YWAM: Benjamin Franklin ( Review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We have been blessed this month with an opportunity to review Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire which is a part of the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing. Through previous reviews and lots of family reading, we were already very familiar with this series. I did not have to ask my son if he wanted to participate in this review, just which title he wanted to try. There are so many great titles that it was a tough decision, but he finally decided on Benjamin Franklin.

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The Heroes of History series are all biographies of heroes that had a historical impact and told from a Christian perspective. Some of these go back to the founding of our country, men such as William Bradford and Captain John Smith. Others are more modern day heroes like Ben Carson and Billy Graham.

Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire told the story of the life of Benjamin Franklin. The book shared stories from his childhood through his adult life including his inventions and political contributions. My son said his favorite part was when they were talking about Benjamin Franklin’s younger years, after he moved to Philadelphia, when he was working with the post office and helping with the fire service.

In addition to the book, we received a PDF study guide which included 83 pages of ideas and activities. You could use this to make the book into a complete unit study or you can pick and choose activities to make it fit your needs. There are discussion questions for each chapter, writing prompts, creative writing activities, hands on projects, and arts and crafts. The guide also included a timeline activity, basic information sheet, and several maps. We chose to select a variety of activities to expand on his learning through the book but did not attempt to complete all of it since he was also continuing his other studies.

I started by having my son complete the basic information sheet, timeline and a couple of the maps to help him show me what he had learned while reading the book. I also had him answer a small selection of the discussion questions. Then, he was to choose two activities from the wide variety in the study guide.

First, he chose to make a movie about Benjamin Franklin. He decided to use Stop-Motion animation for the movie. It was short and a bit silly (he is a thirteen-year-old boy), but it showed some of what he learned and he had a great time being creative.

Next, he decided to write a one act play about Benjamin Franklin and the Stamp Act. Again, I saw both a good understanding of the content and the silliness of a thirteen-year-old boy. It was a great way to allow him to express himself, share his knowledge, and yet not feel bogged down by a formal paper or book report.

 The books work great as a family read aloud, independent reading, or complete unit studies when combined with the study guides.  For our family, I prefer to use most of the books as read alouds or personal reading, but add in the study guide for a unit study once or twice a year. 

If this book interest you, you might also want to check out my reviews of one of a couple of the other books in the series: Alan Shepard  and Orville Wright. You can also click the graphic below to check out the variety of reviews by other Crew members. There are so many great choices to choose from. Which one would you like to try?

32 Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

LitWits Kits Review

LitWit Pinterest

I have not been this excited about a literature unit study in a long time!  LitWits was generous enough to give us four of their LitWits Kits to review. We love to read and we have used and enjoyed a variety of studies but this one fit our family perfectly. While I personally think it is important for students to occasionally analyze literature and learn how to really break it apart, I think it is far more important that they learn to enjoy reading and making connections with what they read.  These kits did just that and as an added bonus to this busy mom, they were super easy to implement.

We were able to choose which titles we wanted from the 46 available titles. I was having a hard time choosing because there were so many wonderful titles, I ended up choose two and allowing my 6th and 8th graders to each choose a title.  We chose The House of Sixty Fathers, My Side of the Mountain, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, and All Creatures Great and Small.

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We got started by using My Side of the Mountain as a family. I purchased the audio version of the book and we listened to it together before completing the activities that went along with the book. We had the extra benefit of listening to this on our way to a short family vacation in the mountains which tied in beautifully (but is certainly not required to make this unit study wonderful.) The study suggested that you use props to help the children connect to the story. I thought the actual mountain camp site made a great prop and loved how they were making connections to Sam’s adventures. They found Hemlock trees like he used to make his home, rocks for fire starting, wild edibles, a stream, and more. Then we adapted the prop process when we got home and I had them find and collect props that went with the story and share them with the family. They found some of our homemade jam to represent the jam that Sam made, rocks, leaves, sticks, and more. Even the five-year-old was excited to participate.

“Here’s one critical thing we do – or rather, don’t do – to make great books fun for kids: We don’t ask kids to read with assignments in mind.” From LitWit e-mail

Next, there were a list of hands on projects that could be completed to go along with the book.  There was an idea for a poster to advertise the tree he lived in, an opportunity to make a clay pot, sketching on bark, and a play demonstrating the character of Sam.  I decided to allow each of my older children to decide which of these projects they wanted to complete. My son and daughter both chose to make a pot like Sam made for his jam.

Then, together we made breakfast using their ideas that were based off of the book. We had cornmeal pancakes with blueberry jam and watered-down root beer that served as sassafras tea. I loved that they were not all that fond of the watered-down root beer but they realized that if they were not used to having so much sugar, it might taste better. It was a really fun way to connect with the book.

The LitWits Kits also contained a great list of links to help you take your study of topics from the book further. For example, there were links to falcon videos because of Sam’s falcon, links about some of the other animals he encountered, music links, and even links about the author.  There were also downloadable worksheets that you could use to assess understanding of story line, vocabulary, and other aspects of the book. We chose not to use them with this book but may use them for some of the other titles.

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All of these components combined to make a fun and enjoyable book study. Sometimes, when a study over analysis a book it can leave a student ready to be done with the book and move on. These fun and engaging activities had my children talking about the book and making connections throughout their day.

The kits for the other titles are set up in a very similar fashion. I am choosing to have my children independently do the title that they chose and then, after the holidays, I plan to use All Creatures Great and Small as a family study. I am excited about learning more about some of the veterinary topics as well as English culture and I know that my daughter will enjoy the chance to make hot tea and Yorkshire pudding.

LitWits Kits can make a great independent literature study but I think they are even more amazing as a family study. The opportunity for us all to share the same wonderful story and a variety of fun activities really fits into what I want our homeschool days to look like. I wish I had known about these kits years ago! be sure to click on the graphic below to check out the other titles reviewed by Crew Members!

LitWits Kits {LitWits Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Horses of History Appaloosy Books by Mattie Richardson (Review)

Our family loves history and we love reading. So when I learned about Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series  by Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books I was excited to review them. My thirteen-year-old  son jumped on the opportunity to read and review them. Over the course of the last several weeks, he read all four books and is finishing up an enrichment guide that goes along with the fourth book: Day and Night. My eleven-year-old daughter is going to give them a try based on his review.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Horses of History Pinterest

These short paperback chapter books are written by a teen author and are full of great history information through the eyes of horses as they experience the historical events. They are a great way to engage students in history and get them interested in learning more.

Matthew’s Thoughts

Appaloosy is a great book for readers 9-14. It is the story of a horse that runs from an Indian village and is caught by white men. The horse goes wild and no one can ride him except one little girl. One day he runs away with her and trips in a hole. After that the father, who didn’t know she rode, made her stop riding until she told him the whole story.

Golden Sunrise is a great read for people 9-14. It is the story of Cheyenne, a palomino horse, who belongs to a boy named Jared. Jared becomes a solder in the army of Texas. While he is traveling and fighting in the Alamo he meets men like James Bowie and Davie Crocket.

Dusty’s Trail is a great read for people 9-14. It is the story of Dusty, a horse in the Pony Express. As a pony in the Pony Express he faces Indian attacks and other extremes. One day  herode three shifts because of sick horses that could not run. After that he became very famous to all the people in the pony express.

Day and Night is a good book for people 9-14. It is the story of horses Tucker and Shiloh. They are brothers who were sad to be separated but happy to be having an adventure. Tucker becomes a horse in the U.S. Mounted Infantry and Shiloh is a horse in the Confederate Volunteer Calvary. This story shares a lot about the United States Civil War.

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The enrichment guide for Day and Night was full of great information and worksheets. There were comprehension questions and vocabulary for each section of chapters. Then for each section she included an activity for them to complete to write their own story. If they complete each section, they will have a completed story at the end. There are also historical extension activities for each section. Information about civil war medicine, various important figures from the Civil War, recipes for Johnny cakes and hoe cakes and lots more. It was a great way to really dig deeper into the time period and would work wonderfully as a unit study.

Overall, we really enjoyed these books. I loved that in addition to history, my children had the opportunity to see that teenagers really can accomplish something big like becoming a published author. My son recommends them for ages 9-14 but I think you could read them aloud to even younger children.  Be sure to find out more about the books and the author over at Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books. You can purchase the complete set at Amazon. Finally, don’t forget to click on the graphic below and check out the other Crew Reviews.

Book Set: Appaloosy, Dusty's Trail, Golden Sunrise & Day and Night {Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Our Sixth Grade Curriculum Choices

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I am excited to share with you today the very best and only correct sixth grade curriculum! Just kidding! I firmly believe that there are many great programs. There are many factors that go into choosing the best curriculum for your child. However, I always like to share what we are using in case it helps someone find a program that works well for their family.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

My daughter is eleven and getting ready to start her sixth-grade year. When we sat down and discussed her goals for the year, she wanted to work on improving her running, her music skills, start her own weaving business, and read through the entire Old Testament.  As I sat down to plan her curriculum, I wanted to find ways to incorporate both the academic goals that I had for her as well as her own goals and interests.

For language arts, we are using a combination of four programs. This might sound a bit overwhelming but they each cover a different area and generally only require a few minutes each day per program. First, we are continuing to use All About Spelling. It is one of my favorite programs ever because it was such a game changer for our family. This program helped both of my older children to finally understand spelling and translate what they were learning in spelling to their everyday writing. Last spring, my daughter had the opportunity to try out Fix It! Grammar from IEW and we felt like it was a really good fit. The short lessons were effective without being overwhelming and so we are going to continue to use that program for Grammar.  For literature we are going to use Analyzing, Understanding, and Exploring Literature from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Finally, we are going to start working our way through Sharon Watson’s writing program Jump In. My son started this program last spring and we really liked it. She has various plans to cover this material in anywhere from one to three years. I plan on using the two-year track with my daughter.

For the last two years my daughter has used Math For A Living Education. She has really enjoyed the program and it worked well for her. I thought about switching her to something that she could use all through middle school (level six is the highest in this program), but since she liked it and wanted to continue, we decided to go ahead and finish out the program before switching to something new next year. I love that it is a very open and go program that includes lots of real-life application to help them understand why they need the math and when they will use it in real life.

For science, we are finishing up a science program that we started but did not finish last year: Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. We love the Apologia series but got behind due to the hurricane and switched our science focus to match what was happening in our lives. We are excited to dive back into this program and finish it out. We enjoy all of the hands-on projects and the creation-based approach to science.

We will be studying North Carolina History as a family. We love history and have spent a good deal of time volunteering at our local historic site, so the children are very excited about this year’s history line-up. I will be using a variety of books, our North Carolina Junior Historians program, the North Carolina Historic Sites, and a variety of other resources to take them through North Carolina’s history. We will also use State History from a Christian Perspective to get us started and get a good overview of North Carolina.

For art, she will work on lessons from You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels. She does not see herself as much of an artist, but has found that she can follow along with Nana’s simple and clear instructions to create adorable pictures. I think that the program helps her gain confidence in her art abilities and takes her outside of her ‘box’ and lets her try new things.  For music, she takes violin lessons from Practice Monkeys. We love this gentle and convenient approach to music lessons. She is progressing through the levels of the program quickly and enjoys practicing each day. She is also hoping to add piano lessons through the same program in January. I love that she can manage this new passion and is being responsible in practicing and ‘going to’ her online lessons without a lot of reminding. We are also going to incorporate some music appreciation materials during our morning time and evening education.

In addition to these programs, she will be doing Bible study each day and our morning time which will include read alouds, music appreciation, missionary studies, and more. Of course, there will also be lots of free play, field trips, and hands on adventures to keep the real-life learning going. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing more about what we are using for our morning time as well as the programs I am using for my eighth grader. If you have younger children you may want to check out Our Kindergarten Curriculum.

What are your favorite middle grades resources?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is doing an amazing sale this month! Buy One year get One Year FREE! We use this for several of our courses and one price covers all the students in your home for as many of their over 400 courses and you would like to use.

Not Consumed is having a great FREE Homeschool Curriculum week this week including live chats, free printables and daily giveaways! make sure to check it out.

Free ABC Mouse Trial: Looking for a little summer education for your children when it is too hot to play outside? ABC Mouse is offering a FREE 30 day trial. This is a great way to give it a try and see if it works for your child.

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Our Kindergarten Curriculum

One of the most popular homeschooling questions I receive is, “What is the best curriculum for….?” I will be the first to tell you that there is no one right answer to that question. There are many factors that go into choosing the best curriculum for your child. However, I always like to share what we are using in case it helps someone find a program that works well for their family.

Kindergarten Pinterest

My son turned five in April and is beginning his kindergarten year this fall. Earlier this summer, when I was working on goals with my older two children, he wanted to set his own goals. I suggested learning to read or to write his name. He, however, had other ideas. He let me know that he wanted to learn to cook pancakes and fish, climb trees, and more about Jesus.  While I don’t think this is all we will learn in kindergarten, I did think they were worthy goals and a great insight into the mind of a five-year-old boy. I’ll leave the tree climbing lessons to his siblings but I do plan to teach him to cook pancakes and fish (though not together) and I am always happy to teach my children more about Jesus.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

 

In addition to his goals, I have planned out some fun curriculum for us to use to cover additional academic subjects. We do believe in a relaxed approach to kindergarten and what I have planned should take us about an hour a day not counting field trips, nature walks, and his fifteen-minute violin lesson. Since he is not yet showing any interest and has been resistant to learning letters and reading, we will be waiting to start formal phonics until at least January. I will re-evaluate his readiness in January and possibly start All About Reading or work some more in The Learning Dynamics Reading Program. I am also going to have him continue to use his Starfall subscription a couple times a week to continue his exposure to letters and phonics.

I will be using Five in A Row as our primary curriculum with him this year. This program is a great way to encourage an enjoyment of good children’s books and incorporate other areas of learning. Using this program, we will read the book of the week five times (once each school day) and complete various activities coordinating with the book. Five in a Row includes activities for social studies, math, language arts, art, and science. Each week I will choose from the variety of activities to engage and challenge him.

 

While Five in a Row includes some math, it is not a sequential math program. I believe that math in the early years should mostly be hands on and as real life as possible, but I like to have slightly more structured program.  Therefore, I am using a Calendar Math set and the Building a Foundation with Kindergarten Math course from Schoolhouse Teachers to create a math program for him. He loves doing math and is looking forward to getting started. He has really enjoyed using the Pattern Block Pack from The Crafty Classroom so I will also use those a couple times a week for independent work.

For science, we will be doing a mostly nature focused science study in addition to some of the science activities in Five in a Row. I am going to use a primary journal so that he can draw pictures of what we find in nature and then dictate a sentence about it for me to write at the bottom.  We will use our Peterson’s field guides and other resources to learn more about the things he finds. I am also planning to get him caterpillars in the spring so that he can learn about the life cycle of the butterfly.

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We will be studying North Carolina History as a family. At the kindergarten level this will mostly be listening to me read aloud, having family discussions, lots of field trips, and some fun coloring pages. We also already to historical interpreting as a family, so he has lots of exposure to history and has developed a love for the revolutionary era.  I believe that this will be a great introduction to the study of history for him.

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For art, he will continue to work on lessons from You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels. He has been doing the preschool lessons, but as he gets more comfortable I will have him do some of the regular lessons that are a little more challenging. He enjoys these lessons with ‘Nana’ so much and just last week as we were coloring a picture he told me that my picture was “almost as good as Nana’s.” For music, he takes violin lessons from Practice Monkeys. We love this gentle and convenient approach to music lessons and looks forward to them each day.

In addition to these programs, he will be joining us for Bible study each day and our morning time which will include read alouds, music appreciation, missionary studies, and more. Of course, there will also be lots of free play, field trips, and hands on adventures to keep the real life learning going. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing more about what we are using for our morning time as well as the programs I am using for my older children.

What are your favorite kindergarten resources?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Learning Dynamics Reading Program (Review)

I recently had the opportunity to review the Learning Dynamics Reading Program by Learning Dynamics with my five-year-old son. His birthday was in the spring so he just turned five and will be considered a kindergartner in our homeschool for the 2019-2020 school year. He had no prior reading instruction and was very excited to try and learn to read.

Learning Dynamics Pinterest

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

The program arrived in mail all nicely packaged in a cute storage box that makes it easy to keep together. The package is a really nice perk because it is easy for parts and pieces to go missing in our house.  The kit included a lesson manual, a CD with songs to go with the lessons, a student workbook, flashcards, and character letter reward punch-outs for each letter. It also had over 50 full-color books for beginning readers.

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The program is designed with short lessons to match the typically short attention spans of young readers. The program is designed for students ages 4-7 that are learning to read. It can also be used to teach older students who are struggling to learn but may feel a bit ‘childish’ even though it could be effective.

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Even baby brother wanted to help with the unboxing!

When the program arrived, my son was very excited to try it so we got started right away. It was very ‘open and go’ and only took me a couple of minutes to know what to do and get him started. The lessons are short and only took about 10 minutes to complete.  This works well with the typically short attention span of young students.

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Student Workbook Page, Character card, and Teachers Manual

First, you introduce the letter that the student is learning in that lesson and the sound, then you read a short story about the character that goes along with that letter. Next, the student listens to the song for the letter and then completes a short worksheet about the letter in which they circle the pictures that start with the letter and put an “X “over the ones that do not.  The student can also trace and practice writing the letter on that page. Then the student listens to the song once more while pointing to the pictures that match the items in the song. Finally, you review the letter name and sound.

Once the student has mastered the first five letters, the program introduces blending so that students can begin to make words. After lesson nine, the student is introduced to the first book. My son’s favorite part was the character that went with each letter. For example, H was for Henrietta Horse who wore a happy hat. He would have me show him the punch-out of Henrietta and read her story several times.

If a child is ready to learn to read, this program could move them very quickly through learning letters, blending sounds, and into reading.  There is no busy work or monotonous repetition and so it is easy for them to stay engaged in each lesson. However, if your child is not yet developmentally ready to read this program may move too fast for them and not be enough practice to allow for mastery. In the case of my son, he enjoyed the program but could not remember the various letters and sounds from lesson to lesson which made it hard for him to progress forward. I plan to put the program away for a few months, then reevaluate his readiness in January and possibly try the program again. The age at which a child is ready to read varies greatly from child to child and could significantly affect how well your child would progress using this program.

If you have a child that is ready to learn to read or struggling with their reading and you want a short and simple approach to teaching them, Learning Dynamics Reading Program might just be the program for you. It is low teacher prep, easy to understand, and engaging for students. In addition, I am pleased to offer my readers 10% off of your purchase of this program when you click on this link and use the code: SCHOOLINSWAG . I encourage you to click on the Crew Reviews graphic below to check out the experiences that other crew members had with this program.

Learning Dynamics Reading Program  {Learning Dynamics Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Lightning Lit & Comp: Hewitt Homeschooling Resources (Review)

My thirteen-year-old son loves to read. He goes to bed every night reading, takes books in the car to read, and often spends his free time reading. However, he has never enjoyed literature courses, until we had this opportunity to review Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set by Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. This included the teacher’s manual, student guide, and workbook.

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One of the first things that I noticed was that instead of stopping every couple of chapters to analyze and review the book, Lightning Lit had him read the entire book before he began completing worksheets related to the book. For a student like my son, who reads really well and enjoys long stretches of reading this was a huge benefit. There were comprehension questions for each chapter but the teacher’s manual explained that they could be asked at the end of the week for all of the chapters that had been read that week. If that proved to be too long of a stretch for your child you could ask them more frequently, or if they were doing well you could wait and ask them at the end of the book.

The first part of this eighth grade series featured a short story. We spent the first two weeks of the program doing the introduction and the short story. The short story was a little ‘cerebral’ and he needed a little help understanding it but thought it was quite funny once we had discussed it.  Once he had read the short story there were a variety of worksheets and writing prompts that could be completed to accompany the story. Those included activities to work on fact and opinion, capitalization and apostrophes, and author’s purpose. There was also a crossword puzzle in there to keep things interesting.

Then in week three we got into the first novel of the program, Treasure Island. This adventure-filled book was an excellent choice for my son and he enjoyed reading it. He is now working on a variety of activities to go along with Treasure Island.

Once we finish Treasure Island, we will be taking a summer break before having him pick back up and finish it in the fall. The program rotates between short stories or poems and novels. This means that after Treasure Island he will work through a short grouping of poems before moving onto the next novel.  We are really looking forward to A Christmas Carol at the end of the first semester as well as The Hobbit during the second semester.

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The teacher’s manual gives a schedule broken down into two eighteen week semesters but you could easily adapt this to various schedules to suit your needs. It also includes mini-lessons to help you work on various skills and the answer keys to the discussion questions and workbook pages.

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If you complete this course in its entirety, it would work well to cover literature and composition. There is also grammar review included though if your student is weak in that area you may want to supplement with a grammar curriculum.  We worked through the first two chapters using it in its entirety and found it to be a solid but interesting program. Since we also have a writing program that we enjoy, we will probably finish it with a focus on the literature part and skip over some of the composition components. I really appreciated that this curriculum is easy for me to adapt in that manner.

If you are looking for a literature and composition course for your middle school student, I encourage you to check out the Gr 8 Lightning Lit Set and other resources by Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. They also have programs for elementary and high school so make sure you check out the reviews from the other Review Crew members at the link below.

Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Orville Wright: The Flyer, Heroes of History (A Review)

When I saw that we were going to have the opportunity to request to be on a review for YWAM Publishing I knew my son was going to be excited. He already has several books from their Heroes of History series, and was excited to be able to request a new title. After looking over the list his first choice was Orville Wright. As a child I was fascinated with the Wright Brothers and my son seems to share that interest. Living only a few hours away from where they made that first historic flight makes them even more interesting.

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Once we got news that we were selected for the review, we started watching the mail and waiting for the book to arrive. He was quite excited to open it and start reading when it arrived a few days later. Considering that we intended to use the Study Guide to accompany the book I had planned to take 2-3 weeks to go through the book, he loved it so much he completed the entire book in just a few days. He then used the book as he went back through and did the study guide activities.

The Heroes of History series are all biographies of heroes that had a historical impact and told from a Christian perspective. Some of these go back to the founding of our country, men such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Others are more modern day heroes like Ben Carson and Billy Graham. Orville Wright sits in the middle of those, living from 1871 to 1948.

Orville Wright: The Flyer, tells of the life of Orville Wright from the time he was about six years old. It includes stories of him and his siblings playing with rubber band flyers when they were young, how they loved kites, and how they learned to fly. They began the first chapter looking ahead to a flying accident in which Orville broke his leg and then went back to his childhood. This was very memorable to my son who actually said, “I like how the authors use one of the most tragic moments to introduce the book.”

 

The study guide is a PDF including 83 pages of ideas and activities. You could use this to make the book into a complete unit study or you can pick and choose activities to make it fit your needs. There are discussion questions for each chapter, writing prompts, creative writing activities, hands on projects, and arts and crafts. It also includes a timeline activity, basic information sheet, and several maps. We chose to select a variety of activities to expand on his learning through the book.

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Fact Sheet, Map, and Timeline

I started by having my son complete the basic information sheet, timeline and a couple of the maps to help him show me what he had learned while reading the book. He then chose a writing project and a hands-on component from the study guide and we finished it off with a field trip to the Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk.

For his writing project he chose, “As Wilbur did in 1896, write a letter to the Smithsonian Institution, requesting information about an area that interests you. You can contact the museum at Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies, P.O.Box 37012, MRC508, Washington, DC, 20013–7012 or via e-mail at learning@si.edu.” This was a lot of fun for him and he is waiting and hoping to get a response from them on his request for information.

 

For his hands on project, he chose to find a small household machine that he could take apart and study. He found an old drill. He took it apart, labeled each of the parts, and shared with us how the parts worked together to make the drill run.

 

 

We finished our unit study off with a wonderful field trip to the Wright Brothers monument and national park. We had a lot of fun learning even more about the brother, running down the runway and flight path of those very first flights, and even eating lunch in the lifesaving station from which the famous telegraph of their success was sent in 1903.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” I think that Orville Wright: The Flyer like the other books from YWAM Publishing offer children great examples of real life heroes. The books work great as a family read aloud, independent reading, or complete unit studies when combined with the study guides.  If this book interest you, you might also want to check out my review of one of the other books in the series about Alan Shepard . You can also click below to check out the variety of reviews by other Crew members. There are so many great choices to choose from.

Study Guides - Christian Heroes Then & Now & Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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Fix It! Grammar (A Review)

Grammar has been the thorn in the side of my existence as a homeschool mom; finding a program that worked but that wasn’t dull and dry has been a real challenge. Along came an opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar  which promised short lessons and the opportunity for students to apply grammar concepts in context. I knew that Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) created quality products and so I decided I would give it a chance and see how it worked for my daughter. We started at the beginning and review Student Book 1, The Nose Tree.

FIx It Grammar Pinterest

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The program is built around four, approximately fifteen-minute long lessons per week. The first day took a bit longer than that as we got set up and my daughter and I both got learned how the program worked. After the first day, she was able to finish each day’s assignments in 10 to 15 minutes. I went over each day’s work with her but (after that first day) she was able to complete the work independently.

In each lesson a student only has to work with one sentence. They read the sentence and then in their notebooks define the one word that is in bold print.  Next, they mark the sentence for grammar by marking the parts of speech that have been taught thus far as well as fixing any mistakes. Once they have it corrected, they turn to a second section in their notebook and add that sentence to the story that they are working on, making sure to include the correction punctuation and any fixes they noted in their books. Each sentence from the beginning to the end of the book adds to the same story. This makes it fun for them to find out what happens next. This whole process generally takes no more than fifteen minutes.

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Grammar Cards

The student workbook also includes grammar cards with the different concepts to cut out and use for review. They are double sided with the concept on one side and an explanation on the other. For example, the first card says “Nouns N” and then the back gives the definition of a noun and a couple of tips for helping determine if a word is truly a noun.

“I liked the story and how it kept adding on to the same story. I also liked how it slowly added in things like nouns and pronouns and did not have me try to remember them all at once. ” Elizabeth, Age 11

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Teacher’s Manual

The teachers manual shows the sentences that are in the student workbook with the appropriate corrections. It also includes explanations and helpful tips.  For example, when it taught about quotation marks, the teacher tip explained why quotation marks were supposed to be curved but were sometimes straight because of type writers.  There is also a glossary at the back of the teachers manual and the student workbook which have lots of great grammatical information. It explains concepts like Oxford comma, capitalization rules, and clauses.

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Glossary Sample

Fix It! Grammar turned out to be a great program for my daughter. Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) did an excellent job offering a high quality, thorough program that is easy to implement (all the busy moms rejoice) and engaging. Other reviewers from the Review Crew checked out other levels of Fix It! Grammar so make sure to check out some of the other reviews at the link below.

Fix It! Grammar {Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Homeschool Complete (Review)

What do you do with a child that is ready to start kindergarten work, when you are already balancing two other older children and a baby? You look for a product that will give him what he needs in a simple easy to use format that doesn’t take all day. I’m researching curriculum for my son who turns five next month and is in that very situation. Homeschool Complete offers full programs that are all inclusive and feature a unit study format. I decided to try out the first semester of Kindergarten Complete with my son and see how it worked with him and with our schedule.

The semester is broken up into various units including: All About My Family, Fall, Farm Animals, Zoo Animals, Winter, Sea Life, Martin Luther King Jr. and more.  Most of the units are about four lessons long with each lesson being one day’s work. They suggest using the unit for four days and having the fifth day of the week be activities of your own choice.

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homeschool complete pinterest corrected

My son was excited about ‘doing school’ and eager to try this program most days. I found that it took us between 45 and 60 minutes to do the lessons most days. He really enjoyed the math and reading components (which at this point were mostly read alouds with comprehension questions). He was starting to learn some of the letter sounds but struggled with those as well as the writing components. I felt like the math was moving at a really good pace. He could easily keep up but was not becoming bored.

He struggled to keep up with the writing even though it was mostly copying words that I had written. He enjoyed learning how to write his name but when he had to write other words, he seemed to struggle. This will vary based on the child and it is worth noting that he is on the younger side and another 6 months or a year’s worth of fine motor skills may make the writing much more attainable for him.

Each day they would go through their calendar activities, talking about the date, days of the week, moths of the year, etc. There was a short math lesson, followed by language arts which generally consisted of reading a book or passage aloud and then discussing it. Often the book or passage related to the theme of the unit study and included the science or social studies for the day.

Most days also include some type of enrichment activity. Also days often include a Bible lesson, physical education lesson, art lesson or music lesson.  These extras are typically very simple and easy to implement. For example, practice a low crawl for fire escape is one of the physical education ideas.   An example of an art lesson was to create colorful fall trees by painting with sponges.  One of the enrichment/science activities was carving a pumpkin and having the child feel the inside and then use adjectives to describe it.

I thought this program was well thought out and provided good coverage of the basics with some other fun activities. We are a very science and history heavy family and I would include more of that in our studies but those would be easy to supplement. If you are a family that starts those subjects later or puts less emphasis on them at a young age, there is probably plenty included in the curriculum.

In addition to the curriculum you do need to be prepared to purchase or borrow books for each unit. Many of them are fairly common and not difficult to find. We also utilized videos of a couple of them being read aloud on YouTube for books that we did not have. There are materials needed for some of the art and science projects but in general they are common materials or inexpensive. For example, we needed pennies for counting one day and paper and crayons for an activity.

Overall, if you are looking for a simple and easy to implement complete kindergarten curriculum Homeschool Complete may be a good choice for you. They also offer complete curriculum for grades first through fourth and unit studies for grades K-6. I encourage you to check out their website as well as the other crew reviews to see if this might be a good fit for your students.

**Update**  Homeschool Complete  is offering 10% off to our readers right now!! Just click on that link and use code CREW2019 through 3/31/2019. ***

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.