Sunday, May 14, 2017

Forsenic Faith {a LitFuse Blog Tour review}

After seeing J. Warner Wallace giving a talk to students, I became a fan.  We own Cold-Case Christianity in three formats now -- paperback book, Kindle e-book, and Audible audiobook.  I recently reviewed Cold-Case Christianity for Kids (both my 11- and 13-year-olds own a copy), and recently gave a copy of that to a family friend.  Cold-Case Christianity (both versions) explores why we can believe in Jesus.

We own God's Crime Scene, but I'll admit that I haven't yet read that title.  This one is about how we can know that God exists.  These two books cover the basics of most apologetics texts.

Forensic Faith goes another step beyond making a case for God and for Christ.

Forensic Faith makes the case for why you (yes, you!) need to be able to articulate the case for Christianity.

This book reads just like Cold-Case Christianity in its style.  Easy-to-read and easy-to-understand, with lots of examples from Warner's work as a Cold Case Detective.

Like the last J. Warner Wallace review, I ended up purchasing another copy.  My college kid was given one of mine, and I still have a copy for myself.

My bottom line on Cold-Case Christianity for Kids was that if you are a parent of a kid ages 8-15 or so, you need to buy that book and work through it with them.  And if you have teens, you need to buy them Cold-Case Christianity.  If you have young teens, get them both.

I'll add to that advice now.  If you have teens, you also need to buy Forensic Faith.  And may as well get God's Crime Scene for them while you are at it.

Buy a set for yourself too.

From the publisher:

A cold-case detective helps you rethink and share your Christian beliefs.

J. Warner Wallace has asked this question in churches across America over the past several years, and the answer he gets is often disappointing; it's almost always rooted in some sort of personal, subjective experience. As a community, we Christians aren't typically prepared to make the case for why we believe Christianity is true from the objective evidence of history, philosophy or science. Worse yet, many of us don't think we have any obligation to do so.

In J. Warner's first two books, he made the case for God's existence (God's Crime Scene) and the case for Christianity (Cold-Case Christianity). In Forensic Faith, J. Warner completes the trilogy by making the case for... making the case! In Forensic Faith, J. Warner helps readers understand why it's important to defend what they believe, and provides them with a unique template to help them become effective "Christian Case Makers." Forensic Faith will help readers:
  • understand why they, as Christians, have a duty to defend the truth
  • develop a training strategy to master the evidence for Christianity
  • learn how to employ the techniques of a detective to discover new insights from God's Word
  • become a better communicators by learning the skills of professional case makers
With real-life detective stories, fascinating strategies, and biblical insights, J. Warner hopes to teach readers the daily cold-case investigative disciplines they can apply in their lives as believers. Forensic Faith is an engaging, fresh look at what it means to be a Christian.

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

High School Essay Intensive {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

A couple of years ago, my oldest son worked through the materials in Institute for Excellence in Writing's original High School Essay Intensive program.  He got so much out of it, and we were both glad that we had spent the money and the time to go through it.

When I heard that IEW was updating the program, I was curious.  When I found out that we'd be reviewing it for the Crew, I was excited for the Crew, I looked forward to seeing High School Essay Intensive, Second Edition for myself, but I wasn't jumping up and down with excitement for myself. 

They did it again.  Just like the recent remake of their signature programs, this new edition takes a great product and makes it wonderful.  I should have been leaping for joy.

Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive

Look at what you get.
  • Five DVDs, with over six hours of instruction.
  • A packet with hard copy of some of the information in the seminar, plus room for notes.
  • Their brand-new Portable Walls for the Essayist.
Let's start with that last piece.

I am so impressed with the Portable Walls for the Essayist that I now have four of them.  Each of my boys has their very own.  This product is a tri-fold folder covered with so much information and handy lists.  It is convenient and doesn't take up a lot of space in an itty-bitty dorm room.  (I sent one with Connor to college this past semester.)

photo of three Portable Walls open to show the different sides

Some of the lists include:
  • Types of essays
  • Essay models (basic five paragraph and others up to a twelve paragraph "Super-Essay"
  • Information on the Essay Writing Process
  • Notes about the TRIAC Paragraph
  • Strategies for Timed Essays (such as the SAT and ACT)
  • A list of words "for analyzing"
  • A list of different sentence paatterns
  • Models for four types of essays (argumentative, persuasive, compare/contrast, classical rhetoric)
  • And a whole page of words.  Mostly transitional words and phrases, but also  a list of adverbs and prepositions.
I would have absolutely loved these walls when I was in high school and college.  If your student doesn't really need more instruction in essay writing, you should at least consider getting this inexpensive piece.

The main part of High School Essay Intensive is the DVDs.  There are five DVDs, which cover:
  1. General essay-writing strategies (two DVDs, 1a and 1b)
  2. Tips for the new ACT essay
  3. Tips for the redesigned SAT essay
  4. Tips for the personal essay, like those required on many college applications
A few days ago, I drove up to Wyoming to pick up my oldest son from college.  He had just finished finals and has a bit over a week at home before he heads out to work at a summer camp.  Since he has told me repeatedly how glad he is that he went through the original High School Essay Intensive, I showed him the new version.

We've been watching it.

He's even been pausing the DVD to do the exercises.

He thinks this one is even better than the first.

We skipped DVD 2 and 3, as he won't be taking either the ACT or SAT any time soon.  I had also skipped those (for now) with my two high school students.  The other three DVDs have been wonderful.

Andrew Pudewa is teaching a group of mostly homeschooled high school students, and working through a writing seminar.  The video content is filled with laugh-out-loud moments, which makes it fun to watch.  He covers a lot of ground.  The list that I posted above about what is on the Portable Walls would give you a pretty good idea as to the topics covered.

You can pop in the DVD, follow along with the handouts, and then pause to write when the DVD tells you to do so.  Connor felt that the first two DVDs were incredibly useful for college students and he anticipates using that information into his post-college adult life as well.

The final DVD talked about the personal essay, and that wasn't all that applicable to much that he needs, though we did discuss how we had relied on the personal essay portion of the original High School Essay Intensive when he was applying to school last summer.  A refresher on this might help with a scholarship application he will be working on here in the next week.

Watching that final DVD is worth it, though, just to listen to the concluding thoughts that he provides.  These thoughts don't have anything at all to do with writing, but about living life in general.  He comments on how the students have been born into interesting times, and discusses how they shouldn't go to college to get a piece of paper, nor should they get a job just for a paycheck.

Having my high school and college students listen to that last five minutes of Andrew Pudewa talking to the students as though they are his own kids was probably worth every penny of the cost of this program.

My bottom line: High School Essay Intensive, Second Edition is well worth getting for any high school or college student.  Even if you already own the First Edition.

You can go see what other members of the Crew think too:

High School Essay Intensive {Institute for Excellence in Writing Reviews}

Follow IEW on Social Media:
Twitter:  @IEW

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Digital Savvy {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

Technology.  Love it or hate it, technology definitely has a huge impact on life these days.  I cannot even begin to imagine what the world will look like for my kids forty years from now, and what kind of jobs they are likely to have.  One thing seems pretty certain though, being comfortable with technology is likely to be a key skill for practically any work (paid or unpaid) that they are doing throughout their lifetimes.

CompuScholar, Inc.
That is why I was so excited to get the chance to review Digital Savvy, the newest course from the people at CompuScholar, Inc.  I've talked about this company before, but they had a different name then.  Homeschool Programming created the coursework that Connor used for his computer programming class in high school.  (You can read my reviews of Windows and Game Programming, and C# Programming, but keep in mind, these courses are so much better now with the online format!)

Let's start with the format for these courses.  It now comes as an online subscription, which isn't always something I like.  I like having materials I can easily pass down from child to child.  Subscriptions don't tend to work that way.

That being said, this format is so easy to use.  Log on, do the next thing.  I love this presentation.  Even though I OWN the books for many of their other courses, I fully intend to use the subscriptions for my kids.  Completely worth it.  The part I really love is the new monthly subscription option.  You can still purchase a year of access to the course for $120.  But now you can do a monthly subscription for $15/month.  If your child is likely to get through the course in less than eight months, that would be a good option. 

CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy

So Digital Savvy means what, exactly?

This course is a pretty general computer knowledge class, meant for grades 6-12.  I had all four of my children working in it (grades 5, 7, 9 and 11) as I know there are topics that each of them need.  Trina, the 5th grader, is certainly capable of working through the material, though she is moving pretty slowly.

Topics include:
  • Learning about the computer itself, and how to mange the information on there.
  • Networking and online safety.
  • Learning the basic office products - word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases.
  • Learning about editing images, and using social media and email.
  • Learning a bit of website design, and some simple computer programming.
  • Learning about careers in computing.
Thirty years ago, I could easily have taught most of that (the online parts were a lot different then though!)  Now, I'm quite sure I could learn a thing or two in most of those topics.  So having a coherent course that teaches this to my children is perfect.  The student doesn't need a lot of previous knowledge, but they do need to know basic computer skills.  They should be able to turn it on, use the keyboard and mouse, and that sort of thing.

Parents do not have to be very tech-savvy either, as CompuScholar will directly answer student questions.  Parents do need to not be techno-phobic though. 

What I really love is that my kids are all able to work on this fairly independently.  Even the 5th grader.  She told me that she finds it fairly easy to use, "but it is hard because I really don't care about any of this stuff so I don't want to."

Yeah, well, I care.  You need to know it, kiddo.

The 7th grader is the most gung-ho.  I told him that if he finishes this course, he can start doing Web Design next.  He is completely in favor of that. "It's good and very informative. I was able to figure out some things to do to try to speed up a couple of the old computers we have."

I'm going to let Richard describe how the course works.
This is a very good course.  For me, personally, I wish that learning how to build a website was a bit earlier in the program.  When I first started this, I was very enthusiastic to get through this so I could build a website.  But if you are wanting to generally learn about computers, I would recommend it."

First, I watch the video.  The lesson text is essentially the video script.  I think it is really great to have the video going and read along in the student text.  If you have the time, it is good to do both though, separately, as the repetition helps you remember.  If you are already familiar with one of the topics, it will probably suffice to just watch the video.

After learning the material, there is a quiz for each lesson.  It's five questions, usually multiple choice.  You get three attempts.  At the end of the chapter, you will get an overall quiz, which will have twenty questions on it.  You really need to remember the lessons to finish the chapter quiz.

Some lessons will have a "work with me section" that will be like a mini activity. It will be something that will relate to just that lesson. Some will have activities that relate to the entire chapter.
The program grades the quizzes, so I don't have to do that.  I do need to grade projects though, and CompuScholar provides grading rubrics and other suggestions to help with that.

I highly, highly recommend these courses.

You can see what other Crew members had to say about Digital Savvy, Web Design, and Java Programming

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

You can find them on Social Media at:

Homeschool Programming
Facebook –
Twitter –   @hsprogramming

CompuScholar, Inc   @compuscholar

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Coming Soon: 5 Days of Growing a Heart for your Community

I've been totally neglecting my blog lately, but some of my fellow Crew Leaders have challenged/cajoled/encouraged me to participate in the Homeschool Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool ... Blog Hop.

Like I had the first clue what I could write about.  I certainly look forward to reading some of the topics that others are posting on though!

I was challenged/cajoled/encouraged to post about "Growing a Heart for your Community," so though I certainly do not feel like I'm an expert at all, I am going to be posting about some of our experiences in that regard.

I haven't completely finalized the specifics on this, but I will be writing about developing a servant's heart, finding opportunities to serve, and I plan to end the week by lecturing myself on balance and moderation.

I am SO not an expert on that.

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Check out the other topics!

  • Chareen – 5 Days of Charlotte Mason Resoures
  • Dawn - 5 Days of Homeschooling Teens
  • Michele - 5 Days of Keeping your Homeschool Alive
  • Amanda H - 5 Days of Homeschooling Without Going Insane
  • Annette - 5 Days of Things We Enjoy in our Homeschool
  • Ashley N - 5 Days of "Kitchen-Schooling" with preschoolers
  • Carol - 5 Days of An Honest Look at High School
  • Cassandra H - 5 Days of Knowing When and What to Change in Your Homeschool
  • Christina C - 5 Days of Building Positive Thinking
  • Crystal H - 5 Days of Creating Independence in Your Homeschooling
  • DaLynn M- 5 Days of Threadbare Homeschooling
  • Dana L - 5 Days of Homeschooling with Epilepsy and Other Issues
  • Elyse R - 5 Days of Finding our Homeschool Strengths
  • Emilee R - 5 Days of Homeschooling as a Single Parent
  • Erin S - 5 Days of Homeschooling with Living Books
  • Felicia M - 5 Days of Living the Bible in Your Homeschool
  • Hillary M - 5 Days of Morning Time for All Ages
  • Jaime G - 5 Days in the Life of a Stressed Out Homeschool Mom (and how not to be one)
  • Jacquelin C - 5 Days of Hands-On Learning
  • Jennifer K - 5 Days of Inspiring Reluctant Learners
  • Jennifer N - 5 Days of Books To Help Homeschooling Moms
  • Jodi G - 5 Days of Hiding the Word in Their Hearts.
  • Julia C - 5 Days of Homeschooling from Scratch
  • Karen W - 5 Days of 5 Days of International Studies for Young Children
  • Kelly KL - 5 Days of Homeschooling Children with Special Needs
  • Kemi - 5 Days of Working Through Math Struggles in Homeschool
  • Kirsten W - 5 days of Homeschooling Twins
  • Kristi H - 5 Day of Preschool Math
  • Kym T - 5 Days of the Rewards of Homeschooling Teens
  • Linda S - 5 Days of Wit and Wisdom from Veteran Homeschool Moms
  • Lisa M - 5 Days of Popular Homeschool Teaching Styles
  • Meghan W- 5 Days of of Literacy in the Home{school}
  • Melissa B - 5 Days of Extracurriculars to Add to Your Homeschool
  • Meredith D - 5 Days of Homeschooling a High Achiever.
  • Missica J - 5 Days of Eclectic Homeschooling with Special Needs
  • Monique G - 5 Days of Homeschooling the Middle School Years
  • Rebekah T - 5 days of Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World
  • Ritsumei H - 5 Days of Homeschooling Books
  • Wendy R - 5 days of Homeschooling Kids with a Large Age Gap
  • Yvie - 5 days of Road-Schooling

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

American History with Memoria Press {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

Memoria Press

Today I get to talk about one of my very favorite companies for homeschool curriculum, Memoria Press. I was first introduced to Memoria Press a dozen or more years ago, and I used a lot of their materials and loved them.  Now they have so much more available!

The Homeschool Review Crew has recently had the opportunity to review three very different products:  First Form Greek Complete Set, which I plan to work through with Connor this summer. Other reviewers used  Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set, which I have been using with William -- and we love it!

My fifth and seventh graders have been using two complementary products that will be the focus of this review: The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set.  These two programs can be used individually, but I really love the combination of the two of them together.  They are both intended for grades 5-8.

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set

The main component for us is the H. A. Guerber set.  This set consists of the book, The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic, plus a Student Guide and Teacher Guide.  The program is broken into thirty-two weekly lessons.  A typical lesson covers 2-3 chapters in the Guerber book, and then there are four sections in the workbook.  First is a Facts to Know section, which lists out key people, places, or events and gives a short explanation.  Second is a vocabulary section, which pulls words from the text, and the students are to look the words up and write out an appropriate definition. Third is a series of short-answer Comprehension Questions.  Finally, there are some enrichment activities, which usually include map and timeline work, along with some type of research.

For instance, lesson ten covers three chapters of the book (Stories of Franklin, Braddock's Defeat, and Wolfe at Quebec).  Each chapter of the book is around two or three pages, so these chapters are not long at all.

The Facts to Know section mentions people like Benjamin Franklin, General Braddock, and William Pitt.  It also covers two events -- the Seven Years' War and the French and Indian War.  Vocabulary words include words such as apprentice, dint, clad, and fray.

The discussion questions really do make the kids think.  None are too difficult, but they need to be paying attention and thinking as they read.  The enrichment for this lesson includes locating places like Philadelphia and Quebec on a map, adding to your timeline, and a composition assignment to write several short journal entries as though you are a colonist in this time.

200 Questions About American History Set
Grades 5-8

The 200 Questions set ties right in.  This set includes flashcards, and both a Student Book and Teacher Guide.  The 200 Questions break down as follows:
  • 150 questions dealing with historical events, such as naming the general who captured Quebec.
  • 30 questions related to a timeline, so it is necessary to grasp dates here.  The only date they expect you to know from this lesson is when the French and Indian War occurred.
  • 20 questions related to famous quotations 
  • 44 questions related to the presidents of the United States
Yes, that adds up to more than 200.

Working through the Guerber text, and adding in the appropriate questions from 200 Questions will only get you up through 116 of the event questions.  To work through the remaining 34 questions, Memoria Press recommends using Story of the World 4.

We were looking for an easy-to-implement history program that would still teach a lot, and this does fit the bill.  We are able to use this by doing history 3-4 days per week.  We read a chapter per day for two or three days, and the kids then go into their Student Books to answer the appropriate questions.  Once we get through all of the chapters, they take a day to do some of the enrichment activities, and we go through the new questions from 200 Questions.

All together, we are spending about twenty minutes per day, and we are all learning.

Bottom line is that we love these sets.  My oldest high school student is using the flashcards too, as he is studying for the American History CLEP test.  The flashcards give him one more way to test himself.

Check out Memoria Press on social media:

Twitter:  @MemoriaPress

And definitely click the banner to go read more Crew reviews!

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Eclectic Foundations {a Homeschool Review Crew review}

Over the past couple of decades of homeschooling, I have used numerous phonics programs, especially since I am dealing with dyslexia and other reading struggles.  Some programs have been really effective, some were not.  Most of the programs have required fairly lengthy lessons, or a lot of prep time from me.  What I have wanted to find is a program that teaches reading in an organized manner using short lessons that don't require a lot of time from me.  No nonsense.  No frills.

Eclectic Foundations might just be the answer I had wanted all along.  I have had the opportunity to try out Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B and Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level C.  Level B is intended for grades 1-2, and Level C is intended for grades 3-4.  My children are all beyond that -- most are way beyond that -- so my experience is not typical.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

Eclectic Foundations is designed to be a complete Language Arts program, not just phonics and spelling.  This also includes reading comprehension, grammar, poetry, handwriting, and composition.  With all of that, I would expect the program to eat up a lot of time.  But it doesn't, and that is the beauty of the program.

The idea is to do short lessons consistently.  Using tried and true methods (such as the McGuffey Eclectic Readers) is one of the biggest benefits of the program.  Once upon a time, these seven books (the Primer, plus the 1st through 6th Readers) took students from learning their letters all the up through what is now considered college-level reading.

Eclectic Foundations is intended to be a nine book series, with each book covering 36 weeks of lessons.  At this time, only the first three levels are available, with Level D coming out this month.  That is my biggest criticism of this program, to be honest.  If more levels were out, I would be thrilled.

Reading through the "What level should I start with?" I read the following:
I also recommend starting with level B if your student is weak in spelling.  Many students that are not strong spellers have not been taught to decode phonetically.  Levels B and C have a strong emphasis on phonics.  Formal spelling lessons are not taught until Level D, but having a strong foundation in phonics will give your student a huge advantage.

Based on that paragraph, I decided that I needed to start my kids with Level B.
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

So how does it work?  Well, you do one short lesson per day, four days a week.  At the beginning of Level B, over the course of a week, you will:
  1. Read through a word list each day, with basic silent-e words in the first week, and practice writing them.
  2. Practice/learn one cursive letter per day, doing both uppercase and lower case. (All other work can be done by printing.)
  3. Two lessons from McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader, each completed over two days.
  4. Read a discuss a poem.
  5. Cover some basic grammar.
  6. Using word cards, color them by part of speech and add them to a word box.
By the end of Level B, you are doing the same stuff, except for handwriting.  As soon as you work through all of the letters of the alphabet, you start practicing some short sentences.

It is short and sweet and requires almost no prep time from Mom.  It is short and sweet, and my kids don't complain about doing it.

In Level B, you are covering a lot of material.  For instance:
  • The daily phonics word lists go from basic silent e words, to words such as know, guide, wrong and gnash. 
  • Handwriting practice moves from learning Aa to writing a sentence like "Begin at once and do it."
  • The first story in the reader is five words long.  "The dog.  The dog ran."  The last story is seven paragraphs, including words such as school, ready, write, and should.
  • Grammar instruction moves from learning things like alphabetical order, to writing a composition about keeping bad company.
All of this in short, incremental lessons.

What did we think?

I totally did not expect to actually use this product when I first looked it over for a Crew run.  I thought I might take a look and wish it had been available when my kids were younger.  Instead, I have found a program I will actually use with all of my homeschoolers.  The material doesn't talk down to the student, so it can be used with older students.  It isn't too juvenile (though the teens rolled their eyes at that first five word "story," I have to confess) or babyish.

My plan is to work through these books with all of my at-home children.  The oldest two are doing two lessons a day (which is one McGuffey's lesson) every day of the week, so that we can hopefully get through Level F before the oldest of these students graduates.  Son Three should then be able to slow down to a more normal pace, and finish the entire series before he graduates, assuming the levels are out in time for that.

My younger kids (grades 5 and 7) are going a little faster right now also.  We're doubling up lessons, so we get through two weeks' worth each week.  Once they get into Level D, we are likely to slow down and work closer to the suggested pace, but we will only take a couple of weeks off between levels, along with breaks at Christmas and the like.  My hope is to finish the entire series by the time the 7th grader graduates.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}

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Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Getting Ready for Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School sounds like something that is ages away, but if you've ever been involved in planning and teaching, you know that right now is the time to be starting to think about those summer plans for the kids in your church.

I've been involved as a volunteer with VBS a few times over the past thirty-some years, and some of those experiences have been absolutely wonderful.  Some, not so much.  I think the best VBS programs are ones where the leaders have tried to balance a few things, like:
  • teaching the kids about Jesus
  • giving the kids a chance to interact and have fun
  • making it easy for the volunteers to participate
  • making parents feel that their kids are in a safe environment
  • making everyone involved feel welcomed and appreciated

Family Christian offered me the chance to get a look at the Maker Fun Factory VBS Ultimate Starter Kit from Group Publishing. 

I have participated in a few programs put out by Group Publishing, including a VBS program at my current church (Kingdom Rock).  One thing I really love about their resources is that it is clear that they have used the materials with real kids -- and real volunteers -- and that makes it so easy to focus on the other goals.  Like teaching the kids about Jesus.

In watching the training DVD, one thing that struck me was their commitment to keeping things REAL:
  • R - Relational - the kids learn by interacting with their small group, by building relationships.
  • E - Experiential - the kids learn by interacting, by experiencing the lesson.
  • A - Applicable - the lessons relate to them and their actual lives.
  • L - Learner-Based - the lessons are taught in multiple ways to reach all kinds of learners.
First, though, take a look at what you get in this starter kit!  (I hope to replace these photos with a video, but technology has been fighting me the past couple of days.)

The kit includes 4 DVDs and 2 CDs

There's a binder for the director, and guides for seven station leaders

And there is a whole lot of guides for the Preschool Program as well

Back to my list at the start of this post.  I have to tell you that the Maker Fun Factory VBS Ultimate Starter Kit makes it so easy to accomplish those goals.
  • Each day centers on a single main point, a point that is reinforced in every station.  They learn about God, about Jesus, and the main idea is consistent throughout all of various activities.
  • Interaction is built into the program at all of the stations.  The kids interact with their mixed-age group, their group leader, and the various station leaders.  
  • Prep work for the volunteers is minimal, with the absolutely fabulous guides that you can follow verbatim.  As a station leader, you know that the activities will take up the allotted time.  You aren't going to need to skip all the discussion at the end because the activity took so long, nor are you going to finish up and still have ten minutes to kill.  You know what the kids are doing in other stations, it is clear how your part fits in with everyone else.
  • With small groups of no more than five students (led by a teen or adult) and stations (led by an adult), parents know that their children are with at least two responsible someones at all points in the day.
  • Group Leaders are encouraged to be personal with each of their students, Station Leaders are encouraged to interact directly with the students who come through their stations. 

This isn't the only thing that Family Christian is doing to help with VBS.  They put on VBS Preview Events.  The first one was this past weekend, but there are two more happening this month and next.
  • Saturday, February 18, 2017 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2017 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
You can register for those at Family Christian's registration page.  I recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this kit free from Family Christian Stores through the Family Christian Blogger program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

Limping Along: Our Semi-Eclectic Approach to Homeschooling

I am so excited to be participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair, hosted by my friend Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds.  I'll be posting each Monday of January, I hope, about my homeschool and what we have planned for this semester.  This week, the 25 (or more!) participating bloggers are posting in the topic See How We Learn/Welcome to the Fair.

In coming weeks, we'll be looking at the following:
  • January 9 - Playing with Words: the Language Arts
  • January 16 - Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
  • January 23 - Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science
  • January 30 - Seeking Beauty: the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World
Don't those sound fun?

This week, kicking it off though, is about "how we get it done."  I have a thing or two to say about that.  Because it seems like more often than not, I don't get it done.

My homeschooled kids are in 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th grades, plus (for another few days) I have one home from college.  We've homeschooled from the beginning, and my approach has changed quite a lot from those early days.

Once upon a time, things were fairly scheduled.  We knew what we needed to do, and we did it.  I worked methodically through programs, finishing one up before starting something else.  We read aloud.  A lot.  And read aloud more.  A lot of that had to do with finances, really.  Library cards are the best homeschooling bargain out there.  With purchased curriculum, I did not have the funds to get something else if what I had wasn't working, so my only real option was to tweak it until it worked.

Once I started reviewing -- and we got some bills paid off -- there was more ability to be flexible and to drop the stuff that didn't work.  The other thing that happened at that time was that my oldest hit middle school.  Up until then, we had successfully stayed all together for all kinds of schoolwork.  That started to be a lot harder to do, though.

Fast forward to the last year or so.  I have older high school student(s), younger high school, middle school, elementary...  their needs are all over the place, and things just aren't as easy to coordinate anymore.

One thing I tend to do is to gear things to the oldest.  Last year, that meant that whatever courses Connor still needed to do, those were the ones we were doing.  We focused on getting his high school work done and filling in gaps on his transcript.  His high school brother came along for the ride, and got many of those things done for his high school credits as well.  Connor loved a printed book, so my tendency towards literature-based, leaning classical, semi-traditional worked for him.

Now it is is William's turn, and our school tends to focus on him a bit more.  He loves audio and video, and eats up history.  So our schooling is leaning in a completely different direction.  We utilize video-based courses, particularly our subscription to The Great Courses Plus, but also some other amazing resources. 

Thomas loves video too, but he's more interested in the technical side.  He's got his own YouTube channel, and is busy creating stop motion videos.  Currently, he's shooting footage of the moon landing, which I think is going to be pretty incredible.  He's also my artsy one,

Richard and Trina tend to do a lot of activity-based schooling, along with a bunch of online things.

All of that leaves ME feeling a bit scattered and like we're going along -- limping along -- in a million different directions.  It isn't what I envisioned sixteen years ago when I really started homeschooling.  
One thing I discovered, in pulling together a transcript for Connor, is that we do get more done than I think sometimes.  We may be running in a million directions, but our a little bit of this, a little bit of that approach has had some great results.


Go check out the other blogs!  I always find these posts to be inspiring and motivating!!  (note: all posts will be live by noon EST, Jan. 2nd)

The Evolution of Our Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Us-School Because We Are Us, Not Someone Else by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

It's All About the School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Setting the Stage- the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! by Lisa N. @ Golden Grasses

New Year, New Goals, New School! by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Homeschooling - A Glimpse into How We Do it by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Spotlight on How We Learn in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Our Unique Eclectic Homeschool  by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

How We Learn on the Go by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Home Education - 10 Ways We Make It Work by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Schedules, where would I be without them? by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Education at Our House by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Starting the Day Well by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Making a Change - Accountability and Responsibility Through Routine by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A time to be encouraged is coming.. the Virtual Curriculum Fair by Annette @ A Net in Time

Loving the Moment! by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind

Keeping Our Homeschool Organized by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Homeschool Goal Setting – Looking Forward, Looking Back by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

How We Choose Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom's Heart

This Is How We Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

How we don't learn in our homeschool & how I don't plan {2017 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair} by Meghan @ Quiet in the Chaos

Learning Our Way by Lisa @ McClanahan 7

2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair: See How We Learn by Dana L @ Luv'N Lambert Life

If you have relevant posts, definitely feel free to link up!