Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reading Aloud Challenge: another scouting edition

Reading aloud has been a bit scarce this past week.  We spent last week working (or attending, in the case of the youngest two) VBS.  Lots of fun, but it left us all pretty exhausted.  And now, William and Thomas are off at Boy Scout camp, so family read-alouds are out of the question for this week.

But it hasn't been a total loss.

We did work on The American Patriot's Almanac by William Bennet.  We were almost caught back up last Friday.  Once the guys get back, though, we'll be significantly behind again.  I really love reading from there, as there are just so many great little stories about a lot of things we've just never taken the time to study.

Merit badge books were the primary read-alouds last week.  Cinematography with William (and I cannot wait to hear how that merit badge class has gone!)  Space Exploration for both.  And the boys have kept the iPad and the Learning Ally account quite busy with listening to Camping, Cooking, Communication, Mammal Study and Forestry.

This week, I've been busy reading Life with Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and SuzanneWoods Fisher.  And Richard is officially included now.  This book is working so much better now than a few months ago, when I reviewed it.  Trina must have passed some milestone or another, but now she is so totally interested, and Richard is loving it too.

We've also pulled out our Sonlight Core B again, and are back to reading Charlotte's Web.  We'll pick more of the core up the rest of this week.

How about you?  What are you reading out loud?  Please, I'd love to know...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Review: God and the Nations

The past couple of weeks, I've been reading God and the Nations by Henry Morris.  Published by Master Books, this paperback is fairly short (168 pages of text).

I'll confess that it took me a little while to be really drawn into this.  Morris starts off by talking about the start of 'nations' in the biblical record, and eventually gets up to modern day.

Maybe I'm just on Tower of Babel overload, but that part of the book was pretty slow reading for me.  Chapter IV: The Table of Nations is where I started to be more interested, but that was slow reading too just because there are so very many names in there.

Beyond that, I was pretty well hooked.  I particularly liked his descriptions of the mandates in the Bible and the discussion about how various nations (in history and in the present) are or are not carrying out those mandates.

From the publisher:
In the Bible, we see the interest God has in humans and their cultures. In the Old and New Testaments, the Hebrew and Greek words for "nations" occurs 720 times. Many of the nations that were given land and resources during Bible times have now passed into history, such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Hittites. We also know from secular history that civilizations like the Aztecs and Greeks are also largely removed from the scene. All this is due to those nations rejection of God’s laws. Indeed, of the 200 nations in existence today, only a handful actively seek God.
I've enjoyed this book. You can find a preview of the book at the New Leaf Press website.  And you can see what others had to say about it at the New Leaf Press blog.

Disclaimer:   I received this books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Master Books Apologetics Review Team program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer of Service A.C.T.S.: Imagine!

A month ago, I posted my first Summer of Service A.C.T.S. blog post, where I talked about the Adventures in Odyssey initiative to Discover the joys of serving others this summer.  This post is about imagination, and imagining ways of serving.

Your kids have a chance to put together a video about how they are serving, for a chance to go serve orphans in Costa Rica.  That is a trip we're having fun imagining ourselves on!

Children are spending more and more time in front of TVs, iPads, computers, and video games. That doesn’t leave much room for kids to dream up their own visual images—like the ones that fill their minds when they hear a great story! Rather than passively receiving images, kids actively engage in making images themselves when they hear a good story. Their imaginations are enriched and stimulated, and the material becomes more personal and memorable.
Adventures in Odyssey is all about great stories—and the power of the imagination. The beloved audio dramas are heard on over 700 radio stations, and AIO has recently expanded to books and devotionals—including The Imagination Station series, a fast-growing line of early chapter readers. You can check them out by downloading a FREE e-book of Imagination Station #1: Voyage with the Vikings!
This summer, Adventures in Odyssey encourages kids to write their OWN stories, as they join in ACTS: A Call to Serve! AIO is helping children use their imaginations to serve their family, community, and world this summer—maybe by sending a care package to a missionary or baking cookies for the local fire department. Check out www.whitsend.org/acts  for details and a chance to win fabulous prizes, including a mission trip with a parent to Costa Rica!
More important than prizes are the stories your child will tell about the creative ways they served others, and how they grew as a result. And what they come up with really might change the world!
I know in my family, service is something we really try to incorporate into our everyday lives.  The reason I didn't get this post up earlier like I was supposed to is that we were busy serving in our church and their VBS program.  Okay, that doesn't take a lot of imagination... most churches do have VBS, and most are begging for volunteers.  But my older three (the younger two were attending the program!) spent some time thinking about their gifts and how they could serve.

That meant one served as a Crew Leader -- taking a group of roughly five (mostly girls) around from station to station and being a 'big brother' type, helping them to discover the messages that were a part of the VBS program.

Another sat in back with the computers, putting photos into slideshows for each day's closing program, running the music, running the videos, and just generally being the 'tech guy.'

The third was an assistant in the Tournament Games -- so he ran around with the kids, let them throw things at him, took equipment out, brought equipment back, and whatever else needed doing.

How is your family planning to serve this summer?  Think about it...  and you can download your own Summer of Service kit too.

Fourteen-year-old Matthew, a dedicated Adventures in Odyssey fan and natural tech whiz, was inspired by a trip to the Apple store to create a smartphone app for his church. Since then, he has created 21 apps for different ministries, including his local pregnancy resource center, Joni and Friends (an international ministry for people with disabilities), and even an “Adventures in Odyssey Fan News” app! Matthew used his God-given talents and imagination to bless others through technology. Which of your kid’s unique gifts are waiting to be unleashed for God’s use?
I have the chance to give away books 1-3 of The Imagination Station series.  I love these books (in fact, I'll be reviewing #11, Hunt for the Devil's Dragon, later this week), especially for struggling or reluctant readers.
You can check my review of Attack at the Arena, one of the three titles you can win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer:   I received an Adventures in Odyssey album for free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of the Summer of Service A.C.T.S. Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable post.  I am participating in this because I truly believe in the values encouraged in this program.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reading Aloud Challenge: I'm back!

We've been traveling since I last posted, driving 1000 miles from Minnesota to Omaha, and finally home.

And since returning home, it has been one thing after another.  June is scary busy this year, and I'm mostly completely exhausted.

But we have done a bit of reading aloud.  Just a bit.  And we are going to get serious about it again here.

The American Patriot's Almanac by William Bennett is one thing we've been reading.  NOT that we've caught ourselves back up.

We've been working through some merit badge books.  Pottery, with all three of my big guys.  I've been reading Cinematography to William.  And William and Thomas have been listening to a couple through Learning Ally (Camping, Cooking, Communication, Mammal Study, and Forestry).

I've been reading (again) Life with Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and SuzanneWoods Fisher.  Mostly to Trina, but I think Richard is getting sucked in.  I have all three of the books in the series, and we are going to work through them.

And that is pretty much it here over the past few weeks.  Somewhat pathetic, but at least I am back to reading.

How about you?  What are you reading out loud?  I'd love to know...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Grocery shopping -- my not-too-organized-trip

So on Saturday I headed to Safeway to do some shopping.  I meant to get organized before I left, but, well... that doesn't happen very often.

So I sat with the ad, in a parking lot, and made a list.  My point in posting here is to say that even if you aren't a coupon queen, and even if you don't do a lot of pre-planning, you still can save some money on groceries.  Just take a few minutes to think about it before you start buying.

The ad had a number of offers to spend a certain amount of money and get money back on your next purchase.  Spend $15 on select dairy products, get $5 back.  Spend $30 on Rancher's Reserve meats, get $5 back.  Spend $75 in a single transaction, get $10 back.  I determined I'd do all three.

So I picked up roughly 13 pounds of meat in the markdown section -- I got three roasts, and two packages of round steak.  It was a LOT of meat.  (The 4-lb roast isn't in the photo.)

I grabbed two big CoffeeMate Creamers, which had an online coupon (I can do online coupons through the Just 4 U program from the parking lot, no printing necessary).  I also got two 4-packs of YoCrunch Yogurt (another J4U coupon), a 4-pack of Dannon Yogurt (another J4U coupon), a free Muller Corner Yogurt (J4U coupon item), Silk PureAlmond Milk half gallon (J4U coupon and a blinkie coupon), and 2 packages of Kraft singles.  That actually came to a few cents over $16.  (None of the yogurt is pictured, and only one package of cheese singles is there.)

Other things I grabbed?  Two boxes of Reeses Cereal (on sale for $1.66, plus I had two coupons that doubled to $1 each... the only coupons I prepared ahead of time, so $.66 per box).  I got 4 cans of tuna, 2 jars of Pace Picante sauce, 4 big cans of refried beans, 2 packages of tortillas, and a 2 liter bottle of grape soda.  And Skippy Peanut Butter 40 oz packages were on sale for $5, so I got two of those. (2 cans of refried beans are gone, and the kids drank the soda on the way home.)

My total for these 31 items after all the e-coupons, coupons, sales prices, markdowns, etc. was $79.67.  And yes, I did get $20 in printout coupons to use towards my next order.

This was a strange shopping trip. I don't buy that much meat as a general rule!  There is a LOT of protein in this trip, actually.  Nor do I usually pick up soda, or 4-packs of yogurt.  Reeses Cereal is totally not something I'd usually buy, but at $.66 per box, I consider it a fun treat.

I was fortunate in this trip.  I usually don't see all that much in the markdown meat, so being able to net $30 there was phenomenal. 

But really -- 20 minutes of thinking things over in the parking lot, and I came home with a lot of bags of groceries, for a net of roughly $60... and I earned 172 gas rewards points (100 points = $.10 per gallon gas discount... so almost 20 cents discount!)

Next time I need to get a photo... right away...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Book Review: A Clearing in the Wild

I've been reading a wonderful book by Jane Kirkpatrick, and it is time to write a review!  A Clearing in the Wild is a Christian historical fiction title that tells about a group of pioneers on the Oregon Trail.

I had read another book by Jane Kirkpatrick, Where Lilacs Still Bloom, that I reviewed on Amazon.  My feelings about that book were a bit mixed... in the end, I really loved the book.  However, it took a long time for me to "get into" the story, and I found the jumping around from one seemingly independent storyline to another quite distracting.

A Clearing in the Wild was quite different.  It follows one person, a very young Emma Wagner, beginning with her life in the Bethel colony in Missouri, along the Oregon Trail, and into Washington Territory.

From the publisher:
Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of Bethel colony, an 1850s religious community in Missouri that is determined to remain untainted by the concerns of the world. A passionate and independent thinker, she resents the limitations placed on women, who are expected to serve in quiet submission. In a community where dissent of any form is discouraged, Emma finds it difficult to rein in her tongue–and often doesn’t even try to do so, fueling the animosity between her and the colony’s charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader, Wilhelm Keil.

Eventually Emma and her husband, Christian, are sent along with eight other men to scout out a new location in the northwest where the Bethelites can prepare to await “the last days.” Christian believes they’ve found the ideal situation in Washington territory, but when Keil arrives with the rest of the community, he rejects Christian’s choice in favor of moving to Oregon.

Emma pushes her husband to take this opportunity to break away from the group, but her longed-for influence brings unexpected consequences. As she seeks a refuge for her wounded faith, she learns that her passionate nature can be her greatest strength–if she can harness it effectively. - See more 
As in her previous book, Kirkpatrick certainly seems to have done her research, and she creates characters that just feel real.  Emma is clearly the most rounded character, as it is all told from her perspective.

I enjoyed this story, and found Emma's struggles to be a good wife really fascinating.  I also really enjoy Kirkpatrick's pacing.  This isn't a high-action novel, with events compressed into a short time period to make for an exciting tale.  Nor do you get all the nitty-gritty of life on the Oregon Trail.  The novel covers a fair amount of time, and it feels right.  These events could occur in this time period.

This book is the first in the Change and Cherish Historical Series, and I will be looking into books two and three, so I can see where Emma does end up.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Tower of Babel Pop-Up & Read

As part of Moms of Master Books, we have had the opportunity to review another book about the Tower of Babel -- this one for they younger set!  (You can see my earlier Tower of Babel review here.)

Tower of Babel: Pop-Up & Read, illustrated by Jon Taylor, is a gorgeous book.  And a really cool pop-up as well --- there is ONE huge pop-up of a fairly realistic Tower of Babel, and as you flip through the pages, you continue to see that wonderfully detailed Tower.

From the publisher:
What is Babel, what happened there, and why is it so important? Many kids don't know the answers to these questions as biblical knowledge is becoming less and less of a priority in people's lives. This fun format book is a great way to teach kids about the reality of the Babel story and its significance in their lives.

The full-color book explains how the different languages and "races" came about and is in unique format with one large pop-up that stays up as you turn the pages and read the story. The stunning artwork is both beautiful and realistic, as it is based on the actual worship towers that were built in ancient times. This fun tool is a great way to teach the reality of the biblical story.
What do we think?  Well, first off, I'm afraid I'm not all that coherent.  My brain is mostly on the fire in Black Forest.  So this won't be the best review I've ever written.

But this book is great.  The artwork is amazing, and there aren't too many words per page, so Richard was actually reading it to his sister without feeling overwhelmed.  They can spend time looking at the rich details in the illustrations.  Most pages include a specific Bible reference.

Fantastic resource. I totally recommend it if you have kids roughly 10 and under.

You can go see what other Moms of Master Books have to say about Tower of Babel!

There is a Book and a Treat Facebook party coming up on June 25 (Tuesday) at 9 pm EDT where you could win cool prizes including (I assume) this title, among other things, and discuss the book. 

Disclaimer:   I received this books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Moms of Master Books program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My "city community" is in flames again

A little over a year ago, tornadoes ripped through my actual community.  We evacuated, and we did end up with some relatively minor damage.  But some of our neighbors (meaning within a few miles) experienced a lot worse.

Nearly a year ago, my "city community" started on a pretty horrific journey.  I posted R is for Reality. A place I don't want to be today.  That was the morning after dry thunderstorms caused wacky wind/weather patterns that sent the Waldo Canyon Fire roaring into western Colorado Springs.

Last June (and into July) was pretty horrible. 

The view of the smoke plume from our yard, Tuesday
This June is harder for me.  On Tuesday, a fire started in Black Forest (the northern "suburb" of Colorado Springs) and it is absolutely devastating.  And this time, it is really personal.  Last year, I could name a half dozen families I knew who were evacuated at some point over the course of the fire, but only one whose home was truly in the middle of things. (And their house did not burn down.)

This year, oh, wow.  This year it is worse.  As I am sort of listening to the news and typing this post, the reporter makes a statement about having just spoken to a family who has lost everything... and I jump a bit as I realize they are talking about a family I know, and not a family I had remembered when I've been mentally listing off everyone I know who has been evacuated.

The Scout camp my boys are supposed to be heading to in ten days?  Evacuated yesterday.  The Court of Honor we are supposed to have on Monday?  Postponed indefinitely, as the church where we meet has been evacuated.  Half a dozen families from our AHG troop are in, or right next to, the evacuation area.  Along with more like a dozen families from our Boy Scout troop.  And I can name off another dozen families I know as well. 

On Facebook this morning, I saw that friends of ours posted about their parents' house being gone.

Fire danger remains incredibly high.  We aren't personally at risk from the Black Forest fire, but there is always the risk of yet another fire starting.  Lots have, in fact, but most are being put out fairly quickly.  Of the dozen(s?) of fires that have started in Southern Colorado in the past few days, it is "just" three that are causing huge problems.  One at Royal Gorge, which is at least starting to be contained.  One in Huerfano county that is now mostly contained.  And the Black Forest one, ravaging multitudes of residential areas, which is still 0% contained.

It was reported yesterday (before the mandatory, voluntary, and pre-evacuation areas expanded yet again) that the evacuation area is larger than the actual City of Denver.  Just for a touch of perspective.

I know God is in control.  There are amazing folks involved in fighting this, and eventually the fire will go out.  And people will start to rebuild their lives.  The stuff impacting us directly is relatively minor.  But wow, just wow.

I ended my post last year with this:
A friend summed it up well on Facebook.

You know that happy, cozy, safe feeling you get when your family is home and you are going to bed? Don't take that for granted.
Pray please.  This fire is far from over.  And thunderstorms in the wrong places could bring even more devastation today.

Seems like a fitting end this year too, especially as the 'dry thunderstorms' are a distinct possibility today and tomorrow.  Lord, have mercy.

Oh -- and if anyone needs a place to stay, we have an empty house in La Junta available for a couple of weeks...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: On the Seventh Day

As part of the Master Books Apologetics Review Team, I've been reading On the Seventh Day edited by John F. Ashton, PhD.

This book is a series of essays by 40 different PhD's about their belief in God.  These people represent a huge range of academic disciplines, mostly science, but also fields such as sociology and linguistics.

Most of the chapters are fairly short, and this could be a terrific devotional-type of book.  Read one essay and think on it for a time.  Roughly half of the essays are coming at the "why I believe" question with reasons for their belief, and the other half speak primarily of their experiences.

I have found these essays to be fascinating.  These are incredibly intelligent people, and that comes through in their writing. 

The book description from the publisher states:
For all their intellectual gifts, those with PhD's are hungry for the same thing the rest of the population seeks; peace and spiritual fulfillment. Some hide behind a cool, clinical exterior, yet grapple with internal insecurities, fears, and disappointments.
The scientific mind is eager to find truth; indeed, the very pursuit energizes scientists from a plethora of disciplines and backgrounds. This book was compiled for them. It contains not only "scientific" inquiries into the miraculous, but personal and poignant travels on the road to serenity.

Over 40 PhD's in this book explore the linkage between science and faith, and what that means not only to individuals, but to the entire planet, as well. For example, meet:
  • The skeptic who realized that this solution to a problem was not only wrong, but destructive. Read how a miraculous solution to a vexing problem brought him to faith.
  • A psychiatrist who saw her career and personal life transformed by the intersection of faith and knowledge.
  • Scientists who gaze at the heavens, and peer at microscopic creatures to better understand the world in which we live.
If you are a friend who wants to introduce your scientist friend to God, then you've found the perfect gift with On the Seventh Day. If you are a skeptic, have a read. You'll be amazed that you've taken this path in your search for truth. In this book, you too can find rest from this hard business called life.
I've enjoyed this book. You can see what others had to say about it though at the New Leaf Press blog.

Disclaimer:   I received this books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group as part of the Master Books Apologetics Review Team program.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: June 8

Oh, was it ever nice to be back to do Bountiful Baskets again!

I only contributed for one basket this week, and I sure wish I had done two.  Oh, well.

Here's a not-so-great photo:

What is included:
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 Fennel
  • 5 beautiful Red Bell Peppers
  • 9 Chili Peppers
  • 6 Tomatoes
  • 6 huge bananas
  • 1 bag grapes
  • 1 box strawberries
  • 1 box blueberries
  • 17 plums
What are we doing with it all?

Fruit will just be eaten. 

I may make a small batch of salsa, probably using some tomatoes I froze a while back.

Otherwise, lettuce, bell peppers, and tomatoes are just staples that are used.

The squash will go with a meal this week.

Any remaining chilis will be chopped and frozen.

Fennel?  I don't have the first clue.  I'm googling to figure something out there.  I'm considering this Roasted Fennel with Lemon Stuffing recipe.  Or maybe this Creamy Fennel and Potato Soup?  I'm not sure...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review: See the Light Poppy Collage

We've had the opportunity to review a number of See the Light products in the past, and my kids have really enjoyed them.  You can check out what we thought of the Art Class, and of The Crossmaker.

When See the Light popped up as a possibility with the Crew, my family was excited.  Especially Thomas.  We ended up reviewing an item from the new Art Projects series -- Poppy Collage: In the Style of Georgia O'Keefe.

This Art Projects series is intended to be Year Two of the See the Light materials.  You would use the Art Class series in the first year, to learn "the fundamentals" and then follow that up with this amazing series, where each video focuses on a particular artist, and either their general style or on a specific work of theirs.  By spending a month on that style, you get the chance to really pursue it.

Poppy Collage is #5 in the Art Projects series, however this series seems to be perfectly suited to picking and choosing, as you don't have to have completed #4 (Pointillism Fruit) before doing #5.

Each DVD consists of a brief introductory video, where Pat Knepley gives you a glimpse of what is coming up and talks about the supplies needed; followed by four video lessons.  The idea is to watch one lesson a week, work on that portion over the week, and move on.  Doing it this way, one video will serve as a month of art lessons.

We didn't quite do that, but I also didn't know we'd have to be writing a review.  We took a pretty focused week, and Thomas would watch a video lesson each day, working on the technique/step for  couple of hours that day and maybe into the next morning.  What he has decided he would like to do with other videos in this series, though, is to do it more like:
  1. Watch the video straight through, beginning to end.
  2. Get the supplies all set up.
  3. Watch a lesson and work with it for 2-3 days.
  4. Continue with the lessons, finishing in about two weeks.
  5. Watch the video straight through again.
  6. Start the project over again and spend the rest of the month playing with the concepts and style, and creating variations on that.
So, let's show you a bit of what Thomas did in this particular video.  First off, while Thomas loves art, he likes to draw.  All of this mucking around with tissue paper stuff is not something he particularly enjoys.  So one thing I love about this series is that it stretches him into trying other media for his art.

Anyway, in lesson 1, along with some great background information on Georgia O'Keefe and her various paintings showing nature (especially flowers) very, VERY close-up, the student is directed to study a 4-6 petal flower and sketch it.  Something like:

In lesson 2, they learn about the technique of tissue paper collage, along with more information about Georgia O'Keefe.  In lesson 3, they talk about translucence, and focus on continuing to add tissue paper to the collage.

In the final lesson, more detail is added to make the work more finished-looking.

And here he is with his first finished project:

He really didn't love this though.  Maybe had we found a pack of tissue paper that gave him more "red" choices, or if we had chosen a less "red" poppy... but Thomas did feel he learned a bunch from the process.  And he spent a bit of time then working on the second project.

Thomas also had a great time talking with Jim and Laurel at the See the Light booth at the Omaha Teach Them Diligently convention. He wanted to bring some of his stuff with them and get some personal pointers, but we were a bit busy.  I wanted to get a photo of him there, and I forgot.  But if you ever get the chance to visit See the Light's booth at a convention, definitely stop in and say "hi" to them!  Both Jim and Laurel were so very encouraging.

Debra_Brinkman's See the Light Poppy Collage 2 album on Photobucket

Poppy Collage is available for $14.99, and is intended for ages 10 and up.  We loved it, and hope to accumulate the entire set.

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed ten different See the Light DVDs including others in the Art Projects series, and some from their Bible Stories.  You can check out their reviews by clicking on the banner here:


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Dave Raymond's American History

I have used (and loved) a number of products put out by Compass Classroom.  Visual Latin, an online Greek course, Economics for Everybody.  So the chance to try out (and give away!) the American History course they produce was something I simply could not pass up.

First note to make:  this review includes regular links to the program.  I am, however, an affiliate and I would dearly love to make a bit of money if you are purchasing anything from them.  There is an ad over on the right sidebar. If you click through there, you are helping me to do that.  But I just don't like to place affiliate links IN my reviews.  So back to the review...

Dave Raymond's American History: Part 1 is an interesting combination of engaging, entertaining video, reading assignments that include original source documents, weekly exams, a portfolio/journal created by the student over the course of the year, and other projects.

The program is coming from a Christian point of view, and a very Providential one at that.

There are thirteen lessons in the first semester (which is available now), and there will be another thirteen lessons in the second semester (which is set to release this fall).  Each lesson is intended to be worked in a week.  The first semester covers the continent before European exploration, up through the Constitution.  The second semester will pick up with George Washington, and end with Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.

Each week, the student has five (sometimes more) video segments to watch, with most of those being about 10 minutes in length.  There are also daily reading assignments, which are usually fairly short, and a weekly quiz.  In addition, they are to add to their journal each week, and there are some other assignments that include maps, great speeches, and more.

My 8th and 10th graders started working on this together.  One thing I truly love is that when you purchase the downloadable version, you have some choices about the version. We went for the iPad-friendly option.  So the kids can watch their lessons on the iPad, and also click over to do the reading right there too.  Very little printing on my part.  Viewing the lessons on a computer is easy-peasy too.

Dave Raymond is quite personable, and both my boys really enjoyed his presentation style.  You can catch a bit of that here:

Though this is a trailer, so it isn't quite like watching a real lesson.

The materials suggest that this program is great for upper middle school and younger high school grades, and based on our experiences, we agree.  William (end of 8th grade) has really enjoyed the course so far, and most definitely wants to continue.  He is also my dyslexic one, so the video format appeals to him, and the fairly short readings are a huge plus.

The journal is something he likes as well.  He tends to be more visual with that, choosing to put in maps, charts, and images -- and only a sentence or two of words.  All around, a great fit for him.

Connor (end of 10th grade) enjoys it, but he keeps asking for more.  "There isn't enough detail about..." is a common complaint from him, though in the next breath he'll tell me that he appreciates that he isn't just being given a bunch of facts, but that "Mr. Raymond gets into a lot of the why as well."  His journals tend to be a bunch of research into something (well, several somethings) and involve a lot more words and almost no images.

Connor is interested in continuing to watch the videos along with William, but he wants to get back to a more print-rich history program at this time, and wants to watch these "for fun."

Since William was really my target audience for this, I'm totally fine with it.

What do I think?  I love that my kids are able to be very independent in working with this.  I really like the projects involved, especially the whole create-your-own-textbook that the journal turns into.  The fact that my word-loving son can create a text-heavy journal, and my word-phobic son can create a image-heavy journal -- and both are following the instructions -- means a lot to me.

I love this whole idea.  Downloadable video, that you can view on a variety of devices (or you can even purchase DVDs) is convenient and gives me fewer things to lose.  I love that.

Are you interested in checking this out?  First off, you can go to the website and order a sample of the first two weeks of lessons.  That is a fantastic offer, and it really should give you a good feel for the program.

And you can WIN a digital version from me right here, which would cost $75 to purchase right now.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Compass Classroom for the review and giveaway copies of this curriculum.  I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions here are those of myself or my boys.