Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Do You Expect?

I'm going to take a temporary diversion from the 50 states. I will post about Vermont tomorrow. I wanted to talk about something that has been on my heart for the past few days. I would be remiss if I didn't share it.

I often hear women complaining about their husbands—what they don't do, what the wives wish they would do, how they just "don't understand me." I am not perfect; I have had my fair share of gripes.

We could just bat away the gripes and complaints by stating that that is just how married people are the longer they are married. Well, I don't like that answer. I love my husband, and I want to have the BEST marriage possible, not one where I constantly complain because my marriage doesn't meet my expectations. I don't want to be discontent because my husband doesn't meet my expectations.

Your knee-jerk reaction may be to comment on this post and tell me that it is not within my rights to have expectations and that that is what my problem is. Please don't comment yet, just keep reading.

As mothers we are teachers; it comes with the territory. You may not be a public school teacher. You may not even homeschool. If you have children, though, you are a teacher. Most mothers spend time teaching their children basic preschool skills when they are young like colors, numbers, and shapes. Most mothers, hopefully, teach their children to respect others and be kind. They teach things like "Please," "Thank you," and "You're welcome." As teachers, we set expectations on our "students." As they are taught colors, we expect that they will eventually know them without needing help. We expect that our children will one day be able to read without our needing to read to them. We hope that, as they mature, they will be polite and respectful to others when we are not around to remind them of their responsibilities.

I think we are so immersed in this role that we are unable to remove ourselves from it when it comes to our husbands. We continue to teach. We continue to expect.

The Bible tells us to train up our children. I don't know of one passage that tells us wives to train up our husbands. Our husbands are grown. It is not our job to train them; that has hopefully been done already. We are to respect our husbands, build them up, thank them for loving us and providing for us and protecting us.

I hope that all husbands desire to grow and mature as fathers and husbands. For that, though, they need to go to God and allow the Holy Spirit to teach them. They need to go to older, wiser men who can mentor them. It is not our job. We don't know what they need. We think we do, but we really don't. Some women may think they understand men, but they don't, just like men don't understand women.

How would you finish this sentence: I expect my husband to...?

Now, what was your attitude when you finished that sentence?

Who were you really thinking of?

Most of the time we say things like, "I expect my husband to mow the lawn" or "I expect my husband to know what I'm thinking." (That one is hilarious.) Let me address that second one. The only way your husband will ever know what you are thinking is if you tell him. He will not be able to read your mind. (Hey guys, this goes both ways.) If he seems quiet and distant, he is probably deep in thought about something which has absolutely nothing to do with you. If you are curious, ask him politely, not accusingly, "What has you so deep in thought? Is there anything I can help you figure out?" DON'T MAKE IT  ABOUT YOU! Did you enter marriage expecting to be in charge or thinking that you'd get everything you wanted the way you wanted it? If so, you'd better correct your way of thinking or there will be two very unhappy people for a long time.

Instead of expecting our husbands to satisfy our every whim and desire, perhaps we can turn that expectation around and find out what we could and should expect from ourselves. If we could objectively view ourselves and tell ourselves what we expect from ourselves in our marriage, we might have a better perspective on things. We may be more content.

I could say, "Tammie, I expect that today you will call your husband and tell him that you love him and ask him how his day is going."

"I expect that you will pray for your husband everyday."

"I expect that you will not be snippy with him."

"I expect that you will not hit him up with a to-do list as soon as he walks in the door after work" (or after you get home from work, if you are the one who goes outside of the home).

"I expect that you will teach your children, from a very early age, to respect their dad and obey him."

Could you expect any of these things from yourself? What other things could you expect?

Better yet, what does God expect from you as a wife? I know for certain he does not expect you to teach your husband. I know for certain that it is not for you to expect things from him. Who are we as wives to judge our husbands and the progress they are making in life? What is the standard by which we measure them? Ourselves? Wow, I hope not! We are no better than they are.

Let's vow to change the stereotype. Let's be thankful wives with expectations of ourselves to show love and respect and to stop being the martyr in our marriages. It really IS NOT all about us!

Friday, April 25, 2014

CTC Math Review

CTC Math Review

We were given the opportunity to review CTC Math's 12-Month Family Plan. CTC Math is an online math tutoring program that teaches kindergarten math through calculus. The tutor speaks with an Australian accent, so I found the lessons very enjoyable to listen to. A curriculum appropriate to United States standards can be chosen. There were a few things that seemed odd, like in the geometry lesson when he talked about the kite shape and the trapezium. I don't recall ever having learned that there is a specific "kite" shape, and we call the trapezium a trapezoid here in the United States.

The 12-month program is $118.80. This is the current sale price. The $118.80 allows the subscriber to use CTC Math for the whole family. I used the program with two of my children, one who was struggling and one who needed to review algebra to prepare for his upcoming SAT. My struggling learner truly dislikes math, so she did her lessons begrudgingly. We started with a lesson to help her understand rate, which was what she was having a hard time learning at the point we received CTC Math. Each lesson is very detailed and provides many examples to be sure the student has grasped the concept.

With a better understanding of rate under her belt, she then reviewed fractions, which was her least favorite and least understood math topic. This is all the further she got. She finished this section with a 91% and received a silver award. Whenever students finish a section, they are given an award. A gold award is received when the student achieves 95% or higher. My daughter used CTC Math as a tutoring and review system to enhance her understanding of a couple of topics.

After she listened to the tutor, she then clicked "Questions," which brought up an interactive screen with a question and a field in which to answer. She entered her answer and clicked "Submit." A green check or a red "x" appeared, letting her know her answer was right or wrong. Each lesson provides 10 questions in total. Once the lesson was complete, I had the option of printing out the worksheet with her answers on it. My daughter was also given the option of answering more questions if she had trouble understanding the concept. We did use this "More Questions" option with one of the topics she still struggled with. She could also take standard tests of the information learned in the lesson or a comprehensive test which included previously learned information.

CTC Math Review

My son is in 10th grade. I noticed that the program functions a bit differently for those in higher grade levels. Instead of interactive questions, he was given a worksheet after each lesson. As he worked through the questions on the worksheet, he would then match up his answer with one of the answers provided (in a matching format). He then needed to open a separate tab where he could enter his letter answers. The results page could be opened in conjunction with the worksheet. It didn't disappear when he went back to the worksheet but remained available. He could also zoom in or out of the worksheet if he wanted to have the questions and the possible answers visible at the same time. If he answered a question wrong on the worksheet once he submitted the results, it allowed him to fix the mistake. It then took the average of the three best attempts.

At the beginning of each new week, I received a progress report for each student. This showed the specific topic, the average of the three best attempts, the first attempt, the high attempt, the number of attempts, the number of attempts to pass, and the date passed. This is a very useful form that can be printed out, if need be, for portfolios at the end of the year. It provides an extremely concise picture of what the student learned and his/her math proficiency.

Speed skills can also be practiced. There are four levels of skills, and each level has increasing difficulty. For example, level 1 has addition and subtraction. Level 4 has addition, subtraction, multiplication, division with a remainder, and order of operations.

Because my daughter dislikes math so much, she will probably not continue with this program. My son, however, will continue using this program so that he can learn as much algebra as possible. He is learning quite a bit by using this as his sole math program. He enjoys the fact that it is interactive, though he is not thrilled about the number of problems in some of the lessons or the challenging problems. The nice thing about this program, though, is that it provides multiple attempts. The student doesn't feel defeated when they get a low grade because they know that they can bring it up.

I would recommend CTC Math for anyone with a struggling learner or a child who needs to further understand certain math concepts. It also works well as a stand-alone math program.

Visit CTC Math on Facebook at

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Home School Adventure Co.: Philosophy Adventure Review

 Home School Adventure Co.

A month and a half ago, we received the digital version of Philosophy Adventure, by Stacy Farrell, from Home School Adventure Co. A great deal of time and effort was put into producing this curriculum as can be seen by the wealth of information contained within it, as well as the numerous activities that have been created for the student. Because Philosophy Adventure not only teaches about the philosophers but also teaches writing skills, critical thinking skills, and speaking skills, I wanted to do this review with my high schooler.

The philosophers discussed in this curriculum are not your typical such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, although they are mentioned. The philosophers we learned about were Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Protagoras, and Democritus. Some of the things learned about the philosophers were the title they were given such as Thales being called the "Father of Western Philosophy," a famous quote ascribed to them, and then as much of their history as could be found through various sources.

Included in the completely digital version, which sells for $39.95, is a reader that contains the stories, writing lessons, critical thinking lessons, public speaking lessons, geography of the region in which they lived, exposure to primary sources, and a biblical worldview of the philosopher and/or his teaching; a student workbook with questions, maps, quizzes, and tests; and a teacher resource book with answer keys to tests and maps, memory cards, and a timeline. As you can see from the books below, it is a beautiful curriculum; it is full of paintings, photos, and other images to help enhance learning.

Philosophy AdventurePhilosophy Adventure

I myself am a book person. I personally prefer a tangible product to a digital one. I am able to organize my thoughts and schedule better if I can have everything laid out in front of me. For this reason, I wish I would have had the reader, at the very least, in print format. Of course, the more print items you order, the greater the cost. To have the reader and student workbook in print, the cost is $89.95. The teacher's resource book comes on a CD. For $69.95, you can have the reader in print and the student workbook and teacher's resources on CD. If you want everything on a CD, that would be $49.95. Until May 15, a discount has been extended to anybody who orders the download version. Simply use the "Crew-10" code at checkout to save 10%.

Home School Adventure Co.

Philosophy Adventure is geared towards students in 6th through 12th grade. My son with whom I reviewed this product is in 10th grade. I think we were both overwhelmed by the amount of work. This curriculum could easily count as a high school credit if he did a substantial amount of the activities included in it. (There is a section in the reader that discusses how to allocate credit.)

When I asked my son what his opinion of the product was, he said that there were some things that he liked about it, such as learning about the different philosophers, but he didn't like that there were so many activities to go along with each philosopher. I think that if we had spread the work out a bit more neither of us would have felt so overwhelmed. A suggested five-day schedule is provided in the reader. It would be a good idea to follow this, spreading things out a bit further if needed.

My suggestion to anyone who might purchase this curriculum is to read through the table of contents in each book and decide which activities you will require your student to do and print those things out. It is not necessary to print the entire reader (if you have the CD or download version), but you should print the student pages, quizzes, maps, and tests. If you want to use the memory cards and timeline, have those ready before you begin using this curriculum.

Philosophy Adventure can be used in conjunction with Philippians in 28 Weeks and The Wise Woman, which are two other resources that are available from Home School Adventure Co. The presentation of a biblical worldview alongside each of these philosophers is invaluable, as many of their ideas did not line up with Scripture. It is almost as if it provides a safety net for learning about these different ideas because God's Word is the standard against which all things are judged.

I also like that contemporaries of each of the philosophers are listed in the reader on the first page of each new person. These contemporaries include people from the Bible, like Daniel and Ezekiel. It helps to keep things in perspective.

I was grateful that Stacy Farrell provided pronunciation after names and terms that may have been new and definitions and explanation of other terms. She was very thorough in writing this curriculum, making sure that everything could be understood by the student.

The writing assignments build on one another as students begin with a rough draft and end up with a polished copy that can then be reviewed by peers for feedback. We did not get to the polished copy stage or the peer review stage with my son's work, but he was able to learn some techniques through the assignments such as adding pauses, alliteration, supporting conclusions, etc.

I have mixed feelings about this curriculum. It is incredible! It is put together very well and teaches a lot of information that my son has never learned anywhere else. Stacy Farrell writes in an engaging way so as not to bore the reader. There are so many great things about this curriculum. Perhaps my biggest complaint is simply that I didn't have enough time to use it the way it should be used. If I had had the print version of the reader and could have created a schedule for a year or even a half of a year, we would have been less overwhelmed. I may revisit this curriculum at the beginning of my son's junior year. Be sure to click the "Schoolhouse Review Crew" graphic below to read more reviews.

Visit Home School Adventure Co on these social media outlets:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, April 20, 2014

50 States: Utah


In 1848, the United States was given land through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo after winning the Mexican War. The area that is now Utah was included in this treaty. The history of Utah between 1848 and 1896 when they achieved statehood is unlike any other state in the Union. The Mormons, who were now residing in this area, wanted to create a state named "Deseret," but Congress refused to allow such a large area of land become a state. As the Mormons fought for statehood, it was revealed that they practiced polygamy which was frowned upon by the rest of the country. Congress refused to grant statehood because of this discovery. Over the next nearly 50 years, Utahns would fight for statehood. They had to make concessions in their state constitution, like banning polygamy, before it was granted. Finally, on January 4, 1896, Utah (UT) became our 45th state.

Utah is nearly 85,000 square miles; that makes it the 13th biggest state. The name "Utah" comes from the Native American tribe—"Ute." Salt Lake City is the capital and also the biggest city in the state. The nickname is the Beehive State; it represents hard work and industry. It stands to reason the state insect is the honeybee. Utah's motto is "Industry."

People who lives in Utah are referred to as Utahans or Utahns. A few of the famous people born here include:

J. Willard Marriott...entrepreneur
Butch Cassidy...outlaw
Marie Osmond...singer, actress
Donny Osmond...singer, actor
Philo T. Farnsworth...inventor
Wallace Henry

Other famous people have been born in Utah, though perhaps not quite as noteworthy, including some actors, athletes, and scientists.

Research Question: What did Marriott create? What did Farnsworth invent? What did Thurman write?

Some other famous beings that once resided in Utah include Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Coelophysis, Diplodocus, Iguanodon, Ornithomimus, Parasaurolophus, Stegosaurus, Utahraptor. These are just a few of the many dinosaur fossils that have been found in Utah.

The Utah state flag was adopted in 1913. A bald eagle sits atop a beehive, with the motto "Industry" in between. There are two flags and two dates: 1847 is the year the Mormons found religious freedom in Utah, and 1896 is the year Utah became a state.

Other state symbols are:

Bird...California Sea gull
Animal...Rocky Mountain Elk
Fish...Bonneville Cutthroat Trout
Flower...Sego Lily
Tree...Blue Spruce

You may be wondering what there is to do in Utah. I was amazed by what I found. There are a ton of interesting and beautiful places. Besides aquariums, museums, and numerous ski resorts, here are some other things to see while in Utah:

Zion National Park in Springdale
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park in Moab
Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey
Arches National Park in Moab
Lake Powell
Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City
Thanksgiving Point Museum in Lehi
Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington
This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City
Cedar Breaks National Monument in Cedar City
Snow Canyon State Park
Natural Bridges National Monument in Lake Powell

The Sundance Film Festival takes place each year in Park City.

*The Great Salt Lake is 75 miles long and 35 miles wide. Great Salt Lake is, by definition, salty. Do you know why? (This is a good research topic.)

Check out this fun Utah learning site for kids.

The following items are available on If you purchase through my site, I will receive a commission since I am an affiliate.

22687DF: Utah State History Lapbook Journal - PDF Download [Download] Utah State History Lapbook Journal - PDF Download [Download]
By Cyndi Kinney & Judy Trout / Knowledge Box Central

Get to know Utah with Knowledge Box Central's Utah State History Lapbook Journal!

This Lapbook Journal PDF download is designed for students in grades 6-12 and includes both a study guide, as well as lapbook and journal pages in a single PDF file. The included state-specific study guide provides background material, historical notes, and other factual information; students will explore state symbols, songs, landmarks, famous people, geographical regions, timelines of historical events, and more. Parents should note that this study guide is identical to the study guide in the sold-separately lapbooks (which are designed for children in Grades K-8) so that parents can cover the information once with students of all ages.

Six lapbook booklets, journal pages, and blank report pages are provided in one PDF file. The journal section provides room for students to document what he or she has learned during the study; students can choose to create several booklets in the lapbook section to help improve retention of the information. Students will complete booklets and journal pages with information on the state's populations and borders, state symbols, elected officials, natural wonders, state monuments, and more.

This lapbook resource is in downloadable PDF format. All elements are in a single PDF.

736496: FalconGuide to Dinosaur National Monument, 2nd Utah-Colorado FalconGuide to Dinosaur National Monument, 2nd Utah-Colorado
By Globe Pequot

Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah-Colorado border offers an awesome collection of dinosaur fossils, strikingly beautiful canyons, mysterious prehistoric rock art, and geological formations. Use A FalconGuide to Dinosaur National Monument to explore the parks 330 square miles and discover the best scenic vistas and wilderness experiences in this remarkable and ancient landscape. Speaks of millions of years.

Look inside to find:

  • comprehensive information about Douglass Dinosaur Quarry
  • facts about the area's history, flora and fauna, and weather
  • detailed maps, trail descriptions, driving tours, and nature hikes
  • options for running the Green River and the Yampa River
  • lists of monument contacts, commercial raft companies, and shuttle services

  • 743865: Utah Curiosities Utah Curiosities
    By Globe Pequot

    725664: Hiking Utah, 3rd Hiking Utah, 3rd
    By Globe Pequot

    755573: The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth
    By Kathleen Krull & Greg Couch (Illustrator) / Dragonfly Books

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Curiosity Quest Review

    Curiosity Quest Review

    My kids and I enjoy watching movies and videos. I especially like educational videos. As long as they are interesting, my kids will sit and watch them with me. My initial interest in Curiosity Quest was related to the fact that the "Swimmers of the Sea" DVD combo pack had an episode about sea turtles, and there was a chance my son would be working with sea turtles this summer as a volunteer opportunity. We received two combo packs to review: DVD Combo Pack - Produce which discussed mushrooms, cranberries, and oranges and DVD Combo Pack -Swimmers of the Sea which discussed penguins, sea turtles, and penguins.

    Curiosity Quest Review Curiosity Quest Review

    Curiosity Quest Review
    Cranberry Marsh
    Each of the combo packs has three episodes that are each between 25 and 30 minutes long. The website says that these DVDs are geared towards children ages 7-14. They are definitely appropriate for younger children. There is nothing offensive in them whatsoever, and there are segments in each video where the host, Joel Greene, asks kids questions about the topic being discussed. For example, he asked kids "on the corner" what harvesting was. Some of their answers were funny; some were correct, and some were totally off the mark. There is also a "Fun Fact" segment that is only a few seconds long when some little known fact is shared by a child. In one episode, it was obvious the child was nervous. In another episode, that particular child was simply adorable. While these videos may be geared towards children 7-14, I'd say they should be appropriate for 7-adult. Joel Greene is obviously doing what he was made to do—ask questions and teach. In each episode, I don't think he leaves a question unasked. As I watched him being taught about mushrooms, oranges, cranberries, etc., by the expert in the video, I'd think of a question. No sooner did I think of one than he asked the question I was thinking of. Joel's enthusiasm and genuine excitement for what he was learning was contagious. I find myself wanting to watch all of the videos he has made.

    Curiosity Quest ReviewCuriosity Quest ReviewOne afternoon I had to run out for a bit. When I arrived home, there were pictures of sea turtles on our whiteboard, and my daughter began relating to me all of these facts that she had learned after watching the sea turtles' segment on the "Swimmers of the Sea" Combo Pack. They watched a segment without me! You can see from the pictures why these videos are able to captivate our attention. The video is crisp. (There were a couple of minor glitches while I watched them, but it may have been because I was watching some of the videos on my laptop. When I watched them using my DVD player and television, I didn't notice a problem.) Joel is always smiling and laughing, and he isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. He is like the kid-friendly version of Mike Rowe.

    There is so much information packed into these half-hour-long episodes. I learned practical things like putting your fruit into brown paper bags to speed up the ripening process by capturing the ethylene gas. This is the same way they ripen oranges, but on a larger scale and without the paper bag, before they ship them to the stores. I know my children learned quite a bit as well. These videos are so much more engaging than traditional science/educational videos. 

    Joel Greene does it right! I love these videos!

    Curiosity Quest Review
    Picking Oranges

    Curiosity Quest Review
    Salmon Ladder
    Each of the DVD Combo Packs sells for $24.95. Some of the other DVDs  available (prices vary) are Bread Making, Dog Sledding, Jelly Belly, Tom's Toothpaste, LegoLand, Home Building, Tiger Rescue, and so on. Curiosity Quest also has memberships through which videos can be delivered to your door with homeschool-appropriate curriculum to go along with them. It is obvious that a lot of time and effort have gone into these videos, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to review them with my children.

    Find Curiosity Quest on these social media outlets:

    Click to read Crew Reviews

    Crew Disclaimer

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    50 States: Texas


    You've heard the saying, "Everything's bigger in Texas," right? This began as a slogan to encourage people to visit our nation's second largest state. (Which is the first largest?) What do they say is bigger in Texas than anywhere else? Well, they say pride is bigger there, along with hair, BBQs, guns, steaks, religion, advertising, statues, rodeos, hats, trucks, and boots.

    Texas (TX) is our 28th state. It became a state on December 29, 1845. The capital is Austin, and the largest city is Houston. The nearly 26.5 million people who call Texas home are referred to as Texans. Some famous people born in Texas include: 

    George Strait...singer, songwriter
    Tommy Lee
    Willie Nelson...singer
    Janis Joplin...singer
    Dwight D. Eisenhower...President
    Mary Kay Ash...founder of Mary Kay
    Drew player
    Lisa Welchel...actress
    Hilary Duff...actress/singer
    Kelly Clarkson...singer
    Barry producer
    Michael Dell...founder of Dell Computers
    Kenny Rogers...singer
    Dan anchor
    Chester Nimitz...military leader
    Scott Joplin...pianist
    Lyndon B. Johnson...President
    Buddy Holly...singer

    There are many more I did not list. It seems Texas is big with singer, songwriters, and actors, too!

    Texas' nickname is "The Lone Star State." On its flag, there is one star. It is said that the red represents bravery, blue loyalty, and white purity. This flag was adopted in 1845 when Texas became a state, but the star was used as early as the 1830s when Texas fought against Mexico.

    Watch a Texas Independence Day video. In 4-1/2 minutes, the speaker gives a history and an explanation of what makes Texas great. (Consider watching it in full screen to avoid potentially offensive ads in the margin.)

    The state symbols of Texas are:

    Large mammal...Texas longhorn

    Small mammal...Armadillo
    Flying mammal...Free-tailed bat
    Insect...Monarch butterfly
    Plant...Prickly Pear Cactus
    Vegetable...Sweet Onion

    What is there to do in Texas? You can visit the Alamo. Be sure to read the history of the Alamo, either on the Official Alamo website or some other history site or book. Visit the Sixth Floor Museum, all about John F. Kennedy, in Dallas. There is a Six Flags and a Sea World. Dallas also has an aquarium and an art museum. The Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin tells the story of Texas. Houston has a zoo and a museum of natural science. The Space Center in Houston is the visitor center for the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The Texas State Aquarium is located in Corpus Christi. The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in La Porte memorializes the decisive battle in the fight for Texas' Independence from Mexico. You can also tour Battleship Texas State Historic Site in La Porte. There are numerous forts and other battleships that can be toured throughout Texas. Cadillac Ranch in Potter County is a large art sculpture. Situated in Austin is the LBJ Library and Museum. If you're in Houston, don't forget to visit the Astrodome, which was the first sports stadium with a dome.

    Texas Parks and Wildlife has a website where kids can learn about the different regions of Texas and can even download activity books that teach about insects, birds, Indians, etc. These look to be wonderful resources. Be aware that they do speak of millions of years, however.

    Did you know?

    -Dr. Pepper was invented in Waco.
    -Texas has the most farmland of any state.
    -There are nearly 16 million heads of cattle in Texas. 
    -There is a ranch in Texas that is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
    -Texas produces more wool than any other state.
    -After the War with Mexico, Texas was an independent nation until it became a state.
    -The Waco Bridge was the first suspension bridge in the U.S.
    -Over 8000 people died when a hurricane hit Galveston in 1900.
    -Stealing cattle is still a hanging offense.
    -Texas comes from an Indian word, Tejas, meaning "friends."
    -Texas is the state with the most tornadoes per year.
    -Texas is the only state that entered the Union by way of a treaty.
    -The Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement agency in America. Chuck Norris is an honorary Texas Ranger.

    The following items are available through If you purchase through my blog, I will receive a commission.

    846546: Texas Texas
    By Dana Maechen Rau & Catherine Gardner(Editor) / Gareth Stevens Publishing

    Each volume in the Portrait of the States series is a colorful, comprehensive portrait that features state facts and symbols and describes the history, people, land, economy, and government of that state. Young students will be engaged by the "Fun Facts" sprinkled throughout and the chapter on "Fun Things to See and Do." 32 pages, paperback

    41266EB: Stephen F. Austin: The Son Becomes the Father of Texas - eBook Stephen F. Austin: The Son Becomes the Father of Texas - eBook
    By Mary Dodson Wade / Bright Sky Press

    227264: Our Texas Our Texas
    By Jackie Mims Hopkins / Charlesbridge Publishing

    Move through the giant state of Texas city by city! Starting off in Brownsville (where citrus is grown) and moving through Gonzales, Houston, Piney Woods, El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, and plenty of other towns, the bright illustrations complement the short poems that tell readers something unique about each place. The back of the book goes through the locations again, this time with new star-pointed facts. 48 pages, paperback. Ages 9-12.

    712732: More than Petticoats: Remarkable Texas Women More than Petticoats: Remarkable Texas Women
    By Globe Pequot

    More than Petticoats: Remarkable Texas Women explores the history of the Lone Star State through the stories of ten remarkable women whose courage and contributions made a profound impact on Texas. These pioneering women exhibited strength and triumph through their work as doctors, entrepreneurs, journalists, civil rights advocates, and more. All ten women, born before 1900, faced incredible challenges. Read about their exceptional lives in this collection of brief and absorbing biographies. 128 pages, black-and-white photos.

    212339: Line In The Sand Line In The Sand
    By Randy Roberts, James S. Olson / Simon & Schuster

    Randy Roberts and James S. Olson retell the story of the Alamo from both the Mexican and the American perspectives, delving into the historical accuracy of such myths as Bowie's famous line in the sand and Crockett's celebrated fight to the death. Separating fact from fiction, they trace how and why those fictions grew, from the rapid spread of the rallying cry "Remember the Alamo!" to the "patriotic" depictions of battle in American films to the potency of the Alamo as a symbol in Texas politics and American culture today.

    8467108: What Was the Alamo? What Was the Alamo?
    By Meg Belviso, Pam Pollack & David Groff(Illustrator) / Grosset & Dunlap

    "Remember the Alamo!" is still a rallying cry more than 175 years after the siege in Texas. Find out why! Two hundred Americans held off more than two thousand soldiers of the Mexican Army for twelve days before defeat. Only two Texans survived. The siege was a crucial turning point in the Texas Revolution and led to the creation of the Republic of Texas. With 80 black-and-white illustrations throughout and a 16-page black-and-white photo insert, young readers will relive the battle of the Alamo!

    852475: The Alamo: A Radio Dramatization The Alamo: A Radio Dramatization
    By Jerry Robbins & The Colonial Radio Players / Colonial Radio Theatre on Brilliance Audio

    General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna arrives in San Antonio with 6,000 troops and begins to besiege the Alamo for 13 days. Flying a red flag and playing the El Deguello (cut the throat), Santa Anna signals that no quarter will be given to the defenders.

    You will be there with David Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis, and 16-year-old David Cummings as they fight to the bitter end in this spectacular epic production of one of the world's most famous battles.

    Unabridged audio CD; approximately 1 hour 14 minutes; 1 CD; performed by Jerry Robbins and The Colonial Radio Players.

    189875: Flat Stanley"s Worldwide Adventures #10: Showdown at the Alamo Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #10: Showdown at the Alamo
    By Jeff Brown & Macky Pamintuan(Illustrator) / Harpercollins Publishing

    117445: In the Shadow of the Alamo In the Shadow of the Alamo
    By Sherry Garland / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Fifteen-year-old Lorenzo never intended to be a soldier. But when the soldados raid his tiny Mexican village, he finds himself forced to join General Santa Anna's Alamo-bound army. Ideal for unit studies, this bittersweet adventure skillfully weaves the complexities of wartime with cultural details, Spanish vocabulary, and historical background. Glossary included. Ages 11 to 14. 282 pages, hardcover from Harcourt Brace.

    122685: Texas Stories: I Like to Tell My Friends Texas Stories: I Like to Tell My Friends
    By T. Lindsay Baker / Abilene Christian University Press

    48176EB: On to the Alamo: Colonel Crockett"s Exploits and Adventures in Texas - eBook On to the Alamo: Colonel Crockett's Exploits and Adventures in Texas - eBook
    By John Seelye / Penguin Classics

    David "Davy" Crockett (1786-1836) was born in Tennessee, fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, and later served three terms in the House of Representatives before heading to Texas, where he died defending the Alamo. Col. Crockett's Exploits and Adventures in Texas, first published after Crockett's death and disingenuously attributed to him, was written by Richard Penn Smith as a narrative that promoted a sanitized account of the Alamo as a heroic effort by Americans to stem the Mexican "invasion" of Texas. The story, which was a huge success in its day, created a myth of the battle that pervaded the collective American memory for more than 150 years and reinforced the image of Davy Crockett as the "King of the Frontier."

    8535374: A Treasury of Texas Tales: Unusual, Interesting, and Little-Known Stories of Texas A Treasury of Texas Tales: Unusual, Interesting, and Little-Known Stories of Texas
    By Webb B. Garrison / Thomas Nelson

    736753: Disasters and Heroic Rescues of Texas Disasters and Heroic Rescues of Texas
    By Globe Pequot

    401209: Texas History Bingo Texas History Bingo
    By Gallopade International

    There's nothing like a little on-the-spot recall to help you remember a fact! State history bingo will keep you on your mental toes. A stack of cards features spaces for squares, such as Native peoples, immigrants, state flag, books, statehood dates, state representatives, and more. Punch-out paper bingo tokens are included, as well as a "call-out" sheet, reward cards, and instructions. This state history bingo covers Texas history.

    68101: Texas Shape Stickers Texas Shape Stickers
    By Top Notch Teacher Products

    Pack of 80 stickers in the shape of Texas, red and blue with white star; each sticker is approximately 1" x 1". Show your support for Texas! Excellent classroom tool for geography and more.

    69329: Texas Bookmarks Texas Bookmarks
    By Top Notch Teacher Products

    Encourage reading with these attractive bookmarks. Colorful bookmarks appeal to kids and adults. Give as rewards or gifts! Double-sided design; 6.5" x 2"; 36 per pack.

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Victus Study Skills System Review

    Victus Study Skills Review

    When Victus Study Skills System was offered as a product to review, I was excited about being able to use a system to ensure that my son, who will be taking the SAT in May and dual enrolling in the local community college in the fall, had effective study skills. We received the student workbook and the teacher edition. I am glad we were able to review this product as we both learned quite a bit about good study habits, note taking, and test taking. Much of the information was new to my son, so this review couldn’t have been better timed.
    Victus Study Skills Review

    The teacher edition opens by explaining that the Victus Study Skills System is a way of life. The course aim is then described in both the teacher edition and the student workbook. This aim has four components. In brief, they are:

    • Zeal with knowledge bears fruit.
    • Results come from the process.
    • Any system must have a purpose. 
    • An effective study system has the greatest likelihood of aiding in success.
    The ten lessons are broken down into three foundational cornerstones: Where am I now? Where do I want to be? and How do I get there? Each of the lessons is extremely interactive. In order for my son to get an idea of where he is now, he took a study habits checklist to see what he does "never," "sometimes," and "often." He found out what his learning strength is. It occurred to me after going through the Victus Study Skills System that he never knew he is an auditory learner. It all made sense to him then that he reads certain things out loud and tries to work out his math problems by speaking them. Not only did he learn his strength, he also learned what sorts of things he should do to capitalize on that strength. For example, auditory learners should read aloud whenever they are able to and create some sort of mnemonic like a poem or a song to help them remember information.

    The second section—Where do I want to be?—shares the stories of some famous people and the struggles they went through to achieve their goals. I appreciated this. It is always good for young people to gain some perspective so that they are not discouraged when things are difficult. Difficulties can be overcome if they persevere. An important part of this second section is learning how to set goals and actually setting some for the fall, spring, and summer. Charts are provided and are broken down into goal, objective, and action plan headings and are further broken down into financial, intellectual, community service, spiritual/emotional, physical fitness/health, and more. My son felt this was probably the most difficult part of the system. Setting goals that are measurable, realistic, etc., are sometimes hard to do, especially if you haven't spent much time thinking about them. As his life changes, goal setting may become easier. We'll have to readdress this part of the system.

    The third cornerstone—How do I get there?—is the most instructional unit. The bulk of the study skills are taught here. Fill-in-the-blank worksheets are provided so the student can fill things in as the teacher reads the items from the teacher edition. This way they are hearing the words, seeing the words, and actually writing the words. The workbook is full of creative images, used to break up what could otherwise be a dull study. All of the answers are provided in the teacher edition for the worksheets, except for the final test. The fact that the final test answers weren't available was probably the most frustrating thing about the whole study skills system. It meant that I had to search for the answers myself. This was not the best thing for my already busy day.

    Some of the topics in this third unit are time management, organization, and preparing an adequate study environment. Another lesson, "PQRST," explains the process of studying. It all seems so simple. When did we forget these basic elements of proper study habits? I went through this program with my high schooler, but it dawned on me today that I should use it with my sixth grader for her history. There is a lot of information to remember for the tests, and although she does well on most of them, I'd love for her to remember what she has learned beyond the test. The "Be an Active Listener" and "Note Taking Hints" lessons provide many great tips like being brief when taking notes by using abbreviations, not crossing t's or dotting i's, and going home and rewriting class notes. Since we homeschool, some of this information seemed irrelevant for life at this moment, but I know as my son begins dual enrollment in the fall he will need to remember what he has learned through this program. The final lesson in this unit talks about test preparation and strategies for taking the test. Despite the fact that we completed the Victus Study Skills System, my son forgot to apply what he learned when taking his end-of-the-year examination. He didn't read through the problems to do the easy ones first. He didn't look for cues and ended up leaving many math problems unfinished.

    In order to get the most benefit from this program, you have to apply the skills taught in this program to this program. The skills must be reviewed again and again until they are second nature. I am hoping to have enough practice with my son with other tests and new chapters in his regular school work before he takes his first SAT in May. It would be wonderful if he could enter that exam with the skills necessary to do well on it.

    The appendices contain useful information about organization, time management, and mnemonic devices. PQRST flashcards are available to help students remember the action that should be taken for each step, along with a grade log.

    This course can be taught to students of all ages, but it is most appropriate for those in 5th through 12th grade. Younger students will require more more instruction. The teacher edition is $40.00, and the student workbook is $20. Additional products are available, including a student DIY workbook for those times when a teacher isn't available, a PowerPoint presentation, a training video, and a booklet for adults to implement this system in their own lives.

    and Twitter @VictusStudy.

    Click to read Crew Reviews

    Crew Disclaimer