Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lightning Lit & Comp: American Literature (Early-Mid 19th century) by Hewitt Homeschooling -- my REVIEW

Are you homeschooling a high school student?  If so, I'm sure that you have been looking for literature courses to complement writing courses that they are taking.  I'm happy to tell you about this great resource from Hewitt Homeschooling that I had the opportunity to review.  The particular curriculum that I will be telling you about covers American Literature: Early-Mid 19th Century and it's more than just a literature course -- it includes writing (composition) as well -- as a matter of fact, it uses the composition to help the student more fully understand the literature (or perhaps vice versa!)

 Lightning Literature and Composition Pack
American: Early to Mid 19th Century
Check out the above picture:  the book on the left is the student's guide for this program, and the white in the center is the teacher's guide.  You may either purchase the four books shown along with the program or acquire them separately.  We chose to download an electronic version on the Kindle.  These are not the only pieces of literature used in the course, however; many others are printed right within the student's guide.  

The student's guide begins with an introductory section that speaks to the question many high schoolers ask, "Why read literature?"  It also walks the student through many different literary devices that will be seen throughout the course (things like how to read poetry, figurative language, tools for writing, how to write different things (fiction, research, poetry, etc), and more.)   Following the introductory material the student is walked through how to use the guide, including how to use the schedule in appendix C.  Scheduling is done in either a half-year or a full-year format; this is nicely laid out so that the student (and teacher!) can easily see what needs to be done when.

The chapters are in a form that merges reading literature with composition practice with different genres.  The first chapter centers on Benjamin Franklin's autobiography--with many comprehension questions for the student to answer as they work through the book (I really like this--it helps keep the student on track and focusing on the content!)  The composition portion of this chapter is on writing about yourself, whether it be a letter, a blog, a journal, or something else.  The student learns techniques and then gets to practice one or more in the writing exercises (for instance, in the autobiography section, one of the exercises is "Choose one of your hobbies and describe it.  Include the following information: How and when you got started, what exactly you do, and why it's important to you.")

After Franklin, the student moves on to Washington Irving, learning a bit about his life before reading a selection entitled "The Angler".  This study of American Literature Early-Mid 19th century includes many familiar authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Mellville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and more.  Each section focuses on reading and writing in a particular form.  

I am really pleased with this curriculum.  It is easy for my daughter to use independently -- and the comprehension questions really keep her on task.  The writing (and thinking!) exercises are fun as well as greatly help cement the literary form to the student.

 The book is written in a very student-friendly manner, easy to read, easy to follow (for example, the section on James Fenimore Cooper and the romantics begins with, "When you hear the word romance you probably think of books or movies about people falling in love.  That is a modern notion though, and does not correspond with the literary notion of 'romance.'" and then goes on to explain romanticism.)

The student guide presents literature in a way that is not intimidating, yet gives a full picture of the author, the piece being highlighted, and the literary form being illustrated by that work.

I'm sure that by now you have the idea that I really like this curriculum :)  I am so happy to have my daughter use it...and will probably also have my son and my younger daughter use it eventually!  I strongly recommend this course, American Literature Early-Mid 19th Century  by Hewitt Homeschooling.

As a matter of fact, I am so pleased with this one student guide that we got to review that we will probably look into using some of the other courses as well.  Hewitt Homeschooling has a whole series of Lightning Lit books for high schoolers as well as for younger students. Some of their other products include:
 as well as other resources.  Please check out their website to see their many offerings!

If you'd like to read review of more of the products in this series, please click on the link below:

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}

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The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios -- my REVIEW

I really like science, especially that which applies to everyday life, which is why the title of this book really appealed to me.  I enjoy learning about everyday things and how they really work, things that may seem mysterious or complex, broken down into the why and how.  When I had the opportunity to review this book, it sounded very interesting, something that I thought I would like.

The book The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios follows a person (you) through an imaginary day, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep at night, interspersing a commentary of what "you" are doing with explanations of how things which this theoretical you encounters work.  Things like your smartphone, x-rays, tvs, even the car from Back to the Future.  It's a lot of information--some easily understood, others take more thinking and careful reading (and some it's pretty difficult to understand without previous knowledge).

The book is full of really interesting parts, such as how your car remote works.  Though I've had cars with remote lock/unlock for many years now, I guess I just never really wondered how that works--now I understand why my remote is not a security issue for the car and why someone else cannot unlock my car with their remote.

As far as a read-able book...I found this book to be quite dry and heavy.   Some of the segments take thought -- as such, it's not just a zip through it book.  I felt like the story line of a person moving throughout their day was kind of blah and just kept getting interrupted with explanations...I would have liked it much better had it just been a reference book with the explanations indexed for the reader to search and read.

I wouldn't really recommend this book as a reading book.  As a reference it might be helpful-- the explanations are good -- by using the index in the back the readers can find the section they want.  Some sections are easily understood, while others seem to be written for readers with a bit more experience. So--not my favorite, but I may keep it around to refer to for explanations when I'm curious about something in particular.

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

W is for white broilers

It's that time of the year again...time to start the meat birds :)  We got the chicks in the mail on Wednesday (it's always so funny to get chicks through the mail!)

Feeding three teenagers takes a lot of food!  Thankfully we can raise our own chicken so that we have meat that we can trust...never have to watch re-calls!

Here's a few thoughts about the broilers that we raise from a few years back:  http://troutwife.blogspot.com/2011/07/fresh-chicken.html

One of the things that makes raising them easier is having three kids to do the chores :)  

A Net In Time Schooling


Summer camp...I have such great memories of camp when I was little...now my kids get to go :)  One child going to a computer camp -- the other going to a Christian camp.  So thankful they get these opportunities :)

Re-upholstering...a boat?

Big job for the beginning of the summer...re-upholstering the boat :) Wow!  Am I in over my head?  That is yet to be seen... ???

:) Here we go!  Just don't expect a dinner invitation...the kitchen table is kind of crowded!!  :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series -- my REVIEW

Are you a reading family? Do you do a lot of read-alouds with your children? Do you like to read (historical) fiction that enhances your understanding of different time periods? Our family enjoys learning through traditional textbooks as well as by reading literature set in historic settings, whether the point of that story is to teach you about the time period or it is just set in an older era, allowing you to pick up bits of information about that time.

I was given the opportunity to review a series of books whose goal is to use a fun story to teach youth about American history. The series is the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. This is a set of five books written by Rush Limbaugh (some co-written by his wife Kathryn Adams Limbaugh).  Besides just the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series, there is also an accompanying website which contains different activities and further information about the characters and events of the books.

Adventures of Rush Revere

The books, themselves, are nicely made...hardcover with shiny dust jackets and heavy "aged-document-looking" pages. They are definitely a quality-made product. The author, Rush Limbaugh...well, we are probably mostly all familiar with him from his radio show. In the acknowledgments section of the first book, Limbaugh shares his inspiration for writing the series: his wife Kathryn reminded him of his "frustration with what many kids are learning today and suggested that (he) tell the amazing stories of our country's founding in an easy to understand way." And so we have this series from the Limbaugh family.

The books follow Rush Revere, a teacher passionate about history, who substitute-teaches and otherwise engages students from his local middle school. He wants to share his passion for history with the students, but also wants to teach them about life today through a historical context. His methods of teaching are based on time travel, aided by his camera and his time travelling buddy, a talking horse with lots of abilities named Liberty. Liberty has a lot to say about mostly everything.

Book one finds Rush and Liberty (and a few students) experiencing life with the Pilgrims, from before they began their journey to the new life at Plymouth. In book two, Rush, Liberty, and some students get to meet "the first patriots" -- folks such as Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and more (and have to stop a student from trying to change history!). In book three, one of the students' father is deployed overseas -- in the time travel adventure he and a few others visit the time period of the American Revolution to learn why people fought/fight and why freedom is so important, both then and now. Book four features a different student as Rush takes him and a few others to Washington D.C. to learn about our country's government and its history (and even the national anthem!). Book five is all about the presidency; students are engaged in an election in their school and they learn about some of the past presidents by visiting them and their families.

My 12 year old daughter was the one in our family who dove right into reading these books. She enjoys reading mostly everything and was glad to begin this series!

So what did we think? First of all I'll share her thoughts: "I liked reading the books. They’re more like story-ish than informational. I wouldn’t use them for actually learning in depth. It focuses on the horse a lot. It’s kind of too much that the horse can do. I like the history part of it too. But still, they are nice stories."

I also read some of the books, and truthfuly, I did not love them.  I agree that so much of the book is about Liberty the horse, as well as how they were doing what they were doing.  I realize that this is part of their appeal, it just didn't appeal to me.  The writing style (and grammatical style -- punctuation, sentence structure, etc.) was not what I would consider "good writing" -- and that annoyed me a little as well.  I think that maybe it was written in a casual, chatty style, which, I'm sure, will appeal to many folks -- it's just not my favorite.

All in all, I'd recommend these books as recreational reading for children; fiction which teaches about history is a good thing.  My daughter, at 12 years old, is probably at the top of the suggested age for these books.  I can imagine a family with younger children enjoying these as read-alouds, giggling together at some of the things Liberty comes out with.

You may also enjoy the many facets of the website that accompanies the Adventures of Rush Revere on which readers can play games (both online and printed), find resources for homeschoolers, take quizzes, find book suggestions, learn fun facts, and more!

One of the word scramble games on the site

Please click on the link below to see what other reviewers have to say about this series!

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

V is for Vehicles...Remotely Operated Vehicles...underwater ROV's continued!

Wow, wow, wow. I am so impressed with the SeaPerch build that my older 4-Hers just completed this week!

They learned to use tools such as pvc cutters, drill, soldering irons, multimeter, and so much more! They followed directions, built the ROV, wired the control box and the motors, and soldered all the connections. So impressed with these kids and this program!

We received a grant from the SeaPerch program/Office of Naval Research to pay for the ROV kits and the teacher tools. I HIGHLY recommend this program! For more information on the program, check it out here:

A Net In Time Schooling

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Internship for High School Credit -- my REVIEW

With kids in high school and looking at colleges, a word that pops up occasionally is INTERNSHIPS. I think this is kind of an "in thing" right now. Addressing this topic in a homeschool setting is a book from Apologia Educational Ministries entitled Internship for High School Credit. I was given the opportunity to review this resource, and based on past experience (as well as the reputation they have for high quality) I was happy to check out these materials by Apologia Educational Ministries.

Internship for High School Credit

The book begins with an introductory section that gives readers a definition of an internship along with many reasons why internships benefit a high school student (or anyone in general). Some of the internship benefits they list are:
*Explore a career
*Learn day-to-day job responsibilities
*Discover job likes and dislikes
*Focus more closely on a college major
*Bolster a college application
*Gain experience related to career goals
*Increase scholarship opportunities
*Gain marketable skills
*Increase potential job offers

Homeschooled students usually have a more flexible schedule than those in traditional school, so an internship may be easier for them to fit into their week.  The benefits of an internship are definitely educational, and as such, many parents may wish to incorporate an internship into their child's transcript.  This book gives ideas and advice about how to do this, whether it be a one-semester internship or a two-semester.

Creating an internship "course" for the transcript, some parents may wish to incorporate having their student make a written record of different aspects of the internship/job.  Included in this book are many ideas for this, including a place to record goals for the internship semester and several guided writings and questions to encourage the student to think about different things and record them.


Sprinkled throughout the book are little tips, such as the one seen below--lots of little bits of practical advice for internships or jobs or life!

Other valuable contents included a section on how exactly to choose an internship.  I thought this part was very well-written and helpful for a highschooler.  Yes, you may want to go into haute couture fashion design, but you may not be able to find an internship at that level :) :) -- so how about checking out other aspects of the same field, such as upholstery design, or something related however peripherally?  This is a great eye-opener to those who feel that an internship would not be available in their desired field--maybe there is one close to it which will still give you many of the benefits and a similar experience.

There is a segment on resume writing for a high schooler, which I thought was very helpful.  It's hard to know what to put on a student resume, especially if your paid jobs have been few or none.  The suggestions for resume contents plus suggestions for interviews are something every student should read, whether they are looking for an internship or not.

One part that was almost a big turn-off for me was at the beginning of the introduction section.  I really felt like they were almost down-playing a college education to the point of discouraging students to go that route.  I think that this is something possibly negative that some who tout the importance of internships and experiencial based learning tell themselves and others. Yes, an internship can help you get an edge or help you hone in on career goals, but I really personally am a believer in a college education.  So much more is learned in college than just preparing one for a career.  My husband works for the fish and wildlife department and he quite often sees high school students coming in looking for a job, saying they have had an internship with a related field.  While this is good for them, it does not change the requirements of the department that an employee in this field have a minimum of a bachelor's degree--no matter how many internships they have held.  I will say, however, that as I read on in the intro and further into the book the feel seemed to be more that an internship could synergistically work with further education to advance your career goals.  

I have a high school daughter who wants to go into a computer science field and has wondered about internships.  This book was helpful in giving her (and me) more information about them as well as about how to meld them with homeschooling high school.  As it stands, however, her course load is such that adding in an internship is just not right for her at this point.  Perhaps next summer or at some point in her college years.  

I found that this book, Internship for High School Credit, is a nicely-put-together journaling activity to use throughout an internship which will help a student verbalize his or her experiences in such a way that it can be later viewed as a reminder of what was done/experienced/felt/wondered along the way, instead of struggling to remember those things at a later point when wishing to recount them for a future opportunity.

So...overall?  Well, I think that this book is good in a sense.  Good for record-keeping, good for idea-opening, good for helping you think through the process of using internships on a transcript.  Some of the parts of the book were things that one can learn about in other arenas, but if you are curious about internships, you might gain some great help from this book.  

I was glad to have the opportunity to review this book by Apologia Educational Ministries.  Some other members of the Review Crew were able to use and review another product from Apologia entitled  How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook).    You can check out those reviews as well as other reviews of Internship for High School Credit by clicking on the link below:  

Homeschool with Confidence & Internship for High School {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

U is for underwater ROV build--coming this week!

I'm so excited that I received a grant from Seaperch/Office of Naval Research to make ROV's with my homeschool 4-H Club!

We received the materials a couple of months ago and they've just been sitting there ... waiting ...

Now tomorrow begins the building fun!  :)  I'll have to post a "U is for" part 2 when we are underway!

At any rate, take a look at the website and see if it might be something your group is interested in!  Who wouldn't want to make ROV's?  :)

Here's their website:  http://www.seaperch.org/index

A Net In Time Schooling

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

T is for Transcripts

Transcripts!  Before I had highschoolers the thought of transcripts just made me feel a bit panicky.  Up until grade 8 I school my kids with out grades (oooohh!  are you scandalized by that thought?).  My reasoning is that the purpose of grades is basically so that parents know how their kids are doing in a course, and since I was intimately involved with the educating, I know what my kids are learning and what they are missing.

Leading up to the high school years I started asking around.  Some homeschooling families gave me advice to document everything, resulting in pages of "transcripts."  Others said they didn't really know.  I looked online.  I looked in a few books.  Finally I decided to just look at a few different colleges and see what requirements they had for admission to the school or to different majors.

This has led me to a bare bones transcript... hopefully this will fit the bill!  We'll find out very soon when my daughter applies to her college of choice!

Here's my "style" which is basically basic :)

I guess in a couple of months we'll see if it works! :) 

How about you?  Any tips for me?  Thank you in advance!

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Book of Trees from Memoria Press -- my REVIEW

To preface this review, I love science.  My pre-children career was in environmental education, and we as a family really enjoy the outdoors; since they were young, I have taught my children about many aspects of the outdoors and nature--basically just as "fun learning" and not "formal" education. I was so excited to have the opportunity to review a middle school botany curriculum--and my daughter was happy to give it a try!

The Book of Trees Set

The materials we received for this review were three items from the set called The Book of Trees set by Memoria Press.  The full set includes the three titles put out by Memoria Press as well as two supplementary books which will enhance your learning about trees and plants in general.  The subtitle of the books is "An Introduction to Botany Through the Study of Trees," and I would really agree that this more fully states what this course is about.  It is not purely a study of trees, but rather a study of botany that then narrows down so that the student can specialize in a study of trees.

Students read a selection from The Book of Trees and then turn to the corresponding section of the workbook to easily answer the page of questions about their reading.  The following page includes things such as diagrams and labelling as well as other suggested activities.

The study begins with a discussion of why we should study trees and plants) and moves through different plant systems with chapters on roots/root systems, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits; the next segment is tree observations--students learn how to observe a tree and will conduct 15 different tree observations (including things such as structure, location, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, identifying the tree, further research of the tree, as well as sketching different aspects of the tree.)  The final unit delves further into some of the chemical processes that a tree/plant experiences:  photosynthesis and respiration.

The student who used these books in our family was my youngest daughter, who is 12 (7th grade).  She was excited right from the start.  The textbook was written in an easy to understand, easy to follow manner, and the workbook was simple to complete following the reading.  She used these books independently (though we did a LOT of discussing of the things she had learned!  She sprinkled her new knowledge into many conversations and car rides!)

As a parent/homeschool teacher, I was pleased with the level of material that this curriculum contained.  It was definitely written for a middle school audience (not childish, but written in a way they would process and truly understand easily).  The material covered is a great overview of the high points of botany.

Here's what my daughter said about this set The Book of Trees:  "The Book of Trees was very informational, and I learned a lot.  It teaches in an interesting way and it is easy to follow along.  It isn't very hard and when you're done, you leave feeling (and knowing) that you learned so much.  

As you have probably already gathered, I would definitely recommend this botany curriculum.  It covers the topic nicely, it is written in a very readable fashion, and the workbook is comprehensive and very helpful to enhance the learning.  

Here are just a few more pictures from the workbook to give you a better feel for it:

This is not the first Memoria Press product that we have had the opportunity to review.  I have been VERY pleased with their curriculum thus far.  They have many different course offerings, including quite a complete Latin program.  In this review cycle, some of the homeschool reviewers got to use curricula other than the Book of Trees-- some others that were reviewed included Prima Latina Complete Set , Latina Christiana Complete Set , First Form Latin Complete Set , 
Second Form Latin Complete SetThird Form Latin Complete Set,  Fourth Form Latin Complete Set, and Nature's Beautiful Order .  .  Curious?  Click on the banner below and you can read some reviews of these products as well!

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}

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