Friday, May 30, 2014

Apologia Educational Ministries





There aren't any Apologia Educational Ministries curriculum products that I haven't loved.  So when offered the opportunity to review one of four volumes in the What I Believe series, I was more than happy to do so.  The series is a Biblical worldview curriculum dedicated to teaching children the essentials of the Christian faith.  I received four physical products belonging to Volume 4: What on Earth Can I do? I received a text book, a notebooking journal, coloring book, and junior notebooking journal.  The ideal grade range for the curriculum is 1 - 6.  I used the curriculum with my 7th grade daughter.

 What on Earth Can I Do? Available 2013


You can purchase each volume separately or as a 4 volume set for $120.
The Volume 4 set I received retails $39 for the text; $24 each for the notebooking journals; and $8 for the coloring book. 

Other titles in the What I Believe series include:
Volume 1 – Who is God? (And How Can I Really Know Him?)
Volume 2 – Whom am I? (And What Am I Doing Here?)
Volume 3 – Who Is My Neighbor? (And Why Does He Need Me?)

What I appreciate about Apologia products are the well laid out lesson plans found in the beginning of their texts.  In the case of What on Earth Can I Do?, the calendar like grid can be found at the beginning of the notebooking journal.  My daughter checked off lessons as she completed them making it easy for me to keep track of where she was in the curriculum.  There are 8 lessons total and families can plan to complete the curriculum anywhere between four and eight months. There is a sample lesson plan at the Apologia website which is helpful in understanding the flow of the curriculum.  Easy to read lessons give way to a wealth of information.  Apologia uses an integrated learning approach focusing each biblical lesson across the academic disciplines of art, math, science, and history.  This was a pleasant surprise and one of my favorite aspects of the curriculum.  My daughter is receiving biblical instruction but learning a great deal about history as well. 

Many homeschoolers enjoy making their own notebooking journals to chronicle what they’ve learned and to have as a keepsake.  I believe in not reinventing the wheel and enjoy the journals Apologia puts together to use with their curriculum.  The notebooking journal is full of puzzles, activities, mini-books, writing and art prompts.  My daughter loves crosswords and word searches.  This by far was her favorite part of the journal.  She said she learned a great deal about history and likes how the history and bible go hand in hand.  I must agree.  I also enjoyed the critical thinking questions in each lesson often found in the “Think About It” and “Going Deeper” sections of the journal.  As if this isn't enough, there is vocabulary for each lesson which I asked my student to include in the writing required for the lesson to reinforce learning.  Finally, two scripture verses are introduced in each lesson.  One focuses on the theme of the lesson and the other a biblical trait for the student to ponder.  Coloring books are great no matter how old you are.  However, my kid is not keen on coloring so this was not a popular part of the curriculum for her.   
 
We have been studying Ancient history this year but she is now learning modern history using this product and how her biblical faith applies in this context. I enjoyed the "Make a Note of It" activity in Lesson 1 where I had to gather pictures of my daughter at different stages in her life to illustrate her tapestry.  This tapestry is a woven work of art and God is the master weaver orchestrating every detail of her life.  Because of this fact, she can trust him and know that her future is in his hands (Psalm 31:14-15).  This lesson touched me and encouraged me as a mom of three girls reminding me of who is in control. 

As usual, Apologia does not disappoint.  Now I'm curious to know how the other three volumes compare to this volume.  The What Do I Believe series is a must for all Christian homeschools.

Connect with Apologia:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Google+ - https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Heroes and Heroines of the Past American History

I received Digital Heroines & Heroes of the Past; American History by Amy Puetz and Golden Prairie Press to review.  I received two ebooks, part 1 and part 2 covering the time period 1000 to 1837; and time period 1837 to the present.  I also received the Historical Skits book to review.  The entire curriculum includes the two ebooks I received, the Historical Skits ebook, Sing Some History CD and Listen to Some History mp3 CD for $98.99.  An additional materials CD is available that includes timelines, color pages, and other activities.  In specific units there is a literature component where one of five literature books can be read by older students or used as a read aloud for younger students.

The chapters include small snippets of information which for an older student is good for an introduction to the material.  Since we will do a more in depth study in high school, I felt the information was sufficient.  Part 2 starts with Section 16 and ends with Section 30.  Each section contains about 5 lessons.  Each lesson has about a one page synopsis of the topic for 1-2nd grade, then three to four page summary for 3-6th grade.  Following the lesson are a few reading comprehension questions and my favorite section the ‘Writing Topic’ section.  There is also an ‘Examining Historical Art’ section where your student answers a few questions about the art picture shown.  There is a scripture memory verse at the beginning of the section to ponder and recite before starting the next section.  There is a beautiful curriculum outline here, all fixed up in a grid just like I like it.  There is no guess work.  You get a snapshot of the entire year; the topic for each lesson, activities scheduled (craft, cooking, writing assignment, game, etc.); any literature assigned, and the color page assigned. 

Golden Prairie Press Review
My girls took their end of year testing and realized there were a lot of American history questions they could not answer.  When you do history chronologically that will inevitably happen.  My younger girls did ancient history this year and geography last year.  We don’t begin American history until high school so I gravitated to ebook 2 which included more modern history.  I don’t typically like to do more than one time period in a given school year but what could it hurt to do a unit study on American history?  I started with Section 24 to begin a study of World War I.  I had planned to start with World War II but after listening to my youngest daughter tell me all she knew about World War II, I decided to start with World War I. 

I printed each section for my daughter to read choosing which extra activities I wanted her to do.  I favor writing assignments and she always enjoys the baking assignments.  Where lessons included sheet music for the piano we always tried those.  My daughter has three years piano experience.  The writing prompts gives me great insight into her comprehension of the material introduced.  Another favorite part of this curriculum for me is video suggestions.  We like viewing videos as it relates to what we are learning in our homeschool. 

Overall, I like this curriculum the way we are using it, as an introduction to American History.  I don’t think it is strong enough for older students as a stand alone curriculum but is good for younger students. 

 


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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Approaching the End of this journey?

To say I've been busy is a gross understatement.  I had a draft post in the cube that I was supposed to post last week but that never happened.  So here I am at the end of the month just getting around to posting educational content.

Well we are preparing to leave temporary quarters for my permanent residence.  With this move, my kids will be transitioning back to public school in a new district within the state.  Gasp!  There is a time and a season for everything under the sun.  I am so very grateful for the 4 years I've had with my girls.  It has been so essential for their academic, spiritual, and personal well being.  I started this journey with Princess and I'm ending this journey with Princess.  As a rising senior, she will remain dual enrolled at a local community college and will graduate as a homeschool student.  This journey was mainly about her to begin with.  My other girls came along for the ride.

Pumpkin does not want to go back to school but I know it is right for her at this time. To be held accountable by outside teachers is a good thing at this age.  Some subjects have to be taught by others.  If she wasn't going back, I would've found a co-op for Math and Science for her anyway.  The school district we left had a fine set up allowing students to take 2 courses at the high school but there doesn't seem to be any other district in the state with those privileges.  Furthermore, for these two younger students there is more they stand to gain by transitioning back to traditional school.

NuNu is most excited.  She begged to come home as a rising 4th grader.  Now she is begging to go back. She is socially starved.  I realized with this student, it is best to get her acclimated to outside situations now while her dad & I still have an opportunity to teach and mold her before she leaves home at 18.

For what is going on in our lives at this juncture, this is the right path.  I know God is able to keep all that I commit to his care.  He is more than able to keep us and our children.  I trust him to do just that.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to continue to blog.  Perhaps I will do so until Princess graduates.
Here's to another new beginning.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The First Interview



With the oldest child there are so many firsts.  Princess says she is the guinea pig of the family as she is the first born.  Well Sunday was another milestone first – job interview!

Last Thursday we were sitting at the dining table discussing summer plans.  She asked me if she would ever have time to get a job.  My reply “you want a job?”  She said “sure.”  After I thought about it, now seemed to be as good a time as any to get a part time job.  Her work load is a bit light at the moment.  Believe it or not, her community college class has not been all that demanding.  That’s a conversation for another time.  Anyway….her summer schedule of activities begins 6/29 so if she works now until then I figure it would be good experience for her before the rigor of senior year begins. 

So we checked out snagajob.com to see who was hiring in the area.  She filled out an application for Chick-Fil-A then we headed out to talk with individuals in the local area.  We stopped inside Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, Target, Coldstone Creamery, Wendy’s, and Dairy Queen.  To our surprise Chipotle had a group interview going on in the corner of the restaurant when we arrived.  The manager informed us that another would be conducted on Sunday at 10 am and Monday at 3 pm.  We opted to return on Sunday.

I really wanted her dad to take her through a mock interview but he didn’t arrive home from work until late Saturday night.  So she took the advice I had to offer and I dropped her off at Chipotle Sunday morning after church (early morning service).  Three people were a part of the interview process.  My daughter said the manager asked all the interview questions I prepped her for.

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about a situation where you  fill in the blank
  • Why do you want to work for Chipotle?


She had ready answers and felt very confident about her interview.  Because the other young ladies drove themselves to the interview they left before my daughter when the interview was over.   Princess had extra time to talk with the manager and even get a free burrito before grandma arrived to pick her up.  Now we wait for the phone call.  The only downside of the interview was my daughter’s availability.  She can only work from about 5-10 pm.  So we will see if she made a big enough impression to be hired. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Learning should not stop in the summer



Summer time is the time for enrichment activities and fun.  I stumbled across two wonderful opportunities for this summer:

AgDiscovery – sponsored by the USDA, this program is for kids ages 14-17 to introduce them to various topics in Agriculture.  Kids learn about careers in plant, animal, and veterinary science.  The kids work in labs and take field trip to conservation areas and USDA facilities.  You can find out more about the program which is hosted at various college campuses here.  

STEAM Academy – is designed  to challenge students who have ability and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  It is a residential program for students  ages 12-16 and is held on two separate college campuses in Virginia.  There has been such a push for STEM education that I’m sure there are similar programs in other states.
I let my oldest daughter participate in a residential  program for the first time the summer before her 15th birthday.  Thirteen seems a bit young for a residential program but I have confidence in this program because of where it is located.  I know the staffers at these sorts of programs usually take extraordinary care of underage students so I may just have to pray and have faith that she will be fine. 

These programs are so valuable to homeschoolers who may not have the resources and opportunities to participate otherwise.  The icing on the cake is that these program are FREE!  

The fun of the summer will be wrapped up in the kids going to camp.  Check out this camp they attended last year.  They described it as one of the best summers of their young lives.  It's not free but they do offer scholarships.  

Can you tell I'm looking forward to Spring?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Books and learning......

I remember when I was about to graduate college, I dreaded the fact that I would have to work 9-5 everyday year after year at the same job.  How would I ever be able to do that?  My personality thrives on change of routine.  Every semester brought new classes, professors, and classmates.  I loved school and there was nothing mundane about it for me at all.

Similarly, I approach my homeschool the same way.  I always look at new materials, plan for each school year and semester, and just enjoy the pursuit of learning at every turn.  If things started to feel mundane I would plan a field trip or do something fun. 

I think I missed my calling in education.  I was a business major.  Every person in my family has business type jobs with the exception of one aunt who is a pharmacist.  But my point is I love learning.   I used to say that if I could find someone to pay me to stay in school I would.   As life would have it, in a sense I have been in "school" for a long time as a homeschooler.  Even with substituting in schools I love the routine of kids learning and reading.

So when I had to put some of my curriculum up for sale this weekend I felt kind of sad.  I just like to look at the books on the bookshelf.  But I need to sell them so that I can purchase some other things that I need.  Bye books that have sat on my shelf for a long time.........

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mango Languages

 


So foreign language is becoming the Achilles Heel of my home school; kind of like math was a few years ago.  It's one of those areas where you try different approaches hoping something will stick.
I had an opportunity to review Mango Homeschool Edition by Mango Languages.  Another foreign language program?  Yes.  I'm ready to try something new again.  I received an online subscription to not only Spanish language, my family's foreign language of choice, but many other language options.  You name it Mango has access to it - Arabic, Slovak, Danish...on and on the list goes.  Over 60 languages to choose from.  There are no limits to the number of languages one wants to learn.  You just simply subscribe to that particular learning community within the program.

 http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/2014TOSCREW/Mango%20Languages/Mango-Homeschool-Language-Directory_zpsbf782edc.png

Before I could get started on my new language journey, I had to view a 2 minute video to activate my account.  There a few other videos to look at to maximize your use of the program.  However, after activating my account I jumped right into the Spanish (Latin America) community.

My language program was divided into 4 different journeys.  Journey 1 covers such topics as:
  • Greetings
  • Names & Introductions
  • Shopping
  • Dining
  • Numbers & Currency
  • Asking for Help & Clarification

Within the journey, the material is further broken down into chapters with a review at the end of each chapter.  There is an extensive course guide for each journey which reviews all of the vocabulary, grammar, cultural notes, and common phrases. 

You move through the chapters like flipping through a power point slide. Learning words and phrases that build upon one another.  You learn full phrases and expressions by the end of the chapter.

Each community has several features you can take advantage of to enhance your learning experience.  There is a chat feature so that you can learn from or ask questions of others in the same community.  

We all gathered around the laptop and went through whole chapters within a journey together.  We all did exactly as the native speaker instructed us to do through each slide.  "How do you say this?, using your critical thinking skills say this"....so on and so forth.
I would add extra time on the clock if we couldn't figure out how to say something within the time allotted.  There is a lot of repetition so we even skipped through slides if we confidently had the new phrases learned.  We started Mango Homeschool edition having a lot of Spanish language experience so much of the beginning chapters were review for us. The girls also brought their Spanish notebooks to the table so that they could jot down new vocabulary to add to the growing list we've accumulated using other Spanish language programs.

Here is what we loved about using the program:
  • vibrant colors get you excited about learning
  • words within phrases are color coded so you can distinguish between Spanish words you are just beginning to learn 
  • Native speakers introduce each word/phrase ensuring proper pronunciation
  • Grammar notes during the presentation 
  • Literal translation versus meaning while learning phrases
After learning a series of lessons I wanted to keep going but my girls could only take so much new material at a time.   Another thing I love about the program is the constant review of information introduced in prior lessons.

Mango Homeschool is still in the beginning stages of development.  There are a lot of features coming done the pike that I wasn't able to use and review.  Having quizzes & tests that can be tracked for progress is in the works. They are also working on suggestions for high school credit.  I will be happy to see this added.  These features are of great help and concern to home schoolers.    

Mango Languages caters to other people groups not just home schoolers.  One feature not currently available for Mango Homeschool is Mango Premiere.  Mango Premiere is an immersion type of learning.   It uses foreign film to teach language.  They only have 2 or 3 films at this time that they would recommend for people under the age of 18.  I mention this feature because my girls love to look at Spanish language programming as another way to pick up parts of the language.  So although it isn't currently available for the home school community,  I would love to see this feature available in the future. 

This is their introductory pricing:
1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total 
2 subscriptions is $28/month or $175 /year total                     
3 subscriptions is $38/month or $225/year total                   
4 subscriptions is $48/month or $275/year total               
5 subscriptions is $58/month or $325/year total

Subscriptions are for each individual learning a language.  It is recommended for ages 6 to adult. Mango Homeschool is planning to offer family packs, which will offer some savings. They have either month-to-month payments or annual payments.

Find Mango Languages on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook - See more at: http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/mango-languages-review/#sthash.WSkjMuXm.dpuf
 You can find Mango Languages on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Find Mango Languages on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook - See more at: http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/mango-languages-review/#sthash.WSkjMuXm.dpuf

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