Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

A bit of backstory:

In the military, there's always been a bit of friendly rivalry between both the branches of the service as well as between the individual units of each branch.  You'll hear them call the Navy "Squids" and the Marines "Jarheads".  The Air Force is usually referred to as "The Chair Force".   This base is a testing base, so we have more than just Air Force here - we also have a strong Navy and Marine presence, as well as a number of foreign Army members who train here.

There's a hill right outside our base that seems to be the location of a major "turf war" with the branches/units here.  This hill is the largest hill in the local area and anyone driving off base sees it as they drive by.  A couple of years ago, one of the units hauled up a bunch of white rocks to the top of the hill and arranged them in a way that looked like a Navy Anchor.  With that, the turf war was started.

Each week, a unit makes the hike up the hill to rearrange the rocks to represent their unit.  Over the course of the last few years there have been symbols, unit names, ect.  Each time you drive by the hill, you can expect to see either Air Force, Navy or the Marines represented in the rocks.

My husband's unit made the trek earlier this month and for a short week the F-22 boys were represented on the hill, until the F-35 guys made their way up and changed it yet again.

But I doubt the F-35 guys have a pic like this one ;)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bessie's Pillow (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Every now and again, you pick up a book that typically you wouldn't pick up, thinking it's not your "type" and then you realize as you read the last word on the page that it was exactly what you wanted to read and wished there was more.  Such was the case when I was selected to read the book Bessie's Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc.

Bessie's Pillow
A Young Immigrant's Journey
  • Author: Linda Bress Silbert
  • Publisher: Strong Learning, Inc.
  • ISBN: 978-0-89544-201-7
  • Copyright: 2014 
  • Pages: 290
  • Genre: Historical Non-Fiction/Biography
  • Printed in English and Spanish
  • Available as Trade Paperback or Ebook (Kindle Reader)

When I initially asked to review this book, I had my teenage daughter in mind to read it.  With immigration so heavy in the news today and playing such a role in our country's history and the fact that part of my mother's family immigrated here from Ireland, I thought it would be a great way to passively show her how it was for our ancestors and the others who passed by the Statue of Liberty in the early 1900's.

Unfortunately, my teenager being fickle as she is, she read about half of the book and it got tossed to the side for more "exciting" reads that fit her taste.  That meant that in order to do a proper review of the book, Mom would have to read it. I sat down on an early Saturday morning with my cup of coffee and got into the mindframe of reading a book that, admittedly, was outside of my typical reading genre. We all have reading preferences - I tend to read a lot of fiction being that I stare at schoolbooks day in and day out and want an escape. Reading non-fiction tends to be a chore for me.

I started reading Bessie's Pillow at around 10am that morning. By 2pm, I was more than halfway through the book and realized my own concern was would I be able to finish the book before dinner time when I would have to put it aside to prepare our meal.

Bessie's Pillow tells the story of a young 19 year old girl who immigrates from a poor town in Lithuania to New York City in 1906.  It follows her journey from the time she is about to board the steamliner destined for Ellis Island, her travels across the Atlantic Ocean, landing at Ellis Island and her life and the challenges that she faces once she arrives in a foreign country and makes a new life for herself.  She arrives to the United States penniless with only a few small bags of possessions and a handmade pillow that she was asked to deliver to the son of a woman she met before boarding the ship.
Bessie describes the world as she sees it around her, realizing that she has life much easier than many of the other immigrants who live in the surrounding area as she observes sickness and poverty that she has been fortunate to avoid.  That's not to say that Bessie has an easy life as the book tells of the devastating losses Bessie experiences in her own life and how those loses led to her learning to be self sufficient in a society where women were not typically expected to own or run businesses.
#hsreviews #historicalfiction #BessiesPillow

I couldn't put this book down.  My heart broke for Bessie many times but I was inspired by how she handled those heartbreaking situations and rose up from them.  Bessie was obviously a really amazing woman and I'm honored to have been able to be given an intimate glimpse in her life by reading this book.

Written by Bessie's granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert, and taken from audio recordings of Bessie telling her story to the author's mother,  Bessie's Pillow is a story of love.  Love of one's family, love for the community around you, love of one's country, and love of one's self.   There's also romance (and even a love triangle to be honest.. lol)

In addition to the book, readers are invited to explore more on the website Bessiespillow.com . Here readers can listen to the author speak about the book, see photographs of the woman behind the story , read stories of other immigrants and learn about life in the early 1900's, such as about movies, housework, and news at that time.  Also available under the "Teachers" tab on the website is a 16 page PDF Teacher's Guide that offers suggestions as to how to use Bessie's Pillow in the classroom setting, with language arts and social studies ideas to adapt to the classroom.

 The Author Speaking about Bessie's Journey

This book is written for high school students and adults and I think it's perfectly appropriate for students of that age in order to give them a first person account of that period of time that a textbook just can't deliver.  Various social topics of that time are discussed, such as the differences between classes upon the steamliner, the treatment of women by men at that time, suffrage and woman's rights movements, mistreatment and the disadvantages of the lower/poor classes, ect.  While these topics are explained with a gentle hand in the story, they would make for great topics of discussion for older students.  I could also see this being a great read-together book with older elementary students and middle schoolers, so long as the parent is there to answer questions and help explain topics that might be a bit "old" for them to understand.  Right now, Ashleigh and Garrett are both a bit too young to really understand and appreciate the story but this book will remain on my bookshelf until they are old enough.  I do hope that my oldest decides to pick it back up and finish the story as well.

Bessie's Pillow is available in both English and Spanish and can be purchased as either a physical copy or as a digital book on the Kindle reader.

For more information about the book Bessie's Pillow and about Bessie herself, visit the book's website at bessiespillow.com or at their social media site one Facebook and Twitter. For more information about Strong Learning, Inc (the author's tutoring and learning services company and publisher of the book), visit their website at http://www.stronglearning.com.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Monday, March 20, 2017

Creating A Masterpiece (A Homeschool Crew Review)

We love art in our family.  My husband took art throughout high school, I took classes in middle school and both of my daughters seem to have the artistic bug as well.  Somehow, the gene skipped over Garrett, who doesn't even like to color, but everyone else seems to have an artistic talent to some extent. When we were given the opportunity to review the monthly plan for Creating a Masterpiece, I already knew it would be a huge hit in our household.

Created and taught my Sharon Hofer, Creating a Masterpiece is a series of online streaming art lessons that teach students of all ages and expertise how to successfully create works of art using various art mediums. A master artist in her own right, Mrs Hofer has years of experience teaching students one on one in her own home studio.  She has now begun to offer those same lessons through video instruction for those who cannot attend her classes, allowing those outside of her local area to have the same quality of lesson as those who attend her physical class.

For the purpose of this review, members of the Homeschool Review crew were given 6 months access to more than 50 lessons.  The lessons offered start at the Beginner level and progress through Levels 1-5, depending on how experienced the student is.  Art medium instruction offered include: Acrylic, Batik, Block Painting, Carving, Conte' Crayon, Copper Tooling, Glass Mosaic, Gouache, Ink, Mixed Media, Oil Paint, Oil Pastels, Pencil/Charcoal, Sculptures, Silk Painting, Soft Pastels, and Watercolor. Each lesson clearly states which medium will be used as well as a list of required and suggested materials needed to complete the project.  On average, lessons take between 30-40 minutes to complete, although in some projects, that time is extended over the course of a few days as mediums such as paints need time to dry between steps.

Interface makes it easy to see the projects and determine what medium it uses
For our projects, we opted to start with some of the Beginner and Level 1 projects.  We already had oil pastels, soft pastels and watercolors available to us, so with that in mind, we sat down together as a family (minus Garrett) and decided which projects we would all like to work on together.  Over the last few weeks, we've worked on three different projects: Lessons in Watercolor (Floral Medley), Lesson in Oil Pastels (Winter Cabin) and Lessons in Soft Pastels (Peaceful Lake).

Each video lesson is broken down into sections as Mrs Hofer breaks down step by step how to copy her techniques and create your own masterpiece.  Through the lesson, she gives various tips and advice on how to make the most of each medium and how to avoid (or correct) mistakes that might be made during the process.  Her lessons are clear and concise as she demonstrates how to turn a blank canvas or piece of paper into something any student could be proud of.  Pausing or rewinding the lesson is very easy, so that you can stop the video and take the time needed to work on your own project before moving on.   We found it super easy to just keep the laptop within arms reach on our kitchen table where each of us could see it easily and hit pause/play as needed.

For our first lesson, the Winter Cabin from the Beginner section, it was just myself and the girls working though the project.  Pastels were a new medium for Ashleigh to play around with and this project was a perfect introduction on using them and we were all very happy with the outcome of our projects.  We did realize we were using the wrong paper for pastels (we were using watercolor paper instead of pastel paper) but even still, everyone's picture came out nice.

Winter Cabin  - Alyssa on top, Mom and Ashleigh's on the bottom.

For our second project, we opted for one of the watercolor lessons as we were waiting on an order for the proper paper for pastels.  For this lesson, Dad decided to join us and the four of us decided to try to Floral Medley together.

We did worry when Mrs Hofer started using pancake watercolors and we had tube style watercolor paints.  But this turned out not to be that big of an issue and is one of the beautiful things about her lessons - Your artwork does not have to look exactly like hers and you can experiment with other media.  Our tube paint worked perfectly fine and as we followed her lessons step by step, we once again came up with some really nice finished projects.

The water color projects do take few days to finish as each step needs time in which to dry, so this project took us a bit of time to complete.

This project also showed us that each of us interpret her instructions differently.  None of our projects looked anything alike but each turned out nice. I was really impressed with Ashleigh's finished project as her flowers reminded me of Hibiscus flowers.  It also showed that regardless of age, anyone can achieve something they would be happy to display.

Floral Medley in Watercolor:     Top - Alyssa and Dad    Bottom - Mom and Ashleigh
For our final project of this review period, everyone agreed they wanted to try the Peaceful Lake which was a lesson in Soft Pastels.  By this time, we had finally gotten the proper paper that we had ordered (they were out of stock when we ordered after the Winter Cabin lesson and we had to wait for it to arrive).  Again, the four of us sat at the table - this time opting to remove our table cloth since we had been warned ahead of time of the dust created by this medium.

Working on the Peaceful Lake project with soft pastels

Soft Pastels indeed turned out to be an extremely messy process and the girls had a lot of fun.  Granted, when all was said and done, both were covered head to toe in colorful streaks (as they decided to rub their smudging fingers on each other's face) but everyone had a great time working together.

My oldest with her project  along with her "War Paint"

Once again, I was very impressed with how everyone's finished project turned out.  Everyone's looked equally wonderful and without our signitures on our artwork, it would be hard to distinguish which one was done by an 8 year old and which one was done by a 41 year old. 

Peaceful Lake in Soft Pastel :  Top - Mom and Ashleigh   Bottom - Alyssa and Dad
Although, I take that back, it would be pretty easy for someone to figure out which one was my husband's.   

The Peaceful Lake has been invaded by War of the World's Alien Tripods
As a whole, we really enjoyed the Creating a Masterpiece website and the lessons offered and we look forward to continuing to spend family time making some really nice artwork together.  I can easily see how the techniques and tips that we are learning from each lesson can carry over to when we decide to venture beyond the step-by-step lessons and planned projects.

#hsreviews #artinstruction #homeschoolart #onlineartprogram

For more information about Creating a Masterpiece (including a free lesson using soft pastels), visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/createamasterpiece

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Don't you hate it when you have a post typed out and totally forget to publish?  It's been a long week.. haha

Wanted to share a photo of Ashleigh's car racing at the Grand Prix the other weekend..  :)  That Kit Kat bar beat her each time she raced it.. but at least a good time was had by all :)

Circle C Stepping Stones (A Homeschool Crew Review)

For the past few months, I've been pushing Ashleigh to read more "chapter" style books rather than just picture books.  Finding books that sparks her interest, however, is a big difficult, as there are not a whole lot of books that focus on things like rats geared for girls.  When we were given the opportunity to read and review two new books from author Susan K. Marlow's Circle C Stepping Stones series published by Kregel Publications, I jumped at the chance to add a few more books to our reading library that might peak Ashleigh's interest.

For the purpose of this review, we were given the two books "Andi Saddles Up" and "Andi Under the Big Top", books 1 and 2 from six book set Circle C Stepping Stones series.

About the Circle C series

Written by Susan K Marlow, the Circle C series of books offers 4 graduated levels of books starting with the Beginning series for young readers around 6-9 years of age, progressing though the Stepping Stones series (7-10 years), continuing with the Adventures series (9-13) and ending with the Milestones series (13+). Each series follows the story of a girl named Andrea (Andi) as she tackles age appropriate challenges and struggles while teaching the reader valuable lessons at a level appropriate for their understanding.  Books in the first two series also includes beautiful illustrations by Leslie Gammelgaard that help to bring the story to life.

Andi Saddles Up
Circle C Stepping Stones #1
Juvenile Fiction/Historical
ISBN : 978-0-8254-4430-2

Andi is celebrating her 9th birthday, her palomino Taffy has just turned three and now both are old enough to start their journey together as horse and rider.  But all the excitement is dampered when a land dispute comes barging in the front door.  In this book, Andi learned important lessons about friendship, obedience and compromise.

Andi Under the Big Top
Circle C Stepping Stones #2
Juvenile Fiction/Historical
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4431-9

Andi is excited about getting to attend the Circus that has come to town and seeing the famous bare back rider perform. But when she meets a young runaway boy who works with the Big Top, Andi quickly learned that what she thought would be an exciting life is not all it appears to be. In this book, Andi learns about secrets, gratitude, trusting God and helping others.

What We Thought

I enjoy proving Ashleigh with various books for her "free reading" time each day and these books fit the bill perfectly for her.  What little girl doesn't dream about owning a horse of her own and being able to ride, fish and make new friends to explore with?   So Andi and Taffy provided a perfect escape for her when it came time to curl up on the couch with a book.

Each of these books were just over 100 pages and we found them to be at a perfect chapter size for Ashleigh to handle at her age.

One thing I did like is that the book included a few extras such as a glossary of new words with definitions that Ashleigh might be unfamiliar with, as well as extra information at the end such as a brief summary of the Sheep and Cattle Wars, which helped explain the conflict in the story a bit more. Also, a page directs readers to the author's website where they can download activities and coloring pages that tie in with the books.

While I do admit we did not use the activity pages (as I
One of the Activity Pages Available
wanted Ashleigh to read during her free time and didn't want to make it more "school time" for her), I did look over these pages to see if they would be something I could use later and was very pleased with what I saw.  The activities include comprehension questions, math word problems, vocabulary practice, and other activities that could easily be used to turn these reads into a comprehensive short unit study.   The coloring pages are larger reproductions of the illustrations included in the book.  Ashleigh really enjoyed getting out her map colors and coloring these.

Probably the thing I enjoyed most about these books is that it gave me a good platform to talk to Ashleigh about some of the troubles Andi experiences and to discuss character values explored in the story.  For example, in one of the books, Andi does something rebellious after being told not to by her older brother and knowing that her mother would not approve either. As a result of these actions, she gets hurt.  It gave us a great opportunity to talk about why parents often tell a child not to do something, not because they are mean and don't want the child to have fun, but because we understand that they are not ready to do that activity and could get hurt trying to do it without learning how to do it first.  It also allowed us to talk about what our conscience is and how it's God warning us about the situation. These types of learning situations are found within both books that we read in this series and the results of these actions provided for a great discussion of cause and effect based on the Andi's actions.  While the character might live in 1877 and the situations themselves do not apply to the lives of children today, they are presented in such a way to easily lend to a discussion as to how similar choices or actions might be presented in today's everyday life.  Discussions about family values and character traits can easily be taken from the text and discussed in such a way to make children recognize those same values and traits in their own family life and in the decisions they make each day.

Overall, I found these books to be age appropriate for Ashleigh, with a good story behind each book, and with wholesome values and lessons that are important for her to learn without any questionable content that is often found even in children's books today.

#hsreviews #oldwest #horsegirls #fictionforgirls

For more information about Susan K Marlow's Circle C series of books, be sure to visit her website or one of the following social media links below:

Twitter (Kregel Books): https://twitter.com/KregelBooks  

Twitter (Susan K Marlow): https://twitter.com/SuzyScribbles

Facebook (Kregel Books): https://www.facebook.com/KregelBooks/

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}

Monday, March 13, 2017

Walking with the Waodani (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

There have been many times in my homeschooling research that I have come across the names Jim Elliot and Nate Saint but I was unfamiliar with both of their stories until recently.  I could tell you that they were missionaries but nothing more than that.  However, the kids and I have recently worked though Walking with the Waodani, the latest study from Home School Adventure Co. and we have all had such a wonderful time learning about their story.  For the purpose of this review, we were given a "preview" of the first two lessons of the unit study in downloadable PDF format.

For those unfamiliar with their story, pilot Nate Saint along with Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Flemming and Roger Youderian all lost their lives while trying to reach the Waodani people living in Ecuador.  The Waodani people were known to be a savage group of indigenous people and stories of their brutality were known throughout the other people of Ecuador. The five missionaries had hoped to make contact with the Waodani because of these stories, in the hope to help eliminate the violent attacks to both other people living in the area as well as those outsiders who entered the Waodani territory.  While the five men did make what appeared to be initially friendly contact with members of the tribe, they were shortly attacked and killed a few days later.  However, through some really amazing chains of events, their deaths became a powerful statement of forgiveness and today the Waodani people have laid down their weapons and have instead embraced the teachings of Christ.

The Walking with the Waodani study from Home School Adventures is not so much about the Nate Saint story but more a study of Ecuador and the lives of the Waodani, past and present.  It came to being after the author's son had become friends with a young man who had just recently returned from Ecuador and had spent time with one of the surviving Waodani members of the raid that had taken the lives of the five missionaries.  As the young man shared his story of visiting Ecuador and the Waodani people, the author felt compelled to write this study for other homeschool families. Through vivid photographs and the exploration of the people, flora and fauna of the Ecuador jungles, students learn about the fated mission and how those events changed the lives of the Waodani from that day to where they are today.

Sample page from  Walking with the Waodani 
Not being familiar with the Nate Saint story, the kids and I jumped in and within the first lesson, we were hooked.  We discussed the five missionaries who lost their lives trying to spread God's word to the Aucu (now called the Waodani) people.  We also talked about some of foods that the Waodani eat, how they hunt and some of the animals that can be found in the jungles of Ecuador. This led to some really fun moments, as the kids went on a "hunt" with blowgun (straws) and poisoned darts (spit balls) to take down a vicious jaguar (their 17 year old sister).  We also talked about whether or not we would eat Palm Weavil Grubs (we all said we might eat them if they were cooked - as the study says they taste like pork rinds.. yum).  I think I might purchase the biography about Nate Saint (one of the original missionaries) from YWAM publishing for after this study so we can continue to learn more about his life and mission. Through the lessons, we also learned about some of the tribes original beliefs, such as they believe when you die you must successfully jump over a huge snake in order to pass to the afterlife - failing to do so would result in being re-incarnated into a lesser creature such as a termite.  We also learned about Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint and the man behind I-TEC (Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center) and how through his own mission, the Waodani people have been able learn skills valuable to them to interact with today's society.  Each lesson ends with a series of worksheets that offers activities for both younger and older students, from drawing pictures of animals to writing about a given topic.
Ashleigh's drawing of a Vampire Bat from the Jungles of Ecuador
This study unit covers many different things but it only briefly touches on those subjects. However, the author gives a very indepth reference page following each lesson that suggests websites and other outside reference to learn more.  We found ourselves wanting many times looking at these resources because the lessons were very interesting and would whet our appetite for more.  From watching the movie End of the Spear and a documentary by Elizabeth Elliot, to reading various Wikipedia sites and viewing I-TEC's website, we learned so much more by taking advantages of the suggested resources.

While still a work on progress, my family and I look forward to seeing the completed unit study when it becomes available soon.

Walking with the Waodani: Adventures in Ecuador Unit Study #hsreviews #waodani #natesaint #homeschooling

For more information about Home School Adventure Co. and the Walking with the Waodani unit study, visit their website or one of their social media links below:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/HomeSchoolAdven  @HomeSchoolAdven

Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}

Friday, March 10, 2017

Abandon (Five Minute Friday)

It's Friday. That means it's time for another Five Minute Friday.  If you're unfamiliar with FMF, each week a word is given and you spend 5 minutes (no more than that) interpreting the word as it means to you.  It's hosted by Kate at the blog Heading Home. Each week, Kate invites other bloggers to reflect and write for five minutes on a word for that week. 

If your interested in joining up, by all means, click on the graphic below and join in the fun.

This week's word is Abandon.  What a strong word, huh??

I'm starting my timer now, so here we go.

What does Abandon mean to one? Well, it can mean different things to different people. Maybe to one person it means to toss all the cares of the world away and enjoy ones self.  Or maybe it means to be left alone?

For me, it means being left alone in a scary world, having your family turning their back on you because to them, you represent betrayal and pain caused my another family member.  It means that you weren't the cause of that pain, but only a visual reminder that they didn't want around them anymore.  It means tossing an innocent child out on the streets, not caring if they sink or swim, if maybe their name will be in the headlines of the local paper a week from now because they were found dead because that would mean one would never have to deal with that person again.

I was abandoned like this many, MANY years ago.  I was fortunate that a family took me in, fed me, kept a shelter over my head when my own family wouldn't.  But, nearly 22 years later, I still feel the damage that being abandoned the way I did had on me.  I'm insecure, always afraid that my friends will turn on me, that one day I will find myself alone and betrayed by those who I depend on.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Eclectic Foundations Language Arts (A Homeschool Crew Review)

When homeschooling multiple kids who are considered the same grade, it's not unusual to see one excel in a subject while the other lags behind.  Such is the case with my two - Ashleigh reads and writes at a much more advanced level then her brother who struggles with language arts and needed a remedial program to help him work through some of the issues he's having.  For the last few weeks, I've been using Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B from Eclectic Foundations with Garrett to help improve his reading.

What is Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B?

Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B is a multi-approach reading and grammar curriculum geared for 1st and 2nd grade students but can easily be used with struggling 3rd and 4th graders.  It combines lessons in phonics, parts of speech, poetry, and handwriting in each lesson while also concentrating on skills such as decoding text, reading comprehension, and deduction reasoning.

Level B is divided into 144 individual lessons to be used four times a week, for a full 36 week program. Each week's lesson includes reading twice from the McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader (Revised Edition), a phonics lesson that focuses on fluency on a particular word "family", as well as listening to and identifying rhyming patterns in poetry and answering comprehension questions about the poetry selection.  Each week also includes lessons in grammar and sentence structure as well as a handwriting component that teaches cursive writing through copywork.  Two final components to the curriculum include word cards to help teach students define parts of speech as well as laminated Student Practice Sheets for students to practice spelling with a dry eraser marker.

For this review, we were given the student workbook, the teacher's guide, a package of word cards, and the Student Practice Sheets. Eclectic Foundations was also generous and sent a spiral bound copy of the McGuffy's First Eclectic Reader for our use but this resource is downloadable free on the internet or can be purchased and is not included with the purchase of the curriculum.

There are currently three levels available for students.  Again, we used Level B, however, there's Level A and Level C currently available for purchase, with Level D soon to be released next month. The grade level for each Level is as followed: Eclectic Foundations Level A: 1st grade, Eclectic Foundations Level B: 1st–2nd grades, Eclectic Foundations Level C: 3rd–4th grades, and the new Eclectic Foundations Level D is for 5th–6th grades.  Each of these Levels is available for purchase as either a PDF download or as a physical product. 

How We Used It and What We Thought:

As was recommended, we began using this curriculum four times a week.  While Garrett was my main focus for using this curriculum, I did opt to include Ashleigh in many of the lessons because there is so much more to this program than just learning to read.  Yes, the reading component itself is way below her level (even towards the end of the book), there were definite benefits to including her in these lessons.  For example, the grammar lessons, while short and easy, teaches above grade level and helped to reinforce the work we were doing in our other grammar program.

Lessons are short and typically take about 30 minutes to cover.  Each day, the kids and I would sit before our white board and work our way through each component.

  The teachers guide makes it very easy to teach this curriculum:  Each lesson is numbered and the guide points out each component and how to teach it.

Each component to the curriculum is clearly marked, from what to read out of the McGuffey's reader, which stanzas of the week's poetry selection to read that day and which word cards to utilize for the lesson.

Also included in the teachers guides are questions to ask in regards to both the reading from McGuffey's as well as about the poetry selection.  I found this extremely helpful as many of these questions, I personally would not think to ask. These questions might as something directly about the reading, such as who did what, or they might be deduction and reasoning questions (Why do you think this happened?)

We made sure to utilize the curriculum fully, using the word cards as well as the practice sheets, to really reinforce the lessons with Garrett.  And I will say, I have seen a marked improvement in Garrett's reading skills since we began using the curriculum. Prior to starting this program, Garrett lacked confidence in reading even CVC words such as cat, rat and ham and often tried to guess a current word based on the previous word (example: if he just read cat and the next word was ham, he would say hat or cam). He would also whine and cry at the thought of having to read anything more than a few words long.   Through the lessons, he's gained a confidence in his reading and as he progresses through the lessons, I notice that his "guessing" has decreased and he actually focuses on the word.

Another component to this curriculum that we have all seemed to enjoy is the handwriting/copywork aspect.  Writing is another aspect that Garrett has improved greatly from when we started at lesson 1 to where we are now.  Much like reading, any hint of having to write tends to get him agitated and stressed out.

This curriculum focuses on cursive writing, starting with learning and practicing each individual letter
of the alphabet.  Once the letters are learned, simple copywork is added for the students to practice writing in cursive.   And I have to admit, when he first say the workbook page that included five lines for writing, he cried - A LOT.  But that was only for lesson 1.  Since we have been working on this curriculum for over a month, we are still working through the alphabet (there are 26 letters after all) but gone are the tears.

We have tried other handwriting curriculum with Garrett in the past and he hated it.  And in honesty, with five lines of practice, this actually includes more writing than the other curriculum that we have tried. Maybe the others were just too technical for him, I can't really be sure, but what I can tell you is that my reluctant writer has begun begging for us to do this program each day if for nothing more than to practice his handwriting. Not only that, but I find him throughout the day at the white board, picking up a dry eraser marker and practicing writing words he knows in cursive. (I actually caught him writing Mississippi the other day - lol).  I also have found that his writing in cursive is much more legible then his manuscript printing.   Ashleigh, who has already learned to write in cursive, used this time to practice and I have seen great improvements in her writing as well.   We've half joked saying that the kids cursive looks better than their older sister's - I say half joked because it's pretty true.

Garrett still has a long way to go before he's at the same level at reading with his sister - he may never be at that same level (he's a genius when it comes to math, however) but this program is showing real promise in helping him get there. I personally love that there are so many components to this very simple but effective curriculum, meaning that if I didn't want to do any other grammar, poetry or phonics program, I wouldn't have to as they are all included.  And while I was given this product for reviewing purposes, at a combined price tag of $30 dollars for a print yourself PDF or $56 for a physical product ($12/teaching guide, $24/Student Workbook, $20/Word Cards), you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.

This is a product I would highly recommend.

#hsreviews #languagearts #mcguffeyreaders #eclecticeducation

For more information about Eclectic Foundations, be sure to visit their website or their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/eclecticstudent

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}

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