ARTistic Pursuits ~ Review

I have wanted to find a good art program for AJ for a long time. She enjoys doodling, but her art skills are greatly lacking. We have tried a few different programs, but they just weren’t a good fit. We were given the chance to review Middle School Book One The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and I thought that it would be a good fit for AJ.

Artistic Pursuits Middle School Book 1

The Elements of Art and Composition is a 92 page come-bound book. There are 16 units that are each broken into four lessons. The lessons focus on different elements of art including; space, line, texture, form, depth, balance, proportion, and perspective. The lessons are written to the student making it so that most students can complete the program on their own with little help.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
The first lesson in each unit introduces and explains the concept of that unit. The lesson has your child practice the concept in a creative way. In one unit your child is told to find an object and see how many different ways they can look at it. Another lesson has the student line up small objects and draw them a few times having some of them overlap. Each of these lessons are fairly short, but they explain the concept very well.

The second lesson is in Art Appreciation. The student is shown a piece of art that goes with the unit. There is a brief history of the culture and the piece of art, and then the student is asked to imitate the art in some way.

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The third lesson is the main art lesson, it is on technique. It gives some great tips on how to achieve different looks in your art. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that this section is large enough. It is only one page long in each unit. The information that is given is detailed, it even explains which pencils to use to get different effects.

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The final lesson in each unit is the Application lesson. This is the section where the student is told to use everything that they have learned and to do a project. Some of the projects require a lot of time, but there are some (especially in the beginning) that only take a little while to complete.

In each lesson the student draws something.

There are 64 lessons, so if your student completes two lessons a week, the book will last an entire school year. The books are not consumable, if you have multiple children they can all use it.

I decided to have AJ work on art twice a week. The first two lessons I read to AJ and worked with her. After those two lessons I quickly realized that she would be able to do the work on her own. Each lesson took between 45 minutes and an hour. She understood the lessons, but she had a lot of problems with the drawings.

She did the best on the second lesson in each unit where she was asked to imitate part of a work of art. On the rest of the lessons there were not details of what to draw and she had trouble. On a lot of the lessons there are pictures drawn by other students. Since her drawings were no where near as good as the ones in the book she became discouraged.

I think that this level was just too advanced for her. This book is full of wonderful techniques, but if you have trouble drawing basic items, then that won’t really help.

If your student has basic drawing skills and wants to improve them, then this book would help them a lot. With the different techniques and the art history, this would be a solid course that can be completed with little help from the teacher.

I plan to have AJ draw for fun a lot over the summer and then start AJ over in the book for the next school year. I think that if she improves on her basic drawing skills that she will get more from the book.

Find out what others had to say by clicking on the graphic below.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
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Music Appreciation ~ Review

When I first started homeschooling AJ I wasn’t afraid to teach her algebra or biology, I was worried how I would teach her music or art. I knew that she would need to learn a variety of subjects, but music was one that I didn’t know how I would go about teaching. I have never played an instrument and I couldn’t name more than two famous composers. AJ on the other hand loves music, all kinds of music, and is eager to learn. When we were given the chance to review a Music Appreciation course I was excited to see if it would be a good fit for AJ. I was amazed at the course that Zeezok Publishing LLC had put together. Their Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades is an excellent program.

Music Appreciation

Over the course of a year your child reads and learns about seven of the great composers; Schubert, Mozart, Paganini, Bach, Hayden, Handel, and Beethoven. While learning about each composer your child will read a book about each one, complete activities related to music, create a lapbook about each composer, listen to music, and do hands on activities. While the study of each composer has similar activities, each one touches on different aspects of music. We started our study with George Fredrick Handel.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
We received seven books, one about each composer, a five disk CD set full of wonderful music, a CD with lapbook pieces to print off, and a large workbook that is over 350 pages long. While this curriculum states it is for the elementary grades, there is a lot of work and learning involved.

When we started our journey to learn all about George Handel (a name I had never heard) we turned to his section in the large workbook. On the first page we found a weekly lesson outline that broke the study into four weeks. It also included a few activities that AJ would need to complete outside of the program in order to meet national music standards. Those activities were simple to complete. Each week we needed to read a chapter out of the book, Handel at the Court of Kings, and answer some comprehension questions. She listened to some music from the composer each week as well. Each week also had her complete a section called Character Traits and Tidbits of Interest.

Handel - One of 7 composers to learn about

The biographies are well written and full of interesting details. In Handel at the Court of kings, we learned about his life in great detail, from him getting in trouble when he was six years old for following the singers in the street, to when he was traveling across Europe, and when he started to go blind. The book is broken into four chapters and contains sheet music for many of the songs that Handel composed. The book is fairly easy to read, but it does contain some difficult vocabulary sprinkled throughout. Including the sheet music, the book is over 160 pages long.

The Character Traits section listed good character traits that Handel displayed during the chapter and explained the traits in better detail. Handel was a good man. Some of the traits AJ learned more about were; diligence, humility, leadership, and humor. Reading through the character traits only took a few moments each week, but AJ enjoyed it. I liked the fact that those qualities were being displayed in real life ways throughout the book.

The Tidbits of Interest section was neat. It would list a page number and then give more information about an event that happened on that page. We tried to stop and read the tidbit of interest when that part of the story came up. It helped to put some parts of the story into perspective. When Handel was young his father didn’t want him to pursue a life of music, but we found out in the Tidbits of Interest section that at that time in Germany musicians were regarded as lower than servants. That helped us to see why his father was so against him being a musician.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
Each week AJ completed other fun activities to go along with the story. During week one she learned about Germany and practiced locating different countries in Europe. She learned a little about Bach and Scarlatti, the other composers who were born around the same time as Handel. She copied parts of sentences out of the book and sorted out the adjectives and adverbs and did research on the oboe.

Learn about more than music with Zeezok!

The second week had her learning a little more about Germany. She also started learning about some of the elements of music. She learned about; melody, harmony, dynamics, rhythm, tempo, and timbre. All of those terms were new to me, but AJ remembered some of them from the piano lessons she had taken. She ended the second week by learning about the different types of sound that instruments make and assigning colors to different sounds. She was given adjectives like lonely, warm, sweet, and heavy and had to decide which color reminded her of the word. She had a hard time with that activity because she is a very literal thinker. I think that was the only activity that she didn’t like in the entire study.

Learn about the elements of music

The third week was her favorite. It started with her reading and copying quotes about or by George Handel. Her favorite quote was from Handel, “…I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.” In the book we learned how amazing Handel was, not only in music, but as a leader. AJ’s favorite part of the week was comparing and contrasting different music. She listened to songs that were opposites and described how they were alike and different. She listened to 10 different songs (not including the ones written by Handel) during the third week, and wished there would have been more.

Compare and Contrast music

The final week had her complete a few different activities. She reviewed the different character qualities that Handel displayed, put together a time line of events, learned about some of Handel’s famous songs, and experienced being blind. The last week took us two weeks to complete because there was so much to learn.

We tried to do the reading on the first two days of the week and the other activities through the rest of the week. We both liked that there were so many different activities. The only problem we had was that the chapters in the book are so long. The second chapter begins on page 43, so that shows how long the chapters are. I also felt that we rushed through some of the lapbook activities in order to try and stay on schedule. Even with rushing, it took us almost six weeks to finish our study on Handel. The next composer we plan to learn about is Bach, there looks like a lot of fun things in that unit.

Reading about composer Handel

I think this is a very well written curriculum. The books are interesting to read and full of factual details, and the CDs align perfectly with the book. When we are reading about a song Handel composed the book tells us which CD and track to go to so we can listen to the song. It is very organized and easy to teach, even if the teacher has no previous knowledge of music. There are hands on elements that make learning fun. Each composer focuses on different musical elements so the student really gains a wide variety of skills once the program is finished. The best part is that AJ really looked forward to music each day. There was a large amount of reading and writing, but she enjoyed it so much that she didn’t mind those things.

Since this was written for elementary aged students, I thought that we would be able to breeze right through it. That was not the case. If I was doing this with an elementary student I would most likely change this into a two year program and complete a book in eight weeks instead of four. I think doing all seven books in one year with an older student would be difficult, I couldn’t imagine trying to do it with a third grader. I think it would be too much when all of the other daily work is included. If you are looking for a quick and easy music program this is not what you are looking for. But if you want a program that will immerse your child in the world of music and make learning really come alive then this is exactly what you want.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}
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Heroes of History ~ Review

I am always looking for a way to change up our school day. Since the next topic we are planning to study is American history after the Civil War, I have been on the look out for books and activities to help AJ learn about that era. When we were given a chance to review a book from YWAM Publishing, I knew that I wanted to pick an influential person to learn about. We were given a physical copy of Heroes of History Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original and a Digital Unit Study to accompany it. Since we reviewed a book from YWAM last year, I knew that we were in for a treat.

Theodore Roosevelt Review

 

Theodore Roosevelt An American Original is a 201 page soft covered book that is broken into 17 chapters. The book starts with a 39 year old Teddy Roosevelt marching up San Juan Hill as part of a Volunteer Cavalry. Then the book goes back in time and starts with him at five years old during the Civil War. His parents were on opposite sides of the war, and that made for a difficult time. His mother was helping out the South while his father was helping the North, even though he wasn’t fighting. The book goes on to tell about how sick Teddy was as a child and how he decided to make his body work by exercising and training. We learn that the Roosevelt family came into a lot of money and that because of that, Teddy and his family went on amazing vacations. He sailed up the Nile River and visited numerous countries in Africa and Europe. We learn about Teddy’s love of animals and his love of taxidermy.

The book then continues to show how he got into politics. It tells the sad way he lost his mother and wife and how he finally came back to society. Then the book talks about his road to the presidency, the obstacles he faced and how he dealt with them.

The book is easy to read and understand, but it does have some advanced vocabulary throughout the chapters. Reading the book alone gives you a great understanding of who Theodore Roosevelt was, but when you combine it with the Digital Unit Study, there is so much to learn.

The Digital Unit Study has options for classroom use, small group use, and for homeschool use. It is broken into two sections. The first section is the real study guide it is 71 pages long and has comprehension questions, social study activities, related themes, and more. The second part of the unit study is the printable pages. It included a fact sheet to fill out about Roosevelt, a world map, map of America, a map of New York, and a time line to fill in. The study guide is full of information to make the book really come to life.

I wanted this book to be our history study. Each week we read through three chapters of the book (except the first chapter that was really short.) and AJ answered the comprehension questions from the study guide. She also looked up different social study terms as we came to them. The Roosevelt family went on a lot of trips. AJ used the maps to chart their journeys. There are dozens of writing prompts, crafts, and ideas for places to visit while reading the book, we haven’t done those yet, but we still have a few chapters left to read.

AJ likes the story and has enjoyed following along with the Roosevelt family’s journeys. I have been reading the book out loud to her and she looks forward to finding out what is coming up next. If she enjoyed reading more, I could see the Heroes of History books being a great spine to our history study next year. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work for her. I wish it would because the books from YWAM are full of history and bring a person to life. You get to know them so much better than you can in a few pages of a text book.

If you are looking for a book to supplement your history studies, or if you are looking for a good biography, these are great.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
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Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Book Study)

The middle of last year Home & School Mosaics, a website that I reviewed and wrote for, decided to shut down. One post that I wrote was part of the monthly book club. Since it is no longer available  on Home & School Mosaics, I’m sharing it here.

This month we are focusing on the book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater.  I will be sharing my thoughts on the book as well as activities to do for each chapter. There is also a downloadable study guide for the book.

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What was the book about?

The book was about a family man who was very unhappy with his job as a painter and decorator. His true passion would be exploring the world. One day he gets a surprise in the mail, a penguin from Antarctica. The penguin causes some minor funny issues but becomes a member of the family. Unfortunately, after a while, the penguin starts to get sick because he needs companionship. After another penguin arrives at the Popper’s home the first penguin starts to feel better, but then the family has to figure out how to keep two penguins happy. Trouble and craziness continue when Greta, the female penguin, lays 10 eggs. After a while, they are able to train the penguins and they become known as Popper’s Performing Penguins. Fun and excitement follow as the penguins go on the road to perform.

Mr. Popper's Penguins book study and study guide

Did the book fulfill your expectations?

Having watched the movie, I was expecting a totally different story. The movie was over the top and had us laughing all of the time. The book and movies share a few similarities, but overall the main storylines are very different. That being said, I think I liked the book a lot more than the movie. It was funny, exciting, and a great story. I really liked that it wasn’t a book that I could easily tell what was going to happen next.

Did the book end the way you expected?

No, the ending was totally unexpected. It was fitting of Mr. Popper’s character, but I was definitely surprised by his decision at the end.

 

How realistic was the characterization?

The characters themselves, and the way they interact with each other, are very realistic. The situation they were put in was obviously unrealistic, but their handling of the problems was realistic. My favorite – and least favorite – character was Mr. Popper. He loves his family, but has his heads in the clouds and doesn’t seem to take bills and responsibility seriously. He is kind of selfish and likes to keep to himself. His wife on the other hand was down to earth and a worry wart. She was very practical throughout most of the book. I could definitely relate to Mrs. Popper.

Would you recommend the book?

Absolutely! The book was full of comedy, with a few unexpected surprises thrown in. It is a simple read that I am sure would be enjoyed by all ages.

Activities

There are so many fun activities that you can do with this book! Doing a unit study on penguins would be a great idea. Embracing Home has an amazing penguin unit study. There are dozens of activities, games, videos, and printables to help you learn about penguins.

Below are a few ideas I have come up with that go with the book..

Chapters 1 and 2

  • Write a letter to Admiral Drake
  • On a map label the North and South Pole
  • Find Antarctica on the map and color it. You can find free printable maps at  Your Child Learns.com

Chapters 3 and 4

  • Label the parts of a penguin
  • Make a Penguin Fact bookmark

Chapters 5 and 6

  • Study penguin habitats
  • How many words can you make out of the word “PENGUIN”? ( downloadable worksheet) There are 40 possible words.

Chapters 7 and 8

  • Make a bird nest
  • Write a newspaper article about Captain Cook

Chapters 9 and 10

  • Draw a penguin

Chapters 11 and 12

Making fake snow is just one of the fun activities in the Mr. Popper's Penguins book study.

  • Make fake snow
  • Build a house out of ice cubes or sugar cubes

Chapters 13 and 14

  • Penguin money math (downloadable worksheet)

Chapters 15 and 16

  • Make a comic strip showing the penguin’s act

Chapters 17 and 18

  • On a map, color all of the states that the penguins visited
  • Research what seals eat

Chapters 19 and 20

  • Write a book report
  • Compare and contrast the book and the movie

We were able to find an instant snow kit at the store; we just added water. AJ had a blast playing with it. It isn’t quite like real snow, but it was close enough. If you don’t want to buy fake snow, you could also make one of the numerous recipes on Pinterest.

Scroll down to download the Mr. Popper’s Penguins study guide. It includes vocabulary and questions for each chapter. Most of the questions are simply plot based, so if your child is able to read the book I think they would be able to complete the study guide.

Craft

A Penguin Bookmark

Throughout the book there are a lot of penguin facts. Make this book mark to keep your place while reading, and jot down facts when you find them. It is very simple.

Supplies needed for the Penguin Bookmarks

Materials:

  • Card stock, or a file folder
  • 1 sheet of black, white, and yellow construction paper
  • googly eyes
  • glue
  • scissors
  • ruler

Instructions:

This penguin bookmark goes perfectly with the Mr. Popper's Penguins book study!

First, cut out a piece of card stock or file folder into a rectangle the size you want your penguin bookmark.

Then, glue that piece onto the black construction paper.

Glue googly eyes near the top.

Cut out a beak and two feet for your penguin. Glue them into place.

Next, cut a white oval out of the construction paper. Glue it on your penguin.

Finally, round the head of your penguin. It is finished!

Other Penguin Resources

AJ loves the Magic School Bus series, so whenever we do a unit study I search to see if Ms. Frizzle has a book or video related to what AJ is learning about. Thankfully there is a Magic School Bus Chapter Book about Penguins! Penguin Puzzle is the 8th book in the series, and it didn’t disappoint. AJ loves that she can go on an adventure and learn new things at the same time. If you haven’t checked out the chapter books, you need to. They have more details and facts spread throughout the book, but they are presented in an older way. They are about a third to fourth grade reading level, but AJ still loves to read them.

March of the Penguin is a good video that has breath taking shots of the emperor penguin.

Penguins Book for Kids –  This is a fact filled picture book all about penguins.

This American Girl Sew and Stuff Penguin Kit looks like a lot of fun. We haven’t tried the penguin one yet, but AJ enjoyed  a few other ones. Make sure you keep all of the pieces together or you might end up loosing a vital piece.

Mix your love of penguins with even more science. In this crystal growing kit your child can grow a penguin crystal. We have grown quite a few crystal animals and objects and they are always a great learning experiment.

I hope you enjoy this study of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It is free for my subscribers. If you already are a subscriber you will find this printable study in your email. Haven’t subscribed yet? Enter your email below to get access to this and all of my other subscriber only printables.


 

 

6 Amazing Advent Resources

These advent resources will make your holiday a little brighter.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Even when I worked in retail, I always looked forward to the holiday season. I love the lights, the songs, the decorations, and the goodies. We love counting down the days until Christmas. Over the last few years our family has used a few different advent products. Some were simple books and others were full studies. Here are our favorites.

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Melk the Christmas Monkey

Melk is a monkey with a message! Melk visits your child each day and shares something about God’s love. (Think Elf on the Shelf but focused on God instead of behavior.)When you purchase the e book you get lessons to do with your child, instructions on how to pose Melk, printable letters from Melk, and instructions for crafts or activities that help explain the topic you are learning about.

Melk taught us a lot last year each day AJ couldn’t wait to see where Melk was hanging out, and what lesson he was going to teach her. All e books from Paradise Praises, including Melk the Christmas Monkey, will be 25% off on Cyber Monday.

Celebrate Jesus Light of the World

This amazing e book is packed full of Christmas fun! It includes daily Bible reading and activities along with copywork and recipes. This book is a fun way to count down the days until Christmas. It is a full advent study that is pretty much open and go. It includes daily Bible reading, copywork, and activities.

We used this a few years ago and had a great time. I am planning on using parts of this book again this year. If you are looking for a complete advent study that is simple and exciting, this is it.

Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World is a six week  geography based unit study for elementary aged student. It is a great way to continue with school work and Christmas fun at the same time. Throughout the study your child will learn about 30 different countries. This book includes information about each country, worksheets, crafts and activities.

Birth of Jesus from GrapeVine Bible Studies

We were blessed to review this just a few weeks ago, and I have become a fan of GrapeVine studies. The idea is simple, your child stick figures their way through the Bible and during that time they become more familiar with the Bible and the events that took place. Kids enjoy the lessons because they are able to draw. AJ was actually disappointed when the study was finished. If you are looking for a strictly Bible only study, this would be a great choice!

Through December this study will be 30% off.

Why We Give Gifts at Christmastime and Why I Give an Activity Book

This adorable children’s book explains the reason we give gifts for Christmas in a way that children can easily understand. The activity book has fun puzzles and games, it also includes numerous ideas for gifts that kids can make with just a little help from adults. I was very surprised by the quality of the gift ideas. AJ made quite a few of them the year we used it.

Countdown to Christmas

This is another fun children’s book. The book has a page for each day until Christmas. Each page introduces a new character or object that is important to the Christmas story. Each day you read the book from the beginning stopping after you read one new page. By the day before Christmas your child should be able to retell the entire Christmas story.

The back of the book comes with instructions of how to make a Christmas countdown tree that you can add to daily. This is a great choice for those with younger kids and those who are looking for a very quick book to read from each day.

We have used part or all of each study listed above and have found them to be a great addition to or Christmas fun.

What is your favorite advent related item?

 

 

Christian Heroes : Then and Now ~ Review

This year we are exploring the world of Narnia. We are reading through the Chronicles of Narnia and learning about the amazing author, C. S. Lewis. He lived a fascinating life. I have read quite a few books about C. S. Lewis and Narnia in the past few months as I create an amazing literature study for AJ. Until now, I hadn’t found a good biography for AJ to read.

CS LEWIS REVIEW

Then we were given the chance to review the book, C. S. Lewis Master Storyteller from YWAM Publishing. We also received the Unit Study Curriculum Guide. I thought it would be the perfect biography to help AJ learn more about one of my favorite authors.

C. S. Lewis Master Storyteller part of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series. This series is all about people who trusted God and made a difference.

C.S. Lewis was an amazing man, this is a wonderful biography for kids!

C. S. Lewis Master Storyteller is a 189 page soft covered book broken up into 17 chapters. It is well written and reads like a story more than an ordinary biography.  Unlike other books in the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, this book is written using an omniscient narrator and is not only told from one person’s viewpoint. I felt like we were given a good overview of what life was like for C. S. Lewis.

The book takes you from C. S. Lewis’ childhood, through his time as an atheist, and when he found God. You learn about his struggles, triumphs, successes, failures, and his writings.

The Unit Study Curriculum Guide goes perfectly with the book.

The Unit Study Curriculum Guide goes along wonderfully with the book. You just put the CD in your computer and the fun really begins. There is additional information about C. S. Lewis, questions to go along with the book, and a lot of supplemental ideas.

How We Used It

We started the book after we finished reading about half of The Magician’s Nephew. AJ had some basic knowledge about C. S. Lewis, but that was all. We started off reading about one chapter a day. The first chapter took a little to get through, but then we both really started enjoying the book. C. S. Lewis had a horrible childhood!

While this could have been used as her literature curriculum, we decided to just discuss the questions in the Curriculum Guide and to do a few of the activities. I appreciated that they give so many activity options to go along with the book. There were comprehension questions and open ended questions available for each chapter. There were creative writing activities, map activities, a timeline activity and a lot more. We really enjoyed learning about Ireland and England. We also found the Bible verses useful.

What We Thought

We both really enjoyed the book, and would like to read more books in the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series in the future. I think we would probably purchase the Unit Study Curriculum Guide for any book we decided to read as well. I love the variety of activities suggested and how it can be adapted to fit the needs of almost any family. It was the perfect biography for AJ to read.

One note though, if your child hasn’t read through the entire Narnia series (and they plan to), you may wish to skip parts of chapter 13, Chronicling Narnia. It gives away some of the story line for the books, especially The Magician’s Nephew. I read the chapter, but decided to wait to have AJ read it until she finishes the series. If you are looking for a great biography on C. S. Lewis, I would highly recommend this one!

YWAM Publishing Review
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7th Grade Curriculum

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We started 7th grade this week! AJ is officially a middle-schooler now. It seems like yesterday that I was teaching her to count and write letters, the time has sure flown by. We are making a few changes this year as I try to get her to become a little bit more independent. We are using a lot of products that I reviewed, a few I purchased used, and a few that I am making up. It may seem like a lot, but most subjects are not done daily. Some lessons are very short and others are included at her request. My main goals this year are to help her become more independent and improve her study skills, improve her writing, and to make sure she has a solid grasp on all of her major subjects. One resource that we will be using for a few different subjects is SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Here is our 7th grade Curriculum plan.

7th Grade Curriculum Plan 2015-2016

Math

We have been blessed to review quite a few online math programs over the last few months. AJ loves math and did well with all of them, but she has found a favorite – Unlock Math. We have been reviewing the pre algebra program and she will continue with it. So far it is complete enough that I don’t feel I need to supplement it at all. There is enough practice built in that I think by the time she is finished with it she will be ready for Algebra. I will have a full review in a few weeks, but if you are looking for a great way to help your student with pre algebra I would really check this out!

Science

We are going to study biology this year using Christian Kids Explore Biology. This is the first time we have used this science, but I think AJ will enjoy it. I plan on supplementing it with library books and videos from Visual Learning Systems. She loves science, so I am sure this course will go over well.

History

Last year my plan was to use Diana Warring’s history for 6th through 8th grade. We didn’t get as far along as I wanted last year, and I felt it was too much for AJ.  I think we will put off the rest of that curriculum for a few years and take a lighter approach to history this year. We are going with Home School in the Woods Middle Ages. We have been using it for a few weeks and AJ loves it! It is hands on and fun but most of the work is done for me. It will not last all year, if finances allow we will do the Renaissance and Reformation set from Home School in the Woods when we are finished. If that doesn’t work out, we will either revisit Roman History from Memoria Press or tackle the Renaissance and Reformation through unit studies. History is a little up in the air, but I know what we will be using for the first part of the year at least.

Geography

This year we will be focusing on European geography. She will be using the Geography Drawing Series. It is a simple approach that is a quick and easy part of her day.

Bible

For the first half of the year she will be working through the Teen Prasso. Once that is finished she will continue with year 1 of Bible Road Trip. Last year we got off track, but I would like for her to finish year 1 this year.

Spanish

AJ has practiced Spanish with a few different programs, but this year I wanted more. We will be using a few different resources to make a year long study. For a workbook approach we are using Instant Immersion Spanish. We are also using Fun Spanish Level 1 and a few fun apps.

Music

When we reviewed Easy Piano Basics, I was sure the novelty would wear off and she would want to quit practicing the piano in a few weeks. Surprisingly, that is not the case. She has been teaching herself songs and practicing without me saying a word! So she will continue to work through the lessons this year. She is also involved in the choir at church and has practice every week.

Art

Art has been lacking from our homeschool, so I decided that this year we were going to make more of an effort. For drawing practice she will be working through Draw and Write Through History. It will line up pretty well with our history study. For an actual art course we are going with Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool Art Cultures. It is just once a week, so I am hopeful that we will stick with it.

PE

We have never had to worry about PE since AJ was in gymnastics. Unfortunately, finances no longer allow gymnastics so we are making up our own curriculum. Until it is too cold to swim she will be working on different skills on the Red Cross skills list. She will be working her way through each level. Once it is too cold to swim she will be doing different exercise videos and practicing the skills needed to pass the California fitness test that she would take this year if she was in public school. She doesn’t have to take it, but I feel working on the skills that will be on the test will help keep us on track.

Language Arts

I left the hardest subject for last!

For writing she will be using Institute for Excellence in Writing B. It has been the first writing program to click with her.

For spelling we are sticking with Spelling You See Level F.

For grammar she will work through the Grammar Workbook – I will have a review of this soon. We will also use copywork from Homeschoolcopywork.com

For Handwriting she will finish Cursive Logic.

For Literature I am creating my own study for the Chronicles of Narnia. With each book we will learn about different literary elements. I will be sharing each study after we go through it. (That way I hope to catch any issues before I offer it to you. ) Once Narnia is finished we plan to read The Giver.

It looks like AJ will have a full year of learning! Do you have your plan for next year yet?

6th Grade Language Arts Recap

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I can’t believe AJ finished 6th grade this year. I saw a lot of growth in some areas, and hope for a few areas that she still is struggling with. Before I share our 7th grade curriculum plan, I want to share how her 6th grade year went.

I was blessed to join the School House Review Crew for the second half of our school year, so a lot of our plans changed, but I still think it was a wonderful year.

A recap of our 6th grade year - What worked and what didn't

6th Grade Reading

We didn’t use a premade 6th grade language arts program. The plan was to read 13 books, practice reading comprehension, literary elements, and gain a love of reading. To say I was over scheduling us is an understatement! AJ doesn’t like to read, but I was going to have her read 13 novels along with her other reading? We didn’t finish them all. She read:

In addition to those books she also had three from the Review Crew that she read.

She ended up reading 11 books in all. Most of them included book studies or lapbooks. We did a lot of comparison with movies and comparing different characters from the same author. I feel we really made progress with her reading this year. It has been a long road, but she no longer despises reading!

6th Grade Writing

Writing has been the most dreaded subject of all! But we had some big breakthroughs this year. Honestly for the first part of the year we didn’t focus on writing by itself. She wrote in every subject, but we didn’t practice writing. It brought tears, frustration, and irritability – and she didn’t like it either!

We focused on copywork quite a bit. It seemed to help with her spelling, penmanship, and writing. She started writing more on her own, but we needed more.

Thankfully, we were able to review a writing program from IEW. It was the perfect fit for AJ. She learned a lot from the lessons and seems to enjoy the writing process now!

6th Grade Grammar

The year started off with good intentions. I had a plan for grammar and this was going to be the year that we were strict with it. That didn’t happen. We finished the first 2 chapters in her grammar workbook and then took it in another direction. I figured she needed to understand writing before she tried to pick apart sentences.

She started working on Daily Grammar from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It was a simple approach that AJ enjoyed. The best part was that it was quick. Once she finished the level she was working on though, we quickly realized she needed more practice before she could move to the next level.

We reviewed a few different grammar programs over the last few months and I think I have found a good fit for us in a Grammar Workbook from Brookdale House|A Homeschool Curriculum Publisher

6th Grade Spelling and Vocabulary

The first part of the year I pulled spelling and vocabulary words from our reading. It worked fine, but when I was able to review Spelling You See she really began to flourish. Her spelling has improved quite a bit and I notice her fixing mistakes before I point them out.

I feel we had a rocky start with language arts this year, but we ended strong. AJ has improved in all aspects on language arts, and I look forward to a great 7th grade year!

 

 

7th Grade Reading List

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I can’t believe AJ is going to be in 7th grade this year! She is going to officially be in middle school. Middle school was when I really fell in love with books and I can’t wait for AJ to have the chance to read some of the amazing books that I did. Most of them will wait until 8th grade because I want to take her 7th grade year to fall in love with the world of Narnia. She hasn’t read any of the books or watched any of the movies so this will be her first visit into the magical world. 7th grade may seem a little old for Narnia, but we will be diving deep into each book, studying different literary elements, comparing and contrasting with different movie versions, and tracking character development over the books. Narnia has a lot to teach. We will also be reading my favorite book from 7th grade.

Here are some of the books I plan on having AJ read during the next school year.

  1. The Magician’s Nephew
  2. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe
  3. Horse and His Boy
  4. Prince Caspian
  5. Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  6. The Silver Chair
  7. The Last Battle
  8. The Giver – We will read the first book for sure, and possible the others.

Those books will be read with study guides (that I am making)  and really picked apart. The plan is to spend about a month on each book. We will also work on poetry from CS Lewis. I have others I want her to read, but realistically those 8 will probably be all that we get to.

She will be reading for at least 20 minutes a day on her own as well. Usually I let her pick whatever books she wants, but this year we will be changing that. I am sure her choices will be animal or mystery related, and will more than likely be at a lower reading level. I am fine with her reading any chapter book she picks, but this year her choice will be alternating with a book of my choice. Some of the books she will be reading on her own (no reports or anything required) are listed below.

  1. The Westing Game
  2. Bridge to Terabithia
  3. Indian in the Cupboard
  4. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
  5. Holes

She may read a few more novels, but I haven’t decided on those yet. I haven’t read 3 of the  books above, but I will read them before she does so that we can talk about them.

What is your Middle School Student reading this year?

FishFlix.com Review

Motivate Your Child Action Plan

Back in January I was given the amazing opportunity to review the book, Motivate Your Child a Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told. The book was great and gave me a lot of incite on AJ and on my parenting style. Recently I was given the chance to review a wonderful resource that goes along with the book, Motivate Your Child Action Plan. It is written by the same authors, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN – the founders of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

About Motivate Your Child Action Plan

Buy the Motivate Your Child Action Plan before May 31 2015 and get 25% off

The Motivate Your Child Action Plan is a 162 page soft covered book, broken up into 12 chapters. It is really a workbook to help you as the parent identify specific problems in your child and form a plan that is unique to your child. Throughout the book there are questions for you to think about and answer. In chapter 1 you are introduced to the 5 step plan that should help you to motivate your child in 40 days.

When I first read that change was expected in the first 40 days I was a little skeptical. As I continued to read I came to understand that the book wasn’t claiming to change AJ completely in 40 days, but to make improvements. Page 16 really says it best,  “It’s not about taking solutions from another family or finding an easy fix. This book is about developing a strategy for change.”

Chapter 2 has you figure out what character traits your child needs in order to grow in the area of their life that they are lacking. They may need honesty, responsibility, or respectfulness. There is a long list, but what I like is that your are not asked to only focus on the negative, but the positive as well.

Throughout the book you are instructed to have meetings with your child. I really like this approach because you are working with your child to help them change their heart.

Like Motivate Your Child a Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told, this book focuses on parenting to the heart and focusing on the conscience. Along with sound parenting advice and practical tips it is full of Biblical values and helpful verses.

There is so much to this book! Although the two books can be used separately, in my opinion they are really best used together. Throughout the Motivate Your Child Action Plan you are pointed to the chapter in Motivate Your Child a Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told that go with the section you are working on.

What Did I Think

I have not completed the 40 plan with AJ yet. This month has been really busy for us so I decided to wait to implement the plan completely. Even so, just reading the book and putting some of the advice into action has helped me a lot. I have noticed a lot of changes in AJ. She is more thoughtful, considerate, and honest, when she wants to be. She can be the best kid in the world and help me do the things that need to be done. There are days that she feeds the dog, puts away the dishes, does her school work willingly, and takes out the trash without being told. Then there are days I can tell her five times to take out the trash, and when she finally does it she doesn’t put a new bag in.

I am seeing progress, but I need to take the time and fully commit to the plan, not just take bits and pieces of it in order for it to work completely.

Coupon Code for $5 off of Motivate Your Child Action Plan

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely in a heart beat! I think it is full of wonderful advice, and numerous examples of families in different situations. I think that the two books together are really a great set to help motivate your child! If you are looking for a way to motivate your child, check out this book!

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