Category Archives: curriculum

Jump In – a writing program ~ a Crew review

Writing is something that has come naturally for Miss L yet it is something that she needed guidance and stretching with. Writing poetry, writing stories, creating cards, retelling events – it was all fairly comfortable for her to do. But, there is more to writing, composition, than just the creative edge of it. There is structure and elements to it, as well as different styles yet unexplored for Miss L, that she could use some guidance in. Jump In, 2nd Edition is a new edition of a program that I used with the oldest giggly girl a couple of years ago for learning composition in middle school.  Sharon Watson is the author of this program and it is a delight for youth to work with. Writing with Sharon Watson has produced yet another outstanding program that encourages students to write, to understand the process of writing, and to do well with writing by just “jumping in.”

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We received the digital version of this program for this review. It came as a PDF file. We received both the student textbook and the Teacher’s Guide. Each is a different file.

The Jump In, 2nd Edition student textbook is 292 pages long. It is designed for the student to write their answers and work right onto the page. Miss L enjoys working with the computer and so she used the Fill & Sign option on the PDF reader to type her answers onto the PDF. She then saved it each time she had completed her day’s work so that we had a complete copy of her work. There were some activities that it was better to print so we did print a few of the pages.

example of typing answers into the PDF

example of typing answers into the PDF

 

The student textbook is written directly to the student. There is a Table of Contents and the they are off, jumping right in. The first section, Get Your Feet Wet, has a few skills and gets the student writing in easy bits and pieces right off the bat. The first section is designed to help ease the student’s concerns about writing and help them evaluate what they like and don’t like about writing. It changes the process a bit from the expected. Each section has a number of “skills” and the first section has three. These skills are the small bites that, when put together, create a complete piece of writing.

explaining how they have changed the process

explaining how they have changed the process

The students will work on writing about opinions, persuasive writing, cause and effect,  newspaper articles, narrations, poetry, and more. There are a whole host of styles here for the students to explore with Jump In. And each one of these styles takes the student through it skill by skill. The number of skills in each style ranges from 6 to about 17, depending on what has been taught previously that applies to the writing being developed.

Table of Contents

After the final style of writing, there is a section titled “My Locker.” This section contains checklists and worksheets that the student has used in different sections of the program. There is a page on the steps of the writing process, one with proofreading tips, and one titled “Mistake Medic.” There is a book report form and the worksheet for writing a paragraph. The final important part is the Index. This can help a student use this program long into the future by being able to look up how to write a certain style and getting the tips and tricks Sharon Watson gives in Jump In.

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

worksheet on Create Your Own Paragraph

And, they have thought of everything. Knowing how quickly sources can change, the lesson for creating a works cited page is online. The text tells the student to visit the website for the lesson so that it can be kept up-to-date in this world of every changing technology. What a great idea! No more obsolete texts.

cover of the Teacher's Guide

The Jump In Teacher’s Guide is 123 pages long. It is so much more than an answer key. You do get the answers for each of the skills in the student textbook but prior to that you get a whole lot more. There are three different schedule options – 1 year, 2 year, and 3 year schedules that you can use to help guide you in setting the schedule for your student. A competent, confident student can use the 1 year schedule while a young student will likely be better suited for the 3 year schedule.

Following some random facts (98 lessons called Skills plus 19 more that are assignments and worksheets; “moments of humor may pop up randomly”), there is a list of all of the writing projects or assignments in the program.

some of the assignments to be done including opinion essay, persuasive essay, and cause-and-effect persuasive essay

some of the assignments to be done

Then we get to The Teacher’s Backpack. This contains many of the materials found in the student textbook under My Locker. Plus, we get additional Do’s and Don’ts for different styles AND it is noted on the pages where it is located in the student’s materials.

As a writing teacher, one of the most intimidating parts for me is grading the writing. Sharon Watson removes that intimidation for me by giving us pages of sample essays and grading grids (rubrics or scales). There are sample essays for giving an A, B, C, D, or F. But not just the essay is there. She also includes an explanation of the things that were done well and where improvement could be made for each essay. This is super helpful.

The grading grids are fabulous, also. Not only do we have the example, but we have the rubric which takes out the guess work. Each piece of what should be included in a high-quality essay is listed along with how many points should be given for that skill. (These are found at the end of the guide.)

grading grid for opinion essay

Grading Grid for an opinion essay

There are Ten Minute Writing Plunges included. There are enough plunges (prompts) to be able to use a plunge four days a week each week of the year. They are labeled by month and there are some guidelines to help determine when it is best to utilize these plunges. There is a lot of flexibility with these. These will provide good breaks from the workbook or give some warm-up writing when working on assignments.

The answer key portion of the Teacher’s Guide is well labeled. You can find exactly what the student should be doing with answers to the daily lessons, writing assignments, and schedules. Even when there is no specific answer, there is enough information included for each answer that grading is easy.

example of the answer key showing a skill and what the student must do for that skill

Example of the answer key

Miss L’s Thoughts:

I felt like the amount of instruction given made what I was supposed to do very clear. I like that there are intriguing prompts. The way I was encouraged to do things and the way the examples were given made a lot of sense. As a PDF, this was easy to get to and use. I do think other students would enjoy and benefit from this program.

My Thoughts:

This is a quality program that is adaptable and flexible, making it easy to work with what your student needs. It is easy to use. Miss L completed one skill a day, about three days a week with more time dedicated to the final writing assignment in the style. Opinions was not a simple style for Miss L to start with. But, we felt like it was important to work through the styles in the order presented so that the skills can build one on another.

This is a high quality program that empowers the student to work hard while learning skill by skill what is needed to write strong, effective works. Whether a young 6th grader or a high-schooler who needs a bit of help with writing, this program will provide the encouragement and support the student needs to become a strong writer.

Visit the Writing with Sharon Watson website to get a sample of Jump In, 2nd Edition.

Also, if you are looking for a high school literature course, take a look at the review we did of Characters In Crisis. It was a great program for high school that my oldest giggly girl really enjoyed.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews. Many families have been using Jump In so you can read how it worked for their students.

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The Kingdom Code (financial education) ~ a Crew review

The Kingdom Code review

Financial education is something that should not be neglected yet is often not considered as important as other subjects. At the Teach Them Diligently convention held in Waco, TX, we stumbled across a little gem of a company – The Kingdom Code. They offer a course in financial education through the formation of a business run fully by the students and working on personal and business budgeting in the process. Their The Complete Starter Kit  looked so wonderful. We were unable to purchase it that weekend but definitely had it in our sights for later this year, hoping to find a place to have it fit in our fall schedule.

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When we got home and I opened up my Homeschool Review Crew email, I found that The Kingdom Code was the next vendor we were being asked to take a look at. Now that is not a coincidence! We were very excited, especially my 15 year old daughter who had two business ideas in her head that she wanted to figure out what to do with. We were thrilled to be chosen to be on this review.

The Kingdom Code is a company that was designed to help educate students at a young age about budgeting, spending wisely, managing money, and running a business. What a great idea! Geared towards grades 3-6, it can easily be adapted to work for older students. If you are looking to make it a high school credit, you may decide you need to add an additional budgeting book to it but there is a lot of meat to this program all by itself.

All three of the girls decided that they wanted to work through the program after it arrived and we were happy to accommodate that as we understand the importance of learning to handle money wisely. And the earlier, the better. We receivedThe-Kingdom-Code-Complete-Set

There are free lesson samples available on The Kingdom Code website.

The Kingdom Code textbookThe textbook came as part of The Complete Starter Kit. This 240-page, spiral bound text has 27 lessons that are recommended to be taught no faster than one lesson a week, through two sessions. There are a number of features that I find to be a huge asset. Each lesson has a different character focus, such as seeking wisdom, having courage, showing honor, or being thrifty. This is a code of honor that Kingdom Code Kids are encouraged to follow and is put into a Biblical context, with a focus on trusting in God to guide and provide. There are Bible verses in each lesson to help students frame the information in a Godly manner. There are studies of people who have created businesses and done well with them, highlighting that success but not ignoring the failures and struggles along the way. There are letters from “Aunt Jimmi” which helps students see the idea that is being talked about in the lesson and putting real life experiences to it. There are discussions, worksheets, additional research, and so much more!

Two pages from The Kingdom Code text

Each lesson follows approximately the same set-up. Starting with a proclamation, the students begin their worksheets, have a quest for the clue (often historical in content and leading to the character focus of the week), learning the code of honor, applying that to their business or life, marking the treasure map and then going through some On Your Own activities. There are a few other parts of lessons that will come in but these are the main ones.

Two pages from The Kingdom Code textFollowing the On Your Own activities is a recap of the Kingdom Keys for the lesson and then some additional Bonus Code Work. These are activities to help the student internalize the ideas even more. Some of these are hands-on and some are more abstract. For example, you might write a jingle to remember the JOEYS letters for budgets, write a letter of encouragement, take a trip to the bank, make a flipchart or have a discussion. Each lesson also includes vocabulary words that are important to financial matters and the Code of Honor, including words like financial, entrepreneurs, taxes, pride, and perseverance.

The Kingdom Code Teacher's Guide coverThe Teacher’s Guide is a black and white set of 132 pages, hole punched and ready to go in a teaching binder.  After the listing of what all is included and A Note to the Teacher, there is an Introduction that gets you started with step-by-step instructions. This walks you through the purpose of each part of the lesson and each of the additional materials that go with the program. (These additional materials are found in the Student Packet.) It is a bit intensive up front to set it all up and get familiar with the program.

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Lesson example from the Teacher's Guide for The Kingdom Code

Next in the Teacher’s Guide you get the lesson plans. These are extensive lesson plans and are set up for two sessions per lesson for most lessons. This gives you a full year’s worth of financial curriculum. Each lesson gives you the objective, learning goals, and essential questions, a list of materials, any suggestions or reminders, and the two days worth of lessons. There are specific instructional materials for each part of the lesson and each activity for the lesson. It is very thorough. You also have the answers to the worksheets and suggested enrichment. At the end, there are some assessments and feedback cards, with a few other blank forms that may be needed.

The Kingdom Code map for progress tracking.

The Student Packet is intended for use by one student as the materials are consumable. This is where you find the worksheets to go with each lesson. There is a map for tracking progress by using stickers. There is a set of stickers to use with setting up the budgeting part of the program. There are flashcards to help students learn and remember the vocabulary for each lesson, noted with the lesson number. This is where the “rubber meets the road” so to speak – these forms, notices, worksheets, and vocabulary become the part that is carried with the student throughout their lifetime. The instructions for setting it all up are found in the Teacher’s Guide.

There are several forms and notices available on the website for those who have purchased the curriculum and are customers of The Kingdom Code. These include calendars, ledgers, income statements, and more.

The Kingdom Code JR Budget Kit

The JR Budget Kit is a small package that includes a budget poster, a sticker set, six coloring pages, budgeting percentages page, and instructions on using the budget kit. It is a simple way to begin budgeting and helping students learn to allocate money. It uses the same budgeting allocation as the business kit, only does not include putting money into the business. It is appropriate for very young students with guidance from parents.

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book20190616_210334

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book is a 32-page book of coloring pages for students that may be too young for participating in the business part of the program but are listening to the lessons. They can color pictures of bible verses, knights, treasure boxes, budgeting shields, and more. It could be very good in combination with the JR Budget Kit for younger students, though some of the pages are the same.

All of this comes together to be a practical application of financial literacy. We started really strong with the program and everyone is pleased with it. It is not difficult to teach, nor is it difficult for older students to work through on their own, though they will need guidance along the way. We have spent two days per lesson so far and feel that it is a fairly comfortable pace during full school days. Days can include reading text, discussion, brainstorming, or completing worksheets, among other activities We slowed down when it came time to really figure out what business was going to be pursued to get that solidly in place.

The Kingdom Code activity

The focus of The Kingdom Code for the first business is a service based business. This is a great idea for younger students but it was a difficult thought for the older girls when they already had ideas for goods based businesses. But, after we took an extra couple of days to think about what service based might look like (not everything has to be mowing lawns or cleaning houses), some good ideas were come up with. Miss E realized that she was actually already do a service-based business – sign language interpretation.

Miss E signing to a player at a baseball game.

Miss E signing to a player at a baseball game.

She took this idea and will be working further with it. It was quite a realization to discover that, without the formal recognition and paperwork, you are already working as a volunteer business. She is planning on teaching her younger sister sign language this coming year and that will be where she takes this program next – applying the business building materials to her job as sign language interpreter and instructor. We had planned to have someone teach Miss J anyhow, so Miss E will be earning pay for this service.

We are pleased with the program and plan to pause with it for the remainder of the summer as the girls’ camps, missions, and conventions are starting. But, come fall, this will be on the curriculum list for high school, middle school, and elementary. I plan to have Miss E read a book on personal finance that we really like, as well as write a paper or keep track of budget for a few months, in order to grant her a high school credit.

Miss E looking at the Student Packet.

Miss E looking at the Student Packet.

I am going to close this out by letting Miss E have your ear/eye for a bit to give you her review of the program.

Miss E’s review:

I really liked this curriculum. I think that our whole family wanted to do the goods based business first rather than the service based, but I enjoyed the first few lessons just the same.

Something that I would change would be the worksheets for preparing your service business. I don’t see any reason to come up with 5 different businesses, then narrow it to 3 without even doing anything with them, and then working out the barest minimum of a plan for all 3. I personally had minor problems with the service based because our family’s schedule during the school year is full of commitments and on top of that, a number of my commitments were service jobs that I did not charge for.

I do understand that the curriculum was not designed for a high school freshman like me, but I think that it would work with a little bit of tweaking. The material was a little bit easy for me, except for figuring out a service based business. I would enjoy seeing a higher level KCK curriculum.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this is that it brought God into everything. Again, it was not talking about God on my level of comprehension, but a younger level. To be honest, I never really thought about what to do with the money once you had earned it. Obviously, you spend some for the business, give some to God, and save some, but I never thought about how much goes where.

I really want to learn about managing money and a business because I might want to own a business someday. Or I might sell bracelets or something. And even if I don’t, it is still a really good thing to know.

As you can see, this appeals on many levels and is guidance that is much needed in our society. One of the things I was blessed with growing up is strong financial stewardship examples. At Home Dad and I have talked often about the best way to pass Godly financial stewardship on to our girls. The Kingdom Code is helping in that goal.

I also have a code for you to use when ordering to receive 10% off of your order on The Kingdom Code webside. I do not know for how long this code will be good so don’t hesitate in using it. This is a worthwhile curriculum.

Coupon Code:  10TKC33

Blessings
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to see what other families thought about The Kingdom Code
program.

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Lightning Literature & Composition Grade 4 ~ a Crew review

Hewitt Homeschooling Lightning Lit 4

While my youngest girl loves stories and being read to, she doesn’t always have the drive to read for herself in a constructive and discerning manner yet. Hewitt Homeschooling Resources has a series of literature and composition curriculum that I have long been interested in. We were actually a part of their grade 3 beta program a few years ago and used it for several books. I liked the way it flowed and so when we were given the opportunity to work with the Grade 4 Lightning Lit Set, I was glad to do so. It came with the Teacher’s Guide and the Student Workbook, both soft cover books.

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While Miss J is often considered 5th grade for this coming school year, I took a good look at the samples for the level on the Hewitt Homeschooling website. It showed me enough to know that since Miss J is a strong reader but is not always able to answer comprehension questions about the reading easily, this might be a really good fit for her. The books are pretty challenging, in my opinion, for a 4th grader who is not a super strong reader with strong comprehension. Take a look at this list.

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There are a total of 12 books on the list. Not included in this picture from the Student Workbook is Tuck Everlasting and The Borrowers. I also felt that the grammar includes so many skills and covers so many concepts that she has not yet dealt with that this would be a very good challenge for her. With a total of 36 weeks of materials, this is easily a full literature, composition, and grammar curriculum.

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I really like the way the Student Notebook is put together. The pages are perforated and set up by week. I can easily take one week’s worth of work out of the book and staple it together. Miss J then only has to deal with those pages and not the whole 400+ pages of the workbook.

Miss J started at the beginning of the workbook and has worked through several of the weeks. She is currently working on the book The One and Only Ivan. She has completed The Earth Dragon Awakes and Morning Girl. Each week is set up with four days. The fifth day is left as an optional day where additional work could be completed on the composition project or maybe completing an optional workbook page. Each week from the Student Workbook has a cover page that indicated the week and the pages of the book that will be read during that time.

Lightning Lit

The second page of the week has a checklist that shows what will be done during the week. It includes the readings, broken up into four parts. There is also the grammar pages to be completed on each of the four days and what they are, such a common and proper nouns. The composition is also included here and broken up into four parts, as well as any extra activities that can be completed if assigned. I did assign the extra worksheet pages, as I felt they were really helpful and Miss J completed them on day 4 of the week.

 

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The readings did a great job of putting the story into smaller chunks for each day. There were daily comprehension questions to go along with the reading. These always asked the student to think deeper than the surface understanding of the story. For example, in The Earth Dragon Awakes, there were questions regarding the understanding one of the characters has of another. In Morning Girl, the student was asked to recognize the emotions of the character and to use examples from the text to support the answer.

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The grammar portion of the work builds slowly upon the work that comes before it. This level started with nouns on the first day. Then it added the recognition of common nouns and proper nouns. The week ended with abstract nouns. Week two dealt with verbs, including linking verbs and helping verbs. Week three added types of sentences and week four added adjectives.

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a simple start to diagramming sentences

Each week, there was also diagramming sentences, beginning in week 3. This is something I have never done formally and so it was a learning experience for both Miss J and myself. The diagramming is handled very well, adding very small chunks each week. It is not overwhelming and the Teacher’s Guide is really helpful for me here.20190613_135255

Speaking of the Teacher’s Guide, let’s take a look at what it offers. It does include the expected – answers for the workbook pages the student completes each day. But there is quite a bit more to it. It is quite a bit more compact that the Student Workbook as it contains only around 250 pages. It begins with the table of contents listing each of the books for the weeks. The information is also listed by week, after the initial “How to Use This Teacher’s Guide” section.

Don’t skip the “How to Use” section. It includes a lot of information about why the curriculum is organized the way it is and why the choices were made to include things. There is information that will help with understanding the best ways to guide your student and suggestions for modifying where needed.

Each of the week’s lessons have additional information for the teacher that will help you be prepared to address concerns with your student or to guide them in discussions. Each section of the student’s workbook pages have a section in the Teacher’s Guide, giving answers or suggestions.

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I do wish that the Teacher’s Guide has a listing of all of the aspects of grammar and composition that are specifically addressed. This information would be really helpful if you are coming to this from a different curriculum or need to go to a different one for next year. (Grade 5 is in progress for Lighting Lit. See their website for the listing of books and outline of what is coming in Grade 5.)

The grammar and composition pretty well go hand-in-hand throughout the study. What is being worked on in grammar is often part of what they are being assigned to include in the composition. The concepts covered include:

  • nouns
  • verbs – from basic verbs to linking and helping verbs to the different tenses of verbs
  • adjectives
  • pronouns
  • conjunctions
  • articles
  • homophones
  • poetry – terms, types, rhyme, stress
  • punctuation – commas, quotations marks, ellipses, etc.
  • capitalization – sentences, in poetry, in letters, names and titles, etc.
  • figures of speech – onomatopoeia, simile, metaphor, personification
  • writing techniques – alliteration, assonance

Through the lessons, the grammar portion circles back to review concepts and ideas that had been previously taught and to take the student a little bit deeper. This is done through intentional reviews or by including the more complex form of the concept, such as specific types of clauses or different tenses of the verbs.

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Yes – this is my handwriting instead of Miss J’s. It was a hard day but she walked me through what to do and I did the writing for her. She learned the diagramming information, regardless of who did the writing.

And almost always, this is tied into the skill of diagramming a sentence. Teach the idea; practice the idea; diagram a sentence with that included. This is the process and I feel like it is a strong model for continued growth and learning.

We chose this for Miss J and I feel like the material covered, and the way in which it is covered, will more than challenge her this coming year as we continue on with this program. Hewitt Homeschooling Resources seems to have an advanced program so definitely take a look at the samples when you are getting ready to order materials.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Click on the banner below to read the reviews of others who were reviewing materials from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. These materials included:

Grade 1 Lightning Lit Set
Grade 2 Lightning Lit Set
Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set
Grade 4 Lightning Lit Set 
My First Report: Solar System, Grades 1-4
Chronicles of __ State History Notebook, Grades 3-8
Joy of Discovery w Learning Objectives Adult/Teacher
Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set  
Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set 
American Early-Mid 19th Century Gr 9-10
American Mid-Late 19th Century Gr 9-12
Speech  Gr 9-12.
British Early-Mid 19th Century Gr 10-12
British Mid-Late 19th Century Gr 10-12
British Medieval Gr 10-12
Shakespeare Comedies Gr 11-12
Shakespeare Tragedies Gr 11-12
British Christian Gr 11-12
American Christian Gr 11-12  

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The Wars of the Jews (Memoria Press) ~ a Crew review

Wars of the Jews FB

Memoria Press is a classical education company that publishes high quality materials. We recently received The Wars of the Jews set to review and it was the perfect finish to Miss E’s 9th grade literature for the year. This is a ten lesson course that takes a look at the historical fulfillment of the prophesies regarding the fall of Jerusalem, which happened in AD 70 at the hands of the Roman empire.

Wars of the Jews Pin

The Wars of the Jews is recommended for grades 9 and up, which seems to be a solid recommendation. The set includes three books:

There are samples on the website for each of these books.

The text The Wars of the Jews: The Fall of Jerusalem is an English translation (by William Whiston) of the writing of historian Josephus. Josephus was a Jew who was captured and became a Roman advisor and citizen. He is considered to be a leading historian of the times and was present with the Roman army at the siege and fall of Jerusalem.

The 141 page long soft cover text is Book V, chapters 6-13 and Book VI, chapters 1-10 of Josephus’ writings. There are also endnotes in the text. This is an historical text and as such, it presents some challenges. The language or phrasing can sound different to our ear and that means that it is sometimes beneficial to read a passage out loud to help understand it. Also, there are many people presented that had a role in this event and it takes some effort to keep them straight.

It is a classical text and so is not a fast read. The time spent in reading the text helps the reader to really understand why Jerusalem was an important city and why it was one the Romans felt it necessary to overtake. The Jews were fighting a lot amongst themselves and the Romans really benefited from this disunity. The text begins by introducing us to the Jews in the city. It then carries us through the Roman siege, the change in leadership of the Roman army, and the final destruction of the city.

Wars map image

The text has included helpful maps of Jerusalem so that students can understand the movements of the Romans and the Jews and how the strategy of attack worked. There are photos of historical sites, such as the wall of Jerusalem and the site of Antonia. There are drawings of what the temple looked like and Roman siege weapons such as the catapult. There is also pictures of statues such as the one of Titus and another of a curved trumpet. These all help the student to understand the historical context and importance of this event.

Wars catapult

The endnotes are related to people and places in the text that benefit from further explanation. They are correlated to the text through numbers and are easy to find. They are helpful and interesting.

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The start of the endnotes section in The Wars of the Jews.

The Student Guide for The Wars of the Jews is also a softcover book that is about 8 1/2 x 11 inches. It includes 26 pages of work for the student. It has a Table of Contents, the lessons, and a review. Each lesson covers two pages. The lesson includes Facts to Know, which are important people, places, words, and quotes. It then has several comprehension questions with blanks for the student to write in.  Some of the lessons include vocabulary words. The final review is three pages long and reviews all ten lessons in preparation for a test.

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The Teacher Guide is the same size as the Student Guide and is almost an exact replication of it. The difference is that the Teacher Guide includes the answers to each of the comprehension questions and part of the review. It also includes a reproducible test and test answer key.

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Our Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this text and appreciated that it was a short study to fit nicely at the end of the school year. Miss E was able to complete the study in about three weeks, working on one lesson per school day.

We had listened to an audio drama earlier this year about the fall of Jerusalem so it was good to be able to follow that up with the historical account of the events. That kind of connection is beneficial.Wars of the Jews Teacher Guide

One thing I would love to see included in the Teacher Guide is a page number reference for where the answer is within the text for the comprehension questions. I read through the text and I struggled to help Miss E with some of the questions that she had because I couldn’t find the passage. I could read her the answer from the Teacher Guide but it always makes a lot of sense to be able to go back to the text and read the passage, putting the answer in context.

Miss E’s Thoughts:
The Wars of the Jews was really interesting. I did find some of it hard to understand because of the language. I have read, and really enjoyed, a fiction book that was set right after the fall of Jerusalem. Some of the characters in The Wars of the Jews were mentioned in the book I read. This gave me a little bit more of an insight into everything that had happened before the start of that book. I think that this was a really good “school thing” but I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone for just reading, though I have a friend who would probably enjoy reading it for pleasure. It would be a good fit for probably as young as some 7th graders (my sister could have used this set) and be too easy for some high schoolers.

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We have had the pleasure of reviewing many things from Memoria Press. These include:

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews from other families who reviewed The Wars of the Jews, as well as

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Hands-on Science with Supercharged Science ~ a Crew review

Supercharged Science

If your students are anything like my girls, science that can be either really exciting or teeth-pulling stressful. We have been having some really excellent science days lately with Supercharged Science. The online science curriculum we have been working with has options for K-12 (and beyond). I am so glad we are going to have access to the  e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum for a good bit longer because we are having some good fun with it. Oh, and learning science, too!

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Aurora Lipper is the founder and educator for the online classes. With the tremendous science background Mrs. Lipper has, your students get to say that they are taking science from a rocket scientist. And they are! Mrs. Lipper knows her materials very well and does a great job presenting them in a way that keeps the student’s attention while filling their heads with the knowledge they need for the topic.

The online science space for Supercharged Science can be navigated by grade level or by topic. You can choose either one and you can easily jump back and forth between the two navigation options. You have a single login for your family and so from there, they each will go to where their current work is located.

If you are navigating by grade level, you will see an image for each grade level, K-8. High school level material is found in the topics. Under each grade level is the list of the concepts taught in that level. Some of the concepts are found in multiple levels as the material increases in depth and some of the hands-on activities/experiments are repeated in different levels since the material is appropriate in multiple places. The placement of materials is based upon Mrs. Lipper’s experience as an educator and the national science standards.

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If you are navigating by topic, you click that at the top of the screen and it will take you to a list of all possible topics. There are total of 26 units. If you are new to science, or formal science, there is an overview of science and an introduction to the scientific method. There is also a unit on science fair projects, one on math activities, and one on teaching resources. Add in all the units on electricity, chemistry, physics, and other expected science topics and that’s a ton of materials!

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The units, whether accessed by level or topic, contain basically the same materials:

  • written introduction
  • video introduction
  • shopping list for hands-on activities/experiments
  • reading downloads
  • experiments with a video for each one
  • downloadable student worksheet and exercises for each experiment (often one for younger students and one for older students)
  • exercises for each part of the unit to check understanding

reading and exercises

How We Have Been Using Supercharged Science

When we received access to the program, I logged in and became familiar with how to navigate the program. (We reviewed this program previously and the navigation is the same at this point. However, see my note at the end of the review on the soon-to-be-released new site with better navigation.)

Screenshot 2019-05-27 at 5.52.42 PMThen Miss J and I sat down together and I let her just explore the options. We looked at grade level and then at topics. I let her watch some of the videos and look at the possible experiments. After looking at the grade five level, she decided that she wanted to do some things with gravity and magnetism. So, she started working on Unit 1: Mechanics through the topics menu. I bookmarked the main page of this for her, with her name next to Supercharged Science, so that she could easily find where she was.

Miss L sat down on her own and explored the options. She chose to work with Unit 10: Electricity. She really wants to tackle Unit 14: Electronics but realized that it would be good to have the background of electricity first. So, she has been working through that unit first. She also has the unit bookmarked with her name on it so that she doesn’t have to click through many pages to get to where she is in the unit. We have updated the pages a couple of times as she works through the unit so there is less clicking needed. (It looks like the number of clicks that will be needed is going to be a bit less on the new site.)

Miss E has been watching the videos on the high school level Unit 15: Chemistry 2. She did a chemistry class this year and so seeing some of that chemistry put into use has been a great extension of her course. She watches probably two experiments per day. Since this is “bonus” work for the chemistry class she took, she is not doing the worksheets.

Mechanics: 

This unit covers force, gravity and friction. There are 9 experiments to go with force. There are two teleclasses and three experiments to go with gravity. There are seven experiements to go with friction. We work on science 4 days per week and we generally do one video and experiment per day. We are in the friction section now and it has been a blast getting here.

Miss J enjoys hands-on and so this is obviously just right for her. She likes to see things done for her (the video to go along with each experiment is perfect for this) and then she likes to do them. She has found most of the experiments are able to be replicated, though not as easily as the video makes them look. (But isn’t that a great lesson – try, try again?)

hovercraft

Some of her favorite lessons have been the barrel roof, the paper airplanes, and the simple hovercraft. She has also done several experiments with balls (dropping them, throwing them, comparing them).

 

While those demonstrated concepts well, the real fun comes when you make something. We made a simple compass, made a paper clip fly, and registered the minute movements of the earth’s electromagnetic field with a machine we made.

 

She even used static electricity to move objects.

Each of these lessons varies widely in the amount of time required. If you are viewing a teleclass, the video can be close to 50 minutes. If you are doing a simple experiment, like the one we did about force using a rope, it can be just a couple of minutes for the video and five more for the experiment. Some days, you can easily get in more than one experiment and that is why the shopping list is great. You can use it to gather all the materials you need for the unit before even starting the unit. That saves time in the long run because no one likes to spend time gathering materials for the experiment when the student is ready RIGHT NOW for the experiment.

Electricity:

Miss L has been able to do most of this unit on her own, though some of the experiments she has skipped because I couldn’t find the right materials (that I KNOW we have some where). *See note above about the shopping list and gathering materials prior to the unit.* She works very independently so I am not exactly sure just how far she has gotten in the unit. She does one video and experiment each day. electricity experiment 1

This unit has two lessons: circuits and components, and robotics. In the circuits and components sections, there are 13 experiments. In the robotics section, there are 15 experiments. Miss L has made some interesting looking contraptions with her experiments, some of which have worked well and some which have not. For one that did not work we were able to determine that it was probably due to the humidity levels (over 90% that day) so she plans to try it again soon. It is a good lesson for the student to have to figure out why something isn’t working like Mrs. Lipper says it should. Lots of lessons are learned that way.

Chemistry:

chemistry video

This unit includes 2 lessons. The first has one teleclass and nine videos. The second has one teleclass and 38 (yes! 38!) experiment videos. Many of the videos in this unit are for things we cannot do at the house so it is amazing to have good videos of the chemical reactions and excellent explanations of the results that are being seen.

Miss E spends about 20 – 30 minutes on this each day. Because we are using this as an extension of her previous chemistry class, I am not requiring the worksheets or exercises from her.

Overall Thoughts

This is an exciting online science program with solid explanations and clear examples. With all of the visual examples of the concepts being show in the experiments and then being able to do most of the experiments, this truly is a science program that teaches and shows the concepts. The students are truly able to see and understand better because of this.

When we reviewed this previously, it was just as good of a program but it didn’t fit us as well. The girls were younger and so it took a lot more preparation on my part (gathering materials and deciding what videos to watch, etc). I had to do all of the navigating and they didn’t always want to work on the same materials. With them older and more independent, this is a much better fit. I don’t know that this program will peter out of use as it did before since the girls are each working on something that is of interest to them. They all seem to be getting much more out of it this time around.

Note on New Site

There will be a new Supercharged Science site introduced soon. The content is all going to remain the same. There will still be all the same parts of each unit and the worksheets and videos will all still be available as they are on the current site. The new site will have easier navigation and is easier on the eyes. There is less of the stark white and more soothing blue, which makes it a pleasant experience. The girls and I have been given a sneak-peek at the new site and I really do like the way it is going to be set up. It will make navigation easier. We will still bookmark each girls’ part of the site in a different bookmark so they can get to their own unit easily but overall, it is much easier to go from place to place and to get to the worksheets or videos or whatever you need within the unit. Be looking for this new site to roll out soon.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A number of families from the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out Supercharged Science.

Head over to the Crew blog to read about their experiences.

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Pathway to Liberty ~ a Crew review

Pathway To Liberty Review

History can be such an interesting study when approached with enthusiasm but by the same token can be a boring subject when approached from a flat, disinterested viewpoint. Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum takes more of the first approach and we are enjoying it more each week. We received levels 2, 3, and 4 of Pathway to Liberty’s World History from Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum. I asked for this level as it moved us forward in our study of history; we had been recently talking about the American Civil War.

Pathway to Liberty was founded by homeschool mom Jayme MacCullough. She found, while teaching her own students, that the curriculum choices she had did not meet her personal standards and desires. These included biases and what she described as incomplete or revised histories. To combat this, she began studying the principles on which America was founded and true liberty. Out of this study came this curriculum.

 

Pathway to Liberty consists of four years, which cover from creation through the 21st century. The four years, in order, are:

Year 1 – Pathway to Liberty’s Universal History,
Year 2 – Pathway to Liberty’s The Middle Ages,
Year 3 – Pathway to Liberty’s US History,
Year 4 – Pathway to Liberty’s World History

Pathway to Liberty

There are four levels for each of these years. These grade levels are approximate. My 9th grader used level 4 and we found it be not any more difficult than the level 3 materials, though it did use different source materials. The recommended grades per level are:

Level 1 – Kindergarten through 3rd grade
Level 2 – 4th grade through 6th grade
Level 3 – 7th grade through 9th grade
Level 4 – 10th grade through 12th grade

We received World History. This has been an overall good study so far and we are looking forward to continuing with it. I expected a more world-wide centered view from the curriculum. It is very US centered, though it does look around the world some in light of the fact that there are so many wars to cover. We have covered WWI pretty well at this point, and while we did talk about some of the causes of the war and the parties involved in it, the level 2 and 3 books really focused on the US presidents during that time rather than a wider world-view of the war. This is not bad, in any way, just not quite what I was expecting.

Pathway level 2 and 3

We have enjoyed reading the source materials for Pathway to Liberty. For levels 2 and 3, we are using books from the Joy Hakim’s series A History of US. Level 4 is using The Century by Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster. These are well-written materials that are age appropriate, though I wouldn’t mind seeing the level 3 source a bit more challenging as much of the level 2 and level 3 materials are exactly the same.

Pathway level 4

Pathway to Liberty book and video

There are also plenty of videos to watch that come from various sources on YouTube. There is a Pathway to Liberty channel on YouTube that has most of the videos linked there in a playlist. We did have to do searches for several videos and at least one would no longer play from the playlist but it was easy to find what we needed.

pathway-weekly-plans.jpg

Each week, the teacher guide and the student workbooks have the weekly overview plan. The material is exactly the same in both places, and in the student workbooks.  It gives the scripture for the week, the principle, and the leading idea. There are four lessons of materials for the week and each level has its own column showing what they are to do for each lesson. There are also some additional assignments for writing, expanded history reading, and vocabulary. We utilized the vocabulary but have not yet assigned additional readings or writings.

Pathway to Liberty workbook being used

Each day’s lesson consisted of two or three activities. Most days included a reading and completing some pages in the student workbook. Many days included a video also. Lesson 2 added the word study for levels 2, 3, and 4 each week, though we are skipping it for level 2. My girls added their vocabulary words, either doing a couple of them a day or choosing to do them all in a single day.

Each student workbook had a daily banner that stated which lesson it was, the topic and which level and week. Then it gave the instructions for that day, followed by the questions to answer. The teacher’s guide includes all four levels and the suggested answers for the student workbooks.

The time the daily materials took varied greatly. Some days it was just 30 minutes or so. Others, the videos were an hour or more long by themselves. When you added in the rest, the student could easily spend two hours on just history. This wasn’t a problem as the girls seemed to really be enjoying the study and we had some fabulous discussion. It just isn’t a clear cut amount of time to be spent and day to day can vary greatly.

Pathway girls working

I am now going to let the girls say a little (Or a lot!) about their thoughts on the program. Note please: some of the issues they mention were bothersome early on but we figured out how to work around them. Specifically, the issues that could have been caught by a different editor, we fixed by just handing the girls a highlighter and telling them to highlight any time they found something. This added in a language arts element to our history study! 🙂 I will come back at the end and add a couple more thoughts of my own.

Julia, age 10, using level 2 – 

I liked the reading on the Wright brothers but I did not like the other ones as much. I learned a little in each reading that I didn’t know before. The videos were interesting but many of them were long. Overall, I didn’t like it too much. Spelling mistakes, scriptures marked wrong, and things like the lesson headings being in the wrong place made it hard to tell where the next lesson was or when one ended or what I was supposed to be doing.

Louisa, age 12/almost 13, using level 3 –

I felt like this was a good curriculum, even though I have a balanced opinion on it. There were several inconsistencies within the lesson plans – what they would state in the weekly plan would be different from what was on the day’s work. There were several grammar mistakes and noticeable typographical errors. These were a source of annoyance for me but could potentially cause confusion.

I don’t think anyone in our family found the first required book (Chain of Liberty) helpful or beneficial to the learning. The way the questions were worded made it hard to tell what they were asking for. Many times what they were asking for turned out to be a word-for-word repetition of several sentences or more, which my sister and I found hard to replicate. I feel like this book was not beneficial and could easily have been removed from the curriculum and the curriculum would not have suffered.

I really enjoy the in-depth word studies that are done every week.  Each week we are made to create a paper on a specific word that is relevant or helpful to the lesson or principle we learn about that week. I find these to be helpful and enjoyable at the same time and would not complain if a second word study was added to the curriculum each week. One step in the process of the word study is to record scriptures that are relevant to the word. One thing that makes the word study slightly tricky is when the word you are studying is not included in a Bible’s concordance, but with a little bit of creativity and the use of a synonym, the scriptures are attainable.

Pathway level 3 vocabularyThere is a list of vocabulary word which each study is asked to copy out, define, and review each week. Each week the words are different and the number differs from level to level. Even though the study asks us to do this, there is no designated space for this. Since the rest of the curriculum is clear for this sort of thing, I was disappointed to see that there was not a specific space in which we were supposed to complete this step, and I was confused as to when to do it and where to document them. I enjoyed coming up with definitions for these words.

A bunch of the curriculum had online videos to go along with it. When I watched the videos, they were of a lower quality than I expected (Me being a spoiled 21st century kid!). There were a large quantity of videos, many of them almost an hour long. It was also a bit hard to navigate the website (YouTube) to figure out which videos I was supposed to be watching, since all the levels had videos in the same place. Sometimes it was unclear in the curriculum which video I was supposed to be watching.

I enjoyed the different elements that this curriculum brought to studying history. It had me writing things, which had me working on penmanship. It has a strong Biblical aspect to it. It encourages study of the scriptures. It has online resources and videos, as well as books with quality source material. Overall, I think this is a good curriculum which I enjoyed. I am confident that others would, too.

Elizabeth, age 15, using level 4 –

It was a fantastic program. The videos were interesting and the book “The Century” was interesting. I have learned a lot. I didn’t know much about WWI until I started watching the videos and reading the book. Now I know a whole lot more. I love the word studies. They are fun and I think they are very useful.

I personally did not see a reason to have the week’s scripture, principle, and leading idea. There wasn’t a connection for me to the lessons.

I did not like how the first three videos I had to watch were cut because they were cut in the middle of a word most of the time. There were several spelling mistakes in the workbook, including Corrie Ten Boom’s name. There were also a number of punctuation mistakes. These mistakes bother me, especially when they are on things like Bible verses or important people’s names.

Pathway level 4 written assignment

When I have to write something, there are large spaces between the lines. This makes it hard to write and takes up so much space that there are often not enough lines for the assignment. 

I also did not like the first book that we were assigned to read. It (Chain of Liberty) was biased and opinionated. I personally don’t agree with probably half of the book. I didn’t understand some of what was in there. Both of my younger sisters had to read the book, also.

While I think the word studies are a fantastic thing to do, it didn’t feel like the word studies were well thought out. I have done five of them. Three of these five were not in the Bible and yet I had to find verses for those words. I ended up having to work with synonyms for these words and still I only came up with one verse for one of the words.

Overall, this is a really good program. If you start after the first book that we had to read and edit the workbooks, this would be outstanding. I would enjoy continuing on with this program. The history that I was working on before was really fun but I think this is teaching me a whole lot more. I wasn’t getting very in depth before and now I am learning even little details that I probably would not have learned with the other program I was doing. I think other high schoolers would enjoy the program, as well.

Back to me, now. We have really begun enjoying this curriculum. It took a few weeks to catch our stride with it but have come to like it quite a bit. Is it perfect? No but nothing is. I would highly recommend starting in week 3 and just skipping the first recommended book (Chain of Liberty) and the “links” discussions. We found it to be a highly biased book and we had to have some pretty in-depth, serious discussions with the girls about the reality of the world we live in and the government that is over us.

 

While Pathway to Liberty is intended to make it possible for a family to all study history together, we did not find it to work that way. Students are reading different source materials and watching different videos. They have different vocabulary words and work at different speeds. They are, however, all working on the same ideas and so when one girl asks a question, all of them can pay attention and learn something and contribute to the discussion themselves. For some families, this may work beautifully as a family study.

Overall, I really like this curriculum. The history is solid and uses solid source materials. It has also opened up some fabulous discussions for our family. We definitely can recommend this one.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the banner below to read what other families thought about Pathway to Liberty and how the curriculum worked for them.

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Romantic to Victorian Age Poetry Set ~ a Crew review

Poetry set from Memoria Press

My middle daughter really enjoys poetry. Finding her often reading or writing poetry, this review seemed a natural extension of her interest. Memoria Press has sent us the study set for Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Set.

Miss L has been working with this set, which included the poetry anthology, the Student Book, and the Teacher’s Guide. In addition, we have needed a notebook for which we are using a simple composition notebook. Each of these pieces are indeed necessary for the study as designed by David M. Wright.

poetry study anthology

The poetry anthology is The British Tradition: Book Three – The Romantic to the Victorian Age (1785-1901 A.D.). It is a comfortable softback book that is about 9×7 inches. It is broken up into two sections – the Romantic Era and the Victorian Era. Each section begins with an introduction to the era and its poets. The Romantic Era covers eight poets, including Robert Burns, John Keats, Thomas Grey, William Wordsworth to name a few. Many of the poems are well recognized, such as Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Ode on a Grecian Urn. The Victorian Era includes poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Emily Bronte. The poetry includes well known selections such The Charge of the Light Brigade, Sonnet 43 (by Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and The Land of Counterpane. The anthology is solely a book of poetry, plus the introductions. It is beautiful with black and white illustrations on almost every page. This book alone would be a lovely poetry book to add to any collection.

Poetry anthology for Memoria Press Poetry Set

 

The anthology works in conjunction with the student book Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Student Guide, Second Edition. This book is not consumable and guides the student through each poem with questions, discussions, vocabulary, and background information. The poems mostly follow the same pattern of four stages – Pre-Grammar/Preparation, Grammar/Presentation, Logic/Dialectic, and Rhetoric/Expression.poetry study student book

  • In the Pre-Grammar/Preparation stage, one or two questions are given draw out prior knowledge and help them understand the poem.
  • The Grammar/Presentation stage presents Reading Notes and Words to be Defined. The Reading Notes generally has words that are a bit different that our common usage or facts and background that will help the student understand the poem. The Words to be Defined section is just that – words and their definitions. There are also Comprehension Questions in this section that include things like rhyme scheme, meter, the use of imagery, and other ideas.
  • The Logic/Dialectic stage Socratic Discussion Questions to force the student to dig deep into their abilities to think and reason, struggling with abstract thoughts.
  • The Rhetoric/Expression stage has the student summarizing the poem and focusing on the Central One Idea.

Student Book for Memoria Press Poetry Set

 

Not every stage was included in every poem. Especially with some of the shorter poems, the Logic and Rhetoric stages were not included.

Lastly in the Student Book, at the back, you will find a master list of the Words to be Defined, information on how to memorize a poem, and a rhetoric essay template.

poetry study teachers guide
The Student Book works hand in hand with the Teacher’s Guide. The Teacher’s Guide has the same questions and information as the Student Book. Each page has an exact copy of the Student Book with a border of the answers to each of the questions or discussion points. The back of the book also includes reproducible tests for each poet along with an answer key. The Teacher’s Guide is very handy and I would not recommend trying this program without it.

Teachers Guide for Memoria Press Poetry Set

How We Used This

We have been using the program every day. Each day, Miss L works on one or two parts of the Student Book with the current poem.

On the first day of a poem, Miss L would work through the Pre-Grammar stage, writing the answers to the guiding questions in her notebook. She would then read through the Reading Notes. Next, she wrote the Words to be Defined in her notebook along with the definitions of each. She then read the poem.

Student notebook work Memoria Press Poetry Set

On the second day, she would read the poem again and then write the answers to the Comprehension Questions in her notebook. She almost always needed some help here because there is no instruction in the book for meter or rhyme. We had to look up an online resource to help us figure out what the meters are or what the answers in the Teacher’s Guide meant for the meter.

 

The third day, Miss L and I would tackle the Socratic Discussion Questions. She had her Student Book and I had the Teacher’s Guide. We only had one copy of the poem, though, so it kept getting passed back and forth as we discussed ideas and words directly from the poem.

The fourth day, Miss L and I would sit together and work on the Rhetoric stage. She would write her summary in her notebook and I would give her the rest of the information. We found the Central One Idea very difficult and unclear. So, I generally just fed her the information and she would copy it down into her notebook.

As I stated, not every poem has all of the stages so sometimes, she would only spend two days on a poem.

Thoughts On The Program

The program is labeled as grade 8+. I have an advanced 7th grader working through the program and she has needed a good bit of help. She loves poetry but this program has challenged her. A lot. I definitely consider this a high school level program.

I would like to see more instructional information included. As I stated earlier, we needed to find some additional resources to help us do the basics with the program. I had no idea what “trochaic tetrameter with catalexis, with a few lines in iambic tetrameter” meant. The word scancion was unfamiliar to me but was used in almost every lesson. (It means the rhythm of a line of verse, in case you don’t know either.) The description for the program did not indicate that the poetry series needs to be completed in order; in fact, the descriptions for all of the books in the series are extremely similar. However,  these things have me questioning whether that is indeed true, as this is called Book Three.

Overall, I think this is a fabulous program when adapted for your student and her needs. We did adapt some of this, not requiring some of the writing and eliminating the Central One Idea by the time the review period had come to a conclusion. I believe we have both learned a lot about formal poetry.

We are going to further adapt this as we continue on with it. Miss L has chosen to continue with this program but our modifications will fit her a bit more personally. She will now focus on each poem for two days. The first two days of what I described above will be the study for each poem. We are dropping the Logic and Rhetoric stages for now. Perhaps we will revisit those when she is in 10th or 11th grade. For now, we are going to focus on the poems, their language, and their imagery. Miss L will really enjoy that.

We are also looking forward to studying Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, as we will take a trip to the Browning Library here in town during those poet studies.

Want even more Memoria Press? You could also read our previous review of First Form Latin from Memoria Press or one on their Traditional Logic program. We have also used their 6th grade Literature Set and their Greek Myths program.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families using products from Memoria Press. In addition to different poetry sets, families have been reviewing phonics and Latin program. Click the banner below to head over to the Crew blog.

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