Friday, March 30, 2012

Amazing Animals By Design

Amazing Animals By Design
Tate Publishing
Debra Haagen
Ages: preschool-early elementary
Price: $7.99 for a PDF, $8.99 for a paperback copy

Why is a giraffe’s neck so tall? Why do zebras have stripes? Did all of these things happen by accident? When John and Sarah visit the zoo, they ask these questions and many more. Their parents and the zookeepers keep using the word design, but what does that mean? With its relevant message and exciting presentation, this is the perfect book to help introduce children to intelligent design. Come find out in Amazing Animals by Design by Debra Haagen!

I received a PDF copy of the book Amazing Animals by Design by Debra Haagen. This book is a very sweet book that follows a family through a trip to the zoo as they discover many aspects of how each animal is PERFECTLY designed and suited to live in their environment. This book came along as a result of their many trips to zoos and wildlife parks. Debra was looking around for a book to explain intelligent design to her children when they were having a difficult time understanding what that meant. There was nothing available at that time, so Debra decided to write a book herself.
I love how Debra picked up on the words that the zookeepers used often in their trips:"the animals were DESIGNED..." and used that to explain to her children about intelligent design and the Perfect Designer and I loved how she brought it home to them...showing that their children (and mine, and yours!!!) have a special design and are made in God's own image.
Listen to Debra's radio interview here
My Children really enjoyed this book and I am going to bring a paper copy of it with me the next time our family goes to the zoo and watch for teaching times as we walk along.

Amazing Animals by Design can be purchased here now, but will be released on April 1st for other retailers.

See what my fellow crew mates have to say about Amazing Animals by Design here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I See Sam

Academic Success for All Learners: I See Sam Little Books
Price: $30 per set
Grades: Kindergarten-3.6

I See Sam Little Book Sets are the result of research programs conducted at Utah State University. The “Little Books” program is a sequence of 141 color coded books. There are 8 sets of books from Kindergarten to 3.6 reading level. Each set contains up to 27 books. You can see the Anatomy of a Little Book to get a good feel for how the books work and there are also several free resources

Scope and Sequence

DD started at the very beginning...set 1 book 1 as he knew all of his sounds, but was having difficulty translating that into reading words...he would often (and still does) read sounds not in the Sis can be sit...or me is my...things like that...we have not progressed very far into the set yet (we are on book 7), as he is still making these decoding errors, but he is LOVING reading and letters put together all of a sudden have new meaning to him and he often tries to sound out words...not at all deterred when he is incorrect, but keeps trying.
The books begin with sound practice and word practice and then go on to the story segment. Many pages of the book have small notes at the bottom with questions to ask or a smiley face for praise...when DD sees this smiley, he leans in for a kiss...a great reward for his hard work. The print is large enough for small eyes/new readers to track well and the illustrations are simple and enjoyable. The end of the book showcases Coming sounds and words to be introduced for the next book.

DD also LOVES these stories...they are funny to him, the pictures amuse him and the questions at the bottom of many pages keep him focused on understanding what is happening. He enjoys re-reading books he has already mastered and it is a joy to watch him enjoy them. One amusing thing he is trying to grasp is inflection of voice when reading while figuring out what to do with punctuation...While I might not be able to convey this in my post, it is so sweet to hear him read, "I SEE!!!!!!!!!!" Emphasis he will read the word "I" normally and then put an extraordinary amount of excited emphasis on the word "See"...He is trying to place all of the pieces and I find it so sweet in all of the five year old, almost six year old joy. Letters are beginning to have meaning as they sit together in written words and he boldly is attempting to figure it all out while I get a participate as a spectator.

While I really do LOVE these books and will probably order more sets as we progress (We were given sets 1 and 2 for this review), I wish they were a little more sturdy...with maybe laminated covers. We will just be careful with them when handling them, which teaches children to be careful with books in general...definitely a good thing with our frequent trips to the library!

See what my fellow crew mates have to say about I See Sam Little Books here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sufficiency of Scripture

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he *said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ They *said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He *said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard *said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ So the last shall be first, and the first last.”

Matthew 20:1-6

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sufficiency of Scripture

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progeny Press

Progeny Press
Literature Study Guides
Grades: K-High School
Price varies from $11.99 for Lower Elementary to $21.99 for High School for paper copies. CDs and email attachment options are available as well.

Progeny Press has over 100 study guides for literature, covering kindergarten through high school. Progeny Press study guides concentrate on critical thinking, comprehension, literary analysis, and Christian application. Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!

We were generously given two study guides to review...Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt. I am vaguely familiar with both books, but have never read them cover to cover. I would not be able to TEACH these to my children at this point in my life...but Progeny Press made the "teaching" so much easier for me with their Literature Guides. So, I will talk about them individually below...please note that some elements in the guides may be similar and talked about more in the first guide.

For those of you not familiar with The Screwtape Letters, Progeny Press gives a brief synposis of the book:
Screwtape, an undersecretary in the Lowerarchy of Hell, has undertaken the guidance and tutelage of his nephew Wormwood, who has been assigned a human patient to secure for eternity. In a series of letters, Screwtape guides the young demon through the finer points of temptation, the weaknesses and foibles of human beings, and the disaster of his patient becoming a Christian. Though this certainly complicates things, the two infernal beings won't let it stop them

Progeny Press suggests that you read the book in its entirety the first week and then use an additional 7-9 weeks to completely the guide (about one page per day). The guide is broken down into 2-4 chapter (letter) sections and includes sections such as Note to Instructor, Synopsis, About the Novel's Author and Background Information. I really appreciated those extras that gave a glimpse of the world C.S. Lewis was writing in and condensing the book to a much smaller chunk for busy Mommas.

Each Chapter in the Literature Guide has four elements:
1)Vocabulary-Sometimes multiple choice, sometimes matching, sometimes using context clues in the book to get a feel for what the word means and comparing that to the dictionary.
2)Questions- These can be answered directly from the book.
3)Analysis-This is where they really need to think critically and pull out information not directly spelled out in the book. This is a tough skill that my children will need all their lives.
4)Dig Deeper-This is the section where you look at the writing through the lens of the Bible, the ultimate source of Truth. I love that this step is a teaching not just accept things as true...go to the source of Truth and find out if it is true...This teaches them to be Bereans (Acts 17:11- Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true).

After these four elements, there are optional activities that encourage discussion and essay writing type assignments as well as activities such as finding a godly mentor, design a brief service of thanksgiving, critique a popular sitcom, make a point to experience simple pleasures, and much more. My oldest really enjoyed this book, but does not love to write...I liked that some of the activities were things to do, rather than sit and write.

Finally, there is an overview section that can be used as a final test, or it can be completed in the same way the chapter sections were completed.

Times are uneasy for the Matthew Creighton family, tensions rising between the north and the south as war between the states approaches. When war finally does break out, two of the grown Creighton sons, and the town's young school teacher and friend of the family, join the fight. They are expecting an easy victory for the Union, but it quickly becomes clear that victory will neither come easy nor soon. Then the last grown son, Bill, also leaves; but he does not join the Union. When word gets out that he has joined the south, the Creighton family finds the war in their own home, and division and strife rise between them and their neighbors. Nine-year-old Jethro is now the only son still at home. Soon after, his father suffers a heart attack, and it is now up to Jethro - as the only remaining 'working man' in the family - to do the work of five or six grown men.

Times are hard, and the work is endless, but the family's thoughts are ever with their three boys in the war. They live from letter to letter, and for each newspaper with accounts of the fighting.

As time goes on, young Jethro continues to care for his family the best that he can, and he discovers that a man's good character can be stronger than a gun, and last longer than a war.

The elements in the Literature Guide for Middle School Students are:
1) Vocabulary
3)Thinking about the Story
4) Dig Deeper

Thrown in to keep things interesting are sections on Idioms, Connections to History, and Optional Writing Activities.

I personally LOVE having printed copies of I printed off the PDF files and put them into a notebook. I did not realize until we were about halfway into this that there is an interactive aspect to the file where you can enter your answers right on the computer and save them. In this techy age we live in, I wish I would have noticed that. I think the boys would have preferred that format.

I also LOVE the list of titles that Progeny Press has created Literature Guides for. It is a wide range of great books. Since I picked these books for my older boys, I think I will let them each pick the next one. I like the idea of giving them some choices in what they study, but also stretching them to try new things.

I thought that the age ranges were pretty appropriate for the work given. Younger students in each range may need to have some assignments modified, but I thought it looked age appropriate.


See what my fellow crew mates have to say about Progeny Press here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Art of Argument

Classical Academic Press
The Art of Argument
Student Book- $21.95
Teacher’s Edition- $24.95
DVD Set- $54.95
Grades: 7-9 and up

For this review, we received the Student textbook, Teacher's Guide and the first disc of the DVD set.

From the website:
Classical Academic Press produces products to advance the revival of classical education.
They consider logic to be a fundamental part of the trivium and that it will impart to students the skills needed to craft accurate statements and identify the flawed arguments found so frequently in editorials, commercials, newspapers, journals and every other media. We regard the mastery of logic as a "paradigm" subject by which we evaluate, assess and learn other subjects--it is a sharp knife with which we can carve and shape all manner of wood.

Students master 28 fallacies by studying many pertinent examples. The 28 fallacies fall into three categories...Fallacies of irrelevance, fallacies of presumption and fallacies of clarity. Students learn through a variety of activities:
Real-World Applications
Phony Advertisements
Dialectic Discussion Questions

Fun extras such as a humorous skit for students to perform, and the famous short story, Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman

The Art of Argument has been revised to include:
Improved chapter and unit organization for greater ease of use
Fallacy explanations rewritten for clarity
Many added and updated examples
Ten new and revised advertisement illustrations

The Art of Argument is our first dabble into the area of Logic. While I think it is good to know these things, I just never have pulled out something and learned this myself or taught it to my children. In my earlier days of homeschooling, I looked into the classical method of education and very quickly became was not for us.

Fast forward to The Art of Argument. I had my 8th and 12th grade boys do the assignments and we sat down and did the discussions, read the material and then they would complete the assignments. We really enjoyed reading the text, the assignments were the least favorite part of the course (Imagine that!), but what was loved most was the DVD we received which featured three experienced logic teachers and four capable, enthusiastic students discussing the 28 fallacies presented in The Art of Argument. This really made the understanding sink in for ALL of us!

What we LOVED: We loved the very easy to read, conversational tone of the text book. It was not dry and is even sprinkled with humor here and there. As I said before, the DVD was our favorite part of the course. Here there were many practical examples of what was being discussed as well as the fallacies applied. The DVDs are really a KEY part of this curriculum and I would be sure to get them.

What was a challenge: Coming from non writing boys (Yes, I know they NEED to write), there was quite a bit of essay/writing type assignments at the beginning of the course. This, on top of all of the writing they need to do for other courses seemed to be quite a bit of writing. If I were to plan my ideal time to schedule this, I would start it at a time when there is not a lot of other writing assignments. I did notice as we went along in the book, this did lessen, so my boys are very hopeful that that will continue to be the case.

Overall, I think that this warning sums this up very nicely:
Parents and teachers beware--students may use these skills against you!

Truer words were never spoken! Parents, be very careful what you teach your children!!! Seriously though, I am looking forward to getting a little further into the course!

See what my fellow crew mates have to say about Classical Academic Press' The Art of Argument here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Meal Planning Monday I am not all that great at philosophy is that you are either a baker or a cook...Baking involves pretty precise measurements and is relatively consistent each time you make a recipe. The best cooks are those who can add a pinch of this and a little of that and can walk into their pantries and grab a few things and come up with a masterpiece...DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED on asking these people for a recipe...OBVIOUSLY, I am more of a baker!

So in an attempt to get a handle on dinner, I meal plan...that way...I know what's for dinner and can make it...Pretty novel idea, isn't it? Yes, there have been way to many 5 pm's when I haven't had a clue.
If any of you struggle, I will share some of my favorite recipes with you...if you don't have issues with dinner, maybe you can get a fresh idea or remember an old favorite. This recipe is an OLD favorite that I had forgotten about.

I don't remember WHERE I originally got the recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad, but over the years, I have adapted it to our personal tastes and at the suggestion of my dear friend Kathie...It is really good and quick and easy to favorite kind of dinner!!! I hope you enjoy!

Chinese Chicken Salad

1 large head green cabbage...I use regular green cabbage, but I have a friend who prefers the napa.
cooked chicken breasts, cubed...I used 4
2 pkg. top ramen, with seasoning...I Like to use the Oriental kind, but any is fine.
1/2-1 c toasted sesame seeds
6 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. almonds, sliced
2 T. butter
sesame oil, optional

1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c seasoned rice vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1/4 c. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all dressing ingredients together
Mix cubed chicken with dressing and let marinate for at least one hour, or more if desired. I started doing this at the suggestion of my friend Kathie.
Break up Top Ramen noodles. Brown with sesame seeds and almonds in butter. Add seasonings.
Cut up cabbage into thin slices. Toss with onions and cilantro if desired.
Add the top Ramen mixture and the chicken mixture. Stir well to combine all dressing.
I drizzle a small amount of sesame oil over the top for extra flavor.

***I think Cilantro adds a WONDERFUL flavor to SO MANY things, but you are more than welcome to leave it out if you don't care for it.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Creek Edge Press

Creek Edge Press
Task Card Sets
Price: Varies
Grades: K-8

Creek Edge Press has put together sets of Task Cards to help students learn information in a way that encourages children to explore and discover rather than memorize, take the test and forget it. The Task Cards pull together the best of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori education styles that have been sought after by homeschoolers everywhere. Amy K. Hilsman created handwritten task cards when her children were small and has now made her hard work available for us.

"Each Task Card Set includes a set of Task Cards and a Course Introduction. The cards are designed to engage the student in investigative, discovery based learning. Each card within a set is intended to be used at a pace of about one per week. The tasks direct students to research and explore concepts and vocabulary surrounding a particular topic which is stated on the card. Further key concepts and vocabulary are encountered within the subsequent tasks. The student engages in completing these tasks within a learning environment prepared by the teacher. The work is done during a work period set aside for Task Card use."

We received the American History Set of Task Cards. The set is a set of Task Cards and a Course Instruction Guide. This set of cards starts with Native Americans and goes to the 21st Century. This set is $20.

The guide is useful in knowing what to do with each of the tasks on the cards. There is a paragraph on what that task should look like when completed. For instance, Collages: "Students are directed to collect pictures and make a collage. This is not a mindless art activity, but is meant to provide the opportunity for students to engage with variety and distinctive features. Collages should include a title. Supporting links for pictures can be found at in the 'At Creek's Edge' tab."

The guide also gives tips for setting up the learning environment, gives book list suggestions for younger and older students and maps needed for each card.

The Task Cards have the outline that is needed for the student to complete that particular segment. Tasks cover research, map work, summaries, time line work, biographical figures, and simple projects designed to reinforce learning. Older students can complete the work on their own and work at their own pace...about one card per week, younger students will need help according to their abilities. These cards are especially good for those who are studying history as part of a four or five year history cycle and are worked chronologically. There may be some overlap, and larger time periods are divided among several cards.

What we LOVED: We loved that this was very student driven and heavy on reading books. I love when my children discover things in living books and really cling to the part that sparks their interest. I love that my student knew exactly what was expected. It was outlined on the card. I used these cards with my eighth grade son and he was able to work very independently. I loved that it used summaries and collages to show the work learned rather than the memorize, test, forget method that I grew up on. I love that literature is interspersed with non-fiction books so that the history comes alive for my child. I LOVED the price...$20...That is fabulous and the supporting materials I needed were books from the library and outline maps I found free online. Creek Edge Press also has Scope and Sequence and Supporting Links pages on their blog. All of the supporting links can be found here.

What was a challenge for us: The first challenge was that the cards are LOOSE...they are about 4x5" or so and I could just see that that was not going to work in my family. I punched holes in all of the cards and put them on a binder ring. That way, if they got lost, it would be all of them together...well not really, but a much better way for me to keep them from getting lost. The other challenge I had was the book list. I am not sure how this could have been remedied, but there were places where it was difficult to determine where to divide the books among the cards.

Overall, I think we are really benefitting from the work of another person with these Task Cards and I would recommend taking a look at them if you prefer one of the educational styles or like a book heavy program. Other subjects are available At Creek Edge Press. Thinking of buying...Enter the code MidWinter to get free shipping on orders over $36 until April 14.

See what my fellow crew mates have to say about Creek Edge Press Task Cards here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Sufficiency of Scripture

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Colossians 1:13-23

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sufficiency of Scripture

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.

All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Hebrews 11