Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: Elizabethan England, Promotions, Planning & How the Woolly Mammoth Really Became Extinct

I can hardly believe that this marks the end of Unit 2 in Tapestry of Grace.  Wow, has time has flown!!!

In addition to keeping up with this week's learning, I hammered out planning Unit 3.  Since I've got a firm handle on the flow for my Dialectic & Rhetoric students, I feel confident adding my Upper Grammar student.

This week's reading:
Elizabethan England

We also attempted to watch a movie on Mary Queen of Scots that was too painful to watch all the way through and one on Queen Elizabeth that was a tad bit better.

Also in the planning phase:  Apologia General Science schedule for co-op and combination American Girl Marie-Grace/Cecile/French/1850's time period rough-draft lapbook for our Keeper's of the Faith co-op.  

What can I say, it's been a good but busy week for planning!

In addition my daughter moved from the beginning rank to advanced at Kempo earning her purple belt!

BEFORE belt testing......

AFTER belt testing!

And, in case you've ever wonder what REALLY happened to the Woolly Mammoth, Napoleon gives you a hint....

On to Early American history!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Classical Historian Game & Curriculum Review!

Over the years I've learned bit by bit how to more or less run a Socratic history discussion in our homeschool.

What is Socratic Discussion?  It's a method of informal debate named after Socrates in which students research and prepare facts on a given topic to show understanding and critical thinking.

What's so great about Socratic Discussion?  Let me share this quote from a national board certified teacher, homeschool Dad of 7 and author of Classical Historian, John DeGree.

"As a public school teacher of 16 years and a homeschool teacher of 10 years, it is obvious to me that most of our country's history education involves memorization and regurgitation.  Unfortunately, we are developing a strong dislike of history among America's youth, and our young people are growing up susceptible to manipulation by our mass media.  When our kids do not know how to distinguish between a strong and weak historical argument they will rely on "experts" to tell them what happened."

Reading and agreeing with this statement made me all the more curious about this company and their products.

I was blessed to review Modern American History (included in this review:  a 32 Week Detailed Guide for the Parent/Teacher,  Take a Stand! Modern American History Student's Book and Teaching the Socratic Discussion DVD Curriculum).

Modern American History Classical Historian

The Classic Historian program takes you and your student(s) step by step through the why's and how's of Socratic Discussion complete with writing analytical essays.

The DVD is filled with clear, concise explanations that are easy to follow and execute with examples and questions.

Topics covered are:
Fact or opinion
Supporting evidence
Primary or Secondary Source Analysis
Using Quotes

PLUS an actual Socratic Discussion is held on the video between DeGree and his daughter's aged 14 and 12.

In addition to the discussions, there's a wealth of information on how to write, revise and grade a one, three and five paragraph analytical essay.

I really enjoyed the DVD's but found the flow between using them and the accompanying guides a bit tricky.  Fortunately this 32 week guide has instructions laid out for you.  After 'jumping in' and working the program, I found the flow of work to be manageable.

Modern American History covers Immigration to Technology for grades 9-12th.

In all honesty, this is the first High School level history curriculum that I would consider switching to.  But, since I did not get to look at the spine books used with the above components, I can't totally say for certain that this would be a better fit than our current curriculum.

Also, the Socratic DVD's can be used with ANY program.  I can say with confidence that using the Classical Historian will help your student bring the facts of history to the table through reading, researching, discussing and writing!

Modern American History One Year Guide  retails for $24.99
Take a Stand! Modern American History Student's Edition  retails for $18.95
Teaching the Socratic Discussion History DVD Curriculum  retails for $79.99

Buy the Modern American History bundle which includes spine books for $146.99

But enough about curriculum....

How about a set of visually appealing cards that teach history, timeline and geography while playing old school Go Fish, Collect the Cards, Chronology or Continents.... plus is just plain fun????

 Ancient History Go Fish

We had a blast with the Ancient History Go Fish deck of cards.  My kids, aged 14, 12 and 9 beg to play  and have asked for the other decks (Medieval and American History) as well.  These are marked for ages 3 and up.  I would think these would be better for a slightly older child.

 Ancient History Go Fish

 Ancient History Go Fish

 Ancient History Go Fish

Ancient History Go Fish retails for $11.95.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up: Thanksgiving in June?

 Thanksgiving in June?


Why not!!!

Why should we only have an all out celebration of 'thanks' and turkey leftovers once a year?

Weekly Wrap Up:  Thanksgiving in June?

What a way to celebrate the kick off to our Sabbath week with a little Thanksgiving with our favorites -   praise, fellowship, love and family!

Weekly Wrap Up:  Thanksgiving in June?

So, consider breaking out the good china and the fancy table cloth to start your own mid-year family tradition!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Remarkable Ronald Reagan: Cowboy & Commander in Chief Book Review & Giveaway!

Sitting down with my four children aged 3-14,  I began reading aloud:

"The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man.  The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become."

"We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."

"Governments' first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives."

"Wow Mom!  Who said all of that?  I wish HE was president!" said my 12 year old.

"Well kids, those words were spoken by former President Ronald Reagan.", I replied.

"WOW!" remarked my 14, 12 and 9 year olds.

The Remarkable Ronald Reagan takes your young reader through our 40th President's youth, career, and family life right up to the White House years.  Author Susan Allen has done a fabulous job of capturing Reagan's character:  steadfast, charismatic and perserverant.  And also showing that he was a President after the Founding Father's hearts.

The Remarkable Ronald Reagan - review and GIVEAWAY!

Though this book is written for 3-4th graders, it is interesting and well received by ALL ages.  Also included is a timeline of "Highlights from a Life Well-Lived", personal letters and more quotes!

Though he wasn't a perfect man, nor his presidency flawless, Ronald Reagan really understood the foundation on which this country was birthed and gave himself to uphold that conviction.  It comes through loud and clear in this biographical gem!

As one who lived through the Reagan years,   I still get goose bumps when I hear , "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

And you can enter to win a copy of this book for your own!  Just leave me a comment about Ronald Reagan to enter!  Winner will be chosen at random on 6/27/13 and has 72 hours to respond to winning notification email with their physical address.  This book will be mailed directly from publisher.

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review as a part of the TLC Book Tour.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mega Meal Monday - Super Tasty Ranch Turkey Meatloaf!

In a rush and need a quick and tasty meatloaf?  Try this recipe....and while you are at it, make one or two extra to freeze.

This recipe can now be found at Tales of a Homeschool Family.....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - Counter Reformation: French Huguenots & The Netherlands

Another reason why I love teaching my kids with Tapestry of Grace is the ability to simultaneously teach literature, history, art and music centered around one historical time period.  This aids tremendously in depth of understanding AND retention.  Plus, it's just plain fun!

My high school student, in addition to these books, read The Taming of the Shrew on his own.  I in turn, read a "modern" version of this Shakespeare story to my younger kids.  You know you've got a hit when the kids ask you to keep reading even though they have earned computer time and can play!

We also took in the 1960's film of the same name.  It met with mixed reviews and made for some interesting conversation!

Counter Reformation:  French Huguenots & The Netherlands

Utilizing the "An Introduction to the Classics" cd's, we learned more about Vivaldi and enjoyed his pieces!

And in other news, we think we finally have a name for our rescue cat.  He came with the name Rodger.  But, he wasn't a Rodger.  Then we tried D'artangun, Oscar, Kitty, Fargis.....nothing stuck.  As of this week, we believe he's firmly Napoleon!

Next week is a Sabbath week.  My oldest will be serving the community during Week of Hope and the rest of us will be resting and enjoying some well deserved free time!

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do We Know God Is Really There? Book Review

Written in conversational tone between Father and son, How Do We Know God is Really There? is a great tool for teaching K-3rd graders how to answer the "God nay-sayers" with concrete examples from Edwin Hubble (think Hubble Telescope) that "something exists outside of time that has the power to cause and create."

     "God has created some magnificent things, hasn't He, Thomas?"  his dad said.

     Thomas paused to think about this.

     Then he asked, "Dad, how do we know God is out there?  I mean, I know the Bible says He's there.  But how do we really know that's true?"

     "That's a very important question.  What made you think of it?"  his dad asked.

Though I don't have a child in the K-3rd grade range, my youngest enjoyed this introduction to the cosmos with a Biblical Worldview read to him by his oldest brother.

I can see that this book from Apologia will become a bedtime favorite!

How Do We Know That God is Really There? retails for $16.

See what other Mosaic Reviews are saying about this product! (Link coming soon)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Reading Lesson Review!

I've been working on this particular review for awhile.  When I first received it, my non-reader was a very rambunctious 3 year old.

I introduced The Reading Lesson Book to him, but he was more interested in playing.

Ok, no big deal.  We will just put this away for awhile and enjoy The Sounds of Letters DVD also from Mountcastle Company.

Fast forward a few months and my non-reader is an almost 4 years old.  We've enjoyed learning our letter sounds and he's shown some interest in the 'big book'.

We start at the beginning working in short increments.  Though he's willing, he's not retaining much.'s back on the shelf for a wee bit longer.

As a mom of four who's first three kids each began to read at different ages (1 early, 1 'average' and 1 late), I know that when he's ready, it will be the right time to learn!

But, enough about my experience.  Here's why I really like this program:

"We found ourselves in this situation when our daughter was four years old.  She learned the alphabet, and we were waiting for her to start reading some simple words.  We sent for several commercial reading programs, the same ones you often hear advertised on the radio.  What we got back was a slew of cassette tapes and flash cards.  Our daughter would not sit and listen to the tapes, and the flash cards were all over the house.  We also bought software programs for learning to read and found them too shallow and haphazards.  disappointed, we began to make our own simple exercises and stories for her to read.  We read books on reading instruction for children, researched academic material, talked to parents and teachers, and began to develop a simple daily reading program.  Michael's understanding of child psychology and development, and my desire for a simple, easy-to-follow method, let to the program you hold in your hands."

What makes this 20 lesson program special?

* Goes from no reading skills to about the second grade level.

* Step-by-step, easy to follow instruction

* A child that is ready to read *should* work 15-20 minutes a day.  Each lesson takes approximately 1-2 weeks depending on the child.

*Each lessons starts with 3-4 sounds and introduces sight words along the way.

*Teaches the most common letters in the English language first (Lesson one:  c, o, s, a, t).  Does not go in alphabetical order.

*Uses only lower-case letters in the first half of the lessons AND uses special typography starting the book with large letters and ending with smaller letters.

Here's a glance at part of the Lesson One:

Check out the rest of Lesson One AND more from the Reading Lesson Here.

Compared to other similar phonics programs on the market that we've have experienced, I really like the layout, ease, and its' concentration with only reading (decoding) while going through each lesson.  Some kids just aren't good at writing while trying to decode.  Too much multi-tasking makes for many tears!

I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation will be received.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mega-Meal Monday! Chicken Broccoli & Meatball Soup

I've been privileged to do Once-A-Month cooking with my friend Jen over this past year.  (Visit Jen HERE!) Not only does it save on time, money, and sanity, it helps keep those trips to the drive-thru a thing of the past.

Since my cooking partner is Super Mom during the summer serving her church and community with Weeks of Hope AND Work Camps, this leaves me without a freezer full of meals.


I admit that taking on the task of doing all that prep work and assembling by myself is daunting.  There is another way I can still stock my freezer with pre-made food.

It's called Mega-Cooking or Mega-Batch Cooking....

The basis is simple.  If you make one recipe for a meal that freezes well, why not make more than one??  One to eat the day of and the rest to freeze!

So with that, here's my first recipe of my Mega-Meal Summer!

The recipes for Chicken & Broccoli Casserole and Meatball Soup can now be found at Tales of a Homeschool Family.....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - Recitals and Reformation!

Last week was a whirl wind of recitals and reading!  

The Reformation in Switzerland, England & Scandinavia
The Reformation in Switzerland, England & Scandinavia

This was probably the most reading my junior high and high schoolers have done so far this year in terms of depth and understanding .  I'm happy to say that their perseverance really paid off with a great Friday afternoon discussion time on both historical reading and literature.

Though my oldest didn't like the plot of Christopher Marlowe's "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus" (who would!!!??!), he preserved through it like a champ.  He really grasped the ironies of the story and  it was a good introduction to Elizabethan literature.  

In addition, we watched "A Man for All Seasons" and an edited version of "Anne of 1,000 Days".

On the talent horizon, my middle two kids had their piano and ballet recitals.  I'm blessed to not only have a fellow homeschooling mom as my son's piano teacher, BUT, have her talented, homeschooled, Russian-Ballet trained daughter teach my daughter ballet!!!  

My daughter was one of three precious stones.  (Video forthcoming).

My son managed to cruise through 2 1/2 levels of piano instruction in only 9 months.  For a newbie, I think he's doing excellent!  Here he is doing "March of the English Guard."

Though it's summer and the heaviest time for school in this household, I think we are due some playtime!  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homeschool Programming GIVEAWAY!

I've had the privilege of reviewing and using Teen Coder Series this past year with my 9th grade who earned one high school credit in Computer Science.

And, as an affiliate for Homeschool Programming I am so excited to be able to offer a giveaway for one of the following 1st semester courses.  Winner will choose from:

Beginning Web Design -  Homeschool Programming


Kid Coder Windows Programming  Homeschool Programming


Teen Coder Windows Programming  Homeschool Programming


Java Programming  Homeschool Programming

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer:  As an affiliate, I was offered ONE 1st semester course from Homeschool Programming to give away free of charge.  I did not receive any compensation for this giveaway.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

See the Light: God's Special Surprise Review & Giveaway!

I'm not an artistic person by nature.  Because of this, we have many "how-to" art books in our household.  I can make a good stab at a project using one of these, but, having an actual instructor present would help so much more!

That's one of the reasons why I was so exited to try a DVD from See the Light!

What is See the Light?

From their website:

"With a love for the Lord Jesus Christ, a heart for children, and a passion for ministry, Dave and Pat Holt bring you the SEE THE LIGHT team:

ARTISTS with specialties that include teaching a large variety of techniques, art history, chalk artistry, performance art, gospel chalk art (with black light), crafts, creative lettering, and more;
MUSICIANS whose talents include songwriting, musical performance, arranging, and producing. The SEE THE LIGHT team is dedicated to bringing scripture and biblical principles to viewers in a fresh, engaging way. . . and promising to teach some exciting art skills along the way!"

We choose God's Special Surprise so the whole family could enjoy this experience.  All my children (ages 14, 12, 9 & 3) were captivated by the dramatic retelling of Moses' Story complete with "live" artist's rendition including a special black-light-viewing surprise at the end!

This DVD also includes 3 art lessons.  One utilizes chalk pastels, one with mixed media and one in creative lettering.

Our hands down favorite was using the chalk pastels in "Hope for the Nations."

Pat Kenply's instruction was clear and easy to follow.  She also gave step by step tips on how to properly shade the sky and water.  Even the most artistically inept can follow along!

The end result:

This one is from my oldest.  He's a totally analytical kid with no desire to do art.  He REALLY enjoyed this video!  Though he did not want to tackle the fine details on the Princess or Baby Moses, this is a great job for him!

This one is from my 9 year old crafty girl.  It's hard to see, but, she did a great job in the shading of the sky, reeds and water.  It was a bit of a learning curve doing proportions on the Princess and Baby Moses.

This one is from my 12 year old very social son.  He was more captivated by watching the artist and his siblings than he was in his own drawing.  As usual, he enjoyed himself!

This is my drawing.  We discovered that the key in making the Princess is to make her large enough to include details.  For a totally non-artistic person, I'm kinda proud of myself!

This my 3 year olds rendition.  He REALLY had a good time!

Are you interested in this easy to use, wonderful Bible study / art lesson DVD?  Well, you can enter to win a copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received the above product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Girls of American History Giveaway!

So, you've read my review of the Felicity study from Girls of American History and decided that you love studying history utilizing the American Girls' characters and books just as much as I do!

Perhaps you are in the midst of looking for something fun to do over the summer or planning out next year's curriculum.

Why not add one of these fabulous guides from Girls of American History to your plans?

In fact, why not enter this giveaway to win a study guide of your choice ?  Choose one from Kaya, Felicity, Josephina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha or Kit.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received the Felicity Girls of American History guide free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  There will be no further compensation.