Friday, May 26, 2017

Roman Roads Media: Fitting Words

Have you heard of Roman Roads MediaThey are classical Christian publishers, "with the goal of making high quality curriculum accessible, affordable, and flexible for the Christian homeschooler."

Roman Roads Media was founded in 2011 from the love of classical education and the desire to publish material for the homeschooler. 

If you are interested in either Latin, Logic, Poetry, History, Literature, or Rhetoric, take some time to browse their site. We've tried a few of their products in the past, but for now, I'm going to tell you a little about the Rhetoric product they offer, Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student

The complete Fitting Words curriculum includes five parts:

* A non-consumable, hardbound Student Textbook 
* A consumable Student Workbook 
* An Answer Key and Teacher's Guide 
* An Exam Pack 
* A video course which can be pre-ordered and is releasing soon but was not available at the time I placed my order.



In my opinion, Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student is an excellent choice for a high school Rhetoric curriculum. And according to the author, the text was written with one goal in mind: to help Christian high school students learn to speak with elegance and persuasion, through theory, imitation, and practice. 

So first of all, I love that the Textbook is hardcover. It includes 30 lessons that follow the classical five canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Lessons include key concepts, famous orators of the past {with beautiful illustrations of each}, Thinking Deeper questions, quotes for Developing Memory, and suggestions for Reading Further. 

Speeches are assigned in later lessons so students can practice applying the concepts. I personally love this idea!

The Student Workbook goes along with each of the 30 lessons and includes 1-2 exercises for each lesson. The workbook is consumable and the pages are perforated so that each exercise and corresponding judging sheet can be removed. 

The Answer Key includes answers for all of the exercises and tests. It also includes one and two-year schedule examples, which I like.

The Exam Packet includes 9 exams covering all the major concepts from the course. Also included are test review sheets and speech judging sheets.

Again, I did not receive the Video Course, but, according to the information online, the author introduces and teaches through each lesson. It's available in multiple formats.


So what do I like about this curriculum?  

COMPREHENSIVE

I like that it's comprehensive and introduces and reviews the classical five canons of rhetoric. 

CHRISTIAN

I also like that it is Christian and scripture is used throughout the book. There are several speeches listed in the Appendix but what I think is most impressive is that every single speech in the Bible is listed by verse, speaker, intended audience, and title or quote. There are more than 500 listed!

CLASSICAL

I like that it introduces famous orators of the past. From Cicero, Aristotle, and Socrates to John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr.

RELEVANT

What we need more than anything is for students to learn to speak with elegance and persuasion, confidently delivering well-prepared speeches and points of view in situations they encounter. 
***

Find Out More: You can find out more online at Roman Roads Media. The Fitting Words: Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student Textbook Bundle is $115. The Video Course is $79 for streaming and $89 for Blu-Ray and streaming. It is recommended for high school students and above. 




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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

IEW U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons Review

Today I'm going to take a few minutes to tell you about the Institute for Excellence in Writing and one of their theme-based writing products, U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons.

The mission of the IEW is "to equip teachers and teaching parents with methods and materials which will aid them in training their students to become confident and competent communicators and thinkers."

IEW offers curriculum for children K-12, college students, special needs, English Language Learners, and Professional Development.

Over the years we have used several IEW products and have enjoyed each one. Today I'll be sharing with you some of my thoughts about their U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons.

We received the spiral bound Teacher/Student Combo which includes both the Teacher's Manual and Student Book.


I love that with this curriculum, the student is developing their writing, while learning about important people and events in U.S. history from Christopher Columbus to the twentieth century. 

The Teacher's Manual starts with a short Introduction, suggested weekly schedule, and scope and sequence. There are a total of 30 lessons and each can be completed in just four days. This is great for a day off or a day to catch up. Each lesson in the Teacher's Manual mirrors the Student Book, as well as gives suggestions, teaching tips and examples to help guide the students. It also includes lesson planning tips, vocabulary quizzes, and answer keys.


The Student Book also includes a short Introduction, suggested weekly schedule, and scope and sequence. In addition, it contains assignments, instructions, source texts, blank outlines, checklists, sample compositions, and vocabulary cards.

The Student Resource Packet is necessary for this curriculum. If you have purchased the curriculum, there are instructions to download it in both the Teacher's Manual and Student Book. The packet includes things like charts, reminders, style samples, tips, exercises, and word lists. It is a great resource!

Lessons follow IEWs Structure and Style course layout, starting with key word outlines, and moving on to dress ups, sentence openers, decorations, mechanics, and structure of the introduction, body and conclusion. Each step builds upon the last and the student goes from note taking to retelling to summarizing to finally a formal essay.

I highly recommend IEWs U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons, especially if you would like to integrate U.S. history into your writing. Other writing curriculum includes Ancient History (grades 3-8), Medieval History (grades 6-8), and Advanced U.S. History (grades 9-12).

Find Out More:  You can find out more online at IEW. The U.S. History-Based Writing Lessons Teacher/Student Combo, which includes both the Teacher's Manual and Student Book is just $49. It is recommended for grades 6-8 and designed to be used by an instructor who has been through the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style seminar, either live or on DVD, though I think you can teach it without it. If you have purchased the books, the Student Resource Packet is downloadable for free, but if you did not place your order through the website, you can order the Student Resource Packet for just $19. 




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Friday, May 12, 2017

Homeschool Technology


We are constantly using technology throughout our homeschool day.  When you think about it, it's really hard to get through the day without it.  Below are just a few of the resources we use day to day.

Computer


I don't know what I would do without my computer!  It's a lifeline to my friends and with that comes encouragement and help.  And I can't count how many worksheets, forms, documents, planning pages, and crafts I've created with it over the years.  Our daughter uses it to write stories and reports, as well as take online classes.

Printer

As much as I hate wasting paper and ink, I absolutely need my printer! I've had several over the years. I currently have the HP Officejet Pro 6830 and it works really well! Just wish the ink was cheaper. 

High Speed Internet


This is a must!  I just do too much online to not have it.

Netflix


We LOVE Netflix!!  It has so many educational movies and documentaries that I'm sure you can probably find something to go along with any topic you are learning.

Amazon Prime


We actually still don't have Amazon Prime but I always think about getting it for the instant streaming of movies and TV episodes.  Plus, there's FREE 2-day shipping and over 350,000 Kindle titles to borrow for free. Still something we are thinking about.

iPad


We use the iPad all the time for downloading books and educational apps.  It's also a great way to sit down and read lessons anywhere in the house.  Our daughter now uses a program to draw and another program to write and organize chapters in stories. It's just so convenient.

DVD Player


Got to have this! Over the years some of our curriculum has come with DVDs to watch as the lesson.  As our daughter gets older and the subjects get harder, I expect we'll be using more {especially with math}.

Facebook

Yep, it can be a time waster, but also a lifesaver!  I probably spend way too much time on it myself, but I've also made friendships I would have never made otherwise.  And we have joined several local homeschooling groups because of it.

Pinterest


Another probable time waster, but Pinterest has so many ideas!!  We have used it for plenty of craft ideas, but it's also been helpful for homeschool ideas too.  I really only try to use it when I want to search for a specific topic, otherwise I could be on there all afternoon.  Oh, and it's great for menu planning too!

Laminator


I almost hate to admit it, but we have never had a laminator.  I don't think I would use it as much now that our daughter is older, but I know I could have put it to good use when she was little.  I'm certain this is a must for many homeschool families, so I wanted to add it to our list.  And if you are looking for a good one, I've heard great things about the Scotch Thermal Laminator

Modern Appliances

We don't cook together as much as I would like to, but we could never do the baking we do without modern appliances.  I know it seems silly, but a modern kitchen with good working large and small appliances is a necessity! 

Sewing Machine

I'm not a sewer but hubby got me one when our daughter was younger.  It's sat more than not, but I've used it way more than I thought I would.  When she was younger I made her a simple dress, a purse, and things like doll pillows, which she can now make herself. I never know what it will be used for next, so it's nice to have on hand.

Keurig

No explanation necessary!  Use this daily!!


*** 

What technology do you use in your homeschool?  




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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Memoria Press: Classical Composition I: Fable Set


We have used many Memoria Press products in the past, but I have yet to try their writing and grammar program, Classical Composition. So as you can imagine, I was interested in taking a look at it.

As I've mentioned before, Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy to use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. Memoria Press’ educational philosophy can be best described as classical Christian education.

Something interesting about Classical Composition is that it is based on the original classical method of teaching writing called the “progymnasmata.” This is something completely new to me. Progymnasmata is Greek for "preliminary exercises." These exercises were taught in ancient Greece and Rome to boys so they could learn the art of speech writing. It involved learning fourteen skills, organized from very simple to more complex.

Classical Composition 1: Fable Stage, is the first of the fourteen skills. In the Fable Stage, students begin learning how to use and imitate words, using Aesop's Fables. I received the Classical Composition: Fable Stage Set. 



It's really an interesting process of learning. The Teacher's Guide is very helpful in planning each day. It takes the instructor step-by-step, so there is no questions as to what to do next. 

The process is outlined below - 

1. The Fable - First the fable, which is included, is read aloud to the student. It's helpful to read it a few times, letting the child read it aloud if they can. Then review and discuss new vocabulary, and discuss and write down three plot components, recognition, reversal, and suffering. Lastly the student can narrate back the fable if they are able to. 



2. Variations Part 1 - The Variations help students to paraphrase words and sentences. Two sentences are given and they have to come up with synonyms for different words and then come up with three new sentences. You can see some samples above.

3. Outline - Outlining the fable may seem a little daunting to a child, but the guide provides help and prompts. 

4. Narration - The student retells the story with the help of their outline. They should not be referring back to the original story. 

5. Paraphrase 1 - Here they will use their outline and sentences from Variations Part I to write the story in their own words. Prompts are included to come up with creative sentences. 

6. Paraphrase 2 - During this second paraphrase, the student rewrites the story but with inverting the sequence of events.

7. Variations Part 2 - Two more sentences are given and they must again change the selected words.

8. Final Draft - Using paraphrase 1 or 2, students correct and rewrite the story in their own words.

Did you get all that?  Seems like a lot, and at first was a little confusing, but after reading through it all, I now understand it's purpose. And the best part is that if you get the set, the DVD is included. I highly recommend getting the DVD because it leads the student through the entire process.

You can split this up however you would like. Each step can be done in a day, or two steps can be combined in one.

Levels cover each of the fourteen skills:

Fable (4th) 
Narrative (5th) 
Chreia & Maxim (6th) 
Refutation & Confirmation (7th) 
Common Topic (8th) 
Encomium, Invective & Comparison (9th) 
Characterization (10th) 
Description (11th) 
Thesis & Law (12th)

It's recommended students begin in 4th or 5th grade, but those who start at 6th grade or higher can catch up by completing two courses in one year. 

Find our More: You can find out more about Classical Composition online at Memoria Press. The Classical Composition: Fable Set is $85 and includes the Student Text, Teacher's Guide, and Instructional DVDs. 





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Monday, May 8, 2017

Homeschooling Methods


There are so many methods for homeschooling, it can become quite overwhelming to choose the one that is right for your family.  I've listed a few of the more popular approaches. You may find that you end up using a mixture in your home.

Charlotte Mason

This method is based on the writings of the 19th century British educator, Charlotte Mason, who felt children should learn from real books with living ideas.  It involves nature, discipline of good habits, narration, and living books.

Classical

This method is based on the Trivium, which is made up of three stages.  The Grammar stage includes memorizing lots of of facts and language, mainly Greek or Latin.  The Dialectic stage involves the study of logic; understanding what has been memorized and asking questions.  Lastly, in the Rhetoric stage the student learns how to present arguments in a persuasive way.

Unit Study Approach

This approach allows a child to learn a subject as a whole instead of just reading chapters in a textbook.  It takes all of the subjects, such as Science, History, and Language Arts, and focuses the lessons around one central theme, say Astronomy. 

Literature Based

This method uses great books as the centerpiece for learning, instead of textbooks. 

Unschooling

Unschooling allows children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum.

Eclectic

An Eclectic Homeschooler is one who looks at the different approaches and methods of homeschooling, and takes little from each one.

***

So what do we use?  I feel like we have used all these methods at one time or another. When our daughter was younger we definitely used the literature based and unit study approach quite a bit. In recent years though, we have used the classical method much more.

I just know that we go with what works.  If it is not working, we switch gears or move to a new curriculum.  That's one reason I have loved homeschooling, it gives us the flexibility to do what we want!



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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Memoria Press: First Form Latin Review


My daughter has been studying Latin since First Grade so I am always happy to review a new Latin package. This one comes from Memoria Press

Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy to use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. Memoria Press’ educational philosophy can be best described as classical Christian education.


We received the entire First Form Latin Complete Set, which is an introduction to Christian Latin for grades 4-9. 

This package includes:

* Teacher's Manual (sample) and Teacher's Key (sample)
* Student Text (sample)
* Student Workbook (sample)
* Quizzes and Tests Book
* Pronunciation CD
* Flashcards
* Instructional DVDs

The Teacher's Manual lays everything out nicely.

When you first open the Teacher's Manual, you are given Teaching Guidelines, which include an Introduction. The first sentence should put everyone who is thinking about teaching Latin to ease: First Form is designed for teachers with or without a Latin background. I feel better already! 

Then you are given a Lesson Overview, which is very helpful. Lessons can be given to a full class or just one student. A full week's schedule consists of the following:

1. Lesson
2. Workbook
3. Oral Drill
4. Quiz or Test
5. Optional additional resources

The Lesson Overview gives extensive information on each item above, which is very helpful. It basically takes you step by step.

The Teaching Guidelines also have ideas for games and review activities, information on how to develop a syllabus, and a sample lesson.

Below you can view a sample lesson from the DVD



First Form’s grammar-first approach focuses on grammar forms and vocabulary because these are the skills suitable for the grammar stage student. However, the First Form Series is for students of all ages because all beginners, regardless of age, are in the grammar stage of learning.

After finishing First Form, students will have mastered:

* The six indicative active tenses of the first two verb conjugations
* Five noun declensions
* First and second declension adjectives
* 185 vocabulary words

Here is a sample from Lesson One out of the Student Workbook. The Workbook lessons are organized into the following sections: Word Study and Grammar, Conjugations or Declensions, Form Drills, Translation Skills, and Enrichment~Honors~Review.


PhotobucketMy Thoughts:  If you are a parent looking for a good Latin program for your child, I would recommend taking a closer look at Memoria Press. 

And if you decide to purchase First Form Latin, I highly recommend getting the larger package, which includes the DVDs. I personally think the DVDs are essential for a successful year.

I also think the Teacher's Manual does a good job instructing the teacher on what to do. It even lays out what to say next. 

Find Out More: You can find out more about First Form Latin and other Latin programs at Memoria Press. First Form Latin is for grades 4-9 and completion of the program is equivalent to one year of high school foreign language. The books are sold individually or in packages. The package I received, which is the First Form Complete Set, is $125. The First Form Basic Set, which does not include the Instructional DVDs and Flashcards, is $65.




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Monday, April 24, 2017

Kidecals Review


Think of all the times your children have left their belongings somewhere else. At a friend's home, family event, large gathering, daycare, school, sports practice, game, camp, or after school activity. 

If only there was a label made to fit and stay on practically everything?!

Well, there is!  With Kidecals you can create stylish and durable labels for all your valuables. Clothes, water bottles, shoes, chargers, phones, laptops, camping gear, luggage, toys, and more!

The best part is that Kidecals labels are:

* Waterproof
* Laundry Safe
* Microwave Safe
* Dishwasher Safe
* BPA Free

So why am I interested in Kidecals? Our daughter dances and has several different pairs of shoes to keep track of. She also travels to performances, conventions, and competitions. So there is a pretty good chance that at some point she will leave a shoe at the dance studio, mix hers up with someone else's, or accidentally put her shoes in the wrong dance bag. For those reasons, I like to put labels on the inside of her shoes. I look for two things. They need to be small and they need to be able to stick really, really well. Kidecals labels are perfect!


We also use them on her phone charger. I can't tell you how many times her charger has been left at a friend's house after a sleepover. And of course, all the chargers look the same. 



Their website points out some other great ways to use their labels, like as allergy alerts and canning labels. 
Find Out More: You can find out more about the huge variety of labels they offer at Kidecals. Labels come in various sizes and sets. Use code kidecalslabel to get 15% off!  You can also get more information on Facebook or Twitter.




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Friday, April 21, 2017

Notgrass History: Exploring America


Oh my goodness, I am super excited to tell you about Notgrass History!! "Notgrass History curriculum uses narrative lessons, primary source documents, historical novels and biographies, and hands-on activities to create engaging learning experiences."

Started by the Notgrass family in 1999, they produce courses for Middle School and High School centered around God's Word. 

We received Exploring America, an American history high school curriculum. This set is simply amazing but I don't want to give anything away, so you will have to wait until my review toward the end of May. 




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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Homeschooling Support


Before homeschooling even becomes a reality, I think it is so important to have the support of your friends, family, and community!

Start with your family first


Discuss it with your spouse.  What are your goals?  Are they in agreement?  Make a plan.  Will he or she help with teaching?  Are the children on board?  Are they excited?  Do you have the support of the grandparents?  Will they have a role?

For us, homeschooling was something we started considering when our daughter was about three years old.  It didn't really become a reality until she stayed home for Kindergarten and was only official when she didn't enroll in First Grade.  Hubby and I knew that this was the right move for her at the time and we were both in agreement.  Staying home indefinitely would be hard financially, but it was on our radar since she was about three, so we saved up.

The grandparents on the other hand, weren't quite as sure.  Homeschooling was new and never attempted in either family.  I'm sure it didn't make sense to them at the time.  Both had questions and weren't quite sure she would get the same kind of education as if she were in school.  It took some time for them to understand our decision and become comfortable with it {and that's really all you can hope for}.

Find a local support group


Search online for a support group in your area and get involved.  Facebook is a great place to start. Finding a well rounded and thriving support group will help you more than you know.

When our daughter was three we joined a local homeschooling group which just happened to have a preschool subgroup.  Her and I both met some wonderful families that we are still friends with now over 10 years later.  I had so many questions back then and it was helpful to talk with moms who could steer me in the right direction.  By the time she was "official", it was a breeze.

From that small group, we started a local Facebook group that currently has more than 400 families.  Inclusion in the group is by invite only and all new members have to be currently homeschooling school aged children and local to the area.  Any member can start an activity or smaller group and we have been able to become involved in many things we otherwise would not have been.  Oh, and the online support and encouragement is AMAZING!!  

If you aren't having any luck finding a local group, try searching for your state on Homeschool World.  This is the most comprehensive site I have found but you could always just Google homeschool groups in your city or state.

Join a Co-op


Sometimes it's just easier for everyone when you have a group you are meeting with on a regular basis for accountability.  A cooperative, or co-op, is an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual, social, economic, and cultural benefit.  Co-ops come in all shapes and sizes and finding the right one for your family is important.

We've been involved in many co-ops over the years.  Some which have included core subjects like math and history and others that just covered things like nature study and art.  Sometimes it takes trying one out to see if it is a good fit.  We have been involved with Classical Conversations for her 7th and 8th grades years.


***

So there you go! I think having a good support system is so important! For other homeschooling questions, take a look at these Homeschool FAQs.



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Monday, April 17, 2017

Roman Roads Media: Classical Rhetoric

Another company that I am anxious to tell you about is Roman Roads Media. They are classical Christian publishers, "with the goal of making high quality curriculum accessible, affordable, and flexible for the Christian homeschooler."

Roman Roads Media was founded in 2011 from the love of classical education and the desire to publish material for the homeschooler. 

I will be reviewing Fitting Words | Classical Rhetoric for the Christian Student. 


Look for my review around the middle of May. 



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