Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lighting Literature and Composition- Grade 3 (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Having a son with special needs, it's often a bit difficult to find a Language Arts program that works well for him.  We have tried various programs for reading and writing, all with mixed results.  It was extremely frustrating for him, as his sister excelled in English and surpassed him, while he struggled to keep his head above the water.

Which is why when member of the crew were given the chance to review a combination literature and composition curriculum from Hewitt Homeschooling, I wanted to give it a try.  For the last six weeks, Garrett has been working through the Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set.

Hewitt Homeschooling started it's roots in the educational market in 1963. Through the years, the company has evolved and now focuses on providing materials for homeschool parents that emphasize character development, positive work ethics, community service and academic excellence.

About Lightning Literature

Lightning Literature is a combined grammar and writing curriculum. Each week students complete four lessons which compose of a daily reading selection, reading comprehension questions and book discussion questions, grammar and mechanics lessons, and writing composition assignments. Grammar and Mechanics lessons include lesson on grammar, punctuation, parts of speech, sentence diagramming, and literary concepts such as fiction versus nonfiction and the difference between informative and descriptive writing.  The curriculum is written and arranged by Elizabeth Kamath and is available for elementary grades 1st -3rd (a 4th grade level will be releases soon), middle school levels 7th and 8th, and senior high school options that cover American Literature, British Literature, World Literature and Shakespearean works.

For this review, we were given a two book set consisting of a 340 page full color student workbook and a 337 page Teacher's Guide.

In addition to Student Workbook and the Teacher's Guild,fictional chapter book selections can either be purchased or borrowed from a local library. These are books that the curriculum author has found literary merit in, such as Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Tale of Despereaux, as well as a four weeks dedicated to poetry.   Multi-cultural books such as Rickshaw Girl and The Big Wave are also included to help broaden the student's understanding of life for people in other parts of the world.  Nine books in total are needed throughout the 36 week curriculum, but most parents will find that a number of these books are already in their homeschool library.

What We Thought

Garrett wasn't too keen about a new Literature/Grammar curriculum when we this first arrived. He
hates English - it is the bane of his existence.  So, when I told him that it was time to do English, we indeed had a bit of a meltdown. Especially when I brought out our copy of Sarah, Plain and Tall, the first literature selection to be used for week 1 and 2. After some reassurance that I would actually read the story to him aloud, he settled down enough to sit on the couch and listened while I read the story (which he enjoyed).  And then it was time to start the first assignment in his workbook.

After discussing what we've read in the book, we moved on to the reading comprehension questions that are given in the Teacher's Guide.  from there, it was time to move on to the first day's lesson in the workbook.  Garrett once again balked until we actually opened the book and he saw that this wasn't going to be a long, drawn out lesson.  Each lesson is 1-2 pages in length and takes about 10-15 minutes on average to complete.  Day 1 took Garrett about 5 minutes to complete.  Even Garrett can handle 5 minutes.  Since that first lesson, I can say he hasn't given me any troubles with doing his English work.

Finally, to end our lesson, we began the writing composition section of the lesson. I really like the way the writing assignments are broken down into easy to handle chunks. For example, for the first week of lessons, Garrett began working on writing a paper to describe a place near him, an assignment that would be completed over the course of two weeks.  For the first day, Garrett simply had to brainstorm placed that he would be interested in writing about and then pick a final destination, which he selected our front yard.  For Day 2, he simply wrote down a list of nouns (which was part of the focus of the week's grammar lesson) to describe the front yard, such as trees, grass, roses, the garden hose, driveway, van, Challenger, and our Subaru. For Day 3, he took the list of nouns he already had written and began writing down adjectives to describe those nouns. For the last lesson that week, he then narrowed down this list to those things he wanted to include in his final writing.  Each of these activities took him a total of 15-20 minutes and while he did require a bit of coaching on my part to help him think of adjectives to describe each work, it was work he could handle.

The second week of this writing assignment continued to break down the writing assignment in
manageable chunks.  The first day, he had to find a way to interject himself into what he planned to write, such as he likes to climb on our van and slide down the windshield or that he likes climbing the small tree in our yard. On day two, he was instructed to begin to create an order outline for his paper. Day Three, he began a rough draft for his paper and on Day Four, he had written the final draft for his first paper. This was a HUGE deal for us as Garrett hates writing and fights me tooth and nail to write even the simplest of sentences.   Since then, he has also written a paper describing how to make an origami paper frog and is has just started writing a personal essay about what he would like to be when he grows up.

Garrett working on brainstorming 

I really appreciate the fact that the teacher's guide lays out each day's lesson in a very easy to follow format.  The beginning of each week starts with a "Week at a Glance" page that tells what chapters will be read from the literary selection, optional materials that can be added along with the lesson, the Grammar topics that will be covered in the lesson, and what type of writing composition will be covered.  From there, each day's lesson is laid out, starting with key notes that the teacher might want to know for the lesson.  Answers to each activity in the workbook are given so that I can follow along and make sure that I'm instructing him correctly on his lesson.

Here's a video of Garrett doing some of his lessons. For this particular lesson, he was asked to do sentence diagramming, first marking the subject from the predicate of the sentence and then underlining verbs and nouns and identifying the adjectives and adverbs.  Garrett has gotten pretty good at doing sentence diagramming, something that honestly, I never enjoyed doing in school.  Now that I'm teaching these skills to him, I'm seeing more and more how it really is a pretty important skill for him.

Overall, I have to say I'm very pleased with this particular curriculum.  Just the fact that Garrett has been enjoying it is great but the fact that it has helped to get Garrett actually writing papers is an amazing feat.

" Just the fact that Garrett has been enjoying it is great but the fact that it has helped to get Garrett actually writing papers is an amazing feat." #hsreviews  #homeschool

For more information about Hewitt Homeschooling and the Lightning Literature & Composition curriculum, be sure to visit their website.  They can also be found on any of the following social media platforms.

In addition to Grade 3 Lightning Literature, members of the crew were given the opportunity to review many of the other grade level options that are available on the Hewitt Homeschooling website, including those offerings for Senior High school.  Be sure to click the banner below to find these reviews and see which level might work for your students.

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Kids Are Not Google

As a homeschooling parent, there is one particular thing I really don't like and that is when someone hears that we homeschool and start drilling my kids with questions like they are on an episode of  Jeopardy.  They almost always ask questions that when put on a the spot that even as an adult, I need to take a moment to think about, yet they expect children to drill off the answer off the top of their heads in milliseconds.

There's two major issues I have with this.  First, my son is on the spectrum. He doesn't talk much to begin with.  Garrett is not the conversationalist that my daughter is and therefore, if he does not know you and feel comfortable with you, he's not going to converse with you.  You, an adult stranger, intimidate him and take him out of his comfort level while he's simply out enjoying family time without having to worry about his studies.  This is his time to take in new sights, new sounds, and to just relax and be Garrett.  So when you ask him to rattle off answer to math problems or ask even simple questions like to name the continents, he's going to shut down, shut you out and respond with a simple "I don't know" as he returns to observing what he was observing before you rudely interrupted him.

My daughter isn't that much better.  Granted, she's happy to have a full conversation with you, so long as it's on her terms and what she wants to talk to you about.  She can tell you what the condition Diprosopus is (which Mom had to look up one day after she told me about it - and I have a medical degree!!).  But if she doesn't feel like answering your questions, she won't, and she shouldn't have to anyway without facing your judgement.

The second is that my kids are not Google.  They are kids. They are not simply robots where you ask them something and they spit out the answer for you.  Why people expect homeschool kids to perform just to prove a point in academics is beyond me.  When I am out in public and I see your child, and maybe your child is wearing a XYZ Elementary School shirt, I don't feel the need to approach your child and ask them random questions for the sole purpose of making your child look like an idiot or to appease my need to prove that my kid is superior to yours. I seriously doubt those who ask Homeschool kids these questions would approach that public school child either.   So why is it that same complete strangers feel it's acceptable to do so to my kids if they hear that they are homeschooled?

All parents homeschool differently, just as all Public schools follow a different schedule. As a military family, I can tell you the horror of my child doing extremely well in one school, only to switch to another school and be far behind because one school follows a different schedule than the other.  Some schools introduce algebra in 6th grade while others do not introduce it until 9th grade.  Some schools teach American history in middle school while others not til high school.  Because of this, if you were to put 10 students from 10 different school systems into one room and ask questions that would be typical for a 8th grade student at one district, many of the other students won't know the answer.  Does this mean that the student from that district is smarter?  No, it just means that material hasn't been covered yet for the other students.

The same holds true for homeschool students.  Each family who homeschools could be considered their own school district.  Each follows their own curriculum and their own pace.  Some teach American History first, thinking it's more important for a child to have a good foundation of their own countries history before moving on to other parts of the world. Others, however, teach ancient history first and work their way through to present time. Neither way is wrong and the end result is both students learn the same material, only at different times.  It doesn't diminish the knowledge of the student or the ability of the teacher any more than if one public school district teaches State history in 3rd grade and another  district in the same state teaches it in 5th.

Whether public school or homeschool, teachers all have the same goal - to give the students an educational foundation by the time they reach 12th grade that will give them the advantage to become a productive member of society as they start their adult lives. Nobody wants their kids to go out into the world without the ability to read, write and do basic mathematics.  So long as that goal is achieved by the time they complete 12 years of school, it doesn't matter the journey it takes to get there, it just matters the final destination.

Yet, when a public school parent (or even a superior homeschool parent - you're not off the hook here) decides to take it upon themselves to "prove" how much more their student knows at the expense of my child, then I take offense.  We teach our children not to be bullies yet many do not realize that this behavior is exactly that, bullying.  They do not realize the harm they do to a child's psyche as they start to wonder if they are stupid because they couldn't answer the questions asked in a split second, while trying to comprehend why a stranger, whom many children have been taught to not speak to in the first place, is trying to engage them in a conversation that bypasses the civil norms of conversation and goes straight into an interrogation phase.

  As adults, if someone skipped over the rules of etiquette and went straight into asking questions in order to belittle us, many of us would step away, take offense and some would respond in an aggressive manner.  Children do not have these options as they look towards their parents for hints on how to respond.   There are plenty of videos on youtube that show this type of behavior, where someone is being questioned and they look at the people they are with in order to take cues to how to answer or respond.  We all know that something with the situation is wrong but we are unsure.  Children are no different and your "fun" is unsettling for them, especially special needs children like my son.

So please, stop this behavior.  If a child isn't in school during normal class hours, it's fair to assume that they are homeschooled.  You do not need to ask if that child is homeschooled and then bombard them with question after question as to what they know.  If you feel the need to speak to them one you do realize they are homeschooled, simply say something like "That must be so much fun. I bet you have some pretty neat fieldtrips, huh?" or ask "What is your favorite part of homeschooling?".  But please, leave the multiplication drills and history pop quizzes to the child's classroom time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Homeschool Planet (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Two years ago, I reviewed a wonderful product that really changed the planning of my homeschool. Prior to that review, I was a self proclaimed mess - I didn't have the first clue on how I wanted to plan my school year. I had tried using physical planners but always got frustrated when a day didn't go as planned and I was scratching out my neatly written entry for the day, trying to rearrange everything to get back on track.  That was before I was introduced to Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Planet.

Homeschool Planet is an online, browser based homeschool planner that offers a large array of tools to help make planning and tracking your homeschool year easier. During the course of this review, I've used the website on my PC using the Firefox, Chrome and Opera browsers as well as on my Kindle and Android phone, all without any problems.

As a member of the crew, I've had the opportunity to use and review various different planners that are marketed towards homeschooling, both physical planners and those online.  What I typically find that while each ones have their pluses and minuses, none of them combine the functions and the easy user interface that one can find with Homeschool Planet.

I am just as impressed with this planner now as I was 2 years ago when I reviewed it previously. Without a doubt, it has to be the most user friendly of all the planners I have used. The interface is clearly designed and straight forward, meaning that the user is not having to click through unnecessary pages or drop menus in order to complete simple tasks like adding or deleting assignments or planning holidays. And while many of the functions are self explanatory, there are many instructional videos to help new users (and even old users who are unsure how to accomplish something) navigate and use the various functions to their full abilities.

Most notable is the ability to add classes and assignments. Planning a class is a matter of just clicking on the time frame you would like and then entering the class information and the students who will be doing the coursework.  One the same screen you are given the options of selecting when the class will end and what days of the weeks that class will be held.  Once the class is added, individual assignments can then be easily added by simply typing them into the day.  Drop down menus on the sidebar allow for more options like adding addition assignment to the day. However, keyboard shortcuts such as Tab also quickly allows for you to add the next days assignment, while Control+Enter allows you to add a second assignment to the same day.  Using these shortcuts, adding several weeks of assignments at one time is very quick and easy, making a difficult task take only few minutes.

If during your school year, you've made plans to visit family and want to take that particular block of time off from lessons, Homeschool Planet makes planning time off quick and easy as well. By just clicking on the settings menu at the top of the screen and selecting "School Year and Vacations" you can input the day you plan to start school, the day you plan to finish and what days you would like to plan off during that calendar time.  To schedule those days off, you simply uncheck those days, switching from a green check mark that indicated scheduled class time to a red X mark for days off.  As you can see in the photo below, we will be taking a few days off from lessons in August because we will be heading to the Solar Eclipse.  Since we won't be having class on those days, I simply mark them and Homeschool Planet will then ask if you want any lessons current scheduled for that day to be shifted to accommodate the days off.   Homeschool Planet also uses this screen to allow you to keep track of how many actual class days will be attended during the period of times you select so that if you have State attendance requirements, you can easily see if your schedule fits those requirements.

Another feature that has been added since the last time I reviewed this product is the addition of lesson plans found at the Lesson Plan Marketplace.  For a variety of curriculum (with more on the way), you can have Homeschool Planet do the hard work for you.  These lesson plans are a "plug and go" option - you select the curriculum you are using and for a nominal fee, each lesson is already planned out and ready to go, including supplemental activities suggested for the curriculum.  We are currently using Mystery of History Book 2 which includes three lessons a week as well as a pretest, a post test and three activities each week.  Even using keyboard shortcuts, this would take a good amount of time to type out when planning, not to count flipping constantly through my book in order to keep track of each lesson.  With the purchase of the Lesson Plan for MOH2, planning the entire year was simple - selecting the plan I wanted to use, assigning which kids I wanted to use the curriculum and which days I planned on teaching MOH each week.  Homeschool Planet then fills in all the assignments for the days I specified.  The entire curriculum planning was done just like that, saving me a significant amount of time. I was given a free lesson plan to review, but I enjoyed the convenience of it so much, I personally paid for a few others.  However, for the month of June, if you sign up for Homeschool Planet, they will allow you to select any one of their lesson plans for free with your subscription. 

 Maybe you're like me and you don't want a planner just for homeschooling when you also need one for your day to day activities.  It's difficult at times to keep track of each family member's appointments and activities and I don't like having to go to a second planner each day.   This has always been one of my biggest complaints when it came to other planners.  With Homeschool Planet, everything integrates perfectly together, including importing my Google Calendar into the planner, as well as that of my husband and my oldest daughter. In the screenshot below, you'll see that on Friday and Saturday, my Google Calendar has a reminder of the Homeschool Convention that I attended. Each family member can be assigned a designated color (in the case of my personal calendar, red) which allows you to quickly identify at a glance who the appointment belongs to, making it extremely easy to know what's coming up and for who.

 Some other functions I really like include being able to make a shopping list.  If, during lunch, I realize I am out of an item that I might need later for dinner, I can quickly add that item to a shopping list using the Shopping List Widget available.  This widget stays on the side of the planner so it's easily accessible, so whether I'm sitting on my computer doing meal planning or if I realize I used the last of the milk during breakfast, I can quickly add it. Even more so, I can email my shopping list to my husband while he's at work so that he can know to swing by the store on the way home from work.  I can also print the list so that I can have it on hand when I do my grocery shopping.  Other available widgets allow to users to customize their dashboard to include things such as weather, inspirational quotes, daily bible verses, keep track of books you want to read and a to do list. These come in handy for things like reminders of which library books are currently checked out and when they are due to be returned, for example.  Theme selection allows for you to change the look of your dashboard to fit your personality.

Resource Page showing my upcoming URLS for lessons as well as my current shopping list
Another function is the Resources screen, which allows you to plan ahead for supplemental books, videos, CDs, Youtube videos, music or other media that you want to use for lessons.  By adding these into the resource list for each lesson, you have a quick reminder as to which resources to pick up ahead of time.  It also makes for an easy "click" during the lesson to quickly go to the website you wanted students to visit, eliminating the frustration of searching bookmarks or navigating to a particular page of a website for the information you want.  This is very helpful in that many times, I completely forget to use my online memberships, with this list, I can go straight to it.  These resources can also be imported directly into the lesson plan. Purchase of individual Lesson Plans from the Lesson Plan Marketplace automatically enters any suggested resources for the curriculum and can easily be located on this screen. Above, you can see that websites have been added to my resources to reflect the Mystery Science curriculum as well as for the Virtual Field Trips Lesson Plan which is currently a free lesson plan available to Co-op members.

Another feature is the grading helper where you can set up your grading scale, assign different weights for tests, assignments, quizzes, ect, and set up a cutoff grade for passing/falling. You can also track class hours which again, is very helpful if your State requires proof of these types of things.  This is not a function we are using at this moment,  but is something I will take advantage soon, as my oldest daughter will be joining our homeschool in order to earn credits for three classes she needs before she attends university.

If you're one who likes to have a print out in hand, a print option is available which allows you to print out your planned schedule. Schedules for the day, the week or even the month are all possible, as well as reports for attendance/hours and any lists that you are making.  It is even possible to print out grade reports and transcripts for each student. Options are given for either economy (greyscale print) or for a color print, depending on the users preference.

So, what happens if you plan everything out and life throws you a curveball and you just didn't get to an assignment or took an unscheduled day off?  There are a few options available. First, Homeschool Planet automatically reschedules the assignment for the next day, shifting all assignments accordingly, allowing you to pick up where you left off without having to shuffle your plans around.  If, however, you decide you want to "double up" on a lesson to get back on track, it's very easy to just drag and drop the assignments already planned in the edit screen and then click to have the planner adjust the assignments.

Drag and Drop Assignments for quick rescheduling
Maybe the class wasn't exactly missed but an assignment wasn't completed, like we had happen today.  While we were finishing up with our reading curriculum, we had to unexpectedly stop school abruptly, meaning Ashleigh started her assignment but did not finish it. In that case, I can quickly mark the assignment as incomplete on either the planner or calendar page. This is done by simply clicking the box next to the assignment.  The first click will turn the box green, showing the assignment complete while clicking the box a second time will change the box to half yellow/half white, indicating that the assignment was started but not completed. Clicking the box a third time will return the box to white, just as if the assignment was not done at all.  As you can see below, Ashleigh read her chapter for her Readers in Residence assignment, but she did not complete the workbook assignment.  The yellow make it easy for me to remember that tomorrow, we will need to finish that assignment before moving on to the next assignment for that day.

For older students who work well independently, Homeschool Planet allows for students to have their own separate login so that they can access their assignments and check them off as they complete them. All the resources that have been linked to those assignments are available for them as well. While this isn't a function I use with Ashleigh and Garrett, again, it is something that I will take advantage of once my oldest daughter joins our homeschool.

Homeschool Planet is one of the products that I highly recommend to others, both within my reviews as well as by word of mouth to homeschool families that I meet.  While very simplistic in design-which is a good thing,  I hate having to navigate to multiple pages to get what to what I want to do - it's design provides all the tools a busy family needs not just to plan and keep track of your homeschool work, but to help organize and run your household as well.

Homeschool Planet planning system offers all the tools you need to quickly and effortlessly plan and track your homeschool year #hsreviews #HomeschoolBuyersCo-op #savings #smartpoints #homeschoolplanet #freecurriculum

   Want to see if it's right for you? You can try Homeschool Planet yourself free for 30 days.
Homeschool Planet {Homeschool Buyers Co-op Reviews}

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Adventures of Rush Revere (A Homeschool Crew Review)

American history is one of those subjects that can be super boring to learn.  Yes, we are all familiar with the many key players in how this country got it's start, such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and the midnight ride of Paul Revere.  Yet, as amazing as these people were, history for most kids, especially younger kids, is something that doesn't instill excitement or enthusiasm.

But what if you added a talking horse?  Not just a talking horse, but a horse that can travel back in time to take students to observe these pivotal moments in our country's history and interact with those well known historical figures?  And what if this horse has a sense of humor?  Well, then, what you would then have is the five books from the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series from  Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh.

For this review, we were given all five hardback copies of the Rush Revere series, tied up neatly with a bow.

The series currently includes 5 titles. In order, they are:

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Rush and Liberty follow the voyage of William Bradford and the pilgrims as they make their way across the Atlantic ocean and journey to the New World. There they experience the hardships that the pilgrims faced on the Mayflower where they have a run in with "Fish Breath", watch the signing of the Mayflower Compact, help with the building of the Plymouth Colony, come face to face with Squanto and participate in the first Thanksgiving.


Rush Revere and the First Patriots:  Rush, Liberty, Freedom, Tommy and Cam travel back to early Boston during the time of Sam Adams and Patrick Henry and the Boston Tea party. While learning about the hardships the early American's faced under the rule of tyrant King George III, they also deal with their own classroom tyrant, Elizabeth, daughter of the Principal, who tries to change history. 

 Rush Revere and the American Revolution: When Cam's military father is deployed, Cam has to deal with depression and finds himself facing bullying from another boy on base.  To help Cam understand why his father has decided to serve his country even when it means leaving his family, Rush, Liberty, Cam and Freedom head back into history where they meet up with revolutionists Dr. Joseph Warren, John Hancock and the great Paul Revere.


Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner: When Tommy's grandfather falls ill, Rush and Liberty take the students on a trip to the Nation's capitol.  But a field trip isn't just a field trip with Rush and Liberty as they travel back in time to meet up with James Madison and his wife Dolly, Betsy Ross and even Francis Scott Key as they take in first hand the battle of 1814. As they experience adventure and history, Tommy pulls together an exciting keepsake to bring back to share with his grandfather.

Rush Revere and the Presidency:  Cam has decided to run for student body President, but the duties and responsibilities of the title seem to elude him as all he can see is the popularity boost it can give to him as he hopes to win with empty promises that can't be accomplished.  To help Cam understand what the position would actual mean, they travel back in time to learn firsthand from Presidents such as George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and learn about self sacrifice and their desire to serve others.

About the Rush Revere Books

Many people are familiar with Rush Limbaugh, both as a radio talk host and as a conservative political commentator.  Some people like him, others may not agree with him or his political stance.  But regardless of which side of the fence one may stand on, there's no arguing that Rush Limbaugh loves his country and the history of it.  In order to share this with younger children and to help instill a love of American History with them, Rush and his wife Kathryn have written a series of wonderful books that draw children into the story.

Each story tells of the adventures of Rush Revere, a middle school history teacher who dresses a bit odd and who's sidekick, Liberty, a talking horse, might seem a bit out of sorts for a school setting. But Liberty is no ordinary horse.  After being struck by lightning in his own time during the American Revolution while just minding his own business being a horse out in the field, he entered our time with the ability to talk, to become invisible, and to open a portal of time between now and the past.  Together with Rush, they use these abilities to bring Rush's students to different places in America's past as they observe first hand how important events occurred. Whether it's the voyage of the pilgrims on the Mayflower, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the historic ride of Paul Revere or the rise of George Washington as our country's first President, the students are given a front and center seat to how our country was founded.

Each book is a library quality hard cover that include full color illustrations as well as photographs of many historic documents and prints of artwork of historical events or figures. In addition to the books, parents can also print out study guides and worksheets that accompany the story as well as fun activities like Trivia and Memory Match games. There's also a link where students can email Liberty (and possibly get a response from their favorite time-traveling horse).

Our Thoughts

We used these books as a read aloud during our school day.  I have to say, the kids absolutely loved them.  From the very first chapter of Book 1 (Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims) and the encounter between Liberty and "Fish Breath", my kids were hooked.  Liberty, without a doubt, is the show stopper in this series (as I'm sure was the plan from the start).  My kids quickly picked up on his humor and wise cracks and looked forward to what was coming next, from trying on wooden shoes (and getting his foot stuck) to doing the moonwalk (which, btw, mom had to demonstrate since Michael Jackson was a bit before their time.. lol) in order to confuse the Redcoats during Paul Revere's boat trip beside the HMS Somerset before his famous ride.  This drew them into the stories, meaning they were listening to the history if, for nothing more, than to get more of Liberty. 

The kids took a particular interest in Rush Revere and the American Revolution, since this story really revolved around Cam. Like Ashleigh and Garrett, Cam is a "military brat" who's father is away on a deployment. Cam resides on a military base, just like they do, and so they found themselves relating to him pretty easily.  They also were able to appreciate some of the smaller aspects of this book, such as the gate guards not allowing Liberty on base because the gate guards are a part of life for us.  It's become a running joke for us now, passing through the gate and checking to see if Liberty is outside, chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles.

I like that in each book, the students face a different obstacle that are things that my children might also face in their lives. Whether it's a sick family member, a deployment for their father (which is always a possibility), being bullied by others in class, or even being a bully themselves, these books not only teach about history but life lessons as to how to handle those types of  situations in a healthy manner. 

The kids show off their personal favorite book from the series

When asked what their favorite parts of the Rush Revere series was, this is how they answered:

Ashleigh (age 9) - "LIBERTY!  Because he's a horse and I love talking horses. I also like Freedom who is a beautiful girl who cares about others and wants to be a veterinarian like I do. We both like animals, especially talking horses."

Garrett (age 10) - " I really liked the story of the Mayflower. I really like Liberty too. He talks and he's funny. I liked when he kicked "Fish Breath", that was so funny. "

Like I said, Liberty wins, hands down. 

The books are written for ages 8-12. I did feel that as a read aloud, they worked very well for my kids but that they probably wouldn't enjoy them for independent reading due to the fact the chapters are rather long.  For reading aloud together, they worked very well and I think a ten year old would probably enjoy these for reading alone.  Younger children will definitely enjoy the story as a read aloud and even teenagers and adults could enjoy the story and the history contained in the pages. 

#hsreviews #history #AmericanHistory

For more information about the Adventures of Rush Revere book series, visit their website or find them on the following social media platforms:

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Great Homeschool Convention - Ontario Part 2 (Vendor Hall Haul)

If you read the first part of my Convention blog, then you're here to learn about my Vendor Hall Haul.  If you haven't read the first part about my trip to the Great Homeschool Convention in Ontario this weekend, be sure to read part one, which can be found here

One of the fun parts of going to convention, any convention, is the vendors hall.  I've gone to MANY conventions in the past, mostly the National Respiratory Convention that's held throughout the country each year. We always joke that going to convention is the cheap way of keeping yourself stocked in things like pens, koozies, tshirts and other gadgets and gizmos.  They use to give up beach bags to put all our freebies into and I often left after a full weekend with three of those full.

Well, the homeschool convention is a bit different.  You're not going to leave there with tons of free Tshirts and pens (although, I did pick up a few pens, to be honest)..  But the highlight is actually putting your hands on curriculum and products.  Where a medical convention knows your not going to walk out the door with a $380K piece of equipment so instead gives tons of freebies to get their products name out there, homeschool vendors know your looking for product in hand and that's what they cater to.  Bring lots of cash, there's plenty of things to spend it on.

As mentioned in my first post about the convention, I didn't get to spend near as much time as I would have liked browsing the offerings at well over 200 tables.  That saddened me, because so many tables I just gave a glance to as I made my way through the hall because I just didn't have the time.

I did walk through the entire hall to see what was available and what tables I wanted to return to.  And when I walked out, I had a pretty nice haul.

First, I had to hit the YWAM table.  They had their books on sale for 8 dollars each, or 10 for $55.  I ended up picking up two of the books that I had my eye on for a while, although my husband said afterwards that I should have went ahead and picked out ten.. haha   First, I picked out the biography about Milton Hershey.  Others on the crew have reviewed this book and have said so many wonderful things about it, so I thought it would be a good one to get the kids as well.  The second book was on Nate Saint, whom I first became familiar with while working on my review for Walking with the Waodani. This one I wanted for my own reading, but I'm sure the kids will read it too.

We spent so much time browsing through Rainbow Resources table and I have to admit, most of our money was spent there.  I could have easily spent double or triple what I spent there. LOL

First, I picked up a HUGE book of Mad Libs for the kids.  I love these things because the kids like the silly stories but don't realize they are practicing parts of speech as they fill in nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives.  This book has over 125 stories inside and was a steal at only $4.45.

Second, I was super thrilled to find Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology.  I had ordered a used copy of this book a few weeks ago for $25 dollars plus shipping, but my money was refunded because they had sold it before I had bought it and didn't realize it until they went to ship.  So you can only imagine my excitement when I found a brand spanking new copy for $27.95, which is normally $39.99.  I also picked up the Junior Notebooking workbook for Ashleigh for $19.45 (normally $27.00)..  I couldn't pass them up.

Next I snagged a copy of Ticket to Ride, a board game I have had on my Amazon wish list for a while now.  It was priced at $35 which is about the same as Amazon, but when I was showing it to Charles, he showed interest in it and told me to go ahead and pick it up now. LOL

Each kid (originally) was told to pick out one fun item.  (It turned out to be two items, I'll explain in a few)..  Ashleigh chose this pillow making kit and she had it completely finished by the time I woke up this morning.. lol We paid $14.99 for the kit.

Garrett decided on a can of Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, which turned out to be really neat.. It's a really sturdy putty that glows in the dark and is also black light responsive. It came with a small black light that causes the putty to react and change colors when you use it on it.  This helped to keep the kids entertained during the Apologia lecture and we decided to get Ashleigh a can of it as well.  These set us back $14.99 each but was well worth the price.

Charles could have spent a ton at Rainbow Resources himself. He thought there was so many neat things there.  But he did pick up a couple of things astronomy related for him.  First  he picked up a new star chart as his last one got to wore out.        

And he thought these playing cards were really neat.. Not that he plays cards, but he thought they were neat. These were $4.95.

I couldn't resist these "Instant Critters".  The kids have never seen these before, so I know they will have fun dropping them in the water and seeing what "grows".. Basically they are a sponge cut out in the shape of an animal inside each capsule. lol  Yeah, I wasted $1.95 but it will be worth it.. lol

Finally, since Ashleigh got a second item, I went ahead and picked up a Tshirt that Garrett really liked at the table for Fossil Maker Tees.   This shirt glows in the dark and was only $10.  While I personally don't adhere to the Young Earth theory, Garrett liked it and I can deal with the design.. lol

That's the haul and I think we did pretty good.  Got some great deals, got some fun stuff to play around with, Garrett got a new shirt and Charles even got some stuff.  Not too bad if you ask me :)


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