Sunday, June 24, 2018

I Found the One {Scripture & a Snapshot}

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Friday, June 22, 2018

Do You See What I See?

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at YOUR altars, O LORD of hosts, my KING and my GOD.        Psalm 84:3

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Homeschool Review: White House Holidays Unit Studies #hsreviews #UnitStudies #LaborDay @silverdalepress

I've always been enamored with the White House.  Actually, let me just be honest here and tell you that I had always planned for it to be MY house one day.  I really thought that I would be the first woman President when I grew up and I even had a Political Science major with an American Studies minor in college.  I was preparing myself for my future.  During my Master's work, the Presidency was my emphasis of study.  I have read countless biographies and autobiographies of Presidents and their First Ladies and I've enjoyed learning all about the house in which they live.  Fast forward [just a] few years and you can imagine how excited I was to get my hands on the White House Holiday Unit Studies by Silverdale Press LLC.  I couldn't wait to "dig deep" into how the holidays are celebrated at the White House and I wanted to share the rich history behind the how and why with my daughter.  I love celebrating and I thought it would be neat for us to learn about how some of the major holidays that we most enjoy have "roots" in the Presidency.  What a fun way to bring government and history to life!

Way back in the day (when there were still four children learning together), we did some of our best school via unit studies and I loved it.  I really liked being able to combine several different grades of learning while sharing activities as much as we could.  I've always enjoyed having us work on projects around the kitchen table and discuss topics in the living room, but now that there is only one scholar left at Long Leaf Academy, it is not always so easy to find high school appropriate unit studies.  What I like about the White House Holiday Unit Studies is that they are written by a homeschooling momma who gets that whole "group learning" thing and knows that we want easy.  Jill Hummer has walked in our shoes and she understands what we want and need.  She even walks the extra mile by making her studies interesting for high schoolers and she pushes them into excellence with extra discussion.  Jill combines the fun of holidays with the history and traditions of the many American Presidents they are tied to using historical narratives, primary source documents, and easy-to-find supplies (which is mostly stuff that you already have on-hand).  How's that for perfection?

There are currently six holiday unit studies available:  Christmas, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, and Veterans Day -- and a George Washington study is in the works.  Each of these unit studies are suitable for use with students ages 5 - 18 because Jill has written separate lesson plans for K-6th grades (elementary) and 7th - 12th grades (middle school/high school).  I'm down to my very last homeschooler and my daughter is completing her Junior year of high school, so for review purposes, our focus has been on the high school lesson plan, BUT . . . if your family is like mine used to be, you can easily utilize each of the studies in a group learning environment.   The different sets of lessons (K - 6 vs. 7 - 12) in each Unit Study cover similar information, share the same titles, and contain some of the same pictures, but the high school lessons offer a much more in-depth study than do the elementary plans.  For example, in the Veterans Day Unit Study the elementary lesson plan is 4 1/2 pages long, while the high school lesson plan is 8 pages long.  Each Unit Study is comprised of 3 -  5 lessons and each lesson in a study is followed by suggested worksheets or activities and many of the activities can be used with children of all ages.

 All studies are available via download as a PDF file and each study has a separate Answer Key document.  You can utilize them right off of your computer or iPad if you choose, or you can print the file, 3-hole punch, and add the sheets to a binder if you prefer a hands-on copy like me.  I printed each of the Veterans Day (49-pages) and Labor Day (53-pages) studies in their entirety.   I did NOT print any of the Answer Key files, choosing instead to check answers right off of my computer.

Because my daughter and I visited New York City this year, we chose to begin with the Labor Day Unit Study.  Having toured the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island and walked the streets with crazy-high buildings towering over us, it was easy to understand how unfair labor conditions and forced child labor was a problem at the height of the Industrial Revolution.  Pictures of  NYC tenement buildings and crowded streets included in the study helped us to identify and fully grasp the concerns that Eleanor Roosevelt felt needed to be addressed.

Divided into 3 lessons, the Labor Day Unit Study suggests a minimum learning time of 6 1/2 hours of study with additional activities that can expand the study as interest dictates.  Learning Outcomes are stated for each lesson.  My girl read through each lesson independently and then answered the accompanying questions (pictured below) which opened up much discussion for us as we did a then and now comparison.  My mother-in-law worked in a sewing factory for many, many years and she was able to shed light on the conditions found there and offer examples of changes made over the years to improve the work environment.  The unit study provided a great backbone for living history.

One of my favorite parts of the study was the inclusion of primary source documents.  I think it is very important for all of us to see real-life pictures and articles and be able to read the words of presidential speeches.  Included YouTube links offer a multitude of learning experiences and give fodder for extended study.  We visited Chicago a few years ago and Lesson 3 of the Labor Day study took us right back to the heart of the city as we learned that President Cleveland sent federal troops in to restore peace when disgruntled workers began to riot.  Through our study, Labor Day became much more than a last-fling of summer cookout and helped us both to understand the baisc principles of the Fair Labor Standards Act and WHY it is important to us today. 

After working through the pages of the Labor Day Unit Study, we chose to begin looking at the Veterans Day Unit Study as a way to honor the many veterans in our family.  Did you know that Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and that it will be 100 years old this year?

The three lessons that make up the Veterans Day Unit Study include readings, crossword puzzles, study questions, pictures, maps, and practical ways to be involved in your community on Veterans Day.  This study was especially fun for my girl as she was served as the County Veterans Service Officer at Girl's State.  She enjoyed sharing with the girls in her county the many ways that they could actively observe Veterans Day in November.  One of the suggested activities was to attend a Veterans Day parade or event in your community and we did just that when we held posters and cheered on the soldiers at the farewell parade of our local National Guard unit when they were deployed overseas.

My daughter enjoyed studying President Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech and completing the Armistice Day crossword puzzle:

I plan for us to repeat a portion of this unit study in November (there are so many great ways for us to be involved and I want us to do more) and I'm looking forward to including the rest of the White House Holiday Unit Studies in our regular school schedule.  I always intend to celebrate holidays with my family and the very fact that I can make them fun and educational at the same time encourages me to do just that

Silverdale Press

You can find out even more about  Silverdale Press LLC on the following Social Media sites:

I was given the opportunity to review the  White House Holiday Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   Make sure that you visit the  Crew Review to see what other members of the Crew thought of these unit studies and the Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers ages 14-18 course, too.  You can click on the picture below to jump right over there.  

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}
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Friday, June 15, 2018

Homeschool Review: Memoria Press Classical Composition #hsreviews #memoriapress #classicalchristianeducation

Memoria Press offers resources for a classical CHRISTIAN education.  We've been working through the Classical Composition I: Fable Set and Classical Composition II: Narrative Set in an accelerated format in an effort to polish up writing skills before the final senior year.  Statistics state that writing is the greatest weakness of incoming freshmen, and it is our desire to change that in our home.  The accelerated format aids in the development of communication skills as students discover the skills of writing (and subsequently begin to enjoy it).  Great communication and excellent writing skills are exactly what I'm after as we seek for a strong finish to our homeschooling career.

Modeled after the classical methodology known as the Progymnasmata, the Classical Composition series aims to produce students who not only write and speak well, but who write and speak well about GOD and HIS creation.  Students are taught the mechanics behind excellent composition through the Classical Composition curriculum and it is laid out in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow format.  My daughter is using it independently with no issues at all by following the Fable & Narrative Stage Lesson Plans.  

These lesson plans lay out a 34-week calendar to be used Monday through Friday and specify exactly what has to be done each day.  A student is able to complete each lesson in a two-week time period and we have found the accelerated format to be comparable in workload to the intensive online college courses my son is taking this semester.  I like that each day’s work is laid out for her and that she can easily meet the expectations given.  I especially like that there are Instructional DVDs provided for each of these Composition levels.  My daughter enjoys watching each lesson’s video and completing the work required.  I enjoy that she can do this on her own with little intervention from me.

I’m sure you’ve heard the oft-quoted statement that “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”   Classical Composition I:  Fable Set encourages students to imitate good writers so that they can become good writers themselves through variation and paraphrase while Classical Composition II: Narrative Set encourages students to imitate the ideas in passages making sure that they understand and comprehend the meaning behind a particular passage.  This is done through writing and re-writing and writing again.

For our review, we received the following:

  • Fable & Narrative Stage Lesson Plans (9-pages, softcover, combbound)which gives a day-by-day checklist of work to be completed
  • Classical Composition I:  Fable Set which includes the Teacher Guide and the Student Book (both are 101-pages, softcover, coilbound) and the Instructional DVDs that coincide with the Fable lessons.  There are 4 discs that cover all 20 lessons.  
  • Classical Composition II: Narrative Set which includes the Teacher Guide and the Student Book (both are 156-pages, softcover, coilbound) and the Instructional DVDs that coincide with the Narrative lessons.  There are 6 discs that cover all 20 lessons.
The Teacher Guides contain a reproduction of the Student Books and all answers are provided.  This makes it super easy for me to check my daughter's work and gives me Teacher Tips that I find invaluable to the learning process.  The Teacher Tips remind me of intricate details I may have forgotten through the years.  For example, the Narrative Teacher Tips encourage me to be fluent in the figures of description because the more confident I am in my ability to use them, the better my daughter will be as she works to master writing skills.  It also gives me permission to avoid overly complex assignments.  I need the reminder as sometimes I push further than I should.  I tend to force my perfectionism standards without aiming to build confidence.  

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

Classical Composition II: Narrative Set

What does all of this look like in use at Long Leaf Academy?  For review purposes, my daughter (finishing Junior year, heading into Senior year) has been "discovering the skills of writing" through the Classical Composition Accelerated I format.  At this time, she is almosst halfway through the Fable Stage and will be continuing with the Narrative Stage until completion.  We are utilizing the full 34-week program in its entirety.  The Lesson Plans show her exactly what to do each day and the DVDs provide full instruction from Dr. Brett Vaden.

Each lesson focuses on a different one of Aesop's fables and follows the same pattern.  Dr.Vaden reads the fable aloud and points out words that may be difficult for the student.  He explains these vocabulary words in detail and re-reads the fable.  Students then ponder the three plot components of recognition, reversal, and suffering and make note of them in the Student Book.  What we like about the teaching aspect of the DVDs is that Dr. Vaden explains concepts in a way that is easy-to-undertand and then directs students to pause the DVD and answer his questions in their book.  He is very personable and encouraging.  Students learn to use synonyms and write variations of each fable and they learn to create outlines.  The variations and outline are then used to rewrite the fable multiple times.  Walking through each of these steps teaches proofreading skills and self-correction and empowers my daughter as she realizes that writing is not so difficult.

The Narrative Stage follows a very similar format to the Fable Stage.  Students read (or are read) short narratives and discuss vocabulary words found in the reading.  They learn to orally share the story (narrate it) in their own words and focus on the nine components of a narrative:  recognition, reversal, suffering, agents, action, time, place, manner, and cause.  Further practice is given to outlines, variations, and paraphrasing with the culmination of each lesson found in a final draft that inverts the sequence of events in the narrative.  This deductive reasoning exercise helps them to understand perspectives and focus on what is essential to the plot, thus strengthening their writing and preparing them for college essays.

As always, Memoria Press has given us well thought out resources that encourage students to focus on GOD's ideas.  I love that the writings come from men with a heart to further the Kingdom and our appreciation of all that is in it.

Memoria Press

You can find out even more about Memoria Press on the following Social Media sites:
Instagram (@memoriapress)

I was given the opportunity to review the  Classical Composition I: Fable Set and Classical Composition II: Narrative Set from Memoria Press as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   Make sure that you visit the  Crew Review to see what other members of the Crew thought of these resources (and others), too.  You can click on the picture below to jump right over there.  

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Homeschool Review: Critical Thinking Detective Vocabulary (Book 1) #TheCriticalThinkingCo #HSReviews

We are in the home stretch of our homeschooling journey as my "baby" completes her Junior year of high school.  Only one more year and she will be thinking about college.  Of course, each child is different and that calls for a unique approach to how we best school them.  I hope that I have correctly looked at the individual strengths and weaknesses of each of my four children and picked the best path for their specific learning style.  The Critical Thinking Co.™  has offered some neat things to use in this approach over the years, so I was especially happy to introduce the Critical Thinking Detective:  Vocabulary to my daughter.  I know that we need more work on vocabulary and writing skills and this little gem provides some of both.

Written for students in grades 5 - 12, this vocabulary workbook (softcover, 38-pages) offers vocabulary word development in the form of mysteries that need to be solved using your knowledge of words and their meanings.  Acting as the "lead detective," students work through 12 different "cases" to solve problems as presented.  Each "case" contains 18 - 25 vocabulary words that students MUST define and understand in order to prove the guilt or innocence of the given suspects.  They use the vocabulary words to define the parameters of each case, using a process of elimination to make an "arrest."  After students determine the guilt or innocence of the suspects and solve the mystery, they have additional practice using the vocabulary words in a separate fill-in-the-blank activity.  It's really a fun way expand your vocabulary and prepare for standardized tests.  The majority of the workbook is printed in black and white, but the suspects are pictured in bright spots of color for each case.  This helps keeps you interested and makes you want to solve the next case.

The deal is, these aren't easy words.  Using a combination of the hardest words from the SATs and the top words most commonly looked up on an online dictionary, students are stretched and challenged as they explore synonyms and antonyms and use critical thinking skills to narrow down the "suspects" through a process of elimination.  This means that you have to understand BIG WORDS or at least words that aren't used in the normal day-to-day conversation in order to follow the evidence presented in each case.   And if you don't understand the words, you've got to look them up, figure them out, and make them make sense.

Critical Thinking Detective:  Vocabulary offers a fast-paced review, but it's tough.  The page below shows my daughter's first attempt at solving the case of The Antique Double-Dealer.  She thought she would sit down and whiz through the workbook, but was stopped in her tracks and forced to spend some time pondering over each sentence.  I love that she's been challenged to learn new words and to make sure she understands how to use them in the correct context.  I also like that she's honing a new skill -- using a real-life dictionary.  My go-to resource in college was a rather large blue dictionary and I was happy to share it with her.  Yes, I know that it would be MUCH EASIER for her to find these words online, but I like seeing her look through the pages to find the words she is unsure of.

Meant to be used as a supplement, Critical Thinking Detective:  Vocabulary offers additional practice for any grammar curriculum and will help boost your student's conversation skills to a new level.  Personally, I don't want my daughter to just "work through" the pages of vocabulary.  I prefer that she "learn through" the pages instead and I've encouraged her to spend time incorporating the new words into her world through conversation and writing.  As I type this, she is writing a Bill at Girl's State that proposes new drivers must watch a video on the dangers of texting and driving before they take their permit licensing test -- and she's using the very vocabulary words she's been studying. THAT is what it's all about, folks.  Real-life knowledge that becomes real-life skill.

For more information about the many resources offered from The Critical Thinking Co.™  please visit the following Social Media sites:

The Critical Thinking Co.™

You'll want to also make sure to visit the reviews of my fellow Crew members as we are reviewing 6 different resources that will help empower the mind of our children.

As an added bonus, The Critical Thinking Co.™ is offering the following coupon and freebie to my readers:

Free Critical Thinking Puzzles!
A $75 Value! Delivered weekly to your inbox. Choose PreK – Grade 8. Sign Up Now!

Special Offer from!
Free Shipping + 15% Off Any Size Order! Use Coupon Code: TOSCREW18. Expires 12/31/2018.

I was given the opportunity to review the Critical Thinking Detective:  Vocabulary book from The Critical Thinking Co.™ as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   Make sure that you visit the  Crew Review to see what other members of the Crew thought of all of these great resources.  You can click on the picture below to jump right over there.  

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Brother’s Love

By THIS shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have LOVE one to another.     John 13:35

LOVE in action.  THIS is what it looks like.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Prepping for Girl’s State

These lovely ladies will be representing Pike County at Girl's State next week.  I can't wait to hear about their adventure.  I'm super proud of my girl.

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