Our September Reads

our_september_reads_2018Fall has officially arrived! – Well, in theory. – Here in SoCal we’re trying to wrap our minds around the fact that it’s fall while still enjoying our swimming pools and sipping lemonade. Learning is well underway, with more activities than ever crowding our calendars and keeping us on our toes. In the midst of all the adventure, it’s time to share the few reads we’ve enjoyed during September. The month’s list is short, but sweet. And each one of them a blessing in one way or another.

We’ve broken down our list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Learning Resources:

Children’s Books:

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… 

  • Politics According to the Bible is an outstanding resource. This was a suggestion through our pastor, and we can’t say enough good things about this book. We have chosen to adopt this as a portion of our oldest daughter’s senior program, and couldn’t be more pleased by what she is learning. We highly recommend this selection.
  • Scarlet Letter was chosen in connection with our history lessons, and has provided a passageway into wonderful conversation and additional learning. While War of the Worlds was a book club choice which offered a fun look into the world of science fiction.
  • The Atlas of Fairy Tales was truly charming, although not what I anticipated. I was given the impression the book itself would be – well – maps! Instead what we found were re-tellings of classic fairy tale stories. Cute, but not “atlas-like” in any regard.

With the start of a new learning year and the return of scheduled activities, our family often notices a smaller collection of reads. However, we’re confident things will pick back up with an entirely new stockpile of books. Join us again during the month of October as we explore a world of books and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

We’re curious… Does your family determine reading selections which correspond with the seasons/holidays?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

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Review: Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Complete Program by Roman Roads Media

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“Asking ‘Why rhetoric?’ is similar to asking ‘Why logic?’ Again, the answer is self-evident. Without logic, the question couldn’t exist. Without rhetoric, the question couldn’t be well answered. The question, then, is not ‘Why should we study rhetoric?’ The more appropriate question is, ‘How could we not study rhetoric?'”

We love developing new skills. With the help of Roman Roads Media and Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Complete Program our family is on a new adventure learning the fine art of effective communication.

Roman Roads Media specializes in classical curriculum for home and classroom use. Amongst their incredible line of resources families can find materials for teaching logic, western culture, latin, poetry, history, and rhetoric. To assist us in our studies, we chose to take a closer look at Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric, recommended for high school students and above.

The complete program includes five key components:

  • A Fitting Words Textbookroman_roads_3
  • A Student Workbook, including exercises and activities for each lesson, and six Speech Judging Sheets.
  • An Answer Key, including answers to every exercise and exam.
  • A Fitting Words Exam Pack, including nine exam reviews and nine exams. Exams being two to four pages in length, primarily consisting of essay questions.
  • And a Fitting Words video course, – Streaming or Blu-Ray/DVD + Streaming – in which students receive in-depth teaching from the author for every lesson. Students are given numerous examples, illustrations, and video clips demonstrating good oratory from history, extra activities, and more.

As the curriculum is recommended for high school students and above, I determined this would be a perfect fit for my high school senior. While I do have another student in high school, I wished to use my oldest daughter as a gauge for whether her younger siblings would benefit from the curriculum earlier in their learning program. As I had never taken a classical rhetoric course myself, I thought it would be fun to join her in her studies. One afternoon a week we sit down together and complete a given lesson; our time lasting approximately two hours. This schedule best suits our routine and needs; however the program could easily be completed throughout the course of the week should a family desire to do so. Having received the curriculum a month ago, we have thus far completed the entirety of Unit One and will continue on until the finish of the course at the close of our year.

Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric has proven to be a well-organized, wonderful resource for us. The curriculum is simple to understand, thought-provoking, engaging, and enjoyable. Video lessons are brief yet highly educational; insightful and Biblically sound. The given exercises are more than manageable and often fun verbal prompts for discussion. While we consider ourselves fairly well-read, we’ve been encouraged to study works we had yet to explore such as selections from Quintilian and Plato’s Gorgias. We’ve developed memorization by studying Scripture and key speeches given throughout the Bible.

Having used the course for several weeks, we are confident this was the right choice for our family and accurately assessed for high school students and above. We’ve found the lessons to be achievable for my oldest daughter, while encouraging her to study further. Our high school sophomore has expressed a desire to join in our lessons and she will be doing so from this point on.

While Fitting Words does a beautiful job teaching rhetoric, we felt the curriculum was a perfect fit because we had already laid a strong foundation in logic and apologetics. While these studies are by no means required in order to use Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric, students might find they enhance the learning experience and compliment the lessons. Thankfully, Roman Roads also offers a course in Logic to assist families in teaching this skill.

“Rhetoric is the art of using words well, and is measured by our ability to teach men the truth, to move men to goodness, and to delight men with verbal beauty. Effective speaking and writing is informative, powerful, and elegant.”

Fitting Words is a thorough course in rhetoric, and we are enjoying the multitude of benefits it offers. We are excited to continue on with our studies and develop this lovely skill. Thanks to Roman Roads Media and Fitting Words our family is on a new adventure learning the fine art of effective communication.

If you’d like to learn more about Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Complete Program or Roman Roads Media, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. To read additional reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Roman Roads Media has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Our July Reads

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Our family has officially classified July as the busiest month of the year. With three birthdays, a comic convention, the end of our summer reading program, and a holiday thrown in it is amazing we’ve managed to get much reading done. Did we forget to mention we also returned to formal learning? But where there is a will, there is a way. And reading time was most definitely found!

We’ve broken down this month’s list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read (Irma Simonton Black & Seymourlittle_old_man_who_could_not_read Fleishman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – An old toy maker never wanted to learn to read until his wife went away on a visit and he had to do the grocery shopping by himself.
  • Science Verse (Jon Scieszka) ⭐⭐ – What if a boring lesson about the food chain becomes a sing-along about predators and prey? A twinkle-twinkle little star transforms into a twinkle-less, sunshine-eating-and rhyming Black Hole? What if amoebas, combustion, metamorphosis, viruses, the creation of the universe are all irresistible, laugh-out-loud poetry?

Learning Resources:

  • A Ticket Around the World (Natalia Diaz & Melissa Owens) ⭐⭐⭐ – Join a young boy as he hops around the globe, visiting friends in 13 different countries spanning all six populated continents. Along the way, he introduces us to each friend’s environment and customs, and shares interesting facts about each country’s culture, language, food, geography, wildlife, landmarks and more.
  • When on Earth? (DK Publishing) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – In more than 60 specially commissioned maps, this one-of-a-kind history book shows where, when, and how history happened.

General Reading:

  • Shelf Life: Stories by the Book (Gary Paulsen) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Newbery Honor author Gary Paulsen has long been an ardent supporter of books, reading, and literacy programs. To further the cause of ProLiteracy Worldwide, he asked prominent authors to write an original story; the only restriction was that each story was to include mention of a book.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… 

  • The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read is a classic for a reason. This book is everything charming and lovely; with a special message for kids who might be struggling with a desire to read.
  • Science Verse is funny, but please note this is not written from a Biblical worldview.
  • Shelf Life was a neat read, and a lesson in the telling of short stories.

Our local summer reading program has officially wrapped up for the year, and we’re a little sorry to see it go. With a return to formal book studies, however, we’ll see an increase in classical literature and more fun on the way. Join us again during the month of August as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: When does your family plan to return to formal studies and book work?

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Review: Bible Study Guide for All Ages

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We love studying the Bible. So when we have an opportunity to discover new resources to learn God’s Word, we jump at the chance of a new adventure. Thanks to a review of Bible Study Guide for All Ages and their Advanced (5th & 6th grade) pages, we’re gaining a better understanding of Scripture and having tons of fun.

“The Bible Study Guide is a Bible curriculum that takes all ages through the Bible at the same time, studying some Old Testament and some New Testament each year.
Students learn the “big picture” of the story of the Bible, detailed knowledge of the Bible and, best of all, how to apply it to their lives.”
~ Bible Study Guide for All Ages

To get a full picture of what Bible Study Guide for All Ages offers, our family was provided an opportunity to review several unique resources to help us in our daily lessons. We chose to get a closer look at the Advanced Student Pages, recommended for grades fifth and sixth. We were given a physical set of the Advanced Student Pages, an Advanced Teacher KeyBible Book Summary Cards, Wall Maps and Timeline, and a Label Book.

Our family has been on summer break for the past few weeks, but Bible is an area of learning we never put on hold. Several days a week, the goal was to find a quiet spot in the house and focus on our studies. Before beginning our lessons, it was necessary to take an afternoon to look through all of the provided material and familiarize myself with the program. The Wall Maps and Timeline in particular needed special attention, as preparations had to be made in order to begin our first lessons. Once this was accomplished, daily learning progressed smoothly with preparation taking minutes and lessons being approximately twenty to thirty minutes in length; including wall map, timeline, and Bible Card portions of each lesson.

Lessons in Bible Study Guide for All Ages contain a number of daily activities. Lesson sheets are double-sided, printed on a legal-sized pad. On the first side, students are guided through either map studies or a timeline study based on the Bible lesson; alternating between the two from one lesson to another.  After searching out and reading the lesson’s Bible passage, children are then taken through a series of Bible activities such as “Remember It”, which asks questions based on the reading; “Memory Workout”; “Guess What”, offering fun background information and trivia; Timeline or Map activities; “Apply It”; and “Get Active”, which offers practical tips for applying the lesson. The back side of each lesson includes a large comic strip of the day’s lesson, in which children are guided through a series of steps to complete the comic to tell the Bible story.

The Wall Maps and Timeline set includes three large maps and a large timeline. These tools are used daily as students progress through their lessons and learn about Scripture. To assist us, we were given a Label Book which included tips on labeling our charts and specific labels for each lesson. Labels are clearly identified with corresponding lessons, and those which will be reused through the entire course. Labels require minor preparation, such as being cut out and ready for placing on charts as directed in The Advanced Teacher Key.

The Advanced Teacher Key assists parents/educators with helping children fill in their daily lesson sheets and offers helpful information to make the most of each activity. For families who choose to use the large wall maps and timeline, the Advanced Teacher Key gives specific detail as to which labels will be needed for each lesson, and when to place them on the appropriate chart. Together with the Bible Book Summary Cards, which lay out specific details regarding each book of the Bible, students are given a full picture of Scripture covered.

Using Bible Study Guide for All Ages was simple and well-organized. The program runs smoothly and seamlessly, requiring very little preparation. The variety of activities for each lesson were helpful in keeping lessons from becoming monotonous or dull. We liked the map and timeline selections in the advanced student pages, but found after several lessons that we preferred doing all such work on our lesson page itself and not using the wall maps further. However, we could see the benefit in having a large, present reminder of lessons throughout the day. The comic portion of each study was a lot of fun, and an activity we looked forward to completing each day. With a suggested age category for the Advanced Student Pages being fifth and sixth grade, we believe this to be a good fit. The lessons were too simple for all of our older children, in junior and senior high, but it was a fun experience encouraging our youngest in his studies.

While we enjoyed the overall program, we would have liked to see the curriculum begin with Genesis 1, instead of beginning with later chapters on Abraham. It is important not to assume children have an understanding of Creation nor the fall of mankind, which is essential to a solid Biblical foundation. Parents might wish to be aware that at this stage in learning the curriculum is intended to help children better understand Scripture and its place in history, and will not be an in-depth Bible study. Considering these factors, we found Bible Study Guide for All Ages to be a good survey of the Bible, helping us gain a big picture of God’s work.

 

We love studying God’s Word and learning more about the world He created. Reviewing Bible Study Guide for All Ages and their Advanced pages has been a learning experience and a lot of fun. If you’d like to learn more about Advanced Curriculum or Bible Study Guide for All Ages, please visit them at their website and on Facebook and Twitter. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Bible Study Guide for All Ages has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Are timelines a part of your daily Bible study?

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Our June Reads

 

our_june_reads_2018It’s summer time! Instead of things slowing down, they’ve amped up higher than ever with a ton of fun activities and even more incredible reads. Summer reading programs have begun, and this year we’re participating in two separate libraries; reaping the rewards of great literature. June’s list has a few new books to hit the market, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • Photicular Books (Workman Publishing Company) ⭐⭐⭐ – Photicular technology. Each full-color image is like a 3-D movie on the page, delivering a rich, fluid, immersive visual experience. The result is breathtaking. The cheetah bounds. The gazelle leaps. The African elephant snaps its ears. The gorilla munches the ocean_puzzlesleaves off a branch. It’s mesmerizing, as visually immediate as a National Geographic or Animal Planet special.
  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor (Robert Burleigh) ⭐⭐ – Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor.
  • Ocean Puzzles (Dr. Gareth Moore) ⭐⭐⭐ – Ahoy! You’re an accidental pilot aboard a submarine that’s sinking fast! Solve the puzzles to take control and navigate safely back to land. Devised by an expert on brain training, these mental gymnastics—and a friendly dolphin—will see you through your ocean adventure! You can’t skip a puzzle, but there are hints to help and full answers to get you on your way.
  • The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea (Helaine Becker) ⭐⭐ – The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea shows how the ocean works and why this immense ecosystem needs our protection. Experiments using everyday materials help explain scientific concepts, such as why the ocean is salty, how temperature affects water density and why fish don’t get waterlogged.atlas_obscura

Learning Resources:

Books for Mum:

  • The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (Casia Lisa) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – guernsey_literaryJanuary 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… 

  • The photicular books were amazing to view. Learning how these books are made was even more fascinating.
  • One of our libraries is focusing on an ocean theme this summer, thus the increase in literature on this topic. Ocean Puzzles is an incredible picture book; one in a series. The included puzzles will challenge your children to think hard.
  • I never thought I would be a collector of anything. However, I’ve discovered I love maps/globes and encyclopedia of information. Atlas Obscura is amazing! I borrowed our copy from the local library. But, it’s on my growing list of “need to own”.
  • We’re studying Botany this coming learning year, which is why we purchased The Botany Coloring Book, but, frankly, it’s amazing! If you’ve yet to see it, check it out! It’s incredible.
  • The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society was a suggestion from my oldest girl. It seems a movie is coming out in a couple of months and, being a period piece, she was drawn into the story. It was a great read, but probably not one for the kids. There is a little – a very little – bit of language, and the subject matter being post-WWII the read was a sobering one. I am very much looking forward to the movie, which I can ClearPlay to ensure anything inappropriate be removed; allowing for our family’s enjoyment.

Coming soon… Comic Con, a day trip, heading back to daily book lessons, and so much more. Homeschooling keeps us busy exploring and learning through life experiences. Join us again during the month of July as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: Is your family signed up for a summer reading program?

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Review: The World’s Story 1: The Ancients

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I have a confession. I have not been happy with our history curriculum choice. It came highly recommended, it had a ton of hands-on activities, and it covered a great deal of information. What was the problem? Not once did it mention the Bible, nor God’s plan for the world He created. I found myself constantly needing to add my own supplements to the lessons and, on occasion, re-word selections entirely. Now, thanks to The World’s Story 1: The Ancients from Master Books, we have the opportunity to explore history like never before, and this mama couldn’t be more pleased!

The World’s Story 1: The Ancients tells the fascinating story of ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas from a strong Biblical perspective. Featuring an engaging historical narrative, The Ancients covers Biblical history, educating students about civilizations mentioned in the Bible, up to the development of the early Church. Designed for grades sixth through eighth, The Ancients is the first in a three-volume series in The World’s Story.

“I like to say that if we do not learn history, it is impossible to learn from history. If we do not learn from history, we cannot change the future. We need to learn the mistakes of the past so that we do not repeat them; we need to understand the lessons of the past so that we can make better decisions.”
~ Angela O’Dell

Our family was offered a PDF copy of both student text and teacher guide of The World’s Story 1: The Ancients, which was especially beneficial as I could print multiple copies of any worksheets needed; essential in a home where history is studied as a family unit. The student textbook contains twenty-eight chapters covering creation through the end of the Roman empire. Each chapter includes a brief reading, Biblical references, map work, opportunities for analysis and connection to the world in which they live today, photos, and much more. The teacher guide includes weekly lesson schedules, student activity sheets, review, answer keys, and more. A comprehensive introduction review_worldstory1_studentpagesassists parents in making the most of this curriculum, including tips for struggling learners and teaching multiple ages.

This was a fantastic opportunity for me to gain an overview of the curriculum itself; determining whether it would be a good fit in the future, giving a feel for the material, and where the Lord might be directing our lessons. The World’s Story 1: The Ancients is the first in a coming series of three. The World’s Story 2: The Middle Ages will be available soon; with The World’s Story 3: The Modern Age being released Spring 2019. A review of The Ancients would determine whether an investment in further volumes would be something of interest.

Over the course of a week, I spent several hours a day studying both the student text and teacher guide. The curriculum itself did not mandate this, by any means. The Ancients is a well constructed course, with many helps to assist both student and parent in their daily lessons. Under normal circumstances, an hour’s reading through the introductory passages and helps would have sufficed to begin the course. My main objective was to compare The World’s Story with our current curriculum with a remarkably similar name, thus more time was given for this review. I found the curriculum to be a perfect fit for the suggested age category, with the possibility of being extended further for older students.

I cannot say enough lovely things about this curriculum. I appreciated the introduction and the care taken in explaining the importance of studying ancient history. Not all students have an appreciation for this and the author did a fantastic job laying a foundation for the lessons. We loved that the Bible is the ultimate guide in using this curriculum, leading students back to God continually. Our previous curriculum – while well-organized and hands-on – missed the key element of a strong Biblical foundation and continual Scriptural reference. review_worldstory1_teacherpagesWe’re incredibly excited that we are given a full, accurate account of the world’s beginning and a better understanding of God’s plan for His people. We’re quite pleased with the amount, and diversity, of activities included in the curriculum. The World’s Story far exceeds anything we could have anticipated. Families can expect to explore art studies, artifacts study, map work, copy work, narration, sketching, hands-on activities, timelines, “Dig Deeper” selections which include additional research prompts, and so much more! And the best part? Everything is included in the set. No more buying of additional quiz/test books or answer keys. This set is all we needed to start our adventure in history.

While a particular curriculum selection might fit our family overall, we inevitably need to tweak the details and rearrange lessons to best meet our needs. I was pleased to discover author Angela O’Dell had already anticipated this and created the material for such a purpose. Aside from exchanging a few written exercises for verbal, this curriculum is a fantastic fit. One thing we might note is that The World’s Story does not include suggested literature selections related to each chapter. However, in each “Dig Deeper!” exercise, several areas of further study are suggested which would help direct in choosing additional reading.

With the help of The World’s Story 1: The Ancients and Master Books this mum has gone from discouraged to excited about this coming year’s study of history. I can’t wait to dig into our lessons, knowing everything we’re learning is directing our children back to God’s Word and His plan for our family. I am overjoyed by the amount of fun, educational adventure we’re going to have this year, and it’s all thanks to this remarkable addition to our learning routine!

If you’d like to learn more about The World’s Story 1: The Ancients and Master Books please visit them at their website – where you can download a preview or place your order for this incredible resource – and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: How “hands-on” is history in your home, and how has it changed as your children began high school years?

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Review: Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.™

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When our family first began homeschooling, I found myself overwhelmed by the wealth of information available. I was undecided regarding personal goals for our children or which method of homeschooling was best. Through prayer and my husband’s leading, we determined there were three goals we were seeking for our children. We wanted them to read well, so that they might take in the Word of God; write well, so that they could communicate what the Lord was speaking to them; and think well, in order to analyze the world in which they live and serve the Lord righteously. During this past month, our family had the pleasure of reviewing Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.™ which is helping us maintain these goals and encouraging our children to put on their thinking caps!

Producing quality products since 1958, The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a vast selection ofreview_criticalthinking_sample2 resources designed to help teach children critical thinking. Through the medium of math, vocabulary, reading, writing, science, and more, students are taught to analyze information and gain a deeper understanding of the world in which they live. Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 is one of several in the Critical Thinking Detective Lineup. A 32-page paperback workbook, Book 1 leads students through a series of detective cases challenging them to analyze data and develop observation skills. Designed for grades four through twelve, students will find each case fun to solve. 

“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.”
– Michael Baker, President

Our family was given a physical copy of Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 to review with our son. Little Man is eleven now; the perfect age to ensure those critical thinking skills are being formed and solidified. The thin paperback had an appealing cover which attracted his attention and increased his interest in the book. Each lesson began with a short mystery, followed by four suspects’ accounts of the case. Based on the details of the mystery and the information given, our son needed to determine which suspects were innocent and which was the guilty party. To assist him, each mystery included a suspect sheet upon which he could record a person’s name and reasons why he believed them to be innocent or guilty, along with sentence numbers to support his reasoning. My goal was to incorporate one to two lessons per day into our routine, completing a minimum of four cases per week over the course of several weeks.

During our first lesson, I worked closely with my son to ensure he understood what was being asked of him. I offered assistance if needed, and helped him with writing down his review_criticalthinking_sample1thoughts. After a few cases, we chose to work through occasional cases verbally. My son would read the mystery and build a solid case for each suspect’s innocence or guilt, then he would ask for my attention and proceed to lay out his case. Afterwards we would check the answer sheet included in the back of the book and discover if he was correct. Our initial lessons took approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, provided my son stayed on task. The remainder of our lessons around ten minutes in length.

Working through Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 was simple. The curriculum was well laid out, with fun graphics of each suspect. The overall format was organized, methodical, review_criticalthinking_wJAGand helpful. While my son was able to solve most of the mysteries without difficulty, we did find a few of the cases harder to solve than others mostly due to a miscommunication in vocabulary. While we understood a suspect’s words to have one meaning, upon looking at the answer sheet we discovered his words had a different connotation. This frustrated my son at first, however it proved to be a good lesson in understanding proper communication and learning to look at words carefully to find double meaning. Upon completion, I appreciate how Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 has helped teach our son to slow down and focus on the details of a story and the importance of context clues. The cases themselves were quite funny, with suspects stealing potted plants from storefront windows and kittens snagging the neighbor’s barbecue.

We love discovering new curriculum. We’re overjoyed when we come across resources which help us achieve our goals in reading well, writing well, and thinking well. Critical Thinking Detective has been an exercise in all three, and we’re blessed in having had the experience. Now, on to Book Two!

If you’d like to learn more about Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 or The Critical Thinking Co.™, please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, Twitter or Google+. Be sure to take advantage of this limited time offer: A FREE set of critical thinking puzzles valued at over $75! Find resources you’d like to purchase? Receive free shipping and 15% off any size order now until the end of 2018 by using coupon code TOSCREW18.
To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what The Critical Thinking Co. has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Are you currently using a curriculum to help develop critical thinking skills?

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Our May Reads

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How can it possibly be the end of May? Didn’t this month just begin! No matter how often I tell myself things will slow down near the end of the school year, we never seem to make it. In fact, it always seems more busy than ever. This has been a fun month of reading, learning, exploring, and increasing in wisdom. May’s list has a few new books to hit the market, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Picture Books:

  • A Year Full of Stories (Angela McAllister) ⭐⭐⭐ – This treasury of 52 stories collects together a rich resource of myths, fairy tales and legends from around the curious_crittersworld, with a story for every week of the year.
  • Hippos Can’t Swim and Other Fun Facts (Laura Lyn DiSiena & Hannah Eliot) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This hilarious book is full of fun facts about all sorts of animals, from sleepy ants to jellyfish that glow!
  • Curious Critters (David FitzSimmons) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Enjoy amazing close-up images of twenty-one common yet often overlooked North American animals. Whimsical but educational narratives accompanying each animal highlight fascinating natural history information.

Learning Resources:

  • Quick Answers to Tough Questions (Bryan Osborne & Bodie Hodge) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Leading readers through six main areas of discussion, apologists Bryan and Bodie have dedicated themselves to teaching the Word of God and presenting the gospel message.
  • Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities (Amy Stewart) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.
  • The Big, Bad Book of Botany (Michael Largo) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Organized alphabetically, The Big, Bad Book of Botany combines the latest in biological wicked_plantsinformation with bizarre facts about the plant kingdom’s oddest members, including a species that is more poisonous than a cobra and a prehistoric plant that actually “walked.”
  • Wild Animals of the South (Dieter Braun) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Famous German illustrator Dieter Braun offers his readers an accurate representation of animals from the southern hemisphere in this gorgeously illustrated volume.
  • Wild Animals of the North (Dieter Braun)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – From the polar bears of the Arctic to the North American pumas and pandas in Asia, North takes children on an exciting journey of discovery. The stunning and accurate drawings show these animals in all their natural majesty and the witty and charming descriptions will teach children all about their new favorite animals!
  • Smart About Sharks (Owen Davey)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Owen Davey returns to nonfiction to explain the mysteries of those denizens of the deep. Some deadly, some not-so-deadly, and almost all just generally misunderstood.
  • Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature (Amanda Wood & Mike Jolley) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Natural World explores and explains why living things look and behave the way they do in a series of visually compelling information charts.
  • Under Water/Under Earth (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Dive below the surface and find out what happens under earth and under sea—from early submarines and deep-sea life to burrowing animals and man-made tunnels.
  • 50 Cities of the U.S.A. (Gabrielle Balkan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Explore skyscraper streets, museum miles, local food trucks and city parks of the United States of America and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, culture, and diversity that have helped make America what it is today.

Books for Fun:

  • Remnant Trilogy (Tim Chaffey & K. Marie Adams) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A three-book series surrounding the life of Noah. We are given a thoughtful look at this incredible man of God and taken on a journey in Biblical truths.

Book Club Reads:

  • Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – For Guy Montag, a career fireman fantastic_voyagefor whom kerosene is perfume, this is not just an official slogan. It is a mantra, a duty, a way of life in a tightly monitored world where thinking is dangerous and books are forbidden.
  • Fantastic Voyage (Isaac Asimov) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Four men and a woman are reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, sent in a miniaturized atomic sub through a dying man’s carotid artery to destroy a blood clot in his brain. If they fail, the entire world will be doomed.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… All of these books were fantastic; there wasn’t a single one we disliked or regretted picking up.
We are absolutely in love with just about everything coming out of Flying Eye BooksWild About Sharks, Wild Animals… The illustrations are absolutely fabulous, and the pages within hold a wealth of information.
The Big, Bad Book of Botany is a fantastic resource to have on hand, along with another in the series we’ve recommended, The Big, Bad Book of BeastsOwning both is definitely one of my goals for this coming year. For now, I’ve kidnapped a copy from the local library.
And, finally, Master Books – Quick Answers… and Remnant Trilogy. Visit their website, peruse their resources, and download samples of their incredible curriculum. I wish I had discovered this company years ago. There are not enough adjectives to describe this fantastic Bible-based company or their resources.

Our local summer reading program begins this coming week – which always means a ton of good reads – and we’ll be gearing up for another year of homeschool adventures in just a short month. Join us again during the month of June as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading. What will we read next?

“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
~ Psalm 101:3

Your Turn!: Are you currently part of a book club?

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Review: The Remnant Trilogy

review_noah

Summer break is upon us, and that can only mean one thing… Great summer reads. Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and so much more! For an entire season, we focus on reading as many incredible books as we can fit into our free days and during our trips to outdoor adventures. For this mum, the reading marathon started off with the incredible Remnant Trilogy from Tim Chaffey, K. Marie Adams, and Master Books. What an amazing way to begin!

The Remnant Trilogy is a three-book series surrounding the life of Noah. Through the Remnant Trilogy we are given a thoughtful look at this incredible man of God and taken on a journey in Biblical truths.

Noah: Man of DestinyDiscover the rich background of Noah and his family members as portrayed at the Ark Encounter. Witness the struggle of a righteous man’s battle against a culture that thought of evil continually. Explore what it may have been like for a righteous man to relate to God before the Bible was written. (Master Books)

Noah: Man of Resolve – Packed with action, adventure, and heartbreak, the second installment of the Remnant Trilogy continues the imaginative and respectful look at the life of this hero of the faith as God shapes him into the man who eventually saves humanity’s future. (Master Books)

Noah: Man of God – Adventure, wonder, and biblical history await readers on this riveting journey through the pre-Flood world, leading to an epic confrontation between the Creator’s faithful preacher of righteousness and the serpent’s priestess and her legions of darkness. Noah: Man of God weaves together the storylines from the first two books and delivers an unforgettable conclusion to The Remnant Trilogy. (Master Books)

“Most people think of Noah as the man who built a large ship and spent months caring for thousands of animals. But who was he and what events shaped who he would become? We wrote this novel to challenge Christians to look closely at the life of a man who walked with God.”
~ Tim Chaffey & K. Marie Adams

Our family was blessed with a PDF copy of the entire Remnant Trilogy for review. Each book is approximately three hundred pages in length and includes a number of incredible resources at the back of each volume. Additional sections included a glimpse of the coming novel and “Behind the Fiction”. In “Behind the Fiction” we are given three areas to consider: “Answering Questions Raised By the Novel”, “Encounter This”, and “Borrowed From the Bible”. “Encounter This” gives an inside look at the Ark Encounter itself, and how the authors of the Remnant Series had the opportunity to work behind the scenes for the past few years. In “Borrowed From the Bible” the authors shed light on certain events and customs found in the novel which are similar to those found in the Bible.

While I will offer the Remnant Trilogy to my older children to read in the near future, I first wished to read through the series myself. I find I tend to be a quick reader; thus each novel  took me approximately four to five hours to finish. Perusing the additional resources was a slower process, and one well worth the effort. I spent an average of one-and-a-half hours reading through the materials in each volume. A once-through was a good foundation, but truly feel these materials are worth a second or third look and will more than likely be revisiting them in the future.

The Remnant Trilogy was a great read! From beginning to end the series was entertaining, enjoyable, and simple to follow. The stories included fun and unexpected moments of humor. I particularly enjoyed the authors’ inclusion of “bean brew” and “leaf brew”. The thought of Noah needing coffee to get his day going was cute. Throughout the stories we are given glimpses of Biblical truths and brought back to the beauty of God’s Word. These moments were seamlessly woven into the story itself and beautifully accomplished. My favorite portion of each novel, however, was the additional materials at the end. I love how the authors chose to use the medium of a story to increase us in wisdom and teach Scripture, answering tough questions we face on a day-to-day basis. Altogether, the Remnant Trilogy makes for a wonderful read, and a fantastic learning opportunity.

Summer has just begun. If the Remnant Trilogy is any indication of what the remainder of our reading marathon will be like, we’re in for a treat.

If you’d like to learn more about The Remnant Trilogy and Master Books please visit them at their website – where you can download a preview or place your order for this incredible resource – and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: Which do you prefer, “bean brew” or “leaf brew”?

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Review: Quick Answers to Tough Questions

review_quickanswersWe may have mentioned one or twice that our learning year is almost at an end. On one hand we’re winding down and preparing for a brief season of relaxation. On the other… Mom is busy planning for next year, and doing a great deal of praying over our curriculum choices. The first area of consideration is always Biblical studies and logic. While the Lord has clearly given us direction for our girls, my son’s lessons were still in question. That is until we had the privilege of reviewing Quick Answers to Tough Questions from Bryan Osborne, Bodie Hodge, and Master Books.

Quick Answers to Tough Questions provides Christians with simple, precise, quick answers to important questions we face on a frequent basis. Topics include creation, evolution, the age of the earth, Noah’s Ark, death, suffering, and more. Leading readers through six main areas of discussion, apologists Bryan and Bodie have dedicated themselves to teaching the Word of God and presenting the gospel message.

“Biblical history and a biblical worldview help us to understand the past, present, and future. Too many believers have fallen victim to those who say that the Bible’s history is false or that science has disproved it. Equip yourself to address the skeptical questions and comments of believers and unbelievers alike and successfully stand strong in your defense of the inerrancy and truth of God’s Word.”

Our family was incredibly blessed with a printed, paper-backed copy of Quick Answers to Tough Questions for review. While excited to read this book for myself, my main objective quickanswers_quicklook1was to identify whether this would be a good fit for our son’s learning adventure next year, when he will be entering sixth grade. I wished to approximate the length of our lessons and map out an organized routine. For my own reading, I progressed through several lessons a day noting any difficulty in vocabulary and possibility of deeper study. I was pleased to find I was able to read through each lesson in a matter of minutes, while most lessons provided plenty of additional study. Biblical references abound, and that is always a plus in my book!

While no specific age category has been suggested for the read, after our assessment, we believe this resource would be of benefit for those ten and up or younger students with high vocabulary skills. This will be a perfect fit for our son; slightly challenging, but not overwhelming. Each lesson was only two pages in length. Setting aside time for the possibility of additional questions our son might have or complimentary topics we wish to explore, we are planning for a twenty to thirty minute Bible study time each morning of our learning week.

Friends, we couldn’t be more pleased with this resource! We love the organized quickanswers_quicklook2progression of topics and questions being presented. Lessons are simple, yet offer so much wisdom. As we mentioned, Biblical references are many; offering not just opinion, but truth from the Word of God. We love that each question presented is one we as adults face on a regular basis, helping prepare our children for questions they too might face. As an educator, I appreciate the ability to delve deeper into many of these topical questions regarding scientific study and historic figures mentioned in the lessons. Given the bonus section, “More Answers”, at the back of the book which offers additional reading for study, we feel certain this resource will be well used during the coming year.

We love discovering new educational resources, especially those which build our faith and edify our family. Quick Answers to Tough Questions is a fantastic resource and one which we can’t wait to implement in the coming year. With Biblical studies and logic squared away, we’re excited to continue planning the rest of the coming year’s learning routine. Each season is an adventure, and we can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do next!

If you’d like to learn more about Quick Answers to Tough Questions and Master Books please visit them at their website – where you can download a preview or place your order for this incredible resource – and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: How big a role do apologetics and logic play in your learning routine?

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