Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Crafty Classroom: USA Activity Bundle (review)

I have mentioned before that although we carry a lighter load during the summer months, we do not refrain from all educational or schoolish activities.  Learning is a lifelong adventure, and we don't stop just because it's hot outside.  During the summer months, I love to look for learning materials that are fun and light, but can be used to go more in-depth as desired.  This summer we were offered the opportunity to review a USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom, and it's a great tool for many different types of studies, and can certainly be used all year!

The USA Activity Bundle is a actually a combination of three smaller packs, each of which could be used individually, but can also be combined for a fun geography study.

U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook
This pack includes an activity page for each state.  The activity page includes a US map to mark the state, and a state map to mark the capitol, landmarks, major rivers, or whatever you would want your children to include.  Obviously older children could include more details.  There is also a picture of the state flag, bird and flower to color.  There are small text boxes to label the state's abbreviation, nickname, number of admittance, and to label the flower and bird.  There are also blank lines to write interesting facts or other notes the learner finds pertinent.  You'll need to provide your own atlas or resource for finding the information.  Older students could certainly do a supervised internet search.

At the end of the State by State file are two games:  USA Bingo and Roll Across America.  These are great to use with any geography study for multiple ages, and are a unique resource for children motivated by games.  They would easily help build visual recognition of states.  I suggest printing on card stock and laminating for durability.

U.S.A. State Bird Art Cards

This fun set includes 27 different birds that have been officially named state birds.  Each page includes multiple options.  A full-color bird fact card for children to fill in, a card to color, and a small bird and the name for memory/matching.  These are realistic birds, not cartoonish, which I really appreciate.  All of the states which use the specific bird are listed in a lighter font under the bird's name.  You'll need to find a field guide or other resource to fill in any facts.

These can be used alongside a geography study, but are also useful in other ways.  My younger song loves birds, and has spent the last several months pouring over field guides, reading bird books, listening to me read about birds, identifying birds with me outside, and so on and so forth.  This is another great addition to his bird journal where he is slowly drawing various birds as he learns about them, and the different cards means he can put whichever size fit best.  Sometimes he draws two birds to a page, so the smaller picture fits in nicely.

U.S.A. 50 State Mazes
This is exactly what it sounds like -- an outline of each state is filled with a maze!  This is just a fun tool for state studies, but is a great way to help with identifying the shape of states.  I think recognizing a state by its shape is just as helpful as seeing it "in place" on a map for overall recognition.  This has a K-3 age recommendation, but my boys are 3rd and 5th, and they are great for their ages.

My Thoughts
Combined, these three resources can be used to introduce a state or as a gentle state study for primary students.  Older students will want to go more in-depth, but this is a great starting point, or would make a great review.  This is definitely a "worksheet" based curriculum, but it's fairly casual and easy to implement, because there are no schedules or lesson plans.  In other words, this is not a set curriculum, but rather it is a flexible resource for you to use in whatever way works best for your family!

In addition to the USA Activity Bundle, crew members are reviewing Preschool and Kindergarten level alphabet and reading programs, as well as a K-2 paragraph writing program.  Be sure to check out their thoughts!

Crafty Classroom

Crafty Classroom {Reviews}
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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Family Studies Part 1: History, Geography and Science

One of the advantages of homeschooling is that my children can learn many of the same topics together.  Of course they each have their own individual skill based subjects--math, spelling, grammar, the like.  However, there's something special about that one room schoolhouse feel that can be provided with a living education.  Many subjects are less dependent on age and sequential skills and can be enjoyed together, giving us more to discuss and share with each other!  That means, our history, science, geography, literature and more are all done through living resources, and we do them together!

Curriculum Choices - History, Geography and Science
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I think this is our lineup for the year.  I have honestly changed my mind a few times over the last several weeks and bounced back and forth a little on this decision, but I think I've figured out loosely what I want to "do" this year!  These are the subjects that my 5th and 3rd graders will be doing together . . . though I'll be adapting as necessary to make them all more Charlotte Mason friendly. {For the record, I would call us eclectic with a CM influence.}

A History of Science - Beautiful Feet Books
When I first saw this course, I knew I wanted to try it.  It just looked delectable!  When we started Early American History last year, I found myself on the website looking at it, and Elliott said "I want to do that one!"  The boys love science.  Their favorite book from history last year was the Benjamin Franklin biography.  I'm really excited for this course.  I just had to wait until Emory was old enough for it.  It is written for 3rd-7th grade, with a suggested pace of 3 lessons/week for middle schoolers, but a slower pace for younger students.  We're going to loop it with the geography, so it might take us longer than a year and I'm okay with that.  It's a pretty heavy course and I'd rather go slow and enjoy it, then feel we have to cram it all in by some arbitrary deadline.  We will get a lot of history through the biographical approach, while still studying the scientific principles of many scientists.  It appears to cover a wide variety of topics, giving us a general overview year (or more) for science.  History and science, all rolled into pretty living books?  Yes, please!

A History of Science from Beautiful Feet Books

Geography through Literature - Beautiful Feet Books
I've been wanting to try this one for awhile too!  We already own a couple of the Holling C. Holling books and they are great, but I haven't been able to use them to their full potential.  I think the boys will love the mapping, so I ordered them both a set of maps.  This is a robust course if completely fleshed out, and could easily be expanded into a history/science/geography literature study if you wanted.  It very much reminds me of Five in a Row, in that sense.

Geography through Literature from Beautiful Feet Books

Five in a Row - Mixed Volumes 
We will continue to intersperse FIAR as desired.  These books are just lovely for all ages!  It makes me a little sad when I hear parents say their child is too old for picture books.  Surely we are never too old to appreciate a well-written and beautifully illustrated book!  I'll probably also use some of the other books that we aren't specifically rowing for the basis of some of our literature/language arts as well, especially Beyond for Elliott.

Five in a Row and Beyond Five in a Row

World History

We are using A History of Science for science, but because it uses the biographical approach and includes so much history, I don't want to overload the kids at this age with another full history curriculum.  I feel like the better option is to start with some "overview" living books and see where that takes us.  I bought this book, A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich, to use as a spine. I found good reviews and felt like it was the best choice for our needs. If we find specific interest in a topic, I have plenty of resources (Great Empires, ARTistic Pursuits, various reference books, etc) to expand, and of course we'll add living books and documentaries.

Elliott will also be keeping a Book of Centuries for all subjects, and this will help with the cohesiveness of study.

Nature Study
Small Adventures Journal: A Little Field guide for Big Discoveries in Nature

I bought both boys one of these journals, because we do a lot of impromptu nature study through our outdoor time, but I struggle with intentional studies.  The journals have some interesting prompts to help us get started, but they can do it fairly independently without much guidance from me, before we move on to more traditional nature journals as we get better at it.  Since some of the activities will need to be recorded in a separate book, they'll use these in conjunction with their regular nature journals.

I have more to share - more literature, fine arts and other enrichment studies, as well as the boys' 3rd and 5th grade curriculum choices, but I have already written about Eleanor's Pre-K Plans.

Pre-K Plans

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Trust Fund {Movie review}

I don't often do movie reviews, but I was intrigued when I learned that the movie Trust Fund has ties to the homeschool community.  The producer and cinematographer, Issac Alongi of Mapelle Films, was a homeschooled student in the early 1980s, before homeschooling was even legal in many states.  Now, as a modern homeschool parent enjoying the benefits of homeschooling pioneers, I was happy to watch this movie by a homeschool graduate and share with my readers!

Trust Fund Movie

Trust Fund is a contemporary Prodigal Daughter story.  Reese is a young, aspiring writer with a free spirit.  She could have a job working for her family's publishing company, which you might think would be the dream opportunity for someone who wants to be a writer.  Yet, that isn't the life she dreams of for herself.  Her older sister Audrey, however, is a Type A personality.  She dutifully works for their father, assumes the role of responsible sibling, and doesn't understand her sister's carefree ways.

When Reese finds out that her father has been keeping a secret, one that is life changing for both herself and even her sister, she impulsively takes things into her own hands in order to live the life she thinks she's missing.  While she is chasing love and dreams in Italy, Audrey is bewildered by her father's behavior and attitude towards Reese's decisions.

It doesn't take long for Reese to return home with heartache and regret.  As the story continues to unfold, we see older sister Audrey struggling with anger towards her sister, Reese struggling to understand and forgive herself, and a father trying to help them understand each other through his own forgiving love.  The Prodigal Son is a Biblical parable often mirrored in literature and media, so the story line is fairly predictable, but there were still a few plot surprises here and there.  In the end though, we see a father's compassion and forgiveness teach his children about unconditional love.  Just like God's love.

The movie is rated PG for mild thematic elements and smoking.  While Reese is off living her life, she witnesses some illegal actions, and it is assumed that she is living with a man, but there are no indecent scenes.  There is no foul language, wardrobes are modest and there aren't any innuendos or other objectionable content.  It's not something that would interest my elementary boys, but I would let them watch it.  It's clean, family-friendly entertainment.  I'd say teens and adults, and likely some pre-teens, are the audience to enjoy the movie the most.

In addition to the movie, crew members had the option to receive the book Love Was Near, written by Sandra Martin, that is intended to be read afterwards.  It is targeted at girls ages 12+ and shows kind of a "behind the scenes" look at Reese and her thoughts about this chapter in her life.  You can also find a downloadable study guide to use in small groups.

About Mapelle Films
Trust Fund is the creative fruits of husband and wife team Issac Alongi and Sandra Martin.  Issac Alongi is a cinematographer and producer.  He has over 20 years of experience in feature films, television, documentaries and more.  He has worked with major networks like National Geographic, ABC, and the History Channel.  His work on a series of historical films won him two Emmys.  Sandra Martin is a writer, director and producer, and has authored three books.  Her experience spans film production, film edition, post-production and marketing.

Mapelle Films

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

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©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.com