Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Heart Heritage History, Always and Forever

Have you ever stumbled upon providence?

You know, that feeling you're tripping on your own shoestrings yet you wind up not in the gutter with scraped knees but in a springtime meadow with blossoms galore surrounding you, cradling your head like a sweetly scented pillow of awesomesauce?

This is exactly word for word my experience not long ago, as I was searching and searching the internet for those out-of-print gems I so love to use in my homeschool.  I was bent on finding another in the 'Our Little *** Cousin of Long Ago' series of historical fiction for my dearest Fiona to read this year.

Determined to find a copy in nearly any condition, I searched and searched for that Viking cousin, through the lowlands and deep into Valhalla, and yet each time I plugged any number of related words and in any combination, the machine that is Google brought me again and again to Heritage History, or to its many links at least.

In disgusted defeat, I finally clicked and...

--->WHOA!

If there was ever a curriculum tailor-made for me and my seed at this point in our homeschool journey, Heritage History is it.  A curriculum for grades four through eight, steeped neck-deep in a living books' philosophy of education, and drawn much from the dense and well-written books of old, Heritage History allows my kids to dig into the depths of whichev historical time period and encourages them to work at their own pace, whether it be a trot or a full-blown history-lover's sprint through literally dozens of fantastic books cannot fail but bring history to life.


Warmly embracing the full curriculum set of British Middle Ages on CD, I scoured the Study Guide which is chock-full of "color maps and charts, timelines, recommended core reading for beginner, intermediate, and advanced readers, geography terms, outline maps, binder covers, historical era summaries, list of prominant characters, and accountability records."  Entirely void of droll busywork, Heritage History's supplements just make sense and simply.  Here, have a sample.  No napkin required.


Although I was forever hooked on the beautiful, vintage maps that are more complete than most if any modern mapping aids I've yet seen, the foundation of Heritage History's curriculum is the dozens upon dozens of books from which you or your children choose as their core.  As in any basic, nuts-and-bolts Charlotte Mason education, I was tickled to find that Heritage History too recommends a child choose a history, a biography, and an historical fiction book upon which to focus each term, and each book's link is color-coded for beginning, intermediate, and advanced readers for easy-peasy, organizational goodness.

That's it.
Oh, wait.  Did I mention that each of these dozens of books are available in three formats?  Yep--> Kindle, PDF, and even audio.  
History that truly comes to life: narrative histories, biographies, legends, hero stories, literature. 

Books written in beautifully dense language during an age that thought higher of the minds of children instead of the watered-down folly of today.

Supplements that make sense and waste not your time or money.
Wait again!  Did I even mention money?!  
This full year's living books curriculum for my entire family retails for $24.99.

Oh em gee.

How can one miss the mark with Heritage History?!

I dunno.

Seriously, I've no clue.

But from what I hear, you always miss the shots you never take (Wayne Gretzky).

So, if a living books education is your homeschool's goal, take the shot, babies.  

Take the shot.


Disclaimer: I received Heritage History's British Middle Ages Classical Curriculum on CD in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TOS Review: Visual Latin

Warning: RAVE REVIEW, bound to have many and mucho adjectives and adverbs.


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Ahem.


Considering yourself well warned ... Visual Latin is the shizzle.

I was excited when offered the opportunity to review this product--you know, the whole jumping up and down while screaming, "Pick me! pick me!"  But I never expected to love it as much as I do, and neither did my kids who both have sat through the video lessons of other Latin curricula, glassy-eyed and sometimes doing movements that somewhat resemble breakdancing of the 80's but just ... not ... quite ... right.

As a Charlotte-Masonite, a proponent of a liberal education, Latin is an important component in our home school.

As a single with four fab wee folk to nurture and educate whilst spinning many other plates, I don't have time to personally teach Latin.  I need something or someone else to hold the reins of subjects which require little to no discussion, subjects like Latin.

So, what set Visual Latin apart?  Why am I raving like a lunatic ... about Latin? (We'll only cover my raving about Latin, not raving in general.  That would require too much time and I've four fab wee folk to nurture and educate whilst spinning plates.)

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Whoa.  Do you see this^?  Your wee folk can even download their lessons to a computer, iPad, or iPod.  And there are audio files included too!


Dude is hilarious!
I sat with my kids during the introductory and first three lessons.  He was cracking me up.  I mean, I was totally Laughing-out-Loud, and I don't often really LOL.  It's more of a smirk and sometimes an additional nasal exhale if I find something really amusing, but LOL I did, "Ha!"  And so did my kids, "Ha! Ha!"  We were having so much fun, the little ones wandered into the room and wanted to watch the funny show too.

Dude is organized!
I love the simple but effective layout of the three separate and short video segments of each lesson: Grammar, Sentences, and Reading.  Requiring only fifteen to twenty minutes each day, my kids were pressing play first thing in the morning and talking about Latin throughout the rest of the day.  What I loved best was the clearly marked "stopping points" and subsequent yet brief worksheets.  The kids knew when the lesson ended and exactly what to do next.  That's some serious awesome sauce.

Visual Latin is affordable!
At The Compass Store, there are so many purchase options available: DVD of all thirty lessons, DVD of the first (second, last) ten lessons, download of lessons, home and school, etc.  You just cannot go wrong!  And at a special price available right now, $80 for the full year's curriculum makes Visual Latin less expensive than anything comparable on the market!


Let's recap: FUN, EFFECTIVE, AFFORDABLE.


Oh, and did I mention The Compass Store also offers affordable Online Classes taught by Dwane, AKA Mister Hilarious?

We've put our chips all in on this one, but don't make a decision based on a raving lunatic.  Try a free and complete lesson.  And with this coupon code worth $10 off your purchase, you'll soon be raving too! 

OCT$10

The more the merrier I always say ... and now in Latin.

Disclaimer: I received the first ten lessons of Visual Latin in exchange for a fair and honest review.  You can read more reviews at the The Old Schoolhouse blog.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Day in the Life...er, Kinda

Dropping Liv at LINES Ballet in San Francisco

Because we’ve not yet started our new school year, I’ve been taking this time to consider the changes I’d like, based on last year’s experiences.  You might think homeschooling would be challenge enough for this single mom, but you would be wrong.  To this first and foremost job of training up and nurturing my fab-four, I add profitable work, soccer coaching, biggest-sports-fan cheerleading, a gym membership, curricula review for The Old Schoolhouse, and work-study hours of writing-support-in-exchange-for-ballet-tuition-for-three.

I’ll say it for you.  Heh, I do it each and every day anyway:

PHEW.

The keys to our mediocre success and my sanity are the P-words:

Priorities
There are so many good things we can do, so many things tempting me to say, Yes, sure, why not?  But, for my family, being stretched thinly and having little time at home or out of doors to decompress, relax, or chill is just no bueno--no good.  So, when considering our new year, I ask myself what it is I want to accomplish through our home school, what it is my kids need most.  Usually, the answers to these questions weed out the good and leave me with what’s best.

Planning
I have always been a box-maker and -checker.  If there’s a project, I make lists.  Give me a weekend alone--yeah, right...dream on!  Okay, give me a few consecutive late-nights, and I’ll have the whole school year planned for my fab-four---and an acute case of carpal tunnel.  This part comes easily for me because I was born crazy like dat.  I need and have a plan for our day, week, month, and year.

Purpose
This is the challenging portion for me: carrying out my plans with purpose.  Often, I can get easily derailed by good things---more work, extra play-dates for kiddos or moms, more volunteering of my time, and even more chill time.  Sometimes it’s great stuff which presents itself and we happily ditch the good for better things, but more often I have to drive myself back to the first and then to the final and most important P-words:

Prayer
Yep, and tons of it.

Although a bit blurry, they were all together. :)

So, armed with the above, here’s a teeny peek at our home-school schedule, effective next week:

5:00  Mom wakes & preps for gym
6:00  Gym-time
7:30  Mom showers; kiddos wake & feed animals
8:00  Bible- & hymn-study
8:30  Breakfast w/poetry-readings; tidy
9:00  Truthquest History readings
9:30     German (M/W); Geography (T/R); Map Drills (F)
10:00    Composer-study (M); Poetry-study (T); Art Lesson (W); Logic (R); Nature-study (F)
10:30    Curricula-review time
11:00    Maths
11:30    Phonics & reading w/Ian; kiddos prep lunch
12:00    Lunch & Literature: Fairytales (M/W); Pilgrim’s Progress (T/R); Shakespeare (F)
12:30    Sciences
13:00    Latin (M-R); Plutarch’s Lives (F)
13:30    Grammar & Composition
14:00    Mom reads w/one kiddo, others read independently (M-R); Spelling tests (F)
14:30    Mom works/writes; Kiddos work/play independently

Into our schedule, I build enough wiggle-room that we’re often done well before 14:00.  But, on those days when we or any individual doesn’t finish within the allotted time for that partic item of study, we stop anyway.  I know, I’m such a rebel---so dangerous and wild.

Thanks for popping over to peek at what I've penned.  I pray that your year is piled high with purposeful priorities properly planned too.

Yes, you can shoot me now.  Indeed.

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