Jun 182015
 

Tapestry of Grace vs Sonlight

Are you trying to decide between Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight? Both programs provide tremendous exposure to literature. In addition, they both integrate history, geography, and Bible and each is written from a Christian perspective. Here are some major items to consider in comparing Sonlight to Tapestry of Grace.

Similarities

Both Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight

  • Present history in the context of a Christian worldview
  • Use Living books. What is a Living book?
  • Include some books that are not Christian
  • Combine history, geography, Bible, and literature studies
  • Have helpful and friendly user forums and excellent customer support
  • Provide curriculum for all ages

Some of the differences between Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight are shown below:

Tapestry of Grace Sonlight
Weekly reading assignments Daily reading assignments
Requires more teacher planning Requires minimal teacher planning
Lampstand Press sells only the TOG year plans. (They don’t sell any books or any materials from other curricular areas such as math, science or grammar). Sonlight is a Complete curriculum provider and sells packages that include the literature books as well as other materials.
Classical curriculum using 4 year chronological history cycle Not classical, can be adapted for chronological history
Strong emphasis on God’s providence through history Great emphasis on missions
Includes extensive ideas for hands-on activities Doesn’t provide specific ideas for hands-on activities
Each year plan can be used for each child up to three times (between 1st grade and 12th grade), but additional books are needed for each level. Each core (year) curriculum package can be used only once per child, but can be reused with younger children
The entire program consists off 4 year-plans covering all of world history 13 different core packages (excluding 2 additional preschool cores) are available.
Entire family can use the same year plan Students close in age can be combined in one core

If you are seeking a history curriculum that integrates other subjects as both Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight do, the choice between these programs is a matter of personal preference. I have specifically NOT provided a list of pros and cons concerning these curricula, because the things that I deem to be positives, might be considered negatives by someone else. I hope this comparison aids you in your decision. Be sure to visit the above links to learn more about these curricula.

Aug 232012
 

Every year I make a list of topics to study with the kids, and every year I include hymn study. And every year I fail to get it done.

That doesn’t mean that my children do not know any hymns. They actually know many, many hymns. In fact, many more than I did as a child. Almost seven years ago, we left the mega-church that we had been members of for 5 years. (Actually my husband had been a member his entire life until he got married and moved away. Then we moved back and joined the same church.) One of the things that we were looking for in a new church was one that used hymns in worship. It didn’t have to be only hymns, but we were looking for a more traditional worship style. The Lord did lead us to a church that, among other things we were looking for, used hymns for congregational singing. This long digression can be summed up with, my children know hymns, but we have failed to learn about the hymns and hymn writers.

One of the reasons I think I’ve failed at implementing hymn study is that I tend to make it too complicated. This year I received a great resource that is a super simple way to learn more about hymns. The book is Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers by Douglas Bond. The book, published by Christian Liberty Press, is a fictional account of Annie and her brother Drew. While spending the summer in England with their parents (who really aren’t part of the story), they meet an old man affectionately known as Mr. Pipes. Mr. Pipes is an organist in the village and is very knowledgeable about church history and specifically hymn writers.

Annie and Drew quickly become friends with Mr. Pipes as he teaches them to fish, row a boat, and takes them on the train to London. During their visits, Mr. Pipes relates the story of a different hymn writer such as Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, John Newton, or William Cowper. Mr. Pipes is a great story-teller and the children are very interested to hear his tales.

Along with presenting the stories of the hymn writers, Annie and Drew are also growing in their faith. Their priorities and behaviors change from the beginning to the end of the book. There is evidence of spiritual growth in the characters.

I received this book with the intention of having my 12 year old daughter, Anna, read it. But now that I’ve read it, I have changed my mind. I would like to use it as a read-aloud for the whole family. Even though the book is recommended for grades 7-10, the story is engaging enough for younger children especially since they’re familiar with many of the hymns discussed. I like the idea of teaching about the hymn writers using a living book instead of just facts about the hymn writers. And rather than get all strict with it and making a schedule and finding extra things to go along with the study, I am allowing us the freedom to just read the book! (Shocking, huh? If you’re reading this and have never made plans that you didn’t use or purchased curriculum and never opened it, then you probably don’t understand what I’m saying at all. But I am finding it necessary to simplify. And I’m finding that simple is often better anyway!)

Another reason that I am not having Anna read it is that I received the pdf of the book. I own a Kindle (the old style with the keyboard) which I love. However, Anna doesn’t like it very much and much prefers “real” books. To  further complicate matters, this book is not in Kindle format (.mobi) but pdf. That means that one page of the book appears on the Kindle screen (which is smaller than the book). Thankfully, the pages in the book are not 8-1/2 x 11, but the words are just barely large enough for me to read in this format. (I do not need reading glasses yet, but I suspect they may be on the horizon.) Anna suffers from frequent headaches, and I fear that this type size would bring on a headache.

I am really pleased with this book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a gentle way to study hymns and hymn writers. There are also 3 other titles: Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation, Mr. Pipes Comes to America, and  The Accidental Voyage: Discovering Hymns of the Early Centuries. All the books are available from Christian Liberty Press. I’m personally tempted by this complete set of all 4. The pdf version of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is $8.79.

Please visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew to read more reviews of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.

 

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Disclosure: I received a pdf copy of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Oct 122011
 

I confess.

There are days when I wonder why I am homeschooling. I look around and feel discouraged at my imperfect children.

I feel like everyone else’s children are enjoying learning and mine (especially the boys) still complain.

As I type this, I realize how ridiculous these feelings are. I know that other families struggle. Unfortunately when I’m feeling down, I’m not thinking rationally.

Look at this beautiful mess that my oldest left out yesterday.

 

The 2 books on the couch are Matthew Henry’s Commentary and the Comparative Study Bible.

He got interested in the chronology of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection and started studying it on his own. He searched through all the gospels and even looked up the words in Greek.

I need to remember this the next time I’m discouraged.

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Sep 062011
 

What is the first book of the Bible a new believer should read?

I’ve always heard you should start with the Gospel of John. But in Begin, a new book from New Leaf Publishing Group, Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge suggest starting somewhere else: Genesis.

I agree with their logic.

In Genesis we learn the origin of the world. Genesis is where we learn how sin entered the world. We see in Genesis why we need a Savior!

But rather than starting in Genesis and reading straight through the Bible, Begin suggests a different Bible reading plan. After laying the foundation in Genesis 1-11 and Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments), it then moves on to the entire Gospel of John, Romans, and finally Revelation 21-22. Included in the book is the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the above scriptures. On each page there is also a fact or a cross reference or two. There is room along the edge of the pages for taking notes, and there are also thinking questions throughout the book.

In between the different sections of scripture are short summaries of what happened historically between the two portions of scripture. For example, between Genesis 11 and Exodus 20 there is “A Brief Review of History from Abram to Moses and the Ten Commandments”. These summaries are brief, but would be especially helpful to someone who does not have much prior knowledge of the Bible.

At the end of the book are 2 additional sections that are very informative:

What Does It Mean to Be Saved?

Ten Basics to Boldly Proclaim a Biblical Worldview

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I think this book provides an excellent start to studying the Bible. I appreciate the fact that this Bible Study is in fact studying the Bible. So many Bible studies contain very little Scripture, and have in its place man’s opinions of Scripture. Begin would make a great gift for new believers, seekers, or anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the Gospel.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Jul 312011
 

The Bible exhorts us to tell our children about the things that God has done. One example is in Joshua after the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What [mean] these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.

Joshua 4:21-22

Why did God do this?

Because He wants us to remember that He takes care of us.

The last two weeks have been a very vivid reminder to me, that God does indeed take care of us.

Two weeks ago my husband was very seriously considering taking a part-time job delivering newspapers. I was not at all excited about the prospect, but there seemed no other way to meet the needs of our family. (I could go into a discussion of needs versus wants here. There are certainly things that we consider needs that aren’t technically needed for our survival. And the needs that my husband was concerned about were things that we don’t need now, but will definitely need in the future that we haven’t been able to save for. Cars for example.) He is a planner and he recognized that we needed more income to provide for these upcoming needs.

Like I said, I was not at all happy with the prospect. The combination of having to work 365 days per year and having to leave at 2 am didn’t seem like a good idea. He agreed, but he didn’t see another way. He was planning to ride along on the route to check it out, but the driver never called him back.

The next day an old friend called him and told him about a position that had just opened up where he teaches. (My husband is a chemistry teacher.) The position was for a coordinator position of one the academies at a technology magnet school. It is a 12 month position instead of a 10 month one. He decided to apply.

To make a very long story short, he got the job!

It’s going to be a lot of work for him teaching classes he’s never taught. It will mean no more summers off. He also has to go to a training class for 2 weeks. But we are so thankful that God supplied our family’s need in such a tangible way. It’s another chapter in the story of how God has worked in our family that we can review with our children.

Do you talk about God’s provision with your children? Do you keep a journal of the things God has done? I would like a more concrete way of recording events like this.

This post is a part of The Christian Home Issue 26, posted weekly at The Legacy of Home.

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Jun 272011
 

Not every homeschooler chooses to homeschool for religious reasons. However, a great many homeschoolers do choose to homeschool so that they can teach their children from a Christian worldview. But after finishing high school, where should a young Christian continue his education if he chooses to do so?

State University?

Community College?

Christian College?

There are plenty of options available. Many Christian parents choose to send their children to secular universities, believing their children have been trained in the faith and are ready to face the worldly influences found there. But others feel that a Christian college is a better choice for their child.  At a Christian college their student will be surrounded by other believers. He will have Christian professors who believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God and who will help to strengthen his faith.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, it’s probably less often the case than you think.

What do you think of when you think of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton? Elite private schools? Does anyone still remember that these Ivy League schools were founded on Christian principles? Already Compromised begins with a description of the compromise that led to the secularization of these schools. Are today’s Christian colleges going down the same path?

Ken Ham and Greg Hall with Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group sent surveys to presidents, vice-presidents, religion and science department chairmen at Christian colleges nationwide. These surveys contained a variety of questions like:

Do you believe in the inspiration of Scripture?

Do you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture?


What does your institution teach about the Bible?


Do you believe in God creating the earth in six literal 24-hour days?


The answers, found in Already Compromised, may surprise you.

I cannot say that I was surprised at the percentages of those surveyed who do not believe in a six literal 24-hour days of creation. What was surprising to me was the inconsistency in the survey answers. There were people who answered that they believed the Bible was literally true, but did not believe in a literal interpretation of creation. The book contains many other examples of these inconsistencies.

The book is more than the results of a survey however. It is a call to action. How did we get to this point? What should the church be doing? What questions should we ask before we send our sons and daughters to a Christian college? How should we teach them before they leave? There is even a chapter written directly to the student.

This book has forced me to start thinking about some of the tough decisions we’ll be facing in a few years. Our oldest son is going into the 8th grade. It doesn’t seem like college is that close, but I know that the next 5 years will pass quickly. We’ve spent more of our time worrying about how we’re going to pay for college than thinking about where he should attend. I’ve also got a renewed vision to make sure that my children understand what we believe and why we believe it. This book is a must read if you’re considering Christian colleges for your children.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review from New Leaf Publishing . I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

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Jun 102011
 

 

Everyone knows that dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans, right?

If humans and dinosaurs had lived at the same time there should be some evidence and there isn’t…or is there?

What exactly are dragons?

Are they a mythical creature that never really existed? Or could they be (or have been) real?

Dragons – Legends & Lore of Dinosaurs published by Master Books, seeks to answer these questions. This book describes various dragon legends from around the world and historical eyewitness accounts. It also shows where dragons are mentioned in the Bible as well as in several Biblical commentaries.

From that description alone, I would be interested in reading this book, but I haven’t mentioned the best part.

The sturdy, over-sized book is filled with flaps to open, envelopes containing removable documents, and miniature books. It is completely irresistible for a child! (I highly recommend keeping it out of young children’s reach for that reason. You’re not going to want this book damaged.) The illustrations are beautiful, and the text is full of interesting facts about both dragons and dinosaurs.  My photo doesn’t do it justice, but does at least show some of the features of the inside of the book. The left flap is opened in the picture. In the upper right corner is a miniature book labeled Eyewitness Accounts and Encounters.

It is a fantastic resource and I highly recommend purchasing it for your home library. It is available for purchase from New Leaf Publishing Group, from on-line retailers like ChristianBook.com, or your local Christian book store. The retail price is $17.99.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Dragons – Legends & Lore of Dinosaurs to review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Oct 102010
 

My younger children both get completely absorbed in what they watch on television. That is a good thing when I need time to work uninterrupted with my older children. I know they’re paying attention, because they will repeat things that they’ve heard on videos that they watch. So I try to be especially careful in what I allow them to watch, and how much they’re allowed to watch. (And that really should be the case whether they repeated what they heard or not, but it does serve as a good reminder of what little sponges children are.)

That’s why I was happy to receive Trusting in the Shepherd by DaySpring to review. This 40 minute DVD contains 2 different stories about facing fear and trusting in Jesus. In addition to the stories, there are a sing-along song and extra features included. Both stories and the song teach Psalm 23:4.

What did the kids think?

My almost 4 year old daughter really enjoyed the video. She liked the stories, the cute sheep characters, and the songs.

My 8-1/2 year old son watched it as well. He also liked it, but it was a little too young for him, and he tends to be on the immature side.

What did I think?

The animation was average to above average. It wasn’t Pixar movie animation quality, but it was typical for a kids’ cartoon show. The characters were cute. I liked how the story included the children talking with their parents about their fears. I thought the stories were ones that children could relate to. I wouldn’t consider this to be a kid’s video that an adult would enjoy watching, but I didn’t find it to be annoying either.

The songs were catchy tunes. One song was played with guitar accompaniment, while the sing-along song had a jazzy feel to it. I don’t consider either of them to be rock music, but they are both contemporary sounding songs. The scripture quoted was not in the King James. We are not KJV Only, but we do mainly use the King James Bible and do all our memory work in King James, so the video won’t be particularly helpful to us in memorizing Psalm 23:4. I mention both of these issues because I know that different Christian families have different opinions on music and Bible translations.

Overall, I would recommend the video for children between the ages of 2 and 6. I would consider purchasing other videos in the series. You can find more information about Trusting in the Shepherd, including where to purchase it, at www.ReallyWoollyKids.com or on the Really-Woolly-Kids Facebook Page.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Aug 132010
 

What’s in the Bible? is the new video series by the creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer. The series uses puppets and music to teach Biblical truths. I received the latest DVD,Wanderin’ in the Desert from Tyndale House Publishers to review. Wanderin’ in the Desert contains 2 25 minute episodes that cover the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These episodes discuss difficult Biblical topics like the difference between the ritual law and the ethical law (I have heard the alternate terms moral law and ceremonial law.) and why some of the punishments for breaking God’s law seem so severe. These are topics that many Christian adults do not understand, so I was impressed to see these covered in a video for kids.

My 8 year old son and 4 year old daughter both enjoyed watching the videos. They found them both funny and entertaining. My 2 older children (10 and 12) consider themselves too old for puppets, so they didn’t watch them. I found the videos to be well thought out and contained good explanations of difficult topics. But I do have a couple of problems with them.

First, I think that the content and the presentation are a bit mismatched. My 8 year old son liked the puppets, but he didn’t really grasp many of the concepts the video was trying to teach. For example, several days after watching one of the earlier DVD’s (I received a Advance Viewer Copy of DVDs 1 and 2 as well.) he randomly said “Septuagint”. I was initially impressed until I asked him what the Septuagint was. He said it was what that pirate said and the parrot thought he was sneezing.

That leads me to my second concern. The videos are a bit too silly for my tastes. I know, what did I expect from the creator of Veggie Tales? It may be that I am changing, because Veggie Tales never bothered me. But I found these to be borderline irreverent. I am not in any way saying the Phil Vischer is being purposefully irreverent. I was thoroughly impressed by his explanation of the vision God had given him for Veggie Tales and how he lost sight of that in the midst of their popularity. This series was a return to his original vision. While I really appreciate his intent with this series, I don’t plan on purchasing them for my children.

I imagine that I am in a minority with this opinion. Before purchasing you can watch short sample of the first video here.

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase through the link, I will receive a small commission.

Sep 202008
 
P1070572
Here are the basic materials and methods we used to construct our tabernacle model. I wasn’t able to find any free instructions on-line. I have a friend who told me that they had made one last year and had used the lid of a copy paper box and old-fashioned clothespins.  We started with that as our idea and went from there.
Materials:
Lid to a copy paper box
60 old fashioned clothespins
Fabric scraps in off-white, blue, purple, and red 
Paper lunch bag 
Craft sticks (regular and mini)
Gold paint
Bronze paint
Tacky glue
Gold pipe cleaner
Assorted wood pieces for the tabernacle furnishings
Small box with lid for Ark of the Covenant
We purchased  all the wood pieces from A.C. Moore.  I’m sure we could have come up with some less expensive materials.  Many of the things came in packages with several so at least we do have leftover pieces for later creative projects.
Assembly:
Altar: 1-3/4 in wood cube painted with bronze paint
Laver: I honestly don’t know what it is. We found it at A.C. Moore. We painted it bronze, and then blue on top to represent water.
 
Table of showbread: 1 cm cube with a mini wooden sign glued on and painted gold.
Altar of incense: 1 cm cube with a wooden wheel glued on top and painted gold.
Lampstand: Cut a gold pipe cleaner into 4 pieces.  Wrapped 3 of the pieces around one straight piece in the center.  Stuck gold beads on 7 ends of pipe cleaner. Stuck in wooden wheel (painted gold) for a stand.
Ark of the Covenent: Painted a small lidded box gold.  Inside are 2 wooden tablets painted gray (could make out of clay), a Tinker toy end piece for the jar of manna, and a small twig from the yard for Aaron’s rod.
Tabernacle: We constructed a frame from craft sticks.  We glued a mini stick at the top between 2 regular sticks which  were at an angle.  We made 4 of those, then attached them together by gluing mini craft sticks along the top.  I should have taken pictures of the process.
We spent about a week on the project but not a lot of time on it each day. We spent most of the time painting pieces (especially the 60 clothespins!). It was kind of a pain to clean it up and drag it back out, but it was definitely worth it.  I had really hoped that TOG would help me to spark an interest in history in my children.  So far it hasn’t disappointed!