Saturday, August 29, 2015

End of Summer Golden Nuggets (Music, t-shirts Freebies and Deals)

Hello Friends!

I have a few Golden Nuggets for this last week of August:

First~ Re:Creation A sampler of  23 "Acoustic" songs  from artists who played on the Acoustic stage at various music festivals this year. This is sponsored by NewReleaseToday (formerly NewReleaseTuesday), and can be found on Noisetrade, where you can preview each song before downloading the album. There are some bigger names (Ginny Owens, Remedy Drive, Shonlock), and some new-to-me Indie names (Aryn Michelle, Random  Hero, and Bread of Stone) to name a few. You should find a few that make it worth downloading the whole album! :)

This one isn't so much a deal, as information, but I wanted to give a shout-out to the new Toby Mac CD This Is Not A Test . We were blessed to win it in a giveaway, and my kids (and I) are all enjoying it! :) I read an interview with Toby Mac and thought you might be interested to read it as well, and for your viewing pleasure, here is a video of one the songs on CD. It's really fun, and unique~ using video from fans...

For my homeschool readers, I want to make sure that you are aware of the great T-shirt sale from Great Products. Every August  - Sept they run a fantastic sale with shirts $5.99. This year the sale ends on August 10. Oh, and their Christian Shirts (non-homeschool-themed) are also on sale. Check out my previous post, highlighting some of my favorite shirts over the years for our first day back to homeschooling.

Hope you find these helpful! I'd love to hear if you pick up any of these, freebies OR deals. 


Friday, August 28, 2015

Writing with Sharon Watson~ Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Set ~ Review

My Middlest isn't quite as much of a reader as my Eldest (and currently my youngest), so I am always happy to be sent something for review that might entice him a little further into the world of literature. For this reason, I was delighted to be sent Writing with Sharon Watson's new set Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. The set includes a Student handbook, a Teacher's Guide, a Quiz and Answer Manual, and a PDF download Novel Notebook (Not pictured). We were also sent the first two novels covered in the manual, Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain, and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

Other books covered in this course include 
  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jassamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Because this came right before we went away on vacation, we got a bit of a late start, but still managed to get through the Introduction (1 week) and the first unit on Pudd'nhead Wilson (4 weeks). Yes, we're getting a head start on those school hours for the 2015/2016 school year~ which is helpful come baseball season. :) Getting one course out of the way before it begins is always a good idea! 

The Curriculum~ Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide~ 

I really appreciate the philosophy of this course, as Sharon Watson very pragmatically understands that these books are written by humans who had flawed lives and natures. However, regardless of their backgrounds, they give us stories that in one way or another "reflect some redeeming truth and are, therefore worth reading." The stories can serve the purpose either to inspire us, or to convict us~ both of which are necessary for character growth. 

Right now, my son is beginning to grapple with the concept of multiple worlds colliding within a single storyline/lifetime... ;) (sometimes our lessons take a little longer than normal, when he breaks out into a YouTuber routine...) 

The consumable Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide (Student Book) is very nicely laid out, and written directly to the student. This is the "text" that goes along with the Literature selections. The student is guided through background information on the novel, the author, and many of the literary devices used in the story. There are also questions and mini-quizzes for the student to answer/fill out within the text of the Student Book. Things like vocabulary quizzes, and identifying conflict.
Same Lesson areas for both books... to give you an idea of what they look like.

The Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide: Teacher's Guide does not include the exact same text as the Student Book. It outlines the objective of each section, summarizes what is being discussed in the student book, gives direction and answers to any questions that show up in the student manual.

Each unit includes quizzes, as well as a survey of the unit. These are available  in two formats:
  • Online: (Password protected) These allow the student to complete a comprehension/content quiz and a Literary Terms Quiz and have them "graded" online, with the results emailed to them (or to you). Now there is a feature to appreciate! :)  There is also an online Opinion survey that isn't graded, but can give you insight to what your student is thinking, and you can give them a grade for participation, if you wish. I think having an online survey like this is particularly helpful for the one student class of the typical homeschooler, especially for those who don't enjoy participating in verbal discussions, as it removes the pressure of an immediate answer when trying to give an opinion.
  • Hardcopy:The Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide: Quiz and Answer Manual is available to purchase, if one wishes to use paper and pencil for quizzes rather than completing them online. 
The Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide:Novel Notebook is for the students to use if they prefer more graphically designed sheets than a simple notebook can provide. Some people like the simplicity of a composition book with bound pages and little margin for error.  Others like to be able to print more copies if they goof, or maybe just enjoy the more colorful version provided by the Novel Notebook pdf. The choice is yours, as this is offered for free. :) 

Sharon Watson has very generously provided sample chapters and pages from each of the books, for your perusal. They can be accessed from any of the product links in this review. 

You can visit Sharon Watson on Facebook (Where we just finished a fabulous launch party for this product~ 8/27/15. If you have a minute, go check out her page, and enter the giveaways she has up until Aug. 31, 2015), and on Pinterest.

All in all we like the set-up, the content, and the user-friendly aspect of this curriculum, and would recommend it for a high school course. I am looking forward to covering one of my favorite novels from high school, Fahrenheit 451, which I recently re-read. It was just as good from an adult perspective as it was from that of a teen. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Golden Nugget (Book Recommendations for late summer reading (YA/Adult))

Just a couple of quick recommendations for you... for the last couple of weeks of summer reading...

Although I never thought I'd be a huge fan of e-books, I have found my Kindle Paperwhite to be a wonderful tool when I want to read late at night without bothering my DH (whose extremely early work hours don't jive with our nightowl-ish tendencies), and has lightened my packing list for vacation weeks. It's also great for borrowing books on Overdrive when on vacation and youngest has read all the books he's packed (Ask me how I know!). I just noticed that Amazon has a great bundle for kids (or adults, really...) Check it out if you're in the market... Kindle for Kids Bundle with the latest Kindle, 2-Year Accident Protection, Kid-Friendly Blue Cover  ($99 and it doesn't include the "sponsored screen saver adds!)

On with the book recommendations

Last year I reviewed Dear Mr. Knightley ~ a book my daughter also enjoyed, so when she noticed that the Kindle version was on sale, I decided I needed to bring it back to my readers' attention. Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel  is currently on sale, Kindle version for $1.99 through August 31.

The other is a book I borrowed on Overdrive through my library~ Lisette's List: A Novel by Susan Vreeland. This was a great WWII Fiction read with a focus on French artwork and some very interesting bits on specific artists (Pissarro, Cezanne, Chagall, and a litte bit of Picasso). It tells the story of Lisette and her list of "Hungers and Vows," sort of a "Bucket list" that helped her to get through the War years and those immediately following by doing "the important things first."

I learned more about art, beauty, and an appreciation for the raw materials behind the art by reading this lovely and well written novel. I also greatly appreciated that there were no gratuitous scenes thrown in to mar the beauty and spirit of this story.

Let me know if you've read either of these books, what you thought, or if you might pick them up. Also, I'd love to hear how you use your Kindle (if you have one), or whether you're interested in picking one up.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Alpha Omega Publications~ Horizons 2nd Grade Penmanship Set Review

Interesting times on the TOS Review Crew! This time around Little Brother got his turn with a handwriting set specific to his age/grade. Alpha Omega Publications sent us the Horizons 2nd Grade Penmanship Set for review (Other reviewers received different products for Pre-K to 2nd grade materials covering a variety of subjects including health, math, and spelling, among others~ be sure to click on the link at the end of my review to see their reviews).

I have not had a lot of experience with Alpha Omega I do know many people who have used LifePacs and Switched on Schoolhouse, as well as some of the Horizons products (I think I used a Horizons math book once when my oldest was in... maybe Kindergarten? Long enough that I don't remember for sure...). My youngest hasn't had a lot of practice with penmanship, so I thought this might be a good item to check out.

Included in this set is the consumable Workbook and the Teacher's Guide.

Alpha Omega tends to be a great choice for those who thrive on worksheets and the ease of boxed curriculum. It includes Bible verses and quotations for handwriting practice, which is always a nice feature for those who are looking for faith-based and/or moral character copy-work.  The teacher's guide is scripted, and very complete. The Cursive manuscript is taught upper and lowercase together. An example:

More samples can be found on the product page linked above and in my "nitty gritty" section

This appears to me to be more of a cursive readiness course than a full fledged cursive course, which makes sense if one follows a traditional schedule. Cursive is often taught in 3rd grade in a traditional classroom. In this penmanship set, the first 75 lessons focus on reviewing manuscript letter formation, words and sentences. The next 50 lessons introduce cursive alphabet formation, and the final 33 lessons are for cursive practice and manuscript review.

We did a little bit of skipping around in our use of this set, for the purposes of review, doing some manuscript review, and then working on a few cursive letters. As mentioned above, the approach is very traditional, and it might be confusing/overwhelming for a child to learn both the upper and the lower case formation of each letter on the same day.

I certainly saw that with my son, who may be something of a stereotypical boy. He is not fond of handwriting yet (He may also have some genetic hang-ups with penmanship.  As I may have mentioned once or twice in previous reviews... penmanship was the bane of my elementary education... sigh), and while he did the work, certainly showed that he isn't ready to be regularly confined to lines and consistent letter height/size.

One of the best aspects of this curriculum from his point of view is that the lessons are intended to be short and sweet, (ala Charlotte Mason...) funny boy...

As far as I can tell, Alpha Omega uses the Zaner-Bloser style of penmanship. I would like to see Alpha Omega offer a few different manuscript and cursive styles ( at least one italic and maybe even something fancy like the Palmer style I grew up with) in their Penmanship curricula, so that those who like the format/set-up of the Alpha Omega system could choose a style that suits their hands/eyes.

If you are looking for a curriculum that is intentional in its inclusion of Scripture, poetry, and character-building quotes for its copy-work, as well as a scripted teacher's guide to help you along, this would be perfect for you. Quite honestly, this product probably isn't the best fit for my youngest, but again, could be a great fit for someone else. If Zaner-Bloser isn't your style of choice, you may wish to look elsewhere.

You can visit Alpha Omega's Social Pages:
Facebook, Google+ , Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Illuminating Literature iPad Giveaway from Writing with Sharon Watson!

Dear Friends and Readers,

I am taking part in an iPad mini giveaway from Writing with Sharon Watson. This is in celebration of her course Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, which I will be reviewing in the near future.

High School Literature Programs are one of my favorite things to check out, and I have been enjoying the time we have spent so far with Illuminating Literature. I particularly appreciate that this is written from a Christian Worldview, and covers many Classic novels. I recently re-read Fahrenheit 451, which is covered in the guide, and can't wait to use it with my high school students.

Read below for more information about both the giveaway, and Illuminating Literature.
Writing with Sharon Watson Illuminating Literature iPad Mini GiveawayTo celebrate the release of Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, we are joining with Writing with Sharon Watson to bring you an incredible giveaway!  One of you may win ALL of the following prizes, a value of nearly $450:

Apple iPad Mini 16GB, WiFi Only ($329 value)

  • 7.9-inch LED-backlit Multi-Touch Display; 1024-by-768 Resolution
  • Apple iOS 6; Dual-Core A5 Chip 1GHZ
  • 5 MP iSight Camera; 1080p HD Video Recording
  • Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n); 16 GB Capacity
  • Up to 10 Hours of Battery Life; 0.68 lbs

Illuminating Literature Curriculum Set ($64.47 value)

Literature in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere . . .

Your teens will appreciate the unstuffy way Sharon Watson teaches literature. They’ll read some great novels, encounter the hero’s journey, learn literary terms and elements, and gain an appreciation for fine literature. More important, eager and reluctant readers will become more discerning as they learn the secret craft of the writer. Prepare your teens for college literature courses and for the rest of their reading life.
  • Written for Christian high schools, homeschools, and co-ops.
  • Two-semester course earning one credit for language arts or English.
  • 70 lessons.
  • Student-directed, with clear lessons and reading schedules.

Illuminating Literature 8-Book Bundle ($52.84 value)

This book bundle includes the following books used in Illuminating Literature:
  • Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
  Writing with Sharon Watson Illuminating Literature Facebook Party   To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below, then  join us for a Facebook Release Party on Thursday, August 27 at 9pm ET when the winner will be announced. 

RSVP for the Facebook Party

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Writing with Sharon Watson email list.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wordless Wednesday~ Do you get it?

(Do you get it? I'd love to hear your comments. :) )

Linking up with:

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont



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