Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Break According to Joshua

"When we went to Kentucky we saw Mammoth Caves. We also saw the Shiloh Battlefield, which had a smaller battlefield called Corinth. I am a Corinth Junior Ranger! All you have to do is fill out some papers and answer some questions. When we went to the Corinth Interpretive Center on the sidewalk we saw Civil War things! I wish we saw more battlefields.

I got to spend a lot of time with my dad, which we almost never get to do.

My favorite part was sleeping over at my cousin Levi's house on our way back. I sort of liked sleeping in a hotel, too, but had to share a bed with TWO of my sisters. Oh, brother!

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The End!"


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

TOS Crew Review - Amazing Science! Vol. 1

Photobucket ScienceandMath.Com offers science experiment and math tutorial videos to help your kids learn difficult concepts and gain curiosity in the world of science.

We were sent a copy of their 2-disc DVD set: Amazing Science! Volume 1. Photobucket

With 23 different science experiments to choose from, this video is bound to keep your family hopping for quite some time! Each chapter begins with a list of materials that you need to have before beginning the experiment. If you find that you don't quite have everything handy that you'll need - that's okay! Try a different chapter and come back to that one. These experiments are individually done and not sequential. It's fine to skip around and find ones that work for your family.

My daughters were less than excited when we opened the package. My son, however, took one look and his eyes lit up! Science! Experiments! Woohoo!

"Can I watch it right now?", he asked.

"Sure!", I answered. Little did I know how my plan for the rest of the day was going to completely change!

He literally watched the first experiment demonstration standing up in front of the TV, then he ran to the kitchen, gathering up the materials he needed to copy the Color Changing Milk experiment, shouting for his sisters to come watch, and jumped in feet first as soon as I said, "Go for it!".

He then watched several other experiment chapters and wanted to try them ALL that day, but we needed to plan a little bit for some of them. The next day he was back at it, helping me find just the right bottle, hard boiled a few eggs, and waited impatiently for Dad to get home so we could do the Egg in a Bottle experiment.

As you can see, the whole family enjoyed this one!

I do think there was room for a little more step-by-step breakdown of the basic science behind the experiments. I appreciated the detailed instructions, the list of materials needed at the beginning of each chapter, and the excitement of the presentation. More lower-level science building block information would be a beneficial addition.

There is no denying, however, that this set of DVDs excited my children, made them want to learn more about science, and was far more engaging of their little minds than any old science book will ever be. What's more, it engaged me.

Teaching science to my kids no longer involved me opening one more book, trying to figure out for myself how to best turn it into a hands-on learning experience, and dreading the set ups, explosions, and messes that may come with it. Instead, watching the experiments simply demonstrated for me walked me through the processes in a fun way and made it seem far less overwhelming.

Other experiments include: Build a Lemon Battery, Floating Eggs, Build a Motor with Lights, Invisible Ink, and Simple Lava Lamp. 

The 2 DVD set of Amazing Science! Volume 1 retails for $24.95 on sale right now for $19.95!
Or download it for just $17.99!


You can also read what other TOS Crew Members are saying about Amazing Science! Volume 1 on the TOS Crew Blog

 As always, I have been given a version of this product free of charge to use in our own home in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.

And.... just for laughs... here's the post-egg-in-a-bottle out take:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TOS Review: God's Great Covenant * New Testament 1


Classical Academic Press
offers an array of products for the classical teacher and student, specializing in latin and logic. "Classical Subjects Creatively Taught".

They also offer a classical Bible curriculum, which we were provided with a portion of for review! We received God's Great Covenant - New Testament 1 - A Bible Course for Children.


Right away, when you flip through the Teacher's Edition, you'll notice that there is a lot of room for notes. Each page corresponds with a page in the Student Edition but is resized to about 75% with the margins neatly lined for making notes and for the wealth of included extra detail, such as historical facts/context, expanded Bible verses, and thoughts on the historical characters' thoughts that you may want to include as you teach.

The Teacher's Edition also includes answer keys for the review pages found in the Student Book.

At about 350 pages, this in-depth study of the four gospels begins with an incredibly concise introduction, including a brief history of the Jews from Abraham until Jesus' birth, political, religious, and geographic overviews that were both fascinating and incredibly informative.

We were so fascinated by the history and the maps found in the introduction that we spent several days on that alone! Joshua (8) found the history and the concise manner in which the facts were presented to be just right. It was like he'd found a friend who "gets him". The presentation is spot-on for his way of learning, and he soaked it up like a sponge. In fact, because he is very much like his father - I had to sit down with my husband, show him the books, and just sit back and watch him get lost in the history, too. For myself, I'd never been given such a concise yet readable and engaging delineation of the history before. I learned quite a bit - just from the introduction!

In the NT:1 book we received, the review questions and work sheets were at times just above his head and he needed a little help finishing thoughts and questions that came up, but since this curriculum is aimed at 4th grade and up, I think we did pretty well! Although we also received the mp3 audio files as well, we read everything together so I would have a good grasp on what we were learning and so that I could help him with the review questions. However, it was difficult at times because it was so far above the little sisters' heads. I can definitely see where having the audio files would be greatly helpful for the older students!


Now my husband wants to go back to the beginning and get the Old Testament books and start over! Not only that, but he wants to be the active teacher for this curriculum if we do purchase the OT sets! God's Great Covenenant Old Testament 1 starts at Genesis and begins at the second-grade level. Perfect! There is a Timeline and Map set that goes with the OT curriculum that I'm sure Colby will want, too!

I also think this would be a great option for a Sabbath School/Sunday School teacher to implement in a Primary or Junior classroom. Each chapter includes a Memory Page with a verse to memorize and a run-down of key facts for the chapter, a Story Time short story of about 2 pages, and Review Sheets, which could be used easily in a classroom discussion setting. I plan to bring this to church to show our youth teachers and if you know me in person and are interested in seeing this for yourself as well, just ask!

You can purchase these products at Classical Academic Press:
New Testament 1: Teacher's Edition - $29.95
New Testament 1: Student Book - $26.95
New Testament 1: Audio mp3 files - $9.95
New Testament 1: Bundle (student/teacher/audio) - $56.95

Clicking on the links for individual products will take you to the page where you can see more information including sample pages.


You can go here to read what other TOS Crew members are saying about this products and others from Classical Academic Press!

As always, I was provided with a copy of this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review and nothing more. My opinions are entirely my own.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

TOS Crew Review: TruthQuest History


Looking for an alternative to the standard public school history textbook? TruthQuest History is a series of guides focused on sharing REAL stories of history with your children!

As printed on their guides, their philosophy is this:
"God initiates...
People respond...
History happens."

It's a radically different way to think about, study, and teach history. Rather than the human-centered perspective on history given with dry facts in order to pass multiple-choice tests, these guides, through stories that bring those facts to life, help us see how God has led the paths of people throughout history.

Let me be clear, here, though. Yes, these guides are to encourage a Christian Worldview foundation, but the books compiled in these guides are available at your local library, bookstore, or at book swaps, etc. No, these recommended books are NOT used to teach doctrine in any way, nor do you have to go to such-and-such a church to find these books in a particular sect's library.

We were provided with a pdf version of American History for Young Students II (1800-1865), a guide for students grades 1-5.


Leading out each topic is a short synopsis to read together, followed by a list of suggested reading, with "ThinkWrite" activities sprinkled in to get the feedback flowing.

The list of suggested reading is daunting, but don't let it overwhelm you! These are options - not requirements! Use the resources you have available, get picky about what you want to read, or let your child's interest sway you in a particular direction.

We decided to focus on The Civil War, in particular, The Battle of Shiloh, since we are "field tripping it" down to Tennessee for the 150th Anniversary memorials taking place the first weekend of April.

First order of business: go to the library and see how many of the reading list books I could find! I carefully printed out the wrong pages (oops!) of the pdf file and off we went. Of course, since I'd already driven the 30 miles to the library and had no intention of making a second trip unless it was absolutely necessary, I found myself taking to heart the directive: "You are always free to choose whatever is preferred or readily available." So I searched through the available resources at the library and came home with a stack of books, a few music CDs, and a huge question mark over my head. I couldn't help but wonder if I was "doing it right" or what the end goal really was.

I prefer to use all-encompassing text books. Really. Having a lesson clearly outlined, with objectives stated and comprehension questions at the end is much less stress for me! But as I plugged away at the reading and listened to the questions my kids were asking, I found that they were enjoying this way of learning and gaining a great deal from it!

Joshua (8) particularly enjoyed this subject and the way it was taught. Emmy, however, just barely put up with it. Perhaps that was because by the end of it, Joshua was marching around with his homemade drum singing, "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" over and over and over...

Three of the books I (randomly) brought home from the library were on our list and I focused on those during our reading time. I also brought home songs of the Civil War CDs and a book on crafts for kids to do. Combining these resources made a deep impression on all of us.

It was good to be pushed to think outside the box, to rely less on things that spoon-feed and a little more on real, vivid, story-telling to get history to come to life! I did not focus on any of the biographies that are integral to the timeline of the TruthQuest History Guides. But just looking through them makes me excited to think of the fun my kids will have as we read about Davy Crocket, John Deere, and Clara Barton. I was also pleased to see that one of the recommended resources for some of these stories is Your Story Hour, one of our family's favorite history resources!

The TruthQuest History Guide: American History for Young Students II (1800-1865) is available for purchase here in printed form for $24.95 or in pdf format for $19.95.

Companion resources and additional guides for all grade levels are also available.

You can go here to read more about how to use these guides and see the FAQs.

Go here to read more TOS Crew reviews on this products and others from TruthQuest History!

As always, I was provided with this product free of charge in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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