Friday, May 30, 2014

E is for Encouragment

This picture is a special one. My Great Aunt Nadine is a resident at the nursing home. She is Josiah's Great Aunt. Josiah is absolutely smitten. He says she's "cute."

For several years now we have been volunteering at a Nursing Home in Joplin.

It's an hour a way from us so our trips are not as frequent as we would like. But when we go we spend all day. My mom has worked there for some time and always has lots of ways for us to be involved.

Every few months are so we also have the church service on a Sunday afternoon.

Josiah has just assumed that the residents he has known over the years are just part of his family.

He has called Bingo, helped paint fingernails, participated in Art Class, served ice cream and has caught a ride on a power chair or two.

Josiah's taking a knitting class. He's a Renaissance man.

I never had his ease in a Nursing Home when I was child.  Any kind of suffering distressed me...and sometimes seeing folks at the end of their lives is tough.

Josiah is unfazed. He pats weathered hands, smiles brightly and lets those the ladies ply with him treats and the old men pass him quarters.

Isn't it funny.

We take pride in what we do for others.

This sweet lady is turning 97 in June. She is spry She also calls Josiah "her boy."

We pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves in the midst of our good works.

The truth is that these lovely people have done more for us than we could ever do for them.

These folks have done so much living. They have seen so much. Experienced things I can't even imagine.

When we go...I doubt the encouragement we give is even half as much as we are given.

I'm linking this post up to Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A TOS Review: What on Earth Can I Do? (Apologia)

This isn’t my first rodeo with Apologia Educational Ministries. This is, however, my first go around with their “What We Believe” Series. I recently had a chance to review the fourth book in the series, What on Earth Can I Do?. Happy Dance! Happy Dance! 

What I Received

Apologia Educational Ministries offers a variety of homeschooling resources with a Christian Worldview. We have enjoyed their elementary science curriculum for a few years now. I have found their products to be excellent. They are not only splendidly produced, but are thoughtfully written and researched. 

As a parent it is important to me to fill my son’s life with messages that emphasize and encourage our Christian faith. I have to compete with a lot. While we monitor what he sees on television, what he plays on his video game systems and more, it is also our desire to equip him with those things that are true, that are lovely and that are pure. I want him to be able to go into any situation viewing it through the lens of Scripture and Biblical truth. 

The “What We Believe” Series has been designed to help me do just that. In What on Earth Can I Do? not only do we learn that the world and everything in it is God’s, but that we were created to be faithful stewards.

What on Earth Can I Do? is intended for grades 1-6. The book is just beautiful. Its 294 pages are filled with fantastic stories, parables and more. The book covers 8 lessons.

1.     Your Story or God’s Story?
2.     Who Put You in Charge?
3.     Will You Be Found Faithful?
4.     Where Is Your Treasure?
5.     Where Does Your Time Go?
6.     Whose Life Is It Anyway?
7.     Why Isn’t It Easy Being Green?
8.     What Will Happen When the Master Returns?

The chapters are meaty and broken down into sections for easy and interesting consumption. Obviously, this just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more included in each lesson.

What On Earth Can I Do? Notebooking Journal is an activity guide that goes right along with the reading in the book. You can make do without it, but it really has a lot of neat activities included. It is written for grades 3-6.

What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal is for those kiddos who are just a bit younger. There isn’t as much writing involved and has a number of coloring activities. It is still very well done. It is recommended for ages 6-9.

What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book contains coloring pages that correspond with the lessons.  We didn’t utilize this product as much (Josiah is anti-coloring at this point). Though I am a fan. I personally love to color! 

How We Used It

There isn’t a Teacher’s Manual with this course. Which is fine by me. The book and notebook contain everything you need to know. There is an recommended schedule, but it is very flexible. We took the course at our own speed and enjoyed every minute of it. The picture below is the sample schedule from the textbook. The Notebooking Journal contains a schedule that is a bit more detailed.

The lessons have a lot of material. Because Josiah is dyslexic, I read much of his lessons (other than his reading lessons) to him. We are used to reading large amounts of material (well…at least I am!) I found What on Earth Can I Do?  to be easy and fascinating reading. Josiah could have read much of the text himself, but the amount would have been overwhelming for him. He is 12 and has improved so much in the last several years, but still has to have his reading in smaller doses. 

 This was not just a study for Josiah, but my husband even sat in during our reading time. We read about an actor, Claude Rains, who played in one of Troy’s favorite movies, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Mr. Rains was one of the most prolific supporting actors of his time. He never demanded the spotlight, but worked hard at his craft and gave it his all. 

We read about Charlie Chaplin. We even looked up one of his movies containing a very controversial speech on Youtube. It was incredible. After it was over we just looked at each other. Wow! It could have been given today. 

Josiah got to enjoy the story of Colin and Jenny in WWII London and how everyone can make a difference. We read a retelling of the prodigal son. This was particularly poignant. Josiah’s lesson in Children’s Church just the week before had been about the parable.

The author's of the book did a beautiful job of interweaving all of these events found in history History, fictional characters and real life personalities together into one engaging message. 

You can use What on Earth Can I Do? alone with simply a blank notebook and pen, but the Notebooking Journal is a wonderful resource to have. 

I am always in a bit of two minds about such premade resources.

Because of Josiah's dylexia and dysgraphia, he gets frustrated if there is too much writing involved. I have used the Junior notebooks before with Apologia. While there is much less writing involved with the Junior Notebook Josiah feels it is too babyish for him. He is a dude, after all.

I decided to simply adapt the Notebooking Journal and Let It Go (everybody sing now!)
I have let go of some of my own perfectionist attitude; such as it must look a certain way and every page must be filled. This time around I let Josiah just do it. I didn't fret about perfection.

The variety of activities in the notebook gave me plenty of options to assign. 

Within the course of the reading are words that we needed to be aware of as well as plenty of Scripture that works well for memorization and Copywork.

You can see the corresponding notebook page below for Ephesians 3:20. The notebook also gives space to the vocabulary words listed under "Words You Need To Know." 

Josiah also enjoyed the Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles that were spread throughout the Notebooking Journal. 

Another fun aspect of the Notebooking Journal were all the little mini books. As a lapbooking fan, I was excited to use them.

One of my favorite sections in the Notebooking Journal were the "Find Out More" pages. 

These pages give you ideas for supplemental materials. Things to do, books, music and movies are all included. During Lesson 1 we  read about Maria Von Trapp. One of the suggested movies was The Sound of Music. Last year, we got to see a professional live presentation of The Sound of Music. It made a big impression on Josiah and we had to watch the movie. I, of course, have seen it 1,000 times. Literally. 

My Thoughts

I can say, without a doubt, that this is one of my favorite products we have ever reviewed. The tone and the language of the writing is beautiful. It is captivating and inspiring. It encouraged me.

Though I loved the Notebook, you can certainly use the book as a stand-alone product. In fact, I think this would be perfect anytime reading. There is a great mixture of short stories, Bible lessons, Biographical information, History and more. 

I haven’t had a chance to read any of the other books in the series, but I can only imagine their quality is as praiseworthy as well.

You can connect with Apologia in the links below. Please click on the banner to read more reviews. 

Click to read Crew Reviews

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sorry. Wrong Number

Somebody in my area has a similar number to my  cell. I know this because I keep getting calls for "Chris."

As far as I know, Chris doesn't live at my house. And frankly, Chris needs to get a life. And possibly some different friends.

This past week, I received a call from one of Chris' buddies. Well. Kinda.

I actually received a call from the Greene County Jail. It was an automated call telling me that someone "enter name here" wanted to talk to me. Or mostly likely, Chris. I didn't really catch the name. Or it didn't seem familiar. One of the two.

I hung up. Obviously.

And then I got to thinking. What if it was actually someone I knew? What if it was a child of a friend who needed to call me instead of a parent? What if it were a relative?

I first thought of my brother (sorry, Ryan). Not that he is in the habit of frequenting the Green County Jail, but his luck kind of runs in odd encounters and he seems to attract strange people. After all, there was that time that a guy was murdered in the house behind him.

Thankfully, I had just talked to my brother moments before. He was neither victim nor convict.

So after feeling momentarily panicked that maybe the call from jail wasn't for Chris, I decided if it was anybody I knew....maybe a night in the pokey would do them some good.

Here is a bit of advice. First of all, if you know "Chris" will you please tell him to give his friends somebody else's number or at least his own.

And. Don't waste your one free call on me from the Greene County Jail. I will probably think you belong to Chris.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A TOS Review: Golden Prairie Press

I love history (I believe I’ve mentioned that before). I was pretty excited to get to review
Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum by Golden Prairie Press. I had never heard of this company before and was delighted to take the journey.

What I Received

I received multiple digital downloads which included:

Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1: 1000-1837
Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2: 1837-Present
Historical Skits
Sing Some History
Listen to US History

Golden Prairie Press provides history resources for homeschoolers. They present history from a Christian worldview.

Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is their newest venture. The programs features 30 weeks of lessons for grades 1-6.

The Digital Download packages runs $ 98.99. 

How It Works and How We Used It

American History Part 1&2 provide all of the text. There is reading, picture studies, map activities, question & answers, crafts, activity ideas and more!

The Additional Materials download has all of the pictures for picture studies, maps, printables, and a nifty timeline. 

   The Historical Skit download has 19 skits. They are skits from Columbus to WWII. We didn’t do any of these skits. Though I have plans to. They are written for 2-6 actors. Plenty of parts of a family.
Sing Some History are MP3s that contain 20 historical songs. Some of our favorites are included. We enjoyed Yankee Doodle. That happens to be my husband’s favorite movie of all time (James Cagney all the way). We can sing it with the best of them. 

The Listen to Some US History MP3s contain audio of 20 historical speeches and documents. This is downright cool.   

I loved this program from the start. It contains reading for every reading level. We used some of it for Josiah’s reading assignments and I read aloud the rest. It was interesting! Not the dry dusty reading we often get from textbooks. 

We started from the very beginning. A very good place to start. We also used it at our reading co-op a few times. 

We began by reading each lesson. I chose what I wanted to include in that lesson. It was easy to adjust the program as I saw fit. 

I used the summary questions at the end of the day’s lesson quite a bit. In fact, we used some of them to use as journal topics. 

This is our friend, Corey. He enjoyed reading history too!

The craft projects were a lot of fun. Somewhere I have pictures of some very lovey canoes made by our reading co-op group. I think the pics must have run away from home (along with my extra socks).
We really enjoyed our experience. I found that the reading was very interesting. I loved reading the personal stories and that history was presented from a Christian worldview. They didn’t water down any historical figure’s own relationship with God and religious views.

There is a lot of material. I printed off some, but mostly left it on PDF (I just sent it to my Kindle).

If your family loves to read history....This curriculum is for you!

You can connect with Golden Prairie Press:

Click the banner below to read more reviews and Enjoy!

Click to read Crew Reviews
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