"What a beautiful book!" I said aloud as I pulled Alaska By The Way by Joy Budensiek from By The Way out of the brown package. Usually I put a new book in the review pile, but it was so pretty and it was a travel book, so I had to sit down and look through this lovely book from the By The Way Book Series. After looking at all the beautiful photographs and illustrations, I read the whole book in one sitting. I loved it!
Deciding it was too old to read to my three-year-old grandson, I put it aside. However, he found it and after flipping through the pages, asked me to read it to him. He stayed attentive and interested through the whole book. Several people read it (adults, older children, younger children) and every one agreed it was an awesome book.
Why was Alaska By The Way so amazing?
We get to join a family on their trip to Alaska. We join them on the ferry, visit coastal villages, and explore the world inside the Arctic Circle. We learn about Alaska history, culture, geography, and wildlife. The family visits cities and villages while enjoying the lovely scenery along the way, as well as the wildlife.
Since I love to travel, I was fascinated by the book and the children's adventures in the untamed Arctic land of Alaska.
Barbour Publishing Kingdom Files series is a great way to teach children about people in the Bible. We were so excited to read Who is Jonah? and Who is Mary, Mother of Jesus? Both books are by Matt Koceich.
This is not your typical biography because it is a Kingdom File.
Each biography starts with a Fact File covering the basics of the person's life. In "Who Was Jonah?," we learned that Jonah was a prophet from Gath-Hepher, just north of Nazareth. He was active in ministry from 786 B.C. to 746 B.C. God called him to preach to his nation Israel's greatest enemies, the Assyrians whose capital was Nineveh. The Fact File also had a map and small timeline. We learned that Mary was from Nazareth, gave birth to Jesus, and prayed with believers to receive the Holy Spirit.
Both biographies were interesting and readable. I enjoyed reading them on my own. My grandson enjoyed them, too. Sketches and maps made it more fun. My grandson like the clue boxes the best. The clue boxes, scattered throughout the biography section contained were like little devotionals giving insight into what was happening and inspiring children to think deeply. I would say,, "Here's a clue!" and we would get excited!
At the end of the book, there were ten Power Ups. Each Power Up contained a short application lesson along with a memory verses. They were very practical and geared to children.
Though this book was geared for children, I found that I was inspired by both Kingdom File biographies. They made Jonah and Mary come alive for me in a new way. I am excited to add Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus to our homeschooling library.
What Makes These Books So Great?
My favorite curriculum: living books and classic literature.
I love books!
Our homeschooling is centered on timeless novels and works.
We love to snuggle up and read a good book like Swiss Family Robinson or A Christmas Carol aloud.
Everyone in our family is always in the middle of a good book. It might be an inspirational classic like Hinds Feet on High Places. Or a Golden Age cozy mystery by Agatha Christie or G.K. Chesterton. It might be a well-worn book that's been read over and over again like Ben Hur or Little Women.
We love books! However, we had wasted time reading some poorly written novels or books with unwholesome content. Over the years, I have weeded out the bad, discovered hidden gems in used book stores, and put together my own reading lists for my children to read whatever they want to read. I have lined my bookshelves with these living books and novels.
And I am always updating and adding to these lists.
Where to Find These Lists
"I'm interested in homeschooling my own children after talking to your son," a young man said to my friend Laura.
This son was a distractable student and Laura was excited to hear what he had to say to others about about homeschooling. She was excited to know that he was very grateful for the time Laura had invested in his education.
What about other grads? Were they thankful, too?
Most of the homeschooler grads I know want to homeschool their own kids one day. Or they do already.
I asked a few homeschoolers and homeschool grads to share why they are thankful that they are being homeschooled or were homeschooled in the past.
I told them to be brief.
Let there answers reassure you that it is worth the sacrifice to educate our children at home.
One thing I really appreciated about homeschooling was the flexibility in the school-day schedule. I wasn't forced to work exactly one hour on math, one hour on science, one hour on writing, etc. It freed me to finish quickly if I could or take more time to understand a difficult subject. The only thing my mom made us time was reading. She required us to read a book at least an hour a day. Homeschooling also allowed me to get a little more sleep than most public schoolers probably would and it allowed me to have a relaxing morning routine. (After all, I didn't have to wait for a bus to drive me to classes!) In high school, I was able to wake up at 6, have my quiet time, go for a run, and shower before starting my first subject. That helped me cultivate the habit of spending time with Jesus to start my day. In those precious times of intimate quiet with the Lord, I fell in love with Him. If you're homeschooled, don't waste this opportunity to make Jesus the center of your schedule. You won't regret it.
I love homeschooling. It's real life. It's a lifestyle of learning. It's families growing closer. It children growing up to be world changers. It's the opportunity to explore so many possibilities. It's a blast!
My husband and I are firmly committed to our local church. We have lived this way since we both gave our hearts to Christ as teenagers.
We love ministry! As our children grow up, they join us in ministry. They help in the nursery, teach Sunday school, mix sound, play on the worship team, sing on the worship team, mentor other believers, lead Bible studies, and serve in practical ways all before they turn 18.
Shouldn't they get some high school credit for that?
I believe that they should!
Teens lean so much with hands-on ministry. Our teens have learned about sound technology, singing, music, child development, counseling, mentoring, web design, making flyers, creating brochures, leading meetings, building, decorating, hosting conferences, speaking at conferences, and more!
Ministry has not just been an opportunity to serve others and the Lord, it has been an open door to knowledge and wisdom they will reap the benefits of for years to come.
So how do you turn ministry into high school credit?
I remember those days. Our little ones were two and four. We had close family friends with children approximately the same age.
What fun memories we have of going on adventures together with both families (a total of nine children).
We set ourselves up for success because we wanted field trips to be enjoyable for the whole family.
Here are some of the things we did.
We often went as families to more involved field trips like Sea World because then there were more hands to help with the little ones.
We brought big strollers with lots of storage room. Often the children would walk and the strollers were simply backpacks on wheels.
We made a flexible plan before we went. For example, if we were going to Sea World, we sat down with the map the day before and made a plan of where we would go and what we would do. Of course, plans shouldn't be set in cement. Often they changed, but having an itinerary took away the "where should we go next?" discussions that waste time and make toddlers and preschoolers cranky.
We made sure to do at least one or two things the little ones would love early in the day so they could enjoy those things when they were at their best.
We got an early start. Little children do best in the hours before lunch so we made the most of them. Packing the car the night before helped a lot. We would load up everything but the cooler, making sure the diaper bag was full of diapers, wipes (which double as napkins), and suntan lotion (hey! we live in Florida).
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco is a great resource for those interested in learning what Christian Unschooling is all about.
Julie's love for the Lord and her children shines through, which made me enjoy reading her book.
I love exploring all kinds of homeschooling methods like classical, unit studies, Charlotte Mason/living books, notebooking, and delight-directed studies. Until now, all that I have read about Unschooling has been secular materials by John Holt and others.
Julie talks about the Lord and His place in their homeschool. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew Julie and her family. What a likeable bunch!
Though I am not an unschooler, I saw one thing throughout the book that won my heart: Julie lives life WITH her kids. She doesn't send them off to do workbooks, but rather she is actively involved in her children's life and education. Honestly, that is something all parents could enjoy more of in today's busy world.
In God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn, Julie stresses the need to get rid of distractions that keep us from learning. More good advice for homeschoolers of every stripe.
Eagerly, I opened all of the pdfs from the Learning about Science Collection, Level I, an elementary science curriculum from WriteBonnieRose to figure out which one my grandson and I would start with. I couldn't decide. Everything looked so fun with adorable illustrations and loads of easy-to-understand information.
A little advanced for my young grandson because Learning About Science Collection, Level I is for first to third graders, we plunged ahead anyway. At first glance through everything, my favorite things was the enchanting illustrations.
"Okay, stop thinking about how cute everything is and decide what you should study with the kids," I thought. Each of the seven books are complete in themselves, totaling 172 pages. I looked again at the titles: Familiar Plants and How They Grow, Fruits and Vegetables Around the World, Animal Habitats of the World, Our Senses and Systems and How They Work, Learning about Life Cycles, Earth: Layers, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes, and Exploring States of Matter.
I wanted to do them all, but I finally decided to start with Fruits and Vegetables Around the World. We had so much fun learning about different fruits and vegetables, coloring the pictures, and tracing the words to practice handwriting! I learned new things about them fruit and vegetables like that China grows lots of pears which come in a variety of colors. There was a lot of information packaged in easy-to-understand writing that was impressive. This curriculum is perfect for little lambs to learn science.
Hands-on History Fun is what Home School in the Woods delivers with Project Passport Renaissance & Reformation. We had a blast together traveling back in time to a era filled with beautiful art, interesting philosophies, breathtaking architecture, and a rediscovery of the truth of the Gospel in Scripture.
I was completely amazed by the depth, creativity, and hands-on fun this project contained. It was a blast!
Now, let me take you through our experience with Project Passport Renaissance & Reformation.
When I first downloaded Project Passport Renaissance & Reformation, I felt a little overwhelmed. There were so many files!
Stop #1 took us the longest time. We made our scrapbook, started the luggage folder, and put our Scrapbook of sights together to fill later. Once we finished those things, we felt like we were in the groove of things. We decided to start the newspaper project later.
I printed a bunch of pdfs and we started coloring.
At this point the group working on our Passport Project expanded to include older members of the family who thought everything was so exciting.
"Why didn't we do this when I was in school?" someone asked. I was thrilled! It's never too late to learn more about the Renaissance and Reformation.
As a pastor's wife, I look forward to hearing about and reading books on biblical sexuality because the world is promoting everything contrary to biblical love inside marriage. When Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality arrived in the mail from Great Waters Press, I couldn't wait to read it.
I am so excited to recommend this book to young men, older men, parents, pastors, and counselors. A wonderful book! Insightful, easy-to-read, and straight to the point. In fact, I was excited to see how honest and open they were about the struggles young men, and older men, face in combating temptations they face each and every day.
Hal and Melanie have wisdom that works because it's straight from the Word of God. He created the young men that are in a constant battle to remain pure for the glory of God. He knows how to overcome the evil one.
Topics addressed in the eight chapters include:
Each topic is covering with honesty and a clear biblical perspective.
Code for Teens sent me Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming Volume I.
"Oh, dear!" I thought as I opened the package. My heart started pounding. My mouth went dry. "Computers, programming, technology. It all sounds so scary."
Lucky for me my teens are not afraid of computer programming. In fact, they think it's pretty cool!
Since my fearless teens weren't home, I flipped open the book. To my surprise, I was delighted. It was bright and cheery! I love bright colors. Best of all, the writer made me chuckle. He made me relax. By the time I had finished the introduction, I thought that I could do anything with a computer. He gave me hope!
I loved that the book instilled confidence in the reader with the tone and easy-to-read explanations and directions.
Here are some things I really liked:
It started with the basics and built slowly on them, step by step.
It summarized key concepts at the end of each chapter.
There will drills to cement learning.
The review included everything that had learned so far. I appreciate that because sometimes when I'm learning the current topic, I forget the previous one.
I recommend letting students learn at their own pace. Some will move quickly and others more slowly.
I was excited to read the delightful book Josefina's Story Quilt and to go through Josefina's Story Quilt e-Guide from Progeny Press. What fun!
The story is easy to read so little ones can read it aloud to Mom. At a chapter a day, that's six days. During that time, we made bread, looked up photographs online of the California Trail, and found some old quilts at a nearby museum.
We just did the questions/workbook pages as we read the book. They were easy to answer and enjoyable, too.
I was surprised at the amount of grammar covered in this little guides. Things like "Metaphor" were explained in easy-to-understand language. We found the metaphor easily, though I would have completely missed it if not for the study guide drawing attention to it.
We adapted the quilt project in the study guide. We stared by choosing our photos with clip art and made a template with the photos, putting them in squares to make a plan for the quilt. Next, we are going to get fabric paint and white muslin so we can draw the photos. Finally, we will stitch together the muslin squares to make our own story book quilt. We will probably make more squares.
The best part of the study guides is the Scripture that is tied in to the story. Looking up verses, children apply biblical principles to the novel they are studying. In The Josefina Quilt Story, the little girl prays in the story so there is Scripture about prayer and questions related to pray in the story and prayer in our own lives. I love it!
I have been thinking about getting my master's degree, but what holds me back is taking the GRE because of that pesky math. Math Essentials had the answer for me when they asked me to review Math Refresher for Adults, a workbook for adults who want to remember all that math of long ago. I love it!
Don't get me wrong, I loved math, but over the years, the memories of equations and methods are murky.
I was so excited to get my hands on Math Refresher for Adults because I also lead a homeschool co-op and this was thrilling to me. Why? Well, my homeschool co-op is filled with Moms who are TERRIFIED of math. It's not just that they don't remember it--they hate it! I can only imagine that their experience with math has been negative. Unfortunately, they have passed this on to their children who avoid doing their math like the plague.
Was this a piece of the puzzle for moms in this situation? I was eager to find out.
I decided to use Bible Study Guide for All Ages Beginner 3-K as a Bible Study Curriculum for our Sunday School class of mixed ages (4-8). Yes, that is a broad age range, but Bible Study Guide for All Ages had the perfect curriculum for our small church.
Our little Sunday school class includes readers and non-readers, so we used the younger version so that the youngest ones could keep up.
We have four different sets of teachers that teach once a month, so our Bible curriculum has to be easy to use and simple to jump right into. This was a perfect fit!
Each child got their own study guide with a complete lesson on the front and back of one page. We have used it for six weeks with great success. Each of the teachers are enjoying it because the lessons are so clear and easy-to-understand.
Being a lover of art, I was exciting to review The Master and His Apprentice: Art History from a Christian Perspective from The Master and His Apprentice.
Deciding to do five lessons and write my review, my plans changed when I fell in love with the textbook and read almost all of it. I'm still reading and plan on finishing it.
Wow! The Master and His Apprentice is awesome! Readable, engaging, and full of information and insight I have never heard before.
By the time I finished reading the introduction, I was already planning a homeschool co-op class using the curriculum.
You see, the book jumps right into how we are made in the image of the most amazing, magnificent, glorious Creator that ever existed! We see His artwork all around us! We drink in His beauty, glory, and splendor. We create art because we are made in His image! Wow! I'm excited!
I used this course myself and plan to teach it as a homeschool co-op course in the future, so I went through it as a student, but also looking to use the material to teach others.