Check out the terrific review of Beowulf’s Grammar at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s website!
There is only one more day left in our Post-Turkey-Sale! You can save 25% off of everything in our store! Just use the code:
Please feel free to share this terrific deal in your other groups! The last day of our sale is Tuesday the 27th!
The Science of Seasons is FREE until midnight this Friday (the 28th)!
Join Abigail, Henry, Grace, and their lively Fox Terrier, Beowulf, as they learn about the seasons in this lavishly illustrated, Christian friendly science book! Kids will learn about the seasons in different parts of the world, solstices, equinoxes, and a myriad of other topics brought together in a way to draw in both strong and reluctant readers!
There are fun comics to read, celebrations in other parts of the world to learn about, and even yummy recipes to commemorate each season.
Although The Science of Seasons teaches material that even many adults may not know, it presents this material in novel ways using situations that most children can easily identify with. Instead of presenting facts as coma-inducing abstractions, The Science of Seasons illustrates concepts in ways that are easily absorbed and readily understood by young minds. Concrete examples make science memorable and help
This is a limited-time offer, so grab your FREE book and please post about it on your blogs and social media. Spread the word and get this colorful and informative book in the hands of kiddos everywhere!!
Visit Amazon through this Friday (Sept. 28) to get your free copy that can be read via the free Kindle app on a computer, tablet, e-reader, phone, etc. The link to the book is:
P.S. Those of you with a Kindle Unlimited subscription can continue to read The Science of Seasons for free after Friday, as I’ve enrolled it in the Kindle Unlimited program. 🙂
This isn’t fog, it’s smoke from the wildfires around us. Normally you can see a crystal clear mountain ridge line that is just 1200 feet away. Not today. Our prayers are with the families affected by the fires here in the northwest as well as all the firefighters and their support teams. I’m really hoping some rain will come and wash some of this smoke out of the sky. 🙁
It’s been awhile since I shared any garden related posts. I made a little picture collage of what we’ve been working on all spring and summer long:
The plant in the upper left is strawberry spinach! I’ve never grown it before, but it’s so pretty, and the little spinach berries are bright and sweet.
I didn’t have time to post earlier when I was working on the American History Curriculum, but here’s a glimpse of spring in Idaho (and yes, those boulders are natural – we have lots of rocks and granite on our property):
I didn’t plan on doing much in the garden this year (as it’s the first year we’ve had a garden in our new home), but my husband did SOOOO much work on the infrastructure that I was able to plant a ton of veggies and flowers. We were also blessed with FREE seeds and plants from the local libraries and friends. <3
My husband built me a hugelkultur bed. This is what it looked like before it was covered with dirt this past fall:
All those sticks and logs act as a sponge to hold water and provide nutrients for the bed. It was covered with dirt this spring and then planted with seeds & young veggie plants as well as a living mulch of dwarf New Zealand clover (to keep the weeds at bay and to help retain moisture).
Look at how beautiful and green my hugel became:
I didn’t plant veggies in traditional blocks. They sprawl all over the hugel in a mish-mash with flowers tucked in here and there to add color and bring in beneficial insects for pollination. I think planting the vegetables like this also helped deter pests, because there isn’t a big swath of the same type of plant to attack all at once. It was also interesting to see the temperature differences on each side of the hugel. The south side was hot and is perfect for tomatoes. The north side really worked well for the cooler vegetables like kale, lettuce, and peas. The peas I planted on the south side were crispy and finished long before the ones on the cooler north side. I’ll keep that in mind for next year and my planning on what to put where.
Here’s a baby cabbage growing back where we cut the main head. It’s tucked in among the clover that helps to keep it cooler and moist:
The clover also helps to fix nitrogen which benefits the plants.
I also have other beds in the garden along with a bean tower my husband built. Here’s a picture of the tower earlier this year:
and here it is now:
Our wildflower meadow over our septic field is also thriving. Here’s a picture of it earlier this year with a few shy Siberian wallflowers and daisies beginning to show:
And here’s what it looks like now with every inch taken over with golden goodness:
I feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful place and to have such a lovely garden! It brings me a lot of joy every time I go out to gather goodies for dinner or sit and enjoy the flowers and birds. A huge thank you to my husband for all the hard work he put into putting everything together for me (and the billions of holes he dug for trees & plants) as well as my friends who provided me with many lovely flowers and plants and seeds. <3
I had a lot of great expectations for The Light Between Worlds and while some of the writing was beautiful and poetic, it just didn’t come together for me. Instead it felt like a recycled Narnia but dripping with sadness and lacking in the magical, wonderful quality of that series. The fantasy portion of the story is told via a series of flashbacks that feel like you are reading a newspaper instead of being immersed in a world. The real-life portion of the story is a constant parade of unhappiness, dark thoughts, self-harm, and the constant same longing and strained sister relationship that got tired after awhile. It’s like the same thing over and over and over.
The story starts out with 3 siblings running to their bomb shelter during an air raid in England during WW2. The youngest sister Evelyn wishes to be somewhere else and suddenly they are in a forest with a magical stag (Cervus). She is happy to be there, but her older sister Phillipa is a bit more reluctant. From there you get a little bit of a description of the children wandering around in the woods for two weeks. Besides some beautiful descriptions, there is really no meat and potatoes, and everything feels totally orchestrated and somehow sterile. The characters in the woodland are not developed and barely mentioned. They feel like they were recycled from a fairytale: barefoot woodlanders, tree and water spirits, etc. There was a lot of potential there, but besides barely mentioning these creatures, there was no more substance to them. The dialogue felt stilted and just jumped into events you totally don’t care about because there is no development of the world or situation.
The story jumps back-and-forth between past flashbacks about the Woodland to the present. I would have liked the author to spend some time in the past where things could have been magical, especially with her skill at writing descriptions. Most of the book is really centered on the present, though – with Evelyn longing to go back to the Woodland and feeling very out of place and unhappy in her life as a child again in England. She has what seems to me a weird and unhealthy relationship with her sister (who is away at an American college). She is always moping about wishing she was in the other world that she feels is her home – not the one she was born to. She is always moping about over her sister, as well. In the process of said moping she participates in self-harm. She also develops a relationship with a kind boy, Tom. I probably liked Tom’s character the most out of everyone in the book. He is sweet and accepting of Evelyn, even when it’s clear she is distressed/depressed, etc.
The flashbacks during this portion of the book felt worthless to me. I didn’t care about any character in the past as none of them were fleshed out. Cervus was a recycled Aslan. I didn’t care about the war in that world, either. There were no real details! Again, it felt like reading about everything in a newspaper. “Here are the bare details of what’s going on. Let’s throw in a sword or two and an evil guy that you don’t really know anything about because we are just briefly mentioning him. blah blah blah. The real-life world was where the book spent much more time on details and character building.
At one point in the book Evelyn disappears and the book switches over to Evelyn’s sister Phillipa’s viewpoint. This part of the book is a bit more interesting because you wonder…
if Evelyn has killed herself or actually managed to somehow return to the Woodlands. You find out that Evelyn managed to go back to the Woodlands. Her sister appears there for a moment (somehow?) and talks to her and gets to go back to the real world. The way it all worked out didn’t feel creative, but rather contrived.
There was a lot of potential for this book. It’s a shame more time wasn’t spent on developing the whole Woodlands portion. It was also a depressing read in general with many portions that felt contrived. There was no adventure (despite things going on in the Woodlands that could have contributed to that). It felt mostly like a Narnia rip-off that didn’t really work out well. I guess the contrast is that the focus was on the children’s lives after they returned and how miserable it was for the youngest sister as she grew older. I can see how some readers will find the story “heart wrenching” or haunting, etc. probably because of how much time is spent focusing on Evelyn’s inner feelings of despair. It’s very intimate in a way, but again, it just didn’t work for me.
I still would recommend it to someone who wanted a dark rendition of a struggle of not wanting to be somewhere. If you are looking for a magical fantasy, though, this book doesn’t deliver in that area (at least not for me).
There are a few fairly chaste kisses in the story in the context of a romantic relationship. There are a couple incidences of cursing. The main character participates in self-harm. There is a LOT of dark/unhappy emotion in this story.
*I received an ARC copy of The Light Between Worlds in exchange for my review.
I really loved the first book in this triad (see my review on Goodreads
or on Amazon). After reading Nxyia, I thought this series totally filled a Y.A. sci-fi void with a diverse cast of characters, an intriguing plot, and though the 1st book had a lot of violence, there were a lot of good themes that were just plain wholesome. I couldn’t wait to dive into this sequel (Nyxia Unleashed), but honestly, it fell pretty flat compared to the first book (imo). It started out great, with the same terrific cast of characters, the suspense surrounding the Babel corporation, and the highly anticipated meeting with the Adamites (Imago), but then…I don’t know…it just tanked. Everything started getting stale, and I stopped caring about the characters as much.
The unraveling of the mysteries surrounding Babel and the Imago was a total let down and felt unoriginal. There were a few twists, but I saw most of them coming. I also felt like the character development was much more flat this time around. In the first book the characters are complex with a rich tapestry of back story and conflicting feelings that brought up plot developments that had no easy answers. The deep mental elements in the first book made the story so worthwhile, and they made you THINK. This time around it felt like the author was just coasting off the first book character-wise. There wasn’t much in the way of new growth or development. There were no “thinking” moments, for me anyway. It was all pablum and kumbaya. Even the action scenes had no tension or anything to them (imo). They were boring and just something to get through quickly in order to find out what happens via the main thread of the story.
I really didn’t like how the Imago (Adamites/aliens) were handled. Here you have this alien race on an alien planet and they are all way too human. Their responses are human… their mannerisms are human… their cultures are human. I felt like there was a lack of imagination in the world building and everything was too pat and easy. The author had an opportunity to make something really interesting out of the Imago, but I found myself hardly caring at all about them or their weak interactions with the main characters. The big plot twist was a yawner. I won’t share it, as I would spoil it for those of you who may actually enjoy the book, but I think part of the reason why it didn’t have much of an impact on me was that I didn’t really care about the Imago much because there was no development in their characters. I wasn’t emotionally invested in them, so I didn’t really feel the tension (or whatever I was supposed to feel) with their part of the plot twist.
There is also this little side story about “slings” (rogue Imago) and nothing is done with it. There is no insight, no depth…just a little incident that feels like a waste of time to read because it has no drama, suspense, or anything else built into it.
The way the teens interacted with the Imago also seemed forced and a bit ridiculous. Emmett talks to the Imago like they are “dudes” from his neighborhood. This is where the book really comes off as lazy Y.A. writing (to me). I believe the author has a lot of talent but everything surrounding the Imago felt rushed or shoved aside for other agendas and so it just didn’t live up to its potential or what I would hope it could have been.
There is also something else that happens in the book where you get a glimpse into the Babel spacecraft…and again, it’s boring, it’s rushed, and all of the potential in that side story is wasted (at least in my opinion).
I’ll interject a few parental thoughts in here as well while I’m on a roll (since I’m an adult who loves to read Y.A.)…the first book felt like it was for the younger teen crowd, but had a lot of depth for older Y.A. readers and even adults. My review for the 1st book talked about how it was “clean” with hardly any cursing, etc. This 2nd book took a dive in that area. There is a lot of swearing….to my eyes anyway. So much so that it was starting to become distracting. There is a teen pregnancy – which is fine and maybe something that needs to be written about…but there is no depth there (yet again with this book) and that sort of thing throws it more out of the young teen league. There is also the current trend to have a LGBT character. I say “trend” because I believe that’s what it is (in the way it’s being handled lately imo) and every Y.A. author out there seems to be scrambling to add some sort of character in his/her story that fits that mold. There was ZERO hint of that in the first book. Then all of the sudden you have it thrown into this one as if that box can now be checked off.
I hate to give this book 2 stars. I SO loved the first one, but this 2nd effort feels rushed and is lacking the depth in the first one. I still want to read the 3rd book and am hoping that it will go back to the roots of the 1st one (since the focus will probably be off planet). If you read the first one, you will probably want to read this one, and I do encourage you to do so – so that some of the mysteries in the first get wrapped up. I just can’t say I’m enthusiastic about it for any other reason (except to know the answers to what you are probably wondering if you read the 1st). It’s no longer a series I would recommend for a teen/student who likes or wants to try out the sci-fi genre. Here’s hoping that the 3rd book will redeem the series.
Do you plan on having your children study a foreign language in your homeschool? I’m learning Japanese, and it’s made me look back over my years of homeschooling and our attempts at learning different languages. I think learning a different language is an important skill that is often given a back burner in homeschools but deserves a 2nd look. A foreign language can open all sorts of doors – from future employment opportunities, ministry (for those of you who are Christians), and just making friends in a variety of situations. It also helps a student become more aware of how our own language is constructed and opens doors to understanding other people and cultures.
When the kids were really small I intentionally exposed them to different languages via our local radio stations (we would listen to Asian broadcasts for hours sometimes, even though we didn’t understand a word), and I also checked out free resources from our local library like the Teach Me series. These softcover books come with a CD of songs (used to be cassettes at that time, lol) that mix English and another language via cheerful songs. We also used to check out Muzzy materials, which are now available online.
As my children got older, we took language study more seriously. All of my kids studied Latin at one time or another. I feel it gave them a better understanding of English grammar, and they were able to tackle difficult vocabulary more easily. My daughter studied German, my oldest son dabbled in Chinese (and studied German as well), and my youngest decided to learn a bit of Spanish. In college my daughter started learning Japanese on her own. Long story short…she is now married to a Japanese native, lives in Japan, and is quite fluent in that language! (Click here if you want to read her blog about living in Japan!) She’s the reason why I’m currently studying Japanese. I want to be able to talk to her mother-in-law (who is a wonderfully sweet woman) and to share in my future grandchildren’s Japanese heritage. They will be raised as little polyglots (or at least they will be bilingual)! I also just like learning something new. 😉 That’s the homeschooler in me that I hope never dies!
In recent years, the resources for learning a different language have exploded. I wish I had all of the current resources at my disposal when I was homeschooling. There are countless YouTube channels and videos, tons of interactive websites, games, lessons, and more that just didn’t exist even several years ago! If you want to learn a language, now is a GREAT time to do so.
When you are first starting out, unless you are already fluent in another language, the choices can be intimidating. I encourage you to take your time and look through the options. Every family is different, and what may work for one may not work for another. Many full language programs can be expensive, so you may want to explore free trials and check your local library before committing to one particular method or resource. Try out some free apps too and get a feel for what you will be studying! You may find a combination of resources works the best. It does for me!! I find it really helpful to use a many different things – many of them which are free or low cost (because that best matches my budget, lol). Make sure you check out workbooks and books on grammar available at your local library (or Amazon) to help you practice the nuances of the language you might not pick up otherwise or to supplement the program you choose. I’m using the Japanese from Zero workbooks!
You may wonder which language to commit to. Some families choose a language from their family history. That’s why my daughter learned German. I used to be fairly fluent in German as a child, since my family lived in Germany for awhile and my father’s family is German. Working with German was a no-brainer. I already had it somewhere in my brain, so I felt more confident in helping my daughter learn it. My son chose Chinese because he was interested in the military. My other son chose Spanish because he was interested in a law enforcement career, and the state we lived in encouraged officers to have at least a working understanding of that language. Your choice for a language may come from some other motivation, but I encourage you to allow your child to explore several different languages and choose one s/he is most motivated to learn. There is nothing like a natural interest to spark the drive that is necessary to successfully assimilate another tongue!
Back when we were starting out, Rosetta Stone was one of the only interactive resources for learning another language, but there are many more available today. Here is a list of resources for you to explore. Make sure to check out the apps that go along with many of these sites that will allow you (or your student) to learn on a tablet or phone in addition to the computer! My favorites have a heart next to them.
- Amazon – There are tons of books, workbooks, and other resources to help you learn languages (and don’t forget to check Audible)! When we were learning languages I liked to purchase young children’s books (especially familiar stories) to help us pick up easy vocabulary words and simple grammar.
- Babbel currently has 14 different languages to learn with audio and is interactive with speech technology.
- Bussu has free and premium lessons. The free lessons have audio and are interactive!
- Classical Academic Press – This publisher has resources for learning Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish. We used them for some of their Latin & Greek resources and the free language learning games they offer at Headventure Land.
- ❤ Duolingo – This website has all sorts of languages to learn, including Klingon, lol…The lessons are interactive with audio and activities designed to help build retention. I’m using it for Japanese!
- ❤ Drops – If you want an easy, addictive way to learn vocabulary (and a few travel phrases), Drops is a terrific app. It’s actually relaxing to play and you’ll pick up new words in very little time!
- edX has a variety of free courses supported by different universities. Many of the courses are self-paced and have videos. While the courses are free, you can pay to get a certificate of completion.
- ❤ The Learnables – My son and I used The Learnables to study Spanish. I wish I could afford their Japanese books because I retained their lessons easily. Sadly, it appears they are no longer keeping their Japanese program updated. The lessons come with consumable books and CD’s. Some of their lessons have been updated to use on the computer. The downside to The Learnables (in my opinion) is that their materials are expensive.
- ❤ Lingo Deer – Lingo Deer is one of my favorite apps for learning Japanese and brushing up on my German. Read my complete review by clicking here!
- Little Pim – Do you have a little learner who would like to learn a language? Little Pim is designed for the under 6 crowd with videos available for download or streaming!
- ❤ Mango Languages – Mango is an online, interactive program that features over 70 world languages! Many libraries have a subscription to the website, which means it could be a FREE resource! I’m currently using Mango to supplement my Japanese. I enjoy the lessons and find that they are pretty effective.
- Memrise has lots of free courses for languages and other subjects. I’m using it on a daily basis to practice reading Japanese. The flashcard format with memes to help you remember the content is easy to use and many courses have audio.
- MIT Open Courseware has free language courses featured at MIT. These courses aren’t the easiest to navigate or use and you will need to purchase textbooks from Amazon or another similar resource (for most of the courses). Still, this could be a good resource for a very motivated learner.
- Muzzy is also a language program designed for younger children through teens. I used it when the kids were little, and they really liked it.
- PBS Learning Media has lots of free video courses for various languages. Many of the programs also come with printable student and teacher checklists that accompany the videos. Here’s an example of one of their courses (which I have bookmarked for myself!): Irasshai – Welcome to Japanese
- ❤ Pimsleur is a listening and speaking only course with over 50 different languages to choose from. I’m using Pimsleur as part of my learning Japanese arsenal (thanks to my local library staff who purchased it per my request). Pimsleur is very effective (at least for me) and is designed around scientifically proven principles. You only have to spend 30 minutes a day to learn a new language! Click here to get up to 40% off your first purchase! You may want to explore the site as there is a free lesson in a language of your choice as well as information on the Pimsleur Method and why it works. They also have a money-back guarantee!
- Powerspeak (I believe they used to be called Power-Glide.) Some of my kids used the Power Glide program back when it used to be a book and audio lessons (which are still available from Rainbow Resource at the time of this writing). It wasn’t a hit for us, but the program appears to have changed and is offered online at this time with the option to have a certified teacher’s support.
- Rocket Languages has interactive audio lessons but not a lot of language choices. I took a look at the free trial and while I like the audio, I don’t like how it has you type in answers from the very first lesson. My own personal preference is to focus more on listening, speaking, and reading vs. writing.
- Rosetta Stone – Rosetta Stone has been around for a long time. They’ve updated their programs since we used them years ago. My kids enjoyed Rosetta Stone, but never progressed very far in the program(s). They have a free demo you can try. Some libraries also have a subscription. There are quite a few languages to choose from. Despite their popularity, they are not one of my favorite resources. They may be just right for you and yours, though! 😉
- YouTube – Do a search for the language your student is interested in. You will likely find multiple YouTube channels that feature free lessons, as well as songs and other helpful language learning videos. I like finding Japanese cartoons made for little kids that teach numbers and characters (Hiragana)! While you probably can’t rely on YouTube for an entire language program, you’ll probably be able to find all sorts of fun, supplementary material! Don’t forget to look for movies and video clips of TV shows and such in the language of your choice! You’ll be surprised at how much you can pick up from these types of resources.
Learning a foreign language is something that anyone can do with a bit of motivation. You may be surprised at what paths it opens up for your students in the future! I never would have imagined that all of the language exposure I naturally included in our lives and homeschool would be so important to my daughter’s future! I believe her early exposure helped develop her current gift for and interest in languages! I think it was also a great thing for both of my sons, even if they didn’t choose to pursue learning more as adults, because studying a language was good “brain food”! Learning a new language has been shown to help make a brain more efficient, integrated, and increases gray matter. There are lots of scientific studies showing how learning a language is good for any age…it can even potentially delay Alzheimer’s! The scientific reasons for studying a language are beyond the scope of this post, but if you are interested or need extra convincing, you can always google up some articles.
I hope this post help someone out there thinking about foreign language study. Share what languages you (or your students) are learning via the comments! I would also love to know about your favorite programs, apps, and websites, and will update this post when I discover new, great resources!