Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A Review of the Health and Nutrition Basic Set from Apologia Educational Ministries

Health is one of the subjects that my high school student needs to meet our state's requirements for graduation.  It can be hard to find a good health curriculum that matches our standards and values is tough.  That is why I was excited to receive the Basic Set of Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Dr. Laura Chase from Apologia Educational Ministries to review with CJ.  This is their newest high school offering and we were curious to see what it was all about.
Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition
Apologia's newest Health and Nutrition Basic Set offers students in grades 8-12 a full health course that can be counted as a high school credit.  This set includes the hardcover textbook and a spiral bound student notebook.  The solutions manual to the notebook is included in the book extras online.  The Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition textbook written by Dr. Laura Chase teaches students that health is about stewardship and that means managing what you have to the best of your ability.  The textbook includes 15 Modules that cover a variety of topics including physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.  The modules include:
  1. Who Am I and Why Does Heath Matter
  2. Physical Influences on Thoughts and Feelings
  3. Mental and Emotional Stability
  4. Interpersonal Harmony
  5. Treasuring Your Senses
  6. Processing Nourishment and Hydration
  7. Food Science I - Macronutrients
  8. Food Science II - Micronutrients
  9. Let's Look At What You Eat
  10. Delivering the Oxygen
  11. Let's Move
  12. You're Stronger Than You Look
  13. At War With Infection
  14. Peace in Difficult Times
  15. The Gift of Reproduction
As you can see from some of the module titles, the textbook does cover sensitive and mature topics like reproduction.  It also covers other sensitive topics like drug abuse and mental illnesses.  Even though the material can be used in any grade from 8th to 12th and the topics are presented from a Christian perspective, Apologia recommends that parents make sure their students are mature enough to handle these topics.  The textbook has 441 pages total.  These pages include the student reading, an instructional support page, a welcome page, the table of contents, an introduction page, a works cited section, an index, and image sources pages.
A Glimpse of Normal, Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition
The student notebook in the Health and Nutrition Basic Set is not optional with this course.  Instead it is an essential part of this course and you need one for each student you have working on the course.  The 366 page spiral bound notebook contains all the projects, study guides, and tests needed to complete this course.  It also includes pages for taking notes while reading, the On Your Own questions from the reading with space to answer them, and a suggested daily reading schedule.  If your student follows this schedule they will work on this course 3 days a week for 34 weeks.  You can view samples of both the textbook and student notebook on the Apologia Educational Ministries website.
A Glimpse of Normal, Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition

A Glimpse of Normal, Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition
When this Basic Set came in, I looked through it to see how CJ should work through it and then I passed it along to him.  On the days he wasn't working on it, I did take some time to look through the textbook and read some of the material because I know that it does discuss sensitive topics.  CJ quickly found the suggested schedule in the student notebook and decided that he wanted to follow it.  He said that he could do health every day to finish it one semester, but he didn't want to burn himself out on health.  Each day that he worked on this curriculum he followed the schedule.  Most days this meant that he read a selection and then answered some questions.  Some times it was reading and a project that went along with the reading.  One day of every module was dedicated to the study guide which reviewed the entire module.  The last day of the module was for the Module Exam.  This exam checked to see how well he understood the material from the book, the questions, and the projects.  He did very well on them and said that the study guide prepared him for the exam.  CJ has finished modules 1 and 2 completely and he is almost finished with module 3.  So far he has studied genetics, temperament, why health is important, the nervous system, brain illnesses, the endocrine system, mental health, barriers to thinking deeply, and the Autism Spectrum among other things.  He has figured out that has a dominant temperament of "Phlegmatic" and a secondary temperament of "Sanguine" by completing the projects in the notebook.  I totally agree with Phlegmatic and I do some signs of Sanguine, but probably would have guessed him to be more Choleric than Sanguine.  I really enjoyed looking over his answers that he gave for project 3.2 on decision making.  He completed his on when he should buy a vehicle.  I like how he reasoned this out and that the project had him think through all the options.  CJ said that he doesn't mind working on this health curriculum.  He likes that it is a mix of reading, questions, and projects.  He also liked that this notebook has just a study guide before the exam instead of the other Apologia notebooks that have a study guide and a module summary.  CJ will finish this health curriculum this school year so that he can get his health credit for his transcript.
A Glimpse of Normal, Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition
I really like this Health and Nutrition Basic Set as well.  I feel like the material is well written and it does a great job of presenting sensitive topics in a Biblical manner.  The module on reproduction was very direct and covered a wide variety of topics that fall under reproduction and this part of the body.  Even though this module was direct, it was done in a very appropriate and Biblical manner.  It does tell exactly what happens to men and women during puberty and it does discuss the anatomy giving the correct names for everything.  This module discusses topics like menstruation, arousal, pornography, and sexual misconduct.  The textbook tells about these topics and how they are or are not part of God's plan for marriage.  Even though they are sensitive topics, they are necessary topics and I think the textbook does a great job presenting them.  The other thing I really liked in this set was the Grade Recording Chart in the student notebook.  It does a great job of presenting a rubric you can follow and then gives you a chart to fill in to keep track of your student's grades throughout the course.  This makes it clear for me how I should grade CJ's work.  Apologia also has a free activity book on their website that accompanies this curriculum.  It is an extra supplement that can be used and it features some articles, activities, games, and healthy snacks.  It is a nice little bonus!
A Glimpse of Normal, Apologia Exploring Health and Nutrition
We definitely recommend checking out the Basic Set of Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Dr. Laura Chase from Apologia Educational Ministries for your school if you have high school age students.  This is another great addition to all the educational products that Apologia has to offer.  You can find out more about the Health and Nutrition Basic Set here.  You can learn more about Apologia Educational Ministries on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.  You can also read what how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this curriculum by clicking the banner below.
Health and Nutrition Basic Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Faves: Curriculum Edition

*This post does contain some affiliate links.  You do not pay extra to shop through these links.  It just means that if you choose to purchase any of the items that are using my affiliate links, I will earn a small commission from the company that you are purchasing from.  Thank you!
Friday Faves: Curriculum Edition, A Glimpse of Normal
Today wraps up the last day of the Back to School Blog Hop from the Homeschool Review Crew for this year so I wanted to leave you with something fun.  Every once in awhile here I give you a Friday Faves and I discuss my favorites of something.  I don't think I have ever done this for curriculum.  So I guess it is time to do that.  Let's talk about some of our favorite curriculum products that we have used in our house.
  • Drive Thru History Adventures - We LOVE Drive Thru History Adventures!!!  This site is their videos paired with lots of extras for deeper study.  It also includes access to their latest video series - Acts to Revelation.  We haven't watched them yet, but plan to start watching them with school.  We love how Dave Stotts makes history interesting and fascinating.  My kids never complain about Drive Thru History.  As a bonus, Dave is funny, really funny so that always makes every series fun to watch.  With this site you also get lots of bonus insider videos on all kinds of subjects - the History of Groundhogs Day, the History of Mother's Day, and more.  This site is truly a favorite of ours and we are really looking forward to using it again when we start school.
  • Home School in the Woods - We love this site for all of the hands-on history learning.  This site is awesome for lapbooking and notebooking.  They have tons and tons of history resources.  We love using their products.  We've used some of their file folder games, Make-A-State Activities, Lap-Paks, and more.  Every product of theirs we have used, has been amazing.  They all have a lot to learn and many activities to complete and keep students interested.
  • CTCMath - This one is my son's favorite math.  We have tried other programs and this is the one he keeps asking for.  I like it to because both of my kids can use this program and it does all the grading and tracking for me.  I also like it because I can set a "passing grade."  This means if my kids don't hit at least 80% on a lesson it doesn't count it complete and they have to retry it.  When they retry the lesson, the final grade is an average of however many tries it took to complete the lesson.
  • Heirloom Audio - Heirloom Audio produces the best and most entertaining audio dramas we have listened to.  We love them!!!  Their audio dramas are all based on G.A. Henty books which are adventurous, but have great morals.  They captivate us from the beginning of the story right up to the end.  They also have a Live the Adventure Club that you can join, but I am not a member so I don't know everything about it other than it contains lots of extras for digging deeper into each audio drama.  You can listen to the audio dramas over and over and catch something different every time you listen.
  • The Critical Thinking Co.™ - We love this company because they have a great variety of products to offer.  Our favorite books from this company are their Critical Thinking books.  These books teach students to look for the fine details to figure out clues for mysteries in all kinds of subjects.  They are great for teaching logical thinking and deductive reasoning.
These are just a few of our favorite curriculum products and companies.  They are the companies we keep using over and over so that should tell you how much we like them.  There are more that I could tell you about, but I have to stop somewhere.  Do you have a favorite curriculum or homeschool company that you use?

P.S. Our Homeschool Review Crew is hosting a Back to School blog hop this week.  Keep coming back this week for encouragement and ideas.  Check out these blogs along with clicking on the pictures further down for more reading.
Nicole @ Bless Their Hearts Mom Patti @ Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining Rodna @ Training Children up for Christ Stacy @ A Homemakers Heart Tess @ Circling Through This Life Wendy @ Life at Rossmont Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thankful for Homeschooling

Years ago when my son was born if you would have told me I would be homeschooling, I probably would have laughed at you and said, "No way, not me."  It's not that I didn't believe in homeschooling or that I thought homeschooling didn't work, I just didn't know much about it at the time.  I didn't think that I was a patient enough person and mom to homeschool, but my hubby did.  He encouraged me to look into homeschooling, research what it was all about, and use the teaching skills I learned at college to create our homeschool.  So I did.  I started digging in and finding out all about homeschooling and I am thankful that we chose this route.  Today I want to share some of the reasons why I am thankful that we homeschool.
Thankful for Homeschooling, A Glimpse of Normal
  • We Get to Choose - We get to choose what we teach our kids.  One of the initial reasons I wanted to homeschool was because I felt that my local public school was teaching certain subjects too early and I was also concerned about some of the material they were using/presenting.  I didn't want my kids growing up before they had to.  This doesn't mean my kids are naive or clueless about certain subjects.  It does mean that we chose to present them when they were age appropriate and from a Biblical viewpoint to the best of our ability.  We also choose to teach Bible in our school so that our kids develop a foundation of God and a personal relationship with God.  Lastly, we are thankful we get to choose because we can personalize learning for each of our children according to their current interests.  This has made for some fun learning and projects over the years and I know it will continue to do so as we walk along in our homeschool journey.
  • We Can Follow Bunny Trails - This one goes along with choosing what we teach.  By choosing what we teach we can follow the bunny trails as they come up.  Bunny trails are what I call the side studies we do.  They happen when we are studying a main topic and then find something interesting in that main topic that we want to study more and take the time to study it.  A couple of years ago when CJ studied the Civil War, he was interested in figuring out where all the battles happened.  So we printed off a list of the battles and he colored them red if the north won and blue if the south one.  Then he cut them apart, glued them on toothpicks, and we stuck them in a map to see where each one occurred.  The end result was really cool and he still talks about the map if we talk about the battles.  Following the bunny trails has lead to learning some really cool things that we might not have known if we just stuck to our day to day work.
  • We See the Learning - We get to see our children learn.  I get to see the "light bulb moments" with my kids.  These are the moments when the idea/concept click and my child gets it.  I love seeing these and knowing that they are learning.  I love that they can't wait to tell dad what they learned when he gets home.  That is rewarding and fun for me to see.  I also get to see them tell other people what they have learned when subjects come up and my children can have a conversation about them.  It is really neat for us to see that happen and listen to see what our children have to say in those conversations.
  • Unique Field Trips - We get to take field trips.  We've went to museums, plays, zoos, and more, but those are things that almost all schools do.  We get the chance to take unique field trips because we go and see things specific to what we are studying.  Doing this helps make our studies real and we usually get to learn things we didn't know.  We also get to sometimes learn more because when you talk to people at the places you are visiting and tell them you homeschool, they will usually give you extra details, facts, and information they may not tell a large group of students.  Some of our field trips are unique too because they are places that a large group wouldn't fit into or be able to go.  One year we got to go to an Amish cider mill.  To see them make apple cider from the very beginning of the process we had to be there at 6:00 am.  It was really neat because they told us all about the equipment they used, the process of making cider, bottling the cider, and they let the kids help run the machines.  The bonus in this trip was because we got up so early, they gave us fresh apple donuts to go with our samples of warm apple cider.  
  • We Can Say Yes - We can say yes to unique opportunities that come up.  Our homeschool is flexible and portable so when we get unique opportunities to travel, help people, participate in a ministry, and so on that fit our family, we can say yes.  Depending on what we are doing and what kind of learning opportunity it will provide, I can plan school to take with us on a trip, school to do before we help others or help in a ministry.  We can make our school fit us instead of us having to fit the school.  We do get all of our work done and our days in for the school year, but we can choose to say yes when opportunities fit.
There are tons of other things I am thankful for in our homeschool.  I am thankful for the encouragement and support I have received over the years.  This year marks our 12th year of homeschooling and I am excited to see what this year will bring for my children.  We have homeschooled from the very beginning when my son would only sit for about 10 minutes of preschool work at a time.  CJ, that boy that could hardly sit still, will be in 10th grade and Missy will be in 5th grade.  I am sure I will have many more things to be thankful for after this year.

P.S. Our Homeschool Review Crew is hosting a Back to School blog hop this week.  Keep coming back this week for encouragement and ideas.  Check out these blogs along with clicking on the pictures further down for more reading.
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures Lori @ At Home: where life happens Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama Marla @ Jump Into Genius Meredith @ Powerline Productions: Being World Changers/Raising World Changers Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays Missica @ Through The Open Window Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Saving On School Supplies

Let's face it, school supplies can be pretty pricey.  It doesn't matter if you send your kids to school or you homeschool, the supplies can add up quickly.  Things that we use all the time are pens, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paper, glue, tape, and binders.  Today for the blog hop, I want to share a few ways that I save on school supplies for our school.
Saving on School Supplies, A Glimpse of Normal
  1. Shop Back to School Sales - Our stores start putting our school supplies right after the 4th of July, but this is not when the supplies are the cheapest.  This is when I start watching the prices of the school supplies and thinking about what I need.  I keep an eye on the prices of items I need and watch until they hit a good price before I buy them.  I only get the things I absolutely need to start our school year and wait on the rest for...tip #2
  2. Shop Back to School Clearance - I wait to buy the rest of my school supplies when all of the stores put the supplies on clearance.  This is usually a week or two after the last public school in the area goes back.  This is the time I stock up.  I buy not only what we need for the school year, but I also buy extras.  It never hurts to have extra glue, markers, colored pencils, and paper on hand.  They always get used for something in our house.
  3. Shop for School Supplies Year Round - August isn't the only time supplies go on sale.  If you watch throughout the year you can get some great deals.  Paper products, planners, and organizers tend to go on sale around New Year's for all those resolutions people make so it can be a great time to stock up on those items.  
  4. Shop Holiday Clearance Areas - After every holiday I always check the clearance areas.  This is not only when I buy decorations for whatever holiday just passed, but it is also when I pick up things the items they put on clearance from the holiday that we can use for school.  I buy craft items, pencils, erasers, sticky notes, and whatever else I find that we can use for school.  My kids don't mind using these supplies throughout the year.  They really don't care if they are using an Easter pencil in September.  
  5. Buy in Bulk - Some items are cheaper to buy in bulk.  For us it is cheaper to buy things like reams of copy paper in bulk and manila folders in bulk.  I just start watching for deals on these when our supplies start to get low.
These are just a few of the ways I save money on our school supplies.  I try and keep the cost for supplies down so that we have more money for field trips, activities, and projects.  Every little bit we save helps.
P.S. Our Homeschool Review Crew is hosting a Back to School blog hop this week.  Keep coming back this week for encouragement and ideas.  Check out these blogs along with clicking on the pictures further down for more reading.
Jennifer @ Dear Homeschooler Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory Karen @ Tots and Me...Growing Up Together Kelly @ Hope in the Chaos Kellyann @ Walking Home ... Kimberley @ Vintage Blue Suitcase Kristen @ A Mom's Quest to Teach Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break Laura @ Four Little Penguins Linda @ Apron Strings & other things

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What's New For Our School

I have a confession to make.  I am still planning out our school year.  At first I felt really bad about that, but then the more I thought about it, the more I became okay with it.  It is okay that I don't know exactly what every moment of our school will look like yet this year because I am still thinking it through.  I really feel like God is calling me to do something different with our school this year and that He isn't going to show me exactly what that looks like all at once.
What's New For Our School, A Glimpse of Normal
I think every school year brings us something a little different.  It isn't a bad thing that every year is different for us.  It just means that we are learning what works for us and what doesn't work for us.  Part of this process is praying over our school and then listening for what God is telling us to do with it.  This summer I have really felt God calling me to bring our homeschool back home.  What does that mean?  For many years we have participated in homeschool groups and last year we participated in a co-op.  These are great things and resources, but when I really look at them, they haven't worked for us for the last few years.  The groups and co-ops have given us great opportunities, but they add stress to our school trying to prepare for teaching in them and meeting their schedules.  Also it became tough for us since we do have two completely different grades in our school to make sure that both of my kids were getting everything out of it that they could.  The co-op we were part of last year was great, but required lots of extra behind the scenes work for the classes that my kids took outside of the home and they changed up the program a lot for this year.  So it just doesn't work for us.  This doesn't mean that we won't still take some lessons outside of our home - I still can't teach piano or gymnastics - but it does mean we will take these when they fit in our schedule and work for us.  So bringing our homeschool back home doesn't mean that we won't be out doing activities, field trips, and lessons, it just means that we will make sure these things are purposeful and fit us before we jump into them.

Another change we are making this year is to focus less on the textbooks and more on the learning.  This doesn't mean that we won't be using some textbooks because we do need them for certain subjects.  It means that we will be reading books on specific topics to learn about them, digging deeper for certain subjects, and not just learning the basics, but learning specifics.  We will still study history, science, language arts, and so on.  I am just planning on learning about the topics in these areas a little differently.  I plan to use videos, books, audio books, research, and such to learn about them.  I tried really hard to plan out things like I have in the past using textbooks like I have and it really just felt like I was trying to be too much like a typical school.  It didn't feel right and this year it felt very rigid and stiff.  American History is the history for CJ this year.  I want him to learn about it all from our founding to today.  I plan for him to learn about Christopher Columbus which he could do from a textbook, but will that page long blurb about Columbus be enough for him to know or would he benefit more from reading about Columbus and how he failed several times before he found America and America wasn't even what he was looking for.  Missy wants to learn about Indians this year.  A typical textbook would only teach her about a handful of tribes, but if we look for other resources we could find about every tribe that lived/lives in America.  I just want to dig a little deeper this year and not just cover the surface of subjects.  As I plan this out and figure out more of it, I hope to share more.

A final change for us this year is that we will be focusing more on life skills and trade skills.  CJ is a sophomore this year and Missy is in fifth grade.  We need to be looking ahead and planning for after high school especially for CJ.  We want to begin preparing him for life on his own because eventually he will move out of our home which is such a sad yet happy thing to think about.  Life skills for him means making sure he knows how to cook, basic chores to keep a house clean, how to do laundry, how to sew on buttons, budgeting, planning, and preparing for the future.  Missy is really interested in learning cooking, baking, and sewing right now.  So I want to teach both of them these things so that they are prepared and know how to do them.  These are life skills they need to know and I don't want to send them out of my house not knowing them.  Trade skills are skills my children need to know to work.  They both have expressed some interest in a few different careers so I want them to explore those careers more and see what it takes to get there.  We are looking at some possible internship opportunities for CJ so that he can learn more about the direction he is looking at for his future.  We would love for him to try out what he is thinking about so that he knows if that is what he wants to pursue.  The same is true for Missy too although she is too young for internships right now, but we can still do some career exploration and research.

So while I may not have all my plans down on paper just yet (I am working on it this week), I do have directions I feel led to go in.  I want to truly make our school ours this year, that along with not getting caught in the trap of comparison is my goal this year.  Changes and new are good things and I am excited to see what we will learn this year.
P.S. Our Homeschool Review Crew is hosting a Back to School blog hop this week.  Keep coming back this week for encouragement and ideas.  Check out these blogs along with clicking on the pictures further down for more reading.
Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool Angie @ Run Ran Family Adventures & Learning Annette @ A Net in Time Ashley @ Gift of Chaos Betty @ Let’s Get Real Brenda @ Counting Pinecones Carol @ Home Sweet Life Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Monday, August 20, 2018

Dear Frazzled Mom

Dear Frazzled Mom,

I see you.  I've been there.  I've felt the pressure you are feeling.  It feels like everyone is questioning your decisions.  The more questions you get, the more you doubt yourself.  Especially that question...Are you sure you can homeschool them?  I bet you are ready to pull your hair out, scream, and most days there are probably tears involved.  I know, they've asked me that question a million times too.  I've cried many tears over the doubts, the questions, and the fears.  Every time I start thinking, "Can I really do this?," God shows me that I can.  The times where the doubt hits me are the times that God shows me the blessings of homeschooling.  There are so many.  No one knows your child like you do and teaching them is something you have done since the day they were born.  Keep going.  Don't give up!  Don't let the doubts win.  Don't let those people that don't understand how precious your child's education is, make you feel guilty for choosing a different way for your child.
A Glimpse of Normal
This year marks my 12th year of homeschooling and I will be the first to tell you I don't always have it all together or all figured out.  That doesn't mean that I give up.  It means we adjust and we try things until we figure out what works.  I do my best to figure out how my children will learn best and then we try it.  If it works we keep at it, if it doesn't we adjust and try again.  There is no right way and no wrong way as long as you are actually getting the school in.  Just make sure you are meeting your state's requirements and then do what is best for you.  Don't get caught in the trap of comparison. That will drive you crazy and make you question yourself more.  Do what works for you and know that it is okay if your school doesn't look like my school.  We are all different, we all learn differently, and what works for me, may not work for you.  That's okay.  That is the beauty of homeschooling.  My school doesn't have to look like your school.

So Frazzled Mom as you get ready to head back to school or maybe continue on with your first few days of school, take a deep breath, pray for God's direction for your school, and do what works for your students.  It will all be okay even when it doesn't feel like it will.  You can do it and don't let anyone tell you that you can't.  You got this!

Hugs,
Cassandra
A Former Frazzled Mom

P.S. Our Homeschool Review Crew is hosting a Back to School blog hop this week.  Keep coming back this week for encouragement and ideas.  Check out these blogs along with clicking on the pictures further down for more reading.
Christine @ Christine Howard Christy @ The Simple Homemaker Dawn @ Schoolin' Swag Debra @ Footprints in the Butter Diana @ Homeschool Review Felicia @ Homeschool 4 Life Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Fun: Unity Fest

Last week we got a chance to go to Unity Fest.  Unity Fest is a four day concert festival featuring Christian music artists.  It starts mid-afternoon each day and at the end of the day was the main concert of the night.  We didn't see every band that was there because we were camping too and wanted to enjoy the campground and the beach.  So we decided for our family that we would go over later in the day and hear the main artists for the evening.  We got a chance to see Crowder, Plumb, MercyMe, Citizen Way, and Casting Crowns.  If we would have stayed for Saturday night's concert we would have seen For King and Country, but we had something going on Sunday and needed to be back earlier so I could be awake early on Sunday.  So I am sad that we missed seeing For King and Country, but I am so glad we saw the other bands.  The music was amazing and refreshing to my soul.  I love music and it was great to hear some of the "why" behind some of my favorite Christian songs.  Today I wanted to share the one thing I really took away from this festival.  It is my reminder that when I give it all to God, it is well with my soul...
This video is one I took of MercyMe and their song "Even If" and it may be my favorite moment from the whole festival. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Review of God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco

I have been homeschooling for 11 years and we are getting ready to start our 12th year of homeschooling.  While I am considered a veteran homeschooler, I don't claim to know it all or have it all together.  Honestly there are times that everything homeschooling feels like it is falling apart.  This is why I do my homework and read books about homeschooling and the methods that people are using.  I was curious to see what the book God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco would be about when I was given the chance to review it recently.
God Schooling book
Julie Polanco is no stranger to homeschooling since she has homeschooled her four children.  She has tried several methods of homeschooling before God lead her to her God Schooling.  This way of teaching her children has lead to better results for her so she wrote a book to share about it.
Julie Polanco Books
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn has 163 pages.  There are 9 chapters along with concluding remarks, an author biography, and a bibliography.  The book itself is divided into two parts.  The first part, Dispelling Myths features chapters on Biblical Support for Natural Learning and Motivation & Excellence.  The second part, Practice, contains the other seven chapters and this is where the author shares her thoughts and experiences on how she put God Schooling into practice.  The second part also has chapters on getting started, questions and answers to those questions, and ideas for record-keeping and structure.  At the end of each chapter of the book, there are study questions for helping you dig deeper into what you have read.  This book focuses on helping your children prepare for God's calling on their life through unschooling.  If you are unfamiliar with unschooling, it focuses on child-led learning without a set curriculum.  The author tells how unschooling worked for her and her family.  She sites studies and quotes other authors that support unschooling methods.  She also has many Scripture references that support her views on this subject.

I read this book because I was curious about what the author had to say and what God Schooling was.  I have to be honest and tell you that there are parts of this book that I completely agree with, but there is a large part that I just found hard to read.  I completely agree that are many different styles of homeschooling and what works for one family may not work for another family.  That is truly the beauty of homeschooling, you can make your school yours and do what is best for your student.  I completely agree that as a Christian you should seek God's will for your school and your students and I do my best to do that.  I have even felt God leading me to change some things for our upcoming school year.  Ultimately He knows the path He has for my children and I want to be sensitive to that and follow God's leading.
I felt like the author stated repeatedly that your schooling should be child-led and they should not be forced to learn things they are not interested in.  While I agree with this to a degree, I do hold a different opinion.  I do give my students options in our school and I do ask them for ideas of what they would like to learn about.  We take their opinions and ideas and try to incorporate them in to our learning in some fashion.  Ultimately if I left it up to my students to decide what they learn and when they learn they would not choose any core subjects if they chose to do school at all.  Also the author broke the learning process into stages according to ages - under 8, 8-12, and teens.  I liked some of the things she had to suggest about learning in these stages like encouraging entrepreneurship and service, but other general statements left me shaking my head.  An example of this is the author's statement on page 78 about 8-12 year olds:
"He can conceptualize learning, he can understand rule-based behavior and learning, and he can apply his mind to anything that he can see with his eyes or that he can see in his mind's eye.  He most likely cannot yet work on problems that require deductive logic or that require an understanding of the abstract." 
I felt like this statement was presented as a blanket statement for 8-12 year olds everywhere and there are so many kids in this age range that I feel this statement does not define, my own 9 year old included.  She understands abstract items and can use deductive logic with them.  I also felt that this contradicted the author's statements where she encouraged letting children think outside of the box and be super creative and abstract.  The two thoughts really seemed to contradict each other.  She seemed to me to suggest that real learning doesn't start much before 10 years old and there are very few people that I know this to be the case for.  I do agree that you shouldn't force learning when a child is really struggling to learn a concept, but that doesn't mean you just skip it altogether, to me it means you try teaching it a different way or wait for a different time.  She also seemed to contradict herself when she was discussing getting started in unschooling.  She specifically stated on page 133 to "throw out curriculum catalogs, homeschool magazines, and related publications."  Her reasoning for this was because these items keep her enslaved to a "school mentality."  Then reading the author's bio it states that she writes articles for a homeschool magazine and their blog, along with being an instructor for one of their classes.  This doesn't match up for me. I find the homeschool magazines to be a source of encouragement in my homeschool journey.  
I did appreciate some of her thoughts for teens.  She was very practical about helping your teen decide if college is for them because it isn't for everyone.  I did like that encouraged flexibility in what you count as curriculum for high school credits.  This is an area I have been thinking a lot about because I do have a high school student.  I also appreciated her chapter on the different kinds of learners.  She related learning styles to being a guest at a banquet and the different ways the guests choose to feast.  This was just a reminder for me that I do have two completely different guests at my learning table and that it is okay to cater to each of them.  I did like the overall reminder that unschooling means being present with your children as they learn and walking through the learning with them.  I needed that reminder so that I remember as I plan out our upcoming school year, I can adjust my schedule so that our school time is just school time and I focus on the rest of the things we need to do after school.  

I know that this probably seems like a wishy-washy review.  I struggled with it.  I do have a teaching background and at one time held a teaching license and I really struggled with this book.  There were parts that spoke to me, but for every part that spoke to me there were two or three that I just couldn't agree with.  I think this is one of those books that you have to read for yourself and take away what you will from it.  I got that I need to focus on being even more present in our school and that it is okay for our homeschool to look different than what others do.  You can learn more about God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn here.  You can learn more about Julie Polanco, the author, on her website, Facebook, and Pinterest.  You can read what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew learned from this book by clicking on the banner below.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, Julie Polanco is currently offering the e-book for half price until August 22, 2018.
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Review of Paddington Bear from Branch Out World

It's no secret that I really like using lapbooks, notebooking, and unit studies in our homeschool.  This style of learning works well in our school.  I have used it for history, science, and music in the past, but I know that it can be used for other subjects as well.  This is why I was interested in having Missy try out a Lit Study on Paddington Bear from Branch Out World.
Picture Book Explorers - Paddington, A Glimpse of Normal
Branch Out World knows about homeschooling because they are a family that has homeschooled their own children.  They design literature-based unit studies that are based on books that have a link to the United Kingdom where they are from.  Their unit studies are different because they take simple picture books and create in-depth studies from them.  These studies are created so that you can adjust them to your students and they can be used with multiple ages.  They are also designed to include many different activities such as mini books, quizzes, notebooking pages, flags, and maps to keep students engaged and learning.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
We received the Paddington Bear lit-based unit study from Branch Out World's Picture Book Explorers series for this review.  It came as a digital download and focuses on the book Paddington by Michael Bond.  If you are not familiar with this story, it is about a bear that Mr. and Mrs. Brown find at Paddington station in England.  This bear was a stowaway on a ship from Peru and once the Browns find him, he has many adventures and mishaps.  This unit study is designed for children ages 5-10 and includes over 30 activities and 45 printable pages that help you complete those activities.  The way the study works is that students are supposed to read the book every day for 5 days.  Each day after the book is read, there are activities to complete.  Each day focuses on a different aspect of the book and it is easy to adapt each lesson to the level of learning that your student is at.  Day one focuses on the setting, day two is all about the words, day three is about the pictures, day four is about science, and day five is about math, crafts, and more.  The study includes an appendix that has maps, flags, a timeline, fact sheets, and all the activity sheets you need.
A Glimpse of Normal
Initially I wondered if a unit study for a picture book could really work for my 5th grader, but I can tell you that once I got this study downloaded and started reading through it, I knew that Missy would love it.  She has watched the Paddington movie and loved it so I knew that she would love reading the book and seeing where they got that story from.  We got the book by Michael Bond from the library and she started reading it right away.  It is an easy read for her since she is older, but I knew from looking through the study that there can be more to the story if you really look at it.  The directions for the study give many options for doing the work and I chose for Missy to make a logbook, but in order to make it feel more adventurous, we called it her Travel Log and I had her do a combination of notebooking, scrapbooking, and journaling in her Travel Log.  After she read through the book each day, she would work through the activities.  Through the activities she learned about the countries of England and Peru.  She had fun researching facts about each country.  She was amazed and grossed out that guinea pigs are used as meat in Peru.  She also worked on the map activities for each country.  Through reading the book and using the study we were able to discuss what migration is and how it might feel to be an immigrant.  This was something she had never really thought about before, but after talking about it and doing the activity page on it, Missy decided that she would be nervous and a little scared if she had to move to a new country.  She also enjoyed day two where she learned about the author.  She has really been getting into writing lately so learning about the author and the "why" behind the book was fun for her.  She wasn't as excited to learn about the grammar, but after we discussed how important it is in writing she agreed that she does need to learn about that too.  She enjoyed the other days in the study too.  She liked learning about the different parts of the Browns' house and learning the right terms for the architecture.  Missy liked using the pictures to find the details.  She also liked learning about drawing since this is one of her favorite things to do.  She had a lot of fun completing the activity on overlapping and then working on contrast and position.  Missy liked researching the different bears of Peru and learning about them.  There are a few activities that we did not get to complete yet that Missy is really looking forward to.  She can't wait to make foam (there are recipes for edible and non-edible foam), strawberry tarts, and marmalade.  We didn't get to these activities because they are ones that take a little more time and we have been busy lately.  So we are planning to work on them on the next rainy day.
A Glimpse of Normal
Missy and I both really enjoyed this lit-based unit study.  She said she had a lot of fun and that she didn't know a book like Paddington had so much in it.  I thought the study was very thorough and it included a lot of concepts to teach, activities to complete, and lots of extra resources and ideas for going even further and studying more.  I could see how easy this study would be to use with students of multiple ages and I could see how you can easily adapt it to require more or less from your student depending on their age.  I liked the repetition of reading the book multiple times because it helped Missy focus on and look for other things in the book.  I felt like it was a well-rounded and complete unit study.  I liked that it covered so many topics and subjects.  We would recommend this Paddington Bear study and we would recommend checking out their other studies in their Picture Book Explorers series too.  You can find out more about the Paddington study here.  You can learn more about Branch Out World on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  You can also read more about how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew used this study by clicking the banner below.
Paddington Bear {Branch Out World Reviews}

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Changes Are A Brewing

Changes are a brewing around our house.....
A Glimpse of Normal, Changes Are A Brewing

We will soon start a new school year and I am in the middle of planning it.  We will be changing up some things and trying some new things.  I think this is what every new school year brings...change.  We are also still making changes around our home in the form of more home improvements on our barn.  I hope to get around to sharing some of them with you soon.  I am still working on making changes to my overall health.  That is a process and a journey.  There are other changes coming too.  I am not sure what they all look like right now so I don't want to share before they are fully developed.  There are a couple I can tell you.
  • A sad change is that our outdoor cat, Waldo, passed away.  He was a good cat and even though he tripped us more times than not, we will miss him and his antics.  
  • I have always called my daughter Little Miss on the blog.  She is getting older and from now on I will refer to her as Missy.
  • I have always called my son Buddy on the blog.  He is a teenager now and would prefer to be called CJ on my blog
  • .We have changed up where our playroom is.  It use to share a room with our guest room, but it wasn't great for playing.  Now our loft has become the playroom.  I am hoping to get some pictures up soon.
  • A huge change...I have a chauffeur now.  Okay so the truth of this one is that CJ has his learner's permit, but it also means he wants to drive everywhere.  
Stay tuned for more on the changes around here.  I am sure you will see them in the next few months as I get caught up sharing things with you.  For now, we are off on an adventure...tune in next week for more.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Review of the Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods

I have learned in our home school that if I can make learning fun, my students learn better and tend to retain more facts.  This is why we have enjoyed so many of the products that Home School in the Woods has developed.  Since we have liked using their products in the past, I was curious to see what my daughter would think of Wonders of the World from the Hands-on History Lap-Pak collection from Home School in the Woods when we received it for review recently.
Home School in the Woods
Home School in the Woods is a family run company that understands homeschooling since it was created when the Pak's began their own homeschooling journey.  Amy saw the need to make history come alive so that  her own children were not bored.  She started pulling together resources and used them along with others that she created to start the business.  Now her whole family is involved and they each have their own unique role at Home School in the Woods.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
Wonders of the World is just one of the Hands-on History Lap-Pak.  They also offer Lap-Paks on The 20th Century in America, U.S. Elections, Benjamin Franklin, and Knights.  The Benjamin Franklin and Knights Paks are designed for children in grades K-2 while the other three Paks are designed for grades 3-8.  The Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak that we received is a combination of reading and hands-on activities.  It also includes the audio files of the reading if your student prefers to listen and follow the text.  There are 23 lapbooking projects included in this Lap-Pak.  The projects include coloring, cutting, writing, drawing, and research among other skills.  It teaches your student all about Ancient Wonders, Medieval Wonders, Modern Wonders, and Natural Wonders through the reading and projects  This Lap-Pak is available as a digital download, like we received, or you can purchase the unit on CD.
A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal

A Glimpse of Normal
Little Miss has been using this Wonders of the World Lap-Pak.  I thought it would be a great way for her to learn some history on topics that might not be covered in our other history work.  I started by downloading our copy of the Wonders of the World and then I found the "Start" page which is a like a cheat sheet for parents/teachers.  The "Start" page is a quick way to find everything you need for this lapbook in one place.  It is a quick guide to printing each page, project, and the reading.  It also has links to the audio reading so you can quickly find them for your student to listen to the reading.  The "Start" page has everything listed in order and there are pictures you can click on that show you what the finished project should look like.  I am so glad it was included as it made it easy to get the right things printed for each project.  I started by printing the reading booklet because I knew that I wanted to do a combination of reading aloud and listening to the audio text.  So some days I would have her read about the wonder we were studying and other times I would have her listen to the text being read aloud instead.  We don't always listen to the audio files (they match the printed reading exactly), but we are still in summer mode so I thought the audio was a way to keep this fun.  Then I started printing up the various projects.  I printed things ahead and just kept them clipped together until we needed them.  This way I knew for sure I had everything on hand that we needed.  We worked through a project a week.  We have been bouncing back and forth with the Ancient Wonders and the Medieval Wonders.  Normally I would not have done this, but Little Miss saw some of the project pages I printed and started asking questions about Stonehenge and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I decided to work on those while she was curious about them.  In addition to those 2 projects she worked on the Statute of Zeus and the Temple of Artemis.  She read or listened to the reading for each of these wonders.  The reading is full of information and it is written in a way that keeps her attention while she is learning.  We have also worked some on the Timeline in the Wonders of the World.  We have not completed it yet because Little Miss wants to add to it as we study each wonder rather than doing it all at the beginning.  Like the other Home School in the Woods products we have worked on Little Miss's favorite part of this Lap-Pak has been the hands-on activities and projects.  I feel like the projects help her understand the material and retain the facts since she isn't just reading on a subject.
A Glimpse of Normal
I have really enjoyed this Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak.  It is something we can work on at our own pace and we don't have to work in any particular order which led to us changing up the projects I thought we were going to complete to the ones that Little Miss was asking to learn about.  I love that this is okay and easy to do with this product.  It allows Little Miss some choice of what she works on which makes her happy.  I appreciate that this product keeps her attention and keeps her interested in the material she is learning about.  I love the "Start" page of the Lap-Pak because it makes my job easier since everything is laid out for me and I can quickly find the link to what I need to print.  I am also grateful for the "Suggestions of Other Resources" which I found in the introduction.  It has several books and links that I want to dig into with Little Miss in a month or so when we officially begin our school year.  Like every other Home School in the Woods product we have reviewed, I feel like the Wonders of the World is extremely thorough and well-written.  I find myself learning as much about Wonders as Little Miss is which is a great thing.  We have completed 4 projects so far and I plan to finish the other projects as part of our history class when we start up school again next month.
Project Passport Ancient Rome
We definitely recommend the Wonders of the World Hands-on History Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods.  It makes learning about the wonders of our world a lot of fun and it covers so many wonders different time periods that it makes you want to learn more.  We are also very excited about Home School in the Woods' latest project, Project Passport: Ancient Rome.  This project completes their Project Passport Collection.  We got a chance to try our their Project Passport: Ancient Greece last year and it was great.  Home School in the Woods is truly one of our favorite companies for hands-on history because they offer so many different product lines.  They have the Project Passport World History Series, Time Travelers American History, Hands-on History Lap-Paks, Hands-on History Activity-Paks, Hands-on History Activity Studies, and their À la Carte Timelines.  There is truly something for everyone.  Home School in the Woods is definitely a company that we check out for our history needs.  You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.  You can learn more about the Wonders of the World that we received here.  You can also learn what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of the products they received from Home School in the Woods by clicking the banner below.  We got to review many of their products so definitely check out what my friends are saying.
Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August 2018 Menu Plan

I can't believe today is August already.  I guess time flys when you are having fun and that definitely describes us lately.  We have been having fun.  Summer is still in full swing here.  I am starting to plan out our school year, we will start next month, but we are trying to pack in a few more things before school.  We just are ready to end summer yet. This month is another busy one for us and I am trying to use up some pantry items so I am planning my menu around that.  Here is what we are eating in our house for dinner this month:
August 2018 Menu Plan, A Glimpse of Normal
  1. Chicken Burrito Bowls
  2. Sausage and Peppers Pasta
  3. Pizza
  4. Mini Lasagnas
  5. Party Roast Beef Sandwiches
  6. Chicken Mexican Haystacks
  7. Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
  8. Green Beans, Potatoes, and Kielbasa
  9. Lemon Butter Chicken
  10. Stromboli
  11. Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Lime Sauce
  12. Buffalo Chicken Bowls
  13. Jambalya
  14. Sushi Rice Bowls
  15. Bacon Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole
  16. Seriously Delicious Taco Salad
  17. Fooled Ya Pizza
  18. Fireman Bob's Spicy Sloppy Joes
  19. Blackened Salmon with Avocado Salsa
  20. Taco Soup
  21. Quinoa Bowls with Hummus Vinagrette 
  22. Meatball Parmesan
  23. Adobo Chicken
  24. English Muffin Pizzas
  25. Jambalya Foil Packet Dinners
  26. Grilled Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
  27. Stuffed Burgers
  28. Slow Cooker Carnitas
  29. Italian Meatball Soup
  30. Beef Stroganoff
  31. Grilled Pizza - yes this is totally a thing and totally delicious
As always you can find my menu plan on my August Menu Plan board on Pinterest.  If you don't follow me on Pinterest, while you are there looking at my menu board take a moment and follow me.  What is for dinner at your house this month? 

I am linking up here this week.