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

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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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Review: Heroes of History – Ronald Reagan by YWAM Publishing

review_reaganWhen our children were little, unit studies were a regular portion of our routine. We had lessons surrounding good literature, sessions focused on character study and more. As the kids got bigger such studies made less of a showing; until recently. This month, our family had an opportunity to review Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side in the Heroes in History Series from YWAM Publishing, and this mom couldn’t be more thrilled with the incredible learning adventures these lessons are bringing to the table.

YWAM Publishing is a division of Youth With A Mission. YWAM Publishing produces materials covering a range of topics such as Missions, Homeschooling, Christian Living, and more. From printed material to audio books and MP3 downloads, you’ll find a multitude of resources available. Of particular interest to our family are Christian Heroes: Then & Now and Heroes of History, which focus on bringing the shaping of history to life with remarkable true stories and trusting God to accomplish extraordinary exploits for His kingdom.

Choosing from the vast selection of historical figures to focus our attentions was not easy. There are many remarkable people we would enjoy learning more about. Due to his recent reagan_ca
passing, we were tempted to study more on Billy Graham: American’s Pastor. Several historic American figures were incredibly tempting: John Adams: Independence Forever, Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom, George Washington:True Patriot and more. However, after much consideration, we opted to study Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side. With recent activity in California politics, our oldest daughter entering her senior year in a few short weeks, and a general knowledge of this gentleman, we thought this would be an excellent historical study to end our learning year.

Having never had the pleasure of reading through any of the Heroes of History series, this was an adventure for our family. We received a lovely paperback book to review; read aloud during group history time and studied two days a week in our home for approximately two hours. Ideally, all four of our children – ranging from my junior in high school to my fifth-grade son – would be present. After our reading, activities would be chosen which would bring chapters to life and give deeper insight into President Reagan’s life.

To assist with choosing beneficial activities, we were also given a lovely, digital Ronald Reagan Unit Study to review! Unit Study Guides are adaptable to include Small Groups, Classroom use, and Homeschool. The homeschooling overview being the best fit for our current needs. Each guide includes adaptations for the parents’ role including parent-directed study, student-directed study, and working with children of varying ability levels reagan_outlineand learning styles. Within the study guide itself the unit is broken down into categories such as Key Quotes, Display Corner, Chapter Questions, Student Explorations, Community Links, Social Studies, Related Themes to Explore, and Culminating Events; each with many suggested activities. At the end of the study guide is an exhaustive list of books and resources for further study, answers to chapter questions, and social studies reproducible pages. Our Unit Study Guide covered a multitude of learning areas: history, geography, essay writing, creative writing, reading comprehension, public speaking drama and art.

Our reading of Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side was a breeze. The chapters were short, fun, and easy to follow. The book covered the life of President Reagan from his youth to his death, and the impact his life made on the world. Our read was enjoyable and educational. I’m ashamed to admit I had not remembered an attempt was on his life – although as we were reading I vaguely recalled hearing about this – nor did I knowreagan_wksht much about his background other than his having been an actor. It was fascinating learning about his history as a sports announcer and life guard. Looking through the unit study, I was absolutely amazed! The guide is incredibly comprehensive with many activities and options to explore. From a teaching perspective, I appreciated the helpful tips on how to make the most of this curriculum and the chapter questions. I especially liked the biography time periods, curriculum timeline, and character qualities chart; these visuals make it easier to plan future unit studies. Student explorations offered hands-on projects, audio/visual projects, arts, and crafts which were suitable for all our children. Having a display corner was especially appealing. Listening to old radio programs is a family pastime, so it was fun to find this activity already listed in the study guide. We had the opportunity to can food, create maps, construct journals, and so much more.

While our first reading of Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side went quickly, with a select amount of activity chosen, I would like to revisit this sometime in the coming year and progress through the unit study with greater depth. Given the vast selection of activities and learning areas to explore, we could easily spend several months on this unit alone!

It has indeed been a while since our family has had the pleasure of exploring a unit study. YWAM and Heroes of History have been a fun adventure, and reminded us of the benefits of this learning method. As we look to planning the coming year, we’re excited to see which other studies might fit into our year. There is so much goodness to explore!

If you’d like to learn more about Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side, Heroes of History, Christian Heroes: Now & Then, or YWAM Publishing, please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, Twitter or their Blog. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what YWAM Publishing has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Which series interests you most; Christian Heroes: Then & Now or Heroes of History?

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Our April Reads

The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical ExplorersApril flew by before we could blink. As we’re beginning to wind down our learning year in the next few weeks, we’re looking forward to a little downtime which we will gladly fill with a hefty stack of reading material. This has been a fun month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. April’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:

  • Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 (B.C.R.Fegan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- The magical donteverlookHotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
  • Unplugged (Steve Antony) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Meet Blip. Blip loves being plugged into her computer. When a blackout occurs, Blip trips over her wire and tumbles outside.
    Suddenly, Blip’s gray world is filled with color and excitement. She plays with her new friends and has adventures all day long. When Blip finally returns home, she realizes that the world can be even brighter once you unplug.

Learning Resources:

  • Thrifty Guide to Time Travel… (Jonathan Stokes) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- The only guidebook you need for your next time travel vacation! The Thrifty Guides are a snappy, informative travel guide containing information vital to the sensible time traveler.
  • Nature Anatomy (Julia Rothman) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Acclaimed illustrator Julia Rothman celebrates the diverse curiosities and beauty of the natural world in this exciting new volume. With whimsically hip illustrations, every page is an extraordinary look at all kinds of subjects, from mineral formation and the inside of a volcano to what makes sunsets, monarch butterfly migration, the ecosystem of a rotting log, the parts of a bird, the anatomy of a jellyfish, and much, much more.
  • The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape (M.J. Thomas) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- In The Great Escape, Peter, Mary, and Hank journey to the pyramid-studded desert of ancient Egypt. When the trio become friends with Pharaoh’s daughter, they greatescapewitness first-hand as Moses petitions Pharaoh for the Israelites’ freedom. Plagues wreak havoc as the group races to decode the scroll, gets chased by a panther, and battles Pharaoh’s cunning advisor, the Great Magician. Young readers will anxiously follow along as Peter and Mary’s thrilling adventures bring the biblical story of Exodus to life.
  • Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason (Jason Lisle) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A popular list of 439 alleged Bible contradictions has been circulating on the Internet for years. Many critics refer to this list as the definitive proof that the Bible is flawed. But apparently none of them bothered to actually check. Interestingly, not one of these 439 claims is a genuine contradiction. This shows that critics generally do not perform careful scholarship.

Books for Fun:

  • Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) ⭐⭐- In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize.

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… Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 is everything charming! Parents should be advised there are a lot of fantastical creatures in this book – which we LOVE – but we understand not all parents wish to explore fantasy or fairy tales with their children. We absolutely adore this new read and share it with every little person who comes over to visit.
Several of our learning resources have been read previously, but they are so good we revisit them on a continual basis. Clicking their titles will take you directly to reviews. Each is a title our family owns and highly recommends.
Ready Player One… I’ll be honest. I truly enjoyed this book and didn’t think I would. However it does have language in it which means passing it off to my kids won’t be happening any time soon; which saddens me as everything else about this book is classic. I’m an eighties kid and this book spoke to my childhood. Unfortunately, as is generally the case, the movie is hideous in comparison. What a shame.

As we wind down our year, we’re noticing learning resource books have lessened. That seems a shame. Be assured this will not remain true for long! Our local summer reading program is just around the corner – 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 May 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 fairy tales/fantasy reads allowed in your home; why or why not?

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Review: Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.)

review_aplusWe’re nearing the end of our learning year. While we’ve been assessing our progress throughout our schooling, this is the perfect opportunity to identify lessons which might need a tad more work before moving forward. Thanks to the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) we’re zeroing in on math studies that could use a boost.

A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) offers colorful, multimedia lessons that teach math concepts using audio, visuals, and text. Using interactive review, worksheets, step-by-step solutions, automatic grading and tracking, and various reports to measure student progress, A+ Interactive Math seeks to help identify and close learning gaps by re-teaching concepts needed. Currently, A+ Interactive Math offers both an Adaptive Math Curriculum Online and a  Family Math Package

Using the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, students are given a series of placement test based on a “target” grade level. The program then gives a mini-test for each major math concept to gauge student’s skill level. If it detects any learning gaps between the “target” grade level and student’s current skill level, it automatically creates an individualized plan for the student. The plan includes video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets online, automatic grading, tracking and re-test. Essentially this is a skill-based learning model. This program covers Grades 1–6 and Pre-Algebra. This program is completely automated, where lessons are chosen for you.review_aplus_interactive

Using the Family Math Package, students are not pre-tested. This is a package of ALL grade levels offered. Each grade level includes comprehensive course contents with video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets, chapter tests, automatic grading, tracking and much more. Parents can place students in any grade and change the level at any time.

To help narrow-in on areas of math study which might need a little more work, our son was given a one year subscription to the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online. After receiving email confirmation of registration, setting up an account for both myself and my son was an easy process taking mere minutes. A fifth grade “target” was chosen for his review, as my son will be finishing this grade within a few short weeks. The goal was for him to spend approximately thirty minutes a day, Monday through Thursday, completing placement tests and working through possible lessons of review. As he progressed through the online curriculum, I could check on his work from my parent account; reviewing all answers from tests and areas which might need additional study.

While setting up our accounts was simple and easy, we did note finding a computer to access the lessons proved to be a little more challenging. While flash is loaded on our laptop, lessons could not be viewed. Placement tests were possible, but lessons gave us difficulty. Switching to a desktop computer, we experienced trouble attempting to access lessons on our kids’ login – which has higher viewing protection and blocks a great deal of incoming information. Thus, for these lessons, it was necessary to use an admin login and parental viewing controls. Because of this I chose to sit with my son while he completed lessons, which gave me greater opportunity to gather his thoughts on the adaptive math curriculum and view areas of struggle. This also meant I did not need to access my parent review_aplus_videolessonlogin as much as I would have expected, given I was able to see firsthand how he was progressing.

Adaptive Math Curriculum Online takes students through a series of placement tests based on their target, creating lessons when a child struggles in a particular area. In my son’s fifth grade target, seventeen tests were given with a range of twelve to thirty-plus questions in each. Tests took approximately ten to fifteen minutes to complete; depending on the type of questions asked. If for any reason we needed to leave a test, tests would then need to be retaken from the beginning. I’m thankful to say he did not seem to have any great difficulty in the bulk of these tests; passing fifteen of the seventeen lessons on his initial run. During one lesson I had him purposely miss a few questions, so we could see what a review lesson might look like should it be needed. Two additional areas of study were shown to need a little more work, but nothing which caused us great alarm.

For areas in which he struggled, we were able to view lessons to strengthen these skills. The lessons were brief and well taught, and offered him a quick Q&A to ensure he was on the right track. Lessons could be viewed as a slide presentation or in text form. Worksheets were also available; they greatly resembled the placement tests taken initially, but were good practice. If my son wished to see an overview of his progress, a report could be generated. Once my son is able to pass all of his placement tests, I am free to move him on to the sixth grade “target” from my parent login, and the fun begins again.review_aplus_login

From a teacher’s perspective, I would remind other educators A+ Interactive Math is not testing based on the chosen curriculum of your home. Expect to possibly see questions which your child has not come across before, or might be taught in a different manner. While we did not anticipate seeing quite so many placement tests – Honestly, I had imagined only several comprehensive exams. – having now used the online curriculum, I better understand the necessity of this process. As I mentioned, my son seemed to have little difficulty in the placement tests themselves, but I feel he would have done better had a visual “progress bar” been present. After moving through a great deal of questions, he would inevitably begin asking how much longer he had to go and when the test would be over. Had a “progress bar” been available, this would have been a great help. One quick tip: We did note having paper and pencil nearby was handy; several questions required these tools in order for him to identify the answer needed. Overall, from setting up our account to working through each placement test, the entire process ran fairly smoothly. All things considered, this curriculum does its job well.

Our learning year is almost over, but we’re not done yet. Before the year runs out, we’re zeroing in on a few final lessons and mastering areas of study which have proven to be a challenge. Adaptive Math Curriculum Online has been a help in closing those gaps and encouraging us to finish well. Let’s see what the new year brings!

If you’d like to learn more about Adaptive Math Curriculum Online, Family Math Package  or A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.), please visit them at their website and on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what A+ Interactive Math has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Do you find a final review at the end of the school year helpful?

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Review: The Great Escape by M.J.Thomas

https://thehomeschoolmomblog.wordpress.comIt’s here. It’s finally here! You’ll forgive us if we’re jumping for joy and ridiculously excited to share with you The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (Book #3): The Great Escape, the newest release in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series from M.J. Thomas and Worthy Kids/Ideals. Our copy arrived a few days ago and we can’t put it down.

Worthy Publishing Group is an established book company whose mission is, “To help people experience the heart of God.” Of their five distinct imprints and vast selection of titles, Worthy Kids/Ideals creates vibrant children’s literature including The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. The series began with THESE two amazing stories, and is followed by The Great Escape.

“Join Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they discover ancient scrolls and travel back in time to stories in the Bible. They find a world filled with wonder, adventure, and danger. They must search for clues to solve the secret of the scrolls … or they will be stuck there forever… Perfect for emerging readers ages 6 – 9, homeschooling families, and lovers of adventure, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls brings beloved Bible stories to adventurous life.”
~ Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

In our newest story, The Great Escape, Peter, Mary and Hank find themselves transported to the deserts of Ancient Egypt where they meet the Pharaoh’s daughter and experience firsthand the ten plagues God brought upon the land in order to free His people. Along the way they meet an old enemy hiding behind a new identity; one who will stop at nothing to prevent the children from completing their mission and returning home. Together the children discover, “GOD IS POWERFUL AND WILL SET YOU FREE”! Hidden Scrolls

I’ll be honest. One of the main reasons this mama is so excited for the release of Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape is that now my eleven-year-old son can stop asking me – every. five. minutes. – when his book will finally be here. While the official release date was the first week of April, an advanced copy was kindly sent our way just a tad early. Thus the minute the calendar said March, the mailman’s deliveries were met with anticipation. The moment it arrived he pounced on it and barely let it go long enough for his mum to read it herself. What a fantastic problem, don’t you agree? I love watching my children enjoy good, Bible based literature and Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is everything lovely.

Specifically targeted for 6-9 year olds, homeschoolers, and those who love adventure, our family has found Secret of the Hidden Scrolls to be a perfect fit. Our son was able to finish his first read-through in approximately one hour. (I say his first because, since, he’s read through it several more times. Which goes to show just how much we love this series!)  We were especially blessed to find we received a signed copy of the The Great Escape, which meant the world to my son. As with the first two books in the series, we appreciated the inclusion at the back of the book complete with specific references to Scripture covered and notes on the story itself.

Hidden+Scroll+Activity+Sheet_ScrollStealerIn addition to enjoying this fantastic read, we made sure to visit The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls‘ website. There we were able to sign up to be part of the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Club. We just know it’s going to be fun! We were also able to enjoy the Activities page and read the Story Behind the Story. (For those just discovering this series, Secret of the Hidden Scrolls website is also the perfect place to preview each story or order a set for the family!)

We are absolutely excited about this book, and the entire Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. Now, just like Mr. Thomas’ son, Peter, we’re anxiously awaiting another one! We’re not sure when it’s coming, but we feel certain another read is on its way. Until then, it looks like we’ll just have to re-read and be patient.

If you’d like to learn more about The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas or WorthyKids/Ideals please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: In The Great Escape, Peter and Mary discover firsthand what it must have been like enduring each of the ten Egyptian plagues. Given the last plague as the worst, which of the other nine plagues would have affected you most?

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Review: Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason

“To demonstrate the veracity of Scripture, this book will address every alleged Bible contradiction that I have seen posted on the Internet. Whereas there may be a few obscure claims of contradictions that I have not seen, this list covers the most often used examples…”
~ Jason Lisle

review_keeping_faith_in_an_age_of_reasonWe’re coming to the end of another school year in a few short weeks. While half of me is wondering where in the world the time has gone, the other half is already gearing up for another fun learning adventure. As we prepare our routine and curriculum, the first area of study which occupies my attention is Bible and logic. We’ve spent this year laying a solid foundation in fallacy detecting. With the help of Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason from Jason Lisle and Master Books, it looks like our studies will just keep on getting better.

Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is a thorough study of over four hundred alleged Bible contradictions circling the world-wide web, and solid answers to each claim. Backed by Scripture reference, Mr. Lisle does an outstanding job of helping the reader define terms, understand common fallacies, and delve deeper into the Word of God. Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is broken down into helpful categories including: Quantitative Differences; Names, Places, and Genealogies; Timing of Events; Cause and Effect; Differences in Details; and Yes or No?. While readers are welcome to read through each section in order, the beauty of this resource is that there is no wrong way to study these claims. There is no priority of one claim over another, nor a specific order in which they must be read; readers are encouraged to prioritize each selection according to their needs and still gain a great deal of wisdom.

As I launch into planning the upcoming school year, this resource will definitely be playing a key role in our daily Bible lessons. While no age is specified for this particular resource, having giving the book a thorough read, I believe Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason will be best appreciated and beneficial to those above elementary levels of education. Our plan is to have our three girls – in high school and junior high – join me in reading through a short set of claims with open Bibles at the ready. The goal will be to methodically work through two to three ‘contradictions’ daily; spending approximately twenty to thirty minutes during our time together.

Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is exactly what I was looking for in the next step of our learning adventure. I appreciate Mr. Lisle’s introduction to common fallacies. It’s as if this book picks right up from where we are leaving off this learning year. I like that each claim stands on its own – allowing us the freedom to move within the text at our own discretion. I love that each claim lists only Bible references; encouraging our children to not take anyone’s claims as truth, but to seek out Scripture for themselves. Keeping Faith in the Age of Reason is incredible! While, in truth, we have other resources of this nature which lay out alleged Bible contradictions, my husband and I both agree this book exceeds them all.

Building on our foundation of fallacy detecting, this fantastic resource will help my children better understand Scripture, strengthen their faith, and arm them with the answers they need. I am excited to be adding Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason to our learning routine next year, and know we will be blessed by this thorough study of God’s Word. With our most important lessons ready to go, I am now able to better focus attention on the remainder of our learning adventure. As always, this coming year is going to be amazing!

If you’d like to learn more about Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason 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!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: How do logic, apologetics, and catechism play a role in your family’s learning routine?

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