Category Archives: books

Progeny Press Literature Studies ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

High School Literature Study Guides

Great literature enhances understanding and can broaden views of life. Progeny Press sees this and has created a large line of literature study guides for all ages to help guide students into deeper understanding of ideas found in many great books. We were given study guides for the older end of the spectrum this time, though we have explored some of the younger guides in the past. This review will cover the Little Women Study Guide for High School, Grades 8-12 and the Animal Farm  Study Guide for High School, Grades 9-12.

When you purchase a study guide from Progeny Press, you can choose either an ebook format or a CD for most titles. If you choose the ebook format, you get a link with which to download the guide. The purchase is for the guide only and you will need to obtain the book yourself. Progeny Press does have most of the titles available for purchase on their site. Downloading the guide is very easy and once it is downloaded you can decide how to use it. Both of the guides we received could be used in print or in interactive PDF format.

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Miss L used the Little Women Study Guide. I chose this one for her since she enjoys this book so much. She chose to have the guide printed and to write her answers. It worked well for her this way. I printed the guide in sections and these includes about 5 chapters in each section. Starting out with a short biography of Louisa May Alcott and background information gets the student started in the right directions. There are several choices for pre-reading activities, including looking into Pilgrim’s Progress which plays an important role in the story. There are also some while-you-read activities that can help a student stay focused on the story while reading. These include things like keeping an on-going word list or keeping track of other books mentioned.

For each group of chapters, there are several common sections. These include vocabulary, questions, thinking about the story, dig deeper, and optional activities. The style of questions or activities for each set of chapters varies and the optional activities vary, as well, though there always seems to be a baking choice.

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The vocabulary is a strong part of this particular guide because the words used in Little Women are strong and rich. As with all questions, some of them are stronger than others. Between the questions section and the thinking about the story, the questions move deeper into the application and evaluation end of the question taxonomy, asking more thought from the student. Dig Deeper involves evaluation and use of understanding to consider how ideas from the story impact us. It often includes verses and ideas from the Bible to really drive home the concepts and allow the student to see application in their own lives.

The Progeny Press website has a huge list of the specifics that the student will cover by completing the Little Women Study Guide. It lists the literary techniques discussed, the moral lessons and character values explored, and writing assignments and activities included. Please visit their site to see these specifics.

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Miss L is literal minded (as you can see above), very advanced in her thinking, and wants very clear wording in questions. These guides are a challenge for her because what she sees the questions asking is often not what they are going for. Her extreme out-of-the-box thinking makes them frustrating for her to use. However, I see it as a good challenge for her to stretch her thinking and to try to see even more sides of the story, so to speak. For her, I would not use these exclusively but I see some good coming out of using one a year or so.

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Miss E utilized the Animal Farm  Study Guide for the past few weeks. She chose to utilize the ebook version of the guide instead of printing it. This has been a smooth process for her. Each day, she just opens the PDF on her computer and enters the answers for the activities and questions directly into the PDF. She then saves it before closing each time so that her work is retained.

The Animal Farm guide is a bit different from the Little Women guide, though the purpose is the same – take a look at the story and glean deeper understanding of life from it. It also begins with a synopsis of the story and a biography of the author. It also includes some background information on different governing systems and economic systems, since this book is an allegory of these. The prereading activities for this book are quite large projects, including doing research on Russia, Stalin, and socialism. There also is a list of books and movies that are recommended reading/viewing to get a handle on the ideas that will be explored. Miss E did a short bit of research and reading on Joseph Stalin, including his politics, government, and the state of the people during his time. We discussed what she found rather than having her write or type it up.

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From there each set of chapters includes vocabulary work, a look a different characters or events and what they represent, general questions, analysis questions, dig deeper questions, and optional projects and activities.

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The vocabulary work varies from section to sections but includes words that are not every-day words for us. The student might define something, choose the right word for a given definition, write a sentence with the word, have a multiple choice section, or work with synonyms and antonyms. The questions sections covers knowledge level questions such as why or where. They help focus in on the story. The analysis questions really delve into what the author of Animal Farm was driving at, what he wanted his readers to get and understand. These are designed to challenge the student to understand the story.

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The Dig Deeper questions really look at people, their beliefs and how they act. The Bible is brought into the discussion here and the student is challenged to really consider what goes on and what it might mean beyond the simple view. Optional projects and activities vary from section to section and might include writing a comparison paper, researching a topic or idea, or leading a class discussion. These are designed to really push the student. Due to the other projects that Miss E was working on during using this study guide, she did not tackle any of the optional activities.

The Progeny Press site includes a list of the specific literary techniques, moral lessons, character values, activities, and writing assignments that are covered in Animal Farm. Visit their site to read these lists.

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I really like the depth to which these high school level study guides push the students. Animal Farm is definitely much more of a challenge than Little Women. While I would not want to personally use these one right after the other of these study guides to create a year’s worth of literature study, I do like the idea of using one a year to take a different look at literature.

If you like looking at books with this analytical approach, these would be a great fit for your family. They will certainly challenge the high school student to consider things on a deeper level and, if the optional activies are utilized, I can see this building a really strong literature study for the year using 4-6 of these.

Be sure to read more about other families’ experiences with Progeny Press study guides, from early elementary through high school by visiting the Homeschool Review Crew. You can also read about our other uses of these guides for the following books:

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
The Sword In The Tree
Sarah, Plain and Tall
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Little House in the Big Woods

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Progeny PressHigh School Literature

 

My Reading Lately

My Reading Lately

I have been struggling to get through some books lately but I did manage to read 5 in June. I thought I would share with you what I got through in the last couple of months in case you are looking for something new or different to read.

1 – The Lending Library – This was an ebook that came with our Prime subscription in June. I don’t generally like any of the Prime reading choices since they are all mysteries or true crime or sickly sweet “romance” (read that as WAAAY TOOO much detail that detracts from the story). This one was a fun, clean read about a young lady who finds meaning in books and steps in when their local library has to close long-term for renovations. It was a quick, fun read.

2 – Comparison Girl – I am still working through this one. It is an easy enough read but I found myself reading a few chapters and then kind of sitting on those thoughts for a few days. It is a strong book challenging my thinking, pushing me to conform more to God’s word. I am really enjoying it and am almost done. I do have a review on the blog here if you want more information.

3 – As You Wish – Yes, that “as you wish.” Cary Elwes wrote a book about The Princess Bride and it was a joy to read. Definitely a recommend. Lots of background on his role and the process of making the movie.

4 – The Twenty-One Balloons – We had used this as a read-aloud a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. It came up again as the literature supplement for Miss J’s IEW writing work so I thought I’d grab it from the library and reread it. Still enjoyable.

5 – The Daughter’s Tale – This is one I was given for Mother’s Day and got around to this month. It was set in WWII and is the story of someone trying to survive. There is some tough stuff in it but I still enjoyed reading it. Yet again, it made me wonder if I would have been tough enough and would have had enough grit to survive that time. It is one I would share with others to read as I did enjoy it.

So, that’s the ones I got through in June.

May was leaner, even with so much time sitting and waiting on the girls at dance.

1 – Love Walked In – A quick read about a young girl and a young lady whose lives intersected. It shows the influence we can have on others and the way we walk through trials. Sometimes we have to give up something important to make the difference that is needed.

2 – Control Girl – I started this one before I jumped over to Comparison Girl. They are both written by Shannon Popkin and excellent. I will go back to in, probably in July.

3 – The Artist, The Philosopher, and The Warrior – This one sounded so good, about da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia. I struggled to get into it and just didn’t make it that far. It was tough to follow and really seemed to be so in depth on various topics that weren’t that important or I couldn’t make the connection to that I just quit. I had been looking for a really interesting history/biography but this was not it.

That was all I worked on in May. Or at least all I had written down. Maybe I read others and just didn’t note them. These make 22 books finished so far this year. Not bad. I don’t truly have a goal but at least 52 over the course of the year is what I would like. I didn’t write anything down for March so it is possible I read some I didn’t note. I enjoy reading.

Maybe you’ll find some suggestion in this list that speaks to your interest. Got any suggestions for me? I’d love to hear them in the comments section.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

Book Suggestions (for elementary readers who need more than beginning chapter books)

Book Suggestions (a list for elementary readers who have moved beyond beginning chapter books)

You know my girls are readers. Wait, you didn’t? You definitely need to check out more of our posts then because books are a huge part of what we do and talk about. 🙂

I often get requests for book suggestions. Recently, another request came across my text messages. So, I thought I would share with you our suggestions.

The request was for a 7 year old girl who has progressed beyond beginning chapter books but mom doesn’t have tons of time to preread every book for this young lady. So, knowing that my three girls love to read, she asked for suggestions. Here’s our list:

  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald
  • any of the books by Marguerite Henry – Misty of Chincoteague, Brighty of the Grand Canyon, The Wildest Horse Race In The World, Justin Morgan Had A Horse, Album of Horses, and more
  • Betsy and Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace
  • The Mouse With the Question Mark Tale by Richard Peck – his other books are fabulous for older students and adults
  • any of the books by Edgar Eager – Half-Magic is the first and my girls think it is the best
  • Paddington Bear by Michael Bond
  • Five Little Peppers by Margaret Sidney
  • All-of-a-kind Family by Sydney Taylor (This one does feature a Jewish family. Just noting it as information in case your child is reading alone and this has beliefs you might want to discuss.)
  • Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams

Just a short list but some really strong reads and series to get your reader started with. We absolutely adores these books and they will stay on our shelves for many years!
Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

High School Literature Class – writing a biography of a secondary character

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As she approached the final two books of the year, Miss E was unsure what she was going to do for her final required written work. She had two final projects, one of which had to be a written project of some sort. After reading the next to last book, she still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She asked permission to read the last book. And then the brainstorm hit.

“Can I combine the last two books and write about the wives?”

“Of course!” was my reply. What a great idea. So she quickly set about getting her research figured out. Searching the library site for books to request (we can make requests and pick them up curbside during this virus shut down). Ordering a book off of Amazon (that she paid for herself because she thought it sounded really interesting). Looking up websites and images. It brought a lot of excitement.

As soon as she received the email that her library books were ready, she was asking to pick them up. She had a Venn diagram in the works. She was reading and comparing.

Y’all – this is a fabulous project that has brought excitement and enjoyment. This is what learning is about!! This is the reason I wanted her to choose her projects, with some guidelines to focus it. She found something she wanted to do and has been at it full force for a week and a half now! She is reading more books, reading more articles, searching out information, and finding out more. Times, places, people – they all come more sharply into focus when the student has some direction to the search.

I can’t wait to see her final product but I know it will be great! I had planned to do a formal writing project with her meteorology course as a final project but does not need to happen now. I am able to watch and guide this research and it will be a better final product because she chose it and is interested in it. She will write a cover page, a table of contents, a bibliography. Get all that stuff in, do the editing, and we will have checked off a couple of huge items from the “need to know” list. All because of an interest that developed and she was allowed to run with it.

This is a beautiful part of home education. We had hoped to reignite a love of learning for her when we brought her education home. I know now that we have been successful in that.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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“That’s not something Jesus would say.” – Comparison Girl ~ a book review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the I READ WITH AUDRA in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Comparison Girl - a challenge to listen to Jesus and learn to _pour out_ rather than _measure up_

Right from the start, Shannon Popkin has me nailed. And probably most of us. We compare ourselves to others – all over the place, in all sorts of situations. We are listening to the wrong voice because we are under attack. Jesus would not ask us to measure ourselves against someone on this earth to decide if we are good enough, right enough, or any other kind of enough. Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up
World tackles each of us – this comparison girl – and guides us to hear a different voice. (There is a giveaway link at the end of this review to win a copy of the book.)

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Comparison Girl is a brand-new publication from Shannon Popkin, published by Kregel Publication. It is about 200 pages of Jesus-focused study. Using the Bible to help guide our thinking and understanding, we visit the words of Jesus to learn to listen to His voice. Designed as a 6-week study to be using individually or as a group study (recommended by author), there are also videos to accompany the book for those interested.

Mrs. Popkin describes learning to hear Jesus’ voice by reading what she calls his red-letter comparisons. See, as she reminds us, Jesus himself uses comparison to direct our thinking to the type of attitude that chooses to “pour out. rather than the type of attitude that constantly compares to see how we “measure up.” Looking at the red-letter comparisons Mrs. Popkin found some of these “pouring out” attitudes:

  • The greatest among us is she who serves.
  • She who exalts herself will be humbled and she who humbles herself will be exalted.
  • She who is first will be last. She who is last will be first.
  • and more

The teachings of Jesus are where we need to find our comparisons because Jesus leads our thinking to be like His thinking. And isn’t that the goal? When you know the voice of your shepherd, you follow none other. This is what Mrs. Popkin found in her studies of the red-letter comparisons of Jesus. So, she wants to direct us to hear Jesus’ voice and to recognize the lies of the hiss coming from Satan.

The analogies used are strong and really get the point across well. (in lesson 1) I especially enjoy the picture of the measuring cup. After talking a bit about how we tend to measure ourselves against others, Mrs. Popkin then has us mentally tip the cup so that you are now “pouring out.” When you are pouring from the measuring cup, the lines are no longer of any significance. We can no longer “measure up” because we are too busy “pouring out.” That image resounds well with me. And this is just one example of how practical application is woven throughout this study.

There are 6 chapters plus an introduction and a conclusion. Each chapter is designed to take a week, with five parts in each. Each part has a good bit of scripture woven in. There is a reading to start each day. Don’t skip these as they are the foundation of the thoughts for the day. Woven throughout each day’s lessons, there are many more scriptures. I pulled each one up to read and follow the thinking. Sometimes reading the greater context of the scripture, more than the single verse or part of a verse quoted, I got a greater understanding. Looking up and reading the scriptures drawn on for the lesson really does help push that lesson deeper into your heart.

The conversational tone and practical application, plus the raw revealing of the author’s own insecurities and failures in the areas she is talking about make this a very easy to read study. It draws the reader in and help you feel comfortable opening your own heart a bit and taking a look at which voice you are truly listening to. What a good study this is.

About The Author:

Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 9.24.28 AMShannon Popkin is a writer, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves pointing others to the truth of God’s Word. She combines her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She regularly speaks at Christian women’s events and retreats, encouraging women of all ages to put their hope in God.

Popkin is also a regular contributor for the Revive Our Hearts True Woman and Leader Connection blogs. Her articles have been published by Family FunFocus on the Family MagazineMOMsense and others. She is the author of several books, including Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the BibleInfluence: Building a Platform That Elevates Jesus (Not Me), and Comparison Girl: Lessons from Jesus on Me-Free Living in a Measure-Up World.

Popkin and her husband, Ken, have been married for more than twenty years and live in West Michigan. They have three children—one in high school and two in college.

Connect with Shannon Popkin by visiting www.shannonpopkin.comfollowing her on Facebook (shanpopkin)Instagram (shannonpopkin), or Twitter (@ShannonPopkin).

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Visit the link to enter to win a copy of Comparison Girl by Shannon Popkin, hosted by “I Read With Audra.”

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The Hidden Message ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal

Searching out information and finding meaning is something many people in our world today relate to. Michael Kanis is the author of The Hidden Message of the Great Seal
How Foundational Truth From The Dawn Of Liberty May Rescue A Republic In Peril. In this book from The Hidden Message, LLC, he is seeking to share the information he has found in his own personal search to find meaning in the seal of the United States.


Michael Kanis has made his career in business, through technology, innovation, and wholesale distributions. His faith in God has been a guide and that becomes very clear when looking at his work in The Hidden Message of the Great Seal. It is evident that he has done many hours of research and reading in order to write this, though his background in not in history.

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal takes a look at the seal of the United States of America. Mr. Kanis looks at the designers, the committees that had input, at Congress and its makeup, and many more aspects of the times that would have affected the purpose and design of the seal. It is abundantly clear that this is fascinating to Mr. Kanis.

The Hidden Message book cover

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal is a large, heavy book of over 250 pages. At  9″ x 12″, it is easiest to read at a table. The glossy, full color pages are beautiful and add to the high quality feel of the book. It has 25 sections, including a section of endnotes. Each section deals with a very minute detail of the seal and where it possibly came from. There are many possible influences on each of the images on the seal and Mr. Kanis digs to try to tie these influences together.

Some things Mr. Kanis explored include the glory (the radiating beams of light), the eye, the mottos, and the pyramid. He shares his research and his understanding of how an item like a coin from the time of Justin II (AD 570) is reflected in the pyramid of the seal of the US.

He sees a connection through time of things from long ago, many years before the founding of the US, to today. He believes that there is a message that the founding fathers wanted us to find. He believes that he has found that message and shares it in The Hidden Message of the Great Seal.

My Thoughts:

I found the section on Unity (chapter 22) interesting. A couple of quotes from the chapter that stood out to me:

  • Disunity always weakens. (p 234)
  • Unity is a precious thing; it provides strength to do what cannot be accomplished alone. (p 234)
  • We will never unify around methods; there are always multiple ways to do anything. But we can unify around our shared values.  Values supercede politics, religion, ethnicity, geography, or industry. They are in fact what define us as Americans. (p 235)

I also found the reports to Congress to be of great significance. These are on pages 22 and 23. I found myself referring to them often while reading through The Hidden Message of the Great Seal.

reports to Congress

I found this a difficult book to read. I found the connections Mr. Kanis was trying to make difficult to follow. I admire his research and his dedication to what he wanted to accomplish but I struggle to believe that a message was hidden for so long and only revealed to him, which is what is implied in the reading of the book. There is some really interesting information shared in this book. I found it interesting but I did struggle to follow his logic and reasoning.

An additional note is that the book was edited by students and would benefit from a professional editing. Many of the written references to images are wrong and there are some important endnotes that are missing, particularly scripture references.

If you enjoy deep, challenging reads, this is a great book for you. It will allow you to consider and follow some unusual connections and connect to history in a unique way.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew have read this book and are sharing their thoughts. Find them by clicking on the image below.

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The Hidden Message pin

History on Horseback ~ a Crew book review

History on Horseback_ The Early Years_ 1493 to 1886

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I find as I get older that I enjoy reading non-fiction history books more and more. I still enjoy historical fiction but the non-fiction is something that I am more drawn to. History on Horseback: The Early Years is one that really caught my attention and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Sonrise Stable Books publishes this softback book written by Vicki Watson.

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The premise of this particular style of storytelling is “what if horses could talk? What would they tell us about history?” Vicki Watson found this idea fascinating and explored it, just like we try to encourage our students to do. And what she found was the makings of a unique history book – one that tells the story of America through the animals, particularly horses, mules, and donkeys.

History on Horseback: The Early Years: 1493 to 1866 covers a pretty good sized chunk of America’s history. The horses played some pretty significant roles during those years, whether as pack animals, work animals, or entertainment. This book includes 54 chapters, including a preview chapter from volume 2.

The stories run the gamut from straight out of a historical book to fun and unique horses. You can read about the horses that were first brought to the Americas all the way through some of the specific horses from both the Union and Confederate armies of the Civil War. There are chapters about horses working for the Lewis and Clark Expedition through those used in coal mines. There are chapters on the specific horses some of the presidents used and talk about entertainment like pack burro races.

Two of my favorite stories were the one on the Pony Express and the ones about the ponies in the mines.  The Pony Express was a unique moment in history that lasted only about 19 months but was certainly an important step in the history of the country. It was part of what brought east and west together. And it was interesting.

Pony Express chapter from History on Horseback

The stories about the horses in the mines were much sadder. They were often kept underground, though they were loved by their handlers and well taken care of for the most part. The information was really interesting reading for me.

It has been fun to pull this out to read a section that relates to other things that we are reading or talking about. I would share with the girls a chapter when I read something really interesting or when it aligned with something else we were taking about or reading about.

I can’t see us using this as an actual curriculum as it, by nature, has to jump over large chunk of years in history and important events in history. However, there is a planned activity guide that should be coming out soon; watch the website or sign up for their email to get notified. This guide might help me to see how to use this more as a curriculum rather than a supplement. But it is a really good, interesting supplement.

The images throughout the book are black and white. Many are old photographs or drawings. Many are pieces of artwork. They do a really good job of illustrating the topic. They are beautiful, as can be seen on this title page below.

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The information in History on Horseback appears to be really well researched. There is a long list of sites and books used to research the information. There are plenty of quotes in the books to help you realized that the people that worked with these animals were real. These personal remembrances bring the information to life.

The only issue with it is that it is nearly impossible to trace the information. A lot of the information is from websites and it is just marked by topic. These don’t exactly line up with the chapter titles so it takes a bit of work to further research these ideas on your own.

This is definitely a unique book that will work as a solid history supplement, a stand alone read, or a fun coffee-table book. It is one I would recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read other families’ thoughts about History on Horseback. You can click on the image below.

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History On Horseback the early years

YWAM Biographies ~Jacob DeShazer

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Jacob DeShazer_ Forgive Your Enemies

One of the many fascinating ways to learn about history is to view it through the eyes of someone who has lived it – a biography. YWAM Publishing has created a line of biographies that really zoom in on the lives of missionaries. Christian Heroes: Then & Now offers a look at the lives of 49 different missionaries who have lived and served God around the world, from 1700 through current day. The biographies are written by Janet & Geoff Benge.

YWAM-Publishers-Logo

We first stumbled across a YWAM Christian Heroes biography at a garage sale. My oldest, now 15, enjoyed it a lot and so we went looking for more. We have been collecting them since and have been blessed to review several through the Homeschool Review Crew. This year, we received the book Jacob DeShazer: Forgive Your Enemies and the curriculum guide to go with it. The book is available in paper back, ebook, and MP3/audiobook formats.

As always happens, as soon as the book arrived, it disappeared in the hands of Miss E. She devoured the story in an afternoon and then handed it back to me to read. I read it and found it fascinating.

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Summary: Jacob DeShazer was a gunner on a bomber at the beginning of WWII. He was brought on as one of the famous Doolittle Raiders, without knowing what he was really volunteering for. His team was able to hit their target but they were unable to make it safely to their expected landing area. They landed in Japan occupied China and Jacob was captured. He spent the next 3 and 1/2 years as a prison of war in various locations in Japan. Towards the end of his imprisonment, Jacob turned to God. After he was released and returned to the US, Jacob knew he had to return to Japan to fulfill the calling he had heard from God during his imprisonment. He studied, married, and returned to Japan as a missionary. He wanted to teach the people there about God. He wanted them to know that he forgave them for this wretched treatment and wanted to help them be saved. He even had the amazing experience of some of his captors turning to God and speaking alongside him. He was able to touch many lives through his work in Japan.

The story itself presents much material to consider and talk about. Forgiveness is such a difficult things sometimes, yet here is an example of one who was able to forgive much more than I will, hopefully, ever endure. And he not only forgave, Jacob wished the best for them.

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Unit Study Curriculum Guide: This downloadable study is available if you wanted to take the learning further. This jumps into the story through comprehension questions, maps, activities, people, Bible verses, and much more.

There are 8 parts to the study guide, as well as appendices for additional resources and bibliography.

  1. Key Bible Verses
  2. Display Corner
  3. Chapter Questions
  4. Student Explorations
  5. Community Links
  6. Social Studies
  7. Related Themes to Explore
  8. Culminating Event

Each area begins with some ideas and tips and the reminder that there are more ideas than any one class/person could actually use. So, feel free to pick and choose those areas and ideas that are of the greatest interest to your learners.

When we are using a Christian Heroes: Then & Now book, I really like to use the Key Bible Verses. We may or may not memorize them but I always like to go through them and talk about why these particular verses were chosen for this person. Maybe it was a favorite of the person or maybe it just illustrates a theme, such as perseverance. For Jacob, one of the verses is about being a witness to others. One is about hiding God’s word in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Another is about God being sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

A display corner is finding pictures and items around the house that represent the place, time, person, or theme of the book. The comprehension questions are great. They can really help gauge the student’s understanding and help them think deeper, as you can see in the screen shot of some of the questions below. Student explorations are hands-on areas of discover such as maps or writing or crafts or recreations. There is so much here that you do not need to do it all. Just pick and choose those that align with interest and need.

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Social studies includes more ideas to explore and community links include ideas of places to visit related to the story such as an air base or a farm. Related themes will explore some ideas a bit farther from the core of the story such as propaganda or more about the Doolittle Raiders. The study closes out with a culminating event where the students can be encouraged to show off what they have learned and the items they have completed.

Our use of the study guide and story looked a bit different this time around. Miss E is doing a language arts curriculum that is focused on the YWAM missionary biographies, though Jacob DeShazer is not one of the ones included. After reading DeShazer’s story, Miss E approached it as she has the other YWAM biographies that are included. She did a map of Japan and she noted the important things about him, using her other missionaries as a guide. We talked a good bit about the implications of capture and torture during the war. We talked about God’s use of Jacob to return to his captors and minister to them. We discussed the character and how Jacob’s character changed throughout his life. I accessed some of the discussion questions for our talks.

This story is one that she was very pleased to read, though it is quite a bit different than other YWAM missionary stories. Jacob DeShazer’s biography was written very soon after his died. That is quite unusual but his is an unusual story. It focuses a lot on his time at the hands of the Japanese because that is what it took for him to become humble and hear God. About the last 1/3 of the story is about his training and missionary times. And it is quite amazing to read.

As always, we recommend the YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now series. Other YWAM books we have reviewed include:

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Venturing With God In Congo ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Venturing With God

Missionary stories are fascinating to me and to my oldest daughter. The amazing difficulties that they persevere through in order to share the word of God, the Bible, and the message of salvation with others can be very inspiring. That was the appeal of this book by Darrell Champlin. Venturing with God in Congo is a hardback book of 290 pages that shares some of the stories of the author with his family and coworkers in Congo over the course of about 10 years, before having to be evacuated due to danger from the revolution. It is published by Conjurske Publications.

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The book begins with the author talking about his childhood and adult life. Mr. Champlin discusses how he felt called to missionary work and how deeply that was taught for many of his generation. This section is followed by a similar discussion from his wife, Louise Champlin. Mrs. Champlin is the main editor of this book as it is compiled after the passing of her husband, though he wrote the stories themselves. And then, the stories begin.

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While the stories are fairly chronological, they are independent of each other. There are stories of people, places, events, and animals. They are engaging stories that really bring alive the life of people from the inland, native villages of Congo. Through these stories, the reader learns of the beautiful, tough country, the lifestyle, the living quarters, and the difficulties the missionaries and the people they taught go through day by day.

Living in stick and mud huts for several years, the family learned to live on a diet of mostly cassava leaves and flour, supplemented by a bit of meat from hunts. This meat could be anything from snake to elephant, though it is devoid of the common types of meat in an American diet. They learned to cook over small fires and do laundry in the river, while watching for animals that could be dangerous. They learned to build using what was available in the jungle.

But, the focus here is on the people. The attempts these missionaries made to live with the people of Congo in order to reach them with the gospel. And there were many successes. The beliefs that had to be overcome in order to do this were significant, as is always true in a culture that doesn’t know the gospel of Jesus Christ. There were family issues that had to be understood and worked through. But, they were able to convert many to Christ and these converts stood strong, often in the face of opposition.

One of the strongest stories to me was of a young man who had converted and was studying at their school. He was always there. Always! When he stopped arriving, they were concerned but knowing the ways of the jungle, knew he could have just been delayed. When week after week went by, they grew worried. Finally, after weeks and weeks, he arrived back at the school ready to continue learning. What they found out about him was that his father had illegally killed an elephant and was to be punished for it. The young man knew his father would not survive the punishment as jail there tended to include daily beatings. So, the young man petitioned the judge to allow him to take the punishment of his father. It was allowed. So after the time for his father was served, this young man went back to school to learn to preach God’s word. Now, if that isn’t truly taking the gospel of Jesus to heart, I don’t know what is!

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The heart of the book is what Mr. Champlin wrote above. Many stories in here serve to strengthen and encourage, but they also are just so we can know what others go through in order to serve God. It is intended to help the reader serve God more boldly. Not every one will be a missionary whose lives are in danger often but every one can be a missionary on the street where they live, with those they are in contact with. And that is why stories like this are so important.

I definitely recommend this book. I would love a better map as I like to follow the places the stories take place. I looked a couple maps up online but they don’t really use the same village names. Also, they are often post-revolution maps, so they don’t contain all the villages and places that were burnt and destroyed.

I do know that some of the stories are tough to read and might not be appropriate for a child who is sensitive to the suffering of others or who is frightened from reading stories of danger. Both of these are possibilities for the readers of these stories but that should not prevent us from reading them.

Be encouraged.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Exploring the World with If You Were Me books by Carole P. Roman ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Culture and geography from around the world helps us learn how similar we are to others and to perhaps understand a bit more about their lives. Carole P. Roman has chosen to focus on cultures from around the world with her series If You Were Me and Lived In . . . These books cover countries and cultures all around the glove and they take a look at the lives of the people from the perspective of the children. However, a variety Carole P. Roman’s assorted series exist and include cultural and historical books, bedtime stories, joke books, spy books, and more.

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Each book of the If You Were Me series hits on many of the same points: names, family structure, food, school, clothing, and language. But, since every culture is a bit different, there are differences brought up as well. Perhaps it is government or the how products are bought.

The books show the reader around the country through the eyes of a child in that country. Using the perspective of a child helps us see simply how life is and how different is not bad thing. These cheerful, bright books are always a welcome addition to the library and work beautifully as supplements to unit studies, geography programs, or history programs. They are good for reading aloud and talking about or for reading independently for fun. The only bad way to use these books is to leave them on the shelf.

We have reviewed books by Carol P Roman before and have enjoyed them every time. We have a total of about 25 of her books and cannot say enough good things about them.

Today’s review covers:
If You Were Me and Lived In . . . Brazil
If You Were Me and Lived In . . . Portugal
If You Were Me and Lived In . . . Egypt
If You Were Me and Lived In . . . Mexico

In 2016, we reviewed books on Ancient Greece, Ancient Roman, American West, and Viking Europe. Another time we reviewed the books about Mars, Mayan Empire, the Ancient Mali Empire, and a fiction story titled Oh Susanna! It’s In The Bag. We have also read books on Russia, Poland, and Germany.

We have used these books often to go alongside our geography curriculum. We have also built a study of ancient civilizations using some of these books. They are highly adaptable and flexible and add a unique perspective to many studies.

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If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Mexico: To visit Mexico through this book, you learn about fútbol (soccer), escuela (school), playing with la muñeca (a doll). Learning boys and girls names is fun when one of the names is recognized as a name of a friend. There a places to visit, like Chichen Itza, a Mayan temple from the past or an event to participate in such as Grito de Dolores (the Cry of Dolores). This book on Mexico did a great job of reinforcing what was learned in our geography unit on Mexico.

Miss J’s take on Mexico: I really liked this book because it was so fun and interesting! I like how it tried to pronounce the Spanish words. But it pronounced some of the Spanish words wrong.

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If You Were Me and Lived In . . . Brazil: Visiting Brazil through this book introduces the reader to Portuguese, the official language. Many interesting words are used and the pique the interest of the reader. We read about Carnival, soccer, the market and money, and different foods. It was so much fun to read about the foods that we looked up a recipe for brigadeiros, a chocolate candy, and made them. They were a hit here at the house and at the church (where we took them since it made a large number of pieces).

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Miss J’s take on Brazil: It was interesting. It was interesting reading about different aspects of their life. The word school didn’t sound anything like the word school in English. I found it interesting that they grilled meat on a stick and called it espetinho. They also do grilled cheese on a stick and call it quiejo coalho. I also found it interesting that they changed the capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brazilia. What I didn’t like is that you have to go all the way to the back of the book to find the answers to the questions they ask.

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If You  Were Me And Lived In . . . Portugal: As with all of the books, it begins with an outline map of the country and the capital marked with a star. Then we jump into information on this European country. This will likely be the next book we read together and it will tie in nicely with the book from Brazil as these cultures are linked through things like Carnival, Portugese languague, and some foods. (We are also moving straight into Europe for our geography program and this will tie in perfectly.) Of course, soccer (futbol) seems to link many world cultures, also. The rooster icon’s importance and the volcanic chain were both interesting facts to include in the book.

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If You  Were Me And Lived In . . . Egypt: There is a lot more information included in the Egypt book than in the Brazil book, which is wonderful. Grandparents taking children shopping, holiday like Sham-al-Nessim and how it is celebrated within the family (picnics, painting eggs, and eating specific foods), family picnics on a boat (felucca) all point to an importance of family in this culture. The length of history in Egypt is talked about, as well as the pharoahs and the pyramids.

Miss J has not read this one yet since we have not reached this country in the geography program we are using. But it isn’t too far away and this will be a great addition to the study of that country. I expect we will be making some of the foods mentioned in this book, also. I’d better get the shopping list ready. 🙂

Some features of the books in this series include:

20200306_112033– a glossary or pronunciation guide at the back that helps answer the questions asked throughout the books and gives a pronunciation and explanation of words

20200306_111920– photographs with drawn images over the top to help relate the picture of a particular place to the people in the book

20200306_112020– a simple map of the country with the capital marked

20200306_112004– drawn images that help illustrate what is being described; in this case, different foods.

Final Thoughts:

Carol P Roman does a good job with introducing many cultures and countries through the series If You Were Me And Lived In. . . Some of the books contain a good deal of information and some have quite a bit less. The introduction and personalization they provide for each country is super helpful and allows children to connect. Having the information presented through the eyes of a child is a solid foundation for other children being able to relate.

We do recommend these books for anyone studying world cultures or planning to visit different countries, whether virtually online or in person.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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