Sunday, July 30, 2017

Secrets {a Litfuse Blog Tour review}

Last month, I attended the homeschool conference in Denver, Colorado.  It was a fantastic experience and I had the chance to interact with a lot of really great people.  One of those amazing people was Melanie Young, of Raising Real Men.

We had a number of really fascinating conversations, but one of them really stands out.

Melanie and I were talking about porn.  In the middle of the vendor hall at the convention.  For a half hour or more.  We're part of a group of homeschool moms, busily planning the best math program, or the right history sequence.  Meanwhile, there is an epidemic out there impacting men, and we are fooling ourselves if we think that Christians are exempt.  We are fooling ourselves if we think homeschoolers are exempt.  We are fooling ourselves if we think that it couldn't happen to our boys.

I was left with the conviction that as part of the "older women" in homeschooling circles, I can't stay silent about the issue, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me.

So, when Litfuse was looking for folks to review Secrets: A True Story of Addiction, Infidelity, and Second Chances by Jonathan Daugherty, I knew I needed to go for it.

I'm glad I did.

Secrets starts off a lot of years ago, when Daugherty first encountered porn in a magazine as a 12-year-old.

Let me tell you what the publisher had to say:
Everyone has a secret or two, a part of their life they would rather not share with the rest of the world.

But for Jonathan Daugherty, his secret was so life-altering and relationship-ending that he fought to keep it hidden at all costs. And it did cost him. His secret kept him from contentment, peace, and the possibility of being known and loved for who he truly is. That's what any secret addiction can do-but in particular a sex addiction.

After his wife finally discovered his secret, their marriage appeared to be over. In Secrets, Jonathan honestly and courageously shares his story of addiction to pornography and how he lost everything to it.

But that's not how the story ends. While Jonathan struggled, someone else was at work-his heavenly Father. At the lowest possible moment of his life, God stepped in and brought him hope and healing. This is a story of both loss and redemption that gives hope to anyone who has ever experienced the power and struggle of addiction and its life-destroying effects.

Addiction doesn't have the final say over Jonathan's life or in his marriage. The God who finds the lost, heals the sick, and brings life from death has the last, victorious word.
  • A courageous, honest and open account of life as a sex addict and how sex addiction destroys marriages.
  • A life-affirming and personal story of recovery and redemption that will inspire readers.
  • Offers hope to all who struggle with pornography and sex addiction.
  • Each chapter includes a "Living in the Light" section designed to equip and help readers find freedom from addiction.
  • Suitable as a study for support groups of addicts and those who care about them.
I expected to struggle through this book.  Instead I was surprised to find this a relatively easy book to read, and I was pulling for Jonathan.  And for his wife.  There is no doubt that he has an addiction and that he makes a lot of mistakes, but the descriptions are not graphic.  Of course, it helped a lot that the description of the book told me this was a story of recovery and redemption.  I'm not sure I would have been able to get through it if I didn't know this book offers hope -- and not just to those who struggle, but to those who know people who struggle.

Daugherty pin3
There are lots of people out there struggling.  And porn addiction does ruin lives.  It breaks up marriages, ruins relationships with friends and family, and absolutely kills trust.  But God.

God is bigger than all of that, and God uses broken people all the time.

All the time.

This book reminded me of that, and Jonathan Daugherty is doing fantastic things by putting this book out there.

This is a book I'd love to get into the hands of lots of people.  Because porn is easier than ever to find, and the statistics show that kids -- male and female -- are finding it at younger and younger ages.

We need to not bury our heads in the sand.

Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I could not begin to tell you just how many times I have watched Mary Poppins.  It's definitely in the hundreds.  Probably pretty high in the hundreds.

After our money field trip yesterday, we sat down to watch Mary Poppins yet again, specifically to see the scene in the bank where the directors sing Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.  You know the song...

If you invest your tuppence
Wisely in the bank
Safe and sound
Soon that tuppence,
Safely invested in the bank,
Will compound

And you'll achieve that sense of conquest
As your affluence expands
In the hands of the directors
Who invest as propriety demands

So we're going along, watching the movie, and Mary Poppins has Jane and Michael heading out to run some errands.  Mary Poppins tells Michael to hurry it up.

I've seen this scene hundreds of times.  For some reason, though, as she told Michael to stop stravaging, it hit me that I had never heard that word before.  I clearly knew what it meant.  But I had never actually heard it.

So I looked it up.  Stravage.  Or stravaig.  It's Scottish.  And it means what I had always "heard" in my head.  Michael is roaming, dilly-dallying, wandering.  

What a cool word!

Of course, apparently, Ms. Poppins mispronounced it.  She says something like "straw vej ing," but according to Merriam Webster, the root word is "straw vague."  (To use something resembling real words here.)

I just found it interesting that I never heard the word before.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Learning about Money

Had a great day with my younger two today. Among other things, we were working on a couple of AHG badges. No, Richard has not joined American Heritage Girls. But the Money Management badge is GOOD stuff, and I told him he had to work on it too.

We started the day over at Farmer's State Bank in Ellicott.  Trina talked to a couple of the tellers, as there was nobody else in there when we arrived.  Jessi mostly.

Jessi told Trina about some of the things she does as a bank teller.  She has to know which type of form people need to use for all kinds of different transactions, so she showed the kids deposit slips, counter checks, withdrawal slips, etc.  She talked about the difference between savings and checking accounts, and showed her where the safety deposit boxes are.  She explained the education needed to be a bank teller.  She also told her that the really important thing she had to do as a bank teller was NOT to tell anyone about anything they weren't authorized to know.  So if Trina went in and asked what the balance is in Richard's account, Jessi can't tell her.  But Jessi can tell Mom, since I am on his account.  

There were a lot of people in setting up bank accounts, so we headed to town to do some grocery shopping, with the plan to come back.

At the store, we did some comparison shopping, looking at name brand vs. store brand for a bunch of things.  The store brand was always less expensive.  We compared chicken nuggets, peanut butter, parmesan cheese, ketchup, string cheese, and lasagna noodles.  We talked about my basic strategy with store brands, which is to try them first.  There are a couple of items where I don't like the store brand, and I am willing to pay more for the name brand.  We discussed the fact that Grandma would pay the extra money to get Skippy Crunchy peanut butter.  She just liked Skippy.

We also compared different size packages to see the price difference per ounce.  There we looked at chicken thighs, ketchup, peanut butter, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese.  The 32 oz store brand ketchup cost more per ounce than the 22 oz store brand did.  Otherwise, bigger containers did cost less per ounce.  We had a great conversation about when it is a good idea to buy the biggest containers, and when it makes more sense to purchase a smaller size even though it costs more per ounce.  

Of course, the idea of not being able to go through a bigger container is foreign to kids who have grown up with three big brothers.  

We also needed to replace a cheap pair of headphones, so while we were at it, we did price comparisons there too, and discussed why we were choosing the $13 headphones instead of the $5 ones.  "You get what you pay for," was mentioned in the AHG book, so we talked about it there.

Back at the bank, we talked to Josh's dad (aka Mr. Yoder) about why it is a good idea to use a bank to save up money, what the bank does with the money, and he talked a whole lot about compound interest.  Good stuff, all of that, though I think Trina's eyes glossed over at some point in there.  Mostly, she tracked with him.  

Then we went to see Cheryl and both of them opened up savings accounts.  Cheryl gave them passbooks with deposit and withdrawal slips, and gave them each a pen.

It was a productive day, but we still have more to do to earn the Money Management badge.  Mostly, that is going to involve some Bible reading to see what God has to say about money

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lightning Literature Grade 7 {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

A few years ago, I tried using Hewitt Homeschooling with my big boys.  For various reasons the Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set was not a good fit for them, but I really loved the program.  Now that my youngest children are in 6th (Trina) and 8th (Richard) grades, I decided to try with them.

That was a good decision.

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack
Grade 7

For purposes of this review, I received the Teacher's Guide, Student's Guide, and Workbook.  The only consumable portion of this program is the workbook, so I obtained a second copy of that.  The above photo shows all of the materials you need to complete the year.  We own Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages, and we either own the remaining books, or we can borrow them from the library.

I love the layout of the program.  The students are reading full books:  two fictional novels (Tom Sawyer and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), and two non-fiction titles (Helen Keller and All Creatures Great and Small).  In between those books, you are reading short stories or poems out of the Stories and Poems book.  That means that you are alternating between short readings and long ones.

I love that.

The basic schedule for the first semester looks something like this:
  • Weeks 1-3: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, reading, lessons, worksheets, and a writing assignment.
  • Weeks 3-9: Tom Sawyer reading and comprehension questions.
  • Weeks 10-12: Tom Sawyer lessons, worksheets, and writing assignment.
  • Weeks 12-14: Poetry, reading, lessons, worksheets, and a writing assignment.
  • Weeks 14-16: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland reading and comprehension questions.
  • Weeks 16-28: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland lessons and writing assignment.
The second semester is similar, alternating from short story to book to poetry to book.  The overlap is when you are revising a paper from the previous work and starting to read the next work, or finishing the reading and starting to do the lessons.

Another aspect I really love is that for each section, you have a choice of three or four writing assignments.  The Teacher's Guide makes suggestions as to the difficulty of the various options.  Since Trina is young for this program (if they had the 6th grade program out, or even the 5th grade one, I would use that instead!) I am generally encouraging her to do the easier writing lessons.  Richard can use a bit more of a challenge.

I am also adapting some of the worksheet activities for Trina, letting her discuss the concepts with me sometimes instead of doing all the writing.

Each chapter of the program represents one work, or a group of poems.  The basic outline of each chapter is to learn a bit about the work, with a suggestion of something to be watching for as you read.  Then you read the work and answer some comprehension questions.  It is suggested that the questions be covered on Friday for all the reading from that week. Vocabulary words are provided as well.  Each chapter has a literary lesson and a mini-lesson.  There are a series of worksheets. Finally, there is a writing assignment.

The worksheets are coded so you know what they cover.
  • L is for worksheets covering the literary lesson.
  • M is for worksheets covering the mini-lesson, which often have to do with other composition skills.
  • C gives students a chance to practice composition skills.
  • T is for thinking skills.
  • G is for grammar.  I love the grammar pages.
  • P is for puzzle pages, one crossword and one word search.  These are optional.  Trina loves them.  Richard, well, not so much.
  • E is for Extra-Challenge.  These pages are also optional.  I am not having Trina do these, and I am picking and choosing for Richard.
This program works well for my kids.  The workload is reasonable -- and adjustable.  In many of the weeks, the student is only reading and doing comprehension questions.  Over the course of the year, the student completes eight writing assignments, and there is plenty of time available to do those.

One thing I had seriously questioned about Lightning Literature before I used it was just how much time is spent "only" reading.  I saw that as a negative, as I truly believe my kids need to be getting into far more literature than "only" four books in a year.  My opinions on that have changed a lot.  And they haven't changed at all.  Let me explain.

I think it is critically important for children to be exposed to a wide variety of literature.  Novels and biographies, like the selections here.  But far more of them.  That does not mean, however, that they need to be "doing" literature studies on everything they read.  With that in mind, studying four books (plus two short stories plus two groups of poems) is far more reasonable.  

We can change up the pace too.  The kids are busy this summer, but based on how things have gone so far, we'll get through Tom Sawyer in far less than seven weeks.  I have them work on the set of chapters for a week, and when they finish that set, we do the comprehension questions.  Then they move on to the next chapter grouping.

When we get to the worksheets, however, instead of doing the Literary Lesson, Mini-Lesson, and all of the worksheet pages in a single week, we'll be doing a single worksheet per day.  So, assuming we actually start on a Monday, we'll follow a schedule like this:
  • Monday - read the Literary Lesson about the Plot Line, and do the worksheet about definitions
  • Tuesday - read the Mini-Lesson on Outlines, and do the Outline worksheet
  • Wednesday - do the worksheet on writing from note cards, writing a paragraph about the Mississippi River using the provided facts
  • Thursday - do the composition worksheet on actually writing note cards
  • Friday - do the thinking skills worksheet on Fact and Opinion.  I'll suggest that they do the puzzles as well.
  • Monday - do the grammar worksheet on pronouns and antecedents
  • Tuesday - the extra assignment relates to knowing your audience.  Trina may listen in, but I will talk through this assignment with Richard.  We will brainstorm ideas for the three different letters, and I will have him actually write one of his choice.
Then we'll start Week 11, and work on the writing assignment.  That may very well carry into the next week. In other words, we'll do the reading in three to four weeks instead of seven, but then we'll spread the worksheets and writing out over three full weeks instead of two plus a bit.

I love that I can have them learning about literature and writing about literature, but I also have time in their schedule for them to be writing about other things. And the Teacher's Guide mentions that this course is touching on a concept now, but they will cover it more fully in 8th grade.  That helps me to leave things be and not hyper-explain concepts.  They are getting enough now.  They'll get more later.

The Crew reviewed all levels of Lightning Literature - Elementary, Jr. High and High School, and also the My First Reports.  Go read their reviews too!

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Earth Science: God's World, Our Home {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

I have been looking forward to using Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home  ever since I found out that Novare Science & Math was going to be doing reviews with the Homeschool Review Crew this year.

When I was sent over to their website, I replied that I had never heard of Novare Science before but that I was incredibly impressed with what I was seeing there.  I particularly loved reading their Textbook Philosophy, and found myself agreeing with most of what they had to say.  The bit about Integration -- particularly the integration of history and philosophy -- is something that I knew would appeal to my then high school junior.  He struggles with science, and I was wishing I had seen these products earlier.

I've been working with Jeffrey Mays to pull together this review, and in one of our phone conversations he mentioned how they are getting into the homeschool market because of companies like Potter's School and Memoria Press.  When he mentioned Memoria Press, I exclaimed, "THAT is where I've seen you before!"

That was a bit awkward, as I had just told him I had never seen his products.

I hadn't seen the website, nor seen their philosophy and all.  But I had read about Physical Science, Earth Science, and General Chemistry in The Classical Teacher from Memoria Press.  I wanted to try them all out.

The Crew had the opportunity to review either Earth Science, Introductory Physics, General Chemistry, or Science for Every Teacher.  I started using Earth Science with my 5th and 7th graders, and plan to use Introductory Physics with my 10th and 12th graders in the fall.  Most of these books are written by John Mays, but Kevin Nelstead is the author of Earth Science.

Let's talk a bit about their suggested science sequence.  In general, they recommend:
  • 6th: something for Life Science
  • 7th: Physical Science
  • 8th: Earth Science
  • 9th: Introductory Physics
  • 10th: something for General Biology (they are working on a textbook for this)
  • 11th: General Chemistry
  • 12th: something for Anatomy and Physiology
I love this.

Of course, my kids are all going to be working out of this order, but I still love it.  Trina and Richard are using Earth Science now, and they have had some Life Science work.  I plan for Richard to start the high school sequence as a ninth grader, without doing Physical Science.  Trina will go on to do Physical Science, then Life Science, and then do the high school sequence.

So after all that, maybe I ought to actually talk about the course itself.

Novare Earth Science: God’s World Our Home
It is hard to tell by looking at the picture of the cover, but this is a fairly compact book.  Not intimidating at all.  The book includes 15 chapters of about 25 pages each.  These chapters cover astronomy, geology, oceanography, meteorology, and more.  They teach from a mastery approach, so the material you cover is reviewed throughout the year.

The Resource CD includes a lot of helps for teaching this in the home or classroom. The best part is a schedule.  I love having a schedule.  It schedules out 4 or 5 day weeks, for a total of 33 weeks.  There are a total of 153 days of lessons.

Another piece I love is a pdf of sample answers.  Even when I am working on the materials with my kids, sometimes it is really nice to have a nicely formatted answer to the discussion questions.

The CD also includes quizzes, exams, images, weekly review guides, and resources for the experiments.

The Resource CD is indispensable.

How we are using this:

Essentially, we are following the schedule, but we are not accomplishing a week's worth of work each week.  There are too many other things going on in the summer, so when I can work on it, we just do the next day of work.  Because of the integration of subjects like philosophy, I really do want to do this course with my kids, so I am reading the text aloud.  I get my computer hooked up to the TV, and I am able to put the images up on the big screen as we go along.

We started by discussing the objectives and vocabulary at the start of the chapter, but I have to confess that my kids tend to find that overwhelming.  So now I am looking ahead at the reading for the day and starting each reading day by covering the objectives for that day.  After the reading, I go back over the vocabulary terms that we covered.

This works a lot better.

At the end of the chapter, I go back and read all of the objectives.

As we cover vocabulary, the kids are responsible for creating vocabulary cards.  Some chapters have a lot of vocabulary.  This is not their favorite part of the program.

Each chapter contains great illustrations and photos.  The text is pretty easy to read, and has not been over their heads yet.

This is a good place to mention that Novare comes from a distinctly Christian point of view, but they do not support the idea of a young earth.  As I think it is hugely important for my kids to encounter multiple points of view, I think this is a huge benefit of this program.  There are so many young-earth resources available out on the Christian Homeschooling market, and with only 153 days of lessons (and some short days as well) it is easy to supplement if I decide to bring some young-earth alternatives into the teaching.

They do not get into evolution at all, which I appreciate.

At the end of the chapter, there are exercises to perform.  These are scheduled into the class time, not as homework.

There are also eight experiments, which is roughly one for every two chapters.  It doesn't work that way, exactly, but the hands-on aspect is really great.  Some of these experiments require rock samples, which can get expensive, but many are using topographical maps (provided).  A couple use supplies that are fairly easy to obtain.

My bottom line is that I really love this book.  They present scientific information in a systematic way that doesn't intimidate me and doesn't bore my children.  This course is thorough, without going into excessive detail that really is unnecessary. 

My kids like that the lessons are fairly short and that they bring in interesting aspects of other subjects that make it more interesting.  My son loves the lack of worksheets.  He also really wants to get to the meteorology portions of the book, as he thinks that studying weather is a good idea for when he becomes a pilot.

We are going to continue to use materials from Novare Science & Math.

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

UnLock Pre-Algebra {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

UnLock Math pre-algebra
A couple of months ago, I sat all of my kids down and had a serious discussion about math.  Clearly, something had to change.  Math has been a struggle here, and at least part of that is the consistency.

So when UnLock Math came along, I jumped at the chance to have Thomas work through UnLock Pre-Algebra.  Basically, I need to know that he is fully prepared for Algebra 1, so I told him he needed to complete this program this summer.

This program is perfect for him.  Perfect.  He told me that one of the best things is that he always knows exactly what to do.  He knows that a "day" of work involves doing the next lesson, all the way through.  Every time, he goes through the same steps, with a couple of variations that are obvious.

When he goes to type in an answer, it almost always tells him things like what to type to represent multiplication.  He rarely has to wonder how to format an answer.

So let's walk through this.  When you get in to the course page, you see a list that looks like this.  The units are listed (there are 16 of them) and the blue lock shows the ones that are complete (units 1, 2 and 3).

The purple closed locks (units 5 and 6) are units he hasn't started working yet.

The light purple open lock (unit 4) is in progress.  When you click on the rocket to launch that unit, you get to another menu screen.

On this page, the locks again show you where you are.  Thomas has finished lesson 4.5, 4.6, and the 4.5-4.6 quiz.

He has not yet started the next ones.  The next step is for him to open up lesson 4.7 and complete it.

The next day's assignment would be lesson 4.8 and the 4.7-4.8 quiz.  The following day's assignment would be the unit review, and the day after that he would do the unit test.

Straightforward and easy.  And the locks keep changing color, so he can clearly see his progress.

Once he gets into a lesson, he is presented with a screen with a fun little arrow path that tells him where to start and how to progress through the lesson.  When he does the work on MY computer (a Mac), that "path" is not there.  The steps are the same each time.  There is probably a better description of what the segments are and why, but I'm mostly using his words here.

Warm Up - 5 problems that review previous concepts, usually from the last few lessons, tends to be stuff that is gearing you up for the topic today. You can repeat the Warm Up as many times as you wish.

Video - this is the primary teaching part of the lesson.  Alesia does the teaching in the videos, with text appearing next to her.  She takes just one bite-sized chunk at a time, and the lessons lead naturally from one to the next.

There aren't a lot of fancy effects, there are some attempts at humor, and sometimes those attempts succeed.  Thomas doesn't want to be entertained, though, he wants to get math done.  Alesia is mostly to-the-point, and he doesn't have to sit through a lot of extra fluff. 

Practice Problems - This section has around 10 problems going over what you just learned in the video.  Again, you can repeat this section as many times as you would like, and the questions do change.  Thomas told me that if you are striving for perfection and you do the same section a lot of times, you will see problems repeat.  So it isn't an endless supply of possible questions, but you aren't going to be able to do the problems, note the answers, and then just do it again to get 100.

As you can see, the answer field here prompts him for how the answer should look.  It tells him to enter a number. 

Stay Sharp - This section includes about 10 problems that are reviewing stuff that you've done before, not just recent material.  Again, you can repeat this section if you don't like your score.

Challenge Yourself -  The final section includes one problem that relates to the lesson that is much more challenging.  You are only allowed to submit this once.  This is for extra credit, and missing this problem doesn't bring down the student's grade.

After every couple of lessons, there is a quiz.  This looks very much like the other problems sections, except that it doesn't tell you anything about how you are doing as you go.

There are also reviews and tests at the end of each unit.  With the review, you can see how you are doing as you go, but not with the test.

Once you finish the quiz, you can get to a report that tells you how you did and also shows the solution.  

This is really helpful when you are not getting a concept!

The program also has some fantastic tracking features.  Thomas loves that he can see progress happening.
This one shows his progress in this unit.  The dark colors are the part he's completed.  The light colors are what is left.  This shows visible progress for each lesson he completes -- the pie is obviously darker each time.

This one shows how he is doing in the course (the speedometer looking part), and it also shows how much of the course he has completed.  That blue line moves a bit as he completes lessons, but it isn't as dramatic as the pie chart above.  Still, over the course of a week, you can definitely see more color.

In addition to all of the above, there are other pieces that I can use.  The course includes a pacing guide that helped me to figure out just what he was going to need to accomplish weekly in order to finish up this summer. 

There is a a progress report that gives me some additional information about how he is doing on each type of assignment.  I can look at that for the course as a whole, or I can look at it for individual units.

There is a gradebook that gives me a lot of detail about when he did the assignments, how long they took, how he did on them -- and it shows me how many times he repeated an assignment.  Or, after a day poking around to write a review, it shows a whole lot of incomplete assignments that "he" spent 0-1 minutes on. 

Our bottom line?

We love this program.  It is perfect for him as he knows just what to do, and what it takes to finish.  I love that it automatically grades him and I don't have to do anything with that.  Plus he is clearly grasping the material.  He absolutely will be moving on to Algebra 1, and he hopes to work with their brand-new Geometry program after that.

Go see what others on the Crew had to say about these math programs!

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Book of Trees - a review of Memoria Press Science

One of my favorite homeschool companies over the past dozen years has been Memoria Press.  I am always excited when we have the chance to review some of their materials.  This time, the Crew had the opportunity to work with any of their Latin programs, or two different science programs.

Nature's Beautiful Order is a wonderful set, geared to students in 6th-8th grade, and they also recommend it as a supplement for high school.  I think that is how I'd like to use that program, alongside a high school biology course.  We chose to work with The Book of Trees now though, another program intended for grades 6-8.

The Book of Trees Set

Memoria Press sent the primary components of this program for review - the Reader, the Student Book, and the Teacher Guide.  I picked up one of the recommended resources, The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups, but so far we haven't used that at all.

Flipping ahead, these guides are suggested for reference when you do tree observations in Lesson 20.  We are not there yet!

So how does it work?  Each of the 21 lessons includes a reading assignment from the text (well, the last lesson is review, so it doesn't.)  There are questions in the Student Book, and usually there is something to label.  The Teacher Guide includes answers for all of the student work.  There are also activities, which usually involve getting out and looking at real plants.  Mostly trees.

The hardest part about this program for us is that last little bit.  Let me show you our view:

The assignments that suggest taking a stroll and checking out all the various trees clearly need a bit of planning on our part.

Some of the assignments are possible without a field trip.  I told the kids to take pictures of the very first lesson, where they were supposed to take a look at all the different plants right around their home.

They told me this assignment was easy, as all we have is prairie grasses.  They were a bit surprised to discover that there is a lot more variety out there than they were expecting.

Had they gone a bit further from the house -- or done it in a bit later in the year, we could have found even more.

While this is called "Book of Trees" it covers far more than just trees.
  1. Unit I: The Root & Stem - these five lessons cover roots and stems of all kinds of land plants.
  2. Unit II: Leaves - we are finishing up these four lessons on the structure of leaves.
  3. Unit III: Photosynthesis & Respiration - these five lessons get more technical, with chemical formulas and all that fun.
  4. Unit IV: Flowers & Fruits - five more lessons covering the types and structures of flowers and fruits.
  5. Unit V: Observing Trees - the final section includes one long lesson on trees, forms for observing a whole lot of trees, and a review lesson.

Lesson 8 had us gathering up leaves from different trees, so after an overnight at the zoo, Trina and I stopped in town and checked out the tree varieties on a hiking trail.

We were able to gather up leaves from five or six different types of trees, and while we were at it, we also examined the bark (from a previous lesson) and the roots of an uprooted tree.

That was one of the best hikes we've taken in a long time, as we had something specific that we were looking for and we were able to apply the things we've been learning to what we were actually observing.

This is what I like about the concept of nature study.

Our bottom line on this study is that it is a great mix of fairly short readings, with a lot of real science information included.  The questions and diagramming help the information to stick.  Then getting out and looking at real plants makes this even better.

The best part is that the bookwork for most of the lessons takes maybe an hour, so you can learn a lot about Botany without making it a huge part of your week. 

We also tend to discuss the "Reading and Questions" section, and I don't typically have Trina actually write out the answers.  All of the labeling activities, though, she does complete.

Sometimes I think I'm letting her off too easy this way, but she is retaining the information, and that is more important to me than filled-in pages!

When we finish Book of Trees, we are moving on to Book of Insects.  We might need to get What's That Bird? too.  I think maybe we just need to do all of the Memoria Press science products!

Go check and see what other Crew Members had to say about this and other Memoria Press products:

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}

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