Sunday, May 20, 2012

Amazing History Resource!

Heritage History is "putting the 'story' back in 'history'."  A homeschooling mom and dad from Washington State have collected over 500 children's history stories that have long since gone out of print, and reproduced them in one easy, convenient location.  Looking for a story from Ancient Greece or the Spanish Empire days?  They've got them. You can find and read all of the stories online, but for your convenience, and in order to support their efforts at preserving history, you can purchase CDs or e-reader versions.  

"The mission of Heritage History is to make old-fashioned history books, written for the enjoyment of young people, easily available."

I was given a copy of British Empire to review.  From the cover:  This curriculum "focuses on 18th and 19th century world history, presented from a British viewpoint.  Stories that highlight achievements of modern Britain, such as scientific discovery, exploration, invention and industry, and the rise of international commerce are featured, along with those that cover the regional histories of Ireland, Canada, British Africa, and East Asia."

A few of the 57 stories included are:
Struggle for Sea Power
Our Island Story - the Hanoverians
Oom Paul's People
Boy of Old Japan
Thrilling Deeds of British Airmen
The Boy's Book of Battles
Heroes of the Indian Mutiny
Captain Cook
Horatio Nelson
In the Days of Queen Victoria
Florence Nightengale
and Land of the Golden Trade

Don't some of those titles just MAKE you want to grab up the book and read it?  There's more to it than just the books that have been captured and preserved.  This disc also holds 50 historical maps.  My son just loves to look at stuff like that!  

"Heritage History [also] provides pre-printed study guides to accompany each of its Classical Curriculum CDs.  Each study guide includes historical maps, outline maps, time-lines, era summaries, character lists, battle dictionaries, recommend[ed] reading lists and other study aids."  A huge wealth of information that would supplement any history study -- if not fulfill all of it.  If you buy the CDs, you get the study guide included in .pdf form.  If you just want to read the stories online, you can purchase the study guide separately pre-printed in color for $24.99 or download for $12.99.

So, for this CD, you get 57 books, 50 maps and the study guide for $24.99.  What an amazing resource.  The website is really well done, easy to navigate and gives you lots of "freebies" as you go along.  You can easily tell what stories are geared for elementary and which are geared for "intermediate" or "advanced" readers.  

There are other eras to choose from.  Besides British Empire, there is:

Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
Middle Ages & Reformation
British Middle Ages
Christian Europe
Early Modern to 20th Century
Introduction to Western Civilization
Spanish Empire
and Young Readers

If you want your kids to ENJOY history, rather than just PASS history, then take a few minutes and really check these out!  I think you will be glad you did!  There is a spring sale going on right now, buy 2, get one free!

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was provided a free copy of The Heritage History British Empire Classical Curriculum CD for free in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Every Time We Learn Something about Science..."

"...we learn something about our Creator, God!"

These words are echoed after every experiment on the Go Science videos.  Presenter Ben Roy, who combines the enthusiasm of a fitness trainer with the sparkle of a magician, puts a ton of energy into teaching kids about, well, energy, but also about motion, magnetism, electricity, engineering and design.  Mr. Roy "teaches science methods at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is the former director of a science program on television."  He also puts on mobile science shows.  You can find out more about him at  the Science Zone

I was privileged to view Volumes 1 and 3 of a six-volume DVD set.  I set the player to start without telling my kids what I was doing.  My 13 year-old son almost immediately came over, lay down in front of the TV and began watching.  My 15 year-old daughter pretended not to be too interested, but she kept peeking over the newspaper and watching as well.

On Volume 1:  Motion:  Discovering the Laws of Gravity and Motion, we liked the Gyroscope experiment the best.  Besides using a regulation gyroscope, Mr. Roy set a bicycle wheel spinning on a small rope.  You wouldn't think it would keep steady, but it does!  He explained the science behind it in simple terms, but then went on to use the gyroscope as an object lesson about how Jesus Christ helps us maintain our balance in life.

The next experiment, the Newtonian Cradle, was another favorite.  Mr. Roy used a hugely over-sized version of the five clacking balls you sometimes find on people's desks.  I think this was the best demonstration I have ever seen of Newton's Law of Motion:  "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

There were seven demonstrations on Volume 1, each averaging about 4 to 5 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes.  Some other experiments were the Ring and Chain (we still can't figure that one out!), the Frisbee, the Egg Spin, and Inertia.  The final experiment on that disc was the Ball, Ring and Sphere.  For part of it, he used one of those crazy toys called a Hoberman Sphere to explain how atoms can be close together or far apart.  That was pretty neat!

On Volume 3:  Magnetism, Electricity, Engineering, Design, there were one or two experiments that would probably only appeal to the younger crowd:  mixing colors, monster magnets, and making a compass -- pretty basic.  But, then Mr. Roy brought out some heavy equipment like a Tesla Coil, a Jacob's Ladder, and one of those Static Electricity makers which everybody loves to watch.  These would capture the interest of the older kids, plus they are things you don't generally have laying around the house!

The final discussion on that disc was about plastic pre-forms, and since he was just showing a small test tube and a 2 liter bottle and talking about how one can turn into the other, I was thinking, "This is not too exciting."  But, then, he went on talking about how we are like that pre-form tube, waiting for when Jesus returns and changes our flawed sinful bodies into new, perfect, and whole ones.  Then I thought, "This was the best one of all!"

Volume 3 was a longer video, almost 55 minutes.  This one held 14 demonstrations, averaging 4 minutes each.  Obviously, these short video segments are only supplements to use with your regular science curriculum, but I think they would make a nice visual addition to your teaching arsenal.  

The suggested age-range for these videos is 6 to 14.  I would probably cut that to 6 to 12.  Not because the demonstrations wouldn't interest the older crowd, but because the explanations weren't detailed enough for them.


I loved how unashamedly Christian these DVDs are.  You can buy the set of 6 for $47.95 or individually for $8.97/each (a savings of $6 off retail).  I ordered them through Library and Educational Services which is a small Christian family company in Michigan who offers the same wholesale discounts to homeschoolers as they do to other types of schools.  Be sure to check them out as well!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given Volumes 1 and 3 of the Go Science videos for free in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What I'm Doing Right Now

The thing about Facebook is that people love to post what they are doing "right now."  I am eating a sandwich right now.  I am enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with the folks right now.  I am playing a game with my son right now.

But, are you really doing those things "right now?"  How can you be doing those things and typing them up at the same time?  How engaged are you with your sandwich, your folks, or your kids, if you have to bend your head, look away, pick up your electronic device, and think about what to tell everyone (who really aren't that interested, by the way)?

It used to be the cell phone.  We'd be out at dinner, and I'd see a couple ostensibly on a date, or a parent supposedly "spending time with their kids."  But, they were cradling the cell phone and talking with someone else.  Their partner or image-bearer were left rather bored and lonely.

Before that, it was the video recorder.  I remember those big clunky things and the person who was behind the view-finder was literally out of the action for the day.  They did not "live" that day -- they merely recorded what everyone else did.

To paraphrase Tennyson, "It is better to have lived and not recorded it all, than to have never lived at all."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Look Up!

In the day, we see blue skies, grey skies, clouds, and the all-powerful sun.  At night? The vastness of space. The stars, oh so many stars! The moon, a witness to days and seasons and a producer of tides. And other planets, like ours, and yet not like ours, helping us discern our specialness in the universe.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Psalm 19:1

Heavens Above is a new iPad app which will help you see God's glory!  My husband designed Heavens Above as a presentation of 77 space photos gleaned from Hubble Space Telescope and paired with Bible verses on the theme of God's glory.  Use them in your devotional time to meditate on God's vast power, His grace, His majesty, and His creativity.  Choose one picture a day, or play them all, one after another, like a slide show.  You could play your favorite praise music behind the scenes to add to the  mood of worship.

Heavens Above includes an amazing image index showing all 77 photos at once, plus a list of definitions to help you identify a spiral galaxy from a globular cluster.  The verse index allows you to scroll through all the pictures and their Bible verses.

This is the 3rd app produced by my husband's company, Digital Worship.  Click to go to the website to see this or his other apps, Dad's Prayers (a FREE devotional) and Bible Shuffle (a fun and educational game).  Or, go straight to the Apple store and purchase for only $0.99!