Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ben’s Pygmalion; Levi’s Cloud

 

Ben and Levi took a drama class this summer.  For the final class, the middle and high school students each performed a monologue, and Ben was given Professor Henry Higgins.  I was very pleased with his performance:

 

I really enjoyed Ben’s performance.

Levi and the elementary aged students (all girls – except Levi!) performed Aesop fables.  Levi’s fable was the North Wind

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

{Not so} Wordless Wednesday: Yep. I Built This.

 
Trust me, this isn’t going to turn into a furniture building blog. 
 
For Christmas, Dave demo’ed a  front coat closet we had.  It was an annoying closet because the edge of it – just about 1/4 of an inch at the bottom – prevented the front door from opening back all the way.  Since, we don’t really come up the front steps in the wintery months, the coat closet wasn’t really used for more than stuffing junk in. 
 
So he busted it out of the house, and now I have this nice little nook that needed a bench to put purses and bags on.  So I found a simple bench to build at Ana White.
 
 

The top opens up and we can put gloves and hats and stuff in it.  I went funky and stained the bottom this blue-ish color, and I wanted a darker black-ish stain on the top.  I like how it turned out!  Next up is a wall rack to hold coats and mail.  I hope it will look like this, but I’ll put some of the blue stain on it as an accent:

 

Entryway Bench and Storage Shelf with Hooks

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Nina and Pinta

 

The boys and I met up with some friends to tour the reproductions of Columbus’ beloved Nina and the Pinta as it made its way up the Atlantic coast.

The Nina – way smaller than I could’ve imagined.  I cannot believe 26 people sailed on this across the ocean! : 

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The Pinta- slightly bigger than the Nina, but not as large as the original boat:

 

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Families in the Midwest, don’t think that you are left out!  The ships are headed up the Hudson River, through the Erie Canal, and Great Lakes will make their way down the Mississippi River this fall.

You can check out their ports of call:  http://www.thenina.com/schedule.html

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Perfect Summer Day

 

Luke and Levi had friends (a pair of brothers) sleep over recently.  My boys had been working on making paper folded fortune wookies prior to their arrived, inspired by Tom Angelberger’s Origami Yoda book series:

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After they returned from the soccer field, the four boys starting transforming practically every piece of construction paper in the house into paper-folded Star Wars characters.

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Who has to say, “OK boys, time to put your origami away and go to bed?”  Me, happily me.

And who wakes up hearing boys pass tape, fold paper, and discuss eye placement?  Me, happily me. 

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They even made up some of their own characters,and adapted some of the folding instructions in the back of the books to make them a tad more realistic (I mean, ya gotta have R2D2 legs!) What an awesome summer day.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Veritas Press Self-Paced History Courses {Crew Review}

 

Levi is loving history!

Veritas Press sent us a complementary 12-month subscription to one of their Veritas Press Self-Paced History courses for elementary grades (2nd – 6th grade; minimum age is 7 years old).  Levi wanted to study the Bible and chose Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt ($199) with the accompanying Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards ($19.95) to help him learn the ancient portion of the Veritas Press timeline. 

About Veritas Press:  Based in Pennsylvania, Veritas Press is a provider of classical Christian curriculum.  The have comprehensive packages of grade level materials as well as online classes through Veritas Academy.  The program that we had the pleasure of using a self-paced program, which affords a student with the multi-media benefits of Veritas’ online teaching with the ability to work around your family’s schedule.

Their elementary-aged history courses include the following five courses (each is offered as a self-paced course):

  • Old Testament and Ancient Egypt
  • New Testament, Greece and Rome
  • Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation
  • Explorers to 1815
  • 1815 to Present

You can read more about Veritas Press at their About Us page.

Technical Requirements:  This product is 100% online. Well, except for the timeline cards. You will need to be connected to the internet every time you use the program.  This is compatible with both Apple and PC operating systems.

  • You will need an up-to-date web browser (we found that Firefox and Chrome both worked well)
  • 1GB of RAM (2 GB is preferred)
  • Flash Player 10 or above (you can check which Flash Player you have at this Adobe Flash Player Help site). 
  • Make sure that you enable pop ups for this site!  Otherwise, you will get very frustrated and hear a lot of “Mom, it’s not working!”  {Ask me how I know!}
  • You can find additional technical information at Veritas Press Self Paced History FAQs.
  • Internet speed is recommended to be a minimum consistent speed of 1 Mbps.  You can run www.speedttest.net.  Additionally, if you navigate to www.pingtest.net, you’ll get a grade for the quality of your connection.  Veritas Press recommends a minimum grade of B for their program to work.  My connection quality was given a B (I ran the test while we were streaming a movie), and we have had no trouble running the program.

How The Program Works:  Veritas Press sent comprehensive directions to me to help me register myself as the instructor and then set up my student account.  When you purchase the program, only one student can be registered for the cost of the registration fee (but there is a discount for siblings!).  The program offers multiple choice and online worksheets and tests that are graded immediately, therefore only one student’s scores will be recorded. 

The teacher’s screen looks like this:

VP teacher screen with comments 
Progress through the 160 lessons is noted on the left side and up-to-date course grade is reported on top.   The program was created for students to work on daily (5 days a week) and there is one worksheet per week scheduled as well as one test.  In a traditional schedule, the worksheet is done one lesson after the test (so a test ideally would be on a Friday and a worksheet for review on the following Monday).

On the lower left side of the instructor’s screen are PDF documents that help flesh out the history program into a comprehensive history/ literature course.  One document, a supply list, can be printed to help you plan the hands-on projects you can build to enrich lessons – things like an Egyptian Paddle doll, coloring pages, or a King Tut mask.  The activities can all be printed out from within the lessons.  In addition, a reading schedule of selected books (available through Veritas Press) have been aligned with the history lessons.

So, about these history lessons.  Each lesson is an interactive PowerPoint-like slide presentation.  Our guide was the an Egyptian Sphinx.  He introduced lessons and often gave Levi his quiz!  Here are some screen shots of from a lesson:

VP video clips in slidesThis slide is a short movie clip that is introducing a lesson.
 
VP quizThis slide is an interactive quiz.  Levi would click the correct a purple bar to indicate the correct answer.
 
VP history card readingThe history timeline song is sung for practice, and the timeline cards are used in the lesson.
 
VP attachmentsThe table of contents allows you to see what is covered in each lesson.  Also, the attachments section pulls down;  you can print the paper craft activities from here.
 
Veritas Press Jeopardy game (lesson 30)This was one of Levi’s most favorite review activities!  A Jeopardy-style quiz! 
 

You can sample and view a week’s worth of lessons from all of the history courses (Sorry, I don’t know how to make them show up here in the review).

The Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards ($19.95) are beautiful, high quality timeline cards that sequence into the history program.  The facing side shows beautiful artwork that captures the essence of the historical event represented on the card.  The words on this side are those used in the timeline song;  dates are included when appropriate.  The opposite side of each card has a summary of the event and includes additional resources that can be used to dig deeper into the event (the resources are available through Veritas Press).  

How We Used the Program:  Levi jumped into this program the second after I was finished registering him.  Lessons were never very long --- 15 minutes maybe – and the slide presentation had a variety of live-action material, interactive lessons/ quizzes, songs, and action that it really held his attention.  As a matter of fact, it held his attention SO well, he often completed multiple assignments each day!  I can definitely see that if you were only completing the self-paced history lessons, you could easily finish in shorter than 32-weeks!

Levi did hit a snag in one section of the lessons – he was asked to type out a new vocabulary word in 40 seconds. This was hard for him and frustrated him to the point that he didn’t want to work through the program anymore!  After I coaxed out his reason for refusing to continue, we talked about it, and I helped him through that step.  He is good to go know – but I used this as a reminder that even though the program is very self-motivating and easy to progress through, I do need to keep my eye on what he is doing more than I had been.

I did want to talk for a minute about how we used the history timeline cards.  The cards are considered essential to the program – and having used similar cards in the past, I totally understand why.  Having the cards as a hands-on tool is really important.  We actually started the online program a few weeks before we received the cards in the mail, and I was happy to report that it didn’t really affect Levi’s desire to use the program nor his ability to learn the information – including the timeline song!  I am always SO impressed to see how students soak up information – especially when put to song.  The detail he is learning about the Old Testament + Ancient Egypt is amazing.  Now that we have the cards, I like to hand him some of the cards out of order and make him order them correctly.  He enjoys it as well.

My recommendations & thoughts:  I am very pleased by how much Levi is retaining and learning by using Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt.  There is just the right amount of teaching and systematic review.  The variety of teaching (and quizzing/ testing) styles makes the program very interesting to 21st Century students.   Using the online course by itself will give your student the basics of the the time period, and if you include the additional tools available from Veritas Press (literature and nonfiction books), you will have a very full curriculum. 

Veritas Press Review

If you are looking for middle/ high school self-paced courses from Veritas Press, crew members also reviewed Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I.

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