Category Archives: Homeschool Resources

Lightning Literature & Composition – Grade 1

PicMonkey CollageIt’s no secret that we have a house full of book lovers.  Literature has been one of the most important parts of our educational journey since I first started being intentional with Ian about “school” when he turned 2.  So I was intrigued when I heard about Lightning Literature & Composition: Grade 1 from Hewitt Homeschooling, and blessed by the chance to review the Teacher Guide and Student Workbook over the last four weeks.

About This Program

Written by Elizabeth Kamath, Lightning Literature & Composition: Grade 1 incorporates quality children’s literature into a study of English grammar and mechanics while also guide them in writing their own compositions, making it a very thorough language arts curriculum.

P1030534xThe 302-page Teacher Guide is a softcover book that clearly lays out the lessons for each day.  The Teacher’s Guide includes questions to ask about the literature being used that week (and a place to record the student’s answers), instruction about the grammar or mechanical concept being taught (while teaching a specific concept such as when to use capital letters or what punctuation goes at the end of a sentence (with the focus on one concept each week), and specific instructions for the planning or writing of that week’s composition.

Each week’s literature lesson centers around a particular children’s book and also includes one of Aesop’s fables.  The books used include some of our favorite titles.  During the four weeks of our review, we revisited Harold and the Purple Crayon, Madeline, The Snowy Day, and Caps for Sale, and the list for the rest of the school year is equally delightful.

P1030535xThe Student Workbook is over 450 pages long! (The last lesson ends on page 439, but then there is a section for the child to create their own “dictionary” at the end, with a page for each letter.)  Most of the pages relate to the story for that week, even the grammar worksheets, which not only help the student practice the concept being taught that week but also review the concepts previously covered.

The pages are printed in full color on high quality, fairly glossy paper.  Everything is written in a large font that keeps the appearance simple and easy for the child to read.  The pages are 3-hole punched and perforated, which is really helpful given the book’s size.  It would be much easier to tear out the pages before giving them to the child to complete and then collect them in a separate notebook as opposed to having him try to work in such a thick book (especially since some are double-sided).

Additional materials needed are the children’s books (all are well-known titles that should be available at your local library), a copy of Aesop’s fables (available for purchase from Hewitt Homeschooling, or there are several free versions available online), and a composition book (or 3-ring binder in which to collect the child’s compositions).

How We Used It

We usually read the book of the week early in our day, when we gathered on the couch to read several things together.  It was a cozy story time that all my kids enjoyed being a part of.  I also used this time to talk through any of the planning steps for that week’s composition.  Then as we got ready to head to our school room for “seat work,” I went over the grammar and mechanics lesson with Ian and explained what he would be doing in his workbook.

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What We Liked

I loved the literature selections, and reading the books was definitely our favorite part of the program.  It is easy to use because every part of each day is clearly written out in the Teacher Guide.  I especially liked the suggestions at the end of each week for additional activities related to the books.

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The other thing I really liked was the gentle approach to composition. It was our first time doing anything of this sort, but Ian enjoyed creating his own stories, and this program did a great job of guiding him step by step.  There was never an overwhelming amount of work on any one day, but instead the process was broken down into simple tasks to help him craft his compositions.  After seeing how much he enjoyed this I am definitely planning to get him a composition book in which to copy stories he writes.  I think he will really like creating a book of his own work.

What Didn’t Work for Our Family

While I appreciated the inclusion of Aesop’s Fables in the curriculum, I would have liked a little more direction in how to use them.  My plan originally was to have Ian narrate them back to me, but the very first week that idea was challenged by the selection of the fable.  Even I was puzzled by what the moral was supposed to be teaching, so I wasn’t really able to help Ian figure out what the story meant and we didn’t do much more than just read it.  Thankfully, the fables in the following weeks were clearer, but I still would have liked a little more guidance on including them in our lesson.

Aside from that, however, the overall approach of Lightning Literature & Composition just doesn’t really fit well with my philosophy of education.  I try not to use worksheets very often and don’t plan to spend a lot of time specifically on grammar and mechanics until my children are older, preferring to let them pick up the concepts more naturally through copywork and reading, and then address issues as they come up rather than through a systematic approach.

P1030545Even if I felt like worksheets were a productive use of my children’s time, I’m not a fan of consumable resources.  The student workbook is easy for students to read because it keeps things simple, but that also means there’s not a lot on each page.  It felt really wasteful when I had Ian complete pages that seemed unnecessary to me.

Not only do I feel guilty wasting so much paper, but with multiple children in our family, I lean more toward materials I will be able to use over and over again.  When I do use an occasional worksheet, I prefer something in pdf form that allows me to print only the pages I want and reuse them for each of my children.  I would be more inclined to use this program if the student guide were available as a downloadable pdf that could serve our family in years to come.

My Overall Impression

I know my methods of homeschooling don’t work for every family.  I tend to like a lot of flexibility and don’t usually follow curriculum the way it’s intended.  If you’re like the many who prefer to have scripted lessons and detailed plans, I think this is a great choice for 1st grade language arts.  You and your children will enjoy the wonderful literature, they will learn a lot about grammar and mechanics, and they will have the opportunity to grow as writers through the well-planned composition portion of the curriculum.P1030532x

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Disciplined Studies: Language Arts

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 11

WholeHeartedMaybe it’s because I come from a family of teachers and have my own classroom experience, but I’ve never struggled with the insecurity I know many homeschool moms feel when they think of the enormous responsibility they have taken on as their children’s main teacher.  The only time I waver a bit is in areas when I’m taking an approach that’s completely different from the way something is taught in schools.

One of the main places I see this is with language arts.  Schools tend to use a systematic approach to teaching things like grammar, spelling, vocabulary and composition.  I feel those things are best taught through regular exposure to good literature.  The Clarksons have a similar approach.

“The more language your children are exposed to in the early years, the more they will naturally acquire good grammar.  Grammar rules, which will never by themselves make any child good at grammar, can wait until your child is writing easily and well at around age ten, and then only if they are needed” (page 199).

The same is true for things like punctuation and spelling.  Rules and word lists are not as affective as constant interaction with the written word.  We use methods such as reading aloud, narration, copywork, and dictation to teach the same concepts, and it feels so much more natural helping Ian pick things up as we go along.  I need to remember this when I start seeing what other people are doing and get worried.  I really appreciated this chapter because it reassured me I’m not being negligent by postponing the technical side of things.

In my college music history class I remember being struck by the knowledge that composers like Mozart and Beethoven grew up learning music theory and the mechanics of writing music by paying careful attention as they copied beautiful music of other composers note by note.  In the same way, I believe my children will learn how to write and communicate best by paying close attention to how other authors have used beautiful language before them.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

Accountable Kids (Review)

collageOne of the treasures I brought home from the Great Homeschool Convention last month was a bag full of goodies from Accountable Kids.  I was so impressed with this program from the moment I first stopped by their booth that I purchased boards for all four of my children, knowing that it’s something we will be using for years to come and even Nicholas would need his own place to keep track of his responsibilities.  Almost everyone who has come into our home since we started the program has commented on them, and so I thought I’d take some time to share with you about how Accountable Kids has helped our family.

 

What is It?

Accountable Kids is a system that helps children take responsibility for the things they need to do each day.  Although it has some components of a “chore chart,” it’s actually more of a time management system, because it includes things like eating meals and taking their vitamins as well as jobs like picking up toys or doing the dishes.

The main components of the program are the Progress Board and the various cards that are used with it.  Without going into a detailed explanation of all the cards, let me just give a quick overview.

The “responsibility cards” tell the child what they need to do.  You can trim the length to group them into different times of the day (morning, day, and evening).

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At the beginning of the day, all the cards are hanging on the first peg of their board.  When the child completes the action on the card, they flip it over onto the second peg.  When all the cards for that group are finished, the child gets a “ticket,” which they hang on the third peg.  If they complete all the responsibility cards that day, they will have earned 3 tickets, and they get a star on their “date” card (fourth peg).  On the fifth ticket, we hang cards with extra jobs that they can complete on top of their regular responsibilities.  When they complete one of these, they get a “bonus buck” card (which they hang behind their tickets on the third peg).

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We keep all the rewards cards on our “Mini Board,” which is mounted out of the children’s reach above their boards.  (There are two other kinds of cards, the “Best Behavior Card” and the “Privilege Pass,” which are also hung here.)

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So I just mentioned three kinds of rewards: tickets, stars on a “date card”, and “bonus bucks.”  The nice thing about these rewards is that each family can decided what those are worth.  I tell you about what we did in a minute.  It might sound a little complicated a first, but it’s actually pretty simple once you have it all in front of you.

Putting It to Use in Our Family

We watched the DVD with our kids, and they were eager to get started.  We let anticipation build up a bit as we went through a few steps to get things ready.

Personalizing Our Boards

The first thing we did was set to work decorating their boards.  I took the kids shopping and they each got to pick out some stickers.  I also bought some wooden letters to put on their names, which I painted and glued on the boards when I glued the pegs in.  Eric and I decided to cover them all with a coat of polyurethane (actually it took several coats) to give them a shiny finish before letting everyone decorate their own boards with the stickers they had chosen.

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Prepping the Cards

P1030370Next we got out all the cards and have the kids stamp the back of them so we knew whose was whose.  (The mom at the Accountable Kids booth at the convention suggested this, and it was a great idea!  Not only do I know who dropped a card if I find it on the ground, it also ensures that they can’t spend anyone’s tickets but their own.)

Once the cards were all stamped, I went through and pulled out cards for the things the kids were already doing.  (I wanted to make sure we got the system running smoothly before we added in any new responsibilities).  I trimmed them according to what time of day I wanted to group them in, Eric and Ian hung everyone’s boards on the wall, and then we were ready to start.

Putting Accountable Kids to Work

P1030384Our first day was beautiful.  The kids were excited about it all.  They loved knowing what was expected of them, and they especially loved the rewards.  In our house, 1 ticket = 15 minutes of screen time (either a video or computer games).  Everyone worked hard, got things done, and earned all their tickets.  Lovely.

The second day was enlightening.  Personalities started to show.  Elijah was excited to start saving up his tickets, whereas Ian was thrilled that he could buy screen time and started spending his tickets immediately.

However, then reality set in.  He dragged his feet about completing his morning cards and missed out on that ticket.  He spent 2 hours staring at a math page he easily could have completed in 20 minutes.  It made me realize how dependent I have made him on me to push him and prod him into getting things accomplished.

After about 90 minutes, he was standing on his chair stomping his feet saying, “I want to be done NOW!” over and over and over again.  I loved knowing that there were clearly established consequences for the choices he was making.  I didn’t have to get upset.  I didn’t have to hover over him.  I just calmly reminded him that he could be done as soon as he made the decision to do what he was supposed to do.  Then I went about my business.  (I got so much accomplished that morning!)

Eventually I took him a drink, gave him a hug, and pointed out that he already knew the answer to the next problem.  He quieted down and got right to work.  We haven’t really had any problems since then.  The kids don’t earn all their tickets every day, but it’s usually because things just got too busy, not because they were being defiant.

In the month that we’ve been using Accountable Kids, we have come a LONG way.  I’ve added in a couple daily responsibilities for the boys, and they almost always work through their cards with a good attitude.  When we are out doing other things and they miss a few cards, no one has complained about not earning a ticket, because there’s not much time for screen time on those days anyway.

I’ve awarded a few “Best Behavior” cards, which they can use like a normal ticket.  The key to these cards is that they cannot be earned.  I might give one to a child who comes immediately when I call them all over, rewarding his obedience and showing the others that they missed out by not obeying right away.  Or if I see one of them going out of their way to help another sibling without being asked, I praise them and reward them with a Best Behavior card.  They never know when I decided to use them, but it’s made it that much more special when they get one.

We haven’t implemented the entire program yet.  Our boys have done a couple extra chores to earn bonus bucks, but we haven’t really emphasized that yet, so they’ve kind of forgotten about them (as have we).  I think once we cash the boys’ bonus bucks in for real money they’re going to be more motivated to get that part of the program up and running.

We also haven’t had any date nights with mom or dad yet, which is the reward for getting 10 stars on their date card.  (They get a star when they’ve completed every responsibility card that day.)  We also haven’t used the Privilege Passes at all yet.

What We Liked

I wish I could show you the difference Accountable Kids has made in the overall atmosphere of our home.  Eric and I were marveling the other night over what good attitudes everyone has and how responsible the older boys especially have become.  I’m not sure I can put my finger on all the changes, but let me list of few:

  • No nagging about specific chores. (We just ask them how they’re doing on their cards.)
  • The kids really appreciate being “in control” of their own day.  Even though we decide what their cards are, they get to choose whether they do them and get the rewards or grumble and complain and then miss out.
  • I rarely have to tell the kids “no” when they ask to watch a show.  If they don’t have tickets, they don’t ask.  If they do, I’m usually more than willing to let them watch because I’m grateful their jobs are done.
  • Smiles! My children have become much happier, I think because of being able to take charge of their own lives.  I am amazed at the difference in one in particular, whose eyes just light up at being able to see what is expected and being able to do it without a grown-up being in control.
  • Overall, our house is so much tidier than it ever has been, just because I don’t have to nag the kids to pick up their things.  And now that they have cards for things like sweeping and emptying the dishwasher, I feel like I’m not alone in trying to keep the household running.  It’s been SO nice!

What Could Have Been Better for Our Family

I wish there had been a visual “quick start” guide for when we first put everything in motion, just because there are a lot of parts to the program and it was hard to keep them all straight at first.  We watched the DVD (which was really helpful), but I am such a visual person and I wish there had been a chart I could look at to remember the different parts of the program.  I started reading the book, but I haven’t gotten very far.

Aside from that however, there’s not really anything I would add or change.  I am really pleased with how Accountable Kids is working for our family, and I know we’ll be using it for a long time.  On a scale of 1 to 5, I would definitely give this program a 5!

Just the Facts

Accountable Kids is geared toward kids ages 3-14.  (Arianna is 2 1/2 and we help her with her cards as much as she’ll let us, but it’s not something I would use with her yet if she didn’t have older siblings.)

If you’re interested in using Accountable Kids with your family, visit their website to find everything you’ll need to get started. (For our 4 kids, we bought the Basic Start-Up Kit plus 3 extra Child Kits and a mini board.)  Here’s what they sell:

  • Basic Start-Up Kit Package (shown here), which includes a book, one child kit, and a link to the Quick-Start video online – $45
  • Deluxe Start-Up Kit Package, which includes everything in the basic package, plus a Family Forum board (not discussed in this review) and a mini board – $65
  • Extra Child Kits, which include a natural wood Progress Board, 60 Reminder Cards, 3 blank Reminder Cards, 10 Tickets, 10 Bonus Bucks, 4 Best Behavior Cards, 2 Privilege Passes, 3 Special Date Cards, and 2 sticker sheets – $24.98 when purchased with either of the above packages

I can’t speak highly enough about this program.  We had been trying to figure out a system for getting chores done and paying the kids for extra work, but we just hadn’t been able to come up with anything as simple and effective as Accountable Kids.  It is exactly what we were looking for, and I’m so thankful we stumbled across it!

Comparing My Top 2 Choices for Science

PicMonkey CollageAs we headed into this year I found myself going back and forth between two really good choices to use as a framework for our science studies: the Young Explorers series published by Apologia, and the God’s Design for Science series published by Answers in Genesis.

They have many similarities.  Both use biblical, creation-based books, which was essential for our family.  Both are designed to be used by students for 1st through 8th grade.  All the books I’ve seen in both series are full of beautiful color illustrations that draw students in and make them want to find out more.  So what are the main differences between them?

To answer that question I spent a lot of time online trying to find out what other people’s experiences with them has been.  While I found a lot of helpful reviews, I didn’t see a lot comparing the two (which was what I was really hoping to find).  So I thought I’d take some time to write out some of my thoughts as I made my decision.

First, let me introduce you to each series in case you’re not familiar with one (or both) of them.

The Young Explorers Series

Exploring Creation: Young Explorers Seven Book SetThis popular series helps students explore God’s creation by focusing on a specific topic for an entire year.  The books in the series are:

Written at about a 5th grade level, the books are intended to be used with the entire family, from ages 6-13 (though Jeannie Fulbright, the author, recommends the last three books on this list be saved for 3rd grade and up).  There are seven books, so it would take seven years to complete all of them at the recommended pace. Student notebooks are available for each book (also Junior versions) to help reinforce what is being learned.

The books are divided up into large “lessons,” most of which can be covered in about two weeks.  (For example, the Zoology 1 book has 14 lessons.)  The lessons do contain smaller sections with subtitles, but they aren’t specifically broken up into chunks of what to read each day.

I’ve heard people call these “living books” a la Charlotte Mason, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch.  They have beautiful pictures and are written fairly conversationally, but they are still a textbook as far as I am concerned.

The God’s Design for Science Series

The other series I considered using is God’s Design for Science.  The entire curriculum can be covered in 4 years, with 3 books for each year (books can be purchased separately or as sets):

God’s Design for Science CurriculumGod’s Design for Life

  • The World of Plants
  • The Human Body
  • The World of Animals

God’s Design for Heaven and Earth

  • Our Planet Earth
  • Our Weather and Water
  • Our Universe

God’s Design for the Physical World

  • Heat and Energy
  • Machines and Motion
  • Inventions and Technology

God’s Design for Chemistry and Ecology

  • Properties of Matter
  • Properties of Atoms and Molecules
  • Properties of Ecosystems

Because it takes only 4 years to complete the curriculum, it is possible to go through every book twice, doing deeper with students as they get older.  Each of the smaller books contains 35 lessons, so by doing 3 lessons a week, you easily get through the entire set of 3 books in a school year.  A CD-ROM with worksheets to go along with the lessons is included in the Teacher Supplements.

What Influenced My Decision

I heard so many wonderful things about the Apologia series when Ian was younger that I just assumed we would use them.  Last year we tried to use Exploring Creation With Astronomy (I had read of several families online who used it with Kindergarteners), but he definitely wasn’t ready.  He’s really interested in space, but it got too tedious after a while.  I stopped because I didn’t want to kill his natural love for the subject (though a few times he’s pulled it off the shelf and asked me to read a little more).

Because of that experience, I started looking into other options for science, and sometime in the middle of last year I discovered the God’s Design series, which became the only other one I seriously considered.  I had a really hard time even thinking about letting go of the Apologia (Young Explorers) series, just because I know it is fantastic and so many people love it.  However, when I forced myself to look at the two more objectively, the decision became much easier, and in the end I decided to go with God’s Design for Science (at least for now).

Here are the main reasons for that decision:

Clear Differentiation for Younger/Older students

The main thing on my mind as I decided which series to choose was how easy it would be to implement each one with our large family over the next several years.  The differentiation for younger and older students in the God’s Design books was the main selling point for me.  I know so many people who love the Apologia books, and while I agree that the content is wonderful (we have two of them and I’ve been able to look through several others), I feel like they’re just a bit advanced for younger students to go through the entire book, and we’re going to have young ones around for quite a while.

To show the difference between the two, here are lessons on flight from each book.

This page from Exploring Creation With Zoology 1 (Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day) has a lot of wonderful information, but it would be a lot for my 1st grader to take in:

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In contrast, here is the page on flight from The World of Animals (one of the books in God’s Design for Life):

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On the left is the “Beginners” section, which is a basic introduction to the topic, just enough for younger students.  On the right, you can see the beginning of the more in-depth section for older students.  The blue boxes have extra activities, some of which are appropriate for younger students, but others we’ll save for later.

It is so easy to use these books with a 1st grader.  We just open the book and read the appropriate section.  If we want to go more in depth, we either read further or pull out related books according to Ian’s interest.  With the Apologia book I think I would probably have to read the information on my own and then just summarize it for Ian (judging by our experience with Exploring Creation With Astronomy a few months ago).

Yet it will be just as easy to use the same books in four years.  Arianna will be in 1st grade that year and can stick with the Beginners section, but I won’t have to buy a new book to use with Ian in 5th grade because everything is already right there, requiring no additional lesson planning or work to coordinate what the different members of the family are studying.  I love that!

Structured Lessons

When we were reading through the Astronomy book, I just read as many smaller sections as I thought Ian could handle at once, not knowing if we were really staying on schedule to get through the book in a year (though it soon became clear that I wasn’t).  I suppose I could have gone through and marked out specific readings for each day, but that would have been rather time-consuming.  Plus, we probably would have had to read every day to get through the entire book in a school year using the length of reading that Ian could handle.

I really like the way the God’s Design series breaks down the reading into specific material for each day.  The way the reading is structured makes it really easy to know whether we are behind or if we have a little extra time to spend on topics that interest Ian.

My goal is to to do science 2 days a week.  Since we want to finish 3 lessons a week to stay on schedule, sometimes I read 2 lessons in one day, which hasn’t seemed overwhelming at all.  He’s also creating a notebook as we go, and the separate lessons have made it easy to decided what to write about.

4-Year Program is Easily Repeatable

If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about how much I love “cycles” when it comes to long-term planning.  I think it is extremely beneficial to give children a chance for repeating the same material at increasingly deeper levels as the grow.  I like that we can cover the God’s Design series in 4 years and then repeat it before my children get to a more thorough study of individual subjects in high school.  (I also am drawn to 4-year cycles because, as I said earlier, I think it will make it easier to study subjects as a family.)

Broad Scope of Science

The Young Explorers series seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time on life science as opposed to physical science.  While I personally lean toward biology and anatomy, I know my boys are fascinated by things like machines and inventions, and it just seemed like those subjects got the short end of the stick with the Apologia series.

Variety Within Each Year

I appreciate Jeannie Fulbright’s desire to help students retain knowledge by pursuing deeper study and spending an entire year on each subject.  Maybe it’s because I’m not as much of a science enthusiast as she is, but the thought of spending an entire year on most subjects fills me with dread.

I don’t want to skip any major parts of science with my children simply out of my own reluctance to spend such an extended period of time on them.  I like the way the God’s Design series allows for flexibility as far as subjects.  Although they have three similarly themed books in each set, you can actually just treat each individual book as a separate unit.  If you want to do one book from God’s Design for Life and then take a break by choosing a book from God’s Design for Heaven and Earth, it wouldn’t be a problem.  Even if you do the entire set (as we plan to do this year), there is still some variety built in.  I decided to spend the our first term on animals, then we’ll move on to the human body, and finally we’ll finish up by studying plants in the spring.

A Final Word

Both of these series offer fantastic, God-honoring science curricula for homeschool families.  While for now we are using God’s Design for Science, I will probably still collect the rest of the Young Explorers books when I see a good deal.  Perhaps later on we will use them as the main part of our science studies, but for now they will be a beautiful addition to our library.

 

Bible Study vs. Devotional Reading

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 10 (part 2)

WholeHeartedLast week I talked about three goals I had when it came to my children and the Bible.  After some prayer, I ended up amending the third goal, which was to start encouraging Ian to have a daily devotional time on his own.  It was a lesson for me in seeking the Lord’s will before making my own plans.  (Back to that Word for 2014: Pray!)

As I finished Chapter 10, I noticed that the Clarksons have almost an opposite approach to mine.

“Serious, systematic Bible study is important, but it can wait until the high school years.  In the childhood years, you are building spiritual appetites and habits for the Bible that will become personal commitments to serious Bible study later” (page 191).

They encourage Bible reading and developing a habit of daily devotions with younger children, but put off serious study until they are older.  In some ways that makes sense to me.  I really resonated with this statement:

“Too much formality risks turning the inspired Word of God into just another curriculum” (page 191).

I remember feeling that way in college.  I loved my Bible classes, and I felt so blessed to be at a Christian college where God’s Word was an important part of many of my classes, but I struggled at times with it becoming in some ways like another textbook.  I want to be careful to keep God’s Word as holy in our home, to not let it become “just another curriculum.”

However, I’m not sure I quite agree with what the Clarksons are saying.  Without serious study I worry they will be prone to take Scripture out of context (as I see so many Christians doing).  I see the early years a chance to fill my children’s minds and hearts with Scripture, and I feel that systematic study is an important part of knowing what they are reading.  My approach has been to focus on the stories and principles of the Bible, learning about the Bible itself, and memorizing as much as possible, laying a foundation for when they are older and their hearts/faith have caught up.

Also, as I wrote in my “amendment” last week, I want to hold off on encouraging Ian to have a daily devotional time until I know that he is resting on his own faith.  I don’t want to push him into “religious” habits that aren’t flowing from a heart that loves Jesus.  On the other hand, I know God can work through those times alone in prayer and Bible reading to help that loving faith grow and develop.  And I do think it’s a wonderful habit to help our children develop.

So I guess what I’m saying is I think it’s important to have both serious study and a more heart-focused devotional time.  For now, I feel God is leading me to wait until Ian expresses an interest in being baptized before guiding him toward a habit of devotional reading.  I suppose the best thing to do is continue to pray and seek God for wisdom in how to help my children walk along the path of faith.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

Valuing Scripture

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 10

WholeHearted“It is a deliberate choice you make to ensure your children grow up valuing the Bible as God’s revealed Word, not just consuming it like another Christian product” (page 186).

As I read through this chapter I was struck by this idea.  We have tried hard to make this choice for our family.  Both of our older boys received ESV Bibles with their names imprinted on the covers when they turned four.  They read from them every night during our family Bible time as well as using them during school and whenever they want to read on their own.  They take them to church on Sundays and share them with the kids in the 5th grade class where Eric and I teach.  (We want to worship together as a family on Sundays, so we bring all our kids in with us.)

I overheard Elijah telling Arianna the other day, “When you turn four, you’ll get a real Bible too!”  I love that he knows it’s a milestone in our family, and that he sees the difference between Bible storybooks (of which Arianna has plenty!) and the “real” Bible.  It’s important to learn the stories, and with little ones Bible storybooks can be a great tool, but there’s nothing like the inspired Word of God.

This chapter brought to mind three two areas I want to focus on for improvement in teaching my children to value Scripture:

  • I want to be more intentional about pointing out to my children that when we read, God is speaking to us. I want them to know that this is different than all the other times throughout the day when Mommy reads out loud (which happens a lot the way we choose to teach them.)

“When you read and study the Bible with your children, remind them you are carrying on a conversation with the God of the universe.  When you open the Bible to read God’s words, remind them to open their hearts to hear God’s voice.  Remind them often that the Bible is not just an inspired curriculum about God and the Christian life, nor is it just a heavenly storybook, but it is God speaking to the world and to them through his revealed Word” (page 186).

  • I want to be sure I’m reading the Bible on my own in front of my children.  I tend to try to wait until I am alone to spend time in the Word, but while that time is definitely important, it doesn’t help model for my children the importance of the Scriptures in my life.
  • This probably needs to wait until after I’m more established on my second goal, but I want to start encouraging at least Ian to have a personal devotion time.  Right now I require all my children to lie down in their beds during “nap time,” even my 6-year old.  He often does sleep, but I think I could use the first part of those two hours to help him develop a devotional habit.  (After all, that’s often when I have my own devotions.)  I’ll have to consider this some more, but I want to keep it in mind and start heading in that direction.

Edited: After posting this I was praying about this last goal and felt God saying to wait, not just until my children see me reading my Bible more often, but until they really start expressing their own faith.  More specifically, I felt He wanted me to wait until after they have expressed a desire to be baptized.  Ian could probably tell someone what it means to have faith in Jesus and have our sins forgiven, and one time he asked me when he would be baptized, but he’s never said he wanted to do so or really expressed his own faith.  I think if I were to encourage devotions at this point it would be more of a religious exercise rather than time spent listening to God.  So I’ll just keep this in mind for later.  :-)

 

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

3-Year Bible Survey for Students (Review)

BRT collage

When I first started this blog most of my posts were about the Bible lessons I started doing when my oldest turned three as I sought to be intentional about discipling him.  Now he’s just starting 1st grade (and there are two preschoolers and a baby coming up close behind!), and I would still say the most important part of my children’s home education is our time in God’s Word.  I have several goals:

  1. I want them to know about the Bible (historical context, authors, genres, canonization, etc.).
  2. I want them to know what’s in it (where to find what they’re looking for).
  3. I want it to be a part of their daily lives in such a way that when they are grown they can’t imagine a day passing without being in the Word because they are eager for God to speak to them through it.

So how do I go about pursuing those goals on a day to day basis?  We spend time each morning in Proverbs, and time each evening in family devotions, both times helping meet the last two goals.  But now that Ian is starting 1st grade, I want a thorough, systematic way to help us meet the first one.  That’s why I was SO excited to find Bible Road Trip.

What is it?

Bible Road Trip is a 3-year curriculum design to be used over and over as a child matures from preschool all the way through high school.  (I love repeatable cycles!) It takes students on a journey from Genesis to Revelation, teaching about each book and helping them come to a greater understanding of the overall message of the Bible.

I have many friends who limit their homeschool Bible time to the ties they can make between the Scriptures and whatever else they are studying.  While I think that is an important part of educating and discipling our children, I also think it is essential to have a time devoted specifically to studying the Bible on a systematic basis.  I thought I was going to have to create my own program to take my children through the Bible the way I desired, but Danika Cooley, the author of Bible Road Trip, has put together a curriculum that leads students through God’s Word, helping them understand what they are reading.

The program is broken up into three 32-week years, making it easy to fit into a school year with flexibility for holidays, time to catch up, or extended study:

  1. Year One covers the Old Testament books of Law and History
  2. Year Two covers the Old Testament books of Poetry and Prophecy
  3. Year Three covers the entire New Testament.

There are 5 separate levels of study, following essentially classical delineations:

  • Preschool-Kindergarten
  • Lower Grammar (Grades 1-3)
  • Upper Grammar (Grades 4-6)
  • Dialectic (Grades 7-9)
  • Rhetoric (Grades 9-12)

For each week of study, there are assignments at each of these levels, so the entire family can be focusing on the same portion of Scripture simultaneously in ways developmentally appropriate to each students stage of learning.

Each week is broken up into two main sections.  “Dig Deep” contains the bulk of the lesson:

  • Researching the Word (using the Bible study books listed below)
  • Reading the Word (5 daily assignments including a few comprehension questions)
  • Memorizing the Word (weekly memory verse)
  • Notebooking about the Word
  • Praying about the Word (focusing on different countries around the world)

This is followed by a section for “Explore Further,” which includes:

  • Learning More about the Word (related videos, etc.)
  • Crafting Through the Word (hands-on projects to help reinforce what was learned)

Getting Started

Since Ian is in 1st grade, I’ll just be discussing how to use the program in the “Lower Grammar” stage.  Here’s what we needed to collect in order to begin using Bible Road Trip:

 There are also a few recommended resources for extra learning:

P1030468Our Experience

We spent some time on Week 1 and 2 of Year One, which cover “What is the Bible?” and “Exploring the Old Testament,” but then we jumped ahead because I want to use Bible Road Trip to enrich the boys’ study as we finish going through the Bible in our family devotions.  (We started in August 2012 and are just about finished with the Old Testament period in our chronological study.)  After those introductory weeks, we skipped ahead to Year Two to find the sections on Daniel so we be “on the same page,” and then we went back to Year One to finish the story of the exiles’ return in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Year Three will soon begin being posted week by week, and that’s what we plan to use for this coming school year as we head into the New Testament as a family.

What We Liked About Bible Road Trip

I like that Danika has created the program as an adaptable tool for families.  “The goal is to acquaint our children with the Word of God, not to create busy work.”  If the suggestions she makes for each lesson aren’t helpful, it’s not going to cause problems if you decide to skip them with your family.  On the other hand, she provides some wonderful ways to engage children, especially in the “Explore Further” section of each lesson.

BRT1I think my favorite part of the curriculum, however, is the Notebooking Journal.  The pages Danika has created are just stunning! They contain many full-color works of art from masters such as Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt. Notebooking is such a great learning tool, and these pages are going to create a beautiful record of what we have learned.  Ian loves going through the Bible notebook we created during his preschool years, and I know this will be something he goes back to again and again.

(Incidentally, I first heard about Bible Road Trip when I purchased a lifetime membership to notebookingpages.com and received the Year One lesson plan pdf as a bonus.  If you want to find out more about the benefits of notebooking, their website is a great place to start!)

What We Adjusted for Our Family

When going through the Bible I always have to make a decision about how I’m going to do it: book by book or chronological order?  There are pros and cons to both approaches, and those are passed on when choosing a Bible curriculum.

We have been using a devotional that goes through chronologically, which I think really helps kids grasp the flow of history and see where the different stories they read in the Bible fit into the big picture.  Bible Road Trip goes through book by book, so while you get a good sense of history in Year One, you miss a few things (like the stories of Daniel) that are described in the books of prophecy in Year Two.  As I said above, we solved this issue by using the appropriate lessons from the Year Two curriculum since we already have a chronological framework established.  When I begin the entire 3-year cycle again, I will probably just do Bible Road Trip as written, but I’m wondering if there will be some confusion with abandoning the chronological approach.

I also opted not to use the “Praying About the Word” section.  It’s not that I had any issues with it; on the contrary, I thought it was a valuable addition.  Still, it seemed to be completely separate from rest of the study, which made it feel like a supplementary curriculum in and of itself.  We just are doing so much already that I decided to hold off on it, at least for now.

Just the Facts

Interested in starting Bible Road Trip?  Here’s

  • Recommended ages: preschool-highschool
  • Weekly lessons plans and notebooking pages are available for free if you download each week separately!
  • If you want the convenience of having the whole year in one place (great for printing the year in advance with one click!), you can purchase the Year One and
    Year Two lesson plans ($20 per year) and the corresponding Notebooking Journals ($20 per year for each level: Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, or Dialectic) as pdf files.

My Overall Impression

I’m excited to find such a valuable tool to help disciple my children.  I am so thankful for the research Danika has put into Bible Road Trip and the time she has taken in making it available for other families to use.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing more as we get further into our journey!

DISCLAIMER:  I received the Year One Notebooking Journal for free in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.  This post contains affiliate links.

Non-Conforming Parenting

Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 9

WholeHeartedAt first glance, this chapter on “The WholeHearted Learning Youth” isn’t exactly applicable to our family right now (since our oldest is only 6).  It provided a lot of food for thought about how I want to approach the years ahead, but much of it was just wisdom to file away for later.

One thing that stood out to me, however, was the issue of conforming to the world’s ways, not just culturally, but also educationally.  Am I making decisions based on what the world says my children’s education should look like, or am I allow God to be our guide?  My “Word for 2014,” PRAY, has helped me develop a habit of turning to the Lord for things I have previously just managed on my own.  The Clarksons reminded me that I also need to be seeking the transforming of my mind through the Scriptures.  In their discussion of Romans 12:1-2 they write:

“…Go to God’s Word to keep your mind renewed by truth.  The real power of God’s Word is not just that it’s true and trustworthy, but that it transforms–it is the ‘living and active’ Word that penetrates and changes ‘soul and spirit’ and ‘thoughts and attitudes’ (Hebrews 4:12).  The only way to know you are doing God’s will as a parent is to constantly renew your mind with God’s truth.  You become a conformist to the world’s ways of thinking by default; you become a biblical idealist only by design” (page 172, emphasis mine).

In my current season of life it is hard to find time to spend in the Word, at least to the extent that I have in the past.  I find myself grabbing snatches here and there: a few paragraphs from the open Bible I leave on the bathroom counter when I manage to catch a few uninterrupted moments, verses taped above my kitchen sink that I can meditate on as I do dishes, and maybe a few chapters during naptime when I’m feeling particularly starved (provided all four children actually stay in their beds for an extended period of time).  Yet I must cling to those scraps of Scripture if I have any hope of being the godly parent I want to be.

My children will only be young for so long.  I want to use these years as effectively as possible, both as far as training and instructing my children “in the words and ways of biblical Christianity” (page 174), and renewing my own mind with God’s truth.

Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.”  I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), so my Monday posts are all being sparked by things I’m reading in this fabulous book!

Experiencing History Through Music (Review)

banner lgOne of my favorite memories of elementary school is sitting in the multi-purpose room with dozens of other kids singing folk songs as my beloved 1st AND 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Gilliam, strummed along on the guitar.  That’s where I learned classic American songs like “Oh, Susanna,” “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain,” and of course, the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  Singing the same songs that generations of Americans had sung before me gave me a sense of connection and belonging.  I want to pass on that heritage to my own children, so I have been thrilled to be a part of the launch of the “Experiencing History Through Music” series from Diana Waring.

About Diana Waring

IMG_20140613_094448I was familiar the name Diana Waring from her History Revealed curriculum and her books Beyond Survival and Reaping the Harvest.  The former is at the forefront of my mind for history as our children get older, and the latter have been sitting in my “to be read” pile for some time.  As we’ve been preparing for the launch of this series, I’ve gotten to know more about her, and I’ve realized she is definitely a kindred spirit. (Beyond Survival may have to be my next book for “Mentoring Mondays”!) I had to go find her at the Great Homeschool Convention and introduce myself (and my sleeping Nicholas), and I immediately wished I could invite her over to dinner to spend some time soaking in some of her homeschooling wisdom.

Diana shares a passion for two of my favorite subjects: history and music.  I love this story she shared with the launch team of how she started integrating the two:

Back in 1989, after I had been struggling for about three years with homeschooling (my kids and I were ALL bored!!!), a friend suggested that I attend the state homeschool convention (in Tacoma, WA). . . In those days, the main way to learn more about homeschooling was to attend a convention—oh, how times have changed!!
The problem was I couldn’t afford it. My dh was a public school band teacher, we were single income, and there simply wasn’t anything extra in the budget. When I voiced that concern, my friend said, “Oh, you should teach a workshop! That way, they pay you $50, give you some mileage to get up to the convention, and you get in FREE!!” Looking at her in amazement, I asked, “What on earth would I teach????”
She pulled out the previous year’s convention schedule, with its varied workshops, and handed it to me. Quickly glancing down the list, I noted that the ONLY music workshop was using classical music in the home and that there were NO history workshops. At that moment, an idea was born.
Why not teach American history through its folk music?
That was the start of twenty-five years as a homeschool speaker (yes, the convention wanted my workshop) and as a homeschool writer/ curriculum producer.
Never saw this coming, but, oh, what a life we have shared!!

Eventually she went on to create books of stories about historical songs and helped record music albums to go along with them.  When the company that was publishing the sets went out of business, it looked like the audio masters were lost and all the work that had gone into producing the series would be fruitless from that point on.  Evidently, however, God still wanted to bless people through it, because the music was found and restored, and Diana has rewritten many of the stories with even more fascinating details for a new generation of homeschoolers to enjoy. (Read the miraculous story of their restoration on Diana’s blog.  It really is amazing!)

About Experiencing History Through Music

booksAs the name of this series implies, these book and CD sets allow you to Experience History Through Music. Each title contains one book and one CD. The pages of the books hold dozens of historical pictures, bright and interesting stories connecting each of the songs to its moment in history, even sheet music and chord charts! The CDs are rousing, professional recordings that draw in all listeners.

These three book/CD sets are a wonderful supplement to any American history curriculum:

  • Westward Ho!–The Heart of the Old West
  • America–The Heart of a New Nation
  • Music Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Here’s a brief introduction to each one.

Westward Ho!–The Heart of the Old West

WestwardAmerica’s westward expansion is amazingly rich in stories and songs.  In Westward Ho!, you will find the pioneer spirit that stirred the hearts of thousands of Americans to leave the safety and comfort of home expressed in folk songs of or about that time.  Now you can experience the pioneers’ adventures, dangers, joys, sorrows and hopes as you join in and sing along with these songs:

  1.  Apple Picker’s Reel
  2. Boll Weevil
  3. Missionary’s Farewell
  4. Oh, California
  5. Ho! For California
  6. San Juan Pig War
  7. Chisholm Trail
  8. Westward Ho!
  9. Home On The Range
  10. Little Old Sod Shanty
  11. Strawberry Roan
  12. Old Settler
  13. Gooey Duck
  14. Little Cabin in the Cascade Mountains

We enjoyed the whole CD, but “Gooey Duck” (about giant clams in Puget Sound called geoducks) became a new favorite in our house.  We’ve been caught singing it all over town, even in the grocery store!

America: The Heart of a New Nation

AmericaFrom the French and Indian War to the first transcontinental railroad, America is a chronological tour of American history through its music. Enjoy the songs and stories of our past that have been shared from generation to generation—songs that make you laugh, make you cry, and make your patriotic spirit soar.

  1. Yankee Doodle
  2. Star-Spangled Banner
  3. Erie Canal
  4. Oh! Susanna
  5. Sweet Betsy From Pike
  6. All Night, All Day
  7. Old Dan Tucker
  8. Wade in the Water
  9. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier
  10. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  11. Shenandoah
  12. Get Along L’il Dogies
  13. Drill Ye Tarriers
  14. Polly Wolly Doodle
  15. She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain
  16. Old Joe Clark

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura IngallsThis was the title that first captured my attention when I learned about this series.  I read the first two “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder to Ian a few months ago, and as we came to song after song I wished I knew the melodies to sing along.  It seemed like so many of these historical treasures had faded away into the past.

I was thrilled to get this book and CD to help make those songs more real to our family. Elijah adored “Pop Goes the Weasel,” and it reminded me of the scene in Little House in the Big Woods when Laura and Mary are enjoying Pa playing that one on his fiddle, trying to catch the “pop!” as he plucked the string.  I imagine their giggles sounded a lot like my little ones’ as they enjoyed the silly song.

This is the only book in the series not written by Diana Waring.  Written by William Anderson, noted Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer, the book also includes beautiful photos by internationally known Little House photographer, Leslie A. Kelly.  The loved stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will come to life all over again as you listen to the songs that were a part of life for the Ingalls and thousands of other pioneering families.

This book takes readers back through songs referenced in almost all books in the Little House series:

  1.  Wait for the Wagon (On the Banks of Plum Creek)
  2. Green Grows the Laurel (Little House On the Prairie)
  3. The Old Chariot (The Long Winter)
  4. Buy a Broom (By the Shores of Silver Lake)
  5. Sweet By and By (The Long Winter)
  6. Rock Me to Sleep (Little Town on the Prairie)
  7. Buffalo Gals (Little House in the Big Woods)
  8. A Railroad Man for Me (By the Shores of Silver Lake)
  9. Beware (By the Shores of Silver Lake)
  10. Pop! Goes the Weasel (Little House in the Big Woods)
  11. Oft in the Stilly Night (By the Shores of Silver Lake)
  12. The Girl I Left Behind Me (On the Banks of Plum Creek)
  13. My Sabbath Home (On the Banks of Plum Creek, These Happy Golden Years)

How We Used It

Because my children are all young, I didn’t use this series to its fullest potential (yet!)  We listened to all the CDs many times, to the point that all my children ages 2 and up were singing along to their favorites (and requesting them over and over again).  I read the stories on my own and then retold certain ones as we drove along in the car.

With my oldest, I sat and looked at the pictures as I told him some of the stories.  He also really enjoyed having the book as we listened and sang.  He followed along in the sheet music so he could learn the words more quickly as we drove.

I know when we study American history in the future we will be getting out these albums and digging deeper into the stories to enrich our understanding of the various time periods represented.

What We Liked

First and foremost, we loved the music.  These are BEAUTIFUL recordings of the songs.  I loved that many familiar tunes included less familiar verses.  Even without the books, the CDs would be a great addition to any American family music library.

Thankfully, you get the books too!  America was probably my favorite of the three.  Not only were the songs the most familiar, but the stories struck a deep emotional chord with me.

I love the story of “Yankee Doodle.”  What a wonderful lesson for children that they don’t have to be beaten down when people call them unkind names!  The British made fun of the rough American soldiers during the French and Indian War, calling them “doodles” because they seemed so foolish compared to the polished British soldiers.  The Americans didn’t hang their heads in shame.  Rather, when the Revolution came about and they found themselves fighting against the British, they made up new lyrics for the originally insulting song and showed that they were anything but foolish.

Imagine what it must have felt like for the British when, during the surrender ceremony at Yorktown, “Yankee Doodle” was played once again–this time to celebrate the American victory.  Turns out the Americans weren’t such “doodles” after all, were they?

I hope my children can learn to see that other people’s insults don’t have to define them.  After all, God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the “wise.”

Capture2The most moving story was definitely “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  I love that it is now more than just a song the children hear at baseball games.  Even though I already knew the story, it still gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes as I passed it on to them.

If I Could Make Any Changes…

I wish the illustrations could have been in color.  Many of the pictures were originally black and white, so it wasn’t necessary for those, but others looked like they were of paintings, and I would have loved to see them in full color.

I also would love a sequel to the Laura Ingalls Wilder book.  There are so many more songs in the pages of the Little House books that I would love to bring to life for our family!

diana waring available nowJust the Facts

  • Suitable for all ages
  • Each book/CD set sells for $18.99
  • For the month of July, collection of all 3 sets is on sale for $50!

One Final Word

 We loved these sets, and I highly recommend them as part of any family’s study of American history.  I’m looking forward to seeing Diana’s next project (after she completes something currently in progress), which will be a full curriculum for American history. She told us, “It will be focused on elementary grades, and will be a LOT like my world history curriculum — fascinating fun, great opportunities to choose what looks most interesting, and an integrated unit-study style/Charlotte mason approach to history.”  Our family can’t wait to see it!

disclaimer

Go Science DVDs (Crew Review)

GoScience Collage 

Science is one of my weakest subjects when it comes to homeschooling. That’s why I’m thankful for products like the Go Science DVDs distributed by Library and Educational Services. They sent me two titles from this series to review: Volume 4 (Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light) and Volume 7 (Engineering, Design, Flight).  It was a welcome opportunity to get my kids’ heads out of the books and give them a chance to see science in action.

If you homeschool and you’re not familiar with Library and Educational Services, I encourage you to visit their website to get to know them.  They provide character-building educational products to wholesale buyers (including homeschools).  From Bibles and books to CDs and DVDs, they’ve been offering quality products at discount prices (30%-70% off, sometimes even more) for over 35 years.

What’s Included

The Go Science DVDs feature brief video segments that show teacher Ben Roy helping guide a group of children in various science demonstrations.  The videos are distinctly Christian and help kids learn about many different aspects of science while always giving glory to God.

When you first play the DVD, the main menu shows the featured topics.  You can either select “Play All” or click on a topic to open a sub-menu where you can select individual experiments.

Here are the experiments included on the two DVDs we watched:

Volume 4: Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light

(running time: 55:03)

Motion:
  • tablecloth trick
  • high-bounce balls
  • marble gravitron
  • yo-yo-big spool
  • bowling ball
Friction
  • Friction
  • Floating Rice
Electricity
  • Simple motor
  • nail magnet
  • jumping rings
Light
  • Food coloring and bubbles
Vol. 7: Engineering, Design, Flight

(Running time 56:09)

Engineering/Design
  • How much will it hold?
  • Leaning tower of lyra
  • Nail balance
  • Trebuchet
  • Centrifuge
  • Walking on eggs
  • Bed of nails-small
Flight
  • Rocket balloons
  • Vinegar rocket
  • Toilet paper on paint roller
  • Film canister rocket

How We Used It

We started to watch the first video all the way through, but Ian started getting antsy by the time we headed into “Electricity.”  Each segment is separate from the rest, so they really don’t need to be watched in one sitting and we just saved the rest of the DVD for another day.  That proved to be a better way to watch them anyway because it gave the boys time to think about what they’d seen rather just moving on.

It also gave a chance to play around with some science at home.  Most of the experiments we just watched, but there were a few that Ian wanted to try, and if I had the materials to do it at home we went for it.

What We Liked

It might sound funny, but I liked that some of the experiments didn’t work right the first time.  Isn’t that the way it happens when we do them at home?  It seems like so often things go perfectly for people on television, and then when we struggle it seems like we’re doing something wrong.  Seeing some of the failed experiments took the pressure off when we tried them ourselves.

Actually doing the experiments was definitely the boys’ favorite part of going through the DVDs.  The first one we did involved picking up a marble with a wine glass without touching the marble with our hands (moving the glass in circles).  In the video (on Volume 4), Ben Roy did it pretty easily, so we knew this was one we wanted to do ourselves.

Go Science 1

I tried it first, and I was able to get the feel of it pretty quickly.  It took Ian a little longer, but once he got it he was really proud of himself.

Go Science2

All the segments on flight (from Volume 7) were fascinating and made Ian want to try them himself.  We tried to copy the film canister experiment, but we never got more than a little “pop” out of ours.  I think our lids didn’t seal quite as well as the ones on the video.  Still, the boys had fun doing it themselves rather than just watching.

Go Science5   P1030404

I appreciated the way Ben Roy used the experiments not only to teach science but as object lessons to teach biblical principles.  For example, as the kids in the audience got a surprise when they found out which of two cylinders actually held more volume, he pointed out, “Things aren’t what they seem sometimes…We can’t judge people by what we see.  Sometimes what we see can fool us.”

There were several memorable object lessons that made these videos much more than just science demonstrations.  I really liked the way my children were able to learn that science isn’t an end in itself.  Rather, it is just one more way we get to know the Lord.

“When we learn more about science, we learn more about our Creator God.”

What Could Have Been Better for Our Family

I wish the Go Science DVDs came with a little more guidance on how to do the experiments yourself.  Even just a materials list broken down by segment with would be really helpful.  Many of the items used were things we had around the house, but a few others would need to be purchased ahead of time.  They wouldn’t be hard to find, but we didn’t really know what we needed until we started watching the videos.  We would definitely have done more of the experiments if I had known what materials they required.

Just the Facts

  • Recommended for ages 4-12 (My 4-year old enjoyed parts of the DVDs, but my 6-year old definitely got more out of them.)
  • 7 DVDs in the Go Science series
  • Price: $8.97 each (or $59.82 for the entire series)

Go Science Review

My Overall Impression:

The Go Science DVDs are a fun way to get kids interested in hands-on science.  They’re not as fast-paced as other science videos we’ve seen, but they did manage to keep my kids’ interest in smaller doses.  Ian liked them enough to want to get the others in the series, and I definitely will keep them in mind when looking for ways to supplement our science program in the future.

 

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