Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Language Arts with Home School Navigator {review}

Home School Navigator

As a literature-based homeschool, I am always interested in programs that utilize real books over textbooks.  Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum from Home School Navigator is one of those programs, and I recently had the opportunity to review it.  Created by two teachers turned homeschoolers, this is a comprehensive language arts curriculum for elementary students.  A one year membership to Home School Navigator gives you 36 weeks of language arts, covering multiple strands of language arts--literature, writing, grammar, word study and more.  There are six elementary levels, which are color-coded following the rainbow, and each level corresponds to an approximate grade level.

Red - Kindergarten
Orange - 1st Grade
Yellow - 2nd Grade
Green - 3rd Grade
Blue - 4th Grade
Indigo - 5th Grade

Home School Navigator

The first thing I noticed is that there was no placement test.  Instead, we received access to every level, so I could explore and get a feel for the program and how it progresses, and find the best placement for my child's needs.  After several weeks, I was asked to "lock in" to a level, so there was plenty of time to determine which level would be most appropriate.

Eleanor is precocious, but barely five years old and not officially in Kindergarten yet.  She was kind of all over the place when I looked at both Red and Orange, but I placed her in Red/Kindergarten, because that is her upcoming grade level and because I am a firm believer in taking things slow and not doing too much in the way of formal lessons before six years old.  I felt like a lower level would be less intense and more easily fit with our style of homeschooling.

There was an introduction video to get started, and the instructional guides can be downloaded as PDF and printed.  My first thought when really diving in was that there is a lot of stuff to go through, but I think that is because they break it down by month, week and then day.  They do offer the printable guides and handouts, so if you have access to the physical books, you can actually do quite a bit of the work offline.  If you're a conservative printer, you can still access everything through the website, and just pick and choose which activities to print.  Some could certainly be done orally without issue.

Home School Navigator

I liked to look at the daily guide, because otherwise the breakdown on the website is cumbersome to navigate.  You must click 1.1.1 for Month 1 Week 1 Day 1, and then that is divided by individual activities.  I would prefer it just listed out more traditionally by week, but that could certainly be personal preference.  Unfortunately there was no easy back button for most of the review period, which may have contributed to my feelings, and though I've noticed some updates with navigation, I still do not find it the most user friendly.

Home School Navigator

I'm going to break down a typical day - Month 2, Week 1, Day 1, to give you a feel for how Red works.  This is what we find as we expand each of the categories above.

Read Aloud - The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Literature/Comprehension - We are instructed to read the book (or watch it read aloud on video), and complete a few basic tasks such as finding the Title, Author and Illustrator, and making a prediction.  Then there is a video on finding the character in a story.
Writing/Grammar - At this level, children are encouraged to draw or "write" an entry in their notebook, and they can use any letters or words they know.
Word Study/Vocabulary - On this day we are asked to read our Alphabet Linking Chart from left to right, top to bottom.
How Books and Print Work - There is a handout for writing (or tracing) their name, and the words mom and dad are included as well!
Independent Reading - Read a "just right" book.
Nursery Rhyme Extension - There is a handout for Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

The Red level starts out relatively easy and age-appropriate.  Essentially we read a book each day, with a couple of books scheduled each week, and retell the story in different ways.  Sometimes we're sequencing (like below),  or there are activities for retelling the story with puppets, visualizing what was read and sketching scenes, or retelling a few facts recalled.  All of these are essentially a type of narration.  As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I don't put much emphasis on formal lessons before age six, but as most Kindergarteners are or turn six during the year, these are still excellent activities to include in a Kindergarten level program because they develop the habit of attention and early narration skills.

Home School Navigator

We found the activities low-key and easy to implement.  The phonics activities are things like scavenger hunts, matching and memory type activities.  These are simple and engaging, and don't require much effort on my part or hers.  I also love the inclusion of nursery rhymes, because I already use a favorite nursery rhyme book for Kindergarten due to the literary benefits of nursery rhymes and word play.

Children are not truly expected to be reading or writing - they can even "write" their letters in shaving cream or other sensory materials if needed!  The activities are short, though as you get further into the program, I noticed the comprehension activities become more formal and structured, with charts and graphs requesting more specific information.  I don't think this program is particularly strenuous at this level, and it's mostly fun for Eleanor, but it did look like it becomes less compatible with our Charlotte Mason style as you move into higher levels.  So far, though, I've liked the book choices.  The first couple of months have used books from the popular "If You Give a  . . . " series, and Eric Carle books, among others.  The book choices later in the program that I'm familiar with seem decent, though I can't speak for the literary quality of all of the books.

This program was developed by real moms who really homeschool, and you can tell they've put a lot of work into developing a program that works well for both parent and student.  The instructional videos sprinkled throughout are great for parents who don't know how to explain a concept, because children can just watch along.  They also acknowledge that they include a lot of activities.  They suggest that parents are free to skip things that are too easy or adapt the program in the way that makes it work best for their family.  I decided that we didn't need the Writer's Notebook at this stage.  Eleanor is always drawing pictures and labeling them or writing little books all the time in her free time, so we could skip it here and free up time for the other activities.  They also have built in review days, which work well for make-up or catch-up days.  This also builds in a little cushion for families who need to adapt the five day schedule to a four day school week.

I found the website a little awkward to navigate, and though the program isn't going to be a good fit for us long term, I do think it is very well put together and would still recommend it to others.  It looks like a great program for the parent who wants a checklist of items to complete and wants to cover as much as possible with one program.  I appreciate that it uses real literature, and includes a variety of activities to meet the learning styles of different students. You can even upload your work into a portfolio for record keeping purposes!  Homeschool Navigator offers a comprehensive, traditional language arts program in a modern format.

The Homeschool Review Crew has reviewed all levels, and many of the families with older students are reviewing the interactive notebooks, so hop on over and read their reviews!

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}

©2011-2018 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, May 19, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Princess Leia

This was for a program, and her class is a small class of all girls.  Her teacher contacted me and said they could dress up like princesses.  I am pretty sure her teacher meant Disney Princesses.  Eloise chose Princess Leia and wouldn't budge from her choice.  The fact that she went non-traditional speaks volumes about the vivacious little girl in this costume!  It is 100% her personality to go non-traditional, and I love her for it!

Saturday Snapshots is when I share a special moment from the week, because sometimes Wordless Wednesday isn't enough!

©2011-2018 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, May 12, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Impromptu Nature Study

There is something innocent about jumping in puddles.  When the puddles lead to impromptu nature study, it's all the better . . .

Emory is my zoologist in the making, and he was definitely in his element this week as he went about catching every critter he could find.

When I think of the memories I want my kids to have about their childhood, I definitely want them to remember lazy afternoons wading through puddles and squishing mud between their toes.  I want them to remember catching and releasing all the little wild animals that are passing through, and then returning to their wild and free explorations.

Saturday Snapshots are where I share a special memory or two from the week.

©2011-2018 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.

Friday, May 4, 2018

A Peek into our Homeschool: April 2018

April hasn't been a particularly busy month, but sometimes felt like it.  Here's a peek at the way things have been going lately!

This post contains affiliate links.

The kids had the AWANA Grand Prix.  Eloise won 2nd place in the Puggles/Cubbies group and she slept with her trophy!  We have just a couple of weeks left to the year. Our co-op has officially ended, which means the boys' basketball class is over too.  There was an end-of-year program with a skit from the drama club, Kindergarten graduation and a talent show.  None of my kids signed up for the talent show, but Eleanor's Pre-K class did sing a song.  She was adamant for two days that she wasn't going up there to sing, but as soon as she saw her teachers she got excited and went with them.  They did a great job and were so cute!  Her 3 year old sister cried the whole time she was gone, so that was not fun.

We also picked up the boys' artwork.  Here's a few samples of what they did . . .

Their art teacher does a great job with them, and I've been so thankful that I can outsource that class for most of the year.  Although, now that co-op is over, I'm also glad to have an art program to review to keep the kids creating this summer.  ARTistic Pursuits has a new series, and we're reviewing Art of the Middle Ages!

Another review item I've recently started is Homeschool Navigator, and I've been doing Level Red with Eleanor.  It is a language arts program - Red is equivalent to Kindergarten - and we're having fun with stories and phonics review.

All of our other subjects have gone well.  We made it through Week 26 of AO's schedule by the end of the month, and we're plodding along.  As the weather is finally pretty and we're acutely aware of the public school calendars, I worry we're going to get tired and want to call it quits.  On the other hand, I see the end in sight and that part of me wants to persevere and just finish it out.  I promised them the week of VBS off, then we'd only have a few weeks left after that.  I'm hoping we can make it to VBS and come back "fresh" after a week off.  Our VBS is earlier in the summer, so that's a good thing.  I'm definitely just playing it by ear though.

We're listening to a variety of the AO free reads as a family right now.  We have been listening to Peter Pan (Y1) for awhile, but they loved The Wizard of Oz more (Y3.5) more, and started losing interest, so I moved it to the car, and also interspersed some Black Beauty (Y4, though my Y0 requests it the most) with it.  We also started listening to Winnie-the-Pooh (Y0) in the house since it was on audible channels for free to stream with Prime, but I did snag it for free for World Book Day.  Winnie-the-Pooh is a delightful book to actually read with the physical book because of the lovely illustrations, but if you want something light and fun for the whole family on a car trip, Pooh bear is a great one!

Enrichment Subjects
Since we started our enrichments well before AO, we'll technically be finished with three terms of enrichments next week.  So as we wrap these up, we won't be adding anything else into these slots until the fall.

Poetry: Songs of Childhood by Walter De La Mare, though we're not making much progress.  Mostly because we're listening to the audiobooks over lunch lately, and since I'm not grabbing a book to read, I'm not grabbing poetry.  Plus, we tried the e-book version.  Next time I will probably purchase this version from Living Books Press for the girls. {This is published by an AO parent.} I'd like to read a few more, because I don't feel we have a connection with the poet yet, but we'll see.
Shakespeare: I'm still reading Romeo and Juliet aloud to both boys, and we're almost finished with it!  Emory still loves Shakespeare!
Folk Song:  Billy Barlow The boys liked this particular version the best, hacking the rat up and all.
Hymn: On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand
Composer:  Music Appreciation (review) and then we listened to some John Williams (free with Prime) for fun, to prepare for Stars Wars Day!
Picture Study: Peter Paul Rubens from Simply Charlotte Mason

Then one week we also looked at The Fall of Phaeton, since Elliott read that story in literature earlier this year.  I read a little bit of a summary to Emory after their narrations.

Peter Paul Rubens - The Fall of Phaeton (National Gallery of Art)

Random Connections From the 5 Year Old
The week the local schools were on spring break, our co-op did not meet, so I let the kids have a free day and the girls had Mother Goose Time on the background while they played.  It's on Netflix, and the graphics are twaddly, but the nursery rhymes and songs are timeless.  My 5 year old came running in, "Momma, it's Camptown Races!"  That was our Folk Song in February and she was excited to see them racing horses and singing the song.  I doubt she would have known it otherwise!   I was excited when I recognized Funicili Funicula on a television show, a song I didn't actually know prior to studying it this year, so I get where she's coming from!

At our co-op's end of the year program, I heard her casually ask me "Didn't you talk about this before?" while never taking her attention off of the drama theater's play.  Their performance was based off one of the stories I'd read her brother from Bullfinch's Mythology, and she'd recognized it all these weeks later!

It's so fun to see, despite not having "formal" lessons, she is absorbing and learning so much!

©2011-2018 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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Charlotte Mason and Notebooking

In the educational world, progress is often assessed by worksheets full of true/false, multiple choice and fill in the blank worksheets.  It is easy to see what the child doesn't know from a set of pre-selected facts when we just mark right or wrong and move on.  In the Charlotte Mason world, however, progress is, for most subjects, assessed through narrations.  It seems like such a strange concept to allow our children to simply tell us what they know!  Asking them direct questions limits them to those pre-selected facts, but asking them to narrate gives them time to think over the material, form original thoughts, and share what they found important, memorable and worthy.  The idea behind an education, at least in our homeschool, isn't simply to know a set number of facts by their eighteenth birthday, but to make connections, form relationships, to have an interest in a wide variety of topics, and to be prepared as a lifelong learner.

This post contains affiliate links.

Now that we have left traditional worksheets and busy work behind, I have found our approach to language arts has changed drastically!  Narration is really one of the core methods behind the philosophy, but "tell me what you read" can get boring after a while.  To add variety to my children's narrations, and to jazz up their portfolios, I have found to be an great resource.

I have a Y2 student, who is still doing oral narrations, and a Y4 student, who is expected to do at least one written narration per week, and a Year 0 who is just along for the ride.  I have found quite a bit of useful material for all of them.

My Year 2 is studying mammals this year, and he loves for me to print out a relevant animal notebooking page for him.  He enjoys looking up the animal in his field guide and coloring while I read, but I make sure to print a page with a few lines for writing his narration or interesting facts.  (Or he dictates to me, since he is younger.)  If they don't have a specific mammal, I can always print a general mammal page with room to draw the animal, and he enjoys that too.

Of course, then my 5 year old wants a coloring page too - so she gets an animal coloring page of her choice!  There are so many options with different sized lines for printing (or no lines at all for non-writers), as well as the ABC animal pages or the ABC copywork pages (for the beginning writer), and a handful of history coloring pages that are appropriate for the precocious young one that likes to tag along but isn't easy for formal learning.  There really is something for all ages and skill levels.

My oldest son is transitioning into written narrations - one, sometimes two per week, and I like to alternate the book and subject each week for his narration, so he is writing about a diverse array of topics and has a variety of work represented at the end of the year.  Handwriting isn't his strong suit, so we do typed narrations often.  However, I still try to change things up and give him different types of notebooking pages to make him think about things differently.  Sometimes the page just asks for a summary.  This is great for shorter books (like the picture book biography from AO Y4) or family readings that don't require a lot of narrations throughout.

Then, each time I cycle back around to a subject, I try to choose a different type of written narration, which is super easy with these notebooking pages!  If he's done the book report, then a typed narration for science, I might choose the Science Experiment section when he does a hands-on activity, so he can do a write-up for his activities.

There is just so much depth to the website, that it really can be used by Charlotte Mason homeschoolers in different ways.
  • Famous Scientists: great to use after reading a biography 
  • History: many historical events can be documented through timeline or notebooking pages
  • Famous Poets: use as a copywork page for a favorite poem
  • Famous Artists:  contains notebooking pages and PRINTS for picture study!
  • Composers and Listening Pages: notebooking pages, coloring pages of the composer (great for little ones who like to join in), and Listening pages where they can write or draw what they thought/felt as they listened!  
  • Language Arts: There are a variety of Book Report pages, many of which can be used for a standard written narration
  • Geography: maps for following journeys in history and geography, and standard map drills 
  • Science/Nature Study: Wildflowers are on our list to study this spring.  There is a section that will work well...this is just a sampling of the different styles of pages.  If you have a dedicated nature journal, you can put these pages in, or customize your own complete nature journal with these pages.

Now, I know we don't need notebooking pages to dress up our narrations, but like I said, it gives us a little variety and keeps things fresh.  It works for us.  The pages are open-ended, meaning they aren't about right or wrong.  They are about the child's own connections and learning.  It can sometimes be hard to explain the Charlotte Mason methods, and how narration can convey so much, but carefully chosen pages for narrations can showcase the depth of the Charlotte Mason approach.

I feel like this is a solid investment at any time, but if you're unsure, you can check out my original review to see how we used NotebookingPages in the past (prior to committing fully to CM), and may I suggest you try out the Free Notebooking Pages Product Sampler first.  You can see a lot of the variety they have to offer and make an informed decision.

©2011-2018 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, April 24, 2018

Star Wars Day: Shakespeare Meets Star Wars

I'm sure you can imagine that, as Star Wars fans, my kids are looking forward to May 4th.  They have already declared Star Wars Day a holiday in our homeschool!

William Shakespeare's Star Wars
This post contains affiliate links.

We will be finished with co-op by then, so they are moving their off day to May 4th and making everything about Star Wars.  We'll be listening to John Williams' Greatest Hits, primarily the Star Wars tracks (free with Amazon Prime) for a fun modern composer study, and they want to find a fun craft or activity to do, before a Star Wars marathon.

I am surprising them with this William Shakespeare's Star Wars book though.  One of my kids loves reading Shakespeare, and the other looks at me with a pained expressed every time I pull out a Shakespeare book.  We've only been reading some lovely retellings at this point, because I want to warm the kids up to the stories before diving into the language of the full plays.  I have been eyeing these Star Wars books for awhile, and I have been waiting for the right time to introduce them.  Star Wars Day seems like a great way to pull them in!

They're nice little hardcover books, and would make a fun reader's theater type activity.  I am pretty sure we'll start this on Star Wars Day, and then carry it through the rest of the month in our Shakespeare slot.  How fun!

©2011-2018 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, April 21, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Dandelion Bouquets

What is it about dandelions?  When most adults see it as a wildflower at best, or a nuisance weed at worst, a three year old is automatically drawn to the dandelion.  I think it's the bright yellow that suddenly pops up, dotting the landscape.  It suddenly feels like spring when the dandelions make their first appearance.  It's an opportunity to pick a few flowers for mommy. 

This picture also exudes Eloise's spirit.   She's never been crazy about wearing shoes, but that sweet laugh as she kicks her shoes off and runs through the grass barefooted reminds me that they're only little once and the joys of their childhood are too precious to worry about carrying her shoes back in every day.

©2011-2018 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, April 14, 2018

Saturday Snapshots: Garden Helper

I am not good at doing full weekly wrap-ups for our homeschool (which is why I give A Peek into our Homeschool Monthly instead) but I wanted to start sharing more about those random moments, homeschool or not, that are special.  Wordless Wednesdays aren't always enough for me to really think out what the pictures means to me.  My hope is that I will spend a few minutes on Saturdays, sharing some of the special moments from the week.  Just to capture the memories.

My husband took these pictures, when he and the big kids were helping my father-in-law in the garden.  These are the memories I want for all my kids - to remember the lazy days, the work days, the fun moments with their family.  Eleanor especially exemplifies everything special about living near the grandparents.  She thinks her pawpaw hung the moon, and it's not a stretch of the imagination to say she's got him wrapped around her little finger.  They are certainly a pair!  Eleanor is a happy, joyful helper who always wears a smile, but to be able to spend the morning playing in the dirt and helping her pawpaw . . . well, you can't get any better than that!

©2011-2018 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, April 10, 2018

Music Appreciation with Memoria Press (review)

Music is a way to bring beauty and joy into our lives, and it seems obvious that we would use it in our homeschool as a way of connecting with the past and other cultures.  As part of a Charlotte Mason education, one element of music that we enjoy are composer studies, which is the focus on one composer at a time.  Recently, we were given the opportunity to review the Music Appreciation I course from Memoria Press, and though a different approach than what we were taking, I thought it might be a good way to supplement our composer studies.

What is Music Appreciation?

Music Appreciation I is designed for 3rd-5th students, and includes Music Appreciation Book I and the Audio Companion CD.  The course includes 26 Chapters, each covering a different piece of classical music, and they are roughly in chronological order to show the progression of music.  Then there are 7 Chapter Reviews.  This gives you 33 weeks of material: enough wiggle room for the average school year of 36 weeks.

The course covers many famous composers and popular works, like Vivaldi and The Four Seasons (focus on winter), but it also covers a few cultural pieces like The Twelve Days of Christmas (Chapter 12) and The Star Spangled Banner (Chapter 26).  A few composers are covered more than once, but there is a large variety, from Handel, to Beethoven, to Wagner, to Dukas and Gershwin.  Going through this course will expose students to a solid variety of composers and music theory.

Each chapter is divided into six or seven sections, and I found that two or three sections at a time is a reasonable pace for us.  My music background is limited to one middle school music elective and five years of clarinet.   While some of the theory was familiar to me, we aren't an overly musical family and I haven't passed on anything to my kids.  So for a 3rd and 5th grader with virtually no musical background, breaking the lesson up over a few days works better.

Listen - You listen to the selection, via a playlist on the Memoria Press website.

A Little History - This gives background information on the composer and the piece being studied.  It's written in an engaging manner, which we liked.

Musical Concept - Form, melody, rhythm, are all concepts we learn in early chapters.  By the end of the course, we'll be covering motif, tonal, meter and more.

About the Piece - This is where we find more specific information about the piece being studied, and how the musical concepts relate to the piece.

(The Audio Companion CD typically contains a few short tracks to help demonstrate the musical concepts being discussed; the scores are in the book and musicians are encouraged to play them if they wish.)

Music History - Sometimes we will find information about the progression of music, or how the composer we're studying began to try new things.  Chapter five's information about the broad term of classical music and the more specific style of music that is classical was very interesting to me.

Facts to Remember - We review the major concepts covered in the chapter, such as the composer and title of the piece we've studied, and the musical concepts we learned.  Important words are bolded in this review just as they are in the text, so these would be good "vocabulary" words if you stress that.

Listen Again - Finally, we're encouraged to listen to the full selection again.  We're given the suggestion to listen for the melody, or for the instrument(s) used, or for arpeggios, or whatever we're studying.  Essentially, the first listen is for pleasure and exposure to the piece, and the last listen is almost to train the ear to recognize everything discussed in the chapter.

How We Used Music Appreciation 

The introduction section states that concepts are introduced slowly, so no musical knowledge is needed to use the book.  However, those with knowledge of music theory can easily jump around between chapters.  Since we received the curriculum right as it was time to switch composers, I decided to temporary pause our composer study and focus on using the book, so we just started at the beginning.

There really weren't instructions on how to use use the program or pace the course, but after I looked over the number of chapters and tests, and determined it was probably one chapter per week, we just did some trial and error through the first few chapters to find the pace that worked best for us.  Listening to the piece each day that we do part of a lesson is a good idea though, to continue to listen for the musical concepts and become familiar with the piece if we're not already.  I also found that asking for narration after each section is helpful.

There are Review Tests, and these are standard fill in the blank and multiple choice type questions.  We don't "test" in this way, but I don't mind rewording the questions to encourage narration.  The last question for each test is a listening exercise where the student is to listen to a portion of each of the pieces and identify them on a chart.  I really liked this, and I think I'm going to tweak our regular composer study process in order to do this.

My kids don't play instruments or sing or have any particular interest in music theory right now, so they tolerated learning the musical concepts, but they did enjoy listening to the pieces and reading the historical sections.  They like learning random facts about composers and one of their favorite lessons was in Chapter 3 on Bach and the harpsichord.

This was our first year really doing composer studies, and I think my kids needed another year or so to build a more solid appreciation of classical music before diving into music theory.  Going forward, I still think this book will make a quality supplement to our composer studies.  I intend to resume our composer studies, utilizing the relevant chapters from this course whenever applicable.  The book will take longer to use this way, but I am fine with that.  Although the book is intended for 3rd-5th graders, I found a large difference in what my 3rd grader and 5th grader were getting out of it, so using it a little longer as they are older will be fine.  I feel the program is definitely rich enough for older students!

Memoria Press is well-known and respected for their classical curriculum.  We have used (and are still using) their New American Cursive curriculum.  More recently though, the Crew was given the opportunity to review a variety of subjects in addition to the music program, including Spelling and multiple levels of Latin.  If you are interested in finding out more about what Memoria Press offers, I highly suggest you check out the reviews!

Spelling, Music Appreciation & Latin {Memoria Press Reviews}

©2011-2018 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.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Peek into our Homeschool: March 2018

Normally I feel like each month flies by, but March actually felt rather slow and steady.  Perhaps it was the weather and the sickness, as both kept us indoors quite a bit, so we didn't feel like we were going all the time.

This post contains affiliate links.

The boys did start a basketball class at co-op, which is an outside instructor that comes in and spends an hour (before co-op starts) working on different skills.  I guess it's more like a "camp" but they like it.

All of our school subjects are going well.  We're plodding along, making good progress, and of course, enjoying some books immensely while tolerating others.  I did make a change to Elliott's AOY4 literature.  We were struggling to get into Kidnapped, so I moved it to a free read and bumped up The Incredible Journey from Term 3.  He is already giving me great narrations with this book!

Then for his Term 3 literature, he will do Robin Hood from Y2 with Emory.  I made this choice before seeing AO's Pre-7 list, but after noticing that they have Robin Hood under literature and Kidnapped under free reads as suggested prerequisites, I feel comfortable with this decision.  Due to our late transition (October), I'm looking for ways to "lighten" our load for Term 3 as we near summer, without sacrificing overall quality, and I think this will help.

The kids and I have been listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the car, and they all love it, especially the 5 year old!  We've also been reading/listening to Peter Pan over lunch.


Then sometimes, I read something else entirely different at lunch, like these Carole P. Roman books we reviewed.

My Year 0 Kiddos
Eleanor has been enjoying watercolor crayons a lot right now!

Eloise is at that stage where she still loves pointing out every single thing in an illustration. The I Spy . . . Art books are great for this, and she loves them right now!

The Riches 

Poet - Songs of Childhood by Walter de la Mare
Picture Study - Peter Paul Rubens from Simply Charlotte Mason
Composer - Music Appreciation 1 {review coming}
Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet by Bruce Coville
Hymn - Are You Washed in the Blood?
Folk Song - The Riddle Song
Art/Handicrafts - We took a couple weeks off (they do art at co-op, so I don't stress), then picked up with a week of Origami and a week of clay.

Eleanor got a little decorative with her pig and cat faces.

Random conversation with the 5 year old

Eleanor:  Momma, what's your favorite animal?
Me:  um...Cheetah?
Eleanor: takes picture with an old camera, then says very politely: "Um, momma, since you're slow you can be a slow animal."
Me:  Okay.  I'll be a sloth then.  {thanks kid!}

At first I thought I should be offended.  Then I thought, hey, if she's offering me the chance to slow down!  In all honesty, I don't think she meant that I'm slow, just that I'm not fast like a cheetah.  At least, I hope that's what she meant!

Free Curriculum Worth Mentioning!

WordBuildOnline - Free Vocabulary!
A few years ago, we reviewed WordBuildOnLine.  It is an online vocabulary enhancement program that focuses on prefixes and suffixes to quickly build vocabulary.  It is now offered completely free, ad supported, in an effort to relieve any financial burden on parents and schools, so as to reach more students.  The free option uses kid-friendly ads, but you can still purchase the premium (ad free) option for the same price.  The two programs are otherwise identical; WordBuildOnline just wants to extend more literacy options to children!

Critical Thinking Coloring Book Level 1 - This is currently free from The Critical Thinking Co.  This is a fun little Pre-K to 2nd grade level coloring book.  It encourages observation and attention to detail, while still allowing for creativity.  If you have a precocious little one who wants to "do school" or need to gently bolster these skills with an early elementary student, this is a fun little freebie!

Free Notebooking Pages Product Sampler from  We use this frequently to "dress up" our written narrations.  We use some of the mammal pages for Burgess Animals, and the science pages are good for demonstrations/experiments.  The variety looks good for portfolio fodder too.

©2011-2018 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, March 27, 2018

Carole P. Roman {book reviews}

Over the years, we've collected several books by author Carole P. Roman.  She has several different series, and we especially love her cultural and historical books.  Recently, we were given the opportunity to select more titles from Carole P. Roman books and collections to review.  We chose three titles from her cultural series, If You Were Me and Lived in . . .

This series is designed to teach children about countries and cultures around the world, and it does so through the eyes of a child.  The books are written in the second person, from one child to another.  They walk the reader through their home country, teaching about their everyday life.  What would your name be if you were a girl or boy in this country?  What would you call your mom and dad, or your grandma and grandpa in the native language?  What would be your favorite games, toys or sports?  What foods are loved by your family?  These are the types of cultural facts that are addressed.  Essentially, the narrators are sharing what a childhood in this country is like, through the things that are most important to children.

When requesting the specific titles to review, I tried to get variety so we could travel across different continents, experience different languages, and really see the differences in the cultures.  I'm always looking for easy ways to add to our geography studies, and add cultural appreciation, and these books are a fun resource.  Although the books are written for ages 4-8 years old, there is much flexibility with this age range.  I read them to my older three kids, who are 5, 8, and 11, and they all appreciated them on a different level.

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Brazil
I chose this book because last year in co-op, one of the facilitators was from Brazil and taught a Portuguese class for the kids.  I knew it would be a good way to make an interesting real-life connection.  We learned why Portuguese is the national language of Brazil, and as we looked at Brazil on the map in the book, one of the kids immediately went to our wall map to find it.  I love it when books encourage this kind of exploration.  We also learned that Brazil produces the most coffee in the world, and we noticed that the page numbers have little coffee mugs next to them!  The kids made sure to tell dad that night, as he is our resident coffee drinker.

If You Were Me and Lived in  . . . Italy
We requested this book because I thought it would be fun to expose the kids to some Italian.  I love that each book uses many common words in the country's native language, and includes a pronunciation guide in the back.  My older elementary kids really enjoy this part of each book, but have actually requested that Italian be our foreign language of choice!  This book in particular gave us a lot of interesting facts about Rome, due to its influence on western civilization, and reminds us that it is the only city in the world that has another country inside of it, referring to The Catholic Church and Vatican City.  The kids noticed the page numbers were marked with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and questioned why it wasn't mentioned in the book.  I know every landmark can't be included, but I found that an odd choice.  There are some fun facts about the Colosseum though!

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . India
The final book we chose focused on India.  One of my goals for my children is to not just teach them geography and cultures, but to curate a sense of appreciation, sensitivity and wonder about the rest of the world.  This book focuses on a region we haven't really studied yet, so it offered opportunity to expand our horizons a bit.  My husband has also been wanting to try some Indian recipes he saw online, and though we haven't had another Foreign Cuisine night yet, I definitely want to include some of the foods that we read about in this book.  The kids found another connection with the rickshaw cab in this book, as we had read a literature book earlier this year featuring rickshaws.  They also really liked reading about the Taj Mahal, since they are always interested in famous architectural landmarks.

Final Thoughts
As the books are geared towards younger children, they are simply written and focus on lighter topics, and avoid things like religion or politics.  They are slightly formulaic, in that we know all of the major topics that are going to be covered.  I usually read the pages before showing the pictures, but my older kids always know when the favorite toy of the little sister is going to be a doll, and when they are headed to school at the end of the book.  That being said, they are still informative for the older crowd who hasn't had much foreign language or world cultures exposure.  The books can be a  great starting point for a geography study - we like to read one during the week, look it up on the map, and maybe discuss a few topics out of them, and practice saying the different words in the target language.  The kids also pointed out how the pictures varied, as some pages have only illustrations, and others have a realistic photographic background with illustrated overlays.  It was an interesting touch.


Looking up photographs online is a great way to dig a little deeper, and we usually did this too.  You can also cook recipes mentioned in the book, or have them research the holidays or other cultural aspects mentioned in the book, or see what rabbit trails it takes you on.  I've taken one of the other books in this series to my 2nd grade literature co-op class (South Korea, for the Olympics earlier this year) and used it as part of a lesson on informational texts.  There are just so many possibilities with these books, and the kids have actually asked me to get our others back out to read again!

In addition to the cultural series, Carole P. Roman also has a history series, bedtime stories, and more.   We have reviewed several other titles over the years:
Mexico, France, South Korea, Norway
Australia, Portugal, Russia
Colonial America, Ancient Greece, Middle Ages, Elizabethan England
Egypt, Ancient China, Mars, Rocket-Bye

Carol P Roman Children's Book Author

The Homeschool Review Crew is currently reviewing books from every series, so be sure to check out more reviews to see everything that the author offers!


Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

©2011-2018 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.