Friday, August 28, 2015

Illuminating Literature:When Worlds Collide by Sharon Watson *Review

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Reading and enjoying literature  has long been difficult for my boys. I loved reading as a kid, journaling all the time, and writing poems just for fun. Not my boys. We have struggled and now that I have my third son struggling in 11th grade, I knew something needed to change. Just about this time Writing with Sharon Watson came up for potential review on the Crew. I told Mackinley, that maybe this would be a key for him this school year. 

We were sent 3 books;
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide (Student Book)
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide: Teacher's Guide
Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide: Quiz and Answer Manual

There is an additional book,  Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide:Novel Notebook (Free PDF Download) that we downloaded and had printed off. You don't have to print it off, you can use a regular notebook. I liked how the questions were right in the notebook though and it helped Mackinley having to track them down.

So what is Illuminating Literature?

It is a year program that takes a look at 8 classic pieces of literature;
Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
Peter Pan by Sir Jamie Barrie
Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

 Not all of these are Christian authors, but what I love about the Sharon Watson program is that she is a Christian and the focus is on "analyzing the stories to sort the wheat from the chaff".

The theme for this series is conflict, thus the title "When Worlds Collide".

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

The first three lessons explain what literature is, in easy to understand terms. There was an evaluation at the front to check off reasons you are doing this study. And so you know what I am having to work with.. my son checked off "I need this course to graduate", and "I'll get in trouble with my parent or teacher if I don't read this stuff". Here is to praying his love of literature will get better by the end of this course!

Pudd'nhead Wilson was our first book. Sharon Watson was gracious enough to include this and the second book in our review materials. We learned a little about the author first which I think Mackinley enjoyed. He hadn't realized some of the facts about him, and I think it was helpful to start off with a fun author like Mark Twain that the kids will recognize.

It takes 4 weeks to finish the Pudd'nhead section. The first week was learning about some literary terms, the author, and how to use the novel notebook. I am encouraging Mackinley to take notes, to write in his book, and highlight things he likes or dislikes to remember later. I too am going to read each of these books so we can have intellectual conversations about them. I find that to be really important as he is more of a verbal learning rather than writing everything down. Having that banter back and forth as we read chapters will be very helpful. Some days he is simply reading a couple chapters for class. Other days he is writing notes in his novel journal. And then additional days he is actually answering questions in his Illumination Literature book.

Weeks two and three were primarily reading and taking notes. Week four is when we choose an activity to coincide with the book. The book is completely read and we move on to doing something fun with it. (well in the teacher's mind at least). Week for also includes a vocabulary test, some essay questions on conflict, and discussion questions.

We have not finished the activity section yet. I had hoped to get to it in the review time, but we just didn't. I am planning to give him a solid week to finish the project. Many of them involve writing and that is another struggle for him. I want to be able to take the time to really help him do a good essay, and not just jot down notes.

This program has been wonderful for us. We have incorporated it into his 11th grader year and it will be required for him to finish it. Some of our review items we just review for a time and then shelf them until they are needed. Not with Illuminating Literature. It is that good! This will additionally be one we do for the kids coming up the pipeline as well. Sharon Watson has really done an excellent job with making this a fun, easy on the teacher study.

Bonus for me too, I get to read 8 books this school year!!

I really hope to let you know how the other books work out for us as well.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Off to College they Go...

We dropped our oldest off at Eater Kentucky University this past weekend. I feel truly blessed that we got 2 extra years with him as he chose to get his AA degree at our local community college. We had him for 2 years to continue to grow in his faith and with our family.
He is ready for the next adventure as he moved in to his dorm room, working toward his BA in Graphic Design.

 We are blessed that he is only just over an hour away so he will be home often. The next 2 weekends actually! See I am blessed. He loves his family and the little siblings so I figured he won't go long before coming home. He does know how to do laundry, but why bother if you can bring it home and eat great meals while he is here.

 My 18 year old also started school today. We are blessed that he is going to Eastern as well, but at a satellite  campus and is commuting . I don't think we will get 2 whole years out of him, but at least we are getting this sememster as he takes a few of his general eduation credits and saves a bit of money by living at home.

I need to get his picture as well!!

Here is to a great Fall semester to my 2 oldest!! May God continue to use them as a light for Him.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Horizons Phonics and Reading Grade 1 AOP *Review

Alpha Omega Review

Alpha Omega Publications has been a constant in our homeschool career. We started out with their Life Pac program and moved into Switched on School house. Alpha Omega Publications is multi faceted with a variety of programs to help the homeschool family. I had never tried Horizons and was excited to try it out with Maverick, who is struggling with his reading.

We opted to try Horizons 1st Grade Phonics & Reading Set even though Maverick is just starting 2nd grade. I'm really glad we didn't aim further because this was enough of a challenge for him. He is behind, but the repetition in Horizons is extremely helpful.
Alpha Omega Review
When I first saw the reader, and the amount of words for him I panicked! Then I read in the teacher guide that the student doesn't read it on his own until about the 40th lesson..(wipes off forehead). Had me worried there because there weren't too many words he would know. I chose to pick out 2 words in each story that seemed repeated and had him read those words when my finger was under it. He enjoyed it and it kept his interest in the story. The story is only 2 or 3 pages long, very short. There are comprehension questions at the end as well. This helped me see if he was paying attention.

The teacher guide has everything you need to teach your lesson. Horizons is very teacher friendly. For those who enjoy the traditional kind of schooling, this really will match up perfectly. Very similar to what they use in traditional Christian schools. We don't tend to be traditional in many things, but with our struggles in reading I found that we needed to go back to 'old school' methods to work on phonics and reading with a lot of repetition.

Each lesson has several worksheets. The student starts out writing beginning, ending and middle sounds of the objects. Using upper and lower case letters. Then we started learning short vowel sounds and moving into long vowel sounds. The lessons were colorful and had a variety that helped Maverick stay engaged. We weren't always able to get through the 3 or 4 pages in the lesson so we would just continue the next day. I didn't want to overwhelm him and sometimes 4 workbook pages was a bit too much. For the first 10 lessons, only 2 pages involved writing, and the other 2 would be reading pages using the new sounds that were learned. We tried to do at least one written and one reading one per lesson. There were days when he seemed more focused and we could get through the entire lesson. Other days his mind was off somewhere else so we did half and came back to it either later the same day or the next day.
Later after lesson 10 there were typically 3 or 4 pages of written work. He scoffed at that so we had to scale back some. He isn't a big book work kind of kid. Sometimes I would do the writing for the last page to give him a break, and so we could get through the lesson.

There are 160 lessons and 16 tests so 176 days if you do one daily. We have a 180 day school year so we need to try to work through an entire lesson per day.

There are 2 student workbooks and readers along with the teacher guide. This gives you a full year of Horizon Phonics and Reading. The workbooks are consumable but you would be able to reuse the readers and teacher guide for further students.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Grandma Kisses Board Book *Review & Giveaway

by Laura Neutzling
Illustrated by Cee Biscoe

This book is a perfect gift for a new Grandma to be! What do your kids love about going to Grandma's house? Unfortunately we live far away from our relatives and my kids haven't gotten to experience going to Grandma's house very often in their lives. They tend to come to us more than we to them with our larger family. Grandmas are still super special and this book helps my little ones remember and think about their Grandmas

This board book is perfect for newborn to age 4 and will share all about the love of Grandmas. From elephants, zebras, mice, dogs and more, they learn that Grandmas come in all shapes and sizes. Grandma's hugs are the best along with her time to share and play. Grandma's joke and play hide and seek. I love the one with Grandma bear rocking the cub and reading stories from her Bible. Baking cookies, prayers before bed, and of course Grandma Kisses!

Jurnee is really into books lately. Only 9 months old, but if she sees anyone with a book she wants it. What a fun age to watch her looking at the pages as we read to her. This board book is the perfect length for her attention span.
I look forward to holding on to this book for when my own children have kids! Then I get to be Grandma, reading to them and sharing.

Enter to win a copy from Thomas Nelson below! US only. Ends August 22

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Friday, August 14, 2015

The Apologetics Study Bible for Students HCSB *Review & Giveaway

Can I have too many Bibles? Not in my opinion. There are countries where the Bible isn't allowed and people seek to see even a torn out page of it. I plan to exercise my right and desire to own as many different Bibles as I can, in the hopes that I can give them to others who don't have one.
Not all Bibles are the same either. They are interpretations of Ancient, Holy Spirit inspired text. Some people prefer one translation over another, or prefer to use the same version that their pastor preaches from. I love comparing the different versions. Though similar, their might be a word change that helps me understand God's meaning better. This Apologetics Study Bible for Students uses the HCSB version. Holman Christian Standard Bible.
So why the need for yet another translation?
  • Each generation needs a fresh translation of the Bible in it's own language
  • English, one of the world's greatest languages is rapidly changing, and Bible translations must keep in step with those changes
  • Rapid advances in biblical research provide new data for Bible translators
  • Advances in computer technology have opened a new door for Bible translation
(From the HCSB Bible)

Apologetics helps believers explain why they believe what they do. Being prepared with Biblical answers will help people who are seeking answers to some of the tough questions about God. This Apologetics Study Bible helps the student prepare their own learning, and helps them learn how to share the truth with others.

Some excellent features of this Bible are;

Book Introductions for each of the 66 books. Who wrote it, when, where.. some of the basics to help the student formulate a timeline

"cheater tabs" to mark the books of the Bible. Yeah I call them that because I prefer my kids memorize them! It is helpful when the pastor is whipping through a variety of passages :)

 I love this Bone and Dirt section where they show actual pictures of archaeological digs and sites as they may have been in Bible times. Additionally on the left there is an example of the Twisted Scriptures  that helps to show how some other religions twist the word to support their errant ways, going against what the true scripture says.

There are over 20 personal stories by authors and speakers like Ravi Zacharias. These are just for encouraging and helping you as you dig into the word.

120 articles by Christian thinkers today give you a look at some of the questions that arise in Apologetics. Some of the questions we get asked as believers. These are from reputable authors and speakers. Remembering that this is in addition to the word, and not to be a replacement, but an opinion and personal reflection.

Learn more about the HCSB Bible and how they have formed their translation HERE

Be sure to check out the website to see 16 videos in 16 weeks with Sean McDowell. The current week #6 is on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is a great place to get extra information on some of the things you wonder about in the word!

"The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are a cache approximately 1,100 ancient texts written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Among these are over 220 biblical manuscripts dating from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D., representing every book of the OT except Esther. Muhammad Ed-Dhib, a young goat herder from the Ta’amirah Bedouin tribe, discovered the first DSS in 1947 when he was searching for his lost goat among the arid limestone caves at Qumran overlooking the shores of the Dead Sea. Subsequent excavations of 11 nearby caves by Pere Roland de Vaux from 1951 through 1956 yielded a variety of Jewish literature, yet nothing compared to the initial discovery of a complete copy of the book of Isaiah dating to 125 B.C. Learn more about Apologetics and how God has revealed Himself throughout history, by visiting "

These are really interesting and you can check out the archive for any you might have missed. Be sure to check out great Bible apps and free Bible studies as well. All a part of the Confident Faith series.

Confident Faith Sweepstakes is being offered to give away Bibles, free mini libraries of B&H's best apologetics resources and even a trip for two to the National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA) being held October 16-17, 2015 in Charlotte, NC where some of the world's leading thinkers will offer insights and teaching. Enter HERE

Here on A Year of Jubilee Reviews we are offering a copy of the Apologetics Study Bible for Students in a #giveaway!!
US and Canada
Ends August 22

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
Buy a copy for your new students this year! Purchase from Lifeway

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Count my Blessings A fit-together shapes book *Review & Giveaway

 Even our youngest little ones can see and count the blessings that God has given us. This adorable fit-together shape book gives them something fun to trace and feel with their fingers. More than just a flat surface, it is stimulating to their learning process. Jurnee loves her Count my Blessings book from Tommy Nelson. Good enough to eat it!!

Young children are into touching everything with their hands and mouths. This board book makes it fun for her to do both. She loved getting her hands on the pictures and having me read her the blessings as we turned the pages.

She can learn to thank God for her basic needs. For food, clothing, friends, pets and love. I love how it keeps it simple and fun. Jurnee loved the pictures of the kids that stuck up from the picture. 

Enter to win a copy for your little one!
Ends Aug 21
US only

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