Sunday, July 28, 2013

{Review Crew} Global Art ~ A Trip Around the World


Gryphon House publishers sent me a complementary copy of MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter’s  Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World ($16.95, grades K-5th).  My little crafter, Levi, liked the idea of this book, and encouraged me us to review it.

Global Art divides its 130 projects into geographical areas.  Studying about Australia?  Turn to the Oceania and South Pacific section.  Africa?  South America?  Looking for a craft to go along with Asian studies?  Global Art will likely have a project to enrich your studies of the geography, history or culture of the area.

Art media your children can gain experience with include:

painting ● sculpture ● construction ● drawing ● collage ● printing

I liked that the  book used a variety of icons to help us make a choice from all the art projects.  You’ll see these icons on the top of each project page:


Indexes in the back of the book group projects by these icons, and there is a great index that can help you search out a project by material. This is a really helpful way to search out projects for specific grade levels (this book is appropriate for K-5th grade) or ability level.  Looking to use up some art tissue paper?  You’ll find five projects to choose from. Wanting to repurpose a couple plastic bottles from the recycle bin?  You’ll find projects utilizing a class bottle, dishwashing detergent bottle, spray bottle and squeeze bottle. 

It’s important to remember that art education with young students is not so much about the end product, but the creative process.  Oh, this is so hard in our house, where my kids love the idea of art projects but get easily discouraged with the end product.  Books like this really need to become a regular part of our week!

How We Used this Book: Since we are on summer vacation and not following any particular history or geography strand right now, I just let Levi explore the book and pick out some activities he wanted to try.  One of our first excursions was to Vietnam/ Asia.  Levi made a Tet Trung Thu (mid-autumn festival) lantern like these:


This is what our process looked like:

Photo%203[1] Photo%204[1] Photo%202[1] Photo%205[1]
Levi used a variety of small cookie cutters and stencils for cut outs He covered the openings with colored tissue paper Next we attached string and used paper plate for the base We inserted a flash light to see the glow!


Levi really likes sculpture and quickly turned to the page of Antarctica to sculpt penguins with salt dough.  This was an interesting process because we worked tempera paint into the dough itself to colorize it.  Sadly, he chose to do this during one of our blistery hot weeks in July.  May I comment that salt dough during  a heat wave is a bugger to work with?

Poor Levi’s penguin kept melting and just could not handle 90º+ heat!  This is my penguin, though:


He’s pretty darn cute! There are at least 20 other sculpture projects to try, and just to be on the safe side, we’ll wait for temps under 81º and give some others a go.

After a week of VBS, Levi developed an extreme fascination with playing the recorder (he even won an inexpensive plastic one).  Levi saw a Brazilian flute to  create out of a drinking straw, and was eager to try this project.  Unfortunately, his little flute did not work, which was a big disappointment to him.  But, such is life, and we moved on.

My recommendations & thoughts: This is  a great book to add to your collection of materials for adding a hands-on element to your literature rich history programs.  I call this a two-fer book:  it helps enrich history/ geography studies as well as providing a range of artistic experiences for your child.  I love it when we find materials that serve multiple purposes.

Gryphon House also allowed Crew Members the opportunity to review The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live in addition to Global Art

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Creating Electronic Timelines for High School

As I prepare for my first semester tutoring Classical Conversations' Challenge II program (what appears to be an amazingly interesting course in British Literature and Western Cultural History), I see that one of the assignments will be to compile a comprehensive timeline of history events, composers, artists, and authors and their works.  It does not sound like a small project.

Ben and I created a handwritten timeline using Sonlight's Timeline Book a long, long time ago.  Because of the nature of this timeline I'll be tutoring my students to create (I've decided to make one myself), I've been encouraged to make an electronic timeline.

There are a lot of options for creating timelines using computers!  Since this is all new to me, I thought I'd share some of what I've learned to help others find ways to create them for their classes:

Two online programs I've found (free!) are Tiki Toki and Dipity. Both of these can be used to make more than historical timelines (you can import social media into Dipity, for example).

If you are wanting an offline tool, Excel seems to be one of the easiest tools to be able to add more information.  I found this Excel Template (for both a historical timeline and a project-based timeline) which you can rename, delete the cell contents (there is a sample timeline of Benjamin Franklin's life), and expand.  Here's the website:

Timelines look like this:
This template uses the XY graph to create a horizontal timeline.  If you want more information about how to create this type of timeline, I suggest you watch this video from a LDS genealogist  (fast forward to about 8:30 minutes into the video and watch the section called "Graphical Timelines").

You can view YouTube videos to create more basic timelines using Excel

and I don't want to forget to Knowledge Quest's  app, which I reviewed a few months ago.  There are a lot of good things about this app, but I'm not wanting to have to bring my laptop and iPad to class, so that is why I'm looking for a different electronic tool.

Finally, some people are successful making timelines with PowerPoint.  I've done only a quick search, but these timelines seem to better for more discrete, shorter timelines.  I'm not sure a 2000 year timeline is going to work on PowerPoint!

What resources have you used to make a timeline?  Have you make a vertical timeline in Excel (I haven't seen this type yet)?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Quantity Time

Levi and I had about 24 hours just the two of us with no car to use and crazy hotness outside.  We spend most of the holed up in the master bedroom (because it has an a/c). 

Besides sleeping (a good 9 hrs. worth for the kiddo), we played games.  LOTS of games.  An extended version of Settlers of Catan on Friday night before watching a  couple Magic School Bus episodes.  Then in the morning, Levi learned to play Mancala (about 10 games worth) and after a game of Chess.  We finished it of with a couple games of 10 Days in Africa. Love that my Levi loves playing games with me.

What games do you enjoy playing with your 8-10 year olds?  We're always on the lookout for more fun games!

Monday, July 22, 2013

{Crew Review} Homeschool Programming = Awesomeness


I’m thinking this is Ben’s favorite review product for the entire decade. Maybe his lifetime.

Homeschool Programming blessed use with a year’s worth of high school (grades 9-12) computer science curriculum:  TeenCoder C# Series, which includes Windows Programming using C# (pronounced ‘C sharp’ for us novices) and Game Programming.

Homeschool Programming graphic

There are several purchasing options.  Each semester-long course can be purchased individually ($75) or with the DVD instructional video ($90),as a year-pack ($130), and finally as a year pack + the DVD instructional videos for $155.  We are reviewing the complete year pack + DVD instructional pack, and I have to say at the outset that for our family, where I am the most knowledgeable about computers (and I have no knowledge of programming), having the DVDs has been a HUGE blessing for us!

TeenCoder C# series teaches beginning students (really, nothing other than basic computer use skills are required) how to use the C# programming language to create a variety of activity projects.  Here is one of the first activities (besides loading the Windows Visual C# Express Software, a free download from Microsoft that is required for the class):


Here are two others that have been Ben’s favorite so far:

Capture5 Capture6

Using C#, Ben programmed the computer to create the text boxes, label them (“My Calculator” for example) and told the computer what to do in the text boxes.  You’ll have to forgive me:  I myself have very limited no programming knowledge (its been nearly 30 years since I learned Basic), so my ability to describe the intricacies of what Ben is learning is very limited.  Truly, when I ask him to explain what he’s doing, I’ve got about a 30 second window before he starts talking in programming code and I cannot understand him.

But fear not!  This curriculum really helps you, the parent, provide your child with 21st century skills.  And, it gives you the tools you will need to assess his/her learning.

solution menu student menu
Solution Menu (for teachers) Student Menu


What you’ll need to get started:  There are some hardware requirements in order to run the programs.  You’ll definitely want to go through these lists to make sure your system is ready:

Computer hardware and software requirements

I found that our desktop (probably 5 years old) had the best processor speed compared with newer laptops, so I chose to install it there.

Once installed, the programs will open from the Windows Program menu (Start > All Programs > TeenCoder).  Ben rarely has to open the Student menu once the textbook was printed.

How we used this:  I’ll admit that I have done very little with this product since it came into our home. But this is a good thing – my son is able to use this course completely independent of me.

I printed out the 250-page student textbook (I highly recommend printing this text and either spiral binding it or putting it in  a 3-ring binder) and chapter tests (16 multiple choice tests in all + a final project). 

But even though I don’t know anything beyond the fact that C# is indeed a computer language, Homeschool Programming has given me tools to assess Ben’s understanding of the material. First, there are chapter tests for each of the 16 chapters. These are ten items multiple choice tests, and I’ve decided to let these be open book for Ben.  

A second evaluation tool you have is the activities – the projects students create to demonstrate C# programming skills.  Most chapters have an activity:  making a box that beeps; making a box that uses a variety of pull down menus, radio buttons, etc. to select items that are put together to tell a one-sentence story; making a code/cipher generating box (see above), a calculator (above), making a to-do list (this is just a sampling of the activities).

The curriculum definitely gives you a guide on how to grade these activities:

  • Have your student build and run the program on a computer. Check to make sure that the program performs all the tasks as outlined in the activity requirements.

  • Have your student turn-in a printed copy of the source code.

  • Check this printed copy for the key elements that are mentioned in the activity solution. Note that all solutions will be slightly different as there are many ways to achieve the same ends through code.

  • Finally, have the student walk through the printed program and the computer program with you. If they can explain how the program works to you, they understand it well enough to have passed the activity.

These suggestions make the program accessible to parents like me and give me the confidence to include such high-tech classes in our home school program.


A screenshot of Ben’s programming worksheet on Visual C# 2010 Express Software

If we were using this during the academic year, I’d really have to set limits on how much Ben plows through this.  The creators suggest completing the semester long course over 3-4 hours a week.  Chapters are broken down into lessons (3-5 per chapter), a review and the activity, in which students use these new concepts to complete a programming activity.  Since it is the summer, Ben is working about 6-8 hours a week on programming – effectively doubling his rate through the course.  I can see light bulbs going off as he is working and can hear the excitement in his voice as he tries to explain all he is learning to me.   Best of all, the course is getting his creative juices flowing – he’s already started working on at least two out-of-class projects – on for Boy Scouts and the other to help him manage his own information.  I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am to see Ben using the computer to create and exercise his mind – rather than just playing game on it.

DVD Instructional Videos. Let me speak briefly about the video component.  Ben didn’t really pull these out for the first few weeks.  But, as the material became a little more difficult, he found that the DVDs provided an alternate way for him to latch on to the concepts of the chapters.  This makes the DVDs invaluable because I  just do not have people to turn to who know this type of information.  In this house, the DVDs are absolutely required.

Please click here to watch a sample from the DVD. You’ll notice at the end that the narrator says to go back and read the lesson. That is because the DVD provides supplemental information that is not written in the book.  You do not have to have the DVD to complete the course, but you will have to read the textbook to complete the course. 

Semester 2 – Gaming. Ben and I are both really looking forward to the game programming course.  With just the addition of another piece of software (Microsoft XNA Game Studio 4.0), students will create game programs that will be able to run on Windows and XBox. I’m amazed at all that is taught in this course: game animation, detecting collisions, game physics,  multiple viewpoints, multi-player games, artificial intelligence.  I doubt Ben will take for granted the complexity of any of his current computer, Wii, and Nintendo games again.

Here’s a few screen shots of the game programs students will build over the course of the semester:


For Samples: 

My recommendations & thoughts: We are so blessed to have this product, and we will definitely be adding more of these courses to our wish lists.  Providing computer skills beyond the basics is important to us as a family – probably because Dave and I have none of these talents of skills.  I think these courses, with the DVD component, provide excellent instruction and inspiration for high school students. Thus far, I have no complaints or concerns about these courses.  They exceed my expectation for a computer course for Ben.

I want to mention that Homeschool Programming provided their KidCoder Series to other Schoolhouse Review members: KidCoder Visual Basic Series, and KidCoder Web Series. So, if you are not yet thinking of high school, but wondering what to get the younger crowd…

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Standardized Tests in the Homeschool - What's With The Numbers?

A while back, I wrote a blog article about homeschool and standardized testing.  I explained some of the reasons why people use standardized testing.  I'm all about everyone having the freedom to use whatever evaluating method they choose to assess their students' progress during the year.  I tend to think that a portfolio review is more authentic -- it can capture progress over time. You can gather samples of the BEST your student has to offer as well as showing their AVERAGE or WORST -- because we all know that learning is a process fraught with steps forward and behind. 

But, there is something that just satisfies the curiosity of a homeschooling mama {or at least this homeschooling mama} and I just need a little, teeny peek at how my kids are doing compared with their same-grade peers.

photo credit: (C) Shannan Muskopf  (Flickr)

Which leads me to this post -- it is all about what the numbers mean.

So you get this nice letter back from Testing Service USA {totally made that up, and not intending to represent a real company}, you open it, look for the composite score, and -- phew! -- your student did fine.  Or not.  And you are worried.  What do all the numbers mean, anyhow?  How can you use this to help your son or daughter?  Did you just waste $20-$40?

A. Percentiles.  This is not the same as percent.  I love the example given in my BJU Press "Guidelines for Test Interpretation" flyer that says something to the effect of a 55% on a test is a failing grade, but a subtest score at the 55%ile will show a student performing in the average range.  Big difference between percent and percentile.

The highest percentile score possible is 99.  The lowest is, well, 1.  Think of it this way:  there are 100 same-grade level students in a room.  A percentile will show you how many students your son/ daughter did better than.  So if your student scores at the 60%ile, that means that your son/daughter did better than 60% of students in his grade.  He also did worse than 40% {this would be the 'glass-half-empty' point of view}.

Who are these 100 students?  They are the norming sample.  What is that? you ask.  I found this concise explanation here at written by L.G. Cohen and L.J. Spenciner:

A norm-referenced test is a standardized test that compares a student's test performance with that of a sample of similar students who have taken the same test. After constructing a test, the test developers administer it to a standardization sample of students using the same administration and scoring procedures for all students. This makes the administration and scoring "standardized." [emphasis added]The test scores of the standardization sample are called norms, which include a variety of types of scores. Norms are the scores obtained by the standardization sample and are the scores to which students are compared when they are administered a test.
So, the norming sample is a group of same-grade boys and girls at roughly that have been given this test at roughly the same time of year that you are administering it.  I've actually helped out by giving new speech and language tests to typically developing students before.  It can take 6-12 months for a new norm-referenced tests to be administered to typically developing students (which is usually judged by the fact that they do not have an IEP in school).

One thing you might notice when ordering a standardized test is that you have to chose a "fall" or "spring" grade level.  Obviously, if you gave a 4th grade test in the spring, students would perform much better on 4th grade material than at the beginning of the academic year.  

Notice that the phrase "Standardized Test" has to do with the way it is administered.  If you chose, say, to read aloud the reading comprehension portion of the standardized test -- well, your student's results will really have nothing to do with reading.  You've changed that subtest from a reading test to an auditory or listening comprehension test.  Your results will be meaningless numbers on the page.  I have had many, many conversations with home school mamas who wanted to read the reading comprehension subtests to their students.  They are not trying to cheat the system, but just unaware of how that changes the entire test and results.

A similar conversations I've had with moms is about timed tests.  Again, for your test to really mean anything, you must follow the directions and watch the time limits.  Otherwise, your results are really going to over-estimate your child's ability.  Some mamas have said to me, "but I don't want to test him with the stress of time" or "I just want to see how well he'd do without time limits."  If that is the case, don't use a test that has a timelimit.  I'd like to suggest using the Stanford Achievement Test (available at BJU Press), which has suggested time limits for each subtest -- but they are suggested.  I used this test when Luke was a 2nd grader and was slow to read and process reading information.

B. The one part of the test that I always see mamas chests get puffed up about is the grade-equivalence.  Yes, there is something satisfying by seeing your 6th grader receiving a PHS (post high school) age-equivalene on science or reading or math.  But we have to think more carefully about what this means.

An age-quivalent score relates more to your child's raw score (this is the number of questions on a subtest or test that your child answered correctly) than to any of the statistical standardized scores.  Again, I'm going to quote from BJU Press' brochure:

"Grade equivalents are not indicators of grade placement.  They are only estimates of  students standing in a continuum of learning.  In our example, Sally's GE of 4.7 does not mean that she is ready for fourth-grade material because she was not tested on fourth-grade material.  It means only that she has a thorough mastery of the material covered on a second grade test."

Here's another great explanation of grade-equivalent scores that I found at Cobb County, GA School District:

The Grade-Equivalent score compares your child’s performance on grade-level material against the average performance of students at other grade levels on the same material and is reported in terms of grade level and months. If your 5th grade child obtains a grade-quivalent of 10.5 on a standardized math or reading test, it does not mean that your child is solving math problems or reading at the mid-1oth grade level. It means that she or he can solve 5th grade math problems and read 5th grade material as well as the average 10th grade student can read and solve 5th grade math problems. Your child is performing much better than the average 5th grader but most likely would not perform as well if tested using 10th grade material as they have not yet been exposed to 10th grade material...

Although I hesitate to beat this issue into the ground, imagine one hundred 10th graders taking your child's 4th grade ITBS or CAT or Stanford achievement test.  If your child scores a grade equivalent of 10.4 (the decimal is the number of months in a school year) in reading, this score is telling you that your child is answering a similar number of problems correctly as the average of the students in the 10 grade, 4th month taking this test.  Has your child mastered the 4th grade material?  More than likely, yes.  Can he do algebra or geometry or chemistry like a 10th grader?  Well, the test you just administered won't be able to tell you;  it wasn't designed to assess if your child knows 10th grade subjects -- only 4th grade. You would need to administer a 10th grade test to your 4th grader to assess his/her mastery of 10th grade material like chemistry and geometry.

C.  The last set of standardized scores I want to go over is Stanines.  Professionally, I rarely used them, but they were often included as a possible way to look at test scores. Stanine scores group students at a particular grade into 9 groups.


You can see on this graph above that stanines are more of a range of scores than a precise score.  Considering any number of issues might affect your students' performance (was it too hot in the room?  Was s/he hungry?  tired?  cold?  feeling stress?  bored?), a stanine might be a better way of assessing performance - because we all have good and bad days.

If you are interested in reading more about standardized assessment scores, I've found several additional resources you might consider reading:

There are many other articles out there.  I hope this has helped you to understand more about your students results.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

{Crew Review} Picaboo Yearbooks– Do Something with Your Pictures!

Crewmates and I were sent coupon codes from Picaboo Yearbooks for a free 20 Page Softcover Yearbook ($8.49 + $10.99, but it seems that shipping charges have gone down.  Check here), and I am so happy to finally have a nice record of our mega-vacation to Colorado last year!

Yes, I used Picaboo Yearbooks for a special event scrapbook project – and it worked out SO nicely. Here’s a picture of the cover of our vacation book:


Fortunately, I had used some birthday money to purchase a high resolution camera for this trip, and I wasn’t disappointed at all with the pictures.  There were a few pics that I had taken with my iPhone that weren’t as high a resolution as I needed for the scrapbook, and Picaboo did a great job alerting me to that problem so that I could choose a different picture if I wanted.

Below is one of the double spreads that I made.  Can you see a QR code on the Sand Dunes page, in the lower left corner (circled in red)?  Picaboo let me create a QR (quick read) code that takes me anywhere I want on the web.  This particular code takes me to a great YouTube video tour of Great Sand Dunes NP, which was one of the boys’ favorite places on our trip.  I created another one to take me to a YouTube videos I uploaded to my YouTube account of Dave and Ben at one of our attractions.  With a smart phone, I can capture the QR code and watch the videos right away.

I loved the freedom that Picaboo built into their layouts.  The fishing page on the left was totally my layout design, but the one on the right was from a template.  Once I uploaded my pictures and saw how many shots I wanted to use on the page, I just selected a layout specifically for 3 pictures and dragged the photos into their spots.  Even with these layout templates, they are 100% customizable.  I was still able to move and tilt the pictures to personalize the page (and the textboxes move around, too).

How to use the program: After you create a user account, you begin dividing your book into sections:
page two of picaboo clunkiness

You have to designate how many pages you want in each section.  I guessed at this and ended up having to go in and change my allocations a bit;  changing the pages per section was a little hard to do, but there were plenty of tutorials to help me through each step.

After setting up all my sections, I loaded my pictures.  You can bulk upload pictures, but it did take some time for them to all transfer – so go have a snack or help someone with math while they are uploading. Once they are loaded, though, you can easily select the pictures you’d like to go into each section.  The screen shot below shows a highlighted section with the pictures I’ve assigned to it:

Picaboo add pictures - clunk to move back to section you were working on.
For me, the hardest part was using the textboxes.  I found that I really had to magnify my workspace so that I could see what I was typing.  Even going back to proofread my textboxes was hard because I needed to enlarge it so much.

Here’s a screen shot from a few pages I was laying out (click to read):


Once all your pages are done, you have to "lock” the pages – which means you have to proofread and accept each section as being complete (kind of like what the executive editor of a yearbook would have to do).  I really should have let Ben be my proofreader on this project.  Oy, I had quite a few typos.  In one, I didn’t realize that a text box was partially under a picture – oops.  Here’s the sections with all but two locked:


Once your proofing and approving is done, you are ready to purchase.  Including shipping (which I thought was pretty expensive -- more than the book itself! -- before I saw that shipping charges have gone down,  it works out to about $20 for a 20 page book (additional pages are only 22¢).  Not too bad these days, especially for digital scrapbooking.

One feature that I think is really neat is that I received a digital copy of our book even before the product was shipped.  I loaded it on my computer  (an iPad)and was able to share the memories of our great vacation with the boys right away.  You get one digital copy of the book for each physical copy you order.

PicMonkey Collage

My recommendations & thoughts: I really enjoyed this product and hope to do more in the future.  Some of the software was a little clunky to use, but I got used to it pretty fast.  I’ve used several digital scrapbooking interfaces and have yet to find one that works exactly the way I want one to.  I suspect I’d have to design it myself so that it would work the way my brain works.
I would love to start a Picaboo yearbook in August/ September and finish it month by month as the year progresses.  Hmmm….maybe with Ben’s freshman year coming up, I might actually do that! 

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew
All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

{Crew Review} A Resource for Engaging in Meaningful Conversations with Your Teen: 25 Truths


Ed Douglas Publications has put together a great book for tweens and teens to discuss with their parents.  Called 25 Truths ($12.50), Mr. Douglas has captured the essence of living out a Christian life in attitudes and principles that I know my husband and I pray to see in our children.

Who is Ed Douglas? Mr. Douglas is a retired businessman who has successfully led seminars helping people with their personal finances.  Having accepted Christ as a young man, Mr. Douglas became aware of some life principles he had been following and had led to success.  Over the years he shared them with a high school tennis team he coached as well as his own children and grandchildren.  You can read more about Ed Douglas at his 25 Truths website.

What I received for this review. This is a small 5 x 7 or so sized book with 149 pages.  Each truth is a short essay, maybe 3-4 pages with questions afterwards for discussion.  I think you’ll see the Biblical principles woven throughout the truths:

Protect Your Reputation
Don't be Lewd, Crude or Rude
Watch What You Say, Do and Write
Be Slow to Judge
Tell the Truth
Don't Talk Negatively About Others
Don't Hate - Instead, Forgive
Be Quick to Apologize
Remember, Little Things can Make a Big Difference
Utilize Compound Interest: The Eighth Wonder of the World
Take it One Step at a Time
Learn What Brings True Happiness
Make Every Day Your Best Day
See the Glass as Half Full
Never Surrender
Practice- It Makes Perfect
Play to Win
Set Goals and Write them Down
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Make a Difference in the World
Get as Much Education as Possible
Give and it will Come Back to You
You've Gotta Believe
Commit to Love One Person Forever
Spend Time with Your Family

Plus One: All You Need is Love

You’ll notice there are actually 26 truths – the “Plus One” explains that through Jesus’ unconditional love and sacrifice, we can achieve much:

“Nothing a person accomplishes, or does or says matters the least without love.  God is love and it is the culmination and completion of everything we are we do or we say.  Practice the other 25 Truths with love or they won’t work.” (p. 148)  


How We Used This: What a great little book this is! I handed this book off to an enthusiastic Ben, who eagerly read through it during the review period.  Then, we would discuss some of his favorite Truths. 

After each essay, a general ‘warm up’ question is asked: “Do you think this is an important truth?  Why or Why not?” The remaining questions – usually just four or five – are meant to get the student thinking about themselves, others around them, and consequences of actions and beliefs.  Here’s examples pulled from several different Truths:

  • Think about the most educated person you know.  Would their life be any different if they had less education?  How?
  • If you get disappointed when you lose, even if you do your best, what do you think you can do to change your attitude? Do you think this would make your competitions more fun?  Why or why not?
  • Think about the last time someone did something for you.  What did that person receive in return? Do you think they are glad they helped you out?

I was curious to see which Truths Ben deemed of value – so I let him lead discussions on Truths that meant something to him.  Wow, what a great way to learn about your teen son and what is important to him.  One of the Truths he found important – “Get as Much Education as Possible” – really surprised me.

I’m planning on walking through this book a bit slower with Ben in the fall – and having him cross reference the Truths with God’s Word.  I want Ben to search for scriptures that will support or refute the author’s claim that these are Truths that are Biblical.  I want him to develop discernment with “self-help” information and always turn to the Bible for ultimate advice and affirmation.

My only complaint with the book is that many of the questions are written as yes/ no questions.  True, there is always a follow up, “why?” question, but I like to ask open ended questions from the get-go;  it helps to build conversations with my guys. 

25 truths


My recommendations & thoughts:  I think this is a great book for starting conversations with teens.  The essays are short enough that they can be read and used to start meaningful conversations with your own kids, small groups or even in a Sunday School.  God is mentioned throughout the book (an Bible quotes from the Old and New Testament are quoted at the beginning of many of the chapters), so consider that when you are planning who you will use with.

Click to read more reviews about 25 Truths from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

For Sale–Part II


Here’s some more things that I’m culling out of our homeschool room:


DSCN2356 Maestro Classics – Peter and the Wolf $8.00 ppd
DSCN2357 Maestro Classics - Swan Lake $8.00 ppd

If you’d like both of these CDs, they can be purchased for $14 ppd
DSCN2358 Excellent used condition $6.00  ppd
DSCN2359 A Faith to Grow On.  $5.00 ppd
DSCN2360 Sonlight’s General Science Plus schedule.  Lightly used with occasional pencil checkmarks.  $5.00 ppd
DSCN2361 Math U See decimal and algebra inserts.  $10 + shipping
DSCN2362 Set of Math U See blocks. This would be a great completer set.  Includes: 4 of each number block except 6s and 4s (3 each of those) + 19 1s, and 20 10s.  Asking $12.00 + shipping
DSCN2363 Sonlight’s Science DVD – good for Science B.  $5.50 ppd
DSCN2364 From Trigger Memory Systems – a chore/ cleaning system for kids.  Originally $20.00.  Asking $12.00 ppd
DSCN2365 A Little Book of Manners for Boys.  $5.00ppd
DSCN2368 Evan-Moor Daily Paragraph Editing, grade 5 – $7.00 ppd
Some pages have been carefully ripped from the book, but they are all there, unused.

All of these include media mail postage (except where noted).  Please email me at alane at iname dot com if you are interested in any of these!

Friday, July 12, 2013

God Spotting: Caring for our Home

God has really been stretching our faith as Dave has embarked on self-employment.  I'm not going to lie and say we I've been joyfully following along.  Sometimes I cry, ask why, and really wrestle with God.  Still, as I sit here hot and tired from my latest project, I can see God's faithfulness.

We have lived in our house for over six years.  Our yard is just a mess, and each year we lament the condition of the grass.  Memorial Day weekend, Dave and I finally did something about it -- we overseeded.  Why did it take us so long to do this? We ask ourselves this all the time.

Here's a before:

And here's an after:

There are still many things we want to do in the front and back yard, but it has been encouraging for Dave to drive up to his house (aka his home office) and see green grass, not bare spots.

Today, a friend offered us a huge bunch of hostas!  What a blessing.  You can see on the left side of the house, there is not much there.  Early in the spring a friend gave us three cutting from a rosa rugosa.  Only one has taken at this point, so I ran out this afternoon to dig up her hostas, then raced home to plant them in the bare side.

I'm so excited and blessed that God met a very superficial need for us - but very tangible.  It is just proof to me that he knows where I am -- that I am working on relying on him, working on surrender, working on obedience.

Grateful that following Jesus is a process.