Monday, October 31, 2011

Excellence in Literature ~ Review

My 13 year old absolutely loves to read and is very advanced in her reading abilities. She has a love for the library like most teens have for the mall. She is however; very particular about the types of books she’ll read. It can be a bit challenging to get her excited about reading anything different from her normal selection.  So, I was thrilled when I was chosen to review Excellence in Literature ~ Introduction to Literature.  I knew it would give her a chance to read several classic works of literature that she would generally choose not to read.  Thankfully she was opened minded and even excited about a few of the books she’ll soon be reading.  

There are five books in the Excellence in Literature course series.
English I ~ Introduction to Literature
English II ~ Literature and Composition 
English III ~ American Literature
English IV ~ British Literature
English V ~ World Literature

I was chosen to review book one - Introduction to Literature.
The Excellence in Literature was designed for students in eighth grade and up.  The author, Janice Campbell, created the program to prepare students who where college bound.     

From the site:
Introduction to Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.

Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing.
Excellence in Literature is written directly to the student and requires little work from the teacher. However, the teacher should be nearby to supervise and help the student when needed, as well as correct and grade their completed assignments. Other than that, the author has done all the leg work.

Introduction to Literature is divided into 9 units.

Unit 1: Short Stories by-
• Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
• Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
• Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
• O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
• Eudora Welty: A Worn Path
• James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Table of Contents:
Overview and Objectives for Excellence in Literature
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Read A Book
Discerning Worldview Through Literary Periods
***Units 1-9 compose the bulk of the book, providing guidance for weekly lessons.
Formats and Models
Approach Paper Format
Historical Approach Paper Format
Author Profile Format
Literature Summary Format
Sample Poetry Analysis
What an MLA Formatted Essay Looks Like
Excellence in Literature Evaluation Rubric
Excellence in Literature Evaluation Rubric for IEW Students
Selected Resources
In unit one the student is required to read each assigned story and write an approach paper based on each story.  Now to be completely honest, prior to reviewing this book I had never heard of an approach paper before.  Thankfully, the author has included easy to understand directions and samples for the student to refer to. The author also instructs the teacher on how to properly correct all the given assignments.
My daughter has completed unit one and I’m very pleased with her work so far. We are about to begin unit two and I must say we are pretty excited to begin reading “Around the World in 80 days.”  Most of the stories in unit one my daughter has enjoyed reading.
All the links for the required reading have been provided, as well as additional links to other helpful recourses such as, about the author, poetry, music, and more.  
Each unit is divided into four weeks and each week an assignment is due.  A Writers Handbook is a must have recourse as the author tells the student to refer to it often.   

For the students that want more of a challenge, there is an Honors option added to each week.       
I feel Excellence in Literature is a great program, especially for students who are college bound, and I’m grateful we had the opportunity to review it.  I will continue to work through this program with my daughter.

English I: Introduction to Literature is available for $27 (ebook) or $29 (printed book).
Be sure to stop by the TOS hub and read what my fellow crewmates had to say about Excellence in Literature.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received Excellence in Literature ~ Introduction to Literature free of cost in exchange for my honest review.

2011 Gratitude Challenge

It’s about that time of year again. A time of thanksgiving, a time when we reflect on everything we’re grateful for; everything our wonderful creator has blessed us with.  So every day for the month of November I’m participating in the Gratitude Challenge. The Gratitude Challenge is a linkup between fellow bloggers, to allow us to share our thankfulness to God.

I really like this challenge, as I often thank God for a healthy family, the roof over our heads, food we eats, dependable vehicles, business opportunities (since my hubby is self employed), amazing friends and family, and more. But, with the daily stresses of life I often forget to thank him for the simple things he’s given me, such as the cool breeze on a hot day, the rain, or butterflies ( I <3 butterflies!)

If you’re a fellow blogger, I invite you to join in on the linkup. Whether you’re a fellow blogger, a faithful reader, or this is the first time you’ve seen my blog, I pray that this challenge will bless your socks off! I know mine will be!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ David Garibaldi painting Jesus

This is a video of David Garibaldi painting Jesus. This man was blessed with an incredible talent! I’ve watched some other videos of him painting and all I can say is, WOW!
I hope you are as blessed by this as I was. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Say Anything Family Edition ~ Review

Do you and your family enjoy playing games?  We sure do! My daughters get very excited when we have a family game night.  We have a large amount of games, two of which are Northstar Games.

Last December we had the pleasure of reviewing another game from Northstar Games, called Wits and Wagers Family. It quickly became a family favorite. So, when my daughters heard that I was chosen to review Say Anything from Northstar Games they were thrilled.  My 11 year old asked almost daily when the mailman was going to deliver our new game!

Say Anything Family Edition was designed for 3-6 players ages 8 and up. It includes 60 question cards (360 questions total), 6 dry erase boards and markers, 1 SELECT-O-MATIC-6000 (for the judge to pick a winner), 12 tokens, and 1 dry erase score board.

How to play ~
You will first need to choose who will be the score keeper. Then be sure each player has an answer board, 2 tokens, and a dry erase marker. When it’s your turn you choose a card, read one of the three questions aloud, and the best part, you’re the judge.  You get to judge which one of the other players has the best (funniest) answer. The other players are to as quickly as they can write the funniest, craziest, off the wall, (as per the title “Say Anything”) answer they can think of and place their answer board face up in the center of the table (or floor, we always sprawl out on the living room floor when we play games.) The judge then secretly decides which answer is his or her favorite by turning the SELECT-O-MATIC-6000 to that team members color. The other players then place their tokens on the answer boards they think the judge has chosen. The judge then shares his or her decision and the points are given according to the instructions. Once every player has had two turns they game is over, points are added up and whoever has the most points wins.

In my opinion ~
Which TV character would I most want to be?
What would make a road trip more fun?
Which celebrity would make the worst babysitter?
What DIY job would you call a professional for?

We absolutely loved playing Say Anything! It was so much fun trying to come up with the silliest, off the wall answers we could think of.  Laughing and playing together, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Say Anything ~ Family Edition retails for $19.99. If you would like to purchase Say Anything ~ Family Edition or another awesome game NorthStar Games offers for your family or someone else, (remember Christmas is right around the corner!) you can find it at, Target and other retail stores.

Be sure to stop by the TOS hub and read what my fellow crewmates had to say about Say Anything.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received Say Anything ~ Family Edition free of cost in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Skillet Concert!

On October 14th my family, some friends, and I went to see Skillet in concert! It was AWESOME! Thanks to a another friend we saw there he tipped us off about where John Cooper (lead singer) was at.  So we were able to get our photos taken with him and get his autograph. He was the only band member to come out for autographs though...

My computer wasn't being very kind and wouldn't save this photo upright. Same with the photo below.

Skillet ROCKS!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Always Icecream ~ Review

Does your daughter love ice cream? What kid doesn’t, right? Well, if she does, (and even if you doesn’t) then I think she’s really going to enjoy Always Icecream!

Always Icecream is a fun and exciting, learning website created exclusively for girls between the ages of 7 and 12. A membership is very affordable. Prices begin at $4.99 per month (first month only $.99), 2 months $9.98, 1 year $29.99, and a Lifetime membership is $99.99. Always Icecream was kind enough to give my family one lifetime membership to enjoy.

Always Icecream offers an abundance of different educational games, covering such topics as: Language Arts, Math, Advanced Math, Science, History & Geography, Music & Art, Computer Skills, Foreign Language, and Religion (Christian) Education. The more the games are played the more challenging they become.

Some of the games are marked with an ice cream cone and every time your daughter plays these particular games she’ll earn $coops as payment.  Your daughter can use her $coops to play games, feed her virtual pets on Pet World, and decorate her homes on MiniWorld.

The Learn and play games are numerous!
Pet World (earn $coops)
Typing for beginners (earn $coops)
States of the USA (earn $coops)
Melting Scoops (earn $coops)
Math Quiz Adding (earn $coops)
Math Quiz Multiplying (earn $coops)
Math Quiz Fractions (earn $coops)
Synonyms (earn $coops)
Bible Quiz (earn $coops)
Internet Quiz (earn $coops)
Countries in Europe (earn $coops)
Basic Anatomy (earn $coops)
Ice cream Shop
Victorian Girl
Dog Breed Quiz (earn $coops)
Bible Verse Game (earn $coops)
White Bridal Gowns
Health Quiz (earn $coops)
Laundry Rush
Typing Intermediate (earn $coops)
Cooking Show
USA Capitals (earn $coops)
Word Confusion (earn $coops)
Vocabulary Practice English and Spanish (earn $coops)
US Presidents (earn $coops)
 and MANY MANY more!

With Always Icecream your daughter will have so much fun playing she won’t even realized she’s actually learning something!  Girls can express their inner self by creating a mini-me avatar! And earn achievement medals for their hard work!

There are a multitude of safe, educational and fun videos available.  My youngest daughter (11 yrs old) has enjoyed watching such videos as, how to properly thaw meat, how to create a panda bear birthday cake, How to Make Foam, How to Make a Cloud in a Bottle, Online Safety Tips for Kids, Percent and Decimals, How Gold Is Made, The Journey of a Germ, and more. The videos are from youtube, khanacademy, discovery channel, and more.
Here is a note from the site regarding the media. Monitored media: Games and videos can provide valid entertainment for your child, and we prescreen Always Icecream content to filter out violence, sexual content, and negative role examples. Always Icecream provides a "for girls only" environment geared towards the needs and interests of 7 to 12 year-old girls. Games, videos and applications on Always Icecream are entertaining and they are thoroughly reviewed for their educational value.”
Another neat feature Always Icecream offers is a kid friendly chat option.  The chat allows the girls to interact with other girls from around the world.  It resembles something similar to a social network site, but is very safe and of course, for girls only.  Girls can only chat with parental consent and before your daughter can use the chat, they must exchange their secret “friendship codes.” Always Icecream monitors all communication before it can be viewed. For parents who dislike online social communities, you have the option to turn off the chat features.
As parents, we also have the option of registering for a free parent account.  This account allows us to chose between a “community” and an “educational only” version of the site, receive weekly detailed progress reports, customize the educational content, and even reward our daughters with extra $coops for doing their chores, following directions, or whatever else we choose to reward them for.
Always Icecream is Ideal for Homeschoolers. A large share of our members are homeschooled and many of the ideas for the educational content originate from the experience of the founds as homeschool parents. Always Icecream offers fun and relevant drills in core academic subjects embedded in a safe and loving community experience. Parents are also given the option to choose Christian educational content if they want to offer this to their daughters.”

We LOVED Always Icecream! This is one site that we will continue to use for a LONG time!

To purchase a membership for the young girl in your life, click HERE.

Check out the parent site to read about safety features and more.

You can also check out Always Icecream on Facebook.

Be sure to stop by the TOS hub and read what my fellow crew members thought about Always Icecream.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received a lifetime membership for Always Icecream free of cost in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Visual Latin ~ Review

If you’re anything like me, when you think of teaching your children a foreign language, it makes you cringe.  Well, I recently had the opportunity to review a video based Latin course called Visual Latin.  I was very nervous and as those who know we well, know that I put it off, and put it off some more.  Once I finally decided to swallow my horse pill and pop the DVD in, I was pleasantly surprised.

Visual Latin was created by two dads whose wives homeschool their children. Dwane Thomas is the teacher and Thomas Purifoy, Jr. is the producer.  Dwane has been teaching Latin for 15 years.  He’s taught all sorts of students in all sorts of situations.  He and his wife have been homeschooling their five children for as long as their kids can remember.  Thomas enjoys creating curriculum. He and his company, Compass Cinema, have already produced the Modern Parables and Seek Social Justice series. His wife homeschool their three girls.

Visual Latin is recommended for ages 9 and up. It is available on DVD or can be downloaded onto your PC or iPod. There are two levels available; Level I and Level II. Level I consists of 30 lessons, while Level II currently consists of 10 lesson. Additional lessons will be available soon. For review purposes we were given lessons 1-10.

Each lesson is divided into 3 sections: Grammar, Sentence, and Reading. Each video is about 5-9 minutes.  The lessons are designed to have the student watch a video then complete corresponding worksheet(s).  Student watches Video A and then completes corresponding worksheet, watches Video B and then completes corresponding worksheet, then watches Video C and completes corresponding worksheet.

Here is the scope and sequence for Level I to give you an idea of what is taught in the first 30 lessons.

A. Why Study Latin?
B. Latin Then & Now
C. How To Learn a Language
D. Stuff You Should Know About Latin

1. Being Verbs Basics | To Be and Not to Be
2. Being Verbs Basics | Predicate Nominatives and Adjectives
3. Gender | Boy Words and Girl Words
4. Singular and Plural | E Pluribus Unum
5. Declensions | Meet the Cases
6. Adjectives Learn to Agree with Nouns
7. The Case Files | Nominative and Genitive
8. Counting to 10 in Latin
9. Active Verb Basics | Indicative Mood
10. The Case Files | Accusative
11. The Case Files | Vocative
12. Changing Your Moods | Imperative & Indicative
13. The Case Files | Ablative
14. Meet the Pronouns & Question Words
15. Pronouns | Relative
16. Accusing Prepositions of Accusative Case
17. Verbs | Active & Passive
18. The Case Files | Dative
19. Pronouns | 1st & 2nd Person Personal
20. Pronouns | 3rd Person Personal
21. Pronouns | Demonstratives: this, these
22. Pronouns | Demonstratives: that, those
23. Pronouns | Relative and Interrogative
24. Pronouns | Possessive
25. Nouns | 3rd Declension – Regular and i-stem
26. Verbs | Infinitives – Active and Passive
27. Verbs | Infinities – Ability, Negation & Indirect
28. Nouns | 3rd Declension – Neuter
29. Nouns | 4th Declension
30. Adjectives | Positive & Comparative


I feel Dwane is a superb teacher who truly knows how to engage the students. He is funny and teaches the basics in a fun and easy to understand manner. He talks directly to the students and occasionally he makes a mistake, but he either corrects himself right away or the correction will show up on the screen.

Visual Latin was a real hit in my house.  I fully intend on purchasing additional lessons on the future.  I must say I truly love that there is virtually no advanced planning needed from me and the lessons can be done independently if you want.  Simply put in the DVD or download the lesson, depending on whether you purchase the download or the DVDs, and begin. The only advance planning I had to do was print out the worksheets.

If you are thinking about adding a foreign language to your homeschool, I HIGHLY recommend Visual Latin.

Visual Latin can be purchased at the CompassStore. You can either purchase Level I, all 30 lessons on DVD for $80 currently (originally $90.)  Or you can opt for the budget friendly option and purchase 10 lessons at a time for $30 on DVD (or $25 as a download.)  Latin II, Lessons 31-40 is available on DVD for $30.00. (or $25 as a download.)

If you like to see for yourself what Visual Latin is like before making a purchase, you see a sample lesson and even download some Free Lessons (4 Intro Lessons and 2 Regular Lessons).

Here you can find information about using Visual Latin for high school credit.

Be sure to stop by the TOS Homeschool Crew Hub to read what my fellow crew members have to say about Visual Latin.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received Visual Latin, Lessons 1-10 on DVD free of cost in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Scruble Cube ~ Review

Do you enjoy playing Scrabble? What about the Rubik’s Cube? Well, if you answered yes, then I think you're going to love the 3D word game, Scruble Cube. I was never a big fan of Scrabble, not until I became an adult, but man I sure loved the Rubik’s cube. That love is what first attracted me to the Scruble Cube.  The best of both worlds!! It’s dubbed the “World’s Greatest 3D Word Game.”   

The Scruble Cube is measures 4x4x4; fits nicely in your hands. There are 96 “pegs” that rotate, each with letters and scores imprinted on them. It was designed to construct an insane amount of words. 7.4 x 1045 according the site! With that many words configurations, ANYONE play!

The The Scruble Cube is not only fun, but educational. Who doesn't love fun educational game?! It helps strengthen your skills in thinking, vocabulary, math, and more. It can be played by one player or up to four. HERE is a list of some great ideas for incorporating the Scruble Cube into your learning.
Via the website you can also find printable instructions and a scoreboard.

Scruble Cube was awarded the “Best Pick for New Products” award from Dr. Toy’s.

As well, the Creative Toy Award 2010 Seal of Excellence from Creative Child magazine.

It was also featured in a recent issue of Family Cirlce magazine "Make Your Move" - Staying Connected as a Family.

We did find the cube to be a bit fragile feeling and difficult to turn sometimes, but as long as we made sure everything was aligned, all was okay. There is a cautionary notice on the bottom of the box reminding the users that the “Scruble Cube has many moving parts and is not intended for high speed manipulation. Please align all rows before moving them and NEVER force pieces into place while twisting and turning…”

For those of you who have family or friends who are fans of word games, this would make a pretty cool Christmas gift. It's also the perfect for travel. Take it with you on your next roadtrip, camping adventure, sleepover, flight, anywhere you want.
The Scruble Cube is available for $24.95 per game set. Each set includes the game cube, a sand timer, instructions and scorepad. To purchase, click HERE.

Be sure to stop by the TOS Homeschool Crew Hub to read what my fellow crew members have to say about the Scruble Cube.

I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received the Scrube Cube free of cost in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 3, 2011

TOS is going DIGITAL!!

Have you heard the news?!  In January of 2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is going DIGITAL! Check out this video and see all the cool stuff they have in store for us! 

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