Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Story of One Immigrant - A Review

I love historical fiction and I am trying to share that love with my children and when I found out I was picked for Bessie's Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc. I was so excited! As soon as the book came in I gave to to my eldest who is a voracious reader to say the least. She was so excited for another book!

Bessie's Pillow
A little bit about the book first and then I will share some of my daughter's remarks. This story, Bessie's Pillow, is written by the granddaughter of the main character in the book - Boshka Markman. Boshka upon entering America gets a new name - Elizabeth - which is later shortened to the "more Jewish" name of Bessie.

Bessie is an 18 year old Jewish immigrant from Vilna, Lithuania, more directly from Glubokoye, who is travelling on her own to America. She leaves behind her parents as well as her brothers. As she is leaving on the train a stranger asks her to carry a pillow to give to her son who also lives in America. She rides a train from Vilna to Hamburg and then has to wait to be cleared to board the ship which will travel for almost 2 weeks to America. Along her journey the inscription "May this pillow bring you peace", written in Yiddish, will be a comfort to her for some time.

Once arriving in America, after going through some trials that many of us would find very difficult to pass through ourselves, she then has to make her way to some family and friends whom she has not seen in many years. The images portrayed through the thoroughly descriptive words of all that Bessie encounters are vivid. I can not imagine leaving my family and not knowing if I'd ever see them again.  You begin to see her transformation from a young, unknowing immigrant to life as a citizen of the beautiful country of America where dreams come true ... even if they may not be the dreams you initially envisioned.

This story, set in the early 1900's, shows a different time and culture then the America we know now in the 21st century. There are, however, similarities. We still have trials, disappointments, joy, and death and the character we have been taught or instilled in us helps us to deal with each of those entities as we persevere.  I felt myself drawn in with each new story that both shaped and changed Bessie and I know you will be drawn in as well.

Here are some of my daughter Arianna's thoughts:
"I would recommend this book to those who are older - teens and above. Some of the descriptions of life and such were quite vivid and might not be good for those younger. They might get scared or nervous or just be sensitive.

I thought this story was both fun and exciting. Bessie's life was a big adventure travelling from Lithuania to America all by herself at the young age of 18. If I had to do what Bessie does I know that I would be sad and depressed. I have no idea how she was able to have the strength to leave her family and know that she might not ever see them again.

Reading this book has made me want to know more about my family heritage - where my parent's families came from. I wonder if any of them had to make such hard choices and come to America to make a better life and escape what seemed to me to be total despair.  Without spoiling the end, going through tough trials Bessie's story ends with a different focus then how it began. You will need to read it on your own to figure out what I mean."

At the end of the book there are a myriad of pictures that help connect us to the characters we met along the way in Bessie's story. Not only that, but you can also explore how life really was during the late 19th to early 20th centuries by delving into "Bessie's America" and the many links, movie clips, recipes, and more available on that site.
Listening to a silent movie.

My daughter's had fun watching some 'silent' movies and we all even watched a few popular cartoons of the time. If you are interested in your heritage this site also has some jumping off points where you can start to trace down your own heritage through the Immigration area. And if you want more info you can check into the Teacher's Guide that was created to help go along with this book.
Strong Learning, Inc.

You can purchase this book for $15 from Strong Learning, Inc. You can also find them on Facebook and on Twitter.  Be sure and check out more reviews by clicking the link below:
Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Homeschool Convention Take Aways

This past weekend my husband and I were able to head to our local homeschool convention - local being in Greeneville, SC. I love going to convention. We've gone for several years now and I truly look forward to it - even more so then my birthday - which is kind of funny since some years it's ON my birthday, like this year!

This year was also a little different because our kiddos decided to stay home with their grandparent. So not only was it a great time of refreshment and rejuvenation it was like an extended date night!

And this year it seems I had a theme ... again ... getting back to teaching restfully, with scholé (I'll get to what that is in a few). I listened to people like Dr. Christopher Perrin, Sarah Mackenzie (loved her), Dr. Carol Reynolds, Dr. Jay Wile, and others. They were great but they all seemed to be leaning toward the same message - at least for me. So now, 3 days into the week following the convention, I've been trying to implement some of the things I learned. What are they? Here's some of the tips and ideas I wrote down:

  • Science is more than an academic endeavor. By studying the works of God’s hands we can then hold him in greater awe.
  • Mathematics: A necessary tool for learning the sciences. They are intimately connected.
  • We used to have cultural literacy.  We (homeschoolers) are almost the only people who know about it and still hanging on.
  • Music matters. It helps all cultures.
  • “Our western culture heritage is not an elective. It’s a treasure!” Music unfolds in time and art requires we spend our time.
  • We need to lighten up about our own families. They can act like children. They are supposed to be looking for their boundaries.
  • Don’t join them in the behavior. Give them space.
  • Aristotle says -- Engaging in this restful learning is when we mimic the divine and here we fulfill our capacity of wonder.
  • To engage in scholé is hard to do. Undistracted time to study that which is most worthwhile.
  • We are restless until we find our rest in GOD. This is where we transform scholé. Then we know peace and shalom.
  • Knowing what you want in the future helps you when you are on the ordinary Tuesday to focus on what you should do.
  • Plan about 6-8 weeks (detailed) and then don’t add or take away anything. Then take a “water stop”. Take a few days off and go through what needs adjusting or tweaking.
  • The curriculum is our plan not the master. We are the ones who know our children best, not the curriculum. It is a tool like a hammer or a wrench. You use it when you NEED it.
  • There needs to be room, even in high school, for them to do the things they REALLY enjoy and want to do (cook, art, build, etc.)
  • I don’t want to say at the end I wished we had savored it more. I want to enjoy it more right now. One that is peaceful and where they think “Mom likes to be home with me.”
  • JOY for you, the mom, is an important part of the equation.
  • When we are sincerely interested in something it peaks their (our children's) interest.
  • To really harness joy is to: 1 - Avoid comparison 2 - Avoid drudgery - reframe the day 3 - Think about what lights you up 4 - Make a Tiny Tweak - just 1
So as you can see I have a BUNCH of things I found wonderfully pertinent to help me teach from rest with joy and not to have the curriculum rule my days.  What are your favorite parts of convention? Are you going this season?? If so, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Circle C Stepping Stones - Homeschool Review Crew

My girls were elated when they heard that Susan K. Marlow with Kregel Publications had come out with a brand new series of Andi books.  This time, it is with the  NEW Circle C Stepping Stones series, a 6 book series meant to bridge the reading gap between Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures, designed for readers in the 7-10 age range. We read both Andi Saddles Up as well as Andi Under the Big Top.
Kregel Publications

My eldest absolutely LOVES the Andi books and even has a few from Circle C Milestones. However, I knew that my horse loving middle daughter would love that she could read some of the Andi books as well. She is getting to the point where she really enjoys reading and short chapter books (with about 8 pages per chapter) that have the subject of horses is always a great way to draw her in. I was right and wrong. Some of the words were still a bit challenging at times, but we were able to work through them. In the beginning of the book it even gives you the new words you will encounter, along with their definition which helped her tremendously.
Andi Saddles Up

The first book, Andi Saddles Up, is set in the Old West time period. Andi, a 9 year old girl, wants to learn a trick ride on her 3 year old horse, Taffy now that they are both old enough to be a "real" riding pair. Her brother Chad is dead set against this. So while at her secret spot, Andi meets a new friend - Sadie. Only problem, Sadie's pa and Andi's brother Chad are in a huge disagreement over the boundaries between their ranches. The chapters end on a cliff-hanger almost every time so it builds the suspense for the next one where you just have to know what comes next.
Andi Under the Big Top

In Andi Under the Big Top, Andi meets a young runaway boy from the traveling circus who is stuck working with the circus and can't find his way home. This book is also set in the 1870's and Andi learns that being a part of the circus is not exactly what she had hoped or dreamed.
Coloring pages

The rest of the series will be complete by mid 2018 with 2 books releasing later this year and the following two to be released next summer. These books also come with free coloring sheets available online as well as a free study guide with activity pages. These are able to be downloaded as a PDF and are chock full of lessons on history, geography, math, reading comprehension, and even hands on activities. There's even a reading schedule that you can print out to keep you on track!








Once again, Susan K. Marlow, has knocked it out of the park and have captured the hearts of my horse loving girls with such wholesome faith-filled books for the whole family. I really loved how the themes of Christianity were integrated seamlessly into the story without feeling awkward or forced.

You can find both Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow on social media both on Twitter and Facebook:
Twitter: Kregel Books
Facebook: Kregel Books
Twitter: Susan K. Marlow
Facebook: Susan K. Marlow

Be sure to read other reviews from my fellow bloggers and reviewers by clicking the banner below.
Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Walking with the Waodani - A Unit Study of Ecuador -- Review

This unit study we received from Home School Adventure Co. is much different then your average unit studies. Stacy Farrell has written Walking with the Waodani, a study of the Waodani people (formerly known as the Aucas) and the country of Ecuador. The Aucas were the tribe that Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCulley, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian went to minister at and were killed while bringing them the Gospel. I've always been very fond of that missionary story, so to share another look into life with the Waodani with my children I just couldn't resist!
Walking with the Waodani

The version we received was a preview unit of just 2 lessons. We received the 3rd lesson just the other day and excited to get started on that this week. The completed version will be a 7 week study will be available soon as either a PDF (for a tentative price of $14.95) or as a physical book (with an estimated price of $18.95). The final unit will include 4 lessons.
Each lesson will have five sections:
  • Lesson Introduction
  • People and Places
  • Meals and Markets
  • Animals and Architecture
  • Worlds and Worldview
There is also a travel journal for each lesson that is also goes with each lesson that also has five sections.
  • Travel Journal Notebook Pages
  • Mark Your Map (or Ministry)
  • Rate the Recipe
  • Draw an Animal
  • Creativity Unleashed
My eldest daughter is really enjoying the travel journal part of the study. She is having fun especially with the creative writing portions (she may someday be an author!) We worked on the lesson part for one week and then the following week she went through the travel journal while going back through the lesson. She also liked drawing the animals. I'm sure that this could all be done in one week's time with the lesson for the first days of the week and the travel journal on the later.



One of the best parts about unit studies is the variety of subjects they cover - history, geography, English (handwriting and creative writing), science, culture, art, and so much more. We use unit studies when we need a break for our day to day and get back to doing things together as a family. We also tend to use them on weeks where we have a LOT going on, travelling, or even as a supplement to cement something we had been studying in our regular studies. 

However, you use this unit study is really up to you and your family - but it is so much more then just another unit study. This showcases missionary life, which has a special part in our hearts. A very close family to us (who has a son the same age as my son and they are BEST friends) just returned to the states after being on a small remote island off the coast of Madagascar. They have had similar experiences with different foods, unknown language, and cultural rituals so this study was a great tie in to those types of conversations.

At the end of the lessons there are recommendations for links, books, and videos that would be a great way to enhance and lengthen your study. We plan to watch End of the Spear, Beyond the Gates of Splendor, and I'm sure my daughter will want to read Through the Gates of Splendor as soon as I tell her about it! She's a voracious reader.

I believe that this study, Walking with the Waodani, gave a thorough look into the life of the Waodani people as well as the country of Ecaudor. I also liked the ability to just print out the journal pages and then I can use this again for my younger children in a few years. Be sure to check out some more great studies from Stacy at Home School Adventures Co. If you want to connect with them there are several ways:
Home School Adventure Company
Twitter via +Home School Adventure Co. , Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and  You Tube! Be sure to check out some reviews on this study and other products of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking the banner bellow!

Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}
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