11.30.2010

11.24.2010

Wordless Wednesday - Wrap it Up

wrapping paper

For more wordlessness, check out Live From Waterloo and 5 Minutes for Mom.

11.22.2010

Illuminations - A Review

As much as I like to make my own way, there are certainly times that having things planned out for you is an wonderful blessing. So it is with Illuminations from Bright Ideas Press.

I reviewed the High School, Year 2 edition. Illuminations is a wrap-around program designed to be used with Mystery of History or All American History (also from Bright Ideas Press). It's available for grades 3 through 8 and high school. The flexibility of this program is so cool! It has lesson plans all laid out for you, just ready to print when you need them. But the terrific part is that if there's a particular subject that you have different curriculum you prefer to use, you just click in the box and type your own plan, replacing what is there. Then you can print it out, all nicely modified and personalized for your own students.

The weekly schedule prints out in a grid format and they lightly color each subject in various shades for easy readability. My boys and I all love having a weekly plan at a glance, so this is a great format.

Just what does the product cover?

History - Mystery of History (or All American History)

Bible - reading plan that includes memorization and journaling

Writing - WriteShop 1 & 2 or The Write Stuff Adventure

Literature - Literature Guides are included; you'll need to purchase specific works separately, although some are from the Bible, and some are available online or at the library. There's a nice variety of literary works included.

Vocabulary - English from the Roots Up, Volume 2

Grammar - Winston Grammar

Geography - The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide

Humanities - The Art of Poetry

Life 101 - Cracking the SAT, Do Hard Things, Hollywood Worldviews, Precepts: Finances

You provide your own math program, which makes the most sense since student can be in so many different levels at this age.

The program runs in Adobe Reader 9 (free!) and is very simple to use. Everywhere you need to go has a clickable link. The start-up screen offers you the following choices:

  1. Quick Start - Provides an excellent introduction and instructions. Here you will find directions for individual subjects. There is also a User Guide, Book & Program Checklist, Notebook Spines you can print out, and a Literature Evaluation form to assist you in grading literary assignments. You will also find Supplemental Activities and an Evaluation/Grading Rubric in this section.
  2. Browse by Subject - Specific lessons related to each subject. Also included are Supplemental resources and Graphic Organizers (a tremendous asset, particularly for visual learners).
  3. Browse by Date - Click on any week of the year to see that week's specific plans.
  4. Contact Info/License - Contact Bright Ideas Press through a variety of means, take a look at their catalog, or read the license agreement.
The high school program is priced as follows:

Full year download = $95.00
One semester download = $47.50
Full year on CD = $115.00

Pricing for grades 3-8 can be found on the Illuminations site. Many of the necessary resources can be purchased from Bright Ideas Press.

For a look at the actual product, check out their sample pages.

If you want to have well thought out, organized, yet flexible, plans for your homeschool, I highly recommend looking into Illuminations. Bright Ideas Press, check out the TOS Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I was provided a free copy of Illuminations - Year 2, High School to review. The opinions stated here are my own.

11.19.2010

End of Fall

Colorado in November. It's hard to believe, but I still found some lovely fall-ish things to shoot. We were leaving from art class last week when I saw the light shining through the leaves and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

317-end of fall

11.18.2010

...Featuring Norah Jones

I haven't been a fan for a long time, but I have really come to enjoy the talents of Norah Jones over the past year. She has an incredibly rich and smooth voice with remarkable versatility. Earlier this week, I received a copy of ...Featuring Norah Jones courtesy of One 2 One Network for review. From the CD cover:




Recorded from 2001 to 2010, the cameos, duets and collaborations on this compilation span the musical spectrum and show Norah Jones to be one of the decade's most diverse musical connectors.

When I first opened the CD, I was a little curious how well it would work to have such a wide array of musical styles together. Norah sings with artists from many genres from Wilie Nelson to the Foo Fighters, Herbie Hancock to Outkast, and many others in between. Yet, the Norah's flexibility beautifully ties the various styles together.

While I've had just a few days to enjoy the CD, my favorites right now are:

  • Love Me with The Little Willies {Rarely do I care for Elvis remakes}
  • Turn Them with Sean Bones
  • Ruler of My Heart with Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Robert Randolph
  • Here We Go Again with Ray Charles
...Featuring Norah Jones was released earlier this week, so you can pick up your copy.

{Disclosure: I am a member of One 2 One Network, who provided this CD for review; opinions expressed are my own. I am entered to win a gift card through One2One Network by participating in this campaign.}


11.16.2010

Wordless Wednesday - Piano Reflections

David Nevue at Arvada Covenent Church

david nevue

For more wordlessness, check out Gabriel's blog and 5 Minutes for Mom.

11.10.2010

Wordless Wednesday - Ice Drop

frozen drop

For more wordlessness, check out Gabriel's blog.

11.09.2010

The Write Foundation - a Review

The Write Foundation offers three levels of writing, recommended for ages 11 - 17.



Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing (ages 11-13)
Level 2: Paragraph Writing (ages 12-15)
Level 3: Essay Writing (ages 14-17)

While my boys are of the appropriate age for Essay Writing, I chose Paragraph Writing, because writing is one of those topics that hasn’t had much attention in our homeschool. Of course, it’s hard when you have a child who despises writing in any way, shape, or form. Fortunately, the Write Foundation doesn’t throw your kids into things like creative writing, compare and contrast, etc. right off the bat. Their focus is primarily on first building a solid foundation of writing skills, which is precisely what we needed.

From The Write Foundation website:

Many writing curricula focus on the different types of writing, such as creative writing, story writing, poetry writing, persuasive writing, argumentative writing, informative writing, descriptive writing, book writing, fiction writing, novel writing, but the basic foundation of writing is assumed. The Write Foundation begins with the writing process, how a student formulates a topic, then a thesis, then supporting points, and by incremental teaching drills in the basics. In most grammatical subjects, we have found that failure is almost totally because the basics have not been learned.

The Write Foundation writing curriculum is a result of 8 years of successfully teaching homeschooled students in a one-day-per-week co-op setting. It has been adapted for a homeschool and used by numerous homeschooling parents to give their own children the tools of how to quickly organize and write an essay with excellence.

One of my favorite things about this curriculum is that my kids didn’t have to come up with their own ideas for what to write about. That can be an enormous hindrance in the writing process when a child is trying to remember all they need to know in order to write, which leaves little to no room to consider what topic they might wish to write about. In the beginning, this program use existing paragraphs and your child has to pull important information from which to generate an outline and then write a new paragraph based upon the outline. They’re not expected to perfectly replicate the original paragraph, but demonstrate the ability to create a good paragraph from block outline notes.

From there, a variety of lessons are presented which systematically increase the student’s writing skills, such as using quality adjectives to some fun poetry forms. When I normally mention the word poetry, I have one son who’s ready to head for the hills. But the poetry presented in the Paragraph Writing curriculum is much less intimidating than many programs. I hope to move from tolerable to enjoyable one of these days.

The student’s paragraphs and poetry are to be typed, which is a bonus for anyone who struggles with putting pencil (or pen) to paper. Every week’s lesson follows a similar format, adding new skills while including previous skills, so the students become familiar with what to expect. Each child has a well-organized binder, complete with checklists and guidelines, making it easy to access necessary information for assignments. This organization also makes it helpful for the parent to review and grade the completed work. They also provide a standard grading system, so you’re not on your own in figuring out grades.

Each Write Foundation level has 30 lessons. There are a few different options for how to purchase this product. You can purchase a complete package which includes the Teacher's Guide, the Student Worksheets, and an Additional Resources CD for all 30 lessons for $100*. Or you can purchase the same items for just 15 lessons for $65*.

You can also purchase just the Teacher's Guide (Instruction Manual) for all 30 lessons for $70* or 15 lessons for $45*. The worksheet sets (200 pages, 3-hole punched) run $25** for all 30 lessons or $15 for 15 lessons. The Additional Resources CD is optional and can be purchased for $15*.

They provide a recommended daily schedule for five or ten days per lesson. The 15-lesson program can taught over a semester or a year, depending upon which schedule works best for you and your child(ren). You can go here to take a look at sample lessons.

Mind Benders® are also incorporated into each lesson, though they are optional. They are deductive, logic puzzles which helps the students learn to organize their thoughts in a sequential and systematic way. If you want to include Mind Benders® you can purchase them from The Critical Thinking Co.™

If you decide to purchase any of The Write Foundation curricula, be aware that you will need to allow for plenty of time to review the product and prepare. It took me a little bit to follow the instructions because there’s a fair amount of page flipping within the teacher’s guide and the student worksheets until it began to come together for me. Once I had done a couple of lessons down, it made more sense.

* prices exclude S&H and tax

You can also go here to check out other reviews of The Write Foundation.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I was provided a free copy of Paragraph Writing Lessons 1-15, Teacher's Guide and Student Worksheets to review. The opinions stated here are my own.

11.08.2010

A Little Ketchup

No, not the red tomato-y kind. The kind where I try and catch up a bit on life here at the recently-neglected-again blog. Yes, I know - I'm back to posting a Wordless Wednesday each week and not much more.

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!The Homeschool Post - Nominations for the annual Homeschool Blog Awards wrapped up last week and I've been helping to sort through them so that the polls could go live. Which they have. So if you're a homeschool blogger or follow homeschool bloggers or want to just go check it out here As ever, we got the polls up and the folks out in the blogosphere find our mistakes. So there's been a bunch of follow-up and research today.

Newsletter - Once upon a time, I was the sole editor of the women's ministry newsletter at my church, which was an incredibly overwhelming job. Now there's a wonderful gal who oversees the entire thing and I get to do what I love - help with the layout and provide photos. And I still write. Somehow the newsletter and the awards always coincide. Precisely what happened last week.

Homeschool - We're plugging along. Not making quite the progress I'd like, but that's due largely to me not getting plans as organized as they ought to be. In fact, I'll be working on that this afternoon.

Letterboxing - The boys & I haven't done any letterboxing in a year or two now. Not sure where the time went. Anyway, I know we're going into winter and cold and snow and all that great Colorado weather, but I'd still like to get going on this again. Fortunately, Colorado also has some lovely, warmer, sunny days in the winter, so I'm printing out a list of boxes we'd like to hunt down so we can head out on such days.

Weekend - Hubby was gone with my dad all day Saturday. I had a birthday party to attend for a 2-year-old across the cul-de-sac. Since teenage boys aren't terribly interested in such things, I borrowed my 6-year-old niece. She enjoyed herself far more than said boys would have.

We were gone a majority of Sunday, but part of that was due to my dad's birthday. We went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner (which was awesome) and then back to my parents' for cake, ice cream, and presents. It was a wonderful evening - we all had a great time.

Dad and his grandkids
dad and kids

The two shirts we gave him:
birthday shirts

My 365 Project - Last year I attempted the 365 Project and only lasted a few months. This year, I've hung in there, but I've also fallen into batch mode. That means I don't post anything for awhile and then I catch up all at once. Which is not exactly the premise behind a 365 project. Although come to think of it, that's pretty much what happens here. But it was time to batch post some pix and get caught up again. You can check out the latest additions over at my photoblog (which, btw, is not entirely caught up - I'm getting there).

296-bench leaves

Other stuff - I have a couple of fun projects that I hope to get cracking on quite soon. I'll share more as those come together. Or not if they don't. (Like my escape clause there?) Although I am encouraged by Katie at Making This Home in today's post wherein she talks about fear. Of course, I'm always encouraged or motivated or inspired by Katie. If you haven't checked out her blog, you should. She's awesome.

How on earth can it be only 6 1/2 weeks until Christmas? Yikes. I have some projects to work on for that, too. I have purchased a few items already while at various craft fairs. It's also time for me to pull out my Letter to Self. You can check the link for more info, but basically it's where I write myself a letter about what went well and what didn't during the holidays.

And then there's scrapbooking (no, there's not logical progression here, so don't even try to figure that one out). I haven't cropped in SO long. I'm really missing it. A lot. I've cleared off my cropping bench a couple of times, but haven't done much. I'm hoping Lucy & I can get some cropping time in soon. Even more than my own love of doing it is the fact that my kids totally enjoy looking at the scrapbooks. Which just warms my heart. And makes me want to do more.

BTW, if you haven't set all your clocks yet, due to the end of Daylight Saving Time, you really should. You might get confused and think your kids are done with school if some of them haven't been changed. Not that I would know personally. Just trying to help you out, in case that's you.

11.03.2010

Wordless Wednesday - Contentment

contented cat

For more wordlessness, check out Gabriel's blog and the WW hub.

11.01.2010

Inspiring Interview

Be in the Word.


Walk in obedience.


Bring God glory.



bible glasses bw
Those are the three things I came away with after listening to an interview with Francis Chan on Catalyst. The focus of the interview has to do with God's call upon your life. I really appreciated Francis' perspective and words on this.

I've been reading Francis' books and listening to his teachings for the past couple of years. He has some very powerful and challenging things to say. You'll have to forward to the 32-minute mark for Francis' interview (I can't speak to the prior portion, as I didn't listen to it). It's well worth the 20 minutes it takes to listen.

You can listen or download here.

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