Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bessie’s Pillow–A Homeschool Review Crew Book Review


Strong Learning, Inc.


We absolutely love history at our house. I was blessed to be raised by a father who loved history and I have tried to instill a love of history to my children as well. So, when we got the chance to review Bessie's Pillow from Strong Learning, Inc. we were very excited. We weren’t disappointed!

Have you ever had something in your family passed down from generation to generation that intrigued you? You might have wondered what the history or the significance of the object was? That is sort of what Bessie’s Pillow is all about. However it’s not just about the pillow but it is about 18 year old Boshka Markman (Bessie) who immigrated from Lithuania in 1906 to escape the persecution that many other Jewish people were experiencing in Europe.

Let me tell you, from the very beginning of this book my middle child, Joshua, was hooked. He practically begged for me to continue reading it to him since we used this as a read aloud for he and his younger brother Jacob. The book is super well written by Bessie’s granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert and covers not only her immigration experience but her first years in America, her marriage and her family.


Bessie's Pillow

However, this is not just a fantastic biography, but it also comes with a study guide and some fascinating resources that make the story really come to life! I don’t know about you, but when I become entrenched in a historical novel that I really love, I want to immerse myself in that time period. Well, with the resources that come with Bessie’s Pillow you can actually see, hear and almost smell what it was like during that time period. There are movie clips, pictures and links to other sites that have to do with many topics that have to do with immigration and life in America during the 1900’s.

The online teacher’s study guide is also excellent. It includes questions and discussion topics for Language Arts, Social Studies, and, of course, History. It also has a fantastic time line that can be printed out and used while reading the book. The glossary of terms was also very helpful since many Russian and Jewish terms were used throughout the book that may be unfamiliar to the reader.

That’s not even all, though. The book itself has a fantastic section that gives more detail about many of the things mentioned in the book and what it was like living during that time period. There are also many pictures of Bessie and her family down through the years.

I know that you can tell by this review that we really, really love this book. It has become a favorite of Joshua and is also a favorite of mine. This 276 page novel can be used by all ages but an elementary ages child might need a little more help to understand some of the things that are happening and some of the language. To find out more about Bessie's Pillow from Strong Learning, Inc. click on any one of the links above. To find what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about novel click on the banner below. You can also connect with the folks from Bessies Pillow on social media using the links provided below. Happy reading!

Twitter:  @BessiesPillow


Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide–An Awesome Homeschool Review Crew Review


Home School Adventure Company

It’s interesting that this review should come up when it did. Really, it’s no coincidence but it is God’s timing. I am always amazed by it. But, I digress. The reason that I am amazed by God’s timing with this review is because of the adventurous time in life that we are in. We have three biological sons – or, as Sarah, my wife would say – we have three son’s that were born of her body, and, just recently, two of three teen brothers came to live with us as our foster sons. The third will be coming in a month or so. Sarah calls these three sons sons that were born of her heart.

I had always heard of “rites of passage” events and rituals that happened in other countries, but I had never really thought of having a special “manhood” event for my children until a couple of years ago when I read about one event that a family had for their son. Still, there were no details on how to really put one together so I struggled with how I would put together such an event for my, at that time, three boys. Having such an event came to my mind again while we were making preparations to open our home to these awesome brothers who have now become three more sons but I still had no idea how to put one together . . . until, that is, I found out that I was going to review Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide from Home School Adventure Co.

This small downloadable ebook is wonderful and has given me a pattern as to how to lead manhood event with my sons. It was actually written by a mother who wanted to have such an event for her son, yet knew that she couldn’t really participate since it was an event for other men to advise her child. So, she developed a method where she could be “unobtrusively involved” as she calls it in the book.


Celebrating Manhood a Rite of Passage Guide

It is really quite simple. I will try to give you the basic concept without giving too many details because, after all, we are encouraging you to by the book and not to say so much that you can take what I wrote in this review and use it to plan your own event. Basically, several men are invited to the special event. One or two very easy activities are prepared to break the ice and get the evening started. Each man gives a blessing to the boy. They eat a meal together. Then there is a question and answer time with questions already prepared for the men to answer about their lives and advice that they would give to the special boy who is just beginning his journey into manhood.

I hate that my description is so vague, but, as I said, I don’t want you all to be able to take away an outline as to how to do it yourself. Really, even if you could figure it out yourself, I would encourage you to buy Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide because it is much more than a book that tells you how to do it, it includes everything you need to plan the special event. From a template for the invitations, to ideas about activities, to guidelines for the special party, to special made question cards with the awesome questions already printed on them that are ready to be printed out from your computer. Everything is there for you to use.

I am so looking forward to using this guide to plan Celebrating Manhood events for all of my boys. I think that it will be special for my biological sons because it will allow men other than me to give them advice. I think it will be particularly special for my foster sons because of the very difficult life that they have had to live. They need to hear some advice from some Godly men – some that they know well and others that they don’t. I know that these events are going to be fun and very special for each of the boys.

To find out more about Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this and other items from Home School Adventure Co. and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Below you will also find the social media links for this great company.

Twitter:  @HomeSchoolAdven


Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eclectic Foundations! We’ve Finally Found Something that Works! A Homeschool Review Crew Review.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }
Most of you all know about our struggles with teaching our youngest son, Jacob, to read. Several things have helped, but nothing has really done the trick. Nothing has seemed to really motivates him to learn – or for that matter me to teach him better reading skills. He has always had the basics down. He knows his letter sounds. It’s just a matter of teaching him to blend those sounds together. Basically just practice, practice, practice. Finding a curriculum that is easy to teach (motivates me), fun to use (motivates him), and provides the practice has been difficult. Until, that is, Eclectic Foundations and their Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B program entered our home! It is easy, fun, and provides the practice he needs plus more!
I love the fact that it is easy to use! There is almost no preparation at all and it doesn’t take long to teach. In fact, every lesson in the Teacher’s Guide is just one page. It tells you exactly what to use, exactly what to say, exactly what to focus on! It is extremely easy which with my busy lifestyle is very much needed!
Each lesson has five areas that are taught:
McGuffey’s Reader – Yes, we use the old, tried and true McGuffey’s Reader. We were blessed to receive a copy of McGuffey’s First Reader with the material that was sent to us. If you are not familiar with the McGuffey’s Readers, let me tell you that they are advanced. Just because it says First Reader does not mean it is the typical first grade reading book. At the beginning it may be easy, but at the end you are reading words beyond what a typical first grader would read.
At the top of each lesson there is a picture. Underneath there are practice words and a short story. Jacob reads the practice words that are introduced and then the story. Then I ask some questions about the story and the picture. I say “picture” because some of the questions are about the picture itself to help him use his imagination and think about what might happen next. It all takes a very short time and is more fun than a chore.
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }
Phonics – We were also sent a an Eclectic Foundations Language Arts B Student Workbook. It is equally easy to use and has several sections but first I’ll talk about the phonics section.
At the top of the page there is a list of words that are similar – such as silent e words. The student is to read the 10 to 12 or so words and continue to review the words he has trouble with until he can read them fluently. We were also provided with a laminated Phonics Practice Sheet Level B book with laminated reusable pages where the student is to print the words as he says them. I love this tactile method that is used to help them concrete the learning of the words.
Handwriting/Copy work – Yep, I said “handwriting”, and I am not talking about printing either, I am actually talking about cursive writing! They start off very simply with a letter a day and then work on connecting letters and copy work. I love that they are teaching cursive writing at an early age but must say that I have not tried this with Jacob yet. He also has small motor problems and I am not quite sure he is ready for this yet. I may try soon, though, because it is said that the smoothness of cursive writing is actually better for kids who have small motor problems.
Poetry – I also like the fact that kids are learning good poetry in this curriculum! And we aren’t just talking about simple little made up poems. Jacob is learning poetry written by Robert Lewis Stevenson, George McDonald and more. Each poem is in the student workbook. We’ll read the poem, and talk about the way a poem is put together and about the poem itself. For example, during the first few lessons Jacob was asked to circle the rhyming words of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “A Good Play” poem. We then discussed each stanza.
Grammar – From the very first lesson the student is learning grammar. Often we just discuss grammar using the questions and examples provided in the teacher text, sometimes there is an exercise in the student workbook to be done, and other times we use the provided McGuffey Word Cards to discuss parts of speech. Again, I love the mix of tactile (in some lessons the student is to color the word cards red for a noun, green for verb, etc.), oral (often the student has to orally answer grammar questions) and auditory (many times the teacher describes and explains grammar concepts).
That is it! It may seem like a lot, but really it doesn’t take long at all and it goes by quickly. We are both loving it. I think we finally found what is really going to work for us! It’s simple for the teacher, fun for the student, and provides the practice needed.
To find out more about Eclectic Foundations and Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B, just click on any one of the highlighted links. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed other levels of this program and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Eclectic Foundations can also be found on Facebook at Happy Homeschooling!
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Smoky Mountains–Here We Come! A Homeschool Review Crew Review.



Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series Reviews}

When I was growing up I lived in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Then, for 19 years I lived in Florida and loved it. About 19 years ago, however, we moved to Tennessee and I found myself back in the mountains. I do love the mountains and, one of our favorite places to go as a family is to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We have so, so many great memories from our trips their over the years. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to go back for the past couple of years. When I found out that we were going to be able to review Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! from the By the Way Book Series I was really excited. I was hoping that this would be a great “reintroduction” to the park for us and I was not disappointed. It has turned out to be that and much, much, more!

You might think that the By the Way Book Series is all about travel and the interesting things that you would see when you went to see the exciting places and states that are featured in these books. However, as I mentioned above, they are much more than that. Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! Did talk about the exciting places that are featured in the national park, but it also was filled with history, nature, science, all while giving the readers (and listeners) a Christian World View.

And, the story is so interesting! Lexi and her brother Alex have been dropped off to stay with their Uncle Ted for a few days. Uncle Ted is a park ranger for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Boy what a three days it ended up being! Now, you may think that, based on the story line and great illustrations, this book would be geared toward young children. Actually, though, it is recommended for the whole family and I really learned a lot! Through their adventure of learning about such great areas of the park as Cataloochee, Abram’s Falls, Cades Cove and Cherokee, I learned the history of the Indians that used to live in the area; I learned about the Civil War; I found out fascinating things about the Appalachian people that lived their; and, of course, I learned the history of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park as well. And those are just a few of the historic things that you will find in this little short 48 page book!

Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series Reviews}

But that’s not all! The nature studies are fascinating. The author of the series, Joy Budensiek, not only tells you about the great God made things that you will find in the area, but she weaves interesting facts about them as well. We learned about Salamanders (did you know that the Smoky Mountains have more species of salamanders than any other place in the world), we found out about fireflies, we discovered interesting facts about the different types of trees that live in the park, and, of course, the bears, deer and elk!

But that still isn’t all! There are other tidbits thrown in like learning about geocaching and the dulcimer (one of my favorite instruments ~ can you convince Sarah to get me one?).  My favorite part would have to be that through all of this God, a Christian worldview and faith are intertwined. Often it is without you even really realizing it.

I loved the verses that are very timely and appropriately put that point the reader and listener to God. My kids loved the fascinating “Did You Know” sections. We all loved the great things that we never knew about some of the places that we have seen over and over again and love very much. This book was excellent.

As you can see we loved Smoky Mountains ~ Here We Come! We can’t wait to try some of the other books in the By the Way Book Series. We’re thinking about the Pennsylvania one next. Or maybe the one about Colorado since we’ve always wanted to go out west. Oh! And the Florida one looks interesting since I lived there for all of those year. Ugh! I digress! Anyway, click on any one of the highlighted links above to learn more about all of the fantastic and educational books in this series (with more to come)! Many of the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed different books from this series and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. You can also check out the By the Way Book Series on Facebook by clicking here. Happy Homeschooling!


Nature Books With A Biblical Worldview {By the Way Book Series Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, February 24, 2017

Shhh . . . Don't say anything . . . But . . .

Our family is about to get bigger!

Yep! That's what I said!

More details are coming later this week.

That's one of the reasons I have been so slow in writing to you all! I can't wait to let you in on all of the details!

Friday, February 17, 2017

I’m Writing Music!

Not really, but kind of.

David    Skiler

You see, I have made up a song for each one of my kids that I sang to them when they were little and even sometimes now. I even wrote a song for a little guy that didn’t have a father figure in his life for his first few years of life so I “adopted” him (even now that he has a step father he still calls me “Daddy Tim”).

Well, with three more boys about to converge on our household decided it was time to get busy and begin writing songs for them. Thankfully they aren’t all three coming at once, but will come at intervals as soon as they are finished with the programs in the boy’s homes where they are staying. We do pray to get the first next week so get ready for some exciting announcements.

PS. I won’t reveal the songs yet. The three precious boys who they are written for get to hear them first.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I’m in Print!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - 2014 Annual Print Book

Most of you know that I review homeschool products for The Homeschool Review Crew. Last summer I was given the opportunity to review a great product, however, it wasn’t for The Homeschool Review Crew, but it was for it’s parent company’s magazine named The Old Schoolhouse! My review was for a fantastic Bible study for boys and their dads called Manhood Journey. Please check it out! It’s a full page and, since I know that you all will want to check out my review right away I’ll just go ahead and tell you it’s on page 83!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine can be found in many of the major supermarkets and stores like Krogers, Food City, Walgreens and more. Although it is mainly about homeschooling, it has a lot of interesting articles that traditional school parents would find helpful as well. If you are like I was when John Allen went to public school, I wanted to help him all I could at home as well so I did a lot of extra things with him. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine covers those types of things and more.

If you can’t find the magazine in your local store, or if you would rather buy it online, just click here and it will take you to The Old Schoolhouse website. They have a lot of great things on their website as well so even if you bought your edition of this year’s print magazine (to read my review of course), click on through to the website and check out what they have.

Let me know what you think of the review by leaving a comment below!