Classical Composition Sets ~ Review

Writing is a subject that AJ struggles with. We have tried quite a few different writing programs over the years, and while her writing has improved, she still struggles. I recently learned about a writing program from Memoria Press and I thought it would be a good fit for AJ. We were sent the first two levels of their program, Classical Composition I: Fable Set and Classical Composition II: Narrative Set.

Both Sets

The sets each include a Teacher Guide and a Student Guide that are both soft covered and spiral bound. They also include a set of DVDs that has a teacher who teaches the lessons to your student. Each set is color coded so it is simple to see which books and DVD set go together.

The program is designed for students in grades 4-12. Everyone who uses the program starts with the Fable level. Depending on the grade level your student is in when they start, they should complete either one or two books in a school year. We were given a set of lesson plans to follow so that AJ could finish the first two levels in one school year.

The Fable Level

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

In the Fable level there are 20 lessons. Each lesson is broken down into 8 parts.

The Fable

In this part of the lesson the student reads the fable and goes over any difficult vocabulary. Then they give examples of Recognition, Reversal, and Suffering in the fable. Each of those plot components are explained to the student in the beginning of the book, and on the DVD.

Variations Part I

This section has the student list synonyms for some of the words in the fable. Then they have to rewrite sentences changing either the word choice, word order, or both.

Outline

The student creates an outline that summarizes the fable.

Narration

The student narrates the fable either verbally or in writing with out looking at the fable or their outline.

Paraphrase I

In this section the student rewrites the fable and makes changes according to the directions. They may need to describe a character in more detail, or describe the setting. Each fable they will have a little different instructions.

Paraphrase II

This section has the student paraphrase the story again. But this time they change the sequence of events.

Variations II

The students do the same exercise from variations I, but they use two new sentences.

Final Draft

The students pick either of the paraphrases that they wrote and they correct them and write a final draft.

Narrative Set

Classical Composition II: Narrative Set

This set is set up very similarly to the fable set. It also has 20 lessons that are broken into 8 steps. The main difference between the two is that the students are looking for 9 components in each narrative instead of three. Each of the other sections has the student doing the same type of exercise as the fable level.

The Teacher Guides

The Teacher Guides are extremely helpful. They give step by step instructions, vocabulary definitions, and completed student pages. They have everything you need if you want to teach the lessons without the DVD or if your student isn’t understanding something.

The DVD Lessons

With the DVD you don’t need to teach. The teacher on the DVD reads the selection to your student, explains vocabulary, and tells them what they need to do. They just pop the DVD in and follow the directions. This was very helpful for AJ. She didn’t need to wait for me and the teacher was interesting to watch. She was able to work more independently with the DVD. The only thing I didn’t like was that when she went back on the third or fourth day, she would have to fast forward to be at the correct place on the DVD. I wish that there was a separate part on the menu for each section of the lesson, not just each lesson. But it was something that we just made work.

How We Used It

Some days AJ would use the program independently and other times I would sit and watch it with her. Aside from the paraphrase lessons and the final draft, each lesson section took about 20 minutes for her to finish. The others took longer depending on her attitude about writing for the day. This is something I am having her stick with for next school year. I am excited to see her improvements in writing.

What We Thought

The DVD was the perfect fit for AJ. So far she has enjoyed this program. The lessons are short but meaningful, and she is learning different writing techniques. We have tried a few products from Memoria Press in the past. Some have been a hit and others were not a good fit for us because we are not classical homeschoolers. But this seems like a great fit. AJ is engaged, and producing a better quality of writing.

If you want to improve your student’s writing, check out the Classical Composition Sets! See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking the graphic below.

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}
 

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Home School Navigator ~ Review

For the past few weeks AJ has been working on the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum. The curriculum is divided into levels based on the colors of the rainbow with red being the easiest and indigo being the most difficult. AJ used the indigo level from Home School Navigator. The program is a little below her skill level since she is in high school, but we focused on the interactive notebooks portion of their program.

Home School Navigator

What is Home School Navigator?

The Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum takes the guess work out of planning. It is an online program that has everything your child should be doing each day all planned out for you. It uses online videos, worksheets, and more to ensure your child practices a variety of skills. While each level is a little different, they cover basically the same topics.

In the indigo level your student will have work in the following areas:

Read Aloud

Listening to books being read aloud is an important skill even for older students. Each day there is a book listed that the student should listen to. Most of the books can be easily found at the library, but we found all three of the books (Each book is used for a few days) on YouTube. AJ was able to listen to someone read the book to her each day, and I didn’t have to search for it at the library. It worked well.

Reading Skills Practice

This usually involves a short video where the student learns a new skill and is then instructed to practice that skill in a book that they are reading on their own.

Literature / Comprehension

In this section the student completes different activities based on the book they are reading. There are numerous activities ranging form finding the name of the author and publisher on the book, to discussing the story with their parent, to completing character sketches on different characters.

Writing /Grammar

This section is fairly laid back in the beginning. The student is instructed to write for 20 minutes most days. Sometimes they will have a topic other times it is up to them. Some days they may be asked to find all of a specific part of speech in the book they are reading and list the words. Other times they are told to look at their previous writing and to make adjustments to it. Later in the level they write stories and have more structured writing.

Word Study / Vocabulary

In the indigo level the student works on different word roots. In month 4 week 1 the root work is “cent” the student has vocabulary words that all use that root word. Each day they do a different activity with the words. Some of the activities include matching the definitions, writing sentences, playing games, and taking quizzes.

Computer Skills

The student is instructed to practice some type of skill. The indigo level seems to focus on typing skills and using various programs on the computer. They may be instructed to practice their keyboarding skills, or type their vocabulary sentences.

Poetry

This section introduces your student to different poets and types of poems. Often they will be asked to find the rhyme scheme of a poem or to try to decide what a poem is about.

Independent Reading

This section either has your student reading a book of their own choosing, a recommended book, or has them complete an interactive notebook. There are four interactive notebooks in the indigo level; Holes, Number the Stars, A Single Shard, and Tuck Everlasting.

Each day the student will have assignments in some of the areas listed above. Sometimes they will have just four or five assignments while other days they have eight. The best part is that you decide what you want your student to do.

What We Thought

The program is planned out very well, and aside from the books, paper, scissors and glue, it includes almost everything you need to give your student a solid year of learning. It is perfect for the homeschooler who wants things planned out for them, but wants some wiggle room as well. The lessons are short and to the point and lets the student learn at a nice pace. It is well organized and easy to find what you need. There is even the option to scan you child’s work into the system for easy record keeping. I would highly recommend this program!

The Interactive Notebooks

While the interactive notebooks are part of the program, they are also available to purchase separately. Since AJ has already read Holes, we decided to start with the second book available in the indigo level, Number the Stars.

An interactive notebook is basically like a lapbook for older students that is done in a spiral notebook. Once you download the file, you print it out. Your student cuts out the different pieces and glues them into their spiral notebook. Then as they read they answer questions about the book.

The interactive notebook for Number the Stars is 20 pages long. The student starts with some pre-reading activities where they find and color Denmark on a map and fill out a char with some basic information on the Holocaust and World War 2.

Then there are some vocabulary words for the student to define. Up next is the reading. For this book the student is assigned about four chapters at a time to read, then they have questions to answer. Questions range from simple comprehension questions, to opinions, to more advanced things like foreshadowing and themes in the book.

The more advanced literary terms are defined for the student and explained very well. The student also puts the definitions in their notebooks.

At the end there is a detailed answer key.

Since this book covers a difficult topic I read it along side of AJ. She was able to complete the interactive notebook on her own. It lead to some good discussions. Aside from the cutting and gluing, each section took about an hour to complete including the reading.

What We Thought

I love when learning can be hands on. The interactive notebooks add an element of fun that a simple book report or worksheet can’t. I was very surprised by the content in the interactive notebooks. I was expecting simple comprehension questions, but these go way further. By the time the students get to the final book they are looking at symbolism and metaphors in the book. These interactive notebooks are very well thought out and AJ will be finishing the other two that are available in the level. I wish that Home School Navigator made interactive notebooks for more advanced books. I would buy them in a heartbeat.

If you are looking for a solid language arts program, check out the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum and their Interactive Notebooks. I was very impressed with how well done the program is.

Find out what other members of the homeschool review crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}
 

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Carole P. Roman Book Review

We have had the chance to review a few Carole P. Roman books in the past. They are great resources to learn more about other cultures and different parts of the world. I was excited to have a chance to check out four more books. We picked, If You Were Me and Lived in… the Mayan Empire and If You Were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire. We were also blessed with two mystery books. The books we received were, If You Were Me and Lived in… Scotland and Being A Captain is Hard Work.

If You Were Me and Lived in… the Mayan Empire

Books by Carole P Roman
If You Were Me and Lived in… the Mayan Empire is a 64 page book that is packed full of information. There is information about almost every aspect of Mayan life. It even includes maps of the area. The book talks about daily life of the Mayan people, how they built their homes, what they wore, what they ate, and their religious beliefs. It also talks about the Mayan definition of beauty and how parents would shape their baby’s heads and make them cross eyed.

The end of the book talks about the contributions that the Mayan people made to the world. Did you know that they invented the concept of zero? This book gives a great overview of the Mayan Civilization!

If You Were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire

Books by Carole P Roman
If You Were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire is a 77 page book. This book has smaller writing than the others and contains quite a bit more detail. It is set up the same way as the Mayan book, but this one talks more about the history of Mali and the king. It gives a great overview of the country and the history.

If You Were Me and Lived in… Scotland

Books by Carole P Roman
If You Were Me and Lived in… Scotland is part of a series that introduces kids to different cultures around the world. It is a 30 page soft covered book. Each page is full of color and there are plenty of illustrations. The back of the book has a section on pronunciation and definitions for unfamiliar words. The book is written in a friendly tone and introduces kids to what life in Scotland would really be like.

The book gives basic information about family life, food, and clothing. There are quite a few interesting facts thrown in as well. Did you know the unicorn is the official animal of Scotland? This book is a great starting point to help your child become more familiar with other parts of the world, but it doesn’t contain near as much information as the first two books.

Being A Captain is Hard Work

Books by Carole P Roman
Being A Captain is Hard Work is part of the Captain No Beard Series. The captain and his crew are setting sail for Dew Rite Volcano. The crew thinks that the clouds indicate bad weather, but the captain thinks they are wrong. He is the captain and thinks that he knows everything. The crew sets sail and ends up in trouble. The captain learns that his crew is there to help him and that no one knows everything. It is a simple cute story that teaches a valuable message. One cool thing about this book is that there is a list of different cloud types at the back of the book. This would be a great addition to a study on clouds or weather.

How We Used the Books

AJ is studying world geography this year and these books will make a great addition. Currently she is learning about the Middle East. The book on Mali has been a great supplement. I plan to have her read the other books as she studies those parts of the world. The Captain No Beard book is a just for fun book. She is well above the audience level for the book. She read it, but will be passing it along to a younger reader.

What We Thought

These books did not disappoint. They let your child learn about other countries and cultures in a fun way. The language is easy for kids to understand. There are beautiful illustrations in each book. I would highly recommend them to anyone learning about other areas of the world.

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

Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}
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A Journey Through Learning Lapbook ~ Review

Last year our plan was to have AJ study modern history. Over the years we have focused a lot on the American Revolution, the Western Expansion, and the Civil War. We have also studied the earlier time periods. Our plan started off well, but soon rabbit trails led us in other directions. She started high school this year, so I wanted her to have at least a basic understanding of the history of the 20th century. When we were given the chance to review An Overview of the 20th Century from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks I knew that it would be a perfect fit. AJ loves creating lapbooks, and the ones from A Journey Through Learning have always been a hit in the past. We have used a quite a few of their lapbooks and other resources. Our favorite was the Prairie Primer Binder Builder.

What Makes A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Amazing?

A Journey Through Learning
When you purchase a lapbook from A Journey Through Learning you know you are getting quality. They take the time to make the process of putting the lapbook together as simple as possible. They include step by step instructions on how to create the lapbook and all of the mini books that go inside. There are even pictures that show exactly where each mini book needs to be glued.

A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks are fun and easy to use!

The lapbooks are flexible and easy to customize to fit your student. All of the lapbook that we have completed have come with a study guide about the topic. If you are looking for a quick study, your student can simply read through the study guide and complete the mini books. But you can also stretch the study and go deeper in-depth by adding in books, videos, and other information on the topic. There are sheets included so that the student can keep all of their research together. This lapbook also includes optional worksheets that the student can fill out for a biographical book report and a war study.

About the An Overview of the 20th Century lapbook

Overview of 20th Century Lapbook with Study Guide
This lapbook is geared for kids in grades 2 through 7, but older students could use it as well. It is 72 pages and makes a three folder lapbook. The student will complete 23 mini books focusing on people and events from the 20th century. The mini books include a variety of activities like; labeling, answering questions, coloring maps, drawing flags, a word search, a cross word puzzle, copywork, and defining vocabulary.

After completing this lapbook your student will have a basic understanding of the wars, famous inventions, and the people who changed history in the 20th century.

How We Used An Overview of the 20th Century

Since we were just looking for a quick overview, I just printed everything out and gave AJ one topic each day. She would read through the information and complete the mini book. Some days she would look the topic up online to learn a little bit more information. It was a simple addition to her day that didn’t take very long. She is above the recommended age, so a few of the mini books seemed babyish to her, but overall she enjoyed them.

This study could easily be stretched out for at least a semester. If I would have had it last year I would have used the lapbook as a base and I would have added in both fiction and nonfiction books on the topics for her to read. It could be turned into a great unit study. But I also like that I didn’t have to do that. I could simply print and go, knowing she was learning.

What We Thought

We were very pleased with the lapbook. The study guide had enough information that AJ could learn the basics on her own. It was easy to use and the directions make putting the lapbook together simple. We have enjoyed every lapbook that we have tried from A Journey Through Learning. I plan to add in more of their lapbooks as we study other concepts in the future.

If you are looking for a hands on way for your student to learn history, science, Bible, or almost any topic, lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning might be exactly what you are looking for. Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew though by clicking on the graphic below!

Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}
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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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It’s Okay if Your Child is Average

Sometimes when people find out that AJ is homeschooled, they expect her to be brilliant. It is almost like there is a stereotype that homeschooled kids are either far behind their public schooled peers or that they are mini geniuses.  It is easy to get caught in a comparison trap, even if you are just comparing to an unrealistic ideal. In the beginning I would feel like I wasn’t doing enough with her because she was just average. She doesn’t know Latin and isn’t going to be on Jeopardy any time soon. She has subjects that she excels in and subjects that she struggles with.  But, that is okay!

Coming to peace with the fact that she doesn’t have to compare to anyone else has made our homeschooling journey go a lot smoother. Part of the reason I brought her home was to give her the best education possible. That means doing what is right for her, not what works for others.

As I prepared for her freshman year of high school I knew I needed to keep her strengths and weaknesses in mind. She struggles with writing and vocabulary so I knew that a College Prep English class was out of the question. She needed something that would push her and help her grow, but not set her up for failure. On the other hand, for math she needed something that moved quickly because she finds the subject easy.

As we picked courses for AJ one thing we kept in mind was her end goals. After high school she wants to become a veterinarian technician and then go to school to be come a veterinarian while working in the field. Of course we know that this dream can change, but it has been her goal for a while now. She will need a lot of math and science courses to fulfil her goal. Thankfully those are her two favorite subjects. She will need to be able to read and write well, but analyzing books and poetry probably isn’t something that she will find very useful.

It's Okay if Your Child is Average

Our plan is to expose her to the subjects her peers in public school take so that she knows the basics. She will write some essays and analyze a few books each year. But we plan to really dig deeper into the topics that she enjoys and the topics that will get her closer to her end goal of working with animals. Instead of pushing creative writing, which she really dislikes, we will work on reports and basic writing. Instead of using only fiction books for English, we will add in plenty of non fiction ones.

That is the beauty of homeschooling. You get to tailor your child’s education to their needs. Don’t stress out about what everyone else is doing. If you are raising the next Einstein, that is great. If your child is average and struggles with some things, that is okay too! As long as your child is growing and learning, that is what matters. Don’t get caught in a comparison trap.

I will be sharing our choices for the 2017 school year soon. I think AJ and I will both learn a lot.

Have you decided what courses your child will be studying next year?

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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Educeri ~ Review

We are always looking for new ways to help AJ learn, so we were excited to have the chance to review Educeri Lesson Subscription Service from Educeri …….  Educeri a division of DataWORKS .

What is Educeri?

Educeri is an online based program designed to help teachers teach specific learning objectives to their students. There are currently 1108 lessons and resources for kindergarten through high school levels. The majority of the lessons cover math and language arts topics, but there are other lessons available depending on the grade level. When you subscribe to Educeri you are given access to all of the lessons and resources.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews
In addition to math and language arts there are, 21 Science lessons which are mainly for middle school students and 26 History lessons mainly for grades five and up. There is also one lesson in Art, Music, PE, and Spanish.

The site is set up so you can search for your desired grade level or subject. You can also search by the concept that you want to teach.

For all of the Math and Language Arts lessons there are downloadable student handouts that you can print off for your student. Your student works on the handout while you are teaching them the lesson. Then they complete some independent work after the lesson is completed.

How We Used Educeri

When I logged onto the site I decided to simply go to the 8th grade section. I found 73 lessons and resources for the 8th grade level. I was surprised to see that the 8th grade section also had a few different history lessons. Since we are not using a complete Language Arts program this year, I decided to check out the Language Arts lessons first.

There were lessons covering:

Analyzing Analogies

Symbolism

Analyzing Themes in Literature

Literary Devices

Analyzing Conflicting Viewpoints

Writing

Grammar and

Vocabulary

One of the lessons AJ worked on was on Idioms. I decided not to print off the student hand outs, instead we discussed the information.

When I clicked to teach the lesson I the first page lists the objective of the lesson and the prior knowledge that students should know about the topic. The following slide went on to explain the difference and give a few examples of literal and figurative language.

educeri-review-1

Then there is guided practice. The answers are all blank and then as you click the mouse answers are revealed. There is a highlighting and pen tool to use so you can interact with the lesson. Once the guided practice is finished there is a section about the relevance of the skill and then a review of how to use the skill. The lesson ends with the independent practice. In this section the answers are again blank, and with each click of the mouse an answer is revealed.

I decided to spread the lessons out over a few days. One day we would introduce the concept and do the guided practice. Then another day we would go over the relevance of the skill and how to use it. At the end of the week I would have her do the independent work.

I feel that she learned some new skills through this review. We mainly used the Language Arts lessons, but she did use a few of the math lessons.

What We Thought About Educeri

While I felt AJ learned a few new skills, I felt that this product was much more than we needed in our homeschool setting. There was a lot of focus on objectives and how each skill would help the student preform better on tests. In a school setting where they have to stick to standard based learning, this would be perfect. I just felt it was a little over kill.

AJ thought that the lessons took too long and didn’t like that a single part of the answer would be revealed at a time. She didn’t like the way that math was taught and felt that there was a lot of unneeded steps when she could easily figure out problems. A lot of this has to do with the fact that the lessons are common core aligned, and it is not at all what she was use to.

I see this product being a better fit in a group setting. Since we do so much one on one learning, the set up of the lessons was just not the right fit for us. In the future I think I will just print of the hand outs for her and teach her off of them.

If you want to ensure that your child is learning all of the skills that their peers in public school are learning, then this might be exactly what you are looking for. The best part is that you can try it out for 30 days risk free! See if it is something that will work for your family.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service
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