Thursday, July 12, 2018

Faith ... it's Hard.

Why is FAITH so hard? I think it has a lot to do with my/our "American" way of thinking. Faith is the defined in the dictionary as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. In Hebrews 11 it is defined in Scripture as
... the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
But as Americans we try to predict everything ... every outcome, every detail, so that we can prepare and have a plan of action. It's good to be prepared. But not when we can't deviate from our plan to see God's plan.

HIS plan is all that I want for me, for my children, and for my husband. I want to be HIS hands and feet and I want to do HIS will for my life. And I feel that I haven't been all that I could be for HIM or with HIM. I want to change even more into HIS image and to truly have FAITH. To know that no matter what, HE, the Lord and Creator of the universe cares and has HIS plan for me (and my family.)

But how do I show others that they can have FAITH. The whole rest of chapter 11 of Hebrews goes on telling us of many who had faith and died both seeing what was promised and some never seeing what had been promised. Shouldn't we have some faith.
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustardseed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
All we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. This is straight from Matthew. Do you know how tiny that is? Let me show you.

That looks huge, but it's compared to itself. So let's see just 1 mustard seed.

Now that is not huge at all. In fact, it is so small that you almost could not see it. And you probably could not pick out what seed it was if I hadn't told you. but that little seed can turn into this.

The hard part now is to have faith. I think I can do that. And I think you can too. Just have faith that HE has you in HIS plan. So if you feel that you are to do something then have faith. Trust that your Father knows what is best for you. Even if it seems you've come full circle and are back at the start, or if it's been weeks, months, or even years, keep the Faith. Walk with HIM. Get to know HIM. Rely on HIM. That is what Faith is.

Math Refresher for Adults ~ A New TOS Review!!

You ever feel that you just don't know enough to teach your kids? Especially in MATH! I hear this all the time so I was happy to be able to review a book created for adults to work on their math skills by Math Essentials. I know that sometimes as homeschool parents we feel that we just won't be able to do it all when we get to those high school years and harder math concepts, but I totally disagree. I know that God has put you here as their parent and guide and books just like Math Refresher for Adults is exactly what you might need to get you through.

Math Refresher for Adults covers general math skills including Whole Numbers, Fractions, Decimals, Percents, Geometry, Integers, Charts and Graphs, and Word Problems. Then it moves into Pre-Algebra and Algebra skills including equations, word problems and even some probability and statistics. At the end of each sub-section there is a review built in and at the end of both the general math section and Algebra section have Final Review sections. The book also includes a Solutions section, a Glossary, and Important Symbols and Tables. There are also online video tutorials that you have access to if you need a little extra explanation for the math concepts you are working.

As you can see this book covers elementary math concepts all the way through Algebra which is typically your first year of high school. My husband who teaches at a local technical school says that this book would cover 4 of their 'developmental math' classes. So if you are thinking about going back to school I'd HIGHLY recommend going through this book BEFORE you take the placement test, that way you at least would place into College Algebra.  This would also be great if you need to take any kind of math tests to further advance at your job, entering a medical or technical field, even for preparing to take the SAT or PSAT among many other reasons.

Each lesson, as I mentioned, has a video that corresponds with the lesson subject taught by the author Richard W. Fisher. All you have to do is go to Math Essentials and look for the online videos. You also have access for the more advanced tutorials available for Algebra! At the front of the book is a detailed Table of Contents so you can quickly see the sections that you might want to jump to and start working. You can also work the book in order if you are wanting a more full 'refresher'. The solutions are in the back of the book and they suggest that you receive an 80% to consider yourself as passing that section.  And if you are using the book as a refresher for you - the parent - to help your student, watching the video together might be very helpful.

So why and how did I use the book? Well, my eldest has just completed Algebra 1 and will be moving into Geometry. Thankfully right now my grandmother-in-law (a prior head of high school math department at 2 different public schools and has been a math teacher for over 50 years) has asked if she could continue teaching her. BUT, as some of you may have read we may be moving (VERY SOON) to Indiana and wherever she is we will want to continue. Now, my husband could absolutely take over teaching her and probably will be the main teacher of all math after 'General Math', but I don't want to be not able to answer questions AND when we first move we don't know how busy he will be.

So, I decided to jump straight into the Geometry section. There are 15 lessons and have covered topics that include points, lines, planes, measuring angles, circles, area, and a few others. After reviewing these concepts I feel confident I won't be totally LOST when Arianna has a question and I'm the only adult available. I also will take advantage of the video teachings just in case I'm not clear enough with any instruction. ;)

Each lesson took me about 20 to 30 minutes and honestly I did a couple each day. I did have a few issues with the answer key because I was working on the Geometry section there were multiple answers to each question ... too many to print all in the book so they had the answer as answers may vary. The only problem with this is that if you are an adult who hasn't seen or touched math in 20, 30 or even 40 years you might need a little more then 'answers may vary'. So my suggestion would be that online they have a Solutions section for this book and put all possible answers there. It won't take up more space and allows one not to have to guess. It also allows the adult to feel that they weren't totally wrong if the back of the book had only a few of the possible answers such as 'answers may vary such as ...".

My other con for this book is the online video tutorials. Right now you have to hunt and peck for them based on which section you are working on. So if I need Geometry help I need to click on that video from that book. But if I need help with Square Roots from pre-Algebra I'd have to find that book and click on the link for square roots.  For the other books you can click on the book and then click on the section you want to watch the video from. I'm hoping that in the future they put a picture of this book and then list the sections covered and link the videos (that are already on their website) to the section. It would just make it a little less confusing to find the section you are needing help on if they were all concise like the rest of the other books.

These lessons like I sad were short. Some review exercises followed by a few helpful hints for the lessons, two sample questions and about 10 questions, then 1 word problem. The setup is exactly the same as other of Mr. Fisher's books which is great for consistency. There is a small side columb where you will write your answer, but there is not room for you to do the problems and show your work. He HIGHLY RECOMMENDS (and I and my husband concur) that you should rewrite the problem in a notebook and then SHOW your work. If you are going back to school showing your work can mean the difference between a C and a B on a test, literally. It also allows you to spot where you may have gone wrong when you look at the Solution or go back and rewatch the video portion of the lesson.
All in all this is a very thorough refresher book that will cover math skills from general math through Algebra. Math Refresher for Adults could also be used in a myriad of other ways -- like using it to help with a little more practice on areas that your late elementary or middle school students are having some trouble grasping. I was glad that I was able to use Math Essential's refresher to help wake up my math cells in the realm of Geometry.  Feel free to check out all the other Crew members by clicking the link below to see how they used the Math Refresher for Adults book. You can also find Math Essentials on Facebook.
Math Refresher for Adults {Math Essentials}

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bible Study for All Ages - A New TOS Review!

For a while I've been looking for a Bible study curriculum, but really couldn't find one that I felt suited our family ... until NOW. We have been spending the last few weeks reviewing the Intermediate (3rd & 4th) and Advanced (5th & 6th) levels of Bible Study Guide for All Ages and we are loving it. We also were blessed to receive the Wall Maps and Timeline Set which are pretty HUGE, but also pretty awesome to have alongside the lessons.

First off I'm going to spend some time telling you what is included and how the curriculum works and then we will switch to what my kiddos thought as well as my own thoughts. This Bible curriculum is to be used over the course of 4 years and has 416 total lessons. Each year you will learn both Old and New Testament which is wonderful instead of only learning the 'common' Bible stories and nothing about the life and times of Jesus. It does bounce around throughout the 4 years going from Joseph to Daniel to Jesus' birth and first year of ministry and then later (in year 3) from Moses to Hebrews and Paul to Ruth, but it seems it covers the ENTIRE Bible. What is even better is that because of the different levels (Beginner 3 - K, Primary 1st & 2nd, Intermediate 3rd & 4th, Advanced 5th & 6th as well as Teen and Adult -- which weren't a part of our review, but I'm HIGHLY interested in ordering) we can ALL study the Bible at our own level at the same time! Perfect!!

For the purposes of the review, we reviewed the Intermediate and Advanced levels and had my eldest use the Advanced level so she could work with the younger two. I thought it would be better if we could all work together instead of just my youngest. We received the following for our 2 levels:

  • Advanced Student Pages, Advanced Teacher Key, & the Large Bible Book Summary Cards
  • Intermediate Student Pages, Intermediate Teacher Key (this also can come with the Bible Book Summary Cards, but you only need 1 per family.)
  • In addition we received the Wall Map and Timeline Set which includes 3 large maps and a 2 part timeline which is pretty big. There are multiple ways you can use these so check out the sizes and if you don't have wall space think about foam board or something like that. They are really fun and useful during the lesson and just in general.
The two levels we had were very close in what they were teaching so it was an easy transition to teaching to all. For my youngest I'd read his instructions and then the girls were able to follow along and then work on their section. You can see in this picture just how similar, yet different they are.
This setup allowed my son and daughters to all follow along and work through the lesson on their own at their ability level. The student pages are pretty large  - legal sized pages - and only put together by this tearable edge that easily allows the page to be torn off ... which is great for a classroom, not so great if you don't want a bunch of pages floating around your house. It's one of my only cons to this curriculum. Since students can work together or independently, sometimes my eldest would work ahead. Then when we were working on a section she'd read the full chapter of Scripture. The year unit is broken down into 26 lesson packets.

There are several sections within each lesson:

Remember It - Review of the Bible lessons previously taught and ask specific questions that can be answered with the Scripture reference at the start of the lesson so they can read it out of their own Bible.
Memory Workout - usually a review from the Bible Summary Cards and a suggestion of a song you can sing
Guess What - cool facts and some definitions.
Time Line/Maps - where you use the Timeline and Maps
Get Active - Ways to make your learning fun and interactive. This would be great in classroom settings.
Apply It - this helps the student really apply the Scripture to their own life.
Discover the Bible - this is an overview of the entire Scripture being studied and written in a comic book style.

Here's a little video about the Timeline & Maps so you can make your own decision, but I think you'll agree they are a PLUS to have while studying the Bible.

Here's what my kids thought:

Arianna - I like the tear off pages, but that's hard to deal with if you are using it a few times a week. They will be great in a Bible class situation since they could be removed and handed out. It's a fun way to learn about the Bible. There are little comics you have to finish which help for active learning. The big wall timeline and wall maps help you visually understand where they are talking about and who else was around during that same time. And there's a mapwork and timeline work for most lessons. I like that everyone can use a different level, but we can all be on the same lesson and work together yet separately.

Audrie - I like that we can all do Bible time together. The pages are a little too big. I wish they had a way we could hole punch them and put them in a binder. But it's fun to do.

Seanan - I like being able to have my own papers to do the Bible lessons with everyone else. I think the comics are fun to read and to fill out and finish the stories.

Each lesson has taken us about an hour but I think that's because we chit chat and ask further questions. These lessons have been fun and engaging even for mom and dad as we follow along. The Teacher Key has been really helpful so I can just know what the answer is and not have to stop and look up the Scripture if I'm having memory lapse.

The Bible Summary Cards are large cardstock 8 x 10 pages that have full color on the front and all the written info on the back with questions for 'drill' time.

We also have enjoyed the LARGE (have I mentioned that they are big) Wall Maps and Timeline Set. But they are really helpful giving a visual marker for where things were going on and who else may have been around. The pieces come in a small binder printed on thick cardstock. You need to use reusable tape or that ticky tack stuff so you can remove and replace some of the places or people. And I plan to have these laminated ... maybe after we move (which might be less then a month!) The pieces would certainly last longer if they were also laminated ... but I'll have to see. Cutting them out and such has been the 'hardest' part of the whole process.

I know that we will be looking into using this for a while and probably purchasing the Teen/Adult Unit Guide so we can all work together. Please be sure to check out others on the Crew and how they incorporated  Bible Study Guide for All Ages into their routine. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Bible Study Guide For All Ages {Reviews}

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Master and His Apprentices - A New TOS Review!!

I believe that both music and art are much needed in our homeschool as well as in yours.  I was so pleased to be able to review this homeschool art history curriculum called The Master and His Apprentices:  Art History from a Christian Perspective by The Master and His Apprentices, especially since art and art history are not really my strengths so to speak. I also was glad to hear that this would be able to count as the fine arts credit my eldest will need for high school.

Over the years I have increased my own abilities and knowledge of art. Mainly because my youngest daughter is very artsy and wanted to learn ... so I started teaching myself. But art history is a little different. We have studied a few (I stress a few) famous artists or paintings over the years, but the longer we homeschool the more I realize that we need to be spending more time on learning from the great thinkers - artists, musicians, architects, sculptors, and the like - to really learn about the culture and time that once was.

And what would be even better is to see them in person. We visited a museum last summer in southern Indiana and I remember grabbing my children to show them a REAL Rembrandt! It was somewhat magical to see in person. There was also a picture of Van Gogh himself - a self portrait as well as one of his most famous Starry Night. It was so different to see in person. The texture and depth. As good as a curriculum you may have, it's always great to see them in real life. That is one HUGE difference in The Master and His Apprentices:  Art History from a Christian Perspective - it includes a list of stand alone pieces, architecture, and art museums from around the world and what you can find there. It is not a conclusive list, but the 7 page list is quite extensive and is organized by continent!

I also was floored (in a good way) that at the end of the 19 chapters there was a call to the student to marvel at all that they have studied and then walks them through the steps of Salvation. This is amazing! And as a homeschool graduate, who has spent over a decade teaching, you can see that Gina Ferguson has a passion for both art, history, and her Creator ... our Creator and Savior, whom she wants to share with the world!

The textbook is quite extensive at 380 pages in full color broken down into 19 chapters beginning with an Introduction to Art; then first to Creation followed by Ancient Art from the Near East, Egypt, Greek, Romans and others. It then moves on to the Middle Ages where we see the early Christian and Byzantines, Medieval & Islamic art, Romanesque, and Gothic. We then will hit the Renaissance (split into 4 distinct times) followed by the Baroque time period. Chapter 18 is a review of art history from the 1600's forward, while Chapter 19 tackles non-western art across the globe. There are many essays in the appendix as well as a complete timeline, a period chart, the pieces by location I mentioned earlier, and a description of art terms (which is also in the beginning of the teacher handbook). It is choc full of FULL COLOR pictures of art pieces.

After you read the introduction and then Chapter 2 on Creation you could explore the book in any order matching your own studies in history. But we chose to continue at the front and work our way systematically through the book. This homeschool art history curriculum will cover 36 weeks of curriculum throughout the year as suggested by the Teacher Handbook. There are 4 papers and 4 exams and a sample syllabus that can be modified to fit your student(s). The instructions on how to use The Master and His Apprentices are stated for both classroom and homeschool use. The Teacher Handbook is 116 pages long and also includes terms to describe art, grading rubric and recordkeeping and answer key to the discussion questions and exams. The exams are cumulative so exam 1 covers chapters 1-5 and exam 2 covers chapters 1- 10, and so on. Cumulative exams are much better since they continually show the students knowledge of the subject matter.

We received a download version of both the textbook and teacher handbook along with print and use instructions. You have a limited number of downloads as well as a limited number of times you can download it, but both were reasonable. We placed the documents on a USB so that Arianna would be able to use it on whatever computer she was using at the time. And since my printer broke in the middle of this review it allowed me to bring the books to her grandmother's house and print off her worksheets there. We began by following the course suggestions that each chapter would take about 2 weeks to cover the reading and discussion questions.  We are in the midst of chapter 4 this week and will complete the chapter and questions this week. I plan on us getting to at least the first exam (so through chapter 5) before we take a break that way she won't forget everything she's been learning.

Arianna was not happy when she heard there were papers as well as exams in addition to the weekly questions, but I reminded her that as we are entering high school school demands change. She says putting words down and having them be 'correct' are one of her hardest tasks. We saw this in another curriculum where she needed to write up 500 word essays weekly. She is really hard on herself and her writing and puts a lot of pressure that the first time the essay should be perfect. I know that having more essays to write will help her in the long run to get used to drafts, not being perfect the first time, and hone her writing skills. She has done very well so far on the discussion questions ... also a place she's had trouble with in the past.
Arianna has really enjoyed the reading and all of the interesting facts and information she has learned in just a few weeks. She was so amazed that sometimes she'd just start reading them aloud to her younger siblings - especially from the Creation chapter. Another plus is that the Bible, Creation, and our Creator are weaved seamlessly through the curriculum including the fact that there are no inappropriate or nudity in any of the art depicted in this book. I am looking forward to continuing using this curriculum and having this amazing resource for the future.

I also had Arianna skip ahead to read about some artists The Master and His Apprentices went into way more detail about the artists and their genre of art. She also liked that there were a lot of layout drawings for the cathedrals and basilicas.
that my younger children were studying (Cimabue and Giotto) so that they were all sort of on the same page. It made for some interesting discussion since

This is definitely a high school level curriculum, but there are ways you can use it with younger students as well as using it yourself as an adult. Although this is a digital copy if you are going to use it with multiple children there is a nominal $2 print fee per student for both families and co-ops, which is very reasonable. I would love to have a hard copy of this wonderful and beautiful resource to have as an art history book, but right now it is not in our budget. But I would certainly purchase one rather then trying to print the book myself.

Don't just take my word on how The Master and His Apprentices:  Art History from a Christian Perspective is, but be sure to check out how other reviewers on the Crew used this program. You can also find The Master and His Apprentices on Facebook and Pinterest so be sure to check them out!
The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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