Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Drive Thru History® -- "The Gospels" *REVIEW*

The weather here this spring has been so wet, I'm not sure we will ever totally dry out. It has meant many more afternoons spent inside than we are use to. The kids get antsy, bored and bickering. I have pretty much exhausted my tricks for keeping them entertained. I always say no to TV in the afternoons, but recently I have said yes! Drive Thru History® has been a awesome, educational resource that has kept us captivated on some very dreary days.

Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” takes the viewer on a trip through Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Our guild for this tour, Dave, visits over 50 ancient sites that connect with locations in the Gospels. Through it all, he presents the story of Jesus in an interesting and interactive way. He provides historical, archaeological and Biblical truths in a way that make the Gospels really come alive.

There are 18 episodes with a total of 9 hours of viewing material. Each episode runs about 30 minutes. This length was perfect for watching in the afternoon after school. It was short enough to keep the kids attention but long enough to feel like you really got something out of the lesson.

The DVD case looks like a book and contains an 118-page study guild inside. The guild goes through each of the episodes and provides a summary, questions and additional tidbits. The images in the study book full color and a real treat to look through. I thought the whole design of the guild and the general quality of the DVD's was just excellent. In my experience, sometimes resources like this can be a bit cheesy or low-budget-- that is not Drive Thru History®. The filming, music and art are incredibly well done. 

It has been exciting to see how the Lord has used this series to connect the story of Jesus together for my kids. What started as a cure for rainy day boredom, has turned into so much more. We were already learning about ancient times, right around when Jesus entered the scene. We were also reading through Luke as a family in preparation for Easter. I really think watching Dave explore the Holy Land helped in sink in that these are real places, real locations and real people. 

Growing up, I never really connected Bible history with reality. When I understood history from a Biblical perspective a lot of things in the Bible really started to click for me. I hope that with resources like this my kids can get a full picture of history.

I watched this series with my four and six year-old. They are definitely on the young end of the spectrum for this material. I am sure that there are certain things that they didn't quite catch, but there will be many opportunities to re-watch this later. The four year-old's attention generally starts to fade toward the end of each episode, but that's okay. I have discovered the key to getting the kids excited about any educational show-- it's all about the popcorn.

This series is totally family friendly and appropriate for any age. In fact, what makes Drive Thu History® so great, is that it's entertaining and educational for young and old. I think older elementary and teens would get the most out of the study-guild. I picked a few of the questions to discuss with the kids, but in more of a conversational way. This would be a great series to do in a small group or a youth group.

I am really glad we own this series and I can see us pulling it out and re-watching it in a few years. If you are curious if Drive Thru History® is a fit for your family, you can check out a free full episode here. To see how other families are using this resource, click the banner below.

The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}
You can also connect with Drive Thru History® on
FacebookYouTube and Instagram
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Around our House Week 17

We had a great Easter around our house! The weather was just amazing and it was a great day with family.

I also thought I would share what our morning time is looking like right now--

A few picture books- An Egg is Quiet, Where the River Begins and Rechenka's Egg.
We have been really enjoying The Story of the Orchestra. Quick, informative and really fun for the kids. We just started Old Story New this week and so far it's been working great as a devotional.
We are getting close to the end of the Story of the World: Vol 1. We are nearly done with Farmer Boy too. This month we have been leaning about John Constable and his paintings. We always pray together and work on some memorization- right now Titus is memorizing some of All Things Bright and Beautiful. They generally color as I read and squabble over the markers. Violet loves the picture booksand music but mostly loses interest after that.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Around Our House Week 16

We began our new read-aloud not long ago. My son is a huge fan of the Little House books. We read the first three last summer/fall and then I decided it was time for a break. After finishing a few other reads we are coming back to read Farmer Boy. So far it has been such a fun read and now we are nearing the end. 

I usually read a chapter or two during our morning time. This has proven to be nearly torturous as we read about Almanzo eating donuts and all sorts of his mother's cooking. I gave in and made donuts the other day because I couldn't stop thinking about them! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Around Our House Week 15

The sun has decided to come out for a visit, and I am making the most of outdoor days!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Around Our House Week 14

We had another fun weekend at the beach.  

Whenever I stress about not getting in enough nature walks or journaling I have to remember how much fun we have exploring as a family. It might not be a designated school time, but we get out a lot together. This time we watched some geese eating little sea creatures at low tide, we caught crabs and peeked under rocks and found baby lingcod. Best of all, we did it all together.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Around Our House Week 13

Yesterday was the first day of spring! It is certainly starting to feel like spring in Oregon. We have been getting some beautiful sunny days and then pouring rain! Sunday was even hot and I got out for a bike ride. 

I have a feeling there will be more outside school in our future. It's so hard to call him inside to work when the days are nice. Especially when the days ahead call for rain!

Creating a Masterpiece Monthly Plan *REVIEW*

Online Art Course

Nothing puts a smile on my face like finding little pictures my kids have made. It's like I get a little peek inside their minds. It's a window into their imaginations. Making and studying art is one of my favorite parts of homeschool. I knew that Creating a Masterpiece would be a perfect fit for our family.

As much as I enjoy art, I am definitely not an expert. I try, but sometimes come up stumped with the best way to explain a process or technique. This online art program brings a master artist to you. Sharon Hofer shares her vast knowledge through a variety of different projects. With the Monthly Plan you get unlimited access to all the projects!

There are currently 58 projects to explore with over 144 lessons. Projects use a variety of media, including, acrylic, batik, block printing, conte crayon, copper tooling, glass mosaic, ink, oil painting, oil pastel, pencil/charcoal, sculpture, silk painting, soft pastel, watercolor and wood burning. All of these projects range in difficulty starting with a beginners section and moving through 5 different levels. Beginner projects are short and simple, the lower levels are designed to teach an artistic foundation. The levels increases in difficulty and teach new techniques and processes. You can see the different projects and difficulty levels here.
I loved that while some of these projects might seem difficult, they are really quite accessible to younger children. My 4 and 6 year-old completed a level 2 project without much difficulty. The projects are broken down into smaller lessons that explain each step thoroughly. We spaced the lessons out and worked gradually through the painting. I set Sharon up on my computer (you can see the video behind my daughters head in this photo). We watched her demonstrate each step and then we would pause the video and recreate what she did. I actually love the flexibility of a video because we could replay anything we missed or didn't understand. There was no pressure to keep up or move quickly like there might be in an actual class. I acted as the physical teacher and was hands on in helping both kids when they needed it. This really helped my little people get the most out of these lessons.  

Sharon is a great teacher and you can tell she has taught hundreds of students. She does an excellent job of taking just enough time to teach each technique but does not lose the students interest with long-winded explanations. She encourages each persons unique creative voice and offers lots of suggestions on how to make the projects your own. The lessons are not aimed at any specific age and she teaches to all students. An adult looking to learn more about art would not feel talked down to and a younger student would not feel out of their depths.

For my family, physical art lessons aren't really an option at this time. We don't have the extra funds or extra time. The nearest studio that offers anything of that nature is an hour away. It would be a big commitment to cart all the kids to the city to participate in something like that, especially with a baby. I love that this program is not outrageously expensive and we can enjoy it from our dining room. I can put the baby down for nap and dig in with the kids. That accessibility means I have a much higher likelihood to follow through in making these lessons a part of out schooling.

If you are looking for a fine art curriculum that your whole family can enjoy, I would suggest taking a look at Creating a Masterpiece. You can even give it a try with a free sample project. You never know, you might get inspired to create a few masterpieces of your own!

If you are interested in checking out what other families and created, click the banner below-- 
Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}
 You can also find them on Facebook
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Around Our House Week 12

This last week we spent the weekend at my parents house. It was nice to get away for a bit. They were on vacation so I took care of the doggies. We got a little snow and tons of hail! The weather this March still continues to excite. Spring is coming, no matter what the weather may say. All our plum trees are in bloom and the garden is waking up.

Eclectic Foundations Language Arts: Level B *REVIEW*

I was instantly intrigued when I read about Eclectic Foundations Language Arts: Level B. This curriculum integrates many areas of language arts into easy to follow lessons. It's not just a reading program, or a handwriting book. Eclectic Foundations has students learning cursive, grammar, phonics, improving reading fluency and studying poetry.

Language Arts

I decided on Level B to use with my son. Students are ready for level be when they can read CVC words. If your child needs to work on reading comprehension, Level B is a great place to start. No knowledge of cursive is required, as they will learn that throughout the lessons. If you are unsure what level your child would be at, this is really helpful.   

The Teacher's Guild is very comprehensive and basically leads you through each lesson. I love that this requires no work ahead of time for me. It's nice to have at least one resource that we can just do, no extra planning involved.

So what does a typical lesson look like? First we do our work in McGuffey's First Reader. The student is either reading a lesson from the book, or they are working on their word cards. For each lesson in McGuffey's there are corresponding word cards. The student cuts these out and then colors them, nouns are red, verbs are green and so on. These are kept in a little stack and referred to often for different activities.

Next we open up our Student Workbook. The Student Workbook houses all the worksheets, poems, handwriting and phonics. Each lesson has a list of phonics words for the student to master. Any words that they struggle with can be worked on in the practice sheets, which are laminated sheets the student fills in letters on.

Below the phonics words in the Student Workbook is the handwriting section. Level B introduces the student to cursive. First, letters A through Z are introduced, one for each lesson. An example is given that shows the student how to write the letter on each page. After the alphabet students move on to easy, short quotes.

Next we turn to the poem for the day. Often, one or two stanzas are read a day. The parent aids the child in finding the rhyming words and circling them. There are also questions that you can ask the student about each poem. These aid in comprehension and understanding of the poem itself.

Finally there is a grammar section to work through. Sometimes there are worksheets for the student to do, and other times you are expected to use a whiteboard (or a piece of paper) to do a short lesson. These lessons have the students learning sentence structure and grammar terms. For example, the student might be asked to put a jumbled sentence in order, or correct an incorrect sentence.

There were a lot of things about this curriculum that we have been enjoying. My son watches me write cursive in awe and has really wanted to learn. He is confident printing and it seemed like a great time to start. While getting the hang of it has been frustrating at times, he is making great progress.

The poems are always a highlight of each lesson as well. I love poetry and any excuse to get into it more with the kids is a win to me! It has really helped his understanding to discuss the figurative language and symbolism in the poems. Of course, to him we are just having fun.

The grammar aspect of these lessons I have mixed feelings about. I really like that he is getting an introduction into grammar, it just feels way over his level at times. The curriculum specifies not to worry if they don't have a full understanding, that this is just an introduction. However, the way that it is introduced feels so dry and bare bones. For example, telling my son that a conjunction is a word that is used to connect or coordinate words, clauses or sentences, basically means nothing to him. I have tried to break down what nouns, pronouns, verbs, prepositions and so forth are, in a way that goes beyond the very "dictionary" like definitions given in the book. At least. if nothing else, he has heard these terms and we can build understanding later.

I feel like their are a few things that this curriculum could improve on, just to be a little more polished. For example, the handwriting is intended for students learning cursive but the provided spaces are very small (seen in the above collage, third picture). For young kids learning all the loops of cursive, I really feel like they need more room. In such a small space everything starts to look smashed. There is a good deal of white space left on the page, it would be very easy to make these lines a little roomier. I also found a few small mistakes while going through the teacher's guild. Just small things, but I think they take away from the professionalism of the curriculum itself.

Overall, if you are looking for a no frills, old-fashioned way to teach your child grammar, increase their reading fluency and learn cursive, this curriculum is great. Eclectic Foundations also offers their curriculum in PDF form.  All the components are nicely integrated into lessons that your student will enjoy!

If you want to find out what other parents think about this curriculum, and more about Levels A, B and C, click the banner below.     

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
You can also connect with Eclectic Foundations on their Facebook .
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Around Our House Week 11

We finally had a clear day with good tides. I have been wanting to get to the beach for weeks.

We found a few treasures too. My husband and I always look for those cobalt blue pieces and he was very pleased that he found such a large one. I knitted these mitts a few weeks back. This is not a color that I would generally chose, but it looked so springy in the store. They are nearly fluorescent and the entire time I was knitting I regretted choosing such a nuts color. However, I have to say, they have strangely grown on me. And if I ever get lost, I'm sure my family will be able to locate me in a hurry ;)

Monday, February 20, 2017

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt-- *Review*

I have been a little intimated to start teaching history to my son. History is interesting, and amazing but reading dry textbooks can make historical events seem irrelevant and uninteresting. There is nothing like learning in a way that makes history come alive, and Home School in the Woods totally understands this. They have created a series of hands-on history studies. Our family has been enjoying HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt. They also have studies that cover Ancient Greece, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation and coming next year, Ancient Rome.

If you are looking for a history study that will truly immerse you in the journey, this is it! You and your child will be taking a trip through history, complete with their own passport and luggage folder. Over 8-12 weeks you will have 25 "stops" or lessons. Stops feature lessons about everyday life, agriculture, trade, education, writing, the sciences, the arts, great builders and their architecture, religion, medicine, government, the dynasties, kingdoms, famous pharaohs, fitting Egypt into the Bible, archaeology and more.

What can you expect in each stop? Each stop has  a traditional text aspect, usually 2-2 1/2 pages long. These learning texts are both interesting and informative. They set the theme for the activities that follow. I usually set my son up with the necessary coloring for the days activities and then read while he works. I liked that they tie in both Bible history and Biblical messages. Kids will learn where things like the flood or the Tower of Babel fit into ancient times. Also, where topics are pertinent they tie in the Christian point of view. For example, when we learned about mummies and all the time, expense and effort that went into making them, they discussed how Jesus is the the only way to eternal life.

The next aspect of this curriculum, and really the star, is the variety of hands-on activities. Each student has a binder called their "Scrapbook of Sights". Inside they keep their timeline, map and postcard rack. Every few lessons they add pictures to their timeline to represent what they learned on that stop. When they learn about new areas of Egypt they add new locations to their map. They also occasionally get a postcard from a pertinent person in history delivered to their post card rack.

Here you can see my son getting ready to work on his timeline. He is sporting one of his handmade "souvenirs".

world history

The souvenirs are a super fun aspect of this curriculum. How many of these 3d projects you choose to complete is up to you. Because of time limitations, we have done a few of the less involved projects. Such as my sons fancy Egyptian necklace in the above picture. Other projects include making bricks, canopic jars, a sarcophagus, a shaduf and tons more. In fact, the curriculum as directions and master for over 50 projects!

There are two long-term projects as well. One is creating a lapbook and the other a newspaper. The lapbook consists of numerous smaller projects completed week-by-week all put together into one impressive presentation.  The video shows one element of the lapbook my son made. I really like the idea of the lapbook, as upon completions it has many different parts, reminding the child of all the things they learned along the way.  The Kemet Chronicle is a newspaper and your child gets to be the reporter. They write brief articles on the topics they are learning about.

 Also included are dramatized audio tours.  These tours take you out and about in Egypt. Your guild will take you down the Nile, visit a temple school, visit Akhenaton, interview Imhotep and more. There is more than an hour of listening. These are fun to listen to while working on projects. They add another element of learning to the curriculum and are very engaging.

The instructions for all the projects are very clear and easy to understand. Some may take a lot of printing, cutting, gluing and time but they are all doable. I never came to a point where I had to ask "what exactly am I suppose to be doing here?". The steps are illustrated and there a pictures of the finished projects as well. If you read all the instructions thoroughly, you shouldn't get lost.

One of the things I really love about this history study is how flexible it is. You can chose to do each stop in a day or spread them out over a week. You can do the whole curriculum in the 8-12 suggested weeks or take longer. We are doing one stop a week and so it's going to take us a while to finish up. The core lessons, map and timeline provide a great amount of learning. From there, the rest is really up to you. My son is significantly younger than the recommended age range (3rd-8th). I knew that The Kemet Chronicle would be above his skill level and chose not to do it. We choose souvenirs that fit our age abilities and time availability. Even choosing to opt out of a few aspects of this study, we are still getting so much from it.

What can you expect if you have a younger child like me working through this curriculum? Be ready to take a more hands on roll. On top of the printing and prep there will be a lot of cutting and assembly. It would simply take ages if I had my son do all the cutting that needs to be done. I prefer to have most things ready to go. He does all the fun coloring and gluing, I just get the materials to the stage where that can happen. I never felt like the material he was learning were too complicated or over his head. He may not retain every fact or understand the significance of every event, but he has still been learning so much. If you have younger children and want to get enjoy this, don't be intimidated!

This is a digital product, so it can be hard to know what to expect. After purchase and download you will have access to the full curriculum from your computer. The file is organized into many different folders so that the content is easy to find and navigate. For example, the teacher's text is in one area and images are in another. There is a handy introductory that basically teaches you how to find the content you need and a travel planner that gives you an overview of each "stop" on your journey.

I will admit, even with all the help it can be a little overwhelming trying to familiarize yourself with how to access everything. There is just so much, so many files and things to print. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to click around and get used to everything. This is not something that you want to do for the first time on Monday morning right before you start school. I found it helpful on Sunday evening when my kids headed off to Awana to spend a little quiet time getting prepped for the next lesson.

 As far as additional supplies go, paper is a must. Both card stock and printer paper are a necessity. Most of the other supplies are things you will likely have on hand, such as glue sticks, markers or scissors. Some of the souvenirs require materials you might not having laying around, such as clay. However, they are all in an affordable range and very doable. I don't know about other parents, but that is always a concern for me.  

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt is an awesome journey that will leave your children energized and excited about history. My son looks forward to this every week! I love hearing him say, "Is it time to go to Ancient Egypt yet?".

If you're interested in what other families have to say about HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt, or about their other curriculum for Middle Ages, Renaissance, or Ancient Greece, click here-

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

Connect with Home School in the Woods on
Facebook, Pinterest, Google + or Twitter
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Beautiful Garden of Eden by Gary Bower

This bright and beautiful book has been adding some color to our gray winter days! The Beautiful Garden of Eden by Gary Bower is part of his series, The Faith that God Built.

This story uses rhyme and repetition to teach young children the story of the Garden of Eden. I'll be honest, sometimes very repetitive books drive me nuts. I usually cannot wait to get to the end because I'm tired of saying the same thing over and over. The content starts to feel dry. However, this book manages to keep the interest level up by its interesting and fresh wording. It's just fun to read and hear. This book combines difficult and new vocabulary in a really accessible way. Words like upheaval, comely and calamitous. It also has some great verses that are fun to say, my favorite being "This is the fruit, so slurpy and sweet, that God warned his gardeners never to eat." 

The book does a good job of retelling what happens in the story in a simple way. It explains the curse and how it came to be. The last page of the book has a small square at the bottom of the page that says- Galatians 3:13, Christ has rescued us from the curse. I wish that this had been woven into the rhyme or added into the story in some way instead of feeling like an afterthought at the end of the book.   

The illustrations by Barbara Chotiner are really bright and cheerful. Her style throughout really ties the book together, The illustrations repeat as the verses repeat. My kids pointed this out immediately, "we already saw this picture mom". I wish that these had been changed up a little with different pictures because it makes the illustrations lose their appeal after seeing them so many times.  

If you're looking for a fun series that introduces Biblical concepts, check out Gary Bower.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Tyndale Publishers.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Around Our House Week10

We have been making our way through ancient Egypt with Home school in the Woods! Next week I will have my full review, but it's been great fun.

I also managed to get some sewing done and whipped this little lady up two geranium dresses. I have had the pattern for ages and only finally got around to sewing it. I also finished a pair of knit mitts and started a little baby sweater. This has been a productive season of making!