Homeschool Book Reviews

 

There are so many homeschool books and products out there that it is impossible for me to evaluate them all. Therefore, I only review new products or products that work well with The Checklist and multi-level teaching.

Note to Publishers: I do not accept advertisements. However, if you would like your product to be considered for this Web site, please email me at: cindy@oklahomahomeschool.com. Cindy Downes

Listed in Alphabetically by title:

All American History, Uniting America's Story, Piece by Piece by Celeste W. Rakes.

When I first received Volume 1 of this curriculum, I thought it was going to be just another history textbook. However, I was pleasantly surprised! This one is unique and worth considering for your children.

The reader is excellent and the information is well presented. I think students will enjoy the text. Each unit includes easy-to-read text, illustrations of famous people and events, maps, and a section on the impact of the unit's events on our nation. The illustrations, however, are black and white which makes it somewhat less interesting than a similar book in color. Maybe a future edition will add color illustrations

What I like the most is the activity book! Each unit includes activity worksheets to accompany the text. The fun part is that Celeste has included small images of famous people and flags to cut out and paste on the worksheets. Visual learners and your younger children will like this part and it will help them to remember what they learned. The worksheets also include a fill in the blank and multiple choice quiz to check older student's memory, as well as map work and additional ideas and resources for further study.

This curriculum comes in three parts: The Student Reader, a Student Activity Book, and the Teacher Guide with Answer Key. Normally, I don't like having to purchase a separate teacher book, but in this case, it's not that expensive ($16.95) and it is well worth purchasing. It includes a lot of background information as well as additional activities that will make multi-level teaching a lot easier. For instance, in the lesson on the Revolutionary War, students will make invisible ink secret messages, create a newspaper, make candles, go on a nature hike to identify trees and animals, learn how to fly and store a flag, and much more.

I particularly recommend this to parents who have visual learners and who have to teach multiple grade levels at one time. The author recommends it to be used for grades 5-8, but I would not be afraid to use parts of it with younger children.

American History Teacher's Book of Lists by Fay R. Hansen:

This 500+ page book is a must for anyone teaching American history. You'll find copies of many primary sources such as the Mayflower Compact, Bill of Rights, and Articles of Confederation; profiles of major people in history and government; timelines of events; and facts related to economics, politics, health, crime, and public education. Also included are listings of American authors, musicians, historians, craftspeople, and much, much more.

Keep it on your desk and you'll have a handy reference guide that can be used for lesson planning or to make quizzes, handouts, unit studies, and vocabulary lists. For example, if you are doing a study on World War II, there is a list of major battles, major weapons used, military casualties, military leaders, which countries participated in the war, major events, and America's relative economic position. There is also a copy of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, FDR's Address to the Nation, and a chronology of the development of the atomic bomb. More than enough to help you teach this topic and provide handouts to your students.

Ancient China, To the Great Wall and Beyond by Judy Wilcox.

I am extremely impressed with Ancient China, To the Great Wall and Beyond by Judy Wilcox. Judy has created a resource that is fun, easy-to-use, and chock full of information about China (from ancient time to modern day). It was written to be used with K-6 grade, but I believe it would make a terrific supplement for 7-12 also. There is enough "meat" in this unit that your teens will learn as much or more about China from this than from most junior or senior level textbooks. The best part is that they will have fun doing it!

The unit is scheduled for a twelve week period and is divided into daily lesson plans. Each lesson includes a reading in the book and timeline information. Projects are included with each lesson that involve research, reading, composition, map work, art, music, science, hands-on activities (crafts, models, recipes, etc), and field trip ideas.

The lessons begin with the geography of China, then progress through history by dynasty, and conclude with information about modern China. At the end of the book, there is a test for the unit as well as a glossary, a list of books for further study, timeline figures, and maps.

From the moment I picked up this book, I was "hooked." I read the book cover to cover, wishing the whole time that I was still homeschooling or that I had had a chance to be exposed to this kind of learning when I was a young student. The information is presented logically and simple enough that anyone can understand it. I particularly liked how Judy integrates Christianity into the curriculum and includes projects that has students compare the religions of China to that of Christianity.

I can't recommend this unit enough. Ancient China has a fascinating history and plays an important role in our world today. You will be doing your children an injustice not to expose them to the history of China. Now, there is a resource that will help you do just that! And when you are done, you can check this off your copy of The Checklist.

PS: I have added an update to The Checklist to incorporate this unit. Those of you who already own The Checklist can add it to your notebook. Those of you who don't can view a sample here: Ancient China (updated September 2007): http://oklahomahomeschool.com/Cklist_Rev.html

Ancient History Portfolio & Timeline by Barbara Shukin, Review.

During the years I ran a support group, we would have portfolio night, where everyone brought their portfolio to show off. Of course, the winners were always the ones who were scrapbookers! Their portfolios were beautiful, colorful, and exciting while ours were dull, practical, and boring. Oh, if I had only know about Barbara's book, I could have given them a run for the money! It may not be scrapbooking, but when finished, it IS a work of art!

Barbara has put together a mini portfolio for history. She has designed each page so it's neat and orderly and then gives you all the ideas you need to complete the boxes. The assignments include reports, narration, vocabulary, copy work, and timelines. You can look at her website for color pictures of sample portfolios (http://www.homeschooljourney.com/index.html).

Barbara created these resources to be used "by an individual, child or adult, and will become a unique record of the student's "journey through history", a beautiful history book of the student's own making, something to refer to later as the student's interests grow and expand, and above all, something to treasure."

I recommend this resource for those of you who have children who are Read/Write and Visual Learner (especially if they love to make booklets) and for moms who would like help in creating a portfolio of your child's history work.

See my review of Shukin's Ancient History Portfolio Junior on my How Do I Teach . . . ? blog.

Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame by Michael S. Class.

This is an innovative book that will stimulate your child's interest in history. Although written for ages 12 and up, this can easily be used as a family read-aloud for younger children. Your child will be transported back to the time of important historicbal events using real photographs of "Anthony" superimposed on historical photos of the people he visits including Charles Lindbergh, Lou Gehrig, Thomas Edison, and Dr. Jonas Salk. While on these "visits," Anthony learns about the Apollo Moon Mission, The Great Depression, Immigration, Polio Vaccine, WWII, the Holocaust, and more. Real quotes from real people make the story come so alive that you almost believe Anthony is there!

Included in the book is a list of books, movies, museums, and music related to each topic as well as footnotes that are lessons in themselves. I also like that the author chose to include references to God and Bible scripture rather than make this "politically" correct.

The author, Michael Class, wrote the book to encourage "young people to become productive, honest, thoughtful, moral citizens—and to contribute in a positive way to American society and the world." He has done an excellent job of fulfilling this mission. I highly recommend this book for everyone, even adults.

Art in History: Discovery Through Creativity

As most of you know, I'm a big fan of hands-on projects. They make learning fun and help your students retain what they have learned.

I just discovered a new resource for hands-on learning called Art in History: Discovery Through Creativity. In the words of the publisher, these kits are "historic replicas of art that students decorate to reflect the time period and the culture from which it originated."

Available kits are from time periods ranging from 3,000 BC to present day, making them perfect for unit studies! For instance, if you're doing a unit on the French Revolution, you can create a Limoges Box; a unit on Ancient Rome - an oil lamp; a unit on Romanov Russia - a Faberge-style Egg.

I reviewed a piece from the Civil War era - a southern Face Jug, a ceramic tradition started by African slaves during the 1840s. The ceramic was a large piece, about 5" high and 5" wide. All the stains, paints, brushes and sponges needed were included. The directions were simple and easy to use.

Each kit may be purchased separately for $8.49 each, plus shipping. Apparently, the lesson plans are no longer available, which is a disappointment. However, the kits can be used with any lesson plan.

If you have children who love art, these kits will be a hit!

Balancing the Sword.

I made a great discovery at the OCHEC Homeschool Convention - a Bible study resource called Balancing the Sword. So many times, parents ask me what they should use for Bible study and I usually tell them - the Bible! I know that seems obvious but parents are so used to doing curriculum for everything that they think they need a curriculum for studying the Bible. Unfortunately, Bible curriculums are usually structured around someone else's theology or philosophy so it's hard to hear what God is saying to you personally.

Balancing the Sword is different. You simply read a chapter in the Bible and then refer to Balancing the Sword for questions about that chapter. You must also read the cross references listed to find all the answers. The cross references follow the theme of one verse throughout the Bible. By time you get done reading everything, you've learn so much more about the topic and all through reading the Word, not someone's commentary. it's amazing what you learn!

For instance, in the first chapter of Genesis, I learned:

    1. God created light here on earth. There is no sun in heaven - He is the light.
    2. Night time is the beginning of the Jewish day. We once walked in darkness but now we are in the Light.
    3. God gave stars as signs for seasons, days, and years. These will remain as long as the earth remains, but will disappear at the Day of the Lord. A star was used to show the location of Jesus at His birth. Man uses stars to interpret the weather, but most are unable to interpret the signs of the times.
    4. God wants us to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it using its vast resources in the service of God and man. God gives dominion to whom He chooses for His purposes.

There are two volumes. Each of the two volumes cover all 66 books of the Bible but with different questions so you can go through the Bible two times using the two books. You can do it from Genesis to Revelation or start anywhere in the Bible that you want to. Although it is based on the KJV, it does not seem to require that you use that version. I use the Amplified and The Message and had no problem.

You are given permission to make copies of the questions for your own family so you can give each child a blank sheet of questions to answer. (I would probably do this orally as a family - maybe once in a while writing the answers to keep in my portfolio as records.)

Check it out. This might be just what you are looking for! See some sample pages here: http://www.balancingthesword.com/PDF_Files/Samples_of_Both_Volumes.pdf

Beyond Numbers by Katherine A. Loop.

If you want to know what homeschool graduates are doing, just look at the number of books being published by them! Beyond Numbers, written by homeschool graduate Katherine Loop, is another one that I recommend.

Several years ago, I read a book called, Mathematics: Is God Silent? by James Nickel. It was so inspiring and informative that I began recommending it to everyone I could. However, it's not an easy read and most people just couldn't take the time to digest it. When I learned that Katherine had written a book which included a simplified version of a portion of Nickel's book, I was extremely anxious to read it.

She didn't disappoint me! Katherine's excellent book is easy to read. It will not only help you understand God's purpose for math and how math testifies of God, but it will also give you some practical suggestions for implementing what you learn into your homeschool program. In addition, she rates current math curriculums as to how well they present math in the context of God's Word and includes a sample idea notebook for using math in your daily lives. Congratulations, Katherine, on a job well done! For more information or to order, check her website.

The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier.

This is my new “Favorite Homeschool Book.” Everyone in education should have a copy. Here’s why:

1. It explains learning styles and the problems of labeling children with any system

2. It shows you how to use multiple learning styles to teach your children – the best way to learn!

3. It provides hundreds of ideas for teaching your children using all the senses. The ideas by themselves are worth the price of the book.

This is not the kind of book you read once. Instead, you need to keep it someplace handy where you will read, reread, and try out the ideas one at a time. As you discover activities that work for your child, mark them for future use and try some more.

The book is divided into sections: Section one explains learning styles and how to use the book. Section two contains ideas for spelling, writing, math, history, geography and science, as well as one chapter that provide review ideas for any subject.

Activities range from textured writing and jump rope spelling to singing the elements and learning the planets by rotating around trees. A bonus unit study on geography is included to demonstrate how to teach using a book or movie as the basis for your study.

There are ideas for all grades from K-12 and many can be used for every grade. By using this resource, you’re bound to find a way to reach that child who doesn’t seem to be learning, as well as enrich the learning of those who are already well on their way. I consider this an essential resource for homeschoolers. It would benefit classroom teachers as well, as most of the ideas can be used in a classroom.

For more information, check Barnier’s Web site at http://www.opengifts.org/.

Biology 101 by Wes Olson.

Your visual and auditory learners are going to LOVE this. As a matter of fact, Biology 101: Biology According to the Days of Creation, developed by Wes Olson, is going to be enjoyed by the whole family!

The topics covered in this 4 disc set include Defining Life and Life Classification, Plants, Aquatic Creatures, Avian Creatures, Land Animals, Mankind and Genetics. It also includes a printable 114-page guidebook and a 12-page "Course Accreditation Program."

First, what I liked: I loved the beautiful videos; the animated graphs, charts and illustrations; the background music was pleasant and added to the learning experience. The host (also Wes Olson) was an excellent speaker and kept my attention with clearly defined definitions, anecdotes, and interesting facts. During the plant segment, he takes the viewer to a variety of places to study plants: the bakery to learn about grains, a restaurant to learn how algae is used to make ice cream and salad dressing, and the forest to watch a forester drill a tree ring sample to find out the age of a tree. He also offers memory tips like learning that stamen ends with "men" so it's the male part of the plant, and he shows how plants are used in scripture to illustrate spiritual truths. The animations are excellent and easy to learn from so everyone in the family will benefit from watching the videos.

What I didn't like: There is no real lab work included to speak of, only a few simple projects. The "accreditation program" is not adequate for students going to college or entering any science-related field. I recommend supplementing the curriculum with additional research, composition, and lab work. The guidebook did not include much more than what is included on the videos, so it's not really that helpful. Perhaps this is a feature they will improve in the future.

However, I liked the videos themselves so much, I highly recommend them as the foundation for a biology course or a unit study for all ages. You could teach topic by topic as in a unit study and use the videos as the "meat." Simply add additional reading, research, composition, and lab to suit, depending on grade level, interests and abilities. Much of the extras could be found on the Internet for free. The cost of Biology 101 is only $69.95/set, a full year's course that can be used by your entire family. You can't beat that!

Blackline Maps of World History - Review

Blackline Maps of World History by Terri Johnson (Knowledge Quest). This resource will help you teach the geography of the world to your children in grades 1-12. You can use it as a stand-alone map study, along with a unit study, or as a supplement to a textbook. There are four books available: The Ancients (5000 BC - 400 AD), The Middle Ages (400-1600), The New World (1600-1850), and The Modern World (1850-2004). The complete set includes lesson plans and maps that cover the time period from 5000 BC to 2004 and permission is given individual purchasers to reproduce the maps for noncommercial, individual use.

The lesson plans include instructions for completing the map exercises and several questions to answer. Your children may have to research the answers in an atlas, a history book, or on the Internet. Doing so will help them learn important information about the country or historical event being studied. As Terri says in her book, "It only makes sense to study geography alongside history. In history, we learn about times, places, and people. Each aspect of historical study is important in its own right, but they cannot be studied exclusively of one another. For example, when you study the Norman Conquests, you learn that it took place between 1066 and 1087 AD and that it was the Normans of France who crossed the English Channel to conquer Britain. After reading about this event in history, why not have the student look at a map or globe to find out where it took place? Better yet, have him label and color a map drawn specifically of that region and for that time period in history. When children have visual cues, it helps to cement fact into their minds."

I LOVE the CD version! It includes everything in the book version, but is in pdf format. (You will need the latest version of Acrobat Reader to use it. This is free software that you can download off the Internet.) What I love about the CD is that it is convenient and stores easily. You simply insert the CD, open the file to the Index, click on the chapter you want to study, and you're instantly there! Now, you can print out the lesson plan and the maps you need for the day's lesson and then put the CD back on the shelf. How easy can it get?!

For those of you who like to put together your own course of study, this resource is a must! It will go exceptionally well with The Checklist. It's in timeline sequence, as is The Checklist. As you cover the history portion of The Checklist, you can use this resource for your children's map studies. After they complete their study, check it off on The Checklist as a record of what your children have covered.

I highly recommend this resource! Also available from Knowledge Quest is Blackline Maps of American History which includes 80 maps of US history (America's founding and development) as well as historical maps that depict battles and expansion, etc. and state maps which include capital, date of statehood, state bird and flower, and other important facts. I haven't seen this one, but it should be just as well done.

Bootmaker to the Nation by Dr. John Slade.

A few days ago, I received a 721 page book called, "Bootmaker to the Nation" by Dr. John Slade, to review. My first thought when looking at the enormous tome, was, "Fat chance I'll get around to reading this." I dropped it on my coffee table and forgot about it. Later that evening, I picked it up and started ruffling through, wondering who I could give it to to review for me! However, having nothing pressing to do at the moment, I began reading the first chapter. I was immediately hooked!

The book is historical fiction set at the time of the American Revolution, 1763 to 1783. The story is told from the point of view of a London boy named Benjamin and an American girl named Genevieve. Dr. Slade begins the story in London where Benjamin, an 18-year old cobbler's son, is kidnapped and taken aboard the Lively, a British frigate, to be pressed into His Majesty's navy. During the trip over he is forced to become a topman where he must climb to the top of the ship's mast to furl and set the sail. This whole section kept me biting my nails! After he lands, he is then forced to learn to become a soldier for the Redcoats. His only goal, however, is to escape and get back to London.

The story then takes us from Benjamin's story to Genevieve's story. I don't want to say much more about the plot because that's what kept me hooked! And while I was hooked, I learned about each of the battles of the Revolution, the weapons that were used, the people involved, and why we fought the war. This was much better than a history textbook!

Dr. Slade's goal in writing the book is to teach us to "love American history, understand our nation's first war, meet our Founding Fathers as people, not as wooden heroes, and look to the future with an educated eye." He definitely fulfills this goal. I highly recommend this for 9th graders and up. It's available at local bookstores.

Cozy Grammar Review.

Let me begin this review with some facts: My maiden name is Edwards. My favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice. I've read every Agatha Christie mystery written and I love Earl Grey tea. So, how could I not love Cozy Grammar! Cozy Grammar, produced by Splashes from the River, is a video teaching resource. Splashes from the River produces several video courses that teach basic grammar, intermediate grammar, punctuation, and essay writing. This review relates to the Basic Cozy Grammar Course.

The main character in this video is the author, Marie Rackham, an active, full-of-life, senior citizen and retired school teacher who lives in British Columbia. In her preface, the author says, "I wanted to get out of the classroom - to present grammar in an everyday setting. The coziness of a home, the familiarity of a garden, the fascination of a beach, and the ever changing moods of the Pacific Coast weather combined to make a stimulating, but non-threatening, setting for teaching a potentially dry and boring subject."

I can assure you that she did exactly that. She used the beautiful setting of her home in the Pacific-Northwest to teach basic grammar skills. For instance, in the first lesson, she teaches about the kinds of sentences while welcoming you into her home and drinking tea. In the second lesson, she teaches about subjects and predicates with a demonstration of chopping firewood, building a fire, and then relaxing in front of it. She illustrates nouns by having a dinner party with friends. She uses name plates to teach personal nouns; she sets the table to show common nouns; she serves the meal while teaching collective nouns, indefinite nouns, pronouns, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed her slightly English accent, her somewhat "stuffy" English ways, the beautiful scenery, and the background music consisting of piano compositions from composers such as Bach, Chopin, and Beethoven. The experience was pleasant and relaxing, as well as informative. After viewing each segment, there is a worksheet to complete that reinforces what has been taught, as well as tests to be given as needed.

There are a few segments that may bother some Christian homeschooling families. One is the segment where Marie is having a dinner party and she pours red and white wine in her guests glasses. The other is when she uses a buddha and yin/yang symbol to talk about adjectives. These incidents are brief and I think so minor to the program that they shouldn't present a problem for most families, no more than seeing them in a TV ad or at the mall. I would use these segments as talking points, if desired.

I highly recommend this series for children who are visual and auditory learners. I would begin the Basic Grammar course with children who are reading fluently and ready for formal grammar instruction. The course is simple to use and is an enjoyable way to learn grammar, especially for those who dislike the traditional textboook approach.

Unfortunately, I think most teenagers are will think this series is a little too "cheesy" for them. I don't believe you'll find many of them volunteering to watch it. However, I have an idea! Why not assign your older teen to watch it with your younger child to "help him" learn grammar. That way your teen can save "face" and it would give you time to work one-on-one with another child or do housework while this is going on!

My suggestion for this company is that they should create additional sets of Cozy Grammar with new actors and call them, "Wild West Grammar" for the western folks and "Shopping Mall Grammar" for the metropolitan type. That way everyone can enjoy watching them as much as I did! For pricing and more information, log onto to their website at: www.splashesfromtheriver.com.

Creative and Crafty Writing by Karine Bauch and Jan May.

Creative and Crafty Writing is just what you need to help your visual and kinethetic students learn to write. The Christian-based program offers twelve, one-hour lessons that will teach your student to write a fable, a news story, and a short story. With each lesson, the student not only learns the techniques of writing, but he or she also creates a craft project to supplement the lesson. This is where the curriculum shines!

For instance, the lessons on Writing a Narrative (short story) begin with learning about theme and setting. The students learn to describe the time and place for their story by completing a worksheet that guides them through the process. I particularly like the way the author incorporates vivid adjectives into the lesson.

After completing this lesson on theme and setting, the student creates a thematic pencil holder to further emphasize the theme element. Subsequent lessons work on creating characters, plot (conflict, complications, climax, and conclusion), dialogue, great beginnings, and title selection, each with additional craft projects to make them really fun!

Other lessons in the book include creating a newspaper, complete with clip art to cut out and use for illustrations and writing a fable in a student-created My Treasure notebook. Each lesson takes about one hour to complete.

This curriculum makes a great summer project, or use it to teach specific writing skills during the year, such as those found in The Checklist, page 130-131 (Writing Project Ideas). For more information or to order, check their Web site.

Drive Thru History America with Dave Stotts.

This resource is produced by David Barton and Nita Thomason. It describes itself as "cutting edge, entertaining, fast-paced curriculum that teaches the history of our nation from a Christian worldview" and it generally lives up to its claim.

Included in the curriculum is a DVD and a student workbook that focus on eight historical figures: Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Benjamin Rush, George Washington, Benjamin Banneker, Haym Salomon, Abigail Adams, Noah Webster, and John Quincy Adams.

Each segment involves watching a color, video presentation and then completing a section in the workbook. The video presentation is hosted by Dave Stotts who drives around in a Hummer as he teaches the subject. The presentation transitions back and forth from the host (sometimes dressed in historical costume and filmed on location) to a narration over drawings, artwork, or animated graphics. The host is witty and interjects a bit of humor here and there, such as wearing hideous-looking false teeth, to make it more interesting for kids.

The workbook includes information about each person's life, as well as student activities which range from research and writing assignments to mock simulations and group discussions. Other activities include puzzles and poetry memorization as well as questions to be answered after each chapter.

I recommend this resource for 6th grade and up, although younger children may enjoy the video. In addition to being a stand-alone curriculum in character education, it will also make a great resource for an American history unit study or to enrich a traditional American History curriculum. It is not a stand-alone American History curriculum.

This curriculum will appeal to Visual, Auditory, and Read/Write learner. There is not much here for the Kinesthetic learner but it could certainly be used along with hands-on projects that you add yourself.

The best part of the curriculum is that it is Bible-based and encourages good character development. The focus is on each person's achievements and how each one served because of his/her faith in God. The activities encourage the students to analyze and imitate these good character traits. There are not too many resources out there that do this well, but here is one that I recommend.

The homeschool kit, which includes the DVD and the workbook, is $49.99. You are given permission to copy the workbook for classroom use so there is no need to buy a separate workbook for each of your children. Contact: www.dthamerica.com for more information or to order.

The Elements.

Most homeschool moms that I know are not particularly fond of teaching science. I guess it's a girl thing! But today, there are so many great resources that make teaching science easier that it should become more and more "girl" friendly! Here's one of those resources: The Elements published by EDGEucation Publishing. This resource is a fun way to teach your children about the 109 elements. Your children will be introduced to each element through a funny character to color and a short bio. The workbook includes test sheets and stickers to reinforce what is learned. A great introduction to the elements for all ages. Also available is The Elements Flash Cards. Colorful flash cards help children to memorize the names and facts about each of the 109 elements. For more info, check out their website.

Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeanne Fulbright.

You are so blessed to have curriculum like this available to you! As I read through this textbook, I got so excited about teaching it that I forgot my kids were grown! (No, I don’t want to teach someone else’s!) This is the curriculum I dreamed about when my children were young. It’s interesting, fun, easy-to-use, and best of all, teaches so much more than traditional textbooks!

I like it because:

    It is Christian-based and accurate scientifically. For instance, in the unit on Mars, I read that giant meteors hit Mars, which sent pieces of Mars flying into space. Some of these pieces actually landed on earth. I knew this, but this I didn’t know: In the same way that giant meteors sent pieces of Mars to earth, there is a possibility that these meteors sent pieces of earth to Mars. So if they do find life on Mars, there is an explanation!

    It is interesting to read. This could be used as family reading so all can enjoy or as independent reading for upper elementary grades. The writing is not full of jargon that makes many science textbooks so dull and hard to understand. Jeanne writes so that anyone can understand it. She even makes you laugh now and then!

    It is fun! After you read the lesson, there are oral questions to answer, writing assignments, and hands-on projects such as making a rocket or a compass. The projects are easy to do; the supplies needed truly are “household products,” and there is a complete listing of supplies needed in the front that you can print out as a shopping list.

The only complaint I have is that it is out of date. It was published in 2004. With science, you need constant updates. However, she has remedied this by including a Course Web site where you can get updated information, corrections to the text, links to other interesting Web sites that will enhance learning, a printable notebook template for the kids to complete (love this!), and even more activities to do! Maybe out of date isn’t too bad!

The Exploring Creation with. . . series currently includes Exploring Creation with Botany, Exploring Creation with Zoology (Volume 1 covers Flying Creatures, Volume 2 covers Swimming Creatures, and Volume 3 covers Land Animals - all following the seven days of creation.)

Exploring Creation with Botany follows the same framework as the others, but some of the unique features are a focus on Latin words, an introduction to careers in botany, and an introduction to taxonomy. There is also a printable notebook template available and many fun activities!

Exploring Creation with Zoology again follows the same format as above. There is also a printable notebook template and a set of printable flash cards available for Volume 1, which is the volume I have for review. Volume 1 introduces the field of zoology and Binomial Nomenclature. This course thoroughly covers birds and insects. Some of the fun activities include a Nature Scavenger Hunt, making your own field guide, building a bird feeder, mapping bird migration, making an ant farm, and raising butterflies.

For those of you who like the work already done for you, I can’t think of a better way to teach science in the elementary grades than by using this series of books. HIGHLY recommended.

Exploring the World of Mathematics by John Hudson Tiner.

Since I was taking College Algebra last semester, I picked up the book, Exploring the World of Mathematics, to read in order to supplement my understanding of math. Great choice! Not only did I learn more about mathematic principles but I learned more about the history of math, how math applies to everyday life, and even how math is used in scriptures!

I suggest that sometime during your child's 5th-8th grade years, you go through each chapter with him - maybe as a summer course or one day a week on Friday. Most kids will like the book, too, as it teaches them how to solve logic problems that can fool their friends! Like this one: Have your friend secretly choose a number from one to ten. Tell him to add six to the number, double the results, and divide his answer by four. Next subtract half of the original number. When he is done, you can tell him what his number is 100% of the time. You'll have to read the book to find out how!

Exploring World History and Exploring American History by Ray Notgrass.

Exploring World History comes in two volumes: Part I - Creation through the Middle Ages and Part II - The Renaissance to the Present. These are huge, spiral-bound volumes (900+ pages) that are created for use in high school but could be adapted for use with all your children in a multi-level setting.

The companion volume In Their Words, Original Documents, Poetry, Stories, and Hymns from World History is one of my favorite parts of the Exploring World History curriculum. In this volume, Mr. Notgrass has compiled a selection of "original resources from world history that range from the Code of Hammurabi around 1750 BC to speeches by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. It includes significant documents, speeches, excerpts from books, poems, short stories, fables, and fairy tales. A special feature are many hymns from 200 AD to the twentieth century."

For example, during the lesson on the French Revolution, you'll be reading A Tale of Two Cities as a family read-aloud which you started at the beginning of the unit. During this particular lesson, you will also read 'The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen' from In Their Words. I like the way Mr. Notgrass incorporates historical documents with historical fiction, the best of both worlds - your kids will enjoy learning!

Exploring American History comes in two huge volumes also (700+ pages): Volume I - Columbus to Reconstruction and Volume II - Late 1800s to the Present. Again these could be used for several years in a multi-level environment. In addition to the American History textbooks, you will also read from A Documentary History of the United States which includes documents, speeches, and letters from American history, The World's Greatest Speeches, and 100 Great American Poems.

Another feature I like in both curriculums is the writing assignments. For example, during the lesson on The New Deal in Exploring American History, you will read the lesson in the textbook, read Franklin Roosevelt's Inaugural Address in The World's Greatest Speeches, begin To Kill A Mockingbird, and work on a writing assignment from a list of choices (example: Do some research and write a two-page biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.) You would have to adapt this assignment for younger children - perhaps using the "Famous Person" form on my website. The World History curriculum also includes a Nation Project assignment where your student chooses one country on which to research and write throughout the course of the study along with or instead of the other assignments. Grammar points are also included with each lesson, but this will not take the place of a grammar curriculum. It is a good review, however.

The text of both curriculums is written in a prose style that is easy to read, similar to the Apologia Science style. The World History text is easier on the eyes as it is larger print; however, the print on the American History is adequate for you younger folks! Black and white photos and maps are interspersed throughout the text to add interest. The only thing that could make this better (however more expensive) would be color.

For those of you who use tests and quizzes, he offers an optional Quiz & Exam Book for each curriculum. I highly recommend purchasing these also, even to those of you who do not use tests, as they are wonderful resources for discussion questions after each lesson.

The literature list in both curriculums is excellent; however, some of it is too difficult for primary-aged children. If you are teaching all grade levels, you may want to substitute something else for family reading when the assigned book is not appropriate for your younger children. Then have your older children read the assigned reading on their own.

Scripture lessons are also included, along with questions related to the reading. This curriculum is written from a Christian point of view which makes it especially good for families who want to incorporate Bible with their history studies.

For those of you with high school students, this could be used as a self-directed study for students who are motivated to work on their own.

Each of these curriculums would be excellent resources to use along with my Multi-level Planning Guide for History.

Famous Figures of Ancient Times by Cathy Diez-Luckie.

If you have a child who enjoys putting on plays or making moveable action figures, you HAVE to get this resource! The book includes 20 figures to cut, color and assemble. You can then use the figures to tell stories of ancient cultures including Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. A brief biographical note explains a little about each character to get you started. Cathy is a published airbrush artist and these figures are EXCEPTIONAl! Figures in motion Web site.

Hands of a Child.

Are you looking for a quick, easy & fun way to teach history and science? Then check out the kits at Hands of a Child. Each kit becomes a colorful, lap book made of file folders and construction paper that illustrates what your child has learned during the unit. Each kit comes with a lesson plan and printable masters. You supply paper, file folders, brads, and glue. All you have to do is copy the masters, cut out, and then have your children complete the lessons. You can even buy a kit already printed - all you do is cut out and teach!

The lessons are written from a Christian perspective and include biographies, literature, state history, science, and history. Topics range from the Human Body to Wireless Communication to the French Revolution. Each lesson is multi-level so you can use it, as is, for several grade levels or you can adapt it for PreK-12. All of the newer kits come with a study guide which gives you all the factual information you need to complete the lesson as well. For the older kits, you will need to research the factual information yourself using a textbook, encyclopedia, or the internet.

For example, In the North Carolina State history unit, your child learns state facts, geography, climate, government, economy, people, religion, important dates, major cities, colleges and universities, wildlife, and vocabulary of the state through reading of the text included. They reinforce this learning by completing "projects" that go with each lesson and are added to the folder as they progress. When completed, the folder is easy to store and makes great "memory book" of your child's school years.

These kits are perfect to use along with The Checklist and highly recommended for the Read/Write and Visual Learner or any child who likes to make booklets, color, cut out and paste. To see samples, prices, and how to order, please check the website.

Hands-On Math Projects With Real-Life Applications by Judith A. Muschla and Gary Robert Muschla.

This is a must-have resource for all home school families! The book includes 60 lesson plans that reinforce math concepts and make learning math interesting and fun. Most important, it gives students a reason for learning math!

The lessons easily integrate into other class work including science, social studies, language arts, music, art, sports, recreation, and life skills. Itís perfect for those who enjoy doing unit studies!

It was written for students in grades 6-12; however, it can be adapted to younger grades depending on interests and abilities.

How I would use it in a home school setting:

Home school parents can skim through most of the introductory materials that addresses classroom strategies. However, be sure to read over pages 24-42, which includes directions for writing in the math class, an outline of the basic writing process, ideas for using the Internet in math class, and assessment guidelines and forms.

Although each lesson discusses group activities and oral presentations, itís very easy to adapt these lessons to a home school setting. The projects can easily be done individually and written reports are sufficient. If you choose to have your child do an oral presentation, he or she can perform for family members and friends or in a support group or co-op setting.

I would recommend using the lessons in this book, as needed, as part of a unit study; on a once-a-month or once-a-week basis instead of a regular math and composition class; or as needed to work on a particular math concept.

Some of the lesson plans included are:

1. Math and Science: What is the Weather?, Designing a Flower Bed

2. Math and Social Studies: A Great Mathematician, Creating a Scale Map

3. Math and Language: Fictional Numbers-Writing a Story, Rating Math Web Sites

4. Math and Art: I Wanna Be Like Escher, Designing a Quilt Pattern

5. Math and Music: Numbers and Songs, The Math in Music

6. Math and Sports: Choosing a Membership Plan at a Health Club, Comparing Sports Superstar

7. Math and Recreation: Going on Vacation

8. Math and Life Skills: Making a Budget, Buying a Car, The Costs of Pets

Sample lesson: The Geometry and Art of Architecture

Students are directed to do research at the library and online to find examples of interesting architecture. A suggested list of buildings is included or you might select a structure that is related to a topic you are studying, such as a castle for medieval history or the Eiffel Tower for the country of France. Students are to examine their structures for examples of geometry such as angles, polygons, three-dimensional shapes, symmetry, and parallel or perpendicular lines. They are to draw the structure on poster paper and then label the geometric forms. Finally, they are instructed to write a report about the selected structure, which includes background information on the building as well as a summary of the geometry it represents.

Sample lesson: The Benefits of Recycling

In this lesson, students are instructed to research the benefits recycling offers to people, companies and the environment. After they gather the information, they must analyze it and draw conclusions about the benefits of recycling based on facts. They are to explain their conclusions in a written summary and illustrate with graphs, charts, tables or posters. They must also include a list of resources used in bibliographical format. After the lesson, a visit to a recycling center is suggested. It would also be a good time to start your own recycling projects, such as recycling glass or paper.

Hands-On Math Projects is well worth the investment in time and money. It will stimulate your childís interest in math, as well as reinforce logic and writing skills. This review is based on the 2nd edition for grades 6-12.

History Through the Ages by Amy Pak

I love Timeline products and this one did NOT disappoint! On a scale of 1 to 5, this is definitely a 5! Amy has created a resource that can be used throughout your homeschooling career that will help you and your children make sense of history. And if you've never used a timeline, this one makes it very easy to get started. Everything you need is available from one resource.

First, the History Through the Ages Record of Time notebook. This is georgeous! The timeline pages are printed on heavy stock so they won't tear out easily and your timeline pieces won't see through the back of the page. These pages are then inserted into a 3-ring notebook (about 13' wide by 9" high) with a beautiful, full color, hard-bound cover, making this easy to store and something that will last a long, long time. Also, included are 17 maps of the ancient and modern worlds..

Second, the Timeline Pieces. The timeline pieces are purchased in sets (Creation to Christ, Resurrection to Revolution, Napoleon to Now, and America's History). They are printed on white paper, complete with a picture and a short description of the piece. Children who like to color, can color the pieces which will make your book even more colorful. The CD gives you the option to print the pieces with or without the descriptive text and in both wall and notebook size!

Last, the Suggested Placement Guide. One of the most helpful features of this set is the placement guide. This shows you where to place your timeline pieces so that all of them will fit in your notebook. Without this, you may have trouble as you create your book. If you place the timeline pieces in the wrong place, then later when you go to add others, you may find there is no space to squeeze in a piece that needs to go between two previously placed pieces.

Now you may be thinking, "that's is a lot of money to spend on a timeline" but let me assure you that it will be money well spent. How many textbooks do you buy that last for 12+ years? Or that will be used by the whole family? And that will be a treasured memory book of your homeschool days? This timeline is all that, as well as a tool that will help you teach your children the history of the world and demonstrate how these historical events work together to tell God's Story.

Hold That Thought

If you have a child who is a visual and loves maps, charts, and graphs or if you're looking for a simple way to teach the US states, you'll love this curriculum. It comes on a CD and is made up of worksheets that are in pdf format (free Acrobat Reader software is used to print them out.) Simple print out the worksheets on your printer, 3-hole punch, and place in a binder. You can print the cover of a color cover stock or have your child create his/her own cover.

The worksheets cover all 50 states. Students have to do their own research to complete these worksheets. When your child is done, he will have learned where each state is located in the US, and each state's major cities, abbreviations, state symbols, average precipitation, highest and lowest point, time zone, and population. He will also learn about each state's natural resources, write a timeline of major events for each state, and discover what to see and do in each state.

After your child has learned about each state individually, he will learn something about the US as a whole. He will learn about the regions of the US, the time zones, largest and smallest state, largest city, longest river, largest lake, largest desert, highest and lowest point, and hottest and coldest temperatures. He will write the National Anthem, color the US presidential seal, identify and color the National bird and flower, write the Pledge of Allegiance, write the incription from the Liberty Bell and Statue of Liberty, color the flag, and identify major landmarks in the US. A vocabulary list is also included.

After he has learned about the states and the US, your child will write down his perfect vacation and map it on a US map. A great way to review!

Finally, there is a test at the end. (I normally don't like tests but I love this one!) Your child has to identify outlines of each state and write in its capitol. Then he has to look at several US maps where the boundary lines are messed up and fix them. For example, the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas may be missing so the child has to draw the boundary back in.

I highly recommend this resource for grades 1-6. I recommend teaching from this for two or three weeks each year, selecting worksheets that would be suitable for your child at that age. The next year, review what you learned last year and add a little more. If you did this each year from grades 1 through 6, they would be well educated in US geography by time they reach 7th grade. The other alternative would be to teach it one year. I would recommend teaching a one-year course in 4th, 5th or 6th grade.

For more information or to order: http://www.holdthatthought.com/

Homeschool Psych: Preparing Christian Homeschool Students for Psych 101 by Dr. Tim Rice

As many of you know, I am currently in college and also have a child in college. What I am learning is not just academics, but also the effect of college on our Christian students. I've watched first-hand as MOST of our own church kids go to college and then begin to struggle with their faith. Many are leaving it behind altogether. What I have learned from this is that our kids not only need to have an excellent academic and Biblical education, but we must also equip them to live and work in the secular world, as well. Don't shelter your child from the theories of the world and then send them to college (or work) where they hear them for the first time. Instead, introduce these theories while they are home with you in the context of your Christian worldview.

Many of you already do that with history, science, and literature. Now, there's a way to do that for Psychology. If your child is going to college, it is extremely likely that they will have to take Psychology 101. Thanks to Dr. Time Rice, there is now a way to prepare them for it, while they are at home with you.

The goal of this textbook is to help prepare Christian homeschool students for college-level, introductory psychology. The course comprises two parts. Part I teaches the history and background of psychology and why it needs to be taught in a Christian worldview. Dr. Rice also gives examples of how the study of psychology can be used to serve God in the world of mental health care, business, child care, marriage counseling, missions, and more.

Part II includes an overview of key concepts commonly taught in an introductory psychology class. This is the fun part! Your student will learn all about the brain, the nervous system, personality, and the theories of many famous psychologists. Part of the lessons include researching these psychologists to find out about their worldview and how it affected their theories - a real eye opener! A workbook is included with excellent, thought-provoking questions to answer that will lead the student to an understanding of psychology from a Christian worldview so that he or she will be prepared to intelligently discuss psychology in a secular classroom.

Dr. Rice realizes that Christians have varying views of psychology and is careful to avoid pushing his opinion on the student. His goal is only to introduce the student to what they will learn in a college classroom. Therefore, he keeps his opinions out and allows the parents to teach it in the context of their own views. As he says, " It is not the purpose of this text to settle any arguments between Christians."

I highly recommend this textbook for students preparing for college. Document this course on page 170 of The Checklist. For more information on Dr. Rice and Homeschool Psych, visit his Web site.

It Wasn't Much: True Tales of Ten Oklahoma Heroes by Jana Hausburg.

Although It Wasn't Much is recommended for juvenile readers, I thoroughly enjoyed it myself. It makes learning history as easy as eating fudge! The stories are short and easy to read, but they are packed with adventure, heroic exploits, historical facts, and inspiration. There are ten biographies of not-so-well known Oklahoma heroes such as Rosemary Hogan who was a nurse during World War I in the Philippines and a POW, Fern Holland, an Oklahoma Cherokee, who joined the Peace Corp and was killed while serving in Iraq; Rufino Rodrigues who rescued 150 miners at the risk of his own life; and Robbie Risner, from Tulsa, who kept up the morale of his fellow Vietnam POWs from the time he was captured in 1965 until the time he was released in 1973.

Included in each chapter is more information about the setting of the story, definitions of difficult terms, suggestions for additional reading, a list of Internet resources related to the topic, and a list of places to visit in Oklahoma that compliment the story. And finally, on the Web site, there are additional pages of study resources, discussion questions, writing exercises, and teacher resources. A lot for your money! For more information or to purchase, see the publisher's Web site: Forty-Sixth Star Press.

KitBook: Electric Circuits by Ed Basconi and David M. Jones

Calling all Kinethetic learners! Here's a product that offers hands-on fun as well as thoughtful instruction. The kit contains everything you need, including the batteries. The instruction book is clear and easy to read. It contains nine different lab experiments that are completed with the attached "power Page" and included components.

I had a terrific time building a lamp, a buzzer, and a simple circuit. I then experimented with conductors, insulators, switches, circuits in a series, parallel circuits, and electromagnets. The components were first class and I loved the way you simply "snapped in" the components on the "power page." No wires to cut and no soldering. And, because the components are snapped in, you can use the kit over and over again!

The Student Workbook contains eight chapter reviews composed of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and essay-type questions. I like the fact that the students have to actually learn something to complete the reviews. I can see why this won a Parents' Choice Award!

I recommend that you use this kit with page 163 of The Checklist. This kit would also make a wonderful Christmas or birthday gift.

For more info, visit their Web site.

Knowlege Box Central Lapbooks

Astronomy Lapbook. For those who enjoy lapbooking, this resource is a must! The completed lapbook is made up of file folder covers and 27 booklets inside. Directions are included for creating the lapbook and what information each of the 27 booklets should contain. For example, there are booklets for writing the definition of a light year, what a sun spot is, biographical information about Galileo, vocabulary words, and moon phases. There is also a booklet for illustrating the solar system and one on space shuttle disasters. There's even a word search template! Very thorough coverage of astronomy that will work well with any astronomy curriculum.

Additonal Lapbooks titles are available including topics in history, Bible, geography, science, math, literature, and home economics, as well as lapbooks that go along with the American Girls series. In addition to the Astronomy lapbook, I was sent an Egypt lapbook and the Exploring Creation with Zoology, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day to review.

In the Swimming Creatures lapbook, the instructions not only include what information to write on the booklets, but also where to find the answers in the Apologia textbook - nice feature for mom and dad! This lapbook was created to go along with the Apologia series. Other titles in this series are available.

The Egypt Lapbook was my favorite. The instruction book not only included instructions for putting the lapbook together, but detailed information about Egypt to read. There is no need for another textbook!

The layout in both Swimming and Egypt were better than the layout in the Astronomy booklet - the colors were “happier,” the choice of artwork was more interesting, and the layout looked more professional.

Each lapbook is sold in four different ways: (1) e-book - everything is sent by e-mail. You download the templates and guide book, print it out on your own paper, and provide your own file folders; (2) CD - same as e-book except on CD; (3) Do-it-Yourselfer - Purchaser received printed templates, file folders, and a printed guidebook in mail, purchaser must assemble; and (4) Pre-assembled - everything cut out and assembled, ready to write in. Comes with printed guide.

I would heartily recommend these lapbooks for children who love making booklets and enjoy writing. And when you're done, you'll have wonderful memory-books of your child's learning that you'll enjoy for years to come!

NOTE: I would not recommend these for children who do not enjoy cutting, pasting and/or writing. (Although a work-around would be for them to type on the little booklets before gluing them in the folder. You would; however, need a regular typewriting as the formatting would be difficult on a computer.)

Learning with the Movies.

If you do unit studies or just like to enrich your homeschool program with videos, you have to have this book by Beth Holland! This is another resource I discovered at the OCHEC convention and immediately purchased.

Learning with the Movies includes a listing of cinema movies and made-for-TV movies. The beauty of this guide is that all the movies are organized chronologically beginning with Bible Times and Ancient Egypt through 1900's. If you are doing a study on Rome, simple look through the section on Ancient Rome! For instance, in the Rome section, she has included Ben-Hur, Demetrius and the Gladiator, fall of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar, Jupiter's Darling, Quo Vadis?, The Robe, Sign of the Pagan (about Attila the Hun), and Spartacus. There is also some blank space for you to list additional movies as you find them.

Finally, she has also included movies related to the Music/Arts (example: The Agony and the Ecstasy which is about Michelangelo), Biographies (example: Abe Lincoln in Illinois), Sports (example: Brian's Song), Science/Nature (example: Apollo 13), Horses (example: Miracle of the White Stallions), Medicine (example: The Girl in White), Literature (example: A Christmas Carol), Holidays (example: Miracle on 34th Street), and Family Films (just plain fun).

Each movie listing includes its production date, Beth's star rating, and the parental guidance rating (PG, G, etc). An alphabetical listing is in the back of the book. Highly recommended for the visual and auditory learner.

Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers

Barbara Frank says that, Life Prep for Homeschool Teenagers is a "parent-friendly curriculum for teaching teenagers to live as morally and financially responsible adults." That is exactly what it is; and, how I wish it had been available for my own children!

The spiral-bound, 100-page book includes lessons for the work-bound as well as the college-bound teenager. It teaches them life skills by having your teen read, research, and complete real-life projects that are related to the concept being studied. By the time your teen completes the curriculum, he will have had hands-on practice in buying a car, getting a loan, purchasing car insurance, learning about credit cards (the good, bad, and ugly!), purchasing health insurance, renting an apartment, grocery shopping, paying utilities, buying a home, paying taxes, and keeping a budget. For college-bound teens, there is also a project on college applications and writing the college essay.

Here's an example of one of the projects. For the Rent Project, you child has to look up rentals in the newspaper, but not just in your own town, but also in several other areas. After your child completes his research on rent, deposits, late fees, amenities, etc., then he must create a comparison chart of his findings and discover for himself what the best deal is. I love how Barbara not only requires the student to research the information, but the student must also create lists, charts, graphs, etc. to discover where and how to get the best deal.

An excellent reading list of books recommended for teenagers is included, along with ways to evaluate your student's reading assignments. The books on the list cover dating, personal living, money, investing, and the working world. If you have a slow reader and/or a child who does not plan on attending college, I recommend using Barbara's reading list as your child's literature requirement, rather than having them read Shakespeare and the like. It will be much more beneficial to his life.

If I had had this book when my children were a teenagers, it would have saved hours of time locating resources and planning curriculum to teach these topics. Your child needs this type of real-life education in order to be successful, whether he goes to college or not, and Barbara provides an easy way to get it. I highly recommend Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers for every homeschool family.

Magnify: The Complete New Testament for Kids by Tommy Nelson

Whenever moms ask me what I recommend for Bible Study, I always tell them to just read the Bible to their kids. What could be better than the straight Word of God?

When I first started homeschooling in 1981, I had also just become a Christian after 30 years of atheism. Not only was I hungry for the Word, but I wanted my children to learn about God at an early age.

I didn't know there was such as thing as Bible curriculum, so part of our homeschool was to read through the Bible together, beginning at Genesis and going all way through to Revelation. Every morning, I read another chapter to the kids, who were then 4 & 5. Little did I know I would have to discuss sex as part of our Bible reading! (I figured if God wrote then He must have wanted us to discuss it - which we did!) In my ignorance, by reading God's Word straight through, not only did we learn about God's Word, but it also opened up the opportunity for us to freely talk about many subjects that are often hard to talk about.

Perhaps, you'd rather not get into some of those "deeper" topics right off the bat! Here's what I would recommend. There is a brand new Bible out called, Magnify: The Complete New Testament for Kids by Tommy Nelson. It's the complete New Testament written in an easy-to-understand translation just for kids along with cute, colorful illustrations, a pair of fun Decoder Glasses to use as part of the reading program, and short games and quizzes. A really fun way to learn about God. I highly recommend it.

Math-U-See, Gamma

(Reviewed by Joetta Wilson) Chaney has been using the Gamma book because I wasn't happy with her inability to remember her  multiplication table.  We really struggled but she never learned it well or understood it.  We started using the Math U See book so we could start over and try a different method.  I love the way the students are taught with the DVD lessons and that they use the manipulative blocks so that they can see as well as hear why they do things a certain way. The lessons are short and only cover the subject they work on in the workbook, so the kids don't get bored sitting through them or confused by being rushed into another subject too soon.   The teacher really knows how to explain the theory in an easy to understand language. I've already seen some understanding taking place where I think she struggled.  I am completely sold on this math and will be using it from now on. Reviewed by Joetta Wilson and family. Highly recommended for the kinethetic, auditory, and visual learner.

Math-U-See, Pre-Algebra

(Reviewed by Joetta Wilson) As for Kalie, this has been a lifesaver.  She is using the Pre-Algebra book.  She actually enjoys her math lessons now.  I don't hear her mumble about having to do it and how hard it is.  In fact, after she watched one of the lessons, she got up and told me, "Why couldn't someone explain it to me like that before?  I understand it now."  That was what completely sold me on this math product.  Shandra is upset that we didn't have this for her because she really struggled through Algebra and never did completely understand it.  I think I will be getting the Algebra for her to do again, maybe this time she will learn something useful and understand things. Reviewed by Joetta Wilson and family. Highly recommended for the kinethetic, auditory, and visual learner.

Media Literacy Grade 6 — A Necessary Subject!

Advertising is everywhere! The average one-hour television show now has 18 minutes of advertising. Corporations spend millions of dollars on TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, Internet and even video game ads. Millions more are spent on hiring advertising professionals. According to Occupational Outlook, the median income for advertising and promotions managers in 2006 was $98,720 per year. These advertising professionals spend years in college studying marketing, consumer behavior, market research, sales, communication methods, technology, and visual arts. By time they graduate, they are well trained to write convincing advertisements!

With all this media aimed at selling products and services that people may or may not need, parents and teachers require resources to teach children to understand the media, how media affects them, and how to recognize the persuasive power of the media.

Teacher Created Materials has just released a teaching resource called, Media Literacy. This mini-course covers the major forms of media, how media affects people, persuasive techniques of media, and propaganda. It provides students a brief overview of advertising in print, radio, television, magazines, billboards, music, video games, product placement, packaging, newspapers, art, and Web sites. Worksheets direct the student to examine the advertising method and then answer questions.

For instance, in Media Literacy, Grade 5, a magazine ad is featured. After studying the ad, students answer questions that relate to the type and purpose of ad, media tricks, and hidden messages.

If you're looking for an educational product that will help you teach your children media literacy, I recommend that you check this one out. TCM offers several different grade levels of this product. I recommend choosing the grade level that corresponds to the highest level of your children and use it for all of them as a multi-level study.

Nature Portfolio Throughout the Year by Barbara Shukin.

I loved this resource as soon as I opened the package! Nature Portfolio Throughout the Year by Barbara Shukin is perfect for those of us who enjoy nature and creating memory albums. The product is well made and should last a lifetime with care.

Shukin wrote the course for 6-10 year olds, but I would recommend it for any child who likes this type of learning. Although it is an introductory science course, it could be used to provide enrichment activities for older students. The goal is to complete 1-2 pages a week, but any time frame could be used.

The book is divided into four sections according to the seasons. The seasons are then divided into ecosystems: Yards and Gardens, Woods and Fields, Ponds and Streams, Desert Lands, and Along the Seashore.

You can purchase the suggested nature guides or use an encyclopedia or library books to complete the course. A field guide is highly recommended for outdoor exploration.

Although Shukin has prepared a teacher's guide for the book, many of you, like me, will go off on your own tangent! And that's exactly what she wants us to do! Just for fun, here's how I would use the book

    I would use it three times a week for science class during one semester and spend 60-90 minutes each class. I would choose one season out of the book to do a year and save the rest for another year. Each of my lessons would include the following activities and would be in place of any other science.

    I would make a list of the animals and plants being studied for the semester and carry it in my purse for reference.

    On Day 1 of the lesson, I would take the family for a hike, go to the zoo or natural science museum and view the subjects of the semester up close.

    I would have the kids take photos of, draw, and/or write about the animals that we looked at.

    On Day 2 and each subsequent day, I would read, as a family, a children's book or nature guide article about the subject(s) being studied that day. For older kids, recommend some other books that they can read on their own. Search Amazon.com for ideas ahead of time. (Limit to 5-10 minutes family reading time.)

    As a family, we would do an internet search for online resources about the subjects. Use search terms like "millipede and crafts" or "millipede and color page." Add other filters like "facts," "webquest," "online activity," "recipe," or "worksheet." Give assignments to each child based on what comes up in this search. Do some as a family or assign individually. (Limit to 20 minutes family time.)

    Complete the picture part of the page using Shukin's included illustrations. For kids who would rather create their own, they could use their drawings and photos from the field trip or search the internet for other illustrations to use instead of the ones provided. (Limit to 10 minutes family time.)

    Insert the appropriate writing form for the day and complete the writing assignment as Shukin suggested, or for your creative child, have them write their own text, story, or poem. For younger children or children who have difficulty writing, I would have them dictate to me what they want to say. (Limit to 10 minutes family time.)

    Anytime during the semester that I saw anything related to our subjects such as TV shows, movies, magazine articles, etc., I would integrate that in the lessons.

    On the last day of the semester, I would take another hike, go to the zoo or natural science museum and enjoy looking at more of the subjects studied during the semester. Have a picnic, celebrate, buy your children a game or puzzle related to a subject as a reward for a job well done.

Warning: This is not a course that homeschoolers who prefer traditional curriculum will enjoy. I recommend this for creative, eclectic homeschoolers who like to do their own thing.

But, for those like me, I'm positive you will enjoy using this book as the basis of a family study in nature. And when you're done, be sure to check off the topics in The Checklist. This is a perfect resource for those of you who own The Checklist!

Old Mummy

Play Old Mummy to learn about the gods, symbols, and art of Ancient Egypt. The game is played like either Old Maid or Concentration. Each card includes a full color photo and a brief fact about an ancient Egyptian object. The cards are printed on high quality, plastic-coated cardstock so it should hold up well for many years of use. A mini book of Ancient Egypt facts is included along with the deck of card; and all are stored in a beautifully-illustrated tin can. (My personal opinion is that I wouldn't want to spend that much time learning about all their gods, but it is a beautiful game.)

Also available is a beautiful, clear plastic ruler which color images of hieroglyphs imprinted on it. This would make a nice reward for a job well done! Published by Birdcage Books and available online through their website (www.BirdcageBooks.com).

Oklahoma Land Run, The by Una Belle Townsend. Illustrated by Emile Henriquez.

One of the best ways to get children interested in studying history is to read them age-appropriate, historical fiction. This gives children a context through which they can better understand historical events.

The Oklahoma Land Run by Una Belle Townsend provides such a context for a study of the Oklahoma Land Run of 1889. The book is about nine-year-old boy, Jesse, who must drive the family's wagon in the big Land Run race because his father has injured his arm. Children will relate to Jesse's courage, fears, and resourcefulness as he undertakes a tough mission for the good of the family. Throughout the story, readers are introduced to just enough facts about the Land Run and Oklahoma to excite interest in learning more. Best of all, the illustrations are absolutely delightful, making this book a joy to read for both young and old. A must-have book for those of you teaching Oklahoma HIstory, as well as for parents who are looking for enjoyable children's literature that also teaches.

On the Banks of Durbin Creek: It's Bedtime for Bunnies by Loretta Hayward.

I don't usually review many fiction books, but this one caught my eye and I just have to share it with you. Loretta, a homeschool mom, raises bunnies - as a matter of fact, she currently has 120 bunnies! And these bunnies are the subject of her book, "It's Bedtime for Bunnies." Loretta takes photos of her "dressed up" bunnies sleeping in beds, playing in gardens, and interacting with each other just as the bunnies in the Peter Rabbit books do. Only this time it's photos instead of drawings. And the photos are just plain adorable! The text is in poetry style, easy to read, and tells how mother bunny watches over her baby bunnies just as the Lord watches over us. A delightful book that everyone who loves animals will enjoy. Recommended for all ages. Check out her Web site for her bunny-photo greeting cards, too!

Principles of Physics by Kinetic Books.

I never like physics and I still don't; but, if I had to teach physics, this is the resource I would use. Principles of Physics is a CD that you install on your computer. Each lesson is presented on an html page that you read on the computer; but, the neat thing for auditory-visual learners like me is that you click on a simulation and it explains the concept using sound and animations. This is what makes this program worth it for me. I have trouble understanding physics - probably always will - but with the added dimension of sound and animations, I know I could master the subject if I worked at it. For those of you with children who are science-oriented, I think this would inspire them to learn even more because it does use all the senses.

The program was easy to install and set up. And the cost? Amazingly cheap - only $39.95. You can't beat that for a physics course. I give this a 5 star rating! Kinetic Books offers three versions of their physics courses: Conceptual Physics is for students taking a first course in high school physics. It is algebra-based. Principles of Physics is designed for high school students who want to take the physics AP/B exam.Physics for Scientists and Engineers is a calculus-based, college-level physics course. For more info, visit their website.

The Rainbow Curriculum by Durell C. Dobbins

Studying physics and other science topics is fun using The Rainbow curriculum written by Durell C. Dobbins. It's written for junior high but you can use it with other ages with some adaptation. Read the lessons together as a family. Do the lab work as a family.

Everything you need for lab is included in the kit and I mean everything including the goggles. Kids love the goggles! You don't have to rummage through the house looking for the usual “household items.”

The equipment comes packed in two plastic containers stored in a cardboard box. It also comes with a diagram that explains what everything is which is a big help for those of us who are bit illiterate when it comes to identifying science equipment (that's me).

The lab directions were simple to follow. The textbook is colorful and written in an easy-to-read prose. The teacher's manual provides daily lesson plans, answer keys, and occasional field trip ideas.

I would highly recommend this for those of you who want a complete, Christian-based science with lab in a kit. Year 1 covers physics and chemistry with lab, Year 2 covers biology and applied science with lab. The teacher's manual recommends science three days per week, two days for the lesson and one day for the lab. I like the three day schedule, too.

Real Science 4 Kids

Many of the homeschooling moms I know have trouble with science. I think it's a girl thing - in general, girls don't like science and math as much as reading and history. Consequently, much of the emphasis in homeschooling seems to be on history and reading.

However, you must remember that you may be raising the next Isaac Newton or Thomas Edison; therefore, it's important to expose your children to science at an early age.

Up until recently, however, there was not much out there for homeschoolers in the way of easy-to-teach science. Most of it was written in boring textbooks and required a lot of fancy, expensive equipment. But now, there are a variety of choices, even for the little ones. One of my favorites that I've been playing with this summer is Dr. Keller's Pre-Level Chemistry (Real Science 4 Kids series).

To see how I've used this with my granddaughter, who was 6 at the time, check out my blogs: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/EmptyNestMom/554/ and http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/EmptyNestMom/2957/. I wasamazed at how much she caught on to Chemistry at that age! And it's easy to understand which makes it easy for me to teach. I highly recommend this curriculum. For more information, visit the Real Science Web site.

The Star-Spangled State Book and The Star-Spangled Workbook by Joel F. King.

Sometime in elementary school, you'll want to teach your children about the 50 states. The Star-Spangled Workbook and State Book will help you do just that. During the first 18 weeks, your child will learn a little bit about each state and its location on the US map. During the second 18 weeks, your child will learn the state capitals, the postal abbreviation of each state, and what states border each state.

The method involved is reading information in the Workbook (or the State Book) about each state, completing a worksheet related to the lesson, and playing a "Geoquiz" that will reinforce what the child has learned.

The course consists of the Workbook and the State Book (which contains a color version of the workbook as well as 15 additinal pages of resources for learning about the states). You can buy these separately or together at a discount. (You could teach the course without the State Book but the color makes it much more interesting and you do get a few more quizzes and learning resources). A reproducible CD is included with the Workbook so that you can print as many copies of the Workbook as you need for your family. Note: This will not take the place of your state study usually required in 4th, 8th, and 10th grade.

Science Adventures by Treasure Box Press.

I am very impressed with this kit and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who enjoy unit studies. It is a unit study without all the work it normally takes to find everything. Each kit comes with everything needed to do the whole unit with the exception of tape, scissors, glue, etc; in other words everything home school parents should already have on hand. This kit can be used either by itself or alongside your regular curriculum as an added tool. Chaney has really enjoyed doing this unit on stars and constellations because she is a hand-on child and learns more by using all her senses. I usually have to drag her to do her science, but since Science Adventures is so hands-on, she actually enjoys science now. Reviewed by Joetta Wilson and family.

Signs & Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy by Jay Ryan.

My first impression when I picked up this curriculum was - how do I read this? The author uses fonts and text that emulate the style of Colonial Almanacks. Those of you who use a Classical method of homeschooling will feel quite at home; however, for those of us who do not, it presents a bit of a challenge. Once you get past the preface, however, a majority of the text is in a modern style.

The purpose of the book is best explained by the author, Jay Ryan: "Unlike other astronomy books, Signs & Seasons is based on the Biblical purpose for which the Sun, Moon, and stars were created - for signs and seasons, days and years - as it is written in Genesis 1:14. Signs & Seasons includes extensive Bible quotes from classic authors - philosophers, poets, and historians, Christian and secular alike. . . The purpose of Signs & Seasons is to help the reader become an observer of the celestial bodies and to understand the clockwork of the heavens."

The book covers:

- why the stars rise and set
- the motion of the planets and the moon among the stars,
- the reasons for the seasons
- the names of the principal constellations
- why they seem to change with the seasons.

There are seven chapters with black and white drawings and an appendix. The appendix includes suggestions for further reading, astronomical tables, brief biographies of quoted authors "with an emphasis on their relevance to calssical astronomy," a glossary, and field activities. The section on field activities offers ideas on creating a field journal, as well as many hands-on activities that will make the unit much more meaningful. For instance, in Chapter 1, you will create a backyard compass which will be used throughout the year for observing the skies. There are also instructions on how to sketch the earth's rotation, and the sun's daily motion. A globe activity helps students understand the geocentric and heliocentric theory. Directions for creating a volvelle to illustrate the daily motion of the sun are included as well as a journal entry suggestion for a classical astronomy timeline. Also included is a pair of Eclipse Shades for safe solar viewing.

Personally, I found the quotes mixed in with the text confusing and the information more in depth than I would have taught based on my own children's learning styles and interests. However, I would heartily recommend this book to those who enjoy the Classical method of homeschooling as well as those who desire to give their children an in-depth look at astronomy from a Biblical perspective.

I don't think there is another curriculum out there like this, so it would be well worth your time to check it out and see if it will meet a need in your homeschool.

Review of The Story of Science by Joy Hakim

This review covers three textbooks in the series: Aristotle Leads the Way, Newton at the Center, and Einstein Adds a New Dimension.

This curriculum takes students from 400 B.C. through the year 2000 by studying the lives, culture and work of famous scientists including Pythagoras, Archimedes, Aristotle, Newton, and Einstein. As the students progress through the series, they create a timeline of historical events and famous people related to their studies. The students create the timeline pieces from their own drawings and graphs.

Each lesson starts out with a lesson summary, a famous quote, goals (what the students will learn), a list of people that will be studied, terms and topics that will be studied, and timeline information. The lesson summary is an excellent explanation of what the students will learn and, unless you are well versed in the subject matter, essential to understanding the material.
This is NOT a self-teaching course. You will need the teachers’ and students’ guides to use this curriculum. The teachers’ guides explain how to use the books and student guides. They provide a supply list, transparency masters, handouts, and quizzes. Suggestions for science fair projects are included in the teachers’ guides, as well as enrichment activities that cover other topics (math, history, geography, language arts, drama, art and music).

The student guide includes fill-in charts, short answer, essay questions, and some diagrams. This is not an easy multiple choice/true false curriculum! Most students will be challenged because of the reasoning, lab activities and assessment methods used in the curriculum. For instance, in Aristotle Leads the Way, students have to compare the cosmology of Pythagoras and Aristotle. In Newton at the Center, students must identify which Law of Motion a particular scenario represents.

The lessons are directed to classroom learning and include a lot of group activities; however, they are easily adapted to a homeschool situation. Most of the supplies needed for the labs are obtainable locally; however, you will need to purchase some basic lab supplies such as bar magnets, spring scales, thermometers, and graduated cylinders that can be purchased online.

This is a secular curriculum. It treats all religions the same and in a literary and historical context. Christian homeschoolers may be offended by statements made in the text that creation stories, including those in the Bible, are considered a myth, as well as by the use of Common Era (B.C.E. and C.E.), rather than B.C. and A.D. The explanation for the usage of Common Era is covered in the beginning of each of the first two books. Christians may want to add supplemental material that explains an alternative viewpoint.

Homeschool parents who want to give their children a challenging, classical, science education; who enjoy a historical approach to teaching science; and who are preparing their children for mathematical and scientific careers will benefit most from this series. I would not recommend it for students with learning difficulties, students who need only a general education in science, or students who have trouble staying on topic. The layout of the books is similar to the Usborne books with lots of sidebars, photos with captions, and graphs interwoven throughout the text. For some students, this type of layout makes it difficult for them to focus. However, students who enjoy lots of pictures, charts, graphs, and sidebars will love it.

If I were still homeschooling, I would enjoy using this curriculum to give my children a historical background on the evolution of scientific thought, introduce them to the scientists and their contributions to science today, and challenge my children’s reasoning skills.

Time Lines, Etc.

Time Lines, Etc. produces time line figures, historical information, games and learning activities for U.S.History, Ancient Civilizations, Middle Ages, Inventions, Old Testament, New Testament, and Learning the Bill of Rights.

If you have children who enjoy coloring, this is the set I would recommend. The figures are line drawings on heavy card stock so they are easy to color with any medium (crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, etc). There are some duplicate pieces that are already colored, although not the complete set. (I would have liked to have seen this complete.)

For kinesthetic kids, there are a variety of ideas included to make learning fun such as: make the figures into puppets, arrange them in chronological order, use a figure as "show and tell," and much more.

You could use the timeline figures as your entire history course. A short historical summary about each piece is included to help you teach about each figure. You can then use library books and the internet to add to this information. Although not as professionally done as the competition, I did enjoy the line art that makes them easier to color. They are a bit cheaper also. For more information, visit their website.

Times Tales Deluxe:

At first glance, I thought this product was going to be confusing; but, after using it awhile, I found it was not. The idea is very good because it helps younger children learn multiplication of higher numbers, something they tend to have trouble learning. When I first examined the examples used, I thought they were a little childish, but considering the age group this is written for, the use of simple, familiar items makes it easier for younger children to relate. I recommend this product on an as-needed basis for additional practice and reinforcement in lower elementary math education. Reviewed by Joetta Wilson and family

TRISMS

According to a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 31 percent of eighth graders and 34 percent of twelfth graders meet the National Assessment of Educational Progress standard of reading 'proficiency' for their grade level. A report entitled, An Examination of College Writing Skills: Have They Deteriorated? describes a study done on writing samples from 1956 to 1993 in which it was shown that "college students' writing ability has declined." A 2007 Cal State University system reports that nearly half of their incoming freshman scored below proficient in English placement tests. Employers complain that their employees can't think for themselves or solve simple problems. These is a serious trend that will affect our country as well as our families. But, as home schoolers, you can do something about it and the TRISMS curriculum is one tool that can help you. They offer several products for grades 6 - 12. Age of Revolution comes in two volumes. The first semester covers 1850 through the 1920s. Semester two covers 1930-2005. This review covers Age of Revolution, Second Semester.

If you are looking for college-preparatory curriculum for high school, look no further. Age of Revolution, Second Semester is a research-based course that covers one semester in high school; however, there is enough material to use for one whole year. When your student completes both semesters of Age of Revolution, your student earns 1 high school credit in US History, 1 credit in Modern World History, 1 credit in Political Science, 1 credit in Modern Humanities, and 1 credit in Literature as well as partial credit in subjects such as Economics, Speech, Rhetoric, and Geography. The teacher's manual includes a sample transcript showing how to award credits.

The topics covered in Age of Revolution, Second Semester, are American presidents, world powers and leaders, wars and battles, Nobel Prize winners, art, music, architecture, rhetoric, and logic. You, as the teacher, can work with your student or the instructions are simple enough that your self-motivated student can work his or her own way through the curriculum.

In the process of working through the curriculum, the student creates a notebook. All the forms for this notebook are included in the set price and can be purchased separately for additional children.

I LOVE this notebook! The student will research the questions on their own using books, magazines, and the Internet. No short answer, T/F, multiple choice on these worksheets! For instance, each lesson includes an American President research form. Your student not only has to find out when he served, what party he belonged to, and who he ran against, but he must also research the president's foreign and domestic policies, the leading social issue of his day, controversies surrounding this president, and even write his or her own opinion about the president's term in office. Other notebook pages include map studies, nobel prize winners, famous people, wars, art, music and architecture. Also included are Rhetoric worksheets for classical learners and a worksheet that assesses the student's overall knowledge of the subject area. Again, this must be researched. For example, in the 1970-1979 worksheet, the student must research Roe vs. Wade, existentialism, the social statement of music in the '70s, Watergate, how Upton Sinclair's book, The Jungle, brought change in government regulations, environmental issues, and much more! Students are also required to create a timeline of events and learn vocabulary relevant to the period.

Your student will read books such as My Antonia, Life on the Mississippi, Out of the Dust, and The Testament. Movie suggestions are also included such as Gods and Generals, Rough Riders, Sgt. York, The Inn of Sixth Happiness, and Apollo 13.

Online research links are included as well. This list of Internet links will help your students with their research and includes links to famous people, art, flags, maps, timelines, as well as audio and video links that relate to the course. And because it is set in our time period, students have an opportunity to interview family members, veterans of various wars, living authors, artists and musicians. As the author says, "One of the primary goals is to teach students to ask questions, find answers, and transfer information from reading to thinking, to writing, and to speaking."

Recommendations: I heartily recommend all TRISM products for college-prep students and students who enjoy reading, writing, and research. Having just completed college American History and American Government, I can assure you that this curriculum will prepare your student for college-level American History!

I would not recommend this particular unit for students who have difficulty reading and writing. It will take too much time that would better be used learning basic subjects and specific career preparation courses. However, I would suggest looking into TRISMS: History Makers. This curriculum is sold as a middle school product, but it could be used in high school over a period of two to three years to teach research and writing skills. It has the same format as other TRISMS product, but includes easier reading selections such as Detectives in Togas, Achimedes and the Door of Science, How Did We Find Out About Germs, and Call of the Wild. It covers world history from 3500 B.C. to the Present and includes the same notebook approach as the other TRISMS products. It's well worth doing - just do it slower! TRISMS: History Maker also prepares students for the advanced work given in other TRISMS products, should they decide to take them.

Travels With Max by Nancy Ann Van Wie

Nancy Ann Van Wie's Mystery Books are stand-alone chapter books that can be read without having to use the Teacher’s Guides, School Workbook, or Activity Books. For this review, I read Mystery at the White House: A President is Missing, and I found it delightful! I can’t imagine any child, ages K-4+ who will not enjoy reading (or being read to from) this book. It’s 133 pages long with black and white illustrations. The illustrations are cute and add to the enjoyment. The story is funny, clever, and fun to read. While reading the story, your child will learn about Washington, D.C., Gilbert Stuart, and the White House. The author knows how to grab the reader’s attention and keep it. My only objection to the book is that the author trivialized the President’s work by having his “very important” meeting be a golf game. I think this incident could have been used to introduce the students to something the President does that really is important, such as meeting with a leader from another country. However, this was not a major part of the book, so it did not affect my overall enjoyment. Mystery at the White House is an enjoyable book that will not only entertain your students, but educate them as well.

The Activity Books are lots of fun, and I know your students will enjoy them. Each book includes the same type of black and white illustrations as does all the other resources. While not the best illustrations in the world, they are cute and most kids will enjoy them. Each Activity Book includes a variety of activities such as coloring pages, hidden objects, crossword puzzles, maps, fill-ins, mazes, connect-the-dots, word finds, brain teasers, coded messages, and fun facts. The Activity Books can be used as a stand-alone product or along with the Teacher’s Guide and School Workbook. Homeschoolers could use the Activity Books as supplements to any unit study on the same topic.

The Teacher’s Guide and School Workbook go together. The Teacher’s Guide provides vocabulary words, instructions for using the worksheets, ideas for integrating other subjects, such as math and language arts, into the curriculum, as well as answers to the school workbook. The School Workbook includes worksheets that go along with the lesson plan. It includes activities similar to the Activity Books. The Teacher’s Guide includes additional worksheets in the back of the Teacher’s Guide, which can be used to further reinforce each lesson. 

As of this writing, the topics covered in this series include Washington, D.C., the White House, the Unites States Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, How a Bill Becomes a Law, How American Citizens Elect Their Leaders, the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Statue of Liberty, and Math is Fun.

For more information, see their Web site at Travels with Max.

Two Plus Two is Not Five

"Two Plus Two Is Not Five by Susan Greenwald has been instrumental in helping my children visualize math concepts. It turns a bunch of numbers on paper into something real and tangible for my children to work with. As I was teaching them some of the math tricks in this book, I realized Susan (the author) had found a simple way to explain exactly how I actually see math problems in my mind. I never could have explained it this well. This curriculum is easy enough for my 5-year-old - he loves it and asks for more - and yet is still interesting enough to help my 9-year-old fill in some gaps in her math knowledge without being bored. I highly recommend this curriculum." Reviewed by Kimberly Duell, Broken Arrow, OK. Homeschool mother of four children, ages 9, 5, 3, and 17 months.

Walls of Jericho is fun!

It gives you instructions to read before you play, or you can by-pass them if you know how to play. The graphics are pretty good. You use the mouse to do everything you need to do very easily. The music is ok. You can change the music also. It's basically a block game. You line certain blocks up to get the wall to fall down. I thought it was pretty enjoyable. Chaney (my 8 year old) really enjoyed it. She said she got to level three and she only played for a short time, Of course, she played it several times after that. You have to think fast to play the game but it is a good game to work on concentration. There isn't any Bible learning in it, but it is a fun game. I think it would be enjoyed by 7 year olds and up. We rated this game an 8 out of 10. Reviewed by Joetta Wilson and family.

What Really Happened in . . ." compiled by Terri Johnson.

Terri Johnson has collected a variety of historical biographies written by various authors and compiled them into books according to time periods.

"What Really Happened in Ancient Times" includes biographies on Eve, Noah, Gilgamesh, Imhotep, Daniel, Cyrus the Great, Eratosthenes, and Constantine.

"What Really Happened During the Middle Ages" includes biographies on St. Patrick, Theodora, Alcuin, Good King Wenseslas, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Johann Gutenberg, and Martin Luther.

What Really Happened in Colonial Times includes biographies of Pocahontas, Lady Alicia Lisle, James Cook, Rachel Walker Revere (Paul Revere's wife), Admiral Lord Nelson, Catherine Ferguson, Lucretia Mott, and Narcissa Whitman.

The books are easy to read and written to interest students of all ages, whether as a read-aloud or read alone (recommended for ages 8+). These books are guaranteed to get your children interested in history! The biographies are written by current authors and even some homeschoolers! Highly recommended. I'm looking forward to reading "What Really Happened in Modern Times" coming out in Spring 2008.

World Landmark Books by Karen J. Thiessen

Unfortunately for me, I discovered Landmark Books after my children graduated. This is a wonderful series of books written in 1950-1970, that can be used as family read-alouds or assigned reading for children in 4th grade and up. According to Karen, there are 63 books in the World Landmark series (world history) and 122 books in the Landmark series (American history). They include biographies of famous people as well as historical events.

World Landmark Books is a guide to the 63 books in the World Landmark series. Karen not only gives a brief overview of each book, but she provides information about the author, how to use the books in your homeschool, and ideas for how to locate them (many of these are hard to find). She includes a list of the books organized by title, author, publication date, chronological date, and by subject category. There is also information on the rarity of each book is so you can know what to expect in price.

Her evaluations are based on her Christian worldview which his a big help to me. There were several books on her list that I had not heard of which I quickly added to my "To-Buy" list. Others, although the titles sounded like books I would want to own (ie. Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther) were not added to my list because of her explanation of the author's worldview. A big money saver!

Karen has written a subsequent book entitled: Landmark Books, A Homeschooler's Guide which covers the 122 books in the American History series.

For those of you who use "real" books in your homeschool and want a Christian world view, this is a must-have addition to your library. I highly recommend it. Website: Pure joy publications.

Wonders of Old, A Blank Timeline Book of World History.

If you need a resource for teaching history using a timeline and love the look and feel of a "real" book, you'll love Wonders of Old! This is more than a school book - it's a family keepsake! Terri has created this oversized, hardcover book to "help your students understand and 'see' the progression of history with interactive and engaging timelines. It includes decorative pages on which to write historical events or attach timeline figures. Terri has also included significant dates for each period and a place for notes in the back. This is a homeschool resource that will be treasured for years.

For more homeschool curriculum suggestions, check Curriculum Recommendations

For more book reveiws to my blog, How do I Teach . . . ?

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