Saturday, June 30, 2018

These Feet Are Made for Walking

This year I turn 40 and I set some pretty lofty goals for myself to achieve before that happens.  One of my goals was to become a runner.  I am not there yet and I have realized that I may not get there.  I have been working really hard to heal my body physically, mentally, and spiritually this past year and God is showing me that I need to start smaller than running.  I need to make my body stronger and build my stamina before trying to run again.
These Feet Are Made for Walking, A Glimpse of Normal
This month I started walking.  It originally began because our local library did a color run fun run/walk to kick off summer reading and I thought it was a 5k.  I wanted to make sure that I could walk that amount in a reasonable amount of time so I started walking 3 miles each day on June 3.  It ended up being just a fun run/walk for however many laps you wanted to complete that day.  I walked my 3 miles for the day and called it good.  The weather didn't cooperate or I might have walked more.  Anyway I used that event to get me walking and I have kept going since then.  I try to walk at least 3 miles a day.  There have been some days I have walked more and some days I have walked less, but I don't finish my week until I have hit 21 miles walked per week.  When I started out I wasn't sure I could do it, but I was sure I was going to try.  I know I need to get my body stronger and the only way to do that is to get out there and start somewhere.  I didn't know when I started off this month that I would walk a total of 81 miles in a month, but I have as of today.  I didn't know I would be able to walk through extreme heat and humidity, but I did.  I didn't know if I would see any results, but I have.  My muscles are getting toned, I feel better and healthier, and my clothes are fitting better.  I also didn't know I would become one of those people, you know those exercise people that have to exercise, but I did.  If I don't get my walking in, I don't feel like my day is complete and I feel antsy.  The most important thing I have realized through my 81 miles is that it may not be in God's plans for me to be a great runner, but while I wait to figure that out, I can be a really good walker.  He gave me that ability and I am going to take advantage of it. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Review of The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective

Art and Art History are not my forte.  They are subjects that just seem foreign to me.  I know that for Buddy to get the Art credit he needs for high school, I have to find a class that is easy for me to teach and one that keeps him interested so that he can complete it.  This is why I was curious to see what The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective from The Master and His Apprentices was all about when we received it recently to review.  I was curious to see if this Art History curriculum would hold Buddy's attention and qualify for his Art credit.
The Master and His Apprentices, A Glimpse of Normal
The Master and His Apprentices was written by Gina Ferguson.  She is a homeschool graduate who wants to share about God and art.  She has been teaching for over 12 years and has used her teaching background, knowledge of Art, and her knowledge of the Bible to create this curriculum.  The Master and His Apprentices covers a wide range of art periods and topics.  This is a very family friendly curriculum that is written from a Christian perspective and there is no nudity or other objectionable material in it.  This curriculum is specifically designed for high school students and completing it does count as 1 full elective credit.
For this review we received a digital edition of the student textbook, the teacher guide, and the printing rights to print off the material if we chose to do so.  The student textbook has 380 pages.  It has 19 chapters for students to read and an appendix that includes essays, a period chart, a complete timeline, pieces by location, terms that describe art, consulted sources, an index, and acknowledgements.   The textbook starts exploring Art with Creation because God is the master artist.  After exploring Creation, this book goes on to explore Ancient Cultures, Classical Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque and Beyond in its 19 chapters.  The chapters are:
  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Art
  • Chapter 2: Creation
  • Chapter 3: Ancient Near East
  • Chapter 4: Egyptian
  • Chapter 5: Aegean
  • Chapter 6: Early Greek
  • Chapter 7: Etruscan
  • Chapter 8: Roman
  • Chapter 9: Early Christian & Byzantine
  • Chapter 10: Medieval & Islamic
  • Chapter 11: Romanesque
  • Chapter 12: Gothic
  • Chapter 13: Proto-Renaissance
  • Chapter 14: Early Italian Renaissance
  • Chapter 15: High Italian Renaissance
  • Chapter 16: Northern Renaissance
  • Chapter 17: Baroque
  • Chapter 18: Rococo to Today
  • Chapter 19: Global Highlights
The textbook also features over 600 images to accompany the reading along with timelines of world events and Bible/Christian history events.  The digital edition has a standard 8 1/2" x 11" layout so that if you choose to print it, it can be punched and stored in a binder.  The digital download is large so it is recommended that you download in on your computer, but it can be downloaded to a digital device that supports eBooks.  The digital books are intended to be used by a single student or family.  If you are not interested in a digital book, you can purchase a printed book.
The teacher guide accompanies the textbook and it contains instructions for using this curriculum in classroom settings and in a homeschool setting, an attendance and grade sheet, a syllabus, terms to describe Art, Art History paper instructions, weekly discussion question worksheets, 4 exams, answer keys to the discussion questions and exams, and helpful tips and reminders for the teacher.  The guide gives multiple suggestions for how to use this curriculum in the classroom to meet several types of schedules.  The teacher's guide does state that this course counts as a one credit high school elective course if students complete the readings, take notes, answer the discussion questions, write the papers, and take the exams.  It is a thorough and helpful teacher's guide, especially to this teacher that doesn't know much about Art or Art History.
Buddy wasn't so sure about this course at first but he knows that he needs to complete an Art credit for high school and this course would do that for him so he was willing to try it out.  Once I got our textbook, teacher guide, and print and use instructions downloaded to our computer (once the downloads are sent to you, you do have a limited time and limited number of attempts to download it), I scrolled through the teacher guide to see what this curriculum was all about.  I was happy to see that I didn't have to know about Art History to have him be able to learn about it.  Buddy then started reading the textbook from the beginning.  I used the reading schedule from the suggested syllabus in the teacher guide for him and his reading.  This gave him a week to two weeks to read each chapter and complete the worksheet of discussion questions for the material he read.  The reading is full of details and concepts to think about, but it is easy to understand at the same time.  The chapters are easy to break into sections for daily reading which is what I did for Buddy since some chapters are longer than others. After he would read the chapter I would have him answer the discussion questions from the chapter.  This is where I could check to see what he could remember from the reading.  The material from this textbook does seem to be sticking with him and he even mentioned some of the reading to his dad.  Buddy is finishing up chapter 4 of the reading and the worksheet for it this week.  So far he says the reading has been interesting and he likes that he gets to learn history at the same time.  He says the pictures are good and help break up the reading.  Buddy doesn't mind the worksheets and says they are a good review of the reading.  He is doing well on them so far and I am looking forward to seeing how much he has learned when he takes his first exam for this course after he finishes chapter 5.  We will probably do a little bit of chapter review first because he won't be working on chapter 5 until we officially start school again this fall.  Buddy isn't super excited about having to write papers for this class, but he will since it is part of the requirement for getting his credit.
This is the schedule from the suggested syllabus
I really appreciate this curriculum and how it is laid out.  I appreciate that even though I don't know a lot about Art or Art History, I can still help Buddy work through the curriculum.  I love that this book is written from a Christian perspective and I don't have to worry about any inappropriate art pictures in it.  This entire art history class is well thought out and put together.  It is perfect for a high school credit and they even have suggestions for using it with younger children or using it as an adult.  We definitely recommend checking it out if you need an Art elective credit for high school.   You can learn more about The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective that we received by clicking here.  You can learn more about The Master and His Apprentices on their website, Facebook, and Pinterest.  You can also learn how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this curriculum by clicking on the banner below.
The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

Monday, June 25, 2018

Happy Birthday Buddy!!!

This boy!!!  He is amazing!  He is honest, hardworking, and loves Jesus.  He is kind, funny, and smart.  He loves biking, go-karts, and hitting the trails.  He loves the outdoors, country music, and mud puddles.  He is a blessing to us and a gift from God.  Today we celebrate him.
A Glimpse of Normal, Happy Birthday

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

4th of July Wreath Tutorial

I love creating simple, but cute crafts especially ones that my 9-year-old daughter can help me with.  This simple 4th of July Wreath was just that...a craft my daughter could help me with.  I have been wanting to make a new wreath for our front door for the 4th of July for a while now so when the supplies for this one went on sale, I knew the timing was right.  I bought my wreath form at the dollar store, but they don't always have them.  When they do have them I usually buy a few and save them for future projects.  The rest of the supplies I got at a local craft store when they were having a BOGO sale so that it made my wreath project cost only about $11 to make plus our time.  I wanted my wreath to be really full looking so I used extra tulle, you could get away with only 1 roll of red and 1 roll of white tulle, but your wreath may not be as full as mine turned out to be.
4th of July Wreath Tutorial, A Glimpse of Normal, Easy Crafts
4th of July Wreath
Supplies Needed:
1 and 1/2 Roll of Red Tulle
1 and 1/2 Roll of White Tulle
1 Roll of Royal Blue Tulle
10 " Wire Wreath Form
I did buy extra rolls of tulle just in case I needed more.
1.  Cut each color of tulle into approximately 6-inch pieces.  So the pieces will be 6" wide and 6" long.
2.  In three of the wreath form sections, we alternated red and white tulle for each row of the form.  We simply tied the piece of tulle on and then tied it one more time to secure it.

3.  In the last two sections of the wreath form, we tied on blue pieces of tulle and occasionally added in a white piece for the "stars" of the wreath.  I just tried to make sure that my white "stars" didn't line up with each other.
4.  After we got most of the pieces of tulle tied on, I went back and looked for spots that needed to be fuller and added more in those spots.
Depending on how full you want your wreath and the size of your wreath form, you may need more or less tulle.  I wanted our wreath nice and full.  This wreath should be able to handle the weather.  If it gets wet the tulle should dry quickly and just need to be fluffed up again.  We have a screen door and a roof over our porch areas so our wreath should be fairly protected from the weather.  I would love to see your wreath if you create one so please come back and share it with me here in the comments or on my Facebook page.

I linked up here.

*I did include Amazon affiliate links for the supplies just in case you don't have a craft store near you.  If you purchase anything from those links Amazon will pay me a commission on your purchase. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Review of the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar

We are in summer mode at our house and we don't officially do school in the summer, but I do want my kids to keep their skills fresh and their brains working through the summer.  Since it is summer, I try to find things they can do to have fun while exercising their brains.  The Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar does exactly that.  We recently got a chance to review their programs when they gave us a 12 month online subscription to try.
MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs, A Glimpse of Normal
We have reviewed the programs that MaxScholar offers before, but let me take a minute and remind you about them.  MaxScholar is a comprehensive reading and language-based program.  It is designed to help students improve their reading skills, language, and their performance scores.  They offer many different programs for students that are Pre-K through 12th grade.  These programs include Pre-K Phonics, MaxPhonics, MaxReading, MaxWords, MaxMusic, MaxVocab, MaxPlaces, and MaxBios.  Each of these programs have several lessons and levels in them.  Certain areas have games that your student can play.  This online program is very engaging and highly interactive.  It is also available not only on your computer, but you can get an app for your mobile device.

How Did We Use this Online Site?
I used this online site with both Buddy and Little Miss.  I thought this would be a good chance to work on reading and comprehension for both of them over the summer.  I also wanted them to work on their vocabulary skills which this program does a nice job with.  I know that my kids like programs that mix in fun with the real work.  It was very easy to get both kids set up and ready to login to MaxScholar.  Once they logged in I had them take the placement test under the MaxReading section so the program could decide what level to have them work at.  I know that both of my kids are good readers and they don’t struggle too much, but I always like to see where their comprehension levels are.  Little Miss ended up testing in at a third grade level this time which didn’t surprise me.  The placement test is very thorough and she has a tendency to read quickly and miss some detail so while I know she is a good reader we are always working on looking at the details with her.  Buddy tested in at a level 10 which is right where he is at in school since he just finished 9th grade.  Some of the questions involved root words in both Latin and Greek and he just didn’t know them, but I didn't expect him to either.  We just started focusing on vocabulary this last year so he had to guess at many of those questions.  He did much better on the placement test this time than he did the last time and I think that is because he sort of knew what to expect.  After their tests, I let them pick the areas of the program they worked in each time they logged in.  Buddy had completed a lot of the MaxPlaces last time so this time he worked more in the MaxVocab to build his vocabulary skills and he worked some in the MaxReading.  Little Miss worked more across the board and used several of the programs.  She loves the MaxMusic (at least the artists I let her work on) and the MaxPlaces.  She has also been doing a lot better in the MaxReading and MaxWords this time around.  Both of the kids like being able to work on their own level in each part of the program.  They have the option to pick and choose what they can do based on what they have unlocked by completing levels.  Once they complete enough levels in areas, there are games they can play that will help them practice what they learned in the levels.

What Is New?
When we reviewed these programs a couple of years ago, their site was pretty easy to use and navigate.  Now I think they have made it even more user-friendly.  I know for a fact that the teacher dashboard where you can view reports and usage is much easier to use.  In my opinion it is easier to use now and much more streamlined.  Just by logging in to my teacher's account and clicking a couple of buttons, I can see what areas my kids have been spending time in and the progress they are making.  It is also easier now to find out what level your student is working at in each of the areas of this program.  Another new thing is that you can now have the stories in MaxReading read aloud to you.  Little Miss tried this out one day when she wanted to do a reading lesson, but didn't want to read.  It read the story aloud to her and all she had to do was listen and then answer the questions like normal.  I think this would be very helpful for younger readers and for struggling readers.  Each program also directs you through using it.  I think the program did this before, but now it seems to be even more detailed which makes the site easier to navigate.  Also in the teacher's area, I can use the program on my own level so that I can see exactly what my kids have to do and the kinds of things they are learning.  I like this because I can try it without bumping up their level since my level of learning is different than theirs.
This was the quick view of my teacher dashboard early on.

What Did We Think?
Overall we were pleased with the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar.  We liked the variety of programs they offer and the variety of levels that the kids could work at.  I really appreciated that both of my kids could work on the programs offered by this one site and they both found their favorite areas to work in.  I also liked having the parent dashboard that I could log in to so that I could see what they had been working on and how they were doing.  I really appreciated how quickly I could navigate the parent dashboard and the graphs the program created for me so that I could glance quickly and see the progress or I could create reports and get a detailed view.  I liked that how I could view the work as a whole from the dashboard or I could break it down by subject for each student.  Both kids had a lot of fun on this website and they want to continue working on areas of it.  My only complaint about this program is that I personally disagree with some of the artists they use for the MaxMusic and some of the people that students can read about in the MaxReading.  Some of the artists I did not let my kids work on because we won’t listen to their music.  I would like to see a wider selection of musical artists, but my kids did a good job of asking me which ones they could work on before they went into an artist.  Many of the people my son could read about in the 10th level of MaxReading were rappers and just not people that my son would want to read about or people I want him reading about.  I personally feel that there are a lot of other people this program could have students reading and learning about.  There were many great people to read about in the MaxBios so I am not quite sure why they chose rappers for the MaxReading.

You can learn more about the Reading Intervention Programs that we received by clicking here.  You can learn about all that MaxScholar offers by checking out their website.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.  You can also learn more about these programs by clicking on the banner below to read the reviews of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew. 
Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Don't Break the Bank Decorating

Decorating the house can be really expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  There are certain items that are always going to be expensive like the couch and they are the items that I definitely recommend making sure you buy quality items, but these items will last you many years.  Today I want to talk about all the other decorating and how you can do this without breaking the bank.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I love to decorate my house, but I also love to do this cheaply.  When I don't spend a ton of money on decorations, I don't feel bad if I want to change them out or if they are just temporary pieces.  There are several ways that I save money on decorations for our house and I want to share them with you.
  1. Watch for Sales - If you are looking for a specific item or love the items at a particular store, keep an eye out for their sales.  Just by watching their sales, you can pick up the item(s) you have had your eye on for a great bargain.
  2. Use a Coupon or Reward - Many stores offer coupons - printed or digital and/or reward programs that you can use to get special discounts.  I know our local craft stores carry decorations and they offer coupons.  If there is an item I have had my eye on and I can't wait for a sale, I will use a coupon or rewards points to get discounts.
  3. Stack Coupons/Rewards with Sales - This is my favorite way to get decorations for our home.  I will wait for a sale and a coupon that I can use to get extra money off the sale price.  Also I will use my reward points to get extra money off.  Not all stores allow you to stack coupons, sales, and rewards, but don't hesitate to ask about doing so because it can save a lot of money.  
  4. Shop the Clearance Aisle - Many times I find great decorating items in the clearance aisle of my favorite stores.  You never know what will be there, but it is always worth a look. 
  5. Buy Holiday Decorations AFTER the Holiday - I very, very rarely buy a holiday decoration during the season of the holiday.  I usually wait until after the holiday to buy my decorations because then I can pick them up for 70-90% off when the stores are looking to clean off their shelves.  I then store them in a decorations tote for the holiday to come around again.
  6. Ask for a Discount - Many times I have found items on the clearance aisle or rack that have minor damage - part of something has come unglued, missing a piece, or it has a scratch.  If it is a decoration that I think I can fix I will point out how the item is broken and ask the cashier if this is the best price they can give since it is broken.  Some stores will give you an extra discount.  One store told me they could give an extra 10% off the item if I thought I might return it or an extra 20% if I wasn't going to return it.  The item happened to be a clock that was missing the back for the battery pack, but I wanted it as a decoration and it didn't matter to me if it ran or not so I opted for the 20% discount.  
  7. Dollar Stores and the Dollar Spot - I check the dollar store and Target's Dollar spot when I am near them just to see what they have.  I have found cute jars for decorations and other things in these places.  Sometimes they don't have anything I like and other times I hit the jackpot.
  8. Garage Sales - These are also hit or miss, but I have been able to pick up some really cute things pretty cheap at garage sales.  I think we all like to switch out our decorations at some point so garage sales are great places to look for items.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I love this sign for the words on it.  I got it on clearance and then reduced further because the "Worship God" line needed to be glued back on one side.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I picked up this clock on clearance and asked for an extra discount because it didn't have a back for the battery pack. It didn't matter to me if the clock worked on not because I just wanted it for decoration, but the store did reduce the price because it was missing the back for the battery pack. It works and I just put tape on the back of the battery pack to keep them in.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I picked up this jar on a clearance aisle at the end of the season for this product line and then I purchased clearanced out flowers to put in it for a decoration.  Later it might end up in my kitchen as a utensil holder, but because I picked it up cheap I don't mind changing my mind about what I want to use it for.
These are the main methods I use for buying decorations without breaking the bank.  I love to find a great deal and decorating at the same time.  How do you save money on decorating?

I linked up here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Review of Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc.

Little Miss has been really interested in learning about art lately.  We have tried several different programs, but many of them just assume that she knows the basics already and start by drawing complicated things that frustrate her.  This is why I was interested in receiving Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary which is part of the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. to review.
 ARTistic Pursuits, A Glimpse of Normal
ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. has created a homeschool art program that teaches children to create art while developing their observation skills.  Their program helps students use their critical thinking skills while they learn about creativity, art history, art appreciation, and various techniques to create real art using real materials and tools.  The lessons allow the student to make choices about what and how they will draw so that their work is truly their own and they are creating one-of-a kind creations.  This company offers programs for students in grades K-12.
We received Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary to review which is part of the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray line of books.  There are currently 6 books in this entire set which covers multiple subjects for young students.  They are in the process of getting 2 more books ready for this set.  The Art for Children book that we received features 18 lessons, a materials list, a "Teaching Simply" page, a list of objectives for each lesson, a shapes template, and both a DVD and  Blu-ray version of the 6 video lessons.  The book is designed so that it is easy to teach your student art even if you are not an artist yourself.  Each lesson tells you what materials your student will need for the project.  It also has prep notes for the teacher which give you an idea of what will happen in the next lesson so that you can be prepared for any discussions that will take place.  The prep notes also give ideas of how you can use the lessons in larger settings with multiple children.  Some of the lessons have a video to watch that explain the technique and supplies being used along with showing the appropriate drawing methods.  The lessons consist of reading about a topic with your child and then discussing the questions presented in the reading.  Each lesson also has a specific famous portrait for your child to study along with questions to answer about the painting.  These exercises are designed to build your child's awareness of art while using their critical thinking to determine what is happening in the painting.  Then students get a chance to compose their own work of art based on a recent experience. They are encouraged to put in specific details based on the lesson and painting they read.  Each lesson takes only 10-15 minutes to teach and then whatever amount of time it takes your student to draw their picture.  Of course the video lessons vary on their amount of time, but they are fun to watch along with your child.  The specific goal of this book is to have your child start understanding art vocabulary not just the written vocabulary, but being able to discuss what they see visually.  This is why the learn about the art concepts of composing, imagining, colors, observing, shapes, folds, forms, texture, oil pastels, landscapes, still life, animals, figures, watercolor crayons, portraits, cutting, communication, and drawing shapes.  This book is designed specifically for use with students in grades K-3, but can be used for older students too.  It is available for $39.99.
This was a lesson on blending colors.  Little Miss had fun on it.
Little Miss was a little upset with me when we first got this book in to review because she is not in grades K-3.  Then I explained that even though this book is designed for younger students, she could use it too because it will teach her the basic terms, techniques, and things to look for so that she can build her art skills.  We started with lesson one which was a video lesson so that Little Miss could see that these lessons are not just for younger grades.  The video was very well done.  It was easy to follow, fun to watch, and the host, Ariel, did a great job of showing what students were supposed to do.  Little Miss saw that anyone can learn from these lessons and it made her want to work through more of the book.  Since she is older I encouraged her to take her time on her drawings and focus on the little, fine details of each picture.  The next time she worked on the lessons I had her read lesson 2 aloud to me.  It discussed how artists compose and she could really relate to this topic because she does play piano and we have talked about composition before.  She also liked looking for the details in the painting, The Courtyard of a House in Delft by Pieter De Hooch.  She thought it was fun to think about what was happening and why the artist painted it the way he did.  She also liked that when it was her turn to compose, the book told her to paint a picture of something she had seen lately.  She chose to make a drawing like the sample one in lesson 2 because she wanted to practice drawing lines and adding depth with lines.  For the other lessons that she has completed, she has skipped around in the book and worked on the ones that caught her attention that day.  The lessons do not seem like they have to be done in order for older students.  Maybe this worked okay for Little Miss because she has worked on some other art before this book.  She has finished 5 of the lessons and is currently working on a 6th lesson.   She has seen how learning the basics presented in this book is helping her build her overall art skills.
She did the lesson on still life and drew her "friends." 
She has been working on her self portrait.  She has been working on getting the eyes right and she is really improving on them.
I like this program for Little Miss.  Even though it is geared towards younger children, it has taught her to be aware of art around her.  She will look for the things she has learned about in the lesson when she is drawing or looking through pictures.  She looks for focal lines, use of color, and she looks for shapes in drawings and pictures that she can use as a base to add detail to.   This book has definitely helped her build her skills.  I appreciate that I have found a resource that teaches Little Miss art because I am not an artist and I have no clue what to look for when I am looking at art.  I am thankful that this book and video series does that for me.  I will have Little Miss continue working on the lessons in this book because I am seeing her use the concepts that she is learning in her every day drawing and art work (she loves to anything to do with creating art so she is always creating something).  You can learn more about the book we received and the others in this series by clicking here.  You can learn about more about all the products that ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. has to offer by checking out their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.  You can also learn more about the books in the series we received by clicking on the banner below to read the reviews of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because we were able to review several books from this ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series.
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Review of Classical Composition I: Fable Set from Memoria Press

There are so many different ways out there to teach your students writing that it can be hard to figure out what product to use.  I want Little Miss to be a good writer, but I need to find a product that moves at her pace, builds a solid foundation, and will set her up for future writing courses.  This is why I was interested to see what the Classical Composition I: Fable Set from Memoria Press was all about when we got the chance to review it recently.
Classical Composition I: Fable Set, A Glimpse of Normal
Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that was started back in 1994.  They produce simple classical Christian education materials for home schools and private schools.  Since 1994 this company has grown a lot and they offer various subjects of study for preschool through twelfth grade.  They even offer an online academy for grades 3-12.  They are definitely a resource that I check when I am searching for curriculum in our school because they offer curriculum for so many classes
The Classical Composition I: Fable Set is designed to be used by students in grades 4-12.  It includes a set of 4 instructional DVDs, a Student Book, and a Teacher's Guide.  The student workbook is consumable so if you are working through this with more than one student you will need a workbook for each student.  The student workbook has 20 lessons that are divided into parts so that this course can be completed in a full school year.  Each lesson begins with reading one of Aesop's Fables which is followed by learning vocabulary from the fable.  Then students study the concepts of recognition, reversal, and suffering in each story by listing examples of each concept.  Next students look at a different variation of the story by taking a sentence from the story and coming up with synonyms for the bold words in the sentence and rewriting the sentence using the synonyms.  Then students create an outline of the story and practice re-telling the story in their own words using their outlines.  Next students paraphrase the story using specific literary concepts that are taught and defined.  Then students use "Reduction" to rewrite the story (telling the story from the end to beginning).  The students then practice more variations and finally write a final draft where they pick one of their paraphrased writing to edit and polish to turn in.  Each of the lessons that we worked on took us about 1.5 weeks to complete working on a little bit each day.  The method this composition set uses teaches students to analyze a story and then interpret it in order to retell it to others while using both their imagination and the reader's imagination.  They learn all about narrative writing and what it means to use recognition to describe the fables.  It all sounds really complicated, but don't worry because Memoria Press has you covered on this composition set.  Not only is the teacher's guide extremely detailed so that you can easily open it and teach the lesson to your students, but the instructional DVDs entirely cover each lesson so that you can turn it on to the right lesson and let it teach. 
The instructional DVD.
The teacher's guide.
When we first received this set, we started by putting in the instructional DVD and watching the introduction.  This introduction was a great way to find out the what and why of this program.  It explained in detail the process this curriculum uses and the methods behind it.  This helped Little Miss understand more of what was required of her with this one and it helped me know what I should expect from her for her work. Next up we started watching lesson one.  Brett Vaden, the speaker on the DVDs, is very clear, concise, and easy to understand.  He does speak slowly on the DVD, but it is intentional so that he can be understood by all.  The videos do move at just the right pace and are easy to pause in the right places so your student can work.  Little Miss was eager to get started and after we read the story again (he also read it on the DVD), I went over the vocabulary words with her.  I had her write the definition right near the word she was defining in the fable so that she could be reminded what the word meant each time she referenced the fable.  Then we worked through recognition, reversal, and suffering and finding examples of these in the story.  At first, parts of these concepts were tricky for Little Miss to figure them out, but the more we discussed them, watched what the DVD said about them, and worked on them in the lessons, the better she understood them.  Then came her favorite part, the variations.  This is where she got to think of synonyms for words and rewrite the sentences using these synonyms.  This taught her to look for different ways to say things when writing and to look for more powerful words that convey thoughts better.  She liked being able to work on variations twice in each lesson.  I think she could have spent an entire day working on variations.  Up next Little Miss learned about creating an outline of the story.  We haven't worked much on outlines with her yet so this was a fairly new concept to her.  She did well picking out the major points of the story to be the main points of the outline and then the minor points to be supporting points to the outline.  Then came learning literary terms and putting them into use.  These literary terms were new concepts and they took a little bit of practice to get right, but that is okay because it kept her building her skills.  Next she worked on reduction which is telling the story from the end to the beginning.  Little Miss liked doing this and she was very good at writing out the story in reverse order.  Last was a final draft where she could pick which paraphrase of the fable that she wanted to polish up and submit to me for grading.  It was easy to grade because this curriculum gives you a rubric to follow for grading.   Little Miss continued working through the lessons like this.  So far she has completed a few lessons and is working on lesson 5.  She likes being able to be creative with parts of the curriculum and she is having fun reading and learning Aesop's Fables.
Variations were Little Miss' favorite part of the assignments.
I do like the Classical Composition I: Fable Set for Little Miss.  It is a good, solid writing curriculum.  It is teaching her a foundation for writing that she can build on for years to come.  There were parts that were hard for Little Miss, but the more she worked on them, the better she understood them.  While this curriculum says it is for grades 4-12, I think it would have been a little too hard for Little Miss last fall when she started 4th grade, but I think it will be better suited for her this fall when she is in 5th grade.  I think this because it is more in depth than other programs we have used and it requires deeper level thinking with all the literary terms, outlines, and in-depth concepts.  I do like this curriculum and think it is very good, but recommend it for higher grades.
You can learn more about Classical Composition I: Fable Set we received here.  You can learn about all the products Memoria Press has to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.  Click the banner below to read the review of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because Memoria Press was generous enough to allow us to review several different products.  I know I will be checking out the reviews to learn more about the other products The Crew received.
New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}