Monday, January 31, 2011

THE EARTH: Its Structure and Its Changes Review

Geology Curriculum for Homeschoolers
Elementary Geology Curriculum

When I learned I'd be reviewing The Earth:  Its Structure and Its Changes, I was very excited.  Some people study art, watch a movie or go shopping for fun.   Me, I like reading Geology texts aimed at elementary-middle school students.  Now, before you go thinking I have no social life, let me tell you that there are very few texts for this age range.  The reasoning for this is because many educators believe that children just aren't capable of that degree of in-depth study on one particular area of science.  So, for the most part, we get little blips of science information introduced in general science books at about 3rd grade.  A couple of extra lines of information are added to each grade level texts until High School.

Most homeschoolers will tell you that when information is given with a clear, enjoyable presentation and students are allowed ample time to explore, the child becomes enthralled.  This makes it  easy to go deep into learning that particular subject.

From their website:
The Earth: Its Structure & Its Changes is a study of the fascinating world of geology. With explanations of how our Earth was shaped, this elementary science curriculum gives evidence to the Genesis Flood, accompanying earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other powerful processes. Students will explore 20 “investigations” through experiments and a very specific learning progression.
The Investigate the Possibilities learning progression:
Engage - Students make a note of what they know or have experienced about the topic.
Investigate - Students will follow the instructions and make observations of what happens.
Explain - Students will begin to understand the science behind what they observed in the investigation.
Apply - Here, the understanding of the investigation is related to other situations and ideas.
Expand -Each investigation also includes a few “Dig Deeper” projects to further understanding.
Assess - Students explain what they have learned.

Students will examine natural occurrences such as mountains, volcanoes, rocks, minerals, crystals, water, and dirt (just to name a few). By using household items such as hard boiled eggs, oranges, measuring cups, maps, clay and markers, these scientific truths will come to life.

This title contains a full circle view of geology, creation, and history. All three of these topics are combined to create the big picture for your student and develop a stronger root in their faith. Also available is the combined teacher’s guide and student journal.
While geology is at the heart of this newest book in the Investigate the Possibilities series, other titles within this series include: Forces & Motion, Matter, and Energy. These are perfect for elementary education, grades 3rd-6th.

Authors Tom DeRosa and Carolyn Reeves are committed biblical creationists with a combined 60 years teaching science. Both are excellent at helping students experience science concepts in the world around them.

I found the material well presented with many colorful and interesting illustrations and pictures.  I love the depth that the authors go into regarding plate tectonics, mountain building (folding and faulting), topography and also showing the six crystal groups.  This is the first 'younger' text that I've seen the crystal groups shown.  These groups, which plainly and easily show the student in the most intricate manner, God's orderly hand in Creation.

The experiments are interesting and easily reproducible- most items are found in the home.  I thought that using a hard-boiled egg for the plate tectonics demonstration was very unique!

The Teacher's Guide and Student Journal is a nicely done resource filled with pages for the student to complete and dig deeper.  The Teacher's portion contains the answers to the questions and educational extras to help YOU dig deeper too!

There were some things that I didn't like or that left me scratching my head.  The authors make  a point in the Teacher's Notes not to dwell on teaching the differences between rocks and minerals - and that they are used interchangeable in nature.  I disagree!  Minerals are the building blocks of the Earth and should be correctly taught as such from the get go.  Simply put, not stressing the differences between rocks and minerals is like saying chocolate chips and chocolate chip cookies are one and the same.

Also in this text, Moh's Hardness Scale and streak are applied to the classification of rocks.  Moh's Hardness scale was created as a means to determine hardness in minerals in order to classify them correctly.  It's impossible to perform a hardness test on a rock.  For example, take Granite.  It is made up of the minerals Mica, Quartz and Feldspar.  If you could find a Mica crystal large enough to perform a hardness test, you'd see that part of the rock is soft.  If you test the quartz, you'd see that part of the rock was hard.  Thus, you'd get two different hardness results and no clear answer.  Once you learn how to identify the minerals, identifying rocks comes easier.

Streak is the color left behind when a mineral is rubbed onto a white ceramic plate or paper.  This test was also created to identify minerals.

While I like the other sections of the text because it is the most in depth Earth Science text for this age group I've seen to date, I will be removing Chapters 10-13 when I use it with my family.

I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Case of the Missing Mountain Book Review!

The Case of the Missing Mountain
Mystery Rangers!

 Is your elementary aged child ready to become a Mystery Ranger?  

If they are curious about the world around them, like learning about volcanoes, solving puzzles and seeing spectacular photos, I'd say "yes"!

A mountain is missing!

Your mission:
Find out how it could have disappeared to earn your Mystery Ranger Badge.

* First, visit the  Nature Tour website to download your checklist and see other activities.
* Second, solve all seven mysteries.
* Third,  complete at least two missions from the Ranger Mission List.
* Lastly, complete at least two Rockin' Ranger Activities.

Join Ranger Jack and Jen as they take you on a tour of Mt. St. Helen's showing the evidence for a young Earth while you solve word puzzles, decipher codes, and wander through mazes.  You'll learn about the 1980 eruption, pyroclastic and mudflows, badlands, rock layers, petrification, water erosion and recolonization.

Case of the Missing Mountain  is an 80 page book about Mt. St. Helen's written from a Young Earth/Creationist perspective.  The information provided is easy enough for the youngest of Rangers to understand without being too simplistic for your older crew.  Broken down into bite-sized bits, it is readily retained.

I adventured through this book with my 7th, 4th and 2nd graders.  Like my oldest, I knew many of the facts - but not as they pertain to a Young Earth Theory.  We both loved the pictures supporting these tidbits.

My 4th grader got a lot out of the book especially in the area of relating what happened during the formation  of canyons from the mudflows on Mt. St. Helen's with the carving of the Earth during Noah's flood.  (and also relating it to the Grand Canyon).  He was able to figure out the puzzles without help.  He also enjoyed working on a chapter at a time on his own and then coming together to discuss it.

My 2nd grader needed help to do the puzzles, giving us some Mother-Daughter time as well.  She focused more on the pictures and the interpretation of them than the boys did.  Being my animal lover, she really enjoyed the chapter on Recolonization. 

At the end of each of the 7 Mystery Sections, two experiments (Rockin' Ranger Activities) are given.  For the most part, these utilize common items and are easy enough to do.

My kids each choose Volcano-on-the-Go and Crazy Color Cliff in order to earn their badges.

Since we are a 'geology oriented' household, we've done plenty of building our own volcanoes and 'setting' them off.  But, we've never done one in the bath tub.  The directions say to use only 1/2 cup baking soda....but, seeing no harm in it, I let them experiment and choose how much to use.  Let's just say that it was the most fun, bubbly mess that led to a sparkling clean bath tub that we've ever had!!!!

Forming the volcano - baking soda and vinegar
Forming the volcano.

baking soda and vinegar volcano
Bubble, fizzle, clean fun!

Kids love volcanoes
You are never too young to appreciate a volcano!

We also tried the "Crazy Color Cliff" with colored sand.  This one shows rock layers, pyroclastic flow and if done correctly, an angular unconformity.  One note of caution.....thinking that this would be a messy project, I moved our laboratory to the back porch.  Glass jars filled with sand do not hold up when dropped on cement.  <sigh>  We will be doing this one over!

The author, Kim Jones, is formerly a guide at The Mt. St. Helen's Seven Wonders Museum.  I really like how she presents all the evidence throughout the book, allowing for kids and doubting Thomas's alike to form an opinion of the evidence in its concrete form.  Beyond the last chapter, the reader is shown how the evidence observed at Mt. St. Helen's makes a strong case for a world wide flood as written in the Bible.  Scriptural references are listed and an invitation to be saved from the ultimate danger, not knowing Jesus, is presented.

For your older student (and for yourself!) be sure to check out another Mt. St. Helen's gem from Master Books, Footprints in the Ash.

I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The REAL Reason Vikings Were Brutal and a New Use for Shredded Wheat! Week 4 (Part 2) Wrap Up

Baby Viking
Baby Viking

My son, Mr. Personality, has come up with THE reason why the Vikings were not content to 'stay at home' in their own land and were driven to raiding and conquest --- it's because of their BREAD.  Yep, you heard it, their BREAD!

After giving 'Viking Bread' a try in our household, he declared "This stuff is so heavy and sits like a rock in your stomach.  If I had to eat this everyday, I'd be fearless, ferocious and go in search of other lands to see if they have better bread."

Viking Bread
Viking Bread

Viking Bread
Baked and ready to eat!

(Recipe added on 1/19)
3 cups whole wheat flour (can also use part oat, barley or rye flour)
2 cups white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups warm water
1 cup oats
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add and sire in 3/4 cups of oats (save 1/4 cup for later). Slowly add the 2 cups of warm water. Sire well. The mixture will become difficult to stir. Knead the mixture until the mixture becomes stiff. Form into a circle and place on a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the remaining oats on top. Put the cookie sheet into a cold oven. Then turn the oven to 375. Bake for one hour. Cool slightly and enjoy.

I didn't think it was THAT bad....but, perhaps I do not have Viking blood???

Thor's Shrinky-Dinks Hammer
Thor's Hammer

Thor's Hammer Shrinky-Dinks.

Now, what about that Shredded Wheat????

After creating a Viking Longhouse, we tried to do a sod roof.  After a messy try with mud and grass seed, the cardboard roof was too wet and heavy and caved in.  Then I remembered a box of shredded wheat in the pantry.  Applying those little stale squares to the roof with a glue gun......perfect!

Viking Longhouse
Viking Longhouse

Viking settlement complete with boats.

Viking Boats
Viking Boats

Lego Viking Village
Lego Viking Village

Arab and Viking Traders
Arab and Viking Traders
The kids did try one with Arab traders and then remembered that the Vikings went TO the traders and not the other way around.  (Guess they rewrote history a little)
Lego Arab and Viking Traders
Lego Arab and Viking Traders

Thanks for coming 'eviking' with on to more Medieval history and castles, castles, castles!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And the VCR blinks on and on.....

Seriously.  Technology.  <sigh>

How much do we really need?

As a Mom who doesn't want to be left out in the cold in the area of gadgetry, how much time do I really need to invest in this area?  I don't want to be the next 'Gizmo Queen', but, I don't want to run shrieking when presented with a iphone or other such creature.

A good friend of mine is launching her blog.  She asked me questions about how to do 'this and that'.  Fortunately, they were easy enough.  Then, she got to the one that I've been trying to figure out myself for months......finally, I turn to some veteran bloggers for help.  They explain it so easily, effortlessly....just click here, do this, copy that, sign up for this and 'BAM' it'll appear on your blog.  So, following their steps, I monkey my way through (pun intended) and 'BAM' nothing......ugh!

The truth is, the only reason why I'm doing what I'm doing is by trial and error.  Unfortunately, html code doesn't recognize anything but absolutes, so, I get no points for my efforts.

Maybe I'll just turn it over to my 12 year old, while I watch the light on my VCR blink '12:00'.....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Raising Maidens of Virtue Book Review!

Raising Maidens of Virtue
Bible Study for Your 12-18 year old Daughters

In preparation for my daughter's teen years, I wanted to review Raising Maidens of Virtue .  I figured *she* needs it.  It will be good for *her* to help *her* fulfill the will of God in *her* life and help with *her* walk with the Lord.  Little did I know what an impact it would make on *ME* and how much *I* needed this book.

Raising Maidens of Virtue is 'geared' toward 12-18 year olds.  But, honestly, I believe women of all ages can benefit from this book - especially if they didn't grow up in a household where fulfilling God's will over worldly achievements was stressed.  I think a good majority of us can fall into this category.

The author, Stacy McDonald, recommends this book be used by mothers and daughter or by mature Godly women and the young ladies they are mentoring.  Other suggestions are also given in order to get the most out of this 19 chapter study.

You may be asking yourself,  what is a maiden?  Is it some out-dated word for a pious, unmarried girl in a long flowing dress or is it a female who celebrates the creation God molded her to be and rests in the joy of following His call on her life regardless of what the world says?

From the book:

As our young maidens journey through life, they will meet many different people and hear a myriad of strange doctrines and teachings.  Our daughters must know what they believe and why they believe it, or they will find themselves "tossed to and fro" with every new philosophy that comes along (Ephesians 4:14).  They must learn to search the Scriptures, under the protection and guidance of their God-given authorities, and discover for themselves the beautiful picture of womanhood presented in God's word.

Through stories, allegories, conversational teaching and illustrations, Raising Maidens of Virtue covers topics such as guarding the tongue, jealousy, idleness, sibling relationships, honoring parents, contentment, modesty, femininity, purity, cleanliness, deportment, trust and biblical beauty.

Much more than a fill-in-the-blank Bible study, Raising Maidens of Virtue is a tool for mothers to use in training their young maidens to think biblically.

I found so many valuable teachings on raising our own maidens with a generational view - to equip them not only for their own survival, but, for the generations that will come from our daughters.  The author does not belittle post-high school education.  She makes a very important point that the education should be glorifying to God and not ourselves.   Training should not be just academic, but in serving others, learning to be content where God has placed you and learning important life skills.

In a world where girls are raised and praised to be 'hotties' (or even worse),  the author seeks not only to show you scriptually how to be the maiden God created you to be, but gives you examples of how she accomplished this with her own girls.

 More from the book concerning modesty:
"Modesty is not only how much flesh we expose or what we choose to wear.  It is also how we speak and how we carry ourselves.  It truly is a condition of the heart." (1 Peter 3:3-5)

From one of my favorite chapters, Tinkling Feet:
"The Impure Facade.  The problem is that we have mimicked the world for so long-copying their fashions, borrowing their educational and social philosophies, conforming to their dating format, and adopting their dialect - that we do not even realize we have lost our Christian identity.  We've been wearing the costume and speaking the language of the world for so long that we don't even recognize ourselves anymore.  Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;  Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles:  that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.  (1Peter 2:11-12)"

The author then goes on to talk about what true beauty is AND reinforces that scripture does not tell us that pretty clothes are sinful.  Being prideful, covetous or using our beauty for wickedness is sinful.

This is a beautiful, heart probing, heaven focused study.  The analogies are thought provoking,  the examples purposeful and the mother-daughter prayers powerful.   Raising Maidens of Virtue was not only eye-opening for me, but heart-opening as well.  It wasn't until my third child was born that I became content in my calling.  This is one book I wished I had read when I was a young maiden.  Fortunately, I am blessed to have a few more years in which to read and re-read this book until I have the wonderful pleasure of going through it with my own young maiden.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 10, 2011

TOS Crew Easy Classical - Early Modern History Schedule Review

Easy Classical - Early Modern History Schedule

Easy Classical
Early Modern History Schedule (Explorers to 1815)
Notebook version $35.95
Digital version $29.95

Are you teaching multiple grades and are interested in providing a classical education for your family with an easy to follow schedule and lots of options?  Then check out Easy Classical.  They publish schedules, resources, writing guides, copybooks and geography curriculum for the eras of:  Old Testament/Ancient Egyptian, New Testament/Greece/Rome, Middle Ages/Renaissance/Reformation, Early Modern, Modern and State History.

For this review, I will be commenting on Early Modern History (Explorers to 1815).

From their website:
Easy Classical Early Modern History Schedule includes 36 week-long schedules plus 45+ pages of charts, sheets, and helps that will enhance your child's learning. Each week's lesson has review questions with answers, and quizzes included with each lesson. This schedule also includes a shopping list for the next day, as well as detailed instructions on how to use the schedules and the books you purchase.

The schedule itself is well laid out, flexible and easy to follow.  The curriculum utilizes real/living books that correspond with the time period being studied.  These need to be purchased separately or borrowed from the library.

At initial glance, most of the reading is scheduled for Monday.  But with a few strokes of a pencil, this can be easily adapted for your family's needs.  There are also lists for additional books that can be read.  In my opinion, K-6th is quite a big spread and lumping all the books into the same category is confusing.  I would like to see the listing of books broken down into K-3rd and 4th-6th.

Easy Classical recommends using History Pockets for doing hands-on activities.  Since not everyone is into this sort of lapbooking, it would be good to note that many other hands-on opportunities can be found within the Story of the World student activity book (which is Easy Classical's chief spine).

All in all this is an affordable schedule for history.  If we were not already using a multi-level, K-12 grade curriculum, I would give Easy Classical a try in our household.

Easy Classical also offers add-ons for: CopyworkGeography, Writing and Science.

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received this schedule free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week 4 Wrap Up - Dark Ages, Monasticism & Great Kings of France

Illuminated Letters
Illuminated Letters

It's been another busy week spent studying The Dark Ages, Monasticism and the Great Kings of France.

I gave my kids first hand experience on the intricate nature of illuminated letters that the monks made by hand.  After copying the black and white illustration (to the right) onto tracing paper we proceeded to decorate with brightly colored, metallic paints.  I gave them only regular brushes - which were very difficult to work with.  We all ended up using toothpicks which gave us more of a feel for how painstakingly the monks worked.

Illuminated Letters
 The rest of the crew give it their best try.  This was one hands-on activity that Mom enjoyed more than the kids!

Then it was time for kids to try their hand and making their very own kingdom and dynasty.  I first wrote out our family tree and then allowed them to create their own fictitious line of ancestors.  (note:  their dynasties did not photograph well!)

To accompany their dynasty, they drew up kingdoms with all the natural resources they thought they'd need and capped it off with naming it whatever they wanted.    

.....of course, some of my brood got into the spirit of it more than others.....

Mr. Personality (and growing boy) crated 'Hamburger Land' (notice there's a bite taken out of the side?)
Mr. Personality (and growing boy) crated 'Hamburger Land' (notice there's a bite taken out of the side?)

Mr.  Black and White drew up a no-nonsense kingdom of Jo-ville.
Mr.  Black and White drew up a no-nonsense kingdom of Jo-ville.

My Princess guessed it, 'Princess Land' complete with everything!
My Princess guessed it, 'Princess Land' complete with everything!

Join us this week as we go 'eviking'!!!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TOS Crew Math Facts Now Software Review

Math Facts Now

Math Facts Now Software

Just the facts.  No games, cute animals or aliens.  Just the FACTS.

Math Facts Now is computer software that helps your child learn their facts via drill in a no-nonsense fashion.  There's nothing to distract them from this objective!

The parent is able to choose the math function (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division), how many problems per drill set, how long to allow the student to answer each question and how many times a wrong answer must be typed out correctly in order to advance to the next question, AND something very unique.  The parent can choose to input a reward into the software for the student when they answer all the questions correctly.  Afterward the parent is able to print out the lesson results.

We used this software with my 2nd and 4th graders.  It worked wonderfully for my older student.  He loved zipping through the drills and then seeing the reward as a fruit of his labor. (Generally an extra 10 minutes of computer time or going outside to play earlier than usual).  But, for my 2nd didn't go over as well.  Typing out missed questions with the whole equation at least twice was very discouraging to her and she needed me by her side to help her with the number pad.

All in all, this is a good product reasonably priced.

Visit their website for a free trial.

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received this software free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 3, 2011

TOS Crew Positive Action for Christ Bible Curriculum Review

Positive Action for Christ - 2nd grade
2nd Grade Bible Study

Positive Action for Christ Bible Curriculum
Finding God's Promises
2nd grade 
Teacher's Manual $33.95
Student Manual $12.95

Unlike many curriculums on the market, the objective of the curriculum from Positive Action for Christ is not just biblical head knowledge.  But, heart knowledge which leads to Christian adults with a vibrant walk with the Lord.

Each curriculum is broken down into 35 lessons that contain a Bible topic, developmental activities, target truths, a character trait and scripture memorization.  This is a flexible bible study which can compliment different learning styles.  It can be used as a family devotional, homeschool component (Lesson plans can be fit into teaching 3, 4 or 5 days a week), co-op class or Sunday school. 

The teacher's guide is a wealth of information.  Each lesson is already planned out for you.  You simply follow along through the plan, reading from the guide and explaining things when necessary.  There are plenty of times where you will pose a question to your child in order to get them to check their hearts.

The student book is bright, colorful, and beautifully illustrated filled with maps, puzzles, fill-in the blanks and much more.

I had the privilege of reviewing Grade 2 The Life of Moses through Exodus with my 7 year old daughter.  Since she had had an in-depth study of ancient history alongside the Old Testament last year, the materials covered in Grade 2 were not new to her.

While I love how well this program is laid out and how thorough it is in its' goal of turning the student to Christ in all activities, the price would exclude us for using it in our homeschool.

It is a wonderful program that I would recommend for co-op or Sunday school use.

Check out their full line of bible curriculum from Kindergarten to High school!

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received this item free of charge in return for a honest review.