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Veritas Press: Self-Paced History {Review}

Veritas Press Review

I've always known Veritas Press as a company that offers curriculum for a Classical Christian education, but I've never considered myself a Classical homeschooler. I teach history chronologically, but that is as Classical as I get. . . until now.

I received a 12 month course subscription to Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation and we're hooked.

Crictor {Sonlight P 3/4}

Katy No-Pocket {Before FI♥AR}

~Bo is 3 years, 5 months~

Katy No-Pocket is a Before Five in a Row selection about a kangaroo without a pocket and how she goes about getting one. It is not my favorite book, and I don't enjoy reading it, but it has a huge variety of animals and critters and that made it fun for Bo. It also involves problem solving, helping others, and has plenty of opportunities for counting and learning about animal mothers and how they carry their babies.

We played with Bo's Socket To Me set, read the book and did some of the activities and discussions from the manual, matched the animal classification cards to the animals and insects in the book (there were a LOT!), did some fine motor practice with nuts and bolts, counted, did a tool matching and art activity, and made a Pavolva!

The character trait from the manual is kindness, but since we did that for our last LH unit, I chose the virtue perseverant, since Katy does not give up on finding a pocket (though she is rather emotional over her failed attempts).

I rowed Katy No-Pocket with Mali and Elli when they were 3 and 5.

Make a MemoryPavlova

The setting of the story takes place in Australia, and I knew I wanted a reason to make this again!

Crisp meringue outside with a soft marshmallow like center. . . topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Yum!

I was inspired to row this with Bo when I received the Socket To Me set to review. Love how that worked out. I really wanted to make Bo an apron to stuff with animals, but forgot. This is a memory making idea from the manual and is so cute when I see it on other blogs! Maybe next time. :)

The summer solstice will officially mark the beginning of summer in three days and I am hoping the sun will shine to celebrate! We've had some sunny and beautiful days followed by weeks of chilly weather and lots of rain (I have a sweater and a blanket on me as I type). IF summer comes next week, I plan on rowing The Yellow Ball followed by My Blue Boat. Really hoping it warms up because I have some fun warm weather activities planned!

More Katy fun:

  • A Family In The Land (Love the pic of Shai carrying all the baby animals in her pocket apron! Julia does a great job including real life in her rows, too.)
  • Small Hands Inspired (Love how Meagan tied Kangaroo Care into their row and her two cuties "wearing" their babies!)
  • The Mommy School (Love their kindness chart and how the little ones carried their babies the way the mama animals do!)
  • A Mommy Montage (Love the aboriginal dot art and how they compared their jumping abilities to that of a kangaroo!)
  • His Treasure Seekers (Love how Deanna reminds us that following the manual and keeping rows simple can be just as enjoyable as adding in all the extras! and sometimes we as mothers need SIMPLE!)
  • Angelicscalliwags (Love the book led play dough fun, her quiet time basket, and that they made Lamingtons and Damper bread! and of course their special tea time!)
Remember: You can read any book for five days in a row, and do many wonderful activities to go-along, but you cannot “row” a book without the Five in a Row manual. Furthermore, my posts are certainly not meant to replace the manual. What I share is how we use the manual. Please read Rowing with Five in a Row to learn more! 

Design & Drill® Socket to Me {Review}

If you have followed my Tot School with Bo posts, the Design & Drill name should be familiar to you!

Bo has {and loves!} the Design & Drill Take Along Tool Kit, and we used it throughout our ABC Tot School. So I knew he would love the Design & Drill® Socket to Me set from Educational Insights.

What is neat about the Socket to Me set is that is like a real socket wrench that works and even clicks as you turn it. It even has a forward and a reverse switch. And it does not require batteries!

It looks and acts so real, that it took Bo a bit to figure it out. He had to concentrate hard and you can tell by the looks on his face that this was real work for him!

What's neat is that you can't screw the bolts in by hand - you have to use the socket wrench. So realistic! But it does require a bit of effort and coordination to make it work, and he often asked for my help to finish screwing a bolt in.

Bo played with the rocket ship this day, but the set comes with 4 fun shapes to play with: a rocket, a robot, a race car, and a tug boat. The set also comes with 30 brightly colored bolts.

The set is great for developing fine motor skills and lots of creative play!

We read the book Katy No-Pocket and compared the socket wrench to the tools in the story.

I also pulled out a real socket wrench to show Bo. He was so surprised that it looked just like his!

For the next couple weeks, he brought me different shapes to play with and wanted me to screw them all in for him! He chose the colors, and I got them all started and encouraged him to try it some more. He did a few turns, but wanted me to finish.

The Design & Drill® Socket to Me set is priced at $21.99 and geared towards ages 4 and up. Because Bo is not quite 4, it is a little hard for him ~ perfect for developing his fine motor skills! I think he will get a good amount of construction play out of it.

I could see us using it mostly for home play (because I'd be afraid of losing the bolts), but if you took one along with enough bolts (with a bag to store it in), it would be great for use in the car.

I need more toys like this for Bo that serve a function beyond just entertaining my child. I like that it is teaching him a skill that carries on into real life. And I love that he can "play" with his tools (just like his dad). :)

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Disclosure: I received this product for free from Educational Insights in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations. 

Year in Review 2013-2014

In my 2013-1014 Curriculum post, I wrote:
The most notable change this year is that I am combining more children, yet keeping them in their own individual cores. Eliana and Malachi are doing Sonlight Core B, but I am having Malachi sit in on Core G History and Read Alouds with Dylan.  I had a hard time keeping up with RA’s last year with Dylan, and Malachi is ready for more advanced history and read aloud time – and both cover World History! To do this, I got ahead on Core B RA’s over the summer – we are on week 22. So, I can relax and focus on Dylan and Malachi.

Little did I know that I would finish Core B by the end of 2013 just to keep up with Core G! And start Core C to boot. We made it through the Feudal System in both Core C and G, as well as Mystery of History 2, before I waved the white flag and surrendered.

We are about half way through Core C. Luke has been reading Window on the World and Amazing Bible Facts and stopped at week 18. I have a stack of read-alouds from the Core to read over the summer. But, for the most part, I am ready to shelve Core C. My heart is not into it, and I am ready for a summer break.

On our list to read:

  • Strawberry Girl

  • Pippi Longstocking

  • The Twenty-One Balloons

  • The White Stallions of Lipizza

I may or may not pick Core C back up. Malachi is using Veritas Press Self-Paced History Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation (a review item), which will essentially replace Core C/G. He really likes it and it frees me up a ton. I'm a little overwhelmed trying to get all of our subjects in on a daily basis and my goal is to simplify this coming year. I think this will be a huge help!

What didn't work: 

Adding Core C mid-year. I'm happy with what we did get done, but I don't like the feeling of leaving a core unfinished But, I'm so getting over that. :)

Science ~ we did our human body unit study in the fall, and started Apologia Astronomy in the spring. We ended up reviewing Science4Us and Supercharged Science and didn't finish Astronomy. I will probably carry this over to next year. Maybe. Right now, I'm pretty burnt out on school, so I'm not sure. I might like to try something completely different.

Eliana, 1st grade

What worked:

  • All About Reading Level 1 & All About Spelling 1 ~ we finished! (Phew!) It took us 2 years (K and 1st) to work through both programs.

  • Explode the Code Book 2 - ended up being just what she needed, giving her time to mature before finishing AAR/AAS

  • Math Lessons for a Living Education - this is gentle and includes lots of review (almost too much at the end). She flew through this often completing a week's worth of lessons in one sitting, but it really boosted her confidence. Math is her favorite subject now!

  • I'm ambivalent about Daily 6-Trait Writing, Grade 1. This is the only book I like in this series, but we are still working through it.

What didn't work:

  • Explode the Code Online - just didn't work out and ended up being a waste of money

  • Write a Super Sentence - just didn't get to it

  • Beginning Geography, Grades K-2 – E-book - started strong - just didn't get to it, but I really like this book. Will probably pick it up again and finish it in 2nd.

  • Getty & Dubay Italic Handwriting - I should have started Book B and I didn't.

  • Singapore Math 1A ~ I didn't love this program for her initially. We tried again after completing Math Lessons for a Living Education and she is doing much better with it.

Malachi, 3rd grade

What worked:

  • All About Reading Level 3 (link to my review) and All About Spelling 3 (aff link) Malachi really took off in level 2 and this level was very easy for him.

  • Language Lessons for the Very Young Vol. 2  ~ this served it's purpose and he finished this, but I don't think we will continue with this series next year.

  • Primary Language Lessons (though we were not consistent with it).

  • Life of Fred: Edgewood & Farming (planned) but he also did Goldfish & Honey! (unplanned)

What didn't quite work: 

  • Getty & Dubay Book C ~ we made it half way and stopped when cursive was introduced. I'd like him to spend more time on manuscript before moving on.

  • Sitting in with Core G 2nd semester. Worked wonderfully the first semester, but I couldn't keep up, and Dylan was ready to work more independently.

Dylan, 8th grade

What worked:

I let Dylan move ahead on his own to finish Core G ~ specifically Story of the World and Mystery of History 2 on audio. Total, Dylan completed 2 volumes of Story of the World and 2 volumes of Mystery of History (we ditched the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History ~ just not needed). I missed the part about spreading Core G out over 2 years when adding in Mystery of History - so in a sense, we did 2 years of World History (MOH) in one year alone. That said, I don't feel so bad that we did not do every read aloud in Core G. And Dylan did not do every reader. (Remember, Dylan does not love to read and we are using a literature based curriculum.)

Dylan also did Jump In Writing this year. I'm really happy with the program, and Dylan did well when he did the assignments, but he mostly liked doing the activities in the book and not the final writing assignments. He still learned a lot and grew.

He finished Apologia Physical Science last week. We were nearing the end of the year with too many modules to complete, so I bought the book on audio, and he listened to the last 4 modules. Dylan is an audio learner so this was really a successful end to science this year. He did the modules at such an accelerated pace that I think he enjoyed it more and learned more. I did not make him do the journal or experiments or tests. But, he came to me every day and narrated all that he learned (on his own). In fact, he is still coming to me a week after he finished to tell me more of what he learned. He has an amazing recall of information and facts.

Dylan finished Life of Fred Pre-Algebra II and started Algebra 1. He also did The Algebra 1 Tutor Part 1 (a review item).

Overall, this was a better year for Dylan.

This summer, he will read:

  • The Shakespeare Stealer

  • I, Juan de Pareja (read-aloud that I have on audio)

  • and maybe The Hidden Treasure of Glaston (RA) and/or The Samurai's Tale

What didn't work:

Reading all the readers in Core G. In fact, when I pulled out my Core H IG, I just wasn't sure I could do it again. It was hard to get him to read what he did. I'm lacking in courage right now. I'm leaning towards continuing with Mystery of History and Story of the World on audio, and adding in a few Core H books, rather than following the Core H guide.

Nathan, 9th grade

Nathan did so well working independently through Core H, doing the readers and all of the history and read-alouds on his own, that I took it for granted that he would continue on with Core 100 in the same manner. But, Core 100 was a little harder for him, and with the lack of accountability (me), he fell behind on the history and literature. He will be finishing up Core 100 over the summer. He struggled with a big distraction this year - his computer. He loves Age of Empires and Luke and I struggled to help him find a healthy balance. If it wasn't his computer, it was Clash of Clans on his iPhone. He stopped loving books when he got so into gaming and that was concerning. As parents, we had to impose strict regulations and that led to strife. (Parenting is not for the faint-hearted.)

Nathan also failed to keep up with One Year Adventure Novel. He will need another semester to finish the program.

Nathan is still working on Life of Fred Algebra 1. I had him do the Algebra 1 Tutor Part 1, and when we finished, I ordered Part 2. So, he has been doing both and that has slowed him down. I really want to make sure he masters Algebra 1 before moving on.

What didn't work for Nathan this year:

  • Apologia Chemistry. It was too hard. He made it 5 modules in and asked to be done. I had him do a science fair project from Supercharged Science to finish off the year. (He built an underwater R.O.V robot). His transcript will list Physical Science with Intro to Chemistry (giving him high school credit for Physical Science + what he did in Chemistry). This is actually what our district does and calls it Integrated Science. To be honest, I bumped him up so he could do Chemistry with Jordan (who dropped the class after the first module), but it was too late to do Biology because I loaned my Biology set out to another homeschool family. So, Nathan will do Biology with Dylan this coming year. Which is perfect, because they can be lab partners. And Dylan should be ready to do Biology as it's the next book.

  • Windows Programming. We got off to a slow start with Nathan's new computer and not having internet at home to get it set up. This spring he picked up speed with it, but then his computer failed to boot one day and we have not had it fixed, so the program has been shelved.

  • Spanish 1. He started it, but couldn't get into it. We will start over this coming year.

Bottomline, I dropped the ball on Nathan this year. I was so focused on speech/learning with Bo, teaching Eliana to read, keeping Dylan accountable, and getting Jordan through his senior year with testing, college courses for dual enrollment, and graduation that I failed to hold Nathan accountable as I should have. The wonderful thing is that Nathan is a great reader and a hard worker. He will catch up and finish strong. He's on his last two books in the History of Us series and will do the literature as summer reading.

Jordan, 12th grade

What worked:

  • The Power in Your Hands Writing, though he didn't finish it. He ended up taking English 1010 at the community college for dual enrollment.

  • Taking college classes!

  • Taking the Compass Tess instead of the ACT. He studied for the ACT for months and stressed about it every minute. Finally, I told him he should just go take the Compass test - the only test our community college requires for admission. He got a perfect score on the writing test, and ended up taking college English second semester and got an A in the class. He did not test into college math at first, and was not planning to retest (despite my ernest request to do so), until he applied and interviewed for the Diesel Tech program and his advisor suggested he retake it. He did and tested two levels higher and into the math he needs for the program - Math 1400. I think a semester of college classes boosted his confidence. He worked more slowly and took his time the 2nd time and I was so relieved! He did well in all of his math courses in high school - Life of Fred made all the difference for him throughout high school! Though he thought Algebra II was too hard and never wanted to do it.

What didn't work:

  • BJU Government - he couldn't get into it. He ended up taking U.S. and Wyoming Constitution at the community college for dual credit second semester.

  • Economics for Everybody - I had a hard time getting him to finish this. It wasn't the program - he was just so busy being 18, working, and going to college that any homeschool classes were put on the back burner. Thankfully, his English class helped fulfill his economics credit. He ended up writing 4 papers on global economics, the race to the bottom, and more as he analyzed the Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy and other New York Times articles on global economics. He got an A in the class, but I lowered his Economics grade on his transcript because he didn't fulfill the original course requirements. I'm still unsure if I made the right decision. If he would have come to me and asked me, I would have felt better about it, but he just didn't finish the DVDs and workbook.

Boaz ~ Preschool

We finished Tot School Printables in December and our year (beginning in Jan.) was a success ~ Bo really enjoyed it and learned almost all of his letters and sounds.

I was a little overly ambitious in planning for his preschool. I wanted to do too much. We started out with a focus on Little Hands to Heaven and added Animal ABCs as a supplement. And I was not able to do Before Five in a Row or Sonlight P 3/4 on a regular basis.

Then towards the end of spring Bo lost interest in all seat work. He mostly just wants to be read to. We rowed Katy No-Pocket earlier this month and did a few activities - but Bo did not want to do all that I offered him (namely printables!). He still likes to cut and paste, do matching activities, and play games. But, he mostly wants to read. I'm fine with that.

I want to row with all of my heart, but our discussion is very limited. Bo clams up and won't talk and he cannot narrate stories to me like Eliana could at his age. So, we are doing Bible from LH once a week, and I am reading Sonlight P 3/4 daily! (And I sneak in a craft here and there and he doesn't seem to mind those.)

Standardized Testing 

Because of the stress over testing, Jordan told me I need to test the other children so they have the experience (it is not required in the state of Wyoming). I took his advice to heart and all 4 grade school children took the Stanford Achievement Test (Stat 10) this spring. This was through BJU and offered through a local private school. Overall, it was a positive experience.

This post was inspired by Tristan @ Our Busy Homeschool! Read her Busy Homeschool's Year in Review here!

So, now I am in planning mode and feeling a little anxiety over what to do this coming school year. I really need a simple, easy year. I wanted to get everything planned, ordered, and organized this month and then be at peace and take a summer break knowing that I made wise decisions. But I haven't decided, and I will be restless until I do.

The Middle Ages & The Duchess Bakes a Cake {Sonlight Core C + FI♥AR}

We covered the Feudal System with Sonlight Core C, did lots of Middle Ages art with Artistic Pursuits, and then rowed Duchess Bakes a Cake as the grand finale.

We rowed this 2 years ago when we covered the Feudal System with Sonlight Core A. (Has it already been that long?)

Social Studies: Medieval Times & Feudal System (Core C)

From Sonlight Core C, Weeks 7 - 14:

  • Tales of Robin Hood

  • Sir Lancelot the Great

  • Castle Diaries

  • Child's History of the World

  • Usborne Time Traveler/Book of World History

  • The Great and Terrible Quest (Core G)

We also listened to several audio books from Lamplighter Theatre:

  • Basket of Flowers

  • Teddy's Button

  • Peep Behind the Scenes

  • Charlie's Choice

  • Hedge of Thorns

  • Sir Malcom and the Missing Prince (this has some intense scenes that were too scary for my little ones)

  • Sir Knight of the Splendid Way

I bought these several years ago and never made time to listen to them, but glad we did now. I really enjoyed this series with the kids and I loved that they were all set in the Middle Ages!

Science: Simple Machines & Catapults

This spring I reviewed Supercharged Science and made these catapults for our study of the Middle Ages. While searching through the site, I found lots of experiments that would compliment Five in a Row science.  We covered simple machines in Supercharged Science as well as Science4Us and took a field trip to see them in action at a science center.

We converted our Sonlight castle box that I had been saving and loaded up on ammo!

Art: Medieval Artists and Their Techniques

"Stained Glass" Painting

I added black acrylic paint to clear glue and we each drew a design on watercolor paper. When it dried, the idea was to fill the entire paper with watercolor to give it a stained glassed look.

Mali and Elli were more creative in their designs.

Gold Foil Castle Scene and Cruck House and many other Middle Ages art projects with Artistic Pursuits: Stories of Artists and Their Art  ~ (link to projects we did and our review).

Language Arts: Alliteration, Synonyms, Plot, Characters, Vocabulary

We used the unit study and lapbook from Homeschool Share to accompany our row. I really liked how the lessons are laid out - easy to follow. I especially liked the point in one lesson about the ignorance of the people. People were uneducated and didn't think for themselves - they were told what to do. So, they had a hard time solving their problem of getting the Duchess down!

We did the Story Map again.

Math: Times Tables: Times Threes and Sixes, & Liquid and Dry Ingredients

"She raced down the turret, three steps at one leap." So, we did Learning Wrap-Ups x3.

Then she added yeast, "six times for good measure." So we did x6.

The Crew reviewed Learning Wrap-Ups if you want to learn more about them.

Crafting and Memory Making

These are activities from the activity book Days of Knights and Damsels.

Twist Some Wire Jewelry 

We learned that fine jewelry worn in the Middle Ages was made from gold and silver that was heated, pounded, or twisted into shapes or melted and poured into molds. We made a bracelet and ring by twisting gold metal wire.

Make a Medieval Outfit

We raided closets and the thrift store and put together simple peasant costumes. Malachi's Robin Hood boy's outfit consists of a cape made from 2 green cloth napkins, long pants and a loose shirt over with a belt at the waist holding a leather pouch. I had fabric to tie around his legs, but couldn't find it.

Elli's girl's outfit is an apron (that she has finally grown into) over a long dress with "ribbons" (I used yarn - again because I couldn't find the ribbon!) tied onto the sleeves and a fabric scarf on her head.

FI♥AR Cooking: Medieval Meat Pies, Fruit Pies, & "Honey Mead"

We had a Medieval supper (not an all out feast). Pies were eaten in the Middle Ages, so we made two kinds. Our "meat pie" was a homemade chicken pot pie. The fruits pies were crescent rolls rolled flat, cut into rectangles, filled with fruit filling, and then folded over and the edges pressed with a fork before baking. Our little fruit pies were like "pasties" which were handy for traveling.

The "Honey Mead" - a sweet drink to go with our meal,

was my version of Trim Healthy Mama's Good Girl Moon Shine: ginger, truvia, lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, ice and water. The kids really liked it! I add tumeric to mine (pictured). So refreshing! {and slimming!}

The raw apple cider vinegar gave it a fermented taste (as it was in the Middle Ages). I explained that in the Middle ages spices were very costly. We learned that a pound of ginger was worth 1 sheep and a pound of nutmeg traded for 7 oxen. So, we had ginger in ours, and I sprinkled it with nutmeg on top.

And Eliana made (all by herself) a "lovely light luscious delectable cake."

We served it with whipped cream and strawberries.

Lap Journal:

We were done with our row for two extra writing activities I included in our journal, but we used the book to do assignments for two products we are reviewing. One is Moving Beyond the Page and we wrote a Story Pyramid for Duchess Bakes a Cake (I wrote while they dictated to me.) The second one was for Write Shop E. Malachi is writing a fable and one activity was to make a familiar story into a fable (with a moral!). His moral was "follow good advice." We had fun with this!

And that's a wrap on our official school year. I have some reviews in the works, including Veritas Press' Self-Paced History, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation and Write Shop E (Malachi), a unit study on the Land, and a unit study on Sarah, Plain and Tall (Mali and Elli both). I chose the last two because they tie into Climbing Kansas Mountains! :D I wasn't really motivated to row it before. But, Moving Beyond the Page inspired me in many ways! The end of our unit study will be the start of our row. I'm hoping to row a few more books this summer to see how it goes. I'd like to try to do Volume 4 this coming school year, IF I can do some planning over the summer AND keep my rows simple.

Delightful Links: