Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ten Girls From History Ebook - A Review

Ten Girls From History Ebook - $12

Ten Girls From History Printed Book - $20

Ten Girls From History MP3 Audio - $20

By Kate Dickinson Sweetser, Edited by Amy Puetz

Published by Golden Prairie Press

Ages 10 and Up

Table of Contents and some sample pages...

About Amy Puetz:
Amy is a homeschool graduate and the owner of Golden Prairie Press.  She is the author of several history-related books and the publisher of a bi-monthly e-zine, "Heroines of the Past."

About Ten Girls from History (from the website):
Prepare to befriend ten of the bravest girls of history! Whether facing a band of Indians with Madeleine; or saving lives at sea with Ida Lewis; or experiencing the battlefields of the Civil War with Clara Barton, you will be inspired by their faith, courage, and devotion.

Girls of all ages will enjoy meeting these ten remarkable girls from the past, and parents will appreciate the godly examples found in these pages. Both inspirational and entertaining, this book will bring history alive for your family.

Each chapter dramatizes the life and accomplishments of these ten girls:

Louisa May Alcott: Author of Little Women
Clara Barton: The Angel of the Battlefield
Molly Pitcher: The Brave Gunner of the Battle of Monmouth
Cofachiqui: An Indian Princess
Madeleine De Vercheres: The Heroine of Castle Dangerous
Dorothy Quincy: A Girl of the American Revolution
Ida Lewis: The Heroine of Lime Rock Lighthouse
Elizabeth Van Lew: The Girl who Risked all for the Union
Virginia Reed: Midnight Heroine of the Plains
Clara Morris: The Girl who Won Fame as an Actress

Prices on website reflect discount

Other products are available at the online store, including the America the Beautiful history curriculum.

Our Thoughts:

This is the way that I like to teach history, with living books and biographies.  I'm not a fan of textbooks, as far as history goes.  I would rather learn about history from the people who have a passion for it, from people who have a thorough knowledge of the subject they are writing about.

This book is a good choice because it tells about young girls who have done great things.  You not only learn about what they did, but a little about their character and their thought processes. This is inspiring for my three daughters.  It helps show them that you don't have to wait until you are all grown-up to do great things, to make a difference.  

The book has an interesting mix of girls in the stories.  Some we have heard of before, but definitely could use the reminder . . . girls like Clara Barton.  Others' names were brand new to us and learning of their challenges and victories was a new journey of learning for us . . . girls like Madeleine De Vercheres of the Castle Dangerous.

The book includes pictures, a glossary, and a timeline.

I have been enjoying the stories and so have my daughters.  We reviewed the Ebook, and I used it as a read-aloud off of my phone.  I took turns letting my daughters pick the order in which to read about the ten girls.  Of course, my 13 year old picked the Castle Dangerous first.  I had a feeling she would since it mentioned a castle.  What a great story about a very brave girl, and the castle truly was dangerous.  My 11 year old picked a story about a childhood actress, not surprising since both of my daughters are involved in drama.  What an inspiring story of a young girl who pulls herself up out of the ashes of poverty.

There are several other books in this series.  I look forward to reading them along with my children.  I can't express the importance of books like these any better than the original author herself.  

"My first aim in bringing the lives of these ten girls from history
to the attention of the girls of today has been to inspire them to like
deeds of patriotism and courage. Second only to that purpose is a
desire to make young Americans realize as they read these true
stories of achievement along such widely varying lines of work,
that history is more thrilling than fiction, and that if they will turn
from these short sketches to the longer biographies from which the
facts of these stories have been taken, they will find interesting and
absorbing reading.
May the book accomplish its twofold object, and so justify its
publication at this time of the testing of all true Americans."
Kate Dickinson Sweetser
August 1, 1917

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers - A Review

Mr. Pipes & the British Hymn Makers

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers - Ebook - $8.79

Book Format - $9.89

 by Douglas Bond

 from Christian Liberty Press

List of British Hymn Makers Covered in this Book

Book Description (from the website) -
"This first book in the series by Douglas Bond tells the story of two teens who, while on vacation in England, are befriended by an elderly English gentlemen called Mr. Pipes. Through this relationship they learn about famous British hymn writers. They also learn about the value of traditional worship and praise." 

Our Thoughts -
Last spring, my daughters participated in a musical about some of the more well-known hymn writers of the past, writers like Fanny Crosby and Isaac Watts.  It was neat to learn the stories behind the songs, to learn about the writers who had penned the words. So when I saw what this book was about, I thought it would be really neat to continue the study of more hymn writers.  I hoped to be picked for this review and was glad when I was.

"Mr. Pipes" is a charming story written in 1999.  Two teens are spending the summer in England.  The brother expects it to be a bore.  The sister is always the optimist, looking for an adventure.  Then they meet Mr. Pipes, the local church organist, and he turns their summer upside down, opening their eyes to the beauty of nature, music, and the simple life.   While sharing his world with them, he also shares fascinating stories of some of Britain's most popular hymn makers, including Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley.

Things I like about this story:

1.  It makes a great read-aloud, which is how we used it.

2. It is wholesome and G-Rated.  I didn't have to worry about what might be said or what the characters might do.

3. This story focuses on the simple life.  In our high tech world, it is nice to be reminded that we can have a great day without any of those gadgets.  Playing the piano, going fishing, even having a cup of tea with friends.

4.  Although the book includes hymns that many of us have known all of our lives, it makes us stop and really listen to the words.  Think about Isaac Watts' words, "such a worm as I".  Have you ever stopped to think about just how lowly that is?  We are as lowly as a worm; yet, Jesus still died for us.

5.  Along the same lines, the book also teaches about the hymn writers.  It is nice to know the authors on a more personal level.  To know who they were and what they were like and what challenges they faced.  How they came to be hymn writers.

I find this to be a charming story on so many levels.  While at the same time, being very educational.  This book makes a great history lesson and also a great music appreciation course.

 Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Vocabulary Spelling City - A Review


Vocabulary Spelling City

K-12th grade

$29.99/Year for up to 5 children
(Some free services are also available)

Here is a comparison of the FREE and PREMIUM services

Helpful training videos to get you started.
Bunches and bunches of learning games to choose from.


Their mission:
"Efficient game-based study of literacy skills using any word list."

About Vocabulary Spelling City: (from the website)
"VocabularySpellingCity is a free, interactive educational website that enables students of all ages and learning differences to practice their spelling and vocabulary words at home or at school while playing a variety of exciting learning games, all of which are compatible with interactive whiteboards and most of which are also printable!"

This video shows you about getting started with the Premium Membership.

What we thought about it:

At the end of this past school year, I told my husband that I wanted to find some sort of online game or app that would allow the girls to practice vocabulary.  Some sort of way to drill and review.  So when this website came up for review, I thought to myself (and said to my husband), "This is exactly the sort of thing I have been looking for.  This is what we need."  So I expressed my interest in reviewing this website and thankfully, was chosen to give it a try.  I chose to use it with my 10 year old daughter.

I wanted my daughters to get more practice both with vocabulary and with spelling.  This site does both.   Based either from a list I choose, or a list I MAKE, my daughter can use that list to do lots of thing.  She can practice spelling the words, defining the definition of the words, playing games to speed recognition. You can practice with flash cards and even have your child write well-structured sentences using the given words, that you can later score and comment on.

Several printable worksheets are available for your use, including handwriting practice sheets.  You can choose print or cursive...and you can even choose sign language!  How neat is that?

The section to practice writing is cute.  Your student will write a sentence using the selected word.  Then they can listen to the sentence being read back to them.   She can pick from 3 English voices.  But she can also choose to listen in French or Spanish.  My daughter thought this was great fun.  She liked writing a sentence and then hearing it instantly translated into a foreign language.  It is useful for a student to hear someone else read back their work; it will help your child self-edit his work.

You can also assign paragraph writing exercises, even specifying what type, such as a poem.  Another neat feature...you can pre-select helpful insturctional videos for your child to watch during the writing exercises, such as "Topic Sentence" and "Supporting Details".

The provided word lists are really neat.  It isn't just random vocabulary word lists.  You can search by category and grade.  For example, I can select the following...
Science, then
High School Grades, then
Ecology, then
Climate/Weather, then I receive my prepared word list below.  Pretty neat, huh?


Lots of games are available.  A really neat one lets you choose a classic novel, and then fill in the missing words in sentences.


Teacher resources abound on the site.  Printables, Videos, Articles, Word Lists.


The customizable teacher/parent section is a nice feature.  Here you can set up new students, assign lessons to one or multiple children, view progress and scores, comment on writing practice, etc.


I am so thankful we learned of this site.  It is exactly what I was looking and hoping for.  VSC suggests that just 10 minutes a day can improve grades.  I am looking forward to my 13 and 10 year old daughters continuing to use this program in the coming school year.  In my opinion, $29.99 for up to 5 children is a great bargain.  One can easily spend that much on one restaurant visit.

 Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Education - A Review

PhotobucketA Thomas Jefferson Education

Thomas Jefferson Education is designed to encourage parents to teach the
"old-fashioned" way; to teach the way that worked and created great leaders.  It is a wealth of information.  I have only touched the tip of the iceberg and look forward to delving even deeper.  I wish I had this kind of inspiration when I first started homeschooling years ago.  Oliver and Rachel DeMille are the founders of this great resource.

Some of the neat things about the site are their newsletters, delivering inspiration right to your inbox.
- Daily INSPIRE emails
- Monthly INSPIRE newsletter

From their site, you can learn some of their basic principles.
"7 Keys of Great Teaching
There are seven principles of successful education. When they are applied, learning occurs for any learning style or interests. When they are ignored or rejected, the quantity and quality of education decreases.

  1. Classics, Not Textbooks
  2. Mentors, Not Professors
  3. Inspire, Not Require
  4. Structure Time, Not Content
  5. Simplicity, Not Complexity
  6. Quality, Not Conformity
  7. You, Not Them"


TJED.org also has a paid subscription called 
This Week in History for $9.99/month.  This is what I was asked to use and review.

You may VIEW SAMPLE WEEKS.  It is a great way to get a feeling of exactly what "This week in history" is all about.  Topics range from the serious (such as the Purple Heart Medal) to the silly (such as Silly Putty) to the helpful (such as CPR)

TWIH is delivered right to your inbox on a weekly basis.  It has a list of things that happened for each day of that week.  It lists dates, events, pictures, links, and extra activities for further study and enjoyment.  You choose how little or how much to do.  You can use it just as a quick introduction to history each day, briefly stating what happened on this date.  Or you can take it and run with it, using all the extra ideas and links for your history lesson of the day.  Or you might find one subject of great interest to your family and stay on that subject for the week, turning it into a mini unit-study.

I have used a book in the past that lists important historical events for each day in the school year.  We would start our history lesson by briefly reading down the list of events for that day.  But TWIH takes it so much further.  It is right there in your inbox, waiting on you.  It has clickable links to more information.  And the email includes lots of great ideas for further study.

This feature could be great for you, if your history lessons need a jump-start...if you want a break from the traditional textbook...if you are looking for a pre-made unit study...or if you simply just want to add an interesting fact of the day at the beginning of each school morning.


But please remember that as wonderful as "This Week In History" is, it is just a part of the overall service that Thomas Jefferson Education provides.  Take some time to explore their site and check out all the information, advice, and wisdom related to "an educational philosophy and a methodology by which great individuals throughout history have been educated."


In my opinion this is a wonderful investment, at $9.99/month.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

King Alfred's English - A Review


Recommended for ages 12 - Adult

Sample Page from Book


About the Book (from the website)

Do you remember the first time you looked under the hood of a car or popped off the back of an electric toy to see the inner workings? Well, most of us go through our entire life speaking a highly complex and organized set of sounds we call language without ever getting a glimpse under its hood. So come have a look at some of the hidden springs and gears that have steered and energized English over the centuries. King Alfred’s English provides a guided tour of forces and events, conquerors and writers that have shaped, simplified, matured and expanded English into what it is today—the first truly global language in history.

The capstone of the book is the story of how we got the Bible in English and it’s influence upon our language.
  • What were the driving ideas behind the Reformation?
  • Are the New Testament documents really reliable and how do they compare to other ancient manuscripts?
  • Why was translating the Bible into English punishable by death?
  • …and what does all THAT have to do with the history of English?
Laurie White has provided a lot of information on the website concerning this book:

See the Table of Contents
Read the 1st Chapter
Further study for your student
Teacher resources (worksheets, tests, etc.)

And how great is this? There is enough supplemental material to earn credit for a full semester (one half unit) of history, or a 1/4 unit history plus 1/4 unit English.


Our Thoughts:

When I first read the title of this book, I thought...hmm, sounds boring.  Then I read the description of the book with my husband, and we both thought...hmm, this could be interesting.  So I signed up to read it myself.  Even though the age range is 12 years and up, I didn't think my daughters were ready for it.  I decided it would be difficult for them to follow and therefore, they wouldn't get much out of it...as of yet.

So I have been reading it on my own and I really am enjoying it.  I still think it would be a bit much for my 10 and 13 year olds, but I am fascinated with this in-depth history of the English language and think it should be a must-read for my 13 year old in just a few short years.

I have learned SO MUCH that I didn't know before, things which no one has ever taught me.  This just wasn't something that was covered during my school years.  But I think it should have been.  It is such an eye-opener to the history of England and the background of the English language and how it came to be that the Holy Bible was translated in English.  On a side note, the Catholic Church was very resistant to the idea of the Holy Bible being written in any language other than Latin.  They felt it could be detrimental to put the Bible into the hands of ordinary folk; they pondered if common folk would cause more harm than good if left to their own interpretations of the Holy Scripture.  Translating the Bible was a punishable crime.

Things make more sense to me now.  Things such as why some of our words in English so closely resemble their counterpart in German (such as mother & mutter, and father & vater).  The book explains why several languages seem to have so many words or variations of words in common (for example,  English - anxious, German - √§ngstlich, Spanish - ansioso, French - anxieux).

"King Alfred's English" shares the lives of famous and influential people in English History, people like Saint Patrick who helped spread Christianity into Ireland and in turn into England. 

Laurie takes a huge in-depth topic and actually manages to explain it in a way that I can understand, in a way that doesn't make my head spin.  There are a lot of key events, topics, and people covered in this book; but Laurie handles it beautifully.  She breaks it down and continues with it in a way that makes sense to me, even though most of it is totally new to me.

I think this is an awesome book; I am very impressed not only with Laurie's knowledge of the topics, but also her obvious love of the topic and her ability to break it down in an understandable matter.  In a year or two, I will have my 13 year old also read this book.  It helps the English language/grammar make so much more sense.

I don't know what greater recommendation to give you than to tell you that I just ordered the print copy myself.  This is a book that I want on my bookshelf.

Interested in purchasing the softcover book?  Contact me!  For the first 5 people, I have a discount code to buy the softcover book at the wholesale price of 50% off, or $8.47.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop - Homeschool Co-Ops

Homeschool Co-Ops...to attend or to not attend.  That is the question.  And if you ask a dozen people for their opinion about co-ops, you will get a dozen different answers.  I, personally, am a fan of homeschool co-ops.  Not all are created equal and not all are a good match for my family.  But when I find one that works for us, I feel it is important to be an active member of the group.

For those who did attend, their reasons vary.  Some go to spend time with old friends and to make new friends.  Some go to cover core courses they find difficult to teach at home, such as science labs.  Others go for the opportunity to participate in large group activities, such as choir and drama.  And I'm sure there are many more reasons.

We attend co-op so that our children will have regularly scheduled time with friends.  It is nice to know that once a week they will be able to spend a few hours with kids they enjoy visiting with.  We also attend for the chance to participate in "extracurricular" activities: choir, drama, gym, etc.

We have attended co-ops, in some shape or form, for 8 years.  My daughters look forward to it and enjoy it.  They miss it when it is not in session.  So for now, it works for us.  If for some reason, it become more of a chore for them, than a joy, then we would reconsider.  Since my reason for going is for my daughters' enjoyment.

I also sometimes teach at co-op.  It gives me a chance to teach a class that my girls will enjoy, while making it more exciting for them, because they get to learn along with some friends.  My choices have ranged from the "13 original colonies" to "drama improv".

So what are your thoughts about co-ops?  Wouldn't want to live without them?  Don't want anything to do with them?  Participate every year?  Maybe only every other year?