together.  Then I viewed the lesson on the corresponding disk in the Teacher’s Seminar DVD’s before having my son watch it with me. Then we watched the lesson together, and followed the teacher notes and presented the lesson to my son.

The lessons are designed to do one a week, but some students will take two weeks to do a lesson. The teacher’s portion of teaching the lesson and use of the DVD takes about 1 hour at the start of the week.  Then he can work on the daily practice assignments the rest of the week. We did not need to watch the Student version of Structure and Style overview as it is basically the same as the teachers DVD.

After watching the Lesson on the DVD, we used the checklists to complete the lesson assignment.  The workbook has sample assignments and ideas to help,  and there are also student workshop videos to watch that can help give more ideas on implementing the lesson.   I found these to be very helpful.  In a nut shell so to speak, my son is learning how to create an outline from a paragraph using key words.  Then learning how to use his outline to write and add adverbs and verbs to make it more interesting.  He is learning to be more creative in writing stories.

Our first few weeks of lessons:

Teacher’s Notes: Lesson 1

“Sea Snakes”

Key Word Outline,

Composition Checklist

Key Word Sentence: 1 word

Key Word Sentence:  2-5 words

Key Word Sentence:  6 words

“Desert Tarantula”  Optional Resource

Repeat steps learned

“Pillbug” and Composition Checklist

Repeat steps learned

Teacher’s Notes: Lesson 2

“The Boy and the Nuts”

“The Cocks and the Eagle”

Once we complete the first lesson in the teacher’s seminar (or student set), we can move ahead and master the material in the next one.   Not all of the lessons use the disk system, some can be completed without it.  For example, Lesson 1 used the disk, but Lesson 2 did not.  You can easily keep track of what’s what as everything is layed out very nice and easy to follow.  I am saving the rest of the work to begin in the Fall at the start of our school year.

IEW

IEW Review

Before we start our next school year, I hope to get a couple of my boys set up with this curriculum too so they can work through it together.  You are allowed to make copies of the student workbook for use within the same family, so this will be really nice to have the boys working on this together and strengthen their writing skills.

There are some additional items available through IEW to help with this curriculum.  I hope to purchase the Portable Word Walls and A Word Write Now before our Fall school year begins too.   IEW also has a clearance section and you can find a lot of discontinued items there. Many of these are previous versions that have now been updated. For example, I found some Word Walls and Bible Based Writing Lessons workbook on clearance for 4th-12th grades. Kids learn to outline bible passages, diagram them, and write paragraphs retelling the story. There are also US History Writing Lessons too. How cool is that?

I can really see how this curriculum is going to help my kids learn how to write with excellence and help me learn how to better help them too.  I am thrilled to schedule this material for their daily writing curriculum for the coming school year.

I hope you will check it out IEW, and all of their various writing curriculum products and see if their curriculum would be a good fit for your family too.

IEW Writing Packages

 

Social Media

Be sure to follow IEW on social media for all the latest news and product updates.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinwriting
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/iewriting
Vimeo http://vimeo.com/iewtv
Twitter https://twitter.com/iew
Youtube https://www.youtube.com/user/iewtv
Google+ https://plus.google.com/+Iewriting/
Blog http://iew.com/help-support/blog

IEW Review

Be sure to check out what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about using IEW writing products with their families.

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