Monday, September 30, 2013

Super Star Game Giveaway!


Super Star Games

Photobucket Are you looking for fun ways to reinforce what you are studying in your home school? Super Star Games offers a variety of inexpensive, downloadable,  print-and-use games that teach and review history, science, Bible, grammar, and Spanish. Most games sell for $3.50 each, but are even less when purchased in a bundle.

Giveaway: The winner will receive the entire line of Super Star Games—a $58 value!

Special Offer: Through these links only, buy

Super Star Games include these titles:

explorers game

Learn about 24 world explorers and their contributions to American and world history. The 72 game cards can be used to play two different games-- a matching game and a time line game. Have fun while reinforcing your history and geography studies! Explorers of the World is appropriate for 3rd to 8th grades.




American Revolution game

Reinforce your study of the American Revolutionary War with the Road to Revolution board game. Includes 48 multiple choice questions cards and game board. Players try to be first to the finish line while answering questions about famous people, events, and causes of the Revolutionary war. Designed for grades 3-8.





inventors game

The Inventors Game will teach your child about 24 famous inventors. Instructions are included for two different games, with variations for difficulty. Children have fun matching inventors to their inventions or playing a timeline game using the dates of different inventions.





covering the continents game

The object of Covering the Continents is to "settle" more continents than any other player. Covering the Continents includes a game board/ map and game cards that ask questions about each of the seven continents. Players try to be the first to answer three questions about a continent to "settle" it. Fun for ages 6 to 10.





Players of the Exploring Egypt Game will race to be first to the top of the pyramid by answering the most questions about ancient Egypt. Game question topics cover geography, politics, daily life, and religion of ancient Egypt. The game can be adjusted to accommodate players of different ages and abilities. Designed for 3rd to 8th grade students.




colony quest game

Colony Quest is a game that will teach children about the thirteen American Colonies and map skills. Children will answer questions about the colonies wihile trying to "settle"  more colonies than the other players. A fun way to reinforce your American History curriculum! Ideal for 3rd through 5th graders.





grammar game

Review parts of speech (common noun, proper noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, and adverb) with Silly Snail: Parts of Speech Game. 3rd to 6th grades.







planets game

Planets, Moon and Stars is a game for children in third grade and up. Players answer trivia questions about space while trying to be the first to collect all the planets in the solar system.






plants game

Climb the Vine: All About Plants is a question and answer board game that will reinforce your science curriculum. Players answer multiple choice questions about plant types, pollination, photosynthesis, trees, and more while racing to the finish line. Designed as a file folder game for grades 3-6.





insect game

Play The Insect Game to learn all about insects or to reinforce your current study of insects. Players  answer questions to earn insect parts, attempting to be the first player to build a complete insect. This game is designed for 2nd to 6th grades.





animals game


All About Animals is an animal classification game for grades K-5. Players use picture cards or clue cards to categorize animals into the five major groups.






Super Star Spanish vocabulary games


Super Star Spanish teaches over 200 Spanish vocabulary words using bingo, matching, and board games. A great way to introduce grades K-8 to Spanish vocabulary or to supplement an existing Spanish curriculum.





Old Testament Bible Match Answer Old Testament Bible fact questions and repeat Bible verses on "wild cards" as you collect cards in the categories of Pentateuch, History, Wisdom, and Prophets. Be the first to fill your game board to win! This game includes game boards and over 150 question cards. Designed for 3rd grade and up.

and  New Testament Bible Match





Roaming Through Ancient Rome
Reinforce your study of ancient history in a fun way! Players of the Roaming Through Ancient Rome Game will compete in this board game by answering questions about the geography, politics, and daily life of ancient Rome The game can be adjusted to accommodate players of different ages and abilities. Designed for 3rd to 8th grade students.



Galloping Through Ancient Greece
Reinforce your study of ancient history in a fun way! Players of Galloping Through Ancient Greece will compete in this board game by answering questions about the geography, politics, and daily life of ancient Greece. A few question cards about Greek gods are included, but these can be easily excluded if desired. Designed for 3rd to 8th grade students.



Giveaway ends on Oct. 14

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Videotext Interactive Algebra (Schoolhouse Review)

 photo logo_zps6535dbd7.jpg 
 VideoText Interactive is an upper-level math program that uses “interactive, video-based strategies” to teach Algebra and Geometry. Until recently, VideoText Interactive included a set of DVD’s and a variety of books (Student WorkText, Solution Manual, Quiz and Test Book and Course Notes.  This version is still available, but there is now also an online version that is significantly less expensive. The online version may be used for two students and is accessible for three years per student.

 photo Algebra_productimage_zps6b262264.jpg

Algebra: A Complete Course, includes the content of pre-algebra, algebra, and algebra 2. For older or more motivated students, the course may be completed in one year. Taking 2 or even 3 years for the course is also a reasonable pace, especially for younger students. The author’s rationale for including all algebra in one course is that, typically, Algebra 2 includes a significant amount of review of Algebra 1 concepts, then each concept is studied more deeply. This course covers each concept fully to the mastery level, eliminating the time typically lost by taking a year off to study geometry, then re-learning algebra again.


Also available is Geometry: A Complete Course, which covers geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus.

The steps in the VideoText process are:

  1. To “experience and own the concept” by watching and interacting with the teaching video.
  2. To verbalize the concept by teaching it using the Course Notes.
  3. To demonstrate understanding by working problems from the WorkText.
  4. To assess mastery of the concept through Quizzes and Tests.

The goal of Videotext that is quite different from most other programs, including those using video instruction, is that the most significant learning and mastery comes during the video segment, which includes computer animations and graphics to explain the concepts. Although most daily videos are 5-10 minutes long, the lessons should take 10-20 minutes because the student is expected to pause the video to ask or answer questions. At first, the parent needs to be watching along with the student  to pause the video frequently, to ask questions, and discuss each point. Eventually, the student should be able to do this independently, while still interacting with the video lesson.

The written assignment that follows should be for additional practice of the concept that the student has already learned while interacting with the video. It is suggested that only the odd problems be completed, leaving the even problems for additional practice if needed. The student is expected to correct any errors made using the solution guide and to be able to explain his or her mistakes.

Generally, a lesson is completed one day, and a quiz on the same concept follows the next day in order to ensure that the concepts have been actually mastered and are in long-term memory. Depending on the speed the student takes through the course, he may then continue on to the next lesson on the second day or may complete it on a third day.

Thoughts and Observations:

  • VideoText Algebra has a scope and sequence that differs from traditional algebra courses. Because of this, 5 of the 6 modules must be completed in order to cover all the concepts in a traditional Algebra course. Because of this, even though it covers 2 years worth of algebra, a student can’t be half-way through and drop out to move to another curriculum for geometry or algebra 2 (or to enter public school with an algebra credit).
  • Module A (Unit 1) covers pre-algebra skills. A lot of skills are covered in this unit. It was pretty much a review for Emily except for some vocabulary, so that was perfect for us. If your student isn’t already confident in concepts such as fractions, decimals, and integers or needs a lot of practice to master new concepts, you may want to do a pre-algebra course first.
  • I was concerned about the “everything on the computer” concept, but it has worked out pretty well. If we were using the original program, we could have watched the DVD on the TV instead of the computer, which would have been preferable. Then we would have done a lot of switching between the different books each day—worktext, solutions manual, and course notes. With the online version, when we finished one component, we just had to click on the next link, which would take us to the next step. All components except the videos are downloadable in PDF form so they could be printed and bound if desired. I printed the quizzes, but Emily was happy enough to copy the daily worktext problems in her notebook from the computer screen.
  • I did find it a bit awkward to switch between student log-in and teacher log-in to  access the quizzes each day. I solved this problem by printing the quizzes ahead of time from my account, then downloading the pdf files for the course book and solution guide onto my computer. Then I could easily pull up the pages I needed to check work while Emily was still logged in to her account.
  • We found the video volume much too soft. It was barely loud enough on maximum volume. This was our experience on two different computers.
  • If you, the parent, are not comfortable teaching higher math, VideoText Online is a great option. The video lessons are not long enough to be tedious. They offer clear explanations, and topics are covered in a comprehensive, sequential manner. And you can watch along with the video and learn too!
  • Emily really enjoyed the video instruction. She said that the concepts were explained exceptionally well and that she learned new ways of understanding and approaching concepts that she had previously learned.
  • The parent will still need to check work, although the student is supposed to study the solutions and figure out how to fix his mistakes independently.
  • This is probably not a great option if your student has already completed another algebra 1 course, since he would need to go back to the beginning of the course to pick up the algebra 2 concepts that are in each unit. Alternatively, if your student has completed algebra 1, but is still weak, quickly working through the early modules might be a good review.

Algebra: A Complete Course (online version), including licensing for 2 students costs $299 (a $230 savings over the classic version). It is age-appropriate for any student who is ready to start pre-algebra, typically 7th or 8th grades and up. It’s a great option for independent learning or for parents who are not comfortable teaching upper level math without assistance.


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Flip Flop Spanish (Schoolhouse Review)

See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish, published by Flip Flop Learning, is a two-year curriculum for teaching Spanish. This versatile program can be used by ages 3 and up. The usage is similar for all ages, but older children are required to do some additional writing activities.
The set ($99.95) includes:
  • 3 Sets of Flashcards
  • Whiteboard paddle and marker
  • 4 Audio CD’s
  • Manual (3-hole punched and binder-ready)
  • Plastic sleeves for CD’s and cards.
See It and Say It was very easy to just pick up and use with minimal preparation. In fact, when we first opened the box, we found instructions on “What to do with all this stuff?” and “Easy steps to get started.” First, we looked in the manual to find out which cards were used for the lesson and picked those cards from the deck. Then we played the tracks for Lesson One on the CD. The author/teacher, Sra. Gose, instructed the student to point to specific cards, to name them, and to make sentences. With the use of  “Me gusta” (I like) and “Necesito” (I need) cards, students are making and speaking sentences from the very first lesson!
The recommended procedure is for the student to do the same lesson two days a week with the CD, then a third day with the parent reading the script from the manual. Older students may do two lessons a week. Since Emily has some Spanish experience already, we did two lessons at each session and only repeated the lessons one more time instead of two times.
What did we think? This is a fun program. It’s hands-on, since the student is manipulating and pointing to the cards. Emily loved the speed drills (especially when I competed with her.) The student does a lot of repeating with the CD, then is speaking actual sentences that he or she “builds” with the cards. Some additional activities are also included that use real objects or hiding the cards around the room and playing a variation of “Hot/Cold.”
Verb conjugation and other grammar concepts are not highly emphasized, but are introduced later in the program, allowing older children to study and learn the verb forms, but not pressuring young children who are not ready for formal language instruction.
This is a perfect program for preschoolers and elementary aged students. It’s so easy to use; lessons are short; and it is active. At the same time, it’s still fun and useful for older students. Emily (13) will finish the “2-year” program in less than a year, while young students will enjoy the more relaxed 2-year pace for completion. I don’t think it is meaty enough, or grammar-intensive enough to count for a year of high school Spanish, but would make an excellent supplement to another program. I think that See and Say Spanish, unlike some book or computer-based programs, will be very successful at helping students comfortable with speaking and using Spanish, rather than merely being able to read or understand the language.

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flexible Homeschooling

I’m all about schedules. I like to make them. I like to keep (and enforce) them! I think that having a plan helps me as a homeschool mom to make sure that school gets done and that what we are spending our days doing is actually helping us accomplish long-term goals for our family.

But sometimes life just gets in the way. And, frankly, some kids do better with more flexibility. For the past two weeks, Emily has been spending a lot of time helping out a neighbor with ALS whose wife is out of town. It’s really thrown our daily routine out the window as she comes and goes. But I think the experience is good for her and that, at times, taking the time to help someone else is just as important as book work.

At other times, our ordinary routines have been disrupted by vacations, running errands, illness, and so on. Here are some ways we’ve thought of to fit school into these “disrupted” days.

  • Taking written work along in the car and using those minutes (or hours) that might be otherwise wasted.
  • Listening to CD’s in the car—grammar, geography, or Bible memory songs; history tapes (We love Diana Waring’s “What in the World’s Going On Here?” series.); or story tapes that reinforce our current history studies.
  • Field trips—We like to fit these in when we’re out of town. Most of our vacations have an educational component, allowing us to count at least a couple of days as school time.
  • Use disruptions as lessons. A trip to the emergency room can count as a field trip! Use a skinned knee to teach about bacteria. Talk about the full moon or the leaves changing color, or whatever you encounter throughout your day.
  • We like to get started on our school year during the summer. That way, we’re leaving room for disruptions (planned or unplanned) during the regular school year and can take a few days off without feeling like we’re getting behind.
  • I like to get the bulk of school done in the morning, with the afternoons left for independent reading time and completion of assignments that didn’t get finished before lunch. However, when our schedule is just crazy (or my child pitches a fit and doesn’t get work done on time), I’ll even have her do work in the evenings to catch up.
  • Especially for younger children, daily life activities can be great school activities as well—from sorting laundry to measuring ingredients for a batch of cookies.  Older children can learn home-ec skills by learning how to repair leaky faucets, change oil, or prepare dinner. School doesn’t always have to involve books and paper!

This post is part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew “Sneaking School into the Busy Days” blog cruise, which will go live on Sept. 24.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Improving Vocabulary Skills


The following activities are a sampling from Language lessons-small_thumb[1]my book Language Lessons, which is packed with games and activities to enhance skills in listening, comprehending, and producing language.




Word Finding and Word Meanings

One of the very best ways to help your child increase his vocabulary is to read to him and to have him spend a lot of time reading (if he is able.) When you read to your child, stop occasionally to define and to talk about difficult words. Look for opportunities to discuss new words in the environment, especially when you visit new places.


Put several picture cards on the table. Describe one of the pictures and have your child guess the correct picture. (Many cards are included at the end of this book.)

Pick up a picture card and keep it hidden. Describe it with a single word. Allow the child to guess the picture. If he cannot, give a second one-word hint and continue until the mystery word is guessed. Then let the child have a turn thinking of clues while you guess.

Put a mystery object in a bag. Have the child reach inside without looking and feel the object. Ask him to describe the object using words such as smooth, flat, long, hard, soft, fuzzy, etc. Then have him guess what the object is. If he has trouble, give him suggestions, such as, "Does it feel rough or smooth?"

Show your child a picture of an item. Ask him to think of things the person, animal, or object can do. For example, a dog can bark, run, jump, sit, sleep, or eat.

Definitions: Ask your child to name each item. Accept any reasonable answer.

· something you write on

· something you pour on your cereal

· a frozen dessert

· something you drive

· something you ride on

· a place where you sleep

· something you sit on

· something that shines in the sky in the day

· something that shines in the sky at night

· something that children play with

· something that is furry with a long tail

· something used to cut paper

· a shape with three sides

· a shape with four sides

· something used to write on a chalkboard

· something that you stick on an envelope

· something you can spend at a store

· something good to drink that is brown

· something round that can float in the air

Verb phrases: Ask your child to complete the phrase. Accept any logical answer.

· ___________ the door

· ___________ your dinner

· ___________ your hands

· ___________ your hair

· ___________ the floor

· ___________ the phone

· ___________ the ball

· ___________ a bike

· ___________ a car

· ___________ your hands

· ___________ your shoes

Common phrases: Ask your child to complete the phrase. Accept any logical answer.

· salt and ­­­­­­­­_____________

· shoes and _____________

· up and _____________

· fingers and _____________

· cat and _____________

· car and _____________

· hamburger and _____________

· night and _____________

· peanut butter and _____________

· mother and _____________

· sister and _____________

· aunt and _____________

· cake and _____________

· hug and _____________

Ask your child to complete each sentence:

· My dad drove to the ______________.

· Fire is ______________.

·· I sleep in a ______________.

· When you are dirty, you take a ______________.

· Would you like a peanut-butter and jelly ______________.

· You wear your swim suit to the ______________.

· For dinner, we are having fried ______________.

· When it is cold, you wear a ______________.

· Cars, trucks, and busses are types of ______________.

· My dog sleeps in a ______________.

· Grandma likes to sit in her rocking ______________.

· We saw clowns, elephants, and tigers at the ______________.

· Milk comes from a ______________.

· A father and mother and children make a ______________.

· Cars can be parked in the ______________.

· To keep your hands cold in the snow, you wear ______________.

· A long handle with a brush on the end used to clean floors is a ______________.

· A popular instrument with six strings is a ______________.

· A thin plastic tube that you sip drinks through is a ______________.

· A large animal with leathery skin and a horn on its nose is a ______________.

Similes: Ask your child to complete each phrase:

· as small as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as big as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as tall as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as fierce as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as quiet as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as loud as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as dangerous as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as hot as ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as cold as ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as sour as ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as sweet as ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as dark as ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as pretty as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

· as ugly as a ­­­­­­­­­­_________.

Ask your child to list the items needed in each situation:

· to draw a picture (paper, pencil, crayons, etc.)

· to take a bath

· to brush teeth

· to make a sandwich

· to start the car

· to sew

· to take a picture

· to build a fire

· to feed your dog

· to cook scrambled eggs

· to build a doghouse

Ask your child to add some describing words to each noun.

· dog (ex.: big snarling dog)

· pie (ex.: oozy, sweet, blueberry pie)

· face

· mouse

· house

· plate

· pizza

Language Lessons and the series of Super Star Speech books, which focus on articulation disorders, are available at

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Task Cards


Last year, I was introduced to the “task card” concept when I did a review for Creek Edge Press. (Creek Edge Press offers task card sets on a large variety of subjects, from history to science to art.) Task cards are cards that list a variety of activities for the student to complete independently. The activities on any one card might include research, art, timeline activities, hands-on crafts or experiments.  Emily really enjoyed this way of having her work assigned. It allowed her to work mostly independently while giving her some choices about what she did each day. (She worked through the Ancient History set last year.)

This year, I decided to try making my own. We’re using the first edition of Diana Waring’s History Revealed series. These books include a large variety of assignments, including reports, creative writing, drawing political cartoons, maps, hands-on science, and even cooking. In the past, I’d pick and choose activities from the book for Emily, or ask her to look in the book and “pick one of the creative writing assignments” to do. It occurred to me that these assignments could easily be put onto task cards, allowing me to get the planning done ahead of time and allowing Emily to learn to take more responsibility for managing her time and assignments.


I spent some time during the summer typing various assignment choices for each unit and printing them onto card stock, with 4-6 tasks on each card. Several times a week, Emily works on task cards for 45 minutes to an hour. She works through one card a week and  is expected to do most of the activities, but not necessarily all of them. This gives her some choice as to what she does each day. So far, it’s been a bit hit!

Monday, September 9, 2013

PeopleKeys (Schoolhouse Review)

 photo peoplekeys-studentstrengthonlinereport_zps145a5728.jpg

Students learn in many different ways. Parents soon learn that a curriculum that works with one child may not be a great fit for another. It can be helpful for parents, teachers, and older students to learn more about each student’s individual strengths (and weaknesses) in order to be as successful as they can be in both schoolwork and in social interactions.

StudentKeys Online Student Strengths Report ($20), by PeopleKeys, is one tool for ages 13 to adult, that can help students (or adults) learn more about their learning and personality styles and those of others.

This is how the PeopleKeys website describes the StudentKeys Strengths Report:

The StudentKeys Student Strengths Report uses three unique assessments (DISC Personality Style, Perceptual Learning Style, Cognitive Thinking Style) to provide a simple, yet profound, tool to help students uncover their personal strengths, then apply that information to everyday communication and learning situations. The Student Strengths Report will help students recognize their distinctive personality strengths, learning styles and thinking preferences. 

StudentKeys is an innovative strength-based program designed to help identify, appreciate and capitalize on learning strengths. The Student Strengths Report will motivate and empower students to reach their full potential by identifying and enhancing personal motivation, communication, learning and thinking preferences.

    What you will get:
  • Introduction - why learning styles are important
  • Perceptual Style - how you absorb information
  • Learning Tips - based on your style
  • Cognitive Style - how you process information
  • How you Think - capitalizing on your strengths
  • Personality Style - strengths and limitations
  • Communication - improve and strengthen relationships
  • Action Plan - applying what you have learned

The Student Strength Report includes valuable "must-have" information for students, educators and parents. The information generated from our university validated assessments allows students to learn more, retain more, understand better, improve their grades and reach their full potential.

StudentKeys (and the other helpful assessment tools offered by People Keys) are available in both printed and online formats. We used the online format.

First, Emily sat down at the computer to take the “test.” The assessment asked her a variety of questions about her study preferences, preferred activities, how she related to others, and so on. This only took about 20-30 minutes, which surprised me. I had expected it to take much longer! I watched her take the test, but tried not to give any input, other than reminding her to read the questions carefully, as she seemed to be rushing through. I had to bite my tongue at points, because some of her answers were NOT what I would have expected from her. Because of this, I wasn’t sure the results would be very valid.

After she finished the test, we downloaded and printed out the results, which were a surprising 34 pages long! Actually only a few pages of the report were her personal results; the rest gave additional helpful information about her learning style and the other learning styles. There were 3 different aspects of personality/learning/ thinking that were covered.

Personality Styles: This section explained how people have different personality styles (drive, influencing, steadiness, and compliance) and how it is important to understand others’ styles in order to understand them and to relate to them better. Emily is an “I” style, which means that she is sociable, talkative, warm, trusting, and an encourager. On the negative side, she can be disorganized and inattentive to details, since she values relationship over achievement. (This definitely pegs her!)

Perceptual Learning Styles: Of the three styles—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic—Emily was labeled kinesthetic, although her auditory score was only one point behind. This section gave lots of tips that we will use for adjusting her work environment and educational activities to help her learn more efficiently. There were also 2 pages for “designing your work environment,” that are very helpful.

Cognitive Thinking Styles: This style describes the way that individuals process and assimilate the knowledge they learn. The categories are: Literal Thinkers, Intuitive Thinkers, Theoretical Thinkers, and Experiential Thinkers. Emily was classified as an Experiential Thinker, which means that she needs to experience something to learn it, that she wants to see a purpose for learning a new skill, and that she dislikes routine.

Since I tend to teach in the way I learn best, and often become frustrated when Emily doesn’t seem to remember what she has “learned,” I am going to be making some changes in our home school in order to incorporate what I’ve learned in this assessment. I have tried to adjust to my kids’ perceptual learning styles, but haven’t ever thought about the other areas, so this was new and helpful for me.

I liked that the results came with suggestion for changes to adapt for the different strengths and weaknesses. I did feel that the report could have been organized a bit better. Some of the information was quite repetitive from page to page and not as “to the point” as it could have been. Also, Emily’s results tended to be in the middle of the section instead of the first page. I would liked  to first see results, then descriptions of the styles, then suggestions for adapting environment and learning to the styles.

Overall, we found this to be quite enlightening and will referring back to the results through the year.


I recieived this product free in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Egg Drop Challenge

As one of Emily’s projects for her Moving Beyond the Page Technology unit, she was challenged to build a device that would protect an egg when dropped from 15 feet. She was given specific instructions as to which materials she was permitted to use—rubber bands, popsicle sticks, and cotton fabric.

First, she confidently swaddled her egg in layers of fabric, secured them with rubber bands and made the drop. Her lack of serious effort was rewarded with a smashed egg.


Next, Emily wrapped her egg in fabric, placed it in a plastic container, wrapped the plastic container in more fabric and placed everything into a paper bag secured with a rubber band. Success! The egg didn’t break. But….she didn’t follow directions and used “illegal” supplies. Back to the drawing board!



Third try! Now Emily got serious. She went to work with the popsicle sticks and glue gun to make a protective box. She wrapped up the egg, made a nest of fabric to cushion it, and made the drop again. However, she had left one side open to put the egg in, and the cushioned egg bounced out after it landed. Not a total break, but it did crack. She needed just one more drop with her egg more securely held in the box.


This was a fun learning process that encouraged creative thinking and problem solving. And it was so much fun that it didn’t seem like “school!”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Christian Guides to the Classics-Scarlet Letter (Review)

Hawthorne's <i>The Scarlet Letter</i>The new Christian Guides to the Classics, published by Crossway, are study guides for Classic literature. I received a copy of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to review.

The introductory pages describe:

  • The Nature and Function of Literature
  • Why the Classics Matter
  • How to Read a Story

These pages are a nice introduction to the study of any classic literature. The explanations of what exactly makes a book a classic, the value of quality literature, and what to think about as you read a story will be helpful for the reading and/or study of any novel.

Next follows:

  • The Scarlet Letter: The Book at a Glance—This two-page summary describes the story line, characters, cultural context, and common misconceptions about the book.
  • The Author and His Faith—This article helps the reader to understand the point of view that Hawthorne wrote from. It explains that he was a Christian who dabbled in Transcendentalism. His notebooks are filled with references to God and he was very knowledgeable about Biblical theology. Christian practices and themes abound in The Scarlet Letter.

The bulk of the book consists of chapter plot summaries, commentaries, and questions for reflection and discussion. Each 2-3 page chapter is helpful for a quick review of the story and for pointing out imagery and themes that the reader might miss on his own.

We haven’t yet used this little book, since Emily isn’t quite ready to study The Scarlet Letter yet, but it appears to be a great guide to the book. For a novel like The Scarlet Letter, discussion of the Christian themes of sin, repentance, and morality is crucial to understanding the symbolism and intent of the author. I think our enjoyment and understanding of the novel will be enhanced with this guide and look forward to using this resource in the next year or two.

The other books in the series include The Pilgrim’s Progress, Great Expectations, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, and Macbeth.

I received a free copy of this book from the Crossway Homeschool Book Review Program in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Allison was home for a few days last week and we decided to take a short camping trip to a nearby state park. I’ve always avoided taking the pop up camper out by myself, but everything went smoothly. We hiked, played on the playground, roasted marshmallows, and played games until midnight. Fun!