Friday, August 31, 2012

Golden Prairie Press: Uncovering Exciting History Schoolhouse Review Crew 2012

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   Finding History to study with my boys is sometimes a challenge, as I want to make sure that the History we are studying is both based on fact and our beliefs as a Christians. As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew we were given the choice of one of 4 books by Golden Prairie Press and the Author Amy Puetz. We chose Uncovering Exciting History, we were intrigued as Amy is not only the author of the book we chose, but the owner of the Golden Prairie Press company, but she is also a homeschool graduate who just happens to love history so much that she wanted to help parents like me teach History with a worldview approach.
     My kids are always fascinated to learn more about homeschooled successful individuals as well as anything to do with History that is written with a Christian at heart. We enjoy reading about how our world came to be and the characters within the stories. I was sent the E-Book version of our book choice and as always sent it straight to the Kindle for easy on the go reading. There are 29 easy to read chapters in this book rich in Christian History. I liked that we could choose our starting point there is no right or wrong way to go about reading the book. You can go in order if you so choose but there is no need to if a certain chapter pops out at you and just screams "read me first". This is what happened with us, as we flipped through the books pages to get a feel for the layout and the reading one chapter seem to jump out and grab us. This chapter was number 18 The Pony Express Uniting the East and West. My boys are so into this era right now and how the "mail" service started here in America. My boys love getting mail and often talk about how amazing it is how you can get something from one place to another in such a short time these days, and it often leads us into talking about how it took so long in the good old days but that the era of The Pony Express helped speed up this process and was the next step in the mail service process after the telegram.  The boys are often amazed at what the carriers had to endure and how much it cost to get something to someone.

   The chapters are not too long and get straight to the point in a fun, engaging way. Once the reading stops your journey is far from over. At the end of each chapter there is a section which turned out to be the boys favorite part of each of the stories called Digging Deeper notes. Some thought provoking questions that get you thinking about what you just read and also some outside of the box fun activities that build upon what you read about. Such activities as making a timeline of the Pony Express, reading other books that went into the story a little deeper, using a map to plot the routes of the Pony Express. Each chapter has different Digging Deeper activities, the ones I have shared with you are that of the ones that are  unique to the chapter of that tells the tale of The Pony Express.

   I feel that the way this book is set up you can use it in whichever manner fits best within your curriculum. Picking and choosing the chapters you work on that fit within your studies, or by going through the book chapter by chapter. It seems to be very flexible. I would not use it as stand alone curriculum, but as a wonderful enhancement to your solid curriculum choice already in place. This is however my opinion. This book is geared to students 12 or older or as a read aloud with younger children or learning for the whole family. You can chose the print version which is on sale right now for $15.16 or in your choice of several E-Book formats on sale for $11.96, great for Kindle or Nook readers as well as on your tablet or PC in pdf format. We plan to continue using this book as it fits in with our History lessons as we go through the year. I think it is a wonderful enhancement to our curriculum. There are many other titles available by Golden Prairie Press and Amy Puetz, be sure to check out the reviews from The Schoolhouse Review Crew by clicking the banner below to see which titles were chosen and the crew's thoughts on their choices. Be sure to take advantage of the Back to School Sale being offered by Golden Prairie Press from now until September 1st to take advantage of the sale prices mentioned above.


Disclaimer: As a member of the The Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine

Monday, August 27, 2012

Time4Writing Middle School Mechanics TOS Crew Review 2012

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  As we start High School with Alyx this Fall, I was still worried about his lack of writing skills, and no matter how hard I try he just isn't where I would hope he would be at this point. I know some of it is due to his disabilities but I want him to be successful no matter what. I will keep on trying until he "gets it".  I was given the opportunity to review Time4Writing.com and online 8 week writing course that is taught by an online teacher and is one on one, something that the Alyx thrives on. We used the Middle School Mechanics course to strengthen the skills he already has and build upon them. I did not want to overwhelm him and start him at a higher level. He seems to do better when you go a little under his ability so he feels he has mastered something and then move on from there.

      Middle School Mechanics touches on all of the stepping stones of a good foundation to be a great writer. Each week's lessons focus on a different element of writing. This is a great pace for Alyx as it is not throwing a ton of things at him all at once, he was not so overwhelmed as he was with other programs we have tried in the past. He got paired with his teacher and he was so pleased that he could email her and communicate any questions or issues at any given time. Logging in and setting up the course was super simple and getting started was just as easy. Alyx liked being in the driver's seat of this course. He chose when he wanted to work on his writing assignments and he simply submitted them through the interface on the computer for Time 4 Writing and then eagerly waited for feedback from his teacher.

   Alyx does so well with positive reinforcement so I was worried that the teacher would be too critical of his work and he would feel defeated, but this was not the case at all. His assignments were graded within the day usually and were not overly critical and he was always able to go back and fix his errors and resubmit them for feedback. He enjoyed working at his own pace and I feel he really gained some ground in his writing abilities and will start High School with a more confident and positive attitude about writing. He is just over half way through the course and is plugging along quite nicely. I enjoyed getting his mid course review emailed to me and was pleased to see what progress he has made.

   Here is the syllabus for the Middle School Mechanics course, you will see how it flows well and does not move to quickly as to overwhelm the student, taking time to focus on one key point a week.

Unit 1 – The Sentence, The Fragment, and The Run-on

By the end of the first unit, the students will be able to differentiate between complete, fragment and run on sentences and use this knowledge to write their own proper sentences.

Unit 2 – Nouns, Nouns, and More Nouns!

By the end of the second unit, the students will be able to form the plural and possessive forms of nouns.

Week/Unit 3 – Subjects of a Sentence

By the end of the third unit, the students will be able to identify and use the simple and complete subjects of a sentence.

Week/Unit 4 – Predicates of a Sentence

By the end of the fourth unit, the students will be able to identify the simple and complete predicates of a sentence.

Unit 5 – Subject – Verb Agreement in a Sentence

By the end of the fifth unit, the students will be able to make common subjects and verbs agree.

Unit 6 – “Tricky” Subject – Verb Agreement

By the end of the sixth unit, the students will be able to make tricky subjects and verbs agree.

Unit 7 – Capitalization

By the end of the seventh unit, the students will be able to correctly capitalize words both individually and within sentences.

Unit 8 – Sum it ALL UP!

By the end of the eighth unit, the students will be able to demonstrate mastery of writing proper sentences, making subjects and verbs agree, and using correct capitalization rules. The students will also proofread their own writing to check for and correct any errors in these areas.

  There are many different levels for each age group, and Time4Writing is very helpful on making sure you choose the best fit for your student/students. I am glad we started with the beginning foundations and feel confident if we proceed with this program that Alyx will continue to make improvements and be at grade level in no time.

          Time4Writing.com offers many options for grade levels from Elementary to High School, they even offer a placement guide if you are unsure of where to start off.  Each level is an 8 week interactive course that runs $99  There are even free valuable resources offered on their website as well. You don't want to miss out on those so be sure to take a look. There were 45 Schoolhouse Review Crew Members given the opportunity to review Time 4 Writing and each were able to choose the appropriate course for their children, so be sure to click the banner below and see what they had to say about the program they chose to use.


Disclaimer: As a member of the The Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine

Friday, August 24, 2012

Christian Liberty Press Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers TOS Crew Review 2012

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 We have been reading a ton this Summer, the boys have all been reading for pleasure, which in turn pleases me! I was excited when I was chosen as part of The  Schoolhouse Review Crew to have the opportunity to review an e-book from Christian Liberty Press.  Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is the first book in the series of four Written by Douglas Bond. We received the book in PDF format and transferred it to our Kindle Fire. The boys like to read but especially on the Kindle Fire and it is easier to take on the go. The book is geared for students in 7th -10th grades but I feel it is appropriate for younger children if it is read to them and for older kids and adults as well.

       Christian Liberty Press is the publishing division of Christian Liberty Academic School System, which publishes quality educational materials to homeschools and Christian schools across the country and world. They have been doing so for over 25 years. So I knew that I could trust the content of this book right from the start and not have to preview it ahead of my boys. The book is well over 200 pages in length and is broken up into 12 chapters. The chapters are quite lengthy and we felt the need to break them down into a half chapter a day. The beginning of the book is a bit draggy but does pick up and as we followed the two American teens on their journey through England we enjoyed "meeting" the people they came into contact with, one of which was Mr. Pipes and elderly gentlemen who took the children on an adventure learning all about the British Hymn makers through History.  I was fascinated by how the Gospel and fiction were intertwined into the story. Each chapter focuses on a different writer of Hymns and tells of the history of the era in which they wrote Hymns. We were all intrigued by the history of the hymns we have grown to love and how each came about. It was not easy in some points in time to have faith and we learned more about that as well.  I loved that at the end of each chapter there was the music and score for a hymn written by the person we learned about in the chapter.
Here are the main hymn writers we read about...
Thomas Ken
Isaac Watts
Charles Wesley
William Williams
John Newton
William Cowper
Augustus Toplady
Thomas Kelly
John Bunyan

    These are just the highlights of the book, there is so much more to discover but you will have to read it to find out, if I told you everything about the book there would be no point in you reading it yourself, now would there? You can purchase the e-book format from Christian Liberty Press for $8.79, there is also a print version if that is more to your liking for $9.89. You are also able to purchase the complete 4 book set for $38.99. You can purchase of all of the books straight from www.shopchristianliberty.com

 We are considering the complete set to add to our reading for the school year, these fit well with both History and Bible curriculum studies. We found them to be an easy read although like I said the chapters are a bit lengthy, but you can easily complete the book in a couple weeks and opens the door for many discussion opportunities. If you and your family love singing hymns or are a musical family than this is a must have book for you. You can see a glimpse inside the book by visiting the sample. Be sure to check out all of The Schoolhouse Review for Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, you can get to them by clicking the banner below,  and then head over to Christian Liberty Press and pick up your own copy and get lost in the adventure of learning about the history of the hymns and their writers.


Disclaimer: As a member of the The Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apologia: I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist TOS Crew Review 2012

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    Well it is no secret that Apologia is swiftly becoming my Go To Curriculum for our Bible studies and Science. There is  no question why they are such a well known company in the homeschool world. The boys and I have had several opportunities to review materials from Apologia this past year you can look for my reviews on several books from their What We Believe Series under the TOS tab. Recently we were presented with the opportunity to review the latest publication from Apologia's world view curriculum, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek.   I have to say the title alone intrigued me to no end. I was so honored when we were once again chosen to review for this trusted company.

          Have you ever questioned why you believe what you believe? Have you ever been questioned by a non believer and not really been able to justify your convictions? What about when it comes to your kids, especially high school aged students? Do they believe but often not know how to express why they believe what they believe? Our family dynamics often lead to these discussions over dinner. Having one high school aged child still attending public school makes from some pretty heated discussions, as much to my dismay he is often influenced by his peers that may not be Christians, and then you have that sticky situation of not being able to "talk" God in the schools. I do not want my children to be ashamed of their Christianity and I most certainly want them to be able to BOLDY stand up for their religious beliefs and freedom. I myself often find it hard to express my beliefs to those that have questions about my religion. I want to be confident in my expressions of my Faith!

     I never have to worry with Apologia about reading the content ahead of time. They are always dead on when they set age guidelines for their studies. This book and additional accompanying workbook is intended for High School aged children. I myself think every Christian adult should read and study this we well. I started this with my oldest son and my middle son they are entering 11th and 9th grades respectively. I chose to leave my soon to be 8th grader out of this one, it is a bit deeper than most of the books we have gone through from Apologia and his maturity level is just not there. Maybe in the future we will revisit this again and include him at that time. Everyone should always use their best judgement when choosing curriculum for their students. Recommended age guidelines do not always match up with maturity and development. This is another reason I love homeschooling. I get to choose what my kids study and also make the informed choice when I do not think something is appropriate for their developmental stage in life.

                 I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist  sells for $16.00 the content is shown below. Now by itself this book is a must read, cannot put it down until I am finished kind of book. You will want to read it more than once I am sure. I know I read it through once on my own and then we broke it into chapters and used the additional workbook that can be purchased for $33.00. Now you might think that this is a little steep in price for a workbook. Well that is where you are wrong. This is a 300 page spiral bound book that adds even more depth, if that is even possible to an already fulfilling read. The workbook takes each chapter and delves into the thought process beyond the words we read. Makes you think, really think about what you read and what you really have to say about your Faith.
We were fascinated to learn more about the 3 worldviews. I think this was a great starting point for Nick as it will help him when he is faced with questions from his peers. He will not only be able to state his viewpoint, but add supporting thoughts about WHY he chose the viewpoint he has. It is one thing to say you believe what you believe, it is a whole other level to be able to stand up for what you believe and be able to share with others the WHY! Anyone can say they are a Christian, but do you know why you are? This book is a must read for all Christians and non believers alike. If you can stand up and say why you believe what you believe, especially after reading this book and working through the workbook to strengthen that. Then shouldn't non believers read it too so they can why they do not believe the same as you? There is definitely food for thought in this curriculum.

As I stated I read the book through myself first and then we dove into it together the way the curriculum intends. Chapter by chapter, now they recommend doing a chapter ever 2-3 weeks. We chose to read a chapter one week and then reread it and work on the workbook pages that support that chapter the next week. This is a comfortable steady pace and will allow you to complete the book in the school year without feeling rushed. We are just barely getting started with this while using this format, but we are moving along quite nicely.  This book will strengthen all the holes you may have in your Faith while allowing you to have the strength to shatter the non believers belief and show them the light. I want my kids to be able to confidently share their Faith with all they meet and to help the lost see the way. I do not want non believers to shake our Faith. This book helps with that and so much more. 

      The workbook is set up in this manner...
  • Before Starting This Chapter (with reading assignment)
  • Key Topics
  • Key Terms
  • Road Map
Each chapter is set divided into 4 sections in the workbook, you are presented with important people and topics of each chapter are further expanded upon. I loved the way they workbook was set up, easy to follow, and helpful to strengthen and build upon what was learned in that chapter.
  • Hook – Review Topic & Warm Up Your Brain
  • Book – Unpacks the Topics of the Book
  • Look – Research Assignments & Suggested Activities
  • Took – Summary & Application

 This is a solid Bible Curriculum that can be used for a high school credit and we are looking forward to finishing this up this year and learning more about why we chose our Faith and how we can convey that more to others with pride and conviction.  I highly recommend this book and I know there are some people on my gift list that will be getting a copy soon. This would make a great gift for any Christian but especially new believers.

  Human Nature is for all people to have their own opinion and beliefs, that is what makes us unique. Life would be pretty boring if we all believed the same thing in the same way. Be sure to check out the Schoolhouse Review Crews Reviews for I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,  I am sure we all have a different outlook on this book as it was very thought provoking. I am not even sure I can fully express myself on this book yet. My thoughts grow more everytime I read another chapter again.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

VocabularySpellingCity TOS Crew Review 2012

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   What do you do for your kids spelling and vocabulary curriculum? I know in the past I have just googled spelling lists appropriate for my kid's grade level. This year I was hoping to find a true spelling program, and low and behold I found one! I was chosen to review an online spelling program called VocabularySpellingCity.com, myself and many others were chosen to review this program as part of The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

          English has to be my kids least favorite subject and I find that hard because it is one of my favorites. We have ongoing battles when it is time to sit down and do anything related to English, this means grammar, vocabulary and spelling among other things. I was pleased to find an online program that puts some fun into these tasks that just have to be tackled. We were given a one year premium homeschool subscription to VocabularySpellingCity.com, this allows me to add up to 5 homeschooled children for only $29.99 a year. The subscription comes with so many benefits, it really surprised me, I was thinking it was just for spelling but offers so much more.
The benefits include...

   Premium Membership
With so many free uses, you probably wonder:
Why pay for Premium?
Individual Student Logins
Student assignments,
records for each student useful for IEPs & transcripts,
no paperwork saves time!
Premium Learning Activities
Engagement in learning
No Advertisements
No distractions
Grouping Students
& Lists
Simplified differentiated instruction

    Like I said it is not just spelling, this program uses fun and games to teach parts of speech, synonyms and antonyms, definitions and vocabulary as well as handwriting practice. There are printable worksheets, tests and also interactive flashcards. In the past I would google our spelling words or use vocab picked from our curriculum and would sometimes make a crossword or word search but the rest of the tasks proved to be pretty redundant. Needless to say it was stale. My kids have been dreading that part of school for this upcoming school year but now they are excited to have some fresh new content and it is fun to complete the work. They each have their favorite game, for Taylor it is speedy speller and for Alyx  it is word-o-rama. There is something for everyone with this program as it is geared for three different age ranges, elementary, middle school and high school. I love programs that I can use with all of my kids no matter what stage we are in school. For the last couple years we were working on middle school with the boys together but this year we are entering new territory as it is the first year we are homeschooling a high school student. Nick has been in high school for a couple years but he attends public school so we do not exclusively homeschool him.  I do find he likes to utilize some of our curriculum to keep his mind sharp and to help strengthen some skills he is learning in school. I was glad to know I could add him to our Vocabulary Spelling City as well, with no added fee. For $29.99 a year I feel that this program is a well rounded value and we will most likely continue on with it next year. We will have to see how the rest of this year goes. I can say that so far the kids are very impressed and I am glad that it took some weight off my shoulders and gives me a little less prep work, I just add our words for the week and off we go.

Here is a video that shows you more information on the premium membership features.

   Signing up was easy peasy, I had no frustrations and either did the kids, every week I decide what activities they are going to complete using their spelling words and vocabulary words. Then they can work at their own pace to get them done. In my house I give some assignments like spelling to the kids in their file box and they have until Friday to complete those assignments. This helps them gain independence and give me some time to work on inputting grades into my online program and keep up with their transcripts. The boys are so proud when they get all of their work done without me reminding them. This has helped them feel a little more in control and they have grown so much from that. Vocabulary Spelling City helps continue on with that. Although you can use it however fits best with your homeschool. That is the best thing about homeschooling, the freedom to do things the ways that work best for our family. What works best for us may not work good for you. Many programs like Vocabulary Spelling City are adaptable to help fit everyone's style of homeschooling.  So if you want to learn more then head over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew's Reviews by clicking on the banner below or if you are on the fence try their basic edition for Free or if you are ready to join spelling city and get all the benefits of a premium membership you can click on this link and get signed up so you are all ready for your first day of school, don't delay sign up today.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Vocab Videos TOS Crew Review 2012

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                                 As a member of The Schoolhouse Review Crew I was chosen to review Vocab Videos with my children as part of our school work. With Alyx starting High School this Fall and Nick entering Junior year of his schooling we are thinking of SATs and other tests that will be important in the boys lives. We are looking ahead to college these days and as scary as that seems we must prepare our children and ourselves. Vocabulary is 150 points of the SAT test and is important in writing and English classes as well.

    The Crew members that were chosen for this review were given a small educator's subscription that is good for one year and up to 20 students and gives unlimited access for the length of the subscription to the teacher's dashboard for the educator. This allows the teacher at any given time to access the student accounts and see how the students are fairing in their Vocab lessons and quizzes. The subscription we were given to review sells for $74.99. There are larger options for more than 20 students as well, and single student subscriptions offered too. For instance a 6 month student membership is $24.99 or a 12 month for $39.99. You can purchase the plan that fits the best for your family's needs by visiting www.vocabvideos.com

Now you might be wondering what this fee includes? Good Question, here is a list of components offered to subscribers.

 Supplemental materials include:
  • Quizzes with SAT-style questions
  • Study Guide
  • Vocab Videos Definition Grouping (groups words by common themes)
  • Flashcard Maker
  • Digital Worksheets
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Glossary of Words 

    Within 25 videos focusing on 20 words for each video the complete course of Vocab Videos will cover 500 vocab words that could be on the SAT test that high school age students need to take. This is important as colleges look at SAT scores very carefully. With this program you can make flashcards for the vocab words that are being focused on in the video you are working on, digital worksheets, puzzles and quizzes making this program very interactive. My boys had fun with the videos making learning the vocabulary words fun and engaging. There is also a supplemental aspect to this curriculum that you can purchase for $11.99 separately, a workbook, this workbook was not given for us to review so I have nothing personal to contribute about it, but I will say from the sounds of the information given to us about it, this is a 170 page workbook that is used to reinforce the vocabulary words presented  in the videos. I am considering purchasing this book to go along with the rest of the subscription time so we can continue to focus and emphasize good vocabulary for the boys. I used this with all 3 of my boys ages 12,14 and 15. Although the videos are comical in nature and fun to watch and the acting quite good, there were some topics that some Christians may find offensive, considering they are secular in nature. The age of my boys and the fact that Nick has continued to be educated in the public school setting this was not a huge issue for us. Many of the situations are part of everyday society. My boys being only homeschooled for the last several years have been subject to many types of behavior. What we have decided to do with topics that do not denote favorable Christian behavior as we would like, is to use them as a learning tool to turn the situation into a discussion for our family in what we could do to help those in unfavorable situations. 

    None of the topics would persuade me not to purchase the program I just felt I should warn folks that this is not a Christian based program and there may be material not suitable for some families and their children. 
All in all I am very pleased with Vocab Videos and any program that my children enjoy using is A+ in my book. My boys are at the age that their work and studies are getting harder and are not quite as fun as they used to be, Vocab Videos put some fun back in our school day and was easy to take on the go with us using our laptop. We enjoyed them at camp as well as at home and look forward to continuing to utilize the program in our curriculum line up for our full schedule that will be starting in a few short weeks, boy has this Summer flown by, but we are eagerly awaiting cooler temperatures and all that our area has to offer in the Fall time. Especially visiting the Apple Orchard for annual Fall family day of apple picking and hay rides. 
    To learn more about Vocab Videos be sure to check out all of The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviews, just click on the banner below. If you are still  not completely sure if this is something that would fit for your family, Vocab Videos has a one month free trial for educators to give it a try.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


Friday, August 10, 2012

King Alfred's English TOS Crew Review 2012

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        Have you ever wanted to study the History of the English Language with your kids? How about how  the Bible came to be in print? I know we have had these same curious questions and were so intrigued to get started when we were chosen to review King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do  written by Laurie J. White from the TheShorterWord.com. We are embarking on a new journey in our homeschool this Fall and that is homeschooling High School. We want to make sure we are picking curriculum that will serve as credit for Alyx's High School transcripts. This book along with the free resources offered, serves that purpose and so much more. Whether you are looking for a 1/2 credit of History or 1/4 credit History and 1/4 English, you will want to keep reading this is something you will be sure to be interested in.

                    King Alfred's English is sold as a paperback, 170 pages for $14.95 or you can get it in E-book form for your Kindle for just $5.95, this is the version we used. Any excuse to fire up the Kindle is a good for me and the boys.

    We chose to use this as a 1/4 credit for History and 1/4 credit for English, as we have some other things in the works for the rest of the credits Alyx needs this year. I did include my 8th grader in this as well and he enjoyed learning the history of our Language as much as his older brother. My son who is in 11th grade will be reading it next just for fun as he is in public school and would never get this opportunity.

   Here is a little info on the book from the The Shorter Word.com

The capstone of the book is the story of how we got the Bible in English and it’s influence upon our language.

*What were the driving ideas behind the Reformation? 
*Are the New Testament documents really reliable and how do they compare to other ancient manuscripts? 
*Why was translating the Bible into English punishable by death? 
*…and what does all THAT have to do with the history of English? 

    We have talked briefly in the past about these very subjects with other curriculum, but have never truly studied it and spent any length of time on it. I was excited to do just that. Discovering how much turmoil was caused over bringing the Bible to print has always been my biggest fascination. We all take this for granted and everyone should know the truth and History of where our language and Bible came from and how they came to be.  I want my boys to have a deep appreciation for life and not take anything for granted. Everything we have in this world today is because someone, somewhere fought for our Freedom. This is true of the very language we speak and the Bible in which we read God's word from. I believe all High Schoolers and their parents should read Kind Alfred's English. You will have a deeper appreciation and understanding of more than you ever thought possible.

      King Alfred's English is a captivating book, and when you couple that with the free resources both for Students and Teachers from The Shorter Word.com. Chapter by chapter links to online images, articles, videos, and relevant literature excerpts, Chapter worksheets and tests you will have everything you need to take a book and make it a class, that you can have High School credit for. You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain from this simple looking book that is so rich full of History of our English Language and how our Bible came to be in print. Who sacrificed for our Freedoms of both of these and how we benefit today because of it. Once you pick it up you will find it hard to put it down.  The words seem to pull you into the stories it tells. My boys were absolutely speechless. As they listened I watched their eyes grow wide. They whispered in awe as we learned of the battles that were fought for something we seem to just expect.  Every homeschool family should study this with their children 12 and over.

Did you know?

  • The English were NOT the British. In fact, they fought each other…a lot. And still today, if you call an English person British, he might very well correct you even though he knows you probably won’t understand.
  • You probably don’t pronounce the word “when” like your parents. When you say “when” and “win,” do these words sound the same? If you’re under 50, they probably do. If you’re older, you may still pronounce the sound of the “h” and the words sound slightly different. I still pronounce the “h,” do you?
  • The Brothers Grimm compiled German fairy tales, but they were also famous philologists (and what IS a philologist?)
  • There’s a law for the way languages change that backs up Intelligent Design.
  • For over 300 years the official language of the English court was…French! Seriously. But the English were always fighting the French. That’s true. Find out why.
  • There’s a reason we write “knight” but say “nite,” and you won’t believe how they used to pronounce it.
  • It was once punishable by death to translate even portions of the Bible into English! Yikes!
  • Recent scholarship has shown that at least 80% of the King James Bible is the translation work of just one man. Who was he?

View the Table of Contents of King Alfred's English to see all that it has to offer you and your children. Also be sure to stop by the Schoolhouse Crew Reviews, to see what they are all saying about King Alfred's English.
  As a special added bonus from the Author Laurie J. White, if you are one of the first 4 people to comment here that you are interested in the print version of the book at a wholesale price of $8.47 and leave your email address I have a code for 4 of my readers to order the print version of King Alfred's English at a wholesale discount. Good through September.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Create Better Writers TOS Crew Review 2012

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                       The flow of thoughts to write, as in my blog comes naturally to me. I have loved writing since Middle School when I was on the school paper and carried that with me through High School, assuming a position on that school paper as well as taking as many writing classes I could possibly take. That love of writing however did not necessarily carry on to my children, much to my dismay. We have struggled over the years to get the boys to appreciate the joy of writing. I was one of the Schoolhouse Review Crew members  chosen to review Create Better Writers, a writing curriculum for homeschoolers and I was hoping this was just the trick to get them to master the process of writing. I am sure that the reason they do not enjoy writing is that they have not yet mastered the mechanics of writing so it does not come easy and naturally to them, therefore making it a chore rather than a release of thoughts. I look to writing as a therapy session. I always feel better when I get things out onto paper. It gives me a sense of peace. I want my boys to experience the same feeling of expression. That is my goal for this year to Create a Writer within them.

      My first task to accomplish this goal was to "teach" them the mechanics of writing. This is something I struggle with, unless it is not something that walks me through the steps, I cannot verbalize to them how to start and finish the task at hand. Create Better Writers had the answer to my very problem. Let me start off by saying that Create Bettter Writers breaks it down for students in 3rd grade and up, into stair step direction. First the Sentence, then the Paragraph, and then onto a 5 Paragraph Essay. Success!

      So here is how you get started, CreateBetterWriters.com has it down to a Science. You start with their E-book designed just for homeschoolers, The Homeschool Writing Action Plan, this book is 54 pages of step by step instructions to help you travel the road map to find where your student should begin their writing journey. Selling for $15.95pdf or $19.95 physical copy, this is going to help gauge where your children are in their writing ability.
This will help you see the benefit of starting with The Homeschool Writing Action Plan...
Yes! I want a writing plan that is easy to follow and easy to teach.

Because writing can be such a complicated subject to teach, many home school teachers just want a curriculum that presents writing in a clear, uncomplicated fashion. This is why we’ve broken this book into three parts:

Part I – Summary of the Steps: We will begin with a summary of each step. The summaries of the steps are listed on a few pages. This will help you know, at all times, where you should be, where you are headed, and where each step fits into the big picture of your child’s writing.

Part II – Pacing Charts: Part 2 gives you sample pacing charts that will help you decide where and when to begin and how much time to spend on each activity. If you are beginning this program with an elementary school student, you will see how to slowly build you child’s writing skills over time. If you are beginning this program with a high school student, you will be shown how to quickly, but effectively, deliver the same information.
Part III – The Road Map: Part 3 will show you how to implement each step and give you strategies to help reinforce the writing concepts. However, this section will not give you specific lesson plans. While Parts 1 and 2 tell you what to teach and when to teach it, this section points out key aspects of each section and provides sample worksheets and lesson plans. One of the greatest advantages of this section is that it will point you to high quality and low cost lesson plans for each step. Even better, it will show you how to make sense out of writing instruction using your existing curriculum.

Yes! I want to feel confident as a writing teacher and be confident that I will help produce strong writers.

Whether you are comfortable with your writing skills or not, you want a writing program that gives you confidence that your students will be successful. A great feature to this program is that it teaches you, the home school teacher, right along with your children. It will guide you step-by-step as you cover every aspect of writing. The Home School Writing Action Plan is that first step.

What makes this program so powerful is that it starts with one simple writing technique and builds. Before you know it, you and your students will be writing amazing paragraphs, essays, stories, and reports. You won’t believe how easy it is to teach, and you’ll be amazed at how far your child can go. Even the reluctant writers thrive with this program.

Yes! I want a writing program that I can teach to all my children at the same time.

The goal of this program is to give home school parents a single writing program that can be used with multiple grade levels simultaneously. This system is so easy to manage that you can have several children at different stages or have them all at the same stage.

Example: You have a 3rd grader just learning the paragraph and a fifth grader learning the five paragraph essay. There is a simple writing technique that both the 3rd and 5th grader will use for both of these tasks. Begin by teaching the 3rd grader the paragraph and have the 5th grader join in as a review. When the 3rd grader is ready to practice paragraph writing, you can show your fifth grader the next step of essay writing. An hour later, both of your students will be using the exact same method for prewriting, only the 5th grader will be covering the topic in more detail.

*Note: This book will show you how to teach this, but does not give the specific lesson plan. You can purchase our resource for teaching the paragraph and five paragraph essay or feel free to use other curriculum.

  For instance it may play you in level 1 which is how to write a comprehensive paragraph, this is where my kids started just so we could reinforce what they already knew. Typically I think this would be upper Elementary and Middle School levels. There is a separate 23 page E-book for How To Teach the Paragraph available for $7.99. This first step in the program helps the children gather their thoughts and finish with a completed, comprehensive paragraph. It is essential to be a good writer that you know how to construct a complete paragraph. This is taught in eleven steps, using these eleven steps and the worksheets provided as well as the included teaching tools and writing assessments, the children will accomplish this goal with ease.

     After you have completed the How To Teach the Paragraph, you would then continue along your writing journey to the final lessons which would be How To Teach the Five Paragraph Essay.  62 pages of vaulable resources, Essay Topics, Step by Step Lesson to start with a solid paragraph and finish with an exciting essay. This book sells for $17.95 pdf and $19.95 hard copy.  They even include topics to get you started or you can choose your own, my boys sometimes do better when they can choose a topic of something that interests them personally. For instance Alyx loves classic cars, and Taylor likes Japanese Art. Then there are times where they are stuck for a topic and this is where the provided topics would come in handy.
Here you can see the table of contents showing the path you will follow until you reach your goal of a finished  5 paragraph essay. You can also view the actually steps as well.

      All in All I feel the program accomplishes what it sets out to do and advertises, although it is a bit redundant in it's steps, the boys did enjoy the program as it helped spark an interest in writing. Taylor has show an interest now in taking his drawings and adding a story to them in hopes of publishing a book through a company we found. I love to see my kids excited about learning and share a passion that I have. I hope this is just the beginning as we continue to explore the world of writing and all of it's endless possibilities.

      Be sure to stop by the crew blogs to see what they had to say about CreateBetterWriters.com


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, August 3, 2012

SchoolhouseTeachers.com TOS Crew Review 2012

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  When I started homeschooling I was looking for any and all of the info I could get my hands on, when I stumbled on The Old Schoolhouse Magazine I was sure God had sent me the most wonderful gift. Well let me tell you I still believe that, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has continued to be a blessing to my family with offering me a spot on their Homeschool Review Crew. The amazement of this company never ceases, they just continue to come up with more and more to help out us homeschool parents.

     You may be familiar with the Teacher's Toolbox, well TOS has expanded on that valuable resource and now bring us SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This is the Teacher's Toolbox amped up a whole bunch of levels. You are given daily, weekly, and monthly online content to help bring variety to your homeschool classroom, support to you and your kids and endless learning opportunities. You also get access to special perks every month you stay a member, adding even more to your available download library. For the price of a fast food meal or maybe less, you can have access to this wealth of information and fun and learning.  To sweeten the deal you will also get your choice of one or all of the Schoolhouse Planners, I have been using these for a couple years and I am super excited to add the High School planner to our organizational methods this year. I was privileged to review the planners last year you can read my review of the Intermediate Planner here. There is a planner for every stage of homeschooling even special needs. These planners do not just act as a calendar, they are chock full of exciting adventures for your kids to explore.  This is a huge value alone at $125 worth of savings having access to all of the planners as part of your membership. Then as an added bonus after you have been a member for a year you will get a $25 gift certificate that you can use for Totally TOS section in the Schoolhouse Store. Wow! The deal gets better and better doesn't it? Oh wait it does, you can also enjoy TOS Magazine in it's new digital format on your computer or one of your mobile devices by downloading one of the great TOS APPS.

     There is content in every corner of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, every subject and for every age group, K-12 and Moms and Dads too. We have loved the unit studies offered, we had the oportunity to review one of those as well as part of our application process to The Crew and my kids begged for more. We love lapbooking and there is plenty of that to find within the site as well. Recipes, columns written by and for homeschooling families. Topics for anything you would need to know about, organization, support, recipes, frugality, raising kids with great morals, helping special needs kids, the list goes on and on.

              So are you ready to see what you are missing out on?  You can visit here and see a tour of the site here. You can try out your first month of SchoolhouseTeachers.com for just $1. When you are ready to keep getting blessed with more and more, month after month you can continue your membership for only $5.95 a month. I told you it was a great value, and like I said when you continue your membership each month when it renews you will be blessed with many downloadable and printable activities, e-books and other valuable resources.

  Here is some info straight from the site..

Spend time with the biggest names in online and home education: Kim Kautzer (writing), Diana Waring (history), Terri Johnson (geography), Adam Andrews (literature), the Hands of a Child team (lapbooking), Malia Russell (home economics), George Escobar (filmmaking)—and many more. Each month, new teachers in new subject areas will join the SchoolhouseTeachers.com team.

Each month that you are a SchoolhouseTeachers.com member you can add to your library of homeschooling resources, unit studies, and encouragement with Schoolhouse Thematic Units, Curiosity Files, WannaBes, and WeE-books.
Look at all you will receive! (Members: Click the cover images to be taken to your available download pages)
After 31 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Chef
  • The Curiosity Files-Blue Diamond
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Adventures in Reading
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Adventurous Explorers!
  • WeE-book™-10 BIG Reasons NOT to Send Christian Kids to Public Schools Today
  • WeE-book™-A Baby Shower for Jesus
  • WeE-book™-A Classical Education
  • WeE-book™-A Light Unto My Path
  • WeE-book™-A New Beginning
  • WeE-book™-Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection
  • WeE-book™-Alpacas and Homeschool: A Natural Connection
  • WeE-book™-Are Parents Really Necessary?
After 61 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Doctor
  • The Curiosity Files-Blue-Footed Booby
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-All About Inventions
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Amusing Mathematics
  • WeE-book™-Beating the Summertime Blues
  • WeE-book™-Beowulf: Fiction or History?
  • WeE-book™-Biography Geography
  • WeE-book™-Blaise Pascal−Mathematician Extradinaire
  • WeE-book™-Building Strong Arithmetic Thinking
  • WeE-book™-Career Exploration for High School Students
  • WeE-book™-Career Training, Mentorship, and Parenthood
  • WeE-book™-Changing History Theories and How to Teach Them
After 92 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Farmer
  • The Curiosity Files-Cave Fish
  • The Curiosity Files-Cicada-Killing Wasp
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Beloved Bible Stories
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Celebrate the Holidays
  • WeE-book™-Charlotte Mason and Susan Schaefer Macaulay: Mentors of the Modern Homeschool Movement
  • WeE-book™-Charlotte Mason: Our Heroine of Lifelong Learning and Special Needs
  • WeE-book™-Civil War History and Controversy: An Interview with Chandra Manning
  • WeE-book™-Communication Skills and Your Gifted Child
  • WeE-book™-Concrete Arithmetic
  • WeE-book™-Creation vs. Evolution: Interpreting the Evidence
  • WeE-book™-Diet Pop and Mentos: What’s Really Going On?
  • WeE-book™-Don’t Rush God
  • WeE-book™-Easy Fund-Raisers for Homeschool Organizations
At 112 days these will be added to your library:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Firefighter
  • The Curiosity Files-Dung Beetle
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Checks and Balances
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Cruisin’ the Country
  • WeE-book™-Eyewitness History: Hunger and the Great Depression
  • WeE-book™-Fall Harvest: Where’s the Fruit?
  • WeE-book™-Fast Track to Memorization
  • WeE-book™-Following The Iditarod
  • WeE-book™-For the Love of Bugs
  • WeE-book™-From Chaos to a Symphony of Routines
  • WeE-book™-From the Tree to the Table: A Maple Syrup Story
  • WeE-book™-Frugal Family Fun: Travel Tips and Field Trip
After 153 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary
  • The Curiosity Files-MRSA
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-God Created All
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-God’s World of Extremes
  • WeE-book™-Getting to the Root of Writer’s Block
  • WeE-book™-Growing Authors and Illustrators
  • WeE-book™-He Leadeth Me
  • WeE-book™-Helping the Reluctant Writer
  • WeE-book™-Home Improvement
  • WeE-book™-Homeschool Deception
  • WeE-book™-Homeschooling and Adoption-A Winning Combination
  • WeE-book™-Homeschooling With Young Children
After 183 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Pilot
  • The Curiosity Files-Platypus
  • The Curiosity Files-Puffer Fish
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Insects Galore!
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Let Freedom Ring
  • WeE-book™-Homeschooling: A Natural Fit for the Kinestic Child
  • WeE-book™-Homeschooling: A Prayerful Journey
  • WeE-book™-Homeschooling: Growing and Thriving in the 21st Century
  • WeE-book™-How Do I Teach My Platypus if He Won’t Sit Still?
  • WeE-book™-How to Beat Curriculum Boredom
  • WeE-book™-I Was Raised by Wolves
  • WeE-book™-Inexpensive Organization
  • WeE-book™-Integrating Concrete Math Into Everyday Life
  • WeE-book™-Intelligent Design: Why the Fuss, and What’s it About?
These titles will be available to you after 214 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Police Officer
  • The Curiosity Files-Quicksand
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Let’s Be Scientists!
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Music Mania
  • WeE-book™-Is Your Homeschool Ready to Collapse?
  • WeE-book™-It’s the Starting That’s Stopping Us
  • WeE-book™-John Taylor Gatto: Hammering at the Walls of Public Education
  • WeE-book™-Just How Important Are Communication Skills Anyway?
  • WeE-book™-Let There Be Light
  • WeE-book™-Light, Color, Optics
  • WeE-book™-Like a Refiner’s Fire
  • WeE-book™-Lincoln vs. Darwin: What’s the Difference?
After 244 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be a Veterinarian
  • The Curiosity Files-Red Tide
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Out of This World!
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Play It Safe!
  • WeE-book™-Living in a Castle or Life as a Single?
  • WeE-book™-Mary Slessor: The White Ma of Calabar
  • WeE-book™-Mastering the Grading Process: What Every Parent Should Know
  • WeE-book™-Math in the Right Direction
  • WeE-book™-Military Geography
  • WeE-book™-Missing in Action or Mentoring in Action?
  • WeE-book™-Missionary Geography
  • WeE-book™-Nifty Thrifty Summer Fun
After 275 days:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to Be an Artist
  • The Curiosity Files-Slime Eels
  • The Curiosity Files-Snow Rollers & Other Snow Phenomena
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Presidents of the Past
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Remarkable Art
  • WeE-book™-Oceanography: Voyage Into a Marvelous World of Creation
  • WeE-book™-Organize Your Homeschool
  • WeE-book™-Play What You Mean: Creative Ways to Teach Communication Skills
  • WeE-book™-Public School System: Lovers or Haters of God
  • WeE-book™-Science on the Wings of a Butterfly
  • WeE-book™-Should Homeschooled Teens Join Church Youth Groups?
  • WeE-book™-Simplifying Classical Education
  • WeE-book™-Slither, Scamper, Crawl and Climb
  • WeE-book™-So You Think Your Child May Be Gifted
At 305 days enjoy these titles:
  • WannaBe™-When I Grow Up I Want to be in the Military
  • The Curiosity Files-Solar Max
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Ring in the New Year!
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Summer Fun!
  • WeE-book™-Strategies for Struggling Learners
  • WeE-book™-Take Cover! We Have an Enemy
  • WeE-book™-Teaching the Fidgety Child
  • WeE-book™-The “Me Time” Myth
  • WeE-book™-The Great Books
  • WeE-book™-The Italian RenaissanceWeE-book™-The Late Great Date Debate: Removing Christ from the Calendar
  • WeE-book™-The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Being a Work-at-Home Mom
After 336 days:
  • The Curiosity Files-Vegetarian Spiders
  • The Curiosity Files-Velvet Ants
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Travel the World!
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Wonders of Flight
  • WeE-book™-The Real Hummers
  • WeE-book™-The Scoop on Poop
  • WeE-book™-The Shocking Truth About Electricity
  • WeE-book™-The Submarine: A Legend Before its Time
  • WeE-book™-The Value of Homeschool Conventions
  • WeE-book™-The Windows Operating System
  • WeE-book™-Three Keys to Teaching Writing
  • WeE-book™-Time Flies While History is Written
Remain a member for 366 days you will add these E-Books to your collection:
  • The Curiosity Files-Whirlpools
  • The Curiosity Files-Zombie Fire Ants
  • The Curiosity Files-Rogue Waves
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Wonders of the World
  • Schoolhouse Thematic Unit-Wondrous Weather!
  • WeE-book™-Transcripts, CLEPs, and Other Ways to Get into College
  • WeE-book™-What is a Hometown Hero?
  • WeE-book™-Why Does My Child Hate to Write?
  • WeE-book™-Will They Ever “Get” It?
  • WeE-book™-Writer’s Workshop: Getting Children Excited
  • WeE-book™-Writing Essays
  • WeE-book™-The Things I Learned When My Kid Went to College

          You will be able to check back each day. week and month to see fresh, fun, new content. All of the collaborative efforts or the writing team shows in all that comes to the site for us to enjoy. They spend countless efforts and hours to bring us all of this to enjoy. I know there have been many days where I feel stuck in a rut, sometimes even frustrated and ready to throw in the towel and then I am blessed with an inspirational story from one of the writers delivered right to my inbox. I know in my heart that TOS has come to my rescue more than once. Recently we have been working on a Summer Olympics Lapbook that was given to us from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

This helped take a burden off of me. I did not need to put forth hours of planning, searching for the activities, it was all given to me with my membership and all the work was already done for me, all that was left was for me and the boys to do was enjoy. Sure doesn't get any easier than that if I do say so myself.  Now I am sure by now you are convinced you just have to sign up? Still not entirely sure? Well be sure to check out that free preview and take advantage of the $1 first month deal.  That is all it will take to convince you that you simply cannot live without SchoolhouseTeachers.com. One month of access and you will be begging for more. You will not know what you did without it. I am sure my fellow crewmates are saying the same thing, but just to be sure you should check out their reviews as well.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.