Bible Reading & Devotions
Family Product Review
Homeschool Product Review
Men's Monday Meme
The Purple Files
TOS Crew Blog Hop
Download N Go
Promote Your Page Too
You are not logged in. Log in
Promote Your Page Too
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
A Surprise Announcement is Coming Soon!
Is it a new baby! No, don't worry dear mother-in-law, it is nothing like that. There are actually two announcements which I will be making in the weeks to come, both are exciting to us, but none are as life changing as a new baby in the house. No major changes in our life, just stuff to make it or keep it exciting. What is it? You'll have to wait and see. Check back daily. I'll make at least one announcement soon.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
I'm A Day Late and a Dollar Short - Part 1
I'm a day late and a dollar short! Yep, we had internet problems last night and I had a review due. Today, I've been so busy that I'm just now writing it. It will be ready soon, but probably not until after midnight. While I was searching for a video that went along with my review I happened upon this video and just had to post it. Tim Hawkins is going to be at a homeschool convention that I am going to soon, but I'm not sure I'll be able to see him. I did however find this very funny "music video" that exemplifies homeschooling to a T. Enjoy it, and please come back later for my review!
Dollar Homeschool - Back to the Basics!
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Don't you just love it when you hear statements from you elders like..."Well, we didn't have plumbing in our house until I was twelve years old." or "We had to walk 3 miles to school uphill both ways."?
I lived with my grandfather, and although such statements were probably not far off the mark, I would always hate when he went into one of his lectures. Looking back, though, it is kind of funny to remember them, and now, I think about what advantages children of today have that I didn't have. Just the other day I was discussing with my boys about how desktop computers weren't even invented until after I graduated from high school! I had to type on an old electric typewriter (OH! Horror the thought! ).
There is something to say about the way our ancestors did things though. Especially in education. I know that with all of the advances in techonology, that kids today have to know many more and different things than even I had to learn, but sometimes we lose sight of the basics of learning. We think we have to teach kids so many things and curriculum companies think that they have to add so many bells and whistles to their curriculum that you sometimes want to just yell "STOP!" What happened to the old days? You and I had a pretty good education without all of the trappings. Where can I find curriculum that will take me back to the core things that I want to teach my kids? That's where Dollar Homeschool comes in.
Dollar Homeschool is a company that has taken some of the old tried and true standards that our fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers learned from and put them all in one place where you can find them. I was blessed to be sent Dollar Homeschool's entire Eclectic Education Series (EES) which has a whopping...are you ready for this?...79 (seventy nine) books on CDs that you can buy! These books are divided into five categories:
Rays Math Series -Â Includes 13 books covering everything from Ray's Primary Math to Ray's Differential and Integral Calculus.
History - Including Thalheimer's Histories - five history books that span Ancient History up through United States History and cover it from a Christian perspective. Also includes three Cromwell books, a five book Progressive Course in Reading, a Cyclopedia, Andrews Constitution, American Poems, Rhetorical Reading and a book titled Good Morals and Gentle Manners.
Science -Â Includes everything from Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Botany, Nature Study and much, much, more.
Readers - Nineteen - 19! Yes I said "Nineteen" McGuffey Readers, Eclectic Readers and Primers.
Grammar - 13 Volumes of Long's, Pinneo's and Harvey's Grammar Books.
Teachers Books - Manual of Methods, Question Book, and Successful Teaching in Rural Schools (a selection of letters that serve as a record of achievements of teachers using the Eclectic Education Series).
It was rather obvious that no one on the Crew was going to be able to review every single bit of it, so we were told just to take the things which fit in with what our family was learning and review them. I chose to try out the appropriate levels of McGuffey Readers for both Joshua and John Allen and also chose to review Thalheimer's General History and with Joshua Thalheimer's U.S. History. Let's take them one at a time.
I had always heard great things about McGuffey Readers, but had never tried them with my kids. When I heard that they were part of the Eclectic Education Series, I jumped at the chance to review them. I really like them. Their levels are similar to the levels that you would find in most reading series, but probably a little more advanced. The first volume does cover the basic alphabet, but then moves quickly to three letter word sentences such as "The dog ran".
I chose the second reader for Joshua. One of the things that I like best about the McGuffey series is that they are moral and teach good values. For example, one Joshua's stories was about two boys that had gone to a birthday party. Their parents had told them to be home at a certain time, and, of course, with all of the fun, the time went quickly and it was soon time for them to leave. When they announced that they had to go home, the other boys urged them to stay. They had been given later times to be home, or no time at all. Even the lady of the house begged them to stay. The boys thought about it for a minute, but quickly stated that no, they had to leave. The story was entitled "The Little Heroes". How refreshing to find a story where the characters do the right thing instead of a tale of how someone is trying to hide the truth or make excuses. All of the stories are like that. Each story begins with a dozen or so words that are introduced in that days reading. Let me give you a few of the words that were in the story mentioned above which was the third story in the book - parents, moment, brought, heroes. So, you see how advanced these books are. This is the second reader, and, although not far off the mark. Most kids at the beginning of second grade might have difficulty with these words. You will have to read over some of the stories to be able to choose where you think your child would be at.
For John Allen I chose the 4th reader. He could have probably handled the 5th reader with ease. I have told you before, that he is an avid reader, and he is in 7th grade. However, the 5th reader introduces a oral reading, and I was just not ready to tackle that with him at this time. He does well with stuff like that, but it goes pretty deep in the 5th reader and I wanted John Allen to have a good foundation with the McGuffey series. You can also tell how different McGuffey levels are than today's when you see that the 4th level includes stories by Oliver Windle Holmes, H.W. Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most 4th grade readers don't include such distinguished authors. That's another reason why I wanted John Allen to read this level first. Again, these stories are just as moral and trustworthy as the earlier levels. I love that.
Don't get me wrong when I talk about the McGuffey readers being more advanced. They aren't so difficult that a regular family can't use them. You just have to realize that the levels are different than your typical levels. You can't expect your third grader to be able to immediately go into McGuffey's 3rd reader. He may do fine, but don't be disappointed if he doesn't. Just adjust down to a different level. Whatever you do, please consider this series for your children.
This is another of the Eclectic Education Series that I really liked. They stay true to history and aren't afraid to mention God and give God the glory for events. They aren't overbearing in this area, but they don't shy away from it either.
Let me warn you, however, that these are like history textbooks. There is no curriculum with them, no suggested projects and colorful pictures. All of Eclectic Education Series that you get on CD from Dollar Homeschool has been scanned from original copies. So, you get the original black and white drawings and maps that were in the originals. For the McGuffey books, I actually liked pictures. It gave my boys a look at what life was like when the stories were written. With the history books, I chose to supplement with Joshua at least.Â
Joshua is going through the U.S. History text. Now just as the readers were advanced, so are the Thalheimer books. I'm not sure in what year student's in the 1800's began studying from the Thalheimer books, but this one was a little over Joshua's level. The material is excellent, but I had to paraphrase much of it. I also would look things up on the internet. For example, one of the first sections talked about the Indian Mounds in Ohio. So, after reading that section, we googled Ohio Indian Mounds and looked at pictures of them on the computer. Later, we did this with the giant Redwood trees of California. This really helped with Joshua's understanding. I used the great information in the books as a starter and went from there.
With John Allen, I allowed him to read about world history on his own and then later asked him to retell what he had read in his own words. You could use this as a complete curriculum, supplementing with computer activities and projects, but, since we are finishing up U.S. history as well, I didn't want to over do it at this time.
All in all, I really like the Eclectic Education Series. It is more advanced than most of the watered down curriculum of today, it doesn't try to rewrite history and other material to be more politically correct, and it promotes good, wholesome values. Other crew members worked with other materials depending on the needs of their families, so I would encourage you to click here to go to the TOS Homeschool Crew review blog to find links to other reviews.
You can purchase the Eclectic Education Series in parts if you would like. The McGuffey Readers, History, Science and Grammar CD's are $39.00 each, and the Math CD is just $59.00. Or, if you would like, you can buy the entire curriculum for just $159.00, which is $56 less than the total of all of the CD's bought separately. I know that that seems like a bit much, but when you consider the cost of textbooks, and consider that these books would last for many, if not all, of your homeschool years, then $159.00 is not a bad price at all. I would even encourage non-homeschool families to at least purchase the McGuffey readers as a supplement to their child's education. Please, as usual, don't take my word for it, but check out the Dollar Homeschool website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy Homeschooling. Â Â
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent a free download of Dollar Homeschool's Eclectic Education Series to try out and review on my blog.
Monday, 15 February 2010
A Day After Valentine's Day Shock!
Why am I in shock? As most of you know, I am a member of The Blog Frog. I've blogged about that before, but for those of you who are clueless, it's a large community that bloggers can join to discuss and promote your blog. A few weeks ago someone posted a question about Valentine's Day gifts that women had gotten that they liked. I posted about a few things that I had gotten in the past for Sarah. Lo and behold, the person asking the question was McMama's husband. McMama is a tremendous blogger who has a very large following. He took one of my suggestions for a gift for McMama this year and she wrote a post about it ~ complete with a link to my site. Imagine my surprise when I checked my blog after the Olympics this evening and noticed I had gotten over 275 hits just within the last couple of hours ! That's a drop in the bucket for McMama, but I usually don't get that many in a week let alone a couple of hours! Here is a link to McMama's site ~ http://www.mycharmingkids.net/ . Thanks McMama for mentioning me, and have a great Valentine's Day!
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Both Sides Now - Thoughts on Vancouver's Opening Ceremonies
I get into funks every now and again. A funk for me is when I see somthing that I'm really taken aback by and think about it for too long. This latest funk was caused by the Olympic Opening Ceremonies the other night. I'm a big Olympic fan. Especially the Winter Olympics, but really both summer and winter. I love watching them. I love the sports; I love the coming together of the whole world to set aside differences for a little while to compete; and, I love the opening and closing ceremonies.
I thought the whole opening ceremony was great, but one particular part of it is what has created this deep reflection. It was the part of the program where they were featuring different parts of Canada and came to the Canadian Praries, entitled "Who Has Seen the Wind" taken from W O Mitchells book by the same title. From the beginning of the segment with a short reading from the novel to the great performance by the young aerialist Thomas Saulgrain, to the haunting song, Both Sides Now, sung by its composer Joni Mitchell. All of it really touched me.
I have spent the past three days trying to figure out what it was that made me react this way. Was it the passage from the book that was quoted? Was it the young innocent like performance of the acrobat? Was it the lyrics and vocals of the song? After some deep thought and reflection, I've come to the conclusion that it is all of the above.
In a way, the whole performance was a reflection of my Christian walk and how I view life. Life now, and life in my future home, Heaven. I grew up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, but, although they were mountains, really they weren't that much different from the prairies. They are both special places. I remember walking home on a breezy day with the wind blowing against my face. I recall warm summer days and the sun beating down on my head. I used to sit outside, summer or winter, and reflect on people, things and life. I would ride my sled down our hill on a snowy day and then just sit and think. In the summer I would walk in the woods and explore and just enjoy being by myself. I guess I was a lot like the boy in W O Mitchell's story. With much thinking and reflecting, "I guess I learned at a very young age that I was mortal".
I was a strange boy. Even at a young age I thought about life, my future, even Heaven. I used to lay awake and think about what Heaven would be like. I would imagine myself floating on a cloud or freely skating like an ice skater - not a care in the world, just peaceful bliss. I guess that's why I felt connected to that boy flying in the opening ceremonies - innocent, carefree, nothing to hold me back. That's what Heaven will be like. Not a worry; not a care; not a tear in our eyes. Just days, months, years, an eternity of peaceful, carefree, praising of Jesus. Just like young Thomas Saulgrain we'll be able to fly and do cartwheels and be free. Oh! For the day to come!
Until it comes, however, we must stay here on earth. We must deal with our lives. Deal with the people. Deal with the work and the lives that God has given us. Not our jobs, but the real purpose that God has for us in this world. Like the words in Joni Mitchell's song, the more I go through life, the more I realize that I don't really know life. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn. The more I see clouds and love and life, even when I think that I've seen them from both sides, the more I realize that I don't understand them. The more I have to lean on God, and His Word, and His example. The more I realize that without Him I am nothing. The more I realize that I have to allow Him to take over my life from within,
I remember when personality tests were the big thing. Were you Sanguine? Choleric? Phlegmatic? Meloncholy? I always tested out being a Sanguine but I now think that I am Meloncholy. Being a Meloncholy brings to mind a down, depressed type person, but Meloncholy doesn't really mean that. It really means being an analytical deep thinker. One who ponders and thinks things through. Being a Meloncholy has helped me to realize that if I allow God to take over, then I can really fly. I don't have to wait for Heaven to be peaceful and carefree. I can be at peace now...but, only if I come to God like an innocent child. Only if I let go of my desires and problems, and let Him take over. Then, and only then, can I truly be lifted up and over my circumstances and really fly.
If you missed the opening ceremonies, here's a link to what they call the "Cultural" part. All of the sections are good, and I encourage you to watch them, but if you want to skip to "Who Has Seen the Wind", you can find it at 28:45 minutes on the video. While your watching and listening to that section, think about what life is like in Heaven and what life can be like on earth. Joni Mitchell does a beautiful job of singing the song, and Thomas Saulgrain does a magnificent job of interpreting it. Although it would be nice to think that they are both Christians, there is a good possibility that they aren't. It's a good reminder that God can use all things to His glory - even a secular song and performance. I'll be praying that both Thomas and Joni will someday be able to experience true freedom in Christ and be able to forever be carefree and fly with Him.