Tuesday, March 27, 2018

If You Were Me and Lived in... (Historical Age books)

Carole P. Roman, Author
I have had the opportunity to review books for Carole P. Roman a in the past* and so my son was happy to hear that we were once again to be the recipients of some items from the Carole P. Roman books and collections. The Homeschool Review Crew was given the option to choose among all of her varied series and books, so while my review is focused on the Historical series, others reviewed the Cultural Series, the Captain No Beard Series, and the newest Oh Susannah series, among others, so be sure to check those out! She has books appropriate for children aged 2-12 on average. 

    
            Oh Susannah stories                                                 Bedtime Stories

*previous reviews: 

As mentioned above, one of my previous reviews included some of the more (or less) recent history books so I decided it was time to check out more Ancient History. As a note about the content of the books, each book talks about the clothing, meals, occupations, and religion of the culture and many more details. They also include a glossary of words and a list of important people from that location and time period in history. When we hear so much, so often, about the atrocities of American Slavery, it was eye-opening for him to realize that there were other cultures that kept slaves (for centuries longer, and with extremely barbaric treatment). In fact, each culture in the books we read was known for its slavery of others, and that was a common theme which my son pointed out to me. I thought it was an interesting impression for him to have taken away from this series, even though it was only one detail among many in each book.

So, which books did we choose?




With a recent visit to our Science Museum and an Omni Theater film experience about Ancient China and Qin Shi Huang, it seemed like a good time to read If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient China.


My son enjoyed learning about the customs and culture of Ancient China. Some of the things that stuck with him… The regular citizen had to “tithe” a month of their time to do work for the Emperor in some way to help better the community/country. He was struck by the facat that each color of clothing had a specific meaning, and he found it interesting that the average diets haven’t changed all that much as noodles, rice, chicken, and fruits were staples then as now.



In keeping with the Ancient Theme I thought a visit to Ancient Greece was in order, and so Youngest also read If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece.
One thing he thought was very interesting was that the Greeks didn’t really identify with their country, but more with their towns. They considered themselves Spartans and Athenians and Corinthians, rather than Grecian.
He felt that the Greek culture was very similar to Roman culture~ where people ate reclining at the banquet table and worshiped many gods. In fact the Greek gods and goddesses are introduced one at a time, each at the bottom of a different page, usually when talking about a part of the culture with which they were identified.



The final book we chose to review If You Were Me and Lived in… Viking Europe as a warm-up to a fictional Viking series that I will be having youngest read, probably this summer. I figured this would give him a bit of prior background on the culture.
He thought it was interesting earning about the origin of names that are familiar in our modern pop culture (thanks to How to Train Your Dragon” and Superhero movies), like Thor, Odin, and Loki, and the difference between the boats and ships that the Vikings used for long and short trips.


These books are a nice introduction to other times and cultures, with just enough information to spark some interest and discussion.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
    You can visit Carole P. Roman on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

    Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Homeschool Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
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    Thursday, March 22, 2018

    Zirrly Super Beads Mega Pack

     
    I always enjoy it when the Homeschool Review Crew receives supplemental items to review, like this fun craft set by Zirrly, the Super Beads Mega Pack. Those who are familiar with fuse beads may be interested by these new Super Beads, because they have a feature that I think is fantastic! Rather than being fused together with heat from an iron, these beads fuse together simply with water! A craft project that you can take with you anywhere, even off the grid! :)


    The kit we received for review is the Mega Pack, which comes with 4500 super beads, 4 design board grids (that snap together to make one large design board, if you have a really ambitious child/project to complete), 4 assorted design templates (in quintuplicate ;)), a design tool to assist with placement of beads sometimes, and removal of design when it is finished, as well as a set of instructions.


    My boys and I all decided to get involved in this project (because, who can resist the lure of fuse beads? ;)). I have spent many hours in the past crafting along with my eldest and middlest when they were younger, and nothing has changed.

    I decided to see if I could create a cube for my Eldest who is away at college. Her school's colors are blue and white (M for Messiah, F for Falcons) and her initials. The other two panels represent two of her favorite things to photograph, flowers and snowflakes.

    It's still a work in progress, but I'm getting there.

    Middlest is a fishing fanatic, and he's done other artwork that has shown up in my reviews that were fishy based. Once again, he has crafted a Bass...

    Youngest immediately saw the relation between the beads and the pixelated world of Minecraft, so he decided to make some minecraft heads. He did the math in * his * head, and figured out how many of each color of beads he would need to complete each one. We discovered that there are more red, white, and blue beads than any other color, which made looking for greens, blacks, and browns a little more difficult (however, it worked well for my college colors purposes. ;)). As a result, he experimented with different color combinations for his heads, which I think was pretty nifty. He also had a pattern set in his head, so it was easy for him to complete each one.


    As with any set of mixed beads, no matter the type, it's always easier to work on if they are sorted out, so it was my habit to grab a handful of beads and sort them into an empty ice cube tray as I was looking for my particular colors. You can see it in the photo to the left. Made it sooo much easier for us all further down the road as we looked for specific colors. I was a little surprised that there were only a few blacks and oranges included, as black is a pretty basic color, and my youngest would have appreciated more browns (for his minecraft camo colors...), but overall, I am very pleased with the variety of colors available to play with.

    A few learning curve notes:
    ~ one ~ make sure that the beads are all facing the same direction. ie there is a top (with a line) and a bottom. ;) You can see the first attempt at the fish, I forgot to give that information to Middlest, and you can see that the beads don't sit as uniformly (disregard the fact that some are sideways, it got knocked into... :p ).
    ~ two ~ it may take a few tries with the tool to remove some of the projects~ the right touch that is gentle enough not to pull the beads apart... it took me a few tries before I got it right. The good news is that if a couple of beads break off, all you have to do is put them back and spritz with water.
    ~ three ~ don't soak the beads! Just spritz them. It will take them far longer to dry. And don't forget to tap the board to remove excess water, as that also extends the drying time.

    close up of the beads once spritzed~
    You can see them starting to join together! 
    All in all, I think this is a great project to pull out on a rainy day, during spring or summer vacation... any time that your kids need a little extra something to keep their hands and minds occupied. I also appreciate that it is an exercise in plotting and planning, and can be used for math/graphing exercises as well. In the future, I hope to pull up some cross stitch patterns and let those be used to create some items as well. Fun stuff! :)


    Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
    You can visit Zirrly on their social media pages on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube

    Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Homeschool Review Crew and see what others had to say about this and other Zirrly kits. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
    Blessings~
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    Wednesday, March 21, 2018

    Home School in the Woods Á La Carte


    Home School in the Woods has been a favorite vendor of mine for some time, in part because I love Amy Pak's aesthetic for each item that I have used. I have also been fortunate enough to have been on many *reviews for her products over the years, in addition to picking up items independently upon occasion. Generally, each product is fairly comprehensive with many projects to complete. Now, however, Home School in the Woods is offering items, Á La Carte, so that you can reap the benefits of these creative projects if you are studying a particular subject or era, and would like to add a little pizzaz to your current curriculum without diving into a full-fledged extra study, and prices are very reasonable, ranging from approximately $2-$10 depending on the size/depth of the project.

    The product range includes Timelines, Newspapers, Games, Three Dimensional Projects, Lap Book, and other miscellaneous projects of historical interest. For this review, I chose two file folder games for my history buff, The Fight for Freedom and Westward, Ho! 

    The Fight For Freedom is a game based on World War II. There 105 question cards with topics that include famous people, locations, and general World War II knowledge. I appreciate that the directions include a suggestion to limit the number of cards in play, and even to only use 1/2 of the game board (either the Pacific Theater or the European Theater), especially for somewhat younger players. I chose to use this option, and to remove cards (for now) dealing with concentration camps, and some of the more technical details for my 10-year-old.

    In the course of putting together the game, while I had my Youngest coloring in the game boards I read through the questions so that he would become familiar with some of them before we started play. He was also able to answer a reasonable number of them, so that was encouraging.

    The goal in this game is to win the most battles. This is accomplished by getting three of your colored dot playing pieces into each battle box by answering questions correctly. There is definitely some strategy involved in that you can choose to try to work on one battle at a time, and hope your opponents go elsewhere, giving you free reign to get your three dots in, or to get one dot in each box, to stymie your opponent. *Side note: I recommend hole punching the playing dots out of cardstock instead of paper~ much easier to pick up! :) Also, I folded some little origami boxes to corral the playing dots, as they tend to want to disperse on their own. ;)

    On to the next game. I felt that Westward Ho! was a little less of a stretch for him, in part because he has read a lot of books from that era, AND we have traveled cross country to Montana, visiting many national parks along the way, so he is fairly well versed in that "history."

       

    You will note that in my photo this game board is not colored in. After coloring in the first game board (Fight For Freedom), he decided that he would prefer to play on black and white. He has actually asked me to reprint the Fight For Freedom pages in black and white for future play. One of the benefits of homeschooling ~ you can do what suits your child's preferences. ;)

    In Westward Ho! there are more playing pieces~ Markers, dice, and "Native Guide" tents. You choose which "trail" you want to travel (Oregon, Lewis and Clark, Mormon/California, and Santa Fe/Old Spanish). Play commences as you answer questions correctly, earning a roll of the die in order to collect your supplies for the journey. From here correct questions allow you to earn a roll of the die to move across the board, and the first one to the end wins.

    Games are a great way to mix things up, and the repetition of the questions is a fun way to "drill" the facts! So check it out!

    Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
    You can interact with Home School in the Woods on any of their social media pages:

      

    You'll want to be sure to check out the reviews by clicking the button below, as other crew members reviewed things like The Art of Quilling and Literary Genres Lapbook Mini-Study (pictured above). As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
    Blessings~
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    #hsreviews  #hsitwalacarteprojects

    Thursday, March 15, 2018

    NatureGlo's eScience MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle (Review)


    When the opportunity to review NatureGlo's eScience offering of their MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle arose (shortly after my college Art Ed major Eldest was sending us YouTube videos on Fibonacci from her math class), I thought the timing was rather fortuitous. And since my Youngest enjoys watching a variety of videos, and Art, and Science, and Math... we looked forward the opportunity to explore the Math Connections with the Real World class from the Bundle.


    I will say right off the top that these classes are geared towards Middle and High School aged students, so Youngest is a little over his head with these, but I decided it was worthwhile to let him go through the classes (to some degree at his own pace), and glean what information he could at his own level.

    The timing of this review was also interesting to me because our local Science Museum currently has a Fibonacci and Golden Ratio exhibit that we were blessed to go visit with some friends. It was a fantastic reinforcement as my youngest was familiar with the concepts, from the first few lessons in the class we were using, and the hands-on activities there helped to cement some of the concepts of how connected Math and Art (and Science) truly are.
    Museum of Science Mirror Maze
    Some basic information:
    The classes in this bundle are
    • Math Connections with the Real World 
      • Introduction and history of the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Numbers
      • The Golden Number and Fibonacci in Art, Architecture and Nature
      • Fibonacci Numbers - Flower Petals, Seed Heads and More! 
      • History and Golden Ratio of the Great Pyramid of Egypt
      • Quasicrystals and the Golden Ratio
      • The Mathematics of Music
    • MathArt in Ancient Cultures
      • Ancient Babylonians and Plimpton 322
      • Ancient Greek Math and the Platonic Solids
      • Pythagoras and the Music of the Spheres
      • Ancient India's MathARt: Rangoli, Mandalas and The Story of 1-9 and 0
      • Zellige Moroccan Tiles and Other Tesselations
      • Maya MathArt
    • Mathematics in the Arts and Sciences (I) 
      • Renaissance Artist Piero della Francesco
      • Aboriginal Art
      • Celtic Math Art
      • Patterns in Nature I
      • Branching/Fractal Patterns in Nature and Technology
      • Fractals in Nature and Technology II
    • MathArt Patterns in Nature (Not yet uploaded) 
      • Patterns in Nature: Animal Coat Patterns
      • The Geometrics of the Universe
      • Patterns in Nature: The Hexagon
      • Logarithmic Beauty of the Chambered Nautilus Part I
      • Logarithmic Beauty of the Chambered Nautilus Part II
    Gloria Brooks is the Owner/Instructor of NatureGlo eScience, and has been teaching since 1997. The online classes are her newest way to reach out to homeschoolers, and are offered as both live and self-paced classes (with some of them utilizing recordings of the live classes). 

    As I mentioned above, we mainly walked through the Math Connections with the Real World class, but I took a look at Mathematics in Art and Science as well. Here is a quick run-down of how it looks to work through a class.

    After logging in you are taken to a student dashboard. You click on the course that you want to take, and it opens to a page that looks something like this...


















    Off to the side each lesson can be opened and each section in the lesson shows up. The section are check-marked and lined out as they have been completed. Simply click on the
    lesson you want to go to and a page will open up for that particular section of the lesson.




    When the student has completed the activity, be sure to click the button that says "Mark Complete" (We forgot to do that for the first few activities... oops!), and then move on to the next part of the lesson.

    When your student has completed all of the activities in an entire lesson they will receive an "achievement" graphic.

    If you want to get a good feel for NatureGlo's eScience classes, you can visit the website and take advantage of the Free Fibonacci Numbers in Nature lapbook (part of the MathARt curriculum)

    If you click on the  "Free Sample Class" Beluga Whale that shows up when you hover over the Class Catalog Tab you will find another sample of what a lesson might entail. Gloria Brooks talks about the Beluga Whale lesson, as well as shows some of how it is set up, with videos, and study guides. If you scroll further down the page you can access a three-lesson class which includes a sample from the MathArt Classesas well as some of the other classes offered :
    • MathArt – Fractals: Infinite Patterns of the Universe
    • Herpetology – Glass Frogs: Transparent Living Jewels (again)
    • Marine Biology – Deep Sea Fish: Gulper eel, Slender Snipe Eel, Barreleye, Oarfish
    A note about the class we focused on. I was a little disappointed in the narrated slideshow videos, as they were strictly narrations of the slides. There was no extra information given, as I might have expected from a power point presentation. I was happy to notice when I checked out one of the other classes that the power point presentation was the spine, but that there was additional information that added interest to the slides beyond just reading what was on the page.

    I will also say that most of the graphics (the majority of which are lovely and well done) and activities are available on the internet, however, what makes these classes useful is that Gloria Brooks has compiled all of the information for you in one place, and set it up them up in a logical and cohesive manner. The amount of time it would take a typical homeschooling parent to do something similar would be rather onerous.

    If you're looking for a less traditional approach to middle/high-school science,  with an artsy or mathy (is that a word? it is now... ;) ) you may wish to visit NatureGlo's eScience web page, and also read some other Homeschool Review Crew opinions. I can say that this class has given my 10 year old a familiarity with the Fibonacci numbers, and the Golden Ratio, which is more than many kids who've graduated high school have, so I take that as a win.


    Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
    • Company: NatureGlo's eScience
    • Product: MathArt Online 4-Class Bundle
    • Ages: Middle-High School are the target audience
    • Price: Bundle is currently $536.40 (which is 10% off of a one year subscription. The classes are also available individually for $149.00 each
    You can visit NatureGlo's eScience social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube.

    Please do click the banner below to visit the TOS Homeschool Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
    Blessings~
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    #hsreviews  #escience #natureglo #math

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Parenting Made Practical ~ Books and videos


    Having children at a variety of ages (from 10 to 20) I looked forward to reviewing the book What Every Child Should Know Along the Way (a guidebook to teaching practical life skills in every stage of life) offered by Parenting Made Practical. I was a little surprised that the "practical life skills" made up a much smaller portion of the book than I expected, with character training making up the lion's share of the book. I shouldn't have been surprised, however, because what really counts in life is character, the practical should automatically follow a child of good character who is diligent, compassionate and trustworthy.

    The Chapters in the book are as follows:

    1. Dynamic Devotional Living ~ Suggestions on topics for Unstructured Devotions, ideas for setting up Structured Devotions and A Family Prayer Journal
    2. Cultivating Family Unity ~ Ideas on activities that will promote Family Togetherness, and ways to encourage Siblings as Friends
    3. Gifts and Talents ~ Lists of Gifts and Talents with accompanying scripture references and advice on how to view and use those gifts and talents wisely 
    4. Biblical Character Traits ~ This chapter includes a "'process" to develop character, a large list of Biblical Character Traits, Biblical Characters that exemplified those traits, Suggestions on becoming Godly Young Men and Women, and three short studies on Treasures for the Young from the basic "rules" that guide our relationships vertically and horizontally both. 
    5. Manners ~ Why we should want to be mannerly, and some specific "manners" to work on in different situations, from home, visiting, church, stores, traveling, and others. 
    6. Practical Living Skills ~ lists of age-appropriate skills from age 2-16+. There are things on these lists that * I * don't know how to do, so there is clearly room for improvement, AND, not everyone needs to know how to do * everything * ~ these are just guidelines for when certain skills should be able to be accomplished by the average child. 
    7. Personal Safety ~ Most of these are common sense, but it's a good idea to read through these as reminders with each child, as it's easy to forget whether you've actually taught your younger children the same things that you taught your older children.

    I really appreciate the positive tone in which this book is written, as it encourages parents and children both towards practical, positive, gracious living. A book that leaves one feeling refreshed in the potential, if perhaps a little daunted/convicted by one's own lack of certain skills and need for growth in certain areas... ;)

    The surprise addition to my package that I didn't know was coming...
    The Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think Video gives some examples of how we as parents often fall into lecturing and offers some tools to help get rid of that habit. The concept of asking questions instead of lecturing and requiring a Yes or No answer is introduced, in order to promote active participation and an actual conversation with your children. Temperaments (in this instance Choleric, Sanguine, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic) are defined and their strengths and weaknesses are explored.

    Personally, this lecture had some interesting ideas I could implement, but I have a slightly different outlook than Joey and Carla Link's. I don't expect perfection from my children (because they are NOT perfect, and never will be until they are in God's presence made perfect) and I do choose my battles, so as not to nitpick and "exasperate" or "provoke my children to wrath" as directed in Ephesians 6:4. I also felt a little odd about some of their use of Scriptures and felt that they were taking them somewhat out of context (for example, they suggest not talking with your children if they aren't ready to listen because then you're casting your pearls before swine... I'm pretty sure that is not quite the intent of that verse, however, I also agree with the concept of sending them for a "time out" if they aren't ready to participate in a conversation with you).

    I suspect that I would have appreciated the book of the same title (Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think) more than the video, as certain things may come off very differently in a video presentation than in the written word, but that may be a personal preference, as I am not much of an instructional video/podcast sort of person in general. ;)

    If Taming the Lecture Bug is an interesting concept for you, you should certainly check out the reviews of those who had it for their main review item, as they may have much more to say. ;)
    The other book reviewed by Crew members was Why Can't I Get My Kids to Behave 
    and other video titles reviewed were Navigating the Rapids of Parenting and Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate... What Works?


    Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
    Visit Parenting Made Practical on their Social Media pages:
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