Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

I first became aware of Apologia when I was looking for a science program.  They've since branched out into areas other than science, including worldview.  I've used their worldview program for younger kids (What we Believe), and was excited to get the opportunity to review the book I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist ($16) and corresponding I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Workbook ($33), which is a high school worldview course.


My original thought was that I'd have Luke & Ezekiel read this book and work through the workbook, even though they are a little younger than the recommended age.  However, when I previewed the book, I realized that while they could read and comprehend much of the contents, that they would get more out of the course if I waited another couple of years until they're well into high school.  Instead, I began reading the book myself.

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist does a fabulous job of taking the reader through the whys of their faith.  It begins with an argument for absolute truth, continues on with the arguments for God, explains why/how miracles are possible, covers the historical accuracy of the New Testament, details why Jesus is who he says he is, and finishes with why the Bible can be trusted as the Word of God (view the Table of Contents here).  The chapters are dense--they present logical arguments and scientific evidence to back up the claims presented, but readable--stories are interspersed that break up the heavy content and relate it to life situations (read a sample chapter here). 

The I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist Workbook is a terrific companion to the book.  Each section is broken down into four sections:
  • "Hook":  reminds you what the chapter was about.
  • "Book":  tests/reinforces what was read through comprehension questions.
  • "Look":  takes the student deeper by have him research the topic on their own.
  • "Took":  a summary of what was learned and application to daily life.
In addition, there are free downloadable chapter tests and downloadable answer keys for both the workbook and the tests with the purchase of the workbook.  You can view the Table of Contents for the workbook here, and a sample chapter here.

I'm looking forward to using this with my boys as they hit high school age.  I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist will challenge them to think through all they've been taught over the years.  I'd recommend this study to anyone, high school age through adult, who wants to challenge themselves to really think through why they believe what they believe. 

For more reviews of I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 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. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

It's a challenge of epic proportions, and it's been plaguing me for a couple of years.  What is it?  Finding a pencil sharpener that will suit the needs of our family, which includes 7 pencil users and 1 pencil eating dog.

We've tried several different brands and types of sharpeners.  Electric and manual, but all had annoying problems.  They were loud, they didn't sharpen the pencil to a good point, they didn't have an auto-stop so they oversharpened the pencil, the leads broke off in the sharpener and were hard to get out, they left half (or more) of the pencil lead covered with wood, the boys had trouble using them, and the list goes on.  When Craig's 1987 woodgrain Panasonic finally died, my search ramped up.  This sharpener was noisy, but at least it gave a decent point. 

Enter the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener.  From the description, it sounded perfect.  I contacted Troy Decoff (a classroom teacher and the owner of Classroom Friendly Supplies), and he graciously sent me a sharpener to review.

It's better than I envisioned.:
  • It sharpens to a fine point.  Every time.
  • It never leaves wood behind to cover the pencil lead.
  • If a lead breaks (rare), it is easy to remove the lead from the sharpener.
  • It doesn't need to be mounted anywhere.
  • Both the lefties and the righties in the house can use it.
  • It's quiet.
  • Everyone, from the 6 year old to the parents, can use it easily.

I do wish it was electric, but that's just my lazy side coming out.  In my defense, we sharpen a lot of pencils for school--they're often left within the reach of Jed (the dog) and he snacks on them, or they're left outside, or they simply disappear.

Priced at $24.99 (including shipping), this sharpener is a steal.  When the blades dull, replacement blades can be purchased (a set of 2 for $22.99).  Three colors are available:  blue, green, and red (there is also a very cute car shaped sharpener for only $19.99).  I was sent the blue sharpener to review, and have since purchased a green sharpener.  I'd love to purchase a red sharpener for the kitchen--the blue is upstairs and the green is in the basement--so that we have easy access to a great sharpener on each level.  The new school year is starting up, which makes it a perfect time to upgrade to this fabulous pencil sharpener.

Disclaimer:  I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Vocab Videos

Vocab Videos is a website devoted to helping your child study vocabulary. Their tagline is "Bringing Vocabulary to Life", and to do this they make use of short videos that use vocabulary words in context.  There are 500 SAT and high school level vocabulary words covered.  In addition to the videos, there are digital quizzes available, a flashcard maker, and digital quizzes to reinforce the words the student is studying.

I was given a Small Educators subscription to review.  This allowed me to created student accounts (for up to 20 students) and the ability to manage them from the teacher dashboard.  This subscription is $74.99 for a year's access.  There are also student accounts only starting at $24.99.


My intention was to allow Luke and Ezekiel to watch these videos.  They've just begun 8th and 7th grades, so they are younger than the targeted age, but we like quirky humor and we like words.  However, when I previewed the videos, I realized this wasn't an option.  The story lines often revolve around boy/girl relationships (at times they reminded me of sitcoms that I don't allow my boys to watch), and there is language we find objectionable (including "Oh my God" and "that sucks").  This didn't come as a complete surprise, as we were told up front that this might be the case.  After I received my subscription and began previewing the videos, there were more issues for our family than I thought there would be when I signed up to do this review.

That said, if my boys were older (say late high school), I might consider letting the use this program for vocabulary study.  The way the words are taught definitely makes them memorable, so I don't want to dismiss the website as an option entirely.  I really think each family needs to take a look and evaluate this program for their family.  Sample videos are available here.


To read more reviews of Vocab Videos, 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, August 08, 2012

King Alfred's English

Have you ever wondered about words in the English language?  You know those words...the ones that make no sense (like "knight").  Why do we speak the way we do?  I have--especially since I started teaching my boys.


King Alfred's English will answer all these questions, and more.  Author Laurie White is a retired homeschooling mom (her children are grown up) who originally set out to write an article on the history of English.  She had used notes from her college class to teach her children, but wanted to make the material suitable for younger children.  The book, King Alfred's English, was born.

This book is aimed at students ages 12 and up.  I did not use it with my boys, but instead read it as summer reading for myself.  It is absolutely fascinating.  We follow a chronological order when studying history, and I've taught this cycle twice now.  I came away from reading King Alfred's English with not only a better understanding of our language, but with a better understanding of history and geography and civilizations of the past.  It begins in the year 55 BC,and continues through modern day, those most of the book is focused on 1066-1611 AD (view the Table of Contents here).

I plan to fold this book into our history studies during high school.  There are teacher helps, including tests and worksheets, available for free, along with additional resources (movie recommendations, links to articles,   primary sources, literature suggestions, etc.) for students.  By using the additional material, you can create a 1/2 credit course in history or 1/4 credit each in history and English.

I received a hardcopy of this book, and it retails for $16.95.  You can also purchase this book for kindle for $5.95.  King Alfred's English should be a part of every family's home library, and at this price it is a great bargain.


For more reviews of King Alfred's English, 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.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


Developed by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a comprehensive online resource for homeschooling families.  It's so comprehensive, I've had a hard time starting this review!

Probably the best place to begin is with the site tour.  There are short videos here that explain how to use all of the information and resources on this site.

What resources are there?  Well, when you subscribe, you'll receive access to lessons written by well known experts in their field.  Adam Andrews  provides the lessons for literature and Terry Johnson (Knowledge Quest) provides the lessons for geography, just for starters.  Other lessons are provided in these areas (and the list is growing!):

  • Career Exploration
  • Chemistry
  • College Choice Guidance
  • Economics
  • Figures in History
  • Filmaking
  • Geography
  • High School Math
  • History
  • Home Economics
  • Lapbooking
  • Literature
  • Music (voice)
  • Reading Lessons
  • Special Needs
  • Technology

In addition to lesson plans, there are several "Schoolhouse Dailies" available.  Here you will find daily lessons in:
  • Grammar
  • Math
  • Writing
  • Hands-on Activities
  • Art
  • Explorers (USA & Canada)
  • Pre-K Activities
  • History
  • and more!

For the price of your monthly subscription, you also get access to the 5 different Schoolhouse Planners. There is a planner for Mom, for Special Needs, for Elementary, for Middle School, and for High School.  There is a library available that contains printable copybooks, crafts, and articles about homemaking, art, encouragement for those rough days, and additional topics.  

Really, this is a site you have to see to believe.  You can try it out for $1 for the first month, and continue for $5.95 per month after that.  This is a steal.  It's a great way to add spice and variety to your homeschool days, and it's constantly growing and getting even better.  


For more reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, 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.