Monday, July 19, 2010

Review of The Old Schoolhouse's June 2010 Module: Travel the World

One of the latest fads in the homeschooling world is web interactive unit studies. Make no mistake, I don’t use the word fad pejoratively here – I love this kind of study. They’re fun, different, diverting, and usually cost-effective. Sometimes, though, they’re not really very well done. Unless you really know and trust the publisher of the study you’ve chosen, you can end up with disorganization, dead links, and disappointment! Enter The Old Schoolhouse’s June Module, “Travel the World.” It is designed to accompany the 2010 TOS Planner, but it is also perfectly capable of standing as an independent study. If you own the 2010 planner from The Old Schoolhouse, then you already know that one of its most phenomenal features is its ability to hyperlink from one area of the planner to another. This particular module is no different. In fact, the hyperlinks in “Travel the World” take you to numerous external sources, making this seemingly modest fifty page introduction to Geography in actuality a full-fledged Geography unit study!

World Geography can be one of the most intimidating subjects to teach, especially if you plan to teach it to multiple children at once. The Old Schoolhouse has made this task infinitely more enjoyable, and has taken all of the work out of creating an introductory Geography course. As a seventh grader, my gifted nine year-old daughter hovers on the edge between enjoying the activities for younger children, like the marvelously detailed coloring pages of each of the continents, and the offerings aimed at older children, such as the Geography and Literature and Geography and History expansions. We used the provided copy work for dictation, rather than as straight copy work, and we spent copious amounts of time playing the geography games available at many of the links cited in this module. Unfortunately, my daughter is past the lapbooking stage of schoolwork, and a decent percentage of this module is occupied by lapbooking components; however, my three younger children loved being able to take advantage of this portion of “Travel the World.” They were not necessarily as entranced with visiting numerous websites and looking at atlases, but they always love a good cutting and pasting activity! Whenever I review a product, I always feel it incumbent upon me to point out at least one thing that my family didn’t particularly like. In this case, finding that one thing was easy. As with many of its products, The Old Schoolhouse includes clickable links to dozens of related eBooks and products at the end of “Travel the World.” That kind of financial pressure I can do without! The temptation is almost overwhelming!

I am a huge fan of all of the TOS Planner Modules that I have been privileged enough to use. Each one is similar enough that I know my family will be able to use it, but certainly different enough for me to know I will be getting my money’s worth. In this case, though, a DISCLAIMER is in order: I received the TOS June 2010 Planner Module “Travel the World” free in exchange for my honest review. I did not, however, receive any other compensation. If you are looking for a creative, pain-free, and, most importantly, FLEXIBLE way to teach introductory World Geography, you won’t go wrong with this particular eBook. If you are as interested as I was, feel free to check out this product here: where you can purchase it for a reasonable $7.95. Still thinking about it? You can read even more at The Homeschool Crew Blog here:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our Fall Curriculum

Wow. I have put so much thought into this year's curriculum that it's crazy. I truly have had to abandon all thoughts of doing it my way. The curriculum that has worked so well for Therese is just not going to work so well for the rest of my kids.

In any case, here's the breakdown. I have made a tremendous amount of work for myself (but when don't I?).

  1. Math: Saxon 7/6 (She's about 1/4 of the way through now)
  2. Language Arts - Michael Clay Thompson
  • Vocabulary - Caesar's English (Latin Roots and Spanish Cognates)
  • Poetry - Building Poems
  • Writing - Paragraph Town
  • Grammar - Grammar Town
  • Augustus Caesar's World
  • Caesar's Gallic War
  • The Old World and America
  • Those are the main spines - there are others
  • The First Christians
  • The Story of the Church
  • The Acts of the Apostles
8. Art: Artist study with Salve Regina notebooking pages (link coming)
9. Handwriting: Continuing Cursive Practice
10. Copywork: Salve Regina Scriptorium for Young Ladies (link coming)

  1. Math: Saxon 5/4 (he's 1/2 done)
  2. Language Arts: Michael Clay Thompson
  • Vocabulary - Building Language (learning concept of Latin roots)
  • Poetry - Music of the Hemispheres
  • Writing - Sentence Island
  • Grammar - Grammar Island
8. Art: Artist Study with Salve Regina notebooking pages (link coming soon)
10. Copywork: Salve Regina Scriptorium for Young Men (link coming soon)

  1. Math: Saxon 1 (1/2 done)
  2. Language Arts: Language Lessons for Little Ones 3 (Queen Homeschool)
  3. History: American History for Young Students - Exploration-1800(Truthquest)
  4. Religion: Old Testament Bible Stories and The Israelites (History Links)
  5. Science: Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology
  6. Art: Artist Study with Salve Regina notebooking pages (link coming soon)
  7. Handwriting: Writing our Catholic Faith
  8. Copywork: Salve Regina Scriptorium for Brand-New Writers (link coming soon)
  9. Spelling: All About Spelling Level 2
  10. Phonics: Click-N-Kid
I think that's it. I usually realize I forgot something. I absolutely have to write a schedule this year. Therese will have school all day. Her classes are a mix of 6th and 7th grade. She also has piano and dance. I haven't decided if they are going to try out for the play, which, if they made it, would mean Friday rehearsals 2-5 (at least on some days). We're not going to be in town on the audition day, so that may be a deal breaker anyway.

Well, at least it's all down now. I am just compiling my organizer pages now. We'll start after we get back from vacation. Therese and I want to start now!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Secret of Zoom

The Secret of Zoom is a delightful and engaging book, appropriate for ages eight and up (of course, the parent is always the final arbiter of what constitutes appropriate reading material for her child!). In the fictional and slightly dark town of Dorf, the central town family is the Loompski clan. Although Leo Loompski, a scientific genius and founder of Loompski Laboratories, has not been seen for years, his brother Lenny carries on the Loompski legacy by heading up the family business and endowing the primary town charity. The town orphanage seems to have a never-ending supply of orphans (does this make them Dorphans?). On the surface, they seem happy. They compose elegiac poems and songs to their benefactor, and they eagerly (?) volunteer for work duty in the hills above Dorf. The problem is, those who volunteer never come back.

Christina Adenoid is insatiably curious about several things (sadly for her scientist father, employed by Loompski Laboratories, math is not one of them): what really happened to her geologist mother who was blown up in a Loompski Lab accident when she was just a toddler? What really lies up in the Starkian Mountains, guarded by a fence and a sign "Trespassers Will Be Boiled"? What is the real story behind the orphans of Dorf? Fortunately, Taft, one of the Dorphans, escapes from the orphanage to help her answer each of these questions. Behind all of the mysteries? The Secret of Zoom!

Apart from one potentially troubling image (don't want to give anything away - feel free to email me if you have questions) that won't stop me from giving this book to my newly nine year-old daughter to read, this book is a treat for children and parents alike. Resourceful children, creepy adults, daring rescues, and magical machines: all are present in this charming children's novel.