Friday, May 30, 2014

E is for Economics for Everybody

Ben and Me


So this being Caleb's Senior year, I had to tackle the "big" subject of economics. All I remembered about economics is whatever goes up must come down, which I don't think is even true anymore. So I looked at several options and they looked as dry as dust or weren't meaty enough for high school. I eventually settled on Economics for Everybody because, well, it looked interesting and fun.

Economics for Everybody  from Compass Classroom comes with 2 DVDs that include all 12 lessons and a study guide with discussion questions. They also recommend using Basic Economics, Third Edition by Carson and Cleveland to make it a more in depth study. They also have available to download a Scope and Sequence Guide for One Semester along with answers to the study guide. In this guide there are recommendations for additional work along with readings from Basic Economics.  If a student wants to go deeper into the study Compass Classrooms offers a list of resources to go deeper into the study.

Even though the DVD lessons are in lecture format they are not boring in any way. As Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. talks about economics the background will change to to different old film clips and cartoons that illustrate his points. These are fun and engaging. At one point I had to go back and re-watch a part since I got so caught up into the crazy film that was showing I missed the point!  Most of the lessons run around 20 minutes and none of them go longer than 30 minutes.

I ended up using Economics for Everybody in a co-op setting with kids from 13-18. We basically just watched the lesson and spend time answering the multiple choice questions and short questions and if time allowed doing some of the discussion questions. This class was basically used to introduce the topic of Economics to the kids, though it I counted toward Caleb's 1/2 Credit. We did some other books at home to help round out his credit. I will say here that at first some of the younger kids struggled with understanding some of the topics, but we spend time discussing these and by the end of the course they were able to apply the principles taught to current events and from other things they read about in their history books.

I can't begin to tell you how much I learned. I could finally understand things like free markets, command market, principles of the Bible that apply to economics, why America has been blessed, worldview and economics, and so much more. Personally, I think every Christian needs to watch these.

For my family,  Economics for Everybody this was just what was needed as it gave us a solid foundation to understanding economics. Highly recommended!

All thoughts are my own honest opinion. I was not reimbursed in anyway for this review. I am just very happy mama wanting to share her experience with this product.

What On Earth Can I Do? from Apologia (TOS Review)

Apologia Review
Worldview--that big word that makes you stop and scratch your head wondering what it means and asking yourself, "How do I teach it?" Apologia Educational Ministries has produced a Worldview Training Curriculum called What We Believe Series and recently released the fourth book, What On Earth Can I Do?, which we have been using for review along with the Notebooking Journal, Junior Notebooking Journal, and coloring book.
Apologia Review

What on Earth Can I Do? is for grades 1-6 or ages 6-14 and deals with the biblical worldview of stewardship. Students learn what it means to be a "good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23). The lessons covers topics such as: You are a part of God's Story, God owns everything, how to be God's steward, putting God before money and possessions, investing your time wisely, living your life for God's purpose, being a manager of God's resources, and preparing for eternity.

Each lesson has a follows a structure. It opens with an introduction of the main topic, states the learning objective which is then followed by a short story which portrays worldview in action. This is followed by "Think About It" questions and vocabulary words. Then there are Bible verses that the student can write in their notebooks. This is followed by a section that talks about a specific godly character trait that should be demonstrated and how the lesson applies to the student's life. After a short printed prayer a parable of Jesus is told in an engaging short story format. This is followed by more questions and the lesson is finished off with adding an addition on to the House of Truth which is introduced in the other What We Believe books. Throughout the lessons are interesting articles that expose the student to new interests, skills, and experiences.

Apologia Review

The Notebooking Journal gives a suggested daily lesson plans which include the reading and notebook pages. The heart of the journal includes blank note-taking pages, "Think About It" questions, vocabulary "Words to Know", a page to write out your preferred translation of the Bible verse. This is followed by a "Make a Note of It" journaling page where the student can write down their answers for how to apply the lesson to their life. There are also crossword and word search puzzles, mini-books to put together and record important ideas, a page to write or draw a prayer, another page to record praise reports along with several other journaling pages. Lastly their is a list of activities, stories, books, songs, website, and movies that can help enhance each lesson.

Apologia ReviewApologia Review

The Junior Notebooking Journal is similar to the regular journal, but for age 6-8. It does not include journaling questions as they have included coloring pictures which go along with the stories. The crossword and search word puzzles are easier and printed in a bigger font. The scripture verse has larger lines for writing. The mini-books are the same. A list of resources is also included, but it is catered to younger children. The coloring book has over 60 coloring pages that reinforce the lessons that are taught through the book.

I used this with Destini (14) and Chantry (11). We used the beautiful, hardcover textbook and the regular notebook journal. The junior journal was too young for them and neither care to color, so Delani (6) gladly took the coloring book for herself.

I read from the textbook aloud and we spent time discussing what we read using the questions from the notebook journal. These were done orally. They did spend time writing out vocabulary words, scriptures, and working the puzzles that are included in the journal.

Apologia Worldview

I think I can truly say that the readings from the textbook were our favorite part of the whole program. Folks, the stories included to help illustrate the worldview concepts are awesome! Throughout each chapter are small vignettes of different people, historical artifacts, paintings, and more that tie in to that particular lesson, yet are extremely fascinating and made it hard to put the book down at times.These lessons also kept my 14 year old's attention and though my 18 year couldn't join us he would have been just as interested.

I found the notebook journal hard to use at times and well, too confining.  The purpose of the journal is that your student will have their own book when they have finished the course. For certain types of learners this will be right up their alley, but for other types of learners I can easily see this being a nightmare for them (and their mother).

The pages with questions are easy to understand and fill out, though I can see this being a very frustrating for a child who struggles with writing. Many of the pages seemed pointless to me since they required either drawing or more writing. My daughter would just be happy with a blank composition book to answer questions and put in her own notes. That being said I do think the notebook journal is great to have on hand for the resources that are listed in it.

Since we started at the fourth book the "House of Truth" that is presented at the end of four different lessons was a little pointless for us since we hadn't started at the beginning to see it actually being built. This would be one reason to start at the beginning of the series. I just presented the Biblical Truth being taught and I don't think my kids even realized that they had missed anything.

If you use this I do recommend scheduling a nice chunk of time for the reading and notebook activities. This is not a course you are going to breeze through. At first I started following the schedule that is provided in the notebook journal, but eventually gave it up and slowed down and just enjoyed the readings and the discussions that we had.

What On Earth Can I Do? does a great job of teaching about a Biblical Worldview and our would be a great investment to your homeschool curriculum in more ways than one. Highly recommended!

What on Earth Can I Do? is available from Apologia Educational Ministries:
Textbook - $39.00
Notebook Journal - $24.00
Junior Notebook Journal - $24.00
Coloring book - $8.00

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Read-Aloud Thursday: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Read-Aloud Thursday Pictures, Images and Photos


Book Description:
Huckleberry Finn had a tough life with his drunken father, until an adventure with Tom Sawyer changed everything. But when Huck's dad returns and kidnaps him, he must escape down the Mississippi River with a runaway slave named Jim. They encounter trouble at every turn, from floods and gunfights to armed bandits and the long arm of the law. Through it all the friends stick together...but can Huck and Tom free Jim from slavery once and for all?

My thoughts:
Caleb and Destini did a literature class in their co-op and the book that was picked to read through was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I decided to do it as a read-aloud and included Chantry with us.

All three kids had recently read or listened to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which I highly recommend reading before hand. We then ventured into Huck Finn and made it about half way through the book then had a long hiatus due to our move. When I realized that they only had one more literature class to go we sat down and finished off the rest of the book in a weeks time.

My kids' final thoughts on the story was that it was exciting when Tom Sawyer was involved in the story, but when it was just Huck and Jim the story was slow going. Huck Finn doesn't even come close to a great imagination compared to Tom Sawyer. In their literature class they discussed Huck's dilemma in whether he should turn in Jim or not, and that conversation came home and we spent more time talking about it. We all felt that Mark Twain could have cut out a couple of chapters where the character of duke and the king were involved.

This wasn't the easiest book to read aloud. The vernacular is a killer. I kind of just tried to phonetically read it hoping that I would eventually understand what I was saying. My kids seemed to understand most of it so I must of done okay.

The other issue was the "n" word. No, I didn't read it aloud and I did substitute another word. I am going to be controversial here at this point, but many times I felt that the message that Twain was trying to get across was lost with the substitute word. There is something about reading it as Mark Twain wrote it that just makes the hackles rise and really shows the way that people thought about and how they treated African-Americans was wrong and definitely not Christ-like.

In the end I think this is a book that they will need to revisit when they are older and and can read it for themselves. Overall, it was a fun read and even though there are some deep issues raised in the book which lend themselves to much discussion, my kids will probably remember Tom and Huck's pranks most of all.

See what others are reading aloud over at Hope is the Word.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What's On Your Nightstand - May

{Affiliate links enclosed.}
What's On Your Nightstand

I had much better reading month for May. Life isn't so chaotic since we are little more settled in our house. (Well, maybe not, I just moved 3 filled bookcases last night.) For June I am going to attempt a little more, though I may be over zealous. Caleb, my oldest, will be graduating from high school in June which requires a party, graduation ceremony, and visiting parents. But I will need to relax, right?

For June:

I read from April's Nightstand :
I also read:
  • Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse - Honestly, only Wodehouse could make a story out of love and chickens. Fun read.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Read aloud for all of the kids. We all agreed that the high points is when Tom Sawyer is involved in the story.
I listened to:
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot, narrated by Kate Reading - I will admit this is the most frustrating and irritating book I think I've every read, and yet I like it. Go figure. A more thorough review to follow.
 See what others have read over at 5 Minutes for Books.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Pushing Along

May 24 Collage 
 I am hoping that this Journal makes sense. I am holed up in my bedroom fight a major allergy attack which equates to a major brain fog. I have slowly been unpacking boxes, though I keep having inspirations which include moving a big buffet upstairs, a bookshelf in the bathroom (hey, there was room!) and my latest which will be moving 3 big (almost) full bookshelves from the living room to the back room. So you can see that I have a huge project facing me next week.

Our main focus has been working on school work. I have to admit that it is hard to be doing school and trying to get my brain wrapped around what I want to do for next year. One thing I do know is that I am not cut out for year-round schooling.

Here is what has been happening around here:
1. & 2.  Gifts I made. Decorated mini-composition books and magnets.
3. & 4. Baseball surrounds us!
5. & 6. It was our last event for our co-op. It ended with an art show. All the art that Delani (5) & Chantry (6) was displayed and then everyone voted on each child's favorite piece. At the end of the night they received a ribbon for their best piece. They also received awards for the presentations that they gave and accomplishments they did in P.E.
7. My new rose bush. There weren't any roses at our new house so I splurged and bought one for right now.
8. Destini has been really pushing through her spelling book trying to get it finished. I feel like I'm always giving a test.
9. This is our newest history read. We have a looong ways to go before we will be finished with this one. I do have an audio in case I can't stand it anymore, but for some reasons my kids retain so much more when I read it aloud vs. an audio book.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reading Journal: Wife After God Devotional by Jennifer Smith (Book Review)

Wife After God: 30 Day Marriage Devotional For Wives

This review is long overdue due to our move, but life has finally slowed down a bit and I want to share my thoughts on this devotional book, Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband by Jennifer Smith from Unveiled Wife.

Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband is a 30 day devotional. The focus is to help wives spend quality time with God every day though reading the Bible, praying, and journaling. The devotional for each day has a focus verse(s), then the thought, a prayer, a challenge, status update, and journaling questions. Topics include God's purpose in marriage, companionship, joy, wisdom, praying for yourself, husband, and marriage, intimacy with God and in marriage, and much more. It is honest, heart-felt, convicting, yet encouraging.

I have been married for almost 22 years and you would think I have this wife thing down pat. Think again. Yes, I have learned a lot over the years, but there is room for improvement. That is what I appreciate about Wife After God. As I went through this devotional I could relate so much with what the author had to say. This book not only does a great job of reminding wives what marriage is all about, but also talks about real-life issues--pride, self-worth, forgiveness, and more.

I always make it a point to read a book about marriage every so ofter since it helps me to be a better wife and Wife After God: Drawing Closer to God & Your Husband really fit the bill. This book is a great book for a newly wed bride, a wife of a few years, or many years. Highly recommended!

Get more information here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this from Unveiled Wife in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

D is for Drawer Organization

Drawer Organization 2
 1. My drawer. 2. The kids' drawer. 
3. My husband's snazzy drawer organizer!

We recently purchased a house and moved which of course requires dealing with changes. In our old house all of the bathrooms had cabinets on the wall to store all the paraphernalia that collects in the bathroom. 

In our new home we have only sink cabinets with drawers. For the last two months our bathroom drawers have been in quite a bit of chaos. My husband found an old silverware holder and fixed his drawer. That left me trying to figure out what to do with my drawer and the drawers in the kid's bathroom. If you've ever priced drawer organizers they are not cheap. 

The other day I was finally able to make it into The Dollar Tree and found these red baskets I only bought a few to see how they would fit and was excited to see them fit exactly. That sent me back to get some more for the kid's bathroom. Yes, I have a few more drawers to get organized, but I'm thrilled that I found something that worked. 

I am going to leave you with a picture of my favorite drawers. When I saw that my drawers were wider in our new home and immediately went to Costco and splurged on these expanding drawer dividers. Now I don't dread opening my drawers anymore.  

Kitchen Drawers

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trident Case for iPad (TOS Review)

Trident Case Review
A few weeks ago we received in the mail a new case for our iPad--the Kracken A.M.S. Case for iPad 2/3/4--from Trident Case for review. When I saw the Trident Case I was immediately intrigued. This is a very sturdy and strong case that won't be wearing out anytime soon, something I couldn't say about our current case. So what makes the Kracken A.M.S. Case so intriguing (besides the name)?
Trident Case Review
The Kracken A.M.S. Case for iPad 2/3/4 are the sturdiest and strongest cases that Trident Case offers. Here are a variety of features that come on this case.
  • Hardened polycarbonate shell 
  • Shock-absorbing silicone 
  • Built-in screen protector 
  • Protection for device controls and ports 
  • Enhanced audio Meets or exceed military standards for vibration, drop, dust, sand, and rain 
  • Optional accessories are available 
A couple of other pluses are that this case is made in the USA. Trident Cases are also made out of bio-enhanced plastic which can be recycled, is degradable and compostable. Oh, and my favorite thing--the variety of colors! You can pick from black, blue, pink, red, Trident green, purple, orange, and maroon. These are not dull colors, but very vibrant colors.
Trident Case Review
I had picked the maroon case, which met everyone's approval. I first wrapped in the shock-absorbing silicone, then placed the built in screen protector on the front, and finished it off with the hard polycarbonate case placed on the back. The silicone shows through on the corners and along the sides along the back. This is handy in helping you have a good grip on your iPad. Also, the silicone has a cover for every port and button to keep the dust out.

We have never put a screen protector on our iPad and I wasn't too sure how well the screen protector would work. Well, I didn't have anything to worry about. It worked great and responded to touch just like it was the original screen. My only complaint with the screen protector is that it did show fingerprints which at times made it hard to see things on the screen. I think this is due to be just a little bit raised off of the screen and it caused more glare than the original screen.

At first I found the buttons being covered by the silicone a little different, but it didn't take long to adjust. I don't think my kids had an issue with it at all! I also found that the sound wasn't hindered in the least and worked great.

The case does not come with a stand or holder, which was missed by all of us. A stand and holder is available as an accessory for and additional $19.95. For the price of the case, a stand included would make it a much better investment for families that are willing to spend a little more for a sturdy case that hold up to kids and regular wear and tear.

We have always traveled with out iPad and haven't had any mishaps with it. Being in the Kracken A.M.S. case I felt if it was dropped was better protected, but we didn't try it out to see. The biggest problem we had with traveling was that Siri kept getting pressed on and we would have turn her off. I also take the iPad to church all of the time and many times I felt funny carrying in my iPad in this case. It is very clunky to carry around and for a nice occasion I like my iPad better in a case that makes it look more like a book.

Overall, we have been very happy with the Kracken A.M.S. for iPad 2/3/4 so much so that we are seriously looking at getting a Trident Case for my husband's iPhone. These cases are sturdy, tough, and user friendly for all ages!

The Kracken A.M.S. for iPad 2/3/4 is available from Trident Case for $69.95.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum by Golden Prairie Press

Golden Prairie Press Review

I love history and was excited to be able to review a new elementary American history program called Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum by Golden Prairie Press.
Golden Prairie Press Review
Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is for primary grades 1-6 and its focus is all about bringing history to life. Each section contains 5 lessons. Most of the lesson were overviews of the time period. These lessons are divided into two sections. The first is for 1st and 2nd grade and are simple overviews. The second section is for grades 3-6 and are filled with a lot more information. Some lessons also contain stories about heroes and heroines written by authors from the past to present. Included in each lesson was:
  • A memory verse - It is recommended that they write it out on an index card and study it for the week. On day 5 they recite it. 
  • Questions from the text 
  • Writing topic suggestions 
  • Maps and geography questions 
  • Activities (Crafts, cooking, timeline, etc.) 
  • Recommended literature books available for purchase 
  • Answer key and recommended resource lists for each historical division. 

Beside the reader text, the heart of this program lies in the activities that are included. The author contends that to bring history to life recipes need to be cooked, games played, historical art looked at, doing crafts, listening to the songs and speeches of the past. Here is a sampling of the activities that are included:
  • Historical art Games of the Past 
  • Recipes from the past 
  • Songs from history 
  • Listening to  speeches, poems, and sermons from history
  • Craft projects
  •  Experiments 
  • Watching events 
American History 
1. Text  2. List of audio resources 
3. Timeline 4. George Washington Snake Game

I used Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum with Chantry (5th) and Destini (7th). We started in Book 2 in the time period of National Expansion since that is where we were in our current American history book.

I read a lesson a day and instead of using the chapter questions I would have them narrate. We usually did one or two activities a week. We have always focused on American songs in music study and so learning about where these songs came from were a big hit. We also listened to different speeches, watched a video about Alexander Graham Bell, filled in timelines, looked at maps, looked at art, and played games. The writing suggestions are a great fit for kids who like creative writing. If your child struggles with creative writing you could suggest a topic that would work for them.

We did not use the recommended literature. These selections are available through Golden Prairie Press and have been edited by Amy Puetz. Instructions on where to use these are included in the American history books. These are available in print format or e-book format. I did think the price for the the e-books quite steep. Honestly, we had plenty to discuss without the extra literature and at the end of each time period is a list of recommended resources filled with literature, biographies, and movie selections that would give you more than enough to enhance your child's learning.

I appreciate that Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum goes all the way through modern history yet has the feel of an old history book (yes, even though I read it off of my iPod). The overview stories are filled with many facts, which my kids found a little dry, but the stories that accompany many of the lessons were big hits and help make history come alive, even for my 7th grader. Another thing I liked was integration of listening to history with songs, speeches, and poetry.

Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum Package comes with:
  • Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1 and 2
  • Additional Materials CD
  • Historical Skits
  • Sing Some History CD
  • Listen to Some History CD
This curriculum is available at Golden Prairie Press for $98.99
The literature pack that includes the five additional literature books is available for $59.99.

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