Tag Archives: history

The Hidden Message ~ a Crew review

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

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal

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


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

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

The Hidden Message book cover

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

reports to Congress

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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History on Horseback ~ a Crew book review

History on Horseback_ The Early Years_ 1493 to 1886

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pony Express chapter from History on Horseback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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History On Horseback the early years

Hands-on History: Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression with HSITW ~ a Crew review

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

It is no secret that we think quite highly of Home School in the Woods and their hands-on history programs. We have been privileged to review another of their products recently. This time, it is an American history title from their series Time Travelers U.S. History Studies, which includes the following titles:

  • New World Explorers
  • Colonial Life
  • The American Revolution
  • The Early 19th Century
  • The Civil War
  • The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression
  • World War II

HSITW Time Travelers

We received the download file for The Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression, running from about 1861 through the mid 1930s.

HSITW Industrial Revolustion

Topics covered in this title include the transcontinental railroad, purchase of Alaska, immigration, inventors and inventions, the Dust Bowl, the stock market crash, WWI, the Great Depression, the Indian Wars, and so much more. There are 25 lessons with each lesson expected to take about a day and a built in make-up/review day on every 5th lesson. However, it is very easy to adapt this to your family’s schedule. Since we were using this as a supplement, it took longer than one day per lesson. If your student is very engaged and you are using this as your main history for the time being, it would be very easy to cover more than one lesson in a day.

HSITW lessons

To get started with Time Travelers, you have to download a zip file after purchase. After downloading the zip file, you have to unzip it. This process varies by computer and you can find help on the Home School in the Woods website. Once you have it unzipped, you double click the start icon and it opens up the file in a web browser. From there is it just like navigating a website, clicking on what you need next. For example, if we were on lesson 3, we would click the icon next to that lesson and it would take us to a list of the materials we need to print and access for the lesson.

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For each lesson, we printed the text but we accessed the project pages only on the computer. The text is the factual information covering the topics for the lesson. Miss E read it out loud to her youngest sister and found it helped her remember things and stay focused well. And her sister enjoyed learning and spending time with her. Win-win! The project pages are the instructions on how to put together the pieces of the mini-booklets, timeline, etc.

These parts are really quite similar to Project Passport and the access is similar also. Where it diverged was that every 5th lesson was for make-up or review. This is really good because it takes some of the daily pressure off to have to get everything done in a single day for each lesson. Additionally, the review cards are helpful. There are cards for words that were used in the week’s lessons that might be new or that were used differently then. There are cards for the events that were covered that week. And there are cards that are specific to WWI, even though it won’t be covered each week.

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Another thing she is looking forward to is that lesson 25, the final lesson, is all about creating a Depression-era meal. It includes menu options, recipes, and invitations. This will be a fun culmination event for the study.

Miss E did not use every part of every lesson. She is completing the timeline and the mini-booklets.

She read through the quotes from different men and women and talked with her sister about them, discussing who each person was. She chose her favorite quote and made a bookmark or small card with it.

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It was interesting to see Miss E and Miss J working together on this as it really boosted them both. Miss E was able to help Miss J learn some new things while finding about more about a period she herself was interested in. Miss J asked some insightful questions that caused Miss E to have to go researching some answers. One of those came up right off the bat with the transcontinental railroad: is the transcontinental railroad still in use? Turns out, it is and we had to look that up. A sign of a good curriculum is that it causes the student to think and ask questions, not answering it all for them.

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One of our personal goals with this program was to find something to go a bit deeper into the time period with. HSITW does well with this. Since the products are designed to have the student thinking and writing about each topic, the information is by nature a bit more in depth. The hands-on aspect of working with mini-booklets and timelines and newspaper articles and such really helps bring history to life.

Thoughts from Miss E:

Overall, this is not really different from Project Passport. But there were some different parts that I really liked. I like the pages of quotes. I don’t have a need for handwriting practice but the card that I did was fun. I liked that every 5th lesson is a make-up day and review day. The vocabulary cards are interesting. The text for each lesson is interesting and more engaging than I remember Project Passport being since these are written a bit more like a story while the Project Passport was more factual.

I had requested this title since in my other history curriculum, I had just finished the Great Depression and I wanted to know more. It started about the turn of the 20th century and I wanted to know about what came right before that. I read about things in a general way but wanted to know the details about the rapid changes that were happening. This title seems to be doing that.

HSitW-LOGO-website_360x

Other Products:

As everyone is aware, this is a presidential election year. What better time to study elections, right? Home School in the Woods has a U.S. Elections Lap-Pak that will fit the bill nicely. We used it a few years ago (4, I believe) and I am planning to pull it out for Miss J this fall. You can read about our use and review of it but you can also visit the HSITW blog and read what they say about it there.

Other than the U.S. Elections Lap-Pak, we have reviewed

If you are looking for more history information, the Home School in the Woods blog has ideas for you. Are you looking for a full curriculum or do you just need a single project to supplement? This will help you know the difference between the options offered. Or are you looking for reasons to add recipes to a history study? Check out the post on adding recipes.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please click on the image below to read other reviews about HSITW products by other Homeschool Review Crew families.

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YWAM Biographies ~Jacob DeShazer

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

Jacob DeShazer_ Forgive Your Enemies

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

YWAM-Publishers-Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please click on the banner below to read more Homeschool Review Crew experiences with YWAM Publishing books from both the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series and the Heroes of History series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some features of the books in this series include:

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts:

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

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

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to hop over to the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews of other families who also read books by Carol P Roman. Just click on the banner below.

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Travel the World with Let’s Go Geography ~ a Crew review

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

Lets Go Geography online class

Geography is often a missing part of study yet it is one I find fascinating. Let’s Go Geography is a company that has created a spell-binding curriculum to help students travel the world without leaving the comfort of their couch. Let’s Go Geography, Year 2 is the second of a three year program that is designed to take the student through most of the countries in the world.

3 year listing

Carol Henderson is the lady behind the label of Let’s Go Geography. She created a simple to use program that works well for students grades K-5, though it would be easily adaptable for both younger or older students. This online homeschool geography curriculum incorporates many different styles of learning and activities that will appeal to all different learners. From mapwork to crafts, from videos to writing, this program has a bit of everything. Well, adding a recipe for each country would be fantastic but there is a bit of everything else.

When you log into the site for your course, you will see all of the years that you have access to. As you can see, we have access to both Year 1 and Year 2, since we reviewed Year 1 a while back. There is also a short teacher’s course that has some helpful tips. Each of the boxes indicates progress. You can see that the teacher’s course shows completed while the Year 2 Semester 1 box shows progress about halfway through. Year 1 was completed but the website has been revamped since then so it doesn’t show that here.

Semester Access Page with arrows

Click on year and semester you want to access and it will take you to a list of all of the lessons. Each lesson is for a different country, except for in the US where it has been broken up into sections of the country. Clicking on the lesson you want take you to a lesson page and you click on the download link. It opens a PDF which includes all of the needed pages and links for the country.

lesson list

We began at the beginning, creating a travel cover for the 3 ring travel binder where we are keeping the lessons and reviewing the continents. From there, we moved into the countries. Each country’s PDF follows the same set-up making it simple for the parent/teacher.

Jamaica lesson

There is information on the country, its map, information and questions such as neighboring countries, bodies of water, and the capital city. The student marks the country on a continent map and has a country map to study and observe. The students can create a flag for the country and add it to a map.

Next the student is given links to music of the country including the national anthem. These links are active and most go to a safe YouTube site. The ones that do not go to a safe YouTube page are noted as such. The student listen to the national anthem and often see images of the country at the same time. There is also another piece of music to listen to. Sometimes it has been students dancing a native piece of music and other times it has been a folk song. These are good representations of the area being studied.

In the fourth part, the students are exploring the country. This includes foods eaten or sold, agriculture, history, landmarks, important people or places, and other unique things about the country. This is done through text, images, and videos. Again, these video links generally take the student to a safe YouTube page.

With my 5th grader, this is an area where we have been modifying the program a bit. When she finds something interesting or has a question about it, we take a break from the program and hit the internet for further information. When she saw the video about making sombreros for Mexico, we had a discussion about it and she looked up more information. She did the same for a bird that she thought was interesting and a volcano she read about and saw video on. This program is ideal for these types of investigations.

The final section is a coloring page and featured craft. The coloring page has some information about why the image for the page was chosen, such as soccer players for countries where that is a common activity to information on the lizard that is on the page. There is also a craft if the student chooses to do it. These include painting mountains for the western US or making a sunset collage for the southwestern US to making a tissue paper hummingbird for Jamaica or a colorful parrot for Honduras.

We are happily flying around the globe with Let’s Go Geography. We can easily cover two to three countries per week working with an older student. When we covered Year 1, we were not moving quite so quickly and covered about one country per week. This is just another benefit of the program – flexibility! You can move at the pace your family needs and you can start at whatever country you might be interested in.

This is a program that we waited eagerly for Year 2 to be released and I hope that when Year 3 is finished, Miss J is still interested because this program teaches to her strengths so well. Let’s Go Geography has such an easy preparation for each lesson that I can’t imagine anything else being such a great fit for both the learner and the teacher. This is one we highly recommend.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read the reviews of other families who have been using Let’s Go Geography, Year 2. You can click on the banner below to visit that post.

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50 States Study for upper elementary

50 States Study

We have been going through the 50 states, learning them and learning a bit about them this fall with our upper elementary student. She did the states a few years ago and she has worked some on Texas history and US history, but knowing the names and placements of all 50 states is something we desire for her to learn. So, we tackled it this year. And she is doing super well.

50 states activity notebook

The weekly plan includes working through two of the states from the USA Bundle that we received from The Crafty Classroom. We are using the National Geographic book titled Our Fifty States. It includes beautiful pictures of each state, giving all of the information needed to complete the page for that state in the printable from the bundle. We are also playing a game or two each week or doing a puzzle of the states.

Make A State

Games that we have used include the Name That State Game from the Make-A-State Activity-Pak by Home School In The Woods. We have also used the Stack the States game, available on Kindle. There is a US history game that we have called American Trivia. It includes bits and pieces about the states so we have included it a couple of times.

Puzzles that we have include a cling film one that can go up on a window, a 100 piece puzzle with images of all the states and their main economic item, and a magnetic one where each piece is one state. We also have a table cloth that is a picture of all the states and I try to put it on the table every few weeks. (This was a fabulous project a few years ago when we were studying the states. We got glittery paint and marked where all of our family members lived. Great geography lesson for younger students.)

And, if you don’t know the song, Fifty Nifty is a great song for learning all of the 50 states in alphabetical order. With a catchy tune, it can be learned fairly quickly and will stick forever in your brain. I used it when I taught elementary music and by the time my students left first grade, every one of them knew all of the states in order. Music is a great tool!

With so many easy to use tools, perhaps your study of the states will be easy and fun. Also, check out a previous post about learning the states. It has quite a few hands on projects and a list of books. Some of the materials are duplicated here but these are some resources that we didn’t necessarily have back then.

Blessings,
Lori

50 States Study for upper elementary

2019 Blue Ribbon Awards ~ a look back at the Crew year

The Results Are In

As we do each year, the Homeschool Review Crew has voted for their favorite products from the reviews done in 2019. Our last reviews for the year will post next week, so every has had a chance to use all of the products for several weeks. The Crew chooses the categories and we spent a bit of time a week ago working through our choices in each category. Today, we are sharing that with you. So, let’s jump right in.

Writing Curriculum: Jump In from Sharon Watson

Language Arts (complete curriculum): Hewitt Homeschool’s Lightning Lit

Grammar Resource: Easy Grammar

Literature Curriculum: LitWits (review posting next week)

History/Social Studies: Drive Thru History

History Supplement: Library and Educational Services books

Science Curriculum: CrossWired Science

Math Curriculum: CTCMath

Math Supplement: Channie’s Page-A-Day workbooks

Middle School/Young Adult Book: Britfield & The Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart

Biography: Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love from Christian Focus

Poetry or Audio Drama: Heirloom Audio’s For The Temple

Fine Arts: Creating A Masterpiece’s Drawing Program

Elective: Stopmotion Explosion

Bible Supplement: Drive Thru History’s Acts to Revelation

Favorite Elementary School Product: Homeschool In The Woods – Project Passport:Middle Ages (we used only the timeline for our elementary student though our high school student has completed the whole study)

Favorite Middle School Product: Stopmotion Explosion

Favorite High School Product: Britfield & The Lost Crown by C.R. Stewart

Favorite Parent Product: Transcripts Made Easy by Everyday Education

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed: Stopmotion Explosion

Favorite Fun Resource: Brain Blox Building Planks AND Fun Family Chess (but we could only vote for one so we voted for the planks)

Helpful Tool/Resource: Transcripts Made Easy by Everyday Education

Miss J – Kid’s Choice: Brain Blox Building Planks

Miss L – Teen’s Choice: Stopmotion Explosion

Miss E – Teen’s Choice: The Kingdom Code (financial education)

Adult’s Choice: Creating A Masterpiece’s Drawing ProgramThe REsults are in

So there you have them – our choices of products we really enjoyed. Now, to be fair, there were several of these categories where we had to negotiate with each other for a final choice because there were more than one choice someone wanted to vote for. So, just because it isn’t linked here, doesn’t mean we didn’t like the product. So, you could always search for TOS Reviews on the blog here to get all of the reviews we have done or search by subject or topic to narrow it down.

By the way – The Crew is still adding bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers to the team for the 2020 Crew year. If you are interested, visit the Crew site to read more about the requirements and find the application. We do enjoy expanding our team and would like to have you join us.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Click on the image below to see the 2019 Blue Ribbon Award winners as chosen by the votes from members of the Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find a link up with other bloggers who have shared their family’s favorites from the 2019 Crew year.

Homeschool-Review-Crew-Favorite-Homeschool-Products-for-2019

Mattie Richardson, Author, and Her Horses of History Series ~ a Crew review

Horses In History Series from author Mattie Richardson

Books that dive into history in a unique way are highly appreciated by this mom, who is constantly looking for new ways to interest my sweet girls in different things. When the Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series of books from young author Mattie Richardson came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read them. I had seen them previously but had not been able to get them at the time. Wow, have we been missing out!

Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books started writing these books when she was about 13. She has picked up a very interesting and unique way to look at different events in history with this series of books – from the perspective of the horses. What a fabulous outlook to take, especially when you consider her age as she started writing them. Well, since the first one, she hasn’t really stopped writing. Taking on the idea of how the horses might have seen different historical events was a stroke of genius.

Mattie Richardson books

There are 4 books in this series and we received each of them to read and review:

  • Appaloosy,
  • Dusty’s Trail,
  • Golden Sunrise, and
  • Day and Night.

We also received the new ebook enrichment guide to go along with Day and Night.

Appaloosy by Mattie RichardsonAppaloosy – This book takes a look at the final freedom of the Nez Perce tribe. Storm is a beautiful Appaloosa with unique markings who belongs to the tribe. The story follows the attempt by the tribe to maintain their freedom from the desires of the white man. War breaks out in Idaho, disrupting the life of the stunning young stallion. We follow Storm through many different owners, including both horse thieves/rustlers and kind owners. As the story continues, we follow Storm’s struggle for freedom, both against owners and his own heart.

Miss J and I read this book out loud during the review period, reading a chapter a night together. It was an interesting story about a time that she did not know anything about. The history of the struggles of the Nez Perce tribe as seen through the eyes of the horse made it an event that wasn’t too hard to read. There are some situations that sensitive children might have a harder time with but they are very important to the history of the events. They are handled carefully and are well done, emphasizing just the right amount of the scare or concern or fright while allowing the proper influence on the story because horse thieving, fights, battles, hunger, and more are all a part of it. We enjoyed reading the story together and seeing it all play out from a bit safer of a view point – the horse.

Dusty's Trail by Mattie Richardson

Dusty’s Trail – The call of the newspaper ad is just too strong for the young boy and his horse. The Pony Express! What an adventure it would be. Against his mother’s wishes, young Levi takes off on his horse Dusty. Dusty tries to let Levi know that this isn’t the best plan but Levi wins out and they become part of The Pony Express. Amid attacks, heat, cold, missing relays, and more, the story of how The Pony Express worked through the eyes of Dusty is a joy.

Golden Sunrise by Mattie Richardson

Golden Sunrise – The palomino pony, Cheyenne, is at home on the ranch when Jared decides he just has to be a part of the changes occuring in Texas in the 1830s and 1840s. The Texas fight for independence was just too appealing to the young lad and so with his horse, they join up. Being a part of the war may just be more than Cheyenne bargained for, though as she learns about the war she knows it is a just cause. Right in the midst of it all, Cheyenne and Jared are part of the big battles and meet many of the people who came to be important in the history of it all.

Day and Night by Mattie Richardson

Day and Night – The American Civil War was anything but civil, even for the horses. Two horse brothers, Tucker and Shiloh, are separated from each other as their lives diverge. One ends up on the side of the North and the other ends up on the side of the South. One ends up carrying a high ranking official. The other ends up carrying a boy, um – girl dressed like a boy who lied to be able to fight. From the border wars and the fights on the western front of the war, to the bloodiest battles fought, to protecting the lines and taking care of their riders, these horses saw it all and learned so much about the war that maybe we should learn from them.

Each of these stories is told from the horses’ point of view. Each is well told and highlights issues surrounding the events that might not be immediately obvious or the part that we have learned about in past history studies. These unique looks at the events of the stories will broaden the reader’s idea of what it is like to fight in a battle, seek freedom, work hard on a horse, ride for hours on end, or be a part of something bigger than themselves.

enrichment_guide

The Day and Night Enrichment Guide is a full-on unit study designed to help the reader get more out of the book. There are 8 parts to the guide, with all of the first seven following the same format. Each part contains

  • reading comprehension – questions to help guide the reader’s understanding of the story
  • vocabulary – words used within the story that might be new or unfamiliar to the reader; most are fill-in-the-blank activities with one matching activity
  • a soldier’s life – designed to help the reader understand more about the different aspects of a soldier’s life, there is information on food, bugle calls, medicine, camp life, and more
  • living history activity – these activities help bring to life the things that a soldier would have experienced, such as making butter, eating hardtack, or having johnnycakes; some of these include making a diorama or studying a reenactment
  • geography – because geography was important to war, there is a study of the states involved in the story, landmarks of the battles, rivers, and other big picture ideas of the civil war
  • horses and history – a look at the role of the horse in the civil war, including tack and equipment, purpose of the cavalry, breeds of horses, and more
  • creating your own stories – working one element at a time, the reader begins to create their own stories
  • biography – a look at an important person from the story
  • further reading/advanced track – additional books to read to further develop understanding of the Civil War

Part 8 is the completion of the story the reader was writing and suggestions for field trips.

The enrichment guide can be used as is but it would be very easy to pick the pieces of it that fit your need or your family and use just those. In whole, it is a solid literature, history, and geography study, with writing included. In pieces, it will be a good supplement to the story. Either way, it is a recommended addition to the book.

Horses In History Series from author Mattie Richardson

While we have not yet used the enrichment guide, I am getting it printed out and into a binder so that we can use it in the spring for our history with Miss J, age 10. We will not

use the further reading section, but all the others will be interesting and really create a solid study of these battles in the Civil War.

I am excited about using these four books from Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books as the base for a history unit. These books are easy to read and chock full of the details of history that truly bring it to life.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about the Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series. Please click on the banner below to visit the Crew blog and read more reviews.

Appaloosy-Books-Reviews-2019

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The Finest Hours ~ Book Club

The Finest Hours

This month’s selection is by Michael J Tougias and Casey Sherman. It is titled The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue.

I had read a review of this book on A Net In Time and immediately went to the library site and put it on hold. It sounded fascinating and I was not disappointed.

Screenshot 2019-11-05 at 8.02.06 PM

In 1952, there were many large oil tankers that had been produced during WWII still a float on the sea. Often, they were now de-commissioned from the armed services and being used by commercial groups. This was not unusual and the men on them served their companies well.

In the winter of 1952, mid-February, New England was slammed by a nor-easter. It was a terrific storm and wrecked havoc all up and down the sea coast. However, it was on the water where the worst was happening.

In the early hours, an oil tanker sent up a distress call. They were floundering and knew they were unlikely to survive the storm. Their hull was cracking, quite literally. Manufactured quickly during the war, the materials used were not quality and they were breaking apart. While the Coast Guard sent boats to their rescue, it was hard going. The Coast Guard typically used smaller vessels to head out to sea to help and these small vessels were having to battle waves that were 70 and 80 feet high, much taller than their small ships. However, they set out to help the oil tanker.

The Coast Guard, however, was in for a huge surprise. While looking for the oil tanker, a plane noticed an oil tanker broken in half. Yet, it didn’t appear to be the one he was looking for. Sure enough, a second oil tanker had broken in half during the storm before they were able to get a distress call off. By luck, they were found and additional rescue boats were sent their way.

The Finest Hours details the rescue of the men on the two oil tankers and the lives of the men who set out to rescue them, knowing they were likely to not return home. These were definitely “the finest hours” of the Coast Guard rescue teams.

Based on a true story, this one is worth reading. It is captivating and invigorating. It was one I could not put down and read into the night to find out what happened. As you might imagine with this type of storm and this many people involved, not everyone survived. Without the Coast Guard, though, it is likely none of the men would have survived. This is a story of possibility because of the men who went out in those small Coast Guard boats.

A Must Read.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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