Knowledge Quest - Sacagawea - A Book Review

Knowledge Quest began in 2001 by a homeschooling family, The Johnsons.  They have 6 children and wanted to fill the holes that they saw in their homeschool curriculum choices.  The main one being maps that their children could label and color in as they studied American and World Geography.  Since then, they have had the privilege of working with numerous authors to bring other exciting resources to homeschooling families.  You can read more about Knowledge Quest here.

My family and I had the pleasure of reading one of their newest books (on our Kindle), Sacagawea by Karla Akins.  We had some familiarity with the character of Sacagawea from a few books we had read and also seeing the Night at the Museum movies.  But those don't really tell her story. 

Not much is known about Sacagawea and so Karla has taken some literary license when writing this book.  However, I really felt connected as we read the book.

It starts of with Sacagawea and her son Pompey.  Her son seemed to be around 5 years old or so and he wants her to tell him stories of the past.  Mainly the Man with Red Hair.  You can tell that Sacagawea loves her son immensely and even though he has heard the story many times she tells it again.  Thus begins the journey of Sacagawea.

The book talks about how she and her sister were kidnapped from their family and wound up being slaves.  They stay slaves for several years.  Then they are both won as bets of a game and become the brides of a Frenchman.  It is here that she meets Lewis & Clark.  Clark is the Man with Red Hair. 

Sacagawea goes along as their guide to be able to talk to her people, who haven't seen her since she was kidnapped, so that they can buy horses.  She is THRILLED to be able to go home to see her family and to show them her son, Pompey. 

Imagine, just having a baby and going on a long journey.  But it's not like today.  They walked, boated, canoed, camped out without all the amenities we have today.  They got blisters, infections, attacked by bears and so much more!  Snow, rain, hail were all in this trip.  It was not an easy thing for a new mom (and baby) to endure.  But she did.  She did it for the love of her family.  The thought of seeing them again kept her going.

I will admit that at points I was crying.  I know what it's like to be away from family.  But I at least had some say in that.  Sacagawea did not. 

I don't want to give much more away, but I will say that we really enjoyed the book.  Jonathan (11) was definitely able to understand what was going on and enjoyed hearing some of the journal entries from Lewis & Clark.  Jordan (5) seemed to like Pompey quite a bit.  He would keep asking about the little boy in the book. 

The book is very well written and not hard to read.  I even had Jonathan read a chapter a day so I could see what all he would remember about it. 

I felt so emotional as Sacagawea grows up through this book.  From a young girl to a teenager and then a wife and mother.  She works hard and never gives up.  Even when life threw everything at her, she keeps going.  It was only during extreme illness that she stops for a moment (or so it seems).  The emotional tugs as a mother got to me as well.  She would do anything to protect her child.  She also wanted the best for her child. 

She struggles for her identity, especially since she is not like the "white-man".  She learns to stand up for herself and her son and ultimately wants to be known as an equal.  Especially since she works so hard for everything. 

I think that Sacagawea is a definite book to have in your library.  You will definitely be able to connect to her character.  It is something that the whole family can enjoy.  I know mine did.

Sacagawea is available here for $3.99


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Leadership Garden Legacy - Review

Leadership Garden Legacy was created by Debra J. Slover.  She is a graduate of Oregon State University and has more than 27 years experience in training and empowering youth and adult leaders.  Debra's story is shared in the book U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within.  But you can also read about her here.  It was through her life experiences that she chose to help others develop their leadership skills.

There are 2 main books.  The book for adults - U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within & the book for children - U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Growing My Leadership Garden (10+).  There is also a guide book for the adults and an activity book for children is in the works.  The books are also available in MP3 format for those who are on the go!  (This was very useful to us!)

So, Jonathan and I received our books in the mail and our downloads for the MP3's of the books to take with us.  We also got the guidebook and a prototype for the activity book for children.  I assigned reading time for us together as we worked through these books.  This way we would be basically going through the same thing but at our own levels. 

As I read Debra's story in the adult book, Growing the Leader Within, I was crying.  I can't even imagine the pain she went through.  But it helped shape her and give her experiences to learn from that brought her to where she is today.  This story is not in the child book.

Both books use the same acronym U.N.I.Q.U.E.  This stands for Understanding, Nurturing, Inventive, Quality, Unstoppable, Expression of Leadership.  Debra uses the setting of a farm to help go through the 6 characteristics of a leader. 

The main character of the book is Hugh.  He is a sheep who has lost his way.  He also has to deal with a lot of seeds that he let take root in his mind, heart and spirit.  Things that weigh him down.  But he meets Leda, one of the owners of the farm and she decides to take him home with her and help him plant his Leadership Garden.  There he meets Annabelle and she goes through the 6 leadership garden lessons.  Each one has something different to be learned.

As an adult going through Growing the Leader Within, I realized how much like Hugh I was.  All the negativity and thoughts that I had let take root in my mind, heart and spirit.  It is enough to weigh a person down so much they feel like a failure.  It is hard to overcome those things without guidance.  And that's what this book does.  It guides you through 6 different lessons with different activities to do to help you grow as a leader and pull the weeds of doubt and negativity. 

I really liked how the activities at the end of each chapter really helped nail home the lesson that was being taught.  You definitely need the guidebook as it is referenced quite a bit.

For the kid's book, Jonathan (11) would read a chapter or 2 a week and answer the questions at the end.  Not every chapter had questions though.  We also got to use the activity guide and journal for the kids book.  The book follows the same story of Hugh and his journey through the leadership garden.  But this is definitely geared toward a younger mind. 

You could definitely read this aloud to younger children or listen to the audio version.  I would definitely recommend it.  Jordan (who turns 6 in a month) would sit and listen to the audio during play time.  Granted he didn't listen 100% of the time, but I was able to ask questions and he would often be able to give me an answer.

We also used the audio MP3's when we would be in the car.  It is a great way to get it in.  Jonathan was able to follow along with the book while listening to the audio.

I really liked being able to incorporate some of the activities from the kids activity guide.  It not only deepens the lessons but also is a good way to incorporate school type activities without being to invasive. 

Jonathan is my writer, so the journal really appealed to him.

Overall, I am really pleased with these books.  I could call them curriculum, but it's actually a type of self-help and guidance.  They guide parents through their own leadership path and also help guide the parents to nurture their own children through the leadership garden.  I think in this day and age where we are going to be in need of good Leaders, this will go a long way in helping parents and children realize their full potential.

Pricing for the Leadership Garden Materials is as follows:
U.N.I.Q.U.E: Growing the Leader Within - $18.95
U.N.I.Q.U.E Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden - $18.95
The Leadership Garden Guidebook - $18.95
U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Activity Guide & Journal (Download) - $8.95
U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Audio MP3 (Download) - $ 8.95
U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within Audio MP3 (Download) - $14.95


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So now that Spring has arrived, my next favorite thing is rain.  Especially Thunderstorms.  I LOVE hearing the thunder.  It's powerful booms that shake my house, the feeling that I am not as in control as I want to be, that there is a God who is more powerful than anything and that He can calm the storm if needed.

I don't know exactly when my fascination for thunderstorms began.  But I remember somewhat early on in my childhood enjoying the sound of the thunder and rain. 

We just had our first round of thunderstorms this week.  It was so nice to know that spring was here and we would be getting green grass, tree blossoms, flowers would be blooming and life returns again to the earth.

As I walked the dog this morning (in the rain), I was looking at how green the grass had become since the weather had warmed up and we had gotten our first rains of the season.  The brown was diminishing and I could see the freshness of the grass.  The smell was intoxicating.  I love the smell of freshly rained on grass.

I noticed my lilac bush was getting it buds.  So was the dogwood tree's.  Oh the beauty of creation.

Rain nourishes the earth.  Gives it that much needed drink after a long winter.

For The Beauty Of The Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heaven,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For thy Church which evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.
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ABeCeDarian - REVIEW

The ABeCeDarian Program was written by Michael Bend, Ph.D.  It was created to help develop students into fluent readers.  ABeCeDarian is "a research-based, explicit, comprehensive, multi-sensory decoding program."  To read more about the author, Michael Bend, click here.  To read more about the program details click here.

When I taught my oldest son, Jonathan, to read, the program was the same that I had when I was a child.  It was good and he learned a lot, but we didn't have fun or enjoy it.  It was very phonics oriented, which isn't a bad thing and it worked for Jonathan, but I knew that Jordan(5), our 2nd son, was a completely different child with a different style of learning.  He is more hands on and needs a different approach to learning to read.

ABeCeDarian is definitely different then your typical phonics based reading program.  Now there is nothing wrong with a phonics based program, but as we tried to implement that early on in the school year, I could see it would be a struggle for us.  Jordan just learns different.

When we received our package from ABeCeDarian I started reading the teachers guide for level A1.  A1 is for Kindergarten to 1st grade readers who may be struggling.  There is a good bit of reading on the teacher's end to completely understand the program and how it works and the best way to implement the program.  In going through the teachers guide, I really liked how they implemented the skills necessary to read.  It is a completely different approach than what I had used before with Jonathan.  It reminded me of the Charlotte Mason teaching style.

One of the things that was different and opposite of what I had been doing with Jordan was teaching letter names and the sounds together.  In ABeCeDarian they teach the names after the students have learned all of the sounds.  I think this offers less confusion for student.

They also do not teach sight words.  And honestly, in going through the program, I don't think that we will need to do sight words at all.  This program is very effective in it's teaching methods.

One of the methods they use is the Tap-and-Say.  Tap-and-Say was probably the best thing for him.  You tap each letter, say the sound (not the letter) and then put the sounds together.  Something else in this curriculum is word puzzles.  These are fun little games that involve solving the puzzle by figuring out the sounds in the word.  (More detail on this in the teachers manual for this)

I will admit that when Jordan first started, he was hesitant.  It was different than what we had been doing and he can be very resistant to change.  But once he saw how hands on this was going to be he started to warm up to the program.

Jordan and I would begin our day with ABeCeDarian.  We received the Curriculum that begins with level A1 and goes all the way through B1.  I chose to start him in A1 and work our way up through the curriculum.  Even if was a slight review, I wanted him to get used to the methods we were using in the curriculum. 

The lessons started with the Word Puzzle for a short word.  This helped him figure out letter sounds and how to put the letters in the correct order.  He really liked solving the puzzle.  Then we would work on Tap-and-Say for our words we had just completed using the puzzle.

But those 2 things aren't the only things used.  They also incorporate handwriting.  Writing each sound and then the whole word.  These activities all work together to help solidify each thing learned for the day. 

We would spend about 30-45 minutes total working through all of these activities.  Some days actually go very quickly because he is actually enjoying learning to read.  He has even brought over some simple books to try and read to me.  I am really thrilled that he is wanting to learn more. 

I still kept to doing 1 lesson a day 4 days a week.  I know he could do more, but I don't want to rush him through the process.  I want him to fully grasp each concept and set of sounds.  I think if we did more than one lesson in a day, things would blur together and he wouldn't get a complete understanding of what is being taught.

To say that Jordan and I are happy with this curriculum would be an understatement.  I am thrilled that he wants to learn and will actually bring me our books each day.  He is already learning so much and putting things together very quickly now.  This is something that motivates him.

The program we used and are almost finished with was A1.  The Pricing for ABeCeDarian A1 is as follows.

Teacher's Manual - $28.50
Student Workbook -  $12.25

I believe this program is a great reading program.  It is fun and engages the child.  My son comes back wanting to learn more.  He is excited to learn.  What a blessing for our family.  I can't wait to use it with our other children as well.  (though I will need to purchase more workbooks, but completely worth it in my opinion) 


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Spring has FINALLY arrived

Well it's FINALLY here!  Spring!  It only took 3 weeks after the official spring date for it to show up.  We have been in the 60 degree (or higher) for about 4-5 days now.  It is so nice. 

The boys have been outside playing every day.  Running up and down the hill in our back yard, climbing the geodome that my parents got them last year, also climbing the tree's, drawing on the back porch with Chalk and swinging in our one swing. 

It is so good to be able to enjoy the creation that our Heavenly Father has given us.  It is spring time when I am reminded most of the gift of life that we are privileged to have.  Spring is also when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The gift of Eternal Life that was given to us.  It is ours, if we would accept it and follow Him. 

Thank you Lord for all your blessing and right now for the season of Spring. 
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Computer Science For Kids - Review

Computer Science For Kids products are written by Phillip Conrad and Lou Tylee.  The companies KIDWARE & Biblebyte Software were started in 1982 in an effort to present "family-friendly" learning games for kids.  You can read more about the authors here and the company background here.

KIDWARE Software publishes computer programming tutorials for schools, homeschools and computer enthusiasts.  They have tutorials for Microsoft® Small Basic, Visual Basic®, Visual C#®, and  Oracle JavaTM . Their products are geared toward middle (5-8) and high-school students.

We were able to choose between Computer Bible Games with Small Basic or Beginning Microsoft Small Basic for our review.  So I asked what Jonathan (who is turning 11 in a week) wanted to study and he chose Computer Bible Games.  It allows the Christian middle school student to study Microsoft Small Basic while creating a fun but yet simple game.

When I got the tutorial downloaded, I printed it off.  Be sure to have a whole ream of paper and print on both sides.  The tutorial is about 400pages long.  I also printed it in draft to save ink.  But be sure to leave it in color so you can see the different text colors for Small Basic text in the window.  Definitely something that is important when writing Small Basic script.

I would read the chapter he was working on ahead of time so I would know what he was about to do in the course and also because I am a computer geek!  I was actually very excited that computer classes come up for the Review Crew! 

So we would spend about an hour to an ninety minutes a day approximately 3 days a week working through each chapter.  Other than the installing of Small Basic Program (which is described in one of the first chapters), I have him work through steps a couple of times to get the hang of the Small Basic computer language.

To me it's not that hard, but I have a bit more experience than Jonathan.  He would ask a few questions and I would explain the best I could.  I also got daddy involved as he is also a computer geek. 

I can really see Jonathan was enjoying himself as he learned more about computers and their programming.  He is so excited that when he is done with this course.  We try to do one lesson a week.  I really keep him at that pace as I don't want him to rush through and miss any steps.  Any step that goes missing could significantly alter the outcome of the final product.  He double and even triple checks his work and we go over it together. 

Each chapter can be anywhere from 20 - nearly 100 pages.  So it definitely takes the full hour each class to work through.  Like I said above, I typically schedule 3 days but if the chapter seems particularly long then I will schedule 4 days.  But we have been able to stick to the 3 days a week for the most part.

As a parent and teacher, I really like how this curriculum is put together.  It covers every step, from installing the software to color selections for the program.  They explain things in ways that are simple enough for middle school and high school students to grasp and be able to follow as they work through the lessons.  It is very thorough and explanatory.

There are 13 chapters (lessons) to work through in this course.  We are about half-way through it right now and Jonathan is loving it.  Each step closer to the finished project he gets more excited. 

Computers and more importantly computer technology is going to be a very important part of the future.  By giving our children access to technology and training them how to understand and use it is an important skill to have today.  It will be a valuable asset to them.

Computer technology was something my own father told me to go to college for, and while I really wanted to major in music, I listened to him.  He was right!  Computers are everywhere.  That phone you have, it most likely has a computer in it.  Especially if it's a "Smart-Phone".   

Overall, I would definitely recommend this course to any homeschooling family.  It is perfect for the child who wants to learn more about computer program writing.  My son loves it. 

We will be updating with some screenshots of our finished program soon.  :) 

My son and I received the Single User License Digital e-Book download for Computer Bible Games with Small Basic.  It is on sale for $34.95.

They also have a Paperback textbook + eBook tutorial for $59.95


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A Journey Through Learning Earth Lapbook - REVIEW

A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks was created by Paula & Nancy.  They are two homeschooling moms who wanted quality hands on items for their children as they were teaching them at home.  They knew that this was an area that was lacking in homeschooling materials.  Between them both they have 6 children.  Where would they get the time to create something?  Let alone run a business.  Well they started with Unit Studies and it blossomed into lapbooks.  To read more about their story click here.

So if you are new to homeschooling, you may be wondering, "What is a lapbook?"  Don't let that term scare you away.  It's really quite simple and fun!  A lapbook is where you use manila folders (we use both regular and legal size in our projects).  Most lapbooks come in the e-file format though I have seen ones pre-printed.  You cut out the different information sections, fill them out as you read books, the information provided with the lapbook, watch videos on the web, and add whatever else you like!  Really quite simple. 

We were introduce to lapbooks about 3 years ago through another review program.  At first it seems intimidating, but it really is quite easy to do.  The Library becomes your best friend (if it isn't already).  We really love lapbooking.  It's such a creative way to do a unit study.  You can make the amount of time spent on it as short or as long as you want.  I try to spend at least 2 - 3 weeks on a lapbook.  This way I feel like my children are learning about the topic studied.  The AJTL lapbooks can take 2-4 weeks.  But really how much time you want to spend on it is what you determine. 

I love the vast amount of topics that are offered in lapbooks.  It seems that there is one for everything!  A Journey Through Learning offers SO many different ones!  They have lapbooks for Apologia Science curriculum you may be using.  There are also ones for holidays, history, Classical Conversations and so much more!

We worked on the lapbook for The Earth.  It is for 1st - 4th grades.  Now, you may be thinking, "your kids are in 5th and k grades".  This is very true.  But by using books appropriate for their level of understanding I made it more for their grade level. 

In the lapbook is a list of suggested books for you to read with your children or them to read alone if they are able to do so.  I chose a few of the ones listed in the lapbook and also chose a few others that were grade appropriate for my boys. 

Most of the books were read aloud and because there was a good bit of information already put into the lapbook so we read that aloud as well.  We learned about the layers of the earth, seasons, days and how time is calculated, the layers of atmosphere, topographical features (though I didn't use that term with the kids).  We really covered quite a bit.  So much so that I spread it out over several days for the boys.

We also have a set of mini encyclopedia style books that we use to help in our Earth research.  Since Jonathan is in 5th grade, I felt it appropriate for him to do some more research on his own.  I really try to use the internet for research.  This is because he could spend HOURS on there.  I prefer him to use books and use the skills of research in the Library.

Now I am one of those moms who makes sure all the reading is done first and then we work on the lapbook.  I get too discombobulated when I try to work on the lapbook and do the reading at the same time.  So we worked on our lapbook and got it put together in a day.  Now, that did not include Jonathan filling in all of the information. 

One thing I didn't think about till afterward was that I should have had him at least filling out the pages as I was reading the books/lapbook pages or researching.  Instead he did all that afterward and while it worked out, he got frustrated at points cause he had to go back and find the answers again.  So maybe take that little bit of info as a tip for what not to do and what might be best.

Also, in this lapbook they had poetry and songs to go along with the Earth topic.  That was so nice to incorporate into our learning experience. 

Overall we really enjoyed our Journey Through Learning Lapbook experience.  It is nice to see the quality and information provided by AJTL in their lapbooks.  I can't wait to try more.  We currently use Apologia Science so I am going to get the one that corresponds to the program we are working through.  :)

The lapbooks vary in price, but here is the pricing for The Earth.
Instant Download - $13.00
Printed - $21.00

You can get your other materials at office supply stores.  Something else I plan on doing with my next one is to use some of my scrapbooking supplies in making the lapbook!  I think that will add even more creative elements to the lapbooking experience.


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