Sep 20, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: By the Way

We were asked to review a beautiful book from By the Way, called "Ireland". It is one of the newest books in the By the Way Book Series.

Since we had reviewed one of the books in this series before, we were excited and eager to receive it!

By the Way Book Series are stories about Alex and Lexi, twins who journey around the world having adventures. So far, there are ten books, all set in different locations like the Smokey Mountains, the Treasure Coast, New York City, Ohio, Alaska, and Washington State.

But these aren't just cutesy little stories. The By the Way series is intended to be a springboard for parents and grandparents to introduce spiritual truths to kids on a regular, daily basis. So each book is filled with wonder at the beauty of God's creation, Scripture verses, hymns, science facts, photographs, real stories from history and a challenge to find specific pictures scattered throughout the book. They are packed with snippets of information meant to teach a Christian worldview, all artfully woven into the fun story about these two children.

By The Way book Ireland

Ireland is the story of the twins' (and their mom's) visit to meet distant relatives "across the pond". Cousins "Uncle" Finn, "Aunt" Fiona, Kyle and Kayla and their Irish Terrier, Dingo, greet them warmly and set out to give them a personal tour of Ireland. Of course, we get to go along!

We get to see sheep, and a fox (which inspires a proverb with a quick lesson) and learn some fun foxy facts. We get to see lighthouses and dolphins and sailing ships, and learn a little bit of history. We visit the Blarney Castle and explore its myths and legends, which led to another Bible lesson. We learn a lot of basic facts about Irish geography, listen to some fun Irish tales, "virtually experience" some Irish foods, and see plenty of Irish wildlife! We learn about geocaching, the Kylemore gardens, St. Patrick and Irish music. There is much more: the Belleek factory; Connemara ponies; abbeys; castles; shops; and culture, all mixed in with plenty of breathtaking photographs, Scripture verses and illustrations. The book winds up a famous Irish blessing: a truly lovely ending to a truly lovely book!

There are many ways you can use this book with your children. My kids (being older) like to just sit down and peruse the book on their own. They usually come back to it several times, absorbing information each time. I like to read it, a little at a time, aloud to them, talking and discussing and enjoying what we read together, as a group. For little ones, this is probably the best way. It would work amazingly well in a Morning Basket if you have one. You could add it into a unit study of Ireland or Great Britain or any number of related topics. You could use it as a starting place for your own unit study and follow rabbit trails and activity ideas galore! You could also just sit down and read it straight through, and then again like most picture books, enjoying it over and over for many years.

However you use it, you will no doubt get plenty of pleasure and inspiration and knowledge from its pages. 

I know we thoroughly enjoy the By the Way Book Series and highly recommend it!

By the Way Book Series: New York City, Ireland, Indiana & Alaska {By the Way Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sep 18, 2018

Homeschool Reivew Crew: The Captain Sun Adventures


My kids are superhero fans. Serious superhero fans! So I thought they would enjoy reviewing a little book by The Captain Sun Adventures called Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith. This is book one in a three part series of stories that are partly comic book and partly kids' devotional. These books take the fun of superheroes and mix them up with Biblical truth to help build kids' faith. And not just kids, either. Since adults love superheroes, too, they will also gain truth and insight from these short graphic novels.

The Captain Sun Adventures

Rescue Me! is the story of Capital City which is mysteriously overtaken by a strange darkness. As hopelessness grew, it became apparent that the citizens needed help from Captain Sun! And he appears! Just in time to save a school bus full of kids from falling to their death! As the story continues, Captain Sun faces off with Black-Out and seemingly conquers him. However, after Captain Sun returns to his secret identity he realized that Black-Out escaped from the police and is wrapping Capital City in darkness once more. This time, the Captain calls on his friends to help him. Fogbank, Missile Man, Electro Lad and Landslide gather together and try to make a plan. They realize they must act quickly before the darkness enters an energy lab! Will they be too late? Will they be strong enough? Will another desperately needed hero step forward?

This is a short "book". I was able to read it myself in a few minutes. Written in the true style of a graphic novel, with comic pictures and short text in boxes, it is an easy read even for kids. However, unlike a graphic novel, it is divided into eight short chapters with a short devotional at the end of each chapter. The devotional is in the format of a newspaper story. It gives some information and asks questions relating to superheroes and to faith.


This book teaches about the love of God, the Gospel, our "great responsibility" to love others, not trying to just look good but to do our good deeds in a "secret identity" of humility, the importance of teamwork and what actually makes a real hero?

At the end of the book is a question from each chapter for kids to think about!

When we received this book in the mail, my eleven-year-old daughter grabbed it and disappeared into her room with it. Over the next few days, it was passed around the house. It didn't take long for any of my teens and tweens to read it at all.

Abbie, the aforementioned eleven-year-old, agreed to give me her thoughts:
I liked it. It was different than a regular comic book because of the newspapers, every two pages there was a newspaper. They were about how you can be a superhero in everyday life if you follow God.
My favorite part was Captain Sun saving a small grey kitten and a black lab puppy. I liked how when Captain Sun needed help the others came and helped him. 

Another way to read the book is to take it a little more slowly, read one chapter at a time and go over the devotional together with your child. I think this would be most effective if your child were younger. While my teens and tweens enjoyed the book, they did not me to elaborate on the message and knowledge gained. I think we would have enjoyed a lot of discussion if we had used this book when they were younger, though!

I strongly recommend Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith for all lovers of Superheroes! Especially young ones!

Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith {The Captain Sun Adventures Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sep 17, 2018

How to Have a High School Bookclub

My younger two kids had a book club. It was intended to help them fall in love with reading. But that's all I'm going to say about that because this post is not about their book club. One day I realized: my two kids that sort of read and don't like to read have a book club. But my bookworms do not. Why not? Well, Kaytie sort of went to a book club but it was girl only and met at a lot of different times instead of a set time, which often made it hard for us to get to. Nate needed a book club and it would be easier for me if they just had one co-ed club like the little kids.


So we started a book club for... well, high school, except a lot of our kids are middle school... or, teenagers... except a lot of our kids were still twelve. So we started a book club for these kids.

I like simple so we kept it that way. The kids and I brainstormed a list of friends then I Facebook messaged all their moms and told them what we were doing. I started a Facebook group and added all the moms that were interested in being a part.

As a group, we chose a good day and time, and then picked a starting date. All the kids showed up with suggestions for books to read which we narrowed down by voting. All the moms have instant, unquestioned, unlimited veto power for any book.


But that is pretty much the extent of adult participation. The kids take turns leading discussion each month. They come up with questions and do their best to keep the talk on track. I am always present, but I do not intervene nor interject unless directly appealed to.

The conversation does get loud and animated. But the kids have done a great job of asking provoking questions, giving deep insights, and generally being respectful of other people's opinions. In the interest of full disclosure, there is a girl with a whistle and she has been known to use it when everybody gets so excited that they all talk at once and no one can hear anyone else. This is not a group of little old ladies sipping tea. These are teenagers with opinions.

They also take turns providing snacks. This is because they are teenagers (mostly) and they need food pretty much constantly. We can't have them fainting dead away in the middle of the animated discussion!


So there you go. That is how we started our High School I mean Teenager  I mean These Kids Book Club!

Sep 12, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Picta Dicta

Latin is a language I have always wanted to learn. It is also a language I have always wanted to teach my kids. So far, they have always resisted this idea of mine. I thought I had one interested once, but he slipped through my fingers and lost enthusiasm really quickly. When we were asked to review  Picta Dicta Natural World from Roman Roads Media, I was immediately interested because it offered a different method to learning language.

PictaDicta Natural World

Instead of teaching the kids a lot of heavy grammar and rules, this program focuses on vocabulary. Instead of teaching "pirum" means "pear", this program focuses on teaching vocabulary just the same way a baby learns its first language. Images and the Latin word are matched, leaving out the English "version" that makes you have to constantly translate in your head.

I thought this was a genius idea. My older brother learned to speak Spanish fluently when he was a teenager. He mastered the language by spending his summers in villages in Mexico where people spoke only Spanish to him. He learned his second language the exact same way he learned his first language, by speaking and hearing and using it in real life.

In college, I learned that is really the best way to learn fluency in a language. A mama doesn't sit her brand new baby down and say, "Now, this is a noun. This is a singular noun and it means something that you drink out of. Say, 'cup'. And if you have more than one, you say, 'cups'." No, a mama holds up a cup and says, "Cup! Look at this cup! It is a purple cup! Would you like a drink from this cup?" No grammar lesson needed because she modeled everything that baby needs to know about its native language.

Picta Dicta works along the same lines. The student is shown a picture and the word for that picture is spoken. There are a couple of paragraphs of information about the picture for the child to peruse, just a little bit of "this is what this is and what it does and why it was important to the Romans". Some of the foods have recipes, which my wannabe chef appreciated!


You are given a few words and then tested on those words by matching the spoken and written word to one of a group of pictures.


If you guess correctly, you get a green check, you are shown the picture and the word is spoken again. If you are wrong, you get a red x, you are shown the correct picture and the word is spoken again. Then you go on to the next one.

As you can see in the photo above, each image has a short description so the kids don't become confused about the difference between similar images. For example, a wolf and a dog.


It will keep cycling you through the pictures until you get all of them right at least once.

The words are divided into groups:
Basic animals
Fruit, berries and nuts
Anatomy I
Land forms and terrain
Small animals
Parts of trees and plants
Human anatomy II
Birds I
Growing things
Sky and weather
Animal anatomy
Sea life
Hand and Foot
Exotic Animals
Flowers and Herbs
Vegetables and Legumes
Human Anatomy III
Birds II
Insects, arachnids and worms
Sign and habitat
Light and fire
Metals and Stones
Ground cover and Vegetation

Each group follows the same basic pattern. A few words and testing, then a few more words and testing, until you have correctly identified all the words. I am not good with math but I think about eighteen words in each group (I could be wrong, but that is what I counted).

There are different "games" that test you in different ways, for example, matching words to pictures, words to words, and having to type in the words. This last one requires you to truly know the right word and to spell it totally correctly! This was really hard for my younger kids who don't spell well in their native tongue, much less a new language!

There are six different levels you can choose from, and they all have slightly different games. If a level is too hard or too easy for child, it is simple to switch them to a different level. We used three different levels. My middle school kids used Reader I. My high school kids used Reader II and I played around with Express. The other levels are Basic and English, which are both lower than Reader I, and Teacher, which is self-explanatory.

The format was pretty much the same with all of the three levels that we used. Reader I starts with English vocabulary then moves to the Latin vocabulary. It also includes spelling in both English and Latin. While Reader II includes a lot more reading material and just focuses on the Latin. This is for older students, but I think my younger kids would have enjoyed it more than Reader I level simply because it has less spelling. The spelling drove them crazy because neither of them are good spellers.

Finally, I want to tell you about the "dashboard". I set up all four kids' accounts with my account. I was then able to access a dashboard, where I could see what games and levels they had done, how much time they had spent on the program that week and what their "grade" (in percentage) was for that week. It was a handy way for me to keep an eye on them.

We did enjoy Picta Dicta, the kids said:

Kaytie:   I think it is a really effective way of learning another language because it helps make the link between the image and the spoken word more efficiently. I wish they had this for Spanish, too. It is really interesting when I see something in real life and I know the Latin word because I associate the image with the word. Because it eliminates having to translate. I think if I had started learning Latin this way instead of with other products that started me with tenses and stuff that I would like Latin a lot more than I do now.

Nate: It worked. I learned a lot of Latin vocabulary. I didn't really want to learn Latin, but this is effective at teaching it to me anyway. I wish they had this method for Spanish. The spelling was hard. It would mark me wrong if I only missed one letter. But I understand that it can't really guess what you mean to say.

Daniel:  I didn't like the spelling. I always got it wrong and it was frustrating. Seeing the pictures and learning the vocabulary from the pictures was helpful. I liked trying to make my score perfect.

Abbie:  It is hard sometimes. The Latin spelling was hard. I can't spell pomegranate. Why did they eat so many pomegranates? I liked that I learned Latin, it was easier to learn with the pictures. I really liked the descriptions below the pictures because it helped me remember which was which.

The program was super easy to set up and to use. I was able to effortlessly monitor their progress. They could all manage it on their own. It did take us a little effort to figure out which buttons to click for going forward and backward and which to click when we were finished. Somehow that was not intuitive for us. But we did figure it all out pretty quickly.

I liked that each kid could move at their own pace and that they could go back and work on the lessons they had already done. Daniel, especially, went back over each lesson until he got it perfectly. I love that he had the ability to do that but that it wasn't required for my other kids who wanted to build their vocabulary first.

We strongly recommend Picta Dicta for anyone who wants to start Latin or who wants/needs to bulk up their Latin vocabulary. It also seems to work well for kids who don't want to learn Latin but their mom wants them to.

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sep 2, 2018

School Pictures


Kaytie is our creative kid. She is either drawing, painting, writing, playing her ukulele, or performing somehow. When she needs a break from creating, she reads a book. She loves to volunteer and is always offering to help. Her newest loves are succulents and her betta fish, Icarus.


Nate is our scientist. He loves to read and when he isn't deep in a book he is investigating answers to his newest questions or delving deep into his recent obsession. If you have a question, he is the man to find the answers. He also enjoys his film group, practicing his guitar and training the dogs.


Daniel has recently discovered audio books. He can now be found spending hours listening to stories while he builds with Lego. He also spends a lot of time fixing up the bikes when they break and making wooden weapons. He also has a new betta fish, but his name changes daily so I can't introduce him to you.


Abbie has grown into our most responsible child. She keeps her room clean, babies her guinea pigs, trains the dogs, and then spends her free time either reading or playing with Barbies. 

Aug 22, 2018

Not Cheating But A Really Great Idea

Welcome to the third day of 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement!  Today we are talking about what Work It Wednesday. What works for us on Wednesdays and all the other days!

I was a homeschooled kid. I was also a rule-follower. I distinctly remember once when my older brother shared about two homeschool moms who were swapping subjects to teach. One mom took all the kids and taught writing while another day the other mom taught everyone math. He was impressed with the system but I, in all my teenage "wisdom" was appalled. "But that's... that's.... CHEATING!"

He laughed at me and explained that homeschooling didn't mean the parents had to teach every single thing themselves but that it gave them the freedom to chose who taught what and how.

I recall this conversation often and always with a laugh at my own expense. Because these days, I send my kids often to other moms to teach them. While I teach their kids. We each get to draw from our own strengths and have help in our areas of weakness.

Outsourcing is actually one of my favorite things about homeschooling. I don't have to know, learn, or fake an overwhelming interest in All The Things. I don't have to struggle with a foreign language I don't speak, or hurry to learn all the science so I can answer whatever questions come up, or pretend that I even care about computer programming.

I can even send my kids to learn a subject that I know about with a specialization that I do not, like journalism. I love writing and teaching writing but articles, news, and non fiction are not the stuff of my dreams! But my friend, she knows it, she loves it, she has actually done it in real life and my kids enjoy learning all of that from her.

I love learning science, but I was not taught science as a kid. I know practically nothing and it shows when I try to teach it. So I send my kids to a mom friend who loves science and teaching and teaching science. And it shows. They now have a love and curiosity for all things science. Even the stuff they used to think was "gross".

But for me, there are more, compelling reasons to outsource. Especially in high school. My kids have learned to learn from other people. They have learned that deadlines aren't always soft. That homework is meant to be done. Legibly. And turned in. On time. They have learned to ask questions when they don't understand. They have learned to pay attention. To ask for what they need because other people don't read minds like Mama does! They have learned that hard work pays off and they can pull that faltering grade up if they work hard. They have learned that other people besides Mom and Dad care about them and that that caring is displayed in expectations and requirements. They have learned about different teaching styles and how to sit in a class with other kids. How not to be distracted AND how not to distract.

But not all of our outsourcing is "academic". My kids serve on a student board that is led by other moms. They are learning how to serve, lead, organize events, brainstorm ideas, follow-through, encourage others, and work with peers. The mom in charge has done a great job over the last few years of leading/nudging them into independence and encouraging them to make the organization better with their hard work.

I no longer believe that outsourcing is cheating. I think it is something that adds so much value to our educational experience that I could never manage to afford to pay what it is actually worth.

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool Angie @ Run Ran Family Adventures & Learning Annette @ A Net in Time Ashley @ Gift of Chaos Betty @ Let’s Get Real Brenda @ Counting Pinecones Carol @ Home Sweet Life Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses Christine @ Christine Howard Christy @ The Simple Homemaker Dawn @ Schoolin' Swag Debra @ Footprints in the Butter Diana @ Homeschool Review Felicia @ Homeschool 4 Life Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life Jennifer @ Dear Homeschooler Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory Karen @ Tots and Me...Growing Up Together Kelly @ Hope in the Chaos Kellyann @ Walking Home ... Kimberley @ Vintage Blue Suitcase Kristen @ A Mom's Quest to Teach Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break Laura @ Four Little Penguins Linda @ Apron Strings & other things Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures Lori @ At Home: where life happens Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama Marla @ Jump Into Genius Meredith @ Powerline Productions: Being World Changers/Raising World Changers Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays Missica @ Through The Open Window Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling Nicole @ Bless Their Hearts Mom Patti @ Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining Rodna @ Training Children up for Christ Stacy @ A Homemakers Heart Tess @ Circling Through This Life Wendy @ Life at Rossmont Yvie @ Gypsy Road


Related Posts with Thumbnails