Friday, May 30, 2014

Disorganized Student? Here's Help! {A Review}


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I’m not exactly sure how I found the Leslie Josel’s website Order Out of Chaos, but it was probably in a moment of desperation.  I must’ve googled, “I need an assignment book that will help my disorganized son before I go crazy.” Or something like that.

I know it was a good thing that I did.  We used her student planner (which is practically perfect for home schoolers, if you ask me) this past year and I’ve already pre-ordered planners for each of my sons for the fall. Yes, I love them that much.

When I received her email announcing a new DVD that she’d put out, It’s 10:00PM: Don’t You Have Homework to Do? Organizing and Time Management Strategies for Academic Success 2014 Edition ($25.00) the recess of my mind said, “You’ve got disorganized boys.  You might need this.”  So I contacted Leslie and offered to review it for her.  I’m so, so glad I did!
It’s 10:00PM: Don’t You Have Homework to Do?  Organizing and Time Management Strategies for Academic Success 2014 Edition DVD - NEW UPDATED VERSION
The DVD, which records Leslie’s energetic seminar given in front of a live audience (of parents and teachers), is an hour long and includes great tips, insights, strategies and resources to help your students stay more organized.

There are two aspects of the DVD that I want to share with you:  the content of the DVD as well as the production value of the DVD.

The DVD covers the following topics:
  • What is Executive Functioning?
  • Organization products (Leslie’s favorite resource are listed on her website, but she explains how to use them and why they work in the DVD)
  • Tips on how to get homework done in a fun way (great for middle schoolers!)
  • Motivational tips
Leslie does a great job of explaining executive function.  These are skills that many teens and young adults really struggle with (even I do sometimes!).  These tasks include activation, focusing and effort.  These three skills help students (well, all of us, really) recognize when we need to get going on a project, sustain our attention appropriately on the target and not giving up (sustaining attention).  Leslie also discussed emotion/ mood regulation, memory and impulsivity.  I furiously scribbled down her suggestions on ways to ask questions and guide my kids to help them focus and attend to whatever is at hand.  She really has answers and techniques for most situations – including the frustrating answer, “I don’t know.” 

Organization – specifically for school/ homework – was the next part of her lecture.  She demonstrated some interesting organizational tools (zippered binders, clear plastic sleeves for grouping items for a single subject) and made a point to explain that we really need to do a better job of teaching organizational and study skills to our students.  At some point, my children will be on their own, and I hope that leave the house knowing how to organize a project (where it is a home improvement task, cooking task or a report for work) and themselves for success.

Backed up by research, Leslie next moved into suggestions on how teens process and attend to information to complete homework – well, that would be regular schoolwork for a home educating family. Smile   I really scribbled a lot of helpful suggestions that I know I will implement in the fall – such as the “Hide the homework” game (Luke, my 11 year old, will love this) – which I will have to rename the “Search for Schoolwork” game. I also love the idea that Leslie had for those students who ‘need’ to work with music. 

Let me say that I took 2 1/2 pages of notes from this lecture!  My husband was sitting nearby and overheard portions of the DVD.  He listened with interest and agreed with me that Leslie shared some great tips that could help more than one of our children!

I think this DVD would offer many helpful suggestions for those homeschooling (and non-homeschooling) families who struggle to find creative tools and suggestions to help their kids stay on top of work.  If your child has ADD or ADHD tendencies, I would definitely recommend this DVD if organization is a huge issue for you.

As far as the production value, the DVD records Leslie presenting to a group of people.  Very rarely was the sound quality poor, but I did have some trouble seeing a few of the slides (I was able to figure out what they said, however, as she talked).  I appreciated hearing Leslie answer questions from the audience (though I could not always hear the question).  Overall, the amount of information I learned from the DVD far outweighed any minor audio issues.

Leslie has a monthly newsletter you can sign up for here:
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Don’t forget to check out here student planners, too!
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Note:  I received a free copy of this DVD from the vendor in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.  This disclaimer is written in compliance with FCC regulations.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

{Not So} Wordless Wednesday

 

Our little family of five + dog enjoyed a weekend of re-connecting with one another and building memories.  It has been two years since we were able to really vacation (hard to believe  our Colorado trip was that long ago) because of being self employed/ having no money/ having no vacation time.  I was up for practically anything – even staying at a hotel for a couple nights, just to get out of the house, be in a new place, and have some quality time together to build memories. 

Then genius struck.

We ended up in a simple camping cabin about two hours away in the heart of the mountains.  It was wonderful.  About 8 bundles of wood, two pancake breakfasts, a Chinese dinner and movie later, we arrived home with some laughs, memories, and good times:

Memorial Day Camping Trip

Priceless weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

{Crew Review} Apologia’s “What On Earth Can I Do?”

 

What is worldview?  Can you easily define it?

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Can your children understand that the Bible, God’s inspired word, gives us a blueprint that we can use to view all that is happening around us at any given moment? This is a Christian worldview.

The fourth in a series of books from Apologia Educational Ministries, the What on Earth Can I Do? Bible curriculum helps parents and students understand essential truths of the Christian faith.  What on Earth Can I Do? presents a Biblical understanding of Stewardship.

We received copies of the entire kit:

What on Earth Can I Do? ($39.00, hardback book – Book Sample, Table of Contents, Series FAQs)
What On Earth Can I Do? Notebooking Journal ($24.00, coil bound)
What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal ($24.00, coil bound)
What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book ($8.00, softcover)

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Apologia suggests the age range for this product as being grades 1-6 (ages 6-14).  I actually think the read aloud component can be used with a much wider age range, especially if your teens like being read to, and/or have never done a worldview study, and/or if you have them do the read aloud (one of those tricky homeschool mom techniques we have!). And, this would make a great family devotion program to walk through (I’m going to propose that to my husband for the summer).

Chapters/ Lessons are titled:

    1. Your Story or God’s Story?
    2. Who Put You In Charge?
    3. Will You Be Found faithful?
    4. Where is Your Treasure?
    5. Where Does Your Time Go?
    6. Whose Life Is It Anyway?
    7. Why Isn’t It Easy Being Green?
    8. What will Happen When the Master Returns?

The lessons themselves (in the hardback book) was much longer than I anticipated. Each lesson has multiple stories, biographies, and essays. The basic structure of each lesson includes:

  • a short Big Idea and What You Will Do summary of the lesson and goals;
  • a fictional Short Story that helps children see the character trait in action.  The first half of the book uses World War II Britain as a setting to demonstrate stewardship while the second half introduces us to two children who live in the Serengeti. The short stories are followed by Think About It questions
  • Vocabulary is introduced (Words You Need to Know) and a Bible verse for memorization is included (Hide It In Your Heart).
  • There are many side-bar type stories (Integrated Learning) that are related to the main goal of the lesson, but by use of biographies and additional stories from history or literature or missions. 
  • What Should I Do? section asks students to consider how to apply the character trait, followed by a Prayer section.  Finally, the Parables of Jesus section takes a creative approach to retelling some of the best loved stories Jesus told and expanding on them – giving characters names and situations that, while extra-Biblical, do not detract from Jesus’ message but instead flesh out the story.  {My boys have loved these retellings.} The parables end with a Dig Deeper section in which the boys and I discussed the answers to questions about the parable.

…And all that is just in the hardback book! 

The workbooks provide an opportunity for students to journal (with words or pictures) about some of the ideas and concepts in the book.  There are additional coloring pages, prayer pages, word puzzles, a few mini-books to make.  Basically, it is meant to be a place to write down what you are learning about God in each of the lessons.

Since Levi’s Jr. Notebooking Journal had more coloring pages than Luke’s, we often pulled out the Coloring Book and found a similar picture for Luke to color while I read.

How We Used This: Although the What on Earth Can I Do? hardback book does have a general schedule (you can view it in the Book Sample that opens a generous 41-page PDF sample), the boys and I preferred the schedule that was in their notebooking journals.  There are some slight differences between the pacing/ assignments in the regular journal (geared to upper elementary students and good readers) compared with the Jr. Notebooking journal (I would suggest this for grades 1-3) so we generally followed the Jr. Notebooking schedule.  This means that it takes just about 2 weeks to get through each lesson. I modified the schedule a bit to meet the demands of a very crazy month by aiming to work through each lesson 2-3 times per week, which would take us about half a school year to make it through the entire book.

Since our CC school year was over, we used this a a primary part of our school day – especially since there are so any connections with history, literature and art in it.  As I looked through the notebooking journal, you can find additional resources to beef up each lesson, and (I’m not kidding) I think you could use this as a comprehensive “spine” to your homeschool, especially if you are a person who is not freaking out or worried about aligning your school curriculum choices to what might be going on in typical public or private school.

The boys absolutely LOVED this program.  I felt a little overwhelmed by all the different types of readings that I was doing in the book (see my description above), but it didn’t seem to phase the boys at all, so I decided to just go with it. Obviously, breaking up the lessons into daily bites across 2-3 weeks helps!  On a daily basis, we would usually read for 30 or so minutes, followed by working through their journals.  Often, they colored while I read, and eagerly worked on their word searches or mini-books or copywork (Bible memory verses):

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I will admit that we got a little lost at first about what to do on some of the workbook pages.  I guess I was thinking directions would be more concrete and the pages would be more teacher-led.  But, this is different.  Your students will need to think about the material and – at a level appropriate to their age/ understanding – interact with it.  This is where I need to just take a chill-pill and watch my boys digest God’s Word.  What does it mean to them that God owns everything?

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My recommendations & thoughts:  Overall, I really like this program.  I love being able to walk my sons through a program that has a purpose of grounding them in a Biblical worldview.  If we were in the right season of our homeschool, I would consider using this as a prime feature of our program, along with the basics of the 3 R’s. {I’m not much of one to worry about keeping up with public or private school scope and sequences.} 

For anyone who is worried about jumping into Apologia’s worldview program in the middle of their 4 year program, I do want to encourage you that it is possible.  We’ve never had the opportunity to review the previous books before, but I do not feel like we are missing anything from the previous books.  I know that God can use this book to meet us where we are right now and that we can be blessed by this resources in our walk.

Connect with Apologia:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

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Monday, May 26, 2014

May – A Month in Pictures

 

May is my most favorite month, but it has also become the most crazy month!

Classical Conversations year end program:

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Mock Trial

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Band Concert

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I really scored (not) on picture taking at Luke’s last elementary band concert.  That’s him with the sheet music in front of his face…
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…And here he is getting the music arranged and his trumpet out…

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…And finally he is playing!  It is definitely a bummer that he is in the back row – there are about 20 or so trumpeters in this band and he is in the back row.

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Play!

Pride and Prejudice

Ben is the handsome gentlemen Mr. Phillips on the far left.

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Half Marathon to manage with hubby

 

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We were blessed beyond measure with great people, a great after-party, and great family to enjoy the day with. 

Mother’s Day

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{technically, this isn’t a picture from Mother’s Day, but my mom and dad were here for Mother’s Day, so this is what I’m posting.} All of the above events happened within five days of one another.  It was really the craziest May I’ve ever had!

I don’t remember where I took this photo with Ben, but he and I are both smiling simultaneously, so it is a keeper:

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We didn’t have much of a breather, because two days after Mother’s Day, the boys and I spent 3 days at a local Classical Conversations Practicum.  I cannot believe that just a few days after practicum, I celebrated a birthday.  I made and forced the boys to take the day off of work and go see a movie with me:

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My creative son Levi made me an origami box (with flowers on top) and an origami turtle on the inside:

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All his idea.  Dave can now do origami, too (Dave was Levi’s assistant).

and we began year end testing for 9th and 5th grade (Levi did his testing before all the craziness began at the beginning of May).

To recover from all the blessings and busyness, we spent Memorial Day Weekend rejuvenating as a family, laughing, and burning lots of fires at a local campground.  I also did a lot of this:

Memorial Day Camping Trip

and this:

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and there was a lot of this:

Memorial Day Camping Trip

and this:

Memorial Day Camping Trip

all taking place here:

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and none of us complained!

Sometimes, sitting around a fire ring for three days is Good Medicine.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Micro-Business For Teens {Crew Review}

 

The self-employment bug has hit our household.  Hard.

I knew without a doubt that Ben would love to review a set of books from Micro Business for TeensSince giving up his paper route a year ago, he has been trying to get his own business off the ground.  This set of books from Micro Business for Teens has really inspired Ben to make some deliberate steps forward in his plan for independent wealth (*grin*).

The books we received are called:

Starting a Micro Business ($9.95 for book)
Running a Micro Business ($9.95 for book)
Micro Business for Teens Workbook ($14.95 for book)

The books themselves provide practical, step by step suggestions and guidance as your teen (the books are ideal for ages 10-18 according to the publisher) goes through the process of developing a micro business.  The workbook provides a written place where students can document their brainstorming, research results and plans.

The program was written by CPA Carol Topp.  She has advised plenty of successful teen business owners.

 

Topics in Starting a Micro Business:

  1. What is a Micro Business?
  2. Getting an Idea: A Collection of Micro Business Ideas Best for Teenagers
  3. Problems and Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
  4. Plan It First: Writing a Business Plan
  5. Financing Your Business Without Breaking the Bank
  6. Taking Care of Business: Extra Information to Get You Started
  7. Encouragement: Final Words to Motivate You

Topics in Running a Micro Business:

  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Customer Service
  4. Record Keeping
  5. Bookkeeping Basics
  6. Using Software
  7. Legal Names and Numbers
  8. Reducing Risk
  9. Time Management

The Micro Business for Teens Workbook allots a chapter of work for the chapters from each books.  Workbook pages have fill-in-the-blank and short answer responses to help students review important information from the texts.  They also provide templates for students to use to brainstorm ideas and develop skills (such as some basic accounting) necessary for business success.

How We Used This:  This was one of those products that I handed to Ben and watched him progress through it.  My expectation was to do a chapter of reading and the corresponding workbook pages at least on a weekly basis. This fit easily into our rather heavy workload of as spring classes came to an end and final projects (the play!) were completed. The chapters aren’t overly long and are written to students who have no experience in business at all. As a matter of fact, the chapter on “Legal Names and Numbers” is something that I need to read on my own so that I have a better understanding of our own small business!  Some of the workbook, as I mentioned, will require students to brainstorm and/or do some research and reading online, so having an internet connection will be important for this course. 

You can get a sample syllabus here if you want to teach this in a co-op setting  or if you’d like a systematic way to walk through this program with your teen.  With the addition of a free teacher’s guide (you’ll need to subscribe to the email list, and it will be sent to you), which has discussion questions as well as some additional assignments (such as reading articles about business, partnerships, teen entrepreneurs, etc.), I think this course could merit a 1/2 credit elective of high school business.

By using this product, Ben has definitely worked through the process of thinking about what business he wants to start (he’s had ideas about several), and has gone through some beginning steps to begin to raise capital (he set up a PayPal account as well as an EBay account) to begin his business. The little bugger skipped over the section about writing a business plan, but he’ll go back and work on it! By the way, I LOVE that she includes a complete business description, marketing plan and detailed financial plan. He is definitely excited to start, but I’ll admit:  I am wanting him to go through this with “eyes wide open” – which for my husband and I means that Ben works through the books and workbooks completely.    

My recommendations & thoughts: I really love this course and Ben really enjoys it as well.  It is stretching him to think a bit more out-of-the-box than he is used to (he can be a bit linear, like his mom) to brainstorm and investigate skills and interests and how he might use them to generate income.  I have found the books to be easy to read and the workbook content to be straightforward and goal- directed;  there isn’t any busy work of fluff in the assignments. 

I’m looking forward to Ben completing the entire course and experimenting with his business ideas. Who knows where it will take him.

Connect with Micro Business for Teens: :
https://www.facebook.com/MicroBusinessForTeens
https://twitter.com/CarolTopp
http://www.pinterest.com/caroltopp/

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Trident Kraken A.M.S. iPad Case {Crew Review}

 

catpure trident

Trident Case sent me their iPad case, the  Kraken A.M.S. Case for Apple iPad 2/3/4 ($69.95)This is a super heavy-duty case that is designed to be military-grade with an inner silicone shell (which comes in eight colors) and a heavy duty polycarbonate shell (black).

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I was very excited to have a solid case with a built in screen protector --  much better than the adhesive plastic screen saver that has been on it.  I also loved the idea of dust filters, and rain/ water protection. I had high hopes for this product. The boys and I really enjoyed watching some of the tests that the Kraken case has been put through by Trident’s test team:

Certainly, if it is strong enough for a baseball bat, my three boys and I should be pretty tame testers!

How This Product Worked for Us:  I was so excited, I honestly did not read any directions or look at the little instruction booklet to learn how to put it on (the direction booklet was one of those multi-lingual, picture-only guides). 

2014-04-22 14.58.55Just out of the shipping box, I can tell that it will be very helpful to look for red as we hunt down the well used iPad throughout the house (boys in the house have a tendency to leave it on the counter, couch, floor, etc.)


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After removing the case from the plastic box, I easily figured out how to take apart the hard, black plastic top and bottom (exoskeleton).  Here, you can see the black frame that is the screen protector and facing of the case.  The red silicone becomes a frame that provides shock absorption and covers the edge of the entire iPad as well as the entire back of the iPad (minus a cut out for the Apple symbol). The corners have double layer of silicone for extra shock absorption.


2014-04-22 15.04.18It was very easy to fit the red silicone around the iPad.  The silicone covers the home button as well as covering the outlets for earphones, slide buttons and the charging cable.  Once the exoskeleton is on, these silicone covers provide very snug protection. 

Here is the cover for the side slide button (we use it for turning the volume to mute):

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And here is the cover for the headphones:
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After fitting the red silicone, the front cover is placed over the screen. A piece of advice:  make sure you clean your screen well before clicking the black frame.

In the picture below, you can see two small red holes.  This is how the front will clip into the back.  When I took this picture, I didn’t realize that the top/ screen frame needed to be placed on first, and that the back piece is the last to clip in.

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Here is a picture of the final clips, with the case securely protecting the iPad:

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I had been really, really pleased with this product…until I went to write this review just a few days ago.  While removing the exoskeleton, I noticed a small corner of the black frame had chipped off!

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I will not lie to you:  I was very disappointed to see this.  The iPad has made about five car trips, but has never been dropped further than 2 feet off the ground.  Even those drops (which number no more than a dozen) have all landed on a well carpeted floor.  The case has been removed twice since I first put it on.  Really, you should be able to remove the case, clean a few errant hairs or dust particles off the screen, put the case back on and not have the polycarbonate ship off in a corner.

I mean, we didn’t take it off with a baseball bat!

I contacted Trident right away.  Since the Kraken A.M.S. has a one-year warranty, they quickly shipped out a replacement to me.  Should be here within a week of filing the complaint.  I would say that their customer service was very responsive!

In other news…..we have had smooth sailing in access all the ports and buttons and function on our iPad with this case.  The screen cover is very responsive to our finger swipes and pointing, and I’ve had no trouble accessing volume controls or anything else for that matter.  I’m really happy with the double layer of silicone at the corners, which I know has saved us some bumps.  The case does add some weight and bulk to the iPad, but I think it is worth added weight to protect the investment.

We did purchase the accessory stand for the Kraken A.M.S., which allows us to prop up the ipad on a table. This wasn’t required for the review, but I knew it would be very helpful for the many ways we use our iPad in the home and in school.

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My recommendations & thoughts:  In the long run, I’d rather have a $70 iPad case crack than a $400+ iPad crack.  So,\the Kraken A.M.S. iPad case is doing its job.  But at the same time, I’d really rather not have to worry that the case cracked within a month of owning it.  I’m grateful for good customer service, but you can bet that I’ll be back in 6 or so months to let you know how the Kraken A.M.S. holds up over a longer period of time. 

In all, I would recommend this product.  While it may be baseball bat-proof, it apparently is not Reaping-A-Harvest-proof, so I would recommend you continue to treat your iPad with much care even when using this exoskeleton product

Connect with Trident Case:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tridentcase
Instagram – http://instagram.com/tridentcase#
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/tridentcase
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/+tridentcase
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/tridentcase
Vine - https://vine.co/Trident.Case
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/TridentCase

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

{Crew Review} US History by Amy Puetz

 

Hi, my name is Alane, and I am a curriculum junkie.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with some amazing programs – and I consider one of the best to be Amy Puetz’s (pronounced ‘Pitts’) Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum ($98.99) from her publishing company Golden Prairie Press.

This is a comprehensive history curriculum – which includes timeline work, geography, and some literature – is appropriate for all elementary grades 1 through 6.  In addition to the traditional elements that I mentioned above, Amy has included some amazing extras that can really help your children understand cultural elements of the time periods. 

The following six downloadable products are included in the Heroes & Heroines package (click on links below to see samples).  They easily unzip after downloading and will require a PDF viewer as well as a media player for the audio clips. 

  1. American History eBook Part 1 (Period of Discovery through Andrew Jackson Administration – click on link to see table of contents for part 1)
  2. American History eBook Part 2 (1837 to Present) – These two eBooks provide the meet of the program.  Included are daily readings, which are divided into a shorter 1st – 2nd grade passage and a longer upper elementary passage (usually two or more pages).  Following each daily reading lesson are a variety of activities to reinforce learning. Comprehension question, geography mapping, timeline, crafts, memory verses, creative writing and one of my absolute new favorite activities (thanks to Amy Puetz) – art picture study!  Here is the table of contents for book 2:
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  3. Extras files  - This is a set of mostly PDFs (a few songs) that provide the basis for some crafts, games, maps, and the timeline.  Additionally, larger PDFs of the artwork that is studied in the text are available to examine;  we did not print them, but were able to zoom in and out to examine specific features.
  4. Listen to Some History Files – This is a small collection of some famous writings in US history, including the Mayflower Compact, The Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution (read in its entirety in 48 minutes), as well as some famous sermons from founding fathers.
  5. Sing Some History Files -  This file includes 30 minutes of secular and Christian songs that provide a glimpse into our history. 
  6. Historical Skits eBook – I was surprised that Luke and Levi were so excited about this set of scripts, in which students can act out scenes from history!  The boys enjoyed acting out a story featuring Christopher Columbus’ son and the monks who helped him become introduced to the King and Queen of Spain.

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As designed, this curriculum can be used on a 5-day a week schedule for 30 weeks. We found that we could easily finish a lesson in an hour or less, depending on how many ‘extras’ we incorporated into our day.  It is very flexible and on busy days, we did a little less writing and more oral work.  The program is arranged to easily advance through the entire US history through study of individuals during the time period. 

Amy has included the traditional historical figures to read about (Columbus, Eli Whitney, Harriet Tubman) as well as lesser know figures that give a glimpse into life and circumstances during our colored past.For example, Section 4 is about the British Pilgrims coming to the New World.  Lesson 1 is an overview of the Puritan’s struggle for religious freedom in England, their flight to America and their initial settlement. Lesson 2 introduces elementary aged students to a young women on the Mayflower, giving students an opportunity to see life on the Mayflower and the Colony from a child’s vantage point. Lesson 3 is another biographical study – this time Squanto.  Lesson 4 continues the biographical introductions of various settlers including the Brewsters and William Bradford.  Finally, Lesson 5 is an overview of the development of the colony of Massachusetts from its Puritan founding.  I love that my kids are learning history as they walk along side heroes and heroines of all ages.

I love that Amy has include a daily lesson for each of our Presidents (some presidents are grouped together).  No matter their performance, each of our presidents deserves to be included in our history and mentioned to our students. 

Heroes and Heroine Review @ reapingaharvest

How We Used The Program:  This was an easy program to use!  It took little pre-planning beyond making some copies of the skit (though it could easily be read from the computer or tablet), copying the timelines, etc.  I had decided to print out the eBook text, because I do not enjoy doing all my reading on the laptop – I am still ‘old school’ and enjoy having pages to turn. 

Because I wanted to work with both Luke and Levi at the same time, I decided to not read aloud the 3rd – 6th grade section of material for each lesson.  Levi has a good attention span, and he had no difficulty following along with lessons, nor did he have trouble answering the comprehension questions for each lesson.  In the fall, my plan is to have Luke and Levi look over the early elementary 1st-2nd grade, one-page lesson after we do our reading and highlight and and begin to outline important information.  I think this will be a good step for Luke to learn some note-taking skills and Levi will begin to learn to pick out important facts. 

After reading, I looked over the activity pages for each lesson and we chose a few to do.  I always choose to do the geography mapping.  Some of the maps were a bit hard to read, as they are copies of old maps that are generally in the public domain. 

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Samples of the map work that is included within the text of the reading.  

Some of the maps are a little small as well, but the boys (who have gotten a fantastic geographic education this year) are easily able to locate information so far and do not seem to struggle with blurriness as much as my old eyes and I do. 

In one of our first lessons, we spent our history time learning about the continued influence of Native American names in our state.  We pulled out maps and found that mountains, rivers, lakes and towns in our state still bear the labels given to the areas by the native tribes of New England.  And since it has been a while since we graphed something, we went ahead and incorporated a little math into our work:

The boys are also working on keeping a timeline of explorers, as well.  I do appreciate that Amy’s timeline is simple and direct:

I should note that there are some optional readers/ literature selections that do not come with the eBook program, but can be purchased separately ($59.99 for the set of 5):

  • Ten Great Adventurers by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, edited by Amy Puetz
  • Ten Girls from History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, edited by Amy Puetz
  • Heroines of the Past: Bible Study by Amy Puetz
  • Two Little Americans in Spanish California by Frances Margaret Fox
  • Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott

There is also an optional coloring book ($9.99) for those busy hands!

Because the program is so heavy in biographical information, I’ve decided not to invest in these additional resources at this time.

My recommendations & thoughts:  I think this is a well put together history curriculum for younger grades.  The boys are engaged and interested in the material (huge bonus) and I appreciate the emphasis on the people of our nation’s history while still providing an effective narrative of historical events.  Amy has put together a program that should meet the needs of all learning styles at the elementary level. 

We are definitely using this as our history spine in the fall as we begin a year’s study of American history.  Although we will have school only 4 days a week (we spend one day a week in community), I do not doubt that we will be able to incorporate all the lessons and a good many of the extras into our school work.  I do believe the boys will be getting an excellent survey of American history presented in a pleasant, child-friendly format.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

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All prices are accurate as of blog posting.