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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pre-K Plans 2017

I can't believe my little girl will be in Pre-K (Year 0) this year!  Eleanor is four years old and a bit more precocious than my big kids.  She will still be 4 when the year starts, so my only intention with her is to continue to expose her to good books, encourage a love of learning, and let her develop her skills as her interests and developmental needs dictate.  She is the child that asks, begs, pleads and demands to do school like her big brothers.  We do need some structure, so I'm carving out a spot in the mornings to fill her love tank and her imagination through gentle learning opportunities.

Additionally, I have Eloise, who will turn 3 about halfway through the year.  My hope is that she will want to join in and get her little love tank full first thing too.  If not, that is okay too, and we will adjust as we go, but she is always welcome to participate.  

Before Five in a Row
This will be our primary "curriculum" for the year. It covers quality literature, but also gives us the opportunity to explore early literacy, introductory science, math concepts, art, and more. It's such a gentle and lovely introduction to the world, and although she has done a row here and there, my plan is to (hopefully) row them all this year. If not, I'll just roll some over into her K year. I am fully aware that Before is not meant to be "rowed" in the same sense as FIAR, but we just do what works for us, one book at a time. We actually still have 16 books we haven't done yet, and she probably doesn't remember the earliest rows, so we're basically starting fresh!

I have been slowly collecting the books, and now own all except two out of print books, and I hope to grab those last two by the end of the year.  I am hoping to go through them all, so I'm kind of starting over, but doing the few easiest ones early on--Yellow Ball, My Blue Boat, Goodnight Moon all come to mind--since Eloise will probably want to sit with us, but can still have a short attention span for books sometimes.  Then we'll do others based on seasons and interests.  There are a few that are lengthier, and I'll probably save those for the end of the year to give Eloise time to mature and be able to sit through them.

The Real Mother Goose Coloring Book
Eleanor loves to color, so when I saw this coloring book, I just knew it would be a fun go-along for my favorite nursery rhyme book.  There are 30 coloring pages, so an average of one page a week will last us all year!

(I think we'll do this with the fairy tale coloring book for Kindergarten!)

Art Appreciation
I have had these I Spy . . . Art books for years, and they're great for this age.  One or two pages a week is great for beginning art appreciation and attention to detail.  There are several in this series, and we've picked up some from the library before too.

I know you can see several little workbooks in the first picture, so let me explain.  This child loves them.  I'm not going to lie.  I keep them available because I simply cannot give her all the "school" that she wants some days.  Developmentally appropriate workbooks are not parent-intensive and often satiate her desire for more.  I actually keep a variety of them available, more than what's in the picture, so that she has different "subjects" to allow her to explore different things as she's interested.  I listed these last though, because they're completely unnecessary, but are an easy go-to in a pinch.  

Finally . . . 
We do a lot of family style subjects during meals and snacks, and she's often present for their poetry, art, Bible, literature and more, just absorbing everything like a little sponge.  (I'll be sharing more specifics on these subjects later.)  She will return to Cubbies, continue in her Preschool Sunday School class, go to co-op, and she's interested in taking dance.  So there are lots of opportunities for her to learn and grow outside of the home too.

All of these resources are just that - only resources.  They are meant to be used in an informal, exploratory way.  She has access to these learning aids with my guidance, but first and foremost, we want her to have tons of free time to play, explore, imagine and create on her own terms!  

©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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Wonders of the World {Homeschool Review Crew}

When summer rolls around we typically take time off from a full traditional school schedule, but as a believer in lifelong learning and reducing "summer loss," we always carry a light summer load.  A little math review, some literature and a fun project or two usually carry us through the summer.  This year, one of our fun projects came from Home School in the Woods.  They generously offered crew members the opportunity to review a multitude of their products from different history lines, and my boys chose Wonders of the World.

Wonders of the World is part of the Lap-Paks series, which also includes:

  • U.S. Elections
  • 20th Century in America
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Knights
Hands-On History Lap-Pak: Wonders of the WorldWonders of the World includes 23 projects to explore Ancient Wonders, Medieval Wonders, Modern Wonders and Natural Wonders.  They concede that the list is subjective and other sources may include wonders that they did not include, but they tried to choose their final list based on interest factor and reputable sources.  They list several books and a few websites for further research and reading, if you choose.

How Does it Work?
My first thought was "This is complicated."  It's available as a CD or digital download, and we received the download.  Once downloaded, there were file extractions and tons of files.  However, once I started reading, it started to quickly come together and wasn't actually complicated at all.  I tend to buy physical copies though, so people who are used to downloading their curriculum are probably more familiar with this process.  There was still a lot of back and forth to print the appropriate files for each project on the appropriate type of paper (you need colored and white copy paper, as well as colored and white card stock), so I highly recommend either printing it all ahead of time, or at the very least, a week or two at time.  I can't be doing this "in the moment" because it's time consuming.  The Project Directions do give clear instructions for what to print and how to complete the project, but I would have also liked one consolidated Master Print List that said "print these pages on white paper, then print these pages on colored paper, etc" so that I could make that back-and-forth work the way my mind and printer work.  All the pages are labeled with the project name though, so it would still be easy to sort once printed.

Once I had assembled a few projects worth of printed material (x2) we got to work.  There is a Timeline to assemble, and a booklet for all of the factual information.  I usually read the information out loud while they work on the projects.  There's also an audio version, which we used occasionally, and might be particularly useful for students working independently if they need help with pronunciations.  The "work" is very interactive--there is usually some sort of coloring, cutting, pasting/taping, sometimes writing, so occasionally I'll help with assembly, but it's pretty straightforward.  Each finished project is interactive - pockets to hold Wonders, flaps to lift, and more.  It gives the student a reason to go back and look at the project and information again!

 My 7 year old's Ancient Wonders project.  
I don't quite remember what his doodles represented.  

The Lap-Pak is intended for grades 3-8, and my boys are 7 and 10 years old.  I found the textual information to be attainable and interesting for both of them.  I loved that the text always distinguished between facts and traditional stories that have been passed down, and gave different possibilities when historians are unclear on the history or purpose of something.  I also appreciated that the text was substantial, without being too long.  It was just enough information to satisfy introductory interest, but still presented all the information in a narrative way, not as a boring list of facts, and frequently the boys were encouraged to seek more information.

One other thing we did to bring the Wonders to life was to look up images online (or theoretical renditions) and look up the Wonder on Google Earth, and the kids loved this additional visual aspect. However, the artwork for the projects and the time is beautiful and realistic on its own.

Timeline figures

Although these mini projects are designed to be part of a larger Lap-Pak, they will work just as well affixed to card stock which is hole punched and put into a notebook.  That was what my boys requested to do, because we're counting this as part of our history studies for the upcoming year, and we're going to put each project in with the appropriate history timeframe in our notebooks.  It'll be great review when these Wonders are mentioned again in historical context.

Final Thoughts
Our history curriculum is primarily literature based, and includes no additional activities.  These projects give them something to do to break up the monotony of read--narrate.  I believe it would also supplement a geography program well.  I also have Great Empires, and now that both boys are older and will get something new out of it, I plan to incorporate it again this year, along with a few of the Wonders of the World projects, into our World History course.  If your children are visual and hands-on learners, there is likely something for you!  This is a very diverse curriculum, and can be used to introduce, review or supplement any core history program.  For many families, especially with students on the younger end of the recommended range, these studies could be the basis for a full unit, especially if you use the additional suggested books and videos to enrich the material.

More From Home School in the Woods
Home School in the Woods offers many visual and hands-on history lines for students to enjoy.
Other products that are being reviewed by crew members include products from the Time Traveler's American History Studies and Activity-Paks line, as well as the Timeline Trio.  Since the crew is reviewing such a diverse set of materials, I highly suggest you check out their reviews and Home School in the Woods to see the variety of hands-on projects they offer.  Wonders of the World is mostly paper-based, but many of their products include instructions for games, recipes and other hands-on activities.

Homeschool in the Woods also offers a new A La Carte option, if you're wanting to try them out, or just do a project or two from their different studies to go along with another curriculum.  They are hoping to add more projects in the future, but in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal, you can currently download this project for FREE with the code alacarte.

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods 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.