Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
1956 Newbery Medal winner. This is the true story of Nathaniel Bowditch, who becomes an indentured servant at the age of twelve when his father apprenticed him to a chandlery after his mother died. This ends his dreams of attending Harvard. Through hard work and perseverance, Nat continues his studies on his own. Was Nathaniel destined to be a bookkeeper all his life, or could he find a way to better use his skills in mathematics? His discoveries in the field of navigation are put to the test when Nat becomes captain of his own ship.
Readers today are still fascinated by "Nat, an eighteenth-century nautical wonder and mathematical wizard. Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor's worldSalem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn't promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by "log, lead, and lookout. Nat's long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the "Sailors' Bible), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.
Unit Study Curriculums are "complete" curriculums based on the unit study approach that are intended to be used over a longer span of time (typically a year or more). They generally have an organized structure or flow and incorporate as many subject areas as possible. Typically, organizational materials and methods are provided along with some instruction for use. Broken into logical segments or "units" of study, they are intended to comprise the core of your curriculum.
"Its just common sense!" Yes, everything about this program is common sense. A very complete program organized around quality children's literature and covering phonics, reading, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, handwriting, and higher-order reasoning. Phonics instruction is systematic, introducing a few sounds at a time and providing opportunities to read a "real" (small story book) book which uses those sounds. The literature component (carefully selected children's favorites) reminds students that the reason for all the hard work in phonics is the joy of reading wonderful books. And woven through both of these elements is comprehensive instruction in all aspects of language arts. Relying heavily on Ruth Beechick's principles for teaching reading (including her letter dice activities), the program includes a wide variety of activities appealing to all learning styles.
The current 3rd edition features updated covers and clearer day-by-day instruction; there are also updates throughout the series to reflect changes in how research is conducted. Also, there is clearer direction for making personalized spelling lists. Some lessons have been "switched-out" to give students exposure to more classic literature. Since the original series was written over several years by two different authors, this 3rd edition has been tweaked to make it more consistent. A few out-of-print books have been replaced as well.
The Teacher Book is a homeschooler's dream; all the work has been done for you, taking you step-by-step through the 36-week/36 Lesson program. The Lessons are grouped into "Parts" and each is divided into five days of detailed instructions. New skills are listed for each lesson and necessary supplies are included at the beginning. There is virtually no teacher preparation needed; you teach as you read. All answers are provided within the lesson. Examples and diagrams are user-friendly including the easy-to-follow references to the Student Book. Periodic assessments are provided to help you determine your childs readiness for the next "Part." The Student Book contains the materials (except for household and school supplies) needed for cut-and-paste, word wheels, flip books, picture sequencing, story-telling puppets, and handwriting pages. The comfortable, natural handwriting method that isnt exactly traditional, modern, or italic was developed by the authors. This handwriting instruction is coordinated with the phonics and includes pages for children to carefully complete and display or give as gifts. The Student Book is consumable with perforated pages. Even the back cover is put to good use providing the miniature book covers to be added to the personal reading chart that marks the childs progress. Phonics concepts are reinforced in separate beginning Readers. They are small-sized for little hands and include black-and-white illustrations. Stories are engaging which is a good thing since the weeks learning activities are built around them. The student uses puppets to retell the stories, completes sequencing activities with a series of reader-related events, and answers comprehension questions. One interesting aspect of the teacher-student interaction concerning these readers is that the weeks lesson starts off with the teacher reading either the small book (Blue) or a part of a reader (Red) to the child. After several lessons thoroughly covering the new phonics concepts and practice reading parts of the story, the student concludes the week with the successful reading of the same reading selection. This is an effective variation of the typical approach because the goal of reading the book is always before the student. The Materials Packet (Blue Program only) is a useful collection of color-coded letter and word cards for learning and review along with cards used for reinforcement games and, of course, the letter dice (to be assembled from cardstock patterns). While this part of the program is not exactly consumable - you could use the various components again - the components do get a workout. If you are expecting to use the program with another child, you'll want to save these items, possibly laminating them. However, we sell additional Material Packets as well as Student Books and Reader Sets so you can easily use the program with a second student. Well-known children's literature (Read-Aloud Library) is suggested each week, so at the same time your child is learning phonics, he is also learning other important reading skills such as literal recall, comprehension, predicting outcome, and drawing conclusions. These books are an integral part of the program and the Student Activity Book relies on them. Although usually available at the local library, for your convenience we also sell them. ~ Janice
Topics covered include: Grammar, Vocabulary, Reading Skills, Spelling Skills, Penmanship, Research Essay, Personal Research, and Higher Order Thinking Skills. Diane Welch & Susan Simpson, authors. Passages from: "The Taming of the Shrew," Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, Bambi, "The Eagle," Little House in the Big Woods, Story of a Bad Boy, Prince Caspian, Ivanhoe, King of the Wind, Wheel on the School, "Jest Fore Christmas," Swiss Family Robinson, Swallows and Amazons, Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Wind in the Willows, Caddie Woodlawn, Gettysburg Address, Where the Red Fern Grows, Railway Children, House at Pooh Corner, Anne of Green Gables "Crow and the Pitcher," Little Women, Invincible Louisa, and "The Undecided Man."
3rd edition has been reorganized with three lessons replaced.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
Teaching language arts often seems messy and disorganized. The appeal of an integrated program is almost irresistible. Instead of a book for reading, one for grammar, one for spelling, one for vocabulary, one for handwriting, one for composition, and one for thinking skills, why not wrap all of these studies around quality literature? This is exactly the approach suggested by the veteran educator Ruth Beechick. Starting with her sample lessons, the authors of the Learning Language Arts Through Literature series, Diane Welch and Susan Simpson, developed more lessons of their own and eventually collaborated with Dr. Beechick in the preparation of this series. Now after some twenty-five years of publication and a second significant revision, the 3rd edition series continues to be an easy-to-use favorite among homeschoolers. Countless students have proven that written language is best learned by reading fine literature and by working with good writing models.
In addition to the new 3rd edition covers and clearer day-by-day instruction, there are updates throughout the series to reflect changes in how research is conducted. Also, there is clearer direction for making personalized spelling lists. Some lessons have been "switched-out" to give students exposure to more classic literature. Since the original series was written over several years by two different authors, this 3rd edition has been tweaked to make it more consistent. A few out-of-print books have been replaced as well. Some specific changes include: Yellow - ten lessons replaced. Orange - thesaurus and editing activities have been added to most lessons and the book has been reorganized. Purple - reorganized with added vocabulary and spelling activities. Tan - reorganized with three lessons replaced. Green - The Mysterious Benedict Society has replaced Adam and His Kin book study; several lessons replaced and reading comprehension and writing activities have been added to many lessons. Gray - Daddy Long Legs has replaced Across Five Aprils as a book study. In-depth analogy studies have been added.
At the heart of this approach are lessons based on excerpts from great literary works. Each week a passage is introduced to the student. At the younger levels, the student copies the passage after hearing it read. At higher levels, the student writes the passage as it is dictated sentence by sentence. The rest of the week is spent on instruction based on the passage. As an example, Lesson 10 from the Tan (6th grade) book starts with a paragraph from The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong. On the first day, the student is expected to write the passage from dictation after taking note of the usage of quotation marks. Words missed in writing the dictation are incorporated into a spelling lesson which also includes coverage of words spelling the long /i/ sound with igh as in light. Next is a study on homonyms centered around the usage of "hole" in the passage and how the meaning would be changed if "whole" were used. Other homonyms are also studied and then the student is asked to write a sentence using a homonym pair. The second days lesson starts with an examination of point of view from which a story is told. The student examines this passage as well as other stories to look for various points of view and then is asked to rewrite the passage from a different point of view. Lesson work on the third day is on an example of independent clauses linked by semicolons included in the passage; it then progresses to a general discussion of independent clauses versus phrases. Again the student is asked to rewrite the passage making changes in the sentence structure. Also included in this days lesson is a study on the emotions in a story and how good writers use descriptions to draw the reader into the action and to create a mood. The lesson concludes with a short writing assignment (paragraph) and a review of spelling words. Day four is a study of plot utilizing a helpful plot line graphic organizer and including another short writing assignment. The weeks lesson is concluded on day five by choosing one of several activities including writing a short story containing the five plot elements. Each weeks lesson is followed by a page of Review Activities. The teacher can choose any or all of the review activities.
There are full-length book studies (usually four) included with each course. For example, The Bronze Bow is studied in the Tan Book. Starting with an introduction and summary (found only in the Teacher Book), the study continues with a vocabulary worksheet and discussion questions. A list of eight activities concludes the study with the student being instructed to choose one or two. Some of these studies incorporate activities from other disciplines such as the mapping exercise from the Carry On, Mr. Bowditch study found earlier in the Tan Book. Occasionally, there are special instruction segments like the How to Research section in the Tan Book.
There are 36 week-long lessons in each course each of which is an in-depth book study or a passage-based lessons. The passage-based lessons are drawn from a wide variety of literature. To give you some idea of the breadth of these literature selections, here is the list from the Tan Book: Bambi, The Eagle, Little House in the Big Woods, The Story of a Bad Boy, Prince Caspian, The Bronze Bow, King of the Wind, The Wheel on the School, Jest Fore Christmas, Swiss Family Robinson, Swallows and Amazons, Big Red, Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe, Wind in the Willows, Caddie Woodlawn, The Gettysburg Address, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Railway Children, Psalm 136:1-5, The Horse and His Boy, The House at Pooh Corner, Anne of Green Gables, The Crow and the Pitcher, Little Women, Invincible Louisa, and Matthew 5:13-16. Assessments are included periodically.
These courses are very user-friendly. Obviously, a portion of every lesson includes teacher-student interaction but teacher preparation is minimal and students are often given assignments to work on independently. The Teacher Book provides all necessary background and instructional information; laid out step-by-step for the teacher. These contain all the content from the Student Books in 2/3 page width columns placed side-by-side in the center of the book (two-page spread). These inside columns sometimes contain information not found in the Student Book such as the introduction and background information for the book studies. The outside 1/3 page contain teachers notes as well as all the answers.
The Student Book is consumable and contains some instruction and background information directed to the student as well as generous space to write assignments. These books also contain Enrichment Activities that are found only in the student book although the answers are in the back of the non-consumable Teachers Book.
Although there is a great deal of overlap between the teacher and student book, there are enough differences that both are necessary. You will need to have access to several reference books - dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedias - but you easily use the library or internet for those. In addition to the book study selections (often available from the library but which we sell for your convenience), you will need only general school supplies - pencils, paper, colored pencils, drawing paper, notebook, file folders, and construction paper.
The books are designated by colors but correlate with skills taught at specific grade levels. Since some parents are unsure of where to begin their child in the series, we have placement tests for each course from Common Sense Press available on our website. A biblical and Christian worldview is evident in all courses. ~ Janice
Embracing the Socratic methodology of literature instruction outlined in Teaching the Classics, the Ready Readers provide a welcome pick-up-and-go option.for those who want fleshed-out lesson plans. The Readers are exactly that - whole book studies that encompass both comprehension and literary analysis. Discussion-based, the studies are designed to involve the student in question answering and analysis in several general areas - setting, characters, conflict, plot, theme, literary devices, and context. Having identified the best Socratic questions in each area for this particular book, the teacher is aided in handling the discussion by talking point answers. Also provided for each study is a one page summary of the book and a story chart. Although they don't specifically say so, there is an "empty" story chart that looks like it's designed to be copied and then filled out by the student. A completed chart graphically outliming the major structural and thematic elements of each story is provided for the teacher.
Each of the Readers features books in a designated reading level range. The studies however, can be used with students who are somewhat older. In fact, the authors recommend that each year begins with a study that is somewhat below the student's reading level. This serves to acquaint the student with the Socratic methodology and familiarize both the student and the teacher with the discussion environment. The Readers can be used with any unabridged version of the literary selection.
These Readers are a welcome addition to the Teaching the Classics line-up of literature studies. With Teaching the Classics, the parent/teacher receives an excellent introduction to the world of Socratic literary discussion and the tools she/he will need to effectively set up meaningful literature studies. Reading Road Maps - by the same authors - flesh out the process a little more and provide all the "answers," so to speak for 100 favorite books. Still, there are many of us who want more - more guidance and direction - as we embark down this discussion path that we may enthusiastically embrace "theoretically." The sample studies in Teaching the Classics are a starting place, but I would probably be one of those who would like more examples before feeling entirely comfortable setting out on my own armed only with my literature selection and a list of Socratic questions. So, thank you Missy Andrews.
The Readers thoroughly provide all the elements needed for a comprehensive and meaningful literature study. I can already hear the question being asked. "If they're so thorough, do I really need to watch the Teaching the Classics video seminar?" I have no doubt that the Andrews would answer with an emphatic "yes!" The Readers are obviously designed to complement the TTC series rather than replace it. While someone picking up a Reader could probably do a passable job of leading a discussion on any particular book, the fullness and richness of that same study conducted by a TTC "graduate" will make that "passable" job seem pale by comparison. So, to summarize the relationship between these products: Teaching the Classics provides the philosophical and methodological foundation. Reading Road Maps provides "framing" for 100 books, while the Ready Readers provide a complete finishing off of a literary "room" for a different series of books. ~ Janice
Units include: From Sea to Shining Sea, Over the Mountains, Battling on Land and Sea, Across the Nation, In the South, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Growing Tensions, A Gathering of Days, Into the Midwest, Across the Plains and Beyond, and Along the Trail.
A wonderful adventure! That's what author Dorian Holt believes that learning should be. She's done her best to provide everybody moms and students alike with the means of making it such. How would you choose to spend your school time? Reading through textbooks and completing workbook pages? Or by reading Justin Morgan Had a Horse and raising frogs? I think most of us (and our students) would choose the latter. But we moms are afraid that it's either too much work or just plain too overwhelming and time-consuming to construct such a study. Besides that, we wouldn't even know where to begin. Well, Mrs. Holt knew where to begin. As a result, the rest of us unit-study-phobic homeschool moms can merely walk in her footsteps and teach the way we really want to teach in our heart of hearts.
I have to confess to being a unit-study-phobic homeschool mom. I spent a number of minutes just staring at the impressive stack of papers that constitutes each of these volumes. Then I began thumbing through them. It was at that point that I decided that I, too, could become a unit study mom. First of all, there's a very comprehensive and thorough organizational structure. The five-year scope and sequence is enough to take your breath away. Second, there are detailed daily lesson plans. Detailed, yes, but flexible. Third, the curriculum itself provides the predominant amount of instructional material needed. Additional resources are just that resources and references not something to be coordinated and incorporated into the daily work. Fourth, lots of real books are suggested and referenced. The library is your friend. Fifth, projects are carefully chosen, interesting, and, most importantly, doable. Sixth, book lists and materials-needed lists (easy-to-find stuff) are clearly presented at the beginning of each unit. Seventh, there's enough detail provided to give you confidence but not enough to cause your eyes to glaze over. Are you convinced yet?
There are five years of Adventure unit studies planned. Currently, three are completed. A World of Adventure (Book 1) covers Ancient Egypt through the Age of Exploration. A New World of Adventure (Book 2) covers the years 1600 1800 in American history and a study of Canada. Westward and Onward (Book 3) covers 1800 1860 in American history and a study of France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Scandinavia, and China. The two studies still being prepared and not yet available include: A Nation Torn and Mended (Book 4) which will cover 1860 1900 in American history and a study of other world regions and Adventures in a Modern World (Book 5) which will cover the 20th century of American history and a study of other world regions. Each of the studies covers skills and concepts for grades 4 through 8 and each will include a year (180 days) of lesson plans for all subjects except math. We're talking Bible, language arts, history, geography, science, and fine arts. The stuff is organized around a chronological historical study, employs quality age-appropriate literature and a plethora of "real books," incorporates a biblical and Christian worldview along with a Bible and character study, allows the student the satisfaction of in-depth inquiries into a wide breadth of science topics, provides lots of hands-on activities, and wraps it all up with the necessary language arts skills. Can you think of anything else you would like to see in a unit study? Starting with an overview of world history up to the point that American history begins, she continues with a closer, more specific American history study through the remaining time periods. In one masterful planning swoop, Mrs. Holt resolves the dilemma of "which do we study first - world history or American history?" It's really important to start with the first book, Mrs. Holt explains. It works best that way and you will avoid the gaps and frustrations that come from trying to jump into the middle of a series. Besides, there's something very satisfying about starting at the beginning of a study that you know has been very carefully laid out and intends to cover all necessary skills and topics. The studies are designed to be flexible not taskmasters. If for any reason the 180 day schedule does not work for your family, the author invites you to slow it down. She doesn't want you to lose sight of the goal developing a love of learning. There are lots of other aspects of flexibility built into these volumes, as well. For one thing, they can be adapted to include either younger or older siblings. The author is beginning to provide Little Adventurers Supplements which make the adaptation for younger students even simpler.
A lot of thought and consideration has gone into the development of these studies. The author believes that learning should be FUN. Learning is an ADVENTURE, after all. Accordingly, in this curriculum, informational input is in the form of readable talking points amidst an environment of warm and snuggly parent/student interaction; learning together, reading together, creating together, working together and recording together. What about output? How do we know there's learning taking place? Traditionally, "output" has meant tests. Not here! Rather, students are encouraged to keep notebooks compiled over several years state studies, country studies, US Presidents, etc. Suggestions are provided for starting and keeping notebooks, but much of the good information floating around about notebooking would apply. Also, lapbooking notebooking's newest cousin is another option. Memory work, presentations, and games each provide possibilities. In fact, games are such a positive output meter that Book 1 has its own accompanying game Worlds of Adventure Game which features laminated game boards (3), game pieces (for 2-8 players) and Question and Answer Booklets (3300 questions total). An accompanying schedule incorporates the game activity into the daily lesson plans.
It's impossible to do justice to the scope and sequence covered in these volumes. To give you just an idea, here are the science topics covered: Book 1 A World of Adventure: desert biomes, geology, botany, astronomy, and oceans. Book 2 A New World of Adventure covers: insects, weather, simple machines, inventors and inventions, electricity, electrons, charges, ions, electricity in history, mammals. Book 3 Westward and Onward: rivers, mountains, amphibians, the ear and the eye, water, reptiles, brain and nervous system, forest biomes, pre-chemistry, health and nutrition. You can see the pattern emerging topics from each of the major areas of science life, earth, and physical. To give you glimpse at the depth involved in each of these topics here is what the study of amphibians includes: characteristics, features, examples, classification, frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, caecilians, lifestyles, stages, metamorphosis, body structures and systems, and survival. There is an Amphibians Project that includes interpreting graphs. Are you beginning to get the picture? The scope and sequence for each subject area - language arts, history/geography, fine arts, and Bible (character training) is just as comprehensive and thorough and as well-organized. Any specific year might not conform exactly to a particular grade's "standards," but taken as a whole across the middle school years, these studies represent a rigorous academic package. There's a blend of educational philosophies here as well. The extensive use of real books melds with a Charlotte Mason approach. The rigorous academics will be appreciated by those in the classical camp, although the American history emphasis is a little stronger than usual. Those wanting a strongly Biblical and Christian approach to their children's education will be satisfied. What more could you want?
Each volume of the curriculum is a binder-ready (hole-punched) collection of prepared material we're talking lots of pages, folks! Book 1 is almost 800 pages. Book 2 is nearly 1500 pages. Book 3 is more than 1200 pages. I think it's safe to say that you will want more than one binder per year at least I would. All those pages in one binder just wouldn't be easy to pick up. Each of these volumes is written to and prepared for the teacher. Not scripted, but packed with instructional material laid out in easy to follow daily lesson plans. For instance, Unit 3 of Book 3 is titled Battling on Land and Sea. There are 21 days of daily lessons plans in this unit. Day 36 of Book 3 provides nine pages of instructional material. A scripture passage is read together and discussed (talking points provided). Scripture memory work is listed. Language Arts includes new vocabulary words from Justin Morgan, comprehension and discussion questions (with answers) from two chapters of the read aloud (Justin Morgan). Spelling is a word art project forming spelling words into the shape of an amphibian (examples given). Grammar study is on pronouns, and writing a descriptive paragraph about the night. Social studies concerns the causes of the War of 1812 (two pages of instructional material) and beginning a folder project on the War. Science study is (of course) amphibians particularly metamorphosis with several instructional pages and a metamorphosis wheel project. Follow-up vocabulary work includes Latin roots for metamorphosis and a couple of words from Justin Morgan. Fine Arts is a biographical study of Goya with a project demonstrating his technique of highlighting with the use of contrasting colors. Additional literature listed (you choose what you want to read) for the unit includes 21 books on the War of 1812, 11 books about James and Dolley Madison, 12 books about Louisiana, 8 books about Maine, 7 books about Vermont, and 47 books about amphibians. There is also a listing of activities from resource catalogs that apply to the unit.
A packet of Student Pages is available for each volume. These provide all the worksheets mostly grammar exercises - needed to complete the curriculum and are reproducible.
The Little Adventurers Supplements [currently available for Book 1, A World of Adventure] allow for easy integration of K-3 students. These are designed for adding younger siblings to the study but do not change the general target audience of the curriculum (i.e. grades 4-8). The author makes it very clear that these supplements do not include comprehensive phonics, math, or handwriting instruction but offer reinforcement and enrichment to those basic primary studies. The Supplements include lists of suggested age-appropriate books, a daily list of necessary supplies, and a day-by-day set of add-on lesson plans which differentiate for emergent, beginning, and continuing learners. Sometimes they refer back to the appropriate main lesson or offer alternative age-appropriate activities. The scope and sequence of the activities provided here is amazingly full-bodied; however, they are only designed to be used in conjunction with the complete Learning Adventure study. ~ Janice
What is a "unit study"? Briefly, it's a thematic or topical approach to teaching as opposed to the traditional by-subject approach. Rather than teach each subject separately, a unit study attempts to integrate many or all subject areas into a unified study - usually centered around a particular subject or event. Obviously History (the study of events) and Science (the study of "things") are well-suited to unit studies, and usually form the "core" around which other subjects are integrated. Subjects like Bible, Geography, Government, English (writing), and Reading/Literature, Music, Home Economics, Life Skills, and Art, are usually easy to integrate around a core topics. Remaining subjects (Math, Phonics, Grammar, Spelling) can be integrated to some extent via related activities. Each, however, has its own "system" (progression of skills, mastery of "rules") which must be followed to some degree. Since one of the additional advantages of a unit study curriculum is the ability to use it with students of varying ages and skill levels, these subjects are generally taught apart from the core curriculum. This may be as simple as assigning pages in a grammar or spelling book, or using a separate "program" for Phonics and Math. Unit studies also tend to be more activity-oriented than the traditional approach, a real boon to kinesthetic learners. Advocates of the unit study approach site studies showing that children learn best when learning is unified rather than fragmented and when learning is more participatory than passive.
Very comprehensive and versatile study guides from a Christian perspective for selected novels. According to the publisher, the focus is on "teaching thinking and communication skills using literature as a base." A myriad of skills are covered here: reading comprehension, analytical and critical thinking, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, and listening (I guess that's the "Plus"!). Total Language Plus is really both literature and language arts combined in one program. Novels have been carefully selected to either display a high moral tone, or to provide a basis from which to teach Biblical discernment. Most are Newbery Medal or Honor books; all are generally thought of as quality literature, have depth, and are high-interest.
One small teacher's manual presents the how's and why's of the program. It provides an overview and philosophy of the program, sample lesson plans for a typical week, and instructions for teaching each component of the program. The appendix contains a writing helps section and a summary of basic spelling rules. Also included here are answers to common questions about the Total Language Plus program. The program requires minimal teacher involvement as students work through most of the material on their own. While some work is done on separate paper, most exercises are worked directly in the student worktext, which is not reproducible. The only condition under which copying is allowed is when teaching multiple students simultaneously out of the same study guide.
The beginning of each book contains a variety of critical thinking activities, correlated to chapters in the novels, which include projects, drawing, writing assignments, and a puzzle. Some of the writing assignments require research or lengthier essays, while "Personally Thinking" questions require shorter written answers to questions that apply concepts in the story to the student's life or require the student to think and make judgments about story events and characters. These activities can be used at any time during the unit at your discretion, but you will probably want to use several of the shorter writing assignments per week if you want to include composition skills in the program.
The rest of the guide is broken down into weekly units. Each week, the student reads a section of the novel and answers comprehension questions pertaining to those chapters. Daily oral language exercises contain short paragraphs to be dictated to the student, practicing listening and memorization skills and reinforcing spelling and grammar. Passages are chosen to emphasize Bible truths that relate to the story or are actual excerpts from the literature. Other exercises practice an assortment of English skills, with Friday's exercise a summary of "problem words" for the week. Each day, students complete a section of their vocabulary worksheets, including the compilation of a glossary of vocabulary words for which students supply definition and part of speech. Vocabulary review sheets are included at the back of the book, and you can assign these to review and reinforce learning. As a culmination of vocabulary work, a final review test and answer key is provided. Daily spelling exercises also revolve around words from the novel. At the end of each week, a spelling test is administered on the words studied that week. As you can see, far more than reading and comprehension is covered here! Using this program you should not need separate spelling or vocabulary programs. Depending on the activities you choose, and the emphasis you place on composition skills, this may suffice as your total English program. Each book contains 5 to 8 units and will take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete. Plan on using about 3 to 5 guides per year.
Guides are available at five grade levels. Advanced high school guides contain more extensive writing activities that teach composition techniques, showing the student how to organize and plan their writing, as well as suggesting what points to include. They also contain oral readings for the selections to incorporate speech and drama into the program.
Lower-priced guides (see Out of the Dust and From the Mixed-Up Files...) are Focus Guides, which "focus" on specific writing skills and omit many of the varied language arts activities found in the other guides. While containing comprehension and analysis questions like other guides, they also feature comprehensive writing assignments relevant to the novel. Focus guides have less content overall than other guides and will take about 3 weeks to complete.
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
No longer part of the same package as the Phonics and English 1 course, this reading course has a lot to offer and helps develop phonics systematically. The course consists of a single student worktext, which is consumable and colorful; and six reading books. The readers contain some new stories, some previously-included stories, and some rewritten ones, along with full color pictures on every page. These introduce students to different genres, including fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, and even choral readings. Many of the stories are centered around a Christian family, and all are edifying and character building. The new 4th edition pieces are compatible with the 3rd Ed.
The best way to describe these wonderful books is "literature and Bible study rolled into one." Truly from a Christian perspective, these classic and award-winning books are examined in the light of God's Word and a Biblical worldview. The author sent us several review copies and they are wonderful!
Each guide includes:
- a concise synopsis of the book
- information about the book's author
- background information pertinent to the story
- suggestions for activities relating to the subject matter
- introduction of literary terms
- vocabulary exercises for each section of reading
- comprehension, analysis, and application questions for each section of reading with discussion of related Biblical themes
- a complete answer key and suggestions for further reading
Their brochure states "Our goal is to teach students of all ages to examine what they read, Christian or secular, classic or contemporary, and value the truth it contains as measured against the Bible." A worthy goal indeed! If you want to study great literature from a Christian perspective, here's your answer! If in doubt, try just one - we're sure you'll be back for more!
Progeny Press guides are available in two formats: softcover staplebound booklets and CD-ROMs. The CD-ROMs originally featured printable .pdf files, but Progeny Press is now transitioning these to interactive .pdf files. Inspired by a tax software, these files are able to be used by the student on the computer, or printed out. Questions in the files have text boxes to type in or buttons to select, so you won't have to print worksheet pages if you don't want to. Plus, users can grade their answers and leave notes as well! Upper Elementary through High School CD guides are now interactive, while Lower elementary