Trust Fund Movie ~ Review

Since my foot is still not healing, there are not very many activities that AJ and I can do together for fun. One activity that we are able to do is watch TV. We were recently given the chance to watch a great movie from  Mapelle Films called, Trust Fund. We were also given the book, Love Was Near. The book is designed to be read after you watch the movie. I thought that they would make a fun family time activity for us. I was right!

Mapelle Films - Great movies

About Trust Fund

Trust Fund is a modern day adaptation of the Prodigal Son story from the Bible. The movie stars Jessica Rothe as Reese. Reese’s life is great until one day her mother tragically dies. Reese and her mother were very close and becoming close with her dad was difficult. They were both mourning the loss of her mother so even though she loved her father, they were not as close.

Reese was an aspiring writer. She didn’t want to go to college, but agreed with her dad to try it for a year. Her dad was fully supporting her, but she was not living within her means. She was quickly realizing that being an adult was a lot harder than it looked.

A modern day version of the prodigal son ,

She was lucky enough to find a publisher for the book she was writing. Having her own money from the advance made her want to become more independent. Her dad didn’t know that she spent all of the money she had received from the advance (and then some.) To encourage his daughter’s writing, he paid for her to go to a writing seminar in Europe. But she didn’t spend very much time writing. She met a guy and “fell in love.” And spent the time she should have been writing, seeing Europe on the back of a motorcycle. Reese wanted to stay in Europe with her new boyfriend, but her dad would not let her. She reluctantly returned home.

By accident, Reese saw some papers on her father’s desk. They showed that her mother had left a trust fund for Reese and her sister. Reese was angry! She thought her father was keeping her money from her. That he was being mean. She did the unthinkable. She took money from her father’s business and lest to Europe. Things there weren’t what she had thought and herd boyfriend ward not who he had said he was.

When Reese’s sister discovered what Reese had done, she wanted their dad to call the police, but he didn’t.

You will need too watch the movie to see what happens. It is a very touching movie about a father’s love.

About the Book – Love Was Near

The book is written in diary form. It is in Reese’s point of view. It shows why she did the things that she did. I really like that she didn’t make up a bunch of excuses. She admits that she made mistakes and even tells why she thought it was OK to do the wrong things in the heat of the moment.

A book to go along with Trust Fund

The book is gull of inspirational scriptures that focus on some of the issues that Reese struggled with in the book and movie. There are also numerous places in the book where you can write in it. Questions include things like, which action was worse, spending all of the money without finishing the book or telling a lie to her father. There are a lot of places where the reader is asked to give their opinion or tell what they would have done in the same situation.

While the book is designed to be used after watching the movie, I feel it would also be a great book for a teenage girl to read and work through on its own.

How We Used Trust Fund and Love Was Near

AJ and I watched the movie together. She thought the movie was good but thought that Reese made some bad decisions. I read through the book in about an hour. I really enjoyed it but decided not to have AJ read it at this time. It talks a lot about relationships with your father, and since she doesn’t have a dad I thought it wasn’t the right book for her at this time.

What We Thought

We both enjoyed the movie. The story line was good, it moved at a nice pace, and the acting was well done. There are some scenes that parents might find inappropriate for younger kids, but I think it would be fine for kids aged 10 and up. Of course use your discretion. The movie doesn’t follow the story in the average cookie cutter way. Instead there are twists and turns to keep you interested. Overall Trust Fund is a good movie with a great message!

The book was great. If AJ’s situation was different she would have read it. It discusses relationships and bad decisions. I would say the appropriate age would vary depending on your child’s maturity level. It encourages them to think through some difficult situations. I appreciate that there are scripture verses sprinkled throughout the book to help your child grow closer to God. I think the journal like feel of the book will keep teens interested in the book.

If you are looking for a great movie, then Trust Fund may be exactly what you are looking for! Love Was Near is a fun book to help you dig deeper into the themes of the movie. Together they make a great pair.

Mapelle Films has also designed a download study guide to help small groups dig deeper into the themes of the movie. So if you are looking for a good movie to watch with the family, or if you are looking for a product to discuss, Trust Fund will fit the bill!

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Home School Review Crew thought!

Disclaimer

 

Lightning Literature ~ Review

Finding a literature curriculum for AJ wasn’t easy. Most of the programs that I looked at wanted her to read ten or twelve books for the course. While that may be a good fit for some students, it isn’t a good fit for AJ. AJ is a reluctant reader who is a little bit below grade level in reading comprehension. She can usually read and understand any book that I assign her, but it takes her a little longer and she may need to read a section a few times to completely grasp it.

When I was about to give up and make my own literature program, I was blessed with an amazing review. We were given the opportunity to review the American Mid-Late 19th Century Lightning Literature book from Hewitt Homeschooling.  It looked exactly like what we needed.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

American Literature: Mid-Late 19th Century

This is a high school literature and composition course. It is designed for students who are new to Lightning Literature. It can be used by a student at any level in high school.

The course is designed to last for one semester, but it can be used for a full year long course if you add in your own grammar program.

The main part of the course is the student guide. The student guide is a 170 page soft covered book. It is written by Elizabeth Kamath. The book starts with an introduction and is then broken into four units. The end of the book has discussion questions, additional reading lists, project ideas, and a course schedule.

Introduction

The course introduction does much more than explain how to use the course. It is full of information on how to properly read and write both poetry and prose. It has basic writing guidelines and is a good place for the student to reference throughout the year.

Unit 1

In this unit your student will read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The literary lesson will focus on theme. Your student will also read selections from the poem, Leaves of Grass. They will learn about sound and imagery in poetry.

Unit 2

This unit has your student learning about humor while reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They will also read a short story, “The Outcast of Poker Flat.” While reading the short story they will learn about local color.

Unit 3

Your student will learn about register (or tone as I was taught) while reading a selection of poetry written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. They will also read through The Red Badge of Courage while learning about description.

Unit 4

The final unit teaches your student about figurative language while they read through poems written by Emily Dickson. They will also study point of view while reading through The call of the wild.

All of the poetry and short stories are included in the Student Guide. You will need to purchase the four novels separately.

How each Unit is Set Up

Each unit begins with an introduction. It includes a short biography about the author and a little bit of information about the selection your student will read. It includes things for the student to think about while they read.

There are comprehension questions for the student to answer as they read. The questions are fairly easy and most of the answers can be found directly in the text. Some questions do require the student to think critically about the selection.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

The student then reads through the literary lesson. In this section the author explains concepts while using examples from the reading selection. The lessons are very well written and self explanatory. I was impressed that after reading through the lesson, AJ was able to understand how the setting of a story can affect the theme.

The final assignment after each reading selection is the writing exercise. The student is given a choice of five or more writing assignments. There is a variety of options including; opinion papers, compare and contrast papers, augmentative papers, short stories, poems, and more. For each novel the student completes two of the writing exercises. They complete one exercise after poems or short stories.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

I also received a teacher guide. It included additional information about the course and scheduling. The main perk of the teacher guide was that it included all of the answers to the comprehension questions.

How We Used American Mid-Late 19th Century

Since AJ struggles with literature, we decided to follow the full year plan. We added in a grammar program and followed the schedule in the back of the book. Most weeks it had her reading five chapters in the book and answering the comprehension questions.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a very long book, so we were not scheduled to get to the literary lesson or writing assignments during the review period. I wanted to provide a full review, so I had AJ read through the literary lesson on theme for Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She hasn’t completed a writing assignment yet, but she thinks that they look interesting. Right now she thinks she will answer the following question.

Write a paper focusing on any character other than Tom in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Discuss the ways Stowe used that character as an argument against slavery.

The year long schedule gives her a week to write and revise each paper.

Lightning Literature A High School Literature Course

What We Thought About American Mid-Late 19th Century

American Mid-Late 19th Century is the literature and composition course that is perfect for AJ. It would be too much for her to complete two student guides in a year, but one guide is very doable. This option is a huge selling point for me! The novels, poems, and short stories offer a good amount of variety. We both enjoy that there isn’t any busy work. The student reads and writes quality material that is related to the lesson.

I like that she is challenged to write in so many different ways, and that she is given enough time to do a good job on her writing. I do wish that there was a bit more writing instruction in the book. The introduction is great, but there are some writing types that it doesn’t cover. That is our only complaint about the program.

I feel the lessons about poetry will really help AJ to finally grasp some of the difficult concepts. Poetry can be difficult to teach, but I think this will make it possible.

If you are looking for a literature and composition course that is flexible, free of busy work, and cost effective, then the American Mid-Late 19th Century Lightning Literature may be exactly what you are looking for. Click on the graphic below to find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about Hewitt Homeschooling.

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}
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Introductory Physics from Novare Science & Math ~ Review

AJ plans to go into a scientific field after high school. So I am constantly looking for good quality resources that will really prepare her for college and beyond. I want something that helps her to fully understand the information, beyond just learning to pass a test. When we were given the chance to review Introductory Physics from Novare Science & Math I thought that it would be a great fit for AJ.

What is Introductory Physics?

Introductory Physics is a textbook written by John D. Mays that is almost 400 pages long. Unlike most physic courses, it is designed to be used by freshmen students. The book provides a very solid overview of physics in a way that a student who has taken or is taking Algebra 1 should be able to understand.

Novare Introductory Physics, 2nd Edition
It is smaller than most high school science texts because it is a mastery based program. A student should be able to learn and understand the information in this textbook over the course of a year. That is not often the case with other science textbooks.

Parts of Introductory Physics

The book begins with a Preface for Teachers. In this section the philosophy behind the textbook is explained. The mastery approach is explained as well as information about calculator use and class homework. It also lists optional materials that would be helpful in teaching the course; including the Teacher Resource CD that we received. (We received a download of the CD for review purposes, but if you purchase one you will receive a physical CD.) This section is fairly short, but I felt more comfortable teaching the course after reading it.

There is then a Preface for Students. This section explains what is expected of the student. It also provides study strategies to help them become successful in the course.

The book is then divided into 13 chapters. Two of the chapters are optional, chapters 8 and 13. The author recommends skipping them when used for 9th grade students because the other chapters provide more than enough to cover in a course. The math is also more difficult. These chapters can be used if the student is older or has more math experience.

The 13 chapters are:

1. The Nature of Scientific Knowledge

2. Motion

3. Newton’s Laws of Motion

4. Energy

5. Momentum

6. Atoms, Matter, and Substances

7. Heat and Temperature

8. Pressure and Buoyancy*

9. Waves, Sound, and Light

10. Introduction to Electricity

11. DC Circuits

12. Fields and Magnetism

13. Geometric Optics*

How the Chapters are Set Up

Each chapter begins with a list of objectives that the student should be able to do by the end of the chapter. Throughout the chapter there plenty of examples, diagrams, and color photos to help explain topics. When new formulas are explained there are multiple worked out examples. The author shows all of the steps so that the student can completely understand how and why to use the formula.

One thing that is neat about this science book is that the student learns about more than scientific concepts and formulas. They also learn about famous scientists who changed history. AJ enjoyed learning about the scientists as well as the theories that they came up with.

At the end of each chapter there is a set of exercises for the student to complete. For most chapters the exercises are broken into two sections; mathematical conversions or computations and study questions. The number of questions and question types varies by the chapter. Chapter two has 36 mathematical questions and 16 study questions, where chapter 12 just has 12 study questions.

The answers to the mathematical questions are listed in the textbook after the questions. This way the student can check their answer to make sure they are using the formulas correctly. The only down side is that the problems are not worked out, the answers are just given. So if the student doesn’t know why they got a question wrong, they are forced to figure the answer out on their own. The good news is that you can purchase all of the answers worked out separately. The answers to the study questions are not listed, but they can be easily found in the chapter.

The student should complete five experiments during the course. The directions and helpful information about the experiments are listed in the back of the book.

The last 62 pages of the textbook is devoted to helpful information. It includes a glossary, reference data, formulas and objectives, the laboratory experiments, important scientists, a section on accurate measurements, and an index. I was surprised by how much information the back of the book contained. I especially liked having a list of all the formulas and objectives that AJ needed to master in one place.

You could teach the course using only the textbook, but it would be easier with the Teacher Resource CD.

The Teacher Resource CD contains:

Course Overview and Schedule – This shows how you can teach the course in an average of four days a week. It breaks down each lesson showing what parts of the book the student should read and what problems they should work out. To me, this section was very valuable. It would be hard to figure out how much a student should do each day and how long you should spend on a chapter without the schedule.

Weekly Review Guides – These are for the student to do in addition to the book work. It includes things that the student should reread or study so that they retain the material. It also includes a few problems that the student should be able to work out.

Weekly review assignments help the student master the material.

Weekly Quizzes and Keys – Each answer is worked out so that you can easily grade the quiz. In the course overview there is an explanation on how to grade and what percent each thing is worth.

Semester Exams and Keys – Again everything is worked out for you.

Sample Answers for Verbal Questions – This has answers to the study questions from the textbook as well as the written answers from the quizzes and exams.

How We Used Introductory Physics

AJ worked through the book a few times a week. Chapter one was really hard for her. It went in-depth about what truth is and how we know something is true. She had a hard time grasping the information. To be honest the section was a little hard for me to understand. It is well written and there isn’t anything wrong with it, but it is something that I was never taught before. I feel the chapter is important as it explains how science can change and that scientific facts are not necessarily true. She was a little frustrated, since science usually comes easy to her, but once we got past chapter one things got a lot better.

Your 9th grade student will understand Physics with this course!

Chapter two was on motion. This section had her start off by converting measurements. She liked how each step was shown. It showed her how to convert gallons per seconds into liters per hour and other similar conversions. It also went into detail about significant digits. She had learned about significant digits in the past, but this was the first time that she really understood why they were important.

Each day she would read through the section that was assigned and we would discuss it. She would try to do the sample problems on her own and would answer any questions as we got to them. She would also complete whatever review activities were assigned.

I decided not to have her do the weekly quizzes at this time. We had already planned to have her do biology this year and will put this course away until next year. At that time I will have her do the quizzes to make sure she remembers everything, and then she will do the quizzes weekly.

What We Thought about Introductory Physics

After the first chapter AJ really enjoyed the course. She liked that there were enough pictures and diagrams to help her understand the topics. She also enjoyed the touches of history throughout the book. Her favorite part was the math. She loves math and liked to see it used in real life situations. The word problems were often set up to model real life. AJ struggles a little bit with word problems, but I can see that doing the problems in the book have helped her to improve already.

She wasn’t a fan of some of the reading. She is a struggling reader, so there were times when I had to re-explain something to her. There is a higher level vocabulary than she is use to and there are a lot of scientific terms used. But I don’t think this would be a problem for a student who is reading solidly at a 9th grade level.

AJ’s only other complaint was the number of experiments. She is use to programs that have experiments almost every week, only having five for the entire course was disappointing to her. What I did was use the objectives in the back of the book to add in a few more experiments to help her. I actually like only having five experiments. Then I can add more if I want, but I am not forced to find materials for twenty or thirty experiments that may not really help her learn anything. If you want to make this a lab course, you can purchase Experiments for Introductory Physics and ASPC it is designed to go along with the course.

What I Thought

I really liked the companion CD. It made teaching the course easy. All I had to do was print the weekly review sheet and follow the schedule. Having the answers to the study questions made grading AJ’s work easy. I didn’t have to read through the chapter to make sure she had the correct answer.

I feel like the lessons were broken down into a good size. The amount of reading and problems to be completed in a day was reasonable. Even my slow reader was able to finish her daily work in under 45 minutes. I also like that the course can be taught in four days a week. This leaves time for additional studying and lets you spend longer on a section if needed without falling behind.

I think the idea of this mastery based science is genius. I know when AJ finishes the course next year that she will have a solid grasp on physics, and that she won’t forget it right away.

If you are looking for a mastery based science textbook that includes scientific history, has great explanations, plenty of examples, and doesn’t include a lot of busy work, then Introductory Science from Novare Science & Math may be exactly what you are looking for.

Introductory Physics is just one of many books from Novare Science & Math

Novare Science & Math also offers other science courses. Other members of the crew received Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home   (a middle school science course) and General Chemistry. Other members of the crew received a neat reference book for teachers called, Science for Every Teacher. Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about the products from Novare Science & Math!

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}
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Nature’s Beautiful Order ~ Review

AJ loves science and wants to become a veterinarian, so we were both excited with our recent review. We were given Nature’s Beautiful Order from Memoria Press.

Memoria Press

What is Nature’s Beautiful Order?

Nature’s Beautiful Order is, “An Introduction to the Study of Animals Taught by the Classical Naturalists.” It came with the book, a student guide, and the teacher key.

Nature’s Beautiful Order
The book is a 187 page soft covered book. It is broken down into 18 chapters. The book starts off by explaining what an animal is. Then through various chapters, different types of  animals are examined in more depth. Some of them include; lobsters, bees, turtles, deer, birds, and farm friends. The final two chapters in the book are about man, the upright animal. Each chapter is broken down into smaller sections making it easier to study the book a little at a time. There are black and white diagrams and illustrations sprinkled throughout.

The book is written by Christopher O. Blum and John A. Cuddeback. Throughout the book the authors quote and use works from other famous scientists including; Aristotle, James Audubon, Jean-Henri Fabre, and St-George J. Mivart. Nature’s Beautiful Order is full of fascinating information that is sure to please any animal lover. However, because there is a lot of information in the book written by scientists of a different time, sometimes the wording and vocabulary seem odd. In the beginning AJ had some difficulty in reading those sections. I had to re-explain some of the concepts. As she continued to read, she became more use to the wording. Your student needs to be a strong reader to use this study on their own, even then you may need to help explain a few things.

The student guide is 51 pages. There is a two to three page section for each chapter in the book. All of the questions in the student guide are short answer. Most of the answers can be found in the text, but some require a little more critical thinking. If the book is read and understood, the student shouldn’t have any problem filling in the student guide.

The teacher key is also 51 pages long. It is an exact copy of the student guide, but it has the answers all filled in.

How We Used Nature’s Beautiful Order

There was not a schedule included with the study, so I decided to have AJ work on the study at a pace of about a chapter a week. Since each chapter was broken down into a different number of sections, the amount of work each week varied. Some weeks, like the first one, there were five sections in the chapter. So each day AJ would read the section and then answer any questions in the student guide that went with the reading. Other chapters, like the one on bees, only had three sections. So that week she only worked on the study three days of the week. I decided to have her do it that way so that she would read the entire chapter over the week.

Most of the time we would discuss the reading and I would help to explain anything that she was unsure of. Then I would check her answers with the teacher key to make sure she understood what she was learning.

What We Thought About Nature’s Beautiful Order

Overall AJ really enjoyed the study. She still has more to do and she will continue to use it as a supplement to  her Animal Science course. While the reading level surprised me, it was a good challenge for her. She has read numerous books about animals, but she still learned new things in each section that she read. I like that the study is laid back and isn’t full of activities to complete. It was easy to add to our day.

If you have a student who is interested in animals, Nature’s Beautiful Order may be exactly what you are looking for.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the chance to review different products from Memoria Press including; Latin and various Latin programs. Click on the graphic below to see more reviews.

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Captain Absolutely ~ Review

When I was younger we didn’t watch many videos in children’s church. But every few months we would watch a video that taught a Bible story. If we were really lucky we would get to watch a video from Adventures in Odyssey. Those were always my favorite. They were full of action, taught a lesson, and were entertaining. Now there are so many great choices when you are looking for a movie or video that helps to teach God’s word, but Adventures in Odyssey will always hold a special place in my heart.

AJ has had the chance to watch a few different videos from Adventures in Odyssey and listen to some of their audio dramas. She has also willingly read a few of their chapter books. That’s saying something, because she doesn’t like to read. She has enjoyed everything that she has tried from Adventures in Odyssey. When I learned about an exciting comic book based on the characters from Adventures in Odyssey, I knew AJ would love it. We were blessed to receive Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family, the creators of Adventures in Odyssey.

Focus On The Family

What is Captain Absolutely?

 Captain Absolutely
Captain Absolutely is a 108 page soft cover comic book. It starts off in Metroplitanville, a city that has no sense of right and wrong. Two friends, Darren and Josiah, are working in the library. When all of a sudden, there is a powerful nuclear explosion. Josiah is suddenly in a section of the library that he had never been to before. The area had a bunch of copies of the same book, the Bible. While Josiah was waiting to be rescued he read the Bible and learned God’s truths. That is when he is transformed into Captain Absolutely. His new mission is to share God’s truth with the people of Metroplitanville. He soon realizes that he wasn’t the only one who was transformed by the nuclear explosion. His friend Darren is now his arch-nemesis, Dr. Relative. Darren had been thrown into the philosophy section of the library and discovered relative truth – where there is no right or wrong, everything is relative.

While Dr. Relative and a handful of other villains try to further corrupt the city of Metroplitanville, Captain Absolutely uses God’s Word to help save them. Like most comic books it is filled with battles, problems, and super powers, but this book doesn’t glorify violence. The bad guys are put in jail and there isn’t any blood or gore. Captain Absolutely even tries to help the bad guys learn about God’s truth.

Throughout the book you will run into familiar characters. The back of the book gives a list of all of the characters and a little information about them. It also tells the story of the real Josiah in the Bible, a person who changed his life after finding God’s Truth.

What We Thought About Captain Absolutely

AJ loves this book. The pictures are amazing! They are full of vivid detail and the characters seem very life like. Often the pictures seem as though they are going to pop off of the page. I like that the book teaches morals and values in a fun way. There is a scene where all of the clothes in the mall are replaced with very short shorts and skimpy tops. The scene points the child to look up 1Timothy 2: 9-10 which says:

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

There are many other examples throughout the book that teach important lessons.

The end of the book even has a list of Big Questions the reader should discuss with their parents or youth pastor regarding things in the comic book. Some of the questions include; is it okay to steal a Bible, why can’t you scare people into following God, and does God love bad people. It is a great starting point to some in-depth discussions.

If you are looking for an entertaining book for your child to read that is full of God’s Truth and morals this is exactly what you are looking for. It is also great for reluctant readers and those who love comic books. Both AJ and I would highly recommend Captain Absolutely!

See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}
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Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set ~ Review

Over the past few weeks AJ and I have been reading and studying Homer’s Iliad. We received the Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set from Memoria Press it has made the process of learning about these ancient texts a lot easier. We looked forward to reading these Epics and were excited to get started.

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set

The Iliad

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set
We received a copy of the Iliad translated by Samuel Butler. The book is 447 pages long and is broken up into 24 books. The print size in the book is nice. AJ commented that she didn’t have to squint to read the words and that she could actually see them easily.

Along with the book we received a Student Guide and a Teacher Guide. For each book in the Iliad there are two pages in the Student Guide to complete. The first section lists important places and characters and gives more information about them. The next section has comprehension questions. These vary in difficulty. Some are simple answers that are pulled straight from the book while others require a little more thought.

The third section is Quotations. A few quotes from the book are listed. The student is expected to become familiar with these quotes and know them for tests. The final section is Discussion Questions. These questions are mostly opinion based. An example from book 15 is;

 Who is the better warrior- Ajax, son of Telamon, or Hector. There isn’t a correct answer but the questions do force the student to think about the story on a deeper level.

Since The Iliad was written so long ago, it can be a difficult read. The Student Guide tries to make it as simple as possible. In the appendix there are genealogical charts and other helpful information to help your student keep track of who is who and which side different cities are on. We found this section very valuable.

The Teacher Guide for The Iliad is different from other Memoria Press guides we have used in the past. While the Teacher Guide has all of the information contained in the Student Guide, it has so much more.

Each book begins with Background and Drill. This section gives more in depth information about important topics. There are also sections on Discussion Help, questions the students should mark for tests, Teacher Notes, and additional assignments for the student to complete. There are writing assignments for almost every book. These include memory work, summaries, compare and contrast, opinion, and more.

There are three tests included in the Teacher Guide. These tests are not easy! When your student is able to pass the tests they will have a great understanding of The Iliad.

The best part of the package was the Instructional DVDs. Sean Brooks gives a video lecture for each book in The Iliad. The lectures were not boring, in fact AJ enjoyed watching the lectures. Mr. Brooks is excellent at explaining what is going on in each book and why it is important. I felt the DVDs were what made me feel confident to teach these books. They really took the study to the next level.

The Odyssey

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set
Our copy of The Odyssey is also translated by Samuel Butler. It is 358 pages long and broken up into 24 books. Like The Iliad, the text size is nice and the book is well made.

The Student Guide and Teacher Guides are set up very similarly to the guides for The Iliad. I appreciate that because when we get to The Odyssey AJ will already be familiar with the set up.

There looks like a lot of fun assignments to go along with The Odyssey. One that I think AJ will like is from book 7. It asks the student to choose a location for Scheria and defend it geographically. They have to describe how to get back to Ithaca from that point. I like that they are forced to think deeper.

I watched a few of the DVD lectures, and they did not disappoint. I am sure that AJ will like them as much as she likes the lectures on The Iliad.

How We Use It

At first we tried to use the program as it is designed in the Teacher Guide. The student reads a book each day and completes the work. Together both books should take around 18 weeks to complete. The study really seems to be written for more of a classroom student with classwork and homework, than for a homeschooled student. It was just too much for AJ. This book is not an easy read and requires a lot of concentration. We are not classical homeschoolers and she had never heard of the Trojan War. I think a student who is use to Memoria Press would be able to catch on a lot faster.

After a few days I decided to change things up. We are currently not using the Student Guide at all. We are reading a book out loud over a day or two depending on the length and then on the following day watching the lecture and discussing the discussion questions.

My plan is to have her read through both books and watch all of the lectures. When she is done and is more familiar with all of the characters and what is happening in the story she will read them again. At that point I will have her fill out the study guides, take quizzes, do the memory work, and dig deeper. I plan to give AJ a high school English credit when she is completely finished.

What We Thought

If you are looking for a way to teach your child these difficult texts, this is hands down the way to go. I don’t think you will find a better study. Between the Teacher Guide and the Instructional DVDs you will have everything you need right at your finger tips.

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}
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Bessie’s Pillow ~ Review

This year AJ has been learning all about modern history. Learning about things that happened only decades ago instead of hundreds of years ago has been really interesting to her. It is amazing how far our world has come in such a short time. Most of the topics we are learning about happened after my grandma was born. Knowing someone who was actually alive when wars and other things happened really puts things into perspective.  One topic that AJ has really enjoyed learning about is the American Dream. And how that dream wasn’t easy for a lot of people.

We were recently given the chance to review the book, Bessie’s Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert. It is an amazing book from Strong Learning, Inc. that is based on a true story of a young immigrant’s journey to America. I thought that the book would be a great way for AJ to get a better understanding of the personal side of history. It is easy to learn facts, but it is nice to get a look into how people felt and handled what was going on. AJ seems to enjoy books that are based on a strong female character, so I thought that she would enjoy this book.

Bessie's Pillow 

What is Bessie’s Pillow?

Bessie’s Pillow is a 276 page soft covered historical fiction book. It is broken into 40 chapters and includes a section called Bessie’s America. This section is full of historical information about the things going on in Eastern Europe that drove hundreds of thousands of people to immigrate to America in the 19th and 20th century. It also includes information about what America was like in that time period.

The book is told in first person point of view. It starts off with 18 year old Boshka Markman waiting to leave her family and everything she knew to come to America. It was 1906 and Lithuania was no longer a safe place for her to live. At such a young age she would leave her family and make the long difficult journey to America on her own.

Just getting to America was a challenge. There are numerous health checks and inspections to make sure she was healthy enough to enter America. Once she finally reached America she was told that her name would have to be changed to make it more American. From that day on she was known as Bessie.

Bessie was a strong woman. We see her grow from a young 18 year old child to a strong wife and business woman. She faces struggles and overcomes them. She is kind, compassionate, and has a strong spirit.

Beyond the Book

Just reading the book will teach you a lot about history. But the author has taken it a step further. She has created a site, Bessie’s America that takes learning about the time period to a new level. There are picture from the time period and tons of information about daily life back in the beginning of the 1900’s.

There is also a teacher’s guide. The guide includes; discussion questions, a timeline of events, character analysis, themes, symbolism in the book and more. This book can easily be a jumping point for a full on history and language arts study.

Unfortunately, when we were reading the book there were some issues with the website and the links were not working. Now that it is working, we have enjoyed looking through and learning even more about the time period.

What We Thought

Originally the plan was to read a few chapters a day as a read aloud. After the first few days though, it seemed impossible to stop after a few chapters. The book was exciting and AJ didn’t want to stop reading. We ended up finishing the book in a few days. It was well written and really gave insight into what it was like to be an immigrant in America.

There were a few difficult to read chapters, because lets face it, Americans were not always the most welcoming to immigrants. It is sad that Bessie had to face those difficulties, but I am glad that they were included in the book. I feel it is important to share both the good and bad parts of history. That being said, you may wish to read the book yourself before handing it over to your child. I think a 5th grader could easily read the book, but I know AJ would not have been emotionally ready to read it in 5th grade. She is in 8th grade now and the book brought up a lot of great discussions, especially considering all of the talk about immigration in our political world.

Overall, if you are looking for an exciting, well written, inspiring story of a strong female character who overcomes many difficulties, Bessie’s Pillow may be exactly what you are looking for.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of the book by clicking on the graphic below.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
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The Beginner’s Bible ~ Review

When I was little I remember receiving my very first Bible. It was The Beginner’s Bible. I read it all of the time and until a few years ago, I still had it. It was even the first Bible that AJ used when she was younger. I loved the short stories and she loved to flip through the pictures. It had a lot of use and we both learned more about the stories in the Bible from it.

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}
Even though AJ moved onto a regular Bible a while ago, I was happy to find out that Zonderkidz had recently come out with a updated version of The Beginner’s Bible. AJ and I were eager to check out the new version.

What Is The Beginner’s Bible?

The Beginner’s Bible is a  Bible geared especially for kids ages 4 to 8. It is a hard covered book full of vibrant colors and kid friendly language. It is over 500 pages long with large text to make reading easier.

Since there are some words that may still be a little hard for kids to understand, there is a short but helpful Bible Dictionary at the end of the book. When your child comes to a word in italics while reading the story, they can turn to the end of the book and find out what it means.

The Beginner’s Bible includes the major stories from both the Old and New Testaments including; Adam and Eve, The Ten Commandments, Samson, David and Goliath, The Birth of Jesus, Lazarus, and many more. It also contains lesser known stories including; Jars of Oil based on 2 Kings 4:1-7, and A Gift for Jesus based on John 12:1-8.

At the beginning of each story you will find the book, chapter, and verse where the story can be found in the regular Bible. I think that feature is one of our favorite things about this Bible. It makes it easy for the child to see that these are not just a bunch of fairy tales, but that they are real stories from the Bible.

How to Use The Beginner’s Bible?

There are so many ways to use this Bible! Younger kids will enjoy listening to the stories and looking at the beautiful pictures. Older kids can spend time reading and learning on their own. It is also a great book to practice reading. Having your child read a few stories a week will not only help to improve their reading, but it will help them learn more about God’s Word. There are quite a few worksheets and coloring pages that you can print off to go along with the stories to make Bible time even more exciting.

What Did We Think About The Beginner’s Bible?

The biggest difference between this new Beginner’s Bible and the one that I grew up with is the illustrations. These seem to almost jump off of the page.

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

They have taken the pictures that AJ use to love to look through and made them even better! It is still the same great story Bible that tells the important stories of the Bible in a way that kids can easily understand.

If you are looking for a good Bible, this is one you should check out!

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about the Beginner’s Bible by clicking on the graphic below.

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}
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Working It Out ~ Review

One subject that I enjoyed learning about in school was poetry. I enjoyed breaking down poems and trying to figure out what they meant. It was always an enjoyable experience, but something that took some effort. When AJ started to learn about poetry however, she hated it. She was a very literal thinker and the idea of nonsense poems was hard for her to understand. We worked on poetry for a while and eventually she started to enjoy it. She even wrote some decent poems of her own. Now that she is older, I have been trying to incorporate some poetry that has more meaning. It has been a little difficult to find the right balance for her.

We were recently given the chance to review a product from Everyday Education, LLC called Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert. I thought that it would be a great product to help AJ learn more about poetry.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

What is Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert?

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

This book (we received an e-book) contains over 50 poems that were all written by George Herbert. He was a poet who was born in 1593. George Herbert lead a rather fascinating life even though he didn’t live to see his 40th birthday. He was a well educated man who ended up becoming an ordained minister.

Working it Out is a collection of poems that can be used as a devotion. The interesting thing about this book is that it is written in a way to help even those who are not poetically gifted to understand and enjoy the experience of reading poetry.

The poems in Working it Out are broken into 12 main categories.

  • Looking Back, Moving Forward
  • Letting Go
  • Confession
  • Grace
  • Separation
  • Petition
  • Praise
  • Depending on God
  • Grief
  • Prayer
  • Special Blessings of the Church
  • More Insights

The number of poems in each section varies, as does the length of each poem. Some are only a few stanzas long where others are pages long.

After each poem there is a breakdown of the poems meaning. I like how the breakdown lets you see the poem as much more than just words on a page. Each poem has the following explanation:

  • The Big Picture – This section gives an overall meaning of the poem.
  • The Parts of the Picture – This section breaks down the poem by stanza. Literary elements are discussed in this section.
  • The Parts of the Picture Come Together – This section explains the movement throughout the poem. I personally felt this was one of the most helpful sections.
  • Reflections – These are questions about the poem that ask you to reflect about the meaning of the poem.
  • Scriptures for Further Reflection – These are additional scripture verses that relate to the poem.

How to Use Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

You can simply read through the book and learn a lot of information. After reading each poem you learn about the meaning of it. Through this process you and your student will be able to grow in the knowledge of poetry while becoming closer to God.

If you want deepen the learning process there are ideas in the book to help take the learning to the next level.

You are encouraged not to rush through this book. It is actually meant to be used over a school year by learning about one poem a week. There is a lot of flexibility to help you make the process of learning about poetry enjoyable.

How We Used Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

Learn the meaning behind poetry while growing closer to God!

We started off by reading through a poem at the beginning of the week. Then the next day we would read it again and discuss what she thought the poem could mean. The process was difficult for AJ so we would read through the meaning of the poem a few times.

After learning about a few different poems I could see AJ was just not ready for this book. Instead we have decided to just read through a poem each week and talk about any literary elements she can find. I have also had her color code a few of the poems. She would highlight words that had to do with love red, and words that had a sad connotation grey.

It the poem, “The Flower” I had her mark the words about spring in yellow and the words about winter in a dark color. The poem is about renewal, and while she may not understand that yet, I know that the next time we come to this poem and try to understand its’ meaning it will be a little easier for her.

What We Thought About Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

It is a well put together study, but it ended up being too far over her head. She is in 8th grade right now and I think she will be able to get far more out of the study in another year or two. She is able to read the poems fine, but even when I help to explain their meanings, she seems a little lost. I look forward to using it with her in the future though, because it is a neat way to learn about poetry.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their child about poetry. It breaks everything down and makes the process a lot easier. It is also great for personal growth and reading too. I have read through quite a few of the poems and have enjoyed them. The best part is I can see the meaning behind the poem and compare it to what I thought the poem was talking about.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about Working it Out and two other products from Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
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If You Were Me And Lived In… Book Review

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While AJ is a reluctant reader, she loves books that teach her things. If she was able to only pick books out of the nonfiction section of the library, she would. But give her a text book and she normally finds it boring because of the lack of pictures. We were asked to review a few books from the, “If You Were Me and Lived in…” series brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com.  This review came with a fun twist, we were able to pick two books from the series and the company sent us two of their choice. It was a hard decision because there were so many great options. In the end AJ and I decided on, If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty and If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3). We picked the book about China, because we haven’t learned very much about that country in our history studies. We picked Elizabethan England because AJ will be reading her first Shakespeare play this year (YIKES!) and I wanted her to learn more about that era.

AJ’s first pick was If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2). She fell in love with Italy when she studied the Renaissance in 3rd grade. She was thrilled to see that the company decided to send us the book about the Renaissance! We also received If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4).

About the Books

The books all follow the same format. They begin with a picture of the country today and the country during the time period that the book is covering. The books cover all different things from the food that was eaten, the clothes that were worn, the types of homes, and other interesting information. Then at the end of each book there is a list of important people during the time including dates and detailed information. Following that there is a glossary in each book.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This book is 55 pages long. It is illustrated by Silvia Brunetti. The pictures in the book varied. Some were lifelike, some looked more like paintings, and others looked like cartoons. We enjoyed the variety. It began by reviewing a little bit about the Middle Ages. It talked about the wealthy Medici family and how the family encouraged changes in architecture and supported many artists.

The book explained that girls were expected to be married by the time they were 16 and were expected to act like adults from a very young age. It also talked about how the clothes that were worn were a symbol of status in the town. In the end of the book there was a short section about art in the Renaissance. AJ was happy to see the Hands of God &Adam by Michelangelo in that section. That was one of the first pictures she ever saw in real life. I still remember when she was 9, we walked into a doctor’s office and a replica of it was hanging on the wall. She was so excited to see it and told everyone in the waiting room what it was and who painted it. Her only complaint about the book was that it needed to have more art in it. She learned a lot of new facts and was thrilled to remember things she had previously learned. This was her favorite of the books.

If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This book is 50 pages long. It is beautifully illustrated by Paula Tabor. The pictures are lifelike and vivid. The book starts off by explaining why the time period was called the Elizabethan Period. Then it went on to explain what your life would be like if you lived in a bakery with your family. One of our favorite parts was learning where the expression, “it’s raining cats and dogs,” came from. We also learned that most people ate with their hands. Then we learned about the acting companies and how the boys had to play girls. The book ended by talking briefly about how the religion you were able to practice depended on who was leading the country.

We simply read through the book and learned quite a few new things. AJ loved that it was simple to read and full of both pictures and information. The important people section in the back of the book was really helpful. It let AJ easily learn more about the time period.

 If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4)

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This book is 61 pages long. It is illustrated by Sarah Wright. While the pictures are colorful and cute to look at, they are cartoonish. Since we have learned about Colonial America a few times, I didn’t think that AJ would learn very much from it. I was wrong! The book starts off where volume 3 ended. It explained in a lot more detail about how the ruler of the country decided the religion in England, and how a lot of people were unhappy. Then it goes on to talk about the Mayflower Compact and how hard the first settlers had it. It explains how corn became a very important crop and how becoming allies with the Indians helped everyone. This book is full of information.

If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
This is a long book. It is 76 pages long and the writing is quite a bit smaller than any of the other books. It is illustrated by Mateya Arkova. The pictures in this book look like they were painted in muted watercolors. AJ and I both felt that a lot of the pictures seemed blurry.

This book (and the Colonial America one as well) is told from a male perspective. The other two we have were told from the female perspective. It starts off by explaining that the Han Dynasty was a very important dynasty in China’s history. It also explains that it is often called the Golden Age of Ancient China.

We learned that the most important area in the home was the shine and that it was very important to the Confucianism religion. We also learned that clothing was important and that only the Emperor could wear the color yellow. One fact that AJ thought was amazing was that the process of making silk was so secretive that a person could be put to death if they told the secret.

There is so much more for AJ to learn in this book. She still isn’t finished with this one because I want her to take her time and really process the information.

The book covers so much! Some of the things she will be learning about are; the different social levels, the importance of honoring their family, their school life, the process of making paper, the three main religions, calligraphy, and a lot more.

What We Thought

All of the books were full of information. They are well written making an often boring subject interesting and easy to learn about. I feel that these books can be the basis of a period study for a child in elementary grades. You can easily add crafts and activities to make it a very fun study. They would be perfect for older children to review a subject or to go over the basics of a new topic. I admit that I learned a few new facts too.

If you are looking for a great book to learn about history, any of these would be a great pick.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com}
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