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SchoolhouseTeachers.com Flash Sale information – ends tomorrow 2/16/18. I would hate for you to miss it!
SchoolhouseTeachers.com Flash Sale information – ends tomorrow 2/16/18. I would hate for you to miss it!
There are so many options, so many curriculums, so many good things! How do you decide?
It can be tricky to decide what to cover and with what company and with what add-ons. But I would like to suggest to you a way to start your decisions on tricky subjects. It is not the process, not even close, but it is a start and it will reap great benefits in your home and your children’s lives. I promise.
So what is the key?
Yep, that simple. Have a conversation. Start it simply – What do you want to learn about? What is of interest to you? Do you have any ideas about what you want to do?
No time frame, no curriculum boundaries, just simply finding out what each student is interested in.
When we began these discussion with each of our girls, it was somewhat eye opening. Miss J wanted to learn more about birds. She also enjoyed cutting things out and gluing them into notebooks, simple lapbook style. She also talked about wanting to read the American Girl books. So guess what? This directed us to think about how we could accommodate her interests and we came up with a few wonderful ideas.
Miss J’s personalized curriculum?
What did we find out in the discussion with Miss L? That she was really interested in civilizations that vanished. She was enjoying a couple of books that we had to review. She wanted to not be focused on writing all the time and she didn’t like her math. Well, the math was one we are not changing because we are seeing the need to just push forward with what we have been using (Horizons). The others, though? That we could accommodate.
And for Miss E? Well, she pretty well had most of her subjects as a continuation of the previous year when we had this conversation (one of the year-round home school benefits and disadvantages – you have to adapt your time frame to what is needed!). But she gave good input on things and we knew what to change and what to continue, as well as allowing her to determine her own science.
So, as we move forward, we have these conversations. Over and over. These discussions allow us to make decisions for the girls that not only get their basics covered but do it in a way that they find interesting. One of the reasons we are continuing geography with a 3rd grader is that she loves it. It is the first program she wants to do each day. So, Let’s Go Geography is on her schedule and she is thrilled. These are the things that make education fit the child, rather than fitting the child to the education.
I encourage you to do what you can to tailor your child’s education based on their interests. This doesn’t mean you skip the important stuff. There is plenty that is dictated to them because they don’t have a preference so they do what we require. But, when we can choose something that is of particular interest? We do. Because the girls really respond to the options.
This post is part of the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair, hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. Tomorrow (Sunday) I will update this part of the post with the listing of all the others who are posting on the topic of their method of homeschooling.
Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 22nd.
Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart
Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources – An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace
Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Choices, choices – how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Our Curriculum Needs – grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time
The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
What We Have Loved Using – Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses
How We Homeschool Together (Our Curriculum Choices for Preschool, First, and Tenth Grade) by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Today, the Homeschool Review Crew is announcing the winners of the Blue Ribbon Awards. The Blue Ribbon Awards are voted on by the blogging members of the Crew and then majority rules on the winners. There are lots of categories, some of which we did not vote in, such as PK and Kinder products and vendors. We did, however, keep track of our personal favorites so we could share our family’s winners with you. So, here they are:
Reading Curriculum – The Magic Stories by Allsaid & Dunn, LLC
Writing Curriculum – Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson
Literature Curriculum or Supplement – Captain Bayley’s Heir from Heirloom Audio (though Illuminating Literature was a close second)
History/Social Studies Curriculum – Drive Thru History: The Gospels (though Make-A-State from Home School In The Woods was a close second)
History/Social Studies Supplement – Carole P. Roman books
Science Curriculum or Supplement – The Greatest Inventors from A Journey Through Learning (with Innovators Tribe a close second)
Math Curriculum – UnLock Math
Foreign Language – First Form Latin from Memoria Press
Art Curriculum or Product – ArtAchieve (with Thin Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc. a very close second)
Favorite Elective Curriculum – Doctor Aviation
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum – Drive Thru History: The Gospels
Favorite Christian Education Supplement – Brinkman Adventures
Favorite Elementary product – Susan K. Marlow books from Kregel Publications
Favorite Middle School product – Make-A-State from Home School In The Woods
Favorite High School product – Bessie’s Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert
Favorite Parent product – How To Homeschool from Apologia
Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed – Innovators Tribe
Favorite Planning Product – How To Homeschool from Apologia
Best Online Resource – Let’s Go Geography
Best e-product – Home School In The Woods Project Passport: Ancient Greece
Favorite Book or Author – Shepherd, Potter, Spy – and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver
Favorite Audiobook or Audio Drama – Brinkman Adventures
Favorite Just For Fun Product – Drive Thru History (with both of the Heirloom Audios close behind)
Miss J’s Favorite – Thin Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Miss L’s Favorite – Brinkman Adventures
Miss E’s Favorite – In The Reign of Terror from Heirloom Audio
What a year this has been with tons of wonderful product and our first steps into the high school products. The vendors have been amazing and we have been so blessed to be a part of this wonderful group of reviewers, bloggers, and more importantly, friends.
Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew 2017 Blue Ribbon Awards to see which vendors and products won the overall honors from the Crew.
We hope that you have found some good things through the Homeschool Review Crew and our family’s input with them. May 2017 end with lots of joy and 2018 be a year full of joy, hope, and wonderful times with your family and friends.
This week on the Virtual Curriculum Fair, we are talking about Exploring Our World: Social Studies and the Exploratory Sciences. Be sure to visit the Homeschooling Hearts and Minds to catch all of the posts related to this, and all, themes of the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair.
Social studies, history, geography – these are all favorite topics of mine both for teaching and learning. There is so much to be gain from any contact with these. Whether it be reading a difficult text and getting through it or just having fun with a simple game, I enjoy just about every aspect of learning about the world. One of my favorite ways is to watch a video about it.
We keep our Netflix handy and have recently added Amazon Prime. We have shelves stocked with documentary videos and a library system that we pull videos from often.
Nothing can bring you more information about a place than seeing it. But what do you do when you cannot visit in person? Watch a video on it.
Other than the previously mentioned resources, we have a couple of other that have proved to have a lot of fantastic videos for learning about our world, geography, and cultures. SmartKidz Media Library has been one of those. We reviewed it a couple of years ago and we still find things on there that complement what we are reading and learning about. Recently it involved castles. I am currently browsing for things on Greece. They have a couple that we will check out soon. Another fantastic resource for video based classes is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. We are so blessed with this resource. They include Drive Thru History as part of their course options and these are going to be fantastic! A third resource that we have access to (through SchoolhouseTeachers) is Right Now Media. There is a large variety of religious resourced at this site, some of it highly applicable to a middle school or high school level history. Missionary stories make a wonderful cultural resource, as well.
Delving a bit into the science end of the topic (which really isn’t where this week goes but fits with the theme of visiting the world through videos), we have a number of interest DVDs that we enjoy pulling out. Titles of some of our favorites are:
Each of the previous resources also have a number of options for science titles.
I just think there is no substitute for seeing something. And when you can do so in person, it is a great option to pull out a video that will show it to them. So, don’t be afaid to pull out those videos and spend some time exploring that place you just read about in literature or a history text. My girls always remember more when it is tied to something else.
Note: all links will be LIVE by Monday 1/23 at noon EST.
Notebooking Our Way through History by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Studying the Where and How by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
The History of Our Mysterious Struggle With History by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Social Science, Science and Exploring our World – Our Path by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Learning History Through Fiction by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
History in Our Homeschool by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Exploring Our World Through History And Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Bringing History to Life! by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
History, Living Books and the Imagination by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Exploring our world comes in many different forms. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Bible, History and Geography by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Beyond the Books – Social Studies and Science by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Exploring the World with Living Books by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart
High School History & Science without Textbooks by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Exploring the World Starting with Canada by Annette @ A Net in Time
Visit The World Through Video by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Nature Study is Our Favorite Way to Do Science by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully
What A Wonderful World by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
The Time we got Lost in the Woods by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acres
What A World by Jennifer King @ A “Peace” of Mind
If you have been following our adventures for a while, you know that at the end of each Homeschool Review Crew year we vote for our favorite products from all of those that we reviewed during the year. We enjoy sharing our favorites with you over again so that is what we are doing today. When I announced it was time to vote, more than one of the girls hollered “I LOVE THIS PART!”
We truly enjoy these products. Each of these we are either still using or have completed. We would recommend these products to our friends to use (and have often with some of these). When people ask for ideas for curriculum, these are the companies we share.
All three of the giggly girls had input with choosing these companies. And later this week the results of the Homeschool Review Crew will be posting. I’ll let you know when those post so you can read about what the final results were across the board, including categories that are not included here because we didn’t review in that category OR we didn’t care for the product that we did review.
Drum Roll Please . . .
Reading Curriculum: Talking Fingers
Writing Curriculum: Writers In Residence
Spelling Program: Talking Fingers
Penmanship Program: Homeschool Copywork
Literature Curriculum: IEW Poetry Memorization
Literature Resources: YWAM: Clara Barton
History/Social Studies Curriculum: Homeschool Legacy
Science Curriculum: Apologia Astronomy
Science Supplement: NotebookingPages.com
Math Supplement: Times Tales
Foreign Language Curriculum: Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids
Fine Arts: ARTistic Pursuits: Construct (We are using other books by this company, as well.)
Christian Education: Science Shepherd
Christian Education Product:The Familyman Christmas Treasury
Elementary Product: Apologia Astronomy
Middle School Product: NotebookingPages.com
Parent Product: Hey Mama! Planner
Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed: Jolly Phonics & Jolly Grammar
Best Online Product: Homeschool Copywork
Best Book/Novel/Audio Book/Audio Drama: The Glass Castle
Be sure to check out the Homeschool Review Crew post with all the winners from the Crew voting and other families’ favorites. When that post goes live, I’ll put the link here.
Thank your for joining us for our Middle School Monday post and seeing what our favorites were with this year’s Homeschool Review Crew.
The internet is a wealth of information. But finding it is key. That is when sites such as CHSH-Teach.com come in super handy. Christian HomeSchool Hub (CHSH) is a place where there are tons of digital resources to browse through and for the purpose of this review, our family was give access to the CHSH Download Club for a year. There is so much more there than we could ever use in a year.
The Download Club was founded by Lynda Ackert. She has spent many years creating online resources and while you can find her materials a number of places on the internet, CHSH has them all in one easy-to-access location. When you subscribe to the Download Club, you have access to all of the materials she has created and uploaded, as well as a number of resources that she has obtained permission to place on the site for her subscribers. In all there are over 50,000 downloadable pages that subscribers have access to.
The content on this site is not static. Lynda is adding more new materials all the time. Just in the last few days, there have been learning packets for K, 1, and 2 added. These packets have hundreds of pages of printable learning for math, grammar, phonics, critical thinking, science, and more. While I am not using all of them, I have downloaded a few of the pages from the 2nd grade learning pack for Miss J to work on some specific areas in math. Also added to the site are various nomenclature cards for geology and history, some reading comprehension, and an autumn mini-book.
The Download Club has a search feature but I have found that the best way to get around the site is just to browse the listings. The downloads are listed by subject, by grade, and by month. There is also a category for organization and one for miscellaneous. I have found some gems by just clicking around a category and seeing what is there.
Some interesting finds?
My biggest disappointment with this site was that so much of it is worksheet based. Even the unit studies seem to be mostly worksheets with minimal hands-on projects or suggestions. Many of the pages have that “school at home” feel to them, which is perfect for student who really enjoy worksheets and pages of practice and answering questions.
The other thing that has bothered me is that there seems to be a pretty sizable gap in ability level. For example, with fractions I found the very simple “Color three of the four. What fraction is colored?” and the much more difficult “Add the fractions (with different denominators) and then reduce.” But I really needed the in between of those ability levels. With time, there was working on hours and quarter hours but I never could find anything to help us work on time telling to the minute.
Even with these little hiccups, there have been tons of things that we can use.
Miss J has been working on some math worksheets that I found in a larger packet to work on money and fractions. Those are two areas that I noticed her struggling and her math book didn’t seem to be focusing on them enough. So, we pulled up some worksheets from the CHSH Download Club and she has been working with them.
For the Olympics, we did a study and wanted a couple of additional resources. We pulled some information on the host country from a geography program. We printed a couple of puzzles and some of the information pages about the history of the Olympics.
For sign language practice, we printed the various sets of flashcards. We found that these really needed a video component for them so they didn’t work well on their own. We were able to pair them with a video from another site and this provided Miss E some good ASL practice.
All in all, CHSH-Teach.com is a place where you can find just about anything to work for what you need, though it may take some digging to find it. You can, however, find some amazing things and complete curriculum here for most everything. The CHSH Download Club is one we will continue to find gems from throughout the school year.
Please visit the TOS blog to read about how CHSH has enhanced other homeschools.
Stars, planets, moons, orbits, satellites, and oh, so much more! The updated Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition by Apologia Educational Ministries has provided fun, very interesting learning opportunities for our family and a greater appreciation of all that is observed in the skies, whether day or night.
It is always fun opening a box from Apologia and this time was no different. Except this time? It was better. The girls oohed and aahed over the beautiful, hard-backed text with full color photographs, drawings, and illustrations. The book was passed around and they took turns finding something beautiful to look at. The notebooking journals, too, brought exclamations of interest and joy.
Coupling stunning images with scientific information makes this text a beautiful work of art. It is well-written in language that is sufficiently detailed without being difficult to understand. The writing style makes it work equally well as a student-directed lesson or as a read-aloud family lesson. This is highly flexible so you can tailor it to fit your family’s needs.
The text contains 14 lessons and each lesson can be broken up into the number of days you need. Using the schedule in the notebooking journals, the lessons contain from four (4) to seven (7) days of assignments. We have found some of these to be a bit too long for our 2nd grader but they work just fine for our 5th and 7th graders using the program. The text is detailed enough to make it a good middle school course, especially when supplemented with additional reading assignments of your own choosing. (Miss E is checking out additional books from the library each week related to the current topic in astronomy.)
The topics covered are:
That is quite a lot of information and all of it is beautifully related to God’s design for life. The relationship is not a blatant one, in my opinion, but author Jeannie K. Fulbright does a masterful job of mentioning the relationship of God to each piece of his creation at just the right time to guide the student’s thoughts to why, how, or in what ways God’s design is perfect. An example of this is when the discussion of gravity is occurring and she directs the student to be thinking about just how perfectly the earth is situated to not be pulled into the sun, not be pushed away from the sun, and be exactly where it must be in order for life to exist.
Throughout, there are blue banners that are titled Think About This and blue boxes titled Wisdom From Above. In these, Fulbright is a bit more direct about connecting the topic at hand to the Bible and Christian faith. With a Bible verse and a thought, fact or quote, she directs the students to be thinking more deeply about the connections to God. I personally love these and the girls have really seemed to get a lot out of the connections that are pointed out.
Each lesson has a few experiments/explorations. We did several of the ones that included items we had right here at the house. We did not have to go buy anything in order to complete these. One had to do with creating a model of the solar system. Another dealt with the sun’s heat and rays so we melted chocolate. Making a sun viewer was also one that we were able to do with what we had. Each lesson has several of these types of directly related activities that strengthen the understanding of concepts within the lesson.
Something that is easy to miss but should not be is Apologia’s course website created to go along with this text. Using a password that is found in the front of the text, you can access this course website through their site. There you will find videos, articles, star charts, biographies, and so much more. (A number of the site links are broken but there is still more there than I can possibly absorb!)
The end of the text contains an appendix that has a couple of helpful resources. One is a listing by lesson of all materials needed for the experiments/explorations included in the text. There is also an answer key for the What Do You Remember? sections for each lesson.
Our schedule during this review period has been to do at least two days a week of the astronomy course. This is easy to do with the schedule that is set up in the front of the notebooking journals with check boxes next to each day’s activities. For both the teacher and self-guiding students, this is a fantastic help for “do the next thing.” It is all written out for you.
As you can see from the example of the schedule, there are a variety of activities for the students to do in the program: readings, activities (experiments/experiences), minibooks, coloring pages (jr. notebooking), science kit activities, puzzles/games, and writing opportunities. They are encouraged to do additional learning activities such as reading books related to the topic, watching educational videos, and taking field trips. (We reviewed Apologia’s Field Trip Journal last year and it would fit in well here.) Visit Apologia’s site for the astronomy course to download samples from the notebooking journals for more information.
The notebooking journals are a way for the students to use what they have learning in the readings and experiments/explorations from the text. The open-ended response pages allow the students to show off what touched them, what they remembered, what was interesting to them. I have found that these opportunities to share what they found important allows the girls to internalize much more of what they are experiencing. Even the minibooks, as a whole, do not have a lot of specifics to them other than the gist of the topic they are related to.
If you have a student who balks at writing, these might be a bit more difficult to use but they would work equally well with the student dictating orally and someone transcribing their words. We have done that with a couple of the pages where Miss J had so much she wanted to share that she couldn’t possibly get it all down on the page. Her mind was just moving too fast for her pencil.
The notebooking journal and the junior notebooking journal are very similar. The biggest difference between the two seems to be the lines are for writing. The junior notebooking journal has the three-part lines: solid bottom line, dotted center line, solid top line. This is great if you have a student who is struggling with penmanship or letter formation. The notebooking journal has single lines. The junior notebooking journal has coloring pages at the end of the lesson while the notebooking journal has a What Do You Remember? page. The journals have a Bible verse for copywork and contain both a print and a cursive example of the verse. The minibooks are the same for both and the activities seems to be the same. This makes it simple to use as a family course. At the same time, these are very easy to use for a self-directed student. So, adapt it to fit your family!
This was our least favorite part of this fantastic curriculum. The audio CD is an MP3 version of the text. It can only be read by a MP3 disc player, such as a computer. It is not downloadable and cannot be transferred from the disc to a portable player. The controls are simple to use and pop up on the computer screen, to be manipulated with the mouse.
This would be great for a student who struggles to read, doesn’t like to, or perhaps can’t for some reason (recovering from an illness comes to mind, here). It reads the text, just as it is in the book.
We thought this would be a great fit for our oldest who has recently enjoyed using audio CDs so she can listen, learn, and do something with her hands, such as cross-stitch. This was not a good fit for her. The reader’s voice is quite monotone. While easy to understand, it is not enjoyable and quickly became hard to follow. The lack of expression and enjoyment in the reader’s voice meant that it was difficult to maintain attention . This CD is not something I would recommend.
ONE MORE THING:
Apologia has recently released a kit to go along with the astronomy course. We did not receive the Astronomy 2nd Edition Science Kit as part of this review, though it would be quite an asset to this course. According to information available, there are additional experiments for the course included in the kit. I cannot speak to the contents of it but it looks like it might be pretty neat.
USING WITH OLDER STUDENTS:
We are currently using this course with our middle school/7th grade student. The text is detailed enough to make this appropriate for this age. The notebooking journals, however, are not a good fit. In order to show understanding and comprehension of what is read and the activities, Miss E is using notebooking pages to document her work. She uses the same reading schedule as her sisters and then prints a page to write about her understanding and interest. The activities are one of the areas where this is very good for her because she is understanding enough of the cause/effect that she is actually able to do a large portion of the explanation for her sisters. This allows her to fill her big sister role and act as a mentor while having to put her understanding into words that someone else can follow is a critical thinking aspect that she is really benefiting from.
Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition brings together the fascination of space and astronomy, clearly written instruction, and stunning photography and imagery then melds it with the understanding of God’s hand in all of His universe. If you are looking an easy-to-use, easy-to-implement program, this is definitely one to look at. With the pieces able to be purchased separately, you can get exactly what fits your family’s needs and your budget.
Find Apologia Educational Ministries on social media:
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/apologiaworld @apologiaworld
Click on the banner below to read additional reviews on the astronomy set by other Crew families.