Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Introduction to Architecture on SchoolhouseTeachers.com

If you are looking for something different for your students in middle school and high school, I am currently teaching Introduction to Architecture through SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This is the curriculum website of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. One low monthly cost makes more than 125 courses for preschool through high school available to your entire family. There are also member resources and encouragement and helps for parents.

Introduction to Architecture is a fun way to learn about the history and science of some of the world's most iconic structures. The following is an outline of what is discussed in this 37-week course:

Great Wall of China

(Bonus: Gingerbread Houses and Christmas Architecture)

Tower Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
Panama Canal
Hoover Dam
Channel Tunnel
Mount Vernon
Eiffel Tower
Statue of Liberty
Washington Monument
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Spaceship Earth
Sydney Opera House
Empire State Building
Willis Tower
World Trade Center
Petronas Tower
Taipei 101
Burj Khalifa
St. Basil's Cathedral
Cathedral of Notre Dame
St. Peter's Basilica
Capitol Building
Architectural Fails
The Architect

If you are interested in taking this class or are looking for math, language arts, science, or other elective courses, check out SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

DISCLAIMER: I am an affiliate with SchoolhouseTeachers.com. If you sign up for a membership using my link, I will receive compensation.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Brother is Born for Adversity

I used to think this meant that we were given siblings to test us and cause us grief. 

My brother and I are only a year apart, and we fought like cats and dogs as we were growing up. Not until his senior year of high school and my junior year did we start to get along. In college, we actually lived right beside each other for a year. That was pretty cool.

My two youngest are just 21 months apart. They fight like cats and dogs. Now I know how my mom felt. Sorry, Mom! I guess now that I'm a parent, I just don't get it. Why does everything have to turn into an argument? Why does even the breath the other takes drive one so insane? 

A friend yesterday shared her struggles with her kids and their fighting and provided this insight: our family has already accepted us and loves us no matter what. It is the approval of everyone else outside of our family we are trying to obtain, which is why our kids can be so kind and generous toward others.

It's good that we love and accept our family, but how do we move beyond the arguing and the general disdain on a daily basis? Is it a heart issue? Are they simply exercising their selfishness and need to be right?

Due to their clouded judgment, they are unable to see the beautiful characteristics which God has put within their sibling. My son is generous to a fault. He is extremely intelligent and loves to share what he has learned. He wants a relationship with his sister. He might not admit it, but why else would her attitude toward him bother him so much. My daughter is a leader. She has strong opinions. She is a very gifted dancer. She also has a very soft spot in her heart for others, especially those who face challenges and disabilities.

Maybe if they removed the proverbial planks they'd be able to see how amazing the other is. If they laid aside their own "rights," they'd be able to appreciate the people God has placed in their lives to provide acceptance and unconditional love.

It's funny how my oldest rarely gets into a battle of wits with either of his siblings. It is really only the two younger ones. Is that because they are slightly closer in age or is it because my daughter looks up to her older brother in some way? Maybe it's because he's unwilling to give in to the arguing.

Because my brother and I turned out to be such great friends, I can only hope the same will hold true for my daughter and son. They won't believe it now. They'll think their mom is insane, if they read this. They'll wonder how it could ever be possible considering how much they dislike each other. I think it's just a facade.

A brother is born for adversity. It took some time before I ever heard somebody explain this verse found in Proverbs 17. A brother isn't born to cause us grief. A brother is born to help us through the difficult times of life. There is rarely anyone closer than a sibling. He/she is the person who knows us best and loves us anyhow.

If you have any tips on defeating sibling rivalry, please share in the comments.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hello Again! A Review of This Past Year

I've been working recently on a project to find homeschooling blogs, and it has sparked a renewed desire to begin writing again. I quit blogging in November after my last homeschool product review because I had become so busy editing that I didn't have time to write on a weekly basis, which is what was required to continue receiving the review products. I had burned out, so to speak.

Without that obligation looming over me, I will attempt to return to the world of blogging. Since I've missed nearly an entire school year, I will review what we used this year and what new things we experienced.

My oldest was a junior this year. That means he only has one year left. Excuse me while I wipe the tears off my keyboard. Seriously, I am not looking forward to graduation day. I'm excited for him, but I will miss him. He's probably sick of me saying that. Anyhow, J dual enrolled at the local state college. In Florida, students are able to take up to ten credits during the fall semester and ten during the spring semester during their junior year. So, J took Spanish 1, English Composition 101, and College Algebra. He received A's in all three classes. During the spring, he took Statistics, US History 1877 to the Present, and Spanish II. He received A's in all of those classes, too. Two of those spring semester classes started out pretty rocky, so we are extremely proud of his ability to bring those grades up.

Students who dual enroll can potentially earn an associate degree upon graduation if they take enough classes, including summer classes. J was not thrilled at the prospect of having to take classes throughout the summer, so he opted to not go for his AA. I had to swallow some pride and lower my expectations and let him make those decisions.

Besides the college classes, J took a history class and a speech class at our co-op. At home, he has been working through Apologia's Advanced Biology: Human Anatomy course. Since J has also been working part time, I have allowed him to take more time to finish this. Now, I just need him to finish it up. He has recently dissected a cow eyeball and a cow heart. His last dissection will be a fetal pig. Yep, right here on my dining room table. My youngest, P, has decided she never wants to dissect anything!

My middle child, N, has finished up his freshman year of high school. That was a big change for both of us. I learned I'll need to put my foot down a bit more when it comes to school vs. computer next year, though. For math, we used Mr. D Math. When we were at the FPEA Convention in Orlando last year, I was looking for a good math program for N. He didn't like Teaching Textbooks. As I searched the vendor hall, I saw Mr. D's booth. As I began talking to him, some of his former students ran up to him, shouting, "Mr. D!" At that point, I was sold. I think it speaks volumes when kids are that excited about one of their teachers. When N met him later, he was sold as well. He liked some of the features that weren't present with Teaching Textbooks. So, N worked through Algebra II this year. Mr. D Math is an online math curriculum. We chose to use the class that included a once-a-week, live, online seminar. 

He also studied Biology through Apologia, Writing through WriteShop, a Compare/Contrast writing course through SchoolhouseTeachers.com, 3D Animation with Youth Digital, speech at co-op, and personal finance at co-op as well. He also studied geography and literature through what I put together on my own.

P finished seventh grade ahead of schedule. She was so anxious to get it done that she did two, sometimes three, days' worth of school each day during the last few weeks. I think her favorite class was drama at our co-op. She also took geography at our co-op, taught by yours truly using Eating Your Way Around the World. The students in my class ate things they would have never tried otherwise, like Groundnut Stew, and loved much of it. They also learned about the history, culture, traditions, government, and more of each of the countries we studied. P also studied general science using Apologia. She and N have both realized they don't like Apologia's high school books that much. They are too wordy for kinesthetic learners. I have loved Apologia, and it still works for J, but next year we'll have to do something else for P and N.

We used The Complete Writer: Writing with Skill for P's writing course and Mr. D Math's PreAlgebra course for math, and I let her choose which books she read for literature. She read 33 books throughout the year. P also dances two days a week, including teaching classes to 2- through 5-year-olds.

Our year was full. The kids learned more than what is written here. There were bits and pieces pulled in from a variety of resources to enhance learning. 

J took three SATs this year. J and N both took the PSAT, N for practice, J to try to place as a National Merit Scholar. J's SAT scores have qualified him for a scholarship. He'll take at least one more during his senior year to try to obtain more. That will be our focus next year for him—scholarships and getting accepted to colleges. 

I will do my best to keep up with this blog as this next year progresses. I will share what I learn, knowing that someone might come along and read this who can use the information next year or the year after. It always helps to learn from those who have gone before us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

David Nicholson (Christmas Book) Review

Christmas Book Review
David Nicholson, a retired teacher and short-term missionary, has taken a tale that was written more than 75 years ago and given it new life—If He Had Not Come. This is a short story, covering just 14 pages of this 40-page hardcover book. Written originally by Nan Weeks, David heard it in his adult Sunday School class and read it over and over again to his family at Christmastime. 

Though If He Had Not Come is written so that children as young as 6 can fully understand it and be fascinated by the concept, older children and adults will be captivated by the proposition—what would life be like for us all if Jesus had never come to earth? This idea is reminiscent of George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, except George wishes he had never been born. In this book, we are given a glimpse, albeit a small one, into what life would be like if Jesus had not come to earth as a baby, if God had not made the way of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ.

The premise set forth in this book is a very interesting and thought-provoking one, but I would have loved it if it were longer. I understand that David was taking Nan Weeks' story and reintroducing it, but so much more could be added to it. I also found it odd that all throughout the town there were signs that said, "If He Had Not Come." My kids and I just kept thinking, "If He had not come, there wouldn't be signs that said, 'If He Had Not Come.'" There also wouldn't be a gate standing where the Children's Home once stood. It would have never been there in the first place. I suppose if it is just a dream, anything can happen. It just seemed a little inconsistent to me and my kids.

The illustrations are done well. They provide a rustic touch to this reintroduction of a 75-year-old story.

Probably the best thing about this book, in my opinion, is what is found after the story has ended. David Nicholson provides interactive topics for families and Sunday School teachers. These six topics encourage discussion about Scripture, our thoughts and feelings, and the way things are today compared to when the book was originally written.

There is a page called "Going Deeper." This was written by Josh Mulvihill, a pastor in Minnesota. He delves into Scripture to help us find out why Jesus did come to earth and what it would mean for us if He had not come. Lastly, the Gospel message is presented, in the ABC format—Admit you are a sinner separated from a perfect God, Believe in your heart that Jesus is Savior, and Confess with your mouth and receive God's gift of salvation. There is also a prayer of salvation on the bottom of the page.

If He Had Not Come is a full-color, 8.5 x 11 book. It retails for $18.95 for the hardcover edition and also sells as an e-Book for $3.99.

Christmas Book Review

Find David Nicholson on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/If-He-Had-Not-Come/1543755249189773?ref=tn_tnmn
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Monday, November 3, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo Review: Fast Track Bible Pack

Our family is not new to Wizzy Gizmo, having reviewed one of their audio dramas in the past. This is a company with a heart for teaching children God's Word. The folks at Wizzy Gizmo have created many amazing Christian education resources. This time, we received the Fast Track Bible Pack. Selling for just $14.99, these New Testament flash cards are a wonderful way to supplement Bible time with your family.

Each card summarizes one book of the New Testament. It details the number of chapters included, who wrote it, and when it was written. On the back, it provides the theme, a brief outline, key chapters, key verses, key passages, key doctrines, and key people. These cards are an invaluable resource.

I have often found myself wishing that I had information about the books of the Bible in one easy place so that I might relay that information to my kids. Wizzy Gizmo has provided that place. For kids and parents who are looking to memorize Scripture, the key passages are perfect.

The book summaries on the front of the cards are extremely easy to understand and are written on a personal level, sometimes asking questions of the reader. A key verse is provided as well.

I like these cards because they are a very heavyweight card stock. So, they should last a long time. They are also extremely colorful but not too busy as to distract the reader. The website provides suggestions for using these cards with various age ranges, from 2 through adult. Yes, even adults can learn a great deal from these cards. They're convenient enough to put in my Bible or another book so that I can take the one I'm working on with me. When I've got a little downtime, I can slip it out and read it over. The more often I or my kids read them, the better we remember the information.

The cards are biblically sound. I did not come across anything that would speak contrary to what the Bible says.

Some of the other products available include: "Who Created Everything?" audio drama and book (Genesis chapter one) and In His Image book (Genesis chapter two).

Read other reviews of the Fast Track Bible Pack and other products here: http://homeschoolmosaics.com/wizzy-gizmo/.

You can find Wizzy Gizmo on these other social media platforms:

*I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.*