Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Amazing Science! Volume 1

I love science experiments.  My boys love science experiments.  There is nothing cooler than interacting with God's creation and observing what happens.  As fun as it is, it can be very disappointing as well.  You pick an interesting experiment and gather the materials needed.  You carefully read the instructions and then reread them, just to make sure you understand exactly what you're supposed to do.  You follow the directions, and then....nothing happens.  What a let down!  I know I'm not the only homeschooling mom who has spent time explaining what should've happened during a failed experiment.

Amazing Science!,  a 2 disk DVD set from ScienceAndMath.com, helps solve this problem.  There are 23 experiments performed:

  1. Color Changing Milk
  2. Egg in a Bottle
  3. Exploring Air Pressure
  4. Build a Lemon Battery
  5. Inverted Cup of Water
  6. Candle Suction Power
  7. Amazing Magnetic Force
  8. Lift and Ice Cube with String
  9. Unburnable Money
  10. Matchstick Speedboat
  11. Cloud in a Bottle
  12. Reversing and Image with Water
  13. Floating Eggs
  14. Keeping Paper Dry Under Water
  15. Dry Ice Bubbles
  16. Balloon in a Candle Flame
  17. Ocean in a Bottle
  18. Build a Motor with Lights
  19. Simple Lava Lamp
  20. Invisible Ink
  21. Density Tower
  22. Soda Can Fizz
  23. Build a Motor #2
The science behind each experiment is fully explained by Jason Gibson.  He holds degrees in Engineering and Physics and worked as a rocket scientist for NASA. A complete materials list is given for each experiment, and the materials needed can be found at your local hardware or grocery store, if you don't already have them around the house.  Experiments are fun and engaging.  My boys were begging to do them after watching the videos, and I'm sure your children will be just as eager.  I was already excited  about this DVD, and then I saw the price.  It's only $19.95!  If you're looking for a fun way to add experiments to your science program, or if you need something to help keep your children occupied over the hot summer months, check out this program.

For more reviews of Amazing Science!, go here.



 Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God's Great Covenant: New Testament 1

God's Great Covenant:  New Testament 1 is the 3rd book in a four book chronological Bible study series by Classical Academic Press.  The first two books focus on the Old Testament and the last two books focus on the New Testament (the fourth books is currently in production).  God's Great Covenant:  New Testament 1 teaches the Gospels, and is intended for children in fourth grade and up.  There is a Student Book ($26.95), Teacher's Edtion ($29.95), and mp3 Audio Files ($9.95) available for this program (all 3 can be purchased as a bundle for $56.95).  I received the Student Book and Teacher's Edition for review.

This program has 36 weekly chapters, and they are broken down into 4 units:

  • Unit I:  Jesus, the Son of Man, Has Come...To Live Among His People
  • Unit II:  Jesus, God's Servant, Has Come...To Proclaim the Good News
  • Unit III:  Jesus, the Messiah, Has Come...To Teach About God's Kingdom
  • Unit IV:  Jesus, the Son of God, Has Come...To Conquer Sin and Death
Each unit begins with a short introduction explaining the theme of the unit.  Lessons follow the same pattern, though the four review chapters are slightly different (view a sample lesson here).  Each chapter begins with a Memory Page.  This page contains the Theme of the chapter, the Scriptures referenced, a Memory Passage, Key Facts, and what Prophecy Jesus fulfilled.  The Memory Page is followed by a Story Time page.  This page contains the Bible story for the chapter, and is usually a couple of pages long.  Following the story are Worksheets.  The worksheets contain several questions that require the student to think and interact with the text.  There are multiple choice questions, crossword puzzles, word scrambles, fill in the blank questions, and there are plenty of open ended questions that will challenge the student to really think about the lesson and apply it to their life.  Each unit concludes with a review lesson and a Memory Passage worksheet, a devotional, and a story from Simon (a fictional character who gives a snapshot of daily life at the time of Jesus).

The Teacher's Edition contains an exact copy of the Student Book, but the pages from the Student Book are shrunk down, leaving room in the margins for a ton of notes that expand on the text.  These notes give great information on the historical, geographical, cultural, and theological context of the stories and passages covered. You can view a sample chapter here.

This is another fabulous product from Classical Academic Press.  I love that the lessons pull from each of the gospels, instead of just covering the account from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John individually.  The questions on the worksheet don't allow the student to simply gloss over the text--they have to work and think and wrestle with the text to come up with an answer.  I'm thrilled that this program doesn't assume that children are incapable of thinking deeply about Scripture.The quality of the product is what I've come to expect from this publisher, and well worth the money.

For more reviews of God's Great Covenant:  New Testament Book 1, go here.



 Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Learning to Read

Nicholas has decided that he will read within the next month.  His friend informed him that she's finished her phonics primer and can read now, so he's motivated.  He's been my slowest to learn to read (a combination of my health circumstances and his non-interest), but he's been my most colorful.

Nicholas (reading a Sonlight I Can Read It! book):  "Mom!  This book has curse words in it!!"
Me:  "Huh?"
Nicholas:  "Here!!  It has curse words!"
Me: "Those are italics, Nick."
Nicholas (sounding slightly disappointed): "Oh."

In the past couple of weeks, he's read "sh!t" for "sit" and "p!ss" for "sips".  While teaching a child to read isn't rocket science, it can be frustrating and mind-numbing.  He's definitely found a way to make me pay attention while he's reading to me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Christian Kids Explore Physics

Christian Kids Explore Physics is a science program for children in grades 4-8, published by Bright Ideas Press.  It's a 433 page book with resource CD, and I received a PDF version to review.  The cost for the printed book is $39.95.

This book is broken down into 6 units and 30 total lessons. Each lesson is meant to take a week, doing science two days a week for about 1 or 1.5 hours a day.  The unit titles are:

  • The Foundations of Physics (3 lessons)
  • Matter (6 lessons)
  • Mechanics (5 lessons)
  • Matter in Motion (5 lessons)
  • Energy in Motion (7 lessons)
  • Electricity and Magnetism (4 lessons)

Each unit begins with a unit introduction for the parent, a list of vocabulary words, and list of materials needed.  This page is followed by "Teaching Time", where the concepts are presented to the student. Vocabulary words are defined  in the sidebar, along with a related Bible verse.  The lesson is followed by a "Review It" page, which is a fill in the blank worksheet meant to solidify the main points from the lesson.  After the review comes "Hands-On Time", which include experiments or projects. At the end of each project is a "Think About It" section, and this section presents questions to the student that cause them to think about what they've learned.  Each unit ends with Unit Wrap Up, which is a fill in the blank quiz that reviews the entire unit's contents.  You can view a sample lesson here.  The book concludes with a glossary, 7 coloring pages, a book and resource list, an index, and an answer key for the "Review It" and "Unit Wrap-Up" worksheets. 

The resource CD includes lesson plans, a student activity book (this includes all pages the the student needs to fill out from the text, but instead of copying them from a physical book, you can just print them out), a supply list for each unit, and Family Study Guide for the book Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia.  This study guide is 11 pages long, and includes vocabulary words, discussion questions, and hands-on projects.

Christian Kids Explore Physics is an easy to implement and well-laid out science program.  The supplies needed are easy to find, which is always helpful for actually getting the hands-on portion of a science program completed.  If you're looking for a great physics program for your late elementary or middle school student, check out this program.  Bright Ideas Press also has chemistry, earth and space, and biology programs available.

For more Christian Kids Explore science reviews, go here.



 Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Write with WORLD

I decided I wanted to homeschool before I ever had kids.  One of the main reasons was because I wanted to teach my children how to think and how to successfully communicate their thoughts and ideas with others.  Part of successful communication is writing, but teaching (and learning) this skill is hard!  Enter Write with WORLD, a two year writing curriculum for middle school students from the publishers of God's World News and WORLD Magazine.  The introduction begins with this:
 "What would happen if nationally recognized journalists and writers, award-winning college professors, and the resources of God's World News and WORLD Magazine joined forces?  We asked this question and then posed an even more compelling one:  What would happen if a young student learning to write had access to these journalists, writers, and professors?  This curriculum is our answer. 
Write with WORLD aims to produce young writers who love writing, can write effectively, and intelligently share ideas, beliefs and their worldview."
I was sent year one of Write with WORLD to review.  It consists of 4 units, with 4 lessons in each unit (view the Table of Contents here).  Each lesson is broken down into 5 capsules.  This means that two weeks can be spent on each lesson in a typical school year, and you'll still have a little bit of wiggle room.  There is a Student Textbook and a Parent/Teacher Textbook, and they can only be purchased as a set.  Each year is $95 individually, or $165 if both years are purchased together.  There are plans for a website (access is included with your purchase) where students will have the opportunity to publish their writing, along wtih additional writing subjects to supplement those in the text.

The Student Textbook is written to the student and is non-consumable, and students will keep a Writer's Journal throughout the course.  The lessons are interesting and easy to understand (view a sample lesson here), and the writing assignments are broken down into non-intimidating chunks.  Basic grammar is covered, because knowing grammar is essential to being an effective writer.  This program encourages the student to find their own voice and style for their writing.

There are sections titled "World Wisdom" throughout the text.  In these sections, writers, editors, and photojournalists share how they use the concepts presented in the lessons in their work.  I think these are extremely motivating and encouraging, because they help the student realize that what they are learning can be applied to life outside of school.

The Parent/Teacher Textbook is an exact copy of the Student Textbook with helps added.  There are detailed introductions to each unit and lesson, and there are notes in the margin to help the parent help the student effectively, including tips on grading and tips on helping your student overcome the mental blocks that often accompany writing.

Overall, I'm impressed with Write with WORLD.  My only complaint (and it's silly, I know) is the size of the Parent/Teacher Textbook.  It's 9" x 12" (perfect bound on the short side), and I find it awkward to use and store.  If you have a student in middle school, whether they love writing or are reluctant, I would recommend you take a look at Write with WORLD.

If you are interested in an electronic version (for use on a computer or a tablet like the iPad or Kindle Fire), please leave a comment.  They are trying to figure out if there is sufficient interest in an electronic version.

For more reviews of Write with WORLD, go here.



Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.   

Saturday, April 07, 2012

TruthQuest History: American History for Young Students III

When I was in school, we read textbooks for history.  Little snippets of information and dates were neatly packaged alongside colorful pictures, and the information was presented in a seemingly random order.  I would tell you more about what I learned in history, but to be honest, I don't remember a lot about this subject from my school days.  One of my favorite parts of homeschooling the boys is teaching--though it's more "learning alongside" than "teaching"--history.  We study history chronologically, so we begin at the beginning and study until we hit present day, and then we start over.  We add literature to our history studies, and this makes history come alive.

I'd heard of TruthQuest, but had never taken the time to investigate their guides.  I was happy when the opportunity arose with The Crew to review a guide of my choice.  I chose American History for Younger Students III (1865-2000), because I've been trying to interject more American history into our World history studies.  The TruthQuest guides are written from the perspective that God is in control, and that history is, in fact, His Story.   This guide is written for grades 1-6, and is available as a printed book for $29.95, or as a PDF download for $24.95.

American History for Younger Students III  begins with Reconstruction and ends with Postmodernism, and you'll study the people, events, and ideas that occurred during this time period (the Table of Contents is viewable here).

There are 36 sections in the guide, and each one begins with a short (sometimes it's just a paragraph, other times it's a page or so) introduction to the topic of that section (you can view a sample section here). Following the introduction, there are book lists.  There are non-fiction books, fiction books, and historical fiction books to choose from.  There films recommended for some sections, and activity books recommended.  There are three ThinkWrite topics in this guide; these are writing prompts that encourage the student to think about what they're  learning and write about it.

I love the basic structure of TruthQuest.  Chronological history with book recommendations is right up my alley.  However, I don't care for the writing style in the section introductions.  It is very informal, and while I didn't count, it feels like there are more exclamation points than periods throughout the book.  Here is a sample paragraph:
"Oh, I know what you're thinking!  You're saying to yourself that movies and shows and government decisions aren't about whether or not people came from monkeys.  But guess what! That's not the main part of evolution! The main part is this--it's all about saying there is nothing higher than people.  And if there is no God, there is no one to saw what is right or wrong...and everyone can do what they feel like doing!  Ack!"

This style is too conversational for me, but I wouldn't discount these guides based on that.  The book lists are extensive and can cut out a lot of legwork for those who like to add books to their history studies--I would consider a guide for another age level or time period.

There are 3 Level 1(grades 1-5) guides available, and 8 Level 2 (grades 5-12) available.  To read more about them, go here.



Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.  

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Amazing Animals by Design

Debra Haagen is a homeschooling mom who searched for books for young children that introduced intelligent design.  When she didn't have much success finding what she was looking for, she decided to write her own book, and Amazing Animals by Design is the result of this effort. 

In this 24 page storybook, readers join siblings John and Sarah, and their parents, on a trip to the zoo.  During this trip, the children see many different kinds of animals--everything from elephants and giraffes to ostriches and caracals.  They learn that each animal is designed with features that allow it to eat and survive.  For example, the giraffes have long necks so they can reach food that is high up, and the zebras have stripes to fool predators.  When they return home from their day at the zoo, John asks their parents why they kept hearing the word "design" so much from them and from the people at the zoo.  Their parents explain what design means, and Sarah realizes that the animals weren't made the way their made by accident, but that God designed them perfectly.

Amazing Animals by Design is available for $8.99 for a paperback copy, or for $7.99 for an ebook.  This is a well done picture book.  The text is easy to understand, but isn't watered down, and the artwork is warm and inviting.  It is a great introduction to the topic of intelligent design, and the author hopes to write more books in this series.  

For more reviews of Amazing Animals by Design, go here.



Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.