Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Novare Science & Math- Homeschool Review Crew Review

Have you noticed that Christian Science books are hard to find?  I have been doing this homeschooling thing for 19 years now, and really, it is one of the main subjects I have the hardest time finding curriculum for. Recently, we had the opportunity to review Novare Science & Math's science book, Earth Science: God's World, Our Home. 

Written by Kevin Nelstead and intended to be used by middle school age children, typically in 7th or 8th grade, this 501 page hard-back book packs a punch.  This is one of the most comprehensive science books I have seen in a long time.  It's 15 chapters cover-
  • Earth in Space
  • Visualizing Earth
  • Thinking About Earth
  • Matter and Minerals
  • Rocks and the Rock Cycle
  • Plate Tectonics and Mountain Building
  • Volcanoes and Earthquakes
  • Weathering, Erosion, and Soils
  • Surface Water and Groundwater
  • Landforms
  • Unraveling Earth's History
  • Oceanography
  • The Atmosphere
  • Weather
  • Climate and Air Pollution

At the end you will find an extensive glossary as well as an appendix of minerals.

Also available is a Resource CD loaded with things you will find most helpful.  For the schedule-loving moms out there, (that's me) a 20 week, 5 day a week sample lesson schedule is provided.  Topics are listed as well as the text reading for the day, any learning checks to be completed, as well as quizzes and tests scheduled.   In line with the mastery based approach that Mr. Nelstead uses, beginning in week 3 there is a weekly Review Guide provided to make sure your student is remembering all they have learned so far. There is also a Learning Check guide for each chapter section that provides you as the teacher sample answers to the Learning Checks.  Short answer quizzes and answer keys are also on your Resource CD and are administered once a week, as well as chapter tests.

What is a chapter like?
Each chapter is set up basically the same.  The chapters begin with Objectives and a list of vocabulary words that will be learned.  The main chapter subject is broken up into smaller sections making for easier reading.  At the end of each chapter is a Learning Check.  These Learning Checks are usually 2-6 questions on the material just read and can be answered orally or on paper, depending on your preference.  At the end of each chapter is a more thorough question section called Exercises.  If your child can answer those questions well, they are prepared for the test for sure!  Chapters are generally about 20 pages in length and usually take a week to a week and a half to work through.

Sprinkled throughout each chapter are exquisite pictures, full color maps, and scientific charts to help break up the text and provide visual interest.  Also to be noted are the numerous Bible scriptures that are quoted and referenced.

Our thoughts and usage-
Normally, before we begin any program, review or not, I try to read through the first few chapters myself before I introduce my kids to the program.  Earth Science: God's World, Our Home was no exception. The preface for teachers is a very detailed conversation on how the author feels is best to use this book in teaching and is very informative.  Immediately I was impressed with his thoughts on Mastery teaching, integration and especially Kingdom perspectives.

"The study of Science provides us with unique ways of seeing God's creative presence in the world."
 Yes, and amen!

Unfortunately, and much to my disappointment, this is also where we parted ways in agreement.

"...we accept the mainstream scientific view the the universe is 13.77 billion years old and Earth is about 4.6 billion years old." (p. xvi)

No, we are not old earth believers.  And I do not ever want to make this a place for that argument.  Like Mr. Nelstead, I agree that this is not a thing that needs to divide believers.  Had his belief been mentioned and then moved on, I was very ready to continue the book in our school, even using it as a conversation with my boys about the differences in beliefs, Old Earth and New Earth in particular.  But after comments such as, "We find that according to the soundest principles of Biblical exegesis"  and "the generally accepted value for Earth's age at present is about 4.6 billion years," our family decided this was not a book we were comfortable having the boys use independently.  Ironically, Mr. Nelstead won't even touch the subject of evolution, which to me is no more controversial than the Big Bang theory he supports.

That being said, if you are an old earth believer, or do not have strong feelings one way or another on those teachings, this is a science book worth using.  I found all other information presented to be well laid out and easy to understand.   Even my youngest son (in 5th grade) and I have enjoyed reading several chapters together.  Since we recently had two tornadoes touch down in our area, the Weather chapter has been his favorite, followed by Earthquakes and Volcanoes.  What's with boys?!

You can see what my fellow Crew bloggers had to say about Novare Science & Math by clicking on the banner below.

Also available-
Introductory Physics
General Chemistry
Science for Every Teacher

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 26, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean-Rinse and Repeat: Week 25- The Yard

I hope you were able to have some fun with last week's assignment and get out and enjoy some nice weather!  Since the warmer temperatures have finally found us here, we have enjoyed the new arrangement on our back porch immensely.  Don't ya love when a little change can make a HUGE difference?

Anyway, we are staying outside for one more week- so let's tackle that yard.  Now I know that this is going to be a bigger project for some than others.  Some of you have been blessed by amazing property, while others are pretty close to our neighbors.  We fall somewhere in between.  Whatever the case may be for you, embrace what you have been blessed with and do the best you can!

So here we go!
  • First, assess the situation.  Stand in your front yard and take a look at what you see through fresh eyes.  Does something stand out to you?
Shrubs that need to be trimmed. 
Paint that needs a touch up.
Broken toys or stacks of things that need to be thrown out or at least put away.
  • Now do the same thing for your back yard.  I am convinced that the houses we drive by that look like a confused mess are not seen that way by the owners.  I believe that when the mess belongs to us we fail to see what others see.  Today, try to see your property like never before. Ask yourself, if you were driving up to your house for the first time to potentially buy it, what would you think?
  • Now, GET STARTED!!  
Mow the grass.  Edge. Weed eat.  Tend to the flower beds.  Throw the junk away.  Put things where they really belong.

Make your yard say welcome!  And make it a place that makes you smile when you drive into your driveway!
My new firepit

And make sure you take some pictures to share with us!

Speaking of pictures, how did you do last week?  Be sure to share your progress so we can cheer you on!

Don't worry friends, we are headed back inside soon!  But until then, this week is a surprise spot-check for your pantry!  Go ahead, peek inside and see how it compares to several weeks ago.  Is it still sparkling and organized?  If not, take 15 minutes tonight to put it back in shape.  If you devote just a few minutes each day to keeping your house organized, it will make your life much simpler!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Schooling Year-Round While Other Kids Have Summer Break

I admit it. I am one of THOSE moms.  Hi, my name is Michele and yes, we school through the summer months!

Before you call the school police on us, let me explain.

During the official school year, August through May, we typically follow a Sabbath School Schedule as much as we can, doing school 6 weeks and then taking one week off.  We have a college student who attends a school in a different state so we have to be flexible because of her schedule sometimes, but we stay as close to the six weeks on, one week off as we can. 

My kids thrive on schedules and consistency and so do I.  It's just how we roll around here.  For that reason, when summer hits, I am just not ready to throw school out the door because-
  1. We need some consistency
  2. I do not want our learning to end
  3. There are so many programs out there to explore
  4. It cuts down on the "I'm bored" complaints 
But HOW do you do it when other kids have a summer break and yours do not?


START EARLY- In the day that is.  For us, getting school done early and out of the way is an incentive to get to do other special activities.  My boys know when they are done with their assignments they are free to play.

BE CHOOSY- We do not do every subject in the summer.  We continue math because that is a skill that is easily lost with a two or three month break.  We also use the summer months to catch up on anything we may have fallen behind in, as well as adding any electives the kids want to try.

BE FLEXIBLE- There are days when things come up and that's ok.  Sometimes things trump school and we just move on the following dayDon't become wrapped around the axle when unexpected things happen.  There are lessons to be learned even in those things.

BE CONSISTENT- That being said, we also try hard to be as consistent as possible.  If the kids think they have a bargaining chip every day then school can become a battle.  Just letting them know this is part of our daily routine keeps the complaints to a minimum.

DON'T FORGET TO READ- Whether it is as a family or as individuals, read, read, read!  Summer is a great time to visit the library or pull favorites off the shelf and encourage reading.  In the heat of the day or after a busy morning are great times to incorporate reading into your quiet time.  We keep a stack of books in a prominent place in our living room for our kids to choose from for summer reading.  For older kids, they have wish lists they mark off as they read.

INCLUDE OTHERS-  Want to do art? Invite the neighborhood kids and teach them all!  Never been to a local museum? Take a field trip and include another family or two!  This summer we even have Biology dissections scheduled with 5 or 6 other families.  Let's face it, some things are just more fun with friends!

MAKE IT FUN- Above all, make summer a fun time for learning.  Teach a new skill or explore a new subject.  Let your child choose and let their imaginations run wild.  You may discover a new talent or favorite subject along the way.  Summer unit studies are a great way to immerse your kids in a subject that fascinates them.  They will learn what they love!

So yes, I am THAT mom, but my kids don't seem to mind too much.  It is what we do, and we have fun doing it!  How about you- are you ready to learn this summer?


What Can We Do When It's: too Hot, Cold or Raining? {Homeschool Link UP}

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Learning American History With a Horse

Being a part of the Homeschool Review Crew provides so many neat opportunities for our family, but one of the most exciting for the boys is when books hit our steps.  It's pretty hard for us to say no to book reviews, so when we heard we were going to get the full set of Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, we may have just done a happy dance.  Yeah, we did a happy dance! So excited about the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series!

The Adventures of Rush Revere is actually a five book series written by Rush Limbaugh.  If you did not already know, Rush Limbaugh is a wonderful story teller.  I for one was not aware of that and so I admit, I was a bit doubtful of the story credibility.  Boy, was I put in my place!

Not only are these books well written and entertaining, but are loaded with a wealth of historical information about American History.  Written at a middle school level but appropriate for older and younger kids, Rush takes you on adventure after adventure with the help of the main character, teacher Rush Revere, and trusty magical horse Liberty.  With a simple chant, Liberty and his friends can time travel to different events in American History and witness first hand what took place while interacting with the people as well. 

Book 1- Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims- In the first book of the Adventures of Rush Revere, the prologue begins the adventure with school teacher Rush Revere and his horse, Liberty, on the Mayflower.  After capturing the attention of the reader, additional characters, Tommy, Freedom, and Elizabeth are introduced when their new substitute teacher, Rush Revere, comes to their class. After introducing the students to his talking horse who can help them time travel by jumping through portals, the adventures begin.  They get to meet Squanto and William Bradford, as well as watch the First Thanksgiving.

Book 2- Rush Revere and the First Patriots- Again, the prologue sets you in the appropriate time in history, this time with the first patriots and the beginning of the American Revolution.  The excitement builds as you meet Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry and see if Elizabeth will change history.

Book 3- Rush Revere and the American Revolution- This book is about, you guessed it, the American Revolution and is MY favorite of all the books.  This book focuses on the character Cam who has been acting differently since his father was recently deployed.  Since we are a military family whose dad has been deployed several times, this one just tugs at my heart strings as you read about Cam and his struggles.  I also love how the book shows an adult outside of Cam's family reaching out to care about him.  It takes a village sometimes!

Book 4- Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner- This was the first book that Colby read.  He says it is about the time Rush Revere took his students on a train to Washington, DC.  They visited famous places like the White House, Washington Monument, and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials.  They also time jumped to the time of the War of 1812 to learn about when Francis Scott Key wrote the song The Star-Spangled Banner.

Book 5- Rush Revere and the Presidency- This was Colby's favorite book in the series and actually the one he read second! He has a strange obsession with presidents so the name captured his curiosity immediately.  He said this book talks about the first three presidents "a lot!"  Because two modern day characters, Cam and Elizabeth, are running a school campaign for student body president, Rush Revere and Liberty take them back in time to learn how to prepare and run a race better.

Our thoughts- Well, if you couldn't already have guessed, we loved these books!  I admit to being pleasantly surprised at how well they are written and the amount of historical content in them.  Being history buffs around here, we are pretty picky when it comes to historical fiction and these books meet the mark for sure.  

Colby, age 10, was easily able to read them on his own, taking about 4-5 days to complete one.  He loved the humor of the horse, Liberty, and he said the time travel was his favorite. When I caught him laughing out loud several times, he said that it made him laugh when Liberty made himself invisible and confused people. 

Rush Limbaugh and his team also blessed the leadership of Crew with the audio dramas as well.   Since my youngest is an audio drama nut this has been a HUGE blessing to us.  Yes, he has read the books, but he has listened to the CDs just about every night since they arrived.  It has gotten so bad that he can now quote parts of his favorites.  My husband and two of the older teens listened to one of the CD sets on a recent road trip, but they did say that the talking horse was a little much for them.  Party poopers!

A cool addition is that on the website you will find activities, games,  and even quizzes that correspond to the books.  You can submit things to the site and even win prizes.  While I do not let my 4th grader on random websites without supervision, this is one he has free access to.

If American History and adventure are your thing, or you just want to get your kiddos reading quality historical fiction, the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series is a great place to start!

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 19, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat: Week 24- The Porch and Deck

Now that the weather has finally warmed up around here (yes, I know, it is HOT), we were finally able to get outside without being cold and spruce up the front and back porches. (Don't worry, we will head back inside to finish up some places there soon!) During our long winters, a lot of dirt and grime collects, plastic things get brittle and break, and the place just screams for a little TLC.

So Porches and decks are up!  Ready, set, go!
  • Clear it all off.
  • Wash it all off.  This includes-
          - furniture
           -windows and doors
           -cracks and crevices
  • Throw anything broken or ratty out!
  • Return things to where they REALLY belong. (Like a sled that had been on the back patio all winter, just saying!)
  • Add a touch of beauty!  You don't have to invest a lot, just a little something that makes you smile every time you walk by.  This could include a plant, some pretty flowers, or just a mat at the door that says welcome!

And how our back deck looked before- 

And after!

Ignore the wrinkle in the rug!  The wind keeps doing that!

Someday I want amazing outdoor furniture and such but for now, I am learning to be content with what we have.  I did add a colorful rug last year and it held up well.  This past year I replaced a few plastic chairs since our wind had wreaked havoc on them.  This year we also brought the sitting area up to the deck and took the grill and table to the covered patio below.  It has been a nice change and we are eating out more due to the shade.  Our porch gets great sun all day, but that also means it tends to roast you alive at times.

A quick note of encouragement... not one of us is in the same situation, has the same tastes, or is even in the same place in our lives.  Some of us live in apartments, rentals, or even with family. Some of us have palatial homes while others are bursting at the seams.  Regardless of our circumstances, we have a choice to either be content or not.  From one who moves every two years or so, may I encourage you to be content with where God has you?  He has great plans for you and your family.  Look for the blessings and be thankful - something I tell myself daily!

A BIG shout out to Redeemed and 621 Gifts for donating prizes for our drawing at the end of our series.  Just 10 weeks to go, my friends!  Make them count!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Double Digits

Double digits!  10 years old!  Can you believe it?


Well, it doesn't matter if you can, I CAN'T!  It doesn't even seem possible.

While we weren't at this boy's birth, he has been in our heart for a very long time.

He makes me laugh, wears me out, challenges me, is the best snuggler, is smart as a whip, and did I mention, wears me out!?

I told you he makes me laugh- 

He beats me at almost every game we play,

Loves to swim,

He loves animals,

Loves to read and is an amazing learner,

Loves baseball,

Oh, how we love him!

Happy Birthday, Colby Jose!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Great Britain Vacation

Yes, my two girls went.  No, I did not!
But I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures anyway! ;)

Thanks to the generosity of their grandparents my girls just returned from a 10 day tour of England and Scotland.  They had a blast and we have had so much fun living vicariously through them.  The stories have been entertaining and they made enough memories to last a lifetime.

Edinburgh Castle in Scotland

Westminster Abbey, no pictures allowed inside, but it was as stunning as the outside!

the girls, their grandparents, and the tour group!

You can also see all of Riley's photos here!

They are busy dreaming of their next trip- where would you go?


Monday, June 12, 2017

34 weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat: Week 23- The Linen Closet

Let's just say that with all the work we have been doing around this house, I am glad that some assignments are easier than others.  We have a few pretty intense ones coming up, so enjoy this week, friends! ;)
The linen closet

For us it is pretty benign.  Since we only have a few sets of sheets per bed and only a few sets of towels per person, we do not have a stuffed linen closet- just a cluttered one.   For some reason we still tend to toss things in and shut the door- FAST.  I am working on that with the kids!

 Here we go-

  • Pull it all out.  
  • Sort and purge!  Did I mention that you do not need 20 sets of sheets and towels unless you have a really large family?  Usually two per person with a few for guests are sufficient.  And sheets, well, you can only use one set at a time.  Just saying.  Throw out old, stained, and worn sheets and towels!  Maybe even treat yourself to a new set.
  • Wipe off shelves and doors to linen closet.
  • Put everything left back neatly.
The little vacuum stays there for quick pick ups for the kids!

Done!  See, I told you that was easy!

Trash pile

Three things to note
  1. You do not always have to use a space for its intended purposes.  Sometimes it pays to get  creative.  I have seen people keep their towels and sheets in their bathroom cabinets and use their linen closets for craft storage, office storage and yes, we even used ours in the last house for a Lego closet!  Think outside the box and make your space work for you!
  2. We keep all of our stockpile toiletries in the tub on the floor.  It is easy for the kids to access if they need new soap, shampoo etc.
  3. The polka dotted tote on the top shelf you see is for my mom.  She visits often and we learned that it was much easier to just have a set of toiletries here.  That way, she does not have to bring extra stuff on the plane nor worry about forgetting things.  I also think you could do the same thing for any guests you have and store extra toothbrushes, soaps and such.
  4. We also keep all of our medicine and first aid things here in the plastic drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for quick reference.  If you have young kiddos, of course, you need to put those things out of reach! 

What about you, do you have a linen closet holding more than linens?  And how did you do on last week's assignment, the laundry/mudroom?  Can't wait to hear about your progress!

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Remember, one week at a time, but get moving!