A New Direction

I’m so excited to be taking over the reins of this blog. My name is Dawn Peluso and I was one of the folks that helped Diane with the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook page.  I’m a homeschooling mom of 3.  Our children are 11, 9, and 3.  We live in Eastern, NC and enjoy hiking, the beach, and spending time with family. We are active in our church and strive be a family that follows Jesus.

We use a variety of materials and methods in our home school and like to say our style is “Charlotte Mason Eclectic”.  In particular, we enjoy using lots of good books, nature study, hands-on history, cooking, and traveling to create a family culture of learning and growing.

Look for more posts over the next couple weeks with information about book reviews, fun home school ideas, and more.

My plan for the blog beginning in September is to have a weekly post about the history that we are studying that week (my husband and I are creating a hands on American history program for our kids and I will share that plan and the resources that we are using,  in case anyone else wants to join us on that journey), Product reviews, a monthly book review of a book for Moms, lots of guest posts from other homeschooling moms about what they are doing in their home schools and a variety of other content.  I’m very open to hearing from our readers about what you would like to see and making sure we are meeting those needs.

Hymn Study: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

As I have been working on a new hymn study each month, I find it very interesting to know how the song came into being. Sometimes they are written by people who made a career of writing songs, but often there are personal stories that led to the writing of the hymn. I think it is incredible to see how God works through so many situations.

*some links in this post are affiliate links, see below for disclosure*

Hymn Story: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less was written by Edward Mote with the music composed by William Bradbury. Mote was a Baptist minister and, on his way to work one morning, had the idea to write on the “Gracious Experience of a Christian.” He had written the four verses by the end of the day.

Later in the week, he visited a friend and his very sick wife. They did not have a hymnal, so he took out his new song and sang with them as support and encouragement. The woman was so touched by the music that she asked for a copy of it. Mote wrote two additional verses (which are not typically included in modern hymnals) and then sent if off to the publisher.

Activities for My Hope is Build on Nothing Less

When our family does a hymn study, we like to start by simply listening to various versions of the hymn. This allows us to get familiar with the tune and the lyrics. I have included some great examples of this song in the resources at the end of the post.

Next, we like to use the lyrics for copywork. This helps my children memorize the songs and gives us good handwriting practice.

If your students enjoy music and play a musical instrument, you can have them learn the hymn on their instrument of choice. My daughter loves to play the different hymns on her violin, and you can even use an inexpensive recorder to play the melody.

Finally, we love to add art to our hymn studies. You do various activities, but if you want something simple but structured, I highly recommend the hymn lessons (included in the clubhouse membership) from Nana over at You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels. She has a beautiful lighthouse acrylic (that can also be done in chalk pastels) to accompany this hymn.

If you want to take this hymn study deeper, you could look up verses related to the hymn, pray through the lyrics of the hymn, or even do a nature study on the sand and talk about what the phrase ‘sinking sand’ means in nature and in the spiritual sense.

Concluding Thoughts

Hymn study is a great way to learn and worship together as a family. We know that music stays with us for many years, and we can lean on those lyrics during difficult days. Do not feel that you must make your hymn study long or complicated. You can spend as much or as little time as you want on a given song. Just enjoy learning and praising God with your children.

If you liked this hymn study, check out all of our other free studies!

Hymn Study Resources:

Hymn Story

Worship Band Version

Acapella Version

Virtual Choir

Bluegrass Style

Southside Gospel Choir

Piano Instrumental

Instrumental Jazz

Download Your Freebies Below!

Hymn Study Fact Sheet

Free copywork is available in the resource library!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password; we are adding new items to the library each month. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through my links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Schoolhouse Teachers is also offering a great BOGO sale!!

Tuesday Tips: Choosing Curriculum “What is Best For Me, Might Not Be Best For Thee”

I love helping families transition to homeschooling, and I could talk about curriculum for hours. As a mom who has been homeschooling for ten years, runs an online book store, and reviews curriculum, I have seen and tried a lot of different programs.

Almost always, one of the first questions people ask me when they decide to transition to homeschooling is, “which curriculum is the best?”

Sometimes I wish this was an easy cut and dried answer. However, what works best for your family (and sometimes each child) will vary based on many factors. My motto when dealing with curriculum is, “What is Best For Me, Might Not Be Best For Thee.”

Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

When deciding on the right curriculum, you must consider various factors.

Questions to Consider When Choosing Curriculum:

  • What are the goals of my homeschool?
  • How much parental input is needed/desired?
  • What are the learning styles of my children?
  • What is my budget?
  • Does this align with our family values?
  • How much time will this program take?
  • Is the program paper/pencil or computer-based?
  • Will I need additional materials?

How Do I Decide?

Now that we have established that there is no one size fits all solution to homeschool curriculum, you might be feeling more lost than ever and wondering if you will ever find the right fit. This news should be freeing. You can choose, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer.

Too often, parents feel like they are failing when a popular curriculum is not working for their child. Other times, parents feel frozen in indecision because they are unsure if the curriculum they are looking at is “best.”

My advice is to talk to people you know and look at reviews, but also make sure you look at each program through the lens of the questions listed above. Then choose the one (or ones) that you think will work best for your family.

Try the curriculum for a while and if it works, keep doing it. If it isn’t working, do not be afraid to sell that one and try something new. It may take a couple of tries to find the right fit. You are not alone, and that is not a failure.

Other Curriculum Resources:

Remember, you can’t do everything, and just because it is a good program does not mean it is suitable for your family! Find out more about that in my post about getting rid of our Latin curriculum.

You can also learn more about picking a curriculum and see our curriculum reviews using the links below!

New Years Curriculum Reevaluation and Nature Study

Changing Up Curriculum Without Overspending!

High School Credit for Morning Time Studies

Reviews

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

Not Consumed is having their annual Back to School Sale! (They have great family Bible studies)

$10 Off for Amazon Prime Day

Pre-Order the Brand New Tuttle Twins American History book for a big discount and some awesome bonuses.

Try Journey Homeschool Academy’s FUN and Free summer courses this week! Check out the Stargazing Astronomy Course and the Backyard Bugs course.

Also, check out the FREE Unlocking the Bible course for teens!

Also, get a 15% discount on Thinkwell Math by using this referral link.

Tuesday Tips: Prioritize Encouragement for Mom

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

I genuinely believe that homeschooling is one of the most important tasks that God has given me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. However, I also want to be honest and say that some days (months, years) are hard! In the day-to-day grind, it is easy to forget that we do not “have” to homeschool, but instead, we are privileged to have the opportunity to homeschool.

One way to help combat the hard days is to ensure that you include some homeschool mom encouragement in your days.

What is Homeschool Mom Encouragement?

There are so many different ways to be encouraged as a homeschool mom. Different things will work better for different families, different issues, and even just different seasons.

Remember the Why!

First, remember why you homeschool! I highly encourage you to write down your whys and keep them somewhere that you can refer back to them on the hard days! They will help keep you grounded and focused.

Community

Next, find a group of homeschool mom friends. I firmly believe that we should have a variety of friends, but sometimes you need another homeschool mom who has been there, done that, and come out on the other side.

I am blessed to have a large community of homeschool mom friends. Locally, I have friends that go out to dinner once a month for Mom’s Night Out and other friends who gather for park play dates and field trips. I am also a member of many great homeschool communities online, where people can ask questions, share ideas, and find support.

Not many tough homeschooling days aren’t made better with chocolate and an understanding friend!

Books, Podcasts, and Movies

Finally, many great books, podcasts, and even movies are geared toward encouraging homeschool moms. Your first thought is probably not how to find these resources but how to make time for them in your busy schedule.

You do not have to spend hours a day or even hours a week reading or listening, but I encourage you to find some time each week to read or listen to something encouraging. You might listen to a podcast while you wash dishes or take a walk or read for five or ten minutes before bed each night. Audiobooks can be a great way to listen while driving from place to place.

Taking that time to get encouragement will pay dividends in the long run. Having a refreshed spirit will give you the strength to work through the tough days and enjoy the good days!

I would love for you to share your ideas for homeschool mom encouragement, and I have included some links and resources to help get you started.

Encouraging Books

Awaking Wonder

Lifegiving Collection (Encouragement for moms)

Adventuring Together

Read Aloud Family

Pocketful of Pinecones ( A bit idyllic but a light encouraging read)

Encouraging Podcasts

At Home with Sally

Read-Aloud Revival

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale!\

Journey Homeschool Academy’s FUN and Free summer courses start this week! Check out the Stargazing Astronomy Course and the Backyard Bugs course.

Also, check out the FREE Unlocking the Bible course for teens!

LAST Day for 10% off All About Learning with code BUYEARLY

Pre-Order the Brand New Tuttle Twins American History book for a big discount and some awesome bonuses.

Critical Thinking Company The Language Mechanic (Review)

The Critical Thinking Co.™

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

At the end of every year, I like to take a few minutes to evaluate our school year, my children’s academic progress, and test results. Then I try to make sure I have a plan to work on any areas of weakness. This year, I realized I needed to spend more time with my eighth-grade daughter on grammar. I had the opportunity to review The Language Mechanic from The Critical Thinking Co.™.

What is The Language Mechanic?

The Language Mechanic is a paperback grammar book with eleven different units. The theme of the book is “Tuning Up English with Logic.” The book is designed for fourth- seventh-grade students, but I felt it would be a good fit for my daughter. She knows how to write papers but often struggles with the grammar conventions, such as commas and other punctuation.

Each unit is divided into smaller lessons (ranging from two to ten lessons per unit) and a unit review. Each lesson has a short teaching component, including examples, logic, and rule. That is followed up with practice questions that can be done together, “your turn” questions for independent practice, and challenge questions.

Also included in the book are a glossary of important terms, an answer key, and a few pages of instruction for the parent/teacher.

What is Included?

  • Capitalization
  • Run-Ons and Fragments
  • Pronouns
  • Modifiers
  • Verbs
  • Agreement
  • Unnecessary Words
  • Punctuation:  ‘ ” ?!
  • Punctuation:  Commas
  • Friendly Letter: Greeting and Closing
  • Spelling and Vocabulary

How We Used The Language Mechanic

For younger students, the parent or teacher would spend a few minutes teaching each lesson, and then the student would independently work on the “your turn” questions. However, since my daughter is older and just needed extra help with grammar, she worked through the program independently.

She was able to read the lesson and then go through the practice problems before checking her answers. Each lesson took her about ten to fifteen minutes, and we worked through a few lessons each week. I chose not to make her work through the units where she had already shown proficiency. She will finish the other units throughout the summer to be more prepared for her high school writing courses.

What My Daughter Thought

“Even though everyone dislikes the word grammar, this curriculum is good. I understood it, and it was not too hard for me to work through. There were many problems for me to work through to help me fully understand and grasp what we were talking about, and it was easy to follow and figure out what it wanted me to do.”        Elizabeth, Age 14

What I Thought

I loved the book’s layout because it was simple to understand and use. I appreciated that I could skip around and choose the areas of concern. Using it with an older child, I appreciated that she could do it independently, but even with a younger child, it would be easy for the parent. It is very open and go and would not require prep work.

I also really appreciated the logic portion of this book. Most grammar programs teach the rules but not the “why” or logic behind them, and I believe that it helps it make sense and stay with them better.

Recommendations

The Language Mechanic is a great way to help children work through standard grammar rules and improve their writing. I think that, in general, the fourth through seventh-grade recommendation is correct, but it could go up or down a little bit depending on the student’s readiness and understanding.

Be sure to click on the graphic below to read more reviews of this product and other great products from The Critical Thinking Co.™.


Critical Thinking

High School Math Live At My Pace Geometry (REVIEW)

 
Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I love teaching elementary math to my children. However, once we hit Algebra 1, I find an online program to take over. My daughter is doing Geometry this year, and we had the opportunity to check out the Geometry At My Pace course from High School Math Live.

Course Layout

This course is broken down into two semesters (A and B), and we started with semester A. Once you set up your account, the student can log in to their account and see a syllabus for the semester. The syllabus lays out the course in three lessons each week.

Syllabus

There are video lessons (40 minutes to an hour-long), homework assignments, and quizzes and tests. Students can check their homework using the answer key in the back of the book and answers provided with the syllabus.

Quizzes and tests must be requested from the teacher. The teacher e-mails them to the parent to be given to the student and proctored by the parent. You then scan the quiz or test and send it electronically to the teacher for grading.

Sample Page in the One Drive notebook

Each student has a teaching notebook located in one drive. This notebook has teaching notes for each lesson, links to virtual resources, and the student’s grade book. The teacher inputs the quiz and test grades into this notebook.

There is also some one-on-one tutoring available with the At My Pace courses, but my daughter has not needed the additional help yet.

Since this is an “At My Pace” course students are not required to work through the course on a particular schedule. So even though it is laid out in a week-by-week format they can work through it at their own pace.

Elizabeth’s Thoughts

“I was able to learn and understand her teaching, but it felt a bit chaotic, especially at first. There are things and links you need scattered around in different places, and the tests are complicated because you have to print them, fill them out, and then send them to the teacher, and if you are not used to doing that, it can be challenging. The lessons are long, ranging from about 40-50 minutes each. “

Screenshot from a Class Video

Parent Thoughts

The instruction in this program is solid and appropriate for high school students. The teacher we interacted with via e-mail was polite, prompt, and helpful.

I felt overwhelmed when we first looked at the program because it felt like a lot to figure out and find. That became much easier as we moved forward in the program.

It is a program where someone else teaches, and the parent is simply the proctor. Depending on your family’s needs, this could be a pro or a con.

I feel like this course will give my daughter a solid understanding of high school-level geometry, and we plan to continue with the class in the fall to provide her with high school math credit.

High School Math Live

Conclusions

I think that the instruction for this course is solid, and it is a well-done and in-depth high school math course. It is a bit challenging to figure out initially but much easier to use once you have gotten through the first few weeks and understand the layout.

The lengthy videos and teacher-graded paper quizzes and tests make it more like a traditional math course than some other online courses we have used. This could be good or bad, depending on your student.

Other Review Crew families reviewed different courses from High School Math Live, so click on the graphic below to check out their reviews and see how the program worked for their families.

High School Math

High School Credit for Morning Time Studies

We have done some form of morning time or family learning throughout our years of homeschooling. If you look back at what I’ve shared about our morning time over the years, you will notice that each year is different. We have changed what we did in different seasons of life and as we found new resources.

*Some links in this post are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

We are currently in a season of life which involves preschoolers to high schoolers. It is an exciting time, but it also has its challenges.

Today, I want to primarily talk about how we do morning time with a high schooler and when/how we incorporate it into his high school credits.

First, it is essential to note that not every part of a homeschooled high schooler’s education must be for credits.

The reasons we homeschool and the goals for our family have not changed just because our children are in high school.

For example, we memorize scripture because we believe it is beneficial to our Christian walk, not because we are trying to get high school credit.

However, when we can use our morning time activities for part of a high school credit, we do. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can be creative about structuring classes and education.

High School Current Events

One of the main components of our morning time this year was watching World Watch News. World Watch is a ten-minute daily news program (Monday through Friday) that shares real-world news for students from a Christian perspective. (You can also see our review: WORLD Watch News Review)

We started just watching it and discussing it as a family. However, we decided that our rich discussions were valuable and could be part of a social studies elective. So we took the watching and discussing and added a journaling component to turn that part of our morning time into a current events elective for my son.

We watched it together, discussed it together, and then had him complete a journal entry each day that shared what he had learned. Some days our discussions lasted five to ten minutes, and some days they ran as long as an hour.

High School Fine Arts

Another way to incorporate your morning time into your child’s high school credits is through fine arts. This can vary by family, but most morning time picture or music studies are not robust enough for high school credit on their own. However, they can form a great jumping-off point or base for the credit.

We plan to incorporate fine arts into our morning time next year by using the curriculum from You Are An Artist. We will go through some of it together and then have my high schoolers go more in-depth independently.

They have options by grade level or some unit studies for the whole family. I am still deciding which of their courses we will use, but I’ll make sure to share about it when I do my curriculum posts later in the summer.

You can find out more about their fine arts programs in this post about adding music to your homeschool.

High School Morning Time

High School Morning Time Literature Study

While we will not replace high school literature with morning time, it can be a great starting point. For example, we are working on memorizing some passages of Shakespeare together during our morning time.

We use Ken Ludwig’s How To Teach Your Child Shakespeare. We will also read a children’s version of the play and discuss the characters and plot.

Then my high school students can read the full version and have a more in-depth discussion as a part of their literature course.

You could also read other novels together during morning time and have your high schooler do literature analysis, projects, or papers connected to those novels as a part of their literature work.

High School Morning Time Conclusions

These are just a few ways to incorporate high school credit work into a mixed-age morning time plan! Look for part two of this post coming later, where I talk about using morning time for a few other subjects.

Remember, not everything has to be for credit, but it can be beneficial to look at how what you are already doing can be incorporated into the credits your child needs.

I would love to hear what subjects you incorporate into your morning time and high school credits.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale!

FREE Family Astronomy Course from Journey Homeschool Academy!

All About Learning is offering 10% off with this link and code: BUYEARLY

Evan-Moor Real-World Writing for Today’s Kids (Review)

*Links in the post are referral links; see disclosure below*

I have recently had the opportunity to review Real-World Writing for Today’s Kids from Evan-Moor. This is a workbook with nine different real-world writing units.

We reviewed the book for ages 6-7, but it is available for ages 6-7, 8-9, and 10-11. It is a paperback book full of brightly colored pages and fun, age-appropriate graphics.

Writing Units

  • Journal
  • Door Sign
  • Online Message
  • Greeting Card
  • Persuasive Letter
  • Pet-Care Directions
  • Yard Sign
  • Fundraising Letter
  • Toy Review

Real-World Writing Layout

Each unit begins with examples and instructions about that particular type of writing. Then there are activities for the student to do to help them understand that type of writing. Then they do an example of that type of writing in a template in the book. Finally, there is a project where they can do a real-life version of that type of writing outside of the book.

For example, after the unit on journaling, the student could cut out a journal cover from the book and attach it to plain paper and construction paper to create their own journal. The lesson on yard signs included some ideas and picture cutouts that they could use with a piece of cardboard or poster board to make their yard sign.

While the online message section was not yet applicable to my son, I loved that it was included. I know that, particularly since 2020, many students are involved in online learning and are engaging with teachers and classmates in that online format.

Our Experience with Real-World Writing for Today’s Kids

I used this book with my son, who turned eight during the review. He generally does not like to write and fights any writing assignments, and he was very hesitant about the book at first because he dislikes writing.

However, he loved the bright, colorful pages and found them very manageable. I appreciated that it started them out slowly and worked them up to a complete project. The way they lay it out in real-world applications was also very beneficial and engaging.

I knew it had been a success when he asked for his own journal to be able to continue journaling about our adventures. I love that the book made him want to engage in more real-life writing.

How to use Real-World Writing

You could work your way through this book from front to back like a typical workbook, but it also can be done based on your child’s interests. Each unit stands alone and can be done in any order. However, I do recommend working through the individual units from beginning to end because of the way it instructs, scaffolds, and then has them work independently.

I encourage you to learn more about Real World Writing for Today’s Kids at the Evan-Moor Website. You can also check out some of our other Evan-Moor Reviews below:

Evan-Moor Heart and Mind Activities (Review)

Organizational Freebies From Evan-Moor

Teacher File Box From Evan-Moor

Evan-Moor History Pockets Ancient Egypt

Avoid Summer Slide with Evan-Moor Daily Summer Activities Workbook K-1 (Review)

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library; we add new items to the library each month. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Principles and Precepts of Government from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

One of our educational goals for our children is to have a good understanding of our government and grow up to be informed, productive citizens. As a part of that goal, we have been looking for an excellent high school-level government class. We have recently reviewed the Principles and Precepts of Government from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC).


What Is Principles and Precepts of Government?


The Principles and Precepts of Government curriculum included three text booklets and three coordinating activity booklets. There was also a teacher’s resource kit with tests and quizzes. You can choose from print or digital versions, and we were able to look over both for this review. The program is worth ½ of a social studies credit.


Course Overview


The text booklets are approximately 60-75 pages in length. Each one contains three sections which are further divided into five topics.
The content begins with the evolution of government, going back to historic empires before Christ. Then it moves on to the Roman government before introducing the colonies and the beginning of the US government.
The second booklet is an in-depth look at the constitution, the bill of rights, and the branches of government. The final booklet covers state and local government, the election of the president, rights and responsibilities, and parliamentary procedure.

I am somewhat concerned that the paper formatting of the text booklets may not hold up to long-term use.


Text Layout


Each topic is only 3-4 pages in length, making it a manageable amount to cover in a day. At the beginning of each topic, a vocabulary list covers essential vocabulary from within the text. Those vocabulary words are also written in bold format within the text. There are black and white illustrations and maps sprinkled throughout the text.
Most sections also include a life principle, an important quote about government from famous historical figures. For example, one of the sections is from Francis Bacon. “If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.”

Principles and Precepts of Government Text Booklet


Activity Books


The activity books are broken down into the same chapter, sections, and topics as the textbooks, which makes pairing them seamless. Each topic has a page or two of questions that are mostly fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice. Sometimes, there are places to write down quotes or important content, such as the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
I think it is important to note that while these are called activity books, they are more in the style of what most people would consider workbooks. There are no hands-on activities, just the questions.


How Did We Use Principles and Precepts of Government?


I have a rising ninth-grader and a rising high school junior who both need an American Government course, so we are going through this course with both. They are doing the work independently, but then we discuss it as a family. (You need a second set of activity books for a second student as they are consumable.)
Since it is broken down into small topics, we can do two to three topics a week and cover the course material in one semester.

Activity Book Page

What Did I Think?


I liked that the curriculum was straightforward and easy to use. They had the students understand the background of our government and get a good knowledge of our constitution. Grading was simple because it included worksheets and tests.
I would like to see a little more time on primary source materials and more hands-on learning, but I appreciate the quality content and ease of use.
I also really appreciated this quote on the Paradigm website, “Principles and Precepts of Government is designed to equip students with an understanding of the evolution of various forms of governance, and thereby gain an appreciation of the workings and myriad benefits afforded in their American Republic, the sacrifices to bring it to fruition, and the requirements of involvement to preserve it.”


I just felt like that quote aligned with our family’s desire to teach our children about our government.


Both of my high school students will complete this course and some additional government materials to make a full government credit in the fall. You can also pair this course with an economics course from Paradigm to make a full credit.


What Did the Teenagers Think?

“I like how it is easy to find where you need to be in the text and activity books because Chapter #, Section #, and topic # are given at the top of the page. At the beginning of each section, it gives a vocabulary part, and throughout the section, it highlights all the words in the vocabulary part. I like how the quizzes are formatted with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, or true or false questions. The curriculum covers from about 500 BC to more modern times, which I like because it gives you a good background on how government started and how it works now.” Elizabeth, Age 14

“The government course is a great course on the history roots and workings of the US government and I like the way that the quizzes are set up as multiple choice or fill in the blank.” Matthew, Age 15

Conclusions


Overall, this is an excellent self-paced American Government course for high schoolers. Most high schoolers could complete it independently, or you can add in family discussions. If your student is a more hands-on or auditory learner, you may want to add some additional activities or lectures.
I encourage you to check out this course and the other offerings at Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. You can also click on the graphic below to see what other Review Crew Members thought about various classes.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum

Tuesday Tips: Testing Does Not Have to Be Stressful or Scary!

This post is not to debate the merits of standardized testing. Some folks choose to test because they like the feedback, some decide not to test, and others test to meet state testing requirements. The pros and cons of those decisions vary by family and are a discussion for a different day.

Today I want to talk about ways to keep testing from becoming stressful and scary. We don’t want our children stressed out, and we also know that having them stressed out can often cause them not to perform to the best of their abilities.

Do Not Make Testing High Stakes

Excluding state requirements, these standardized tests should not be high stakes for our students. Do not pass or fail a student based on a single piece of information. As homeschool parents, we know far more about what our students have mastered than any one test can show. Have them do their best, certainly look at the results and use them to help inform your instruction, but they do not need to feel like their success or failure all rides on a test.

Discuss Discuss Discuss

While you cannot discuss the actual questions or content of the test, you can discuss the process. Discussion is especially important for young children who are not familiar with the test. Ensure that they understand how the test will work, the rules and procedures and that it is okay not to know all the answers. Their job is to do their best and show you what they know.

Feed the Hobbits

Of course, we feed the children every day, but I am very intentional when I meal plan around testing time. A high-protein breakfast to get them going and keep them energized. I plan an easy lunch so that I don’t have to spend too much time on meal prep and take away from testing time. Finally, I plan a fun snack for the end of testing each day. These treats do not have to be complicated but provide something to look forward to at the end of the testing period. Since we test in the spring, I often use treats like ice cream or popsicles.

Celebrate

We like to celebrate the end of testing. Sometimes we take a fun field trip the day after testing, and other years we have planned a family campfire or other fun activity. This year we are keeping it simple with a movie night and homemade pizza when we finish our testing. Overall, I want them to have something positive to associate with the testing and celebrate the completion of the test and not just scores.

Scores are Tools

My final tip is to look at scores as one tool in an extensive toolbox. We chose to use the IOWA test because I felt like the results were specific enough to be helpful to me in my planning. When the scores come back in, my husband and I meet with each child independently and discuss their results. If there is a weak area, we discuss our plans to help them improve in that area. We do not treat the scores like a success or failure on their part, merely a gauge of what they know and what we still need to teach.

Also, we do not share their results with anyone else. They are free to tell grandparents or siblings how they did, but we do not share those scores. This allows them to feel more confident in knowing that they are not being judged on their scores.

If your family participates in standardized testing, I would love to know your tips and tricks to keep testing from being stressful and scary.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library. We are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Evan-Moor Heart and Mind Activities (Review)

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I have recently had the opportunity to review Heart and Mind, Activities for Today’s Kids from Evan-Moor. This is a workbook with 75 activities and hands-on projects to social and emotional development.

We reviewed the book for ages 6-7, but it is available for ages 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, and 10-11. It is a paperback book full of brightly colored pages and fun age-appropriate graphics.

Evan-Moor Heart and Mind Activities

What is Evan-Moor’s Heart and Mind Activities Book?

Skills Covered

  • Being a good friend
  • Being creative
  • Managing emotions
  • Developing empathy
  • Being grateful
  • Showing kindness
  • Being a good friend
  • Taking responsibility
  • Etc

How Did We Use Heart and Mind Activities

I used this book with my son, who turned eight, during the course of the review. I really like how the activities helped children think about and better understand emotions. While there were activities that focused on the child’s emotions, there were also lots of activities that focused on the emotions of others and helped them to understand how to be kind and empathetic.

The book could be used by going from front to back in order, or you could skip around. I think it would be great to choose activities that focused on issues that the child was struggling with or to allow them to choose which activities look the most interesting.

Some of the activities were as simple as coloring a picture or drawing lines to match up pictures that went together. Others involved cutting and pasting, but none of the activities were overly complicated or required a lot of additional materials.

Favorite Heart and Mind Activities

Some of the activities that we really liked were the card games at the back of the book and the kindness hearts activities. The card games involved cutting out cards for different emotions and directions for playing memory or go fish with the cards.

The kindness hearts activity had the child cut out a set of twelve hearts. Each heart had something nice to do for someone else. For example, share, write a thank you note, and say good morning. The child was then to fold up the hearts and put them in a bowl. Each morning they could pull one out and complete the task. It also encouraged them to have family members participate. It was a simple but great way to help them remember to be kind.

Our Opinions

I love that this book was simple and fun but helped my son better understand his emotions. I really appreciate that it showed him to not only focus on his own emotions but to think about those around him. I think my four-year-old might benefit from the book for ages 4-5.

I encourage you to learn more about the Heart and Mind Activities for Today’s Kids at the Evan-Moor Website. You can also check out my reviews of these other Evan-Moor products:

Teacher File Box From Evan-Moor

Evan-Moor History Pockets Ancient Egypt

Avoid Summer Slide with Evan-Moor Daily Summer Activities Workbook K-1 (Review)

Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking (Review)

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.