Monday, October 3, 2016

The Fight for Freedom ~ A History Review

Today, I'm sharing a terrific upper elementary school history curriculum.  The Fight For Freedom: True Stories of America's War for Independence by Rick and Marilyn Boyer covers American history by telling the *stories* of people relevant to the movement of independence from Britain.

Written for a 4th to 6th grade audience, this 36 week course is published by Master Books.  It consists of two books; the Student Textbook and Teacher Guide. 

The Student Textbook is a 296 page paperback.  It boasts a whopping 34 chapters.  Each chapter focuses on a person and related events.  For instance, chapters 3 and 4 focus on Benjamin Franklin.  Chapter 3 is called The Making of a Man and chapter 4 is The Great Statesman.  Some of the names, like Daniel Boone, John Hancock, and Paul Revere are very well known.  You'll also study less commonly covered names like Caesar Rodney, George Rogers Clark, and John Sevier.  Several chapters are devoted specifically to women and black patriots.

The textbook also begins with How to Use This Book and Who is Uncle Rick? sections.  If you are at all familiar with Character Concepts, you will probably know about the terrific Uncle Rick audios.  Access to a download of free historical audio files, read by "Uncle Rick" Boyer, is included with the Student Textbook, which is a great addition to the curriculum.  I've found that my kids listen better when we are in the car than when we are at the kitchen table, so we save the lesson's audio for a time when we are traveling.  At the end of the textbook, is a Bibliography and the extensive Endnotes for each chapter.

The daily readings show how our country was founded on Christian values, introducing students to over two dozen American heroes, using a narrative approach.  There are no long lists of dates to memorize. 

The Student Textbook retails for $34.99.

The 114 page, soft cover Teacher Guide is bound and three-hole punched.  In it, you'll find a detailed suggested daily schedule for each unit, laid out in weekly increments, for five days each week.  Suggestions are made for a four day alternative schedule.  We homeschool year round, so we can easily take longer than a week for each chapter by following the schedule and just doing the "next thing" regardless of the day of the week.

Reproducible weekly worksheets, quarterly quizzes, activities, and answer keys are all included in this guide.  Copyright allows for permission to copy reproducible pages for classes/families of ten or fewer students.  The recommended resources for each lesson include audios (some of which are included in the Uncle Rick download), and books (some of which are other Notgrass publications).

The suggested daily schedule is also a handy checklist to track hours (for those of you who need to do that), a check box to tick when the lesson is complete, and a place to record your student(s) grade.  I'm not required to count hours/track dates, so I used this space to write the related resources.  I tracked audios, pages from Profiles of Valor, also by Marilyn Bower with Grace Tumas, and For You They Signed by Marilyn Boyer.  There is an extensive list of books by various authors in the back of the guide.  Some are all related to the lessons and some just certain chapters are noted.

The Teacher Guide retails for $14.99.

Lessons take approximately 30-45 minutes.  For three days, we start with the daily reading from the Student Worktext which ends at a specific point listed in the Teacher Guide.  The reading sections are just a few pages long, so no one has to try to absorb scads of information in one sitting.  The pages have extra information in the margins, which is presented as text, photos, maps, and quotes.  These are not overly busy and will not tire the eyes.  Some of the artwork is in full color and really shows a snapshot of life in the American Revolution time frame.

There are questions to answer based on that reading exercise each day.  There are fewer than twenty questions for most of the chapters.  On the fourth day, you or your students choose a project to complete.  Projects can be drawing pictures or maps, science experiments, writing assignments, and more.  Only one project is required for the week, but another project from the quarter will be completed during the review weeks.  The fifth and final day is for a chapter test and related audio.  Every nine weeks, there is a quarterly quiz in addition to the chapter test.  At the end of both semesters, there is a week spent reviewing everything covered to that point.  That's how 34 chapters becomes a 36 week course. 

Xav loves the hands-on options for the projects.  He will generally choose those, especially if they are sciencey, when that is an option.  Mal especially struggles a lot with writing and reading comprehension, so we just discuss the questions and I show the punks how to find the answers in the reading section.  When we are captive in the car and busy bodies need to be more still, they enjoy engaging their listening skills and are entertained and educated through the audios.  This program, while it does involve reading daily, offers plenty of options for most kinds of learners. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Profiles of Valor

This summer, I wrote an Amazon review for Parenting from the Heart, an ebook written by author Marilyn Boyer of Character Concepts.  We ended up exchanging several emails and I mentioned my hope of teaching a class about the US Constitution for our homeschool co-op this fall.  Mrs. Boyer *very* graciously offered to send two of her books to use and review.  I was so excited!  How fabulous is that?!

Today, I will be talking about Profiles of Valor: Character Studies from the War of Independence, co-written by Grace Tumas.  This is a brand new book released this year.  It's written chronologically beginning with George Washington in 1755 and ending with Alexis de Tocqueville in 1832.  Each biography has been matched to a godly character quality.  Each chapter is similarly presented with a character quality and it's definition, a memory verse, short biography (perhaps better described as an event or several events that bear witness to this quality), followed by several thought-provoking questions that require more than a yes or no answer.

While I was not able to present the class as I had hoped, I was excited to read about our greatest document, and the battles, both spiritual and physical, waged to actualize it, to my own boys at home.  They are a bit younger and I wasn't sure how much of the readings they could follow.  I was pleasantly surprised when discussing US coins, weeks after we read about General Washington's bulletproof coat, and our six-year-old said something like, "Hey!  That's the guy who didn't die when he got shot by Indians."  I actually had to sit back and think to what he was referring! 

I was never very interested in history, but I really enjoy reading Profiles of Valor as a  family and learning about the many patriots, both men and women, who played a role in creating this great nation.  While we did notice a few typos, if you're raising patriots and would like to share the Christian beginnings of the United States of America with them, I recommend this book as well as the many other history products available from Character Concepts.

Monday, February 25, 2013

God Gave Us Easter

See the video preview HERE for the newest addition to the God Gave Us... series of books by Lisa Tawn Bergren.  I've enjoyed each of these books that I've read.  Sweet little polar bear cub has lots of questions for Mama and Papa Bear.  I think you'll enjoy this series also.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lazarus Awakening

You know how one thing leads to another and things get pushed back and put off and eventually you think you should just forget about and you feel guilty about not getting it done? Well, this book review is one of those things. I finished it ages ago. I couldn't let the review slide any longer though, for two reasons. 1) It would be stealing to accept a book for review and never review it and 2) I loved this book! How could I not share it with you?

Lazarus Awakening is the third book in Joanna Weaver's Bethany series. I've wanted to read Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World for a long time. Now I'd love to also read Having a Mary Spirit.

I loved everything about this book. Being a "why?" kind of girl, I enjoyed finding out a bit of Biblical background about culture and society as well as explanations about the original words used and their meanings. For example, two Greek words are translated in English as friend, philos and hetairos. Jesus used philos to describe Lazarus, meaning someone loved and dear. In Matthew 26:50, "And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him" we might wonder why would Jesus refer to Judas as a friend. The Greek word used here was hetairos, more rightly meaning, according to Spiros Zodhiates, means to "establish a... deceptive and misleading friendship."

My husband teases me about all the highlighting I did in this book while reading it. It was just so full of wonderful thoughts. And such a difference from the last book I reviewed.

You can read the first chapter here.

There are wonderful resources and helps in the many appendices in this book, including a ten-week Bible Study. I somehow missed the red banner on the cover of this book with that information, so will be re-reading Lazarus Awakening while actually following the study.

I highly recommend this book. Remember, "good things come to those who wake."

I was provided with a free copy of this book by Waterbrook/Multnomah in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Faith Box

I posted about My Faith Box over on my other blog. Check it out!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lioness Arising

I signed up for Waterbrook/Multanomah's Blogging for Books, where I receive books for free in exchange for a review. This is my second book. BfB has a system whereby books are offered to you for review according to your interests. About the time I decided to choose my second book, there was a glitch online and I was only offered a very small selection in categories that didn't apply to me (think men's and ministry) plus a few women's books. One was Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere.

Apparently, Lisa Bevere is a Christian author. A successful one. I'd never heard of her. No big deal, I've never heard of lots of Christian authors. I was intrigued though. Becoming a lioness would take me far out of my comfort zone, but I could use some shaking up. The jacket cover said this about Mrs. Bevere: "Passionate. EDGY. Relatable. POWERFUL. Funny." Funny. I like funny. So I began to read. In the five (out of 11) chapters I managed to choke down before I finally gave up, I did not glimpse this woman's humor. OK, it isn't a humorous topic. This is serious business, becoming a lioness for God. The entire first two chapters, all I read was "me, me, me, my, my, my, I, I, I". I forced myself to keep reading. I honestly wanted this book to get better. Finally, in chapter three, a nugget, a glorious wake-me-up nugget. Two pages later... Wait. Seriously? More of nothing. The chapter ended with a few pages more of "good stuff".

I don't have a lot of free reading time. I was wasting it all. I was so sick of her references to the reader as "lovely ones". That's something a dear friend of mine might say, but only because she is kooky like that. No one says that to strangers. I also didn't care for her use of The Message for most Biblical verses. Why would lionesses need a paraphrase? Give me the meat of a real Bible. Thankyouverymuch! On page 71, Mrs. Bevere mentions Christians being forced to denounce the Lord or be put to death. She references the Inquisition. Really? You can't think of any more current time/place where this same thing is going on? There are Christians martyred around the world all the time. Today.

In chapter 5, something comes up about her discomfort speaking in front of men though she is a lioness before women. My immediate thought (though this may be an unpopular stance) is that women have no business ministering to grown men. I don't believe it's Biblical. I'm not saying men can't listen to and even glean interesting insight from a woman's point of view. I am saying a man's pastor and main source of Biblical truth should come from men. Just moments later, Mrs. Bevere tells of a woman who felt the same way and shock! once she read her Bible, she came around to see just how wrong this belief is.

I read a few lines and concepts that I felt a take home message, like "...let's find our feet, turn around and run hard after God" and "God's love was supposed to be a banquet, not a burden" (referencing Matthew 23:4) but honestly, there's a little too much Lisa Bevere and not enough God. I cannot recommend this book. I see by the four pages at the beginning of the book, though, that plenty of others are happy to do that.

Want to read Chapter 1 for yourself? Here.

I was provided with a free copy of this book by Waterbrook/Multnomah in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Dragon and the Turtle

The Dragon and the Turtle is a cute little story of two new friends, a dragon and a turtle, natch! A little lost turtle is "shipwrecked" and his hungry new dragon friend helps him find his home. Using all of their senses, Padraig the dragon helps Roger the turtle find his home. What does Roger's house smell like? Why, it smells like chocolate chip snappers! Not sure what that smells like? Use the recipe in the back of the book to make a batch of your own pirate-y treats.

I absolutely adored the whimsical illustrations by Vincent Nguyen. They are so sweet. The story by Donita K Paul and Evangeline Denmark could be quite effective as a tool for use with children who need help learning how to make and be a friend. Introductions and hand shaking are woven seamlessly into the story as well as more subtle points, such as helping a friend in need rather than thinking only of ourselves.

Two pages in the back provide parents with helpful hints to facilitate a discussion with their children about Biblical friendship. For more fun with Padraig and Roger, visit their website here.

The boys and I all really enjoyed this book.

***I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.***