Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Great Covenant Review

My family has been using Classical Academic Press materials since David started Latin for Children in fifth grade; so when I got the opportunity to review their new Bible study program I jumped at the chance.  God's Great Covenant - Old Testament 1 (GGC) is the first in a four part Bible survey for Grammar Stage (Elementary aged) children.  The two volumes covering the Old Testament are currently available.

In addition to the Student text and Teacher's Materials text, I was sent the GGC 1 maps and timeline materials.  These caught Abigail's eye immediately.  They are full color with the kind of 3-D graphics familiar to anyone who has used Song School Latin or Song School Greek.

The timeline offers a completed version, or a blank version that you can build as you go along.  They are back to back and if you tape the timeline to the wall, leaving the base unsecured, you can flip it up and see the reverse as needed.  All of the same graphics and text blocks on the completed side of the timeline, are on a poster sized sheet, ready to be cut out and put on the blank timeline.

The format of GGC is similar to that of LfC with a memory page, story/ student instruction page, worksheet and a quiz in each weekly chapter.

The memory page lists the Bible passages covered that week, scripture that should be read to the child, main points, the definitions for new concepts or vocabulary and a "who is God" note that sums up a truth about God covered in the lesson.

The bible story is told in a casual, narrative style appropriate for a grammar stage child.  The narrative continues to relate things back to the covenants and to the child himself.  Break out boxes titled "Jesus in the Old Testament" point out where Jesus shows up or is referenced in the OT.

The activities on the review worksheets vary week to week and worksheet loving kids will have a lot of fun with this.  Most of the worksheet activities can be done orally to accommodate children still learning to write, or those who are just allergic to their pencils.

In general we are really enjoying this program.  My biggest complaint is about the quiz page.  It is fine to use as another workbook page, which may be the most appropriate use considering the youth of the target audience, but it isn't practical as a test.  The quiz pages are bound into the student text right next to the worksheet page, sometimes facing it.  I would love it is CAP would clarify the intent of the Quiz page in their teacher's materials, or put the quizzes in the back, perforated so that they can be removed and used separately from the student text.

My favorite part of this program is the teacher's materials text.  Small versions of the student text are surrounded by notes to the parent/teacher.  I love having these notes!  In depth notes keyed to the different sections in the student text offer a higher level of understanding and background for the teacher.  These gave me a lot of confidence in discussing the scripture passages and historical context of the stories with my daughter.  Nearly every page also has space for the parent/teacher to write in their own notes.  I can jot down my thoughts or ideas and they will be there waiting when I use this again for my younger child.  No more lost post-it notes!

Applicable questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism are listed in the Teacher's notes for each chapter.  While I think that this is nice, I would have liked to have known that it was there and gotten each of my children their own copy of the WSC for reference.  It is not mentioned in the student text and could be skipped if desired.

I would really like to see a little information at the beginning of the Teacher's Material's text describing how to use each section.  What should we do with the Catechism questions? Which sections of the memory page are most important to really memorize?  Are the quizzes just a more advanced worksheet, or a test?  This kind of teacher "how-to" would be invaluable.

God's Great Covenant is an excellent bible survey for Grammar staged students and I think it could be comfortably used by most Christians.  It is not an in-depth study of a particular book, but if a general overview is what you are looking for this may be just the thing.  The beautiful timeline materials and maps really draw in the kids' attention and interesting narrative keeps it.  This is almost exactly what I was looking for in a classical, grammar stage Bible program.  I think homeschoolers and classroom teachers, classical or not, will enjoy having this program to use with their students.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekly Report November 8th - 12th

David - 

David is full swing into Nanowrimo and his story is great!  I can't wait to read the rest of it.  Keeping up with his required word count has been tough but we are taking a week off of school for Thanksgiving and I think that time will be used heavily for Nano.

He is discovering that eighth grade is challenging and he really has to think more deeply about his reading and writing.  He will be ready for High School by next Fall but it won't always be an easy ride.  We are studying Modern history this year and there are a lot of difficult subjects to deal with.  We are chugging away at our study of Daniel and it is getting interesting.  Really he wants to study Revelations, but Daniel needs to come first.

David has gotten caught up on some other work here this week and is looking forward to the Jr. High all nighter at church.  It sounds like it will be a blast.  I expect he will sleep most of Saturday.  I wonder if I should remind him that he has to be up for school that day?

Abigail -

Abby had a three day school week due to Veteran's day so we are taking advantage of these two days to get in some spelling, math, Latin and Bible.  We recently started using God's Great Covenant and she is really liking it.  She also picked up Latin for Children off the shelf and plugged in the dvd one day.  I will need to get her her own workbook soon since for now she is just erasing David's old one and using it.  Maybe for Christmas. Much of the vocabulary is familiar from our previous Latin studies so she gets to mostly concentrate on the grammar which is a good thing, since there is little grammar practice in the public school.

It sure make things busy but I love having all of my kids home and learning!

Miriam - 

Mim did some reading earlier this week but the past couple of days she has just wanted to do some math.  I can tell she is going to want color and variety in her math program though, so I think we will be shifting over to Singapore for her after Primer is done.  I will still use techniques from MUS as well as Singapore but she is my colorful girly-girl and the black on white of MUS just isn't her thing right now.

Last night she decided she wanted to do her "write-handing book" otherwise known as "handwriting".  This is a preschool Handwriting Without Tears book and is meant to be done in crayon.  It is perfect for Miriam because she loves to color right now.  She was tracing all of the letters and then coloring the pictures while I got to hand her the right crayons and be her color consultant.  I am glad I was right there because she started using a hook motion when making the letter C and I was able to correct it.  I have never seen a right-handed child do that but I sure want to avoid the habit.  She was on a roll and did several pages until I realized that it was past her bedtime!

Yesterday we made play dough and that is always fun.  She wanted red but it turned out a kind of pinkish orange.  Good thing she's not picky!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Weekly Report

This week David is on vacation with his mom.  We miss him!

Mim is doing Preschool though.  Today we spent hanging out with Grandma Debbie and she even got to preside over a reading Lesson for Miriam.  Mim thought that was great.  Tomorrow we start a new FIAR book called Lentil by Robert McCloskey.  He is the author of Blueberries of Sal and Make Way for Ducklings so while I haven't read Lentil yet, I am pretty excited.

Only in Oregon

Today Mim peers up into the overcast Oregon sky and asks "Mama, what is that white thing?"

I follow her gaze to a dim circle high above and answer, "The Sun, sweetheart, it's the Sun".

Fall has returned to the North West.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Foster Lake

Christina, Miriam and I took the "Davidite" (our new-to-us Catalina 22 sailboat) to Foster Lake today to stretch her sails a bit. This was the first time we have sailed her, so it was an exciting trip. The fall weather is moving in, so today was the last opportunity to sail without rain for at least a few weeks - a good excuse to take a vacation day. 

All the reservoirs are draining their water right now, many are closed to boats completely, but one ramp on Foster is still open - though the water is low enough it makes getting down the dock ramp quite interesting. 

The "Davidite" sails great - she was up at "hull speed" a good amount of time, with a fairly gentle wind. 


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hello to 'Davidite'

As you know, we love sailing. It's both adventurous and relaxing at the same time. And you get to be in the middle of God's creation, right there on your own boat. Our daysailer has been a great way to learn to sail, but it's time for a boat we can overnight on.

This week we purchased a Catalina 22, in great condition, and for an excellent price. It was built October, 1976 - the month and year of my own birthday. And it's named the "Davidite" - in honor of the previous owners father (a fellow we know from church!), and fits right into our family as David is the name of my own father and son.

First business was troubleshooting the outboard which wouldn't run past idle. I spent most of the weekend pulling the head off, pulling the valves and giving them a good cleaning, checking all the gaps, replacing the gaskets and putting it all back together. In the end it looks like it was electrical trouble - I have it running better now, not completely smooth, but after a few more parts arrive it should be purring.

After that it was time to practice rigging the boat. Pretty neat boat - Double backstay with downhaul. Folding rudder. Main sail with ratcheting main sheet blocks, reefing system and traveler. Jib halyard lead to cockpit with jack for tightening, and winches for each jib sheet. 150% Genoa, Jib, and Storm Jib. Nice anchor off the front pulpit. Steaming and night lights. And a new paint job that makes running it all look great.

Inside is a tight but practical cabin. On a nice evening we may be able to camp together as a family on the boat. But for the most part I see taking one or two kids out at a time for a night or two together. A pop-top extends the headroom while anchored, and an included boom tent will keep the cockpit area fairly dry as well in the northwest drizzle.

The kids have been hanging out on the boat these last few days while I've been working on the outboard.

It would be nice to get this out on the water one or two times before winter hits, but mostly we are looking forward to the spring and starting some overnight sailing trips on the Columbia or a few long weekends up in the Puget Sound area.

Over the winter we'll be getting our Interlake 18 ready for sale - I'll miss her beautiful lines, big sails, and easy setup - the Interlake can't be beat for a day sailor! Almost everywhere I take her I get comments from total strangers. The Catalina won't bring that sort of attention, but I am looking forward to short "cruises" aboard our Davidite.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekly Report October 3-8th

This week we went on our first real field trip - to Bauman Farms!  David, Miriam and I joined 50 other homeschoolers to see cider being pressed (and taste some!), go on a hayride and pick out pumpkins.  After that the group stayed and played.

Bauman has a kid's hay maze, a totally dark maze, a giant tube slide, climbing wall, apple catapult, playground, hay bales to climb and even an acorn pit (like a ball pit).  The zip line isn't open during the week but we still had a great time with all of our friends.

I organized it this year and I think I will do it again next year, but with a few changes.  Now that I know how things go it will be smoother next time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Puget Sound

Christina and I just finished a lovely week-long trip all to ourselves! (Thanks so much to grandma's, grandpa's, aunts and uncles for sharing the kids while we were away. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!)

On the way up to the San Juan Islands we stopped in Seattle for the Boats Afloat show on Lake Union. I wanted to get a look at some of the "bigger" sailboats. In the "it's only $100,000...used" range here is a beautiful 28' Alerion Express.

Christina making sure the galley of a 50' Beneteau fits her style.

We took the opportunity to hop on board a $1.5 Million yacht. Might as well, right? Designed only to sleep two couples and a crew - needless to say, it was beautifully crafted throughout.

Then on to Anacortes for a ferry ride over to Orcas Island. Just as the sun was setting we arrived at our home for the next week - a lovely cabin on the beach at West Beach Resort. Beautiful. Relaxing. Refreshing.

Our fire pit kept us warm late into the evenings, where we could watch the tide go out, ships pass between the islands and Canada, and the stars bright overhead. 

A few times we saw a family of otters playing on the dock at the resort.

We hopped over to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island for a day of seeing the sites, enjoying the restaurants, browsing the book stores, and showing Christina where my grandparents used to live when I was a kid.

It was hard to say goodbye to West Beach Resort, but we still had a few more "travel" days yet on our trip. Driving down the Olympic Peninsula (after waiting nearly five hours in ferry lines!) I surprised my Twilight fanatic of a wife with an overnight stop in Forks, staying at the official house of the Cullens.

No worries, the entire Twilight series is on the bedstand of the room... just in case you need to brush up on your twi-facts before bed.

Bella's truck... of course!

Before Twilight came along, Forks would impress visitors with their big tree. It is a big tree. But it doesn't sparkle like Edward.

Back to driving down 101, through strangely named towns like "Humptulips" (are you serious?) and "Cosmopolis" (The future mega-city that never made it past the village state?).

And a dinner stop in Astoria, where we have great memories of our previous vacation together a few years back.

This was a first for us - a full week to ourselves, just to relax and play. It was an amazing trip!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Five little birdies...

After the first batch of birds in our nest box grew up and flew the nest we thought the box would be empty for the remainder of the year. Yet within a few weeks we started hearing little tweets from the nesting box again. Sure enough, five new chicks hanging out on our front porch. One received his first flying lesson yesterday, probably the guy here in the front of the nest: (the other four are huddled behind, facing the back of the nest).

First Corn

We harvested our first batch of corn, our "Earlive" variety, over the weekend. Looking forward to the even juicier varieties later in the summer!

Friday, July 30, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird

This literary classic is fifty years old and it happens to be one of David's assigned literature books this year so I have had my nose in it for the past week or so. Can you believe that I never read this in school? It was one option on a list of possibilities in Sophomore English. At the time, I picked "The Chosen", which is also excellent by the way. I really can't believe how much utter crud we read in those honors English classes when we should have been assigned things like this. That is another post though.

David will read it toward the end of our school year and then we will watch the movie together. I am really excited about the movie, but holding off until I can see it with him.

If you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, or if it is a distant memory from High School, take this time to reacquaint yourself with a classic as it turns fifty.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting Ready for School

This year we are delving into the realm of computer based lesson planning and grade tracking. With David in eighth grade this year I figure it is a trial run for Fall 2011 when grades and transcripts really count. A few years ago I actually purchased a computer based planning software but it was tedious to enter everything and frustrating to use. The user interface was terrible, and that is something not taken lightly here.

Now I have found Homeschool Skedtrack. With only a couple of afternoons of work I have most of David's work for the year entered and so far I didn't want to throw the computer out the window even once! It was really simple to use and you can't beat the price - Free. An added bonus for us is that it is online so David can access his school assignments no matter where he is. I'm not sure he sees this as a beneficial thing, but his parents sure do.

So far I have entered:

Apologia Physical Science
Mapping the World by Heart
Lively Latin 2
History Odyssey
Memory Work
Writing Strands

This week I ordered Rod and Staff Grammar 7 and Argument Builder as well as our Bible study for this year so those will be entered when they get here. I also have some photocopies to make and two more literature books to read, but otherwise we are ready to go.

School Starts August 18th!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Produce Aisle

The garden was a little more than frustrating early in the season, and everything is running late, but it is now starting to grow produce. I took this journal video last week:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sailing Fern Ridge

Last Sunday I enjoyed an afternoon of sailing on Fern Ridge with mom. It was a beautiful day with just the two of us along with my dogs, Morpheus and Switch.

The water was warm and the sun hot so we did a bit of swimming as well. Morpheus (first picture below) doesn't much care for the water, but Switch turns out to be a great swimmer.