Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Reads for August

The following is a list of novels my 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th graders
have read for the month of August.

A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. 
~ Abraham Lincoln ~

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.” 
~ Angela Carter ~

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. 
~ Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!" ~

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to be chewed and digested. 
 ~ Francis Bacon ~

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read. 
 ~ Mark Twain ~

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Writing With Sharon Watson ~ Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide

I had the opportunity to review Illuminating Literature ~ When Worlds Collide, by Writing With Sharon Watson. The set includes: Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Student Book, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Teacher's Guide, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manual, and Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Novel Notebook (Free PDF Download). For review purposes I was also send the first two novels that are covered in the curriculum, Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain and The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. This course is expressly written for grades 9-12. There are a total of 70 lessons in the curriculum. Upon completion, of this year long course, your high school student will have earned a credit in English. 

As a mother and educator I am a strong advocate of students being exposed to and reading great literature. In Illuminating Literature your student will read:
  • Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis 

Student Workbook
The student workbook, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Student Workbook, is consumable so most of the work is completed in the workbook which is great for those students that have a hard time with organization. Any other work is put into the student's novel notebook which I will talk about later. 

What is Literature? This is the first discussion you student will have when beginning their journey through, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. In literature worlds colliding is a common theme. What does Sharon Watson means by "worlds colliding"? All of the above books were chosen because of character collisions - physical, political, extraterrestrial, racial, spiritual, and philosophical. Beyond just reading the book your student will learn to dissect the characters conflicts, observe how the author resolves conflicts in his/her writing, identify the different ways to look at conflict within literature, and see how the characters own personal struggles affect a books outcomes. 

I used this curriculum with my middle school daughter. My daughter is an avid reader and is reading many of the more advanced literature books. I thought this curriculum would be a great fit for her. I was excited to have my daughter move beyond just reading good literature to dissecting it for the deeper meaning. Your student will gain a better understanding of: 
  • literary terms
  • themes
  • how an authors own life affects their writings
The student book is easy to understand and follow. My daughter was able to work through the workbook without feeling bogged down and frustrated. She really enjoying reading Pudd'nhead Wilson. The one complaint that she had about the novel was that the version used has very tiny print. Specific book versions are suggested since they follow the curriculum page number system. 

Up until this year my daughter and I simply discussed the novels she read along with having her answer comprehension questions. 

Before diving into the book my daughter worked through lesson 3, Meet Mr. Twain - or Is it Mr. Clemens?. This lesson gave a great overview of Twain/Clemens. Lesson 4 continued to build upon important aspects of literature such as conflict, pseudonym, fun facts, foreshadowing, irony, setting/publication, along with a short dialect dictionary of slang terms that will be read in the novel. This pre work was helpful. 

After reading Pudd'nhead Wilson my daughter said, "I feel like I know Mark Twain. The story came alive, in a new and exciting way, as I explored aspects of the novel in ways that I have never done before. It was more work than what I normally do for literature but definitely worth what I got out of it. I feel like I know the characters, and felt like I entered into their world."  

Teachers Guide
I loved the teachers guide, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Teachers Guide,  and how it comes alongside the parent. The set-up makes teaching and grading so much easier. A grading grid is provided so that grading work is straightforward and painless. There is minimal teacher preparation or planning involved with this curriculum. Score for mom!!!  

Novel Notebook
The PDF novel notebook, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Novel Notebook,  is a fun and easy way to record key information as you read. There are questions for the student to answer, suggestions for note taking, instructions for marking passages that are significant, along with fun prompt pages. The last two pages of the Pudd'nhead novel notebook the student is asked to write about what they really loved about the book and what could've been better. 

My daughter's favorite page was writing down witty sayings that she liked from the novel. One of my daughter's favorite Pudd'nhead sayings was:

"One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie
 is that a cat has nine lives." 
~ Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar ~ 

Instead of just reading the novel and regurgitating the material via comprehension questions and essays the novel notebook gets the student to interact with the book. 

Quiz and Answer Manual 
As a teacher I LOVE when I do not have to come up with quizzes and tests on my own. The manual, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manual, has it all covered!!! For the novel, Pudd'nhead Wilson, there are two quizzes and one   opinion survey. The first quiz is called a, "Yes, I Read It Quiz" which is pretty much a comprehension quiz to make sure that the student understood what they read. The second quiz was a, "Literary Terms Quiz" in which the student identifies their understanding of literary terms within the context of the novel. The final activity entitled, "Opinion Survey" gives the student a chance to interact with the novel and give their thoughts and opinions. 

My daughter thought that the quizzes were somewhat challenging but I anticipated this since she is only in middle school. I had her work through the quizzes and then we talked through the questions that she was struggling to answer. Like most teenagers she loves giving her opinion. The set-up of the opinion quiz was creative in that it asks a question and then gives a variety of options that your student can choose to best fit their opinion. 

The quizzes are available online and are automatically graded, or you can choose to utilize the paper version in the quiz and answer manual. If you choose to do your quizzes online, you will receive a copy of the score via e-mail along with the score being displayed on the screen after the test.

Final Thoughts 
I only have positive things to say about Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. My daughter really enjoyed working through Pudd'nhead Wilson and is looking forward to moving onto the next novel. I would highly recommend this curriculum to fellow homeschoolers and educators. 

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

This past two weeks my 2nd and 4th graders have been learning all about Columbus. Come explore with us.


In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He said by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while the others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand. 

October 12th their dream came true, 
You never saw a happier crew!

"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joy and pride.

But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The natives there were very nice;
They have the sailors food and spice. 

Columbus sailed on to search for gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright. 

I found some great Columbus resources on YouTube. 
This neat little song teaches
about Christopher Columbus.  

A great video to introduce your children 
to Christopher Columbus.

We made a Christopher Columbus, a New World map, 
lap books and many other fun activities. 

There are many great kids books on Christopher Columbus too. Here are just a few.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Medical City Children's Hospital ~ Teddy Bear Clinic

Every year our favorite hospital, Medical City Children's Hospital, hosts a Teddy Bear Clinic. This morning my daughters were so excited to go back to visit the annual Teddy Bear Clinic!! Jeremy the Bear, Boulder the Bulldog, and Bat Bear the Bear were ready to get medical attention.

Upon arrival at the Clinic, my kiddos stuffed friends were checked in and given a health report card, arm band, and bag to place all of the goodies that they would collect at each medical station.

The children move through the various stations that are set up, such as:
  • General Clinic
  • Day Surgery
  • Radiology
  • Orthopedics
  • Lab
  • Respiratory 
  • Nutrition
  • Therapy
At each station your stuffed friend 
is caed for by real health care professionals. 
At the completion of each station your stuffed friend gets his/her medical chart stamped. 

 Visiting the Surgery Station to learn all about what
happens before and during surgery. 

Visiting the General Clinic Station where the stuffed friends
are weighed, measured, got their blood pressure taken. An
RN listens to their heart, and the stuffed friend is given medicine. 

More pictures of the General Clinic.

At the Respiratory Station the stuffed friends got 
a breathing treatment.

At Day Surgery their friends got caps, masks and sleepy 
medicine for surgery. 

At the Lab Station their stuffed friends got blood drawn with
real needles and then got to pick out a prize along with stickers.

At the Radiology Station their friends got x-rays.

This is all of the fun stuff that was collected at each station.

 I cannot forget one of my daughter's added special touch.
My daughter has a central line and g-j tube. 
Her bear already had a g-j tube that was placed several years ago.
She really wanted her bear to have a central line just like hers. When we got 
to the Teddy Bear Clinic I asked one of the Child Life Specialists
 if they could possibly add a central line to Phoebe's stuffed bear.
They went in search of a line for my daughter's bear and after we had visited
all of the stations, teddy got his new central line. 

Thank you Medical City Children's!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Multiplication Fun

Learning Multiplication Facts 
using Dominos!!

To make learning multiplication facts fun I decided to 
turn it into a game. To play, we turned all of the dominos face down. Next, each 
of us drew two dominos. Out loud, one at a time, we solved the problems, the bottom 
numbers first, and then turned the dominos around 
and multiplied those two numbers. 
We took turns back and forth until all of the dominos were gone. 
My daughter loves to play.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Day the Crayons came Home

I will admit that I was almost as excited about the release of this book as my children were. We absolutely adore, The Day the Crayons Quit. In The Day the Crayons came Home, Duncan is out to rescue distraught crayons such as Marooned Maroon, Pea Green (aka, Esteban the Magnificent), and Big Chunky Toddler Crayon. The ending is cute as Duncan creates a Crayon Fort for all of the crayons.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Alpha Omega ~ 2nd Grade Spelling and Vocabulary

I recently had the privilege of reviewing Alpha Omega PublicationsHorizons 2nd Grade Spelling & Vocabulary Set. The set includes a consumable Student Workbook, Teacher's Manual, and a Spelling and Vocabulary Dictionary.

Horizons Spelling and Vocabulary 2nd Grade is a vibrant, colorful, phonics based consumable workbook. Horizons implements Christian principles into their curriculum. There are 160 lessons for the student to complete. My first impression was that it was appealing to the eye, not overwhelming or too busy, and utilized repetition in order to help the student achieve mastery over both spelling and vocabulary. The pages of the workbook are perforated for easy removal for those that want to tear pages out as you work through the lessons.

How We Used It
My 7 year old daughter who is entering the 2nd grade used the curriculum. Right away she loved what she saw. She was very excited about getting started. Each weekly lesson is broken down in very manageable sections. I really liked that the curriculum utilized elementary, lined paper for the student to write in their answers. This was perfect for reinforcing proper handwriting. My daughter really liked the fact that she got to add words to the Student Dictionary each week. The engaging activities provided excellent repetition for the weekly words. By the end of the week both my daughter and I were surprised at how many words she had learned how to spell without have to study and memorize word spellings. Unlike other spelling/vocabulary curriculums, Horizons does not use the same monotonous activities week after week. I REALLY LIKED THIS!!!

Some of the activities that are used to help the student learn the words are:
  • word patterns
  • writing sentences
  • finding the words in a paragraph
  • matching
  • words and their pictures
  • writing a story
  • missing letters
  • replace the underlined word
  • word puzzles
  • Bible verses
  • unscramble words
  • solve riddles
  • combining prefixes and suffixes
  • ABC order
  • find the spelling word for the definition given
  • rhyming 
We are now weeks into the curriculum and my daughter still eagerly works through her daily activities. This week without even studying the words, except for working through the lesson activities themselves, my daughter made a 100% on her SPELLING TEST!!!!! She was so very proud of herself. I have decided to put our regular spelling curriculum aside for this school year and continue to use Horizons for our 2015-2016 school year. My daughter loves the activities and has gained confidence in her ability to spell new words. I would call that a SUCCESS!!!

Horizons provides a Scope and Sequence so that you can decide exactly what is right for your child.

Overall Thoughts
We really like Horizons Spelling. I would highly recommend this curriculum to other educators and homeschoolers. We will definitely be using Horizons again.

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one.” 
Baltasar Gracián ~
To read more reviews click HERE.

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