Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: This Little Prayer of Mine

I received a sweet children's book to review as part of the Blogging for Books program.  This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano showed up at my house earlier this week, and Trina insisted that I read it to her, oh, the moment she first saw it.

I was happy to oblige.

From the publisher:
I know you're up in heaven, God,
and can hear my voice from there.
I'm just a little child.
Will you answer my short prayer?

So begins this delightful book that affirms God's readiness to answer our prayers, no matter what our age.

With engaging rhymes and beautiful illustrations, This Little Prayer of Mine assures children that God is always near--watching, listening, caring, and eager to respond to their requests. They'll also learn that prayer isn't just about asking for things, but about sharing their feelings of sadness and uncertainty as well as of thanksgiving and joy.

Most importanly, This Little Prayer of Mine reminds children—and those who love them—that they can trust God to tenderly care for them, no matter what the future holds.
Trina snuggled up with me, as this was a book that screamed out to be read all snuggled up.  She adored the amazing illustrations by Mark Elliott.  The first page has a little girl with her ponytails and in her footed pajamas, kneeling by the bed with her slightly older brother -- with mom ("whose ponytail looks just like yours, Mom!") peeking around to see.  Oh, yeah, Trina was totally enthralled.

The first time through the book I don't think Trina got much of a message.  Mostly it was, "Look, Richard would love that biplane!" or "her doll looks just like mine!"  In other words, she was totally engrossed in the illustrations.  And there are plenty of amazing lessons to be drawn just from them -- the very sad little boy on the steps, the boy wanting to go play instead of going to school.  We had some fabulous conversations.

On subsequent journeys through the story, she is starting to hear the text, and the message that God is there and God does care, and we can trust Him to take care of us.

Lovely book.  Absolutely lovely.

I would truly appreciate you for "ranking" my review with the link above.  Thank you!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, The Old Schoolhouse!

This post is part of a TOS 10th Anniversary Blog Hop only I can't seem to get the linky to work.  So to join up you can post about some favorite thing about The Old Schoolhouse and link up here.

The Old Schoolhouse is celebrating ten years of existence.  Wow, is all I can say.

I have no idea when I first found the magazine.  Six years ago, maybe?  But I know everytime I would receive an issue I would immediately flip to the back and read the various reviews of curriculum and books and programs.  I read reviews at various other websites and such, but those always felt so, so, so... professional.

TOS had reviews that weren't professional sounding.  And I mean that in a very complimentary way.  I read the reviews and I always felt like the person had actually USED the product.  With kids.  And they were able to tell me something about how it worked in the real, messy, not always organized world of homeschooling. 

I loved those reviews.  When I first started doing reviews of any sort (long before I started blogging), it was those reviews from The Old Schoolhouse that I tried to emulate.  Only mine are longer, LOL!

Of course, now that I'm nearing the end of my second year of actually writing reviews for the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have different reasons for loving the reviews that TOS does.  Because I'm now a part of one aspect of their reviews.  And the Crew tries to be what I so loved about the magazine reviews -- real moms with real kids using products and telling you how they really worked.  Only with the Crew, you get up to 100 different real homes talking about it.

Earlier this week, when my TOS magazine arrived, I turned first to the article about Robotics.  Because that is so incredibly timely for us.  Boy Scouts of America just released a new merit badge -- Robotics!  And Connor doesn't know it yet, but he is going to have the opportunity to work on it after his birthday this weekend.  But after reading that amazingly perfect for us article, I immediately flipped to the back and read the product reviews.  I haven't had time yet to read the rest of the magazine.  I will get there though.

Do you subscribe to the magazine?  Right now is a good time to do so.  They are offering 19 amazing gifts with a subscription at the moment.  I resubscribed, so I'm now good until 2013.  I'm loving the free gifts though... and they are on a mission to sell out of the free gifts before May 1 -- with a bonus free gift to everyone who subscribed if they do!  AND... if you do subscribe, and put my name (Debra Brinkman) in the Comments field, I get a $5 gift certificate.  If I do get any gift certificates, I'll turn it into a blog giveaway...

The free gifts have included a lapbook (on Knights, in my case!  How perfect is that for us right now?) or two (the other is for Apologia Elementary Science), some great physical books, some amazing ebooks, a Beautiful Feet guide, a DVD, a vocabulary book, computer programming lessons... these have been phenomenal.

Disclaimer: Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links.   

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Review: Latin's Not So Tough

As part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I have had the chance over the past few months to use Latin's Not So Tough Level 3 with William.  I have previously used some of the Greek material from Greek 'n' Stuff, so I was interested in seeing what the Latin program was like.

Anyone who knows me already knows that Latin is something that is important to me.  And William really hasn't had any direct instruction in Latin.  He has picked up bits and pieces of Latin, and has definitely picked up a fair amount of cultural and historical information.  When he found out were were getting this, he was really excited to finally get to start learning Latin.

Latin's Not So Tough Level 1 is intended as the starting point for very young students.  For young elementary students, Level 2 is the recommended starting point.  And "older students can easily start in the third level."  So, seeing as William is a 6th grader, Level 3 seemed to be the appropriate place to start.

Latin's Not So Tough uses an inductive approach to teaching grammar.  Inductive = a parts to whole approach.  So the student isn't learning the paradigms, or the chants (amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant).

Level 3 consists of 36 lessons, averaging almost 5 worksheets per lesson.  The idea is basically that you work through a page a day, plus go through flashcards, and this would take you through a schoolyear.

I love that concept.  One worksheet per day is pretty non-intimidating, which is a very good thing for my pencil-phobic, dyslexic child.  So, with some anticipation, we dug in.

How it worked in Our Home:

Well, we started off with the first lesson which consists of six pages of review of the alphabet.  Since all the Latin William has listened to has been using Ecclesiastical pronunciation (LNST uses Classical), much was new information.  We spent about two weeks going over this (each page consists of six letters.  Most of our time was spent on the vowels.

Then we dug into lesson 2, which consists of four pages of diphthongs and special consonants.  This also took us two weeks.  There are 16 total sounds to be learned in these four pages.  William found this really confusing, and I had to come up with other ways to reinforce the lessons.   Having flashcards would have helped.  The flashcards that you can cut out and paste onto index cards in the back of the student workbook don't include the letters or diphthongs.

We ended up not being at all diligent about our Latin over Thanksgiving/Christmas, and basically started back up in January needing to spend a couple of days reviewing the pronunciation of the first two lessons.

Then we moved on to lesson 3.  Lesson 3 consists of 20 "review" vocabulary words.  Considering we hadn't used any previous levels of Latin's Not So Tough, this was not review for William.  We tried doing a page (4 words) a day, but that was totally unrealistic.  We ended up slowing that down to more like two pages a week, with me finding supplemental "stuff" to help him get the vocabulary.  That worked okay.  The workpages look like this:

We continued on to Lesson 4, and William ended up totally stressed out when he saw that it was more vocabulary review.  Another 16 new words.  By now, we had to slow down to about a page per week, as William was just not able to keep up the pace of learning that many new words in a week without any solid way of putting them into context, aside from what I was able to make up as we went.  There is the suggestion in the Answer Key to use the derivatives to help teach the words, which did help.  Some.  He may have been able to handle a faster pace if I had been more proactive in creating exercises for him.

Sometime around now, though, I pulled out some of the many other Latin resources we own and I started using some of their sentences and exercises to help William to learn all of this review vocabulary.  And to reward him for all of his hard work by throwing in some Roman culture and history information, which Latin's Not So Tough does not include at all.

So, after about four months of using Latin's Not So Tough, we turned to Lesson 5.  Which gave us... are you ready for this?  Fourteen new vocabulary words to "review."  I thought William would burst into tears.  I continued to find supplements to help him actually DO something besides just memorizing vocabulary words.  And I showed him that Lesson 6 was where the review stopped, and encouraged him that we were almost there...

Even with that carrot, about halfway through March (we started at the beginning of October), William begged and pleaded to be allowed to do something else, anything else, for Latin and to never have to look at this book again.  Ever.

Since I was so tired of having to create my own lessons to teach this "review" vocabulary, I couldn't say no.

Looking ahead, once the actual lessons start, the program looks reasonable.  Maybe we could have made it work.  Looking at, say, Lesson 21 -- page 1 has them learn 3 vocabulary words (very similar to lessons 3-5).  But three words on a page means so much more white space.  The second day has him filling in the correct words to complete the sentences, and then translating those seven sentences.  Day 3 is three new words.  Day 4 involves writing down the Latin for 24 English words/phrases (mostly verb phrases like "she prepares" or "he fights").  Day 5 gives three new vocabulary words.  Day 6 involves picking out which Latin word matches the English at the beginning of the row.

THIS is a pace I think he would have been able to handle.  He may even had been able to do more than one worksheet in a day.

My opinion:

I think that no matter the age of the "older child" starting at Level 3, expecting that in five weeks (26 days) they can learn all the pronunciation of the letters and diphthongs plus 50 vocabulary words is entirely unrealistic.  I don't think I'd recommend any child start with Level 3, unless he has had a year of elementary Latin already.  Maybe it would work for a student in Junior High, particularly one with a SAT type of vocabulary already.

We did not find the CD to be terribly helpful.  I remember really liking the Hey, Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek alphabet song, and I probably was anticipating something catchy and memorable.  Instead, the CD consists of someone reading the text on the page... such as the "sed means but" that I quoted above from Lesson 3.

I also prefer language programs that also teach something of the history and culture of that language.  And for my children, a DVD based program seems nearly essential.

So my recommendation?  If this program appeals to you, start at Level 2.  An older child will probably move fairly rapidly through that, and then you could probably skip the first five lessons of Level 3 (all the review) and go straight on to Lesson 6.  I'm not sure if both levels could quite be completed in a schoolyear, since I haven't seen Level 2, but I would think most older kids could come close.

The products I received included the Student Workbook ($21.95), the Full Text Answer Key ($21.95), and the Pronunciation CD for Levels 1, 2, and 3 ($10). 

You can check out what some of my fellow crewmates had to say about various levels of Latin, Greek, and Bible at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive Latin's Not So Tough Level 3, including the student book, the answer key, and the CD, in exchange for my review of the product.  All opinions are my own, and receiving complimentary products does not factor in to my opinions.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Curriculum Clean-Out: Little Hands to Heaven

Homeschool Creations is hosting their Bi-Annual Curriculum Clean-OUT!  Something I've never participated in, but decided that this was the time to jump in. With any luck, I'll post a couple of times this week.

Okay, this one is rather sad.  I have a copy of Little Hands to Heaven by Heart of Dakota to give away.  My kids are now simply too old for it.  <sob>  Be warned, this is not a nice, pristine copy -- but it is totally usable.  It has been USED.  A couple of times.

This is not the most current version.  In fact, I think it is the very first version.  The child I first used this with is 10 now... if that says anything.  So I'm going to list the resources, as they do differ slightly from the website:

Bible:  either The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor (this one is still on their list)  OR  A Child's First Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor.  Each Bible reading also has the option of reading the verses out of a regular Bible, so you don't NEED one of these titles, and you could probably easily substitute another decent children's Bible.

Devotional:  either Playtime Devotions by Christine Harder Tangvald (intended for using with a 2-3 year old), OR Small Talks about God by Kenneth N. Taylor (intended for a 4-5 year old). Both of these are out of print, but still readily available on the used market.  (Tip:  click the graphic above to check the giveaways -- someone is giving away Playtime Devotions!)

Music: The Singing Bible from Focus on the Family.  There was no CD version available when my book came out, so the references are to which side of the tape it is on as opposed to which track on the CD.  All selections are referred to by title as well, though, so it won't be hard to adjust.

To enter:

Entries are closed, and this giveaway is over.  Thanks for reading!
Giveaway ends on May 2nd, at midnight Mountain Time.  I will use to choose a winner.  I will email the winner, assuming I can find contact information, and if I do not receive a response within 24 hours, I reserve the right to draw a new winner. 

I have a tough time getting to a post office, so it will probably be Saturday, May 7 when I ship by media mail.  I am willing to ship outside of the US if you are willing to split the postage with me. 

Reading Aloud Challenge: April 28

This was a far more normal week of Reading Aloud in my family.  So if last week intimidated you (!), well, hopefully this week won't.

The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah EquianoConnor and I finished up The Kidnapped Prince.  What an amazing story!

I read aloud In Grandma's Attic to the kids, and reviewed it.  This is such a great book!  Everyone insisted on listening, although I was only requiring Richard and Trina.  We also got started on More Stories from Grandma's Attic, but did not complete that before the review.  I read a few chapters myself for purposes of writing the review. 

Attack at the Arena (AIO 
Imagination Station Books)William continues to read Attack at the Arena out loud to me.  This is going way slower than it ought to, because we are not being remotely consistent.

As long as I'm counting the kids reading real books aloud to me, Thomas is reading Robinson Crusoe to me from my Nook.  This is the version from Christian Liberty Press, and I can't seem to find it to grab a picture.  He's finally far enough into it to really want to keep reading, so he's reading 3-4 chapters at a sitting.

Andi's Pony Trouble (Circle
 C Beginnings #1)
Another review product, Richard and Trina are still listening to Andi's Pony Trouble.  Though, ummm, we only read a single chapter.  In Grandma's Attic took precedence, you know?

Arrow over the Door (Puffin Chapters)I read Arrow Over the Door to Connor.  Mostly I read to him while he washed dishes.  Seems a fine arrangement to me!  This was a pretty quick read, and it was fabulous.  Getting the Quaker perspective on the Revolutionary War, and the point of view of an Indian Tribe from Canada.  The best part was how the author explained what he knew from historical records, and what assumptions he made.

The Sherwood RingConnor's next read-aloud is Sherwood Ring.  And oh, we are really enjoying this as well.  We're only a couple chapters into it -- but there are only something like six chapters.  Long chapters, I might add.  This one is leading to some fabulous discussion.

So -- plans for the week ahead.  Well, mostly finishing up the stuff above.  We were supposed to start Black Horses for the King, and just haven't yet.  (You notice a total lack of mention of Thomas and William above!)  After Sherwood Ring, I'll probably start In Search of Honor.  After More Stories from Grandma's Attic and Andi's Pony Trouble, I'll be reading some James Herriot to the younger ones.  We've got a couple other possibilities out there too.

How did your week go?  Sign the linky and I'll definitely come visit your post.  I love getting inspired to read something new!  Though I didn't do much with visiting last week... Ooops.  Promise, I'll go visit y'all right after I get this posted!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Curriculum Clean-Out: Hands-On Geography

Homeschool Creations is hosting their Bi-Annual Curriculum Clean-OUT!  Something I've never participated in, but decided that this was the time to jump in. With any luck, I'll post a couple of times this week.

I love products by Bright Ideas Press.  Love 'em.  I own a huge percentage of the things they carry.  Most of their stuff I'm just not ready to part with.  But Hands-On Geography, well, it just didn't exactly do what we were looking for.  And I know it would be fabulous for someone else, so I'm releasing the guilt of not using it by blessing someone else with it!

To enter:

Entries are closed, and this giveaway is over.  Thanks for reading!

Giveaway ends on May 2nd, at midnight Mountain Time.  I will use to choose a winner.  I will email the winner, assuming I can find contact information, and if I do not receive a response within 24 hours, I reserve the right to draw a new winner. 

I have a tough time getting to a post office, so it will probably be Saturday, May 7 when I ship by media mail.  I am willing to ship outside of the US if you are willing to split the postage with me. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Curriculum Clean-Out: Hey, Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek!

Homeschool Creations is hosting their Bi-Annual Curriculum Clean-OUT!  Something I've never participated in, but decided that this was the time to jump in. With any luck, I'll post a couple of times this week.

Today, I am doing two giveaways.  So in your mandatory comment, tell me which you are interested in winning.  Both is acceptable too.

Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek is a program I used to teach my oldest children the Greek alphabet.  I intended to continue with it, but it just never worked out beyond Level 1.  I sold some pieces that I had purchased at a used curriculum sale, but I still have two books around my house.

Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek Level 2: Student Book
Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek Level 3: Full Answer Key

These are the old style books, so comb-bound with solid color covers.  However, the contents are the same as the versions currently being sold.  Level 2 is meant for a student who has completed Level 1, or a second grader who is new to the program.  Level 3 is meant for a student who has completed Level 2, or a student in third grade or above who is new to the program.  I, however, would probably start a third grader in Level 2, and start Level 3 with a student in 4th grade or above.

If you want to know more about the program before entering the giveaway, the TOS Homeschool Crew will be reviewing products from Greek N Stuff on Friday.  I'll be reviewing Latin's Not So Tough, but other crew members will be talking about Hey Andrew.  On Friday, you can check the Crew Blog for details.  (This link won't work until Friday though, as the post hasn't been published yet)

To enter:

This giveaway is now closed.  Winners were announced.  Thanks for reading!

Giveaway ends on May 1st, at midnight Mountain Time.  I will use to choose a winner.  I will email the winner, assuming I can find contact information, and if I do not receive a response within 24 hours, I reserve the right to draw a new winner. 

I have a tough time getting to a post office, so it will probably be Saturday, May 7 when I ship by media mail.  I am willing to ship outside of the US if you are willing to split the postage with me. 

FIRST: In Grandma's Attic and More Stories from Grandma's Attic

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.

Product Details:

In Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804

My take:  We had read the first book, In Grandma's Attic, years ago as part of Sonlight's Core K program.  We had started doing Core K again for my youngest two when the opportunity to review these two books came up.  We decided we would rearrange the read-alouds to move In Grandma's Attic to now, and add More Stories from Grandma's Attic.

I had forgotten how wonderful the first book really was.  Arleta Richardson tells these stories from the perspective of herself as a young child circa 1930 who is hearing stories about her grandmother when she was a little girl.  So what is cool about this is that we are learning a little bit about life in the 1930s and about life somewhere around the 1880s too.

The other great thing is that each of the stories is telling stories with solid, moral themes -- but rarely do they ever come across as preachy.  One thing that I noticed is that the chapters in More Stories from Grandma's Attic are slightly longer.  Most stories in In Grandma's Attic are six pages, where the ones in More Stories tend to be nine or ten pages.  Since we were reading at least two chapters of the first book in a sitting, the chapters in the second book were fine -- but we did tend to only read one chapter at a time.

My boys loved the first book years ago.  And it was even more fun with my 5 year old daughter, though all her big brothers enjoyed it this time around too.


In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”

Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”

“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”

Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”

“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.

Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”

Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.

“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”

I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.

This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.

Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.

There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.

“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”

If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.

Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.

“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.

All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.

Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.

Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.

Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.

The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!

Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.

“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.

Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”


More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1

The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.

“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.

“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”

I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.

“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”

Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.

“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”

“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.

“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”

“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.

“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”

“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”

Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.

“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”

“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”

Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.

“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”

When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”

I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”

Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”

I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”

I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”

Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.

And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.

“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”

“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”

Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.

From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.

I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”

I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.

“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”

I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.

“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”

But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.

“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”

I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?

Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”

“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”

“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”

“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”

My two brothers looked at me in amazement.

“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”

Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.

“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”

Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.

“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”

I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.

Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”

I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.

“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.

“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.

When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.

“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”

Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”

Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Curriculum Clean-Out: IEW Ancient History Giveaway


Homeschool Creations is hosting their Bi-Annual Curriculum Clean-OUT!  Something I've never participated in, but decided that this was the time to jump in. With any luck, I'll post a couple of times this week.

I have both the original version, and the new version of IEW's Ancient History-Based Writing Lessons, so I am giving away the original one.  This is a single book that contains the complete program.  The book is in very good condition, but clearly it is not in new condition.  This book is intended for Level A (3rd-5th grades) or Level B (6th-8th grades), with suggestions for adapting it to either grade range.

The currently available product is split into two books -- a teacher book and a student book.  That's the one I'm keeping.  You can read about the current version (this is NOT what I'm giving away, but it is very, very similar) here.

To enter:

Giveaway is now closed.  A winner was announced.  Thanks for reading!

Giveaway ends on May 1st, at midnight Mountain Time.  I will use to choose a winner.  I will email the winner, assuming I can find contact information, and if I do not receive a response within 24 hours, I reserve the right to draw a new winner. 

I have a tough time getting to a post office, so it will probably be Saturday, May 7 when I ship by media mail.  I am willing to ship outside of the US if you are willing to split the postage with me. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On this day...

Today is not only Easter, but it is also Dale & my 18th anniversary.  Eighteen years.  It does not seem that long.  Until I look at the photos of those children getting married, and I realize I am not that person anymore...

Here we are freezing at Como Park, after the wedding.  Standing up on top of a hill, with all kinds of people driving or biking by, and waving at us.  While we are trying to keep looking at the photographer.  The downside of this photo is that you cannot see how stunningly beautiful my flowers are.

This one we've called "Little Bride on the Prairie."  I'm staring in at a whole bunch of people eating in a restaurant, but it sure looks like I'm in the middle of nowhere, doesn't it?  This one doesn't do the flowers justice either.  I wonder if I have a photo anywhere that does?

My secret to fabulous flowers?  I told the florist, "you are the professional."  The only parameters were that I wanted at least some yellow roses in my mother's flowers.  Because Dad always gave Mom yellow roses.  So I think we had yellow roses in all the bouquets.  I don't remember.  But I had no idea at all what my flowers would look like until I picked them up.  The florist had so much fun, she told me, as she rarely got the chance to have free rein like that.  I think we got more flowers than we paid for, just because she enjoyed it.

That's the whole wedding party.  Well, except the flower girl.  We didn't bring her over to Como Park with us after the ceremony.  She, actually, left the wedding to go to the hospital.

While we were waiting to go in at the conservatory, another wedding party was waiting as well.  The bridesmaids were oohing and aahing over our flowers, apparently.  I heard about it from my bridesmaids.  I only noticed that the other bride looked really upset.  Poor thing.  Happy anniversary to you too, whoever you are!

Is this not the most adorable flower girl ever?  And that flower basket, I found out after the ceremony, weighed a ton.  I think they put a brick in there.  Okay, so I know you want to hear the story of the hospital.

Well, I had asked this cutie's mom to be a bridesmaid, and she turned me down.  Because, well, she thought she'd ruin my photos as she'd be eight months pregnant.  I didn't care and I told her so, but I also told her that I totally understood if she wasn't comfortable with the idea of being in a wedding that close to her due date.

So, I got up around 7:00 on the day of the wedding.  I was staying at the hotel where I worked.  Went down to the front desk and was informed that Marianna had gone into labor and had left for the hospital.  She had a little girl that morning.  Reports are that her first words after they said, "It's a girl" were "Can I make a 2:00 wedding?"  By the time they had her cleaned up and all, she no longer cared.  Rightly so.

So grandma brought Malinda to the wedding.  And poor Malinda was surrounded by all these people she doesn't really know, and grandma hadn't been at the rehearsal. Malinda had instructions based around me (Aunty) and her mom, and she no longer knew what she was doing.

She wasn't supposed to be standing for the entire ceremony, but I totally forgot that her mom wasn't there to cue her to go sit in the front row.  She stood by me the whole time, holding that heavy basket, and not moving at all.

At the end, Dale & I walked down the aisle, and my matron of honor, Shereen, was urging Malinda to walk down to me.  Only she was telling her to "go to Deb."  Only she didn't know who this Deb person was at all.  Dale and I got to the back of the church, and fortunately I turned around.  Malinda was standing there, frozen and scared, with Shereen leaning over her looking a little frazzled.  I handed Dale my flowers, got down on my knees and held out my arms... and she came a-bookin' down the aisle and jumped into my arms.

Poor thing.

Anyway, so afterwards, she and her grandma headed to the hospital to meet her new baby sister.  And said baby sister is now an adult.  Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Review: The Earth: Its Structure & Its Changes

When I had the opportunity to review The Earth: Its Structure & Its Changes by Tom DeRosa and Carolyn Reeves for Page Turners, I jumped at it.  I've reviewed another in this series (Energy: Its Forms, Changes and Function) which we loved.  And this time, I had the chance to get a look at not just the main book, but the combined Teacher's Guide and Student Journal as well.

We were not disappointed.  This book is as good as the other we've used.  And since yesterday was Earth Day, I thought it was about time I posted a review.

Some information from the publisher:
The Earth: Its Structure & Its Changes is a study of the fascinating world of geology. With explanations of how our Earth was shaped, this elementary science curriculum gives evidence to the Genesis Flood, accompanying earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other powerful processes. Students will explore 20 investigations through experiments and a very specific learning progression.
Students will examine natural occurrences such as mountains, volcanoes, rocks, minerals, crystals, water, and dirt (just to name a few). By using household items such as hard boiled eggs, oranges, measuring cups, maps, clay and markers, these scientific truths will come to life.
This title contains a full circle view of geology, creation, and history. All three of these topics are combined to create the big picture for your student and develop a stronger root in their faith.
Authors Tom DeRosa and Carolyn Reeves are committed biblical creationists with a combined 60 years teaching science. Both are excellent at helping students experience science concepts in the world around them.
What did we think?  Wow! is a pretty good single word summary.  These books are intended for grades 3-6, and I used this with Thomas (4th grade) and also with Richard (1st grade).  Big brothers listened in on some of it too, and definitely got in on the hands on parts.

The "specific learning process" mentioned above is to Engage, Investigate, Explain, Apply, Expand and Assess.  Most science programs seem to take the approach that you start with Explain, and then maybe tack on some Investigate or Apply, and definitely do some Assess.  I love the idea of starting off by getting the kids interested and involved, and only then doing the reading parts.

How does that work in reality?  Well, let me talk through Investigation 1 as that was the only one where I was coherent enough to snap a photo.

Engage:  this involves a very short little story about two kids looking at a globe and wondering about the countries of Togo and Greenland.  It takes a couple of minutes, and sets up the whole rest of the section.

Investigate:  the problem being investigated is "How can the countries on a round earth be shown on a flat map?" and "What do lines on the map tell us?"  Okay, so Thomas has explored this before, and was pretty quick to give some answers.  Nevertheless, we proceeded to draw on an orange or two:

And then we cut off the peel and looked at our resulting map.  The continents at the North Orange Pole (Thomas' name, not the books) and the South Orange Pole were way bigger than they had been on the orange.  Both boys really GOT this idea, first hand.  It was fabulous.  The Student Journal devotes a page to this Investigate section.

Explain:  this is covered in the bulk of the text for the unit, "The Science Stuff" and it talks about things like longitude and latitude using the orange as an example, then applying it to the globe and map.   This section does involve a fair amount of reading, but still, we're talking maybe 15 minutes.

Apply:  this section talked about time around the world, and it talked about GPS devices.  In this case, the apply section was basically another few minutes of reading, but some of the others involve activities like comparing pictures of rock layers.  The kids loved this generally.

Expand:  The expand section generally gives a couple of ideas to go "Dig Deeper" with some of the issues.  In this investigation, we were interested in both suggestions, so we did them.  The first involved the differences between the geographic and magnetic poles.  The second involved figuring out what time it is right now in various cities around the world.   In other investigations, we would only do one activity, or sometimes none.  We love the variety of activities presented here.  The Student Journal had places to document what the child does.

Assess: The assess section involved a few questions that we covered orally.  We could have written out the answers in the Student Journal, but my kids are so pencil-phobic that I chose to do this orally.  Questions such as "Is the International Date Line a longitudinal line or a latitudinal line?"

The Teacher's Guide includes such things as answers to the questions, tips to make the hands-on parts work well, and some teaching suggestions, like the idea of tying the investigation on soil in to some documentaries about the Dust Bowl of the 30s. 

We love these books.  They cover the topics pretty thoroughly, and in a great hands-on and Biblical way.  Most of the materials are pretty easy to obtain, which I appreciated.  I just had to remember to look ahead a week or two, so I'd be sure to have oranges on hand, for instance, or paper plates.

The photos in the book are fabulous and really drew my boys in.  The activities were almost all total hits as well.  I did have a couple of quibbles with how some information was presented, but nothing major, especially factoring in that this is intended for 8-12 year olds, not geology PhD candidates.

I highly recommend these books as a great way to do science with mid- to upper-elementary students.  This is the fourth title in this series.  I think you could easily do two a year and have a solid science curriculum, so for VERY little money, you can have two years of elementary science.  With any luck, by then, there will be a new title or two out.  The other subjects are Energy, Forces & Motion, and Matter.  The best part?  Most everything out there for this age group is biology related.  These get some physics and earth science into the mix.

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

On a Hill Far Away...

There was a facebook status posted today by a friend of mine, Becky.  I loved it and reposted it.  And I've been thinking about it ever since.
It's Earth Day, and I'm a tree-hugger - but not the one you think. I'm clinging to the old rugged cross.
Posting that status, of course, started a song in my head...
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I pulled up my iTunes and started listening to Tyler Andrews sing the song.  I love listening to Ty.  I have to get more of his CDs ripped into my iTunes.  I own 'em all, I think.  I just don't have them on this computer.  I have to fix that.
Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above,
To bear it to dark Calvary.
And listening to it got me thinking about the song.  It was actually featured just a couple of weeks ago in Amazing Grace, a devotional I'm reading via Logos.  This was the April 9 hymn, telling of George Bennard.  That didn't give me a whole lot of fabulous insight though.
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
Such a wonderful beauty I see;
For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
Oh, I think that is my favorite verse.  I always have tears on my face, and my eyes closed (well, except when this comes on while I'm driving!) when I sing that last phrase, "to pardon and sanctify me."
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far way,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.
I pulled out a devotional my father gave his mother a lot of years ago.  I looked for The Old Rugged Cross to see if it was one of the 53 songs included.  It wasn't, but reading some of Grandma's notes in the margins, and seeing some of these fabulous hymns reminded me why I was so happy to get this book.  I need to start working through it with my kids.

On this Good Friday and Earth Day, a day for tree huggers of all kinds, I'll leave it up to George to have the final word...
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Review: Art Class

You know how some parents panic about homeschooling because they could never teach Chemistry?  Or because they never understood Algebra?  I'd love to be able to laugh at them and tell them that they can "hire" those subjects out.  But I can't.  Because I'm intimidated by the idea of teaching art.

Oh, I've tried some art programs.  But almost all of them fail me.  Either I can't understand how a person is supposed to do whatever is being done, or it focuses almost completely on art history (I can do that!), or it is just so simplistic that my kids roll their eyes, or I would have to spend a fortune to get just the right supplies on hand.

See the Light is a new possibility for moms like me.

This video-based art curriculum teaches art techniques using fairly inexpensive supplies, along with some art history.  Their Art Class consists of 36 lessons on 9 DVDs taught by Pat Knepley.  There are three additional bonus lessons, one on each of the first three DVDs, led by other artists. 

Pat loves art, and has been drawing ever since she was able to hold a crayon.  She has a degree in Art Education and loves working with kids.  Her enthusiasm for art, for kids, and for the Bible come through loud and clear in each and every lesson.

This Art Class series teaches skills in a progressive manner, starting with The Basics of what should be in your toolkit and drawing a line, and ending at lesson 36 with drawing the human figure.  This series is appropriate for children from 1st grade and up, and it could be appropriate for a middle school or high school student with little drawing experience.

My family received Volume 1: The Basics to review.  This volume includes the following lessons:
  1. Tools of the Trade: what do you need to have on hand to be ready to draw -- I'll confess, my big kids especially really rolled my eyes at a lot of this one.  Connor's (nearly 14) statement was that with just a couple of word changes, he wouldn't feel so patronized.  He admitted that this DVD course had potential, and he was willing to overlook the fact that it is clearly meant for little kids.  I started noticing a difference already in their drawings, particularly in the use of shading.
  2. It All Starts with a Line: where you learn different qualities of a line and about contour drawing.  This lesson is the first where you do anything that looks at all like "art" and while Connor still felt that Ms. Pat was patronizing, it was easier to get past it since you were actually doing something.  After this lesson, Richard (7) and Thomas (10) -- who are both within the target age range for this program -- were begging me to purchase the whole thing.  Connor and William (12) were trying to put on the brakes and suggesting we finish this DVD before making any decisions.
  3. Contours & Composition: where you start training your eyes and hands to be synchronized and work on a composition.  I didn't really hear any complaints after this one.  The younger boys still said they wanted the whole thing.  The older two really didn't say anything.
  4. Draw What You See: where you complete a contour drawing of a shoe.  Okay, so this lesson resulted in a lot of complaints that this art thing is just too hard.  But they practiced, and watched the lesson again, and practiced some more... and at this point I think all the boys are seeing the value in this program.
  5. Bonus Lesson: Chalk Artist Gloria Kohlmann teaches how to draw "Cross Hill," the art shown on The Crossmaker.  We own this DVD, and the kids loved the chance to see another approach to this drawing.  My guys love the fluorescent chalks (crayons/pencils) and the black light.  I reviewed The Crossmaker a couple weeks ago.
The entire course can be purchased for $99.99, and there is also an online option, where you can sign up for a free trial and check out the first couple of lessons at no cost.  You can also go here to learn more about each individual DVD and request a free DVD.  And last week, TOS and See the Light had a webinar.  You can watch the recording and learn a lot more about the scope of the course... and get a discount code too!

Pat is planning Year 2 of the Art Class, where the skills and techniques taught in year 1 will be used to draw a masterpiece each month/DVD.

See the Light also has created Bible Story DVDs, each containing a Bible story told through art, and three art lessons -- a creative lettering lesson, a chalk pastel lesson, and a mixed media lesson.  These include:
  1. The Christmas story (The Gift of Love)
  2. An Easter story (The Crossmaker)
  3. Moses (God's Special Surprise -- available soon)
  4. Paul (Shipwrecked -- available soon)
  5. Jonah (God's Runaway -- available soon)
So what did we think? I love the step-by-step instruction.  I love Pat's enthusiasm for what she is doing.  I don't particularly like how so many of the Bible "lessons" just seem tacked on and forced, but that isn't a big deal.

I wish they had some other purchasing options.  Since they give away the first DVD, it would be nice if I could purchase a "completer" set of DVDs 2-9.  It would be nice if I could get it in parts -- say Volumes 2-5, and Volumes 6-9.  It bugs me to have to get the first DVD again, and it isn't just the money part of it.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but I guess it just has that used-car salesman feel to it somehow.

That being said, with the webinar coupon, I am contemplating purchasing the entire set.  Because this is the first art program that I've ever looked at or tried that really made me feel like we could successfully "do" art in this homeschool.

You can check out what some of my fellow crewmates had to say at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.
Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive Volume 1 of the Art Class DVD set in exchange for my review of the product.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reading Aloud Challenge: April 21

We're back at school this week, and you can tell by the books we have finished!  What a great week for read-alouds.  Now, the problem has been too many late nights of these.  Uff-dah.  Hopefully the kids all caught back up on their sleep last night!

Madeleine Takes Command 
(Living History Library)We finished Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel Brill on Monday night Tuesday morning.  Um, yeah, it was something like 4.5 hours straight of reading aloud.  Great book.  The kids were busy constructing lego models of the bastions and fence and all.  They loved it. 

The Pirates of Pompeii (The
 Roman Mysteries)Tuesday night, we only stayed up just past midnight finishing The Pirates of Pompeii by Caroline Lawrence.  Apparently, this is book #3 in a series.  The AUDIO of book 1 is now on hold at the library.  Looks like we ought to even get it this weekend.  It is on TAPE though, so we aren't going to have a lot of flexibility in listening to this.

The Boxcar Children (The 
Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries)
Yesterday, we finished The Boxcar Children.  We had been reading a chapter or so a day for the rest of the week, so we were about halfway through it.  I have a couple of kids clamoring to listen to the whole series.  We went through about twenty of them back when the big kids were about this age.  It's not happening quite yet, but I'm sure we'll be working through more soon.

The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah EquianoI've been reading The Kidnapped Prince to Connor, while everyone else runs around outside.  Wow...  absolutely fascinating.  I thought we'd actually finish it up yesterday, but not quite.  Hopefully today.

Attack at the Arena (AIO 
Imagination Station Books)William continues to read Attack at the Arena out loud to me.  Expect a review next week. 

As long as I'm counting the kids reading real books aloud to me, Thomas is reading Robinson Crusoe to me from my Nook.  This is the version from Christian Liberty Press, and I can't seem to find it to grab a picture.  He's finally far enough into it to really want to keep reading, so he's reading 3-4 chapters at a sitting.

Andi's Pony Trouble (Circle
 C Beginnings #1)
Another review product, Richard and Trina started listening to Andi's Pony Trouble.  Trina absolutely adores this book.  Richard enjoys it, too.  But Trina relates to being the baby sister and insisting she isn't a baby.

So -- plans for the week ahead.  We'll be finishing up many of the above titles, and the plans are to start The Arrow Over the Door and probably The Sherwood Ring with Connor.  William and Thomas will be listening to Black Horses for the King.  And I'm starting In Grandma's Attic for Richard and Trina.  There are some other possibilities too, but we shall see.

How did your week go?  Sign the linky and I'll definitely come visit your post.  I love getting inspired to read something new!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FIRST: That's When I Talk to God by Dan & Ali Morrow

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

Dan and Ali Morrow

and Illustrated by

Cory Godbey

and the book:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home. They are the authors of That’s Where God Is (2010), their first children’s release.

Visit the authors' website.


Cory Godbey illustrates, animates, and writes for Portland Studios, a creative firm dedicated to telling great stories and pursuing excellence in art.

He has contributed to projects such as Zune Arts, Flight graphic novel anthologies, and has worked with many major publishers.

Recently, Cory was accepted in the acclaimed Society of Illustrators Annual.

Cory seeks to tell stories with his work.

He also likes drawing monsters.

Visit the illustrator'swebsite.


Targeted to children four to eight, That’s When I Talk to God mirrors the day of the typical child, creating an opportunity for readers to put the practices in the story to use in their own lives. Through beautiful illustrations and an engaging, familiar character, readers can relate to That’s When I Talk to God. Children will learn to go to God with their fears, their joys, their questions, and their desires. They will also learn the hows, whens, and whys of praying to the Lord in a way they can easily apply to their own experiences. And adults will be reminded to communicate the benefit, simplicity, and beauty of prayer.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434700186
ISBN-13: 978-1434700186

My take:  This is a great little book.  The illustrations are sweet, and the relationships between the characters are touching.  The whole premise is that this little girl learns that she can talk to God anytime, anywhere, not just before bed or before meals.

I think my single favorite scene in the book is when the little girl's friend, Joey, invites her to a birthday party.  She has to tell him she can't go because she has church, and he scoffs and tells her that "Church is dumb!"

This little girl asks her big brother why Joey would say something like that, and Ollie tells her that "Some people don't believe in God."

Okay, so I was bracing myself at this point... because so many of these books are telling these little 5 year olds to go out and lay out the plan of salvation to everyone they meet.  And yes, there are amazing little kids who have done some incredible things... but I cringe when I read that kind of a thing.  I mean, here is a little girl who is going through her first day of realizing that God is real and she can TALK to him...

So I was thrilled to go to the next page and read, "That's when I can talk to God, I realized, when I meet people who don't believe in Him.  'God, I don't think Joey knows You,' I prayed. 'Please tell him who You are.'"

I love this.  Let's start by getting our five year olds to be praying for the hurting people of this world.  And then, once they have learned to respond to the lost and hurting people they encounter, then maybe they can start seeing that maybe they are the ones to "tell him who You are."

AND NOW...THE FIRST FEW PAGES (Click on the pictures to enlarge them!):