Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Do you know how our bodies work? Apologia has answers for your Elementary Student!

I enjoyed using Apologia's Young Explorer Series in the past, with my two older children, so I was delighted to be asked to review Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology, which includes the text, an mp3* audio narration of the text, and two levels of their notebooking journal, the regular and the junior version.

I'm guessing that most of my readers have heard of Apologia if they've been homeschooling for very long, but for those who are new to this homeschooling thing, let me give you a quick run-down on some of the reasons why I appreciate Apologia.
  • The text is written directly to the student, and is somewhat more conversational than the textbooks I grew up with. 
  • Science is approached from a Christian Worldview, clearly and logically articulated, and reinforced through questions and activities that include that worldview.  
  • The activities and experiments suggested in the book are generally able to be completed with normal household materials that one is likely to have on hand. 
Now, when I first used Apologia's Exploring Creation series, well over a decade ago, it simply consisted of the text. There was no MP3 audio CD (Helpful for those who have reading disabilities, or who simply process more easily when listening to audio), nor were there premade journaling notebooks. We had a printable pdf with notebooking pages, mostly for narration purposes, but nothing like the resource that was sent to us with the text for this review.

The course includes 14 Lessons, with a recommended pace similar to their High School Modules of 2 weeks per lesson, so a full year course.  The Lessons are:

  1. Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
  2. The Skelatal System
  3. The Muscular System
  4. The Digestive and Renal Systems
  5. Heath and Nutrition
  6. The Respiratory System
  7. Life in the Blood
  8. The Cardiovascular System
  9. The Nervous and Endocrine Systems
  10. The Nervous System Extended
  11. Your Senses
  12. The Integumentary System
  13. The Lymphatic and Immune System
  14. Growth and Development 
The two journals include all the pages you will need (and more) to maintain a record of what your child has learned in the course with pages to write their narrative answers to the "Tell someone what you've learned" questions.  There are a few variations, of course. For example, the Junior Journal includes coloring pages, more flap books for vocabulary activities and the copy work pages use guidelines, where the older journal does not, while the regular Journal includes more detailed and difficult crossword puzzles

Journal Page found in both books
I will admit that my 5th grader's handwriting is not fabulous yet (remember the recent cursive review?) so the opportunity to have him practice in the notebook is helpful, but in this instance, he might benefit more from the younger journal instead of the older one as he is still working on uniform letter size.

Sample Copywork pages from Regular and Junior Journals
This was also his first experience with a larger crossword puzzle (more words) with smaller boxes~ Ummmm... I said to use a pencil for a reason... ;) This was also one of those activities that took much longer than I expected, but he is improving. :)

Use a pencil, bud! ;) 
Both journals include full-color Minibooks to add to each lesson. These pages are found in the back of the journal. Although not my circumstance, because I only have one student, I appreciate that these are almost identical (with the exception of the writing lines, which again, have guidelines in the junior version) so that those with multi-age students are able to have some journaling activities that are the same.

I am including a photo of the back of the Muscle Minibook prior to gluing it into the journal, so that you can see how clear the directions are.

A little bit more about the MP3~ It is read by the author, Jeannie Fulbright, herself. Her voice and inflections are pleasant to listen to, and I will note that she does not entirely read the text word-for-word, but all of the material is covered.
* The MP3 audio CD must be played on an MP3 compatible player, typically on your computer. This becomes a bit of an issue as more computers are made without DVD drives, so offering it as a download might be a useful suggestion.

Here's a little bit of information on how/why the Exploring Creation Immersion approach to science works, in Jeannie Fulbright's words:

I will also mention that when you purchase the text, you gain access to a password-protected resource that includes MANY extra links for further research and study if something, in particular, catches your child's interest.  Here is a screenshot of the first part of the resources.

As you can see, Apologia offers a very thorough and very engaging course for your young scientist, and their curriculum is something that I can highly recommend, as it has been one of my personal choices to purchase and use since almost the very beginning of my homeschooling career.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

You can connect with Apologia on any of their many Social Media pages: 

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.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
#hsreviews  #homeschool,  #homeschooling,
#elementaryscience,  #youngexplorerseries,
#exploringcreation,  #apologiascience  #homeschoolscience

Friday, April 13, 2018

Watchman Pictures ~ Princess Cut DVD (Review)

While my daughter was home from college for Spring Break we made time to watch a DVD from Watchman Pictures, Princess Cut, that I had received for review. Promoted as a Romantic "Family Film," I was definitely more comfortable watching it with my daughter than I would have been with my tween and teen sons.

The cinematography is nicely done. The story?  Well, I personally think it could use a little work. While I appreciate much of the message of the film, there are some little details and inconsistencies that could have been refined. I will also note that it comes from a strongly Patriarchal point of view.

Short Synopsis:
The basic premise of the film is that Grace, a farm-grown college girl is dreaming of perhaps the infamous "Ring by Spring" as she has been dating a fellow for 15 months. She has apparently been through some previous relationships that didn't work out, but she's convinced that her current beau is going to present her with a "Princess Cut" ring at a special dinner he's arranged. When it turns out not to be a romantic proposal, but more a celebration with his college buddies and announcement of his engagement to someone else, Grace is understandably upset, and laments that there is no one out there for her.

Her little brother introduces some comedy into the story by surreptitiously placing a "want ad" in the paper which produces a parade of amusing, but unlikely suitors to her door.

Grace's mother is a bit of an enigma, her Father is caring but troubled by the status of the family farm, her best friend is a bad influence, a new neighbor is (thankfully) a doctor whose services are required during one tense scene, a new romantic interest pushes Grace to ignore her convictions (which I may or may not agree with, but the boyfriend pressuring her definitely brings up the opportunity to converse about acceptable behaviour and mental manipulation, no matter how minor the infraction).  Throughout the film there were some scenes that I felt were trying to connect some dots, but I never really saw the bigger picture. It is pretty obvious, however, that this movie promotes courtship based relationships, with parental approval.

Little details that got lost or were confusing~ 
  • There is a huge college project that gets ruined~ big part of a scene, but we never find out what happens with that. With my Art Ed major college student watching with me, we BOTH wanted to know how that was resolved. 
  • There is a blond girl who shows up at the beginning of the film, but then isn't seen until much later~ I understand that it was perhaps a bit of foreshadowing. However, I thought she was a different character, which ended up being very confusing to me when she did eventually show up. 
  • Grace's family are soybean farmers, and they end up picking the beans by hand into baskets. At a certain point, they just leave the baskets in the field, as a machine starts working... Ack! Pick up the baskets before they get crushed ~ or don't show the machine working, and leave it entirely to our imagination. A minor thing, but it bothered me. 
  • .... when a ring does show up, is it a "Princess Cut" ring? That's a detail that would have wrapped things up nicely, but we don't know the answer to that question. 

Deeper Issues and some general commentary about some of the themes:
A note about the 2nd blond I mentioned~ she is supposedly Grace's best friend. This is one place where I felt the film was inconsistent with the values it was trying to portray. It is implied that they have been best friends for a LONG time, not just since college. If Grace's parents were as conservative as suggested, I think they would have helped to steer Grace away from this unhealthy friendship while she was of an age to be fully under their influence. The friend is a bit of a troubled wild-child who gives very ungodly advice. I realistically know there will be other influences in an adult child's life, but in this particular family, I felt that the dynamic wasn't terribly believable.

If you are on the extremely conservative end of things and/or fall in the Patriarchal/Courting camp as I mentioned earlier, this film may suit your family admirably. However, those who don't fall into that camp will possibly take issue with the dynamic between Grace and her father, given her age. I will also note that if you are unfortunate enough not to live in an intact family unit (due to any number of circumstances, including death of a husband), the patriarchal tone of this film may not be something you will enjoy.

I certainly believe that a mother and father's job of "parenting" never ends, that offering guidance, and watching out for the best interests of their children is always the right and healthy thing to do, and I personally don't think it matters if they are a daughter or a son. However, at a certain point, the parent also needs to understand when their children are adults, that while guidance may still be offered, it won't necessarily be taken. Just like when they were little and we couldn't save them from every scraped knee or elbow, we can't always save them from the school of hard knocks as young adults either, no matter how much we hope to.

Young Adults ~ Sharing not Hiding
Parents ~ Advising not Instructing
Both~ Discussing
Communication {both ways} is key to healthy relationships

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, there * are * some good messages and themes. The discussion guide on the Princess Cut Resource page is actually really good, and each point is worth discussing with your young adults (Older teens+) BEFORE they get involved in any romantic relationships~ a few of the themes, with my thoughts:
  • (2,3)God's wisdom and direction should be sought ~ before undertaking any relationship it's important to seek His guidance in prayer and the word
  • (4) Parents should be honored ~ seek out their wisdom, honor their opinions
  • (5) Pure, Godly friendships should be cultivated ~ good advice and peer pressure (if you will) to do the right thing
  • (6)His timing should be waited on ~ don't push for a relationship before its time
  • (7) The way a family (yours and theirs) is spoken about by a romantic interest should be noticed~ is the conversation honoring or disparaging? 
I believe the intent behind Princess Cut is good, but I, unfortunately, have to say once again, that while the filming was good, this story could have used some refining and possibly different directing. As is, I feel it isn't quite up to the standard that I have been seeing in today's Christian Films.
  • Company: Watchman Pictures
  • Product: Princess Cut
  • Ages: Older teens would be my recommendation
  • Price: $9.99
You can visit Watchman Pictures on their Social Media Pages: 

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Homeschool Review Crew and see what others had to say (There are other viewpoints offered, so please do check them out). As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool/entertainment budget.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Memoria Press ~ Latina Christiana ~ **Labor omnia vincit. - Virgil

Waaaaaayyyyyy back in Spring of 2009, when the TOS Review Crew was just finishing up its first "cruise," I was introduced to Memoria Press when I reviewed Prima Latina  as well as Famous Men of the Middle Ages with my two oldest~ who were then in 6th and 3rd grade (Famous Men was a bit of stretch at that point). As a matter of fact, that was the final review for that Crew run, in the days when we followed the school calendar for our review years.  And I digress...  At any rate, I believe that may have started my Eldest on the path to Latin as her chosen Foreign Language for High School! Fast forward nine years, and my Youngest is enjoying his first serious taste of Latin with the next level from Memoria Press, Latina Christiana.

We were sent the Complete Set pictured above, which includes a Teacher Manual, Student Book, Pronunciation CD, Flashcards, and Instructional DVDs. In the intervening years since my review of Prima Latina, Memoria Press has added the last two products in the list above to their Latin offerings~ Vocabulary Flashcards and Instructional DVDs, and I feel that they are very valuable additions, indeed!

Now, I will say that I was able to muddle along fairly well on my own with Prima Latina (in part thanks to having had choral training, which helped with pronunciation), and having never been exposed to Latin beyond that choral training, I appreciated learning right along with my kids as I used the Teacher Manual, and went over the pages of the Student Book with them. However, that being said, I definitely appreciate the Instructional DVDs!

I haven't often used curriculum for middle school that includes an Instructional DVD, and I was pleasantly surprised with the thorough job Jessica Watson does as she works through each lesson. She pretty much goes through everything included in the Teacher's Manual and really does "teach" the lesson. I only needed to use the manual to check on my son's work in the Student Book and work through some of the recitations with him.

The other "new-to-me" tool was the Flashcard Set. The set includes all of the words covered in Prima Latina and Latina Christiana both. The Latin word and a derivative are on one side, and the translated English word or phrase is on the other side. There is a small indicator of the lesson where the word is introduced for both Latina Christiana and Prima Latina.

I don't have an amazing way to store these cards, so they live in a ziploc bag, which is easy to grab and go, particularly useful during his brother's high school baseball season with daily practices or games. One of the minute features of these cards is actually one of my favorite things~ the top left edge of the card is rounded. That means that when I pull out the set of cards that he has learned so far, I always put them back in the bag fascing the other direction from the rest of the cards so that I don't have to sort through the stack the next time around. It's the little things that make a difference!

When chatting today with my daughter who is away at college, I mentioned that Youngest already had a fairly firm grasp on 34 of the included 200 vocabulary words, as well as properly understanding their declensions (you can see those rounded edges in the photo above). She was very impressed, and honestly, so am I. This has been a pretty painless review for me, and not terribly arduous for my son, and he will reap the benefits of knowing Latin roots for the rest of his life!

So~ here's how working through Latina Christiana looks for us. At the beginning of the week, my son watches the Instructional DVD Lesson. The rest of the week is spent completing the workbook exercises (Spending 5-10 minutes/day) and going over the vocabulary flashcards (currently about 5 minutes, but will get longer as more words are added). And that's really all there is to it~ it's as simple as that!

As with all Memoria Press Student Books, the Lessons are regular and predictable, with a similar format for each lesson. There are two pages for each lesson, with a 1-2 page "Review Lesson" after every 5th lesson.

The first page includes:
  • Latin Saying 
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar Forms 

The Second Page will always include:
  • Phrases and Sayings (translate)
  • Grammar (Comprehension of the rules)
  • Derivatives

and will sometimes include:
  • Translation
  • Declensions and Conjugations
  • Endings
  • Further Vocabulary Exercises
If you click through the Latina Christiana link you can check out a 5 page sample of the Student Book (Table of Contents and first two lessons), and the accompanying Teacher Manual Sample. What this doesn't show are the introductory pages in the Teacher manual which are very helpful for first time teachers of Latin and include a Grammar Overview, Student Goals for First Year Latin, General Teaching Guidelines, and a Reproducible Vocabulary Drill, and Reproducible Grammar Drills.

*Side note: In today's techy world, I find myself appreciating non-electronic options more and more, especially as the days get longer and warmer and I want to take our schooling outside. That was never an issue when my two eldest were little~ I particularly remember having Prima Latina lessons in the backyard on the swingset. ;)

** "Latin Saying translation from my title: Work conquers all - Virgil

Other Crew Members received different Latin products, from Prima Latina up through 4th Form Latin + Henle, and others reviewed the Traditional Spelling programs or Music Appreciation I. So be sure to click through the graphic at the end of my review if you are interested in hearing more!

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty  As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
#hsreviews  #memoriapress  #classicalchristianeducation  #classicalyhomeschooling  #latinachristiana  #classicalchristianhomeschooling  #memoriapresslatin 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

It's that Graduation Preparation time of year again!

Sample Diploma
Some of you may remember my post in 2016 when we were able to furnish my Eldest's graduation with a Diploma courtesy of Homeschool Diploma. Well, that time hasn't quite rolled around yet for my Middlest, but I have every confidence that he'll be there next year, so I was delighted to be chosen to review the Standard Diploma, with the opportunity to add in some customizations as well, and the ability to post-date the diploma for June 2019.

(Shhhh... we aren't telling Middlest that this exists until next spring... ;))

The ordering process was the same as before and ran quite smoothly. Once again, even with the Standard options, there is room for variation and personal expression, which we all know homeschooling families appreciate. For a slightly higher price, you can upgrade to the "Personalized Diploma" which we did, as I wanted the ability to customize a couple of items.

First, you have to choose the size (old-fashioned 6x8 that I graduated with, or more modern 8.5x11~ In order to fit in with other graduates, we went with the 8.5x11)

Next, choose the Center Seal on the diploma. The top three come standard, and there is an extra charge for all of the others. We chose the "Private Education" seal (last one pictured) which was the same one we used for my daughter's diploma, in order to maintain consistency. These are definitely a nice way to add a more personal touch (and color?) to your student's diploma.    

The next order of business is to input your child's name, your School Name, and optionally City and State, as well as verifying your authority to graduate your student. 
There are four different wordings to choose from (those below don't include the name of a state or commonwealth, but that is an additional wording option): 
  • Standard: "This certifies that ____ has satisfactorily completed the necessary requirements of study as prescribed by school administrators and is thereby presented with this High School Diploma and is entitled to all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto." 
*The wording options below are not available for the Standard Diploma
  • Honors: "Whereas ___ has satisfactorily completed the necessary requirements of study as prescribed by school administrators for graduation from the College Preparatory Course she/he is thereby granted this High School Diploma and is entitled to all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto."
  • Thanks to God: "With thanks to God and in acknowledgment of His enabling grace we joyfully present ____ with this diploma. It is the culmination of his/her High School education, a milestone at which we recognize his/her many accomplishments, and evidence that he/she has fulfilled all requirements for graduation." 
  • Godly Wisdom: "Whereas our daughter/son ______ has not only mastered a body of knowledge pursuant to a high school education, but has also demonstrated Godly wisdom and personal maturity based upon faith in Jesus Christ, we, her/his parents, present her/him with this High School Diploma. It is evidence that she/he has fulfilled all requirements for graduation and is given with confidence that she/he is equipped, by the grace of God, to meet the challenges of life as an adult." 

Next is the optional verse or motto, which is where you can really personalize the diploma.
*There is no verse or motto option for the Standard Diploma
The standard verse options are:
  • Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV):“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  *which we used for our daughter's diploma
  • Proverbs 9:10 (KJV): "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."  
The standard quote options are:
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
  • Robert Louis Stevenson: "Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Once the mind has been stretched by a new idea, it will never again return to its original size.”
OR you have the option to personalize the quote/verse. We chose to personalize for our son, as Romans 1:16 has been a HUGE part of his life, from his "I am UN-ASHA-MED" t-shirt that he wore constantly to his "one-one-six" Reach Records ball caps/shirts that have engendered questions as to it's meaning. 
He truly *is* unashamed of the gospel of Christ! 

The majority of the rest of the options (available for Standard and Personalized) are the details and cosmetic~ the date, the titles for the signatures, the type of paper (parchment or ivory), the lettering (Gothic or for an extra fee, hand-lettered calligraphy), an honors designation (or not).

And to complete the diploma it's time choose the cover options~ color choices and embossed design:

This is what ours looks like.... 

From here there are some other optional additions, like wallet-sized and archival copies of the diploma, or caps, gowns, and tassels.
All in all, this is a very easy and lovely way to commemorate your student's High School graduation and we are very pleased with the final product.

Other TOS Review Crew members were chosen to review the Caps and Gowns (For either Kindergarten OR High School), Kindergarten Diplomas, and Eighth Grade Diplomas, so be sure to check their reviews out if you want to know more about the other offerings.


Side note~ when your confirmation email comes in, it will not be from Homeschool Diploma, but Cornerstone Graduate Supply DBA Homeschool Diploma~ just in case you're looking through your inbox to find it. ;)

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
You can visit Homeschool Diploma on their social media pages on 

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.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
#hsreviews  #HSGraduation  #Diplomas

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Creation Illustrated~ now available in both Print and Digital editions!

I was first introduced to Creation Illustrated a number of years ago and was impressed with the beautiful photography (reminiscent of National Geographic), and articles written from a Christian Worldview, so I was delighted to check out two of their new Nature Unit Studies which I was sent for review, along with the corresponding newly available Digital versions of their magazine.

The Unit Studies are a natural complement to the format of the magazine, which is set up in three different coordinating sections~ here is an example of the table of contents taken from one of the issues we were given access to (Offered free for your perusal as well), the Fall '17 Digital Edition, which is the issue corresponding to the Pine Trees Study, one of the two studies we were sent to review.

Creation Illustrated

There are currently eight Nature Unit Studies available:
Badgers, Black Bears, Dragonflies, Fragrance
Joshua Tree National Park, Manatees, Pine Trees, Snow
and the 9th study on Butterflies (which corresponds to the latest issues, Spring '18 Digital Edition), will be available soon.


The Pine Trees Unit study is the one that we chose to look at more in depth, in part because we have already covered snow in our studies, (perhaps to a greater degree than some, because my daughter takes amazing macro snowflake photos... ;), so Pine Trees was the more natural choice for us. 

The Lessons included in the Full Unit Studies include a list of Reading Resources, Educational Video suggestions, Vocabulary and Spelling pages, a Bible Study, Geography, Science, Math, Writing and Penmanship, Art, a Puzzle (Wordsearch), and Teacher's Answer Keys. 

 I had my son do parts of this study independently, and the lessons vary in difficulty. He was able to complete the Vocabulary, Spelling, Geography and Puzzle pages with ease (he chose not to complete the pine tree drawing on the Art page), but the Bible Study, Science and Math pages required a little more time, and/or some hands on help from mom. This tells me that the age range of 5th-8th grade is pretty accurate. 

We were also sent the Snow Unit Study from the Winter '18 Digital Edition.


In looking it over, I can say that I really like the Art page in the snow study, and will probably pull that out next winter~ he can go through his sister's photographs and see how many of the 35 snow flake shapes she has captured with her lens (did you know there were that many different basic shapes???!!!).

I will note that each issue already includes a study guide that covers many of the articles in the issue, but they are different from those in the full unit study (that addresses one topic in depth from the issue). The Full Unit Study is appropriate for grades 5-8.

A few more general bits of information about each Creation Illustrated issues~
They include coloring, photo, and poetry contests for homeschoolers, as well as Genesis Cuisine recipes to try out. You can subscribe to the Print Editions (which come out Quarterly ~ currently 25% off) and subscriptions to the Digital Editions will be available soon. In the meantime, there are some print back-issues available and the digital back-issues are being made available as they are uploaded ~ you will find all of that including another Sample Digital Back Issue, a Sample Unit Study on Fragrance, a character-building lesson, and more at Creation Illustrated

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: Creation Illustrated
  • Product: Pine Trees Study and Snow Unit Study
  • Ages: Unit Studies 
  • Price: 
    • Unit Studies ~ Regularly $9.95, at the time of this post, 30% off at $6.95
    • Print Magazine Subscription $14.95/year (Quarterly) 
    • Digital Subscriptions (soon) $9.95/year
    • Limited Print Back Issues also available $4.99 each
You can visit Creation Illustrated in on their Social Media Pages on
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

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.
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer



Related Posts with Thumbnails