curriculum reviews, history, homeschooling

White House Holidays Unit Studies Review

White House Holidays Unit Studies from Silverdale Press LLC are a great way to keep learning happening while taking a break from regular history studies.  We started this unit study as our school year was coming to a close.  It was just what we needed to transition to our “summer break”.   Little do the kids know that we are still continuing doing “school” but in a much more active and creative way.

White House Holidays Unit Studies is a digital product to download.  This came to me  in individual studies and downloaded very quickly.  These individual units made it easy to find the study we were working on without going through the whole file.  I printed some for quick reference, but used most of the information right from my computer screen.  The kids followed along as I read.  Each study has reading and suggested activities for Kindergarten through sixth grade and one for 7th through 12th.  We used the one for younger children.

The first study we completed was the one about Labor Day.  It had 3 lessons.  I read it to David (12) and Evie (7).  They really had no idea what Labor Day was other than school started immediately after that day.  The information seamed to be a little over Evie’s head, but she did get it.  We worked through all of the lessons and had a lot of great discussion.  David and I just finished learning about the Civil War.  One of the things we read about was about how children of all ages worked in mills and factories.  We learned about how dangerous these conditions were and how wages and hours were not regulated like they are today.  He was able to apply what he was learning in this study back to what we had just learned.  It was one of those great light bulb moments that you love to see when your children get it!!

We read about labor conditions, formation of labor unions and looked at some photographs from that time period.  We learned about Eleanor Roosevelt, the controversy about who really should be credited with beginning the Labor Day holiday.

Valentine’s Day was the next study that we did.  This one was 5 lessons had some fun hands on activities.  We read love letters that John Adams and his wife Abigail had written to each other.  David and I enjoyed this because we had read a biography about John Adams not that long ago.  We had a little more background information about the times those letters were written.  Mr and Mrs Adams were separated for long periods of time and it was neat to see what they wrote to each other.  They expressed their love, but also discussed politics and everyday issues for them like small pox and the new vaccine that was just starting to be used.

We made love letters on old paper.  That was one of the suggested activities.  Well I made an old love letter, Evie made an old treasure map.  We tried to follow the suggestions.  The good thing is she did understand the lesson.

John Adams was just the first lesson.  The other lessons covered Ronald and Nancy Reagan, John and Julia Tyler, Grover and Francis Cleveland, Jacqueline Kennedy’s television tour of the White House.

The other holidays in the study are Christmas, Martin Luther King Jr, Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day.  We really enjoyed these unit studies and will be pulling them out again as we get closer to each holiday.  It was nice to learn about how these holidays came to be and how presidents were involved in them. They will become more relevant as we do them again closer to that holiday and as my little ones get older.

You can find Silverdale Press LLC on these social media sites:

Facebook:   Tag: @SilverdalePress
Twitter:    Tag: @SilverdalePress

Many other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review White House Holidays Unit Studies.  Click on the banner below to see how they used it and what they thought about it. Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers was available to families with older children.  Those reviews are here also.  Please take a few minutes to learn about that one too.

Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers & White House Holidays Unit Studies {Silverdale Press LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

art, curriculum reviews

ARTistic Pursuits: Art for Children Review

We had the opportunity to review another great book from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. ; ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray.  We used the first book in the series: Building a Visual Vocabulary.  We had used another book from ARTistic Pursuits many years ago but it was for older children.  Here is my review of the Junior High Book Two.  We liked using that book, but I didn’t had any experience with this company’s books for younger children.  I was excited to try this with little ones.  This book has been so great for my 7 year old daughter, Evie.  We have all liked it, but she LOVES it!!!

I have to say I’m in love with this book and can’t wait to use the other ones!

  • Art of the Ancients
  • Art of the Middle Ages
  • Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance

I was a little hesitant to do this review since there were a few art supplies that I would need to purchase.  I had never heard of watercolor crayons.  But after a small Amazon order and a trip to Walmart I had all I needed for the whole book for three children and really didn’t spent that much.

These were with the water colors. We all love them, even my art major college son.

Here is another project we did. There is a chapter about construction paper folding. This is Evie’s dog. She added some watercolor crayons because she now uses them for everything!!!

We received a nice hard cover book with  dvd and blue ray discs.  The book is 64 big full color pages.  There are six video lessons and the book has so much more information for each video lesson and other suggested projects.

We started with lesson one which is watercolor crayons.  We watched the video and drew a picture with the crayons on watercolor paper.  I wasn’t sure we really need the special paper, but it made a huge difference in the finished product.  The paper is textured and is thicker than regular paper.  Definitely worth it. The book then takes the lesson further with famous works and artists.  I love how the students begin to identify things like subjects, composing, color, lines, spaces and so much more!

Here are the video lesson titles:

  • Watercolor crayons
  • Identify and mix colors
  • Construction Paper: Cut
  • Construction Paper: Fold
  • Oil Pastels
  • Draw Shapes

The youngest in our family is now 5 and we can leave a few more art supplies within arms reach of kids.  Mine have all enjoyed being able to access these new supplies and create when the choose.  I’m so glad to have been introduced to these fun new products and techniques.  They have been presented in a way that the kids can duplicate the techniquse on their own without much help.  This will be fun to keep going in this series and see where their creativeness takes them!

You can find ARTistic Pursuits on these social media sites:

Facebook:     @ArtisticPursuitsInc.
Twitter:  @ARTistic Pursui1

Many other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review books in this series.  Please click on the banner below to see what they thought about the book that they used.

Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

geography, Give Your Child the World Study

Our Summer “School”

I’m sneaking in “school” this summer!  We have a lot of fun things planned to do, but I want to sneak in some intention book learning too.  I found this great book called  Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C Martin.  (This is not one of my regular reviews, I got the book myself and I love it so much I want to share it with you!!)

This is a book about books about people all over the world!  Each section is divided by age to help you find books quickly for your children.  I have focused on picture books up to about 8 year old and requested them from my library.

I’m loosely following Ms. Martin’s Summer Reading program.  We started with multicultural books and we “travel” all over the world by continent or region.  I have been working on collecting items from other countries and storing them together.  I pulled them out and put them in Dollar Tree baskets to go with the chapters of the book/regions we will be studying.

I hope we become more aware of people all of the world and how they live.  I also hope we explore new food!  It’s a good way to get picky eaters to try things, right?  Please follow our adventures as we travel to new places this summer!!

curriculum reviews

Memoria Press Classical Composition I: Fable Set Review

When I think of Classical Christian Education I think of Memoria Press so I choose the Classical Composition I: Fable Set to review with my 12 year old son.
David is just finishing up sixth grade and we are now looking at him taking some pretty serious classes.  It’s time now for writing, higher sciences and algebra.  I think we will ease into the sciences and maths, but it’s time to work on writing.  He doesn’t like to write, but comes up with some great creative stories.  I knew the right approach would produce some great results.    I wasn’t sure if Memoria Press would work for David, but I wanted to try.
We received the Student book, Teacher Guide and Instructional DVDs.  I started by letting David know that we would use this as an introduction to the writing what be would be expected of him next year.  I let him know that this wasn’t about perfection, but just educating him in the writing process.  How bad could it be if it was about fables?  If nothing else he would learn about the moral of the story.
I reluctantly put in the DVD to start the instruction.  I was able to use the instructor as the bad guy if David didn’t like it.  Sorry Brett Vaden, I would have made you the bad guy if needed, but it wasn’t needed!!!  Thank you for making a great instructional DVD that my son didn’t mind!  He learned so much through this process.  We worked through the first three fables and look forward to more in the future.
This was a serious writing curriculum!  We have used lots of different programs in the past and I can say I’m seriously impressed by how this was put together and executed.  We did work slowly and did not immediately strive for perfection but for knowledge of the process.  This took a lot of the intimidation factor away.
Each section starts with reading the fable and learning the meaning of any words the student does not know.  Next the student identifies “recognition, reversal and suffering” in the story.  This was new to me, but David picked up on it right away.  Recognition is when “a truth not realized previously in the story is discovered”.  Reversal is when the roles are reversed, for example “the high and mighty are brought low”.  Suffering is when the “character has physical or emotional discomfort”. David was able to identify these very well.
After that the student narrates the fable in their own words.  Then the student rewrites a few sentences with synonyms of the original words.  This helps them to start thinking about the story in their own words.  Next the student makes an outline.  This was a great time for David to be introduced to making an outline.  He had not done this before.  We worked through the first few together.  This made it so he felt more confident doing it on his own.  These were pretty big and detailed outlines.  David then used his outline to narrate the story again with his notes.
The next step was to write a paraphrased story.  I wrote the first two for him as he narrated.  This process works for well him.  He then wrote the last one he did and even added more of his own flourishes.  The next step was paraphrasing by inverting the sequence.  We haven’t actually done this on our own yet, but David and I are equally impressed by the instructor’s ability to turn the entire fable backwards and tell it from the end to the beginning in past tense.  We will continue to watch and learn this skill from the dvd until we can do it on our own.  The last step is to write a final draft of one of the paraphrased stories.  We are working up to this step.  As we get a few more fables done and skills are perfected we will get to some great final drafts.
I really liked this curriculum.  Even though it’s a serious writing curriculum we could work very slowly through each step.  Each section we have done, David has done more independently.  I think by the time we get about half way through he will feel confident in his newly learned skills that he can do it all on his own and have some great writing!!!  I think some of my older kids would have benefited from this curriculum.
You can find Memoria Press on these social media sites:

We have also used Classical Phonics and First Start Reading from Memoria Press.  Please click this link to see what we thought about it.

Please click on the banner below to see what they thought of the items they reviewed.

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

curriculum reviews

The Critical Thinking Co.™ Detective Book 1 Review

We have always loved The Critical Thinking Co.™ so I jumped at the opportunity to review Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 with my 12 year old son.  He is just finishing sixth grade and this was a fun activity to end his year.  Critical thinking skills are something we have always tried to purposely work on with our children.  Along with a love and thirst for learning, we want to instill critical thinking skills in our children so they will always continue to seek knowledge and make informed, thought out decisions throughout their entire lives.

We received a soft cover workbook containing 12 mysteries to solves that included an answer key.

Below is a one of the mysteries to solve.  The adjoining page has blanks to fill in.  David has a huge aversion to non essential writing so we didn’t use these pages at this time.  David would read through the mystery and process the clues.  He would make a guess and circle the one he thought was the answer.  You can see on this one he didn’t always get it on the first try.  I did explain to him the wisdom of the writing pages to make notes as he went along.

Other puzzles he did much better on and got them right the first try.  We went over each puzzle and discussed why he was right or wrong and what he was thinking.  This was a great way for him to develop critical thinking skills without calling it “school”.  To him this was a fun puzzle book!  I will consider that a win and keep adding fun products from The Critical Thinking Co.™

All of the answers are in the back of the book.  I remembered to tear this section out before I gave David the book to work on.  I gave him  a few choices for how to use this book.  I said that our goal was to finish all 12 puzzles in the last few weeks we had of school.  He could do one or two a day or he could work on it until it was completed if he would like.  The first one we did together and put it away for the next school day.  On that day he took the book and worked straight through it.  He really enjoyed doing it that way.  He could see how the puzzles were the same and different and figured out a rhythm of solving them.

You can find The Critical Thinking Co.™ on these social media sites:

We have enjoyed other books from The Critical Thinking Co.™ in the past.  Here are a few links to the reviews I have posted: Surfing the Net Science,Balance Math Teaches Algebra and Fun Time Phonics.

Many other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review the book we did and a few other titles:

Understanding Pre-Algebra

Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Critical Thinking Detective: Vocabulary

Dare to Compare Level 1

Vocabulary Riddles Book 1

Here are a few specials I can pass on to you:

Free Critical Thinking Puzzles!
A $75 Value! Delivered weekly to your inbox. Choose PreK – Grade 8. Sign Up Now!


Please click on the banner below to see what they thought about the book they reviewed.

Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}Crew Disclaimer