Monday, April 29, 2013

Home School in the Woods Composer Study (Schoolhouse Review)

 photo HSitW-NewLOGO-website_zps0d8de564.gif

Composers….one of those topics that I’ve always wanted to have Emily study, but just never found the time to fit it in!  I recently remedied that by embarking on a study of composers from the Middle Ages to modern times with the help of  Home School in the Woods’ Hands-On Activity Pak on Composers.


This lap-book study includes 6 different projects covering 42 composers, the orchestra, and musical terminology. Some of the activities included making a timeline of composers, a lift-the-flap keyboard to learn musical terms, such as sonata,  minuet, pitch, orchestration, measure, etc., and making a small booklet about each composer.



We studied a new composer every day or two, making this a quick survey of composers, but after over a month of using the Activity Pak, we still are barely into the Romantic Period and have many more to composers to cover! 

In order to learn about each composer and the different period of music, we had to do some outside research. The Composers Activity Pak includes matching cards with the composers’ pictures and very basic information, but we didn’t find that to be enough. We found several excellent children’s books about composers at the library. We also used the internet and other resources we had at hand.

One feature that we especially liked were the 29 included recordings (over 90 minutes of music). This made it so easy to read about a composer, then pick a selection from that composer to listen to while Emily wrote or drew about her impressions of the music on the corresponding Music Appreciation page.



My Thoughts:

  • I love the artwork in this Activity Pak. As with all Home School in the Woods products, the graphics are beautiful.
  • The resulting lap book is attractive and covers a variety of music topics, from composers to music terminology to instruments in an orchestra.
  • I loved the included music selections for many of the composers.
  • I wish there had been more actual teaching information included about the composers and periods of music so that this would have been more of a self-contained study.
  • Every single page was in a separate PDF file. This made it very tedious and time-consuming to print. If these pages had been combined into one or even several files, printing would have been so much easier!
  • Overall, this was a fun study that complemented our current world history studies.

The Hands-On History Composers Activity-Pak sells for:

  • $18.95 (download)
  • $19.95 (cd)

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other products from Home School in the Woods. Click on the banner below to read more!



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teach Your Child the /f/ and /v/ Sounds



Does your child have trouble pronouncing the /f/ or /v/ sound? The most common error for /f/ is substituting the /p/ sound for it (“pish” for “fish”).  A common error for /v/ is a /b/ substitution (“ban” for “van”).  /F/ should be mastered by the time a child is four years old. /V/ develops a little later and is often not mastered until age 5 or 6. Because they are very similar sounds, though, they are often taught together.

Here is an excerpt from my book, Super Star Speech, to use with your child.

F and V

F and V are produced by touching the upper teeth to the lower lip. F is produced by passing the breath between the teeth and lip. V is produced in the same way with the voice “turned on.”


1. /f/ and /v/ are easy sounds to teach because the placement is so easy to see. Instruct the child to “bite his lip and blow” to produce /f/. After the /f/ is produced, instruct him to “turn his voice on” to produce the /v/. Use of a mirror may be helpful.

2. Work on auditory discrimination between the error sound and /f/ and /v/. (“Is this a pig or a fig?”)

3. If /v/ is not being vocalized, thereby sounding like an /f/, have the child feel the vibrations on his neck while saying the sound. Produce /v/ with a vowel (“Va, Vee, uh-V”).

I have some practice pages for the F and V sounds (and other speech tips) posted on my Super Star Speech Resource Page.

I’m Blogging Through the Alphabet with Ben and Me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Joni and Ken (Review)

Movies, television, and many novels glorify young love and romance. But I’ve always thought that where love and romance are truly exemplified is is the lives of couples who have been married for 30 or 40 or 50 years and who obviously love each other deeply—not just the sometimes passing attraction of new relationships, but the time-tested devotion and commitment to each other. Or in marriages where couples have clung together through serious trials and health problems, refusing to give up.

The story of Joni and Ken is one such story. This very open and honest book tells the story of Ken Tada and Joni Eareckson Tada, from their first meeting to the daily routines, conflicts and trials they have lived through. They are very honest about the times in their relationship when they were living parallel lives and about the resentment Ken often felt about Joni being the center of worldwide attention and about the utter fatigue and depression caused by dealing with her quadriplegia, then her fight with breast cancer, topped off with pneumonia.

Despite these trials, that most of us would consider insurmountable, shines the beautiful faith and commitment of both Joni and Ken, that didn’t let them ever give up, and that eventually blossomed into an even richer and fuller love for God and for each other than they could have imagined. They say, “The more devastating the trials, the more He has wrapped us both around Himself. God has used depression and chronic pain and cancer—far more than even quadriplegia—to bind us tighter than ever. To each other. To Him.”

I found it hard to put down this amazing book. It increased my admiration for these servants of God. It also gave me a wonderful view of marriage as God ordained it—not a focus on what we can get, but a focus on what we can give. It also motivated me to persevere through hard times and to trust that God can work in the worst of situations to draw us closer to Him.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review through the Booksneeze Blogger Review program.

I review for BookSneeze®

Monday, April 22, 2013

Free Online Math Program

Homeschool Buyer’s Coop is offering a free summer subscription to the YourTeacher math program. We used this last summer and thought it was very good and are excited to see it offered again. (If you’re not already a member of Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, it’s free to join.)


Friday, April 19, 2013

E is for Emily

Since “E is for Emily,” here are a few pictures of my “baby” through the years.

One of the early pictures of Emily in Guatemala before we met her (2 months old).


Katie and Emily on our trip to bring Emily home (3 1/2 months old)!


3 Years Old


5 years old


8 Years old


12 Years Old



I’m Blogging Through the Alphabet with “Ben and Me.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Progeny Press Eagle of the Ninth (Schoolhouse Review)

imageMy children have used several Progeny Press literature guides over the years and have loved them, so I was very happy for the opportunity to do a review of the guide for Eagle of the Ninth.
Progeny Press offers literature study guides for over 100 books, from kindergarten to high school levels. The guides include questions of several types—multiple choice, fill-in-the blank, and essay that cover reading comprehension, vocabulary, literary techniques, and critical thinking/analysis. Pre-reading and post-reading assignments are also included. These suggest research or hands-on activities to help the student learn more about the time period or topics in the book.
Since we just finished studying ancient Rome a few months ago, we didn’t do the pre-reading activities for the Eagle of the Ninth guide, which included reading about ancient Rome, Roman legions and officers, and studying the geography and tribes of  Britain. When we finish, we will choose one or more of the “essays and projects” at the end, which include:
  • writing a eulogy for Marcus’ father
  • writing a letter to the editor appealing to the (Roman) Senate
  • analyzing parallel characters in the story
  • analyzing Sutcliff’s use of the rose motif
The suggested time frame for each study guide is 8-12 weeks, although we moved faster through ours. Emily enjoyed the activities and was happy to do about 3 pages a day instead of the recommended 1 page.
Progeny Press guides are available in either print or PDF formats. I generally prefer print formats, but the  interactive  PDF format is wonderful. Emily loves being able to just type her answers into the PDF (and I love not having to print the entire guide myself). She did have the problem a couple of times with not saving her work and losing it, though! (A frustrating, but valuable lesson for her!)
What I Liked:
  • The vocabulary activities varied from chapter to chapter, and included multiple choice, use in sentences, and synonyms and antonyms.
  • The student is encouraged to look for foreshadowing and symbolism.
  • Good critical thinking and application questions  in addition to simple reading comprehension questions.
  • A thorough answer key that made checking work easy and didn’t require that the parent read the book.
  • Quality questions and activities that are not “fluff” or a waste of time.
I recommend Progeny Press Literature Guides both as a way to “go deeper” into a book and as a full language arts program that covers vocabulary, literature analysis, and writing.
The Eagle of the Ninth study guide, suitable for grades 7-9,  is available as a
  • Printed booklet ($18.99)
  • CD ($16.99)
  • Instant download ($16.99)
I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 12, 2013



Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1 Pet 1:3

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:4-5


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Giveaways from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

I have been privileged to be able to review so many wonderful products as a reviewer for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I often refer people to the Schoolhouse Review Blog as a place to find out about hundreds of homeschooling products and to read what real homeschoolers thought about each of them.

During the past week, a series of posts, titled the “Bloggy Convention” has summarized some of the Crew’s favorite products of 2012. In conjunction with that, there are several great giveaways of some of the best products of 2012. I wish I were eligible to enter – I’d really like the Lightning Literature set!

 The giveaways end on April 12, so enter right away!



Monday, April 8, 2013

Supercharged Science (Schoolhouse Review)

 photo science_zps3636642f.jpg
We really like using hands-on science and I know how important that is for kids to develop an enthusiasm for the subject. But….it’s so much easier to just read the science book instead of scrambling for equipment, making a mess, and taking a big chunk of time out of the school day to get those experiments done!
When I first saw Supercharged Science, it was a bit overwhelming! But the program did look like a lot of fun, so I asked to review it and try it out in our home.
The e-Science program ($37 a month) includes videos of Aurora Lipper (the author/teacher) teaching science lessons, access to hundreds of science activities, experiments, and projects, homework exercises and quizzes, and life tele-classes. Within a unit, these activities can be done in any order, according to the student’s interest. Aurora Lipper suggests that letting kids dig into the fun, hands-on parts first ignites an interest that will make the kids want to find out how it all works by reading more.
If you are already using another science program and want to use Supercharged Science as a supplement, the website provides guides for over 20 different curricula that match Supercharged experiments with the appropriate chapters and lessons in other curricula.
Supercharged Science  can be used for grades K-12. There are extra “textbook readings” and more difficult experiments for high school students that beef it up.
The goal of Supercharged Science is to ignite a passion for science in kids by providing fun and exciting activities and experiments that really work. Each of the experiments is demonstrated in a video—great for kids who don’t read well yet, and helpful for those experiments that you might not be able to do for some reason.
There are currently 19 study units  (and more to come) in the e-science program that cover mechanics, motion, matter, energy, sound, electricity, light, magnetism, life science and more. Each unit has several weeks worth of material. Although we had access to all 19 units, typically a new subscriber has access to the first 7 units, with 2 more being added each month.P1020944
Emily looked over the units and chose the Chemistry unit to begin with. I think being able to choose her area of interest made her even more excited to begin.
Aurora states: “The reason we do experiments in chemistry is to hone your observations skills.”  This was the focus of many of the chemistry experiments. Emily observed the chemicals, mixed them according to instruction, then observed the changes in color, smell, and heat. She learned about chemical reactions and how to identify them. We talked about the chemical symbols of each of the chemicals and how atoms would rearrange themselves into different chemicals during a reaction, but didn’t actually get into balancing chemical equations in this unit.
Emily loved this unit because of the really cool experiments. Many of them used common household supplies like baking soda, vinegar, and borax. Others were easily obtained or we found in an old chemistry kit I had on hand. We did have to skip a few experiments because we didn’t have the chemicals, but this is really a “pick and choose” kind of curriculum anyway—many of the experiments taught the same concepts, so they are not all mandatory.
Discovering that Carbon Dioxide is Denser Than Air
Slime is a polymer!
Observing Reactions
Next, we moved on to Unit 1, Mechanics. This was actually a better place to start because, although the units can be done in any order, the videos in the first unit did some explaining to the student about how the program worked.  We fond that many of the experiments in this unit were very quick to do and are followed by a short explanation of the “why” behind the experiment. Here, Emily learned about (or reviewed) gravity, the earth’s magnetic field, force, and friction.  I really liked how quick and easy these projects were to do. (Simple experiment, simple explanation, but good solid learning!)
As we worked through the  Chemistry unit, I helped Emily, made sure she did the reading, and discussed concepts with her. For the  Mechanics unit, however, I wanted to see just how she would do on her own, so I pretty much turned her loose (and watched from a distance.) As a middle schooler, she was able to be quite independent, although I did have to remind her that there was some reading to do, since she gravitated to the videos and experiments first. When she finished each section, I printed out the exercises page for her to fill out, so that we could both see what she had learned.
We picked some experiments from Unit 3, Motion to use with our home school group science club.  The kids watched a video that taught Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion,  then raced soup cans (cream of mushroom and broth) down a slope, figured the velocity of several objects dropped from a height, and knocked a pie plate out from under a ball, which then fell directly down into the cup below.  I was pleased with the good thinking the kids did as they thought up variations to the experiments. (“What if we used a heavier/lighter ball?'” “What if we used an empty can?”)
Conclusion: In case you haven’t already figured out what I think…. Supercharged Science is a great way to get kids enthused about science! Interested? Just visit the site to get 30 free experiments!
I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

C is for Chemistry

(Blogging through the alphabet with Ben and Me!)

As part of Emily’s Chemistry unit in Supercharged Science, she learned about polymers and made slime! Making slime is a really fun and easy project.




  1. Combine 1/2 cup of water with 1 tsp. of borax. Stir.
  2. In another cup, mix equal parts white glue and water.
  3. Add some of the glue mixture to the borax mixture. Stir, then pull out the glob of slime.
  4. Add more glue mixture and repeat.

Add food coloring to the water to make colored slime or cut apart a highlighter pen and soak the felt pad in water to make glow-in-the-dark slime!