Disclaimer: I was given this book by the author, Bryan Davis, in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
Writing Strands from Master Books: A Review of the Updated Material
|Rose choosing names for her the characters in the story she is writing.|
|Rose and I editing her Writing Strands assignment for the week.|
Disclaimer: I received Writing Strands Beginning 1 and 2 from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Review of Historical Stories of Survival Unit Studies
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide from Progeny Press: A TOS Crew Review
Literature is one of the most important subjects for me as a homeschool teacher. That is probably because my background is in teaching literature and writing. I love good books, especially classic children’s literature that has stood the test of time. We usually take a very relaxed approach to literature, simply reading and informally discussing the work through elementary school, but I have several friends who use Progeny Press and I was very interested to give The Bears on Hemlock Mountain E-Guide (Grades 1-3) a try with Grace. She was eager as always and really enjoyed the study!
Lightening Lit Grade 7 from Hewitt Homeschooling: A TOS Crew Review
One of my greatest joys of learning is sharing my love of great literature with my daughters. Like most homeschooling moms, I have a large collection of wonderful literature available to my girls and we read all the time for school and pleasure. I was incredibly excited to have Rose review the Gr 7 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling. Rose was incredibly excited to get her hands on this as well! My experience with middle school English curriculum is rather extensive. Before the girls came along I taught English to 7th and 8th graders at a private school. I’m now privileged to teach 7th and 8th grade homeschoolers at a local homeschool learning center. We have spent the elementary years of Rose’s schooling reading as much quality and classic literature as possible and discussing it throughout the reading. My teaching experience had lent itself to what some may consider a more informal approach. I was excited to see what Hewitt Homeschooing had to offer for middle school! My first impression was great excitement about the literature titles chosen. With so many traditional schools choosing trendy and often inappropriate reading material for their students I am overjoyed when a company with such a high reputation chooses quality titles to study. I was especially excited about the book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. The short stories and poems included in this book were many of the same I read when in grade school but are much harder to find in current literature books. They are true classics just as much as the novels are.
The workbooks which are included are incredible. As a teacher I have had the opportunity to create my own curriculum in both of my teaching settings. This follows much the same style as I use and is incredibly high quality. I love the consumable workbook format. They are clear to understand and they reflect many levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy, a guide teachers use to create activities and assessments which reflect various levels of understanding. Hewitt Homeschooling does an excellent job of hitting every level. I also love that there are fun pages worked in as well like crosswords puzzles and word searches. This company proves that learning can be so much fun!
Rose has very much enjoyed our study through literature once we started with this set. She loves that I can give her an assignment she can complete on her own. The teacher’s guide and answer key makes grading and evaluation incredibly easy. Literary elements are thoroughly covered and detailed. The English teacher side of me is incredibly impressed with just how well this is done. The mom side of me loves that my daughter is engaged and enjoying it!
Just like me, Rose adores Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages. In fact, I couldn’t find it one day when I was gathering supplies for school and found her in her bed reading it! I knew she had been enjoying what had already been assigned, but I was honestly surprised to find she enjoyed it so much she was reading it on her own time, at her own initiative. The other way I know she loves this set is it is the first thing she wants to work on each school day. Based on her answers in the workbook I can tell she is not only enjoying the study, but she is understanding and retaining what she is learning. Check out what my Crewmates had to say about the other levels from Hewitt Homeschooling!
Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer: A TOS Review Crew Review
Novels are always one of our favorite things to review! Rose in particular loves historical and biblical fiction. She was quite anxious to start reading Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer from Peggy Miracle Consolver – Author. Set during the time when Joshua led the Israelites to victory in Canaan, this novel has captured my daughters imagination. She has been reading 2 chapters a day and I keep catching her picking it up during other times! We love living history books and this fits beautifull right into that genre. While it is fictional, the historical information is abundant and extremely accurate. Don’t worry though, this is in no way a history text! The author has the ability to weave the historical facts surrounding her setting into the story so that it blends beautifully. So in addition to being a very enjoyable read, your children will be learning at the same time!
This is one of Rose’s favorite spots to read. Our Puppy Penny loves to cuddle with her while she reads on the beanbag chair! She had just started the book here. After reading the first couple of chapters she was already eager to read more. It is so important for authors to grab their audiences within the first few pages and she does this well!
I would say this would be ideal for middle grades on up through high school, and even adults if you enjoy this genre! It is not a book for a struggling reader. All three of my daughters are reading several grade levels ahead. Rose is reading on a 10th/11th grade level and finding resources for her which are age appropriate and still engaging her at a level that will meet her ability can often be a challenge. This beautifully written book is completely safe and perfect for her as a pre-teen. A wonderful study guide is also available to use! In it are videos, deeper historical information, maps, and more. This resource would allow this to be a wonderful unit study for your family or a co-op setting. I could go on and on about this novel, but I’d also like to let you hear from Rose and her perspective of what she liked.
“I like this book tells the side of the story of the Canaanites, not just the Hebrews. They are the main characters of the story. There are a lot of books which tells the side of the story of God’s people and it is good to read it from the Canaanites perspective. I also like all of the history in it. It is well researched and makes a better story if it sticks to the facts that are true. I know it is a fiction book, but I like the history.” Digging deeper into the history of God’s Word through literature is an amazing adventure! Here is a message from the author about why she chose to write this novel.
Writing Strands: A Moms of Master Books Review
I am so so so very excited to share a new writing program with you! Writing Strands actually isn’t new to the homeschool scene, but it is very new to me. I’d never heard of it until Master Books started carrying it in their homeschool store, but I’ve since talked to others and know now just how popular it really is and how long it has been around.
I have looked at a lot of language arts curriculum. It’s sort of my “thing” you could say. Before I had kids I taught 7th and 8th grade English in a private school and when my daughter started Kindergarten I began teaching middle school English once again, only to homeschooling this time. I have always been passionate about literature and writing and so it is of course my favorite part of our day. My daughters are very advanced in their language arts skills and I wanted to make sure anything I chose would fit their needs and not bore them. I also wanted to continue with a gently approach to learning this subject. I firmly believe that quality over quantity is vital when teaching writing.
Writing Strands is the only curriculum I have worked with which engaged all of my daughters at their various levels. They have never dreaded writing, but since we started using this about a month ago they can’t wait to get to this part of our day.
There are 7 levels of writing instruction in Writing Strands as well as a literature component called Reading Strands. The idea is to use the Writing curriculum one week and the literature curriculum the next. This plan didn’t really work for me so I chose to take two weeks to cover one week’s lesson of writing and continue our literature path as we have been, reading daily. I’ll talk more about Reading Strands at the end of this review.
Each of the 7 levels intends for the students to progress upwards and they aren’t grade leveled which I LOVE. I’m all about ability based curriculum rather than grade-level based. Students need to work at their own pace and not be pushed ahead merely because of a grade-level assignment. I also do not want to hold my girls back if they are able to move at a faster pace. In our case that has been true for language arts, but I still kept them in the suggested levels of Writing Strands and I’m glad I did because they are doing incredibly well.
Grace is working in this level right now and thinks it is super fun! She is six and can write sentences, but we haven’t worked a lot intentionally on writing yet as she is only in 1st grade. This has been a really fun way to start the process! Level one is all about creativity and imagination for young learners. I love the way this is presented. Language games are a beautiful way to teach young children to be creative with their words. We love the rhyming game and she had so much fun creating a new animal. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we draw, but we always engage through language and I enjoy seeing her imagination wheels turning around in her mind.
Beth is working through level 2. She is actually a bit old for this level, but I wanted her to give it a try and I think it has been a very good fit for her. I will feel better about her moving forward into the more independent level 3 after we work together through this. One aspect of this series which I find beautiful is students take their own writing and improve upon it rather than merely emulating the writing of another. There is a time and place for this, but I love seeing my girl move beyond that method. Beth has really jumped into this with both feet. She never really disliked writing assignments, but it also wasn’t something she got overly excited about. Not anymore!
Rose declared these writing assignments were the best she had ever done just after one day! She is the oldest and of course the guinea pig so we have tried a variety of writing curricula. None has compared to this in her enthusiasm. Something I really like about this program is that after the first two levels the books are written to the student so they can work on their own for the most part. I check over her work and we discuss it, but having her complete this on her own did something I didn’t expect. When I was working with her more closely on her writing her writing voice never really came through. I believe that her perfectionist tendencies led her to try and emulate what she thought I wanted her to do to the point that her own personality in writing couldn’t really come through. This has changed dramatically since starting Writing Strands.
These levels will take my girls all the way through high school level writing and I intend to complete the entire program with each all three, prrogressing from the basics into formal expository writing and beautiful creative writing. I’ve spent extensive time pouring over these levels and can’t wait to see my girls grow in their writing. The process has a flow to it which I have not seen in other programs. It is simple, yet meaty as students clearly learn how to organize their writing and create pieces which are both informative and engaging.
|Beth and Grace working on their novels|
The biggest way I have been able to assess that this program is doing its job is something that happened earlier this week. I went upstairs to check on the girls who were unusually quiet one afternoon. I didn’t know what they were up to, but the quiet had me curious. They are past the stage that quiet concerns me, but it was very out of character to the usual chatter I hear coming from their bedroom or playroom. I walked in to find all three busily scribbling into notebooks. It took them a minute to realize I was there and then they all started talking to me at once…about their novels. Yes, all three of my little sweeties have begun writing their own novels without even a suggestion from me. This is why I know Writing Strands has changed the way my girls look at writing. It is now more than just another school assignment. Now my daughters look to writing as one of their creative outlets.
Another incredibly useful book in the series is Evaluating Writing which is written as a guide to teach parents how to best evaluate writing. Included is a handy review of grammar which is clear and concise. Also included are examples of how to include questions to help students further develop their thoughts. I do a lot of these kinds of things when I evaluate the writing of my 7th and 8th grade homeschooled English students. I have gained a few more ideas in this area as well, however, and look forward to using these new insights in my evaluations.
This portion of the program is also very different from other literature curriculum as it is written to instruct parents in how to teach reading, or literature. Geared towards parents who have finished phonics instruction this is the next level. The information in this section is very valuable, but was a little difficult to wade through organizationally. I think the content is excellent, but the presentation was a bit overwhelming.
Because I have studied to be an English teacher I was very familiar with the methods taught in this book and I would recommend it to anyone who feels uncertain about how to teach literature. Unlike other curriculum this does not include answer keys or teaching guides. Instead this will allow parents to confidently master teaching literature to their students no matter what their background. One of my favorite parts of this was the extensive list of books arranged by grade-level. There are many wonderful novels to choose from in this section.
I only wish I had learned of this writing curriculum sooner! It fits nicely with our Charlotte Mason based approach to learning. I also know it is recommended for those pursuing a classical education.
Disclaimer: I received Writing Strands Levels 1-7, Reading Strands, and Evaluating Writing from Master Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
Christian Reading Companion for 50 Classics: A Moms of Master Books Review
I love literature. I loved it so much it is what I studied as my main discipline in my education courses in college. I’m so very blessed to be homeschooling and at the same time utilizing my degree in Middle School English. Every Monday I teach 10, 12 to 14-year-olds at a learning center for homeschoolers. I’m always on the lookout for new resources I can use with these students as well for my own girls at home.
So right now I’m using this book for my own personal pursuit of knowledge. I do plan to incorporate some of the study guides for books such as Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit and also as my daughter begin to read these great works of literature throughout their schooling but for now it is just for me and I am loving it!
Disclaimer: I was provided this book to review as part of the Moms of Master Books review program. I was not required to write a positive review. My opinions are my own.
Biff and Becka’s Stupendous Vacation: A BookLook Blogger Review
My girls really like reading books on their tablets when they have the chance. This time it was a sweet little chapter book and they found it very nice.
Disclaimer: I received Biff and Becka’s Stupendous Vacation as part of the BookLook Bloggers review team. I was not required to write a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way.
A Plague of Unicorns: A BookLook Blogger Review
I remember getting the list of books I would read for my adolescent literature class in college and anxiously perusing the list of authors. I recognized most of the names, but Jane Yolen was one I had never read. After the one required book by Yolen I was soon checking out one after the other from the library knowing each would be an excellent read. I was over-the-moon excited when I saw her name appear with an opportunity to read another of her novels!
My oldest daughter, Rose who is 9, read this as part of her school work, but I can honestly say I know it didn’t feel like school when she read it! More than once I caught her taking the book away from the schoolroom to read just one more chapter as she couldn’t wait to get to the end!
The reading level was probably at 3rd-4th grade and while Rose’s ability is a few grades above that, she thoroughly enjoyed the story and quality of writing. I had planned for her to read this over the course of two weeks but I was pushing it to make her stretch it throughout the week!
When I asked her what her favorite part was she told me she liked how they made up a plan to get rid of the unicorns. She really liked the adventure aspects of of this story. She really enjoys fantasy and I liked how the unicorns were given a different role than most stories. Instead of being a good thing in this land, the unicorns are actually like a plague which must be overcome. This coming-of-age story will delight all ages is a great introduction to the genre of fantasy.
I highly recommend this book and Rose has already loaned it out to her cousin to read with a glowing review!
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.