Traveling Through History with Doctor Who

I KNOW y’all are geeks like me.  I just know you are.  Because my readers rock, so… yeah. Lots of geeks here.  And where there are geeks, there are Whovians.  And where there are Whovians, there are Whovians passing down that epic tradition to their children.  So, for all of my geeks everywhere, may I show you what we’re using for history this year…

Traveling Through History with Doctor Who pin

Traveling Through History with Doctor Who!

 

OK, this is seriously cool.  Let’s start at the beginning:  Did you know that Doctor Who was originally commissioned to be a children’s show designed to teach history and develop enthusiasm for history?  True story!  SO, in getting back to the true spirit of Doctor Who… Amy Dutsch has created this awesome curriculum to help you pick out awesome history episodes from Doctor Who, and flesh them out enough to pull this into a curriculum.

 

Awesome.

 

Now, some disclaimers:  This curriculum doesn’t start at the beginning, technically.  It starts with the 9th Doctor.  I should also mention that this jumps around in the storyline.  It’s not in story-order, and it’s DEFINITELY not in chronological order.  Because, wibbley-wobbley-timey-wimey.  But, whatever, figure out a timeline and stick it to where it belongs.  I think we’ll make one on our wall.  Someday.  (Actoutgames on Youtube has an awesome timeline, btw, you should definitely check her out!)

The curriculum (for grades 6 and up) has all of these awesome ideas to help bring the topic of the week to life.  There are documentaries and YouTube videos to watch (obviously, prescreen for your children), projects to complete, even projects on Minecraft!  There’s also quizzes, mapwork, books to read to flesh out the topic, art history… Let me tell you, Amy has put a TON of work into this, and it shows.  This is a GREAT curriculum.  In addition, there is an awesome Facebook group, and a course on Elademy just for this class.  (There is a graded course and an ungraded course.  The graded course is now full.)  Definitely take advantage of these resources, because parents are sharing all of the awesome stuff we’re finding!  You can also follow me on Pinterest, where I have a board especially dedicated to this course!

 

We are going to be blogging about our activities with Traveling Through History with Doctor Who.  We’re going to do a Whovian Wednesdays series, and every week, post videos and pictures showing y’all what we’re doing.

Traveling Through History with Doctor Who is for grades 6 and up.  (There is a Little Whovians option which I’ll be blogging about later, for younger Whovians.)  It’s only $8 for the first semester (second semester is in the works), which has 12 lessons.  You can get it at the Mama’s Little Monkeys store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  There’s even free samples there, and I HIGHLY recommend it!

So, are you going to join us?  Be our companions as we Travel Through History with Doctor Who! (Did you see what I did there…. hehehe)  I can’t wait to hear about what y’all do with this fun and awesome curriculum.  This is going to be a great year!!

Summer Recap

This summer has FLOWN by.  As you can tell with my ridiculous lack of postings, we’ve been busy.  We didn’t even get to Shakespeare in the Park this year, which I honestly just about cried over.  So, here is a short recap (best I can… the whole summer sort of seems like a dream) of what we’ve been up to.  And a commitment that I’m going to be blogging again, now that Fall is back!!

 

Opening Day of the Farmer's Market-- popsicles for everyone!!

Opening Day of the Farmer’s Market– popsicles for everyone!!

We started off this spring making Fairy Houses, and that sort of moved into our early summertime.  The twins were ALL about the bugs, and we found these adorable mushrooms at our local Farmer’s Market.  Later, we found a Fairy Dining Set, I just haven’t had time to photograph it yet.  Delaeney is definitely our Bug Girl, although both of the twins were enamored.

Delaeney is a huge fan of bugs.  Here she is with a new snail friend.

Delaeney is a huge fan of bugs. Here she is with a new snail friend.

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The snail went to live in our new fairy village.  Since this was taken, we've added a fairy dinette set.  ;-)  There is a booth at the Farmer's Market that sells these, and they're a huge hit here!

The snail went to live in our new fairy village. Since this was taken, we’ve added a fairy dinette set. ;-) There is a booth at the Farmer’s Market that sells these, and they’re a huge hit here!

We also dyed playsilks, a habit I think we’re going to HAVE to get into. The kids had a blast, and there is so much you can do with dyed playsilks!! These have seriously become our favorite toys. We’re planning on dying silk capes for Michaelmas, and even the big kids said they wanted one.

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Kaitlyn participated in a Leadership Camp for Girls at Austin Peay State University, which is local to us.  She had a great time, and it’s something we’ll definitely be looking at doing next year!!  Right after that, the kids headed to St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Camp in Indiana for a week, and that… oh my word, they’re still talking about that.  This was Danny’s first time at Camp (although Kaitlyn had gone to different camps when she was 7 and 8), and there will be no options of not attending next year.  He learned incredibly helpful things for boys… like how to set your *ahem* gas on fire.  They also took this beautifully spiritual Prayer Walk, and had daily prayers and meetings, and even celebrated liturgy on Saturday. They can’t wait to go back next year!!

 

So, that brings to, um… July?  Heading into August.  This is where things got funky.  In June, I had started my first semester with Liberty University.  So, now Prince Charming and I are both going full time.  In addition, we found a new church (THANK YOU GOD!!).  The church is working on many renovations, and Prince Charming has been able to help out a lot there.  AND… we decided that a good portion of the curriculum we were going to use this year was just not going to work now.  (If you follow me on Facebook, remember how excited I was to have everything bought and paid for?  Never count your chickens, children…)  And, Prince Charming was finishing up a major project at work, and was on the road 3-4 days a week.  So, things started spiraling out of control REALLY quickly.  I barely remember August, I couldn’t tell you any specific thing that happened that month at all (except the kids ALL getting what I thought was Hand-Foot-Mouth, but we think might’ve been Strep instead, but still might’ve been HFM… AGH!!).  But, I managed by the skin of my teeth to at least get the kids registered in their online classes (more on that in a post coming soon) and get school started more or less on September 1.

 

And then… family emergency.  And I had to travel immediately to Florida.  The first week of school.  And leave Prince Charming here with 6 sick kids and school starting.  (Remember the strep/HFM above?  Yeah, that morphed into EV-D68.  Lucky us.)  Forgot my books at home when I went to Florida, so I needed extensions on all of my college classes.  Dog died (true story… she got bit by a snake the day after I got to FL, and she was too old–12 1/2– to handle it).

It. was. a. nightmare.

Can you see why my blogging suffered this summer?

SO, why am I telling you all of this?  Because some amazing blessings came out of it.  Yes, I had to go to Florida on a family emergency, and it wasn’t all fun.  It definitely wasn’t a vacation.  But, I hadn’t been apart from the kids for 3 years (and that was for 1 night), and I was burnt out and exhausted.  And, wonderful man that Prince Charming is, he didn’t quite understand everything I do day to day.  He works from home, and he sees, more or less, but seeing and experiencing are two different things.  The 10 days I was gone, he EXPERIENCED.  I highly recommend every homeschool dad experience for a week.  His perspective has changed, and, although I was dealing with a stressful situation, my perspective changed, and I’m so happy to be home with my kiddos again.

I do miss my dog.  :(

Our Pretty Pretty Princess.  Best Dog Ever.  2001-2014.  Rest in peace, baby, and we'll see you at the Rainbow Bridge.

Our Pretty Pretty Princess. Best Dog Ever. 2001-2014. Rest in peace, baby, and we’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge.

So, now I’m home. I’m more or less caught up on my school. The kids are *ahem* adjusting to their school schedules.  And life is moving swimmingly.  I’ll be updating (I PROMISE) in the next couple of days about our new curriculum plans, and how we’re doing things this year.

 

I’m so glad to have y’all with me on this ride.  Thank you for sticking with me during this incredible summer.  And here’s to an incredible school year.

TOS Review Crew: My Student Logbook

My Student Logbook Review
I am a firm believer that students, whether in a homeschool or brick-and-mortar setting, need to learn early to take responsibility for their own education. They need to own it.  That’s not to say it’s an easy thing to teach children, and I’m always on the lookout for tools to make it easier for me and my children.  So I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to review the daily student logbook planners from My Student Logbook.  Danny (11, 6th grade) helped me with this review.

 

My Student Logbook Review
My Student Logbooks are simple, easy to use planners designed for grades 2 and up.  They come in a variety of covers if you buy the spiral-bound hard copy (we received the hard copy for this review, and got the Planetarium cover, which you can see above), or in PDF with no cover design.  The hard copy Logbooks are $15.  PDF files are available for $10 for a single use license, or $20 for a family use license.  The hard copy has a clear plastic cover, and plastic back, so it is rather durable.

 

My Student Logbook Review
These logbooks are incredibly easy to use.  Each logbook has set up instructions (videos are also included on the My Student Logbook web page), a section on how to use the My Student Logbook to create high school transcripts, and then gets straight into the Logbook.  In the back, after the planner section, are areas where the student can record All About Me, Prayers and Goals Bible Verses Memorized, Books Read, Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, and Activities, Test Records, and Year Highlights.

 

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The first work page looks like the page above.  You simply rip it out (and cut the edge to make it neat), and fold it over.  Then, you tape it to the back of the first planner page, with the lined subject flap hanging over.  It will look like this:

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As you can see, we use the Logbook quite regularly.  Anyway, on the lines under “Checklist”, you simply list the subjects you want your child to complete.  You can also list things like chores, or any habits you want them to acquire, along with things like music practice and the like.  There is a “Time” box, where you can either list the time it takes to complete a task (for example, 30 minutes of piano practice), or what time that particularly task needs to be completed at.  You’ll notice under “Math”, we have a set time, 9:45-10:45 am.  That’s because on Mondays, Danny has an online math class at those times, and he needs to remember that.

Underneath the flap, you’ll find a section titled “Notes”.  Here, you can list anything you want.  We are listing math puzzles at the moment, but you can really put anything you want in there.

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And that’s it!  It’s super simple.  You can choose to have your child simply check off each box (the boxes are dated at the top), so you can keep track of your days.  This can also be used as an attendance chart.

So, now that you’ve seen how it works, what did we think?  Well, the boxes are quite small, maybe 1.5″ x 1.5″.  For our older students, that’s too small.  I like to write in the actual assignments in each block, and, as you can see in the pictures above, that gets quite cramped.  For our big kids, we’ll need something with much bigger squares.

However, we were quite impressed with the quality and simplicity of this product.  So much so, in fact, that we bought Sean (7, 2nd grade) one as well.  (He got dinosaurs… I love all of the different covers, so that I can quickly see at a glance who is missing their planner.)  For younger kids, I would wholeheartedly recommend this planner.  This is a great tool for helping children begin to take responsibility and really own their education, and is a great tool for mom for keeping everyone on task!!

 

My Student Logbook Review
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TOS Review Crew: Heirloom Audio Productions

We love love LOVE audio dramas, especially when they’re done very well.  We travel together quite a bit, and have found that listening to a good drama in the car really makes the time go by more quickly.  So, I was really excited to review Heirloom Audio Productions‘ audio drama Under Drake’s Flag.

 

 

Analytical Grammar Review
This audio drama takes the classic book by G.A. Henty and presents it in a dramatic recording.  At about two hours long, Under Drake’s Flag takes the listener through a dramatic production, the story of two boys, Ned and Gerald, who serve under Sir Francis Drake onboard his ship.  Packed full of adventure, the boys do everything from facing an unfriendly shipmate together, to battling sharks, to the Spanish Inquisition.  Under Drake’s Flag is a story full of moral lessons, character building and faith.

 

Our children, as I mentioned, love audiodramas, and this one is extremely well done.  The production quality is stellar, using an outstanding musical score, written by Emmy-award winning composer John Campbell, acclaimed British actors, and a script that kept our children engaged for hours, even our little ones.  Every time we had to turn off the CD, it wasn’t long until they were begging to listen again.  The story itself is so full of history and adventure, you can’t help but be drawn in quickly.

In addition, there is a study guide that you can use, to help really draw out the story.  Under each chapter, there are three sections, “Listening Well”, “Thinking Further”, and “Defining Words”.  The “Listening Well” section has questions that are designed to help your kids learn to listen to the story, and draw out important parts.  “Thinking Further” questions assist with critical thinking skills, and make conclusions and observations about the story.  And “Defining Words” is a list of vocabulary words that kids might not be familiar with.  Altogether, this would make a great foundation for an incredibly fun unit study, or a wonderful jumping off point to learn about this era in history.

Heirloom Audio Productions’ Under Drake’s Flag is recommended for ages 6-adult (although our 3 and 5 year olds were listening right alongside the big kids, and begging to listen over and over), and is available on a 2-CD set (1 hour per CD) for $29.95.  (This is what we received for the Review.)  In addition, you can order an instant MP3 download for $20.00.  Both sets come with free bonuses, including a 30-page study guide and a gorgeous, printed copy of Drake’s Prayer.  Absolutely beautiful.  The 2-CD set also comes with the MP3 recording as a bonus.  In addition, there is a “Family Four Pack” set in which you get 4 copies of Under Drake’s Flag, plus a boatload of bonuses, to give away as gifts, for $99.95.  That’s really a great deal, and with Christmas coming up, something to think about.

We absolutely adored this set, and would highly recommend it.  A wonderful story that will keep boys and girls engaged and entertained, and teach them strong character lessons throughout, if your family enjoys audio drama, you’ll definitely want to add this to your collection.  We were privileged to review such a high quality product, and don’t hesitate to recommend it.  Make sure you head to the Under Drake’s Flag home page, to listen to a story summary, and see what others think of Under Drake’s Flag!

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TOS Review Crew: Roman Roads Media

Roman Roads Media Review
Roman Roads Media is the producer of some really wonderful classical Christian education courses in DVD format.  We LOVE the products we’ve used already from them, and were very excited to be able to review Dave Raymond’s American History Part 1.  American History is not my favorite era of history (I know, don’t judge me!), so finding a good, comprehensive video series that will keep them engaged is awesome.  Dave Raymond’s American History fit the bill, complete with videos, readers, and a portfolio project for the kids to complete.

 

 

Roman Roads Media Review
Dave Raymond’s American History is available in two parts on DVD, and soon, in downloadable format, and comes with 26 video based lessons (broken up into Part 1 and Part 2–13 lessons each), along with student readers and a teacher’s guide in ebook format.  The readers and guide come in a number of different formats, including ePUB, MOBI, and PDF, which I love.  It makes it easy to download them to any device I need to, and send it to everyone who needs it’s Kindle or whatever they’re using at that moment.  Very, very, convenient.  Part One covers MesoAmerica through The Constitution, and Part Two covers George Washington through Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.  Together, following the lesson plan, it is worth 1 high school US History credit.  For this review, we used Part 1, and have just finished learning about the Puritans.

Each lesson has 5 parts, and, ideally, you complete 1 part a day, finishing one lesson a week.  There are projects, speeches, research papers, and a portfolio to be completed, and the teacher’s guide gives you plenty of ideas to help your student along.  Each day, there is a 10-15 minute video to watch, followed by an assignment, reading, and/or portfolio work.  In the teacher’s guide, there are exam questions for you to evaluate your student after each lesson.  We found the videos to be engaging and have really enjoyed them.

The portfolio is a huge part of the curriculum.  Mr. Raymond really stressed that this should be very well done, and something that the student will be glad to show people.  Some of the portfolio work, such as sketching navigational instruments with a compass, are quite difficult.  It really drives home the lesson, though, and I think it’s a wonderful tool.  It reminded me a lot of how we approach our main lesson books, and I love this part of the curriculum.  Note taking was also introduced, which I appreciated.  We’ve worked a lot on note-taking this year, and I think they’re really improving in this aspect.

Although Dave Raymond’s American History is suggested for grades 6th and up, I would put this at a high school level, or possibly, 8th grade, depending on the student.  It is quite rigorous, and the expectations are set high.  Since it does give you a high school credit, it seems best to me to wait until I can actually use that credit.

Dave Raymond’s American History Part 1 is available for $100 at Roman Roads Media. Part 2 is another $100, but they are an outstanding value, IMO, in that this set is very well done, and able to be used through multiple children.  ((NOTE:  At the time of this writing, each part is on sale for $75!  That’s a great deal, and I really recommend taking them up on it!)  There is a sample lesson available, so do make sure you look through it and see what you think.  Although we won’t be using it again for at least a year or two, I am starting to collect courses from Roman Roads Media to use in our high school.  I’m very happy with this, and everything I’ve used of theirs, and are excited to continue with Roman Roads Media.

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TOS Review Crew: Analytical Grammar

Analytical Grammar Review
I hated writing book reports growing up. Now, I can see the purpose in them, but I dreaded teaching them, because I hated writing them.  And so I haven’t.  But now, I’ve found a great course that will do it for me in a fun, not-your-typical-book-report way!  I have found the Beyond the Book Report program from Analytical Grammar, and the kids are having so much fun!

Analytical Grammar Review
Beyond the Book Report is a research and essay writing program from Analytical Grammar, designed for middle-to-early-high-schoolers.  There is a three year schedule that you can use for grades 6th, 7th, and 8th, or a 2 year program if you’re beginning in grade 8, and continuing through 9.  We’re using this program with Kaitlyn (13, 7th grade) and Danny (11, 6th grade), and we’re going to be putting them through the 3 year program.

There are three “Seasons” in the Beyond the Book Report program.  Season One teaches literary analysis, paraphrasing, summarizing, and journalism, and has the student write three different types of book reports:  a basic book report, a pamphlet book report, and a journalism book report.  Season Two focuses on poetry and drama, including figurative language and stage forms.  Season Three moves into the fundamental aspects of research and essay writing, and adds in public speaking.  All together, they are a solid informative writing curriculum for the middle school years.

Beyond the Book Report is video based, and each Season comes with a DVD for your student to watch.  In addition, there are printables, including slides to print off so the students can practice taking notes as they listen to the DVD.  There is also a teacher’s binder, which gives detailed instructions and shows you how to use the program in a 2 or 3 year schedule, three days a week.

We really liked this program.  It lays out everything from choosing the book and getting it approved, to writing really interesting reports.  Season Three even takes the student into things that I just wouldn’t think about, like writing an SAT essay.  The videos were not too long for my middle schoolers to watch, and Kaitlyn is starting to improve on her note taking, I’ve noticed, while watching them.  Since I am in college online, I know this is not the easiest skill for me to develop, and one I want her to have down before she heads off to college.  There are also rubrics not just for me, but for the kids.  Again, as an online college student, I love this, because I routinely go back to my own rubrics for papers I turn in.  That wasn’t available to me in high school, so getting into that habit now is excellent for my kids, in my opinion.

We kicked up the program’s schedule slightly for summer, but I’m really looking forward to taking the kids through it again this year at the slower, 3-day-a-week pace.  While they’ve learned a lot, I think they’ll be able to glean even more when we go through it again.  And, they’re not complaining about the idea, which I love.  Kaitlyn, especially, is really enjoying the drama aspects (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which she adores, anyway), and I want her to enjoy it without feeling rushed.  This is definitely something we’re keeping around long term.

Beyond the Book Report is available for $24.95 per season, or, you can bundle all three seasons together for $69.95.  Make sure you head to the Beyond the Book Report page, where you’ll get a thorough breakdown of exactly what each Season, and each report, consists of.  This is a really great, step by step program that will take ALL of the guesswork out of teaching your children how to write informative research papers and essays, as well as teach them to study poetry and drama.  We’re really looking forward to continuing with Beyond the Book Report.

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Busy Busy Summer!!

I haven’t been posting a lot this summer, and I’m sorry about that.  It’s been so busy, and has just flown away from me!!  Here’s a little taste of what we’ve been doing this summer!

 

Kaitlyn had Leadership Camp for Girls at Austin Peay University.  She had a great time, and met lots of other girls her age.  They talked to other young women about their careers, and what led them there, including a police officer, a young woman in the Army Cadet program, and a teacher.  It’s hard to believe my baby girl turned 13 this year! She’s becoming such a young lady!

Kaitlyn 13

 

Last week, the big kids went to summer camp at St. John’s Camp in Mitchell, Indiana.  It was their first year at this camp, the first year of camp at all for Danny, and I was a bit worried.  But, I shouldn’t have been!  They had a great time, and made tons of friends.  They had a great time swimming, canoeing (Danny even got tipped into the river!) and tons of camp activities.  The camp is a small, Orthodox camp, and they were really able to get to know everyone.  Awesome fun!

This week is VBS at our church, so I’ll post pictures of what fun they have there.  Then, we have Shakespeare at the Park still coming up, and, of course, we have our weekly playdates, Farmer’s Market and general summer fun!  We have corn to freeze, lightening bugs to catch, and so much to do!

One more month or so before we start school, and the end to lazy summer days.  :)

Delaeney is a huge fan of bugs.  Here she is with a new snail friend.

Delaeney is a huge fan of bugs. Here she is with a new snail friend.

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The snail went to live in our new fairy village.  Since this was taken, we've added a fairy dinette set.  ;-)  There is a booth at the Farmer's Market that sells these, and they're a huge hit here!

The snail went to live in our new fairy village. Since this was taken, we’ve added a fairy dinette set. ;-) There is a booth at the Farmer’s Market that sells these, and they’re a huge hit here!

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Dyeing Playsilks with Kids

Dyeing Playsilks with Kids

 

This week, we had another wonderful get-together with our local Waldorf playgroup!  This time, we decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time–dye playsilks with the kids!!  Playsilks are wonderful, open-ended toys that have a million and one uses.  Basically, they’re scarves.  Just silk scarves.  You can dye them in a multitude of ways, I’ve even seen people paint the most beautiful silks.  Children can use them for pretty much anything.  Ours, at the moment, are flags, hair kerchiefs, capes, blankets, and beds.  they also make great backdrops for puppet shows, playscapes…whatever you can imagine!  We even have a couple of sets of handkerchief sized silks that I’m going to make puppets out of!

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We ordered our silks from the Dharma Trading Co.  They give discounts for bulk orders, and so we just all went in together, and it worked out really well.  The dyeing process itself was pretty simple, much more simple than I thought it would be!!  We got kool-aid, and more or less used the mixtures we found at Tried and True.  We did find that the the darker blue there ended up a fairly dark purple instead.  So, we only had light blue.  It was OK, though, it made the prettiest silks, kind of mottled, with what looks like clouds.  PERFECT for sky play!

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We mixed the kool aid packets with 1/2 cup of vinegar, and stirred very well.  Then, we added warm water to fill the quart sized mason jars, covered, and shook VERY well to mix completely.  After that, it was crazy simple.  We wetted the silks in clean water, and then squeezed out the excess.  Then, we put the dampened silks into the jars and let them sit. We didn’t have a time period, just until we figured they were done.  We then took the silks out of the jar, and squeezed out the excess kool aid.  Then, we put them in ziploc freezer bags, and popped them in the microwave for 2 minutes. (Hint:  Don’t seal your bag all of the way, it WILL pop!)  Remove the bags, and let them cool for a few minutes, then microwave them again for 2 more minutes.  When they’re cool enough to handle, we rinsed them in the sink, until the water ran clear.  Honestly, it didn’t take that long, the dye set VERY quickly in the microwave!  In fact, our hostess remarked about how much more quickly the dye set than when she had used Wilton dyes to dye playsilks before.

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After the silks were rinsed, we just hung them on the porch to dry!  The kids played and the moms talked, and, as usual, it was a beautiful afternoon.  I absolutely love our local playgroup.  We have the most lovely bunch of women, and I’m so blessed to be part of them.

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So, a couple of tips:  Wear gloves if you don’t like your fingers and nails being stained.  Most of the kool aid has come off of my fingers, but my nails are still a charming shade of maroon.  ;)  Also, we ended up with lots of mottled-looking silks.  I think a bigger jar, pot, or bowl would work better if you wanted a “perfect” silk.  For us, I like the organic looking imperfect ones.  :)  My kids love them all, so it’s all good. ;-)

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We had so much fun dyeing playsilks, and I had bought a TON, so I still have more to dye!  We’ll be working on these the rest of the summer, perfecting our shades and process, I’m sure.

Have you ever dyed playsilks?  What’s your favorite make-it-at-home toy?  Leave a comment and let me know!

TOS Review Crew: Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page

 

Working by units is such a fun way to really dive into a subject.  We’ve found a great resource to help us find quality, well put together units on a huge variety of subjects, and we’re excited to share Moving Beyond the Page with you!  For this review, Kaitlyn (13 years old, heading into 7th grade) helped me review the Language Arts Package-Animal Farm online (designed for ages 12-14) and the Science Package-Health and Nutrition (also for ages 12-14, physical copy).

Animal Farm image

First let’s start with the Language Arts Package-Animal Farm.  We reviewed the online version of this unit.  The online unit is $22.99, and comes with online access to the unit, along with a physical copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm shipped to you.  The unit is accessed online, but you will need to print out the Student Activity Pages.  Each day that you use the program, the student logs on and begins the lesson they are working on.  They’ll see a screen like this:

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As you can see, when they finish a lesson, the program crosses it off for them, so they never lose their place, and YOU know exactly where they are. Each lesson is broken down into 3 categories:  Getting Started, Activities, and Conclusion.  The Getting Started section tells the student what they’ll be focusing on for this lesson, and lets them know if there are any supplies they need before they start.  (Generally, we found the supplies to be things we had around the house–drawing paper and supplies was the most common.)  This is where the Reading and Questions activity is located, comprehension questions for the reading.  The student can fill in the answers on the computer and then print them out.  When the Parent Overview is turned on, the answers are displayed for you to check your student’s work:

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In the Activities section, there are a variety of activities and options for the child to choose.  Part of the activities includes the Student Activity Pages.  These, I think, were wonderful.  They take the student, using the literature, through grammar and writing.  Sometimes there are quizzes, as well.  Generally, we found this section invaluable, and Kaitlyn spent quite a bit of time doing research about the Russian Revolution to complete the activities.  She’s really learned a lot!!

Finally, there is the conclusion page, which wraps up the unit.  Pressing the “Finish Lesson” button lets the program know that you’ve completed that lesson, and it crosses it off of the list for you.  There’s also an IdeaShare page, where parents can share ideas to bring the lesson to life.  I think IdeaShare is an AWESOME idea, but for this unit, the IdeaShare was empty, so we didn’t get to utilize it all that much.  In addition, there is a Final Project, a 3-day project that concludes the Unit (along with a Unit Test).  For the Animal Farm unit, it took the student through writing a formal letter (a theme throughout the unit), and taking them step by step through the process.

Kaitlyn liked that it was online, and she really liked how it taught her how to write proper letters.  (Prince Charming and I are both in college at the moment, and writing has been a HUGE deal here lately.  Learning how to properly write is high on her list-of-things-I-must-accomplish-right-now, so she was paying real attention to that part.  And, it was done in an interesting way that helped keep her attention.)  She also enjoyed learning about Russia.  We have the kids learning Russian this year, and with the conflicts in Eastern Europe right now, it ended up being a great time to study Animal Farm.  Since I, um, never actually read Animal Farm, the help this unit gave me to dive deeper into the themes for her was wonderful.  Overall, this unit went VERY well, and I was quite impressed.

 

Health and Nutrition cover

 

We also got to review the Science Package-Health and Nutrition.  Kaitlyn also helped me with this one.  I’ve been knowing for a while I probably should do an actual Health unit with her, and I’m pretty sure I’m legally required to do one… at some time… But I hated health class growing up, so I’ve been putting it off.  This unit made it so easy, though.  We used the physical copy of this book.  The Health and Nutrition physical package costs $46.89, and comes with the spiral-bound workbook and a copy of both The Boy’s Guide to Becoming a Teen and The Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen, written by Dr. Ann Middleton, MD.  In the workbook you’ll find a list of required books and materials (the only required books are the two listed, and the materials list is, once again, easy, household materials).  There is also a vocabulary list, and then you dive right into the 6 lessons:  Feelings, Being a Smart Consumer, Healthy Body, Healthy Relationships, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs, and Nutrition and Exercise.  At the end, there is a Final Project, where the student designed their own Personal Plan for Mental and Physical Health.  There’s also a Parent Overview, with keys, an Age Level Overview, and a Summary of Skills, which would be wonderfully helpful if you need to supply detailed plans to the state.  Also included is a suggested Typical Day plan.

Kaitlyn learned a lot from the Health and Nutrition Study.  You should be prepared for a bit of online work with this one, as well, as the student has research they’ll need to complete.  Overall, this unit was pretty straight-forward, but Kaitlyn enjoyed it quite a bit, and learned a lot.

Moving Beyond the Page can definitely be used full time, and gives you guides to do just that.  There are multiple levels, and you can shop by age or subject.  The ages begin at 4-5 years old through 12-14, and the subjects include Science, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Reading.  We enjoyed these, and I really liked how the final projects wrapped it all up and helped put the bow on the unit, so to speak.  You can buy Moving Beyond the Page as a complete year plan, or as individual units.

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TOS Review Crew: Veritas Press’ Self Paced Omnibus I

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My kids are getting into the upper grades.  I have one officially heading into middle school this year.  That, frankly, is terrifying to me.  Plus, I have my Second Wave, four little ones coming up behind my two big kids.  It’s time I readjusted some things, and finding courses that the big kids can do themselves, that still provides a strong, rigorous education is high on our priority list for the next few years.  With that in mind, I was really excited to begin reviewing Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I, the new self-paced option for middle-and-high-schoolers from Veritas Press.  Kaitlyn (13 years old, heading into 7th grade) helped me with this review.

 

 

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Veritas Press has been noted as a premiere curriculum provider for those looking to use the classical method in their homeschools and even in brick-and-mortar schools.  Now, they’re offering their highly-recommended Omnibus I program in a self-paced format for middle-to-high-schoolers.  The Omnibus I Primary Course is $295 for a year’s access.  The Omnibus I Primary Self-Paced Course Kit with the Omnibus ebook is $151.32, and the kit with no ebook is $137.63.  If this is the first child you have going through Omnibus, you’re going to want the ebook.

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So, how does it work?  After you register, you child will have access to the course, a series of videos, games, and quizzes.  Each day, on your schedule, you access the course.  Most days, there is also outside reading that will be required for the course.  During the review period, we read out of the Bible books of Genesis and Exodus, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.  There are sensitive topics that will be worked through during Omnibus.  Omnibus comes with an advisory to teachers and parents:  It is assumed that the course will only be used with students in 7th grade and up, and those dialectic-aged students are able to biblically discuss topics such as sex and violence, and that there is no part of the Bible inappropriate to discuss with students.  So, this is not necessarily a course you want to just set your kids at and go.  This course will require teacher involvement.  Your children will probably have questions, and you will want to be there to discuss with them.  We also found Omnibus to have a very overt Calvinistic/Reformed tone, so if that’s not your theology, you’d want to take that into consideration, as well.

The course covers the topics of Worldview, Literature, Bible, History, Theology, Art Appreciation, and can cover writing.  It’s not all-inclusive, though, and while this would be a solid core, you’ll need to add in math, science, and foreign language.  That said, in the subjects covered, it is quite in depth.  Omnibus travels throughout history, with Omnibus I covering the Ancient Period, from Creation until AD 70.  Omnibus is designed to be started at 7th grade, so the emphasis is on Logic in the first three years.

Each section of Omnibus is divided into sessions:  Session I is the Prelude, and gives an overall study of the topic.  Sessions II and III are Discussion.  In these sections, you analyze and discuss the topic.  Session IV is Recitation, this is when the comprehension and thinking comes in.  And Session V is Evaluation, with wonderful review questions to get your child thinking deeply.  There are also Optional Sessions if you want to go deeper.  We found that each day of Omnibus I took us at least 2 hours to go through, between the online segment, discussions, and readings.

Kaitlyn’s favorite part of the course was the Art Appreciation.  She loved learning about the Sistine Chapel, and taking a detailed look at some of those scenes.  I have an art guide on my Bible app, and she spent quite a while looking though other scenes of the Sistine Chapel on that, after studying it in Omnibus.

So, what did we like about Omnibus I?  Well, we loved that it was online and self paced.  The quality is really top notch.  While we did encounter some glitches, they were generally worked through pretty quickly, and I have a feeling that a few of them had to do with us being on an iPad instead of on a regular computer.  (NOTE:  You do need Flash to use Omnibus I.  During the review, my hard drive crashed, and we had to move to the iPad.  We found that by downloading a Flash-appropriate browser for iPad we were able to continue to use Omnibus on the iPad.  I would recommend using it primarily on a regular computer, though.)  I liked how deep it went into each subject, and required Kaitlyn to think hard and really expand her writing skills.

What didn’t we like?  I didn’t like the way the Omnibus ebook was set up.  You have to download another program to access it, it just seemed to add a complication in.  I would have preferred it to be in a PDF file or something similar.  Also, you can’t print it off, which, for someone who really works best when physically taking notes, this can be a struggle.  You can, however, highlight, so there is that.

Omnibus is quite Reformed.  You need to be prepared for that, if you are going to use this.  If you do not adhere to the Reformed theology, be prepared to sit with your child and have a lot of discussions throughout the program.  The theology can be a pro to some, and a con to others.  It really depends on your family.

Overall, while this is not something that is going to work for our family, it would be a wonderful resource for many, many families, especially those who are really desiring a classical education for their children.

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