Monday, June 30, 2014

Veritas Press Self-Paced History {a Schoolhouse Review Crew review}

This is the spot where I usually tell you how excited I was about a review product, and how I was so sure it would be fabulous, and it truly was.

I'm not going to do that this time.

As a Crew Leader for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I knew Veritas Press was going to excite lots of people.  Personally I was intrigued, but we already have history, and their Self-Paced History program just isn't something we needed right now, or so I thought.  My response to sample videos was not terribly positive.  A sphinx in sunglasses (OT and Egypt), very long songs (all of them), adults bickering about who gets to label what on a map (NT, Greece, and Rome), and so on.

To jump ahead in this story, Richard (10) and Trina (8) ended up asking if they could try out Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt, because they wanted to start at the beginning.  One of my job responsibilities is to be familiar with the programs we are reviewing, so we frequently will take a little break from our regularly scheduled programming and spend a week or so checking out something different.

Veritas Press Review

My kids totally loved it.  They convinced me that we needed to keep going, therefore we are.  And once we received the Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards, they were completely hooked.


How does this program work?

The Self-Paced History classes are online.  Each course is broken up into 32 events, and you have a flashcard to go with each event.  Each event is taught over one week, with a lesson for each day. The lesson involves sitting down to watch an online presentation, which includes a few key things:
  • Some kind of (usually amusing) presentation of the basic event for the week, and then some additional side events or deeper looks at the event.
  • Reading the timeline card (and it is nice to have a real copy for yourself)
  • The song, which goes through either all 32 or the first 16 events for the year.  And yes, my kids had the first sixteen memorized by about lesson 8, and they have since memorized the whole thing.
  • A variety of game-like reviews, both of the current week's event and of past events.
  • Map work, including having the kids label the places on the map (drag and drop place names into the blanks).
  • A quiz at the end of the week.
My kids are loving it, and learning a ton.

Veritas Press ReviewThe Flashcards include some additional resource suggestions, such as Usborne and Kingfisher encyclopedias, and Streams of Civilization.  I assumed we'd use these, but I've found the video presentations do such a thorough job that I haven't seen the need.  Speaking of the flashcards, they are gorgeous, with artwork representing the event on the front.  I love anything that incorporates art.

There are also reading assignments within the course, for books like Golden Goblet or Tut's Mummy, Lost and Found.  We are using most of those.

What it covers:

I had looked at the Veritas Press catalog years ago, and it seemed like a solid program.  They work through history mostly chronologically, something I really like.  It's not totally chronological.  The last event you study in the first course, on Ancient Egypt, "Egypt Falls to Roman Rule," clearly happens sometime later than the first events in the next year's course (Self-Paced History: New Testament, Greece and Rome).  In fact, the first event in the Greece and Rome course is about the Minoan Civilization (2200-1450 BC), so for these two levels, there is a lot of overlap.

Their take on chronology meshes with mine. Study what you are learning about in order, but don't spend so much time jumping from one civilization to another that you lose sight of the big picture.  Overall, I really am liking what I see.  You study:
  1. Old Testament and Ancient Egypt: this is pretty heavy on the Bible (19 events, up through King Solomon), with major periods in Egyptian history covered from the Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt to the Fall to Rome.
  2. New Testament, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome:  This course actually covers part of the Old Testament (four events) and the Gospels (four events) and the remaining 24 events primarily relate to Greece and Rome and the early Church.
  3. Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation: This course starts with the conversion of Augustine in 386, so it just barely overlaps with the second one.  It covers  church history along with events like the Hundred Year War, and ends with John Knox in 1560. 
  4. Explorers to 1815: Of course, this starts with Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), so again, there is a bit of overlap of dates.  The last event is the Missouri Compromise of 1820.  This is pretty heavy on US history, but I'm guessing that much of what was going on in the world is covered in the course alongside the "main" events.
  5. 1815 to Present: This starts with the Monroe Doctrine (1823) and ends with "Modern America" which talks about a few events, including 9/11.  Again, almost every one of the key events involves the US, though clearly many involve multiple nations.  


What I like:

There are a number of things I love about this program.
  • Interactive nature means my kids really don't have the chance to zone out.
  • The silliness is just right for my 8 year old, the 10 year old sometimes rolls his eyes a bit (but he laughs at it still!) and my 13 year old even makes a point of being in the room when the lesson is playing so that he "happens" to hear it too.  He insists he is too old for it, but funny thing is, he always shows up.  And, to be totally honest, now that I'm seeing it in context, I find the silly stuff to be fun too.
  • The additional reading suggestions are available on a downloadable pdf, so you have plenty of warning to get a book reserved at the library or to find it in your stash.
  • There are a couple of hands-on projects, with a pdf warning you about those too.
  • I can be very hands-off for this (with a couple exceptions, below) or at the very least, I don't have to do much planning aside from occasionally putting a book on hold at the library.  I need some coursework that works that way. I need my little ones to be able to do something independently.
This was one of the hands-on projects -- making pyramids from paper.  They had to add it to a tray of sand!

Some things I do not like:

  • The timing on a few of the activities is HARD.  I don't know if it is a less-than-stellar internet connection on my end, or something with the program, but a couple of the games involve things like answering the questions before the earth floods (obviously, for reviewing The Flood), and I have to come over and read the questions and answers and click fast... and we still usually end up losing.  We get a second chance, so that time, I will skip reading the questions that were answered correctly the first time, and still be clicking as fast as possible to beat it.
  • Spelling.  My kids are all pretty horrific spellers, so your mileage may vary.  But there are (timed) spelling activities where they have seen a word like "covenant" in one of the discussion slides, and then on the next slide, they need to spell it correctly.  That's another one where I end up being called over to help out.  A little more time would make me happier with this.


In conclusion:

We are loving this, and are seriously considering sticking with the Veritas Press Self-Paced History for the next couple of years.  This course is intended for 2nd through 6th grade, and it is thorough and easy for mom.

Richard (rising 5th grader) had this to say.  (I'm trying to spell and punctuate it like I heard it!)
I've really learned a lot from Old Testament and Ancient Egypt.  Well, not the Bible part really, as I already knew most of that stuff.  But Ancient Egypt?  Oh, definitely! I'm learning there.  At first, I thought the Sphinx was pretty silly, but now he's actually fun.  I think he kinda grew on me.  I hate the spelling though.  I know I need to learn to spell better, but do I have to do that in history class? 
The song is amazing.  The first time I listened, I thought they were completely, totally insane to think I could learn all those events, but I was able to sing along pretty quickly, and now I don't even need the music and I can do the whole thing.  Other than Simeon and the Sphinx and, ummm, Mrs. Simeon being a little silly sometimes, I really like that they don't talk to me like I'm just a dumb little kid.  I mean, they think I can learn all those songs and dates and they were right!  I didn't even think I could do that.  Oh!  I did learn something about the Bible.  I never knew that Sarah's name was Sarai before.  Though probably someone told me that and I just wasn't listening. This is my favorite history ever.  Practically perfect, if they'd just make the spelling go away.  I hope we keep going.
At $199 per course, (plus $19.95 for the flashcards) it is something I will have to plan for.  This course is outstanding though, so I am very likely to do so.

If you are interested in reading what other Crew Members thought of the Self-Paced courses from Veritas Press (all of the history courses, plus Omnibus I), click the banner below:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I is for iPads (and other technology) {Homeschooling High School ABCs}'m not having a good week.

There.  I said it.  So this post is bound to be disjointed.  Sorry.

I is for iPads (and other technology).

When my big guys were a lot younger, I was pretty big into limiting screen time and pretty phobic about them learning from a computer.  I wasn't quite so worried about the occasional DVD, so we'd watch Magic School Bus, or some of the amazing Schlessinger videos from the library.

I also wasn't allergic to audiobooks, especially once I got my first iPod (an iPod Shuffle, that holds practically nothing, and we still have it!!)

Fast forward a decade, and my approach to technology in homeschool is dramatically different.  I welcome it.  Technology means some amazing opportunities for high school learning.  I'm going to talk about a few specifics that my teens are using, but this isn't meant just as a recommended resource list.  It is intended to help you think about how tech can be used.

First, there is the fairly low-tech side of things.  We recently started using Old Western Culture from Roman Roads Media.  This is merely a set of DVDs and a study guide.  We are able to watch a fabulous lecture by Wes Callihan, then the kids answer questions and read another big chunk of classic literature (The Iliad, at the moment), and watch another DVD lecture.

This is an approach I would have approved of a decade ago too.  Using the DVD player to bring an expert into my home to guest lecture?  No problem.  This works for all kinds of subjects, and most people seem to own a DVD player and a television.

A similar approach would be to do basically the same thing, only downloading the video, or watching it online.  The nice thing about that, is the ability to pull out a Kindle Fire or an iPad and view it there.  That is how we've used Visual Latin, for instance.

A step up from that would be a course like Thinkwell Calculus, which Connor is taking right now.  He is able to watch lectures online, and then work through problems, sample problems, and even tests, all within the course.  He gets a expert instructor, and he gets the hands-on work.

We've just started with Homeschool Piano.  That involves watching video lessons and practicing away from the internet.  The above photo shows a still from the lesson -- Willie in the bottom corner, explaining something, the middle keyboard shows his fingers in action, and the top "virtual" keyboard highlights and names the notes he is playing.

In the below image, the first column of buttons takes you to the amazing video lessons.  The second column of buttons takes you to quizzes.

Another low-tech approach is to obtain audio lectures and just listen to those.  We did that, using a The Modern Scholar course on music appreciation that we got through Audible.  Put that onto an iPod, and we could listen to a lecture on our drive to Scouts each week.  Our library is a great source for Modern Scholars courses, and they cover a lot of ground.  The Great Courses is another fantastic resource for that --  and also for video courses, and downloadable ones too.

An online course is another option.  We are not currently doing any of those, but Connor did take an online Greek course one semester (and we still keep hoping they'll have enough interest to offer semester 2!)  That involved going into a weekly classroom, run through some of the various virtual meeting programs, where the teacher would present information in real time, the students can answer via chat or mic, they interact directly with the instructor and each other, etc.  There is homework to do between class sessions, and it can be a wonderful experience.

Homeschool Spanish Academy is a fantastic use of technology.  Using Skype, Connor meets with a Spanish teacher in Guatemala. Seriously, how cool is that?  He has a one-on-one tutoring session, with a native speaker who is qualified to teach the language.  All without leaving the house.  (If you are interested in Homeschool Spanish Academy, let me know.  I can get a discount on my next course for referrals...  )

Then there are apps.  Whether it is a scientific calculator, astronomy tools that show you what is visible in the sky in real time, math drill, vocabulary study, a bird guide... there is really something for everyone.

The other big thing we do that is tech-driven involves the Kindle Fire.  You've probably seen advertising about the Whispersync capability, where you can listen to the audible audiobook for a chapter, and it will know where you left off when you open your Kindle ebook to read the next two chapters.

Well, that also works with newer (not the first version) Kindle Fires for "immersion" reading.  You have the ebook open, and you can listen to the professional Audible narration, and the words are highlighted in the ebook as they are read.

This changed the world for William, who is severely dyslexic.

We use that a lot, for all kinds of books.  William can read along, and not lose his place if he is momentarily distracted.  It opens up books that are far longer than he'd have the stamina to read on his own.  And it has hugely improved his reading abilities.

Like I said, this is just a quick overview of how I use tech in non-tech courses.  I'm sure I've missed something obvious, and there are LOTS of other possibilities for specific courses.  This is just a smattering of some things we are using -- or that we have used -- in our home for high school.

Ben and Me
My next post?  I'm clueless.  I'll start thinking on Monday.  J is for Jittery, J is for Just Do It...  I don't know.

Marcy is posting a word study, and this week is a complete MUST READ -- I is for Intercession.  It's a good one.  There are a few dozen other amazing I posts linked up too.  Like I is for Images.  That is another must read.  Go check some out!

Disclaimer:  There are some affiliate links above, specifically for the Compass Classroom materials.  I only mention products we have used and loved.  Feel free to do a Google Search to avoid my affiliate link if you would prefer.  Any affiliate income I receive goes into school stuff for my kids, though I think I have bought groceries with some when we were pretty desperate. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Huge Sale from Home School Adventure Co.

Roughly a year ago, I reviewed Philosophy Adventure.  Fantastic program. 

I've also used (and really, really loved) their Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal, and I've looked over (but not yet truly used) their other products too.  I did a little of Philippians in 28 weeks... but the timing was bad for us.  I need to start again.

Anyway -- they have a fantastic sale going on right now.  I'd highly encourage you to check into this. 

The links below are affiliate links.  Feel free to use them, or not.  I'm posting this because Stacy Farrell is an amazing person, with amazing products, and this sales has the lowest prices I've ever seen.

Home School Adventure Co. is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Philosophy Adventure™! For a limited time, you can save 40% on all digital resources!

Their introductory prices will be ending soon, so if you have been curious about their products, now is the best time to buy!

DO YOU NEED to teach advanced writing and speaking skills?

DO YOU WANT your students equipped to discern truth as ungodly messages bombard them?

DO YOU WONDER how to cover all they need academically as well as practically?

Normally, Philosophy Adventure™ digital curriculum is $39.95 for the complete set. With the coupon code ANNIVERSARY40 it becomes $23.97!

This is the BIGGEST DISCOUNT EVER on Philosophy Adventure™!

In addition to Philosophy Adventure™, Home School Adventure Co. offers a number of other resources to help homeschool families strengthen critical thinking skills, memorize Scripture, and train hearts to love what is right, pure, and true.

Also included in their sale, save
40% on these digtial products:

Prefer printed products?

Get FREE shipping on all printed versions!

Use the coupon code ANNIVERSARY40 at checkout to take 40% off all digital products.
No coupon needed for FREE shipping. Free shipping applies to orders shipped throughout the USA only.

Read what others say about their products:

"In all my years of research, seldom have I picked up a book on philosophy and felt that I couldn't put it down. That changed when I encountered Philosophy Adventure.... I highly recommend Philosophy Adventure to students and educators!"
—Linda Lacour Hobar
Author of The Mystery of History


"This captivating overview of pre-Socratic philosophers not only
will help instill a love for knowledge and wisdom in your child's
heart and mind, but even more it will fuel the growing flames of
faith and Christian worldview at a critical point in your child's

—Clay Clarkson

Whole Heart Ministries

Author of Educating the WholeHearted Child

"Philosophy Adventure" is more than a course on thinkers, it’s a course in how to think for yourself and how to effectively share those thoughts with others. And it’s a course you and your students won’t be able to put down!"
—Hal & Melanie Young
Authors of Raising Real Men
and My Beloved and My Friend

"User friendly, solid biblically, academically sound, and culturally relevant, Stacy Farrell has done an excellent job putting together this comprehensive curriculum … to help our children discern and defend truth."
—Tracy Klicka
Dir. of Development, Home School Foundation
Speaker, writer, and blogger

"There has never been a mind quite like C. S. Lewis … Stacy Farrell has done a great service by providing insightful study questions for students and adults who want to work critically through this Christian masterpiece."
—Israel Wayne
Author of Questions God Asks and
Homeschooling From A Biblical Worldview
Editor for

Michael Phillips
"The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions is fantastic. Its beautiful design is visually compelling. The discussion questions—the entire presentation—is like nothing on MacDonald I have ever seen. I just love it!
—Michael Phillips
Best selling Christian Author &
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This is the
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- but it ends on 6/30/14, so don't delay. Place
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lilla Rose Summer Sale

My friend, Jennifer, got me started with Lilla Rose Flexi Clips.  I absolutely love them, as I can pull my hair back, look reasonably put together... and they don't fall out or tug at my head.

Right now, they are having a Summer Sale.  10% off, free shipping if you order $40 or more...

And they released the July Flexi Clip early.  I must have this one in a Mini size, for Trina to wear with her American Heritage Girls uniform.  Because it is perfect.

Is that just adorable, or what?

I'll put it in for her so she looks something like this:

That one is a butterfly, which she wears a lot.  She also owns a dragonfly mini.

I do stuff like that with my hair using an Extra Small clip.  We also use that size if we are trying to put up all of her hair.

I use a Small to pull up all of my hair.

Definitely watch the sizing videos if you are new to Lilla Rose! 

Love, love, love their products... and if you buy, I'd love it if you supported Jennifer. 

Odyssey Adventure Club – join today for just $5!

This summer, I'm doing something a little different.  I'm an Odyssey Club Blogger... so I'll be posting a few times about some things going on with the Odyssey Adventure Club, a new online site from Focus on the Family.

The target audience is kids ages 8-12, and I have two of them.  We're looking forward to a bunch of Adventures in Odyssey activities this summer.


Are your kids in need of a safe and fun environment where they can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth? Enter the Odyssey Adventure Club (AOC)!

For a limited time, you can join HERE for only $5 (regular monthly membership costs $15 for up to six users)!

Families will be able to stream the Adventures in Odyssey library, plus listen to exclusive new monthly episodes.  Busy families will find 24/7 access to the content through the Odyssey Adventure Club mobile iPhone app.

Children can also read daily devotions, interact with hands-on activities and view video documentaries featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. Parents can feel confident their children are safe on the Odyssey Adventure Club website — Focus on the Family staff will be monitoring all comments before they’re publicly posted. (Created for children ages 8-12.)

A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership will benefit Focus on the Family partner relief organizations, including Christian Veterinary Mission, Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. This provides parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of giving and serving others.

Coming in July, Odyssey Adventure Club members get to listen to the brand new album, "The Ties That Bind," FIRST before it's available ANYWHERE ELSE!

Click here to join for only $5!

Disclaimer: As part of the Odyssey Club Blogger program, I receive access to the Odyssey Adventure Club and some other resources in exchange for posting about the Club. I am not required to give positive opinions.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Not GRΣΣK to Me {a Moms of Master Books review}

Did you ever think that learning Biblical Greek could be fun?  And funny?

Have I got a product for you.

It's Not GRΣΣK to Me, this month's Moms of Master Books review product, is a simply fabulous introduction to Biblical Greek.  We used it along with the accompanying Parent Lesson Plan, which provides some worksheets and some direction for high school students especially.

This is meant to give you just enough Greek to be dangerous, and can be used to get you ready for a first year Greek class.

The goals of this 10-lesson DVD course are to make it so that you understand how Greek works, read the words, and understand the basics of the grammar.  The recommendation is to get an Interlinear Bible and use that, once you finish this course. 

What you are not doing?
  • You aren't memorizing vocabulary lists.
  • You aren't learning big long lists of conjugations (verbs) and declensions (nouns), but you do know what that means.
  • You aren't trying to translate from English into Greek.
  • You aren't getting hung up on "proper" pronunciation (since we don't have tape recordings anyway, so "proper" is really just an educated guess).
Todd Friel (he likes to be called Mr. Friel) is lots of fun.  In a geeky way.  He doesn't take himself too seriously, which is great, so when he trips over a sentence as he is filming, he laughs at it and corrects himself and moves on.  I love that with video courses.  It sends a great message to perfectionistic kids (here's a great product that could have been perfect, but Mr. Friel is okay letting you see that everyone makes mistakes).  It also sends a great message to kids who have a tendency to make stupid little mistakes (here's someone who also makes mistakes, only he doesn't beat himself up over it).

Check out this preview clip:

The only thing this course has you memorizing is the Greek alphabet, and some punctuation types of things.  I like that.

So what do we think?

  • Funny and memorable.
  • Connor thinks this would have been fabulous to have done before he took a semester of Greek.
  • William and I find it pretty easy to follow as well, and think it is going to be a great help in Bible study.  
  • Mr. Friel is really good at looking at the camera.  This isn't just a "set up the camera in the classroom" style.  Multiple camera angles, and he always seems aware of which one he is talking to.
  • The DVD can be used by itself for adult or teen study.
  • The Parent Lesson Plan can be used if you want a bit more schoolish types of work, or if you want to make this a half-credit for high school.
  • There are a few points where the camera angle makes it rather difficult to make out what is written on the chalkboard.
  • There were a couple of technical glitches, with two lessons that cut off in the middle of what appeared to be the last sentence.
  • There is also at least one point where the information provided in writing doesn't quite match what is being said, but it is easy to figure it out (and that will be fixed!)
You can go see what other Moms of Master Books have to say about this DVD.

Disclaimer:   I received this DVD and the Parent Lesson Plan 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.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

H is for Housework {Homeschooling High School ABCs} along in Blogging through the Alphabet, talking about teens, and this week has been a struggle.  Nothing works for a topic.  Maybe it was because we were getting ready for a visit from my parents.  Maybe it was because it is so hot, and driving my prone-to-overheating van isn't fun.

So I'm breaking away from the strict homeschooling high school subject, and typing up a slightly different post.

H is for Housework.

Back when my kids were all small, and I was trying so hard to keep up with things... dishes, trash, clean a bathroom once in awhile, and oh, yeah... three meals a day, I used to fantasize about the kids being older and truly being able to help.

I have to say, that has been a mixed bag.

Some things, I just don't even think about anymore.  Well, not too often, anyway.  They get the trash taken care of without a lot of prompting, dishes get done with a bit of prompting, the kitchen is swept semi-regularly, and their bathroom is cleaned some of the time.

The kids usually make breakfast, frequently make lunch, and sometimes they do dinner too.

Somehow, though, it just seems that there is so much more that needs to happen now, and with high school loads, I feel guilty for making them do too much.

Something I read in Raising Real Men by Hal and Melany Young though, has really stuck with me.  Their theory is that you give the jobs to the youngest person who is able to do that job.  I don't totally follow that, but it does guide how chores are assigned.  (I reviewed Raising Real Men once upon a time!)

Theoretically, that frees my older kids up to take on more complex tasks and it frees them up to spend more time on their schoolwork.  That is important.  In practice, all three teens have at least one basic, no-brainer job.  One sweeps the kitchen floor daily.  One does a one-minute wipedown in their bathroom.  One takes care of trash.

And my little two are pretty equal in ability, so just because the 8 year old CAN do dishes, it doesn't mean she does all the dishes.  The 10 year old has dish duty as well.  The teens wash pans and knives.  The little two share vacuuming duties.

The teens each have a "once in a while" job to do each week too.  That might be cleaning the ceiling fan, or it might mean moving a sofa and vacuuming underneath it. 

It works great, when I am paying attention and making sure people are following through.  In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not always real good at that.

The visit from my parents reminded me of that.  We worked to do things like clear off the island in the kitchen, and I remember how nice it is to work in the kitchen when I have all kinds of counter space.

My Homeschooling High School point this week?  I guess it is just that it is good to strike a balance, so that your teens are helping your house to be a home, yet not overloading them either.

I'd love to know what works for you.  Because I am always needing a new idea.

Ben and Me
My next post might be I is for iPads (and other technology) ...  or maybe, like the past couple weeks, I'll be writing one post and another will force itself out.

Marcy is posting a word study, and this week is H is for Honor.  It's a good one.  There are a few dozen other amazing H posts linked up too.  Go check some out!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Edwin: High King of Britain {a Kregel Book Tours review}

I love historical fiction.  I've made that point on this blog a time or two.

I'm starting to be interested in early Britain.

There isn't a whole lot of historical fiction that actually feels accurate that takes place in early Britain.

Edwin: High King of Britain, by Edoardo Albert, is the first in The Northumbrian Thrones trilogy.  Albert is a historian and a journalist, and I have to say, the book does reflect both of those careers.

From the publisher:
In 604 AD, Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin's usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure--the missionary Paulinus--who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain. It is a turning point.

Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life.

This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade--and to come to terms with the faith of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.

The dramatic story of Northumbria's Christian kings helped give birth to England as a nation, English as a language, and the adoption of Christianity as the faith of the English.
I've enjoyed reading this title, and I look forward to reading more.  The downside for me is mostly that this is dealing with a time period I really do not (yet) know much about.  So, aside from Edwin, most of the names are hard for me to pronounce in my head.  Not counting the names that have that funky AE smushed together letter in them, this is filled with folks like Osfrith, Cwenburg, Guthlaf, Coifi, Ymma, Cearl, Cwichelm, Cadwallon, and Eadbald.

That aspect was rough.

Fortunately, there is a cast of characters at the beginning of the book, and I referred to that frequently in the first few chapters, less so as I got further along.  That at least helped me keep track of who the people were.

Like all great historical fiction, this book includes a fabulous concluding Historical Note, that outlines what parts of the story are true (most of it), and how and how much the author really does know about what was happening 1400 years ago.

The ebook is on sale for $1.99 right now.  Click the link below to learn more!

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

Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway -- $700+ Value!

I am so excited to be participating in the launch of the upcoming release of Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring.  We are simply loving this product!  The music is fabulous, and the stories are engaging and fun.

But I don't want to spoil my review (coming the week on June 30!) by saying too much just now.

You should enter this giveaway though. 

Diana and Friends Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in and as you can see, someone's homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!

Here's what you could win!

From Diana Waring Presents

american history -- never this funExperience History Through Music - set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through History series includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it's music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun!

EncouragementCollage2Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.

From A Journey Through Learning

Logo New 300 trans$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.




From Homeschool Legacy

westward ho I 300x400Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I.

Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.

From Knowledge Quest Maps

HardcoverCD_ecover_croppedMap Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.




From Home School Adventure Co. 

PAPS-R-96dpi shadowPhilosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.






From Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

fpf3-bundle-covers-180x180Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!

From Raising Real Men

RRM-Mom-Dad-300x295Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner's choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69)

My-Beloved-and-My-Friend-Cover-Border-201x300Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)




From Institute for Excellence in Writing

$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.

From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos, monthly free ebook downloads and more.

Big-Book-14-Cover-113013-e1392516063206The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.

From Writing with Sharon Watson

the-power-in-your-hands-front-coverThe Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing.

69276_1454187188126914_157492202_nWriting Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your students develop their fiction-writing talents with Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life.

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Know the Creeds and Councils {a Book Look Blogger review}

I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to things like the history of the church, or even a whole lot on theology types of issues.

It seems like I get into conversations all the time where people are throwing out words like sola scriptura or talking about TULIP (I assume that is supposed to be capitalized) and they may as well be speaking Japanese.  I have no idea what any of that means.

All of that means I'm probably not the best person to listen to when it comes to my opinion on a book called Know the Creeds and Councils.  After all, it isn't truly likely that I'd know if Justin Holcomb was completely misrepresenting the creeds or councils.

What I can tell you, however, is that as someone who does not tend to spend a lot of time trying to figure out all this jargon, I did find this book readable and understandable.

The publisher describes the book like this:
In every generation, the Christian church must interpret and restate its bedrock beliefs, answering the challenges and concerns of the day. This accessible overview walks readers through centuries of creeds, councils, catechisms, and confessions - not with a dry focus on dates and places, but with an emphasis on the living tradition of Christian belief and why it matters for our lives today. As a part of the KNOW series, Know the Creeds and Councils is designed for personal study or classroom use, but also for small groups and Sunday schools wanting to more deeply understand the foundations of the faith. Each chapter covers a key statement of faith and includes a discussion of its historical context, a simple explanation of the statement’s content and key points, reflections on contemporary and ongoing relevance, and discussion questions.

What I enjoyed about this title is that aspect of "ongoing relevance" and why does any of this matter.

I found it fairly amusing that the day after reading in chapter 3 (the Councils of Ephesus) about Arianism, I ended up hearing about it in a completely different context, and I had an idea as to what was being discussed.

The book has fairly short chapters that can mostly be read in a sitting -- starting with The Apostles' Creed (140 A.D.) and ending with a chapter on Modern Confessions (dating from the 1970s).

I wouldn't call this enjoyable reading, but it was interesting and informative.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers 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.”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

G is for Growing Pains {Homeschooling High School ABCs} along in Blogging through the Alphabet, talking about teens, and I had lots of ideas that were actually homeschool related.  You know, directly.  But somehow, they weren't what I was supposed to write about.  So instead, it is --

G is for Growing Pains.

It is so easy to get caught up in the academics and the extra-curriculars with high school.  Test scores, credits, all of that stuff you need on transcripts.

I think that one of the biggest advantages to homeschooling high school, though, has to do with growing.

Whenever my boys are going through a growth spurt, they seem to sleep for 20 hours a day (and either eat or snap at each other for the other four)!  I'll drag them out of bed to do school, but it is like every synapse in their body is focused on getting them too tall for the jeans I just bought, and there is not a single spark left to run their thinker.

It usually doesn't last terribly long, and then they come out of that fog and start acting normal again.  (Who am I kidding?  My kids aren't normal!)

I've learned to back off, expect less, and let them get a bunch of sleep.

We couldn't do that if they were in school.

I'm accused of being too soft on them, and I'm told they will never learn to "just do it" in the real world.  But it isn't like I let them get out of everything.  After a week of lots of sleep, along with taking a day to go buy jeans that are 2" longer, we can get back to chemistry, or calculus.

I like to think they'll get more out of it that way.  I'm pretty sure I'm right for my kids anyway.

Ben and Me
My next post might be H is for Honors or H is for History or maybe H is for How Can I Possibly be a Mom of a High Schooler? ...  or maybe, like the past couple weeks, I'll be writing one post and another will force itself out.

Marcy is posting a word study, and this week is G is for Gentleness.  There are a few dozen other amazing G posts linked up too.  Go check some out!