Thursday, April 30, 2009

Memoria Press: Famous Men of the Middle Ages/Prima Latina

For those who follow a "Classical" method of schooling, I'm sure that Memoria Press is a familiar name. For the rest of us... it is a name worth becoming acquainted with!

I was sent two sets of products for review. The first, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, meshed quite nicely with our Tapestry of Grace unit on the middle ages. The second, Prima Latina , has been a fun addition as well.

Famous Men of the Middle Ages is a reprinting of the classic text by John Haaren, recommended by Tapestry of Grace as a core read-aloud for all ages in it's Year 2 Unit 1 (Middle Ages). When we started our TOG review, I was happy to find the text online for free at the Baldwin Project, but not so pleased that I had to either read aloud from my desktop or print many pages to bring with me. Imagine my delight when we were informed by Memoria Press that we could choose any of their Famous Men series to review.

How much more enjoyable to be able to bring this book with me outside to read in the front yard, or the back yard, on a blanket in the shade.... not worrying about pages blowing away... OK, I'm a "Book Person"! :) I love the high quality, heavy weight, slick pages, with color illustrations. NICE!

So... I like having the text "in hand". However, we were also sent a Student Guide(Workbook) and Teacher's Guide with 30 lessons, corresponding to the text, for a full year of study(Or less, if you take it at the TOG "pace"). The Teacher's Guide contains the complete student workbook, with answers filled in, as well as tests and a "Final Exam".

Overall thoughts on Famous Men of the Middle Ages:
My children really love hearing about the real people who "made history", so-to-speak. They are much less interested in spreading out the lessons and want me to read a new chapter every day. I actually hear groans when I tell them that we're done for the week! (That's a GOOD thing! Keep 'em thirsting for more!)

The Student Guide is a handy resource to have for the purposes of review, to see if they were really listening, and as something to add to the portfolio for assessment. I think the Teacher's Guide is helpful to have as well, so that Mom (Or Dad) has less work to do. One feature that I appreciated was the set of maps included in the back of the workbook series. It is such a time-saver to have them right there, making geography "Easy" and quick, instead of trying to search out just the right map for each lesson.

Overall, I would say that the Text is fairly appropriate for all ages (With some editing for the youngers, occasionally, depending on their "Sensitivities"... they weren't also called the "Dark Ages" for nothing...), with the student guide being most appropriate for 5th - 8th grade.

In my opinion, these books are very reasonably priced:
The entire set of Text, Student Guide, and Teacher's Guide is currently priced at $39.95 a savings of 25% off the list price for the set($52.85)

You can also purchase each book individually:
Famous Men of the Middle Ages Text $16.95

Famous Men of the Middle Ages Student Guide $17.95
Famous Men of the Middle Ages Teacher Guide w/ key $17.95

Updated photo which includes Instructional DVD and Flashcards
which were not available at the time of this review.
The Prima Latina text set was our second review product, and one that the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed(Well, ok... maybe middlest didn't "Thoroughly" enjoy it, but he was excited to show off some of his Latin vocabulary to his friends in the neighborhood. ;) ).

This set included a Teacher's Manual, Student Guide, and Pronunciation CD. This is the precursor to the highly acclaimed Latina Christiana, so I was again, delighted to be allowed to choose this as a beginning course in Latin for my children. It is most appropriate for 1st(Or advanced K) through 4th grade. It was a "little" slow for my 6th grader, but sometimes I like to "ease" into something new, and since she was already working on Japanese, I figured that simpler was better at this point in time.

Both of my "schooled" children (3rd and 6th) are quick to catch on to how the "Roots" work, and are starting to get the gist of how to figure out a word based on them. I appreciate the amount of review that is built into each lesson, without overwhelming anyone.

Not growing up in a culture that uses Latin, my children are getting a kick out of learning some of the Latin "prayers". We are actually turning them into something along the lines of Gregorian Chant, and even the 22-month-old gets a kick out of
"SancTUS, SancTUS, SancTUS
DomiNUS DeUS SabbaOTH!" (Emphasis mine... ;) )

Oh, they could also be enjoying it because their only other exposure to Latin has been a goofy CD (Grunt~ Pigorian Chant~ by Sandra Boynton) which they have enjoyed BEFORE learning any Latin... so it's a positive, FUN thing for them. :)

Although I spent my high school years singing in choirs with a number of Latin pieces, I found it helpful to have the pronunciation CD to keep my vowels straight. ;) (It's amazing what one forgets.

This is also a good foundation for learning any of the "Romance" languages, and although my daughter has been digging in her heels (Remember... she's learning Japanese, for goodness sake!), this may be an opening to her considering Spanish or French in the future. If not... it's going to come in handy when she takes those SAT's in a few years, with 125 Latin words, and 25 phrases under her's a good start, anyway, and a solid base for continuing on to Latina Christiana.

Prima Latina is set up in 25 Lessons, with 5 vocabulary words/ lesson, in addition to a "Practical Latin phrase", and one line of a Latin prayer (With each of four prayers being learned over the course).

There is an aspect of grammar taught in each lesson, so if you've been on the slower/gentler boat to grammar, this is a pleasant way to incorporate it into your day. It is also easy to break each lesson up into 4 or 5 sections so that you are doing a SHORT lesson each day, with built in review, and less chance of "burn out". Those Charlotte Mason "Bite sized" chunks are great for retention, and keeping things fresh... Once again, I can truthfully say that oldest asks for Latin each day, and middlest is often eager also.

You can check out samples from the Student book (Lesson I, Lesson XI), the Teachers Manual (Lesson 1 exercises with Answers, and Selected Teacher Pages). If you scroll down the main Prima Latina Page, you will find a number of FAQs and links that should answer a bunch of questions, including whether to start out with Prima Latina, or Latina Christiana.

Once again, I feel that Memoria Press is outstanding in presenting a quality product at a reasonable price:

The set of Teacher and Student Texts and Pronunciation CD is $32.95.
The Student Book and Teacher Manual are available individually for $14.95 each.
The Pronunciation CD is $4.95 separately.
If you'd like to add some flashcards for study, Latina Christiana I's flashcards fit well here ($14.95).

If you just don't have the time to actually "Teach" the course (Although it really *is* possible to do with just 5-10 minutes a day), there is also the option of popping in the Instructional DVD's ($45 for 3 DVD's), and letting Leigh Lowe (The author of Prima Latina) teach your children for you.

You can also purchase all five products as a set for $90.90, if that suits you.

OK, so that nearly sums up my review of Memoria Press. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that there is a page filled with articles that are interesting and thought-provoking as well as educational for those of us teaching. You know, the other day some public school teachers, in the course of conversation asked what I do for "professional development", and reading articles like these was one of my answers. ;)

Well... that ends my 2009 TOS Crew Reviews.... Stay Tuned for a "Top Picks" post to follow. I hope that you've enjoyed reading them and found them helpful when deciding where to spend your hard-earned homeschool budget dollars.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tapestry of Grace The Middle Ages(Year 2 Unit1)

Well.... Tapestry of Grace was by far the largest and most time-consuming product we received to review this year at our house. I was so excited to be able to check it out in person, as I'd heard a lot about it from some local friends, had even downloaded the free 3 week Egyptian sample at one point, but didn't get around to using it, because my oldest is.... shall we say...."squeamish"~ Mummies and the like don't sit well with her.... maybe someday.... (There are actually two 3-week samples that you can try out... Go to Egypt and Sail to the New World)

For the purposes of review, we were asked to choose the year and unit that we wanted to review. I let the kids decide, and they agreed on Year 2, Unit 1, the Middle Ages. We were also allowed to choose one item from the supplemental materials (Evaluations:Tests, Quizzes, etc..., Writing Aids, Map Aids, Pop Quiz audio files and questions, and the Lapbook Disc~ You can learn more about each of these on this page). We chose to use the Lapbook, figuring that it was something both my oldest(6th grade) and middlest (3rd grade) would enjoy.

I understand that Tapestry of Grace has been revised once already, and now there is a new revision, with the Digital Edition. This was the basic edition that the TOS Crew received. With the DE, you download the entire unit, and print only the pages that you need. The folks at TOG have created a great FAQs page for the more techie-minded, and a super Samples page. A nifty new feature on the samples page allows you to preview the interface of the Digital Edition before you go downloading any files. Very cool, in my opinion!

*Please note that if you are a MAC user like myself, there is a little more to downloading and installing than if you are a PC user(1 click vs 3), but we can comfort ourselves in the thought that we get far fewer viruses and trojans! ;) )

Here are what I saw as some pros and cons to the DE:

  • Can't get lost... you can always find it again on the TOG website... your license is good for life~ no matter how many times your computer crashes and burns... (EEK!)
  • Doesn't take up tons of bookshelf space: ~ CD cases vs Binders~
  • Immediate download and no shipping charge
  • Print only the pages you need... And... easily print as MANY copies as your family requires
  • Free Periodic Updates automatically make your Digital Edition the most up-to-date version available... for life
Now ~ I've mentioned in other reviews that I have some issues with Digital Editions of things, and this holds true for TOG.

Cons:(If you are like me...)

  • I am someone who likes to flip back and forth through pages *in my hand*, not on a screen
  • I have a toddler who is more jealous of my computer time than of my "book" time.
  • I don't have a laptop, so I am limited to being chained to my desk with a Digital Edition~ which doesn't help when much of my lesson-planning time is done out of house, in the waiting room at Oldest's Irish Step-Dance classes~
  • Visually, sometimes it's difficult to navigate a large document digitally... I guess this ties in with my first "Con" above.
  • No resale allowed, so no recouping of costs, which can be a major factor for some families.
Because of my visual/toddler/desktop issues, the kind folks at TOG sent me a hard copy of the unit I chose, for which I was very grateful.

Well..... WOW! What a LOT of information! It is overwhelming when you first look at it!

There is something that has been termed the TOG FOG, which is what you may feel the first 4 weeks or so, as you are getting used to seeing ALL the information that is here. The reason for the huge amount of data and detail included is that you are holding in your hand(or reading on your screen) not one year's worth or History/Humanities and Social Sciences, but FOUR years, for different ages.

Here is a great page that details the layout of TOG... be sure to click on each successive link, in order to get a feel for the whole program, and what it entails... However, I'm going to copy below one of the most important things for you to know about TOG week-by-week, which should help with that TOG FOG:

What is a week-plan? It’s a plan of study for one typical school week, based on the pace that a high school student must keep in order to cover all of world history, literature, church history, government, philosophy, and arts in a four-year time frame.

Remember, you are the teacher! Tapestry is your tool, not your master. Each week-plan presents a veritable educational buffet of options: reading assignments, activities, questions to answer, writing assignments, and more! What does all this mean? As with any buffet, you simply can’t eat it all. You must customize this curriculum to your unique family. No one student will do all the suggested reading and activities.

OK, so once I got that through my head, life became ever so much easier! No.... I don't have to do it ALL... indeed, I am not intended to do it ALL! Anyone who tries to do it ALL will probably FALL down in a dead faint caused by burnout! Oh, and don't be thrown by that "High school student" comment above... this is written for all grades, but I *do* think it may be the best for those who do have a Jr. High or Sr. High student with younger siblings, because they can all be studying the same era and many of the same people in history, all at the same time, which can ease the burden on mom considerably! :)

Forward ho! On with the curriculum!!

There is included on the website a very helpful section on Setting up Tapestry . I actually copied and pasted each of the First Steps into a word doc, and printed them out so that I could get myself organized. What a great help!

Now that I had myself set up, it was time to check out the book lists for the first week, and see what was available from my library, and free online. If you have difficulty finding the books at the library, this could make TOG significantly more expensive, but I was able to find the "History Core" and main "Read-Aloud" for my ages online at The Baldwin Project. After that I just picked whatever I could check out or ILL from my public Library.

You may ask.... how does our "Buffet" look?
  • Appetizer~ Geography
  • Main Course~ History, with side dishes of Literature, Biographies, and Church History
  • Dessert~ Fine Arts and Activities.
We chose not to partake of the writing thread, based on my children, their ages, and what is already working for them... It's OK to do that! We didn't want to get "Stuffed", or "over eat"! We also ignored the portions for Dialectic(7th-9th grade-sh) and Rhetoric(9th-12th) students, as it wouldn't have tasted very good to my 3rd and 6th graders, and would have been too difficult for them to "chew".

One of the favorite things was the "Main Course", because they just love to listen to stories, and hey, if the stories are true, so much the better (in most cases.... ). To give you an idea of what our weeks looked like, you can get an overview of Year 2 here (Unit One, The Middle Ages, being the first in the list). This page also has NUMEROUS interesting, supporting links (Also found on the LOOM) that will give you a feel for the sorts of things covered.

Another *NOTE ~ Even amongst Christians, different families have different ideas as to what is appropriate for their children to read/hear, and so you may wish to pre-read or at least scan books you aren't familiar with before jumping in feet first. My children are on the "Sensitive" end of things, so what bothers them wouldn't phase another child, but I had to be careful. As a "for instance"... I grew up reading Ali Babba and the 40 Thieves, and some of Sinbad the Sailor, etc... (recommended reading during the Byzantine Empire age), and I don't think I was bothered TOO much, but as an adult, I see them with different eyes, particularly given the recent history of the world. Those are books that I chose not to read. I didn't really feel this was an issue for the curriculum, as I am careful with everything they read, the Bible included... there is "meat" in there that is not fit for "Babes" to chew.

The Lapbook Component definitely added a little zip and zing to our study, and even snuck in some "Writing". I am glad to have this option for those that are more Kinesthetic, or crafty. I've also found that it's great to have something for the children to be "Decorating", coloring, what-have-you when reading, because they actually remember what they HEARD when they LOOK at whatever it was they drew or colored. COOL Connections! There are available complete Lapbook Kits, as well as the digital templates, which is what we received.

The Lapbooks are well organized, with complete directions, and "Schedule". The pages are grouped in "colors" so that you can print them on 5 different colored papers for visual interest, without everything being the same. For instance, the first lapbook component you would print is the geography flap book, but it isn't' first in the group, it is actually the last page in the file, in the "Red" colors. Ther was also some effort put into fitting more than one piece on a page, although not always. I appreciate paper/print efficiency.

Now we get down to the cost. I'm going to stick my neck out here, and say...

Tapestry of Grace can be:
an expensive proposition,
highly economical,
depending on your circumstances.

If you are of a "Classical" bent, and have more than one student to educate at a time, and the oldest is in, say, 6th grade, then this may be a no-brainer. You may use the curriculum twice with the older student, and possibly 3 times with the younger, if you cycle through as planned. In that instance, while the initial outlay is higher, you are paying for 5 years worth of curriculum... now it doesn't seem so bad, does it?

What are the actual numbers, you ask?
Digital Edition
Unit by Unit $45 (Trial?) or “payment plan”
Unit by Unit (X4 for the year= $180)
Full Year all at once $170
Bonus Bundle with Extras $250

Print Edition
Unit by Unit $60(Trial?) or “payment plan”
Unit by Unit (X4 for the year= $240)
Full Year all at once $225
Bonus Bundle with Extras $295

So... if we do the math from above, your cost for 2 children (Starting in 6th and 3rd... see, I had to use my own circumstances as the measure here... and I included each student taught as a "year" of curriculum) can be as low as
$170(Digital full year, no extras)/5 years of teaching (That's $34/"year")
or as high as
$295(Print edition bonus bundle)/2 years of teaching ($147.50/ "year")

I guess it's all in how you look at it, and how you can/will use it, no?

If you are interested in more information directly from TOG, there are some free downloads that you can take advantage of, and some materials that they will send to you for the cost of shipping. One that is really cool, regardless of what curriculum you use, is the Map of the Humanities
Map of the Humanities Download
I have to mention here that the support, both technical and otherwise, from the folks at TOG has been wonderful. They are ready to help you out with any questions you may have, and respond in a very timely manner.

My summation:
After a "Breakfast" of Bible, and a "Dinner" at the table of Tapestry of Grace, I feel like my children have been served a "delicious and nutritious meal", and when they get "hungry" for more, well, we have "Snacks" of Math and Language Arts.

For some other opinions, please check out the TOS Crew because the TOS Crew is all about helping you to make informed decisions on which curricula are best for your family.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting (BFH)

Well, let me just start this off by saying that when I was in 7th grade, I was a straight A student.... except for Handwriting, for which I regularly received C's.... so I have a little "angst" when it comes to teaching my children "penmanship". Because of this, I have been pleased to be able to use and review a couple of the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting products in our home.

Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting manual with CD ($65.95) for all ages is the first one up for review.

The manual is spiral/Flexibound, allowing it to lay flat, AND keep the "Coils" neat.... Marvelous!
As a MAC user, I was delighted to see that there is a CD for PC's, and one for MAC's.

You can check out the table of contents and some samples from the manual as well as the CD-Rom at the link above, but I'll quickly list the table of contents for you here:
  1. How to Use This Program
  2. Posture, Pen Hold, and Paper Position
  3. Exercise Patterns, Related Letters, and Practice Words
  4. Reference for Lowercase Alphabet
  5. Reference for Capital Alphabet
  6. Reference for Numerals
  7. Joining Letters
  8. Missteps and Myths(Remediation helps)
  9. Practice Words and Sentences.
One of the benefits of this program was also one of the greater challenges for me, personally. That is, there is no scope and sequence, no "precise" progression of pages to "Teach", no set procedure. It is to be used as an individualized program, meeting each person where they need help. This means that as the teacher, I have to figure out which worksheets to use. I think my difficulty with this was indicative of how my brain processes things~ I have a hard time with "Teacher manuals" that are in digital format, where I can only see one page at a time. I prefer to have a hard copy in hand and be able to flip back and forth, however, the CD-Rom doesn't take up any space on my overflowing bookshelves.... (Ah... the pros and cons, the joys and struggles with Digital Media!)

OK, now that I have "that" out of the way... I have to say, I am impressed with the thoroughness of this program, and also the "Tone" that is taken. The goal is to create legible handwriting, starting wherever the student is "at", and if it doesn't look precisely like the exemplars(A page for students to trace, copy or use as a reference is known as an exemplar. From the BHF Glossary at the back of the manual)... that's OK. There is an understanding that people DO personalize their handwriting in the real world, and that everyone's handwriting needn't be a carbon copy... it just needs to be legible! :)

The CD-Rom contains lessons, suggestions for instruction, and video demonstrations, as well as numerous exemplars that you can print at will. The files are split into Levels 1-4, with 1 being more for younger students, and 4 for older. This does help a little with the "Where do I start" question, and provide a little bit of "direction". :)

Many of the pages are customizable, just note that you have to save them to your computer in order to print them. It is nice to be able to create "Copywork" for your children based on what they are interested in or are learning.

Tip: If you want to save on "practice sheet" printing costs, you could print each one that you need once, and use glossy sheet protectors to create a binder of write on/wipe off pages to use with a dry erase marker. Another Crew member mentioned laminating the pages as an option.... Thanks, Sheri! There are some sheets that would be adaptable to this concept, particularly in the lower levels.

To sum up~ I feel that this program is filled with many "helps" to cause legible handwriting to break out in my home, and that's a good thing! There is enough variety in the "Exemplars" to help keep my children's attention, and that's a good thing! And... I don't have to try to teach Palmer Penmanship(my apologies to the "Traditionalists" among us), and that's a good thing! :)

The second program that I received to review was Fix It... Write ($17.95)

This program is for the older student/adult who wishes to remediate their handwriting with regards to speed and legibility.
TheManual comes Three-Hole-Punched, ready for use in a binder. This way the lined practice sheets are easy to remove and copy for individual use.

Given my issues with digital formats, this manual was a relief for me! I could hand it to oldest and just have her follow through with the numbered lessons. However, if I see something that needs more work, I can hunt through the BHF CD-Rom, and print up applicable worksheets for her.
  • Part One of the manual(just a few pages) addresses problems common to handwriting, which is great for figuring out what ISN'T working.
  • Part Two is split into three sections to help fix those problems:
  • The Groundwork~ Days 1-3
  • Print-Script to Cursive with Italic features~ Days 4-18 (For learning Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting)
  • Conventional Cursive~ Days 4-15(Alternative for remediating the cursive one learned)
In short, with daily practice, handwriting can improve! Oldest is using this program(Albeit on a modified time schedule) and is progressing into a more legible hand, and that is a good thing!

Oh, and if you have a beginning writer, you may want to check out The Beginner's Handwriting with Teacher's Guide ($29.95), so that you can introduce them to writing the BFH way from teh start!

Check out what other crew members had to say about BFH, and let me know what you think!
Happy Handwriting!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Apologia Science Exploring Creation with Zoology I (Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day) AND General Science

Apologia Science~

The name that seems to be synonymous with the study of science from a Christian worldview, you hear it a lot in Christian Schooling circles (Home or Private...), but what does it mean? Here's a definition from their website:

Apologia ~ What Does It Mean?
It appears eight times in the New Testament, in the context of people defending their faith or actions by reason and logic.

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you..." 1 Peter 3:15

Apologia Ministries exists to give the home-schooled student a scientific education that will help him or her make a reasoned defense of the Christian Faith.

In light of this, I felt so blessed to receive two curriculum to review that would help to prepare my children to give logical arguments for their faith using science to back up the Bible:

Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day ~ Elementary Science designed for ages K-6, by Jeannie Fulbright ($35 Hardcover Textbook)

The book is broken down into 14 lessons, with the intent that the student takes 2 weeks to complete a lesson. This could move at different rates, depending on the age and ability of your child. You can find a table of contents, course overview and sample module in pdf form at the link posted above.

OK, so other than the Christian worldview, what makes this Science text different from others?

  • It is written directly to the student, in conversational style, directly engaging their minds.
  • Questions are in narration form rather than "fill in the blank/multiple choice".
  • "Notebooking" is recommended as a way of recording what was learned.
  • Fun and interesting projects and experiments (With readily available materials) finish up each lesson.
  • An optional course website is available with a link to a KnowledgeBase (questions that other students have asked and the answers that Dr. Wile has given), General links for the whole course, and many links for each chapter, for those who are interested in digging deeper. There are also blank notebook pages and Scientific Speculation Sheets, to make it easier for the student to order their thoughts.
  • The Author (Jennie Fulbright) has her own yahoo group where one can discuss all things related to these books or the scientific concepts found in these book. Help with notebooking, projects and experiments is available through this group, as well as many different schedules, tests and other materials created by homeschool moms. (Show me a public school science text with ONE author, who is willing to invest time in the students using the text!)
So... what are my thoughts on this curriculum?

  • Well... Mom likes it because I don't have to "Teach" the text... it teaches itself. and as a "help", there are answers to the narrative questions for each chapter at the back of the book.
  • Middlest likes it because it is easy to read and understand, and he likes the experiments and projects. He does admit that "notebooking" isn't his favorite thing, but we discovered that there are many resources* available for "lapbooking" these books in particular, which he prefers because the writing tends to be in smaller bites.
  • Another "mom like": It is already turning middlest into an Apologist... he's sharing some of what he is learning with his public schooled friends. COOL!
  • It is fun! Quick story: we were out on our Nature Scavenger Hunt when some neighborhood boys greeted us, and then asked us what we were selling. We didn't know what they were talking about, so they asked us again, this time referencing the clipboards with the scavenger hunt papers on them. "Oh! We're doing some schoolwork. Have you ever had to do a Nature Scavenger hunt?" Their replies... "No! Oh, that's right... you're homeschooled... Lucky!" ;)
  • Oldest enjoys hanging around and participating in the activities and projects, but she didn't do the narration and notebooking/lapbooking because she tested the other curriculum we recieved...

Exploring Creation With General Science 2nd edition Two-Book set~ This course is designed to be a student's first systematic introduction to the sciences, and is optimally designed for 7th or 8th graders, but as with all things, can go up or down a year depending on the child's interests and abilities. For a college-minded course of study, 7th grade is recommended. This course is written by Dr. Jay Wile and the set retails for $85.

The text book is split into 16 modules. Most modules contain an average of 3 experiments, although one has no experiments and a few have 5. The experiments utilize readily available household items making them easy to prepare for, but don't let this fool you. There are a number of "WOW!" experiments... this is not dull!

  • Similar to the Elementary Texts, it is written directly to the student.
  • There are suggestions for the student on how to "pace" themselves through the course.
  • "On Your Own" questions are scattered throughout each module.
  • A "Study Guide" Review is found at the end of each module, containing questions to help cement the material learned in the student's head. ;)
  • The companion "Solutions and Tests" manual contains the answers to the Study Guide questions for each module, as well as the answers to the Module Summaries (Appendix B in the textbook), the Tests and Answers for each module, and 4 Quarterly Tests and Solutions. There are also guidelines and a "point system" for grading the tests.
  • Like the Elementary Texts, there is a website for further study, news, and resources as "Extras".
I will mention once again that there are numerous online resources* (search YAHOO for "Apologia Science" groups, for example) which may make the course "come alive" even more for your hand-on Learner.

In addition, Apologia offers a Multimedia CD-Rom ($15), which is referenced in the text, an audio CD ($15) that narrates the text for the auditory learner, or learner who has some other difficulty with reading, and finally, there is FULL Course CD-Rom ($65) that includes the entire text, experiments, tests, etc, as well as the multimedia add-ons. This could be a good option for those who enjoy "Schooling" at the computer rather than with a hard copy book.

Now, I will admit that I don't have a great deal of experience with any other science "curriculums", but we have found Apologia to be interesting and easy to use. I appreciate that Apoligia has, at it's central "Core", a deep understanding and desire to communicate the truth of the Creator to students, so that they can in their turn make a logical defense of their faith in the intelligent design of a loving Creator God.

*Optional resources~
Knowledgebox Quest Lapbook and Journals for Elementary and High School (Some free samples to download, including the complete 1st Module for General Science)
Live and Learn Press Learn-N-Folder Notebooks for Elementary and some high school

I hope you check them out if you haven't yet, and let me know what you think! Oh, and if you want to read some other reviews, check out the TOS Crew ....

Friday, April 3, 2009

TruthQuest History~ American History for Young Students III

TruthQuest History~ What's that???

A QUEST for TRUTH in the study of history?
How does one find TRUTH in the past?

The typical frame of mind and worldview that public/secular schooling presents is that history is just events, and the dates, places and people related to those events. Michelle Miller would like to take that view of history and turn it on its head! She has put together a history program framework that looks at the BIG PICTURE using "binocular" lenses that focus on two "Big Beliefs" or main questions. Your answers to those two questions will color everything that you think and believe about the past, present and future, and indeed will shape the "history" of YOUR life.

The two Big Beliefs have been around for millenia~
Who is God?
Who is Man?

You will find, succinctly distilled, that a secular worldview and a Judeo-Christian worldview will see history through very different-colored lenses.
  • The secular worldview will see events as being orchestrated solely by man, because in the secular worldview, MAN is the driving force on earth.
  • The Judeo-Christian worldview sees God as the driving, indeed the CREATING force on the Earth, and that the study of history is actually the study of HIS-Story.

Understanding a little more about the philosophy of TruthQuest, let me give you a bit more detail about the program that I received for review. I asked for any one of the three American History Volumes for Young Students (Best for grades 1-5), and was sent Volume III, which covers the years of Reconstruction following the Civil War (1865) to pretty much the present (2000).

The introduction is written directly to the student, and each segment has a "Commentary" (written in bold type) written directly to the student. The bulk of the pages, however, are lists of books with age recommendations and some comments, depending on whether Michelle has personally read the books or not. (In this updated volume, she included current books that she hasn't read, at the request of many parents, so it is wise to pre-read most selections if you are assigning independent reading. Otherwise you can just edit as needed while reading.)

So... the concept is to read the commentary, which poses a question, or creates an inquiring thought process, and only then proceed to reading the literature recommended. Michelle has listed EVER so many books, that you are not likely to be able to read even half of them. She has given this plethora of choices so that you will have better success in finding books at the library that apply to each era. The books are rated according to independent reading level (Not read-aloud level).

This is a slightly different approach than I have used in the past. The other histories that we have done have had fairly closely scripted teacher's manuals, or at the very least, questions and topics to discuss. In TruthQuest, the topics to discuss tend to be indirectly referenced in the commentary, and it is up to you and your students to add them to your reading. An interesting way to help create curious, questioning, thoughtful children. I found TruthQuest for Young Students to be a great resource of historically arranged living books, that can be used as a framework for your chronological study of history, OR as a resource for you to pull reading selections from for whatever portion of history you are currently studying. Those applying a Charlotte Mason, Classical or Unit study approach will be most comfortable using these guides.

For more reviews, and particularly reviews of some of the older study guides(for 5-12th grade), which I understand include commentary of much greater depth, as well as deeper topics in general, be sure to check out the TOS Crew Reviews

The guides available for Young Students, Grades 1-5 are:
American Hist I (Exploration - 1800) ($24.95)
American Hist II (1800-1865) ($24.95)
American Hist III (1865-2000) ($29.95)

The Guides available for Older Students, Grades 5-12 are:
Ancient Egypt/Ancient Greece ($24.95)
Ancient Rome ($24.95)
Middle Ages (500-1400) ($24.95)
Renaissance Reformation Exploration (1400-1600) ($24.95)
Age of Revolution 1 (1600-1800) ($29.95)
Age of Revolution II (1800-1865) ($29.95)
Age of Revolution III (1865-2000) ($34.95)

If you click through to any of these pages you will be able to download the applicable table of contents, and a sample section of the guide to peruse and see if this will be a resource that you would like to use.

Let me know what you think!



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