Friday, May 20, 2016

A TOS Review: Memoria Press

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

We are ending the school year soon, and I was thrilled to top off the boys' studies with something fun that they would really enjoy. I was so happy to review Memoria Press' curriculum on D'Aulaires' Greek Myths. We received the Teacher Guide, the Student Guide, The Greek Myths book, and flash cards.

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

My boys (and daughter) are fascinated with Greek myths. They love the stories, and are pretty well versed in the more modern spin on these ancient tales. So it was a real treat to break down the stories of the gods and goddesses. The Greek Myths book gives you a personal insight and character review of each god, goddess, and family. To see the relationships between them and the interactions between them and humans give us many entertaining stories and a greater understanding of how the ancient people who worshipped these gods explained the events in nature and in their lives.

While I reviewed this curriculum for my 2nd and 6th grader (the recommended age for this study is grades 3-6), I was not surprised by the fact that my 7th and 9th grader always showed up on the couch when this book was pulled out. Since it was the end of the school year, I didn't make the boys do the writing in the book - I did it for them. So we would go over all the questions orally, and I would write in their answers. We were very hard pressed to keep the older ones quiet and let the younger ones answer THEIR questions! I did love seeing all of them so anxious to give their answers, though, so it was all a lot of fun!

The Student Guide consists of two page lessons, usually covering two or more of the short stories from the book. The lesson is broken down into four parts per lesson: Facts to Know, Vocabulary, Comprehension Questions, and Activities. The Facts to Know give a brief definition of either a character (ie: Zeus), a place (ie: Mt. Olympus) or an object with significance in the myth (ie: the golden apple of discord). The Vocabulary section gives a sentence fragment with a vocabulary word in bold letters and a space to write what the word means. This is a great time to work on dictionary skills if your children have not used one very much. The Comprehension Questions are pretty straightforward, covering important details and events from that day's story. The Activities section had two parts. The first part was called Identify. We would go back to the Greek Myths book, look at the illustrations and find things of importance. The next part would be some more questions, but they varied. Many times they would have us compare or contrast the myths with Biblical events. Other times, the boys would be asked to draw a picture. Sometimes they would give critical thinking questions. These activities were very good for the kids. It gave us a time to have longer discussions and gave me a chance to answer some of their questions.

After every five lessons, there is a review day. I didn't expect these days to be nearly as fun on their own since I am not required to read to them on review days, so I just began a daily lesson with the review questions when they came up! It was another rocket volley of everyone shouting out their answers. At the back of the book is a final review section. The Activities section would have us go and fill these parts out as we came upon them in the stories. There are 110 drill questions and a final study sheet, as well as maps and a pronunciation guide. We haven't used the flash cards yet, but I know they will be a great help to keep all the information they learned sorted for their final review.

This study of Greek Myths from Memoria Press was so well put together. It was detailed, informative, and it covered so much. I am glad we had the opportunity to use this curriculum. It took something my kids already enjoyed and stretched their language art skills without them even knowing. I hope to have more of this kind of learning with the boys in the future.

Caleb's favorite stories were about Hermes - I think he felt a kinship with this charming, mischievous god!

Canon liked Hephaestus - the gentle smith god who worked with his hands and didn't spend much time with the other gods, preferring the company of the Cyclopse who worked alongside him. Again, feeling a kinship perhaps?

Castle loved the stories about all the gods, so he chose the picture of the thrones on Mt. Olympus.

To follow Memoria Press on social media, you can follow these links:

Memoria Press sent other reviewers different curriculum. To read those reviews, click here:

Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 16, 2016

A TOS Review: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

As a lover of poetry myself, I have always wanted to share that love with my kids. Unfortunately, my boys started from a young age to see poetry as a topic they must suffer through, least of all enjoy. I was hoping to change that for my oldest this year when I was chosen to review Institute for Excellence in Writing's curriculum, Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

Andrew Pudewa, founder and writer of IEW, believes that poetry and memorization is becoming a lost art form in today's American Public Education system. I wholeheartedly agree. When we become so focused on math and science and technology, but neglect the fine arts, we suffer as a society. The arts do not stand alone. By studying pieces of literature and poetry, we learn about history, perfect our understanding of the sophistication of our language, and become more well rounded human beings. Art is the beauty in life, and poetry is a beautiful category of art. So while my boys don't revel in poetry memorization, they will endure because I know how much it will help them grow in all their other subjects, as well as in the world.

IEW's Poetry Memorization curriculum came with 5 cd's of Andrew reading all 96 pieces of poetry and speeches, a leather bound case to keep them in, a Teacher's Manual (which includes instructions, certificates and poet biographies), and a downloadable ebook of the Student book. You can purchase the hard copy of the spiral bound Student book separately. You are also sent a dvd of Andrew's conference talk, "Nurturing Competent Communicators". And lastly, you are given 7 mp3 downloads of some of Andrew's other workshops. If you have never gotten to be in one of his workshops, these recordings will truly be a treat!

Since we were ending the school year, I thought we would just go through the book and let Connor choose a few poems to memorize. Once he chose one, I gave him a time frame as to when I wanted him to present it to me. At first, he chose really easy ones, thinking he was sneaking one over on me. Then he chose some longer ones. He was very worried that he wouldn't be able to memorize the long ones, but he surprised us both by memorizing over half of a 16 stanza poem in one afternoon!

One thing I found to be true that Andrew Pudewa addresses in his dvd is that poetry is only as exciting as the subject matter. So if you have rough and rowdy boys like I do, you probably won't be teaching them poems about the beauty of a rainbow, of the fluffiness of a sheep. You have to find poems that spark their imagination, and this curriculum does that! In fact, some of them were so shocking that Connor called them morbid - but he said it with glee! We have kept the cd's in the van and pop them in to listen to a few poems nearly every time we are going somewhere. All the kids are picking up on some pieces, and each on definitely has their own favorites!

Here is a list of a few of the poems Connor worked through these last few weeks:

  • How Doth the Little Crocodile by Lewis Carroll
  • Fog by Carl Sandburg
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
  • Ballad of the Tempest by James T. Fields
He has four more that he is working on through the end of the month. I am so glad we got the chance to review this product. I will be using it again next year with the younger boys, and I can't wait to hear their deliveries! IEW puts out excellent curriculum, and this one is no different. When I see IEW products, I expect quality, and I definitely received it with this program.

To follow IEW on social media, go to these links:

To see what others thought of the program, follow this link for other TOS Reviews:

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The End is Near!!

Image result for school's out images

We have a few last minute things to finish up for the school year, mainly TOS Reviews. But I think everyone is nearly finished! (Hallelujah choir in the background!)

I can't say it's been a perfect year. There have been some great moments, some awesome curriculum, and some fun field trips. But there's also been struggle, tears, frustrations and setbacks. Homeschooling high school can (and will) be done, but don't let anyone tell you this path is easy. Connor has come so far, and he has worked hard. Co-op presented some amazing experiences and growth, but it also brought some disagreements on teaching and essentials we believe need to be covered, as well as some we found completely irrelevant. But that is the beauty of homeschooling. We learn at our pace, and we find what works for each child individually. He has to finish up his work on his Constitution final here at home, then he will be on summer break - a well deserved and hard earned break!  I got his transcript typed out using Homeschool Planner (see my review on that here), and it's ready to print as soon as he's done. I can't believe in just a few months, he will be a sophomore with his learner's permit...

Chloe has strived for excellence, as usual, and has achieved nearly every goal she set for herself this school year. She is so much like me - flaws and all. She is an overachiever, she is competitive, she is her own harshest critic, and she is completely emotional over everything all the time! She has about two weeks left of pre-algebra work left and she will be done. Having completed nearly all 8th grade level work this year, she could be considered a freshman next school term. However, while she will start on some high school classes, I won't declare her to be a 9th grader - which she is very upset about! ;)

Canon and Caleb have done so well this school year, too. They had some crazy weeks of mama switching things up, new curriculum to review, and still getting everything for co-op done. Then with me finding out I was pregnant, there were many days they were completely on their own. I am so glad that they both have a strong work ethic and kept up with everything when I asked them to. Their summer break is well deserved, and I'm so proud of them both.

Now to start thinking about next school year....nah, that can wait a few weeks. Mama needs a break, too! :)