Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bessie's Pillow Review

Bessie's Pillow
I had the awesome privilege of reviewing Bessie's Pillow.  It is historical fiction based on a true story written by the granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert, of the main character "Bessie." Both Linda and her husband Al are the owners of Strong Learning, Inc., a tutoring company in New York.  This book is a treasure trove of goodies.  It is an engaging story written in the first person and you quickly become attached to the characters and their journeys.
Strong Learning, Inc.
Based on a true story, Bessie's Pillow walks you through the life and struggles of the author's grandmother, Boshka (Elizabeth - "Bessie") Markman Dreizen.  In 1906, at the young age of 18, Boshka and her family have decided to send her to America for a better life.  There is much turmoil and persecution in her hometown of Glubokoye, Lithuania.  She leaves behind her father, mother, and four younger brothers. As a Russian Jew, she finds that even in America there are challenges to face. The story covers the time period between 1904 and 1936.  It was a Progressive era and much history happens during her lifetime.  You will follow her through wars, fashion, political events, social influences and cultural changes.

The story focuses on Bessie and her life in America but there is still a lot of history woven in throughout the book.  You learn her resilience and stubbornness to overcome the obstacles she faces.  Once she is settled she continues to face challenges throughout her life, but she overcomes so much and the story shows you that with hope, all things are possible.  Bessie never gives up.  She presses on, perseveres, and comes out victorious.  You live with her through jobs, marriage, babies, loss, death, joy, and success in business. Over time she brings her two eldest brothers to America and they also become successful in America.

Even my 13 year old son remained engaged with the story.  Most chapters are short and it is an easy read.  I felt it was a perfect story as a read aloud.  We read five days a week.  There are 40 chapters and we often read 2 to 3 chapters at a time.  Most of the times I would read, but he offered to read several times too (this is good for him because he generally does not enjoy reading aloud).  There is death and much sadness throughout the book, but there always remains a hope and perseverance that allows Bessie to overcome the obstacles. I think this is a good book for age 10 and above depending on the maturity of your child and ability to deal with death and loss. The lessons learned are endless and much can be gleaned from this book.  Not only are you getting a history lesson but character as well.  Themes covering honesty, integrity, compassion and perseverance are woven through the entire book. If you like Charlotte Mason type living books, you will love this one.

In addition to all the lessons learned from the story, there is a website, Bessie's America, that has a plethora of educational information, links and study guides.  Some of the links include:
  • Actual photographs of Bessie and her life and family
  • European Immigration
  • Famous People
  • Food and Recipes
  • Health
  • Housework
  • Movies
  • Music and Dancing
  • News
  • U.S. Presidents
  • Radio
Through the links there are many videos available that simply immerse you in that time era.  You can experience what it was like for Bessie during her time in America.  There are some great sources for American History and your children will enjoy learning about it. At the end of the book there is a section titled Bessie's America that has some of the same, but also additional, study helps and links to really dig deep into the history, cultural, and social aspects of the time.

You can download a teacher's guide that leads you through instruction in Social Studies and Language Arts.  The Language Arts section covers:
  • Analysis of Major Characters
  • Questions for Review and Discussion
    • Technique and Structure
    • Themes
      • Living Through Loss
      • Independence
      • Perseverance
      • Paying it Forward
    • Symbols
    • Oral History and Self-Discovery
The Social Studies section includes:
  • Questions for Review and Discussion
    • Immigration
    • World War I
    • Disease
    • Labor and Employment
    • Women's Suffrage
  • Research Topics
I really liked this book and highly recommend it!  I don't think you will be disappointed in what it has to offer.  A wonderful story filled with real life and so many resources for further study and learning.

You can also connect with Bessie's Pillow on FACEBOOK or TWITTER.

Read more reviews on this book from fellow crew members

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Walking with the Waodani Unit Study Review

Walking with the Waodani
What a blessing to be able to review Walking with the Waodani Adventures in Ecuador, a Unit Study by Stacy Farrell of Home School Adventure Co.  This Unit Study is still currently being finalized and it was a joy to be able to implement this study in our homeschool. My son has always been fascinated with the story of Jim Elliott and Nate Saint and their interactions with the Waodanis.  It is one of his favorite missionary stories.
Home School Adventure Company

This study consists of four lessons that can be used for weekly or monthly lessons.  Each lesson consists of the following components:
  • Lesson Introduction
  • People & Places
  • Meals & Markets
  • Animals & Agriculture
  • Worlds & Worldview
There is also a Travel Journal component that allows for more writing and creativity from your student. Your student will:
  • answer questions related to the lessons on notebook pages
  • mark maps or discuss a ministry
  • assume the role of a recipe critic
  • use their drawing talents
  • engage in creative freewriting
Walking with the Waodani is an excellent unit study focusing on the story of the five missionaries who were martyred trying to evangelize a group of Auca Indians now known as the Waodani. Anyone who has delved into any stories on missionaries has certainly come across the story of Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, and their missionary friends.  Stacy spent two years of research study to compile this wonderful resource.

One of the meal options in the study

I really like that it incorporates so many subjects including history, language arts, geography, home ec, and social studies. It is a wonderful Charlotte Mason type study and I like that it is not too deep.  There is a plethora of knowledge, but it is presented in a simple way and the assignments are not too long to bog your child down.  My 13 year old 7th grader had no trouble tackling the assignments.  If you have multi aged children it is easily adaptable for different age ranges.  There are links provided for further study and additional resources for each lesson.  I would think this study is best suited for age 12 and above because of the nature of some of story (they were violent before they were saved), but that being said that is not a focus and there is plenty of material that can accommodate most age ranges.

Vampire Bat my son chose to draw

The author is still currently finalizing this resource but the final study will include four lessons that can easily be completed in a month's time.  We had access to the first two lessons and just recently received the third addition.  We chose to complete each lesson in two weeks time. We spent the first week mostly reading and following the extended research links.  We watched the movie again (it was already part of our video library). The second week we concentrated on the writing lessons and more research.  My son dislikes writing very much but the lessons are short and the subject really interested him.  We are looking forward to continuing with this study and can't wait for the finished product!  You can be notified when this study is completed and ready for purchase by going to their website and selecting the link at the bottom of the page.

We are enjoying this study and would recommend it especially if you like Charlotte Mason type Unit Studies and if anyone is interested in missionaries or missions work for the future.

You can connect with Home School Adventure Co. at their social media links:

Follow the link below to read other reviews on this study and a few other fun resources available.

Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring Fever or Chick Fever?

I think I have both!  I am so ready for winter to be over.  We had such a mild winter here and then such hints of an early spring.  Seventy degrees one day and down to freezing and below temps within the week!  Crazy weather.  Even more than usual for us.  I'm sure my chickens are just not happy right now.  Though they are only down a few eggs a day, so grateful for that.

This is the time of year for chicks.  It is SOOOOOO hard to go to the local farm store and not walk away with armfuls of baby chicks!!  Especially when they are marking them down to seventy-five then fifty cents each!!!  Oh my. I have had self-control thus far.  Not sure how much longer I can hold out LOL!!

Seriously though.  The past six months or so have been such a season for us around our homestead.  The adoption that still isn't happening yet and just dragging on.  Sickness that finally hit and just won't get gone. Weather that can't make up its mind. Spring cleaning that needs done, but the weather won't cooperate with our schedules. Lots of craziness, yet so much to be grateful and thankful for.  We are blessed.  Everything in its own time.  God's word reminds us that there is a time and season for everything. 
To everything there is a season
A time for every purpose under heaven Ecc 3:1 NKJV

I have so intended to get this blog going on a steady, regular basis, but have really struggled.  I am once again going to try to commit to at LEAST one post a week if not three.  I really need to work on this.  Be watching for my newest review tomorrow.  We really enjoyed this one.  I also need to get going on the blog hops and what not again.  I so miss really interacting with everyone.  So my goal for this next week.  Get going!  Hope your day is blessed! 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A REVIEW

 We recently had the privilege to review Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level A from Eclectic Foundations.  Level A is geared towards K-1st grade.  I was able to review this with my 4 year old preschooler.  She won't be age eligible in the public school system to start Kindergarten until the fall of 2018 but she is advanced in several areas and she did pretty well with this curriculum.  I said that so you would realize she is underage for this but was still quite able to complete most of the assignments and really enjoyed it!

This curriculum is available in either print or download form.  Their print prices are going up soon so you may want to take advantage of the lower pricing by ordering soon if you choose to try this out. The student workbook is designed to be consumable as are the word cards.  The word cards are also available as a FREE download from their site if you choose to do that.  The print items available are the Teacher's Guide, Student Workbook, and Appendixes and Word Cards (McGuffey Flashcards).  The download version includes each one of the print items.  The program uses McGuffey's Eclectic Primer which is available as a free download and the link is available on their site.

The curriculum is designed to be used four days a week and we used it as suggested. The Teacher's Guide walks you through each short lesson step by step.  It is really a turnkey program that requires no prep work.  I like that!  My little one loved doing her "lessons."  Especially when play doh was involved!!
Letter recognition with play doh

The lessons include reviewing the letters and using wonderful hands on and sensory techniques such as play doh, glue and glitter, drawing in flour, and using pipe cleaners or wax sticks to name a few. I absolutely LOVE the Charlotte Mason way this curriculum works. There are 144 lessons in the program that cover

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • spelling
  • grammar
  • phonics
  • handwriting
  • poetry
Each lesson also includes a Mother Goose rhyme from the 1916 version.

The Eclectic Primer is not even used until the second half of the program.  Of course my little one isn't reading yet, but as I stated, the beginning lessons are perfect for her and a good review for what she knows and a challenge for what she has yet to learn.

The general format for the lesson is to review the alphabet (sing the alphabet song), work on letter recognition, work on the Start With? Game, and then recite the Mother Goose rhyme at the end. Other lesson include different variations.  Sometimes you will work on word sounds, sometimes "where is the sound" of the letter (beginning, middle, end of word), mazes following the letter or circling the letter in a reading selection. You can easily complete a lesson within 20 minutes if not less depending on what is covered for the day.

Following the letter M maze

Working on tracing and writing the letter M

My little one had a lot of fun with the Start With? Game even though she seemed to have trouble in this area understanding what I was asking.  If a word from the list given to you in the Teacher's Guide "starts with" the letter of the day you are supposed to point to the smiley face.  If it DOES NOT "start with" the letter you are supposed to point to the sad face.

Playing the Start With? Game
We are really enjoying this curriculum and I would definitely recommend you check this out.  They currently only have up through LEVEL C (4th grade) available, but LEVEL D (5th-6th grade) is scheduled to be out April 2017. They list all the way to LEVEL I (9th grade to college) on their website so I am excited that my older one will soon be able to try this out.

You can connect with Eclectic Foundations through their website or on Facebook.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

Read other reviews from this level as well as Levels B and C through the link below.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In Memory of My Mom

I though of you today Mom.  I've actually been thinking about you all week.  I remembered all the fun times.  Tea time, zoo trips, and hosting guests in our home.  Hosting guests was always so fun for us kids.  There would often be a fire in the fireplace if it was cold enough.  It was generally the only time we were allowed to consume soda and other fun treats.  Tea time after school with egg salad sandwiches was always enjoyable.  Miss the tea time.  Miss you.

So grateful I took the time to tell you how much I loved you.  Sad I didn't get to talk to you one last time.  We didn't know did we?  None of us.  You were here, and then you were gone.  We were blessed to call you mom.  Blessed you were able to stay home and raise us. I know you are gone in body but I believe your spirit lives on.  You are ever present in our hearts and memories. 

Thank you mom, for who you were and everything you did and sacrificed for us.  Hug your loved ones today.  Cherish every moment with them.  Don't let the distractions of life keep you from creating memories with those you love.

My mom passed away unexpectedly last fall.  She will be forever remembered in our hearts. ❤

You are not promised tomorrow.  I pray you have a relationship with the one who died for you.  Who took all your sins on the cross.  Who is your comforter and your advocate.  Jesus.  If not, I pray you take the time today to seek Him.  Pick up a bible.  Read it.  Let it speak to you and answer your questions.  God's word says that if you seek Him you WILL find Him.  It is appointed for every man to die.  I pray you give your life to Jesus to be Lord of your life.  He promises you eternal life with Him if you just ask, believe, confess your sins and repent (turn away from them).  Find a good Bible believing church and just give it all to Him.  You will not be disappointed or dismayed.  May you be blessed beyond measure in the coming year.

Middle Ages World History Study REVIEW

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

I was so excited to get the opportunity to review HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Middle Ages by Home School in the Woods.  I had looked at this curriculum in the past and thought it would be interesting to work through. We received a downloadable copy of the program and it was very easy to download and use. Once unzipped the program loads all the necessary files you need that are accessed via your web browser.

This series of studies currently has four time periods (Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, The Middle Ages, and Renaissance and Reformation) with a fifth one on the way.  Ancient Greeece is the newest study with Ancient Rome scheduled to be available in 2018. The study is available as a downloadable file or on a CD.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

The series is recommended for grades 3 - 8 and could be completed in as little at 5 weeks but that would be a pretty intense schedule.  The publisher recommends an 8 - 12 week time schedule.  The Middle Ages study consists of 25 "stops" that would each be considered a lesson.  You could complete a lesson or "stop" per day but as I mentioned, that would be pretty intense.  The stops are not all the same length and some are longer than others.  The first two stops are pretty intense as far as time goes since you are basically "setting up" your curriculum.  I had planned on completing 3 lessons per week but have found that 2 works better for us.  My son is not a strong writer and dislikes it very much. I had hoped that with all the hands on activities he might be more engaged but it has proven a slight challenge.
The variety and depth of material is wonderful!  There are lots of hands on activities that include:
  • cutting and pasting or taping
  • coloring
  • assembling a timeline and post card rack (paper project)
  • building with sugar cubes
  • creating a newspaper
  • cooking
  • and many more
Binder created to store lesson plans
Scrapbook of Sights binder

Each stop has a 2-3 page Guide Book Text that gives you the lesson story for the day.  There is also a Travel Itinerary which provides the instruction for what needs to be done for the day's lesson that includes projects. As stated before, this is all very hands on and does a great job at engaging the student through assembly of projects, coloring, and even cooking. The activities included in each lesson vary and you do not have to complete every activity in a lesson.  It allows for variation and customization for your particular circumstance.  
Assembled Luggage Folder

The flexibility and ability to use this with multiple ages at the same time make this a perfect fit for multiple age households. I liked it because even though my son detests writing, we can still learn a lot from this curriculum.

Assembling the passport
As I stated before, stops 1 and 2 take a little longer because you are basically setting up the framework for the study.  You will do quite a bit of printing to  create:
  • Scrapbook of Sights
  • Moment in History Timeline
  • Passport
  • Luggage Folder
  • Medieval Times Newspaper
  • Post Card holder and postcards
Finished passport

Everything you need is in the program with links to print all the pages.  The Travel Itinerary gives you instructions on what type of paper to print on and what needs to be done for each project. It is user friendly and the instructions are clear. You will need some extra items like notebook binders, glue stick, colored pencils or markers, laminating pages, colored card stock paper, colored paper, and hole puncher.  I think that if you are on a tight budget you can certainly improvise in many areas.

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study

We like this curriculum because of its flexibility and ability to learn through short lessons and hands on activities. I really like the timeline that we chose to create in an accordion style so it lays out flat in one long page.  There are also instructions to just hole punch the pages and put them in a binder. The art and craft type projects really engage the student and help to create variety in each lesson.  I would recommend this study especially if you like unit type studies and hands on craft projects. I think the children learn better and retain more when they are more involved and are able to be fully engaged in the projects that are present in this study.

You can connect with Home School in the Woods at the following links:
Check out some of the other reveiws on the different studies available

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, February 13, 2017

Foster/Adoption Update

So.  We wait.  And wait.  And wait.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  Fostering is NOT for the faint of heart. We have had our little one since she was 8 months old and she is now over 4 years old and still, we wait for the paperwork for adoption.  Rights were terminated last April.  Yet here we sit, and wait. No reason to really complain, but it does get so tiring waiting for the finalization.  I think there will just be a sense of calm when it is finally finalized.  There are a lot of reasons for that feeling that I will cover at another time.  Just suffice it to say for now that we are anxious to get this completed.  Hmmm.  Lot's of life lessons here, huh?   God says to have patience.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience (Rom 5:3)
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it (Rom 8:25)

He says NOT to be anxious.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6)

Ok Lord, so we will wait with patience and pray to not be anxious.  I know He will be faithful to perform that good work in us.  My heart is at peace when I call upon His name.  Jesus.  He is truly our all in all.  He is the reason for our being, and certainly the reason for our faith.  I will trust in you Lord and that the timing of even this event in our life is in your hands.

Blessings to you as you go through your week.  May you find peace in your journey that you are on in your life.
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