TOS Review: Laurelwood Books and Discount Code

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The Crew recently received the opportunity to review several interesting homeschooling products from Laurelwood Books. This company has so many wonderful things I had a hard time choosing. Since I could not decide I opened the decision up to my kids and they were the most intrigued by the Latin readers and accompanying workbooks. They chose Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, Reader II and Workbook II.

Olim%20Workbook%20II_zpszzeq8ehsOlim, Once Upon a Time in Latin is a series of six Latin readers and workbooks. These are designed for grades two through five or thereabouts. No prior Latin experience is required for any of the readers. They also have a Latin Derivatives book that can be uses alongside the Olim series. Latin grammar is taught in the workbooks with simple exercises like matching, fill-in the blank, and vocabulary exercises in English and Latin. Every few lessons there is a Digging Deeper” section in the workbooks. These sections go over derivatives, verb tense, infinitives, cases and other bits of grammar. Answers are provided in the back of the book. The front of the workbook has a pronunciation guide and list of Roman Numerals. The teacher note explains the importance of endings in the Latin language.

The workbook also had a “Digging for Treasure” section for each story. These were marked by a shovel and contained clues for decoding a Bible verse. At the end of each story my daughter was able to learn a verse in Latin and translate it into English herself.

Olim%20Reader%20II%20_zpshwndtjygOur reader contained three stories written first in English and then in Latin. Nearly every page had vocabulary words, grammar key and translations in the margins. The stories also had several lovely illustrations that worked as visual aids much like other early readers. The front of the book contained a helpful “how to use this curriculum” page, pronunciation guide and list of Roman Numerals.

Our reader contained two stories from the bible and a fable. My oldest son is the most interested in learning Latin and he 20160705_152753 (480x640)expressed interest in obtaining the rest of the readers to use alongside his Latin course (Visual Latin). As a seventh grader the workbooks are too easy for him but the readers would be useful for extra translation practice. My daughter worked through several of the lessons and reader on her own. She liked that the works was not hard and she enjoyed the ability to read and translate a story in Latin. I liked that the lessons were short enough to fit our Charlotte Mason approach to education

Other than helping her to pronounce a few words the curriculum

reader

reader

was mostly hands off for me. The reader always directed her to the proper pages to be done in the workbook after reading a section. She always managed to get her lessons done in fifteen to twenty minutes each day.

I thought this was a great curriculum for an early introduction to Latin.

The folks at Laurelwood Books have generously provided a discount code for my readers.  For a 20% discount just use the code blogger 121. The code is good until August 15 2016.

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Medieval Study: The End of an Age

Intermediate Medieval books and guide from Beautiful Feet Books

Intermediate Medieval books and guide from Beautiful Feet Books

Sadly, all things must end and so has our current study of medieval times. We spent the last five weeks reading The World of Columbus and Sons from Genevieve Foster; the final required book in the study. The guide is set up to go through this book in four weeks but due to some unforeseen events going on at home we needed an extra week to get through the text and all of the rich discussions.

Box Day!! Always a happy day in a book loving homeschool!

Box Day!! Always a happy day in a book loving homeschool!

Oldest started this session marking locations from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Africa on his map. As we read about the explorations of the Portuguese he marked their routes. We also read some extra books on exploration about Prince Henry the Navigator (A Sea Route to Asia: The Adventures of the Portuguese Exploration by David Rutsala), Magellan, De Balboa and Cortez. We read about Timbuktu and the beginnings of the slave trade.

globe project for medieval history

globe project for medieval history

We read about the fall of Constantinople and the ironic (considering today’s news stories) welcoming of the Jewish population into the Ottoman Empire following their expulsion from Spain. We watched a documentary called The Story of the Jews which covers the various diasporas of the Jewish people throughout the centuries. We were both saddened and encouraged by the documentary. My daughter was particularly moved and wondered aloud when people would “get over hating each other before even meeting?”

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All of our books for the study…that we could find.

My son enjoyed learning all about Columbus, Martin Luther (Martin Luther by Mary McNeer and Lynd Ward), William Tyndale (The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day by Scott O’Dell), the Vatican’s Swiss Guard, Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci (both by Diane Stanley). He did not enjoy anything about the royal troubles of Spain, France, England, the Holy Roman Empire or the Medici family. Of all the

with books and a few projects

with books and a few projects

books we read that mentioned the plague the death of Captain Jack in The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day had the most emotional impact on us. He was certainly a rogue but we liked him anyway. The lack of respect shown toward his corpse was unsettling. We ended up discussing the impact of so much death on a society…kinda hard to wrap one’s mind around really.

Ember Day Feast ingredients

Ember Day Feast ingredients

Our final discussion for the study was to compare the ideas of Machiavelli and Erasmus. We’ll likely dive into this a little deeper during his high school years. He liked Erasmus’ idealized views of governing and thought that Machiavelli was just plain crazy.

the feast

the feast

We followed up our study with a medieval Ember Day feast. We had come across the term a few times in our readings and looked up the meaning. These are days of fasting (no meat) and prayer that occur at the beginning of each season. Originally the Catholic Church instituted the celebration of these days in Rome to coincide with pagan agricultural celebrations. Beginning in the fifth century the practice spread throughout the West. The days are still celebrated in some rural areas of Europe.

20160524_124132 (640x472)Our feast included an Ember Day Tart, Hungarian Cheese Soup, Brown Rye Bread, Pottage, Apple Cider, Almond Milk and grapes. Pottage is vegetable soup with oats (I used instant oats) and I thought the kids would be reluctant to eat it. To keep them from being too picky I ran it through the food processor so it was more like a bisque than a stew. I am happy to live in times that include a crock pot and a food processor! (I will admit to wishing for those replicators on Star Trek: The Next Generation!!!) The food was good and we enjoyed our feast. Our favorite recipe was dipping the rye bread into the cheese soup. Yum!

20160524_124126 (640x480)We loved this study. All of the books were excellent and Oldest had a hard time choosing his favorite book from the study. He found it impossible to choose just one of the books. From the required books he chose Crispin: The Cross of Lead and The Trumpeter of Krakow. His favorite book from the recommended reading list was A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg.

20160524_124144 (640x480)I could not pick a favorite book; my emotional attachment to them is directly related to warm memories of snuggling with my children while reading aloud. We wept bitterly together over Robin Hood’s death, we loved the audacity of Eleanor of Aquitaine, we were angry at Crispin’s inhuman treatment…I could go on. The read aloud experience this curriculum provides is so precious. I cannot possibly imagine continuing in the home education lifestyle without Beautiful Feet Books.

up next

up next

So what’s next? Well, we still have a longbow to make. Every single weekend that my husband has been available to help us with this project the sky has rained. We have all of the components and sometime in the near future I’ll share our experience at the making of a long bow. Our next academic year begins in July. I’ve already started the planning process. Oldest will study the Early American and World History Jr. High pack. My middle two will work through the Early American History Intermediate study and Littlest will begin the Primary Early American study sometime in the fall or early winter. We are all looking forward to our history studies and this mama can’t wait to introduce Littlest to Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin.

Posts related to this series:

Introduction

Augustine to Arabian Nights

Eleanor to Robin Hood

Weeks 12-18  Wow! I got sooo creative with that title!

Minstrels, the Black Death and Chaucer

Joan of Arc to the Philosopher’s Stone

Medieval Fig Tarts

Thank you to the very wonderful and generous people of Beautiful Feet Books who have blessed my family!

TOS Review: Memoria Press’ D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set

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My daughter loves to read mythology. I knew she would be delighted to try out D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set from Memoria Press. I was delighted to see that Memoria Press provides a study guide to accompany D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek DAulaires-Greek-Myths_zps41kctrttMyths. Personally, I believe that all children should have unlimited access to any book written by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. I wish I had been exposed to these books during my childhood. I love the D’Aulaire books for several reasons: they are well written, beautifully illustrated and designed for children. In plainer language, the explicit details of the…affairs…of the gods and goddesses are glossed over a bit. Anyway, you can read through this book with your kids and not have to worry about explaining “the birds and the bees” to your 20160517_184217 (480x640)nine-year old. My daughter loved the book so much she carried it around everywhere and has read it about three times in the past seven weeks or so.

The D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set is part of the third grade curriculum for classical studies from Memoria Press. The workbook is designed to be used with grades three through six. The student workbook and teacher guide divides the book into twenty-five lessons. Drawing pages and review lessons are scattered within as well as a final exam. Each lesson begins with the pages to read from the text, facts to know  and vocabulary questions. These were followed by comprehension 20160516_101937 (480x640)questions and activities. The activities mostly involved going back through he text and to identify items and individuals and filling out a list of facts to know in the back of the student workbook. Other questions were for comparing and contrasting Biblical stories and Greek myths, drawing activities (my daughter’s favorite!), memorization exercises, and deeper discussion questions. Some of these questions are ideal for composition assignments. Reference maps, pronunciation guide, drill questions and lists are in the back of the back of the student workbook.

20160517_183952 (480x640)The teacher’s guide is a replica of the student workbook with the answers filled in. The guide also has reproducible exams along with the answer keys. The front of the guide contains very informative instructions on how to use the guide and integrate the workbook into memory work, copywork, vocabulary, spelling and handwriting practice. The guide also includes an informative essay on why we should study Greek myths today.

20160517_184443 (480x640)The set also comes with flash cards. The cards are numbered to the corresponding lesson in the student workbook. The cards contain the information that Memoria Press feels the student needs to remember from the course and relates to the list of 100 questions in the back of the book. They are an excellent review tool. The teacher’s guide does not mention the flash cards or how to use them. So, when I went to the homeschool convention last month I had the opportunity to discuss the use of the flash cards with an associate at their booth. 20160516_101951 (480x640)The people at Memoria Press have always been very friendly anytime I’ve had a question about their curriculum either in person or through email.

My daughter enjoyed working through the workbook and loved the D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. I told her she didn’t have to finish the workbook since I would be posting this review but she has enjoyed the study so much (and the one on one time with me) that she wants to finish the course. That is the best recommendation I can offer!

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TOS Review: ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Sculpture Technique Model

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Experience, education and appreciation in the arts is important to us as a family. We are long time appreciative customers of ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and absolutely enjoyed the offer to use their Sculpture Technique Model in our home.

“Pyramids, cathedrals, and rockets exist not because of geometry, theories of structures, or thermodynamics, but because they were first a picture– literally a vision–in the minds of those who built them. Society is where it is today because people had the perception; the images and the imagination; the creativity that the Arts provide, to make the world the place we live in today.”

Eugene Ferguson, Historian

Sculpture%20Technique%20Model_zpsa5t3bgktThe Model book is intended to follow the Sculpture Technique Construct book and both books are intended to be used by upper elementary through high school students. We had no trouble using or understanding the instructions in this book even though we had not used the previous Construct text.

The text is divided into three units on mass, scale and surface. Each unit ends with an evaluation that the student can do on their own or as a test for those who need such information for portfolios or outside evaluations. The author (Brenda Ellis) also includes her own classroom schedule that covers the course over

text and our felt sheet

text and our felt sheet

thirty-six weeks for an hour and a half once a week. We chose to work through unit three using wool roving and learning felting techniques. Each unit can be worked through in any order and the felting unit fit in nicely with our Medieval history studies.

Obtaining the art supplies locally turned out to be a bit tricky. Fortunately, the company pre-picked everything you would need for each unit through Blick Art Materials. Just go to ARTistic Pursuits Inc. website and click on “art supply packs”. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the instructions on ordering the materials you need. I ordered the recommended items for the unit. I was very happy with the supplies and we had

making felt flower

making felt flower

enough to do all of the projects with three kids. We also have plenty of wool roving remaining for future projects. We did not like the special felting mat and found using a regular kitchen sponge easier. The sponge also did not pull and frizz the wool as much as the felting mat. So save yourself a few buck and just pick up some sponges at the dollar store.

Unit three opened with a discussion on texture and color theory. We also studied and discussed a picture of a lovely sculpture at the beginning of the unit. We then dived into our first project

felt flowers and bird

felt flowers and birds

which was creating felt sheets. The directions in the book were easy to follow with very clear instructions. With this project I discovered that my palms turn red and itch horribly after handling wool. I wore disposable gloves for the rest of the projects. However, none of the kids had any issues. We used the felt sheets to create flowers and feathers.

The next project was to make and decorate stockings with the wool. We chose to make Robin hood style hats instead for our upcoming Medieval feast. We sewed together some very simple

sewing wool hat

sewing wool hat

wool hats and then used the various techniques in the next chapter to create rosettes, feathers and flowers for our hats. The text also taught us how to make a felted vase, birds and animals. We did not made a vase but we did use the technique to create a nest for one of the little birds.

piggy

piggy

We had a lot of fun making our felt creations. We use the flowers and little birds as a centerpiece for our poetry teatime table scapes every week. I couldn’t let the kids have all the fun and spent a bit of time myself making a little pig from Angry Bird’s for my youngest to play with.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. is one of our favorite curriculums.

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TOSReview Crew: Apologia Educational Ministries’ Writers in Residence

apologia-logo_jpg_zpswpuj9gxgWhen I first decided to educate my children at home, Debra Bell was the first “homeschooling expert” I heard speak during an online conference. She is very humorous and encouraging in her 20160419_185558 (480x640)talks. Naturally, I was excited to have the opportunity to use her new writing curriculum Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries in my home. Since she successfully home educated her own children, taught high school and university level English, I knew her grammar and writing integrated curriculum would be worth trying out.

Writers in Residence Volume 1 is the first of four in the series and is for grades four through eight. The colorful text is written to the student and is also a workbook. My son was able to use it for all of his rough drafts and for his final writing piece within the first two modules. During our review period we were able to complete the first half of Unit 1. The text is composed of six units  and each unit contains four modules. The workbook, as well as the Answer Key, contained easy to use grading rubrics for his first written assignment (and throughout the curriculum) that was clear and easy for me to use to evaluate his written work.

20160419_185542 (480x640)The first writing assignment was based on the little book “When I Was Young in the Mountains” by Cynthia Rylant. He had several mini assignments to help him free-write his topic and then narrow down to the specific memories he wanted to write about. My favorite revision method of writing the individual sentences on separate strips of paper and then rearranging them into different orders was one of the assignments. The text also guided him in revising his work using specific and descriptive words. My son’s final draft of his memory sentences:

When I Was Young by the Creek

IMG_0968 (521x640)When I was young by the creek, I explored with my family.

When I was young by the creek, I heard and felt the cold, rushing water.

When I was young by the creek, hundreds of kayakers paddled past us in the turbulent water.

When I was young by the creek, we saw water gushing down rock cliffs into little flowing pools.

When I was young by the creek, I climbed upon huge stick piles.

When I was young by the creek, I wrote these verses.

Apologia%20Writers%20in%20Residence_zpsk9klb2vbThis was the only final writing assignment we were able to complete before this review was due. I flipped through the book and saw the next assignment was to learn to write a memorable letter about his future based on the letters exchanged between the characters in “Sarah, Plain and Tall” by Patricia MacLauchlan. I love that these writing assignments use excellent literature to teach writing techniques.

Writers in Residence is a Christian curriculum and includes interviews with Christian authors who use the writing technique or process described for each assignment. The six writing tasks for volume one include: sentences, creative writing, research writing, opinion essay, autobiography and a short story. Each of these writing tasks is a separate unit and also includes instruction and review of grammar related to the assignment type. The answers for the grammar pages are in the Answer Key.

20160419_185651 (640x480)As a homeschool mom of four kids this integrated writing and grammar curriculum really appeals to me. Everyone could use this text at the same time while writing and learning at their individual levels. I would not have separate grade level grammar workbooks to mark for each child nor separate writing curriculums to evaluate. This curriculum saves my time and allows us to work and share together. At the end of the school year I would also have six lovely pieces of written work from each child for their portfolios. I think this curriculum is ideal for introducing writing in a positive manner to children and for families who love to learn together.

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Medieval Study: Joan of Arc to the Philosopher’s Stone

the catapult

the catapult

After our delightful study of the Canterbury Tales with Beautiful Feet Books we started studying Joan of Arc and The One Hundred Years’ War between France and England. The story of St. Joan is so very sad. My children were not familiar with her at all and so had no idea of the amazing and heartbreaking story they were about to embark. As we read her story the kids bombarded me with questions…hard questions too! I had to explain the veneration of relics, asking saints for prayers and the nature of visions. As we continued to read her story the kids struggled to understand why she was abandoned by her king, condemned by the church and burned alive.

cats and catapults...

cats and catapults…

Of course, the kids really wanted to know if I believed the Maid of Orleans. Did she really have visions? Did God send her to save France from the English? I cannot have an answer for every question and someday they will make up their own minds on such mysteries. I choose to simply accept Joan of Arc at her word.

“Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years.”  –Winston Churchill

“She is the Wonder of the Ages. And when we consider her origin, her early circumstances, her sex, and that she did all the things upon which her renown rests while she was still a young girl, we recognize that while our race continues she will be also the Riddle of the Ages.” –Mark Twain 

required books from the study

required books from the study

While we studied about Joan we built a catapult and looked through a picture book (from the library and I forgot to note the title or take a picture of it!) of medieval warfare tactics and siege engines. The boys built some Lego models (I didn’t take pictures again) and we watched several documentaries on YouTube and Netflix about castles and medieval warfare. Currently Netflix has a series called “Secrets of Great British Castles” that the family enjoys watching together.

We moved on to the study of the printing press, movable type and Johannes Gutenberg. We enjoyed both the book for this section and the recommended Stephen Fry documentary from the guide. We spent time discussing the importance of this moment in history. This invention laid the corner-stone of the Reformation, Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the spread of learning to nearly all people. For this part of the study I bought a paper making kit. We plan to make paper later this week and try our hands at making a homemade book.

20160410_131541 (640x480)Our last read aloud for these past six weeks was The Trumpeter of Krakow. Oh wow did we love this book!!! It follows the story of a family in the Ukraine that has to travel to Krakow as refugees (a topic still relevant on the news today) and they just happen to be in possession of the philosopher’s stone. Of course the kids were shocked to discover that JK Rowling didn’t come up with the idea all her own!!! We discussed alchemy and the theory that the whomever possessed the stone could turn other metals into gold. While we were reading about the alchemists in the story I pulled out The Mystery of the Periodic Table (by Benjamin D Wiker) and read the couple of chapters on alchemy to my crew.

We are currently working through a felting project to go along with our studies of the Mongols. Making your very own felt sheets from wool roving is a bit messy! We finally have a nice sunny weekend coming up so that we can work on our paper making and felting projects outside.

We only have four weeks left and our medieval study will be all finished! We’re in the process of making our Robin Hood hats, choosing recipes and other projects for our final feast. We are looking forward to sharing the end of our study celebration with you soon!

 

Review: Memoria Press Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set

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My middle two kiddos are bored with their current reading curriculum. They’ve been begging me to let them abandon their readers and use “real books” instead since the holiday break. They were both thrilled when Memoria Press sent us the entire Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set to review! I was just as delighted as the kids since Memoria Press was on my list of curriculum companies to look into for our next academic year’s literature selections. Sparkles chose to read “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden and Middle Boy chose “Homer Price” by Robert McCloskey. The other two selection are “The Blue Fairy Book” edited by Andrew Lang and “Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress” arranged by Oliver Hunkin.

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The literature for fourth grade only includes four books and that didn’t seem like much at first glance. After studying a sample of 20160229_132729 (480x640) (480x640)the online lesson plan (found on the fourth grade complete curriculum page) I noticed that each book should take about six weeks or so. The goal is for the students to really immerse themselves in the books and comprehend the material.

The Teacher’s Guides:

The guide included tips on how to help students read through the books. They encourage reading the book aloud together, taking turns reading aloud or reading independently. Reviewing the comprehension questions before reading is encouraged to help develop focused reading. We also reviewed the vocabulary words 20160222_080152 (480x640)each day and looked for them in the book. I was happy to see the teacher’s guide point out that some of the comprehension questions could just be answered orally, especially for younger students. Further and deeper discussion of the material is pointed out in the “Quotations and Discussion Questions” section and the back of the teacher’s guide has an answer key for these. The guide also has answers printed on full-sized reproductions of the student workbooks pages, as well as reproducible quizzes and tests.

20160328_192103 (480x640)The Student Study Guides:

The student workbooks are all similar in style and format. Each of these books are broken up differently for study by chapters (Dangerous Journey and Cricket), sections by page numbers (Homer Price) or short story title (Blue Fairy). Some have more drawing exercises than others. Even though they are similar they are not exactly the same.

  • Reading Notes–This section may define a few words, point out literary notes or give more information about a character.
  • Characters–this section was only in “The Dangerous Journey”. The teacher’s guide contained no guidelines for this particular book. My guess is this information is provided in the lessons plans from Memoria Press. However, the workbook answers are provided as well as to the discussion questions.
  • Vocabulary–Sometimes the students look up a brief definition or fill in the blank. The vocabulary words show up in the reviews, quizzes and exam so it is helpful to reviews these.
  • Comprehension Questions–These go over the events of the story. The guide encourages you to help the students write their answers in complete sentences. Sometimes we just went over these orally.
  • Quotations–Not all of the books had this section. Usually the student needed to identify the speaker and we usually discussed why the quote was important to the story. Sometimes I used these for copywork.
  • Discussion Questions–The answer key in the back of the teacher’s guide was very helpful. We generally discussed characters, motives, literary elements, plot development, etc.
  • Enrichment–This section provided a variety of assignments. Sometimes copywork, literary device discussion, drawing, character study, mapwork, etc. My kids liked these since they provided variety to the workbook.
  • Occasionally reviews were included as well as supplemental material at the end of the student guide relating to the book to  aid the student’s understanding or historical/cultural context.

20160328_192428 (480x640)Overall, the kids enjoyed this literature program from Memoria Press and have begged to ditch the old reading program and replace it with these guides. The Student Study Guides are quite thorough and I am very happy to continue using Memoria Press’s literature guides in my homeschool.

 

Review Addendum:

I just returned from the GHC Convention in Cincinnati. While I was there I stopped by the Memoria Press booth to ask a few questions about “The Dangerous Journey” study guide. In my review above I did not understand the Characters section of the guide. I learned the characters are listed because there are many of them in the story and it is important to understand the meaning of the person’s name. For example, knowing the 20160403_170814 (480x640)meaning of the word pliable aids in comprehending the role of the character with the same name the protagonist encounters. Had I been familiar with the original Pilgrim’s Progress I probably would have figured that out…alas, my education is sorely lacking. Also, the omission of the teacher tips at the beginning of the Teacher’s Guide was simply an omission and will be included in future printings.

I was so impressed by our discussion of the book that I decided to do the study with all of my children and bought additional student study guides and the book. I am looking forward to learning all about Christian’s journey.

 

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