Homeschool Legacy . . . A T. O. S. Review

One of the ways I favor when learning with my children is the unit study method. I had never heard of the company Homeschool Legacy until this review became available, but I am sure glad I have heard of it now!

We have been happy to have been given two unit studies from Homeschool Legacy. We received (in digital format) Westward Ho 1 AND Westward Ho 2.

Westward Ho 1 is a five week unit, and Westward Ho 2 is a four week unit. Both are able to be used for grades two through twelve, which, of course, makes it easier and more fun to learn as a group!

In addition, all of the unit studies from Homeschool Legacy fulfill all or most of the requirements for a boy scout badge or an American Heritage Girl badge.

Having moved west to New Mexico a few years ago, I thought this would be a great choice for us! On our trip across the country, we had stopped at the St. Louis Arch, and went through the Museum of Western Expansion, so we had already picked up on some history that would be involved.

There is a lot packed into these unit studies. All of them are “once a week unit studies”, so you do not feel overwhelmed, as I have on occasion with unit studies. I invite you to watch the short video below in which the author explains the way her “once a week” unit studies work.

In Westward Ho 1, we are learning about Frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and Johnny Appleseed.

All the way through each unit, we have been given reading lists to choose from, complete with Dewey Decimal numbers so that we can look for them at our library. It’s very nice, and a money saver, to be able to get your read alouds for free instead of having to go out and buy them!

There is a family devotional which goes along with the chapter, and the Bible verses are given as reference only, meaning it works wonderfully for us, as we use only the King James Version.

Beginning with the very first week, we were given the opportunity to start a History Timeline Notebook. This is one thing we have yet to do, as I am still working on the best way to do it in a way for all to participate.

Even though we have all boys, we love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They play a big part for us in going through this unit!

There are even recipes for things such as stew that pioneers would have made, and home made butter.

In Westward Ho 1, we cover the following:

Week 1: Frontiersmen

Week 2: Pioneer Life

Week 3: The Lone Star Republic

Week 4: The Life and Times of James K. Polk

Week 5: The Oregon Trail

In Westward Ho 2, we are covering:

Week 1: Gold Rush!

Week 2: Life on the Prairie

Week 3: The Great American Railroad Race

Week 4: Cowboys and Cattle Drives

I like that there really is very little prep work! At most, you would be going to the library for books, and picking up things while doing regular grocery shopping in order to incorporate any recipes that may be included in the unit.

I like that the Westward Ho units can either be used as a complement to your current curriculum or can be your main source for history, by adding some of the other units available from Legacy Homeschooling.

We have been wanting to learn more about the west since moving here, so we are absolutely taking our time with this one, as I don’t want to miss anything, if I can help it!

Legacy Homeschool has many Once A Week Unit Studies available . . .

And I very much encourage you to go take a look. You may find them to be a welcome addition to your children’s (and your own!) education!

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Feeling Sad . . .

We just received news last evening that a precious family in our church will be leaving, as the husband is definitely called to preach. He has been our choir director since we came to our church, and in charge of children’s ministries, and is resigning as a staff member in order to be free to candidate elsewhere.

His wonderful wife, who is a fellow blogger (I encourage you to follow her blog), serves in so very many ways, it’s really quite impossible to list them all.

On top of that, their children. Oh, their children, who are so delightful! Their two boys are such fun playmates for our boys at church, and their two little girls never fail to bring a smile to me. When I’m feeling down, it’s almost as though they know it, and come for a hug from me. I will miss them when they actually leave, as will everyone at Mesa Baptist Church.

Vaya con Dios, my friends, I love you!

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Lapbooking Made Simple . . . A T.O.S. Review

Two years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Heidi St. John (the author of the book I’m reviewing) at our homeschool convention here in N.M., so if course, I was so happy to be chosen to be part of the review team for a variety of her works, all of which come from Real Life Press.

When given a choice among what was offered, I asked for the Ebook Lapbooking Made Simple.

Like Heidi St. John, I am an accidental homeschooler. This is truly something I NEVER envisioned myself doing, but then when my first child aged out of his pre-primary impaired classroom into kindergarten, he was going for a full day, half in a regular classroom and half in a special needs classroom. This was not working. They didn’t challenge him at all, and he often even went missing from the classroom, without it even being noticed for some time! Eventually, we decided that I couldn’t do any worse, and the one on one might be good. Like Heidi, I also attempted to recreate “school” at home. This. Did. Not. Work. We had way more tears than we had fun, or even any actual learning! Finally, I ditched “school at home”, and went sort of eclectic/relaxed, for the most part.

Full disclosure here, one of the main reasons I asked for Lapbooking Made Simple was that I already own some of the other offerings, having purchased (and gotten them autographed!) at convention. :-) Beyond that, though, we do enjoy lapbooking, but have yet to do one that is completely self designed, as opposed to “print, cut out, fill in and glue”.

We actually discovered lapbooking by accident several years ago, when we went to visit some good friends for their kids birthdays, and we were going to watch “Kung Fu Panda”. I thought we might as well learn about REAL Giant Pandas, so I hit the internet. I actually found a simple little lapbook for it somewhere, and we added our own touches, like some stills from the movie. But, even that was for the most part, pre-designed for us. Not that we don’t enjoy the lapbooks we’ve done that are pre-designed, we totally do, but Heidi St. John, with her Ebook Lapbooking Made Simple, shows us (and you), how to easily take ANY topic of interest, and design your own lapbook.

I like her one Golden Rule: Your lapbook belongs to your child. Don’t take over and do it for him. (pg. 6)

This is a rule *I* needed to hear, for sure. I am an avid scrapbooker and card maker, so I really have to check myself when it comes to this, because what looks right to my kids may NOT be what I would have done at all, and I never want them to feel their “creation” isn’t good.

In this 54 page book, Heidi St. John gives so many tips on lapbooking! Not too far in, she reveals her top five lapbooking tips. She also shows us how to slow down and start simply, and that it is important that the child have FUN with it. If I make my child feel that it has to be “perfect”, he is not likely to want to do another lapbook, right?

Further in, we are given tips on folding the file folders to make single lapbooks, double lapbooks, and even more advanced lapbooks!

There are abundant online resources within this Ebook that are linked so that you may simply click on them and go check them out, which is one thing I really enjoy being able to do. The final 19 pages are full of printable templates for a variety of minibooks and such that your children can make their own, no matter wht topic they are currently studying. This is one of the best things about lapbooking!

Do not allow the length (54 pages) of this book to deceive you! It is chock full of ideas that I know my family will be using! And at the low price of $7.95, I think it’s quite a bargain!

To find out what my fellow crew members thought of this and other products from Real Life Press, please click the banner below . . .

Real Life Press Review 

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How I got to this particular journey…

homeschoollori:

Joining in with the “Throw Back Thursday Blog Style” crowd! The post below the link up graphic was originally posted April 15, 2010, and is from around the time I began my bariatric surgery journey. Upon re-reading it, I have to admit that I have fallen off of the “no pop” wagon. I am slowly (very slowly!) trying to get back on that wagon, because I’ve also gained back weight and a couple of dress sizes. :-( Encouragement would be very welcome! :-)

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Tots and Me

Originally posted on My Journeys Through Life . . . Herding Cats In Albuquerque!:

All of my adult life, I’ve battled with weight/food issues.  I’ve lost weight, lots and lots of it, but never enough, and never for very long.  Then, four years ago in May, I was in Karmanos cancer facility (in Detroit, MI) having a total hysterectomy as the result of being diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  The surgeon told me then that if I didn’t lose the excess weight, my cancer would most likely come back, and that I had to do it even if it meant bariatric treatment. Well, I did try. I lost about 30 pounds, and then gained it all back, plus more. As usual.

People who don’t struggle with obesity and weight loss problems don’t often “get” it, a lot of the time they think it’s just a matter of will power. But when you have well over 100 pounds to lose, it becomes overwhelming, and you just…

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Star Toaster: The Orphs Of The Woodlands . . . A T.O.S. Review

“The Artist” has been having a lot of fun as our test subject reviewer for a wonderful product from Star Toaster. It is an online “book” called Orphs of the Woodlands, but seriously, it is SO much more than just an online book!

Within the book “The Artist” is reading, “The Treasure of Hightower”, he “became” a character who is a grey squirrel. He chose the name Wingnut for his character, and was able to choose character traits, as well, though he’s just informed me that he doesn’t remember what they are, so we had to log in and find them. Which took a while, since he had also FORGOTTEN his pass word, because he told it to just stay logged in. That was on HIS lapbook though, and I’m on the big desk top. No matter, we finally figured it out when I tried from the parent side to change his pass word, only to find that what I attempted to change it to was already in use within our family. That would be him, since he is currently the only one using this program, so the momentary crisis was averted!

As I said, this is so much more than just an online book! While “The Artist” enjoys reading, he is like me in that he prefers a real, in your hands, turn the paper pages book. However, within the pages of this book come interactive adventure!

As he is reading this book, “The Artist” comes across highlighted words which he can mouse over for the synonyms and definitions he can get sound effects, etc.

As the book “The Treasure of HighTower” begins, Wingnut (“The Artist’s”) squirrel is introduced, and the reader finds out just how it was that he became an orphan himself. The reader finds out that his home is in Ivythwaite. The grey squirrel is recruited to join an underground group called W.A.K., which was formed to fight the “Night Creatures” who have been responsible causing the little orphs to BECOME orphans. Unfortunately, when the resistance begins sending him books (like MATH, for goodness sakes!), he just piles them up in his home, not realizing they are books filled with knowledge he will need, and the night creatures come and raid his home, taking the books while he is hiding. Now, he must journey to HighTower, where the orphs live, to become further involved with the resistance, help the orphs, and make a home for himself in the process.

During “The Artist’s” journey through this story, he is not just reading. At the end of each chapter, he is given “jobs” which cover many learning categories, such as math, science, literature, art, life lessons, memory, wild life lessons, thinking skills, etc.

As he completes these jobs, he receives gold stars, which is the currency in the world of this story. Earning more stars means he can begin helping the orphs by purchasing things like plots of land, food, weapons, clothing and such, in order to take care of the orphs. The system also gives him more orphs to care for occasionally, based on how many gold stars he has accumulated.

When I asked him what he liked about this program, while I was writing this review, one of the things he said was that he really liked the quotes. He especially liked the one “Never work before you eat lunch. If you must work before you eat lunch, eat lunch first”. “The Artist said he thought it was by a famous comedian, but unfortunately, he can’t remember who it was. He also liked it that sometimes while holding the mouse over something in Latin, it would give him the translation. He is just about to begin chapter 7, and is really enjoying the book!

Here is a candid shot of “The Artist” while he is reading the book and doing jobs. I wanted a candid shot that he didn’t know I was taking, so that you would see that he really is enjoying the world of the orphs!

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I like that this is more than just an online reading book, as I said above. There are cross curriculum lessons throughout, and it is made fun for the student. That is always a big plus for me, as you know! :-)

“The Artist” and I give this one a big thumbs up, and we think you will, too!

to discover what other crew members and their children thought of Orphs of the Woodlands by Star toaster, please click the banner below.

Star Toaster Review 

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Wordless Wednesday: April 15, 2015 In My Front Yard!

phone dump 4142015 033

 

 

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

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New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 From Memoria Press . . . A T.O.S. Review

My eldest son, “The Batman”, was pleased to be picked for this review of New American Cursive: Penmanship Program Workbook 1 from Memoria Press . . .

He wanted to try it primarily because he has tried very hard all of his life to learn cursive writing. As my regular readers are aware, “The Batman” is age 22 now. He has a number of developmental disabilities, and it has really, really bothered him that he has trouble even writing his signature. He gets so nervous when trying to write, that he grips the pencil very tightly, and his hands become very sweaty. :-( All that aside though, he said he wanted to try again.

This program, although designed (obviously) for someone MUCH younger, is a simpler form of cursive than I learned, and simpler too, than the cursive included when he was little and we were trying to use a purchased curriculum, and do what I now refer to as “school in a box”. Back then, both he and I were constantly, literally in tears over the handwriting issue, and that was before we even left printing for cursive!

I have to say, one of the first things that “The Batman” noticed was that the workbook was spiral bound at the top, rather than the side. He immediately realized that this meant that the spirals wouldn’t be pushing into him (he is left-handed) like regular spiral bound books. YAY! :-)

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The New American Cursive Penmanship Program was written by Iris Hatfield, who has a passion for handwriting, this program is very important to her. As you will read in the beginning of the workbook, she points out that the penmanship of American students has deteriorated over the past several decades. This program was created to help end this deterioration, by making cursive easy and fun to learn.

Throughout the workbook, there is a cute little mascot, Mr. Meerkat. The meerkat was chosen as the mascot because it is one of the few animals who are known to actively teach their young. So, why not have him help teach OUR children, hmmm? :-)

Now, regarding how this workbook “works”. There is no “lesson plan” in which you are to schedule so much each day. There is a short teaching guide, in which you, the parent/teacher, are shown some very simple things.  You will teach the student (and you will want to remind him or her often until they have formed these habits) the three P’s:

1. Posture

2. Pencil Position

3. Paper Position

On the same page which gives you this information, there are ideas for finding instructional videos on youtube for both right and left-handed students learning New American Cursive.

As the student begins to work on letter formation, you will help them by reminding them often of the three S’s:

1. Size

2. Slant

3. Spacing

Also in the short teaching guide is information about why it is important to use a multi-sensory method of teaching. It really helps the student to learn. When they say the letter, feel the letter (by writing it in the air, for example), and write the letter, they have actually put it into their brain in three different ways. Another wonderful suggestion given is to play light classical music when the student is ready to begin the actual writing process. I totally believe in this. I’ve read a number of things through the years which have convinced me that classical music is great as a background to studying, not to mention how helpful it is with someone like my son, who has broken connections in his brain.

We also like that after every few pages of work, there is a practice page which has extra space to either practice the letters, or to draw something. It makes for a nice break, especially for a student who is stressing out over handwriting.

By the time the student reaches the end of this book, he or she will be doing copy work such as The Pledge of Allegiance.

Because my son has difficulty with fine motor control, I’m pleased that this is a nice cursive, without all the extra loops and such that some cursive programs use. This is also helpful as ALL of my boys think “THAT kind of cursive is GIRLY, mom!” :-)

I do like that this  workbook teaches the cursive letters in alphabetical order, though with the help of a software program (available on the Memoria Press site) called Startwrite/NAC, you can make up your own extra worksheets, tests, etc. I’m considering the purchase of  it, so as to create copy pages in topics we are studying, not to mention being able to help all of my boys with their cursive so that they can write neatly to family members and friends.

As I said way at the beginning of this review, “The Batman” is way older than the age this is designed for, but with his difficulties, this is where he needs to be. So far, it’s coming along well for him, and he likes it, so *I* like it!
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