Thursday, October 27, 2016

CrossTimber Personalized Name Gifts (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

The meaning of a name is important.  In the Bible, Naomi says, "Do not call me Naomi [‘Sweet’]. Call me Mara [‘Bitter’], for the Almighty has made my life very bitter." (Ruth 1:20)  The story of Zacharias culminates with him regaining his ability speak after he writes of his newborn, "His name is John," which means, "God is gracious." Jesus charged Simon with leading the early Christians with the words, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah...I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," changing his name to reflect his new role in the Church.  (Matthew 16:17-18)   When we chose names for our children, the biggest challenge Neal and I faced was "Do we like the meaning of the name?"  As much as we tested the sound of names, and any potential nicknames, the deciding factor in what name each baby was christened was the meaning of his or her name.   Luke means "light," Matthew means "gift of God," Celia is from the Latin "caelus," or "heaven," Jude means "God is praised," and Damien means "to overcome." I think a name is one of the most important gifts a parent gives to their child.

CrossTimber is a family-run company that designs beautiful name gifts, but owner John Dehnart is as passionate about name meanings as I am!  I was so excited to receive a Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse from them to review that is not only artistically beautiful but also delves deep into name meanings.

Crew members were given a gift certificate to CrossTimber and allowed to choose from many different personalized gifts, from name plaques to coffee mugs.

When we were selected for this review, I wasn't totally certain what I would pick. I was leaning toward a coffee mug for Jude, who is very interested in genealogy and etymology, but how does a mama choose ONE child?  John is always up for checking out a name, so you know what you're ordering. I decided to see what CrossTimber had researched for Celia. (She got moved to the top of the list because while the boys have found mugs and keychains with their names on them, it's very rare for us to find anything in a gift shop with her name on it.)  Most consider Celia to be a derivative of Cecilia, which means "blind," but we chose it because of its Latin root. I admit wanting to test John's skill into finding name meanings.  Silly me! John LOVES a good research challenge.

I contacted him through the website, explained the background on our choice of  Celia's name, and he promptly emailed me back with the following:

He also gave me suggestions on what would be on plaques for each of the boys, and now I really didn't know what to choose.  Then I thought about Neal.  No, he's not an afterthought -- I just was focused on "pick a kid."  In the interest of not risking a cry of playing favorites, I thought that maybe I would get a gift for Neal, especially since his is not a common name, and finding something with the correct spelling is nearly impossible.  I asked John if he could tell me about Neal's name. I thought about getting a single name plaque for Neal and saving it for Christmas, but then I realized one with both of our names would make a great anniversary gift.

I love our plaque!  There are over 100 different combinations of designs to choose from, with eleven "picture postcard"  backgrounds, from mountains to river scenes, in the multi-name-plaque category. I selected the "Harvest Fields" background for two reasons.  First, it is a nod to our family's business in agriculture.  (We sell packing supplies -- boxes, crates, etc. -- to farmers.)  However, continuing on the name theme, I've been told that Falciani means farmer, so a harvest seems appropriate for an October anniversary.

I was impressed with the shipping, too.  It came very well padded, so safe from any mishaps in the postal system.  It also came very quickly!  CrossTimber asks that you give them two weeks to get your item to you, including transit time.  Even in the massive Crew rush (there are 90 families on this review, and many of us ordered additional items), I still received my order within the two weeks allotted.

Bookmarks are available for purchase with orders, and included for free with larger orders. However, John tucked a bookmark for each of us.  Each has our name, the meaning, and the Bible verse from the main item.

In addition to the gift of a bookmark for larger orders, CrossTimber offers some nice discounts.  I know when you're a small business, even small discounts can take big bites out of your bottom line, so I appreciate their generosity!

CrossTimber is also holding a Christmas "Giftaway"!  One winner will receive a free personalized gift, while nine others will receive $10 gift certificates.  The contest ends on December 4th, 2016, so you will have your item by Christmas.  There are several ways to enter, including daily options, so make sure to come back and increase your chances of winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
After learning how dedicated John is to finding the meaning of names, and seeing the quality of CrossTimber's work, these may become my go-to for new baby and Christening gifts, or a wedding gift, etc.  It would also be something special for a new Confirmand to present him or her with the meaning of the newly chosen Confirmation name.  A gift from CrossTimber will help share just how special a person's name is!

To learn about the name gifts other Crew members received, click on the banner below.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

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©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Middlebury Interactive Languages (A Homeschool Crew Review)

From when he was in early elementary school until this year, Matthew has studied Spanish.  After struggling through Spanish II and a semester of Spanish III, he decided to take a break from it and study Latin.  However, in today's economy, the ability to speak Spanish is a very marketable skill, so when we had the chance to review Middlebury Interactive Languages' High School Spanish I Fluency, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity for him to keep practicing his skills.  (This is a two-semester course; we received access to the first semester for the review.)

Middlebury Languages offers programs for elementary, middle school, and high school students in Spanish, French, Chinese and German.  There are two styles of courses: immersion and explicit instruction.  The fluency courses are based on an immersive methodology.  Imagine disembarking from a plane and being thrust into a foreign city and needing to navigate around.  That is very similar to how the Fluency course works. The program uses activities and videos where a student is asked to observe keywords, inflection, tone, and body language, the same as you would in person.

In working with Matthew, I began to realize a good deal of his struggle with Spanish last year was in speaking and being able to understand what others were saying. At first, he panicked because the videos feature native speakers who sometimes spoke very rapidly.  He had difficulty understanding the words, just by sound.  In this exercise, however, he did quite well because he could read as he listened.

On one hand, if he was dropped off in the middle of Madrid or Mexico City, he would be forced to listen, formulate the language in his head, and speak. That's a tall order.  At the same time, I've been to Italy but do not speak the language (Spanish, Catholic Church Latin, and Italian restaurant menus are as close as I get), and while a conversation with a native was difficult, there were plenty of opportunities to attempt to "read and speak" or read along with something like a menu. Gestures and facial expressions also were employed to convey points.  I think that while Matthew's other program focused on conversational Spanish that was more "pick a topic, and we'll talk back and forth" combined with a more traditional grammatical approach, this multi-sensory approach may be better for him.  Being able to hear and see the words he is learning, and in context, will help him gain confidence.  I think also being able to see gestures and movement help, as opposed to a face-to-face but behind desks conversation.

When you're looking at fluency in a language, learning cultural norms are crucial as well.  One of the areas where this program is better than most others I've seen is that it features examples of how Hispanic idioms are a bit different from English.

I can say that despite six years of Spanish study of my own, I never knew this.  I would never consider gordito to be a compliment, but it is. Without knowing the culture, it would be easy to find myself offended rather than flattered someone was calling me a pet name.  I think learning the culture of the people you are speaking with is just as important as the words they say.

Matthew had a relatively easy time of this. I think because he did have a history with the language, it made it easier for him to work on using Spanish rather than learning Spanish . It moves at a very rapid pace, as opposed to a more traditional course that gives you many opportunities to learn a particular set of vocabulary words or grammar concept. Unit 1 focused on greetings, culminating in the ability to introduce yourself.  

There was only a minimum of formal vocabulary and grammar included at the beginning, and Matthew felt that if he hadn't already known "Soy de Nueva Jersey y tengo quince aƱos..." from prior instruction, he would have been totally lost in the "learn where you're from, how old you are, and write an email/record a voicemail with this" sections.  I think the program is more appropriate for students who have studied with a more traditional program and are now looking to work on putting the "book knowledge" to the test in a situation that more resembles a real-world experience.  He was able to complete several activities in a single day -- he spent about 45 minutes each day and was able to finish about a third of a unit each time.

Overall, I liked this program for him. I think we are going to continue with the course to help with his fluency skills. I am looking at it to be a "bridge" for him for this year.  He's not quite ready for Spanish III because his foundation is shaky, but this is certainly strenuous enough to count as a third language credit.  Importantly, it is helping to build his skills and confidence that he really has learned more than he realized, and giving him the chance to build upon the skills he has, rather than letting them stagnate or wither.

To read about the other Middlebury Interactive Languages programs the Crew has been working on, click the banner below.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

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©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Being Part of the Homeschool Review Crew

It's hard to believe that we are coming to the end of our 4th year on the Homeschool Review Crew.  (If the name is a little unfamiliar, it's because the Crew had been called the "Schoolhouse Crew"  since our family joined, but we've recently changed our name to better reflect being part of the homeschool community.) When we first became Crew members, Jude and I were bumbling our way through Kindergarten.  Four years later, thanks to the Crew, Jude has made it well into fourth grade, and we've even successfully graduated one surprise-homeschooled high schooler! When I was asked to write about why the Crew has been a blessing for us, I realized I could probably write an entire dissertation!

What being on the Crew means ...

People say, "You get to try stuff for free, right?" Well, sort of.  It's true that the costs aren't coming out of my wallet, but a good review does take time to write.  I'm the first person to say that time is valuable. That's why I choose not to go to six grocery stores in search of the rock bottom price on things but instead use the time to write reviews.  Looking back through past reviews, we have tried over two hundred products! That's a lot of time invested.

What stands out most is we have test-driven at least twelve phonics and reading programs over the years. When I think about what it would have cost to purchase them and then find most didn't work for Jude, I know I would have given up long before we got to number six or seven. We've paid for them in sweat-and-sometimes-tears equity.

Time spent on Crew reviews are a big reason why we've been able to travel so much over the over the last few summers. Reviewing has allowed us to leave the product's monetary value in our homeschooling budget. This means that instead of buying full curricula for each boy, we've been able to shift money into our "Adventure Fund." I'll trade the 20 or so hours it takes me to learn a new program, take and edit pictures, and write a review for the opportunity to tour America!

But being part of the Crew isn't just about getting "free" stuff or the chance to travel.  After trying all that I found easily, as well as some "new to us" programs with the Crew, I was at the point of giving up when it was time to volunteer for yet another new phonics and reading program. I said, "I'm so burnt out.  I'll never give up on Jude, but I'm tired of failing. He is tired of failing.  If you want us, we'll do it; if you don't need us, I'm ok with that."  The Crew leadership decided they wanted us, so we reviewed Essential Skills Advantage. It was the one that clicked, and Jude took off like a rocket.  It was the right program, at the right time, but the confidence booster of being chosen was more than.  It wasn't one more "Well, why do you need to try program number nine? Maybe it's not the programs; maybe it's him.  Or, maybe it's you, and you can't teach him."  It was somebody saying, "You can do this. You have it in you, and I know your brain is fried, but I know you'll still give it all you have. Just try.  You got this!"  Calling ourselves the "Homeschool Review Crew" isn't just a catchy title.  The Crew is a group that works as a crew, working together and lifting each other up.

Many of the things we've reviewed have been programs I had never heard of, too, but have made a huge difference for us.  Celia got involved with one review, testing out online violin lessons for six weeks.  We were so impressed that we decided to continue with the lessons.  (This is where having tried things lets us know what works or doesn't so we spend actual cash wisely.)  Three years later,  she's now a first chair violin in our local youth string ensemble, thanks in large part to her online teacher, Jeremy.  Late last spring, she added piano lessons with Antonia, another MacPhail instructor.  Two trophies for successful violin jury exams reside on our piano; our house is now filled with the music being practiced preparing for juries in both instruments.  Without the Crew, we'd never have known about this program, and it's made a huge difference in her life.  On our trip this past summer, we stopped in Minneapolis, and she got to meet her teachers at their studio. I practically had to tie a string to her ankle, so she didn't float away from the sheer joy of playing with them in person.

I'm always surprised at the variety of things we get to review.  We've tried out programs for every grade, from preschool to high school. Of course, most are curriculum related, but it's not just "three Rs."  Science, music, history, and foreign languages are all things we've taught using review items. We've also expanded how we think of learning.  It's not just pencil-and-paper We've also reviewed inspirational books, a few "pampering just for Mom" items,  and even a company that creates beautiful diplomas! Many people talk having "child-led" homeschools; we are Crew-led learners!

The Crew is currently looking for new members!  If you're a blogger and homeschooler, I encourage you to explore becoming part of the Crew.  If you meet the guidelines and think you would be a great addition to the Crew, you can find the application to join here.  Tell them Meg F. sent you!

 If you're not quite convinced that the crew is right for you, think about it, and then please read what other members are saying about their experiences by clicking this link: What being on the Crew means...  (The link will be live on Friday, October 22 at 8 am Eastern.)

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Damien's First-ish Grade Program

Recently I talked about my plans for Jude and fourth grade, so I thought I would talk about Damien next.  I've had this post drafted for a while, but the "what I'm planning" part keeps changing.  He's moving along faster than I expected in many areas, so it's become a scramble to stay ahead of him! Officially, he's starting first grade, but a large portion of his work is at an early second-grade level.  I think it's a result of being everybody's younger brother -- he's listened and absorbed everything.  We'll call him a first-ish grader!

He has a pretty relaxed program -- after all, he's only six.  Math and Language Arts are the two "must accomplish daily" items on his to-do list.

Current Daily Program


Language Arts
Spelling You See Jack and Jill

Growing with Grammar

Currently, Damien is working on Level 1.  He would be happy to do three or four exercises a day, and I think he could handle that, but for the moment, we're going very slowly. He's been doing one page each day, mostly to let Jude get farther ahead of him.  Jude is finally ready for formal grammar lessons, so we're starting at the beginning. He and Jude started the program at the same time, but Jude has been going at a "review" rate, and is about a third of the way into Level 2.  Once Jude has moved up to Level 3, I'll let Damien loose and let him work at whatever pace he decides. It's a balance between not holding one back and not letting the other feel left behind.

Veritas Press More Favorites
Progeny Press literature studies

More Favorites is our current literature guide book, but I think it will probably last us until Christmas or so. I like how it's a gentle bridge between 1st and 2nd grades; he's reading at an early 2nd-grade level, but isn't quite ready for the depth of higher level studies.  After he finishes this, he'll switch to some early elementary Progeny Press literature studies, and then maybe back to second grade Veritas Press guides.

Currently he's working his way through A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I'm not certain what we'll do when he's done that, but probably another book of poetry.

His choice of book, for approximately 15 minutes each day.  It's plus or minus a few minutes depending on the length of the book/chapter.  He's currently reading Book 2 of the "My Father's Dragon" trilogy, Elmer and the Dragon.

Once he's done those tasks for the day, if he's still up for more work,  we are doing some worksheet style programs.  They're generally something seasonal, so the topic is pretty random. The aim is for a 2-3 sheet packet three days each week.   He'd like to add more art - drawing, painting, etc. so that's become the currency for completing his must-do list -- if he finishes in time, we are able to get the paints out.

Damien also gets involved in review products and big kid science projects, so I'm not too worried about rounding things out formally.  He's also participating in the National Park Service's Junior Ranger Program. In this post's picture he's wearing badges from our summer trip and holding new Junior Paleontologist and Valley Forge Junior Ranger badges.

Coming soon:

Grapevine Studies

We'll start this with their Birth of Christ study, and then continue on with New Testament Catechism. 

180 Days of Writing - Grade 1

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MyFreezEasy (A Homeschool Review Crew Review)

When Luke began his Junior year of high school, he decided to take a cooking course.  He's a master sandwich maker, but even he conceded that even a grilled cheese sandwich wasn't really a "hot dinner."  He became very proficient in the kitchen, trying old favorites and branching out to adapt new recipes.  By now I can say, "I'm busy doing schoolwork with the others.  There are pork chops in the fridge, do something with them," and an hour or so later, dinner is on the table.   Matthew has watched Luke in the kitchen and has been itching for his turn, so when we received a Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy, he suited up in the kitchen and was ready to cook.

Easy there, cowboy!  Let's find something to make first.

MyFreezEasy is a subscription service that creates meal plans for busy families.  In it's strictest sense, you can create meals that fill your freezer in one bulk session, and cooking becomes "grab a bag and go" plan.  Meals are divided by cooking style (slow cooker, skillet, etc.), by ingredient (ground beef vs. other cuts of beef, pork chops vs. chicken, etc.), and even allergy accommodations (gluten free, dairy free, etc.).  Below is a sample of the "ground meat" category:

Each month, MyFreezEasy releases eight pre-organized meal plans that include recipes and shopping lists planned around a particular style of cooking or food, as well as a Build Your Own Meal Plan option. Having them organized by protein is a good idea for if you are thinking "Chicken is on sale this week," or "I have some ground beef to use up, but I'm not sure what I want to do with it."  It's also nice that you're not flipping through skillet pork chop recipes when you know you want something for the slow cooker.   You can swap out another dish from same pre-made plan genre (ie, chicken, ground beef, etc.)  if the pre-planned list has something that won't work for you.  However, since I knew I wanted to try several different types of recipes  before committing to a freezer full of them, we chose to mostly work within the BYO version.  Among the things we made were Chicken Parmesan, Slow Cooker Beef and Black Bean Chili, Peachy Pork Chops, and Stuffed Peppers.

One thing I appreciated is the recipe measurements are usually generous.  We generally doubled the ingredients and still had leftovers! That's something that rarely happens with recipes served to teen boys! I appreciated having a night off in the kitchen when we ate them up!  The one time we didn't have much left was when we made Chicken Asado -- my chicken pieces were on the smaller side and didn't go as far.

I was skeptical when we first started this because we're not a "bulk cooking family."  Even when I can tomatoes in the summer, I put them up plain, preferring to flavor them based on what we're eating when I open the jars rather than winding up having six jars of salsa and no pasta sauce!   Much of our meat is bought in bulk -- every few months, we contract with a local butcher for a whole pig, a bulk order of chicken, etc. We receive it frozen, so it's pointless to defrost and re-freeze it just so it's in the "right" zip-top bag.  I also was a little confused with why it would be worth the freezer space for some of the meal.  One example is the chili we made. It certainly makes sense to brown the ground meat and freeze that, so it's ready to go, and I can certainly get on board with freezing prepared chili, but it didn't make sense to me to open cans into plastic bags.  It's more storage-space-efficient for me just to open everything directly into the crock pot when I'm making dinner. For the pork chops, based on the freezer directions, it made more sense to me to take pork chops and already-frozen (and unless it's early July, generally less expensive that fresh) out of the freezer on the night I was ready to cook.

(c) MyFreezEasy
MyFreezEasy meals are very easy to prep. Directions are well written, so I can hand a beginner cook like Matthew a printout and say "go make this."  There have been a few things he's needed help with, like learning how to pit peaches and the "wet hand/dry hand" technique for breading chicken.  He would have been able to make the chili completely on his own, but apparently, the pop top on the first black bean can fought back. (We had to fall back and re-engage with a "use the can opener" strategy.)  After seeing what Luke has made over the past two years, I know Matthew was a bit nervous that his meals would be as well received.  These were simple to make, helping him build his confidence in the kitchen.

Most of the recipes are reasonably flexible, which is good for a new cook.  For example, the stuffed pepper mix called for "ground beef."  Since we had some Italian sausage in the fridge,  we used that instead.  Matthew learned that a cooking recipe is a guide, and generally as long as you're substituting something similar, you can adjust recipes and make them your own. (Since sausage is really seasoned ground pork, so it works while a steak would not be a good choice even though it's still beef.)  We also made the Chicken Asado recipe, up through marinating the chicken, and then grilled it instead of baking.  (I didn't get a picture of that one -- it disappeared too quickly!)

In almost every recipe, we adjusted the spice content -- my only real complaint is they recipes overall are very mild.  We followed the pork chop recipe precisely, and found the flavor was good but little flat; next time we make it, we'll add a bit more ginger and maybe some allspice.  I knew looking at the chili recipe that one teaspoon of garlic powder was not going to be enough for our family, so I stepped in and taught him how to pour ground spices into his hand to measure.  He learned sometimes you DO need to measure carefully -- we were out of chili powder and had to make more, and in that scenario, measuring is necessary to keep the proportions even -- and other times, you can measure with the "eh...looks close enough" method.

One thing I wasn't impressed with was the allergy flagging.  I admit, I am pretty biased on this one because I've been working around allergies for ten years now, and as I read recipes, I just swap ingredients in my mind.  Many of the recipes were inherently free of the top 8 allergens, but sometimes recipes in the "gluten free" category were notes like "use gluten free bread crumbs," or "serve with gluten free sides." Several of the recipes were dairy based and said, "Unfortunately, there's not a good way to do this dairy free."  This is from the stuffed pepper recipe.

However,  lasagna can easily be made dairy free using dairy-free cheese substitutes, and we made the peppers using a vegan cheese.  Even the "parmesan cheese" topping on our chicken rendition was dairy free (you should have seen the happy dance I did in the grocery aisle when I found it -- this recipe gave me a reason to use it!)  Yes, in some dishes it can be omitted, and I wouldn't expect her to know every brand, but I wish there was a little more effort put into the allergy offerings than just "choose gluten free sides" or "skip this item/recipe."   There were several recipes that Matthew read at face value and was disappointed until I pointed out how we could work around them.

We are enjoying our subscription to MyFreezEasy.  There is a good variation -- the menu lineups change each month, with some new recipes added and others retired, so there is something new to choose from as well as favorites.   Because of how we grocery shop, I don't see us making many recipes to fill the freezer, but the "from the freezer" direcitons to the recipes will be a good guide for what Matthew needs to take out and defrost for his turns cooking dinner.

For more about MyFreezEasy, follow them on social media or click the banner below to read others' reviews.

Pinterest: Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

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©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

If You Were Me and Lived In... by Carole P. Roman (A Homeschool Review Crew Review)

In the past, we have enjoyed several books from Carole P. Roman's "If You Were Me and Lived in..." series.  These short picture-style books introduced children to many different cultures from around the world.  Roman has now expanded on the theme with an 8-volume group of history books for older students.  If You Were Me and Lived In... brought to you by Carole P. Roman and now travels not just around the world but also through time, from ancient Egypt and China to the American West.  Crew members each received four books to review -- two we selected and two that the publisher chose for us.  Our family received soft-cover editions of:

In addition to the paper versions, the series is available as Amazon Kindle downloads, both for individual purchase and as part of the Kindle Unlimited Program.

These books are written in a conversational style, but have more complex texts than the original series.  Each includes information from clothing to diet to expected household duties about what life might have been like for a child living in that era.  Status was conferred by the father's trade:  a scrappy London baker, a wealthy doctor in the Liu Bang's court, a
 Norman knighted by William the Conqueror, or a homesteader who traveled the Oregon Trail.
In addition to the informational stories, each contains a short section with biographies about major rulers and historical contemporaries of&nbspthe era, followed by a glossary of terms introduced in the story.  Pronunciation of these words is included in the glossary, and often within the story.   Using the Fleisch-Kincaid reading scale (the same one used to determine the readability of legal documents), these books average around a 7th to 8th-grade reading level.  I think these could be used with younger students, with assistance in reading.  Fourth grader Jude was able to most of the reading aloud, but he did need some help in places.

Jude, my little American historian, loved the book on the American West.  This past summer, we traveled along the Oregon Trail, including along the Platte River in Nebraska, making several stops at National Park Service sites along the trail. While we did not go all the way to Oregon, we learned about the hardships of the trails, the Native Americans in the territories, and different styles of wagons and how to pack them efficiently.  Much of this book was interrupted with, "I remember this...the Junior Ranger book said..." or "Remember the Ranger told me..."  As he read about how children would walk along the trail, he reminded me that even he got to walk along the trail, too.  Even without a road trip along the trail, this book gives a student a lot of information about what it was like to be a settler in the West.  It could be used as the basis for a unit study; the book easily becoming the hub of the wheel and spoking out in many directions to explore study the Homestead Act, the Native Americans, the geography of the land, cowboy culture, etc.

We also enjoyed the volume on Ancient China.  Another stop on our summer road trip was The Field Museum in Chicago, where we divided our time between the famous T. rex Sue and the museum's special feature exhibit on Emperor Quin Shihang's dynasty and his Terracotta Warriors.  This story features the Han Dynasty, which begins with the death of Quin and the ascendance of Liu Bang.  Having a small amount of background, we were able to move forward into the era that brought the Silk Road and the teachings of Confucius to the west. We learned about how a courtier's child lived, dressed, ate, and studied.  One of the featured biographies was Hua Mulan...yes, that Mulan, of the "dressed as a boy to take her father's place in the army" legend.  Like ...American West, this book easily provides a foundation to build a unit study, this time of the Han Dynasty.

We're looking forward to using the other two books as Unit Study guides for western European history.  The Middle Ages will slide nicely into Elizabethan England, and we may augment the era with Volumes Eight and Two, ...Viking Europe and  ...Renaissance Italy, when we study the Middle Ages.  You could combine ...Ancient China with ...Ancient Greece (Volume 1) to create a large study of ancient cultures.

I liked these books as a stepping stone from the simpler "just the culture" of the original "If You Were Me and Lived in..." books to more advanced texts.  They are simple enough for later-elementary readers to understand, yet complex enough to be used with middle school age students.  We will be referring to them for a long time to come.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Random Five...on Saturday

What a crazy week!

1. The Great Declutter continues.  I'm making progress, though.  I've finally finished one corner of the school room, and the boys have a new reading nook.  They managed to share seven whole minutes before they began bickering over whose turn it was.

2.  Speaking of reading, isn't it awesome when kids want to read more?  This week, Damien finished My Father's Dragon and asked for the sequels.  Jude is expected to read for half an hour a day, and was partway through when he finished the Magic Tree House series book he was reading.  He jumped up and yelled, "STOP THE TIMER!!!  I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!" and ran for the next volume!

3.  Matthew has been on KP duty this week. We've been working on recipes from MyFreezEasy for a future review.  So far, we've made four recipes and they're all keepers.  It's also nice having a few nights off.

4.  Jude also had a turn in the kitchen.  He made comfits almost like the ones in Alice's pocket when she fell into the hole. Hers had currants, but since we didn't have any in the cupboard, we swapped mini-chocolate chips.

5.  I'm hopeful that next week I'll get further on my to-do list.  One of the things is to start editing my pictures from our summer trip so I can start sorting them into blog posts.

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