Review: Home School Adventure Co., Creative Freewriting Adventure

Review: Home School Adventure Co., Creative Freewriting AdventureCreative writing is an active portion of our learning routine. Blank paper, pens, and books of any kind are an addiction. So, you can imagine, when we had the opportunity to review Home School Adventure Co.‘s Creative Freewriting Adventure, which also includes Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Editionwe were just a tad bit excited to get started.

Home School Adventure Co. was founded several years ago by a homeschool mom whose passion is to help children think, speak and write well. Their goal is to give children a better understanding of a Biblical worldview so they may be able to go forth into the world with a ready defense of the truth. Creative Freewriting Adventure, in particular, takes children on a journey exploring historical philosophers including Thales and Pythagoras, and use their imaginations on several writing adventures.

For our review, our family was given a PDF download of Creative Freewriting Adventure, which also includes Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition. These books are essentially the same, with the added element of a coloring page for each selection. While we did not make use of the coloring pages themselves during creative writing sessions, we do plan to go back and use them sometime in the near future as a review of what was covered.

While all our children are avid writers, I was particular in handing Creative Freewriting Adventure to my oldest daughter, a high school sophomore. My girl is fond of trying new curriculum and anything relating to creative writing. She was given selections three days a week, after which we would discuss and share ideas on the writing suggestions.

We found Creative Freewriting Adventure very thorough. Each selection included history on the chosen philosopher followed by a brief background on “Your Journey”, establishing the groundwork for your writing assignment. The writing assignment itself included several questions for the student to consider while writing, hinting at directions one might take during the session.

Mom appreciated the historical sections covering each philosopher. I found this interesting and of benefit. The questions posed in the “Your Assignment” portion of each selection were well thought out and helpful. Our daughter enjoyed reading the historical selections as well.

For those looking for a creative writing curriculum, Creative Freewriting Adventure would be of most benefit to children in middle school or higher. While the historical portions of each selection would be acceptable for children in younger grades, most writing assignments might be too structured for littles. Instead, this might be a perfect opportunity to make use of the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition, having littles orally dictate a loosely based story while using their imaginations to color.

Creative Freewriting Adventure is a well-organized curriculum, encouraging creativity and inspiring further study of philosophy. We look forward to reviewing each selection and making use of the lovely coloring pages included in Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition.

If you’d like to learn more about Home School Adventure Co. and Creative Freewriting Adventureor the Creative Freewriting Adventure Coloring Book Edition, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Homeschool Adventure Co. has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: How often is creative writing introduced in your learning routine?

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Review: HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study, The Middle Ages

Review: Home School in the WoodsCan you believe we’ve never tried lap booking before? Amazing! Which is why we were incredibly excited to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages by Home School in the Woods and see what all the buzz is about.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study makes learning fun and hands-on. Each project passport comes with just about everything you need to get started on your adventure.

We downloaded a digital copy of The Middle Ages which consists of itineraries for our passport, images to complete all portions of the project, and MP3’s for audio sections of our study. Our Middle Ages adventure began with a digital unboxing of all our goodies. The Middle Ages contains multitudes of activities such as “Scrapbook of Sights”, Lap Booking, Snapshot Moments, Postcards, Timelines, Audio Tours, Music, Hands-On and 3D activities, a newspaper, games, and edible projects.

We usually study history as a family, using Middle Ages was no exception. We decided to complete five of the twenty-five lessons per week, which would finish the project passport in five weeks; coinciding with our established routine. Each day we progressed through Middle Ages PostcardsMiddle Ages itineraries, excitedly completing the fun hands-on activities such as making our own rosewater and sugar-cube castles. We read postcards from famous historical people. Every day we added more sections to our lap books.

We found the lap book involved a large quantity of printing, cutting, and assembly. This was not an issue with our three older children (ages 12 and up). However, younger children might need assistance with cutting and completing certain portions of the lap book. The lessons included are fitting for students of any age.

Progressing through Middle Ages was simple, straightforward, and fun. The children looked forward to our daily lessons, and enjoyed the many activities included in the project passport. Mom appreciated the variety of options to choose from, understanding not all were expected to be completed or necessary to appreciate the passport. The daily itineraries were excellent and we discovered how fun lap books can be!

After completing our Middle Ages project, we did a little research of our own. Suffice it to say, you will not find another company who does as excellent a job as Home School in the Woods when it comes to project passports and lap books. Their resources are top of the ProjectPassportline, and incredibly affordable. We very much enjoyed reviewing Middle Ages, and look forward to exploring further passports available through Home School in the Woods.

Okay, so now we have done lap booking. This is definitely something new. For all of you who do lap booking on a regular basis, you have our utmost respect. It was lots of fun and we enjoyed trying something new.

If you’d like to learn more about HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study (including their current release, Ancient Greece, and their upcoming passport, Ancient Rome, coming 2018), please visit them at their website Home School in the Woods and on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google+. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Home School in the Woods has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: How many lap books have your family completed?

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Altering Learning Mid-Year Is Not the End of the World

Altering Learning Mid-Year Is Not the End of the WorldOver the years, we’ve had need to alter several of our courses. Especially in high school. What once flowed is no longer working. What made sense, now seems muddled and hard to follow. It’s taken me some time to realize altering learning mid-year is not the end of the world. Not even my little world.

This past semester, I dropped the geometry course my oldest was taking and went for something different. Yup, you read that right. Mid-year. We’re starting from scratch – just to be sure she fully understands the concepts taught – and using an online geometry curriculum I wish I’d found six months ago. Scratch that. I wish I’d found it last year. It might have made Algebra more bearable. Both of us are appreciating the change.

Geometry isn’t the only course we’ve switched up mid-year. Music appreciation, morning basket, and more have been known to change throughout the year. There were reasons why we switched each course over. I won’t bore you with the details. Well, maybe another day. But not today. Suffice it to say, each served a purpose when they were used and each new change brought about a purpose in our lives. God knew what was best.

Children not only grow in maturity from school year to school year, they develop throughout the learning process. If I am afraid to change, update, or alter my children’s education to reflect this maturity simply because I hate to waste curriculum or renegotiate  a well-planned year, my heart needs to change.

As I’ve mentioned before, I hate giving up on something; it feels like I’m… giving up. What the Lord has been trying to teach me is that this isn’t giving up. This is a lesson in giving in, to His leading. An opportunity for me to understand I don’t hold this little world in my hands; He holds it in His and He knows exactly what’s best.

May the Lord continue to encourage each of us, reminding us He is in control. If God is leading to alter learning, even mid-year, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s just the beginning of a new adventure.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God

and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”
~ Psalm 95:1-7

Your Turn!: Have you made any mid-year changes to your learning routine?

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Teaching Curriculum vs. Teaching Children

teaching_curriuculum_vs_teaching_childrenWhy isn’t she moving faster? Doesn’t she understand I want her to get through the material in the next half hour! I really want to get through this part of our day so we can move on to other things. It really shouldn’t take this long. Then, the Lord hits me full on… Am I teaching the curriculum or teaching my child? Oops; guilty as charged!

I think, sometimes, we homeschool parents can get caught up in the wonderful resources we have available to us. We ooh and aah over new-found books, get excited about special projects, and store up on awesome resources. In all our enthusiasm, I wonder if we have completely forgotten why we do what we do.

Are we getting caught up in buying resources which seem wonderful, and pushing our children through the motions, without bothering to ask ourselves if this is helping our children actually learn or – though learning is taking place – they are enjoying the learning process?

Heaven forbid I force my children through hours of lessons every single day just so I can say I finished a book we purchased. Lord help me if I am pushing my kids to finish material in a certain amount of time simply because I have other plans for the day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In our learning, we most certainly have a wide arrangement of resources available to us and I highly recommend using them to the fullest. However, I need to be careful the resources are being used as a help and not as the driving force behind my children’s education.

Ultimately, I don’t want my children to simply learn how to finish a book (although that is a good skill to be learned). I want my children to love learning! I need my children to fully understand the world in which they live and the impact the Lord wants them to make in their own sphere of His creation.

The books, games, projects, and field trips we have before us can be used wonderfully in each of our learning endeavors. However, I want to be careful of how I am putting them to use. At the end of the day, if the only thing my kids did was push through a stack of paperwork so I can say we were productive, I have failed in my job. Getting through the books isn’t the goal! The goal is to teach my children, to reach their hearts, to minister to their souls, and to encourage a love of learning.

I need to make sure I am teaching my children and not merely the curriculum!

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

~ Isaiah 54:13

📢 Chime In!: Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a lesson and suddenly realized this is not working? How did you redirect your learning to be more productive for your children?

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Curriculum 101 Review

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend time launching discussions on all things curriculum.

What you’ll find in this series: Encouragement, help, tips, hints, and open discussion on what’s worked for our families and what hasn’t.

What you won’t find in this series: A push toward any curriculum in particular.

Our desire is to spend time in open conversation with our readers! We would love to share how we’ve taught each subject; what’s worked for us; and ways we’re still attempting to improve in each subject. What we don’t want to do is fit your child into our homeschooling box.

We’re praying you’ll join us in this adventure. Consider this an open invitation to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you, readers, on each topic; letting us know your thoughts, tips, and links to related articles.

Grammar & Composition
History & Geography
PreK Helps
Computer Sciences
Foreign Language

May this series enrich each of us. And, may the Lord use this time to encourage us all in our homeschooling adventures.

📢 Chime In!: Is there an area of study which continually gives you trouble or causes stress in your learning day?

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Is Christian Curriculum a Must?

Christian_Curriculum_a_MustAs we wind down one year and gear up for another, curriculum choices loom before us. Is what we’re currently using working for our family, or we do need to make a few adjustments? Should we continue with book work or make learning more hands-on? One thing is certain, we want to ensure our choices reflect our family’s worldview and encourage our children to draw near to their Creator. But, in order to do this, is Christian curriculum a must?

While we would undoubtedly recommend steering clear of companies which hinder our faith, perhaps even degrading our Lord, just how much of our curriculum needs to be specifically labeled “Christian”? Arithmetic is arithmetic is it not? How does buying from a Christian company change the adding of one plus one? Or perhaps you might view it from another perspective. You could purchase curriculum from a non-Christian company which is not anti-Christian, but you enjoy supporting conservative businesses. 

The bulk of our materials tend to come from Christian companies. Even though the study of arithmetic might not specifically deal with issues of faith, I appreciate the verses which accompany each lesson and faith-based word problems. However, I will admit, that from time-to-time we have used non-Christian materials. Some resources are too good to pass up, even if they need a little tweak to make them work.

We’d love to hear your perspective on this issue, and learn how Christian curriculum plays into the planning of your family’s learning adventure.

  • Do you use only Christian curriculum, and why?
  • Have you found yourself using non-Christian curriculum, and why?
  • Are there specific subjects which you feel are acceptable to be taught from non-Christian textbooks?
  • Are there non-Christian companies you use and recommend?
  • If using non-Christian teaching material, do you find yourself constantly battling the rewording of text to make it fit your worldview or align with your family’s values?
  • Are electives exempt from your Christian curriculum choices, or would picking a Christian art program, per say, be important to you?

Choosing curriculum is always a fun adventure, and no matter which materials our family chooses, we want to ensure Christ is the center of all we do. May He guide each of our families into making the wisest decisions for all our little learners, and help us to train up our children in the way they should go.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
~ Proverbs 22:6

📢 Chime In!: Share your thoughts with us on this interesting topic. We’d love to hear how the Lord is leading in your home.

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Rethinking High School Maths

Rethinking_MathsHigh school arithmetic has changed since I was a student. The average student will now take Algebra I, immediately followed by Algebra II, and then he will take Geometry. While this seems beneficial, Algebra II is a continuation of the previous course, some of our high school students are bemoaning the new arrangement.

It seems college SAT testing relies heavily upon knowledge of Algebra. Since most of our high school students are taking these tests in their junior year of high school, it’s been over a year since they’ve touched an Algebra textbook and their skills in this area are rusty.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with some of our high school students in our PSP. They noted this struggle due to Algebra having been taken a year prior, instead of the year they are testing. They expressed a wish to have taken it when needed. I wonder how many of our children feel the same?

When I was in high school, a standard arithmetic course for those college bound was arranged differently. First you took Algebra, then you took Geometry, and this was followed by Algebra II. If you wished to further pursue your studies in maths, you would then take Calculus and Trig. This better prepared us for SAT testing, and allowed our minds an opportunity to mature before tackling the more advanced lessons of Algebra II.

As my oldest daughter is just finishing the first of her high school years, this caught my attention. I had planned on the schedule laid out in our course of study guide, which most high school students seem to be adopting today. However, struggles in Algebra and a greater appreciation for Geometry are leading us in a different direction.

While I see both sides of the debate, I believe the Lord has confirmed our decision to move forward with next year’s choice of arithmetic. We look forward to exploring this new area of maths, and seeing what the Lord will teach us next.

📢 Chime In!: Where do you stand on this issue? Should students be taking Algebra courses together or with Geometry between, and why?

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A Homeschool Mom & Curriculum Displays

AHM_&_Curriculum_DisplaysThis past week, I was able to scratch another item off of my “to do” list. Having already outlined which books needed to be purchased for next year’s round of education, it was time to finally get to some buying.

The kids and I trekked to our local aBeka materials display center and made a small investment into their future. Knowing this experience can be a little trying for their patience, we did our best to make this event go as smoothly as possible.

Before attending the display, I try to make sure I have all my items listed (with item number, including price) and printed. This not only helps me fill out my order form very quickly, it also saves me from making unnecessary impulse purchases. I know exactly what I need and how much I plan to spend. If there are items I am unsure about, those go at the bottom of my list and I peruse them online or at the event quickly.

At the materials display, I find the few items which I am unsure of and make my final decisions. Knowing all my other items are organized, I am able to complete my order form and be out the door in about twenty minutes.

Why attend a materials display? Easy… I save money. I could place my order online, but by attending a display I save 5% on my order and pay no shipping. It might not be much, but every bit helps.

Attending a display also allows me to actually look through any items which I still don’t have peace about. For example, this year there were two items which needed a closer look. One I actually purchased; the other I decided to skip. It wasn’t that the material was poor, it just wasn’t a necessity.

In addition to attending the aBeka display, I also made a few purchases online. I don’t buy the “boxed” deal from aBeka; I am very eclectic in my children’s education. A few items were still needed. Thankfully, I found those items either on Amazon and/or Rainbow Resource for very little cost.

As I mentioned, it is nice to have that little item off my list. School ends in a few short weeks, so my shelves will be cleaned off and ready for the next set of materials to arrive. Now, let’s see how long it takes for them to get here….

📢 Chime In!: Do you order your homeschool curriculum through materials displays?

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Customized Curriculum

Customized_CurriculumThere have been times in our learning adventure when our curriculum choices have not always worked. For whatever reason, the curriculum began to grow tedious or lacked enough hands-on application. In extreme circumstances, we’ve even needed to rearrange the entire book to fit our needs. Thank goodness we have the freedom to customize our curriculum!

Just recently, a friend and I were talking about our homeschool curriculum. We’re a little over halfway through our learning year and still making much-needed changes to our routine. While you’d think our schedule would be fairly established at this point, we’re constantly changing because life is constantly changing!

My friend started out the year in her own home, now they are living with family. They started out with certain resources, but God had another plan. We started out with a particular routine in mind, but my children’s learning styles have dictated change. Our budget has been cut significantly and timing has become an issue.

While life certainly can hand us a solid curve ball every now and again, it’s comforting to know we don’t have to break under the stress of sticking to the books. We have the freedom to adjust, dismiss, and build upon our curriculum, making it into something better.

In the past, I’ve customized our curriculum in several ways. I’ve dismissed teachers’ guides, choosing to work through texts at a preferred pace. Other times, I’ve added hands-on activities, side studies, and learning expeditions to enhance a lesson. At one point, I even rearranged chapters in a science book to help my children better work through the text. We’ve skipped tests, added writing assignments, and opted out of reading work for video lessons.

My friend has currently decided to skip science and history altogether, choosing to focus on The Three R’s. With two little ones running around while attempting to school three older ones, scheduling can be a bit rough. She’ll return their focus on science and history over the summer, when life is a little less busy.

Customizing our curriculum is a blessing. We aren’t locked into anyone else’s idea of what learning should look like, and can tailor our lessons to each child’s needs. May we be open to God’s leading, wherever that path may take us.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
Proverbs 18:15

🔔Time to Chime In: To what extreme have you customized your curriculum?

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Our 5 Favorite YouTube Channels!

Favorite_YouTubeThe month of September came and went quickly. It’s been educational and informative spending the month in open discussion with you, our online friends, hearing about your curriculum choices.

We’ve learned some wonderful homeschooling tips, added a few new websites to our cache, and been inspired by what’s working for your families. It’s been a month of growth all around.

Before we officially sign off for the month, putting to rest our curriculum discussions, we wanted to take a few moments to share an additional resource used in our home: YouTube Kids!

The official YouTube Kids app is designed for curious little minds. This free app is delightfully simple and packed full of videos, channels and playlists that kids love. They’ve worked hard to make the videos available in the app family friendly, but, keep in mind, no algorithm is perfect. If you ever find a video you’re concerned about, just flag it. This helps make YouTube Kids better for everyone.

Here are a few channels our kids can’t stop raving about:

  1. Wonder Quest – Wonder Quest is a spinoff YouTube channel starring Stampy from the original YouTube channel, Stampylonghead, created by Joseph Garrett. Wonder Quest was launched by Joseph Garrett in collaboration with Maker Studios allowing for a professionally scripted and produced series that could be used in classrooms. The channel stars Stampy with his friend Wizard Keen and follows their adventures as they try to save Wonderberg from Heinous, the evil wizard. It features guest stars including: IBallisticSquid, Captainsparklez, EvanTubeHD, StacyPlays, and Dodger. (Our kids are learning so much from this fun channel. For those whose children adore Minecraft, this is just the thing!)
  2. Muffalo Potato – Learn How to Draw ANYTHING in minutes using only letters and numbers with Muffalo Potato! It’s fast easy-to-do art and silly fun for all ages. Watch John draw a letter or number in the air, then copy it on your paper. Just keep drawing and turning your paper with John and before you know it, KA-POW! You’re making cartoons!
  3. Crash Course – Tons of awesome courses in one awesome channel: Hank Green teaches you Anatomy & Physiology; Phil Plait teaches you Astronomy; Craig Benzine teaches you U.S. Government and Politics; Adriene Hill and Jacob Clifford teach you Economics.
  4. Minute Physics – Simply put: cool physics and other sweet science.
  5. Khan Academy – Our mission to provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

Using videos found on YouTube Kids adds an additional element to our learning day. Our kids are able to see glass being hand-blown, hear the London Philharmonic in concert, and learn from the experts. If there’s something I can’t explain, there’s always a YouTube video to help us better understand the concept being taught.

With more and more videos being posted everyday, there’s a wealth of information to be explored. Plus, with YouTube Kids being family friendly, you don’t have to worry about inappropriate ads or unsafe videos.

🔔Now, it’s your turn!! Share three of your favorite YouTube channels with us! It doesn’t have to be for the kids. Help us add new subscriptions to our watch list and share in the learning fun!

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