Category Archives: high school

Hands-On History from Home School In The Woods ~ a Crew review

 

When learning something that is full of ideas and images, such as history, hands-on learning brings a concrete element to it. Home School in the Woods (HSITW) is a hands-on history company that brings some understanding to ideas, elements, and cultures that we cannot get without a tactile activity. We have had fun this summer with some relaxed learning about our home state of Texas through HSITW’s new product, Make-a-State Activity.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a part of the Activity-Paks series. Other titles in the series include:

*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

HSITW is a company focused on bringing history to life through hands-on activities and informative readings. Each of the products in the HSITW lines are well-researched and well-written. The information is written at a level that upper elementary students and older are generally able to read and understand it on their own. However, with just a little bit of help, even younger elementary students are very capable of using and learning with all of the HSITW products that we have used over the years.
(Project Passport: Ancient Greece, Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, U.S. Elections)

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a Activity-Pak that can be used to study any state in the U.S or Washington D.C. The activities all work together to create a lapbook that includes more than 20 mini projects. All together these projects will give an overview of the chosen state. Most of the topics are generic in theme, allowing it be created specifically for your state. These topics include things like the agriculture of the state, the industry, the climate and the government. Also included are projects about the wildlife, the state song, and sports teams. From the history of the name of the state to the native peoples that live there, many topics are similar from state to state. Creating a tourist brochure and a mini newspaper are a couple of the projects that take a tad bit longer but are well worth the increased efforts.

There are also some projects that are designed to be specific to your state. These include a recipe, the motto, and the state bird and flower. There is also a map to create for your chosen state that you can personalize or mark in a way that fits what you are emphasizing for your state. Not to be forgotten, each state also has a state quarter that is designed to well-represent the state and there is a project to show that off, too.

Lastly, there is a folder game included to help learn about all of the United States. There are three versions of the game included and a set of double sided cards to cut out. Depending on what you are wanting to focus on, you use a different game board but the cards stay the same. Here’s a video of me attempting to explain the variations and how I put them together in a single file folder.


How We Used  Make-A-State:

We chose to use this Activity-Pak as a family. Since we are planning some field trips after the weather cools down to some places related to the history of Texas, we decided to use this as a fun summer projects. And it was well enjoyed. There were several days when the first thing that the girls wanted to do was to work on a mini book or two from Make-A-State (even before breakfast).

We divided up the projects and each of the girls chose something that she was interested in to work on. We used the included information sheet about Texas to get some of the information from (such as for the timeline). We also used the internet to do some research, mostly accessing a known Texas history and information site. For many of the images we needed, we used a Google search for black line coloring pages and printed them at a reduced size of about 30%.

Over the course of several days, working an hour or two a day, we completed the project. We finished it by placing each of the mini books onto blank paper and putting it into a three-prong folder. This way it can sit on our bookshelf easily and as we add to out states collection, they will all be similar. Here is a quick video showing you how it looks put into the folder.

A Couple of Notes:

We have not found a good double sided tape to use for these projects. We have also found that glue sticks don’t work for most of them. White glue really would not work due to the required drying time. So, our solution is to use tape. If you know my girls, you know that we have a deep love of tape. 🙂 Tape works really well and can hold up to the strain that some of the folds put on the projects.

We have become pretty familiar with Home School in the Woods and the ways in which their projects work. There is a bit of a learning curve with this company but it is well worth taking the time to beat that learning curve. Each project in a pack is put together a bit differently to create variety. This means that each project needs a little bit of thinking to put it together right. There are detailed instructions included but, honestly, it still takes some thinking to put some of them together. There are always images included of the completed project and those are terribly helpful.

Printing can also be tricky. You do have to know your own printer. Due to the differences in printer, each page of a project is presented to you separately with printing instructions (print 1-b on the back of 1-a, or something like that). You do need to read through those and print them as instructed to make the projects easier to put together. If you are like me, each time, I have to experiment a bit to remember which way to take the first page out and put it back in the printing drawer to get it printed in the right direction on the back. But, again, it is well worth taking the time and effort (and sometimes paper) to figure it out. My youngest still remembers working on Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from, what, 3 years ago?

A-La-Carte Options:

Home School in the Woods has recently introduced an a-la-carte option for some of their projects. This is a way for you to grab and use one or two of the projects, without having to commit to a longer study of the topic. Perhaps you are reading on a subject and your student shows an interest, you could head over to HSITW and see if there is a single hands-on project to do related to that topic. Or it could be a jumping off point. For example, here is a post about the mini unit study we did last week on the Erie Canal based off of the a-la-carte projects HSITW is offering (free at the time of this writing).

 

Thoughts:

This is a company that we enjoy a lot. Their products are well-researched, well-put-together, and lots of fun. Add to that the retention of information, and this hands-on history company is one worth looking into for your history needs.

At Home.

There were 100 families using products from Home School in the Woods. Click the banner below to read about what they thought from the product lines that were reviewed:

Time Traveler American
*New World Explorers
*Colonial Life
*The American Revolution
*The Early 19th Century
*The Civil War
*Industrial Revolution through Great Depression
*World War II

Lap-Paks
*U.S. Elections
*20th Century in America
*Wonders of the World
*Benjamin Franklin
*Knights

Activity-Paks
*The Old Testament
*The New Testament
*Composers
*Artists

Timeline Trio

 

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Fun-Schooling for Everyone

thinking-tree-journals-2

I had hoped to publish this review last week but here it is now. Three additional Thinking Tree journals for you:

We have used each of these in quite different ways than the previous review so we’ll just jump right in.

Mom’s Fun-Schooling Handbook

moms-fun-schooling

This is a very thick journal – about 130 pages, front & back – of help for the homeschooling mom. If you are looking for a relaxed format to help organize your thoughts, this is it. Designed to inspire you, it is an open-and-go journal for mom (or dad, even).moms-fun-schooling-basket-page

It starts out with some ideas to help find joy and feed curiosity in both you and the student. From creating beautiful baskets of learning to thinking about how learning occurs, guidance is done gently through both written and visual prompts.moms-fun-schooling-visual-list

There are a variety of pages that repeat throughout the journal. These include finishing doodles, creative journaling, coloring pages, to-do lists, and more. A couple of my favorites are the word studies and the “learn a new skill” pages. They pique my interest and encourage me to keep learning myself. Page titles include: Finish the Doodle, Creative Journaling, Reading Time, What’s On Your Mind, Funschooling Ideas, Color Together, Learn a New Skill, Fun Things to do Together, Thinking Time, A Hope/Prayer/Memory, Illustrated To-Do List, Goals For My Home, Mom’s Word Study, and Listening Time.

The one think I have not figured out with this journal is how to use it consistently. The pages, while repeated, do not seem to be repeated in any specific or consistent format or order. Which for me means difficulty in finding a daily – or even weekly – use for the journal.

This journal is truly designed to encourage creativity, turn a new twist to learning, and add plenty of fun. If you are looking for something different, this might just be for you.moms-fun-schooling-written-list

Travel Dreams Fun-Schooling Journal

travel-dreams

Travel Dreams is “an adventurous approach to geography & social studies.” This funschooling journal is packed with 30 different cities from around the word to study. Each city is approached the same way through journal page themes repeated for each city. There are also several blank pages at the back to choose other cities of interest to your family.

At the beginning of the book, there are a series of maps. These maps are used to mark the locations of the cities studies. The maps are separated by continents (mostly) with a page for each map to list the cities that are found there.travel-dreams-page

For each city you will study food, clothing, landmarks, the flag, events, and a quote or proverb. There are pages for documenting the cooking of a food you choose from that city and writing the recipe and step-by-step preparation instructions. For each city, the students choose what should be known about the city if you were planning to visit as well as studying up on an event in that city’s history. There are also pages for the students to document the resources consulted for the study of each city.

We have been using this as a family, studying a city by watching documentaries and visiting websites. The girls take turns drawing and writing the necessary information. Preparing traditional foods has definitely been the most exciting part so far. This is a fun, relaxed way to approach geography and social studies.

The Four Seasons Spelling Time

spelling-time

Spelling Time is a journal that gently encourages and reinforces spelling in youngsters. Miss J, age 7, is using this book daily as part of her spelling work. This soft back journal is about the size of a piece of notebook paper. The pages are white with black printing and are numbered, which is unusual for Thinking Tree journals.spelling-time-example

The book approaches spelling through a few different activities. The first is rhyming poetry set in couplets. Each poem relates to a particular month, starting with May and going to April. We haven’t worried about trying to line up the month to what month we are in but you certainly could. The poem is covered twice, with specific words boldly written in highlighting for copying. First, the words are outlined so the student can trace and color the letters. The second time, there are blanks where the words go and the student writes the words in. Each poem has an activity page to accompany it. The page might be a coloring page or it might be one where the student completes the drawing.

The second section dwells on the four seasons. Each season has some words to focus on that are then used in a four-stanza poem. Each poem page is accompanied by a color or activity page.

The next section is one where the student takes some responsibility for words they need to learn to spell and they write them into a list so they can practice them. Then the student begins to use the words in writing a story. There are other writing prompts, too, such as “make a list of 15 things to do in spring.”

The final section allows the student to create their own calendar. We plan to begin this in January.

Throughout Spelling Time encourages students to use words, not just learn to spell them. Gentle and easy to incorporate, this has been a great addition for Miss J.spelling-time-writing

So, there you have them – three more journals from Thinking Tree. These have been an interesting additional to our family and our learning times. I still struggle with the Mom Journal but I really like it so am working hard to find a way to make it a productive addition. The Spelling Time – it has been fabulous and Travel Dreams is a fun alternative for days where we just need a change of pace.

Thinking Tree has lots of other journals. Be sure and check out all that they have created. There is something for everyone and it is a pleasant shake up for your homeschooling routine.

At Home.

Working It Out (Everyday Education) ~ a TOS review

working-it-out-title-image

Most of the reviews that I share with you involve curriculum or other products for the giggly girls. While Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert is definitely a study that can involve the whole family or even high school students on their own, I have been using it for my own Bible study, reading, and devotional. Everyday Education, LLC has introduced me to a fantastic Christian poet that I didn’t even know existed. It has been lovely.

kindle-with-book-coverWorking It Out is a poetry study written by Joseph Womack that focuses on the poetry of George Herbert. Herbert was a 17th century poet. He is a favorite poet of many well-known authors including C.S. Lewis. Coming from what was considered a distinguished family, being a scholar at Cambridge and a member of the English Parliament, and finally a priest in the Anglican Church, Herbert spent much time in poetry pondering and “working out” his salvation. He dealt with spiritual conflicts, many which waged in his own soul, according to his own writings. This is likely where Joseph Womack took the title of this poetry analysis course from.

The poetry of Herbert has been a very interesting read, though not easy in the least. I spent much time reading and rereading each poem before I even began to dig into the meanings and movement of thought within each one. Working It Out brings together many of Herbert’s poetry with the direction in analysis from Joseph Womack. Womack works through each of the poems in the same way.

  • Poem
  • Big Picture
  • Parts of the Picture
  • Parts of the Picture Come Together

image-of-poem-on-digital-pageAfter the analysis of the poem, there are two more sections that are a bit more focused on the devotional aspect of the poetry.

  • Reflection questions
  • Scriptures for Further Reflection

In order to gain as much as possible from each poem, I worked through them as suggested, focusing carefully on the analysis provided by Womack. I would often find myself wandering back through the poem as I read the analysis and saying “Wow. That is wonderful.”

The Poem sections is just that – the poem. The Big Picture is a short overview of what the poem is about. The Parts of the Picture is a stanza-by-stanza breakdown of what the poem is discussing, including the literary elements, devices, and techniques used. This is also where the parts that I seem to be most confused about are discussed and defined. The Parts of the Picture Come Together takes the breakdown and puts it back together, producing a more meaningful understanding of the movement of thought through the poem.

Reflection Questions and Scriptures for Further Reflection often brought a very deep and meaningful conclusion to the poem for me. More than once, this is where I had that “a-ha” moment of understanding. More than once, I had to immediately stop and email someone because that poem coupled with those scriptures felt like just what God was wanting me or someone who was hurting to hear right then.written-poetry

I have been working through approximately 2 poems per week, spending about 30 minutes per session on the poems. I say approximately 2 poems per week because some poems don’t require as much thought from me and others have required quite a bit more. If you work through this as a course and as suggested, there is plenty of material to cover a year’s worth of time. There are 51 poems in this book and it is suggested to work through one per week.

In the introduction, Janice Campbell (Everyday Education, LLC) gives a number of suggestions to make the study even more meaningful. I have taken these suggestions to heart and have definitely gotten more out of the poems that I have written out long-hand or read aloud.

Working It Out is available as either a printed book or in digital format as a PDF. It is over 200 pages and features 51 poems with analysis. You can find a sample of this poetry study at Everyday Education.

 

miss-l-readingThis has been a terrific blessing to me. And to Miss L. She may be 10 but she loves to read and write poetry. We have shared some of the poems in Working It Out and talked about their beauty and meaning. She did not delve into the analysis with me but more than once, she enjoyed reading some of the poetry and understood innately the beauty of Herbert’s words.

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Be sure to read additional reviews of Working It Out, as well as Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting and Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education, by the Homeschool Review Crew. Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

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The Rhetoric Companion ~ a review

the-rhetoric-companion

Rhetoric is something that I believe is highly misunderstood. Maybe just by me, but especially by me. I found this book to be interesting but extremely challenging.

Timberdoodle sent me The Rhetoric Companion set which includes both the student book and the answer key. This is a high school level course to guide students to become skilled in the power of persuasion.

If you are like me, you tend to expect rhetoric to be an attempt to persuade you to believe someone else’s version of the truth. I tend to think of it as carefully crafted statements made by politicians to make you believe something without knowing any of the truth or having any kind of support. I am happy to tell you that true rhetoric is not that at all. Turns out, I could really benefit from this course.

rhetoric-companion-coverThe Rhetoric Companion is written to teach high schoolers so it is on a bit higher reading and comprehension level than most books you will pick up. Expect to be challenged with your reading and don’t be surprised when you have to go back and reread paragraphs to get the entire meaning. I have had to work at memorizing words that I have heard but not really understood before due to the fact that they are used quite often in the teaching of rhetoric. This is quite the challenge.

Presented in a logical manner, the lessons in The Rhetoric Companion are classical education from a Christian standpoint. Carefully thought out statements are the crux of the teachings in each lesson. From understanding the history of true rhetoric to how to incorporate the five canons, these lessons guide the students through true training in crafting a presentation that is arranged correctly and worded strongly. By the completion of the course, the student’s ability will have grown by enormous bounds.

rhetoric-companion-quote-and-lessonWith 31 lessons and an appendix on language study, this book is a full year’s study. Each lesson includes approximately four pages of reading followed by a listing of suggested readings, several exercises to complete, and review questions. The answer key is simply that and gives the suggested answers for the review questions. Throughout each of the lessons, there are tidbits of wisdom and quotes of great authors sprinkled at the edges of the page. I have gotten almost as much out of these little snippets as I have from reading the lessons.

Expect challenges. Expect hard work. Expect the exercises to stretch and push you. Expect growth. If you are expecting those things, The Rhetoric Companion set will be of great benefit to you.

Timberdoodle has provided a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. They have The Rhetoric Companion as part of their 12th Grade complete curriculum package. Timberdoodle has also generously offered to send two (2) readers each one (1) copy of The Rhetoric Companion. This is open to US mailing addresses only. This softback book will be a grand addition to your own learning or that of your student. Please click on the following link to be taken to the Rafflecopter entry form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Courage & Defiance ~ Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

The next book on the list for Book Club was Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson. This was a page turner, for sure! I read it in about 3 days. If you enjoy true stories and learning more about World War II, I think you will enjoy this one.
Courage and Defiance
Courage & Defiance is about the ordinary Danish folks who refused to just sit back and let Hitler and the German war machine take over their land and their lives. They fought back, sometimes in small ways and sometimes by being a part of something bigger. These are true stories of true “courage and defiance” that made a difference in the lives of others. There were thousands of people who were saved by these folks. Their stories show us how acting on a thought, without analyzing it too deeply, can be a very good thing; how thinking of others will inspire you; how seeing evil will propel you forward into action, even if you have no clue what you are really doing.

I don’t want to give too much away about the book up front so I’m not going to just keep rambling on. But, really, this is one that I think is a must read for any pre-teen or teenager who is studying WWII or interested in the ways that people were treated.

There was a very interesting section that I want to share. On page 239, one of the men who had been arrested and sent to prison talks about the process of entry into the camp.

The prisoners had their hair shaved. “There is something strange, alienating and demeaning in being shorn of one’s hair.” It was, Niels reflected, “the first step in a process of methodical dehumanization, of converting us from ordinary healthy citizens into creatures merely caricatures of humanity.”

I know why this struck me so strongly but I don’t know how to put it into words very well. God created all humans to be beings who worship and honor him. The Nazis did all they could to suck the faith and humanity out of the Jews and anyone who tried to help the Jews or oppose the Nazi regime. There was nothing left for them if they lost their hope in their creator. We encounter this in our world today. We need, desperately, to learn the lessons that are there to be learned from the past. We need to learn what God can show us through the way the Nazis treated others.

So, on with the Book Club selection. Let’s get to the questions.

1: When you think of the Holocaust, what do you think about? Does this book fit with those thoughts? In what ways does it fit or diverge?
Nope. Not at all. I had no idea that there were smaller groups of individual, or even the more organized resistance groups, that were fighting against the Nazi regime. I knew about the people who stepped up to hide the Jews and other who were caught helping them but I didn’t know there were folks actively working to disable the Nazis. Makes sense but I never really thought about it.
2: Much of what drove these people was emotion and response to what was going on around them. How does emotion drive action?
If you have no emotion about something, it doesn’t move you one way or the other. However, when something sparks emotion in you, especially strong ones, you have to act. Without emotion, you are completing tasks but you have no connection and no purpose other than fulfilling someone else’s requirements. When emotion is attached to action, it is stronger, more purposeful, and often, more effective. You are also more likely to continue that action when it is driven by emotion.
3:Considering the smallness of the acts by individuals in the grand scheme of things, why do you think they continued?
I think these resistance fighters continued because it was something they could do. Even if it protected one person, it made a difference. That is what drives these acts. They could help, even if it was small. On page 243 Niels Skov talked about the horror of the Nazi prison camps and it brings to mind the reason they continued these acts in spite of the fact that they were small in the grand scheme of things: “We never before had come close to realizing the merit of our cause.”
4: The bravery these men and women displayed is hard to understand. In what ways do we display bravery or courage?
We show bravery or courage when we state something that needs to be said, especially when it is not popular opinion. Things like speaking out about sin that is being spoken as truth (i.e. homosexuality) takes bravery and courage. Sometimes is it doing something that you are afraid of or that is out of your comfort zone. Maybe it is teaching Bible class. Maybe it is learning a new task or skill. Maybe it is educating your children at home. Anytime you go against the grain or popular opinion or, in some cases like this book, against the governing group, it takes bravery and courage.
5: Were you in the shoes of these young folks, would you prefer to act alone, as Niels Skov did, or would you rather be a part of a larger, organized group, as Jorgen Kieler was? Why?
I would rather work with a group. While I like doing many things along, if I am risking something, I want to have the support of a group.
6: Have you read other books set in World War II? Which ones and would you recommend them?
We truly enjoy reading about World War II. I think it is because there are so many people who acted heroically, whether that be fighting actively as soldiers and these resistance fighters did or by doing something like taking over factory jobs that were abandoned when men had to go to war as so many women did or by planting a garden so that less food had to be transported or doing without pantyhose so that the soldiers could have what they needed.
I really liked Monument Men. I don’t remember who wrote that one but it was fascinating! I have read a number of books about Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom. The books about the von Trapp family and those were lots of fun. Zlata’s Diary is also set in this time but in Russia. That was an eye opener, for sure, since I didn’t realize all that went on there. We have checked out a number of non-fiction books about WWII in general and those were interesting. Miss L has been very interested in WWII and wrote an essay about Joseph Stalin. Ummm – had no idea what an evil man he was!
7: Which of these Danish resistance fighters do you most admire?
Jorgen Kieler. He showed courage and a positive attitude throughout everything he had to endure. He was full of hope and always on the lookout for ways to escape the prison camps. But not just for himself. He was always looking for ways to help others and his fellow countrymen. He never gave up.
8: p. 120 “Only a drop in the ocean, that what they say. Well now, the ocean consists of drops.” – Morgan Fog on the use/effectiveness of Danish resistance. 
    What was his purpose in this statement? Do you agree? Why or why not?
This statement fascinated me. We talk about how things are small and don’t make a difference. This statement reminded me that every little drop counts and when we add them all together, they make a mighty force. That is why it is so important to act, even when you think you are all by yourself. There are many others who feel the same way but when you put it together, what a force! I think Morgan Fog was right on the money. Each act might not have had a major effect on the Nazis but when you put a whole bunch of smaller ones together, a large crater has been created by the effort.
I hope you give this book a chance. It was a fascinating read and brought a whole new light to WWII and all that the victims of the Nazis went through. While it is technically listed as Young Adult nonfiction, there is plenty of meat to this book to be a solid read for any adult who is interested. Especially when you consider that this is not a part of WWII that is often shared or talked about.
Head over to Wendy’s blog, Ladybug Daydreams, and see what she thought about this Book Club selection.
My Life In France
Next month, we will be tackling Julia Child’s book My Life In France. You can find the questions we will be working on here.
book club button 200
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NotebookingPages.com ~ a TOS review

Have you ever had one of those products where, after you get it and use it the first time, you slap your forehead and say “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!?!?!” That is how I felt after the very first time we incorporated notebooking with a study we were already doing using pages from the Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership at NotebookingPages.com. Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

In all seriousness, I had looked at NotebookingPages.com quite a bit over the past couple of years and thought something along the lines of “Well, I think I would like it but the girls? Not so much.” The reason I thought that was they did not respond well to writing from prompts. They’d do it but it would not be their best writing. I thought that was what notebooking was about. I was wrong. And I am so happy that I was!!

Tutorial #1NotebookingPages.com is pretty unique in that you aren’t just tossed in there with a whole lot of notebooking pages and no instruction. You can do it that way but it isn’t recommended and you will certainly do yourself a favor if you take advantage of the tutorials that are offered. There are a series of tutorials that walk you through getting set up and understanding what notebooking is really all about. **Hint: it is NOT prompted writing, though it probably can be. That is key for our family.**

Notebooking is writing down the key information in what you are studying. It is not busywork; in fact – this replaces a lot of what we would often include in a study, like a workbook or worksheet. But it is rather the student putting down on paper, in their own words, what was important about the topic. We followed the tutorials very closely and WOW! did it create an almost immediate change in the way the girls processed information.

I’ll walk you through one of the first pages we created. We read a chapter in a book about the medieval times. After we read it out loud, I grabbed a white board. The girls then brainstormed ideas about what was important and stated those things verbally with me writing them down on the board. After they ran out of ideas for what needed written, we talked about it a little bit, clarified any words that might not have been understood, and put things in order if that was important. Then I gave them the pages they had chosen for the topic and asked them to write down the important things. I don’t think at any time that they all chose to write down everything that was on the white board because they didn’t all think the same ideas were important. And that is okay! Here is what two of the girls produced their first time out of the box with this product (Miss J had just broken her arm so while she did the work, it is not very readable, especially when scanned into the computer so I’m skipping hers for now):

So, we are doing this same process with some of the “fun” history and Bible that we are working through this summer. But, this has been such a hit that the girls are constantly asking if they can print a page to write about what they just read in their free-time reading. The girls have written pages on:Miss L working

  • Ancient China
  • Ruth
  • A favorite Bible verse
  • various history readings
  • presidents
  • ballet
  • Roman and Greek gods and goddesses
  • a book summary
  • Joseph Stalin
  • and there are plans for many more!

Very few of these were inspired by me telling them that they needed to do a notebooking page. Most of the time, I would be asked to print off a particular page for someone because the reading had already been done and she had been so interested in it that she wanted to write it down so she could remember it. Truly.

We have set it up using the suggestions on NotebookingPages.com. Each child has their own 3-ring binder to keep their work in. I have a teacher’s notebook. In it, I have placed copies of the catalog for the categories that we have used so far. A catalog is a set of pages with thumbnail images of every page available in a given category. So far, the girls have gotten the most use out of the blank pages for any topic. It has allowed for good personalization of the pages.

catalog view

When one of the girls is ready to write, she grabs the teacher notebook and finds the page she wants a copy (or four!) of. We pull up the site and print off the pages. With that, the giggly girl is off to write about her topic. Truly. That simple!

two page view Bible

There are catalogs on the site for a wide variety of topics. Our favorite category so far has been the Any Study category because it allows for so much personalization.categories headings

Let me share with you some of what I overheard my girls saying when grandma was here recently. They proudly grabbed their notebooks and shared with her all of the work they had done. They were excitedly describing things they had learned, the pages they had written and justifying why they had chosen the information. They were so proud! So, overheard:

“You can print out the ones you want.” – Miss J

Miss J Ruth

“It’s like a mini-essay. You get to explain it in your own words. I really like it!” – Miss L

Ruth verse

“I like telling about stuff that I’ve read. I like telling about it myself. I don’t like answering questions someone else has written. I like telling it myself.” – Miss E

And for the win? “I need to work on mine. I have eight topics that I am working on.” – Miss E

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The freedom provided by this method is astounding. I am honestly sad that I didn’t try this sooner because it has transformed the attitude around here. The transformation was immediate. (Note: I do think that following the tutorials had a lot to do with it because it kept me from giving too much narrow guidance and helped me elicit the thoughts from the girls for them to transfer to paper.) From improved comprehension to improved writing skills and handwriting (especially for Miss J now that she is out of the cast on her writing arm!),  NotebookingPages.com has changed how we are doing quite a few things in our homeschooling journey and it is definitely for the better. To put it in Miss E’s words “I really, really like notebooking!”

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Book Club – questions for Courage & Defiance

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

I am inserting a quick post here in the middle of the month for the Book Club. The reason? Wendy and I could not find any published questions for Courage & Defiance by Deborah Hopkinson. So, what do you do when you can’t find what you need? You write it yourself. Here are the questions that we have created for Courage & Defiance. The post with this discussion will be published on July 7.

Courage and Defiance

  1. When you think of the Holocaust, what do you think about? Does this book fit with those thoughts? In what ways does it fit or diverge?
  2. Much of what drove these people was emotion and response to what was going on around them. How does emotion drive action?
  3. Considering the smallness of the acts by individuals in the grand scheme of things, why do you think they continued?
  4. The bravery these men and women displayed is hard to understand. In what ways do we display bravery or courage?
  5. Were you in the shoes of these young folks, would you prefer to act alone, as Niels Skov did, or would you rather be a part of a larger, organized group, as Jorgen Kieler was? Why?
  6. Have you read other books set in World War II? Which ones and would you recommend them?
  7. Which of these Danish resistance fighters do you most admire?
  8. p. 120 “Only a drop in the ocean, that what they say. Well now, the ocean consists of drops.” – Morgan Fog on the use/effectiveness of Danish resistance.
    What was his purpose in this statement? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Hope you enjoy reading this one. It is fantastic!
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